Chain of Fools

March 25, 1942 Happy Birthday Aretha Franklin!

day 352

There isn’t anything I can say about Aretha Franklin that hasn’t been said before, so I will just wish the Queen of Soul the happiest of birthdays and bow down to her!  So much material to choose from, and I picked her Chain of Fools to commemorate the day.

When Casey graduated Yale, Ms. Franklin received an honorary degree and we were lucky to be there and see it.  Have a picture someplace, but finding that probably won’t happen.  It was a beautiful weekend – President Clinton speaking, Aretha Franklin accepting her degree, and my son graduating!

ok, i’m in the middle of gigs here.  Just finished Red Lion and have run over to the Groove with the Stingers.  gotta get going.  Our set is starting any second.


December 3, 1968 Aretha Franklin’s Aretha Now album is certified gold!

adios Arizona

Queen of soul Aretha Franklin –  ain’t nobody better than her!

I loved when she did Think in the Blues Brothers movie. And I recently did a arrangement of Think and Respect featuring Cookie Watkins and Cheryl Pepsi Riley, 2 of the best singers i know. It was incredible and I can’t wait to get a recording of that night!

Well, I had a wonderful birthday and now Claudia and I are flying back to NYC and back to the cold!

I start tomorrow morning conducting the National Grid Festival chorus at 8 a.m and i do this every morning for the next 3 weeks. I have had this gig for 30 years, have made some great friends in this choir and it always puts me in the christmas spirit!

Here’s Think for Today in Music.


Try a Little Tenderness

August 2, 1962: Aretha Franklin makes her tv debut on American Bandstand singing Try a Little Tenderness and Don’t Cry Baby.

still in L.A.

What can I say? Hands down the greatest singer ever! Queen of Soul. I have worn out every Aretha song possible. Let’s start with that 10 minute version of Amazing Grace. That’s a master class for any singer wanting to understand soul, tone, riffing, honesty and pure talent. There isn’t a gig I do that I don’t play an Aretha tune. Chain of Fools is one of my favorites.

In Beehive we had Dueling Arethas – Pattie Darcy sang Natural Woman and Cookie Watkins sang Do Right Woman. Claudia did the arrangement. It was probably the biggest moment in our show. Standing ovations every night. Check out a video of it here.

Try a Little Tenderness, another great song, is a big moment in the Stingers Band set list, especially when C.E. Smith sings it. The girls go crazy for this one.

More tomorrow.



Jumpin’ Jack Flash

July 6, 1968 – The Rolling Stones score their fifth US No.1 single when Jumpin Jack Flash hits the top of the charts. (via

after dinner

I was talking yesterday about how Elvis put his flavor on blues and it became rock ‘n’ roll.

Here is another good example of putting flavor on a blues. Mick Jagger singing this bluesy song, the band rocking out, Mick’s persona, Keith’s persona, the guitars, the rawness – it don’t get more rock ‘n’ roll than that.

Aretha does a great version of Jumpin’ Jack Flash (from the Whoopie Goldberg movie).

Sometime in the late 70’s or early 80’s when I was living on 57th street, I lived above Media Sound Recording Studio (it’s gone now, there’s some dance club there in its place) but I lived on the 5th floor and the studio was in the basement through the 2nd floor and in my stairwell there was a door to the 2nd floor where some people (not mentioning names here) could sneak into the studio late at night.

The Stones had booked the whole studio for two months.  It was a scene. Fans outside my building, limos lining the street….

Wish I could finish this story with — oh yeah, met Mick, we had a drink, he took me for a ride in his limo, I got to hang with Keith, we jammed, they invited me into the band, I got a nice flat in London —

But NO.  I tried sneaking in that stupid door and some bouncer threw me out. GOOD STORY HEH!

Well today is another beautiful day in the Poconos.  Claudia and I swam in the lake three times and then she made an amazing pizza.

We’re back in the studio this weekend to do some work on our album. I’ll try to post some pictures and soundbytes and if Mick Jagger tries to sneak in my session – Heh, out he goes!

Jumpin’ Jack Flash!





April 29, 1967 Aretha Franklin releases her interpretation of the Otis Redding song “Respect.” via

#23 done!

I have a love / hate relationship with the song Respect.  On the one hand it’s one of my favorite songs of all time.  But on the other, it’s the song I was listening to as I was skiing down the slopes in the Poconos thinking, this is great, just as I fly ten feet in the air.  The next thing I know the ski patrol is jetskiing snowmobiling (thanks, Dylan for the correction) down the hill with me in tow on a stretcher (torn acl and miniscus)  — surgery, two weeks in bed–needless to say, that was my last time skiing.  In retrospect, maybe blasting RESPECT in my headphones wasn’t the best idea @ 50 mph on skis.  Live and learn.  So, when I hear this song i always think of my last time skiing.

All right! Here’s  a partial list of great singers I’ve played RESPECT for –

Peggi Blu, Alyson Williams, Roz Brown, Perrita Kitson, Gina Taylor, Roz Morehead, Valarie Pettiford, Branice McKenzie, Linda Hopkins, Carol Woods, Lillias White, Dachone Rucker, Ramona Keller, Alison Williams Foster, Carla Scott, a couple casts of Showdown, and all the girls in a million casts of  Beehive!