Robert Gordon &
Chris Spedding Interviewed

Posted July 23, 2007

ED NOTE: The new "Now or Never" album features 15 Elvis Presley songs as performed by Robert Gordon, Chris Spedding and the legendary Jordanaires in honor of the 30th anniversary of Elvis' death

       Robert Gordon broke out with his hit "Red Hot" in 1977, knocking down disco queens, would-be punks, and new wave wannabes with his no-holds-barred take on hot-rodded rockabilly. Since then he has been like a turbo jet, and is often credited for lighting up the roots-rock revival and paving the way for real rock'n'rollers to find their niche among the overblown dance music and arena rock that dominated the airwaves.
       Robert's legacy has been fueled by his partnership with some of the greatest guitar players in history ‹ Link Wray, Danny Gatton, and Chris Spedding. Robert first saw Link Wray at an amusement park in Glenn Echo Park, Maryland, in 1962, and knew he had to play with him. Together they recorded a successful string of records, which included the song "Fire," a gift from Bruce Springsteen. Although he is best known for being a tough-as-nails rockabilly artist, Robert is always quick to point out "I'm not trying to recreate something. This is how I feel." That feeling continues to glow red hot on his latest release with his old partner Chris Spedding, It's Now or Never, a collection of mostly lesser-known Elvis Presley songs.


Why Elvis, why now?
       It's been talked about for years, but we figured the 30th anniversary of his death was the perfect time. We went down to Nashville, did the whole album in a week. We didn't pick the obvious tunes ... maybe a couple, but the rest are from movies, not the obvious choices.

Must be good getting back with Chris Spedding
       The band with Chris is the band. We just did two tours of Europe, for the first time in thirteen years. We sort of went through a bad divorce. We worked together for ten years and took it as far as we could. We were bad boys. We were nuts. Everything was really frantic. Then he moved to the West Coast ... and we just sort of did our own thing.

Let's talk about your other guitar players ‹ you've played with some of the greats.
       Danny Gatton is a real country and jazz guy, but Chris comes from everyplace. He puts a real twist to it. He takes rockabilly things and stretches it. I don't want to say avant-garde, but ... and Link Wray was great. He played like he looked, if you know what I mean. Real raunchy. But his solos on his ballads are real beautiful, ferocious, but beautiful. Live it was difficult, though. The volume! He was loud.

You came up in New York, at CBGBs, with the Tuff Darts. That was not a quiet band ...
       The Tuff Darts were a good way for me to vent, but I wanted to go in a different direction. Getting signed to RCA was huge‹ that was Elvis' label of course. But it was right before MTV. Springsteen gave me "Fire" ... It was unbelievable how much airplay I got, but it could have been huge.

How do you feel now?
       We're getting smarter. I'm singing better than I ever have. Everything was crazy back then. The whole nine yards. We were bad boys. It took me a long time to live it down.

       Chris Spedding is one of the most spectacular, versatile, and menacing guitar players to ever come out of the British music scene. He has lit up sessions for everyone from Dusty Springfield to Paul McCartney to Elton John, and is fully entrenched in the legend of rock'n'roll for having produced the Sex Pistols demos that launched a revolution. More recently he has been seen sharing the stage with Roxy Music.
       Chris' long relationship with Robert Gordon began in the late 70s and they spent the next ten years tearing up America with a particularly vicious version of rockabilly, greased by a good-time lifestyle that left audiences in awe. Newly re-united with Robert for It's Now or Never, Chris is at the top of his form.


It's been a long time since you and Robert have played together. How was it working with him again - and why a record of Elvis covers?
       It was a great experience. I had often thought that Robert did Presley stuff very well and should do more. He had always avoided doing Elvis but Robert is established enough with his own style to be able to pull it off. When I mentioned this to him he agreed, he was finally ready to do it. After we realized we were of like mind, everything went very smoothly.

What are your best memories of working with him over the years?
       I think we are well suited. We both have very strong, direct styles. Robert needs a certain type of guitarist to match his powerful vocals and I'm the man for the job! It was always fun to play with Robert. This music is about having a good time.

Robert said that you guys went through a tough "divorce." What happened? Everything is cool again?
       Yes, we had our differences over the years. We lost contact when I left New York to live in Los Angeles. I was going through some changes and needed a new start in a new city. Once that situation was dealt with, I think we both missed playing with each other. The fans didn't forget us either and now I believe we are closer than ever.

Robert said you guys used to get pretty wild ‹off stage. What kind of trouble did you used to get in?
       Everything you heard is true.

How have you changed as a player since the early days with Robert?
       I hope I got better! It would be difficult to play with him and not improve.

How do you feel about switching styles - from Roxy and Bryan Ferry to roots Rockabilly?
       I've always played with artists with many different styles. But Robert's show was always a great showcase for a guitar player. It keeps me on my toes.

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