Jesse Dayton grew up in East Texas.. with snakes, swamps, oil rigs, sweltering heat, Pentecostal Christianity and fear of sin. His new album, The Revealer is set for a mid-September release and it reflects the dichotomy in Dayton’s life. A man raised on the threat of hell, fire and damnation; and at times unable to resist the lure of the devil’s own music. The dogma of heaven and hell appears countless times throughout his album; much like Dante’s Inferno with the journey through the nine circles of hell! Every track on “The Revealer” descends into a baleful world of doleful shades, horrifying tortures and unending lamentation (“Holy Ghost Rock and Roller,Possum Ran Over My Grave… 3 Pecker Goat… Match Made In Heaven”)..
The Killer, Jerry Lee Lewis was born not to far from the Dayton family and whose spirit parallels much like Jesse as far as the abomination from God. Jerry Lee was a hell-raiser from the start; a breech baby who came into the world feet first. The doctor showed up in time to do the delivery, but not exactly sober. Jerry Lee’s father, Elmo Lewis, gave him some corn whiskey, and Dr. Sebastian promptly passed out. Elmo delivered the baby himself as his wife, Mamie, deep in labor, exhorted him to be careful of the arms and head. At seven years old his parents mortgaged their house so to pay for a piano which he would bang on for 10 hours a day. As he grew up he would play the solemn psalms in church but would alter it into a boogie- woogie beat.. The Lewis family would be banished from attending the local church forever! As one of the founding fathers of rock’n’roll and reputedly the baddest of the bad boys he was mostly known to have a temperamental side. There was the time he drove up to Graceland, drunk on liquor and high on pills, with a gun on his dashboard, demanding that Elvis come down from the house on the hill to prove who was the real king. And the time he shot his bass player, Butch Owens, in the chest, accidentally, he insists – Owens was awarded $125,000 in damages. There were the two wives who died tragically at home. Some have said there were suspicious circumstances linked to their deaths. But this is the past and that’s why it’s the past. Lewis already had two brief marriages under his belt when he decided to marry his cousin Myra Gale Brown in 1957. On their marriage license, Brown stated she was 20 years old; but she was really only 13 at the time. News of his underage bride broke as Lewis started a tour of the United Kingdom in 1958, creating such an outcry that the tour was quickly cancelled after only three concerts.Rumor has it that when John Lennon met Jerry Lee for the first time he bowed down and kissed his feet. Even when Lewis returned to the States, he found that he got a less-than-warm welcome home. Radio stations refused to play his songs and Lewis had a hard time lining up any live performances. Of all the greats from the Sun Records era Jerry Lee Lewis is the last man standing from the” Million Dollar Quartet”… Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee.And just to add insult to misery, T.V. evangelist, Jimmy Swaggart was a cousin of “The Killer”.
Jerry Lee Lewis…… Jesse From AMC’s Preacher…. Jerry Lee’s police shot
We asked Dayton about his religious gravitation, Jerry Lee Lewis and the AMC show, “Preacher” and working with music/movie icon, Rob Zombie…and his own film “Zombex”.
I think some of the Pentacostal influenced lyrics are pretty similar to what Jerry Lee Lewis probably went through. He grew up pretty close to where I did and those hard core religious folks used to scare the shit out of me as a kid! Lot’s of talk about the Devil…I mean, constantly! I think those could work really well w/ the Preacher. I read some of those early animated novels when they came out. Really badass….glad they’re making TV shows from them. A lot of what I do musically has a big cinematic place in my heart. I actually think about songs in a cinematic way because a lot of the time I’m more influenced by film than I am by music. I watch A LOT of films.
Rob Zombie and Jesse Dayton
I had worked w/ Rob Zombie on a few of his films. Devils Rejects, Halloween 2 & Haunted World of Super El Beasto. I met Rob thru my best friend/actor Lew Temple who is in alot of his films. Rob was really good to me. He found me at a time in my career when I really needed something like that & pretty much reinvented me and my audience. He’s like that though…the guy has done so much for so many talented people, from actors, musicians, artist, film crew, the list goes on and on. The film I wrote and directed, Zombex, just kind of all fell together really quickly. I had an alias band called Capt. Clegg and the Night Creatures and we we’re out on a tour opening for Rob Zombie. Everyday I wrote pages for the Zombex script. When I got off tour I had 85 pages. I gave the script to some film producers and they immediately reached out to Malcolm, who had been in H2 w/ me and he agreed to do it. He also got Sid Haig & Corey Feldman. I also got John Doe from X and Tom Araya from Slayer. The money just kind of fell out of the sky and next thing I know I’m on set directing Malcolm Fucking McDowell. Luckily, it was a B style Roger Corman-esque horror zombie film so I got to learn the same way some of my fav director did working for Corman on small budget films. We scored a distribution deal and it made money. Gonna do another one after this never ending tour stops!
“Revealer” begins with the astounding saga of his father.. “Daddy Was a Baddass”… We asked Dayton about his relationship with his mom and dad and their influence on his music….Much of his ability he attributes to the support he got from his parents. They did everything they could to bring his music to fruition…
“Had a very positive relationship w/ my old man. He was the best. A mass of hypocrisy’s. Could be a total badass if he saw some kind of injustice, but was also very sensitive. Loved art, music and a lot of things my friend’s fathers didn’t know shit about. I think it’s because when he was in the military he traveled a lot. Also, he was intellectually curious, like me. Was really lucky to have such a great character as a Dad. My Mom was & still is the best Very supportive. We talked it about it the other day and realized that me, my brother and sister we’re the 1st ones to be born in a hospital! My Mom, Dad, Uncles and Aunts we’re all born on farms out in the country. All salt of the earth folks. Very hardworking, no bullshit, just great people. I did have some scary relatives though…crazy ass rednecks! No seat belts, bourbon bottles & pistols under the truck seats, crazy shit.. Growing up in East Texas was a pretty crazy. Lot’s of great music coming over the border from Louisiana, lot’s of genuine honky- tonks still hosting great old school country bands til about the mid 80’s. Lot’s of rhythm & blues. BBQ stands w/ homemade signs w/ smoke bellowing out on the sides of the road everywhere. Cajun food galore. But there was still racism, schools we’re segregated w/ busing zones, lot’s of rednecks. I had to leave eventually…my soul wasn’t being fed.”
Jesse Dayton is a gifted guitarist and we wanted to ask him about his musical background and how that part of his career got “jump-started….
“Thanks, I’ve been surrounded by great guitar players my whole life. It’s just like anything else, if you’re constantly around people who are better than you than it definitely raises your game up. Legendary Austin blues night club owner Clifford Antone, found me playing in a dive bar in Beaumont TX called the Boulevard. He said, “here’s my number, come to Austin and play my joint”. So I did. Been playing live every since. I spent 10-12 hours a day playing for the 1st 5 years. Obsessive! I listened to Grady Martin, Jame Burton & Roy Nichols for country and rockabilly and Lightning Hopkins, Buddy Guy & Magic Sam for blues. I was also into Hendrix, Billy Gibbons and Jimmie Vaughn too. I loved Billy Zoom from X as well who I ended up playing guitar with when X called and said Billy was sick. That was a mind blower. Playing guitar on the Waylon Jennings record Right For The Time was a life changer that set me up to play w/ a lot of legends. I’ve been lucky!”
Oh…. Jesse Dayton also carries a line of “shit- kickin’ boots.. A 1950’s reproduction …
We’ve done over 150 interviews at Rock Bands of L.A. com… I must say that Dayton was the best!
Thanks to Jesse and Ms. Melissa Dragich-Cordero..