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News & Features » September 2014 » Greg Prato Discovers Primus

Greg Prato Discovers Primus

To celebrate the release of Primus, Over the Electric Grapevine: Insight into Primus and the World of Les Claypool, we’re pleased to bring you a guest post from author/journalist Greg Prato on how he came to be a Primus fan.

Primus on tour: Don’t miss Les Claypool and Larry LaLonde in Denver on September 18th and San Francisco on September 23rd! Click here for more details.

Les Claypool and Greg Prato. (photo credit: Kurt Christensen)

Les Claypool and Greg Prato.
(photo credit: Kurt Christensen)

In the beginning of Primus, Over the Electric Grapevine: Insight into Primus and the World of Les Claypool, I list—down to the date and time—the events that transpired from the moment the idea for the book was hatched to its completion and submission to Akashic. But one thing I don’t think I’ve ever recounted is how I first discovered the music of Primus.

I have a music-loving cousin who, circa 1990, had amassed a vast CD collection (which he still has to this day—although I believe they’re all packaged up nice and neatly in boxes down his basement). But despite such CD vastness, it seemed like the majority of the titles were either the deathliest of death metal or the proggiest of prog. So when I spotted in his collection a CD titled Frizzle Fry by a band I had never of before, I became quite intrigued—it stuck out like a sore thumb.

Next, I believe I spotted the music video for “John the Fisherman” one late night shortly thereafter while viewing Headbangers Ball on MTV—was I the only young gentleman who forsook a Saturday social life in order to see the latest heavy metal videos?—and was intrigued with what I saw/heard.

It must have been around January or February 1991 that I finally did what was right, and plunked down the required ducats for my own personal CD copy of Frizzle Fry. (I did so via my favorite local record store, Slipped Disc Records.) Already being a fan of bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Faith No More—and having acquired Funkadelic’s classic Maggot Brain around the same time—undoubtedly helped prepare my ears a bit for what I was about to hear.

What I heard was a band that was in stark contrast to the majority of the same-sounding, cookie-cutter, predictable hard rock/heavy metal that was being championed at the time by mainstream radio/media/MTV. A guitarist that managed to be both funky and atonal at the same time, a drummer that had obviously studied Neil Peart, and a singer who was more of a narrator/storyteller and who played bass like no one else—indeed, Larry LaLonde, Tim Alexander, and Les Claypool created a totally unique sound that no one has come close to replicating.

From that point on, it was simply a matter of purchasing all Primus albums upon release, taking in as many Primus shows as possible (my first one being on August 1, 1991, at the Marquee in NYC), and turning on as many friends as possible to one of my instantly favorite bands.

Hopefully Over the Electric Grapevine will help put Primus and Mr. Claypool’s career in proper perspective for both newcomers and diehards.

Fish on!

Greg Prato


GREG PRATO is a Long Island–based music journalist, whose writing has appeared in Rolling Stone. He is the author of numerous books, including A Devil on One Shoulder and an Angel on the Other: The Story of Shannon Hoon and Blind Melon, Grunge Is Dead: The Oral History of Seattle Rock Music, and MTV Ruled the World: The Early Years of Music Video. He is the coauthor, with Primus, of Primus, Over the Electric Grapevine: Insight into Primus and the World of Les Claypool.

Posted: Sep 17, 2014

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