INTERVIEW: Bobby Whitlock

In 2012 I had the great privilege of interviewing a hero of mine, Mr Bobby Whitlock. At the time I was doing my university dissertation and for a part of that I interviewed a number of blues musicians. The topic of conversation was the blues and it’s influence on Bobby as a person, writer and musician. I thank Bobby for taking the time to chat with me.

How influential has the blues been on your career?

Rhythm and blues is the category¬†I am familiar with and what I grew up listening to and performing. Not just the blues. The blues on its own is the same old song sung by different voices. R&B is what STAX, Chess, Hi and Atlantic Records¬†were all about. I was the first white artist to be signed to STAX’s HIP label. They wanted to get in on the British invasion and thought that I was their key to it. Of course they were wrong. I still draw on Sam & Dave and Otis Redding from time to time. As a matter of fact the way Eric and I sang together was a direct rip of the way Sam and Dave sang together. Eric and I sang our songs with the same call and response that Sam and Dave did. We were the white rock ‘n’ roll Sam and Dave.

What equipment do you use and was your decision to use it influenced by another artist or what you heard on a record?

I use a Hammond B3 organ and one Leslie cabinet. The organ that I learned to play on is sitting in my front room right now. My organ playing influences were Booker T Jones and the two Jimmys, Smith and McGriff.

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