Archive for Johnny Cash

Zach Zunis on brush with Cash

Posted in red devils, related music with tags , , on February 25, 2017 by J.J.

Since our last post, we have been thinking about guitarist Zach Zunis. Like Mike Flanigin, Zunis could be a mere footnote in the Devils’ story despite filling a critical role in the band for several months.

And let’s be clear: For some people, the Zach Zunis version of the band was the one they saw live, and is the one they probably still talk about.

Zunis was featured earlier this month in a story in the East Hampton Star, focused around his Grammy nom with singer Janiva Magness. There were a couple of Devils-related comments, including passing by the late, great Johnny Cash:

The late Lester Butler, another harmonica player and singer, was often in the audience at Mr. (William) Clarke’s concerts — “Clarke was the man to see,” Mr. Zunis said. Mr. Butler signed with Def American Recordings, the label founded by the producer and music executive Rick Rubin, and asked Mr. Zunis to join his band, the Red Devils.

The group recorded at the famed Ocean Way Recording in Hollywood, the former United Recording, where legends including Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Ray Charles, the Rolling Stones, and Michael Jackson had cut classic tracks before them. “As we were walking through the door, I heard this ominous sound,” Mr. Zunis said. The sound was the inimitable voice of Johnny Cash. “We walked in the control room, and there was Rick Rubin recording Johnny Cash,” he said. “They finished their session, and we started ours. We got to meet him — it was so cool.”

Read more here.

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.

Rubin bio gives hints of producer at work

Posted in red devils with tags , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2010 by J.J.

Simply calling Rick Rubin a “producer” misses what has made him such an important modern musical figure: He has been a guru, shaman, caretaker, curator, therapist and friend for many artists, coaxing some to produce their greatest music ever. What he does simply cannot be reproduced.

Using already-published interviews as a backbone, author Jake Brown constructs a discography-based look at Rubin’s career in the recently released book “Rick Rubin: In the Studio” (ECW Press). Not a tabloidy tell-all, “In the Studio” instead is a gearhead’s delight, giving some insight into the famed Rick Rubin recording process.

Red Devils fans, however, will be let down — the Devils’ Rubin-produced “King King” is not mentioned save for a discography at the back of the book. The lone mention of the Devils in the text is a graph about the Mick Jagger blues sessions, not even noting that this “Los Angeles blues ensemble” was a Def American band.

However, there are some insights that can be gleaned into “King King” by studying Rubin’s other works and his philosophy — his less is more, or “production by reduction,” style.

Continue reading

The Greatest Music Never Sold

Posted in red devils with tags , , , on February 21, 2009 by automatic32

There’s a relatively new book out on the market that it seems not many people know about, or at least not many of the people who hang out here, and that needs to change.

Journalist Dan LeRoy, who has written for the likes of the New York Times, Rolling Stone, and Newsweek, among others, took it upon himself to pen a fantastic little collection of stories about rock albums that have been finished but never released. Titled “The Greatest Music Never Sold,” LeRoy tells the story behind nine major rock artists’ albums that are done, in the can, completed, ready to rock, yet sit on a shelf somewhere collecting dust.

What does this have to do with the Red Devils, you ask? Awesome as they were, they never wore the mantle of Major Rock Artists. As such, nothing they did on their own should even merit a mention by Mr. LeRoy. However, the Devils, being generally wonderfully talented musicians, attracted the attention of major artists and individuals in the industry, Rick Rubin being the obvious example. It’s through this side door that the Devils snuck to make their name as more than just another bar band or run-of-the-mill neo-classic blues outfit. Rubin brought the Devils formally in touch with the likes of Mick Jagger and Johnny Cash, and the former is the reason we can be so grateful to LeRoy.
Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: