5 min
5 May
2017

D.R. Hooker

It will be very unlikely that you are going to get a hold on an original copy of D.R. Hooker’s album The Truth. This privately pressed – often described as psych/folk – album only counts 99 copies and is heavily sought after. Of course people bootlegged and reissued the shit out of it and you can easily find on of these editions, for example on the belgium label Veals & Geeks. Anyway, I’m not the first person to be interested in the mysterious aura that surrounds this gem. The Guardian featured it in their ’101 strangest records on Spotify’ and Vinyl Me, Please also featured this album in their “”Lost” album of the week” section. Nice reads, though I was still curious to hear the story from someone involved in the making of this nice piece of music. I spoke to bass player George Sheck (who also played bass with Edgar Winter’s White Trash) and percussionist/vibraphonist Ken Lovelett about their memories and experiences concerning The Truth.

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KEN LOVELETT, PERCUSSIONS/VIBES

How did you end up playing on this record?

DR asked me to.

How did you guys know each other? What are your memories of making that record.

I was working at a music store that he frequented. The owner must have told him about me. I got back from Memphis, where I was part of a rhythm section called the Dixie Flyers, and when I got back continued to teach there. I didn’t like Memphis much at that time because of all the riots, so I came back to NY. DR, as I recall, told me he was working on an album and asked me to play in it with them. He had George Sheck, from the Edgar Winter band, on bass, Haywood Sheck on drums and the rest of the people listed on the back of the album. I decided to play vibes and conga as well as other percussion instruments. We rehearsed at his mother’s house in the basement as I recall and later went into a studio, I think it was called Scolvill Sound or something or other, and put down the tracks. I had no Idea of the impact that album would have. I started getting calls in the 80″s from different people around the world to purchase one on the albums that I had. I finally gave in a couple of years ago and sold one of the albums that I had to a guy from Belgium.

I still wonder, why such a limited amount of 99 copies back then? Was that – for example – from an artistic perspective or was there not enough budget?

Probably not enough budget.

Did you guys ever perform somewhere?

No, at least I didn’t. The band was put together for this album specifically.

Alright, did – or do – you like the album yourself?

It’s hard not to like something that has garnered so much recognition. The fidelity for the time was very good and I enjoyed doing the project.

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GEORGE SHECK, BASS

Let me tell you my story and I will answer questions. I’m a bass player with 50 years experience. From 1965 on I played with a variety of music groups. From a beach boy cover band to jazz rock horn bands. In 1969 I landed a big job playing in Edgar Winter’s White Trash Band. We recorded an album in the Columbia Records studio. We toured extensively with the Best Bands of the day: Allman Brothers, J Geils, The Band, BB King, ELP, Tull, Airplane, Mountain, and many more. After the group disbanded, l spend time in LA and New York with other projects and recording opportunities. In the early 70s my brother drummer Haywood Sheck asked if I could play on a record DR Hooker was making. We both went to school with DR. He had a very unique, different, talent. I think he was decades ahead of his time with Jesus/Christian message songs with psychedelic distorted guitar solos. I recorded the basic tracks with DR and Haywood and percussionist Ken Lovelett. Then we added the best local musicians to add the background parts. We spent 2 months of long sessions and mixing marathons till the album was done. Everyone donated their time to the project and in a few months the album was printed. We never played again. In the early 2000s Haywood told me that he was contacted by someone in Europe saying the The Truth was a big hit decades of years after it was recorded. I found a copy in my attic and listened to it for the first time in 30 years. I was amazed how well it sounded. The 4 track recorder was so primitive and the bounce down mixing of the very complex background of brass, strings and choir could have impressed George Martin. This year I found out that DR passed on. Haywood also passed last year. I moved to South Carolina 12 years ago still playing music of many styles.

What was DR’s real of full name?

It was a long time ago but his first name might have been Donald?

Why was there such a limited amount of copies printed at the time? Apparently only 99 copies?

He lived with his mother and wasn’t the working type. He probably couldn’t afford more than 99 at a time.

Did you guys ever perform outside of the studio?

He was a unusual guy. There were times that the band was more interested in making a good recording than he was. I heard that sometime after the recording he had a group that performed live but not with the musicians on the recording. Haywood was my younger brother an knew him more than I did.

So just some other small things I wondered…was Donald really a religious guy? And it also implied he was a heavy user of alcohol and drugs. I figured these things are all being said based upon analyses of the lyrics. What do you remember about this?

At that point in time I believe he thought he was religious. A Jehovah’s Witness I recall but I’m not 100% at that. Drugs and Alcohol would not surprise me at all.

Check out some of George Sheck’s other bass playing recordings below, lovely stuff!

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