The CC Blues King phenomenon was one that passed unnoticed in the history of Rock and Roll, except perhaps to those who were in Athens, Greece. Formed in 1970 by the brothers Christ, both powerful poets and singers, the band also featured Matt Econopouly, (now known as Matt Barrett) on guitar, Rick Miller, (now known as Parthenon Huxley) also on guitar, and the notorious Rodent Brothers, Chuck the Rat and George the Mouse on sax and drums. They were later joined by John Alex, (now known as Yanni Vavoura), the man credited with bringing punk rock to Greece. Through their short existence they were joined by a number of musicians on stage and on tape including Dorian Kokas of Agapanthos and Morka, as well as Leigh Sioris of New York City's legendary punk-pop group The Dots. The roots of the band can be traced back to 1968 when both Matt and Rick played in Officer Henry, a solid 3-piece group which featured 11-year old phenom Tim Aquilina on drums. In early 1969 they added Ghanian Scott Tevin on guitar and changed the name to Hangin Meat and performed several shows to standing room only crowds. It was in the spring of 1969 when an impromptu performance at Athens College began the legend of CC Bluesking and an avalanche of cassette tapes and 'album covers' seemed to appear overnight along with hundreds of songs and poems scrawled on sheets of notebook paper and passed around between friends and band members to be admired for their simple and profound genius. Songs like 'Smackover Blues', and 'Airport Blues' both written about the departure of Aquilina, the only real drummer any of them knew, were quoted along with the works of Shelley and Byron, and scrawled on bathroom stalls in souvlaki shops around town.
The band really came together at a video session on the roof of Barry Furler's (also known as Captain Australia) home in Psyhiko. They later opened for Monty Python's Flying Circus, (not the TV show, the group) with an extended line-up that included many of their friends and whatever instruments they could find. But in early 1970 the band settled on the line-up that most people call the definitive CC Bluesking and began recording in a small studio in Rick's basement in Erithrea. Though the taped 'sessions' showed a pensive and melodic side to the band, their concerts were raucous orgies of pounding guitars, feedback, naked flesh, and the excited squeals of groupies who saw the Christ brothers as sex Gods, attainable only to the most devoted. Songs were literally made up on stage and featured the hypnotic lyrical incantations of the Christ brothers and the etheral guitar solos of Matt (Barrett) Econopouly, held together by Rick (P Hux) Miller's ability to actually play the guitar quite well. If you wanted to compare them to another band imagine Iggy Pop and the Stooges on acid or maybe something stronger. The genius of the band was perhaps a three pronged attack of CC's ability to make up lyrics on the spot, Matt's ability to make up catchy chord progressions on the spot and PC's business savy and diplomacy. ("Give us our money you old Coot"). Miller's value to the band went beyond the fact that he owned all the instruments and had the only place they could record. He was also an excellent guitar player, some say better than Matt and a pretty good drummer as is evidenced in the song Country Shit.
The group sent much of this early period penning what were to be their big hits and showcase tunes though few ever actually appeared in their live performances or tapes since songs were written and forgotten about almost emmediately. The band enjoyed a brief but intense period of success, playing concerts and releasing several cassette 'albums', all 'out of print' with the exception of the newly discovered Great Lost CC Blues King Album which is actually the second of the Great Lost CC Bluesking Albums, the first having been lost by their Guru Jack Marlowe in 1970, a burdon that weighed heavy on him even up to his death in 2003. Though the Vavoura Band is credited with being the first punk group in Greece you could go back to 1970-72 to give CC Blues King that title, except they were not entirely punk. Punk was a way to describe the band in retrospect since the word was yet to be used for a musical style. You would have to call them Pre-Punk. Or how about Pre-Punk-Acid-Rock with of course a touch of the blues. Or maybe Athens version of the Velvet Underground. But the band has always defied labeling and in fact one member of the band was overheard threatening to kick the ass of a journalist who wanted to label them. So perhaps it is best not to label them.
CC Bluesking King's first show was the Literary Club Art Dance at the American Community School of Athens where they played a truly inspired show beneath the psychedelic lights that were popular in those days when overhead projectors were as close as most students got to psychedelic drugs. Though this show was recorded in its entirety the tapes have been lost, one must assume, forever. Their next two shows were at the American Youth Center in Kiffissia, the last of which they played so loudly (and some say badly) that the entire audience had left the dance hall by 11:30. This alone would be enough to draw the band recognition of some sort, but the fact is it was also New Year's Eve. In the history of mankind you can probably count on one hand the number of New Year's eve parties that ended a half hour before midnight. When the band returned to get paid the Director of the Club called them the worst band that had ever played there, and refused to give them their money. Things went downhill from there for awhile and the membership of CC Bluesking changed as frequently as the ..... ummmmm, well it changed a lot. Various spin-off bands appeared like Rick Rock and the Flounders, Panchos Army, The Jolly Jewish Blues Brothers, Savanarola, The Dorian Kokas Expense and the ill-fated CC Fuckhead.
Still the core of the band Matt, CC and Peter continued to hang out and record usually in Matt's basement bedroom in Agia Paraskevis. Several songs from these sessions appear on the Great Lost CC Bluesking Album. It was during this period that the Rodent Brothers left the band and returned to Chicago where they can still be heard on some of the recordings of the late Rubberknuck Slim which have yet to be released. Chuck the Rat was replaced by flautist extraordinaire Kirk Esco which gave the band a more Jethro Tull sound in the few recordings they didduring this time. Finding a new drummer proved to be more difficult and the band tried to woo the reknown Nick Polemos for several months before finally giving up when the two parties could never come to an agreement. One can only wonder what the synthisis of these major talens would have brought forth but we can only add this to the list of 'what ifs'. The void was finally filled by hard hitting Dennis Giambuso, formerly of the Jim Smith Jug Band who remained with the group until the end.
In 1971 the band found itself in hot water when Blues Scene, a magazine devoted to the exploits of CC Bluesking, was accused of exposing an undercover narcotics officer and promoting the use of heroin for creative purpose. It was all nonsense of course. The band never used anything more powerful than hashish, Valuim, Romilar, Opium, Nembutal, Crystal Meth, Qualudes, LSD, Mushrooms, and something they called 'fire-bombs', but the damage was done. Without the magazine to promote themselves they were forced to rely on word of mouth and their own musical abilities, always a bad combination.
Though the band had never had a true bassist, preferring to rely on the volume of the guitars to cover any holes, they were approached by a young musician named John Alex who asked to join the band for one last show at the American High school with his pal Mike Peslikis on keyboards. This was the way most of CC Bluesking's Fans remember the group. A tight, efficient rock unit that was actually able to play the songs they had written and play them well. It should be added that in an age where every band was playing cover songs, CC Bluesking played only originals. Some accuse them of playing originals because they were unable to play other people's songs, a criticism that the band brushed aside by saying "We don't play other people's music because it all sucks" which if it were not true in 1970 is certainly the case today, making the band prophets in a way. But the group always saw themselves as art, like jazz with feedback, and so they never rehearsed and made up their songs right on stage. To those critical of the band their message was simple: If you don't like it, then don't come. This philosophy enabled them to carve out a niche in the history of Greek rock music that remains unparalleled to this day.
CC Bluesking faded into the sunset like a spaghetti western. With the exception of John Alex, now Yanni Vavoura they all moved back to the United States to pursue various careers. Matt Econopouly became Matt Barrett and had a semi successful musical career in his group the Dads as well as a solo career as a pathetically lonesme folk singer. He preformed in the USA and in Greece up until the early ninties when his Greece Travel Guide became so popular that music took a back seat, perhaps forever. Rick Miller became Parthenon Huxley and also played in the Dads. He put out perhaps a dozen albums and later joined the remnants of ELO, taking the place of Jeff Lynne and even acheieving the honor of battling him in court. Peter and CC drifted around playing in various blues bands and heavy metal groups until they just disappeared off the face of the earth. PC eventually went baack to his first love, the Insurance business. Captain Australia went back to do what he loved most in his home country, herding sheep. It seemed that the music of CC Bluesking would never be heard again. Later when inteviewed PC replied when asked if drugs broke up the band: "Naah. Drugs don't break up bands. Chicks break them up. Always. If you look at the history of CC Bluesking it is just like the Beatles or ay other group. As soon as one guys gets a girlfriend he quits the band because whats the point? He got what he came for. Sure you can keep replacing members as they get girlfriends and leave but eventually where does that leave you? You end up in a band with a bunch of fags."
But now, after 36 years the Great Lost CC Bluesking Album (the 2nd one) has miraculously re-appeared and young people of the 21st century can hear the band in at least some of its glory. Despite primitive recording techniques the Great Lost CC Bluesking Album shows the creative energy of one of the world's most original bands. So in the words of CC Himself, "Turn it up baby so you can hear me sweat". (But not too loud because the primative
may really fuck up your speakers).