I've Been out There: On the Road with Legends of Rock 'n' Roll

I've Been out There: On the Road with Legends of Rock 'n' Roll

I've Been out There: On the Road with Legends of Rock 'n' Roll

I've Been out There: On the Road with Legends of Rock 'n' Roll


In the 1950s, as the leader of the Upsetters, the original backing band for rock pioneer Little Richard, Grady Gaines first exposed the music world to his unique brand of "honkin'," bombastic, attitude-drenched saxophone playing.

In the years that followed, the Upsetters became the backing band for Sam Cooke and crisscrossed the country as the go-to-band for revue-style tours featuring James Brown, Gladys Knight and the Pips, the Supremes, Jackie Wilson, Little Willie John, and Etta James.

In I've Been Out There, the Houston blues and R&B legend Grady Gaines speaks candidly about his sixty-year music career and life on the road supporting some of the biggest names in blues, soul, and R&B. This annotated autobiographical account details Gaines's professional triumphs and personal sacrifices.

The book contains anecdotes about life on the road and in the studio during a period when the entertainment industry was vastly different, affording readers a glimpse into the creative makeup of a man whose distinctive sax playing powered some of the most popular songs of the era, helped define the genre, and mesmerized countless audiences.


From the outside looking in, the itinerant life of the touring musician has a romanticized appeal, especially if you’re someone who eschews routine and conformity, but as with any occupation, there are good days and bad days.

Just as professional athletes or actors get to live their lives doing what they love and getting paid for it, professional musicians are afforded an opportunity to make their living playing music—something that comes as natural to them as waking up in the morning. But as many entertainers have discovered, the good fortune of “doing what you love” doesn’t come without a price; yet, for many musicians, it’s the only life they ever wanted and, despite the pitfalls—fractured families, susceptibility to succumbing to the dark side of the road, loneliness, and financial instability, to name just a few—if given the chance to revisit the start of their career wouldn’t change a thing.

I’ve long been fascinated by the stories of musicians who plied their trade well before the advent of free downloads, YouTube, or Auto-Tune, in the days when radio was the primary source of public exposure and having a hit record still meant something. What we know as the modern recording industry, in which large companies like Columbia and rca Victor dominated the popular musical landscape, basically coalesced after the Great Depression and experienced its heyday in the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s. Musicians of this era generally stood on stage night after night and delivered the goods without the aid of backing tracks, digitally enhanced video presentations, and pyrotechnics. These artists had to move the audience with their instrument, voice, charisma, and stage presence.

However, many of these same performers, especially in the early days, also fell victim to signing recording contracts, through either their own . . .

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