Celebrating his Killer New Album With the Stooges’ James Williamson, Radio Birdman’s Deniz Tek Talks Influential Guitarists with us

Celebrating his Killer New Album With the Stooges’ James Williamson, Radio Birdman’s Deniz Tek Talks Influential Guitarists with us

deniz tek
Deniz Tek. Photo by Jordi Vidal/Redferns. 

James Williamson from Iggy Pop’s legendary early ‘70s band the Stooges, and Deniz Tek from legendary later ‘70s Australian band Radio Birdman have joined forced to record an incredible new album entitled Two To One.

It’s not every day that a Rock’n’Roll Hall Of Fame member and an ARIA Hall of Fame member join forces – this is a real event!

Of course both these guys are legends going back to the ‘70s. James came into Iggy & The Stooges just before they hooked up with David Bowie in ’72 for the epochal Raw Power album, which he co-wrote with Iggy Pop. Iggy & The Stooges  - and James’ guitar playing - have influenced EVERYBODY – the Ramones and the Sex Pistols and every punk band ever, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, U2 and Red Hot Chilli Peppers... and James of course is in the Rock’n’Roll Hall Of Fame.

Deniz Tek grew up in Ann Arbor Michigan where the Stooges ruled, but he was here at ground zero of punk in Australia in the mid-‘70s, and is an acknowledged influence on countless Aussie bands, from Midnight Oil to the Sunnyboys to the Hoodoo Gurus to Silverchair.  Deniz Tek came to Australia in the early ‘70s to study medicine and he was doing that all helping create the Australian punk and alternative scene with Radio Birdman. He went back home to the US in ‘79, became a Top Gun pilot and surgeon in the Navy, and then had a career as a trauma surgeon, in hospitals here and in the US. He retired just a couple of years ago – his last few jobs were at hospitals in Coffs Harbour and Nowra and he finished up as Special Consultant in Emergency Medicine at Sydney Royal Prince Alfred. Deniz retired to Hawaii and now grows and roasts coffee. A real under achiever in other words! Radio Birdman’s presence on Australian music is such that even though they never had a hit single, they were inducted into the Aria Hall of Fame some years back.

As Simon McKenzie wrote in The Guardian in 2016: “When I was growing up in Australia, too young to have seen Birdman in their 1976-78 prime, the band were almost mythical. It was a code among music freaks: you may have known the Ramones and the Clash and even the Saints, but unless you knew of Birdman you were a no-mark. Their instantly recognisable logo was seen on cars, guitars, school lockers and surfboards in every town on the east coast – surf music was the thing that gave Birdman their identity above and beyond the Detroit sound.”

Through Radio Birdman, Deniz was influential in introducing the Stooges music to Australia, so there is a really nice connection between the two and their music and a particular thread of Australian music.

To mark the release of Two To One, we asked both Deniz and James about some of their formative influences. We’ll hear from James shortly, but for now, here’s Deniz, nominating the five artists that have most influenced him as a guitarist.

Deniz: This is a lot harder than it seems - top 50 would have been easier !! The list is far from complete, but talking here only guitar influences that seriously impacted my own playing.

1. The Ventures - The first song I learned to play on guitar was "Walk Don't Run". 13 years later I borrowed their lick from "Hawaii-50". 55 years later I learned how to play their version of the 'Pink Panther" theme. 

Track: Walk Don't Run”  

2. Chuck Berry - He took T-Bone Walker, Muddy Waters, and Scotty Moore and mixed them up, added some secret sauce and cooked up the essence of rock and roll guitar that ruled for the next several decades. Without Chuck Berry there would be no Keith Richards, no Beatles, no Beach Boys, and no Ramones.

Track: “You Can't Catch Me”  

3. Keith Richards and Charlie Watts - you've got to take them as a pair. Rhythm guitar personified. Rock and roll, with the accent on the roll. Keith and Charlie combine to split nanoseconds and create magic. 

Track: “Tumbling Dice”  

4. James WilliamsonRaw Power was life-saving water in an endless desert. It was the real thing. Each of the three original Stooges albums went further into unknown territory where nothing and no one had ever gone before. Raw Power kept it going, alternating mind bending runs and perhaps the most brutal guitar tone ever recorded, with emotive, crystalline acoustic guitar cool.

Track: “Search And Destroy” 

5. Fred Smith - His most creative period was Sonic's Rendezvous Band. He built the sonic equivalent of bridges, skyscrapers, jet airplanes and rocket ships when he welded Coltrane onto a Chuck Berry (via the MC5) foundation.

Track: “City Slang”  


6. Mason Williams - Throwing this in as a bit of a curve ball. Further proof that there does not have to be any boundaries between genres. You can mix them up. Anything goes, if it carries the power.

Track: “Classical Gas”  


Related Posts