“I’d rather be dead than singing ‘Satisfaction’ when I’m 45.” — A young Mick Jagger, who now at age 70 is in the midst of touring again with the Rolling Stones
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“We just landed our biggest contract ever, in Las Vegas.” — Ricky John Jackman, frontman for Ricky and the Redstreaks who recently turned 63 and celebrated 45 years of rockin’ and rollin’ with his Placerville-based band
It’s hard to stop the great ones.
What started out in 1968 with a gig at the Lions Hall in Diamond Springs has kept El Dorado County fans rocking for more than four decades as Ricky and the Redstreaks brought their high-energy performances to barrooms and stages throughout the area with a sound that downright dares you not to dance.
Founder of the Redstreaks, Ricky John Jackman is the only original member left in the five-member band, whose current members hail from Reno.
That’s just fine, as it is clear that Jackman has been the genius, inspiration and pure rock ‘n’ roll energy that has kept Ricky and the Redstreaks not only alive but thriving, making the band’s name synonymous with rowdy, raucous good times at rodeos throughout the country.
That’s right — rodeos.
But these days Jackman, who attended local schools and today lives in Diamond Springs, is champing at the bit about a contract just signed with the Riviera Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas that will have the joint jumping in true Redstreaks fashion for a lucrative run in December.
“I’m not going to mention just how much we signed for but it’s enough to pay a few bills for a while,” said Jackman, who added that the show will run from Dec. 5 – 14 in Las Vegas.
That wide-open gambling town is not new to Ricky and the Redstreaks, who has played there off and on for 28 years.
“We just finished a five-year contract at the MGM,” he said. “And we were at the Stardust for 17 years.”
Local fans might realize how lucky they were to enjoy Ricky and the Redstreaks back in the band’s salad days, when the group would get the crowd moving to what Jackman describes as “vintage rock with a lot of Southern rock influences … and lots of humor.”
Jackman has lived in El Dorado County for 50 years, attending Ponderosa High School.
Except for a brief job working as an art teacher at William Brooks Elementary School in 1973, Ricky John has made a career out of playing rock ‘n’ roll.
“I haven’t had a job since 1969,” he joked, showing a photo in his home of an early Ricky and the Redstreaks posing for the photograph in what later would become Old Sacramento.
The band members jumped a fence and sneaked into the closed-off area to get the photo, which is really cool, most who have seen it agree.
That old photo, snapped in 1976, still finds its way onto publicity fliers and other Redstreaks paraphernalia, with Ricky John enjoying making people guess which one of the dashing dudes is him.
“Rock and roll represents freedom for me,” said Jackman, putting the photo back on his living room wall. “We always had our own identity, as I recently told my son, Lance. We’re rock ‘n’ roll and that’s all you need to know.”
Lance is also in a band called Eightfourseven. Lance is a “natural” for rock ‘n’ roll, said Ricky John of his only child, who grew up in El Dorado County and has been opening recently for the Deftones with his own band. Lance, 32, lives in Sacramento.
Ricky John Jackman was 4 years old when he realized he wanted to make music his life.
“I would watch TV shows with Donald O’Connor, Danny Kaye, and I would ask my mom, ‘This is what these guys do for a living?’ She said ‘yes,’ and I thought that was the thing for me.”
His ambition found him in a talent show at age 8, where Ricky John’s propensity for onstage humor took life, he recalled.
A salute to humor
“It was 1958, I think, my first gig. I was on the accordion in a talent show in Mountain View. I was backstage, waiting for my turn to go on, and I spotted my mom in the audience. I kept waving to her and the crowd started laughing.
“The more I waved, the more laughs I got … and I loved it,” he said.
Ricky John doesn’t remember whether he won or lost that talent show but a star definitely was born.
It hasn’t all been good times and a life free from troubles, however.
“We did two weeks in El Paso, after all,” he said, laughing. “It was 13 degrees below and when the curtain came up — well, we had six people in the band and there were four people in the crowd.
“I told them, ‘You’d better love us, because we outnumber you.'”
Despite the freedom and adventure of the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, it took its toll, Ricky John readily admits.
“There came a point where I had to take a hard look at my values and restore my life’s principles,” he said. “I hit bottom at age 55 and started over.”
Ricky John Jackman celebrated his eighth year of sobriety on Oct. 15.
Ricky John has tickled the rock ‘n’ roll ivories and played drums with the best, counting among his friends and acquaintances such greats as country artist Moe Bandy, Paul Revere of Paul Revere and the Raiders, the Righteous Brothers and members of The Train.
During one performance in Las Vegas, Ricky John noticed a fan wearing a Ricky and the Redstreaks baseball cap. The guy came up during a break to say hi.
“He said he was a big fan and had come especially to see us,” recalled Jackman. “It turned out to be George Strait.”
Hanging nearby the black-and-white photo of the early incarnation of the Redstreaks at Ricky John’s home is a collection of belt buckles inside a frame. The four gold-and-silver, ornate buckles are quite special to Jackman.
“When a rodeo cowboy wins a buckle in competition, that’s a big deal,” he explained. “When they watch you perform, if they like the job you do playing music for them, they either hand you their buckle or slide it across the stage to you.
“It’s the best tribute a cowboy can give.”
The cowboys, it seems, love Ricky and the Redstreaks.
Monty “Hawkeye” Henson, three-time world champion saddle-bronc rider, rodeo announcer and singer, met Ricky John Jackman when the Redstreaks were performing in Cheyenne, Wyo., during one of the country’s premier annual rodeo events.
“Oh, yeah, I know Ricky John,” said Henson, who lives in Texas half the year and in Deadwood, Colo., the other half.
He is known as a “cowboy’s cowboy,” having qualified 14 times for the National Finals Rodeo championships and also known for his famous “flying dismount” from bucking broncos.
“I think it was 1976, at the Hitching Post during Frontier Days in Cheyenne (Wyo.), that we met. Then years later, he and the band would play all the rodeos, for 10 nights at a time, and we’d (cowboys) go in and out,” Henson said.
“I got to know him real well,” he added.
Henson said he has seen the Redstreaks draw crowds of up to 6,000, at $5 a head, and he added that he particularly recalls the stints at the Hitching Post, Wyoming’s largest hotel, restaurant-bar.
“They’d get about 900 of us in a big convention room there, to see Ricky and the band, and he would always have me come up on stage to sing a song with them,” recalled Henson, who himself has made a name in country music circles.
“It was always good to see him but what I remember most about Ricky John is that he was the best man on hecklers.
“You don’t dare be stupid with him,” said Henson.
Henson said he recollects one of Ricky John’s comebacks when a rowdy cowboy offered an unwelcome opinion: “He said something like, ‘Yeah, I remember when I had my first beer, too.'”
During his earliest years, playing in local bars and onstage in El Dorado County, Ricky John said the identity of one of the performers who joined him may surprise folks.
“You know who Timothy B. Schmit is, right, from the Eagles?” he began. “Well, Tim Schmit and I played together at the Shakespeare Club in Placerville in 1976.” (That one would have been hard to guess.)
Nowadays Ricky John gets together with Johnny Dee at the Centro coffee shop near the Belltower on Main Street in Placerville, and it’s the lucky fan who will be able to catch their act at the coffee shop in November, exact date still to be announced.
Give yourself an early Christmas present and make plans to rock with Ricky and the Redstreaks at the Riviera in Las Vegas in December. For room reservations (with great deals available, according to Ricky John) call 855-468-6748. There is no cover charge at the Riviera to watch Placerville’s answer to Mick Jagger.