The Rolling Stones take to the stage with Jeff Beck last night (11/25/2012) at The 02 Arena in London to do a Don Nix song that Beck recorded in 1972. It was recorded at Jerry Williams’ TMI Studios and was on “the Jeff Beck Group” album aka “The Orange Album.”
Don Nix is one of the best ambassadors of Memphis music. He has played with the best in the world and they got to play with him. “Going Down” is a rock classic. It was a great song when the Memphis group Moloch recorded it in 1970 also produced and arranged by Don Nix. It has been covered by Freddie King, Jeff Beck, Pearl Jam, JJ Cale and many, many other artist, hats off to Memphis music legend Don Nix.
I have some history with Don Nix. Jon Scott (DJ at FM 100 in Memphis, VP of Album Promotion for MCA Records, VP of Promotion for Backstreet Records and Co-owner of AllMemphisMusic.com) called me one night when I was working at FM100 and told me that he was going to be interviewing George Harrison’s father, Harry and to come in early if I wanted to sit in and watch. I got there about 10:30 or 11 as I recall. A few minutes later there was a ring at the back door (another light). Jon asked me to let them in and there stood Don Nix, a local artist and songwriter (the first to be signed to Leon Russell’s Shelter Records) and Klaus Voorman along with a short elderly English gentleman who I’m guessing is Harry.
They talked for quite a while about the Concert for Bangladesh, the album and the movie. Don Nix was in the backup band on both.
Don’s an excellent songwriter and wrote a killer song called “Going Down” that was originally recorded by a local Memphis group called Moloch. It was later recorded by Freddie King on Shelter and many more artists have also covered including Jeff Beck. Don also wrote a song recorded by Albert King on his Love Joy album that Don also produced called “Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven (But Nobody Wants to Die).” That’s one of my favorite Don Nix songs. Don has had a great career, the next year he formed the Alabama State Troupers with other notable Memphis musicians like bluesman Furry Lewis, Brenda Patterson and Ken Woodley. Don was also a member of the Mar-Keys with his high school buddies Steve Cropper and Duck Dunn. Wayne Jackson of the Memphis Horns was also in the group. They had a hit with the instrumental “Last Night” on the Satellite Records label which later became Stax.
Harry told Jon that his house was the only one that would allow the group that would become the Beatles to practice there. They went by The Quarrymen and then changed their name to the Silver Beatles before The Beatles.
In addition to my graveyard shift, I also did a Saturday 7 to midnight shift. One Saturday I got a call from Jerry Williams, who ran and owned Trans Maximus (TMI) studios with Steve Cropper. He was the former Business Manager for Paul Revere and the Raiders. Jerry asked me if I wanted to come to the studio. He said one of my favorites was recording there. I had already been there to see Buddy Miles record an album that Cropper produced called “Them Changes.” The title track became Miles signature song. It also had great versions of Greg Allman’s “Dreams” and Neil Young’s “Down by the River.” I talked to Miles about playing in Jimi Hendrix’s Band of Gypsies and some of his experiences playing and recording with the Electric Flag. Michael Bloomfield, another one of my favorites was also in the Electric Flag. I loved him on the “Super Sessions” album he did with Al Kooper and Stephen Stills. Buddy Miles was the first to tell me about Jimi Hendrix giving Stephen Stills guitar lessons.
As it turned out it was indeed one of my favorites, The Jeff Beck Group. Jeff Beck was backed by Max Middleton on Keyboards, Cozy Powell on Drums, Clive Chapman on Bass and Bob Tench on vocals. The same line up that was on the “Rough and Ready” album. Three of them later became members of Hummingbird. I couldn’t believe how much Beck and Powell looked alike. It was hard to tell them apart until one of them picked up the guitar. What they were recording turned out to be “The Jeff Beck Group” aka “The Orange Album” that included a song Cropper co-wrote with Beck called “Sugar Cane” and that Don Nix song I mentioned earlier “Going Down.”