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2nd October 2016


















2nd October 2016 


Your autobiography – A Stray Cat Struts


Q: You come across as very humble in the book. There’s a lovely phrase you wrote that says ‘Drummers don’t often write symphonies but they will get their hands dirty and hang out with the crew’. That’s one of the best definitions of a drummer’s character I’ve read and in my experience, mostly true. Why are most drummers like that?


SLJ: That’s kind of the whole underlying theme of my book that I am a drummer and I think drummers, more than anyone else that I’ve ever met are happy to be there -  like me. I don’t know…maybe it’s like a manual thing, the closest thing to digging ditches in some other job and I’m not sure if there’s an answer for it but all drummers are friends. I’ve never met a drummer who didn’t like somebody else or their playing or like one drummer more than another. It’s like ice cream you know: if you like ice cream, every ice cream is kind of cool and with every drummer, you see something, get the different human element from them all. It’s a cool club to be in and I always wanted to do it. I was too young for The Beatles and Ed Sullivan but when I became aware that this was something you could possible do I thought ‘I think I can do that’. Drummers liked hanging out in drum shops, taking an hour to buy a pair of sticks and all that kind of stuff and it seemed like a good way to make a living.


Q: In a fantastic piece of naivety you just head off to London with no plan. It’s almost as if the young Brian, Lee and yourself expected rather than hoped for success in the UK. Was that the case or have I misinterpreted it?


SLJ: No. We knew very early on – the first time we played in a pub together -  we just knew it was really good and it was going to make it and that it was up to everyone else to come along. We had supreme confidence and that was unwavering thing. We knew it was good, knew it was different and again we loved the life of it. Trying to find another bootlace tie...coming back to our little flat in New York that Brian and I shared and discovering Eddie Cochran made two albums…getting the magnifying glass to look at the photo on the back of the Gene Vincent albums and seeing he had a white belt with a little jewel on the buckle… we just went crazy for it! Finding a couple of like-minded guys that we had known our whole lives and it just coming together to find this music and the kinship of the whole thing, we just know it was good right away. We wanted to make it but we never had any doubt in ourselves. Just give us a chance and we will totally do it.


Q: You tease us occasionally. You mention that when you were young, you saved money from birthdays and Christmas’ to buy a few records but didn’t name them. What were you listening to before you discovered Rockabilly?


SLJ: I had a few cousins who were older than me and had all moved to New York City. My mother had three sisters and we all lived pretty close to each other and I was the third or fourth in age out of about ten cousins. One was a Rolling Stones nut who had bootlegs and stuff and He was very precious about it but one of my other cousins was named Virginia and I could borrow her records. She had Yes and Billy Joel and a few others. Those were the ones I could get my hands on and I was very young, in school so records were expensive and I never had any money. A record was $10 which was a week’s worth of pizza or a ticket to somewhere. I didn’t want to blow it all on one album and then I’m trying to buy some drumsticks – if they broke I would try to glue them which didn’t really work – but when I bought a record…I remember Led Zeppelin like everyone else and maybe Alice Cooper. I had School’s Out with the panties on it which I got in trouble for, ‘You spent your money on that? Take it back!’ I was just back in New York and saw Virginia and told her all this. She had cool eclectic records, the first Yes album with Bill Bruford, a couple of Steely Dans but then when I was sixteen or seventeen, I started to research and it was a little bit of process but like on a Stones album for the writer it would say C. Berry and I would start to find out who Chuck Berry was. Then, as gag gift, someone had given my mother the first Beatles album so that was in the house and my parents are not music people but they had people like Benny Goodman, my father had Hank Williams which was early Rockabilly although I didn’t know that at the time and I took drum lessons and practiced along to those records. When we founded The Stray Cats, through The Beatles we found Carl Perkins – the same as The Stones C.Perkins; who’s this? – and then the first actual records I started buying were Buddy Holly, Carl Perkins, all the Greatest Hits ones because they were the ones that were a little bit available. We chipped in a little bit; Brian had this record so I would buy that record sort of thing.


Q: Another tease is when you were recording Blue Suede Shoes with Carl Perkins for the film Porky’s and mention several other songs were done that night; what were they and will they ever see the light of day?


SLJ: I think we just ran through all of Carl’s hits because Lee and I had met him before with The Cats. He was a really nice guy. Dave Edmunds was the producer and we had the studio the whole night so we just said let’s do this one, let’s do that one. There’s probably five or six of them, Honey Don’t, I Gotta Woman, Matchbox…all of those. Will they ever see the light of day? It will probably be up to me to find them. I had a look in the storage cupboard a couple of days ago and there was so much stuff in there  - a chair fell from the top – so I’ve got to get someone to go with me. I have them all in those waterproof tubs and there are probably a thousand tapes in there somewhere. Demos, gigs, etc. 


Q: A Stray Cats Anthology?


SLJ: Yeah…there’s got to be some nice things in there.


Q: Whilst working with Jerry Lee Lewis, you recognized the infamous Dr. Nick. I know he was giving you your paycheck but being the lover of Elvis that you are, what was your first reaction and thoughts?


SLJ: Well you know he was someone who was older than me and I still looked at anyone who was older than me and minded my manners. Be nice, it didn’t matter if they were the teacher, the librarian, the cop or the mailman. They are older than you so you respect them. I looked at him more as a guy who knew Elvis. I didn’t really think of all the bad stuff. I heard stories and I had been around long enough to know that if Elvis didn’t get it from him he’d get it from someone else. I just thought it was cool Pop culture. I love all that kind of stuff.


Q: In the chapter entitled The Boys In The Band, you give a very honest opinion of Brian, Lee and yourself. There’s obviously a lot of love there from you and you leave us with a hope that we will see the world’s greatest rockabilly band again someday.


SLJ: Yeah I would hope so! There’s nothing to stop us apart from us. Everyone’s healthy and it’s not because the fans don’t want us. Those guys have a rub personally and me personally, I think every day you get older, that stuff matters less.


Q: Have you heard from Brian or Lee since A Stray Cat Struts has been published?


SLJ: No but that’s not on purpose. If they called now I’d be happy to talk about playing, the old days, friends from school and we’ll definitely have a laugh. I’ll get sucked right into it because I love those guys and I love our past but ultimately for me it’s why don’t we go and play Brixton Academy for three nights; come to Tokyo and play the Budokan and then it starts to get uncomfortable.


Q: Plus you all have other stuff going on anyway.


SLJ: Yeah! I stay busy because that’s what you have to do when you’re the drummer.


Johnny Burnette and Lemmy


Q: Diverting from the book momentarily, I’d like to ask your opinion about a couple of heroes of mine.


SLJ: Sure.


Q: Johnny Burnette


SLJ: You know this is funny. I did a sketch last night on stage where I was comparing all of the Rockabilly heroes to Star Wars. I don’t know why but I said Gene Vincent was Darth Vader – it popped into my head. No one understood what I was talking about in this club last night and TJ, my kid, who is with me on this trip was urging me on so I said Johnny Burnette was Hans Solo; the solid rebel. Johnny was one of the ones who we had the Greatest Hits album of and he was hard rocking.


Q: Lemmy


SLJ: Oh…(long pause, Jim is thinking very deeply here) Well Lemmy was my friend which was the most important part of it all. We hung out a lot, an original Rock ‘n’ Roller and a Stray Cats guy. In the beginning there was us, these guys goofing off, sleeping on the floor and staying at someone’s house that we met and at night trying to go to some party or trying to find out who was playing where and hanging around out front seeing if we could get in. By the time we got a couple of gigs, we had been to some parties and met a few people and Lemmy was one of them. Chrissie Hynde was another, Pete and Jimmy from The Pretenders, Glen Matlock as well but Lemmy was one of the first that came to see us. I didn’t really know who he was but we know was a kind of Rock ‘n’ Roll outlaw and he was very gentlemanly, I never saw him angry and then we became friends. I’d go to his house and we’d listen to Gene Vincent recordings he had recorded off the BBC radio from the sixties. He’d say ‘Have you heard this?’ and I hadn’t. I had the Greatest Hits of all these guys and loved Rockabilly but there was a lot of stuff I didn’t know and wasn’t available. Now the Rockabilly catalogue has been mined and it’s easier to find but back then there was nothing. We just kind of got along, liked all the same stuff, the History Channel and going out and when I went back to America, we stayed in touch. Then I moved to L.A. and almost by some funny irony, he moved there, almost next door! So every time I left the house I would look up at his window where he had a pirate flag hanging, whistle and he would poke his head out. We started to play together when I got a song to do for an Elvis tribute and I got Lemmy and Johnny Ramone who had also moved to L.A. to play on it. We did the song in three minutes, John wanted to leave right away but Lemmy loved to hang out, studios, dressing rooms, night clubs, etc and we had the session for five hours so we started doing other Elvis numbers, just plowing through them all and that turned into Headcat. Some guys play softball – we made records. You know, there’s all these descriptions of Lemmy; a pirate, an outlaw but at the end of the day, he was just a nice guy at the end of the day who loved Rock ‘n’ Roll. I never saw him be rude or inappropriate to anyone. 


Back to the book.


Q: Why now? How did it come about?


SLJ: It was a hard thing. I didn’t know how to really do it but I had done the liner notes, some Rock journalism on the back of the book for my friend Stevie Salas. His agent saw it and said it was really good and have I ever written. Now, it ‘s one of those things you’re precious about because if you don’t do it, you can’t get rejected. Anyway, she said write a story and I didn’t know what to do so I wrote about Lemmy going to the Embassy Club and playing the slot machines and ending the night paying the cab driver in coins. That was the punch line but in between that the there was the night out in London, the clubs we went to, the pub on the way, Lemmy’s house – just what happened – and she liked it. She asked if I had anything else so I think I wrote about going with The Stones and how they liked us and she shopped it around unbeknownst to me. Then came the hard part. We went to St Martin’s and they were really nice but then you have to do it. You can’t wait for the flashes and run off 85 pages. I would be writing on an A4 legal pad and have these great ideas but by the time I typed it out, it was a cozy four paragraphs! You have to practice. You have to turn the TV off. Don’t answer the phone, don’t look at the baseball score from noon until 4pm every day. You just sit there and sometimes nothing happens but somehow you chip away at it and I did that for almost a year.


Q: Well it was worth it and you’re only 55 so I’m looking forward to volume II.


SLJ: Oh Yeah! There are twenty stories I remember since then!


Q: Jim, thank you very much for your time.


SLJ: My pleasure.

自伝『A Stray Cat Struts』








SLJ:僕より年上の従兄がいてね。彼らはニューヨークに引っ越したんだ。僕の母には三人の姉がいて、三人ともすぐ近所に暮らしていた。僕は10人ほどいた親戚の子供連中では上から3番目か4番目だった。従兄の一人は、ブートレグまで持っているローリング・ストーンズマニアだった。かなりレアな音源に詳しかったよ。でも母方のヴァージニアという従姉には僕がレコードを貸してあげていたんだ。彼女はイエスとかビリー・ジョエルとかを聴いていた。そのへんは僕も聴いていた。学生の身にはレコードは高価でね、全然買うお金がなかった。レコードは10ドルもして、一週間ピザを食べた金額とか、どこかに遠出するチケット代に等しかった。とてもアルバムに注ぎ込むお金はなかったよ。当時はドラムスティックがほしかったんだ。折れたスティックを接着剤で繋ぎ合わせて使おうとしたけど、全然だめだったからね。でも買ったレコードを憶えているよ。周りに釣られてレッド・ツェッペリンとかアリス・クーパーとかを買ったんだ。パンティ付の『School’s Out』を持っていたよ。でもこいつには失望して、「これに金を注ぎ込んだのか?金返せ!」てなもんだったよ。ニューヨークに戻ってからヴァージニアに会って、このことも話したんだ。彼女はいろいろなアルバムを持っていた。ビル・ブラッフォードのいた頃のイエスとか、スティーリー・ダンも何枚か。でも僕が16か17の時、いろいろ勉強し始めたんだ。ストーンズのレコードには、チャック・ベリーの名前がライナーに書いてあった。それでチャック・ベリーが何者なのかをまた調べたんだ。誰かがふざけてビートルズのアルバムを母にプレゼントしたことがあった。だからビートルズは家にあったんだ。僕の両親は音楽には疎くてね。でもベニー・グッドマンみたいなのは聴いていたね。父はハンク・ウィリアムスのレコードを持っていた。初期のロカビリーだよね。僕はまだ当時は知らなかったけど。でもドラムの練習を始めると、そういうレコードに合わせて練習したものさ。ストレイ・キャッツを結成した時、ビートルズを通じてカール・パーキンスを知ったしね。ストーンズを通じてもね。カール・パーキンス?誰だ?てなもんだったよ。それから初めてレコードを買い始めた。バディ・ホリー、カール・パーキンス、いろいろなヒット曲。当時の有名どころが手に入ったんだ。僕たちはほんの一部を聴いていた。ブライアンがまず買って、それから僕もそういうのを買っていったんだ。


Q:また気になったのが、あなたたちが映画『Porky’s』のためにカール・パーキンスと「Blue Suede Shoes」をレコーディングした時のことです。他にも何曲かその夜にはやったと書かれていますが、それらは何だったのでしょう?それらは日の目を見たのでしょうか?

SLJ:カールのヒット曲は一通りやったと思うね。僕とリーはキャッツ以前に彼に会ったことがあったからね。彼はとってもいい人だったよ。デイヴ・エドモンズがプロデューサーで、僕たちは一晩中スタジオをブッキングしていた。だから、「これやろう、それやりましょう。」って感じだった。5、6曲やったんじゃないかな。「Honey Don’t」、「I Gotta Woman」、「Matchbox」とかね。日の目を見るかって?僕がそのテープを見つけるかどうかにかかっているだろうね。数日前に家の棚を見てみたんだけど、いろいろな物で溢れ返っていた。椅子から落っこちたくらいさ。だから誰かと一緒に整理しなきゃね。湿気を遮断するケースに入れて保管しているはずなんだ。いろいろな場所に物凄い数のテープが眠っているはずさ。デモ、ライブ音源とか・・・。








Q:「The Boys In The Band」と題された章では、ブライアン、リーと自分自身についての率直な意見が述べられています。そこには愛が溢れていますよね。これを読むと、読者は世界で最も偉大なロカビリー・バンドの復活を期待すると思いますが。



Q:『A Stray Cat Struts』が出版されてから、ブライアンとリーから何か連絡はありましたか?























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