How does it feel to be on your own just like a Rolling Stone?
Singing back – up for The Stones since 1989, Bernard Fowler is ‘grateful’ to be on stage with ‘the big boys’. Even though he and the other supporting players can be headliners in their own right, Fowler remains humble next to The Stones.
“A producer friend of mine introduced me to Mick and that is how I joined.” Says Fowler just a couple of week before he was set to join the Stones for their upcoming 2019 U.S / Canadian tour. ( Mick’s health issues have since cancelled the tour until further notice). Says Fowler; ” Mick liked my voice, my style and soul.’
Upon joining The Stones, Fowler noticed something about his ‘new band’. They walked how they talked.
” Everyone knows The Stones came from The Blues”. Says Bernard. ” They eat, breathe and live it all the time. On breaks in rehearsals, before shows – they play those tunes themselves or the original artists’ versions all the time. It is where they came from and it is part of their DNA”.
Almost thirty years after joining the band and having the best ‘seat’ in the house, Bernard’s appreciation for both the band and Mick Jagger have grown.
” Look …” Says Bernard. ” It is simple. There are two types of music. Good music and bad music. The Stones are a real and true Rock band and they perform great music. “
As far as watching Jagger dance, wiggle and take command of stadiums filled with 80,000 or more people …?
” My respect for Mick just keeps on getting higher. Night after night he is outperforming guys half his age. I think that globally, the respect is unanimous. He keeps getting better with age.”
Fowler grew up with Soul and Gospel in the house. Mahalia Jackson and Sam Cooke ( among others) raiding his ears and heart on a daily basis. Musically, because of his background – Fowler is ‘tightest’ with Keith Richards within The Stones. Richards’ musical background is very simular to Fowlers as Bernard’s Mom discovered one tour.
” I was in Keith’s room and I called my Mom”. Laughs Bernard. “Keith was playing a gospel or soul record and my Mom asked where I was. When I told her and she found out it was Keith’s records she said ‘ put that boy on the phone’. I’m not sure she loves Keith the person but she loves Keith’s musical tastes. That’s for sure”
The Rolling Stones are known ‘commercially’ as a Rock and Blues band. For purists it is the Funk and R&B rhythms that separate them from other bands and give them the title; ‘The ‘Greatest Rock n Roll Band in The World’. One of their greatest live songs (available on the Four Flicks DVD set) is Dance Pt. 1. A tune and performance which releases the pure Jagger and sees the band hit a groove that few can match.
‘ It is funny you brought up that song”. Says Bernard. “Almost from the time I joined I tried to get Mick to do that song live but always in vain. Finally he said yes and as the video shows – that is pure Mick Jagger. That music and those grooves are just in him.”
Fowler has a new album coming out April 19th. It is called Inside Out and it pays homage to Mick but not like one would think …
” Mick writes the greatest lyrics and I wanted to use those lyrics and magnify how good they are. How philosophical they are. In doing so, even die-hard Stones’ fans may hear words they missed in The Stones’ original recordings. Mick’s style and annotations sometimes blur or mask words and entire phrases.”
Inside Out does not have singing on it. The entire album was always a spoken word project floating in Bernard’s mind. Finally he decided to do it with his favorite Stones’ songs and a thumbs up from Mick.
” I went through their songbook (380 songs) and discovered so many songs. Some I knew because we have done them live but some were more obscure. When I read the words to them – I said, ‘Damn these are good! Whoever was around got a lesson from me and had to read them. “
All the songs on Bernard’s album are unrecognizable as Stones’ music. The only things on the album which Bernard ‘kept’ true are the background ‘ woo woos ‘ and the piano chord progressions in the song Sympathy for The Devil.
” I did not want it to be a Stones record. I wanted to start with the words and then add rythym. Whatever sounded good musically, we ran with it. I was fortunate to have a great cast of players on this album. It made the sounds that much better”.
Darryl Jones (bass) and Tim Ries (horns) of The Stones’ camp join Fowler as well as Steve Jordan from Keef’s other band; The X- Pensive Winos. Walfredo Reyes Jr and Lenny Castro provide African rhythms and Vince Wilburn (Miles Davis) and Clayton Cameron also add percussion. Guitar work is provided by George Evans and Ray Parker Jr. Keys and piano are laid out by Michael Beardon and David Bowie alumni Mike Garson. Keyon Harrold from the Miles Davis Biopic round things out. .
” The first song we did was Dancing with Mr.D. Even though Tim had done a Stones cover record with horns and Darryl is in the Stones, we never found outselves going the Stones’ route. I was focused on making all the songs the way I imagined them. Having Jordan along for the entire ride made me realize how good the ideas and music were. When Steve is on board – you know it is good.”.
Inside Out contains the songs Sister Morphine, Sympathy for The Devil, Tie You Up, All The Way Down, Undercover of The Night and Time Waits for Noone. Lyrically – all contain social statements which Bernard thinks are crucial in today’s ‘crumblin’ world’.
The album will shock the punters on first listen. After all, nobody is quite used to a penis under a dress. Once the barriers are broken and an open mind takes precedence; Inside Out is a masterpiece. No plasticity going on musically or in Fowler’s profound vocal delivery.
Inside Out may finally give Mick Jagger the accolades he deserves as one of the greatest philosophers, poets and lyricists of all time.
Thanks to the name and face of Bernard Fowler. A headliner on his own. Not like a Rolling Stone.
Rolling Stones guitarist Ron Wood celebrates his 65th birthday on June 1.
‘The new Stone’ made his official debut as a member of the Stones with 1976’s ‘Black and Blue’ album, having already established himself as a formidable presence through his work with the Jeff Beck Group and the Faces.
Since then, Wood has contributed an impressively varied tapestry of guitar work to the band’s records but his legacy will remain as the joker in the band. The guitarist with a sense of humor that saved the Stones from exctinction.
Wood was the go – between for Richards and Jagger. In one of the craziest relationships between two musicians; Ron Wood managed to keep things light. Eric Clapton recently attempted a good – humored stab at Wood, citing the fact he was asked first to join the Stones in 1975 and he was a better guitar player than Ron. Clapton stated the music would have been better. Wood’s response is typical of his nature;
” Yes Eric … But you wouldn’t have survived a week with these guys.!”
Ronnie Wood is an accomplished artist. His work consisting of his bandmates, musicians and film stars from every decade. He also has an impressive resume when it comes to painting the animal kingdom. Wood caused headlines in recent years when he left his wife for a seventeen year old Russian girl. A relationship which ended with domestic abuse charges against the Stone. Charges which were dismissed.
Wood is in and out of rehab with his drinking problems and purportedly has been broke more than once during his time with the Stones. All reports recently speak of a clean and sober Wood as the Stones prepare for their fiftieth anniversary tour and album.
Rolling Stones’ drummer Charlie Watts, turns 72 on June 2.
The last of the original Rolling Stones members to join the band, Watts’ entry signaled the beginning of the band’s ascension into rock stardom. Though many are crediting 2012 as being the band’s 50th year, Ron Wood recently stated that technically it would be 2013 if you take into effect Watts’ start date. The group has reportedly been discussing doing something next year to mark the occasion.
With the Rolling Stones on a break this year, Watts is spending this year with his jazzy side project the A, B, C and D of Boogie Woogie. They have late June and early July dates in New York.
Charlie Watts along with Bill Wyman were always known as the ‘quiet Stones’. Of the pair,Watts was the winner hands down! Wyman may have been low-keyed on stage and as far as drug go, yet it is the Stones’ former bass player who lays the claim to most sexual adventures.
Watts, on the flip side of the rock coin; has been married to his wife Shirkey for over fifty years.
Charlie’s claim to fame is keeping the Stones’ sometime erratic playing grounded with a solid beat. Keith Richards wanders very frequently in front of Watts’ drum kit to pick up the drummer’s unequaled tempo among other things;
“Charlie Watts is my absolute favourite. He has all of the qualities that I like in people. Great sense of humor, a lovely streak of eccentricity, a real talent, very modest.”
The Stones’ drummer breeds horses and is an avid civil war gun enthusiast. These two loves don’t quite touch his love for Jazz.
Originally a Jazz drummer, Watts has always turned to this passion when not pounding out a Rock n’ Roll beat for Mick and Keith. He has had moderate success over the years with his own bands – most notably; the Charlie Watts Quartet. A foursome which included Stones’ backup singer Bernard Fowler.
Charlie’s sole drug problems arrived a little late …
“I was lucky that I never got that hooked, but I went through a period of taking heroin. I fell asleep on the floor during [the recording of] ‘Some Girls’ and Keith woke me up and said: ‘You should do this when you’re older’. Keith telling me this! But it stuck and I just stopped along with everything else”.
Just prior to the release of A Bigger Bang in 2006; Charlie Watts was diagnosed with throat cancer. The Stones were entering the studio to record the album when they received a phone call from Watts. A message which made Mick and Keith think …
“Suddenly we were faced with the prospect of losing Charlie. What do we do? We asked each other?” Keith continues. “Mick played drums for the new songs and got quite good at it. When Charlie came back – he came back stronger than before. Death alters everyone’s thinking.”
According to Richards; “Charlie Watts is the Stones … !”