More great press for Total Chaos:The Story of The Stooges/As Told By Iggy Pop in a Rolling Stone recap of Iggy and my interview/Q&A /book signing last Friday night at the Rizzoli Bookstore in NYC. Rolling Stone recaps some highlights of our talk including Iggy’s revelations about K-Mart and fashion, Bob Dylan wannabees, ruining Joe Perry’s Acid Trip, the Beach Boys as potential inspiration for The Stooges classic Raw Power, and MC5 guitarist Fred “Sonic” Smith.
Coming next Saturday–a book launch and solo signing (Iggy’s on vacation) with an exhibit of original Stooges memorabilia at Arcana:Books on the Arts in Culver City, CA.
Just back from Detroit where we had an incredible launch for Total Chaos: The Story of The Stooges/As Told By Iggy Pop, with…Mr. Iggy Pop himself. Iggy joined me for an interview, Q&A and book signing at Detroit’s stunning Third Man Records. Jim Jarmusch, director of the wonderful Stooges documentary Gimmie Danger (which had it’s Detroit premiere earlier that night) joined us for the Q&A, and everyone had a great time. (Photos below.)
Another highlight of last week was a great piece on the book in Dangerous Minds, where critic Bart Bealmear wrote “TOTAL CHAOS is phenomenal—a must-have for all fans of the group.”
This week, our New York launch event with Iggy, Friday at 6:00 PM, Rizzoli Bookstore, Broadway at 26th, Friday at 6:00 PM. First come first serve. Hope to see you there.
To celebrate the publication of one of the most anticipated books of the year, TOTAL CHAOS: The Story of The Stooges / As Told by Iggy Pop, Third Man Books is beyond excited to present legendary and legend-making musician Iggy Pop in conversation with author Jeff Gold. They will appear in Detroit on October 25 at Third Man Records Cass Corridor, and on November 4 in New York City at Rizzoli Bookstore. These events will be open to the public with admittance first come, first serve.
TOTAL CHAOS: The Story of The Stooges / As Told by Iggy Pop is the first time the story of this seminal band has been told entirely in Pop’s own words and features a cache of never before seen images. Pop’s candid, bare-all account is the incredible tragic and triumphant story of a group who rose from youth, fell prey to drugs, alcohol, and music biz realities, collapsed and nearly 30 years later reformed, recording and touring to great acclaim. In 2010 The Stooges—credited with having invented punk rock—were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Their continuing influence can be felt today in the shape and sound of rock-n-roll music. TOTAL CHAOS:The Story of The Stooges / As Told By Iggy Pop will be available from Third Man Books in November 2016.
“What does it mean to be Iggy Pop, five decades of being ‘the wildest man in rock’? Iggy Pop is many things. Rock Star. Singer, Rebel. Primitive. Stooge. The Jean Genie, Passenger. Legend.” – Johnny Marr
About Iggy Pop and Jeff Gold:
James Newell Osterberg, Jr., known professionally as Iggy Pop, is an American singer-songwriter, musician and actor. He was the founder and vocalist of influential proto-punk band The Stooges, who reunited in 2003, and in 2010 were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Pop’s music has encompassed a number of styles over the course of his career, from garage and punk rock to forays into jazz and blues. Pop’s best known songs include “Lust for Life”, “The Passenger”, “Real Wild Child (Wild One)”, “China Girl”, “Nightclubbing”, and the Stooges classics “Search and Destroy” and “I Wanna Be Your Dog”. In March 2016, Pop released his highest charting album ever, Post Pop Depression, a collaboration with Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal).
Author Jeff Gold is a music historian, author, former record label executive, and Grammy Award winner. He has been profiled by Rolling Stone as one of the five “top collectors of high-end music memorabilia.” As Executive Vice President/General Manager of Warner Bros. Records and a VP at A&M Records, Gold worked with Iggy Pop, Prince, R.E.M., The Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Police, and Cat Stevens. A four-time Grammy nominated Art Director, he won the 1990 Best Album Package Grammy for Suzanne Vega’s Days of Open Hand. Gold has consulted for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Experience Music Project, and appeared as an expert on PBS’ History Detectives. Gold and colleague Laura Woolley also appraised The Bob Dylan Archive now housed at the University of Tulsa. His discovery of previously undocumented tapes has led to major label releases including Bob Dylan in Concert at Brandeis University 1963. Gold’s 2012 book 101 Essential Rock Records: The Golden Age of Vinyl, From The Beatles to the Sex Pistols was one of eight books chosen by Rolling Stone as “the year’s best reading material.” Gold owns music collectibles website Recordmecca and writes about topics of interest to collectors on its blog.
I’m excited to announce that my new book, Total Chaos: The Story of The Stooges/As Told By Iggy Pop will be released November 15. It’s an uncensored oral and visual history of the band that invented Punk, as told by the man who willed The Stooges into existence, and kept them alive through through years of, well, total chaos.
My friend and fellow Stooges collector, Johan Kugelberg, and I spent two days with Iggy in his Miami back yard, as he downloaded the entire history of the band that invented a genre. Iggy’s memory is incredible, and he held nothing back. We were astounded by his recall, masterful storytelling, and the many revelations that even we, as Stooges “experts”, hadn’t known.
The book, published by Jack White’s Third Man Books, is 350 pages, with 220 images, most of which have never been published. With Stooges appreciations from Dave Grohl, Josh Homme, Joan Jett, Johnny Marr, and Jack White. If you’re a fan of Iggy or The Stooges you may want to check out the Total Chaos website, for some previews, and the article Rolling Stone just published.
In May, the great David King passed away. You may not have heard of him, but he was my hero. An obituary in the New York Times described him as ‘a graphic designer and design historian who amassed one of the world’s largest collections of Soviet political art and photographs, which he drew on for revelatory books on Leon Trotsky and the Stalin era’. That’s all true. But in my estimation, he was also the finest album cover designer ever.
During the 1960’s, King was art editor of The Sunday Times of London magazine and was drafted into doing album covers by his friend Chris Stamp, co-manager of The Who and co-owner of Track Records. He designed only about 10 album covers in all, but each was a masterpiece of the form. His album sleeves were completely original, unexpected, and many today are rightly considered classics. Check out the great man’s work.
In a past life, I art directed album covers–I even won a Grammy for it once. But looking at these, I feel like an amateur.
In 2013 I reached out to King and we exchanged some emails, and later that year my wife and I paid him a visit at his extraordinary London flat. It was overflowing with more than 250,000 Soviet political artifacts and photographs he’d amassed. He greeted us with a delicious homemade lunch, and was as charming and engaging as could be, telling stories, recalling his album cover work so many years earlier, showing us his archives, and selling me a few choice pieces. We were both thrilled to meet him, and amazed by his work and collection.
When we returned home, he’d written an email calling us his “new best friends”, and he promised to visit us in L.A. the next time he was in California. Alas that was not to be. Ironically, my wife and I were visiting Russia for the first time when she saw his obituary.
David did a lot of great and lasting work besides his album covers– his innovative magazine design, books on Soviet politics and political art, a book on Muhammad Ali, classic posters for the Anti-Nazi League and Rock Against Racism, and so much more insure his legacy. Our best wishes go out to his family. He won’t be forgotten, not by a longshot.
Collecting autographs requires patience. Sometimes extreme patience. But getting David Bowie and his 1970 band The Hype to sign my UK dress cover copy of The Man Who Sold The World took me 42 years. That’s got to be one for the Guinness Book of World Records.
Here’s the somewhat short version. I was and remain a huge fan of David Bowie’s 60’s and 70’s work. In 1973 I saw him and the Spiders From Mars at the Long Beach Arena and the Hollywood Palladium. Still among the top 5 concerts I’ve ever seen–and I’ve seen many. Back then I spent a lot of time trying to meet the musicians I admired and get their autographs. So Bowie and his band were at the top of my list.
David Bowie: As I wrote in an earlier post, in 1974 my friend Harvey Kubernik, who wrote for Melody Maker, called to tell me Bowie and his new band were rehearsing at that very moment at Studio Instrument Rentals in Hollywood. I rushed there and sat outside for five or six hours until Bowie’s bodyguard, Stuart George, emerged. I shyly asked him to sign a photo I had of him with Bowie, and we began to talk. I showed him the dress cover Man Who Sold The World, which he’d never seen, and he invited me inside. He brought David out to meet me, and he graciously signed it “For Jeff, with my very best wishes, Bowie ’74.” I couldn’t believe it. I’d met my hero.
Mick Ronson: Two years later the call came from Harvey again: my guitar hero Mick Ronson was staying at the Sunset Marquee Hotel in Hollywood. Same drill–I hightailed it to the hotel with my album, parked outside, and sat for 5 or 6 hours, waiting for Ronson–with no sign of him. I came back the next day and sat another three or four hours before doing something I’ve never done, before or since. I called his room, explained my mission, and much to my surprise he invited me to his room. I spent half an hour with the exceedingly nice Ronson, who signed my album and some 45’s by his band The Rats. When his Rolling Thunder Review bandmates Joan Baez and I believe Ronnie Blakley came by to visit, he introduced me as if we knew each other. Again, I couldn’t believe it. Mick Ronson! In the 80’s, I worked for A&M Records and met him a number of other times when he produced our band The Payolas. He was always wonderful, and I never got used to being in his presence.
Tony Visconti: Fast forward to 2000. I learned the album’s producer and bass player, the great Tony Visconti was giving a talk at the National Association of Music Merchants convention in Los Angeles. I wasn’t registered for the convention, but somehow I talked my way in and when his talk was over, I rushed onstage and accosted him. He signed my album, barely looking at it or me. But I was very happy just to have met him for a second.
I figured getting the autograph of Woody Woodmansey, the fourth and final member of The Hype, would be near impossible. Woody lived in the UK, and to my knowledge his touring days were long behind him. Years passed. And then…
In 2014 Tony Visconti and Woody Woodmansey formed a band, Holy Holy, to play the music of David Bowie. Particularly The Man Who Sold The World. They toured the UK in 2014, Japan and the UK in 2015, and the East Coast of the US in 2016. But not Los Angeles, where I live. And then it happened–they booked an LA show, in April.
Woody Woodmansey: At breakfast one day, my old friend David Leaf happened to mention that he was friendly with Tony Visconti’s manager, Joe D’Ambrosio. I told him of my mission and he promised his friend would make it happen. A flurry of phone calls and emails later it was arranged. Joe told me to knock on the stage door at The Wiltern Theatre just before the soundcheck, identify myself and ask for Woody’s wife. I did as instructed, and was ushered into his dressing room. Woody and his wife couldn’t have been nicer. I thanked him profusely, he signed the album, took a few photos with me, and my project was complete. 42 years later, a fully signed Man Who Sold The World.
It was hard to believe. I’d begun my quest as an 18 year old college student and record store clerk, and ended it as a 60 year old former executive vice president of Warner Bros. Records, married 30 years with two grown kids! But I still love music, record collecting hasn’t eased its grip, and The Man Who Sold The World is still one of my all-time favorite albums. And I do like a good project to sink my teeth into.
So thanks Harvey, David, Joe, David, Mick, Tony and Woody. I owe you. Phew.
PS: Yeah, I know, Mercury Records executive Ralph Mace played synthesizer on a few songs. But he wasn’t a band member, so I think I’ll quit while I’m ahead.
More about my adventures with Bowie are here.
As I previously wrote, I had the great fortune to work with Prince during the 90’s, while an executive at Warner Bros. Records. I art directed a number of his album covers (pictured throughout this post*) and oversaw much of the marketing for his records. We weren’t friends by any means; nobody at Warner Bros. was personally close to Prince. But we did have a good working relationship (which was rare), and spent time together. Since his passing, I’ve been thinking about him a lot.
Genius is a pretty overused word these days. True geniuses are very few and very far between. But Prince was a stone cold genius, the only one I ever knew.
I don’t think there has ever been a musician and performer remotely as talented as Prince. He was an incredible singer and songwriter. A dancer on the level of James Brown or Michael Jackson. Definitely one of rock’s greatest guitarists. And without a doubt, one of the best live acts ever. The clips that surfaced from his last ‘Piano and a Microphone’ show, a week before his passing, show he was still at the top of his game.
He was also an extraordinary record producer and arranger, who played 27 instruments, many of them at virtuoso level. My friend Joel Bernstein, once Prince’s guitar tech, told me even as a studio bass player, he was one of the best ever.
Add to that label owner and highly successful A&R executive, who developed, produced, and wrote hits for numerous artists including The Time, Vanity 6, Shelia E, The Family, The Bangles, Sheena Easton and many others. And a pioneer in direct marketing and unorthodox distribution of his music, with his NPG Music Club, retail store, cd giveaways, etc.
A few days after Prince died, Howard Stern perfectly summed up his singularity, saying Prince was to music what Steve Jobs was to technology.
OK, on to Prince, the person. I first met Prince in early 1991. Uncharacteristically, Prince had been open to feedback about his forthcoming album, Diamonds and Pearls, from Warner Bros. chairman Mo Ostin and president Lenny Waronker (himself a legendary record producer) and I believe sr. vp’s of a&r Benny Medina and Michael Ostin. When finished, many at the label felt it had great potential.
I was WB’s new senior vp of creative services, responsible for the art department and much of marketing, and when I saw Prince’s proposed album cover—a tight close up of his face, with two fingers in front of his lips, and his tongue sticking out between them, I thought it was kind of…ridiculous.
Since the album was a major priority for the company, I went to Mo and Lenny with my concerns. They suggested I have a meeting with Prince, and so Benny Medina, who worked closely with Prince, set one up. I was a major Prince fan, having seen him on Purple Rain tour and a few other times, and while I knew of his difficult reputation, figured ‘what have I got to lose?’ What followed was surely the most difficult meeting of my career.
Benny’s office was dark and sort of cave-like, with no windows. I entered to find Benny at his desk and Prince sitting in the middle of a couch, with the obvious spot for me a couch opposite Prince. There was no small talk, then or ever, with Prince. Benny got to the point, introducing me and telling Prince that I wasn’t particularly fond of his album cover concept.
Just as Benny finished delivering the bad news, there was a knock on the door, and Benny’s attorney stuck in his head. He needed Benny right away. Benny left, and I was alone with Prince, in full hair, makeup, and clothed like he was about to take the stage (as he always was), sitting about 5’ across from me, not particularly happy. In hindsight, I’m not sure anybody at Warners had ever offered up a negative opinion about his album artwork. He’d earned the right to call the shots, and expected to do so. But still, that photo was so…weird.
We had an hour or more of very difficult semi-conversation, mostly about what I thought he might do instead. Prince had enormous charisma, knew it, and knew how to use it. He also knew how to use silence and pauses in conversation to intimidate people, and he did a great job with me. I spoke respectfully and generally about why I thought a different image might be better. He glared. At one point, he asked with incredulity ‘What do you want me to do, wear overalls like R.E.M.?’ A bit later he said ‘Maybe I should have some clothes made for you’. I was wearing jeans and a button up shirt; he was wearing lime green skin-tight pants, high-heel boots, and a day-glo green, pin-striped, see-through shirt.
After one pause, he said ‘show me some album covers you’ve done.’ I ran upstairs to my office and collected about 20 cd’s I’d worked on, most from my previous job at A&M Records. He looked at each one, saying something dismissive about it, until near the bottom of the pile, he saw a holographic limited edition package I’d worked on for Suzanne Vega’s album Days of Open Hand (which I’d won an art direction Grammy for.) ‘Now this is great’ he said. Why can’t I have a hologram?’
Ah, finally a potential break. A few weeks earlier I’d met with a salesman for a company with a new, much less expensive hologram technology. I told Prince about it, and he perked up a bit. I promised to follow up and get back to him, and the meeting was over.
I pitched the hologram company’s rep –how would you like to introduce your new technology on Prince’s new album cover? Somehow, miraculously, we were able to pull it off, and Diamonds and Pearls was the first mass market CD with a holographic cover.
A few memories: We did a 4 hour hologram shoot at Studio Instrument Rentals (SIR) in Hollywood, where Prince and his two dancers, ‘Diamond’ and ‘Pearl’ sat on a small circular platform. After speaking to the holographer, he decided on an arm motion to perform while a motion picture camera on a dolly shot them in a 180 degree arc. Multiple takes were completed, with a lot of down time. I remember trying to make conversation (near impossible) and asking him about collaborating with Miles Davis (he was pretty dismissive.)
A few days later, I met him at a studio in Hollywood to watch video transfers of the various takes (each a few seconds long.) We chose one pretty quickly, and I was on my way. A few weeks later I got a ‘glass plate’ test hologram, which I thought looked great. Benny and I took it to Larrabee Studios, where Prince was recording. When he saw it, he loved it—and I think I detected a bit of a thaw. Progress!
Our next encounter was probably the highlight of my music business career. Benny and I went to see Prince at SIR, where he was rehearsing his band; I think it was to show him the first actual stamped hologram samples. He was very happy with what he saw, and asked what we were doing after we left. We said something to the extent of ‘going back to the office’, and he pointed to an old funky couch and suggested we sit down, alongside two Dutch journalists who were writing a story. We did, and Prince proceeded to rehearse his set, with full band, for about an hour, for the four of us. We were mabye 10 feet in front of him. It was the most extraordinary thing I’ve ever seen. As I reflect on it now, I think he may have been sort of saying ‘nice work on the hologram. Now take a look at what I can do’.
When he finally saw the finished album cover, he was thrilled and sent me this note. His assistant told mine that she’d never seen him send a thank you note, ever. I’d passed the test.
From then on, he never gave me any grief. That’s not to say it was always easy. But as we continued to work together, I understood that Prince was driven by a relentless pursuit of perfection. He knew exactly what he wanted. He did things his own way, and that worked for him. The word “no” didn’t exist in Prince’s world. If you told him ‘no’, he’d move on and find somebody else who would give him a ‘yes’. The absolute worst thing you could say to him is “but everybody else does it this way.”
The alternate Diamonds and Pearls cover, done for international vinyl use.
- The Symbol CD, with gold stamped jewel box.
Prince knew exactly how talented he was, had supreme self-confidence, and saw no reason to settle for anything less than his vision. And you had to respect him for it. Nobody worked harder than Prince. He was a perpetual motion machine, exploding with creativity.
When Prince died, I called Joel Bernstein, who was much closer to Prince than I was. He too was in shock, but said something that really stuck with me. We were talking about how tragic it was that he passed on at such a young age. Joel said something to the effect of yes, it’s true, but Prince crammed three lifetimes into those 57 years. So true, so true.
May 27, 2016
I’ll be writing more about my experiences with Prince, so watch this space.
*all album covers done with my friends and co-workers Tom Recchion and Greg Ross.
This week Third Man Books (part of Jack White’s Third Man Records) announced a book I’ve been working on for quite some time. Here’s their press release. As the winter release comes nearer, I’ll be posting some updates, but for now, this tells the story.
THIRD MAN BOOKS ANNOUNCES TOTAL CHAOS: THE STORY OF THE STOOGES / AS TOLD BY IGGY POP
Third Man Books is excited to announce one of the most anticipated books of the year about one of the most influential bands of all time…The Stooges. TOTAL CHAOS: The Story of The Stooges / As Told by Iggy Pop is the first time the story of this seminal band has been told entirely in Pop’s own words.
Author Jeff Gold and contributor Johan Kugelberg, noted music historians and collectors, spent two days with Pop at his Miami home, sharing with him their extensive Stooges collection and interviewing the legendary singer. Pop’s candid, bare-all responses left them with the almost unbelievable tale of the band he founded—the alternately tragic and triumphant story of a group who rose from youth, fell prey to drugs, alcohol, and music biz realities, collapsed and nearly 30 years later reformed, recording and touring to great acclaim. In 2010 The Stooges, credited with having invented punk rock, were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Their continuing influence can be felt today in the shape and sound of rock-n-roll music.
Jeff Gold, Johan Kugelberg and editor/contributor Jon Savage are among the most respected music authors and historians working today. Their efforts include numerous acclaimed and best-selling books and a Grammy Award. TOTAL CHAOS stands as a work for all fans of the band and rock music to draw inspiration. Including an absolute treasure-trove of rare and unseen photographs, TOTAL CHAOS is a book that shows AND tells the story of The Stooges. A metallic k.o. of only the best kind.
COMING WINTER 2016
It was a rare privilege to sit with Iggy as he downloaded the story of The Stooges. He’s an incredible storyteller with a fantastic memory and a great sense of humor, and he held nothing back. The Stooges were pioneers in sound, look, and live presentation, and along the way invented a genre—punk rock—and influenced countless others that followed. There was no precedent in rock music for what they did. They’re definitely the only group in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame who started out playing an amplified Waring blender, a vacuum cleaner, spring water bottles and a 200 gallon oil drum. — Jeff Gold, Author of 101 Essential Rock Records
Iggy and The Stooges have to be one of the greatest American rock bands that has ever been. — Joan Jett
What does it mean to be Iggy Pop, five decades of being ‘the wildest man in rock’? Iggy Pop is many things. Rock Star. Singer, Rebel. Primitive. Stooge. The Jean Genie, Passenger. Legend. — Johnny Marr
Iggy Pop has turned the interview into an art form. In this book he tells the history of The Stooges with a mixture of wit, candor and spontaneity: from their early beginnings to their full flaming flare over three groundbreaking albums before the crash and the triumphant return that no-one could have predicted. Profusely illustrated with dozens of unseen images, this is the story of The Stooges like you’ve never read it before. — Jon Savage, Author of England’s Dreaming.
ADDITIONAL CONTRIBUTORS INCLUDE:
Cover photo by Dustin Pittman
An hour ago I learned that Prince has died. I had the very great privilege of working closely with him during the 1990’s, while I was at Warner Bros. Records, his record label. At Warner Bros, and before that A&M Records, I had the good fortune to work with many extraordinarily talented artists . But Prince was the only true Genius. With a capital g. I think if you polled all the other artists I’ve known, they’d probably agree.
An incredible guitarist. An amazing songwriter. A world class dancer. A visionary and tireless live performer. A masterful record producer. A business visionary. Prince was not afraid to do things his own way–in fact, he was fully committed to doing so, no matter what anyone thought. I spent a fair amount of time with him, art directing a number of his album covers, and overseeing the marketing of his records. I’ll be writing more about my experiences with him, but right now I’m just processing the news. The world will be a much lesser place without Prince.
Today I’m listening to David Bowie’s first 8 albums in chronological order, and thinking about one my all time musical heroes. When I heard he’d died, I was shocked, but not surprised. There were rumors of ill health, and he hadn’t looked well in recent videos. But still…
In the 1970’s, I was obsessed with David Bowie. I first heard him when a local L.A. radio station broadcast his October, 1972 Santa Monica Civic concert. I ran out and bought the Ziggy Stardust album, which I LOVED, and then the reissues of his second album (Space Oddity), Hunky Dory, and my all time favorite, The Man Who Sold The World. The records blew me away like little else; so different, so original, such great songs, high concept but accessible. I played them endlessly. Soon there were bootlegs, and I bought those too.
I was already a serious record collector, but enlarged my focus from finding every Jimi Hendrix record in the world to include Bowie rarities too. Record collecting was far different (and exponentially more difficult) in those pre-internet days. There were no discographies of rock artists. You depended on other collectors, friends of friends, pen-pals in foreign countries (found through ads in Melody Maker), old magazines, people who worked in record stores. Anyone who might know more than you did.
In Los Angeles we were fortunate to have Tower Records and their incredible import section, and a monthly record swap meet in the parking lot of Capitol Records. In the early 70’s I was the only person in L.A. seriously collecting Bowie and Hendrix records, so things found their way to me. Somebody told me about a guy in Long Beach who had the legendary UK pressing of The Man Who Sold The World with Bowie wearing a dress on the cover, something I’d never seen. I tracked him down and paid him the outrageous sum of $25 for his mint copy of this ultra rarity, and a mint copy of Bowie’s first album on Deram. People at the swap meet though I was out of my mind–$25 for two David Bowie records!
Moby Disc Records would let you reserve import LP’s before they were released, if you put down a $1.00 deposit. My brother and I did so for Aladdin Sane, and when I called him a few weeks later from a camping trip and he told me Moby had our albums, I left the pay phone, went and packed up my tent, and headed home. I couldn’t wait another day!
We made sure to see Bowie when he came to L.A. in March 1973, at both the Long Beach Arena and Hollywood Palladium. Quite simply the best concerts I’ve ever seen, by anyone, to this day. He and the Spiders From Mars, especially the great Mick Ronson, were astounding.
I started buying rare Bowie records from UK auction lists in Alan Betrock’s pioneering record collector zine, The Rock Marketplace (the only place collectors could buy and sell records via auction and set-sale lists.) I searched for Bowie’s earliest efforts, non-album singles on Pye and Deram. I placed classified ads in Melody Maker looking for rare singles.
In 1974 my friend Harvey Kubernik, who wrote for Melody Maker, called to tell me Bowie and his band were rehearsing at that very moment at Studio Instrument Rentals in Hollywood. I rushed there and sat outside for five or six hours until Bowie’s bodyguard, Stuart George, emerged. I shyly asked him to sign a photo I had of him with Bowie, and we began to talk. I showed him the dress cover Man Who Sold The World, which he’d never seen, and he invited me inside. He brought David out to meet me, and he graciously signed it “For Jeff, with my very best wishes, Bowie ’74.” I couldn’t believe it. I’d met my hero.
Later that year, when the BBC made a documentary about Bowie, they wanted to interview a big fan. MainMan, Bowie’s management company, sent them to me. And today, on YouTube, you can see my 18 year old self talking about Ziggy in the Cracked Actor BBC Special (I’m 40 minutes and 30 seconds into the show.)
In 1975, I made my first trip to Europe, and on the very first day scored a copy of Bowie’s first record, “Liza Jane” by Davie Jones and The Kingbees, for 20 pounds at London’s Vintage Record Center. That was a LOT of money to pay for a single in 1975, but I was floating on air. That summer I spent every cent I had at record stores and flea markets in the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and Holland.
I loved Aladdin Sane and Pin Ups, and Diamond Dogs too, but Young Americans threw me for a loop. I loved rock music. People who liked rock hated disco, and Bowie had gone disco. But I was back soon enough, with Station to Station, Low and Heroes.
Harvey continued to give me hot tips when Bowie was recording or staying in L.A., and I would stake him out. I’d begun a Bowie discography, and along with getting autographs, there was no better source of information than the man himself. I met him two or three more times, and he was always very kind–signing things, confirming his participation in singles like “I Pity The Fool” by The Manish Boys, and chatting for a few minutes. In 1975, he recorded Station to Station at Cherokee Studios in Hollywood, and on more than one occasion I waited outside until 2 or 3 AM, when he’d emerge. As always, he couldn’t have been nicer.
Another thing people tend to forget about Bowie. He deserves a great deal of credit for popularizing Iggy Pop and the Stooges, and Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground. Bowie’s passion for Iggy was the impetus for new management and record contracts, the Stooges’ Raw Power, and a lot of ensuing publicity. His constant championing of the Velvets, cover versions of their songs and co-production (with Ronson) of Reed’s Transformer album brought the band a great deal of publicity, and Lou his first and biggest hit, “Walk on the Wild Side.”
While many love Bowie’s later albums, my interest began to drop off by the time of Lodger. Though I would check in with his albums from time to time, I found his post Spiders/Ronson and post Fripp/Eno albums far less compelling than his earlier work.
But I’ve never stopped listening to (and loving) his classic albums; and have always had the utmost respect for him as a continunally evolving, boundary pushing artist. So his death yesterday hit me hard. As I was processing it, I realized, yes, it’s very sad. But we are lucky indeed to have so much great music (and filmed performances) to savor for years to come.
So blast Ziggy, or Aladdin Sane, or Hunky Dory. Or watch the Ziggy farewell concert, or sample Black Star, released only two days before his death. Few will leave as enduring a legacy as David Bowie. Let’s make the most of it.
January 11, 2016
Also see our great friend Jon Savage’s Bowie tribute
I’m sorry to report that the great Bruce Langhorne is in hospice care and dying. I visited him a few days ago and he is in a good place and at peace. But the 24 hour care he needs is expensive, and so I suggested letting his fans know, in case anyone is able to make a contribution to his care.
Bruce was the inspiration for Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man” and played guitar on many of Dylan’s greatest works, including “Love Minus Zero/No Limit,” “She Belongs To Me,” “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” “Maggie’s Farm” and other tracks from The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, Bringing It All Back Home and Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid.
In the liner notes for Dylan’s “Biograph” box set he recalled ““Mr. Tambourine Man,” I think, was inspired by Bruce Langhorne. Bruce was playing guitar with me on a bunch of the early records. On one session, (producer) Tom Wilson had asked him to play tambourine. And he had this gigantic tambourine. It was like, really big. It was as big as a wagon-wheel. He was playing, and this vision of him playing this tambourine just stuck in my mind. He was one of those characters…he was like that. I don’t know if I’ve ever told him that.”
Bruce also made important contributions to albums by Richard & Mimi Farina, Joan Baez, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Tom Rush, Richie Havens, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Gordon Lightfoot, John Sebastian, Carlos Santana, the Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem, and many others.
Below is a message from Bruce’s close friend Cynthia Riddle, who is helping to organize his care.
Bruce Langhorne is preparing for his final curtain call. He is in the care of hospice and his days are numbered. He is in a peaceful state at home, filled with joy and love. A steady stream of old friends is coming from near and far to play some music, pay their final respects and have a few more laughs.
End of life care is extremely expensive and we would appreciate any support you could offer. If you would care to contribute to Bruce’s care, you can make donations and purchase Bruce’s CDs here.
On behalf of Bruce, we offer you our deepest gratitude. Thank you, and keep the love flowing. Or, as Bruce might say, “Carry on Nurse!”
“If you had Bruce playing with you, that’s all you would need to do just about anything.” Bob Dylan
“If he were to walk in right now and you didn’t see Bruce, you would feel his presence. He just emanates love and kindness, in addition to being a virtuoso on like 50 string instruments.” Peter Fonda
“Just occasionally you come across these geniuses. Bruce Langhorne was one; he responds instinctually to the visual image. Bruce has done some of the most beautiful scoring I have ever been involved with, or ever known.” Jonathan Demme
Download Bruce’s song, Old Dog, for $1.00, to support organizations that rescue abused and abandoned dogs.
December 29, 2015
I love set lists–the list of songs an artist puts together to perform at a particular concert. To me, they’re among the most compelling of all music collectibles — ideally, handwritten by a musician, used on stage during a performance, and documenting a specific moment in that artist’s evolution.
Some artists play the same songs every night. Others, Bob Dylan probably foremost among them, play different songs every night, to suit their mood, the city they’re in, what they think the crowd will react to, or for a hundred other reasons.
In the pre-computer age, set lists were always handwritten, and virtually never saved. That’s why vintage ones are so rare and sought after. Today they’re mostly computer printouts; far less exciting to see, and near impossible to tease meaning from.
Below are some extraordinary handwritten setlists from some very important artists. We hope you enjoy them, and should you be looking to add one to your collection, they’re all for sale.
A Velvet Underground set list in guitarist Sterling Morrison’s hand, from a show circa 1968/1969. Only a handful of Velvet Underground set lists have survived, all preserved by the late great Morrison. I don’t know the exact show this was from, but it includes songs from the Velvets’ first three albums, as well as some tracks unreleased until much later.
This is an exceptionally rare Rolling Stones set list handwritten by Mick Jagger, almost certainly for rehearsals for the group’s secret show as “The Cockroaches”, at Sir Morgan’s Cove, Worcester, Mass on September 14th, 1981. During August and September of that year, the Stones rehearsed for their first tour in three years at Long View Farm in nearby West Brookfield, Mass. On short notice, they decided to play a secret warm up date at a local club under an assumed name. At the last minute, word leaked and the area around the small club was mobbed by up to 4000 people. At the top, Jagger has written “Blues, CB’s + Encore” indicating this is a list of blues songs, Chuck Berry songs and possible encores. The list includes four Chuck Berry songs, six blues standards, and four Stones originals (most of the non-originals have been covered by the Stones).
Mick Jones’ handwritten set list for The Clash’s January 25, 1982 concert at the Festival Hall in Osaka, Japan. Written on a 3″ x 7″ torn piece of paper, as usual it differs slightly from the set the band played. As many bands do, The Clash used set lists as a plan, but regularly added the occasional unplanned song. The silver duct tape probably attached this to the stage or an amplifier. (We have a Joe Strummer set list from the same tour elsewhere on the site.)
A Bruce Springsteen handwritten set list from his acoustic performance at the first annual concert to benefit The Bridge School, at the Shoreline Amphitheater, Mountain View, Ca., October 13, 1986. The Bridge School benefit concerts are annual non-profit, acoustic shows organized by Neil and Pegi Young. We acquired this set list from longtime Neil Young associate Joel Bernstein, who noted “At the time, I was working as a guitar technician and occasional musician on a tour of the U.S. with Neil Young and Crazy Horse…Bruce arrived from new Jersey in the late afternoon with, as I recall, eight acoustic guitars, four of them twelve strings, and all desperately needing new strings to be stretched and tuned (by me) in time for Bruce to do a soundcheck before doors..Bruce wrote out this list in his dressing room, brought it with him onstage, and placed it at his feet during the set. In the end, he added “Mansion On The Hill” between “Darlington County” and “Fire”, otherwise he held to this sequence. Between his set and encore…I made sure to retrieve the set list, as a memento of the day, and especially of Bruce’s short moving, and powerful set”.
A Neil Young handwritten setlist for the Shocking Pinks section of his July 1, 1983 show at the Kansas Coliseum (during his 1983 Shocking Pinks tour). Joel Bernstein was Neil’s guitar technician on this tour, and after Neil’s solo set, he would dash off stage and decide if he wanted [his band] the Shocking Pinks to play. If so, he’d quickly put together a setlist, have it delivered to Joel offstage, and he’d get his guitars ready for that sequence.
A setlist handwritten by Joni Mitchell, for her 1995 performance at the Gene Autry Museum in Los Angeles on January 26, 1995. This was a date to promote her Turbulent Indigo album, and was broadcast live on the radio. Joni’s longtime friend and collaborator Joel Bernstein was her guitar technician at the time and she gave him this list to prepare her guitars for the show (at the left are her indications of the guitar she wanted for a particular song.)
For those interested in more, see our 2010 post on the subject.
In May, my wife Jody and I drove across the America, coast to coast, from Los Angeles to Savannah, Georgia–a bucket list dream of mine. And much to my wife’s delight, I ended up driving the whole 3000+ miles. We spent about 19 days, stopping in 10 cities, seeing the sights, visiting friends and for once, not looking for records. We had a fantastic time and saw some great music related sights, which I thought I’d write about for those who may be thinking about a little music tourism. For this post, we’ll focus on Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee.
If you’ve never been to Memphis I highly recommend it. Soulful people, great food and much to see. We visited the National Civil Rights Museum, which is at the Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated–an incredible and moving museum that I can’t recommend enough. And for music fans, there are a number of essential stops. On this trip, I was luck to visit Sun Studio and the Stax Museum.
Sun Studio is of course where Elvis Presley first recorded, where he was discovered by Sam Phillips, and where Phillips also cut Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Howlin’ Wolf and so many more greats. Incredibly, though the building had housed other businesses over the years, the actual studio baffling and control room had just been covered up–so when it was turned into a museum, it was easily restored to its original state. It’s a working studio today, and they’ve got a great display of memorabilia including some of Phillips’ original equipment, memorabilia belonging to Elvis, vintage Sun acetates, and a re-creation of Memphis DJ Dewey Philips’s broadcast studio. The tour guide’s patter was a little cheesy for me, but there is much to see and the vibe is definitely there. It was well worth visiting.
Also in Memphis is the Stax Museum of American Soul Music and the Stax music academy. The original Stax building was torn down, but the museum is an exact recreation on the same site, built from the original blueprints. There is a tremendous amount of great memorabilia here, including Otis Redding’s draft card and suede jacket, Isaac Hayes’ custom Cadillac and stage outfits, Booker T & The MG’s instruments and an exact recreation of Stax’s original movie theatre studio. Lots of memorabilia from artists who recorded at Stax and Memphis artists too, including Al Green, the Staple Singers, Ike and Tina Turner, Carla and Rufus Thomas–even James Carr. Next door there’s a music academy where young people learn to play music. Well worth a visit.
Other essential Memphis music pilgrimage sites include Graceland and Al Green’s Full Gospel Tabernacle Church, where Reverend Green preaches most Sundays. But I’d visited both a number of times (and worked closely with Al Green while at A&M Records) so this trip I visited places I hadn’t been. But both are highly recommended.
From Memphis we drove to Nashville, where we visited the Country Music Hall of Fame and Jack White’s Third Man Records. The Hall of Fame was a bit of a disappointment, as the main draw for me was their Dylan, Cash and the Nashville Cats exhibit. The exhibition’s premise was that Bob Dylan’s decision to record in Nashville brought many other non-country artists, including the Byrds, Neil Young, the Beau Brummels, Joan Baez etc. to record in Nashville, with the cities’ exceptional session musicians. While it’s an interesting story, I found the exhibit largely centered on the session musicians– the “Nashville Cats”, with a scattering of Dylan and Cash artifacts. There was a lot to see, but I thought the layout was difficult to follow, and exhibit overall a missed opportunity. I wasn’t much interested in the museum’s other mainstream country offerings, but was thrilled to spot Gram Parsons’ Flying Burrito Brothers Nudie Suit while walking to the Nashville Cats exhibit. As iconic a piece of stage wear as you’ll ever see, covered in marijuana plants and pills.
Jack White’s Third Man Records was much more to my taste. It’s clear White and his cohorts love records and music, and Third Man has refined and reinvented the form in an extraordinary way. Our tour guide was the great Ben Blackwell, who helps run Third Man and is a true vinyl visionary. Parked outside the Third Man retail store is their “Rolling Record Store”, which travels to gigs, festivals, and other places fans congregate. The retail store carries all of Third Man’s releases, and an incredible number of Third Man branded artifacts, including everything from Dead Weather playing cards to a high end yellow & black custom turntable. Located in the store is their Voice-o-Graph recording booth–the actual booth in which Neil Young recorded his 2014 album A Letter Home–and where you too can record a song and take it home on a custom 6″ record, for $15. The Third Man complex also includes a live concert venue, just behind that a recording studio (which has the lathe from King Records, and is the only place in the world you can record live, direct to disc), a video studio and editing suite, photo studio, art department, warehouse, direct mail operation, and much more. We were blown away by their reinvention of the music business. Don’t miss it when in Nashville.
From Nashville, we drove to Athens, Ga., home of R.E.M., who I had the good fortune to work with at both A&M and Warner Bros. Records. We visited with some of our friends from those long ago days, and briefly stopped by Wuxtry Records, where clerk Peter Buck met customer Michael Stipe — and the rest is history. They’ve got some great early R.E.M. posters on the wall. Then on to Savannah, a photo standing on the rental car at the end of the road, and on the last day, my karmic reward for not looking for records along the way. In a bin of LP’s at an antique store, voila–a near mint UK first pressing of The Who’s debut album, My Generation, on Brunswick, for $25!
So, as Van Dyke Parks recommended with the title of his second album, Discover America!
There’s been a lot written about Bob Dylan’s new album of songs sung by Frank Sinatra, Shadows in the Night. People seem to love it or hate it, and I can’t understand why. I think it’s a masterpiece.
I’ve listened to Shadows more than any new Dylan album since Time Out of Mind. I play it over and over and it just blows my mind. So incredibly soulful. Heartfelt. Melancholy. The songs (most of which I didn’t know) are all so great. The inventive arrangements, just guitars, bass, light drums and occasional horns, with steel guitar as the lead instrument. And incredibly recorded by the great Al Schmidt. Live in the studio, with no overdubs.
Bob’s singing better than he has in years. Decades in fact. Yes, his voice breaks occasionally as he reaches for a note, but he’s singing as soulfully as ever. It’s a late night record. One friend said it required “active listening”. Not made for driving or playing while you’re doing something else. It’s an album to sit down and listen to. My wife and I play it constantly, different songs stuck in our heads at different times. We’ve bought 15 copies to give to friends.
Admittedly it’s not for everyone. I’m not a big Sinatra fan; I like some of his work and some I’m ambivalent about. But the songs Dylan has chosen, mostly from the 40’s and 50’s, I love. I have friends, thought, who see Sinatra as the enemy of rock, and can’t stomach an album of Bob “paying tribute” to him. Others can’t understand why a writer as great as Dylan would do a covers album of “old” chestnuts like these. To me, it’s just Bob. Inscrutable as always. Like the photo on the back cover, of Bob holding a Sun Records (Elvis) 45, with a woman wearing a mask. Sinatra and his then wife, Mia Farrow, were pictured wearing masks at Truman Capote’s “Black and White” ball. What does it all mean? Who cares?
It’s been an amazing year-and-a-half for Dylan fans. Two incredible Bootleg Series Box Sets–Another Self Portrait and The Basement Tapes Complete, a great tour, Shadows in the Night, Dylan’s first interview in 3 years in the AARP Magazine (that’s right, the American Association of Retired People), probably the most straight-ahead interview he’s ever given. Then the remarkable and unprecedented speech he gave at the Grammy Tribute–really the only speech of length he’s ever given. And then–unbelievably–a follow up interview, clarifying some of the things he’d said in the speech, posted on his website. Again, being completely up front and straightforward. And the hidden gem of Daniel Lanois’s interview with the Vancouver Sun. Lanois tells of how Dylan visited him and talked of music when he was growing up.
“He spoke for an hour and a half on how, as a kid, you couldn’t even get pictures of anybody. You might get a record but you didn’t know what they looked like. So there was a lot of mystery associated with the work at the time. As far as hearing live music, he only heard a couple of shows a year, like the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra might come through.
“But the music he did hear really touched him and he felt that a lot of that music was written not only by great professional songwriters at the time, but a lot of it was written from the heart, from the wartime, and people just pining for a lover. He felt there was a lot of spirit in that music. He felt there was a kind of beauty, a sacred ground for him.
“After having said all that, we then listened to the music and I felt everything that he talked about. For one of America’s great writers to say, ‘I’m not gonna write a song. I’m gonna pay homage to what shook me as young boy,’ I thought was very graceful and dignified.”
Bob Dylan certainly has nothing to prove. He’s reinvented music many times. The songs he’s written and the records he’s made will outlive us all. And at 73, he’s still making challenging music, speaking his mind, making provocative visual art, and bringing a lot of joy to the world. Who could ask for anything more.
If you don’t have Shadows in the Night, get it.
(During the Shadows sessions, Dylan recorded another album’s worth of Sinatra songs. I very much hope he decides to release it.)
UPDATE: All have been identified, and very quickly at that. See results at the bottom of this post. Thanks to everyone who helped out.
Here’s an experiment in crowd-sourcing. We recently acquired two original Frank Zappa music manuscripts, and a lead sheet for a third composition, all of which were handwritten by the great man himself. The two original manuscripts are untitled, and the lead sheet is for Arabesque, a 1966 song we can find no reference for. (These originated from the collection of ex-Mothers road manager Marty Perelis.)
We’ll happily offer $300 in Recordmecca credit to the first person who can identify these compositions (and tell us if Arabesque was ever released with a different title.) If you can only identify one or two compositions, we’ll pro-rate the prize.
Just post a comment below, and be sure to include your email address. And to state the obvious, only the first person who submits a correct answer through the comments section gets the prize. And of course, the music on these manuscripts belong to the copyright holder.
We’ll post the answers here as soon as we have them.
“Part II” (first two pages; double click to enlarge)
Second Composition (first two pages)
Arabesque (Dated 1966)
We have a winners on all three manuscripts–thanks to everyone.
For Part II–Robert Mangano identified it as “The Rejected Mexican Pope Leaves the Stage” from the album “AHEAD OF THEIR TIME!”
We have a revised winner on the Second Manuscript (thanks to Matthew Galaher who pointed out his answer wasn’t exactly correct.) The new winner is Duncan James Mitchson who identified it as “Music For Electric Violin And Low Budget Orchestra” from Jean-Luc Ponty’s King Kong album (though with slightly different orchestration).
And for Arabesque–Pat Buzby, who wrote “Arabesque” was released later under the title “Toads Of The Short Forest.”
Thanks to everyone who helped out.
All the best,