- 21 May 19
The co-writer of The Sopranos' theme, 'Woke Up This Morning', he was a larger than life character who accompanied Hot Press on some great adventures...
Hot Press is deeply saddened to learn that the co-founder of the Alabama 3, Jake Black, AKA the Reverend D. Wayne Love, has passed away following a festival performance at the weekend.
Best-known for co-authoring the song that became the Sopranos' theme music, 'Woke Up This Morning', Jake was a good friend to Hot Press, taking us on weird and wonderful adventures in his hometown, Glasgow and his adopted hometown, Brixton. There were also quite a few lost nights in Ireland following riotous Bammies' gigs in Whelan's, the Olympia, Dolan's, the Roisin Dubh and many more.
He was a funny, sweet man with a keen intellect and proud passion for the causes the Alabama 3 espoused. Announcing the news this, the band said: "Early this afternoon, on a beautiful summer's day, our friend, comrade and spiritual teacher, Jake Black AKA The Very Reverend D.Wayne Love, passed over to the higher ground. After a magnificent performance at the Highpoint Festival in Lancashire, D.Wayne in his supreme wisdom, decided it was the appropriate moment for his ascencion into the next level. The transition was painless and peaceful. He was surrounded by brothers Larry Love, L.B. Dope, The Spirit, Jonny Jamm and Sister Therese Mullan. We are heartbroken.
"All that remains for us, at this moment, is to carry out his precise instructions regarding the continuation of his teachings as a First Minister of The Presleyterian Church of Elvis The Divine, and continue The Great Work. His last words, which we have yet to decipher, were 'Tweet Tweet, Possil Fleet.'"
A brilliant interviewee, Jake was in especially sparkling form in 2001 when he spoke to our man Stuart Clark...
“The fucking floor manager came in, saw us sitting there with a Jimmy Cliff and said, ‘Right, you lot, out!’”
An irreverent funnyman he may be, but Jay Leno doesn’t approve of Limeys smoking big fat spliffs on the set of his syndicated chat show. Thankfully, having hired a 26-piece choir to accompany them, the Leno people relented and allowed Alabama 3 to strut their acid country house stuff in front of 25 million Americans.
“Kevin Spacey was on there as well, so I said to this girl, ‘I’ve got to go and talk to him about our mutual friend Peter O’Toole,’” continues the Reverend D. Wayne Love (not his real name) in that Rab C. Nesbit voice of his. “’Peter O’Toole?’ ‘Aye, I sell him gear’, which is a lie of course, but she was dead impressed! Later on, Jay popped his head round the door and it turned out that I used to live on the street down from his Auntie’s chip shop in Glasgow!
“We were too stoned at the time to appreciate what was going on, but a couple of days later it was, ‘Fucking hell, we’ve just played to one of the biggest TV audiences in the world!’ Most of them would’ve recognised ‘Woke Up This Morning’ as the Sopranos theme, without having any idea of who the Alabama 3 are.”
It’s the same story on this side of the Atlantic where, despite their Mafioso connections, they remain one of Brixton’s best-kept secrets. And most brassic.
“Our manager at the time did a buy-out deal on the Sopranos theme, so we’ve made fuck all money from it,” the Rev rues. “It’s a genuine phenomenon in the States. My mate phoned me from Yankee Stadium and said, ‘here, listen to this…’ Next thing I know, there are 80,000 people fucking singing it! Then, on his new album, you’ve got Jay-Z rapping over the track.”
“Another weird one,” butts in lead singer and son of a Welsh preacherman Larry Love (not his real name either), “was the EMMY Awards. When the Sopranos came on, they had a 64-piece orchestra playing a glizty, schmaltzy, Hollywood version of ‘Woke Up This Morning’.”
The Bammies weren’t always as skint as they are now, with Geffen coughing up a cool $1 million to bag the rights to their Exile On Coldharbour Lane album.
“Five years on we owe ‘em, I think it is, $892,000. The debt’s never come down.”
Geffen’s attempts to get Alabama 3 airplay were thwarted somewhat by their love of the word “fuck”, and inability to go for more than four minutes without mentioning smack, E, speed, dope or coke.
“Yeah, they weren’t too keen on the drugs references,” Larry continues. “I had to do what they call a ‘Wal-Mart mix’, which was me spending two days in an editing suite bleeping out the swear words and other salacious perversions.”
“Even stranger than that,” D. Wayne divulges, “was the litigation worry about the Jim Jones sample on ‘Mao Tse Tung Said’. There’s a wee girl on there talking to Jim Jones, and they were worried that her family might sue for emotional distress.
“Our A&R guy’s previous signing to us was Beck, so him saying ‘I want ‘em!’ carried a lot of weight. When we got to the States, though, they didn’t know what to do with us. Should it go in ‘pop’ or ‘rock’ or ‘dance’? We didn’t see the problem, but they did.”
Their woes didn’t end there, with country supergroup Alabama telling them to change their name or face a ludicrously expensive day in court.
“They’ve copyrighted the word ‘Alabama’, which means we have to call ourselves A3 in the States,” Larry resumes, Leno-upsetting Jimmy Cliff in hand. “Actually, one of the best gigs we ever played was in Birmingham, Alabama. There was a Pope arriving in Ireland vibe, which together with half an ounce of chronic skunk, made for a very interesting night!”
While still derided as a “novelty act” by trendier sections of the media, Alabama 3’s grassroots following was sufficient to ensure full tents at the T In The Park and Witnness festivals. Combine that with a cracking new-ish album, La Peste, and their days of poverty could be drawing to a close.
“This year’s been brilliant,” D. Wayne beams. “We’ve done collaborations with Orbital and 808 State – two bands we really admire –and landed a Human Traffic-style film, SW9, which is set in Brixton. We’re doing the theme, and maybe a bit of acting, so, yeah, things are looking up!”