Sunday, September 03, 2006

David Hull's Rock Star Supernova

It’s funny to think that just a few months earlier, I was praying for another chance like Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, who made a wad of money, blew it all, and was allowed another go. Now my chance was right in front of me...
--Tabloid Baby, Chapter 25

...Tom Hamilton won’t be with his brothers until mid October. David Hull, a longtime friend of the band who played in the Joe Perry Project, will fill in as bassist.

Growing up in the Sixties and Seventies, we all wanted to be rock ‘n’ roll stars, and David Hull was the first rock ‘n’ roll star we got to know up close. We were in Connecticut, heading into high school, and he was the cousin of our best friend. David Hull was a few years older than us, a skinny, long-haired, velvet-wearing bass player in rock ‘n’ roll bands at a time when rock ‘n’ roll was important, when Jimi Hendrix was alive, the Beatles were still together and Steven Tyler was singing in local cover bands.

In 1969, David Hull and his guitar-slinging bandmate Charlie Karp entered local rock mythology when they joined The Buddy Miles Express in time to play on the Them Changes album. Buddy was a big fat drummer with a big Afro and a psychedelic red white and blue drum kit who'd been in the Electric Flag and played in Band of Gypsies with Hendrix. Timing being everything, David and Charlie got to know Hendrix-- and play at his funeral. After a couple of years, they left Buddy Miles, made an album with Arthur Lee, and returned to Connecticut with a funk trio called White Chocolate and a contract with RCA Records.

One thing: David Hull was a great rock 'n' roll (and funk) bass player. In high school, he gave us bass guitar lessons, teaching us patterns and names like James Jamerson and Willie Weeks. He had extra cachet because he was friends with the guys in Aerosmith, whose first two albums were essential to every Connecticut kid, and legend was that he and Charlie had recorded with Tyler and that he’d almost joined their band.

That was more than thirty years ago.

Around the time punk was breaking, White Chocolate became The Angels with Dirty Faces, which became the Dirty Angels which were the best bar band of the Seventies— real rock stars in beachside clubs, opening with the Beach Boys' Marcella, blasting in with originals.

They had the chops. They had the attitude. They had rock ‘n’ roll model girlfriends and even had a shot at the big time when they recorded an album for Private Stock at the same time Blondie was laying down their first LP for the same label across the hall. Bruce Springsteen told Creem magazine that their record Tell Me was his favorite song on the radio. But this was the record business. They made their next album with Ted Nugent’s producer— and included new versions of songs from their first album. The Dirty Angels opened for Aerosmith, but eventually broke up.

Around that time, Joe Perry left Aerosmith and started The Joe Perry Project. David Hull joined as bass player.

This was 1980. The gig lasted probably a year and a half.

Joe Perry would get back with Aerosmith for an even greater ride. And that was the last we‘d heard of David Hull, until about a year ago when we looked him up on the Internet. In an interview on an Aerosmith tribute site, he confirmed the legends we’d grown up with:

”I'm from southern Connecticut and I think Steven Tyler was from Yonkers. When I was a kid I used to see him playing around the circuit there. His band would play in high school gyms. I saw him once open up for Sly Stone I think, he had this band called The Chain Reaction and for part of the time he played drums in it. So I just knew him. I was playing with Buddy Miles. Buddy moved to Boston, I started living in Boston and met Steven … Charlie Karp and I were going to start a band with Steven and we actually got together and recorded… Steven wrote the lyrics and sang on it… but then Charlie Karp and I left town with Buddy Miles and went on the road. By the time we got done with that Aerosmith was already under way…”

David Hull had settled in Boston. His story got a little sad in the Eighties as he played with a number of fashionable bands—even changing his name and dressing up for one of them. More recently, he was playing bass for a singer named Pete Droge and recorded with local blues hero James Montgomery.

And, apparently, he stayed friends with the guys in Aerosmith.

Last week, we read that Aerosmith’s bass player, Tom Hamilton, is being treated for throat cancer and would miss the beginning of the band’s Fall tour. And then Aerosmith’s management put out a press release:

David Hull, a longtime friend of the band who played in the Joe Perry Project, will fill in as bassist.

The tour is set to launch Tuesday in Columbus, Ohio.

Aerosmith.com reports: “David Hull has been in the studio everyday going over a countless number of songs with (drummer) Joey and David usually got into the studio 2 hours before the rest of the guys to get into a groove.”

So David Hull gets another shot at the big game, 25 years later. Tom Hamilton’s recovery will determine whether he'll be more than a footnote in Aerosmith history, but at a time when we're digging our rock stars 50 years and older, his second, or third, or fourth act couldn't have come at a better time.

Once a rock star, always a rock star.

(The Hulls were a musical family. Dave’s grandmother was our freshman music teacher and his dad was a jazz musician who’d gone the Louis Prima route with a Vegas lounge act. Every year, Gene Hull would bring his group and his gorgeous girl singer to play in our high school gym. Today, one of our researchers discovered that daddy Gene Hull recently wrote his own Tabloid Baby! Hooked on a Horn: Memoirs of A Recovered Musician was published last November. It looks like a great read. We’re ordering it from Amazon, and will have a review soon.


Anonymous said...

I had the pleasure of meeting Dave when I recorded some songs in Seattle with producer Pete Droge(Dave played bass with Pete in the Sinners).
Dave put a lot of love and intensity into the tracks and he was a real good guy as well.
All the Best Dave!


Eastwood57 said...

Dave Hull has always been one of the best bass players around the New England area. The guy just always knows the right thing to play.

Anonymous said...

I saw him with the JPP in San Juan, PR in 1980 in the Easter Rock Jam-he was great!

Anonymous said...

I also had David's grandmother for my music teacher, and she was always talking about him. '76

Anonymous said...

I toured with Pete D and the Sinners back in 98 in a band called Sonichrome. What an incredible band they were. I put them up there with the Heartbreakers. Dave was an all around great guy and a consumate R&R bass player. Glad to see he got the chance to play with his old friends. From the 40 watt club to arenas, way to go, Dave. -Rodney

Russell Leach said...

I met Dave in Boston back in '85.He was rocking with a local Band and played the same circut as I did.He,just blew my mind!His sound and warm character add so much, "Larger than Life", Beauty to this world....Rock 'til ya Drop Dave!

Anonymous said...

Would love to meet him!Saw him twice last month with JM Band.Fanfingtastic!!! He gave me a devilish look twice-in Salem I was the girl in the red dress and in Saugus I was in the catholic school skirt. How do I get in touch?

Anonymous said...

I grew up across the street from Dave. He was a teenager and I was in grammar school. I still remember his band at the time practicing in the basement of the Hull house and whole neighborhood would vibrate...
Glad to see Dave is still keeping on.
Christine W

Anonymous said...

I knew Dave back in the 80s, and played shows with Farrenheit with Russel Leach; he played drums in my band. He's one of the best bass players on the planet, and one of the nicest people I have ever met. I would love to see him again. I always told him "when I grow up,
I wanna be like Dave". That still rings true. And I'm 48.

Tim May
Boston, Mass.

Anonymous said...

David Hull is one of the greatest bass players in rock and blues history. He also happens to be a truly great guy. Good things should happen to good people. -Walt Panek

Anonymous said...

While Mr. Hull is a good bass player no doubt, I remember him also having a serious ego issue at party. My band was just little High School kids who got the chance to play a beach party that David Hull was at and also Craig McGregor (who was playing in Foghat). Of course we were over our heads with glee at performing for such "big boys" cuz we knew our lead player was amazing and could match any big time lead guitarist. We didn't have lead signer so Howard Eldridge who would go on to sing in Blues Brothers II after Belushi died agreed to fill in for us.

So David Hull asks me if he can play rythym after about four songs we played. I said sure because he had been pointed out to me as having played the big tour circuit. After about 3 songs with him on my guitar, I meekly walked up to him to ask if I could play again with my band. Now there was a log to hot chicks in Bikinis just in front of the band and he says in a couple songs. So I left, after FOUR more songs I pretty much told him to give it back to me...when he ignored me, well here was this much older guy who literally took it off and nearly knocked me over with it the way he thrust it back at me.

That was lame to the extremo..I remember thinking that at the time and now as an adult think it even more so to this day....he semmed to me someone who didn't care to share the spotlight.

He may be a saint for all I know now but with all of these gushing comments about him, I figured I would pass along my experience with the guy.

Steve Foley said...

Sour grapes to "Mr. Extremo." Hey, it's only rock n'roll, my friend.

I met Dave in 1978, we were both from Stratford. I was involved in a play as writer and director. It was a musical, Dave was dating one of the girls in the show. He came to our rehearsals and one night when when our bass player didn't show I looked at Dave.
"I wish we knew someone who played bass," I said.
He jumped up like it was his duty and filled in for the night.
We became drinking buddies for the rest of the show- 4 weeks- we both loved Brian Wilson and I was more than happy to listen to Dave's ideas about rock and roll. I even wrote my first song for that show; we were doing all covers for the music and the band couldn't figure out the complicated changes in Pet Sounds "I Guess I Just Wasn't Made For These Times." After rehearsal I was drinking with Dave and told him I'd write a song myself. He bet me I couldn't do it. I went home that night and sat at the piano until dawn, more to impress Dave than for any other reason. We used the song in that play; Later,I had a band for 5 years, playing all originals. My six degrees of Steven Tyler and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Thanks to Dave.
David Hull was a real good guy. Probably not perfect; just a real dirty angel.

holly said...

I remember White Chocolate. Charlie Karp and David Hull. I was from Fairfield, Steve Tallarico(Tyler) was always in Westport back then. There were several bands that played the old ice skating rink. The ice cream parlor turned into a teen club called the Rage. We even had the Vagrants play St Thomas grade school dance with Leslie West!
Great memories, great times.

Sue said...

That first image of David Hull, it's actually one that I took back in the day.

Gene HUll said...

David is the best oldest son any father could ever want. A stand up guy. Paid his dues double. Doesn't live in the past. Tries to make every day count for good. I'm extremely proud of him.
FYI here is the link to his father's youtube book promo:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LIMqL9ShWig. Or just click in Chasing the Muse on YouTube.com

bob said...

As a DJ at WPLR in New Haven I had the pleasure to hang out with David, Charlie and the brothers Maher back in the Dirty Angles days. "Tell Me" was a pop favorite of mine and should have been a top 40 hit. I still like many others including 'Buzz Off' 'School Drag' and especially 'You Got Me Runnin'- check out David's growlin' bass tone in that one! Glad I kept my vinyl & glad I had the liberty to play music I loved back in the day when radio had a heart.

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Chris J said...

Good guy - except he doesn't call.... What's up with that DH??

GaryW said...

Knew DH in high school in Stratford, he lived close by; one of his earliest bands (67-68) was the Lavender Blues which had the sound and attitude all the other local bands wanted to have (including mine). We used to watch him onstage just to copy his bass runs. At that time he was the essence of hippie cool, a great guy to be around, and just about the best musician all us wannabe rockers had ever heard.

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