SAE Institute Nashville Audio Technology Program co-chair Alan Shacklock performed along with his progressive rock band Babe Ruth at Summerfest, billed as “the world’s largest music festival”, on June 28. The show marked the first time that Babe Ruth performed live since a tour of Canada in 2010.
“The last time that Babe Ruth gigged in Milwaukee was back in the early 70s, and the groups that opened for us were a couple of up-and-comers called ZZ Top and Roxy Music,” says Shacklock, who has been a member of SAE Nashville’s faculty since 2007. “We hung out with some of our good friends at Summerfest who were also on the bill, including The Yardbirds and Michael McDonald.”
Summerfest organizers – who also happen to be fans of Babe Ruth – reached out to Shacklock via social media in 2013 to book them for the event. The band appeared with all five of its original members (Janita Haan/lead vocals, Dave Punshon/keyboards, Ed Spevock/drums, Dave Hewitt/bass, Shacklock/guitar and vocals), and will present a 90 minute show.
Babe Ruth is best known for their 1972 hit “The Mexican”, which Shacklock wrote and produced. The song happens to be one of the most important tracks in the history of hip-hop and breakdancing.
“’The Mexican’ was, and continues to be, a total enigma,” says Shacklock, who recorded the song at Abbey Road Studios in London. “I composed it while I was in my last year at the Royal Academy of Music in London where I was studying classical guitar and orchestration, and I put Babe Ruth together to try out my compositions. Our sound was a combination of classical music, Motown, Western film scores, and progressive rock, and we eventually got signed to Harvest Records, which was also the label for Pink Floyd and Electric Light Orchestra. The song’s success has been very flattering, and it’s been sampled legally and illegally more times than I know.”
Artists that have utilized “The Mexican” in their productions include Pete Rock, N.E.R.D., Sugar Ray, R. Kelly, The Prodigy, Helloween, Deekline, and Ghostface Killah. The song is regarded by international music critics and historians as being the defining anthem of breakdance/hip hop culture.
Along with his busy teaching schedule and duties at SAE Nashville, Shacklock is also setting up other concert appearances for Babe Ruth – including an arrangement for the band to play at the 2015 Isle of Wight festival in England.
“Each new semester, our incoming students are mesmerized by Alan’s industry connections, his accomplishments, and his credentials,” says SAE Institute Nashville Campus Director Lynn Dorton. “SAE’s ability to offer audio technology education that incorporates the real-world teachings, wisdom, and guidance of an educator such as Alan gives our students a huge advantage that will be valuable to them throughout their careers.”