Chuck E. Weiss

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Chuck E. Weiss is an American songwriter and vocalist. A fixture on the Los Angeles scene, Weiss is known for an eclectic mix of blues, beat poetry, and rock and roll. His music includes strains of every rhythmic style from nursery rhymes to zydeco.

Early life[edit]

Chuck E. Weiss grew up in Denver, Colorado, United States, where his parents owned a record store (The Record Center, 434 16th Street). Through his parents, and by spending time at the local blues bar Ebbetts Field, he met Lightnin' Hopkins. Hopkins was impressed with his drum playing and took him on tour, where Weiss had the opportunity to play with Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Roger Miller, Dr. John, and others.[1] Weiss was a disc jockey on alternative rock station KFML-FM-Denver in the early 1970s.[2][3]


Weiss's first album, The Other Side of Town, was released in 1981.[4] Weiss was featured on the 1990 album L.A. Ya Ya, a compilation of performances by Los Angeles-based blues artists.[5] In 1995, Weiss played on P's self-titled album. The band featured Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers and actor Johnny Depp.[6] Weiss released his first full-length album, Extremely Cool, in 1999, featuring extensive collaboration with Tony Gilkyson and Tom Waits, who co-produced the album for his longtime acquaintance. (They met in the early 70s at a nightclub in Denver called Ebbetts Field, where Weiss played in the house band.)[7] Tom Waits appears on at least two tracks. The style is heavily reminiscent of Waits, both in composition and vocal approach. Either could have influenced the other. The opening track Devil With Blue Suede Shoes was produced by Johnny Depp and features Toby Dammit on drums. It was used in Depp's film The Brave.[8] Willie Dixon is quoted on the original packaging of Extremely Cool as saying, "Ain't ya got ears son? That little Jew boy with the big old head be one of the best musicians in this town, this country even."

Weiss was the subject of Rickie Lee Jones's hit song "Chuck E.'s In Love", from her 1979 debut album. At the time Jones was linked romantically to Tom Waits. All three lived in the Tropicana Hotel in Los Angeles, in the middle of a fertile musical scene including Levi and the Rockats, Stray Cats, Black Flag, Frank Zappa and others.[9] Weiss is referred to in the song title "Jitterbug Boy (Sharing a Curbstone with Chuck E. Weiss, Robert Marchese, Paul Body and The Mug and Artie)" and other lyrics from the Tom Waits album Small Change, as well as passing references on Nighthawks at the Diner.[10]

His next album after Extremely Cool, Old Souls and Wolf Tickets, was released in 2001. It was also produced by Gilkyson and is perhaps less reminiscent of Tom Waits and more redolent of Delta blues acts decades older. "Down the Road a Piece," from Old Souls & Wolf Tickets, is a 1970 recording of the Weiss and Willie Dixon playing together.[11][12] In 2006, Weiss released the album 23rd & Stout, an album more reminiscent of Waits's 1980s output, featuring an exploration of many blues and rumba styles, as well as a tribute to Sterling Holloway, entitled "Sho' Is Cold".[13] Also featured is long time friend and collaborator Diablo Dimes. In 2013, Weiss wrote and recorded "Anthem for Old Souls" for the Sea shanty-compilation Son of Rogues Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs & Chanteys (2013).[14][15] In 2014, Weiss released Red Beans and Weiss, on the Anti- label.[16]

Weiss has been associated with Los Angeles and Southern California for years, saying he does not like to travel by airplane. Weiss played 11 years of Mondays at a club called The Central before it fell on hard times. Weiss and his friend Johnny Depp (who was executive producer on the first track on Extremely Cool) were instrumental in resuscitating it as the Viper Room, which later became notorious when River Phoenix died there in 1993.[17] Extremely Cool makes reference to Canter's Kibitz Room, a small nightclub in a larger diner in Los Angeles's Fairfax District, where Weiss has also played habitually. His regular band is called The Goddamn Liars.[18]


In the May 14, 2002 episode of Gilmore Girls entitled "Lorelai's Graduation Day", Weiss appeared as the proprietor of a record store in New York City in which Rory and Jess browse.[19] He made brief cameos on two 1990 Married... with Children episodes as a homeless man and one on an episode of Brotherly Love as Leo the garbage man. He also made an appearance on My Wife and Kids.[20][21]


  1. ^ "Chuck E. Weiss | Biography & History | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-10-21.
  2. ^ Campbell, Duncan (2002-01-10). "Duncan Campbell on Chuck E Weiss". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-10-21.
  3. ^ "Chuck E. Weiss: Mensch, Monkey, and Liar". Retrieved 2017-10-21.
  4. ^ "Chuck E. Weiss". Discogs. Retrieved 2017-10-21.
  5. ^ John Dougan. "L.A. Ya Ya - Various Artists | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-06-13.
  6. ^ "P - P". Discogs. Retrieved 2014-06-14.
  7. ^ "Chuck E. Weiss and Rickie Lee Jones". Retrieved 2014-06-13.
  8. ^ "Chuck E. Weiss". IMDb. Retrieved 2017-10-21.
  9. ^ "The Tom and Rickie show: Why the relationship of rock's superstar". The Independent. 2009-03-08. Retrieved 2017-10-21.
  10. ^ "Chuck E. Weiss discography". RateYourMusic. Retrieved 2017-10-21.
  11. ^ "Album: Chuck E Weiss". The Independent. 2002-01-18. Retrieved 2017-10-21.
  12. ^ Campbell, Duncan (2002-01-10). "Duncan Campbell on Chuck E Weiss". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-10-21.
  13. ^ "Album: Chuck E Weiss". The Independent. 2006-09-29. Retrieved 2017-10-21.
  14. ^ Steve Leggett (2013-02-19). "Son of Rogues Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs & Chanteys - Various Artists | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2015-11-01.
  15. ^ "Anthem for Old Souls - Chuck E. Weiss | Song Info | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-10-21.
  16. ^ "Stream Chuck E. Weiss's Red Beans and Weiss « American Songwriter". American Songwriter. 2014-04-08. Retrieved 2017-10-21.
  17. ^ "Chuck E. Weiss Biography". Retrieved 2017-10-21.
  18. ^ "Stream Chuck E. Weiss's Red Beans and Weiss « American Songwriter". American Songwriter. 2014-04-08. Retrieved 2017-10-21.
  19. ^ "Gilmore Girls" Lorelai's Graduation Day (TV Episode 2002), retrieved 2017-10-21
  20. ^ "Johnny Depp Rocks: Chuck E. Weiss". Retrieved 2017-10-21.
  21. ^ "Chuck E. Weiss". IMDb. Retrieved 2017-10-21.

External links[edit]