Category Archives: Music et al

Canadian Bassist Brad Campbell

Canadian Bassist Brad Campbell

Canadian Bassist Brad Campell

Brad Campbell played at Woodstock as part of Janis Joplin’s Kosmic Blues Band. Of course, like all musicians, he’d had things happen before and many things following.

Canadian Bassist Brad Campbell

Last Words

Canadian Bassist Brad Campell

Though little known in the US, the first big band Brad Campbell would play with was the Canadian band, The Last Words. The original group was comprised of Graeme Box (lead guitar), Ron Guenther (drums) and Noel Campbell (piano).

According to a Barbed Wire Design article, The Last Words began in Clarkson, Ontario in 1961 as the The Beachcombers.  Began and ended after two gigs.

Then, liking Ronnie Hawkins, they became the Nighthawks.

In 1964 Noel Campbell left the band, but before leaving invited brother Brad to join. Brad played bass.

Now they were The Smamokins band, but that soon changed to The Last Words.

Canadian Bassist Brad Campbell

I Symbolize You

Their first single in 1965, The Laugh’s On Me / She’ll Know How, for RCA Canada received very little air play, but in 1966 they hit the Canadian charts with a Columbia release, I Symbolize You / It Made Me Cry.

In late 1966, they released their last charted single, Give Me Time / Drive A Mini Minor, again on Columbia.

Bill Dureen left the group in 1967 and the remaining members continued with three others until 1968. Next was joining “The Paupers” with Skip Prokop (Lighthouse).

Canadian Bassist Brad Campbell

Janis Joplin

In 1968 he went to New York.

He auditioned for Janis Joplin and she instructed her agent Albert Grossman to hire Brad.

He the Kosmic Blues band in late 1968. He’d eventually join Janis Joplin’s Full Tilt Boogie Band.

A Know Your Bass Player article wrote: To my ears, the Kozmic Blues Band and Full Tilt Boogie Band, with bassist Brad Campbell, were the perfect match to advance Janis’ groundbreaking artistry after she departed Big Brother & The Holding Company.

Throughout I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama (1969), Pearl (1971),  and tracks on the archival In Concert (1972) [Campbell} fortified Ms. Joplin’s forays into soul and rhythm and blues on such classic tracks as “Try,” “Move Over,” “Half Moon,” and “Me and Bobbie McGee” with harmonic and rhythmic passages evocative of the Motown, Stax, and Atlantic Records session masters – who, at the time, were his peers.

Canadian Bassist Brad Campbell

Post Janis

Brad returned to Canada after Janis’s death.

He’d married and begin a family.

Canadian Bassist Brad Campell

Over the past two decades he has played with several bands, one of which was Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver. Campbell played banjo and did vocals for Lawson from 1993 to 1994 and played on their album Never Walk Away.

His All Music credit list.

Brad lives in Milton, Ontario.

Canadian Bassist Brad Campbell

Bassist Larry Graham

Bassist Larry Graham

Born ‎August 14, 1946

“I’m gonna add some bottom… so that the dancers just can’t hide!”

Screen grab of Graham from a 2012 concert, Bataclan, Paris

None of us had ever done anything even close to Woodstock. Then, all of a sudden, we had the attention of the world. If you were part of that, it just turned everything around.”

So said bassist Larry Graham in a 2014 interview with George Varga in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Beaumont, Texas

Larry Graham was born August 14, 1946 in Beaumont, Texas.  From an article in The Watchtower: I was born into a musical family…, my mother’s only son. She was a pianist with the church choir, and my father was a jazz guitarist. Soon afterward my family moved to Oakland, California, where I started tap dancing at the age of five. Two years later, I learned the piano under the guidance of my grandmother, who cared for me in those early years.

From the Varga interview:  “My biggest influence was actually my mother’s left hand. Because, before I went to bass, I was playing guitar. And when she would solo, I would play bass lines on my guitar. And when I would solo, she’d play bass lines on piano with her left hand. That’s the way she played anyway, before I started playing with her.  So when I started playing with her, I was influenced by her left-hand bass lines.”

Bassist Larry Graham

Sly

Bassist Larry Graham
Graham is in the back in yellow

His breakout success was with Sly and the Family Stone (1966 – 1972).

Albums with Sly and the Family Stone

  • 1967: A Whole New Thing
  • 1968: Dance to the Music
  • 1968: Life
  • 1969: Stand!
  • 1971: There’s a Riot Goin’ On
  • 1973: Fresh
Bassist Larry Graham

Bass Technique

From that same interview: “By slapping the strings and expertly plucking and popping them with his fingers, he transformed the electric bass, making it as prominent as a guitar and dramatically increasing its rhythmic intensity. By dong so, he laid the foundation for several subsequent generations of bassists, including everyone from Stanley Clarke, Victor Wooten and San Diego’s Nathan East to Les Claypool of Primus, Level 42’s and Mr. Big’s Billy Sheehan.”

Bassist Larry Graham

Witness

In 1973, he met his future wife Tina. Tina’s mom was a Jehovah Witness and asked Tina to be present at her baptism in the Oakland Coliseum. Graham attended and says he’d never seen anything like the gathering before.

He and Tina began Bible study and visited various Jehovah Witness congregations while on tour. He and Tina were baptized at the district convention in Oakland in July 1975.

Graham would later introduce the religion to Prince. He became a Jehovah’s Witness later in life, and according to Graham, that helped shape Prince’s music as well as his lifestyle.

Graham said that Prince would knock on doors, talk with visitors at his studio-compound Paisley Park in suburban Minneapolis and even share his faith with small groups after a show,

“That brought him joy. That brought him real happiness,” Graham said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Graham Central Station

After Sly [from the QG Enterprise page]: [Graham]…went on to produce a Funk band called “Hot Chocolate”, which he eventually joined and renamed “Graham Central Station”. The original lineup included guitarist David “Dynamite” Vega, organist Robert “Butch” Sam, keyboardist Hershall “Happiness” Kennedy, vocalist/percussionist Patryce “Choc’let” Banks, and drummer Willie “Wild” Sparks. The group used the funk foundation that Graham had established with “Sly and the Family Stone” and sweetened it with various layers of soul, blues and other styles – a magical combination that scored the band a Grammy nomination in 1974 for Best New Artist. Graham Central Station released a string of seven albums throughout the 70’s. Their debut album, a self-titled effort released in 1974, proved highly successful, launching a minor pop hit with “Can You Handle It“. 

He reformed Graham Central Station in the early 1990s and performed with the band for several years. Graham and Graham Central Station performed internationally with a world tour in 2010 and the “Funk Around The World” international tour in 2011.

Graham Central Station albums

  • Graham Central Station (Warner Bros., 1974)
  • Release Yourself (Warner Bros., 1974)
  • Ain’t No ‘Bout-A-Doubt It (Warner Bros., 1975)
  • Mirror (Warner Bros., 1976)
  • Now Do U Wanta Dance (Warner Bros., 1977)
  • My Radio Sure Sounds Good to Me (Warner Bros., 1978)
  • Star Walk (Warner Bros., 1979)
  • Live in Japan (1992)
  • Live in London (1996)
  • Back by Popular Demand (1998)
  • The Best of Larry Graham and Graham Central Station, Vol. 1 (Warner Bros., 1996)
  • Raise Up (2012)
Bassist Larry Graham

Prince

In 1998, he recorded a solo album under the name Graham Central Station, GCS 2000. It was a collaboration between Larry Graham and Prince.

While Graham wrote all the songs, except one co-written by Prince, the album was co-arranged and co-produced by Prince, and most of the instruments and vocals were recorded by both Graham and Prince. Graham also played bass on tours with Prince from 1997 to 2000. He appeared in Prince’s 1998 VHS Beautiful Strange and 1999 DVD Rave Un2 the Year 2000.

When Prince died in 2016, Minnetonka, Minnesota’s Jehovah’s Witnesses Kingdom Hall held a memorial service for him – “Brother Nelson” as his fellow congregants knew him – Sunday at the church where he worshiped.

At the service, Graham spoke about Prince and their shared faith. [RS article]

Bassist Larry Graham

Credits

All Music has a very long list of his credits. Among the names (in addition to Prince, Sly, and Graham Central are:  Betty Davis (the second ex-wife of jazz legend Miles Davis), George Tyson, the Oak Ridge Boys. Aretha Franklin, Stanley Clarke, George Benson, Stanley Jordan, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Mahalia Jackson, Frankie Lanine, Eddie Murphy, Santana, Chaka Khan, Luther Allison, Government Mule, Billy Preston, Shania Twain,  Kanye West, as well as many many others.

Bassist Larry Graham

Solo

Graham recorded five solo albums and had several solo hits on the R&B charts. His biggest hit was “One in a Million You”, a crossover hit, which reached No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1980.

Solo albums [all Warner Bros. releases]

  • 1980: One in a Million You
  • 1981: Just Be My Lady
  • 1982: Sooner or Later
  • 1983: Victory
  • 1985: Fired Up
Bassist Larry Graham

Hall of Fame

A 1993 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee as a member of Sly & The Family Stone

Bassist Larry Graham

Check out this live concert. Amazing energy!

Bassist Larry Graham

NYC Cerebrum Club

NYC Cerebrum Club

NYC Cerebrum Club

NYC Cerebrum Club

Connecting the dots

I was watching a 2016 interview that Bethel Woods Center for the Arts Museum Curator Wade Lawrence had done with Dale Saltzman and Peter Brown, the two men who had helped create the Bindy Bazaar merchandise area at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair as well as other cloth banners and the yellow cloth coverings over the Food for Love booths.

During the interview, Peter Brown mentioned a New York City venue called The Cerebrum.  Brown’s memory of the club was a bit sketchy (“it was some sort of touchy-feely kind of thing in the…in the village maybe…”), but the reference piqued my interest and here we are.

NYC Cerebrum Club

Ruffin Cooper

Ruffin Cooper had helped begin the Cerebrum. PBS’s NYC channel Thirteen had this to say about Cooper: Ruffin Cooper…was a conceptual artist and photographer who came of age in the wildly exciting and tumultuous 1960s. Some unique experiences he had during his life included going to Woodstock in 1969 and living for a time at a New Mexico commune. Later he established himself as an artist in San Francisco, crossing paths with such cultural icons as Dennis Hopper, Allen Ginsburg and Andy Warhol.

It was he along with Richard Currie, Bobjack Callejo, and John Brown that came up with the club’s concept.

NYC Cerebrum Club

Others

In the book Ridiculous!: The Theatrical Life and Times of Charles Ludlam by David Kaufman, Currie explained that the premise was simply a loft party. “...we’d come in with tambourines and projection equipment and weather balloons. We’d project images, take care of the music, and give them [guests] participatory instruments to play.

A November 28, 1968 New York Times article by Dan Sullivan described it: A new club called Cerebrum shows you not only what it is, but what in five or ten years it may become: a prospect not altogether reassuring.

NYC Cerebrum Club

Mysterious entry

Cerebrum was located at 428 Broome Street. There was no Cerebrum signage. There was an illuminated bell. You pushed it. A opening in the door slid open. A voice asked your name. Did you have a reservation?

The initial entry was into the Orientation Room. You removed your shoes. you paid the fee–$2 on Tuesdays, $3 on on Wednesdays, and $4 on Thursdays.  A white-robed guide, wearing only a white robe,  handed a white robe to you. Some followed his example. Others chose not to, but all followed him into the main space.

A ramp let into an elongated all-white room and a white-carpeted runway in the center. Off of the runway were seven floating platforms. Each platform could hold about 6 people.

Each platform had its own collection of sensory items, or headsets to listen with, or tambourines to play with.

The Cerebrum opened in the fall of 1968 and closed the following spring. Here is a video posted by Bart Friedman, one of the guides, about the club. He describes it as “a nightly laboratory for mind bending excursions into film, sound, slides, mist, music, strobes and eroticism. ” 

NYC Cerebrum Club

Short-lived

Ruffin Cooper attended the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. In fact, he went on to become a member of the Hog Farm.

He became a well known San Francisco based photographer of architectural subjects printed in mammoth scale. His show, Creating an Illusion: huge, consecutive photo details compositing the face of the Statue of Liberty, printed on fabric, spanned the length of the Port Authority Bus Terminal in NYC in 1985.

Here is a video about that project.

He died in 1992.

NYC Cerebrum Club

Fillmore East

By the way, the same day that the NY Times had its article on Cerebrum, there was this advertisement next to the article:

So many choices!

NYC Cerebrum Club