Willie Alexander. I go way back with his music—back to the days when you’d find me at punk and rock clubs more often than you’d find me at a coffeehouse. And who would imagine that a few decades down the road that the twain would meet at the me&thee in Marblehead?
Willie’s contribution to the Boston music scene is legendary. From The Lost to the Boom Boom Band to The Confessions. Willie was inducted into the Boston Hall of Fame in 1987—the same year as The Cars. One interesting comment by journalist, Sally, Cragin, in Willie’s bio states that his songs are “keen observations of the neglected and down-and-out” and went on to comment that the description sounds similar to the work of one of America’s most written about songwriters, Woody Guthrie. An apt description for sure. Willie Alexander’s music doesn’t shy away from difficult subject matter. His music embraces it with a real cool beat.
To learn more about Willie, visit his website.
There are dozens of videos of Willie available online….from various phases of his life. Take a spin around and witness the history of this fabulous musician. Here’s just one example.
You’ve been dubbed “The Godfather of Punk.” Is it difficult living up to that title?
I think of myself as a 2nd generation rock. & roller having started with THE LOST, performing in 1964. The music I have always played has been influenced by rock & folk & blues & jazz & Afro Cuban music — American music that started in Africa & New Orleans
Every decade I am called something different. They started calling me a veteran in the 70s– the godfather thing
Any particular reason why you got the nickname “Loco”?
The Willie Loco nickname has served me well since 1962. I combined Willie Bobo and Joe Loco. two faves of mine.
Your musical career has been long and varied. What has been the most fulfilling aspect of it?
The most fulfilling aspects of my career are playing my own music are the times when people tell me how much they enjoy certain songs or shows or bands I played in over the years. Feeling I have made real connections wit the people. It was really exciting playing when i started in The Lost & it STILL IS!
You’re probably tired of being asked about your time in the Velvet Underground. But I’ve got to ask. How weird was it to replace Sterling Morrison? I’m sure you had some definite highlights and lowlights during your tenure with the band. Care to expound?
I really don’t think about the Velvet stuff. I usually say I was too out of it to remember but there are recordings & some ain’t bad. I used to just toss them when I would get them in the mail (of the 1971 live VU shows). All of them on Captain Trip Records in Japan.
How did your music evolve after the punk movement?
The music comes through me from (you name it). i am just a slave to the rhythm.
Your work with the Persistence of Memory Orchestra and the A-Train Orchestra sounds intriguing. How would you describe the music you play with them?
I am exploring it still & don’t know what is ahead or how the next recording will sound (in 2 days !!!). I love horns and drums as much as guitar based thing.
I’ve read about your work as a visual artist–particularly your unique collages. I got a kick out of your description of it as “glorified trash.” But I’m sure that it speaks to your creative soul. Do you have any particular themes to your collages?
My music and collages all come from the same creative impulses, I think. I love found sounds and images and random things and other world’s music. Sound is music to me. Everything goes. I am just lucky it comes through me and I can use it.
Anything special you’d like to say about the Cape Ann music scene?
I love being in Gloucester and all the fine musicians I have met here . I am looking forward to playing at the me & thee!!!