Interview for Elo Beatles Forever • Saturday, April 13, 2013

Interview: Steve Howard

Interview of Steve Howard
Published by:
Elo Beatles Forever
Interview by:
Michael Laine Hildebrandt
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[…] ELOBF: Tell me about your career before you worked with Paul McCartney and ‘Wings’?

SH: Well, I was a dish washer at a local restaurant! Well, no actually I did do some dish washing and cooking back when I was a kid but before Paul McCartney and Wings! I guess the thing that launched me into the gig with them was that I had moved to New Orleans and was working for Allen Toussaint, record producer. I was pretty much his first call trumpet player at Sea-Saint Studio in the early seventies and when Paul McCartney came to town to record: “Venus and Mars”, they called me in to play on part of the session. I met McCartney and his arranger and trombonist Tony Dorsey, with whom we did the tours together. Tony wanted to hire me to play with the band, so that was it.

ELOBF: Steve, you toured extensively with the four piece brass section for both of the “Wings Over America” and “Wings Over Europe” tours. Who were your brass compatriots and what was life like on the road with them?

SH: Well, the other members of the horn section were Tony Dorsey, who was the arranger and the guy who initially got me hired on the gig through the connections at Sea-Saint. Tony played trombone, he had originally played with Joe Tex and the way that he got the gig with Wings was that Paul had heard some stuff that he had arranged on that Joe Tex album and had said: “I love that … Get me … find out who that guy is and get me in touch with him!”. So McCartney’s people tracked down Tony, he got hired and the rest is history with that! The other guys that were in the horn section were Thaddeus Richard, who was a friend of Tony’s and another Louisiana native. He’s from Thibodaux, Louisiana which is just outside of New Orleans. Thaddeus is an excellent musician, he’s a multi-instrumentalist, he plays bass and piano, an excellent piano player. He played the alto sax, the flute and the soprano sax on the tour. Thaddeus today [I still stay in touch with him], he lives in New Orleans and he’s most recently been seen in the: ‘Treme’ series on HBO and he’s the piano player in one of the bands that have been on there regularly. He’s had a reoccurring role and a couple of speaking roles actually in the film. You wouldn’t recognise him today because he’s been eating a lot of that good New Orleans food! And last but not least, is Howie Casey. Howie is the most famous of the Wings horns guys because he’s from Liverpool and he had a band called ‘Howie Casey and The Seniors’ which at one time was bigger than The Beatles … and The Beatles actually opened for them! Howie is a dear friend and I stay in touch with him. He’s a great guy. We all had a lot of fun and we all got on real well … so it was a lot of fun!

ELOBF: It must have been a tremendous time in your personal and musical life touring with Paul, Linda, Denny and the gang … How did you end up in the ‘Wings’ set-up?

SH: Well, I pretty much covered that before how I wound up working for Wings through the New Orleans connection but yes it was a pretty interesting kind of a thing to go from playing in a little club on Bourbon Street, although I’d played in some pretty big concerts. I played at The Beacon Theatre and done some shows with Allen Toussaint for a few thousand people but I hadn’t played in front of a crowd of twenty or thirty or fifty or sixty thousand like we did with Wings. It was pretty different because I was only a young kid, about twenty five years old, when I was doing all that! It was pretty crazy but Paul and Linda and Denny and all the guys were real nice, easy people to be around. He included the horn section just like we were part of the family, so to speak. We travelled together and hung out together, went to their home and it was a lot of fun!

ELOBF: I’m sure that there were many highlights and that there are many stories from those days … Care to share any tales that absolutely stand out from that time?

SH: Well, probably not so much for legal reasons, but I’ll just say that there were some moments and I guess I can tell you about one story that was pretty interesting. We used to have a guy who did all the pyrotechnics. When they played: “Live And Let Die”, they had all these flash pots that went off. He liked to drink a bit – as a lot of those guys did … well all of us did – and one time he set a flash pot on the stage. It was pretty close to my backside. I could feel the heat coming from that thing and I almost jumped off the front of the riser when it went off because I wasn’t expecting it! It was usually farther back from us and that was a memorable thing but there were a lot of others too! But that was just one of them! […]


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