Rocky's Road Back to Woodrow
As we mentioned yesterday, Dallas-born blues guitar great Rocky Hill will be buried today in Hopkins County, with a funeral beginning at 1 p.m. followed by a graveside service. Soon as we noted his death on Friday at the age of 62, Friend of Unfair Park LakeWWWooder sent us this photo of Hill at the Woodrow Wilson High School homecoming dance in 1964 -- guy could clearly get his groove on. The picture's from the 1965 Crusader yearbook.
This morning, I spoke with a familiar voice -- KTCK-AM's Mike Rhyner -- who actually played drums with Rocky a couple of times in the late 1960s and early 1970s. But the Hardline host had been a fan even longer: "The very first rock show I ever went to," he says, "they were the openers" -- they being American Blues, Rocky's band with baby bro Dusty and drummer "Little" Richard Harris. "The headliners were Eric Burdon and the Animals on a Sunday night at the Fair Park Music Hall in 1967," Rhyner says. "And, man, they were flat-out psychedelic. It was him, Dusty and Little Richard, and they had these big Marshall amps and had it turned up to the max -- it was so loud and so wild you couldn't make anything out of it."
After the jump, more of what's on Mike's mind, another Crusader photo of a Hill brother and a link to an extremely rare video of Rocky and Dusty attending the Class of 1967's reunion ... and talking about what little they can remember from those good ol' days.
A few years after that Music Hall show -- after American Blues had moved to Houston and Rocky quit the band -- Rhyner would find out when Rocky was in town and show up, kit in the trunk in case the guitarist needed a drummer.
"I was venturing out of the nurturing bosom of Oak Cliff and learning from older guys how to play," Rhyner says. "The first place I ran into him was the Cellar in downtown, but we played some other places as well. I kinda became a groupie. And it was great to play with him, because as far as I was concerned he was a very legit blues guy, and I hadn't grown up with that music." Rhyner doubts Rocky ever knew his name.
This morning, '67 Woodrow grad Kathy Kilmer Moak forward this link to Dusty and Rocky reminiscing about their wild days as Wildcats. Make sure you're at the Part 2-3 video, then jump ahead to the 9:10 mark. A rare treat.
And below you'll find another bonus item courtesy another proud Woodrow grad: a rockin' photo of Dusty, with whom Rocky also played in the Warlocks before Dusty hopped on a Moving Sidewalk to ZZ Top. (For those craving an acid flashback, Rhapsody offers this groovy compilation -- playable in full -- featuring rare Rocky and Dusty, as well as Billy Gibbons's first band.) Also pictured is Richard Harris, the brothers' longtime bandmate. Harris died in New Mexico in the mid-1990s. Notes LakeWWWooder, "I don't think I've ever seen Dusty without his beard!"
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Observer's biggest stories.