Popa Chubby – If The Diesel Don’t Get You Then The Jet Fuel Will
Ted Horowitz, the Bronx, New York City, New York, USA. Popa Chubby and his band came to light in the mid-90s after serving a long apprenticeship at New York’s famed blues club, Manny’s Carwash. The ebullient, cantankerous Chubby grew up in a home filled with music – Illinois Jacquet allegedly played at his parents’ wedding. His father, who worked at a small candy store in the Bronx, took his son to see Chuck Berry when he was six years old and as a result Chubby took up the guitar. Later, as rock ‘n’ roll developed into more polished forms, his principle influences became Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton. In fact, his public statement that ‘Jeff Beck made as big a contribution to the blues as Muddy Waters and Elmore James did’, has offended many blues aficionados who see Chubby as an impostor and embarrassment. Previously he had also worked with the CBS Records punk band Chaos, before spending a brief period with Richard Hell And The Voidoids. In the late 80s he spent much of his time busking, re-learning the blues on New York subways. His performances at Manny’s Carwash provided ample opportunity for Chubby to play with every visiting blues artist of note, and while journalists continued to criticize him for being ‘white’ he claims the only resistance he has ever encountered has been inverse racism. Indeed, he has toured with black blues artists of the stature of Earl King, Albert King and James Cotton. His 1995 debut for OKeh Records, Booty & The Beast, confused many blues commentators. While his physical demeanour and name led to many presuming he was a rap artist, the contents were far from the mainstream blues tradition, encompassing a strong element of hard rock derived from his affection for the Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath recordings of the mid-70s.
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