2nd Movement: Tommy, Vince & Larry
Updated: Sep 7
"You can learn a lot by just watching.”
-- Yogi Berra
Don’t really remember or know where it was that I first heard Larry play. But what I do know and remember is that after hearing him just one time on one solo, I decided that he, not me, had to be the guitar player. That was it. He had all that Clapton, Beck and Page stuff nailed down cold.
But his biggest influence, by far, was Jimi Hendrix. While Clapton was using a Wah-Wah pedal in-time to the 4/4 beat of a tune, like on “Tales of Brave Ulysses,” Larry was using it more like Hendrix did on the “Electric Ladyland” album: more for emotional timbre control. He made that puppy talk, that boy did. And man, could he play the blues.
Also, since we wanted the band to be a 3-piece power trio and, thus, no room for Lou on bass and me on second guitar, I decided to try my hand at bass. Never played the damn thing before in my life. Not one note. So, I borrowed a bass n’ an amp from Terry Fowler with whom I played in the Bing Sue thang, and just started wood-sheddin’ whenever Vince n’ Larry n’ I weren’t practicing in Vince’s parent’s basement. Which was pretty much a daily event.
Along with my first introduction into the world of 100% Sicilian cuisine which Vince’s parents and grand-parents fixed fresh every day in their upstairs kitchen. Yummy!
The basic approach we took to our band was this: Larry n’ Vince brought the fire; my job was to just hold down the foundation and keep the damn house from completely blowin’ away. Neither Vince nor Larry sung. I barely sung. But, I did have one thing goin’ for me at the time: I was loud. Oh yeah, my bruddahs n’ sistahs, I could holler over a stinkin' rock band all day long.
Oh, ‘n before I forget, who the hell came up with the name “Cookin” Mama” anyway? And to what - if anything - does it refer? Well, one day at rehearsal, and immediately after a particularly decent jam, Larry just got this kinda crazed look on his face. And with a big ol’ shit-eatin’ Cheshire Cat grin, said out loud: “Man, that’s cookin,’ mama!” I heard what he said and screamed back: “That’s gotta be it! Cookin’ Mama. That’s gotta be the name of the band!” And, so off we went.
“It’s feast or famine in showbiz.”
-- Joan Rivers
But, hey, guess what? We only played one show that I can remember. No kiddin. But it was a doozey: an Alameda High student body meeting. Larry n’ I both ran around town the day before the gig and borrowed every frickin' amp we could from every musician we knew.
I plugged one channel of a Fender Bassman into the other channel and then daisy-chained that sucker into the head of a Fender Dual Showman. Both amps had their own speaker cabs. Larry did sumtin’ similar with his Fender Super Reverb. Hell, I think he might damn near have used 3 amps that day. And, folks, we were LOUD!
The band played mostly Hendrix and Cream material. I’m pretty certain the 4 tunes we plowed thru that day were: “Crossroads,” “Spoonful” and “Toad” off of Cream’s “Wheels of Fire” album. And Hendrix’s “Red House.”
Went over big-time that day, we did. Hell, I even almost got laid. And so we all figured we were “in.” Ah, youth. What the heck did we know…hmm?
Unfortunately, the clock had already begun a’tickin’ on Larry’s soiree with the band almost as soon as he started with us. Hell, I knew that someone else - some other better player or players - would gobble that boy up right soon. And, jus’ like I could feel it squishin’ ‘round in my guts, sho’ ‘nuff it happened.
Larry took off to play with Tom “Manfred” Allen, Jr. on drums (who later went on to play drums with Willie “Mink” DeVille). Along with some older guy bass player who sung pert’ damn near like Stevie Winwood. We wished him well…truly.
But, yikes! What’s to do now?