Phil Kenzie is an English born Saxophone player who currently resides in Nashville. Having grown up in the time period where rock and roll was young and rapidly gaining momentum, Phil set out to be a part of the movement. Starting off with the harmonica and eventually switching over to the tenor saxophone, he began to perform with groups in the Liverpool area and shared the same stages as The Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Jerry Lee Lewis and others. As he was honing his craft and paying his dues, he started doing a lot of recording session work with local talent. This led to sessions with The Beatles, both collectively and individually as well as other major recording artists. After recording a classic sax solo on the hit record of "The Year Of The Cat" by Al Stewart, Phil made his way to America and hit the ground running. He continued his session work with many top bands and artists such as: Rod Stewart, Black Sabbath, Roger Daltry, Stevie Nicks and so many others. Phil wound up being member of Rod Stewart's band during his heyday. As the Eagles were voted the top band in America in the early 80's, Phil performed with them on the classic "The Long Run" tour in front of stadium crowds. Today Phil is on a mission to save the sax solo in popular music, which seems at this time to be disappearing. Look for Phil to be performing in a city near you with his SOSS review - "Save Our Sax Solo".
R.V.B. - Hello Phil?
P.K. - Yeah.
R.V.B. - This is Robert von Bernewitz from New York. How are you today?
P.K. - I'm fine, how are you doing.
R.V.B. - I'm doing pretty good. Are you still on tour in the south?
P.K. - At the moment we're in a production of a promotional video, so I'm having a little bit of a week off.
R.V.B. - That's nice. It must be nice to have a week off.
P.K. - (Hahaha)
R.V.B. - With your busy schedule and your great career that your having.
P.K. - Well there's no real day off because I'm always in the studio anyway.
R.V.B. - You know, I did some research and I found that there's actually one person that you haven't played with and that's the man in the moon.
P.K. - Oh, ok. (Hahaha) Talks are ongoing.
R.V.B. - You might hop aboard one of those Russian shuttles?
P.K. - That's exactly right.
R.V.B. - Congratulations on your fantastic career that you're having... It must have been quite a ride so far. Have you visited a lot of different studios?
P.K. - I've certainly recorded in many notable ones. Specifically places like Olympic - Barnes, Air - London, some out in L.A. and also New York... of course Abbey Road, which is one of the most famous because of The Beatles.
P.K. - At the early stages of my growing up, it was just - post the war. So things like rationing were in effect. You didn't see things like cars very much, not many people had them. As you see in pictures of Holland and places like that, the biggest transport thing was the Bicycle. People used bicycles a lot, I did as a child. Even our insurance agent who used to arrive at the house, arrived on a bicycle. If you looked down any of the side roads, you'd see one... maybe two cars. Now, if you look down a side road, it's end to end. There's nowhere to park, everybody has a car. Then of course in the 50's, there was a new affluence going on. I think the right wing party at the time was saying to the British public "Oh, You never had it so good". I believe in America, it was pretty affluent for the lower middle classes or even the working classes in the 50's. There was a lot of car production and post war explosion of good times as it were. That's when Rock and Roll started of course... right in the middle of the 50's. So all of that was very exciting as a youngster. It's hard to have something to compare to it if you had not grown up in another country or a different time. I feel very lucky to have grown up when I did, really.
R.V.B. - Right, were you primarily getting your music from the BBC or were you able to pick up records of the stuff that was coming in from America?
P.K. - In the very early days, there was a very first, what I would have called almost "Pirate Radio Station" coming from Luxembourg. It was called "Radio Luxembourg". We used to listen to that, and fact I recall listening to it one night when it was the first time I heard The Righteous Brothers doing "You Lost That Loving Feeling". Those were the early days of radio from there. The American stuff we didn't receive, everything was BBC. The 50's was the very beginning of the independent radio stations. As you probably know, the BBC was essentially funded by the government. It's a public radio station really. Then there was ITV and ATV and other independent television companies in the late 50's. There was black and white and then all of a sudden "Wow", color television. All of that started in that period. Of course Hi-Fi's and diamond needles... stereo and things like that. Those were all things that started as I grew up.
R.V.B. - Was you're family musically inclined or did you pick it up on your own?
P.K. - Well. my mother ended up in a rather nasty divorce very early on in their marriage, so I ended up kind of fatherless for a while. She eventually re-married and I had a step father. I didn't have a necessarily wonderful relationship with him. We didn't bond in that sense of the word. Coming from my mother's side... that's really all I've got. She in fact, was musical on the piano and was very encouraging of us musically growing up. She had a large record collection of all kinds of eclectic stuff. Everything from opera to American black artists. Some rather obscure things like Nellie Lutcher for instance, who was a piano playing black artist of the time, who played a sort of boogie woogie style... rather like Fats Waller. She liked a lot of that stuff... a lot of blues singers: Carmen McRae, Ella Fitzgerald, she loved Sarah Vaughn. So we saw a lot of the jazz side of the African-American as well as the white players growing up. I was introduced to jazz as well as opera at the same time. We were a pretty poor family, but we had a good grounding. Things like that seemed reasonably available at that time.
R.V.B. - It sounds like a nice wide variety to be exposed to. Was there a local record store nearby?
P.K. - Yeah, there was one called Struthers in a town called Liscard which was local to Wallasey, where we did our shopping. We used to shop for our records there. Liverpool is a stomping ground for working, which is on the other side of the river. You know the famous song Ferry Cross the Mersey, from Gerry Marsden. We lived on that side of the water and we were known as Wally Boys to the Liverpool crowd. (Hahaha)
R.V.B. - Do you remember the first records that you purchased with your own money?
P.K. - They would have been early popular records of the day. I can remember Johnny Mathis. I bought Frank Sinatra records and things like that. This is just during the beginning of rock and roll. It hadn't really started as a cult at that point. Once it did... it was more for us going to movies to see. We were always rushing out to see things like: Rock Around The Clock, The Girl Can't Help It, and things like that. They were all rock and roll movies to us.
R.V.B. - How did you get started with a musical instrument: Did you ask your mom for one... how did that work?
P.K. - Originally, I started playing the harmonica... as a small child of about 6 or 7. People were surprised that I could pick out melodies and play them on the harmonica. I started with a little plastic one and moved on to better and better ones. I ended up with a chromatic one, which was a junior version to the one Stevie Wonder had played. So I quite evolved on those, and at that point in the middle of my school years... probably at age 14 or 15 is when "Skiffle" came in. People started pulling out guitars and generally strumming heavily. There wasn't so much of the electric guitar thing, and they were singing folkish' kind of songs. That's when I met up with a tall gentleman... now retired called Lofty Davis, who at that time was starting a band called The Spinners in England. It was kind of his way of a tribute to Pete Seeger in America, who had a group called The Weavers.
R.V.B. - Yeah, a very popular group.
P.K. - Exactly, so The Spinners were kind of a spinoff off... excuse the pun, of the folk thing. He was the first one who showed me an album of very early Bob Dylan. The one where he's walking down the street, probably in like New York.
R.V.B. - Yeah, probably in the Village.
P.K. - Somewhere like that. That was his very first album. He was showing me Bob Dylan as a new American folk artist, who had just been discovered as it were. I ended up playing harmonica with them, and of course watching them play the guitar made me want to do that. So I begged and pleaded and eventually I got a very cheap, (Hahaha) rather not a very good guitar to play. I used to bang around on that and play with some of the folk groups there... trying to learn guitar. As this musical thing was on going, my sister... who was two years older than me, dated a man who was somewhat older than her. I'm not sure if he played drums or what, but he was a jazz critic for a Liverpool newspaper called "The Echo". I think his name was Keith Roberts. He started feeding her lots of jazz records... especially big band stuff... in particular, Stan Kenton and people like that. She came home with those, and I would listen to them. I was always taken with a character called Vido Musso. He used to play with the big bands. In those days there was very little in the way of microphones and the saxophone wasn't the loudest instrument in the band, compared to trombones and trumpets. If you have to play a solo, you really have to get out there and give it some stick. You have to blow hard. The American thing and tenor technique at that time was to get volume out of the instrument. They weren't being mic'd.
R.V.B. - Gerry Mulligan played the tenor right.
P.K. - No, no, no, he was a very famous baritone player. The baritone is half an octave lower than the tenor. When you used to look at most big bands... the right side of the sax section, you'd see the baritone and then there'd usually be three tenors next to him or two tenors and an alto. I think Kenton was the only one to have four tenors... probably for weight, because they were louder instruments. The American big bore saxophones produced by King and Conn were all designed to give loudness. It wasn't until the 50's produced the smaller band, when big bands were failing due to the size of the operation and the cost of it, that jazz kind of downsized and went to the combo outfits. They had maybe, one to three horn players. Modern jazz came in at that point, and with the effect of certain artists using heroin, tone, speed and technique became the answer... not loudness.
R.V.B. - Like Charlie Parker, with the Bebop.
P.K. - Exactly, from Dizzy Gillespie on. Of course Charlie Parker had a hand in it... and you got Coltrane, So in the 50's and 60's, that were really speed merchants. The faster horns became more popular. That's when the Selmer Mach 6 jumped to the forefront as the horn of choice for just about everybody.
R.V.B. - In the 50's, Doo Wop and Rock and Roll had primarily tenor solos
P.K. - Pretty much. It wasn't until Edgar Winter where you would start to hear alto solos. Ray Charles like to have the alto. You'd get some alto solos here and there, but most of it was tenor. That's why I took to the tenor, because as they'd say "It's a man's instrument. It's a big sounding instrument". (Hahaha) The tenor, remains to this day, the most flexible of all the saxophones. If you have one guy in the band, he better be a tenor player.
R,V,B, - It has a good range. You can hit high notes and pretty low notes.
P.K. - Yeah, and you got volume as well. You just don't have the bottom on the alto. You need some weight along with volume when you're playing a horn part, otherwise the guitar will just kill you.
R.V.B. - When you got your first horn, did you get any formal lessons?
P.K. - I was just one of those, pick it up and start playing it. I don't think I took any formal lessons until I reached London when people said "You should take lessons, just to learn to read". I did do a few lessons then, but not many. They bored the hell out of me. (Hahaha) Unfortunately, a lot of the lessons... just like school lessons in America are geared around learning jazz. By that time I was a "died in the war" Rock and Roll player. The two genres of playing are just totally different. People occasionally cross over ut most of the time it's a different approach. Rock and Roll is based much more around the old big band roaring tenor players of the 40's and 50's that grew into rock and roll. Whereas jazz has gone down the "how fast you can play" routine. They set the horn up different with the reed and everything. Jazz players kind of became incapable of playing rock and roll because the setup was all wrong. The reverse was true of rock and roll. They became incapable of playing jazz because their setup was at the opposite end of the street. They wanted piercing loudness and screaming high notes, whereas jazz wanted speed with circular breathing.
R.V.B. - I would think that keys come into play. With rock and roll and the guitar, you have keys of E and A and D that are popular. In jazz you go into B flat and E flat.
P.K. - You play the easiest keys on the horn in jazz to suit the horn as with rock and roll you play the easiest keys for the guitar player.
R.V.B. - That doesn't necessarily make it easy for the horn player.
P.K. - No it doesn't. It means you lean all kinds of keys with sharps and flats in them. Whereas if you're playing jazz in B flat, the horn is set in B flat. It's like playing in C on the piano. So a lot of tunes in jazz are set in B flat because they're easier. For a guitar... the guitar is tuned in E, so you're gonna get a lot of tunes in E and in A,D,G. On the saxophone because of the transposition are all weird keys.
R.V.B. - From what I hear F# is a pain in the neck for sax players. So as a sax player, did it make it easier for you to get involved in the scene over there in England?
P.K. - What was happening in music at that time was, when rock and roll was there, everything was all in one. As far as the English concept of it. We later found out, that wasn't quite the case in America because there was segregation. So looking at the movies, it wasn't quite as integrated as it looked in Europe. What we visually saw was not the reality. It was kind of a black circuit and a black radio in America along with a white radio and a country circuit. We didn't really appreciate that. We didn't know that was how it was. In England, everything was lumped together. The BBC homogenized everything into one great pile. So you would get a Frank Sinatra record one minute, a country record the next, a blues record the next, a rock and roll black artist the next, and before you know it you'd be listening to Pat Boone. It would be across the board, mixed together. What was happening in the 60's, as I was starting to function... of course, the Beatles was happening. What was happening in America was a complete blitz from what had been the status quo. The Beatles changed everything.
R.V.B. - Yeah, they sure shook things up.
P.K. - Heck yes, and it will never happen like that again because the two markets had very much been inward looking. The British were looking to America, but had its own style and it was developing in rock and roll from what it perceived of America. Whereas America, was not looking to England, so when England arrived on the scene... they were almost shocked. The Beatles hit like a title wave in America. At one point I believe the Beatles had five records in the top ten.
P.K. - Well the same thing was happening in England. We had stables of artists, who had names like Lance Fortune, Dickey Pride... they were all made up names. They were copying the American counterparts... Frankie Avalon and people like that. They were all in the way, trying to follow along the steps of Elvis... and be that rock and roll sex, gyrating idol, as it were. Yet on the other side of course, they were not so idols... what was being appreciated on the rhythmic and the dance end... especially in the north end, were all the black artists. If you look at the Beatles... they were all following R&B songs that were brought back by sailors on the liners that went to New York. They bought records in New York and took them back to Liverpool. They weren't bringing back records of Frankie Avalon. They were bringing back records that were happening in New York, in the black circuits. Things like "Money, Some Other Guy" and things like that. They were all sung by black artists that were on black radio. We didn't know one way or the other. There was no way of telling what color somebody was, or did anybody particularly care. The British loved people like Little Richard. They loved Jerry Lee Lewis just as much.
R.V.B. - They're very exciting performers.
P.K. - Exactly, both of them. There's famous photos of the Beatles with Little Richard. We played the same gigs with my group called "The Pressmen" and we were on the same bill as Jerry Lee Lewis. He was stamping on his piano, doing the whole act that he did.
R.V.B. - Tell me a little bit about the Pressman. How did you get the name?
P.K. - That was started because of a self taught intuitive guitar player called Richie Prescott... from that came the name Pressmen. We were one of the first bands to put in saxophones and the only major black singer in the Liverpool was a guy by the name of Derry Wilkie. We were aiming towards being Little Richards band. We didn't have a keyboard for the piano part of things but we ended up with two saxophones... a baritone and a tenor sax and a black singer. We were kind of trying to cover that end of rock and roll. Whereas The Beatles of course, were doing the three guitar thing... which is slightly more country orientated. In fact some of The Beatles numbers were slightly country orientated. On the other hand they were listening to everything. They were listening to hard rock and roll... things like the Isley Brothers as well as listening to Carl Perkins.
R.V.B. - How was the club scene when you were getting started with the Pressman?
P.K. - It was abundant. Lots of clubs... we played The Cavern, The Iron Door and places like that... all dangerous places to play. Especially the Iron Door. Liverpool was a very rough city. It's very much like the New York waterfront, if you will. there's big liners coming in... loads of merchant shipping and things like that... sailors coming off the ships and wanting to have a roaring Saturday night out... red light districts with prostitutes. Hamburg was exactly the same thing as well. There was all ships coming in there... loads of different nationalities. We had tremendous fun in the Star Club. The British rock acts were so popular because we could sing... well the Germans, didn't know the words to things so we'd give them Liverpool acts out of a sense of humor. Liverpool was big on humor... you could tell that by The Beatles. Many comedians came out of Liverpool on National radio. We would do things like, put strange words to tunes and have German groups play them. It would only be the British and American's who were falling about laughing themselves silly while the German people were staring at the stage in stark silence wondering what was funny.
R.V.B. - Give me an example of some of the cover songs that you did in those days?
P.K. - We would do Ray Charles stuff, and Derry would sing "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" and things like that. One of the first things we recorded was "Hallelujah, I Love You So" by Ray Charles. It was a big mixture. We would do early Elvis stuff. It was very much a cocktail mixture. Of course there was a lot of Chuck Berry. We did Sweet Little Sixteen, which was a popular one... "Roll Over Beethoven". All the groups covered that kind of stuff, and again incoming stuff from New York... The Four Seasons, we would do stuff by them... Frankie Valli. Gerry Marsden did that kind of stuff. It was very eclectic. We didn't have anything that said anything was right or wrong. There as no audience opinion that said "Oh. you're not playing that are you?", because people loved everything, if you played it well enough... again, radio was Impartial. It was not pumping or pushing anyone in particular, other than if the management of the artist was bombarding, or trying to produce as much as promotion in the newspapers or the music papers?
R.V.B. - Or paying somebody off.
P.K. - There wasn't so much knocking in those days... everything was new and it was like who's wonderful this week. People just went on from one hit artist from the next in amazement. All this new stuff was coming out all the time. It seemed like a very abundant songwriting time. I think Tin Pan Alley had a field day with it. Of course that encouraged The Beatles to write. That's what everybody wanted, and of course they had massive numbers of hits. Everybody jumped on the bandwagon writing songs. It was a way to get rich, but it was also a way to become famous and have glamour and break out of what had been the dark side of the war, which was a very much frightening time in Europe... America didn't go through that the same way. You didn't suffer bombings and stuff like that.
R.V.B. - Yeah, that had to be scary.
P.K. - I remember as a child... I didn't know anything, I must have been one or so years old, and I was in my sisters bedroom and looking out the back window. We used to have the blackout curtains so no light could show out and of course I opened the curtain and I was looking out... I could see search lights going off and the crump of bombs and things going off. I remember that at one or two years old.
R.V.B. - The scary thing was that they were just randomly dropping. They just dropped them out of the bottom of a plane and wherever they landed they landed.
P.K. - A lot of planes didn't know where they were. Liverpool had two rivers. There was the Dee... if they were coming in a circular way down the Atlantic coast and trying to bomb Liverpool, where all the American ships would be arriving from the North Atlantic convoys, they would cross two rivers. There was the river Dee, the Mersey, a peninsula, and they didn't know which was which. They would end up crossing the river Dee thinking it was the Mersey, and drop bombs in Wallasey, that was supposed to be dropped in Liverpool. There was a lot of confusion. A lot of times German planes didn't know where the hell they were? I remember to everyone's startled amazement one time, there was a sea fort in northern Liverpool, which was a Spitfire base, where they had the floats on them, so they could take off on the water. My mother and I were walking with the pram along the riverfront and there came a German Heinkel bomber straight down the river in broad daylight. We were looking at it in stark amazement. (Hahaha). Where did this guy think he was going. The Spitfires came out of the sea fort and just shot him down.
R.V.B. - Wow... that was a terrible time period.
P.K. - A very dangerous time. People had to continually dive for cover or spend time in dark shelters underground. Everybody had a kind of bomb shelter in the back yard.
R.V.B. - I remember even growing up in the 60's and having to hide under desks and have drills.
P.K. - Ours weren't drills... ours were reality. (Hahah)
R.V.B. - That had to be scary stuff. Did you ever catch the American artists when they came through?
P.K. - Oh absolutely. As a teenager, I remember I didn't have much money in my pocket. I was only a young lad and I was still wearing my school uniform. I was probably about 14 or something like that and I was walking to Liverpool and I happened to walk passed the Liverpool Empire and I saw to my surprise The Motown Review was on. I thought "Oh, it was really cheap and it was the afternoon show" so I could get in. I just had enough money. I went in and sat there on my own and watched the entire Motown Review.
R.V.B. - Who was in the review?
P.K. - Marvin Gaye, on top of the bill was Smokey Robinson. I remember him in the white shirt and bending down and singing "Oh-E-Ew Baby Baby" and there was a bunch of girls screaming in the front.
R.V.B. - What a voice Huh?
P.K. - Amazing... we didn't see voices like that in England at the time. It wasn't till later where the British singers started to emulate the black singers, as they so admired. It took a while for that style to catch on, as it were.
R.V.B. - Were the ladies there from Motown?
P.K. - Yeah, there was Martha and the Vandellas, The Supremes. they were all there.
R.V.B. - How much was that show?
P.K. - I think the cheap seats back in the day it was probably what is the equivalent of a dollar.
R.V.B. - Wow. That's amazing
P.K. - It was very cheap in those days. It was a promotional tour. It was all backed by Motown, promoting what they were doing. Liverpool just happened to be a stop. The theatre wasn't entirely full because it was the early show. It probably would have been full for the evening. There were matinee prices. I was utterly fascinated as I was sitting there watching. It didn't dawn on me even until later when I realized what I saw. (Hahaha)
R.V.B. - So what happened to The Pressman? You did your rounds... you opened up for The Beatles right?
P.K. - Oh yeah, on The Cavern. In fact there are photographs on line of that particular evening showing us and The Beatles at the same time. You could tell by the amplifiers on the stage and the position they are in, it's the same night. The Pressman placed in a competition that gave them a somewhat dubious record contract. It turned out that it wasn't beneficial and they tried to get out of it and it wasn't going to happen. So the rest of the members just broke the band up to get out of the contract.
P.K. - It all started when I was backing various people and I met up with Jackie Lomax... who now passed on sadly, who was part of the Undertakers band. He had been a friend of George Harrison. He had kind of re-introduced us to them. We had known the Beatles then but they had become famous and everything disappeared. I always classify it as peculiar, that I wound up playing on a Beatles track, which turned out to be their swan song. Early on, when The Beatles were just getting successful, I can remember being in Liverpool and going into Frank Hessy's... the little music store there. In the back is where they kept all the accessories like the strings, the picks, the sax reeds or whatever. I was walking down to the back counter and there was Jim Gretty who was a famous character because the Beatles mentioned him. Jim was very supportive, He himself was an artist that used to play a big cello guitar and put a cowboy hat on and sing cowboy/western songs. He knew what it was like to go around and try to make a living. He used to supply... especially The Beatles, because they had no money. They just came out of art school and were trying to make it in rock and roll. Of course they were doing pretty well. They had been discovered by Brian Epstein. Now they had a manager and finally they had gotten to EMI and they had their first little record out "Love Me Do". It got into the top ten but didn't break the bank.
R.V.B. - It put them on the radar.
P.K. - Yeah, it put them on the radar for sure. So we were pack members and I thought "There's a Liverpool group that's finally got a record on the charts". It was all the London groups and all the American groups all the time. Anyway, I walked down to the back and there was a guy there to the right with one of these leather jackets on and his hair slicked back. I didn't recognize him from the back. As I approached the counter to ask for something, I never got the words out because he said "Hey Phil, look at this", and he hands me a yellow piece of paper. It took me a second to realize what it was. Then I realized it was a telegram. I started reading it and it said "From EMI Records to Paul McCartney. Congratulations on your first number one hit Please, Please Me". I turned sideways as I'm holding this telegram and there's Paul against the wall, looking shy and coy at me and nodding, like "Isn't that great". The first thing he did once he got that telegram was run down to Jim Gretty. Jim used to slide him bass strings. We always used to joke that junior got fired because half the stock was missing. It was Jim who was sliding it out there. Bass strings at that time were manufactured in America. Fender and Gibson were probably the only people who made bass strings, so you had to pay through the nose for them when they imported to England. The exchange rate wasn't very good, so they were expensive. You couldn't afford them, so if you broke a string you were in serious trouble. That's why he was there. So later is was appropriate when I realized that one night I had been working from some time when I was introduced into Apple. One of the factors was Doris Troy of "Just One Look" and "Whatcha You Gonna Do About It" records. The Hollies had hits with them as well.
R.V.B. - I'm familiar with Doris.
P.K. - Doris was from New York. In fact she was the first person I went to New York with and stayed with their family. She was in Apple trying to persuade George to do the album because she wanted to get work doing the backup stuff and things like that. The Beatles were always impressed with black American pop stars... they loved them. She was very instrumental in taking me in there. I later on ended up playing in her band called The Gospel Truth. George was doing work with Jackie Lomax and later they'd also be doing work with Billy Preston, who all were attached to Apple at the time. That's how I started in. At the time we had put various horns together to play in R&B fashion. Some of them knew how to read but there were no parts written for things like Wilson Picket's Midnight Hour. I had to sit there and listen to the record and find every part and tell them what to play. I couldn't write it out because I couldn't read or write music at the time. So I had to literally give them the notes and tell them what to play. This gave us the ability to play anything anybody threw at us. That's what George wanted at the time. He said "I'm tired of trying to deal with arrangers when I don't know what they're doing. When I get what they've finally done, I'm not able to tell them how to change it." He didn't read music either and he was playing guitar. He said " I want someone where I play the guitar at them, and they can play what I play." I said "We could do that." So that's how we started. After doing stuff for Jackie, my go between was Mal Evans who was The Beatles roadie, and he used to call me to get a bunch of guys together. We first started off in Trident Studios. I later found out, the reason for that was, Trident was the very first and only studio at that time to have a 16 track. Abbey Road at EMI had proudly gone up to an 8 track.
R.V.B. - They must have just recently installed that because they recorded Sgt. Peppers on a four track.
P.K. - Exactly. The BBC didn't even have those kinds of things. They were still dealing with 2 tracks and 4 tracks, as all the early recordings were. If you go back to Motown, that's what they were using early on. The development of the multi-track was coming along and had dubious benefits.
R.V.B. - So your first recordings there were with Doris?
P.K. - No, the first recordings at Apple were with Jackie first and then we did the George's Stuff. We did some recording with Doris at Apple but I don't know if we completed that album there so I guess we were part of that. There was an abundant amount of tracks that we played on but I don't remember doing a lot with Doris. We did later albums for Doris, with different record companies, including a live album she did called "The Rainbow Testament." We had a brass section and a bunch of singers. Almost a whole gospel band, with various notable players on it. That was all done live, with the backup singers of the day in London. People like Madeline Bell who were later to have hits with a group called Blue Mink. Do you remember the Coke-a-Cola hit "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing". Do you remember that thing?
R.V.B. - Oh, I remember that song.
P.K. - That was a Blue Mink hit. It was converted and written into a Coke ad. It made massive money. The writer of the song ended up living in Nashville and he wrote a tons of hits. Madeline was quite a noted front singer of that band. She was also in Black Nativity originally who through to England and she just stayed in England. She was a friend Of Doris's and Kiki Dee. P.P. Arnold who had been with The Ikettes and had hits over there. She actually had an affair early on with Mick Jagger. He produced the very first version of "First Cut Is The Deepest", which was later covered by Rod Stewart. All those people were backup singers of the day. Several of them are America artists.
R.V.B. - So you were working with George on the "All Things Must Pass" stuff and other artists that he was producing also. Did you realize that you were called in for "Let It Be" or did it come as a surprise.
P.K. - No absolutely not. Mal just called us several times and wouldn't tell us what it was. He would go "Phil, I want you to get this together and we're going to EMI Abbey Road. So I went down there in the evening, as we had worked in either recording studio for George... either Abbey Road or Trident. We didn't make any decisions. Whatever it was when we went in there. This night I could sense was different because A we were in the big room which wasn't normal. As I looked down the room, there was a glass partition at the end of the room that separated what was essentially a drum room. I could see through the glass doors that Ringo was in there messing around on a kit. Then I looked at the stairs to the left side that leads up to where the control room is... I've never been in that control room, but I have in the other room... coming down from the stairs was George Martin, and along side, talking to him was Paul. George is off to the right, so I go "Wait a minute, there's George, there's Ringo, There's Paul, this is not George session is it? We looked down at the parts that were simple and I suddenly realized we were putting down brass on a track called "Let it Be".
R.V.B. - Nice
P.K. - So there we were playing The Beatles swan song. Later in the session I could hear the screaming noise of Phil Spector doing his naughty tricks... making himself very unpopular as he frequently did.
R.V.B. - How many backing musicians were there, along with you?
P.K. - On my thing there was probably about seven brass players, but I have to tell you this because he never claimed it and now that he's gone I don't mind admitting it, because he and I have had a slight adversarial position over the years. Not designed by us but it just happened that way. To our right there were two players and they weren't with the rest of the brass section and they were about 15 or 20 feet away. The trumpet player turned to me and said "Who are the hell are they? Let's card them." We as MU musicians... the same if you would be in New York. You're not supposed to play with people who are not part of the union or possibly don't even have work permits. You're supposed to call and say I'm terribly sorry but I can't work with these guys, and that means carding them. "Do you have a union card?"
R.V.B. - I've been through that.
P.k. - Sure, that's the way it is. It's to protect British musician workers and thing like that. Anyway, there they were and I said "I know who they are" and if you call them on it, you can probably stop this entire session. If you do, you got three Beatles here... you think you'll be on the next one? So we just let it slide and I stopped him from pulling these two guys out, which they would have been obliged to do. They wouldn't have had any choice, especially George Martin.
R.V.B. - Sometimes it's a fine line when to do it or not to do it.
P.K. - Exactly, It turned out the two players were Bobby Keys and Jim Price.
R.V.B. - That's amazing they weren't in the union.
P.K. - Well they wouldn't have been, they were Americans. They probably didn't even have work permits. They probably were illegal. They were only there because The Beatles wanted them on the record. They were kind of pushing it in our face a little. Sometimes they did these kind of things without thinking. what they really should of done if they really wanted the money was to have em' track later... not when we were in the room. The thing was it was EMI and they only had eight tracks. They were kind of hog tied about it. If you want them on it, they have to be in the room with you. They all have to go on one track. You're not going to be able to track them later.
R.V.B. - Do you remember on that particular night, how long it took you to do those tracks?
P.K. - Oh, not very long. Probably an hour total. They were simple brass parts. These guys, that I was with could read. The only person who couldn't read well was me. As simple as these parts were, it was simple to read. I had enough basic reading skills to read easy stuff. If you look at the parts. The circle... it's like a whole bar... like four beats. It looks like an egg. That's what we called then... eggs. I said "Were just playing eggs tonight". It was like "Bah... Bah...Bah... Bah...", semi breath (lol) "1 2, 1 2 ,1 2, 1 2". It was only changes.
R.V.B. - That sounds pretty basic.
P.K. - It's just like walking down the stairs, you know. it's not hard to play.
R.V.B. - Was there anything that was challenging?
P.K. - What was challenging was when he would turn around and play stuff to us, and we would have to make the parts up and tell everybody who wasn't a reader what it was. The reading guys who'd rather rely on reading or memory would quickly scribble out their part with a pencil on a bit of staff paper. They always carried a bit of it, just in case. They would do that and I would have it memorized what I was gonna play. We had to make it up and we had to sort of vary it. Certain parts would be all unison and split octaves and it would split into a chord on the final measure so I'd have to give guys notes to what we were gonna play as we resolve. One of the things we had to play was across the beat on the timing. The Beatles were great... especially George at writing stuff that was not normal.
R.V.B. - They had some unusual time signatures.
P.K. - And unusual bar lengths. You had to count it to know what the hell they were doing. If you're counting like a straight (1 2 3 4) as a rhythm... he would play (Da de da Da de da) across the beat like that. He would say I want you to play something like that. It's really a hammering on the guitar finger technique, where you just slide your fingers across the string. So we had to make it up. If you listen to "Wa Wa", that's exactly what that is. You know the song "Wa Wa?".
R.V.B. - I have an extensive vinyl collection. I've been collecting for years and years. I know that one... I have them all. When you worked with John... was it a different way of approaching the songs?
P.K. - Absolutely. John was all about, whatever takes me at the moment. It was all very casual. They way we worked was not in a real studio. He had an 8 track put into his house out in Tittenhurst... out in Ascot. Mal called me one night and said "I just want you, a Bari', and another tenor guy to go out there". So we had a trio and I said "Ok". He picked me up in this big white Mercedes limo. I'll never see that car again but there it was. So we get into this white limo and we're driving, and I said "What studio are we going to? Where are we going?". We ended up out in Ascot and we're driving up this driveway, and there's this beautiful white house on 80 or 90 acres of land that had belonged to the Cadbury's... of the chocolate company. There's great photos of all the Beatles out there at one time. This was John's house. We went in there and had a wonderful evening. They had this great long banquet table there, full of food. There was huge American jukeboxes against this wall. They were all playing Elvis records because John was a big Elvis fan. It was all very casual. He and Yoko would have all quirky things going on. They were into anything that was off the wall. Especially then in the Plastic Ono Band stage. Anything that was off the wall was wonderful as far as John was concerned. It appealed to his sense of humor. We would be playing away and all of a sudden you'd hear (Splash) going on in the cans and You'd be going "What the hell is that?" Later we found out that Yoko had a microphone put in the upstairs toilet.
P.K. - She was flushing the toilet and singing while she was upstairs in the loo', and it was all coming through our headphones to freak us out.
R.V.B. -That's a funny story.
P.K. - We were hysterical. He had fascinating objects. He had wonderful clocks that were the full length of the wall, that some guy at Apple invented... again a quirky thing, whereby there was a map of the world slowly unfolding across that the same rate that the world was going around. You would see a dark shadow in one area of the thing that's being constructed. As England was going in a shadow and you looked outside, you could see that it was getting dark. It was fascinating to watch and it told you the time. It took up the whole wall.
R.V.B. - So I gather he had that white piano in there.
P.K. - Yes, I saw the exact room with the piano and the telescope.
R.V.B. - Is that the room that you recorded in?
P.K. - No, that's another room in the house. It's quite a large house. I think there are thirty seven rooms in the house. It's a moderate sized Georgian Mansion.
R.V.B. - What tracks did you play on?
P.K. - "Do The Oz". It's all the Oz records. There were several records there and one of the records was "Do the Oz". The records were done to help Oz magazine in England. In those days it was all right to call for revolution and "Down with the government? The government got a bit tired of it and decided "We'll call their bluff on this" and they sued them for anarchy. I don't think anyone else ever in my lifetime had ever been sued for anarchy. All they did it for was to make them spend money on lawyers and defend themselves and basically to bankrupt them.
R.V.B. - Government dirty tricks
P.K. - Lennon said "Ok, you're gonna do that... I'll do some records to help them pay their legal fees". They were called the "Oz" records and they actually turned out pretty good. You can hear our saxes blending in. We were just playing parts basically. So, what a wonderful evening it was. A lovely house and a gorgeous sweeping meadow at night with floodlights going for about a hundred yards down to a gorgeous lake. Peter Cadbury, who had owned the house was a botanist, and he had plants and flora from all over the world flown in and planted there. He had Canadian Redwoods down by the lake.
R.V.B. - I see... Now I know you played with a lot of different groups and people: English, American and so on. When you did sessions with Steven Stills, Leon Russell, Bonny and Delaney... were you in America at that point?
P.K. - Leon Russell would have been in England. I didn't play with him in America. I'm the only one who's traversed the Atlantic, with a foot in both countries. Having recorded with The Beatles and individually of course. George Harrison, Paul McCartney and John Lennon. The only one I haven't recorded individually with was Ringo.
R.V.B. - I read about Jet. You play the sax part in the beginning?
P.K. - Absolutely. I was to pull in an enormous number of saxophones as far as I was concerned. "My God, how many do you want?" I had to get two baritone players, three tenor players, two alto players. This was one Hell of a sax section. I walk in there and there's two more there. One of which was another tenor player making us four in all. He was a friend of mine from Liverpool called Howie Casey. He was one of the first to recommend The Beatles to go to Germany as it were. Paul that respect and he always liked Howie anyway. One of the baritone players was borrowing my baritone to play. He was actually an alto player. They had phoned the union and found a guy who played bass sax. I didn't know him at all because I didn't book him.
P.K. - That's a Hell of a lot of sax. It's the only session where I've ever played with a bass sax on it.
R.V.B. - You can hear the power in the beginning of that song.
P.K. - Yeah that (Bam Bam BamBa) Well that's how many saxophones are on there. (Hahaha)
R.V.B. - Now I have to ask you only because I like the band and they're kind of interrelated. You played on a Black Sabbath song.
P.K. - Yeah
R.V.B. - Is that the song on Never Say Die?
P.K. - Boy, Now you're asking me because the only reason I remembered it was because in those days, you went into the studio and they played you a song... they didn't tell you what it was and asked you to play something. You played it, and you got a check and walked out the door and you later wonder "What the hell was that?" The only reason I know it was Black Sabbath was because I had the invoice. I would have to look it up to see what album it is. Apparently they put my name on the album. I don't remember the session but I remember the faces.
R.V.B. - You were very busy with a lot of sessions during this time.
P.K. - Yeah that was the same time period I was doing stuff with Joan Armatrading.
R.V.B. - She was very popular back then.
P.K. - Annie Lennox... I worked with her before she was the Eurythmics though. So I've worked with a lot of different people. I did an Apple album with Billy Preston in a north London studio. Leon Russell was there at that time. In fact he helped us out with the brass parts by making suggestions of what things to play.
R.V.B. - Well last night my wife and I played Jet, which came from my collection and she has three or four Al Stewart which she bought back in the day when they were popular, so of course we played "The Year of the Cat". That solo really put you on the mega map.
P.K. - That's the magic saxophone story of how I came to play alto. I was a tenor player and didn't like alto... didn't see it as a horn I wanted to play. It wasn't even above the radar and an instrument I wanted to play. I had been making a lot of money because I had been playing the Rocky Horror Show. I played about 1000 performances of that. I had done the demos before it ever was a show. I didn't even know what the demos were. I thought they were making a rock and roll album and that was at Polydor. He called me up one day and said "We'd been put on a show." It was at the Queens Theatre in Sloane Square... it was only a little 200 seater. They had been so successful that they had been moved to a bigger theatre called The Kings Road, and would I come down? They were making more money and could afford to pay me... and play the sax on the show? I said "Well ok, but I was very reluctant to take an every night thing. What if I get gigs or a tour? He said "You can put a temp in, but I just want you to be a part of this." I said "Ok" and down I went. It was the Rocky Horror Picture Show, so I was making a ton of money, because I was doing the show every week. On top of that, I had tours and sessions as well.
R.V.B. - Things were good.
P.K. - Yeah, I was getting a lot of money. I had enough money to put down on a house in England, which for a musician was no mean achievement. So went we down to south London looking for houses on the behest of the 2nd tenor player friend of mine, Geoff Driscoll... who I always used. He said to come down to Surrey and play down here, so down we went. This is how your life gets changed, amazingly, in a matter of hours. It's a Sunday... It's my only day off. We looked all day and it's now 5:30 at night, and I don't every know that I'm in a time capsule of three hours or so that's gonna change my life forever. We hadn't seen any houses and just as we walk out the door... my wife turns back to the door and a man is putting a little picture of a clip on the door and she says let's go see this one. I said "It's 5:30, I don't want to go out. I'm tired... I worked all week... I want to go home and watch a movie tonight. She goes "Oh come on", and I said "Ok", so off we go to see the house. I said "Now that we found one, lets rush over to Geoff's and tell him we're gonna be neighbors", because we found the place. So we went over there and coincidentally, he's looking at me with the same excitement, and I said "What's the matter with you?" He said "You're not gonna believe this?"... he had the date wrong but "In 1937, this woman was married to a sax player that she loved so much. He died suddenly and unexpectedly, and I don't know the whole story, and she was so in love that she kept his saxophone under the bed all of these years and wouldn't part with it... wouldn't let anyone touch it. Finally it's now 1976 and she decided this decided this was silly, and somebody should receive the benefit and make good use of it. She put it for sale and I bought it." It was an alto... and I said "Wow... I wouldn't mind having a look at it." I opened the case and, "Boom" there's this shining silver alto. I couldn't understand how it was shining after it's been under the bed for all these years. It wasn't even brown or anything. It's in perfect mint condition. It looks like it's hardly ever been played. It's never been opened or touched since 1937, we think. I said " I wouldn't mind playing it" at the time, and he said "Well I'm not playing it for a couple of days, why don't you borrow it?" I thought "My God, you just bought this and here you are lending it to me? You haven't even played it yet." So I go "Thanks very much Geoff." I put it in the case and off we go to north London. This doorway is now an hour wide or so. I get to north London at 5 to 8 because it's quite a drive from Surrey. I'm settling down to watch the eight o'clock movie and the phone goes. It's Alan Parsons... I worked with him on his project albums, doing "One More River" and things like that. He says "Phil, I've got a session for you." I said "Ok" and he goes "Now!". I went "Shit" (Hahaha) "Where are you?' He says "EMI, Abbey Road". It was right around the corner. I could've been there in 5 minutes by car. So I said "Ok. I'll be there just after 9, is that ok?"... because I wanted to watch the movie. He went " Hang on a minute." I was thinking "Great, I just blew the session."
P.K. - It doesn't even matter. I can't remember... it wasn't that important. I just wanted to watch a movie and not go down and do a session. I had my mind made up that, that's what I wanted to do. This is how you fight against fate. Fate takes a hand and goes "I don't care what you're doing. This is what you're doing." He came back on and said 9 o'clock is ok. So I got to watch the movie and I'll go down and do this session. So at 9 O'clock I bumped down there and I walk through the door. There was a beautiful track playing with no vocals. There was a person in the corner with a newspaper in the corner and I couldn't see him properly and Alan pouring over the desk. He says "Here we go" and he plays this track with beautiful violins, and this guitar solo comes up and he goes "Where this guitar stops here... I want you to come in right there. I'll probably have play out on the end as well." I said "Ok" and he said "I think it will sound great on alto." I went "Alan, I don't play alto." He says "You don't?" I said "No, I'm a tenor player for Christ sake." He goes "Oh" and I said "Hang on a minute... I think I got one in the car."
R.V.B. - Lucky you. Just happen to have one in the car.
P.K. - Yeah, I've got minutes to learn how to play an alto
R.V.B. - I gather the pads were still good.
P.K. - The pads are all perfect. The neck is perfect. This is a 1937 reed. I put the thing on it and I started to play on it and I think "Yeah I can do this." Everything fell into place and the music just poured through me like it was meant. I don't think I took more than two passes all together. I played and got through the end. I walked in and Alan gave me the greatest praise and he goes "Yeah, I think that will do." The newspaper went down in the corner and briefly a head appeared and it said "Yes, very good", and back it went up again. I got a check from him and I was out the door. I never played it again until three or four months later. I gave that saxophone back... until I got a standing ovation last year at the Albert Hall, when I went over there. That was the first time I ever played The Year of the Cat live in England with that saxophone. Geoff was there and I went back to his place. There was the saxophone sitting on a ledge looking all brown. I thought "Gosh, I hadn't seen that since 1976." That saxophone was only in my hands for a matter of hours just to play that song. When they came back later in the year to do The Old Grey Whistle Test... a promotional thing. I had to panic because I didn't even have an alto. So I went running around and bought an alto, because I can't go on without one now. I had played on a hit record. I ran around and found a guy in England who was selling a 1937 brass alto, not a silver one. That's the one I have today that I played on all subsequent hits. So I go down to the Old Grey Whistle Test TV studios, and they said we're going on live in a few minutes. I said "Ok great, has anybody brought the record with them?" It's been three months since I played that solo. They went "Oh...No". So I had to go on live winging it on British television. Funny enough... until recently, that was the only video version of me playing Year of the Cat, struggling to remember what the hell I played three months ago.
R.V.B. - How did you make out?
P.K. - Well I got through it. It wasn't exactly The Year of the Cat solo, but it was close enough. Geoff said to me "Your sax that you say is a 1937. It must be older than that." I said "Why?" and he said "Because the serial numbers don't match." I said "What's your serial numbers?" He told me "I spoke to a guy from Selma who told me it was a 1937." So I looked it up on line and I found the serial numbers for Selma. I said "Geoff, you're wrong. Mine is a 1937. Yours... the silver one... the magic saxophone, is a 1939." As I said that, I suddenly realized "You know why he died?" 1939 was the beginning when war broke out with Germany. He went off to war and never came back. That's why he had his saxophone under the bed for all those years. He was killed in war and as a wife, it wasn't something she expected. The love of her life was killed in war and never came back. That saxophone was sitting under her bed with her pouring love and remembrance over it two years before I was born. Waiting for me to have it.
R.V.B. - That is fate.
P.K. - For a couple of hours. There's a movie there somewhere.
R.V.B. - Is that on your documentary?
P.K. - It's part of the documentary. The magic saxophone story... even though I didn't want to go see the house, and I didn't want to go to the session. I ended up in America anyway?
R.V.B. - How did you wind up here? Did you do the Rod Stewart sessions here or in England
P.K. - I did them is Los Angeles. The way that happened was, Luka Riley had called me in January after I had done that Old Grey Whistle Test in December and said "I want you to come to America... we're going on tour, and we can pay you so much. We need you to be a big hit. We need to have the real sax player on it." It was early 1977 and we started off the tour in Denver Colorado, which was a wonderful place to play a wind instrument, because there was no oxygen.
R.V.B. - (Hahaha)
P.K. - (Hahaha) They had oxygen on the side of the stage in case you pass out.
R.V.B. - Well, if you can play there, you can play anywhere.
P.K. - Exactly, so that was my first time that I ever played in America. It was a mile high city, with no air. (Haha)
R.V.B. - Now on this tour, were you playing theaters and were you headlining your own shows or were you packaged with someone else?
P.K. - At that time we were headlining our own shows. There was support with a singer from Los Angeles who was a singer/songwriter called Wendy Waldman. She basically remained as a songwriter rather than an artist. She's still writing to this day. She is well known in the industry and has a lot of friends in Los Angeles. I met many friends on that tour, and that was the beginning of the whole thing of me being in America. When we got to Los Angeles we got placed in the Riot House on Sunset. One day my wife came out and we said "Oh, there's a pool on the roof." So I said "Let's put on our costumes and go up there." So off we went, and we're lying down on a towel, and I looked over and I saw this red haired figure lying the other way, and he turned his head over and I realized... I had played with a band in England called Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel... there was the guitar player Jim Cregan. He had been called over by Rod to be the last guitar player to join his band he was forming. Jim had very wisely, moved there. They had been staying by the guest house by the pool in Rod's house in Beverly Hills. Things had got nasty because Rod was breaking up with Britt Ekland, and there were fights every night. Jim thought very wisely "I don't want to be in the middle of this, because it's not good karma... so I'll move out." He moved himself into the Hyatt House. That's how we met, and he said "Rod's been looking for a sax player.: So he took me down to Cherokee Studios with him and that's how I wound up on "Foot Loose and Fancy Free."
P.K. - Exactly right, I was meant to be on it. Rod wanted a sax player but there were factions within his setup who were trying to make the whole thing like The Faces... trying to steer it away of having a saxophone. Rod was always an R&B fanatic. When I first saw him he was singing things like midnight hour. He wasn't really into what The Faces were doing. They basically pulled him in as the lead singer. Then they got really annoyed at him because he was pursuing a solo career, while still with them. They didn't like that, because they had been the big stars, not him. They pulled him as a lead singer thinking they were doing him a favor. Rod very skillfully decided "No, I'm just using you as a stepping stone." Which is basically what he was doing. He ended up doing the famous album "Atlantic Crossing" which had "Tonight's the night" on it. That triggered the breakup, so from then his next album was a solo album "Footloose and Fancy Free" which I was all over that one. He put me on several tracks on that including "If Loving You is Wrong" and things like that, which I always thought was a wonderful version of that. I played on another song called "My Girl". Not the Motown My Girl, a different song and I played a solo on that one. I think "Hot Legs" is on that record also. I played baritone sax on that one. So he took me to lunch out on Sunset Boulevard at a Chinese place there. He was going out with a Canadian model. I think she was called Liz Tredwell, at the time. We sat down and had lunch there and he said in the middle of it... he kind of dangled a carrot in front of me and said "How do you feel about going out on the road with me?" I said "I love it", but it never happened. Obviously I was clearly meant to do the Time Passages album. We worked on it for a considerable amount of time. Al was a fairly slow worker. We eventually came out with Time Passages, and I was all over that album as well. Approximately the same time period, Timmy Schmidt had left Poco, and the band that was playing with Al on the Year of the Cat tour. The drummer and a previous bass player called Charlie Harrison and Steve Chapman had joined Poco. Timmy Schmidt had left to join The Eagles. Poco had the dubious distinction of being the only band in America to have two bass players stolen by The Eagles. They were in dire straits because Richie Furay had gone, George Grantham had gone. Of the original members, there was only Rusty Young there. He was left holding the name.
R.V.B. - Poco played some good music.
P.K. - Great music. If it hadn't been for The Eagles, they would of been more famous, I think.
R.V.B. - They made their mark. They sold a decent amount of records.
P.K. - At that point in time they had sold maximum I think 200,000. Which wasn't to be sneezed at, but at that time the record companies were not interested unless you sold more than 1,000,000. There were people like Frampton selling 10-14 million records, so they were into the big money. Anyway I went in and played Heart of the Night for them. They ended up with the first million seller they ever had. It was a big success. So I went in and did Time Passages, and we were actually on tour doing Time Passages... promoting it. We did The Roxy on Sunset, and low and behold it was kind of a weird night with all sorts of celebrities appearing. Rod Stewart was with an entourage in the audience. I said "What the hell is he doing at an Al Stewart concert?" Somebody turned to me who looked to me like he was in the know and said "Don't you know?" I said "No, why?" and he said "He's here to steal you." I went "Really?" So after the show I got this little note that said "See me upstairs at the bar." When I went over there he said "Can you come back to the house?" So I got my wife and a friend and we drove up to the house and Rod said "Come out in the garden." We walked around the garden and he asked me to join the band. We had just finished doing "Blondes Have More Fun". It turned out at that time to be the biggest record He had ever had. That was enormous.
R.V.B. - Is there any performances in your day that really stand out where you really thoroughly enjoyed yourself?
P.K. - Oh gosh, the biggest has to be the first two gigs with The Eagles. That was the most magnificent tour. The Eagles were making so much money. They had been voted the most popular band in America. They had their whole touring thing down, whereby their backline and everything had to be provided by the promoter. All they showed up with was their guitar guys and their guitar pick. Their uniform on stage was, wear a white shirt and a pair of blue jeans... that was it. There were two stadiums of equal size. One of them was the Giants stadium. They were just told flat out by Azoff... he said "Look, you're making so much money here. If you don't spend some of this money, it's going straight to the government. You're gonna pay it all in tax." They said "Right, we better spend it then, haven't we?" So they just started spending money lavishly on that tour. I spoke to Felder later and said "You guys spoiled me", and he said "We spoiled ourselves. It's never been like that since." They broke up at the end of that tour. They spent money like water on that tour. Every hotel I was in... and I was just the sax player... an add on as it were, but I was in a suite with a great big table full of flowers. Any kind of booze I wanted, and whatever else I wanted... matches with my name on it. You name it, it was there.
P.K. - More than that because, Rod was the life of a rock star at his level. I asked "How are we getting to the gigs?" This was in New York. I think back now when I saw the Twin Towers go down and I remember us being at Windows of the World. You couldn't get in that place... it was booked for a year. God knows how much money it took, they just had a party their one night.
R.V.B. - Money wasn't an option.
P.K. - No, "How much does it cost to throw everybody out?" They just bought the restaurant for a night. So I said "How are we getting to the gig?" and they said "You'll see... just be down in the lobby at such and such time." So I go down to the lobby, and I see these great big limos. "Are we driving there in the limos?" We drove down to the Hudson river and they had six helicopters. We jumped in these helicopters and started roaring off like Apocalypse Now. I was in the helicopter with Joe Walsh, and he was just yelling all kind of things out of the window. We buzzed things... we went under the Brooklyn Bridge. We buzzed the Empire State Building. I thought "Who's been paid off to let us do this?" Coming back, we went down Broadway at 200 feet in six helicopters.
R.V.B. - Holy crap.
P.K. - Coming out to Giants Stadium we landed with search lights right in the middle of the fucking stadium. So it was wild.
R.V.B. - That's some crazy rock and roll stories.
P.K. - Everything on the tour happened like that. We stayed at The Playboy Club up in Illinois. We stayed on the Queen Mary in Long Beach. It was the most luxurious tour I've ever been on. Rod's was not to be sneezed at either. We did some wild things on Rod's tour, but nothing like The Eagles was. We had a private 707 jet, that was black with a red underbelly. It was all gutted inside with nothing but armchairs and your personal TV's.
R.V.B. - How long was that tour?
P.K. - It wasn't that long. I didn't come in at the beginning of it. The reason I got the gig was because Davis Sanborn had been one of the guys who played on the record with them, and he became ill. There was a lot of drug usage in those days and David was rather susceptible at the time to getting addictive habits. He became obsessed with cocaine at the time.
R.V.B. - That was they heyday time period.
P.K. - The cocaine on that tour was amazing. They had to have a rule, that you don't do it before you go on stage. There was just phenomenal amounts of cocaine there. Not only did everyone have a suite in the hotel, but they also had a spare suite for partying so nobody was kept up. On the ladies side of things they had three E buttons. I said "What are those?" The third encore. "What do you mean, where is a third encore?" They said "Back at the hotel." So the guys were all running around handing these buttons out to girls who wanted to be with The Eagles. So you walked into the spare suite and there were hundreds of girls in there.
R.V.B. - Did that kind of stuff go on with Rod also?
P.K. - Not to the same degree. Not that there weren't people around but it just wasn't as luxurious. The Eagles were making phenomenal money. With Rod... they were upset when I was going out. The first two gigs I did with the Eagles... I think Rod had made two million on the whole tour and that was the whole world. The Eagles made nearly a million bucks on the first two gigs.
R.V.B. - I heard a story that some rich guy in the Hampton's out here by me paid them a million bucks to play one private party.
P.K. - The first two gigs. There guarantee was 400,000 against 60% of the gate. They broke the gates on each one. The gate was worked out to 60,000 as the break even figure. They had 72 or 73,000 in each stadium. As we finished, and the promoter handed the check... Felder turns to me and shows me this check for $986,000.
R.V.B. - That's a pretty nice payday.
P.K. - I had only been on the tour for two days. Nice. He goes "Thinking of asking for a raise?" I go "You're damn right." (Hahaha)
R.V.B. - You know it just goes to shoe though that something had to break. That lifestyle can't go on forever without problems happening.
P.K. - Well of course. You can't take the kind of pressure... and the personalities. They were all very talented people and talented writers. There was always that element of, well whose really the best. Even with Randy Meisner that happened. I said "Why did he leave?" to Don Felder and he said "Well, he wrote Take It To The Limit, and he decided he was a songwriting genius." I said "Is he?" and he said "He's gone off to prove it." A similar thing happened... Henley went off and had his personal stardom bid and so did Glenn Frey. Joe kind of floated in and out. Joe was always going through problems, especially in the early 80's with again, an addictive personality. Booze was his big problem. He almost drank himself to death at one point. I remember talking to Felder and he had said to Irv Azoff... this is later in the 80's, "I'm really worried about Joe. What can we do?" Azoff apparently turned around and said "You're worried? He's living at my house. (haha) I'm taking care of him on a daily basis."
R.V.B. - So you wound up in Nashville right? Is that where you hang your hat now?
P.K. - Yeah, I'm slowly dismantling myself here and moving to Florida to Boca Raton. I've retired pretty much... it goes back to my childhood, when my father disappeared on me when I was three years old. I never saw him again for 50 years. I grew up without a father, so it was very personal to me when we took eight years to finally have a daughter... and I have a very beautiful one. I was very much determined that I was not going to be absent. It's very easy, if you're working as a musician, to be absent. They asked Julian Lennon "How was he as a father and he said "I don't know, he was never there.
R.V.B. - That is an issue with music at that level.
P.K. - Exactly, you're out on tour... you're in the studio... you're somewhere, but you're never home. That's how it appears to kids anyway. So I was determined, and I basically said "I'm not going to go eight years trying to have a kid and then missing her growing up." She was the only one we were lucky enough to have.
R.V.B. - How did you wind up in Nashville?
P.K. - Basically because LA became impossible. There were murders left and right... drive by shootings. At one point the entire Hollywood Hills was alight. Remember the Rodney King riots? God knows what was going on. There was earthquakes... mudslides, and Los Angeles was awful. It's a weird thing in Los Angeles. It looks so Ideal... the lovely sunshine, the smell of the ocean. You don't realize, there's a lot of violence going on. I remember the police chief very stupidly turned around and said... we were going into the gulf war and it was the build up and they were getting training and they were getting aircraft carriers in place and all that kind of thing. They had an accident with an aircraft carrier. I think one of the lifts had collapsed and killed some people below and they said "In the three months build up to the gulf war, thirty two serviceman have lost their lives." Darryl Gates said "That's nothing, we had thirty two people killed over the weekend." and he's the police chief of the Los Angeles police department.
R.V.B. - I could believe it though. (Hahaha)
P.K. - (Hahaha) "My God, you're dumb enough to say that and you're the police chief?" We're just used to the fact that people are dying left and right. Before I had left there were five people murdered less than a mile from my house. I'm not bringing my daughter up in the middle of this. There had an awful situation where somebody had been in a dreadful school where the gangs were, and she moved in order to save her son from being in the middle of that, and wherever it was that they moved to... they were doing the busing thing and they bussed some rough members into that school and he ended up being stabbed to death by one of them. Even though she moved, it didn't make any difference. People were saying "Come to Nashville" and I'm glad I did in one sense, because although it was terrible to be a sax player here. There's no real work for a sax player here... especially one of my caliber, but it was wonderful for my child. She grew up in a really pleasant, crime free environment with lots of friends and a great school. She grew up riding horses and all that kind of thing.
R.V.B. - I went there about two years ago and I'm glad I did and I noticed that the city was booming. There's lots of construction and it seems to be doing real well.
P.K. - The house prices really didn't suffer that much of a setback during the collapse of the housing industry, a few years back. I think at the worst there may have been an 10 or 15% pullback. Since then it's just galloped forward. Property has done very well here. It's a booming town. It's a nice town where I am. It's not so safe downtown. Chattanooga, Memphis and downtown Nashville are not particularly safe cities. I'm in Brentwood, and the crime rate is minimal. It's very, very low.
R.V.B. - That sounds like a very nice thing that you did for your daughter.
P.K. - It worked perfectly. Once she had grown up, guess where she moved?
R.V.B. - California?
P.K. - No, New York (Hahaha)
R.V.B. - New York has improved a lot.
P.K. - It's a lot better than it was, and she's in Brooklyn.
R.V.B. - There are some sections in Brooklyn that aren't so friendly and there are also some sections in Brooklyn that are very nice. So you're going down to Boca? That's a nice town also.
P.K. - I'm looking forward to that because of the weather, and I miss the beach.
R.V.B. - Right, just stay out of the way of a hurricane and you'll be fine. So you have a little show that you do called "A Night With The Cat?"
P.K. - That's my album that I have done. That is a CD and it has been produced for quite some time now, but it basically is a concept idea of doing the story of "The Year Of The Cat" itself, but doing it in instrumental terms. It's basically boy meets girl in a foreign romantic place. They become attracted and go away for a night of passion, and then there's reflection afterwards to whether this will last or it won't. So it's a night of romance as it were. That's why it's called "A Night With The Cat". There are track titles that suggest the lyrics. For instance there's one called "Silk Dress", one called "Watercolor". So if you know the lyrics... "she came out of the sun in a silk dress like a watercolor in the rain." There's another one called "Incense and patchouli".
R.V.B. - I know my wife would know every single word to that song. She listened to that album over, and over, and over. We have a whole Al Stewart section of records and we've had them since 1976.
P.K. - The other thing I'm very concerned about of course, is the total transition in music away from what we knew as rock and roll. They say rock and roll will never die, but it's being destroyed... and it's being destroyed from the inside. I have a friend in Atlanta called John Laughter who is also a sax player. One of his big things he does is to chronicle all of the saxophone players who are on records playing solos, and even the section players on every rock and roll record since it began in 54 or so. So I made a comment to him on line saying that I couldn't remember any iconic sax solos in the last ten years or so. He said "Sad, but true Phil." I thought "I wonder if I'm really right there, or if I just missed something?" So I got his list and I looked through it, and I was absolutely astounded about what I saw. The statistics from 1954 to 1965 from the beginning of rock and roll and the statistics from 2001 to 2012, and I said "What's the numbers?" I just counted singles as driving the market. The American top thirty Billboard in the first eleven years, there were 397 sax solos listed. That's solos and not section work. From 2000 through 2012 and the number was 8.
R.V.B. - Unbelievable
P.K. - Unbelievable.
R.V.B. - You're hard pressed to find a guitar in a pop song these days.
P.K. - What was even worse was, two of those solos were of Clarence Clemens who was in a wheel chair and soon to die. They were only there because Lady Gaga put them on the two singles of hers. On top of that, in nine of those years in that time frame, of the top 30 singles of America, the number was 0.
R.V.B. - Wow. That's a problem
P.K. - It's the death of the saxophone in America.
R.V.B. - I hope and pray that things will change and I do think it will. I think it's just a temporary thing, and something has got to give, because I don't want to listen to they same sounding 20 songs all day.
P.K. - That's what I'm saying. If you want to hear a great iconic sax solo, you gotta go back to the 70's. They're aren't many since then. In the last three years, what jerked me away... because when Clarence died... Clarence and I had played together at the No Nukes thing at Madison Square Garden in 1980 or thereabouts. We talked about it then and about what our influences were. I'm about one or two months older than Clarence was. He was born in January of 1942 early on. I was born late in October of 1941. We're only a month or two apart so we have the same influences growing up and he thought it was amazing that some British guy was listening to King Curtis. When he died, I determined that I would come out of retirement because I ought to add back into popular music. Next thing I know Raphael Ravenscroft drops dead and he was the Baker Street guy. Next thing I know Bobby Keys gets hauled off the Rolling Stones tour when he got sick and drops dead. In three years we lost three of the most iconic sax solo players that have been around. I started looking around "Who the hell is left?"
R.V.B. - It's you, You're carrying the torch.
P.k. - Exactly, that's what I'm saying. There are a few people still around but are not really associated with iconic solos. People like Alto Reed from Bob Seger. Jim Horn possibly. Jim has played a few solo's on things. I always struggled to find one that's iconic that he did. Other than that, all the other sax players in America are just being funneled into the soft jazz genre. It's not rock and roll... never was, never will be. Jazz players are not rock and roll players and vice versa.
R.V.B. - I like the sax playing in the song Sea Cruise... the way it carries the song along.
P.K. - It's funny that you should say Sea Cruise. Guess what I played with The Eagles when they came as the first encore? There's a picture of me playing Sea Cruise and Glenn Frey, when he went out there being from Detroit, he wanted to appear like the sax guy, even though he doesn't play sax. there's a picture of him holding my also and me playing tenor playing Sea Cruise together.
R.V.B. - Who sang that one?
P.K. - Glenn did... it was his idea. He wanted to do it. He thought it would be really killer to do as an encore.
R.V.B. - Thank you very much for taking this time with me. I realize we went a little overtime, but I appreciate it and I enjoyed it tremendously. What other shows are you doing? Are you coming to the New York area anytime soon?
P.K. - Well that's the big thing. I started a company and it's called SOSS. It's SOS/Help Save Our Sax Solo. I'm going to be trying to include some major acts. Especially ones who have benefited from having sax solos in their careers, and on their single records. I'm trying to get them to help out. I've got an act already together playing my own iconic solos and also tributes of the great solos that have been. We'll be including things like possibly Brown Sugar... but also Born to Run solo by Clarence, and Baker Street by Raphael Ravenscroft. You won't be able to hear these solo's anywhere else but where we do them. We're doing all the songs in the same keys as the records. Including some of the Poco hits, and the Rod Stewart hits as well. This will all be included in the show. We're going out trying to invoke or cause interest in the sax solo. I'm getting a lot of good response, especially from the baby boomers set. They miss all that. To tell you the truth, they come out of the seats when they hear a good solo.
R.V.B. - Now that I'm thinking, that Foreigner song, sax solo in Urgent wasn't bad.
P.K. - Oh yeah, we're trying to include everything that we can possibly do. You can't get it all in because I'm also telling some of the stories... rock and roll anecdotes and what have you. It's already nearly a two hour show.
R.V.B. - It sounds like fun, so when you do come to New York, I'll definitely check it out.
P.K. - We're already in negotiations to do some venues in New York. When we do... it'll be on our website and I'll give you the heads up.
R.V.B. - Ok, fantastic. Hopefully we'll get a chance to meet each other.
P.K. - That would be wonderful.
R.V.B. - Thank you very much for taking this time with me.
P.K. - You're so welcome. I loved it.
Interview conducted by Robert von Bernewitz
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