Interview with Eddie Angel
Part One of a Two Part Interview
M. Where were you born?
E. I was born in Albany NY. I grew up in a city called Rensselaer right across the river from Albany. It is
a factory town.
M.I don’t really know anything about Albany...
E. Its about 150 miles north up the Hudson
River from NY City.
M. Where did you go to Jr. High School?
E. Oh man Well we moved a lot … I can tell where I went to high school - it was Van Rensselaer
M.When did you first start playing the guitar?
E. 1965 I think. When I was 11 - 12.
M. It seems like a lot of professional musicians start playing around 12. by then you probably were
physically capable of dealing with the mechanics of a guitar.
E. Before that when I was younger, 10 years old, I tried to play the banjo, but I couldn’t make heads or
tails of it.. It sounded cool but I just couldn’t figure it out. By the time I was 12 I could sort of figure out
M. I guess it’s probably easer to comprehend guitar progressions then banjo progressions.
E. Also that’s when the Beatles came out meanwhile . That’s why I got a guitar.
M. Ok- So the Beatles were one of your earnest influences. Who else were you listing to?
E. Well the Beatles had the biggest impact on me, but also in my case I had two older sisters and an
older brother that influenced me as well. –
My sisters had records around the house all the time, so I heard all the old 50’s rock and roll. Elvis,
Roy Orbison, Fats Domino…
M. Of course in all that 50’s stuff the stand out instrumentation was electric guitar - telecaster and
stratacastor. That had to leave some kind of indelible impression on you.
E. Yea, but I didn’t know it at the time.
Though, I definitely do think it has a lot to do with the reason I play the way I do. I mean that was the
first music I heard as a little kid. You know… I think your brain is wired by the time you are 5 years old.
M. I agree. I can remember music I listened to when I was 2 or 3 years old too. And I still love it.
E. I heard all that 50’s rock and roll. That’s really why I play like I do. I play like Chuck Berry and Scotty
Moore, but you know, when the Beatles came out - when I first picked up the guitar - I was 11 or
something - they were just giving me back Chuck Berry and Carl Perkins.
The thing I loved about George Harrison’s playing was it sounded like Rock a Billy.
I mean I didn’t know that at the time, but now looking back I can see it. That’s what really drove me
crazy. He had this kind of country/rockabilly flavor to his playing - in the middle of a pop song. That
was very cool.
Country music was a big influence too - that always was around in the background . My mother liked
M. Country Music –
Especially back in the 50’s, was particularly shaped by electric guitar.
E. Yea, the best guitar players were country artists. Growing up, I never heard any classical music or
jazz or even any of the standards. It wasn’t until fairly recently that I started getting in to that stuff. Now
I love it. That’s what I listen to.
M. I guess you have a different intellectual appreciation for that music today.
E. Yea. When I was a kid I didn’t have the patience for it. I wanted to listen to something that was
exciting, fast, loud and stupid.
And I still like that.
M. What was the first night club you played in?
E. Well let me think. Well I can name a few that stand out in my mind. Not the first one. There was one
in Albany called Marelli’s.. I used to play there about 4 or 5 nights a week. I was playing in a lounge
band called Tino and the Revlon’s. We played 50’s cover songs. It was a classic Italian restaurant,
with all red table cloths. When I was playing in that band I got a call from Scotty Flowers to join Tex. (in
You can imagine how excited I was because I was going out of my mind playing 5 nights a week in this
Italian restaurant, in a lounge band.
In Tino and the Revlon’s we wore matching outfits and they did not allow any drinking on stage. I
remember when I came t o Washington to play with Tex, I was thinking to my self, I want to make a
really good impression here so I’m not going to drink any beer or anything on stage. So I got to my
first gig and I’m on stage with Johnny Castle, Tex - and they are drinking more beer than anybody in
Johnny Castle has bottles of beer lined up on the stage. Tex is making out with biker chicks on bar
breaks, It was nuts.
I’ll tell you another club that really stands out, the first club I played in DC. That was the Tacoma Tap
Room. I have real –
M. Fond Memories? It’s an El Salvadoran Restaurant now I believe.
E. Is it? Wow.
I took a grey hound bus from Albany to DC ( under normal conditions over an 8 hour trip) on January
the 3rd (1980). It was snowing and freezing cold. The bus broke down and it had to go 20 miles an
hour on the New Jersey turnpike. So when I got to DC - I was late and so they sent a guy to pick me
up at the bus station (Arthur Taylor, do you remember him?). He picked me up at the bus station in
his little Volkswagen that had no heat. The windows were all frosted over. He drove me up to the
Tacoma tap room. It was a Friday night and Those guys( Tex , Johnny Castle, Ratso, Scotty Flowers)
were already playing you know, because I was late. When we pulled up, I could hear them out side the
club. I remember getting out of the car and trying to see what was going on tap room, and, like,
rubbing off the frost on the window and peeking in and looking in thinking to myself, wow, man this is a
whole new chapter in my life.
I wonder what’s in store for me.
M. I remember you on that night, you seemed kind of - dischevled - you perfectly fit in with the bad
E. I know, I know.
M. You were pretty spooky. I thought if I talked to you , that you might bite me or something,
E. You thought I might bite you?
E. I looked like that? I thought I was like this innocent kid showing up.
M. Oh man, no, you were in a rare mood.
I remember passing you on the stairs, I just said “hi” to you, - you muttered a few choice curse words
under your breath at me or something, and you kept right on going... .
I though Oh my god.
It’s a good thing this guy has some creative out let other wise he might be a real menace to society.
E. That’s funny.
I felt totally like I was thrown in the deep end. But I took to it as you know, like a fish to water.
Because, with Tex, it was the perfect band for me to be playing in you know. Tex brought out all these
qualities that were lying dormant in me.
Punk rock, rock and roll. All that stuff. He totally transformed me.
M. Tex could tell, He is a very empathetic person. It’s hard to know exactly what he is picking up on. It’
s his intuition and his intelligence.
E. Tex is very Intuitive. In fact he hired me even before he heard me play. It was his intuition I guess
Scotty told him and he knew. -
You know what Ray Wallace (local DC seminal musician) calls him, The Rockabilly Dostoevsky. I think
that s as pretty good of a description as any -
He hired me with out even hearing me play.
M. Maybe it was partially due to the way you presented yourself that first night, after that ordeal
getting down here (to DC) from NY…. You were a pretty scary.
E. You know when I use to play in the Star Spangled wash board band we fairly regularly would play
at the Child Harold, and we had a big following in DC. Tex knew I was in a successful band at one
time. He had no idea other than that. I remember he said to me after the first time we rehearsed
“Wow I’m really glad you can play the guitar because I’ve already told the guys you are in the band”. I
owe a lot to Tex. He truly is my mentor. He is a true artist.
M. He is. He’s the genuine stuff.
M. Chronologically, what bands have you played in from your teen years to present?
The very first band I ever played in -I was probably twelve - was called the Kreases. K-R-E-A-S-E-S
We thought that was real cool.
And then about a year after that say like about ’66, the band kind of morphed into a band called the
Upper Sage of Lower Life. You can sort of see what was happening right. This was after Psychotic
Reaction came out.Then there was nothing much to speak of till after I got out of school.
In the seventies I was in the Star Spangled Wash Board Band. That was a band that was really
It toured all over the east cost played colleges, played DC, It was vary successful, but I think after two
years I got bored with it because –
M. Musically It wasn’t really going anywhere for you?
E. You know it was suppose to be a comedy act. They did a lot of comedy in their music.
M. It seems like during that time period there were a lot of bands in to that kind of thing, a lot of props
E. That was my first experience with touring. We played at Blue Grass Festivals Too. It was sort of
blue Grass and comedy.
Then I was in the band Tino and the Revlon’s, the lounge band I told you about.
Then I was in Tex and the bad boys.
I did a little time with Switch Blade (Eddie was the original Guitar player
in Switch Blade. His rendition of the Link Wray song was partially the inspiration for the bands name)
In DC with Ratso and Johnny (Castle)
and Jim Doherty on drums.
Then I played with the Dinettes for a little while. I was the original guitar player in the Dinettes with
I played with Bob E. Rock and his band.
Then I moved back up to New York, up to Albany, and I played with a couple of bands up there. One
called the Rockin’ Dakotas – that was a good band. They were sort of rockabilly but more kind of rock
Then I moved to Nashville in 1986 with a band called Jeanie and the Hurricanes. We moved to
Nashville in ‘86 got a record deal in ‘87 and broke up in ’88.
So I was at real cross roads at that point.
I was really ready to quit the music business at that point, because Nashville really puts you through
the meat grinder.
When I got to Nashville my whole reality was turned upside down. I show up there and my guitar hero
is Link Wray
Then I also went from being a big fish in a small pond to being a nobody in Nashville.
I had to get a job at a hotel parking cars.
It really did turn my world upside down.
But it really paid off for me in the long run. I paid my dues but something came of it.
I think If I had moved back to Albany I wouldn’t be where I am playing music for a living. I world have
never imagined that I would be doing what I am doing now, in an instrumental band in Nashville you
know. But that just shows you how life is.
You can’t plan it.
then I went down to Nashville and put together a Rockabilly band called the Planet Rockers with
Sonny the singer and we played Twist and Shout, we put out a few records we created a pretty good
reputation on the rockabilly scene. So we got offers to play in rockabilly festivals and stuff in Europe -
a lot of places,
but I'm not doing any thing with those festivals now.
After that came Los Straitjackets in ’94.
Oh wait a minute I missed one-
In-between for a short period in ’92 I played with a band – I moved to Chicago –I played with a band
called Big Guitars from Memphis. I stayed with that band for like a year and a half and I got kicked out.
It’s the only band I ever got kicked out of, that I can remember.
I wound up back to Nashville and then Los Strait Jackets got going in 1994.
M. It turned out to be a fortunate twist of
fate for you.
E. Yea, defiantly no doubt about it.
Los Straitjackets. We had actually played
together a few years earlier as The
Straitjackets when I was in Nashville – right
before the planet Rockers -But nothing
came of it, a few gigs and you know, nothing
Then when I moved back to Nashville we
got together just for fun. I thought it would be
every once and a while. But the timing was
right, Pulp Fiction came out
and all of a sudden there were instrumental bands in every city.
So we started touring and one thing led to anouther – next thing I knew I was making a living at it.
Then one day I woke up and I realized “Hay, your, not suppose to make a living doing this”.
In 1994 I went to England and record with a friend of mine, Rabb. We did a band called the
We recorded in London and put a record out. We are still putting records out and touring.
The Neanderthals. It is like a side project.
60’s garage music.
We dress up like the Flintstones.
That’s the band history.
|"When I was
a kid I didn’t
stupid. And I
still like that."
Herbie the Love Bug
on his way across
Grammy nominated CD
Eddie Angel seems to have coaxed that same
mojo out of his guitar that the first rock and rollers
taped into. Close your eyes and listen to him play -
you will be transport back to 1956 -
or 1965, or 1980 - he plays rock and roll like it was
to be played, Like it is being played for the very
first time - no mater what the era.
His original compositions are so timeless that it is
hard to tell that they are not something written many
years ago. You might think they are classic gems you
must have some how missed - how delightful that he
has discovred some obsure tresure from the past -
then you fine out in fact it is an original Eddie Angel.
Listen to him - you understand how
he hears the song, what captures his imagination and
what he finds humorous, he gives that back in his
Rockabilly, Surf, Garage
What ever Eddie plays is never simply some
technical or mechanical interpretation .
All his work has a freshness and honesty, that makes
the listening an exciting discovery. When Eddie plays,
it's as if he is telling you a story with music as the
language. No matter how often he tells that story it is
always fascinating, and it is like you've heard it for the
very first time. Even If you think you know it by hart ,
Quite possibly he will surprise you, amuse you and
touch your emotions with some nuance or invention
uniqley his own.
It is the essence of rock and roll- with a haunting
similarity to his guitar hero Link Wray - that defines
Eddie's sound. It is some how simple but complex,
Familiar yet different, Rough edged and clever,
dangerously close to crossing over the boundary
line,a worning that somthing could be unleashed at
any moment that the world might not be quite ready
Eddie is also an excellent showman. His stage
performance is always exciting and entertaining.
Weather he is playing with Los Strait Jackets,The
Neanderthals, Eddie Angel's Guitar Party, the
Hi - Risers or any other band be assured his
association will equal a memorable and most
Stay tuned for part two where Eddie talks about working
with Link Wray and other cool stuff....