Swamp Dogg's 75th birthday celebration with special guest Wayne Kraymer of MC5, DJ Groupchat, and more surprises [EARLY SHOW]

The Satellite Presents

Swamp Dogg's 75th birthday celebration with special guest Wayne Kraymer of MC5, DJ Groupchat, and more surprises [EARLY SHOW]

Sat, July 15, 2017

Doors: 5:00 pm / Show: 6:00 pm (event ends at 8:00 pm)

The Satellite

Los Angeles, CA


This event is 21 and over

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Swamp Dogg
Swamp Dogg
In the history of rock & roll, there has never been anyone quite like Swamp Dogg.

“For decades, [Swamp Dogg] has bent R&B/soul traditions as far as they can stretch,” wrote Richie Unterberger in Unknown Legends of Rock ‘n Roll (Backbeat Books, 1998). “Funk grooves are wedded to old Fats Domino licks. Raunchy tales of sexual (in)fidelity butt up against lyrics probing social injustice, racism and the waste of war. His keening voice is a blend of Jackie Wilson, Van Morrison, Percy Sledge, and pure Swamp Dogg, drawing from soul, rock, and even country. It’s black popular music that is too eclectic to pigeonhole—and, for some tastes, too hot to handle in its frank examination/reflection of American society. Even if it is funny.”

Jerry Williams, Jr. was born July 12, 1942 in Portsmouth, Virginia. As Little Jerry, he released his first single, “HTD Blues” b/w “Nat’s Wailing,” in 1954. It sank without a trace, as did nearly every successive release by Little Jerry Williams (as he now was known) on a half-dozen small labels until early 1966, when “Baby, You're My Everything” (Calla) charted at #32 R&B and put Williams in competition with the likes of Jackie Wilson, Wilson Pickett, Jerry Butler, and Otis Redding.

“My songs were just as good, but I didn't feel that I had as much heart in my songs as they had in theirs,” the singer told Richie Unterberger. “Because when I sang about being wonderful, I didn't really believe it. Cause I've never been caught up in ‘I'm a great-lookin’ guy and when I walk onstage, the bitches fall out’ — I never believed no shit like that. And I had good reason not to believe it, because it never fuckin’ happened!”

By 1968, Jerry Williams, Jr. was writing and producing prolifically for a broad spectrum of artists ranging from pop balladeer Gene Pitney (the Top 20 Pop hit “She’s A Heartbreaker”) to Portsmouth pal Gary “U.S.” Bonds to veteran vocal groups like The Drifters and Patti La Belle & the Blue Belles. In 1969, Williams briefly became the first African-American to be hired by Atlantic Records as a staff producer; as Jerry Williams, he released a few more musically compelling but commercially unsuccessful singles through the label. His departure from Atlantic signaled that it was time for a change, and so Swamp Dogg was born.

Without this sudden and subversive identity shift, the artist reflects, “I would’ve most likely started drinking and become an alcoholic, running around singing one big hit – whatever that would be – and just bored with life myself, singing that same piece of shit.”

In 1970, the first Swamp Dogg single appeared on Canyon Records. A bluesy ballad on the theme of dubious paternity co-written with Gary Bonds, “Mama's Baby, Daddy's Maybe” reached #33 on the Billboard R&B chart and set the stage for the long-playing debut Total Destruction to Your Mind , which included the anti-consumerist “Synthetic World”; “The Baby Is Mine,” a sort of answer song to his hit single; and two tunes, “Redneck” and “These Are Not My People,” composed by Joe South, the white Georgia singer/songwriter of “Games People Play” fame.

Meanwhile, Swamp Dogg continued to work with a host of other artists across multiple genres. In 1971, for example, Nashville R&B DJ Freddie North cut the Jerry Williams/Gary Bonds composition “She’s All I Got.” Released on Swamp’s Mankind Records, North scored a #10 R&B/#39 Pop hit, which was then covered by the white country singer Johnny Paycheck for a #2 Country hit and a Top 5 Country album of the same title. Johnny Paycheck’s “She’s All I Got” is heard over the opening credits of the Mike Judge film Extract starring Mila Kunis, Ben Affleck, and Jason Batemen.

Many more Swamp Dogg albums have appeared in the decades since Total Destruction To Your Mind, from the major -label debut Rat On (Elektra, 1971) to the self-released Resurrection (2007), praised by Robert Christgau in Rolling Stone as the Dogg’s “most inspired album since 1991 ’s Surfin’ in Harlem.” The fact that not one of these discs ever breached the Billboard Top 200 has never deterred their creator: Indeed, by retaining ultimate ownership of his master tapes and song publishing, Swamp Dogg has fared better financially than many better-known artists who had hit records in the Seventies and Eighties.

Take, for example, “Slow Slow Disco” from Swamp Dogg’s Finally Caught Up With Myself , an album barely released in 1977 on the budget label Springboard International. In 1998, this track was heavily sampled by Kid Rock on “I Got One For Ya” and earned Jerry Williams Jr. a writer credit on Rock’s 11X platinum album Devil Without A Cause. In another instance, Talib Kweli & Hi Tek sampled “Shaft’s Mama” (from Swamp Dogg’s 1977 album An Opportunity...Not A Bargain!!!) for “Move Somethin’,” a cut on Talib’s 2000 album Reflection Eternal.

“I’m glad I didn’t make it, back in the days as Little Jerry Williams,” Swamp Dogg told BluesCritic.com. “I really wasn't that unhappy, ‘cause I didn’t get into music for the money but because I love the music. You can see by the shit I put out, I don't care too much for the brass ring!”

“As Swamp Dogg, I could be whoever I was at that particular time. If I wanna sing a love song, if I wanna sing about fucking, if I want to sing about politics – whatever I wanted to sing about, I could do it as a dog, since you expect a dog to do just about anything. . .and he’s forgiven afterwards!”
Wayne Kramer
Wayne Kramer
Dad. Guitarist. Composer. Activist. MC5 Founder. Born in Detroit. Lives in LA.
DJ Groupchat
Venue Information:
The Satellite
1717 Silverlake Blvd
Los Angeles, CA, 90027