Eagle Records is delighted to release Boogie 4 Stu on 11 April 2011 [Cat. No. ]. The album is in tribute to pianist Ian Stewart, a founding member of the Rolling Stones, who went on to serve as their long-term road manager. Boogie 4 Stu was dreamt up and produced by fellow pianist Ben Waters, a member The A, B, C and D of Boogie Woogie, which also features Charlie Watts. The album is released to raise funds for the British Heart Foundation, and is released near the 25th anniversary of Stewart’s death. The album is mixed by Glyn Johns and the front cover is a newly commissioned portrait of Ian Stewart by Sir Peter Blake.
Initially planned by Waters as a solo album, Boogie 4 Stu soon took on a life of its own. When I told Charlie Watts that I was going to record the album, he asked to be on it. I asked Jools Holland if I could hire his studio. He said ‘No’, but that I could have it for free and that he would like to play on the album too, as Ian was a mate. Letters to other friends and former colleagues of Stu outlining the project elicited the simple response, Where do we need to be and when? Ben Waters, of course, plays on every track and is joined on one by his cousin PJ Harvey. Waters says, Everyone who is on the ‘Boogie 4 Stu’ album knew Ian Stewart really well, in fact most told me that he was their best mate! Despite this I felt many music fans need an introduction to the man and his music. To some he was a roadie that played a bit of piano, to his friends and fans the opposite was true. Most of the music on the album was laid down live, after no more than a couple of takes, and the atmosphere in the studio was fantastic.
The album highlight for many will be the version of Bob Dylan’s song Watchin’ The River Flow. This features Mick Jagger on vocals & harmonica, Keith Richards on guitar, Charlie Watts on drums, Ronnie Wood on guitar and Bill Wyman on bass.It’s the first time Wyman has recorded with his former colleagues since 1992. As well as his work with the Rolling Stones, Ian Stewart played with a host of other talents including Led Zeppelin [this album is named after their track ‘Boogie With Stu’], Howlin’ Wolf, The Yardbirds, his own band Rocket88 and more. Keith Richards said, Ian Stewart. I’m still working for him. To me the Rolling Stones is his band. Without his knowledge and organization … we’d be nowhere.
As a kid starting out in music, Waters learnt to play in Ian Stewart’s style, whom he saw perform at an event organized by his family. He had a collection of cine footage featuring Albert Ammons, Pete Johnson and Meade Lux Lewis, I got access to those, and learned more by playing along. Some of his own performances were there too including the Montreux Jazz Festival. I love his style. No one else played like him, he was unique. Waters went on to join Stewart’s former band Rocket 88 and, of course, to play with Charlie Watts, so it seems that Ian Stewart has never been far away. I played with a band in Dorset with Hamish Maxwell [also on this album], who is exactly 40 years older than me, and it turned out he’d been Ian’s best man!
The evolution of Boogie 4 Stu from solo tribute to an album featuring some of the incredible talent that Ian Stewart came into orbit with has been amazing. There are two shows booked in at the Ambassador’s Theatre in London on March 9th. These will feature The A,B,C & D Of Boogie Woogie as the house band, with Jools Holland hosting and various special guest appearances.
The album finishes with the Sam Cooke track ‘Bring It On Home’, performed by Ian Stewart with Rocket 88 at the Montreux Jazz Festival. As Waters says, Ian Stewart was not a man who liked a fuss, but he would have loved the music on this album, and I wanted him to play it out.