God v. The Devil

27 Jun

Bunker Hill – a.k.a. Dave Walker – might have one of the most intense voices ever recorded.  He doesn’t sing as much as holler and the primitiveness of it is ridiculously powerful.  Walker was originally a gospel singer and was a member of The Mighty Clouds of Joy, a very successful gospel group.  But then something funny happened.

Link Wray heard him, flipped out and he and his brother arranged for a recording session immediately.  But Dave Walker was a good Christian boy and didn’t think the other Mighty Clouds members would appreciate him singing the Devil’s music.  Luckily the Wrays weren’t going to let that get in the way.  They just gave him a pseudonym so that the gospel folk wouldn’t know about it.  The first name suggested was ‘Four H Stamp,’ which I love, but they ended up with Bunker Hill.  As someone who had a weird historical crush on the Revolutionary War hero, Dr. Joseph Warren (for real), I approve.

One of the first songs to be recorded was “Hide and Go Seek.”  It had to be separated into Parts 1 and 2 when it came out because it was too long to fit on a 7″ single.  It was a crazy song to put out as a single in the first place, but even crazier, it charted!  In 1962!  And not just on the R&B Charts, but on the Hot 100. It rose to #33 and stayed on the charts about 3 months. AND this was especially crazier because a lot of radio stations had banned it because of its suggestiveness.

A few other great singles came out and then in 1963, “The Girl Can’t Dance” was released.  Boy-oh-boy is that possessed hollering present on this track!  It’s amazing that this many years later these songs sound cutting edge.

Bunker Hill ended up returning to being Dave Walker and to the gospel circuit. In this case, I was really rooting for the Devil.

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