Joe Louis Walker Knows The Blues! Part One

Joe Louis Walker could have easily ended up like several of his friends …

Dead.

Passed on to that musical graveyard in the sky. A place which houses so many of not only his contemporaries – some of his closest pals. Jimi Hendrix and Mike Bloomfield to name but two. Musicians who – according to Joe, were tempted by the excesses of the music business and youth.

JLW-Hellfire“No doubt about it …” States the sixty-four year old student of the Blues. ” If I had gained stardom and success when I was a younger man, I would not be speaking to you right now. People forget the fact that when I talk about guys like Mike, Jimi and Stevie – I lost my friends man. I lost people who were close to me. It is a painful thing to lose someone we love.”

For those keeping track at home – Mike is the legendary Mike Bloomfield. A man who Joe lived with for several years. A man whose demons would not allow him to grow up – or old. Bloomfield succumbed to a heroin overdose in 1981. An unfortunate ( or fortunate for Joe) event which momentarily displaced Walker’s career as one of the Blues’ most talented guitar players.

Walker departed  the Blues scene as quick as he had entered.

Enrolling in San Francisco State University, a place where Walker achieved degrees in Music and English. Truth be told – Walker enrolled in a classroom to further his education and to further his longevity …

“It was not so much Mike’s death ( that was part of it), it was to get away from the whole music business and what comes with it.” Says Joe. ” There’s a lot of dangerous stuff in there and it has destroyed many people. It is the type of business which can show a person’s real character. I always say – it’s not how you handle success, the times when you are on top. It is how you handle falling and starting again. That’s what shows true character.”

He continues.

” Look at Jimi ( Hendrix) … He was a gentle soul with so much character. If he had surrounded himself with the right people, people who cared about him – he would still be here. Jimi had such a gentle soul and that is one thing which people don’t realize about him. A general misconception is that his best songs are full of fire. The truth is Jimi’s strength was in writing ballads. That’s where his talent was and it is a shame that many people don’t get that. Of course – that’s the fault of the business side which pumped songs like ‘Foxy Lady‘ and ‘ Purple Haze‘”

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Another guy whose reputation remains flawed is Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones. A man ( along with Ronnie Wood, Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts ) who Joe has forged a friendship with over the years. A guitar player who Walker believes is the only man in music who has stayed true to himself. A guitar play who throws no punches …

“Keith is one smart guy!” Explains Joe.” He is one of the most well read people in the business. One of the most well read people period. Have you seen the Stones’ shows when Keith does his part …?” Asks Walker. “The f*cking place goes nuts! Every time! You know why that is? Because people recognize who Keith is and what he has done. I mean that guy cannot lie. He lives and breathes music. He won’t lie about anything! You want the truth about Mick Jagger? Ask Keith. You want the truth about the Blues? Ask Keith. If you ask any musician from any type of music, a musician who really knows his stuff – they will tell you, their ain’t no Motherf*cker more true to music than Keith.”

He goes on …

” He (Keith) and the rest of the Stones could easily play a lot harder stuff. Keith has always been capable of playing leads – good leads. That’s the beauty of the Stones – they never put the instruments ahead of the songwriting. The songs were the most important element and still are. There is a reason why they have lasted fifty years. The Beatles – same thing. Their music is just as popular today as when they were ‘four brothers.’ The songs came first man ….”

Walker admits it is painful to watch The Beatles’ film; ‘Let it Be’. Joe thinks the lads from Liverpool were just becoming a great band when they went their separate ways. Directions which contained many factors including Lennon’s hatred of record companies and the music business.

Various - 1967” When you see them playing on the roof – their final concert …” Explains Walker. “You can see the smiles – the general happiness. Don’t forget, for years they did not play live and I think they lost the joy that comes from that. On the roof, they gained that back. John and the rest of the boys were supposedly talking about doing another gig after that. Unfortunately it did not happen. Imagine where they would have gone.”

Joe concludes it was all about the simplicity. Especially for John Lennon

“Look at his last album …( Double Fantasy)” Says Walker. “Three and four chords. Take away the production and that’s what it is. That’s what is always was with The Beatles. Simple. A lot of reason for their success was their success in the studio. Nobody mastered the studio like the Beatles and a lot of that goes to the Producer (George Martin). The Stones and The Beatles kept it simple …”

Walker also laughs when he hears young guys today ( musicians) complain of little details. Details that himself and guys like B.B. King and Buddy Guy – did not even have to deal with …

” Young bands today will get on stage and complain they cannot hear their monitors. Are you f*ckin’ joking …?” He laughs. ” The Beatles played at Shea Stadium without any monitors. They couldn’t hear a damn thing! Anything! The Stones – same thing at the Cow Palace in my hometown ( San Francisco). You can’t hear the monitors …? Baby – that’s the least of your problems …..”

Please stay tuned for Part Two

Joe Louis Walker is performing at L’Astral in Montreal on Friday night

Click here for show times and ticket information!

Visit Joe’s Site here!

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Would You Let Your Daughter Marry a Rolling Stone?

The Rolling Stones are arriving in Montreal for their ’50 and Counting Tour’ amid all sorts of controversy …

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The World’s Oldest and Greatest Rock n Roll band have made a career out of making people uneasy, ‘out of their heads’ or just plain upset.

Whether it is urinating on a gas station wall in the sixties, erecting a giant billboard depicting a woman tied, bound and ‘Black and Blue’ in the seventies or former and original bassist Bill Wyman dating a thirteen year old in the eighties – the band are a bunch of pirates.

Raping, pillaging and looting their way into a chapter of Rock n Roll history which shall forever belong to them. An exclusive club where ‘please to meet you’ gains no entrance. ‘Walking Central Park after dark’ means nothing to the doorman.

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For fifty years – Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Charlie Watts, remain the architects of something unreal but not imagined. Something born from the Blues. Born from Country. Born from Jazz. Born from R and B and Soul. Their offspring – wild children with names like Reggae, Funk and Disco, carrying on the legacy of Brian Jones with a toe forever embedded deeply in ‘Muddy Waters‘.

Scandals involving drugs, Prime Minister’s wives and more drugs – implanting memories turned – lore -turned – a blurred reality – turned – a never ending career. Millions of bands erected and millions of wannabes crumbled. ‘Meanwhile; The Stones carry on ‘running fifty red lights in their honor’. ‘Thank you Jesus – thank you Lord.’

blackblueJones’ death in Pooh’s pool. A fitting end to an era and a ‘boy child’. A ‘Mannish Boy‘ lost in a world of decadence and a desire to be loved. A ‘Prodigal Son‘ never returning home. Too many ‘little yellow pills’ for a scholar of Elmore James and Robert Johnson. A man whose ‘nasty habits’ contained more than ‘drinking tea at three.’ A nasty man towards women whose mastery of every instrument somewhat forgives the nature of his unforgivable ways. ‘Don’t you want to live with me …?’

The band, exiled to the South of France.

A self – imposed exodus  to make some money away from the Queen’s greedy paws. A get- away into a Nazi hotel. A summer of excess with the capitals SS providing dirty, gritty (demonic) digs in which to blend genres into a jam session doubled. A sordid affair which left many in ‘the cold grey dawn’. Mick Taylor understanding Richards ‘ ‘never keeping a dollar past sunset’ habits. Taylor becoming a Rolling Stone while plunging into a world beyond his control. The son of a Bluesbreaker depositing some of the most enduring guitar licks onto vinyl. An unsung hero whose legacy will  not be uncovered until music historians flip through the Stones’ songbook near the end of their ’75 and Counting Tour in the year 2038.’

This – on the tails of three gems. Three ‘stones’ …rolling_stones_beggars_banquea-t-front-wwwfreecoversnet

‘Let it Beed’, ‘Beggars Banquet’ and ‘Sticky Fingers’. ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ but if you try sometime … a discovery of ‘Moonlight Mile’, ‘Country Honk‘, ‘Salt of the Earth’ and ‘ Let it Loose’ will give you what you need.

A span of ten years providing a musical legacy which  most musicians never reach – even after fifty years of trying. A decade of diving into the roots of every important genre. Backed by a drummer whose love of Jazz placed the rhythm a second behind creating organized chaos. A sound never duplicated. A sloppy carpet upon which Jagger to dance upon. A rug never pinned to the floor. A dual feminine masculine tapestry built upon the remains of Tina Turner and James Brown. ‘Dance Little Sister Dance …’

Micheal Phillip Jagger, the son of a physical education instructor. A ‘boy-child’.  In the top ten of his class at the London School of Economics. An actor. ‘A wonderful bunch of guys’ according to his mate – Keith Richards. A chameleon able to keep his nose on the street. Allowing Brian Jones’ band the ingredients to stay relevant. Allowing Richards to rock while he rolled into the world of Pop, Disco and whatever else deemed the flavor of the moment. An insatiable appetite for women, the arts and global education. A definer and follower of the jet-setting ways of the most ardent explorers. The navigator of the Stones’ ship …

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‘Angie’ shocked the followers. ‘Respectable’ shocked the punks. ‘Start me Up’ shocked the naysayers. The jealous men and women who had to grow up while the Stones defied the rules once again. Time was on their side. ‘Time waits for noone’ except for the bad boys of Rock n Roll. Robert Johnson may have had company at the crossroads after all …

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Ronnie Wood, the new Stone. A sparring partner cast in the truer vain of a Jones – Richards collaboration. A Rod Stewart Faces castaway. A lover of the blues and a sparring partner for Keef. A drinking buddy whose happy-go-lucky nature by all accounts saved the Stones more than once. A man whose talents may have wasted amid the the sound of the band yet one of the only men able to withstand the backstage life. The ‘ancient art of weaving‘ was created. Two guitars exchanging licks, leads and rhythm. The Stones – part three …

‘It’s Only Rock n Roll but we like it …’

Rolling-Stones-Some-GirlsWyman. The self – professed ladies man. A conqueror of 20,000 members of the opposite sex in the ‘boudoir. The unheralded bass player seldom mentioned in the top fifty among his peers. A quiet, unassuming performer whose presence shadowed by his mates’ legendary presence. A student of the blues and the man whose anchor ( along with Watts) kept the pirate ship from sinking. A man who spent time at Disco clubs to obtain a feel of what would become his recognizable legacy. ‘Miss You’, the band’s most commercially successful song – not the same without William Perks’ nonporous infectious  foot -tapping signature.

The drug busts.

Society out to get the Stones from the beginning. Specifically – Keith Richards. A man who turned to drugs to cope. A ‘shy’ guy who could not handle the fame and all that came along with it. A fan of Roy Rogers, Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters and Gram Parsons. A true student of musical integrity. The last student standing. The man who fought the law and won. A pirate’s pirate. The world’s most elegantly wasted human being and the only man responsible for some of the most poignant riffs in the history of Rock. ‘Jumpin Jack Flash, Satisfaction, Brown Sugar, Hony Tonk Woman, Start Me Up, Happy, Tumbin’ Dice – the list goes on …

The writer of many ballads, a wearer of his heart on his sleeve while able to stick you with a knife if he is crossed. The human riff. Aside from Watts, the only Stone to be a married and devoted Father for over thirty years. If Jagger and Richards run the corner store known as The Rolling Stones – Richards is the butcher. The meat and potatoes guy. The provider of the Blues’ legacy. The survivor. The only man able to withstand a nuclear war …

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The shows, the legendary tours.

Altering words on Ed Sullivan to ‘Let’s Spend the Night Together’, a death at Altamont to end the sixties and the Woodstock – ian dream of peace and love. The circus – like atmosphere of the 1972 and 75 tours. The blueprint for all Rock n Roll tours to follow;  the plans intricately penned for sex, drugs and rock n roll. Laid out, in – your- face biblical commandments for everyone for Led Zeppelin to Bon Jovi to follow.

1981 and the first group to tour under a corporate banner. Record companies stones-13got rich for years – why not the Stones? The first to lay claim as the masters of the grandiose stadium tours. The masters of merchandising. The masters of their own domain. The opening acts clambering to hop on board. Aerosmith, Z.Z Top, Prince, Journey, George Thorogood – the who is who of music in each passing decade.

1989 and the first to broadcast in Pay per View. The colossal success of the Steel Wheels tour and a comeback of sorts following semi – successful solo jaunts by Jagger and Richards. A generation of new fans jumping on the Stones’ bandwagon. The music growing and cultivating yet suffering from a back catalog placed too high on a shelf for any group to obtain.

Enter Darryl Jones on bass. The man whose career to that point included stints with Miles Davis, Eric Clapton and Sting. A man who wanted to play with Richards’ other band – the X-Pensive Winos. Settling instead for the Stones. The newest of new at twenty years as part of the Stones part four.

ims1UWaiting on a Friend, Start me Up, Undercover of the Night, Mixed Emotions, Almost Hear You Sigh, Emotional Rescue, Love is Strong and Between and a Rock and a Hard Place – quality to make the Black Keys pale in comparison. Saint of Me, Rough Justice and the most recent Doom and Gloom. Songs huge by any other standards – dormant among the endless classics penned by the second biggest songwriting team in history. Two eight year old boys – turned men – turned – icons – turned rock royalty.  Legendary requires a makeover when discussing Jagger – Richards.

Voodoo Lounging in 1994, Bridging a gap to Babylon in ’97. Live Licks in 2002 and a return to former stompin’ grounds at places like L’Olympia in Paris. A Bigger Bang in 2006 –  including the largest rock show in history. One and a half million people joining the Peter Pan of music and his band of messy, mongrel  pirates on the beach in Brazil. Looting and pillaging everyone from the age of ten to ninety. Inducing timeless hits ‘down the throats’ of young and old alike. Incorporating the same energy displayed in 1962. An energy Rod Argent from the Zombies has never seen any band come close to in fifty years.

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If a club owner – any club owner from any part of the world needs to hire a rock band, they can call the Stones to deliver a three hour set. If someone requires a Reggae band – the Stones can be summoned to deliver the goods. If a country band is needed to quench the thirst of the most ‘red necked’ fanatics of the legacy of Cash, Williams or Nelson – once more, Jagger et al can do the job better than most. Pop? Disco and dance …? No problem for the the world’s greatest versatile band.

The Rolling Stones are arriving in Montreal for their ’50 and Counting Tour’ amid controversy over ticket prices.

Somehow – they will survive and place ‘Dead Flowers’ on our graves ….

The Rolling stones are at the Bell Center Sunday night …

Please stay tuned for my interview with Pat Travers!

Rick’s Rockin’ Hallowe’en Bash (or How I Met Mick Jagger )

The scene …? Brutopia.img_3026

The place …? Downtown Montreal.

The feeling in the air …? General malaise and spookiness.

The reason …? Hallowe’en!

A shiek on drums, a nun on bass, a conehead on guitar, a giant – sized man of Haitian  descent on vocals and a straight – unabashed Mexican on the congas …

The name of the band? Kebeko …

The type of music? Caribbean – led, in your face, rap/ r and b / rock dance type stuff. The assorted ‘ghouls ‘ and boys boppin’ til three am. At one point, a gay pirate / Keith Richards leading a harmonica – charged finale worthy of an encore laden with power.

Enjoy through the eyes of Captain Jack Sparrow

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Please stay tuned for part two of my interview with Sass Jordan