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Episode 131 : Robert Gordon on Memphis + Stax + ZZ Top + Robert Johnson

11 July 2022

In this episode we welcome the very engaging Robert Gordon "all the way from Memphis" and ask him to talk about the music of his hometown, from Sun and Stax to Alex Chilton and Big Star.

Robert tells us about his childhood, along with the blues epiphany that was watching Furry Lewis support the Rolling Stones on the Memphis leg of their 1975 U.S. tour. Moving on to Stax, we look back at a great 1988 interview Robert did with the Memphis Horns' Andrew Love and Wayne Jackson — and then forward to the Wattstax festival, staged in L.A. 50 years ago this summer.

Clips from the week's new audio interview — Tony Scherman asking Billy Gibbons about Robert Johnson — afford us the perfect excuse not only to discuss ZZ Top and their imminent new album but to revisit our guest's exhaustive 1991 essay on the "plundering" of Delta blues legend Johnson's estate.

Mark talks us through a selection of newly-added library pieces about Frankie Lymon, Alma Cogan, San Francisco's Trips festival, Syreeta, Gang of Four and Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy. In the absence of a vacationing Jasper, Barney wraps things up with quotes from articles about rock scribe R(ichard) Meltzer, the Specials and — circling back to Stax — Booker T. Jones recalling co-writing Albert King's brooding 'Born Under a Bad Sign' with William Bell...

Many thanks to special guest Robert Gordon; the 25th anniversary edition of It Came From Memphis is published by Third Man Books and available now. Visit his website at therobertgordon.com.