Archive for billy gibbons

The Red Devils vs ZZ Top this summer

Posted in red devils with tags , , , on March 16, 2017 by J.J.

Long in the works, The Red Devils reunion tour takes them to Dublin, Ireland, July 28, for an opening slot on ZZ Top’s “Tonnage Tour.” Billy Gibbons has long been connected to The Red Devils, so the pairing makes perfect sense.

Jonny Ray Bartel posted this image just minutes ago on Facebook. Stay tuned …

Mike Flanigin on tour 1992 with The Red Devils: “We were a gang … mowed everybody down”

Posted in red devils with tags , , , on December 4, 2016 by J.J.

IMG_0577In the spring of 2015, Mike Flanigin opened his Austin, Texas, home and opened up about his time in The Red Devils.

Flanigin became the band’s second guitarist during its critical club tour through the U.S. In 1992, replacing Dave Lee Bartel.

But his connection to the band started before he was drafted one night in Dallas: Flanigin had already been associated with lead guitarist Paul Size, who he reunited with again in Texas after The Red Devils imploded.

Today, Flanigin is the go-to Hammond B3 player for Jimmie Vaughan (the two are off to New York Dec. 9 for a show with Steve Miller honoring T-Bone Walker) and Billy Gibbons (Flanigin toured and recorded with Rev. Gibbons’ solo BFG Band). He also has a sprawling musical travelogue called “The Drifter,” released last year, which is an all-star tour through American roots music.

But more than 20 years earlier, he was a key part of keeping the hottest blues band in America chugging up and down the highway.

In a nearly two-hour interview, Flanigin talked about his own musical journey, his relationship with The Red Devils members, road stories — including the infamous “destroyed hotel” story — and so much more. The Q&A is edited only for space and clarity; further comments will publish later with more photos, audio and video.

It was a laid-back, familiar conversation that was exciting to be a part of. We bounced from topic to topic; hope you can keep up.

[Apologies for the ridiculous delay on this … life and all. All photos by Tina Hanagan.]

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Mike: I was fairly old when I started playing. I think my first gig was 24 or something like that.

Interviewer: Really? So and you’re from Denton?

Mike: My dad was in the Air Force, and so we were in California when I was young and then we moved to Louisiana — Shreveport. Then we moved to Michigan and then ended up in Denton. My dad retired and so my sisters were going to school in Denton. So that’s how we ended up there. I think when I was about 13 we moved there.

Interviewer: But had you been in music? Had you been playing instruments when you were a kid or how’d you­­ …

Mike: I wasn’t really in a musical household. I always liked music but, I worked at a pawn shop in Denton and it was kind of a music store too, so I’d strum on the guitar or something. But, everybody else in the pawn shop, they were in bands and I thought well they’re good. They seemed like musicians.

I was never that guy. It wasn’t until — I didn’t really know people in bands, I was just kind of out of it — really it wasn’t until I met Johnny Moeller and Jay [Moeller] and Paul Size, they would come in the pawn shop and I had met Anson Funderburgh. Somehow I had stumbled onto a gig for Anson Funderburgh in Dallas. And I talked to Anson and then those guys came in. And so we started talking about Anson.

Of course then they sat down and started to play. I was like, “Well, who are these kids?” Because they were just kids. I don’t know how old they were but 16, Jay was maybe 13 or 14 or something. Paul and Johnny were little kids when I met them. They were in high school. I remember I use to go over to Johnny’s house and his mom would check — I would bring over some cassettes or something — she’d check. She thought I was selling them drugs, going through my cassettes.

Interviewer: Like, why is this older fellow coming by …

Mike: Right, yes. Who is this? Well you know at that age just a few years seems a lot older.

Interviewer: Right, right and why are you hanging out with him?

Mike: Especially their kids are that young. It’s weird because music bonds you but I probably wouldn’t have been hanging out with a kid in high school at that age, and it’s not that I was super old but those were guys were talented. Even then, you knew these guys were the best. What was great about Paul — Johnny — everybody knew Johnny was the guy. And Paul idolized Johnny. But Paul just had this natural thing, I think he sounded like Buddy Guy and I don’t even think he had heard Buddy Guy. He just does this stuff and then it all just comes pouring out and it’s this. You’ve seen it right?

Interviewer: Right, right. Yes.

Mike: No hesitation. He’s not preoccupied with trying to sound like a particular guy or whatever.

Interviewer: Just presence.

Mike: It’s just pouring out and Paul was always real natural like that.

Interviewer: Yes, yes. So, your first instrument, was it organ or was it guitar?

Mike: No, I was playing guitar back then. I didn’t play the organ until, I was 30 maybe was when I started?

How that started was, I was playing at Antone’s. Me and Johnny Moeller and I can’t remember if Paul — I guess Paul was maybe here still before he moved­­ a little bit. But there had to B3 on stage.

Well, I was playing guitar, Johnny’s playing guitar and I was like, “Well Johnny, he’s got the guitar covered. I’ll go try and play the organ.” But I didn’t know how to play keyboard but I would try and play while we had our little gig. Someone said, “Well, find the key and then count up three, that would be a minor. Count up four, that would be a major.” So, that’s how I started. And then when the other bands were playing, Derek [O’Brien] and the house band, I would sneak up there and just try and play the organ. But Doyle Bramhall Sr. hired me after about three months, saw me.

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The Drifter Speaks: Mike Flanigin remembers his time with The Red Devils

Posted in red devils, related music with tags , , , , , on August 16, 2015 by J.J.

  

[Above photo by Tina Hanagan; others courtesy mikeflanigin.com]

A key time in The Red Devils’ history was their U.S. club tour through the U.S.

Holding down guitar duties — and altering the Devils’ sound — was guitarist Mike Flanigin, filling in for rhythm guitarist Dave Lee Bartel. With Flanigin came Texas swagger, a third soloist and a friend to fellow Texan Paul Size.

Back in May, we went to Austin to meet Flanigin, who graciously let us into his home to spend a couple of hours talking about music, The Red Devils and more.

In the coming weeks, we will have several posts from that interview, along with some really cool Red Devils recordings — live audio, live video and studio cuts never-before-seen-or-heard.

Screen+Shot+2015-08-15+at+2.28.53+PMWe caught Flanigin at just the right time: His debut solo album, “The Drifter,” is out Aug. 21. It’s a labor of love for the musician, featuring many of his idols and friends such as Devils fan (and guitarist in that little ol’ band from Texas) Billy Gibbons, Jimmie Vaughan, Gary Clark Jr., Alejandro Escovedo, Kat Edmonson and more.

Pick it up here. Or here. Or read cool stuff about it here. And stay tuned to nofightin.com for more.

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Classic Rock: Finding the real story in the grooves

Posted in red devils with tags , , , , , on April 9, 2014 by J.J.

Photo Apr 07, 8 56 57 PM

With Classic Rock 195 now out in the U.S. — the U.K. Queen cover replaced by Slash — The Red Devils’ story is being read by more people than ever before.

Seeing high praise from Billy Gibbons and Rick Rubin, not to mention the Mick Jagger and Johnny Cash connections, it is hard to fathom the band won’t belatedly pick up a few new fans.

Photo Apr 07, 1 10 56 PM

Reaction to the magazine last month, where it was first released in Europe, was strong. Seeing the band’s young faces, so vivid on glossy paper, tucked among rock royalty through the pages, was a treat.

Described on the U.S. cover as “cult heroes,” The Red Devils’ story is so much more than that. “King King” was just a moment in time; the lifespan of the “famous” Red Devils — Butler, Bateman, Bartel, Bartel and Size — was only about two years, the length of “The Kid’s” stay in the band.

The Red Devils’ legacy is built on woulda-coulda-shoulda: How many bands are featured in a book called “The Greatest Music Never Sold” and a magazine article subtitled “The greatest bands you’ve never heard”?

Unfortunately the band’s bullet points — a little neighborhood blues band gets discovered, finds fame, tours the world, breaks up, the singer eventually dying much too young — are almost too easy to tell. It doesn’t play as well for the real lives found in between the grooves. And a four-page article, or one chapter of a book, cannot contain the whole story.

I still believe the real story lies somewhere on those nights, playing for a barroom full of friends and fans, creating music and memories that would still be as vivid nearly a quarter century later.

Classic Rock: Fear and loathing in The Red Devils

Posted in red devils with tags , , , , , , , , on March 16, 2014 by J.J.

The Red Devils in Classic Rock #195

Classic Rock #195

From their amazing music to the devastating effects of drugs, The Red Devils’ story is told this month in a compelling piece by writer Paul Rees in the new issue of Classic Rock Magazine.

Issue #195, with Queen on the cover, is out in the UK and in digital editions now.

Rees has done a stellar job on the Devils’ tale. The article, part of an in-issue series on “the greatest cult bands of all time,” is a worthy companion to Dan Leroy’s chapter on the band in “The Greatest Music Never Sold.”

Driving the Classic Rock story (titled “Fear and Loathing in Hollywood”) are fresh interviews with Jonny Ray Bartel, Bill Bateman, Alex Schultz, Billy Gibbons, Rick Rubin and Lester Butler’s sister, Ginny Tura.

And new facts and side items are unearthed. Never before have the band members talked so openly about the troubles that destroyed the band, and led to Butler’s horrible — if inevitable — death.

The story is well worth picking up. Here are some impressions:

  • Rees traces The Red Devils beginnings to earlier than the Blue Shadows in 1988. He says that band was initially called The Stumblebums in 1986.
  • Rubin’s two edicts for signing the band: Change the name, and hire a guitarist. Enter Paul Size.
  • Though “King King” sounds like the best set of blues ever, it was recorded over three successive Mondays at the club.
  • “That session is incredible. You’d have to ask Mick why he never chose to release it.” Even Rick Rubin can’t get the Jagger sessions released. If they were, they would likely lead, even at this late date, to recognition for the Devils, and new critical and commercial assessments of Jagger’s solo career.
  • Bateman claims Butler “had actually clinically died four times in previous years.” His account of Butler waking up in the morgue under a sheet is almost impossible to believe.
  • Dave Lee Bartel dropped out of the band in Dallas in a dispute over pay. Meanwhile, Butler was trying to hire all new band members. This all happened before their legendary European tour in early 1993.
  • The details of the night of Butler’s death, Bateman’s role in the night and the aftermath, are harrowing.

Rees included a comment by me in the article, giving some perspective from a fan. I made that reference to Brian Eno’s Velvet Underground comment before. To me, it fits here.

When I talk with people about “King King” — granted, the results are biased because I often meet them through this blog — they agree that it is essential and, for some, life-changing (or, at least, blues-changing).

Even all these years later, that passion continues to speak to the chemistry and abilities of five guys at a Monday night blues show in an old Chinese restaurant.

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