Brad Whitford of Aerosmith Interview

1 Jan

Brad Whitford, Buddy Guy & Billy Cox #1

 

Back in 2012 when Aerosmith was in the music news because of Steven Tyler being a judge on American Idol, I was still working with Blues Revue and Blueswax. They stopped publishing in 2013, but one of my last assignments was interviewing Brad Whitford one of the guitar players for Aerosmith. My article interview never got published, so I thought that I would post it on my blog, along with some photos that I took of Whitford, in fall 2008 when he was playing with the Experience Hendrix show in Portland, Oregon. That show featured 2 of the original members of Jimi Hendrix’s 1960’s bands. Billy Cox, who is in some of the photos wearing a blue Jimi Hendrix shirt was a bass player and Mitch Mitchell was a drummer. Unfortunately, Mitchell got sick in the middle of the concert and went back to his hotel room where he died a couple of days later. Other people that are in the photos are Blues legend, Buddy Guy wearing an American flag shirt, Eric Gales wearing a red sports jersey, Jonny Lang in a black T-shirt and Brad Whitford in a black leather jacket and hat. This is the way that the article would have appeared in Blues Revue.

 

Brad Whitford and Experience Hendrix

Q&A with Brad Whitford of Aerosmith

 
By: Bob Gersztyn

 

Brad Whitford and Jonny Lang
Aerosmith first formed in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1971 and was comprised of bassist – Tom Hamilton, drummer – Joey Kramer, guitarist – Joe Perry, singer – Steven Tyler and guitarist – Brad Whitford. The brand of music that they played combined blues, R&b and hard rock into a potent stew that drew comparisons to the Rolling Stones in their earlier years. By the end of the 1970’s they were labeled β€œAmerica’s greatest rock & roll band,” and over the decades they’ve inspired countless other bands, and kept their love of blues alive through incorporating it into their act and recordings, well into the 21st century. When it comes to β€œA” list bands that stay together for over 40 years with all the original members still alive and performing, the list can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Brad Whitford one of the band’s 2 guitarists took time out of his busy schedule to talk with Blues Revue about Aerosmith, himself and the blues.

 

Brad Whitford #3
Your Honkin’ For Bobo album was about as blues as you can get. How did that come about and why did you do it? That was something that we’d wanted to do for a long time, just to do an album just a bunch of our favorites and anything else we could dig up. But it was just something that we wanted to do. We knew that we could have a lot of fun with it. It wasn’t going to be a pressure packed…coming up with lyrics and all the other good stuff that comes along with a studio record. Basically most of it, we did in Joe’s studio, basically did it live, and had a great time doing it. There’s an album many years ago, put together by the son of Lonnie Brooks, (Wayne Baker Brooks) he did this terrific album where he took all these Aerosmith songs and did them all in blues versions, and we just love that thing and play it constantly, and that was a bit of an inspiration too, for us to do that. That was our chance and we jumped on it.

 
Who are your favorite top 3 blues guitar players? Some of these guys do other things, but I love Jack Pierce (Jimmie Rogers band), and I will still always have to put Clapton up as one of my favorite blues guitarist’s.

 
Do you like any of the newer guitar players, like Joe Bonamassa, for example? I absolutely love Joe. Since we’re talking about living blues players, I would definitely put Joe Bonamassa on there, he’s so well rounded as a musician, and puts together a blues solo, as good as anybody has. Then of course there are people who are no longer with us. Stevie Ray is just way up on my list. He was just such an incredible guy and incredible player. Probably an all time favorite.

 

Brad Whitford #5
I assume that Hendrix would be in there too, then? I would also include Jimi, you know just an incredible sense of the blues. Probably one guy that I still listen too, so consistently, and still listen in great awe, at his abilities on the guitar, mind blowing. Gosh I guess with blues players we could go on and on.

 
Some of the guys from Aerosmith worked on an album by James Montgomery that never got released, were you involved in that? Yes. I don’t know what happened to that album, but a darn good record. Yeah, I did a track with Johnny Winter on that, and gee, I don’t know. I hope that record gets the light of day sometime, but we know how the business these days is. It’s just rough and tumble.

 
Yeah, maybe it can be released as an independent release, or something? Yeah, most likely. I hope they get that thing together, that would be awesome.

 
What was your recollection of hearing a blues song, that you knew this is something different?
So much of my really hardcore blues…I don’t know, I had a guitar teacher when I was just starting out who was a huge Mike Bloomfield guy, so I heard a lot of that. A lot of Electric Flag and that sort of stuff. My friend played, he had a 58 or 59 Sunburst. He played it through a bass amp and he had all the right equipment and the right sounds, so for a guy like me, you hear them sounds, it just goes right through your body

 
How did the blues influence the formation and subsequent evolution of Aerosmith? Everybody in that band sort of came to the table with different backgrounds and stuff. Steven being an enormous Beatles fan, and myself an enormous Clapton and Hendrix…Joe Perry was essentially the same way, very much into Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Richie Blackmore. Joey Kramer, our drummer had just come out of…it was basically like a soul review band that he played in. In fact he was the only white guy in the band. That’s kind of when we delved into James Brown, and stuff like that. A lot of that really came from Joey. So much of that was because we were children of the British Invasion. I got turned on to a lot of the American blues, after it had gone across the ocean and come back. So it was a great discovery when I said, oh wait a minute, that is this and this is that? I had no idea, so it was a real education.

 

Aerosmith’s first big hit, Train Kept A Rollin, was an old Tiny Bradshaw tune. Why did you do it? We did it because we were Yardbirds fanatics and loved the version that the Yardbirds were doing, so we just kind of did our own take on it, and needless to say it became the staple. But it’s such a great rock song, great rock/blues song

Brad Whitford #6
What was the blues scene like in Boston, when you first got seriously interested in music? There was a blues scene and there were several small bands around Boston that were sort of carrying the flag, so to say, in those days. Oh gosh, that was such a long time ago that I can’t remember some of these guys. Back then we had all these great venues, in those days. You know, smaller venues where you have jazz being played on a regular basis, and blues as well. Unfortunately a lot of great little venues that we all loved to play, are pretty much all gone these days. Like in a lot of small towns. Gosh, even Chicago is shrinking and dwindling on their blues clubs. It doesn’t make any sense. There was just small time blues and J. Geils, who were one of the first bands that made notoriety, really a sort of R&B blues band. J. Geils an absolute blues player, with Magic Dick on harmonica, they were really steeped in blues, before they started to get a little poppy and go for a little bit more radio friendly music. Yeah there was a great little blues music scene going on in Boston, it was very cool.

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