A complete transcription of
THAT Issue of Rolling Stone Magazine . . .
allegedly the biggest selling issue at the time !
Reproduced courtesy of
This Is Your Life
and your cover
by Tim Cahill
Rock and Roll history was made in Charlotte, North Carolina , under cloud- swept skies as the sun moved into the last decan of Aquanus. On Sunday, February 18th, to be exact, seven formerly unknown musicians calling themselves Dr.Hook stumbled onto the stage of a cavernous dance hall called the Midnight Sun.The rest is fodder for thc Historians of this Troubled Age.
Dennis Loccorriere, the bearded 23year-old lead singer-in his alter-ego role as Larry
the Times Square wino-spoke at a record-breaking 27 motherfuckers per hour and was
cheered roundly for this feat. People threw joints at him . He moved like an abuser
of the drug alcohol, lurching around the stage,
|Microphones wobbled. Dennis lurched and stumbled and Ray did the sensual strut. To visualize the way Ray moves, you have to think of the chickenscratching music played on the great hillbilly situation comedies to introduce a rural scene, and then imagine someone dancing to that . Temper this vision with the knowledge that for almost four years Ray was the only white singer with any number of soul bands playing the raunchiest clubs in Chicago and Mobile. The music was loud and good and the harmonies were all there, as surreal and inept as the band's physical appearance . Billy Francis came out from behind the keyboard , gangly and slinking . He moved like Ray and the two men gangled and slunk at one another until Ray drove the taller man hack behind the keyboard. Dennis almost fell over. At least one microphone hit the floor.People in the Midnight Sun were standing and screaming and elbowing their way forward. Stage front, three beefy guards , not one under 200 pounds took turns watching the band and the crowd. One of them, a man who seemed less experienced than the others, was bobbing and weaving with excitement, bouncing playful punches off another's arm. "These motherfuckers are crazy," he said. The man taking the punches was tensed with fear of the crowd. "It's going to he tough after this one's over," he gritted, eyes glazed with hysteria praecox. "Think it will be rough as the Grass Roots?" "Rough as the Grass Roots ?" he snorted. "This is going to be ten times as rough as the Grass Roots!' History had gone down.|
|Dr Hook has been on the road for nearly 18 months, which means a year and
a half propped up on pillows against Holiday Inn bedboards, chain-smoking and choking on
cigarettes and watching one inane television program after another: family shows where a
lovable but rnischievous raccoon knocks over Aunt Bea's priceless vase, precipitating a
family crisis which is eventually ironed out and teaches one and all the value of animal
tolerance, ending in a scene at the dinner table where the lost raccoon walked proudly in
through the back door followed by a lot of little raccoons and Dad decides that its name
will have to be changed from Fred to Frieda and everyone laughs insanely until fade-out
and titles .
Touring, then, is a lonely highway, and there are those young ladies even in the Bible Belt states who know this and offer the entourage the Christian solace of spiritual conversation . In the private shop talk of the Hook band if she stayed with you one night , you fell in love with her. If she stayed longer, or followed you to the next town, you got married. This leads to conversations in dining rooms that have endangered the hard-won sanity of waitresse the country over: "Remember that big tall girl you fell in love with in Asheville?" "Fell in love? I married her." "Well, she's got a big funny lump on her left breast."
|The lbogaine- Adreno- chrome plexitab began to take hold somewhere
near South Hill , Virginia. Vanadium-taloned pterodactyls wheeled and shrieked above
the sea-green impala : gruesome madness inside a snot-colored car fishtaihng at 100 miles
an hour towards New York and a taping for ABC's In Concert series.
It had started as an ordinary enough day .I had downed the plexi-tab with my morning pint of avocado juice and was feeling pleasantly fucked -up and not at all delirious as we left the Charlotte Holiday Inn. Producer -manager Ron Haffkine sat in the back seat along with Dennis and Ray. Drummer Jay David drove. At the freeway entrance we passed two familiar female faces hitching north. "We'll be in Fayetteville next week," someone yelled and the two smiled and waved. The instruments were on their way to New York in a van driven by roadie Robert Woolridge who had long since legally changed his name to Nine Year, for impenetrable reasons . We pulled into a Charlotte pawnshop, Reliable Loan, and waited edgily in line behind a crowd if junkies who were selling their color TVs Dennis picked up an inexpensive Japanese nylon string guitar . He and Ray were going to work on songs 650 miles straight through to New York .I listened to the new song written for the group by Shel Silverstein, a chorus of which goes:
Roland the Roadie loves
Gertrude the Groupie
There was a spoken fade-out: "Come on in here baby, there's only about ten of us .
"I'm as big a fag as any of those big rock-stars .And Ray's an even bigger fag than me !"
Photo by Jim Marshall
"You know" , Ron Said , "I was talking to Shel the other day and he said that he'd heard you guys had written a song , he found it charming " Silverstein ahd wriiten all the songs but one on the first two albums . "When he heard you were writing more, he said he found it alarming.
Jay turned on the radio and a hundred miles later we heard "Cover of the Rolling
Stone" described as "a biggie burger on the whiz line," Jay looked for a
country station, muttering folklore about George Jones, Hank Williams and Merle Haggard .
Eventually the radio went off and they sang some George Jones songs, harmonizing in
mountain thirds, with a surprising depth of feeling and absolute honky-tonk funkiness. A
suspicious depth of understanding, in fact. Ray began to talk about his teen- age days in
Chickasaw County, Alabama. "There was these three brothers who were friends of mine
and they liked to fuck cows. They had a special stump, just like you've always heard
about. Anyway, one day the one had his two brothers back the old milk cow up to the stump
and hold it there. He was just about to marry that cow when he saw his sister coming up
over the hill. So he's standing there on the stump and his two brothers are holding the
cow, so he quickjumps on the cow's back and hollers, ' All right, boys, let her go.' Ron
added, "Ray thought chickens were little girls with feathers until he was 14."
One hour and a hundred miles later there was a siren and the car began
the belly-bursting swing to the side of the road. Ray emptied the contents of a Holiday
Inn envelope into the wind.
|Ron told about the time they'd had to slip out of Biloxi under threat of
arrest for a profane show. Dennis told about his recent bust in Hampton, Virginia. He had
said "motherfucker" several times in the act and the promoter got word to him in
the middle of the show that the police would arrest him if he said it one more time.
Instead Dennis said "shit" which was apparently enough to constitute profanity
in a public place. A Captain Champion and a Lt. Nichols caught up with the band in a
restaurant, but Ron and Dennis tried to tell them that the man who said the bad words
wasn't really a member of the band and was, at that very moment, on his way to
Mexico."It got to be an ego hassle then," Dennis explained. "They blocked
the airport and the roads. When we got back to the motel, there were police cars with
their lights flashing at all the entrances and exits. At least four of them. I gave myself
up and they fined me 26 fucking dollars."
Dennis broke into an improvisational song to the tune of"When Irish Eyes Are Smiling":
Oh you can't. say fuck on a Sunday
Not until we hit Washington, D.C., did anyone feel like talking. It was Dennis who said, "That was a good thing that happened. It gave me a little balance. After all those people screaming last night."
"Did you hear that guy who kept screaming 'Strahk up the gyaddyam bayand.'"
"The second thing is dignity." The car was passing the Smithsonian.
"Hey," Ron suddenly sitting up bolt erect. "That's where they have
Dillinger's dick. 18-inches long, in a pickle jar. Anyway, I'm not talking about our dignity.
Everybody has dignity and when we start thinking we're big stars, start treating people like
shit, then it's Spangle Time and time for us to get out."
It was clear these men were sick, but not into serious madness.
|The band was anxious to stay not in New York, but in Jersey. near the
entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel in a place called the Chateau Rennaisance - a place
considered to be the utmost in class in the choking industrial wasteland. Dennis, who grew
up listening to rumors about gangsters in the upper floors, loves the hotel. It's the kind
of place where everything is red and the ciga rettes cost 65cents a pack.
In the parking lot, we pulled our gear from the rent-a-car. Ray had the guitar and someone noted that we looked like a band of gypsies. Ray obligingly hit his flamenco strum which reminded everyone of "I got those fucking heartburns," and, without any conscious effort to offend or cause a stir, everyone sang that song on the way into the lobby. The man behind the desk, to give him his due, looked up from his work without a flicker of expression and said, "Dr. Hook, I presume."
(Thus spoke Dr. Hook-not in so many words-but rather as it was made evident in the mind of our reporter as he moved from bar to bar in the wake of the band, picking up an undeniable Dennis-like lurch toward the end of the evening.)
The Transfer Station is a huge bus terminal just across the river from New York City. Here commuters transfer to buses taking them to Hoboken and worse. In the early Fifties, when burlesque was getting a legal boot in the ass in New York City, the old girls bused over to Jersey and there they bumped and ground until the early Six ties when they died an unremarkable death as the dollars stopped flowing. There were at the time, as many as 20 bars in about ten blocks, and the competition was fierce.
|Joey Dee, a local boy, left the Transfer Station for the City's
Peppermint Lounge and 15 minutes of stardom, as The Peppermint Twist" made it big
Station bar owners shifted gears. Music sold more beer than flesh. Every bar had to have a
band. In the middle Sixties it was a great town for working musicians.
George Cummings, Hook's steel guitarist, played the meanest roadhouses in Mississippi and Alabama before making the move north. He played through most of '64 and '65 at Transfer Station bars. Dennis, about 14 at the time, used to hang out on the front stoops of those bars and listen to George play. He was in the process of getting kicked out of high school and his major recreation was to take an upper and bus over to the Times Square terminal and watch people all night. It was there he developed his fascination with bums and winos. He can mimic, down to the finest detail, the walk, the talk, and the pitch of any number of specific terminal cases .One night Dennis and a friend went out to put a dime on every drunk in every doorway. On the way home the two of them realised that the first bum up was going to have a bonanza, walking down the street and picking coins off his colleagues . I was so dumb Dennis says, I thought all bums got up at the same time like chickens !"
Dennis' favorite wino is Legendary Larry, the Times Square rasper. Larry stands in one Times Square doorway or another and insults people in his raspy- wino voice. "Ya smell like shit," Larry yells, or "Ya wifes a cunt." Dennis can do a perfect Larry - Half the time Dennis is onstage, he is Larry
While Dennis was studying this alternate lifestyle, Ray was in Alabama, singing in the soul clubs. Billy won one of the talent contests Ray used to run and the two of them sometimes jammed with George. Billy learned Ray's moves, and has lived pretty much the same kind of life as Ray.
The big time, for Ray, was Chicago where he did wine and ups. He had a sock full of ups. He used to hide them in the nooks and crannies of the clubs he worked so he would be sure to have thm' when he needed them. He even shot pool for ups. In the bars in nearby Cicero, if the bartender knew you, you could buy ten bennies in a roll for a buck if you asked for a "tootsie roll." Ray used to stay up for days, playing the guitar, singing, grinding his teeth. Sometimes he would have to take a friend to the hospital , like the time one guy tried to do 80 ups at once. Most morningsiwhen he woke up, Ray found himseff crying.
He went to Portland and took a job as a lumberjack, trytng to straighten himself out. Back in those days, before the accident, Ray had the hooded eyes and the slicked-back hair of the meanest cat in Portland. And he couldn't stay away from wine and ups. One night he was sleeping in the passenger seat of a Corvair while an equally fucked-up friend drove. Down where the road meets the Columbia River, they hit a guardrail. Ray woke up with blood in both eyes. The right front wheel of the Corvair had pinned him up against the seat and just before he passed out, he remembers the flashing lights, someone giving commands and someone else cutting him out with a blowtorch. He spent a year in the hospital and another six months back home in Chickasaw, getting well. They had removed his eye and put a steel brace in his leg. The time in the hospital got him off wine and speed at last.
George was back from Union City and Billy was around, so Ray joined them and the three formed a band and played the South. They broke up in Chicago and George went back to Union City to check the market. The Station was still booming and George called Ray and Billy and asked them to join him. This was 1969 and Dennis was old enough to come in and listen. One night George let him play bass and Dennis was an official member of the nameless band. "So what's the name of my band," the owner of the Bandbox wanted to know. "Yez guys got an hour to come up with a name." George, figuring Ray had the strongest image, came up with Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show. "Hey boys," the bartender would yell at them, "do that one yez recorded." They'd play "Proud Mary," and the bartender would tell whoever he wanted to impress, "I'm gettin' 'em for 80 bucks a week."
|Like any number of other bands in the area, Dr. Hook had made a demo tape.
A 34-year-old producer named Ron Haffkine heard it one day by happen- stance. Haffkine was
a friend of Shel Silverstein's and Silverstein had been commissioned to write the music
for a film called "Who is Harry kellerman " He refuesd to do it unless
Haffkine produced and Haffkine, after a visit to the Transfer Station, refused to produce
unless Dr. Hook did the music. (About this time the band picked up drummer Jay David. The
original drummer realized he was getting in over his head.) The film was a flop but the
soundtrack resulted in a Columbia contract. Haffkine, spending a good deal of his own
money, put the band up in a large house in Connecticut for a little over a year. Under
Ron's supervision, they worked on their act and their music seven days a week and
sometimes 15 hours a day. Rock and Roll boot camp is what they called it.
n San Francisco to record they picked up Rik Elswit (guitar) and Jance Garfat (bass). "Sylvia's Mother" was an immediate AM hit and the album got substantial FM airplay. The tour was on. "Right there," Dennis is saying, "where it says 'Go-Go Girls Nightly,' it used to say 'Dr Hook and the Medicine Show, Tonic for the Soul.'" We were standing out in the parking lot where the drunken truckdriver from Texas shot it out with the police while they played "Ooh Poo Pah Doo" inside. Down the street there used to be a place called Phil's Kitchen where Jay caught a beer bottle above the eye playing drums one night. He has a good-sized scar to show for it, but feels lucky because not too many months later, he saw a guy stabbed out in front of Phil's. In the bar across the street, Pete, one of Dennis' favorite winos, died quietly in a back booth over a ten cent beer. In that parking lot over there, Dennis and Ray were pulled over by a cop who talked like Elmer Fudd. "Aw wight fewwas," he said, "wet's see your wicense and wegistration." ."Can you imagine that cop in a dangerous situation ?" Dennis was saying. "Can you hear him yelling 'Aw wight fewwas, dwop those wifles.'"
|We were standing outside of a place called the Sands, where Dr. Hook had
played for nearly eight months."When we go in," Dennis said, "listen to
George the bartender. Last time we came in he said 'When yez cock- suckers gonna pull ya
shit in here and give us a night? Whatsa matter, yer fucks too big for us?'
Inside the Sands there is one of those revolving multifaceted mirror globes with colored lights bouncing all over the room which was decorated with murals of fluorescent palms. In the center of the horseshoe bar, a go-go girl undulated to "Superstitious."
"Hey," said George the bartender, "It's youse guys. Hey, I seen yez on television. I said, 'That's them.'
There were only a few people in the large room
and one of them was a 60- year-old man in a neat sweater and golf cap. Ray and Dennis and
Jay and Billy took turns shaking hands very formally with the man . They introduccd him to
me as their greatest fan, Smitty. "I used to tell the people," Smitty said,
"I said, if you dontt like the band tuffshinsky .I'll squash your
Several shots and several beers later it was time to go. There was a television taping the next day, then it would he back to the South for more touring.
Smitty's eyes were misting over with tears. He shook hands solemnly with everyone, then grabbed Ray at arms length, both hands on his biceps. "Patchy," he said, and the tears trickled slowly down his cheeks, but the voice was solid and strong, "when yez see Presley, you tell him Smitty from Joisy said Tuff . . .shin . . sky"
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