Browse by Title
A B C D E F G
H I J K L M N
O P Q R S T U
V W X Y Z #  




Chris Wilson of The Flamin' Groovies
Chris Wilson was only 18 years old when he flew to Los Angeles early in 1971 to join up with some guys he had once performed with in Boston. Things didn't work out in L.A., but a friend of a friend was looking for a singer for his San Francisco band, so Chris ended up moving to the Bay area. Within a year, Roy Loney - the original lead singer of the Flamin' Groovies - decided to leave the band, and Chris was asked to replace him.

In May 1972, Chris and the rest of the group flew across the pond to work with the famed Roots Rock/Power Pop/New Wave musician, Dave Edmunds. Within weeks, Edmunds had the Groovies in Rockfield Studios, a converted farmhouse in the Welsh countryside where some of the most famous rock-and-roll albums of all time were recorded. The songs that were recorded during that Rockfield session included one of the all-time greats, "Shake Some Action."
Chris Wilson of The Flamin' Groovies
Gary Hailey (Songfacts): Chris, you and I were born the same year, so I'm curious if we grew up listening to the same music on the radio. What kind of music were you a fan of when you were in high school?

Chris Wilson: Hearing The Beatles – I saw them play live – and the Stones was a game-changer. Of course, it started with the old blues guys... they were the foundation. And you can't ignore Elvis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard. But the British Invasion was the trigger for me.

Songfacts: Did you grow up in a musical family? What kind of music were you exposed to as a child?

Chris: My father's family came from Scotland so I heard lots of Scottish folk music when I was growing up - I still play some of that stuff in my solo set. I wouldn't say I had a musical family but there was music around and my uncle played. It's funny how all that early exposure influenced my tastes - I've wanted to record a folk album for a long time. Maybe it'll happen... it would be nice if it did.

Dick Gaughan is a Scottish folksinger and songwriter who is a master of the acoustic guitar. DADGAD is also known as Celtic tuning. Jimmy Page was a fan of it: "Kashmir" is one of the Led Zeppelin songs that features DADGAD tuning.
Songfacts: Is there a particular Scottish folk performer who has influenced you?

Chris: My acoustic guitar playing's been influenced by people like Dick Gaughan – his use of the DADGAD open tuning changed my style. But you try and learn from everyone. Ears open - that's the rule.

Songfacts: You wrote "Shake Some Action" with Cyril Jordan, who was the guitarist of the Flamin' Groovies from the band's formation in 1965. Tell me a little about the process of writing that song. Did the music or lyrics come first?

Chris: Cyril had the idea for the music, I think. But the lyrics... we'd sit around Rockfield and swap lines and ideas. If we were in different parts of the house and we had an idea for a song we find each other and pick up a guitar. Back at the start we worked in a really simple way – swapping licks and phrases. "Shake Some Action" really wasn't that difficult in that respect.

Songfacts: "Shake Some Action" was originally recorded at Rockfield in 1972, but the Shake Some Action album wasn't released until 1976. Why did it take so long for "Shake Some Action" to appear on an album?

Chris: We thought "Shake Some Action" might be a single. However, our record company [United Artists] had other ideas and released "Slow Death" as our first single. We thought was an album track, not a single. We should have stuck to our guns. If "You Tore Me Down" and "Shake Some Action" had been released as singles in 1972 rather than "Slow Death" and "Married Woman," who knows how things might have turned out?

Songfacts: What did your producer, Dave Edmunds, contribute to the sound of the song - was your vision of the song/arrangement different from his?

Chris: Dave added loads of effects to the guitars on the first attempt at "Shake Some Action," which we thought might have been a bit too much. That's why we cut a second version back in the US in 1973. In the end they're both good, albeit a little different – we're happy if people like the song. What more could we ask?

Songfacts: One of the first things the Groovies did when you went to England in 1972 was play at the Bickershaw Festival, where you shared the stage with the Kinks, Captain Beefheart, the Grateful Dead, and many other legendary bands. Who were some of the great groups you opened for, or who opened for you?

The Damned were the first English punk band to have a record on the UK charts and to tour the United States. The group's founding members include guitarist Captain Sensible and drummer Rat Scabies.
Chris: The Groovies gigged a lot. We supported David Bowie early on... he was a strange one. We also toured with The Damned as support – that didn't end well; they were really rude about us so we let them go. We played Berlin in 1980 supporting The Police, which was a show that's worthy of a story on its own. There's a recording of that show and we were really on fire... but were pulled off stage before our time was up.

Songfacts: The Flamin' Groovies released a lot of covers - you recorded several Lennon-McCartney songs and a bunch of Stones songs, including "Paint It Black" and "Jumpin' Jack Flash." What do you think were your best covers?

Chris: There was always an issue with covers. I thought we had really strong songs of our own – Cyril Jordan, however, wanted the covers in the set and he got his way. It was a bone of contention, although we did record some great covers if I say so myself. My favorite is our take on the Byrds' "Feel a Whole Lot Better" – we really nailed that song. And I think I put in a creditable performance on the Groovies' version of "River Deep, Mountain High," although I've not got the lungs of Tina Turner if you know what I mean.

Songfacts: I know exactly what you mean, Chris. And you don't have her legs either. [Laughter.]

"Child of the Moon" - a song that is unknown to many Stones fans - was the "B" side of "Jumpin' Jack Flash," which was a huge hit for the Stones in 1968. Neither song appeared on the group's next album, Beggars Banquet, but both have been included on various compilation albums. Here is The Stones' music video for "Child of the Moon."
Chris: We'd often talked about recording the Stones' "Child of the Moon" but never did – something I put right last year in Paris. My French band cut the song for a "live in the studio" album.

Songfacts: "Shake Some Action" has been covered by a number of other artists. Who do you think did the best cover version of it?

Chris: The best cover version of "Shake Some Action"? That's easy – the one that was featured in Clueless. Both me and Cyril made some money from that, a rare situation for the Groovies and a welcome one, too.

Songfacts: I'm a sucker for high school movies, and Clueless is one of the best. Its soundtrack had several noteworthy covers: "Kids In America" and "All the Young Dudes" as well as Cracker's cover of "Shake Some Action."

Chris: There have been some pretty odd attempts to cover "Shake Some Action," including one by a girl group that heavily referenced Motown – that one was kinda cute I guess.

Chris was referring to the 2010 cover by a Boston girl group whose lead singer sounds like a reincarnated Berry Gordy protégé. Here is the Jenny Dee & the Delinquents' recording of "Shake Some Action."

Songfacts: You and Cyril hadn't been getting along for some time when you left the Groovies on Halloween night 1981. But I understand that the Groovies have gotten back together?

Chris Wilson of The Flamin' GrooviesChris: Yes, we're back together again. We finally realized that the bad blood and ill feeling was just plain stupid – it just took us 30 years to reach that conclusion! Cyril and George [Alexander, who was the group's original bass player] and I played some dates in Australia and Japan earlier this year. And there's a new album on the way - three tracks already recorded.

Songfacts: You recently finished recording a new solo album that features several of the Groovies. Tell us a little about that album.

Chris: That album's named It's Flamin' Groovy! I've been joined by Cyril, George, Roy Loney, and former Groovies' guitarists James Ferrell and Mike Wilhelm – along with Procol Harum's Hammond organ legend Matthew Fisher. It's not quite a Groovies album... but it's pretty darn close. And to top it all we've found two lost recordings from our ill-fated 1981 sessions in LA's Gold Star studios. They were abandoned before they were finished but now that's been put right.

Songfacts: Chris, it's great to hear that you guys are working together again. The Flamin' Groovies are quite a story, and it sounds like that story isn't over yet.

Chris: The bottom line is that the Groovies are about to embark on a new chapter and everyone's fully committed to getting the show back on the road.

September 10, 2013.
For more, visit Chris Wilson's website.

To read more by Songfacts contributor Gary Hailey, please visit his music blog, 2 or 3 Lines.

Comments: 1

Does anyone know what happened to Jack Johnson who is singing in the video? BTW--that video is a different version of the song than is being played. That is, song and video do not match.
-Linda B. from Las Vegas, NV

Name
Where are you from?
Your Comment
 security code

Randy NewmanRandy Newman
Newman makes it look easy these days, but in this 1974 interview, he reveals the paranoia and pressures that made him yearn for his old 9-5 job.
Gym Class HeroesGym Class Heroes
Their drummer/songwriter with the story behind "Cupid's Chokehold," and how they handle Travie McCoy's solo success.
Queensrÿche founder Geoff TateQueensrÿche founder Geoff Tate
Geoff talks about his solo album Kings and Thieves, and tells the stories of "Silent Lucidity" and "Jet City Woman."
Brian "Head" Welch of Korn, Love and DeathBrian "Head" Welch of Korn, Love and Death
Back with Korn, Brian talks guitar pedals and Bungle chords as he takes us through the genesis of their sound and the stories behind the songs.

Search in Songwriter Interviews
search
Songwriter Interviews titles
Aaron Beam of Red Fang
Aaron Gillespie
Aaron Lewis
Adam Duritz of Counting Crows
Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne
Adam Young of Owl City
Al Anderson of NRBQ
Al Jourgensen of Ministry
Al Kooper
Alan Merrill of The Arrows
Alex Call (867-5309)
Allee Willis: Boogie Wonderland, Friends theme
Amanda Palmer
Amy Grant
Andy McClusky of OMD
Andy Powell of Wishbone Ash
Angelo Moore of Fishbone
Ann Hampton Callaway
Anna Canoni about Woody Guthrie
Annie Haslam of Renaissance
Anthony Raneri of Bayside
Antigone Rising
Art Alexakis of Everclear
Asher Roth
Badi Assad
Bart Millard of MercyMe
Becca Stevens
Ben Watt of Everything But The Girl
Benny Mardones
Biff Byford of Saxon
Bill Medley of The Righteous Brothers
Bill Withers
Billy Gould of Faith No More
Billy Joe Shaver
Billy Montana ("More Than A Memory" - Garth Brooks)
Billy Steinberg
Bo Bice
Bob Daisley
Bobby Liebling of Pentagram
Bobby Whitlock
Boz Scaggs
Brad Arnold from 3 Doors Down
Brad Smith of Blind Melon
Brandi Carlile
Brandon Heath
Brenda Russell
Brian "Head" Welch of Korn, Love and Death
Bronze Radio Return
Bruce Robison
Bryan Adams
Butch Vig
Buzz Osborne of the Melvins
Carol Kaye
Chad Channing (Nirvana, Before Cars)
Chad Urmston of Dispatch
Chan Kinchla of Blues Traveler
Charles Fox
Charlie Benante of Anthrax
Charlie Daniels
Charlotte Caffey of The Go-Go's
Chris August
Chris Fehn of Slipknot
Chris Isaak
Chris Knight
Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes
Chris Squire of Yes
Chris Tomlin
Chris Willis
Chris Wilson of The Flamin' Groovies
Christopher Cross
Chuck Billy of Testament
Cody Hanson of Hinder
Colbie Caillat
Corey Hart
Craig Goldy of Dio
Curt Kirkwood of Meat Puppets
Cy Curnin of The Fixx
Dan Haseltine of Jars of Clay
Dan Reed
Daniel Moore ("Shambala," "My Maria")
Danko Jones
Danny Kortchmar
Dar Williams
Darren King of MUTEMATH
Darryl Worley
Dave Clark
Dave Innis of Restless Heart
Dave Mason
Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum
Dave Stewart of Eurythmics
Dave Wakeling of The English Beat
Dean Pitchford
Denny Randell
Desmond Child
Devin Townsend
Devo
Dexys (Kevin Rowland and Jim Paterson)
Dez Fafara of DevilDriver and Coal Chamber
Dick Wagner (Alice Cooper/Lou Reed)
Dino Cazares of Fear Factory
Don Brewer of Grand Funk
Don Felder
Donald Fagen
Donnie Iris (Ah! Leah!, The Rapper)
Dr. John
Dropkick Murphys
dUg Pinnick of King's X
Duncan Phillips of Newsboys
Dwight Twilley
Eddie Carswell of NewSong
Eddie Reeves
Edwin McCain
El Sloan of Crossfade
Elvin Bishop
Emilio Castillo from Tower of Power
Emily Saliers of Indigo Girls
Emmylou Harris
Eric Burdon
Eric Kretz of Stone Temple Pilots
Francesca Battistelli
Francis Rossi of Status Quo
Gary Brooker of Procol Harum
Gary Lewis
Gary Louris of The Jayhawks
Gary Numan
Gentle Giant
Georgia Middleman of Blue Sky Riders
Gilby Clarke
Glen Burtnik
Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet Sprocket
Gordon Bahary
Graham Bonnet (Alcatrazz, Rainbow)
Graham Parker
Graham Russell of Air Supply
Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Greg Puciato of Killer Be Killed and Dillinger Escape Plan
Gretchen Peters (Independence Day)
Guy Clark
Gym Class Heroes
Hal Ketchum
Harold Brown of War
Harry Shearer
Hayes Carll
Henry McCullough
Henry Paul of The Outlaws, Blackhawk
Holly Knight
Holly Williams
Howard Bellamy
Howard Jones
Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull
Ian Anderson: "The delight in making music is that you don't have a formula"
Ian Astbury of The Cult
Ian Thornley of Big Wreck
Ingrid Croce
J.D. Souther
Jack Blades of Night Ranger and Damn Yankees
Jake Owen
James Williamson of Iggy & the Stooges
Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed
Jamie O'Neal
Jane Wiedlin from the Go-Go`s
Janis Ian
Jann Klose
Jaret Reddick of Bowling for Soup
Jason Michael Carroll
Jason Newsted (ex-Metallica)
Jason Reeves
Jason Roy of Building 429
Jay Graydon
Jeff Walker of Carcass
Jello Biafra
Jeph Howard of The Used
Jeremy DePoyster of The Devil Wears Prada
Jess Origliasso of The Veronicas
Jesse Valenzuela of Gin Blossoms
Jim McCarty of The Yardbirds
Jimbeau Hinson
Jimmy Jam
Jimmy Webb
JJ Burnel of The Stranglers
Jo Dee Messina
Joe Elliott of Def Leppard
Joe Ely
Joe Grushecky
Joe Jackson
Joe King Carrasco
Joe Rickard of Red
Joel Crouse
Joey + Rory
Joey Burns of Calexico
John Doe of X
John Gallagher of Raven
John Lee Hooker
John Oates
John Rzeznik of Goo Goo Dolls
John Waite
John Wheeler of Hayseed Dixie
Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde
Johnny Winter
Jon Anderson of Yes
Jon Foreman of Switchfoot
Jon Oliva of Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Jon Tiven
Josh Kelley
Josh Shilling
Josh Thompson
Judas Priest
Julian Lennon
Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues
Kasim Sulton (Utopia, Meat Loaf)
Keith Morris of Black Flag and OFF!
Keith Reid of Procol Harum
Kelvin Swaby of The Heavy
Ken Block of Sister Hazel
Kenneth Nixon of Framing Hanley
Kenny Vance
Kerry Livgren of Kansas
Kim Thayil of Soundgarden
Kip Winger
Kirk Franklin
Kristian Bush of Sugarland
Kristine W
Lajon Witherspoon of Sevendust
Larry Burnett of Firefall
Larry Wiegand of Crow
Laura Bell Bundy
Lecrae
Lee Ranaldo
Les Claypool
Leslie West of Mountain
Lindi Ortega
Lisa Loeb
Lita Ford
Little Big Town
Lori McKenna
Loudon Wainwright III
Louie Perez of Los Lobos
Lukas Nelson
Mac Powell of Third Day
Marc Roberge of O.A.R. (Of A Revolution)
Marcy Playground
Maria Muldaur
Maria Neckam
Mark Arm of Mudhoney
Marshall Crenshaw
Martin Gordon
Martin Page
Martin Smith of Delirous?
Martyn Ware of Heaven 17
Marvin Etzioni of Lone Justice
Mary Gauthier
Mat Kearney
Matisyahu
Matt Pike of High On Fire
Matt Pryor of Get Up Kids
Matt Scannell of Vertical Horizon
Matt Sorum
Matt Thiessen of Relient K
Matthew West
Max Cavalera of Soulfly (ex-Sepultura)
Meshell Ndegeocello
Mia Doi Todd
Michael Bolton
Michael Franti
Michael Gilbert of Flotsam and Jetsam
Michael Glabicki of Rusted Root
Michael Schenker
Michael Sweet of Stryper
Michael W. Smith
Mick Jones of Foreigner
Mike Campbell
Mike Donehey of Tenth Avenue North
Mike Love of The Beach Boys
Mike Muir of Suicidal Tendencies
Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater
Miles Doughty of Slightly Stoopid
Millie Jackson
Mitch Myers about Shel Silverstein
Mitts of Madball
Mountain Heart
Neil Fallon of Clutch
Neil Giraldo
Nick Van Eede from Cutting Crew
Nick Waterhouse
Nick Wheeler of The All-American Rejects
Nina Persson of The Cardigans
Nona Hendryx
Oliver Leiber
Our Lady Peace
Ozomatli
Pam Tillis
Pat Alger ("The Thunder Rolls", "Unanswered Prayers")
Paul Dean of Loverboy
Paul Evans
Paul Williams
Pegi Young
Penny Ford of Snap!
Pete Anderson
Peter Lord
Petula Clark
Phil Hurtt ("I'll Be Around")
Philip Cody
Queensrÿche founder Geoff Tate
Radney Foster
Raghav
Ralph Casale - Session Pro
Randy Goodrum (Oh Sherrie)
Randy Houser
Randy Montana
Randy Newman
Randy Sharp (From Glen Campbell to Edgar Winter)
Randy Stonehill
Rebecca St. James
Reverend Horton Heat
Rhonda Vincent
Richard Hell
Richard Marx
Richard Patrick of Filter
Richie McDonald of Lonestar
Richie Wise (Kiss producer, Dust)
Rick Finch
Rick Springfield
Rick Wartell of Trouble
Rik Emmett of Triumph
Robert Ellis
Roger Clyne
Rosanne Cash
Rupert Hine
Ryan Star
Sam Phillips
Sandy Chapin
Sarah Brightman
Scorpions Rudolf Schenker
Scott Gorham of Thin Lizzy and Black Star Riders
Scott Jason of Thriving Ivory
Scott Stapp
Scotty Emerick (Beer For My Horses)
Sebu Simonian of Capital Cities
Serena Ryder
Seth Swirsky
Shane Volk of One Bad Son
Shaun Morgan of Seether
Shawn Smith of Brad
Shelby Lynne
Skip Ewing ("Love, Me," "The Gospel According To Luke")
Sonny Sandoval of P.O.D.
Speech of Arrested Development
Spooner Oldham
Squeeze: Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford
Stan Ridgway
Steel Magnolia
Stephen Christian of Anberlin
Steve "Zetro" Souza of Exodus and Hatriot
Steve Azar
Steve Hindalong of The Choir
Steven Tyler of Aerosmith
Stuart Braithwaite of Mogwai
Sugarland
Sum 41
Sunny Sweeney
Supertramp founder Roger Hodgson
Tanita Tikaram
Taylor Dayne
Terry Cashman
Terry Jacks ("Seasons in the Sun")
Terry Taylor of Daniel Amos and Lost Dogs
The Asteroids Galaxy Tour
The Dandy Warhols
The Fratellis
The Limousines
They Might Be Giants
Thomas Dolby
Tim Butler of The Psychedelic Furs
Timothy B. Schmit of the Eagles
Tina Shafer
Tobin Esperance of Papa Roach
Toby Lightman
Todd Harrell of 3 Doors Down and 7dayBinge
Tom Gabel of Against Me!
Tom Johnston from The Doobie Brothers
Tom Keifer of Cinderella
Tommy James
Tommy Lee James ("She's My Kind Of Rain")
Toni Wine
Tonio K
Tony Hiller and Brotherhood of Man
Tony Joe White
Travis Stever of Coheed and Cambria
Trent Wagler of The Steel Wheels
Udo Dirkschneider (UDO, ex-Accept)
Van Dyke Parks
Vanessa Carlton
Ville Valo of HIM
Vince Clarke
Vince Gill
Vinny May of Kodaline
Vonda Shepard
Wayne Hussey of The Mission
Wayne Swinny of Saliva
Wednesday 13
Wes Borland of Limp Bizkit and Black Light Burns
Will Jennings
Yael Naim
Yoko Ono
Zac Hanson
Zakk Wylde
ARCHIVES (Show)
Other Songfacts Blogs
Songwriter Interviews
Song Writing
Music Quiz
Fact or Fiction
They're Playing My Song