No country (music) for old men

The Bellamy Brothers score big-time with an instant classic.



Seeing as how the song’s title is a play on the title of one of the best movies EVAR, plus a cameo from one of the last true country artists before the country music thing veered off the road completely and into the MOR pop-rock ditch, I ain’t finding anything not to like here. Background deets on this superlative tune:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Country music icons, the Bellamy Brothers and John Anderson, pair for a tribute to the genre’s past in “No Country Music For Old Men.” The video, shot by Derrek Kupish of dkupish productions, captures the Bellamys and Anderson lamenting on the loss of the old guard interspersed with shots of Nashville’s historic landmarks and murals honoring the legends lost.

“No Country Music For Old Men” was included on the Bellamy Brothers’ EP, Bucket List, released in July of 2020. Written by David Bellamy, the song was inspired by Kenny Rogers’ death. Bellamy explained, “Bucket List was meant to be light-hearted and up-tempo. We figured lockdown was depressing enough without lamenting more about hard times. Then Kenny Rogers passed away on March 20, and I wrote the song that night. It felt like in addition to the pandemic, there was a cloud over country music at that moment.”

According to David, he kept hearing Anderson’s voice in his head singing the lines, so he and Howard decided to invite their longtime friend to join them on the track. Anderson, who released Years, a similarly reflective project in 2020, shared, “I’ve known David and Howard for over 40 years. I have always been a fan and loved their music and their style.  It’s an honor to work with them and we always have a great time.”

When the stay-at-home orders took effect in March, the Bellamy Brothers and Anderson were on the road with Blake Shelton for his Friends And Heroes Tour. The Bellamys returned to their Florida homestead where their hit reality series “Honky Tonk Ranch” is filmed and started working on Bucket List. The EP featured five additional songs such as the lead single “Rednecks (Lookin’ for Paychecks),” a timely take on the current situation, and “Lay Low, Stay High,” which ties into their new partnership with the Florida-based medical marijuana company, Trulieve, on their flower product line Old Hippie Stash. Season two of “Honky Tonk Ranch” recently wrapped up on Circle and included footage from the Friends And Heroes Tour and appearances from several of the duo’s legendary friends. 

As for that Anderson cameo, you old dogs like myself might recall his first smash hit.



I remember thinking when I first heard this song back in the early ’80s that John Anderson had to be one of the very last Nashville phenoms who really, truly got what good old country sangin’ was supposed to be all about. He ain’t the handsome young rake he once was, of course, but that’s all right. As long as people like him and the Bellamys, bless their hearts, keep throwing us old farts a tasty bone now and then like the above, getting old and decrepit ain’t gonna be ALL bad. All of which justifies throwing another unforgettable Music City classic out here for y’all.



Is it just me, or are these interminable fucking YouTube ads becoming just INCREDIBLY obnoxious? Jeez-O-Pete. Extry-special thanks to our friends at GFZ for the Bellamy Bros steer.

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GOOD GAWD, Y’ALL!

Tonight’s Tune Damage embed is another beloved classic from my misspent youth.



Even in the eclectic, anything-goes era when it was released, Edwin Starr’s version of “War” managed to not sound quite like anything else on the radio at the time, a genuine standout. Mark-1, Mod-0 antiwar-shitlib sentiment lyrically, of course, but I never was bothered by that; Edwin Starr’s powerful, rock ’em-sock ’em, old-school-R&B vocal performance simply flattens all other considerations. Plus, this is Soul Train we’re talking about here, man—the real-deal original, the likes of which have never been equalled and will never be seen again. Taken altogether, there just ain’t no gainsaying this vid far as I’m concerned. The raw data:

Motown hitmakers Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong wrote this song. Starr began his career recording for Ric-Tic Records, a Detroit label that was a rival to Motown. In 1968, Motown bought Ric-Tic, which gave Starr access to their writers and producers.

This is a protest song about the Vietnam War, although it makes a broader statement of the need for harmony in our everyday lives.

“War” was one of the first Motown songs to make a political statement. The label had always been focused on making hit songs, but around this time Motown artists like The Temptations and Marvin Gaye started releasing songs with social commentary, many of which were written by Whitfield.

The Temptations were the first to record this; it was included on their 1970 album Psychedelic Shack. Motown had no intention of releasing it as a single, but many in the protest movement, especially college students, made it clear that the song would be a big hit if it was. Motown head Berry Gordy had other plans for The Temptations and didn’t want them associated with such a controversial song, so he had Starr record it and his version was released as a single. Starr didn’t have as big a fan base to offend.

This song has a very distinct tambourine part, played by percussionist Jack Ashford. He was one of the Motown Funk Brothers who played on the track; bass player Bob Babbitt and guitarist Dennis Coffey were also part of it.

Coffey came up with the psychedelic guitar sound Norman Whitfield used on “Cloud Nine” by The Temptations, which marked a musical shift for the label. In a Songfacts interview with Coffey, he said: “Norman wanted to change the sound of Motown, and I was the guy that helped him do it. He wanted to get into that protest and social consciousness stuff, so I did that fuzz tone thing up high on ‘War.'”

Starr added the interjections “good God y’all” and “absolutely nothing,” which became some of the most famous ad-libs in music history.

Starr won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Male Vocal for this song.

Starr died of a heart attack in 2003. He was 61.

Starr’s rendition was released in ’70, rocketing straight up to Number One and holding firm there for about a month. I was 10 years old myself and well remember what a monster hit “War” was; it was absolutely all over AM radio that summer, which in those glorious days was exactly where any artist and record label needed a new release to be if it was to ever have a hope of amounting to anything. As you might expect, I got the .45 from my uncle’s drugstore just as soon as I could get my hands on it. Wish I still had it, too; God only knows what it would be worth on eBay now.

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Hey brother, can you spare a Doobie (Brother)?

Was listening to something called the IHeartRadio ICONS Event earlier, which featured an interview and live performance by the Doobie Brothers as promo for the recently-released album LIBERTÉ. The first tune, “Better Days,” was pretty much MEH, or so I felt. But after a little more Q&A, the boys lit into this one, and…



Not bad a-tall for a buncha old geezers, no? A bit more MOR than I usually like ’em, but still…not bad.

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Local color

Even though I’m not their biggest fan by any stretch, I still love this.

Stop us if you’ve heard this one, but rock-and-roll royalty Mick Jagger walks into a dive bar in Charlotte, North Carolina, and no one seems to notice. According to the Rolling Stone frontman’s Twitter account, that’s just what happened last night at the iconic Thirsty Beaver Saloon. Jagger stands in front of the storied establishment, sipping a beer, and the other customers aren’t even looking in his direction. “Out and about last night in Charlotte, NC,” the post reads.

The Rolling Stones play the Bank of America stadium this evening, so presumably Jagger had some time to kill last night and grabbed a brew at the Plaza Midwood bar. The Thirsty Beaver is an unpretentious establishment well known for refusing to sell to developers building up the area. The tiny bar is now surrounded massive apartment complexes, looking much like the house from the Pixar film Up.

The Thirsty Beaver has been a fixture of the neighborhood since 2008 and remains a spot for live music, cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon, and folks having conversations with their friends and neighbors — and a the occasionally international rock star.

Here’s a pic Tweeted by Jagger his own self:


Further deets, followed by an explanation for why I’m even posting on this in the first place.

He looked like any other ball-cap clad, jeans-wearing North Carolinian as he stood at a high-table and quaffed a brew at one of Charlotte’s most famous dive bars Wednesday night.

No adoring fans to shrug off, no security guards by his side as Rolling Stones front man Mick Jagger enjoyed the night air on the patio of the Thirsty Beaver Saloon on Central Avenue.

Several other patrons seated at a nearby table and bench seemed to ignore the rock ‘n’ roll icon. They looked the other way as someone snapped a photo that Jagger later sent onto Instagram and Twitter.

“Out and about last night in Charlotte NC,” Jagger wrote.

Did Jagger rent out the bar, and were those “patrons” his crew?

“Absolutely not,” Brian Wilson, co-owner of The Thirsty Beaver, told The Charlotte Observer on Thursday.

Turns out, the four or five patrons pictured in Jagger’s photo had no idea it was him, Wilson said.

The bar had no advance notice that Jagger would drop by, and even the bartender had no clue it was him when she served him a beer, Wilson said.

Jagger appeared to be drinking a Miller Lite or a “Mick Ultra,” err, Michelob Ultra, but Wilson said he didn’t know yet what brand the rock star ordered.

Wilson had already gone home to put his young daughter to bed when Jagger showed up at about 10 p.m., he said.

Now, among the several things that make this so amusing to me is the fact that I know the Beaver and Brian quite well. Admittedly, the Beaver has never been a preferred hangout of mine, which isn’t so much that there’s anything in particular wrong with the joint, mind. It’s more because it gets so dang elbow-to-elbow packed on the weekends. I just never could deal with that. Doesn’t stop most of my friends from flocking there, especially on their Sunday afternoon biker gatherings.

Brian and his brother have a band that has done shows with my own plenty of times over the years, and Bri is a-okay with me, although there was some mild to moderate aggro from his brother towards me for a while there that I never really understood but which seems now to have abated, near as I can tell. Whatever the problem might have been, it was something I never even tried to figure out; if you’re hoping to find someone who’ll tell you I’m a grade-A prick and an asshole, you won’t have to look very hard or long before you do.

That never has bothered me, and never will; as the frontman of a fairly well-known band, I accepted that sort of hassle from the earliest days as just part of the game. My feeling was and remains that a person fragile enough to let such silliness get under his skin is a person who has absolutely no business ever setting foot on a stage in the first damned place. Show biz is NOT known for being kind to the delicate, the diffident, or the uncertain. An iron, unshakable confidence is a non-negotiable requirement of the job, any deficiency or even momentary flagging of which Show Biz will immediately seize upon and use to viciously beat you with, until you’re stone cold dead.

Anyhoo, the Wilson boys have another place on Monroe Rd across from Lupies: the Tipsy Burrow, which I like a lot better than the Beaver, having a lot more room to move around unmolested as it does. Really good food at the Burrow too, which the Beaver doesn’t offer at all. Onwards.

Wilson said he could only guess that someone suggested Thirsty Beaver because Jagger would be able to drink in peace there, given its typically eclectic mix of patrons who would likely leave such a musical legend alone.

“Everybody’s used to it being an eclectic place,” Wilson said.

But Mick Jagger??

Wilson said his bartender that night has come in for some good-natured ribbing.

“C’mon, Hayley, the greatest rock ‘n’ roll legend of all time?”

Heh. Hayley is a friend too, as it happens.

Years ago, Wilson said, Eric Clapton visited the now-defunct Double Door Inn music venue in Charlotte.

Yep, he did. Remember that Double Door business, gang. You will be seeing that material again.

“And we got Mick Jagger, so I think we did all right.”

Retired Observer sports columnist Tom Sorensen devilishly replied with a reference to another Stones hit.

“@MickJagger A man of wealth and taste,” Sorensen wrote.

Known Tom for many years as well. He was a colleague and friend of the band’s manager, Mike Evans, before Mike inexplicably decided to ruin his life by up and quitting his cushy, well-remunerated Charlotte Disturber sinecure to wantonly ravage his bank balance, his liver, and his personal reputation via going into the music biz.

I swear, it’s beginning to seem like Old Home week up in here, ain’t it?

On to the Double Door. Clapton did indeed famously show up and play a set there back in 1982, after headlining a concert at the old Coliseum on Independence, I believe. Now, by the late 80s the Double Door Inn had forged a stellar reputation for itself as one of the premier stops on what you might call the chitlin’ circuit for old-school trad blues bands. Autographed band photos covering every wall testify to a roster of legendary alumni that really has to be seen to be believed: Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown; Junior Walker; Levon Helm; JJ Cale; The Fabulous Thunderbirds; and even Stevie Ray Vaughan, to name but a few.

And, beginning in late 1989, the DDI also became the home base for a fledgling local RAB outfit yclept the Belmont Playboys. Owned and operated by a soft-spoken but savvy Greek feller name of Nick Karres, the place was blessed with a warm, clear, full-throated sound both onstage and off, so good I’d put it in the top two or three best out of all the places I’ve played. There was even a documentary movie made about the Dirty Floor, including footage from the final show before it shut down. Yes, the BPs are in it.

And now we come to it at long last. See, Jagger is by no means the only instance of world-renowned rock and roll royalty gracing a local institution on the QT. During the Southeastern leg of their Black Ice tour, a certain little band from Australia you may have heard of settled themselves in for a couple weeks hereabouts, putting out from CLT for several shows ranging from Raleigh down to ATL. And on their days off, the boys got into the habit of dropping in at a certain legendary blues venue in the late afternoon/early evening for the daily Jeopardy Happy Hour ritual to restore the tissues and recharge the batteries via quaffing a cold one or three amongst the handful of grizzled regulars.

I didn’t learn about AC/DC’s daily pilgrimage to the DDI until well after the fact, which enraged me so thorougly I immediately called Nick to scream sundry epithets in his ear, all based around the “WHY THE HELL DIDN’T YOU TELL ME…” theme, until I was hoarse and out of breath. I can’t remember any specifics of Nick’s response, other than a gruff laugh and a “Idunno,” which I see to this day in my mind’s eye accompanied by his characteristic apathetic shrug.

I don’t care about missing Mick’s visit, honestly. But missing the chance to kick casually back with Angus, Malcolm, and Brian to share a friendly tipple and a few road-dog stories frosts my nuts blue to this very day. I’ve told Nick again and again that I’ll never forgive him for it, and by God I mean it, too.

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Embedophenia

Tonight’s installment is from another band I never did have a whole lot of use for, but this one is…well, it’s simply monstrous.



That’s some mighty tasty harp playin’ right there. Whatever your opinion of J Geils might be, there’s no gainsaying Magic Dick. He’s a true master of the beast—an instrument the bassist/harpist from a band we toured with (whose identity I shan’t reveal here, for their own protection) always called a “nigger whistle.” I laughed so hard I think I cracked a rib or two the first time I heard Joey say that.

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RIP Charlie Watts

A bit belated, I know, but still. One of the all-time great drummers just shook these mortal coils to join Heaven’s Own Band.

In a previous piece, I described Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham as the overall rock drummer par excellence. Extraordinarily dynamic, Bonham had a lot of gears. He could play louder and heavier than anyone, but could also finesse quiet passages, zig-zag between funk and reggae and swing, and, well, you get the picture.

Charlie was a different sort of drummer, at least while playing with the Rolling Stones. If Bonham was a six-gear, $100,000, 230 horsepower, hot-rodded Harley (with Batmobile-style mods like a smoke-blower, mini-machine guns, and oil-slick dispenser), Charlie was your English grandfather’s vintage Raleigh bicycle. It never broke. It was easy to maintain. You could cruise along on it all day long year after year, decade after decade. It had only one gear, but for a bicycle, it was the perfect gear. And it is with drummers and vehicles as it is for everything else: horses for courses. Which one’s best depends on what you need.

Simple, steady, rock-solid—that was Charlie Watts in a silver-sparkle Ludwig nutshell, and is exactly why I always loved his playing. No flash, no trash, just a backbeat you can feel deep in your soul, if you have any at all. The very best rock and roll drummers are like that, or so I believe. I never have been just a huge Stones fan, I can take ’em or leave ’em alone, but I DO love me some Keef, and some Charlie too.

No eight-bazillion flavors of crash cymbals; no racks-o-toms surrounding him; no gongs behind him, nor tympani he might hit one precisely (1) time over the course of a two-hour set; no synchronized kick-drum pedals by the dozen, when you only got two feets to play ’em with anyway. Just a simple trap kit, a no-nonsense, smack-it-silly snare-drum crack, and…well, just sheer nonchalant elegance, really.

I saw Buddy Rich a couple times years ago, and he was pretty much the same way, at least as far as his bare-bones kit went. The nonchalance and elegance…ehh, not so much; Rich’s facial expressions alone were absolutely maniacal, truly a sight to behold. Both times I saw him, he was sweat-drenched and purple-faced from early into the set, and he weren’t no spring chicken by then either. The energy level and overall vibe he exuded was powerful, not something easily caged or controlled. Joyful too, which I didn’t expect, having heard the stories and the infamous recordings confirming all the rumors of what a total bastard he was to work for, onstage and off. It was a little like watching a precocious teen on his first trip to the titty bar or something.

Anyhoo, back to Charlie.

First, you might never guess, listening to his recorded Rolling Stones drum performances, that Charlie was a precocious jazz drummer. With the Stones, he was a paragon of percussive minimalism. In fact, I’m not sure there’s a single drum fill on any Stones song a five year old couldn’t play.

But that’s no sleight. What matters is playing the right thing—not the complicated thing—and as it happened, Charlie always played the right thing. He played what he played because that’s what he should have played in the Rolling Stones song he was playing. That’s what good musicians do, after all.

Bingo. I’m reminded of something I saw in the Creem mag letters section soon after Van Halen had hit big with their debut album, wherein an EVH fanboy got himself all worked up and slobbery over Eddie’s otherworldly virtuousity, which nobody was trying to argue with anyway. He ended his long, effusive rant thusly: “Why play three notes when you can squeeze in ten?” Which flabby sentiment one of the editors blandly eviscerated with one of the pithiest yet most profound comebacks I ever did see, one that’s stuck with me ever since: Why play ten notes when you can say it in three?

I’m sure that statement went right over that kid’s head, but it’s a more important point than most non-musician types might realize. In all pop music, the Thing, the essential, crucial Thing, is to not overplay, to not burden a good tune with a lot of extraneous self-indulgence. Every talented professional will get his chance to show off his chops and shine a little, in every set he plays. But the REAL pros know that when you throw in everything but the kitchen sink in every damned song, you dull the impact of your sharpest material. First rule of showbiz, taught to me by my dad, my uncle, my early-childhood piano teacher, my church-choir director and high-school band director (same guy), and pretty much every musical mentor I’ve ever had: always, always, ALWAYS leave your audience wanting more. ALWAYS. Playing with discipline and restraint rather than letting it all hang out and flop around all over the place is one of the ways you do it.

This is the key to every Rolling Stones song. Charlies never breaks character. He starts the song, pumps along underneath, hits the fills where needed, but never plays a single gratuitous note. Then the song ends. Then he starts a new one. On it goes. As each song begins, everyone else hangs on, so to speak, to his chugging rhythm. It’s no wonder Keith once said “Charlie Watts is the Stones”.

Not to shortchange Charlie here, but there’s another great drummer who also lived his musical life by the less-is-more rule I gotta mention: Cheap Trick’s Bun E Carlos. Way underappreciated, in my view, but he’s another one who eschewed the flashy sturm und drang for just quietly doing an impeccable job of holding down the bottom end and keeping the proceedings rockin’ right along with neither fuss, muss, nor excess of any kind.

And this KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid, not their 1977 tour-mates) approach from the drummer of a band that, for years, opened every show with a fucking DRUM SOLO, mind you. I mean, NOBODY likes drum solos, ferchrissakes. Not even other drummers.



Ahh, but simplicity wasn’t always the Bun E Carlos Way. As with almost every aggressive but unschooled young hotshot whose only thought is to swing for the fences on every pitch, holding back was an acquired taste for Carlos too.

In 1973 or 1974, Carlos gained a major insight into his drumming. He told interviewer Robin Tolleson in 1986 that, like most young drummers, he was mostly interested in making his drumming stand out (“Where can I get the most licks in, and how cool can I sound”). While listening to a tape of a Cheap Trick concert, he realized he was rushing the beat and interfering in the performance of the other band members. Afterward, he began taping every Cheap Trick show to study his own drumming much more objectively, focusing on keeping time and supporting his bandmates. The band also played several gigs alongside Mahavishnu Orchestra about this time. Carlson says he learned a great deal about ambidextrous drumming from drummer Billy Cobham.

Making yourself a part of the music instead of trying to dominate or overwhelm it—recognizing that YOU must be all about the music, rather than the music being all about YOU—is a critical step in every player’s career, and sometimes a quite difficult one as well. Given my own background in hard rock/classic rock, I struggled mightily with it myself, and never really managed to master the thing. In fact, that’s why I never was able to play traditional blues at all well, and eventually just pretty much gave up on ever getting it right consistently, aside from the occasional (VERY occasional) fluke solo.

When it comes to restraint, blues is a particularly demanding genre, maybe the toughest of any modern popular music styles. It’s often said that blues lives and breathes in the spaces between the notes, not in the notes themselves. With blues guitar, what you DON’T play is every bit as important as what you DO play, very often moreso. Of equal importance is playing those notes correctly, what BB King meant when he used to talk about making his trademark single-note solos “sting.” Shaping the notes you play is paramount, and attack is all.

All of that is a little different for drummers than it is for guitarists, of course. Nonetheless, the basic principle of Less Is More still applies. Both Bun E Carlos and Charlie Watts spent long and notable careers providing an excellent education for all of us in how it was fucking done.

Update! Almost forgot another thing I always dug about Carlos: when onstage with Cheap Trick, he actually had a drum tech whose primary responsibility was this: whenever Bun E’s ever-present cigarette was near the end, said roadie would light up another, run out, and replace the expired butt with the fresh one, thus averting the unacceptable calamity of Carlos having to play without a gasper dangling from his lips. Too funny, that.

The (rock) gods that fell to earth

You’re never too old to rock and roll?Like HELL you ain’t. Although this could well be related more to general dissipation and decadence than strictly age.

Vince Neil performed on his first concert after pandemic his solo band headlined the Boone River Valley Festival in Iowa over the weekend. From what we could heard, it’s probably for the better that MÖTLEY CRÜE‘s stadium tour with DEF LEPPARD has been postponed to next year.

Vince’s band opened with “Looks That Kill” before jumping into “Dr. Feelgood,” and though Neil’s vocals on “Dr. Feelgood” weren’t “that bad,” it definitely wasn’t one of his strongest performances.

But everything started to fall apart when Neil launched into a cover of the THE BEATLES’ “Helter Skelter.” Vince seemed to forget the words to the Beatles classic, while struggling to keep up with his band’s down-tuned instrumentals.

One fan wrote: “I was there front row seen Vince 8 times worst performance EVER he was reading the lyrics that his roadie taped on the floor while Vince left for a well need break. NO WAY he could do a stadium tour.”

And then, while performing “Girls Girls Girls,” Vince finally gave up addressing to the crowd: “Hey guys… I’m sorry, you guys. It’s been a long time playin’. My f*ckin’ voice is gone… uhh… we love you and we uhh… hope to see you next time, man. Thank you.”

A pic from the show of the new, suckier Bloated Vince onstage:

Great SCOTT. Didn’t anybody learn ANYTHING from the ghastly trainwreck Elvis finished up as? Anything at ALL? Double-threat superstar Chris Jericho—whose rockin’ ‘n’ ‘rasslin’ combo, Fozzy Osbourne, had the best band name in all history before they had to change it—had a little something to say about Neil’s sorry state.

Asked how he felt after seeing the footage of Vince’s gig, Chris said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “It’s disappointing because I think everyone is pulling for Vince and they’re pulling for MÖTLEY CRÜE. And it’s gonna be tough doing [‘The Stadium Tour’ in 2022 with DEF LEPPARD, POISON and JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS] because Joan Jett, I don’t know if you’ve seen her recently, she’s freakin’ awesome. And Bret Michaels — I was just talking about POISON the other day; they’re gonna steal the show. You’d better watch out for POISON, ’cause Bret Michaels is the best frontman out of all of those bands. And then DEF LEPPARD’s DEF LEPPARD; they do what they do. And MÖTLEY CRÜE, they’re gonna have to really step it up.

Meh. I never liked Dead Leper (which is what my mom actually, literally believed their name to be back in their glory days, s’truth) at all. Poison simply sucks ass, hard; always did, always will. I see no reason to expect improvement now that they’re all decades down the road. As for Joan Jett—well, I can’t quite consider her as being on the same plane with the other dudes, exactly. No slight intended, mind, she’s just…different. Different musical style; different approach; different draw; different attitude and presentation; different everything. Anyhoo, Jericho goes on:

“I’m disappointed to see Vince the way he is, because I think if he lost some weight and did some training and came out there and was in some semblance of shape, a) his voice will sound better just from that alone, and b) people would go, ‘Holy shit! Did you see Vince Neil? He looks great.’

“I think if he really wants to do it, he could do it,” Jericho continued. “But I don’t know if he does. And that’s the thing. And it’s up to him. And either way, it’s MÖTLEY CRÜE — people are gonna go, and they’re gonna love it. But to me, as a performer, I would take that as a challenge: ‘I’ve got one year. Let’s do this. It’s been long enough. Let’s do this for real. Let me call Phil Collen and Duff McKagan and other rock guys that have got themselves into great shape: ‘How did you do it?”

From what I heard said on the radio the other day, Dead Leper’s likewise-flabby frontman (Joe something or other, I think) pushed Neil into purchasing a shit-ton of workout gear and the two gone-to-seed rawk icons have been hitting the iron pile together, trying to get themselves fit enough to take the stage without embarrassing everybody present.

I wish ’em all luck, with the training and the tour both. Crue I DID rather like; they were one of the very best of the 80s wave of hair-farmer bands, in my opinion. Out of a horde of mediocrities, also-rans, and wannabes from that era, Motley Crue lived the sex-drugs-rock and roll lifestyle to the absolute fullest, at great personal cost to some of them. But that’s just the way the dice roll in that game sometimes, and they knew what they were signing up for when they took their seats at the table and ante’d up. Love ’em or hate ’em, either as musicians or as people, nobody can ever say the Crue weren’t entertaining as hell, both onstage and off.

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THIS SHALL NOT STAND!!

I have been saddened and dismayed by the rather blasé response to Dusty Hill’s death from my local classic-rock radio stations, which I listen to sometimes while I’m out delivering food or picking up/returning the young ‘un or whatever. When Tom Petty died, it was pretty much a three-day orgy of tribute to the man, which I had no problem with. I mean, I was by no means a rabid Petty fan, but on the other hand he WAS a truly gifted songwriter, with a top-notch band behind him. All in all, Tom was okay with me, and he had a long string of hits, so give the man his due, right?

By contrast, I’ve heard very little at all in the way of mention, recognition, or repeat ZZ Top spins in the wake of Hill’s death apart from a brief notice that their tour dates would go on more or less as scheduled. Commercial-free two, three, or four-play song sets,, interviews with the band, obscure live tracks, all that sort of thing? Not on your life, or not that I’ve heard, anyway.

Well, screw that. When I said the other night that I considered ZZ to be one of the greatest rock bands that ever was or ever will be, I meant every word of it. So have yourselves a couple bonus slices of musical genius from that li’l ole band from Texas, gratis. No need to thank me, y’all.



For anybody who might not know already: the trademark deep, rough-and-ready grizzly-growl on their records is Billy Gibbons, who handled most of the lead vocal duties. The higher, somewhat smoother, sweeter croon swapping verses with Gibbons on some songs, and holding forth on its own on others, is Dusty Hill. Of course, that’ll be obvious in the video footage. But still.

I repeat: God rest him, and may His comfort and love bless Dusty’s bandmates, family, friends, and fans.

Just a li’l ole band from Texas

RIP Dusty Hill.

Dusty Hill, the bassist for blues-rock trio ZZ Top, has died. He was 72.

“We are saddened by the news today that our compadre, Dusty Hill, has passed away in his sleep at home in Houston, Texas,” wrote ZZ Top drummer Frank Beard and lead vocalist Billy Gibbons in a joint statement Wednesday, Rolling Stone reported. “We, along with legions of ZZ Top fans around the world, will miss your steadfast presence, your good nature, and enduring commitment to providing that monumental bottom to the ‘Top.’ We will forever be connected to that ‘Blues Shuffle in C.’ You will be missed greatly, amigo.”

Hill served as the still-active group’s bassist for over 50 years. In 2004, Hill was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the group, which was founded in 1969.

ZZ Top is, of course, the only band ever to have kept its original lineup for that many years. I’ve always loved ’em, and I still consider them one of the greatest rock and roll bands that ever has been, or ever will be. Out of so much exemplary material to choose from for posting purposes here tonight, I just gotta go with my young ‘un’s personal hands-down fave—not only because it really is a great song, but also because it features what might be the best opening stanza ever:

Well I was rollin’ down the road in some cold blue steel,
I had a bluesman in the back, and a beautician at the wheel

Schweeeeet.



Rest easy, Dusty, and thanks for all the choice tunes. You will be forever missed, and never forgotten.

3

Get hot or go home!

I originally appended this next selection to a previous post as an update, to wit:

Update! Related? Perhaps—if you down a few bourbon shots, squint a little bit, and look at it from the side.



Yet another from the CD I made that I didn’t think I’d find on YToob. I’ll probably end up working my way down through the whole songlist before I’m done here.

And with that, I’m off and running. So rather than keep updating a completely unrelated post with these nuggets, I made a new ‘un. Round two:



Although they make a quite admirable job of sounding like a ginyoowine original RAB outfit on this one, Jack Rabbit Slim is actually a contemporary band. From Ainglund, if I remember right. Which fits, actually; with almost all the European RAB combos, it’s either trad-rockabilly or full-on, balls-out psychobilly, a sound I just never have had a whole lot of use for.

Okay, Round Three coming shortly, you betcher.

Testing, testing

As mentioned the other night, I have now set up genre sub-categories under the Twangin’ and Bangin’ parent cat for our musical posts. Plus, in light of the recent spate of posts on the completely un-American trend towards risk-aversion, I also felt it necessary to create a new ‘un which I’m afraid is going to see a lot of hard use from now on: A nation of pussies. This post is just to make sure they’re working right, that’s all.

Update! Hmm, very interesting; the sub-cats don’t present either on the page or in my third-party posting software exactly like I thought they might, and don’t seem to appear in the sidebar “Categories” dropdown menu at all, or at least for me they don’t. But that’s okay, they seem to work just fine.

Peculiarities and odds bodkins

Burned a CD today for a girl I know to listen to in the car, consisting of some fairly obscure 50s RAB and R&B tracks. After playing it for my too-rapidly-maturing daughter (she’s in a training bra now? RUFKM?!? How the hell did THAT happen?) on the way back from picking her up earlier today, it hit me what a solid-gold mix this collection is. It’s been a while since I gave any of these tunes a listen; fact is, I had just about forgotten I even had ’em in the first place. It’s a mistake I don’t think I’m likely to be making again.

My rediscovery of these neglected favorites inspired me to check YouToob for ’em so as to share ’em here, although I didn’t have high hopes of finding them, there or anyplace else online. I mean, why would they be available on the Innarnuts, really? Rockabilly was never hugely popular its first time around, although admittedly it’s stood the test of time quite well. In fact, it’s almost certainly way more popular than it ever was back then. Despite that, though, the songs I was looking to unearth would amount to obscurity squared, so far underground that they were buried at a level far below the one where their underground genre was planted.

Imagine my surprise and delight, then, when I scored on the very first try, with The Moonlighters’ sizzling “Rock-A-Bayou Baby.”



This rockin’ and ravin’ Texas outfit is not to be confused with the far-more-famous Hank Ballard and the Midnighters, natch, who churned out hit after hit in the same pop-music era. Just thought I’d mention that, apropos of not much.

“Rock-A-Bayou Baby” is a graduate-level edjumacation in what it is that makes rockabilly truly “nature’s perfect music,” as my old friend and columnist for the P-burgh Tribune Mike Seate quipped in a BP’s review that still makes me blush a little bit. Mike had the right of it, too.

If it was possible to boil the whole RAB style down to a single word (it isn’t), that word would have to be frenzy. The thumping, humping slap bass; the slashing, clawing, primitive guitar attack; the feral howls, snarls, and yelps from the singer—these are all no more than typical of well-executed rockabilly, both then and now. The best rockabilly is like that: raucous, ferocious, untamed and untamable. Whatever rockabilly might lack in music-school technique and finesse it more than makes up for with triple-decker dollops of passion and intensity. The appeal is no doubt lost on most—I’ve always considered it a miracle that many if not most of the early RAB tracks were even recorded at all, much less pressed and released—but for the cats ‘n’ kittens who dig this stuff, there really isn’t anything else that comes close.

Another good example of what I’m talking ’bout:




“Love Me” is a lot better-known both in and out of rockabilly circles than “RockA-Bayou Baby” is, probably due to the Cramps covering it for one of their early singles, a version also included on the 1983 Off The Bone compilation. The blurb from the guy who posted the Phantom original on the ‘Toob says it well: Chaotic wonder by Jerry Lott a.k.a The Phantom, fun, furious, essential!!! Pretty much. “Chaotic wonder” nails it down clean and tight, if you ask me.

Okay, let’s try and dig up one more of these crazy diamonds on YT, shall we?

Searching…searching…

Okay, no way. I really can’t believe this.



This one is the aural analog to the famous “chicken” scene from Rebel Without A Cause, or maybe the “Paradise Road” drag-race scene from American Graffiti. Especially the end, when Harrison Ford dumps that Bowtie POS hard.

Anyhoo, there you have it: some hellraisin’, off the chain buck-wildness, from the most off the chain, buck-wildest musical genre there ever has been. Though it will surely sound odd to ears accustomed to modern popular music, it’s bound to grab at least some of you folks, or so I hope. And with that, I think I need to create a few sub-categories under our “Twangin’ and Bangin'” catch-all, maybe. T and B is getting kinda crowded, with a diversity of musical styles all tossed in together. A bit more specificity in there might come in handy someday, I think.

2

Different strokes

Heard tonight’s Tune Damage number on the car radio the other day. I’d forgotten how much I loved it, and have been singing it to (okay, at) the young ‘un ever since. She thinks Daddy is just too, too funny.




Joan Jett had a hit herself with a perfectly creditable cover of this one years ago, which I have no gripe at all with. But for me, there just ain’t no substitute for the original, baby.

Sly and the Family Stone was one of those genuinely innovative American outfits whose influence was wide, deep, and lasting. Wiki backgrounder:

Sly and the Family Stone was an American band from San Francisco. Active from 1966 to 1983, it was pivotal in the development of funk, soul, rock, and psychedelic music. Its core line-up was led by singer-songwriter, record producer, and multi-instrumentalist Sly Stone, and included Stone’s brother and singer/guitarist Freddie Stone, sister and singer/keyboardist Rose Stone, trumpeter Cynthia Robinson, drummer Greg Errico, saxophonist Jerry Martini, and bassist Larry Graham. It was the first major American rock group to have a racially integrated, male and female lineup.

Formed in 1966, the group’s music synthesized a variety of disparate musical genres to help pioneer the emerging “psychedelic soul” sound. They released a series of Top 10 Billboard Hot 100 hits such as “Dance to the Music” (1968), “Everyday People” (1968), and “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” (1969), as well as critically acclaimed albums such as Stand! (1969), which combined pop sensibility with social commentary. In the 1970s, it transitioned into a darker and less commercial funk sound on releases such as There’s a Riot Goin’ On (1971) and Fresh (1973), proving as influential as their early work. By 1975, drug problems and interpersonal clashes led to dissolution, though Sly continued to record and tour with a new rotating lineup under the name “Sly and the Family Stone” until drug problems forced his effective retirement in 1987.

The work of Sly and the Family Stone greatly influenced the sound of subsequent American funk, pop, soul, R&B, and hip hop music. Music critic Joel Selvin wrote, “there are two types of black music: black music before Sly Stone, and black music after Sly Stone”. In 2010, they were ranked 43rd in Rolling Stone‘s 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, and three of their albums are included on Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.

…On August 16, 2011, the album I’m Back! Family & Friends was released. The album features re-recorded versions of Sly and the Family Stone’s greatest hits with guest appearances from Jeff Beck, Ray Manzarek, Bootsy Collins, Ann Wilson, Carmine Appice, and Johnny Winter, as well as three previously unreleased songs.

One month later, on September 25, 2011, the New York Post reported that Sly Stone was now homeless and living out of a white camper-van in Los Angeles: “The van is parked on a residential street in Crenshaw, the rough Los Angeles neighborhood where ‘Boyz n the Hood’ was set. A retired couple makes sure he eats once a day, and Stone showers at their house.”

Sad for sure, but again, hardly unheard of in the biz. As with pretty much every young American band from the hippie-dippie 70s era, their music suffered somewhat from the intrusion of politics and Leftist ideology. Nonetheless, they did some remarkable work, uncorking a long string of solid hits until Sly’s dismal crash-n-burn, dragging a stellar career into a depressing trainwreck. Frankly, I was kinda surprised to learn that he hadn’t died years ago.

2

Solemn anniversary

Saw somewhere that yesterday was the anniversary of the passing of punk-rock icon Dee Dee Ramone, which inspired me to revisit my own obit from way back when. Seems only appropriate to repost a bit of it:

So you wanna disagree with me about the impact of the almighty Ramones? It still stuns me that there are people out there who like bands like Nirvana or Green Day or Pearl Jam or Smashing Pumpkins, and who don’t even realize that none of those bands would even exist if the Ramones hadn’t left some very large footsteps for them to follow in. I don’t know if the same can be said of more modern flashes-in-the-pan like Limp Bizkit or Kid Crock or Puddle of Mudd and the fact is I’m glad of that, because they suck. But whether you like the Ramones or not, anyone who cares at all about real rock and roll knows whose faces would be the first carved into any punk rock Mount Rushmore, and it ain’t Fred Durst’s. Nor would it even be John Lydon’s or Sid Vicious’ or Dave Vanian’s or Stiv Bators’, although they’d all have their place. The Ramones did it first, the Ramones did it better, the Ramones did it longer. The Ramones did it. To paraphrase the Beatles, before the Ramones, there was nothing. Period.

Those of you who are old enough to remember (God help us every one), think back to 1976. Disco was king, as was Elton John and Queen and Styx and a whole slew of other pomp-and-pageantry bands. I won’t belabor a history that has been restated thousands of times since then, but the crucial point is that rock and roll was so far removed from the grasp of the ordinary disgruntled kids in the garage – the people who had kept it living and breathing since the beginning – that they couldn’t even see it from there. Rock and roll wasn’t just dead, it was starting to smell. Now imagine the Ramones strutting onto the scene, all leather and tattered denim and just plain noise. They were like an invasion from Mars, and truth to tell, I still can’t figure out just where in the hell they came from. I have a video that shows the Ramones doing “Loudmouth” from 1976. Joey looks like a freak scarecrow, doing those awkward leg kicks and clinging to the microphone stand as if it were a life raft on a sinking ship. Johnny was cool incarnate, slinging his stick-straight hair around and slashing at the guitar with that untireable right arm. Tommy was, well, Tommy, which means replaceable. Good enough, but replaceable, and he soon was. And then there was Dee Dee. That Fender Precision bass almost scrapes the ground, and Dee Dee hacks at it as if it had just assaulted his girlfriend. And the sound; my God, the sound. The level meters aren’t just in the red – they had to be trying to fly out the right side of the machine, they were pegged so hard. All distortion, all the time – and it’s beautiful. The sound is so pure, so chunky, so hard, so goddamn fucking pissed off that it makes me come up off the couch and yell every time I watch the damn thing. Still. The raw power and energy is so intense it makes me dizzy, and I’ve seen it a million times. I’ll be seeing it a million more this weekend, I’m sure.

And yet somehow, even with all the energy and buzzsaw adolescent aggro, they managed to keep it FUN. They never once lapsed into self-parody or foolish smug irony (the blood and sinew of New York bands these days, seemingly, and the last refuge of a rock-and-roll scoundrel). They never tipped a sly wink at their milieu, mocking their fans for cool points with critics, like so many alterna-dorks do these days. They always played it straight, and it was always just about smiling and moving and enjoying. It was rock and roll, plain and simple. Some critics in Elvis’ early days assumed that he was either the cleverest manipulator they ever saw, milking the dopey teeny-boppers for cash on the barrelhead, or he was just simply dumb as a box of hair. Most inclined towards the latter view, and so it was with the Ramones. I can’t tell you how many reviews I read in the early days, by pompous twits who liked to explain rock and roll in terms usually reserved for Van Gogh and Raphael, whose headline had the word “D-U-M-B” in capital letters over ’em. As usual, the art-wonks didn’t get it.

The Ramones truly changed the rock and roll world, in a way that is attainable for only the truest and deepest innovators. And Dee Dee WAS the Ramones. D-U-M-B? ‘Fraid not, Jocko. God rest his outrageous soul, and Dee Dee, if you can somehow hear my thoughts, I hope you know how much you meant to so many of us.

Back in the Gay 90s I met Joey at a NYC joint owned by a good friend of mine called Coney Island High, on the hallowed St Marks Place. I told him that he and the Ramones had quite literally changed my life, which was nothing but the God’s honest truth, as we say around these environs. He was deeply gracious and humble, not a trace of ego or pretention about him, expressing his sincerest thanks for my saying so. We did the usual music-biz chit-chattery for about twenty minutes or so, and then a brawl broke out that slammed one of the participating pugilists into Joey’s back, causing him to spill his drink. Off he went to the bar for another; the rumble sort of petered out, and I went back to sit with my girlfriend in a dream-like state of shock and awe at who it was I’d just been speaking with.

I met Dee Dee a few times on St Marks also. He could be seen regularly around what we used to call the Trash & Vaudeville block, the holiest of ground for American punk fans; pretty much everybody that hung around the area knew him. He seemed nice enough, but was usually way too focused on scoring dope to spend very much of his time idly conversing with worshipful, gushing strangers like myself. Dee Dee’s story is a truly sad one, albeit a too-familiar one in the rock and roll universe, and I hope he’s at peace.

Permission: GRANTED!!!

I’ve been waiting for this my whole life.

Fauci-PeeInPoolPermitted.jpg

What a relief. Umm, so to speak. Thanks, Herr Doktor Fauci!

Lifted from ye ol’ Gorillapundit. Which, by the way, if you were stumped by his add-on Who Dis earlier—and if you were, what the hell is WRONG with you, anyway?—here’s a little help.



Mark, Don, and Mel, baby. Git yo’self some.

Bonus Gaye!

In the comments to the Marvin Gaye piece below, Kenny reminded me of another one of my all-time faves.



I should maybe add that I don’t disagree at all with Kenny’s evaluation of What’s Going On, either. I always liked Gaye, but as far as I’m concerned his best work was already behind him by the time WGO came out. His latter-day stuff, although certainly influential and bold, just left me cold for the most part, and I didn’t mean to imply otherwise in the earlier post. More deets on “Peculiar,” and on Marvin Gaye himself:

“Ain’t That Peculiar” is a 1965 song recorded by American soul musician Marvin Gaye for the Tamla (Motown) label. The single was produced by Smokey Robinson, and written by Robinson, and fellow Miracles members Ronald White, Pete Moore, and Marv Tarplin. “Ain’t That Peculiar” features Gaye, with The Andantes on backing vocals, singing about the torment of a painful relationship.

The single was Gaye’s second U.S. million seller successfully duplicating its predecessor “I’ll Be Doggone”, from earlier in 1965 by topping Billboard’s Hot R&B Singles chart in the fall of 1965, peaking at #8 on the US Pop Singles chart. It became one of Gaye’s signature 1960s recordings, and was his best-known solo hit before 1968’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”.

Marvin’s accompanied with background vocalist The Andantes: Marlene Barrow, Jackie Hicks and Louvain Demps with instrumentation by The Funk Brothers and Marvin Tarplin of The Miracles (guitars).

Gaye helped to shape the sound of Motown Records in the 1960s with a string of hits, including “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)” and “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”, and duet recordings with Mary Wells and Tammi Terrell, later earning the titles “Prince of Motown” and “Prince of Soul”. During the 1970s, he recorded the concept albums What’s Going On and Let’s Get It On and became one of the first artists in Motown to break away from the reins of its production company. Gaye’s later recordings influenced several R&B subgenres, such as quiet storm and neo-soul.

Following a period in Europe as a tax exile in the early 1980s, Gaye released the 1982 Grammy Award-winning hit “Sexual Healing” and the Midnight Love album. Since his death in 1984, Gaye has been posthumously honored by many institutions, including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

At around 11:38 am on April 1, 1984, as Marvin was seated on his bed talking to his mother, Gaye’s father shot at Marvin twice. The first shot, which entered the right side of Gaye’s chest, was fatal, having perforated his vital organs. Gaye was taken to the emergency room of the California Hospital Medical Center and was pronounced dead on arrival at 1:01 pm. Gaye died a day before turning 45. The gun with which Marvin Gaye, Sr. shot his son was given to him by Marvin as a Christmas present.

Another gifted musician dogged, and eventually doomed, by what’s generally known as a “troubled” personal life—an old story, a common one, and a tragic one. We’ve lost all too many of our greatest artists due to their “troubled” tendencies, one way or another. It’s long been my own belief that those “troubled” personal lives very often come along with the territory of creative genius. That maybe, just maybe, you only rarely get the one without the other—as if a skewed, reckless personality actually feeds the creative bent, both of them being integral components of the artistic soul. The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long, as the saying goes.

A Gaye anniversary

The legendary Marvin Gaye’s seminal album turns fifty.

Marvin Gaye famously sang that “war is not the answer” in his signature protest song “What’s Going On.”

But for the late Motown legend, football was the answer to help lift him out of a deep depression after the 1970 death of Tammi Terrell — his frequent duet partner on hits such as  “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”  — and into creating “What’s Going On,” his classic album that was released 50 years ago on May 21, 1971.

Be mindful of the bit about Tammi Terrell. You’ll be seeing this material again.

“It was during a time when he was trying out for the Detroit Lions and being a football player,” said David Ritz, author of 1985’s “Divided Soul: The Life of Marvin Gaye,” the definitive biography of the singer. “He was a good athlete, and he had this notion of wondering if he could turn pro, but I’m not sure he had the chops. But he certainly had the drive.”

Ultimately, his would-be teammates stepped in. “They told him, ‘Hey Marvin, we’re crazy about you, but go home ‘cause we don’t want to hurt you.’”

Still, Gaye went on to become such good buddies with Detroit Lions players Lem Barney and Mel Farr that they teamed up to provide background vocals on “What’s Going On,” the song that inspired and introduced Gaye’s masterpiece album, which last year Rolling Stone ranked at No. 1 on its list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

In addition to coming in at Numero Uno on Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time list, along with a tremendous number of other Best Ever enumerations from around the planet, What’s Going On remains the biggest-selling album Motown ever has had.

You DID remember what I said about keeping that Tammi Terrell mention fresh in mind, right? As promised, we’re coming back to that material, if from a somewhat sideways direction. See, although Marvelous Marvin did indeed produce a whole slew of truly wonderful work with Terrell, the duet of his I always liked best was with Kim Weston.



No slight whatever intended to Tammi Terrell, of course or any of the other artists fortunate enough to have shared a mic with Marvin Gaye. But that right there’s some goooood squishy.

Happy birthday

To trad-country icon Hank Snow.

Clarence Eugene “Hank” Snow (May 9, 1914 – December 20, 1999) was a Canadian-American country music artist. Most popular in the 1950s, he had a career that spanned more than 50 years, he recorded 140 albums and charted more than 85 singles on the Billboard country charts from 1950 until 1980. His number-one hits include the self-penned songs “I’m Moving On”, “The Golden Rocket” and “The Rhumba Boogie” and famous versions of “I Don’t Hurt Anymore”, “Let Me Go, Lover!”, “I’ve Been Everywhere”, “Hello Love”, as well as other top 10 hits.

Snow was an accomplished songwriter whose clear, baritone voice expressed a wide range of emotions including the joys of freedom and travel as well as the anguish of tortured love. His music was rooted in his beginnings in small-town Nova Scotia where, as a frail, 80-pound youngster, he endured extreme poverty, beatings and psychological abuse as well as physically punishing labour during the Great Depression. Through it all, his musically talented mother provided the emotional support he needed to pursue his dream of becoming a famous entertainer like his idol, the country star, Jimmie Rodgers.

As a performer of traditional country music, Snow won numerous awards and is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. The Hank Snow Museum in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, celebrates his life and work in a province where his fans still see him as an inspirational figure who triumphed over personal adversity to become one of the most influential artists in all of country music.

The influence of The Singin’ Ranger, as he was known early in his career, wasn’t limited to country music.

A regular at the Grand Ole Opry, in 1954 Snow persuaded the directors to allow a young Elvis Presley to appear on stage. Snow used Presley as his opening act and introduced him to Colonel Tom Parker. In August 1955, Snow and Parker formed the management team, Hank Snow Attractions. This partnership signed a management contract with Presley but before long, Snow was out and Parker had full control over the rock singer’s career. Forty years after leaving Parker, Snow stated, “I have worked with several managers over the years and have had respect for them all except one. Tom Parker [Snow refused to recognize the honorary title “Colonel”] was the most egotistical, obnoxious human being I’ve ever had dealings with.”

Snow’s evaluation of Parker is by no means a unique one, shall we say. Although to be fair about it, I’ve also heard tell that Snow could be pretty prickly and unpleasant his own self. But now that we’ve brought Elvis into this thing, enjoy yourselves an early Hank Snow hit that the King covered as well a few years later on, which version has always ranked near the tippy-top of Ye Olde Blogghoste’s list of personal favorite Elvis tunes.



Happy birthday, Hank. Country music—REAL country music, I mean, not the sappy, crappy contempo swill—just wouldn’t have been the same without you.

WHO?!?

Not all rock stars are libtard morons.

Roger Daltrey: The ‘Woke’ Generation is Creating a Miserable World

That’s the whole idea. Wokesters are all miserable little worms themselves, and as everybody knows, misery loves company.

The Who legend Roger Daltrey says the ‘woke’ generation is creating a miserable world that serves to stifle the kind of creative freedom he enjoyed in the 60s.

“It’s terrifying, the miserable world they’re going to create for themselves. I mean, anyone who’s lived a life and you see what they’re doing, you just know that it’s a route to nowhere,” he added.

Daltrey also slammed the negative impact that social media has had on the world, saying it has undermined truth.

“It’s just getting harder to disseminate the truth. It’s almost like, now we should turn the whole thing off. Go back to newsprint, go back to word of mouth and start to read books again,” he said.

While Daltrey’s comments may not be mind-blowing, any celebrity speaking out against the mob that has cannibalized culture is something to be applauded.

Indeed so. I do believe this calls for some Who embeds tonight, which we’ll get to anon.

My own personal rundown of the 60’s Brit Invasion bands runs something like this:

  • The Beatles: love love love their early stuff; can’t stand their latter-day hippy-dippy psychedelic glop
  • The Stones: meh (Keef and Charlie emphatically excepted, of course)
  • The Kinks, ditto (no exceptions)
  • Herman’s Hermits: oof
  • The Hollies: Some truly GREAT stuff, interspersed with some real clunkers later on
  • The Yardbirds: meh

Which pretty much leaves the Who at the top of the whole pile as far as I’m concerned. In discussing this topic with friends and fellow players over lo, these many years, some have expressed surprise over my antipathy to most of the Stones’ ouevre, along with my professed fondness for the ‘Oo. The Stones, after all, were grungy, cocky, rough-hewn outlaws—ie, the same ruffian cloth I’m cut from myself—in sharp contrast to the Who’s more clean-cut, less-outlandish Boy Next Door image, Daltrey especially.

What can I possibly say, except…I can’t explain.




The almighty power chords raging throughout the most iconic rock anthem of all time might help explain my lasting affection for these guys, maybe.



That’s the closer of what was billed at the time as The Who’s farewell show in 1982—although as final shows go, this one later turned out not to be all that final. The concert was aired on Showtime, I think it was. I do remember watching it over and over at a friend’s crib with the rest of our crew, completely in awe of the way these old geezers could still kick out the jams with the cream of the Young Dudes crop. If you got the time and dig the Who like I do, it’s definitely worth checking out the whole thing.

And since I brought up the Hollies before, here’s one of their best, according to l’il ol’ moi at any rate.




Lip-synced, naturally. I did run across a quite creditable live clip of the song from another TV appearance, but when the instrumental break came around and those sweet steel drums…JUST…WEREN’T…THERE

…well, my heart broke a little bit, I missed them so very much. Still, though: could those boys sing or WHAT?

Birth of an icon

My buddy Würm hipped me to a thing that had passed right on by Ye Olde Hoste somehow, namely that yesterday was the peerless Link Wray’s birthday. Even though you might think you don’t know who he is, in which case I can but pity you, I assure you that you almost certainly do—especially if you’ve ever seen a Tarantino flick. Background:

Wray was born on May 2, 1929, in Dunn, North Carolina, to Fred Lincoln Wray, Sr., who was born in Indiana, and his wife, Lillian Mae Wray (née Coats), born in North Carolina, whom her son identified as being Shawnee. The 1930 and 1940 censuses identify both parents as being white. As a child, he and his family were among those persecuted by the Ku Klux Klan. His mother would often turn off lights, put blankets on windows when the KKK burned crosses. They would often hide in barns, under beds, and holes underground. Wray would later say “The cops, the sheriff, the drugstore owner—they were all Ku Klux Klan. They put the masks on and, if you did something wrong, they’d tie you to a tree and whip you or kill you.” Three songs Wray performed during his career were named for indigenous peoples: “Shawnee”, “Apache”, and “Comanche”.

His two brothers, Vernon (born January 7, 1924 – died March 25, 1979) and Doug (born July 4, 1933 – died 1984), were his earliest bandmates.

Wray served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War (1950–53). He contracted tuberculosis, which hospitalized him for a year. His stay concluded with the removal of a lung, which doctors predicted would mean he would never be able to sing again.

To be brutally honest, except for certain values of the word, poor old Link never could sing in the first place. Sorry, but it’s true.

Building on the distorted electric guitar sound of early records, Wray’s first hit was the 1958 instrumental “Rumble”. It popularized “the power chord, the major modus operandi of modern rock guitarists,” facilitating the emergence of “punk and heavy rock”. The record was first released on Cadence Records (catalog number 1347) as by “Link Wray & His Ray Men”. “Rumble” was banned in New York and Boston for fear it would incite teenage gang violence, “rumble” being slang for a gang fight.

Legend has it that the familiar Link Wray crackling, distortion-rich guitar tone was originally achieved when Link came up with the bright idea of addressing his deep dissatisfaction with the amp he was using at the time by punching multiple holes in its speaker, using a standard No 2 pencil. Be that as it may (or may not), the origins of all hard-rock guitar can be found in the unique sound pioneered by Link Wray.

Years ago I did a post here telling the story of the blessed night I played with Link on the stage of Charlotte’s now-deceased Double Door Inn back in, oh, about 1997 or thereabouts. Unfortunately, the CF archives now being permanently hosed due to the infamous 2020 Rooskie hack, that post is no longer extant, but believe me it was a heck of a story. Yes, there are pictures, but for some reason I can’t find ’em on the hard drive right now, so in lieu of that you’ll have to make do with a video which…um, does NOT include myself and Link Wray onstage together At. ALL.

Link did plenty of great songs, but the one I always liked best was “Jack The Ripper,” which was re-recorded and re-worked under several other names in the fine old blues-rockabilly tradition. Here’s the BPs version, recorded by my then-girlfriend at Smokeout East.



The Playboys opened our shows with that number for several years. It was a perfect stage-setter for some truly rowdy goings-on as the evening progressed, let me tell ya, instigating who knows how many packed dance floors, bared boobies, or drunken brawls.

My guest appearance with him was supposed to last only a cpl-three songs, but as each one ended he’d turn to me with a huge grin and yell, “How about this one, know this one at all?”, either calling the song’s name or strumming the first few chords for me. Of course I knew all of ’em, and thus ended up onstage with him for more than 45 minutes, almost his entire set. He seemed stunned by how familiar with his work I was when we were hanging out together in the dressing room later, even after I told him I’d been a huge fan of his for literally decades by then.

Link Wray departed this vale of tears in 2005, leaving us all the poorer for his loss. On November 5th, to be exact, which as my friend Würm informed me happens to be his own birthday. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have spent what time I did with him. He was gracious, friendly, warm, and entirely humble, thanking me again and again for how “you young guys have kept my music alive.” I responded by thanking him for not suing us, since the Playboys had included at least one cover of a Link Wray tune on every CD we did and never coughed up one thin dime for the privilege. He shrugged my confession off with a laugh and another huge grin.

Link Wray was an incredibly modest and unassuming man despite his incalculable influence, making it seem almost as if he was completely unaware of the impact he’d had or the inspiration he’d been for legions of rock and roll guitarists around the world. He had some tough rows to hoe and suffered some serious setbacks in his life, only to attain greater heights of success and fame than ever before in his last years. He was and shall remain an icon of rock and roll guitar, and rightly so. I liked him. I was honored and thrilled to get to play with him. I will never, ever forget him, and neither should you.

May God forever bless and keep you, Link.

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