Sometimes who you apperceive can accessible a door, but, afterwards talent, that aperture may bang in your face faster than expected.
Musician Brian Ray, admitting alive 14 years with Etta James in his adolescent years, never dreamed he would become a affiliate of Paul McCartney’s band.
For that matter, he was not absolute aback he was hired.
For the accomplished 13 years, McCartney has toured and recorded with the aforementioned musicians: Ray, alternating amid accent and advance guitars, bass and vocals; Abe Laboriel Jr., drums; Rusty Anderson, advance guitar; and Paul “Wix” Wickens, keyboards.
Ray’s aboriginal actualization with McCartney was at the 2002 Super Bowl. The New England Patriots slipped accomplished the St. Louis Rams that day, 20-17 — which is not what Ray remembers most.
Rather, this was the aboriginal Super Bowl pushed into February, an NFL championship afflicted by the aboriginal agitator attacks on American clay on Sept. 11, 2001.
Ray said, “A lot of bodies balloon that Paul was sitting on the alley at JFK (John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York) that day. Obviously, he would not be activity anywhere. Aback he heard about what happened, he sat bottomward and wrote a song alleged ‘Freedom’
“That’s the song the NFL asked him to sing afore the civic canticle at the Super Bowl. You could acquaint it was actual allusive to him. That was my aboriginal adventitious to ball with him and I bethink actuality so nervous, alike admitting it was aloof one song.”
Ray was ambiguous what to do afterwards until he said goodbye to McCartney, who replied, “Just stick with Abe and Rusty. They’ll appearance you the ropes.”
Before the game, Ray and Laboriel had been in Paris, planning a bout with French recording artists Mylene Farmer and Johnny Hallyday.
Then Laboriel bankrupt the account that he would be touring instead with McCartney.
Ray said, “I asked who was arena bass aback Paul played piano. Abe said Paul was attractive for addition who could alternating amid bass and guitar. I said I would adulation a attempt at that.”
Ray instead had to audience for David Kahne, ambassador of McCartney’s “Driving Rain.”
It was Kahne who assassin Ray to ball alone one song at the game.
McCartney has no audience process, said Ray. Rather, they talked for abutting to an hour afore McCartney said, “OK, I’ll see you in LA.”
But Ray knew he was still beneath the gun.
True, contacts helped him acquisition the stage. His guitar acrimonious would accept to accumulate him there.
Hours later, packing their instruments, Paul looked at Brian, smiled and said, “Welcome aboard.”
After McCartney left, the bagman grinned at Ray and said, “OK, now you can acquaint your your mom and dad.”
“I did aloof that,” said Ray. “I could not delay to acquaint them I’m activity on bout with Paul McCartney.
“Now, though, it’s like a dream, that we are all still together.”
Ray never rushed out to bless his acceptable fortune. It was too early. He recalled, “I rushed aback to LA and headed to the abutting almanac store. I bought every Beatles and Wings album, and anniversary of Paul’s abandoned albums. And I formed at acquirements every song.
“My aboriginal anniversary of rehearsals with the guys, I anticipation I was activity bottomward in flames. But afterwards we accomplished as a bandage for about bristles days, we were acceptable on at atomic 40 songs afore Paul arrived.”
McCartney absolved in, took his abode abaft a microphone and artlessly said, “OK, ‘Magical Mystery Tour,’ hit it.”
“And aggregate went great,” explained Ray.
He tries to explain the band’s longevity.
“I accept to accord all of the acclaim to Paul,” Ray began. “We’ve all appear such a continued way aback our aboriginal tour. We are a abundant bigger band, and accept me, Paul is accomplishing some of his actual best singing.
“I anticipate it additionally speaks to his amount of trust, and the backbone he has with all four of us. I apperceive we accept fabricated mistakes, but Paul is such a loyal guy and a dupe guy.”
McCartney is 72. Ray, not yet 60, said that, like so many, he apparent the Beatles in February 1964 while watching “The Ed Sullivan Show.”
“Much like that Super Bowl we played at,” said Ray, “the Beatles accustomed on TV aback the country was aggravating to recover. Alone that time, our admiral had been dead in Dallas. Attractive back, I see we bare article to aces up our mood.
“I was 9 years old and that music hit me like a flat wave. I had this aberrant feeling, and I anticipate I knew I was not the alone kid who capital a guitar.”
His stepfather, Ray Parker, had alternate from World War II a awful busy hero, and now fared able-bodied as a ball biographer for Bob Hope. He had hoped to advise Brian the ball ropes, but his son autonomous to stick with music.
Soon, Ray was assassin by Etta James.
“I had so abundant to learn,” he recalled. “She begin me aback I was aloof 19; a kid with a big admiration and a little talent. But she trusted me. She was advancing aback from angry biologic addiction, and she bare musicians who would be accurate to her and advice authority her up.
“I abstruse so abundant from her. The capital affair was aback she would say to ‘call aloft the warrior aural anniversary one of us.’ We saw her aback she was absolutely beneath the weather, and those were nights she sang her — off. That adaptation aptitude was consistently there aback there was affray in her claimed life.”
Ray would break by her ancillary 14 years.
He has backward with McCartney about as long, pointing out that, alike with Beatles tunes, the aftermost affair he capital was to be in a karaoke band.
He said, “The abstraction was for us to apprentice songs and booty an capital allotment from the arrangement. But Paul is acceptable and let us put a allotment of ourselves into the music. Don’t get me wrong. Those annal all are important to me, and I still ascertain hooks they active in their arrangements.”
McCartney, he said, has consistently looked advanced to visiting Lubbock. Ray said, “Sometimes in complete analysis or rehearsal, Paul aloof avalanche into a Holly tune, and the blow of us accompany in.”
However, McCartney actuality ailing with an Asian virus afraid Ray.
“We’ve been accompany for 13 years, and Paul consistently has been attentive,” said Ray. “If one of us got sick, there would be addition ‘mixing up a aromatic with elixirs,’ and things would be all right.
“But this time, Paul was hurting. We were concerned.
“He did the appropriate thing. He followed his doctor’s advice; he’s singing better. I won’t say I wasn’t afraid aback he got sick, though. … But now, you alone watch him accomplish and it’s obvious: He ain’t backward anytime soon.”
That said, McCartney’s bout continues through October, and Ray has been alive the kinks out of a new band, partnering with Oliver Leiber in the Bayonets.
Leiber is the son of Jerry Leiber of Leiber & Stoller, who wrote a massive song book of bedrock ’n’ cycle tunes, including “Hound Dog,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “Poison Ivy” and “Charlie Brown.”
“You’ll aloof accept to break acquainted and see what we do with that,” said Ray.
Yet he fatigued that the complete he alone had in apperception for the Bayonets is what he calls “pre-British invasion, American music.”
He explained, “That was a time aback a lot of music was aggressive about hot rods, like Duane Eddy’s rockabilly.”
Right now Ray is accepting fun autograph and assuming singles, like “Sucker for Love,” but one has the activity that he’s additionally befitting an eye on McCartney … aloof in case.
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Also arena with McCartney
■ Rusty Anderson, guitar — Devoted to McCartney, break accept begin him alive with Gwen Stefani, Steven Tyler, Richie Sambora, Cat Stevens, Miley Cyrus, Meat Loaf and Lisa Marie Presley.■ Abe Laboriel Jr., drums — Arena aback age 4, he begin assignment aboriginal on with Steve Vai, Sean and Sting. But he is blessed actuality a affair drummer, alive there will be assignment whenever Paul takes breaks. Such as in 2009, aback he teamed with Steve Winwood and Eric Clapton.■ Paul “Wix” Wickens, keyboards — Wickens is blessed with the cachet quo, as he has performed abutting to McCartney aback 1989. That said, he’s additionally begin time to ball with Dylan, Bon Jovi and Joni Mitchell.
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