Bobby passed away
suddenly after a brief illness. It was a complete shock to everyone. The
world lost of the nicest guys ever, a unique and super talented
musician, and a loving family man. He was someone who I played music
with in many different scenarios over the years. When our children were
young, our two families hung out and shared some really good times.
The memories fade as we
grow older, but I thought I’d try and recall some of my adventures with
Bobby Wolf. I met Bob through Billy Ferrick at one of his jams when the
Ferrick’s still lived in west Glencoe. This was 1969. Back then Bobby
was playing mostly blues, and sounding a lot like Bloomfield, one of his
influences. Even back then Bobby was a very respected musician, and I
looked up to him a lot. He was doing things on the guitar that I only
dreamed of. An older jazz piano player by the name of Bob Arons would
show up and Bobby was the only one who could keep up with this guy. I
was like, “what are these guys doing?!”
It was common then for
someone to throw a jam party at their house, and Bobby and I played
together at a few of these. I formed a trio back then with Felix
Blackmon and Hamid Drake. We were doing mostly original songs and funk.
We played only 2 or 3 gigs, one a dance at Evanston High School. There
came a point when I started becoming more interested in blues, and I
spent most of my time down on the Southside and Westside , playing in
the blues clubs. My little trio wasn’t doing much, so Bobby asked if he
could use Hamid and Felix in his band with Ira Kart. Since I didn’t have
anything going, I said sure. I thought it very gentlemanly that he
asked…That band was a real sensation in Chicago, with people from all
around coming out to see Bobby, and this young kid Hamid, both virtuosos
on their instruments. I remember seeing them at Alice’s and I was blown
away. Before long, I noticed Felix and Hamid were playing with Fred
Anderson, and I’m not sure what happened with Kart-Wolf. Bobby really
shined as the front man for Kart-Wolf. He was sensational.
So Hannon and I were
doing the, ‘white boys in the black clubs’ routine, and Bobby would come
down and join us here and there. Bobby eventually ended up playing with
Mighty Joe Young for a time. Mark was initially playing with Magic Sam
for awhile, and when Sam died, Mark joined Dizz and I in Lefty Dizz And
The Chicago Fire. Bobby would hang out with us at Pepper’s on South
Michigan. Later, when Mark and I were gigging at Mr. Z’s, Bobby would
come by regularly, either as a band member, or to sit in.
In 1973, Hannon found a
house for rent in Northfield, right by New Trier West. He needed
roommates to be able to afford the rent, so bassist Felix Blackmon and I
moved in. We held a jam session in the basement of that house regularly.
These jams became legendary, and not just because of the wild parties,
but because the music was crazy good. Bobby was at a lot of these music
parties, and Fred Anderson, too. Fred would come up from Evanston with
his entourage of musicians, like the pied piper. These jams became a
thing where ‘blues meets jazz’ and I’ll never forget some of that music.
I was in over my head musically when Fred was there, but Bobby fit right
in. He was that bridge between jazz and blues. He could improvise on
anything. We all learned so much from those jams, and I believe it
became a reference point for most of us who were involved, particularly
Bobby. While the rest of us went on to pursue blues or R&B or whatever,
Bobby always retained that free jazz kind of mindset, where anything is
possible and where there are no boundaries to music.
Hannon then decided it
was time for him to have his own band again, and called upon Bobby,
Terry Dickerson, Felix Blackmon and me. Hannon landed a regular gig at
the old Kingston Mines (on Lincoln), and we played there every Tuesday
night. You’d be amazed at how many people came in just to see Bobby
Wolf. By then he had taken his ‘Bloomfield thing’ and injected it with
jazz licks and jazz chords. It was kind of revolutionary at the time. He
had honed this style in Kart-Wolf, but Kart-Wolf wasn’t really a blues
band. Now, with Hannon, Bobby brought to bear his more refined style in
a blues band format. This is right around the time Robben Ford was
starting to inject blues with jazz licks and chords, but I can’t think
of anyone else who was pulling that off back then. Just Robben Ford and
Bobby Wolf. And frankly, what Bobby was trying to do was much deeper
than what Ford was doing. Bobby was drawing more from Bird, while Ford
was more traditional…more Grant Green, if you know what I mean. It was
the beginning of the Bobby sound we know today, as far as his playing
with a blues band. The Kingston Mines gig lasted for awhile. I left the
band to pursue my career in graphic arts and Jimmy Johnson replaced me.
I know Jimmy was also very impressed with Bobby’s playing, in fact it
blew him away. When I did a few gigs with Jimmy a few years ago, he
asked me about Bobby. Almost 40 years later, and he still vividly
In the early 80’s Bob
was playing in a band that played 50’s R&R. Their drummer quit the band,
and Bobby knew I had taken up the drums and somehow talked me into
filling in. So there I was behind the drums, weird after sharing the
stage with him so many times on guitar. In typical Bobby fashion, he
played those 50’s songs and knew all the classic licks, although he
delivered them in his own one-of-a-kind style. We played 3 or 4 gigs
together before they found a real drummer.
As long as I can
remember, Bobby was studying jazz hard. He and Linda would learn Charlie
Parker songs together, including trying to cop his solos. There was no
way I could keep up with them. They were on another wave length. Over
time, Bob incorporated this jazz knowledge into whatever he was playing,
along with his own personal slant on music and improvisation. During
this era, he told me one of his goals was to make his guitar sound like
a saxophone. This is why he gravitated to the synth guitar. He was
searching for this sound in his head, and he couldn’t get it using a
I guess it was around
1983 or so…. Bobby and I started getting together regularly in my little
studio, with the intention of creating some experimental music. The idea
was to just produce whatever came out of us…no limits or rules. Just let
it out. George Healy later joined these sessions, and we went about
crafting these oddball songs and recording them. Bobby came up with a
few that were brilliant. On a some of these, he tracked most of the
parts, and I’d just play percussion and program the drum machine, or
play a rhythm guitar part. All of his parts were done with his
synthesizer guitar. It was amazing to learn what was in this guy’s
head….amazing ideas and chord progressions, and his melodies were truly
unique and original. This wasn’t blues, by any means…We couldn’t wait to
get together for these sessions. We learned that we were both in love
with the whole ideation part of music making, and were excited about it.
Together we were exploring this beautiful world of music, it was
Then in 1986, I started
a band with Bobby on synth guitar, Tony Taylor on vocals and keys, Steve
Jennings on bass and Eric Duke on drums. We called ourselves, “The Hava
Brothers’, a name Tony coined because both Steve and Bobby mumbled and
sang while they played. “Hava, hava, hava” is what you would hear from
those two guys in the background during one of our songs….Bob once told
me it was part of him connecting with his instrument. And we all know he
and his guitar were one. The Hava Brothers only played a handful of
gigs, but it was one of my favorite bands. We could really funk. I mean
really. We did the recording session at Victor Sound, played several
parties, and recorded some music in my studio.
Bobby was at almost all
of my big backyard music parties between 1979 and 1987 (and at the last
one, in 2001), a big annual bash with guest artists and bands, and lots
of jamming. Hannon was at most of these, too, so invariably the 3 of us
would get to play together like old times. There was something very
special about recalling the Hannon days with Bobby. We both loved Mark
Hannon. And both Bobby and I received a lot of acclaim because we played
with Hannon. And on top of it all, we loved to play together and we knew
how to play with each other.
Bobby was always so cool
and laid back. There would be incidents in the clubs we’d play where
everyone else would be panicking or otherwise freaking out, and there
Bob would be…just patiently waiting for things to subside so the music
The only time I remember him raising his voice is when the band started
a song in the wrong key or if a change was coming up. He’d be over there
yelling, “D” “D”!
Fast forward….In 2001, I was determined to start a band. I had been
dangling from the corporate ladder and dreaming about it for a long
time. Originally, I was going to do it as a trio...so I got a bassist
(Sonny Sloan), and a drummer (Jeff Blum) and prepared for our debut. I
had never fronted a band, and only sang minimally in my past band
experiences. At the last minute, my confidence waned, and in
desperation, I called my old pal Bobby Wolf, to see if he might be
interested in helping me. I needed him in the band. I knew I could pull
it off with him there. Sure enough, he
joined me and we played our first gigs at Chico Moran's in Ingleside.
The whole thing was a reflection of our time together playing behind
Mark Hannon many years earlier, so it was so appropriate. We even did
many of those old 'Hannon songs' in the band, with Bobby recalling his
brilliant guitar parts. Together we had a nice run, played many gigs,
hosted some great blues jams (Main Street Inn, Austin's)...great times
and outstanding musical adventures. I loved it when I'd see these young
guitarists attend the jam just to watch and learn from Bobby. Like
everyone else, they were amazed by his command of the instrument, but
more importantly, his own unique approach to music.
I had always wanted to have a band with a keyboardist accompanying me,
and I wanted to play more of the lead guitar parts. With Bobby in the
band, it was appropriate for him to play most of the lead guitar,
because hey…he was a superior guitar player. But I wanted to grow and
spread my wings. I talked to Bobby about this, suspecting that he had
other goals in mind besides my little band, and we parted ways after
almost 4 years together. He understood, although it was hard on both of
us. Of all my old friends, Bobby was the most pragmatic, in fact some of
it rubbed off on me.
I was really happy to see him take up with Joel Pace, then Ocee and then
Irwin and the guys and enjoy a great and lasting musical campaign. I’d
like to think Bob and I were each other’s muse. We always stayed in
touch in some form, and shared what was going on. He was always eager to
hear what I was coming up with, and I always so looked forward to
playing him my music. He taught me so much. He never made me feel like
less of a musician because I didn’t read and was self-taught. In fact,
he embraced it. He’s the guy I’d call on the phone with a bunch of notes
and say, “Bobby, what the fuck chord would this be?”
Over all the years, people would say how great Bobby and I sounded
together. We complimented each other, and our styles contrasted nicely.
Mine the more primitive and old blues, his sophisticated, dynamic and
I just finished an album that took me over 2 years to produce. The whole
time I was making it, I couldn’t wait for Bobby to hear it. He was
someone I was always trying to impress, or someone I needed approval
from. I knew if Bobby dug it, it was good, but more importantly, I knew
he would appreciate that his old songwriting partner and bandmate had
accomplished something noteworthy, musically. I wonder if he knew how
much of an influence he was on me? I wonder if he knew that I am still
trying to figure out some of the things he always had in his bag of
tricks? Bob did hear 6 of the nine songs on my album, but he never did
hear the last 3. He loved what he heard. I think he was surprised at the
Latin influence in the compositions. I wonder if he knew how much a part
he had in it?
We all have our own religion. What happens when we die? We all wonder.
Since the beginning, cultures have created vast illusions to confuse us.
I have a lot more questions than answers in that department, but one
thing I do know, is that Bobby will live on in me, and in all of us who
knew him and loved him.
Born May 14th, 1958-Died Nov.
Mark was the first Ferrick I
met, and through him I got to know the rest of the family, including
Jimmy. It was 1969, and Jim was already playing drums, following in the
footsteps of his musician big brothers. The first think I noticed about
his playing was that he kept a real steady beat, which isn’t always the
case with young drummers. I’m certain the big brothers were relentless
in their insistence on Jimmy playing with a solid meter. Jimmy played
with Mark more than anyone, and so Jimmy was playing the music of
Traffic, the Beatles and the Stones at an early age. I know Jimmy played
drums at several of the jams I attended at the Ferricks early on. I
remember him scrambling to put together a set for a jam, sometimes
borrowing bits and pieces from someone else.
After the Ferricks moved to
Winnetka, Jimmy by then had a nice set of drums, and I remember jamming
in the driveway, the basement and the living room with him and Mark. In
1974, we started rehearsing as a band in preparation for a demo Mark
wanted to make in the studio. It was Mark, Jimmy, Chip Trendle and
myself. The plan was for Mark to play the bass and the keyboards in the
studio, so the rehearsals had to replicate that. That made it hard on
the drummer, because some of the tracks were recorded without bass,
which Mark dubbed in later. Jimmy did a fantastic job, and he did the
session like a seasoned pro. His drum parts really made the demo come
alive. Chip played some great acoustic guitar parts, and I overdubbed
In this same era, Jimmy started
playing in a country rock band. They did a lot of Eagles type stuff, and
were really quite good. I was thoroughly impressed. The vocal harmonies
were especially sweet, and the band was tight.
In 1975 or ’76, Jimmy showed up
one night where I was living with Mary in Highland Park. He wanted some
advice on what he should do. Mark had just asked him to go to London
with him, to start a band and to try and get a deal with a label. By
then Mark had plenty of songs and really had his act together musically.
Bill and Irene, of course wanted him to go to college. Jim knew he would
really disappoint his parents should he move to London, and yet he also
knew that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I urged him to go
with his heart. Jimmy was a truly gifted drummer. He just got better and
better. How on earth could I possibly recommend anything other than him
following his bliss? We talked about it at length that night, and I
suggested that if things don’t work out with Mark, he could still go to
college down the road. Jimmy trusted our opinion, as we were very close
to the family. We babysat for them when the Ferrick’s would travel,
looking after Jimmy (because he was still too young to take that on),
Johnny and Marnie. Later, after Jimmy died, I pondered the tragic irony
of my part in his decision to go to London, but consoled myself with the
knowledge that it was the right thing to do. Jimmy’s last experiences in
life were those of a band hot off signing a big record deal, and they
were set up in a rehearsal space in the country to work on their new
album and to prepare for touring. The whole band was flying high on
their big break, it was what they had all dreamed about, and here it
Here are some photos of Jimmy
The following photos and
captions are from Leslie Scarborough, who was Jimmy’s squeeze for a long
Paul Sibley Williams, Jr. 1924-2010
was the kindest, gentlest man who always thought of others before
himself. He was loyal and cared deeply about his family, and took the
time to really get to know his children and grandchildren. He was very
intellectual, loved music, especially opera, and was passionate about
nature and the outdoors. He had a great sense of humor and would often
react to something amusing with his sly grin, a twinkle in his eye and a
chuckle. He enjoyed learning new things and was an avid reader. He
loved poetry reading and wasn't attracted to fluff. He wrote poetry
himself and took creative writing classes to improve his craft. Later in
his life, he learned to play classical piano.
Born in 1924 in San Jose. Graduate of U of C Berkeley, Editor of Daily
Californian. After graduation he became a high school teacher, but
decided that wasn’t his calling, so he became a newspaper reporter (San
Jose Mercury-News), then the editor of The East Bay Labor Journal in
Oakland, CA. He then worked for the U.S. Department of Labor for over 25
years in the information office. Forever a loyal Democrat, he was always
involved in politics. He was an early advocate of women's rights,
abortion and civil rights, way before it was fashionable.
His immediate survivors are second wife Penelope, brothers Waldo
Williams and Edwin Williams, children Martha (Leo), David, Bruce (Mary),
Laura, Sarah (David), Amy (Sandy) and Tom (Jill), step-children David,
Tiggy and Polly & first wife Aileen. He had numerous grandchildren and
several great grandchildren.
Fred Anderson 1929-2010
Fred was 'the man'...the pied-piper of free jazz, his
playing steeped in blues with big huge notes and that African
rhythm...As long as I knew him, he was a leader, a mentor....the guy
I met Fred around 1969 through Hamid Drake. He seemed
unassuming at first, until I heard him talk about music. He would go on
and on passionately about his respect for the masters like Parker, Diz
and Trane and he infused his music with their ghosts. Fred's lessons in
music occurred at the jam sessions I would attend with him. When he
showed up at a music party he would have his disciples with him, his
entourage of musicians both young and old. Sometimes he would have
trumpeter Billy Brimfield call out the changes in a song, and relay
Fred's instructions to whoever was playing an instrument. Here is where
I first learned the values of leaving space in the music. Fred wouldn't
clutter up the song with a bunch of notes, but rather would carefully
select his notes and then blow each one with the maximum amount of
feeling. It was such a revelation to me at the time, since other
influences touted the 'fast playing, try and throw in as many notes as
Fred taught us how to slowly build a song, to have
the patience and discipline to hold back until the time is right. This
lesson of restraint has stayed with me and I still am guided my things I
was taught by this great man.
more to come....
Albert Goodman, Fred and me at Albert's birthday
party a few years ago...
Billy Ferrick 1952-2009
I first met Billy at the Ferrick house in Glencoe in
1968 when Mark first invited me over. Back then Billy was just "Bill"
and I remember he had an air of authority about him and a certain
charisma. I didn't get to know him right away, not until there were a
few of those famous Ferrick jam parties when the parents, Irene and
Bill, Sr. were out of town. At the time, Billy was really into blues and
jazz and once he realized that I was also, we became tight. Like Mark
Hannon and I, Billy ventured down to the city to find the blues and
ended up playing with Mighty Joe Young for a time. At about the same
time, Hannon was playing with Magic Sam and I was with Lefty Dizz, but
somehow we all ended up in Dizz's band for awhile. That was a really fun
time in all our lives...here we were all good friends and playing in the
great Chicago blues joints like Pepper's, Theresa's, Florence's, The
Checkerboard Lounge and even Mr' Z's. One night at Mr. Z's we were
playing for a church group with Dizz and Junior Wells was a special
guest. We started out playing blues like always, but when Junior took
the stage, he started calling all these gospel songs which none of us
white suburban guys had any clue how to play. Luckily Billy had the
musical sense to figure out the chord progressions and feed them to the
rest of us and somehow we pulled off the show. Billy always had such
great musical instincts.
There were a group of us in that time frame who
overindulged and maybe thought it was cool to live life like some fast
living jazz musician with no thought of tomorrow, and Bill was caught up
in it maybe more than most of us. Somehow, most of us survived that era
and found our niche in life.
Bill was driven to find success in the music industry
and found his way to LA where he stayed. He was a prolific songwriter
and music production expert. He always had a recording studio at his
home and produced a huge amount of music over the years (I'll be posting
some of his music here in the near future). He also helped other artists
with their projects, too. On top of everything else, Bill was a great
arranger and knew how to take someone else's song and make it sound so
All good musicians feed off each other and always
look for opportunities to learn more about their art. Bill was one of
those musicians that you couldn't help but learn from. Sure he was
technically strong, but Bill had a certain style that distinguished him
from the pack.
I remember calling Bill about a year ago because I
was thinking of doing a version of Astral Traveler (Pharaoh Sanders) in
my trio, a song which I used to play with Bill back in the 70's. It was
kind of funny when Bill called out the chords and seemed a bit impatient
with me, like I should have remembered after all these years...hehe.
The chords in the song are crazy, some with unusual voicing's, but he
had a knack for remembering this stuff.
Billy's legacy will be his music, of course. We will
all have our own special memories of this man, and music was his life.
He left us many great songs, and maybe his greatest achievement of all
was touching the lives of his many piano students. I was with Billy one
day in LA when he gave a few lessons, and it was very special to see him
work with the children. This was a softer and more patient Billy, and
you could see how much he loved tutoring these kids. He had one of the
kids play me a song and sure enough, here's this 10 year old boy playing
an Otis Spann like number with the boogie-woogie bass line and
everything. It was great! These lids will grow up and hopefully a few of
them will keep music an important part of their life. I'm sure they'll
look back at Billy as their mentor and their inspiration.
Here are two letters that were read at Billy's
funeral service. They were sent by his piano students.
Touching, to say the least.
MORE TO COME....THIS IS A WORK IN PROGRESS
Above photos courtesy of Irene Ferrick
Photo courtesy Rob O'Callahan
courtesy Rob O'Callahan
Photo courtesy Rob O'Callahan
Photo courtesy Rob O'Callahan
Photo courtesy Rob O'Callahan
Photo courtesy Rob O'Callahan
Photo courtesy Rob O'Callahan
Photo courtesy Rob O'Callahan
Photo courtesy Rob O'Callahan
Johnny, Mark, Melanie and Billy
Billy at Idful Recording Studios in
Billy playing keys at one of my
backyard affairs in Highland Park, Illinois circa 1979 (also pictured
Creep Taylor and Bobby Wolf)
Same party...Billy talking to Billy
Brimfield (also pictured-Creep and Tim Foreman)
Same party-Billy talking to Ahmed
Drake and Tom Peck (that's drummer Dave Thorton in background)
In our kitchen taking a break from recording around
Flyer for Billy's memorial jam.....
Here's a great pic of Billy recording....courtesy of
12-3-47 to 7-17-01
Mark Hannon was one of my dearest friends and was one of my musical
when I was a young musician starting out. I'll never forget the time
younger brother Phillip brought me to Mark's apartment in Evanston to
jam with him. Phillip was so proud to bring us together. I had met Mark
a few times at the Hannon family house in Glencoe, but to many of us
'younger' guys, Mark was this cult hero/icon because he had recorded at
Chess Records with his band, The Durty Wurds. I was quite nervous,
because I was just starting out, but Mark couldn't have been more
gracious and encouraging. He really liked my playing, and it was the
beginning of a long and deep friendship. I ended up playing in The Mark
Hannon Blues Band a few years later, and then lived with Mark for a
couple of years in a house in Northfield, Illinois that became known as
'jam-party central'...We had all night jam sessions there, with the likes of
Fred Anderson, Billy Brimfield, Felix Blackmon, Ahmed Drake, Terry
Dickerson, Bobby Wolf and many others.
Mark was born in Pittsburg, PA on December 3, 1947. The Hannon family
moved to Glencoe a few years later. Mark was always somewhat of a rebel,
and one of the first guys to sport long hair back in the early 60's. He
was already a celebrity in high school, and once he started playing
music seriously, he became one of those people that inspired others. The
entire Hannon household was a trip, with patriarch Eugene running the
show. There was always music in the house, whether it be Gene turning us
kids on to "Sing, Sing, Sing" or Barb and Amy singing some folk song in
the living room with impeccable harmony. Phillip and I were great
friends, and it was he who turned me onto a lot of the soul music and
blues that would become a part of my musical growth in the future. Much
of this music came out of Mark's infamous record collection. Phillip
died tragically in a fall from a building in 1975.
In the late 60's, Mark found his way to the west side of Chicago and
worked his way on stage with Magic Sam. Shortly thereafter, both Mark
and I were playing with Lefty Dizz (Walter Williams) in blues clubs
mostly on the southside (Checkerboard, Theresa's, Florence's, Mr. Z's,
Pepper's). Mark formed his own band after that, and started being known
as Mark Hannon...The Blues Cannon!
Mark worked a lot of the northside clubs with his band, and when I was in
the group we had a regular weekly gig at the old Kingston Mines on
Lincoln. Tuesday nights in the early to mid-seventies found the band at
Minstrel's by Loyola, where manager Ron would be looking for Hannon on
his break, yelling in his graveley voice, "Where's Hannon? He's been on
break for an hour, damnit!"...
Mark met and fell in love with Jane in the 80's and they had two
beautiful daughters, Katey and Nicki. Mark was a great father and was so
proud of his girls. I remember he would bring them to some of the music
parties in the old days, and he just glowed as he introduced the girls
to his many friends.
Somewhere along the line, Mark hooked up with Bob Levis and Harlan
Terson, two very talented musicians and he stuck with that line-up for
most of his career. Bob on guitar and Harlan on bass, were veterans of
the Otis Rush band, and brought stability and an authenticity that was
timed perfectly with Mark's renewed dedication to his craft. Mark's
vocals were becoming stronger and his phrasing and delivery smoother and
full of feeling. His harp playing also evolved into his own trademark
style, with tight and melodic solos and perfect little punctuations. All
the big Chicago blues stars were friends with Mark. He was highly
respected as a talent and as a spokesperson for the blues. The last time
I played with Mark, other than at his benefit, Dave Specter was on
Guitar, Harlan on bass, and a great player whose name I can't remember
on drums. It was at Bar Louie at Dearborn Station (coincidentally, this
is where the "Blues Power" benefit was staged for Mark when he fell
ill), and I hadn't played with him for awhile. During this period, I
wasn't playing out a lot, and I lived 50 miles from downtown. Mark was in
great form, with great players, and I'll never forget the fun we had
playing the old songs, like "Unchain My Heart", and "I Don't Want No
Woman", and "Chickenheads". He always seemed to be eager to play with me
again, and always made me feel welcome on his stage, perhaps not
realizing that I felt I was the lucky one. Looking back on that night, I
was able to enjoy the man in the setting he loved most, onstage
singing...playin his ass off, talkin to the people, telling jokes...and
making people feel good.
Over the years, one could find Mark
working as a duet with Kenny Saydak, which was fun as Hell, because
these two together were like a comedy team. They were as good with the
on-stage banter as they were at laying down excellent music!
When Mark got sick the first time, I hadn't been keeping in very good
touch with him, and in fact wasn't involved in the fund raiser at
Legend's, although I attended. After his surgery, where he lost one
lung, Mark once again amazed everyone by not only making a great
recovery...but also found a way to (in my opinion) improve his vocal
presentation. Somehow he managed to teach his body to sing with 1'2 the
wind, and maybe because he was so damn determined, he worked his ass off
and found a new range and a his vocals had a new conviction. Everyone
was devastated to learn that Mark's cancer reared his head again, and
a lot of us were so hopeful, because he beat the odds before. As I look
back over my life and accomplishments, nothing comes close to my good
fortune at being 'appointed' to organize a benefit for Mark in 2000. I
suppose I was a logical choice, as I was working at Leo Burnett at the
time, and this benefit needed promotional help. The collective of Mark
and Jane's friends, however, was the key to the success of the event.
Once I put the wheels in motion, people from all over Chicago and the US
started helping build the program. People like Dave Hoekstra, Eddy
Clearwater, Jimmy Johnson, Buzz Kilman, Dave Specter, Bruce Illig, Roger
Greenfield, Albert Goodman, Jim Tulio, Dave Grier, Harlan Terson, and of
course Ken Saydak. There are so many others that contributed in so many
different ways, but I mention the ones that are 'well known' to
illustrate how much of a start Mark was in his own right. He was loved
by so many, and his loss left a big hole in the heart of Chicago. The
swell of love at the benefit was overwhelming, and a lot of money was
raised to help the Hannon family cope with all the medical expenses. It
was something that I look back on with sadness, of course, but also with
love and pride. I was the lucky one, because I was able to be near the
man as he basked in all that affection, all that respect and all that
When Mark died, I made a vow to start playing out again, only this time
as a singer/guitarist...playing the old Hannon tunes and keeping the
We play many of the old songs in my band now, and some of Mark's old
friends come out and listen. Somehow, by remembering him, my life has
more meaning, and it makes me feel good every time I kick off one of
those songs. I remember....
Above: Mark singing with Jimmy Johnson at
Mark and Jimmy sing "You Got Me Runnin"....
One of my favorite Hannon pics...here he's standing in a cardboard
box because the ground was wet....(jam party at my house in Highland
Park '79 or so)
Eddy Clearwater plays at the benefit
Steve Freund, Hannon, Robert Covington & Bob Stroger
Above: Dave Specter, Harlan Terson, Mark
and myself at Bar Louie
Above: Mark encouraging me at Bar Louie
Above: Myself, Billy Ferrick, Terry
Dickerson, Mark and Harlan at Southside Johnny's
Above: Mark at my wedding in 1975
Above: Hambone, Bruce Illig, Mark Skyer,
Mark, Dave Thorton, George Healy at Chicagofest
Above: Mark making his point at an unknown
Here's an old picture wife Mary took when
the four of us were spending the day at St. Mary's of The Lake in
Mundelein years ago. That's Mark and I with Mary Steffey.
Above: Mark, Tim Foreman and I at one of my
backyard jams 1978
Above: Hannon and I at 1978 backyard jam...The
Above: Unknown chick, George Healy, Mark,
Tim Foreman and I at one of my backyard jams, circa '83 or so
Above: Mark in my backyard...
Above: Young Jane and Mark (courtesy Cathy
Above: Mark at Chicago Blues Fest (thanks
to Paul Natkin for photo)
Above: Mark & I outside the infamous
'Northbrook House' where we lived together. This photo was probably
taken around '73-'74
My name on the marquee at Nick's in
2009...I was appearing there with Jimmy Johnson and made sure we did a
bunch of old Hannon songs in the place he used to haunt...
I took the above video at the first benefit for Mark, during his
first cancer fight.
This video was taken at 'Williamsfest', a big music extravaganza I
used to throw in my backyard. I wish I could remember all the players.
Ken Sadak is on keys, Bruce Illig on guitar, Betsy singin', and I'm on
guitar. If anyone recognizes the bass and drum guys, let me know.
Here's a few pics taken at the Legend's benefit. Photos courtesy of
The above video was taken at The Kingston Mines in 1976 by Albert
Goodman. Mark and the band play their own arrangement of "Unchain My
Same gig...the band plays, "I've Been Working"...
And finally, "Go To Pieces"...
The above four
videos were shot by Albert Goodman, who had a knack for being in
the right place at the right time with his video camera. His video
footage of Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock was heralded as a great piece of
I just found this picture on my computer. I don't
know it's origin. A lot of people have contacted me since I put this
memorial up for Hannon. If anyone knows anything about this picture,
please let me know. I'm curious, plus I like to credit the photographer.
I also found another image that looks like it was taken by the same
photographer at the same event.
9-15-54 to 10-3-91
I first met Mark in 1968, when we were both young musicians looking for
new people to play with. Kirk Moulton might have introduced us. I made
with Kirk when my family moved to the area in '67, and he connected me
many friends. I first played with Mark at a jam at his family house in
Ferrick's had a Steinway grand piano in their living room, so that was
the obvious place to stage a jam session. The Ferrick parents were out
of town quite a bit, so this became a regular spot for weekend jams and
parties. I connected with Mark right away, even though he had a
reputation of someone difficult to get close to. Mark had a knack for
knowing exactly what he wanted during these sessions, and if the other
musicians didn't know the parts, Mark would show them on their
instruments, because he played guitar, bass and keyboards quite well. In
fact, he could play guitar either right handed or left handed, and could
play left handed either with a guitar re-strung for lefties, or by
flipping the guitar upside down. He prefer playing a left handed guitar,
and had an old acoustic strung lefty that he played all the time. His
main instrument was piano, and of course he was 'the singer'....I have an
old tape I made years later at a jam at my house that featured brothers
Mark and Bill Ferrick and brothers Bruce and Dave Williams. Tim Foreman
was on drums. Mark played bass when my brother switched to guitar, and
piano when his brother switched to harp. Of course, he sang all the
songs the whole while. He also played guitar on a couple of numbers...a
right handed guitar! Well, Mark and I hit it off after that first jam,
and before long I was trying to keep up with him as his passion for
music found us at jams all over the area. Just ask Norris Beetlebaum!
Within a few months, he had talked me into starting a band with him. For
me, this would be my 'first band', and we were doing some Traffic, some
Beatles, alot of Stones, and some blues. I remember so well that it was
Mark that showed me how to play a 9th chord on the guitar. My roots were
in folkier stuff, or the acid rock of my native California. I was just
starting to appreciate blues and my chords were limited. Mark had the
arrangements in his head and would tell the rest of the band what to
play. We were all young farts with very little experience, but Ferrick
knew what the music needed and soon we sounded pretty damn good! Mark
and I also hung out together all the time and chased girls and did all
kinds of crazy things. I'll never forget, after a summer of acid
tripping and over indulging, Mark suddenly 'went straight', stopped
abusing substances and started working out. He had this idea he wanted
to make the high school football team. I know he had his eye on
quarterback. He even talked me into becoming his 'sparring partner', as
he would have me come over and throw passes to me for hours. He actually
taught me how to throw a football. I didn't know squat about footbal
until I went to the Ferricks' one Sunday back in '68 and saw what a
friggin ritual this family went through on a football Sunday. If Mark
couldn't find a sucker like me to run down his passes, he would take his
little sister and brother, Marnie and Johnny out in the backyard and
wing a few to them. Soon, his body became muscular, his stride changed
to a strut...and my pal was...a friggin JOCK!! I can't remember all the
details, but he did make the team and played for New Trier West. The
music never stopped through this, however, and we played together alot
as a twosome, and as a band. Mark started writing music during this
period, and having dreams of making it in music. After high school, Mark
ended up at Boston College where he got his BA. During this time he got
a gig at a piano bar and really got into the whole entertainment thing.
When he came home to visit, we would get together and play like old
times. After he graduated, he wanted to put a demo together of some of
his songs, so he recruited me to help him. His little brother Jim had by
now become a very good drummer, and with help from Chip Trendle on
guitar, we started rehearsing. We cut the demo at StudioMedia in
Evanston. Mark did all the vocals and harmonies and played all the
keyboard and bass guitar tracks. Believe me, he had it all mapped out.
The session was great and Mark's songs sounded outstanding. Mark used
this demo to advance his music career, and one of my favorite musical
moments in my life was when Mark called me from London a few years later
and asked me if it would be alright if his new guitarist, Ian, played my
guitar solo note-for-note in his new updated demo. I think he was
referring to his song, "The Night Is Alright", one of my favorites.
Yep, Mark ended up in London with his little brother Jim on drums, in a
band with a recording contract with Epic Records. The story takes a
rather tragic turn here. I was always very close to the Ferrick family,
Mark was the best man at my wedding, he was the Godfather to my son
Robert, and we socialized with the entire family. When Mark's little
brother Jimmy became an outstanding drummer in 68-69, Mark brought him
into our band, and I watched him grow quickly into a formidable
percussionist. He was a natural drummer, with an instinct for time and
he somehow put up with Mark's demanding regimen. After Mark went to
London and had started getting interest from the record companies, he
asked Jimmy to come join him. This cause some controversy in the Ferrick
household, as the parents wanted Jimmy to finish college. Jim came to
see my wife Mary and I one night, as he wanted our advice to help him
make his decision. After a lot of discussion, I ended up telling him that
if it was me, I'd go to London, as these opportunities don't come up
often in life, and he should give it a shot. If it doesn't work out, I
told him, you can always come home and finish school. So Jim decides to
do it and goes to London. Epic Records has signed Mark, provided him
with a recording budget and a place in the country outside of London to
live and rehearse. The brothers and their Englishmen sidekicks began
rehearsing, recording and getting ready for their debut. Then the
tragedy...Jim takes out one of the motorbikes early one morning and
crashes and is dead a few hours later. Of course, Mark feels
responsible. After the funeral Mark musters up the courage to return to
England and attempt to salvage his band, "Thirteen", which was on the
verge of releasing it's first single, "Teddy Boy". The single is
released in Sweden only, becomes a cult favorite, but Thirteen falls
apart. Mark moves back to US
near his older brother Bill, also a very talented musician. They do some
projects together, Mark continues his quest to break through in the
music business. I wasn't talking to Mark as often as usual at the end.
It came as such a shock when I heard. When I lost him, I decided to try
and honor him by pushing myself harder with my writing, to learn more
piano, to write ballads like he did, to sing my heart out like he
Ian Mckean & Mark
Thirteen After Jimmy
Here's the cover from their single which was released
Here's a rare gem off Mark's demo I played on way
back when. This song shows just how great Mark was at arranging. He had
it all planned out in detail before we went into the studio. This is his
song titled, Relivin'.....Recorded at StudioMedia in Evanston, IL
Studiomedia in Evanston. That's studio owner Ron
Berman on the left, and Mark listening intently to the play back.
Ahmed Drake introduced me to Tony in about 1968. Ahmed took me to a jam
Evanston and I met a bunch of great musicians. The most impressive was
Tony, with his big voice and fluid keyboard chops. He also knew all the
cool songs and was good
at getting the music going. I ran into him many times over the years,
mostly at jams, and then in the early eighties, my old music buddy Terry
Dickerson called me and
asked if I wanted to play guitar in his band, "Hot Ice". I needed the
work and these guys were gigging a lot, so I took it. Tony was playing
keyboard and singing in the band at the time, which convinced me. Hot
Ice was doing a lot of dance music, funk and pop material, and I was
really more comfortable playing blues, but with Tony there, I knew it
would be a good experience. I wasn't doing much singing up to that time,
but Tony thought I had a good voice and encouraged me to sing back up
vocals, and worked with me on the harmonies. Over time, I became pretty
decent, and even had the confidence to sing a few songs on my own. After
a year or so, Tony developed a problem with nodes in his throat, and had
to cut way back on his singing. Terry talked me into taking about 30% of
Tony's songs to help out. With Tony's help, I made the jump from back up
vocalist to a fairly good lead vocalist. He taught me so much about
singing and projecting. He had some incredible pipes on him. I ended up
quitting the band after a year and a half or so, mainly due to conflicts
with a day job I had.
My next experience with Tony was a few years later in the mid-eighties,
and I owned a successful ad agency. I got a DUI and my license was
revoked. I had to get around, and I knew Tony could use the money, so I
hired him as my driver. We were everywhere from Milwaukee to Elgin to
Elkhart, Indiana. This went on for over 6 months, so I got to know Tony
very well. During this period, I put on probably 25 pounds, because Tony
would stop at Wendy's or a chicken joint constantly.
I had a pool table in the office, so we also played many games together.
It was only
natural that we ended up starting a band together, a band that he
named..."The Hava Bros." which he coined in reference to the noises our
guitar player Bob Wolf, and our bass man, Steve Jennings made when they
were playing. We did some gigs, parties, recorded some. A funny "Tony"
story...One night we were at my place recording and it was late, and
Tony was hungry. He decided to nuke a hard boiled egg, which none of us
had ever done. He put it in there for a few minutes, and then took it
out and peeled it. It remained intact throughout the peeling process,
but when he bit into it, it exploded all over the place! You should have
seen the look on Tony's face. He burnt his lip a little, too, but
nothing serious. We joked around a lot, but Tony really was a gifted
musician. He wrote music for some lyrics I penned, and really blew me
away with the beautiful music he came up with. The song is called, "The
Love You're Looking For". He also sang on one of my originals we
recorded at Victor Sound with The Hava Bros, called "Believe", which he
just tore up...and he also came up with a cool little break at the end.
He arranged a slick vocal part to go with the break and added 2 harmony
voices to my one in the background, which really improved the song.
When we played together in Hot Ice,
we really became close and had some really memorable and fun times
together, mostly musical. One night at Pepe's Show Lounge at Cicero &
Pulaski, we had that funk music going just right, and the crowd was
huge. The people were going nuts on the dance floor when suddenly a
fight broke out between two girls. A circle formed as they kept going
with claws out, kicking and tearing at each others clothes. Tony and I
were looking at each other, laughing in amazement when suddenly a white
frilly thing landed on the keys of Tony's electric piano. It took us
both a few seconds to realize that 1) it was a sleeve, and 2) it flew up
from the dance floor right off the arm of one of those fighting women.
We laughed so hard it hurt! There was usually laughter around Tony.
Above: The great Tony Taylor...He was usually
smiling or laughing....
Above: Tony talking to Terry and
her husband Jim at the 1987 Williamsfest....
Here's one of the few recordings I have of Tony.
This is from a session I produced from the late 80's at Victor Sound.
This is a song I wrote called, "Believe", which Tony loved. He gave it
his own style and arranged the voices. He brought two friends with him
that day to help with the backing vocals, I think it was the Giles
sisters. Steve Jennings is on bass, Bobby Wolf on synth-guitar, and I'm
doing the guitars and the vocoder solo.
And here's a rare video of The Hava
Bros. at the 1987 Williamsfest featuring Tony Taylor on vocals and keys.
Born 1937-Died Sept. 7, 1993
It's funny how in life you encounter different
people, and it's sometimes amazing how these people affect your entire
being. I was so lucky to have met this guy. Lefty Dizz was one of the
first blues artists who 'adopted' me on the south side. He was one of a
kind, a good friend, and a great musician. Many people aren't aware that
he served in the US Air Force, and was also college educated.
Lefty's real name was Walter Williams. Williams is a
fairly common name I guess...it's my last name, and the last name of the
drummer in my band, Ed. I knew Lefty's family pretty well, because Dizz
and I hung out alot. I was good friends with Woody, Roz, Yvette, Woody
and Red Rock. I'm pretty sure Johnny Dollar was related to Lefty also,
and he was around a lot in the old days too. I wish I knew where they
were now. I shared many meals with that family, and laughed and partied
Lefty took me under
his wing and we had a great musical adventure together. He taught me so
much about accompaniment. And he's the guy who introduced me to Buddy
Guy, Hound Dog Taylor*, Jimmy Rogers, Jimmy Reed, Willie Dixon and so
many others. It's funny looking back, because many of those guys still
remembered when Mike Bloomfield was on the scene and what an impact The
Butterfield Blues Band had. When Lefty would introduce me to folks, he
used to hint in his playful way, that maybe I was the next Bloomfield,
which I surely was not!
It seemed like everywhere we played,
people loved Lefty, and when we walked into an unfamiliar setting and
the audience didn't know him...he would win them over. We played gigs in
Wisconsin, Indiana, and Michigan besides Chicago and many times our car
would be our motel room. We drank whiskey, played blues and laughed alot.
We also would misbehave from time to time....
I always felt I received much of my education in the
streets of Chicago, and Lefty Dizz had to be one of my professors. He
did lecture a lot, didn't he?
was always awed by how all the great blues stars would welcome Lefty to
their stage, and when he backed up another artist, he would become
something other than the flamboyant showman he was known as. He would
become a serious accompanist, doing everything in his power to highlight
the main performer. He certainly joined in on 'the act' and would make
all those great faces and such, but his mission at that point was to
make the other guy look good. And even on a bad night, Lefty could walk
into a club, start playing, and within a few minutes he would have the
people captivated. He knew how to break the ice. He would connect with
the audience by talking and jiving while we in the band kept a quiet
blues groove going. He would start the show with some down home
blues and build the set to a crescendo, until we we're rockin the house
down. He would bring it up, then bring it down....he'd stop us and talk
a little bit, then with a big wave of his hand, he'd start us up again,
right on cue. These are the lessons this professor taught me, and I
still employ his teachings today.
I was really blessed when my old friend and musician
bud Billy Ferrick called one day in 1993 and asked if I would like to
play a party gig with Dizz. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity, as I
hadn't seen or played with Lefty in a few years. It was so much fun.
Killer was on drums and Billy was in his usual fine form. It brought
back memories of 1970, when Billy and I were both playing with Lefty and
frequently gigging at Mr. Z's, Pepper's, and other clubs around Chicago.
As I look back on that day, I remember I was off the sauce and Lefty
wanted me to do a shot of Grand Dad. Even though it was only 1:00PM in
the afternoon, I would have done one for sure, but I was determined to
take a break from booze. I asked my wife Mary to shoot it for me. So I
watched in amusement as Lefty and Mary toasted, with Lefty sayin'..."Cut
me in or cut it out!"...
*Lefty introduced me to Hound Dog Taylor. They were
great friends. I ended up hanging out with Hound Dog and he asked me to
do a gig with him. I had seen Hound Dog a few times by now and was in
awe of his guitarist, Brewer Phillips. It wasn't until I actually played
with these guys that I realized just how great Brewer was. Playing along
side this guy I saw close up some incredible blues guitar. Hound Dog
didn't use a bass player, just drums, Hound Dog on vocals and slide, and
Brewer. Phillips played bass on the guitar while the old man played
slide, and filled in between with these incredible gut bucket little
riffs. I mean, this guy was playing the real shit!
I met Jerry Wilson through Mark Hannon on some gig
somewhere. Jerry and I hit it off right away, and before long we were
hanging out all the time. When I first met him, he was living with Lisa
Tillman, the poet. Jerry was a true original, and there are many stories
of his escapades. He was also somewhat of a philosopher, and would often
get going on a subject and not let it go until he was certain you had
seen his point of view. He was small in stature, but commanded the stage
like nobody's business, and blew that horn with such passion. One thing
about Jerry Wilson is that man could make you laugh until your sides
ached. He had such an amusing perspective on things. Jerry played quite
a bit with Hannon over the years, and I joined him on some of these
sets. You can hear Jerry playing a rousing sax solo on Sparrow's album
tribute to Duke Ellington. I have many hours of tape from when Jerry
would come up to my place and we'd record and jam.
I suppose many people might have been surprised that
Jerry's memorial jam was hosted by Buddy Miles, but not me. Jerry seemed
to know everybody.
Here's a You Tube link to "Sax Freak" By Jerry
Wilson (special thanks to Charles Percy for posting this song):
Born February 1st,
1956-Died May 25th, 2004
I met Steve Jennings at a party at Terry Dickerson's
house in Evanston around 1986 or so. The party featured an outdoor jam
and there were a bunch of good musicians in attendance, including Kevin
Jennings. I ended up on
stage when Steve was playing and we got along really well musically.
Several months later I was producing a few songs at recording studio
Victor Sound and decided Steve would be a great addition to the session.
Tony Taylor and my old friend Bob Wolf were a part of that session, too.
We had such a good time recording together that we ended up forming a
group called, The Hava Brothers (see Tony Taylor section).
I had played with a few slap bass players before I
met Steve, but Steve really had a natural ability to get the most out of
the slap technique. Steve was very tall and somewhat imposing. He liked
to mess with people and kid around like he was trying to intimidate you,
but deep down he really was a very nice guy with a great sense of humor.
Steve was an outstanding musician with a great ear and had that
intangible instinct that the gifted musicians have.
Here's what bass guitar great Bill "Budda" Dickens
has to say about Steve:
"My teacher was Monk
Montgomery, Wes Montgomery's brother,"
Dickens said. "He was really a big influence on me. And then
there was Freddie Hubbard, he was another one I would consider my
teacher. Gene Harris, piano player, and also my buddy Henry Johnson on
guitar, they were my teachers. As far as my thumb playing, there's a guy
named SteveJennings, who I grew up with in
Evanston. He was a little bit older than me, but he had the whole slap
technique down in the late '70s. I was already playing slap, but he
showed me how to slap with his hands. Then I disappeared for about two
years. I locked myself in the closet. The next thing you know I was
playing so fast that it made no sense to me!"
It's gratifying to see that
Steve lives on in this manner. He touched a lot of people, and anyone
who had the pleasure of watching him play that bass felt that power he
From William Vito Jennings:
Steve started playing bass guitar at the age of
around 7 or 8 years old. He got the music bug from his older brother
Kevin Jennings who had started playing the lead guitar a year earlier.
Both Kevin and Steve were young musical prodigies who basically could
hear a musical pattern and learn to repeat it very quickly. They
started out playing on toy guitars and once their parents saw their
special talents, they went out and bought them both electric guitars.
Although they both were mostly self-taught, they did study music in
school through high school. When in high school, they both practiced
and played with various local bands. Steve was always pushed by his
older brother, as Kevin had become well versed in Jazz at an early age.
At the age of 16, Kevin was already playing jazz in bars with guys 2 and
3 times his age. Kevin, received a music scholarship to attend Virginia
Union University in Richmond, VA in 1971. After leaving school to play
full time with a band in Richmond, VA in 1973, Kevin called on Steve who
had just graduated high school to be their bass player. During their
tenure with the band "Charisma" in Richmond, they toured the Southeast
and honed their skills as professional musicians opening up for the
likes of Kool and the Gang, Chuck Brown, and many other recording acts
of the '70's. Sometime in 1977, they both returned to Chicago and
continued playing and recording with many local bands. At this time
Steve's playing was so phenomenal, that he was sought after by many
musicians. Through his musical career, he's played with many local
Chicago bands as well as musical stage plays. He was so talented that
after performing with his band at a festival he was asked to play with
the next band whose bass player couldn't make it. Steve having never
practiced or heard any of their music did the gig flawlessly and was
asked if he wanted to be their permanent bass player after the gig.
Steve was an awesome player who influenced many musicians around him,
most notably Bill "Buddha" Dickens, a phenomenal bassist in his own
right. Steve gave Bill some of his first bass lessons. Steve passed
away in 2004, but his spirit lives on in the many people’s
lives he touched. Steve was not only a great musician, but a real cool,
calm, and grounded person, as well. He is sorely missed by many.
Here are some great photographs of Steve, provided by
Williams Vito Jennings...