I wanted to share a portion of this Article written by Barbara Shultz, December 1, 2002 because Marty is still a good friend of mine and I was honored to work with Johnnie in his Hendersonville studio when I became
an A Team session player in the early 70s.
I always covered for Little Richard on Piano and Organ if the key was uncomfortable for him.
"Kindred Spirit: A Tribute Album to Johnnie Cash"
...Hailey recorded many of the country artists on the album, including Dwight Yoakam, Hank Williams Jr., Charlie Robison, Steve Earle and Stuart. Two of the most distinctly noncountry sessions, however, took place in Los Angeles at The Village. Keb' Mo's Southern blues version of “Folsom Prison Blues” was recorded by Mark Johnson, and Little Richard's rock 'n' roll take on “Get Rhythm” was engineered by Claude Achille, whose diverse decade-and-a-half of experience includes sessions with artists such as James Cleveland, Fiona Apple, Ice Cube and Mariah Carey.
“We just went for it like they did in the old days,” Achille says. “Let's not worry about pitch correction and making it sound like a perfect record. Let's get the feel of this, which is what Marty was looking for. Let Richard do his thing, which is always great.”
“Get Rhythm” was captured during one fast six-hour day, with the legendary star determining much of the arrangement's shape. “As Little Richard played the piano runs, he would definitely say, ‘I'm going to do that there,’ or ‘Don't crowd me there,’ but they were great musicians, and they could edit themselves — listen to his playing and his vocal and play around that.”
Achille set up the musicians in the Village's Neve 8048-equipped A room, with Little Richard on the right side of the main room. To his left and facing him was drummer John Ferraro, who was surrounded by Plexiglas gobos. Electric guitarist Stuart was situated behind Little Richard, and next to him was bassist Jesse Boyce. Guitar, bass and drums were recorded first, with Little Richard doing scratch versions of his piano and vocal parts. The next recorded parts were piano, Jesse Boyce's double-duty on organ and Plas Johnson's sax. Then, it was Little Richard's incendiary vocal — undiminished by time — recorded to a U47 through a UREI 1176, to the Studer A800 out in the middle of the studio. “It was determined that we would only use two tracks to do vocals,” Achille explains. “So we did one, we did another one, and then we went over the first one — only three takes. We didn't want to overdo it and lose that rawness, that energy.”
Stuart says that when he played the finished album for him, Johnny Cash “was really taken by Little Richard, who is the only person in the lineup who was a contemporary of Johnny Cash. I didn't know Little Richard [before this project], but I was a fan, and my instinct told me that Little Richard would absolutely get it. I wanted to give him a song that he could absolutely tear alive, and we made some real rock 'n' roll that night.”
“One of the good things about pushing up this record was that the character of the record absolutely wrapped around me, and it's a good reminder to people to just put up a few mics, let people rock and see what happens. You don't have to tweak and program and cut and paste till it's so perfect that you can't remember what you started with.”
“The thing that I walked away from this project with is the same thing that inspired me when I was five years old,” says Stuart. “Johnny Cash is a fearless kind of artist, and I walked away from this rededicating myself to being a fearless artist, being true to what God gave me in my heart to play and sing, and I think it makes us more pure artists if we take our cues from masters like John. God gave him a powerful gift. Let it rip. It's for the rest of the world to enjoy. We can only stand and marvel at it.”