HAPPY BIRTHDAY, YOU SUPER TALENTED, MUTHA!
Bill Champlin is a musician hardcore 60s/70s SF Bay Area rock lovers hold near and dear. While not nearly as well known as fellow travelers from the Summer of Love, the Sons of Champlin were largely regarded by their peers like the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and Moby Grape as the tightest, most soulful young band to emerge during that great creative explosion. Mingling R&B with psychedelic strains and snippets of the Tibetan Book of the Dead and other lofty philosophical tomes, Champlin and his hard driving bunch stood out against the looseness and sloppiness that often marked their peers explorations. After a good long run, the band has had a number of hiatuses but remains alive and gifted as ever. Champlin also spent 28 years playing keys and singing lead vocals in Chicago, but has gone back to focusing on his quality solo work and the Sons in recent years. He currently resides in Nashville and is still a powerhouse vocalist, guitarist and keyboard player, plus one of the funniest, most enlightened, pleasantly salty dudes you’ll ever meet. Bill turns 64 today and we wanted to tip our hat to a JamBase fave. So glad you’re roaming around this great big world, man. (Dennis Cook)
For more on Champlin, check out the JamBase interview with Bill from 2005 here and another short piece on him here.
We begin with some vintage Sons.
Listen to the rugged, utterly confident force of Champlin’s voice here, clearly one of the best honkies to ever give Wilson Pickett, The Temptations and other certified soul brothers a run for their money.
While part of Chicago, Champlin plied his knack for radio-ready love songs with serious skill.
Given what’s on the airwaves and video channels today, it seems quaint that “Get High” was banned from radio when it was first released as a single in 1969. Such a positive blast…
Bill’s reach goes well beyond work that bears his name above the title with many bands tapping his songwriting skills over the years, including this famous co-write with Earth Wind And Fire, offered in two versions.
Super catchy little gems like this seem to flow like water from Champlin. Clip from 1983 movie Copper Mountain, which featured a young Jim Carrey.
This video nicely encapsulates Champlin – musical badass and inveterate smart ass.
One of the things that really stands out about Champlin is his sincerity and readiness to embrace beauty and tenderness in song. This is a prime example of these gifts.
The man can handle classic soul with the best of them.
We wrap with Bill next to his best girl knocking out yet another memorable bit of pop-rock, just doing what he does better than most ever will.