Saturday, June 23, 2018

D.J. Fontana, Nick Knox & Shows # 725, 726, 727

In June of this year we lost two drummers that both were known for their no-nonsense drumming style. These drummers were from different time periods, but they provided an important back beat for rock music.

D.J. Fontana (1931-2018):

Drummer D.J. Fontana started out as a drummer for the Louisiana Hayride radio program. He was the Saturday staff drummer for artists that appeared on the program, which featured musicians such as Hank Williams, Sonny James, Hank Snow, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley. At the time when Fontana was playing drums, drummers were often looked down upon in country music and seen as sacrilegious to the genre. He would often play behind a curtain when he did play drums with these artists and on October 16th, 1954 he played drums for the first time with Elvis Presley and The Blue Moon Boys. The Blue Moon Boys featured Bill Black on bass, Scotty Moore on lead guitar and Elvis Presley on rhythm guitar and vocals. Although he did play behind a curtain the first time he played with Elvis, it would not last long. He joined Elvis Presley in 1955 and did not have to play behind a curtain following this time.

Playing on over 460 recordings with Elvis Presley, Fontana brought a unique approach to drumming that would lay the foundation for what was to become rock and roll music. He played with an uncomplicated sense of rhythm, one that was based on feel and one that was informed by big band music. Fontana had this to say of his drumming style: “I learned the value of simplicity at the Hayride. I heard Scotty and Bill and Elvis one night and knew that I couldn’t mess up that sound. That’s why I always play what I feel. If that won’t work, I just won’t do it again. I think the simple approach comes from my hearing so much big band music. I mixed it with rockabilly.”

Fontana would play with Elvis for fourteen years, despite the fact that Elvis’ backing band broke up officially in 1958. He would record and perform with Presley and Moore on several occasions. Following 1968’s Come Back Special, Fontana became a session musician in Nashville playing on many recordings with a wide array of country and rock musicians. You can hear his simple, effective, slightly restrained, yet explosive drumming style on songs such as “Hound Dog”, “Jailhouse Rock”, “All Shook Up” and “Don’t Be Cruel” to name a few. It was this backbeat that would be revealed from behind the curtain of country music and sketch out the blueprint for what became known as rock and roll music.

Nick Knox (1953-2018):

Born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1953, Nick Knox is perhaps best known as the drummer for The Cramps. Following a brief stint with the Cleveland, Ohio band Electric Eels, he joined The Cramps following the departure of their original drummer Miriam Linna in 1977. Knox, real name Nicholas Stephanoff, played drums with The Cramps until he left the group in 1991. His drumming style brought a cohesion to the band’s sound and helped to define it. Mixing in elements, of rockabilly, garage and surf, his drumming can be heard on The Cramps first four albums (Songs The Lord Taught Us (1980), Psychedelic Jungle (1981), A Date With Elvis (1986), Stay Sick (1990)), their debut EP Gravest Hits (1979) and several live albums.

The Cramps sound is often described as psychobilly, but it is a lot of things at once. From songs on their first EP such as his driving beat which holds down the creeping guitar rhythms and Lux Interior's slithery, buzzing vocals, the sleazy grooves of “Garbageman”, “Aloha From Hell”, and “People Ain’t No Good” to name a few, Knox’s backbeat is one that brought a primitive, relentless energy to The Cramps music. On early Cramps recordings, there was no bass featured. It was just guitars, drums and vocals. This created a unique dynamic within the group. Usually dominated by a mixture of fuzz guitar and noise, the drums filled the void of the bass. The Cramps first album to feature bass was 1986’s A Date With Elvis. All of the bass on this album was played by guitarist Poison Ivy Rorschach.

Following his time with The Cramps, Knox liked to stay out of the public eye and spent time with friends and family. Most recently Knox served as a mentor for the Cleveland band Archie & The Bunkers. He was often referred to as “Grandpa Nick”. While there may be interviews with Knox somewhere, they are hard to locate online. He was a private person, but he let his drumming do the talking. If you listen to any of the recordings that he’s been on, there’s a certain feeling there. One that taps into the rebellious rock and roll spirit that goes back rock’s early, wild beginnings. His drumming style was never complicated, it was tight, to the point, no non-sense and helped The Cramps deliver their musical message in those early years of the band.

Show 727 Play List (Originally Aired On June 23rd, 2018)(The 427's, Rolling Blackouts CF, The Mummies):

1. Courtney Barnett - Walking On Eggshells
2. Father John Misty - Disappointing Diamonds are the Rarest of Them All
3. Rolling Blackouts CF - Talking Straight
4. Rolling Blackouts CF - Mainland
5. The Mummies - That's Mighty Childish
6. The Mummies - A Girl Like You
7. Shitkid - Sugar Town
8. The Electric Prunes - Long Day's Flight (Till Tomorrow)(Live Stockholm 1967)
9. Young Rival - Dead End Scene (Demo)
10. The 427's - Liberty Belle
11. The 427's - Diablo
12. The Sadies - One Million Songs
13. The Bicycles - B-B-Bicycles
14. Iceage - Pain Killer
15. James Williamson and the Pink Hearts - Judith Christ
16. Jerry Nolan - Take A Chance With Me
17. Grounders - Scum for You
18. Cardboard Brains - Out Out Out
19. Beat Happening - I Spy
20. Baby Cages - Polly
21. Neko Case - Last Lion of Albion
22. Dumb - Romeo
23. Dumb - Party Whip
24. Fugazi - Bulldog Front
25. Shame - Friction
26. The Bureaucrats - Today & Everyday
27. The Radiators - Not Too Late
28. The Flaming Lips - Everything's Explodin'
29. Guided By Voices - Gray Spat Matters
30. The Electric Eels - Cyclotron
31. Ceramic Dog - Rawhide

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for June 23.

Show 726 Play List (Originally Aired On June 16th, 2018)(D.J. Fontana & Nick Knox):

1. Elvis Presley - Shake, Rattle & Roll (Take 12)
2. Elvis Presley - All Shook Up
3. Elvis Presley - Lawdy Miss Clawdy
4. The Cramps - Heartbreak Hotel (Live in New Zealand 1986)
5. The Cramps - Blue Moon Baby
6. The Cramps - Where Is My Mind?
7. The Cramps - Human Fly
8. Paul The Tailor - Shakin' All Over
9. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Steal A Ride
10. Blacktop - From Beyond
11. Gene Gray and The Stingrays - Surfer's Mood
12. The Chevells - Riptide
13. Goldtones - Strike
14. Atomic 7 - Meet Me Tonight In The Shadow of Love
15. The 427's - Yellowbelly
16. Pow Wows - Do The Splash
17. The Ketamines - Midnight Dawn
18. The Haunted - Eight O'Clock This Morning
19. Paul Jacobs - Sharp Dress
20. The Fuzzy Undertones - Sharks
21. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - All Is Known
22. Jerry Jerry & The Sons Of Rhythm Orchestra - Downhearted
23. South River Slim - Mountain Soliloquy/Cracker Girl
24. Sandy Denny & The Strawbs - Everyone But Sam Was A Hypocrite
25. Leonard Cohen - Tonight Will Be Fine
26. Umbra & The Volcan Siege - If Not For You
27. The Soft Pack - Down On Loving
28. The Plugz - A Gain, A Loss
29. The Ripcordz - Break It Out
30. Shotgun & Jaybird - What Is This … Vegas?
31. The I Don't Cares - Whole Lotta Nothin'
32. Teenanger - Alone on Acid
33. Teenanger - Big Spirit Payback
34. X - We're Desperate

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for June 16.

Show 725 Play List (Originally Aired On June 9th, 2018)(The Cheetahs, Cherry Glazer, Peach Kelli Pop, Oblivians):

1. The Cheetahs - Undercover Girl
2. The Cheetahs - Doctor
3. The Breeders - Nervous Mary
4. Cherry Glazer - Haxell Princess
5. Cherry Glazer - White's Not My Color This Evening
6. Peach Kelli Pop - Cherry (That's Not Her Real Name)
7. Peach Kelli Pop - Crooked
8. Cold Warps - Dip Tripper
9. The Courtneys - Tour
10. Captain Beefheart - Ant Man Bee
11. Fire Engines - Lubricate Your Living Room Part II
12. The Pixies - Dancing The Manta Ray
13. Arctic Monkeys - Science Fiction
14. La Luz - Cicada
15. Os Tartaros - Tartaria Portugues
16. Wave of Terror - Instrument Of Love
17. Hot Garbage - Kimono Dragon
18. A. Savage - Eyeballs
19. Eamon McGrath - Power
20. Mac DeMarco - Treat Her Better
21. Nap Eyes - Sage
22. Colter Wall - Me and Big Dave
23. Lonesome Lefty & The Cryin' Shames - Texas Blues
24. The Tracys - People Scare Me
25. Psychic Void - Terminal Vacation
26. Chromatics - Washed Up On A Beach of Infants
27. Oblivians - Big Black Hole
28. Oblivians - I'm Not A Sicko There's A Plate In My Head
29. Oblivians - Never Change
30. Prehistoric Cave Strokers - Let's Id!
31. Ceramic Dog - Agnes
32. The Cramps - Don't Eat Stuff Off The Sidewalk

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for June 9.

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