Mick  Lee
 
 

Born in NYC, moved to London as a teenager, kicking and screaming, didn't want to go. Turned out to be a good thing. London was a hotbed of music, where world famous musicians jammed with each other for the adventure and pure pleasure of it. After bumming around Europe and the Middle East playing bars and small clubs, I landed back in London.

A friend introduced me to Graham Bond, one of the three main musical forces behind the rise of R & B, Jazz and Blues in Britain. Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce left Graham Bond's Organization to form Cream with Clapton, and many other young players were also discovered and guided along the road to success by Graham, tho' he himself remained a cult figure throughout his career. This was my first pro gig. Graham was arguably a genius, and a very unusual cat. Everyone who played with him has 'Graham stories'. Dr John in particular has some really good ones. Some of these will show up in the book I'm writing about my adventures in the music business. More on that to come.

Over 20 years living in London, I was fortunate to play with some of the finest musicians of the time. Alexis Korner was another cornerstone of the early blues scene in Britain, instrumental in the formation of Free, and also helping the Stones get going in their early days. Alexis was also a piece of work, a very unusual, talented and lovely man. He became a friend the first time we met.  His son Nikko and I also played together some.

 

Wandering about stoned on the street one day, I met a friend of Chris Wood of Traffic, who invited me over to the house. Chris became a mentor and good friend. His house was a gathering spot for some of the best musicians in the world to jam, and get high. There I met and played with Paul Kossoff of Free, Steve Winwood, Mick Taylor, John Martyn, Mitch Mitchell of Jimi Hendix's Experience, Rick Gretch of Blind Faith, and Lemmy of Motorhead...just to name a few. I got a free musical education at the hands of some of the world's real players, for which I am extremely grateful.

I eventually hooked up with James Litherland of Colosseum and Bandit, forming a primarily acoustic duo we called 'Mick DooWop and Jimmy Rhythms. Jim and I pushed the boundaries of what was being done with acoustic guitars, writing and playing a hybrid of rock, soul, r&b, jazz and funk. Thru Jim I met Dan Mcintosh. Together Dan and I formed 'The Phoenix' writing and recording together for three years, as well as touring as the opening act for the Moody Blues in '84 and '85.

Jim and Danny are among my all-time favorite guitarists, along with Jeff Beck, Clapton, Lowell George, Tommy Emmanuel, Ry Cooder and Rich Taelour.

Thru Jim I also hooked up with Paul Rowan aka Little Matthew, one of the baddest blues harp players alive. Paul and I worked in clubs all over Europe, before landing a tour opening for Alan Price of The Animals. Loved playing with Paul, will again one day, if'n I get lucky. Paul had one of the finest collections of blues and r&b on wax, and turned me on to some very early r&b, stuff like Jackie Moore's 'Precious, Precious' and Sugar Pie Desanto's 'Soulful Dress'...awesome.

In Hampstead, I met Herbie Flowers, who played with everyone from Bowie to The Beatles. He's probably played on more hit records than anyone in history   as a session musician...perhaps best known for playing the Bass on Lou Reed's 'Walk On The Wild Side'. Herbie also took me under his wing, gave me time in his studio, and played bass on some of my recordings. I also played with his son Nickey, a drummer to be reckoned with in his own right.

During this time I was fortunate to meet and befriend Scott English, who's written the lyrics to countless wonderful songs...'Sometimes When We Touch' and 'Mandie' among them. Scott and I wrote many songs together...from Scott I learned a great deal about the importance of imagery and editing. Working with Scott has made me a much better writer.


In between tours in 1984 in NYC, I met April Lang, a very talented and beautiful musician, writer and person, and my daughter Jemma's Godmother. She and I wrote and recorded "Private Hell' and 'The Other Side of Love' together. In NYC  I also hooked up with Scooter Weintaub, then Jack Bruce's manager. I'm deeply grateful to both April and Scooter for their encouragement over the years.


Chas White, Barry Marshall and Lauire Jay all took a stab at managing my career over the years. Scooter Weintraub lent me a hand. But when neither they, Sting, or the Womacks were able to secure a record deal for us despite their best efforts, I became disenchanted, and needed a break from the belly of the beast.


I moved from London to the Findhorn Foundation in Northeast Scotland, and had seven wonderful years in one of the most beautiful places on earth, There I recorded an album with Chris Powers called 'The Moment' which, yet again, the record company involved refused to release. However, Kansas eventually released their version of the title track on their 'Native Window' CD in 2009.

In 1992 I moved to Vermont to be with my daughter Jemma. There I also met some fabulous players. Burlington's Jazz Festival happened the first weekend     I was there, so I went to see Big Joe Burrell and the Unknown Blues Band.     Big  Joe had been in BB King's band, and the guys in the band had all played with some of the finest blues musicians in the world. I got talking with Big Joe between sets, and it turned out we hahed a mutual friend in Jon Hendicks, one of the finest jazz singer/songwriters. Though he'd never heard my music, Big Joe invited me to sit in with band, and so began a fourteen year friendship that lasted until his passing in 2005. Playing with Big Joe and the boys was a pure pleasure.

During my time in Vermont, I was fortunate to hook up and make music with many fine musicians and friends like Ron Rost, Michael Korn, Dave and Matt Nerback, Kip Meaker, Chuck Eller, Paul Asbell, Dave Grippo, Gus Zeissing -   just part of a long list. Didn't enjoy the cold winters tho' so we spent a year in West Texas before moving to Bend OR, which is a fabulous place. Beautiful, and full of talented people. I work in radio, helping other musicians make a living, while playing, writing and keeping an eye open for a publisher. Kansas covered 'The Moment' on their Native Window CD last year, which I took as a huge compliment, 'cos the boys can really play.

The muse has favored me once again here in Bend, where I've hooked up with Rich Taelour, Andy Armer, Warren Zaiger and Georges Bouhey to form the ultimate jam band, 'True Blue'. We almost never rehearse, but still manage to play original music, and twisted covers of songs that very few people play these days. Most gigs, you'll find us doing a song we've never played together before. We (almost always) pull it off, because, like me, the boys have all been around the musical block a hundred times, writing and playing with some of the best, which is what they are. We're in the process of recording our first CD, and you'll find a taste of our music and some video here.

Lately we've been fortunate to have Jeff Ingram and Ken Emerson join us on some gigs, and that's about as much fun as I've ever had onstage.

I feel very lucky to still be able to connect to 'the mysterious place'. Song and lyric ideas still come happenin' out of nowhere, and they're hard to ignore. Unexpected lil' gifts from....