An Interview with Motor City guitarist/ singer Solomon King: The truth never goes out of style

"I hate rehearsal I don’t rehearse for Life. I live.  My music is the same."

Solomon King: New American Bluesman

Back in the day of the old American Dream, Solomon lived in Detroit City and worked at the big automobile dream factory. But the promise of fulfilling that big dream quickly faded into the assembly line Blues. Mind-numbing monotonous hours, and a daily grind of soul-destroying work, eased only by lots of booze, broads, and the never-ending Friday night cocaine Blues.

Then the layoffs hit. The great auto dream factories began closing down. Out of work, Solomon tossed his trusty acoustic guitar into the trunk of a Ford Maverick and headed west. He managed to dodge some occasional scrapes with the law along the way and when he ran out of road found himself in L.A. Different town, different dream, same factory - The Hollywood Creedo of "Hurry up and wait". The endless hours of unemployment and nothing to do drove Solomon to playing his guitar and "writing songs about what I knew best - the Blues."

Solomon continued honing his craft jamming with Blues musicians and hanging out in their circles. Then one day an electric guitar uttered a sweet whisper promising to take his music to new heights. The plea was so urgent that he abandoned his acoustic guitar for a '57 Goldtop. Then he took one more step - maybe more of a leap of faith than a step.

To hear Solomon King is to follow the road map of great American Music It's a journey that starts with a piece of broken concrete torn from the wreckage of the Motor City. Up ahead a new stretch of the music super highway is being built. It’s a road that goes to places you have never been to before. This is the destination where you will find Solomon King.

 

Interview by Michael Limnios

 

What do you learn about yourself from the blues, what does the blues mean to you?

To me we need to substitute the word “Life” for “Blues”. It’s all about an emotional involvement a physical exploration. The human experience is about what we touch and how it makes us feel. Scientists process and share this information using a certain set of tools. A blues musician does the same thing. In my case I happen to be better with a guitar than a microscope.

 

In what age did you play your first gig and how was it like?

I think I was 12. Maybe a school dances. I remember the drummer’s drum kit fell apart in the middle of a song. Somehow he managed to put the drums back with one hand while he kept the rhythm going with the other hand on the ride cymbal. He never missed a beat. That was a good lesson early in life. No matter what just keep going? Everything will turn out alright

 

How do you describe Solomon King sound and progress, what characterize your music philosophy?

I hate rehearsal I don’t rehearse for Life. I live. My music is the same. I write songs that can be played without rehearsal. That means they have to be simple and familiar. But the real trick to what I do is to take what is simple and give it a layer of complexity and sophistication. My goal is to write a song that you’ve heard all your life and make it seem like you are hearing it for the first time

 

How do you get inspiration for your songs & what musicians have influenced you most as a songwriter?

My inspiration is terror. Again going back to my disdain of rehearsal, I love to get up on stage and walk that tightrope of bringing beauty out of chaos.

 

What is the “feel” you miss most nowadays from the “old days of blues”?

Next year - today will be the “old Days of Blues”. When Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf were playing there were plenty of people of yearned for the ‘GOOD OLD DAYS” of MudHouse Henderson and Divin’ Duck Dickens it’s a huge trap to yearn for the “good old days”.

 

Which is the most interesting period in your life and why?

Every day is interesting.

 

How has the music business changed over the years since you first started in music?

As a business…There are more musicians making less money. Everything else is the same

 

What advice would you give to aspiring musicians thinking of pursuing a career in the craft?

Do what (and who) you love. There are no guarantees in life.  Get used to it

 

What experiences in your life make you a good bluesman and songwriter?

Deirdre, Patty, Maggie, Amy, Suzie, Xena, Marilyn, Venetta, Camille, Cynthia…

 

Photo from the film about the Phil Spector/Lana Clarkson murder. Starring: Solomon King (Phil Spector) and Monica Lee, Directed by Roy Karch & Screenplay by James Trivers

Would you mind telling me your most vivid memory from the film: The Phil Spector Incident “I Think I just shot Her”?

My most vivid memory is finishing shooting at 3?0 clock in the morning, the crew was packing up equipment. I looked at myself in a mirror wearing my big blonde wig and a five thousand dollar suit and thinking to myself, "I can't believe we pulled this off"

 

Which memory from recording time makes you smile?

Working on my “under the sun” CD. When we first cut rhythm tracks. The producer (Sylvester Rivers) had brought in a legendary group of musicians (Ray Parker Jr., Reggie McBride, Ollie Brown) I never played with them before and they didn’t know who I was. They started jamming to warm up. I plugged in and started playing along with them. Reggie looked over to the other guys and gave them a look that said “Those guys not too bad. It’s gonna be all right”

 

What is the best advice a bluesman ever gave you?

When I first came to L.A. and hung out with Etta James. Her advice, “it aint if your good. It aint if you’re bad.  It’s just if you’re happening”

 

What the difference and similarity between the BLUES, SOUL, and ROCK feeling?

What’s the difference and similarity between a blonde, a brunette and a redhead?

 

What’s the best jam you ever played in? What are some of the most memorable gigs you've had?

Most memorable…I was the singer for a Rock band. I wore a fancy leather jacket. We were booked at a punk club. The audience hated the band. They were flipping coins at me screaming “…take your jacket and go home”

 

Some music styles can be fads but the blues is always with us.  Why do think that is? 

The truth never goes out of style

 

How do you describe your contact to people when you are on stage and what compliment do you appreciate the most after a gig?

I am grateful if there is an audience when I’m on stage.  What I appreciate most:

A man telling me, “good job” and a woman giving me her phone number

 

What is your “secret” DREAM? Happiness is……

I am living my dream

 

Why did you think that Les Paul '57 Goldtop continues to generate such a devoted following?

A Blonde with those perfect curves will always generate a devoted following

 

Solomon King's official website

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