Chuck E. Weiss is an American songwriter and vocalist.
Chuck E. Weiss grew up in Denver, Colorado, United States, where his parents owned a record store (The Record Center, 434 16th Street). Through his parents, and by spending time at the local blues bar Ebbetts Field, he met Lightnin' Hopkins. Hopkins was impressed with his drum playing and took him on tour, where Weiss had the opportunity to play with Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Roger Miller, Dr. John, and others.
Weiss was a disc jockey on alternative rock station KFML-FM-Denver in the early 1970s.
Weiss appeared on an episode of Storage Wars that aired on June 25, 2013. He was paired with Barry Weiss who was attending the auction incognito as an elderly woman.
He also made a cameo on Married With Children as a homeless man in an episode but the appearance is brief (date unknown) and on an episode of Brotherly Love as Leo the garbage man.
Weiss was initially featured on the 1990 album L.A. Ya Ya, a compilation of performances by Los Angeles-based blues artists.
Weiss released the album Extremely Cool in 1999, featuring extensive collaboration with Tony Gilkyson and Tom Waits, who co-produced the album for his longtime acquaintance (they met in 1974 at Ebbetts Field, where Weiss played in the house band) and appears on at least two tracks. The style is heavily reminiscent of Waits, both in composition and vocal approach. Either could have influenced the other. The opening track Devil With Blue Suede Shoes was produced by Johnny Depp and features none other than Toby Dammit on drums. It was used in Depp's film The Brave.
Old Souls and Wolf Tickets was released in early 2002, also produced by Gilkyson, perhaps less reminiscent of Tom Waits and more redolent of Delta blues acts decades older. Weiss's music includes strains of every rhythmic style from nursery rhymes to zydeco.
Weiss was the subject of Rickie Lee Jones's hit song "Chuck E.'s In Love", from her 1979 debut album. At the time Jones was linked romantically to Tom Waits. All three lived in the Tropicana Hotel in Los Angeles, in the middle of a fertile musical scene including Levi and the Rockats, Stray Cats, Black Flag, Frank Zappa and others.
Weiss is referred to in Tom Waits titles and lyrics from the album Small Change, as well as passing references on Nighthawks at the Diner.
Weiss has also played with Willie Dixon, who was quoted on the original packaging of Extremely Cool ("Ain't ya got ears son? That little Jew boy with the big old head be one of the best musicians in this town, this country even.") "Down the Road a Piece," from Old Souls & Wolf Tickets, is a 1970 recording of the two playing together.
In 1995, Weiss played washboard on P's self-titled album. The band featured Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers and actor Johnny Depp.
Weiss says his biggest musical idol is Louis Jordan.
In 2006, Weiss released the album 23rd & Stout, an album more reminiscent of Waits's 1980s output, featuring an exploration of many blues and rumba styles, as well as a tribute to Sterling Holloway, entitled "Sho' Is Cold". Also featured is long time friend and collaborator Diablo Dimes.
Weiss has been associated with Los Angeles and Southern California for years, saying he does not like to travel by airplane. Weiss played 11 years of Mondays at a club called the Central before it fell on hard times. Weiss and his friend Johnny Depp (who was executive producer on the first track on Extremely Cool) were instrumental in resuscitating it as the Viper Room, which later became notorious when River Phoenix died there in 1993. Extremely Cool makes reference to Canter's Kibitz Room, a small nightclub in a larger diner in Los Angeles's Fairfax District, where Weiss has also played habitually. His regular band is called The God Damn Liars.