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John “Rabbit” Bundrick (The Who, Free, Bob Marley, solo) – an interview by Thodoris Dimitroulas from Greece

Friday, October 14th, 2011

John “Rabbit” Bundrick (The Who, Free, Bob Marley, solo)

EXCLUSIVE:Hit Channel had the great honour to talk with a living legend:John “Rabbit” Bundrick. “Rabbit” is The Who’s keyboardist for more than 30 years. Previously he was a member of Free (“Heartbreaker” album).He has also played with Bob Marley,Roger Waters (“Amused to Death” album),Johnny Nash and Eric Burdon (The Animals,War singer) among others. Read below the great answers he gave us:
 
 
Which are the current projects you’re involved in?Are you doing any recordings this period?
I’ve just finished doing some Snowy White (ed:Roger Waters,ex-Thin Lizzy guitarist) gigs in Holland and Germany, and will do more with Snowy as time goes on. We get on really great, and have a mutual respect for each others playing.
 
How you came in contact with Night Parade guys?Did you live in Liverpool like them?
I met them all when they hired me to play keys on their last album. It was a great meeting, and we instantly became friends. I just wish someone with some ‘clout’ would sign them up and give thema chance at the big time. Great guys and great musicians. Rob writes fantastic songs and has a very unique voice. Things are slow for them right now, but they are still plodding on, so fans, you can check them out on my website, www.rabbitwho.com.
 
How possible a new The Who tour?I know Pete Townshend is recording right now..
Well, it’s all down to Pete an when and if he wants to work again. I know there’s something in the pipeline, but have no details of anything definite. We’ll see…He’s the boss, the rest of us just wait around for him to be active.
 
Do you think the period you were playing with Johnny Nash was very important for your later career?
It kickstarted my whole professional career as a giggin’ musician. Without working with my dear friend, Johnny Nash, it led me on to other work including Bob Marley, Free, I became the ‘staple’ keyboard player for Island Records in the early ’70s, and branched out all over London to other artists and producers, Glyn Johns (ed:Led Zeppelin engineer,famous rock producer), Pete Townshend and Ronnie Lane (ed:Faces,Small Faces bassist,deceased) and Glyn is the guy that introduced me to me, Joan Armatrading, Andy Fairweather-Low, and countless others..Micky Most (Donovan’s “Cosmic Wheels” album and solid session work).  Johnny Nash is responsible for all of this, thanks John.
 
Do you think your solo albums should have received more recognition from fans and press?Many of these are excellent works!
Of course I do, but the problem was that I had no ‘band’ of my own to tour and gig those albums, so really it’s partly my fault for not getting a band of my own, and working the songs Live. I was doing so many sessions for others, and the Studio is where I am the most comfortable, as opposed to the stage, that I never even thought of having my own band. Thank you for the nice comment on their worth.
 
Do you miss old friends like Paul Kossoff (Free guitarist),Bob Marley,Jim Capaldi (Traffic drummer), and John Entwhistle (The Who bassist)?
 Goes without saying, I miss them all everyday, and have pictures of them in my studio so I can get their vibe going here, which inspires a lot of my work. I could have easily been a casualty as well, and thank God for allowing me to continue on with my Life & Career. Long may it last.
 
 
When you first met Bob Marley in Sweden,did you expected that you would become close friends?Were you familiar with reggae before meeting him? 
When I met Bob in Stockholm in 1971, he was just a songwriter for Johnny Nash, as  per the Marley Tracks Johnny used on the “I Can See Clearly Now” album. I’d never heard of Reggae before that, so Bob personally taught me how to do the organ reggae style while we were recording songs for Johnny in Europa Film studios in Stockholm. Bob, and myself were taken to Sweden by Nash to help compose songs for the Film Johnny was starring in at the time. Fabulous days, fabulous days, the best so far……..
 
Do you have happy memories from Roger Waters’ “Amused to Death” recordings?Was Roger a easy-going person to work with?
Yes, very good memories. He is such a talent to reckon with. His music is the ‘original’ Pink Floyd sound. I did a bit of work on “Amused to Death”, a bit of Hammond here & there, that’s all, but it was a mind-blowing experience to hear ‘that sound’ coming into my headphones as I fumbled along trying not to let the nostalgia   and jaw dropping music that I was playing too. Wow !…what an artist that guy is, what a talented, intelligent man Roger is (ed:unfortunately,many Greeks learned the name “Roger Waters” last summer). 
 
Do you like today Eric Burton’s “Survivor” album?It has some great musicians playing there (Alexis Korner,Zoot Mooney,P.P Arnold).. 
Yes I do, and you know what?, I’m playing on that album too (ed:that’s why I’m asking for that). Eric covered 2 of my “Broken Arrow” songs on his album a couple of years ago, “Muddy Water” and “Devil Run”…..My Crawler drummer, Tony Braunagel produces Eric’s albums today, and Crawler’s bass player, Terry Wilson, is in Eric’s current touring band. It’s all in the family. Musicians as old as us eventually get to know these old ‘rock stars’,  ha  ha.
 
You’ve played with many great musicians. Is there anyone you’d like to work with and hasn’t happened yet?
Uh, Eric Clapton, Roger Waters, Paul McCartney, too many to list.  I’ve met them all several times, but they already have their own keyboardist, like I am the Who’s keyboarist, the others have their own favorite guy they like to work with. Once you’ve worked with a certain band for as long as I have, means I know the in’s and out’s of how they work, live & play, so they can rely on their main man on keys to slot right in whenever the time comes.
 
Have you ever been in Greece?Send a message to Greek fans.
Nope, but would love to visit. I know Greece is having trouble right now, but hope that the trouble doesn’t ruin the people’s of Greece vitality and energetic outlook on Life. Hang in there you guys, hang in there.
 
 
A huge “THANK YOU” to Mr John “Rabbit” Bundrick.
Check http://www.rabbitwho.com

JIMMY KUNES – YOU BLUES-ROCK PEOPLE GOTTA CHECK THIS GUY OUT……

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Jimmy Kunes

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I’ve just been doing a bit of work with Jimmy over the Internet.
He sends me stuff down the ‘wire’, and I have a jolly time over-dubbing
brand new keyboards and then send it back to him. He’s a great song writer and
vocals are supreme. We work great together. And the thrill of it all?…
he comes from two of my favourite bands………..SAVOY BROWN…..and CACTUS, with the old
Vanilla Fudge band members. I’m in my Element here Ya’ll…………….

IN HOPE FOR ALL OF MY FRIENDS IN JAPAN – a message to to the WORLD

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

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HAPPY NEW YEAR – HAPPY 2011 from Rab & Jody

Friday, December 31st, 2010

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Sign up for David Clayton’s Mag, The Official Expert on All things Free, Crawler, and the Individual members of the Bands & their Offshoots, editor of the Free Appreciation Society

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

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CHRISTMAS REGGAE SANDWICH-GET THIS MUSIC FOR CHRISTMAS PARTIES-

Monday, October 11th, 2010
The Rhythm Tramps: Christmas Reggae Sandwich

A Complete Christmas Reggae Party as ‘LIVE’ as ‘You’ will be at Your Office or Home Christmas Party, including Warts and all. Bring the recording studio, reggae band included, to your Party with these favorite christmas carols, all done “reggae-style”. This album is a ‘ PARTY ANIMAL’, infectious, funny, fun, with bumps, start ups, and falling about laughing endings. You’ll sing along and dance to this for sure, and if you listen carefully enough, (or loud enough), you’ll hear the band doing the same thing. Featuring John Rabbit Bundrick on keyboards & vocals, GT Moore on reggae guitar & vocals, Tony Braunagel on drums & vocals, Terry Wilson on bass, ‘Lord’ Ted Bunting on horns, The Princess of Persia on background vocals, and B.J. Cole on steel guitar. We recorded this in the smelliest, smallest dingy studio we could find in London, just to get that Party vibe. Put this on at your party and then just do your thing, whatever that might be, and soon the music will do what music should do at a party…..Dance, sing, scream, fall over, laugh, get drunk, get high, roll around on the ground, whatever takes your mind away from work and woes. (warning) This music is for Christmas Parties. Turn it up and party down. Expect the odd start ups, count in’s, falling apart at the seams endings, and a whole lot of fun going on.

CRAWLER-Best of Live and Burning

Monday, August 16th, 2010
Crawler: Best of Live and Burning

Live At My Fathers Place +Studio Tracks (feat. Paul Kossoff)

Monday, August 16th, 2010
Crawler: Live At My Fathers Place  +Studio Tracks (feat. Paul Kossoff)

VENUS – JOHN RABBIT BUNDRICK

Monday, August 16th, 2010
John Rabbit Bundrick: Venus

RABBIT INTERVIEW with ANGUS MANWARING ABOUT PAUL KOSSOFF JULY 2010

Monday, August 2nd, 2010
The Unforgotten, The Great.............Paul Kossoff

The Unforgotten, The Great.............Paul Kossoff

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ANGUS…….
We were talking about the Heartbreaker line-up of Free (KKTR plus some
singer called Rodgers) and when I came to transcribe the interview from the
audio I was a bit confused about one of your answers. Here is the context:

* * *
RABBIT: I’m sure somebody must have had words with Paul or someone, about “Okay,
we got a unit now. Let’s get a real singer in and call it Free again. I mean
that’s what I would have thought of it as. Instead of saying KKTR do another
one, maybe get Jess Roden in or something like that, or a proper singer ‘cos
the band’s good, instead of doing that they just got Paul in and called it
Free again. That’s what stopped KKTR in its tracks from becoming anything
and that’s why I’m glad he wasn’t in there then because it kind of gave us
the chance to become a unit of musicians without Paul’s influence. Which was
good, it was a good thing.
AM: And then when Paul Rodgers was involved again..
JB: Yup and when he got fed up with it, he busted it up again. So if we had
stayed as KKTR for example and possibly have Jess Roden sing or an
appropriate singer, then we might have become another version of Free who
was successful, possibly.
* * *
ANGUS……
My understanding was that the KKTR/Free sequence was something like this:
Free splits up mid ’71
KKTR album recorded late ’71
Kossoff goes downhill over this period
Free reforms early ’72
Free tours US and records “Free at last” (Kossoff also works on solo
material)
Mid ’72 Fraser quits, Kossoff ill – RKTR (Free) do Japanese etc tour
Late ’72 Kossoff returns and KRKTR (Free) tour UK and record Heartbreaker.
End of `72 Kossoff quits Free!
Early ’73 RKTR and Wendell (Free) tour US
Free splits.

Okay, I love Paul Rodgers’ voice, but he isn’t my hero or anything, and I’m
genuinely just trying to understand what happened. From the sequence of
events it doesn’t seem on the face of it like he stopped KKTR in its tracks
or broke Free up later, given that Kossoff had walked out. I suspect I’m
missing quite a lot here, can you clarify? And what was going on that caused
Kossoff to leave a band with the two people he admired most in, you and Paul
Rodgers?
Okay, I think that’s the tricky one out of the way, hopefully the rest are a
bit more straightforward.

You were certainly a big factor in how his playing developed, did you talk
about that, and what he was aiming at musically, his goals and aspirations?

RABBIT – NOT REALLY, IT WAS MORE OF A WINK OF THE EYE, A REALIZATION
THAT WE WERE BOTH AFTER THE SAME THING, AN ACKNOWLEGEMENT
FROM HEAD TO HEAD THAT WE WERE GOING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION.

NOTHING WAS EVER SAID, ME & KOSS WERE BOTH KINDRED SPIRITS,
AND WE RECOGNISED EACH OTHER FROM THE START AS JUST THAT,
BOTH CUT FROM THE SAME CLOTH, SO WE HELPED EACH OTHER
MENTALLY, AND NEVER GOT IN EACH OTHERS WAY MUSICALLY.

ANGUS…….Did you and Koss have shared interests outside of playing together, movies,
books, etc? Deep discussions about life the universe and everything?

RABBIT – NOPE, JUST DOPE………AS I SAID, WE WERE INTELLECTUALLY CONNECTED..

ANGUS…Did you talk about each other’s playing technique, or comment on specific
recording either of you had made?

RABBIT – YES, WHEN KOSS FIRST PLUGGED HIS GUITAR INTO MY LESLIE
SPEAKER, I YELLED OUT AT HIM, “WOW, THAT’S FANTASTIC!!!”.

HE SMILED BACK AT ME AND NODDED HIS HEAD. KOSS WAS A QUIET
KIND OF GUY…

ANGUS……In the interview with Stephen Rosen in January ’76, Kossoff comes across as
an intelligent, articulate and funny guy, did you see this side of his
personality surface much when you were in Back Street Crawler?

RABBIT – HIS DAD WAS AN ACTOR, AND WHEN YOU REALLY NEW KOSS WELL,
YOU COULD TELL THAT HE HAD ALL THE MAKINGS OF AN INTELLIGENT
PERSON. NOT BRASH, BUT RESERVED, QUIET, AND CONFIDENT IN HIS
MIND. BUT WHEN THE DRUGS TOOK HOLD, HE WAS OBVIOUSLY NOT HIMSELF,
AND HIS INTELLIGENCE WAS DULLED BY THE DRUGS. YOU COULD TELL
WHEN KOSS WAS “NOT AT HOME”.

ANGUS….Is there a particular song where the interplay between the two of you is
displayed best, a personal favourite?

RABBIT- YEP, MY FAVORITE TRACK I EVER GOT TO PLAY WITH KOSS
IS “COLOURS”…..ABSOULTELY BRILLIANT RECORDING THAT TRACK
TOGETHER AT THE SAME TIME, ABSOLUTELY STUNNING MAGIC.

ANGUS…….Are there any technical musical things Kossoff did (I’ve heard people talk
about his chord inversions for example) that you can throw any light on?

RABBIT -KOSSOFF IS THE GUY THAT TAUGHT ME HOW TO BECOME
A GUITARISTS ‘KEYBOARDIST’ OF CHOICE.
PAUL NEVER USED THE 3rd IN A TRIAD. JUST THE ROOT NOTE, THE 5th NOTE, AND THE OCTAVE
OF THE ROOT NOTE. EXAMPLE, SAY WE’RE IN THE KEY OF D.
KOSS WOULD PHRASE HIS CHORDAL INVERSION USING D(root note), A(5th note),
and D(octave above the root note). WHEN I FINALLY FIGURED OUT THAT’S WHAT HE WAS DOING,
I GRADUALLY ADJUSTED MY PLAYING STYLE ON THE KEYBOARDS TO HIS TYPE OF INVERSIONS.
LEAVING OUT THE 3rd OF THE TRIAD GIVES YOU AN “OPEN” TUNING, WHICH OPENS
UP ALL THE HARMONICS BETWEEN THE ROOT AND 5th, THUS ENABLING GUITARISTS TO
PLAY WHATEVER NOTES THEY WANT IN BETWEEN THOSE 2 NOTES WITHOUT
ANY CLASHING GOING ON BETWEEN A 3RD ON KEYBOARDS, OR ANY INSTRUMENT
THAT IS USING THE 3rd NOTE.

IF YOU INCLUDE THE 3rd IN YOUR KEYBOARD PLAYING, THEN YOU ARE USING WHAT IS CALLED,
A “CLOSED” CHORDAL INVERSION, WHICH IS WHAT CAUSES THE CLASHES.

THIS CHORD INVERSION IS MAINLY AN ENGLISH THING, AND AMERICAN GUITARISTS
DON’T USE IT VERY OFTEN, HENCE THEIR MUSIC IS FULL FROM THE BOTTOM, MIDDLE,
AND HIGHER RANGES OF THE HARMONIC SPECTRUM.

THE ENGLISH LIKE THAT ‘OPEN’ SPACE SO IT IS EASIER TO BE MORE EXPRESSIVE
WITH YOUR GUITAR PLAYING.

AS IT HAPPENS, THANKS TO KOSS, MY ADJUSTMENT TO PLAYING THE ‘ENGLISH’ WAY IS
EXACTLY WHAT LANDED ME WITH THE ‘WHO’ GIG. PETE LOVES IT THAT I ACTUALLY
KNOW HOW ENGLISH GUITARISTS WORK, AND WHEN I AUDITIONED FOR THE WHO,
THAT KNOWLEDGE & MY ‘JAMMING’ PEDIGREE IS WHAT GOT ME THE JOB.

THANK YOU KOSS………..

ANGUS…… Regarding his playing is there a lesson or some wisdom aspiring players
can take from his approach, do you think?

RABBIT -READ THE ABOVE, AND BE SIMPLE, TASTEFUL, AND SOULFUL.

ANGUS……What are your happiest memories from your time with Koss?

RABBIT – WORKING WITH KOSS IN THE STUDIO ON KKTR, NO DOUBT ABOUT IT.

ANGUS…..Okay Rabbit, those are all my questions – thanks for your patience and time.
And again, thank you so much for the wonderful music.

© John Rabbit Bundrick 2018 all rights reserved.

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