Last weekend, the city of Cincinnati honored rocker Jack White at the site of crucial locally-based record label King Records, bestowing him with the key to the city before his headlining appearance at the Bunbury Music Festival. Last night, Les Claypool of AltRock giants Primus received a similar honor, as the city proclaimed June 12 “Les Claypool Day.”
Claypool also visited the former King facilities in Evanston with fellow bass guitar hero and Cincinnati favorite son Bootsy Collins.
The honor was timed to Claypool’s appearance at Riverbend's PNC Pavilion with Primus. At the show, official Cincinnati Music Ambassadors read the proclamation from the stage during Primus’ set and presented Claypool with the proclamation.
Parts of the proclamation included shout-outs to Cincinnati’s musical history and efforts to revive the King legacy: “And whereas the City of Cincinnati encourages Mr. Claypool to further engage with Cincinnati artists like Bootsy Collins to help us celebrate our rich musical heritage and King Records, and to make to make new music at sacred music locations.”
Music Ambassador Elliott Ruther further read from a section of the proclamation that referenced Claypool’s collaborations with artists with Cincinnati ties: “And whereas Les Claypool has created dynamic works with artists from our region, such as Adrian Belew and Noah Hunt and even at least talked about jamming on the Isley Brothers with Metallica. And (he) served as a guest lecturer and professor with Bootsy Collins’ (online music school) Funk University.” (Claypool once said that when he auditioned for Metallica, he jokingly asked if they wanted to play some Isley Brothers tunes, since he wasn’t really experienced in Metal; he didn’t get the job because, according to James Hetfield, “he was too good.”)
Claypool seemed honored and generally shocked by the whole presentation.
“So that was an extremely big surprise,” Claypool said after the proclamation. “I was told they were going to come out and give me a couple of donuts.
“This is truly amazing and you do have an amazing city here, and there’s been some incredible talent to come out of this zone. And I was over at the King Records facility today and you should — amazing history there. If you ever run into Bootsy you should talk to him about it because there’s some great stories. Get that building fixed up and turn it into something that raises the roof.”
Getting back to the business at hand, the bassist said, “And on that note, let's do a song about a beaver,” before the group launched into the stone-cold Primus classic “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver.”
With White on guitar and Claypool on bass, the all-star band of musicians officially honored by the city of Cincinnati lately is shaping up nicely. Mayor John Cranley previously gave keys to the city to King Records legends Otis Williams and Philip Paul, so the vocal and drumming positions are also filled.
Updated to include the Claypool/Bootsy photo and video from the presentation that Primus posted online, plus clarification that Cincinnati Music Ambassadors presented the proclamation at the concert. Hat tip to Elliott Ruther for the additional info.