I’ve written four books about Elvis, including the first biography, and I was a correspondent and contributing editor of Rolling Stone for 20 years. As a result, I know the early days of Rock and Roll well and I’m a big, big fan of the genre. So, imagine my surprise when I found Peter Driscoll and the Cruisers playing at my corner pub in Bangkok. Most of Peter Driscoll’s adult life has been spent playing in the working men’s clubs in England, performing Billy Joel and the like, Rockabilly when he could. Now that he’s retired – a word that never comes to mind when you see him perform – Peter plays only the music he truly loves, from the era when Rock was fun AND you could dance to it. And it’s not just us old Farangs who get up to dance. I walked into one of his gigs and the floor was filled with young Thais; Jitter-bugging! It made me laugh out loud, not in derision but in joy. And they were GOOD! Please forgive all the exclamation points and capital letters, but that’s the kind of entertainment this is. And wait until you see his suits!
– Jerry Hopkins, author, Elvis: The Biography and the Jim Morrison cult classic, No One Here Gets Out Alive, #1 New York Times, 25 year resident of Bangkok and featured in my book, Bangkok Beat
I occasionally get asked who I wish I had included in Bangkok Beat, which includes dozens of colorful creative expats living in Bangkok or Southeast Asia and Peter Driscoll always tops my list.
Peter Driscoll and the Cruisers will be appearing this Saturday July 2nd, 2016 from 12 noon until 8:00 pm. It’s a great event held at NIST International School, Sukhumvit 15, BTS Asoke/MRT Sukhumvit. For more information on the weekend’s activities go to http://www.amchamthailand.com/acct/asp/general.asp?MenuCatID=2&MenuItemID=207&SponsorID=0 Live bands including Ample Soul, Matthew Fischer and the Fishes, Southern Cross, Peter Driscoll and the Cruisers, and Sticky Fingers will be playing American rock, blues, and folk throughout the day.
I had a chance to chat with Peter via email recently about being a musician in Bangkok and these are a few of the excerpts from our Q & A Session:
KC Welcome, Peter. Let’s talk about your passion, rockabilly and rock n roll. When did its influence take hold of you? Who were your American influences and who else in England and throughout the world influenced you?
PD: Elvis of course, I was 14 in 1956 when Heartbreak Hotel came out, my Dad had just bought a radiogram and it was the first record I ever bought. Then Jerry Lee Lewis came along,Eddie Bond, Gene Vincent. I also liked Cliff Gallup and Billy Fury too.
KC: Can you talk about style? Elvis had it. You have it. Looking the part is important. Who were some of best dressed musical artists during your lifetime? Put another way, who had style? Can you name any artist that had talent but may have lacked style?
PD: Most of those in Bangkok … sorry (Laughing). It was BB King who said, never go on stage in your street clothes. In the early days everybody tried to look smart,we all changed for the show, white suits were very popular. Look at any old pics all the artistes were looking good,nowadays its tee shirts & jeans etc, very disappointing. The exceptions are Paul McCartney and Elton John, Rod Stewart too..
KC: Talk about the the Amcham event coming up July 2nd. How many years have you been associated with it? What makes it a great event in Bangkok?
PD: I think this will be the 7th time I have played, great family day out, very good sound and gear for the bands and for some worthy causes and benefits of course.
KC: What are the challenges of being a live musical act composed of expats and finding musical gigs in Thailand? Is it harder in the 21st Century? Talk about the heyday period for you and other live musicians if you can.
PD: This is really an area I cannot get into, except to say 10 years ago when I came here there was great camaraderie amongst the bands.Sadly that is all gone now and many of the venues have closed. I have not made many friends here with my views on playing for nothing. I hold a simple view: I think any good musician should be paid.
The Cruisers play AMCHAM & the PLOEN CHIT FAIR for free. We’ll also run events with Charities doing well, we are pleased to support them.We have no problem auditioning for regular gigs and do so all the time. Once people hear us, they know what they are getting and are generally supportive if they are in a position to do so.
KC: Thanks, Peter. Good luck July 2nd and the rest of 2016 and beyond.
PD: Thank-you, Kevin.