by Karen A. Brown @IndieStardust @StardustBlueCEO
Larry Russell is a dear friend and when I saw what he had found in his archives I had to share it with you!
These five original songs feature Billy Joel, Larry Russell, Rhys Clark, and Al Hertzberg in 1972! The sessions were recorded in Los Angeles at Paramount Recording Studios on Santa Monica Boulevard shortly after performing at the famous Sigma Studio, which was the concert that got Billy noticed by Columbia Records.
Thank you Larry Russell for supplying these rare recordings!
Interview with Larry Russell: Original Bass player for Billy Joel’s band 1972
KAB: How did you meet Billy and what year was it?
LR: It was early 1967 my band THE AGE OF REASON auditioned to be the opening act in a long island club called MY HOUSE owned by Danny Mazur. His son Irwin would later become Billy’s manager during my tenure. And that’s how it all began; my band opened up for THE HASSLES every Friday and Saturday night for a few months and also shared lots of shows with them outside of the club, like PALISADES AMUSEMENT PARK and HS proms.
KAB: How did you come across these lost recordings? Tell us about all these great original tracks!
LR: I had been looking for this tape for about 2 years now and stumbled across it accidentally, while opening some storage bins. I knew I should digitize it because it was on a cassette that was recorded by a good friend of mine, Alan Diaz, who was present during the sessions in Los Angeles. The engineer took a feed from the board and transferred it into Alan’s little Panasonic mono recorder. That tape was transferred onto another tape that he gave to me and I digitized it in my studio and gave that to the administrator of a great Billy Joel fan forum on Facebook run by pretty cool Billy Joel fan, Mike Stutz. The forum name is called Billy Joel: Completely Retold. the sessions took place in Los Angeles in April 1972 at the Paramount Studios on Santa Monica Boulevard. I believe we recorded there 1 or 2 days in one week to record about six songs. The engineer was the same one who worked with James Taylor on Fire and Rain. I remember those sessions as being a very happy time for us as that was a great momentum for us at that point.
KAB: What was the atmosphere like recording with Billy during this session?
LR: My old drummer bandmate, Alan Diaz. who would later go on to play Sergio Mendez, was attending this session and it was his cassette tape that was used to make the digital transfer of these sessions. The atmosphere was never tense. Between Billy, Rhys and I, there were plenty of ‘NY kidding’ around to keep us loose in the studio. And besides, we had a very successful string of dates that solidified Billy’s future success to come.
KAB: What was the equipment did you guys used to record?
LR: I used a 1972 Fender Prescision Bass that Billy bought me, mostly because my Rickenbacker Bass was getting played out. Al Hertzberg used his new Strat, that Billy bought him, as well. Rhys used his custom kit with Ludwig hardware. And Billy used the studio’s Steinway Grand. The engineer that day was Bill Lazarus, who two years prior engineered James Taylor’s Fire and Rain LP. He was awesome. The room provided him a 16 track Studer. I believe these sessions lasted two to three days.
KAB: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers, Larry?
LR: Yes, this band is releasing some live material from our reunion show from last year at The Bitter End on iTunes soon. It is called ‘Long, Long Time’ and look out for us later this year when we mini-tour a few shows down the East Coast.
KAB: Where can folks see you play now?
LR: We are planning an East Coast multi city mini-tour and I will provide info relating to this on Facebook. I am also in the midst of mixing the tracks from our Bitter End Reunion Show from last September 22, 2013 and those tracks will soon be available for sale as a download on iTunes as soon as it is completed.
Thanks for dropping in here with me on Indiestardust Larry! Wonderful hearing these incredible stories!
Find Larry on Twitter @LRussellBass and on Facebook