25 Apr 11
Since mid-March, Where’s Eric! has been celebrating Derek And The Dominos and the 40th Anniversary Editions of Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs on whereseric.com. In the final installment, which coincides with the U.S. Release of the Super Deluxe Box Set on 26 April 2011, Bobby Whitlock is interviewed. One of the band’s creative forces along with Eric Clapton, he recently spoke at length with Where’s Eric! Web Content Editor Linda Wnek about the Dominos, the Layla album, Duane Allman, his autobiography and what he’s up to now.
Bobby Whitlock, born on 18 March 1948, was raised in Arkansas and Tennessee. He began his life-long career in music while still a teenager, playing on numerous sessions at Memphis’ Stax Studios. By 1967, Bobby moved to California to join the husband and wife duo Delaney & Bonnie and their band of “friends”. While the band was opening for Blind Faith’s US Tour, Bobby and the band met Eric Clapton and a friendship developed. A Delaney & Bonnie Tour of Germany, the UK and Scandinavia with EC followed near the end of the year. Afterwards, Delaney, Bonnie, Bobby and other friends helped Eric record his first solo album in late December 1969 and early 1970.
A few months later, Bobby went to England to visit Eric. From that visit, the groundbreaking band, Derek And The Dominos, was born. Eric and Bobby, along with Carl Radle and Jim Gordon, first helped George Harrison record his solo album, All Things Must Pass, in May and June 1970. The Dominos recorded their first single during these sessions but pulled it from distribution shortly after release. Soon after the All Things Must Pass sessions ended, the Dominos hit the road in the UK. By late August, they were in Miami’s Criteria Studios to record their first album. After the Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs sessions ended in September, the Dominos toured the US from October through December.
In January 1971, EC, Carl Radle, and Jim Gordon (along with George Harrison, Bobby Keys and Jim Price) helped Bobby record his first solo album. Sessions for the Dominos second album began that April. But by the end of May 1971, it was over for the Dominos. They broke up before they completed their sophomore effort.
In the years after the Dominos split, Bobby pursued his solo recording career. He even hosted his own television show in Ireland for a time. In the 80s and 90s, Bobby lived in Mississippi where he raised his family. He returned to music in 1999 with It’s About Time. On 25 April 2000, he was reunited with Eric Clapton on the BBC television show, Later With Jools Holland. During the broadcast, they performed one of Bobby’s new songs, "Southern Gentleman" along with the Dominos’ classic, "Bell Bottom Blues".
Today, Bobby lives in Texas with his wife and musical partner, CoCo Carmel. His most recent albums are Vintage, My Time and Metamorphosis. Bobby’s autobiography, co-written with Marc Roberty, was published by McFarland earlier this year.
The Where’s Eric! Interview: Bobby Whitlock with Linda Wnek
First of all, thanks for taking the time to speak with us, Bobby. It’s hard to believe that we’re celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Layla. Let’s start with something fun. What was your favorite song from the Layla album to perform live in the Dominos?
That’s a difficult call, Linda, because I love playing them all. But there are a few that stand out for different reasons. "Tell The Truth" is probably the best rock ‘n’ roll song that I have ever heard. Not just because Eric and I wrote it, but because it has all of the ingredients of what I term a classic. It’s raw, it’s simple, and it rocks! There is also meaning and purpose in the message of it as well.
What about now?
Now for me it’s "Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad". CoCo and I do it on our show every time we play. We do it acoustically and it is just as powerful if not more so than done plugged in. Also we do "Anyday", and it’s the same thing. All of the songs that Eric and I wrote are great songs, even when they’re stripped down to acoustics. The band is the added thing.
Let’s go back to 1970. What was it like inside Criteria Studios? Lots of fans have heard the jams, but even on the bootlegs, there’s no studio chatter. Was the mood super-serious and focused even between takes? You were all pretty young; did you ever cut up a bit?
Actually, we were there to take care of business. We cooled our heels at the hotel, but when we got to the studio it was focus time. We were there to play, not party. We did our partying when we were at the hotel, not at Criteria Recording Studios. We really enjoyed ourselves but that’s what we do when we play and sing. It’s never work or an arduous task. It’s an incredible feeling when everything starts flowing out of musicians who are as in tune with their source as we all were. We were all dialed in on the same channel.
You couldn’t have been super-serious all of the time. There had to be an occasion or two where you really let loose and let it fly …
Well, there was one time in France where we literally let it fly! We stayed at the home of the artist who painted the Layla cover, Frandsen de Schonberg. His son was named Emile and he was the one to welcome us and get us all settled in at the farm. It was a little traditional French stone farm house with an artist studio out in the back of the place. It really was a farm but had only chickens and ducks running around the grounds. No cattle or horses or any of the normal animals you would expect to find on a farm. The only animals there were us. We had gotten all settled in and the first night went by. We were to go to the event that next day but as we were walking out the door to go to the concert our road manager came in and told us that the stage and all of the equipment had been burned by a group of revolutionaries. They were protesting us and everyone else on the show. They probably wouldn’t have burned everything had they known that it wasn’t ours. It all belonged to their people. It was ok with us that the gig was off. We turned around at the door and walked back into the house. Kicked back in the front room and said, "What’s next?" Just about that time I walked into the kitchen at the exact moment to receive a fresh flying egg delivered by Eric! That’s when it all started. Carl wanted nothing to do with it and went into his room and closed the door. The kitchen table had a very large basket of fresh chicken and duck eggs in the middle of it. They were trying to make us feel welcome and at home. We were about to abuse that privilege to the max! Eric and I started pelting each other with the eggs and it was going everywhere! Jim jumped in on the fun and eggs were flying all over the house. We chased each other from room to room throwing chicken and duck eggs at one another. I remembered that Carl had elected to not engage in our little tirade and had gone to his room and closed the door. I snuck up real quiet like and opened his door and he was across the room reading a book. He was totally absorbed in it when I called his name. He looked up just at the exact moment to get it right in the forehead with a duck egg. It was just waay too funny! He jumped up and joined in and by this time the walls and floors and ceilings were all covered with egg. We depleted the basket rather quickly and Eric was just about to throw the last egg when in walked Emile. Eric was standing there with the "smoking egg" in hand. Caught in the act with egg on all of our faces! Guilty as sin! Emile seemed to not pay any attention to what we had done to his father’s house and said that we should not worry about it and that the housekeeper would clean everything up. He then asked for us to follow him to the art studio because he had gifts that his father had waiting for us all. Here we had trashed his home and he was giving us gifts! Talk about feeling a bit like a lowly snail. When we walked into the studio, there it was. The painting that would be the cover that everyone has come to know as Layla …
It seems Eric had a thing for tossing eggs as a similar thing happened when Cream were on the bill with The Who at the Murray The K shows in New York City! Getting back to the sessions, Duane Allman and Eric were such kindred spirits on guitar. The story of their meeting at the Allman Brothers’ Miami concert has become part of music lore. After the gig, both bands went back to Criteria. Three drummers (Jim Gordon, Butch Trucks, Jaimoe), two bass players (Carl Radle, Berry Oakley), you and Gregg Allman on keys, plus Eric and Duane. Can you tell us about that night?
It was mass confusion at first, but you’ve got to understand that it was very late in the evening and it went on until daybreak. I don’t remember any of the songs because they were jams. Great music was being played but it was all jamming and no vocals went down at all. We did a lot of hanging out and getting to know each other that evening as well. A very large time was had by all that evening. It was good fun getting to know them all.
Can you tell us about the song writing or completion process once you were in the studio? You and Eric already had a good number of songs done by the time you got to Florida …
Let me tell you about how one of the songs came together. The sessions started out with the four of us. Eric, Carl, Jim and me. Derek and the three Dominos. When we started the recording process we treated it the same way that we treated our live performances. No different. We always started out where ever we were with a jam or two. No matter if it was Royal Albert Hall or the Speakeasy. In the studio nothing changed in that department. We jammed before "I Looked Away", then into the song. Then we jammed before and into "Bell Bottom Blues". The third song was about to go down, so we did our usual jam and it was astounding! It had a groove like never before. Then suddenly Eric said, "Let me put another guitar on it!" He did as I was standing in the doorway of the control room and looking at him through the glass about eight feet away from me. The song ended and he said again, "Let me put another one on." He played the second over-dub without listening to the first one. When that was finished he said, "Let’s do another." He put the third guitar part on without listening to the other two over-dubs while he was recording. When that one was finished he said, "Just one more." Eric heard only the original guitar while he was doing the over-dubs. He could hear what he had already done in his head. When he was finished he got up and walked in and said, "Let’s hear what they all sound like together." It was amazing what we heard back. All of the guitars blended together as if they had been worked out long before the session. It was incredible standing there watching and listening to Eric the master at work. I felt like a fly on the wall. I thought that was a-kin to watching Rembrandt at work. What a very special moment for me. And now you all! When we had finished listening to it Tom said that it was going to the can because we didn’t have room on this record for an instrumental. I said to them, "Give me twenty minutes!" I took a yellow note pad and a pencil out into the foyer of Criteria and my relatively short life fell out of me, words and melody and all, so fast that I could hardly get them down on the paper. When I was finished I went back into the studio where Eric and Tom had been waiting in the control room for me to finish. The mike was there waiting for me, so I walked up to it and started to sing the song. I got half way through the first verse when I stopped it and said to Eric, "Hey man come on out here and let’s do our Sam and Dave thing to it." Eric came out and we did it first run through. First take! That was it! And the song "Keep On Growing" had been born.
Listening to audience recordings from the UK tour, the four of you were so locked into each other. The music was incredibly organic and the band was more than ready for the studio. What did Duane bring to the table? I’m stepping on pretty mythic stuff even asking this. Do you think he was really needed to take the Dominos to the next level?
We were already at that next level. What Duane did was give us a little more structure. He was from a structured situation band-wise. Pretty much everything in the Allman Brothers Band was and still is structured. We were a sophisticated rock ‘n’ roll band without limitations. But when Duane came to our sessions he brought the same leadership quality that Eric had. The two of them together was more than magical. It was mystical. They were on the same plane at the same level of understanding. They jelled as one fluid entity. The creative principle was at work at all times throughout the whole recording process.
In your recent Facebook interview with Roch Parisien you said, “Duane never ventured outside of the box. Eric never ventured into it.” Can you elaborate on that?
Certainly. Eric played entirely free form and out of the box. He was not structured in the sense of everything always being the same every time. It was constantly changing. Just like the drawbars on my B3. Always changing to suit the need of the moment. All of us moved together, kind of like a flock of birds in the sky. We would all go the same direction at the same time. The left hand always inherently knew what the right hand was doing. We listened to each other. We were all in tune with each other’s sensibilities and trusted one another musically explicitly.
When Duane was with us in the studio everything was structured. It worked in the studio but it didn’t translate on the live stage. Duane simply couldn’t keep up when Eric took off flying. His playing was the same as he had played with his band. The same licks and approaches that he used on other songs. I believe it was "Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out" that he had done previously with his band when they were the Allman Joys. He played the exact same licks on our record as he played on his several years before with the Allman Joys. That’s inside the box. The only licks that Eric plays consistently are the signature licks for the song. Example, “Layla”. He plays those famous seven notes and then he is off flying! You can’t fly in a box.
What was Tom Dowd’s role? As the album producer, did he give the band a lot of direction?
When we went in the first day, Tom walked out into the studio and handed us all pieces of paper with numbers and chords written down on it. I turned to Eric and said, "What the hell is this?" He said that they were song charts. I said that we needed to have a little pow-wow. Eric and I decided that Tom should stay on the other side of the glass and make sure that the tapes were rolling. We wrote these songs and had been playing them out on the road already and we certainly didn’t need someone telling us how they should go. Also, I was to be the one to tell him. We were the producers of our record and he was to be the executive producer. Tom’s role was to make sure that everything went down on tape and to keep them rolling whenever anybody in the band was in the studio. I remembered George [Harrison] and Phil [Spector] recording the jams for George’s All Things Must Pass record and suggested to Eric that we keep the tapes rolling. It was only tape anyway. Had we not, those great jams wouldn’t be here now. Tom was a very gracious man and understood and agreed with us and complied with our request.
What’s your favorite memory from the Criteria sessions?
When we had finished the recording process and were doing the very last over-dubs, Eric said to me, "We have room for one more song. Why don’t you do "Thorn Tree in the Garden?" A man with a load of guitars had arrived earlier and Eric picked out the orange guitar that you see on the inside sleeve of the Layla record cover just for the outro of "Layla". He said that it had a certain sound that he was looking for and that that guitar sound was it for the part. It was a very short part in the song as well. He picked out a Martin D35 and started to play it and asked me what I thought of the sound. I said that it sounded great and he said to me, "It’s yours." He had said that to me a few months earlier with the Porsche. We went into the studio room and recorded "Thorn Tree in the Garden". Tom had us all in a circle around an omni-directional mic. I was sitting on a stool with my new Martin D35 and Eric was to my left sitting on a stool with his Martin D45 and Jim was next to him playing a little bell. Carl was standing to the left of Jim and his amp was way across the room. He played a pedal note. Duane sat straight across from me. We did a run through and Tom came out and made a mic adjustment. We did it first take. The end of the record.
Where did you guys stay in Miami while recording the album? Everyone knows Eric lived at 461 Ocean Boulevard when he went back to record a solo album at Criteria a few years later…
We stayed at the Thunderbird Motel on the strip right on Miami Beach. It was for sure not a five star place either. Pink flamingos and a flashing neon sign that read VACANCY.
At least it was on the beach! Speaking of less than five-star, isn’t Criteria in a pretty odd and funky area? All warehouses and factories in a fairly rundown area of Miami? That doesn’t sound conducive to making music so the interior environment must be pretty inviting and rich in atmosphere?
The studio room that we recorded in was the big one. It had a large carousel at the back wall for the drums. A grand piano on the far wall and a Hammond B3 sitting next to it. The room had thirty foot ceilings and was only just finished and had hopsack on the walls. The control room had egg cartons on the walls as sound proofing. I am sure that you have seen photos of funky studios with egg cartons on the walls. A cheap but very effective way of soundproofing a control room in the initial building process. No-one but James Brown had recorded in it until we did. In the fold out of the Layla record you can see a gold album on the wall that I am walking by and I am wearing yellow pants. That’s the James Brown gold record and the first and only gold record in the place. There were bean bag chairs in the control room for us to sit on, and there was a row of old airplane seats in the studio for us to sit on. It really wasn’t all done out as I’m sure it is today. It was a very creative atmosphere. Warm and inviting.
Did you work in just one room of the studio the entire time, or did you use different ones as the need arose?
We did everything in the one room, Studio A. Sam the Sham was in the small room recording at the same time as we were recording. He and I go back a long way.
Today, the Layla album is widely regarded as one of the masterpieces of modern music. When it was released in December 1970, it didn’t do too much at first. Were you surprised? What do you think made the public finally wake up to it?
We were disappointed but not surprised. When we were on tour our record was behind us everywhere we went. There was no product for the band to promote and not everyone knew who we were. We were ahead of our record and ahead of our time. There was a DJ in Nashville who started playing it a lot. I can’t remember his name but I have met him. He showed me his gold 45 record of Layla. I thanked him for playing it and told him that his persistence paid off for the world. Kind of like Dewey Philips playing "That’s Alright Now Mama" 48 hours straight. That’s what made Elvis a star.
For the 40th Anniversary Editions, you were asked to complete “Got To Get Better In A Little While,” from the Dominos’ second album sessions. How did you approach finishing it? Is the result what you envisioned then?
With the gusto of fourteen hound dogs in heat! It is exactly the way I wanted to do it all those years ago. Only now it is even better because I have had forty years to think about it.
In terms of other material from the second album sessions, things like “Chocolate” and “Sick At Heart”, is any of it worth revisiting for release or best where it is – in the vault – as it’s nothing more than early backing tracks and loose song ideas?
I think if the material was worth releasing that it would have happened already. Not everything is for the public to hear though. At least not while we’re still around. I am sure that the music is great. There would be no way for it to be any other way. But incomplete fragments are not pleasant to sit down and casually listen to. At least not for me.
Let’s talk about the Dominos’ live concerts. Touring then was certainly a lot different than it is now. How did you guys get from show to show?
We never did have any limos but except for maybe a couple of times. Mostly we rented a car at the airport and our road manager drove us to the hotel and to the gig. Or we would simply get a cab at the airport. We didn’t stay in luxury hotels when we were on the road with the Dominos. It was a rock ‘n’ roll tour, not a luxury trip of the states. We stayed in some nice places and we stayed in some funky places. We were out there to play, not stay. I’ll tell you right now that it was a lot of fun and a lot of hard work.
Young bands hitting the road today still stay in some pretty funky places and travel rough. The one place where they have an advantage is with PA systems and monitors. Both were still pretty primitive in 1970. Was it tough to hear each other or did you also really have to keep your eyes on each other for signals to see where things were headed? The type of room you were playing in was changing nightly, too. The Dominos played everything from music clubs to small theaters and college gyms so the acoustics had to be wildly different. You probably needed some clues from each other … or was completely instinctual?
I always kept my eyes on Eric when we were singing. That way I knew when he was coming in and out and I could easily follow him and what and when he was singing. Keep your eye on the ball in a manner of speaking. I got my cues from watching Eric. And Jim Gordon. I am a very rhythmic player and he and I really worked well together. I could play off of his drumming because I had and have an understanding of drumming as I was that first in my life as a player. That’s what I really wanted to be, a drummer. But everyone needed me as an organ player! Thank God!
Hearing one another!? It was impossible for me to hear my piano. The miking techniques were quite different in those days. I can hardly believe that I am saying such a thing. “In those days” … my how time flies!
The Dominos toured the UK before Layla was even recorded and the US before it was released. How did you come up with the set list? Were changes ever made in the midst of a gig?
We talked about what we wanted to start with and that really was about it. We flowed. Once the show started the music would change with the mood of the room and the band. Eric just might start off with a real slow version of "Tell The Truth” and then speed it up. We never really knew what we were going to do. We just had to be ready for anything because things were constantly changing.
What do you remember about the audiences?
All of our audiences were great! They all appreciated us as a group and there was a feeling of approval from them all as to what Eric was doing. Everyone seemed to recognize that point in time for Eric as a period of growing.
One of the interesting things is that "Layla" was only performed a very few times on the US Tour, yet it went on to become the band’s most enduring song. It seems strange in hindsight that it wasn’t in the set all during the US dates especially as it gave name to the album …
Actually we did do it when Duane came to play Tampa at the Curtis Hixon Hall. I don’t really know why we never did it live except for a handful of times. We did it also when he sat in with us in upper state New York. It was probably because we had just done it with Duane and two slides and Eric’s parts. It was a pretty full sound to try and recreate with the four of us. But really it would not have been a problem because Eric had both parts covered. It would have been done sans piano for sure.
Your answer actually leads to a two-parter. If you go back and listen to the audience recording of Duane when he sat in, he’s out of tune. How the heck did that happen? Couldn’t one of you have said after a song, “Duane, you’re out of tune!” and have a roadie get him a different guitar?
By the time the song goes by its waaay too late for talking about tuning his guitar. That was his department. It very well may have not been a matter of the guitar being in tune at all. It may have been that Duane was a bit out of tune himself. He may not have been listening to himself and was trying too hard to make something happen when it already was. In Zen archery the archer doesn’t let the arrow go. He draws back his bow and holds it until his inner self releases the shaft. The target is already hit in his mind’s eye. He just has to stay out of the way of what has already happened.
A good number of fans hold the opinion that "Layla" is a stronger song without the piano coda. And we know from interviews with Tom Dowd that he had a tough time matching the two parts up. Doesn’t that piece actually go back to the Delaney & Bonnie days?
I agree with those fans and critics. The original single did not have it and it was great without it. When we played it the two times that we did it was sans piano. That piano part in my opinion has nothing to do with this song that Eric wrote entirely himself. It’s about his experience. Not Jim’s! Jim took that piano melody from his ex-girlfriend Rita Coolidge. I know because in the D&B days I lived in John Garfield’s old house in the Hollywood Hills and there was a guest house with an upright piano in it. Rita and Jim were up there in the guest house and invited me to join in on writing this song with them called "Time". I didn’t hear it as rock ‘n’ roll and bowed out of the little songwriting session. Her sister Priscilla wound up recording it with Booker T. Jones. I still don’t think that it’s rock ‘n’ roll and really has no place on Eric’s incredibly soul on the line for the world to hear song about his world and his experience. Jim took the melody from Rita’s song and didn’t give her credit for writing it. Her boyfriend ripped her off. I knew but nobody would listen to or believe me. I have told this story for years. That piano coda taints the integrity of this incredibly beautiful song. It has no place on it.
Guess it begs the question, why was it added on?
That was ultimately Eric’s decision, but I think that it was because Jim kept going on and on about writing songs, and that he had no songs on the records and we did. He couldn’t write a song! He was not that place where they flowed. Eric and I were. Jim was too self-consumed. You have to be a clear channel for songs to flow through you, not invent them in your head. Keith Richards says that he is an antenna. A receiver that pick up on what is already out there in the ether. You have to be a clear transparency for it to flow through. Jim Gordon was not that channel or transparency. It was probably added just to shut Jim up. Eric was a gentleman and tried to please everyone. The part works if you like it. I think "Layla" rocks without a piano on it. CoCo and I do our version and it is a great rendition of it. It’s laid back and soulful in the beginning verse then picks up for the chorus, then lays back in the verse and rocks back again on the chorus and the fade rocks steady for four minutes with smoking guitars. Sort of a combination of both versions that Eric did.
When do you think the Dominos reached their live performance peak? Does a particular concert in the UK or US stand out?
The New York City Fillmore concerts were the most outstanding. And too, the very last show that we did was killer! I just listened to thirty plus bootlegs and this show was one of them and I can tell you that it was smoking! The band was real tight and we were all excited about it being the last show. Turns out it was.
There’s nothing like heading home after a long tour. Do you have any favorite bootlegs? You know there’s one from the Dominos’ last show at Suffolk Community College?
I have about thirty bootlegs and the Suffolk College gig is one of them. Initially I had about fifty or so. When I started writing my book I decided that if there is going to be a somebody who knows about Derek and the Dominos it had better be me. I hadn’t ever gone back and listened to everything that I have done. I tried to keep moving forward. When this book thing came about I took about fifteen of them and put them in my driver side door of my Merc. Every time that I would get in I would listen until the CD was finished. If I was back at home I would stop it and pick it back up the next time that I got in my car . When one was finished I put it in the passenger side door as a already listened to door. I would write about every song as I listened to it and when I got back home from my ride to the store. I eventually went through all fifty or so from the first through to the last. The whole US tour warts and all! It was an incredible experience and it is no wonder that everyone still loves that band. We were GREAT!
Everyone knows that the New York City Fillmore concerts were recorded for the live album. Bill Levenson, who compiled the 20th and 40th Anniversary releases, has found an empty tape box for the August 1970 Marquee gig with a track list, but has never been able to locate the actual tape. Do you recall any other shows being professionally recorded?
I didn’t even know that we had been recorded in New York. So the answer is no.
Any funny stories from the road?
We were coming back from up north in England somewhere; I think that it was Nottingham. But we were on the train and had a first class private suite. It looked like it was right out of the Wild, Wild West. Brass and burgundy crushed velvet seats and velvet curtains. It had its own private bath as well. A very nice way to travel. Jim and Carl were by the door and Eric and I were riding facing each other next to the window. We had been talking about our usual gig, cars and guitars thing while Eric was reading a book. I don’t know what possessed him but Eric suddenly got up and reached in the overhead and grabbed Jim’s only bag and opened the window and threw it out. Mind you we’re doing 120mph and when the wind got it exploded! Clothes went everywhere! Eric sat back down and started reading his book as if nothing had happened. Jim freaked!
Your autobiography came out a few months ago. It has to be filled with stories like this and the one about the original Layla painting. How’s the book doing?
It has twenty-six Five Star Reviews on Amazon and is in its fifth printing. It sold out three times before the release date!
You wrote it with Marc Roberty, who’s written several books and is considered to be THE expert on Eric Clapton. Since Marc’s based in England, was it done all by phone and email? Or, did you guys actually meet up at some point?
It was all email and telephone. We were in contact 24/7 for about 19 months. I knew what Marc looked like before I ever saw his picture. You can ask him. I didn’t see his photo for months and months. I told him one day that I could see him in my mind’s eye. I described him and then he sent his picture. He is exactly as I described him. About 6’3′ and fair haired and a suave and good looking English gentleman. I was spot on!
What was the best part of writing it?
Putting the brakes on. We went past the ending which I will not reveal, but there were six or seven stories that kept getting deleted for one reason or the other. Suddenly the ending was there after the rest had been removed. We sort of cleared the field and revealed the ending. It was already there. We had to do nothing. There it was.
These next two questions are submitted now and again to Where’s Eric!, so I’m going to take advantage and “ask the expert.” Was Dave Mason really a Domino? He played on “Roll It Over”, the first single’s B-side, but there’s always been some debate as to what his actual role in the band was, if any …
Dave was never really a Domino. He rehearsed with us and did the Dr. Spock concert but the next day he left to pursue his own career.
Carl Radle and Jim Gordon. Best rock rhythm section of all time?
Without a shadow of doubt! Jim Gordon was the very best drummer that there was then. He raised the bar so high that no-one will ever reach it. Jim was at his zenith and so was rock steady Carl.
Can you share some memories of Carl? What was he like?
Carl was a quiet and very private man. I never saw him with any partner. He never had another girlfriend after he left that one in California when we first started Delaney & Bonnie. He was a loner. I was always up bright and early knocking on everyone’s doors and generally being a live wire. I was just full of life and was excited about it. One day I went to bang on Carl’s door and it was not closed properly. It didn’t close all the way. I figured that was my calling card to walk right on in and I did. There was Carl laid up in the bed with six women! Three on one side and three on the other! I stood there stunned with my mouth dropped open and then I started applauding him. I turned and left the doorway and closed it behind me. Carl was a silent raver!
What’s on the horizon for you? Do you have any plans to go into the studio and record new material?
CoCo and I are finishing our eighth CD here at home in our studio. It is the very best recording that we have ever done. She is the consummate producer / engineer. Not to mention singer, sax player, guitar player and photographer and just about any other thing that she decides to do.
If people want to catch you and CoCo performing, where can they do that?
There’s a place here in Austin, Texas called The Saxon Pub that we perform at every week for an hour set. It is the best listening room in the state of Texas. We have used it as a platform to hone our show and new songs. We have got our bones together at that place. It’s a very intimate room that holds about 125 people and has great sound, stage and lighting. We do it with just the two of us. CoCo and I make one.
Any plans outside of Texas?
We would love to come back to England. That place is still my home at heart. And my heart is still there in England.
One last question, I read recently that you got your original Hammond B3 Organ back?
Yes, I had been trying for forty years to buy it back from the guy in Memphis that had it and he wouldn’t get up off of it for love or money. I tried the money thing and it didn’t work. He said to go on and get that car that I wanted. This was in 1989. About six months ago he contacted me and asked if I wanted my old Hammond back. I immediately said YES! it’s in the front room now and we have put it on everything on our new CD. It’s the finest Hammond B3 in the world. It was the organ that I learned to play on in 1966.
Bobby, thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us. Continued success with your book. All of us at Where’s Eric! are really looking forward to hearing your new album with CoCo when it gets released.
[Linda Wnek began writing for and contributing photographs to Where’s Eric! Magazine in 1994. In 1999, she joined the magazine’s Editorial Team and now also serves as the Web Content Editor for whereseric.com. She is a radio industry veteran working at sister-stations 77 WABC and 95.5 WPLJ in New York City.]
Copyright 2011 – Where’s Eric! All rights reserved. Article cannot be reproduced in whole or in part without permission.
Whereseric.com’s Derek And The Dominos / Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs Celebration Articles:
Dominos Shows Every Clapton Fan Should Know
From Blind Faith To Derek And The Dominos: 16 Pivotal Months In Eric Clapton’s Career
BBC Radio 2: Johnnie Walker’s Sounds Of The 70s Celebrates Layla’s 40th
Layla: Forty Years On – Listen To The Radio Special On The WE! Website
New Derek And The Dominos 7" Single For Record Store Day 2011
Layla’s 40th: The Where’s Eric! Interview With Bill Levenson
Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs: 40th Anniversary Editions Due This Month (with preview video animation)
Don’t forget … even the forthcoming issue of Where’s Eric! Magazine (#42) will be getting in on the Layla action with a series of exclusive articles on Derek And The Dominos and their classic album. Want to know more about Where’s Eric! Magazine and learn how to subscribe? CLICK HERE
Bobby Whitlock’s official website is www.bobbywhitlockandcococarmel.com. You can also keep up with Bobby on his official Facebook page. His recently published autobiography, Bobby Whitlock: A Rock ‘N Roll Autobiography, co-written with Marc Roberty, is available from these retailers:
Amazon – UK
Amazon – US
Amazon – Canada
Amazon – Germany
Amazon – France
Amazon – Japan
From the publisher, McFarland & Company
Bobby Whitlock’s recordings with Eric Clapton:
Delaney & Bonnie & Friends: On Tour with Eric Clapton (1970)
Eric Clapton: Eric Clapton (1970)
George Harrison: All Things Must Pass (1970)
Derek And The Dominos: Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs (1970)
Derek And The Dominos: In Concert (1973)
Derek And The Dominos: The Layla Sessions: 20th Anniversary Edition (1990)
Derek And The Dominos: Live at the Fillmore (1994)
Derek And The Dominos: Layla 40th Anniversary Editions (2011)
Bobby Whitlock Solo Discography:
Bobby Whitlock (1972)
Raw Velvet (1972)
One of a Kind (1975)
Rock Your Sox Off (1976)
It’s About Time (1999)
My Time (2009)
Bobby Whitlock & CoCo Carmel Discography:
Other Assorted Love Songs: Live from Whitney Chapel (2003)
Lovers The Master Demos (2009)
Territories outside of North America, including the U.K., saw the release of all digital and physical 40th Anniversary Layla Editions the week of 21 March 2011. All versions were released in Canada on 29 March. The U.S. had staggered release dates from 29 March. On that date, all digital versions, the single CD remaster, and the two LP vinyl became available at all music retailers. Additionally, Best Buy had the double CD deluxe edition as a one month exclusive from that date. From 26 April, the super-deluxe box is available at all U.S. retailers along with the double CD set.