Who said it first I don’t know. It could have been Homer or Moses; sounds just like them. But it’s true. Even the Stones are the living doomed. As for the rest of the old bands who in some form still exist, please go home. You ruin your best songs. Nay, do not protest, ye fans of persistent remembrance. Any songs they haven’t killed yet will be put to sleep next summer at Red Rocks.
Naturally, The Slumlords were doomed too. I don’t remember exactly how it happened but I do remember that Nicky and I were chomping to play more of a Heartbreakers/Dolls style. (You are shocked to learn.) I think Nicky and Andy had a fight. Definitely, Billy Dick was out of control freebasing coke. He had to go no matter what. When the CBGB album thing fell through I took it hard, having built everything up in my mind with Kramdenesque ludicrousness. I remember talking to Andy, and that the split was amicable. My attitude was “we gave it a shot so let’s do something else.”
Nicky knew a guitar player from Sheepshead Bay, Harold Richland. Harold was already a blues master, much more a soloist than a punk. He blew everyone away with his screaming speed riffs. Nowadays Harold is Calvin B Streets the Brooklyn Bluesman, operating out of LA. This is a long video but if you start at 12:00, Harold talks about The Sinatras and plays some acoustic blues, and he can still fly.
And Calvin understood rocknroll, and he could write songs. He had a few, and I had a few new ones, and Nicky would sing words to me and I would arrange them into songs. Plus we all wanted to play some covers. Harold quickly grasped that economy was essential to the concept, and I think that made him much better – he could still whale but he had to be concise and that’s always good.
But we still didn’t have a bass player. We thought we did, first a kid from Pelham named Anthony, who was just learning bass but he was learning fast and learning the right way. Until one day he told me he didn’t “want to do it anymore.” I think it was the dead body we found in the stairwell of our rehearsal studio, scared him off. Only the guy wasn’t dead, EMS revived him after Harold dialed 911. We actually followed his blood trail until we turned the corner and there he was, lying fetal with bloody newspaper all over the place. Nicky wrote a song about it, all I remember is one line about the blood – “I thought it was rat shit, nobody cares.” I think I’ll resurrect it.
You might remember in the Heartbreakers piece that one of my friends that night at the Village Gate said “I’ll manage you.” That was Kenny Lamb. Kenny is the Whiz Kid, skipped his senior year of high school to go to Notre Dame on a 4-year free ride. Which he did, and when he graduated he was immediately hired as a chemical engineer for 80k, a fortune in those days. Kenny had money and Kenny believed, so one night he says “How about I pay for the three of you to go into the studio, and you overdub the bass?” I said sure. Nicky and Harold were ecstatic.
Kenny chose A-1 Sound on Broadway, upstairs from the Beacon Theater. A good studio, not the Record Plant but a good 16-track in those pre-digital days. I liked it right away, especially the little Fender Princeton amp that absolutely cranked. We played live in the studio with baffles, in a pretty big room. We cut four songs, three of ours and a cover of Pipeline with a different bridge that we wrote ourselves. I still have the master tape for all the good it does me. Here’s a live version of one song, actually two versions, from two sets at Max’s:
Peter Crowley of Max’s called us “the workingman’s Heartbreakers,” a compliment I cherish cuz that’s what we were aiming at.
I hate this album BTW. It was not one of our better nights, among other reasons because every time my lips touched the mike they got a massive electrical shock. What a surprise! Ten seconds into the set! And the bass player, that’s another story.