Whitey Morgan’s new album with his band The 78’s is “Hard Times and White Lines.” (Courtesy Michael Mesfoto)

Whitey Morgan’s new album with his band The 78’s is “Hard Times and White Lines.” (Courtesy Michael Mesfoto)

Honky-tonk Whitey Morgan fuels with alcohol


Outside of old “Leave it to Beaver” reruns and Boston police reports, one rarely hears the name Whitey these days. But grizzly singer-guitarist Eric Allen, a native of Flint, Mich., had his reasons for choosing the name Whitey Morgan for his honky-tonk stage persona in 2005. Whitey was his basketball nickname at his mostly-black elementary school (he took it in good humor) and Morgan was the last name of his late grandfather, who changed his life when he willed him his guitar and vintage country and Western record collection. “Let’s face it — Eric Allen is just not a very good stage name. But Whitey sounds like some kid from the ‘50s, some knucklehead from down the street,” says Morgan, who fronts the bluesy band The 78’s. Their fourth album “Hard Times and White Lines” was released in October.

There’s just something special about hailing from the Midwest, right? Something honest, down to earth?

I’ve tried to explain that to people, and I don’t even know if I have an explanation. It’s just … different. Different growing up here. People are so geared toward working hard. If you want it, you’d better be prepared to work for it, so don’t get any attitude. And growing up, there was a really good touring scene. I was going out to see bands I’d never even heard of. I only knew they were from New York.

As a kid in Indiana, we didn’t understand when punk rock came along, why you had to give up on the heavy metal you liked the day before.

You’re right. The coasts were so hard-core, you had to be all in. You couldn’t still listen to “Highway to Hell” and love it. And just like in the sitcoms, I had older sisters, and they were big-time into AC/DC and all the stoner rock, so I, of course, was inundated with that. Then my dad was into Seger and Nugent, so I was hit hard with that, too, while my mom was into cool chick rock, like Stevie Nicks and Heart. Then my grandpa was forcing me to listen to bluegrass when I was 10 years old. But that’s how I ended up this way — I’ve got a hell of a lot of influences.

What’s the difference between Eric and Whitey?

The easy answer? Alcohol. It changes me, and it has to. So I haven’t played a show sober since I was 26 years old, and I’m 42 now. In my early 20s, I never got into drinking. But once I got my heart broken, I realized that I actually enjoyed it.

IF YOU GO
Whitey Morgan and the 78’s
Where: Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell St., S.F.
When: 9 p.m. Nov. 30
Tickets: $25
Contact: (415) 885-0750, www.slimspresents.com

Eric AllenFlintHard Times and White LinesHonky TonkPop MusicWhitey Morgan and The 78’s

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Ali Jamalian, whose life was disrupted in the wake of being charged with possession decades ago, now heads up Sunset Connect, a cannabis manufacturing company. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Green Rush: Cannabis equity program elevates unexpected entrepreneurs

‘It’s a form of reparations for those of us who were ruined by cannabis arrest’

The Giants and Dodgers face each other again following a May series the Dodgers swept; Dodgers shortstop Gavin Lux caught stealing by Giants second baseman Donovan Solano at Oracle Park on May 23 is pictured. 
Chris Victorio/
Special to The Examiner
Giants vs. Dodgers: What you need to know before this week’s huge series

By Chris Haft Special to The Examiner That grinding noise you’ll hear… Continue reading

San Francisco supervisors approved zoning changes that will allow a chain grocery store to occupy the bottom floor of the 555 Fulton St. condo building. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Trader Joe’s approved for Hayes Valley, bringing long-awaited grocery store

New Seasons Market canceled plans at 555 Fulton St. citing construction delays

Most Read