The onstage antics of the Reverend Horton Heat, aka Jim Heath and his band, have become legend over the past 20 years, ever since the good reverend first took to the streets of Dallas at age 17, picking guitar and hustling pool. His sound over the years has been referred to as rockabilly, psychobilly and possibly most aptly, country-flavored punkabilly.
Whatever you call it, it's loud and raucous and it honors the sensibilities of the reverend's musical hero, Jerry Lee Lewis, while appealing to a more underground crowd. Reverend Horton Heat was scheduled to appear at 32 Bleu this Saturday, but the band's management cancelled that show due to what they refer to as "breach of contract" on the part of the venue. A show has been booked at Denver's Lion's Lair for Jan. 8.
The Independent caught up with Rev. Heat on New Year's Eve with a few questions.
Indy: You attract some crazy fans to your shows. Is it true that a leg was thrown onto the stage at a show?
Rev. Horton Heat: Yeah, an artificial limb with a tennis shoe on. Artificial limbs, we've seen it all -- the bunny rabbits, panties, bras, all sorts of stuff. It's not something we encourage at all. We have to encourage people to behave.
Indy: What did you do with the leg?
RHH: One of the road guys came out, grabbed it and gave it back to the guy after the show.
Indy: You played with blues legend Screaming Jay Hawkins. What was it like to work with him?
RHH: I always loved the song "I Put a Spell on You;" that's one of the classics. Anybody that's into the '50s loves that. It's right up my alley. The coolest gig with him was at the Prophet Bar in Dallas. He comes out in the casket and he had Henry -- Henry is a real shrunken head from Africa that was brought over by his great-great grandfather.
Indy: So he was a bizarre fellow?
RHH: He did some bizarre stuff. He got off the plane in England and set his hair on fire.
Indy: He wasn't all there then?
RHH: He was just a showman. He was all there. He was just a maximum show guy. It's really odd to think that back in the '50s you've got all these little cute rock 'n' roll guys and all the sudden you've got Screaming Jay coming out of a coffin with a bone in his nose and a cape and a real shrunken head on a stick. It scared the hell out of parents back then. Screaming Jay was something else. So there you go.
Indy: Since Colorado Springs is a bit puritan and a little restrained, the evangelical capital of the country, what [would you have preached] in your concert here?
RHH: Huh. Colorado Springs is the evangelical capital of the country? That's interesting. I'd preach that you need a bigger arena. I don't know man. I don't do the preaching thing anymore. I'm just a rockabilly guitar picker. All that comedy stuff ... I used to do this whole sermon, I would tell this story [about] how I turned these people around, like I saved Michael Jackson's monkey Bubbles.
Indy: Can we expect a Heat Assembly of God Church after your performing days are over?
RHH: I'm going to buy an arena and turn it into a church. I'm also going to sell vitamins. No, I'm somewhat spiritual; I could describe myself as a Christian. I'm just not a very good one.
-- Aaron Menza
Reverend Horton Heat
Saturday, Jan. 8, ?? p.m.
Lion's Lair, 2022 E. Colfax Ave., Denver
$20, doors open at 8 p.m
Reverend Horton Heat's 32 Bleu show in Colorado Springs has been cancelled by the band's management. Direct inquiries to 955-5664.