|Charlie Farren Solo - singer of Balloon, Joe Perry Project, Farrenheit|
|Written by Joe Viglione|
|Monday, 14 September 2009 19:07|
The third singer, and the voice on Perry's second Columbia album, was Malden's own Charlie Farren, and the hits from that disc, "East Coast/West Coast" and "Listen To The Rock", both composed by Farren, became signature tunes of the Joe Perry band.
Charlie Farren was involved in the composition of 60 percent of the 1981 "I've Got The Rock 'n' Rolls Again" album, actually making him the logical extension of Joe Perry's "artistic side" of the toxic twins (the press description of Tyler/Perry's volatile relationship), Charlie Farren replacing Steve Tyler as voice and co-author.
The good news for Perry fans? Charlie isn’t actually toxic.
For this article, we've decided on an interview with Mr. Farren.
Malden Observer: You were born in Whidden Hospital in Everett, August 27, 1953. Did your family live in Everett or Malden at the time?
Charlie Farren: My parents were both from Everett, but moved to Malden before I was born. My dad's family immigrated to Everett via Ellis Island from Northern Ireland (Belfast). To offer a little historical perspective, at the time of his coming to America (1927), 'Irish Need Not Apply' signs were common, and anti-Irish discrimination (particularly Northern Irish) was open in schools, in municipal government, and in society in the Boston area — which had very Brahmin and Anglophile roots.
Charile F: Malden was my home base really until I started traveling with my first professional band, Live Lobster. Once I started touring, I still returned to Malden when I was home, at least until well into the Balloon years. (Charlie formed a harder rocking band which played original music and named it "Balloon").
CF: I didn't know Preacher Jack; in fact, I just met him about a year ago when he opened a show I did. I was aware of Norman but never met him. He was the only real recording musician any of my Malden friends knew of, so we were pretty impressed. In those days getting into the music business was a complete mystery to us!
CF: The first band had three different names: the Ancient Mariners, White Knights, and the Internationals. They only did one or two gigs, so the names were a reflection of whatever the members thought was cool at the time. These were really little-kid bands: four-chord bands where we'd all plug guitars and mics into the same amp!
JV: What about Blue Willow, your group with Billy Christie on drums, and Henry Peterson on bass?
CF: This was my high school band. We were good, but not among the more popular bands even in my high school, and didn't know enough songs to actually play a gig, which was usually a dance. We did win the star of show award in the high school variety show one year though, playing as a trio we did an original song called 'UNITE!' My friend, Scott Kingsly, ran a light show, complete with home-made, motor driven 'strobe lights' and overhead projector petri-dish displays! We may have won because of Scott. It was a thrill though, and it was the night that I caught the bug for performing.
JV: That's a good observation, Charlie. The Rat was opened when Barry & The Remains moved from a Boston University hall across the street to The Rathskellar basement. But K-K-K-Katy's, part of a three-club complex that, you noted, was called The Kenmore Club, had a big impact on the scene for many years. What happened after Live Lobster?
CF: Ken and I left Live Lobster to form Balloon. It was a scary move because Lobster was popular and we were earning our living touring. But although we weren't really a 'cover' band (we were more of a rock band, more like the Black Crowes doing a Faces song than a cover band doing Four Seasons) we weren't doing originals. We went to see Aerosmith at Katy's and again in Revere at a place called 'Scarborough Fair', and thought, ‘I can do this!’ So we started developing an all original repertoire and began to really catch on. Loud and heavy! We started to try to establish ourselves as a one or two set act, and began filling places like The Club, The Rat, Jasper’s in Somerville, and eventually started headlining and filling The Channel (1,400 capacity). We had a couple of songs on area radio that really fueled that success. The first was 'East Coast, West Coast' and the second was 'Listen To The Rock', which was on the top ten at both WBCN and WCOZ for 11 weeks. We had a live broadcast from The Channel, that was aired in its entirety on WCOZ. We began performing regionally and traveling to NYC regularly. Atlantic took an interest in the band, and Ahmet Ertegun took an interest in my songwriting. Ironically, Ahmet liked the songs that I wrote that the band didn't play. Balloon’s rise, and Atlantic's interest, was interrupted by my joining up with Joe (Perry of Aerosmith) in 1980.
CF: After a couple of years, we reconnected with Atlantic and Ahmet. Ahmet came out to see the band, and came several times to hang with me in my apartment where I had my studio, just to talk and listen to records and songs I'd written. He was very high on my songs and singing, but felt that The Enemy was good, but not unique enough to be interesting. Dance music was popular at the time and a five-piece rock band was not on Atlantic's must-have list. He signed me to Atlantic to write and develop my songs. Ironically, that's really what I do in my solo show; the music that caught Ahmet's ear is well-represented in my later solo CD Deja Blue. He loved the stuff but felt he couldn't get radio to play it, urging me to keep writing and waiting for the right time. I was impatient, and both Dave and I were itching to get back on the road, so I asked for, and was graciously allowed, to leave Atlantic to pursue a new rock band. Looking back it seems silly to not take the advice of someone like Ahmet — he well may have been right! But leaving at that time gave David and I a chance to take advantage of a new opportunity that was to present itself.
We played at The Channel, and I managed to get my new trio, Farrenheit, to be the opener. It would be our first gig. It was a sold-out room, and in the audience was Roger's friend and Foghat manager, Tony Outeda, who approached us after the show and said he wanted to sign us to Warner Brothers. Dave and I looked at each other and said, OK, look dude, we've been around and know that's not how it works . . so we didn't believe him. He showed up about two weeks later at a Farrenheit show at Bunrattys with a small recorder in his hand, and again told us he wanted to bring us in to Warners, but we were skeptical. A few days later I get a call from Russ Thyrette with Tony on a conference line. Russ basically said 'Tony's the real deal, we want you at Warners, and we want Tony to manage you.' As they say in the music business, boom.
Originally published in The Malden Observer, Thu Oct 02, 2008, 04:19 PM EDT
By Joe Viglione / recordreview2001[@}yahoo.com
ALBUMS CHARLIE APPEARS ON
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 September 2009 03:58|