Showing posts with label FRED SONIC SMITH. Show all posts
Showing posts with label FRED SONIC SMITH. Show all posts

11.15.2016

LETS ALL VOTE FOR THE MC5 2017 ROCK HALL OF FAME INDUCTION!!!


GREAT News from AP just came in today that the Cleveland Rock Hall of Fame has once again nominated the Mighty MC5!!


The number of punk fans who can ID an MC5 song that doesn't begin with a profanity-laden promise of jam-kicking-out is ever-dwindling, but they still feel Important -- one of the defining names of proto-punk -- and no one would be tremendously surprised to find out they'd been a down-ballot inductee a decade ago without anyone really noticing. The Stooges are already in and the New York Dolls haven't been nominated in 15 years, the MC5 seems like a solid pick here.




Legendary Drummer Dennis Thompson feels it is a great honor to be nominated with all the many greats of rock and roll history!

So all of you legions of MC5 fans get on all of your devices and let's share this story world wide... VOTE FOR THE MC5!!!!

AND A BIG SHOUT OUT TO HBO, MICK JAGGER, MARTY SCORSESE, AND TERENCE WINTER FOR USING KICKING OUT THE JAMS ON VINYL!!!
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5.19.2014

DENIZ TEK BUYS FRED "SONIC" SMITH'S CRESTWOOD

Deniz Tek with The Crestwood in Radio Birdman

Deniz Tek tells the history of his Epiphone Crestwood Deluxe that was once owned by Fred Smith during the MC5 days.

Deniz Tek: I was in Ann Arbor in 1973, home to visit family and friends on my first visit back after moving to Australia in '71. By then I was in a band called TV Jones, and I was always on the lookout for cool guitars. Anyway, I was at the Campus Corners store on South University, looking at the notice board. There was a handwritten ad that read something like "MC5 Epiphone Crestwood guitar" and a phone number. I knew the band had split up and was selling stuff.
 

Being a huge fan of the MC5, and a lover of great guitars, I called the number. It was a middle man, selling the stuff. I think his name was Fred Stoll. I knew his sister in school. So I went down and bought the guitar, I wont say for how much but it was a good deal even for those days. The guitar came with a case with the MC5 stencil painted on it. I took the guitar back to Australia, and it being the finest guitar I had ever owned, I began playing it as my main axe. I've played it ever since.
 

The Epiphone Crestwood Deluxe was the top of the line solid body Epiphone back in the days when Epiphone was owned and built by Gibson. It was the Cadillac. It featured 3 mini-humbucking pickups, and a 3 position selector switch where you could get the neck pickup alone, the bridge pickup alone, or the bridge and middle pickup together. The way it was wired you couldn't get all three at once.

  photo by Kevin O'Rafferty

It had an oversized batwing headstock, bindings, Grover machine heads. The particular model that Fred had was a very rare version that had a factory-installed Bigsby tailpiece instead of the standard Epi tailpiece. This conversion left a couple of extra screwholes in front of the bridge. To cover those up, a little black plate was put on that said "Custom Made". Apparently they only made 200 of that model. Mine was made in 1966.

photo by Kevin O'Rafferty

I am pretty hard on guitars onstage. The Epiphone had the neck break off 3 times. It was never deliberate, but just from the way I play, plus the fact that the neck-body joint on those guitars is a bit flimsy ... it was that model's only design flaw. The last time it happened, in the early 90's, I left it with Dan Erlewine. He was the guitarist in the Prime Movers when Iggy was the drummer, and he was also at the same time my first guitar teacher at Herb David Guitar Studio in Ann Arbor in 1964. Dan later became a world renowned guitar luthier and repairman. He used to write the guitar repair section of Guitar Player magazine. Dan did an amazing repair job on that guitar and fixed it up so the neck joint was bulletproof. I never had a problem with it from then on.
 
Photo: Tim Bugbee

I became friends with Fred Smith a couple of years after I bought his guitar, and he would occasionally ask me to bring it along and play as a guest with Sonics Rendezvous on the song City Slang, which features a lot of guitar. Fred was always happy to see his old Crestwood.


In 1978 I was in London with Radio Birdman, and we ran into Iggy and his touring band which at that time included Fred Smith, Scott Asheton, Gary Rasmussen and Scott Thurston. Fred had some extra cash on hand, and asked me if I would consider selling the guitar back to him. By then I had played that guitar on several hundred shows and some recordings ... it felt like part of me. I wouldn't sell. He was understanding and good humored about it. We went out to dinner that night. Much later, after Fred passed away, my pal Scott Asheton told me that Patti wanted to get the guitar back as part of Fred's estate. Again, I had to respectfully decline.

I went to photograph the legendary Radio Birdman at Manning Bar last night. The band had fun on stage and the crowd loved it. The show was awesome.
Here is a photo of half of Deniz Tek and his beloved Epiphone Crestwood Deluxe as they get ready to launch.
Photo Emmy Etié Photography

When I was touring with DKT-MC5 in 2004, I played that guitar. It was a great, great honor to fill in with them. Of course, no one can ever fill Fred Smith's shoes, or play like him. I asked Wayne what he wanted me to do, exactly. He said "I'm hiring you to play your ass off". I said: "I can do that"! Wayne remembered Fred's guitar well. He said that around the time I bought it, they also tried to sell his world famous American flag Stratocaster. And he told me that no one bought it! Unsold, it went into storage. He went on to say that he never found out what happened to it after that.


The guitar has become iconic over the years. People associate it with me, with Radio Birdman, and with the MC5. In Australia, Epiphone guitars became sought after. Players wanted that sound, and that look! By 2006, the last time I toured with it, it was so beat-up and had lost so much paint that it began to have some tone problems when the bare wood would get soaked. I had it dried out and clear coated, and decided to allow it to retire gracefully. Deniz Tek

★Deniz Tek, from Ann Arbor, Michigan, is a guitarist, singer and songwriter currently based in Sydney, Australia. His career in music, grounded in late-60's Detroit, extends through several decades and across continents. He is best known as a founding member of the influential Australian independent rock band Radio Birdman.

In 2007, Deniz was inducted into the Australian Music Hall of Fame, and in 2012 was voted number 7 in the top 100 Australian guitarists of all time.★

3.04.2014

SONICS RENDEZVOUS BAND: DENIZ TEK PART TWO


Ron and I began to work on songs and were often hanging out at his Mom's house on Highlake Rd on the west end of Ann Arbor, where he was living. Ron had contact with some other local musicians, and was trying to put something together. This was before Destroy All Monsters, and not too long after the New Order. We would sit in the TV room (the TV was on continuously) and have drinks until 4 or 5 AM, and go down to the basement to jam.

 
There was a singer in Ypsilanti...a bit too much of a "rock god" type for me, and Rob King who would later drum in Destroy All Monsters, and Dennis "Machine Gun" Thompson, from the MC5, who was living in downriver Detroit.

 
Dennis was with Ron in the New Order, and would be part of our New Race project in 1981. We jammed with Dennis a few times, and made some tapes.


Wayne Kramer had just gotten out of prison, and came by while we were jamming in a studio and making tapes. He was doing something with Brits Mick Farren from the Deviants, and Larry Wallis guitarist of the Pink Fairies. Soon after that Wayne would form Gang War with Johnny Thunders, more or less a debacle in which Thunders was usually too smashed to play, but it still offered a good opportunity to see the great Wayne Kramer at very small clubs.


Here, at last, was the energy source. It seems that it never dies, but like an artesian water source it sometimes goes underground and reappears later, elsewhere. It can have multiple tributaries and it needs to be replenished from time to time, not just taken from. You take, but you have to give back. It goes on.
 

I would see Sonics Rendezvous as often as possible from then on. I was collecting tons of raw inspirational material to take back with me to Radio Birdman. In all the shows I went to, that was always foremost in my mind. There had been no mentors .. not even peers … for a long time. No one to gain knowledge from. No one to inspire my muse.

 
Radio Birdman was completely and utterly isolated in the first months of 1976. Staying on that island without contact for too long could have caused the inspiration to fade, dry up, blow away. The vision could lose clarity, dissipate.


My band had not yet achieved full power, and I knew I needed new influences to help it go to the next level. For me, Sonics Rendezvous made the difference. It was like finding a clear cold mountain spring in a trackless desert.

By around February (1976) it was time to return from the Michigan snow to the blast furnace heat of Sydney. In those days the transpacific routes were mostly flown by DC-10s or early model 747s which had to make one refueling stop between LA and Sydney. Continental stopped in Samoa, Qantas stopped in Fiji, and United stopped in Honolulu.


I flew on all these routes, whatever ticket was the cheapest at the time. I was able usually to write material for songs on these long tedious flights, so as to make some productive use of the time. Sometimes I'd get off for a couple of days in these places and look around. I had a friend in Honolulu, John Berger, and sometimes we would go into town and see bands in between these flights.


Once I stopped in Fiji and hitchhiked into the countryside, wandered off the road into the jungle and enjoyed generous hospitality in a small village. Guys spent evenings listening to the radio, playing cards and drinking raw grey muddy kava juice ... the chief was all too happy for this skinny white guy with a guitar to join in the circle and share some laughs as the kava bowl got passed around.

epilogue
Arriving in Sydney I went straight over to Radio Birdman manager George Kringas' house in Blues Point. I wanted to get back into rehearsals and get ready to record. I got a shock when I went to the bathroom. There was a dead lamb in the bathtub that seemed to be staring at me. Band sidekick Mark Sisto had bought it. It was waiting in the bath because of drainage, later to be roasted on a spit, for my homecoming party that night.

READ PART ONE DENIZ TEK SEES SRB 

★Deniz Tek, from Ann Arbor, Michigan, is a prolific guitarist, singer and songwriter currently based in Sydney, Australia. His career in music, grounded in late-60's Detroit, extends through several decades and across continents. He is best known as a founding member of the influential Australian independent rock band Radio Birdman.

In 2007, Deniz was inducted into the Australian Music Hall of Fame, and in 2012 was voted number 7 in the top 100 Australian guitarists of all time.★




2.23.2014

DENIZ TEK: SONICS RENDEZVOUS BAND, 1976 PART ONE

copyright photography Robert Matheu - robertmatheu.com
SONICS RENDEZVOUS BAND, 1976
AUTHOR: DENIZ TEK
PHOTOS: ROBERT MATHEU
            JOE RUFFNER

I was visiting home in Ann Arbor, taking a break from working with my own group, Radio Birdman, in Sydney. My brother Kurt and I were having drinks in an awful student bar on Maynard, and we were talking about the pathetic state of music now compared to the "good old days". We walked out into the bitterly cold street where I noticed a handbill sized gig poster. It was advertising a gig by a band called "Sonics Rendezvous Band", and there was a photo of these guys...

copyright photography Robert Matheu - robertmatheu.com

Rock Action,from the Stooges; Fred Smith, from the MC5; Scott Morgan, from the Rationals; Gary Rasmussen, from the Up. I knew all about them from the old days...what Michigan had been to rock and roll music six or seven years earlier, which I had thought was totally lost now. This would be worth checking out. Some of the old fire might still be alive.

The gig was at the "Roadhouse", a blue collar Michigan bar and restaurant about 10 miles north of town off US23 (Whitmore Lake). It was on for that night and the gig had already started. I knew these guys had all been great in the past, and could be great now. We got in my brother's green '72 Olds Cutlass "S", and he gunned the big block V8.

Deniz Tek with Fred's former Epiphone Crestwood Deluxe guitar

We headed up snowy North Main St, over the river bridge leaving town, on to 23 and north a couple of exits, across North Territorial, off at the top of the hill, across old Whitmore Lake Rd. and pulled up in the parking lot. We went in. The place held about 40 or fifty people, mostly sitting around at tables. There was a small empty dance floor and dim lighting.


The band was playing. Immediately, it held a great fascination for me. They were better than I had hoped. As players, they were technically solid. As a unit, they had fused into something magical. There was Fred, playing his 12 string Rick (strung with six), through an old Fender Twin through a Marshall 4x12 cab. Set against and within the bedrock rhythm background of the band, his solos were the most fluid and original I had heard since Hendrix.


His playing had progressed beyond his time in the MC5. In those days he had already started work on transcribing legendary jazz sax solos to guitar, and adapting them to rock music. He had come much closer now to perfecting this idea...starting with Coltrane, Shepp and Lester Bowie but ending up with something entirely of his own. Scott Morgan with his old Telecaster, was the perfect sixties rhythm and blues foil to Freds' experimentalist approach.

copyright photography Robert Matheu - robertmatheu.com

Morgan had the great white R&B shout, as good but more subtle than Mitch Ryder. He could hit all the notes, with incredible timing and sense of cool. For my money, the three greatest white R&B singers were all from the Detroit area: Rob Tyner, Mitch, and Scott Morgan.


Fred had an element of Bob Dylan in his voice as well. Scotty "Rock Action" Asheton had his simple Ludwig kit, beating it and the locality to submission, shaking the building with sheer brute force, but with split-atom accuracy. Every member was totally focused and were simultaneously deep in the moment while lost in nothingness.

They had achieved "loose tightness"...a term Ron Asheton used to describe the impossibly elusive balance of freedom and spontaneity yet being in the pocket. I could feel it instinctively....I abandoned myself to the sound and the look of it. I danced. I laughed. I absorbed every beat of it.


During a break between sets I talked to them a little. Fred was very polite and reserved, preferring to just sit there, bourbon and cigarette in hand, observing, thinking, but saying only an occasional word or two here and there.

 Scott,Gary, Fred and Rock  
copyright photography Robert Matheu - robertmatheu.com

Scott Asheton was Rock Action. The world famous tattoo was there. His persona initially seems intimidating. I found out later this fearsome initial impression shields a rather shy spirit with a quiet, intelligent sense of humor. Gary Rasmussen sat casually smoking, was friendly and seemed to find everything amusing. Morgan was the most approachable and happy to hold a conversation.

I left them to their break after a few minutes and went to the bar to get a drink. Coming back to find my brother, I recognized Ron Asheton at a table by himself, a Seagrams Seven and soda in front of him, smoking a Lucky through an aquafilter cigarette holder. Like something in a movie rather than real. He had on those trademark aviator glasses, and sported a full length black leather SS officers greatcoat.

 
I had seen him in the band in 1969 and on the album covers ... he was a little bit heavier now, but instantly recognizable. I went right over to him and said hi, and became an autograph hound, asking him to sign one of the Roadhouse drink menus for me. I was going to give it to Rob Younger as a gift when I got back to Sydney.  STAY TUNED FOR PART 2

Deniz Tek photo: Anne Laurent

★Deniz Tek, from Ann Arbor, Michigan, is a prolific guitarist, singer and songwriter currently based in Sydney, Australia. His career in music, grounded in late-60's Detroit, extends through several decades and across continents. He is best known as a founding member of the influential Australian independent rock band Radio Birdman.

In 2007, Deniz was inducted into the Australian Music Hall of Fame, and in 2012 was voted number 7 in the top 100 Australian guitarists of all time.★



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