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Wachteligence: Bobby Whitlock: Layla’s 40th Birthday And Other Celebrations – by AJ Wachtel

by GFats on August 22, 2011

Wachteligence: Bobby Whitlock: Layla’s 40th Birthday And Other Celebrations

By A.J. Wachtel

In the forward to his Derek & The Dominos bandmate’s great new book “A Rock ‘n’ Roll autobiography, Eric Clapton concludes : “never underestimate Bobby Whitlock”. This is an understatement. Whitlock’s rise and fall and rise again is mythic and one gets the feeling the best is yet to come from this living legend. Read on and fasten your seatbelts: BW’s life is one wild and crazy ride.

BBS: With Delaney and Bonnie you played the legendary Boston Tea Party with Eric Clapton in your band. I know it’s a lifetime ago but do you have any memories of the show that you’d care to share?

BW: I have none other than I remember Bonnie remarking that it didn’t look like there had been much of a tea party there.

BBS: In the 80’s you had Boston musicians make up The Bobby Whitlock Band including Johnny A and Stu Kimball who is now in Bob Dylan’s band as your guitarists. How did you hook up with Boston players and do you still keep in touch with Johnny and Stu ?

BW: We got together as a result of me needing a band to do a gig at The Bottom Line in New York City for a filming by a Japanese show. Johnny put the band together. He and Stu are two of the finest guitarists I have ever had the pleasure of working with. One night,after the very late gig there in New York, Stu got quite upset with me and thankfully he actually had the nerve to say something to me about me being Bobby Whitlock and drinking alcohol between the sets there. That really rang a bell for me and I never had a drink of alcohol during a performance since. As a matter of fact it really started me on my way to sobriety which has been ever since October 13th, 2000. I had the opportunity to speak with Stu a few months back and thanked him for being so honest with me. And I saw Johnny a year ago when he breezed thru town with his three piece band. He’s an entity unto himself I really like Johnny and his lovely family. All of whom I met during my stay there in Boston with he and his wife Beth. They were the epitome of graciousness and treated me like the welcomed guest that I was there. We had a great time getting to know each other and still share the bond of friendship.

BBS: In your book you say: “visionaries are seriously lacking in the music industry today”. Why? And what’s the result of this lack of leadership?

BW: There very well may be visionaries in the music industry today. I’m sure that there are. Eric Clapton’s manager Michael Eaton is one as is Eric.They see the bigger picture The one down the line… In my book, I was referring specifically to Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler. They could see and hear a hit song, performance and artist. They could direct an artist to their own destiny when they couldn’t see it themselves. ie. Ray Charles.

BBS: On George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass” the backing vocals are credited to The George O’Hara-Smith Singers. Is being a member of The George O’Hara-Smith Singers the smallest, most inclusive group you’ve ever been in?

BW: There were only three of us. We didn’t know who we were until George dubbed us that after we finished “Let It Down”..That’s Eric and me..You can really hear it now that you know.

BBS: In your book, you recall during the recording of “Beware of Darkness” you break the lowest C note on the piano you’re playing- a string the thickness of your pinky finger. How rare is this to happen?

BW: The piano tuner said that that was the only time in his very long career as a piano tuner that he had to change a broken low C string. And he was no spring chicken himself either.

BBS: In your book, you mention that “horn parts are extensions of the piano and organ parts.” How does this play into when you are writing a song?

BW: It doesn’t. The horn is CoCo’s department now….thank goodness !

BBS: Any advice to musicians trying to get their music heard in this tough economy?

BW: Make a cd and put it up on any and every site that you can.You never know who might just be listening. I know that I am.

BBS: What’s the best way for your fans to keep up to date with your life and career?

BW: Go to my sites and my facebook sites Bobby Whitlock and Domino Bobby Whitlock.

BBS:Any immediate plans on putting together a band with Eric and playing some dates in celebration of the 40th release of Layla ? Can people look forward to future co-written songs from you two?

BW: That all remains to be seen and is up to Eric at this point. I do know that he is going to take a holiday after touring the world.

BBS:Any songs you wish you had written?

BW: No.

BBS: How did Duane Allman do those bird chirping sounds at the end of Layla?

BW: Duane had the slide on the extreme end of the strings. On the other side of the bridge.

BBS: You and CoCo are working on your 8th cd, “Esoteric” due out by Christmas. What can we expect on it?

BW: You can expect to hear the finest songs and production that I have ever been part of.

BBS: Your book ” A Rock ‘n’ Roll Autobiography” is now in it’s 7th printing. I said “it’s like the Cliff Notes for the Bible written by Moses”. What are some of the cooler communications you’ve received from strangers after they’ve read the book?

BW: It doesn’t get much cooler then being compared to “Cliff Notes for the bible written by Moses”. I’ll go with that one !

One Comment
  1. John Martin permalink

    There are many questions and answers here. However I must conclude that Bobby Whitlock has a surprise around every corner for his fans and for himself. Maybe the best is yet to come. Maybe there will be a reunion with Eric someday, any day, any way. Perhaps time will only tell….

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