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Aaron Neville has a degree in 'doo-wop-ology'

Courtesy photo
Aaron Neville headlines Saturday's concerts at Multifest on the Capitol Complex grounds. The R&B singer's new project, which will be released in the fall, is a doo-wop album.

WANT TO GO?

Aaron Neville

Part of Multifest

WHERE: Capitol Complex grounds

WHEN: 10:30 p.m. Saturday

TICKETS: Free

INFO: 304-421-1585 or www.multifestwv.com

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Keith Richards is a big doo-wop fan.

Richards is better known for writing songs and playing guitar for The Rolling Stones, but Aaron Neville, who headlines Charleston's Multifest Saturday, knows they share a love of doo-wop music because uber producer Don Was told him so.

"You know, Don Was produced quite a few Rolling Stones records," the 71-year-old Grammy winner explained. "He mentioned to me that while he was on the road with them, he roomed underneath Keith."

Richards, he said, had looped the Jive Five's big doo-wop hit, "My True Story," on a tape machine.

"Keith had this song going over and over all day long."

Neville didn't say whether Richards' music ever grated on the rock producer's nerves, but it did inform Was about what Richards liked, and he remembered it. So when Neville said he wanted to make a record of doo-wop songs, Was suggested Richards might be interested.

Asking wasn't a problem for Neville, either.

"Keith and I've been friends a while," the singer said. "My brothers and I toured with [The Rolling Stones] in 1981. My son, Ivan, played in his solo band, The Expensive Winos, and Keith and I are about the same age. We grew up listening to the same stuff."

Richards agreed to co-produce the project. Though he probably heard doo-wop on the radio, Neville's point of contact was much closer.

"When I was a kid, my brother, Art, had a doo-wop group," he said. "They used to sit out on a park bench in the Calliope Projects [in New Orleans] and sing. It was always fascinating to me."

Art also worked at a record store and would bring home doo-wop records by The Clovers, Billy Ward and His Dominos, Hank Ballard and many others. They listened to them, and Neville said he sort of obsessed over them.

The singer explained, "The school teacher must've thought I had ADD because I wasn't paying attention. I had those songs going through my head."

The music had a profound affect on Neville's career.

"If you know my music, you know there's doo-wop in everything I do."

Doo-wop has shown up here and there on most of his records, and Neville said that back in the 1980s, he did what he called a "semi-doo-wop album." The record, "Orchid in the Storm," had a lot of doo-wop material, but wasn't entirely devoted to the style.

When his new as-yet-to-be-titled, record from Blue Note Records comes out this fall, though, it will be all doo-wop.

Putting the record together wasn't as easy as it sounds. Neville has a lot of favorites.

"We went in to record 12 songs and ended up recording 23," he said. "The problem was just choosing 12. I told Don this might be part one and there could be a part two, part three, part four."

Which would suit him just fine. He figured he was the guy to do it.

"I went to the University of Doo-wop-ology," he boasted. "If anybody is going to do it, it's going to be me.

"This music has been in my blood since I can remember."

Reach Bill Lynch at lynch@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.


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