Here's a question: what does Robert Nighthawk, Earl Hooker, Canned Heat and the Monkees have in common?
The answer is pianist Ernest Lane who's played with them all in a long and varied music career.
Growing up in Clarksdale, Mississippi, Ernest had the right background for a bluesman; his father was a barrelhouse pianist, his boyhood friend was Ike Turner and Pinetop Perkins was a family friend who showed the youngster a thing or two. Ike fell in love with the piano when he peered in at The King Biscuit Boys, featuring boogie pianist Joe Willie Pinetop Perkins, rehearsing in the basement of his buddy Ernest Lanes house.
When he was just a teenager, Lane hooked up with legendary slide guitarist Robert Nighthawk. Nighthawk eventually took him to Chicago where his solid piano work graced a number of sides cut for the Chess label in 1948-49. These cuts include the blues classic Sweet Black Angel. After Nighthawk Ernest played with Earl Hooker, Houston Stackhouse and others before heading to the California in 1956.
After arriving in California, Lane worked with Jimmy Nolen and George Harmonica Smith before being recruited by old buddy Ike Turner to be a member of the Ike and Tina Turner Revue.
After leaving Ike, Ernest joined a group called the Goodtimers, who eventually wound up backing the Monkees for about a year on tour. Through the late 1960's through the early 1970's he played and recorded for Canned Heat before giving up music altogether until 1999, when Ernest performed again with Ike Turner's Kings Of Rhythm Band until his Ike's death in 2007.
Ernest Lane has since released two CDs. "The Blues Is Back" and "Born With The Blues" are both available here, directly from the artist.