A few posts back many of you gave me your lists of great bands of the 70s and I listed Three Dog Night. Several of you mentioned them as well. Over the years I have had the pleasure of meeting all of the guys in Three Dog Night because my uncle, Freeman Batchelor toured with them as road manager, etc. in the 70s.
Michael Allsup plays all the great guitar licks you hear on the killer hits that they had in the 70s. Michael and my uncle have been friends for many years now and I have to say, Michael has been cool as grits to me beginning with personal notes on albums when I was six, to providing seats on stage in the 90s to just playing golf when he and the band have come to Atlanta. What a thrill for me to interview him for my blog, FORWARD. So, let’s ask some questions:
1. It’s football season. Who is Michael Allsup pulling for in regards to college and pro teams?Too many to name. I love the Patriots but Brady’s out for the season, … love Indianapolis, kind of like the NY Giants, the Jets and Favre are tickling my ribs. I guess I’m more of a “good weather” fan when it comes to my west coast teams. I’m wanting to be a 49er fan again, but it is hard these days. Oh, I left out N’Wahluns Saints. Pulling for them, too. College? Hmmmm, USC I suppose.
2. Who is your favorite guitarist of all time?
An easy answer on that one: Jimi Hendrix. Nobody like him, although much imitated. He’s my number one fav of all time. Best rock n roller/blues/psycodelic/whatever that ever came down the pike. Let me list a few others that I love. Wes Montgomery, Freddie King, Larry Carlton, Steve Lukather (Luke), Ted Nelson (my original guitar teacher who was blind), and of course Stevie Ray who was just coming into his own when he was in that helicopter crash that killed him. Other ones? Tony Mattola, Roy Clark, Jerry Reed, Jerry Reed, and Jerry Reed. “Cletus Snow” smoked. Just ask Glen Campbell, who also smoked/s.
3. What guitar do you play in concerts now and what have you played over the years withThree Dog Night?
I now play a Fender STRAT ULTRA and love it. It has humbucking lace sensor pickups in the bridge position which gives it a good kick. Also, the EBONY fingerboard is worth mentioning. Way better than any of the other fingerboard materials such as rosewood, etc. Denser, thus smoother yet better than the blonde necks for getting sustain out of the strings when using finger vibrato due to the small grain. One other feature of the STRAT ULTRA’s are the hand vibrato/wobble stick/whatever. It’s a tad different than the standard strat. Dives quicker and seems to hold tuning a tad better. The hand unit itself SNAPS in, instead of screwing in like the standard strats. I’ve changed out the NUT on mine, preferring the Wilkinson roller nut. In the “old days” I played a Telecaster for awhile, but mainly … a LES PAUL. Most of our hits were done on my Les Paul’s. Gold tops and Black Beauty’s.
4. Do you remember the first band you ever played a gig with?
Absolutely. We played at a school assembly in 8th grade. Does that count? This would have been in about 1960. The first REAL gig was at a small room in Modesto, CA. called “The Fable Room” which was located below street level under a hotel. A junior/senior prom event if I remember correctly. Mostly, we played some of the tunes my guitar teacher was teaching me, but we did sneak in “Tequila”, “Harlem Nocturne”, “Louie Louie” and a host of VENTURES tunes. At one time we were called “The Chancellors”, then “The Viscounts.”
5. How much of a clue did you have that Three Dog Night was going to do something BIG when you agreed to be in the band?Somewhat of a clue, although none of us new just HOW big the band would be. We were all confident that this band was going places, but I can’t really say we KNEW it. We all had “the dream” and the chemistry was there. That’s putting it mildly. CHEMISTRY like you wouldn’t believe. Like I wouldn’t believe. A fantastic gathering of people and talent that would shape my life incredibly.
10. Remember when you guys (TDN) were the first band to ride a float in the Rose Bowl Parade? Sorry…Chris Farley moment. Was there a 3DN gig that stands out as the “we’re never going there again” gig (that you can talk about)?
None that I can TALK ABOUT. Nyuk.
COOL!! Thanks Michael for answering a few questions from THE FAST LANE. Michael has a solo album titled “Some Women.” To place an order please click the link below.
6. Do you have a favorite event or concert that sticks out in your mind as the coolest?
Not really, although there have been a lot of great ones in my memory. The Dallas Cotton Bowl gig (way back when) was a hoot. Just too many shows to really pick one. Sorry.
7. Realizing most of your life has been on the road and understanding that home must be a treasured place to be after traveling all the time, what is a typical day at home like for a rock n’ roll guitar player these days?
You will find me up on a ladder trimming trees, building wood projects, backyard projects of varied intentions. A lot like the rest of you, really. BEING HOME IS BEING ON VACATION FOR ME.
8. What is your favorite Three Dog Night song?
Probably “WOMAN” although we don’t play it live anymore. Truth is: I love all the songs we play. I really do. What I love most is the wonderful smiles on the faces of the audience when we start a song and they recognize it. I always wanted that and now I have it. A beautiful thing. I’d like to thank each of them individually if I could.
9. Of all the places you’ve visited what would you say is your favorite town/city in the U.S. of A?
Again: HOME. Modesto, CA. I must admit to being partial to the North country. Particularly, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Some lovely places in upstate New York. All of New England. Of course these places are very seasonal, so one must take that into consideration when visiting.
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