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Way Down: Playing Bass with Elvis, Dylan, The Doors and More - The Autobiography of Jerry Scheff Paperback – March 1, 2012
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In "Way Down Playing Bass with Elvis, Dylan, The Doors and More" Jerry Scheff, one of the most sought after bass players and session players in Los Angeles gives us anecdotes from his life of playing with the legends of Rock `n' Roll. Scheff starts right at the top, with "The King" Elvis Presley and how he went on an audition for Elvis' 1969 TCB (Takin' Care of Business) Band on a lark, never really expecting to get the job or even sure he wanted the job with Presley, but ended up playing with the TCB Band even after Presley's death. Scheff introduces us to other members of the band, what it was like to work up Presley's Vegas act, what it was like onstage with Presley and even some pretty cool stories of going over to dinner with Elvis and Priscilla.
From there Scheff back tracks a bit and tells us of his formative years learning to play music, on the tuba, getting into bass guitar, his mother taking him to blues clubs when he was underage, it should be noted that this was in an era when blues clubs were all if not predominately black clubs. Then his years in the Navy where he met a lot of musicians that he would bump into again and again over the years and they were also an informal musician's network recommending each other when another player was needed for a band, this network got Scheff into the early L.A.Read more ›
The book is 235 pages – full marks for a good index – of which Scheff’s stories with Elvis take up 68 pages of the book.
Jerry’s tale of his early years and first becoming inspired as a bass-player, even though not being involved with Elvis, is a sheer delight. There are some revealing stories of 50s’ racism in the black jazz music scene and some interesting revelations on how the jazz, R & B and soul musicians often intersected in their session and stage work.
The story of his first true gig as a white, skinny, 14 year-old in a duck-tail hairdo trying to impress a seriously cool black jazz band – paying until his fingers bled – is a fabulous tale. As well as being just one insight on how hard it is to become a successful musician.
A load of producers and musicians have passed through Jerry’s life and it is amazing the amount of links there are in bands and recordings one has heard of over the years.
Jerry started playing with up-coming stars like Billy Preston (The Beatles etc) as far back as 1965 before recording with the likes of Sammy Davis Jr and Neil Diamond.
There is also the strange oddity of Red West calling him up to play on Elvis’ ‘Easy Come, Easy Go’ session. Red West asked "Are you Jerry Scheff the trumpet player?Read more ›
His life as a musician, with the people he played with, was often tragic and the closure of this book leaves a less than uplifting message for the reader. He "puts down" many of the people who hired him, including Elvis Presley.
I am in the process of completing my own book, which includes the period of time I fell in love with Jerry and married him. As with all of his previous wives, he didn't stay married long, although his life with Diane lasted many years. She went through hell and back with him, remaining steadfast while he went in and out of alcohol and drug issues, as he discusses in this book, but she is not mentioned. For those interested in Jerry's background, growing up, getting involved in music, this will be an interesting book. Jerry, as you may know, is a gifted musician and my early memories of him are good ones, like the day we drove to Las Vegas. He was starting a new job. We moved into an apartment with two infants and no electricity. He jumped on the phone and got the electric company to help us out. There were a lot of circumstances in this book I knew nothing about, taking place after our four year marriage. If you're a fan of Jerry, or enjoy reading about music, this book is for you. It is well written and easy to read.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Not as much info about the Doors as I had hoped. Also he is not the Bass player on the early recordings.Published 15 months ago by Donny King
Jerry is a much better bass player than writer. Very dry and amateurish writing, interspersed with some anecdotesPublished 17 months ago by Kevin L. Guhl
This is a super good read about Elvis.
Give good information about the others in his life.
I think everyone would like to read this one.
Some of the most unsung heroes in the music business are the hired gun musicians who have played on a bazillion songs. Read morePublished on April 1, 2012 by Boomerocity