Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Luke McDaniel - the Daddy – O Rockabilly

Luke McDaniel, like many a good singer was born in the good ole southern state of Mississippi, in Ellisville on February 3, 1927. He started in music after buying a seven dollar mandolin, and was influenced by hillbilly singers like The Bailes Brothers. He formed his own band and turned professional in 1945. He opened for Hank Williams in New Orleans in the late 40's and appears to have become hooked on the lonesome sound of Hank. In 1952 he recorded "Whoa Boy" for Trumpet Records in Jackson, Mississippi as well as a tribute single, "A Tribute To Hank Williams, My Buddy". The Trumpet records were all high quality hillbilly, but as with many at the time, showed him at this stage as little more than a Hank Williams clone. I'm not knocking him, I love his Trumpet stuff, it's just that he hadn't developed his own sound yet.

In 1953 he was introduced to King Records by fellow artist Jack Cardwell (The Death of Hank Williams/ Dear Joan). McDaniel had become a fixture on the "Tom 'N Jack" radio and television show that aired over WKAB and WKAB-TV but during his time at King he failed to register any hits despite half a dozen fine singles. "Money Bag Woman" was particularly strong, fusing his hillbilly with a rhumba beat. When the King contract expired, he went back to New Orleans where he recorded for the Mel-A-Dee label. He worked under the alias Jeff Daniels and recorded his Mel-A-Dee tracks at the legendary Cosimo's Studio with the pick of the city's black musicians. Only one single was released, the great "Daddy –O Rock" coupled with "Hey Woman".

In 54 he was a country deejay for radio station WLAU in Laurel, Mississippi and joined the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport, becoming a part of the touring Hayride show. It was a wonderful time to be part of the Hayride set-up and the influence of Elvis Presley saw McDaniel move towards a more rocking sound. It’s also believed that that when Grand Ole Opry stars Curly Fox along with Jamup and Honey came to do a show in Laurel, Luke gave up the job he had at that time to join the troupe as a bit of a handy man. Around this time, McDaniel wrote "Midnight Shift" under the pseudonym of Earl Lee, which Buddy Holly would later record.
In 1956 Elvis and Carl Perkins urged McDaniels to submit a demo to Sam Phillips. Sam was impressed and signed McDaniel to a contract with Sun Records. It's unsure whether he cut two sessions or just one at Sun (either Sep 56 or/and Jan 57). Nothing was issued though, as Sam and Luke had a financial disagreement. The unissued Sun sides have now seen the light of day thanks to reissue labels like Charly Records. "My Baby Don't Rock" sounds like a Sonny Burgess track with Martin Willis' sax to the fore and a firecraker solo from Roland Janes. "High High High" is another high class song in the best traditions of Sun. "Uh Babe" is more seminal-Sun rockabilly with Jimmy Van Eaton on fine form behind the skinned boxes. "Go Ahead Baby" is more exciting bop and sounds like a cross between Hayden Thompson and Gene Simmons.
As a songwriter he got some cuts by George Jones and Jim Reeves, but he was destined to fail as a singer in his own right. He recorded singles for the Big Howdy label, sometimes under the name "Jeff Daniels". Highlight is the manic "Switch Blade Sam", a frontrunner in anyone's bad boy rockabilly top ten. The other side was the original of "You're Still On My Mind", better known in the versions of George Jones and the Byrds. There are two versions of the great "Foxy Dan", a song written for him by Carl Perkins. Make sure you get the 1960 Astro recording, which is superior to the version on Big Howdy that was released in the 1970s.

Disillusioned by the early 60s he left the business to start his own trucking business - another great hillbilly singer that just couldn't get the right breaks. A lot of his rockabilly records got a new lease of life in Europe during the 70’s and 80’s but as far as I know he never came over to play any live shows. He died in Mobile, Alabama on 27th June 1992.

My Top 10
1. Uh Uh Uh – wonderful commercial bopper, sort of Foxy Dan meets the Andrews Sisters.
2. Go Ahead Baby – pure Sun rockabilly. This couldn’t have been cut anywhere but at 706 Union. Great guitar solos and drumming. LD sounds so at home in this rocking style.
3. Daddy-O-Rock – superb black meets white rocker with honking sax.
4. Switchblade Sam – kick-ass rocker like Dixie Fried on speed.
5. High High High – line up for a stroller of the highest order. The backing reminds me a bit of the Lifeguards’ Everybody Out Of The Pool. Sax and a hot guitar solo add to the excitement.
6. What I Tell My Heart – country with a beat that could almost be from an undiscovered Warren Smith session.
7. Foxy Dan – the dapper Dan man who’s "got more money than Wells Fargo".
8. I'm Tired Of These Country Ways – hillbilly vocals with a semi-rockabilly backbeat.
9. Uh Babe – laid back Sun rockabilly with a wonderful vocal performance.
10. Drive On – Not the Johnny Cash American Recordings song but a hillbilly song steeped in the Hank Williams tradition. Luke’s wailing vocals works in perfect tandem with the fiddle.

as Luke McDaniel
Trumpet Records
Whoa Boy / Tribute To Hank Williams (1952)
A Tribute To Hank Williams, My Buddy / This Cryin’ Heart (1953)
King Records
Drive On / Let Me Be A Souvenir(1953)
I Can’t Go / For Old Times Sake (1953)
The Automobile Song / I Can’t Steal Another’s Bridge (1954)
Honey Won’t You Please Come Home / Crying My Heart Out For You (1954)
Money Bag Woman / Hurts Me So (1954)
One More Heart / Living In A House Of Sin (1955)

as Jeff Daniels
Meladee Records
Daddy-O Rock / Hey Woman! (1956)
Big Howdy Records
Switch Blade Sam / You’re Still On My Mind (1959)
Big B Records
Uh-Huh-Huh / Table For Two (1959)
Astro Records
Foxy Dan / Some Day You’ll Remember (1960)
Big Howdy Records
Uh-Huh-Huh / Table For Two (197?)
Foxy Dan / Bye Bye Baby (197?)
Hard Luck / Johnny’s (197?)
I Tried / I’m Tired Of These Country Ways (197?)
Switch Blade Sam / You’re Still On My Mind (197?)
Sun (unissued)
Go Ahead Baby
Huh Babe
High High High
My Baby Don’t Rock
That’s What I Tell My Heart

Grady Martin tribute

Just months after the death of Chet Atkins, the world of country music suffered another massive loss when legendary session guitarist Grady Martin passed away this week aged 72. One of the most important musicians of the pioneering era of the 50's and 60's, Martin appears to have suffered a heart attack at his home.Martin was born on a farm near Chappel Hill in Marshall County, Tennessee, the youngest of four children. He spent many childhood hours listening to music on the families battery-operated Zenith radio, and soon developed a love for country music and the Grand Ole Opry which the family listened to every weekend. Young Grady began playing the fiddle and guitar and by his teens was playing in local bands and sitting in with visiting bands. At fifteen he was heard by Big Jeff Bess who persuaded Grady's parents to let him move to Nashville to play with his band Big Jeff and the Radio Playboys. Two years later he joined Paul Howard's Arkansas Cotton Pickers and then became a founder member of Little Jimmy Dicken's Country Boys. By now he had retired his fiddle and was becoming known as one of the town's top guitarists. He worked the Opry and played with the Bailes Brothers, Curley Fox and Texas Ruby.He took over the lead of Red Foley's band and as well as the Opry they played the Ozark Jubilee. It was with Foley that Martin played on his first big seller, Chattanooga Shoe-Shine Boy. During the session he formed a long time partnership with Decca's Paul Cohen and their influential Nashville producer, Owen Bradley. The next two decades were when Martin made his name and built up an unprecedented reputation. Although he recorded with his Slewfoot Five for Decca it was his session work where he excelled.He started working with Johnny Horton and the late 50's saw him at the peak of his craft on such Horton classics as Honky Tonk Man, I'm A One Woman Man, I'm Coming Home and The Woman I Need. It was Martin who suggested at one Horton session that Harold Bradley play a banjo on When It's Springtime In Alaska (It's Forty Below). It was a master stroke which completely changed the song's make-up and set a trend for such historic folk songs - Horton repeated the idea for his million-seller, Battle Of New Orleans. He was respected as a versatile and inventive guitarist and the full range of playing he used when working with Brenda Lee summed it up, whether it be his rockabilly boogie playing on Bigelow 6-200, or his fills on the poppier material like Let's Jump The Brromstick or My Baby Likes Western Guys.The first Grammy ever awarded for a country song was Marty Robbins brilliant western ballad, El Paso, but only a fool would suggest the song would have been half as good without Grady Martin's fluent Tex-Mex picking. It was a high point in both men's illustrious careers. When they worked together a year later (1960), history was again made when Martin's malfunctioning amplifier caused a distorted sound, known from that day forward as fuzztone.He worked thousands of sessions and amongst the artists Martin backed were; Johnny Burnette, Johnny Cash, Jim Reeves, Patsy Cline, Flatt & Scruggs, Lefty Frizzell, Don Gibson, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Joan Baez, JJ Cale, Merle Haggard, Bill Monroe, Hank Snow, Ernest Tubb and Roy Orbison.In the 70's he worked extensively with Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn and produced the country-rockers Brush Arbor. After a brief spell with Jerry Reed he became a member of the Willie Nelson Family troupe, touring the world from 1980 to 1994 and working on such studio sessions as On The Road Again and Always On My Mind. He retired and spent his time back in Marshall County. He became the first recipient of the Nashville Music Association's Masters Award in 1983 and was awarded a Chetty last year during Chet Atkins' Musician Days festivities in Nashville. Married three times, Martin left behind ten children, seven grandchildren, one great-grandchild and an enormous body of guitar solos that helped change the face of popular music. As Bob Moore told the Tennessean newspaper, "I think he's the single greatest guitar player we've had here in Nashville".

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Pop Goes The Rockabilly

1. Union Avenue - White Wedding
Rockabilly quintet Union Avenue hail from Scotland and have found a niche in the market by covering pop songs in the style of Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two. Some songs work better than others but the ones that do work are great. They make the songs like they were always Cash songs, in no small part to the vocals of Andrew Cardno and the Luther picking of guitarist Paul Paterson. They recently had the Radio 1 record of the week for their cover of Motorhead's Ace Of Spades and have been support acts for The Stranglers and Lee Rocker among others. Billy Idol's White Wedding was a frantic slice of pop in the early 80's, with a full blown production. Union Avenue stripped the song to the bare bones and even recorded it on vintage equipment for an authentic Sun sound. They pulled a master stroke in slowing the tempo and letting the song breath the way JC's best songs did. A classic version that makes Billy Idol's redundant.

2. Paul Ansell's Number Nine - Red Light
A highlight of Number Nine's live set, Red Light does indeed spell danger when the wrong version is played. Billy Ocean is as shite as Paul Ansell is great, and their versions show the difference. Ocean's is just drab pop music whereas Paul Ansell and Number Nine give a menacing rocked up performance. Not rockabilly per say but that isn't what they're about. It's high energy with a rocking emphasis but not restrained by the narrow parameters of pure rockabilly.

3. Big 6 - Tiger Feet
The Dream Team of the rocking scene, band members include Mike Sanchez and ? among its ranks. They play with a smile on their face and the music ranges from Bill Haley style rock to ska. They are particularly adept at converting glam-rock songs into rock 'n' roll with the likes of Slade and T-Rex being given the sax and slap-bass treatment. Their version of Mud's Tiger Feet is a romp, heavy on the sax and drums. Like the original it's a dance-floor cert.

4. Dave Phillips - Tainted Love
If ever you needed to explain to someone why a guitar is better than a synthesiser just take a listen to Soft Cell's version then take in Dave Phillips. I first heard this on Radio 1 on a school trip to see the Severn Boar and tried to convince everyone on the bus that this was better than Soft Cell's limp version. I'm not sure what percentage of John Beddoes School was bent, but no-one agreed with me.

5. Darrel Higham - Kingston Town
I know it wasn't the original but it was the UB40 version that I first heard back in the 80's. I never liked them and thought Red Red Wine was abysmal. Darrel's version of Kingston Town is a different animal all together. There isn't a lot of difference between reggae and rockabilly, the hypnotic, incessant beat being the embodiment of both styles.

6. Demented Are Go - Crazy Horses
There couldn't be a bigger contrast between the squeaky clean Osmonds and psychobilly trio Demented Are Go. The two versions of the song echo the differences with the toothy Mormon family sounded contrived and controlled as they reach for an orgasm of excitement. The Cardiff stompers, by contrast are totally convincing as they rape the song and bring it to a crazy level that would make Donny and Marie blush.

7. Doug Church - Graceland
Elvis impersonators aren't my favourite people in the world but where Doug Church manages to avoid my hatred is that he doesn't copy Elvis songs. Instead he gives modern songs the Elvis styled vocals, and it works well. There's the saying that riding a moped and shagging a fat girl are both fun to ride as long as your mates don't find out. I think listening to Doug Church is a bit like that as well. It's surreal hearing what sounds like Elvis singing about "going to Graceland, in Memphis, Tennessee".

8. Stray Cats - You Can't Hurry Love
Not the Stray Cats' greatest moment but still a lot better than either Phil Collins or Diana Ross. Much like the Dave Phillips selection at number 4 it was good to hear a pop song with a double bass and therefore given a bit of balls.

9. Jets - Yes Tonight Josephine
I didn't even realise this wasn't a Jets original when I first heard this back in the day. It seemed such a straight ahead rockabilly song that it was impossible to imagine it was just a run of the mill pop song. This was the break out song for the Cotton brothers and for a couple of years they were on tv everytime you turned it on. Oh how we wish those days would return.

10. Meteors - These Boots Were Made For Walkin'
Apparantly Frank Sinatra hated Tommy Sands as a son in law so much that he used his Mafia influence to make sure that Sands couldn't get work. If Nancy had of married Meteors front-man Paul Fenech instead I reckon Ol Blue Eyes would have arranged for Fenech to take a trip down the Hudson in a body bag. Whatever, the Meteors version of These Boots Were Made For Walkin' is a miles from Nancy, just like a good psycho should be.

Remembering Billy Fury - 25th Anniversary

It doesn't seem possible but its twenty-five years ago today that the great Billy Fury passed away. I come from a family of Billy lovers with my mum being a fan since the heyday and no doubt helping turn myself and my sister into fans. My mum was working in a shop window in the early 60's when Billy walked by, causing her to knock half the stuff over. To top it all, my wife is a fan as well. Whereas she frowns a bit when I play a Don Williams or some other country shit (her words not mine), its always okay to play The Sound of Fury. When I first got into rock 'n' roll my earliest heroes were Elvis, Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, Jerry Lee Lewis and Billy Fury and although others became special to me over the years, Johnny Cash for instance, those original five will always be the top dogs. As I'm writing this Julie has just said that whenever she thinks about our music she always thinks Elvis, Gene and Eddie, Billy and the Stray Cats because that's what we always listened to as teenagers together.Something that still stick in my mind long after it should have vanished is when the May Fair came to my hometown Presteigne when I was a school kid and one of the prizes at the darts stall was a postcard of Billy in his leopard skin shirt. I tried as hard as I could to get that picture but the darts were blunt and the board was rock hard - proved by the fact that the postcard was still there when the fair came back the following year. The first answer phone we ever had used to play Billy's Phone Call which was always nice to listen to before speaking to some double glazing quote.Whereas the past 25 years have seen the star of Elvis burning as bright as ever, sadly the name of Billy Fury has all but died here in his homeland. Apart from my beautiful and sadly missed pussy, Billy Furry, I don't think I've heard the name mentioned in years. I know there's a couple of tribute acts doing the rounds, with Colin Gold being very good. As I mentioned in my review of the recent Rockers Reunion, the young Liverpool Teddy Boy band Furious played a couple of his songs, so perhaps there's hope for a revival. Let's face it, he was a million miles better than most things Britain produced and at least a couple of miles better than the far more successful Cliff Richard. The old Bachelor Boy might have done a mean lip curl but for the all around package Billy was the man. He has stage presence and his performances were raunchy in a way Cliff just couldn't carry off. Billy was a good looking dude who you could imagine would carry through the dirty deed whereas Cliff might look okay but if you took him home he'd probably help your mum knit a cardigan. I've asked the three girls in my life to give me their top 10 and here they are.

Julie's (wife) Top 10 - no order except for the first one
Gonna Type A Letter
Halfway to Paradise
You Don't Know
Maybe Tomorrow
I Will
In Thoughts of You
In Summer
A Thousand Stars
Last Night Was Made For Love
Like I've Never Been Gone

Pat's (mum) Top 10 - no order
Last Night Was Made For Love
Like I've Never Been Gone
Halfway to Paradise
A Thousand Stars
I'll Never Find Another You
In Thoughts of You
Wondrous Place
Once Upon A Dream
Somebody Else's Girl
It's Only Make Believe

Sharon's (sister) Top Ten - in order
Wondrous Place
In Thoughts of You
My Advice
Don't Leave Me This Way
Maybe Tomorrow
Alright, Goodbye
I'll Never Find Another You
Don't Say It's Over
You Don't Know

My Top 10 - in order
Don't Knock Upon My Door
Wondrous Place
Don't Jump
I'm Lost Without You
That's Love
Baby How I Cried
Maybe Tomorrow
Turn My Back On You
I'm Lost Without You

Johnny & the Jailbirds

In rock 'n' roll, as with most strains of music, you get bands who never make it beyond the pub circuit and a few that have that little bit extra quality and are therefore able to really make a name for themselves on an international basis. Johnny and the Jailbirds fall in the latter category, having achieved cult status across the European continent. They were formed in late 1973, when Johnny Red moved from London to Northamptonshire. He placed an ad in a local newspaper, looking for some like minded rockers to form a rock 'n' roll band. He auditioned the applicants and after a few rehearsals Johnny and the Jailbirds were up and running. From the humble beginnings of their first gig in a local village club they quickly developed a reputation for one of the top bands in the UK. They signed to Charly Records in 1979. When Richie Ball joined on lead guitar, the final piece of the jigsaw was in place. As well as being a top picker he was a songwriter and Ball and Red began a fruitful partnership. These contributed eight songs for the bands debut album 'Out On Bail'. Rockabilly was rife in Europe at that time and the Jailbirds took advantage with two of their strongest numbers, 'Eileen' and Too Much Wine' making the top five of the French Rock 'n' Roll charts. The album became an instant classic and was to be the highlight of their career. They called it a day after just seven years but reformed a few years ago and Red and Ball wrote all the tracks for the comeback album 'Rockin The Blues Away'. They charted in the E.M.S. European country charts, with 'Lonestar Boogie' which went to No5 in October 2000, and 'Red Eye to Memphis' which reached No3 in January 2001.

My Johnny & the Jailbirds Top 5.
1. Eileen - brilliant hot pot of rock 'n' roll with ringing guitar and Elvisy vocals combining with a splash of doo-wop.
2. Too Much Wine - more of the same, melodic with some fine Red vocals. Their songs are so catchy.
3. Lonestar Boogie - melodic rockabilly which kicks off in Johnny Cash mode.
4. Stay Away - Taken from a 45 on the French ? Label, Stay Away is a singalong rocker with a short, but oh-so-sweet guitar solo.
5. Red Eye To Memphis - another exciting ditty with a commercial, catchy chorus.

Jerry Lee Lewis live

Here's a quick look at the Jerry Lee Lewis shows I've been lucky enough to go to.

16.4.87: The Newport Centre, Newport, Wales.
Kenneth Lovelace (guitar/fiddle/vocals), Linda Gail Lewis (vocals), Phoebe Lewis (vocals), Joel Schumaker (guitar), Harvey 'Duke' Faglier (bass), Danny Harrison (drums), Moetta Stewart (keyboards, vocals) Rockin' My Life Away / You Win Again / Why Don't You Love Me / Mean Woman Blues / Over The Rainbow / Rock & Roll Is Something Special / One Of Them Old Things / Meat Man / Autumn Leaves / Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee / You Belong To Me / Roll Over Beethoven (with Linda Gail Lewis) / We Live In Two Different Worlds (with Linda Gail Lewis) / When You Wore A Tulip (with Linda Gail Lewis) / Great Balls Of Fire / This World Is Not My Home / Tennessee Saturday Night / Middle Age Crazy / Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On ­ You Can Have Her (Medley) My very first concert by the Killer. The day started off with the car breaking down on Plynlimon next to the Elvis sign, but it finished in spectacular fashion. Looking at the track listing it was a pretty varied show and must have run to well over an hour. A couple of things I remember most about the show was why did Jerry Lee need Moetta Stewart on keyboards, and being thrilled that his sister Linda Gail and daughter Pheobe were on backing vocals with him. If the show kicked off at 8, by 8:01 I was totally in love with this man. Before the shows I was an Elvis, Jerry Lee, Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent and Billy Fury man ­ by the end I was a Jerry Lee man only. It's not that they all went down a level, Jerry Lee just went up a few. I was in such a gob-smacked state to finally see Jerry Lee live that I can't even remember Middle Aged Crazy, my favourite song of all time. The one song which I do remember was a brilliant version of Over The Rainbow. Man I would love to relive this concert again, with less of the starry-eyed bewilderment and more of a compos mentis enjoyment.

21.11.89: The Hammersmith Odeon, London, England.
Kenneth Lovelace (guitar), James Burton (guitar), Dave Edmunds (guitar), Brian May (guitar), Dave Davies (guitar), Stuart Adamson (guitar), Phil Chen (bass), John Lodge (bass), Jim Isbell (drums), Van Morrison (vocals) Blues At Midnight ­ Boogie Woogie Country Man (Medley) / I Don't Want To Be Lonely Tonight / You Win Again / Mean Woman Blues / I Am What I Am / Goodnight Irene (with Van Morrison) / What'd I Say (with Van Morrison) / Lucille / Coming Back For More / Jailhouse Rock / Chantilly Lace / Mexicali Rose (slow & fast) / High School Confidential / Rockin' My Life Away / Johnny B. Goode / Hang Up My Rock & Roll Shoes / Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On / Great Balls Of Fire / Good Golly Miss Molly ­ Tutti Frutti (Medley) / Me & Bobby McGee / High Heel Sneakers / Real Wild Child I remember getting all excited for this show after playing football in Penrhyncoch on the Saturday. With Julie and my sister Sharon again going, together with John and Alan Galbraith, we were all set for an early start on the Sunday when we got news that the gig had been postponed for a week. The following week was bad timing for me as I had to endure the six hour drive with Bombay belly (Julie was sick as a dog the following day). Anyway, what about the show. I remember it being a shock when Jerry Lee came onstage and started playing without the band (I've since read Dave Edmunds' account of it where he said they were all sat around having a beer when they suiddenly heard a loud roar and realised Jerry had just decided to go ahead and start the show). Jerry was brilliant and completely upstaged the guests - that's the megaheads, not Dave and James Burton. It was hysterical when Brian May went posing down the front, sliding on his knees during an ill-conceived solo when his guitar lead came out - he was Unplugged before his time. Van Morrison was abysmal on Goodnight Irene, whining away in a key that must have caused havoc to the local dogs. Whoever the guest, Jerry Lee was the star.

17.4.90: The Leisure Centre, Gloucester, England.
Kenneth Lovelace (guitar), Peter Oakman (bass), Jim Isbell (drums)
Roll Over Beethoven / Rockin' Jerry Lee / Trouble In Mind / Hey Good Lookin' / You Win Again / What'd I Say / Jailhouse Rock / I Don't Want To Be Lonely Tonight / Sweet Little Sixteen / Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee / Baby What You Want Me To Do / Blue Suede Shoes / Rockin' My Life Away / The One Rose That's Left In My Heart / Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On / Great Balls Of Fire We met Kenneth Lovelace in the pub before the gig and gave him and Jerry Lee invites for our wedding (needless to say they didn't turn up). This is the show where I was probably the only one at the gig who enjoyed opening act Johnny Dumper. I didn't like the histryonics but I thought his voice was pretty good. Again I loved the show and remember him using the "Hank said to Miss Audrey on bended knee" line during You Win Again. I got to shake his hand at the end of Great Balls Of Fire and my love was cemented stronger than ever. I managed to get his glass off the piano and it still enjoys pride of place at home. I remember a review of the show in Now Dig This saying that Jerry Lee looked so ill and thin, but it was the first time I'd ever got that close, and he seemed fine to me ­ love is blind!!

6.12.92: The N.E.C., Birmingham, England.
Travis Wammack (guitar), James 'Buck' Hutcheson (guitar), ? Velline (bass), 'Monkey' Wammack (drums)
Rockin' My Life Away / Sweet Little Sixteen / C.C. Rider / Johnny B. Goode / High Heel Sneakers / Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On / Great Balls Of Fire
This was one of the those Rock 'n' Roll Revival shows that featues the good and the bad from the early days. Highlights were Lloyd Price and Duane Eddy, lowlights were Boby Vee and worst of all Little Richard. The crowd seemed a bit nervous as word was going around the Arena that Jerry Lee hadn't turned up. After what seemed like an age of waiting, on came the band. Ol' Buck Hutcheson looked as drunk as a skunk as did the Killer when he followed them on. It was a brilliant performance with Jerry obviously relaxed (!) and enjoying himself. He made plenty of sexual references as he wiggled his hips, it was great stuff but the management pulled a finger across the throat to get him finished and after a magic 20 minutes it was all over. That twenty minutes was better than two hours of just about anyone else. I thought afterwards that this must have been what it was like watching Jerry Lee in the Memphis bars during the boozy years.

13.3.93: The King's Hotel, Newport, Wales.
Kenneth Lovelace (guitar), Leo Green (sax), 'THE RED HOT POKERS' [Ned Edwards (guitar, harmonica), Pete Hurley (bass), Colin Griffin (drums)] Roll Over Beethoven / Fraulein / C.C. Rider / Brown Eyed Handsome Man / Mean Woman Blues / Release Me / Johnny B. Goode / Over The Rainbow / Mona Lisa / Mexicali Rose / Boogie Woogie Country Man / Lewis Boogie / End Of The Road / Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On / Chantilly Lace / Great Balls Of Fire / High Heel Sneakers Until the show in Memphis I remember this as the best Jerry lee gig I'd ever been to. Up close and personal as they say, not sat in some concert hall in a restrained manner. There was a purple patch in this show when he went from Boogie Woogie Country Man to Lewis Boogie to End of the Road where he just blew everyone away. The red Hot Pokers were cooking and seemed to bring out the best in Jerry Lee. It was a hot and sweaty show where everyone in the crowd jostled to retain their view, no-one prepared to give an inch as we breathed in the amazing aura of the greatest showman on the planet. A fantastic night which left me more in love with Jerry Lee Lewis than I thought was possible. I remember on the way home I told Julie that I was now completely fulfilled and didn't care if I never went to another gig in my life.

2.7.98: The Wembley Arena, London, England.
Kenneth Lovelace (guitar), James Burton (guitar), B.B. Cunningham (bass), Robert Hall (drums) Down The Line / You Win Again / Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee / Over The Rainbow / Boogie Woogie Country Man / Chantilly Lace / Mean Woman Blues / Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On / Great Balls Of Fire After five long years of waiting I got to see the Killer again in Wembley Arena. What a crap venue, we were sat towards the back and the sound was echoing around the ceiling. Mind you, the tickets only cost about two weeks wages!! Jerry Lee was on first and it was great to see him again, but the intimate setting of the Kings was a long time gone and the performance lacked a bit of excitement because of it. Little Richard was rubbish and Chuck Berry was embarrasing. I had a five hour journey to make back home but decided to sit through Chuck hoping that Jerry Lee might come on stage for a duet. At 5 o'clock in the morning as I sat behind the wheel fighting the eyelids, it was decision I regretted.

11.7.2000: The London Arena, London, England.
Kenneth Lovelace (guitar), B.B. Cunningham (bass), Robert Hall (drums), Bill Strom (organ) Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee / You Win Again / Boogie Woogie Country Man / Rockin' My Life Away / High School Confidential / Georgia On My Mind / Chantilly Lace / C.C. Rider / Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On / Me & Bobby McGee / Great Balls Of Fire Same line-up and running order as the Wembley gig to years earlier, but the sound was a lot better. Jerry Lee was on great form and I really enjoyed Georgia On My Mind and Me And Bobby McGhee. As always it was an anticlimax when Jerry Lee finished. Little Richard was as excruciating as usual but Chuck Berry finally played a decent show which was a pleasure to witness after so many disappointments.

30.9.2000: Holiday Inn Select, Memphis, TN, USA.
Kenneth Lovelace (guitar), B.B. Cunningham (bass), Robert Hall (drums), Bill Strom (organ) Set list: 3 hours of anything the crowd requested. Five years later I still can't beging to do justice to how amazing a show this was. Jerry Lee on his own patch is quite a thing and when he's trying even harder to please the on-looking Sam Phillips, he's even better. Seeing Sam boogie on down was beyond belief and to meet the two of them after the show was a lifetime ambition realised. Read reviews elsewhere on this site for more drooling.

24.02.04: The Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow, Scotland.
Kenneth Lovelace (guitar/fiddle), Jimmy Rip (guitar), B.B. Cunningham (bass), Robert Hall (drums), Bill Strom (organ) Why You Been Gone So Long / C.C. Rider / Blues At Midnight / Why You Been Gone So Long / Sweet Little Sixteen / She Even Woke Me Up To Say Goodbye / Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee / Trouble In Mind / Chantilly Lace / Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On / Great Balls Of Fire Thanks to BMI Baby me and Phil were able to fly to Scotland to stay with Jerry Lee fanatic Des ? JLL was in fine form but it wasn't quite the cracker we'd hoped for. It was great to hear She Even Woke Me Up To Say Goodbye and I also remembered enjoying Why You Been Gone So Long. I was surprised that the crowd wasn't a bit rowdier but this lack of atmosphere probably came hand in hand with the Killers performance. Great to hear Kenny on the fiddle and Jimmy Rip played some tasty licks throughout.

28.02.04: The Opera House, Blackpool, England.
Kenneth Lovelace (guitar/fiddle), Jimmy Rip (guitar), B.B. Cunningham (bass), Robert Hall (drums), Bill Strom (organ) Roll Over Beethoven / No Headstone On My Grave / Why You Been Gone So Long / C.C. Rider / Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee / Before The Night Is Over / Sweet Little Sixteen / Trouble In Mind / Lewis Boogie / Mean Woman Blues / Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On / Great Balls Of Fire A better show than Glasgow, Jerry Lee and the band were cooking in Blackpool. Although the set was pretty much the same, there was a lot more urgency tonight and he had the crowd at fever pitch. A lot of Killer fans met before and after the gig and everyone agreed that Jerry was sounding better than he had for over a decade.

29.02.04: The Carling Apollo, Manchester, England.
Kenneth Lovelace (guitar/fiddle), Jimmy Rip (guitar), B.B. Cunningham (bass), Robert Hall (drums), Bill Strom (organ) Roll Over Beethoven / C.C. Rider / Why You Been Gone So Long / You Win Again / Trouble In Mind / Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee / Sweet Little Sixteen / Chantilly Lace / Lucille / She Even Woke Me Up To Say Goodbye / Before The Night Is Over / Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On / Great Balls Of Fire This show had it all. We got a couple of beautiful country numbers, stinging blues and some hard rock 'n' roll. The crowd were boppin' in the aisles much to the annoyance of the bouncers. There were scuffles to go with the jiving and it all added to the live-wire tension filled atmosphere.

14.07.04: Colston Hall, Bristol, England.
Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee / Lucille / You Win Again / Before The Night Is Over / Sweet Little Sixteen / No Headstone On My Grave / Roll Over Beethoven / Chantilly Lace / Mexicali Rose / C.C. Rider / Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On / Great Balls Of Fire Nice opening to show courtesy of the Sugar Creek Trio who played some firecracker rockabilly. Highlights of Jerry Lee's show were Headstone, You Win Again and a stomping Roll Over Beethoven. During the show he seemed a bit put-out by the sound crew who were trying hard to keep him happy ­ their payment was a comment from Jerry, a sarcastic "everyone thinks he's Sam Phillips" with a sly grim to the audience ­ wonderful. A truly great show with JLL absolutely cooking. Sat in the front row, it was great to see a fire in Jerry's eyes. He's great and he knows it, and on this show it seemed like he wanted everyone else to know it.