by Robert Wilkinson
If you listened to the Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, Duane Eddy, Aretha Franklin, Bobby Darin, the Ramones, Dylan in the late 70s, or any of Phil Spector's "Wall of Sound" productions, you're heard this guy's work. Today we send up a happy birthday to one of the truly great sax players of the 20th century.
Steven Douglas Kreisman, aka Steve Douglas, (September 24, 1938 - April 19, 1993), along with Hal Blaine, Glen Campbell, Leon Russell, and a bunch of other top LA musicians were called "The Wrecking Crew," and played on hundreds of top hits during the 60s. Steve was one of the go-to guys during a time when some really great music was being created, and today I've assembled a few of his better known works. I chose to do the studio versions, so that you could hear Steve as the world first heard his work.
Before we go straight to the studio clips, I found a couple of great videos from the late 50s where Steve's front and center with Duane Eddy! First, straight atcha from the Summer of 1958, here’s the tune that introduced Duane and Steve to the world. Live on Dick Clark’s Saturday Night Beech Nut Show, here’s Duane Eddy and the Rebel Rousers with Steve on sax cranking out his Top 10 1958 mega-hit ”Rebel Rouser."
Also from Dick's Saturday Night Beech Nut Show, from the Spring of 1959, Duane and Steve cranking up "Forty Miles of Bad Road, and again from that same time period, a different clip of "Rebel Rouser."
We now go to the studio clips. Again featuring Duane Eddy's twangy guitar, here's Steve's wailin’ lead sax on "The Peter Gunn Theme." As you already know, he gives us the sax strut on 40 Miles of Bad Road," and check out the work on Duane's first hit, "Rebel Rouser".
He was with the King doing the smash hit "Viva Las Vegas"
He's going strong on the following Phil Spector productions!
Here are the Ronettes doing their classic "Be My Baby"
Here are three Steve did with the Crystals!
The sax drives this song! "Da do Ron Ron"
Steve's sax is all over this great hit!
I found both sides of the entire Phil Spector Christmas album. Each runs about 11 minutes. I suppose I should say this probably "announces" the Christmas season for all my readers, so enjoy the gifts to come the next 90 days!
If you choose not to listen to the entire album, here's one of the most powerful Christmas tunes ever written! Sung by Darlene Love, with Steve on the sax and Leon doing one of the best piano lines ever recorded at the crescendo, here's the awesome "Baby Please Come Home."
Steve playing with Ike and Tina Turner on the studio version of their smash hit "River Deep - Mountain High"
With the Righteous Brothers on "You've Lost that Lovin' Feeling"
Steve was one of the main saxmen during the surf music craze! He was in the thick of the mid-60s music, backing Jan and Dean in their huge surfing hit "Surf City" and their last hit, the prescient "Dead Man's Curve," as Jan Berry became crippled in a car crash around the time this hit big.
Steve was with the Beach Boys from "Surfin' USA" through "Pet Sounds," and so any time you hear the great tunes Brian and his brothers were cranking out during that time, if there was a sax, Steve was da man!
Steve did the clarinets, flutes, and saxes on the entire "Pet Sounds" album. For your enjoyment, Steve and the angelic voice of Carl Wilson on "God Only Knows" followed by two more "Pet Sounds" hits, "Wouldn't It Be Nice" and "Here Today"
He worked with America's bard, Bob Dylan, on his "Street Legal" and "Knocked Out Loaded" albums and was the sax on the Budokan tour. Here are three I really think you'll love!
One of my all time personal favorites! Classic Dylan, Classic Douglas! "Changing of the guards"
Brownsville Girl" (this fades into “Not Dark Yet,” a Dylan single released much later that Steve didn’t play on.)
From the Budokan tour, here's Bob with Steve's saxes or flutes doing some great Dylan tunes. Unfortunately, a bunch that were on you tube last year have disappeared, or gone from videos to audio-only performances off the lp. For those I could find, they're in order of how they were played at the show.
First, I got lucky and found the whole concert! For your enjoyment, all 2 hours 18 minutes of Bob Dylan Live at Budokan – entire concert
Now for a few individual songs from that show!
Bob doing a great reggae version of "Don't Think Twice It's Alright"
We'll close today's birthday tribute to Steve Douglas by replaying a tune I think is one of his greatest works. As I said earlier, I believe this is one of the most powerful Christmas tunes ever written! Sung by Darlene Love, with Steve on the sax and Leon doing one of the best piano lines ever recorded at the crescendo, here's the awesome "Baby Please Come Home."
For our encore, four tunes Steve was in on during the historic "SMiLE" sessions when the Beach Boys were on top. For your enjoyment, "Heroes and Villains," followed by the very Mercurial "Do You Like Worms." We now segue into the equally beautiful "Surf's Up," and close this set with "Good Vibrations"
Thanks for all the great music across the years. For those of us groovin' in the 60s and 70s, you and King Curtis were the most exciting sax players going! It's too bad you died so young of heart failure. RIP Steve. Your musical legacy will last forever.
© Copyright 2013 Robert Wilkinson