5 minutes alone - Body Count's Ernie C: "Our most bizarre gig was playing a party for a Russian billionaire"

(Image credit: Mark Horton / Contributor / Getty)

Body Count guitarist Ernie C talks first guitars, fallen bandmates and producing Sabbath...

Got my first real six string

“My first guitar was a Teisco Del Rey. It was a cool guitar. Like every guitar back then it was cherry sunburst. I took everything off it and spray painted it white. The first good guitar I had was a left-handed Fender Mustang.”

Dream on

“My dream guitar was a Fender Strat; I bought an all-white one in 1976. My father would give me $1.25 a day for my lunch and my road manager would sell me a lunch ticket each day for a quarter. So I saved a dollar each day for that guitar. I bought it for $636. It was a lot of money when I was working a job at Kentucky Fried Chicken after school every day. I’m not a collector of guitars because I’m left handed.”

Just a castaway, an island lost at sea

“[If I were on a desert island] I would take a Schecter guitar, the model they have just made me. They are real simple. They just have an on/off switch. No volume, no tone, nothing. One EMG pickup and that’s it. I’d use a 5150 amp and a Dunlop wah pedal. I have used that rig before for an entire tour and my guitar tech would turn up the volume for my solos.”

Show me the way…

“I like John McLaughlin a whole lot. Sitting down for a lesson with him would be beyond me but I’d like to do it. I would have loved to have sat down with Stevie Ray Vaughan, he had a great feel for the guitar.”

Holidays in the sun

“The most bizarre gig we ever did, we played on Necker Island. It’s a private island owned by Richard Branson. We played a party for this Russian billionaire. There were 14 people with three bars, seven of his friends and seven girls. They helicoptered us in. He had KGB watching him. It was bizarre.”

I was built for speed

“I have awkward timing, so that is a weakness. My biggest strength is that I can play really fast. Even when I couldn’t play the notes I used to work on picking and that makes me sound faster than I am.”

I am Iron Man

Tony Iommi brought down the guitar one day that he used to record Iron Man and I played that guitar, I had a great time

“Forbidden [the 1995 Black Sabbath album produced by Ernie] has mixed reviews, but it’s a record without Ozzy or Dio so people will not like it just for that reason. Tony Martin sang on that one. Tony Iommi brought down the guitar one day that he used to record Iron Man and I played that guitar, I had a great time. Brian May came down to the studio and hung out with us, so did Jeff Beck. I was like, ‘What the hell?!’”

We’re here to stay

“People wrongly think that we’re just a back-up band for Ice. We’re a real band and we take it real serious.”

In my darkest hour

“We’ve lost guys in this band. We’ve had three guys pass away and then it was tough auditioning people to come into the band. Now we have healed and playing the old songs brings us good memories. We can have a good time playing those songs again. Losing guys back to back to back was tough.”

Cop Killer, but tonight we get even

“We weren’t acting with [Cop Killer]. We weren’t white guys from the suburbs saying, ‘cop killer’, we were a bunch of guys from South Central that had been harassed by the police and people got upset. That made it real.”

Body Count play European festivals, including the Download festival, in June.

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