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Ernie Brooks

Ernie BrooksBorn: ?

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Bassist

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Ex-Bassist for The Modern Lovers

An active yet not-widely-known figure in the development of the punk/new-wave movement of the mid 70s, most of Ernie Brooks' post-high school musical adventures were done in collaboration with future Talking Heads keyboardist Jerry Harrison. Brooks met Harrison while both were attending Harvard in the final years of the 1960s, at which time they became members of Albatross, a ensemble that alternated Jimi Hendrix and Steve Miller covers with a handful of original numbers. Albatross dissolved during the summer break of 1969, but a few months later the two musicians found themselves working together once again in Catfish Black. With this band a more serious attempt to turn professional was made, but their public appearances never extended far beyond the school dances and parties that had been the purlieu of Albatross. Brooks was ejected from the Catfish after a year (apparently due to an excessively relaxed attitude towards remembering his parts), and took Harrison with him to create the extremely short-lived unit The Eagles (not that one, of course).

A breakthrough for both musicial travellers (although not without its complications) finally arrived in 1971, when Brooks was invited to join The Modern Lovers by oddball performer Jonathan Richman. Harrison's membership followed a week later. The band developed a considerable following during its three years of existence, and has since been generally credited as an important influence on the soon-to-emerge punk/new-wave movement (The Sex Pistols would cover their song Road Runner on the album The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle in 1979, for instance). However, despite a demo session produced by former The Velvet Underground member John Cale and interest from both Warner Brothers and A&M Records, this first incarnation of The Modern Lovers never materialized on record until two years after it ceased to exist, when the band's demo recordings were cobbled together into a self-titled release on Beserkley Records. Frustrated by Richman's difficult behavior, both Brooks and Harrison left the band early in 1974 -- ironically, right at the end of a particularly well-received performance.

After his tenure with The Modern Lovers, Brooks began an enduring musical collaboration with singer/songwriter Elliott Murphy, adding bass to his third album Night Lights (1976); he would subsequently appear on the majority of Murphy's releases throughout the next 3 decades. In the 1980s he also contributed Peter Gordon's Extended Niceties (1980) with The Love Life Orchestra, David Johansen's Here Comes the Night (1982), and Arthur Russell's Instrumentals (1984) and World of Echo (1986). In 1990 he became a member of Jerry Harrison's band for Harrison's 3rd solo release Walk on Water and its associated tour; Harrison would return the favor four years later by adding keyboards to Brooks' solo album Falling, They Get You. That same year he initiated another important partnership with former Captain Beefheart guitarist Gary Lucas, becoming a member of Gods and Monsters, an outfit Lucas formed in 1989 and whose membership at times had included vocalists Jeff Buckley and Matthew Sweet. Along with his continued work with Lucas and Murphy, in the 00s Brooks maintained an active collaboration with trombonist Peter Zummo.

Girlfriend: Suzie Adams

    University: Harvard University

    Catfish Black Bassist (1969-70)
    The Modern Lovers Bassist (1971-74)
    Elliott Murphy Bassist (1976-)
    David Johansen Bassist (1982)
    Jerry Harrison Bassist (1990)
    Gods and Monsters Bassist (1994-)
    Gary Lucas Bassist (1994-)
    Ernie Brooks


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