Classic Rock Corner: Mudcrutch, Golliwogs, Mynah Birds, Moving Sidewalks and More
This week Reprise Records released the self-titled debut by Mudcrutch, the Gainesville, Florida swamp-rockers formed in the early 1970s by Tom Petty and future fellow Heartbreakers Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench. Petty has been playing tracks from the album, like a trippy cover of the Byrds' "Lover of the Bayou," for several weeks on his XM Radio show Buried Treasure, which airs all day today on XMX channel 2.
Better late than never, right? In the spirit of Mudcrutch, here are some other classic-rock heavyweights' warmup bands.
The Beatles - John, Paul and George all got to know each other in the Quarrymen, the Liverpudlian schoolboy band Elvis-crazed John started in the late '50s. Only Ringo, who came aboard at the relatively late date of 1962, was always a Beatle.
Jimmy Page - Broke into Britain's touring ranks with Neil Christian & the Crusaders before an illness indirectly led to his signing on with the Yardbirds, also the future incubator of Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck. You know the rest...
John Fogerty - Pre-CCR, the 2008 RodeoHouston and ACL festival headliner formed the Golliwogs with brother Tom in the late '50s. Despite releasing several 45s, their career was, to coin a phrase, stillborn on the bayou.
Grateful Dead - Before embarking upon their generation-defining long, strange trip, Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir and late keyboardist Ron "Pigpen" McKernan first played together as Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions. Taking on Phil Lesh and drummer Bob Kreutzmann, they enchanted Bay Area audiences as the Warlocks before that final, fateful name change.
The Who - In the early 1960s, high-school pals Pete Townshend and John Entwistle joined London R&B outfit the Detours, whose other members included a sheet-metal worker with a fearsome vocal talent named Roger Daltrey.
Neil Young - Before Buffalo Springfield, CSN & Y and Crazy Horse, Shakey toiled north of the border in Winnipeg's Esquires and Toronto's Mynah Birds, where one of his bandmates was - believe it or not - Rick James, bitch.
Eagles - The countrified L.A. coke-rockers' origins are literally all over the map: Nebraskan Randy Meisner was in the Soul Survivors and a co-founder of soft-rock stalwarts Poco before joining Rick Nelson's Stone Canyon Band; Minneapolitan Bernie Leadon's resume included Hearts and Flowers, Dillard & Clark and the Flying Burrito Brothers; Don Henley moved to L.A. with fellow East Texans Shiloh, who lasted all of one album; and Motor City native Glenn Frey once backed Bob Seger and played in Longbranch Pennywhistle. The quartet first played together in Linda Ronstadt's touring band before striking out on their own, and were eventually joined by Joe Walsh, originally of Cleveland "Funk #49" jammers the James Gang.
Fleetwood Mac - The Mac attack managed to be a few distinct bands without ever changing their name. The group began as Mick Fleetwood and John McVie's psychedelic British blues band with guitarists Peter Green (author of "Black Magic Woman") and Jeremy Spencer. Mental illness claimed those two, but John's wife Christine signed on soon after and started the group down the path to soft-rock superstardom. That fate that was sealed with the arrival of Californians Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, who had recently recorded an album as imaginatively titled duo Buckingham/Nicks.
ZZ Top - In the late '60s, if for some reason you don't know, Billy F. Gibbons cut his blues-rocking teeth in Houston Thirteenth Floor Elevators disciples the Moving Sidewalks, while Dusty Hill and Frank Beard joined after serving time in several Dallas-area bands, including American Blues, the Cellar Dwellers (named for a string of Texas nightclubs) and version of the Warlocks completely unrelated to the Grateful Dead.
AC/DC - Australian guitarist Malcolm Young started the seminal hard rockers after his previous band, the Velvet Underground - no shit - fell apart. Young recruited his 15-year-old brother Angus, who on his sister's advice wore his school uniform onstage and never took it off. Drummer Phil Rudd came over from the excellently named Coloured Balls, while singer Bon Scott - originally AC/DC's driver and a veteran of Aussie prog-rockers Fraternity and the Valentines - joined when original vocalist Dave Evans (also the given name of U2 guitarist the Edge) couldn't get over his stage fright. Brian Johnson, who joined after Scott's February 1980 death, previously sang in UK glam-rockers Geordie - and his church choir.
Black Sabbath - Before the Birmingham quartet forged the template for heavy metal with "Iron Man" and "War Pigs," they had jazzier aspirations as Polka Tulk and called themselves Earth for a while until bassist Geezer Butler happened across a certain phrase in a novel by UK supernatural scholar Dennis Wheatley. Guess what it was? - Chris Gray
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