Phil DeGruy, in Blues Center Interview #21, reveals some of the secrets of his brilliant, idiosyncratic guitar style. In the series finale (BCI #21 shot in January of 2020) Phil DeGruy shows off some jazzy licks on guitarp and talks Chet Atkins, Lenny Breau, Larry Carlton, Steely Dan, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, Beatles, Kinks, Eric Clapton, Hollies and more. Phil alternates a couple of originals with a Beatles medley, “Sunny Afternoon” and “Mr. Sandman.” A tour de farce with strings from the erstwhile funnyman. Host Ric Stewart rides the blues and country fences for containment!
Singer-Actor-Songwriter-Bandleader-Music Historian Billy Vera is the guest for Blues Center Interview #7. With a star on the Hollywood walk of fame right outside the Capitol Records building lauding him mid-career, he has blazed a continual path across the related fields of the entertainment business. His 2017 documentary From Harlem to Hollywood describes his early songwriting success for Ricky Nelson with “Mean Old World” which appeared on the Ozzie and Harriet Show to his #1 hits for Dolly Parton, and then for himself with “At This Moment” in 1987.
His soul duo with Judy Clay, signed to Atlantic and worked with super producer Jerry Wexler to cut wrote “Storybook Children” in 1967. The pairing created a racially integrated act at a time of great tension and rose to fame at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. Some of his other exploits, over 300 liner notes and reissue production credits. He won the Grammy for his liner notes to Singular Genius: The Complete ABC Singles of Ray Charles in 2013.
In this interview he discusses Specialty Records and its remarkable run of hits with Little Richard, Lloyd Price, Larry Williams and more. He also discusses the Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Robert Plant. A fascinating journey across the decades.
Billy discusses New Orleans recordings at Specialty Records by Art Rupe with Lloyd Price, Little Richard, Larry Williams and their effect American teens and DJ Alan Freed. John Lennon and the Beatles took note covering Larry Williams tracks “Bony Maronie,” “Dizzy Miss Lizzy,” “Slowdown” and “Bad Boy.” Billy also talks about writing songs for Rick Nelson, Dolly Parton and Robert Plant. Billy won a Grammy for one of his 300+ liner notes. He has stayed busy in Hollywood, but grew up in the soul scene of Harlem’s Apollo Theater. Find out why Jerry Wexler signs Led Zeppelin and subscribe to catch the whole series!