Earl Stanley is most noted today for his role in creating the 1965 proto-funk garage classic “Pass the Hatchet,” which he recorded with his band under the name Roger and the Gypsies. A local smash, that song went on to make waves again decades later in the soundtrack of Robert Rodriguez’s “Desperado” gangster film. However, this under-the-radar New Orleans treasure has been in the music game since the 1950s. As Michael Hurtt notes in an Offbeat music profile:
By the time he cut “Gypsy Woman” in 1964, Stanley was no stranger to the recording studio, having waxed hundreds of discs with the Loafers and the Skyliners that serve as a connect-the-dots treasure map to the greasiest of New Orleans rock ’n’ roll. With Mac Rebennack on guitar and piano, Leonard James on saxophone and Paul Staehle on drums, Stanley’s electric bass lines drove the records that — when you peel back the veneer of national hits — defined the soul of the city in the late ’50s and early ’60s, from Morgus and the Ghouls’ “Morgus The Magnificent” and Roland Stone’s “Just A Moment” to Bobby Lonero’s “Little Bit” and Jimmy Donley’s “Think It Over.”
Today’s Song of the Day features Eddie Powers singing a Stanley-penned tuned called “A Million Tears Ago.” A member of the long-running West Bank band the Nobles, Powers also teamed up with Stanley on the tune that would make him a local sensation: “Gypsy Woman.” Stanley told Hurtt: ‘Gypsy Woman,’ I was playing organ and I didn’t know how to play it; I was just learning. That’s why it’s so simple, because I only knew one or two things. Maybe that’s for the best. If I’d have been real good and cluttered it all up with junk, it wouldn’t sound the same.”
Stanley also played at Papa Joe’s Bourbon Street nightclub in the legendary house band that at one time or another featured Skip Easterling, Freddy Fender, Joe Barry, and saxophonist Johnny Pennino, among others.
Today you can catch Earl Stanley and Eddie Powers playing every Wednesday at Mo’s Chalet in Metairie, usually accompanied by Pennino and other sit-in musicians. Stanley also plays bass with the Yat Pack at The Max bar in Metairie most Sundays and on their other gigs. And don’t miss Earl at this year’s Ponderosa Stomp. Click here for the full lineup as well as ticket and hotel information.