Chicago’s Cryan’ Shames have long been known for their incredible harmonies, but they’ve also had incredible bass players in their line-ups, including Dave Purple and Isaac Guillory.
And the stories behind those two bassists are equally incredible….
Unfortunately, Purple and Guillory are no longer here to tell their stories, however Tom Doody, The Shames’ lead singer is alive and well- and he has shared his insights.
Among the aspects that make Tom’s perspective so intriguing is that he firmly believes that the bass propels what the singer sings and is in tune with the melody of the song, to the extent that Tom can easily hum the bass line of every song the Shames ever played, original or cover!
Dave “Grape” Purple was a classical keyboardist. He first picked up his brother’s bass a day before his audition with the Shames. With a melodic approach to the instrument, he nailed the audition and less than seven months later, Dave was recording songs with driving passages on his Hofner violin bass.
Check out the band’s first LP on Columbia Records entitled Sugar & Spice and the ascending and descending bass melodicism on tracks including “Sugar and Spice, “I Wanna Meet You,” and the driving grit of “Ben Franklin’s Almanac.”
However the stress of touring was more than Dave wanted to endure, and he left the band following their debut release.
Yet Purple forged a successful career as a recording engineer with the Stax / Volt recording studios, working with numerous soul greats. Dave earned a Grammy Award for his engineering on Isaac Hayes’ legendary Shaft LP.
Needing a replacement fast, Tom thought Isaac Guillory would fit the bill!
Though Guillory is pictured here with a Fender Telecaster bass, check out Isaac’s lines which were rendered on a Guild hollow-body, propelling “A Carol for Lorelei,” “Mr. Unreliable” and the beauty of “I Was Lonely When.”
According to Tom, in addition to being fine musicians “Grape” and Isaac were great people, and it was great to have them as part of the Shames’ family.
Coda: Big thanks to Tom Doody for sharing this information with us, and you can still catch the Cryan’ Shames as part of the Cornerstones of Rock show featuring many of the Chicago 60’s bands, as well as performing individual shows.