Jamming with Hiram Bullock

Photo by Patrick Marek

If you don’t know who Hiram Bullock is that’s OK. He’s not a name a lot of people will know outside of the musician world.

The easy way to tell you who he was is to say that he was the barefoot guitarist on David Letterman’s Late Show in the early 80’s. The band was know as the “World’s Most Dangerous Band” led by Paul Schafer.

In college I listed to Hiram a lot and I can easily say that a good chunk of the way I learned to play came from Hiram. He was obscure compared to the more mainstream guitarists out there but his style was super unique. He played your typical blues and pentatonic scales in a way almost nobody else did (I think he often played the Minor Add 6th Pentatonic).

In the 1990’s I was part of a band called Worldwide Groove. We were an original band that played mostly original music in the Atlanta area from 1994 to 1997. The band had a heavy jazz, latin feel to it and we played regularly during the summer of the Atlanta olympics — I think we did 40–50 gigs that summer, including the closing ceremonies in the Athlete’s Village after the games were over.

Somehow we got noticed by the local jazz station who told us that Hiram Bullock was going to play a gig in Atlanta at the Fox theater and he needed a backing band who could learn his music for the one night show. We got selected.

We we’re pretty nervous. This was a stellar musician we had to back and while we were a good band, we really had to step up to handle this music.

We practiced the songs and we’re getting ready for our one night practice with Hiram the day before the show. We needed Hiram to understand the minute he walked into the studio space where we we’re going to rehearse the show that we were able to pull it off so as he entered the studio where we were already jamming we launched into Chick Corea’s “Spain” at full throttle.

Hiram quickly set up and joined in immediately blowing us out of the water with his super loud twin Fender apps that were crazy loud.

We knew we were playing at a new level when Hiram ask our keyboard play Sam to give him a “Gm flat 9 no G” — OK then.

We got through the practice, did the show the next night, and we’re all left with a good memory.

Unfortunately Hiram died in 2008 and it was a big blow to the NYC studio scene not to mention anybody who loved his music and style of playing — super funky with the right touch of jazz and rock.

This is Hiram in action with Bootsy Collins crushing it on Stretchin’ Out. Hiram kicks in at 3:30 with a slick solo.

Hiram and Bootsy Collins killing it.

Here is a shot from that night live with Hiram at the Fox Theater in Atlanta in 1997 (with Percussionist Jerald Sherman, Singer Sonya Mendez also in the photo.

Live at the Fox Theater in Atlanta 1997
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