Forever Rockin’

By Andrew Gilhooley / 411

Remember the 1980’s pop band Was (Not Was) and their 1987 Top-Ten hit “Walk the Dinosaur?”  Saturday’s guest at Moe’s Alley Blues club does – he co-wrote it.  He also co-wrote “Wide Receiver,” a Top-Five R&B hit for Michael Henderson in 1980.

Randy Jacobs is currently on tour with his band The Boneshakers, playing a distinctive mix of blues, funk and soul.  The band’s sound reflects Jacobs’ own widely varied musical experiences.  He started playing guitar at age 13 in his native Detroit, and played his first professional gigs with some of Motown’s biggest stars.  Since the 1980’s and Was (Not Was), he has worked with artists as diverse as B.B. King, Elton John, Jewel and rappers Dr. Dre and Coolio.  Nowadays, however, Jacobs’ focus is on his own music.  He said, “It’s really important to me to be able to play my own music.  I figured that out when I was still a kid and saw things like The Beatles playing on the Ed Sullivan Show.  When I got it together enough to play guitar for my family they really liked it.  And that’s what still propels me.  Whether I’m in front of two people or two thousand, if I see them dance, see them move, then I know it’s worthwhile.”

The Boneshakers began as a band in 1993, when Was (Not Was) broke up.  Randy Jacobs and vocalist Sweet Pea Atkinson wanted to carry on playing together, so they recruited a new band.  The band recorded some demos and hit the road, and eventually in 1995 got a record deal.  They released two albums, “Book of Spells” (1997) and “Shake the Planet” (1999). Atkinson left the band after the second album due to health concerns, needing to take some time out from constant touring. The band’s manager contacted Malford Milligan of Double Trouble and Storyville, who had long been a fan of the Boneshakers.  He flew to Los Angeles and jammed with the band, and it worked.  Milligan recorded two albums with the Boneshakers, 2001’s “Pouring Gasoline” and last year’s “Put Some Booty On It, Vol. 1,” before leaving to pursue a solo career earlier this year.  Currently, the Boneshakers are a four-piece outfit with Jacobs on lead guitar and vocals, Tim Scott on bass, David Derge on drums and Tio Banks on keyboards.  Both Sweet Pea Atkinson (now happily restored to full health and vigor) and Malford Milligan have been known, however, to drop in and join their old friend on vocals for the occasional show.

Between touring with The Boneshakers and his continuing session work, Randy Jacobs is a busy man.  And what does he foresee in the future?  More of the same.  “Man, I’m gonna keep playing,” he said.  “Bringing the music to the people.  That’s what it’s all about.  I’m gonna be like John Lee Hooker, they gonna have to wheel me out in a wheelchair and I’ll still be rockin’.  Besides… it’s either this or work at Burger King!”

First published in “411”, The Salinas Californian, August 21, 2003

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