'Playin' Around The Lives and Careers of Famous Session Musicians'
Ember Pierce, The Scarecrow Press, USA, 1998, ISBN: 0810834340
musicians featured are a veritable "who's who" of the music session
Around is a fascinating read. Ms Pierce details the lives
and careers of 12 of the most famous session musicians and
most of them backed Elvis!
stories recounted in Playin' Around are rich in detail, rich
in humour and rich in providing deeper insight to both the
world of music and the King of Rock & Roll.
amusing anecdotes, rare photos and vivid biographies, Ms Pierce
has constructed a highly enjoyable trip into and behind the
scenes of the recording studio.
Ray Bradley (Banjo/guitar)
Pomeroy (Electric and acoustic basses)
R. Wood (Piano/keyboards/organ)
Garrish (Pedal steel)
"Jelly Roll" Johnson (Harmonica)
Bayers, Jr. (Drums)
an example of the pedigree and wealth of experience of the 12 musicians
featured, guitarist Harold Ray Bradley's incredible 'credit list'
includes Roy Orbison, Buddy Holly, Willie Nelson, Paul Anka, Eddy
Arnold, Joan Baez, Patsy Cline, the Everly Brothers, Connie Francis,
Dolly Parton, Ray Price, Jerry Lee Lewis, Al Martino, Roger Miller,
Charlie Pride, Hank Williams, Slim Whitman, Tammy Wynette, Conway
Twitty and Elvis! He even backed film star Robert Mitchum who recorded
Little Ole Wine Drinker Me (the song made famous by one of Elvis's
idols, Dean Martin).
account of his time with Elvis is full of color and humour: All
of a sudden I heard all of this commotion out in the back alley
behind the studio, so I opened the back door and looked out and
there was a sea of boys and girls out there. They were everywhere.
They were standing on the hood of my new station wagon. There was
no way I was going to go out there and say, "Get off my station
wagon." I just shook my head and went back inside and said to myself,
"I don't know how much money I'm going to make with this guy but,
it's not going to be enough to pay for my station wagon."
Around includes observations about the material Elvis recorded and
its politics. Reggie Young (pictured) observed: "Apparently somebody
in the entourage, somebody in a suit, told [Chips] Moman. "You don't
pick his material. We've already got his material picked. Also,
if Elvis wants to cut those songs we'll want all of the publishing."
and pianist David Briggs recounts an incident symbolising Elvis's
lack of appreciation of his importance: "One time I was travelling
with Elvis on his plane, and he was looking out the window as we
began to make our descent and he said, "Man, have they had a crash
down there? There are thousands of people and ambulances and fire
trucks all over the place." I said, "Hell, they're there because
of you, man." He said, "Oh you're kidding me." David Briggs wasn't
another chapter, drummer Buddy Harman had this to say about Elvis:
"Elvis was a very shy and humble guy, and his attitude kind of surprised
me….but he was always considerate and polite. He never got cocky
or obnoxious…When you have the opportunity to work with people like
Elvis Presley, and Roy Orbison, who have such incredible talent,
and who are real down to earth guys, that's a great high."
book is well structured with each chapter involving a third party
biography of the particular musician, each person's 'own story'
and a 'credit list' of the artists each musician has played with.
Value added extras include copies of recording log books, pen pictures
of each musician and important commentary on the role of session
musicians, the politics/state of the music industry generally and
the impact of greed on the industry and what is recorded and released.
you want to read a book that takes you behind the scenes and into
the recording studio, Playin' Around is the one. It is an engrossing,
eye opening and often funny read that will enrich both your music
knowledge and your appreciation of the hard working 'team' that
is involved in making the songs that capture our hearts and minds.
Session musicians form an essential musical backbone to an artist's
recordings. They are generally unrecognised and under-appreciated.
Playin' Around deftly tells their stories and details their very
important contribution to the music revered by several generations.
It is a significant and revealing release in the field of popular
music that will appeal to all types of music fans. And there's plenty
of Elvis too!
by Nigel Patterson
buy Playin' Around (link to Amazon)