Recently I got fascinated by a record some friends presented me. It was a 12″ reissue of the – originally on 7″ – Junei record You Must Go On/Let’s Ride. I immediately decided these jams were beautiful and needed more attention. I contacted Junei to ask him some questions about this awesome piece of music, only to find out the record is just a small part of his fascinating story.
Do you remember what music got you going as a kid? Was there a specific sound you were into?
I remember being fascinated by just the sound of any type of music as a young child. I believe I was 5 years old and the year was 1959. As I remember, there was a local radio station in Gary, Indiana called WWCA that I would listen to each night until bedtime. However, there was only one song that I truly loved that became my all time favorite song to this very day. It was called “I Only Have Eyes For You” by The Flamingos.
As I grew older, I leaned more towards Rock & Roll. That’s what really turned me on! Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles etc…
I actually love that Flamingos jam as well. What triggered your decision to pick up an instrument yourself? When was this?
When I was about 10 years old, my father bought my older brother an acoustic guitar. He wasn’t too interested in it so whenever he would leave the house, I would pick it up and mess around with it. Soon afterwards, after catching me red handed… lol .., he decided to let me have it so I practiced on it all day long everyday. Overtime I could pick up songs that I would hear on the radio stations. The first song I remember learning was by Jimmy Reed. I was also fascinated by Jose Feliciano’s song called “Light My Fire.” But the one thing that really made my mind up that the guitar was going to be my thing was when I saw Jimi Hendrix on the Ed Sullivan Show here in the USA one night! Man, he really blew my mind! And from that point on I learned everything that I could get my hands on by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Soon after that, I discovered Carlos Santana. I had never heard emotions like Santana come from a guitar! So from that point in my life , my two guitar heroes became Jimi Hendrix and Carlos Santana.
So just to recap, after seeing Jimi Hendrix that was the moment I decided that’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my life!
So what happened next? What happened in the high school years? Did you form a band?
I continued to practice every day for several hours. I listened to and taught myself everything thing I could within my skill level.
On Christmas morning in 1967, my father got me my first electric guitar and amplifier. He probably spent every bit of about $50 bucks total for them both. Lol… That was the happiest day of my life! The guitar was manufactured by a company named “Norma” and the amplifier was by “Tiesco.” … Man, I was on top of the world!!! …. The amplifier was equipped with reverb and tremolo! I began experimenting with tones and effects. I soon discovered the “fuzz & wah wah pedals” and incorporated them into my style of playing.
By my 7th grade school year, I began practicing with a neighborhood friend and classmate whom I had convinced to learn the bass guitar. His parents ran a local business called “Blue’s Record Shop” specializing in 45′s & vinyl Lps. We learned the current song releases as soon as they were available. We got pretty tight overvtime. It wasn’t long before we found a drummer who was also a fellow classmate. We practiced after school as often as possible. Before our trio broke up, we were hired to play our first and only paid performance for our schools 8th grade “May Dance Event.” We were an instant hit with the crowd! And that was the beginning of my live performance career.
After we dis-banded, I continued practicing daily spending long hours perfecting my guitar and piano skills.
I couldn’t read but I managed to play anything I heard. No matter how complexed, I could figure it out. I knew the names of the strings because it was printed on the string packaging! Lol….
Also during my 8th grade year, I wanted to play in the schools band. The year was 1969. However, I didn’t desire playing any of the conventional instruments. I wanted to play my guitar and I made it known to the band instructor who laughed in my face at the idea in which she thought was totally unheard of. But I stood firmly on my request. She tried to talk me into playing the upright string bass, the bells and the tuba but I refused. Eventually she realized that I was serious so she sarcastically challenged me and said that if I could succesfully read a guitar chart of the song that the band was preparing for an upcoming event (Age of Aquarius by The 5th Demensions) she would secure me a spot in the schools band. So that same day, I ran home on my lunch hour and woke up my older brother who was an accomplished musician, songwriter. Within a half hour he taught me the staff, the notes, symbols and everything I needed to know to read a musical chart. I then ran back to school, auditioned and became the first guitarist to be accepted in the city’s school system. I eventually plated for the orchestra and the jazz bands til graduation in the 12th grade. I was awarded with certificates and presented a full paid scholarship to attend The Berklee School of Music.
Furing my earlier years, I remember watching a tv concert series called “Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert” in which I would watch the fingering techniques of various guitar players. It aired once a week and I never missed a show! Lol…
During that time, I was playing multiple genre’s ranging from rock & roll, blues, R&B, jazz, folk, gospel, reggae and anything else I could get my hands on!
I formed several trio’s and bands trough the years from 1968 – 1971, 1977 – 80′s.
My favorite bands were “Lightship, The Galaxy Band & The Lostweekend.
Just a side note, this one – The Bridge Of Love – has been sampled by Tyler The Creator on Colossus
B-side to the Lost Weekend’s second 7″ Trouble.
Did you record any stuff with Lightship or The Galaxy Band?
Unfortunately, there were no recordings made with the Galaxy Band nor Lightship. We were strictly a show band.
Did you enter The Berklee School Of Music? How did your music career develop after high school?
Although I was awarded a full scholarship to attend Berklee, I was talked out of attending by my brother who at the time was the leader of The Lostweekend. I was young and didn’t realize the importance of moving forward with my education. I regret it sometimes when I think about it.
Regretting pasttime decisions….happens to me aswell sometimes (I quit university before graduating). I can only judge you through your music and your music is awesome. Doing some research I stumbled upon this release, Bernard Walker – My Lover/Sexy Thang (1988), which says ‘produced by Junei’. Unfortunately I can’t find any soundclip of the track, which brings me to two or actually three questions. Is this you and do you happen to have a soundclip or snippet? Did you do more work producing/arranging records for others artists?
Well, I do regret not moving forward with my education in regards to the scholarship that was presented to me upon high school graduation. Hopefully one day in the future I’ll pursue a degree in the arts.
Yes it’s me. I worked on a couple of studio projects with Bernard Walker. I produced, recorded & layer down the instruments on his My Lover & B-side 45′ single. I have a sound clip. I just have to locate it. I’ve done work with many artist over the years.
So I found out about your work because a friend of mine had bought the PPU reissue of Let’s Ride/You Must Go On. A popular record amongst collectors and boogie heads (I think an original copy goes for around 200 bucks). Do you remember how the record did back then? Could you tell me some things about this particular release….like how it was made or what inspired you?
Yes, the Pharoah Record 45′ vinyl initial release did extremely well in the U.K. It made it to the top ten in Europe. Since then, it’s been re-issued twice. (Boogie Times, PPU) and I continue to get offers from other independent labels. “Let’s Ride” is on several compilation releases.
The original 45′ single has been sold on www.discogs.com between $200-$750 each. I only certain saw it for sale by John Mansship Records out of Portland, Oregon for $2000….
The songs on this 45′ were just 2 of my many song projects from my 70s -80′s library. “You Must Go On” was inspired by a true story about a female whom I encountered after a performance one night. She had a fight with her male friend who left her there sitting alone and sad. I came over, asked permission to sit down and talked to her. A talk of encouragement of sorts…
Let’s Ride is an instrumental track that was simply inspired by my love of experimental jamming out. I love different against the grain stuff!
A good thing you did for that woman. Indirectly, her sorrow sort of resulted in making us boogie. Where are you now with your music?
Currently I’m choosing the tracks for my upcoming album release. It looks to be a 10-14 track project. It will be a combination of vocal & instrumental songs.
My entire career is dedicated to my deceased father who was my biggest fan as well as my support. He was there from the very beginning. He bought me my first electric Guitar when I was 11 years old. Throughout my entire career he was there encouraging & pushing me forward. Even after he was diagnosed with cancer that left him bed ridden, he continued supporting me. Our very last conversation was him making me promise to never give up my music career, and he died a few hours later.