The Skelly Suggests… LIVE on The Ed Sullivan Show

The Long Players Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show Michael Snow to perform with Ritchie Routledge Saturday, February 8, 2014 • 9:30 pm Mercy Lounge Click to Buy Tickets!!!!!!
The Long Players Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show
Michael Snow to perform with Ritchie Routledge
Saturday, February 8, 2014 • 9:30 pm
Mercy Lounge
Click to Buy Tickets!!!!!!


You may or may not know, that Spotify doesn’t have much in the way of Beatles songs available to listen to. I have made a playlist of other great LIVE performances on the Ed Sullivan show to celebrate that MAGICAL and HISTORICAL Beatles debut performance. Come on out to The Mercy Lounge this Saturday to hear me perform two Beatles tunes from that legendary night. Click the picture above to be taken directly to the ticket site or buy tickets at the door. I can’t wait to see you there!


From The Desk… Come Together: The Business Wisdom of the Beatles -REVIEW

Come Together: The Business Wisdom of the Beatles
Come Together: The Business Wisdom of the Beatles by Richard Courtney and George Cassidy (click to buy on


By Richard Courtney and George Cassidy

Even a potentially dry as dust subject as the study of business models can be enlivened when the subject of the analysis is The Beatles, and under the sure hands of successful businessmen and uber-Beatles fans Richard Courtney and George Cassidy, both Nashville residents, this book certainly makes for a lively and enlightening read.

In a format of one hundred bite-sized chapters, liberally garnished with Beatle-speak and judicious use of lyric snippets, the authors engage in a helter-skelter ride that parallels the fabled and often documented career of the Fab Four from the viewpoint of a business model which must be viewed as one of the most successful of all time.

While acknowledging the sometimes random and happenstance nature of the legendary venture, the authors are able to draw lessons from all of it, and impart them to the reader in a style that is far from dryly academic, and conveys the breathless excitement that accompanied the timeless phenomenon that was The Beatles.

This volume should appeal to die-hard Beatles completists and up and comers alike.

Highly recommended.


The Skelly Suggests…Unusual Covers Of Lennon and McCartney

Lennon/McCartney Covers
Lennon/McCartney Covers


With the 50th. Anniversary of the Beatles emergence, and the two surviving members hitting their seventies, there’s been an increased focus on their astonishingly long-lived musical impact, particularly the juggernaut that is the Lennon & McCartney song catalog. Everyone who is anyone has had a crack at it, with varying results, from the giants of previous generations, like Sinatra, Basie, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn, to the soul singers of their own time, plus folkies, popsters, hipsters and artists of every ethnic persuasion imaginable.

Their output was astonishing from day one, and the many songs they never recorded as a band are wonderfully documented in Steve Boyle’s soon to be released film “Lost Beatle Songs” in which ( for the interest of full disclosure) I have a cameo part.

However, the following list collects some of the more unusual and unlikely cover versions from the Lennon & McCartney oeuvre, each hand-picked for your delectation.

1. Ticket To Ride
2. Happiness Is A Warm Gun
3. Eleanor Rigby
4. She’s A Woman
5. The Fool On The Hill
6. All My Lovin
7. A Little Help From My Friends
8. Goodnight
9. Norwegian Wood
10. In My Life
11. The Long And Winding Road
12. Magical Mystery Tour
13. Rain
14. Oobla-Di, Oobla-Da
15. We Can Work It Out
16. Me And My Monkey
17. Do You Want To Know A Secret
18. You Can’t Do That
19. You Won’t See Me
20. The Long And Winding Road
21. I will
22. Day Tripper
23. Rocky Racoon
24. Let It Be
25. I Call Your Name
26. I Want To Tell You
27. Not A Second Time
28. Blackbird
29. From Me To You
30. Good Day Sunshine
The 5th Dimension
Tori Amos
P.P. Arnold
Jeff Beck
Suzy Bogguss & Chet Atkins
Joe Brown
The Carpenters
Johnny Cash
Ray Charles
Cheap Trick
Petula Clark
Arthur Conley
Deep Purple
Fats Domino
Fairground Attraction
Georgie Fame
Bryan Ferry
Aretha Franklin
Art Garfunkel
The Grateful Dead
Ritchie Havens
Gladys Knight
The Mamas and The Papas
Ted Nugent
Robert Palmer
Billy Preston
Del Shannon
Roy Redmond


A Walk Down Music Row by JOtwell (click to buy)
A Walk Down Music Row by JOtwell (click to buy)

When David Ross launched Music Row Magazine back in the day, as a hand-to-mouth mimeographed ‘zine, I helped him out from time to time. He was a pal of mine, and not too fussy about journalistic credentials, as his venture was more or less a one man operation, and he welcomed any content that might flesh his meager mag out. I was reasonably set up at the time, with a couple of rock and pop artists as production clients on major labels, an office on Elliston Place (Rokblok) that I shared with Steve Gibson and Bill Martin, and my first solely-owned publishing company. However I still had the time and youthful energy to consider other creative avenues, and had always been interested in prose writing, so when Dave suggested I could maybe contribute a feature bit from time to time, I thought it might be fun. I didn’t know how to type, and the new computer technology, into which Dave was starting to delve, scared me to death, so my only tools were legal pads, pencils, and the phone…about as low-tech. as it got, but it was mainly a giggle and a bit of a new experience- no big deal.

I did a couple of little pieces to get my feet wet, and then one day I started thinking about the various connections that The Beatles had forged with country music over time, a subject that, at that point, had largely been ignored, and I mentioned it to Dave as a possible subject, given my ties to Liverpool as Nashville’s resident Scouser, and my personal in-depth knowledge of the popularity of Country and Western music ( as it was then known over the pond) in my home town.

Any Liverpool musician was familiar with Hank Williams, Johnny Cash and the rockabilly boys-it was all American music to us, and influenced us every bit as much as the Rhythm and Blues music with which Merseybeat later became more closely identified. Ringo was a very knowledgeable fan of the genre, his solo spots with Rory Storm & The Hurricanes usually featuring his take on a country hit of the day, and he brought that repertoire with him into The Beatles. George Harrison was crazy about Chet Atkins and Carl Perkins, and John and Paul’s harmony vocal chops were already informed by the “brother act” tradition of The Everlys and Louvins, to name but a couple. Liverpool even boasted a full-bore country band, Sonny Webb and The Cascades, who had actually traveled to Nashville to cut some sides under the watchful eye of Owen Bradley at his Quonset Hut recording facility.

The magazine was starting to get a bit of a footing, largely due to Dave’s tireless hustling, and he thought it might be an appropriate time to take on a feature that had some depth and scope, while also having a solid hook to Nashville, so he told me to give it a shot.

I was already friendly with Ernie Winfrey, who had worked with Paul McCartney on several tracks during the Wings visit to Nashville in 1970, and I had a nodding acquaintance with Pete Drake, who had put together Ringo’s 1974 homage to country music, “ Beaucoups Of Blues”, also recorded in Music City. Most relevant was the fact that McCartney had just issued his post-Lennon album “ Tug Of War”, which had involved Carl Perkins’ participation in a significant way, so there was also a current reason to examine The Beatles Country Connection, which was what the piece came to be called.

As I assembled a list of my potential sources, my confidence grew that this might be something worthwhile. Getting Ernie on board was no problem, and Pete Drake proved to be quite amenable to sit for an interview, so I figured that getting Carl would be the icing on the cake. Asking around, everyone said that he was the nicest, most easygoing guy you could hope to meet, and I managed to get his home number in Jackson from somebody, so I went ahead and called-cold…stone cold, I swear. The man himself answered, and whether it was my Liverpool accent or what, he agreed to an interview, but explained that as he had no plans to be in Nashville in the immediate future, we should do it by phone.

In addition to my other journalistic shortcomings, I didn’t know how to take shorthand, so I ran over to Radio Shack and bought one of those primitive telephone microphones that could be stuck on a phone, then plugged into a cassette recorder, and prepared for the following day, when Carl allowed he’d be available after he’d mowed the yard .I called after lunch, with a 90 minute cassette loaded….I ended up using three of them, as he was not only a warm-hearted guy and a natural raconteur, but ended up covering his entire history with The Beatles, going back to the start of their career, when he’d attended a party they threw specifically for him, and the session that followed, where they cut their classic Perkins covers with him on hand to witness it. His affection for the lads seemed totally genuine, and over the course of the two and a half hour conversation he gave me a wealth of material, both old and new.(A couple of years later, I actually met Carl face to face at a rockabilly festival at The Brickyard in Indianapolis, where I was playing with Del Shannon on a bill that included The Crickets and Carl. Remembering my name and the circumstances of the interview he said to me “Heck. If I’d known you were a picker, I’d have told you more!”)

Over the following days I transcribed every word in longhand, with rising excitement, so when I met Ernie, and thereafter Pete Drake, I was well pumped. Ernie allowed me to use one of his private photos of the McCartney sessions, and I planned to use as a lead image an early picture I’d snapped at Hamburg’s Star Club of the front line in all their leathered glory.

After the Drake interview, I had a more casual conversation with Jerry Shook, a studio acquaintance of mine who’d participated on the Ringo sessions, and an equally casual chat with the legendary drummer, D.J. Fontana, who’d also been on board. I now had a mountain of yellow legal paper, which I rewrote and edited over and over before presenting the whole thing to David. From his reaction I gathered that this was maybe more than he’d been expecting, but he went at it enthusiastically, and when the magazine hit the street it was well received, and I’d like to think that the timing of the article maybe helped Music Row attain the next level of it’s development.

Seeing a prose piece of mine in print did wonders for my confidence and so my next brainwave was to suggest a feature on the legendary Quonset Hut, which resulted in an interview with Owen Bradley, and a memorable sit-down with the delightful Brenda Lee, plus a more cursory one with Grady Martin, who seemed like he had better things to be doing with his time. Mining my connections, I then tapped Brent Maher for an overview of his career, which also included a cameo print appearance by his then new discoveries,The Judds.

The magazine was experiencing a growth spurt, and David linked up with Robert K. Oermann as a contributor, who was the real thing, a bona fide wordsmith and musical historian, with all the requisite technical skills I was so sorely lacking. David suggested that my stacks of yellow legal pad scribbling were becoming a bit too time consuming for the efficient working of a burgeoning venture, so I went back to my day job, still bereft of the tech. savvy I would need down the road, when I would devote more time to authorship, but with my appetite whetted for the world of prose, having seen those early efforts seductively displayed on the printed page.

It was an eye-opening interlude for me, and probably not something that one could get away with in the much more formal setting of the industry’s current media structure. Great fun!



Album Cover art for Arthur Alexander The Greatest Ace Records/ Photo Michael Ochs Archives
Album Cover art for Arthur Alexander The Greatest Ace Records/ Photo Michael Ochs Archives


The other evening I chose (not for the first time) a CD of Arthur Alexander’s most notable recordings for my bed-time soothe,and it brought back a series of memories that I feel to be well worth re-telling.

My dear friend Dave Durocher, who was just taking over the driving seat at Bug Music back at the time of which I speak, mentioned one day that he was working on resurrecting the catalog, and possibly the career of the legendary, but rather obscure early sixties soul singer and composer, Arthur Alexander.

Danny Kahn, at Elektra Nonesuch had signed Arthur to record his first album since his “Rainbow Road” disc for Warner Bros.,in the ‘80’s. Ben Vaughn, a longtime Bug client was set to produce, which is how Bug had got into the loop, and Dave was coming from an altruistic place, as well as a business one, as he was a die-hard fan of Arthur’s music.

I immediately got my two cents in, telling Dave what a huge influence Alexander had on the nascent Liverpool music scene in the very early ‘60’s. To guys like me, Arthur Alexander was anything but obscure; he had been, in fact, one of the most notable of our heroes, and any band worth their salt would have had a go at “ You Better Move On” and the sinuous, yet anthemic “ Shot Of Rhythm and Blues” (a record that I first heard at NEMS one Saturday, and bought at once, wearing the groove out by Monday morning). Only Lennon had the confidence to take on the majestic “Anna” which he recorded with telling effect on The Beatles’ first album“Please Please Me” but we all loved ourselves some A.A. back in that day.

I don’t think Dave had sussed that the Arthur Alexander thing was quite as international in its scope, but over the next few months we happily enjoyed our shared devotion for Arthur’s body of work, while Dave patiently went about his task of gaining Arthur’s trust and bringing him back into the public eye, with the help of a list of like-minded supporters, such as Dan Penn, Donnie Fritts,Thomas Caine and Al Cooley.

Bug’s specialty was recouping long-uncollected royalties and restoring as much copyright ownership as possible to the author, so that was the area to which Dave devoted his greatest energy… We’re not just talking about Beatles albums, either. The Stones had dipped into the songbook too, and the recently released “ The Beatles At The Beeb”series of C.D.s had brought“ Soldier Of Love” ( co-incidentally written by two of my Nashville mates, Buzz Cason and Tony Moon) back into the limelight in addition to Arthur’s more widely known efforts, as interpreted by the lads from Liverpool in their early prime.

Arthur’s return to the studio for the “Lonely Just Like Me” project was turning out very well, the new recordings showing him to still be a master of his craft, particularly on the heart-wrenching ballad style that had so informed Lennon’s own approach to the art of the soul ballad. I mean, just listen….Arthur is totally ingrained in Lennon’s way with a ballad.

Like many of his peers, such as James Ray and Joe Tex, Arthur had obviously absorbed his share of the Grand Ole Opry, and there was always a country flavor to his singing and song writing, not to mention the many hard country songs he chose to cover on record, so his vocal style was possibly more user-friendly to the white boys than the tonsil-shredding assaults of a James Brown or Wilson Pickett.

Dave had mentioned that Arthur had been out of music entirely for many years, despite a half hearted attempt at a comeback in the ‘80s, when he was briefly signed to Warner Bros. for the aforementioned “Rainbow Road” album, but he was apparently quite content with his gig as a school-bus driver, and had no yen for the bright lights.

However, he was making the occasional foray into Nashville for publishing business, as that was  Dave’s main focus for Arthur, so I got to meet him a time or two at the Bug Music office, a big, diffident man with very little in the way of show-biz pretensions, if any. He seemed vaguely amused and maybe a little uncomfortable, when I regaled him about how influential his music had been in Liverpool, and I thought to myself that I was a lucky guy to be experiencing something that had been denied John Lennon, who never encountered Arthur Alexander in the flesh, to my knowledge.

As Dave Durocher was a notable studio drummer in addition to being a publishing executive, I knew he was itching to have a play with A.A., and a situation presented itself in the form of an outdoor concert series “ Summer Lights” which was held on the closed-off streets of downtown in June…twenty years ago, coming up. Dave somehow persuaded Arthur to headline one of the shows, and assembled a backing band of elegant simplicity for the occasion, Dave providing percussion via a cardboard box and brushes, with Ben Vaughn and Gary Nicholson filling things out with acoustic guitars. For once, I was only too happy to be in the audience to actually see Arthur performing his legendary catalog, and on a beautiful late afternoon, shaded by the skyscraper canyons, Arthur Alexander took the stage- as it turned out, for the final time.

The audience was full of musos as eager to see the legendary singer as I was, and I spent most of the performance with a lump in the throat and a tear in the eye, as he did them all, his voice as stirring as ever, the simple accompaniment serving the songs ideally, especially on “Anna” and “ You Better Move On”.

I shook hands with him and congratulated him backstage afterwards and spent the balance of the weekend savoring a unique experience I could only have imagined all those years before in Liverpool.

Late on the following Monday afternoon I got a call from an obviously shell-shocked Durocher, who told me that Arthur had taken ill in Dave’s office after lunch, and had died across the street at Vanderbilt Medical Center of myocardial infarction-just like that.
It was hard to comprehend, hard to digest, and particularly hard on Dave, as one can imagine, yet there will always be the memory of that sun-dappled afternoon twenty years ago, when Arthur Alexander sang his soul for the last time.