This weekend in SF Bay Area, we’re celebrating the life of Steve Mackay!
On Thursday, Feb 24th at KFJC Radio (home of the infamous Maximum LOUIE LOUIE marathon) there was a big 4 hour radio show celebrating the legacy of Steve with lots of music and interviews. We got a chance to hear some rare recordings of Steve with Commander Cody, Snakefinger, Z’ev, Smegma, Blue “Gene” Tyrrany, Andre Williams, Sonny Vincent, Violent Femmes, and of course, Iggy & the Stooges. For the next few weeks or so, you can hear the entire show by visiting http://kfjc.org/broadcast_archives/ and downloading each of the four hours.
Today, Saturday the 27th, there’s two different shows happening at Winters Tavern in Pacifica, which is about a mile or so from Steve’s old apartment.
The first show begins in a few minutes, and ends at 6:30 pm. It’s FREE to the public, but donations for Steve’s family are highly encouraged. The bands scheduled to perform include: Girls with Guns (featuring the lovely La-Ni, daughter of Snakefinger, on vocals) Joshua Brody and Roger Rocha with the TTB
The Twisting Twisters with Andy Pollack
Kimberlye Gold with Mike McKevitt and Lizie Skow
Mitch Woods, with Chris Cobb and the Third Thursday Horns
The second show at Winters, which is sold out, begins at 8 pm, includes performances by: mike watt & The Missingmen
The Hampton Wicks
The Third Thursday Band
DJ Sid Presley
Lady Monster reads the poetry of Steve Mackay
Special guest appearance by Jello Biafra
Tomorrow, Sunday the 28th, there will be yet another show for Steve, which will take place at Hemlock Tavern in San Francisco, from 5pm to 10pm. This show will include performances by: Glitter Wizard
The Third Thursday Band
So.. if you’re in the SF Bay Area, please join us there, as we celebrate the life of our friend!
The two sing, swing and engage in vocal repartee, with Jordan at one point doing an imitation of Armstrong’s scatting on Life Is So Peculiar, which was written by Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen. On You Rascal You (written by Sam Theard), Armstrong and Jordan have a knee-slapping time exchanging lyrics. Armstrong blows beautiful harmony lines behind a singing Jordan while Jordan blows cool lines when it’s Armstrong’s turn to “talk about it for a while.” The joy is relentless and infectious.
“Carlos Alomar said, ‘Oh, I know that old thing [Footstompin’].’ And he said, ‘Listen, I’ve got this great riff that we could use for it.’ It was something that he’d written for James Brown, though Brown never used it…
[In 1975] Lennon said, ‘You know, let’s do something.’ I said, ‘Yeah, what can we do?’ And I said, ‘Carlos, that riff you’ve got!’
We used it for Fame but it came from our version of Footstompin’. Fame was built around a recycled riff.”
In the mid ’70s, James Brown found himself at a crossroads. Musical tastes were changing and he wanted to stay relevant. So he took some inspiration, and arguably a little more, from the hottest musician on Earth at the time: David Bowie.
In late 1974, David Bowie made an appearance on the extremely popular Dick Cavett Show. James Brown was watching and was struck by two things. First, he saw a familiar face, that of guitarist Carlos Alomar, who quit James Brown’s band five years before. Second, he heard an amazingly funky riff that Alomar was playing. “
Here’s the clip of David Bowie performing “Footstompin'” with guitarist Carlos Alomar on the David Cavett Show.
Around the same time that “Fame” was being assembled, James Brown was also in the studio, recording a song called “Hot (I Need To Be Loved),” which recycled Alomar’s riff, note for note, but with James Brown listed as the sole songwriter.
As my friend David J. Coyle pointed out, the name of the Flaresshould be a familiar name to LOUIE enthusiasts.
I didn’t even think of connecting the Flares with the Flairs….
The Flairs was the musical group that provided Richard Berry (author of LOUIE LOUIE) with his first opportunity to be signed to a record label. Originally, the band was called the Debonairs, featuring some talented teenagers from Jefferson High School in Los Angeles. As the band developed, it eventually merged with some members of a band called the Flamingos(not to be confused to with a band of the same name from Chicago). In December 1952, the band recorded some audition tracks with a local record label/ record store known as Dolpin’s of Hollywood. As there didn’t seem to be much interest in the band, they chose to look for another record label.
The band found a receptive ear with Modern Records, a label run by the Bihari brothers that had already released some successful records by B.B. King, John Lee Hooker, Lighting Hopkins, and Big Joe Turner, to name a few few.
Modern decided that the Debonairs would come under the wing of Joe Bihari (the youngest of the brothers) and be placed on the (mostly Country & Western) Flair label. While the “Debonairs” wasn’t a bad name, Bihari suggested that they rename themselves the “Flairs.” The group thought it over and quickly realized that if they were named after the label, the Biharis would have a greater stake in pushing their records.
Within a few years after the band first recorded as the Flairs for the Flair label, Richard Berry left the band to form a brand new band known as Richard Berry & the Dreamers (which later evolved into the Blossoms – another interesting story). The Flairs continued with a variety of different personnel changes, changing record labels, and eventually evolving into a band known as the Flares with no members of the original band.
Despite rumors elsewhere on the interwebs, I have not found any evidence that Carlos Alomar was ever a member of the Flares, which actually split up in 1964. Carlos simply covered this Flares song when he was part of the Bowie band, and added a little extra pizazz to the mix…
During an eight-month period in 1968–69, Carlos Alomar toured with James Brown’s live band, eventually quitting after being docked wages for missing a musical cue.
Approximately five years later, Carlos Alomar joined David Bowie’s band during second portion of the Diamond Dogs tour in September–December 1974, and he came up with this particular riff for a performance of “Footstomping” during the tour. Bowie thought was “a waste” to only use this riff for a cover song, and thought it would be best to come up with a brand new song… which became “Fame.”
The Plain or Pan website shared some additional information and insight on the two songs inspired by the Carlos Alomar guitar riff:
Both tracks, it turns out, were recorded sometime in 1975 at Electric Lady Studios in New York, Bowie’s in January and Brown’s later on in the year. Carlos Alomar, having played with many of the band still backing James Brown at this time was, by all accounts, absolutely livid by the steal. Bowie was a bit cooler, agreeing to sue if the track became a hit, which it never did. It’s interesting to note that in the fully comprehensive booklet that accompanies the James Brown Star Time Box set, where recording personnel are meticulously listed, under Hot (I Need To Be Loved, Loved, Loved) it just says ‘backing by unknown personnel’, which, for me, is just about as good an admittance you’ll get that James Brown took the original Bowie track, dubbed out his voice and sang his own melody across the top. Just my theory, at any rate.
The bottom line: Carlos Alomar created some great music with David Bowie, John Lennon and James Brown – three brilliant musicians that will never be forgotten!
1983 was a very important year for David Bowie. This was the year that David Bowie achieved his biggest commercial success with the release of his “Let’s Dance” LP, which went platinum in both the UK and the USA. He supported that album with his Serious Moonlight Tour, which was massively successful.
1983 was also the year that LOUIE LOUIE broke out in a very big way with the legendary KFJC marathon that received a lot of national and international attention. This was the event that dared to play every known version of the song, which lasted for 3 and half days with over 800 versions. It was the event that marked the very first meeting of Richard Berry, songwriter of the song, with Jack Ely, original vocalist of the Kingsmen, who recorded the most popular version of the song.
When Jack Ely showed up, flying in from Oregon to California for this event, he was wearing a David Bowie t-shirt.
David Bowie’s influence was also felt in the newly released “Best of LOUIE LOUIE” album from Rhino Records, which was unveiled that very same weekend in August 1983.
On this album, there was a version of the song by a mysterious band known as “Les Dantz and his Orchestra” which sounded an awful lot like David Bowie…
It was an indeed a spoof designed to capitalize on the success of David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” hit album. “Les Dantz and his Orchestra” was actually the creation of members of Big Daddy, a satirical rock band. I was fortunate to get an interview last year with two of the key members of Big Daddy – Bob Wayne and Tom Wayne, who confessed to their inspired mockery!
In that very same year, I attended the second US Festival, where I witnessed my second David Bowie concert.
I wasn’t close enough to take decent photos of the man himself, but I did wind up taking photos of the big screen video projection of Bowie in concert. When I showed them to my friend Mike, publisher of BravEar magazine, he said “I want to use one of these in my next issue” and I said “Sure…. be my guest!”
…. and so my photo of David Bowie via a video screen was published ….
– Eric Predoehl, mastermind of LouieLouie.net and long-awaited documentary
Once upon a time in 1964, a 17 year old teenager named David Robert Jones began his musical recording career with a band called Davie Jones with the King Bees. Their initial record was a 45rpm single that featured “Li’l Liza Jane”, an old standard on the A-Side.
For the B-Side, the band covered “Louie Go Home,” a song written and recorded by Paul Revere & the Raiders as an answer song to “LOUIE LOUIE.” For this release, they renamed this song “Louie, Louie Go Home.”
As the story goes, David had to find another stage name when the Monkees (featuring the other guy named Davy Jones) emerged in 1966. He chose the name of Bowie, inspired by 19th-century American frontiersman Jim Bowie and his namesake knife.
Thus “David Bowie” was born!
Today, the world mourns the loss of David Bowie / David Robert Jones, who died of cancer, two days after his 69th birthday.
He was an incredibly talented musician – a chameleon who refined the art of changing one’s persona with each musical release. He defied labels – playing in the truest sense with the facets of music, fashion and sexuality.
Today, I’m seeing a lot wonderful tributes, essays and commentaries about this extraordinary being. Suzanne Moore of the Guardian wrote a wonderful essay on what David Bowie meant to her:
My David Bowie is not dead. Nor ever can be. What he gave to me is forever mine because he formed me. I have absolute clarity about that, I need no lamentations from politicians or TV presenters with their dim memories of his “hits”. I need no ranking of whether he was up there with Dylan or Lennon because I just know that is a dumb question. I simply know. He was my lodestar: in the years when I was trying to become myself, he showed me the endless possibilities. He extended out into the new spaces, metaphorically and physically. That man could move.
David was the most amazing singer I’ve worked with; 95 percent of the vocals on the four albums I did with him as producer, they were first takes. I’d get a level at the beginning and we’d just go from beginning to end and that was it. No Auto-Tune, no punching in, nothing. Just complete takes.
David Bowie also had a wonderful sense of humor. Here’s a clip of David when he appeared on the Conan O’Brien show:
I never met the man, but I witnessed at least three of his concerts. When I attended the US Festival in 1983, I was working with KFJC Radio (home of the Maximum LOUIE LOUIE event of the same year), which allowed me media access to mingle with a lot of interesting people backstage. One of the people I ran into at this event was author Ray Bradbury. I asked how he wound up at this event. Ray told me that David Bowie and Steve Wozniak (Apple founder/ sponsor of US Festival) were big fans of his science fiction writings, and they made sure Ray was a honored guest at this very special festival.
David Bowie also did a righteous thing by acknowledging my friend Norm Odam, aka the Legendary Stardust Cowboy (“Ledge”) as an inspiration for his Ziggy Stardust persona, inviting the Ledge to be a performer at his Meltdown Festival, and also recording a song written by the Ledge!
He always did what he wanted to do. And he wanted to do it his way and he wanted to do it the best way.
His death was no different from his life – a work of Art.
He made Blackstar for us, his parting gift.
I knew for a year this was the way it would be. I wasn’t, however, prepared for it.
He was an extraordinary man, full of love and life. He will always be with us.
For now, it is appropriate to cry.
Last year, we lost quite a few people in the LOUIE universe. Click on their names to read more about them.
Jack Ely, the original lead singer of the Kingsmen, was one of the two people that inspired this documentary project. I met Jack at the same event where he first met Richard Berry, the composer of this legendary song, and their stories inspired this project. It saddens me deeply that my friend will not be able to see the completed documentary.
Lady Bo was also a big part of the event where Jack Ely met Richard Berry. Her band backed up these two major players in the LOUIE universe as they played together for their first and only appearance together. Lady Bo had an extensive musical career working with Bo Diddley and a variety of other musicians.
Lemmy, of course, was the iconic leader of Motörhead that died a few days ago.
Kim Fowley, the legendary musician/producer/writer with an abundance of credits to his name, co-produced Richard Berry’s music during the years between Richard’s initial recording of THE SONG in 1957 and the Kingsmen’s recording of THE SONG in 1963.
Wally Todd, a member of Jack Ely & the Courtmen (formerly known as “Jack Ely & the Kingsmen”), left this world a few days after Jack’s passing. I’m so very grateful I was able to witness their historic reunion at Seaside, Oregon.
Steve Mackay was a saxophone player that performed with the Stooges, whose “Fun House” album was produced by Don Gallucci, original keyboardist with the Kingsmen. His collaboration with Iggy Pop continued after the break-up of the Stooges, as well as the reunion shows with the surviving Stooges.
Gary Abbott was a drummer that joined the Kingsmen for a brief period after their newfound success with LOUIE LOUIE.
Dennis Eichhorn was a gifted writer from Idaho that transformed his life stories into highly entertaining underground comic books. Denis shared memories about working at nightclubs in the Pacific Northwest and getting his hair cut by Paul Revere before the Raiders became the band became they became famous.
Gail Zappa was the keeper of the Frank Zappa legacy – the matriarch of the family and overseer of all Zappa enterprises.
Allen Toussaint was a genuine musical legend from LOUISiana that wrote a ton of unforgettable songs and shared some appreciation for Richard Berry’s special song!
P.F. Sloan was another gifted singer-songwriter that composed some songs that also became big hit records. The LOUIE team was privileged to work with him in 2014, and we discovered that he co-wrote an opera about Ludwig Beethoven entitled “LOUIS! LOUIS!”
Leonard Nimoy was a gifted actor, musician and film director whose works provided great inspiration to the LOUIE team. Using the “Five Degrees of LOUIE” principle, we found some interesting connections.
Eric Caidin is someone whose death was not mentioned on these pages, but he was a kindred spirit that appreciated this project, and provided great words of support over the years. He operated the Hollywood Book & Poster Company, a wonderful store for movie enthusiasts and was a regular exhibitor at various comic conventions in the SF Bay Area.
Joe Houston was one of the great saxophone players that was playing some wild rhythm and blues music before it was ever called “rock music.” I don’t recall him ever playing LOUIE LOUIE, but he was a great musician whose legacy should be acknowledged.
John Harada was an early member of A Western Front, a local band that ye webmaster enjoyed quite immensely back in the 1980s.
Deanna Predoehl was the beloved niece of the producer of this LouieLouie.net webpage. She left us way too early at the age of 20 years old, and not a day goes by without thinking about her.
This blog posting is blog post #7500 of this particular webpage that began in 1996, and was converted to a blog in 2005.
Time is a funny animal that I am still trying to tame….
– Eric Predoehl, producer of the LouieLouie.net experience and upcoming documentary…
With the passing of Lemmy Kilmister this week, so many of us are feeling a deep sense of loss… perhaps more than we expected.
Lemmy Kilmister was a certainly a larger-than-life character in the rock ‘n’ roll universe, and when I started work on the LOUIE documentary, Lemmy was one of the guys I definitely wanted to interview. Motörhead‘s approach to the song was a powerful interpretation that became a personal favorite version for many people I’ve met over the years. I always thought of Lemmy as the quintessential missing link between punk rock and heavy metal.
The interview itself ran smoothly – easy to arrange, which turned to be a very simple setup with just me and Lemmy backstage at the Haze Theater in San Francisco, without any other handlers or assistants hanging around. Lemmy answered all the questions concisely with a no-B.S. approach.
During the interview, Lemmy talked about working as a roadie for Jimi Hendrix, hearing him perform LOUIE LOUIE at various times during sound checks, but never during any actual concerts for the general public*. Lemmy also discussed Motörhead’s version of LOUIE LOUIE (which he considered THE best version) and recording the song as their first single on Bronze Records, which peaked at the number 68 spot on the UK Singles Chart, followed by an appearance on BBC’s Top of the Pops, which became their first TV performance.
Here’s a little photo I took of Lemmy with some friends* backstage after the interview…
*(UPDATE: Sophie wrote “The one to the right is actually Phil Campbell (Motorhead Guitarist) in a wig. I didnt recognize him at first either.”)
It didn’t mean anything to me when this interview was conducted, but this interview took place on April 11th of 1994 – Richard Berry‘s birthday, and the day that an alliance of dedicated LOUIE enthusiasts (that’s “Llamas” to you) chose to declare as “International LOUIE LOUIE Day” quite a few years later.
Anyways, with the death of Lemmy, I was pleasantly surprised to find a wealth of appreciation for the man.
I certainly NEVER expected my hometown paper to mention his death on the top of the front page.
I found some other wonderful tributes to the man that I thought I’d share, recycled from Facebook postings..