Ken Leighton 4:11 p.m., Sept. 3
Sound description: Classic rock by a guy who was there the first time, with lots of acoustic finger style and slide guitar.
RIYL: Classic rock
Upcoming Local Shows
- "Greg's Mantra" · Oct. 31, 2013
- "Locals Pay Tribute to JJ Cale" · July 29, 2013
- Blurt: "I Just Want to Bang on This Drum All Day" · Aug. 25, 2010
- Blurt: "Jungle Live" · July 21, 2010
- Blurt: "Dude, It's Norton" · Nov. 11, 2009
- Lists: "Jungle Fever" · June 4, 2008
- Blurt: "Everybody Loves Douglass" · Feb. 8, 2007
Influences: The Greg Kihn Band, the Steve Miller Band, Hot Tuna, Mowasabe, the Fabulous Pelicans, Van Morrison, Dave Mason, Eddie Money, Badfinger, Sonny Landreth, Michael McMurtry, David Lindley, JJ Cale, Leo Kottke, John Fahey, Jeff Beck, Quicksilver Messenger Service
You may not be familiar with guitarist Greg Douglass, but you’ve probably heard him play — he performed on Greg Kihn’s single “Jeopardy” (1983), and he’s toured and recorded with Van Morrison, Duane Eddy, Link Wray, Hot Tuna, Dave Mason, and Eddie Money. In addition, he cowrote and played on the Steve Miller Band hit “Jungle Love” (1977).
"I'm not even sure where ['Jungle Love'] fits into the Everybody Loves Raymond mythology," laughs Douglass. The tune was used as the theme song for the final three seasons of the TV sitcom.
With Steve Miller Band bassist Lonnie Turner, Douglass wrote "Jungle Love" as a demo for British guitarist Dave Mason. "Instead, the song turned into Dr. Seuss on acid," and Miller opted to include it on his next album. Douglass was asked to join the group after Miller had trouble duplicating his riff in the studio.
Douglass admits that "Jungle Love" was the second attempt to recycle the tune's signature guitar part.
"It was used by [my mid-'70s trio] Mistress; I wrote a song called 'Paul' that used the same riff. And I also tried it while I was in Hot Tuna in a co-write with Jorma Kaukonen, but it never really gelled."
Released as a single in 1977, "Jungle Love" was an instant hit, though "It only reached number 22," says Douglass. "At the time, it was a little disappointing. But the song has been very good to me ever since...it helped buy my house."
The song is included on numerous Miller compilations, including Greatest Hits 1974-1978, the 35th-biggest-selling album of all time (13 million copies sold). "I probably have naked pictures of your mom from my days as a rock star."
In response to observations that many feel "Jungle Love" is a horrible song, representing a low point in the Miller catalog, Douglass says "I think 'dumb' and 'overtly commercial' would be more apt. It continues a tradition that starts with 'The Joker,' which Steve wrote deliberately to be dumb and overtly commercial in response to Capitol's demands that he stop this high-falutin' artsy-fartsy stuff and write a hit single. My former boss set out to write the stupidest, catchiest nonsense possible -- 'WEEEEET-woooooo!' -- and succeeded admirably."
"I too was a huge fan of Steve's early work, and scratched my head when 'The Joker' came out, but grew to enjoy it. I have made an enormous amount of money from 'Jungle Love,' and was responsible for the music-guitar parts only, both of which still kick serious ass. And I sleep more peacefully at night knowing I didn't write 'Abracadabra.' Hey, it takes a little horseshit to grow a rose. Now go listen to Children of the Future and relax."
"By the way, remember, ABBA is in the rock 'n' roll hall of fame, and Steve isn't. THAT'S horrible!"
Douglass moved to the San Diego area in 1992. “I’m currently living in a big, beautiful house out in Lake Hodges, in the Del Dios-Escondido area,” he says. “We survived the fires, and it’s lovely here. It’s like Mayberry on acid.” Though he could probably live off the royalties from “Jungle Love,” Douglass remains one of the county’s busiest musicians.
“My musical plate is so full, it’s unreal,” he says. “I do solo finger-style gigs, concerts, weddings, funerals, dogfights — you pay, and I’ll play.” Among his current ensembles: the Fabulous Pelicans wedding band (“We get paid elephant bucks for traveling to exotic locations”), surf rockers Mo’ Wasabi (“I’m a Ventures junkie”), and the Monsters of Classic Rock, whose members have played with AC/DC, David Bowie, Rod Stewart, and Huey Lewis. One frequent Monster is guitar heavyweight Rick Derringer. “Going toe-to-toe with Rick and surviving made me happy to have been born,” says Douglass. “Lovely guy, too.”
Monsters has also at various times included Joey Molland (Badfinger) on vocals and guitar, Carmine Rojas (David Bowie, Rod Stewart) on bass, Terry Ilous (from '80s metal monsters XYZ) on lead vocals, and a stellar group of various drummers, including Carmine Appice, Chris Slade of AC/DC, and Donny Baldwin of Starship.
In addition, he also plays with Quicksilver Gold, a tribute to the music of Quicksilver Messenger Service led by Joli Valenti, son of Dino Valenti, the band's late lead singer.
Douglass also has instructional DVDs available from http://www.iconsofrock.com, one on lead guitar and one on fingerstyle guitar. He has released solo CDs such as The Natives Are Restless and a Christmas collection, Holiday Classics.
On July 9, 2010, at Pechanga, Douglass played “Jungle Love” onstage with Miller for the first time of around thirty years. Douglass says, “I was strictly there as just another middle-aged guy taking his wife on a date.”
After the first encore, “My wife Jeri wondered aloud why they hadn’t played ‘Jungle Love.’ Just as I was beginning to take that personally, Steve started talking about how the song came to be recorded. He then announced that the writer of tune was in the audience and asked me to stand up! I stood and waved, the spotlight hit me, and Steve said, ‘Well, get on up here and play your song!’ I ran up onstage and, two minutes after being just another guy in the crowd, I was playing ‘Jungle Love’ with the band for the first time in 30 years. The audience went nuts...my wife was in total shock.”
Backstage after the show, “I told Steve, ‘Christ, I come to the show trying to enjoy a quiet night off, and you make me work!’ Slave-driving bastard!”
Douglass was involved in a car accident on December 17, 2011, while driving home from a gig and another vehicle hit him. He reported only minor injuries, though his car was totalled.
In October 2012, Douglass embarked on a kamikaze UK tour, 13 shows in 13 consecutive days, with a new ensemble called the Former Members: Douglass, keyboardist David Bennett Cohen and bassist Bruce Barthol from Country Joe & the Fish, and drummer Roy Blumenfeld from Blues Project and Seatrain.
"We're all really f#cking old, we're playing kick-ass historically important music, and chances are pretty good someone won't survive," he told the Readeron the eve of his departure.
The group first came together in late 2011 to do a west coast tour backing up former Country Joe & the Fish member David Bennett Cohen, who had a new solo piano album out.
"We didn't draw huge crowds, but the reaction was amazing and there were a lot of videos made of the shows. One made its way to a promoter in the UK, and a tour was booked incredibly quickly." The Former Members left for London on September 30, 2011 and then rehearsed at a stone cottage in Wales, where the tour started October 3.
"Four raping and pillaging -- well, pillaging at least -- maniacal old lunatics crammed into a van full of equipment and cases of Dependz. Several shows are sold out already. The old cliche about Europeans appreciating American musicians, especially those who have carved out relatively successful careers while coloring outside the lines, is absolutely true. My email has been swamped with questions about setlists, and there's an amazing amount of anticipation."
Douglass promises that every person in the band is at the top of their musical game. "But the BEST part of this endeavor is that I'm finally the youngest guy in the band!"
He returned to San Diego on October 18, to begin his second year as resident guitarist at Tuscany Restaurant in La Costa. The Former Members toured the UK in May 2013, followed by European dates with an organization called Listen for Life, playing Germany, France, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Hawaii, and Asia.
Greg Douglass Videography (courtesy Bart Mendoza and myweekmagazine.com, used with permission):
TV & Film
Everybody Loves Raymond -- The opening credits for Season 7, 8, 9 (and corresponding DVD collections) consist of clips from previous seasons, soundtracked to the original Steve Miller Band recording of "Jungle Love." The song was originally heard on the series as part of the Season 6 episode "Snow Day." It was also heavily used in advertising for the show and later included on the Everybody Loves Raymond: The First Six Years special.
Family Guy -- Episode 13, Season 4 was titled "Jungle Love" in tribute to the song.
The Super Mario Bros. Super Show -- Episode 13, Season 1 used "Jungle Love," September 20, 1989.