T.J. Tindall Interview

One of the main reasons I started the Neotomic Aliviac Blog, was because of my interest and love of a short-lived sixties/ early seventies band called Edison Electric, and in particular their guitarist TJ Tindall. TJ joined the band during the recording of it’s only album, “Bless You Dr. Woodward” after original guitarist (Michael Ziegler) broke his arm in a motorcycle accident. The band dissolved shortly after the albums release but many of the members went on to diverse and interesting careers in music. Keyboardist Mark “Froggy” Jordan played on Van Morrison’s Tupelo Honey; bassist Dan (Freebo) Friedberg played with Bonnie Raitt and currently enjoys a very successful solo career. (Neotomic has already secured an interview with Freebo). Guitarist T.J. Tindall toured with the Chambers Brothers and became a session man for top Philly producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff and has played on a succession of hits for both M.S.F.B. and SalSoul Orchestra. TJ is respected by all who have worked with him and we at Neotomic Aliviac would like to thank him for his time and a great interview. Thanks; NA

“TJ Tindall, great guitarist, funky, listens, tasty, cool and a smart man. I saw him a few months ago and as always he has his life like his art, in time, enjoyable, clean, light, and together.” – Lon Van Eaton

“TJ’s main thing is finding the pocket or groove – when the rhythm section locks into something special that makes you wanna dance. He has phenomenal feel.” – Eddie Ciletti

Neotomic Aliviac: You started performing at a very early age and many recognized your talent as early as grade school. At what age did you pick up the guitar, and who were your early influences?

T.J. Tindall: My Grandmother bought me a snare drum when I was 5. then I switched to guitar at about 7 or 8. I was very impressed by Little Richard…I didn’t know you could actually behave like that.

N.A. Your first band was with some pals from Trenton, NJ. It seems a number of really good bands came out of that region of NJ with a distinctive funky-rock sound. How much did the fact that Trenton is between NYC and Philly have to do with your style of play and songwriting?

T.J. We were exposed to all types of music but some of us just gravitated towards R&B. For me, it’s the most fun to play…


N.A. You joined Edison Electric as they were recording their only LP “Bless You Dr. Woodward” which was released in 1970. How did you become involved with the band and what do you attribute the band’s demise to?

T.J. I was brought in because their regular guitar player (Michael Ziegler) had a motorcycle accident and couldn’t finish the record. They were living at a very exclusive farm in Hopewell for the summer and needed someone fast. I was introduced through a mutual friend and we hit it off. (the band sounded great-I couldn’t believe how lucky I was) There was no demise- we just all went our separate ways- Freebo went with Bonnie (Raitt) -Frog went with Van Morrison and I decided to stay in Philly and pursue R&B with Gamble and Huff.
N.A. Edison Electric had a huge local following and was performing nationally with many major acts, yet the music media seemed to ignore and even snub the band. Do you believe it was a regional bias or were there other factors involved?


T.J.
There was no bias- we were a popular local Philadelphia act and we got great support from the local media and Electric Factory Concerts and Larry Magid and even WMMR.

N.A. After EE split you hooked up with Gamble and Huff. Your first session was with The Chamber’s Brothers. This started what would become a decade of continuous hits. How did a white hippie kid from the suburbs of NJ get involved with MFSB and become such a big part of what is now known as the Philadelphia soul sound?

T.J. You’re right-1st session was some tracks for a Chambers Brothers album that I think never came out- A single called : “The Hair on my Chinny-Chin-Chin” did get released on Columbia but that was it. The 1st real release I had with Gamble and Huff was “Drownin’ in the Sea of Love” by Joe Simon followed by “Backstabbers” by the O’Jays. After that, it was one after another. There was a period of about 5 years that we had at least 1 record (many times several) in the top ten every week. Just like with the EE days, we played together and it felt great. They used to tease me and call me Duane Allman because of my rock and roll background and my long hair but we all got along great. I think they liked what I added to the sound so they kept me around.
N.A. Gamble and Huff were just inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. You must be very proud of your contributions. Do you still do any work with either of them?


T.J. Pretty cool, huh? Certainly I’m proud. As far as working together, we haven’t lately but you never know what the future may hold. I do see them socially occasionally. Those were amazing years… John Jackson wrote a book about those years called “House on Fire- The rise and fall of Philadelphia soul” and Sony put out a CD box set with most of the trax so fortunately, that time is well documented.

N.A. How did you become involved with Salsoul Orchestra?

T.J. Disco sort of grew out of the Philly sound. When we would cut a lot of the trax, we would just keep playing the song beyond the 3 minutes we knew would be the radio version-just sort of jamming for our own amusement and Joe Tarsia the engineer at Sigma would just leave the tape running- sometimes we would go n for 6 or 7 minutes longer and actually these jams really rocked. Then some of the stations started playing the longer versions on the radio. This was the beginning of the dance record which eventually led to disco- It was totally by accident- All of us in the rythmn section started getting hired by other producers who wanted to emulate the sound and one of them was Salsoul Orchestra. After that, it just exploded and everybody was making dance records. At that point, I decided to move to NY and start a rock band. (totally different than the Philly thing- It was a new wave pop band called “Hurricane Jones” on MSI records. It was really fun and a welcome change.)


N.A. In 1973 you played on The Van Eaton’s record “Brother” recorded at Apple studios. Did you get a chance to meet any of the Beatles during those sessions?

T.J. We worked with George, Ringo and Klaus Voorman. Lon Eaton lives in Denver now and is witting and developing a very cool stage production called The Dance of Life.

N.A. You also played with Duke Williams of Duke Williams and the Extremes, who you are still friends with, as-well-as many others from your early Trenton days. What makes those bonds so strong after so many years?

T.J. In fact, we had dinner together last night- Duke and I have a very strong bond because of how we came up together. We both got into music together at a very early age and because he was my best friend when we were growing up we naturally got into music together- we would always go to the Trenton State Fair and see the “Coppertone Review” -which was an black dancing girl type of review. We were too young to get into the show, but the guys in the band and some of the girls would do a sort of preview out on the midway before the show and Duke and I would get right up front to watch the band play- These guys were funky- shark skin suites, processed hair,old dented saxes- I remember one guys guitar had the neck held on with tape wrapped around it. Amazing but boy could they play! Then we would always see “The Cavaliers” a black drum and bugle corp., in the Trenton parades. You could hear them coming down the street from 3 or 4 blocks away. All the normal marchers were doing this boring “um-pa” Phillip Souza stuff and all of a sudden off in the distance,you would start to hear off in the distance this funky cool sound of rythmn and little by little they would get closer and closer and eventually go right by you playing and dancing- I remember they were dressed in these pirate-looking outfits all in purple and black- They were very cool. Plus we would come home after school and watch Bandstand ( see if you can find any info on The Cavaliers or The Coppertone Review- very funky both ). And just a couple of blocks away, Lon and Derrik Van Eaton were having their own thing- then a block away in the other direction, we had Marty Meulhiesen who ended up with Jim Croche so there was a lot of talent in our neighborhood.

N.A. You recorded a song called “I Move Easy” which was slated for a solo project. The song had many TJ Tindall fans salivating and wanting more. Why was that project never released and are there any more gems like that lying around?

T.J. Actually, I wrote “I Move Easy” for Willie Chambers (of The Chambers Brothers) and he is the one doing the lead vocals on the demo version you can hear the rough mix at Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Chambers_Brothers) Doing background vocals on it is Earl Scooter with Willie and myself. Also, the rythnm section features Earl Young and Ronnie Baker and Larry Washington (MFSB, The Trammps and countless others) and Cotton Kent who played on many of the Philly hits and was also one of the founders of Elizabeth another Philly bands from the time of Edison Electric. Also Duke played Hammond organ – It was a great session. I was never interested in a solo career and yes, there are lots of great unpublished TJ Tunes just dyin to get out!

N.A. College stations around the country are currently playing Edison Electric tracks in their rotations. Why do you think the album has resonated with a whole new generation and are there any plans for an Edison Electric reunion?

T.J. There are no plans at the moment but we did have a reunion in Hollywood about 10 years ago and the band still sounded great. It was a good combination of players and definitely on the intellectual side. All the guys except me were students at U of P so it was pretty “heady” stuff but still funky. You say it’s getting played- I think thats great- where’s my check?

N.A. Having played with artists as diverse as Bonnie Raitt, Robert Palmer, The Ojay’s and so many others, any sessions that really stand out?

T.J. Too many to mention- I remember most of them like they were yesterday. Being accepted by so many different types of artists is truly a compliment. Very gratifying… the cool part is being able to communicate with so many different types of people- Shortly before he died a few years ago, I had the pleasure of jamming with Boozo Chavis of Saint Charles Louizianna, the undisputed king of Zydeco music (big hit called “Paper In My Shoe” from the 50’s) With his heavy Cajun accent, neither one of us could understand a single word the other one was saying but when we got on that stage and played together, we understood each other perfectly.

N.A. Name three artists, living or dead, that TJ Tindall would love to jam with.

T.J.

Little Richard, The Mighty Clouds of Joy, Tito Puente

Quick One Word Answers:
1. Cds or MP3s? – I love my iphone
2. Coffee or Tea? – coffee
3. Barack Obama or Hilary Clinton? – Obama Lama Bamma Loo (Little Richard)
4. Acoustic Neil Young or Electric Neil Young? – neither
5. Favorite curse word? – FUCK!!

Recently T.J. sent us this video of him performing with the Chambers Brothers (he’s in the back playing the guitar):

One more example of his work. He did the guitar work in this famous song:

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~ by neotomicaliviac on April 29, 2008.

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