Son Seals Story
By James “Skyy Dobro” Walker
Frank “Son” Seals 1942 – 2004
“....the music was a release. His pent up frustrations as a man came out through the music. Also, he recognized he was a healer. He was helping other people get their frustrations out – to release themselves - for them to feel better as a result of his music. So I think he saw himself as an emotional tour guide, leading people from inner frustration to external release.” Bruce Iglauer, President Alligator Records, quoted from the DVD.
My wife and I moved to the Northern part of Illinois in 1976. In July 1978, we attended our first Chicago Blues club show at the Wise Fool’s Pub to see Son Seals. He autographed my March 23, 1978 issue of Rolling Stone magazine underneath his photo. That issue had helped break him nationwide with a nice introductory article about him and his second CD, Midnight Son. (To see James' autographed Rolling Stone, CLICK HERE )
Between sets we talked about the new Susan B. Anthony dollar coins, which had just been released, and how much they looked like quarters. And, Seals did his best to start a second Chicago fire with his guitar playing. For sure, he lit us up! Son Seals: too soon gone; too late better appreciated. As is too often the case, better appreciation comes only after an artist has passed. Well, better late than never. That is where this wonderful, newly released DVD of Son Seals’ life and music becomes so valuable.
A Journey Through The Blues: The Son Seals Story follows his humble beginnings Arkansas, his move to Chicago, and his rise to the largest blues stages in the world through documentary footage, interviews with the legend himself, and interviews with friends and fellow musicians like Bruce Iglauer, Koko Taylor, Steven Seagal, Dr. John, and Lonnie Brooks. 12 of his songs have performance snippets interspersed among the narrations. As a bonus, there are three full length live Chicago performances from House of Blues 1998, Rooster Blues 2001, and the Chicago Blues Festival 2001.
Son Seals’ skill, songwriting, and showmanship made him one of the greatest Chicago Blues artists, but his turbulent life made him on of the most colorful and interesting. Despite taking a bullet in the face (that was never extracted) and ultimately losing a leg to diabetes, Seals remained committed to playing what he knew was his own music regardless of anyone else.
When guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Frank "Son" Seals unleashed his debut album on Alligator Records in 1973, his feral guitar work, scorching vocals and innovative songwriting immediately marked him as one of the major blues voices of his generation. Son was an original, writing most of his own material and playing his guitar with a fierce, raw intensity matched only by his ferocious vocals. Born in Osceola, Arkansas in 1942, Seals grew up immersed in the blues. His childhood home was a few rooms in the back of his father Jim's juke joint, “The Dipsy Doodle” (famous for blues in the front and dice in the back). With musicians like Sonny Boy Williamson, Albert King, and Robert Nighthawk playing within earshot of his bed nearly every night, Son knew the blues before he began walking. At 18 he was playing guitar in his own band and playing drums behind whomever was playing in his father's club. In 1963 he hit the road with Earl Hooker and was soon drumming with Albert King. He moved to Chicago and released his first album in 1973, but it was Midnight Son in 1976 that was his big breakthrough. Son moved from the Chicago clubs to playing the biggest stages in the blues.
* Koko Taylor commenting, “...He had his own style.... and when you hear him play, everybody knows that’s Son Seals in there playing.”
*Frank Pellegrino of Kingston Mines called Seals, a “good teddy bear with a chainsaw.”
* Bruce Iglauer’s description of how the instrumental “Hot Sauce” was created and named.
* The interviews with Son himself, and the live performance footages.
To Purchase this DVD Now CLICK HERE