Remembering Pete Welding



I first met Pete Welding at the Delmark Records location on Wabash in downtown Chicago. It was 1962, and I was 20 years old. Pete happened by the store, as I'm sure he often did, and Don Kent, who was working there, introduced us. For me, going to 1 Delmark was like a pilgrimage to Mecca, and I meeting Pete was a big deal also, as I had r read his liner notes and Down Beat columns.

I didn't get to know him, however, until - 1966, when he moved to Los Angeles to - enroll in the folklore program at UCLA. As 3 I started to produce records, Pete was i always around to bounce ideas off of, and he was always happy to do so. The first Phillip Walker LP (on Playboy) came about because Pete played the material for Larry Cohn. And Pete was the one who suggested that I record Drifting Slim (and the one who got the album released on Milestone). Even : after he dropped out of the folklore pro: gram, Pete was able to use the [recordingl facilities at UCLA, and he invited me to sessions, including Fred McDowell, Johnny Shines, and a date that included Muddy Waters (must have been the George Smith session for World Pacific). So we became very good friends, and I'm proud to say I was the best man at his wedding to Darlene and the godfather of his son Robert.

Pete had a fascinating career: not only was he a writer of note. he was an A&R man for Epic, Playboy, and for many years at Capitol's special products division. Although jazz was his first love, he had a wide knowledge of blues and most types of popular music. I remember going over to Pete's house and finding him making tapes of himself playing bossa nova, overdubs and all. In 1994, my partner Larry Sloven and I bought the Testament label from Pete, and have subsequently reissued all of the blues albums that were available. The best thing about the deal for me-in addition to reacquainting myself with some great music-was getting to spend more time with Pete than we had in years. Every few weeks we would have lunch at a little pizza joint across from his office, and he would talk about all the things he wanted to do when he retired in a few years-books he wanted to write, interviews he wanted to transcribe (Lonnie Johnson, Tom Dorsey, Muddy and Wolf, to name a few). When I look at the mountain of tapes he left behind, including interviews and recordings with many little known artists. I realize that he did all of his work in Philadelphia. Maryland, and Chicago in the days before he ever drove a car. To think of him dragging a recording machine around on buses. in neighborhoods that were tough even then, is amazing to me whenever I think about how much he accomplished in a relatively short time. I'm glad that in the notes to the Testament sampler. Pete wrote about what he did and why he did it. His legacy is tremendous.

-Bruce Bromberg