Monday, February 20, 2012
LARRY BRIGHT - I SAW HER STANDING THERE
Just a few examples: after signing his first record contract, and having his first hit record, he completely breached his contract by signing with another label - because the first record company wouldn't buy him a new suit so he could appear on "American Bandstand". His great guitar playing landed him a gig playing for James Brown - until he was overheard calling The Godfather Of Soul a "monkey". He also turned down a badly-needed high-paying job playing guitar for Don Ho, saying "it just wasn't (my) style". Combined with the fact that he really, really liked to drink, and would basically sign any piece of paper that was put in front of him, Bright's career (and life) became a shambles.
Born Julian Ferebee Bright on August 17, 1934 in Norfolk, VA, he was nicknamed "Little Larry" by his stepfather, a Navy man, and "my lil' white bastard" by his black nanny. The family settled in Corpus Christi, Texas, and young Larry was exposed to the blues through a thousand Texas jukeboxes and radio stations. He learned how to play guitar, but not much else, moved to California and joined the Navy at 18. Unfortunately, Larry was a little too loony for the Navy, and was discharged on a Section 8 a year later. Larry started jamming in local L. A. clubs, developing a rep as a killer guitarist and a grade A flake.
In 1959, producer/arrangers Joe Sacareno and Ernie Freeman finally got Larry into a studio. The original idea was to have Larry cut a version of "Hound Dog" that was closer to Big Mama Thornton's original than Elvis Presley's. Instead, Larry came up with an "original" idea of his own. Claiming he "remembered" the idea of the song from New Orleans, Larry basically did a remake of "Got My Mojo Workin'", called "Mojo Workout". He said he couldn't remember which parts of the song were his and which parts were Muddy Waters' (actually, he was wrong on both counts; the song was written and first recorded by Ann Cole in 1957).
Interesting side note here - despite his rather spurious claim on the song, Larry Bright knew a lot more about a mojo than people thought; he actually had a mojo (monkey's paw) on a chain around his neck, claiming that his black nanny (who he called "Mammy") had given it to him when he was very young.
At any rate, the song was picked up by a small L. A. label, Tide Records, and the record began receiving a lot of airplay on the West Coast, and even charted at #90 nationally in 1960. Then the real lunacy started - you can read about Larry's further adventures here and here.
By 1971, Larry had been through a half-dozen record labels, one wife, and a LOT of litigation. Signing with Art Laboe's Original Sound Records (home of the "Oldies But Goodies" compilation series), Larry decided to get back to the blues, Jimmy Reed style, with this Beatles number. Released in October, 1971, there was NO WAY it was going to be a hit anywhere, but it is an interesting take on the Lennon - McCartney song - and only a certified nutjob like Larry Bright could make it work.
Larry Bright died on December 17, 2003, in Placer, California. Track down his singles wherever you can find them; they're all great, and many of them are compiled here.
Larry Bright - I Saw Her Standing There (Original Sound 103) - 1971