Cliff Goodwin

Cliff Goodwin
Super six-stringer Cliff Goodwin was born in Worcester, MA on August 4th, 1953; and his father played sax and piano. His early influences initially included The Beatles but he  quickly discovered the British blues scene: Clapton, Beck, and Page, and these great guitarists set the stage for his colossal career in music.
By the time Cliff was in the seventh grade, at thirteen years old, he formed a Beatles-inspired band, The Exit Left, and a little later The End, with their sixties inspired r&b, Appleton’s Journal, with their English r&b sound, and then Albatross with their Americana style: where Goodwin became a local legend.  His next band, the Worcester based American Standard Band, was chosen by English singer Joe Cocker, in 1976, as his touring and recording band. Cliff stayed with Cocker for twelve years, touring the biggest stages around the world, and playing on Cocker hits ‘Shelter Me,’ ‘Leave Your Hat On,’ ‘Fun Time’ and ‘Up Where We Belong.’ Cliff notes: ‘My time with Joe, almost a dozen years, was immeasurable. Most of all he taught us how to “serve the song.”  So so true. That is why we are here…it is all about the song! That doctrine  has been a foundation to everything I play.’ In between tours with Cocker, Goodwin was picked by Robert Palmer for his ‘Secrets’ album and contributed to Palmer’s biggest hit ‘Bad Case Of Loving You (Doctor Doctor)’. On the local level, Cliff and Jon Butcher started trading licks. ‘I was there almost at the beginning of “Axis” and we had so much fun. There was never a dull moment with Jon, Chris (Martin) and Derek (Blevins).’
At this point, he decided life at home beat a continuous life on the road. ‘First of all the road wasn’t a grind,’ he remembers, ‘it was an alternate parallel universe. And in some ways not based in normal reality…every day is the same yet different….the same by way of the music and fantastic experience and different in that it was a new country or continent. All very good…but very fast moving.’ Nowadays, Goodwin  plays in small venues around New England with Christine Ohlman and Rebel Montez, The Mohegan Sun All-Stars, sometimes with James Montgomery, and in The Silverbacks; with Mike Lynch, Jim Perry (from Albatross), Deric Dyer (from Joe Cocker’s band), Glenn D’tomasso  and Bill Macgilvray (from his early Worcester days). From huge arenas to small venues. Cliff comments: ‘arenas and stadiums are quite an odd animal. Fun yes, but difficult to reach all the people. One thing you never realize until you experience it is that the sound of eighty to one hundred thousand people simply breathing is really loud. The best gigs are theatres of about three to five thousand. You can touch every one of them especially with ballads; and that was Joe’s strength. With the smaller bar gigs; those can be a real blast cause you are ALL in the same swimming pool so to speak. Much more intimate.’
In 2015, this veteran performer started talking to many friends in the Goodwin universe about wanting to do his own recording with a number of the great musicians he has worked with over the years. Getting together with bassist David Hull (Joe Perry Project, James Montgomery Band) and Grammy Award winning engineer Ducky Carlisle, his solo album ‘Cliff Goodwin: Rhythm And Blues Union’ was released in the Spring of 2018. Goodwin plays lead, slide, and acoustic guitar and has Dyer, Jon Butcher, blues harp ace James Montgomery and former Cocker back up vocalist Ann Lang adding their tremendous talents to the mix.
In 2016, Goodwin and former Cocker band mate Derek Dyer talked about their shared desire to do something to celebrate Cocker’s legacy following the singer’s death in 2014; and they formed Mad Dogs Unchained, and toured Europe for a month. The group released a CD and a live DVD and are planning on going back to Europe in the near future. Cliff has always been an in demand session player and he just did guitars on some new material from sixties folk rock band Orpheus. Goodwin: ‘It’s not about the size of the joint, it’s about doing what you love. And I have been blessed beyond belief to make a living doing just that, surrounded by friends and family, here at home.’


*American Standard Band– ‘LP !’ – Island Records   1976

*Joe Cocker– ‘Luxury You Can Afford’ – Electra Asylum Records  1978
*American Standard Band– ‘LP 2’ – Island Records    1979

*Robert Palmer– ‘Secrets’-  Island Records     1979
Joe Cocker– ‘Live albums’  Tokyo, Berlin, NYC, Sydney
     -Berlin- Liberation Records 1980
     -NYC- Liberation Records 1981
     -Tokyo/Sydney- Liberation Records 1990
Joe Cocker– ‘Cocker’- Capitol Records 1986
New City Rockers–  ‘self titled’ – Atlantic Records   1988
*Joe Cocker– ‘The Best of Joe Cocker’- Capitol Records 1992
Joe Cocker– ‘The Anthology’- A&M Records 1999
Mohegan Sun All-Stars- ‘Live at The Wolf Den’    2001
*Joe Cocker– ‘Standing Here’ – Fruit Tree Records    2001
*Joe Cocker- ‘The Ultimate Collection’- Hip-O /A&M Records 2004
* Joe Cocker– ‘Gold’- Hip-O/A&M Records 2006
Christine Ohlman & Rebel Montez– ‘Re-Hive’-   HMG Records  2008
 *Christine Ohlman & Rebel Montez– ‘The Deep End’- HMG Records    2009
Deric Dyer- ‘Renaissance Man’- Delboy Records         2012
*The Andrew Loog Oldham Orchestra– ‘Vol. 2’   2013
*James Montgomery Band– ‘Live At The Larcom’    2015
Cliff Goodwin– ‘Rhythm & Blues Union’-  C.G.Records 2018
* Air Studios, London
* Criteria, Miami
* A&M Studio, Los Angeles
* Compass Point, Nassau
* Ardent Studio, Memphis
* Power Station, NYC
(by A.J. Wachtel)
Published On: July 9, 2019