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Way Down: Playing Bass with Elvis, Dylan, The Doors and More - The Autobiography of Jerry Scheff Paperback – March 1, 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

UK author, JERRY SCHEFF spent his early life in Vallejo, California, moving to Sacramento when he was fourteen. In the early 1960s, after a brief spell in the Navy and time spent building his chops in Southern California, he took the leap to move to Los Angeles, where he quickly rose to the top among the droves of pro session players. In the late sixties, he began his work with Elvis Presley. He has played with countless artists and continues to tour with the TCB band.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Backbeat (March 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 161713032X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1617130328
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #833,077 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
For most of us the 1960's is the golden age of Rock `n' Roll complete with its own pantheon of Gods and heroes, some of those names bring instant recognition and we know their place and mythology in this modern iconography. Names such as Elvis, Dylan, Jim Morrison and Jerry Scheff knew and played with his fair share of them.

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.
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Format: Paperback
This book really does a great job exuding the feel of the times. Mr. Scheff is truly one of the quiet but highly influential bassists in rock and roll history. Although each section could be expanded to be separate books, the insights given throughout the journey are priceless. Music historians, musicians, Doors fans, Elvis fans...you'll want to get this one.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Jerry Scheff has a very endearing and warm style of writing. Reading his biography is like listening to a favourite Uncle telling you his old stories. Some you will have heard of, but now they are more fleshed out and even more interesting. Especially when we know the key players all too well! One oddity about the book is how he jumps around with the chronology at times but while this could be annoying, most times it is understandable.
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?
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Everybody that hears a CD of Elvis's live performances say; Who is that Bass Player? Jerry Scheff, one of The Best in the Business! This book tells of his career, playing with some of the most influential entertainers in the music business. A must for music enthusiast! Way Down! Playing Bass... is well written and has some cool photo's. This guy was as most bass players are, is one cool cat. His account of the day he found out Elvis had died is worth purchasing the book alone, not to mention all the other stuff. I was delightfully surprised how much i enjoyed reading this Book! Thanks for taking the time to write if Jerry....
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I know first hand about the author. I was married to him. While he paints me as a "singer he had a few flings with" we were actually legally married and had two children together. I found the book to be interesting because of my knowledge of the author and what he did after our divorce. He didn't mention any of the three wives he was married to, including me, Vivian or Diane and he only mentions his fourth wife Natalie, by name, in one paragraph.

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.
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