2007: Fanmail

The Triple Door in Seattle.

Hello Al,
Just wanted to drop you a note of appreciation for the show you did in Portland last Saturday night. I enjoyed it immensely and my wife became an instant fan. I am an amateur guitar player and was struck by your unique style. I always thought of you as a keyboardist but your guitar work was great. The finale when you went into the audience is a moment I'll never forget! Thanks for coming to Portland; I hope to catch your show again sometime. Best wishes!

Dear Mr. Kooper,
It was great meeting you, albeit briefly, at McCabe's last week (you signed my LPs of "I Stand Alone" and "You Never Really Know Who Your Friends Are"). Although you aren't much older than I (and I look about 20 years older than you), you've been a real important figure in my life since my teens. Indeed, I wrote my one and only fan letter to you in 1969 when I was 16. And those autographs I got from you last week were the first and only autographs I've ever asked for.

You seemed tired -- totally understandable after a long show with no break -- or I would have told you all this in person. But maybe not. Sometimes it's hard to express appreciation like that in a brief conversation. Besides, I'm sure you get stuff like that all the time. But I didn't want to let this chance go by without telling you how much you've meant to me for a long, long time.

Thanks for everything.

Hey Al…just a note to say Sue & I caught your show in Portland. It was totally great, we loved it. Musically compelling and highly amusing all in one package. You funky for an old white dude…dug the arrangement of Blue Suede Shoes and your guitar playing in general (nice Jazzmaster). Going Going Gone is a great song…we couldn't hang for the meet & greet, unfortunately. I hope all is well with you and we can cross paths sometime before too long. BTW, I picked up a copy of the DVD, it's killer. Take care out there on the road.

Mark Spangler

I’m not sure if you noticed two people under 40 in the audience at McCabe’s. Well I just happen to be one of them, I am 16 and and by the way my name is Ariel True.

I have a question, I play the acoustic guitar but am thinking about also getting an electric, I really like the sound of yours, what kind is it?

I remember during the show you were talking about how remarkable it was that your teenage neighbor does not like rap. I am not a fan of rap either, see there is some hope for the future. All I listen to is stuff from the 60’s and 70’s. That must have been an amazing time, I have always felt that I don’t belong with my generation.

Anyway I really enjoyed your concert and am still in shock that this might actually be your email address, I mean people are not exactly approachable these days. I really hope to hear back from you, A music expeditionary,


P.S. you’re a funny guy

Welcome to Portland. The songs and arrangements and dialogue were superb. I'd never seen you solo before and I was not disappointed. Bravo.

The last song, I Can't Quit Her, (Rare & Well Done Disc 1 arrangement) was moving. After two and half hours of playing I don't know how you can do it ... no wait, yes, I think I do in fact. Inspiration. Muse.

Coming through the audience at the end reminded me of going to shule (something I rarely do anymore) as a kid and watching the cantor and rabbi carry the Torah through the congregation and everyone reaching to touch it.

Looking forward to the next album. Stay healthy, you are a treasure in a musical world gone awry.

Andy Brown

Hi Ernie,
Well, we got home an hour ago---long concert [2 and a half hours he played, without a break!] We heard him do a song from his BLUES PROJECT days and 2 off the Blood Sweat and Tears debut LP [one was the finale and he wowed all of us by going wireless, still singing, off stage, around the corner and out into the audience, all the time not losing the beat!] He did a slowed-down version of "Blue Suede Shoes" that knocked me for a loop...he opened with a slowed-down version of "Hi-Heel Sneakers" that was also memorable for it's guitar work as well as his bluesy vocal.

Excellent showman....a historian, too, but with a humor about it all that belies the fact that he does not take himself too seriously.

Oh, yeah: he signed stuff for the crowd after the show including my CD "Super Session" [I showed him the emails he and I had exchanged so he'd know who I was and he said 'I didn't lie' a reference to 'if you come to my show, I'll sign Super Session for you' which is essentially what his email said to me].

As his web site says, Al is not the guy to sell cds and t-shirts at his shows and sure enough, there were no goodies to buy BUT, Music Millenium [the store I am always telling you about] hosted this event and gave every ticket holder a poster for Al to sign. The poster is very 60's and printed on thick-paper.

So, Janet got him to sign her poster for you [he did not personalize it 'to Ernie' and when Janet was asking him to sign it for 'our friend Ernie,' Al told her that he just signs his name].

So....you'll be getting that in the mail next week.

Bill and Janet

Hey Al!
I saw you at the Seattle show at the Triple Door on the 16th. I had convinced my best friend to come with me and his wife wanted to tag along too. He's a serious autograph hound and he spent a lot of quality time to get a near mint copy of Act Like Nothing's Wrong. I bet he didn't even know that's your favorite album. Anyway he had never heard of Jerry Miller either who now lives back in this area and about a month and a half ago through one of Jerry's friends I was able to get wind of a very small gig, The album my friend brought to that gig for Jerry to sign was the Grape Jam LP with you and Bloomfield on it. I then mentioned you were coming to town and it might be worth checking out as well.

I must admit I was a bit disappointed when I saw it was going to be solo. I thought you'd have your smokin' kickass band with you. Little did I know it was going to be more of a 'Storytellers' type of experience. Can you see any member of today's so called pop groups trying to pull that off? To use a stupid baseball analogy, you hit it out of the park. The wall between artist and audience was completely broken down. I felt like I was in your home studio being shown all your recording gadgets like dude check this out!! Even the fact I can write you directly blows my ass away. And it's all so civilized! Even though I don't really play an instrument myself, I can tell you are a musician's musician. I got my first decent AM radio on my 11th birthday and I was immediately drawn to the Top 40 stations. When I was 12 I bought the single of 13 Questions by Sea Train because I dug the futuristic lyrics and the electric violin solo through a wah wah was too cool. To this day I've never heard that again on a top 40 hit.

My friend whom I told about the show is a collector of vintage music DVDs and he's got a box set of the Monterey Pop Festival. That flute song by the Blues Project blew us away and wasn't that a REAL young Elvin Bishop playing with you? I can see why you're sometimes called the Forrest Gump of '60s and '70s music. For me, you don't need any more bona fides than playing on Rainy Day Women. That's why when you say Dylan will outlast Keith Richards I don't doubt it anymore. At least Bob didn't try to snort his dad's ashes lol. I know that was just a joke.... I hope.

I'll have to see about getting that ReKooperator's DVD - Great name!!! I dunno, listening to musicians such as yourself to me is like listening to rennaisance music while we are stuck in an endless loop of musical dark ages. I love it that Paul Shaffer gave you that tribute for such a long period of time. He must have been a fan of yours from WAY BACK. Anyway thanks for a really enjoyable 2 and a half hours the other night and you might finally be making some real money, but never lose the fire that enables you to walk into any party, strap on that guitar or sit down at that keyboard and become Mr. Excitement all over again.

Your friend,

Dear Al,
I just came from your performance tonight. What a special, funny, relaxed artist you are on stage. When I was 20, I bought one of your records with Mike Bloomfield and I played it until it wore out. Those were years of much experimentation with mind-altering substances, that my granddaughter knows nothing about hopefully.

Thank you for a great evening of candor, warmth, and love. I am just a few years younger than you and can so relate to your stories of "things that are no longer made."

Be well, and I hope to have the pleasure of listening to your amazing skill again some time. I hope to purchase your CD, Black Coffee at my neighborhood music store in the next week.



what an awesome show... haven't stopped talking about it for three days... thanks Al...

loved your live performance (and story) of Going Going Gone... can't wait for your new record to become available.

a big fan- d

David Hale

hi al. just got home from the show at mccabes. you were GREAT. the sound was so clear tonight, there were some soulful moments that were really wonderful. you were funny as always, and the show felt really good tonight. would LOVE to see you with the Faculty here in l.a.

best regards,

jay marks

Back when I was working at Hollywood Sporting Goods, on Hollywood Boulevard, the Tubes did an in-store at the Peaches down the street. Fee came in his platform heels, as Quay Lewd. They blew in from KMET, signed some albums, and then were gone. I didn't see the band again until later that evening, at the Roxy. Al Kooper produced that record, the Tubes' debut, with not only "White Punks On Dope", but "What Do You Want From Life" and "Boy Crazy". Would it be stretching to call it a masterpiece? I don't think so.

Today Al Kooper was inducted into Hollywood's RockWalk, in front of Guitar Center, on Hollywood Boulevard. Felice goes to every induction, Guitar Center's CEO is on the board of the foundation she runs. She gets a check just before the inductees put their hands in concrete. I've never been. But today I went, to hang with Al, to have a good time. There were more VIPs than attendees. Not that you'd know this if you watch a squib on TV, there was a ton of media. But the real action was with the friends and hangers-on, about 175, who'd come to recall the Summer of Love. Well, not really. Rather an event that occurred that same summer, a bit further down the coast, the Monterey Pop Festival. Jim Ladd was the master of ceremonies. He introduced the local councilman, who'd bizarred me earlier. Who was the dude in work boots? And jeans and a denim work shirt? It's like he'd just came from Griffith Park, putting out the fire, and that's what they were talking about, saving our city, thanking the police and firemen. Not that anybody would have thanked these same personages forty years earlier, they were the enemy. But now they're us, or our younger brothers and sisters.

First inductee was Otis Redding. You should have heard Jim wax rhapsodic about Otis. About being not only a great artist, but a great businessman. Owning his own copyrights, putting out his own records, investing in real estate. And the bucks must still be coming in, since one of his grandkids was sporting a Louis Vuitton tote bag. Listening to Zelma Redding was like watching an old newsreel. She was THERE! Otis got home from Monterey at three in the morning and wanted to talk about achieving his goal. Otis may have composed his classic sitting on the dock in Marin, but he was a Georgia boy, he had roots, maybe that's why his music was so great. And then Lou Adler strode up to the dais. Lou... He was the Sergey Brin of his day. A benevolent businessman. Without Lou, there's not only no Monterey Pop Festival, but no Mamas & Papas. Lou was cool in his leather sneakers, striped jacket and cap. He wouldn't be this young if he lived in New York, but this beach-hound and Lakers fan is as much a part of the California sound, the California ETHOS, as Brian Wilson. Hearing him talk about the festival, about Al Kooper being the stage manager and Michelle Philips being in charge of advertising, one recalled the birth of this business, before it was run by conglomerates focused on the bottom line. Hell, the acts at Monterey played for FREE! Maybe that's why the business was such a juggernaut back then. In an age when the labels keep the music locked up and acts look to their handlers before making any decisions, spontaneity and soul have been eviscerated, and we're the worse for it. Michelle had a bit of stage fright. She was moved by the induction of her old act. Or maybe she was just freaked out that she was the only member left, still reeling with the passing of Denny just a few months back. Thank god the music lives on, because it seems like most rockers die before their time.

But Al Kooper still survives. A bit worse for wear, but his attitude and skills remain. Stunningly, for such a loquacious guy, Al found it hard to speak too. He said it was great to finally be recognized, that he never got any awards. Blondie and Patti Smith might be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but the man who played the organ on what is considered to be the greatest single of the rock era is not. And they played some of Al's compositions, as well as records he performed on and produced. The body of work was staggering. I loved hearing "I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know", but it was his productions that stuck with me. After the gig was over, Lonn asked me to sit in on the interview, which is done for posterity after every RockWalk induction.Lonn asked about Bobby Colomby, and "The Modern Adventures Of Plato, Diogenes And Freud". I wanted to know about "Free Bird". Did Al KNOW that it was gonna be one of the two most famous songs of the rock era? Of course not. Well then how about "Sweet Home Alabama". When I heard it during the ceremony I was reminded how one can never burn out on the track, how it's truly a classic. Turns out the first album was done. But Al got a call from the band. They had a new song, they wanted to record it NOW! Well, the album was being pressed, but if they would come up to Atlanta and demo it for him... Al heard it in rehearsal and cut it immediately, capturing the spark, BEFORE THE FIRST ALBUM WAS RELEASED!! And I'm talking to Al about being a producer. Wasn't the producer a key element of a record's success? Al smiled and said I'd answered my own question, without the producer, you had...Lynyrd Skynyrd's fourth album. Oh, Al wanted it to be good, he was rooting for them. But without him... And what did he add? The missing parts. The old musicians talk in code. But they can communicate, with other musicians. Those that are left. Hell, the guys in Badfinger who killed themselves mentioned Al's old manager in their suicide notes. Not that that's any satisfaction for monies Al's never gotten.

But Al's got the stories. Cutting the horn parts in "You Can't Always Get What You Want". Getting Stephen Stills in to complement Mike Bloomfield on "Super Session". And I'm thinking how I'm eating this up, how I'm living the life of my dreams. But most people just don't care anymore. We've outlived our era. They're lining up for "American Idol", I see them on Fairfax every Sunday night, but genuine stars, legends, creators, they're now ignored. There was a pulse once. When Felice took the mic and recounted her trip to Monterey in a friend's Ford, tears came to my eyes. It's the music that links us. We remember, we understand, it not only makes us us, it keeps us together.

Bob Lefsetz