logo

BERNARDFOWLER-NOTES

nN. 

“I’m Just A Singer In A Rock N Roll Band”

2021Bernard Fowler
((( moody blues )))

 

How far the Stone has Rolled
A Conversation With Bernard Fowler, 35 years, a Rolling Stone.

Interview by .
for Rumpus Magazine

Rick Moody: I met Bernard Fowler at the Four Seasons (Hotel) in Boston, the night after the Rolling Stones played the stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The joint was still crawling with people wearing their brand new Rolling Stones tour t-shirts, and although most didn’t recognize Bernard, the maître de at the restaurant did, and gave him a very friendly welcome, a recognition of how many times the Stones entourage has passed through Boston, and how long the road has been. I felt lucky to be there, talking to a consummate professional in the midst of such a momentous musician, still making new music, both in the band he sings with as his steady gig, and now, in his excellent and compelling work, as a solo artist.

***

Moody: I too was in New York in the early ‘80s and I’m really interested in your connection to Celluloid Records, and Material, and all those guys in those days. How did you get hooked up with that scene?

Bernard Fowler: I’ve not been asked that one in a while. I was part of the band, the New York Citi Peech Boys, and we had a couple really big records that I actually wrote — “Life Is Something Special,” and “Don’t Make Me Wait.” I couldn’t leave my house without hearing them. As soon as I walked out my door, those songs were playing somewhere which was, of course, very exciting for a young cat, you know, hearing himself on the radio. The Peech Boys thing was just all over the place. Larry [Levan] was in the band — you know, the DJ from the Paradise Garage — and he had made an a cappella version of the record, and it was being played in mixes all over the place.

I got a call from Bill Laswell, or from his right-hand man, Roger Trilling, I think it was. Bill said he wanted to work with me, so we met to discuss the possibility. It was a good time for him to ask, because the Peech Boys were falling apart; the Peech Boys were falling apart fast. It’s amazing what a little tiny bit of success does to people; it destroys bands and it destroyed the Peech Boys. The writing was on the wall. So, I met Bill, and I found out about Material and how he wanted me to sing on his new record, and I was like “Yeah!” I always wanted to sing with other people and it was an opportunity for me to do it, so I did. I did a song with Bill Laswell and Michael Beinhorn called “I’m the One” and I think on the strength of the Peech Boys playing so hard people recognized the voice and now “I’m the One” is playing on the radio. So, that was probably my introduction to Celluloid, and to Bill and Material.

Moody: The Peech Boys were sort of dance music, right? What was your musical diet like then? Were you as eclectic then as you are now?

Fowler: Well, yes. My diet was, you know, soul-based records, all groove-based records, like Kool and the Gang, Parliament, Funkadelic, the Bar-Kays, Mandrill, New Birth. Most of the bands had a horn section and I was playing trombone at the time.

Moody: That was your first instrument?

Fowler: Well, my very first instrument was upright bass and my very first gig (the first time I ever played in front of people) I played the upright bass with a salsa band and then, in school, I went on to play the trombone. That was my diet along with Joni Mitchell and Carole King and that kind of stuff. You know, Chicago. A little bit of everything was my diet but growing up in a predominately black and Puerto Rican neighborhood, it was mostly soul music.

Moody: What was your neighborhood?

Fowler: I grew up in Queensborough Projects made famous by brother Nas.

Moody: Long Island City?

Fowler: That’s right. Long Island City. I grew up right next to the 59th Street Bridge.

Moody: One thing I’m interested in, with respect to Inside Out, is when you were made aware of The Last Poets’ recordings. Because of the relationship of your album to the first Last Poets album.

Fowler: I was made aware of those recordings when those recordings happened.

Moody: In the 60s.

Fowler: Yes. I have an older brother; he’s, I think, eight years older than I am … nine years … and he was a part of that scene. Blacks and Puerto Ricans were one; they listened to all the same music together. They went to the clubs and danced salsa together. The clubs played both soul music and salsa so that’s the neighborhood I grew up in and my brother brought those records home. I listened to those records and played those records; my friends who also had older brothers were hip to it. It didn’t really play on the radio. We learned about this material by listening to our parents’ hi-fi. We’d be out in the street reciting Last Poets, you know.

Moody: How revolutionary were those songs to you growing up in the Queensbridge Projects?

Fowler: Very revolutionary. We expected the revolution to be televised. (“Whitey On The Moon”)

Meeting Mick

Moody: The Herbie Hancock record you worked on, Future Shock, was really revolutionary, too. Was it through Laswell and Beinhorn that you came to sing on Herbie Hancock’s record? Was that before you met Mick Jagger?

Fowler: I had met Mick before at the Paradise Garage but it was just briefly; he wouldn’t remember. I was singing with Herbie Hancock, and I had a break from the tour, when Bill (Laswell) called. He said “Hey Bernard, what are you doing?” and I say “Hey Bill, I just walked in the door,” and he said, “Go to the airport.” “No, you don’t understand, man … I just walked in the f*%@ing door!” “Go to the airport!” He was serious so I go to the airport and there’s a ticket; I flew to London. I get there, he picks me up and I still don’t know why I’m there. I just know I’m there to work with Bill. I trust Bill with anything, because he had opened my mind to another world, and I knew that anything he did would be interesting. We get in the cab, we’re talking about music, and he’s telling me about stuff he’s working on, and that he wanted me to hear. He never let on to where we were going or who we were going to meet.

Bill asked me, in the cab, if I liked the Stones, and I said, “Yeah, I love the Stones. The first record my dad ever gave me was a Rolling Stones record.”
We kept talking, until we pull up to a house. We walk up to the front door, walk in, and go into a room with a guy sitting on the floor. I can only see his back, as Bill says, “This is Bernard Fowler, the guy I’ve been telling you about.”
The guy turned around and it was Mick. I was like “Wow!” A total shock to the system. Mick Jagger is sitting on the floor right in front of me. We settled in and sang a bit. Before leaving, he gave me a cassette tape, and said, “Listen to this; this is what we’re going to work on tomorrow.” I had a four-track cassette recorder and did all this vocal stuff.

We went to the studio the next day and I saw Paul McCartney in the hallway and was like “Oh, a Beatle!”

Moody: [Laughs]

Fowler: I went into the studio and Paul McCartney came into the room and Mick started frowning and said, “Hey, get him outta here!” I was like “Oh, shit! He just kicked a Beatle out of the session.” I played for him what I did on the four-track recorder and he liked it and said, “Let’s do it.” That was the beginning of my working relationship with the Stones, really.

Moody: The Hancock record was pretty amazing and unusual at the time that it happened. Did you have a sense of how powerful those sounds were and what a groundbreaking project that was going to be?

Fowler: I could imagine. When I heard it I wanted to pull my hair out because of the rhythm. It was relentless and I had never heard anything like that. Oh my God… what a killer groove! I heard it before Herbie was even on it; I just thought “This is going to be big.” It was right at the beginning of hip-hop and it was as big as everybody who heard it thought it would be.

Moody: What’s astounding to me is how you travel back and forth across genres with such ease, and how you seem as comfortable working with experimental music as you are with Rock N Roll and Pop. So, you’re going from Future Shock to the Jagger record (and that’s She’s the Boss, right?). It’s a completely different project in terms of the musical vocabulary. How do you make that transition?

Fowler: [Laughs] I close my eyes and I listen real hard. There’s something good in all music so, when my eyes are closed and I’m listening, I just give it a try. I get off on trying things; that’s a challenge for me. Bill challenged me. I didn’t know I could do a lot of those things but Bill said, “I want you to do this,” and, “Come on, let’s try.” You know, doubling Lemmy’s voice, which I did, that wasn’t my idea; that was Bill’s idea for me to go in and do that and I discovered it was part of my gift, being able to really blend with people. I’m a music lover, especially if I can feel it. If I can feel it, I can do it. I always say that the only thing they can say is “no” and I’ve heard it before and I’ll hear it again. But I’m going to give it a go.

Moody: I’m asking these questions about the past because I’m really interested in the vibe of this record, Inside Out, which to me is not like a rock and roll record at all. It’s very unusual in terms of the sound and the feel. I can feel the Last Poets influence but I also feel like it’s got some jazz in it.

Fowler: It’s a jazz record.

Moody: Who did you think of as a jazz influence? Is there a particular jazz influence that you think of on this album?

Fowler: You know, New York had a great jazz radio—WRVR. Again, it was part of my growing up listening to Frankie Crocker, Symphony Sid, WRVR, Wolfman Jack, and all of that. When I got tired of listening to one thing, I turned the dial and would listen to the next. I never stayed on one station and I think, because of it, my appreciation for music grew and when I was playing trombone in the first band I was in, all those guys were older than I was. That’s all we listened to—jazz records. Return to Forever to freaking Maynard Ferguson, you know, and everything in between. I’ve always been a fan of Tony Bennett. I liked Tony Bennett better than Sinatra; it took me a while to actually really dig Sinatra because I was so into Bennett. I listened to a lot of jazz. Before I even started singing I was listening to it.

Moody: So, the sort of famous story about the genesis of Inside Out is that you were warming up onstage with the congas and Mick heard you freestyling…

Fowler: That did happen but, before that happened, I had been thinking about making this record. A year or two before that incident happened I was doing a gig at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and it was a tribute to the Rolling Stones. Steve Jordan was the musical director and Chuck D was going to be part of this all-star band to do this tribute and something happened where Chuck missed his flight; his flight didn’t come in that day. I had been thinking about this idea for a demo, a sort of spoken word thing so we were rehearsing and we were about to do “Sympathy for the Devil,” and instead of singing it, I started to recite it and Steve said, “If Chuck doesn’t show up, let’s do that.” Chuck did show up and he killed it and I thought “How is Chuck D going to fit in with all these musicians?”

Man, I took my hat off; I gained awhole new respect for Chuck D in that situation with all these musicians, and I did perform that night. Some time passed and, again, this thought was still bubbling and floating around in my head at rehearsal; we were on tour and I was practicing conga and I think it was Chuck Leavell who yelled, “Hey man, are we going to do this song for sound check?” and I’m playing and started reciting whatever song it was and some people were laughing; they were all kind of shocked but everyone was smiling. It became sort of a thing that I did at sound check and I come out to practice my conga one day before sound check and there’s Mick standing behind the conga. Mick says, “Bernard, I’ve heard a million Stones songs a lot of ways and I’ve never heard it like that before. We’re going to cut it when the tour is over,” and I said, “That’s a good idea.”

Moody: And it’s true that he saw the Last Poets play in the 60s?

Fowler: Yeah and, during that same time, Last Poets came up in our conversation and he said, “I saw them perform in England at a party at someone’s house.” I thought, How fucking cool is that! Who is that person who had the forethought to have the Last Poets come to London to play a party at their house! That just goes to show how, back then, how fast things could travel.

Moody: Was the original idea that it would be percussion and voice?

Fowler: That’s all it was going to be originally. After I did a few songs I thought that people would probably make a comparison to the Last Poets and I thought, Let me do something a little different, so I put a rhythm section on a few of the songs. I remember I was at Vince Wilburn’s studio in his house, the drummer, and, again, it had been a few years with this idea floating around in my head, so it was just a matter of doing it now. I called Vince and asked him if I could use his place and he said “Yeah, man,” so I called Darryl Jones [the Stones bass player] and George—a friend of theirs from Chicago, and mine—and they came over and I told them the idea I had. To get them to go to a certain era, say, The 70s, you know, “Black exploitation, pimp style… I’m trying to go there! Superfly! I’m trying to go there!” We started playing grooves and, as they’re playing, I’m reading lyrics and going through the pages in the Rolling Stones songbook and, if that groove isn’t working so much, just keep playing then, when I heard a groove, it was like, “Stop! We’re going to play that groove!” So, we started again and I found stuff I liked lyrically and recited it in my head to the groove they were playing and got a microphone. A lot of that stuff was just one take.

Moody: Were you isolated in a booth or were you in the room with them?

Fowler: I was in another room. It’s a house, where we recorded: the drums are in the living room, Darryl’s in the kitchen. I was just in another room and that’s another reason why the guy who mixed wanted me to redo the vocals. Not only did the mic sound like shit but you could hear a lot of bleed from being in the house. He really busted my balls about not doing it over, but I wouldn’t do it over. When I listened to it, I got it—the performance—right then. I got it! To me, it even added some character to the whole thing, you know, being a little dirty.

Moody: I want to ask about the song selection because that’s a really interesting feature of the album. It’s an incredibly idiosyncratic song selection.

Fowler: [Laughs] There’s no rhyme or reason to it, I know.

Moody: Did you do more and cut down?

Fowler: I did. There’s probably three or four more. It was going to take more work to get them where they needed to be. I didn’t have a budget for this so I had to do some dates and I ran out of time; I ran out of money. The stuff I recorded that was really close, that I could actually see getting finished is what I picked to complete the record. Also, I didn’t want to use any of the radio or commercial songs of theirs; I didn’t want to use any of them. In the catalogue the lyrics are so much deeper to the songs that people don’t sing every day. “Sympathy for the Devil” was not supposed to be on there because it was too popular of a song but, like I said, I ran out of things and it was easy. And I made it even easier, using the percussion beat from the original record. I had Wilfredo and Lenny, the percussionists, play that exact part all the way through, all the way through. It’s a great groove and everybody knows it. As soon as you hear it you know what it is. I heard somebody do that the other day: I was in Canada and they were listening and just knew that I had a new record. They didn’t know what the concept of the record was and, as soon as that came on, that percussion, I heard him say “‘Sympathy for the Devil’ it sounds like…”

“Sympathy For The Devil”
Bernard Fowler
Inside Out
2021
((( spoken word )))

Moody: It’s also the only song on the record where you preserve the melodic chord structure.

Fowler: It has the chord structure also. That was easy. I wanted it to have an avant-garde jazz feel, you know. I had been doing these David Bowie celebration dates and Bowie’s piano player for forty years, Mike Garson, and I had a conversation a couple months before that where I was telling him how I grew up listening to salsa and I think that stuck in his head, so when he plays on the track that’s why his solo feels like it does. I told him how much of a fan I was of Eddie Palmieri. We didn’t talk about it; he just played and went there so I assumed it was the conversation we had.

Moody: How about the themes on the album? You picked the songs that were really dark.

Fowler: Not only did the strong verbal lyric content matter, the subject was equally important. It had to be as relevant today as when they wrote it. Again, I was just doing it but all the songs could have been written today and that’s just divine intervention, you know. Like I said, I’m just there being creative and being open to things and I ended up with that. Also, four of the songs are from the Undercover album.

Moody: Yeah, I want to talk about that!

Fowler: Again, it’s just something that happened. I knew that I would do “Undercover of the Night,” the song, because it’s such a strong piece.

Moody: I love that song, too.

Fowler: It’s a strong piece and it was part of our nightly news world. I was like, I know I’m definitely going to do that but I need to go and find other stuff, so I got the song book out and went through and, if it didn’t strike me, I’d go to the next one. So, all those things that ended up on the record were things I was just looking to try to find. It just happened with Undercover. I opened the book… not at the beginning… and four of the tunes were from that album.

Moody: I feel like nobody knows those other three songs. They are really unconventional selections.

Fowler: Nobody does know them.

Moody: Have you performed these pieces yet?

Fowler: Just one time. In spoken word I did just one time when we were in Chicago. I did a show at a club called Martyrs.

Moody: Who was in the band?

Fowler: Cats I picked up in Chicago. I had met them that day, that afternoon of the gig. We did an hour rehearsal. I was already on the edge and that hour had me just about fall off. I was really pleasantly surprised at how good they were. I found out later that they all knew Vince and Darryl; they all knew each other. If you know Darryl and Vince, you’re probably a bad motherfucker. It was my first time ever performing stuff in spoken word like this in front of an audience so I was a little sweaty and people were really attentive. They sat and listened. Some people knew about the project and some didn’t; I could look and tell who knew and who didn’t. They loved it and I was blown away. I was blown away like I am by the response still. People were like “Shhh!” so this was really working.

Moody: Your approach forces us to consider the lyrics which, I think, which the Stones albums  themselves don’t always do. “Start Me Up,” I think, is about a car, but I never have paid close enough attention to those lyrics. But this record really causes us to look closely at the lyrics. You’ve sung a lot of these lyrics professionally as a back-up singer, I’m guessing. Has this journey put you in a position where you can really think about these lyrics?

Fowler: Absolutely. You think you know the lyrics to a lot of stuff and it’s not until we’re in rehearsal and they give us the lyric sheets and I’m reading them am I like, “Shit, I never knew that was the lyric.” Singing the songs really made us look into them and focus on what they were writing and that’s how I discovered how strong a lot of the lyrics are. Most people are lost in the Rolling Stones funk, in the Rolling Stones grooves. They are lost in the grooves; they are lost in all of Mick’s delirious stuff. They hear it, but they’re not really listening to what it is.

When I was making this record in the studio, I wasn’t letting anyone hear what I was doing. So, one day, there are some guitar players and they’re all rock and roll cats who all know and love the Stones and I say “Hey man, come listen to what I’m doing.” So I play something and their reaction is: “That’s fucking incredible. Blah, blah, blah” and I ask “Are you getting this?” and they say, “Yeah, man. I’m getting it; it’s fucking badass,” and then I sing a little bit to them and then tell them what it is and they said, “Holy shit, it is!” It wasn’t until I said something that they realized where the songs came from. It’s happened with a lot of people.

Moody: I really, really love the stripped-down take of “Dancing with Mr. D.” I had that record when I was a teenager, Goats Head Soup, and I always thought that song was sort of a throwaway; it wasn’t the song on the record that I liked the best, but your delivery of it takes the lyrics to a spot where it’s impossible to ignore what’s really taking place in the song. It has a tremendous impact. I like both versions you’ve recorded but the stripped-down version is really unapologetically in your face.

Fowler: I’m with you. Now you see why we did two versions of it; I couldn’t not use it. It’s great, man and it’s [slams fist] very strong with just the drums. I had a very hard time making the decision: Am I going to use this version or that version? and I just said “Fuck it! I’m using them both. I’ll call it a bonus track.”

Moody: There’s a journey to the sequence of the album as a whole which is really nice because nobody listens to albums really in the way we did when we were young. This album has a cumulative power.

Fowler: These days, people pick their favorite songs from it and throw the rest away. I think you’re right; I think this record kind of forces people. Once they hear the first single, they gotta hear what’s coming next: what’s next, what’s next. I think, also, “Undercover of the Night,” with the dialogue at the front of it, is like the carrot, you know. That wasn’t easy, picking the order, because I had so many possibilities. Before I made the final decision, the order was all percussion and then songs with a rhythm section and I thought it might be too much for some people to absorb all that percussion. So that’s when I said I’m going to mix it up a bit. So now the sequence starts with percussion and that’s followed by a rhythm section. I liked the end result of the song order. It works for me.

Moody: So what about the spoken word thing? You’re a great singer but you’re not singing here at all. Did that arise out of your developing it in rehearsal where you were playing the congas and kind of fiddling around with the words?

Fowler: I’m just being an artist. Just trying to stay creative. You don’t have to sing all the time. That’s what this record was: I didn’t want to make another Friends with Privileges or The Bura. I liked both records, and thought The Bura was especially good, but I think a lot of people missed it. It took a lot out of me making The Bura, an incredible Rock N Roll record, but I wanted to make a change, to explore the outer limits of my creative soul. Right now, spoken word is the way.

I’ve got other projects I have to make; I have to make a follow-up record to The Bura and this Inside Out has been so well received I have to do a follow-up to Inside Out! I did not expect people to react to Inside Out the way that they have. They were either going to love it or hate it and I’m not seeing a whole lot of hate.
Especially with Rolling Stones fans because they’re just so hardcore; you’re fucking with the Holy Grail!

It’s just been well-received so, when the tour is over, I’m going to do some spoken word dates and I’ll probably be in the studio recording and writing songs for The Bura follow-up. I’m going to Uruguay to record candombe. I have a friend there who is a slave descendant and a master candombe player. I took Jagger to his house. If you think the rhythm on this record is good wait until you hear some of this shit! Oh my God, it’s going to set your head on fire! That’s the plan and I also want to do an orchestra record similar to the record I did with Charlie Watts.

So, I got some plans. I got some things I want to do. It’s just finding the time to do them, and still be able to go out and perform.
So, we’ll see.
Take it to the (Queensboro) Bridge.

1909The Queensboro Bridge is a cantilever bridge that crosses the East River, connecting Long Island City in the borough of Queens and the Upper East Side of Manhattan, passing over Roosevelt Island that sits between the two. The bridge is also known as the 59th Street Bridge because its end in Manhattan is between 59th and 60th streets.

 

 

“East River” (NYC)
Brecker Brothers
Heavy Metal Bebop
1978A Collision In Space & Time
((( the”f”word )))

Charles Hoff / New York Daily News (top)

2010 Bernard and longtime friend, guitarist Waddy Wachtel, played an a series of shows in New York, ending at the Highline Ballroom in Manhattan, on Rolling Stones bandmate Keith Richard’s 70th birthday. To celebrate the day was the reason Bernard put the show together, and the result pleased both the crowd and Keith who was in the audience that night.

Growing Up in New York City’s Queensbridge Projects and stepping out from the shadow under the Queensboro Bridge, Bernard crossed the East River, and slipped into the darkness of Lower Manhattan.

ready to roll …
((( Open Letter to NYC)))

Anthony Geathers (NYT)

If there’s one thing that signifies summer in New York City, it’s streetball. Known for its high energy and aggressive style, streetball is defined by the Oxford dictionary as an “informal type of basketball played especially in urban areas such as parking lots, playgrounds, parks, etc.” Some of New York City’s legendary courts, including Rucker Park and the West Fourth Street Courts, also known as “The Cage,” have been a training ground for a number of NBA stars, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, and Kyrie Irving. (NAZ FATHER OLU DARA QUEENSBRIDGE)

We’re Playing Basketball
Kurtis Blow
1984 Beat Street
((( neighborhood game )))

 

Beastie Boys
To the 5 Boroughs (2004)

As a young boy, Bernard Fowler would follow his mother around the apartment, listening to MAHALIA JACKSON, JACKIE WILSON, and any and all things MOWTOWN. “Sweet Caroline” and all that pop On the radio, basketball In the street, trombone IN THE MARCHING BAND. Crossing Into Manhattan, between 59th and 60th Streets. (EAST RIVERCROSSING)

[NAS OLU DARA JAZZIZ]

[LIVING COLOUR “Open Letter To A Landlord”] 

Live @ The Paradise Garage
Larry Levan
1979 — A COLLISION OF PUNK, FUNK, AND JAZZ.
((( hip-hop & dance)))

dave.
Paradise Garage ?

1976Wood Brass & Steel
1977Voyager
Pink Floyd (Tampa Stadium)
WKRP “Animals”
1978FM (Movie)
Rick James

1979Hip Hop Happens
THE ORIGINAL SUGAR HILL RHYTHM SECTION

Skip “Little Axe” McDonald (guitar)
Doug Wimbish (bass)
Keith LeBlanc (drums)

1980 —DOWNTOWN AT THE PARADISE GARAGE

“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”
Larry Levan
Opportunities were eclectic and many for a talented young musician, coming of age at the turn of the 1980s. In the beginning, Bernard was interested in exploring it all, to discover which road would take him on the wildest ride.
((( mixup in clubland)))

StyleWars

Beat Street 

Hollywood’s depiction of the B-Boy Culture that had surfaced in the parks and abandoned buildings in and around New York City’s Five Burroughs.

FREE TO THE PUBLIC — After being created under cover of the night, New York City Graffiti shows itself on the subway trains as they emerge, and run across all five New York City Boroughs. Depending upon how you saw it, Graffiti was either an act of vandalism, or a rolling exhibit of fine art.

“Summer In The City”
Ray Gomez
Volume
1980
((( fusion is what?)))

Ray Gomez

At the same time Hip-Hop was showing itself, the infusion of electric guitar into jazz continued. Many believe the “Fusion” movement started when Miles Davis had John McLaughlin play guitar on Bitches Brew. At the time (1980), Ray Gomez was among a number of guitarists who were stretching the boundaries of what was considered jazz. Swing, B-Bop, and the traditional was giving way to what was being called “Fusion.” Not Fusion Jazz, as Lenny White is quick to say. It is A Fusion of Rock and Jazz. Or Electric Jazz. Lenny also says “If it hadn’t been for the electric guitar, there would be no music called “FUSION.”

Stanley Clarke Live 1976-1977 (w/Ray Gomez)
VERNON REID (GUITAR: INSTRUMENT OF CHANGE)
Yellowjackets w/ Robben Ford/ Jimmy Haslip

“Danger”
Doug Wimbish  f/Bernard Fowler (vocal)
CinemaSonics
((( urban duress )))

dave.
“Dangerous” / “All Mixed Up” b/ Linda Zachs

“Stealing”
In the Name of The Lord
Bernard Fowler

Tack>>Head at the Highline Ballroom (NYC).

2009 Bernard put the band together, calling them Bad Dog, and played shows in Austria and Germany in the Fall and Winter of 2008. The next year Bernard released “New York Time” (song/video), and did a one off show at the Highline Ballroom in New York City, Bernard’s hometown.

2010 A Bass Odyssey
Doug WimbishCinemaSonics
2010
Little AxeBought for a Dollar, Sold for a Dime
2011 Tack>>Head The Black Album

2012
2013Little AxeStone Cold Ohio

“Take A Walk On The Wild Side”  
Bernard Fowler
Little Axe
For The Love Of Money

2014
((( times square patriots)))

dave.

Painted Patriot

On the sidewalk in Times Square, a body-painted, “American” model counts the money she earned standing in the thick of the Square, paid to stand for her picture to be taken with, by, and for any willing tourist passing by.

“Dangerous Sex”
Tack>>Head
Bernard Fowler (vocal)
1990Strange Things

((street talkin’ man? )))

dave.
dino perrucci (top)

Working Girl?

On the sidewalk outside The Roxy, a downtown NYC institution (roller rink by day, B-Boy dance club by night), and where the climactic scene of the big-budget, Hollywood movie, Beat Street, was filmed. The finale featured Bernard, as the Original B-Boy Preacher, leading a raucous congregation in what seemed like a sort of Hip-Hop religious service.

BACK TO BLUE
THE ORIGINAL COLOR OF SIN
BLUE (CONT’D)
BERNARD FOWLER (FURTHER ON UP THE ROAD)
A CONVERSATION w/BERNARD FOWLER
How Far The Stone Has Rolled

 

 

RECORD SHOPPING w/BERNARD FOWLER

The Vinyl District @ Som Records (Washington D.C.)

“East River” (NYC)
Brecker Brothers
Heavy Metal Bebop
1978A Collision In Space & Time
((( the”f”word )))

Charles Hoff (New York Daily News)

Growing Up in New York City’s Queensbridge Projects and stepping out from the shadow under the Queensboro Bridge, Bernard crossed the East River, and slipped into the darkness of Lower Manhattan.

We’re Playing Basketball
Kurtis Blow
1984 Beat Street
((( neighborhood game )))

Anthony Geathers (NYT)

If there’s one thing that signifies summer in New York City, it’s streetball. Known for its high energy and aggressive style, streetball is defined by the Oxford dictionary as an “informal type of basketball played especially in urban areas such as parking lots, playgrounds, parks, etc.” Some of New York City’s legendary courts, including Rucker Park and the West Fourth Street Courts, also known as “The Cage,” have been a training ground for a number of NBA stars, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, and Kyrie Irving. (NAZ FATHER OLU DARA QUEENSBRIDGE)

ready to roll …
((( Open Letter to NYC)))

Beastie Boys
To the 5 Boroughs (2004)

As a young boy, Bernard Fowler would follow his mother around the apartment, listening to MAHALIA JACKSON, JACKIE WILSON, and any and all things MOWTOWN. “Sweet Caroline” and all that pop On the radio, basketball In the street, trombone IN THE MARCHING BAND. Crossing Into Manhattan, between 59th and 60th Streets. (EAST RIVERCROSSING)

[NAS OLU DARA JAZZIZ]

[LIVING COLOUR “Open Letter To A Landlord”] 

Live @ The Paradise Garage
Larry Levan
1979 — A COLLISION OF PUNK, FUNK, AND JAZZ.
((( hip-hop & dance)))

Paradise Garage ?

1976Wood Brass & Steel
1977Voyager
Pink Floyd (Tampa Stadium)
WKRP “Animals”
1978FM (Movie)
Rick James

1979Hip Hop Happens
THE ORIGINAL SUGAR HILL RHYTHM SECTION

Skip “Little Axe” McDonald (guitar)
Doug Wimbish (bass)
Keith LeBlanc (drums)

1980 —DOWNTOWN AT THE PARADISE GARAGE

“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”
Larry Levan
Opportunities were eclectic and many for a talented young musician, coming of age at the turn of the 1980s. In the beginning, Bernard was interested in exploring it all, to discover which road would take him on the wildest ride.
((( mixup in clubland)))

StyleWars

Beat Street 

Hollywood’s depiction of the B-Boy Culture that had surfaced in the parks and abandoned buildings in and around New York City’s Five Burroughs.

FREE TO THE PUBLIC — After being created under cover of the night, New York City Graffiti shows itself on the subway trains as they emerge, and run across all five New York City Boroughs. Depending upon how you saw it, Graffiti was either an act of vandalism, or a rolling exhibit of fine art.

 

“Dangerous Sex”
Tack>>Head
Bernard Fowler (vocal)
1990Strange Things

((street talkin’ man? )))

dave.
dino perrucci (top)

Working Girl?

On the sidewalk outside The Roxy, a downtown NYC institution (roller rink by day, B-Boy dance club by night), and where the climactic scene of the big-budget, Hollywood movie, Beat Street, was filmed. The finale featured Bernard, as the Original B-Boy Preacher, leading a raucous congregation in what seemed like a sort of Hip-Hop religious service.

“Summer In The City”
Ray Gomez
Volume
1980
((( fusion is what?)))

Ray Gomez

At the same time Hip-Hop was showing itself, the infusion of electric guitar into jazz continued. Many believe the “Fusion” movement started when Miles Davis had John McLaughlin play guitar on Bitches Brew. At the time (1980), Ray Gomez was among a number of guitarists who were stretching the boundaries of what was considered jazz. Swing, B-Bop, and the traditional was giving way to what was being called “Fusion.” Not Fusion Jazz, as Lenny White is quick to say. It is A Fusion of Rock and Jazz. Or Electric Jazz. Lenny also says “If it hadn’t been for the electric guitar, there would be no music called “FUSION.”

Stanley Clarke Live 1976-1977 (w/Ray Gomez)
VERNON REID (GUITAR: INSTRUMENT OF CHANGE)
Yellowjackets w/ Robben Ford/ Jimmy Haslip

In The Game
Tack>>Head
1981 — BILL LASWELL
1982 — HERBIE HANCOCKFuture Shock
1983 — SinnamonI Need You Now
1984 — BEAT STREET
HERBIE HANCOCK Sound-System
1985 —MICK JAGGERShe’s the Boss. Produced by Nile Rodgers and Bill Laswell, w/ Herbie HancockJeff Beck, and Jan Hammer.)

“Fire”
Sly & Robbie
1985Language Barrier
((( jamaica)))

 

Rhythm Killers (1987)
Yoko Ono
1986 — Ryuichi Sakamoto,  Philip GlassPublic Image, Ltd.
1987 — JAMES “BLOOD” ULMER
MICK JAGGERPrimitive Cool
w/Jeff Beck, Doug Wimbish, Simon Phillips, Vernon Reid
Brothers of Sodom
Mick Jagger (Lead Vocals)
Joe Satriani (Lead Guitar)
Doug Wimbish (Electric Bass Guitar)
Simon Philips (Drums)
Phil AshleySusie Davis (Keyboards)
Jimmy Rip(Guitar)
Bernard FowlerCarol KenyonJenny DouglasLinda MoranValerie Scott (Backing Vocals)

1988 Mick Jagger (Japan/Australia Tours) w/Joe Satriani, Doug Wimbish
Bootsy Collins What’s Bootsy Doin’?
Rolling Stones
1989 STEEL WHEELS TOUR (ALBUM)

 

1989Bill Hicks
Viciously Honest (“Patriot”/”American Scream”) “The Gospel According To Bill Hicks” (GQ)

“The Story Of Willie”
King Missile (downtown nyc)
((( apocalyptic opinion)))

w/ Living Colour, Guns N Roses

1990Living ColourTime’s Up
THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF LIVING COLOUR (VIVID)

 

In The Game
Tack>>Head
1981 — BILL LASWELL
1982 — HERBIE HANCOCKFuture Shock
1983 — SinnamonI Need You Now
1984 — BEAT STREET
HERBIE HANCOCK Sound-System
1985 —MICK JAGGERShe’s the Boss. Produced by Nile Rodgers and Bill Laswell, w/ Herbie HancockJeff Beck, and Jan Hammer.)

“Fire”
Sly & Robbie
1985Language Barrier
((( jamaica)))

 

Rhythm Killers (1987)
Yoko Ono
1986 — Ryuichi Sakamoto,  Philip GlassPublic Image, Ltd.
1987 — JAMES “BLOOD” ULMER
MICK JAGGERPrimitive Cool
w/Jeff Beck, Doug Wimbish, Simon Phillips, Vernon Reid
Brothers of Sodom
Mick Jagger (Lead Vocals)
Joe Satriani (Lead Guitar)
Doug Wimbish (Electric Bass Guitar)
Simon Philips (Drums)
Phil AshleySusie Davis (Keyboards)
Jimmy Rip(Guitar)
Bernard FowlerCarol KenyonJenny DouglasLinda MoranValerie Scott (Backing Vocals)

1988 Mick Jagger (Japan/Australia Tours) w/Joe Satriani, Doug Wimbish
Bootsy Collins What’s Bootsy Doin’?
Rolling Stones
1989 STEEL WHEELS TOUR (ALBUM)

 

1989Bill Hicks
Viciously Honest (“Patriot”/”American Scream”) “The Gospel According To Bill Hicks” (GQ)

“The Story Of Willie”
King Missile (downtown nyc)
((( apocalyptic opinion)))

w/ Living Colour, Guns N Roses

1990Living ColourTime’s Up
THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF LIVING COLOUR (VIVID)

 

on  

2010: A Bass Odyssey (Doug Wimbish)

Living Colour (discography)
Tack>>Head (discography)
Little Axe (discography)


— SweetWater Sudios (New York)

“What A Wonderful World”
Bernard Fowler
Tack>>Head
For the Love of Money
2016 — Slipping Into Darkness
((( song )))

When I was a kid, I listened to the radio, WRVR, Frankie Crocker, Symphony Sid, Wolfman Jack — All of that.
When I got tired of listening to one thing,
I’d turn the dial, and listen to what was next.

When he entered ___________ High School, Bernard first played the trombone, and it was because he had any musical ability at all, that a local Salsa band, without their bassist and being called to the _________ community center stage, asked if he’d sit in on standup bass. Not knowing any better, and having a what-do-I-have-to-lose? attitude, Bernard said yes, and played his first show in front of an audience. He didn’t get paid, but he was asked to join the band. >>>

When asked about his first paid gig, Bernard pauses briefly, laughs a little mischievous laugh, and says with a smile.

“It was a gig up on 123rd Street, at the Golden Terrace Ballroom. I made 14 dollars, and you know what I did with it? I had bacon and eggs for breakfast …

>>> Until then, Bernard had been listening to the abundance of New York radio, developing an ear and musical vocabulary of his own. His new bandmates were older though, and they were listening to music that might have been less popular, but more thoughtful, interesting, and inspirational to a young player, like Bernard.
I learned a lot from those guys,” Bernard says. “They introduced me to what was new, and I remember being turned on to Return to Forever, Maynard Ferguson, and everything in between. I appreciated it all, but in the end, I was always attracted to Tony Bennett and Jackie Wilson, and, from the beginning, all I ever wanted to do was sing.”

My Favorite Things
Tony Bennett

1959
((( sing a song )))

Great Day In HarlemArt Kane (1958)

A Taste Of Honey
(and) “A Hard Day’s Night
Herb Alpert‘s Tijuana Brass
(and) The Beatles
1964“Fly Me To The Moon” (Frank Sinatra w/Count Basie)
((( early influences )))

Herb Alpert‘s Tijuana Brass

Sweet Caroline
Neil Diamond
Sweet Caroline (single) “Dig In” (side-B)
1969
((( summer in the cities )))

Gordon Parks Foundation

Mahalia Jackson, Jackie Wilson, and all things Motown.

“Summer”
War
The World Is A Ghetto
1972
((( in the ghetto )))

james van der zee

“Midnight In Harlem”
Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi
Crossroads Festival 
2010
((( in the ghetto )))

1973
1974
1975 Bernard was still in high school when he made his first recording with The Total Eclipse, a band he was asked to join at a weekend “battle of the bands” concert. He sang on A Great Combination, the band’s one and only record, released in 1975, a time when Bernard’s Summer In The City was as much about Street Basketball and hanging out with friends, as much as it was about music.
1976
1977

“East River”
Brecker Brothers
Heavy Metal Bebop
1978 — A Collision In Space & Time
((( fusion )))

 

1979Hip-Hop Happens

“Summer In The City”
Ray Gomez
Volume
1980
((( fusion? )))

1981
1982
1983
We’re Playing Basketball
Kurtis Blow
1984 — Beat Street
((( song )))

Anthony Geathers

If there’s one thing that signifies summer in New York City, it’s streetball. Known for its high energy and aggressive style, streetball is defined by the Oxford dictionary as an “informal type of basketball played especially in urban areas such as parking lots, playgrounds, parks, etc.” Some of New York City’s legendary courts, including Rucker Park and the West Fourth Street Courts, also known as “The Cage,” have been a training ground for a number of NBA stars, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Kyrie Irving.

When asked about his first stage experience, Bernard paused briefly, and laughed that mischievous laugh he has,  before telling the story with a smile.
“It was a gig at the Golden Terrace Ballroom, up on 123rd Street.
I made $14 …
And you know what I did with it? …
I had bacon and eggs for breakfast.

 

A STONE’S FIRST ROLL
At The Paradise Garage

 

— ?

NYC
1980 — The New York City Peech Boys  with DJ Larry Levan and keyboardist Michael De Benedictus. Leading figures at the Paradise Garage, a popular, downtown New York City dance club. The darker, grittier, more genuine alternative to Studio 54. Bernard wrote and sings the Peech Boy hits Don’t Make Me Wait and “Life Is Something Special,” that in the hands of Larry Levan, with his way of mixing all types of music: Fusion, Hip-Hop, Funk, Electronic, Rock, and Blues, created a mesmerizing stew that was being called Dance” Music. Larry Levan created a mood in a room, a seamless groove, making it so comfortable that those on the floor didn’t want to leave.

The Garage pulsed, throbbed, and shook continuously into the earliest hours of tomorrow.

“Slave To The Rhythm”
Grace Jones
Slave to the Rhythm
1985

 


— Vg

Larry Levan with Grace Jones at the Paradise Garage (1980)

1981 The Roxy, DJ David Mancuso created the popular “by invitation only” parties in New York City. The first party, called “Love Saves The Day,” was thrown in 1970. After,  the parties were simply known as “The Loft.”

1982 — Smurf For What It’s Worth (The Smurfs)
1982Don’t Make Me Wait (New York Citi Peech Boys)
1982 — Life Is Something Special (Peech Boys)
1982Bill Laswell Material One Down
Bill Laswell
Material
Herbie Hancock (Future Shock)
1983Future Shock (Herbie Hancock)
1983 — I Need You Now (Sinnamon)
1983 — Crazy Cuts (Grandmixer DST) 

1983 Paradise Garage
w/Larry Levan
New York Citi Peech Boys
1984Beat Street 
Do You Believe (The Mariner’s Baptist Church Choir) 

 

— ?

1984 Sound-System (Herbie Hancock)
1985 — Starpeace (Yoko Ono)
1985Language Barrier (Sly & Robbie)
Herbie Hancock
1983 Future Shock
1984 Sound-System

The Rolling Stones
An Endless Love of the Blues.

Choosing to take a break from Keith Richards and the Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger went out looking for a band to back his “solo” career. In his search, he discovered a number of Young Americans, who were prepared to take him for a most exciting musical ride.

1985 After touring Australia and Japan with Mick Jagger in his first band other than the Rolling Stones, Bernard sang on Jagger‘s first solo album, She’s the Boss.

This moment was the first beginning of a 35-year musical and personal relationship with Mick, and expanded to contributing to all the other Rolling Stones’ solo projects (Charlie WattsKeith Richards and Ron Wood) and the other Young Americans Mick had chosen to play on his solo records (Doug Wimbish, Joe Satriani,fter Fowler had already performed as a session musician with individual members of the Rolling Stones on their solo projects, he was chosen to join the Stones on their Steel Wheels World Tour (1989). Mick Jagger spoke about his choice of Fowler to sing backing vocals saying that Fowler impressed him because he had a wide vocal range, many musical influences, and stamina.

TACK>>HEAD:WE’RE AN AMERICAN BAND

He has remained as a regular backup singer on tours with the Stones since then. Fowler was a feature vocalist on three of Watts’ jazz solo albums. The other members of the Rolling Stones have utilized his vocal talents on their solo projects, including Richards’ Main Offender and Wood’s solo projects.

1985She’s the Boss (Mick Jagger)
Sly & Robbie Language Barrier
Public Image Ltd Compact Disc
1986Futurista (Ryuichi Sakamoto)
1986 — Media Bahn Live (Ryuichi Sakamoto)
1986 — Songs from Liquid Days (Philip Glass)
1986 — Axis (Jonas Hellborg)
1986 — Album (Public Image, Ltd.)
1986 — Philip Glass Songs from Liquid Days. Paul Simon (lyrics)
1987 Primitive Cool (Mick Jagger)
1987James Blood Ulmer America: Do You Remember the Love?
1988 Bootsy Collins What’s Bootsy Doin’?.
also w/ Herb AlpertLittle AxeTodd Terry, and Michael Hutchence (INXS).
1988 — Bass (Jonas Hellborg)

“Dangerous Sex”
Tack>>Head
Strange Things
1988
((( song)))


dave.

“Working Girl”
1982 — The Roxy (NYC)

“Harlem Nocturne”
Duke Ellington
Ray Noble Orchestra
1939

1989Tack>>Head
On-U Sound
Rolling With The Stones
1989 Steel Wheels (Rolling Stones)
1989 — Friendly as a Hand Grenade (Tack>>Head)

 

“(Miami) Vice”
Melle Mel
Miami Vice Soundtrack b/ Jan Hammer
1984 — w/ The Original Sugar Hill Rhythm Section
((( song)))

— YouTube

Kick Ass Rock N Roll

@ The Orange Bowl (Little Havana) Miami, Florida
Nov.16, 1989 — Parked on the street in Little Havana. Two second row tickets for the Rolling Stones in the Orange Bowl, where the Miami Dolphins and the University of Miami Hurricanes play. Meet at the inflated “Bud” can. Passed out under the Visa banner. $300 Leather Jackets, rather than T-Shirts. Coffee-table, hard-cover, photography books, rather than a paper poster or ad-filled program. Entering the stadium, and looking down toward the mammoth stage in the opposite end zone, we saw Living Colour in the middle of “Cult of Personality,” the last tune in their set. Chuck Leavell, wish it was Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones, Yes, but it was Chuck taking a solo in …

“That’s Alice to You.” — Alicia, woman at Enriqueta’s coffee window, 36th Street and 2nd Avenue, (Little Haiti / Design District) Miami, Florida.

1990Strange Things (Tack>>Head)
1990 — Liberty (Duran Duran)
1991 Johnnie B. Bad (Johnnie Johnson)
1992 No Other World (Shining Path)
1992 — Onobox (Yoko Ono)
1993Stain (Living Colour)
1994 Jazz Passengers in Love (Roy Nathanson’s Jazz Passengers)

1995Mas Feedback (Nicklebag)
199612 Hits and a Bump (Nicklebag)
1997Power Inc. (Tack>>Head)

1998
1999 — Michael Hutchence (Michael Hutchence)
1999Colors (Herb Alpert)
2000 Hot Night Tonight (Barbara Lynn)
2001Best of Material (Material)

2002 
2003

“We’re An American Band”
Asylum Street Rehearsals
@ Sully’s Pub & Tiki Bar (Hartford, Connecticut)
2004Tack>>Head Reunion
Back In The U.S.A.

Hartford, Connecticut
@ Sully’s Pub & Tiki Bar
Bernard Fowler (vocals)
Doug Wimbish (bass guitar)
Skip McDonald (guitar)
Keith Leblanc (drums)
Adrian Sherwood (mixing desk)

ALSO:
London
New York City @ The Ritz (w/ Melle Mel)
Chicago @ The Abbey
San Francisco @

2004 — Champagne & Grits (Little Axe)
2005 A Bigger Bang (Rolling Stones)
2005 — Rarities 1971–2003 (Rolling Stones)
2006 — Little Axe Real World Records Sessions
2006Friends With Privileges

2006 — Shine a Light (Rolling Stones)

2007 Friends With Privileges
2008Shine a Light (Rolling Stones)

 

— dave.

2009  Tack>>Head
 @ The Highline Ballroom (NYC)
“New York Time” b/ Bernard Fowler

2010
2011 Colors (Herb Alpert)
2012 Hot Night Tonight (Barbara Lynn)
2013 Best of Material (Material)

2014
2015

2016 Tack>>Head 
“Funky President” (Obama) v. “King Bee”

 

— Rolling Stones

Bernard Fowler had been a Rolling Stone since the “Steel Wheels” tour in 1989, and has been around the world many times, routinely playing stadiums and arenas in front crowds numbering in the hundreds of thousands. The difference in 2016, as he stood on another large stage, was the 500,000 Cuban Rolling Stones fans had never seen a Rock N Roll show of such magnitude in the heart of Communist Havana, Cuba.

2017
2018
2019
2020s
2020
2021
2022

 

— SweetWater Sudios (New York)

2023 Still Alive and Well — Tack>>Head, all taking time from their individual projects (Living Colour, Rolling Stones, etc.) met in London and with Adrian Sherwood. Adrian, celebrating 40 years of his ON-U Sound record label, did much with his American brothers.

2023
2024
2025
2026

“Eve Of Destruction” (1965)
Barry McGuire
Eve Of Destruction”  (single)
1965 — 
((( protest )))

((( video )))
“Sweet Thing”
Bernard Fowler (w/ Mike Garson)
Celebrating David Bowie
@ Ponte Vedra, Florida (2016)
— dave.

2016 For the Love of Bowie
Celebrating David Bowie World Tour
Bernard Fowler (vocals) 
Mike Garson (piano) — After Show, bruised and battered, signing autographs with taped fingers, like you’d see in a football lockerroom.
Earl Slick (guitar) — “Hi. I’m Slick, and God do I feel old,” Earl Slick said as he emerged from back of the tour bus he had been living in for the past month and a half.  That’s more of a hardship, when you’re 67 years old, rather than 27, when making a living as a musician was still new. Bernard emerging after, having no knowledge of the conversation Slick and I have already had, says hello in the exact same way. First telling me how tired he was. And soon after, I find Corey Glover, bending over to grab his dirty laundry out of the bus’ cargo hold. He was looking for the washer and dryer he was told was somewhere inside the venue, a renovated (1980s) church, old by Ponte Vedra (gated golf community) standards.

“The glamorous life of a Rock N Roll star.”
Bring your kids to work day Daughter and boyfriend (backup singer and drummer) Jimi Hendrix percussionist at Woodstock; Slick’s 9-year-old son in from Gainesville, where he lives with mom, listening, learning Teaching to iron backstage (Life On The Road).

1999Prince & The Color Purple
It’s His Party, and He’ll Jam if He Wants to.
2000 — Y2K / Living Colour @ CBGB
2001 — 9-11 / Living Colour Reunion (cont’d)
2002In The Post Apocalyptic Area
2003 — Living Colour CollideOscope
2004Tack>>Head Reunion

 

dave.

Back in the U.S.A.
Tack>>Head
Bernard Fowler (vocals)
Skip McDonald (guitar/vocals)
Doug Wimbish (bass guitar)
Keith LeBlanc (drums)
Adrian Sherwood (mixing desk)
Asylum Street Rehearsals
@ Sully’s Pub & Tiki Bar (Hartford, Connecticut)

 

— SweetWater Sudios (London)

2023 Still Alive and Well — Tack>>Head, all taking time from their individual projects (Living Colour, Rolling Stones, etc.) met in London and with Adrian Sherwood. Adrian, celebrating 40 years of his ON-U Sound record label, did much with his American brothers.

Bernard Fowler w/The Rolling Stones
1991 Flashpoint (Rolling Stones)
1992 Tribute to Charlie Parker with Strings (Charlie Watts)
1992 Slide on This (Ronnie Wood)
1992 Main Offender (Keith Richards)
1993 Wandering Spirit (Mick Jagger)
1993 Warm and Tender (Charlie Watts)
1993 Slide on Live: Plugged in and Standing (Ronnie Wood)
1993 Jump Back (Rolling Stones)
1994 Voodoo Lounge (Rolling Stones)
1995 Stripped (Rolling Stones)
1996 Long Ago and Far Away (Charlie Watts)
1997 Bridges to Babylon (Rolling Stones)
1998 No Security (Rolling Stones)
2000 Live and Eclectic (Ronnie Wood)
2002 Forty Licks (Rolling Stones)
2004 Live Licks (Rolling Stones)

2004 Tack>>Head
BACK IN THE U.S.A.
Bernard Fowler (vocals)
Doug Wimbish (bass guitar)
Skip McDonald (guitar)
Keith Leblanc (drums)
Adrian Sherwood (mix)
Asylum Street Rehearsals
@ Sully’s Pub & Tiki Bar (Hartford, Connecticut)

2005 A Bigger Bang (Rolling Stones)
2005 Rarities 1971–2003 (Rolling Stones)
2008 Shine a Light (Rolling Stones)

2009 Tack>>Head
NEW YORK TIME
Friends With Privileges
@ The Highline Ballroom (NYC)
Keith Fluitt
Argentina Guitar

2010 I Feel Like Playing (Ronnie Wood)
2012 Light the Fuse (Rolling Stones) Google Music download
2012 GRRR! (Rolling Stones) compilation album
2013 Hyde Park Live (Rolling Stones)
2015 From the Vault – Live at the Tokyo Dome (Rolling Stones)
2015 Sticky Fingers Live (Rolling Stones)
2015 Hyde Park Live (Rolling Stones)
2015 Crosseyed Heart (Keith Richards)
2016 Totally Stripped (Rolling Stones)
2016 Havana Moon (Rolling Stones)
2017 Sticky Fingers – Live At The Fonda Theatre 2015 (Rolling Stones)
2018 San Jose ’99 (Rolling Stones)
2018 Voodoo Lounge Uncut (Rolling Stones)
2019 Bridges to Bremen (Rolling Stones)
2019 HONK (Rolling Stones) compilation album incl. live CD (Lim. ed.)
2019 Bridges to Buenos Aires (Rolling Stones)
2020 Steel Wheels Live (Rolling Stones)
2021 A Bigger Bang Live (10″ Vinyl, 2 track, RSD 2021)
2021 A Bigger Bang: Live on Copacabana Beach (Rolling Stones)

SOLO RECORDINGS
2006Friends With Privileges
2015The Bura
2019Inside Out
and the beat goes on.
LOVE IN VAIN (ROBERT JOHNSON GRAPHIC NOVEL) 1936

The Bridge
(MARCH 7, 1965) — BLOODY SUNDAY
African American Time
1619 & Far Beyond The Beginning

BACK (TO THE BLUES)
BACK (TO THE BRIDGE)

Bernard Fowler
How Far The Stone Has Rolled.

As a young boy, Bernard sang along with his mom, _____, to all her favorite records: Mahalia Jackson, Jackie Wilson, and anything Motown. Bernard was living in his family’s small apartment, standing in the shadow of the Queensboro Bridge … the bridge that crossed the East River, into Manhattan, where Bernard’s journey began.

He couldn’t have imagined a day when he would stand on a stage in the center of Havana, Cuba, in front of 500,000 screaming Cubans … thinking to himself, “We’re not in Queesbridge anymore.

“Sympathy For The Devil”
Bernard Fowler
Inside Out
2021
((( spoken word )))

((( video ))) b/ dave.

“Fame”
For The Love of David Bowie
Fame — Celebrating David Bowie (2017)
Ponte Vedra, Florida 
Bernard Fowler (vocals)

Mike Garson (piano / musical director)
Earl Slick (guitar)

 

 


The Right to Cover The Stones.
1990 Bernard Fowler w/The Rolling Stones
1991 Flashpoint (Rolling Stones)
1992 Tribute to Charlie Parker with Strings (Charlie Watts)
1992 Slide on This (Ronnie Wood)
1992 Main Offender (Keith Richards)
1993 Wandering Spirit (Mick Jagger)
1993 Warm and Tender (Charlie Watts)
1993 Slide on Live: Plugged in and Standing (Ronnie Wood)
1993 Jump Back (Rolling Stones)
1994 Voodoo Lounge (Rolling Stones)
1995 Stripped (Rolling Stones)
1996 Long Ago and Far Away (Charlie Watts)
1997 Bridges to Babylon (Rolling Stones)
1998 No Security (Rolling Stones)
2000 Live and Eclectic (Ronnie Wood)
2002 Forty Licks (Rolling Stones)
2004 Live Licks (Rolling Stones)
2005 A Bigger Bang (Rolling Stones)
2005 Rarities 1971–2003 (Rolling Stones)
2008 Shine a Light (Rolling Stones)
2010 I Feel Like Playing (Ronnie Wood)
2012 Light the Fuse (Rolling Stones) Google Music download
2012 GRRR! (Rolling Stones) compilation album
2013 Hyde Park Live (Rolling Stones)
2015 From the Vault – Live at the Tokyo Dome (Rolling Stones)
2015 Sticky Fingers Live (Rolling Stones)
2015 Hyde Park Live (Rolling Stones)
2015 Crosseyed Heart (Keith Richards)
2016 Totally Stripped (Rolling Stones)
2016 Havana Moon (Rolling Stones)

Tackhead was created when bassist Doug Wimbish, guitarist Skip McDonald, and drummer Keith Leblanc (the Sugar Hill Records house band and one of the most-recorded electrofunk rhythm sections) met English dub master and On-U sound boss Adrian Sherwood in 1984. First under the moniker Fats Comet and then Tackhead, they recorded experimental 12″ singles using a sampler as an instrument, mixing dub, funk, and industrial music. In 1989, vocalist Bernard Fowler joined the band, taking it into a less underground direction.

Tackhead was also a backing band for Mark Stewart and Gary Clail.

The road to (Rock N Roll) Hell is paved with covers of songs written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. You can probably think of some really inexplicable ones without belaboring the point, like “Wild Horses” by Susan Boyle, or “Jumping Jack Flash” by Peter Frampton, or “Gimme Shelter” by the Sisters of Mercy. In each of these cases, and in the great majority of Stones covers, the essential ingredients of a Stones song are stripped away—for example, that Keith Richards guitar sound, or the snap of Charlie Watts’s snare, or Mick Jagger’s bluesy drawl — and what remains behind is so estranged from its setting as to have none of the qualities that made the song attractive in the first place. This would seem to suggest that despite the seductive idea of attempting to interpret the Stones, it is a job better left to the Rolling Stones themselves. Nevertheless, there remains the tantalizing possibility that a really great interpretation of the Stones lies in wait for us, if only the singer or performer in question were willing to go far enough. It’s into this space that Bernard Fowler projects himself on his recent collection of Jagger/Richards compositions, Inside Out, which was released this spring on Rhyme & Reason.

Fowler, whose incredibly varied career is discussed below, is among the backup singers for the Stones when they tour, and he has served in this capacity (and as occasional percussionist) for thirty years, and so it is a foregone conclusion that he now knows the material inside and out, as the title suggests. But part of what makes Fowler’s collection not only the best album of Stones covers that I know of, as well as one of the most interesting and compelling releases of 2019, is that Fowler uses his keen knowledge of Jagger/Richards compositions to go further afield. The songs are bent far out of their compositional form, their chords and melodies mostly set aside, and what remains is the sense of percussion as a starting point. This turns out to be an incredibly canny and insightful approach. Not only does Fowler make the songs more flexible and swinging than they often are on the Stones albums, he finds a deep and ancient point of origin for songs initially suffused with the blues, which is to say he makes of the Stones songs African-American music. There is funk on Fowler’s record, and soul, and something akin to free jazz and spoken word, and there is very little traditional rock and roll. Moreover, what unites the recording, makes it consistent and aesthetically coherent, is Fowler’s brilliant, insightful readings of the lyrics, which, when performed as though they were poetry, behave like poetry. No one, having listened to the whole Undercover album, released during a period of minimal contact between Mick and Keith, can be accused of thinking its lyrics were among Jagger’s very best, not on the basis of a recording beset by 1980s recording techniques. And yet when performed by Fowler, with his lovely, hortatory voice, some of Jagger’s most forgotten lyrics turn out to be urgent dispatches on drugs, political instability, grief, and mortality.

Inside Out, in truth, is one of the very best Rolling Stones releases in recent years and it catapults Fowler out of his sturdy, reliable, but perhaps sometimes confining home in the backline at the Stones gigs. He becomes, on this recording, an interpreter of great inventiveness, iconoclasm, and compassion, as well as a great and creative thinker about music, and about the politics of appropriation and re-appropriation. I have listened to his percussion-and-voice “bonus” version of “Dancing with Mr. D” as much as a I have listened to any song in the last three or four months, and it never gets old. It allows us to feel exactly the implications of the Stones track, in a way the Stones themselves never quite managed, with a full and unvarnished rehearsal of the ominous ache of the lyrics.

 

Photographs of Bernard Fowler by Casey Mitchell.

 

 

We’re Playing Basketball
Kurtis Blow (1984)
((( audio)))

— yZ.

Bernard Fowler w/The Rolling Stones

1991 Flashpoint (Rolling Stones)
1992 Tribute to Charlie Parker with Strings (Charlie Watts)
1992 Slide on This (Ronnie Wood)
1992 Main Offender (Keith Richards)
1993 Wandering Spirit (Mick Jagger)
1993 Warm and Tender (Charlie Watts)
1993 Slide on Live: Plugged in and Standing (Ronnie Wood)
1993 Jump Back (Rolling Stones)
1994 Voodoo Lounge (Rolling Stones)
1995 Stripped (Rolling Stones)
1996 Long Ago and Far Away (Charlie Watts)
1997 Bridges to Babylon (Rolling Stones)
1998 No Security (Rolling Stones)
2000 Live and Eclectic (Ronnie Wood)
2002 Forty Licks (Rolling Stones)
2004 Live Licks (Rolling Stones)

2004 Tack>>Head
BACK IN THE U.S.A.
Bernard Fowler (vocals)
Doug Wimbish (bass guitar)
Skip McDonald (guitar)
Keith Leblanc (drums)
Adrian Sherwood (mix)
Asylum Street Rehearsals
@ Sully’s Pub & Tiki Bar (Hartford, Connecticut)

2005 A Bigger Bang (Rolling Stones)
2005 Rarities 1971–2003 (Rolling Stones)
2008 Shine a Light (Rolling Stones)

2009 Tack>>Head
NEW YORK TIME
Friends With Privileges
@ The Highline Ballroom (NYC)
Keith Fluitt
Argentina Guitar?

2010 I Feel Like Playing (Ronnie Wood)
2010All’s Well That Ends Well (Steve Lukather)
2010Bought for a Dollar, Sold for a Dime (Little Axe)

2012 Light the Fuse (Rolling Stones)
2012 GRRR! (Rolling Stones) compilation album

2013Ronin (Tao Of Sound)
2013 Hyde Park Live (Rolling Stones)
2015 From the Vault – Live at the Tokyo Dome (Rolling Stones)
2015 Sticky Fingers Live (Rolling Stones)
2015 Hyde Park Live (Rolling Stones)
2015 Crosseyed Heart (Keith Richards)

2015The Bura
2016 Totally Stripped (Rolling Stones)
2016 Havana Moon (Rolling Stones)

Celebrating David Bowie World Tour

2016For the Love of Bowie
Celebrating David Bowie World Tour
Bernard Fowler w/
Mike Garson (piano) — Fingers taped, like an athlete.
Earl Slick (guitar) “Hi, I’m Slick,” emerging from back of the bus bunk saying exactly what Bernard had. “I’m tired, and way too old for this shit.”

Corey Glover (vocals) — Bending down to grab his laundry out of the tour bus cargo hold, Corey Glover says jokingly, “The glamorous life of a Rock N Roll star,” before walking to the Ponte Vedra Community Center’s laundry with a fist full of quarters.

Bring your kids to work day Daughter and boyfriend backup singer and drummer) Jimi Hendrix Woodstock percussionist Slick’s 9-year-old son in from Gainesville wheere he lives with mom. Teaching to iron backstage (Life On The Road).

Sympathy For The Devil

2019Bernard Fowler
Inside Out
((( LISTEN )))

2010 I Feel Like Playing (Ronnie Wood)
2012 Light the Fuse (Rolling Stones) Music download
2012 GRRR! (Rolling Stones) compilation album
2013 Hyde Park Live (Rolling Stones)
2015 From the Vault – Live at the Tokyo Dome (Rolling Stones)
2015 Sticky Fingers Live (Rolling Stones)
2015 Hyde Park Live (Rolling Stones)
2015 Crosseyed Heart (Keith Richards)
2016 Totally Stripped (Rolling Stones)
2016 Havana Moon (Rolling Stones)
2017 Sticky Fingers – Live At The Fonda Theatre 2015 (Rolling Stones)
2018 San Jose ’99 (Rolling Stones)
2018 Voodoo Lounge Uncut (Rolling Stones)
2019 Bridges to Bremen (Rolling Stones)
2019 HONK (Rolling Stones) compilation album incl. live CD (Lim. ed.)
2019 Bridges to Buenos Aires (Rolling Stones)
2020 Steel Wheels Live (Rolling Stones)
2021 A Bigger Bang Live (10″ Vinyl, 2 track, RSD 2021)
2021 A Bigger Bang: Live on Copacabana Beach (Rolling Stones)

 

Oblighetto

1991A Tribe Called Quest
The Low End Theory
((( LISTEN )))

— Alan Lomax

Muddy Waters w/ Rolling Stones
@ The Checkerboard Lounge (Chicago)
November 22, 1981 — In the middle of their American Tour, The Rolling Stones arrived three days early and did a three-night stand at Chicago’s Rosemont Horizon Hotel, before the scheduled show that weekend.

— Checkerboard Lounge

Long influenced by the Chicago blues, the band paid a visit to Buddy Guy’s club the Checkerboard Lounge to see the legendary bluesman perform. It didn’t take long before Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood and Ian Stewart were joining in on stage and later Buddy Guy and Lefty Dizz also played their part.

It was a unique occasion that was fortunately captured on camera.
Now, restored from the original footage and with sound mixed and mastered by Bob Clearmountain, this amazing blues night is being made available in an official release for the first time.

—30—

JAZZIZ — (Chicago Blues Club photographs c. 1980, including Lefty Dizz)

 

Bernard Fowler is most widely known by millions of people around the world as the longtime collaborator and backing vocalist for the Rolling Stones, a position he has proudly held for 31 years and counting.  His dynamic vocals have appeared on hundreds of albums for artists as diverse as Herbie Hancock, Yoko Ono, Alice Cooper, Bootsy Collins, and many more.
Fowler’s newest solo endeavor, Inside Out (released April 19 on Rhyme & Reason Records), is a brilliant re-interpretation of songs from the Rolling Stones catalogue, recasting them in a mode often reminiscent of the pre-hip-hop work of the Last Poets and Gil Scott-Heron. In the process, Fowler forges a new, very personal identity for songs he’s performed for decades alongside the “the world’s greatest rock n’ roll band.” The first single from Inside Out is a conga-driven re-make of “Sympathy for the Devil,” but generally the album dives into Rolling Stones deep cuts. Darryl Jones, Steve Jordan, Ray Parker Jr. and many other luminaries join in for some remarkable grooves.
It was an impromptu jam session on the congas during a Stones sound check that set the album in motion.  Stones front man Mick Jagger, impressed by the combination of Bernard’s  beatnik inflection of the lyrics and his funkified percussion, encouraged him to cut a record, saying, “Bernard, I’ve heard Rolling Stones songs played in many different ways but I’ve never heard it like this before.”
It turned out to be a bit of an adventure.  As Fowler says in the liner notes to Inside Out:
“I had an amazing time rediscovering these songs. Even though making this record wasn’t easy, I’d gladly do it all over again, even if I knew there were bumps in the road ahead.  Later, I played a taste for Keith, and he looked at me and said, ‘Damn, Fowler, you went deep…’
Fowler says Inside Out is for “all the Rolling Stones fans out there; this will help you hear songs you know in a new light.  They may take on a new meaning. This album is dedicated to you.”

—30—

Say it again …

Singer Bernard Fowler insists on operating outside of his comfort zone. Having worked with a long and diverse list of artists ranging from AC/DC to Duran Duran, Motorhead to Bonnie Raitt, Jerry Lee Lewis to the late Michael Hutchence, Fowler has written or performed songs spanning Rock, Pop, Blues, R & B, Jazz and Hip Hop.

Now, on his new solo album ‘Inside Out’, Fowler takes material from his most recognizable gig – his 30 year tenure as background singer for The Rolling Stones – and challenges himself once again. Choosing from over a half a century of Stones compositions, Fowler selected nine songs, provided them with sparse and nuanced arrangements, and delivered them through spoken word in his commanding and charismatic voice.

In this conversation Fowler discusses Inside Out, the Ghostbusting guitarist who contributed greatly to the album’s sound, whether or not the Stones are black guys in disguise, why it seems that they’ve been following him around his entire life, and if singing a great background vocal feels as good as it sounds.


Robert Ferraro: Bernard, you’re known for having a wide array of musical ideas at any given moment, but even this one was a bit of a surprise. How did you arrive on doing this type of take on the Stones?

Bernard Fowler: Even before I finished my last record, ‘The Bura’, I started thinking about what I was going to do next. I had a few ideas, but over time this was the one that kept on popping up. I’m always on the road doing one thing or another, but while I was out there working, this thing just kept coming to mind. While I was on the road with the Stones one night the band heard me messing around with the idea and they seemed to get a kick out of it. I told Mick (Jagger), ”When the tour is over I’m going to (record) this.” and he said “You should, because I’ve never heard anything like this.” He said he’d heard Stones songs covered a lot of different ways, but never like that.

Robert: Because you’re covering a band that you’ve been working with since the 1980’s, some people might look at this as relatively easy lifting for you. I would think that your involvement with them would probably make this harder not easier.

Bernard: That’s for damn sure. [laughs]

Robert: Is that why all the songs you’ve chosen for this record precede your tenure in the band?

Bernard: Honestly, It was just material that I found that worked. Early on in choosing I realized that a lot of the popular songs just weren’t going to work. People expect to hear them a certain way. So when looking at other songs, the subject matter was the most important thing. One song I knew that I was definitely going to do was ‘Undercover of the Night’. The subject matter was super strong, and I felt connected to it because the evening news bombarded us with news and images of the Contras and the Sandinistas when I was younger. That was the type of material I was looking for, along with wanting whatever I picked to be just as relevant today as it was then. I found all of that in these songs.

Robert: Liner notes tend to be fairly boring in this digital climate, but your notes for ‘Inside Out’ actually have something to say. You wrote: “I already knew how good these songs were – it was the subject matter that surprised me. These lyrics weren’t from the cats I had been sharing the stage with for the last 30 years, but from some cythonic place by someone new. I didn’t know the cats who wrote like this, and I wondered how many of their fans knew these cats that I seemed to have rediscovered. Could it be that the Stones are really some black guys disguised as English gentleman?”  Interesting thoughts coming from a black man who works with those English gentleman. What left you with that impression?

Bernard: It was the subject matter being so relatable. When I was growing up in the Queensbridge projects in New York there was a serious drug epidemic. I mean serious. They used to gather young kids like myself out and march around the neighborhood talking about “Dope Kills”.  At the time, if you didn’t know better you would have thought New York City was the only place with a drug epidemic like this. But they have the same shit going on over there (in England) and they wrote about it. And if you take the time to read these lyrics – just straight up read them as I had to – you see that there is a flow about them. There’s a distinctive flow about the way some of these ideas are written.

Robert: A flow that lent themselves to spoken word.

Bernard: I believed so.

 

Fowler performing the coda of ‘Tumbling Dice’ with Bruce Springsteen and Mick Jagger Photo credit: Love You Live Rolling Stones .com

Robert: You going this far back for your song choices made me think about what Stones era you would have most liked to have been a part of outside of your own. The ‘Some Girls’ to ‘Undercover’ period, 1978 until 1983, is right in your wheelhouse. It’s their ‘New York City’ era , and you are New York through and through.

Bernard: Yes, I am, and you’re right, It would probably be that era. But if for some reason it couldn’t be that, I would want to go all the way back to the beginning because the first album of theirs that I owned was actually given to me by my father. It was ’12 x 5′. Don’t ask me why he gave me that record. That was the first record of that type with those types of faces on the cover to ever make it into my house. I still have no idea why he brought it home, but I’m glad he did.

Robert: How old were you?

Bernard: Maybe 7 or 8.

Robert: It’s incredible that your life turned out this way.

Bernard: That kind of stuff with the Stones has been happening to me throughout my entire life. For instance, I got that record and became a fan. Years later I was working for a company that made bottles for a perfume company. We had finished this bottle and I had to take it to Rockefeller Center to see Charles of the Ritz or Avon for them to approve the bottle. I stopped in a deli to grab a bite to eat, and there was a limousine outside. I walked in the deli, bought a sandwich and as I looked to my right? There was Keith Richards. And guess what I was listening to on my Walkman?

Robert: The Stones.

Bernard: The Stones. Guess what album.

Robert: It would be too perfect to say ’12 x 5′, so because of the era, I would guess ‘Tattoo You’.

Bernard: You hit it on the head man! Good call! I was listening to ‘Tattoo You’. I loved the fucking Stones. Loved them. I grew up in a black and Puerto Rican neighborhood and there wasn’t a whole lot of Rolling Stones being played, but I loved Rock and Roll as well as the stuff that I grew up on out there. And now here was Keith Richards. I didn’t say anything to him at first but as I left the deli I thought I should go back and say something to him. I walked back and sat next to his limousine, waiting for him to come out, and when he did I just said, “Hey Keith, you’re a bad man!” He looked at me and smiled and said, “Thanks little brother” and got in his limousine and took off.

[both laugh]

Robert: Before the decade was over you’d be singing those songs with him on stage.

Bernard: Yeah, dig that! Only a few years before that, but after meeting Keith, I was in my first band, the New York Citi Peech Boys (who had a dance hit with 1982’s ‘Don’t Make Me Wait’). So, I go down to see my friend DJ Larry Levan in Paradise Garage (legendary NYC disco) right? And I walk in and who do I run into? Mick Jagger. These things kept happening. During the Peech Boys I started working a lot with Bill Laswell (producer and musician) on a Herbie Hancock album and I ended up touring with Herbie. On my 10-day break Bill calls me and tells me to come to London. He doesn’t say who I’m going to be working for. I don’t know why I’m going. He just says “Come to London.” I get there, and Bill takes me into this house…we walk inside a room and some dude is sitting on the floor. Bill says to him, “Hey man, this is Bernard Fowler. This is the guy that I’ve been telling you about.” The guy on the floor turns around, and it’s Mick Jagger.

Robert: You ended up singing on his solo album, and then touring that album, and the rest is history.

Bernard: That’s right. And then the Stones got back together after that to do their first album of new material in many years, and they called on me to sing on it. I’ve been rolling with them ever since.

Robert: I know you credit your friend Carmine Rojas, longtime Rod Stewart and David Bowie bassist, with saving what became your biggest career break. In 1988 you were irritated that Mick chose to audition singers for his tour since you had already sung the vocals on the album, but Carmine convinced you to keep your head and audition regardless, and Mick ended up choosing you anyway. Carmine appears on your new album in an interesting way.

Bernard: That’s right, he does. [laugh] I wrote a dialogue that appears in the beginning of ‘Undercover of the Night’, and I needed a Spanish-speaking girl to do the part. But not just any Spanish speaker, because every Spanish-speaking territory speaks the language their own way. Carmine is my Puerto Rican brother from New York so I called him and said,  “Carmine, I need a girl to read some dialogue I wrote in Spanish, but she has to be from Nicaragua. Can you help me?” He called me back and said, “No problem, she’s on her way.” [laughs] She came into the studio and I gave her the dialogue and not only was she from Nicaragua but she grew up there during the war! She knew the subject matter. So, at the beginning of the record when you hear the jungle sounds and you hear this woman under duress, she’s basically saying ‘I’m afraid! I don’t want to get caught by the military! If they catch me they’re going to take me to one of the camps where they took my mother and my father.” Then you hear a soldier come in and say a bunch of stuff that amounts to “Let’s get her!” Well, that’s Carmine!

Robert: You called on a long list of accomplished musicians to help you with ‘Inside Out’, but one that may stand out above the rest for most people is Ray Parker Jr., who beyond being the man who wrote and sang the Ghostbusters theme, is also a celebrated guitarist.

Bernard: I met Ray through Steve Jordan (drummer for John Mayer, Keith Richards and others), and let me tell you…Ray Parker is the baddest mother on the planet. I was doing some live show with Steve in New York where he brought Ray in and we became friendly. Later on I was doing something in the studio for the Jazz Foundation with Steve and Keith (Richards) and Ray was there again. When I was recording these tracks I had a great guitar player by the name of George Evans play on some of them but it was still missing that rhythm so I called Ray and said, “Ray, I need some rhythm guitars.” He listened to the songs and he thought maybe some wah-wah could be good because we had been talking about (Motown guitar great) Wah-Wah Watson. Ray came to the studio, said very little, plugged in, and before I could blink twice the shit was done. And it was killer! Ray absolutely killed it. He’s the icing on the cake for any of the songs on this album that have rhythm guitar.

Robert: Bernard you have a very distinctive way of speaking, and people like myself find it entertaining even when you’re not performing [laughs]. So even though this is a challenging musical idea, it wasn’t too much of a stretch to believe that you could command an audience with your non-singing voice. Is it too simplistic to call your vocal on this ‘spoken word’?

Bernard: Nope. That’s what I’m calling it. Spoken word.

Robert: How much spoken word have you done in the past, either live or on record?

Bernard: None. This is my first time around.

Robert: So, was there any time while recording this that you thought to yourself, “I’m in deep water here. What the hell am I doing?”

Bernard: Honestly, it felt really good right from the start. Because of what it was, if it hadn’t felt right very early, I probably wouldn’t have kept going and you and I would be talking about a different project right now.

Robert: With ‘spoken word’ did you find yourself attempting more takes than when you’re singing, or less?

Bernard: A lot of these cuts that made the record are first takes. It’s funny because in the beginning I was just laying down a guide vocal and sometimes when we finished recording we would go back and decide just to keep the guide. One of the engineers would get a little pissed off at me because they may have been the best performances to me, but as guides we weren’t using the best microphone on them and they weren’t the best recordings. He kept trying to get me to do them again and I would just tell him, “No!” [laughs] He would say,”Bernard, do you hear that (unnecessary) sound in the track?” And I’d say, “Yeah, but do you hear what it feels like? It feels too good. I’m not doing it again.”

Robert: Spoken like a true Stone.

Bernard: [big laugh] From your mouth to God’s ears, Robert.

 

Photo credit: JINI SACHSE
Fowler and Lisa Fischer, reunited at a recent ‘A Bowie Celebration’ show.

Robert: I recently watched a performance of the Stones performing ‘Slipping Away’ and the background vocals you were laying down with your old friend Lisa Fischer were so beautifully layered and harmonized that in the coda of the song they just elevated it and took it to another place. When you’re in harmony with another great singer like Lisa, does it feel as good for you as it does for the listener?

Bernard: That’s a great question man. It absolutely does. When you have a partner like Lisa Fischer it ab-so-lute-ly does. I miss her (Fischer departed the Stones in 2015 to renew her solo career). Onstage or off, we communicate without saying a word. I look at her and I know what she wants me to do and vice versa. When I was doing one of my other projects, ‘Nickel Bag’ with (guitarist) Stevie Salas, there was a song on one of those records called ‘Turning The Other Way’. We recorded some of that stuff in Mexico City and I asked Lisa to come down to the studio to help me out. I had an idea of what I wanted but I didn’t know how to express it. All I mentioned was that I wanted an operatic style. That’s all I said to her. When I went to show her the vocal I would just move my hand and she would watch. As my hand went up she went up, and as my hand went down she went down. She just nailed it. That’s a small example of how in-sync we were. And we’ve always been like that. Those gestures during ‘Slipping Away’ and all these other songs? That stuff was never rehearsed – we made that shit up on stage my brother! We felt that!

Robert: Bernard Fowler, choreographer.

Bernard: Yeah, right. Just don’t ask me to dance though. [laughs]


Purchase Bernard’s new album here: Inside Out

Check out Bernard’s website her: BernardFowler.com

Follow Bernard on Twitter: @bernardfowler

Follow Bernard on Instagram: bernardfowlersings

Follow Bernard on Facebook: BernardFowler


Robert Ferraro engages in conversations with pop culture figures. Recent guests include Melissa Etheridge and Paul Stanley, Ann & Nancy Wilson of Heart, comedian Gary Gulman and model Bobbie Brown.

See Robert’s Interviews: OfPersonalInterest.com

Follow Robert on Twitter: @PopCultRob

Follow Robert on FaceBook: @OfPersonalInterest

 

 

A Florida Journalist, Photographer, and Art Director with an eclectic client list of individuals and organizations with musical, visual, educational, and editorial interests.

Leave a Reply

*