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Monday, June 20, 2016
Dee Curtis Talks About Jimi Hendrix,Blues And The Players Who Followed Him To Great Success
Dee Curtis Talks About Hendrix,Blues And The Players Who Followed Him To Great Success
I'll keep this short and sweet. I've transferred the article I wrote which I did an interview with Canadian blues artist; Dee Curtis in 2003. He grew up with a lot of musicians in Detroit who played with Hendrix.
Hendrix -- The Ultimate Guitar God?
A Musicians View
By Mark Grove
As told to By Detroit Blues artist Dee Curtis
How do today's best players stand up to Hendrix? Dee Curtis is one of Canada's most knowledgeable and innovative Independent Canadian musicians playing in Southern Ontario. He has played with some of the very best including Robert Hooker (John Lee's son) Eddie Kendricks of The Temptations, and well known Avant-garde producer Bill Laswell.
Currently Dee fronts the Band "Thee Horizon" a blues and R and B trio playing here in Canada, and soon to come out with an EP of covers and originals. Dee is also a regular contributor to Canadian Guitar
Player, and he gives us his view on the best players and what players have had the most impact through the years.
MG: Do you think Guitarists such as Clapton and Richards are legitimate Bluesmen or are they just copiers after all these years?
DC: To start off, Eric Clapton is closer to the real deal as far as his interpretation of blues goes. And Keith Richards is more blues influenced and has studied and played with the masters of blues, yet
not a true authentic Bluesman like Clapton or Mayall.
MG: Why do you think young black hip-hop artists are not influenced by the guitar yet are starting to include guitar samples in their recordings?
DC: This is mainly because they enhance the sound of their beats and are a good addition to the mix without overloading the basic groove. They also seem to be digging back into artists such as Aerosmith, and sampling the guitar riff from ("Dream On") which is on a new Eminem album.
Rap and R and B as well, is capturing more of the mainstream audience because of sampling while Bass and drum sounds, are actually old. And you have to add variety to the mix.
Mark Grove - In some respect Hip-hop is innovative because of creative sampling, while guitar Bass and drum tracks are old news.
MG: Since the death of Hendrix why haven't black rock bands made the cross over to a white audience?
DC: That's a tough one. That's the music industry influence right there. Even though Hendrix was a serious innovator way ahead of his time, there can only be one. Parliament/Funkadelic opened for Hendrix and fit right in at that moment, and did make a slight crossover because of their funk/rock voicings. They actually came out with a metal/funk album as well.
Vernon Reid is a black guitarist who has stature among guitar players, yet will never get any acclaim from the black music fans and is an accomplished guitarist and interpreter.
Vernon will never be on a pedestal like Hendrix was and still is. There are hundred's of black guitarists in Detroit who can play the hell out of Hendrix material, yet will never be recognized as the 2nd coming. This is because it would take away the money making institution that Hendrix has become.
MG: So where is Elvis' successor?
DC: Eminem is in some strange way his successor, and an innovator for his ability to capture the hip-hop crowd. There will never be another Eminem. There needs to be more individuality in interpreting other people's material.
People like Eminem and Justin Timberlake just don't get it. So when interpreting Hendrix, do it your way, not note for note. People in the industry get writers to write for a specific crowd so it sells the most copies to the general public. A lot of pop material is sequenced, programmed and very synthetic.
Composers are using digital technology and don't even know what an "A" chord is.
That's part of the problem. Sampling is a big problem and major labels love to ram these programmed tracks down people's throats. This makes millions for the A and R people and record executives, while
the artists get virtually nothing. As well, you end up bobbing your head to a radio song you actually don't like. It's that hit making formula they want or you're dropped from the label.
MG: Are musicians influenced more by Hendrix -- than the general Public?
DC: A lot of people didn't like his material when it first came out because it was considered too far out there, and very avant-garde like. Yet at the same time were saying he was the greatest guitarist ever.
Both Musicians and the public don't understand. People go by the media and accept what Hendrix did. It stood the test of time. I'll give you an example of the Hendrix influence. When I went to my son's high
school registration there was a big picture of Hendrix in the library. This is in a Canadian high school. Yet someone like Martin-Luther King isn't recognized even though he tried to change society in a positive way. Young blacks for the most part don't care who Hendrix is, and is not part of their album collection.
MG: Is there any one guitarist who made the guitar more a part of the rock and roll sound more than even Hendrix did?
DC: Chuck Berry. A very overlooked guitar god. Once upon a time every rock and roll lick was based on Chuck Berry's interpretive electric guitar phrasing. So there's a reason why all rock and roll bands should know how to play Johnny B.Goode. You play that song and you're playing the bible of rock.
MG: Is there a player out there who has the ability to interpret covers his way, and do originals that most cannot or would not be able to do in a lifetime?
DC: It would have to be California based Tony Macalpine. He incorporates Black fusion, classical and metal into one. He's extraordinary to say the least. ( Dee plays a bit for me on his stereo and I'm blown away by just the small sampling of Tony's ability. He's a guitar player's guitarist.
He is basically a neo-classical metal guitarist above most. Tony played with Billy Sheehan on Bass. Guitarist's such as Sonny Sharrock were rivals to Hendrix.
MG: How did Sonny compare?
DC: Sonny was very close. Upon his passing he was very close technically. Santana speaks very highly of Sharrock. He is one of Santana's favourite players. I saw Sonny in concert with Bill Laswell on bass, Peter Bozman on sax, and Ronald Shannon Jackson of the Decoding Society on drums.
All of the group ( Last Exit). Last Exit was billed as Jazz meets heavy metal.
I've never heard anything like it since then. Sonny lived up to the hype and his style was free jazz, and you heard many elements of different styles. To hear him takes you on a musical journey.
His interpretive ability was light years ahead of everyone else. Guitarist's in the future. Especially the top players will be turned on to Sonny and players like Macalpine as well.
Sonny was a big force even when Hendrix was around. I can only imagine what Sonny would have done if he lived, or what Hendrix would have done as well.
A lot of work that Hendrix did was improvised. And when he did Foxy Lady, it went from 2 and a half minutes to a 10 minute version. That took off into flight and made Hendrix get more into Jazz. Forms of
blues and tinges of Metal that made most musicians salivate wanting to learn from Hendrix tracks.
MG: Do you think that ambient music being the venue of composers like Brian Eno and Bill Laswell, is creeping more into the mainstream?
DC: These individuals are the leaders in Ambient music because of their abilty to come up with sounds that are very interpretive, without doing a lot of sampling.
And that influence has to creep into ambient and techno laden music, or else the major labels will grab hold of this genre and ruin it. Electronic music has to face facts that it cannot regurgitate the same
music over and over.You want to stay as an independent artist and have more creative control. Be more creative yourself and learn from the top players, in no matter what genre of music you're in.
Dee Curtis is a Detroit based blues artist, and a consultant and contributor to Canadian Guitar Player.