Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hats off to Larry

You can now buy Beatles music at the iTunes store. I got on my computer to see if there were any Beatles tunes I couldn't live without and... not so much. I have the song Slow Down stuck in my head, but I already have the Lovable Liverpool Lads performing this live from the Beatles at the BBC CD I bought many years ago.

Like many early Beatles tunes, this was a cover and a semi-obscure one at that. Johnny, musical pioneer and devil that he was, got a serious hankering for the music of Larry Williams, an artist who was signed to Specialty Records in New Orleans when their big star Little Richard gave up the devil's music to preach the Word of the Lord.

Larry never became the star Little Richard was, but he wrote a hell of a lot of good music that other artists covered, including Dizzy Miss Lizzyand Bad Boy, also covered the Beatles, Bony Maronie, recorded by The Who, Dr. Feelgood and Johnny Winter, and She Said Yeah, recorded by the Rolling Stones.

Larry lived a short and turbulent life, plagued by drugs and violence. Wikipedia calls him a life long friend of Little Richard, but it also says he pulled a gun on the Reverend Penniman over a debt involving narcotics. After he died in 1980 at the age of 44, a drummer from southern Illinois named Martin Albritton started billing himself as Larry Williams and touring under his name. He has been confronted by several people who knew the real Larry Williams, including Etta James, and Williams' family has a court order demanding he cease and desist. So far, all this pressure has come to naught.

Without further ado, here is The Man Himself with the original recording of Slow Down by Larry Williams and his band from 1958.

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