viernes, 11 de diciembre de 2009

Hank C Burnette (New Rockpile 8 interview, November 1st 1973)

Hank C. Burnette must rank as Sweden's most versatile recording artist - singer, musician, songwriter, producer, arranger - and his sound on sound technique is comparable to Les Paul and Dave Edmunds. Although when you take into account the fact that Hank's work is cut in his living room or make-shift garage - maybe it should be the other way round.

Ever since he cut some tracks with the Little Johnny Combo for a small Swedish label way back in 1960 Hank's material has cropped up on several labels over the years. The most important release to date being "Wildwood Flower" for the American Seagull label in Florida. It made No.7 in the Tri-State charts. It's a rocked-up version of the country music evergreen, and it's rock and roll that Hank's pretty well addicted to. He recently answered some questions about his recording activities and his love of the great fifties sounds. The following is a transcript of what he had to say.

Q...Can you recall your first interest in music?

HCB...Well, for as long as I can remember I've had a keen interest in music. This is probably a heritage from my parents. My mom used to appear at different meetings in her younger days, with another girl, singing and playing guitar. My grandpa used to build guitars and fiddles. My dad was a big Fats Domino fan. They bought me one of those toy guitars but my efforts on that box didn't sound too good, and it wasn't until I went to school that I really started to play properly.

Q...Was the guitar the first instrument you mastered?

HCB...No, not really. My first real professional instrument was a beauty - a big Magdeburger styled accordion with fancy pearly inlays and abalone buttons. I kinda dug that monstrous pump machine as the size of it made it hardly possible for people to see me when I played it - hidden as I was behind it. I used to swing into my version of the old perennial "Stovehook Waltz" in our kitchen most every Saturday night. My parents eventually bought me a more modern instrument though - a Hagström Granesso accordion, with a beautiful 'French mussette' type of tone to it. My hero then was Sweden's accordion king, Carl Jularbo. I really liked his unique and quite fantastic keyboard swooping. Later I got stucked on Swedish guitarist Sven Stiberg and his Trio, who played in a style that would be best described as an up-tempo mix of jazz and hillbilly (as it was called way back then), actually not a far cry from what Speedy West & Jimmy Bryant was doing in the States at the time. I also discovered (via a jukebox in a coffee shop in a nearby village) another Swedish musician, singer and composer by the name of Owe Thörnqvist, who performed his own very humorous and catchy songs, usually in a fairly up-tempo style reminiscent of what Lonnie Donegan and skiffle music would sound like years later.

Q,...When did you first become aware of rock 'n' roll music?

HCB...Well, I would say soon after we moved up north to a town called Umeå. I heard and dug Bill Haley like hell and played the living daylight out of his "Rock A-Beatin' Boogie" over and over again on a nearby coffee shop's jukebox. This eventually lead to the purchase of my first real guitar, a Levin acoustic and my first three chords to boot (D - G - A), which my mom taught me. I still thought Bill and The Comets were great, but when Elvis came along it kinda knocked me out of sight. I went and bought my first record for ten shillings from a classmate, and I didn't even have a record player then. The record was Elvis' "Blue Suede Shoes"/"Tutti Frutti". I used to turn the volume up as far as it would go (which wasn't much by today's standard) on the old tube driven Philips radio so that it would play as loud as possible and pick along to the records. In the beginning I used to borrow a record player and when I got my own I bought all the rock'n'roll records I could find. Elvis meant a great deal to me in those days for he was the main cause for getting me involved in rock'n'roll music and prompting me to enter into a musical career myself. Then as time went by I got to hear obscure artists like Hoyt Johnson, Mickey Hawks, Andy Starr, Sleepy LaBeef, Mac Curtis and eventually the King of 'em all (at least as far as Rockabilly is concerned), the Rockin' Guitar Man himself, Carl Perkins.

Q...Can you recall your first disc recording session - dates, line-up?

HCB...Why sure. Kind of hard to forget actually. We put down six tracks at about two in the morning of August 23rd, 1960. I had disbanded my own band, The Teddy Bears, by then and was playing lead guitar with Little Johnny & His Red Dynamites. We did Chuck Berry's "Sweet Little 16" and "Reelin' And Rockin" plus "The Saints Rock 'n' Roll", "A Mess Of Blues", "Guitar Boogie" and "I'm Feelin' Sorry". Johnny was on electric rhythm guitar and did all the vocals - he was a big fan of Chuck's and had a raw rockin' voice. The rest of the line-up was a guy named Allan on piano and another cat named Björn on drums.

We recorded the entire six tracks down at Johnny's place, on the second floor of an old two floors wooden shack just outside of town, in the middle of the night after a quite intensive two hour gig at a pretty wild teenage party. Recording equipment was a L. M. Ericsson reel-to-reel tape machine, which Johnny had borrowed from the radio store where he worked, plus a single (!) ribbon microphone that picked up both the vocals and all of the instruments! The guitar amp was a Hagström in the region of 30 watts and handled both the rhythm and lead guitars! It can't get more authentic and genuine than that, can it! To top it all I had to borrow a guitar that day, cause I was in the middle of swopping my trusty old Hagström Archtop for a solid body that week and was left with nothing to play on. And what I got/borrowed was a total disaster in itself! A battered old German made Hoyer Semi with strings so rusty (!!) that they must have been left on there prior to World War II! I thought I was gonna bleed to death the way my fingers started to ache! Anyway, a guy in Stockholm released all six tracks on a small 10" LP on his own Ewe label. No contracts were ever signed and up to this day I don't know how many copies he might have sold!

Q...How and when did your signing to Seagull Records come about?

HCB...In 1966 I sent a tape, just for kicks really, to a guy named Larry Stevens boss of the Blue Horizon label in Warrington, Florida. A week or so later back came a recording and songwriting contract, which I signed, and in February 1967 my first disc came out on the label.

Q...That was "Wildwood Flower"?

HCB...Nope, that came later. My first single for Larry was "Hank's Guitar Boogie Special" b/w "Hambone Shuffle", both selfpenned and recorded in my parents living room in 1962! My second release, "Hank's Wildwood Flower" b/w Buck Owens' "Together Again", was issued on the US Seagull label in August, 1969. Larry had dropped his Blue Horizon label because a few other companies were using a similar name and design. So he started Seagull and a subsidary, Kountry 44. I cut most of "Wildwood Flower" in 1964, but didn't add the lead guitar until '68. I was also busy at the time providing backings for several US artists including Louisiana Hayride star Don Hagen, Frank Darris (a terrific Marty Robbins impersonator from Phoenix, Arizona), steel guitarist Cal Price and up and coming songstress Gail Grimes.

Q,...You recently signed to a UK based label for the first time - can you give any details of your first release?

HOB...Sure. I have a single and an LP coming out pretty soon on Southern Sound Records. The single is "Slow Down", the old Jack Earls Sun belter, and the flip is Eddie Bond's "Here Comes That Train". The album is a 14 track affair called "Spinnin' Rock Boogie". There will be 7 vocals and 7 instrumentals on that one. "Spinnin' Rock Boogie" took me months to put together, pretty near killed me. This track is just about the weirdest thing I've ever done and is about 4 minutes long. It was in fact originally released on the US Seagull label (Larry must've been out of town when it happened, cause he really prefers the old school of strict country stuff and is a country recording artist and song writer himself). One of the vocals is "I've Got The Blues" which was penned by Hank 'Big Cat' Taylor of UK "Rock & Roll Collector" fame. Another track "Fury" goes back to early 1963 and was originally recorded by Rory Storm and his gang. I'm looking forward to its release.

NOTE; Both single and album should be available by the time New Rockpile No. 8 is issued (November 1st 1793). The single can be bought from Reddington's Rare Records, 20 Moor Street, Queensway, Birmingham, B4 7UH. The LP "Spinnin' Rock Boogie" can be ordered from Eddie Muir. Tracks are: Spinnin' Rock Boogie/I'll Be Around/Driftin'/Is It Wrong/Hands Off/Fury/Hank's Guitar Boogie Special/Pink And Black/Everybody's Movin'/Here Comes That Train (different cut to single version)/Rock Me/Ain't Got A Thing/I've Got The Blues/Rakin'n'Scrapin'.

Interview by: Eddie Muir, New Rockpile, England.

Main Hank C Burnette posts at Viva Puluba!
Our first post about my dear Hanck C Burnette

The Hank C Burnette complete and official discography:

Dont' miss Hank's YouTube channel.

This text was sent to us by Hank C Burnette. We want to thank him for his help to our effort to spread his music and his work.

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