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Robben Ford: From Miles Davis to KISS

It’s interesting to see the wide divergence of acts with whom talented musicians played during their studio days, if they had any. Little Feat’s Lowell George, for instance, had two Franks on his resume — Sinatra and Zappa. That said, it’s still funny to learn that Robben Ford played with Miles Davis and KISS. (I am not sure which came first, but wonder if he ever accidentally started playing bits of “Love Gun” or “Rock ‘N Roll All Nite” when he was improvising alongside Davis. From what we know about Davis, it seems pretty clear that he wouldn’t have been amused.)

Ford was born in Riverside and raised in Ukiah, CA. His first guitar hero was Michael Bloomfield and his first band was The Charles Ford Blues Band, which was formed with his brothers Mark and Patrick and named after their father. It still performs at The Ford Blues Band.

Ford got his first high profile gig when he and Mark joined harmonica legend Charlie Musselwhite at age 18. His move to jazz and the broadened horizon for which he is known is tied to his membership in the L.A. Express, the Tom Scott band that backed George Harrison on his 1974 tour and played on two important Joni Mitchell albums, “The Hissing of Summer Lawns” and “Miles of Aisles.” Musician magazine named Ford one of the 100 greatest guitarists of the 20th century.

In a story written for The Patriot Ledger that posted this week, Ford – who was to perform last night in Falls River, MA — said that he continues to grow as a song writer at age 63 and that he considers his latest album, “Into the Stars,” to be among his best. If the album does nothing else, it shows that Ford has the respect of the heavyweights: It features Warren Haynes, Sonny Landreth, Robert Randolph, Keb’ Mo’ and others.

An interesting side note is that Ford’s nephew is Little Feat drummer Gabe Ford.

Above is “Freedom” and below is “Cannonball Shuffle.”

Robben Ford’s site, Wikipedia and The Wicked Local were used to write this post.

Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

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.

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

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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.

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