November 24, 2005

A life spent playing the jug and the washtub bass.

Goodbye to Fritz Richmond, who played the jug and the washtub bass in Jim Kweskin's Jug Band:
Drawing on his expertise as an Army helicopter mechanic, he strung the washtub bass with a steel cable, turning it into a usable instrument. To play it, he developed his own steel-and-rawhide gloves.

He won national attention in 1963 with the Kweskin band. Only when he joined the band did he learn that he would be playing the jug as well as washtub bass. None of the members of the band knew the instrument firsthand; Mr. Richmond learned how to play it from scratchy old records.

Mr. Muldaur said Mr. Richmond was an innovator who, among other things, suggested the Lovin' Spoonful's name and was the first to wear the granny glasses with tiny colored lenses later favored by many other musicians. While most wore the glasses to be trendy, Mr. Muldaur said, Mr. Richmond wore them to hide the fact that the exertion of blowing the jug made him go cross-eyed.

Oh, so that's why we all wore those glasses! I wonder how many other fashion trends were started by someone who had an idiosyncratic reason for wearing something unusual.

Anyway, I loved the Jug Band. Here's a greatest hits record -- and you can listen to some clips.


gt said...

One of the sex pistols one time tore his pants, so he used some safety pins to hold them together. Within weeks it was a fashion must.

Judith said...

I loved the JKJB too. A famous graduate of the band was Maria Muldaur.