Early alias for Robert Zimmerman / Bob Dylan. Subject: Elston Gunnn one more time From: email@example.com Date: Wed, 11 Aug 1999 15:20:59 GMT An oft-told tale told once more by Bobby Vee, interviewed in the latest issue of Goldmine, on how the mere lack of a piano cost Dylan the life- long security of a job with Vee's backing band, the Shadows. The Shadows briefly expanded to a quintet when the band added a confident young pianist whose long-term future was even rosier than Vee's. "He was in the Fargo/Moorhead area. He was working as a busboy at a place called the Red Apple Cafe. We didn't know that at the time. Bill [Velline] was in a record shop in Fargo, Sam's Record Land, and this guy came up to him and introduced himself as Elston Gunnn--with three n's, G-U-N-N-N. "He said he heard we were looking for a piano player, which we were, and he said that he had just gotten off the road with Conway Twitty. Bill was blown away. 'Man, how good can this be? This was as good as it gets!' And went over to the radio station with him, over to KGFO, and there was this piano in the studio and auditioned him on the piano. He came back and he said, 'He played pretty good in the key of C.' We didn't realize it at the time, but that's all he could play in, was the key of C. I-IV-V in the key of C. "So we hired him to come out. And he was a neat guy. He was friendly. I remember his dark, curly hair. We bought him a shirt to match ours and paid him 15 bucks a night, which was about what we were making. Went to pick him up for the show, and he didn't have a piano. There weren't a lot of piano players in our area anyway--there were mostly guitar players--but they had the little Wurlitzer pianos, and we just assumed he had a piano. He didn't, of course. We took him to the gig anyway, and there was a piano there. It was terribly out of tune. He sat and he played that, and when he got lost he would come up and do background parts and do Gene Vincent handclaps. It was a trip! "It was ill-fated. I mean, it wasn't gonna work. He didn't have any money, and we didn't have any money. The story is that I fired him, but that certainly wasn't the case. If we could have put it together somehow, we sure would have. We wished we could have put it together. He left and went on to Minneapolis and enrolled at the University of Minnesota. A couple of years later I was in New York in Greenwich Village. I was walking down the street. There was a record store there, and there was an album in the front window. And it said, 'Bob Dylan.' And I thought to myself, 'Looks a lot like Elston Gunnn!' "I probably plugged into him on the second or third album, and the stuff was really unusual. It was so far removed from what I was doing. Not long after that, I started listening to his stuff and really became a big fan."