SoWal People: Duke Bardwell Has Soul, and a New Film
April 11, 2012 by SoWal Staff
Most South Walton music fans know Duke Bardwell as a fine musician, mentor, member of Hubba Hubba, and honorary member of Dread Clampitt. And most know he played on stage for a time with Elvis Presley. But few know the full, fascinating story. That's about to change in a big way in a new film set to debut on April 22nd at the Nashville Film Festival.
When Duke Bardwell was 12 he first heard Elvis Presley’s Old Shep on the radio in 1957 and knew instantly that he wanted to play music for a living. At the time, there’s no way he could’ve known he would grow up to play bass for his childhood idol.
The new documentary film, Duke & The King, explores the fascinating story of Bardwell’s rise from Elvis fan to TCB Band member, and his equally dramatic fall from grace. They say there’s danger in meeting your hero. But what if your hero becomes your boss, and your boss is the King of Rock & Roll? That’s the issue at the heart of Duke & The King. It’s a story of “be careful what you wish for.”
Elvis Presley and Duke Bardwell (photo by Keith Alverson)
The TCB Band was a group of professional musicians who formed the core rhythm section of Elvis Presley’s band from August 1969 until his death in 1977. TCB stands for Taking Care of Business, a personal motto Presley adopted in the early 1970s.
Long before the Elvis years, Bardwell’s musical career got off to an early start in his native Baton Rouge, La., playing in popular regional bands including the Dixie Crystals, The Greek Fountains, Basement Wall and Cold Gritz & The Black-Eyed Peas. Over the years, Bardwell has performed and recorded with many influential artists, among them: Tom Rush, Jose Feliciano, Gene Clark and Emmylou Harris. And, in 1974-75, he was the bassist for The King.
Duke’s revealed story on film is punctuated with intimate live performances – recorded at the WorkPlay Theater in Birmingham – that prove Duke could’ve been a star in his own right.
For the first time, Bardwell lays out the full story of his ill-fated stint with Elvis and the tale details exactly how it all went wrong. In addition to Bardwell’s consummate storytelling, the film features interviews with notables like TCB pianist Glen D. Hardin, music legend Kenny Loggins, as well as interviews with Elvis superfans.
The WorkPlay show will also be released soon as a live CD from Self-Proclaimed.
For regular updates, check out Duke Bardwell's website, the Duke Bardwell fan page on Facebook, and follow Duke & The King on Twitter.