Like a Rolling Stone
A Visit with Former Doc Holliday Member, and Current Solo Star, Eddie Stone
by Michael Buffalo Smith
Eddie Stone spent many years playing keyboard and guitar for the Southern Rock band Doc Holliday, but today, the Warner Robins, Georgia native is embarking on a solo career with a great new CD, "Right Tonight" (See our CD Reviews page) and performing with an excellent band as Eddie Stone and the Soul Shakers.
We met up with Eddie in Macon, where he kindly agreed to an exclusive GRITZ interview.
How did you first become interested in playing music, and what was the first instrument you played?
My Grandmother and my Dad both play. My Dad played steel guitar. He played with Raleigh Puckett and Gibb Tanner, who were the first two people in the Country Music Hall of Fame. There's an alternative group called Gibb Tanner & The Skillet Lickers, but they are the third generation from the original Skillet Lickers. My Grandmother played ukulele, and I used to strum around on it. I didn't realize that was the seed that was being planted. Then I saw The Beatles on "The Ed Sullivan Show." Their first appearance. I looked at it. Saw the look of horror on my Parents faces and said "That's what I'm gonna do."
It's amazing how many people I talk to cite The Beatles as a major influence toward becoming a musician.
(Laughs) Yeah, Elvis played the guitar too, but he didn't get the girl when he was playing the guitar. The Beatles got the girls when they played guitar. I really think that's what made me say "I want to do that." They were on three weeks in a row and I saw all three weeks. I was not going to miss it.
Tell us about some of your early bands, prior to Doc Holliday.
I guess the very first band I played in was Bolder. I guess I played in one other band. But Bruce Brookshire, from Doc Holliday, and I went to high school together. We started playing together at a very young age.
So you guys were from Macon. right?
Warner Robins, which is right below Macon. I think Bruce was 13 or 14 when I met him. I was a couple of years older. He was different, and I liked that. He wasn't playing the same stuff everybody else was. We kind of clicked. We didn't actually form the band until after I was getting out of the army. That was around 1973. I was, in fact, the last person drafted in the state of Georgia. I came home on leave about a year before I was to get out of the service, and Bruce and I started playing. I was dying to play. We opened for Wet Willie down in Albany, Georgia. The band was called Roundhouse at the time.
When did you guys become Doc Holliday?
We signed with A&M Records in 1979. Somebody up in Canada had the name Roundhouse trademarked. At the time, I was heavily into this Time-Life book series on the Old West. I read that the original Doc Holliday was from the state of Georgia. I thought, how cool would that be? I brought it up to the rest of the guys in the band, because we had to change our name. We had three names. I remember two of them, Doc Holliday and Rebel Gray. We had some notoriety in our home town, with a demo tape that was number two or three on their rotation. So after we signed with A&M, we had a radio interview and let the listeners vote for our name. Doc Holliday won out overwhelmingly.
How long did you guys play together, and when did the band break up?
We were Roundhouse, from the summer of '71- like I said, I wasn't in the band for two years- we became Doc Holliday in '79 and our first album came out in 1980. Somebody said Southern Rock was dead in the early eighties. We went to Germany to do our third album, "Modern Medicine." A lot of pure Doc fans don't care for that record. It had a lot of new sounds on it. It was produced by Mac, the guy who produced Queen and Billy Squier. We actually had a vision at the time of taking Southern Rock to this place. Nobody wanted to buy it, until about three years later when ZZ Top did the same thing. They were much cooler than we were. (Laughs) Billy is the epitome of cool. When Rev. Billy said it was cool to do that, it was. Not to say that they were jumping on something we had done. They just had the same idea. The world just wasn't ready for a bunch of redneck Southern Rockers to do what we did. I still think the record it's a good record. We did that, and then in about '85, I think, Bruce can help us on this, we decided we were going to do something different. Then in about '87, we missed it, and reformed. At one time we had three guitar players and two keyboard players. The guy that plays keyboards in my band, Tony Cooper was playing in Doc Holliday for a while. We had a different drummer. At one time, Rick Skelton, who was an original member of Doc, rejoined the band. We did the album "Danger Zone." I left the band again for a while. Then in '88, Europe came knockin.' They said, "Southern Rock didn't die over here. We didn't know that." A&M didn't let us know about that. We had a bunch of air play, a bunch of sales and a bunch of fans over there. We reformed again and started going to Europe, opening for a Blackfoot and hordes of other bands, Faith No More, different bands. We saw that we had a huge following over there. Then in 1990 I left the band again. The Gulf War was coming, it was harder get over there and tour. It was dangerous. You know Cinderella was supposed to be on the Pan Am jet that went down. That's scary. I bailed out. They went to Europe a few more times without me, then we started doing the reunions with the original guys and the new guys. I started writing songs. I went to a diaper factory. That'll humble you. So I started writing to cope with the factory job. I'll always be indebted to them for that, They spurred something in me. So I've got kind of the best of both worlds. I've got my own band which contains some great players, and the Doc reunions.
When did you form the new band?
About a year ago. I had already recorded most of the new cd, and was singing at a big club in Macon called Whiskey River, which was a country/southern rock club. I was fronting the band, but I got to miss the thrill of having my own band. A house gig is kind of a strange thing. A "hush and make your money" type of thing. I can't do that. I go on stage for the jugular vein every night. We were having big shows every night, opening for Charlie Daniels, Terry Clarke, Marshall Tucker...I was seeing all my old buddies, and they were saying "What are you doing here? Why aren't you out on the road doing your thing?" So I put a band together. I called up my old buddies. I asked Herman Nixon, who was the original drummer for Doc Holliday (and played for three years with Toy Caldwell-ed.), and Tony Cooper. Herman is the best drummer you could play with. Jaimoe has self-proclaimed that Herman is the only guy who can play his and Butch's drum parts on Allman songs at the same time. He's the only guy Toy Caldwell said that can match the finesse of Paul Riddle, with the soul of an r&b drummer. And Ken Wynn plays guitar with me. I've got a new bass player, Skip Slaughter. He co-produced and engineered my album. What a hot band. I'm so proud of it.
How are things in Europe? I've seen your cd review in Bands Of Dixie magazine out of France.
With your help with the cd, and the Doc Holliday notoriety, things are looking real good for us in Europe. We're hoping for a late spring or early summer tour. My buddies in Skynyrd are going to be over there, and I've got some folks working on trying to get me on some of the dates. I've spoken with Al Nally, who is Ricky Medlocke's manager, and he's heard my cd, and he likes the fact that there are some good hooks in there.
The album is full of hooks, even the covers. Your John Fogerty cover is great.
I wanted that Fogerty thing to come off like George Jones meets AC/DC. I played rhythm guitar on that with Mike Causey from Stillwater. And then Rob Walker, also of Stillwater, came in and did the harmony leads. That's three slammin guitars going on.
I meant to ask, how do fans get the old Doc Holliday cd's ?
I was on amazon.com, and they have "Rides Again," "Doc Holliday," and "Modern Medicine." I've got 'em. They've been remastered and they sound fabulous. (Also check out dochollidayband.com-ed.)
Who are some of your musical influences and who do you like to listen to these days?
Influences, obviously The Beatles. Merle Haggard, George Jones, Buck Owens, Black Sabbath, Jon Lord, Bobby Whitlock. Man, when I used to live in an apartment, I'm convinced that the guy next door thought there were 13 people living next door. I'd get up in the morning with George Strait, and by Noon, Metallica was playing. When we toured with Black Sabbath, I was in heaven. We did "The Mob Rules" tour.
No, Ronnie James Dio was singing then.
Let me tell you. That elf ain't nothin' but bad! And we toured with April Wine, and I have to say, they influenced me too. We did the "Ghost Riders" Tour with The Outlaws. That was our first major tour. It was great. Hughie and Freddie Salem were huge musical influences. Rickey and Blackfoot. Skynyrd. Oh, God. Growin up around Gregg (Allman)- I mean. Gregg gets a lot of negative press, and he shouldn't. I've had moments alone with Gregg on the road when he didn't have to be "Gregg Allman," he's one of the greatest guys in the world.
When I interviewed him last year, he was great.
Oh yeah. Obviously, The Allman Brothers are one of my greatest influences.
What was it like around Macon and Warner Robins during the late '60's until the late '70's during the days of Capricorn Records?
During the mid-'70's, there was a club in Maco called Uncle Sam's, that Phil Walden owned. They had a lot of big bands in there, but it was also a playground for Capricorn artists. We were the house band out there. Stillwater was the house band and we were the house band. We rotated out. That's one thing that made the music scene in Macon so hard to do. They could go out to Uncle Sam's and pay a dollar or two cover charge, and see $300,000 worth of entertainment on stage. They'd all come out to have their beverage of choice and party. The equipment was there. I called it the Wet Tucker Brothers. You'd see Jimmy Hall jamming with Toy and Tommy Caldwell. Or Jaimoe, or Gregg or whoever. One night on my B-3, there was Gregg Allman on one manual, and Bobby Whitlock on the next manual. And Toy and Dickey and Martin Mull up there playing. My brother was Bobby Whitlock's road manager during the Capricorn years. So I got to go in and witness some of the sessions. Bobby had great people playing with him. Dru Lombar from Grinderswitch was a man who influenced me. They were so good. They took us out on the road with them.Great guys, Joe Dan, Dru, Larry Howard, Ricky, Steven Miller-they showed us how to be something better than a bar cover band. I'd go down to the studio and the Brothers would be finishing at night and Bobby would be starting in the daytime. Or Skynyrd was doing "Gimmie Back My Bullets," and Bobby Whitlock was recording during the day time. I saw some incredible things happen in this city. We took it for granted back then. Everybody played on everybody else's album. If you'll notice, my new cd was done that way. It was done in that building, so the vibe was there. I tried s hard to capture the Macon thing on my CD. Everybody I called up was so gracious, and they all agreed to play. Jimmy Hall wanted to play, but we had scheduling problems. Same with Larry Howard.
I haven't seen that brotherhood in a long time. I'd love to see a return to that. My friends in Europe tell me that you have lots of fans over there. Not only as Doc, but solo. Do you have any message for them?
I want to tell all my buddies in Europe, look over your shoulder, 'cause I'm coming.
Doc Holliday Rides Again
Song for the Outlaw
Eddie also played hammond organ on soon to be released projects by Chris Hicks, and blues artists E.G. Knight, and 15 year old blues sensation Michael Pierce.