Thursday, March 17, 2005


Yes, Umlaut tends to wallow in nostalgia more often than not... but that's just the way he is.. Those who fail to learn from the past will listen to crap music.

Last week Danny Joe Brown of Molly Hatchet passed away. This week I heard that Blackfoot's drummer, Jakson "Thunderfoot" Spires, passed away too. It's been a bad month for Southern Rock.

As a teenage Music Geek I was way into Blackfoot. I saw them open for The Who in 1979 in Oakland. In 1981, they headlined the Oakland Auditorium with support from Def Leppard, who were on their 'High 'N Dry' Tour (and before 'Pyromania' ruined them). It was one of those all killer, no filler shows.

Blackfoot weren't your typical Southern Rock band. Jakson Spires and bassist Greg Walker were Native Americans, which set them apart from the White Boys and Rednecks immediately. They were more like a Southern Rock Metal band... Not in the way Pantera was called a "Southern" Metal band because they were simply from the South. No, Blackfoot combined the pounding bottom end and guitar riffing of classic European Metal with Southern fried lyrics and dueling guitars. A unique band IMO.

They were a Southern Rock band who wore Motörhead t-shirts in 1982. At the same time, Iron Maiden wore Blackfoot t-shirts. Seeing that kind of crossover between European Metal and American Rock bands in the early 80's was unheard of until Blackfoot. The band was embraced by the European Metal scene, especially in England.

To honor the English fans on their 1982 U.K. Tour, Blackfoot released limited edition 7" live singles for each city on the tour. These were only available in those cities. How cool is that?! I have a copy of the Manchester 7".

The live album that was recorded on that tour (Highway Song Live) is one of THE best live albums ever... It was only released in Europe and was out of print for years. It was finally released on CD by Wounded Bird Records in 2002. It's a BLISTERING fucking album... and closes with the Newcastle, England crowd singing their local soccer anthem 'Howay The Lads' with Blackfoot jamming along. Amazing.

In the early 80's I had a lot of Metal / Rock penpals in Europe, especially in England and Holland. We'd trade bootleg tapes, band merch, rock magazines, etc. To this day they were just about the only people I've known who liked Blackfoot as much as me.. None of my friends at home were into them, except for a guy named James... However, by 1983 I had moved on to more underground Metal / Rock and Blackfoot became one of those bands that "I listened to in high school"..

In 1997 I went to see Lynyrd Skynyrd only because Rick Medlocke was in the lineup. He was still a Rock Star and still played like a motherfucker. Trivia: Rick was one of the original members of Skynyrd in the early 70's. Jakson Spires also played drums on sessions with the likes of Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy and Willie Dixon.

A couple of years ago I was flipping channels on t.v. and caught Dolly Parton performing a cover of Blackfoot's 'Train Train' on the Country Music Awards. I was completely gobsmacked! It was surreal. 'Train Train' was written by Rick Medlocke's grandfather, and he also played harmonica on the song's intro. How Dolly Parton came to record the song is still a mystery to me.. but it was cool.

Anyway, I won't rant on for too much longer since I know your eyes are probably glazing over and you could care less about Blackfoot. Bottom line: There are a few bands that are sacred to me because of what they meant at a certain time in my life. Blackfoot are one of those bands.. Oh, to be 17 years old again.

If we ever hangout I could show you the 1982 Blackfoot documentary from Swiss t.v. that I have on VHS. The Geeks shall inherit the Earth!

Evidently, the original lineup of Blackfoot had agreed to do the obligatory reunion tour this year. Sad. I probably would have gone. R.I.P. Jakson.

Gotta put some Blackfoot on the iPod now.

"Highway Song is as lonely as the road I'm on..."