Alive After Five: Bill Kirchen with A.K.A. Belle


Bill Kirchen may not sound like a typical rock star name, but don’t be fooled.

The 63-year-old Kirchen has been playing for more than 40 years alongside some of the greatest artists in country. After becoming inspired by the folk scene in 1960s New York, Kirchen traded his trombone for a Fender Telecaster and never looked back. The talented guitarist spent the late '60s and early '70s as lead guitarist for Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen, who had a Top 10 hit with “Hot Rod Lincoln" in 1972.

“We were mining boogie-woogie from the '40s, hard blood-and-guts country from the '50s ... writing our own material and playing rock 'n' roll and rockabilly …” said Kirchen in an interview with NPR about his time with Commander Cody.

The sizzling rock and honky-tonk sound of “Hot Rod Lincoln” exemplifies much of the sound that Kirchen would continue to play for years to come. Kirchen is sometimes hailed as the King of Diesel Billy and the Titan of the Telecaster and his most recent album, Word To The Wise (Proper Records), features duets with likes of Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe to name a few.

Kirchen will be on stage for Alive After Five and you can expect to see him playing the same Telecaster he has played for the last 40 years.

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