A Conversation With Kevin Montgomery

I met up with Kevin Montgomery today when he and his excellent band The Endangered Livers rolled into Liverpool for this evening's gig at the stunning Grade II* Listed Gustav Adolf Church, in the city which is home to three out of the four members of Kevin's band. The Church, which is also known as the Nordic Church or the Swedish Seaman's Church is reputed to be the most beautiful seaman's church in the world.

Kevin and I met in the Church's cafe over a coffee and some traditional Swedish cake [delicious]. As you may well be aware, Kevin has an impeccable musical pedigree- his father Bob was Buddy Holly's musical partner and his mother was Elvis Presley's backing singer, appearing on such classic hits as "In The Ghetto" and "Suspicious Minds". His father's songwriting credits include "Heartbeat", "Wishing" and "Love's Made A Fool Of You", as well as Patsy Cline's "Back In Baby's Arms" and "Misty Blue".

Kevin made his own first album, "Fear Nothing" in 1993 on A&M Records and has since made a further four studio albums and several live recordings.

I started off by asking Kevin how his current tour is going and he replied that it is "going great". I asked him about how it feels to be working with British musicians and he told me that "they are the best band I've ever had over here, there must be something in the water. I met Scott [Poley] [ who plays pedal steel guitar and lap steel] when he opened up the show for me last year and Ethan Allen suggested that I use him as my pedal steel player and he's done a great job. The rhythm section that he has put together of Etienne Girard [bass] and Jonathan Irving [drums]are great, they're fantastic. I'm very happy with this band and would take them all over the world if I had the chance. I've played with some of the best in the music industry, people like Russ Kunkel and Al Perkins and would gladly go anywhere in the world with these guys".

We discussed other songwriters and Kevin told me that he is "a huge fan of Jackson Browne, I don't think that anyone writes as good lyrics as he does. I also admire Jimmy Webb and, at times, Don Henley".

As for growing up in a musical household, Kevin told me "when I was growing up, I can't remember a time when my dad wasn't in the studio producing a record. I was in the studio a lot and got to see how these records came together and that was good. My dad also had a publishing company and I hung out with the writers, they were my heroes before Jackson Browne and Bruce Springsteen. It was the songwriters that most people never know what they look like or sound like but they're writing songs that make the whole world sing".

I asked Kevin how David Crosby had helped his career and he replied that "I opened up a show for him in Austin, Texas and after the show he asked me if I was on the rest of the tour with him. I said that I didn't know anything about it. He got up and walked to a payphone and called his manager. He said " I want this kid to open for me, so knock all the opening acts off". So I went on tour with him. I really liked him, he was a nice guy.

On the subject of Jimmy Webb, Kevin said that "I love confessional songwriters and he's one of the best".

Going back to Kevin's life, he told me that when he was 19 he " moved to New York and busked in the subways singing Bruce Springsteen songs. Springsteen was big when I lived in New York. When I was 22/23, I moved to Los Angeles and got a record deal about a year later".

Kevin told me that after his current tour he is "going to do some shows in Crete". And after that ? "Now that I know what I have with this band, with these guys from Liverpool, I want to take this band on the road. I've done four 50 States in 50 Days Tours and we are talking about how we can take this band on that Tour logistically. I want to make music again.

For my last album, I wrote the songs on the day we recorded them, so I could decide next week to do a record and write the songs in the studio and record them the same day. I have such a great place in Nashville, a studio that I use called Sixteen Tons Studios and it's excellent. It's like home".

I asked Kevin to nominate his favourite album of all time and he replied " Probably "Late For The Sky" by Jackson Browne. I was playing it for the band the other day. The solo on the title track is probably one of the most beautifully orchestrated guitar tracks ever and it was by David Lindley, who was not really known as a guitar player but more for playing lap steel and slide. He's a fantastic player. What I love about Scott [Poley] is that he's really studied guys like that. He's from Liverpool and there is a real Lubbock - Liverpool connection. There's something in the water- Liverpool has the Beatles and Lubbock has Buddy Holly and my dad, Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Mac Davis, they're all from Lubbock". " Paul McCartney will tell you there would not have been the Beatles without Buddy Holly".

Kevin told me of his meeting with Paul:-

" I was due to play the Adelphi in Preston with my band and I got word that Paul wanted me to play at a Buddy Holly Tribute Concert. I told him that I'd love to do it but only if I could bring my entire band of 7or 8 people. I got word back that this would be fine, so I cancelled the show at the Adelphi. We traipsed down to London and hung out with McCartney.I told him that we had cancelled a show at the Adelphi in Preston and he said "Oh, I used to play there with my band"!"

At this point Kevin had to go upstairs to do his soundcheck for the evening's concert. Thanks for the interview Kevin.


Peter Cowley

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