DOC HOLLIDAY AT TWENTY - FIVE
AN INTERVIEW WITH FOUNDING MEMBER BRUCE BROOKSHIRE
by Michael Buffalo Smith
One of the South's finest bands, Doc Holliday this year celebrates their 25th anniversary with the release of a great new CD, Rebel Souls, and a European Tour. We caught up with Bruce Brookshire at his home in middle Georgia just before his flight to Germany.
This year you celebrate 25 years as a band. What have you learned about the music business in 25 years? What about life lessons? Is there anything, in retrospect, you would have done differently?
Unfortunately, the business part is the same and always will be. There are some good people around that actually care about the quality of the product, but by and large they are the smaller "people oriented" companies. We are fortunate to have found and been found by some of those. I continually learn life lessons. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Make friends and partners in music for life. Personally, i should have stayed away from the "excess of success" but I didn't, and I thank God that He has woven such a rich tapestry out of my life - everything that came before, into what is now. No one can go back and change things. When you know better you do better.
Tell us about Rebel Souls. What made you decide to pay tribute to these various artists?
The concept was the idea of a friend of mine, Michael Knippschild, a Southern Rock music expert in Germany. We are both writers and will do projects together in the future. The song selection represents sounds that made Doc Holliday a band. An Alabama friend of mine, Kenny Daughtry, who is an expert on Southern Rock helped me pick the songs.
How many members of Doc have been with you since the beginning? Can you fill us in on the whereabouts of former members?
The original band made three LP's. When the third album tanked, we imploded. It took a while to recover from that. John, Eddie and I made Danger Zone with drummer Jamie Deckard in 1986. Soon after I had a reunion with Daniel Bud Ford - we played together as kids- and we did Song for The Outlaw together in early 1988. The lineup was in transition at the time. We joined with Johnny Vaughan, Billy Yates and the Doc-ettes, June and Karen, for a short time.
The rhythm section became stable later in '88 with the addition of Danny "Cadillac" Lastinger. John and I were the two original members on the next two CDs, Son of The Morning Star and Legacy, which is one of my all time favorite Doc CDs. Eddie came back for the next two, A Better Road and Good Time Music. Bud, Cadillac and I have been together solidly since late 1988. The rhythm section has been together much longer and has done more albums than the original lineup.
I still have a great relationship with Ric Skelton and Herman Nixon from the original band. It has been a real blessing to have these guys in my life. Ric is a monster player, a "Tennessee Natural." I am shocked that no one has picked up any of his bands. I think he cares more about the music than the business. So his head is on straight. I wish we lived closer. i miss him a lot. Herman is an excellent drummer and teaches drums here in middle Georgia. He cares more about having a stable home life than going on the road, I think. Eddie has an ongoing solo career, with one CD out and another in the process. He and John have considerable writing, playing and vocal talents that don't get enough expression in the Doc format, so it is good for them to stretch out and have fun. John has his first solo CD in the works which should be finished this year.
If I asked you to tell me about Eddie Stone as a man and as a musician, what would you tell me?
Eddie is a good man, a family man, dedicated to his wife Lisa and daughter Keri. He and John are both good family men, and talented, experienced musicians. we play together and we pray together. Anything they want to do is fine with me.If they want me to help, i will. Friends are a gift from God.
How many albums has Doc put out over the years and do you have particular favorite?
We've done ten, not including the "Best of" and compilations. There sure are a lot of those around, though. I like parts of all of them. I like Legacy a lot. Good Time Music sounds pretty solid as well. Rebel Souls ain't too shabby...
We have lost a lot of great musicians and record people over the past two years– did you have any friends pass, and if so, how did it make you feel?
I am saddened by the loss of every human life before its time. We must face the fact that God calls us at his time, not ours. To see a life cut short by any kind of disease or abuse is tragic. Modern culture sometimes makes heroes out of those who die tragic deaths and that is so unfortunate.
You return to Germany this month, where you guys are idolized. Tell us about Doc’s relationship with Germany.
Well, I wouldn't say idolized. We do have lots of friends there and that is so great. My relationship with Germany goes back to my childhood. I raised on and near an air force base there for almost eight years The band's relationship with Germany is surely the product of my brother George Bayer (founder of the German Southern Rock band Lizard) and his efforts on our behalf.
We have toured Scandinavia (we really love Finland), Switzerland, Austria and the UK as well, but Germany is our favorite. They are such gracious hosts and they connect with our music. I love to play Christian music at churches and festivals there as well!
Tell us about Phoenix Records.
Based in Hamburg, Germany, they have a wide roster of artists. I think we are the only Southern Rock band on the label. They were very tied up with the biker scene in Europe for a while, but now they have diversified and are more of a main stream indie label. I know label chief Tom Hallek and his family personally and I consider them friends first and business partners second. That's the kind of relationships we try to maintain after all these years.
I know you are a minister and have recorded at least one beautiful gospel record. Any plans for more?
Our church, Grace Fellowship in Warner Robbins, Georgia is a vibrant, energetic, welcoming place for everyone. We are a solid family and growing. I am blessed to be their pastor. It is God's church, not mine, and the music we play there is also His. My next project will be recording our praise band: Don Lee on guitar, Tim Chandler on bass, Mike Robinson on hammered dulcimer, Don Rehner on keyboards, and Cadillac on percussion. We all sing and it's sort of organic contemporary Christian music.
What artists do you yourself like to listen to?
I love the CD by The Thorns, Matthew Sweet, Pete Droge, and Shawn Mullins. They were the first band I actually bought tickets to go see in over 20 years. I have purchased five copies of that CD, and I guess they have broken up now.
My very favorite new band is Keane. I absolutely love them and my wife Lisa and i have seen them in concert as well. They are nothing short of amazing live. Maybe they won't fall into some of the traps I did as a young musician.
If you could have a jam with four people, living or dead, who would they be and why?
I have always had a good time playing with my good friend and brother Larry Howard, and he's very much alive. He has that whole Jesus, blues, Capricorn Records thing going on. I'd be afraid, but I'd like to jam with Miles Davis. I think anyone who has any sense was afraid of Miles. I would have liked to have been in the same room with Roy Orbison at any time. He is a hero of mine. Ron Pierce, who plays harp on the new Doc CD is fun to jam, with. Is that four?
Name your ten Desert Island Discs. That is, if you were stranded with only 10 CDs, what would they be?
Rubber Soul and Revolver by The Beatles; Keane's Hopes and Fears; Deep Purple Perfect Strangers; The Thorns; Lizard's Lonely are the Brave;any Yellowjackets CD; a Poco CD; Stephen Stills Manassas; the first CS&N cd; something else with Chris Hillman on it; is that ten?
What have been some of the highlights of your life, in and out of Doc Holliday?
My daughter Rachel reading to me at age 4; helping her ride her bike without training wheels; my marriage to Lisa with my Mom present; our life together; my very real experience of the Risen Christ in 1996; beginning Grace Fellowship in 2005; Boy, Doc Holliday certainly runs second to all that stuff...
Finally, what are your plans for the immediate future?
I have two partners in a recording studio- Don Lee and alan Pike. Our studio is called Tone Shack, right here in middle Georgia. I think we will produce women fine Southern music here in the near future. Aside from the many recording projects I have in the works- Eddie Stone, John Samuelson and The Grace Fellowship praise band, my main focus is on taking care of the members of our church. i am on call, any time of the day, for anyone in need. That really means anyone, member of our church or not. I am looking forward to whatever God has in store for me.
I'd also like to add that GRITZ (swampland.com) is the best place to get Southern Rock information. Michael Buffalo Smith is an artist and a Southern Rock icon. Please folks, take care and love each other! God bless you.