Rocky Athas: Livin’ My Best Life Review

Rocky Athas is a virtuoso blues rock musician who has played lead guitar in bands ranging from Black Oak Arkansas to John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. At the same time he’s also collaborated with legendary artists like Buddy Miles, Glenn Hughes, and Double Trouble along with releasing solo albums over the past four decades. His most recent release is Livin’ My Best Life which is made up of five original compositions and five covers. The band is made up of Rocky Athas (lead guitar), Jared Watson – (rhythm guitar & backing vocals), Walter Watson (drums, percussion & lead vocals), Rocky Athas II (bass guitar), John Mayall (harmonica), Ruf Rufner, Charlie Ferguson & Jessica Athas (keyboards). Rocky Athas produced the album with musician/engineer Walter Watson at Walter Hill Studios in Grand Prairie, Texas on “Cherryburst Records.”

The first cut is the title song “Livin’ My Best Life” which was conceived during the pandemic lockdown when everything was shut down. The song was co-written by Rocky Athas, Walter Watson, and Jessica Athas with a fast-moving urgency “to get on with your life in a positive direction.” The song opens to a rocking wild guitar introduction before Walter Watson begins singing between guitar peals. The driving guitar coupled with throaty vocals that alternate with Rocky’s screaming axe creates a driving rhythm until it all explodes. Rocky and Walter composed “Only in My Dreams” as a song that deals with something that you dream of having but do not. The song opens with Rocky’s slide guitar as Watson’s vocals follow in an ongoing exchange between guitar and vocals until it all culminates into a driving rhythm that drones into oblivion. While the band was in the process of recording Livin’ My Best Life Jeff Beck passed away. Rocky wanted to do a tribute song to Beck the guitar innovator and recorded “Black Cat Moan” using his vintage Vox wah wah pedal with pulsating precision. The song was written by Don Nix in 1973 and was recorded by Beck, Bogart & Appice the short lived supergroup for their self-titled debut album in 1973. 

“Going back to Memphis

Cause that’s where I want to be

Got the black cat moan”

This is an Athas/Walter composition but this time it’s a keep on trucking admonition given as parental advice. Walter’s raspy vocals sing about “Dark Days, Black Nights” while Rocky dazzles on his six string with dexterous proficiency alongside Rocky II thumping it out on his bass in a duet. Sad Affairs opens with a sweet guitar solo by Rocky that leads into Walter Watson’s plaintiff vocals singing that “he ain’t gonna cry no more.”The tune is a slow burning torch song that concludes with Rocky passionately playing stratospheric guitar peals. The song is another Athas/Watson composition about broken hearted love that will eventually heal when finally making the right connection. “Long Grey Mare” is a “Fleetwood Mac” cover written and performed by Peter Green on the band’s eponymous debut album released back in 1968. Rocky’s version is nearly a minute longer than Green’s and the harmonica is performed by John Mayall who was both Green and Athas’ boss at one time.

“Long grey mare, why can’t we be just like before

We used to ride so hard until we couldn’t ride no more”

“Watching the River Flow” was originally written and released by Bob Dylan as a single in 1971 and was included on Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits Vol. II released the same year. Dylan’s version is piano driven and was composed during his country and western period that began with John Wesley Harding in 1968 and ended with the release of Dylan in 1973. Rocky’s version is true to the original but replaces the piano with his 1972 Gibson Les Paul Standard Gold Top and his Epiphone Les Paul Standard guitar while Watson vocalizes the lyrics with a flippancy comparable to Dylan’s dirge.

“People disagreeing everywhere you look

Makes you want to stop and read a book”

“Solid Ground” was composed by Rocky Athas and Walter Watson and has a spiritual connotation with a Biblical reference to a good foundation to build your life on. The song opens with a meditative beat accompanied by Rocky’s dexterous guitar runs accompanied by both Watsons providing the lead and chorus vocals. Rocky pulls out all the stops as he shreds his guitar with screaming sonic peals in an amazing cover of “Walk In My Shadow” by Free from their 1969 debut album Tons of Sobs. The cut opens with driving drums and is filled with sonically screaming guitar runs that the rest of the band joins in on sandwiched by Watson singing:

“When I get you in the shadows

I’m gonna give you what’s in store”

The final cut on the album is “Palace of the King,” a cover that was originally recorded by Freddie King for his 1971 release, Getting Ready.  The song was co-written by Donald “Duck” Dunn, Don Nix, and Leon Russell. Rocky’s stinging guitar punctuates Walter Watson’s breathless vocals combined with his driving drums beating out the rhythm.

Livin My Best Life is Rocky Athas’ testament to his enduring talent and versatility in the blues rock genre. With its mix of original material and meticulously chosen covers Rocky and the band showcase their musical prowess with heartfelt intensity and technical brilliance. From Walter Watson’s powerful drumming and evocative vocals to John Mayall’s harmonica contribution, the album further establishes Athas as a contemporary blues rock torchbearer that is continually pushing past boundaries.

The Review 9/10

– Livin’ My Best Life
– Black Cat Moan
– Dark Days
– Solid Ground
– Palace of the King

The Big Hit

– Solid Ground

Bob Gersztyn

As a teenager in Detroit, Michigan during the early 1960’s Bob Gersztyn saw many Motown and other R&B artists including Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder. After his discharge from the army in 1968 he attended school on the GI Bill and spent the next 3 years attending concerts and festivals weekly. It was the seminal period in Detroit rock & roll that Bob witnessed spawning the MC5 and Stooges along with shows featuring everyone from Jimi Hendrix and the “Doors” to B. B. King and John Lee Hooker. In 1971 He moved to Los Angeles, California to finish his schooling where he became an inner city pastor promoting and hosting gospel concerts. He moved to Oregon in 1982 and began photographing and reviewing concerts for music publications. Since that time he has published myriads of photographs, articles, interviews, and contributed to 2 encyclopedias and published 6 books on everything from music to the military. His rock & roll photo art is available for sale on Etsy @: Bob may be contacted personally at

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