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BACKSTAGE: The 100 Club, London, September 13, 2001
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We spoke with sometime Elton guitarist John Jorgenson
13 September 2001 @ 19:26

By George Matlock

George Matlock: I know these are especially difficult times, following the aftermath of the terror attacks on the U.S. this week, but have you mooted the possibility of a benefit tribute show ?

John Jorgenson: No, I haven’t even thought that far ahead. Being here in London and being far away from my family and friends during this really difficult time, my main thoughts have been for getting through the rest of my obligations and shows here the best that I can and entertaining the audience the best I can, and to get home. I am sure there are going to be some relief concerts. I know that we’re planning to go to New York on October 9 to play at the Bottom Line, and it’s going to be really emotional. Life as we know it will never be the same again after what happened last Tuesday. And it’s not a thing about the United States, it’s the whole world. Hopefully, everybody can get things sorted out so this kind of thing will never happen again.

GM: When you have looked through all the footage and press of this incident, do you think you might be inspired to write a song about it? I know you have written a song about a musician before, and played at the Borderline here last year that lovely song.

JJ: Probably. I mean my feelings they have been kept in check. I feel I have to keep my head about me, but probably when I get home, yeah, it’s going to happen.

GM: Onto happier notes, Elton John’s new album is coming out in a few weeks’ time, Songs from the West Coast, have you heard the songs?

JJ: I have heard them, but it was the evening that I was stepping in to fill in for Davey (Johnstone), the first time. I heard them in Elton’s dressing room. He played them for me. But to be honest, my mind was really on what I had to do that evening. When I heard the sound it was great. I was happy to hear Davey, Nigel and Elton together again because it was quite a bit of the classic sound. But as far as remembering anything else, I was really too distracted and upset to really go comfortably to listen to the music. I am sure it is great. How can it not be?

GM: Thanks very much John. We’re all rooting for you tonight.

(John was referring to his summer 2001 comeback to fill in for Davey who was recalled from the US tour after news of the tragic loss of his son in a domestic accident).

Earlier that night, we spoke with former Elton drummer Charlie Morgan

George Matlock: I am joined by Charlie Morgan, who is here with John Jorgenson at the 100 Club, which doesn’t represent the aggregate total of their ages…

Charlie Morgan: Er, that’s less than the aggregate total of our ages!

GM: He’s just going to tell us about what he’s doing back home in the States these days. He’s in London on the final leg of their UK tour. Charlie is going back to the US pretty soon. What have you been doing for the past year?

CM: All sorts of things. I met with a whole bunch of people in Orlando, Florida. For a while I was trying to work on the Nashville circuit, as you know, but I met a really good group of musicians in Orlando, and decided that Nashville is a bit of a shrinking market right now, Orlando is an expanding market, I would concentrate more time on that. So, I have spent more time at home, which is great. I have met up with Pat Travers from the Pat Travers Band, and Larry Hoppin, who is the original singer in Orleans, and his brother Lane. I have been working quite regularly Monday nights at City Jazz, which is the Universal Studios lot. Every Monday, we do the Larry Hoppin All-Stars, which is a band comprising Larry and various artists. I am tying to get John Jorgenson to do a guest spot there.

GM: And are you succeeding?

CM: Well, I think he’s up for it now. But Larry Hoppin is also musical director for the group called The Voices of Classic Rock, which you can go onto their website at The Voices of Classic Rock are a loose collection of multi-million-selling singers who’ve had huge hits. To name a few: we’ve got Glenn Hughes, Jo Lynn Turner, both from Deep Purple, we’ve got Bobby Kimble from Toto, Jimmy Jamieson from Survivor, Mike Reno from Loverboy, Dave Jenkins from Pablo Cruz, Ronnie Hammond from the Atlanta Rhythm Section. Larry Hoppin does his hits, and Pat Travers is the guitarist, he comes a couple of hits. We’ve also had a few guest appearances such as Leslie West, the original guitarist in Mountain, who came along. Also John Cafferty from the Beaver Brown Band who wrote all the songs for the Eddie and the Cruisers movie. All have had multi-million sellers in the United States or worldwide. So we basically play their hits. Each artist comes on and does three of four songs, that’s it. And on any one gig we will have four or five artists. It’s a really good format. It’s very popular. I have done about 50 percent of the gig because we have another drummer, two rhythm sections. I was unable to leave the country, so I could only do domestic gigs, but now I have my travel papers, I can go anywhere. They do a lot of gigs in South America, the budget’s pretty good, the pay’s good, the treatment is very good. And next year, they’re hoping to raise the game on that project and take it to a new, more professional level.

GM: Now with your travel papers you can travel anywhere you say. Is there a prospect that perhaps you will play with British bands or artists?

CM: If the work’s here yes. I have been in constant contact with my friends here. But there doesn’t seem to be much demand for drummers here. Mostly seems to be dance music. But I still think the market here is crying out for people of the Baby-Boomer age group (1950s-1960s) who want to hear real drums and rock music. It’s not being catered.

GM: I spoke to Stewart Brown of Elton’s first band. He lives in Ibiza and was telling me how appalled he was with the dance music that reigns supreme over there. He was saying dance has taken over. Is it like that in the States?

CM: No not really. There is a big dance and Hip-Hop movement, but there is something for everybody. The States are so big that even a minority can make a living selling records. There is something to cater for everybody’s tastes.

GM: So your advice to budding musicians of the future is that it’s going to be happening in America, not in Britain?

CM: I hope it is going to change! I think music is polarising in Europe. England has become the centre of the dance music fad, but I think Germany is the centre of rock music, and Italy the Jazz scene. I did a lecture yesterday at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, and they were asking about getting work in the UK. I said: Frankly, we’re European now. You might as well take advantage of it, and, with at least a passing knowledge of a foreign language, go and use it! I am fluent in French, I did a lot of work in France, brought up partly in France. I have done a lot of work in Italy, Germany and Spain, The Netherlands. In fact, now I am working for people in those countries from my own home in Florida. I have a small studio at the back of my house, They send me audio files and I have a hard disk system, burn a CD and send it back to them. These are all European clients I originally worked for and have sold records very well.

GM: Any names you can drop?

CM: Not at the moment, but there are a number of people doing audio-visual projects I am working on. In the last year, I did three tracks for the film Moulin Rouge. It took a year to come out. I did the tracks this time last year in the UK. For Maris De Fries, who was the director for the whole project.

GM: Since moving to the USA in 1999, it’s taken some time to settle in. Do you think it is where you are going to stay?

CM: I think it is. I don’t think there is enough work over here (UK). I’d have to start again.

GM: And you got married. Tell us a bit about that?

CM: That was a while ago, November 1999. Me and Jerilyn have been together now since early 1998. We’re very solid, and very close, and we are very much feeling isolated at the moment because of this current crisis.

GM: Indeed, how are you coping with that?

CM: I think we are all a little traumatised. It is very weird for me, because Britain is my home country, but America is my home. I am certainly feeling some of the emotions that all Americans are feeling about the defiling of their country for a start. But I think a lot of Brits in the UK are feeling that too. I am appalled, very worried about the situation.

GM: We are referring of course to the demolition, it cannot be put ore bluntly than that, of the World Trade Center ins New York and the attack on the Pentagon this week. Some people in Britain are saying it may change the mentality of the Americans. So far, they had that gung-ho approach. They didn’t check the internal flights rigorously, flights across major city centres, and now maybe they will become more suspicious, not so open to other cultures. Do you think that is a risk?

CM: There is a risk with George Bush America will retreat within its boundaries. Foreign aid may also reduce. Look what happens when we supply aid to these countries, and they are ungrateful. I am unsure, but they will certainly step up security. Gone are the luxuries of curbside check-ins for domestic flights, which was something I actually liked doing. I walk up, hand the guy a five dollar note, check-in my bags, walk to the gate.

GM: Perhaps on a more humorous note, it seems you guys always come to the UK on tour and there’s a US crisis on. Last year, you were performing at the Borderline, and Kiki Dee was in audience, November 2000. And there was a US presidential crisis. Is there anything to be drawn from this?

CM: I hope we’re not the cause of the US crises! I know my wife wasn’t the cause of the last crisis, because she voted Democrat. She was one of those people who voted for the Right Person, if you like. But that’s all in the past really. Last year’s election, had it happened in any other country other than the United States, then Britain and the US would have gone in with troops and demanded a fair election. Because where else in the world could the pivotal state (of Florida) have been the state where the brother of the potential Republican candidate was the Governor? Let’s face it, it stinks!

GM:It doesn’t sound like one man, one vote. Thank you Charlie Morgan.

The full audio interview will be available on the Hotline by close of September 16, 2001. Dial 0906 888 2020 from inside the UK only.

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