Discussion

Lou Whitney of The Skeletons Passed Away Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Damn.  Lou Whitney passed away yesterday at 71 after a bout with cancer.  As the great music writer Dave Hoekstra wrote in his remembrance: "Lou was rugged Americana before Americana got gussied up. Next fall’s Americana awards in Nashville needs to find a way to honor Lou".  Yes sir!

The Skeletons were one of the best live bands I ever saw.  They were simply a blast, playing a great mix of originals and a wide variety of covers of obscure and semi obscure chestnuts.  Every band member had serious chops. And it was Lou, the bass player, at the center of the proceedings, self deprecating and funny as hell.  As Robbie Fulks reports when asked about his illness, Lou replied "yup, I'm fighting the big fight. Americana vs roots rock".

They were formed circa 1979 to back up Steve Forbert.  In time they were Dave Alvin's backup band, and about 10 years ago I saw them back Bo Diddley.  They also worked with Wilco, The Bottle Rockets, Jonathan Richman, Syd Straw, Robbie Fulks, The Del-Lords, and others.  They got around. 

They also put out one of my very favorite records, Nothing To Lose.  If you can track that down, you're on to something. 

Sad news about Lou. Not quite as familiar with his work with The Skeletons as I was his other project, The Morells, a band I was fortunate enough to see a handful of times during my college days in Lawrence,KS. In fact, their (lone?) album, Shake and Push, is still among my all-time favorite roots/americana records some 35 years later. Some great memories...what a lively, fun-loving group they were. RIP Lou.

 

Pell

Steve, the Morells and the Skeletons had that overlap in personnel aside from Lou, so their approach was pretty similar.  I have two Morells records, the one you mentioned (!!!!) and another, also really good and simply called The Morells, from the early 2000's I believe.  I saw the Morells just once and the Skeletons a lot.  The guitar player from both bands, D. Clinton Thompson, I'm convinced could've moved to Nashville or Austin and had a very successful career as a session player, he is that good.  These guys made a pretty big impact for bands that "never went anywhere".

Yeah thanks, Jack, I knew that both projects sort of criss-crossed over the years since I discovered The Morells, but for some reason, just never really followed up with Lou and company after the early 80s. I recall The Skeletons playing in KC (old Grand Emporium mostly) a few times over the years, but for whatever reason, just never pulled the trigger on seeing that outfit live. Wish that I had now, but fortunately, their recorded music is forever so I'll check into some of your recommendations going forward.

So sad, I worked with him on that CD cover art... wow... what a great guy.