Sunday Jan 11 2009
Saying it in song
By: Bruce Warren, Journal Staff Writer
Rockabilly artist has been wowing since the ’50s
He’s 74, but sings like a 24-year-old. Patty Wilson was watching when Al Hendrix wowed a Club Car crowd on Lincoln Way in Downtown Auburn with his singing Wednesday night. “He’s amazing,” Wilson said. “He’s more than just good. He’s great. He has an energy that gets people up and dancing. I think the world is blessed to have him.” The band, Double Shots, a regular at the Club Car for the past five years, invited Hendrix to perform a few songs with them and he proved he can still sing. What’s amazing now is the sound of Hendrix’s voice. It’s still strong and clear. At times, it’s actually reminiscent of Elvis Presley, especially when he sings his own song “My Love For You,” which will be on his new CD. “The women had their mouths open,” said Wilson, when Hendrix sang an Elvis song at the Club Car. “I got up there and showed those two young guys how to do it,” Hendrix said Friday, about his Club Car performance. Hendrix was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in Nashville last April, he said. During the 1950s, he did some recording with ABC Paramount and Liberty Records with his group Jolly Jody and the “Go Daddies.” In 1956, Hendrix was playing guitar and singing with Buck Owens in Bakersfield, Calif. Hendrix just signed a contract with CBUJ in Nashville, a company that promotes independent singers on the Internet, he said. He switched to CBUJ because he was not getting anywhere with the company CD Baby, he said. Hendrix’s 10-song CD, “Rocking & Loving,” is expected out in March. Jimi Accardi, an accomplished guitar player, produced some fine guitar, drum and keyboard tracks for the CD at his Penn Valley recording studio, called “The Hit House.” “There are different songs on the CD that I wrote for ABC Paramount and Liberty Records,” Hendrix said. During the interview, Hendrix played a few cuts from a demo CD, including a romantic ballad called “My Perfect Love,” which he wrote 52 years ago in Bakersfield, he said. One line from the song goes, “There will never be a girl like you.” Three other songs written and performed by Hendrix are “Make My Dreams Come True,” “Crazy Lovin” and “Gimme, Gimme All Your Loving.” But the real kicker is a song called “Monkey Bite.” It is a high-energy, Country Western-type song similar to something Billy Ray Cyrus would record. It’s amazing to hear Hendrix at his age singing this song. It’s almost as if you flipped your radio dial to your favorite Country Western station. Hendrix moved to Auburn in 1978, after living in Ontario, Calif. He never imagined he would still be singing at 74. “With the music and lifestyle I was living, I thought I’d never make it to 40,” Hendrix said. “I stayed away from the booze and drugs. But Merle Haggard told me it’s the women that will kill you.” Maybe the steady marriage with his wife Laraine for the past 43 years has been part of his secret to longevity. She’s still working for Placer County in an office job. “She’s been my biggest supporter,” Hendrix said. The Journal’s Bruce Warren can be reached at email@example.com, or comment online at Auburnjournal.com.