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STEVE WALWYN - INTERVIEWS
Huxley's Jr, Berlin/Germany - Oct 22, 1996
DOWN BY THE JETTY BLUES
Interview by Clive Product
Steve: "During the recording of 'The Feelgood Factor', that's when we found out that Lee was actually very seriously ill. During the second week of the recording sessions he went across to London to see a specialist and he found out then he'd got cancer."
He didn´t know before?
Steve: "Well, he had an idea, but he didn't actually know for sure. But he went to see the doctor and.... but he never told us. He never told us about it 'cause he didn't want to spoil the recording sessions. But we all had an idea, you know, but... But as a person he was first and foremost an absolute gentleman. A real gentleman. He was generous, kind, on stage he was very professional, always gave IOO%. That's one of the best things I learnt from him, as a musician, that...For example, tonight - there was not... it wasn't full tonight, but, you know. It didn't matter how many people he was playing to - whether it was 5O,000 or 5O - he'd always do the same show. Always gave his best. Great singer!"
Have you any particular memories of Lee that stand out?
Steve: "Well, so many, of course. One of my favourite memories is that we used to play a blues. Well, two blues - 'Down By The Jetty Blues', as we played tonight, but previous to that we did one called 'Shotgun Blues'. And in the solo of that, the guitar solo would start really quiet, then sort of build up. The next 12 bars would be a bit louder, and the next 12 bars would be a bit louder, and then I'd get to a point where I'm thinking "Well, that's the loudest it can get, and I can't play any better than this." And then he'd make me do one more! And I think - oh fuck, you know - what do I do? A nice memory; he always used to do it on me. He'd say "'Go on do another one." (laughs). He was a good man. I miss him."
Was it a hard decision to say 'Come on, let' s continue with Dr Feelgood' ?
Steve: "Well, we stopped. We stopped for two years. When Lee died we said 'that's it. Finished!' But, so many people... we have like, not a fan club, but an information service, and so many of our hard core fans were saying 'Well, you should carry on.' And it was Lee' s wish that we should do so. Before he died he said "If anything happens to me, find somebody else and carry on.' But at the time it didn't feel right. After two years... we talked about it and then we said if we find the right man, then we'll start again. And we tried quite a few people, but then Pete came along and it all fell into place."
Like I was saying to Pete earlier, the spirit of the old Dr Feelgood is very much there.
Steve: "That's exactly the point. We've got a settled line-up now. I mean, I think that this kind of music, it comes and goes, like the blues. We're not pure blues really, we're sort of, you know, rock´n´roll/rhythm´n´blues. But it's always there. And there's always a market for a good live band with this sort of music I think. But we're in a re-building process at the moment. We've been going for about a year and a half. Tonight wasn't so full but we had a great gig. We had a night off yesterday. The night before we had a really good gig in Hamburg. So, we're re-building. When Lee was in the band we were at a certain level and were doing quite well. But now it's at a lower level but we're trying to get back to where we were, you know."
It must be tough in a way, 'cause from the public point of view Lee's gone.
he was the main man.
But that spirit... Lee's gone but... in a way he's still there, yeah. Of course he is, yeah. It's weird on stage though, for me, because Pete has some similar manners to Lee, although he never saw him live, you know. Sometimes I look across and think... I have to look twice! A double-take, you know. But he has a difficult job. He has a difficult pair of shoes to fill. But he's doing very well."
article first appeared in "'BIG UNTIDY" Issue 11. Permission
to reproduce kindly given by editor Barry O' Brien via John Butterfield.)
(Source: Dr Feelgood Newsletter Feelin' Good Issue 10/January 1998)
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ON THE COUCH WITH STEVE WALWYN - 2002
Ian Fawkes invites Dr Feelgood guitarist Steve Walwyn for a private consultation.
Ian: Steve, you joined the band in 1989, which must have been a proud time for you, but was there a particular moment or gig when you thought "Blimey, this is a great band"?
Steve: Yes, I joined Dr.Feelgood in 1989, but I had known the band members personally for some years before that, having played on the same bill at various gigs (with the DTs) and Steve Marriott. I'd also been a fan of Dr.Feelgood right from the first album (a friend of mine at the time came to my house with the record - I can still hear him saying "You've got to listen to this!"). I can't think of any particular moment or gig when I thought "This is a great band" - I knew that already! Of course, it was a very proud moment when I was asked to join the band - I can remember the first rehearsal as if it was only yesterday (if pressed I could probably tell you the songs we played, too! If my memory serves me well the first one was "Homework").
Ian: What are your views on people who make comments like "Yes it's Dr. Feelgood but there are no original members".
Steve: There is no argument with the fact that the current band contains no original members. Hmm. Maybe it's worth remembering that three of the original members left the band over twenty years ago (one of them twenty-five years ago!) and the fourth original member has another reason for not being with us: If he were still alive I'm sure that he would be treading the boards with us! I also think that for a band with such a long history it is almost inevitable (maybe even necessary) that there be changes in personnel from time to time. Surely the fact that two people in the current band have been members for twenty years counts for something!
Ian: You must be well used to playing and being on the road but apart from the gig itself how do you like to fill in the spare time that must often crop up?
Steve: Spare time on the road? When we do get some (which is actually not that often) I usually do one of two things: If we are in an interesting town or city (maybe somewhere I haven't been before) I will try to make time to become a tourist - see the sights, visit a cathedral, art gallery, museum or whatever the particular place has to offer or... I am a keen cyclist - sometimes I will rent a bike and disappear for a few hours (or visit a local gym - would you believe?) - I find that this is a good antidote to the stress of the touring lifestyle! (I know it's not really rock 'n' roll!). For example, I recently cycled from Paris to Boulogne during a two - day break between gigs: the people in the Boulogne club were astonished when I turned up on my bike, having cycled over 300 miles!
Ian: By now you must have played thousands of gigs with the Feelgoods, and this will be a hard one, are there any that stand out as being the best? Worst? Funniest or most unusual?
Steve: This is a hard one to answer! Best gig? There have been too many to pick out just one, but I will never forget the night at London's Town and Country club (immortalised on CD "Live in London" which was my second actual gig with Dr. Feelgood) - Lee was more nervous than I was - and I was stone cold sober! Another one was playing to fifty-five thousand bikers in Berlin! Worst gig? Again, a few spring to mind - Avignon, maybe 1991. It was actually a fantastic gig but we were trapped in a dressing room with a packed crowd in the club baying for (after several encores) more (we really thought that they would riot) and the only way out was back through the audience - one of the only times that I have felt physically threatened or frightened… Funniest or most unusual? Somewhere in Holland - the stage was in the middle of a lake, and the audience came out to the stage in rowing boats (maybe 6 - 8 people per boat) to see the gig. - Or Spain (Mondragon? Where the stage was split into two by a wall that ran to the back of the club, so that the audience was also split into two… I remember Lee singing the verse to one half of the crowd and the chorus to the other half… it was a great gig but also very funny…
Ian: What do you think Lee would have thought of the new technology, Gabi's Feelgood website etc. and would he have vacated his place at the bar to dabble on the Internet?
Steve: I think that Lee would honestly have approved of today's technology - Internet, website etc. so long as he did not have to operate it - I know that he wouldn't mind me saying that he used to admit to not being able to set his video to record something! Would he have vacated his place at the bar to dabble on the Internet? Certainly not!!!
Ian: Robert has slotted in well to the "feel" of the band and so where do you see the Feelgoods going musically in the future and is there anything you would like to do away from the band?
Steve: Where do I see the Feelgoods going musically? Well, I don't ever see us breaking any new ground - that is just not what Dr. Feelgood is about. However, I see us continuing the Feelgood tradition, working live as always, and thinking about the next recording project. Away from the band I would like to do a solo album…I have some songs written which are not Feelgood material and perhaps they will see the light of day sometime…
Dr Feelgood Newsletter Feelin' Good Issue 29/October
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