Get this crazy baby off my head!


Ken Arconti

Ken Arconti - Samsara Blues - 2003 - Jungle Beach Records

A real classy all instrumental album from the prominent and very talented Bay Area guitarist, Ken Arconti. Here he covers ballads, smooth jazz, rock, funk, and bossa nova. The blues are always beneath the surface. A great eclectic track selection, with all the tracks composed by Ken. The album also includes musicians like bassist, Dewayne Pate, who has played with the mighty axeman, Robben Ford. John R. Burr, on keyboards has also played with Robben Ford. Saxophonist, Tom Politzer has played with the great Tower Of Power, and the fabulous drummer, David Rokeach has played for artists of the calibre of Aretha Franklin, and Ray Charles. Great album with great songs, a brilliant lead guitarist, and a top notch backing band. If you want a more blues rock sound from Ken Arconti, listen to his "As The Years Go Passing By" album @ KENARCON/ATYGPB


In the Loop
Rise and Shine
Turn the Page
There Once Was an Angel
At Your Beck and Call
Detour on Green Street
Dreamin' About You
For Those Who Cry Inside
Samsara Blues
Until We Meet Again

All songs composed by Ken Arconti


Ken Arconti - guitar
Dewayne Pate - bass (Robben Ford, Chris Cain)
John R. Burr - keyboards (Alison Brown, Robben Ford)
David Rokeach - drums (Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles)
David "Pacha" Alvarez S. - congas & percussion (Sista Monica, Con Corazon)
Tom Politzer - tenor & alto saxophone (Tower of Power, Spang-A-Lang)


Guitarist/vocalist Ken Arconti is a native Californian who has performed in the San Francisco Bay Area for over 20 years. At home in almost any musical environment, his playing is filled with passion, sensitivity and soulful lyricism. .Ken began playing guitar at the age of 11. He was soon performing in bands and absorbing the sounds of the '60s. Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, the soul sounds of Stax & Motown, the blues of B.B. and Albert King, and jazz artists Miles Davis and Wes Montgomery were all influences.In 1978, Ken moved from his home of Los Angeles to Santa Cruz and began playing in clubs around the Bay Area. He has performed everything from country to jazz, to top-40 rock, to rhythm & blues. Well known for his blues playing, Ken has performed repeatedly at the Monterey Bay Blues Festival. The list of artists he has opened for reads like a "Who's Who" of the Blues: Robert Cray, Buddy Guy, John Lee Hooker, Albert Collins, Junior Wells, Johnny Copeland, Clarence Gatemouth Brown, John Mayall, Charlie Musselwhite, Robben Ford, Duke Robillard, Ronnie Earl, and Roomful of Blues, to name a few. He has also recorded/performed with the Broadway Blues Band, Terry Hanck & the Soul Rockers, the Chris Cobb Band, The Mighty Penguins, and legendary New Orleans funk drummer Zigaboo Modeliste (the Meters).As well as performing, Ken carries a steady clientele of devoted guitar students. He taught in the California Arts In Corrections Program from 1992 to 2003, teaching guitar, music theory and improvisation at Soledad Prison. He was the recipient of a prestigious Artist in Residence Grant from the California Arts Council from 1999 to 2002, establishing a multi-cultural music/band program at Salinas Valley State Prison, which was featured in the 2002 VH1 documentary "Music Behind Bars." © 1996 - 2009 CD Universe; Portions copyright 1948 - 2009 Muze Inc

Jay LaBoy

Hurricane Jay LaBoy & In Step - Step Aside - 1999 - Orchard Records

Jay LaBoy has been nominated for two Abilene Awards for Best Guitarist in Philadelphia and was chosen as Artist of the Month by PhillyBlues.com. Jay has shared the stage and studio with players like Jeff Pitchell, Jimi Bell, the legendary Jimmy Dawkins, Jefre Washington, Doug LaChapelle, Buddy Cash, Burt Teague, Marc Iezzi and many more amazing artists. In his nearly 20 year career, Jay has toured the world and performed for thousands of fans. His CD releases, no matter what band he was with at the time, have received rave reviews from each and every music lover that has heard Jay's songs and his fiery guitar playing. © 1997-2009 SoundClick Inc. All rights reserved

"Step Aside" is a great album of emotional blues and fiery rock . A mix of slow and gentle tracks, upbeat cruisin' music, and powerful guitar driven rockers. Buy the band's great "Pure Soul" album.


1. My Baby
2. Borrowed Time
3. Eye Of The Hurricane
4. Goin' Home
5. Better Thangs
6. A Blues Prayer
7. If You Need Me
8. Step Aside
9. Time Don't Wait For No One
10. Old Man By The Sea
11. Long Time, No See
12. I Ain't Cryin' (I Kept My Money In My Shoe)
13. Blue Wind

All tracks composed or co-written by Jay LaBoy


"Hurricane" Jay LaBoy (voc, g)
Michael Quintero - Moore (b)
Glenn Webb (dr)
Jimmy Dawkins (voc on 12+13, g on 13) - Special Guest

About Hurricane Jay LaBoy & In Step

Ask musician "Hurricane" Jay LaBoy who his influences are, and he doesn't hesitate. "Stevie Ray Vaughan was probably the reason I'm playing guitar and the reason I'm alive right now," he says emphatically. LaBoy took his love of Vaughan's music and turned it into a career, performing in a tribute act that began last year. Since then, he has expanded his repertoire to include a variety of Texas-style blues and more. "It's kind of like a blues rock sound," he explains. "It's a Stevie Ray style with a little bit of funk thrown in. The good thing about my band is the three of us have different backgrounds, interests and tastes. When we write a song, we have a bunch of different chefs putting in a bunch of different ingredients. It comes out as blues rock funk, feel good music...We do the tribute stuff a lot, but we've since expanded. We do a bunch of other artists, too. Johnny Lang is a big influence on me. We also do Eric Clapton, Elvis, stuff like that." Joining LaBoy in his group In Step are Michael Quintero-Moore on bass and vocals and Glenn Webb on drums. While the Philadelphia-based band just gelled last June, the musicians all have extensive experience. Quintero-Moore, known as "The Rev." for his gospel-like way of singing, has an especially impressive resume, having performed with a diverse group of musicians, including Eddie Money, Sheena Easton and Johnny Mathis. Currently working on their debut CD, Step Aside, which they hope to release this month, the band performs throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. At each show, they strive to connect with the audience. Notes LaBoy, "We want to be accessible. A lot of bands you see, they come off stage and they don't talk to people or they don't want to be bothered. We try and go around to everybody and anybody that comes up to us, we don't turn them away. We thank them for coming. We try to be the most down-to-earth band we can." They also try to have fun at each performance, something that comes naturally, LaBoy states. "We love to play. We have a lot of energy and a good chemistry with each other. We understand each other and we're like a family. We've been in other bands and we've all come to realize, if you don't like the people you're playing with, the music's going to suffer. Our energy shows on stage. We have a good time and that comes across on stage. We have a blast playing." © Catherine Scharnberger, © 2009 Sapphire media, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Maggie Bell

Maggie Bell - The River Sessions - 2004 - River Records

Scottish soul-rock singer Maggie Bell first gained prominence singing with Stone the Crows, which released its first album in 1970 and broke up in June 1973. Bell went solo with Queen of the Night (featuring the U.S. number 97 "After Midnight") in 1974, followed by Suicide Sal, both of which charted in the U.S. Her only U.K. chart singles came with "Hazell" (number 37) in 1978, and a duet with B.A. Robertson, "Hold Me" (number 11), in 1981. © William Ruhlmann, All Music Guide
The great Scottish blues lady Maggie Bell's career has been a long and very distinguished one. Her work with the legendary Stone The Crows, an impressive solo back catalogue and the obscure but impressive Midnight Flyer has established Maggie as one of the finest and most important and influential female blues/rock vocalists of the last 40 years. This album was recorded on Maggie's home ground, at the Pavillion, Glasgow, Scotland on 1.11.93. The album is composed of mainly cover versions of classic soul blues, and rock 'n' roll songs, like "Try A Little Tenderness", "Blue Suede Shoes", "Ain´t No Love In The Heart Of The City", and "Only Woman Bleed". This lady injects a passion into her singing, and it is a joy to hear these classic songs sung by the Scottish "Queen Of The Night". The great "Midnight Flyer (With Maggie Bell)" album is @ MAGBEL/MIDFL Maggie's "Live Boston Usa 1975" album is located @ MAGBEL/BOSTUS75 and check out Stone The Crows' "Niagara" album @ MAGBEL/STC/NIAG


1. Introduction/Blue Suede Shoes (Perkins)
2. Try A Little Tenderness (Campbell, Connelly, Woods)
3. As The Years Go Passing By (Malone)
4. Only Woman Bleed (Kooper, Wagner)
5. Ain´t No Love In The Heart Of The City (Price, Walsh)
6. Good Man Monologue (Womack)
7. Trade Winds (McDonalds, Salter)
8. No Mean City (Moran)
9. Every Little Bit Hurts (Cobb)
10. That´s The Way I Feel (Sanders, Seskin)


Maggie Bell - Vocals
Ronnie Caryl - Guitars, Vocals
Paul Francis - Bass
Chris Parren - Keyboards
Jeff Seopardie - Drums, Vocals
Pat Crumley - Saxophone


12 January 1945, Glasgow, Scotland. Bell's career began in the mid-60s as the featured singer in several resident dancehall bands. She made her recording debut in 1966, completing two singles with Bobby Kerr under the name Frankie And Johnny. Bell then joined guitarist Leslie Harvey, another veteran of the same circuit, in Power, a hard rock outfit that evolved into Stone The Crows. This earthy, soul-based band, memorable for Harvey's imaginative playing and Bell's gutsy, heartfelt vocals, became a highly popular live attraction and helped the singer win several accolades. Bell's press release at the time insisted that she would loosen her vocal chords by gargling with gravel! Harvey, who was Bell's boyfriend at the time, was tragically electrocuted on stage in 1972. The band, still rocked by his death, split up the following year. Bell, now managed by Peter Grant, embarked on a solo career with Queen Of The Night, which was produced in New York by Jerry Wexler and featured the cream of the city's session musicians. The anticipated success did not materialize and further releases failed to reverse this trend. The singer did have a minor UK hit with "Hazell" (1978), the theme tune to a popular television series, but "Hold Me", a tongue-in-cheek duet with B.A. Robertson, remains her only other chart entry. Bell subsequently fronted a new group, Midnight Flyer, but this tough, highly underrated singer, at times redolent of Janis Joplin, has been unable to secure a distinctive career and can still be seen on the blues club circuit. Her interpretations of songs such as Free's "Wishing Well" and Lennon/McCartney's "I Saw Her Standing There" are excellent. Bell's greatest asset remains her uncompromisingly foxy voice. [ From The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze ]


Texas Son

Texas Son - Bootleg Blues Guitar - 1996 - Red Lick Records

Welcome to the world of one serious Telecaster Blues Master.... Just when you think you've heard it all, out of the blue(s) comes a righteous blues guitar slinger named TEXAS SON. The SON has been slingin' his trademark TELECASTER in various blues bars and juke joints in Upstate New York over the past couple of decades, travelling to other cities up & down the east coast through Texas, and has opened for (or jammed with) Roomful of Blues, Savoy Brown, Mick Clarke, Elvin Bishop, Robert Gordon, Ronnie Earl, Duke Robillard, Anson Funderburgh, Robben Ford, Paul Delay Band, Joe Beard plus many others. There is no denying just how good the TEXAS SON can burn on the blues. He takes a mature, traditional approach with a relaxed air of authority, combining a very original style inspired by his many influences (although not a copycat) and a killer guitar tone to boot - and he does it all with only his fingers, hence the name of one of his discs - "BAREHAND BLUES". If you're into Roy Buchanan, Johnny Winter, Billy Gibbons, S.R.V., Clapton, Albert Collins, Duke Robillard, then you need to tune into the pure heavy blues guitar magic of Texas Son. © 2008 Texas Son - All Rights Reserved.

Here's one for you guitar freaks. Texas Son (Dave D`Angelico), is one of the hottest bluesmen in New York at the present time and this is his first album. Originally influenced by Johnny Winter and Billy Gibbons, he now gets his inspiration from the blues of Clarence Edwards. But don't expect to hear any pure downhome blues here, this boy likes to rock out! He puts me in mind of the Texas guitar legend Bugs Henderson in his approach. He leads a powerful trio who thunder along on the straight Texas boogies like "Leavin' you Baby" but provide the right smoky atmosphere on the slow, smoldering blues of "Ghost Blues" or "Chester's Blues". They are a perfect rhythm and they don't get in the way of Texas Son and his snappy, forceful style. And does he like to let loose! Just listen to the funky stabbing lead guitar on "Sugarsweet" (you get two chances to hear it on this disc, the studio version has it just over the live one i think) and he gets a nice fat Jimmie Vaughan tone on the rockin' instrumental "Rattlesnake". He may live in New York but his heart is in Texas. There's hints of Freddy King, and Stevie Ray Vaughan at times and he even has a bash at a Z.Z. TOP tune, but once he's got that outta the way, Texas Son does his own thang and does it in style. This is an impressive debut album. The packaging is pretty basic - well, it's called "Bootleg Blues Guitar" - but it's the music that counts and fans of heavy blues guitar will be knocked out with this one. © 2008 Texas Son - All Rights Reserved.

A great debut album from Texas Son ((Dave D`Angelico). Mostly original tracks with three great covers and a few killer instrumental tracks. If you like guitarists in the style of S.R.V.,Albert King, or Johnny Winter, you may like this power blues rock album. Check out Texas Son's "Gun Barrel Blues" album. A big thanks to Zivoin who sent A.O.O.F.C the band info.


1. Sugarsweet
2. I'm Leavin' You Babe
3. Rattlesnake
4. Wildcattin'
5. Ain't No Reason Why
6. She Loves My Automobile
7. Chester's Blues
8. Bradshaw Boogie
9. Sandy's Shuffle
10. Rattle & Roll
11. Shoot Too High
12. Ghost Blues
13. Sugarsweet

BAND [ Thanks Zivoin, for band info, and other links]

Texas Son - Bootleg Blues Guitar
Dave D'Angelico (guitar & vocals)
Dave Dimarzio (?), Mike Patric, Harry Ford (bass)
Dean Miller, Charlie Rau, John Chaffer, Carlos Grillo (drums)


Texas Son (aka Dave D'Angelico) is a hard hitting blues guitarist who fronts and sings in his own group. He was spotlighted in guitar player magazine a few years back and recently finished his first CD, Bootleg Blues Guitar, which is currently in the Top 10 in Europe and reached #3 in March. Blues Access Magazine and Blues Review both gave it very good reviews. So if Texas Son isn't actually performing everyplace, at least his name and music are certainly popping up all over. He is currently working on his next CD with special guest Ronnie Sterling lending a hand. Texas Son has performed at some noted blues clubs in New York City and around here plays from Syracuse to Buffalo and other zones in between. Texas Son has an interesting sound, always a three piece "Texas-styled" blues band with lately a second guitar or keyboard joining the jam on stage. © 1997 By FREETIME Magazine, All Rights Reserved


Mick Ralphs

Mick Ralphs - It's All Good - 2001 - Angel Air

This agreeable instrumental outing from Bad Company's longtime guitar ace will likely find its greatest favor with guitar and home recording buffs of all stripes. He plays everything here, except for a bluesy, stampeding version of "Hideaway" taped on Bad Company's 1999 reunion tour. Ralphs ignites his renowned blues-rock muse on "S.E.X." and "Train Wreck," while "Don't Need Money" is a funkier display of his signature piercing licks. He drops the gears down a notch on the aptly titled "Atmosphere" before winding back into "Coming Up the Hill"'s more mid-tempo territory. He also proves himself to be a fair piano player on the mid-tempo cocktail piece "Large!" and its slinkier cousin, "Jessica." A couple of these efforts are too cursory to make an impression, such as "Gravy Booby" and "More S.E.X.," which is "S.E.X." minus the guitars. Otherwise, this album brims with the joy of someone stretching out for the sheer bloody fun of it. © Ralph Heibutzki, allmusic.com

This album was described as "shit" by one reviewer. Hardly a constructive critique of a good album. This is certainly not an album in the style of Bad Company, or Mott The Hoople, but Mick Ralphs lays down some good melodies, and there is plenty of his skilful guitar playing. The album covers blues rock, boogie, jazz, jazz fusion and Mick Ralph, himself said that "the mission of It’s All Good is "thought, feel and melody rather than speed". A minor quibble with "It's All Good" is that some of the tracks are very short, and could have been developed more. However it's a good, inventive album with plenty of good musical ideas, and very enjoyable. Listen to Mick's "Take This!" album, and check out some of his work with Bad Company, and Mott The Hoople


Barking Mad
Don't Need Money
Hideaway (Bad Company live) - Recorded live on the 1999 Bad Company tour with drummer, Simon Kirke and bassist, Boz Burrell.
Jazz Wah
Train Wreck
Gravy Booby
Coming Up The Hill
More S.E.X

All songs composed by Mick Ralphs, except "Hideaway" by Freddie King. All instrumentation by Mick Ralphs, except on "Hideaway"


A founding member in both Mott The Hoople and Bad Company, guitar icon Mick Ralphs recently released a 2001 instrumental studio album on U.K.-based Angel Air Records. Angel Air have released several Ralph’s related titles including a 1999 reissue of his Take This album as well as a pair of Mott The Hoople CDs. According to Ralphs, the mission of It’s All Good is "thought, feel and melody rather than speed". It’s All Good was recorded over the past couple years and, in addition to 11 Ralphs originals, also features a rousing cover of the Freddie King track "Hideaway", taken from the 1999 Bad Company reunion tour. The bluesy, all-instrumental album finds Ralphs in a rocked-out, playful frame of mind, underscored by the CD artwork picturing Mick superimposed amid palm tree filled photos of a Ralphs supermarket in L.A. Performing all the instruments himself (except on the live Bad Company track with Simon Kirke and Boz Burrell), Ralphs comes off like a sonically potent one man band getting maximum impact out of his Gibson and Fender guitars. © 2000-2002 MWE3.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved

...miles better than its predecessor...This is clearly an album by a man enjoying himself once more, enjoying putting down an album's worth of music he loves...this has been well worth the wait...Recommended. © Adrian Perkins

...it's his use of catchy hooks, memorable melodies and of course his top notch guitar playing that leaves you with a feeling of enjoyment after listening to this excellent CD...Another future classic from the Angel Air stable, packaged as usual to their usual high standards. © James R Turner, Wondrous Stories, December 2001

This skilfully crafted instrumental set was assembled by Bad Company guitarist Ralphs who also tossed in a live track from the band's 1999 US tour as an added appetizer.
© Kevin Bryan, Retford Times, April 2002

Rich in ideas and full of the most flavoursome playing this is a delightful album... © Peter French, Hartlepool Mail, July 2002

This is nice; in fact this is very nice...The way it has been put together is nothing short of inspirational, I just love it...It's a joy to listen to laid back with a beer; it's the way life should be. There is a passion flowing from the instruments which were all played by Mick (except the Bad Company song) and he even did the artwork for the cover. I have to say this is a sensational instrumental album. © Modern Dance, August 2002

...a fabulously evocative record, the sort of controlled masterpiece of which most guitar heroes ar capable but that few actually get 'round to recording....some of the tracks here rate alongside any of the masterpieces for which he is otherwise justly feted.... © Jo-Ann Greene, Goldmine, February 2002


Mick Ralphs is one of British rock music's most tasteful and understated guitarists, from the same 'school' as Joe Walsh and Mick Ronson where, thankfully, the mission statement is thought, feel and melody rather than speed. Ralphs' attributes, and his ability to 'play for the song', are amply displayed on his recordings with Mott The Hoople and Bad Company, but this enhanced CD re-issue by Angel Air Records - (containing the original Take This! LP, two unissued tracks, 'All Across The Nile' and 'Rock 'n' Roller', plus several work- in-progress mixes) showcases his solo compositions and further illustrates his redoubtable playing skills. Born and raised in Herefordshire, an English county that nurtured and brought together the musicians that would become Mott The Hoople, one of rock's most inspirational bands, Mick was something of a late-comer to music, learning guitar when he was eighteen years of age. His musical influences included Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran, Buddy Holly, Ricky Nelson ('mainly for the guitar playing of James Burton'), Buffalo Springfield and Mountain guitarist Leslie West. Ralphs' early groups were The Mighty Atom Dance Band and The Melody Makers before he joined The Buddies, in 1964, who made one single featuring the Ralphs/Norman composition 'It's Goodbye', Mick's first recorded work. Future 'Motts' Stan Tippins (vocals) and Peter Overend Watts (bass) joined The Buddies and worked continuously with Ralphs until 1969 when Guy Stevens signed them to Island Records, thanks predominantly to Mick's relentless determination. The Buddies were a slick beat outfit who quickly obtained regular work in Germany and Italy and would travel to and from the continent, ultimately using other band names including The Doc Thomas Group and Problem as 'flags of convenience' - (please consult the sleeve notes to Angel Air's stunning 2 on 1 CD - Doc Thomas Group The Italian Job and The Silence Shotgun Eyes - for an extensive history of Ralphs' early years). After recording The Doc Thomas Group album in Milan in 1966 and making two subsequent appearances on RAI Television (by which time drummer Dale Griffin had also joined DTG), Mick worked with future Mott The Hoople organist Verden Allen in Jimmy Cliff's backing band, The Shakedown Sound. Eventually Ralphs, Tippins, Watts, Griffin and Allen joined forces and became Silence, who auditioned for Guy Stevens. Between 1969 and 1974, Mott The Hoople created astounding music. Fired by the powerful, percipient writing of vocalist Ian Hunter and buoyed by Mick's blistering guitar playing, they cemented their position as one of the most influential British rock acts of the decade and unquestionably THE precursors to punk. Ralphs contributed some of Mott's best material including 'Rock And Roll Queen', 'Half Moon Bay', 'Thunderbuck Ram', 'Whiskey Women', 'Midnight Lady', 'The Moon Upstairs', 'Moving On', 'Ready For Love' and 'One Of The Boys'. After four critically acclaimed but poor selling albums with Island Records, Mott The Hoople switched to Columbia and found increased commercial success with All The Young Dudes and Mott, the latter showcasing some of Mick's most inspired guitar work. The future looked assured but suddenly, in August 1973, after the first stage of a major headlining American tour to promote Mott, Ralphs left to form Bad Company with Free vocalist Paul Rodgers and drummer Simon Kirke. Mott had toured the UK with Rodgers' group Peace as their support act in 1971. Overend Watts, Mott's bass player, would soon decline an offer to join Bad Company. Ian Hunter confesses that he did everything possible to convince Ralphs to remain in Mott The Hoople. 'I didn't want Mick to leave. I spent three hours with him trying to talk him out of it, but it was getting ridiculous. I even offered him half my royalties on a total co-writer basis and he was writing maybe an eighth of what I was writing. I believe in Mick Ralphs. His taste is impeccable, that's why I say he's one of the best guitar players there is.' Various 'public explanations' were given for Ralphs' departure including lack of recognition and his fear of flying, but Mick admits he really left Mott The Hoople because fundamentally he felt the group had changed. 'We'd struggled all these years to have a hit and Ian was on a roll writing hit singles, but I'd started writing songs and didn't think they would fit in the vehicle known as Mott The Hoople. Also, as much as we were having success, the success was because we were writing songs like 'Honaloochie Boogie' and we'd lost a bit of the wildness. 'Mott survived on struggle, adversity and disappointment and that gave us the spirit to carry on. We'd always said, sod convention, sod the system, but there comes a point where you can't be famous and be like that. We were always the underdog and that was part of the reason we were so spirited and so exciting. And then we got into this thing with David Bowie, which was a great success and helped everyone, but in a way we'd become part of the system we were always dead against. We'd had success, but there was a different feeling in the band and it was time for me to move on. I didn't have the same commitment and interest because of the change. Mott was like my adolescence and I decided it was time to go off and do my own thing. I just wanted to play some different music. It was like leaving your parents; it's not that you don't love them, you just want to go and do something else.' Ralphs looks back on his fellow Mott members with affection. 'Ian Hunter is a very strong character. I respect him enormously. He's an excellent songwriter and has a great handle on the business. He's also very good at dealing with the press, much better than I am. Pete Watts always had lots of great ideas and was always doing something interesting, like he'd have a guitar made in the shape of a bird, or a three dimensional chess set or would wear platform boots long before anybody else did. Buffin often underestimated his strength in the band, because he was a real driving force. He was also underestimated as a drummer I think, because a lot of people took something from his style. Verden Allen was a good, passionate man and very single minded. But he was extremely musical and had great ability. He wasn't afraid to try something different for effect and would often play a wild style rather than adopt a conventional approach, which all contributed heavily to the Mott sound.' 'When Mott toured with Peace, I couldn't believe that someone of Paul Rodgers calibre was supporting us, although his band weren't that great,' says Ralphs. 'We all loved Paul and got him up to sing with us one night, and I said to him backstage that I'd got some songs we weren't doing in Mott and would he like to do them. So I played him 'Ready For Love' and he liked that, and then I played 'Moving On' and he liked that too. Initially, I was just going to do some recording with Paul, but when I started working with him, it was obvious I was more interested in that. 'We were doing the Mott album and Paul wanted to record and put a band together but I told him Mott The Hoople had a US tour coming up and I had to do that. I couldn't just tell them I'm leaving, it wouldn't be fair. So I said to Mott I'd do the American tour and that would give them time to get somebody else in to take my place.' 'Ralphs quits Hoople' announced the music press in August 1973 and Bad Company was born. Rodgers, Ralphs and Kirke recruited Boz Burrell, who had previously been with King Crimson where he learned bass under the tuition of lead guitarist Robert Fripp, and joined Island Records in Britain and Led Zeppelin's US record label, Swan Song, managed by the late Peter Grant. 'He was a lovely man,' says Mick, 'and another big influence, as Guy Stevens was, but in a different way. If it hadn't been for Peter, Bad Company wouldn't have been as big as they were, just like Guy with Mott.' Playing their first gig at Newcastle City Hall in March 1974 and attracting instant popularity, Bad Company's self-titled debut album was a huge hit that year reaching No.3 in the UK and No.1 platinum status in the US charts. Produced by the group, the record included Ralphs' Mott The Hoople songs 'Ready For Love', 'Moving On' and the top 5 single 'Can't Get Enough', plus two fine ballads co-written with Paul Rodgers, 'Don't Let Me Down' and the acoustic 'Seagull'. Bad Company became the most successful new British band in the USA in 1974 achieving immediate recognition. They departed on their first American tour for six weeks as a support group, but were instantly promoted to headlining status and eventually returned to the UK three months later. Their appeal increased on both sides of the Atlantic with the 1975 release of Straight Shooter, which reached the top three in the UK and spawned two hit singles, Ralphs' 'Good Lovin' Gone Bad' and 'Feel Like Makin' Love' composed with Rodgers. Mick also co-wrote 'Deal With The Preacher' and 'Wild Fire Woman'. 'Once I got working with Paul I got into a roll,' says Ralphs. 'I unleashed a lot of songs because I had the perfect vehicle; I had the greatest singer in the world and the greatest drummer, and everybody was into the blues, so I was able to exploit my songwriting to the degree that I did.' By 1975 Bad Company decided to live in the USA and Ralphs temporarily abandoned his Oxfordshire home. 'We lived in Malibu when the tax in England was ridiculously high and everybody was leaving the UK. We decided to cushion the financial burden and ended up living in California for six months in a rented house. We picked Malibu because it was about forty five minutes from LA, to try and get away from the madness, but of course we didn't, it just followed us out there.' For their third album, the excellent Run With The Pack, released in 1976, Bad Company worked in France recording and producing the LP using The Rolling Stones' Mobile Studio. Once again they had a top three album in the UK and a US single, 'Youngblood', reached No.20. Ralphs composed three songs for the LP, 'Live For The Music', 'Simple Man' and 'Sweet Lil' Sister', and co-wrote 'Honey Child', a second US single. Peter Grant's management policy of a world tour every two years kept audiences hungry and perhaps explained the group's lifespan of ten years. Their subsequent top 20 LP's - Burnin' Sky, Desolation Angels and Rough Diamonds - were not as strong as their opening trio, although their 1979 single, 'Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy', reached no.13 in the American charts. In 1983, Paul Rodgers quit and the band folded, reforming in 1986 with Dave Colwell on guitars and ex-Ted Nugent vocalist Brian Howe. They enjoyed considerable renewed success with several hit albums for Atlantic/Atco Records in America, including Fame and Fortune, Dangerous Age, Holy Water and Here Comes Trouble, the latter two achieving platinum awards. Although they were always a major concert attraction, Bad Company didn't issue a live album until 1994, the excellent What You Hear Is What You Get, after which Howe departed. Solo and collaborations In 1984, during Bad Company's temporary demise, Mick Ralphs released Take This on Rock Machine records, but with no singles and no major promotional activity, the album passed un-noticed. Self-composed apart from one track, and assisted by Simon Kirke and bass player Micky Feat, Ralphs played all other instruments and arranged and produced the record with Max Norman, who had by this time, worked with Ian Hunter on his 1983 solo LP, All Of The Good Ones Are Taken. 'I enjoyed doing my solo album,' admits Mick. 'I had all these songs I'd written for Bad Company and Bad Co wasn't functioning, so I got the songs, arranged them, booked the studio, hired the players, mixed it, put it all together, did the cover but basically lost a fortune! The record company said, 'Oh great Mick, yeah nice one,' but when I came to get a deal, I couldn't, because people just wanted Bad Company, they didn't want a Mick Ralphs album. I should have known that. It cost me quite a lot of my own money even though the record wasn't that expensive to make. The singing let's it down because I'm not a very good vocalist, but I had a great band. We rehearsed endlessly and that also cost me a fortune as I was paying their wages. It was a shame, it went nowhere and I had to split the group.' Mick played four London concerts to promote Take This! and included Little Feat and Ry Cooder covers in his set. He also worked subsequently with Cold Turkey, aimed at playing R+B, blues and rock. Ralphs formed this low-key group simply for fun but the other musicians were more serious. They only fulfilled one live performance. Over several years Mick has played on an array of sessions for Jon Lord, Ken Hensley, Luther Grosvenor, Ian Thomas, Lonnie Donegan, Jim Capaldi and The Who on their re-recording of Tommy. Ralphs also produced albums by Maggie Bell, Wildlife and Scottish rockers Gun. 'When the original Bad Co stopped working and Paul went off to do his own thing, I did my solo record and Simon became the drummer in Wildlife, who were later FM. It was quite a good band but obviously that was never going to go anywhere either, because the business really wanted Bad Company to get back together again. Anything we did wasn't going to happen.' Ralphs continues to live in Oxfordshire and has done so on and off since 1974. 'It's a lovely area. Most of the people are not natives because it's not far from London, so it's good if you are connected with business. Dave Gilmour of Pink Floyd moved into the area years ago. He's a wonderful man and probably one of my best friends bar none. I toured with him in 1984 for a year and had a super time. He saw me doing my solo thing and said, 'Mick, you're wasting your time, just come on the road with me and save yourself some money.' I also worked with another neighbour, George Harrison. I used to go over to his house and play with him and other musicians in the area like Jon Lord, Jim Capaldi and Dave Gilmour. George and I wrote a song called 'The Flying Hour' together and then he released it, and gave me a credit, which was very gracious of him.' 1995 saw the release of a self-produced Bad Company album, Company Of Strangers, featuring new singer, Robert Hart, who bore an uncanny vocal similarity to Paul Rodgers. Containing five tracks self-penned or co-written by Ralphs, the band undertook a lengthy promotional tour of the USA with Bon Jovi. Griffin Music of America also re-issued Take This! on compact disc. Bad Co's 1996 album, Stories Told + Untold, contained seven new compositions and seven acoustic versions including 'Can't Get Enough' and a superbly revitalised 'Ready For Love', which is still, perhaps, Mick's finest composition. Ralphs has remained committed to Bad Company for twenty five years and, more than any other, has been the one original Mott member reluctant to see any Hoople reformation. 'I personally think that Mott The Hoople was great as it was and should be left as that. I always think you can't really recreate something that was unique. I love everybody involved in it, and love to get together and see everybody, but we talked about a reformation a few years ago and I said I'd find time to do an album then. But, of course, you have to do an album and a tour and this and that, and it's too much. In all reality, I now hope to be away from home a lot less in the future, lead a more non-music biz life, be around my kids and try and find some peace of mind. I doubt therefore if Mott The Hoople will ever do anything commercially together again because it would be too involved. In fact we've had more success since we finished than we had when Mott was alive.' Recently, Pete Watts reflected on Ralphs' guitar playing, admitting that perhaps he didn't receive the recognition he truly deserved, particularly for his live work. 'When I heard Mick recently on some 1970 live tapes of a Mott gig at Croydon Fairfield Halls, some of his guitar playing that night was just so blistering. I've never heard Ralphs play like that. He was a natural in the studio and very adaptable, but Mick always liked to have his guitar playing quite refined. On reflection, hearing his live work, it was so much better than anything I ever heard him do on record. It was nastier and had more of a rough edge. He is a special player.' Over the last two years Ralphs has composed around 50 new songs in various musical styles. He hopes that some of this material will be covered by other artists, for there is unlikely to be any future solo recordings from Mick who still describes himself as 'a group person'. He has recently turned his attentions to a proposed Bad Company boxed set which will, at long last, provide a long overdue compilation of their enviable catalogue. Scheduled for release in early 1999, a US tour is also being planned and British shows are a possibility. 'It should be good, as long as we get it together and do it quickly before we all seize up with arthritis,' remarks Mick. © 2002-2009 mickralphs.co.uk


Mick Ralphs was the lead guitarist for not one, but two of album rock's most storied bands: underappreciated glam rock legends Mott the Hoople, and the far more commercially successful Bad Company. Born in 1948 in Hereford, England (near Wales), Ralphs played with a blues-rock group called the Buddies (who released a single in 1964) in his teens, and then moved on to the mod-styled Doc Thomas Group, whose self-titled 1967 debut album was issued only in Italy. A name change to Silence followed in 1968, and the group evolved into Mott the Hoople by the following year. Several years of struggle followed before the group hit it big with David Bowie's "All the Young Dudes" in 1972. The more popular Mott became, the more they emphasized Ian Hunter's songwriting over the other members'; Hunter's increasing ambition was more and more at odds with Ralphs' taste for simple, riff-driven hard rock. In 1973, after the release of Mott, Ralphs left the band to form Bad Company with two ex-members of Free. His composition "Can't Get Enough," which Mott was unable to record because of the vocal register in which it was written, became an immediate hit and pushed the group's 1974 debut album to number one in the U.S. A string of hugely successful albums followed up to 1982, making Bad Company one of the top arena rock acts in the world. After the initial lineup disbanded, Ralphs recorded a solo album, Take This!, which was released on the small, poorly distributed Rock Machine label in 1984 (it was later reissued on CD). In 1986, the first of several Bad Company reunions took place, which have continued to the present day (Ralphs was present for all of them, and plays guitar on every one of the group's albums and singles). In 2001, Ralphs released his second solo album, the all-instrumental effort It's All Good, on the Angel Air label. © Steve Huey, allmusic.com


Son Seals

Son Seals - Bad Axe - 1984 - Alligator

One of Son Seals's finest collections, studded with vicious performances ranging from covers of Eddie Vinson's "Person to Person" and Little Sonny's "Going Home (Where Women Got Meat on Their Bones)" to his own "Can't Stand to See Her Cry" and swaggering "Cold Blood." Top-drawer Windy City studio musicians lay down skin-tight grooves throughout. © Bill Dahl, allmusic.com

It was once said that "No one who hears Son Seals can say Eric Clapton is the king of the slide guitar". The late great Son Seals , born in Osceola, Arkansas in 1942, is now regarded as one of the grear bluesmen. "Bad Axe" may not be Son Seals' greatest album, but it highlights the man's great talents. A good blues album in the style of Albert King. Check out Son Seals' great "Midnight Son" album

TRACKS / COMPOSERS [Where known]

A1 Don't Pick Me For Your Fool - Dollison, Higgins
A2 Going Home (Where Women Got Meat On Their Bones) - Crutcher, Manuel
A3 Just About To Lose Your Clown - MacRae
A4 Friday Again - Seals
A5 Cold Blood - Seals

B1 Out Of My Way
B2 I Think You're Fooling Me
B3 I Can Count on My Blues
B4 Can't Stand To See Her Cry - Seals
B5 Person To Person - Elmore James


Vocals, Guitar - Son Seals
Guitar - Carl Johnson
Bass - Johnny B. Gayden, Nick Charles
Keyboards - Carl Snyder Jr., Sid Wingfield
Drums - Rick Howard, Willie Hayes
Harmonica - Billy Branch


As usual Son has changed his band. This time Sid Wingfield and Carl Snyder Jr takes care of the organ playing, Carlos Johnson plays second guitar on some of the tracks, Johnny B. Gayden and Nick Charles shares the bass job and Willie Hayes or Rick Howard plays the drums. If the former album were a mix between blues and soul, this album is a mix between blues and rock. Son have never sounded as tough as here. The guitar playing is monotonous and piercing. Son really hammers down his notes. Very, very aggressive playing straight through and the lyrics are very macho style tough too.
Don´t pick me for your fool (4.17)
An incredibly tough opening. A medium/slow shuffle with Son hitting his trademark licks with force. Don´t pick me for your fool, baby... Son sounds like he was in the mood to kill someone. Shucks.
Going home (where women got meat on their bones) (3.48)
The lyrics are traditional. Meat shaking on my Big leg woman, hmmm. It was a long time since I heard someone use this old time metaphor! But Son doesn´t sing like he is enjoying himself, "I´m going home where women got meat on their bones", he sounds like he´s bitter with the Chicago women...
Just about to lose your clown (3.10)
A heavy back beat, almost beautiful guitar and bitter lyrics makes this one my favorite song on this album. "You treat me just like dirt and you think it doesn´t hurt. You say I look funny every time you put me down, but you´re in for a big surprise. Honey, you´re just about to lose your clown."
Friday again (5.27)
A solid bass line and nice organ from Sid Wingfield sets the mood to this medium slow blues. Son sings of "Friday again" and everything he is going to do. Well, Son doesn´t seem to have high hopes for his Fridays. On Monday he have to be back on his job, the guys are going to steal his woman and the money are going to disappear. Hey Seals, where are your illusions? "Gentleman from the windy city" from Chicago Fire is another party description, but with a completely different attitude. Compare!
Cold Blood (4.00)
Some nice piano in the background (a long solo near the end) and Son´s solo is a little bit different than he usually plays. But this is just another semiquick shuffle. A typical filler.
Out of my way (4.32)
Whooa. The first licks reminds me of the eighties style of rock! Horrible! Fortunately the song turns into a standard blues with some nice turnarounds and stop breaks.
I think you´re fooling me (3.52)
This one also start like one of these awful rock songs. Brrr. But again, the song turns into something completely different. The beat is soulful and the lyrics are witty. A fun thing to listen too, not much to write home about...
I can count on my blues(6.07)
A ballad! A nice mix between soul, country and pure muzak! Son knows how to sing! At last something new in the Seals repertoire. I like this! Son even plays a soft and melodic solo
Can´t stand to see her cry (4.01)
After the ballad Son dives deep into the seventies blaxplotation sound. A cool guitar riff and you almost feel the Shaft atmosphere. Yes! I had forgot how this song sounded. Du du di, da dadat dapp! Funky without the seventies strings and congas...
Person to Person (3.08)
A straightforward take of this classic song. The N.O feeling is there. A nice ending to a good album. © Tommy Jansson, http://hem.fyristorg.com/bukka/bdn5.html#38


It all started with a phone call from Wesley Race, who was at the Flamingo Club on Chicago's South Side, to Alligator Records owner Bruce Iglauer. Race was raving about a new find, a young guitarist named Son Seals. He held the phone in the direction of the bandstand, so Iglauer could get an on-site report. It didn't take long for Iglauer to scramble into action. Alligator issued Seals' eponymous debut album in 1973, which was followed by six more. Son Seals was born Frank Seals on August 13, 1942 in Osceola, Arkansas. His dad operated a juke joint called the Dipsy Doodle Club in Osceola where Sonny Boy Williamson, Robert Nighthawk, and Albert King cavorted upfront while little Frank listened intently in back. Drums were the youth's first instrument; he played them behind Nighthawk at age 13. But by the time he was 18, Son Seals turned his talents to guitar, fronting his own band in Little Rock. While visiting his sister in Chicago, he hooked up with Earl Hooker's Roadmasters in 1963 for a few months, and there was a 1966 stint with Albert King that sent him behind the drumkit once more. But with the death of his father in 1971, Seals returned to Chicago, this time for good. When Alligator signed him up, his days fronting a band at the Flamingo Club and the Expressway Lounge were numbered. Seals' jagged, uncompromising guitar riffs and gruff vocals were showcased very effectively on that 1973 debut set, which contained his "Your Love Is like a Cancer" and a raging instrumental called "Hot Sauce." Midnight Son, his 1976 encore, was by comparison a much slicker affair, with tight horns, funkier grooves, and a set list that included "Telephone Angel" and "On My Knees." Seals cut a live LP in 1978 at Wise Fools Pub; another studio concoction, Chicago Fire, in 1980, and a solid set in 1984, Bad Axe, before having a disagreement with Iglauer that that was patched up in 1991 with the release of his sixth Alligator set, Living in the Danger Zone. Nothing But the Truth followed in 1994, sporting some of the worst cover art in CD history, but a stinging lineup of songs inside. Another live disc, Spontaneous Combustion, was recorded at Buddy Guy's Legends club and released in June of 1996. Over the years, Seals had his share of hardship, bad deals, unemployment, and rip-offs that go on in the music business. However, his personal life took two devastating blows in the late '90s. On January 5, 1997, during a domestic dispute, Seals was shot in the jaw by his former spouse. He miraculously recovered and continued touring. Two years later he had his left leg amputated as a result of diabetes. What would have surely forced most performers into retirement only made Seals more dedicated to his music and audience. He came back in 2000, signing with Telarc Blues, and recorded Lettin' Go. Seals preferred to remain close to his Chicago home, holding his touring itinerary to an absolute minimum. Virtually every weekend he could be found somewhere on the Northside blues circuit, dishing up his raw-edged brand of bad blues axe to local followers. The blues ended for Son Seals on December 20, 2004; he passed away due to diabetes related complications. © Bill Dahl & Al Campbell, allmusic.com

The Groundhogs

The Groundhogs - 3744 James Road: The HTD Anthology - 2002 - Castle Music America

The Groundhogs were an at-times better than average 1960s British blues band led by T.S. McPhee, whose Jack Bruce-like vocals and raggedly aggressive guitar style made the group sound at times like a looser version of Cream. This two-disc set, divided into studio and live recordings, makes a pretty solid introduction to the band. The studio disc shows the Groundhogs' devotion to the blues, with solid covers of Howlin' Wolf's "No Place to Go," Willie Dixon's "Down in the Bottom," and Arthur Crudup's "Mean Ole Frisco" among the highlights. The live disc features even more blues, including the group's cover of their namesake song, John Lee Hooker's "Groundhog Blues," but also features several of McPhee's originals, like the extremely caustic "Thank Christ for the Bomb." The Groundhogs remain somewhat of an enigma, since the talent was there for bigger and better things, but as a blues band, at least, they were as good as any Britain coughed up in the '60s. © Steve Leggett, All Music Guide

This album is also released as "Htd Anthology". It's a brilliant two disc set from the legendary Tony McPhee and the Groundhogs. The Groundhogs began in 1964, when Tony McPhee and Pete Cruikshank formed John Lee's Groundhogs to back John Lee Hooker on a British tour. They released the great blues album, Blues Obituary, in 1969. After that, they became more heavy prog rock orientated, and, starting with 1970's "Thank Christ For The Bomb", they had three Top Ten albums during the early Seventies. "The HTD Anthology" is a thirty track double album by this great band. The 2nd CD contains 12 live tracks. The Groundhogs never achieved the status of many far less talented bands. They are the perfect example of a band who played their own uncomprising brand of powerful, raw blues rock. Totally disinterested in commercialism, they released classic progressive blues rock albums like "Thank Christ for the Bomb" and "Who Will Save the World? The Mighty Groundhogs!". Tony McPhee has remained faithful to his blues roots all his life, and the man is a giant of British blues rock., even if he remains an underestimated, and underrated rock musician. Completely unorthodox in their style, the Groundhogs played raw, blunt "blues with twisting riffs and unexpected grinding chord changes". The great Tony McPhee and The Groundhogs are a very important part of psychedelic / blues / progressive rock. You won't be whistling any of these songs in the morning, but you will listen to this album again, and again. "3744 James Road" is VHR by A.O.O.F.C. Tony McPhee put together a new band in 2007, with long-time Groundhogs bassist Dave Anderson, and Marco Anderson on drums. This band toured England in 2008 with Focus and Wishbone Ash. The most recent 2009 line up of Tony McPhee's Groundhogs is Tony McPhee, Dave Anderson and Mick Jones. The Groundhogs "US Tour '72" album is @ GHOGS/USTOUR72 The band's "Hoggin' the Stage" album can be found @ GHOGS/HTS The great "Two Sides of Tony (T.S.) McPhee" album is @ 2STMCPHEE and Tony McPhee's "Foolish Pride" album can be located @ TMCP/FP


CD 1
1. Smokestack Lightnin' Howlin' Wolf
2. No Place to Go Burnett
3. Ain't Superstious Dixon
4. Sittin' on Top of the World Walter Vinson, Lonnie Chatmon
5. Shake for Me Dixon
6. How Many More Years Burnett
7. Nature Burnett
8. Down in the Bottom Dixon
9. Forty Four Burnett
10. Stuff You Gotta Watch Johnson
11. Can't Call Her Sugar London
12. Mean Ole Frisco Crudup
13. I'm Ready Dixon
14. Young Fashioned Ways Dixon
15. Hoochie Coochie Man Dixon
16. Mannish Boy McDaniel/London/Mor
17. Got My Mojo Workin' Foster
18. Country Blues Waters

CD 2
1 Razor's Edge [Live] McPhee
2 Want You to Love Me [Live] Waters
3 Split, Pt. 1 [Live] McPhee
4 Cherry Red [Live] McPhee
5 Eccentric Man [Live] McPhee
6 3744 James Road [Live] McPhee
7 Soldier [Live] McPhee
8 Mistreated [Live] Townsend
9I Love You Misogyny [Live] McPhee
10 Garden [Live] McPhee
11 Thank Christ for the Bomb [Live] McPhee
12 Groundhog Blues [Live] Davenport

Check out GROUNDHOGS/BIO for information on band formations


The Groundhogs were not British blues at their most creative; nor were they British blues at their most generic. They were emblematic of some of the genre's most visible strengths and weaknesses. They were prone to jam too long on basic riffs, they couldn't hold a candle to American blues singers in terms of vocal presence, and their songwriting wasn't so hot. On the other hand, they did sometimes stretch the form in unexpected ways, usually at the hands of their creative force, guitarist/songwriter/vocalist T.S. (Tony) McPhee. For a while they were also extremely popular in Britain, landing three albums in that country's Top Ten in the early '70s. The Groundhogs' roots actually stretch back to the mid-'60s, when McPhee helped form the group, named after a John Lee Hooker song (the band was also known briefly as John Lee's Groundhogs). In fact, the Groundhogs would back Hooker himself on some of the blues singer's mid-'60s British shows, and also back him on record on an obscure LP. They also recorded a few very obscure singles with a much more prominent R&B/soul influence than their later work. In 1966, the Groundhogs evolved into Herbal Mixture, which (as if you couldn't guess from the name) had more of a psychedelic flavor than a blues one. Their sole single, "Machines," would actually appear on psychedelic rarity compilations decades later. The Groundhogs/Herbal Mixture singles, along with some unreleased material, has been compiled on a reissue CD on Distortions. After Herbal Mixture folded, McPhee had a stint with the John Dummer Blues Band before reforming the Groundhogs in the late '60s at the instigation of United Artists A&R man Andrew Lauder. Initially a quartet (bassist Pete Cruickshank also remained from the original Groundhogs lineup), they'd stripped down to a trio by the time of their commercial breakthrough, Thank Christ for the Bomb, which made the U.K. Top Ten in 1970. The Groundhogs' power-trio setup, as well as McPhee's vaguely Jack Bruce-like vocals, bore a passing resemblance to the sound pioneered by Cream. They were blunter and less inventive than Cream, but often strained against the limitations of conventional 12-bar blues with twisting riffs and unexpected grinding chord changes. McPhee's lyrics, particularly on Thank Christ for the Bomb, were murky, sullen anti-establishment statements that were often difficult to decipher, both in meaning and actual content. They played it straighter on the less sophisticated follow-up, Split, which succumbed to some of the period's blues-hard-rock indulgences, putting riffs and flash over substance. McPhee was always at the very least an impressive guitarist, and a very versatile one, accomplished in electric, acoustic, and slide styles. Who Will Save the World? The Mighty Groundhogs! (1972), their last Top Ten entry, saw McPhee straying further from blues territory into somewhat progressive realms, even adding some mellotron and harmonium (though the results were not wholly unsuccessful). The Groundhogs never became well-known in the U.S., where somewhat similar groups like Ten Years After were much bigger. Although McPhee and the band have meant little in commercial or critical terms in their native country since the early '70s, they've remained active as a touring and recording unit since then, playing to a small following in the U.K. and Europe. © Richie Unterberger, allmusic.com


Tony McPhee was part of the first generation of young British blues disciples influenced by Cyril Davies and his band Blues Incorporated. A member of the same generation of young blues buffs as Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Brian Jones, he never ascended to the heights achieved by the future Rolling Stones, but has recorded a small, highly significant body of blues-rock. Originally a skiffle enthusiast, he received his first guitar as a Christmas present and formed his first band soon after, while still in school. He gravitated toward the blues during the early '60s, and soon discovered Cyril Davies. After seeing a few performances by Davies with Blues Incorporated at the Marquee Club in London during 1962, he became hopelessly hooked on blues and RB, and decided to try and make it as a blues singer/guitarist. McPhee's first group was the Dollarbills, a pop band featuring John Cruickshank on vocals, Pete Cruickshank on bass, and Dave Boorman on drums. He quickly steered toward blues, most notably the sound of John Lee Hooker, and with the addition of Bob Hall on piano, the group changed its name to the Groundhogs, in recognition of Hooker's "Ground Hog Blues." the Groundhogs were a very solid blues/RB outfit, playing soulful American RB and raw American blues at venues such as Newcastle's ~Club A-Go-Go, and they subsequently became the backing band to Champion Jack Dupree at a series of gigs at the -100 Club. Finally, in July of 1964, the Groundhogs reached their zenith when they were chosen to back John Lee Hooker himself during his current British tour. Hooker later selected the group to back him on his next tour, and also sent an acetate recording of the group to executives at his label, Vee-Jay Records. That acetate, the hard-rocking, piano-and-harmonica-driven band original "Shake It" backed with a very powerful and persuasive cover of Little Son Jackson's "Rock Me Baby," was released on the Interphon label, a Vee-Jay subsidiary. It failed to reach the charts, but it did mark the group and McPhee's first American release. Meanwhile, back in England, the group recorded a studio album with Hooker, somewhat misleadingly entitled Live at the A-Go-Go Club, New York. The group's fortunes seemed to improve in 1965 when producer Mike Vernon recorded three tracks, "Big Train Blues," "Can't Sit Down," and "Blue Guitar," but none saw any major release or success, and only "Blue Guitar" ever received much U.S. exposure, appearing on the 1970s Sire Records collection Anthology of British Blues. By the end of 1965, the British blues boom had expended itself, and soul was becoming the new sound of choice. McPhee had already shown a predilection for soul music in his writing, especially "Hallelujah," which the group cut with its newly added brass section in 1965. the Groundhogs transformed themselves into a soul band, and were persuaded to record a song called "I'll Never Fall in Love Again." As a first soul outing it was a promising beginning, despite a beat that was too reminiscent of Otis Redding's "Can't Turn You Loose" -- the dissonant guitar in the break was a refreshing change that would never have made it out the door at Stax Records. The song failed to get much airplay or achieve a chart position, and its B-side, the upbeat, haunting McPhee original "Over You Baby" disappeared as well. the Groundhogs split up soon after, and McPhee did session work for a time, as well as recording some blues sides on his own, under the auspices of producer Jimmy Page, that later turned up on various British blues anthologies released by Andrew Loog Oldham's Immediate Records label, backed up by Jo-Ann Kelly and fellow Groundhog Bob Hall. Unlike a lot of other blues enthusiasts from the early '60s, McPhee remained true to his roots, and was good enough to rate a berth as a sessionman on Champion Jack Dupree's 1966 Decca album From New Orleans to Chicago. In August of 1966, McPhee and bassist Pete Cruickshank teamed up with drummer Mike Meekham to form Herbal Mixture, a Yardbirds-like outfit mixing psychedelic and blues sounds at a very high amperage. They were one of the more soulful and muscular psychedelic outfits, reflecting their RB (as opposed to pop) roots, and even their spaciest material has a bluesy feel. "A Love That's Died" relies on fuzz-tone guitar, and would have made good competition for anything by the Yardbirds had anyone been given a chance to hear it. Their cover of "Over You Baby" is, if anything, superior to the Groundhogs' original, and deserved a better hearing than it got. Herbal Mixture had some success playing the ~Marquee and ~Middle Earth clubs in London, and were good enough to get a gig opening for the newly-formed Jeff Beck Group at the ~London Roundhouse. Their records, however, didn't sell, and at the end of 1967, following Meekham's departure, the band ceased to exist. McPhee continued playing blues in his spare time, however, and passed through the John Dummer Blues Band during early 1968. His music had left an impression on at least one record company executive -- in 1968, Andrew Lauder of United Artists' British operation offered McPhee the chance to record a complete album if he could put together a band. He formed a new Groundhogs, carrying over bassist Pete Cruickshank, and the album Scratching the Surface was duly recorded and released that year. Ironically, this incarnation of the Groundhogs, put together for the one album session, ended up lasting far beyond its origins -- five additional albums, including his best-known long-player, Me and the Devil, were recorded through 1972, and the group has remained a viable unit, continuing to perform in England and the European continent (where there's always work for British blues bands) with McPhee as its leader. © Bruce Eder, All Music Guide


Ken Arconti

Ken Arconti - As The Years Go Passing By - 1993 - Jungle Beach Records

"...a must-have for aficianados for blues guitar playing of the highest order." © Metro, Santa Cruz

"...his guitar work on this album is smoking. If it's full on blues you want to hear, this is it." © Goodtimes,
Santa Cruz

"After one listen to Ken Arconti's rocking and rolling "Your Left Hand Don't Know (What Your Right Hand is Doing)," I guarantee you'll be addicted. Bay Area local Ken Arconti has the smooth vocals reminiscent of the Fabulous Thunderbirds' Kim Wilson and the lyrics seem to slide, cool as you please, right off his tongue." © Showcase Music Times, San Jose

"The album is a testament to Arconti's driving blues and understated growl, featuring tracks that run the gamut of blues-inspired emotions from the rocking, rhythmic, brash confidence of "Twenty Nine Ways(to get through my baby's door)" to the surf music-inspired insouciance of "Sen-Sa-Shun" to the pleading riffs mourning lost love in the album's eponymous track." © Goodtimes, Santa Cruz

The great Bay Area guitarist, Ken Arconti's great 1993 solo debut., recorded live at the Catalyst club in Santa Cruz, California, from gigs between 1989 and 1992. The CD’s ten live tracks include some of the Bay Area’s most talented musicians, including bassist and guitarist, Leonard Gill (B.B. King, Otis Rush), drummer, Paul Revelli (Joe Louis Walker, Angela Strehli), and keyboardist Lizz Fischer (John Lee Hooker). The 2007 CD release includes three bonus tracks which are included here. The three tracks (two of which also appear in their live form) were recorded at MARS Recording Studio in Aptos, California, between March and September of 1990. "As The Years Go Passing By" is an excellent blues rock album incorporating many guitar styles. Buy Ken's "Samsara Blues" album, and do the blues, yourself, and Ken Arconti a big favour.


You'd Better Believe - Ken Arconti
Keep on Loving Me Baby - Otis Rush
Don't Look! - Ken Arconti
Sen-Sa-Shun - F.King, S.Thompson
Twenty-Nine Ways - Willie Dixon
As the Years Go Passing By - Deadric Malone
Look on Yonder Wall - E.James, M.Sehom
Your Left Hand Don't Know (What Your Right Hand Is Doin')
You Were Wrong/Hendrix Thing - Z.Z Hill
The Sad Nite Owl - S.Thompson
Your Left Hand Don't Know (What Your Right Hand Is Doin') - Ken Arconti [2007 CD Bonus Track]
This Life I Love - Ken Arconti [2007 CD Bonus Track]
Don't Look! - Ken Arconti [2007 CD Bonus Track]


Ken Arconti - guitar, vocals
Leonard Gill - bass, guitar
Leonard Gill - bass
Jim Pugh - Hammond B-3 organ
Lizz Fischer - keyboards
Kevin Zuffi - piano
Paul Revelli, Jim Norris - drums


In the 80’s a blues revival began in the United States fueled by the popularity of artists Stevie Ray Vaughan and Robert Cray. Nightclubs were featuring more and more blues acts and new blues venues continued to appear on the scene. There were young guitarslingers aplenty as well as veteran blues performers, some re-emerging from relative obscurity. While the revival was at its peak I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to open shows for many blues legends including Albert Collins, John Lee Hooker, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, Clarence Gatemouth Brown, and Junior Wells. I’d always bring blank tapes with me to the shows and ask the sound crew to record my sets. Though I never intended to release these recordings, there were some nights when we managed to get a good mix on tape along with a great, high-energy performance. “As the Years Go Passing By” contains a sampling of these tunes recorded at several shows at the Catalyst night club in Santa Cruz, California. Eight of the ten live tracks were recorded from the stage monitor mixing board onto two-track digital audio tape (DAT). The remaining tracks were recorded from the main PA mixing board onto two-track cassette. What you hear on this disk is definitely music in the raw; no overdubs or fixing it in the mix here! I originally released “As the Years Go Passing By” in 1993. It’s hard to imagine now, but at that time people were still making the change from turntables and cassette decks over to CD players. In fact, I don’t recall anyone having a CD player in their car back then (at least not in my circle of friends)! Since I was running on a limited budget, I released the album on cassette figuring that it was the format available to the largest number of people. After I sold out my first run of cassettes I decided to leave it at that and move on to new things. But as the years went passing by--some of my friends and fans commented on how much they liked the album and suggested that I put it on CD. Having not heard it in quite some time, I gave it a listen and was delighted to re-discover that it was a pretty rocking album! I decided to go ahead with the project and put the album on CD. Happily I found the master DAT and went into the studio to do some re-mastering, only to find that I had an alternate version of the master tape! I went home and searched through boxes of tapes several times over, but to no avail. I realized the only place the master could possibly be was at the plant that replicated and packaged the album. I did an internet search and was glad to find that they were still in business and I gave them a call. I explained my situation to the woman on the phone and she said that since the album was done in 1993 they probably would no longer have it on file. She asked me what format the master was, and when I told her it was on DAT she said that she had just happened to see a bunch of DATs sitting on a shelf downstairs and would go take a look. About twenty minutes later she gave me a call and lo and behold she had found the master tape! I now present to you the newly re-mastered version of “As the Years Go Passing By.” Since CDs can now hold about 80 minutes of music compared to about 60 on cassette, I was able to include three previously unreleased studio recordings on this album. The three tracks (two of which also appear in their live form) were recorded at MARS Recording Studio in Aptos, California, between March and September of 1990. They were recorded on good old two-inch, 24-track analog tape. It brings me much pleasure to finally release these tunes as I ask myself, what is a mere sixteen years in the larger scheme of things anyway?! I sincerely hope you enjoy listening to the album as much as I enjoyed resurrecting it! © Ken Arconti, October 4, 2006


Guitarist/vocalist Ken Arconti is a native Californian who has performed in the San Francisco Bay Area for over 20 years. At home in almost any musical environment, his playing is filled with passion, sensitivity and soulful lyricism. .Ken began playing guitar at the age of 11. He was soon performing in bands and absorbing the sounds of the '60s. Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, the soul sounds of Stax & Motown, the blues of B.B. and Albert King, and jazz artists Miles Davis and Wes Montgomery were all influences.In 1978, Ken moved from his home of Los Angeles to Santa Cruz and began playing in clubs around the Bay Area. He has performed everything from country to jazz, to top-40 rock, to rhythm & blues. Well known for his blues playing, Ken has performed repeatedly at the Monterey Bay Blues Festival. The list of artists he has opened for reads like a "Who's Who" of the Blues: Robert Cray, Buddy Guy, John Lee Hooker, Albert Collins, Junior Wells, Johnny Copeland, Clarence Gatemouth Brown, John Mayall, Charlie Musselwhite, Robben Ford, Duke Robillard, Ronnie Earl, and Roomful of Blues, to name a few. He has also recorded/performed with the Broadway Blues Band, Terry Hanck & the Soul Rockers, the Chris Cobb Band, The Mighty Penguins, and legendary New Orleans funk drummer Zigaboo Modeliste (the Meters).As well as performing, Ken carries a steady clientele of devoted guitar students. He taught in the California Arts In Corrections Program from 1992 to 2003, teaching guitar, music theory and improvisation at Soledad Prison. He was the recipient of a prestigious Artist in Residence Grant from the California Arts Council from 1999 to 2002, establishing a multi-cultural music/band program at Salinas Valley State Prison, which was featured in the 2002 VH1 documentary "Music Behind Bars." © 1996 - 2009 CD Universe; Portions copyright 1948 - 2009 Muze Inc

Sy Klopps

Sy Klopps - Berkeley Soul - 2000 - Bullseye Blues

Another great album by Sy Klopps, (aka Walter Herbert) 'Berkeley Soul starts off with a jumping blues ("Running Blue") before settling into a 1960s-type soul/R&B date that includes Marvin Gaye's "Wherever I Lay My Hat," Sam Cooke's "You Gotta Move," and Little Willie John's "Walk Slow," along with some more exuberant tunes. Klopps has an appealing and versatile voice, equally skilled on the heated material and the rock & roll-ish ballads. Recommended to listeners who enjoy 1960s crooners. © Scott Yanow, allmusic.com

The "legendary" Sy Klopps Blues Band repertoire includes a great selection of original songs and covers some of the best blues rock songs from artists like ZZ Top, Booker T, and Jimmy Reed. Sy Klopps also covers soul, and R&B songs by great musicians like Little Willie John, Boz Scaggs, Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, and others. You might not be familiar with the name Sy Klopps, (real name, Walter Herbert), but read his bio. You will be impressed by his musical achievements. Sy Klopps, among other things was the former Frumious Bandersnatch, Santana road manager, and Journey manager, but he is also a hugely talented musician in his own right. "Berkeley Soul" is another gem of an album. This album is more on the soul/R&B side than blues rock, but it's so beautifully played and produced that it's impossible not to like it, and admire Walter Herbert and his bands' amazing talent. If you would like to hear more of the blues side of Sy Klopps, check out his brilliant "Walter Ego" album @ http://overdoseoffingalcocoa.blogspot.com/2009/07/sy-klopps-blues-band.html (Sy Klopps). See if you can track down Sy Klopps "Old Blue Eye Is Back" album. All his albums are a wonderful blend of all the right influences of soul, jazz, blues rock, and R&B.


1 Running Blue - O'Hara, Scaggs
2 Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My Home) - Gaye, Strong, Whitfield [performed by Sy Klopps, and Marvin Gaye]
3 You Gotta Move - Cooke
4 Talk to Me - Seneca
5 Cryin' for My Baby - Burrage
6 Walk Slow - John, John
7 Stand by Me - Alexander, Cooke, Parker
8 The Rock - Smith, Varsos
9 Living in the House of Blues - Williams
10 Appetite for Love - Williams


Sy Klopps (vocals)
Ralph Woodson (guitar)
Herman Eberitzsch (keyboards)
Ira Walker (bass)
Bobby Cochran (drums)

Horns Of Dilemma: Michael Peloquin (harmonica, tenor & baritone saxophones); Tom Poole (trumpet, flugelhorn); Danny Armstrong (trombone).

Don Markese, Rob Zuckerman (tenor saxophone); Howard Wales (Hammond B-3 organ); Jim Cox (keyboards); Neil Stubenhaus, Steve Evans (bass); John Robinson (drums); Larry Batitse, Jeanie Tracy, Monet Owens (background vocals)

BIO [ Sy Klopps aka Walter Herbert ]

The Artist known as Sy Klopps started out as a fictional "recluse prodigy" musician. It was all just a trick played on booking agents by Herbie Herbert, the successful rock and roll "Personal Manager". It was during the relationship building part of phone conversations with fellow music business people, where poking fun and gaming was always expected, that the legend of Sy Klopps was born. Ironically, Herbie decided to become Sy Klopps. Actually bring Klopps to life. The real legend of Sy Klopps started when all Herbie's connections with famous musician friends to jam, gig and record with made it doable and even more importantly, fun. Herbie retired from managment at the tail end of 1993 and jumped headlong into Sy Klopps. It became his passion. He built his own state of the art commercially competitive recording studio and recorded his first album, "Walter Ego". "Walter Ego" was released in 1993 on Guitar Recordings Classic Cuts label. Gigs around the Bay Area and eventually at the Fillmore in San Francisco soon followed. After his first CD, Sy recorded several more: "Old Blue Eye Is Back", "Berkeley Soul", an EP called "High Five" and a Live Video recorded in concert at the Fillmore. Sy has played live gigs with Etta James at the House Of Blues, with Tower of Power and The Doobie Brothers. Joel Selvin of the San Francisco Chronicle dubbed Sy Klopps "The Paul Bunyan of the blues". In 2001, Sy teamed up with Billy Kreutzmann, Neal Schon and some of his other band mates to create a new group called the Trichromes. They realeased a CD called "Dice With The Universe" Sy Klopps was born Walter James Herbert II on Feb. 5th, 1948, at Alta Bates Hospital, in Berkeley, California. His mother was a bank teller, first with Wells Fargo and then Bank of America. She also moonlighted as the accountant and bookeeper for Herbie's father's business, Vulcan Engineering, at 2850 Broadway on Oakland's fabled Auto Row. Dad was an expert machinist and engine builder, providing record-breaking, custom-built racing engines for the drag strip and auto racing circuits. The family lived at 1393 Virginia St., near Acton St. As a boy Herbie attended Jefferson Elementary and Garfield Junior High (later changed to Martin Luther King Jr. Junior High). Herbie spent a lot of time in his father's shop and went with him to the Fremont Drag Strip to watch the races. At eighteen Herbie worked at California Distributors, a parts warehouse also on Auto Row, and displayed an unexpected talent for organization and inventory control. The owners were pleased to learn that Herbie had managed to memorize the entire inventory of the shop, along with all the part numbers. He could instantly call up information about the quantity or availability of anything in the warehouse directly out of his head. In 1962, the San Francisco/Bay Area rapid transit system BART was built and the home on Virginia St. was razed for a parking lot. The law of Eminent Domain forced the family to Orinda. Contra Costa County culture was radically different to the way of life Herbie was used to in Berkeley. The different music, vernacular and attitudes of the new town inspired him to routinely hitchhike after school to Berkeley for a dose of familiarity and sanity. Though only eight miles away from his birthplace it might as well have been 8000. Few others in Orinda would even think of going to Berkeley and Herbie usually hitchhiked alone. Upon arriving in Orinda Herbie briefly attended Miramonte High School but was quickly expelled for mischievious behavior, including a bomb scare hoax that cleared the grounds. Herbie just wanted the day off. He transferred to Campolindo High School, graduating in 1966. During his late teens Herbie stayed busy, working in auto shops, trying a year at Diablo Valley College and even playing drums in a rock band. Herbie had some managing experience with a band called Frumious Bandersnatch, in the East Bay. Though they were known to be famous music critic Ralph Gleason's favorite band, Herbie thought they were just trying to be another Moby Grape. Members of Frumious Bandersnatch (including Ross Valory, David Denny, Bobby Winkleman, and Jack King) went on to become members of the Steve Miller Band. Ross Valory then became a charter member of Journey. On August 5th, 1967, Herbie was called in to get a physical for military service. He contrived ways to get himself out of the obligation. Though he took the physical he snowed the examiners with so many fictional medical maladies they were forced to let him go, if only to rid themselves of his tenacious tirade. Herbie took it upon himself to school his musician friends on ways to be passed over by the draft board. In one instance, he had a friend dress in his own mother's clothing and smear peanut butter between his legs. Herbie figured the medical examiners wouldn't accept a man with no sense of personal hygiene. In another skit of conscientious objection he convinced Ross Valory to spend two days in the Juvenile Psych Ward, drooling on himself and speaking in monosyllabic grunts. And in yet another set-up Herbie borrowed a book on homosexual behavior from the library and insisted two friends study it. He instructed them to play out the part of two boys in love, frantically weeping and kissing each other over the threat of death at the hands of the Vietcong. Oscar-winning performances were given. Herbie's tricks were completely successful in each instance. None of his friends even made it to boot camp. Herbie's nascent hammer of negotiation was being born. His trips away from the staid society of Orinda took him for longer and longer periods of time and finally found him loitering around the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco, looking to do something, anything, in the new and exciting realm of rock and roll. When Bill Graham took over the Fillmore West from The Grateful Dead, Herbie was there, doing whatever was called for. He routinely found himself sitting outside Graham's little office listening to one side of the promoter's predatory monolog, taking mental notes. Everybody knew Graham was an uptight square at heart, surrounded by freaks. Herbie, in tie-dye coveralls and hair with its own micro-climate, was no exception. But Herbie paid attention. He stayed close, and listened closer. At the Santana rehearsal studio later that year Herbie was poking around inside a broken amplifier when shouts erupted nearby. It seems that Bill Graham was both booking and managing Santana (a no-no in California law) and the band felt too much of their revenue was being lost by this arrangement. The band had decided to fire Graham, but Santana's personal manager Stan Markum hadn't been able to muster the courage to do the deed. After Stan left the office Graham's secretary gave the secret away. Graham flew into a rage and raced to Santana's rehearsal studio. The sharp-tongued promoter shouted at the band members: "How could you do this to me after all I've done for you?" Gregg Rolie, the keyboard player, took Herbie aside and demanded he do what their manager had been unable to. Herbie told Gregg:"I couldn't do that! He got me my job!" Rolie replied: "We sign your paychecks. If you want to keep getting them you gotta go in there and take care of this problem." Herbie coaxed Graham outside and explained how the band's reasons were fair ones and that the promoter should "take it like a mensch." Miraculously, Graham acquiesced, and showed Herbie a new respect. Herbie remained a roadie with Santana for several more years but Gregg Rolie asserts that was the defining moment when Herbie Herbert became a manager. Herbie was one of two people to ever fire Bill Graham. The original Santana band released four albums during the time Herbie worked with them. He started as a roadie and eventually became the production manager. During his tenure with the band he made significant production advances in sound, lighting, power distribution and trucking. It was needed, too. The quality of live event production in the early Seventies was in a deplorable state. When bands came into sports arenas they had to contract with the venue and promoter for the most basic necessities...lights, sound, even the stage. In 1972 the original Santana group disbanded and Herbie left as well. Under an agreement with Santana Herbie took control of the sound gear, lighting system, power distribution equipment and even the big White Freightliner tractor-trailer rig for hauling it all. With these assets he started his first production company, "Primo Productions", with partners John and Jack Villanueva. Herbie left the Santana camp with a contract for Primo to provide live production for all Santana shows as well as the freedom to contract out Primo's services to the likes of Graham Central Station, Tower Of Power and Jeff Beck. Herbie stayed busy. As manager of Journey Herbie invented efficient logistical systems and profitable business arrangements out of whole cloth, out of his own head, and many of these ideas became standards for the industry. First and foremost, the five members of Journey and Herbie became, under a binding partnership agreement, equal partners in all the dealings of the corporation. And make no mistake, Journey was a corporation. The parent company, Nightmare Inc., furnished the services of Journey to the label and was an umbrella under which several wholly-owned subsidiaries flourished. There was a tour support company for lighting and staging, called Nocturne Productions. There was what is now known as Rebanda Trucking, to get everything where it needed to go. There were music publishing companies: Weedhigh Nightmare (BMI) and Twist and Shout Music (ASCAP). There was a fan club now known as Fan Asylum. There was even a real estate investing group called the Daydream Partnership, to better aggregate office, rehearsal and storage facilities under the Journey name. Any time there was a real need for any kind of service for the band or management, Herbie would find a way to create an in-house business entity to serve that need. By controlling physical assets instead of shuffling sales receipts, Herbie was able to increase the profits for the corporation. His offices had full time promotional, accounting, marketing, merchandising and travel people. His desire to provide state of the art technical and logistical production values to every aspect of live production saw his ancillary companies' assets in high demand. When Journey was not using their production and tour support, it was leased to other acts who could count on the industry standard in live performance staging. But Herbie's negotiating grease was in more than just live performance. He knew that he had to have the label's promotional division behind Journey as well. He worked the employees of CBS, offering pep talks and solutions. He streamlined communication between label and artist. He painted win-win scenarios in a time when the industry was acknowledged by the Wall Street Journal to be in a "downturn." Herbie bucked the status quo by foregoing print and radio advertisments in favor of point of purchase displays at retail stores. In a blur of efficiency he acquired a toll-free number for retailers to call for fast delivery of Journey promotional materials. He rewarded everyone who helped him further the cause. He gave hundreds of gold and silver commemorative albums at his own expense to everyone from label execs to sales clerks. Loyalty and team spirit building grew wherever he went. Herbie could speak the language of the CBS bureaucracy, succesfully exploiting the huge resources of the label. His coach mentality and inexhaustable supply of energy gathered tangible results. And what about the developement of the actual band members? Herbie saw to it that they prepared like warriors for battle. Schooling in singing and movement were followed by subtler approaches like consciousness training. The band submitted to personnel changes and blunt criticism. Herbie had told them up front that he wanted complete autonomy and the Last Word on running Journey's career. Herbie didn't dictate from an ivory tower. Like his mentor, Bill Graham, he got right into the face of his intended ally and went to the mat for what he wanted. And what Herbie wanted usually made sense to most people. Of course, when people wouldn't see things his way he had an answer for that, too. Herbie Herbert celebrated his thirtieth birthday on February 5, 1978, gazing at the nightime sky above the little brown house in Orinda he rented for $300 a month. He was totally broke. Two nickels in his pocket would have been a happy meeting. He was wondering how he was going to pay rent. Here he was at the benchmark age, and still in the business. Beset by a thirty-year-old's doubts, he despaired over whether he had wasted his life. Maybe, he thought, it was time to pull the ripcord and get a real job. It wouldn't be the world's greatest tragedy. He'd accomplished a lot. There would be no shame if he tossed in the towel. He'd been very successful in his early twenties with Santana. Life had been intoxicating and wonderful chasing that dragon. Now, after a long road, Herbie was days away from the release of Journey's fourth album. It was the album that almost didn't get made by the band that almost sank into obscurity. First, some background: The first Journey album had sold over 150,000 copies and was still selling. The second album had sold upwards of a quarter of a million and continued to sell. When the third album sold "only" 100,000 units the label balked. In an era when disco was king, the execs decided it wasn't going to be worth it to support the band. Even though Herbie had put Journey through a successful world tour the band was told by CBS it would be dropped. Anybody else would have frantically cut their losses. Herbie turned the situation to his favor. He convinced the label not to give up on the band. The label agreed but insisted that Journey use Roy Thomas Baker to produce the new record. Herbie agreed on the condition of a rise in Journey's royalty rate. The deal was struck. Herbie found and hired a new singer for the band, someone who could act as a focal point and provide a little heart-throb star appeal along with heart-wrenching vocal skills. Herbie was going to save Journey's future and save his own at the same time. One more swing at the bat was all he asked. Miracles were needed. Walking on water, quacking like a duck and spinning flip-flops had only approximated the wild gesticulations necessary for the label to cough up resources to record "Infinity." Would the record sell? Herbie wasn't going to take any chances. He redoubled his efforts. CBS was smugly certain that Journey would never have a hit. It wouldn't matter what Herbie did. And since, according to the label people, nothing was going to work, Herbie decided to make it happen. He got every A list promoter in the country to agree to headline Journey coast-to-coast and border-to-border at theatres. He did massive point of purchase merchandising, sensing it was where Journey's captive target demographic would be found. He knew there would be no big ticket, mass media advertising by the label. Instead, Herbie went into record stores and worked employees with merchandise and free tickets. Tickets were big currency and front row seats for Journey could get a lot of things done. He created and rallied a frantic and effective Journey fan club. He put Journey's music in airports, on airplanes, in elevators and in shopping malls, anywhere that would increase the public's familiarity with the band's songs. Herbie insisted on high-visibility graphics. Journey toured and toured and toured. For 121 days, starting on March 1st, 1978 in Racine, WI, the so-called DOA tour with Montrose and Van Halen pounded throughout North America. No opportunity to turn even a slight profit was ignored. Every living, breathing lead offering any possibility of increasing Journey's market share was chased down. By early 1979 Journey's fourth album "Infinity" had gone triple platinum without a charting single. Herbie's dream of success had worked beyond his most fantastical imaginings. The industry woke up one morning and realized that Herbie Herbert was: "Da Man." "I was trying to figure out what it was that we had done together. Gregg Rolie, a founding member of Santana and Journey, pointed it out to me one day. We'd been successful and we'd made a lot of money, but it seemed there was another way it needed to be described. Gregg said: 'We risked our lives.' I said: 'There you go. That feels correct to me.' We really did hang it all out and put it on the line. That's the bottom line. It's a risk/reward ratio." Herbie clearly saw the need to control all aspects of his business and, by doing so, save money, build equity and share wealth for himself and his company. Using this new business model the band carried everything to a show. All risers, platforms, lighting, sound, consoles, barricades, the entire stage, all rigging motors and a complete office, with cases full of typewriters, walkie-talkies, etc., traveled with the band. A crew of 30 people traveled with 6 tractor-trailers, putting up the show in four hours and taking it down in two, night after night. Herbie's businesses handled every aspect of lights, sound, trucking, promotion, travel arrangements, rigging and stage costs, recording, video costs, equipment, supplies and repairs. 1982 brought Herbie's logistical genius and technological prowess together in an awe-inspring piece of stagecraft that instantly became the event production benchmark for the entire concert industry. The whole center field wall of a baseball stadium was taken up by a gigantic five panel structure combining a huge stage, two enormous speaker stacks covered by colorful painted scrims and two giant TV screens each about half the size of the stage itself. No one had ever seen a rock and roll show like this before. By using new video image magnification technologies at a live concert every seat in the arena was now a front row seat. Herbie had raised the bar on production quality again. Herbie set about teaching the music business how to really make money. He would tenaciously negotiate for the highest yield per unit sold per dollar grossed, whether songs, t-shirts, tickets or CDs. Under Herbie Herbert's business model all royalties - publishing, licensing, merchandise sales or mail order - were paid directly to the band with no deductions. And all the separate entities of the business were required to be run from the tour profits. Touring was the largest source of income for the band, with Herbie routinely netting 70% of every dollar grossed. Between 1978 and 1988 the members of Journey pocketed over 65% of the gross receipts. By 1986 Herbie Herbert had become a full time empresario in rock and roll. During the golden years of Journey he sheparded the band through a startlingly long string of record-breaking successes. The accomplishments of Journey are well documented: consistent sellouts, ground-breaking stagecraft technologies, endless touring and record breaking sales statistics. Journey has sold well over 50,000,000 albums worldwide and continues to sell to this day. In 1987 it was decided that Journey would take a long hiatus. They had been steadily liquidating assets since 1984 and now wanted to sell Nocturne. Herbie and Journey guitarist Neal Schon bought 100% of Nocturne Productions from the remaining members of the band. Herbie continued to have tremendous management success, guiding the careers of Europe, Roxette and Mr. Big. Those three acts sold another 50,000,000 albums worldwide. Herbie stopped being Journey's manager on January 1st, 1993. He spent one more year managing various acts, including Roxette and the Steve Miller Band before hanging up the jersey of band manager. The personality of Herbie Herbert as big name band manager was now totally historical. It was buried. What does a successful man do when he reaches the top of his game? He evolves. Now the man who bet everything on the audience's love of "showtime," the man whose serious love of major league sports gave him so much pleasure, the man described by the legendary Bill Graham as: "...fully capturing the necessities of what managing should entail and exemplary of what the term manager means" faced a new chapter in a magical life. Walter James Herbert II would reinvent himself again. But this time, he would be in the spotlight, as Sy Klopps. © 2006 Sy Klopps, www.syklopps.com/bio.html