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Re: Randy Cierley-Sterling, 1942 - March 2018
Odd that this should come up now in the thread below. Randy Cierley-Sterling's name popped up in some thread I was following on FaceBook maybe 8 or 9 years ago, and I immediately messaged him to see if he was the same person who had been credited as a musician and arranger on 4 of the 12 songs on the Somethin' Else album. He replied that yes he was, and we struck up a correspondence on FB and via email for about a year.
His real name was Cierley, but he explained that since it was hard to pronounce correctly he adopted the stage name of Sterling during those 1965 KT sessions. Later, to avoid confusion and to insure that he could be found on FB and the net in general, he changed his legal name to an amalgamation of both names that he had recorded under.
He was a genial and friendly correspondent, quite open about the harrowing nightmare that the first half of his life had been, due largely to drugs and other forms of personal excess. He had gone into great detail about all of this on his website, which unfortunately since his death a few months ago has been taken down.
Some of this appears in Cierley's obituary, which mentions the KT bruefly but does detail some of his other achievements in music. Note the all-star lineup of great musicians with whom he recorded:
Randy Cierley's Obit
One salient fact that Randy communicated to me was that he really enjoyed working with the KT on Somethin' Else , and he noted that NBJ were enthusiastic about the project and really felt that they were taking the KT in a new direction. We all know how that turned out.
I put some of this in a pretty short article on CV101 from 6 years ago. It's worth a look, I think, because it has background on two of my favorite late NBJ tracks, "Red River Shore" and "Hannah Lee."
CV101 on Those Songs"
If you listen to the Norman Luboff Choir version of "Shore," you'll see how radically Cierley and NBJ (as Jack Splittard) altered the song, mostly for the better I think. I asked Randy as I speculated in the article if the Trio was trying to catch on to the success of Marty Robbins' "El Paso," whose plot is virtually identical to that of the revamped "Shore" (and which the Trio had clearly attempted in '63 with "Adios, Farewell" from New Frontier ). He replied that he didn't think so and that the KT just liked the tune and wanted a Stewart-narrated tune like "RMB" and "Desert Pete."
Cierley also worked closely with Stewart on the notorious "Verandah of Millium August" (a misfired attempt to satirize Bob Dylan's songwriting) and "Go Tell Roger," a self-conscious attempt to be charming and nostalgic that indicated to me just how far Stewart had to go to become a consistently good songwriter. He also gets credit for reworking Mose Allison's version of Bukka White's "Parchment/Parchman Farm Blues."
Though Cierley's career never reached the high-profile success of fellow Trio contributor Mason Williams or Bob Gibson's acolyte and partner Bob/Hamilton Camp, he had a pretty up-and-walkin'-good run in the music biz.