Mick Lee Gallery #2

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Just as there is a ‘dark web’, so there is an underground pool of amazing musicians whose music many people have enjoyed, tho’ few know their names. I’m fortunate that, in my travels, I’ve hooked up with a bunch of them.

Comin’ Down on Me: It never ceases to amaze me that some of the most insanely talented (and sometimes just plain insane) musicians/singers/songwriters that I’ve worked with have only enjoyed a fraction of the success, appreciation and respect their music deserves. The first song, ‘Comin’ Down On Me’ was recorded live in one of Warner Chappell’s London studios with James Litherland. Two guitars, two voices, no overdubs. We called ourselves ‘Doo Wop & Rhythms’ and enjoyed a modicum of success on the British club circuit in the 70’s. Forty years later, I digitized the song, and was fortunate to be able to get Chris Frazier of Whitesnake and Foreigner to add drums, and Jeff Pevar to add bass. Jeff’s played with everyone from Ray Charles and CSN&Y to Rickie Lee Jones.

James is best known for his work with Colosseum (the first British jazz-rock band to achieve a measure of success), and Mogul Thrash, which featured Roger Ball and Malcolm Duncan of the Average White Band on horns, as well as John Wetton of King Crimson and Asia on bass. To my mind, James is one of the great acoustic guitar players, tho’ he’s primarily known for his electric guitar.
What It Is: A live version of a song from my last CD, recorded with ‘True Blue’ five years ago. The video is from a gig where we opened for Roy Rodgers, an amazing slide player/singer/writer. The CD is only available on Amazon and CD Baby. It features Andy Armer on keys, who was a house producer/writer/arranger at A&M. He wrote, co-produced and played on Herb Alpert’s only number one single, “Rise” (which incidentally knocked Michael Jackson out of the top spot of the Billboard Hot 100). Andy has worked with the Crusaders, Roberta Flack and a host of other amazing artists. When I met him he was running a small, struggling (but excellent) studio in Bend, Oregon. Ken Emerson on steel guitar has worked with Todd Rundgren, Donald Fagen and Daryl Hall, among others. Jeff Ingraham on drums was in Merle Haggard’s band, and also played with Kris Kristofferson. Richard Taelour on guitar and vocals was signed to Arista by Clive Davis, but never had the hit records his talent so richly deserved.

What the Future Holds:  recorded earlier this year here in Asheville, tho’ the cello was added by my friend Erich Kory in Montreal. He taught Sting to play cello (which is actually how Erich and I met). Great Degenerates was a short lived, but very enjoyable acoustic project with Joel Schantz, who played guitar on a track with The Band, and Rod Kight, a superb musician who has never played with anyone of note, strictly a local Asheville guy, but with world class talent. We may yet record another song or two, if the Muse graces me with more gifts out of Onlyville.

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Mick Lee, born in NYC, moved to London (very reluctantly) as a teenager. He started learning to play guitar in his mom’s clothes cupboard, and learned the rudiments of the piano from his dad. Mick began singing and playing in bands at school, and the gods must have approved, because some of the world’s finest musicians appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, took him under their wing, and encouraged him to keep writing and performing his songs.

London was a hotbed of music, where Mick got to play, record and/or tour with with the world’s best — some obscure, some famous, some infamous; like Chris Wood of Traffic, Paul Kossoff of Free, Ric Grech of Blind Faith, Mick Taylor, Taj Mahal,  Lemmy, and The Moody Blues, to name just a few of the musicians he’s indebted to. Mick is now semi-retired, living in Asheville — North Carolina, an art, beer and music town if ever there was one!

A memoir of his life as a musician in London and the musicians and artists with whom he played is due to be published by Canopic Publishing in 2018.

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