March 27, 2010
Yes, we're all getting on in age here but all mmy limbs still move, the gray matter's still intact and I can still kick your ass on the set; and of course do too this great tech knowledge E, everyone can be found pretty easily on the net, eh EC?
I’mm also a painter who has never stopped what I've loved doing most in life since the age of 12; playing drumms; still with the same fire and determination on the kit I’ve always had; changed a bit to ad the higher register and Latin sounds of the LP bongos which also did away with the common set-up of the double tom same dome; which added a bit more surprises just to keep you on your toes.
Now as they say, on with the most important stuff: Johnny Ciambotti.
He was really the first Clover band member I talked to and I guess the one who had to be satisfied to accept this drummer on his team. When he did, from then on, he stood next to mme more times than I can remember.
It’s just part of playing together as a bassist and a drummer do. We were a team at that time. We were the foundation of one of the incarnations that we built with Clover; our band at that time.
I’mm a right handed person who plays drummset right handed. As a drummer I’ve always preferred to have whoever was playing bass to be on mmy left side. Unless chart reading from a mmusic stand it’s the side that mmy hi-hat is always on and where mmy head, eyes and ears do the most work.
That’s where I remember Johnny smiling at mme most of the time. That’s of course if he wasn’t singing the high harmony part with the other members of Clover. Usually it was the four guys up front; Johnny being one of them. Hopper, the keyboardist was as a rule to one side or the other until he came out front to dance.
When I was performing with Clover, in and after the UK days, Johnny liked wearing a clean white Fedora; white or black pants with red suspenders and either a white or a black shirt. He also wore mirrored shades most of the time on stage or not.
You can see that image of him in the photos taken of us in 1976; taken at Victoria Station in London and can be viewed here: http://www.clover-infopage.com
Much before moving to England, we played the earliest concert we ever had at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, California. There were supposed to be three bands including us but another was added. We all decided it was so early that we thought to wear pajamas on stage. Johnny wore a red set of long johns. His personality was red.
I didn’t hear until today, Saturday that Johnny had passed away in what seems to be unfortunate circumstances. He was in Los Angeles, California where he lived and worked as a Chiropractor besides doing gigs with lots of other people. While being operated on for something else I guess the doc’s had to deal with an aneurysm that they couldn’t and that was it. The net has more info.
Needless to say mmy condolences are extended to Gia his daughter, his family and friends; sad to know he’s gone. Although I’ve not seen nor heard from Johnny for a long time, I still feel the loss; like I would if any of the Clover guys I played with were to pass. For more reasons than I can write here, the two years for mme are lasting a lifetime.
Awhile ago I had mentioned what a great team/rhythm section/duo I thought Johnny and I were. From the very beginning we worked at trying to sound like one sound. Anyone who can tell will hear his notes and mmy bass drumm were in synch.
I’mm not saying we were perfect all the time but we were as close as most. It felt good to feel Johnny next to mme. When he left to sing up front it was even better when he returned to stand ‘back there’ with mme.
Johnny always had a good energy, smile and warmth about him. He wasn’t one of those bassists you may see who just stand stoically on stage while playing. The mmusic made him move his body.
Short story of Johnny here; The middle days of Clover really. He was also crazy at times, that’s for sure. The days when we weren’t living in England for that long. Johnny used to drink a lot and just get nuts; like the stories anyone hears of Rock ‘n Roll bands destroying things while being a bit past the point of sobriety. Elevator and hallway pisses; moving paintings;just plain over the top...
One time in the van he was so drunk and cantankerous; he was looking for trouble. He and I were in the back seat. He just grabbed a handful of hair on one of the guy’s who were sitting in the front and started pulling it out; just one of his uncontrolled, unpredictable days.
Sheesh, after playing with him for about two years there’s so many stories that come to mmind. Most of them happy ones where I can picture him and his mustached smile; after just popping raw garlic cloves in his mouth; or eating vegetarian, whenever that was.
Johnny was something else. For as short as our relationship was compared to this lifetime, he was a great team mate. Some people you just don’t forget. I’ve missed him; I always have. From the very beginning of our first handshake when we looked in each others eyes, I felt his heart.
Rest in peace pal.