Friday, December 31, 2010

Big Boss Man

... and I do mean BIG... ok, enough cheap jokes on Elvis' weight...and while we're on the subject of the King, and it being conveniently New Year's Eve, here's Elvis' last NYE concert in Pittsburg in 1976. Enjoy, take care, don't party too hard, and we'll see you next year...oh, and keep on rockin'!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Secret Agent Man

Today in rock history, in 1970, Elvis Presley paid a visit to President Richard M. Nixon at the White House in Washington, D.C. The meeting was initiated by Presley, who wrote Nixon a six-page letter requesting a visit with the President and suggesting that he be made a "Federal Agent-at-Large" in the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.

Seems incredible, but it’s true! The back story is the following: On December 19, 1970, Presley was confronted by his wife, Priscilla, and his father, Vernon, over his spending habits. Angered by their confrontation, Presley left Graceland and made his way to the airport, boarding a flight to Washington D.C. After checking into the Hotel Washington, Presley flew to Los Angeles to meet his friend Jerry Schilling.

Due to an allergic reaction Presley experienced with medication for an eye infection, aggravated by chocolate that he ate on the plane, a rash had developed on his face and neck. After seeing a doctor and getting some sleep, Presley informed Schilling that he wanted to return to Washington D.C., and arranged for another friend, Sonny West, to meet them. On the flight Presley met California senator George Murphy. Presley showed an interest in acquiring a Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs badge, and Murphy suggested that Presley write to President Nixon offering his services to help combat illicit drug use. Presley wrote a letter on the plane and hand delivered it to the White House at 6.30am on the morning of December 21.

A few hours later Presley visited the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs headquarters in Washington D.C., meeting with Deputy Director John Finlator. He was unsuccessful in persuading Finlator to give him a BNDD badge. Schilling received a call at the hotel from Egil Krogh, President Nixon's deputy counsel, to arrange a meeting between Presley and Nixon. After picking up Schilling and West from the hotel, Presley made his way to the White House. (He came bearing gifts for the President, once of which was a silver-plated Colt 45 revolver – can you imaging trying to wander into the White House packin’ heat in this day and age – you’d be shot on sight! Ah well, it was 1970!). All three met with Nixon and received gifts. Presley persuaded Nixon to give him a BNDD badge, and after an official photograph was taken, the trio left, with Presley returning to Graceland the following day.

On December 30, Presley returned to Washington D.C. with a few friends to visit the National Sheriffs Association head office. The next day they were given a tour of FBI headquarters, where Presley offered his services as an undercover agent. Despite never getting to meet FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, Presley did receive a letter from him on January 4, 1971, acknowledging his offer of assistance.

And that, thankfully, was the end of that – Elvis undoubtedly moved on to other things, and a national crisis was averted!

This song by Johnny Rivers seems appropriate, and is incidentally one of the songs on the set list when I played my first ever paying gig with my band “The Rebellious Revelles” in Fall of 1965.

Thanks to, and keep on rockin’!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I'm a King Bee

For this week’s blues spotlight, we focus on Slim Harpo (January 11, 1924 – January 31, 1970). He was an American blues musician. He was known as a master of the blues harmonica and the name "Slim Harpo" was derived from "harp," the popular nickname for the harmonica in blues circles. Born James Moore in Lobdell, Louisiana, the eldest in an orphaned family, he worked as a longshoreman and building worker during the late 1930s and early 1940s. He began performing in Baton Rouge bars under the name Harmonica Slim and later accompanied his brother-in-law, Lightnin' Slim, both live and in the studio. Named Slim Harpo by producer J.D. "Jay" Miller, he started his own recording career in 1957. His solo debut was the Grammy Hall of Fame single "I'm a King Bee" backed with "I Got Love If You Want It. Harpo recorded under A&R man J.D. "Jay" Miller, in Crowley, Louisiana for Excello Records based in Nashville, Tennessee, and enjoyed a string of popular R&B singles, including Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee "Rainin' In My Heart" (1961) and the number one Billboard R&B hit "Baby Scratch My Back" (1966). On these recordings he was accompanied by the regular stable of Excello musicians, including Lazy Lester. British rock bands like The Rolling Stones, The Pretty Things, The Yardbirds, Pink Floyd and Them featured versions of his songs in their early repertoires. Later, the riff from Harpo's 1966 hit "Shake Your Hips", which itself was derivative of Bo Diddley's "Bring It to Jerome," was used in the ZZ Top hit "La Grange" and the Rolling Stones covered the song on their 1972 album Exile On Main Street. Also, Th' Legendary Shack Shakers covered and released "Shake Your Hips" in 2003 on their album Cockadoodledon't. Never a full-time musician, Harpo had his own trucking business during the 1960s. He died following a heart attack at the age of 46, and was buried in Mulatto Bend Cemetery in Port Allen, Louisiana. Let's enjoy Slim's “I'm a King Bee,” the song that was the inspiration for “The Blues Brothers.” Thanks to for the info, and keep on rockin’!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Come Together...

This was one of John's favorite songs..."It was a funky record - it's one of my favorite Beatles tracks, or, one of my favorite Lennon tracks, let's say that. It's funky, it's bluesy, and I'm singing it pretty well. I like the sound of the record. You can dance to it. I'll buy it!" RIP John, can't believe it's been 30 years, I still love and miss you madly. Thanks to "Classic Rock Stories," by Tim Morse, St Martin's Griffin, New York, 1998, for the info, and keep on rockin'!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Tighten Up Your Wig...

For this week's blues artist spotlight, we turn to Junior Wells. "Junior," (December 9, 1934 – January 15, 1998[1]), born Amos Wells Blakemore Jr.,was a blues vocalist and harmonica player and recording artist based in Chicago, who was also famous for playing with Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Bonnie Raitt, The Rolling Stones and Van Morrison. In Aces Wild we cover his "Messin' with the Kid." What I want to highlight today, though, is a song by Steppenwolf called "Tighten Up Your Wig," which is really "Messin'" with different words - John Kay does acknowledge Junior Wells in the lyrics to the song, and that he "stole this from him, and he from someone else". Just goes to show,again, how riffs and ideas for songs are freely lifted from what has come before (I will freely acknowledge that I steal my chord progressions from Buddy Holly). Check out the Steppenwolf song along with Junior's orginal, and come listen to Aces Wild's version live at the Hidden Harbor Bar in St. Paul Park on 12-11. Thanks to for the info, and keep on rockin'!