The Detroit Free Press – December 29, 2011
By Martin Bandyke
A founding member of Kid Rock’s Twisted Brown Trucker Band, Royal Oak native Kenny Olson has also gigged and recorded with a ton of other major artists, including Les Paul, Hubert Sumlin, Sheryl Crow and Faith Evans. The lead guitarist is undeniably a disciple of Jimi Hendrix, with blistering pyrotechnics an essential part of his blues-rock stylings.
Q: Who were some of the musicians you loved the most as a kid?
A: I remember there always being a guitar in my house growing up. My dad and my uncles played for fun, and my granddad was a pianist and trumpeter in a big band outfit. In my house there were all kinds of great records from back in the day. Jimi (Hendrix) was a big early influence, so at a very young age I was demanding to hear “Foxy Lady” and I’d run around the house doing the air guitar things.
I had neighbors who worked at radio stations and was exposed to so much amazing music. I remember getting the “Bitches Brew” album (by Miles Davis) in a garage sale held by a DJ. It took me three trips on my bike when I was 12 bringing home albums from that sale — things by Cream, Black Sabbath, the Stooges, MC5 and others. At first it was impossible to figure out “Bitches Brew,” but I’d listen to the horn lines and find the right pitch on the guitar.
I listened to everything: old R&B diva singers, classic rock, blues, Motown, gospel, Southern sounds to funky ’70s attitude to punk rock.
Q: What are some of your happiest memories of working with Kid Rock for so many years?
A: Bob and I and the rest of the Twisted Brown Trucker Band did everything we ever dreamed of doing, and it was an amazing ride. We traveled the world together and we did everything: award shows to late-night TV shows to the Super Bowl to all the big festivals to being on “The Simpsons.”
That sense of accomplishment has been there for me and I’m very blessed for that.
Q: Billy Cox, Jimi Hendrix’s bass player from the Band of Gypsies, guests on your new album. How long have you known him?
A: I started working with him in the ’90s and we’ve played together with so many amazing artists. He’s my big brother, and it’s such an honor to have Billy in my life. I just did his new record, too (“Old School Blue Blues”) and worked on his last two solo albums.
I was virtually adopted by the Hendrix family back in the ’90s after (longtime Hendrix album engineer) Eddie Kramer got me working with Billy and Buddy (Miles) and Mitch (Mitchell). I got to know Jimi’s dad, who asked me to re-cut “Little Wing” with Chaka Khan.
I’m so fortunate to roll down the road with Billy; we’re very, very tight.