robert gordon at the fast lane, march 14, 1979
by dale and joan shack oct.6, 2006
There was a small record label named Private Stock records that had the great foresight to sign a guy named Robert Gordon. A friend of mine named Rob Roth owned a record store named Vintage Vinyl in Irvington, NJ. I used to go in and we’d talk about new releases and he’s play me new singles. Well, he played Red Hot for me and I was hooked.
Then the strange 12” Single of Endless Sleep and The Fool came out and I was totally blown away. I am a big Elvis fan, but I, like Robert and Arjan, like many types of music. Having loved Elvis’ Elvis Country album and especially his take on The Fool, when I heard Robert Gordon I knew a major star had arrived. This was 1977 and the Album Robert Gordon with Link Wray was released. Unbelievable, Sun records was back, rockabilly, country, and not as most people thought an Elvis clone.
Robert was doing and living this music before Elvis died. Fresh Fish Special came out and for me and my girlfriend, now wife Joan, we had a new favorite singer playing local clubs…so it was time to catch up with Robert.
I guess it was early 1978 and we heard Robert was playing in a small, real small club, in north New Jersey, I think it was in the Randolph township area. Anyway I brought along some records just in case. The show totally blew us away. Richard Gottherer, Roberts manager at the time, saw me with the records and asked if I’d like meet Robert and get some autographs.
I was really surprised how nice Robert was off stage, here he is just having worked himself so hard, and he takes some time to speak with me and autograph my records. If you’re reading this and happen to be in Europe anywhere near where Robert is playing – go,go,go…you won’t be sorry. He is not to be missed.
at the fast lane
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After that Robert started playing in the town I had lived in for a long time, Asbury Park, NJ. We saw him in a few clubs, but the most memorable was at The Fast Lane, in Asbury Park. When Fire was out as a single, I thought this had to become a number one record, then The Pointer Sisters did it… Even if Elvis had lived to record Fire, I really don’t think he would have managed to do it as well as Robert, it would have been good, but Robert owns that song. Fire is one of my wife’s two favorite songs. We brought some friends of ours to the show and when the show got going it wasn’t long before people were standing on tables. I brought along the singles of The Way I Walk/Sea Cruise, Fire/If This Is Wrong, It’s Only Make Believe/Rock Billy Boogie plus the Rock Billy Boogie album. When I was a kid I loved Jack Scott, and Johnny Burnette, Robert is the only person I’ve ever heard that surpassed their original performances – and I truly mean that with all due respect to those artists, but Robert is that good.
I remember reading somewhere that Conway Twitty had complimented Robert on his version of “It’s Only Make Believe”. Roberts performance on the record is amazing, but live it’s overwhelming, that night at the Fast Lane I thought the girls were going to pass out. So again a person sees me with records and starts speaking with me. It was Gary Tallent, Bass player in the E-Street Band. He and I were having a beer together and the opening to Fire starts and Robert invites Bruce up on stage. What a blast. My wife did not like it when Bruce was singing, she just wanted to hear Robert sing, and they sang the hell out of the song. Chris Spedding was absolutely amazing on guitar.
The band was hot! After the show Gary took my future wife and I back into a small office where we met with Robert and Chris, Bruce was sitting up on a filing cabinet I said hi to him, as I’d seen him around the area for a long time, I don’t know Bruce other than to recognize each other from his early shows in small clubs at the Jersey Shore. But he is as friendly and nice as he seems, very down to earth guy. Robert and Chris were tired, but again took the time to talk to us and autograph records. I have missed seeing Robert for so long…if you get a chance to see him don’t miss it, and you also get to see one of the best truly legendary guitarists in history, Chris is not to be missed. Thank you to Arjan for letting me write this, and thank you RG for more enjoyment than you’ll ever know you’ve given someone. I wish you and Chris great success on your tour, and thank you Chris for all the albums I own that you have added your magic touch to.
You know I was telling Arjan that I had a chance to meet Elvis in 1967 and I didn’t get to meet him. I’m glad I didn’t make that mistake here. Robert, meeting you was great…all the best, come visit us in Florida, it seems most of New York is moving here. There is an audience here.