Chuck Howard

The father in the country & western Chuck Howard dynasty, this guitar picker was a musician's musician type, the kind of guy whose licks are played on a thousand records but nobody knows who he is. One of his most famous credits is on the often overlooked country album by Ringo Starr, Beaucoups of Blues. In fact, Howard was one of the main reasons this record happened at all. Howard first entered the extremely private world of the Beatles when he traveled to London with frequent playing partner Pete Drake. The latter player went to London at the bequest of George Harrison, who was hard at work on his epic All Things Must Pass album and wanted some of Drake's expertise. In the meantime, Howard became good friends with Ringo Starr and was the man who convinced him to spend an extended stay in the United States in order to record the country project. The finished record included four of Howard's songs, as well as extensive contributions from songwriter, picker, and peanut farmer Sorrells Pickard.

The Kentucky-born Howard recorded a series of honky tonk singles in the late '50s and early '60s for esoteric regional labels such as Sand, Kim, Flame, and Do-Re-Me. These songs have become popular candidates for anthologies of hardcore country, hot rod country, honky tonk, or rockabilly, with titles including "Crazy, Crazy Baby," "Out of Gas," "Gossip," and a rockabilly cover of "Chattanooga Shoe Shine Boy." Since rockabilly represents the wildest, least disciplined side of the country & western music spectrum, perhaps it was hearing these records being played around the house that influenced young Chuck Howard Jr. to rebel against his father and become a slick Nashville record producer and A&R man, responsible for many string-laden pop hits as well as launching the careers of many photogenically appealing but strictly bland country artists in the '90s. ~ Eugene Chadbourne

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