The other morning, just as I was about to have a shower, I suddenly got to think of a long forgotten band. I followed the thought back to when I was about ten years old.
Me and my new mate was hanging out at his parents house, drinking tea and listening to his step mums old albums. We where home alone and we could crank it up as loud as we wanted.
Now, I didn’t grow up in a particularly musical family. There just wasn’t a lot music around at home, so I loved to hang around mates that had more than five albums in the house. This was a time before Youtube and streaming, and music was valuable in a completely different way; Basically your circumstances heavily limited what you got to hear.
My mate pulled out the cover of an album called Sloppy Seconds and started introducing me to the band. He went through each and every band member, explaining what instrument they played, which songs they sang and what it was about. He even told me each members drug of choice….. Yes I was only ten, and my best friend had just introduced me to rock ’n’ roll, and the band was the amazing Dr. Hook.
This greasy haired gang of 1970’s slackers was never seen as a being particularly “cool”. They where for many basically just a stupid southern pop band, obsessed with their own drug abuse and backstage antics. But in my opinion their lyrics, written by Shel Silverstein, where about a thousand times more witty, clever and interesting than most other bands comes up with till this day …. They where also an extremely funky, bluesy, groovy and well playing band with at least two amazing singers and they had their style and image all sorted.
Yes, they went downhill musically in the late ’70s when they started becoming a “serious” cheesy pop band. But in the early years they where great ! They just had it all, and their music still holds up to this day.
All this was going through my head as I showered and then packed my gear into my car, getting ready for the gig that evening. Later, on my way home from the gig, at around 2AM, i turned on the radio. The News came on and announced that Ray Sawyer had died and they played Silvias Mother (which was actually sung by the other vocalist). I was gutted !!! but also a bit spooked as I had just thought of the band that morning.
Now, I know that it was the other dude (whats his name…with the greasy hair….) who sang lead vocals on most of their songs. But to me Ray Sawyer will always be the REAL Doctor.
Ray had the look, the style, the dance moves ! His cockiness, his ranting, the maracas (!) -Ray was the full package….. AND he was a great singer too…… -Honestly, who can actually seriously tell the difference between the two main Dr Hook voices ? Try comparing Cover Of The Rolling Stones with Freakers Ballwww.youtube.com/watch?v=uo9bKdIG_Yw.
Guitar player George Commings low voice would pop out occasionally, only getting featured when a sleazy enough song craved it, but the other two guys sang and harmonised like they where the same person….
But perhaps they actually where quite different. Perhaps Ray just wasn’t pushy enough to sing the main lead vocals, or maybe he got nervous when recording. Maybe he felt he was too old and it was better for business to let the younger greasy haired Dennis go first, or maybe the other guy was just better and faster at sucking up to the producer, manager or record label….. Who knows, to me there was only ONE Dr. Hook frontman -And that man was my man Ray Sawyer. R.I.P.