The Desert Rose Band's Final Show
April 17, 2020
Photos by permission of Bob Seaman
The show was fantastic. They played a fine cross-section of deeper album cuts, hits, and pair of Buck Owens tunes. All of the members were in fine form, with the late Bill Bryson's bass position being filled by Ricky Skaggs and Ry Cooder veteran, Mark Fain.
Jorgenson was kind enough to help me out with the notes below.
John played through a pair of Vox AC30's on chrome stands, 1963 AC30T (non top boost) and a 1966 AC30TB-both flood survivors, and had 3 pedals in front of a Line 6 M13, A Boss tuner pedal, a Radial “Elevator” pedal to raise the gain for the weaker output guitars and a Boss DD2 for “Price I Pay” as it is easier to fine tune the speed than the internal delay in the M13.
He used a large assortment of instruments including:
Sunburst 1982 JV (Japan Vintage) Fender Telecaster - He kicked off the show with this guitar using it for "Ashes of Love" and "Love Reunite." Later used for "Hello Trouble." "Used on most of the 1st 2 DRB albums, including “Love Reunited” and “Hello Trouble” but I played “Ashes of Love” on my 1953 Tele for the recording."
Burns green burst 12-string used for "One Step Forward." It looked and sounded like the low strings had the high octave strings removed, and he used a low octave effect to replicate his Dano Bass 6 intro part, then would turn it off to play the electric 12 parts. "I removed the high octaves on the Low E and A strings, and turned on an octave pedal set to a low octave for the opening riff (emulating a 6 st bass and guitar playing together as on the record) then used the top 4 pairs as a normal 12 string for the solo and body of the song (without the octave pedal of course). It is a Burns “Double Six” model from 1994 that I used extensively with Elton John on stage and in studio. Also a flood survivor. On the record, it was the Dano and Gretsch in octaves for the riff, and the 450 12 (pre-turquoise) for the 12 parts."
Glaser/Premier/Dano Bass 6 (Red with mando scroll body) - "He's Back and I'm Blue" "Leave This Town" "Desert Rose" "Another flood survivor. Used on the recording of “Desert Rose” but the Dano was used on the recordings of the other 2.
Kentucky KM1000 - Used for "Time Between" "Missing You" and "Hard Times" "Kentucky KM1000 with an old Barcus Berry transducer wedged in the bridge. Pretty sure I used a Gibson F5 in the studio though for these tracks."
Rick 360 Capri (1961) - "Start All Over Again" "Our Baby's Gone" "This is the guitar that “Start All Over Again” was recorded on. “Our Baby’s Gone” had an ASAT, a Gibson electric tenor banjo and I think a 3rd guitar of some kind, so there was no way to replicate them all…so why not do another song on the beautiful sounding Ricky?!"
Gretsch Country Gent - "Once More" "Together Again" "No One Else." "1967 model bought from the sale when the original cast of Beatlemania got a cease and desist order, in 1985 or so. It was played onstage by Les Fradkin, who played George’s role. I played it in the studio for “One Step Forward” “Leave This Town” and “Once More”.
Takamine sig acoustic - on fixed stand used on "Pages of Life" "Story Of Love"
1988 silver sparkle ASAT - "Price I Pay." and a Buck Owens medley. "Used on the recording of “Price I Pay” and many Hellecaster’s tracks."
Black long scale Rick 32512-string - "Summer Wind" "Will This Be The Day." "Running." "Custom ordered from the Rick factory, recorded both “Summer Wind” and “Running” with it. “Will This Be The Day” was recorded on the 450 12 currently in the Western Edge exhibit."
Hank Marvin Strat - "I Still Believe in You" "It Takes a Believer." "This is a prototype Hank Strat I got from Fender UK in 1995 or so, and was also a flood survivor. On the “Still Believe” recording I used a specially built ASAT with 3 MFD PUs, and on “Believer” I used a G&L S300. Both blonde, and I don’t have either guitar any more."
Maroon Epiphone Les Paul Standard - "She Don't Love Nobody" "In Another Lifetime." "Also I played it on “Story Of Love” and it is an Epiphone ‘54 style like Jeff Beck’s, with a wraparound bridge and humbuckers. Wished I had been able to bring the quilt top Les Paul used on “Lifetime” and Story” and the LP Jr used on “She Don’t” but the Epi seemed to cover both sounds well."
On October 2nd, 2022, the Desert Rose Band played their final show at the Country Music Hall of Fame as the finale to the opening of the new exhibit, Western Edge: The Roots & Reverberations of Los Angeles Country-Rock. At this final show, Chris Hillman introduced guitarist John Jorgenson as the architect of the Desert Rose Band. This a true statement, as it was John that had the vision to see Hillman's material that was being performed by a small acoustic combo in the early 1980s, as full band California Country Rock, with dashes of Bluegrass, Bakersfield, and Byrds for good measure. But despite John's sizeable contributions, the group was a true sum of its parts; a father of Country Rock, the finest harmony singer on the planet, a wunderkind guitarist/multi-instrumentalist, a legendary steeler, and a veteran bassist and drummer of the highest order. Chris Hillman, Herb Pedersen, John Jorgenson, Jay Dee Maness, Bill Bryson, and Steve Duncan were the finest band to hit both the road and the airwaves since Emmylou's Hot Band, Buck Owen's Buckaroos or Merle Haggard's Strangers. Although their stint with the original lineup only existed from 1985-1991, they made an indelible impact on Country Music. Studio guitarists in Nashville pointed to Jorgenson's tones and began using real amps, electric 12-strings, and six-string basses, and being more adventurous with effects. Songwriters were encouraged to create honest material that focused on sometimes difficult subjects, and road bands everywhere rehearsed more, and still shuddered at the thought of following the Californians, with great songs, amazing harmonies, and top-drawer instrumentalists. The irony of their blowing the doors open in so many avenues was that the Desert Rose Band was soon overtaken in popularity by the "New Country" of the 1990s, which they helped lay the groundwork for.
This is my tribute to a band that has given me innumerable hours of enjoyment, challenged me, and is also the chief reason that I bonded with Brad Paisley during our University years. Later, during my time as Paisley's guitar tech, he would routinely tell me if we could not have a soundcheck to "Just make my guitar sound like "Hello Trouble.""
Thank you, Chris, Herb, John, Jay Dee, Steve, and the late Bill Bryson for the music that meant so much to me.
Their "Greatest Hits"
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