That's a great tribute, Bobby, I'm glad you got a message like that; that's wonderful. Let me ask you about two of your bandmates who can't participate for a number of reasons. I'm speaking of Jim Gordon and Carl Radle. I was very sorry to read about Jim's illness (author's note: paranoid schizophrenia - he murdered his mother during a psychotic episode and remains under heavy sedation in an institution) during the '80s - he was a marvelous, versatile musician. What's your take on Jim Gordon? He had the heart of a freight train, and there wasn't nobody at home. He could play like a locomotive, but when you looked in his eyes, there wasn't nobody home. I told him he needed to get help. A long time ago, he said that he heard voices. I told him, "No, that's like, I go to the closet; that's that 'small, still voice,' that's called a conscience. He said, "No, I hear voices," and that was a long time ago. All the drugs and everything - maybe that part of the brain that assimilates things had gone because of all the heroin and the cocaine, and the morphine, and everything. Maybe he had done too much of it, the seratonin (level). Maybe he had eliminated his brain of being able to put things together; I don't know, it's just my philosophical thinking. I feel for his family - my heart goes for and to his family, and it's a tragic situation that he's in, but he put himself in there, and it's a choice that he made. He could have stopped doing those drugs and sought help, but he chose not to, and it cost him his life, it cost him the lives of all of his family members, but on top of everything else, it cost his mother her life. It's real, real sad.
I heard he could play non-stop - he just wouldn't stop drumming. That's it! Like I've told you: like a locomotive, like a freight train. He's probably one of the most talented people that's in jail for the rest of their entire life for a major atrocity.
I was amazed that he only played keyboards on some of Delaney's albums - he never touched the drums (on some songs). Of course, he put the coda on "Layla." That was him and me. You hear that real big-sounding thing; that was him, and you hear where it's real screwed up, that's me. So, Tom Dowd put both parts together - the piano coda. That's Jim and myself at the end of that thing. (earnestly) As a matter of fact, he did not write that - he did not write that. Jim Horn wrote that. Absolutely true, and that's a fact: I can attest to that. I'm a witness. Jim Horn showed him that - Jim Horn just did my album - and Jim said, "Lemme show you somethin', and I went, "Whoa!" - he did! I remember Jim Gordon and Rita Coolidge were livin' together up on some canyon, and I was stayin' in the house down below, and they were upstairs, and they were trying - Jim Gordon played me this thing, and they were trying to put it together, him and Rita. It turns out, Jim Horn actually really wrote that coda. Like I say, I'm tellin' you the truth, I'm a witness.
Another person: was Carl Radle an underrated bass player? I don't think he ever got the credit for what he could do. No. He was a downbeat player, and I mean that in a positive way. He wasn't (sings a funky, popping bass shuffle) - he wasn't one of them upbeat, slap-em, back-em kind of a deal. He'd go over there and put his head down and stand in a corner, and just play and do the thing he was supposed to do - he was just right there on the money. I remember one time when we was playin' in Great Britain - it cost them a pound to get in - we didn't charge them anything - and we played this club that was upstairs - jam packed! I looked up at Carl and he had those round John Lennon glasses and they were just frosted over. It was steam from everybody that was in there (laughs). He was wild!.was absolutely wild, but a great player. A silent raver - I never saw him with a woman, never saw him with a man, never saw him with a woman. Then, one time I walked into his hotel room and he had six women in bed with him, and I said, "Awright!" (cackles of laughter). And he's layin' up there with a big shit-eatin' grin on his face! (more wild laughing). He had three on one side and three on the other. (gleeful laughter). (proudly) He had his legs crossed; it was just totally, totally too cool! (peals of laughing) I just opened the door, looked in, smiled, shook my head and closed it, and turned around and walked away.
That's great, that's great! Lots of stuff I never told anybody; nobody knows this insight!
No, that's why I called you! (both laugh). By the way, your songwriting, and people covering you - did you know Buckwheat Zydeco covered "Why Does Love Got to be So Sad?" Yeah, and he's too cool - that guy can really play a (Hammond) B-3. Vivian, my wife, got me a Buckwheat Zydeco thing, but it doesn't have "Why Does Love Got to be So Sad?" on it. But I've always wanted to hear that, and I haven't been able to get hold of it yet. But, that guy can really play a B-3, man!
I've heard him do that; I heard it back in the late '80s, and it took me a second to realize what he was doing. I recognized the melody; of course, it didn't have the guitar wash that we recognize. He's a real player, man, he knows what to do on a B-3. Not a whole lot of people know what to do on a B-3: I can only say there are four people, like Jimmy Smith, Booker T. Jones, Buckwheat Zydeco, and me. That's the only four people I know that know how to operate a B-3, and I don't mean that egotistically, I mean that as a matter of fact.
Hmm, 'cause I was going to say, Gregg (Allman) plays a B-3. Yeah, but Gregg has one that's all - he asked me one time, he said, "You get more sound out of one Leslie than I ever heard. Can you fix my organ?" I went in back of his organ and it's all the electric stuff - I mean, he had taken the guts out. I do it real natural. I can tweak it up and everything. Yeah, Gregg's a great B-3 player, don't get me wrong. He's one of my favorite - he's one of the soulfullest white guys I know.
But as you say, you feel more comfortable on that B-3, yourself. I'm comfortable right there.
That's an interesting point you made about the sound of your organ - listening to the Dominos live CDs that I've got, as well as the studio material - you used to put out a tornado of sound; it literally swirled - it moved, and you could see it moving around - I could, at least. Yeah, in your mind. On this album I've got coming out, I've got a 1959 Hammond B-3 that's never been played by anyone but myself, with two Leslies. I set one Leslie on one speed and one on the other. And on some songs, I put three organs on, which means there's six Leslies goin', and they're spread out, and you would never know it, unless I told you. It's the most awesome instrument - it's a powerful, powerful instrument. Not loud-like, but it's powerful: it's got a lot of dimension and depth about it. If you'll be gentle with it, it can be huge.
That's what you did. It's kind of like watching a genie pop out of a bottle in slow motion - how the cloud filters up out of the bottle! Yeah, that's a good synopsis of it. What I do, I go in the back of the organ and work in the back side of it, go into it, and I get the most output out of the power amp, to where you don't overdraw out of the Leslies, and I change the vibrato and the tone sounds, but it's things that are like, personal things. I couldn't tell someone how to do it and they go do it and do it the same way - it would be like someone telling me how to tune a guitar. I wouldn't be able to do it like them. Except, Duane told me, "Just tune it like you play it. If you want an open 'E,' make an 'E' and tune it." (chuckles). That's how I learned to play slide, from Duane, and his technique. It's a personal thing: no one can get an Eric Clapton sound except Eric Clapton. I can go and get Steve Cropper's guitar and let him turn it on, tune it up, and put it the way he plays it, and I could put it on, and I would not sound like Steve Cropper. There's a touch!it's something that's real elementary!but ever-so huge.
Let me ask you about some people who have had the pleasure of working with you - a little name-dropping here: John Prine. My buddy. "Slow Boat to China," and "Silent Night," "All Day Long" - I did a bunch of stuff for him.
Yeah, the "Great Days: The John Prine Anthology." You also worked with Steven Stills! Yeah, "Down the Road." Yeah, as a matter of fact, he left me that thing - we were at Criteria again, and he left me that to mix - Ronnie and Howie Albert and myself were down there. There was one song, "City Junkies," that was a song that I have, that we were doing, and it wasn't called "City Junkies," it was called something else, and he took everything off and rewrote everything. Ronnie and Howie Albert looked at me and said, "He just ripped the song off, right in your face!" I said, "Yeah, that's okay, I don't mind" (laughs). He wound up leavin' me and those guys to finish all the vocals and mix the whole thing! Then I took it back to Colorado. So I was actually a producer on it, not just a player. Then he went up there, to Colorado, and did the number - changed everything around.
You also worked with Dr. John: "Sun, Moon and Herbs," you did the vocals in 1971. Sure did! Aren't you good!
Yeah, I did a little research! Yeah, it was Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger and myself. I could tell you something else that you don't know: I worked on Exile on Main Street. (sings) "I don't want to talk about Jesus, I just want to see His face!" Yeah, I did that, but it took them so long in those days - everybody was doin' dope; Keith would come in at 4 o'clock in the morning, and nod out in the middle of a solo - I'm not talking bad about him or anything like that, but I mean, you do things around everyone else's schedule, and Mick and I were sittin' out there, but they neglected to put me down as a credit on the album. Jimmy Miller was producin', Andy Johns was the engineer, and when I told Jimmy about it, he went, "Oh, no; man, I forgot!!" I went, "Hey, that's all right, 'cause I know." Bill (Wyman) knows; Charlie (Watts) knows.
You were also on Bonnie Bramlett's "Lady's Choice" (1976). Yeah, that was a Capricorn thing - we sang a duet. You done your homework, haven't you?!
Well, one of the people who covered you is a favorite of mine: Mike Nesmith. He did "Bell Bottom Blues," didn't he? Cher did "Bell Bottom Blues."
Mike has an album I like: "From the Radio Engine to the Photon Wing." Mike Nesmith covered you, George Jones!. George Jones, Tom Jones, Glen Frey!
Sheryl Crow! Johnny Rodriguez!
Jeff Healy! Did you work with Jeff Healy? A very interesting guitar player, a heckuva guy! Yeah, I did the "Hell to Pay" album with him. He explained his guitar playing to me: it's all a mathematical type of a deal for him. He can play straight-up; he can play with it hangin' on his shoulder, but he said, mathematically, it worked better for him with it on his lap. He's an incredible player. I took him around - I picked him up at his hotel room, in Memphis, and got up on the elevator, and he was comin' out his door, and I said, "You don't have a mind (someone to help him around) or you don't have someone! He said, "Nah, they just put me in here, and I found my way." He got in my car and he said, "This is a '73 Mercedes." I said, "What? How do you know that?!" (laughing). He said, "I can tell by the smell. This is an old 72-73 Mercedes." I said, "You're absolutely correct!" (chuckles happily). I took him to a record store - I called in advance and told them I was bringing Jeff Healy - he was opening up for B.B. King, down on the river. Jeff is the sweetest guy in the world. I called this record store down in Memphis and told them he's a 78 (record) buff - he's big on the old 78's. We went in - he could take a record - they had all of 'em down for him, so he could get to ('em) - pull it out, run his hand around the outside, his thumb across it, and touch the center of it, and tell you how many times it's been played, who it is, and what record company it is.