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.