On Monday night, March 18, the Who’s Roger Daltrey gave a surprise performance in Los Angeles at The Joint, appearing with the club’s Monday night "house band," comprised of longtime Rolling Stones back-up vocalist Bernard Fowler, Stevie Nicks guitarist Waddy Wachtel, guitarist Jack Tempchin, ex-Tom Petty drummer Phil Jones, bassist Rick Rosas, and vocalist Terry Reid, long reported to have been Jimmy Page’s first choice as lead singer for Led Zeppelin.
Bernard Fowler is often referred to as Mick Jagger’s secret weapon, in that the lead vocalist for the Stones vocalist rarely ascends a stage any more without Fowler on backing vocals. Bernard, who has toured with the Stones for a decade, has also been an integral part of solo albums and tours of band members Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, and Ron Wood. Fowler appeared on Saturday Night Live last year with Mick Jagger, and at Jagger’s L.A. performance that was filmed for the documentary, Being Mick. Bernard recently gigged with former X-pensive Wino Ivan Neville, as a member of Bruce Willis’ band on the Letterman Show. Fowler s heard on several Stones albums, including the band’s most recent work, Bridges To Babylon. He’s also recorded with numerous other musicians, including Yoko Ono and Living Color.
Wachtel opened the set in his usually animated form, giving no hint of what was to come. Wachtel, a world-class guitarist, was heavily sampled on the multi-platinum "Bootilicious" by Destiny’s Child, a song that relied upon Wachtel’s rhythmic guitar track from the Stevie Nicks song "Edge of Seventeen/Just Like A Wild Winged Dove." The always humble Wachtel seems almost amused when asked about his unplanned contribution to the success of the trio, which recently performed at the Grammy’s. "I never thought I’d be sampled on a hiphop record," he muses.
It’s not unusual for this group of musicians, who jam together on Monday nights in L.A., to play covers of popular rock classics, but last night, during the first set, the intro was given, "We’re going to do a song by the Who, so we need professional help on the stage." At this point, Bernard Fowler came up on stage and the audience loudly applauded, as he took an exaggerated bow, while members of the audience who knew what was going to go down, and got the joke, and laughed at Fowler’s sense of humor. Daltrey soon ascended the stage, looking far younger than his years. The band broke into the legendary Who classic, "The Kids Are Alright," from Tommy.
The fact that the Who will be touring this year is no secret, but certainly no one expected Daltrey’s warm-up at this L.A. club. Daltrey clearly picked the best house band in L.A. with which to do it. "This band’s too loud for me!" joked Daltrey, clearly a reference to the Who’s reputation for being the loudest band to ever grace a stadium, and for decibel levels that have often cited as being a contributing factor to guitarist Pete Townshend’s hearing problems.
Meanwhile, among those in the club’s audience was Kid Rock with Pamela Anderson in tow. Audience members were overheard making comments that they hoped Kid didn’t go on stage.
Daltrey’s next number with the band was the Ben E. King classic, "Stand By Me," a track that has been covered by several artists, including John Lennon. Daltrey and Reid exchanged verses.
Wachtel, wearing a ripped-up Headbanger’s Ball t-shirt, was soon ripping into AC/DC’s "Sin City," with Fowler on lead vocals. Daltrey was fixated on watching Fowler, as the dreadlocked singer pranced onto the bar, and performed a rendition of the song that was so powerful, it would have likely made Bon Scott come back from the dead if he had heard it. Daltrey was clearly mesmerized as he watched Fowler.
Southern rocker Stacy Plunk followed, with a rendition of the Tina Turner’s"Nutbush City."
Fowler soon returned, taking the audience away, with a cover of the Stones’ "Wild Horses." Daltrey watched Fowler, in what seemed to be a trancelike state. After another musician took Fowler’s place, the legendary Who frontman slipped out of the club. It was clearly one of those nights that will forever remain part of L.A.’s musical history.
The Who is slated to play in Los Angeles on July 1 at the Hollywood Bowl.
Phyllis Pollack lives in LA, where she writes about music and fights attempts to censor lyrics by the likes of Tipper Gore and other prudes.