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Durious Montgomery
By David Beardsley

Are you a native St. Louisian?

DM: Yes, I was born at Homer G. Phillips hospital.

BN: Have you always lived here?

DM: As long as I've been here (laughs). I started traveling when I was 14 years old, and primarily, until 1993, I've been living out of a suitcase.

BN: When did you first decide that music was your calling?

DM: That's a good question! I knew I was a musician and nothing else when I was about 25. I knew I always wanted to do this, even as a child of 5, I played piano then. I used to sit up and watch the entertainers on television, and I would sit back and dream that it was me up on stage acting out or playing with them. So I've always had that in me. I used to pick up albums of Chuck Berry in his early days, and I would look at them, and I would dream, you know. I never thought that one day I'd get to play with him and do work with him. So it's always been there, you know, for me. And when I really knew I was a musician, that I was born to do this, I guess I was around 25 or 26. I could do other things, I had other talents. I love medicine; I love law, a lot of things. But every time I would venture into something, I was never happy doing it, I would always come back to the music. So at that point I made up my mind, this is what I am; this is what I'm going to be.

BN: Who were some of your inspirations in music?

DM: Everybody was my inspiration. Everybody! Because they all were different. They all were good, and they all had something to say, they were unique, you know, in what they gave. So I loved everybody, and I learned from each individual.

BN: Over the years you've traveled quite a bit with your music. Who are some of the memorable names you've played with over the years?

DM: I traveled with Parliament Funkadelics for a little bit, I was kind of a hired gun. I traveled with Natalie Cole, Lou Rawls. I did a few things with Rare Earth. Ooh, man.....Charles Drain, who was a native St. Louisian, during the 70's, he was with RCA at the time I was with him, that was around 1976. So many different artists, and I mean local artists, I've been here with just about everybody that you can think of. I used to work in a lot of the studios, writing and doing material for various artists. A lot of major studios will subsidiaries, or they'll have little small studios that they give grants or funds to. What their jobs are basically is to weed out all the talent, and when they do, they put together a little project on them. Then they send that material off to the mother studios. A lot of time, if the act is good enough, they sign the act on, or they'll take the material and they'll shop it in the industry for a known artist to do the material. Once they find an artist that fits that material, then it takes off. Hopefully, if you're the writer of that, you hope somebody at the time, like the Commodores...they were real strong at the time, or some of the others, you hope somebody like this picks your material up.

BN: Over the years, you've been involved in recordings.Tell us about some of them!

DM: I've been involved with many, many recordings for various artists. I've done commercials; I was involved in and co-wrote the Skate King commercial. Been involved with Millers beer, Coors beer, I was even involved with Bi-State. At one time they were thinking of changing their "Bi-State going your way" jingle. Just a numerous amount of things. I've done television shows and cable; I've been on every station here in Missouri. I've had endorsements from companies for equipment (laughs), a lot as I look back.

BN: Looking back at your history, what stands out as some of your best moments?

DM: There's been hard times and difficult situations, but I can honestly say I've never had a bad moment. I've loved this since I was a child, and if I had it to do all over again, I'd do it in a heartbeat, no questions asked. I've met some incredible people; I mean incredible people....genius, basically! I'm very, very honored to have performed with and to have met some of the people of our time, who gave us so much. So I mean it's been just great for me, I couldn't have asked for anything more. It has taught me, and it's well educated me. I got my college education kind of in parts you know. I'd go on the road, for a while, then I'd come back and get a little bit more education under my belt.... enough to prepare me for the next two or three steps, and then I'd go back out (laughs). But nothing can compare to the education I've got from traveling on the road. I've been on both sides of the fence.....where decisions were made, and on the side where decisions were handed down to us.

BN: Where have some of your travels taken you?

DM: All over the world! All parts of Europe, I've never been to Africa though. England, France...all over, and of course all over the United States. You're never in one place long enough to get bored with anything. You're in a town for a couple of weeks, you perform, you meet some friends, and you see a few sights...when they let you! You're like an investment, especially on some of the million dollar projects, the security is tight, and they won't let you out of their sight. You know, you're there, meet a few friends, and (snaps his fingers) you're gone again, off to someplace else. I loved it all, there was no state that I found boring, or didn't like.

BN: Locally, there's a lot of musicians that look up to you, and that have been inspired by you. How do you feel about the state of the Blues music scene here in St. Louis?

DM: The musicians are all good. I'm honored that they even think of me in that way. I learn from them and the people I'm around. I guess I'm kind of a musical "spokes" for all the people I've come in contact with, cause I've learned something from everybody. I can say this....the musicians here are among some of the greatest, and it's bad that the industry is not here to actually promote them. If someone would actually just spend the time and just sit down and look at St. Louis and really invest, they'd be amazed at the gold mine of talent that's here. I've always thought of St. Louis as a training camp for musicians. You learn here, and believe me, what you learn, it will take you anywhere in the world. I'm a witness to that.

BN: You're somewhat of a multi-instrumentalist. What instruments do you play?

DM: I (laughs), I was keeping that a secret for a long time. I play basically about 17 different instruments. I play all percussion instruments, keyboard instruments, stringed instruments. The only thing I never did was woodwind instruments, you know, horns and brass. That was only because they were never around me, so I never did. I play all keyboard instruments. Now people say, " if you can play one, you can play the other", but it's the concept that's different. Piano is played completely different from organ or synthesized piano. It's like the concept of violin as a stringed instrument compared to guitar or bass guitar or to even bass cello. I pretty much control the rhythm section BN: I understand that you have two doctors up in New York that are willing to donate their services for your needed operation. Is your goal to still get to New York?

DM: That's still the goal. The hardest thing for me for the past two years has been going through the bureaucratic red tape. They really need to revamp the medical system here. Through Gods grace I've got a couple of doctors in New York that heard my story a few years ago from the Rhythm & Blues Foundation in Washington, D.C. They agreed to donate the surgery to me, and the Rhythm & Blues Foundation is behind me 100% in helping me to get there. It's just that there's a few guidelines I have to go through with Medicaid insurance here, and believe me, it's very, very difficult. If it wasn't for that, I'd have gone a long time ago. So it makes it hard, since I don't have an income, just to pay bills and stuff, you know, just to keep myself afloat until I can go up there. Now it's delayed again, and I just hope to God that I can get up there as soon as possible, before things become worse for me physically and I can't even make the trip.

BN: We in the Blues Society hope that this article can help. We want to thank you for inviting us into your home, and for granting this interview. We really appreciate it!!

DM: You're welcome.

Sadly, since this interview was granted, Durious Montgomery finally succumbed to his illnesses. We are all blessed to have had the light from this talented man shine upon us, even though it was all too briefly. Durious, we love and miss you may your music be eternal.

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