One of the treats hanging out with Mike Flanigin last year was watching vintage Red Devils video live from the King King more than two decades earlier.
We watched half of the Nov. 30, 1992, video in his Austin living room. Essentially, we got the DVD commentary from one of the members of The Red Devils himself.
Flanigin held the guitar he played in the Devils as he watched a younger version of himself, sparking many more memories and stories.
Two things stuck out: That Flanigin wasn’t entirely impressed with the King King mystique, which even in 1992 was thick around the band. Watching the video, the band in living color under stage lights, is surreal. How many of us have listened to the “King King” record and imagined the whole night in grainy black and white, dimly lit and gritty?
This is video of the Devils in their prime, road-tested and ready. Sure there are festival videos out there, scattered TV appearances. But this is three sets of classic Red Devils with their prototype setlist of the time (“Who Do You Love,” “She’s Dangerous,” “Blues in the Morning,” “Blackwater Roll,” “Checkin’ Up On My Baby,” plus Hook Herrera sits in, too).
The other thing was his sense of belonging in the band. As he mentioned, his kids never knew him as a guitar player, and certainly not as a member of one of the hottest blues acts of the second half on ’92. Many Red Devils fans don’t even know his role in the band; this video proves it.
Mike: But I do have this videotape from the King King. You probably never saw it?
Mike: Well, this was the King King and I don’t know if anyone has any video of us playing like that whole American tour. In the video the quality is not that great. But this is when we got back and they were like, “Man, we’re going to play the King King!” Well this was the night. Like this was our first night back from being on the road and Billy Gibbons was there and Rick Rubin was there and that’s the night. And so the guy had taped it , they had the camera, so they run that tape. And then when we got down with the gig, he had the VHS tape and Lester was just like, “Hey Mikey, you take this,” and gave it to me and I hung on to it … I would feel like everybody else had just went by the wayside at some point …
I held on to like little scrapbook or little things that it might got lost. And so this videotape is — I had to dig it out man. I knew I had it. …
And that’s a whole night, like it’s not just 30 minutes. I mean it’s like all night, all the whole thing. …
And so, it gives you an idea of like where we were and what the band sounded like that you remembered from like when you saw us. Because it’s the only thing that really exists. There’s no live recordings and all that or like anything professionally done or see the band. I never have seen anything with me in it. Even though I was in the group a long time really. I mean of the working life with that band.
Tina: It’s got to be out there though, right?
Mike: Well, what’s funny is that he took this tape out of the machine and gave it to Lester and Lester gave it to me. I think it’s the only existing copy.
And I’ve never given it to anybody, like I never show it really and I hadn’t seen it years. I just pulled this out because I knew you were coming.
Interviewer: Yes, yes. That’s very kind of you.
Mike: We’ll see what’s up with it. I mean it might be a complete mess.
At this point, the video tape goes in. I have seen photos of the band at the King King, and obviously have seen several videos over the years. But this is my first glimpse of The Red Devils performing live at the King King club, with the same lineup and setlist I saw probably less than two months earlier in Indiana.
Interviewer: The drummer in front at the King King.
Mike: It was, well, you see there is me. …
There’s Jonny Ray, there’s me, there’s Paul. Well we’re doing an instrumental before Lester comes out.
Interviewer: Jonny said that was one of the cool things about that place is that it was like a shotgun.
Mike: Yes, it was. It was like a shotgun and the bar was like view on stage. The bar ran over here. And I know Gibbons was sitting right there. What’s funny is Jonny Ray brought Gibbons up. Well I start playing with Gibbons on organ [years later]. He didn’t know I played with The Red Devils. He didn’t remember it. Jonny Ray and they came up to my gig and he goes, “You don’t even know this, but Flanigin played with The Red Devils,” Gibbons is like, “Are you fucking kidding me? He played guitar in that band?” He just knew me as an organ player.
Flanigin takes a solo on the instrumental, something we’ve never head Dave Lee Bartel do on any Red Devils tape.
Interviewer: Did he kick you a lot of solos?
Mike: I mean, Paul was really the solo guy and everything.
Interviewer: On instrumentals apparently.
Mike: Yes, maybe I’m just instrumental. I think maybe I had a couple solos or something. And also, I was chomping the rhythm out.
Interviewer: Yes. Because I don’t think I ever saw Dave Lee do anything other than rhythm.
Mike: Right. That was [Lester], he’s like I got two Texas guys that can solo like — and even though Paul was the main soloist, I did solo. So far [unintelligible] myself play guitar for 20 years, right. I mean I was pretty good. …
But that was a good band. We were tight, man because we had been on the road for so long. …
I don’t even think we played this. I think it’s just all made up right then. But you know that’s what we did back then. We played, man we played a lot, you know in Dallas and all that. He is like the devil man.
The song wraps up and Lester Butler comes up to the stage. He counts off Little Walter’s “Just Your Fool,” “A one, two, three …”
Interviewer: One of my favorite Little Walter tunes.
Mike: I’ve had this stuff for years. It’s like, the fact that anybody would ever cared about it again.
Mike: [song ends] You hear the tepid response from the audience? It’s like nothing. I was like, “This is where, this is what you’ve been talking about? Shit.”
Interviewer: Lester had like a uniform?
Mike: That was the uniform. Likely it didn’t have the headband obviously.
We’re just smoking on the stage. The fact, is none of my kids have seen this. I got two kids like 19 and 17, like they never even saw me play guitar much less like saw this video or even …
You got some, maybe some will turn it up but I remember holding onto this an thinking I’m going to hold on to this because maybe the only documentation of the whole thing. I mean I know they got stuff on YouTube with the club itself. But do you have a whole gig of The Red Devils on YouTube or people can really see what that band did in a club, which I think that’s important.
[music plays in the background]
Mike: Me and Paul were – it wasn’t like Dave Lee and Paul. Like me and Paul were showing some planning with each other like we knew like we just have that Texas thing which in I think the band sounded Texas-y when I was in. …
Interviewer: That Bill [Bateman is] so simple. The drums sound so ..
Mike: And they even sound fat on this little tape.
Tina: Yes, it is.
Interviewer: Just all those triplets and just play the turnarounds.
Mike: Yes, and Jonny Ray would just lay it down. I was so used to bad bass players and bad drummers and people didn’t get it. Do you remember how good the guitar player is like the rhythm section’s not happening. You’re only as good as your drummer in any band. … A bit quiet in that room [King King]. We were used to tearing it up everywhere we went.
Red Devils live at King King Nov. 30, 1992
- Instrumental guitar rocker
- Just Your Fool
- Instrumental shuffle
- Lumpty shuffle instrumental
- Red Headed Woman
- Off the Wall
- She’s Dangerous
- Backstroke (Help Me lyrics)
- Blackwater Roll
- Shuffle (Checkin’ Up On My Baby)
- Shake Your Hips
- Who Do You Love
- Blues in the Morning
- Devil Woman
- Good Morning Little Schoolgirl (feat. Hook Herrera)
- Nervous Fella (feat. Hook Herrera)
- Just to Be With You (feat. Hook Herrera)
- Ridin’ in the Moonlight