Picture: Ready to take the stage, Gene Black, surrounded by some of the other members of the Joe Cocker Band—and of course, with a little help from Gene’s friends at Anderson Guitarworks.
Since we’ve been hanging around with our good friend Gene this week, we figured we’d fire off a few quick questions to shed a little light. Gene has been playing our guitars for almost as long as we have been in business—23 years and both still going strong. We have great love for him.
TAGW: How long have you been playing with Joe Cocker?
Gene: Since August of 1997. I’ve done all the tours, except Europe, 1999. I only did the U.S. and Canadian legs of that one.
TAGW: How did you get hooked up with Joe and what had you been doing before that to prepare you for this gig?
Gene: I had toured a bit with an act on Chrysalis records, but I'd been doing mostly sessions, Tina Turner, Eddie Money, Rod Stewart, Tori Amos, John Entwistle, etc. Joe had the same manager as Tina Turner, and he had asked me to tour with Tina but I was never really available at the time they needed me. Later the chance to tour with Joe came up and I jumped at the opportunity.
TAGW: Does he ever let you sing?
Gene: Back up on most songs.
TAGW: That’s cool. Doing vocals too can give such a multidimensional musical experience. You have been playing Anderson Guitars for a really long time—one of our first players I think. How did you first discover Anderson Guitars?
Gene: Word of mouth, can't remember who. I had Tom make me a neck first and that started a great relationship.
TAGW: In that time what are some of the amps you have used and which ones did you enjoy the most?
Gene: Mesa/Boogie, Roland JC-120, Marshall, Fender Bassmans and Deluxes, Music Man, VHT, Vox, Bogner, Peavey Classic 50. But my favorites are Vintage Marshalls, original Vox AC 30s, Original Fender Bassman 4x10s and Bogners.
TAGW: What is your amp of choice right now?
Gene: 100 watt Marshall Silver Jubilee Anniversary, Bogner Ecstasy and Shiva.
TAGW: What effects are you running?
Gene: Going in the front I have a Line 6 Green and Blue with a Drive Train OD, and a T-Rex compressor. In the rack and controlled by a GCX Pro is a Rocktron Xpression, Replifex, Intellifex and Dunlop Midi Wah.
TAGW: Has stage volume dropped over the years and if so how has that been accomplished?
Gene: It hasn't changed much for me as we play mostly stadiums in Europe and large theaters in the States and Canada. But if need be I run the Marshall at 50 watts through a 4x12 cab and the Ecstasy at half power or Class A through a 2x12 Bogner cab with V-30s (Celestion vintage 30 speakers).
TAGW: Although Floyd Rose-type bridges are extremely important for certain players, it is interesting that you are using a Floyd Rose bridge on some of your guitars. Do you still find them helpful or is it just a great sounding guitar with or without a Floyd Rose?
Gene: I just have that one Floyd, for subtle trem stuff, a few pull-ups and the rare dive bomb. Mostly I like the way the guitar always stays in tune in a live application. I use my other Anderson, The Classic, more for recording. The Drop Top has my favorite neck though, and I do wonder sometimes what the guitar would sound like with a traditional bridge.
TAGW: What question have you always wanted to be asked that no one has ever asked you? And what is the answer to that special question?
Gene: What was my favorite all-time recorded solo by another guitarist?
Gene: “Crossroads” live on the "Wheels of Fire" record. Clapton's playing was so fluid and tasty, with that perfect tone, vibrato and accuracy. I really enjoyed his Marshall/ Gibson tones. Oddly, I grew up playing Gibson SGs, 335s and Les Pauls, and I also moved primarily to “Strat-style” guitars—Tom's and Fender Strats.
TAGW: Thanks for the insights and thanks for being an Anderson Player all these years.
• MODEL: – Drop Top Classic
• FINISH: – Natural Satin
• BODY WOOD: – Flame Maple Top with Basswood Back
• BODY WOOD BACK COLOR: – same
• NECK WOOD: – Maple
• HEADSTOCK COLOR: – Natural Satin
• NECK BACK FINISH: – Natural Satin
• NECK BACKSHAPE: – Even-Taper
• NUT WIDTH: – 1 11/16-inch
• SCALE LENGTH: – 25 1/2-inch
• FRETS: – Heavy—Exclusive Anderson Stainless Steel
• BRIDGE: – Sunken Kahler Steeler—licensed by Floyd Rose
• TUNING GEAR: – Split Shaft
• HARDWARE COLOR: – Chrome
• PICKGUARD: – Tortoise Shell
• NECK PICKUP: – SA1R
• MIDDLE PICKUP: – SA1
• BRIDGE PICKUP: –H2+
• SWITCHING: – 5-Way with Master Splitter Switch & Add-Bridge Push/Pull—for 14 Sounds
• PICKUP COVERS: – N/A
• PICKUP RINGS: – N/A
• STRING GAUGE REQUESTED: – .010-.046 Elixir® with NANOWEB® Coating
• DESTINATION/LOCATION: – Artist