Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Who Is Bobby Parker and Why The Hell Should I Care?

The best stuff I've ever heard is ... on a record called 'Watch Your Step' by a bloke named Bobby Parker." -   Robin Trower Guitar Player Magazine 1980

How many people can say they inspired Carlos Santana to pick up the guitar? 

Or inspired the Beatles to write not only "I Feel Fine", but "Day Tripper" as well?
Or inspired Washington DC music legend Chuck Brown to sing and play guitar? Or was part of Bo Diddley's band when Bo appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1955. An appearance led to the late guitarist being banned permanently from any further bookings on the show, which at that time was the top-rated show on television.

Or was with the Winter Dance Party in February 1959 at The Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa "The Day The Music Died" when Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper were all killed in a plane crash?  

Or enjoyed the patronage of Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page, who wanted to sign Bobby to Swan Song Records, making Bobby the first artist on the label?

Bobby Parker could and did...

Born in Lafayette, Louisiana in 1937, Bobby Parker was raised in southern California after his family moved to Los Angeles when he was six. Going to school in Hollywood, the young Parker was bitten by the scenery, and decided he wanted to be in show business after being taken to clubs by his father, who had a job servicing jukeboxes in the area. It was around this time he met and later became good friends with Etta James.

At the Million Dollar Theatre, he saw big stage shows by Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Billy Eckstine, and Lionel Hampton. Although he had an early interest in jazz, the blues bit him when artists like T-Bone Walker, Lowell Fulson, Johnny "Guitar" Watson, and Pee Wee Crayton came to town. 

Parker began playing in the early '50s as a guitarist with Otis Williams and the Charms after winning a talent contest sponsored by Johnny Otis. Later, he backed Bo Diddley, which included a historic appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, which led to Bo being banned by Ed from ever appearing on the top-rated show ever again. It was also during this time with Bo that he worked as an uncredited session musician at Chess Records for some of the greatest blues artists of all time, including Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf before joining the touring big band of Paul "Hucklebuck" Williams. He settled in Washington, D.C. in the 1960s, dropping out of Williams's band and making a go of it on his own. 

He is perhaps best known for his 1961 song, "Watch Your Step," a single for the V-Tone label that peaked at # 51 in the pop charts and was released on London HLU 9393 in the UK. The John Barry Seven released an instrumental version in November 1961 and Parker's song was later covered by several British blues groups, most prominent among them the Spencer Davis Group, and serving as the basis for Led Zeppelin's 'Moby Dick", and is the primary influence for two Beatles classics, "Day Tripper" and "I Feel Fine."

Although Bobby Parker may not be a familiar name to the average music fan,  he definitely caught the ear of many musicians in the UK, who then filtered variations, and brought it back to the youth of America.

John Lennon in particular was enamored of Parker.  A KB Discomatic jukebox made in the UK using a Swiss-made mechanism which Lennon bought in 1965. to accompany him on tour, he loaded it with 40 singles - one of which was "Watch Your Step". 

In 1974, when the ex-Beatle made a guest appearance spinning vinyl on New York City's highest-rated station at the time, WNEW, he brought in a handful of his favorites. Bobby Parker being one of them.  On air, before playing "Watch Your Step", Lennon said, "'Watch Your Step' is one of my favorite records. The Beatles have used the lick in various forms. The Allman Brothers used the lick straight as it was."

Fellow Beatles guitarist George Harrison admitted in March 1990 while speaking to Musician magazine, “I’ll tell you exactly how that came about. We were crossing Scotland in the back of an Austin Princess singing Matchbox (Carl Perkins) in three-part harmony and it turned into I Feel Fine. The guitar part was from Bobby Parker’s Watch Your Step – just a bastardized version.”

Carlos Santana in particular was inspired to pick up the guitar after seeing the guitar legend live in Tijuana as a young teen. Speaking to Guitar Player Magazine in 1996, he said, "“Bobby Parker is a musician of the same caliber as Albert King and Albert Collins. “He’s one of the few remaining guitarists on this planet who can pierce your heart and soothe your soul. He inspired me to pick up the guitar".

Parker's style has been described by his protégé Bobby Radcliff as Guitar Slim meets James Brown, and that's not that far off the mark. In the summer of 1994, Santana was so happy about Parker's comeback on the BlackTop/Rounder label that he took him out on tour with him for a number of dates, including a documented appearance with Buddy Guy, Gatemouth Brown, Nile Rogers, and Santana at the 2004 Montreux Festival.

Parker's music continues to inspire musicians to the present day, as evidenced by Joe Bonamassa's sizzling version of "It's Hard But It's Fair," - originally produced by Fleetwood Mac's producer Mike Vernon - released on the blues rock titan's new album, 'Blues Deluxe 2'.

I was a friend of Bobby's. We corresponded back and forth after this interview, mainly via YouTube messaging. Our conversations unfortunately were lost when Google changed the format of the video-sharing platform years ago. Why was he not as successful as he should have been? That's up for speculation. Bad luck, poor business deals, and many factors were involved. My only hope is that this article will bring him the type of posthumous recognition he deserved while he was alive. Bobby Parker passed away on October 31, 2013, at the age of 76. By all rights, if he were still alive, he'd be right up there with Buddy Guy or Bobby Rush in terms of recognition. We'll never know for sure. At any rate, this is for you Bobby. Love you brother...,  

Interview and text 


 2023 Keith Langerman

NHOR: You were born in Lafayette, Louisiana, but moved to Los Angeles, California when you
were really young. How did you get from Louisiana to California?

Bobby Parker: I was about six or seven years of age, something like that. My family was looking for a
better life, a better shot at it, you know? They wanted to get out of the whole race situation that was
going on in Louisiana. It was terrifying when I was just a child there. My dad was an accomplished
musician, but he didn't he didn't play music as his livelihood. He was trying to get out of all that stuff going on in Louisiana and make a big legitimate life for himself. We eventually did that when we got to
California. He used to have video machines and Wurlitzer jukeboxes. He had hundreds of them out in
L.A. At the airports, post offices, and places like that. He was really lucky. By the time I was 10 or 12, my father was rollin' man.

NHOR: So he had a jukebox business then?

BP: Jukeboxes, and whatever made money. Candy machines, pinball, whatever. He had
photo machines too. You'd put a dollar in there, it'd spin around, and you'd pull the curtain. He had those gizmos. He used to tell me, "Robert, you're not in school on Saturday. I want you to go with me to service machines". I'd say, "Oh, woah..."(Laughs)

I got into wanting to do it because I found out that in some of those nightclubs, where all those machines were, there were blues cats playing. Oh, man. I used to run into T Bone Walker, Lowell Fulson, and a bunch of cats. Little Esther Phillips. Man, they were the real deal. We saw them rehearsing, and my father would say, "C'mon Robert, we've got to go". I'd be thinking, "This is getting good!" (Laughs) Hearing all those good blues licks.

NHOR: Is that what led you towards playing the blues, seeing all those musicians in the clubs
while with your father?

BP:  Absolutely. My mom was a great gospel singer also. Her family...Four or five of her
sisters and brothers, they were really good singers in church. My dad met my mom some kind of way
there. He was tall, light-skinned, and had hazel eyes. My mom was a really pretty black
lady. (Laughs) I got all this music honestly man.

NHOR: Who were your early musical influences? Who did you listen to first?

BP: Lowell Fulson. I'll tell you a little story about him. I had a little paper route when I was
about 12 or 13 years old. There used to be an old guy who would sit outside down the street from where
we had a house. My dad had bought a nice house after he got on his feet out in L.A. I used to throw the
paper over this guy's fence.

Then around seven in the evening, I used to have to go collect the quarters for the papers. I'd ride my
bicycle around collecting from the people. I saw this old guy sitting out on the porch, wailing blues like
John Lee Hooker, man. This guy was one of the people I delivered papers to, but I didn't know that until
later. I thought he had a family there, but nobody lived there but him. He was some kind of dynamite. He was way up there, probably pushing 80, but he looked in pretty good health.

I used to come up there and say, "Collecting for The Times". He'd say, "C'mon in here boy. You like this
music?" I'd say, "Yeah man". He asked me, "Have you ever tried to play one of these guitars?" I told him, "No, I haven't". He asked me, "Well, how would you like to learn?" So I told him, "I sure would like to learn it". (Laughs) He told me, "Well, I know your dad, and you live right up the street. Why don't you take my guitar, practice on it, and see what you come up with". I said, "Whoa, that is really nice of you"

NHOR : What kind of guitar was it?

Lowell Fulson, 1950's

BP : 
 It was an acoustic. A great big old box. As big as me. I was little then, and I'm kind of
little now. (Laughs) I took it home and I learned Lowell Fulson's "Reconsider Baby". That was the first
song I ever learned. I went down to The Johnny Otis Show, with Johnny Otis, Mel Walker and Little
Esther. Etta James and Johnny "Guitar" Watson were in the same area. They hung out down at the Club
Oasis also. I used to go down there. I learned that song, I got on that talent show, on Thursday night, and I won that show for about six weeks straight with that one tune. I didn't know anything else, but people didn't know that. (Laughs) I learned that song, and that was the beginning of the bug that's been biting me from then on.

NHOR : You mentioned Etta James just a little bit ago. I've heard that you went to school with Etta, is that correct?

BP :  Yeah, I went to a school called Manual Arts in Los Angeles. A couple of times during the
summer, summer school, things like that. After I got bitten by this music bug, guitars, blues, and stuff like that, school was on a second plate then. Mainly because the kid gangs at that time were so crazy.
Etta went to Manual Arts. She was a student there. She was learning how to sing and get out in public performing and stuff like that. So was Johnny "Guitar" Watson. When he was young they called him "Young John" Watson. There was a DJ on the radio in California by the name of Hunter Hancock in the '50's who gave him that name. He was great, and so was Lowell Fulson. I learned his song and I was in the zone.

NHOR: Were you and Etta friends during that time?

BP: Not really. We became friends after I was discovered playing with Otis Williams and The
Charms. I was discovered in a little school play. Some of Otis Williams' group came backstage and said,
"Wow, you play guitar great, and you sing great too. How would you like to go out on the road and get
with a good group?" I asked, "Who's the group?" They said, "Otis Williams and The Charms". I said,
"Whoa! I've heard of you guys!"

I found out that they were just like The Jackson 5. They were so good. With the dance steps, and that
Jackson 5 type of thing. Way ahead of them of course. So after I got out there I learned a lot. That was
my first big gig, traveling. I was supposed to go back to school, but I couldn't go back to school. The kids were too rough, in high school, junior high school.

Otis Williams & The Charms, 1954

NHOR: This was after they had their hit with "Hearts Of Stone?" ( In 1954, "Hearts of Stone" gave Otis Williams & The Charms their first and biggest hit, reaching #1 on the R&B charts for nine weeks at the end of the year. It sold over one million copies, their first recording to do so, and was awarded a gold disc. It also reached #15 on the pop charts)

BP : Yeah, it was right after that. They were hot, man!

NHOR: So you were still in high school when you were out on the road with them?.

BP: Yeah, I was still in high school then. I got interested in the music, and I wanted to get out
of that, because the kids and the gangs on the street were more than I could take.

NHOR : After you were with Otis Williams you joined Bo Diddley's band. How did you get hooked up with Bo?

BP : That was from being seen on Irvin Feld's Top 10 or 15 Revues. We were on those
shows, and also on those shows there was Bo Diddley and The Paul Hucklebuck Band. I went with Bo
after Otis Williams and The Charms. Bo Diddley asked me, "Man, you are sure good with that group. How about kicking it with us and learn some blues? You play blues licks in that doo-wop group". I said, "I'd love to do that Bo".

His real name was Elias McDaniel, and he was young then too. We hooked up, and we learned Bo
Diddley type songs. He was doing what they called "hambone", that hambone lick. He was good. We
toured all over, and we were on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1955. There was some funny stuff going on in
those days, man. Because Ed Sullivan told him, "Bo, you cannot come on here and sing "Bo Diddley".

NHOR: They wanted him to play "Sixteen Tons"...

BP : (Sings) "Sixteen Tons...And what do you get"....That was the biggest song in the nation
at that time, by Tennessee Ernie Ford. So Bo Diddley was mad as I don't know what. I said, "Bo, let's play "Bo Diddley" anyway". So they agreed. Bo started off playing "Sixteen Tons", then after about 10 or 15 seconds of it went right into "Bo Diddley". He made "Sixteen Tons" sound like Bo Diddley. When the show was over, Ed Sullivan and his crew were so mad they didn't know what to do, man. But you know what? It made "Bo Diddley a superstar. Millions of people saw that, and they were just crazy about Bo after that.

NHOR: Ed Sullivan was big back then. You couldn't get any bigger than that show...

BP: Oh yeah, he was big time, on Sunday evenings all over the country.

NHOR: That led to him being banned from the show, and he never was to appear on it again. Was
Bo aware at the time that going against Sullivan would result in him being banned?

BP: He didn't realize coming on there that he wasn't going to be allowed to do his own style
of stuff. He didn't know he would get banned. Bo was just a down south guy, from Mississippi, he didn't
know the ways of the world. He knew no other style. If you hummed any song to him, when he played it, it would sound like his stuff. So you couldn't blame him for it. He was just being Bo. (Laughs) That's the stuff he learned as a kid down in Mississippi.

NHOR: Speaking of Bo, you also played on the recording of "Diddley Daddy" that was cut at
Chess Records in Chicago, which became one of his signature songs. What do you recall about
that session?

BP : Yeah. That was with that short guy on Maracas, Jerome Green. When I got to Chess
Records, I was really ga ga about that situation. Because I met everybody in the blues world. One thing
about that is that I was just a kid, but I was good, and I could play. We recorded a lot of tracks, and some of them didn't have any vocals on them. We just laid tracks down. I think Howlin' Wolf and everybody else came afterward and put words and vocals on those tracks. A lot of people. Bo Diddley did some, came in, and put vocals on tracks we did later on. He would make up tracks. He had a list of cliches, and hooks that he'd come up with, and he'd just stick them in and see if they'd work.

 NHOR: So basically you and the band would go in, lay down the backing tracks, then the
vocalists would come down, lay down their parts, and you didn't know what songs they would be

BP: Absolutely.

NHOR: What was that blues scene like during the 50's? Many of those people who played there at that time are legends now, but at the time they were just local artists, like any other scene....

BP : That's right. They were just scuffling along in life, trying to make a living, man. Little Walter, Howlin' Wolf, Muddy, Jimmy Reed...I was on Vee Jay Records when I recorded "You Got What It Takes" in 1957.
(Sings) "You don't drive a big fine car...You don't look like a movie star"...That was my record, man. I
don't know what happened. I was just a kid, it got away from me. The Gordys took it.

NHOR: How does something like that happen? This is a song that you wrote, performed, and
recorded first, as the flip side to your first single "Blues Get Off My Shoulder", yet two years later the same exact song was released by Berry Gordy and recorded by Marv Johnson, who had a Top 10 hit with it, only instead of you being credited as the composer, it's listed as being written by Berry Gordy, Gwen Fuqua and Roquel Davis. You obviously wrote it, and recorded it....

 BP:  Yeah, with Paul Hucklebuck's band. They loved the song, and it just got away from me.

NHOR: How did you feel when you saw that your name wasn't listed as a composer?

BP: I just felt that it was a terrible tragedy. Because as a kid, young people like myself,
guitarists...We didn't know all the legalities. We were just trying to play music, man. And looking at young girls. (Laughs) The legalities of things just got by sometimes. I copyrighted it though.

NHOR: If you copyrighted it, then how could they get away with something like that? Things 
must have been different back then, although in some cases are still the same..

BP: Tell me about it man. I don't get it. For years I've had litigation going on, but it's just carried on and on and on. I think that's the slick way to not pay you.

NHOR: The lost royalties on You Got What It Takes are considerable.  I mean, Marv Johnson’s hit sold a million in 1959 in the USA and UK, with Johnny Kidd & The Pirates also having a minor hit there. The Dave Clark Five took it to No. 7 in the USA in 1967; and Showaddywaddy to No 2 in the UK in 1977. Many other artists including The Supremes and 4 Tops did their versions too. 
All the hits bore the ‘Gordy’ credit and you never received a penny?

 BP: No, not a cent.

 NHOR: You also played with Chuck Berry. When you were with Chuck, were you
playing bass then?

BP: I played bass with Fats Domino's band. But I was playing guitar with everyone else. I
was playing guitar behind Chuck Berry. In those days a lot of those artists didn't carry their own small
bands. It's amazing how that system worked. This guy named Irving Feld put those big shows together
that came out every year. The rock n roll shows, with Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Paul Anka, Annette
Funicello, all of them.

NHOR: Those were the package tours...

BP:  Yeah the package tours. They came out of Charlotte, North Carolina, and New York.
They were great shows. I was on that show when Buddy Holly's plane went down, with The Big Bopper and that little Mexican cat who sang and played really well, Richie Valens. That really hurt us for about a week there. The show had to detour for a few days. Eventually, we got it back together and got back on the road.

 NHOR: So you were on the tour the night Buddy Holly's plane went down.....

BP: Yeah man. They were telling those youngsters not to get on that plane. But they wanted
to go ahead and rest. We drove buses, and we got there later. But they wanted to hurry and get to the
next place. It was not good.

NHOR: What do you recall about that incident? Were you close at all with Buddy?

BP:  Not really. Quiet as it's kept, they were just breaking the color barrier on those shows
also. With Frankie Avalon, and Fabian Forte. It did a lot to ease that out in rock n roll. They had Little
Richard,, Fats Domino, and all those cats. The kids would go berserk because it was beginning to get
mixed race-wise. That's the way it took off. It was Irving Feld. His family nowadays after all these years still owns Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Circus. He's passed on, but his family still runs the circus. That was the family who started all the rock n roll shows

NHOR: I'd like to get into the recording of "Watch Your Step" which was released on V Tone in
1961, and has subsequently been a huge influence on many artists. Carlos Santana, Robin
Trower, and most notably, John Lennon and George Harrison of The Beatles have cited the song
as being an influence. In The Beatles' case, it inspired not only "I Feel Fine" but also "Day
Tripper". Jimmy Page took the riff for the Led Zeppelin song "Moby Dick". Did you have any idea when you were recording it that you were coming up with something that special?

 BP: I had that thing in my mind for months. There was a really famous audio guy, his name
was Ed Green, who became really big-time after a few years in D.C. He said, "Bobby, this is Ed Green.
I've got new machines I just bought, about five or six Ampex machines. I'm putting up a studio, man. I
want you to come by here, bring your guitar, and I'll have a drummer here. I just want to hear how my
stuff sounds". The old Ampex two-track machines sounded so great, man. So thick and heavy. He had
about six of them sitting back to back. He knew how to bounce, and come back, without noise. This was in the early '60s, so multi-tracking was just getting started. Ed Green was amazing.

I used to go over there and fool around, and I had this song in my mind. (Sings the "Watch Your Step" riff)
Like that, you know? He said, "Whoa I like this lick, man!". I had a young boy who was a drummer who used to hang around with me, and we laid the track down. It took me months before I figured out what words were going to go along with that. I was just trying Ed Green's stuff out at the time, and we really came up with some good little tunes then, man. He was trying out his new Ampex machines, and I was just having fun. (Laughs)

NHOR: What sort of equipment were you using during those recordings, in terms of guitars and

 BP:  I'm pretty sure I was using all Fenders. I love Fender stuff. I had Strats and Telecasters
at that time.

NHOR: What kind of amps were you using?

BP: Back in those days, in the 60's, amps were small. I used to group up three or four little
amps that looked like radios, and I'd start finagling around. Like now, I feel my sound is amazing. The
tone that I like is thick and fat. I use preamps now to get it, and it's just huge.

NHOR: You're using Fenders now too, aren't you? At least a Fender cabinet?

BP: Yeah, that's a Fender Twin, but it's really pushed up, man. With preamps and all that
stuff. When I was onstage with Joe, I had no idea that he was going to push up, and play as hard as we
were doing. Because I had some other amps out there that I was going to bring in. Luckily I got a pretty
good sound going down at the Lisner Auditorium.
"Bobby Parker is a criminally underrated blues guitarist. His playing is full of fire and passion." - Joe Bonamassa

I've always liked Gibson Flying V's too though. I took a Flying V and cut it down. I'm kind of a small cat, I
don't weigh any more than about 135, 140 pounds maybe. So I took a big, heavy Flying V, cut the ends
off of it, and it looks really slick. That's what I used when I played with Joe. I cut it down and put great big
bass frets on it, with Gibson pickups, and it really sings man. I took the neck to a cabinet maker who
scaled it down and made it small for me, because it was too wide, and it's just perfect.

NHOR: Speaking of guitars, didn't you have one of the first Stratocasters ever made?

BP:  Let me tell you a story about Fender. My dad took me, when I was 15, to the first Fender
factory in Fullerton, California. That's where I was going to school, at Manual Arts and Dorsey High
School. The first Fender factory was just a little auto shop where they started repairing guitars before
they started making them. They got into it, and it got so good for them. I didn't know who Leo Fender was when we went there. We were just going to this little shop. It was just a little room with a greasy floor. That was in the early 50's. I got a guitar there, set up like I wanted it. At that time I was B.B. King crazy. It was one of the first Strats made, ever.

NHOR: You recently sat in with Joe Bonamassa at the Lisner Auditorium in Washington D.C.
What was that like for you?

BP: He was right on target, with real players. He can sing his ass off, he's amazing.

Bonamassa, he's a nice guy. I'm amazed at him. He comes up, defies all the negatives, and puts people
up there with him. I was very impressed with him.

NHOR: Did you and Joe talk about doing any further collaborations of any sort in the future?

BP:  I'd love to do that man. I stood out there afterward, between 40 minutes to an hour
signing things. In D.C, I've been around here for years, so a lot of them knew me. When I stepped out
there, and Joe introduced me, they said, "Oh...Bobby, that guy!" (Laughs) People were screaming. They
knew me as a powerhouse around here in D.C. And it's all because of that one song, "Steal Your Heart
Away" that Joe was so nice to have me come down there and play with him.

NHOR: You have an association with Led Zeppelin and Jimmy Page. What do you recall about

BP: Page came over here in the '70s and said, "I'm trying to find Bobby Parker". People
started calling me. I'd answer the phone and they'd say, "Hey Bobby, Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin is looking for you. He wants to talk to you about something". (Laughs) I said, "Cool man, tell him to call this number". They said, "Okay, I didn't know if it was okay to give your number out". So Jimmy called me and asked me, "Bobby, where are you playing?" I said, "I'm doing an army base military, an NCO club". Just gigging, trying to make a living, man. It was over in Ft. Myer, Virginia, near D.C.
Page said, "Hey, I'm coming over there in about a week. Will you be playing then?" I said, "Yeah, I'm
playing next Thursday and Friday over there". He said, "I'm going to fly in, come in there and surprise
you". I said, "That would be marvelous".

So we went on with the gig, and I kind of didn't believe it. We were doing the gig, playing the blues like
crazy, and some guy whispered to me up on the bandstand, "Bobby, somebody from England is here to
see you. His name is Page, Jimmy Page. He's sitting here in the back of the club".
I said, "Oh man". I stopped that song right away, and just cut the song off. (Laughs) I said, "Ladies and
gentlemen, we have a surprise here in the club tonight. Let's get Jimmy Page up here to say a few words. Maybe he might want to play a little guitar". He was sitting in the back of the club, smiling, and he put his hands up. He had two or three people with him. He didn't want to come up. He said, "We're just gonna watch you tonight and just enjoy the show". So he never came up.

NHOR: So he never came up and played with you that night?

BP: No, he wouldn't come up.

NHOR: In the Led Zeppelin biography 'Hammer of the Gods" by Stephen Davis', it describes that night a bit differently, where Jimmy came up and jammed a blues song with you and the band. So that didn't happen, is that correct?

BP: That's not true. He never got out of his seat.

NHOR: Jimmy Page was at one time very keen to sign you to Led Zeppelin's Swan Song label in
the early 70s. In fact, it's said that he advanced you $2,000 to record demos, which at the time was
a lot more than it is today. It's said that those never were finished. What happened?

BP: What happened was, there's a huge music store out here in D.C. called Chuck Levin's.
It's a big, huge music store. Somebody from London called me and asked, "Is this Bobby Parker?" I said, "Yes". He said, "I work with Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin". I said, "That's great. I saw him here about a month ago". He told me, "Jimmy wants you to go out to Chuck Levin's Music in your area and pick up a recorder. It's already paid for, all you have to do is pick it up". It was a Teac 4 track, 3340S Reel to Reel. It was a really good recorder. I still have it. It doesn't have any heads in it, but it's a good conversation piece.

So I went out there and picked it up, and started making up songs, licks, and stuff. They were telling me to come over to England. One of the tunes Jimmy liked was "It's Hard But It's Fair". I had about four or five others, but that particular one was the best one they liked I guess. Something happened, I don't know what. We never had any bad words. But something just kind of went by the wayside.

NHOR: During your time in the UK, as musicians do, I'm sure you went out and checked the
bands out who were playing the scene at the time. Were there any who particularly impressed you
during that time?

BP: In 1968 or '69, I played at the Royal Albert Hall. I looked right down in the front row, and
who was sitting there? Eric Clapton. Looking up at me. (Laughs) I couldn't hardly tell because the lights were so bright. I was playing the show, and someone said to me, "Clapton's sitting right down there with The Cream". I said, "Whoa man, that's cool". So they invited him back after I got offstage at the Albert Hall, and we had a great time chatting and stuff like that. And that was the end of it. I never saw him after that.

"Bobby Parker is one of the originators of the guitar solo as we know it today." - Eric Clapton

NHOR: When you were over in the UK in the '60s, you used to have a lot of guitarists who
subsequently were considered legends come out to see you, not only Clapton but Peter Green,
and Jeff Beck, trying to figure out your technique, and how you were playing the songs...

BP,:  Oh yeah, all over. They wanted me to break my guitars over there, set the stage on fire
and all that kind of stuff. I wasn't used to that. I guess they got that from Hendrix and all those people who did that. So maybe they were a little disappointed that I didn't break up my guitars. I only had two nice guitars at that time. I wasn't going to break them up. (Laughs)

NHOR: You've known Carlos Santana, whom you appeared with on the 'Live At Montreux' DVD
since he was 14 years old. He has been a big supporter of you and has said of you. "He's one of
the few remaining guitarists on this planet who can pierce your heart and soothe your soul. He
inspired me to play guitar". How did you meet Carlos?

BP: I was on the show when Paul Hucklebuck's band went to Mexico City. We did a really big
show there. He came backstage and he met me. That was way back when he was young, man. This was
back in the early 60's.

NHOR: What was it like playing with Carlos in Montreux?

BP:  That was with Buddy Guy, him and me, and Gatemouth Brown. It was really great man.
He had the hotel room all swanked out for me, with nice flowers. He's a nice guy like that. I wish he'd call me sometime. I'd love to do another show with him.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

RIP Tim Bogert : An Interview From The Archives With Pioneering Rock Bassist Tim Bogert


When talking about Gods of bass guitar, one that has to be mentioned right away must be Tim Bogert.

 Ever since coming to prominence with Vanilla Fudge back in 1967, this incredibly talented and influential player has been at the forefront of the art of the instrument. Along with  Cream's Jack Bruce and  The Who's John Entwistle, and The Jefferson Airplane's Jack Casady,  he was one of the first to take the bass from mostly a time keeping role and moving it up front and prominent, inspiring countless musicians to go in that direction. 

Others such as Chris Squire of Yes, Geddy Lee of Rush and Billy Sheehan took the ball and ran with it later, but make no mistake about it, Bogert was one of the first in heavy rock to take things to the next level, technique-wise. 

It was Bogert's heavy bass that helped power the high powered boogie rock of Cactus and later on, Beck, Bogert & Appice, both of which also featured long time cohort, drum legend Carmine Appice. 

Always in big demand, he's continued to work countless sessions throughout the years, playing on albums by Rod Stewart, Boxer, Bo Diddley, Rick Derringer, Leslie West and Michael Schenker, to name just several of the projects this super respected bassist has been involved with.

More recently, he's been involved with the successful Vanilla Fudge reunion, and this year, the return after 34 years of the aforementioned Cactus band, who recently have released a fantastic all new album, 'Cactus V' on Escapi Records. 

A return to form, and one of the finest comeback albums in the recent history of heavy rock, this is a "must have" for fans of the original band, or for fans of blues based hard rock in general. 

Recently I had the fantastic opportunity to catch up with Tim at his home in California to discuss not only the new album, but many of the various projects he's been a part of throughout the years. Come join us as we have a conversation with the one, the only, the legendary Mr. Tim Bogert.

Sadly, we lost Tim on January 13, 2021 at the age of 76 after a long fight with cancer. I had the wonderful opportunity to sit down with Tim during the promo for the Cactus V reunion album in 2006. This is that conversation in full.

Interview and text © 2021 Keith Langerman

"Tim Bogert was a huge influence on me and a lot of other players. Vanilla Fudge were an amazing band. Their first album was all covers, and Tim was all over the place on the bass - but everything he did worked. It was such an inspiration to me, because it was an integral part of the arrangement of the song" - Billy Sheehan

Keith Langerman: Tim, we really appreciate you taking the time out to talk with us, especially since it's your birthday...

Tim Bogert : Not a problem, it's a quiet day here at the farm. (Laughs) I just do the excitement professionally now. Otherwise, virtually, I live a very quiet life. Carmine vicariously lives the madness for me. He's something, he's the energizer drummer. (Laughs) I've asked him how he has the energy, and he says he doesn't know either. I could've done that kind of stuff until I was in my 50's. Then that's about when I started mellowing out and slowing down, doing all those things that you do when you get older.

KL : On the new 'Cactus V' album, one thing that also impressed me was the fact that there were no concessions made to modern trends. You guys weren't trying to reinvent the wheel with this album...

TB : Well, we're Cactus. To be anything else than that would not BE Cactus. I mean, all of us, as we entered our 30's, what have you... all musicians who had been successful in their 20's, as trends and mindsets changed, fashions changed... we all pandered, and it didn't work .You have to, I suppose, because you're desperate to keep your job. Not knowing that the job simply isn't there anymore. (Laughs)

KL : Most of the time that doesn't work out too well...

TB : No, they usually go to drugs and sleazy women who they give houses to. It's a terrible story. They do movies on it all the time. (Laughs)

KL : What's the main difference for you being in Cactus this time around versus being in the band when you were still together over 30 years ago, in the early 70's?

TB : In the early 70's, I was a young man. I was half crazed, having more fun than anybody should be allowed to at any given time. Now, it is my birthday, I'm 62. I also got hurt really bad last year, so I tend to move even slower. But the hands still work, so I can still play. My mind still works. I still enjoy playing with the band very much, because it's the same rush. It's like making love. It feels as good at 20 as it does at 60. You do it different, but hey, it's okay. (Laughs)

KL : Speaking of that, Tim, I know that was a bad motorcycle accident you had last year. How are you feeling now?

TB : My knee's giving me a hard time today. Something usually gives me a hard time every day, but a couple of Excedrins, and either a nap or some fortitude will get me through the day one way or the other. They say another year or so. I'm working at it. I've got all the physical therapy machines at home, and I work at it every other day when I can.

KL : What was it like for you to be back onstage with Carmine and Jim McCarty for the first time at the first Cactus reunion show at B.B. King's in June?

TB : Oh God, it was fun. It truly was fun. We were all just hoping we didn't make any horrendous mistakes, because we only had a few days to rehearse and put it all together. That was my only real thought, "Geez God, don't let me screw up." (Laughs) Other than that, I had a wonderful time. It was a great gig. We sold the place out, I was thrilled, it was very good.

KL : You and Carmine together form one of the heaviest and finest rhythm sections ever in the history of rock. What is it about the combination of the two of you that allows you to interlock like you do? How does working with Carmine compare to any other drummer you've played with such as Billy Cobham and Ginger Baker?

RB : I am almost Carmine's complete opposite. So in that respect, we sort of whirl around each other. Carmine's of a mindset rather like a bulldog. As long as I can hold that leash and not fall down, we do really well. (Laughs)

KL : So it's sort of a Yin and Yang type of thing...

TB : Very much so, and it really does work. Almost everything about us is opposite, it seems to make a really nice combination. When we started, we got good at what we did very quickly, and we've spent the last 40 years polishing it. Some nights it really shines well if it's lit well.

KL : You and Carmine, along with Rusty Day and Jim McCarty, formed Cactus in early '70, shortly thereafter making your live debut in front of 40,000 people at Temple Stadium in Philadelphia. The band opened up on a bill that featured The Steve Miller Band, The Grateful Dead, and headlining, Jimi Hendrix. What do you recall about that first gig, and how do you feel the band went down that first time?

TB : The adrenaline was pumping so hard that when we did "Parchman Farm," my right hand cramped up. So I was literally pounding quarter notes with the back of my hand. (Laughs) I've heard that tape. Randy Pratt in Long Island has a copy of it. All I could listen to was about 24 bars of it before I went, "Oh dear, turn that off." (Laughs) It was just so energetic. Groove? There wasn't a groove, there was a rocket going off. Which, when we finally mellowed that down, we became quite a hellacious band. 

We had more energy that day than we knew yet how to control. Because Led Zeppelin was our opening act during their first two tours with The Fudge, I watched the same thing happen with them. They had so much energy they couldn't control on the first tour. On the second tour, they came back and were scary. So it was that same premise. I'm very grateful to have had that kind of energy, but we tripped all over ourselves that day.

KL : Back then, the band regularly played in front of large crowds, doing a lot of the big festivals, including the band's U.K. debut at the '70 Isle Of Wight Festival, which depending on what account you read, was in front of 400,000, 500,000 or even up to a million people during that weekend. What do you remember about that show?

TB : That was a big crowd. It rained like holy hell the evening we played along with Jimi Hendrix. I remember being on stage with the rain driving at my feet, being very concerned about 240 volts. They didn't have the grounding they have these days, it was primitive by comparison. I've been shot across a room more than once. I run wireless now, you can't get hit. (Laughs) We didn't have that back then either.

KL : That was somewhat of a strange festival, with the fans tearing down the fences and making it a free festival...

TB : They seemed to do a lot of that in Europe at the time. As a matter of fact, they're still doing it at football games, aren't they? Say no more. (Laughs)

KL: They've released several of the band performances from the festival such as The Who, Hendrix, Jethro Tull, etc., either on CD, DVD or both. Is there any chance of the Cactus set being released?

TB : I don't know who actually owns the rights to that. I know that Rhino bought all of the Atlantic stuff, which is why so much of it has been released. They're actually going to be releasing some more, from the Mar Y Sol Festival, and at Gilligan's, where we actually had a rhythm guitar player with us. I don't know if they own that. I know Randy Pratt has bought a video of it. It was a 5 or 7 camera shoot that night, and all the bands were filmed. He's bought the raw footage of it. What he's going to do with it, I don't know. I'd like to see it myself, I haven't seen it since we did it. That'd be fun, it was a great experience. We got to hang with some really nice people, caught a big time buzz, it was just a wonderful day.

KL : How was it for you playing to that many people?

TB : It's very similar to, if I can make an analogy, a big crowd being a very, very powerful car. A small club is a rather not powerful car, say a 1970 Volkswagen type of thing. You put your foot down in the Volkswagen, and it goes fast. But when you get into a Corvette, stomp your foot down, my God it goes. That's what a crowd does to a band. It's kind of like asking any football player who's ever played the Super Bowl what's that like, and they'll say "Larger." Just bigger, everything gets larger, it's really cool. You definitely feel the energy from the crowd. If they start moving with you, and you can motivate them, the circle of energy between you and them is uplifting to a point where you can play things that you can't play. 

It's quite an amazing phenomenon. It's a wonderful thing to have happen. It's like when Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points. It's one of those experiences. You can do no wrong, you cannot miss the basket, let's go for it. It's tremendous. Let's do it tomorrow, shall we? (Laughs)

KL : Speaking of large festivals, in June, with Cactus, you played The Sweden Rock Festival...

TB : Oh, that was fun.

KL : I've heard the sound wasn't that great at times due to technical malfunctions?

TB : Well, the technical malfunction was pretty much the fact that my bass amp kept going on and off throughout the majority of the show. I would be playing in the monitors, then they would go out. McCarty would lose me, then he'd lose his place and go off to step B of the process, while we're in step A. So everybody got a little frustrated because the equipment is making our job that much more difficult. At one point, I guess for the first time in about 30 years, I kicked me an amp off stage. It does come back quickly, doesn't it? (Laughs) I got really frustrated with it. Other than that, though, we had a great time. The band got a chance to stretch its legs a little bit, because when you're in a rehearsal studio you don't know what works and what doesn't work yet. 

With Jimmy Kunes, our new singer, it's really a new band. Musically we know what works, but we don't yet know what works in that aspect. It's like putting a new quarterback on a team. The old plays aren't going to work like they used to, nor should they. We have to figure out what works now under these circumstances. We were still learning. It was a fast learning curve. But it went fairly well. The audience seemed to like it, and that's really why we're there. If we give them a good time, then we've earned our paycheck.

KL : You began the sessions for the first 'Cactus' album in February of 1970, with the album being released in July of that year. That album has since become somewhat of a "lost" heavy rock classic. One that's been an inspiration to a lot of bands subsequently, such as Van Halen, King's X, Billy Sheehan, to name a few. What do you recall about the recording of that album, and how do you feel that the album holds up today?

TB : It was a lot of fun... long hours, it was hard work. We had a lot of ideas that were flowing constantly all the time. We were very high. (Laughs) It was a very nice experience. I think the album holds up darn well, which I'm very pleased about. It still rocks hard, the playing's good and Rusty's performance was always Rusty's performance. If you like it, it's phenomenal.

KL :  I was just listening to it again this morning, and in my opinion it holds up very well. The production, and one thing I wanted to ask you is concerning that -- if you look at it, with the technology of today versus then, and the time that it took for you to put it out, which wasn't long at all -- bands these days spend years on albums, with all the advanced studio technology, and they don't sound as good as the albums recorded in that time period. Why do you think that is?

TB : You can micro-manage something to death. If it takes you a year and a half to do 6 weeks work, there's probably a neurosis going on there that's really self destructive, I would think. You can over analyze it I'm sure, then spend an awful lot of time and money losing the spark that initially made it good. There's a lot to be said for spontaneity.

KL: You look at the Cactus albums, and other albums of that time period, such as Zeppelin's albums -- those were recorded in relatively short periods of time, even days in some cases. You didn't have the technology in the studio that people these days have at home, studio-wise...

TB : Then we had to have heart and a whole lot of talent. Now, you just have to have a whole lot of equipment. That's okay, things change, times change, I think that's part of what makes the time that Cactus was around a golden moment. It's part of what makes it a golden moment. 

It's also if you say it is often enough it becomes one. You know, "Yeah I must be a legend they keep calling me that." (Laughs) That and $2.50 will get me a Starbucks.

KL : Which album or songs would you say are the most representative of the Cactus sound?

TB : "Parchman Farm" from 'Cactus' would be our signature tune. That's kind of the essence of what we did. We would take a feel, and literally just beat it to death as fast as humanly possible. When you're in your mid 20's, you can play pretty gosh darn fast. When you're in your 20's, you can do everything pretty gosh darn fast. 

So we still do "Parchman Farm," but Jimmy's puffing by the end of it. (Laughs) Carmine and I have played that boogie groove our whole life, so it's funny, even as we got older it's still a natural process. McCarty stopped playing that kind of feel 30 years ago, so he's huffing and puffing. (Laughs) It's a lot of fun. He's doing really well, too, playing really well.

KL : Beginning with Vanilla Fudge through Cactus and Beck Bogert & Appice, you developed a very prominent role as a bassist. You were, and still are, an inspiration to countless bass players throughout the years. Basically from taking the bass from a time keeping role and using it as a lead instrument. What inspired you to take the instrument in that direction?

TB : It came from being a lead instrument player. A sax player who began doubling on bass, then stopped playing sax entirely. Then when The Fudge came along with all that sort of symphonic stuff... taking apart Paul McCartney's bass lines in The Beatles, Jack Bruce's bass lines in Cream, James Jamerson's Motown bass lines and putting in King Curtis, who was a heck of a sax player. That's me.

Beck Bogert & Appice
KL : You and Carmine split up Cactus the first time to form Beck, Bogert & Appice, with guitarist Jeff Beck. Looking back on things, do you have any regrets over doing that at the time?

TB : The Cactus band with Rusty and Jim had already broken up and we'd put a second Cactus band together, which was a lot of fun. We really enjoyed it. The regret I have with working with Jeff is that I couldn't, at the time, understand a lot of the difficulty that was going on, and the politics that were being played. Had I known then what I know now, it might've been a whole lot easier. It was a bit difficult. That's why the band only lasted almost 2 years I suppose. 

There was a lot of stuff that went down which became more difficult to deal with than the joy of accomplishing the job properly, which was a real shame because it had great promise. When it worked it was amazing, when it didn't work it was like a bad high school date. Self conscious, knees together, feet crossed over, stumbling, sputtering... oh dear. When it worked, though, it was something to behold.

KL: The BB&A 'Live In Japan' was a good album, in my opinion, but the 'Live at The London Rainbow' was even better I thought...

TB : 'Live In Japan' was medium. The Rainbow performance, that was a little better than medium. I wish we had captured a really good night, I've got some cassette tapes of really good nights. Unfortunately, the audio quality is that of a cassette tape. We did have some brilliant evenings with that band where you get to soar and play things that you didn't know you could. 

I had more experiences like that with Jeff than with probably any other group, because he could take you higher. He could also drop you lower. It was that which eventually broke the band up. He was a young fellow too, and he couldn't control what was going on in his head, so we had a lot of problems.

KL : Carmine has told me that he'd consider working with Jeff again in some sort of Beck, Bogert & Appice reunion. What are your thoughts on that?

TB : In a heartbeat. I understand what's occurring now, it's business, but I would love to do business with the man. I would love to play with the man, I'd love to knock lots of people right off their feet. That would be terrific, it would be wonderful. You really could knock a 50,000 seat stadium to their knees when we were good. It was amazing to watch. There would be times when I'd be on stage, literally watching, almost like an out of body thing. Your hands are just pumping because they know how, you're just kind of lifted up a moment. You're just kind of a spectator watching this whole thing occur. It was amazing, I'd love to do it again. That's what I mean, "Let's do it tomorrow." (Laughs) 

I'd love to do it again... Yeah! Whatever he'd like to do, fine. A show in L.A., one in New York, one in London, yeah let's go. I'm sure the payday would be wonderful, and the experience would be even better. So yeah, let's do that tomorrow!

KL: With Vanilla Fudge and Cactus, you developed a reputation during the late 60's, early 70's for routinely blowing bands that you supported off the stage on a regular basis, including The Who, Hendrix, pretty much any other band you appeared with during that time period. Do you attribute Cactus not achieving the status that you should've at that time due to bands, after awhile, not wanting to take you out on tour with them?

TB : Well there was that. There was also the fact that you either loved Rusty Day's voice or you hated it, there was no in between. It wasn't a radio sound at the time, which is why we didn't get a lot of AM or early FM play with it like The Fudge did. That put us on an opening band status to sell records. We sold a fair amount of records, but we had to tour to do it. Of course... and it's not that we were better than these artists at all, I mean, better than Hendrix? Please. 

But what we would do, we were so energetic that we would come out and waste a crowd. We would just energetically waste them. So when the main act would come on you've got a spent person, and the artist isn't getting the reaction they're used to, because the audience is kind of like, "Wow, I'm tired, man." They've already peaked. So get these people the hell out of here, they're saying. That's kind of what it was. We were all our own worst enemy I suppose. (Laughs) The entertainment BUSINESS is a very tricky roulette game. There's an awful lot of luck, an awful amount of chance, and an awful lot of politics. So there you go. (Laughs)

Cactus Atco Promo Picture, 1970

KL : What is your favorite memory of Rusty Day?

TB : Oh geez, the things he could do with an audience, almost any given audience, any given night. The man was amazing. He was as good of a frontman as Jagger. No fooling. He was quite amazing. He got arrested several times for being that amazing. He'd get the crowd worked up to a fever pitch, the police would get skittish, because Rusty was, "Don't let the pigs keep you down!" type of rhetoric. And they would take it personally... Duh. (Laughs) 

Then they'd cart his 6' 2" butt right off stage, which happened more than once. Rusty was quite an incredible frontman, he really was. And he could lay down one heck of a rhythm harp.

KL : Was there any indication that you saw that things would go down with him like they did?

TB : Back then I wasn't thinking in those terms, but in retrospect, the man lived a hard life. He really did practice what he preached. That's a pretty tough element you're dealing with there. There's always a bigger dog somewhere on the block. You piss that bigger dog off and you have a problem when you're working at that level. And he did. 

Rusty was a real rebel. He wasn't a rebel onstage for 45 minutes, the man lived what he talked, which is probably why he was so convincing. He meant what he was saying.

KL : Cactus had a reputation at that time of being a fairly wild band. also during your tour with The Faces, you had a hand in laying several hotel rooms to waste in the fine rock n roll tradition. What was the wildest time you had on tour?

TB : We partied hard, yeah. The wildest time though? My mind is racing over about 50 experiences, and 40 of them are illegal now. The other 10 are immoral, so I'm not sure at my age I want to go there. (Laughs) Carmine will answer that question in a heartbeat. He revels in that. I'll tell you privately over a beer some night. (Laughs)

KL : After BB&A broke up you went on to play with Carmine on Jan Akkerman's 'Tabernakel,' and Bo Diddley's '20th Anniversary Of Rock & Roll,' then you went on to join the British band Boxer for their 'Absolutely' album, which came out in '77. Boxer was fronted by Mike Patto, who died in '79 from lymphatic cancer...

TB : Yeah, he got sick right in the middle of our first tour. It was really sad because the band showed some real promise. We did the first half of a tour that just smoked. Mike started having problems with his throat, eventually it was throat cancer, and he died from it. He was an excellent vocalist, and a pretty good piano player, too. Chris Stainton and he both played piano on some tracks. Mike played from the elbow, which is a piano style I quite like. You ever see guys where their whole arm's moving up and down? (Laughs) 

Mike was one of those kind of piano players and Chris had the finesse. Together they made a nice noise. They were a bunch of fun people, I really enjoyed that band.

RNRU : Also, in '76 through '78, you formed a band with Steve Perry by the name of Pieces. What was that like, working with Steve?

TB : I love him. He is wonderful. Truly. He's a little neurotic, a little crazy, but so am I. We used that as a tool, we became good friends and we wrote some very nice tunes together. Unfortunately, what we were doing at the time, the business wasn't. So it wasn't bought. Steve went off and auditioned for Journey, and the rest of that is history.

RNRU : Have you and Steve ever discussed doing any further collaboration since?

TB : No, the last time I ran into him, it would've been in the early 90's, I guess. He had already started his solo career, was doing well with that, and was auditioning bass players one day. One of my students who I'd taught for 18 years, when I was on the faculty at the Musician's Institute from '79 to '97, was going down to audition. So I said "Oh take me down there I want to say hi." As it so happens, he didn't get the gig, but it was fun seeing Steve, sitting there chewing the fat and reminiscing. I like him, he's a good guy and one heck of a singer.

RNRU : You also played on Rod Stewart's 'Foolish Behaviour' album that came out in 1980. What tracks did you play on that, and what was it like working with Rod?

TB : I played on 3 or 4 tracks. That's a long time ago. I like Rod he was fun. I know one was "Give Me Wings," I remember doing that one because I liked that tune. There were a few others, but I couldn't tell you exactly right now which ones they are. 

So much stuff after a 40 year career tends to roll around in my head. (Laughs) I'm not sure if I did that over here... no, that was 10 years... hold on, no that was in Albuquerque... I'm sorry, I don't know .(Laughs)

Vanilla Fudge

KL  : What was it like for you appearing with Vanilla Fudge on the 'Ed Sullivan' show in '68?

TB : That was wonderful. It was the adrenaline rush of my life up to that point. At that period in time, the Sullivan show was the top of the pyramid. That was as good as it got, and we got to do it twice. Yeah! My mom and dad had a limousine come to the house, there was a big bouquet of roses, and off they went. They were so proud I could barely stand it. It was a great night, all our folks were there. We were kids, between 20 and 22, 23. So it was like, "Hey mom look at this!" All your friends were going, "Whoa man!". (Laughs)

RNRU : The version you guys did of "You Keep Me Hanging' On" on Sullivan was intense...

TB : Well, we knew that it was going out live. This was completely live, no lip synching, no do-overs, no tape, no anything like that. This was live to 47 million people. Back then that was a lot of folks. That's like The World Cup in the 80's. That was big numbers. So yeah it gets your adrenaline pumping pretty good.

RNRU : Was there a sense to you at the time of the history and significance of being on the show? Before you there was The Beatles and before them there was Elvis...

TB : Oh yeah, I remember watching them on the telly when I was a kid. Heck yeah, I saw Elvis on there when I was a kid. So this show had big time history in my mind, because that's what you did on a Saturday night back in the 50's and early 60's. You'd sit and watch The Ed Sullivan Show with your folks, and then you went to bed because you had to go to school. So to appear on it, oh man. (Laughs) 

That was a sense we'd really made it. If I never did anything again I'd be a happy man. Of course I changed my mind about a year later. (Laughs) At that time it was the most cool thing that had ever happened to me.

RNRU : Speaking of The Fudge, the band first reunited in '84 for the comeback album 'Mystery,'. Looking back, how do you feel that album turned out?

TB : With all the problems it encountered, it came out fairly well. The production was okay, the tunes were okay, the performances were okay. There was just a lot of politics going down again, which probably are still under the surface today with the reformed band. Because the same insanity that made the music what it is also causes great unrest between the 4 of us. 

It's that unrest, channeled, that can become amazing arrangements. When it's let loose, though, it can be the tiger that eats you. It can create wonderful moments, but it can also create tremendous pain and aggravation.

KL :  You see that in a lot of bands though. For instance with The Who, Townshend and Daltrey are constantly at each other's throats, but it's the friction that has made some excellent music...

TB : Well, I don't think I'm ever going to see Mark and Carmine kiss, but they work well together. We're older fellas, and we know that we've been given a golden opportunity. How many 60-year-old men are given the opportunity to go out and rock n roll? You can count them on 1 hand. So thank you Jesus! (Laughs) That's how I look at it, I'm gonna be cool. Like I say, "Let's go do it again tomorrow," because we all know, anyone that's been there, knows how good it feels. Many musicians try to get back to that and it's usually a lost journey. They wind up someplace in a bottle of something.

KL : That's the same reason why a band like The Stones keep on doing it...

TB : Yeah, once you hit that level, and God bless them, too. If they ever stopped they'd probably all drop dead, wouldn't they?

RNRU : It's an addiction...

TB : Exactly. You'd shrivel up and die if you didn't have that to fall back on. That's become habit, it's a lifetime habit. There isn't anything quite like being on stage. An awful lot of people want to try, because it is so wonderful if you do hit the top of the pyramid. You just have to remember that the top of the pyramid's a very small space, and there's 8 million people trying to knock you off. Eventually, somebody's going to.

RNRU : The life expectancy of even most top bands is around 5 years. Anything more than that is the exception, not generally the rule...

TB : That's why most record contracts are 5 to 7 years. They doubt very sincerely they're going to last longer than that. And, for the most part, they're right.

RNRU : You've worked with and jammed with some pretty incredible guitarists throughout your career -- Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Rick Derringer, Michael Schenker, Leslie West, Jake E. Lee, Jim McCarty, and Jimmy Page when Zeppelin were opening for The Fudge. Which guitarist that you've worked with, or seen, have you been most impressed by?

TB : Subsequently, it would be Clapton. But in its own time frame it would've been Hendrix. Eric has gone on to do so many wonderful things, and I really like the blues, so I'm right there. 

Jimi, had he not died, I'm sure would've also done wonderful things. I suppose, at the time, playing with Jimi would've been the biggest thrill. When he was on it was scary. I like tricks, as you can tell by my style. Jimi was as tricky as it comes. I was most impressed by that. I learned a lot from him because The Fudge opened for him and Cactus opened for him as well. Eric Barrett was his roadie, and he would literally let me sit behind Jimi's amp with my back up against the cabinet. My head stuck around the speaker right next to Mitch Mitchell. I'd just sit there copping stuff. "Oh how do you do that? That works good...yeah let's see if that works on bass." 

I didn't include Jimi before in a lot of the names of who I am, but he would also be a big influence in what I do because I saw the power of tricks on an audience, and it taught me how to use that power standing behind him for those 3 years. It was like going to school, it was cool. The sort of tricks that he did, and the timing of those tricks made an audience go, "Whoa!" So I tried to learn that on a bass, and on a good night I can. It's the pacing. That's what Beck was brilliant at, his timing. Because we all play the same notes. There's only 12 of them. It's how you put them together, how you space them. 

It's like making love. If you pound somebody you go numb. Or you can be all slow, not into it, languid. But if you go fast, then slow, then medium, then really fast, then slow and gentle... that's the kind of things that Hendrix and Beck did. Brilliant stuff.

RNRU : With The Fudge, you're recording a new album of Led Zeppelin covers. How do you feel that's turning out?

TB : It's done. I like about 4 or 5 of the tunes out of the 12 or 13, which for me is par for the course. My friends like it, the ones I've played it for. So as long as our audience likes it I'm a happy guy.

RNRU : You're also appearing on the upcoming Beatles tribute album, "Butchering The Beatles" due out in October, which also features performances by Alice Cooper, Steve Vai, Billy Gibbons and Lemmy to name several. The track you're on is a version of "Hey Jude," which has ex Judas Priest vocalist "Ripper" Owens on vocals, Dokken's George Lynch on guitar and ex-AC/DC drummer Chris Slade on drums. How do you feel that track came out?

TB : That rips, doesn't it? I'm pleased as punch. Again, thank you for including me, guys. (Laughs) That's how I feel every time I get to work, "Thanks for including me." I'm just so grateful I can barely stand it, because there's times in one's career when you can't get arrested. Then there's other times where you can do no wrong. It's the darndest thing, isn't it? So thanks for the opportunity. I can still play, and thanks for letting me show people that... I still can play. (Laughs)

RNRU : Speaking of tribute albums, you've done a considerable amount of work on various tribute albums throughout recent years, including tributes to Aerosmith, Van Halen, Cream. What attracts you to tribute albums?

TB : A phone call. (Laughs) Or an email. "Tim, would you be interested in doing so and so for X amount of dollars?" I will email them RIGHT back, "Yes I am interested".

RNRU : You mentioned earlier about being a member of the faculty and teaching at The Musician's Institute in Hollywood. You've released 5 instructional videos as well. What advice would you have for a musician just starting out in the industry?

TB : Learn to play well, learn to read music. Perseverance is the key to it all. There's going to be a lot of rejection, it's not like a real job. I joke quite often about musicians being so crazy, doing such whacky things, aberrant behavior and the like. I say, "Geez guys, if we were NORMAL, we'd have a proper job". And that's all I have to say about that. (Laughs)

For more info on Tim Bogert go to http://www.timbogert.com/


Thursday, January 7, 2021

Funk Rock Fusion Band Chris + Company Release Debut Album 'The Valley' Via 13 Music LTD Label

Albuquerque New Mexico: New Mexico's hottest Funk Rock Fusion Band Chris + Company, led by multi- talented guitarist/singer/songwriter Christopher Rodriguez (aka Chris Chris), have recently dropped their debut album THE VALLEY on the 13 Music Ltd label on January 5th. 2021. 

The band - which consists of guitar/vocalist Chris Chris, bassist Joe Coriz, drummer Jeff Jacobs and guitarist Ryan Barnet - have crafted a collection of original songs which draw from a pool of Rock, Latin, Funk, Blues and Jazz, resulting in a powerful mix of tracks which is sure to please fans of any of the aforementioned genres.

Two years in the making, the self-produced album was recorded in the Albuquerque area at the studio, 400. The project relies on the support of some of New Mexico's finest musicians.  

Background vocalists: Joni Anderson, Lisa LaMastra, Megan Spencer, January Adams Hines, and Aliya Garcia

Keyboardists: Tony Orant, Wesley Patton Jr, and Louis Gallardo

Percussion: Joey Trujillo

The Valley is a flawless combination of original storytelling, rockin’ danceable tunes, Latin rhythms (“No es fácil”, “Mentirosa”), and harmonic textures that the vibrant Albuquerque music scene enjoys in the clubs. 

"This album features music straight from our hearts. We're also very much looking to a post COVID world and returning to the business of rockin’ the clubs with all of you. Hang tight!" – Chris Chris

In November of 2019, Chris + Company headlined the first 13 Music LTD Artist Showcase with other 13 Music Ltd affiliated artists such as Bone Orchard and Sweet Nothin’.

THE VALLEY is now available via online stores everywhere January 5, 2021


Apple Music





To learn more about this project and its release, please contact:

Chris Rodriguez

email: mgmt@chrisandcompany.band

Voicemail: (505) 333-8247

Social media: http://www.chrisandcompany.band/links

For more info on 13 Music LTD go to



Jason Kane & The Jive