Rock Your Sox Off
02. If You Only Knew Me 4:13
03. Sweet Mother's Fun 3:12
04. The Second Time Around 4:59
05. Brand New Song 4:16
06. Bottom Of The Bottle 3:57
07. (It's Been A) Long Long Time 5:37
08. Make It Through The Night 4:59
Bobby Whitlock: organ, piano, rhythm guitar, electric guitar, 12 string acoustic guitar, vocals, writer, arranger
Kenny Tibbetts: bass, arranger
Jerome Thomas: drums, congas
Paul Hornsby: tambourine
Larry Howard: acoustic guitar
Dru Lombar: electric guitar, acoustic guitar, rhythm guitar, guitar, lead guitar, writer, arranger
Jimmy Nalls: lead guitar, electric guitar, rhythm guitar, Dobro
Les Dudek: electric guitar
Rick Hirsch: slide guitar, arranger
Jimmy Hall: alto saxophone
Skip Lane: baritone saxophone
Leo LaBranche: trumpet
Chuck Leavell: piano
Robert Stanley “Bobby” Whitlock (born March 18, 1948 in Memphis, Tennessee) is an American singer, songwriter and musician. He is best known for being a member of blues-rock band Derek and the Dominos with Eric Clapton in 1970–71. Whitlock’s musical career began with Memphis soul acts such as Sam & Dave and Booker T. & the MG’s before he joined Delaney & Bonnie and Friends in 1968. His association with Delaney & Bonnie bandmate Clapton led to Whitlock participating in sessions for George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass triple album (1970), in London, and the formation of Derek and the Dominos that year. On the band’s sole studio album, the critically acclaimed Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (1970), Whitlock wrote or co-wrote six of the album’s fourteen tracks, including “Tell the Truth”, “Anyday” and “Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad?”
Whitlock recorded four solo albums during the 1970s, among them Bobby Whitlock and Raw Velvet (both 1972), and contributed to albums by Clapton, John Lennon, Dr John and the Rolling Stones. He then retired from music until releasing It’s About Time in 1999. Following his return, Whitlock has recorded and performed with wife CoCo Carmel and, since 2006, with other musicians based in Austin, Texas. Among his and Carmel’s projects, the well-received Other Assorted Love Songs, Live from Whitney Chapel (2003) contains acoustic interpretations of songs originally recorded by Derek and the Dominos.
In an article for Mojo magazine in May 2011, music journalist Phil Sutcliffe described Bobby Whitlock as “born in Memphis, learned Hammond organ peering over Booker T’s shoulder at Stax studios”. While still a teenager, Whitlock befriended acts associated with Stax Records, including Albert King, Sam & Dave, the Staples Singers and Booker T. & the MG’s, and was the first white artist signed to the label. His first contribution to a recording was in 1967, when he supplied handclaps on Sam & Dave’s single “I Thank You”.
Between 1965 and 1968, Whitlock performed regularly in the Memphis area, playing organ with local soul band the Short Cuts before forming the Counts. In his 2010 autobiography, Whitlock writes of this period in Memphis: “It was a great time and town for music then, especially soul music. It was real rhythm and blues. Albert King R&B, that’s what I’m talking about. It was loose and all about music everywhere that you turned.” With established Stax musicians such as Steve Cropper as his mentor, and Donald “Duck” Dunn and Don Nix preparing to produce a pop album by him on a Stax subsidiary label, Whitlock instead left Memphis after meeting husband-and-wife team Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett. Whitlock recalls that he was performing at a club with the Counts when the Bramletts invited him to join a soul-revue band they were forming in Los Angeles.
Whitlock contributed on keyboards and vocals to two Delaney & Bonnie albums in 1969, Home and Accept No Substitute. Their touring band, known as Delaney & Bonnie and Friends, included musicians he would continue to work with on projects through to the early 1970s: bassist Carl Radle; drummers Jim Keltner and Jim Gordon; and a horn section comprising Bobby Keys and Jim Price. Another member was Eric Clapton, who joined the Friends line-up as lead guitarist midway through a US tour in July–August 1969. On this tour, Delaney & Bonnie were supporting Clapton’s short-lived supergroup with Steve Winwood, Blind Faith. Clapton later described Whitlock as “without doubt the most energetic sideman I had ever seen”. Along with all the other members of Delaney & Bonnie, Whitlock flew to England in November 1969 to prepare for a much-publicized European tour, financed by Clapton.
In his autobiography, Whitlock states that their arrival in London changed the dynamics within the band, as the Bramletts now considered themselves “big stars” and the ones solely responsible for the new-found success. Once in London, Whitlock participated in a session for US soul singer Doris Troy’s solo album on the Beatles’ Apple record label. The album, Doris Troy (1970), was co-produced by George Harrison, who, having championed Delaney & Bonnie in the British press, accepted Clapton’s invitation to join the tour. Through Harrison, Whitlock and the band then played at John Lennon’s “Peace for Christmas” concert, held at the Lyceum Ballroom in London on December 15, 1969.
In early 1970, Delaney & Bonnie and Friends backed Clapton on his debut solo album, Eric Clapton, and toured America with the English guitarist. Arguments over money with the Bramletts then led to the other Friends quitting the band and joining Leon Russell on Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour. Whitlock continued to work with Delaney & Bonnie until April, following sessions for their To Bonnie from Delaney album (1970). On Cropper’s advice, he then returned to England to stay with Clapton at his Surrey home, Hurtwood Edge.
Seeking to start a new band, Whitlock and Clapton reunited with Radle and Gordon at a session for P.P. Arnold, before going on to back Harrison on his 1970 triple album All Things Must Pass. Whitlock has described the latter sessions as “spectacular in every way”. Although individual contributions remain hard to ascertain, due to the large cast of musicians on the Phil Spector-produced recording, Harrison biographer Simon Leng identifies Whitlock as one of two “core keyboard players” on All Things Must Pass. Having traditionally favored Hammond organ as his keyboard instrument, Whitlock played piano for the first time on a studio recording during the session for Harrison’s “Beware of Darkness”.
In June 1970, early in the All Things Must Pass sessions, Clapton, Whitlock, Radle and Gordon formed the blues-rock band Derek and the Dominos. Their first release was a US-only single, “Tell the Truth”, produced by Spector and written primarily by Whitlock. In August, once their work on Harrison’s album was complete, Derek and the Dominos toured the UK, playing to small venues. That summer, Whitlock and his bandmates also participated in London sessions for Dr John’s album The Sun, Moon & Herbs (1971).
Unhappy with Spector’s treatment of their sound, the band went to Criteria Studios in Miami to work with producer Tom Dowd, on what became a double album – Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (1970). As well as a remake of “Tell the Truth”, the album included five other songs written or co-written by Whitlock, including “Anyday”, “Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad?”, “Keep on Growing” and “Thorn Tree in the Garden”. In addition, Whitlock helped Clapton finish “Bell Bottom Blues”, although he was not credited as a co-writer on that song. “Keep on Growing” and “Thorn Tree in the Garden” featured Whitlock on lead vocals, while on other tracks he and Clapton shared the singing in a style reminiscent of Sam & Dave.
After the recording [of Layla], we were on the road, and we scored an enormous amount of drugs to take with us. That was the beginning of the end… [Still], on our worst night we were the best band on the planet. It was impossible for us to play badly.
Adding to the power of the Dominos’ music, Clapton’s inspiration for the songs on Layla was his unrequited love for Pattie Boyd, Harrison’s wife. Whitlock began a relationship with Boyd’s sister Paula at this time, and was therefore, as he has described it, “in the inner circle … in the middle of it with all of them”. He comments on a musical dialogue between Harrison and Clapton in their songs: “There were subliminal messages, going back and forth, between two good friends as a way of healing and setting each other free … I have always known that the better part of those songs [on All Things Must Pass] were directed to Eric, just like Eric’s were to George on the Layla record.”
Between October and December 1970, Derek and the Dominos toured the United States in support of Layla, but the album made little commercial impact on release, failing to chart in the UK. Clapton’s despondency at being rejected by Boyd, the band’s drug consumption, and personal conflicts between the members, particularly with Gordon, all contributed to the break-up of the Dominos in May 1971.
Whitlock recorded his debut solo album, Bobby Whitlock (1972), at London’s Olympic Studios in 1971, with Andy Johns as his co-producer. The recording took place before the abortive sessions for the Dominos’ second studio album; a press release for the 2013 reissue of Bobby Whitlock gives the recording date as starting in March 1971, while Dominos biographer Jan Reid writes of sessions happening in January that year. Whitlock played acoustic or electric rhythm guitar on much of the album, which also included musical contributions from all the Dominos (often recorded separately), the Bramletts, Harrison, Keys, Price and Keltner. Among its tracks, “Where There’s a Will” was a Whitlock–Bonnie Bramlett collaboration that had featured in Delaney & Bonnie’s live shows in 1969–70, and “A Day Without Jesus” was co-written by Whitlock and Don Nix. The record peaked at number 140 on the US Billboard 200 chart, the same magazine praising it as “a persuasively powerful first album”.
Whitlock’s second solo album, also on ABC-Dunhill Records, was Raw Velvet, released in November 1972. It included appearances by Clapton and Gordon, on “Hello L.A., Bye Bye Birmingham”, although the majority of the album, including another remake of “Tell the Truth”, featured new associates such as guitarist Rick Vito and ex-Van der Graaf Generator bassist Keith Ellis. The album was co-produced by Jimmy Miller, whose connection with the Rolling Stones led to Whitlock making an uncredited contribution to the band’s Exile on Main St. double album (1972). By this point, Layla’s title track had become a hit song, following its release as a single to promote the History of Eric Clapton compilation (1972), leading to a critical reappraisal of Derek and the Dominos and belated commercial success. A 1970-recorded live album, In Concert, was similarly well-received when issued in January 1973. Raw Velvet peaked at number 190 on the Billboard 200, however, and it was Whitlock’s last album to place on the chart. Whitlock tried in vain to get Clapton to come out and play; realizing it was not going to happen, after two years of waiting, he went back to the United States.
"You know I’m indirectly responsible for disco? [Clapton’s manager] Robert Stigwood took the Dominos’ money, used it to create RSO Records and record the Bee Gees. My deepest apologies to the entire music world."
Bobby Whitlock, December 2006
Featuring many of the same musicians as his previous, One Of A Kind, Rock Your Sox Off mines similar sonic landscapes. The album is the expected mix of bluesy rockers and gritty soul, elevated above the ordinary by Whitlock's heartfelt vocals. Sweet Mother's Fun adds a little diversity, with mexican trumpets giving it a cantina blues sound. Also of note is a song he previously did with Eric Clapton's Derek and the Dominoes, Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad, here slower and more groove-oriented. In addition, the album features the top-notch production of Paul Hornsby and the gutsy guitar of relative unknown Jimmy Nalls.