Ed Ward gave it to us straight, whether he was talking about a key moment in rock ‘n’ roll history or naming his favorite chicken sandwich in Austin, where he lived.
Ok, the chicken sandwich part I’m not 100-percent sure about. But, based on the couple dozen hours I’ve spent listening to Ward discuss rock music in his recurring guest spot on the Let It Roll podcast, I think it’s a safe bet he delivered his opinion about his favorite chicken sandwich (from Austin’s Phoenicia Bakery & Deli) in no uncertain terms—straight, no chaser, baby.
On Let It Roll, Ward most recently spent several episodes talking with host Nate Wilcox about the second volume of Ward’s book, “The History of Rock & Roll.”
A couple years earlier, Ward teamed with Wilcox for the entirety of Let It Roll’s first two seasons, all of the episodes in discussion of “The History of Rock & Roll: Volume 1.”
Yep, Ward was there at the beginning — there at the beginning of Let It Roll, and there at the beginning of rock ‘n’ roll’s Golden Age starting in 1965, when he became one of the first professional journalists to cover the modern musical form.
All of which makes the sudden news of Ward’s passing, at the age of 72, a king-sized anvil dropped right onto the concert stage, a genuine loss for those of us who like our rock ‘n’ roll with some solid intel and informed judgement.
He will be sorely missed. All hail Ed Ward!
The search for how and why popular music happens is, in many respects, a search for provenance — put crudely and not how my mother taught me to communicate, it’s a search for where’d that thang come from?
When and where are the building blocks of provenance, the two legs on the table that keeps falling over but will stand up quite effectively if you throw in the how and why.
Bring in the who for the table top — the concept not the band unless you want a really loud table — and that ship of knowledge has set sail, destination history.
I write all this to introduce the author Jonathan Gould, who I believe does rock ‘n’ roll provenance better than anyone. Gould tells the creation tale like few if any others, his Beatlemania table setting (in the book “Can’t Buy Me Love”) the gold standard for an acute understanding of that epoch-changing occurrence.
Gould does it again with the book “Otis Redding: An Unfinished Life,” and you can get a taste of his action by listening to the Let It Roll podcast replays this week and last.
I promise you this, loyal readers: Read the first tenth of this book, and you will forever think differently about the Jim Crow South and the 20th-Century nation in which it existed. That thar is some heavy-duty provenance, Bucky, like a big ol’ swig of sobriety.
Ed Legge (@freebirdyeller) is a life-long musician, long-time journalist and sometime corporate dweeb who’s writing a book about originating rock ‘n’ roll’s most absurd tradition.