EIN Interview with Greg Page
By Piers Beagley
Page talked to EIN in 2005 about working with Elvis' TCB Band and 'Taking Care of Country'
- It's very exciting that you are bringing both James Burton
& Glen D Hardin back to tour country Australia with you. How
on earth did a Yellow Wiggle manage to get together with these
Page is well known for his role as lead singer in The
Wiggles (Greg is the yellow Wiggle).
is also a country music fan, an avid Elvis fan and has
recorded five solo CDs, the most recent one featuring
Elvis' TCB Band.
- It was one of those happy coincidences! In 2002 I was
in the States and I thought it would be great to do a show
over there because the solo CDs that I have recorded do sell
to fans in the US. I thought that rather than bring over an
Australian band, why not go for the very best & so I aimed
for the top. I didn't seriously think that I'd end up being
able to sing with the TCB guys but I e-mailed the band and
just by luck Ronnie Tutt knew who The Wiggles were.
- How did you explain to them that a yellow Wiggle was
serious about performing Elvis' songs?
- I told Ronnie that I already performed solo concerts
and had recorded & produced several CDs of my own. I also
gave him my website (www.gregpage.com) so that he could see
that I was serious and he wrote back saying he knew who I
was and had been watching a Wiggles video that very morning!
Just to get an e-mail from Ronnie was a real buzz and then
I also started chatting with Glen D.
- How did the early concerts with the TCB Band in Nashville
& Vegas come about?
- After talking with the whole band, we did some rehearsals
in Vegas before playing there in 2003 and then last year we
played in Nashville in July. People flew from all over America
which amazed me. I know that fans in the States are different
and really embrace The Wiggle shows but it really warmed my
heart how keen fans were to hear my solo shows. I had also
missed playing with a live band & really missed the spontaneity
& the sound of a live band playing behind you with the feel
changing on different songs each night.
- What was it like as an unknown Australian artist playing
Country music in the very home of country?
- It was very scary, almost intimidating. I had to explain
at the media interviews beforehand that the style I do wasn't
contemporary Country & that I don't bung on that fake "country
accent". After all, when Elvis did his later country songs
it was more "country" rather than Country & Western. However
to walk onto that stage in Nashville was very daunting, especially
as I knew that industry people were coming to the show. But
once on stage you kind of forget all that & realise that you're
there to put on a good show and anyway, I had one of the best
bands in the world playing with me!
- I believe you even had both guitarists Reggie Young
and James Burton playing for you there - that's some band!
- When I recorded the CD in Nashville, Ronnie Tutt knew
that Reggie Young was available and we managed to get both
him and James Burton together, it was incredible. Sitting
around with these 5 guys talking about who they'd played with
was unbelievable. There was Elvis of course, different record
producers, and even Reggie Young's tour with The Beatles when
he was in The Bill Black Combo. I was just in awe. In the
Nashville concert last year we played both 'In The Ghetto'
and 'Suspicious Minds.' Now Reggie Young had recorded the
famous studio session of those with Elvis - it's his amazing
guitar work on 'In The Ghetto' - but James Burton had always
played the live Elvis versions. Both of the arrangements are
so different that it was fascinating to see these guitar maestros
working out how they would play these famous songs together
in the group. It could even have been the first time they
had played these songs alive on stage together, I never asked!
- How did you & Mick Gerace discover the same interest
- Mick & my children actually went to the same school
and that's how we met & discovered the mutual interest. In
fact my appreciation of Elvis started because Antony Field,
the blue Wiggle, was a big Elvis fan and he would always play
Elvis in the Tarago while we were on tour. I was just immersed
in Elvis' music and grew to love it that way. The whole blend
of the TCB musicians, the orchestra & Elvis' astounding voice
just amazed me. That is what really grabbed me and I love
Elvis' grandiose seventies stuff!
- Was there any chance of Ronnie Tutt or Jerry Scheff
coming out with you on this tour?
- Ronnie will actually be in Australia touring with Neil
Diamond at the same time. I was hoping that he might get a
couple of nights off to join up with us but unfortunately
his schedule is too hectic. Jerry Scheff has now moved to
live in Scotland which unfortunately made it logistically
too difficult to get him along. Instead of Ronnie I'm using
Mick's drummer, Mike Hague, who is an excellent replacement
as you know, plus we have a horn section and over twenty people
on the road with us - it will sound great.
- Your CD 'Taking Care of Country' kicks off with
Burning Love which is a powerful statement. How did you decide
what songs to record?
- I felt that 'Burning Love' was a really strong intro
track. Initially I thought about 'She Thinks I still Care'
as the first track, as the feel of the take was so beautiful,
but it didn't quite have the power of an opening track. 'Burning
Love' was so identifiably Elvis - and I have never said that
I am an "Elvis singer" or that I sound like him - but here
is the TCB Band doing what they do best and you can so admire
their brilliant work. I also really wanted to try & reflect
a) the greatness of these guys as a band that had played with
Elvis and b) the greatness & skill of these musicians as they
are individually, aside from their Elvis work.
- Did the band suggest numbers or arrangements for you?
- Previous to the session I worked with Glenn D on chord
charts and string arrangements and he suggested that we could
do things a little different to the known Elvis versions.
For instance 'Loving Arms' is very different to Elvis' and
it was more or less the band members that wanted to do something
extra. 'Mary in the Morning' for instance was really inspired
by James Burton's little guitar riff he did in the studio,
his work is so beautiful.
- What about the non Elvis songs?
- Songs like 'Deep Water' & 'Time Changes Everything'
are Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys western-swing songs.
Both Glen D Hardin and Ronnie Tutt originally lived in Texas
and these were tunes that they grew up with - and I also wanted
to see how the band enjoyed playing together on songs that
they hadn't recorded before. In the studio Ronnie kind of
steers the band & the session as he can often identify the
kind of thing that will shift a song and take it to a higher
level. He is so brilliant to work with that you can see why
Neil Diamond always tours with him. Ronnie's a real leader;
after all he majored in music at University.
- Have you heard any of the Elvis FTD Fan Club CDs that
are now being released?
- I bought several when I was in Graceland last year.
What I love about them is where they have alternate takes
with the music stripped back, so that you can hear where the
concepts all arrived from musically. 'Nashville Marathon'
is a great insight into his country recordings and I really
enjoyed the recent 'Closing Night' live CD as it was so different.
- The tour you are doing covers an extraordinary area
of NSW. What do James Burton & Glen D Hardin think of travelling
such country areas of Australia?
- The great thing about it is that both James & Glen are
keen to see the countryside of Australia. They see it as the
working holiday in Australia that they have never had. I do
think that some of the towns will more interesting than others
but Glen in particular was keen to do it since he will get
to see parts of Australia that he has never seen before. The
scenery of the outback is beautiful and we are travelling
to both coastal towns & inland. Part of the philosophy of
this tour is to take these amazing musicians to people in
the country who wouldn't normally get the chance to see them
or to sample their talents. This also fits in with the Taking
Care of Country charity fund that I am setting up.
- Fans have been asking us if you will possibly
add concerts in Canberra or Melbourne?
- Unfortunately we were trying for dates in both
those cites, and Mick Gerace was also helping me there,
but the scheduling just wouldn't come off. It's a shame,
but there's nothing we could arrange in the time.
- What about other dates in Sydney itself?
- The Hills Centre will be the only date so that's
why Mick and I have decided to combine forces to make
it a dynamic finish for everyone.
- Are there any surprises in store? Any rare songs?
- I'll be doing songs from the new CD 'Taking Care
of Country' as well as the follow up that will be coming
out next year.
- There is already a follow up!
- We actually recorded another CD of material last year
in Nashville but it still needs some final production work
with orchestra & overdubbing that I will be doing here in
Australia. I am very pleased to say that 'Taking Care of Country'
has been picked up by the ABC as part of a three album deal
which is fantastic. Elvis songs such as 'Take Good Care of
Her' & 'Faded Love' will be on the new album and The Rolling
Stones' 'Honky Tonk Women' is there too which really helps
highlight the guys versatility - you'll be surprised by our
- I hear rumours that your interest in Elvis extends to
your purchase of a Cadillac, is this true?
- I have been buying a lot of Elvis' collectible things
and stuff that he owned. I even bought the TV from his bedroom
but the best thing I have bought is the last Cadillac that
Elvis owned in 1977 which is about to be shipped out to me.
I am trying to put together something like a travelling Elvis
museum that I hope will be a kind of 'Australian man's Graceland'
so that people who can't get to the states can still get a
chance to see & appreciate more of the story of Elvis. I'm
gathering quite a collection of things. I've also got Elvis'
red shirt from Kissing Cousins, a band member's jumpsuit and
even a diamond TCB necklace that belonged to Tom Hullett.
I am hoping to connect it somehow to Elvis' anniversary in
August next year, perhaps put on a show in Sydney.
- It's been great talking with you and I can't wait to
see you in concert next month.
- I hope that everyone enjoys the shows as much as we
do performing them. I have been so fortunate in my life. I
am very blessed and so grateful to have had the opportunities
I have had and to work with these amazing musicians.
Page talked to EIN's Piers
Beagley February 15th 2005*
the Greg Page website
for details of the Taking Care of Country Tour
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