Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Jennifer Batten

The buzz on Jennifer Batten rose from the guitar underground, and the guitar magazines promptly began chronicling her savvy musicianship and highly original approach to the electric guitar in print.

At one point Batten was in 6 different bands, playing everything from straight ahead rock, to metal,fusion, and funk. A major turning point came when she was selected from over one hundred guitarists to play in Michael Jackson's highly skilled band which toured the world for one and a half years playing for over four and a half million people. Jennifer wasted no time after the” Bad” Tour's grand finale, diving into work on her own album with renown producer (and Stevie Wonder guitarist) Michael Sembello. The stunning results can be heard on “Above, Below, and Beyond”, the title appropriately describing the interesting diversity within. With this debut release, the world at large learned what all the excitement was about.

Shortly after the record's release in the spring of '92, she was asked again to join Michael Jackson for his upcoming "Dangerous Tour". In January '93, she joined Jackson to partake in Superbowl XXVII's half time entertainment which aired to one and half billion people in 80 nations. It was the largest audience in television history.

She completed her second solo record "Jennifer Batten's Tribal Rage~Momentum," just before she was again asked to join Michael Jackson for his 2 year world tour supporting his double album "HIStory" in 1997.

Jennifer's Tribal Rage project took a much different direction than her first record and is heavily influenced by world music. It is a hybrid of rock and very exotic sounds, including African percussion, Australian didgeridoo, Caribbean steel drums and Scottish bag pipes.

In the spring of 98 Jeff Beck asked Jennifer to join his band. They joined forces for 3 years on the CD’s "Who Else", and “You Had It Coming” which were both supported by world tours.

Other guest appearances include CD's with Carmine Appice, Michael Sembello, Carl Anderson, Carina Alfie and several rock tributes.

Jennifer has authored two music books and has just released her third solo CD/DVD entitled “Whatever”. With this 3rd effort, she’s ventured into electronica, vocal samples, and film. She’s supporting this release with a multimedia one woman show, playing guitar in synch with films projected onto a giant screen. The companion DVD includes over 90 min of art films, previously unreleased music videos, interviews, commentary, and an innovative guitar lesson.

Brendt Allman

Personal life

Brendt currently lives in Doylestown, PA with his wife Tonya. He enjoys graphic arts, photography, guns, scotch, video games, and a variety of music.[1]


Early Years

Brendt began playing the guitar in 1982, at the age of 12. By 1986, he was teaching guitar, as well as playing in local cover bands in Dallas. He also learned to play the piano so he could apply his musical knowledge to composing for piano and keyboards.

Shadow Gallery

At age 20, he joined the band Sorcerer with Carl Cadden-James, Mike Baker, Ron Evans, and Chris Ingles. Covering many songs that most bands wouldn't attempt, they proved their musicianship, flawlessly playing tribute to a variety of Yngwie Malmsteen songs, some of the more difficult Rush tunes, and a collection of many favorite classic rock songs. Brendt and band member Carl Cadden-James decided they wanted to create more original tunes, so they set out to work on a piece called "The Queen of the City of Ice" which showcased a long, involved more progressive direction.

The band changed their name to Shadow Gallery and put together an 8-track demo of material, recorded in Cadden-James' basement. The demo was well received by Magna Carta, an independent progressive rock label, who officially signed the band August 23, 1991.[2]

Brendt is noted as a founding member, guitarist, and songwriter for Shadow Gallery. Shadow Gallery has released seven albums worldwide through Magna Carta Records (until 2003) and Inside Out. The band has been noted as one of the most important and innovative progressive metal bands to come out in the last decade.[3]

“Shadow Gallery is a band with an extremely loyal fanbase, an irrefutable integrity, and a unique sound that will doubtlessly guarantee its continued existence for years to come.” [4]

Other projects

At age 26, Brendt played with Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) and Billy Sheehan (David Lee Roth band / Mr. Big) and various other artists on the Rush Tribute album: Working Man. He was also a composer on the James LaBrie solo album, MullMuzzler: ‘’Keep It To Yourself’’, contributing three tracks.[1]

Always a fan of jazz music, Brendt is currently writing an album of Jazz Fusion for eventual release, while continuously remaining a principle songwriter for Shadow Gallery.[1]


Brendt's early influences include Stevie Ray Vaughn, Albert King and Angus Young, but Yngwie Malmsteen's “Rising Force” changed his life. Other guitarist influences are Randy Rhodes, Vinnie Moore, Al Di Meola and Jason Becker. Heavy metal also dominated his early years with Metallica and Iron Maiden being a big influence. He also dabbled with progressive rock, listening to Kansas, Yes, Genesis, etc. and was raised in a household where Gershwin and Mozart were loved.[1]


With Shadow Gallery

“Shadow Gallery” (1992)
Carved in Stone (1995)
Tyranny (1998)
Legacy (2001)
Room V (2005)
Prime Cuts (2007)
Digital Ghosts (2009)
As a Composer

James Labrie’s MullMuzzler - Keep It to Yourself (1999)
As a guest musician

Working Man - Rush Tribute (1996)
The Moon Revisited -Pink Floyd Tribute (1995)
Tales From Yesterday – Yes Tribute(1995)
Supper's Ready - Genesis Tribute 1995)
Helena and Maria – “Serene” (2006)

Kiko Loureiro

In March 2007 Kiko Loureiro was voted “Best Guitarist” by respected Japanese music publication BURRN. Quite an achievement for a guitarist from Brasil whose meteoric career has spawned numerous studio and live albums with ANGRA, as well as solo albums “No Gravity” and “Universo Inverso”.

Beginning his musical studies at age eleven, Kiko has never stopped evolving both as a musician and as a composer. Today, at age 34, he is in the enviable position of being respected, well-known and influential worldwide.

Kiko was just 19 years old when he was invited to join the newly-formed ANGRA. Before then he studied with Mozart Mello and played with various local groups in his hometown of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Kiko's solo career has developped parallel to that of Angra.

In March 1993 Kiko filmed his first instructional video. Shortly thereafter he travelled to Germany to record Angra's debut album “Angels Cry”. The album's overwhelming success opened many new markets to the band, such as Europe and Japan.

Two years later the band recorded “Holy Land”, again in Germany, with production handled by Charlie Bauerfeind and Sascha Paeth. This record strenghthened the band's position as a leading melodic heavy metal act on the world music scene.

Prior to the 1998 release of Angra's third studio opus “Fireworks”, they issued two Eps “Freedom Call” and “Holy Live” the latter recorded in Paris, France. “Fireworks” was recorded at major UK studios Abbey Road and Power House, and produced by Chris Tsangarides. Its concept was different from their previous work, it was more focused on their heavy metal roots.

In October 2001 Angra presented their new line-up and new album “Rebirth” to the world. Again recorded in Germany, but this time produced by Dennis Ward, the album's title was self-explanatory! Both the record and the new line-up's live work received unanimous worldwide acclaim. Following the success of “Rebirth” both Angra, the band, and Kiko, the guitarist, garnered many rewards from numerous Brazilian and Japanese publications. In the same year Kiko released another instructional video, this one his first of many on DVD for Japanese publication Young Guitar.

In May 2002 a “Rebirth” songbook was published, the first hard rock publication of its genre in Brasil! It has since been distributed around the world.

The mini-album “Hunters and Prey”, once again produced by Dennis Ward, was issued around the same time. It included eight songs and a multimedia track. During the supporting tour Angra performed a major tour in Asia.

2003 saw the worldwide release of “Rebirth World Tour – Live in Sao Paulo” DVD and double CD.

At the same time Kiko released two more instructional DVDs “Técnica e Versatilidade” and “Os Melhores Riffs e Solos do Angra”. Both videos show the guitarist at his best, in a clear and easy-to-learn way, with many tips and advice to enrich the musical repertoire of any guitarist.

September 2004 saw the release of Angra's highly-anticipated concept work “Temple of Shadows”. The musicians are at their technical and creative best. Once again produced by Dennis Ward, the album features Brazilian musician/composer Milton Nascimento on the track “Late Redemption”.

During his live work with ANGRA Kiko always found time to highlight his musicianship by giving guitar clinics or workshops around the world. His debut solo album “No Gravity” was recorded in Germany, once again produced by Dennis Ward. Kiko plays all instruments on the thirteen instrumental tracks except drums, handled by Mike Terrana. “No Gravity” had a worldwide release in 2005. Both a “No Gravity” songbook and a playback CD were also issued and are highly sought-after by musicians and fans alike.

Kiko's talent is increasingly recognized around the world and companies such as Tagima guitars, ESP guitars, Laney amps, Sparflex cables, D'Addario strings, Zoom effects, Morley wah and Seymour Duncan pickups have associated their name to his and also released signature models under Kiko’s specifications.

Kiko has also featured on the cover of music publications from South America to Japan to Europe, too numerous to mention!

2006 saw the almost simultaneous release of Angra's latest opus “Aurora Consurgens”, yet another concept album, and Kiko's solo work “Universo Inverso”. This second solo album took an entirely different direction from the first one. Kiko is joined by three respected Brasilian and Cuban musicians for an innovative ten tracks of Latin Jazz instrumental music. Whereas this new direction may have surprised some of Angra's and Kiko's diehard metal fans, it has received positive critical acclaim worldwide and only serves to consolidate his musical ability and creative versatility!
In 2009 Kiko released his acclaimed third solo album. Released all around the world, “Fullblast” features Mike Terrana on drums and Felipe Andreoli on bass. At the same period Angra and Sepultura did a Brazilian Metal celebration tour in many different Brazilian Cities.

In 2010 Rock House, the leader in music instruction, announced the release of a new 2-set instructional DVD Creative Fusion, Beyond Pentatonics & Power Chord featuring Brazilian guitar virtuoso.

Kiko Loureiro is currently at Norcal Studios in Sao Paulo, to record the new Angra's album.

Thomas Youngblood

Thomas Youngblood is the guitarist, founding member and one of the main creative forces behind the progressive/symphonic power metal band Kamelot from Tampa, Florida. He began playing guitar at the age of 17 and in 1991 founded Kamelot with Richard Warner. Since Warner's departure, Youngblood has shared songwriting duties mostly with vocalist Roy Khan.

Thomas' wife, Mari Youngblood, is a soprano vocalist who has made some guest appearances on more recent Kamelot albums. Together they have a daughter named Annelise, whose voice appears on the track "Soul Society" from The Black Halo.

Curtis Mayfield

Personal Information

Born Curtis Lee Mayfield on June 3, 1942, in Chicago, IL; died on December 26, 1999, in Atlanta, GA of natural causes; married three times; children: eleven.


The Impressions, lead singer and songwriter, 1958-70; Curtom Record and Publishing Co., owner, 1970-99; solo performer, 1970-99.

Life's Work

Curtis Mayfield was an early comer to the world of music. When he was barely ten years old he was already writing music, and by the time he was fifteen he was invited to join the group the Impressions, a group that would come to be known world-wide for its rhythm and blues sound found in such songs as "Gypsy Woman," the song for which the group was eventually honored with a place in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Mayfield went on to an incredibly successful solo career during which he became famous for such popular songs as "Superfly" and "Freddie's Dead." He was a political man, many of whose songs, such as "We're a Winner," "I'm So Proud," and "People Get Ready," were unofficially associated with the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. In 1990 Mayfield was injured during a concert rehearsal and paralyzed. He didn't let that stop him, however, and before his death in 1999 Mayfield wrote more music and was admitted as a solo artist into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Joined the Impressions

Born on June 3, 1942, Curtis Lee Mayfield grew up in a poor family that moved from neighborhood to neighborhood in Chicago. By the time he was in high school, his family had settled in the Cabrini-Green projects on Chicago's North Side. Mayfield's strongest early musical influence came from his membership in a local gospel group called the Northern Jubilee Gospel Singers, which included three cousins and Jerry Butler. But young Mayfield was also interested in his own music. As Mayfield told the Detroit News in 1974, "I was writing music when I was 10 or 11 years old." Mayfield's grandmother was a preacher in the Traveling Souls Spiritualist Church, and traces of church and gospel music are evident in many of his compositions. Mayfield attended Wells High School on Chicago's North Side along with another popular singer, Major Lance, but he left when he was in the tenth grade to begin performing with the Impressions.

The Impressions began playing around 1956 as the Roosters in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with Fred Cash, Sam Gooden, Emanuel Thomas, and the brothers Richard and Arthur Brooks. Seeking to advance their musical careers, Gooden and the Brooks brothers went north to Chicago in 1957 and moved to the North Side in the Cabrini-Green projects. Jerry Butler was a senior in high school at the time, and he acted as a replacement for the vocalists who had stayed in Tennessee. Butler encouraged Mayfield to join the group, saying they needed someone "who could play an instrument and who could help us get our harmony together," as quoted by Robert Pruter in Chicago Soul. By this time, Mayfield was writing gospel-influenced songs and had learned how to play the guitar.

The group made some early recordings for the Bandera label and were then discovered by Eddie Thomas of Vee Jay records, who became their manager and changed their name to the Impressions. Vee Jay and Chess records were two of Chicago's major rhythm and blues labels of the time, and the Impressions made their first record for Vee Jay about six months after Mayfield joined the group. Released on the company's subsidiary label, Falcon, "For Your Precious Love" featured Jerry Butler's lead vocals. Its first issue sold over nine hundred thousand copies. Vee Jay's A&R man Calvin Carter signed them immediately after hearing the song, which he reportedly liked for its spiritual feel, a genuine departure from the doo-wop harmonies of the day.

Vee Jay promoted the group as "Jerry Butler and the Impressions" and developed Butler as a solo artist. After three singles, Butler left the group to go out on his own. As Mayfield told Pruter, "When Jerry left ... it allowed me to generate and pull out my own talents as a writer and a vocalist." Mayfield's soprano singing contrasted with Butler's baritone leads. The group released a few singles with Mayfield as leader and then was dropped by Vee Jay. From 1959 to 1961, the Impressions temporarily split up, and Mayfield began writing songs and playing guitar for Butler in 1960.

Gospel Influence Proved Popular

By 1961 Mayfield had saved enough money--about a thousand dollars--to regroup the Impressions and take them to New York to arrange a recording session. In July they recorded "Gypsy Woman" for ABC-Paramount. Mayfield was only 18 when the group signed with ABC-Paramount, and it was the beginning of a seven-year string of popular and rhythm and blues hits that were all composed by Mayfield. Mayfield, Sam Gooden, Fred Cash, and Arthur and Richard Brooks sang on "Gypsy Woman." The Brooks brothers left the Impressions in 1962, and the remaining members continued as a trio throughout the 1960s.

In 1963 the group recorded "It's All Right," which Pruter termed "the first single to define the classic style of the 1960s Impressions." Producer Jerry Pate "lifted the energy level considerably, adding blaring horns and a more forceful, percussive bottom," wrote Pruter. "It's All Right" was a crossover hit that went to Number Four on the pop charts and Number One on the rhythm and blues charts in the fall of 1963. The song featured "the lead switching off from among the three and the two others singing in harmony with the lead," Pruter commented in Chicago Soul . It was a fresh new sound in rhythm and blues, but critics have noted that it came directly from Mayfield's gospel singing experience.

In 1964 the Impressions became a major act with a series of strong singles that included "I'm So Proud," "Keep On Pushing," and "Amen." Mayfield was apparently inspired by the emergence of the civil rights movement. The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., and Jesse Jackson adopted "Keep On Pushing" as an unofficial theme song for the movement. Dan Kening, writing in the Chicago Tribune, proclaimed that Mayfield's "inspirational lyrics reflected a strong black consciousness while preaching the tenets of hard work, persistence, and faith as the key to achieving equality."

The group peaked with their best material in 1965 when they released "People Get Ready," a song with heavy gospel imagery and feeling. The album of the same name included such songs as "Woman's Got Soul" and the churchy "Meeting Over Yonder." Following this peak, the group was less successful and had fewer hits. In 1967 "We're a Winner" managed to reach Number 14 on Billboard's pop charts, in spite of the fact that many white radio stations, including Chicago's WLS, would not play it. That song, and its follow-up "We're Rolling On," also caused black radio stations problems in the late 1960s. As Pruter wrote, "Surprisingly at that time, black radio had not kept pace with its black constituency and there was a lot of resistance by programmers over playing such 'overtly' political songs. The popularity of those songs ["We're a Winner" and "We're Rolling On"] had the effect of pushing black radio in the direction its listeners were going."

In addition to composing, singing, and playing the guitar, Mayfield was also interested in setting up his own record label. In 1960, at the age of 21, he made the unprecedented move of establishing his own music publishing company, Curtom, while recording at Vee Jay. Mayfield began setting up two labels in 1966, Mayfield and Windy C., but it was in 1968 that he established his most successful label, also named Curtom. He took the Impressions away from ABC and also recorded and produced such artists as Major Lance, Baby Huey and the Babysitters, and the Five Stairsteps. Mayfield's songwriting and producing abilities were a key factor in the label's success, which enjoyed distribution by Buddah from 1968 to 1975 and by Warner Brothers from 1975 until Mayfield folded the label in 1980.

Found Success With Solo Career

Mayfield announced his departure from the Impressions in August of 1970. He began his solo career in 1971, offering "a biting commentary of the American scene and impressions of oppressed people," according to a review in Billboard. A New York Times music critic said of his first solo album, Curtis: "Mayfield himself continues to be a kind of contemporary preacher-through-music. He sings in a breathlessly high, pure voice, breaking his phrases into speech-like patterns, his rhythms pushed by the urgency of his thought.... He is not a lyrical singer, and his message seems as important to him as his melody." Including songs of up to ten minutes in length, Curtis established Mayfield as an album rather than a singles artist.

Mayfield began a successful career writing soundtracks for films with the 1972 movie, Superfly. Somewhat controversial, the film glorified the life of a drug pusher and was part of the then-popular genre of "blaxploitation" films. According to a New York Times review, "Mayfield's music is more specifically anti-drugs than the philosophical content of the movie, and it is also considerably more stylish in design and execution." Two top-ten hit singles resulted from the soundtrack: "Freddie's Dead" and "Superfly."

Throughout the 1970s, Mayfield continued to write soundtracks for several films and solidified his reputation as a solo artist. Mayfield's solo career featured harder sounding songs than he wrote for the Impressions, with didactic lyrics and social commentary. In spite of adverse criticism, Pruter assessed Mayfield's 1970s output positively, writing, "Some of the very best black popular music of the 1970s came from Mayfield, who despite the many misses during the decade was one of the creative leaders in establishing a new contemporary style of rhythm and blues, one with a militant, harder edge."

The Impressions regrouped in 1983 for a reunion tour. Original members Butler, Mayfield, Gooden, and Cash performed the 1960s hits of the Impressions along with the solo hits of Butler and Mayfield. As reviewed by Robert Palmer in the New York Times, the performances "amounted to a capsule history of recent black popular music, from the slick doo-wop and grittier gospel-based vocal group styles of the 1950s to Mr. Butler's urbane pop-soul, Curtis Mayfield's soul message songs and later funk, and the styles the Impressions have tackled as a group." Palmer continued: "The Impressions were one of the two top rhythm-and-blues vocal groups of the 1960s; the other was the Temptations. Both were rooted in the rich traditions of black gospel music."

Mayfield's influence on a new generation of listeners was evident in many ways. His 1960s compositions for the Impressions have enjoyed numerous cover versions from a wide range of popular singers. And some critics have suggested that his anti-drug messages, most emphatically expressed in the songs for Superfly, fit well with the new films created by young black filmmakers. Popular rap singer and actor Ice-T, who sang on "Superfly 1990" with Mayfield, said in tribute to the artist, "There's only been a couple of people I've met [in the music business] that to me are really heavy. Curtis is one of them."

Continued Career After Paralyzing Accident

A native Chicagoan who moved to Atlanta in 1980, Curtis Mayfield was enjoying the best comeback year of his career in 1990. His soul vocal group the Impressions, was nominated for a place in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and a successful cover version of their 1961 hit "Gypsy Woman," was recorded by Santana. Take It to the Streets, Mayfield's first album in more than five years, was released in early 1990, and he toured the United States, Europe, and Japan to promote it. Capitol Records was set to release the soundtrack to The Return of Superfly, a rap sampler featuring four original songs written and performed by Mayfield.

Then tragedy struck. On a windy summer night in August of 1990, Mayfield was getting set to start a concert at Wingate Field in Brooklyn. As he was plugging in his guitar, a gust of wind toppled a light tower near the stage, striking him in the head. The accident resulted in three broken vertebrae and paralysis for Mayfield from the neck down. After spending a week in a Brooklyn hospital, he was transferred to the Shepherd Spinal Center in Atlanta. Keeping his spirits up, Mayfield began physical therapy in September of 1990 and made his first public appearance in February of 1991, when he donated $100,000 to set up the Curtis Mayfield Research Fund at the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis in Florida. His family was reportedly hopeful that his physical therapy will enable him to make at least a partial recovery.

Mayfield might have been injured, but he wasn't forgotten. Various artists got together in 1994 to put out a tribute album in honor of the great Curtis Mayfield, including Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, B.B. King, Lenny Kravitz, the Isley Brothers, and Bruce Springsteen. Mayfield himself got back into the recording studio to do "All Men Are Brothers" for the album. He told Guitar Player magazine that the album meant a lot to him. "I was just overwhelmed. It brought tears to my eyes. As they would record them, they would send me copies of each. I'd play them over and over, and there wasn't a song I didn't like. It just goes to show you that no matter how bad things might get, there's always room for something good to happen."

And Mayfield's music stayed alive. Rhino Records came out with a three-CD boxed set of Mayfield's music in 1996. It included music from his days with the Impressions through to his later solo career. In 1997 Mayfield released the new album New World Order. When asked how his music writing had changed since his accident, Mayfield told People Weekly, "It's difficult simply because when an idea hits me, I can't just up and grab a guitar or recorder or a pencil and write it down.... But I'm happy to know I can still lock in lyrics, and I have enough voice and strength in my lungs to sing a song." As an even greater tribute to the man and his music, Mayfield was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 for his solo recordings.

On December 26, 1999, Mayfield died in Atlanta, Georgia of natural causes. Even though he had passed on, his music and career continue to be influential. In 2000 a two-hour musical celebration was held to commemorate Mayfield's life and career at the First AME Church in Los Angeles. Performers such as Stevie Wonder, Lauryn Hill, the Impressions, Mayfield's old band, and Danny Glover led the event. Also in 2000, Mayfield was posthumously inducted into the Songwriters' Hall of Fame. It is a great tribute to a man who led many in their paths to musical art. As Eric Clapton told Guitar Player magazine, "Curtis changed the course of modern music, bringing refinement, cool, and social comment to R&B and leading the way for songwriters, players, and singers in all fields of music. He [was] a great talent and inspiration to us all.


Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, inductee with the Impressions, 1990; Nat. Acad. of Recording Arts & Sciences Lifetime Achievement Award, 1994; Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, inductee as a solo artist, 1998; Songwriters' Hall of Fame, inductee, 2000.


Selected discography

(With The Impressions) The Impressions, ABC-Paramount, 1963.
(With The Impressions) The Never Ending Impressions, ABC-Paramount, 1964.
(With The Impressions) Keep On Pushing, ABC-Paramount, 1964.
(With The Impressions) People Get Ready, ABC-Paramount, 1965.
(With The Impressions) Ridin' High, ABC-Paramount, 1966.
(With The Impressions) The Fabulous Impressions, ABC-Paramount, 1967.
(With The Impressions) This Is My Country, Curtom, 1968.
(With The Impressions) Young Mods' Forgotten Story, Curtom, 1969.
(With The Impressions) Check Out Your Mind, Curtom, 1970.
(With The Impressions) The Vintage Years: Featuring Jerry Butler and Curtis Mayfield, Sire, 1976.
Curtis, Curtom, 1970.
Curtis Live, Curtom, 1971.
Roots, Curtom, 1971.
Superfly (soundtrack), Curtom, 1972.
Back to the World, Curtom, 1973.
Sweet Exorcist, Curtom, 1974.
Got to Find a Way, Curtom, 1974.
There's No Place Like America, Curtom, 1975.
Give Get Take and Have, Curtom, 1976.
Never Say You Can't Survive, Curtom, 1977.
Short Eyes (soundtrack), Curtom, 1977.
Do It All Night, Curtom, 1978.
Heartbeat, RSO/Curtom, 1978.
Something to Believe In, RSO/Curtom, 1979.
The Right Combination, RSO/Curtom, 1980.
Honesty, Boardwalk, 1982.
Take It to the Streets, Curtom, 1990.
The Return of Superfly (soundtrack), Capitol, 1990.
New World Order, 1996.
Further Reading


Albert, George, and Frank Hoffman, editors, The Cashbox Black Contemporary Singles Charts, 1960-1984, Scarecrow, 1986.
Pruter, Robert, Chicago Soul, University of Illinois Press, 1991.
St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, 5 Volumes, St. James Press, 2000.
Whitburn, Joel, Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990, Record Research, 1991.
---, Joel Whitburn's Top R&B Singles 1942-1988, Record Research, 1988.

Bo Diddley

Personal Information

Born Elias Bates on December 30, 1928, in McComb, MS; son of Eugene Bates and Ethel Wilson; legally adopted by mother's cousin, Gussie McDaniel, 1934; married Louise Woolingham (divorced); married Ethel Smith, 1946 (divorced); married Kay Reynolds, 1960.


Formed Langley Avenue Jive Cats with Earl Hooker, early 1940s; recorded for Chess Records, 1955-74; toured the United Kingdom and performed with the Rolling Stones, 1963; toured with the Clash, 1979; performed at Live Aid Concert in Philadelphia, 1985; played at George Bush's presidential inaugural, 1989; performed at Bill Clinton's presidential inaugural, 1993.

Life's Work

Bo Diddley surprised the music world in the mid-1950s when he unleashed a new guitar sound, one dominated by heavy rhythmic drive and distortion, and one that was quickly absorbed by other players. "Unarguably one of the most-influential musicians in rock 'n' roll," noted Doug Pullen in Music Hound Rock, "Diddley's distinctive 'chunka, chunka' rhythm guitar riff is the stuff of which rock's bedrock was made." The sound formed the core of several hits, including "Who Do You Love," "Bo Diddley," and "You Can't Judge a Book by Its Cover." Dave Marsh wrote in the New Rolling Stone Record Guide, "Bo Diddley was one of the great fathers of rock & roll, ranking with such transitional blues artists as Fats Domino and Chuck Berry in both importance and influence."

Diddley was born Elias Bates in McComb, Mississippi, on December 30, 1928. At eight he was adopted by his mother's cousin, who taught Sunday school in Chicago, and changed his last name to McDaniel. He took classical violin lessons from Professor O.W. Frederick at Ebenezer Baptist Church, but later switched to guitar after hearing John Lee Hooker on the radio. In his teens he started boxing and became known by his nickname, Bo Diddley. He attended Foster Vocational High School, where he learned to build violins and guitars, but eventually quit school in order to work at manual labor jobs. He also played guitar on street corners during his spare time to make money, but his adoptive mother, his uncles, and the church's preachers and deacons protested against the "devil's music." Due to these conflicts, he later left home.

In the early 1950s Diddley and Billy Boy Arnold formed a band that included a washboard and maracas player. By 1954 the group was performing at the Sawdust Trail and Castle Rock in Chicago, and they recorded a demo to circulate at record labels like United and Vee-Jay. The disc finally came to the attention of Leonard Chess of Chess Records. He liked it, he told Diddley, but the song would have to be re-recorded and the obscene lyrics changed to make it marketable. Named after the singer, the single "Bo Diddley" rose to number two on Billboard's rhythm and blues chart. Mark Guarino wrote in the Arlington Heights, Illinois, Daily Herald, "Starting with his first hit, Diddley infused a raw, distorted guitar power that hadn't been heard before."

Diddley's guitar sound, filled with propulsive rhythm, helped to lay the foundation for rock-n-roll. In Marshall Cavendish's Illustrated Guide to Popular Music, writer Val Wilmer declared, "An entire rock generation cut its teeth on the 'Diddley beat,' which Bo first heard played on tambourines in church." Music scholars have traced the roots of the beat to an even earlier time. "Musicologists have pointed to that beat's roots in West Africa before slavery," wrote Dave Scheiber in the Chicago Sun Times, and "then to Deep South slaves patting out what became known as the 'Hambone' rhythm on their bodies."

As "Bo Diddley" rose on the chart, the singer was invited to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show, but there was a hitch. The producers had originally wanted Tennessee Ernie Ford to appear, because his hit "Sixteen Tons" was the fastest-rising single on the charts. They asked Diddley to perform "Sixteen Tons," believing it was the song, as opposed to the performer, that really mattered. When he complained that he didn't know the song, the producers rehearsed it with him and wrote the words to the song in large letters on cue cards. When the time came for the live broadcast, Dr. Jive introduced the guitarist, who took the stage and promptly began to sing "Bo Diddley." As he exited, he was reported to have said: "Man, maybe that was 'Sixteen Tons' on those cards, but all I saw was 'Bo Diddley!'"

1950s' rock-n-rollers like Diddley fell on hard times during the 1960s. Even though Jimi Hendrix and others built their guitar techniques on the work of early innovators like Diddley, the earlier style was considered passé. This attitude made it difficult for old-school players to find steady, good paying work. During this time Diddley acquired a number of debts attempting to finance his children's education. In order to meet expenses, he sold the rights to a number of his songs. Despite these difficulties, he continued to score a number of minor hits in the United States and England. "You Can't Judge a Book By It's Cover" rose to number 48 in the United States in 1962 and "Ooh Baby" entered the Hot Hundred; in the United Kingdom "Pretty Thing" reached the top forty in 1964 and "Hey Good Lookin'" followed in 1965.

Despite general public recognition of his contributions to rock-n-roll, and acknowledgements from high-profile players like the Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen, Diddley's innovative sound and string of hits have generated few financial rewards for the musician. "Like many early rock 'n' roll artists--especially African-American acts," noted Scheiber, "record producers, music publishers and booking agents pocketed most of the cash." Because he has received inadequate compensation for his work, Diddley has had to maintain an active touring schedule in order to support himself, despite health problems. "You gotta work," he told Anthony DellaFlora in the Albuquerque Journal. "If I ever got paid, maybe I wouldn't have to work. But I got ripped off very bad with the record companies and the publishing mess." Since 1980 Diddley has fought an ongoing legal battle seeking compensation for his music.

Diddley's legal and financial difficulties, however, have done little to slow the rock-n-roll innovator down. At the end of 2002, he had begun work on a rap song about Saddam Hussein ("Saddam Hussein, pick up your phone, if you do we might leave you alone"), and was planning to record his first album in four years at his home studio. He is one of the rare musicians to have performed at both Republican and Democratic presidential inaugurations. Diddley earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation. "We may never know exactly who is the father of rock 'n' roll," wrote DellaFlora, "but if a paternity test is ever performed, Bo Diddley's musical DNA will surely have to be sampled."


Lifetime Achievement Award, Rhythm and Blues Foundation; Star, Hollywood Walk of Fame; inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 1987.


Selected discography

Bo Diddley, Checker, 1957.
Go Bo Diddley, Checker, 1959.
Have Guitar, Will Travel, Checker, 1959.
Bo Diddley's Beach Party, Checker, 1963.
Golden Decade, Chess, 1973.
The Chess Box, Chess, 1990.
His Best (Chess 50th Anniversary Collection), Chess, 1997.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hank Marvin

As a staff writer for the Swedish guitar magazine FUZZ I have had the distinct pleasure of interviewing a number of my early guitar heroes - Jeff Beck, Steve Cropper, Buddy Guy and Albert Lee among others - but never the first guitarist that I ever tried to emulate, namely Hank Marvin. The very first tune I ever learned all the way through (well, more or less) was ”Apache”... So when Hank came to Sweden on his ”Final Tour” earlier this year it suddenly became a matter of urgency to try to arrange an interview. FUZZ had tried to get an interview on previous visits, but the perpetual mantra from the record company was always the same: ”Hank doesn’t give interviews”, full stop. But I couldn’t let this last chance slip by me, so this time I decided to go direct to the source, and play my trump card.

I’ll let you in on a secret - over 40 years ago, I was a member of the Cliff Richard and The Shadows Fan Club, one of 90 boys among some 18,000 girls. The club was run by a girl called Jan Vane, who felt sorry for the boys - they never seemed to win any prizes in the monthly fan club contests. She announced a ”boys only”contest - ”Pick a name for a pop group”. The judges were Hank and Bruce Welch, as I recall. My offering was ”The Spectacles”... I guess all the other entries must have been rubbish, because I won. The prize was the red ”sharkskin” suit Cliff wore in the concert scene with the Shadows at the end of the film ”The Young Ones”, signed by Cliff in the lining (with a nice white shirt and under-collar bow tie). It hangs in my wardrobe to this day. Not that I can even get into the jacket now - I had grown out of the trousers by the time I was 18. But it’s cool. It’s very cool.

So I wrote a personal letter to Hank, related this story, and asked very politely if he would grant me an interview. I had this delivered by motorcycle messenger to his dressing room at the Concert House in Gothenburg the evening before he was to perform in Stockholm, where I live. To my delight and surprise Hank’s tour manager rang about an hour and a half later - I was welcome to meet Hank over lunch at his hotel in Stockholm the next day! So here is an exclusive interview with a living legend, the man who inspired a whole generation of guitar players, and even many of their children, Hank Marvin, lead guitarist of The Shadows.

Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch met in their hometown of Newcastle, and formed a band called The Railroaders in 1957. They soon moved to London, and changed their name to The Chesternuts when singer Peter Chester joined them for their first single release. Cliff Richard’s manager discovered Hank at the legendary ”2 i’s” coffee bar, and invited him to audition for Cliff’s group The Drifters. Hank accepted, on the condition that his friend Bruce was included in the deal. Also in the group at the time were bass guitarist Paul Samwell and drummer Terry Smart. Jet Harris took over the bass in October 1958, and Tony Meehan replaced Smart the year after, completing the classic lineup.

Cliff Richard had already hit in a big way in mid-1958 with his first single release ”Move It”, followed up by a row of Top 5 and Number One hits. The Drifters released a couple of singles, but neither made any great inroads on the charts. In October 1959 the group changed its name to The Shadows, when the American vocal group The Drifters gained an injunction forbidding them to use the name in the USA. (Cliff and The Shadows made one visit in 1960, but never really broke in the States.) ”Apache”, released in July 1960, was a huge hit, staying on the Top 40 for over 20 weeks. (Dutch guitarist Jorgen Ingmann scored the hit with the Jerry Lordan tune in the States.) The Shadows had more than 25 English Top 40 hits before they split up in 1968. If you count in the 33 hit singles they recorded with Cliff Richard the group had more English Top 40 hits than The Beatles.

Hank Marvin’s influence in rock guitar circles is indisputable, and cannot be overstated. Gary Moore, Ritchie Blackmore, Brian May, Tony Iommi, Peter Green, Mark Knopfler, Peter Frampton, Andy Summers - when all these guys (and all the rest of us) took their first stumbling steps on the road to guitar proficiency, ”Apache”, ”Man Of Mystery”, ”F.B.I.” or maybe Cliff’s ”Livin’ Doll” were among the first tunes they tried to learn. Any budding guitarist more or less had to learn them, to have any chance of passing an audition to play in a band at all. (If you were really good, you could even play ”Foot Tapper”.) The singer in Jeff Beck’s first band, The Deltones, has related that the band were infinitely impressed by Beck’s ability to play Shadows tunes ”just like Hank” when he auditioned for them. Beck has spoken dismissively of this, but I still think I can hear echoes of Hank in his playing even today, particularly in his use of the vibrato bar and on some of the slow ballads. Marvin’s influence on the other side of the Atlantic has become more widely appreciated in later years, in spite of the fact that neither Cliff Richard nor The Shadows ever really broke in the States in any big way. Artists as diverse as Steve Stevens, Neil Young, Randy Bachman and Bela Fleck have all named Hank Marvin among their influences.

It’s hard to tell that the slim, smiling figure approaching me in the lobby is 60 years old. Hank Marvin doesn’t look it, even att close range. But he doesn’t want us to take any photos - a Norwegian paper had recently printed a picture he didn’t like at all. Hank is just as relaxed as he looks in pictures - and on the concert stage, for that matter. He seems to be an open, friendly and kind-hearted man, and is surprisingly interested in discussing techicalities about his guitars and equipment, despite more than 40 years in the business. He also has a typically British sense of humour, understated and self-deprecating, and a ready laugh.

So - the big question on everybody’s minds is, on the posters it says - ”The Final Tour” - that’s the final word, is it?

- The final solution! (laughs) - well, I suppose everyone at some point must make a decision whether to continue touring. I’m very careful about this, because I don’t want to shut any doors. I have no intention of doing any more of these long, intensive tours. But that’s not to say I might not do something in the form of live work at some point, maybe of a very short duration, or something that interests me, whatever, in the future - I simply don’t know at this stage. But just to recap, I certainly don’t want to do any more of these long tours. So yes, this is The Final Tour.

But your’e not giving up playing?

- Not entirely, no. I’m going to have a long rest, though. I shall go into intensive care after the tour! (Laughs) Because we have 64 concerts on this one- when I finish the dates in Scandinavia we have another 50 in the UK. Everyone at the end of a tour like that - the band, the crew, everyone - really feels like we’re ready for a break. It’s pretty gruelling.

Yeah, I’ve been there - not on that level, but I’ve played 6 nights a week for 9 months on the trot, so I know, it’s hard work.

- It is. It’s not so much the performances, funnily enough - I think we all enjoy the performances - it’s the travelling, you’re constantly having late nights, sometimes early mornings because of having to catch flights - and then perhaps interviews on local radio, or local TV. It makes the days often very long, and very demanding. And when that goes on for that amount of time, it can - harrumph! - for a man of my age - (laughs) it can be - knackering!

You’re going to be 60 this year, is that right?

- I am 60, I was 60 last October. But I appreciate the thought!

LAST October? Congratulations!
You’ve been living in Australia for the past - what? - 15 years?

- 15 years plus now, almost 15 -1/2. Yes.

What was the big attraction with Australia?

- Several things, really. We live in Perth, Western Australia - the weather is a Mediterranean climate there, I prefer warmth to cold - and less people, less traffic...

Cleaner air, maybe?

- Well, yes - you get a feeling that the city is generally cleaner than say, British cities anyway. You’ve got great beaches, lovely countryside, great food over there - eating out is pretty cheap over there. It seems to be the quality of life generally is better. And because I - and my family, my wife - we prefer a place where there is less traffic and less people, it suits us. It seems as though there’s therefore less pressure. You just feel more relaxed in that kind of environment, I think.

And then of course there’s the Aussies, they’re kind of special too.

- Yeah, they’re very relaxed people, generally, in their approach to things. But then having said that, they get a lot of things done. They’re quite a creative people, really - a lot of inventions, I was surprised, come out of Australia - and they do very well at sports, and some very good music has come out of Australia. So whilst they’ve got this ”She’ll be right, mate” attitude, they still seem to get quite a lot of stuff done, and creative ideas, and things.

You know’ it’s funny, but all these years - I never found out until last night that Hank Marvin wasn’t your real name.

- Well it is my real name, but I wasn’t born with that name. I changed it when I was 18. So it is my real name, the other one doesn’t exist! Funnily enough, there was a period - maybe if I was coming into the music scene now as a youngster, I perhaps wouldn’t change my name. But in those days it seemed to be the thing to do, everybody had a stage name.

Right - you couldn’t call yourself Harry Webb (Sir Cliff Richard’s given name) back then, could you? It was all Adam Faith, and Billy Fury, and Rory Storm!

- That’s right. It just seemed the way to go, I’d been known as Hank for many. many years, so that just stuck. The ”Marvin” I got from {country singer} Marvin Rainwater - I thought ”I love the sound of that name Marvin, it sounds good.”

You got the ultimate accolade really, didn’t you - your name became London rhyming slang! {”I’m Hank (Marvin)!” = I’m starving (hungry)}

- So it was a good move, you see! The other one could have been rhymed with something else - very unfortunate! (Laughs)

(Interviewer collapses in helpless laughter...) {Hank Marvin was christened ”Brian Robson Rankin”...} (Wiping tears from eyes) Well, you’re still using the Custom Shop Strats, obviously, but you’ve been doing a lot of acoustic work recently.

- On stage I use three of the Custom Shop Strats. the signature models - simply because they’re all strung with different gauge strings. I use heavy strings for the old Shads stuff, and I use 11 to 50’s for most of the stuff, that’s my kind of compromise string gauge. Then we do a rock medley where I attempt a little bit of country style playing on one number, where I use 10 to 46’s. I sort of prefer the sound of the heavier strings really. But getting back to the acoustics, ever since I’ve been doing the solo tours we’ve had a little acoustic set, and it’s always gone very well, and with this new album - the ”Guitar Player” album - we’re doing a little more acoustic on this tour, we’re doing six tracks from the album. And I enjoy playing acoustic, I kind of got into it over the last - ten years, I suppose.

Well of course it’s become a lot easier now, with the modern pickup systems, hasn’t it?

- Oh yes!

I remember seeing you at the Concert House about 15 years ago with the Shadows, you were doing an acoustic set back then too.

- Were we singing with the acoustics?

That’s right, yes.

- I’ve done a bit of that with my band, but this is all instrumental, it’s all tracks from the album.

Do you still do the Chinese number?

- The Chinese one with the tuning up?

Too-nin, yeah! (The Shadows’ traditional ”And now we’re going to do a little Chinese number called Too-Nin...”)

- (Laughs) I forgot that one. I should stick it in again! Thanks for the memories! (Laughs) On stage, we do a couple of numbers which have acoustic solos in the middle of them, where I have the guitar on a Gracie stand, and I switch from electric to acoustic. But the guitar I’m mainly using is a guitar I had made for me - it’s in the style of the old Selmers that Django Reinhardt used, it’s a Dave Hodson guitar. On the album I used a French Flavino, which is the same sort of guitar. But it wasn’t amplified, and I thought, well - and it’s also got the marker dot at the tenth fret, instead of the ninth fret, which at first totally threw me until I got used to it. I couldn’t work out why I kept playing in the wrong key every time I went up the fingerboard! But once I realised what it was - I’ve got used to it now, but I thought on stage it could be a bit of a problem. I’ve already got enough to worry about, I’ve got three different lots of string gauges on the Strats, and obviously everything feels different - using two different acoustic guitars, and this one has a long scale, as you probably know, 26-1/2 inch scale on the Selmers, and the Selmer-style guitars - and I thought, if I’ve also got the marker dot in the wrong place, on live work, this could become very confusing. So I got Dave Hodson in England, who has quite a reputation for making these guitars - he was able to make me one in four weeks, which is something of a world record, I think. And it’s still wearing in a little bit, it sounds good though. It’s giving me that sort of sound - I hope it is anyway! - that’s on most of this album, that very midrange Selmer sound. We’ve got a Fishman Blender setup in that one. But unfortunately, the problem you have with acoustics when you’re using monitors in front of you because you’ve got electric bass and drums, they’re prone to feedback, so on the monitoring system they have to cancel out the frequencies that tend to start feeding back, which means you lose a lot of the tone, and you end up with an unpleasant tone most of the time. And it’s not nice to play. But there’s no way round it, using the monitors as we do. The only other way round it is to have the monitors alongside, but we can’t have that for the rest of the show, so it’s a bit of a problem.

You had the very first Fender Strat in England, didn’t you?

- Yes, Cliff (Richard) bought it for me in the States, you couldn’t buy them in England back then. That first Strat - when we were able to get Strats through Jennings, who became the distributors for Fender once the import ban was lifted - I gave Cliff that guitar back, because we got matching red ones, and that new red was slightly different. And Cliff kind of put it in a cupboard, then he now and again got it out and played a number on stage himself. Then he had it sprayed white, and according to Bruce, Cliff gave him that guitar. But according to Cliff, he lent him it... So I don’t know quite where the truth lies, but Cliff reckons it’s on permanent loan, but Bruce reckons he gave him it. He’s hanging on to it!

That’s worth a few bob now!

- Yeah! I have a ’58 red Strat, though, which I did use on stage through the 80’s - until I got the signature models - and that’s a nice guitar. The good thing about the Custom Shop models, the ones I’ve got now, we were very concerned about trying to get them to stay in tune better. So we’ve got a Teflon nut, no string trees, and locking machne heads. And originally we had the new kind of tremolo block on it, the American Standard, but then Chris Kinman in Australia, whose pickups I use, recommended to me that I went back to the other ones, the vintage ones - he said they do sound better. And if it’s set up properly, it won’t go out of tune. And he sent me this Japanese copy of a Fender that he just tries his pickups out on, and he said, just try this tremolo - and it was great, didn’t go out of tune at all. So anyway, it’s all done now, and they’re the bridges I have, and they work very well, and they do stay in tune very well.

Oh yes, especially with the locking machine heads and the Teflon nut, that does the trick. I’m impressed with those Kinman pickups, too - I put a set on a Strat for one of your fans last week.

- They’re good, aren’t they? Was that the vintage set?

No, that was the ”modern” Hank Marvin set.

- Yeah. Slightly warmer.

Well of course back in the late 50’s, early 60’s, when you couldn’t get these thin strings, you were getting the fatter sound because of the fatter strings.

- That’s right. What we had was - I checked this out with Fender about 15 years ago. One of the guys who was around in the late 50’s was still around then, and he reckoned that the 3rd was a wound 26, that’s how they left the factory. Something like a 14 down to a 56. And I know they were heavy, but - great sound. But also I think what we have to keep in mind is, I know the pickups on the original Strat that Bruce and I had, and on my ’58 Strat, actually did have quite a warm sound compared to other Strats I’ve heard, not so brittle-sounding. So you had the thick strings, and the early Vox amplifiers which we had did not have top boost, that was a later invention of Dick Denney, who was deaf anyway! (Mutual laughter) There was a bizarre thing, an amplifier manufacturer and designer who’s deaf!

It goes with the territory, I guess! I spoke to Dick once a few years ago when I was researching an article, he was quite a character.

- Yes he was. He reminded me when I met him about two years ago - he died, you know, about a year ago?

Yes, I was sorry to hear that.

- He was reminding me about when we were using the Vox AC15’s - and apparently I said to him, can’t you put two of them together to make a louder amp, cause we couldn’t hear ourselves on stage for all the screaming - and he said the first AC30 he came up with had a smaller cabinet than the final production model. Because in my mind we were using - when we first went to ths States, 1960 - I was convinced we took AC30’s with us, and every one of them blew up on the first day. And therefore when we made Apache, I thought we were using AC30’s. And he said, ”No you weren’t, you were using AC15’s, I’ve seen a photograph of the session.” But I think what it was, I think it was the early AC30, before it went out with a slightly smaller cabinet, so it didn’t look quite the same. Maybe.

I remember reading a book about The Shadows back at the beginning of the 60’s, but I can’t remember the title?

- There was a book written in about 1961, I think - ”The Shadows By Themselves”, it was called. By Royston Ellis. He was a young ”Beat Poet”. He wrote very off-beat poetry, but he like to recite it to music, and we did a couple of gigs for fun with him - Jet Harris, Tony Meehan and myself. And we just played absolutely - drivel. It was totally free-form rubbish, we’d just get a beat going, it was absolutely shocking stuff. And he would sit there and be going ”Ah-be-dum-be-dum”... He was an early hippie, he had the hair and the beard, which in 1961 was very far out. He was only a young guy, in his late 20’s I think - a very bohemian character. But it was fun. And then we did a book in the 80’s which Mike Reid. a radio personality in England, he did it. It was all right. The trouble is with these sort of books, if you keep it fairly innocuous, it can become a bit bland. And I don’t like digging up the dirt - it’s easy to dig up dirt about other people, isn’t it, that you’ve worked with, or had a relationship with, or something. And I think that’s unfair, like when people name ex-girlfriends, or ex-boyfriends - it was 20 or 30 years ago, and we did this, we did that - what’s the point now? It puts them in an embarassing situation, perhaps - etcetera etcetera. I don’t go for that sort of journalese personally. So from that point of view it can end up being a little bit bland. I think that today, my personal view is that a lot of people seem to enjoy the sort of spicy biography.

It’s like all the nonsense people used to talk about Cliff - he never created enough scandal, so he never used to get left alone, did he.

- Well it’s an interesting thing that back in the late 50’s, early 60’s, because of the attitude of society generally, what was acceptable - we had a publicist called Les Perrin, who was very good, back at the time. Les was one of the best guys, a very nice man. And there were times when things happened, and Les, because of his contacts, would keep things quiet. Whereas - push on three years, if we had been a new band coming up then, we would have probably wanted them to get in the press, because it would have made us look really greasy!

When you think about when the Rolling Stones started up, and everybody was so shocked by what hey looked like - and if you look at a picture of them from that time today, you think, so what? My father thought they were the worst bunch of yobbos going, but he never objected to The Shadows!

- Well funnily enough, when the Stones first appeared, I remember seeing them - we were doing a summer season in Blackpool, and we saw them on one of those pop shows, I can’t remember which one it was - Thank Your Lucky Stars, or one of those - Keith Fordyce introduced it - and they were very smart actually, they had black and white dogstooth jackets with velvet collars, and ties on, and they all had very short hair. In fact Mick Jagger said something to Keith - ”You bet us we wouldn’t not have a haircut until next time we came on the show, and we haven’t!” And quite honestly, it wasn’t that long at all! It was a bit over the ears, but not at all what it was maybe a year or so later. So really that initial image they had was not the rebellious one that probably happened within about a year, and that was a manufactured thing. Andrew Loog Oldham created that - he knew the time was right for the rebellious image, there wasn’t a band around, or an artist - there was in the 50’s, but that had gone, and everything was sweet, and boy next door, and it was very clever. He manufactured things which got them fantastic - at the time, it was thought bad publicity, but I’ll tell you what - it worked, and a lot of the kids could relate to it.

On another note - what are you using for amplifiers nowadays?

- On the last tour two years ago, the guys who developed my echo system - I use a thing called Echoes From The Past - and Charlie Paul who got the system together had the brainwave of sampling every Shadows record, and every one of mine, to work out the echo things. So he worked them all out, and he’s even put a bit of wow and flutter on some of the old ones. And it’s great for stage, because obviously it’s noise-free - it sounds very authentic, and because it’s a digital device, I could actually change programs myself with a pedal, but to save me the hassle, my guitar tech changes it for each number. And if we do a medley, for example, I can get the correct echo for each number. And it’s ideal, because before everything had to be a compromise really - all-purpose echo for the next three numbers, really. And these guys had the bright idea of designing an amp - so Charlie and his off-sider Pete, and Ken, who’s an amp repair man and designer, he makes just one-offs for people - they got together and made this amp. And they brought it to me two years ago before a tour. I said, well, I’ll give it a whirl, we didn’t have time to really do a proper test, because we were running out of time with rehearsals. So I said we’ll take it with us, we’ll try it on tour. So we did an A/B test against the Matchless, and I thought it sounded a lot better, which I was really surprised at. They originally brought two cabinets in, two slightly different designs - the use of the wood, one was pine, the other was maybe ply, I don’t know. One cabinet sounded better to me - it had a much tighter low end - plenty of low end, but really defined, not one of those floppy bottom ends. And they were using Jensen speakers, because the Celestions aren’t always that tight on the low end. The ones Matchless use, they artificially age them, I think, they do something to them to get a better sound - and it is a better sound. But anyway, I thought, this sounds terrific - so we took them on tour, did some A/B’s on a few sound checks, and I just loved the mid-range on it, and the high end - it’s very clean, but to me it’s got more guts than the Matchless. And the sound guy said, that amp really does sound very good, it’s a lovely high end. I don’t know what the correct technical term would be, but some amplifiers to me sound a bit tinkly when you get up high, like Fenders. And I think that the Matchless is inclined that way. Voxes didn’t. This to me sounds a bit more - the guts of a Vox, but some of the refinement of a Matchless, if you know what I mean.. They’re called KCP - Ken, Charlie and Pete. But I think they’re terrific amps, I really do. Like I said that mid-range is very clean, and the high end has got real strength in it - but it’s still got that sound that I’m associated with, perhaps more so than the Matchless, which I thought were very good. They’re now producing them, they’re hand made - but they’re a lot cheaper than a Matchless. I suppose they’re more expensive than a Vox, but then a Vox is not hand made. They’re using quality components in these amps - I mean, we toured Voxes for years, and with us they had a terrible record of reliabilty. I’ve spoken to a lot of people who use them, and it’s always the same story. Some of the problems were associated with the proximity of some of the components, so they got too hot. Another problem we found was with the jack sockets, we had a few of those go. It was just a very poor quality jack socket.

Those old English Re-An plastic jack sockets!

- Exactly, yeah! John Jorgensen - the guitarist with the Hellecasters - told me - cause he used to use Voxes years ago - the guy who used to repair them all lived in Cleveland, and he flew some of his amps up to get them fixed, cause they were always breaking down - and this guy used to modify them so they didin’t break down. So he said to him, well, why don’t you build some amps, like you’re basically rebuilding the Vox, build some amps and sell them? And he finally persuaded him, and he came up with the first Matchless, and that’s how it started. If you ever get to meet John, you can ask him if it’s a true story!

We haven’t heard the last of Hank Marvin. Live long and prosper, Hank!

Shawn Lane

Shawn Lane was a phenomenally talented guitar player who never quite broke out beyond guitar enthusiasts and critics, but will remain influential to players for many years to come. Originally hailed as a child prodigy, Lane joined Black Oak Arkansas as a teenager, and could have been part of the guitar shredder movement of the late '80s and '90s, but his restless musical inclinations led him down a different path.

Lane began his musical education on piano and cello at age four, but had switched to guitar by age eight. At ten, he was holding band rehearsals at the house he shared with his grandmother, and since the other bandmembers left their instruments at his house, Lane was free to try them out, and added bass and drums to his keyboard and guitar abilities. By 15, Lane was becoming known in Memphis circles as a guitarist, which led to an audition with Black Oak Arkansas in 1978, who he toured with for the next four years. Black Oak Arkansas was still popular enough to play at Bill Clinton's inaugural as Governor of Arkansas, but the band's heyday was well behind them. After disbanding briefly, BOA was re-formed with a couple of Shawn's high school friends joining the band, and bringing a heavy fusion edge to this southern boogie band. Then, burnt out from touring, Lane basically dropped out of sight in 1982 for a couple years, practiced piano, studied music theory and composition, and did a lot of reading and watching movies (he claims he barely played guitar at all during this period).

The mid-'80s saw Shawn returning to guitar: first playing in some bands around the south, then appearing on an album produced by Mike Varney on the Shrapnel label, with a tune called "Stratosphere II" on the U.S. Metal compilation (his first available recording). Shortly afterwards, he formed a band called the Willys, who were the house band at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis. Many touring musicians caught Lane's playing while staying there, and word of mouth led to session work, and eventually to his playing on the Highwayman 2 album with Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson. That high profile work ,and a demo cassette passed to Jim Ed Norman at Warner Brothers led to Lane being signed to Warner Brothers in 1990.

Lane spent the next two years at home, creating the Powers of Ten album, on which he played every instrument. Following its release in 1992, Guitar Player Magazine named him "Best New Talent" and he placed second in Keyboard Magazine's "Best Keyboard Player" category. A touring band was assembled to promote the album, and a live recording was made, though it wasn't released until 2001(Powers of Ten Live!). His next project was DDT, a band that also featured Cody and Luther Dickenson, later of the North Mississippi Allstars. The DDT material was supposed to be for Lane's second album for Warner Bros., but the recording never materialized. Also at this time, Lane did production work for other artists, did a couple instructional videos, and developed curricula and taught at several European Conservatories.

1994 would be an important year for Lane, as it marked his first collaboration with Swedish bassist Jonas Hellborg, a relationship that would continue for nearly a decade and produce many releases (mostly on the Bardo label). Lane and Hellborg were perfect collaborators, sharing many of the same musical influences and many other interests as well, and it was playing with Hellborg that Lane really discovered his voice on guitar. They toured with drummer Jeff Sipe over the next several years, developing such a rapport that they were able to play completely improvised sets every night (documented on albums like Temporal Analogues of Paradise and Time Is the Enemy). Concurrently, in 1995, Hellborg and Lane played with Chinese pop singer Wei-Wei, and the Hellborg/Lane/Sipe trio appeared as an opening act at all of Mainland China's largest musical venues.

Lane and Hellborg parted ways with Sipe in 1997, allowing Lane to work on the tracks that would become Tri-Tone Fascination, his second solo album in 1999. Also at this time, he and Hellborg began incorporating more Near Eastern and Eastern influences into their playing and improvising (Zenhouse, ). In 1999, Lane and Hellborg began working with V. Selvaganesh, son of percussionist Vikku Vinayakram of Shakti fame, and began pushing the music into more of a South Indian fusion, as evidenced by Good People in Times of Evil.

Lane started having health problems in 2001, temporarily breaking off his work with Hellborg. After recovering, Lane started playing with a Memphis bar band called the Time Bandits, but was back with Hellborg and Sipe for a brief tour in 2002. There was also more work with the Vinayakrams, resulting in Icon, a dazzling work of East-West fusion that, unfortunately proved to be among Lane's final recorded works. There was a brief tour of India in February of 2003, but Lane's health problems returned, and on Sept. 26, 2003, Shawn Lane passed away following lung surgery. ~ Sean Westergaard, All Music Guide

Friday, February 11, 2011

Dickey Betts

Forrest Richard "Dickey" Betts (born December 12, 1943) is an American guitarist, singer, songwriter, and composer best known as a founding member of The Allman Brothers Band. He was inducted with the band into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995 and also won with the band a best rock performance Grammy Award for his instrumental "Jessica" in 1996. Recognized as "one of the most influential guitar players of all time", he had early on in his career one of rock’s finest guitar partnerships with the late Duane Allman introducing melodic twin guitar harmony and counterpoint which "rewrote the rules for how two rock guitarists can work together, completely scrapping the traditional rhythm/lead roles to stand toe to toe". Dickey Betts was ranked #58 on Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time list in 2003.

Born in Bradenton, Florida, Betts's early experience was leading a band called The Second Coming. He and other Florida area musicians met, jammed, and formed The Allman Brothers Band in 1969. Betts was a lead guitarist, alongside Duane Allman, and contributed significantly to their trademark dual lead guitar sound. His melodic, country-esque lead guitar style contrasted perfectly with Duane's fiery, blues/jazz-based style. He also wrote songs including "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" and "Blue Sky" that became radio and concert staples.

After the death of Duane Allman in late 1971, Betts became the band's sole guitarist and also took on a greater singing and leadership role. He went on to write such Southern Rock classics as "Jessica" and the Allmans' biggest commercial hit, "Ramblin' Man".

Jessica was inspired by his daughter, Jessica Betts, born on May 14, 1972 to Betts' first wife, Sandy Bluesky Wabegijig, a Native American whom Betts married in 1973. The pair was divorced in 1975 and Betts married Paulette, a close friend and personal assistant of singer and actress Cher.

Betts's first solo album, Highway Call, was released in 1974, and featured the late fiddle player Vassar Clements. After the Allmans fell apart in 1976, Betts released more albums, starting with Dickey Betts & Great Southern in 1977, which featured the hit "Bougainvillea", co-written with future Hollywood star Don Johnson. In 1978 he released an album entitled Atlanta's Burning Down.

The Allman Brothers reformed in 1979 for the album Enlightened Rogues with a new guitar player (Dan Toler) and bassist (David Goldflies). Several albums would follow in the 80s with various personnel changes. The reunion brought Betts back together with founding Allman Brothers members Gregg Allman, Butch Trucks, and Jai "Jaimoe" Johanny Johanson. The band was augmented in the late 80s by Warren Haynes as slide guitarist and lead guitarist, Allen Woody on bass and Johnny Neel on keyboards, (though Neel left after several tours). This band lineup went on to release three acclaimed studio albums with Betts, Allman and Haynes serving as the primary songwriters, as well as several popular live albums throughout the early 1990s.

Attendance issues and temporary bandmates

Betts was replaced on numerous tour dates throughout the mid- 90s for what were reported in the media as "personal reasons". While The Allman Brothers Band continued to play acclaimed live shows during the 1990s, they failed to release an album of new material following 1994's Where It All Begins. Haynes and Woody formed Gov't Mule with drummer Matt Abts (formerly of Dickey Betts solo projects) as a side project in 1994 and left the Allman Brothers for Gov't Mule full-time following the ABB's annual Beacon Run in March 1997. Haynes and Woody did not associate with the Allman Brothers Band on stage again until after Betts' departure in 2000, though they shared the stage with Gregg Allman on several occasions with Gov't Mule.

The remaining original members, Allman, Trucks and Jaimoe, suspended Betts (reportedly via fax)[citation needed] prior to the launch of the band's Summer Campaign Tour 2000. Betts was temporarily replaced for that tour by Jimmy Herring, formerly of the Aquarium Rescue Unit. Warren Haynes also appeared with the Allmans at three shows after Betts' suspension for the first time in over three years.

Betts quickly filed suit against the other three original Allmans and the separation turned into a permanent divorce. Betts also formed the Dickey Betts Band in 2000 and toured that summer. Haynes permanently replaced him following a stand with the band at the Beacon Theatre in March 2001. Betts tours once again under the name Dickey Betts & Great Southern, and added his son and since Allman Brothers collaborator Duane Betts (named after Duane Allman) on lead guitar.

In 2005 Betts released the DVD "Live from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame".

December 17, 2009 it was announced that in New York City, a place where Dickey Betts had had many great achievements, he played what will possibly become his last touring date on his 66th birthday.

"I’m not retiring from playing. I’m sure there will be some great special events that I’ll be at in the future. But for now, I look forward to waking up tomorrow with nothing on my schedule."

The style of Betts' first name (actually his middle name, as his actual first name is Forrest) varied throughout the years:

1969: "Dick Betts" in the jacket of The Allman Brothers Band self-titled album.
1970-72: "Dicky Betts" in the jackets of Idlewild South and Eat A Peach.
1973-74: "Richard Betts" on Brothers and Sisters and his first solo album, Highway Call.
Afterward: "Dickey Betts."

In the early days of the Allman Brothers, Betts played a 1961 Gibson SG, given to Duane Allman in 1971 to use as an all-slide guitar. He then used a 1957 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop, calling it "Goldie". He has recently painted it red. Early on in the Allman Brothers days he occasionally played a Fender Stratocaster , and has been an on-and-off endorser and player of PRS guitars. As of April 2009, Betts is using a red Fender Telecaster with a pearloid pickguard. Betts can also be seen playing a Cherry Red 1961 Gibson ES-335.[7]


Solo Albums

Highway Call (1974)(Richard Betts)
Dickey Betts & Great Southern (1977) (Dickey Betts & Great Southern)
Atlanta's Burning Down (1978) (Dickey Betts & Great Southern)
Night (Unreleased Country Album) (1982) (Dickey Betts)
Pattern Disruptive (1989) (Dickey Betts Band)
Let's Get Together (2001) (Dickey Betts Band)
The Collectors #1 (2002) (Dickey Betts & Great Southern)
Back Where It All Begins: Live at the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame & Museum (DVD) (2005) (Dickey Betts & Great Southern)
The Official Bootleg (Live) (2006) (Dickey Betts & Great Southern)
Dickey Betts & Great Southern - Rockpalast: 30 Years Of Southern Rock, 1978 - 2008 (DVD)

Jerry Garcia

Band leader, guitarist, and songwriter. Born on August 1, 1942, in San Francisco, California. Garcia was the son of a Spanish immigrant who grew up to become a bandleader popular in the San Francisco area. He studied piano as a boy but turned to the guitar in his teens. He dropped out of school at age 17 and served nine months in the U.S. Army before being discharged for poor conduct. He began to play folk and blues guitar, alone or with pickup groups, in clubs in the San Francisco area while working as a salesman and music teacher in a music store.

In 1965 he formed a band, the Warlocks, but on discovering another group with that name, it was changed to the Grateful Dead (1966). Closely involved with the San Francisco hippie movement and the use of drugs such as LSD, the band first played "psychedelic" rock but moved on to a more diverse repertory of rock styles in the 1970s. From around 1974 the band's members began to go their own ways, and Garcia made solo appearances and albums. In the 1980s he became heavily addicted to drugs, and after being arrested in 1985 was sent to a treatment center. After emerging from a diabetic coma, he decided to turn his life around, and the band made a comeback (1987) with a hit single, "Touch of Gray" and an album, In the Dark.

Garcia and the rest of the band enjoyed this new wave of success and continued to tour, drawing legions of fans new and old to their shows. The Grateful Dead had built quite a following over the years and their loyal fans, sometimes called "Deadheads," were known to travel around the country to catch their concerts. Unfortunately, the show could not go on forever. Despite Garcia's efforts to improve his lifestyle, all of the years of hard living caught up with him. He died of heart failure on August 9, 1995, in Forest Knolls, California.

Dick Dale

Dick Dale (born Richard Monsour on May 4, 1937) was one of the pioneers in surf rock, one of the most influential musicians of the early 1960s. His guitar-playing techniques influenced future guitarists as varied as Jimi Hendrix and Eddie Van Halen.

He was born in Boston to a Lebanese father and a Polish mother, and soon learned to play the drums, ukulele and finally, guitar. Among his early musical influences was his uncle, an oud player performing belly dance music - for example, Dale describes the rhythm on his song "Misirlou" as taken directly from a belly dance piece. In 1954, he moved to southern California and began performing. He also began surfing, and soon began developing the sound that eventually became surf rock.

With his backing band, The Del-Tones, Dale's live performances became huge local draws. 1961's "Let's Go Trippin'" is widely regarded as the first surf rock song (see 1961 in music). This was followed by more locally-released songs, including "Jungle Fever" and "Surf Beat". His first full-length album was Surfer's Choice (1962 in music). The album was picked up by Capitol Records and distributed nationally, and Dale soon began appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show and in films. His second album was named after his performing nickname, King of the Surf Guitar.

Though surf rock became the national sound in the U.S. briefly, the British Invasion began to overtake the American charts in 1964. Though he continued performing live, Dale was soon set back by rectal cancer. He recovered, though, and retired from music for a time. In 1979, he almost lost a leg after being injured while swimming; a pollution-related infection made the mild injury much worse. As a result, Dale became an environmental activist and soon began performing again throughout the 1970s and 1980s. He tried to launch a comeback in 1986 (see 1986 in music) and was nominated for a Grammy, and the use of "Misirlou" in a Quentin Tarantino film, Pulp Fiction, effectively launched a comeback within a small but devoted audience. He has released several albums since.

Lonnie Mack

Lonnie Mack is a roadhouse blues-rock legend -- modern rock's first true guitar hero. His playing has influenced the course of rock and roll and had an impact on many of modern rock's current guitar heroes, including Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Jimmy Page and especially Stevie Ray Vaughan. His early music bridged the gap between '50s rockabilly and the psychedelic blues-rock of the following decade, and, like the best rock and roll, his work continues to embody a mixture of white and black roots music. Rock, blues, soul and country -- Lonnie brings them all together for a sound that has been all his own for nearly forty years.
Lonnie was born in 1941 in Harrison, Indiana -- some twenty miles west of Cincinnati. From family sing-alongs he developed a love of country music, while he absorbed rhythm and blues from the late-night black radio stations and gospel from his local church. Starting off with a few chords that he learned from his mother, Lonnie gradually blended all the sounds he heard around him into his own individual style.

He began playing professionally in his early teens (he quit school after a fight with his sixth-grade teacher), working clubs and roadhouses around the tri-state border area of Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio. In 1958, he bought the guitar he still plays today -- Gibson Flying V serial number 7. In addition to his live gigs, Lonnie began playing sessions for the King and Fraternity labels in Cincinnati. He recorded with blues and r&b greats like Hank Ballard, Freddie King and James Brown.

In 1963, at the end of another artist's session, Lonnie cut an instrumental version of Chuck Berry's ''Memphis.'' He didn't even know that Fraternity had issued the single until he heard it on the radio, and within a few weeks "Memphis" had hit the national Top 5 Lonnie Mack went from being a talented regional roadhouse player to a national star virtually overnight.

Suddenly, he was booked for hundreds of gigs a year, criss-crossing the country in his Cadillac and rushing back to Cincinnati or Nashville to cut new singles. "Wham! ' ''Where There's A Will There's A Way", ''Chicken Pickin'" and a dozen other records followed "Memphis.'' None sold as well as his first hit (though "Where There's A Will" earned extensive black radio airplay before the DJs found out Lonnie was white!) but there was enough reaction to keep him on the road for another five years of grueling one-nighters.

Fraternity Records died, but Lonnie kept on gigging, and in 1968 a Rolling Stone article stimulated new interest in his music. He signed with Elektra Records and cut three albums. Elektra also reissued his original Fraternity LP, The Wham Of That Memphis Man (now available on Alligator Records). He began playing all the major rock venues, from Fillmore East to Fillmore West. Lonnie also made a guest appearance on the Doors' Morrison Hotel album. You can hear Lonnie's guitar solo on "Roadhouse Blues" preceded by Jim Morrison's urgent ''Do it, Lonnie! Do it!'' He even worked in Elektra's A&R department. When the label merged with giant Warner Brothers, however, Lonnie grew disgusted with the new bureaucracy and walked out of his prestigious job.

He headed back to rural Indiana, playing back-country bars, going fishing and laying low. After five years of relative obscurity, Lonnie signed with Capitol and cut two albums that featured his country influences. He played on the West Coast for a while and even flew to Japan for a Save The Whales benefit. Then he headed to New York to team up with an old friend named Ed Labunski. Labunski was a wealthy jingle writer that wrote "This Bud's For You" who was tired of commercials and wanted to write and play for pleasure. He and Lonnie built a studio in rural Pennsylvania and spent three years organizing and recording a country-rock band called South, which included Buffalo-based keyboardist Stan Szelest, who later played on Lonnie's Alligator debut. Ed and Lonnie had big plans for their partnership, including producing an album by a then-obscure Texas guitarist named Stevie Ray Vaughan. But the plans evaporated when Labunski died in an auto accident, and the South album wasn't released until 1998.

Disheartened, Lonnie headed for Canada and joined the band of veteran rocker Ronnie Hawkins for a summer. After a brief stay in Florida, he returned to Indiana in 1982, playing clubs in Cincinnati and the surrounding area.

Lonnie began his re-emergence on the national scene in November of 1983. At Stevie Ray Vaughan's urging, he relocated from southern Indiana to Austin, Texas. He began jamming with Stevie Ray in local clubs and flying to New York for gigs at the Lone Star and the Ritz. When Alligator Records approached him to do an album, Lonnie immediately called on Vaughan to help him out. The result was Strike Like Lightning (AL 4739), co-produced by Lonnie and Stevie Ray and featuring Stevie's guitar on several tracks. "We went for Lonnie's original sound here," Vaughan said. The joint effort was one of 1985's best selling independent records and topped many critics' "Best Of" list for that year.

Lonnie's re-emergence was a major music industry event. Keith Richards, Ron Wood, Ry Cooder and Stevie Ray Vaughan all joined Lonnie on stage during his '85 tour. Other celebrities -- Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Paul Simon, Eddie Van Halen, Dwight Yoakum, actor Matt Dillon and comedienne Sandra Bernhard -- attended shows during the Strike Like Lightning tour. The year was capped off with a stellar performance at New York's prestigious Carnegie Hall with label-mates Albert Collins and the late Roy Buchanan. That show recently aired on Britain's BBC-TV and is currently available as a home video cassette entitled "Further On Down The Road.''

His Alligator follow-up, Second Sight (AL 4750), highlighted Lonnie's continuing evolution as a musician and singer/songwriter. He self-produced the album and wrote eight of the ten tunes. The album spotlighted his cured-in-the-wood vocals more than Strike Like Lightning but also included a healthy dose of Lonnie's burning Flying V.

Lonnie's re-found visibility earned him a contract with Epic Records, and in 1988 that label released Lonnie's Roadhouses and Dancehalls album. Critics applauded the recording, but CBS didn't know quite how to market it. They tried to force it into a country music niche, ignoring its roots-rock and r&b influences. Not able to push the album to its full sales potential, Epic let the project slide from the top of its priority list. Lonnie, again disenchanted with the major label scenario, began making plans for his return to Alligator.

Lonnie Mack's career traces the history of rock and roll. Drawing from influences as diverse as rhythm and blues, country, gospel and rockabilly, Lonnie has won the hearts of fans worldwide. He is revered by a new generation of rock performers. He has played everywhere from tiny roadhouse clubs to huge rock showcases and national television. He has recorded for major labels and indies alike.

Link Wray

Link Wray was born Fred Lincoln Wray Jr. on May 2, 1929 in Dunn, North Carolina. USA. Link is of Shawnee heritage, he and his brothers grew up sleeping on floors. Both of his parents were preachers making his early reputation as supporting gang violence and motorcycle gangs ironic. As a child Link had a bout with the measles which damaged his eyesight, this coupled with tuberculosis which cost him a lung gave Link tremendous hurdles to jump into Rock & Roll stardom. It is reported that as a child he heard a local slide guitarist named Hambone, who had an influence on him.

In 1951, He was conscripted into the U.S. Army where he would serve in Germany and Korea. Fred Lincoln “Link” Wray Jr. is a Korea War veteran. His tuberculosis would be directly

Wray Brothers: Doug, Vernon, Link in uniform
connected to his military service.

Following the war, together with his brothers Doug and Vernon as well as Shorty Horton and Dixie Neale, Lucky Wray and The Lazy Pine Wranglers were formed. Eventually they would become Lucky Wray and the Palomino Ranch Hands. The evolution into Link Wray and The Raymen would occur shortly thereafter. They got their start playing country songs and would become regulars on the Washington D.C. show Milt Grant’s House Party. In 1956 they made their first recordings for Starday Records. This was made difficult for Link spent much of 1956 in the hospital with complications from TB. They also backed Ricky Nelson and Antoine “Fats” Domino during this period.

In 1953, Link Wray and his brother Doug played at Hank Williams Sr.’s memorial at the request of Hank’s sister.

In 1958, came the first and biggest hit “Rumble”. The song originally named “Oddball” became known as “Rumble” as a reference to West Side Story street fights. Capital and Decca records both turned down the recording as did Starday but when it caught the ear of Archie Bleyer’s daughter she begged her father to record it. Archie Bleyer was the owner of Cadence Records. Despite being banned on many U.S. radio stations “Rumble” would peak at #16 on the Billboard charts. At this time an instrumental charting on the pop charts was rare. An instrumental being banned from airplay even more rare. Pete Townshend of The Who has been quoted as saying “He is the king, had it not been for Link Wray and “Rumble”, I would never have picked up a guitar.”

Link early 1960s
Following “Rumble” the band would also chart with “Jack the Ripper”, “Ace of Spades”, and “Rawhide.” Also popular were his versions of “Batman Theme”, “The Shadow Knows”, and “Run Chicken Run.” He made numerous recordings with Swan Records in the 60s being billed as a surf guitarist. His songs “Shawnee”, “Comanche”, and “Apache” would pay homage to his heritage. His 1950s and 60s image with gang violence infuriated record executives and he was forced to record with an orchestra.

His early popularity was followed by periods of retirement as well as multiple marriages and moving around. The 1970s would bring his return to touring with Rockabilly artist Robert Gordon. The 1970s and 1980s would also see numerous reissues of earlier material thus resulting in a resurgence of popularity with younger fans. Link Wray’s music has also been featured in many movies including: Pulp Fiction, Breathless, Independence Day, Desperado, and Twelve Monkeys among others. The 1970s saw Link record with such notables as Jerry Garcia, Commander Cody, and Boz Scaggs. These recordings were made with Polydor and Virgin records. His “I Got to Ramble” is dedicated to the memory of Duane Allman.

Bruce Springsteen wrote a song titled “Fire” and gave that to Link and Robert Gordon. The Who dedicated their song “Wasp Man” to Link Wray.

During the 1980s he often toured Europe and Australia. This followed a disenfranchisement with the American music scene. A very difficult to find live recording features a phenomenal cover of The Beatles’ “I Saw Her Standing There.” It was in Europe that he would eventually settle down with Olive Povlsen.

The 1990s brought him a resurgence in the United States when Quentin Tarantino featured two of his songs in Pulp Fiction, “Rumble” and “Ace of Spades.” Link Wray would once again return to touring in the U.S. with

Link Wray 2005
Olive and a nitroglycerin capsule always close by. In his 70s, he proved to countless Americans that he should not ever be forgotten and could still rock.

Link Wray would pass away into the Rock & Roll heavens on November 5, 2005 in Copenhagen, Denmark with his wife Olive at his side.

That is one story, another has it that Link Wray was found alone and deceased in his Danish apartment by his son Oliver.

Perhaps only the God that Link Wray so faithfully believed in, will ever know the real truth.

On November 18, He would be buried at the Christian Church Cemetery in Christianshavn located near Copenhagen, Denmark. He was 76 years of age. He is survived by many descendants. Nine children including Oliver and 14 grandsons as well as 8 granddaughters. He also has a step great-grandson as of this writing.

Link Wray has thus far been shunned by The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Pete Townshend, Neil Young, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix have all publicly cited Wray as having tremendous influence on their guitar playing styles. All are inductees into the Rock Hall. Also, many Punk, Hard Rock, Rockabilly, Country, Surf, and Heavy Metal artists have named Link Wray as an influence on their music. Rolling Stone Magazine listed him as one of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time. Uncut Magazine listed Link as 33rd of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time. Link was inducted into the Native American Music Hall of Fame in 2006. Also in 2006, Link Wray was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from The First Americans in the Arts. Link Wray along with his brothers Doug and Ray were inducted into the Southern Legends Hall of Fame in 2007. Former bandmate Shorty Horton is also an inductee. January 15th has officially been declared Link Wray Day in the state of Maryland. In June of 2009, the Library of Congress added ‘Rumble’ to the National Recording Registry.

Link Wray’s band The Raymen based in the Washington D.C. area continue to play and record.

The X-Raymen contain other musicians that toured and recorded with Link. They are based out of The Netherlands.

Link Wray continues to influence multitudes of guitar players that seek out his tablature and to learn his distorted reverb power chord driven style. His music remains timeless.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

James Burton

On August 21, 1939, James Burton was born in Dubberly, Louisiana, but he grew up in Shreveport. Before he ever picked up a guitar, he would be beating on broom sticks and beat on pretty much everything else around the house. His parents got him his first guitar, which was an acoustic one. His second guitar was also an acoustic one, but it was in a J&S Music store in Shreveport where he first saw the '53 Fender Telecaster and knew that this was the guitar for him.
He used to listen to KWKH in Shreveport. Through KWKH, Burton was exposed to Chet Atkins, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddly, Elmore James, Lightnin' Hopkins, etc. He soon would astonish everybody with his ability to play the instrument. At only 14, Burton went professional, working club gigs and private parties. He would skip school just to be able to play guitar.

Money was something he didn't think about, it was just for the thrill of playing. To play in those clubs, you had to go to the police station to get a permit if you were underage. Horace Logan was the producer of the Louisiana Hayride and he asked if James wanted to do some shows and join the staff band. James was 14 at the time. At the Hayride, he played behind guys like George Jones, Jimmy and Johnny, Billy Walker and Johnny Horton. He remained with the Hayride for about a year.

He became fascinated with the steel guitar. He and Hayride steel guitar player Sonny Trammell would switch licks, James would play steel licks and Trammell would play guitar licks. His interest in steel guitar would later led him to pursue the slide dobro.

Before recording the song that would put him on the map forever, Burton recorded with a few local artists at Mira Smith's RAM Records in Shreveport. There he recorded many songs with artists like Joe Osborne, Joe then still playing guitar instead of bass, James Wilson, Carol Williams, with whom he made his recording debut on lead guitar, Leon Post, Charlotte Hunter and Larry Lincoln, with whom he formed the band Larry Bamburg and The Louisiana Drifters. All these recordings can be found on the album Shreveport High Steppers.

In '55 James was playing with the Dale Hawkins band. They recorded a demo tape of "See You Soon Baboon" at the KWKH studio. The owner of Stan's Record Shop, Stan Lewis, was impressed and signed them to a management deal and hawked them to Chess Records. In '57, Burton recorded "Susie Q" with Dale Hawkins. Burton wrote the lick and Hawkins put the lyrics to it.
After he left Hawkins, Burton was playing around town when he got a call from Horace Logan, manager of the Hayride and also manager of Bob Luman. Logan felt that Luman had the style and look and he knew Burton had the licks to complement him. Burton, James Kirkland and Luman tested the waters on a few Hayride shows and then started to work together. With a few hit singles released like "My Gal is Red Hot" and "A Red Cadillac and A Black Mustache, Logan arranged for the band to do a movie in Hollywood, called "Carnival Rock". Logan also made sure that Bob Luman and The Shadows, as the band was now called, had a semi regular spot on Town Hall Party. A DVD of Luman's appearances there was released in 2003.

While in Hollywood with Luman, Ricky Nelson heard them rehearse and shortly after that, James got a telegram, asking him and bass player James Kirkland to meet Ricky Nelson. They were offered to be on the Ozzie and Harriet show as Nelson's backing band. Both agreed to do it, and before Burton knew it, he was living with the Nelson's. Ozzie and Harriet had invited him to stay at their home. Burton lived there for about 2 years, before finding his own place.
During his time with Ricky, James performed at Town Hall Party together with Bob Luman. Their live recording of 'My Baby Walks All Over Me' and 'Milk Cow Blues' can be found on the 'Rockin' At Town Hall' album. Burton's first recording with Nelson was "Waiting in School" / "Stood Up". Joe Maphis played lead and James played rhythm. After this, Burton took over from Maphis and played on every record until 1967. "Believe What You Say" was Burton's first record with Nelson, on which he played lead guitar.

Burton's style of playing has always been very distinct. He uses a straight pick and a fingerpick on his middle finger. On this record, James replaced his first 4 strings with banjo strings and moved the A and D string up to D and E. This allowed him to bend the strings up a lot more. James' legendary chickin' pickin' was born. He later had them gauged: .009, .010, .012, .024, .032 and .038.
While working with Nelson, Burton also found time to record with Glen Campbell. Burton played dobro on Campbell's 1963 album "Big Bluegrass Special". This is probably the first album on which Burton played dobro. While taking a break from a session with Nelson, Burton and Joe Osborn (Nelson's bass player after James Kirkland left) recorded 3 instrumental songs. "Fireball Mail"/"Daisy Mae"/"Bimbo". The songs were released as singles on the Fabor label under the name "Jim and Joe". Also recorded in 1963 was Burton's solo single "Swamp Surfer"/"Everybody Listens to the Dobro". It was released under the name of Jimmy Dobro.

Still working with Nelson, Burton also found time to record with artists like Dean Martin, Bobby Darin and The Everly Brothers. Burton was under contract with Ricky Nelson, so he couldn't do much outside of his work with Ricky. But because of his work with Ricky on songs like "Hello Mary Lou" and "Travelin' Man", Burton was an increasingly in-demand guitar player. In '65, Burton got a call from Johnny Cash to play dobro on a TV pilot for a new musical show called "Shindig". Nelson wasn't too happy about the fact that Burton would leave him, but after a while, Nelson's manager gave Burton the go-ahead.

The television exposure served as a catalyst for James' rising session demand. Calls came in from all sectors of the music field. Burton would be doing 4 to 6 sessions a day and sometimes up to 25 sessions a week! He does regret that he never kept a log of all the sessions he did, and since record jackets from the 60's rarely gave credit to session men, his work is mostly undocumented. "I was busy 24 hours a day, seven days a week," said Burton. "Sometimes I felt like a walking zombie, but all the different styles kept the music interesting."

Burton was called to play on a session with Merle Haggard and Buck Owens, in Bakersfield, California. Burton helped creating the 'Bakersfield sound' while playing with them. On those sessions, he also met pedal steel player Ralph Mooney, with whom he would record his first solo album in 1969. In 1968, James was nominated for the Country Music Award for Best Lead Guitar, but it would take 10 years and 7 nominations before Burton finally won the award for Best Guitar Player.

In 1968, James got the call from Elvis Presley to be on his Comeback television special, but at the time, he was working with Frank Sinatra and therefore was unavailable. Elvis told James how he always watched the Ozzie and Harriet show just to see James play. It was no surprise that when Elvis called James back in '69 to put up a band for his Las Vegas engagement, he was there. It was a very though decision to make, since his studio career was very busy and very lucrative. Burton had already turned down an offer by Bob Dylan to go on tour. Sessions were usually booked three months in advance, so Presley gave Burton a few months to get the band together. Burton would remain with Elvis until Elvis' untimely death in 1977.

In the 70's, Burton was still one of the most in-demand guitar players. In 1971, James was in the studio to record with Elvis. When Elvis didn't show up because he was ill, the producer saw an opportunity to record James' second solo album: "The Guitar Sounds of James Burton". Burton wasn't too satisfied with the result, because it wasn't planned well enough.

In 1972, Gram Parsons contacted James. Gram had a deal to do an album and he really wanted James on it. It was at these sessions that he met Emmylou Harris. Gram died in 1973 and in 1974, Emmylou Harris had signed with Warner Music. They had told her to get a 'hot band'. She did. She recorded her debut album in 1975, titled "Pieces of the Sky". Because she wanted Burton and Glen D. Hardin, who at that time was also working for Presley, on tour with her, she carefully planned her tours around Elvis'. Tough touring with Presley and Emmylou Harris kept Burton busy, he still had much session work. The Hot Band did sessions for producer Brian Ahern, including sessions for Jonathan Edwards, Rodney Crowell, Mary Kay Place and Jesse Winchester. Other sessions included (all) members of Presley's TCB Band for artists like Bob Mosley, J.J. Cale and Hoyt Axton.

Presley's death came as a shock to James, but instead of doing nothing, he dove head-on into session work. Shortly before Presley's death, Burton got a call from John Denver. He wanted to do a television special with him. During the taping, Denver asked if he wanted to go on an European tour. After Presley's death, Burton got the call for an album. He remained with Denver for 15 years. He was also part of Denver's Wildlife Concert in 1995. When John passed in 1997, James was a speaker at his funeral.

In 1978, The TCB Band, Presley's back up band, recorded an album, called "The TCB Band". Every member sings a few songs on this album. Unfortunately, this album was never released. In '79, Burton recorded an album with Jerry Lee Lewis, another collaboration that would last for years to come. Back to top.

As the 70's came to an end, Burton was still going strong. The sessions went on. Artists like Kenny Rogers, Elvis Costello and Johnny Cash were eager to have him on their records. He toured with Jerry Lee Lewis and with John Denver. Due to the amount of storage space on Lewis' Lear jet, Burton toured with only his Paisley Telecaster. With Denver, he carried several instruments, including backup dobro's and a spare Telecaster. The Lear also lacked space for heavy amplifiers, so they had to be provided by the promoter each night, something Burton isn't too happy with. "It isn't necessarily my sound sometimes. I just can't get the sound of a Fender Twin out of something else."

In 1986, Burton teamed up with singer/songwriter Elvis Costello. Burton played on Costello's King of America album and also toured with him. Burton would appear on 4 albums by Costello.
In 1987, Roy Orbison did a highly acclaimed television special which was stunningly filmed in Black and White. Elvis Presley' TCB Band was the back up band with, of course, James on lead. Other guests were, Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Waits among others. "It's not every day that you get to sing harmony with Roy Orbison and play guitar next to James Burton", said Springsteen after the show. Back to top.

With the 90's came the long anticipated release of an instructional video. In the video, Burton explains how he played his most well known solos, like Hello Mary Lou, and Too Far Gone to name a few. At the end of the video, Burton plays a 3 minute instrumental that is worth the price of the video all by itself.

In the 90's, Burton had a severe accident. He was cutting a limb off a tree, but he lost his balance and slipped. He broke both his ankles. A plate and a half-dozen screws were needed to repair Burton's left ankle, while two long screws were inserted into his right ankle. While in the hospital, he went in a coma for 10 days, caused by a reaction to the medication. Fortunately, he recovered and is doing fine now.

In 1995, a longtime conservation enthusiast, John Denver performed this concert in celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Wildlife Conservation Society. The show was called The Wildlife Concert, and is available on video and DVD.

Sessions aren't as busy as they once used to be. Apart from the sessions he does, he also has time to tour, and make appearances at guitar shows.

August 1997 marked the 20th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death. The idea of doing a live Elvis concert with Presley on a big screen sounded great to Burton. Once again he was playing with Elvis and this time, they would go all over the world. Back to top.
After 45 years in the recording business, the millennium ended, but the 2000's had more in store for James. Burton makes frequent appearances at fan club conventions mostly in Europe. But in 2001 came the recognition he should have gotten years ago: James was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March of that year. Keith Richards, Rolling Stones guitarist and long time Burton fan, inducted James. "I never bought a Ricky Nelson record, I bought a James Burton record."
In 2001, Burton also teamed up with fellow Nelson band mate Joe Osborn, to record Osborn's Christmas album: "Joy to the World".
2005 was the year of James' guitar festival. This 3-day benefit featured artists like Steve Cropper, Jerry Donahue, the Nelson Twins, Brad Paisley and many more. The proceeds went to the James Burton Foundation. The foundation is dedicated to providing musical scholarships and instruments to children as well as young adults. A website for the foundation was launched and can be found at www.jamesburtonmusic.com. 2005 also saw the release of James' solo project 'God Loves You'. A spiritual album featuring James on both guitar and vocals. The album hasn't been officially released yet, but that will change soon, hopefully.

In March of 2007, James' second guitar festival took place in Shreveport. His session work once again paid off and James was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame as part of the Wrecking Crew. James also formed his own band, appropriately titled The James Burton Band. His son Jeff is the lead singer and in May 2008 they had their European debut with shows in Holland, Belgium and France. Back to top.

In 2009, James won a Grammy for Best Country Instrumental Performance, together with Vince Gill, Steve Wariner, Redd Volkaert, Albert Lee, John Jorgenson, and Brent Mason for the Brad Paisley track "Cluster Pluck." In August of that year, James celebrated his 70th birthday with another International Guitar Festival to raise funds for his foundation. Before the big show on the 22nd, James was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.