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Author Topic:  Rolling Stones with pedal steel
Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 31 Aug 2019 8:56 pm    
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And Roger...If you had 20 or 30 pics to go along with it, that would be gold. You couldn’t miss. Even if it was just stuff like a shot of George’s guitar case.
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Doug Beaumier


From:
Northampton, MA
Post  Posted 31 Aug 2019 9:02 pm    
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Roger, I love that story. You mentioned it here on the forum a few years ago but I still enjoy hearing it... your band played on a show between the Rolling Stones and the Beatles, and you played though the Beatles amps! It doesn't get much cooler than that.
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Roger Rettig


From:
Naples, FL
Post  Posted 1 Sep 2019 5:23 am    
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Jim Cohen wrote:

"I think you could probably make more $ with such a book than by playing music. Seriously..."

If the last two or three months are anything to go by I could probably make more as a Walmart 'greeter', never mind as a 'music historian'. Confused

When I look back over my sixty year career (I seem to have more time to do that lately) those encounters that I've related are not what stand out as landmark events. At the time all those groups seemed 'just like us' - the difference was that I and my band-mates were contracted sidemen whereas the Beatles, Stones, Fourmost, the Fortunes, etc, etc were groups intent upon their own careers and vying for space on the hit parade.

I've said this before but, in terms of musicianship, I was more impressed by the Hollies. the Zombies and, perhaps, Georgie Fame & the Blue Flames at that time. The Searchers, too, were terrific vocally and had the tightest of rhythm sections. These impressions, though, are from hearing these groups 'live' from the side of various stages.

The Beatles were a touch ragged, if I'm honest. But, once they'd found their stride after their unspectacular first single, they seemed to find real focus. Viewed from my perspective (not 'in their circle' but within arms' length) the difference appeared to be a highly professional and dedicated management style such as hadn't been seen before. The press played its part and the flames were fanned on an almost daily basis.

By 1966 I was loving their endless studio inventiveness with lavishly overdubbed parts that wove a tapestry over some nice chord changes. But in 1963 'Please, Please Me' sounded to me like an inferior Everly Brothers B-side. Back then they were - on stage, at least - just another 'two guitars, bass and drums' outfit who didn't even sound as good as the recordings.

My several encounters with them (as a band and individually) only stand out in my memory because of what they eventually became to be perceived as - arguably the most important pop group of the century.

This thread is about the Stones, though. Third-rate blues knock-offs perpetrated by British art students without a thread of credibility and a noticeable dearth of skill. I can't help wondering - after all, they're a pretty intelligent bunch, by and large - if they still have a quiet chuckle at the hoax they've managed to pull off.

No - my highlight reel is much more down-to-earth. Working with Duane Eddy was a delight as was the session I did with Phil Everly. A handful of dates with my boyhood idol, Lonnie Donegan, a tour with singer/songwriter Sonny Curtis (Sonny taught me so much about accompaniment and dynamics) and being on stage playing with Buddy Emmons. I must also include playing alongside Albert Lee - he's another who is truly special. These are the moments I still reflect upon with delight.
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Jim Cohen


From:
Philadelphia, PA
Post  Posted 1 Sep 2019 5:41 am    
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Roger Rettig wrote:

This thread is about the Stones, though. Third-rate blues knock-offs perpetrated by British art students without a thread of credibility and a noticeable dearth of skill.

Don't hold back, Roger; tell us how you really feel about the Stones... Smile
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Jack Hanson


From:
San Luis Valley, USA
Post  Posted 1 Sep 2019 6:17 am    
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Bravo, Mr. Rettig, for so eloquently stating what so many of us would never have the guts to opine on a public Froum. My similar sentiments stated to my close personal friends is universally greeted with eye rolls, guffaws, or worse. (But what would I know? I'm just a dumb turnip truck driver!) Keep those anecdotes and observations coming, I say. They're priceless. And they're fascinating!
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Roger Rettig


From:
Naples, FL
Post  Posted 1 Sep 2019 6:22 am    
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Thanks, Jack, but they were never going to call me to gig with them anyway.

What do I have to lose?

Very Happy
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Duncan Hodge


From:
DeLand, FL USA
Post  Posted 1 Sep 2019 6:35 am    
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Roger is a true treasure trove of musical history in the 1960’s Britain. I went to his home in Naples to buy a pair of amps from Roger (that still function perfectly, better than the current player...me). I received an education about Lonnie Donagen and London busses that I still cherish today. I know that this thread is about the Stones, whom I still love, but Roger was there and still knows the real story.
If you have the opportunity to spend some time with Roger, you will be well rewarded.
Have a beautiful day in Naples, Roger
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Frank Freniere


From:
The First Coast
Post  Posted 1 Sep 2019 6:53 am    
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Roger -

I’m just now pulling up a chair, popping up some corn, and hoping you also have a couple of Billy Bremner/Dave Edmunds/Nick Lowe stories in your bag.
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Doug Beaumier


From:
Northampton, MA
Post  Posted 1 Sep 2019 7:01 am    
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Quote:
Third-rate blues knock-offs perpetrated by British art students without a thread of credibility and a noticeable dearth of skill.


I have to smile at that because it brings back memories from 1964. I remember listening to the Rolling Stones first and second albums and even as a 14 year old I was surprised at how sloppy the playing was. They sounded like a garage band trying to find their way... playing covers of American blues/soul songs. Jagger later said they tried desperately to get the Chicago blues sound but they ended up with something different and it worked for them.
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Roger Rettig


From:
Naples, FL
Post  Posted 1 Sep 2019 7:52 am    
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Duncan: 'Oh no!!! He's going on about trolleybuses again...'

That's probably why we get no visitors any more. It's good to hear from you.

Frank: I have a million Billy Bremner stories that can't be published while certain people are still alive. Smile

Doug: Agreed!


I don't think Americans generally have a grasp of just how much we revered almost everything musical that came from the USA. There were any number of British wannabes in the 1950s - Cliff Richard, Marty Wilde, Billy Fury, etc - who fell far short of their American idols. Only Lonnie Donegan can truly be credited with being on a par with Presley, Jerry Lee, the Everlys in terms of his influence. It's true that his material was American roots music but his interpretations were electrifying.

Try to imagine a six year period (1956 to 1962) when nothing original was being produced in Britain; during that time we gazed across the Atlantic in awe.

I'm 76 now, pushing 77. Whenever this discussion comes up I'll soon realise that the dissenters are usually ten years my junior and grew up at a time when the so-called 'British invasion' had become the norm. My memories are of British recordings being sub-standard in almost every way in terms of production, musicianship and originality. Even though Ricky Nelson wasn't a great singer his recordings were like a masterclass and the gulf between 'Just A Little Too Much' and yer average Cliff Richard disc was almost unbridgeable.

The Beatles, and later the Stones, changed all that. Gone was the smoothly accomplished sound we'd loved from the Everly Brothers, the dynamic vocals of Little Richard and the unpredictable flair of Jerry Lee Lewis. In their place came aspiring song-writers who took the old genre and ran with it despite their technical shortcomings (George Harrison was no James Burton!) That rough 'unfinished' sound was suddenly hip.
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Jim Cohen


From:
Philadelphia, PA
Post  Posted 1 Sep 2019 8:01 am    
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Roger Rettig wrote:
... (George Harrison was no James Burton!)

"I knew James Burton. James Burton was a friend of mine. Son, you're no James Burton."
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Paul Sutherland


From:
Placerville, California
Post  Posted 1 Sep 2019 8:39 am    
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It seems you already have the outline for at least several good book chapters. Find a ghost writer and let the stories flow. Your heirs will appreciate it.
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Jim Cohen


From:
Philadelphia, PA
Post  Posted 1 Sep 2019 8:43 am    
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If you don't think you have enough for a full book, you could probably write a coupla good articles. I have a friend who's a staff writer for Rolling Stone who I could put you in touch with, if interested...
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b0b


From:
Cloverdale, CA
Post  Posted 1 Sep 2019 9:01 am    
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Yes, the Rolling Stones were a blues knock-off band, but they could play the blues. The Beatles, on the other hand, spent an entire day of their very tight Rubber Soul schedule trying to record a 12-bar instrumental, failing quite spectacularly. I have a bootleg of it, and it's horrible. If you're curious, here's the final, edited-down version. Shocked

Mick Jagger actually studied blues and country, and learned his lessons well. The songs we're talking about here, with Ron Wood's laughable steel parts, really aren't bad from an Americana standpoint.

Rolling Eyes George was no James Burton, but he had Carl Perkins' down cold. Cool
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Roger Rettig


From:
Naples, FL
Post  Posted 1 Sep 2019 9:09 am    
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In the sense that they know which notes to flatten and know the repertoire, b0b, then I agree that they can play the style. It's just all a bit fake for me. Their circumstances and middle-class upbringing lack the necessary credentials, somehow.

"After I've finished my tea and done my homework shall we get together and play the blues? Your front room or mine?"

In the end, though, I suppose all music is a copy of something.
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 1 Sep 2019 9:18 am    
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Jim Cohen wrote:
Roger Rettig wrote:
... (George Harrison was no James Burton!)

"I knew James Burton. James Burton was a friend of mine. Son, you're no James Burton."

Geoff Emerick could be particularly brutal in his commentary on George.
https://www.amazon.com/review/R2U87AR677WZP2

Roger, I think your blunt objectivity on the two biggest bands of all time, based on your personal interaction and experience as a relatively unknown musician playing in the same league with them, would be at the very least great fodder for a music biz rag like RS, if not the knockout punch for a best seller.
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Jack Hanson


From:
San Luis Valley, USA
Post  Posted 1 Sep 2019 9:29 am    
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b0b wrote:
The songs we're talking about here, with Ron Wood's laughable steel parts, really aren't bad from an Americana standpoint.

Is that to imply many "Americana" pedal steel players suck, too?

This thread just keeps getting better all the time, to quote Sir Paul. An awesome post!!! Don't stop now, Roger (nor anyone else, for that matter)!
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Roger Rettig


From:
Naples, FL
Post  Posted 1 Sep 2019 9:43 am    
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Fred:

I read that book one Summer during my seemingly interminable Summer gig in Medora, ND.

The writer of the review may have some good points. In my experience nobody is better placed to observe a group of musicians during their highs and lows than a recording engineer. The position demands a bland personality (unlike the producer who needs to assert himself) who can almost melt into the background.

When we taped that silly TV sketch with George in 1975 myself and Billy Bremner spent quite a few hours with him. One evening after work we'd assembled in the BBC bar at Lime Grove and, after a few libations, things loosened up a bit. George seemed to like both Billy's and my guitar playing (fingerstyle Telecaster, essentially) and asked me what I'd thought of the Beatles. I didn't for a second think he was fishing for praise - we'd been discussing our various influences (Jerry Reed, Lonnie Donegan, Jimmy Bryant, Hank Garland were all mentioned) - and I did quote some of my favourite Beatles records.

Then I said something I've regretted ever since reading that Emerick book in which it's made clear that George actually had a sort of 'red light phobia'. "'Can't Buy Me Love', George - couldn't you have had another stab at that solo?' It's always sounded clumsy to me but I wish I'd held my peace. He replied that the others '...seemed to think it was okay...' and the matter passed.

George and I were acquainted, not actual friends, and I doubt he gave my remark any thought later. I still feel bad about it, however.

It's clear to me that John and Paul were the most fearlessly creative of the four. Paul's voice in those days was a real gift. I recall a producer pointing out to me that more hits are made with high-voiced singers than baritones - McCartney's was almost a gold standard.
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b0b


From:
Cloverdale, CA
Post  Posted 1 Sep 2019 9:45 am    
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Jack Hanson wrote:
b0b wrote:
The songs we're talking about here, with Ron Wood's laughable steel parts, really aren't bad from an Americana standpoint.

Is that to imply many "Americana" pedal steel players suck, too?


Not at all. I'm talking about the songs, not the steel parts.
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Charlie McDonald


From:
out of the blue
Post  Posted 2 Sep 2019 5:08 am    
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Roger does tell a good story. How many guys do you know that can put themselves following the Stones, front of the Beatles??

I thought the Stones were sloppy and untalented (writing songs based on a riff) (and the Beatles, lightweight) until I saw the Havana Moon tour on TV, not long ago.
Now, I UNDERSTAND.
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b0b


From:
Cloverdale, CA
Post  Posted 2 Sep 2019 7:46 am    
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Charlie McDonald wrote:
I thought the Stones were sloppy and untalented (writing songs based on a riff) (and the Beatles, lightweight) until I saw the Havana Moon tour on TV, not long ago.
Now, I UNDERSTAND.

Question Please elaborate, Charlie. Confused
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Charlie McDonald


From:
out of the blue
Post  Posted 2 Sep 2019 8:15 am    
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They'd practiced for several decades.

It's not something I could quantify. Not just the moon and the night and the sweaty crowd, but that may have been part of it.
Several decades of success doubtless affects my perception, and the fact that they still travel with a formidable stage
or even the fact that they're old.
It doesn't stop Jagger, and Wood and Richards have settled into a married couple relationship on guitars, and Charlie Watts has a backbeat that you can't lose it.
They simply rocked. And went beyond it with Gimme Shelter. They are a great band.
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ajm


From:
Los Angeles
Post  Posted 2 Sep 2019 9:26 am    
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" He replied that the others '...seemed to think it was okay...'.......".

John.
Paul.
Ringo.
George Martin.

"The others".
Just some guys.
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Roger Rettig


From:
Naples, FL
Post  Posted 2 Sep 2019 9:48 am    
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His exact words, unless my memory's failed me.

I do remember Billy catching me eye when I asked the question as if to say "Are you serious???"
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Andy Volk


From:
Boston, MA
Post  Posted 2 Sep 2019 10:30 am    
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Roger, you must get these stories documented. They are wonderful and great to hear unvarnished opinion from one who was there.

Would the Beatles have become THE BEATLES without George Martin? I doubt it but then again, most of the elements were already there, just needing to be polished and the best oif their songs, I believe, will last in the same way that we still all know songs like Jeannie with the light brown hair, composed in 1854!

As for the Stones, they at least acknowledged their sources but the end product hasn't evolved in 50 years. Interestingly, a videographer friend of mine worked backstage at a Stones concert about three years ago. There was a guy backstage who sounded identical to Mick doubling all his vocals live. Not surprising as Mick is an old man!
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