Friday, March 25

The Bostonians: Willie "loco" Alexander

Willie "loco" Alexander is a veteran from the Boston music scene. In the sixties he was in a garage band called the Lost, then joined the last incarnation of the Velvet Underground in which Moe Tucker was the only original member left.

Willie and Kenne Highland on Saint Patrick's day

Eventually Willie Alexander and the Boom Boom band became Boston heroes towards the end of the seventies, the single Kerouac/Mass Ave being a classic to this day. Willie has been involved in many projects since then, he is a pure artist, a poet, some say a genius. I managed to ask him my usual stupid questions about Jonathan and he kindly answered me, sending me a letter.

the letter

As Jonathan, Willie is a bit reluctant concerning the internet. Here is the transcript of what he wrote me:

- Did you see the Modern Lovers live, how was it ?

The first time I saw JR perform was on the Cambridge Common during a series of free concerts, ealy 70's. He was alone, singing with a baseball glove on his hand, no guitar. People thought he was nuts, very intense.
Then with just a guitar and Lou Reed songs, then with the Modern Lovers, David and the two curly mops of hair Jerry and Ernie. Hot band on the Common. Saw him at a coffee house with John Felice, moved. he was a real captivating performer and looked totally anti rock and roll with short hair and regular clothes. Then off to "Records of fame" and the band broke up.
Came back and "didn't want to hurt baby's ears", singing Happy birthday and campfire songs.
Andy Paley wanted me to join his band but it wasn't my kind of music.
I'd go see him because he is an original and follows his own heart. It's been a while since I've seen him perform.

- What is the first song from Jonathan you ever heard ?

don't remember the first song, just his earnestness.
I dug that everyone in Boston was waiting for the big record for JR, it seems like he abandonned the big sound and the big beat of the Modern Lovers. He was ahead of his time in the 70's. People have caught up with him. He's a good business man.
I loved JR, that he was like Edith Piaf or Judy Garland and hilarious. Loved "Roadrunner" and "Hospital" and "Picasso", early 70's.

- Any Jonathan related anecdote ?

He came to my mum's appartment once and sent me postcards from California. He ended up with my friend Jeff Wilkinson's wife and son. She died recently, the boy is in a rock band.I sang and played piano on that record with him of Lou Reed's "I'm sticking with you".
Didn't see him for a long time. He came to see Jeff and brought his son when Jeff was in hospice and gonna die.

- What is your favourite Jonathan album ?

I only have a couple of his early records

- Beth Harrington and Ellie Marshall sung with Jonathan and also did
sessions with you ("the Boston incest album", I still cherish it), what
could you tell us about them ?

Singing with Beth and Ellie was great. "Real girl" back up vocals. I did a version of "lonely avenue" with them in Ellie's brother, Barry Marshall's band. I thought it was kinda fun singing that old do wopp song.

- An anecdote about your stay in the Velvet Underground

Was less fun in the VU. I perfected chewing lots of gum on stage, the ugly american yo. Oh , and I don't know the Barracudas, send me some..

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