Friday, January 25, 2008

Early MTV: 1982 and Missing Persons

Flashback to the early 1980’s: I had just moved into the top floor of an old house. I had the place to myself for a few weeks until my roommates moved in. So I signed up for cable TV. I had heard of this channel called MTV but had not yet seen it. Didn’t matter – I couldn’t afford it. But…if I turned the TV tuner just right, it would come in. Thus began my few weeks of boredom watching MTV. Here is one.

Missing Persons - Guitarist Warren Cuccurullo, vocalist Dale Bozzio, drummer Terry Bozzio, bassist Patrick O'Hearn and keyboardist Chuck Wild. I heard the song “Words” and immediately thought that this was something different. Most of the band members were former members of Frank Zappa’s touring band. Terry Bozzio is an incredible drummer and added the power behind the band. This was the day before drum machines took over. Warren’s guitar playing was different than anything I had heard. He did not take many solos, used effects to paint textures within the songs, and Dale Bozzio’s quirky voice rounded out the uniqueness of Missing Persons. You knew these were good musicians: anyone working with Zappa had to be great. He demanded alot from his band.
In 1980 the band made its first record, a 4-song EP entitled Missing Persons, in Zappa's brand-new UMRK studios; the recording was financed by Cuccurullo's father. The band toured, promoted the EP, appeared in the movie Lunch Wagon, and became a must-see band among the L.A. live music crowd. "Mental Hopscotch" was a #1 record on local radio station KROQ, and the self-promoted EP ended up selling 7,000 copies.

The first full length LP, with Spring Session M (an anagram of "Missing Persons") went gold. "Destination Unknown," "Words," and "Walking in L.A.," were a few of the singles of this LP, with Words being heavily played on the new MTV. (Source: Wikipedia)

I have this LP and rediscovered in last year. “Noticeable One” and “No More Tears” are my personal favorites. However, the whole LP is excellent and as said before, very different than the pop music being put at the time. Missing Persons was a visual band, with Dale Bozzio fronting it, often without many clothes on.
Missing Persons probably hit their peak while appearing at the three-day Southern California concert, the US Festival in May 1983.

Rhyme & Reason released in 1984. I had this LP for years and played it often over the speakers while employed at Musicland in that year. "The Closer that You Get," "Give," "Surrender Your Heart" and "Waiting for a Million Years" are standouts. A single, "Give," peaked at #67 in 1984.

Color In Your Life came out in June 1986. I liked this one. Still do. Stand-out songs include the "Go Against the Flow, and "I Can't Think About Dancing." The guitars are much heavier, and the songs less pop.
Terry and Dale Bozzio’s marriage difficulties led to the end of the band later that year.

Where are they now? For the last 20 years Warren Cuccurullo has found great success as guitarist for Duran Duran. Dale Bozzio had a top 40 hit on the Billboard Dance Chart, "Simon Simon", produced by Prince. Terry Bozzio has toured with Mick Jagger and Jeff Beck, has worked with several top level groups and artists as a session and tour drummer. He was particularly good on Jeff Becks Guitar Shop. Patrick O'Hearn is a composer of ambient instrumental music on his own albums and for television and movies.
Wild composes New Age and meditation music under the name Liquid Mind.

Dale still tours Missing Persons Featuring Dale Bozzio, but a full band reunion never really got going even after a few performances and lots of promotion.
Spring Session M (1982) #17 US
Rhyme & Reason (1984) #43 US
Color in Your Life (1986) #88 US

Next up later: More obscure MTV in Slow Children (President AmI) and The Producers (See Sheila).

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Allman Brothers Band at Love Valley, 1970

I just discovered these clips on YouTube. This is Duane-era film footage, the best I have ever seen. There was a camera in front Duane for a long time so it was like getting a free lesson. The audio is not so good. I think they had a few problems syncing it all up. Otherwise - simply amazing stuff! There are at least 6 parts. The one below is the first and introductory clip.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Duane Allman’s Guitars at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

We traveled to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame a few years ago, as we made our way around the Great Lakes. We arrived there a few hours before closing on the 4th of July, so it was not crowded and we got a parking place right up front.

I did not know what to expect, other than Duane Allman’s famous 1959 flame top Les Paul was there. So naturally I was anxious to see it. But we took our time going through all the other items – a Beatles exhibit with lots of notes and original lyrics, a Jimi Hendrix Stratocaster (that has been sold since, I have read), making that my third Hendrix Strat I have seen (Hard Rock Café in New York and Experience Music in Seattle). There was a wall of items from various American bands, including a Lowell George Stratocaster, Kurt Cobain guitar, and others that I can’t remember. There was so much there that it is hard to remember everything!

I turned the corner and came to the 1970’s exhibit and there it was – the famous tiger-striped 1959 Les Paul, a goldtop Les Paul from Dickey Betts, a Hammond organ from Gregg Allman and … surprise…Duane’s 1962 Les Paul/SG. That was the guitar he used for slide. I was not expecting that. The SG was given to Gerry Groom after Duane’s death, per Duane’s own request made way before his passing. After Gerry’s death, the family sold it to Graham Nash’s wife, who gave it to Graham as a birthday present. He in turn has loaned it to the Hall of Fame for people like me to see. I stood there for at least 10 minutes soaking all of this in.

Photo by bkurth - Flickr
After that, we made our way to the second floor. On the wall, I saw two Les Paul sunbursts. Low and behold, it was Duane’s first 1958 sunburst – the one he used on the Fillmore East album. (On the photo right with the uncovered pickups.) Now the flametop 59 gets all the attention. There are tons of pictures of him with the flame top, and it was assumed that was the Fillmore guitar. No – it was not. He did not own that guitar until mid-1971, after the Fillmore East recording. In front of me, on the wall under glass, was the Fillmore guitar. The Fillmore East album is the reason I ever started playing guitar. I was able to examine this guitar in detail, wishing I could take it out and play it for a few minutes. However, these guitars will never be played much anymore.

Next Duane’s burst was Gary Rossington’s burst, although I do not know the year of it or if it was his main guitar he used all those years. It was great too see these two historic guitars side by side, and on the wall, where you could take a close look at them. No pictures are allowed so I have nothing to show.

photo copyright crazy jim wggns all rights  reserved
Duane traded his 1957 Goldtop Les Paul in Florida for this guitar, allegedly exchanging the pickups from the 57 into the 58. Layla was recorded on the 57, but shortly thereafter, he got the burst. And here it was. I do recall that Duane’s daughter owns these Les Paul’s and has loaned them for exhibit.

The 57 Goldtop stayed in a private collection in Florida for years, and if I recall correctly, it was sold not too long ago. Edit: The 57 goldtop is now on display at the Big House, Allman Brothers museum in Macon, where it is played often at local concerts. Vince Gill played this guitar at a concert in Macon. It is on Youtube and is simply amazing.

Duane’s other guitars are: a 1960 Les Paul Jr., his first electric that ended up in Delany Bramlett’s hands. Duane wanted it back but Delany wouldn’t sell it. That guitar is owned by a Japanese businessman, who apparently is quite a good guitarist and uses the Jr. on stage.

Duane’s 50’s 1956 sunburst Stratocaster is at the London Hard Rock Café vault. Another Stratocaster is at the Hard Rock in Florida, if I recall. He played Stratocasters while a session player at Muscle Shoals. If you listen to” Goin Down Slow” off of the Duane Allman Anthology album, you will hear his Stratocaster tones. Tone is in the fingers and the trademark licks are there in full force. He is mostly associated with the Les Paul, and these session recordings prove that he played and sounded remarkably the same on any guitar.

His Tele with the Strat neck from the Hourglass days was stolen, and the whereabouts of his Gibson ES-335 is unknown. He played this guitar before the Hourglass, probably in the Allman Joys.

He is pictured at Muscle Shoals on a post-CBS sunburst Stratocaster with a rosewood neck and black plastic, but I have never read anything about that guitar.

He gave a 1961 Sunburst Stratocaster to Delany Bramlett, which I recall is still owned by Delany.

Duane also played a Gibson ES-335 in his early days before The Hourglass. Here is a clip of a man supposedly playing this guitar. There is no story to tell where this guitar has been all these years.

Duane playing his Gibson ES-335

Derek Trucks now owns Duane's 50 watt Marshall amp used on the Fillmore East album.
Here is a quite from its former owner:

Regarding the '69 Duane Allman Marshall, I brought it to the sound check for a Derek Trucks Band - Eric Johnson show on 2/13/2001. I remember the date because Susan had flown in that day for Valentines Day, which was the following day. Derek tried it out backstage with his main SG, & it was undeniably, the Fillmore one. Very distinctive fullness & sustain. Derek used the amp for the encores when he, Susan, & Mike sat in with Eric's band. George McCorkle & I had several discussions about the appropriate thing to do with the amp when it was time to pass it along, & we both agreed that for a variety of reasons, it would go to Derek. Over 10 years later, we worked out a deal that puts the amp where it should stay. I am happy to hear that it was used on this album.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

I do not have time to write much this week. So, thanks to a few of the folks on, where I found these links, here are two really great unknown artists currently on YouTube. I am constantly amazed at the talent this is on YouTube.

Lydia is a bassist and singer from Holland. I am really impressed with her and have enjoyed watching her. Check this and her other videos out. She plays in a Level 42 tribute band.

Second is Swedish guitarist Andrews Lewen and his group, Knockout Greg & Blue Weather. I would give anything to play like this. What a great guitar tone!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

49 Seconds on a Telecaster

I do not have anything to write today. So enjoy this clip of me on my Telecaster. Telecasters are the best. I wish I had another one.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Vintage John Juzek Violin

This is a John Juzek violin, bought for $5.00 by my mom many years ago. It was in bad shape when she found it, and a few years ago, she had it restored.
There is some information on John Juzek on the internet. However, I was told at a violin shop in Minneapolis that the violin was nothing special, maybe worth $350. Now I am hearing by others it could be worth quite a bit more. No one knows. I have found other Juzek violins out there for sale with a four-figure value.

This violin was made in Prauge and has a Juzek signature inside, but it is hard to tell if the signature is ink or maybe printed with the label. I have read the Juzek licensed his name to others. If anyone has any idea about this, leave a comment.
We do plan to take this to Elderly Instruments in Michigan this year for appraisal.
This was a good find at a garage sale. I wish she would have found an old Strat or Les Paul, though.