Obit: Guitarist Sandy Bull has passed (1941-2001)
Subject: OBIT: Sandy Bull has passed|
From: LR Mole
Date: 19 Apr 01 - 10:09 AM
Sandy Bull, a groundbreaking folk player who was into sitar/eastern tonalities/drones at a time many of us were deciding on which singer songwriter to follow (and imitate), died last week. Never a major showbiz "stah", he was hugely influential, and seems to have returned to the spheres beyond.
Subject: RE: Sandy Bull has passed|
Date: 19 Apr 01 - 01:11 PM
(For everybody that tried to sound or tried to play like him back in the sixties, here is the OBIT, snatched from the SF Chron website)
No Bull Remembering the father of multicultural fusion, guitarist Sandy Bull
by Derk Richardson, special to SFGate Thursday, April 19, 2001
When Sandy Bull died last week at the age of 60 at his home in Franklin, Tenn., the music world lost a true pioneer of multicultural fusion.
The guitarist had been out of the limelight for several years,battling the cancer that ultimately took his life April 11. But his legacy lives on in the spirit of any music that attempts to blend American folk and jazz with the idioms of world and classical music.
Indeed, "Blend" was the title of the epic 1963 22-minute improvisation Bull recorded with jazz drummer Billy Higgins, then best-known for his work with Ornette Coleman. Included on his first album for the Vanguard label, Fantasias For Guitar And Banjo, and inspired by the droning polyphonies of bagpipes and the flowing modal structures of Indian and Arabic music, "Blend" became the first underground anthem of "psychedelic folk."
"Blend" appears on the 1999 compilation, Re-Inventions: Best of the Vanguard Years, an essential compendium of Bull's early innovations. Other tracks show that Bull was an early experimenter with two-track overdubbing, as well: He played guitar, oud (the 11-string Middle Eastern lute) and electric bass on Luiz Bonfa's "Manha de Carnival" and plucked banjo inaddition to oud and guitar on Guillaume de Machaut's 14th-century "Triple Ballade."
Bull's genre-defying cross-cultural blends garnered the awe and admiration of fellow musicians. Traffic's psychedelic experiments were partially inspired by "Blend," according to Steve Winwood. Brian Setzer told the Tennessean after Bull's death, "He turned me on to a lot of instruments I'd never heard of before, and he incorporated that into organic-sounding music." In 1972, poet-rocker Patti Smith wrote about her admiration for Bull a review for the New York Metropolitan Journal: "Even at its most 'cosmic,' [Bull's album Demolition Derby] is still sleazy ... juicy ... American. Yeah it's a real cool record."
Drawing From a World of Musical Influences
Born in New York City in 1941, Bull was exposed to a wide range of music by his divorced parents. As a child living with his father in Florida, he listened to Hank Williams, African drumming and "safari movie" soundtracks. Later, as an adolescent living in New York with his mother (a harpist who called her cabaret act "From Bach to Boogie-Woogie"), he adopted her expansive musical tastes.
Classical choral music, the pop standards of Jerome Kern, the folk songs of Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly and the gospel-R&B of Ray Charles and the Staple Singers all insinuated themselves into Bull's musical consciousness.
A guitar player from the age of 8 and a banjo picker at 13 (learning from Erik Darling of the Weavers), Bull also briefly studied composition, bass and voice at Boston University before he dropped out to become a performing musician in New York City.
In the early '60s, Wavy Gravy, then known as stand-up comedian Hugh Romney, masterminded a show called "The Phantom Cabaret" with Bull and Tiny Tim at the Living Theater in Manhattan. "I remember when he used to play Bach on the banjo at the Gaslight in Greenwich Village, and blow people's minds," the perennial countercultural clown and legendary Woodstock master of ceremonies said in a phone interview earlier this week. "Sandy was an extension of those instruments. His blood didn't stop at his body; it went into the oud and the guitar."
Bull took up the oud after he met Nubian master musician Hamza El Din through a mutual friend in Rome in the early '60s. According to El Din, the next time they saw each other was on Fifth Avenue in New York City; Bull was carrying an oud. El Din needed a place to stay to finish his own first album for the Vanguard label, and he ended up rooming with Bull for nearly five years. "We recorded our albums -- Sandy's Inventions and my Al Oud -- in that apartment," El Din said in a phone conversation after returning to the Bay Area from Bull's memorial service in Tennessee.
"He was just like a brother for me," explained El Din, who received news of Bull's death five days after learning that his own brother had died in Egypt. "We were very much in tune. We had a very exciting time together. As a musician, he was very much ahead of his time with what is called now 'world music.' Much before 'world music' was invented, he was playing indigenous instruments from other cultures or playing different cultures' music on his own Western instruments."
Fans Alienated by his Experiments
Like his contemporary, the recently deceased John Fahey, Bull explored a unique musical universe. But although Bull ran in the same social circles as the Greenwich Village folkies and California acid-rockers, he was marginalized by his experimentalism and individualism.
Bull cut four albums for Vanguard between 1963 and 1972. After that, despite kicking a heroin addiction in 1974 and opening shows for Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue in 1975, he suffered a long hiatus in his recording career. Record labels shied away from his eclecticism and early fans had a hard time keeping up as Bull injected his music with the same restlessness he brought to his life: A literal wanderer, he played his music on the streets of Paris and spent time in London, Cairo, San Francisco and Los Angeles. "I tried to go places where other people weren't going," says a quote from Bull in the liner notes to Re-Inventions, "just because I wanted to build something of my own. ... I kept trying to do different sounding records, and I'm sure I left a lot of fans behind as a result."
Bull re-emerged in 1988 with a typically diverse recording, Jukebox School of Music, which featured his entire arsenal of instruments, including pedal steel guitar and sarod, which he had learned from Indian master Ali Akbar Khan in the mid-'70s.
Bull released another album, Vehicles, in 1991, featuring Senegalese percussionist Aiyb Dieng, drummer Bernard Purdie, the horn-playing Brecker Brothers and pianist Hilton Ruiz. Then, after settling in Tennessee in 1992, Bull started his own label, Timeless Recording Society, and issued a vocal CD, Steel Tears, in 1996. In 1998, he contributed a sarod solo to the song "Bastard Nation" on Kevin Welch's album, Beneath My Wheels.
To the end, Bull retained a masterful touch on his instruments. He always paid attention to the details of dynamics and ornamentation. He emphasized emotional nuance over the technical flash that has preoccupied rock fans since Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimi Hendrix came on the scene in the late '60s.
According to El Din, who spoke with Bull two days before he passed away, the guitarist had finished enough material in his home studio for two or three more albums. Until those recordings find their way to market, the best representation of Bull's vision remains the eight impeccably remastered tracks of Re-Inventions.
Although recorded between 1962 and 1973, that work sounds like it comes from a different century. It could be the 19th or the 22nd, as it blazes a trail through global cultures in the singular fashion perfected by Sandy Bull.
Subject: RE: Sandy Bull has passed|
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 19 Apr 01 - 01:24 PM
We had 2 threads running with the same subject. This is the other announcement and a followup post
Subject: Sandy Bull has died
This morning's SF chronicle at http:www.sfgate.com has an obit for Sandy Bull.
I haven't heard his name in years. Quite an inventive player.
Subject: RE: Sandy Bull has died
I recently picked up "Re-Inventions" and was thrilled. His albums had been long lost, after wearing the grooves thin in the early 70's. I thought he had disappeared, too, until I found that CD. At a time when most of us we're plodding along, struggling to squeeze something exciting out of mere guitars, he was soaring on (seemingly)anything with strings.
Like John Fahey, who was also recently lost to this realm, he was way far ahead of us, smiling and pointing the way. 30 years later I am still not skilled enough to follow. Que lastima.
Subject: Sandy Bull?|
From: GUEST,Wa BanZhou
Date: 10 Mar 02 - 03:17 PM
Does anyone know anything about the career/ music of Sandy Bull, a very creative guitarist who recorded two albums of non conventional music in the sixties and nothing since?
Subject: RE: Sandy Bull?|
From: Justa Picker
Date: 10 Mar 02 - 03:20 PM
Look in the dictionary under ecelctic, and there ought to be a picture of Sandy Bull. Long before Paul Simon visited Graceland, before the term world music was a twinkling in some journo's eye, Bull was there doing it. His Vanguard albums from the Sixties - Fantasias for Guitar and Banjo (1963), Inventions (1965), and E Pluribus Unum (1968) were virtual blueprints for what was to come, Bull playing guitars electric and acoustic, bass, banjo, and oud, Cuisinarting cultures and styles, from Indian to jazz in a way that hadn't been heard before. Think of him as an American Davy Graham (for whom he subbed at an English gig in 1966); it's not too far off the mark.
By rights he should be as revered as Graham; among musicians his influence is every bit as widespread. But even in the United States his isn't exactly a widely-known name. Isn't that always the way with pioneers?
Born in New York, he spent part of his childhood in Florida, where music made its first real impression on him.
"My first love was drums, " Bull says. "I lived near a football field in Delray Beach, Florida, and at night I could hear the black drum corps marching with this great beat. Then there was a radio station that featured military stuff, heavy on the drumming. I played drums to bagpipe records a lot, and studied drums for a while in New York. Once I took lessons it lost its luster."
Dad vetoed the idea of drums, however, so Bull took up the guitar. When he was eleven he moved back to New York to live with his mother.
"She was a harpist, she played all kinds of music. I'd hear her practising, hear her tune the harp, so I got an ear from that. I had all these tunes going by my ears, classics, boogie-woogie to Bach, Gershwin, everything you can imagine. By then I was well into the guitar. Hearing it, hearing the Weavers, seeing Mike Seeger. I liked the sound and the idea of a long-neck banjo.
Back in those days everybody sang together, the concerts had a wonderful spirit. I ended up taking banjo lessons from a great player,Eric Darling, who was in the Weavers after Pete left. He played some Scruggs style and exposed me to that. Then I discovered the oud, and didn't play the banjo again for about twenty years."
But the Seegers, along with his mother, opened his ears to a huge range of music. Not just from America and Britain, but all over the world, and from the classics to jazz and folk, an open mind that's remained with him.
"I got my ideas from people like Pete Seeger, and all the music that was going on after his heyday. I had my own influences, but Pete made everyone aware of the international scene, and the similarities between musics. I was playing banjo and guitar almost exclusively in my early years, so I played the mountain and modal stuff, the Scruggs stuff, and I saw the simliarities between that and the Indian and Afghani music. I was a big bagpipe fan, and I saw how that was similar to Arabic and Indian sounds. What attracted me was the grace notes and the little embellishments that make music so interesting. Bagpipe music spends a lot on those, and so does Indian music, which I studied for a while."
By the time he was sixteen, in the late Fifties, Sandy Bull was a gigging musician in New York, before going briefly to college in Boston, where he studied composition, string bass, and sang with the Choral Art Society, as well as in playing in the coffeehouses with a young Joan Baez. But New York called, and he was soon back there, part of the whole Greenwich Village scene
"I was in Paris in 1959, playing on the streets. Alex Campbell was there, and Billy Roberts, who wrote Hey Joe. I played banjo and 12-string. We played under the bridges along the Seine, and people would shower francs on us. We went to this cafe, Ali's, in the Algerian section, and that was the first time I heard people playing oud- like instruments and style."
Four years later "I was on my way to Beirut, actually to get an oud, and I met Hamza El Din in Rome, heard him play, and it blew me away. There was something very basic about it, the closest thing to simplicity you could get, with all this complexity within a very simple framework."
So fast forward to 1963, and Bull's first record, which had been recorded a year earlier and somehow managed to take in some William Byrd, a Fantasy based on Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, gospel, mountain music, as well as a side long piece, Blend, which teamed his fretwork with the the drumming of Billy Higgins, best known for his time with Ornette Coleman. In other words, not your standard LP.
"The first record I did, I'd been hearing the Staple Singers, and that sparked my brain - I loved that vibrato sound on the Fender. So I got a Fender Strat in '62. I'd gone to high school where we did a William Byrd canon in the chorus. I'd heard Pete Seeger play some Beethoven on the banjo, so this canon had three parts. I figured out how to do two of them on the banjo and then whistled the third, which is how that came about. Blend was listening to Ravi Shankar and Ali Akhbar Khan in New York, and playing on a guitar tuned to Indian drums. I'd been looking into a lot of Folkways albums, music from all over, and I loved it all, and tried to take pieces and put it together. Two of the sections of Carmina Burana fell easily into banjo tuning, and that was pretty popular."
A year later, Inventions took it all a step further - Bach, Brazilian music, Blend II, and a unique version of Chuck Berry's Memphis.
"Memphis was influenced by Lonnie Mack's version of the song, and the jazz records I was listening to, particularly Bag's Groove," Bull explains. "I'd been messing around with a little tape recorder in the summer of '64, playing electric bass. I was listening to a lot of Chuck Berry and the Supremes, and I couldn't find any rhythm guitars players who were steady enough for my liking. So I put my own rhythm guitar on tape and played to that. Memphis was one of the tunes I liked for that; it was really meditative, and had interesting changes, almost blues but not quite. I was already into the oud by then, and Indian-style music on the guitar, along with standard guitar licks. It just all fell together."
Inventions is the only one of Bull's early albums still available, mostly because he sells it through his own Timeless Recording Society label. That situation will shortly change, however, as Vanguard is planning a record to encompass his years with the label.
If the first two records had seemed quite expansive, even for the Sixties, then it all came to a head on E Pluribus Unum, which had a total of two tracks - one on each side.
"I'd already done the other two albums with one track covering a side, so I figured why not! That whole record came about when I was in England in '66, and listening to my amp on earphones so as not to disturb the other people. I liked the sound, and found a hi-fi store, and he showed me how to put a tweeter in my concert amp and make it sound balanced. That's what I used, and it evolved into a bigger system. I would plug treble and bass boosts in and split the signal, and I liked that sound."
And it was also informed by the whole hippie thing in California, which Bull had witnessed after leaving England
"Back in the U.S. I was in New York for six months, then I got a call to play at the San Francisco State Folk Festival. I did that, played the Fillmore, a bunch of clubs, and I was there for the whole scene."
After E Pluribus Unum, it was three years before another Sandy Bull record appeared, the slightly more mainstream - but still very diverse - Demolition Derby in 1972.
"That one didn't make it to Europe; it really didn't make it anywhere! There are some things on there I like, but other things I wish I hadn't done, or had more time perfecting first. I'd been under a lot of pressure to become more accessible, and that album was my response. I had some drug problems. Demolition Derby was a good euphemism for what my life was about at the time. I got off drugs in '74, went to rehab."
Then that came a return to the stage, in the form of an invitation to guest on Dylan's Rolling Thunder tour.
"That was my reemergence into playing with a clear head. I spent a lot of time on the West Coast trying to right the wrongs I'd committed in the Sixties, not showing up and being unprofessional. It was great. I toured with Don Cherry in the summer of 1980. Don was a great part of my life. I got to know him best after I got off drugs. I sat in him with him on the oud a few times at the Five Spot in 1975, and he'd already got into world music then."
Musicians might have known who he was and cherished him, but record labels simply didn't care. Between 1972 and 1987 no Sandy Bull records appeared, not for want of trying on his part.
"I just couldn't get on a label. You have to realize it was the heyday of the Eagles and the Bee Gees, and people were into vocals. There was pressure on me to sing, and it wasn't my forte at the time. I was working on several tunes that made their way to my later CDs, but I couldn't get on a label. Some label people wanted me to play the way I'd done on my first two albums, and I was always trying to do something a little different, change, try different approaches.So I didn't want to repeat myself."
In '88, though, there finally came a contract with ROM, and Jukebox School of Music made its way into the marketplace. Whatever anyone had been expecting from him, he confounded it.
There was salsa (with Bull on piano!), steel guitar, country, Brazilian, and a return visit with Billy Higgins on Truth.
"There were hints of salsa on Demolition Derby, but not keyboard based. Jukebox was a result of Sandy Bull meets MIDI. I'd figured out some salsa on the piano by then, so I was able to program the keyboard parts to play against. I love salsa, I have since I first heard it in '68."
Playing with Higgins again was the highlight for him, though.
"It was wonderful. He's such an incredible player. He turned my life around the first time I heard him with Ornette in 1960. I was very lucky to be able to record him. Truth came out nicely; I'm very proud of that. I recorded a bunch of his solo percussion pieces back then; someday it might get released."
The gap between Jukebox and Vehicle was luckily a lot less than sixteen years. In '91 the new album appeared, and once more took him all over the map. There were tracks he'd recorded with the legendary Bernard Purdie, and a lot of percussive help from Aiyb Dieng.
"Don Cherry introduced me to Aiyb Dieng. I'd had a call from Van Morrison's people to open for him at the Beacon Theatre. I was excited, and I thought a percussionist would be great to have. I called Don, and he put us in touch, then Ayieb played on my next release, Vehicle. It was less computerized than Jukebox, and I've been working more that way since."
Following Vehicle's release, Bull decided the time had come for he and his family to get out of Venice (California, that is), and the place he picked to live was Nashville.
"It seemed like the logical place. LA was getting too crowded and too angry. I'd spent eight years there. I'd gone there to get a record deal, and I did that with ROM. I watched them and thought, 'I can do that.' I decided to do that (and he did, beginning Timeless Recording Society, which has released his albums since). I had a studio in Venice, California, but you can get a recording space anywhere. We had a bunch of friends moving from LA to Nashville, like Brian Ahern and some others. I'd been there often, and what better place to be around so many great instrumentalists? I get to use all the session guys when I need them."
The relocation proved fruitful, and resulted in Steel Tears (1996), the first album to really feature Bull's vocals on a disc that was largely covers, from Holland/Dozier Holland to Arthur Crudup and beyond.
"I'd had the idea for several years, and I thought it'd be interesting to do my instrumental stuff subservient to a lyric. A lot of the songs had influenced me, and I wanted to try my hand at them."
Of course, the word eclectic still more than applied to his versions, and it was well enough received to win him a nomination for Best Folk album in the Nashville Music Awards.
"It's probably a far cry from most peoples' idea of folk music; they just didn't know where to put me, so they threw me in the folk category."
Following that, he's spent time out of the limelight, such as it has been.
"The last couple of years I've had health problems that have kept me from doing a lot of stuff, like playing out in public. I had cancer surgery in '96, had half a lung taken out, chemo and radiation, and that knocked me back a year or so. I'm getting radiation for my spine now, because they found a vertebrae that was all lit up. But I recently did two gigs, in Amherst and New York, and they whetted my appetite for getting out again."
And something we can all look forward to is a new Sandy Bull album in the near future.
"Now I'm back to instrumentals. I've got that singing out of my system. I'm recording at the moment. I've just finished a salsa-type piece, and I got a couple of guys from Tito Puente's orchestra to do percussion on it. They were in town playing at a club. I went down and asked if they'd be interested, and they said sure. I'd say that by the fall or winter the album should be ready. My concept is to do the rest of the record solo instrumentals, with all the instruments I used on the salsa piece, some solo oud, and maybe a couple of Bach chorales on piano."
He's been there and done that, long before most people ever heard of it. Been in the right place at the right time, lived the life, paid the price, but still going remarkably strong, and made some amazing music along the way. And by the look of it, he'll be doing that for a long time to come.
(Sandy Bull's records can be ordered from Timeless Recording Society, PO Box 1177, Franklin, TN 37065, USA)
First printed in Folk Roots
Subject: RE: Sandy Bull?|
Date: 10 Mar 02 - 03:31 PM
Sadly, Sandy Bull died last year. He was a long-time heroin addict, but I don't know if that contributed to his death.
Subject: RE: Sandy Bull?|
From: Bat Goddess
Date: 11 Mar 02 - 10:08 AM
Subject: Sandy Bull obituary from the Nashville Tennessean
Eclectic musician Sandy Bull mixed cultures
Sandy Bull is shown here with an oud, one of the exotic instruments he played. The Nashville resident died yesterday. By PETER COOPER, Staff Writer
Genre-melding musical visionary Sandy Bull, whose integration of eclectic sounds and styles delighted fans such as Jimi Hendrix, Elton John, Joan Baez and Steve Winwood, died in Nashville yesterday after a long illness. He was 60 years old and considered a master of stringed instruments exotic (the sarod, the oud) and familiar (the banjo, the acoustic guitar).
''Only Sandy Bull would play an oud through a phase shifter or perform on the Indian sarod a soul ballad composed by the Isley Brothers,'' asserted one New York Times reviewer after a Bull show at Carnegie Recital Hall. Musician, painter and Folk Boom-era compadre Bob Neuwirth said yesterday that ''Sandy crossed all the barriers. He was one of the first advocates of what they now call world music.''
Mr. Bull's first two Vanguard Records albums, 1963's Fantasias for Guitar and Banjo and 1964's Inventions for Guitar and Banjo, made him a guru to scores of broad-minded musicians.
''When I was in high school in Long Beach, Calif., all my finger-picking, wannabe folkie buddies would listen to his early Vanguard records nonstop,'' said Jeff Hanna, a Nitty Gritty Dirt Band member who called Mr. Bull a ''legendary multi-instrumentalist'' and ''a seminal influence on the Dirt Band.''
By 1970, however, Mr. Bull had disappeared from the spotlight. That year, Rolling Stone magazine ran a profile on Mr. Bull titled ''Hey, I Thought You Were Dead.'' He ultimately re-emerged and released a series of albums that concluded with 1996's Steel Tears. He spent the final decade of his life as a Middle Tennessee resident.
Yesterday, friends told stories of Mr. Bull's musical exploits and remarkable life. Kevin Welch, a Nashville musician who utilized Mr. Bull's sarod solo on his 1998 album, Beneath My Wheels, spent 10 minutes talking about Mr. Bull and ended up describing scenes that name-checked Mr. Bull's connections with friends that included flamboyant Latin jazz man Tito Puente, outrageous country songwriter/mystery novelist Kinky Friedman and gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson.
Neuwirth detailed Mr. Bull's first meeting with Bob Dylan (in the early 1960s at the Indian Neck Folk Festival), and he remembered that Mr. Bull was interested enough in traditional American music to take banjo lessons as a teen-ager yet musically malleable enough to saw new fret positions on a Martin guitar neck to better emulate the quarter-tone melodies of Indian sitar player Ravi Shankar. Nashville guitarist Gary Nicholson noted that Mr. Bull's admirers ranged in musical sensibility from country players and folkies to rockabilly/swing revivalist Brian Setzer.
''He was a genius,'' Setzer said. ''He turned me on to a lot of instruments I'd never heard of before, and he incorporated that into organic-sounding music.''
Said Welch, ''He loved the good things in life, and he made a wonderful life for himself. He was quietly but profoundly influential.''
Mr. Bull is survived by his wife, Candy, his daughter, K.C., and his two sons, Jesse and Jackson.
No public memorial service is planned. The family requests that donations be made in lieu of flowers. Donations may be sent to the Alexander Sandy Bull Fund For Neurosurgery, c/o Anderson Cancer Center at P.O. Box 297153, Houston, TX 77297. Those sending donations will wish to quote account number 8-0011804.
Subject: RE: Sandy Bull?|
Date: 03 Jul 09 - 06:10 PM
I've recently got into Sandy Bulls music. I bought Vehicles and Jukebox School of Music. Now i'm after his last cd: Steeal Tears. And I can't find it. Well that's at least half a lie cause I found it on amazon.com, but it will be too expencive to me with the postal.
As case use to be when i find good music, the preformer is long gone even before the search starts.
Does anyone have a word to say about this album?
I can say that Jukebox is too synthesized but for the last track Truth, with Bill Higgins.
Vehicles is more natural and timeless.
Subject: RE: Sandy Bull?|
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 03 Jul 09 - 06:32 PM
This is brilliant.
Subject: RE: Sandy Bull?|
Date: 04 Jul 09 - 08:06 AM
The really classic Sandy Bull stuff is this or this (very similar 'best of's)
If by any chance you don't have it, then you would probably really enjoy listening to this too.
Subject: RE: Sandy Bull?|
Date: 04 Jul 09 - 08:13 AM
Shoot... I had forgotten all about Sandy Bull but know I've got at least 2, maybe three, of his albums from the late 60's... Maybe need to revisit them sometime... I remember hs music as being somewhat introspective but good stuff to listen to thru the headphones after a couple good tokes...
Subject: RE: Sandy Bull?|
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 04 Jul 09 - 12:25 PM
Can I also really, really recommend this, too? Worth every penny, several times over.
Subject: RE: info request:: Guitarist Sandy Bull?|
From: GUEST,Friend of Sany Bull
Date: 28 Jun 12 - 08:21 AM
Sandy passed away from cancer. He lived decades clean and sober.
Subject: RE: info request:: Guitarist Sandy Bull?|
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 28 Jun 12 - 01:16 PM
From the "I knew him when" department, this may be of interest:
A banjo picking friend of mine, saying, "You gotta hear this guy," took me over to Woodstock Country Day School in I think late winter 1956, to meet Sandy while he was a student there.
That early photo on the import compilation looks very like he did then: serious, intent, listening to that inner ear. Meeting him, I got the impression he was in a world of his own. But what a musical world.
Sandy was playing stuff like nobody'd ever heard before. He was newly into steel drums at the time, talking passionately about how to make them out of 55-gallon oil drums, hammer out the notes in the metal, etc., but it was guitar where he really shone (I don't think he was playing oud then). While he'd started out influenced by Pete Seeger in his banjo and guitar playing, he was already branching out impressively into those brilliant instrumentals that were his later trademark.
His breakout on Vanguard thrilled us all, and the Nitty Gritties were far from being the only ones listening. He was a major, if subterranean, influence on guitar-oriented rock in the sixties.
He sticks out a mile along with David Lindley, then of Kaleidoscope, Robin Williamson and Mike Heron of the Incredible String Band, and Ry Cooder with Captain Beefheart in the Safe As Milk days, as a true magicians of sound at a time when new sound was being formed out of the surrounding ether.
Just shows how eclectic and far-reaching the roots were in those years when rock was just finding out what the possibilities were.
Subject: RE: OBIT: Sandy Bull has passed|
Date: 26 Jan 17 - 11:03 PM
Oh my God he was the best. I played a lot of his music on my radio show "Music of many lands," at UCSB in the 70s/80s, sorry I never interviewed him or saw him play, In the early/mid 60s everyone was playing his music, which were called vinyl records then… I loved his version of Memphis ...