Kern Kennedy ‘Legendary Sonny Burgess and the Pacers Pianist Interviewed.


I had the great pleasure of talking to legendary Sun Records and Sonny Burgess and the Pacers pianist Kern Kennedy a coupe of years ago. This interview was published in UK Rock N Roll magazine, I thought it should be made available to a wider audience. Kern is still going strong and playing with The Legendary Pacers. Comments and shares appreciated.

Kern1

 

Ken2

(c) Simon Nott

An Internet search for rockabilly guitarist.


The Internet is a wonderful thing when it comes to connecting people. When I first discovered rockabilly music very much of it was still shrouded in mystery. I was fascinated to read the little snippets that were available on sleeve notes and in magazines like New Kommotion and Now Dig This. The music that pumped out through my cheap club-book record player from those vinyl groves that I so loved was often performed not by people and faces but just names on the record label. I wanted to know about Sonny Burgess with his red hair that pre-dated punk by 20 years and Billy Lee Riley and his fabulous Little Green Men. Luckily since those early days those guys have been well documented. I’m still keen to know the stories behind the songs I have loved and put faces to the names.

One song I have always really enjoyed was ‘I Fell In Love’ by a mysterious artist called Ken Cook. It was recorded at Sun Records but never released at the time. One of many gems that lay hidden for years, a victim of Sam Phillips’ glut of talent. Not only did the song have great lyrics that just ooze the sort of 1950’s which involved drive-ins, drug stores and rockin’ chicks, but that guitar. Now I am no musician so have no idea if that guitar riff that runs through the song is hard to play, but it is one that simply rocks. I loved it then and I love it now, a real ear worm which so compliments the lyrics and the images they conjure up. it’s on YouTube, have a listen

On this particular post of the tune, someone mentioned that they had heard that the vocal was actually Roy Orbison. A guy named Carl Watson replied that no, it was Ken Cook, he was there. I replied ‘You were there?’. Now for what ever reason, I’m at a loss now, I didn’t go back to that track for another five months. Carl had replied to me that he had played guitar on all Ken’s Sun recordings. Yes that guitar I have loved for 30 years. The guy that played on it had actually spoken to me via the Internet. I was gutted that I’d not seen it until now. I have been lucky enough to have interviewed several of my heroes in the past year or so. Either through contacts made through Vive Le Rock and Big Cheese magazines for whom I write on a freelance basis. Heads up given by psychobilly band leader Bernie Bilko or just via the Internet. Now I had a contact with Carl I really wanted to talk to him about that Sun session that produced a great song but didn’t result in a release. Ken and the guys must have entered that studio in awe and in the knowledge that they were treading the path once  and indeed at the time still trod  by rockabilly legends. There was the real chance this could be the big time if they nailed it. Like so many others at Sun they did nail it, but for some inexplicable reason the fantastic music they made never surfaced until the 1970’s. By which time Ken and the guys had no doubt gotten over the disappointment. Carl obviously remembered the session with some pride. I’d love to hear his story, and these days due to the Internet he could well be a few clicks of a keyboard and a phone call away.

I set to work on Google looked for Texan Carl. It didn’t take me long to find him, though when I did my heart sank.

I was too late to talk to Carl. I felt a lump in my throat, I was in mourning for a guy who hadn’t even been a name in my mind for those 30 odd years, just a riff. But what a riff. I’m glad that Carl was able to tell me who he was personally, it’s still there in the comments on the first video. I’m so sad I never got to speak to Carl in person, but now for ever more I know, and thanks to you for kindly reading this, so do you. That guitar riff on Ken Cook’s ‘I Fell In Love’ was played by Carl Watson. Thanks Carl and R.I.P.

(c) Simon Nott

‘A Date With Paul Ansell’s No9’ – brand new studio album out August 16th 2013 on ‘I Sold My Soul Media’


A Date With Paul Ansell’s No9

(I Sold My Soul Media)

Release Date August 16th 2013

Cover Paul Ansell
Exceptional singer, song-writer and performer Paul Ansell, front man of the Rock ‘n’ Roll band Number Nine, is an authentic figurehead of the genre. He is considered one of the  top rock n roll acts on the planet and has seen his fan base constantly grow. Ansell and his band have nearly two decades in the business under their belts, releasing eleven albums in that time. His music has absorbed numerous influences along the way. Hardly surprising as Paul has worked with many Rock ‘n’ Roll originals including Elvis’s Sun guitarist, who really was there when it happened, the legendary Scotty Moore, with whom he has shared a stage several times.

Other big names Paul has worked with include Bob Moore, Reggie Young, David Briggs, Jerry Carrigan, Billy Swan, Mac Curtis, Jesse Young, Robert Gordon and the late, great Billy Lee Riley. Paul Ansell’s musical spectrum is unique, it encompasses Rock ‘n’ Roll, Blues as well as Country. With his emotive voice Ansell arranges all his songs in a style which fits him perfectly. The master of diversity does not only work at the highest level as a performer but also as a songwriter. His self-composed songs exude a singular magic, which is unmistakable and overwhelming. When Ansell performs people are immediately reminded of voices like Elvis and Charlie Rich but cannot mistake the unique touch of Paul Ansell.

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Over the years No9 has been made up of a plethora of top musicians from the rock and roll rockin’ scene. From there humble beginnings in 1992 were they played as a trio featuring Matt Jackson on guitar and Nick Gilroy on bass. Drummer Ritchie Taylor was the line up on the first album, Gwyn Griffiths took over the sticks on the second and third albums. Cem Baykara was 2nd guitar for a while. Then guitarist Malcom Chapman took over on Mood Swings album along with new bassist Micky Wigfall. This line-up also played on the Countrified album. Then Ricky Hughes took over on drums, Mark Pennington of Caravans fame on bass and Tony Coni on guitar. This line up stayed the same up to the Live at Sun album. Now with a brand new line up, No9 is still a swinging little combo of hand-picked musicians that gives Paul Ansell his sound. The current line-up of No9 is….

Paul Ansell – voice and acoustic guitar
Paul Atkinson – drums
Guy Trigg – doublebass
James Compton – Piano and guitar
Jeffery Mead – Pedal Steel

Things are taking off in 2013, Paul has contributed two songs to the soundtrack of the movie ‘Mr. Morgans Last Love’, produced by Hans Zimmer and set for release in August featuring actors Michael Caine, Clémence Poésy  and Gillian Anderson. The soundtrack songs are ‘Jump In’ and ‘Walking Back To Baby´s Arms” will also be available on Paul Ansell’s this brand new album ‘A date with Paul Ansell´s Number Nine’. Check out the trailer for the film here.

http://www.moviepilot.de/movies/mr-morgans-last-love

More info on Paul and No9 visit their website

http://www.no9rockin.co.uk

For all UK press enquiries please contact, me, Simon Nott.

simonnott@yahoo.co.uk

WHAT THE PRESS ARE SAYING

UK Rock n Roll Magazine

Paul Ansell UK RnR Chart

Big Cheese

Paul Ansell's number 9 BC review

Paul Ansell review VLR
Paul Ansell UK RnR review

Paul Ansell CMP REVIEW

W.S (Fluke) Holland – Father Of The Drums.


I recently had the honour of interviewing original Sun Records legend W.S. Holland. It was published in UK Rock N Roll magazine (available at all good newsagents). Here is the interview in full.

WS Holland UKRR1 WS HOLLAND UKRR2

The reason I am posting it now.  There is a campaign to raise money to make a documentary on WS, pledges in support are asked. It is sadly looking like the funds will not be found in time. I feel that is a tragedy. If every Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins fan donated a tenner the project would be subscribed 100 x over. But it’s not too late. Here’s the link to Kickstarter where you can show your support and pledge to help make it happen. 

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/240515122/the-father-of-the-drums-ws-holland-documentary

Careful how dig you deep!


One of the defining musical moments of my youth was hearing a track that was already 22 years old at the time, for the first time. As soon as Roland Janes’ mysteriously bent guitar notes hit my 13 year old ears I was hooked. By the time the 2.05 minutes of the song faded out into the stratosphere with the last bent note from that same guitar I was not only hooked I was mesmerised. That space-aged guitar note led into a maelstrom of unadulterated Rock N Roll abandon, crashing cymbals, slapping bass run-downs, pumping piano (that I later learned was the Killer, Jerry Lee Lewis himself), rasping vocals and the screams. Oh those screams, at just the right moments in the songs, had and still have the hairs standing up on the back of my neck. ‘Flying Saucer Rock N Roll’ by Billy Lee Riley and The Little Green Men recorded at Sun Records 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee on December 11th 1956 has to be one of thee most perfect slabs of Rockabilly wildness ever.

Having visited that tiny studio since I could only imagine the atmosphere in there as that timeless flash of group perfection was immortalised on tape forever, Thunderbird wine bottles and cigarettes only adding to it no doubt. Roland Janes letting rip on the guitar, Jimmy Van Eaton bashing the hell out of that basic drum kit’s cymbal and Marvin Pepper blistering his fingers on the bass while Jerry Lee tried to steal the show with his piano. Riley himself was no doubt snarling through the control room window at Sam Phillips as he spat out the words of what was sure to be the biggest hit of 1957, at that moment Phillips’ smile can only be imagined, it would have been broad.

As history tells us, for what ever reason that song was not the smash hit it should have been. Riley and his band went on to record on plenty of Sun classics as the unsung house band and Billy Lee Riley became a Rockabilly legend thanks to re-issues of his Sun recordings in the 1970s and onwards. Though the Rockabilly pond is a small one commercially, to the general public he was still unknown, my first hearing of  ‘Flying Saucer’ was on a Pickwick double album found in a supermarket bargain bin.Regardless, that recording from way back in 1956 has become an underground classic and revered by countless musical luminaries that have gone on to greater musically, if only financially, heights than Billy Lee Riley ever did before his death on 2nd August 2009.

What makes that song? For me it was the pure wildness of those 2 minutes, the spontaneity and the built up exuberance of getting gone, pressure that could only be released in an involuntary lung-busting scream, not only that, but a scream at the perfect time. I have relived that perfect two minutes of 1956 untold times since that day I first heard it in 1978. That song has travelled with me on vinyl, tape, CD and MP3 through my life, like an old friend that can be always relied upon in times of need.

I had heard one or two out-takes of the song over the years, unremarkable versions as they were working on the arrangement without Jerry Lee Lewis a few days before, very unpolished, interesting to hear but that’s it. Only last month a newish release came to my attention, ‘Billy Lee Riley – The Outtakes’ which boasted none other than 11 takes of ‘Flying Saucer’ as well as 67 other mostly unreleased false-starts, alternate takes of  his classic Sun recordings. It was alternate take 8 of ‘Flying Saucer’ that caught my imagination the most, with ‘studio chatter’. Was it going to be a gem like Carl Perkins threatening to ‘Bust his guitar’ when messing up the start of Dixie Fried or the classic Sam Phillips screaming ‘That’s a pop song now’ after an embryonic Elvis, Scotty and Bill  take of ‘Blue Moon Of Kentucky’? I am a musical geek when it comes to Sun recordings. As it turned out, that bit of studio chatter was unremarkable it was ‘alternative take 10’ of ‘Flying Saucer’ that has knocked me for six, taken away three decades of false mental image as Billy Lee Riley and The Little Green Men belted out their 2.05 minutes of Rockabilly perfection for the umpteenth time with no signs of getting jaded.

If you love the recording originally released on Sun 260 as much as I do, stop reading now.

Those perfectly timed screams from that manic session………..

Overdubbed afterwards.

Gutted.

(c) Simon Nott