Friday, November 26, 2010

Keef 'Splodin Through The Phillips

"'Flash!' Shit, what a record! All my stuff came together and all done on a cassette player. With "Jumpin Jack Flash" and "Street Fighting Man" I'd discovered a new sound I could get out of an acoustic guitar. That grinding, dirty sound came out of these crummy little motels where the only thing you had to record with was this new invention called the cassette recorder. And it didn't disturb anybody. Suddenly you had a very mini studio. Playing an acoustic, you'd overload the Phillips cassette player to the point of distortion so that when it played back it was effectively an electric guitar. You were using the cassette as a pick-up and an amplifier at the same time. You were forcing acoustic guitars through a cassette player, and what came out the other end was electric as hell. An electric will jump live in your hands. It's like holding on to an electric eel. An acoustic guitar is very dry and you have to play it a different way. But if you get that different sound electrified, you get this amazing tone and this amazing sound. I've always loved the acoustic guitar, loved playing it, and I thought, if I can just power this up a bit without going to electric, I'll have a unique sound. It's got a little tingle on the top. It's unexplainable, but it's something that fascinated me at the time.
In the studio, I plugged the cassette into a little extension speaker and put a mic in front of it so it had a little breadth and depth, and put that on tape. That was the basic track. There are no electric instuments on "Street Fighting Man" at all, apart from the bass, which I overdubbed later. All acoustic guitars. "Jumpin Jack Flash" the same.
Charlie Watt's drums on "Street Fighting Man" are from this little 1930s practice drummer's kit, in a little suitcase that you popped up, one tiny cymbal, a half size tambourine that served as a snare, and thats really what it was made on, made on rubbish, made in hotel rooms with our little toys."

From Life
Photo nicked from

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Keef On John

"I liked John a lot. He was a silly sod in many ways. I used to criticize him for wearing his guitar too high. They used to wear them up by their chests, which really constricts your movement. It's like being handcuffed. 'Got your fucking guitar under your fucking chin, for Christ's sake. It ain't a violin.' I think they thought it was a cool thing. Gerry & the Pacemakers, all of the Liverpool bands did it. We used to fuck around like that: 'Try a longer strap, John. The longer the strap, the better you play.' I remember him nodding and taking it in. Next time I saw them the guitar straps were a little lower. I'd say, no wonder you don't swing, you know? No wonder you can only rock, no wonder you can't roll."

From the Keith Richards book, Life
Photo nicked from

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Keef Kwote #1

"There was an unforgettable dressing-room scene during the tour. I like Tom Jones. I first met him on that tour with Little Richard. I'd been on the road with Little Richard for 3 or 4 weeks, and Richard was not hard to get along with and still isn't, and we'd have a laugh together. But in Cardiff, guys like Tom Jones and his band the Squires were still living 5 years behind. They all walk into Little Richard's dressing-room, and they've still got the leopard skin coats with the black velvet collars, and the drapes - a procession of teddy boys all bowing and scraping. And Tom Jones actually kneels in front of Little Richard as if he's the pope. And of course Richard rises right to the occasion: "My boys!" They don't realize Richard is a screaming fag. So they don't know how to take this. "Well baybee, you're a Georgia peach." This total culture clash, but they were so in awe of Richard that they would take anything he would say. And he's giving me a nod and a wink.
"I love my fans! I love my fans! Ohh baby!" The Reverand Richard Penniman. Never forget he comes from the gospel church, like most of them do. We all sang Hallelujah at one time or another. Al Green, Little Richard, Solomon Burke, they all got ordained. Preaching is tax free. Very little to do with God, a lot to do with money."

Quote from the book Life.
Photo from

Monday, November 15, 2010

Hey, Watcha Doin Next Weekend?

Looks like they could use a hand.

Undated photo from Fremont Chamber of Commerce.
Late 1800s maybe?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Battalion Of Saints

In an important attempt to place a time on just what it was that pushed my friend Jack and I across the tracks to bad-assville, it could only have been the photographs. And I think a good guess would be photos we ogled in Spin magazine.
Why Spin? Well, for that answer, I've got to back track a little.

Rolling Stone was my mainline through- out much if not all of the 70s. Creem was important too but in more of a comic book sort of way. And here it was a Detroit publication. You'd think, being from Michigan, I'd show a little solidarity. But in fact, in the late seventies, it was probably Creem that somehow led me to Trouser Press, which at the time, I thought was much darker in tone with all this hoopla over the "punk" movement in London and New York. Scary, disenchanting stuff for a young buck in his early 20s from a farm town of 3,000. But, like a car wreck, I still looked.

For me, in the early 80s, Rolling Stone had lost much of it's luster, but not enough to stop picking it up twice a month.
Then, in 1985, Spin magazine announced itself to the masses. I have to admit, I wasn't quite ready to have this shiney new rag from the son of the vice president of soft porn knock Jann Wenner off the porcelain lounger. But it was good, in many different ways it was good. And like the music scene at the time, it was transformative. Punk, new wave(punk light), country, hip hop, jazz and folk all mixed and siphoned through college radio. At that time, Spin was commercially expanding on reems and reems of what Rolling Stone wasn't. And the Photos....

My long winded point here are the photographs. The photos more than likely from Spin magazine are what drove Jack and I to buy our first Schott Perfecto, motorcycle leathers, long before we were aware of Schott's relevance in the leather jacket pantheon. This was in the mid 80s when we bought them from an unlikely men's store in a mall in Tragic City, Michigan.

So just what the hell was all this about? Well, after some 25 years, I now work for Schott.
Funny isn't it...kind of? No?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Ace Motorcycle And Scooter Company

Ace is great little shop tucked back in off Jackson Blvd. in Chicago. The type of destination you pop into on a Saturday afternoon just to ogle all the scoots. My guess is you won't walk out without a tee-shirt. Or who knows, you might want to bring a trailer, or a helmet even, or two.
I didn't want to( actually couldn't) squeeze in to take a better pic of this Yama-bobber so your getting kind of an ass shot. It's a killer ride though.