I get more people asking, “When are you guys going to play another show with Blondie?” than just about any other question.
After arriving in London from South Africa at the age of 16 with his group, The Flame, he and band were immediately discovered and scooped up for the Beach Boys label (Brother Records) by no other than Carl Wilson. They recorded a now hard to find self-titled record that did marginally well and played the west coast, quickly becoming a top club draw. But the band, like many thrust into a new environment, blew apart and were set to go back to Africa when Carl decide to get Blondie and drummer Ricky Fataar (Now with Bonnie Raitt) to become part of the Beach Boys. (He told me his first performance with them was on bass and vocal, live on Radio Berlin! A version of “Surf’s Up”)
From there came recording dates with the Beach Boys that culminated with the album, “Holland” and the hit single in which Blondie sang the lead: “Sail On Sailor”. This version of The Beach Boys can also be heard on “The Beach Boys In Concert”, (One of the best bands ever heard, in my opinion) as well as the “Carl And The Passions” record.
From there comes a messy breakup with the BB’s, a solo album on Electra and the beginning of a career as sideman/secret weapon for the likes of the Band, Byrds, David Johansen and countless other recordings all the way up to the Stones.
Blondie was also the first artist, along with Rick Danko, to sign on as a performer on the First Waltz concert series NTO put on some years back. He was on the road with the Stones at the time and sent me a copy of a solo record he was in the middle of finishing and said to pick a song to learn for the show. This is how our relationship as Blondie’s backing band came to be. We couldn’t settle on just one! Over the years, the band and I have learned nearly two albums worth of songs and have toured the country together as a two-headed show. (His and mine)
Our reason for playing together this time is two-fold: 1. The Stones are back in town, which brings Blondie back with them and a chance for us to play together. 2. The release of Blondie’s first solo album in over 25 years: “Between Us”.
Also of note: Blondie, John Pirruccello and myself along with a truly bad ass bunch of musicians recorded a gospel record with Keith Richards for Marsha Hansen, (Gospel singer and Keith’s sister in-law) which is available along with her book on gospel hymns, entitled: “My Soul Is a Witness: The Message of the Spirituals in Word And Song”. It was recorded in Keith’s home studio, where we all tried like hell not to swear our heads off in front of Marsha. For three days, the band from Hell, led by Satan’s pal, ran through a hit list of gospel songs. What came out was a wildly ambient recording produced by Fraboni and Keith, chronicling either the ascent of our souls or the decent of hers. (Strangely enough, I’d quit drinking around two months earlier. A baptism in fire!)
Won’t be playing any gospel stuff on this show, however. Just Blondie’s and my own.
These shows tend to sell out, due to the innuendo of a Richard’s jam session, so it might be a good idea to get your tickets early at Fitzgerald’s or Ticketmaster. Hope to see you there.