GIVE TIL IT HURTS!

A look back

At the man who helped make Elvis the once and forever King.

On the day Sam Phillips died, the crowd at the world’s (alleged) all-time biggest rock concert, in Toronto, booed and threw bottles at teen heartthrob Justin Timberlake, of the boy band ‘N Sync. Master Timberlake was said to be too “plastic” and “manufactured” for the taste of rock fans there to see Rush and AC/DC. This is the fellow to whom, as she revealed this summer, Britney Spears surrendered her much-advertised virginity, which suggests that letting the suits in the head office mold your identity is not without its compensations. But young Justin sportingly said he thought the bottle-hurling was “understandable”.

And so it is. Rock’n’roll may be the most aggressively corporate branch of showbusiness ever invented but it’s still obsessed with being “raw” and “authentic” and “countercultural”. That’s where Sam Phillips comes in: he represents rock’s BC era – Before Corporate -before Elvis said goodbye to Sam’s Sun Records, in Memphis, and headed for RCA and Hollywood and Vegas. But back in 1954 it was Sam who told Elvis to sing the country song (“Blue Moon Of Kentucky”) kinda bluesy and the blues song (“That’s All Right”) kinda country, and, as Elvis was a polite 19-year old who obliged his elders, somewhere in the crisscross something clicked.

No, no, a thousand times no. Or not quite, anyhow. Contrary to popular belief, Elvis allowed himself to be wheedled, cajoled, or otherwise manipulated by absolutely NOBODY when it came to his music. As Peter’s Guralnick’s brilliantly-done two-part biography of him makes abundantly plain, Elvis knew exactly what he was doing from the very beginning, only losing his way both musically and personally after succumbing to various excesses and overindulgences in the early 70s.

Phillips’s nevertheless crucial role in one Elvis Aron Presley’s (Aron pronounced “AY-ron,” the better to sync with the name of his stillborn twin Jesse Garon, actually) journey ever upwards from rawboned aspiring singer and interpreter of the Great American Songbook, which is how Elvis saw himself and was all he ever dreamed of being, was that of a collaborator and partner, not a Svengali.

It’s the Phillips tracks that redeem Elvis for everything that came afterward.

Not necessarily. Can even a remotely credible contention be made that these stellar vocal performances somehow need to be “redeemed”?

No sir, it can NOT. Onwards. Seeing as how my music posts tend to run a bit, um, long, and also that Elvis, Phillips, and rock and roll generally are subjects I’ve spent most of my “adult” (allegedly) life studying closely, I’ll tuck the rest of this one below the fold.

Continue reading “A look back”

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Publick Notice

Yep, it’s a sad, sad day around these parts: no more Scrooge Picard nor Santa Bettie Page, either one. After much thrashing and flailing about, accompanied by some light screaming and pulling out of the hair by the roots, I finally got Angry Guy back up top, and all the colors reset the way I wanted ’em.

Tell your friends, wake the neighbors, send the word far and wide that Christmas is now officially over, as dead as…umm, Marley’s ghost, shall we say. Yes, it’s a bit earlier than I would usually take the CF Xmas theme-makeover down, but I figured it was the least I could do for CF Lifers with bossheads and/or angry wives and/or girlfriends who inexplicably felt nekkid Santa Bettie might have been just a wee bit much, having done the annual holiday rearranging around this here hogwallow earlier than usual this year.

Frankly, I’ve always found this to be the most depressing time of the whole year: the dead of winter; no more cheerful, merry lights and decorations all over the place; nothing to look forward to until early February, when my birthday comes along. And I gotta say, the more I pile up of them, the less there is to look forward to there too. Ah well, I do sincerely hope you all had a wonderful holiday anyhow. If not, here’s a little something to cheer ya up.


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BOO!

Happy Halloween to all CF Lifers everywhere, and to all the ships at sea. Buck Throckmorton posts up a good ‘un in celebration of the day.



Now, one from my dear departed friend Ronnie Dawson.



Though they share the same title, near as I can tell the two songs have no connection with one another: not chord progressions, not tempo or rhythm, not lyrics, not nothin’. But now that I brought up Uncle Ronnie (that’s what I called him, at his insistence, which I found quite flattering), no way am I gonna pass up the opportunity to post this one.



Now as fate would have it, I attended the Conyne taping along with a large contingent of the NYC-RAB scenesters, and a good time was had by all, believe you me. Backing Ronnie up is the absolute best rockabilly combo I’ve ever seen or heard tell of: High Noon, a trio from Austin Texas, with the welcome addition of the brilliant and drop-dead gorgeous Lisa Pankratz pounding the skins.

Ronnie always gave a good, energetic performance onstage, but out of a thousand and one Dawson shows I either saw or played on, I never, ever saw him as charged up as he was that incredible night. Not just Ronnie, but the whole band was very nearly sending sparks flying off their bodies, they were all so excited and exhilarated. The audience was, too, even Conan himself. Take especial note of what Ronnie does at 3:34 in the vid: he’s waving his arm around over his head at the NYC-RAB crew. We were all up dancing in the aisles, and he was beckoning us to come right down front to dance closer to him nearer to the stage.

After the performance, when he got over to sit on the couch and chat a bit with Conan, first thing out of O’Brien’s mouth was a stunned but amused “My GOD, what have you DONE to these people?” Watch the vid again, you can just about see the sheet-lightning emanating from Ronnie and the band. It was fucking shit-hot, that’s what. I’ve never seen anything remotely like it, in all my years of rockin’ and rollin’.

When the taping was done, me and my gf at the time met Ronnie, Lisa, and the High Noon crew up at their Midtown hotel and went out bar-hopping to celebrate this historic triumph for real rock and roll. We hit several Midtown dive bars—yes, there are a few, but you gotta look for ’em—until airtime for the Conan show started getting close (the taping was at 5:30). Then we began to ask each bartender at wherever we were at the time if they would pretty please turn the TV to the right channel so we could watch the show, since several of us were gonna be on it. After being turned down by three (3) assholes who preferred watching some goddamned sportsball event instead, somebody (wasn’t me) suggested that we all go downtown to cram ourselves into my apartment to watch.

And so we did. Mine and Jen’s less-than-palatial crib was more crowded and smoky even than it usually was, which is saying something; the drinks were flowing freely, we had the TV cranked to window-rattling volume, and the laughter, shouting, and general hullaboo was boisterous enough to almost drown THAT out.

We celebrated for a few more hours, watching the show over and over on the VCR, and then everyone piled into my rattletrap E350 van for the drive back uptown to drop the band off at their hotel. As we jounced and shook up the perpetually-under-construction FDR drive at a leisurely 80mph, a fear-stricken Lisa shouted from the back, “Mike, I think you’ve been in New York too long!”

It was without a doubt the most wonderful night of my entire life, and I wasn’t even onstage.

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The Last Man Standing stands no more

As you would assume, I am indeed working on my Jerry Lee Lewis remembrance/obit. There’s a couple of documents I’m trying to get my hands on for it, which apparently do not exist on the innarnuts anywhere. In fact, one of them I know for sure is in the sole and exclusive possession of our former manager, who as far as I know is the only guy who has a copy of the thing. Unfortunately, Mike isn’t at all web-savvy, so I doubt he has the means to scan it and send it over to me, or would know how even if he did. We’ll see about that, I suppose. More coming, as and when…

Update! YES!!! Got ’em both, I can hardly believe it. Okay, folks, stay tuned, this is gonna be good.

Updated update! Okay, here we go. Somewhat atypically for these rock and roll-icon obits of mine, I did NOT ever get to meet or hang out with Jerry Lee Lewis, to my great disappointment. We DID have a show scheduled with him once, at the legendary Tramps in NYC. To wit:

 

Big night
Would’ve been our first Really Big Show at Tramp’s, but alas, t’was not to be

 

What showed up in lieu of The Killer that night was a doctor’s note (those with older eyes can click here to embiggen):

 

Real deal
Yes, it’s real

 

 

 

Mind, now, this was the selfsame Dr Nick who was widely despised among fans of the King as the Man Who Killed Elvis, the guy who for years had signed off on whatever self-prescribed drugs Elvis was of a mind to indulge in that particular evening. He’s also the real-life personage from whence The Simpsons‘ Dr Nick Rivera got his name:

The character design of Dr. Nick is based somewhat on Gábor Csupó, of Klasky Csupo studios, who was originally from Hungary—the animators mistakenly believed Hank Azaria was impersonating Gabor, when in fact the voice was actually a bad imitation of Ricky Ricardo from I Love Lucy.

His name came from George Nichopoulos, nicknamed Dr. Nick, Elvis Presley‘s personal physician who was indicted on 14 counts of over-prescribing drugs to Presley and several other patients in the years following Presley’s death. While Nichopoulos was acquitted of those charges, his medical license was revoked by the Tennessee medical authorities in 1993.

And there you have it. When that fateful note from Dr Nick finally did show up at Tramps instead of Jerry Lee it scared me half to death, because Terry Dunne, the owner and founder of Tramp’s, asked me right away if we’d be willing to go on and take the whole show anyhow, three sets instead of the agreed-upon two. I mean, who wouldn’t be scared, right? The joint was packed with people who had paid top buck to see Jerry Lee Lewis, only to learn they’d be getting a full night of the lowly if up-and-coming Belmont Playboys in his stead? My God, I thought, these people are gonna KILL us!

To the contrary, it all went quite well; we were warmly received, the dreaded mass stampede for the exits when it was announced that Lewis wouldn’t be appearing never happened, and we did a good show despite the jacked-up Fear Factor.

No, I never did get to meet the Killer, but he still wound up being one of my biggest personal influences nonetheless. That came about the night of a different show a few years later, when the BPs were to play at the old Park Elevator in CLT, situated in the century-old, decaying and decrepit Park Elevator building, before it burned up, was refurbished, and turned into condos like all the other old buildings around here.


Now, the Park Elevator was notoriously rickety in places, but as it happens there was a low entryway that led directly out onto the stage. In those days, I was the proud owner of a 71 Shovelhead FLH, fully tricked out with, among other things, a suicide shift and 20-inch apes sitting atop 5-inch risers:

 

Wheels
Me, my beloved 61 Galaxy, and the ol’ Shovel

So naturally, I conceived the brilliant notion that hey, wouldn’t it be just the most awesome thing ever if I rode the bike onto the stage when we went on? My friend Joe was also there on his hotrod Evo Sporty, and was quite eager to join me in risking my fool neck to ride his Harley out onto the stage through that tiny, low door also. So low was said portal, in fact, that I had to yank my apehangers back and down to even get through it; the damned bars were way too tall to go in as they were.

But no matter; such a minor obstacle could never be sufficient to deter a dedicated Jerry Lee wannabe like myself. Right before we were to do our dirty deed, I asked one of the proprietors of the Park Elevator, Tim Blong, if he thought the stage would be able to support all that weight without collapsing into rubble and killing us all. He shrugged eloquently, muttered, “Dunno, man, maybe?” and grinned. Joe turned to me with a slightly troubled look on his mug, as if to ask, “Well, we doin’ this or what?”

Which was when I asked myself what would come to be the eternal question for me regarding any outrageous, dangerous, or just plain stupid stunt I was thinking about attempting to pull off: What Would Jerry Lee Do?

The answer, of course, was always the same, being eminently obvious given the Killer’s hard-won reputation for bold, daredevil antics. We fired up the scoots, rode through that tiny door with our heads ducked way down low, put the bikes on the kickstands one on each side of the stage, and the show went on, as it always and forever must. A few fun facts about the Killer:

The last survivor of a generation of groundbreaking performers that included Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and Little Richard, Lewis died at his Mississippi home, south of Memphis, Tennessee, representative Zach Farnum said in a release. The news came two days after the publication of an erroneous TMZ report of his death, later retracted.

Of all the rock rebels to emerge in the 1950s, few captured the new genre’s attraction and danger as unforgettably as the Louisiana-born piano player who called himself “The Killer.”

Tender ballads were best left to the old folks. Lewis was all about lust and gratification, with his leering tenor and demanding asides, violent tempos and brash glissandi, cocky sneer and crazy blond hair. He was a one-man stampede who made the fans scream and the keyboards swear, his live act so combustible that during a 1957 performance of “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” on “The Steve Allen Show,” chairs were thrown at him like buckets of water on an inferno.

“There was rockabilly. There was Elvis. But there was no pure rock ’n ’roll before Jerry Lee Lewis kicked in the door,” a Lewis admirer once observed. That admirer was Jerry Lee Lewis.

Heh. Pure, 24-karat Jerry Lee right there. Nobody ever saw his like before, and we never will again. Y’all might be familiar with the story of the night Lewis rammed his Cadillac into the front gate at Graceland, perhaps. Lewis, drunk as a boiled owl, was hauled off by the gendarmerie hollering at Elvis to come on out like a man so’s they could finally settle who the REAL King Of Rock And Roll was once and for all. More:

Lewis had a run of top 10 country hits between 1967-70, and hardly mellowed at all. He performed drinking songs such as “What’s Made Milwaukee Famous (Has Made a Loser Out of Me)”, the roving eye confessions of “She Still Comes Around” and a dry-eyed cover of a classic ballad of abandonment, “She Even Woke Me Up to Say Goodbye.” He had remained popular in Europe and a 1964 album, “Live at the Star Club, Hamburg,” is widely regarded as one of the greatest concert records.

A 1973 performance proved more troublesome: Lewis sang for the Grand Ole Opry and broke two longstanding rules — no swearing and no non-country songs.

“I am a rock and rollin’, country-and-western, rhythm and blues-singin’ motherf—–,” he told the audience.

Lewis married seven times, and was rarely far from trouble or death. His fourth wife, Jaren Elizabeth Gunn Pate, drowned in a swimming pool in 1982 while suing for divorce. His fifth wife, Shawn Stephens, 23 years his junior, died of an apparent drug overdose in 1983. Within a year, Lewis had married Kerrie McCarver, then 21. She filed for divorce in 1986, accusing him of physical abuse and infidelity. He countersued, but both petitions eventually were dropped. They finally divorced in 2005 after several years of separation. The couple had one child, Jerry Lee III.

Another son by a previous marriage, Steve Allen Lewis, 3, drowned in a swimming pool in 1962, and son Jerry Lee Jr. died in a traffic accident at 19 in 1973. Lewis also had two daughters, Phoebe and Lori Leigh, and is survived by his wife Judith.

His finances were also chaotic. Lewis made millions, but he liked his money in cash and ended up owing hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Internal Revenue Service. When he began welcoming tourists in 1994 to his longtime residence near Nesbit, Mississippi — complete with a piano-shaped swimming pool — he set up a 900 phone number fans could call for a recorded message at $2.75 a minute.

There’s always more to say about the inimitable Jerry Lee Lewis, and there will always be too. I’m sad he’s gone, at the same time I can hardly believe he didn’t die on us thirty or forty years ago, buck-wild as he was. The Killer grabbed life by the scruff of its neck and lived the ever-lovin’ hell out of it, from start to finish. With that, enjoy a so-called “lost track” recorded back in the year I was born, 1960, that’s long been Number One with a bullet on my own personal Jerry Lee Lewis hit parade, complete with a bit of studio chatter from the Killer himself.



That patter beforehand has actually been bowdlerized somewhere along the way. In the version I had, the track begins with a runner in the control room hollering to the Killer, asking what he wants to eat. Jerry Lee responds, “What am I gon’ eat? I’d like to eat a little pussy if you got some,” followed by an extremely salacious sluuurrp sound and a smacking of the lips. Jerry then laughs that great laugh of his, and yells “STONED!!!” After that is when the “That’ll be the only place you can play it” part included in the vid comes in.

And then the one and only Killer hits that big, fat power-chord—Jerry Lee was the only guy I ever heard of capable of producing power-chords on a piano, which formed the basis of his whole playing style—and we’re off and running. “Birthday Cake” also features probably his best-ever solo, a pounding, pulsating, joyous break that’s a thing of wonder every time I hear it. And I’ve heard it a thousand times.

The great Jerry Lee Lewis was a genuine American original: a rowdy, relentless Southern roughneck who neither knew nor cared one whit about such trivial irrelevancies as giving up, giving in, backing off, or calming the fuck down. He lived the way he played, WTFO and balls to the wall. May the Good Lord bless and keep his indomitable, irrepressible spirit forever.

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RIP Robert Gordon

Do I have stories about this guy? Oh, you just better bet I do.

Robert Gordon, Rockabilly Revival Icon, Dies at 75
Over his career, Gordon released more than 20 albums and helped usher in a rockabilly resurgence in the 1970s and ’80s.

Rockabilly revivalist Robert Gordon, whose albums with guitar greats Link Wray and Chris Spedding helped solidify his place in rock history and carry the genre over several decades, died Tuesday (Oct. 18) at Don Greene Hospice in New York City following a diagnosis of leukemia, according to a Facebook post by his label Cleopatra Records. He was 75.

Born in Bethesda, Maryland, Gordon was drawn to rock ‘n’ roll after he heard Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel” at age nine. He soon dug into the music of Gene VincentEddie Cochrane and others ’50s greats and cut his first recording at 17 singing with a band called The Confidentials. His career ramped up after he relocated to New York City and joined the punk band Tuff Darts (which can be heard on the 1976 album Live At CBGBs alongside tracks by Mink DeVilleSun Ra and others).

In 1977, Gordon cut his debut “solo” album, Robert Gordon With Link Wray, and followed with several others, including 1978’s Fresh Fish Special (with Wray), which also includes Presley’s famed background singers The Jordanaires and Bruce Springsteen, who played on Gordon’s rendition of the Springsteen-penned track “Fire.” An ad in Billboard that ran on March 11, 1978, read, in part: “Robert Gordon, the new voice of Rock and Roll, and Link Wray, the legendary guitarist, are together again! FRESH FISH SPECIAL follows their red hot first album – and it’s a killer! Bruce Springsteen wrote a song for it. Elvis Presley, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran and Jack Scott are faithfully remembered in it.”

In 1979, Gordon released Rock Billy Boogie, which peaked at No. 106 on the Billboard 200. That was quickly followed by 1980’s Bad Boy and 1981’s Are You Gonna Be The One, which included the single “Someday, Someway,” which peaked at No. 76 on the Billboard Hot 100.

In 1982, Gordon ventured into acting, co-starring in outlaw biker flick The Loveless opposite Willem Dafoe. Gordon can also be seen performing with his band in a 1981 skit for Canadian sketch comedy show SCTV, in which he’s mistaken for astronaut Gordon Cooper.

As you may have guessed from my opener above, the BPs have a long, somewhat sordid history with Gordon. We played with him as supporting act several times, both in NYC and in Finland, resulting in my having a fair bit of dirt I could dish on ol’ Robert, but ain’t gonna. Instead, a few pics of us from our very first time working with him, at the legendary and now sadly-defunct music venue Tramps.

RIP
Robert Gordon and Chris Spedding, shot by me from the wings at Stage Right
After the show
Green room group shot of both bands, after the show
SCHWEEET!
Why we pick up a guitar in the first place; no idea what her name was, didn’t care

And there you have it, folks. Robert certainly did have a way of picking guitar talent; over the years, he worked with Spedding most, a brilliant player who also turned out to be a truly sweet, humble, and all-around nice man. That first show, Spedding borrowed a 9-volt battery from me for his tuner pedal, and actually returned the damned thing to me without even being asked—and believe me, that NEVER happens. Not just Chris, but Robert also had the peerless Danny Gatton in his onstage stable for a few years, as well as bona fide rock and roll icon Link Wray.

So yeah, rest easy, Robert Gordon. A top-notch singer, blessed with a deep, resonant voice and an excellent range. We had our run-ins over the years, as can happen sometimes in showbiz, but none of that matters now. May your troubadour’s heart and soul find everlasting peace.



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Dwight! Buck! Bakersfield!

Buck Throckmorton displays his impeccable taste in music with a vid of Dwight Yoakam doing a too-short greatest-hits medley on the Grand Ole Opry stage. It is indeed some mighty fine stuff, gooder’n grits and redeye gravy. Unfortunately, though, Dwight somehow failed to include my own personal fave on the setlist, an instant classic called “The Distance Between You And Me.” Please allow me to rectify this oversight.



Buck thoughtfully tosses a little bonus verbiage into the mix.

THROCKMORTON’S FIRST LAW OF LIVE MUSIC: IF THERE’S AN UPRIGHT BASS IN THE BAND, IT’S PROBABLY GOING TO BE GOOD

Ain’t no arguing with that sentiment. Funny thing is, though, that ole Dwight chose to work with both a standup and a Fender bass in the video. I have no idea why; the only other time I can recall seeing anybody using two bass players onstage was when the Playboys opened for Little Richard in NYC: the experienced old road-dog Richard had been using since the late 60s pumping out those sweet licks in the old-school way over on Stage Left, and a much younger Young Turk thumping and popping and slapping some more contemporary Fo’ Da Peepuls funkitudeadelicalicity at Stage Right.

The setup seemed to work well enough to suit Richard’s purposes as the Architect of Rock and Roll, yes. But generally speaking, if you have the fat, round, full-throated sonic ooooomph!! of an upright making your point for you onstage, you have no need of the thinner, midrangey, somewhat nasal skrooonk! of an electric too. Next to a properly mic’ed and/or amplified standup, the electrical whippersnapper is just pointless and superfluous and really needs to get the hell off my lawn.

Plus, you’re padding the payroll unneccessarily by taking on a spare bass player you don’t need—paying for extra meals, extra booze, extra hotel rooms, and assorted other extra goods and services which personal experience tells me you damned well can’t afford.

Then there’s having to help your redundant bassman wrangle his gear into the band van…and believe you me, those Hugh Jass™ Ampeg 8×10 “refrigerator” cabs insisted on by every discerning bass player who has clawed his way up to the less-cramped stages and overly-muscled stagehands characteristic of the midsized-venue circuit are fucking HEAVY, no joke. Topped by an early-70s all-tube SVT head and we’re talking between three and four hundred pounds of bottom-end rumble to lug around, which adds up to some serious no-fun for all involved parties. Nothing else sounds better, or anything like as good. But nothing else is a bigger ass-ache to have to deal with night after night after night out on the road.

When you’re listening to the intoxicating sound an Ampeg SVT rig produces, you love that infernal beast more than the soft, sweet coo of your peacefully-slumbering child. When you’re trying to work your freshly-mangled hand out from under it, or you and three of your least-svelte buds are struggling to manhandle the thing up a staircase lengthy enough to accommodate the takeoff roll of an Antonov An 225 which leads up to the loft in which tonight’s venue is situated, there’s nothing and no one you’ve ever hated worse. Ask me how I know. Go ahead, I dare ya.

Remembering how Dwight Yoakam crashed the country music charts in the late 1980s with raw, retro-country gives me hope that there will someday be another Dwight emerge with a retro-sound that breaks the hold of bro-country/tailgate-rap on modern country music.

We can only hope so. Retro? Fine and dandy, I gots no nits to pick there, either. But what Dwight really was, was a living, loving tribute to the game-changing Bakersfield Sound pioneered by the legendary country artists Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, and Billy Mize, among others. Yoakam was personally close to and did a goodish bit of studio work with Owens, proudly acknowledging his Bakersfield affiliations with 1988’s chart-topping duet with his friend Buck, “Streets Of Bakersfield.” Owens had recorded the song back in 1973 his own self, which quickly died the death upon its release. As is remarkably common in country music, a wonderful backstory comes along with the song.

Homer Joy, the song’s writer, was approached in 1972 by representatives from Buck Owens’ studio in Bakersfield, California, about recording a “Hank Williams Sr. soundalike-album”. Joy initially refused, saying “I don’t want be like Hank, I just want to be me!” Eventually, he agreed to come in and record it, on the condition that he would also get to record some of his own songs as well. After the recording, however, the studio manager told Joy that he’d forgotten that the Buckaroos (Buck Owens’ band) were practicing for an upcoming tour, and that Joy would have to wait to record his original songs.

Refusing to back down, Joy would show up at the studio at 8 AM every morning, only to be told that the Buckaroos were busy and that he would still have to wait. One night, Joy decided to take a walk around downtown Bakersfield, only to have the brand-new cowboy boots he’d been wearing give him blisters all over his feet: “I barely made it back to the car, and on top of that, I was still upset about everything, and I went back to my hotel room and wrote ‘Streets of Bakersfield’.”

As usual, Joy went to the studio at 8 AM the following morning, and the studio manager, out of frustration, grabbed a guitar off of the wall and gave it to Joy, saying, “Sing me one of the songs that you’d record if we could get some time to record it.” As kind of an “in-your-face” gesture, Joy performed his eight-hour-old “Streets of Bakersfield”. Afterward, the studio producer went into the back of the studio, brought out Buck Owens, and had Joy play it again. Owens then said to the manager, “The Buckaroos have the day off, but you call them and tell them that we’re going to do a recording session on Homer this afternoon.”

Buck Owens released a recording of the song in 1973, and while that version wasn’t a major hit, the re-recording he did with Dwight Yoakam in 1988 (with slightly changed lyrics) reached #1 on the Billboard Country Music charts.

That 1988 revisit to the Number One spot was the first for Buck Owens since 1972. Here t’is:



Two things to look out for here: one, the brilliant, fluid guitar stylings of Yoakam’s longtime partner, producer, and behind-the-scenes mastermind, the seriously gifted Pete Anderson; and 2) the always-understated presence onstage of Flaco Jiminez, King of Tex-Mex accordion. When it comes to putting a smile on the faces of his audience, I can honestly say I’ve never been able to watch one of Flaco’s joyous, open-hearted performances without grinning like a mule eating briars.

Flaco got his first big break in the 60s when he landed a regular gig with Doug Sahm, a founding member of the Sir Douglas Quintet (“She’s About A Mover,” featuring a pitch-perfect Vox organ hook from Augie Meyers). Flaco worked with Sahm for years, stepping out to bebop around on his own hook before eventually reuniting with Sahm in the Texas Tornadoes, also sharing stages with fellow music icons Augie Meyers and Freddie Fender.



Good stuff, no? Almost all of those guys are long gone; it saddens me to think that, after bringing so much happiness to so many people, they should be all but forgotten nowadays, fringe weirdos like myself being the ever-lonelier exceptions. I’ll leave you with one last nugget of “Behind The Music” trivia before signing off for the night.

The Cadillac with an upright bass strapped on top of it always brought me a smile in Dwight’s official video for “Guitars, Cadillacs.”

Didn’t bring very many of ’em to Elvis Presley’s original standup bass player, Bill Black. For Elvis, Bill, and Scotty Moore, the hitch-hiking bass wasn’t just a photo shoot, it was everyday life. The boys spent a good chunk of 1955 actually hauling Bill’s doghouse bass around on the roof of Elvis’s newly-acquired pink Caddy (don’t miss the incredibly rare pictures at the link!), which Bill didn’t like even a little bit—all the moreso since he had to hang his arm out the window and hold onto the neck of his fragile, expensive instrument so’s a sudden gust wouldn’t rip the bass up, up, and away, transmogrifying Bill’s pride and joy into so much kindling wood strewn across the Tennessee blacktop. Black disliked his admittedly unappealing circumstances enough as it was, the bitterness and envy at having been eclipsed by Elvis as the star of the show which would torment him for the rest of his abbreviated life already beginning to rankle*.

As you might well imagine, he was absolutely beside himself with rage whenever those April showers came their way.

*In Bill’s opinion, being rudely elbowed out of the spotlight and into supporting-player status was an entirely unfair and ill-considered error in judgment, a mistake which could only damage the combo’s career prospects. From practically the moment the ink had dried on Elvis’ signature on his contract with RCA, the label snootily announced that neither Scotty nor Bill’s presence would be required in the tracking room for the first RCA album. This insult would only intensify Bill’s rancor, the only real chnge in his hostile attitude from then on being the slow shifting of his anger onto Elvis himself, for not standing up like a man to support and defend his erstwhile bandmates. Bill was much older than Elvis, and he had come to regard the soon-to-be King of Rock and Roll as a wet-behind-the-ears kid, easy pickings for the wily, conniving big shots from up North in their chaffeured limos and their fancy suits. These interlopers had obviously seduced Elvis into cutting ties with those who truly cared about him and understood his music and ambitions far better than any damned Yankee ever could. Bill persuaded himself into believing that his primary concern was keeping watch over Elvis, fending off the ravening major-label wolves and looking out for Elvis’s best interests, over and above any conceit or careerist ambitions of his own.

Scotty, reliably affable and easygoing, shared Bill’s sense of betrayal and abandonment at the dastardly hands of a presumed friend who had proven false, only setting his anger and hurt aside after many years had passed and time had attenuated his youthful passions. The BP’s manager had gotten to know Scotty fairly well in the years after Elvis’s death, and says that for a long while there, just about the only conversation anybody could get out of Scotty Moore was “FUCK Elvis, the goddamned backstabbing phony” and such-like. Mostly, while he never had any of Bill’s overbearing, aggressive vanity, he still felt he had been ill-used badly enough to cherish his grudge against Elvis until only a few years before he died. Bill Black, on the other hand, carried his with him to the grave.

Testing, testing

Just signed up for a Rumble account, and thought I’d upload a couple of BP live-show vids I have just lying around the house and embed ’em here, just to see how this whole shebang works. Or, y’know, IF it works.



Huh, well how ’bout that, it DOES work. I’ve read here and there that Rumble is just about the best YouTube alternative currently available, so I felt obliged to give it a whirl.

On a roll update! Here, have another.



5

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.

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