Saturday, February 17, 2007

And John McEuen Appears Again

Followup to something I wrote in the Ontario Empoblog some time ago - or maybe it was my MySpace blog.

This new article is from

[A]s a 17-year-old in 1962, a Flatt and Scruggs record got [Steve Martin] hooked on the banjo....[A 1999 article] wryly chronicles this phase of Mr. Martin's life: the initial attempt to wrest the yearned-for sounds from a borrowed 4-string; the hand written tablatures and slowed downed LPs; the obsessive repetition of "Cripple Creek"; the influence of other California players like Doug Dillard ("...watching Doug Dillard was like watching God..."), multi-instrumentalist David Lindley, and Martin's high school buddy John McEuen; the youthful taste for speed and volume; the exhilaration of competing at the Topanga Canyon Banjo and Fiddle Contest; the stumbling journey from enthusiastic cluelessness to musical savvy....

The 1970s saw Steve Martin rise to the top of his field through his tours as an opening act for various pop musicians (including the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, which featured his old friend [John] McEuen), as a frequent guest on "Saturday Night Live" and Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show," and as a recording artist. His debut recording, 1977's "Let's Get Small," won a Grammy the following year. Three more followed. The last of them "The Steve Martin Brothers," was released in 1981 and nominated for a Grammy the following year. Only half of it was comedy, however; the entire second side consisted of banjo instrumentals (more than half original tunes) that Martin had recorded ten years earlier.


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