Here's the whole story, from the beginning...
Click here to skip down to the latest installment
Here's the whole story, from the beginning...
Click here to skip down to the latest installment
It was 40 years ago today....Jim Manolides, Andy Parypa, George Rudiger, Bob Hosko and Ned Neltner gathered in Ned's basement. They had all been in local name bands and were wanting to put something together to be a VERY Part Time thing. Just play a few of the tunes we loved. It got out of hand quickly.
Andy left early on and was replaced by the bassist for the Fabulous Wailers, Buck Ormsby. This unit got the Jr. Cadillac ball rolling. After seasoning the band in such remote locations as Bremerton and Rainier, we put together a 'showcase' at the Wintonia Tavern. From that came our regular gig at The Grapevine Tavern in Pioneer Square and, really, the beginnings of live rock 'n roll, country and R&B in the bars of the Northwest.
The first LP, "Jr. Cadillac Is Back" was recorded live at the Grapevine in the summer of '71 with Rube Tubin guesting on guitar. The LP was the template for the music to come from the band; originals, R&B classics, the odd country influence and lots of hot rock 'n roll.
There have been the sorts of mutations that any living thing goes through in that long a period of time, and as the time goes on this year, we will give you insights into those changes and happenings here at JrCadillac.com.....stay tuned. We will also welcome your stories, memories and factoids.
When the band hit Seattle one of those strange and (for us) wonderful things happened…we got popular. Our 'residency' at The Grapevine Tavern, under the Viaduct at the foot of Main St., Pioneer Square, Seattle. WA, drew the great and the near great 4 nights a week for months.
Suddenly other bands and taverns were seeing the success of this venture and a whole scene was spawned. Very quickly bars like the G Note, The Buffalo, The Lynnwood and in outlying areas, Goldies in Marysville, that one I can't remember the name ask George in Kent and like that were featuring local bands 5-7 nights per week. People were going out and paying 3 cover charges a nite 3-4 nights a week and packing the places. Sweat, loud music, all sorts of juices and substances flowing...that's what it was. And Jr. Cadillac was at the fulcrum, the pivot point of all this activity.
We were putting LPs out, selling 4 or 5 different kinds of T shirts in 6 colors...ladies cotton briefs, "Keep Your Nose Clean" hankies and on and on.
There weren't enough nights in the week, the month to cover all the places, parties, conventions, dances, concerts who wanted us to play. There was a time when we opened for just about every big show that went through the Northwest. The Kinks, The Beach Boys, ELO, Ten Years After, Yes, Jethro Tull, and on and on...We backed Chuck Berry over a dozen times, wrote songs ONSTAGE with Bo Diddley and, in general spread the Jr. Cadillac gospel of Good Time, Good Music Rock 'n Roll far and wide.
Part 3… New Installment 30 May!…
After our sit down at the Grapevine for several months, we were asked by Jim Napolitano and Ed Wilson to come play at their place in Interbay called, The Brotherhood. A two story, clapboard affair that was once an Odd Fellows Hall. Downstairs was a pizza parlor and up was the stage, bar and a dancing area which doubled as a basketball gymnasium. The stage was good sized and had a large backstage area. Just right for those between set safety meetings...
The owners, two enterprising lads, hit on the idea of a customer paying a cover charge which would include ALL the beer that person could drink! How they got around Washington's strict drinking laws, I'll never know, but they charged $2.50 for your insies AND all the beer. Throw in Jr. Cadillac's manic renditions of rock 'n roll favorites, and all the pieces were there for mayhem. Of a peaceful sort.
The crowd would arrive and literally be lined up down the street for a block!! We did this pretty much four nights per week for several months, maybe even a year or so. We recorded our second LP, "Volume 2" at the Brotherhood. There were nights when the floor of the place, after the show, looked like it was about 2 inches deep in mud. So much beer!!! So many people.
Fueled by the fruit of the hop and the all 'round frivolity, a few of the young ladies thought it would be a good idea to get up onstage and take their clothes off. We discouraged this activity in the guys, but certainly promoted it with the ladies. It got to be part of the weekly action on "Thirsty Thursdays". After this amateur stripping had been going on for a few weeks and the word spread, some professional hoochie coochie dancers from downtown Seattle's Palace Theatre came to "protest" the amateurs. They came and fashioned costumes from such things as aluminum foil and whatnot and came and paraded their wares in a more "professional" manner. Just way too much fun.
The music, oh, it was great, too. Jr. Cadillac was gaining momentum and a reputation that would follow us to this day of being THE party band. Good Time Rock ‘N Roll became our thing,...."Nothin' could be lackin' when you're out there Cadillacin’ " was the motto.
Part 4, added June 13…
The lineup of Jimmy on Wurlitzer piano and vocals, George on drums, Bob Hosko on tenor sax, Buck on bass and Ned, guitar and vocals, and often sitting in, Rube Tubin on VERY Northwest guitar would go on for most of 4 years. Getting more popular and spreading the gospel further was not especially to the liking of a couple of the lads. First Bobby bowed out and Ned’s old pal from Spokane, Les Clinkingbeard was a natural to fill that chair. All it took was a phone call from Ned and a one way plane ticket and Les was in the band the following weekend. Shortly thereafter Jimmy found that he'd had enough also. Now we're down to a 4 piece and went like that for awhile. Meantime we had picked up a new roadie, Tommy Katica. An on fire young man from Queen Anne. Les and he were living in the same house and Les showed Tommy some things on piano…slowly Tommy was included on more and more songs until, one night, he was just onstage for the whole show.
his was a change that would benefit the band a great deal in terms of growing our popularity. Tommy was a cutie pie and ALL the girls liked him a lot. He could also play, sing and was a natural showman. This band recorded what is regarded by some Northwest music fans as a classic LP, "Hamburgers to Go". Recorded at Rain Studio over a period of months in 1974 and released on our own, Great Northwest Records label, this record gave the band a legitimacy and a lot of confidence.
With the inestimable help of publicist, PR person unexcelled, Rhoda Mueller Jr. Cadillac was suddenly everywhere. One of the only bands to break out of the strictly ‘granola circuit’ clubs, which we dearly loved, and into the ‘bigger’ rooms, Pier 70, the Ad Lib in Kent, and on and on…meanwhile establishing a near residency at the Rainbow in the U District.
Part 5, added July 14…
We had the pleasure/pain of backing Chuck Berry many times in many locations. We played with the true King Of Rock n' Roll everywhere from Seattle, Portland, Salem, Boise, Anchorage, Fairbanks and back again. Always an interesting story surrounding any one of the shows with Chuck.
He had to have, and it was in his contract: Two Fender Dual Showman amp tops, with Two Single Showman speaker enclosures...not easy to find even then. And if you, the promoter, did NOT have this exact setup, he would hold up the show and hold YOU up for an extra $1,500 or so. Then, Chuck would come up on stage, while we were in the middle of a song, plug in 'dime' the amps and begin tuning up at full volume…
Once at the fabulous arena at Boise State College I was summoned to his dressing room. Chuck wanted to tell me that when he went 'like this' with his leg that meant we were to stop the song and then follow with a big chord. OK. I knew this having played behind him maybe 11, 12 times by then...He, of course, did NOT remember this white boy at all.
I told him that we had this new fangled machine with which I could TUNE his guitar and he wouldn't have to do that thing onstage this particular evening. He was up for that and trailed behind to our dressing room. I struggled with the old strings he had on that lovely bright red Gibson 335, but got the guitar in tune. We are all standing in the cement hallway just offstage waiting to be announced when the guitar…falls from his neck and hits the cement floor...flying way out of tune...so, same old...dime the amps and tune up at full volume, WHILE we're playing a song.
He went on to dazzle us and a capacity crowd, and invited 2 couples from the audience up to dance...this turned into about 40 people onstage cavorting. So many Chuck berry adventures.
Part 6, added Sept 1…
Here's info on some of our recordings over the years. As reported here, the first two Jr. Cadillac LP’s were recorded live. The first,"Jr. Cadillac Is Back" was recorded in a mobile truck outside the Grapevine, under the Viaduct downtown Seattle. The second album, "Volume 2" was recorded live at the infamous, Brotherhood Tav on 15th in Seattle. For our third album, Jimmy and Bob had left the band and we moved into Rain Studio downtown Seattle. The appropriately named, Tim Rock was the engineer on the project. At that time the band was only the four: Ned on guitar and vocals, Buck on bass and vocals, Les on sax and vocals and George on drums. Tommy was a part time piano man, but we brought Easy Eddie King in for his boogie woogie expertise on a couple songs, Barry Curtis and Steve Friedsen for their ‘rockability’. And once again, Rube Tubin was tapped to play some screaming NW guitar. That album, titled, "Hamburgers To Go" was released on our own, Great Northwest Records, to very little hoopla in 1975.
The next release was "This Time". We always wanted to push whatever frontiers we were up against and figured, ‘this time’ we'd get out there a bit. And we did. This album was begun at Rain, but when engineer, Tim Rock, went to The Music Farm, we followed. This was a much larger, more state of the art, 24 track facility. We could fill up LOTS more tracks. By now Tommy "Cadillac" Katica was fully onboard and contributing mightily. He plays keys all the way through this release, sang harmony parts and contributed the wonderful, "Get Lost Baby" as a writer.
Les and Ned became solidified as "The West Seattle Horns". On "Keep Your Nose Clean", a song written by Buck and Ned, Les is the lead vocal and the horns are featured in a dixieland jazz/rock ’n roll arrangement. The disc also included a ‘disco’ song we got from Rita Jean Bodine called, "That’s The Kinda Love I’ve Got For You", and sent the band down yet another creative path. We have been falsely labeled an oldies act for years, yet all of our recordings would indicate otherwise. The band has always resisted the barriers.
Part 7… New Installment 20 October! The saga continues…
Somewhere along the way the long time lineup of: Ned, guitar/vox, George, drums, Buck, bass, Les, sax and Tommy, piano/vox began to change. Tommy followed his love, Janna Banana to Maui. Big loss, we felt. We went looking for a keyboard player. Who could ′understand′ what Jr. Cadillac was all about as we saw it? Heard about this guy playing with the "Magnetics" at the Rainbow, one night. We happened to be playing around the corner at some short lived, thank you Lord, basement joint on The Ave.
We went to the Rainbow on break to check out "The Magnetics". They were this very cool medley of rockabilly, psychobilly, New Orleans, rhythm ′ blues, country… Kinda the way we saw ourselves through a slightly different lens. Playing with The Magnetics on piano and Hammond was Steve Flynn.
Here was this knocked out gorgeous dude on piano justa’ radiatin’ the eighty eights! Our eyes got big and bright... inside of the first 8 bars of the first solo we heard him take, we looked at each other and wordlessly said, "Yeah."…
We had never been in the position of "stealing" another band's musician...or trying to. We offered Steve the chair, and after a modest amount of time and a couple sessions, he joined up.... Coolest guy ever and has become a mainstay songwriter, vocalist and superb practitioner of boogie woogie, New Orleans, ala Dr. John and NW heavy keyboard, all the while showing his cool and individual style in all things.
So with Steve Flynn securely onboard the Jr. Cadillac ship of rock 'n roll set forth confidently and merrily once again. We kept adding new original material to our set lists. Not following trends, but staying sorta modern, with our twist to it. It was not to long afterward that our great friend and long time bassist, Buck Ormsby split the sheets. It had been a very good run, and we'll always miss him. So, casting about for a fresh face on the bass, we encounter one, Garey Shelton. Garey was a vet of the 'new wave' generation of Seattle bands; The Moberlys, The Heaters, The Cowboys and The Allies, from whence came our new, wonderful, influential, and right out there bass player.
Around the same time our crew changed. (A whole section on crew some time)... The Real Don King took over the mixing chores and lead roadie gig. Another in a history of bass playing soundmen....weird.... We met Garey Shelton for lunch at a Mexican joint on 15th and offered him the gig. He signed on, but warned us that he would, "only usually last a year with any band". We were so sure that he would change his mind once he became a Cadillac. His influence was wide and weird. We actually began playing ARRANGEMENTS instead of just jamming a whole lot of songs. On and on. He appears as the bass player on a Cassette Only release called, "All Night Long". An album produced by Steve and engineered by Don King. A lot of fun, crazed sessions at Sea-West Studio on 85th produced another chapter in our recorded history. "Fast Eddie's" and Steve's other compositions along with songs by Ned and Buck, obscure oldies like, "Rocky Road Blues" and "Think It Over" added to the musical expansion that has been the band's story.
We were playing 5 nights per week at least and sometimes 25 days a month. Mostly 1 or 2 nighters. Lots of it on the road; Seattle to Montana to Alaska to California, Oregon, Idaho and points between. Life out of a rented Lincoln Town Car. Wouldn't have missed it for the world....sure wouldn't do it again. To be honest, candid and not belabor the point, we were not the baddest of them out there, but we'd give whomever a run for their dope and alcohol fueled money. Those days were to end...peter out, whatever. One night before our 15th or 16th Birthday party to be held at the Backstage Bar in Ballard, WA, almost to the day one year, since he had joined, Garey called and emotionally exhausted, left the band. A call to Don King consisted of this, "Don, you're on bass tonight."...NO problem and Don's been the rock on the bottom since then.
Part 9… New Installment 18 May 2011! The saga continues…
Along with Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley was another "Father Figure" of this music whom we had the fortune and the joy to back a couple times. The first was at Euphoria in the warehouse section on the E. Side of the River in Portland, Or. All they did was put in a bar and a stage and open this warehouse as a club. Big enough to host the mid level touring artists of the time; Geoff Muldaur, Cadillac Jr. (that's right, a theatrical outfit from England), that little guy used to sit in a chair and sing rag time songs REALLY softly , AND, Bo Diddley.
So this particular night as the people began to come in, I went to Bo and asked what we would be playing that night? No rehearsal, of course. He says, "Well, we gonna play some old stuff and some new stuff and some other stuff". OK. Meanwhile, I hear this 'click, click'...I look down and he has a counter and he's counting the heads as they come in....He's on a percentage! I say, "So, Bo, is that a new percussion instrument?"..."No", he says, dead serious, "the motha' fuckers will fuck you every mutha' fuckin' TIME!"
Then, onstage, he sets up the patented "Bo Diddley Beat" and away we go. Great music, too.
A few years later, at the Backstage Club in Ballard, we're backing him again. Packed house of Cadillac/Diddley fans. Once again, he sets up the beat....you know it (he shoulda' been paid every time some band played it)....after a couple minutes he comes back to me, Ned, and says, "What's the first line?"....I say, "Bo Diddley's playin' at the Backstage Bar" Bo walks up to the mic and delivers the line...the place goes crazy. People are fist pumping and screaming affirmation...Bo comes back to me and says..."What's the next line?"
Later than night as we were getting paid the sound man, Donnie then, played the tape of the show. Bo ran out and ripped it outta the player and stomped that sucker flat. "What Ever Happened To Bo Diddley's Money?" (Mike Henderson and the Bluebloods)
More of "As The Stomach Churns"....maybe even stories about our girlfriends.....nah....
Part 10, added October 2011...
SUMMER Of TIPTOEING AT THE ABYSS.
As far back as mid May, my (Ned's) voice was totally shot. A long and horrible bout of croup had ravaged my cords and I couldn't sing a lick. Scared? Yeah! As Jr. Cadillac's pretty darn busy summer approached I considered canceling gigs one week at a time. At a point, just said, "screw it...do it." So we did. Sorta.
At a July 5 rehearsal with the Triple Door coming up, Les, the tenor man's tenor man, complained of a cold. He was persuaded, by Mr. Beals, his compatriot in the flatulence section, to visit his Dr... Put him straight into NW Hospital with pneumonia. When they did blood work on him they found some big problems with his heart and circulatory system. Blockages...the usual...except our beloved Leslie needed QUAD BYPASS surgery! Oh, he'll not be playing this summer? Oh, really? Now what?
A quick call to a great tenor man we'd had sit in and cover a gig before, Steve Sarandos, proved to be the solution. Talk about a trooper...shit, a band of troopers. He got tapes and DVDs and learned enough to bring people to their feet at the Triple Door gig a very few days later. As the summer went on Steve improved and learned the arrangements, like the pro he is. Like he said, "By the end of the season, I'll know the parts." It may look easy...it isn't.
Oh, yeah, also at the Triple Door sound check, Steve Flynn, keyboardist, author and singer discovered HE had NO voice. He valiantly croaked his way through his selections. Oh, yeah...there's more...
Here we are in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho for a "Sea Cruise" aboard the Good Ship Mishanok. To load onto the boat one negotiated a series of ramps down to the dock. George Rudiger, drummer forever with Jr. Cadillac, and big time ladies' favorite, has the drums (borrowed from the inestimable, Doug Fish) on a rusty old cart. As he's coming around the bend the cart does some weird and snaps George's left thumb at the first knuckle. Just smashed the living shit out of it. ....he played the gig.... Ever smiling and being helped in any and every way possible by his Good Wife, Sarah Jane, George persevered, played well and probably didn't do his recovery ANY good at all! But....now he's out with 3 big gigs to go til it's over for 2011.
Enter the valiant and talented, Joe Guzman, to take the drum chair. Another real pro. He got the DVD's et. al. and lots of advice from Don King, bassist and best monitor man in the biz...who seems to have survived the summer...and Joe showed up TO PLAY! His baptism of fire with Jr. Cadillac was in front of about 1,000 people on the Green in Issaquah. We were blessed with the addition of long time, some time percussionist, Brian "Tito" Steiner, and Sax Giant, Jim "James" King. So we have TWO Kings, multiple Steves, subs on tenor and drums...etc. What a wild and wacky gig. This was another occasion where the audience just would not let us go. Encore time. Too much fun.
The remaining two gigs at Grand Coulee and Spokane's incredible food/music fair, Pig Out In The Park, went well and we got through it with more than flying colors. It was at once a harrowing, very interesting and inspirational summer for us. Our deep gratitude to Steve "Saxxy65" Sarandos and Joe "Hi, I'm from Sunnyside" Guzman.
Now....we want our band back.c
Ted and Frank Fliss, brothers, came to Jr. Cadillac through Tommy Cadillac. Fellow Queen Anners, Ted was our roadie for a good long stretch and brother Frank was listed as our "spiritual adviser" on the "Hamburgers To Go" album. They were a couple of very funny dudes and wild men in the bargain.
After Ted had roadied for us awhile he'd amassed a small fortune...as this work does pay so well. He decided he would promote one of our many "Sea Cruises". So he took all the money he had and then some and rented the Goodtime II party boat leaving out of downtown Seattle.
While Teddy got the party ready aboard, Frank and some pals were having Double Dirty Mothers at a nearby bar. Somehow he got his drink in a plastic go cup and came aboard just at sailing. Frank and I were standing at the rail up top of the Good Ship Goodtime II. He was regaling me with tales of their wild exploits when at a certain time he said, "Anybody go over the side yet?" I guess I indicated NO because he said, "Here, hold my drink"....and over the top and into the frigid Puget Sound he goes....yeah. He did.
He was sucked under the moving boat and held there for a goodly time. People are getting upset...where is he? Suddenly he emerges floundering and gasping for breath. By now the Captain has stopped the boat to pick Frank out of the water. Teddy threw him a ring and hauled him aboard the little stern area.
He was soaked and a lovely shade of blue/gray. Nearly drowned and suffering from exposure to that cold, cold water. The girls are rubbing his feet and covering him and getting him some hot drink.
The Captain found NO humor in this move of Frank's and was threatening to turn the boat around and head for shore...."No, no", sez Teddy. "I have my life savings into this cruise!!" The Captain relents but promises to abort the party if there is any more trouble of this sort. Ted ASSURES him that he'll deal with his brother, and that there'll be no repeats.
The girls had brought Frank around pretty much and when Teddy got back to him, Ted hauled him out on the stern and just kicked the living shit out of Frank. "You f.....er. You almost cost me a fortune, you asshole!" Beating him with every deprecation.
We played "Sea Cruise" and we were underway.... The party was a big success.
Part 12, added December 2015...
ROCKIN' BEHIND THE IRON CURTAIN
As I recall it, this is the jist of it...
1989. There is to be a sister city convention in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Between the USA and the Soviet Union. Seattle and Tashkent were the FIRST sister cities in the then Soviet Union. There was a meeting of the committee and those interested in going...because the idea was a cultural, business and some political exchange, came to plead our case for why we wanted to go. Peristroika and Glasnost were in effect, as far as we knew. I (Ned) went to the meeting at Steve's behest. All of us were asked why we wanted to go to the USSR. When my turn came, I said, “We want to rock 'em behind the Iron Curtain”. The place erupted. We were on. So then we had to find the money.... Getting that together was a combination of our efforts and some very generous patrons. Our ensemble was to be; Jr. Cadillac, Don King, George Rudiger, Steve Flynn, Les Clinkingbeard, our fabulous vocalist, Lily Wilde...me and our sound man, Pat and a recording engineer, Keith for both the live shows and the filmed stuff that was being covered by our film crew; Producer and all round go to gal, Lynn White and Lars Larsen on a gorgeous 16mm camera. Toss in Crow and West...Gary Crow and Steve West from KXRX, their engineer, Don and the various KBG agents assigned to each of us. Must include Larry Hart in our bunch. He signed on as a 'restaurant expert'...having designed and built all the McCormick and Schmidt joints across America. So that's our crew.
Now we have the gig and we have the money. The logistics are enormous for us. A little traveling around the PNW in a step van for the gear, and a Town Car rental. Because Steve was into it, he and I began to plot the journey. We're practicing Russian phrases on the way to gigs...and Steve and I are putting in 12 hour days setting things up over there. We're talking to barely English speaking promoters and stuff. Also...the airline We decided to take no chances. We brought our whole stage and PA gear. Paid nearly $1,000 for a step down transformer....etc.
We paid 'Priority Freight' to get the stuff there. Tons of it we took as extra baggage... in those days you could. We had the gear transport all planned perfectly. But... SAS left it all in a storeroom in Copenhagen...
We land in Moscow. THE bleakest airport ever. Dark halls... low yellow lights in what looked like tomato juice cans in the ceiling for light fixtures. Walked through a men's room door into facilities far funkier than any dive bar pisser we'd ever been in in our lives... yerks.
A Catch 22 event at the exit to the airport... with our bags and gear... then, a guy had a heart attack right in front of us... medics race up with those electric paddles, and hit him a few times... no luck. Meanwhile, watching all of this is a crowd of hundreds with their faces pasted up against this big plate glass that gave onto this view... welcome to Moscow. Meanwhile, a line of diesel buses sat idling right outside the open door blasted diesel exhaust into the baggage area, which blended nicely with a thick cloud of Russian cigarette smoke that smelled like dirty socks. Welcome to the Soviet Union! Stay stewed for more nudes.
... and there's more to come, to be sure...