HAMP – Louie of the Week (aka Drake B.’s Holy Grail, Part II)

(This week, I’m going to let my friend Drake Bradley make a special induction for this week’s LOUIE of the Week. – E.P.)

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The Holy Grail, Part II

HAMP Comes Alive!
In my previous guest blog, “The Holy Grail” (see here), I described the quest by collectors to discover new variants of Louie Louie. I concluded “the ultimate rush comes from discovering a previously unknown version, say from a discarded cassette tape with a homemade recording of Louie Louie by some garage band that rehearsed a couple of times and broke up.”

But I was wrong. The ultimate rush comes from inducing a musician to create and record a version of Louie Louie just for this site and the people visiting it. Hence, Part II in the search for the Holy Grail.

Here’s the story. Late in 2007 I was surfing the net for samples of boogie-woogie rock ‘n’ roll piano and stumbled on the Swiss musician H.P. Ruosch, better known as HAMP. Now HAMP can play piano. I mean, he can really play. Visit his website (here) or Myspace page (here) and listen to audio and video samples of his virtuosity. He plays in the Jerry Lee Lewis tradition, complete with smoking piano and two hands and a foot pounding the keyboard. To quote HAMP:

When I was ten years old I got my first Elvis Record and the Rock’n’Roll-Virus got me ever since. I started playing the piano in the style of Jerry Lee Lewis. In 1988 I made 2nd place as an impersonator of the “Killer”. It was a Swiss-wide impersonator-contest organised by “Blick” newspaper. In 1992 I had the chance to play for Jerry Lee Lewis because he was sick. I spoke to the event manager and he let me play 3 songs with the Killer’s band.

Twenty years later he is still cranking out piano-pounding rock ‘n’ roll with 6 CD’s to his credit, plus one on the way. His performances feature wild renditions of classic rock songs: Roll Over Beethoven, High Heel Sneakers, Great Balls of Fire, Little Queenie, Route 66, Wild One, Whole Lot of Shakin’, C. C. Rider, and many others. (Remember the Chuck Berry guitar intro to Roll Over Beethoven? HAMP nails it cold on the piano.) He recently performed in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

HAMP is also a great guy. My first email to him was on Oct. 11, 2007. He got back to me the very next day. Of course this was a mistake on his part, as I shamelessly wrote back the following:

Hamp, would you ever consider doing a piano version of the rock and roll anthem, Louie Louie? As far as I know, this has never been done. There are electric guitar, acoustic guitar, ukulele, accordion, kazoo, marching band, electric piano, and organ versions. But no straight piano. … You could set up a microphone on the piano … bang out your version, and send me the mp3. I’ll post it for the group along with the link to your web page.

My powers of persuasion were apparently wanting, as he politely declined to comment on my request in his subsequent email. But over the next year and a half from time to time I would bring the matter up again, and I eventually just wore him down. What you hear HERE is the result: an impromptu, playful version of the song; a jam rehearsal of Louie Louie. I was impressed enough to convince E.P. to post it on The Louie Report for Louie-of-the-week honors.

HAMP’s jam Louie is a laid-back slightly calypso-jazz version of the song featuring a nice piano solo starting at 1:36 minutes in. The song teases around the edges of becoming a standard rock version of Louie, right up until 2:52, when it finally commits to a hard rock “bam-bam-bam!” finish that hints at where HAMP plans to go next. Indeed, he intends to cut a studio version of Louie Louie with his trio on their next CD. The word is — and you heard it here first — the CD Louie will be a more traditional rock version featuring the organ. Possibly with a long organ solo. I can hardly wait. Stay tuned for The Holy Grail, Part III.

Drake Bradley

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Click HERE to download this recording!

Official HAMP website

MySpace Page

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