Friday, December 4, 2009

Josie Cotton Meets The Ventures

A number of guest vocalists have dropped into the Ventures' world for a song or two over the years, but Josie "Johnny Are You Queer?" Cotton? Check this rare clip out, and you'll see it's not such a stretch.

After flourishing in the Japanese market in the 1970s, the Ventures enjoyed a lasting Stateside comeback that began in the early 80s, partly due to some inspired musicians paying tribute, either in the press or on record. Suddenly, surf music and twangy guitars were back. For example, the flip side of the Go-Go's "Our Lips Our Sealed" single, "Surfin' and Spyin'," was written as an homage to the band.

And then came Josie. After finding this 1985 performance of "Secret Agent Man" by accident on YouTube (looking for Cotton videos), I rang up Ventures co-founder/bandleader Don Wilson in hopes that he remembered some details about his encounter with the super-sexy New Wave icon.

"Of course I remember her," Wilson said, laughing. "It was love at first sight -- she was gorgeous, and that leather outfit..."

Wilson explained that the performance was part of a Japanese-produced special/documentary, filmed in NYC, that paired an eclectic array of Ventures admirers with the band onstage. Also featured were the Doors' Robby Krieger, Chris Spedding, Peter Frampton, David Johansen, the Doobie Brothers' Jeff Baxter, the Raybeats, Rick Derringer and Max Weinberg. According to Wilson, Cyndi Lauper was scheduled to appear, but when she couldn't make the gig, Cotton jumped in.

"And (Cotton) was great, she did a fabulous job, I think... great voice," Wilson added.

The special was never aired in the U.S., but is now available on DVD at The Ventures official website.

The Ventures -- who are about to celebrate an astounding 51st anniversary -- will perform at the Brian Setzer Orchestra's Christmas Rocks! Extravaganza, Dec. 17-18, at Universal City's Gibson Amphitheater.

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