NOVEMBER 12, 2020

ROCKWiRED NOTES: MARLON MONTGOMERY 1975 the late rock n roll troubadour MIKE MONTGOMERY found himself at a fork in the road of a winding career that had taken him from the teen dances and honky tonks of his home state of Oklahoma to the hustle and bustle of New York City. The members of MOTT THE HOOPLE had made an offer to the singer, songwriter and keyboardist MONTGOMERY to have him replace their legendary front man IAN HUNTER. Who knows what would've been possible had MONTGOMERY filled HUNTER's shoes by becoming the front man of one rock's most celebrated bands. However, MONTGOMERY was also contacted by ex-FREE guitarist PAUL KOSSOFF who requested that he move to London so the two of them could form a band together. MONTGOMERY turned down the offer to front MOTT THE HOOPLE and got on a plane to London to work with KOSSOFF in forming the band that would become BACK STREET CRAWLER, a band designed to showcase KOSSOFF as a band leader but ended up being obscured due to KOSSOFF's well publicized issues with drug use. In 1975 the band released the album THE BAND PLAYS ON – a glorious collection of blues powered rock n roll made signature by MIKE MONTGOMERY's songs such as the yearning SURVIVOR, the bluesy slow burn of IT'S A LONG WAY DOWN TO THE TOP, the stomping ALL THE GIRLS ARE CRAZY and the driving rocker ROCK N ROLL JUNKIE. In listening to THE BAND PLAYS ON forty-five years after its release, the chops and songwriting of one MIKE MONTGOMERY should've propelled BACK STREET CRAWLER to astounding heights, but continuing health problems with KOSSOFF prevented the band from touring and eventually lead to his death in April of 1976. MONTGOMERY would leave the band in pursuit of a solo career while the remaining members of BACK STREET CRAWLER would go on to record one more album.

MONTGOMERY's 1976 solo album featured quest appearance from the likes of THIN LIZZY, BLOOD SWEAT AND TEARS and MEATLOAF, yet despite the such a roster, the album disappeared. In the early eighties MONTGOMERY returned to New York City and got involved in film scoring with the film VICE SQUAD and continued session work with such artists as JOHNNY WINTERS, ROY BUCHANAN and RICK DERRINGER. He later formed the R&B/blues rock band ROUGH HOUSE before succumbing to lung cancer in 1991.

In a time where there a more music files then there are molecules in the universe, it is not easy to resurrect interest in a music career that deserved more recognition than it got, but that is exactly what MARLON MONTGOMERY – the son of MIKE MONTGOMERY – has set out to do. CRAWLING SPIDER: A TRIBUTE TO MIKE MONTGOMERY VOL.I – THE L.A. SESSIONS is an out and out celebration of one of rock n roll's most overlooked songwriters. This electrifying compilation brings the songcraft of MONTGOMERY to life with with some spirited performances by such artists as JIMMY KUNES, MARK CAMPBELL, TERRY SLESSER and TERESA JAMES. MARLON MONTGOMERY has described the making of this album as a labor of love  and shared the producer's chair with TERRY WILSON and TONY BRAUNAGEL - both former members of the BACK STREET CRAWLERS. While the reinterpretations of MONTGOMERY's songs send this album into high orbit, it is the ghostly demos of MONTGOMERY himself that help paint a haunting portrait of the late singer-songwriter and what the world of music missed out on.

ROCKWIRED had a chance to speak with MARLON MONTGOMERY regarding the tribute compilation to his father, the late-MIKE MONTGOMERY. Here is how the interview went.  

CRAWLING SPIDER – A TRIBUTE TO MIKE MONTGOMERY VOL. I THE LA SESSIONS is indeed a moving tribute to the music of your father. Now that the collection is finally out there for people to hear how do you feel about the finished work?
Thank you so much for that. Putting this album together has truly been a labor of love for me and for everyone who was involved in putting it together. It was a joy working with TERRY WILSON and TONY BRAUNAGEL who were members of the band BACK STREET CRAWLER in producing the album and getting these performances out of people like JOHN 'RABBIT' BUNDRICK, TERRY SLESSER and ROBBIE WYCKOFF. There were so many songs to choose from so it was great having guys like TONY and TERRY, who worked with my dad, help me out in selecting the songs for this compilation. However, the real surprise was finding these demos that my father recorded and there was just so much there that we decided that this collection was going to span more than just one album. That is why we made this album a volume one.


What was the initial creative spark that made you want to celebrate these songs and get this rather impressive roster of artists and musicians to bring your dad's music to life?
Oh boy! I would say that the initial spark happened about five years ago so putting this album together was a five year process. It might've taken longer given the demos we found. The initial spark was fueled by a some milestones that were coming up in regard to my dad's career. I had also started jamming with TERRY and TONY and before we knew it the fortieth anniversary of the release of BACK STREET CRAWLER's album THE BAND PLAYS ON was around the corner as well as the thirtieth anniversary of of my dad's death. He died in 1991. SO it was all of those things that got the spark going for getting this album made.

Originally the plan was to do some newly recorded tracks of my dad's songs and offer a few tracks that were recorded by my dad as bonus material. TERRY WILSON and I got together and started making a list of all of the songs we wanted for this album and then we came up with a a list people that we wanted to perform these songs which included artists like JIMMY KUNES, MARK CAMPBELL, MIKE MONTGOMERY and TERESA JAMES. It was thrill to actually get all of these people into the studio and just have them tear into these songs. Before we knew it we had six songs recorded and felt like we needed more so we recorded a few more but the real surprise came and TERRY and I had come across some old reels of solo material that my dad had never released and when we went through those recordings, we knew that we had to include them on this album somehow.

Aside from the re-recordings of your dad's songs, the demo recordings truly stand out. You had said earlier that you and TERRY had stumbled upon the reels accidentally. In finding these recordings from the past, what songs specifically stood out for you?
Wow! I would say the songs CAN'T BE SO BAD. It was a late night session recording and I immediately knew that it had to be on the album. And outside of the reels and the TERRY and I found, my dad's second wife MARY MONTGOMERY had all of these cassettes and paperwork that belonged to my dad. In that we found this one cassette of a session which included some good friends of my dad – the blues band OMAR AND THE HOWLERS. They had helped my dad to track the song JUST A SON OF AMERICA. It's an amazing song and I'm so happy that TERRY was able to get the song on that cassette to sound like a fully realized song for this album.

And of the studio cuts, what performances have you the most excited?
They're all my babies. I think ROBBIE WYCKOFF does an amazing job with the songs SURVIVOR and IT'S A LONG WAY DOWN TO THE TOP and MARK CAMPBELL really delivers with the song ROCK N ROLL JUNKIE. As a songwriter my dad was a true storyteller and I feel fortunate to have the singers and musicians that we have on this album and with that being said, it is very difficult to pick just one or two performances off of the album as a standout or a favorite when you've got people like TERRY SLESSER and TERESA JAMES turning in some very fine performances.

As a musician, how much influence did your father have over you musically?
He had quite an influence over me musically. As a kid I grew up listening to a lo of the older stuff. I listened to a lot of blues and a lot of early rock. That was the stuff that my dad grew up loving. I would also go to shows that my dad was playing at the HOUSE OF BLUES and as a young kid got to hang out backstage with people like TAJ MAHAL and ROBERT CRAY. So that ended up being the music that got me through and even today there are artists like TEDESCHI TRUCKS who I think are amazing.

What do you want the takeaway to be for people when they listen to this album?
It's like I said earlier. I want the main takeaway to be that my dad was a great storyteller through song whether the listener is familiar with my dad's work or not. There is a lot of music on this album and there is a mix of different styles from hard rock to blues and country. My dad's musical reach was very wide and I would also like for people to know that as well once they've listened to this album.

FOR MORE iNFORMATiON GO TO: Lush is a music industry professional and entrepreneur. In 2005 he launched the online music site to help promote new music artists in conjunction with the weekly radio show Rockwired Live which aired on KTSTFM.COM from 2005 - 2009. In 2010 He launched the daily podcast series Rockwired Radio Profiles which features exclusive interviews and music. He has also developed and produced the online radio shows Jazzed and Blue - Profiles in Blues and Jazz, Aboriginal Sounds - A Celebration of American Indian and First Nations Music, The Rockwired Rock N Roll Mixtape Show and The Rockwired Artist of the Month Showcase. In 2012, Brian Lush and his company Rockwired Media LLC launched the monthly digital online publication Rockwired Magazine. The magazine attracts over 75,000 readers a month and shows no signs of stopping. Rockwired Magazine also bares the distinction of being the first American Indian-owned rock magazine. Brian Lush is an enrolled member of the Yankton Sioux Tribe. Brian Lush's background in music journalism, radio and podcast hosting, podcast production, web design, publicity, advertising sales, social media and online marketing, strategic editorial planning and branding have all made Rockwired a name that is trusted and respected throughout the independent music industry.

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