DIARY - 12 FEBRUARY 2005 - CAPTAIN MIDNIGHT & KEITH KNUDSEN RIP
MIDNIGHT FADES TO DAWN
- the DJ who inspired the satirical Mark Germino song Rex Bob Lowenstein
- has died at 70 in Nashville.
The Germino song tells of a commercial country radio DJ who barricaded
his studio doors and played his musical choice when management tried to
centralise, dilute and dictate the play list.
That event was touched upon in 1978 movie, FM, featuring cameos by Tom
Petty and others.
Captain Midnight, born Roger Schutt, was the character and inspiration
of many DJS working on public radio in American and Australia.
The Captain was a music mentor for High In The Saddle in its RRR and PBS
reign and Nu Country FM midnight DJ - the late Peter Cresp-Gerrard.
He was also the champion of the seventies country outlaws who revolutionised
bland MOR music in Nashville and a beyond.
Schutt, born in 1931 in Durand, Michigan, died in Nashville on Tuesday
February 8 at his Nashville home.
His body was found by staff at the Leah Rose Residence for Senior Citizens.
The all-night disc jockey was a major member of the inner circle of country
music's outlaw movement.
Captain Midnight held court at Nashville station WKDA from midnight to
7 a.m. in the 1960s.
He was known for announcing: ''It's 3:30, America, and this is your Captain!''
When not on air he hung out at the Glaser Brothers Sound Studio on 19th
Avenue South, where he was at some of Nashville's most important recording
Midnight was best known as a confidant, guru and pinball-playing partner
to Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter, Tompall Glaser, Billy Joe Shaver
and Kinky Friedman during the peak of country music's Outlaws movement.
He wrote the liner notes for Waylon Jennings' ground-breaking Honky-Tonk
The album featured nine songs penned by recent Texan tourist Billy
Joe Shaver and inspired the pilot of a Willie Nelson movie.
Captain Midnight was among the ''heroes'' on the cover.
Donnie Fritts, a charter outlaw, broke into tears when told of Schutt's
< Waylon Jennings
been knowing him from like the mid-1960s, when he had that radio
show,'' said Fritts, crediting Schutt for making a Fritts-Dan Penn
co-write, Rainbow Road, ''real popular.''
The song, recorded by Bill Brandon, was about an imprisoned singer.
guys in the Tennessee State Prison would keep calling in to request
it. He played it a lot,'' said Fritts.
"He was one of the great characters that came out of the 1960s
He was very
close to Waylon and Tompall Glaser. He was one of the ones that was there
with us, with Kris Kristofferson, Shel Silverstein, Billy Swan.''
proclaimed himself as ''Music Row's best knife-thrower.''
He duelled with Jennings for the title. The knife marks on the back wall
of the Glaser compound are still visible today.
Fritts recently saw Schutt at a meeting of Giving in Faith Together, music
industry veterans who worship together and help colleagues in need. He
was a regular.
Chet Flippo, CMT editorial director, said, ''He was always around in that
orbit of the outlaws. He was pretty much an instigator, I think.'
Flippo said the ''radio legend'' was ''a kindred spirit'' to the renegades
who defined a musical movement. ''He was always a maverick and a loose
cannon, in the best sense of the word''
Nashville DJ Carl P. Mayfield remembers listening to Schutt's ''theatre
of the mind'' when he was a teenager.
''Captain Midnight flew higher than all of us.''
really hard to peg Midnight," Friedman told CMT.
"He was like a country Rasputin, sort of. Waylon and Roger
Miller and Tompall and a number of others, too, considered him very
valuable. I certainly did."
Friedman said Schutt was one of the first people he met in Nashville.
Billy Joe Shaver & Kinky
He got fired
for playing The Ballad of Charles Whitman. He was a master of the human
comedy, a patron saint of sleepless nights, and I will miss him beyond
words and music.
"He was an iconoclast. He was pushing the envelope a little faster
than Nashville wanted to go. He knew as much about country music as anybody.
For a long time he never had a home. He really epitomised what was great
about the Outlaw movement. He was a gypsy on a pirate ship."
Friedman recalled many instances of staying up all night in Nashville
with Captain Midnight and their friends.
"As Midnight said, 'Often we stayed up for six nights, and it felt
like a week.' And now he can rest. I would suspect that he's in hillbilly
heaven now, and I think he's with Roger Miller and Waylon and Hank Williams.
That would be my guess."
THE STUDIO DOORS
air personality worked at WSM before bringing politics and current events
into his music program on WKDA.
Schutt was hired and fired frequently during his career.
One of the firings took place in 1981 at WUSW, a station located near
Nashville in Lebanon, Tennessee after he locked himself into the control
room to protest against the management's decision to shorten its music
"I'm just going for a little creative freedom," he said at the
"The radio industry in this town needs to turn around and be creative
and catch up with the rest of the town."
Keith Knudsen, drummer for legendary country rock band The Doobie Brothers
and Nashville country group Southern Pacific has died of pneumonia at
He picked up the tempo for the Doobie Brothers during a string of hits
that included Taking it to the Streets and Black Water.
Knudsen, born on October 18, 1952, had been hospitalised for more than
a month, according to the band's longtime manager Bruce Cohn.
"I just saw him Sunday, just before the Super Bowl." Cohn said.
"He was in good spirits. He was weak, but he was OK."
Knudsen began drumming in eighth grade and joined the Doobie Brothers
in 1974. "After a week's rehearsal, I went on the road with the band,"
Knudsen said in his biography on the band's Web site.
The Doobies were known for incorporating gospel and jazz stylings into
popular hit songs toured Australia to promote their music including the
other hits China Grove and Jesus is Just Alright.
Knudsen played with the Doobies on their Australian visit and until the
band's 1982 farewell tour.
He also worked with Nicolette Larsen and Carly Simon and was a honorary
member of Emmylou Harris's Hot Band.
the band's hiatus, Knudsen and band mate John McFee, formerly of Clover,
formed country group Southern Pacific, which released four albums
and had several hits.
Warner Brothers stable mate Jeff Hanna of the famed Nitty Gritty Dirt
Band came up with their name.
Singer Tim Goodman, keyboardist Kurt Howell and former Creedence Clearwater
Revival bassist Stu Cook were also in the band.
The band released its self-titled debut album in 1985.
Pacific albums produced four Top 10 singles - Reno Bound, New Shade
of Blue, Honey I Dare You and Any Way the Wind Blows.
Knudsen co-wrote A Girl Like Emmylou about the singer who duetted
with the band in its version of Tom Petty song Thing About You.
His other co-writes included The Blaster from it debut disc.
The band also recorded a duet with Carlene Carter on Time's Up - penned
by Wendy Waldman, Harry Stinson and Kevin Welch, now making his sixth
I interviewed Knudsen and other band members in Nashville in 1988 but,
with due respect for long-suffering web mistress Anne Sydenham, won't
transcribe it here.
The band landed two songs Anyway The Wind Blows and Reno Bound
with McFee replacing the departed Goodman on vocals in the 1989 Clint
Eastwood movie Pink Cadillac.
David Jenkins of Pablo Cruise had replaced Goodman when I interviewed
the band but had left before final album I Go To Pieces.
Southern Pacific band broke up in 1991 and Knudsen rejoined The Doobies.
It released four video clips -
1985 - Thing About You
1986 - Killbilly Hill
1989 - Anyway The Wind Blows
1990 - I Go To Pieces
1985 Southern Pacific (Warner Bros. 25206)
1986 Killbilly Hill (Warner Bros. 25409)
1988 Zuma (Warner Bros. 25609-2)
1990 County Line (Warner Bros. 25895-2)
1991 Greatest Hits (Warner Bros. 26582-2)
2003 - Southern Pacific/Zuma: Wounded Bird Records
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