06 June 2006


Let Us Now Praise Famous (and Not So Famous) Keyboardists

(Dateline: Back home in eff ell lay.)

Billy Preston, R.I.P.

Many of you have some idea of who Billy Preston was. "Nothing from Nothing." "Will It Go Round in Circles?" "Hey Jude." Eee. Tee. Cee.

Vince Welnick, R.I.P.

Vince Welnick was the last keyboard player for The Grateful Dead, but I knew him first as pianist for the underrated, second- (third- ?) tier San Francisco band The Tubes.

The Tubes were, perhaps, my favorite mid-seventies band. As an orchestra, they were, perhaps, the complete rock band: singer (Fee Waybill), rhythm guitar (Sputnik Spooner -- musical director, I think it would be fair to say), lead guitar (Roger Steen), bass (Rick Anderson), keys (piano/organ/clavinet) (Welnick), synthesist (Michael Cotton -- Michael Cotton was everything I aspired to be as a synthesizer player who played the knobs), drums (Prarie Prince,), drums/percussion (Mingo Lewis). Their "What Do You Want from Live?" is, perhaps, my favorite live album of all time. It's certainly competitive with Little Feat's "Waiting for Columbus" in both the quality of the recording and the quality of the performace reflecting the band's stage show. Well, as I imagined it. I never saw them live; this You Tube performance is an indication of what I missed (although it fades out before the big ending). (Hey, Sam: This makes "Benny and the Jets" look like a poor stepchild to the very concept of making fun of glam. Dig Fee as "Quay Lewd!")

Yeah yeah: Welnick ended up with the Dead, but it was in playing for The Tubes that he made his mark for this one. Thanks, Vince.

Tim - how is it possible you missed the Tubes playing in Dupont for Spring Weekend (I think it was 1983)? The highlight for me was when one of the dancers came out dressed as ET (as in "phone home") to some bucolic riff. The music turned dark, Fee came out dressed in nothing but a mask and leather jock strap and proceeded to strangle ET.

On a profoundly different note, what about Billy Preston's work with Mahalia Jackson?
Wow. How is that possible? I mean, i saw R.E.M., Til Tuesday, Cheap Trick, and They Might Be Giants at various Spring Weekends, but I missed The Tubes!

This is depressing. Maybe i saw them and just don't remember for various reasons? (Probably sitting alone in my room, watching teevee.)

I didn't know of Billy Preston plaing with Mahalia Jackson. He was a fantastic playser. Heard his cover of Blackbird today.

"elder brilo". Hmmmm. If you're who I think you are, then "watching teevee" will have content.
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