Who have they played with?
Big Bill has played with all the people you see here and then some.
names will be listed first and then next to it who they have played with.
Big Bill has played/performed and or Jammed with................
( Muddy Waters , Little Walter , Sonny Boy Williamson , Otis Rush , Otis Span , John Lee Hooker , Magic Sam , Willie Dixon , Howling Wolf , Elvin Bishop , and soooooooooo many more this man was my biggest influence and inspired me every time I heard him play.And I was lucky enough too have heard him while actually playing in his band.
These are some of the people I have played with over the years. I know I haven't listed them all and so to those of you that I forgot to mention, please e-mail me and I will add your name to this list. Again my sincere apologies in advance.
If you see a * next to a name on this page it means that that person is on the CD.
Big Brother and the Holding Company ( Janis Joplin's first band on her way to stardom) I truly believe that had it not been for this group of guy's the name Janis Joplin would not have become a household name as it was in the sixties.I had the great pleasure of working with Sam Andrew in his own band and then getting invited to play with his mainstay band Big Brother. Sam and the fellows asked if I would play a couple of tunes with them at a concert that they were playing in Santa Rosa and I agreed. It was a gas to be on stage with a band that you and all your friends were idolizing as teenagers. Recently James Gurley long time founding band member and lead guitar player quit the band. I was mentioned by Dave Getz to be the replacement , but I never got the call so I guess maybe next time around if I am still alive in another 30 years. But seriously Sam Andrew and the band are and always will be some of my favorite people that I have ever played with and listened to over the years.You got to do what you love folks. Which coincidentally is the name of their new CD that you can look at if you scroll down on my home page. (6/23/2000 Big Bill is hired by Sam Andrew to play a concert with Big Brother in Oklahoma. Click here for the review.
Update) I was fortunate enough to tour with Big Brother this summer (2001) Flew across country twice and played in the band. Met lots of rock legends that I grew up listening to and had a ball! Thank you Big Brother for letting me play in the band as the replacement guitarist. I will never forget it! (More on this later.)
Harvey Mandel I met Harvey on Aug. 10th 2002 about an hour before we went on stage at the Shoreline amphitheater in the south bay area. Freddie Roulette my old friend and ex-band mate from the Luther Tucker Band is in a new band he and Harvey have formed called Night Fire. My gig at the Shoreline (main acts were BB King, George Thurogood, and The Fabulous Thunderbirds) was simply being called Bill Ganaye and friends and was a very relaxed set of material that didn't need a rehearsal. Freddie agreed to play the gig with me and then said Harvey mentioned he would like to come and check it out, could I get him tickets for he and his lady. I went a step further and said why don't you ask him to come and sit in. I honestly didn't know until the day of the gig if Harvey would sit in or not. Well folks, I'm happy to say that not only did he sit in he played the entire gig with us. Thank you Harvey. Also on the gig was Snooky Flowers on Sax, Evan Palmerston on Bass, Bruce Brymer on drums, Rick Keesee guitar and Jeff Piche on harmonica. Also sitting in for one song was Ryan Tatarian vocals (he also plays keys but didn't on this gig).
Norton Buffalo Had a hit Desert Horizons in the 70's. I once saw him back in the day when his hit was hot! I was living up in South Lake Tahoe and I and a few close friends (band members) went to Harrah's to see the band. I will never forget the way they opened the show with this single note chord that went on for a full minute while the stage curtain was being lifted. It was awesome. Well, after the show Norton came out to the bar just outside the performance area and hung out with us for a while. I was impressed by his down to earth attitude and willingness to be on a human level with the rest of us. Any how, as you may know we live in the same town. I had tried countless times to get Norton to come and sit in at my Sunday blues jam without success. Finally, years later. Tommy Thompson (The new king of western swing) called me and asked if I would play a benefit with he and Norton. I agreed immediately. On the gig Norton was sitting down in a chair. I had a chair too just stage right of him. I took a solo on one of the tunes we played and after I went to sit back down Norton reached across to me to shake my hand and said genuinely, wow, that was awesome, or something like that. In other words, I didn't suck! I passed the Norton test! Also that night on keys was John Alair. Famous boogie woogie pianist extraordinaire.
Tommy Thompson... I first met Tommy here in the Valley of the Moon many moons ago (sorry, couldn't resist) he came to see me play at the Cotati Jazz Festival as a guest of Peter Welker who was playing trumpet in my band that day. Later on in the Summer Tommy called and asked if I would sit in with him on stage at the Glen Ellen Fair where I live. Tommy lives a couple of miles away in Sonoma. I did and it was a blast. I played with Tommy one more time when he invited me to play the benefit described above in the Norton Buffalo section. Tommy is the real deal when it comes to Western Swing!
Jimmie Rivers One of the best Country Swing guitarists of all time. I was dating Lucy Rivers, Jimmie's daughter back around 1990 and had the pleasure to meet Jimmie and hang out with him a few times. One Sunday I took my daughter Chelsea to see Jimmie play at a seafood restaurant in Placerville CA. near Jimmie's home. He was nice enough to ask me to sit in with the band and play a little blues. This guy is so far above me as a player it was like having God ask me to sit next to him. I played my best and Jimmie was a nice enough guy to let me play a couple tunes with him that day. And he even complimented me on my style. Thanks Jimmie! I'll never forget it.
Rich Kirch (Guitarist for John Lee Hooker over a decade right to the end) I met Rich when I was with Luther Tucker. Rich and I have played dozens of gigs together over the years. He has been a close friend and confidant. What can I say about this extraordinary talent. I guess I will just say what the Hook said. "Rich gets it, he just gets it"
Evan Palmerston (bassist for Elvin Bishop for years) The first time I played with Evan was at the Shoreline amphitheater. I called my friend Kyle Saint John at his work (Tall Toad Music) to see if he could play the Shoreline and he said he could not as he had school finals coming up. So we ended the conversation politely and I went on about the business of finding a bassist. About 2 minutes later Evan Palmerston calls me up and tells me he gives bass lessons at Tall Toad and Kyle told him about the gig. He agreed to play it. Great player and one of the nicest people you will ever meet.
Dave Getz ( Big Brother & the Holding Company) I just have to mention Dave Getz separately here . Dave is a dear friend and one of the nicest guys you could ever meet. His playing is powerful and expressive and he knows how to play with passion and gets so into the beat that sometimes I wonder if he is still in the same room with me. He just closes his eyes and go''s to that special place where music meets the Cosmo's and beats out the most rhythmic and wonderful sounds on his drums. I love playing with this cat he is one in a million. I think I'm gonna call him right now and see if he can play with me this sat. night at Down Town Joe's in Napa.
Peter Albin......( Big Brother & the Holding Company ) I want to also add Peter Albin here . Peter is the bass player in Big Brother and has been for over 30 years right from the beginning.Peter is a real nice guy. He helped to get me distribution for my CD. If it wasn't for Peter my CD would not be available on the net or in record stores around the country. The CD has had airplay on several radio stations around the country now. Thanks in part to Peter. Thank You , Peter Albin .
* Liam Hanrahan ( Zero , New Riders , Tiny Tim , Frankie Lee , Luther Tucker, and soooo many more !) Liam and I met shortly after I moved back to the bay area. We were both new to the scene in Marin County circa 1990 and after I met Luther Tucker and started going to his Wednesday night show at the Fourth street Tavern in San Rafael as a sit in guest , I heard the best Bass I had heard in a long time. It was none other than Liam (the gig ho) Hanrahan ! I say gig ho in the nicest way. Liam is a good friend and a frequent sideman if not a permanent fixture in the Cool Tones. Liam is in great demand these days for his masterful knowledge and great playing skills. Any band that he plays with can be sure to expect to sound better than ever because he is on the stage. He is also a fantastic Guitarist and could work just as much as he does on the Bass should he ever decide to go down that path . And I am sure that he will at some point in his young life. He is just that GOOD! Anyway I am privileged and honored to have known and played with such a talented musician . Remember his name. You will be hearing a lot from this future star.
Creek Hart ( The Grateful Dead & lots of other ones too!) Creek and I met through mutual friends (Snooky Flowers and Liam Hanrahan) and although I had never played with him before took a chance and hired him for the biggest gig of my front man career (New Years Eve at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in Sanfrancisco ) We rehearsed for only a couple of hours five hours or so before the show at Liam's San Rafael studio along with a keyboard player I had never played with before (Ben Jacobs) Well to make a long story short. Creek and Ben did not let me down. Creek was a fast learner and we played the gig without a hitch, and the audience loved the show.The guys played their hearts out and sounded better than I could have ever hoped for. Creek also turned out to be a real warm kind person and his lady Rachel is as lovely as a spring flower. I really enjoy having Creek on the gigs with me and lately he has been like Liam, a permanent member of the Cool Tones. I hope these guys don't get too famous too quick unless it's with me cause I would hate like hell to loose them. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I love these guy's as much for their good souls as I do for their talent. Thanks for the memories!
*Peter Welker ( Cold Blood , Joe Lewis Walker , Dr. John , Carlo's Santana , The Temptations , Earth Wind & Fire , Jerry Garcia , Areatha Franklin .........and too many more too list here. I met Peter at Studio E in Sebastapol Ca. Where we were both hired to play for a live show and video for Sam (Big Brother & the Holding Company) Andrew. We were both living in Sonoma and though we didn't know each other vowed to get together soon. I hosted a blues jam at the Valley of the Moon Saloon every Sunday in Sonoma and so Peter stopped in a couple of weeks later to sit in. It would be the first of many times that we have played together since. Peter is not only a good friend but has been a valuable asset in the producing of my CD and he arranged all the horn parts on it for practically nothing and was invaluable in recruiting some heavy weight side men as well as star players for the CD Fred Lipsius being a very special addition (THANK YOU PETER AND FRED) Peter has achieved the highest highs in his musical career but he has also been to the depths of emotional pain in his life as well. I am speaking now about his son Peachy who died at the tender age of 5 from leukemia. It took Peter a few years of therapy and immense heart ache to pull out of what is a parents greatest fear but he did it and is back strong and as whole as he can ever be again. My heart goes out to you Peter, you are too nice a cat too have had this happen in your life. Peter produced a CD and dedicated it to the memory of his son. The CD is called Para Peachy which means For Peachy in Spanish. I am not exactly sure where you can buy it but take my word, It is one of the best Jazz/Funk and soul albums to ever come out of a studio. Look for it and look back here in the future as I will be posting where and how to buy it on this site as soon as I know where to find it.
* Mark Naftalin ( John Lee Hooker , Michael Bloomfield ) Mark was on the famous east-west album with Bloomfield. Mark plays a few gigs a year with my band. Whenever his busy schedule permits , I am always pleased and extremely grateful to have Mark Naftalin on a show with me.
* Ron Thompson ( John Lee Hooker , Percy Mayfield , Etta James , Jimmy Reed , Luther Tucker , Mick Fleetwood , and the list keeps going . Ron and I go back to 1965 where we grew up in the east bay area south of Oakland Ca. in the city of Newark . We met in ( amazingly enough ) beginning band where we were both taking trumpet lessons. We didn't even know what blues was yet. Ron and I still get together once in a while but not as much as I would like. We are very close and Ron once told me that he considers me to be the brother that he never had. I feel the same way . We both have only one sister and no brothers , in fact his sister was (and mine still is) a hairdresser, and they worked together at my mother's beauty shop for a few years , so you can see that even our families were sort of close to one another when we were growing up. Love you Ron!
J.J. Malone ( JJ and I got together through Jill Baxter , Luther Tuckers widow (and side woman on harmonica for 13 years) A few years after Luther died . Jill started dating JJ and now they live together in Marin County and are very much in love. Jill and I have been friends for years and now JJ Malone and I are very good friends as well. Jill knows how to pick em as I have the same respect and admiration for JJ as I did for Luther . Luther was and JJ are , great blues players and wonderful warm loving people that you find rarely in life. I am lucky to be his friend as well as a player in his band from time to time. JJ has played with just about every famous blues musician that ever visited or lived in California , JJ is for sure one of California's most well known and respected blues men still playing the blues the way we all grew up listening too it.JJ has two new CD's out right now. The first one Highway99 is one of the best blues albums I have ever listened too. And I haven't heard the brand new one yet but if it's anything like Highway 99 , you will be in for a real treat.
Freddie Roulette (Earl Hooker, Luther Tucker, Harvey Mandel , Charlie Musslewhite) Freddie and I met while we were both playing for and with Luther Tucker. Freddie played with us (the cool tones) on the Bill Graham new years gig in 1998 and Freddie and I play a few gigs together every year. Always nice to play with one of the great masters of the blues and one of my best friends.
Sonny Rhodes .... I met Sonny a few times through JJ Malone. Whenever Sonny is in the Bay Area he visits JJ at the fifth amendment a small blues club downtown Oakland. I have been Lucky enough to have been playing with JJ on a couple of occasions when Sonny has come down to the club to visit his old friend and sit in on the gig.
Francis Clay ( Muddy Waters , Duke Ellington and more...........) Same story as above except that I had also met Francis about 1990 when I first started playing with Luther Tucker and I remember he had a bad hip and had a replacement or something and he couldn't get up the stair's at Luther's and Jill's San Anselmo apartment so I had to pick him up and carry him up the stairs.That was my first meeting with the legendary drummer Francis Clay. He too is a very warm and caring person and I have been blessed to have met and played with a man who has had such a big part in the history of roots music in America .
Frankie Lee ..... Again through JJ Malone I get to play with another star at the fifth amendment. JJ was sick and asked me to do his weekly show at the fifth amendment . Frankie came in to see JJ and to his disappointment learned that JJ was ill and would not be there. After a little coaxing from me and the audience Frankie got up on stage with us and said " Let's do a funk thing and just stay on the one" so I started out the tune with a rhythmic James Brown kind of feel and Frankie took over , WOW ! man he brought the house down. What a talent.!
Elvin Bishop .... I have played only twice with Elvin . Both times were when he would come to where Luther Tucker was playing and I was playing bass back then so I got to back the two of them together. It was great. I will never forget the one time Elvin showed up at the forth street tavern in San Rafael and they were jamming so good and hard that they both broke a string at almost the same time. And they were fiercely winding there tuners like soldiers on a battlefield reloading as fast as they could to get back into the fight. It was a sight to behold.
Mickey Shine....(Elvis Costello and others) Mickey and I first got together around 1992. I believe it was a a gig at Peri's Silver Dollar a real small club in Fairfax Ca. a town that has 3 clubs all on the same block almost right next to one another. I don't remember if I was playing with Luther Tucker when we met or if I had my own band, but it wasn't long before Mickey and I made our acquaintance and became fast friends.Mickey and I got together from time to time and would just jam whatever felt good. He was / is a remarkable talented drummer and he has another gift which I feel he is just as talented at, and that is the beautiful art that he paints. And wouldn't you know all the art I have seen so far is music oriented. Mickey is good friends with Tom ? The English drummer with Johnny Winter, who I was lucky enough (thanks to Mickey) to have had sit in with me at a gig I was playing at the fourth street tavern in San Rafael. Mickey moved to Pa. about 5 or 6 years ago and we lost touch until this week 6-15-99, thanks to the internet. Nice to hear from you again Mickey.Let's keep in touch this time bro.
Ricardo Scales ...... Fifth Amendment again. This guy can play the keys like nobody I have ever heard . Was going to get him to play a gig with me but I lost the bar napkin that he wrote his number on that night. DAMN!!! And the man can sing too ! Awesome talent watch out for this one.
Tommy Castro.........I don't know who Tommy had played with before I played with him , he was at the start of his rise to fame the one and only time I played with him. It was at Lou's Pier 47 a blues club above a restaurant on Sanfancisco's famous fisherman's wharf. He and Johnny Nitro came into the club to sit in and lend their support for a benefit for Luther Tucker after to help raise money to send his body back to Chicago so that he could be buried next to his mother as he had wished. So anyway I remember Tommy telling the audience , I never met Luther but I love his music and just wanted to do what ever I could to help out. I thought that was a real nice thing for him to say. Until I read an interview where he was asked if he had indeed ever played with Luther Tucker. He said that he had but that it was at some little dive in San Rafael where he sat in with Luther. ( How can you have played with someone you never met?) I can't figure this one out, but I'm sure there is a good excuse in Tommy's story somewhere. No one I know can ever remember seeing Tommy Castro at one of Tuck's sessions , I rest my case. Bad juju man!
Papa Bo ( The Drifters) I had a weekly blues jam for a few years in Sonoma California at the Valley of the Moon Saloon. One Sunday evening I was playing my jam when a few older gentlemen came into the bar with a women who I recognized as living across the street. She introduced the men to me as being the drifters and that they had just finished playing the Santa Rosa County Fair. The fellows that I had sitting in with me that night were all big fans and knew all the tunes the guy's called out and so the Valley of the Moon Saloon in Sonoma had the Drifters for free for about an hour. And once again I got too play with some big big stars.One of the girls told me that while I was playing after the Drifters had finished that Papa Bo leaned over to her and said in her ear while pointing to me " that boy is a real player , that boy can play" I will always treasure that compliment even though it was second hand .
Peter Walsh ( Commander Cody , The Hoo Doo Rhythm Dare Devils ) Peter Walsh , ah what can I say about Peter Walsh , this guy is a walking cartoon , such a character and funny man and a real human being and one of the greatest singer / guitar players and entertainers on the planet. I met Peter through Liam Hanrahan when Liam told me to come down to the Sweetwater Bar in Mill Valley Ca. and he would get me to sit in with Peter, I could not pass up the chance to play with a guy I had admired for years. I went to the club and waited and waited until the last set . Feeling kind of stupid with my big guitar case next to me with no invite yet. But I stayed and was prepared to wait as long as it took. Well after the first song in the last set Peter invited me up. We played runaway a Dell Shannon tune made famous again by Bonnie Rait on one of her early records. Then we broke into some blues shuffle and he gave me a solo , I burned on the solo and the crowd went crazy with applause and made me feel real good . But what made me feel the best was when Peter looked over at me and said ooooooooo man your good , then he went and got me a chair and said sit ! And I got to finish the night out with him. I didn't see Peter for a few years after that until I was at Dave Getz birthday party about 10 months ago or so ( early 1998 ) and I gave him one of my CD's . He called me up with compliments that I could tell were genuine . Anyway Peter and I have played a handful of gigs together since and what a thrill for me to be on the same stage with such a powerful and entertaining player. I learn something new every time I am lucky enough to play with him.
Bruce Day (Pablo Cruise) Bruce and I got to know each other through Luther Tucker. Somehow Luther and Bruce got together and Luther hired Bruce to play in his band. I played with Luther on Guitar from time to time when ever he felt he needed another guitar player.I used to play the bass for Luther when I first started in the Luther Tucker band but after about a year and a half I had to quit the band because Jill (Luther's lady and harmonica player) and I were not getting along .( a problem that was a pattern with band members who joined ) I quit the band but I kept up my friendship with the two of them despite our (Jill and I) musical differences and after a few short months Luther began hiring me to play second (rhythm) guitar in the band . He would give me a lot of rope and let me burn a few solo's during the set too. But not enough rope to hang myself. He always made sure to keep a leash on you so that you wouldn't stray too far off into the abyss while soloing. Anyway Bruce played with Luther right up until his Luther died . In fact it was Bruce that took Luther to the hospital the day before Luther had the huge heart attack that killed him a couple of days after. The hospital told Luther to go home and take some medicine that he would be ok. Luther did not have medical insurance . You can guess why they told him to go home and die RIGHT!!!Well Bruce and I finished out all of the gigs that Luther and he had booked and I got to play at" Blues for Luther " a benefit put on by Slim's a popular large nightclub in Sanfrancisco. See my bio page.Bruce and I have remained friends. Today Bruce is managing a large music store in Cotati Ca.
Sadly I have to report that Bruce Day has passed away in 1998. He was a good friend and an excellent musician. He will be greatly missed and fondly remembered.
Dave Jenkins ( Pablo Cruise ) I met Dave through Bruce as they were band in the famous Pablo Cruise in the seventies. We played at the Domaine Chandon Winery in Napa as the final Luther Tucker Memorial Band gig . Though Bruce and I played a few gigs after that together.
Ray White ( Frank Zappa ) I met Ray through Bruce as well and played with him at a small club that Bruce was playing at once a week in Santa Rosa "John Barleycorn's" Ray and I traded licks all night and had a good time trying to comp each others styles. Nice cat.
* Snooky Flowers ( Janis Joplin's Kozmic Blues Band ) Snooky and I met at Stan Markum's ( Santana's manager through their first five albums) House warming party. Luther Tucker was there and I met Stan through Luther and then Stan was trying to put a band the "Chase Street Band" together around that time and I tried it out for a while but the pay was meager and the players were mediocre so I had to leave .It wasn't until a year later that I met Snooky again. I was playing with Sam Andrew (Big Brother & the Holding Company) who I met while jamming at a friends studio in Sausalito Ca. We were playing at Horizon's a swank Restaurant and bar in downtown Sausalito and Snooky was on Baritone Sax . Snooky gave me his number and I began booking and using Snooky on every gig for about the next 5 years. We had a ball playing together and made what I thought was some of the most fun music I had ever played. Snooky has a heart of gold and an attitude that says" oh yeah ! Come on now dontcha be messin " Fun guy and he loves to cook and fish when he isn't playing .He also is into computers and lapidary (rocks) as a side hobby. Snooky is also the band leader for Jimmy McCraclin (not sure how to spell will check back on this ).So any way Snooky and I don't play together as much as we used to but then I have been staying kind of low and not taking too many gigs these day's. I need a break every now and then.
Jerry Miller ( Moby Grape ) I met Jerry through Sam Andrew when we were playing at Rosies Down Under a basement club in Redwood City Ca. Jerry asked if I wanted to come and sit in with him the following weekend at the Miramar beach Inn in Half-moon Bay Ca. so I agreed and showed up at the prescribed time. To my surprise he had Tyran Porter on the Bass from the Doobie Brothers , I wish I could Remember the name of the drummer but he was a great player too. After the first tune the audience gave there approval and so Jerry had me play out the night with him. Have only seen and talked with this guitar virtuoso a few times since.
Peter Tork ( The Monkeys ) I first met Peter at 19 Broadway , a tiny club in the cool little Main County town of Fairfax Ca. I went to the Chuck Day Monday night jam to play with whoever might show up and Peter Tork was there . So we didn't jam that night but I ended up showing him some Albert King riffs off stage after he heard me play. It was about a year later that Sam Andrew had booked us a gig at the Western Saloon in Pt. Reys Ca. that I got to play with Peter Tork . I was never a big Monkeys fan but my little sister was way back when , so when I told her that I played with Peter Tork she was so excited and mad because I didn't tell her. But the truth is I didn't even know that Peter was going to be there that night. I was impressed by how serious and hard Peter tried to play his best. His vocals were good and he was very aware and energetic about his role in the band that night.He played mostly Rhythm guitar. But busted out on a couple of leads that were surprisingly good. Way to go Peter.
Raymond Victor ..... I played with Raymond for about a year or so a few years back and almost forgot to add him here , until I got an e-mail reply from Mary Roby (World Talent Records) and I went to the web site and found sound clips of Raymond playing and singing with Forrest ( an old friend and colleague of Raymond's ) on Forrest's new CD "Forrest on fire". Raymond is a great singer and a real blues piano player. I loved playing guitar with him.
Check back here in the future to see who else I forgot . And if you know me you know I forgot. My Apologies