What do Record Mogul Ahmet Ertugan, Blues Legend Gregg Allman. and Grammy award winning producer Jim Gaines have in common? They all played a significant role in the music that is truly Danny Liston.
Growing up in the St. Louis Irish working class neighborhood known as Dogtown, Liston came from a musical family. His mom Lucille sang on KMOX radio in the 1930's, and his grandmother, who was from Reinze Mississippi, was a self-taught 5 string banjo player. As far back as he can remember, music was the landscape of his childhood.
His older brother Mike had Ray Charles, and Little Richard singles that Liston sang along with so much that he knew the A sides as well as all the B sides. At a very early age he found that R&B stirred something in his deepest soul.
As a teen he started out as a drummer playing in soul bands around St. Louis, but eventually he took up guitar, due to the threat of he, his mother and brother being evicted from their apartment .
Liston, his brother Pat, and lifelong friend Max Baker formed a band called Mama's Pride. The band was personally signed by Atlantic Records President, Ahmet Ertugan. They recorded their first album with Arif Mardin as producer at Criteria Studios in Miami. Their sophomore release Uptown and Lowdown, produced by Jim Mason of Firefall fame, wasn't the commercial success that the label had hoped for, but they held out hope for one more try.
A last-minute show opening up for Lynyrd Skynyrd brought new life to all involved when Ronnie Van Zant expressed his desire to produce the bands third record for Atlantic. They were to record with Van Zant, and then pick up the second leg of the Street Survivors tour, but the unfortunate tragedy of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s plane crash changed the course of the band's future.
They were immediately released from the label, but eighteen months later they went into a club that was a home away from home in Daytona Beach, and the sign read Gregg Allman tonight. After the gig, Liston's brother approached Allman because he was told Allman needed a band to go on tour. The band rehearsed with Allman the next day and went on tour. They would open the show as Mama’s Pride then come back as the Gregg Allman band. One night a critic said that Mama's Pride blew the Gregg Allman band off stage. They weren’t sure how to feel about that, LOL….
Liston stepped away from music for some years, going into the restaurant business and starting a family, which led to eventually finding the need to shed the addiction laced lifestyle of Rock & Roll that had permeated every area of his life. He credits his wife and his faith for his sobriety.
Liston's first recording effort after sobriety was with his old band Mama's Pride, and they were introduced to grammy award winning producer Jim Gaines. His credits were vast, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Santana, Steve Miller, and many more. Liston credits Jim Gaines for reigniting his passion for music. He has since recorded three records with Gaines at the helm.
The new record EVERYBODY which Liston says jokingly, or not, is Gaines best record he has EVER produced. For this project Jim brought in his A list Memphis players. Steve Potts drums, Davy Dave Smith bass, Wil McFarlane guitar and Rick Steff B3. Jim had always told Liston that he needed to do a blue-eyed soul record, and this is the record Jim was so adamant about.
Gaines enlisted songwriters Sandy Carroll, and Muscle Shoals own Mark Narmore, as well as Buddy Leach, (George Thorogood) the horns from the Nut House in Muscle Shoals, and Bekka Bramlett brought some incredible vocals on the title track.
As Liston says " When you're passionate about something, there is no timeline or expiration date. You either love it and give it your all, or you don't, and if you don't love it, become a booking agent."