Houstonia Magazine/Chris Becker/April 24, 2017 – From Opening for the Sex Pistols to Meeting Patti Smith, Iconic Rocker Alejandro Escovedo Is Just Getting Started. “A lof lot of guys my age, they’ve had it with the road,” says 66-year-old punk-turned-roots rocker Alejandro Escovedo. “They don’t want to play the feedback-induced kind of noise I like to make.”
Typically dressed to kill onstage in a tailored jacket and dress shirt, Escovedo exudes both real-deal cool and hard-won joy when he performs. Since he survived a near-death experience with Hepatitis C, which left him temporarily unable to play his guitar for more than a year after being diagnosed in 2003, Escovedo has no illusions regarding the transience of life and the inevitability of death. In his new song “Johnny Volume” on Burn, he snarls defiantly about the potential for resurrection.
“‘Johnny Volume’ is about [New York Dolls guitarist] Johnny Thunders,” says Escovedo, one of the few punk-era Godfathers still standing in 2017. Thunders, who struggled with heroin abuse for years, died in New Orleans under mysterious, unsolved circumstances in 1991. “It’s about Johnny getting it together and doing it again. He’s feeling better, and he wants to make amends.”
For Escovedo, whose first band The Nuns opened for the Sex Pistols at their final gig in 1977 and covered Iggy Pop’s “I Wanna Be Your Dog” backed by a string quartet, the rise of punk rock was nothing less than life changing.
“Patti Smith, the Ramones, the New York Dolls: Those bands were really pivotal for me,” says Escovedo. “The first time I saw Patti Smith was at Whiskey a Go Go in Hollywood, with just [guitarist and writer] Lenny Kaye and Richard Sohl on piano, and Patti singing and reciting poetry. The only people in the audience were The Stooges and my group of friends. Lenny was so supportive…to meet him, and have him encouraging us to form bands and do it on our own was very, very inspirational.”