Bill Peitsch 1962-2007 The Last King Of Rock’n’Roll


Sunday marks the year anniversary of Billy Peitsch’s death. I knew him for twenty years and I can safely say he was the coolest person I’ve even known. His death, coming so soon after the deaths of my close friends Bob and Alice Quine, Kelly Keller, Dee Dee Ramone, Cordell Jackson, and Hasil Adkins sent me into a state of shock that I’m just now starting to emerge from. I’m not a good enough writer to do justice to his life and achievements,but  if you knew Bill you know what I mean. He was one of a kind in the best way. And one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. I never had less than a great time when Bill was  around, he could take the piss out of lames like no one I’ve ever seen, he could fix your car, explain to you why the Brooklyn Bridge didn’t fall into the river, expound on why Chuck Berry was the greatest songwriter ever, and when Andre Williams would go missing in action five minutes to show time it was Bill who could find him, get his false teeth back in Andre’s mouth

and get him onstage.

For the unfamiliar he was best known as the drummer/singer of the Church Keys, as well as several other bands like Purple Wizard. Visit film maker Danny Rose’s site Wayne County Ramlin’ which is chock full of photo and video material.
 I have two funny stories I can share. At the bar I own, the Lakeside Lounge, some lowlife suburban squat slummer threw a brick at my bartender. Bill chased the perp down but they got into the door of their squat and threw the bolt just in time— they thought. The next day Bill returned with a sledge hammer and a posse, and we never had trouble in the bar again. 
My other story is when I set Bill up with some goofy VH1 film crew who were making a tv show about “male groupies”.  I was trying to publicize a band I was managing at the time called the Prissteens  (two of whom would later form Purple Wizard with Bill). So VH1 came to film Bill as a Prissteens groupie (which he really wasn’t, although he’s credited on their LP as their Fluffer).  When the camera started to roll so did Bill and he had the host so flustered they had to stop filming four or five times. The guy was simply no match for Bill in mental chess and the crew concurred, basically letting Bill direct his own segment.  He was inter spliced with a Sarah McGlaughlin (or however it’s spelled) groupie in the final edit. It’s quite hilarious. I lost my copy, if anyone out there has it please post it on Youtube and let me know. It aired half dozen times in Febuary of ’98.  Bill was a natural and had quite a few film credits including Bruce Bennett’s short Shirt Sleeves, Chris Frieri’s I Was A Teenage Mummy and Danny Rose’s Wayne County Ramlin‘. He recorded a killer LP for Norton (The Church Keys Ale Up) and a couple of amazing 45’s (“Peephole” is particularly brilliant, a work out on Bill’s Chuck Berry obsession)
I miss Bill Peitsch as much as I am proud to have known him. They’ll  never be another like him. He left behind his wife Andrea and two young children– Wendy Jean and Billy Ray Jr., and I’ll try to find out if there’s any sort of official channel for helping them out and post it here as soon as I know. I think I need to go take some heroin now.
BTW the above Japanese beer commercial featuring the Church Keys classic “Ale Up” was shot at my bar the Lakeside Lounge, I think I’m show up when the camera pans the bar. Also, notice in the photo, even the cop is smiling. The girl on the left is Lori Yorkman who was in the Prissteens and Purple Wizard.

Ronnie Hawkins & the Hawks

Not much to say today, but I love this Scopitone clip of Ronnie Hawkins & the Hawks.Yes, the big eared blond on drums is Levon Helm.  Not their best tune (for that, try this one– their version of Bo Diddley’s Who Do You Love from 1960 (Roullette). It was a huge hit in Canada whose radio stations blasted it into Detroit at the time, evidently it was a big influence on the Stooges’ James Wiliamson whose solo on Search & Destroy would echo it twenty two years later. Enjoy. BTW My airchecks are logged here: WWW.thehound.net if you’re lookin’ for ’em.

The Rolling Stones, Howlin’ Wolf, James Burton & Dope

I remember seeing this when it first aired, I must’ve been five or six years old and I worshipped the Rolling Stones the way my older brother worshipped the Beatles.

My asshole stepfather (who voted for George Wallace in ’68, if you’re still alive out there die you vile prick) never had much to say about the Beatles but the site of the Stones on our b&w tv would send him into a red faced drunken Irish rage. “Dope fiends”! It was the first time I’d ever heard of dope. But I knew, from that moment that some day I’d be a dope fiend.  Anything that made him mad had to be good. 
Anyway, it was because of this cameo I picked up on Howlin’ Wolf and even got my grandmother to buy me his Evil album for Christmas the next year, setting off another life long obsession— old blues records.  Seeing this clip now brings all that back, but I never realized that James Burton, star of Dale Hawkins’ “Suzi Q” and many Ricky Nelson, Bob Luman, Elvis, Gram Parsons, Merle Haggard, etc. hits was backing up the Wolf. He sure sound good, no?  It’s a bit of a long clip but it reminds me of just how the right bit of stimuli could change a kid’s life. I knew I’d never have a 9-5 job or house and family in the suburbs as soon as that first door to another world was cracked open just an inch. If you watch the whole clip there’s a funny Righetous  Brothers ripoffs doin’ a pretty cool version  “Work With Me Annie”, them I don’t remember.

Etta James Rocks The House

First thing I saw was Bo Diddley making movies. Bo’s been making movies–private movies–for over thirty years. Child, Bo’s got him some movies wouldn’t believe. So there he was, going from room to room with his camera, aiming his lens at all the juiciest action. And there I was, with the Shirelles giggling behind me, trying to keep them out of the rooms were they didn’t belong, rooms where I could see the glow of Bo’s horny camera.

The hotel suite was a maze of corridors and hidden corners, and I didn’t know where to look first. With the Shirelles looking over my shoulder I opened a bathroom door, only to slam it closed. “I didn’t know men did things like that to each other,” said one of the Shirelles.
Down at the far end, I saw the glow of Bo’s camera lighting up the transom above an ornate double door. I heard the sound of familiar voices. Something hot was happening. Dying of curiosity, I sent the girls off to the kitchen to fix some coffee while I snuck off to see about the room at the end of the hall. The giggles and groans were getting louder. I tested the door to see if it was locked. It wasn’t. When I looked inside, there was Bo with his camera pointed at Blondene laying on her back on the bed. Except for a French beret cocked ace-duece to the side of her head, the girl was buck naked. Legs wide open. Right next to her was Little Willie John who, talking to the camera, was the tour guide, exploring her privates with his fingers while explaining, “Now this here is so-and-so”. Willie was giving an anatomy lesson….Little Richard was also in the room, enjoying the show….” — from Rage To Survive by Etta James and David Ritz, Villard Books, 1995.
So where are Bo Diddley’s home movies today? Do the executors of his will know what a gold mine they’re sitting on? 
     Speaking of Bo, I posted a few antidotes about the three times my path crossed with Bo Diddley’s at Boogie Woogie Flu after he passed away last June.
Anyway, I love this clip of Etta James. Dig those eyebrows! Dig that wig! She used to play a lot in the 80’s at the old Lone Star Cafe on 13th St and 5th Ave (a building that’s been empty for years now, landlords would rather let a space rot than rent  it at a reasonable price in NYC, they get a tax break for letting it sit vacant!).
One night I stumbled in to catch her late set and Keith Richard came stumbling out of the sparse audience, wobbled onto the stage and jammed for a few songs. Etta was so tickled she kept goosing him! Anyway, thanks to Michele Kozuchowski for pullin’ my coat to the Etta clip.

I’m A Schaapy happy pappy


Ever since they took the Teletubbies off tv at 8:30 am I’ve gone back to listening to WKCR’s Bird Flight every morning. I forgot what a great morning ritual this can be. I mean, I think I own almost everything Charlie Parker ever recorded (except I lost my copy of the bootleg where he plays behind Little Jimmy Scott, sometimes credited to Chubby Newsome, anyone know where I can find it these days?).

For the unfamiliar, here in NYC and streaming on the web, Columbia University’s WKCR (89.9 FM or www.wkcr.org broadcasts an hour and ten minutes (8:20 am- 9:30 am, EST) of nothing but the music of Charlie Parker, hosted by Phil Schaap, probably America’s greatest walking repository of jazz lore. It’s the perfect way to wake up, even if your whole day is fucked, at least you got a good dose of Bird to let you know what  greatness a human is capable of. It’s something to look forward to whether you’re up and making coffee or lying in bed, it beats the hell out starting your day listening to the news and getting depressed before you’ve even gotten dressed.
In the week before and after WKCR’s yearly Charlie Parker/Lester Young birthday
marathon (their birthdates are Aug. 27 for Pres, Aug. 29 for Bird so every year KCR does a 72 hour extravaganza) Schaap, who has been working his way through the Bird discography in chronological order, has spent an inordinate amount of time dissecting the Dial session from 1946 that produced  “Lover Man”, “Be Bop”, “Gypsy” and “The Blues”.
“Lover Man” is one of the milestones of American music (and the record that really got me into jazz courtesy of the late Bob Quine) and a record that Bird hated and didn’t want released at all. As Schaap has explained in painstaking detail, the severely strung out Bird was going through heroin withdrawal during the session and it sounds it. During the fast tunes (“Gypsy” and “Be Bop”) his incredible skills are greatly diminished for perhaps the only time in his recording career. But on “Lover Man”, one can hear and feel the sound of great pain, foreboding, pathos and all those other things anyone who has ever kicked a habit can attest to. It is a masterpiece and has rightly been acknowledged so from everyone from Mingus to Mr. Schaap.
Phil Schaap’s knowledgeand enthusiasm r eally brings all of this jazz history to life. To say he knows his shit is an understatement. He gives session dates and personal details, but he also gives his listeners so much more. Schaap fills the dactual gaps, no holds barred. Like letting us know that “Moose The Mooche” was named for Parker’s dope connection, and that Bird had signed over his royalties to Moose (whose real last name was Byrd) for the price of some smack. Schaap’s critics say  he rambles too long on mike, but I find every bit of it fascinating. So much misinformation and fanciful elaoration has colored the Bird legacy (such as Ross Russell’s book Bird Lives) and there is much b.s. for Schaap to straighten out, and he does, par excellence. But he goes so much further and keeps things in perspective, after all it’s music that is important, the gossip  might be interesting or fun or even enlightening, but it doesn’t make the music any thing other than what it is, and in Bird’s case the is, is brilliant. The other day Schaap managed to sync two turntables to play the ’46 “Lover Man” simultaneously with the version Bird recut in the early 50’s. This was to illustrate just how closely Bird managed to remake his own record, an astounding feat in the das before click tracks or even head phones. What other deejay would go to such lengths?
I came late to jazz fandom (I didn’t really get it until my early  20’s) but over the years I feel like I’ve gotten a pretty decent education in jazz just digging Schaap, who also hosts a Saturday 6-9 PM show called “Traditions In Swing” as well as many birthday salute marathons (coming up are John Coltrane on September 23 and Thelonious Monk on October 10). One year they did ten days straight of Sun Ra.
Schaap’s obsessive style of broadcasting in an anomaly in the modern world and I wish there were more like him.  Why doesn’t cable radio have anyone like Schaap? What will happen to all the lore he carries in his head when he dies? Someday he’ll be gone and like the jazz greats he lives to herald, there’s nobody to replace him. So enjoy it now, nothing good lasts forever.
For those interested in developing an ear for jazz, Schaap teaches classes in jazz history at Swing University which is part of the Jazz at Lincoln Center complex. If I thought I could sit still for two hours I’d sign up (and I may still give it a shot). For more info try: http://www.jalc.org/jazzed/subs/swing_u.html
 

Duh….

Let me explain, I messed up the first post today by inserting the links to the discussed tunes wrong, then it took a few tries to figure out why I had messed up but I finally got it right. So today’s post is Meanwhile Back In The Jungle (scroll down) the rest are attempts to get the links workin’ so you could here those two great tunes, and now this is here to explain to scroll down to today’s post. I did want to add one more link, that’s the one to the archive of Hound radio shows: www.thehound.net. I’ll be updating this blog regular like, and Brian who tends to the Hound archives adds new shows and podcasts weekly.
Also in the next few days I’ll start to add links to some blogs I read. Over & out for today I hope….

meanwhile back in the states…..

First off I wanted to post the two tunes I talked about in my first post your anyone who wants to hear em, the Al Ferrier tunes I’m The Man
can be heard here: , the 45 is on Excello (the b-side of “Hey Baby”, you can get it on the excellent ACE CD The Rockin’ South, a collection of Excello rockabilly). It’s my favorite type of rockabilly tunes– a greaseball with a pompadour and a hard on tellin’ the world how cool he is.
The Percy Mayfield tunes- The Voice Within is here: , it’s a whole different bag of shells. The original 78 is on Specialty and you can find it on the Specialty CD Memory Pain. Mayfield was perhaps the most tortured and forlorn songwriter of the R&B era. He struck gold in ’51 with “Please Send Me Somebody To Love” which topped the R&B charts but after a car wreck disfigured his mug he stopped performing and turned to full time songwriting and recording. Mayfield wrote many of Ray Charlies early 60’s hits like “Hit The Road Jack” as well as Elvis’ “Stranger In My Own Hometown”. his version of that one (even better than Elvis’ for my $) is on the Rhino/Handmade CD Percy Mayfield My Jug & I a re-issue of an early 60’s LP he cut with Ray Charles and his band and was originally issued on Charles’ Tangerine label.
So it’s 9/11 here in New York. Since I’ve spent the last thirty one years living in lower Manhattan, of course I saw it, smelled it,
got my lungs permanetly damaged by the whole mess. My only comment now is exactly what I was thinking when I saw the first tower fall over– “there goes our civil rights”!. I was right. I’ll try and stick to cultural issues in these posts but I wanted to get that one in. It’s records like these that make me miss doing the radio show.
Speaking of my old radio show (with tons of shows archived and podcasted at
it was fun doing the WFMU interview with Rex, you can hear it archived at www.wfmu.org (follow the links to Rex’s show, I was on Aug. 9th). Of course I got censored (I pre-taped the interview at WNYC’s new ultra swank studios). What got cut out was this:
“Holly George Warren, that bug eyed freak ripped me off for $500 for the article I wrote for the crummy book about the blues”! (I won’t mention the title as I refuse to plug the thing) but it was part of the merch package to go along with Martin Scorsese’s crappy blues documentry that ran on PBS (the only good thing in that whole six hour + wank was the footage of JB Lenoir that was part of the Wim Wenders episode). Maybe I’ll dig out my contract and post it here. I like how she just refused to answer my e-mails on the subject when six months later I still hadn’t been paid. Then, shamless as ever writes me (two years later) to ask for free info for her very dull Gene Autry bio. It’s not like I really need $500, it’s the principle of the thing, a so called friend, who has never been shy about asking for favors (like a job for her husband) but then will turn around and beat me for a pissant amount of money and pretend like it never happened. I hope those bug eyes explode the next time you lie to a writer.
I’ll try and post more over the weekend, I’m starting to feel like I have something to say again, after talking myself out over the twelve years of weekly broadcasts.