Beatles Friend, Stones’ Saxman, Keys Publishes Memoir
(column by Steve Smith)
Bobby Keys has many friends including Beatles Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney. His memoir, “Every Night’s a Saturday Night,” has just hit the bookstores. Don’t recognize the name? Keys has been an unofficial member of The Rolling Stones since 1969, when he played on “Live With Me,” from “Let it Bleed.” He’s played on every Stones album from then until 1974 and from 1980 to today. Keys also played on every tour since their fabled U.S. comeback tour in 1969.
The 68-year-old Texas reedman began his career at age 15 when he toured with Bobby Vee. Keys first met The Stones in San Antonio in 1964. In 1969-70, he became a member of the traveling band of hippies known as Joe Cocker’s huge Mad Dogs and Englishmen band. He also played with Derek and The Dominos.
Played On Last Lennon McCartney Session
In 1970, such was saxman Bobby Keys stature with English rockers that his self-titled instrumental solo album featured the likes of Ringo Starr, George Harrison and Eric Clapton. He also participated in the last musical session between John Lennon and Paul McCartney. This spontaneous jam session happened one day in Santa Monica in the summer of 1974. It’s been out on bootlegs as “A Toot and a Snore in ’74″ and also featured Harry Nilsson and Stevie Wonder.
The man has some stories to tell. Keys and his band, The Suffering Bastards, play the Highline Ballroom in NYC on March 9 and the Keswick Theatre in Glenside, Pennsylvania, March 10.
Keith Richards Plays First Major Show In 5 years
Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards played what’s been termed his first major concert in five years when he joined Eric Clapton at the Apollo Theatre in New York City for Clapton’s star-packed “Howlin’ for Hubert” tribute benefit. The Jazz Foundation event honored Howlin’ Wolf’s hugely influential great blues guitarist, Hubert Sumlin, who died in December at 80, reports CBS News.
The foundation has supported hundreds of musicians who fell on hard times. Richards has performed on rare occasions since the end of The Stones’ “Bigger Bang” tour in 2007; such as in 2008 when he joined The Crickets for a few Buddy Holly songs at that band’s induction into the Musician’s Hall of Fame in Nashville. At the Apollo, Richards joined Clapton on “Goin’ Down Slow,” a song written in 1941 by St. Louis Jimmy Oden and recorded by Wolf and Sumlin in 1962.
The 68-year-old Stones’ co-leader and Clapton later ran through “Spoonful” which Clapton and his ’60s supergroup Cream recorded in 1966, and “Little Red Rooster” which The Stones hit No. 1 with in Britain in 1964. Both were composed by Wolf’s legendary bass player Willie Dixon.
Richards addressed the SRO crowd, “It’s good to be back. God****, it’s good to be back.” Among the evening’s other performers were monster blues singer-guitarist Buddy Guy, ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons, Allman Brothers guitarists Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks, Keb Mo, Elvis Costello, blues harmonica player James Cotton, former Fabulous guitarist Jimmie Vaughan and singer-harmonica player Kim Wilson, New York Dolls singer David Johansen, as well as guitarists Gary Clarke, Jr., Doyle Bramhall II, and Robert Randolph.
The house band featured drummers Steve Jordan and Jim Keltner, bassist Willie Weeks and pianist Ivan Neville.
Upon hearing of Sumlin’s death, Richards called him, “Warm, humorous and always encouraging. He was a gentleman of the highest order.” Richards and Mick Jagger paid the entire cost of Sumlin’s funeral.
Ex-Supertramp Hodgson’s Begins First US Tour In 29 Years
In the ’70s, English singer-instrumentalist Roger Hodgson and singing keyboardist Rick Davies took their band, Supertramp, to the top of the charts with smashes like, “Dreamer,” “Give a Little Bit” and “The Logical Song.”
In 1981, a rift developed between the two and Hodgson moved to Northern California, leaving his band, which had relocated to L.A., behind. Since then, he’s only recorded three albums, and only one since 1987. Hodgson, now 61, is undertaking a brief 10-date American tour that began this week with a couple shows at the Pachenga Casino in Temecula, California. It’s his first in 29 years.
When asked by Tulsa World why he left Supertramp and the limelight of a rock superstar, he said, “I’ve always tried to trust my instincts and follow my heart. I began yearning for a simpler life. I wanted to spend time at home with my family, raising my kids. I wanted to have a private life and live it based on the values I had. So, I moved out of Los Angeles and built a home that was solar powered in a place where I could be closer to nature.”
Regarding a Supertramp reunion with Davies, who continues to lead the band, Hodgson says, “It’s hard to go back in time. Rick and I were together in Supertramp for 14 years. We live in different worlds now. But I realize some people really want to see us together. I offered to so a few select dates with Rick and the other band members, but for whatever reason that offer was rejected. I don’t see a Supertramp reunion ever happening.”
Robin Gibb Liver Cancer Treatment Setback
Only a couple weeks after saying he felt better than he has in a decade, former Bee Gees singer Robin Gibb is back in a London hospital, having suffered an apparent setback in his battle with an aggressive form of liver cancer, according to Britain’s Daily Mail. The 62-year-old singer has also battled serious stomach and colon problems in recent months. Two weeks ago, Gibb was well enough to perform at a charity concert for military veterans at the London Palladium, where he sang the Bee Gees hits, “How Deep is Your Love” and “I’ve Gotta Get a Message To You.”
Chicago And The Doobies Double-Up For Summer
Chicago and The Doobie Brothers are teaming up for a summer tour that will feature full individual sets from both veteran bands as well as a concert-ending set with both bands onstage playing some of their biggest hits. This double-bill tour stops at the Gibson Amphitheatre in Universal City on July 15.
Chuck Berry And Leonard Cohen Honored
PEN New England, a non-profit organization that promotes writing and literature, honored 85-year-old rock and roll pioneer Chuck Berry and 77-year-old singer-songwriter-poet Leonard Cohen with its Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence Award at the JFK Presidential Library in Boston, according to the Boston Herald.
Paul Simon paid tribute to Berry, while author Salmon Rushdie honored Cohen. A musical tribute to Berry was performed by Elvis Costello and a man introduced as “the best selling author in the room,” unannounced surprise guest Keith Richards, who borrowed Costello’s guitar and delivered an unrehearsed take with Costello on a rare Berry song, “Promised Land.” Shawn Colvin performed a musical tribute to Cohen. Bob Dylan sent a telegram to be read at the ceremony, in which he called Berry, “the Shakespeare of rock and roll” and Cohen, “the Kafka of the blues.”
During his acceptance, Berry grabbed Costello’s guitar and thrilled the attendees by performing a spontaneous “Johnny B. Goode.” Among the panel who voted on the award recipients were Simon, Costello, Rushdie, U2′s Bono, Roseanne Cash, and Smokey Robinson.
Johnny Cash’s 80th Tribute Set For April
“We Walk the Line: A Celebration of the Music of Johnny Cash” will take place in Austin on April 20 to commemorate what would have been the late Man in Black’s 80th birthday, according to the Associated Press. Among those honoring Cash, who died in 2003 at age 71, will be Kenny Chesney, Kris Kristofferson, John Hiatt, Lucinda Williams, Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell, former Brooks and Dunn singer Ronnie Dunn and Ray LaMontagne.
The house band will be comprised of record producing bassist Don Was, noted country guitarist Buddy Miller, former Faces keyboardist Ian McLagan, guitar and steel pedal guitarist Greg Leisz, and drummer Kenny Aronoff.
Aronoff is currently on tour replacing Chad Smith of The Red Hot Chili Peppers in the supergroup, Chickenfoot, joining with Sammy Hagar, former Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony and hotshot guitarist Joe Satriani.
A 51-song, 2-CD set of unreleased Cash songs, “Bootleg Vol. IV: The Soul of Truth,” comes out April 3.
British Invasion Paul Revere And The Raiders, Top New Releases
Among the new album releases, re-issues and deluxe packages are “The Complete Columbia Singles” from former Paul Revere and The Raiders singer Mark Lindsay; “The Complete Epic Recordings,” a 2-CD set from Rick Nelson; “When Country Meets Dixie” from The Oak Ridge Boys and The Dukes of Dixieland; ”Release Me,” from Lyle Lovett; “Free Again: The ’1070′ Sessions” from former Box Tops and Big Star leader Alex Chilton; “Beyond Magnetic” from Metallica; “Seven Deadly” from English hard rockers UFO; and “(Blank) All the Perfect People” from “Wild Thing” and “Angel in the Morning” songwriter Chip Taylor and his band, The New Ukrainians.
The Irish are alive and in the recording studio. New releases from the Emerald Isle include “How About I Be Me (and You Be You)?” from singer Sinead O’Connor; “Voice of Angels,” the 50th annual celebration from The Chieftains; and “Roses,” the first album in 11 years from singer Dolores O’Riordan and her band, The Cranberries.
Boston To Tour Boston And East Coast
In June, Boston, led by guitarist-mastermind Tom Scholz, will hit the road for the first time in four years. The band, whose 1976 self-titled debut album sold more than 17 million copies, plays the first of a dozen dates in Hollywood, Florida, on June 28. The tour runs up and down the East Coast and includes three shows in Ontario, Canada.
On the band’s website, Scholz, 64, said he wanted to perform a few shows before the end of the world on December 21 as predicted by the Mayans. “If I was making a bucket list, it would definitely include going out one more time to play some Boston shows–before time runs out. So, just to be safe, we are going to do exactly that.”
Adios, Buffalo Springfield?
When asked the status of his band, The Buffalo Springfield, singer-guitarist Richie Furay told radio station WBAI-FM, “Your guess is as good as mine. I doubt in 2012 that there will be a tour, but I’m never gonna say never.” Furay added, “You know, Neil (Young) is fickle.”
Young has apparently moved on to a few projects with the hard rock band Crazy Horse with who he’s had a decades-long, on-again, off-again recording and touring relationship.
Ex-Zappa Bassist Roy Estrada Sentenced
Bassist Roy Estrada, 68-year-old founding member of both Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention and Little Feat was sentenced in a Texas court to 25 years in prison for molesting child under 14 years of age for an extended period of time, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Under the terms of a plea bargain, Estrada will not be eligible for parole and will not be released until he is 93 years old.
Toto Sues Sony
Following in the footsteps of Peter Frampton and Kenny Rogers, Toto has become the latest in a series of recording artists to sue their label over unpaid digital royalties, reports Billboard. The band’s suit claims that Sony failed to pay the L.A. group that formed in 1976 “50 percent of net receipts from licensing the band’s music to third parties selling downloads of their work.” The band is asking for compensatory damaged in excess of $605,000 plus interest, in addition to paying for all accounting and legal fees.
U2′s Clayton Sues
U2 bassist Adam Clayton sued the Bank of Ireland and an Irish accounting firm, Gaby Smyth Co. regarding approximately $7 million in misappropriated funds, according to the Irish Independent.
Clayton claims that his former personal assistant, Carol Hawkins, took the money over a five-year period that ended in November 2009. Clayton wants nearly $7 million in damages because of the accounting firm’s “alleged negligence and breach of contract.” The bassist also has a separate suit against Hawkins herself, who was charged with 184 theft and fraud charges last year.
Fiona Apple Returns
Singer-songwriter Fiona Apple, whose 1996 debut album, “Tidal” went triple platinum, and who has been out of the limelight in recent years, will headline the 2012 Governors Ball Music Festival in New York City.
Apple and another ’90s biggie, Beck, will perform on June 24. Modest Mouse will also play. Apple, 34, whose last album came out seven years ago, will make at least eight rare concert appearances in March, including a gig on the 15th at the Central Presbyterian Church in Austin as part of the huge SXSW fest, notes Entertainment Weekly.
Seger, Lightfoot in Hall
Bob Seger, Gordon Lightfoot and Meat Loaf’s “Bat Out of Hell” songwriting pal, Jim Steinman will be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame on June 14 at the Marquis Marriott in NYC. Also inducted will be country songwriter Don Schlitz, best known for writing “The Gambler” for Kenny Rogers and “Forever and Ever, Amen” for Randy Travis.
REO, Styx And The Motor City Madman
“The Midwest Rock and Roll Express: REO Speedwagon, Styx and Ted Nugent” kicks off May 1 in Hidalgo, Texas. Terrible Ted, the Motor City Madman, will serve as opening act on all dates, while REO and Styx rotate as headliners. The Express makes a pit stop at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles on May 6.
Kid Rock Rocks For Romney
Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney had a surprise guest perform at the Michigan native’s final rally before the Michigan primary, in Royal Oak, Michigan. It was Detroit native son, Kid Rock, who performed his “Born Free,” the song Romney has been using as the theme song at his rallies.
Rock has three gigs in Oklahoma lined up in March. Then, he’ll be off until he sets sail from April 26-30 on Carnival Cruise’s “Kid Rock’s Chillin’ the Most Cruise,” out of Miami.
Nick Lowe To Tour America In April
Former Rockpile singer-bassist Nick Lowe will tour America beginning on April 18 in Minneapolis. The 62-year-old writer of the 1979 Top 40 hit, “Cruel to be Kind” as well as “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding” also that year, has a dozen dates set mostly on the East Coast through May 3.
Gary Moore Toxicology Report Revelation
Irish guitar great Gary Moore, who was briefly a member of Thin Lizzy, died at a luxury resort in Spain last February at age 58. It was initially believed he died of a heart attack. However, the Daily Mail reports that he had an alcohol level of approximately 0.4, five times higher than the legal limit.
Sammy And Perry And Slash And Ali
Former Van Halen singer Sammy Hagar, Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry and former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash performed at a benefit at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas celebrating the 70th birthday of former three-time heavyweight champ, Muhammad Ali. “Ali 70th from Las Vegas” airs on ABC on Saturday night. Proceeds from the benefit go to the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health and the Muhammad Ali Center.
Chuck Leavell, ex-Allman Brother, Now Forest Ranger
Alabama-born keyboardist Chuck Leavell, 58, was in The Allman Brothers during the band’s hit-making heyday, from 1972-76. Then he formed The Allman’s offshoot group, Sea Level. In 1982, he became a touring member of The Rolling Stones, a gig he holds to this day.
Leavell, a longtime environmentalist and conservationist, was named an honorary forest ranger by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to the AP. In 2008, he co-founded the Mother Nature Network, an online news service that reports on environmental issues.
Music Industry Obits
Singing-songwriting session musician Billy Strange, who arranged Nancy Sinatra’s first hit, “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’,” in 1966, and who played on recording sessions including on The Beach Boys “Pet Sounds” as well as on records by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Elvis Presley, died in Nashville of unknown causes at age 81, reports the Nashville Tennessean.
Strange came up with the idea of teaming Sinatra and his daughter Nancy on “Something Stupid,” the smash that became Frank Sinatra’s first million-selling single.
Pianist-composer-arranger Mike Melvoin died in Burbank of cancer at 74, according to Spinner. Wendy Melvoin, who was Prince’s protégé as half of Wendy and Lisa in the ’80s, announced her father’s passing. Like Billy Strange, Melvoin also played on The Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds.” His other sessions included Nat King Cole’s “Unforgettable,” Frank Sinatra’s “That’s Life” and John Lennon’s cover version of Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me.”
Session saxophonist Red Holloway, who blew his horn on recordings for Aretha Franklin, Billie Holliday, B.B. King and Lionel Hampton, died in Cambria, California from kidney failure and complications of a stroke at age 84, according to Pollstar. He was performing live as late as last October.
Guitarist Louisiana Red, who recorded more than 50 albums in a career that lasted a half-century, died in his adopted country of Germany after falling into a coma due to a thyroid imbalance at age 79. Red played with John Lee Hooker, Eric Burdon, Albert King and others. Red, an African-American, had a tough early life. His mother died shortly after his birth, and his father was lynched by Ku Klux Klansmen when he was five.
Classic acts from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s continue to perform. Here’s what some of them are doing.
Gary Numan, the 53-year-old English synth and guitar player and singer, whose electronic hit, “Cars,” went to the top of the singles charts in Britain and Canada and No. 9 here in 1979, has a British tour set for the end of May and into early June.
Cliff Richard, who has sold an estimated 250 million records in career that dates back to 1958 and who was knighted in 1995 is still recording, performing and remains immensely popular in Britain at age 71. Sir Cliff will share the stage with Sir Paul McCartney in a performance for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee at Buckingham Palace on June 4.
Still wild and crazy at 75, Buddy Guy, who played the White House with Mick Jagger and Jeff Beck last week, remains of one of America’s premiere blues guitarists. He’s ranked 30th on Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.” Guy is booked solid with an American and Canadian tour through the end of September, including an August 10 evening at the Greek Theatre in L.A.
In 1957, Debbie Reynolds sang “Tammy,” the theme from her film, “Tammy and the Bachelor.” It was nominated for a Best Song Oscar. It lost, but nonetheless, the song hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Still amazingly active at 79, Reynolds performs “Tammy” at dozens of concerts annually. She’ll be at the Sturges Theatre in San Bernardino on March 3.
Corrections: Monkee Mike Nesmith lives in Santa Barbara; and Joe Walsh’s album listening party at the Troubadour in West Hollywood was before Paul McCartney’s Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony.
Steve Smith writes a new Classic Pop, Rock and Country Music News column every week. Read it here at Beatlesarama.com!
Contact me by email at Classicpopmusic.