Goldmine Extra: Get to know rockabilly legend Robert Gordon

Robert Gordon broke out with his hit ?Red Hot? in 1977, knocking down disco queens, would-be punks, and new wave wannabes with his no-holds-barred take on hot-rodded rockabilly. Since then he has been like a turbo jet, and is often credited for lighting up the roots-rock revival and paving the way for real rock?n?rollers to find their niche among the overblown dance music and arena rock that dominated the airwaves.

Robert?s legacy has been fueled by his partnership with some of the greatest guitar players in history ? Link Wray, Danny Gatton, and Chris Spedding. Robert first saw Link Wray at an amusement park in Glenn Echo Park, Maryland, in 1962, and knew he had to play with him. Together they recorded a successful string of records, which included the song ?Fire,? a gift from Bruce Springsteen.

Although he is best known for being a tough-as-nails rockabilly artist, Robert is always quick to point out “I?m not trying to recreate something. This is how I feel.”

That feeling continues to glow red hot on It’s Now or Never, his new release with his old partner Chris Spedding. The collection of mostly lesser-known Elvis Presley songs drops today.

Question: Why Elvis, why now?

Answer: It?s been talked about for years, but we figured the 30th anniversary of his death was the perfect time. We went down to Nashville, did the whole album in a week. We didn?t pick the obvious tunes? maybe a couple, but the rest are from movies, not the obvious choices.

Q: Must be good getting back with Chris Spedding.

A: The band with Chris is the band. We just did two tours of Europe, for the first time in 13 years. We sort of went through a bad divorce. We worked together for 10 years and took it as far as we could. We were bad boys. We were nuts. Everything was really frantic. Then he moved to the West Coast? and we just sort of did our own thing.

Q: Let?s talk about your other guitar players ? you?ve played with some of the greats.

A: Danny Gatton is a real country and jazz guy, but Chris comes from everyplace. He puts a real twist to it. He takes rockabilly things and stretches it. I don?t want to say avant-garde, but? and Link Wray was great. He played like he looked, if you know what I mean. Real raunchy. But his solos on his ballads are real beautiful, ferocious, but beautiful. Live it was difficult, though. The volume! He was loud.

Q: You came up in New York, at CBGBs, with the Tuff Darts. That was not a quiet band?

A: The Tuff Darts were a good way for me to vent, but I wanted to go in a different direction. Getting signed to RCA was huge? that was Elvis? label of course. But it was right before MTV. Springsteen gave me ?Fire?? It was unbelievable how much airplay I got, but it could have been huge.

Q: How do you feel now?

A: We?re getting smarter. I?m singing better than I ever have. Everything was crazy back then. The whole nine yards. We were bad boys. It took me a long time to live it down.

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