Interview Date: August 23, 2012 @1pm EDT
Special Guest: Wanda Jackson - has been called "The Queen of Rockabilly" and is by all accounts a Rock'n'Roll legend - she has a distinct style in both Rockabilly and Country (often bouncing between both styles on the same record). Credited as being the first women to record a Rock'n'Roll single; Wanda Jackson is a crucial figure in the Rock genre and the feminist movement. In this podcast we talk about her first radio show, playing Bob Neals 8th Anniversary Jamboree on August 5, 1955 in Overton Park Shell, Memphis, Tennessee, and the day Elvis and her talked about switching her style to Rockabilly to fit the new demographics coming of age (teenage kids with enough money to buy their own music).
Wanda Jackson has some "Unfinished Business" she needs to get off her chest; her new album is out October 9 and is produced by Justin Towns Earle (Steve Earle's Son) on Suger Hill Records. Check out more at: http://www.wandajackson.com/
The Royalty of Rockabilly
Bill Haley, of course. Out of Detroit, and spearheaded the popularity of rock with Shake, Rattle and Roll, and Rock Around the Clock. He didn't look the part, but he had a wild history. More rock than rock. If you're not familiar with him, you should do that, and quickly, if you like music. He didn't just come out of nowhere, he had a successful thing with western swing.
Elvis Presley. Sam Phillips of Sun Records struck gold releasing "That's Alright Mama". Elvis fit the mold of what Phillips was looking for in a white boy who could sing black. They changed everything again in music. Too good looking and talented to stay working as a truck driver, plus it's hard to shake your hips driving a truck.
Little Richard. Unbelievable energy, and the inspiration for several legends after him Including Bob Dylan, James Brown, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, and Michael Jackson. "Tutti Frutti" started it all off, and wasn't even intended to be recorded during the session. He did what he wanted and quit rock and roll to pursue his calling into the priesthood. He came back into music to sing gospel, for a while . . .
Chuck Berry. Influenced by T-Bone Walker, Berry played blues and some ballads, but his country playing got him labeled as the black hillbilly. His hybrid style launched him to one of the top acts of 1956.
Buddy Holly. Also the progenitor of the rock band standard with two guitars, bass, and drums. A real rock and roll rebel, who's career and life was cut short in the plane crash memorialized as the day the music died.
Fats Domino. Ambassador of New Orleans music in the 1950's, and great inspiration to John McNally of The Searchers. Do you get it yet? These are the great influences in music overlooked by time's passing. He admitted the lyrics weren't too deep, but he landed 40 songs on Billboard's top 10 rhythm and blues between 1950 and 1961.
Jerry Lee Lewis. The Killer. The bad boy. He put everything he had into his performances. He became known nationwide in 1957 with "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" then had successive hits with "Great Balls of Fire" and "Breathless."
Roy Orbison. With such talent and such a dynamic voice, he could do nearly anything and any style. Almost to his detriment; it took a time and a few different labels for Orbison to find his place and start churning out the hits. But once he did, he was off. And off again in the 1980's with his resurgence.
Ernie Isley of the Isley Brothers Interview – Fighting the Power with Ernie Isley (Part 3 of 3) [Listen 23:10 min] S02 Ep15
Interview Date: August 13, 2012 @10 am EDT
Special Guest: Ernie Isley (of the Isley Brothers) - is a key member in one of the most famous soul/funk/R&R bands of all time. Ernie Isley was a crucial component in the band at a historic and transitional time in music; they changed the sound of the band's early music with songs like “This Old Heart of Mine” and “Shout” and advanced into their later funk driven sound with songs like "Fight the Power Pts. 1 & 2," "Harvest for the World," "Voyage to Atlantis," and “That Lady.” Ernie Isley helped make the Isley brothers one of the few groups that have charted in five consecutive decades. In this podcast we talk about the Isley Brothers' famous and loved albums, 3 + 3, Stevie Wonder’s album "Innervisions" and it’s connection with 3 + 3, “The Heat Is On,” “Fight the Power,” and Ernie’s amazing guitar playing. He tells us about his new album that he is working on, parting thoughts on Jimi Hendrix, the song Shout and we get to the heart of what makes the Isley Brothers one of the most important bands in music history.
Questions No One Thought to Ask Ernie Isley
What all the praise and everything else that depicts Jimi Hendrix as a rock god fail to show, is what a hard time Jimi had of making it. Then, and even into the days of The Jimi Hendrix Experience, people thought he was too weird, or too flamboyant to handle. And while he was undeniably good, he often got criticism that he played too loud, or was put down for the way he dressed, or didn't play the right style. Though, a lot of this criticism came from people who were jealous and didn't want to be outshined on stage. It led to difficulties working with his idols. Besides Little Richard's refusal to share the spotlight, he was a taskmaster and Jimi found it to be too confining working with Little Richard.
Times were often pretty bad in the early days. When Jimi went to audition for the Isleys, they had to buy him a couple strings for his guitar. He was fortunate to have a guitar; in those days, he barely had any money and his guitars were always in and out of the pawn shops.
It was the Isley Brothers that gave him a stable platform, although, sometimes even amongst those groups they travelled with he was a hard sell. At one point, while on the road for an Isley Brothers tour, the alto sax player was driving and couldn't take Jimi fantasizing and going on about dragon shaped guitars that spewed fire, the sax player said that the cat was freaking him out, pulled over, and had Jimi take over the wheel. It probably wasn't the wisest move, because although it stopped Jimi from talking, Jimi needed glasses but refused to wear them. Twenty minutes later, they hit a deer that ended up coming through the windshield. No one was hurt (besides the deer, of course) but someone with better eyesight might have avoided the collision. (Perhaps you squares should just build a little more tolerance for the freaks, or maybe just don't hand them the keys.)
Etta James knew them in Harlem when Jimi was touring with the Isley Brothers; she loved the Isley Brothers, but talked disparagingly of Jimi. She said he looked like a roadie playing the R&B circuit.
He heard criticism all the time, which, no doubt led him to head to England. But not everything was on the blame of others, he had little regard for holding to a contract, and didn't always show up for gigs. The Isley Brothers went to bat for Jimi on more than one occasion and opened more doors for him, and perhaps gave him his most stable surroundings in that era when they took him in to their home. They bought Jimi the Fender Duo-Sonic to tour with which they later let him keep when they parted.
It was only around this time when Ernie was getting into music, and a little later, the Isley Brothers took the younger ones into the mix. But these times when Jimi spent at the Isley household were truly monumental and had a tremendous impact. Growing up in the Isley household with Hendrix in the mix, something had to have rubbed off. He was paying attention, and the speed which Ernie took to music, and was in on the hit recordings is truly astonishing, even taking into consideration the musically talented environment he was raised.
Ask Ernie Isley, he's got some stories to tell, and the way he puts it, you needed to be beside him, sitting silently, hearing him play unamplified to really get it.