I will let This Day in Music trace the barest outline of the extraordinary career of drummer Earl Palmer, who died at age 64 on this day in 2008:
Worked with The Beach Boys, Little Richard (‘Tutti Frutti’), Frank Sinatra, Ike And Tina Turner (‘River Deep, Mountain High’), The Monkees, Fats Domino (‘I’m Walkin’), Neil Young, Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, The Righteous Brothers (‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’), and Randy Newman, Tom Waits, Bonnie Raitt, Tim Buckley, Little Feat and Elvis Costello.
Above and below are interesting, informal videos of Palmer rehearsing with guitarist Deke Dickerson. The other players are Pete Curry on bass, Carl Sonny Leyland on piano, and Ron Dziubla on sax. Above is “I Might Not Come Home at All” and below is “I Get So Lonely.” Palmer is more centrally featured in the bottom clip.
Hudson Music offers an appreciation. Palmer was inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. Wikipedia says he was the first session musician to receive the honor. Here is the start of the Hall’s profile:
Earl Palmer grew up in New Orleans and later moved to Los Angeles, impacting the music scenes in both cities as a first-call session drummer. From 1950 to 1957, Palmer’s powerful backbeat and mastery of second-line shuffle rhythms made him a much in-demand percussionist in his hometown. He was hired by bandleader Dave Bartholomew in 1947 after a stint in the army and recorded extensively with Bartholomew protege Fats Domino, Lloyd Price, Smiley Lewis and other New Orleans artists at Cosimo Matassa’s famed J&M studio. He also played on the seminal rock and roll recordings of Little Richard, who wrote in his autobiography that Palmer “is probably the greatest session drummer of all time.” (Continue Reading…)
This bio says that Carl Perkins gave a lot of credit to Bill Monroe as a grandfather of rockabilly. That’s an example of the beauty of music: The direct line from Monroe– with plenty of contributions from elsewhere, of course — through Perkins and others, to rock-and-roll.
Rockabilly pioneer Carl Perkins lent a helping hand when the two currents that defined Southern music at mid-century – rhythm & blues and country & western – came together as rock and roll. He was a native Tennessean who’d grown up in a sharecropping family near Tiptonville, a farming community in Lake County, north of Memphis. Perkins picked cotton in the fields and learned how to play guitar from a black field hand named John Westbrook. He began performing in the Forties with the Perkins Brothers Band, which included siblings Jay and Clayton. Carl was heavily influenced by bluegrass legend Bill Monroe - “Some of those old songs [of his] are so close to rockabilly it’s scary,” he said – and was right on track with Presley in the synthesis of rock and roll from homegrown elements. (Continue Reading…)
Here is the beginning of Perkins’ bio from AllMusic:
While some ill-informed revisionist writers of rock history would like to dismiss Carl Perkins as a rockabilly artist who became a one hit wonder at the dawn of rock & roll’s early years, a deeper look at his music and career reveals much more. A quick look at his songwriting portfolio shows that he has composed “Daddy Sang Bass” for Johnny Cash, “I Was So Wrong” for Patsy Cline, and “Let Me Tell You About Love” for the Judds, big hits and classics all. His influence as the quintessential rockabilly artist has played a big part in the development of every generation of rocker to come down the pike since, from the Beatles’ George Harrison to the Stray Cats’ Brian Setzer to a myriad of others in the country field as well. His guitar style is the other twin peak — along with that of Elvis’ lead man Scotty Moore — of rockabilly’s instrumental center, so pervasive that modern day players automatically gravitate toward it when called upon to deliver the style, not even realizing that they’re playing Carl Perkins licks, sometimes note for note. As a singer, his interpretation of country ballads is every bit as fine as his better known rockers. And within the framework of the best of his music is a strong sense of family and roots, all of which trace straight back to Carl’s humble beginnings. (Continue Reading…)
Perkins was inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. Above is That’s Alright Mama and below is Matchbox.
This is one of the most interesting bios I’ve read while doing this site. Dick Dale is most associated with the development of surf music. The profile discusses his mid Eastern roots — which explains why Hava Nagila was part of his repertoire — his influence on Jimi Hendrix and others, his pushing the envelop on amplification and his status as one of the godfathers of heavy metal. This is how it starts:
Dick Dale (born Richard Anthony Monsour on May 4, 1937) is a Lebanese American surf rock guitarist, known as The King of the Surf Guitar. He pioneered the surf music style, drawing on Eastern musical scales and experimenting with reverberation. He worked closely with Fender to produce custom made amplifiers, including the first-ever 100-watt guitar amplifier. He pushed the limits of electric amplification technology, helping to develop new equipment that was capable of producing distorted, “thick, clearly defined tones” at “previously undreamed-of volumes.” The “breakneck speed of his single-note staccato picking technique” as well as his showmanship with the guitar is considered a precursor to heavy metal music, influencing guitarists such as Jimi Hendrix and Eddie Van Halen. (Continue Reading…)
AllMusic chimes in:
Dick Dale wasn’t nicknamed “King of the Surf Guitar” for nothing: he pretty much invented the style single-handedly, and no matter who copied or expanded upon his blueprint, he remained the fieriest, most technically gifted musician the genre ever produced. Dale‘s pioneering use of Middle Eastern and Eastern European melodies (learned organically through his familial heritage) was among the first in any genre of American popular music, and predated the teaching of such “exotic” scales in guitar-shredder academies by two decades. The breakneck speed of his single-note staccato picking technique was unrivalled until it entered the repertoires of metal virtuosos like Eddie Van Halen, and his wild showmanship made an enormous impression on the young Jimi Hendrix. But those aren’t the only reasons Dale was once called the father of heavy metal. Working closely with the Fender company, Dalecontinually pushed the limits of electric amplification technology, helping to develop new equipment that was capable of producing the thick, clearly defined tones he heard in his head, at the previously undreamed-of volumes he demanded. He also pioneered the use of portable reverb effects, creating a signature sonic texture for surf instrumentals. And, if all that weren’t enough, Dale managed to redefine his instrument while essentially playing it upside-down and backwards — he switched sides in order to play left-handed, but without re-stringing it (as Hendrix later did). (Continue Reading…)
Here is Dale’s site and an interesting clip of his views on the music business. Above is a medly comprised of Surfin’ & Swingin’, Misirlou and Wedge. Below is Hava Nagila. A site called Rocktober did a long interview with Dale in 1994.
How could a song with these lyrics not be on the list of the best ever? Perhaps some of the younger visitors to the site aren’t familiar with them, so here they are:
I took my troubles down to Madame Rue
You know that gypsy with the gold-capped tooth
She’s got a pad down on Thirty-Fourth and Vine
Sellin’ little bottles of Love Potion Number Nine
I told her that I was a flop with chics
I’ve been this way since 1956
She looked at my palm and she made a magic sign
She said “What you need is Love Potion Number Nine”
She bent down and turned around and gave me a wink
She said “I’m gonna make it up right here in the sink”
It smelled like turpentine, it looked like Indian ink
I held my nose, I closed my eyes, I took a drink
I didn’t know if it was day or night
I started kissin’ everything in sight
But when I kissed a cop down on Thirty-Fourth and Vine
He broke my little bottle of Love Potion Number Nine
Love Potion No. 9 was written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller and originally performed by The Clovers. That version was done in a more doo-wop style and shows how music was changing. It also shows how a good song can cross boundaries.
Wikipedia lists 25 covers of note of the song, by everyone from Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass to Robert Plant. I know of one other: Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs — famous for Wooly Bully — also sang Love Potion No. 9. One of my earliest memories is my parents buying the album for my brother in Stamford, CT. I am younger and I believe got a baseball bat.
Here is the beginning of Wikipedia’s entry on The Searchers:
The Searchers is an English beat group, which emerged as part of the 1960s Merseybeat scene along with the Beatles, the Hollies, the Fourmost, the Merseybeats, the Swinging Blue Jeans, and Gerry and the Pacemakers.
The band’s hits include a remake of the Drifters’ 1961 hit, “Sweets for My Sweet”; remakes of Jackie DeShannon’s “Needles and Pins” and “When You Walk In The Room”; an original song written for them, “Sugar and Spice”; the Orlons’ “Don’t Throw Your Love Away”; and a cover of the Clovers’ “Love Potion No. 9″. They were the second group from Liverpool, after the Beatles, to have a hit in the United States when “Needles and Pins” charted during the first week of March 1964. (Continue Reading…)
Needles and Pins (below) was written by Sonny Bono and Jack Nitzche. It originally was a hit for Jackie DeShannon.
Yesterday was the 54th anniversary of the plane crash that took the lives of Buddy Holly, The Big Booper and Richie Valens. Here is the entire story at Wikipedia. The name of the link is, of course, is from the Don McLean song American Pie, which references the tragedy.
Above is Holly (Charles Hardin Holley) performing Peggy Sue on Arthur Murray’s Dance Party in late 1957. The Big Bopper — Jiles Perry “J. P.” Richardson, Jr. — performs Chantilly Lace on The Dick Clark Show in 1958. I couldn’t find any video of Valens (Richard Steven Valenzuela), but here is La Bamba which, of course, was the signature song of a career ended far too early. The Des Moines Register offered some thoughts on the influence of the three in 2009.