1st Record/1st Show from Henry Rollins
I honestly dont remember what the first record I bought was. As a very young child, I went to the record store very often with my mother, who listened to a lot of music. I may have pointed at a record at that time and it was bought for me. At age 9 or thereabouts, I inherited some of my step-brothers Rock albums. Hendrix, Who, etc. I liked them but didnt buy them myself.
Wait, now I remember, with my paper route money, I bought the 2 cassette version of the Grand Funk Live album. I listened to it a few times and it then lost it somewhere. I have since never reconnected with the record but can still remember the opening strains of Mean Mistreater. I cant think this is an interesting bit of information. I can tell you that it wasnt an interesting record to me at the time. Grand Funk sounded too grown up for some reason. They sounded like someone elses music.
One day at school years later, I was walking by an upper classman who was sitting on the floor of the hallway with a small tape deck in his lap, it was cranked loud with some very aggressive music. I overcame my shyness and fear of speaking to someone grades above me and asked him who he was listening to. He said, Ted Nugent.
I reported to my local record store that afternoon and bought the Ted Nugent and Free-For-All albums and played them until my mother got home. They were a revelation. Before this purchase, I had bought Led Zeppelin records, Steve Miller, and others that were on the FM but they were huge bands and as good as those records were, and as much as I still play them today, I felt like part of a herd being a fan of them. I listened to a lot of radio in those days. Radio was great, I thought. Programming on WPGC FM was like a cool mix tape. Aerosmith, Gladys Knight, War, Rick Derringer, Stevie Wonder, etc. Anyway, the Nugent records really knocked me out. He seemed angry, or at least intense. Worked for me.
I saw Nugent the next time he came through town, I think it was the 2nd arena rock show I had ever been to, Aerosmith, on their Toys In The Attic tour being the first. Nugent killed it. What a man, what a band. He got such great tone out of that Gibson. I saw him three times in highschool and it was great except for the last time when he got his head handed to him by the opening band, Van Halen. The best arena rock experience I had in highschool was seeing Led Zeppelin. They opened with Kashmir, they absolutely destroyed, zero letdown factor. Page did the thing with the bow, the whole deal.
So, thats the first record(s) I ever bought and the first show(s) I ever saw but its not what I wanted to say. For me, what made me a record store haunting, music obsessed fanatic, was the desire for ultimate musical intensity. My friend Ian MacKaye and I scoured record stores, borrowed records, traced leads, always looking for something that would really do it. For myself, I had grown a little tired of songs about girls and Rock and Roll. I am not putting it down but at that time, I needed more. I was an angry young man.
At some point in my 17th year, my life started. I heard The Ramones. Game on. In a single sentence: Punk Rock gave me a life. Ive been alive ever since. While I appreciate all kinds of music, it was Punk Rock that has me perpetually on the lookout for a record store no matter where I am in the world. I may walk out with a bunch of records, none of them Punk Rock but it is the endless search for the rare and obscure in this genre that has made me the pitiful record collector I am.
Seeing Nugent, Led Zeppelin, or even Pearl Bailey in Hello Dolly, it was all great but nothing like: standing in front of Dee Dee Ramone and watching the sweat drip off his nose like a faucet, the Bad Brains opening for the Damned, the first ever Minor Threat show, Cramps shows in small bars, the Clash at the Ontario Theater with Bo Diddley openingwalking out after shows in full knowledge that what I had just witnessed had caused irrevocable change in my life. This is not to say that one cannot have a life-changing experience at any other kind of show, this is just how it was for me. Thank you.
-- Henry Rollins, evidence his appearance here, is EVERYWHERE!
Another Fein Mess
AF Stones Monthly
Paul McCartney sings Jesse Fullers San Francisco Bay Blues on an outtake, a rehearsal take, on his Back In The U.S. dvd. As a result of this youve-got-to-look-for-it appearance, Fullers baby daughter Alice, 75, has received several hefty checks from his publishing company, the first being $28,000. Its good to hear about such things once in a while.
Brian Wilson at UCLA, 11-1-06
I sat in an $88 seat, more than half back on the main floor at Royce Hall, but its not so big a place, so hearing and seeing was fine. I realized there, that night, what a concert is for: to hear music you like at enormous volume. Not painful, but auditorium-filling. It was crisp, clear and not ear-piercing but largely loud. Like seeing a movie on a movie screen, not a tv; the bigness is the selling point.
The stage was filled with performers1. I thought at first it was Sweeney Todd (the original production) or maybe Cats, so numerous were the players. The hits kept coming and everyone was happy. Then he dipped into that Pet Sounds bag and rendered it wholly2. And finished it off with more catalog greats. (I think they omitted I Get Around.) Only one song I knew from the solo period, Love & Mercy.
The lobby was filled with music people: Billy Corgan, the Sparks brothers, our friend Doug Fieger with Pamela Des Barres, Rhino and Shout Factory and iTunes people, tv people. A lot of people. Though it was sold out, guitarmaker James Trussart arrived right before the show and bought a 3rd row seat from someone who had an extra.
It was chock full of good times, and ran well into the night. An 11:30 finale is a rarity at a UCLA concert, so everyone got their big-moneys worth. Me and Paul Body had fun, thanks to Kathe Schreyers largess.
1 How the presentation of the old songs differs from, say, a 1990 Beach Boys show (omitting the Pet Sounds part) I know not. The visual difference - and I dont mean vive la - is that where once you had girls in cheerleader skirts and pompoms now you have nerds.
2 Since hes correcting the past with Smile, why doesnt he omit Sloop John B from Pet Sounds? It was there only because Capitol insisted the album have a hit on it - it wasnt written for the suite.
I (Probably) Wont Get Whod Again
My fr works at a radio station, so every Friday afternoon salesmen give him leftover tickets to shows. We walked across the street from my house to the Hollywood Bowl and took our not-bad seats. They played a bunch of songs and the band and the crowd seemed to enjoy them.
I was startled by light-projectiles from the stage. The bands video parade was augmented, at the side, by the venues six staggered-back shots of the show in progress and THAT was amplified by a wall of what seemed like 400 headlights beamed into the crowd. I thought nothing of it until at 30-minutes the lights went black.
It was probably intentional, but a bad move for marginal fans. With the light onslaught stilled, I felt my tension, which I hadnt noticed, slump. Immediately the light-attack resumed, and we left.
P.F. Sloan at the Largo, and Teri in L.A., 9/27/06
The Largo is a 100-seat club. It was packed with admirers, and he was "on." Guesting for Where Were You When I Needed You were John Cowsill, Vicki Peterson, and Creed Bratton.
Got out at 11:30 and walked toward Canter's with Teri Landi, visiting from NY. A guy was blowing a big baritone sax in a storefront alcove. I spied Rodney Bingenheimer in his car in front of Canters, and walked over and we talked a while, Teri joining in. From the street life we were seeing, she commented that this night L.A. was almost like a city.
Shed taken me Tues aft - after the Old Guys Breakfast3 - to Sam Cooke's grave, which is behind a locked segment of Forest Lawn in Glendale. Sammy Davis Jr and Sr were nearby. Also visited the Burnette brothers graves. It looked like Johnny & Dorsey were side by side, but Kent, visiting from Texas, noticed that Dorsey was born in 1900, meaning it was their father. After that we went to the 101 Cafe for lunch, stopping for them to photo a Lloyd Wright house on Franklin.
3 At 9 a.m. every Tues I meet with Dave Gold, Larry Levine and Stan Ross from Gold Star Recording Studios and others at Fromins Deli in Encino.
Rodney in his Little GTO, Teri wearing her Judee Sill shirt.
buncha guys at breakfast pic (Wed.)
Larry Levine, Dave Gold, Teri Landi, Kent Benjamin. Fromins, 9/26/06
Were in 1961 again. Back then, BBC engineers refused to play Gary US Bonds Quarter To Three because it was so badly recorded. It did not conform to their strict standards of clarity.
Todays pop records are cut to conform to contemporary FM and CD standards, with exacting and precise rules so they all sound the same.
The good news is that, history tells us, within a couple of years THE MUSIC ITSELF will roar up and leave the standards behind.
Ive heard Down The Road Apiece by Amos Milburn many times, but when I heard the Freddy Slack version I finally understood the opening exchange: Hey, man, where you goin Response: I aint goinnowhere, I already BEEN where Is goin.... And Louis Jordans Run Joes chorus goes Louie, Louie, Louie, Louie, Louie-Louie Loo-EE. Did Richard Berry hear this? It was a Caribbean song. It must have been the root of Louie Louie.... West Side Story CDs cite Marni Nixon and Jim Bryant, no longer crediting the singing to Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer....In the Ronnie Lane docu I saw in Austin, his father told him if you play an instrument, youll always have a friend. Why didnt someone tell me that when I was ten? Its such a cogent thought..... When John Lydon was a guest on Steve Jones radio show, he pored over some CDs and exclaimed Cor, The Best Of Bread! Come on, play something and we heard I Want To Make It With You.
Cell Phone Protocol
My phone has 99 presets. How to remember 99 codes? I have a system. Robert likes Love, so hes 77 (7 & 7 Is). Teri likes Cameo Parkway so shes 81 (Candy & The Kisses, Do The 81). Marks a Beatle-boy so hes 64. Rick is 24 because that was Willie Mays number. Swamp Dogg had a song on an album called 1958 so hes 58.
I am a cell-phone defender. People who are rude and careless and stupid on their cell-phones are rude and careless and stupid. Its not the phone.
Driving down the 101 from San Jose, a gal on a Santa Cruz station said That was Joni Mitchell from her Blue CD. Wait a minute - Joni Mitchell never make a Blue CD, she made a Blue album. Nitpicking, I know, but it struck me wrong.
Here in Hollywood, the famous Graumanns Chinese Theater was acquired by the Mann chain in the 1970s and renamed Manns Chinese to the dismay of all. (The L.A. Times obediently honored the revisionism. Variety never stopped calling it Graumanns.) Now Mann is gone and the old name is back, the detritus from the flap a few pathetic footprints saluting To Ted. If theyre alive they should come back and fix them.
Its my ambition to make a zillion dollars so I can buy the Phil Spector catalog and rename it the Art Fein Sound. Money does what talent cant.
The High Cost of Thee-ah-ter 4
We called about tickets for The Lion King musical playing 6 weeks (both sides of Xmas) at the Pantages. We wanted to give Jessie, 15, a Xmas treat, so we asked for orchestra seats. They were $130 each, but that was no problem: Im sorry sir, those are sold out for the run. Lots of rich parents in L.A., I supposed, but that wasnt the half of it. Or was.
We called ticket agencies. We have orchestra seats. Theyre $265 each.
THATs where the now cheap-seeming tickets went.
4 The show should actually cost less in L.A. bec so many of the performers live here or have actor friends who can put them up.
The King Of Rock, 1960-1963?
Erica Easley, co-author of Rock Tease, the big new book about rock t-shirts, asked me who was the biggest rock star of the Kennedy era. I said there were no rock stars, just pop stars: Elvis, Ricky Nelson, Dion.
No, theyre 50s guys she said. But Runaround Sue (#1) came out in mid-1961 and Donna The Prima Donna (#6) debuted November 13, 1963.
Therefore Dion is THE big rock star of the rock-dormant era.
Our Doug is doing well enough. He is being infused with chemotherapy every two weeks, each treatment, he says worse than the last. (Its methodical poisoning, like what you see on The New Detectives.) However, he was well enough make a November Knack gig in NY, and to get this outfit custom-made for his little niece Gretel for Halloween. From beatlesuits.com.
New York - An Easy-Livin Place
I bitch about New York all the time, but its a great place5 with fine people, some cracked. But why do its denizens embrace the line If I can make it there, I can make it anywhere - when it really belongs to L.A.?
New York has character. New York has flavor. The streets have a pulse that transmits energy. L.A. has none of that 6. If you want to realize your dreams here youre on your own. There is no street beat, there is very little artistic harmony or shared vision. You dont want to sweat and strain to achieve your goal? Stay in New York - youre cushioned with a sense of place and connectedness that doesnt exist here.
5 My god! Dont NY ad agencies realize that Brooklyn and wise-guy talk is repulsive to many people? The tv ad for Dominos Brooklyn Pizza features the most sickening New Yorkese you can imagine - to sell food!
6 But L.A. has sidewalks that catch fire, like in the mid-80s when fumes from the tar pits underneath the Fairfax/Wilshire area seeped into sidewalk cracks and shot up flames.
One More New York Item
The L.A. Times ran a news brief about a bands equipment being stolen from their van near their hotel in NY.
This is news? The man-bites-dog story would be a bands equipment NOT being stolen in NY. I went with the Blasters for their first NY concert in 1980, and Phil cannily backed the truck against a wall so no one could get in the back. So the thieves broke in the cab and moved it forward. Then stole everything. Bandits lie in wait there for traveling bands. Its like the 1800s.
I Can See Clearly Now 7
A young woman on a tv show: Im down for that challenge.
Its finally happened -- down means up.
7 Ray Charles had a good sense of humor to record this song. It didnt strike me thusly til years later.
It Wouldnt Be Christmas Without -
Lets all Give Thanks to the guy who brought us A Christmas Gift To You From Philles Records. Its only the best album ever made.
Bob Lind signing a Rokes album and single. Lind has lived in Boca Raton, Florida, for the past 20 years, and for a while was editor of the Weekly World News there. Art Fein's Poker Party Nov 1, 06.
Rhino co-founder Harold Bronson stares stoically while Nigel Waymouth, founder of Granny Takes A Trip (Chelsea, London, 1965) gets miked. Art Fein's Poker Party, Nov 13, 06
Mistaking my car for a BMW (Break My Window), vandals took not the handles but my cell phone. The LG 8000 phone, dating back to the pre-Cambrian era of early 2005, was no longer sold by Verizon but I found a new one on LostMyPhone.com. Nov 13, 06
Steve Weisberg, unseen, gets miked, while Howard Tate sits Buddhalike, observed by AF and Eric Boardman. Art Fein's Poker Party, Nov 16, 06
Howard Tate performs at Amoeba Records, Hollywood. Nov 16, 06
Howard Tate signs CD for camera-NOT-shy girl in white, while Paul Body and Miss Mercy wait their turn.
Eddie Brown, photog Robt Leslie, and brother Oliver Brown. Eddie, of Joe & Eddie, lives in L.A. and is producing the new album for his brother's band, Gravity. Oliver was in the first go-round of KC & The Sunshine Boys, and played europe for a long while in the 70s as part of the Pasadena Ghetto Band. Art Fein's Poker Party, Nov 21, 06
Newlyweds Dr. Beverly Greene Williams and Jerry "Swamp Dogg" Williams spend their honeymoon with Art Fein. Art Fein's Poker Party, Nov 28, 06
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Mark On the Move
In early 06 I attended the Folk Alliance national conference in Austin, and a few weeks ago a regional event called FAR-West (Folk Alliance Region West) came to Sacramento, and I dug that too. Like the brochure says, Folk Alliance exists to foster and promote traditional contemporary and multi-cultural folk music and related performing arts, and about 350 people came together for 3 days of panels, performance and schmoozing. Aside from utilizing the Marriott meetings rooms and ballrooms, the 4th floor of the joint was converted into a gantlet of about 20 mini-clubs (beds dismembered and pushed up Murphy-style, shade-less bedlamps used for lighting). Around 100 known and aspiring acts played half-hour sets in a round-robin that ran on a tight schedule until 2a.m. each night. If I didnt like what I heard in one room, I just moseyed to the next. These gigs were sponsored by the likes of Kulaks Woodshed, Longhouse Records and the Seldovia Summer Solstice Music Festival (a fest in Alaska that each year draws 300 fans to a town that only has 300 residents to begin with). Everybody networked like crazy, swapping songs and jamming in the lobby and halls.
I caught the magnificient I See Hawks In L.A. five times (with varying personnel since some of the band had other groups like The Loose Acoustic Trio -- to promote as well) and heard Raised By Hippies, Taffy and Why Do You Drive Like an Asshole, among others. I really liked a song that started Do you remember which drink was mine?/Cause its getting close to closing time. To me, these guys are the greatest thing since The Dillards, harmony-wise. Most of their shows had about ten people or so squeezed into the room. Hows that for an intimate venue?
I heard two 4-song sets by Joel Tepp, who could hardly believe I owned a copy of The Buffalo Nickel Jug Band LP he did on Happy Tiger 35 years ago. Id seen him play with Bonnie Raitt and that band in the early seventies and not since. His new stuff (as yet unrecorded) is alternately humorous (a song about how hes worth more dead than alive) and bleak (a song about his divorce). He plays slide guitar very well, and still throws in his main instrument, the clarinet, where he can. Also caught up with another Raitt alumnus, Freebo, whos got a duo with Nashville songwriter Jim Photoglo that is fantastic. (Photoglo joked that they met when they both answered an ad for bass players whose names started with an fffff sound and ended with an o.) They swaped bass and guitar duties, and they each played the hell out of the instruments and harmonized like the Everlys.
I also heard interesting, heartfelt music from a pixie named Anna Wolfe (whos also got a flourishing career as a childrens artist), a preservationist roots group called The Appalachian Songs of Jean Ritchie, and met a swell guy named Sourdough Slim who specialized in yodelling, playing the accordian, and acting like he was on a vaudeville stage circa 1920. He did Barnacle Bill the Sailor with all the voices, dressed in a striped suit, fancy boots and the largest cowboy hat at the conference. It turned out hes quite a scholar of cowboy lore, and does his act in schools, hospitals, retirement homes and folk clubs from his base in tiny Paradise, CA.
During one cocktail hour the Alliance sponsored around the Marriott pool, my friend Sharon Knight told me shed been eavesdropping on a conversation I was having about how great Bold Marauder by Richard & Mimi Farina was and damned if she didnt play the song during one of her gigs the next night! Sharon was part of a large Celtic contingent, most of which were gawd-awful (but not her).
Best of all was hanging out with Rosalie Sorrels, who Ive interviewed a couple times. She was there to present a Best of the West award to Utah Phillips and give the youngsters the benefit of her wisdom and music. She did a fun Q&A with Utah one afternoon, and I saw two of her shows (one at 12:30am despite now walking with a cane, this 70+ granny is still roaring). She told several wonderful, detailed stories (about her short stint raising chickens, her long friendship with Hunter Thompson, and the promise she made her son about picking up hitchhikers), but best of all was her reminiscing about Don Marquis and the composer of the musical version of Archy and Mehitabel, George Kleinsinger, whom she knew in the mid-fifties, when he lived on the top floor of the Chelsea Hotel surrounded by birds and jungle decor. She performed about 15 minutes of the musical, becoming the wisecracking New Yawk feline Mehitabel wow! (Check out Rosalies website www.wayoutinidaho.com) The next national Folk Alliance conference is in Memphis next February. I think Id better go.
-- Mark Leviton
(Marks sixties-themed radio show Pet Sounds can be heard alternate Mondays 4-7am PST on KVMR-FM 89.5 in the Sacramento area and streaming at www.kvmr.org )
It's been about three months since Arthur Lee lead singer and songwriter for Love died. He was one of the greats, man I mean he fronted the best band Boss Angeles ever had. I mean Love was a great rock 'em and sock 'em band. The reason I took up the drums was because of Love. I saw them at Bido Lidos in Summer of '66 and the joint was packed and they were cooking - not only that but the place was filled up with foxes. I put two and twotogether...rock and roll + girls. To a kid from the San Gabriel Valley, green as spinach, that was all it took.
Anyway, Arthur was one of my first
heroes, if there is such a thing. When he died, I had to go to his
funeral. On a hot August Saturday, I made it over to Forest Lawn in
Hollywood, went to the chapel and found me a seat. It was crowded with
friends, fans and the curious. The preacher said a few things and then the
female guitar player from his last band played "Andmoreagain," a
great version. More remarks from people who knew him through the years, Miss Mercy was quite moving. I wanted to get up and say something but I chickened out. Leon Hendrix, Jumping Jimi's little brother talked about how Arthur inspired him. Johnny Echols talked about a friendship that spanned a lifetime, those cats went all the way back to South Central L.A. There was a funny story about how Arthur always landed on his feet.
Arthur's manager read a little from Diane Lee about how much he dug the cats in Baby Lemonade, his longtime backing group. Then it was over and we went up to the hill for the burial. Doves were released as the casket was lowered and oneof the doves was real stubborn; that was the dove representing Arthur. HOW FITTING.
Then we went to Lucy's Adobe, to mill about and talk about old times. I guess he had been a regular there for the past 40 years. It was a
trying day but it was finally over. Well it isn't really over, the songs are
still there. Clark and Hilldale are still there too, so as long as people
are riding down the Sunset Strip, the sounds of Love......the group will
always be there. It doesn't seem like it was 40 years ago that I was
cruising the Strip trying to be hip but it's true. Seemed like it was just
In the words of Arthur Lee, "Gotta Go But I'll See You Again".
The Thunderbolt from Echo Park
Arthur Lee grave marker (album placed by fan).
Photo by Robt Leslie
Photo by Robt Leslie