I've always thought that a big laugh is a really loud noise from the soul saying, Ain't that the truth.
I was inspired by a lot of people when I was young. Every band that came through town, to the theater, or the dance hall. I was at every dance, every night club, listened to every band that came through, because in those days we didn't have MTV, we didn't have television.
We spent most of our life almost like street rats just running around the street until we were ten years old.
We stole a box of honey jars one time and went out in the woods and took care of the whole box. I don't think I touched honey again for 20 years. I never wanted to see honey again.
It slaps your dignity just right. I loved the idea of these proud, dignified black men, and I saw the older ones wounded, and it wounded me ten times as much because I couldn't stand seeing them hurt like this.
I got a scholarship to Seattle University and I was writing arrangements for singers and everybody. But the music course was too dry and I really wanted to get away from home.
My father was a carpenter, a very good carpenter. He also worked for the Jones boys. They were not family members, we weren't related at all. They started the policy racket in Chicago, and they had the five and dime store.
If you started in New York you were dealing with the biggest guys in the world. You're dealing with Charlie Parker and all the big bands and everything. We got more experience working in Seattle.
It's easy to get next to music theory, especially between your peers and music classes and so forth. You just pay attention. I had a good ear, so I realized that printed music was just about reminding you what to play.
It's amazing how much trouble you can get in when you don't have anything else to do.
We got into all the trouble you could ever imagine. We figured that if the Jones boys and all the gangsters ran Chicago, we had our own territory now. All the stores, all the crime, we were in charge of everything, my stepbrother and my brother.
Just blow in it and sound bad for about a year and then make it sound a little bit better, and you get a little band together, and then you get a few jobs. You take four guys that sound half bad, but if they're 25 percent each, they can give 100 percent, you know?