Al Kooper: American Treasure Podcast

Over the last few years, I've gotten to know Al Kooper a little bit. He gave a song of mine ("Red Eyeliner") a nice review and one way or another we ended up speaking on the phone from time to time. A couple months ago I called him up to discuss Lynyrd Skynyrd's first album, which Al produced. I've taught the opening track "I Ain't The One" to several of my guitar students. It's a head-spinning masterpiece of guitar arrangement.  Al said, "That was all them. They were the most rehearsed band I've ever produced. Every note was worked out." We talked a bit more and then Al said, "You should come up to Boston and hang out. We'll just listen to music. I'll play you some stuff you've never heard."  That sounded like an offer I couldn't refuse. So last weekend, I hung out with Al.


Sure enough, Mr. Kooper played me some stuff I'd never heard. Lots of early R&B and Gospel that I missed as a kid infatuated with the British Invasion. He played me the demo of "This Diamond Ring", a song Al co-wrote that went to #1. "We wrote this for the Drifters. When I heard the Gary Lewis version I hated it." I like the Gary Lewis version. It's basically just a sped up version of the demo. "It's REALLY sped up," Al says. Maybe that's why I liked it. More British Invasion-y. Al just shakes his head.

I won't go into everything we talked about, because you readers have more important things to do. But I'd recommend you click on the links below. They'll get you started on an understanding how just how incredible Al's career has been--a career that began when he was 14 years old. Oh, one more thing. Buy a copy of Al's book "Backstage Passes and Backstabbing Bastards." I think it's the best rock autobiography I've ever read.

Al talks about his early days

Video of Al's career highlights  (good stuff begins at 0:25)

 
/
  1. Red Eyeliner

3 comments

  • Terry Anderson

    Terry Anderson North Carolina

    Hey Parth, does he still have that egg chair? Went to his house once and listened to music in that thing. "Can't you hear me knocking" sounded amazing!

    Hey Parth, does he still have that egg chair?
    Went to his house once and listened to
    music in that thing. "Can't you hear me knocking" sounded amazing!

  • Parthenon Huxley

    Parthenon Huxley Maryland

    Hmmm…I don't recall seeing one…but maybe…. Wow, cool: we're in the Al Kooper's House Club!

    Hmmm…I don't recall seeing one…but maybe…. Wow, cool: we're in the Al Kooper's House Club!

  • Parthenon Huxley

    Parthenon Huxley Maryland

    Tell you what, though, he did have a giant leopard print couch. Sweet! Oh, yeah, and one helluva record collection.

    Tell you what, though, he did have a giant leopard print couch. Sweet! Oh, yeah, and one helluva record collection.

Add comment