You Will Be Missed Joe B.

Joe B. Mauldin and Michael Snow
Joe B. Mauldin and Michael Snow

Heavy heart today, after yesterday’s news about Joe B. Mauldin’s passing at 74. He was an idol to me as a kid, and working with him from the late ’70’s onwards led to a friendship that endured.

The most humble and understated of men, despite his legendary status, he always projected an unaffected warmth and ease.

When Steve Winwood was first in Nashville we invited him to a party at which Joe B. and Jane were in attendance. When introduced, Steve went to his knees and kissed Joe B’s hands….when Keith Richards inducted The Crickets into the Musicians’ Hall Of Fame, his reaction was somewhat similar. Joe always seemed a little bemused by the adulation, but accepted it graciously.

As a youngster, it was beyond my wildest dreams that I’d ever be able to number Joe B. among my dear family friends, but what a blessing it was!

Deepest condolences to Jane and the girls; and his lifelong buddies, Jerry (J.I.) Allison, and Sonny Curtis

More about Joe B.:

From The Archives…Still Chirpin’ After All these Years

Still Chirpin’ After All These Years

Originally published in Metro Mag 1986 (Metro was a stand-alone weekly, a predecessor of Nashville Scene)

by Michael Snow

Buddy Holly and the Crickets
By Coral Records [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Crickets have been part of my musical sensibility for almost thirty years, since first hearing “That’ll Be The Day” and seeing the cover of “The Chirping Crickets” with its impossibly blue-skied backdrop and the four young men posed almost formally in neat grey suits and skinny red ties. Arguably the first white, self-contained rock ‘n roll group, their Stratocaster based sound was the prototype for much that followed. As I had also known them casually since 1978, I was naturally delighted when Metro asked me to write a piece on them. I have always thought that the group has been too long ignored in print, the emphasis being increasingly on Buddy Holly as the years have passed.

The preparation for the story coincided with the spate of interest in the Rock ‘n Rock Hall of Fame for which Bernie Walters has labored long and hard, only to be upstaged by a New York consortium who are soon to announce their first list of inductees, which at the time of writing includes Buddy Holly but not The Crickets.  There is a serious miscarriage of justice in the works which must be addressed, for not only were the bulk of the records which form Buddy Holly’s legacy issued simply as “The Crickets,” but the writing of those timeless songs was usually a collaboration between group members – this well before Lennon and McCartney. The group has survived for thirty years with occasional hiatuses and with a surprising number of alumni, but they have always had that distinctive sound, no matter the line-up, and Jerry (J.I.) Allison has always piloted the band from his drum kit. It is especially unfair that the group may be ignored by this “Hall of Fame” now, since the line-up from 1977 until the present has been virtually the original: J.I. Allison on drums, Joe B. Mauldin on upright bass and Sonny Curtis on guitar. While Holly’s untimely demise eventually gave him the status of an international cult figure and Pop icon, it served to diminish the stature of a seminal rock ‘n roll band, a state of affairs that should not be allowed to continue. So, what started as a biographical piece has become an apologia for the restoration of The Crickets to their rightful place in the rock pantheon.

The all-too-brief “Golden Age” lasted just eighteen months and has been documented exhaustively, with varying degrees of accuracy, in print, on film, and most joyously on vinyl, where they truly live on forever young. They were the first white group to play the Apollo Theater in Harlem, J.I. and Joe B. were a yardstick by which fledgling rhythm sections measured themselves and the thunder of J.I.’s drums on the intro to “Peggy Sue” remains one of the great moments in rock ‘n roll. Four young Liverpool musicians were so much under their spell that they named themselves the Beatles in homage to their similarly insect-named idols (and that’s a fact).

Buddy’s death and the disarray caused by the draft, with Joe B., Sonny, and J.I. all being inducted at different times over a five-year period, would have finished a lesser group, but somehow the records kept coming, including “Love’s Made A Fool Of You” and the evanescent “Please Don’t Ever Change,” both of which stand tall with their other classics, despite being made with shifting personnel.

A List of Cricket’s alumni is a revelation. At different times, Earl Sinks, Jerry Naylor, David Box, Ernest Hall, Niki Sullivan, Buzz Cason, Glenn Campbell, Cliff Reynolds, Mike Curb, Trini Lopez, Tommy Allsup, Joe Osborne, J.J. Cale, Steve Kerkorian, Ric Grech, and Albert Lee have passed through the ranks, and the band had fruitful collaborations with the Everly Brothers and Bobby Vee along the way.

Certainly that is some array of talent, but they were usually on board one or two at a time with J.I. and usually Sonny as a nucleus. Glen D. Hardin was also a regular member for several years before settling in with Elvis.

Joe B., although a charter member, spent the longest time away from the fold, not leaving the army until 1965 and then spending ten more years in L.A. as a music publishing operative, session contractor, and as a studio engineer at the famed “Gold Star” where he worked on tracks with Herb Alpert, Leon Russell, The Baja Marimba Band, John Lennon, Burt Bacharach, and Bobby Russell, among others.

J.I., while always acting as keeper of the flame, managed stints on the drums with Johnny Rivers, Roger Miller, John Stewart, and Ray Stevens during periods of hiatus, and continued to husband his publishing interests.

Although Sonny’s connection with Buddy Holly pre-dates even the formation of The Crickets, and his involvement with the group began immediately after Buddy’s death, he has always maintained a successful solo career. As early as 1959 he had penned “Walk Right Back” for the Everly Brothers, and in the early Sixties he had major writing successes with “More Than I Can Say,” “I Fought The Law,” “When You Ask About Love,” and “Baby, My Heart.” 1964 saw major solo hits with “The Straight Life” and “Hung Up In Your Eyes.” He also provided the theme for the blockbuster Mary Tyler Moore series, “Love Is All Around.” The Seventies saw him making waves as a very successful jingle writer and an early Eighties pact with Elektra resulted in three solid country hits, “The Real Buddy Holly Story,” “Love Is,” and the top-tenner “Good Ol’ Girls.”

By the middle of 1977, J.I. and Sonny had arrived in Nashville, acquiring farms to the west of the city.  Joe B. accepted an offer from Bobby Russell to join him in a studio venture in Nashville soon after, and so the stage was set for a remarkable resurgence which I was able to witness first hand, having been hired by Russell to work in his publishing company and arriving at the same time as Joe B.

The sequence of events had an inexorable quality. Paul McCartney, having acquired the Holly/Crickets catalogue, launched an annual “Buddy Holly Week” in England and contacted J.I. to see if The Crickets would attend. J.I. ran it by the others and, lo and behold, a few weeks later The Crickets was reborn (for one performance, they believed) on the stage of London’s Kilburn Gaumont Theater. Returning to Nashville, pleased with the reaction in London, they were approached by Bill Justis to appear at the NARAS benefit, and were the hit of the evening. Soon thereafter the news came that Waylon Jennings was going to include a Crickets’ medley (which had been cut with Sonny and J.I. back in ’72) on his upcoming album “I’ve Always Been Crazy.”

He had the notion to debut the medley in concert with the guys and asked if they would consider going on the road “for a few day.” Those few days turned into five years of solid touring with Waylon and introduced a whole new audience to the irresistible sound of The Crickets.

Joe B. Mauldin and Michael Snow at The Sherlock Holmes Pub
Joe B. Mauldin and Michael Snow at The Sherlock Holmes Pub

I had a chance to witness the chemistry first hand while working the board on the first recording session they did after re-forming. At first they were tentative, J.I. and Joe B. probing for that groove, a little rusty perhaps; Sonny calm and patient, willing to wait for the sparks to fly. They were working on a new song of J.I.’s called “Cruise In It”, and they had made a few passes that no one was happy with. Maybe it had been too long. Then suddenly something happened – I still don’t know what – and they fell into a sublime, streamlined rockabilly groove. The years fell away and they sounded young, slick, and SO good. (Incidentally, “Cruise In It” backed with “Ollie V.” was only issued on a limited scale in England. Some enterprising company should re-release it – it’s a rockabilly masterpiece.)

Their live shows, nostalgic but not nostalgia, became a highlight of Waylon’s revue, with very strong audience response. Complementing the situation, “The Buddy Holly Story,” starring Gary Busey, went into general release, becoming a hit movie and fanning the flame. The guys have mixed feelings about the film. It obviously helped business, but was made without their permission, probably violating their trademark rights (the name is jointly owned by J.I and Joe B.) and certainly violating their privacy as the on screen portrayal of the fictional Crickets was wildly inaccurate, and there were major inconsistencies in the delineation of Buddy’s character too. Although the film was loosely based on John Goldrosen’s book Buddy Holly: His Life and Music, on which they had collaborated, the movie was more fiction than fact, and they were snubbed by the producers, not even being invited to the premier in their home state of Texas.

To add to the intense activity, M.C.A. issued “20 Golden Greats/Buddy Holly Lives” in the U.K. in 1979 and the album rampaged to the top of the album charts, giving the band surprisingly their first gold and platinum records. The following year the album duplicated its performance in the States and continues to sell heavily worldwide. They returned to London in 1979 and were joined onstage for a show-stopping jam by Paul and Linda McCartney , Denny Laine, Moody Blues’ Ray Thomas, Ronny Lane, and Rik Gretsch, then with Blind Faith.

That ill-fated super group’s only album included a cover of “Well…Alright,” co-written by J.I., Joe B., Buddy, and Norman Petty. Other acts who had big hits mining The Crickets’ catalogue include Linda Rondstadt with smash version of “That’ll Be The Day” and “It’s So Easy,” Blondie with “I’m Gonna Love You Too,” and Leo Sayer with “More Than I Can Say.”

1983 saw the end of the most intense period of Cricket activity since the early days, with Waylon coming off the road and the group taking a sabbatical to follow individual interests. J.I. is working his 185 acre farm, hunting and fishing and writing with ex-Waylor Gordon Payne and Sonny. Joe B. and his wife Jane are heavily involved in real estate, and Sonny has formed the Karat Corporation and Steem Records. There have already been two releases in the U.S. and U.K., and Sonny is excited about developing the company.

But, true to form, there are rumblings of activity in The Crickets camp. The classic “Bobby Vee Meets The Crickets” was recently re-released in England to strong response, and there are plans for a second volume of unreleased cuts, and a brand new Bobby Vee/Crickets album. Vee recently returned from a successful European tour with an offer for a Bobby Vee/Crickets tour in the spring of this year. It is probable that the next edition of the band will be minus Sonny as his contractual obligations make it difficult, but Gordon Payne has been tapped to occupy his slot. In addition, the BBC has completed a documentary history of Buddy Holly and The Crickets, and so the stage is set for the next phase.

But right now the guys are concerned about the possible omission of the band from the projected Hall of Fame. Now, there’s no way they could ever be accused of being glory-seekers or petty-minded men. They are good old boys in the best sense and even their complaints are couched in self-deprecating humor, but they do have a sense of their history and they feel, rightly in my opinion, that there has been a distortion in the perspective of the band’s importance vis-a-vis Buddy Holly.

While never attempting to diminish Buddy’s massive impact, they point out that The Crickets came first, it was a co-op band, and The Crickets had more hits than Buddy Holly, although the only difference in the records was the labelling. They have been on the receiving end of injustices before, from the Norman Petty era through the film situation, to their omission to date from the “Walk of Fame” in their home town of Lubbock. (There’s a statue of Buddy, Waylon, saxist Bobby Keyes, and a lady who sang with Lawrence Welk have sidewalk stars, but The Crickets are nowhere mentioned.)

The powers that be (who are they?) of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame can redress some old inequities and prevent a new one by elevating The Crickets along with Buddy Holly. Whether they do or do not, one thing is certain: The Crickets will survive, as they have for thirty years. Don’t be surprised when that old West Texas groove machine fires up again.

The Crickets were not inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame until 2012



Working With Heroes


I count myself fortunate to have worked with some of the cats I looked up to in my early career, those I considered to be role models who paved the way during the rock ‘n’ roll revolution as touring musicians and pioneers in the studio world, which was so intrinsic to the development of the music. I loved the world of the recording studio from the first time I ever set foot in one, so I followed the career paths of the guys who were already working in that milieu.

Back in the day, you had to be a bit obsessive, as there was scant information (if any) on record sleeves and studio players tended to labor in well-paid obscurity.  Of course I knew who most of the London guys were, but it was the Americans I really looked up to.  Let’s face it, before the British Invasion very few records made in the UK could compare to the real thing being created in New York, L.A., Memphis, Detroit, and New Orleans.  Yet we knew next to nothing about the backroom world of the American music industry and they probably knew even less about the British studio scene.  I remember when the word started going around London about a girl bass player in L.A. who was playing on many of the hits of the day, but it was no more than a rumor for a couple of years. Of course we later found out that this was the great Carol Kaye, part of the loose assemblage that became known in later years as the fabled Wrecking Crew.

Like most of the aspiring musical youth in Liverpool in the late fifties, I would go to see the American acts that came to town.  Buddy Holly and The Crickets, Duane Eddy & The Rebels, and Little Richard made the biggest impressions on me, even though Richard was using a British backing band (albeit a great one: Sounds Incorporated). However, he had teenaged Billy Preston in tow, and Billy was already a mind blower. These shows would usually have a souvenir program you could buy that would list the band personnel, so I knew that Joe B. Mauldin and Jerry Allison were the rhythm section of The Crickets.  I kept the Duane Eddy program for years, and had The Rebels line-up memorized: Jim Horn on tenor sax and flute, Larry Knechtel on piano, Corkey Casey on rhythm guitar, Ike Clanton on bass, and Jimmy Troxel on drums.  This was a band that nailed me to the wall, especially Larry Knechtel, and with his distinctive surname his career became easier to follow by the mid-sixties, when album credits became more informative.  It seemed like every cool record that came out of L.A. had Larry in the line-up and often Jim Horn, too. These were the cats, as far as I was concerned, along with the still anonymous sessioneers of Motown, New York, and New Orleans.  The Stax crew was far from anonymous, as both Booker T. & The M.G.s and The Markeys had scored big hits under their own names and the ensemble had toured Europe as part of the memorable Stax/Volt Revue.

By the late sixties I’d got my foot in the door on the London studio scene, but was still touring with the likes of Doris Troy, Chuck Berry, and Colin Blunstone in much the same way as Mr. Knechtel always kept his “live” options open.  If it was good enough for him, it was good enough for me!  I’d also had the chance to hobnob with Billy Preston once he signed with Apple and I got a chance to work up close with him on Doris Troy’s Apple album. He was as good as it gets, and like most of the great ones, he was a very pleasant and musically generous fellow.

After I moved to Nashville in 1973, the instrumental talent pool was so deep that I gravitated more to the production and arranging side of things. I’d been leaning that way the last few years in London anyway, so when the Nashville recording boom of the early 80s got under way, and many of  the top session guys started relocating here, I was more often to be found behind the console rather than on the studio floor.  It was a thrill to be rubbing shoulders with musicians I’d long admired from afar.  Wayne Jackson (of The Markeys and Memphis Horns fame) arrived, although Andrew Love chose to stay in Memphis, and Jim Horn came in from L.A.  I was no longer the only Brit in town with the arrival of Tony Newman, former drummer with Sounds Incorporated, Ray Flacke, the Tele-bending lead guitarist who quickly made a name for himself with a wildly innovative style, drummer/percussionist Pat McInerney, who anchored the Don Williams band for years before fulfilling the same role with Nanci Griffith while building an extensive studio resume, and bassist Dee Murray of Elton John fame.

Occasionally I’d experience a surreal moment, such as the time I was producing an instrumental album on Ray Flacke, and the horn section on the title track was … wait for it … Jim Horn and Wayne Jackson.  The horn parts I’d written had a big-band calypso feel and while the guys had nailed the notes in no time, at first they weren’t getting the appropriate feel.  I mentioned this to Ray and he said, “Well, get in there and sort ‘em out.”  For a long moment I thought, “you can’t do that! It’s Jim Horn and Wayne Jackson, for chrissake.” But I got a grip and sauntered out, trying to look more comfortable than I felt.  I needn’t have worried.  They responded to my suggestions without problem, as I should have known they would, and five minutes later the part was in the bag. Lesson learned.

I developed a close relationship with Joe B. Mauldin when he moved to Nashville from L.A. to operate the studio for Pix-Russ Music, owned by songwriting legend Bobby Russell, a Nashville native who’d also been living in L.A. for years.  When Bobby returned to town, I was hired to run the publishing division and be in-house producer.

Michael and Bobby Russell
Michael and Bobby Russell

Joe B. had retired from playing after Buddy Holly’s untimely death and after a stint in the military became a sound engineer at the prestigious Gold Star Studios in L.A., where Phil Spector masterminded the Wall of Sound.  Now he was in Nashville, soon to be followed by Jerry ( J.I.) Allison and Sonny Curtis, so in no time it became Crickets Central down there on Music Row.  In the set-up phase of the operation, Joe B. and I spent a lot of time together, and what a cool unit he was (and still is!).  I must have talked his ear off, getting all the inside scoop on the legendary times he’d experienced at the birth of rock ‘n’ roll.  Of course, for a Liverpool lad like me, it was seventh heaven – we even got some work done!

Michael and Joe B Mauldin
Michael and Joe B Mauldin

When Paul McCartney bought The Crickets song catalog, there was a renewal of interest in their body of work.  Spurred by Paul’s urging, they re-formed The Crickets and although Joe B. hadn’t played for some years, he soon got back into the swing of things.  A spate of recording activity followed and to my delight I was drafted in as auxiliary keyboard man for most of it, which I enjoyed tremendously.  J.I. was probably the key white drummer in the history of the music’s early days, and to be part of those righteous grooves the guys laid down in the new incarnation . . . well, that’s another one ticked off on the bucket list!

Joe B. may be the most laid-back dude ever when it comes to studio cool.  In one instance, Dale Hawkins (the Suzie Q man) came in to do vocals on a song, the title of which eludes me, but he was uncomfortable with the chosen key of F Major.  He wondered aloud if F Sharp would work better.  In his molasses West Texas drawl Joe B. spoke up, “I don’t think so, hoss.  Rock ‘n’ Roll don’t do F Sharp and neither do I.”  The room broke up, Dale included, and so of course we cut it in F!

All through that period, they just kept coming, and it wasn’t just the country guys.  Oh no!  It was rock ‘n’ roll guys, r’n’b guys, soul guys . . . my kinda folk.  Willie Weeks and Bob Babbitt, two of the best bass players in any genre, rolled in.  Rod Smarr, a cool guitar man, steeped in r’n’b but with a fine ear for commercial licks, came up the road from Atlanta and the whole Dr. Hook outfit arrived from San Francisco.  Dan Penn, Spooner Oldham and Jerry Carrigan left Muscle Shoals for Music City, Michael Rhodes, now the doyen of Nashville bass players, arrived from Monroe, Louisiana, and on and on.  I was soon crossing paths with all of these guys.  It was a very stimulating period, both musically and socially.  The main hang was Close Quarters a.k.a. the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel . . . kinda the Nashville equivalent of the Riot House in L.A.  The bar was the focus, but it really was a hotel, where Lou Rawls, Dennis Locorriere of Dr. Hook, The Crusaders and Joe Cocker, to mention just a few, laid down their weary tune, so to speak.

Likely Lads
Michael, Tony Newman, and Joe Brown

As fate would have it, I was working on an album project with Tony Newman on the dreadful night of John Lennon’s murder.  When I got the call and then made it known to the assembled talent, the air went out of the room.  I called a halt at once.  Tony and I, being the only Brits on hand, found ourselves a quiet corner and drank to John’s memory long into the night.

Rod Smarr became a first-call guitarist at Pix-Russ, among his many other clients, including Dr. Hook.  Rod eventually joined that band, providing the signature licks on the string of pop hits Dr. Hook put together after their move to town.  I admired Dennis Locorriere’s voice tremendously.  One evening, I was hoisting one at Close Quarters with Nineyear Wooldritch, Dr. Hook’s tour manager, and Nine, knowing I did my share of jingle work, said that Dennis was interested in doing some commercials.  I responded with enthusiasm. As it happened, I had a McDonald’s job coming up on the horizon and had not yet written the spot.  I immediately started to craft a “Hook” style jingle, and when Dennis came in to do it he was predictably spot-on.

He had also signed with Bug Music, where I had some administration interests.  One thing led to another and we began writing together and continued to do so for many years until, ironically, he fulfilled a life-long ambition to settle in the UK. We all find our true home in the end.  In addition, we did a lot of recording together after the demise of Dr. Hook, frequently with Rod on board, which paved the way for Dennis’s solo career.  In that period of time, with their  touring commitments complete, Dennis and Rod cooked up a delicious side project with the Motown bass player Bob Babbitt and Chuckie Burke, a fonkay drummer I’d worked with when I first arrived in town.  They called it Lost in Detroit, and if it was a cover band (and that tag would do them a great disservice), it was the best cover band I ever saw.  Between them they had an encyclopedic knowledge of the r’n’b genre.  The imaginative song selection and the superb performances, made Lost in Detroit a big favorite with musos round town, myself included.

When Chuckie departed for Scandinavia, where he was in great studio demand, he was replaced by another monster drummer, Steve Turner.  I took my son Stirling, an aspiring drummer at the time, to see the new line-up.  Years later, after Stirling had become an accomplished pro himself, he told me that seeing Lost In Detroit was what made him want to devote himself to playing.

Bob Babbitt, who was six years my senior, had a huge resume, not only because of his Motown work and his later stint with Gamble and Huff, but through earlier Del Shannon hits and three of my all-time favorite singles: “S.O.S.” and “Headline News” (both by Edwin Starr in his pre-Motown days on Gold World), and the sublime “Cool Jerk” by The Capitols.  I had learned and played those songs in my early touring days back in England, but it wasn’t until I got to know Edwin Starr through Doris Troy that I found out who was responsible for those great bass lines.

Bob was a bear of a man, yet played with a delightful lightness and dexterity.  When I was working on a project with a fine Hawaiian singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist named Shane August, one of the songs just cried out for the Babbitt touch.  Normally, I would have put the bass part on myself, but I knew Bob was the man for this one.  When he came to my studio, the rest of the track was complete, so I played him what we had.  He listened intently, then asked if I had any manuscript paper and asked me to leave him alone with what was a pretty complex piece.  I gave him about half an hour with the tape.  When I returned he had written a beautiful part in formal notation – he was actually conservatory trained – and he just read that sucker down in one take.  It had all the hallmarks of the Babbitt style . . . in other words, it was gorgeous.

After the Ray Flacke solo album was released, some bright spark at his publishers, Songs Of Polygram, suggested it would be a good idea to have the original instrumentals available in piano-only versions to facilitate soundtrack pitches. As I had co-written most of the material with Ray, I huddled with him to see who might be the pianist for this formidable task.  I knew it wasn’t me, and so we started throwing names around.  There’s never been a shortage of A-1 ivory ticklers in Nashville, so there were several potential candidates.  At one point Ray said, “I did a session the other day with a new guy in town . . . I liked the way he played.”  I inquired as to his name . . . “Larry Knechtel.”  “What? Knechtel’s in town?”  Ray wasn’t aware of Larry’s illustrious history, which oversight I soon corrected.  Through his years as a mainstay of The Wrecking Crew, Larry had reached the apex of the profession.  He had shared the arranging Grammy with Jimmy Haskell for “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and also played the signature piano accompaniment on the Simon and Garfunkel classic.  Following that, he took a studio break to become a member of the mega-successful soft-rock group Bread.  I knew he’d recently signed with MCA Nashville for their Master Series, which spotlighted great instrumentalists, but had no idea that he’d moved to Nashville.

Ray got his phone number from the Union and called him to explain what we were looking for and then arranged to drop off a copy of the album so Larry could craft piano arrangements at his leisure.  A couple of weeks later he said he was ready, and a day was booked at Champagne Studios, which had a beautiful grand piano.

I arrived, excited but a bit antsy, as I’d be supervising the day’s work behind the console.  I hadn’t laid eyes on Larry since 1958, and that was at a distance, so the grizzled, silver-haired, chain-smoking individual who showed up right on time wasn’t what I expected, until he sat at the piano.  Sublime, from the first note, soulful, yet supremely efficient, as he ran ‘em down.  We achieved the necessary in about four exhilarating hours, and then the three of us adjourned to a Music Row hostelry for a drink or five.  A large time was had by all, especially me, and when we called it a night, I asked Larry if he wanted to do some co-writing, which had been one of his reasons for moving to town.  He replied in the affirmative and for the subsequent five years we did just that, and also played together on many a project.  I couldn’t have been happier. I learned so much just being around him, and watching him play, for he was not only a supreme keyboard artist, but a world-class bass player (most famously on The Byrds’ “Mister Tambourine Man” and “Eight Miles High”, but also on “Light My Fire” by The Doors).  Our once-weekly writing sessions were most productive, but more importantly he was a wonderful guy to be around.


Eventually, he and his wife Vicki became homesick for their beloved Pacific Northwest, where he owned a logging company, but Ray and I participated in a farewell concert for him at the Exit/In, sharing the stage with Duane Eddy, Jim Horn, and a host of other luminaries, with Larry presiding at the keyboard as only he could.

In later years he recorded and toured with Elvis Costello and The Dixie Chicks, and we’d always link up when he came through town.  Stirling joined me at the Schemerhorn Symphony Center for The Wrecking Crew’s induction into the Musicians Hall Of Fame, where we not only watched Larry strap on the bass to join Roger McGuinn for “Tambourine Man,” but also saw and heard his final live performance of “Bridge” with a clearly emotionally overwhelmed Vince Gill singing lead.

In the last few years we’ve lost Rod, Bob and Larry, but their enormous contributions should never be forgotten . . . and I will always be a fan!