As a lead up to the Forever Young gig, featuring Charlie Karp & Rafe Klein, at the Cobb’s Mill Inn on the 12th, I had a sit down with Karp, over the phone, Easter Morning.
Karp has a long history in the music business as a guitar player and composer going back to 1970 when he joined Buddy Miles’ band. Buddy Miles, of course, had been the drummer and singer for Jimi Hendrix’s 1969 Band of Gypsys.
How did you get to be the guitar player for Buddy Miles?
“I was in the 10th grade at Staples High School, 16 years old, and a friend of mine had an older brother, Eric Burgess, who was the road manager for Buddy Miles.”
“Eric had arranged for Buddy to play at the Staples auditorium but he needed a band. I knew all the songs and was more than happy to oblige. We played that show without a rehearsal.”
“I like that kid,” Buddy said.
“………next thing you know the band was coagulating in Chicago—at Buddy’s hotel.”
You wrote a song for the Them Changes album, how did that go down?
“I went to Chicago to record the album Them Changes but a bone of contention was that I had this ballad– I Still Love You Anyway.”
Buddy said, “You wrote that? We’re gonna record that tomorrow!”
“I signed a contract with his managment, I was underage….. They gave me a deal with Buddy’s publishing company….. I saw a Japanese version of the Them Changes album, you know—I was paid as a writer but years later his deals are changing hands and I’m in the process of getting the rights back.”
At the time I was just glad to have a song on an R&B act with Mercury Records, he was bigger than Rod Stewart….. I was happy to consider myself as a side man, you get a lot of perks!”
“They called me ‘The Ghetto Fish’ even though my name is spelled with a K. When older R&B guys say “ you a bad mutha*ucker” you know you’re doin OK.”
What was your first show after the album was recorded?
“I went out to LA with Buddy. The first gig was at the LA Forum opening for Jimi Hendrix. Actually, the first person I met when I got to LA was Peter Tork from from the Monkeys. The experience being with Buddy–I was at that place, at that time.”
“….in a nutshell I did four albums with him and traveled around the world twice in two years.”
“At 19 years old me and David Hull(bass player) went off on our own. We signed a deal with RCA Records as White Chocolate. Then we signed with Private Stock Records as The Dirty Angels. The producers wanted us to be more ‘New York’, so they came up with that name. Larry Uttal the president of Private Stock Records signed us. Richard Gottehrer, who wrote ‘My Boyfriends Back’ and ‘I want Candy’, was the producer.”
How did you become friends with Steven Tyler?
“An old friend of mine from the 60’s was Steven Tyler, we had the same manager…… Steven called me up at 4 in the morning, “We just kicked Golden Earring off the tour, you want to open up for Aerosmith tomorrow, in El Paso?” that was 79.”
“Before that he would call and we would do two nights at the Boston Gardens, a Friday and a Saturday night (opening for Aerosmith). It was a lot of hard work when it was a last minute thing, you’re not advertised, nobody knows who you are—they give you the finger. You start with your last song first.”
“When I was workin for Buddy, as a sideman, I was actually doin better than he was. It shows you how things can change.”
Have you written songs for other artists?
“I wrote a song with David Hull for the Joe Perry Project called Buzz Buzz. David joined the Joe Perry Project. In fact, David filled in for Tom Hamilton, Aerosmith’s bass player recently. That was a big thing for him.”
“I wrote a Joan Jett song called Too bad On Your Birthday for a guy named Artie Resnick. The band Ram Jam on Epic Records also recorded that song. Artie was the guy who, years earlier, wrote ‘Yummy Yummy I Got Love In My Tummy’.”
Karp’s list of credits since the 70’s is too long to list here but it includes; The Incredible Edible Egg, music for major motion pictures, an Emmy award for television composition and album productions with Danny Kortchmar as Slo Leak.
—see you Friday the 12th at La Roue Elayne at the Cobb’s Mill Inn 9pm.