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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sunday Drive: Johnny Rivers

This week, it's one of your Head Trucker's all-time favorite rockers, the one and only Johnny Rivers.  Something about his live-wire voice has always grabbed me, not to mention his studly good looks.  The down-home Louisiana accent works for me too, but you'll be amazed when you discover in the interview where he was really born.

Let's start with Johnny's first gold record from 1964, the Chuck Berry ballad with a surprise ending:

I love the live sound of these recordings made at the Whisky à Go-Go. I still have the album depicted here, and back when I had a record player I must have played it a million times.  From 1965, here's Johnny's soulful cover of a big Supremes hit:

No one who wasn't around in 1966 can imagine how electrifying this next record was, with its opening riff taken from the "James Bond" theme - it came out at the height of the secret-agent craze that inspired all sorts of movies, TV shows, and even comic books and kids' cloak-and-dagger toys. For a time there, you couldn't turn on the radio without hearing Johnny taking the roof off with this rendition:

And believe it or not, at age 71 Johnny is still rockin' it as hard as he ever did - here he is performing in Beverly Hills last January:

This recent interview features Johnny discussing how he got started and where the road led him:

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