l will never forget the first
phone call I got from Etta James — “Hey man, this is Etta James, I heard some good things about you. I’m putting together a new full time band, I got a new label and I’m looking for a blues guitarist. I got a gig in New York and few tours lined up. Are you interested?”
It was the phone call I always wanted. I blurted out yes, immediately. It was 1988 and at that time I lived in Oakland, CA. A few minutes into the conversation, I realized that I owed the county 90 days for some self inflicted stupid @#$% and I wasn’t going to be able to do the date, I had already been sentenced for what was a misdemeanor which could easily become a felony. I told her the truth, knowing that I had blown the gig that always wanted. (I had played with a lot of blues and soul artists at this time such as Albert Collins, Johnny ’Guitar’ Watson, Charlie Musselwhite, Johnnie Taylor, Mark Naftalin from the Butterfield Blues Band, Little Milton, Carla Thomas, Otis Rush, Buddy Guy and Junior Wells, Percy Mayfield, John Lee Hooker, the Sweet Inspirations and quite a few more.) Etta is who I always wanted to play with. After I told her that I was sentenced to 90 says, she got quiet for what seemed to be an eternity.
“Ninety days, huh?” I said eighty with good behavior. Another pause from Etta. Then she said, “You can do ninety days standing on your head, I’ll call when you get out.” She did and that gig lasted for 23 years, until she passed in 2012. Etta helped me get into rehab a few years back and this is a song about that. I moved to Detroit in 1996 and this song — written primarily by my wife, is about my experience with Etta. Etta gave me a chance, I try to remember that.
I miss her very much. I still play and have a band — mostly locally. I am going to be busy for a couple days but I will respond to comments and questions. This tune by Etta was featured on The Sopranos, I’m playing lead guitar on it. Thanks for letting me go on.