Me & Mr. Ike Willis

Me & Mr. Ike Willis

Avete mai incontrato una persona che credevate irraggiungibile, che pensavate esistesse solo in un disco o in un film? E avete mai fatto una foto con lui? E ci avete mai suonato insieme? Bene, io qualche sera fa ci ho parlato del SuperBowl.

 

Forse non tutti sanno chi è Ike Willis, ma non ci va molto a spiegarlo. È stato il cantante e il chitarrista di Frank Zappa dal 1978 fino alla morte del genio di Baltimora. E anche oltre. Sì, perché Ike racconta che negli ultimi momenti di vita, Frank si rivolse a lui chiedendogli di continuare a portare avanti la sua musica, quella che li aveva fatti conoscere e che li aveva fatti andare a suonare in giro per il mondo. Lui è Thing-fish, lui è Outside Now, lui è Joe di Joe’s Garage. Forse ancora molti non avranno bene idea di chi possa realmente essere perché essere fan di Zappa non è una cosa da tutti e non è una cosa per tutti. Chi conosce Frank Zappa conosce Ike Willis. Certo. Non c’è dubbio.

 

Per voi che invece non avete mai sentito la sua voce, non posso cercare di descrivervela in nessun modo se non facendovela sentire. Qui una versione di Outside Now (un brano a cui sono molto legato e di cui parlerò magari più avanti su questo blog) del 1994, un anno dopo la morte di Frank:

 

 

E qui in un featuring con Elio e le Storie Tese:

 

 

Ecco, questo è Ike Willis. L’Ike Willis cantante, strumentista, musicista, artista. Ma dietro c’è tanto di più, come tutti i personaggi dello spettacolo, ovviamente. Solo che di solito non abbiamo idea di quello che si possa nascondere dietro un po’ di barba bianca e una maglietta quasi sempre, rigorosamente, nera con qualche scritta.

 

Ho conosciuto Ike quando avevo 16 anni. Era il 2000 e con gli Ossi Duri siamo riusciti ad organizzare un tour di qualche data in Italia insieme a lui. Proprio in questi giorni mi ha ricordato di quando abbiamo fatto una foto tutti insieme sui nostri motorini e mi ha fatto pensare che lo conosco da più di metà della mia vita. Sicuramente da molto più di metà della mia vita musicale e devo dire che sì, a lui devo molto.

 

Perché gli accordi te li può insegnare ogni bravo maestro, così come le scale e le progressioni, come tenere una nota intonata o fare un bel bending. Tutto questo lo trovi nelle scuole. Ma il palco no, quello non lo puoi imparare tranquillo seduto in un aula, il palco lo devi annusare, sentire, graffiare, sporcare, godere e soffrire. E lui di palchi ne ha visti, eccome se ne ha visti. E tutto questo non solo fa parte di lui come fa parte di tutti noi respirare o camminare, ma sa anche insegnarlo a chi gli sta accanto nel migliore dei modi: facendo. Lui ti butta nella fossa dei leoni, poi sta a te essere bravo a seguire le sue indicazioni, sopravvivere e venirne fuori vincitore. “It’s easy, man. Just follow the finger“.

 

Siamo arrivati alla fine di questo tour italiano e anche se ho sentito la sua voce e le sue canzoni centinaia di volte, una volta a sera, sul palco, vengo colto da un brivido improvviso al solo pensiero di chi sta insieme a me su quel palco. Non di fronte, non davanti: insieme.

 

Thank you, Mr. Ike Willis. È tutto quello che voglio dire con questo articolo.

 

ENGLISH VERSION

Have you ever met a person you believed unreachable? Maybe some one you think he can exist only in a movie or an album. And have you ever done a photo with him? Or played with him? Well, some days ago I talked with him about the SuperBowl.

 

Maybe you don’t know who Ike Willis is, but it’s easy to explain. He was the Frank Zappa‘s lead singer and the guitar player from 1978 to the death of the Genius from Baltimore. And even more. Yes, because Ike use to say that in the last few moments of his life Frank asked Ike to keep playing FZ’s music, the music both of them loved, the music that led them around the world. Ike is Thing-fish, he’s Outside Now, he’s Joe from Joe’s Garage album. Probably many of you can’t understand yet who he is because to be a Zappa’s fan is not something for everyone. Who knows Frank knows Ike, of course. No doubt.

 

If you have never heard his voice, I can’t try to describe it. I can only share you some links where you can listen to him.
Here you can find an Outside Now 1994 version, one year after Frank left us (I love this song, maybe in the future I will talk about it in this blog):

 

 

And here you can listen to him in a featuring with Elio e le Storie Tese:

 

 

This is Ike Willis. The singer, multi-instrumentalist, musician, artist. But behind this there’s more, much more, as happens to all celebrities. Even if usually we don’t know how many things are hidden behind some white beard and a black t-shirt, severely black only with some white sentences.
I first met Ike when I was 16. It was 2000 and with Ossi Duri we organized a short tour in Italy with him. In these days he remembered me when we took a photo all together with our teenage-motorbikes and it made me think that I have known him for about more than half my life. Surely for more than half my musical life and I have to tell that I owe him a lot.

 

Because every good teacher could teach you chords, scales, progressions, how to keep a note in tune or how to do a good bending. You can find all these things in schools. But the stage, nobody can teach you the stage. You must smell it, feel it, scratch it, dirty it, enjoy it and suffer it. And he saw some stages, a lot of stages. All of these is part of him as everyone can walk or breathe and he can teach to the ones who share the stage with him. He throws you into the lions’ den, so it’s up to you to follow his instructions, to survive and to get out as a winner. “It’s easy, man. Just follow the finger“.

 

We just get to the end of this italian tour and even if I listen to his voice and his songs hundreds of time, once for night on the stage I was thrilled thinking about who’s with me on that stage. Not in front of me, not ahead: with me, together.

 

Thank you, Mr. Ike Willis. That’s the only thing I want to say with all this post.
(And, of course, sorry for my english, it could be not so perfect. But my emotions…well, they are.)

 

[:en]Have you ever met a person you believed unreachable? Maybe some one you think he can exist only in a movie or an album. And have you ever done a photo with him? Or played with him? Well, some days ago I talked with him about the SuperBowl.

Maybe you don’t know who Ike Willis is, but it’s easy to explain. He was the Frank Zappa‘s lead singer and the guitar player from 1978 to the death of the Genius from Baltimore. And even more. Yes, because Ike use to say that in the last few moments of his life Frank asked Ike to keep playing FZ’s music, the music both of them loved, the music that led them around the world. Ike is Thing-fish, he’s Outside Now, he’s Joe from Joe’s Garage album. Probably many of you can’t understand yet who he is because to be a Zappa’s fan is not something for everyone. Who knows Frank knows Ike, of course. No doubt.

If you have never heard his voice, I can’t try to describe it. I can only share you some links where you can listen to him.
Here you can find an Outside Now 1994 version, one year after Frank left us (I love this song, maybe in the future I will talk about it in this blog):

And here you can listen to him in a featuring with Elio e le Storie Tese:

This is Ike Willis. The singer, multi-instrumentalist, musician, artist. But behind this there’s more, much more, as happens to all celebrities. Even if usually we don’t know how many things are hidden behind some white beard and a black t-shirt, severely black only with some white sentences.
I first met Ike when I was 16. It was 2000 and with Ossi Duri we organized a short tour in Italy with him. In these days he remembered me when we took a photo all together with our teenage-motorbikes and it made me think that I have known him for about more than half my life. Surely for more than half my musical life and I have to tell that I owe him a lot.

Because every good teacher could teach you chords, scales, progressions, how to keep a note in tune or how to do a good bending. You can find all these things in schools. But the stage, nobody can teach you the stage. You must smell it, feel it, scratch it, dirty it, enjoy it and suffer it. And he saw some stages, a lot of stages. All of these is part of him as everyone can walk or breathe and he can teach to the ones who share the stage with him. He throws you into the lions’ den, so it’s up to you to follow his instructions, to survive and to get out as a winner. “It’s easy, man. Just follow the finger“.

We just get to the end of this italian tour and even if I listen to his voice and his songs hundreds of time, once for night on the stage I was thrilled thinking about who’s with me on that stage. Not in front of me, not ahead: with me, together.

Thank you, Mr. Ike Willis. That’s the only thing I want to say with all this post.
(And, of course, sorry for my english, it could be not so perfect. But my emotions…well, they are.)

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