Once again we have to add another Joe a little earlier than we planned – Andrew Gold died this past week.
Gold had a few big hits as a solo artist but he still is a true Joe. His work as a studio musician in Southern California during the 70s helped define a whole sound. He played multiple instruments (piano, guitar, etc.) on Linda Ronstadt’s breakout album, Heart Like A Wheel, and her subsequent hit records. Check him out on guitar and backing vocals here on Linda’s cover of the Everly Brothers classic:
Gold went on to record with Maria Muldaur, Carly Simon, Karla Bonoff, Art Garfunkel, Leo Sayer, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Jennifer Warnes, Nicolette Larson and many others. But despite all this great work, Andrew Gold will probably be best remembered for the use of his song “Thank You For Being A Friend” as the theme song for Golden Girls.
Here at Rock and Roll Joe we will remember all the good stuff.
Nicky Hopkins was certainly a session man, playing piano and keyboards on some of the best tracks and albums of the 60s and 70s. In part due to health problems, Hopkins never joined a band (some say he turned down the opportunity to join Led Zeppelin when they first formed) but you have definitely heard his music. Ray Davies wrote the song “Session Man” for Hopkins and you can find it on one of the Kinks best records.
Nicky Hopkins can be heard on the single version of “Revolution” by the Beatles, great albums by the Who (My Generation, Who’s Next), as well as many tracks with Jeff Beck, Steve Miller and the Move. This is a good list of the many songs that you can hear that feature Hopkins’ outstanding playing.
But Hopkins is rightly best known for his work with the Rolling Stones. He played on some of their best tracks during their best period. Here is one of his first appearances on a Stones record:
You can also hear Hopkins on one of rock’s best ever songs:
And Hopkins is all over the seminal Exile on Main Street album (Ian Stewart also plays keyboards on several Exile tracks but he is a Joe for another day) and his great playing is prominent here:
A book about Nicky Hopkins (who died in 1994) was recently released in the United States and is recommended.
by Bryan Owings
Richard Bell first came to my attention in 1970 when I heard Janis Joplin singing”Me and Bobby McGee”. The record was released not long after she passed away and I really liked the sound of her singing and I loved the band that was playing and especially the piano player.
Forward to 1984, and I was playing on what some people might call the chitlin circuit in Alabama, Georgia and my home state of Mississippi. I became friends with some musicians in a band called “The Convertibles” based in Atlanta. I noticed on an equipment case the name Valerie Carter who was, and still is, one of my favorite singers and I asked who the case belonged to. The keyboard player said it was his and he had been her band leader. His name was Richard Bell.
Then I heard Richard play and I knew right away I was in the presence of someone very special. We hit it off right away and not long after that first meeting I was at a party at the place Richard was living with some other musicians and I saw a gold record for the album “Pearl” by Janis Joplin. I asked him where he got it and he said he’d played on it. I found out right away that this guy was not only a “sho nuff” bad ass musician but he was also very humble. We became great friends and played a lot together.
A couple of years later I moved to Nashville and tried to get him to do the same thing but I think he’d been wandering a long time and wanted to get back to his hometown of Toronto. We stayed in touch and over the years we still did quite a few sessions and gigs together thanks to our dear friend, the great guitarist, writer, producer Colin Linden. I found out over all those years what an important part Richard played in lots of musical situations that he never really talked about. He played with people like The Band, Ronnie Hawkins, Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Cockburn and tons of other folks. he always made everyone feel important. He didn’t care if you were famous or just getting started in the business. He was the best musician I’ve ever known and also one of my dearest friends.
Richard got sick about a couple of years ago and passed away June 15,2007. After he passed, Colin and I were talking and Colin put together a list of the records Richard had played on that he knew about. It looks like it’s over 400 albums. He was an influence not only as a musician but as a person too. It just doesn’t get any better than Richard Bell. He was a real Rock n Roll Joe.
By Chip Taylor
Paul Griffin – session piano player in New York in the ‘60s
I was a huge fan of the soulful blues/ country playing of Nashville’s Floyd Cramer. When I was first getting my songs published in the early 60s, I searched for somebody in New York who could play from the heart like that to play on my demos. Paul was a huge find for me. He had that same sweet touch as Floyd and could play warm R&B sounds with the best of them.
Although we only saw each other at sessions, I considered Paul a true friend. His wife at the time, Valerie (Simpson), sang background vocals on many of my productions. She later became half of the pop/R&B duo Ashford & Simpson. It was a sad day for me when I found out that Paul & Valerie were divorcing (she would marry Nick Ashford).
Another not well known fact – told to me by Rock & Roll Joe, John Platania – Don McLean tried many times to record “American Pie”. He never hooked it until he hired Paul Griffin. For me, the magic of that track is all about PAUL GRIFFIN’S PIANO PLAYING! It’s time this guy got some of the credit he deserves.
At the age of 62, Paul Griffin died of a heart attack at his New York home on June 26, 2000