By: LINDSAY CESSNA
It all started with a dream, and now Joe Jammer is in Yuma, performing his rockabilly-style music.
"This is a project I put together two years ago," Jammer said. "I had a big dream that the hillbilly gods and goddesses came to me in the form of children. I had the feeling I was watching the land be destroyed by progress. They handed me a guitar and said, 'Don't let our music be forgotten.'"
"I woke up in a cold sweat like James Brown, went to the store and bought a bunch of rockabilly albums," he said.
Jammer decided to compile the songs of musicians such as Hank Williams and Carl Perkins Jr. into an album and take it on the road with him. His wife, Natalie Wright, also joined him on what he calls a "rediscovery of America," playing the baritone sax while Jammer plays the guitar and sings.
"It was originally going to be a one man show, but I added the baritone sax," he said. "With a horn you can simulate the train. That's where this music started -- with railroads. By adding Natalie, she became the train whistle."
The Joe Jammer Duo will be performing from 9 to 10 p.m. every Saturday night at the Maveric Inn, 1460 S. 4th Ave., until April 1.
Jammer originally came to Yuma to visit his brother, J.J. Wright, a U.S. Marine, and to help him prepair to move.
"I've been to Yuma four time before to visit but never had the chance to do any gigs," he said.
In April, Jammer and his wife will be moving to Los Angeles for business. However, Jammer said he'd like to live in Yuma permanently and commute to L.A.
Music has been part of Jammer's life since he was about 9 years old. That was when he started guitar lessons. He played his first gig at 12 and went professional at 16.
"My teacher kicked me out of lessons and said I needed to get on the street and play for people," Jammer said.
In 1967, after hanging around backstage at a Jimmy Hendrix concert, Jammer managed to get on the bandwagon as a roadie for Hendrix. Then he became a roadie for The Who in 1968 and a rodie for Led Zeppelin in 1969.
With Led Zeppelin, Jammer, formerly known as Joseph Wright, got to go all over England.
"I had to go to England with Led Zepplin to discover American blues, rock 'n' roll and country," Jammer said.
Jammer not only learned alot about music by going on the road with the band, but that is also how his name became Jammer.
"Jimmy Page gave me the name Joe Jammer, originally as an insult," Jammer said. "I was always off jamming when Jimmy was looking fo me, he'd say, 'Where's the Jammer? He's off jamming when he should be here.'"
Jammer said he always dreamed of being a musician, especially after being a roadie for the prominent bands.
"The one thing that made me want to be a professional musician -- I saw a Beatles concert in 1956," Jammer said. "There were thousands of girls and me. I loved it. I said, 'I want to be up there.'"
Jammer has played his music whenever he could, from playing guitar as a guest artist on 150 different albums to shaking a small, off-the-beaten-path bar in Yuma.
Jammer and his wife also have compiled an album called "Rock@Billy.Blues/Duo," which can be purchased at his local shows or online at sopromusic.com. This album is Jammer's first solo album since 1973, when he recorded "Bad News."
"I'm happy to be home right here," Jammer said. "I just wanted to find good people."
There is no cover charge for Jammer's shows, and he encourages everyone to come and have a good time dancing or relaxing to his upbeat music.
"Every Saturday gets better and better, if not wilder and wilder," he said.
"RE-DISCOVERY OF AMERICA"
To the untrained eye Chicago born musician Joe Jammer may seem to have disappeared in the recent past. Nevertheless, to those in the know who know where to look, Joe Jammer has been very visible and still very much alive and well.
Joe Jammer's upcoming return to the US, his personally and aptly titled "Re-Discovery Of America" (Joe's passion for the late Salvador Dali's universal art is evident in this self-imposed title), will surely be another chapter in the continuing saga of his career in music. This Chicago born musician who has been living in Montreal, Canada for the past fourteen years is now in the planning stages of his latest project. Joe's immediate plans have already been put into rapid action. Recently Joe returned to the US by way of an excursion to Cleveland, Ohio. Traveling to the 1997 Major League Baseball All-Star game July 8, 1997 with Major League Baseball Star, Pitcher, Jeff Juden (then at the time with the Montreal Expos now playing for the Cleveland Indians) to perform, play guitar and entertain all those attending at the All-Star gala on the Monday night before the All-Star Game on Tuesday. Joe performed at the All-Star gala along with Jeff Juden, guitar (Cleveland Indians); Mike Bielecki, drums (Atlanta Braves); Mark Langston, guitar (Anaheim Angels); Paul O'Neill, drums (New York Yankees); and Bernie Williams, guitar (New York Yankees). The recent article in Sports Illustrated magazine dated July 12, 1997 gave national attention to this unheralded performance.
During the Joe Jammer and Jeff Juden part of the show which TV's Jeff Foxworthy introduced while music legend Joe Walsh of the Eagles, TV's Drew Carey and Major League Baseball's "creme de la creme" looked on in amazement, Joe and Jeff performed the first live performance of a song written by Jeff called "Anything You Wanna Be." Joe Jammer then performed a rocking version of "Johnny B. Goode" with Bernie Williams and a stellar rhythm section from Nashville. The show came to a rollicking conclusion with all the musicians joining in on a resounding version of "Sweet Home Chicago" aptly changed for the occasion to "Sweet Home Cleveland." Joe's grand slammin' jammin', his curve ball mentality and musical chemistry with Jeff was as smooth as Jeff's Major League, 90 mile an hour fast ball delivery. This performance was setting the stage for the beginning of Joe Jammer's "Re-Discovery of America."
Joe and Jeff recently met each other when the big right handed pitcher was claimed on waivers by the Montreal Expos from the San Francisco Giants last summer. Joe has been in the employment of the Montreal Expos for the last fourteen years. Working on the ground crew at Olympic Stadium, Joe's charismatic personality and musical exploits have made him well known to many, many Major League Baseball players and management during this time. Once Joe and Jeff met, their music became the talk of the town in Montreal. After a Montreal TV station got wind of the fact that Joe and Jeff were making music together and made note of it on National Canadian TV, the Montreal Expos front office decided to use this music talent for promotional and musical entertainment during Sunday afternoon home games at Olympic Stadium. The show lines up with the "Jim Zeller Blues Band" featuring Jim Zeller, the charismatic harmonica player of Montreal along with Joe Jammer on guitar, Paul Grondin on Bass and drummer Stan "The Man" Degire performing on the Labatt 50 Entertainment Court stage inside the main gate of Olympic Stadium for a show before the ball games. After the ball game, Jeff Juden, to the total amazement and delight of the crowd, joins Joe, Jim, Paul and Stan on stage live and rocks away on his guitar with the band. It has been a major league hit with the fans of the Montreal Expos there to witness these performances on Sunday afternoons.
Joe Jammer's musical exploits in Canada have not been limited to performing engagements playing for baseball fans at Olympic Stadium. During his stay in Canada Joe has become one of the most visible and highly recognized musicians in Quebec Province. Performing throughout the Province with the well known "Jim Zeller Blues Band" Joe has gained a popularity and fan base that rivals any of Canada's popular music performers.
His first major hit in Montreal was reached when he co-wrote the National Hockey League's legendary Montreal Canadians' theme song "Bleu, Blanc, Rouge" with famed Canadian composer Jean Robitaille which was played during all of the Canadians' home games at the old Montreal Forum for nine seasons from 1983-1991. Joe Jammer's legacy lives on at the new Molson Center with his picture on every menu at the "Ovation Restaurant" inside the Molson Center and his photo is also in the "Official History Book of the Montreal Forum"; once as a performer and once as the President of the "Electric Fans" cheering the Canadians on to victory. With this liftoff point Joe's band "The Kissing Bandits" became a major hit in the Province. With supporters hailing the "big Anglo guitarist" from Chicago, Joe's notoriety and popularity steadily rose to the top of the bill show after show.
With this rise in his popularity he was chosen to represent Laurentide Beer for a series of TV commercials and was hired to do live performances and studio session work for many of Canada's top Francophone artists including Robert Charlebois, Diane Dufresne and Marie Carmen. While working for the Montreal Expos, scheduling his music around his work with the ground crew, Joe wrote the theme song for the Expos called "Let's Go Expos(On To Victory)" which was well received by Expos' owner and president Claude Brochu. "Let's Go Expos(On To Victory)" has become the rallying cry for Expos' fans and this theme song is played during every Expos home game at Olympic Stadium since the 25th Anniversary Season of 1994.
During the last two years after working for the Expos for fourteen years, with his desire to return to full time music, Joe has been performing nonstop four to seven days a week with the well known and well respected "Jim Zeller Blues Band." Touring the Province from Montreal to Sherbrooke, from Drummondville to Trois Rivières, from St. Agathe des Monts and "The Golden Valley" of Val D'or to Quebec City, Joe Jammer and Jim Zeller have, with reckless abandon, shredded the likes of every bar, club and festival with their hard driving rock and blues music. Performing on the main stage of the "St. Jean Baptist National Festival" in Quebec City to the delight of 80,000 rocking and rolling Quebecers, this performance electrified the Province. Joe has also performed at the world renowned Montreal Jazz Festival for the last nine years.
Joe Jammer's musical exploits don't end here either. Known for his world travels during the 60's and 70's Joe worked as a roadie for "Jimi Hendrix", "The Who", the guitar master "Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin," and as a guitarist and performer for a two year world tour with the famous French rock star "Julien Clerc". Joe was an integral part as guitarist, songwriter and performer for seven albums and ten hit singles with the fabled "Olympic Runners" of England as well as guitarist and performer for England's "Maggie Bell" opening for "Bad Company's" world tour of 1975.
Joe's world traveling jaunts are still the trademark of this remarkable musician. Joe continues to perform on his regular trips back home to Chicago year after year promoted and directed by Joe's Chicago based management company Sopro, Inc. Joe has also been performing once a year on the famed resort Mexican Island of Isla Mujeres. Performing with Jim Zeller has also taken Joe to the Dominican Republic and Jamaica as well as a recent jaunt to Morocco, North Africa. As his friend, famed baseball announcer Harry Carey would say, "Holy Cow! Doesn't this guy's feet ever touch the ground?" Well we certainly hope not. Not now as Joe embarks on his most aggressive promotional campaign and as his new performance itinerary unfolds.
Joe Jammer's immediate plans have him working on a solo album project with Jeff Juden. Joe's "Re-Discovery Of America" has him returning to his original home in Chicago to perform on the Chicago music circuit with a Chicago based band. Joe then plans on moving to Los Angeles to further his solo recording and video career. With major record company interest recently garnered he plans on recording his own newly written material with hopes of a national recording contract to gain American fame and fortune.
But Joe won't be stopping there. Plans are also in the works for him to spend time in Yuma and Sedona, Arizona performing his one-man rockabilly/blues. His travels will then take him south of the border once again back to perform in Isla Mujeres for a month of Sundays entertaining his cult following on the world famous "Island Of Women."
Joe Jammer's world travels and career have also been highlighted by his Internationally listed Internet Web Site which includes photos, bios and music samples of his past studio recordings. Joe's Web Site has become very popular garnishing many "hits" on a weekly basis and can be accessed at the following Internet Web Site address: www.sopromusic.com
If you haven't knowledge of Joe Jammer or are a fan of his this WebSite is very entertaining and informational on the career of the world traveled Joe Jammer............. The Adventure Continues!!!!
go!Times Media Co
Joe Jammer -- the greatest rock star you don't know
September 27, 2008 12:00 am •
Chicago rock legend Joe Jammer will celebrate his birthday tonight by doing what he loves doing best, playing his guitar and cranking up his amp. For those unfamiliar with the iconic Jammer, let me educate you.
The Joe Jammer story began in the late 1960s, when an aspiring young Chicago guitarist named Joe Wright began working as a roadie for the likes of Jimi Hendrix and The Who.
Those gigs led to his working on Led Zeppelin's crew, during which Wright's fledgling career caught a lucky break. Wright and Zep's Jimmy Page struck up a friendship, resulting in the Midwest-born string-bender getting to jam on stage with Zeppelin at some early U.S. gigs.
Performing as "Joe Jammer," Wright eventually was brought to England by Zep's manager, Peter Grant, who hooked the young American axe man up with renowned British producer Mickey Most.
The Joe Jammer Band recorded some songs and opened for Zeppelin, including the prestigious Festival Of Bath in June 1970.
Jammer later went on to play guitar for European rockers Maggie Bell, who were the opening act on Bad Company's 1975 world tour. Around this time, Jammer also dated Elyssa Jerret, who later was stolen away by Aerosmith's Joe Perry (well-documented in Stephen Davis' best-selling Aerosmith biography, "Walk This Way").
Albums were made, tours were done and Jammer did lots of elbow-rubbing and jamming with major rock stars of the day, including Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton.
After a wild decade in the U.K., Jammer relocated during the 1980s and 1990s to Montreal, Canada, where he maintained a busy recording/performing career that included writing and recording both the Montreal Canadians theme song, "Le Bleu, Blanc, Roughe," and a tribute song to the Montreal Expos titled, "Let's Go Expos!"
Twice featured in "Sports Illustrated Magazine," Jammer proudly served as the "Jam Master" band leader at the MLB All Star Game Owners Gala in Cleveland in 1997, where his band included the musically talented MLB players -- Mike Bialecki (Cubs) on drums, Paul O'Neil (Yankees) on drums, Bernie Williams (Yankees) on guitar, Jeff Juden (Expos) on guitar and Mark Langston (Angels) on guitar.
Since returning to Chicago in the late 1990s, Jammer has been active in area clubs and recording studios. A couple of years ago, he revisited familiar territory by writing "The White Sox Victory Song," which gets radio play during baseball season.
Though Joe Jammer never attained the fame and fortune of many his early European cohorts, a typical show these days finds him with his guitar in hand, ripping through a blend of classic cover songs (many with great stories attached) and his own original songs.
Joe Jammer may have missed grabbing the brass ring back in the day, but he is a golden musical treasure that every regional rocker should seek out.
He's talented, entertaining and full of great rock 'n' roll war stories of the road.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joe Jammer Jeff Juden
Montreal Expos Ground Crew in Action
ALT.MUSIC - LED ZEPPELIN
In the Chicago area we have a local guitar legend named Joe Jammer who
for someone who has never made the "big time" is probably the most
amazing guitarist I've ever witnessed (for 20+ years now).
His connnection to Led Zeppelin? He used to be Jimmy Page's guitar
tech, hired in the middle of one of their 1969 tours.
He was a house roadie at the Kinetic Circus here and got to meet the Who
and Jimi Hendrix among others. When Zeppelin first came to Chicago,
Pagey, Bonzo, and Robert heard Joe jamming (sorry for the ridiculous
pun) on his guitar during some downtime and the three walked over to
check out who was playing. Joe recalled that they began bidding among
themselves for his guitar without even asking if it was for sale. Joe
wouldn't sell. Jimmy was impressed (and sympathized?) with one man's
love for a guitar and asked him to be his tech.
I used to think his stories were bull/fantasies. But in the years
since I come to learn they are not. I once saw an interview with
Jimmy and he mentioned him. He's in Cole's "Stairway To Heaven" book (I
think a photo), but is discussed more in detail in Aerosmith's "Walk
This Way" book (they write that he stood in for Joe Perry once during a
practice session?) when Brad Whitford first joined the band and
Jammer blew Whitford off the stage (this was before Aerosmith got huge).
Joe since then has played with a lot of people, including Maggie Bell
and the Pretty Things (Swan Song acts?), Roger Glover of Deep Purple,
plus others I can't remember. He's written and performed the Montreal
Canadian's hockey team's theme song (OK, not Zep related but what the
He plays a killer version of White Summer/Black Mt. Side, along with
rock, funk, and the blues.
One hell of a guitarist.
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