This was a big week for deaths. David Bowie, of course, but also baseball great Monte Irvin, terrific actor Alan Rickman, and scroogie throwing Luis Arroyo, whose best season was the year I totally fell in love with baseball. Which is, I think, why I said, oh no, when he showed up in the obits.
Giorgio Gomelsky was in those same pages today, and you can read William Grimes’ excellent obit for him here. I bring nothing to this except the desire to highlight a few facts and link to a few of the many odd bands that Gomelsky worked with over the years.
The biggest ones were the Rolling Stones. He gave them their first paying gig at the Crawdaddy Club. They each took home almost a buck, which is better than many bands today. Jagger’s School of Economics savvy kicks in for sure.
But he lost the Stones to the droogie Andrew Loog Oldham, so he signed up the Yardbirds. Well done!
One of the cool details from Giorgio’s life is that he was born on a boat going from Odessa, Ukraine, to Genoa, Italy.
Google maps does not offer a boat option for transportation, but this is not an easy trip.
The most surprising fact in Giorgio’s obit is that he gave Eric Clapton the Slowhand nickname.
I had always assumed that it was because Clapton is so dexterous that he made fast playing look slow. That’s what I thought. But no!
Here’s the real story, from Grimes’ obit:
“Mr. Gomelsky also gave Eric Clapton, the group’s original lead guitarist, his nickname. Mr. Clapton told The Daily Mail in 2013: “I used light-gauge strings, with a very thin first string, which made it easier to bend the notes, and it was not uncommon, during frenetic bits of playing, for me to break at least one string, While I was changing my strings, the audience would often break into a slow hand clap, inspiring Giorgio to dream up the nickname of Slowhand Clapton.””
Incredible, no? To me, yes.
But Giorgio went on to better things. I’m sorry that I had no idea about his Tonka Wonka Mondays at Tramps. Brave mix ups of rock and jazz musicians willing to jam should have been a natural for me, but I missed it. This was the bar/club that gave Buster Poindexter a regular showcase, and where I got to see Big Joe Turner live, huger in some ways than seeing the Stones in ’73 at the Garden.
But I digress. The cool thing about Gomelsky, at least according to his own words in his obit, is that he had no eye on a music career, but merely wanted to make things right. I like that impulse.
Here’s a few clips from folks he worked with. But read the obit. I wish more lives like his were memorialized.
This clip is really great. I’m posting more Magma soon. Wow.
Fred Frith’s band, Henry Cow, covers a Phil Ochs song.