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NIGHT LIFE THE CLUB SCENE : Hot Guitar : Robben Ford has switched coasts and is rehearsing with his new band in L.A.

October 04, 1990|BILL LOCEY

Just as there are factories that crank out Oreo Cookies, windshield wipers, Liquid Wrench and everything else, there must be a factory somewhere that cranks out hot guitar players--there must be. There are so many of them.

This week's happening guitar god is none other than Robben Ford. He's played everything everywhere with everybody. Ford and his band will be at the venerable Ventura Theatre Saturday night.

Recently relocated to Los Angeles from New York, Ford is rehearsing with his new band--a task made much easier now that they all live in the same town.

Ford's second (and last) solo album came out in 1988. Since then, he's been writing songs and trying to deal with the bane of every musician's life--those dreaded "creative differences." That's what musicians do between gigs--get creative or have differences.

"Basically, I've been having problems with my record company the last few years," Ford, who records for Warner Bros., said in a recent telephone interview. "I've been hanging out in New York the last four years, but I just had to get out of there. So now, I'll be in L.A. for awhile."

Born in Ukiah, a small town in northern California, Ford left town after he graduated from high school in 1970 to make his fortune as a musician. In San Francisco, he formed the Charles Ford Band (named after his father) but soon after joined Charlie Musselwhite's band. A few years later, Ford joined bluesman Jimmy Witherspoon's band and was "discovered" by Tom Scott and the L.A. Express.

"This basically allowed me to reach a higher echelon of musicians," Ford said. "I played with Joni Mitchell, George Harrison, Michael McDonald, Barbra Streisand, David Sanborn, Kenny Loggins, Little Feat and Miles Davis."

Not a bad resume. Does he have any favorites? "Miles, man, he's my favorite musician. It was a real honor to be called to play with him in the first place. He could be very intimidating, but I didn't let it freak me out."

In between his incessant performing and touring, Ford formed the Yellowjackets jazz/rock band in 1977 and stayed and played with that band until 1983, or two albums later. Difficult to pigeonhole as either a rock, a blues or a jazz guitarist, Ford incorporates a number of styles in his music.

"I've been influenced by literally hundreds of blues and jazz musicians. I like B.B. King, Albert Collins, John Coltrane, and, of course, Miles and all the people that played around them like Herbie Hancock. I guess my current band is 50% blues, 25% jazz and 25% rock 'n' roll."

Next Tuesday would have been John Lennon's 50th birthday. It's been nearly 10 years since Lennon was gunned down in New York City.

To celebrate Lennon's birthday, it was decided to play Lennon's song "Imagine" over an international satellite network so the song could be heard by millions of people the world over at exactly the same time. The broadcast will originate from the United Nations building in New York City. His widow, Yoko Ono, will read a brief statement after the broadcast, which will air on more than 1,000 stations. Foreign language translations will be provided free.

On Tuesday at 7 a.m., Ventura County listeners can tune in to "Imagine" over two Los Angeles radio stations: KLOS 95.5-FM and KLSX 97.1-FM.

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