THE MANY PHASES OF WILLIE MURPHY
He dishes on his various -- and very different -- musical incarnations:
THE VAL-DONS, NOBLES AND MORE
(early 1960s R&B bands)
"When I grew up, blues was just a part of rock 'n' roll. We always played a few blues songs, but we didn't call them that. It was just a part of the repertoire. There was a lot of R&B that was bluesy."
WITH JOHN KOERNER
"At first, it was just him and me flying around with a wad of bills in our pockets, running through the airport, stopping at the bar to get a few drinks in us, and running out on the tarmac just in time to catch the plane. But after we made the record, we had to have a van and a bunch of stuff, and a bass player and drummer. That's what disenchanted Koerner. Elektra wanted us to do a second album, but he didn't want to do it. I was OK with that, because I had it in my mind to come back here and put together a big band."
WILLIE & THE BEES
"The whole ethos of the Bees was, 'Drink, be wild, [expletive] success.' We had record people coming after us. I wouldn't talk to them, I was so arrogant."
PRODUCING BONNIE RAITT'S DEBUT
"Warner Bros. didn't like the idea of her coming out here and working with us, a bunch of fly-by-nights. The Hollywood record business is so nepotistic and stupid. Dave Ray had the studio equipment, and we finally found the place, Enchanted Isle, an old summer camp out on Lake Minnetonka.
"We just had a great time. We played every day for a week or two, just fooling around. Finally, Bonnie said, 'Don't you think we should start working?' It just came together after that.
"I made money off that album for years. Most of it went right up my nose."
"I decided I couldn't do the Bees anymore, I was tired of it. That's when I started playing solo piano and singing, which was more like a hobby to me, doing old rock 'n' roll and blues that way. That became my identity for a lot of people, and some of my best songs grew out of it."
"I still love doing the blues jam session every week. We just play. We don't think about what we're doing, hardly. There's never been a rehearsal."