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Highlights, stories,  and other trivia 

There are so many music-related stories that I've been part of in the last four decades, that there is no way to list them all or do justice to them. The recollections below are some stories that came to mind when I was asked to recount some "highlights" and anecdotes taken from these years. Some of them are embarrassing, but they happened just the same. Hopefully some of my old friends will enjoy seeing themselves as part of these stories...

I had the opportunity to back-up the great British guitarist Bert Weedon, who at the time had the hit “Guitar Boogie Shuffle” – one of the many hits that he had in a long career in music. Also on the bill was a very young Cliff Richard, who went on to have a long and excellent career as a star in England, Europe, and also in the U.S.

That same year I had the chance to play guitar with Jerry Lee Lewis at the Hounslow Community Center in Northwest London. Off the stage he was a true Southern gentleman. On the stage, he was an absolute Wildman. He somehow tore the legs off the Steinway piano there, completely wrecking it. (One good thing, however: I got to sign autographs outside for the young girls who were surrounding the band…)

I saw Bert Weedon one more time, in 1993; he read the eulogy at my brother Roy’s funeral. I could never have imagined back in 1959 that my brother Roy would become a great and respected musician and composer, and that a boyhood idol of mine, Bert Weedon, would be the one to read Roy’s eulogy.

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  • 1962: The band I was "lead" guitar with (“Sonny Stewart and the Dynamos”) went on tour with Bill Haley and the Comets. We did U.S. Army bases with them for a few weeks, and had a ball. They were real cool guys, and still sounded great after all the years they’d played.

  • 1962-63: The Star Club. What more need be said? This was the place to be seen and heard in Germany, and gained a place in history as a venue for the early Beatles. These were grueling times: You would go on and do a set at 1AM in the morning, and your next set would be at 3PM the same afternoon. Sometimes you just played from 8PM to 5AM non-stop. I do remember that on the same billing as us were Tony Sheridan, The Rattles, Davy Jones, and Fats and His Cats.

Strangely enough, our band was at the Top Ten Club when the Beatles were at the Star Club. And at the time we thought they were awful! We didn’t think they would go anywhere. (This goes down as the second-most stupid notion I ever had in Germany -- the first was selling my Black Bison guitar). There also was a “Star Palast [Palace]” in Kiel, Germany, that mimicked the Star Club: All the instruments and amps were set up (mostly Fender amps) and you just plugged in your guitar and played. And that was one of the only redeeming qualities about playing some of those unreal places!

  • 1962: Under the category “I wish I still owned that guitar…”, this one takes the prize: That year I purchased the most innovative guitar ever made, the Burns Black Bison. It had a split sound, wild dog treble, and great vibrato arm. Eventually I traded it on a Duane Eddy Guild, which (fortunately) I still have. (In the Photo Gallery on this site, I’m posing with the Black Bison while wearing an outrageous 50’s band outfit.)

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  • 1967: Chicago, IL, USA: The Lyon & Healy Music Store. This was the finest music store anywhere at the time, and it was my “home base” for lots of my musical activities. In addition to playing band gigs, “jobbing”, and recording, I was working there as a showroom manager. (When they found out I actually PLAYED guitar, they offered me a job teaching – which I accepted).

Almost all the professional musicians living in Chicago, or who were traveling through stopped in there to look at new instruments, buy sheet music, or just “jam” in the practice rooms. Some of the people I only met “passing through”, such as Bette Midler and Lisa Minnelli. Others I either knew personally from my London and Germany days, or had met along the way. "Blind Faith" sax player Roy Wood was an old mate of mine, and I’d met some of the "Jethro Tull" members back in the UK. Earl Hooker, the famous slide guitar player was a dear friend. 

Eric Clapton walked in one day, and I hadn’t seen him since the early 60’s back in London. We had a great conversation talking about London days, but the chat was cut short when Eric’s manager kept reminding him that they had appointments to make. (Ah, the price of fame…).  

Actually, as often as I could, I would “play hooky” from the sales floor, and jam with visiting guitarists such as Kenny Burrell and Mike Bloomfield.  

Chet Atkins came in one day to promote his teaching method, and his brother Jim was with him. Chet was busy making appearances, so Jim and I wound up going to lunch and later jamming in my teaching studio. Not many people realize that Jim Atkins was also a very fine guitar player.

Lyon & Healy was sold in 1979 to CBS, and its doors in Chicago closed that year. So ended a great Chicago musical landmark.

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  • 1968: A tumultuous year in Chicago: I was the only “white” musician to play with the fine Malcolm X College Band. With the urban riots going on that year, it was a very unusual situation, but I personally didn’t encounter any problems. A real benefit of the experience was being able to play or sit in with headliners such as Richard (Groove) Holmes and the great bass player Eldee Young.

That same year I got a special Assistant Professorship with the University of Illinois, teaching inner city kids at various places in Chicago. One day some kids came up to me and said: “Mr. Budd, please don’t come in tomorrow.”

I didn’t come in that day, and that was the time a large part of the West Side of Chicago was burned down by rioters. It was a shock, but that was one of the realities of living in Chicago in the late 60’s. Chicago was a great place for musicians, but it couldn't escape the turmoil of the larger world outside.

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  • 1972: Under the category “Embarrassing Gigs”, this one stands tall: I was playing a gig at the downtown Hilton in Chicago, and it was a “roast” for Ray Kroc – the founder of the McDonalds fast-food chain. Danny Thomas was doing his comedy act, and at the moment of his punch line somebody hit my guitar amp.

Well, it sounded like an explosion, and the entire room stared at me. Danny Thomas glared at me, and was probably thinking of some diabolical Lebanese torture-punishment to suit the occasion.

(Someone should invent an amp with a built-in Star-Trek “cloaking device” for musicians in moments just like that…)

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  • Also in the 70's: Big Bands in Chicago remembered: Outside of the Chicago area, the following “Big Bands” and orchestras that I played for were relatively unknown: The Lou Breeze Orchestra, Leo Henning Big Band, Harry Berg Orchestra, Dick Single Orchestra, and the Dave Mall Orchestra. And there were many others that I never had a chance to sit in or play for.

Many of them have passed away now, but they were very good bands, and you’ll probably never hear the likes of them again. They represented another era – and a truly great one in music.

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  • 1974: A Roy Budd story: One of the great moments in my musical life was when I was in London with my brother, the great pianist and film-score composer. He was writing the sound track for Catlow (a movie “western” starring Leonard Nimoy). He wanted Spanish guitar music for this, so I played some for him.

He liked it, and added it to the score. A little later I went with Roy to London’s Olympic Studios and watched Roy conduct the orchestra that played and recorded his film score.

Was this my “kid brother” who had played Jerry Lee Lewis songs at the local cinema as a 10-year old? A world-class composer and pianist conducting an orchestra for his Hollywood film score? Amazing stuff, and I loved it.

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(Jim is the brother of Judy Tenuta, the nationally-known comedienne, and is a famous mime in his own right. There must be some kind of genetic defect that runs in their family that makes them outrageously funny…)

Anyway, at one of the student music recitals (normally very straight-laced affairs), Jim quietly came up behind me making mime faces and wearing deep-sea divers swimming flippers. The audience went wild, laughing uproariously – and I’m wondering what on earth is going on. I almost wet my pants laughing when I turned around and saw Jim in those flippers. 

So much for “straight” recitals...

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In corresponding with Duane via email, I discovered that Duane had known my brother Roy personally, and had jammed with him many years ago. He invited me to come down and visit. Who was I to pass up an invitation like that? A few months later I drove through Kentucky en route to Nashville and picked up my old musician buddy, Jack Schultz, and met Duane and his wife Deed for lunch. 

We wound up swapping all sorts of stories from his early musical days and from his and my own days of playing in Germany in the early 60’s. It turns out that while I was in Germany playing the American Army USO and German clubs (such as the Star Club) with the English bands, Duane was also playing some of the same USO and German club circuits – but of course as a featured solo “headliner”. It was marvelous to find out that he also was part of the German-tour insanity of the early 60’s! 

And a nicer, more down-to-earth man you'll never find. He and his wife Deed are gracious, classy, and simply just nice "real" people.

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Some of the instruments I’ve played over the years:
  • Hofner archtop acoustic
  • Burns Vibra Artist 1961
  • Burns Black Bison 1962
  • Baldwin-Burns electric
  • Fender Telecaster
  • Fender Stratocaster
  • Guild Duane Eddy
  • Guild A600B
  • Gibson Les Paul Custom
  • Gibson Les Paul Recording
  • Gibson SB Custom
  • Gibson L7 Jazz
  • Guild MG 75
  • Gibson 345
  • Guild Starfire VII
  • Goya Classical
  • Martin Classical
  • Martin D16 acoustic/electric
  • Martin ukelele
  • Washburn electric
  • G & L F100
  • Vega banjo
  • And many, many others.
    (My God, I could've opened a store...)

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Songs Written and Composed by me:
  • “Put a Log on the Fire”
  • “Chain Gang Blues”
  • “Funky Twit”
  • “Hustler”
  • “In the Groove”
  • “Dark Hair, Brown Eves”
  • “Samba for Two Cs”
  • “Olive Oil”
  • “B3 or not to B3”
  • “A Song for Roy”
  • “A Bossa for Med”
  • “Whole Tone Shuffle”
  • “I Like It’
  • “Frenchy”
  • “Handel It”
  • “Pixie Rag”
  • “Midnight Dreams”
  • “A Heavy One”
  • “Kitty’s Theme”
  • “Surf Rider 2”
  • “The Shag”
  • “Cresta Run”
  • “The Green Card” (with Jimmy Butler)
  • “Four Seasons”
  • “Ageless”
  • “Ageless II”
  • “I’m Back in Berwyn Again”
  • “Disco Duck”
  • “C Saw Rag”
  • “Anything That You Want”
  • “Key to My Heart”

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  • Writing music
  • Photography
  • Drawing
  • Riding my motorcycle
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