I didn’t know you played the piano, Mr. Davis.
“You a dumb motherfucker, motherfucker.”
“I’m a trained fucking musician. Not one of those little pop stars learned how to play guitar from the fucking radio. I went to fucking Julliard. Course I know how to play the fucking piano. I can play just about everything.”
Why didn’t you ever make a record where you played all the instruments? Like Prince used to do?
“Too much fucking work.”
Sure. Who were some of your favorite piano players?
“Ahmad Jamal could play some shit. Make your dick stand up. Monk. I liked listening to Monk more than playing with him. You’d be soloing and he’d comp under you with those weird fucking chords God gave him. Monk thought that shit was funny. It was. I laughed when he did it to other people. Not when he did it to me. Bill Evans. Quiet little motherfucker. I liked that about him. Most piano players got fucking opinions. Bill shut the fuck up. Made his playing better in my opinion.”
Did you ever play with James Booker?
“What, you think all black people know each other?”
No, I think all musical geniuses know each other.
“Well fucking played.”
Thank you, sir.
“Yeah, I knew him. I hired that crazy n—-r.”
I am begging you not to use that word.
“You want me to talk about James fucking Booker without saying ‘crazy n—-r?’ That’s what the motherfucker was. If James Booker wasn’t a crazy n—-r, then there ain’t no such thing.”
I would be fine with that. Wait. You hired him?
“Yeah. ’72. Got rid of Herbie and Keith. Needed a new piano player. Heard this cat and his sound. I was interested. Booked him for a weekend to try him out. Club up in Boston, nice place, treat me with respect. Motherfucker misses six planes in a row. Anybody can miss a plane. Takes a special motherfucker to miss six. Finally gets here. Calls from the airport. I send someone to get him. He ain’t there. Motherfucker took a bus hostage.”
How do you take a bus hostage?
“How the fuck should I know? Maybe like in that movie with the motherfucker and the bitch and the bus.”
“You starting to understand me. That’s good. I like that.”
What happened next?
“I go down to pick him up at the police station. He accuses me of being CIA.”
What did you do?
“Slapped him like a bitch.”
Not a shock.
“Police was cheering me on. I throw his wig on him, put him in the car, get him loaded, and we make the date on time.”
How’d it go?
“He lasted twenty minutes.”
“I call off Honky Tonk. Band starts to play, but this motherfucker goes into Goodnight Irene. Starts singing. I don’t know where the fuck he got a mic. I got two guitar players, a bass player, a drummer, a percussion man, and two horns in my band. This motherfucker’s playing more than all of us put together. No room for anything else.”
James tended to do that.
“Then he took his dick out and put it on the conga drum.”
“Goes back to the piano and plays some more. He ain’t listening to me. I was getting angry. Then he starts making homosexual advances at a waiter. Asking to see the waiter’s butthole.”
“Aw, man, you hired that crazy bastard, too?”
“Too? Why didn’t you warn me, you Mexican motherfucker?”
“You hired him three years before I did.”
“Motherfucker, we both got time machines.”
“Oh, yeah. Oops.”