This is Leatherwood's first CD ever, fully loaded with just the freshest Rockabilly hams and Tex-Mex tenderloins! Leatherwood is a bonafide "collectable", a veteran of Fifties Rock, Sixties Folk, and then 70s Country. Because of a first hand sensibility in these genres, Alan has developed a certain amount of cult status over the years, not only for his three Ohio Moon vinyl albums recorded during the 80s and 90s ("ROCKABILLY MUSIC AND BRAKE JOBS", "BLUE SUEDE HEART", and "BURN IT"), but even more so for his early 60s recordings that were released nationally on indie labels during the early Sixties under variations of his real name, Alan Cassaro.
Al began his recording career in 1961 with the national release of a Buddy Holly styled rocker, "HICKORY DICKORY DOCK" (under the name of "Lane Cassaro"), which was issued on the Honolulu based Mahalo record label. He had several releases on the Integrity label after that, and then in 1964, "MAKE BELIEVE" (under the name of Alan Cassero), another Tex-Mexer, on Hy Weiss's legendary OLD TOWN Records. This last release received top reviews in all of the music trades and very likely would have catapulted Alan to the top of the charts, if the British Invasion hadn't hit at the same time, which froze out most American performers from the radio waves for the next year or so.
Rather than get trampled by the British takeover, Alan did a major shift and "unplugged" in to the budding folk-rock movement, and for the next fifteen years, he and his newly named duo, "Leatherwood and Lisa", played at coffee houses, festivals and colleges through out the States and Canada, sharing bills with the likes of Tim Hardin, Robert Junior Lockwood, Willie Dixon, NRBQ, Dr John, Eric Andersen, Tim Buckley, Flat and Scruggs, Hamilton Camp, Bob Gibson, Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris, and many others.
In the early Seventies, legendary pop/country singer Marty Robbins heard a song demo of original material by Al's duo and invited them down to Nashville, where as Marty's guests, they performed an original Leatherwood composition at Ryman's Grand Ole Opry for a filmed sequence that was included in Marty's motion picture, "COUNTRY MUSIC STORY". Marty and his staff writer, Bill Johnson ("A Wound Time Can't Erase") also produced several sides with the duo in the studio, which eventually led to a long term contract with the Charlie Rich Organization, where Alan was signed on as a staff writer and artist in development.
Fate stepped in again for another knockout punch when Charlie Rich showed up drunk at the CMA awards and proceeded to pull out his lighter and burn the envelope for the newly inducted "Entertainer of the Year" award, on national television. It may have seemed like a pretty cool thing for Charlie to do, considering that it was John Denver who was getting the award, but it was career suicide for Rich. After the cameras cut to a commercial, Charlie Rich was coaxed off the stage, and quickly carted off to the detox clinic to dry out. During the effort to try to salvage Rich's career, all of the artists at the Rich organization were given their walking papers and released from their contracts. Charlie Rich's career never really recovered and soon Charlie went into semi-retirement and headed back home to Memphis. The duo, "Leatherwood and Lisa" broke up, and Alan went back to Cleveland. Unfortunately, none of Alan's Nashville recordings were ever issued, which included some fine tracks recorded with the town's hottest players of the period, as well as sessions recorded with the already legendary Tommy Allsup (Buddy Holly's lead guitarist), Grady Martin, Buddy Harmon, and several other musicians associated with some of the great American classic recordings recorded in Nashville.
While playing an acoustic folk gig in Lubbock, Texas during the 70's at Texas Christian University, Alan had the good fortune to spend an afternoon with Buddy Holly's parents and brother, Larry Holley. After singing some of Buddy's old songs, Mr. Holley, Buddy's dad, got quite serious and said, "I know we've had some problems with Norman Petty in the past, but maybe I could take you down to meet him in Clovis, and perhaps you could do an album of some of the songs you've been singing here today." Al was flattered by this offer, but he said, "Mr. Holley, I'd love to do that someday, but after I make it on my own, with my own songs." Larry Holley just smiled and said, "That's something Buddy might have said. He could be pretty stubborn."
Alan doesn't have a regular band that he plays with, but he works and records with his long time friends in the studio, all-talented artists, writers and bare-knuckled musicians in their own right. Besides the hot guitar licks brought to the package by Memphis Mike (of the Legendary Tremblers), David Loy, and Paul Penfield, and Tom Fallon (of Satan's Satellites),the other featured players have some noteworthy credits of their own: Don Heddesheimer, keyboards, from the original "Black Flag of Anarchy", Danny Dickerson, keyboards, formerly a regular member of both Ed Bruce's, and the late Jimmy Ellis' (Orion) bands, and drummer Max Bangwell, a veteran of blues legend Robert Junior Lockwood's old band, as well as on the soon to be released album by Jerry Lee Lewis of duets, featuring all new performances from the Killer!
According to Alan, "Half of the people I work with are out of the punk bands from the 70s and 80s who discovered Rockabilly music via the Blasters and The Stray cats, and the other half started playing it when it first came out, or they arrived at the music via the blues. Over the years I've come to prefer working with people who are just basic rock and roll psychos, like I was in the beginning, musically speaking. This time I set out to record an album that works on a series of layered levels, fire and excitement on top, but with heart and soul at its core. Some people who've had the CD for a while tell me that it sounds better with each listening, and that it actually makes them feel more connected each time they hear it. My goal has always been to achieve some kind of rockabilly Nirvana, and I don't think I've gotten this close since I was a 12 year old in 1956, just drooling on my Warren Smith SUN 45 of "Black Jack David". Drooling can be a strong indication that you've achieved one form of rockabilly Nirvana".
More albums are planned in the near future, including a retrospective of Alan's earlier recording, upcoming within the year.
Notes by Bob Scherl and Larry Preston