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I Forget…What Was the Name of Bill Wyman’s Old Band?

I vaguely remember that Bill Wyman played bass in a band that was popular decades ago. They had some pretty big hits, as I recall. They say that the fellows get together again once in a while, when they need money or miss the attention they got during the Johnson administration.

Think of it this way: Bill Wyman has not been a Rolling Stone for more than 25 years. The band he has been a member of since then — Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings — has featured very familiar names as members and guests. Touring members have included Albert Lee, Beverly Skeete (featured in the great “Green River” cover above) and Gary U.S. Bonds. Among Wyman’s  studio guests are Eric Clapton, Tommy Emmanuel, Peter Frampton, George Harrison, Mark Knopfler, Mick Taylor, Odetta, Nicky Hopkins, Chris Stainton and Ray Cooper. Click here (iTunes) or on the image (Amazon) for the band’s live album.
I suspect that it is performance art, however. The old band was very much of its time. The themes were infantile teenage posturing, cool clothes, drugs and lots of gratuitous sex. Skipping ahead fifty years to see how the band members would deal with current times — in which those pursuits are frowned upon and they have become old men — is a tremendous comedic concept. Too bad Peter Sellers is no longer with us. He would have been perfect for the lead role.

Actually, Mick Jagger is aware of all this and has a sense of humor about it. The star of this this short video is Charlie Watts, however.

I think I might like the Rhythm Kings more than the Stones, at least the band as it was after 1980 or so — and certainly more than the recent Stonesmania version.

Bill Wyman has seen it all. The main take away from Patrick Doyle’s excellent interview in Rolling Stone last year was that he was not pleased to be asked to play on only two songs during the concerts in London in 2012. It’s an understatement to say that he has a point. Maybe the powers-that-be in the Stones’ hierarchy wanted to prove that age hasn’t reduced their ability to act like jerks. The entire interview is worth reading.

Above, the Rhythm Kings — with Peter Frampton sitting in — do a great version of Credence Clearwater Revival’s “Green River.” Below is “Chicken Shack Boogie.” I was guessing that it was a Louis Jordan song, but it was written by Amos Milburn.

(Homepage photo: Jacco Barth, info from Wikipedia was used in the blue box.)

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Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.


The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.