Delta Pacific
A pre-Blasters Blues Band
with bassist  Doug Allgood 

Music is the breath of life, the melody of the soul. It first spoke to a young boy of 8 years old, back when he saw Elvis Presley in "Blue Hawaii." Music heals the heart, celebrates our joys, weeps with our sorrows and can transport us back in time with as little as two notes.   

--- Prelude by Wilma Allgood ---

Delta Pacific
A pre-Blasters Blues Band
with drummer Kevin Fahy 

at John Bazz's father's spring factory, where we could be as loud as we wanted. John would play bass or guitar if I was on drums. Other drummers who played with us were Dave Carroll and John's brother Clint. I met Doug Allgood at high school. We became best friends more because we were influenced by the music, not because we were playing it.
     My brother and friends in college were setting up parties and became bookers. Somehow they got hooked up with the Golden West Ballroom in Long Beach. I mentioned to my brother maybe my band can play. We probably weren't paid anymore than in beer. The show was booked so I think Phil came up with the idea that if we're gonna be on a stage and we were already friendly with Lee Allen and Big Joe Turner, maybe they would come and play with us? Lee was probably intrigued to play blues with a bunch of white kids.  So they did.
     When we played with Lee, he blew our minds. Any musician knows that when you get on stage with another musician that can up the game, It's so exhilarating. It's like going into another dimension. And having Big Joe singing, I said to myself, "Is this for real?"
     At the Golden West Ballroom, because my brother was the promoter, I wasn't playing that night. He had me greeting the musicians when they came, watching the stage, and helping at soundcheck. So I was watching the show and couldn't see the piano in the back. This guy who we would learn later to be Gene Taylor was playing along. And I think Gene didn't think he was bothering anyone. But our bass player Doug Allgood was taping the show from right by the piano. We might have never known Gene was playing if Doug didn't listen to the tape later. Gene had a great boogie-woogie style.
     Most of us were going to Cerritos Junior High School in Norwalk. I think Gene might have come to me in school and said he really enjoyed the music that night. But I'm not sure we put it all together that he was the same guy playing the piano.
     It was a great experience. One of the conditions to get Big Joe to sing at the gig was that he said, he'd be happy to play, but he needed a ride to and from the gig. I remember driving down Florence Avenue to pick him up. Just being in his presence was amazing to have this legend with us and imagining the places he's played all over the world.
     After that we played a lot of parties that Gary Masi's older brothers set up. Mike Roach played with us and he was an incredible guitar player. Someone gave him a 1958 Les Paul Goldtop in mint condition. Mike was great on that guitar. He was the only one we knew who could play Clapton's CROSSROADS perfectly.
     We played a matinee show in South Central at a club and we were asked if we wanted to sit in with T Bone Walker and play a few songs. It was a privilege.
     When I think of Gene Taylor I remember that he and Phil argued about music all the time. I think they loved that. Whether it was a song or a tempo or anything. They both had strong personalities.
     After high school a lot of us went our separate ways. Phil and Dave took the music more to heart. I thought that there wasn't enough steady work in music to continue. Tony Tanner went to college, I took a good job and moved out of Downey. I saw the Blasters play at the Whiskey sometime after the first album came out and I was really happy for them to have such success.
-- AM

Dave Alvin Remembers Friends Who Have Passed On

(reprinted from Dave Alvin's facebook page)

David Olney [ March 23, 1948 - January 18, 2020 ]

Singer/songwriter David Olney died at 71 of a heart attack Jan. 18 while performing onstage in Santa Rosa, Florida. Dave Alvin: "I left my show at McCabe's tonight, turned on my phone and saw the shocking news that the magnificent songwriter David Olney had passed away. David was a songwriter's songwriter. A true master poet who, despite having his songs covered by a who's who of contemporary folk music, he never got the credit and accolades he so justly deserved. David was on two of my Roots On The Rails train tours and we got inebriated together a couple of times to the point of embarrassment but we never did sit down and write a song with each other. I deeply regret that. The world is a much less wise, funny, poetic and interesting place now that he's gone."

Little Richard [ December 5, 1932 - May 9, 2020 ]

I woke to the very sad news of Little Richard's passing. I always felt that he was immortal and now...he truly is. Some of his more boastful and outlandish statements, about his importance and impact on rock and roll and world culture, may have been exaggerated BUT not by much. Take a look on YouTube for a short clip of Richard from 1972 featuring Lee Allen, my beloved life-long mentor/teacher/friend and fellow Blaster, who played the sax solos on most of Richard's 1950s hits. I've always remembered how he opened his eulogy to Lee at Lee's funeral, "Lee Allen was a fine, beautiful and sexy man. In fact, Lee was so fine, beautiful and sexy that he was almost as fine, beautiful and sexy as me!" Rock In Peace, Mr. Penniman and thank you for everything.

Bob Biggs [1946 - October 17, 2020 ] Founder of Slash Records

I always liked him. Even when I didn't, you couldn't help but to like the guy. He was a very charming and visionary rascal. He was a great painter/artist, a high concept mover and shaker as well as a smooth, slightly shady jive talker with a brilliant and insightful ear for musicians/bands/trends on his label, Slash Records. I have to add that he gave us Blasters a chance when no other label would and even though we hadn't spoken in decades, I'm very sad that he's not in this world anymore.
But when he was wrong, he could be hilariously wrong. My favorite memory of what a seriously wrong goofball he could be was back when The Blasters were working on our album,
Non Fiction, in 1982 or so. He was hanging out every night with us in the recording studio, dragging along various art world and money world folks into our Blaster world, even though we had no idea who they were or any interest in most of them.
Late one night, he cornered me in the studio and whispered to me, "Let's step outside. I've got a great idea for you guys to consider. The two of us stepped out of the studio and walked silently for a minute down a dark stretch of Sunset Blvd before he turned to me and said, "I finally figured out what you guys need to add to the band to be really f***ing huge! I mean really blow everyone else away BIG, man!" I stopped walking and asked, "Wow. Okay. What's your idea?" "Just hear me out, man. It's so obvious to me that I'm shocked I never thought of it before."
"So, what's your idea?" He looked up and down the empty sidewalk as if making sure no one could hear him and then proudly declared, "Trombones! You guys need to add trombones! Think of it! The Blasters and trombones!!! No one has trombones these days. You already have the saxes, so all you need is trombones! We'll be huge, man! Everybody gets rich on this idea!" I nodded my head, smiled and said I'd bring it up to my brother and the other Blasters. And, of course, I never did. Maybe I should have.    Rest In Peace, Bob Biggs.

Billy Joe Shaver [ August 16, 1939 -  October 28, 2020 ]

The first time I met Billy Joe, was in 1987 when he literally kicked in the dressing room door of the Nashville club, The Exit Inn, after I had just played a gig there. I was inside with the head of CBS Nashville [ the label both Billy Joe and I were signed with at the time ] who was gently informing me that he was ending my tour support because my band, The Allnighters, was too loud and played too much blues and not enough country.
"Goddamn it!" Billy Joe drunkenly shouted as he kicked in the door. "That's the best damn music I've heard in this town for years! You boys gotta be from Texas."    "No. We're from California," I said.  "California, huh? Just like Merle Haggard." Billy Joe said. "Yes sir, just like Merle. You know Roy from CBS, don't you? He just told me that he's taking away my tour support." I said:  "Well, f**k him. He don't know shit. He just dropped me from his goddamn label last week. " Then Billy Joe paused and looked at the man from CBS Nashville. "How you doing otherwise, Roy. Good to see you, you old f**king bas

tard."   Due to the bad news from CBS Nashville, I was extremely depressed that night and I've always treasured that memory of Billy Joe barging in to rescue me from my gloom. Over the following years, he and I had several crazy, sweet and memorable experiences together. He was one of the greatest songwriters, not only in country music or Texas music but in all of American music. He was also a complicated, wild, funny, deep and sensitive man. I will miss him.

Gerald Locklin [ February 17, 1941 - January 17, 2021 ]

I can't tell you how much I hate to write this. My old poetry/literature professor/drinking comrade Gerald Locklin has passed away from Covid-19. A million years ago when I was a very young and semi-literate wanna-be poet, Locklin became my writing mentor and a wild, dear friend. His influence on me, both personally and on my poetry as well as my songwriting, cannot be overstated. Locklin, who was one of the most published poets in the world of the small presses, taught me (among many of his wise lessons) the important lesson that poetry didn't have to be written in overly obscure, highly academic language. It could be written with words and images understood by people who didn't normally read or enjoy poetry. Locklin, who was a close friend of Charles Bukowski, exposed me to great, if under-appreciated, poets like Edward Field, Ron Koertge and Fred Voss as well as patiently teaching me the pleasures of reading masters like Shakespeare, John Donne, Flannery O'Conner and Hemingway.
We also shared some memorable, out-of-control, drunken nights hitting all the great old bars that existed in Long Beach back in the '70s. I won't share any stories here of those wild evenings, but I will say that when Locklin quit drinking not long afterwards, I was relieved and happy for him. His poetry became more reflective and lyrical. He seemed more at peace with our absurd, imperfect yet beautiful world as he continued teaching through the following decades at Long Beach State University, exposing young (and old) students to the magnificent powers and joys of the written word.
I have a photo from a few years back on the night I saw Gerry for the last time. It was after he and I had done a reading at one of Susan Hayden's beloved Library Girl evenings in Santa Monica. I remember chasing after his car that night because I wanted to thank him one more time for everything he had taught me about life and literature, but I couldn't catch up to him. I guess I'll always be chasing after him. Thank you for everything, Gerry.

Ray Campi [ April 20, 1934 - March 11, 2021 ]

Very sad to hear of the death of the "Rockabilly Rebel," Ray Campi. The Blasters and I owe Ray Campi an awful lot for all his help in our very early days. In 1979/80, he spread the word about us among the small but passionate rockabilly/roots crowd, then Ray got us our first gig at the Whiskey Au Go Go and a month later took us out as his opening act to the San Francisco Bay area on our first tour away from Southern California. A few years later, we'd bring Ray out to join us onstage when we were headlining joints like The Palace, The Whiskey and The Starwood. My favorite time was when we were playing the Club 88 and Phil suddenly got sick on stage. Phil ran offstage leaving the rest of us Blasters trying to figure out what to do. I looked around at the audience and saw Ray standing at the bar, so I called him up. Ray ran to the stage, grabbed Phil's guitar and we did a whole set as Ray's back-up band. I loved it. Of course, the first song we did was Ray's 1957 rockabilly classic CATERPILLAR. I'll miss seeing, talking and playing with you, Ray, but I know you'll be rocking some sweaty, smokey, flat top joint somewhere on the other side."

Don Hefington [ December 20, 1950 - March 24, 2021 ]

I don't know what to say. Don Heffington has passed away. Goddamn I'm gonna miss him. To say Don was a great drummer/musician just doesn't cut it. I've known Don for forty years and he was always (and I stress always) an inspiration to me. Don was always the coolest guy in the room. He had been a teenage jazz prodigy who saw John Coltrane playing on West Adams as well as hanging out at the Ash Grove soaking in the blues. A few years later, Don worked as the house drummer at Art Laboe's Oldies-But-Goodies club on Sunset, backing up every doo-wop group, one-hit wonder and rock and roll legend that stepped on its stage. Somewhere along the line he also became a rock-solid country drummer that could swing a country shuffle with the best Nashville had to offer.
He played/recorded/toured with Dylan (that's Don on Dylan's surreal opus
Brownsville Girl), Emmy lou Harris, Lone Justice, Chuck E. Weiss, Buddy Miller, Peter Case, Victoria Williams, Lucinda Williams, Van Dyke Parks, Rosie Flores, Ronee Blakley, Amy Allison and the list goes on and on. He also played drums on most of my solo records from Ashgrove onwards through Eleven Eleven to parts of my albums with my brother Phil, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and up to my recent From An Old Guitar release (that's Don laying down the groovin' back-beat on my version of HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED, showing why Dylan once said that Don was his favorite blues drummer).