It was a baptism of fire. That’s what it was. Earl Marlowe was a great guy. He was my voodoo and guitar mentor. Brilliant at blues calypso, soul, funk, reggae and those styles. He was a master of rhythm just like people like John Lee Hooker or Otis Redding were. He was born with the groove.

He was a blues singer and voodoo conjure doctor, originally from Trinidad, and I featured him throughout my Dr. Snake’s Voodoo Spellbook. I used to play guitar for him back in the 1980s and also assisted him in dispensing voodoo medicines to help people get money, love and gambling luck. That kinda thing…

Now he didn’t really play much guitar, just a few chords (he was a percussionist). But he taught me the rhythm, which most white boy guitar players are lacking. He literally drilled it into me!

During rehearsals, for example, he’d often count us in “1, 2, 3, 4… I’d go to hit the E chord, and Earl would go, “Nah man, you missed it, you come in too late. You not on the groove.”

In truth, Earl was as cantankerous as Chuck Berry (ask Keef Richards all about that). Once this routine went on for a half-hour, Earl waving his arms saying “you’re off the groove, man.”

But he was just tryin’ to instil that sweet sense o’ rhythm in me. In the end, I nailed the groove and my right hand became like a drum.

Earl was one of those lovable ego-maniacs. You’d wanna kill him one minute, hug him the next.

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