Bill Bartlett

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Bill Bartlett

Ram Jam was an American rock band that developed its career throughout the decade of the ’70s and that became known for the cover of Lead Belly: “Black Betty”, originally from 1939 and versioned by Ram Jam in 1977.

Bill_Bartlett’s Biography

First years

Bill Bartlett, lead guitarist of the group, former member of the group The Lemon Pipers, formed a group called Starstruck along with bassist David Goldflies and organist Bob Nave.

Black Betty

During his stay in the group, Bartlett picked up a leadbelly song called “Black Betty” of 59 seconds and arranged it and composed his music to record it and edit it on the group’s own label, TruckStar Records. The commercial and regional success of the song caused that several American producers recommended to Bartlett to create a group, that this one formed under the name of Ram Jam. The first thing he did under his new name was to re-edit “Black Betty”, becoming a hit in the United States. This version of the song, which was included in the band’s debut album, included the members of Starstruck, while the rest of the songs on the album were played by the original members of Ram Jam. The lyrics of the song were accused of racism by the NAACP, which caused great controversy and made it improve in the sales lists, reaching 18th place in the United States and exceeding the tenth place in the United Kingdom and Australia, while the band’s self-titled album, Ram Jam, reached number 40 in the United States. In addition, Black Betty was included in the 2001 Ted Demme movie, Blow.

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Ram

A second album of the group, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Ram, was released without the collaboration of Bartlett, who had left the group and did not play on the album, so the band hired guitarist Jimmy as a substitute. Santoro This album, despite not having been received with the popularity of its predecessor, is considered his best work thanks to the vocal power of Scavone and the guitar power of Santoro.

In 1990, the two Ram Jam albums were released as a double album under the name The Very Best of Ram Jam.

More Facts about Bill Bartlett

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