Little Beaver Talks “Joey,” his Green Gretsch, and Miami Club Life

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“I played “Joey” with a Gretsch guitar. Betty Wright used to call it “That Green Gretsch.” It’s unusual to have a guitar that color, and it was a big body guitar, hollow body; good sound and everything. But the way I wrote that song is, I used to like BB King, and a lot of blues stuff, and I wanted to write something to mimic him.

I had this experience with a woman, as a young man you have affairs with women, and so one night (I was also married), one night I was thinking i was in the room with a young lady and we had overslept so I tapped her on her behind to try and wake her up not realizing I was home in my bed. When I woke up, I realized I was home tappin my wife, and so thats how the idea for the song came about.

It was actually me but I switched it around and put the lyrics together and it worked out just fine yknow and it turned out my wife didn’t mind cause it made her some money.

But that’s how a lot of blues songs were made. Johnnie Taylor “Who’s making love to your old lady while you’re out making love?” Stuff like that.

We recorded it out the TK Productions, Henry Stone’s recording studio with Steve Alaimo and Willie Clarke.

It was not even called TK at that time. It was Tone Recording studio. That there is where we cut “Cleanup Woman,” KC and The Sunshine Band, all that stuff in that little upstairs studio 8 track, and we got a great sound.

I didn’t even know “Joey” broke. When the song came out I was in Boston. I cut “Joey” and then I left town because we had 2 riots and the civil rights movement and work turned out to be slow in black clubs.

Sam & Dave broke up at the same time, And Dave came back to Miami. I was playing on 7th ave and 60th street at the Continental Club. Musicians used to just gravitate to me. They would come in and show up wherever I played.

I used to get horn players and all kind of different players would come and jam on that stage with my little band. They would play even if I couldn’t pay em’ and so we had a nice little group and we was kickin ass even though business slow.

Dave Prater from Sam & Dave came through. My drummer had been on the road with them for a while. Sam was in NYC at the time, and Dave came back home to Miami where he lived. He needed a band and wanted to go on the road. So we went on the road with Dave. Only thing is Dave’s agent was booking us as Sam&Dave. When they didn’t see Sam they didn’t care how good you sound. So a lot of gigs got cancelled.

We ended up in New York and then Boston and got a couple gigs. One day, I call back home and Willie Clarke said, “When you coming home? You got a hit!”

My wife sent money up to me and I took the first thing smoking.

Henry wanted to cut an album and so I got back home quick as I could and that was how I got the Joey album. I caught the bus and by the time I got back the rest of the band all got back. We wasn’t doin too good out there in America, so we came on back to Miami.”

From a 2014 interview with Little Beaver

Article ©Jake Katel. All Rights Reserved.

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