The Red Devils take over MTV Europe in 1993

Posted in red devils with tags , , , , , , , , on September 18, 2021 by J.J.

In its 1993 year-end music video countdown, MTV celebrated classic clips from Aerosmith, Janet Jackson, Naughty By Nature, Spin Doctors and Dr. Dre (no relation).

Where would The Red Devils have ranked?

Though the band did not make any kind of official music video, that we know of, they were invited to the MTV Europe “Most Wanted” programme, hosted by Ray Cokes. In the comments, Frank Verstappe says Cokes confirmed the performance at Stonebridge Park Warehouse, London, on April 11, 1993. This would have been just days from The Red Devils’ jam with Mick Jagger in London (and note Lester Butler’s chipped front tooth, as seen on the Pinkpop video).

Continue reading

Red Devils show ’em in Missouri in 1992

Posted in red devils with tags , , , , , , on September 11, 2021 by J.J.

The Red Devils played several shows in Missouri in 1992, including two at The Regency Showcase in Springfield, Mo.

Their first date was Aug. 22, 1992, according to an “Early Warning” brief in the Aug. 13, 1992, Springfield News-Leader.

The band’s next show at the Regency would be just a month and a half later, according to the Oct. 8, 1992, News-Leader (“Red Devils unabashed about ‘raw’ blues”). This time they would get the local newspaper interview treatment (Lester Butler drew the short straw) for this Oct. 8 date on their club tour.

Continue reading

Belinda + Buster: When Bill Bateman and Go-Go’s singer were ‘first couple of Hollywood’

Posted in bill bateman with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 4, 2021 by J.J.

For a hot minute, the fertile LA punk-roots scene of the early 1980s intersected with the Teen Beat set.

That’s when Belinda Carlisle of The Go-Go’s met Bill Bateman of The Blasters.

Of course, The Go-Go’s weren’t born as MTV stars. The group started innocently enough as a punk band (on a scene boasting The Germs, Fear and, of course, X) before their hit pop songs, catapulting them off the bar-stage/friend’s-couch circuit and into, well … induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame later in 2021.

The early tales of The Go-Go’s (and many others) are recounted in John Doe’s books “Under the Big Black Sun” and “More Fun in the New World.” But Belinda herself dedicated a hunk of her 2011 autobiography, “Lips Unsealed,” to her relationship with the “cute” Blasters drummer:

Soon after I settled in, I began a two-year relationship with the Blasters’ drummer, Bill Bateman — aka Buster. We’d crossed paths at clubs and parties, but it wasn’t until Pleasant set up a situation one night at the Troubadour that Buster and I were able to talk more intimately and get to know each other. He had on a striped shift and wore a bandana around his neck. I thought he looked cute, and I liked him even more as we talked.

I thought he liked me, too. It was one of those setups where everything clicked except for one detail. I didn’t like his hair. As I told Pleasant, there was too much of it. He needed a new do.

An early promotional photo of The Blasters, featuring Bill Bateman (third from left), pre-haircut.
Continue reading

Red Devils play essential set on ‘2 Meter Sessies’ (1993)

Posted in red devils with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 29, 2021 by J.J.

In lieu of a legit Red Devils sophomore album, fans should look to live performances such as 1993’s outstanding “2 Meter Sessies” recording to fill the void.

The 2 Meter Sessies is a Dutch radio series, a live-in-the-studio “unplugged” session. Performers over the years include Radiohead, Foo Fighters, Cranberries, Blind Melon, J.J. Cale, Jackson Browne and many others. Of course, the Devils didn’t unplug at all, giving one of their essential performances — all caught on tape. (Read more about the Sessies on nl.wikipedia.org.)

The Devils’ performance was recorded May 3, 1993, at Bullet Sound Studios in the Netherlands, just two days after their infamous Moulin Blues Festival appearance. This time, the band sounds rested and ready; it’s just as compelling a performance as Moulin, but without the debauchery. It sounds like a hardworking blues band on top of their game.


The set is typical of the band’s show during this period, a solid mix of “King King” favorites and other choice picks. Several of the songs were earmarked as possibilities for the band’s full-length follow-up to “King King.”

Continue reading

13’s brilliance at Boogie Town

Posted in 13 with tags , , , , , , , on August 21, 2021 by J.J.

On the eve of Lester’s Legendary Last Gig at the 1998 Moulin Blues Festival, 13 incinerated a different fest.

“The night before at Boogietown Festival in Belgium- THAT was a gig!” guitarist Alex Schultz recalled in a 2010 comment on nofightin.com.

The Boogie Town Festival on May 1, 1998, at Louvain-la-neuve, Belgium, did not have the benefit, in hindsight, of special guests or strange coincidences. But the show promoters certainly knew what they had with Lester Butler and 13, expressed in a breathless biography in the festival program:

Continue reading

The legend of the Kid Ramos/Lester Butler ‘hard-edge blues unit’ Snake Snake

Posted in lester butler, related music with tags , , , , , , , , on August 15, 2021 by J.J.

Of all of Lester Butler’s various bands and gigs, Snake Snake may be the most mysterious.

But its roots go back to California’s bubbling hot, early 1980s blues scene.

“When I first met Lester he was just a friend of Hollywood Fats that would come around in the early ’80s,” Kid Ramos told nofightin.com recently. “I didn’t even know he played harmonica.”

At the time, Kid and Fats were the 1-2 guitar punch in the James Harman Band, which also boasted Willie J. Campbell on bass and Stephen Hodges on drums.

Ramos and Butler would share the stage a few years later in The Blue Shadows.

“He contacted me in the late ‘80s, early ‘90s, I think it was and asked me to come sit with them at the King King,” Ramos recalled. “At that time Smokey Hormel was the guitar player and sometimes other people would play guitar. But it was Jonny Ray Bartel, Bill Bateman and … (Dave Lee) Bartel.”

“Lester was too hard for those guys to deal with and it sort of imploded,” he remembered. “Paul Size went back to Texas and I played some more gigs with the band as The Red Devils. Went to Holland and played some gigs over there. But with a different rhythm section.”

A few years later, it was Ramos’ turn to call Butler for a band he was putting together: Snake Snake.

Continue reading

ZZ Top’s Dusty Hill, 1949-2021

Posted in related music with tags , , , , on July 28, 2021 by J.J.
Dusty Hill, left, and Billy Gibbons onstage July 21, 2017, at the Stimmen Festival in Lorrach, Germany. Hill died July 28, 2021, at age 72. (Photo copyright Tina Hanagan / nofightin.com)

Dusty Hill, the man who held down bass guitar duties and lent his unmistakable vocals to hits such as “Tush,” “Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers” and “Heard It on the X,” died Wednesday, July 28, 2021. He was 72.

He had been off the road for a short while, with ZZ’s guitar tech Elwood Francis filling in at recent shows.

But Dusty was so much more than the bass player. He was one-third of Tres Hombre, and 50% of the best facial hair in the business. That might not matter much in the long run, but ZZ Top’s distinctive look (and futuristic boogie) made them stars on MTV in the 1980s. Without that, they might have ended up being ’70s rock casualties, more radio stars killed by video.

He also played keyboards, and was a consistently entertaining presence in the ZZ Top experience.

In 2017, ZZ took The Red Devils on tour of Europe for a month, introducing the Devils to a whole new audience. The Red Devils will forever be tied to that little ol’ band from Texas (never mind that Devils guitarist Mike Flanigin also plays with Billy Gibbons’ various moonlighting bands).

They made an awful big sound for just three guys. Without Dusty, it won’t be quite the same.

READ MORE: ZZ Top on nofightin.com

REVEREND: Billy F. Gibbons touts The Red Devils on eve of tour

HARP: James Harman provided harmonica for ZZ Top

(Photo copyright Tina Hanagan / nofightin.com)

Bateman drums: Old school, new ideas from Blasters legend

Posted in bill bateman with tags , , , , , , on July 24, 2021 by J.J.
Bill Bateman in Drumhead [Photo by Kelly King]
Bill Bateman in Drumhead magazine No. 21, May/June 2010.

Note: This post was first published June 6, 2010. It was revised and updated July 24, 2021.

Bill Bateman is featured in the May/June 2010 issue of Drumhead magazine, mostly talking about the craft of drum building. Bateman began building kits for his own Bateman Drum Company a few years earlier, and he talks, in detail, with Drumhead about the why and how:

“I noticed that some of the drum companies have made choices in their production that aren’t geared towards a better instrument, but rather are a by-product of mass production. Some companies are good. Gretsch still does it the old 1940s way, which is great. Ludwig is kind of imitating what they used to do, but they have all butt joints. They didn’t have butt joints in the old days.”

Bateman is revealed as a true drum gearhead, with an astounding knowledge of styles and companies. He even talks at length about studying Civil War-era snare drums, eventually building two rope-tension snares in the 19th-century style, according to Drumhead. Much of the article is about how he and his brother-in-law experimented with making wood shells. But Bateman always keeps the player in mind, even when selecting hardware (which he gets from old drums): “All of that double-braced hardware isn’t going to fit into the back of your Toyota,” Bateman told the magazine. “Even if it did, your back would be pissed at you the next day.”

What are the odds of you getting a Bateman Drum Company set? Not so great, according to an interview in the August 2008 Blasters newsletter American Music:

Continue reading

Groanin’ Lester Butler onstage in 1996

Posted in 13, lester butler with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 18, 2021 by J.J.
Back with The Blue Shadows, April 17 at Bar Deluxe (LA Weekly)

Look, putting together a weekly music calendar isn’t easy. It can be tedious, boring and frustrating. Sometimes, you have to find your little spaces of joy to keep the whole endeavor from completing sucking your soul away.

That’s how I would like to think the calendar editor at LA Weekly came up with “Groanin’ Lester Butler” back in 1996. I hope it brought him/her a little bit of joy in a thankless job.

Unwanted nicknames aside, the years between The Red Devils and 13 found Lester Butler playing locally around Los Angeles and Santa Monica, Calif., in various versions of Devils, Shadows and unlucky numbers. He found regular work in joints like Bar Deluxe, Jack’s Sugar Shack and, of course, the Blue Cafe.

Here is a collection of calendar clips and bar ads from L.A. papers in 1996, tracking Butler’s moves before his breakout ’97.

April 24 at Bar Deluxe with The Blue Shadows — “formerly The Red Devils, and now rejoined by Groanin’ Lester Butler” (LA Weekly)
Continue reading

Listen: Red Devils climb ‘Mountain Stage’ for live radio show (1992)

Posted in red devils with tags , , , , , , on July 11, 2021 by J.J.

Note: This story was originally published Oct. 18, 2015.

At the height of their powers, The Red Devils were heard live on the popular “Mountain Stage” radio program on Oct. 4, 1992, along with Leo Kottke, John Cale and Juliana Hatfield.

The recording captures the Devils between their opening stint on tour for Los Lobos and their first U.S. headlining club tour dates. In fact, it would be just about a week later that we would see the Devils at the old Jake’s nightclub in Bloomington, Ind.

Like so many other radio programs, “Mountain Stage” is often bootlegged and passed around, and The Red Devils’ set is no exception. The bootleg itself is short, with just four tunes and radio chatter. But, it is crystal-clear audio and a nice touchstone for the band during this time.

All four songs are available here on No Fightin’, including two courtesy of Dominik Ablamowicz on YouTube.

Continue reading
%d bloggers like this: