October 10, 2016

Sir Waldo: the music legend with lots of funk + sympathy, hidden in his saxophone

Claudia Gelati

Sir Waldo, born in Kentucky in 1950, is a real music legend. He has played with everyone, from Michael Jackson to Phil Collins and he was the saxophonist of the king of Funk – Mr. James Brown, for fifteen long years. Now Waldo Weathers is a busy musician, because he has lots of upcoming events and projects and the 28th of October he will play in South Tyrol at Steinegg Live Festival 2016 at Vereinshaus/Kulturhaus.
Lucky us: He spends a bit of his precious time to answer our questions, with kindness, lots of empathy and sympathy. We talk about his origins and his musical backgrounds; we talk about James Brown and about another one of his friends who used to call him “little James Brown” – his name sounds like BB King… – does it tell you something?

Sir Waldo, you spend your whole life in the field of music, playing the saxophone and singing. When and how was your first contact with music and what were your musical and cultural background at the time?

First of all, good morning, good morning, good morning, and I am so sorry for the late reply, my staff is on my ass LOLOL. All as good.
So I am in a family of music, from my Father and Mother. So growing up in Louisville, Kentucky and at 12 years of age, I was called to play with a group in a night club, and moved on with up to named act as a Sax man. He started out with rhythm and blues bands and went on to do Country music (1984) and recorded my own Country CD, (on CD Saxual Fulfillment, and then jumped to Smooth Jazz & Funk! “And yes, I do a little Gospel.”

Do you remember what was the first album you bought or the first the song you’ve ever played?

No, LOLOL. But my first 2 solos I learned was ‘Take 5′, and ‘Love makes a woman’, OOOOHH man, that was the Bomb!

Looking at you career as musician, everyone will notice the 15 years you’ve spend playing in the band of the legend of Funk: Mr. James Brown, who passed away just ten years ago, after a life full of successes. How was this experience and how much influenced your life and your sound?

There are a few books out about James Brown and one soon I also want to write my story of him and other artists I have been around! And yes, I learned a lot from Mr. Brown, he was a Master.

Recently, has been released “Get On Up”, a biopic film based on the life of James Brown. Have you seen it? What do you think about this kind of film?

Yes, I was invited by a theater as a guest. The movie was good for a base view, but we know a lot more and something will never be talked about or known to the world from the group or family, but the movie was cool!

You have played not only with James Brown, but also with Phil Collins, Michael Jackson, Little Richard and B.B. King. Let me say: a legend who has alway played among other music legends. In fact, in 1985, you became the first colored saxophonist of the Country Music Hall of Fame. 

Yes, I have been around, for TV tours with Phil Collins that was short lived because he stopped with music. – Really my first deal with MJ was with Motown in 1976 when I performed for Pop Gordy, the father of Motown owner Berry Gordy, at his 76′s birthday at The Gordy ranch in Hollywood CA. – And Richard and I would from time to time have very long talks on the phone, talking about nothing, just laughing; and I was honored to be able to play with B.B. King – LOLOL, it was great. He used to call me little James Brown – LOL. A great, great man he was, RIP. – And the Country Music deal was a nice letter from the Hall of fame, but no one was really for me in country music, I did not know what to do with me! So I’ve done it by myself, LOL. I made a lot of music and love this music so!

Lots of musicians have always had a favourite song; a song they’ve always wanted to write. What is yours and why?

Wow, my favorite songs are a lot, from type to type, David Sanborn to Garry Moore, George Clinton to R Kelly and Joe. Concerning writing I have many, many songs of love and peace that I am working on now.

In October, you will play in South Tyrol at the Steinegg Live Festival 2016; which it is now at its 20th edition, proving to be, year after year, a big event which gives space to different kind of music. Have your ever been to Italy for a concert or on holiday?

OMG, many festivals I have played here and I love this country and I am looking for someone to bring me back more and more. LOL, I had one agent here (I won’t call his name but he booked me on six shows and it was not so good because it was a week night and we got on stage very late, I think around midnight and people started to leave even before the music started from us and all the other shows were so great and people were going nuts, and this agent said he wanted to book us more in the winter or make me bigger, but he never did. One day after a year or two I saw him and asked about it, LOLOL. He said to my face – “Sir Waldo you are to super funky” – and I said – “Hey, I am a funk band and you know this, so why did you book me???” – Still an unanswered question until today – after selling over 500 CD’s at the six shows and 3 to 4 encores at every show?!

Tricky question: better music or food here in Italy?


You have toured all the world, there’s no country you haven’t seen, as we can reed from your web site. How do you feel about it and what can you tell us about the tour-life?

If you want to know about tour life you will have to wait for my book, LOL.

You have two project assets – Sir Waldo’s Funk Circus – and Sir Waldo’s Classical Soul Orchestra. What can you tell us about this two projects and what are your upcoming projects?

Well, it’s really three – the new one is: The Soul of James Brown. – Funk Circus was my first project here in Germany and it was the bomb, just great – which was the group I talked about earlier that was too FUNKY.
The other group (Classical Soul Orchestra) I really think the older ladies in Italy would never be the same because it’s a show of smooth love and making one feel sexy inside. I may book it here and rent a hall myself. And all you have to do is to buy the tickets that will be with a free CD and bring a towel and make sure your man is really for you after the show, LOLOL.
But the new project is The Soul of James Brown! WOOOOW. You can put up a new CD at the show!

A greeting to the readers of franzmagazine, thanks a million.

Thank you all for this great moment!


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