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G.H. Harding

BOWIE REMEMBERS — (Via Ultimate Classic Rock) David Bowie was in the mood to try something different as the early 80’s unfolded. He’d been listening to R&B and blues records while on vacation in the South Pacific from the likes of James Brown  and Albert King, and that ended up forging his next musical path.

“I asked myself, ‘Why have I chosen this music?'” Bowie later mused. “It was very non-uptight music, and it comes from a sense of pleasure and happiness. There is enthusiasm and optimism on those recordings.”

Nile Rodgers

In other words, something a world away from the Berlin Trilogy. Then he met Chic legend Nile Rodgers at a New York nightclub. They hit it off, and Bowie shared a few of his demos, including a folky number that would become the title track for his next LP.

Unfortunately, Rodgers was unimpressed. “I come from dance music,” he remembered telling Bowie. “You can’t call that thing you just played ‘Let’s Dance.'”

Engineer Bob Clearmountain and Rodgers went to work, basically making everything bigger: bigger drums, a bigger vocal, bigger chords, more delay. Bowie was with them, step for step. “I really wanted that same positive optimistic rock ‘n’ roll, big-band sound that was very impressionistic for me back when,” Bowie told Rolling Stone. “It’s got a hard cut – it sears through.”

Rodgers also shared an insider’s trick from his hit-making era with Chic. “For me, as a Black artist, it was very difficult for me to get hits because we had fewer radio stations to expose our music,” Rodgers told Yahoo. “So to get attention, a technique of mine was I always started my songs with the chorus: ‘Ahhh, freak out!’ and ‘We are family!’ – and then, of course, there’s ‘Let’s Dance.'”

So much of this was old hat for Rodgers but entirely new for Bowie. “When David gave me this award – for the ARChive of Contemporary Music – he said, ‘To my friend, Nile Rodgers: the only man who could make me start a song with a chorus,'” Rodgers added.

At the same time, however, Rodgers described himself as “persona non grata, when no one would work with me because of ‘disco sucks'” – so, in a way, “Let’s Dance” was a new start for both of them. “This guy, who was considered one of the great, innovative rockers, picked a disco guy who nobody wanted to work with to collaborate with,” Rodgers told Yahoo. “And we wound up making the biggest record of his career.”

It was Bowie’s idea to bring in a then-unknown named Stevie Ray Vaughan whom he’d tripped over at a recent Montreux Jazz Festival. He felt the Texas guitarist could “become midwife” to a new sound that kept a “European sensibility but owed its impact to the blues.”

The result was Bowie’s biggest hit, as “Let’s Dance” topped the singles charts in the U.S. and U.K. Bowie and Rodgers completed the album in just 17 days, and it went on to become Bowie’s first platinum seller.

Vaughan leveraged Let’s Dance to find a much wider audience. “Prior to that, when we made Let’s Dance, he was still working as a delivery guy or something,” Rodgers said in 2012. “He wasn’t even a full-time musician yet.” For Bowie, however, “Let’s Dance” and its parent album became handcuffs.

I’ve listened to him talk about it, and it really was uncomfortable for him – because it put him in a world that even he had never experienced before,” Rodgers told Yahoo. “And I get it: You go from being a very eclectic, avant-garde artist that people had tons of respect for, where you’re speaking to people on a higher level and – I don’t mean to sound elitist, but the appreciation of David Bowie’s music prior to Let’s Dance presupposes a certain amount of sophistication on behalf of the listener. He was very, very on the cutting edge.”

“Let’s Dance” was many things – new wave, post-disco, rock, dance, funk – but it was most certainly not cutting edge. “I tried passionately hard in the first part of the 80’s to fit in, and I had my first overground success,” Bowie later told Interview magazine. “I was suddenly no longer ‘the world’s biggest cult artist’ in popular music.”

His new label wanted another hit, and Bowie dutifully tried. But 1984’s Tonight and 1987’s Never Let Me Down didn’t have the same energy or sense of discovery.

“I went mainstream in a major way with the song ‘Let’s Dance,'” Bowie noted. “I pandered to that in my next few albums, and what I found I had done was put a box around myself. It was very hard for people to see me as anything other than the person in the suit who did ‘Let’s Dance’ – and it was driving me mad because it took all my passion for experimenting away.”

He discarded it all, starting over with a new band of collaborators Bowie called Tin Machine. “He said to me at one session in the early ’90s that he needed to get back to his essence,” late-era collaborator Mike Garson later remembered. “‘Let’s Dance’ was such a big hit, it threw him and he lost his center. For an artist like David, that was very disturbing.”

Bowie had become “something I never wanted to be,” he admitted in Bowie on Bowie. “I had started appealing to people who bought Phil Collins albums.”

Personally, I loved the Let’s Dance album. Having gotten to know Rodgers, I thought it was a really interesting pairing and the fact that Bowie returned to work with him down the road, showed he did too.

Let’s Dance was released in 1983 and Rodger’s work with Madonna (Like A Virgin) was in 1984. Face it, the Chic-man was on a roll. Rodgers to this day remains one of music’s prime innovators. No question.

Here’s the official “Let’s Dance” video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VbD_kBJc_gI

LISTING THE BEATLES — Most people have a favorite Beatles song. In fact, most people grew up having a favorite Beatle.

Favorites are a big part of the just-released book, The Book of Top 10 Beatles Lists, which is very different from the hundreds of Beatles titles that have come out before. It contains 64 Top 10 Lists of favorite songs, albums, films, appearances, and a whole lot of memories and insights from music legends, actors, athletes, authors, disc jockeys, and many friends and relatives of The Beatles…including two former Beatles.

The book’s author, Charles F. Rosenay is best known to Beatles fans for all his promotional efforts and productions over the past four decades. Since 1978, he has presented Beatles conventions and festivals across the U.S., including events in his home state of Connecticut and as far away as Tokyo, Japan. Along with musical productions, for almost 20 years he was the editor and publisher of the world-famous magazine on The Beatles called Good Day Sunshine.

Since 1983, he has organized and hosted the “Magical Mystery Tour,” an annual Beatles Fans Tour in association with Cavern City Tours, that brings travelers to Liverpool and London during Beatleweek on the ultimate fan experience. Charles has the honor of being one of the few non-musicians in the Cavern Hall of Fame, and he has been recognized and cited by the Mayor of Liverpool on numerous occasions.

For as long as he can remember, Charles has been asked to write a book on The Beatles, or on his adventures through the years as a Beatles aficionado, expert, collector, archivist, and promoter. Having edited or contributed to countless Beatles books in the past, and after issuing two non-Beatles volumes, Charles has finally released his own Beatles book that is unlike any other out there.

After years of contacting celebrities, as well as notables who were closely connected to The Beatles’ history, here is a treasury for pop-culture enthusiasts, music lovers, collectors, and fans of the greatest rock and roll band in history. Officially titled Celebrities, Actors, Authors, Mods & Rockers: The Book of Top 10 Beatles Lists, the long-awaited book has been released by Kiwi Publishing in softcover.

Charles called on many of his long-time friends in The Beatles universe to be part of this special book. Included in this unique collection are such people as original Beatles drummer Pete Best; John Lennon’s sister Julia Baird, who contributed the Foreword; Beatles friend and author Tony Bramwell; radio personality “Cousin” Brucie; Angie McCartney, who was married to Paul’s Dad; Paul’s half-sister Ruth McCartney; two members of The Quarrymen, the band that later became The Beatles; four members of Badfinger/The Iveys; journalists-turned-authors Larry Kane and Ivor Davis, each of whom accompanied The Beatles on their U.S. tours; Mark Hudson; who was Ringo’s producer; R&B singer Clarence “Frogman” Henry, who opened for The Beatles on tour; Paul McCartney & Wings’ guitarist Laurence Juber: Ringo’s touring drummer Gregg Bissonette; Brute Force, who recorded on The Beatles’ Apple label; singer Frank Ifield, who was a label-mate of The Beatles on Vee-Jay Records; Chas Newby, who was actually The Beatles first left-handed bassist; and Mersey Beat editor Bill Harry, a friend and supporter of The Beatles from the beginning, who wrote the book’s Afterword.

SHORT TAKES — The new Rock Cellar  monthly features another terrific Ken Sharp interview with Micky Dolenz. Check it out here: https://rockcellarmagazine.com/micky-dolenz-interview-headquarters-celebrating-monkees-tour/

David Geffen

According to Showbiz 411’s Roger Friedman; billionaire David Geffen got married . Congrats David! …

Van Morrison

On a promo-visit for Apple TV’s Ted Lasso, Jason Sudeikis was asked what his go-to music  was and he replied “Poison” by Bell Biv DeVoe and “Into The Mystic” from Van Morrison. Great choices … We just watched the third-season debut of the show entitled Smells Like Mean Spirit and it was great as it opened with a scene of Lasso and his son (Henry) saying goodbye. They covered a lot of material from the first two seasons and set up what should be a thrilling -and possibly last- season … RIP Manhattan-born Bobby Caldwell at 71 (https://variety.com/2023/music/news/bobby-caldwell-dead-what-you-wont-do-for-love-1235555106/

Vinyl

and, via the BBC: Vinyl record sales outperformed CDs in the US for the first time since 1987, according to a new report. Just over 41 million vinyl records were sold in 2022. Only 33 million CDs were sold, amounting to $483m. It was the 16th consecutive year of growth for record sales, about 71% of physical format revenues. Recorded music revenue in the US grew for the seventh consecutive year. So much for people saying that CDs and vinyl don’t sell anymore. Wake up people! … Happy BDay Tony King, Phil Lesh and Billy Crystal!NAMES IN THE NEWS — Tate Donovan; Greg Geller; Jane Berk; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Wayne Avers; Dan Mapp; Plastic EP; Julie Gurivitsch; Vinny Napolitano; Emily Bitt; Melissa Davis; Andy Fuhrman; Bruce Haring; Divaland; Jane Blunkell; Jacqueline Boyd; William Schill; Keith Girard; Mark Alpert; Chris Norris; A.D. Amorosi; Peter Bart; Jeff Smith; Kevin Mazur; Pablo Guzman; and BELLA!

G. H. Harding is a four decades insider to the entertainment world. He’s worked for record companies; movie companies; video-production He’s worked for record companies; movie companies; video-production companies and several cable outlets. His anonymity is essential in bringing an unbiased view to his writings on pop culture. He is based in NYC.

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Kjersti Long (David Kaptein)

G.H. Harding

GO LONG —- We’ve spoken before of 17-year-old Kjersti Long – on Origin Entertainment/ModSquad (ADA) Records. Her latest single “Sad Song” has become a digital-hit and a new album (her second) is in the works.

She’ll also be in NYC for June’s Tribeca Festival and a prominent agency is stepping up to rep her and her play Relative Space is prepping for an opening in the West End.

Said NEW HD’s Zach Martin: “Kjersti Long, at just 17, stands as a beacon of talent and ambition in the music industry. Her journey from a prodigious debut at the tender age of 11 with the album “Stronger Than You Think I Am” on Broadway Records to becoming a significant influencer on platforms like Instagram and TikTok, Kjersti’s career trajectory is nothing short of remarkable​​. Her engagement with her fans and the music community through platforms like Instagram and TikTok, where she has garnered over 50 million views and more than 160,000 new followers, underscores her magnetic appeal and the resonant connection she forges through her music​​.”

She also has a song on the new Vanessa Williams album, “Legs.” Williams’ official video will be out April 26, but here’s an update on her from LifeMinute TV:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eD-Okb_T8CM

www.kjerstilong.com


RASCAL-ING AROUND —
(Via Forgotten Hits) Look for a new Rascals box set coming out May 31st.

The 7-disc set encompasses their entire recorded output with Atlantic Records, 1965 – 1971, including mono and stereo copies of their albums, special singles mixes and some previously unreleased tracks.  (I remember shelling out big bucks for an earlier CD edition of this set … but I’ve gotta tell you, this one has got the COOLEST looking cover!!!).

“The Rascals:  It’s Wonderful: The Complete Atlantic Studio Recordings features 152 remastered songs, including 14 previously unreleased tracks. The first four albums are presented in both stereo and mono, along with significant single edits and foreign language versions. The collection includes a 60-page booklet with detailed notes and rare illustrations from The Rascals archives.

Amazon’s got it for $69.99 (I paid 2 ½ times that much way back when for the original!) so pre-order now.  This is quite the collection!

Interesting that this box set is from the UK-based Cherry Red Records. Founded by Iain McNay in 1978, Cherry Red Records has continued to uphold the same fiercely independent values since day one. Check them out here: https://www.cherryred.co.uk/about

And don’t forget about Felix Cavaliere and Gene Cornish and The Rascals at SONY Hall on May 17.

https://www.amazon.com/Complete-Atlantic-Recordings-Rascals/dp/B0CZ3NHLGG?crid=3S8UG8TZCIC3M&dib=eyJ2IjoiMSJ9.fcz-QxVsrVNGCoS-EbSPkg.htVhtZLFLUN8n9NrR1H-6rJi5fsjLvQexjIPS6c2Ges&dib_tag=se&keywords=B0CZ3NHLGG&qid=1712320481&s=music&

Micky Dolenz at Troubadour (Stevo Rood)

SHORT TAKES — Check out Tone Scott’s review of Micky Dolenz at LA’s Troubadour in Goldmine: https://www.goldminemag.com/columns/micky-dolenz-songs-and-stories-raises-the-roof-off-the-troubadour-all-for-make-a-wish#gid=ci02dac725a00025c5&pid=thumbnail-3

RIP Eleanor Coppola, wife of Francis Ford Coppola at 87. Years ago, I was at a screening of Roman Coppola’s A Glimpse Inside the Mind Of Charles Swan with Charlie Sheen. I loved the movie and at a post-screening event, I met Francis Ford Coppola, who could not have been more approachable.

He invited me to sit at his table with his wife Eleanor. Both were terrific. She’ll be much-missed by the film community as well. From Deadline: https://deadline.com/2024/04/eleanor-coppola-dead-hearts-of-darkness-francis-coppola-wife-1235883537/Happy Bday Brit Brashear.

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Melinda Newman; Barry Fisch; Toby Rasmussen; Roy Trakin; Joel Diamond; Fred Armisen; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Richie Kaczor; Jim Burgess; Tom Scott; Steve Walter; Dan Zelinski; Herb Alpert; Hubert Laws; Eppy; Craig Newman; Jane Blunkell; John Billings; Lora Evans; Andrew Sandoval; Chris Carter; Wen Fernandez; and ZIGGY!

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G.H. Harding

OJ DOA — Perhaps the Drudge Report (yes, the Drudge Report) had the most fitting headline: Cancer Murders OJ.

Yesterday’s news came as a huge surprise at 11:00 AM. For me, firstly, I couldn’t quite believe it was almost 30 years since that trial. When the verdict came in, I was at The Conservatory restaurant in the long-gone, much missed Mayflower Hotel. It was packed and when the verdict was announced there was a minute or two of dead-silence, then gasps. One of the most surreal moments I’ve ever experienced.

I wasn’t a huge sports fan -never have been- but I knew a lot about OJ. Face it, he was an icon And when the murders happened; the Bronco-chase; and trial … it was just extraordinary. His rise and fall was an amazing tale. It was also a major story for all the entertainment outlets. Journalists essentially moved to LA for the 9-month trial. It was, to my mind, the first trial of its kind.

CNN showed some of the reactions from then: then audience reaction at the Oprah Winfrey show was a mixed bag. Some cheered as Winfrey stood stone-faced. The reaction of OJ’s lawyers were interesting too; Robert Khardashian looked shell-shocked, while Cochran and Robert Shapiro  hugged OJ.

As Wolf Bltizer just said: these are moments one will never forget.

We think we know what happened … but now, we’ll never know for sure. An american tragedy for sure.

YES Photo by Gottlieb Bros

YES’ PURPLE — (via Ultimate Classic Rock) Deep Purple and Yes will team up for a North American summer tour.

The trek begins on Aug. 14 in Hollywood, Florida, and concludes on Sept. 8 in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Tickets go on sale to the general public on Friday.

Deep Purple is in the midst of their 1 More Time tour and simultaneously celebrating 50 years of “Smoke on the Water” (52 years now, to be exact). The band recently released a super deluxe edition of its landmark album Machine Head, which includes classics such as “Smoke on the Water,” “Highway Star” and “Space Truckin’.”

Yes, meanwhile, will deliver a career-spanning set comprising material through their latest album, 2023’s Mirror to the Sky. The prog legends are also releasing an expanded anniversary box set of their 1994 album Talk next month.

52 years of “Smoke On The Water.” A classic if there ever was one. Every time I hear it on the radio, I start singing along. Talk about staying power! I saw Yes years ago and it was quite the show; with Chris Squire too.

There are a slew of legacy artists out for the summer and deservedly so. They may not generate the ink of a Beyonce or Jennifer Lopez, but their impact is still there.

Hubert Laws

SHORT TAKES — CTI Records. Remember them? It was producer Creed Taylor’s boutique label which released some of the most dynamic and interesting jazz-records in the 70’s and 80’s (SONY owns them now). From Airto to Milt Jackson; Deodato; Bob James; Jim Hall and Hubert Laws, the music was just terrific. Originally distributed by Herb Alpert’s A&M Records, they went independent and continued with some of the best jazz recordings ever. Even before you listened to the music, all the albums had a deluxe-cover; with some startling images. Check this piece out about their album covers from Medium: https://medium.com/@slishpogodi/cti-records-the-best-album-covers-cdac2e16c534 … 50 years of People Magazine. Rumors spread last year that the weekly was on its last legs.

Mia Farrow

Their first issue was in 1974 with Mia Farrow on the cover …

David Kramer

Director David Kramer won for ‘Best Documentary’ at last week’s NYFF event for his Jimi Hendrix: The Documentary. Congratulations

Coopstock

Coopstock is this weekend in Mesa, Arizona. Guests include Micky Dolenz; REO’s Kevin Cronin; Orianthi; Patrick Warburton; and of course, Alice Cooper himself … Hard to believe that director Todd Phillips, who directed The Hangover, did the first Joker movie with Joaquin Phoenix. It was just startling in every way and now the follow-up is about to come out with Phoenix and Lady Gaga; introduced as Harley Quinn. One trade already termed it a jukebox musical. Stylish for sure it looks just sensational and is one of the best trailers I’ve seen in quite some time. Here’s it is: https://variety.com/2024/film/news/joker-2-trailer-joaquin-phoenix-lady-gaga-1235957692/
… Here’s the trailer of Disney+’s Beach Boys doc.  Directed by Frank Marshall and Thom Zimny – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_Rspu3Xoi4 …  And, this week’s New York Magazine cover heralds the history of NYC through its restaurants. I was ready to see Tortilla Flats; La Cote Basque; Schraffts; Mortimers; Trader Vic’s; and Fontana Di Trevi. Turns out, it’s memories from people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who worked at The Coffee Shop and Keith McNally, who shucked oysters at One Fifth. Honestly, I expected a bit more depth. Great idea; lousy execution.

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Toni Basil; Mark Bego; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Mitch Dolan; Barry Nolan; Robert Lamm; Jacqueline Boyd; Wayne Avers; Tyorne Biljan; Michelle Toscas; Fred Zarr; Abbe Rosenfeld; Shep Pettibone; Tony Darrow; Robert Funaro; Angel Mastrogiorgio; Ellen Smith; Howard Bloom; Jane Berk; Jack Cunningham; and CHIP.

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RINGO’S COUNTRY — (Via Forbes) Ringo Starr had a very busy 2023. He released a new EP, toured, and even reunited with Paul McCartney to produce one last Beatles single, “Now and Then.” One might assume that after so much activity, the 83-year-old might take some time off, but according to the musician himself, he’s still hard at work–and trying something new.

In a video he posted to X (formerly Twitter), Starr shared some very exciting news for his fans. It seems that he’s back in the studio working on new music. That would be enough to tantalize his still-massive following, but the kind of music he’s making is what caught the attention of many.

Starr shared in his video that he was “gonna do a country EP, but as things are unfolding, it’s probably going to be like a real CD—ten tracks.” He then laughed a bit to himself, adding, “Can you believe it? I haven’t done one of them in a long time.”

The beloved drummer last released a full-length album of original material in 2019 when What’s My Name arrived. That set was a minor commercial success, peaking at No. 99 in his home country of the U.K. and No. 127 in the U.S., where he remains very popular to this day.

Since his last album, Starr has been on a streak, releasing a number of EPs, or shorter collections. In the five years since What’s My Name, the drummer has dropped four EPs, as well as a number of singles, live collections, and more. He most recently returned with Rewind Forward, which even saw him collaborating with McCartney again.

For the moment, there doesn’t seem to be a timetable for when fans may get to hear Starr’s take on country. While he may be working on the material, there’s no telling what exactly it will sound like or when he’ll decide to release something.

In addition to a country collection, Starr also detailed yet another project he’s working on. The former Beatle and songwriter and producer Linda Perry have collaborated on another EP, titled Crooked Boy. That set seems to be his focus at the moment, and it will likely be released before any country tunes. About his friend and producer, Starr commented, “She wrote the songs for me. She produced them. She’s a beauty, so musical,” and said that she “has a great vibe.”

Jackie Chan

CHAN ALERT — (Via Deadline) Jackie Chan has reassured fans that he is in good health after a picture of him with gray hair and a beard sparked concerns for his well-being.

The Rush Hour, Shanghai Noon, and Tuxedo star turned 70 over the weekend and marked the occasion with a post on Instagram in which he addressed health fears.

“Not so long ago, a lot of friends saw some recent photos of me on the internet, and they were all concerned about my health,” Chan said.

“I want to take this opportunity to let everyone know, don’t worry! It’s just a character appearance for my latest movie. The character requires me to have white hair, white beard and look old.”

The viral photos were from an event where Chan was on stage with a microphone. He was wearing glasses and clutching papers.

Last November, Chan was cast in a new Karate Kid movie. He will play Mr. Han, the kung fu master who helped Jaden Smith fend off bullies in Sony’s 2010 Karate Kid remake.

In his Instagram message, the Hong Kong actor said he has cherished every moment of his 62 years in the entertainment industry. “All I can say is: I love making movies and I love you all,” Chan said.

SHORT TAKES — Last week were several top-secret screenings for the new Francis Ford Coppola movie Megalopolis. Per an article in yesterday’s Hollywood Reporter, many attendees found it impossible to position. I haven’t seen it, but how can you deny the director’s importance? That said, I knew one person who went to one of the screenings and he has yet to render an opinion on it. Check out the Reporter piece: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/movies/movie-news/megalopolis-francis-ford-coppola-challenges-distribution-1235867556/

Benson Boone

Just caught Benson Boone on Tuesday’s Today Show, performing his song “Beautiful Things.” The 21-year-old reminded me of Tony Manero (Saturday Night Fever) during the short interview with Savannah, Hoda and Carson, but the song was pretty good. He gained prominence through his work on Tik Tok and Dan Reynolds’s acknowledgement – from Imagine Dragons. Check him out here: https://www.bensonboone.com/

Micky Dolenz at the Troubadour

Here’s one more great shot of Micky Dolenz’s from his triumphant show at LA’s Troubadour

People of a certain age will well recall John Hughes’ 1985 masterpiece The Breakfast Club. Certain things age well … others don’t. Check out Molly Ringwald’s take on that movie now from Deadline: https://deadline.com/2024/04/molly-ringwald-the-breakfast-club-elements-havent-aged-well-judd-nelson-character-1235877597/comment-page-2/#comments  … Anybody out there remember Lou O’Neill at the NewYork Post back in the day? …

Savannah Sellers

Can’t see to find Chloe Melas on Today anymore. Sad, but she clearly not the right move.; their Savannah Sellers is a much, much better fit …

Watched the Gershwin Awards honoring Elton John and Bernie Taupin on PBS. Brandi Carlisle performing “Madman Across The Water” is just amazing. Great show. Congratulations … More Sly Stallone news. All I can say is, I am NOT surprised: https://deadline.com/2024/04/tulsa-king-casting-director-quits-sylvester-stallone-accused-criticizing-background-actors-1235878860/ … Here’s the trailer for the biopic on Amy Winehouse from Focus Features. Looks pretty good: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYzIOBwyhIU  … Happy Bday Robin Platzer!

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Terry Jastrow; Dina Pitenis; Mark Bego; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Roy Trakin; Len Berman; Felix Cavaliere; Jane Blunkell; Pete Bennett; May Pang; Ken Dashow; Craig Newman; Jeffrey Sherman; Stu Fine; Mitch Kanner; Eppy; Al Steckler; Dan Richter; Tony King; Derek Taylor; Tyrone Bijan; Michelle Toscas; and ZIGGY!

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Micky Dolenz and band onstage (photo by Tyrone Biljan)

G.H. Harding

DOLENZ AT THE TROUBADOUR — Doug Weston’s Troubadour club in LA is a most storied venue. Back in the day, that was the club to be at and to play at on Santa Monica Blvd. Elton John’s US debut occurred at the club in 1970 when he was a mere 23. Other acts such as Bob Dylan, The Byrds, Joni Mitchell, Poco, Neil Young, James Taylor, Eagles, Neil Diamond, Kris Kristofferson, Linda Ronstadt, Waylon Jennings, Tom Waits and so many more appeared at the club.

Troubadour (photo by Alison Martino)

Somehow The Monkees never played the club (though Micky Dolenz was in the audience for Elton’s debut back then). They hung out there and Mike Nesmith actually played there under the name of Mike Blessing during his Monkee-auditions.

That all changed Friday night when Micky Dolenz and his 6-piece band with his sister Coco, performed there. It was sold-out (a benefit for Make-A-Wish) and it was indeed history in the making.

The evening began with Dolenz’s sister Coco (it was her birthday) doing a short set with the band. Dolenz entered the stage and began with “That Was Then, This Is Now” and “Last Train To Clarksville.” Dolenz peppered the show with many personal reminiscences and his crack-band shined; especially guitarist Wayne Avers, drummer Rich Dart and bassist John Billings. Dolenz’s voice remains as strong as ever; it’s been said that his is a cross between Freddie Mercury and Roy Orbison, which is a spot-on description.

Dolenz and crew then did “Good Morning, Good Morning” and “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” which was preceded by Dolenz’s memories about his time with The Beatles. “Johnny B. Goode” (his Monkees-audition song) and “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” followed with the crowd singing along.

Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” and Elton’s “Your Song” followed, again peppered with Dolenz’s poignant memories.

Make no mistake, The Monkees had just terrific material to work with; songwriters like Neil Diamond, Harry Nilsson, Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, Neil Sedaka, Gerry Goffin and Carole King, but the synthesis of the four of them was pure magic. Dolenz is carrying on that spirit in fine fashion.

Dolenz and band encored with “Gimme Some Lovin’,”No Time” and “I’m A Believer.”

Just a terrific show from start to finish. Bravo!

Seen in the SRO crowd, Alison Martino; Goldmine’s Ken Sharp and Tone Scott; Breakfast with The Beatles’ Chris Carter; Craig Newman from Paladin Artists; Art Rutter; Michelle Grant; Jane Blunkell; Micky’s daughter Ami Dolenz; and Roy Trakin from Variety.

Mario Van Peebles

HOLLY-DAY IS HERE  — (Via Variety) Mario Van Peebles has been tapped to direct “That’ll Be the Day,” the story of how Buddy Holly and other musicians of the late 50’s helped give birth to rock ‘n’ roll and influence the wider societal and cultural landscape, including the civil rights movement.

Music has been central to much of Van Peebles’ work, from his 1991 gangster movie “New Jack City” to his work on “Wu-Tang: An American Saga,” which he co-executive produced for Hulu. Van Peebles is currently writing a musical stage tribute to his father Melvin Van Peebles, to be performed at New York City’s Lincoln Center later this year.

“America’s tumultuous cultural melting pot has produced transcendent musical talent, including Buddy Holly, who was our first bad ass rock ’n’ roll nerd,” Van Peebles said in a statement.

His 2003 docudrama “Baadasssss!” pays homage to his father’s groundbreaking film “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song.” His latest film, “Outlaw Posse” – a Western starring Edward James Olmos, Whoopi Goldberg, Cedric the Entertainer and John Caroll Lynch – which Van Peebles wrote, directed and starred in – is out now in theaters.

The screenplay was written by Patrick Shanahan and Matthew Benjamin, with additional material written by Van Peebles. The script is based on a story by French and Stephen Easley, general counsel to the Buddy Holly Educational Foundation.

Mario has certainly established himself as a creative force, but still, this seems an odd choice. But so was Taylor Hackford for Ray and that was a masterpiece.

SHORT TAKES — Woody Allen says in Graydon Carter’s Airmail: “The whole business has changed, and not in an appealing way. All the romance of film-making is gone.” Sad if his next film Coup de Chance, his 50th feature, is his last. Mired in personal tribulations, Allen was indeed canceled. Me, I wasn’t there and still haven’t made up my mind. But, boy, what a filmmaker. Sad news for sure …

Steve Kmetko

Remember Steve Kmetko? One of the first major entertainment journalists. He was on E and Entertainment Tonight and then unceremoniously dropped. On a podcast (Still Here Hollywood) with Amy Yasbeck, he reveals all. I knew Steve and his canceling was not done the right way at all. Check it out here: https://podtail.com/en/podcast/still-here-hollywood/ … And, Colin Farrell’s new Apple TV+ show

Sugar

Sugar is a visual delight. The logline begins with “an enigmatic detective” Hey, aren’t they all? It’s a bit of Chinatown and Mad Men. Light on story, but a heavenly look.

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Wayne Avers; Tyrone Bijan; Jane Blunkell; Tone Scott; Chris Carter; Barry Fisch; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Jules Asner; Amanda Naylor; Michael DesBarres; Jacqueline Boyd; Jim Kerr; Maria Milito; Dan Zelinski; Eppy; Ken Kohl; Kent and Laura Denmark; Mitchell Coleman; Lush Ice; Barry Schiff; Tony King; Jodi Ritzen; and ZIGGY!

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The Glorious Corner

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G.H. Harding

JIM GORDON — Jim Gordon was a name that appeared on numerous album covers, liner notes and media in the 70’s and 80’s. He was in Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour, as well a George Harrison’s triumphant All Things Must Pass masterpiece and a member of Eric Clapton’s Derek and the Dominoes.

I think his story, at least what he went to prison for, has been documented enough where I won’t go into it again as it was so tragic. He was the ‘drummer’ to go to back in the day.

He appears on records by the Everly Brothers; Ike & Tina Turner; Chad & Jeremy; The Monkees; Beau Brummel; Beach Boys; Bobby Darin; Tiny Tim; Delaney & Bonnie; Traffic; Nilsson; Donovan; The Byrds; Seals & Crofts; Albert Hammond; Dave Mason; Leon Russell; Joe Cocker; B.B. King; Helen Reddy; Steely Dan; Jackson Browne; Minnie Riperton; Mike Post; The Carpenters; Burton Cummings; Maria Muldaur; and dozens more.

Producers Lenny Waronker and Russ Titleman knew his presence only in the studio would turn a mediocre track into something special; he turned a session with them and Gordon Lightfoot into what would become “Sundown,” a monster hit for the artist.

Writer Joel Selvin, who I was not at all familiar with, does a thorough job in detailing Gordon’s life, his records and personal life. Who knew he had a torrid affair with Mama Cass Elliot? Certainly, the incident with Rita Coolidge has been well documented and it again appears here.

Back in those days, medical diagnoses were few and far between and research was just beginning into areas like dementia and delusional hierarchy. Gordon clearly had problems, but the help necessary really hadn’t yet been created. Its a sad story for sure, especially after ready his musical exploits, which were just superb.

This book comes on the heels of the Joe Cocker biography (With a Lot of Help from His Friends) from writer Mark Bego and ties in ever so nicely with it.

QUAKE IN NYC — Friday’s news was all about the 4.8 quake in NYC. Having lived and worked in LA, I’ve sadly become all too used to them. To be honest, it felt like a over-sized truck rumbling by in my neighborhood. Still, caution should be the word to use. After shocks are a reality too.

SHORT TAKES — Patti Boyd sold the original painting that went onto be the cover for the Layla album (titled La Jeune Fille au Bouquet and created by Emile Theodore Frandsen in the mid 50’s) for $2.5 million? Amazing. Its a great cover, but, $2.5 million? Wonder who the buyer who … Not to be snarky, but all this chatter about Monday’s Solar Eclipse, reminds me of Y2K. Remember that? It all seems a bit excessive …

Apple TV’s Constellationwas one hell of a ride. I can’t say I understood it all, but the craftsman that went into it was truly spectacular. I guess the message of the show was that you can go up into space, but when you come back, things can be much, much different. Can one exist in two different worlds was another message too.Apple’s Invasion fared much, much better in my book as such I think Constellation won’t be back for a round-two. Compelling yes, but way confusing … And, RIP John Sinclair. Iggy Pop says that Bowie “Wrote Panic In Detroit” about him. Superb track, still to this day. Give a listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CM3fCUmSheY … With the relative failure of J’Lo’s new album, her forthcoming tour has been re-tooled as a greatest hits one. Check out Deadline’s story: https://deadline.com/2024/04/jlo-rebrands-this-is-me-now-into-a-greatest-hits-tour-1235875649/And, Roger Friedman (in his brilliant Showbiz 411) said that with JLo’s failure and Justin Timberlake’s new album having gone stone-cold after a matter of weeks, a new era of quality music might just be on the horizon. Things change for sure. Check it out here: https://www.showbiz411.com/2024/04/04/the-awful-truth-justin-timberlake-now-an-adult-artist-new-album-is-a-dud-with-just-130000-copies-sold

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Lee Jeske; Chuck Pulin; Andy Skurow; Steve Leeds; Mark Bego; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Shannon Goode; Richard Johnson; Ian Mohr; David Kramer; Dan Zelinski; Vanilla Coke; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; William Schill; Jeffrey Sherman; Jane Blunkell; Barry Fisch; Felix Cavaliere; Jerry Lembo; Dan Zelinski; and SADIE!

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