Thursday, April 1, 2010
"Chuck E. Weiss is the kind of guy who would steal his own car " - Tom Waits
Chuck E. Weiss grew up in Denver. A rebellious child and adolescent, he always felt alienated from others his age and just slightly left of the mainstream.He found himself greatly influenced by what he heard on the radio and by the music his father listened to, an eclectic mix of boogie-woogie, sabre dance, sambas, mambos, and Hank Williams.
Chuck E. acquired an extensive record collection from his father, who was in the salvage business, and from the neighborhood trash collector (one "Pappy" Frye) who left him a vast collection of old albums.
Unable to read music, he did have a knack for finding the beat, so it only seemed natural that Chuck E. would express his rhythm on the drums. When he was nine, his folks bought him his first drum kit. By the time Chuck E. was a teenager a local manager and promoter asked him to sit in on drums during a nightclub appearance by Lightnin' Hopkins. The gig went well and Chuck E. convinced the legendary bluesman to take him on tour.
By the late '60s, Chuck E. Weiss had toured with Hopkins, and found himself performing and/or recording with the likes of Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Dr. John, Roger Miller and others.
In 1972, while playing in the Ebbett's Field house band, Weiss met a new headlining act named Tom Waits. Weiss thought he was different and got to talking to the guy. They met again after Weiss moved to Hollywood and they became fast friends. They also started a long musical collaboration with the song "Spare Parts," which Waits recorded on his 1975 Nighthawks at the Diner album.In the late '70s, Chuck E. lived at West Hollywood's famed Tropicana Motel along with Waits and an up-and-coming singer-songwriter named Ricki Lee Jones. Jones would later immortalize Chuck E. in her top five hit "Chuck E.'s in Love."