Bobby Whitlock YouTube video interviews


Are you familiar with Bobby Whitlock? He came out of the late-60’s Tulsa music scene (a very fertile breeding ground of musical talent), playing keyboards (organ, mostly) with Delaney & Bonnie, Don Nix, Sam & Dave, Booker T & The MG’s, and others. George Harrison then brought Bobby and some other Southern musicians over to England to play on his All Thinks Must Pass album. There Bobby reunited with Eric Clapton, as did drummer Jim Gordon and bassist Carl Radle. After hearing Music From Big Pink and realizing he didn’t want to do Cream anymore, Eric had gone out on the road as a hired gun in the Delaney & Bonnie band, whose members included Bobby, Jim, and Carl. After Harrison’s album was in the can, Eric, Bobby, Jim, and Carl formed Derek & The Dominos, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Bobby and his wife (and musical partner) Coco Turner have a YouTube video "channel", on which they post videos of Coco asking questions and Bobby answering them. They are fascinating! Lots of insights into musicians, their lives and careers, may be gleaned by watching them, so consider giving them a try.

Some of you may be familiar with my attempts here to enlighten ya’ll to the concept of ensemble playing: musicians playing in service to the song, the singer, or both, not to mention the greater good---the collective whole of the Band/Group---rather than for self-glorification. It is my opinion (and not mine alone) that the "best" musicians play in such a manner. Here is Bobby in one of the videos, speaking of the relative failure of the Derek & The Dominos album at the time of it’s release:

"Nobody wanted to hear it. They wanted to hear Cream and stuff like that. They weren’t interested in real songs and real singing."

Many still aren’t.

Speaking of JIm Gordon: When I recorded with Emitt Rhodes (he was engineering and producing a solo act), he told me Jim Gordon was the best drummer he ever worked with. I didn’t take offense (Jim is a favorite of mine as well), he praised my playing at the same time ;-) . By the way, Emitt played drums in his first band---The Palace Guard, turning pro while still in High School, switching to guitar for his second, The Merry-Go-Round (have you heard their great Pop song, "Live"?). He plays them on his great s/t debut album on Dunhill Records. Better than McCartney’s debut!

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bdp24 thanks. I really enjoy your perspective and what you bring regarding good musicians. In about 1960 my grandfather got me a hand held transistor radio. Man I wore that out, had my 1 ear plug. Well at that early age I got tired of pop music, or music that was played all the time. Catchy stuff let me wanting.  So started listening to what was called alternative music, much better music to my ears. Still enjoy a lot of it today.  The test of time.  Shortly then about mid teens I had friends and their parents who played in their living rooms. I come to really appreciate the skill of a musician in trying to convey something valuable. And in that setting when they all supported one another there was some sublime stuff going on. 

@roxy54: Yes, that is exactly what Whitlock is saying. Eric Clapton, upon hearing Music From Big Pink, came to the same conclusion. That’s why he disbanded Cream and traveled to the Big Pink house in West Saugerties, New York, intending to ask to join The Band.

Clapton has numerous times talked about the effect hearing MFBP had on him---including in the speech he gave while inducting The Band into The Rock ’n’ Roll Hall Of Fame. Here’s a quote from Eric in the Martin Scorsese documentary the director and Band fan made on them:


"I listened to this album, and I thought ’This is it; this is where music has supposed to have gone for a long time and it hasn’t really got there. And now it finally.....someone’s finally gone and done it."

"There was no con, there was no bullsh*t. It was absolutely legitimate songwriting, without any kind of frills, and just performance with the best that they had to give."


Regarding Jim Gordon: there are different schools of musicianship, Gordon being of a specific one. It appears you don’t "get" that school (no offense intended ;-), or prefer a different one, which is your right. But let me tell you, amongst songwriters and singers (and Pro drummers), Gordon is considered as good as they get. That’s why George Harrison hired him to record his post-Beatles debut album All Things Must Pass. George had his choice of every drummer on Earth, and he chose Jim. You must be thinking "Why would George choose Jim Gordon?" Does George "know" something you don’t? Or is it simply a matter of taste?

When I recorded with Emitt Rhodes (if you aren’t familiar with him, get with it!), he told me Jim was the best drummer he ever worked with. If you don’t understand why Emitt and George would feel that way, I don’t think I can explain it to you. I will say this: when I don’t understand something (like when I myself first heard Music From Big Pink), I assume it is a personal failing, and work to understand what it is that others seem to know that I don’t.

It didn’t happen until a year after MFBP came out, but while watching and listening to Dewey Martin (Buffalo Springfield drummer) performing live I had the great epiphany: the school of musicianship that makes musical, ensemble playing the metric by which a musician is judged. As Miles Davis said: "The notes you DON’T play are as important as those you do." Musical wisdom!

bdp24, I'm not attacking the point you're making, I understand and enjoy ensemble playing, but maybe you can explain this to me.  Why is Cream considered self indulgent blather while Charlie Parker and John Coltrane are considered brilliant musicians?
bdp24,
I have no misunderstanding of Jim Gordon's style. I have been studying drummers for 50 years and am a rank amateur myself. I "get" him, but find him ordinary. It is, as you said a matter of taste. So for that matter is The Band. I am very familiar with Music From Big Pink, and it has never touched me. I don't even own it. 
On the other hand, I still listen to, and am moved by Cream's works, especially Disraeli Gears and Wheels of Fire. Jack Bruce was an amazing musician, and he brought out the best in Eric I believe. It was an interesting time, and they were at an age when artists often do their most daring work.
I don't need to learn anything else about The Band. I have given them a fair audition, and as a matter of personal orientation, they just don't do anything for me, even though I respect their work.

I watched a few more of the videos tonight, and one of them contained this quote from Bobby about Jim Gordon:

"What a great, great drummer. A magnificent drummer. At one time we (Delaney & Bonnie, with whom Bobby first worked with as a trio) had a pretty serious band, and Jim Gordon was the engine that drove that whole thing."

Yes, Jim plays "like" a studio drummer. In fact, JUST like a studio drummer, for the studio is where he did most of his playing. Another studio drummer beloved in the same way as Gordon is Roger Hawkins, also a Southern boy (Alabama). Hawkins was the house drummer at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, and is heard on Aretha’s Atlantic recordings, and on Boz Scaggs’ debut (along with Duane Allman). Jim Keltner (Dylan, Lennon, Ry Cooder, Bill Frisell, Randy Newman) said in a Modern Drummer interview that he wished he played more like Hawkins. Easier said than done ;-) .

Jim Capaldi, himself a wonderful drummer, loved both Gordon and Hawkins, and at one point hired both to play in Traffic---at the same time! Now THERE’S a band I would like to have seen and heard live!!

The Rock drummers I have seen and heard live include a lot apparently preferred by most here to Gordon and Hawkins (and perhaps Keltner), including Keith Moon, Ginger Baker, and Mitch Mitchell. But the "best"---and by a country mile---was Earl Palmer, the inventor of Rock ’n’ Roll drumming. Listen to his playing on Little Richard’s "Keep A Knockin" to learn from where Bonham "borrowed" his intro to Zeppelin’s "Rock And Roll".

Throughout the 1990’s Earl’s Jazz trio played at Chadneys, a restaurant in Burbank (directly across the street from the NBC studio in which The Tonight Show is filmed) two blocks from my then house. I and numerous other drummers sat at the bar and listened to him play, some traveling from far-off lands. He played like no one else, impossible to duplicate. Bonham tried, but failed. Earl played slightly ahead of the pocket ("leading the charge", as they say), Bonham way behind. Sluggish, like Charlie Watts, though not as severely.