THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 29 june 2003



The 6th annual Harelbeke Rock &  Blues Festival took place on June 27 th & 28th, 2003.

Hereunder is a report of what happened on the second day.

The original bill included Giles, Rob Tognoni, Michelle White, Rick Vito & The Lucky Devils, Eric Burdon & The New Animals, and Dave Edmunds.

We were lucky enough to have a backstage and VIP access, so as Byrds Flyght’s webmaster, we had every reason to attend the perfomances, and particularly Rick Vito’s show, as Rick was a member of Roger McGuinn’s Thunderbyrd in 1977.

Dave Edmunds having dropped out, Fisher Z replaced him. The playing order was modified, and Rick Vito ended up top of the bill.

First to play was British blues outfit Giles, then Rob Tognoni from Australia, followed by Fisher Z. All those bands played well and were very competent, but not really our cup of tea.

Michelle White was next. Although Clarence White’s daughter is called Michelle as well, the lady appearing here was actually Tony Joe White’s daughter. Nice looking, great singer, great showwoman, singer-songwriter and also playing guitar and electric piano, she also was very simple and kind before and after the show, talking to us and having lots of pictures taken.

Next on stage were Eric Burdon and The Animals. What can we say? The man is a living legend. He knows how to rock an audience and has lost nothing of his powerful, soulful voice. The show was a live rendition of his greatest hits. But although we were among the lucky few who managed to have him sign some items, his attitude towards the fans was on the opposite side, when compared to all the other performers. For instance, he became angry at the audience when people took pictures during his performance. Then, during the drum solo break, he came backstage during a couple of minutes, and when a fan sked him “Eric, see you after the show for an autograph?”, the answer was a loud “yeah, f… you”. No need to say that he was not available for any talk after the show, although he was there at the table next to us. We were not even able to tell him how much someone we know in the USA likes his music. We told his bass player that we attended a perfomance by the “other” Animals group, and that their singer was Eric’s vocal clone. The musician then turned his head towards the guitar player, and said: “We should hire HIM”.

Finally, Rick Vito took the stage. Playing bass with him was Charlie Harrison, also an ex-member of Thunderbyrd, who also played and recorded with Poco (5 albums) and Rod Stewart. Everyone immediately heard that Rick was by far the best guitar player appearing on stage at this festival. It is not obvious to front an audience just after Eric Burdon, but after a couple of numbers only, he managed to have the crowd cheering him and the band. He didn’t play any song from his McGuinn era, but when introducing the band, he said he first started playing with Charlie Harrison in 1977, with Roger McGuinn’s Thunderbyrd. Rick ended the festival (and his current tour) on a high note, being the only act to be called back twice for an encore.

We managed to talk to Rick and Charlie and asked them some (Thunder)byrds-related questions. You can read some of their answers hereunder. We later had a lengthy conversation with Charlie, mostly about general topics and  the record business, and life in general; there were no specific questions asked (except for a couple).

RV initials hereunder mean Rick Vito (not webmaster Raoul V.) and CH means Charlie Harrison (not Chris Hillman).

Byrds Flyght: What are your feelings about the time you spent with Roger McGuinn?

Rick Vito: Thunderbyrd was an excellent band; unfortunately, it never took off in the US as far as sales were concerned, and we didn’t manage to record a second album. Have you talked to Charlie yet? He played bass in Thunderbyrd.

BF: I have seen him, but not talked to him yet. A song from the Thunderbyrd era, titled “Shoot ‘em”, was recently released on a Byrds related CD called Byrds Parts II. Was this track recorded with Thunderbyrd?

RV: Yes, we did it with Thunderbyrd, but the studio version was recorded after the original LP came out. It was recorded at a later session.

BF: A song you wrote, called “Surrender To Me”, appears on McGuinn, Clark & Hillman’s first LP, but you don’t play on that album. Was this song submitted for the Thunderbyrd LP, and rejected?

RV: No, it was also written at a later stage, not for the original Thunderbyd record.

BF: Do you still see and hear from Greg Thomas (Thunderbyrd’s drummer)?

RV: Yes, we see each other from time to time. Actually, Greg plays on my recently released new CD called Band-Box-Boogie. This CD and my previously released CDs are available from

BF: I remember watching and taping Thunderbyrd’s performance in 1977, at the first Rockpalast Festival, broadcast live by German TV. What are your memories from that concert?

RV: It's funny how that Rockpalast show keeps being mentioned to me by different people in Europe. I think the performance must have made a good impression, but I did not realize this until recently. Someone sent me a video of it this year. We look so young! At the time we  were onstage, I thought we sounded horrible, but it was not bad at all really, just a few mistakes here and there. Thunderbyrd made no impression on the American public and went largely unnoticed. Too bad.

BF: I remember, on the same bill that night, were Little Feat and Rory Gallagher. Sam Clayton (from Little Feat) joined Thunderbyrd on stage during most of the performance.

Charlie Harrison: Yes, Sam asked Roger if he could join us and play with us; of course we were delighted that he did.

BF: This morning, I tried to access your website at but it leads to nowhere.

CH: WHAT? I don't have a website! I don't even have a computer yet; I intend to buy one in a couple of weeks and go online.

BF: Well I did find a link to a Charlie Harrison website. It referred to Charlie Harrison from Poco. So I thought it was your website.

CH: Thanks for making me aware of that; I'll investigate it as soon as possible

BF (to RV): As far as guitar players are concerned, there hardly was competition tonight. Everyone agrees that you were not only top of the bill, but also the best guitar player tonight.

RV & CH: Thanks, we're glad you enjoyed the show.

BF: Thanks to both of you for your time.










THUNDERBYRD self titled CD artwork signed by Rick Vito and Charlie Harrison


THUNDERBYRD unofficial CD SHABO INN artwork signed by Rick Vito and Charlie Harrison


THUNDERBYRD unofficial CD ROCKPALAST FESTIVAL artwork signed by Rick Vito and Charlie Harrison


THREE BYRDS LAND IN LONDON CD artwork signed by Rick Vito and Charlie Harrison


LIVE 2002 CD artwork signed by Eric Burdon


 PICTURES (stage)









 PICTURES (backstage)

MICHELLE WHITE (minutes before she went on stage)



MICHELLE WHITE being interviewed for a local French TV station after the show


MICHELLE WHITE with webmaster after the concert

RICK VITO (before the performance)


RICK VITO with webmaster (after the performance)


CHARLIE HARRISON before the performance (showing the items he just signed for the webmaster)


webmaster with CHARLIE HARRISON before the concert


Sincere Thanks to ERIC HAUTEKEETE

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