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Music – 1981 – Journey Live Tour With Albert King + Pinetop Perkins + Luther Allison + Jerry Portnoy


Sometimes this lil ole chiweenie Sportsphile just likes to take a slow walk down memory lane….and watching this video of Journey Live in Concert during their 1981 tour….has brought back so many memories of Bone Daddy at his bar on 6th Street in Austin in 1981….and how often he spoke of going a block down the street to hear the greatest blues players to ever grace a stage….as Albert King, Pinetop Perkins, Luther Allison and Jerry Pornoy were some of the musicians that he talked about….and here I am posting this video as those four blues masters played with Journey during this video taped stop on their tour.  So, I am going to tell a little bit of the story of all the folks on the stage in this video…..as each of them deserve their place in history….that is too soon being forgotten.  

Journey is an American rock band that formed in San Francisco in 1973….which was composed of former members of Santana and Frumious Bandersnatch….as the band has gone through more than several phases over the 45 years of performing from 1973 to the present in 2018….with its strongest commercial success occurring between 1978 and 1987….when during that period, the band released a series of hit songs including “Don’t Stop Believin'” (1981)…..which became the top-selling track on iTunes in history among songs not released in the 21st century.  Journey released Its parent studio album, Escape, the band’s 8th and most successful….reached # 1 on the Billboard 200….and yielded another of their most popular singles, “Open Arms”…..while Its 1983 follow-up album, Frontiers, was almost as successful in the United States by reaching # 2 and spawning several successful singles….which broadened the band’s appeal in the United Kingdom….where it reached # 6 on the UK Albums Chart.  Journey enjoyed a successful reunion in the mid-1990s and later regrouped with a series of lead singers.

Journey sales have resulted in two gold albums….eight multi-platinum albums….and two diamond albums ….which includes seven consecutive multi-platinum albums between 1978 and 1987. They have had eighteen Top 40 singles in the U.S…..which is the second most without a Billboard Hot 100 # 1 singles behind Electric Light Orchestra with 20….of which six reached the Top 10 of the US chart….while two of which reached # 1 on other Billboard charts…and according to the Recording Industry Association of America….Journey has sold 48 million albums in the U.S…..which makes them the 25th best-selling band ….while their worldwide sales have reached over 75 million records, making them one of the world’s best-selling bands of all time.

Joe Willie Pinetop Perkins is near and dear to Bone Daddy….as he performed on many occasions just down the block from his sports bar on Austin’s world famous 6th Street at Antoine’s Nightclub….as Joe Willie was an American blues pianist…..who played with some of the most influential blues and rock-and-roll performers of his time….while receiving numerous honors….including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and induction into the Blues Hall of Fame….as Pinetop was born in Belzoni, Mississippi….while being raised on a plantation in Honey Island, Mississippi….who began his career as a guitarist but an injury to the tendons in his left arm in a knife fight with a chorus girl led to a switch to  the piano.  In the 1950’s, Perkins joined Earl Hooker and began touring with his band….when thereafter he recorded “Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie” at Sam Phillips’s Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee. The tune was written by Pinetop Smith, who created the original recording in 1928….as Perkins recalled, “They used to call me ‘Pinetop’ because I played that song”.

Perkins replaced Otis Spann in the Muddy Waters band in 1969….after which ten years later he left the band and formed the Legendary Blues Band with Willie “Big Eyes” Smith….with whom he recorded from the late 1970’s to the early 1990’s….when he was sideman on countless recordings but never had an album devoted solely to his artistry….that is until After Hours was released by Blind Pig Records in 1988. 

Pinetop Perkins lived in Austin, Texas. He usually performed a couple of nights a week at Antoine’s Momo’s, on Sixth Street.  The song “Hey Mr. Pinetop Perkins”….which is performed by Perkins and Angela Strehli (another Austin music icon) played on the common misconception that he wrote “Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie”:

Hey Mr. Pinetop Perkins                                                                                                                                            I got a question for you                                                                                                                                              How’d you write that first boogie woogie                                                                                                          The one they named after you

On March 21, 2011, at the age of 98….Pinetop Perkins died at his home in Austin, Texas. At the time of his death, he had more than 20 performances booked for 2011. Shortly before he died, while discussing his late career resurgence with an interviewer, he conceded, “I can’t play piano like I used to either. I used to have bass rolling like thunder. I can’t do that no more. But I ask the Lord, please forgive me for the stuff I done trying to make a nickel.”….as he and David “Honeyboy” Edwards were the last surviving original Delta blues musicians….while Perkins was also one of the last surviving bluesmen to have known Robert Johnson.

Albert King was an American blues guitarist and singer whose playing influenced many other blues guitarists. He is perhaps best known for the popular and influential album Born Under a Bad Sign (1967) and the title track. He was known as “The Velvet Bulldozer”….partly because of his smooth singing and large size….as he stood 6 ft 5 in and weighed 250 lb….but also because he drove a bulldozer in one of his day jobs early in his career.  In 2011, he was ranked number 13 on Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time…..who began his professional work as a musician with a group called the Groove Boys in Osceola, Arkansas….after which he briefly played drums for Jimmy Reed’s band and on several of Reed’s early recordings. He was influenced by the blues musicians Blind Lemon Jefferson and Lonnie Johnson….and the electric guitar became his signature instrument….with his preference being a Gibson Flying V which he named Lucy….as seen in this video herewith…..as his smooth vocal style was influenced by R&B pop balladeers like the Mills Brothers.  Albert King was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in May 2013. As was the case with Pinetop Perkins, our Bone Daddy, the original Sportsphile….saw him perform many times on 6th Street during the 1970’s and 1980’s.

Luther Allison was an American blues guitarist….who taught himself guitar and began listening to blues extensively….when three years later he began hanging around outside blues nightclubs with the hopes of being invited to perform at one Chicago’s blues nightclubs…..when one night, the Howlin’ Wolf band called him up to play with them….which led to him backing up James Cotton….and becoming and integral part of the band    Allison was known for his powerful concert performances….with lengthy soulful guitar solos and crowd walking with his Gibson Les Paul….as Luther then signed with Rumble Records and released two live recordings….“Gonna Be a Live One in Here Tonight” with producer by Bill Knight….and “Power Wire Blues” with producer by George Faber and Jeffrey P. Hess.  Allison played the bar circuit in the United States during this period and spent eight months of the year in Europe at high-profile venues….which included the Montreux Jazz Festival.  In 1992, he performed with the French rock and roll star Johnny Hallyday in 18 shows in Paris….while also playing during the intermission.

Jerry Portnoy is an American harmonica blues musician….who has toured with Muddy Waters and Eric Clapton on a regular basis throughout his career.  Portnoy has performed in twenty-eight foreign countries on six continents….including performances at the White House, Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall, the Smithsonian, the Newport Jazz Festival and other major jazz and blues festivals worldwide. He was a Grammy Award nominee in 1996 for his work with the Muddy Waters Tribute Band on their recording You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Dead and Gone….and released an instructional package, Jerry Portnoy’s Blues Harmonica Masterclass, in 1997….and in 2001, he released his 2nd solo album, Down in the Mood Room.  Known for his dark, amplified tone, he has long been a favorite of both critics and peers…..as The New York Times(1987) said, “Mr. Portnoy crests like an alto saxophone.”….and Down Beat Magazine (2002) said, “Portnoy has few equals as a harmonica player, blues or otherwise.”  

Any way you cut the pie….this video is “pure gold” in our treasure chest of vintage memories here at ImaSportsphile….as the music is “classic top shelf”….especially when they play the blues.

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