Ian Stewart: The lesser known member of the Rolling Stones

Ian Stewart was a crucial part of the Rolling Stones and he was there since the beginning and he was the pianist. Think about how so many Stones songs would sound with out piano? Just empty. The piano was a big part of the Stones sound. Ian Stewart was an original member of the band along with Mick, Keith and  Brian. Even before Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts came in. However, he was pushed out of the official band because of publicity. He didn’t have the right face, Andrew Loog Oldham said Six in a band was too many and piano was not a cool enough instrument. Ian was also Scottish. In those days of the early 60’s, the goal was to make the band very marketable and also to sell merchandise. It is no different today.Ian remained in the band as pianist and road manager, he set up guitars and brought equipment in and out as well as being the full time pianist.

“It was obvious that Ian Stewart didn’t fit the picture. I’m not dissing him as though he wasn’t part of the whole thing, but there were a lot of numbers which he didn’t play on. It was plain that Ian didn’t want to be a pop singer.”

Mick Jagger, 1965

I don’t personally believe this quote, I think Mick used it and Ian also assumed this attitude for the sake of the band. He said that he liked the peace and quiet of the anonymity. I still think he would have liked a bit more recognition. On the other hand it is believed that The Stones would not have made it as far as they did with Ian as an official member of the band. Andrew Loog Oldham and Ian also had bad blood between them and certainly disliked each other So that may have also played a role.However, this position allowed Ian to work on many different projects. He collaborated with Eric Clapton, Ringo, Steve Winwood and Led Zeppelin. Speaking of Zeppelin how about another under appreciated member, John Paul-Jones.

Unfortunately, Ian died on Dec 12th 1985 from a heart attack at age 47. It was a great loss for the music community. In February the next year, The Stones played a tribute concert for him. Ian Stewart was very influential to the Stones and when they were inducted into the hall of fame. The current members insisted on having his name along with them. All in all, it is sad that he was marginalized in a band he helped form and shape but at least he got recognition.

“Ian Stewart. I’m still working for him. To me the Rolling Stones is his band. Without his knowledge and organization … we’d be nowhere.”
Keith Richards, Life

Some of the notable songs that Ian worked on
Brown Sugar
Dead Flowers
Honky Tonk Woman
Stupid Girl
It’s Only Rock and Roll (but I like it)

* Some of my favourite piano parts like Tumbling Dice and Sympathy for the Devil were played by Nicky Hopkins another great pianist but that will be for another post.

This will be my last post before the New Year and I won’t be doing anything until mid January. Also this is my 35th post, Word press tells me it means something special, but I can’t tell what it is.

Some Girls

Some Girls -1978

Some Girls -1978

The reissue of Some Girls came out yesterday and there is a lot of unreleased material on the bonus CD.

Here is the full list.

Side one

No.         Title       Length

1.            “Miss You”          4:48

2.            “When the Whip Comes Down”                4:20

3.            “Imagination” (Norman Whitfield/Barrett Strong)             4:38

4.            “Some Girls”      4:36

5.            “Lies”    3:11

Side two

No.         Title       Length

6.            “Far Away Eyes”               4:24

7.            “Respectable”  3:06

8.            “Before They Make Me Run”     3:25

9.            “Beast of Burden”           4:25

10.          “Shattered”        3:48

Reissue Material

No.         Title       Length

1.            “Claudine”          3:42

2.            “So Young”         3:18

3.            “Do You Think I Really Care?”      4:22

4.            “When You’re Gone” (Ronnie Wood)     3:51

5.            “No Spare Parts”              4:30

6.            “Don’t Be a Stranger”     4:06

7.            “We Had It All” (Troy Seals/Donnie Fritts)             2:54

8.            “Tallahassee Lassie” (Bob Crewe/Frank C. Slay/Frederick A. Picariello)    2:37

9.            “I Love You Too Much”                  3:10

10.          “Keep Up Blues”              4:20

11.          “You Win Again” (Hank Williams)               3:00

12.          “Petrol Blues”    1:35

It’s nice to see a little Ronnie Wood in there and it’s always great to see Hank Williams Sr. anywhere.

This album gave us songs like ‘Shattered’, ‘Beast of Burden’ and my favourite from the album ‘Miss You’. I also think ‘When the Whip Comes Down’ is an excellent song. Shattered and When the Whip Comes Down also really foreshadowed the direction that the Stones were about to take musically, especially with start me up. One thing I notice a lot and it started around this time, Charlie Watts’ drumming style. He is tightening up his playing and his toms. It sounds much more commanding, and can really play against those riffs that Keith is laying down.

This is the first album that came out with Ronnie Wood as a full member who with still playing with The Stones today. Here is a little aside about Ronnie. He played in The Byrds, The Jeff Beck Group and Faces before he joined The Rolling Stones. He replaced Mick Taylor who originally was called in to replace Bryan Jones after his unfortunate death. Ronnie also has a signature guitar from ESP that looks exactly like a telecaster with a humbucker at the bridge.

What do you prefer New Stones? Old Stones? Like both?

Upcoming Posts

Hello all,

I know I haven’t been posting as much as I normally do. I will probably have a few coming down this week, but I am going to start a guitar restoration segment. I have an old Kay guitar I bought at a yard sale for $10 and I am currently thinking about how to restore it. I have put on some new tuner so it accepts strings. The big problem now is the neck is partially detached from the body.

Anyway these are some of the topics I plan on talking about:

-The Rolling Stones

-Ian Stewart

-Ludwig Van Beethoven and his 9th Symphony

-Steinberger Guitars

-Schecter Basses

-Kay Guitar Restoration

 

Telecasters

I can’t believe I have gone this many posts and I have only talked about telecasters once.  The Telecaster was the first guitar I bought where I felt like I really purchased a great guitar. I put so much effort into thinking about and selecting it, and now the research on a guitar is one of my favourite parts of the process.

Deluxe Telecaster

Deluxe Telecaster image from Fender.com

A brief history of the telecaster:

When Leo Fender started he was experimenting with mass producing guitars and solid bodies. He was a loyal country western fan and he wanted to make a guitar that could reach loud volumes and wouldn’t be plagued with the awful feedback that hollow body guitars give when they have a single coil pick up attached. He started out with a prototype of what is now called a Telecaster, but then it was called a broadcaster. Country players loved it and still continue to use it. Leo changed the name because Gretsch guitars had a model called the Broadkaster and so Leo changed the name to Telecaster. However instead of renaming it immediately he scratched of broadcaster and that era of tele production have been called the nocaster. There is a whole lot of reissuing of telecasters since it is the 60th anniversary, and there are tweaks and modifications but mostly the telecaster has remained constant since 1951 when it was released.

Famous Telecaster Players

-Keith Richards (Sometimes he uses a Gibson ES-355 but usually a tele player)

-Merle Haggard (He has one of the nicest custom guitars, although I don’t think they let you play electric in bluegrass)

-Brad Paisley (Has a Paisley pink Tele and it don’t matter, He is my Favourite Country Picker and soloist)

-Andy Summers (I know he is always seen with a red strat like Mark Knopfler but he is a tele man)

-Bruce ”The Boss” Springsteen, butterscotch blonde

-Albert Lee, I think he uses a music man now

-Waylon Jennings, and outlaw with a tele, don’t fuck with him

-Joe Strummer, I will stand by Sandanista!

-Jeff Buckley, Hallelujah

-John 5, Yeah you can use them for metal too

-A whole bunch of other guitarists, who know what’s what

 

Squire Telecaster

Squire Telecaster by Fender Image from Fender.com

 

Features:

-2 single coil pickups ( there are versions with a humbucker at the neck end but If I want a humbucking guitar I wouldn’t buy a tele)

-No contours in the body (that update was left for the Stratocaster)

-Astray Bridge ( Now I know a real tele player will stay true and stick with the ashtray bridge and the 3 saddle. I didn’t do that. I used to play a strat and I like the 6 saddle bridge. This is one of the reasons I got the 2010 updated Telecaster. It’s just the way I like to play)

-3 way Pickup selector (keeping it easy, Bridge, Bridge + Neck and Neck)

Types of Telecasters

  1. Squire- Good starter Tele and if you want to get in to modifications it’s a good one to buy because the biggest variation is in the hardware, rip out those stock pickup and put in some ’52 vintage style ones. It’ll make it sound a hell of a lot nicer. $230
  2. Standard- just like it sounds it’s the baseline tele nothing fancy. Made in Mexico $500
  3. Baja- Still has the old 3 saddle bridge and a great sandy beige finish. It has some nice vintage broadcaster pickups and a little shorter nut width- $800
  4. Road Worn- If you want to look worn out but you don’t want to put the time into it you can opt for a pre worn guitar. I think the fret board feels like sandpaper and the store I tried it at had these rusty strings on, so I didn’t care for it, but they have been getting very popular. $900

 

I know for sure everything from here on is Made in the USA and if that is important to you then you better start here and expect to spend at least $800 and that is all over the guitar universe

 

  1. American Special- Entry level American Made, 3 saddle bridge and Texas special pickups $850
  2. American Standard- This is what I have, it’s hard to distinguish between the subtlety but later on ill share why I chose this one $1000
  3. American Deluxe- A step up from the standard and from what I can tell it always has a cream binding running around the body, and they also put on the noiseless pickups so you don’t get that 60v hum, which depending on the player you may love it or hate it $1700
  4. Custom-sky is the limit and so is the price, probably starts at $2800

 

Telecaster with black pick guard

Telecaster with black pick guard

When I was choosing my tele the thing that stood out to me most was the neck and the fretboard. For the most part they are alder or ash bodies, urethane finish and incrementally better pickup quality. The Fingerboard on the worn I already talked about but the American special wasn’t as fast at the American standard. The frets weren’t as clean and I didn’t like the feel. The Standard and squire necks are similar but they didn’t have the consistency that the American had and I could feel the frets too much when I ran my hand along neck. Three main things about the American standard, low action but not so low it feels like they forgot to put a nut in and the maple frets and fretboard finish. I liked the way it is set up because it was set up correctly. I didn’t have to adjust a thing it was throttleneck right out of the case. The finish makes for a very comfortable play and the frets had a lot of finishing and attention paid to them. Now the American deluxe I probably would have liked as well but it’s a sizeable jump and the telecaster I got was not a floor display. It was straight from Fender.

Now I specifically chose the 6 saddle bridge because I like resting my hand on the side, especially when I am doing some picking. My hand kept getting in the way of the 3 saddle bridge and I kept muting all of the strings. I’m sure I could have changed my style but 12 years of playing. I think I know what I like.

So if you want to buy a telecaster (and there are other tele style guitars) I would go with Fender. I know after buying any expensive item you think, did I just make a good purchase? In this case I would say damn right you did. I have never regretted spending $1000 on a guitar, but I also play every day and it took me 11 years to buy a guitar worth more than a few hundred dollars.

Would you chose a tele over any other guitar? Which tele would you choose?

baja Telecaster

Baja Telecaster image from Fender.com

 

Some Girls re released

I am a huge Rolling Stones fan, and they are re releasing Some Girls on Nov. 21st and a new unreleased track. Some Girls is not one of my favourite albums but I still love it. If you haven’t heard the new track I posted a youtube link under this. I know I’m at the age where people wonder why I like the Stones more than Lady Gaga. I tell them, listen to what you just said. I also own a telecaster, so …

Here is the youtube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Khg6Y93nFjU

I think its a great song, I’m glad they are still able to put out old tracks like the outtakes on the double disc Exile on Main Street. I like their newer albums like Bridges to Babylon, but there is nothing like Let It Bleed and Sticky Fingers.

Re issue of Some Girls image from Rollingstones.com

I’d say better than The Beatles.