I like anything. Anything comes to my head, I swear I can come up with it. I understand every theory of music. That's why I can become that, become this. I knew that type of a song. Steve Cropper and I, we recorded that song right after Stax had just about finished over at Trans-Maximus Studio, which is, Steve had a new studio. We went off in the studio. He had some new musicians, and they were all playing. Rock guys, or country and western. Only soul person was me and Steve. We came up with this album. I came up with the album called, I'd say a rock album. He said, okay, my interpretation of it. We came up with the song, "When the Sun Goes Down." As I'm singing that, we only did it one time because you couldn't just sit down and write that. We put the music together because I wrote that song as we sung it. I didn't know what words I was going to say other than "when the sun goes down." I just made it up. [sings 'When The Sun Goes Down'].
The band is listening. I said, "Come on." [sings]. They said, "Oh, yeah." We're just talking, and they're listening. We got the groove on. Guitar player felt a little [sings]. It just went into a thing, and everybody kind of just played. I bet you money nobody would be ... I don't know if we could ever could do that in person unless, well, we could. But, then we'd have to write everything down the way what came out on the tape.
You'd go out and listen to it and transcribe it all, work out what you did when you made it up.
Yeah, I would know the lyric by now by listening at it, and Steve would have to know what he did, that's that, the build-ups and the slow-downs, but we did a complete album of that called 'Down to Earth'. I don't know if you had the whole album or just that one song.
Well, it's an album called 'Down to Earth' that Stax, as they were closing, that album got in at least to be released, but it was too late for Stax.
They couldn't push it or anything.
No, they didn't push it. It's now out on Concord Records that has the Stax label, all of their records. Concord Records here in the US, and actually, it's brand new again. That one song that you're talking about is on a brand new album out of the clear blue sky. When I got the album, it had 'When the Sun Goes Down' out of that rock album from years ago. That's strange, you mentioned that.
It was on the Stax Profiles CD. That's where I heard it.
Okay, that's the one.
My friend drew it to my attention. He said, "Incredible."
They just released that Stax Profile on various artists, and they stuck that song in there.
Well, I'll tell you what, if they promoted that right, that could be a hit. It missed the first time, because like you said, STAX couldn't push it.
But, you know what will happen? I'll be on a show, and somebody will say, 'When the Sun Goes Down', just like they said, 'Big Bird'. Maybe I'll eventually-
You'll have to learn it or something.
Yeah, start doing that one, too.
Well, I do. I think it'll be a tough one to get down.
Oh, no. I bet you it wouldn't.
You don't reckon?
No, because when you mention the song, I can now hear all those little parts. I can even-
I'm not worried about you. I'm worried about the band.
Oh, no. Well, yeah, they have to slow down and have to build back up, but if you've got a production, they can do it. They can do anything. It was like here in Memphis on the Memphis in May show yesterday. We had three musicians on the stage. They didn't even know the songs. We were doing all of that. The bass player, he had never heard 'Big Bird,' and he played it. He said, "Wow, that's awesome. When dd you record that song?" Right after we finished the show, because our regular bass player had another show and didn't know that I was going to be on the Memphis in May show. The bass player was out. The horn players, they were out. They got two other horn players, with all these people in Memphis. This is what I was saying about, this is the Memphis music, ladies and gentlemen. That's what the music is all about. Everybody contribute a little something into that music. It's really very simple. The reason I was saying that is because we've got some new people in the back and nobody out there. No.
I'm dead serious. I never sang that song. As we were telling them, I said, "No," and after we sung the song, everybody in the band was back in the dressing room. You might hear somebody over in the corner. They would say, [sings]. I as just thinking out here, [singing 00:06:10] because it was always one of those things. You see, I did so many different styles on my albums and didn't keep on track to try to make everything sound alike, put out a blues, maybe that's how they miss a lot of my stuff. They might pull one song out and we'd be successful with it. They don't realize all these other things. They say, "Wow, who is this guy? He's uptown, he's downtown, he's out of town. He does everything." I said, because I've always wanted to do that from day one. I've heard everything. I hear everything. I write country and western. I like everything.
Eventually, somebody's going to hear it. You heard "When the Sun Goes Down," and that was my little thing. I said, "Let me get just a little taste of the rock." We did go to a few cities like San Francisco where rock would have been accepted at that early time.
Tell me about the first time you played 'Big Bird'. How'd the audience react? Because, it's so different to any other song recorded around at the time.
At that time, 'Big Bird' was just before all those real rock songs, but the only real reason it came out the way it did was because of me telling Booker T about Otis and me being at the airport in London. I had this idea for a song, and I was scared to death. I refer to a plane as a bird, get on up, big bird. He heard what I was saying. He made a sound like, [sings]
That's the airplane flying.
[sings] then, it's [sings].
That's what it is.
When the pilot says, "Okay, ladies and gentlemen. We're 33,000 feet up."
I now unbutton your seat belts.
That's where, I tell them to fasten their seatbelt, because there's going to be a little turbulence, always a little turbulence. He did it like that. I don't know if you know who played on 'Big Bird'.
Guitar player, who was the guitar player on 'Big Bird'? Skip Pitts?
Get on up, big bird. Who would you think the guitar player would be?
Well, Cropper would be my first guess, but it's obviously not Cropper, or you wouldn't say it.
Allman Brothers? Duane Allman? Isn't it? Who is it?
On guitar and bass. On guitar, bass, and there was a little French horn in that, played that little thing.
Isn't that amazing?
[sings] Booker. Everybody, when I'm going to shows, I'm doing shows, they'll all say, "Steve," and then I'll correct them and say, "Uh-uh." What? That couldn't have been Booker, because no one has seen him play it, but Booker will play all of that stuff. He always did. I was trying to tell a little story last night, just because of the 50th anniversary. I said, "I don't ever stop and talk. Just go straight on through the songs."
Well, I don't know how many people would know that, because I've never read that anywhere.
No, we haven't given it. If I don't say it, it's gone, because there's no history of it, how you put songs together. There's no history. We don't, for some reason, well, if we do an interview, then I tell you, and now it's documented, then people would know, but yeah. Booker T played guitar on 'Never Found a Girl' and played bass because it was three o'clock in the morning, like I said on the show. 3:00 AM in the morning, we got an idea. We're trying to write a song, anyway. We're there at the studio at STAX. It's me, Al Bell, and Booker T, nobody else, three o'clock in the morning. Wow, we've got this idea. Oh, man, this is bad.
Booker started playing the guitar. No, he's off playing the piano. It was Booker on piano, too. He was on three things. Well, what do we need? We nee a drummer. If we just got a drummer, then we can put two tracks down, drums, keyboard, with me singing a little track on top of it. Booker, what are we going to do? Three o'clock in the morning, he calls Al Jackson, wakes him up. By 4:00, Al Jackson's at the studio. About 4:30, we've got a hit, because they all came in and hear the thing. Yeah, that's nice. He started playing, and Booker played the piano. I sung a little scratch, and Booker went back. He said, "Let me put the bass on." He put the bass on. He said, "Let me put the guitar on." He put the guitar on.
Then, I said, "Let me put my real voice on." I put my real voice on, six o'clock in the morning, that's what we had. We listened to that, said, "Wow. That is really nice." Booker went back, then, and wrote strings for it.
This is 'Never Found a Girl'?
Yeah, and we got Ollie and the Nightingales, one of the background groups to come in and do the song. That was it, 'Never Found a Girl'.
I'll tell you, if you've got to wake Al Jackson up at three in the morning, you'd better make it a hit.
We would do that. That was just the guys. That's the way we put out stuff together. We would do that.
You could call-
Not for one time did we think he would slam the phone down, "It's three o'clock in the"-
Anyone was available at all times, if you thought you really were on to something?
Well, not really, but I'm just saying, if the occasion came up. We knew we had something. All he needed was a drummer to kind of set it. He called him, but we've done that before. A lot of guys will come, like Wayne Jackson has come by the hotel that I would be staying at. Steve and I will be writing all night, and Wayne has probably finished a show here in Memphis, doing a gig. Wayne got a trumpet, and whatever we were writing, we needed where we just had a little tape recorder. He came over to the hotel after the show instead of going home to put his little part down. I did it. We had, the next morning, we go into the studio and come in and then record it. Guys would do that.
Like I say, on 'Big Bird', when I came back and we were talking about 'Big Bird', you know how we wrote 'Big Bird'? It was during the time that Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated. I was at Booker's house, the first time I'd ever been to Booker's house. We were going to write some songs, and that happened, and the curfew. All of a sudden, the city's full with National Guard, everything. Nobody better be on the streets, so I stayed at his house all night when we wrote 'Big Bird'.
Is that right?
It's always some incident that happens when people are writing songs. It's a great reward, though, when the song happens and the people likes it.
I reckon you didn't record as much material as a lot of other songwriters, right? You didn't do album, upon album, upon album. You did a fair bit of stuff, but some of them recorded much more than you, but never generated the same hits. You had a good batting average, I reckon.
I reckon you had a really good batting average. Do you know what I mean?
I let the big boys play, and then I just play in the middle. I get what I get. Every once in a while, something comes out. There's a movie, a new movie that's out with Kurt Russell. It just came out.
Oh, I know the one you mean.
Yeah, the Quentin Tarantino thing.
I got the record in that.
It's a song that's never been released. It's a demo. It's not even complete. They got it from Stax, I guess. That's the only one they're talking about in the movie. The movie's just come out. Incidentally, ladies and gentlemen.
What's it called?
Mohair Slim, I have a present for him, the very record I'm talking about.
Yeah, I have it in my truck.
So, they're going to release it properly? Have they released it, or are they going to release it?
Yeah, yeah. The album's come out, and the movie's just been released.
Yeah, just out the clear blue sky. I don't know. Somebody was telling me, "You got a new record out." I said, "What is it?" I'm thinking it's one of my main records. They say, "It's a song called 'Good Love, Bad Love'". I said, "'Good Love, Bad Love,' I remember that." It's not Steve Cropper playing. It's when I first came down to Memphis from Washington, DC. With Al Bell, who was a disc jockey there. I had a guitar player named Al McCleod. He played guitar and always wrote some songs. We wrote songs up in Washington, so when I came down, that was just one of the many demos that I was putting down on tape. Evidently, he went for that movie, they went through these and it worked within there. I haven't seen the movie yet, because I know it's just been released, but I'll get a copy of that. They sent me an album of the song on it.
Do you know the scene in which they play it?
What scene is it in which they play it, do you know?
I don't know. That's what I would like to hear. When you hear me, it is really unique, though. It's as different as 'Big Bird'.
Are you serious?
It's as different as the last song that we were talking about.
Yeah, 'When the Sun Goes Down'. Totally different, out of the character.
It must be early, if it's before you really hooked up with Stax properly.
Right. That seems to follow my trend. Even before I was with Stax, I still had something that was odd, but other songs that fit right into. I never think about trying to write every song to please you. I write them to please me. If you happen to like them, good.
That's the way to do it.
Well, that's the way I write.
Was that one that you wrote to try and impress the people at Stax?
To maybe bring you on as a-
No? Just one that came out of you?
Just wanted the song. That's what I'm saying. Once you hear, we've got a bunch of Eddie Floyd tunes. Somebody will pick out something. Hey, that's different. They'll pick out something. They must have picked out 'Good Love, Bad Love' for that movie. You'll hear me singing it, my voice is so high on that. It sounds like I'm in a hallway somewhere because that's all it was, was a demo, but it's really groovy, though. Real hard sounding guitar, though. [sings] because he was really supposed to play [sings], but he went [sings]. It was like a crash to play to a part. We were just singing it, [sings]. It's real good. You'll like it.
What year is it?
I can't remember, maybe the first year that I came. 66, really. 1966.
They pull out songs like that. I've got another one in that Soul Men movie. That's one we did, 'When the Sun Goes Down', we did another song. 'Oh, How it Rained'. It's only one instrument on it. It's me singing. That's as different as anything else, too. If you get that one, you'll say the same thing.
Yeah, that song was like, we were at the studio, Steve and I. It's raining. It's storming. It's like 2:00. We always write all night. It's in the middle of the night. It's storming so bad, "Man, there's some thunder and it's storming outside," so we took a microphone, opened up the back door, and put the microphone over top of the door and recorded the rain falling down, and all of a sudden, boom. The thunder came in, all of that. Well, okay. We've already had the success of 'Knock on Wood' that way, too. When we hear that thunder, he just did that.
Then, we sat down and off the top of the head again, I come up with this song, "Oh, How it Rained'. He had acoustic guitar, the first time Steve Cropper played acoustic guitar. He's got his foot down on the floor. That sort of sounds like a little drum, the way his foot is going. He's hitting the guitar. That's all you're going to hear, just me and him and the rain.
Is that it?
In the song, and I'm singing it down, like [sings]. Nothing up in the high, nothing real high. [sings] Way down, but real funky. As funky as that 'When the Sun Goes Down'.
Is that right?
If you've got the album, 'When the Sun Goes Down', and played that for everybody in Australia.
They would freak out.
They would freak out, because the whole complete thing, there are a lot of songs. There's another song on there called 'Linda Sue Dixon' that's Linda, L, Sue, S, D. LSD. Linda Sue Dixon, say [sings]. Real funky.
"Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," again. Like "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds." That was it.
Right. I would imagine, probably Stax think those guys have gone crazy. It wasn't any LSD anywhere. It wasn't even about that, but it was about tonight. That as a clever song. You've got to get that album, though.
Yeah, I will.
'When the Sun Goes Down'. You know what? I wish I had brought that album, because you can get that on the Concord as-
I'm going to try to and find it on vinyl.
You know what they have? I think on that one, they have a 'California Girl' album. That was one album. I don't know what's up.
I'm going to have to find that on LP, because I want to play that when I'm DJing at a club. I want to play it when I'm at a club. It'll blow their mind, I'm sure of it.
Yeah, it's a double album, what it is. It was two albums on there, just my style and then the 'Down to Earth' album.
You couldn't have made any singles out of that sort of stuff, because it all went for seven minutes, didn't it? You'd have to have part one and part two.
Yeah, that sounded like it was right out there, because I had already done the 18 minutes. Nobody's playing it, but-
Must be. I think 'When the Sun Goes Down' actually is more than that. I don't think it would even fit on part one and part two.
Well, it could. They could break it to part one and two.
But, even that, I don't think is going to be enough, because what is it, a maximum of three and a half minutes, or something? I think it goes for more than seven minutes. You obviously decided that was not going to be a single, but man, what a tune.
Yeah. They could edit that down, easy. What's happening on the one that you heard on the Stax Profile, you know that they had Dan Aykroyd, the producer of that album, he chose that. He didn't know that song at all, so they'd have to play him my catalog. He chose that song out of that rock album it's stuck into because playing with The Blues Brothers all the time, this guy knows the different things that I'll do. He knows about 'Big Bird.' I do it anyway.
Did Aykroyd choose it? Did Dan Aykroyd choose that tune?
He chose all the songs on the Profile, Stax Profile album.
Wow, okay. I've been getting good laughs out of people since I last saw you, because you told me how on the 'Knock on Wood' album, you can see the stickers still on the axe from where you'd been to the hardware store.
Oh, yeah, if you look at it. All you've got to do is look.
It's really obvious.
Yeah, if you look at it.
Whenever I'm at someone's house, and we run out of conversation, I say, "Have you got Knock on Wood album." They said, "Yeah." I'll show you something really interesting. They laugh. They love it, and also how you told how Stax sent you down there with a photographer because they thought it was 'Chop on Wood'.
That's why I had the axe. Now, we have another album out, the 50th anniversary of Stax. You haven't gotten that one yet.
You should talk about that, that'd be nice.
Oh, yeah. Definitely. I'll talk about the 50th anniversary. That album has one picture in the booklet that I hadn't ... I saw, and I could remember that. It's the same picture. I'm out there trying to figure out this ax thing, anyway, when I do this. Okay, then. You ready? In this new album that's out, they had other pictures of that session that I did, Stax did, and they gave them to put in this booklet. I'm standing up there with the axe.
On your shoulders?
On the shoulders. The axe still follows me. I don't know, I haven't looked close to see if the label is that way. I believe it was on both sides, but it was turned around a different way.
Yeah, it is. Everything seemed to follow it. Somebody probably said, "Okay, here's a song. Here's a picture of him. Let's get it with the axe." Maybe they can't relate it to 'Knock on Wood'. The new company probably don't even know that was the 'Knock on Wood'.
That's very funny. Where was that taken, that photo?
Straight down Poplar at Memphis State, the college, university, out in the park, under a tree. That's why I was saying, "Oh, yeah?" I'm dressed up. I'm down, outside of college. We're doing this picture outside, thinking we're going to the studio and do a nice photo for the album, like you do. But, no, we're doing something outside. Okay, I'm overdressed, 12 o'clock in the day, hot, Memphis. When I get there, he hands me this ax.
You're in a mohair suit or something?
Now, let me say, I don't know exactly where you would have been yesterday, but the lady who did all of that was standing right down in front.
Deanie Parker? You pointed to her. I couldn't see her, though.
She was just standing there in the corner.
She had a nice record, 'My Imaginary Guy', which I loved. It was never a hit, but it's a beautiful song. Did you ever go out to Muscle Shoals?
Yeah. Stax recorded stuff at Muscle Shoals that I was there. The Staples Singers, 'I'll Take You There', at Muscle Shoals and Stax. It is Stax, as far as the artist, but Al Bell went to Muscle Shoals, and did that with the guys at Muscle Shoals. Then, we started doing stuff down there. I had "Something to Write Home About," another song off of my album. I did go down there and record a couple songs with Barry and all the boys, David and all of them at the studio. I still see a couple of them. Little David played the bass.
Yeah. The Alabama Music Hall of Fame is there. One of the guys formed that hall of fame, and whenever we have an award show or something, I see a couple of the guys from the original band at Muscle Shoals.
I was up there about 10 days ago.
Okay, you saw David Johnson?
No, I met Rick Hall's wife. She told us all about the original studios. It's all pretty much the same as it was.
Yeah, might as well keep it.
Same equipment, the same piano that Spooner Oldham used to play on live.
Nobody would care if it was the new stuff. It probably may not be so accurate, but ...
They're just doing country now. Rick's wife said he'd love to do R&B, but there's no market for it.
Yeah, that's what he said, that's what she said.
She said it's what he loves to do. She said it's what he loves, and the country is just for money.
Well, see, he lost the fire. If I thought there wasn't no market, I guess I wouldn't be singing.
But for new R&B, that's what he thinks. I don't know.
I know, but that's what I'm trying to-
You just give up?
What'd I say? What'd I just say? Kurt Russell. That's what's wrong to me. It's a demo, 40 years ago. The rock, so slow as you can't tell. This guy said, "Wow, that's a song." That way, it may not be that you're on every station, but all that they're playing stuff. I've got more records now than I ever had out. I've got another record. I've got a scoop, but I can't give you that one. I'm going to let you hear it, though, before you go.
I'll let you hear it, because I saw your card and see all the styles of music you play. I say, okay. Do you know this artist from LA named Poncho Sanchez?
You mentioned that yesterday. I thought you were joking.
No, you've got to hear that. Oh, no, no. It's good. It's real good. I'm playing it-
I thought you saw some-
Mexican people, and were joking with them.
I was letting Deanie know that because Deanie, she knows about, she's dealing with Concord right now, but she might not know that Booker T, Steve, and I, we flew out to LA, and we recorded 'Knock on Wood' and 'Raise your Hand' with Poncho. Poncho's a jazz percussionist. He's been in the Latino thing for 24, 25 years with that company, actually, and doing really, very well. I was doing tours overseas. A couple times, I've seen them on the show. Didn't know him.
All of a sudden, last year, I got this call. You should come and sing on this thing. When I meet Poncho, he was telling me when he was in school, that was the first songs he sung, was "Raise your Hand," man. I've been singing "Raise your hand" my whole life, but I never got a chance to do it nowhere. He wanted to show everybody that he know the soul music. You listen to that, when you hear it. They don't hear Poncho sing. He gets other Latino guys to do some. He might be in some of that, but I don't think in this album, I believe he's just doing those three. He's doing 'Shotgun', Junior Walker with Maceo Parker. Bad!
Doing the sax? Yeah?
Oh, man. I'll play it for you, just before you leave.
I'd love to hear it. Then, he's doing "Raise your Hand"?
The name of the album is 'Raise your Hand', out of the jail thing, but then he's showing them he can do rock, so in the song, I guess I should just let you hear it, but it's still all right. You hear it and know what's happening by the end of it. You've got to hear it still. He gets down at the end like we used to do back in the day in the soul thing, on a record like James Brown. He says, "Night Train." [sings] "New York." You know, Philadelphia [sings]. Just saying these things so people say, "Yeah! He mentioned our city!"
Poncho's thing, he's telling everybody, "raise your hand, everybody, raise your hand. Steve Cropper, I want you to raise your hand. Booker T, raise your hand. Eddie Floyd, I know you know how to raise your hand. I want everybody in New York City to raise your hand." He starts saying, you can tell he's thinking as he's doing it. He said, "LA, everybody in LA." It must be something that plays. He said, "In my hometown in Texas," I say, "Right, don't forget that." That means he heard all the stuff back in the day, or he never would have done it that way. He did it just exactly like the old style.
That was the thing that 'Dancing in the Street', and that sort of thing was that if you mention enough towns, hopefully, that would push it along. You mention some cities, and people get excited. They mention Chicago.
Yeah, that was a thing like everything else. You know what I'm saying? When you did hear that.
We were just going to mess with your mind yesterday and yell out for some Falcons tunes.
Okay. I've got another session that's going to be out in August where I just did [sings] I just recorded that on an album that [sings] from a young man, Mike. I'm looking at Mike now, this young guy who came to me with another song that he said, "This is one of the first songs you ever wrote." I'm looking at him, saying, "What're you talking about?" I would like to record that on you. I said, "What's the song?" He said, "It's a tune called 'Since You Been Gone.'" All the way back to 1956. I said, "Wow, the way my songs go, I don't know if people be knowing all these things." Then there'll always be somebody to pop up out of the woodwork and tell me that. I'm still looking at it, and I'm saying, [inaudible]
He said, "I'll send you the record." They live in Boston. He said, "I'll put a track together, see if you like it." I said, "Hey, if you could take me all the way back to my beginning, when it's close to my ending, okay." I said, "Let me hear." When they sent it to me, I flew up, and I put the five tracks down. He had to go all the way back to the beginning. "You're So Fine'," he was asking me, "I'd like to do 'You're So Fine' again." That's how we ended up doing 'You're So Fine', but the song called 'Since You Been Gone', he said, "The reason I like this song," he said, "I heard 'Stand By Me' by Ben E. King" and I know the time that he put that out. He said, "You wrote this song in the 50s?"
Four are five years before.
Before having that. I'm saying, "I guess a lot of songs were before their time." That's how they say that 'Big Bird' and all these others, before rock time, and all the above.
"When the Sun Goes Down."
I'll take that recognition. It was a little different approach than what the other guys do.
You eat, but I don't want yours to get cold. Man, I've got to hear that record. I actually don't know that one. That's pre-Falcons?
What it is, is he got it, and the song ... We were in a rehearsal, every artist that you can name. The Falcons, we would be in one. We'd rent a little room, and they've got a piano in each one of them rooms. Every group would go there and rehearse songs in the rehearsal hall. You didn't need a mic or anything, because the room would echo. It'd be with a echo. Willie Schofield, bass player, he's playing piano, and Lance Finney, the guitar player, evidently maybe he's not there, because he would have been playing on that, but he's not playing on it. It's just the piano. He's singing with The Falcons in the background.
I said, "Wow, yeah, okay." He put the song together, and then, if you heard my voice on the new one, nothing has changed, just more mature when I did it the second time. I love it, though. Boy, I said, "That's a hit, but it's so far back, lyric-wise," and all of that, but so is that song in that movie. People evidently don't care about this astrology thing or how old, or what a man would say to a woman in this day and time, opposed to what he said way back.
As long as you don't say, these days you can't say, "I'm gay," whereas before, you could say, "I'm gay." It meant you were happy, like Chuck Jackson.
'Any Other Way', that William Bell also do. [singing 00:38:58] When William Bell did it that way, Chuck Jackson changed it a year later, but he knew what they meant. [inaudible 00:39:07].
He's been just changing up. I know them both. They're buddies, still, even right now.
There was something that I did on stage yesterday, just talking to somebody, just before that show, about 'Big Bird' and the lyric. They said, "What's the fascination? Everybody like the 'Big Bird'." Then I told them, I said, "Yeah, but ... " I explained what I'm talking about. Some people know big bird is a plane. Maybe they're not really listening to it, only just the chorus. Get on up, big bird, then listening to the verses, because I'm talking about ... I'm not saying in the song that I'm sitting [inaudible] adjusting yourself. Get on up, big bird. That's not what I said. My mind went to a train station. That's what I said on the record. [sings] I meant to say airport.
Ah, interesting. Yeah, right. You were so into it in the moment that you said station instead of airport.
Train station instead of airport. Didn't know it was close, did you?
I never thought about that, that's funny.
You will from now. Yesterday, on the stage, I said it.
Airport or station?
You got it right, finally.
No, I only just did that. I'm going back to station. I only just did it. [inaudible] [sings] then, my mind went back. Yeah, that sounded pretty good. [sings] Thank you.
That Betty Harris, you're going to see her in Porretta. She's at the Porretta Soul Festival. She's on that, and you'll be there with Sir Mack Rice, speaking of Falcons.
Actually, at the Porretta thing?
Yeah, isn't Mack Rice on that show?
Mack might be on that show, but something's wrong with that show, because I just got through talking, after you called me last night, excuse me, I had somebody there. We were talking about that very show. He said, "You're going to be on that, aren't you?" I said, "Somebody better call me."
What? What do you mean?
What I'm saying, I'm seeing it on the website. Stax Anniversary show. We've done played for the guy many times. He's been over every time when we do the Stax reunion. He'll probably be here for June, when we do the thing.
Just to watch it, because he likes it.
Yeah, and he comes over. I've been there with The Blues Brothers on that same show. He said, "I will host it this year, but we're not going there." Sir Mack Rice, he might just be getting some of the other artists from Stax, but he got my name on there.
Are you going?
No. I'll be away, doing a tour.
It's nothing to do with-
We wanted to do of course England, because what? When we left here, that's the way all [inaudible] We're not doing England either. We're doing three shows for the 50th Anniversary.
Oh, so it's traveling. I thought that was just here.
I thought that was just here.
That it's just here? No, we've already done one. We did-
Oh, I didn't even know.
We did South by Southwest.
Oh, okay. So this is-
Yeah, this is with The Temprees?
Right, this one would be in June.
Yeah, with Booker T.
Then, the third one will be LA in August.
You're not going to play the-
What's it called, The 30-20 Ballroom?
What was that ballroom that they recorded Stax Live at in LA? The 20 30 Ballroom, or whatever it's called. You must have heard that. Is that where it was?
That's not where it'd be, I think.
It's probably ripped down by now.
Yeah, I'm sure [inaudible] we're playing.
Okay, let me know.
And Concord, because of-
The records and all that stuff, celebrating it, and because everybody was booked to go on other shows. There wasn't anybody who actually took that over to really coordinate that. They could have did a whole major tour on that. We're doing a major-
It makes sense to do it. If you've got all this publicity behind the records, why not put them together?
They're putting those three together, two for the-
I mean, all these bands, they can organize worldwide tours for years on end, dozens and dozens of gigs a year.
You've seen some advertisement on it?
No, I only know because Betty told. [inaudible] Yeah, I know Eddie, and I'm going to see him in Porretta.
She's been talking about Sir Mack Rice, but she only mentioned Eddie, she only mentioned you just now, whereas before she was talking about with Sir Mack Rice. It surprises me. Maybe, I don't know.
If you punch in to that Porretta website, then you'll see they've got the 50th anniversary. I think they only mention me, and I think they mention William Bell, Booker T and the MGs. Carla Thomas, even, and Carla ain't singing nowhere. It's Mable John and a lot of the other ladies that had a couple records on Stax is on there.
Yeah, I know Mable John.
She's on it, yeah. Carla is out of it. She can't sing, ain't going to be able to perform. [inaudible]
Has Mack Rice been performing for the last 20 years?
He's a real performer. He's probably a writer, but he just performed, though. I was just off here in Memphis last month. He played at Stax. They have a Monday night little show, about 200 people. I was there, actually it was two months, now. It was all the press come out from Australia, too, was there for the announcement of the 50th anniversary. People from England and Norway, all over, France, were there, and later that night Mack sung. That was the first time I've seen Mack [inaudible]. Because people really love him as well as the song, so he do go out, unless somebody get him to go, but we don't cross each other and know it.
I did interview him some years ago. He's a lovely guy, really nice bloke.
He's on that song that's getting ready to come out.
What? Which one?
'Since You Been Gone', the one I told you The Falcons wrote.
Oh, yeah? He's on that? On the original one?
Well, the way Mack Rice came into be is me being in Detroit, back during that time in the interchange, and guys in The Falcons trying to get our group. Our group, we finally met Mack Rice, and he was in another group. He switched and came to The Falcons. We've been [inaudible] as The Falcons. Then I left, and I recorded Knock on Wood in Memphis and came back to Detroit with a number one record. All The Falcons came to the show. Eddie's got a hit. Yeah, they come to see me. Then, I tell Mack, I said, "Man, the studio in Memphis, Stax, is really happening. You ought to come and go with me." The next morning, I said, "I'll get you a ticket." The next morning, we flew back to Memphis. That's how he got in Memphis.
Mack Rice has got his bags packed.
He got there as a writer, same way I did. I took him with me. Then, Mack stayed there the same, went through the same things. He wrote all them songs, wrote 'Mustang Sally', 'Cheaper to Keep Her', wrote all that stuff. [inaudible]
Yeah, well now, when we did 'Mini-Skirt Minnie', now, that's with my uncle.
Yeah. When both he and I went on our own, he did that, and I did a song called 'I'll Be Home'. We used to do a little, almost like a Sam and Dave thing. We would be on the same show, but he'd be doing his song. I'd do mine. We might sing a Falcons song, go all down the east coast. We only did it for that year, though. He did that, then he wrote all these songs here in Memphis and he lived here 20 years.
Mack Rice runs a road fixing company in Detroit.
Yeah, he formed that six months after he left from here.
Probably a pretty good business, I would think.
I remember the day he packed up all his clothes, put it in his car, and said, "I'm going on back home, finally." Then, I came into Detroit. Next thing I know, I was at his company. They had about 15 big trucks and maybe about 30 employees. They were all coming in. Some of the guys paying him off, for working. All right, Sir Mack Rice, that's the man, you're into the asphalt, huh? He said, "Yeah, I do a little small driveways, and did that, and now you have a major, big business."
It's worth a lot of money?
Yeah, it's a big company. [inaudible]
Yeah, I was up in Detroit.
Yeah? Okay. You've been over here long?
Four weeks. I leave tomorrow.
Four weeks. Yeah, it's all my holidays for the year. I have to work for another 11 months straight.
That's all right. Yeah, I love Detroit, and I'm now a record collector. I collect 45s and I've never seen the 45s lik they've got up in Detroit.
You collect 45s?
Yeah, and they've got so many records up there. The way someone put it to me, is they said that in the soul era, the rhythm and blues era, Detroit was a rich town. All the car industry up there.
I lived there right at that time.
You know what I'm talking about?
I know the Motown story as much as I know the other story, because my uncle and Berry Gordy were partners before he started Motown. My uncle had The Falcons. He had Betty Lavette. He had Marv Johnson. And, he had The Supremes. They were The Primettes. I'm just saying, then Barry had the little studio there on-
Uh huh, but, before he had the studio, just a block over is Euclid Avenue. A little apartment there is where all The Temptations, everybody came to audition. You can see it in [inaudible] around the corner and over to the studios. I feel like I was a part of that, but my uncle had us on the record. Then, later I met Al Bell, went to Memphis instead.
What they reckon is it was such a boom time, then suddenly jobs are-
Oh, it was good times.
In Ford, and everything, but since then, it's gone south. At the time, you had a wealthy black middle class who could afford to just buy records. They could buy all these records, look after them, but then when they left, and when things broke down, well they'd sell them up or whatever. There's all these records in Detroit that are just lying around, whereas they're not [inaudible 00:51:55]
On unreleased stuff, I've been on wasn't-hits with clever songs, all hits.
No, not just hits. For instance, my favorite record that I've picked up this trip is a Sir Mack Rice record on Lu Pine, "Baby, I'm Coming Home." [singing 00:52:17]
That's the same time I recorded 'I'll Be Home' in my uncle's studio, he recorded that one, and we went down the east coast. That was another one he had. I had 'I'll Be Home'. I couldn't remember the other record that I had. I had a couple records, he had a couple records. You just call off all of that.
Was that a hit?
No, but it was a hit in the region, a hit in certain areas. They would play [inaudible]
See, when I'm DJing out, I'll put that on. They love it. They don't want to hear all the hits. They want to hear a mix. They want to hear stuff they know, but then they want to hear new stuff, cool, obscure stuff. There's a lot. I don't know whether you have this here in night clubs here, but over there, if they're hearing something obscure that someone else doesn't know, that's cool. Then, they feel like ... I don't know how to explain, like they're an elite or something. They know something other people don't know. They don't want to just hear 'Hold on, I'm Coming'.
I dig it.
But, they want to hear stuff like Sir Mack Rice or you or Singin' Sammy Ward or whatever it might be, some obscure guy.
Did you see The Ohio Players last night?
No, I didn't catch them. I missed it.
I didn't either. [inaudible] again.
Right, and I guess the bass player is still with them.
Can you talk about that, and mention their names?
Well, only one that I can remember as far as The Ohio Untouchables is Robert Ward, because it was Robert Ward and The Ohio Untouchables. I should remember the bass player's name. It's slipping me, but I would have still saw him last night, and then he knows me. We went on to talk, but those are the only two that I remember in that band. Still, we went to Dayton, Ohio and did a little gig in the club, The Falcons. All we got is a guitar player. Fortunately, the band's going to be there. We met them, Robert Ward and The Ohio Untouchables. [inaudible] I met Wilson Pickett had been into Dayton gospel. Robert went gospel. That's how that hookup was.
So, we're in this club, singing. Robert Ward, at the end of the show, did a whole weekend. At the end, every night of the show, it's time to go. [sings] The girls start getting into a thing. We're in the dressing room, it's just The Falcons. We hear him say, "It's time to go, ladies and gentlemen. I don't know where you've got to go, but you've got to get out of here." Then, they say, [singing]. I heard that in a big harmony thing. Goodnight, ladies and gentlemen. [singing] gets that down, rote. [singing] behind that.
They went over to King Records, right over into Cincinnati. My uncle comes from Detroit. Cincinnati, we get the Ohio Untouchables. We went to the studio in Cincinnati and record 'I Found a Love'. It really was, ladies and gentlemen, it really was an Ohio Untouchables record. I think he was clever enough to say, "Write a song to it," and we got them to go into the studio and play it for us. Then, it was a hit. I've never seen them since, but I have seen Robert Ward through the years, but then when they become The Ohio Players, I said, "Hey, that's a band I started, really" Really? Back when they stated doing their stuff.
So they've still got the original bass player from The Ohio Untouchables?
I'm sure, because that would probably be the only one. Next month, at the Orpheum Theater, I'm flying her in from Las Vegas and honor her on the show. That's still moving.
You're talking about the old time, and this all went full circle. That's what I'm getting ready to do for my aunt, all about 'I Found a Love', 'You're So Fine', thank you for supporting me in my whole career, the whole bit. I'm saluting her and my uncle.
Mention his name. You always say "my uncle," mention his name, can you say his name?
Robert West and Catherine West. I've got to mention her. If you do check The Robert West Story, they'll mention how Aunt Catherine would pack up all the records and they would mail them out to the different radio stations in that day, in that time. Then, she hasn't been active. She never was really active in the music scene, but she was just helping her husband do some music back during that time. But, it's really nice to see that on some of the websites, that they do mention her.
That is cool.
She's 92. We're celebrating. I'm bringing her into Memphis for the Stax 50th anniversary. We will leave from here. We'll go to the museum the next day and see all of the records that I did through the years. Then, the following day, we're going to go to Muscle Shoals, to the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, where the Alabama Music Hall of Fame is honoring her also. She doesn't know any of this. When we get there, I'm going to show her all of my achievements in the Alabama Music Hall of Fame and thank her. I have a star with my name engraved in the floor, like Temptations and all, in the hall of fame. They also have a brick honor. They have all the artists outside of it built into the studio honoring Wilson Pickett. I've just had them to do ... Well, my brick is Aunt Catherine, Uncle West. Their names is in the hall of fame. I made sure, put them in the Alabama Hall of Fame.
Where were you born?
Montgomery, Alabama. That's where we're going. We're going to do this show, then go to Alabama Hall of Fame. Then, we're going home the next day to home and do her official birthday and it's a home reunion.
Isn't that beautiful?
Yeah, and after that, I'm off. July first, I leave with The Blues Brothers for 32 shows and let off with that one for 32 shows with Bill Wyman and back for four shows with The Blues Brothers, and back to about six shows with Bill Wyman again, all the way up to October.
Busy man, busy man.
Hey, blessed man.
It must be hard to just keep track of everything when you're always working out of a suitcase and that sort of stuff.
Shit, I love it.
You like it?
I get the best of both worlds. I'm always working out of a suitcase, but I'm always at home, too, because, hey, if I've got two days off, I could be in Istanbul, I go home. I'll see home, and then I'm in the suitcase again. As long as I see home, touch home. Oh, back to what I do, which is what I'm doing now. The only time I actually really get to drive is right now. This is the only place I will drive, from Montgomery to-
You still live in Montgomery?
About 300 miles, about four hours.
I was in Gadsden the other day.
Okay, you were in Birmingham, if you had went from Birmingham down to Montgomery, it's 70 miles. Gadsden is to the left. That's my family's home.
Yeah, we drove through. We flew into Nashville then drove down to Muscle Shoals, had a look around at the studios, then dropped into Gadsden on the way to Atlanta, on the way to Betty Harris's house, dropped in on a guy called Jerry "Boogie" McCain. He's an Alabama blues man. He's about 80 something years old, an old school blues man, tough guy.
He's an ex bounty hunter. I should show you something. You won't believe this. This is a picture of Jerry "Boogie" McCain at home, okay?
He's 80 something years old.
Hey, got a few still hanging in. I hope I'll be one of them.
You were in great form yesterday.
You were in great form yesterday.
Oh, hey. It was good.
It would have been brutal up there in that weather, and you're in the suit. How did you do that?
I would never wear anything else. If I came here with a t-shirt on, I'd be you. I come here with a suit, I'm me.
I love that. That's a good attitude.
I would never do that. I couldn't do, I was actually in the hotel looking at a pair of pants and a shirt. I'm saying, "You know it's going to be hot. You don't care about it being hot." I said, "No, everybody's going to be ... " I always do that to myself. I just didn't wear no tie. That'd be unusual for me to wear one or a little sweater. I said, "Look at it this way, there's a little sweater." No, I'm going to have the tie. Had it been eight o'clock ...
You would have had a tie as well.
Yeah, I would have had all that stuff on me. I'm old school. That's what that was. I see it now. I'm not saying that they're not entertainers, but that was our style.
You know what? I 100% agree with you. We had a young guitarist staying with us in New Orleans who's from back home. Me and my friend who are old school fools, we got him aside. We said, "We love your act. We reckon you're a great guitarist. All this is true, but you've got to have a style, man. You're getting up on stage. You're wearing jeans and sneakers. That's not creating an impression. That's not a performance. That's not showmanship." We said, "We don't care what the style is. You maybe wear a big cowboy hat and nice duds, or wear a suit and-"
"Slick your hair back, but you've got to freaking do something, man. You've got to do it quick." He thought we were joking until we kept on telling him. You have a look at all the big artists there's ever been, how many of them dress like slobs? No one. Got to look cool. Got to look like something.
Makes sense. People do it their way.
You can even tell with bands. I have this rule. If you look at a band when they're getting ready, most of the time, you can tell that they're going to be good or bad by what they wear, the way they carry themselves. Bobby "Blue" Bland last night, his band, let's do it both ways. Koko Taylor, night before last, Koko Taylor and the blues thing. Band get out, one's wearing a blue denim shirt. One's wearing a green thing, all these sneakers. Only the lead guy had a cool red thing on. Worst band I've ever seen. Worst bad I've ever seen. Bobby "Blue" Bland, they're getting ready for their show last night when I go in the tent. Everyone's in white shirt, a polo shirt, but with a collar.
He's not going to let them on stage with him unless they look like something. That'd be James Brown. That'd be him. That would've been Joe Tex in his time. That's just their style, and I appreciate that. I know those guys are going to be jazzed, though. One way or another, you're not coming on-
It's just that they hit it. Yeah, good.
They playing the thing. I'm glad to see Bobby was out there last night. I did a show with him about three years ago here, at one of the Blues Ball, and a couple of other times, I was always there at the same show that he was at. Both times, he was sick.
Yeah. Both times he didn't play. I was concerned about him. They say he goes off and on. Did he do good last night?
He was really good.
That's what I'm saying.
It's the third time I've seen him.
That's what I'm saying, he's been out of it a little bit, then I guess he does and does a gig.
Is that what he does, he takes a rest from it, takes a break?
I guess so. I thought, hey, I'm telling you, this has been six, seven years ago, I was seeing him. He might have been on the bus, and he was just laying there in his bed. The band was out playing all his songs, just instrumental, nobody actually even singing them. They had nobody to sing but Bobby nowhere. The guy said, "Well, Bobby's sick. You can't do the show tonight." Then, went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They were inducting him. I saw him at the hotel that night. There were a thousand cameras doing stuff. I'm going to wait until he comes out. As soon as he came out and he sat down, he didn't feel well. I felt like maybe he was not feeling well.
I think he was the best of the three gigs I've seen him do.
That's great. That means he's feeling better. That's good, but when you told me he was doing this show, I hadn't seen the whole schedule. I was saying this last night, "All right, Bobby's out there, getting ready to go on stage now, at 11 o'clock." They said, "Yeah, Bobby's on the show." I said, "Wow, I didn't know that." I'm getting too old now. I can't go back to see him.
I should have rung you earlier. I thought you might have dug that.
I didn't know.
You didn't know it was on?
If I did, if I had ...
The good thing, I mean-
That's great. That's good to know, though. Hey, we rock 'til we drop, simple as that. Wouldn't you know, you hate to see one down.
With something like Bobby "Blue" Bland, he would have enough money saved and own enough houses. He doesn't need to do it, does he?
No, but it's not really about that now. That's a blessing.
That's the one thing I don't know. Explain it to me.
It's a blessing that he doesn't need to do it, but that's his gift. Once you stop doing your gift, you're dead. Nobody wants to die, so we rock 'til we drop, simple as that.
Yeah, we'll let those other guys retire. No, no. Hey, just think about when you want to retire, though. There's still a fan out there that'll come there. Hell, I might have wanted to retire just before I did the show yesterday. I come on stage, and I see some people. I threw "On a Saturday Night" on them, and I see two over there singing it down, must know the song. So, suppose I retire. I'm just out of it. I still know I've got fans out there.
When you played yesterday, there was a girl, she can't have been more than 17 or 18. When you started with "Knock on Wood," she was going crazy, jumping up and down. Young, I mean really young. 12, 13 years younger than me.
12, 13. That's what I'm saying. It's amazing anyway, but hey, let's keep doing it. What else do I need to tell you? STAX, well it's about Stax. They're getting ready to release the film, 1967, the first year we did over in Europe.
They filmed it? Did they?
I've got it. I've got it at home.
Oh, this is them that did the Live in Paris and the Live in London thing.
Yeah, but that's not it. Everybody's thinking that's it, and I thought it was it. I kept looking at the place, but I couldn't really tell by the place. What's happening is that we went through England. We did that one first. I know they filmed something. I know they filmed, because we did all kind of publicity. We went on to Paris. We know we recorded in England, but I know they filmed something in England. We went to Paris the same way. They filmed you a little bit and recorded, so we do have the album Live in Paris.
It's new stuff?
No, no. It's just the two different songs.
Is the footage taken at the same time as the album was recorded?
The footage is taken the same time. We went over there for the first time.
Is it exactly the same gigs as went into the albums, the filming? Is it of exactly the same gigs?
What's happening is we did those two places. That's the only places we relate to, because the album back is London and Paris. But, we went to Norway, and we went to Scandinavia, too. We went to Oslo, Norway. That's where this film is coming from. These people here are not even advanced in the head as far as the music like the British are. We're all the way out of that into a place we never heard of. We heard of it, but all of a sudden we're in Norway. Where's that? Way up Eskimo, or whatever. We did the show at the theater there, making sure that they had the TV station, local, came in to film this R&B show. They're just going to film the first song, I guess. Somebody left the camera on for 48 minutes. It's got me singing not any of my hits, really. I'm singing "If I Had a Hammer" or something. One of the songs I'm singing. Sam and Dave are singing two songs. Otis was singing three songs. Booker T and the MGs played. Arthur Conley's playing his record.
'Sweet Soul Music'.
'Sweet Soul Music', and Carla hasn't come yet. Carla was on the other show, but Carla didn't make that show. It's 49 minutes, I think it is, or something. There's this company in San Francisco called Reel To Reel. They're 54 years in the business. They collect. The guy said, you name it, I'll send it to you. Oh yeah, yeah. He said, "We've got this footage of you guys overseas." I said, "You know, I've been seeing it all my life over there," saying, man I need to get a tape of that, but they're not showing the whole thing. They might show [inaudible] and show one of the others. It's in black and white. I said, "I need to get that." He said, I'll send it to you. He sent it to me.
That was four years ago, when we did the groundbreaking for Stax. Then, he said, if ever we decide to try to do something with that, it's just a little short, but it's a history thing. If we ever decide to do something with that, would you be interested? I said, "Of course." They're just now getting ready. I just signed a contract just before I left and emailed it back to him before. They're getting ready to come out with that in August.
Is that anything to do with the Concord thing, as well?
No, that's going to be San Francisco. Their thing is going to be documented. Like the guy say, he'll probably just put a story with it. That's what I'm saying. Put a story with it, where we went.
Like a documentary kind of thing.
Yeah, when we went, but they did one other one called 'Soul to Soul'. Wilson Pickett, and-
Is that him in Germany?
No, that was Africa.
You know when he went to Kenya and did that thing?
But, there's earlier footage of him, a whole thing on him in Germany. They filmed him from the time he arrived at the airport to the time he left.
No, this is the one that had Roberta Flack and, oh shit, who else did they have on that? Did they have Tina on that? Tina Turner and them? Yeah-
Lloyd Price, I think put it together. BB King was on it, I think.
That show, the Reel to Real people put that out.
I've got to get that on DVD.
Oh, it's coming out on DVD. This one is coming out on DVD.
Oh, yeah. It's perfect.
Everybody's hitting on that show, brother. That was our first time hitting Europe, just like Beatles hitting here. In it, you will see. We see it when they first start, and they always flashing through the people. You'll see maybe one guy out there. Somebody, I forgot who, was the first one singing. By the middle, there's about 30. Then, about halfway through that song, there was about 200, and by the end of the song, the whole building is going. Then, it's building more and more. Then, we're coming back to back on them. [sings]
Then, all of a sudden, they've got people laying on the floor. The police is there, all of a sudden. Now it's going crazy. They're pushing folks back. I'm out, and when I saw them doing that, I came off the stage and went out in the audience. I had them going. Otis stayed on stage, and Sam and Dave. Everybody else stayed on stage, and I jumped out in there where they were.
You jumped out there?
Oh, yeah, just jumped right on out there, because police was trying to push folks back, and they were like, "Who is this guy? What's happening?" The whole bit.