Month: May 2018

ARTICLE ABOUT Yes FROM SOUNDS, October 21, 1972

A very nice article and interview that explains a little bit of the trials and tribulations that Yes had to go through early in their career. I really liked this one by Mrs. Penny Valentine, given the name Penelope by her parents in 1943. She worked for a large number of publications as a music journalist and also worked as a press officer for Elton John`s record label in the 70s.
Unfortunately, Mrs. Valentine died young, only 59 years old, after succumbing to cancer in 2003. She will be remembered by her writing of brilliant articles like this one.

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How Yes stopped being the little band round the corner and learnt to cope with success Part 1

Penny Valentine talking to Jon Anderson & Chris Squire

Down at Middle Earth a band took the stage for two appearances. Under the unlikely name of Mabel Greer`s Toyshop they consisted of one bass player, a singer, a guitarist and a drummer.
It was 1968. The bass player was Chris Squires, the singer Jon Anderson, the guitarist Clive Bailey and the drummer a guy called Bob – neither destined to stay in the band much longer or indeed have his surname remembered.
Nobody, that night, fell over with surprise. In no way was it the dynamic start of a band that were over the next four years, to consolidate a very special position for themselves as elite maestro`s of a new form of rock music.
In those days the format was rough and almost flung together. The energy that was there had no real direction, the ideas were fuzzy. There was no sign that a sophisticated set of entrepenours was about to bud.

CHANGES

A few weeks later – after a lot of talking – rehearsals started in Kingston, the drummer split for warmer climes (a paid week`s gig in France) and Bill Bruford turned up in answer to a “drummer looking for work” advert.
Something was beginning to stir. Chris Squires remembered a keyboard player called Tony Kaye and got him out of bed in Lots Road where he was out to the world in his basement flat. Literally 24 hours later at a college in South London they played their first date.
That appearance, four years ago this month, with no rehearsals and no money behind them was Britain`s first introduction to a band called Yes who were to go through self-inflicted poverty, enormous business hassles and four personnel changes before finally being accepted as a total entity.
It seems a long long time ago now. Up in Chris Squires` big breezy flat in London there`s an air of contented enthusiasm. Jon Anderson`s on the phone to the band`s manager, Chris`s wife is talking to Jon`s brother – back from Spain for a couple of weeks – and Motown`s golden oldies (picked up in the States) are blasting from the record player.

RESPECT

Outside in the crisp autumn afternoon sits Squires` dark blue Rolly Royce. Once the band tabbed “the group of `69” and then again “the group of `70” – Yes are finally enjoying the success that always eluded them on the grand scale. `69 – it turned out – wasn`t to be their year at all. Neither indeed was `70. Nothing was going to happen overnight for Yes.
For those two years they remained on the precipice of fame – not quite able to tip over the top. Chances came and went, and if it hadn`t been for the absolute belief and dedication of Squire and Anderson, if it hadn`t been for the hours of talking, the weeks of rehearsals, the search for ultimate perfection it`s doubtful that the band would have ever stuck it out.
For years it seemed they were just the little band round the corner. Available and hard working they always seemed to be around, yet something always happened to stop them making that early bid. They drew the people in and they gained respect from other musicians, but the real hard core commercial success that would have lifted them way off the ground – well they had to stick it out to get that.
They were not going to be any overnight miracles and maybe, just because of that, Yes are the kind of band they are today.
It`s understandable then that talking to the two founder members now you get this feeling that both Chris and Jon feel there`s still a long way to go. They`re very wary about sitting back and smiling at their achievements.
Their energy level is still so high it`s as though it`s only just been tapped. And all the best selling albums, headline appearances, Rolls Royces in the world aren`t going to change that.

We go back to that night at South London. It didn`t open any flood gates but it was the first pat on the back of encouragement they had ever got:
“We played `Midnight Hour` and a few 12-bar things and one number we`d vaguely rehearsed. It was total luck that we managed to get through the set”, says Anderson. It was Jon who was going to get the band to survive through the later rehearsal time that was to prove so invaluable to them. He`d borrowed £300 from a friend called John Roberts. He`d worked out that by paying each member of the band £5 a week they could survive and get themselves together for about 10 weeks:
“We`d had some vague chats about what we liked and enjoyed in music. At that time the Nice were getting very big around London and they were extremely good, very revolutionary and into arrangements. I think we were aware, having been with other bands, that you can throw a lot away simply by playing music for the sake of it. We knew it was better to sit down and work hard and arrange the music to our own specifications than dash headlong into work for the sake of surviving and earning money.”
Squire, Anderson, Bruford, Bailey and Kaye spent the time rehearsing at the Lucky Horeshoe cafe in the West End. Their aim was to come up with a set good enough for a residency at the Marquee – at that time the main stepping stone to getting a band off the ground in the London area.
Suddenly mid-way through rehearsals came their first set-back. Bailey decided to quit. It was, it turned out, simply a question of money. The stamina to survive through this bad patch simply wasn`t there. Bailey decided to turn his hand to promotion. “He just disheartened”, says Anderson now.

As luck would have it Squire again came up with an answer to the problem. He`d played for two years in a band called the Sin which also featured a guitarist called Pete Banks. Sin, remembered Squire, had also been into music based on strong arranging qualities. Immature stuff to be sure, but he felt Banks would fit in well with what Yes now aimed to do.
A week before their longed for date at the Marquee, Pete joined the band. Again reactions were going to be mixed. The band played elongated and fairly complex versions of well-known material – including “Eleanor Rigby”, “Every Little Thing” and some numbers from Anderson`s favourite album at the time – Fifth Dimension`s “Magic Garden”. Audiences through the Marquee and some 10 or 12 out of London dates over the next couple of weeks were confused:
“We were very enthusiastic about what we were doing”, says Squire. “But in general the audiences weren`t quite as enthusiastic as we were. We were doing all these gigs through people like Rocky Rovers – well-known promoter of dull gigs at £20 a time – just to keep us going.
“It was difficult getting through to audiences because we were so involved. It wasn`t the direct stuff they were used to, and sometimes it just wouldn`t come off. I suppose now those things would sound fairly banal, but we felt very excited because it was the way we wanted to go musically.”
Anderson, in particular, was feeling that for once things were going well. He was writing for the first time, and because the band were happy with their music he didn`t worry so much about the audiences reaction. They all lived together in Drayton Gardens, drove their own van, lugged their own equipment to gigs – yet the community spirit so important to a band was growing by the minute.

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One night the band were about to clamber into bed at Drayton Gardens when the phone rang. It was around 1 a.m. and it turned out to be the call that finally got them their first real acknowledgment. It was from the manager of Blaises in Cromwell Road. Sly and the Family Stone had been booked for an appearance and – not a rare occurrence as it turned out – hadn`t flown in from the States.
Roy Flynn, at that time manager of Blaises and the Speakeasy, had a club full of top names from the music business and nobody to come on stage. Running around in a panic he`d bumped into Tony Stratton-Smith, then manager of the Nice. Stratton-Smith had told him there was this small band that were going to be very good. As they only lived round the corner and weren`t working much why didn`t Flynn give them a call?
“We had this very small-time equipment and we were still half asleep when we arrived”, remembered Squire. “We did the material we`d got together for the other dates, and included “Something`s Coming” from “West Side Story” which was a Pete Banks` idea. There were a lot of very heavy people down there that night – the Nice were all there and a lot of top business people.
“I think because we`d come in at the last minute and were this little band from round the corner they accepted us very readily and it went down better than any other gig we`d played up until then.”
Still the Blaises date wasn`t to be the opening of the flood gates. A few weeks later Bill Bruford decided he wanted to study economics – a three-year course. He left the band and enrolled at Leeds University. For the few dates that were booked by Roy Flynn (now the band`s manager following their appearance at his club), they brought in Tony O`Riley, a drummer who turned out to be not totally reliable.

“He just kept falling to pieces”, says Anderson. The band staggered on until – as fate would have it – they were booked to play a concert at Leeds University. Bruford apparently came along that night, took one look and decided economics could go by the board:
“Being an outsider looking in I think he suddenly realised what the band could do and missed it”, says Jon. “He came back with us for the Albert Hall date, went back to Leeds to sort things out and then re-joined permanently.”
The Albert Hall date was, in fact, Yes`s appearance at the Cream “farewell” concert. It was a plum date pulled off by Flynn, who knew the Cream and Robert Stigwood from his time at the Speakeasy. It was the first ever big concert date the band had played in their lives:
“We went on stage with 20 amp speakers and played this really amazing gig”, says Chris. “We really thought we`d made it that night. We were as nervous as hell but with 5,000 people clapping – well that was a very loud noise to us.
“It was funny because before Christmas that year we played about four Albert Halls in a row – one was for a Czech relief concert with Family – and everything seemed to be happening very fast. We did our first TV appearance around then too `Magpie` it was, at Christmas!”
Things were certainly picking up speed. Robert Stigwood offered them a huge contract worth thousands which they turned down out of loyalty to Flynn, and they got their much sought-after Marquee residency (“To a certain extent we had to bullshit John Gee a bit to get it”, says Squire disarmingly. “Suffering the pleasure of going round to his house and listening to Frank Sinatra records, saying how much we dug him”).

DISASTER

Yes`s following began to pick up momentum. By the Spring of 1969 they began to feel a little more secure in their music and Roy Flynn had signed them to Atlantic records. They were ready to cut their first album using some of the stage material plus group numbers like “Dear Father” and “Sweetness” and a number written by Squires and Bailey called “Beyond And Before”.
The eagerly awaited first recording session turned out to be something of a disaster:
“We`d got this eight-hour session booked and we just didn`t play one note of music”, says Jon. “We wanted a special organ to sound really incredible – like The Band got with their organ. So we`d ordered this special Hammond and we sat around waiting for it to arrive.
“Unfortunately that was the exact time that Ahmet Ertegun (Atlantic boss) decided to drop in and see what his new band were up to. He spent six hours waiting with us before he decided to give up. In the end we had to record without the organ and add it on later.”
The entire sessions for Yes turned out to be slightly traumatic. And they pinpointed the band`s problems with recording. A new venture for them though it was, they had this vague idea of what they wanted the band to turn out like on the first album. In the end result the album was a total disappointment to them:

LISTENABLE

“We looked towards the Beatles and the Beach Boys who had really strong people producing them and felt that Yes needed that type of leader”, says Jon. “We felt we had enough music and ideas to warrant a very good producer. In the end we got a man who`d been a film dubbing editor and who didn`t know any more about production than we did.
“It`s a shame because I feel with a good producer the album would have been a lot more listenable to. Looking back it seems a shame that a young band can be manipulated in that way. It was a shambles and that`s the way the tracks came out”.
When the album came out the band sat back and waited for reaction. None came. Squire says that it was hardly promoted at all in Britain, certainly not at all in America. What they didn`t know was that despite that there were some American bands who`d got hold of copies and were doing Yes material on stage.
Still the band wouldn`t allow themselves to be disheartened…

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Ginger Baker, Johnny Nash, Wild Turkey, David Bowie, Linda Lewis, Osibisa, Lesley Duncan, Yes, Plainsong, Kenny Jones, Ian Carr, Mike O`Shea, Lou Reed, Bread.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT David Bowie FROM SOUNDS, October 7, 1972

Always nice with a concert review from the time when glam was in its heyday! Enjoy.

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Ziggy in New York City

Chuck Pulin reports from Carnegie Hall

Thursday night in New York. Outside Carnegie Hall a huge spotlight (normally reserved for Hollywood premieres and before that, plane spotting World War Two-style) straffs across the sell-out audience gathering outside. This is the night David Bowie must find success for Ziggy Stardust – must cement all the publicity, all the quotes, all the flamboyance that has winged its way to the States from Britain in the past six months.
Well the audience were certainly in the mood to get involved in every way – they turned up as only New Yorkers could, more heavily glittered, more mincing, more stupendously dressed and made up (male and female) than anything from an Andy Warhol film factory. Everyone was busy watching their own reflections in the foyer.

DIMMED

Lights blazed on multi-coloured hair, boys in specially sprayed masks… camp followers in more ways than one. Todd Rundgren was spotted fighting his way through to his seat, Andy Warhol-natch-turned up with his entourage. The scene was set for Ziggy Stardust – to reflect and be reflected in the thousands of up-turned expectant, mascared, rouged faces.
As the lights dimmed the march from Kubrick`s “Clockwork Orange” flooded through the hall – hitting its climax instantaneously with three strobe lights which played on the entrance of the band so that they looked like a Buster Keaton movie.
Some of the audience was already on its feet cheering – the rest were lighting up in preparation – and Ziggy was on in gold lame and into “Changes”.
The band, Ronson, Boulder and Woodman, were supplemented by US keyboard player Mike Garrison, a New York piano teacher, and it seemed a shame that often the fine rock and roll playing from the band was overlooked in the enthusiasm for Bowie himself.
Still, a nice acoustic version of “Space Oddity” came over with good results and “White Heat, White Light” took the crowd up and off for a five minute standing ovation and even stopped the dancing couples that had been literally jitterbugging in the aisles earlier in the set.
Carnegie Hall was possibly Bowie`s most important American date. It`s New York that seals artists` status. Audiences` and critics` approval here is all important to the final judgement even though it`s usual that the out of town dates have more say in making or breaking an artist.
As far as Bowie`s concerned his entourage must have been very encouraged by Thursday night, and it appears that outside gigs – like Cleveland and Memphis – have already sold out.

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IMAGE

At Carnegie Hall ticket touts were offering tickets for 30 dollars a piece for the show – and so well have sales for Bowie`s concerts been going that apparently a further 15 dates have been added to his US intinerary.
I didn`t feel the amount of hype watching Bowie as I`ve sometimes felt coming off these kind of artists in the past. The audience on Thursday did seem to be totally involved, captured by image, but equally wrapped up in the music.
I`d say Bowie is attracting the same kind of audiences as Alice Cooper brings in and it looks very likely that the success on Thursday will bring Bowie back to New York – this time for Madison Square.
Bowie was tired and not too well on Thursday night. He`d had `flu all day and because he won`t fly endured long trips overland for his gigs.
Nevertheless, he came to conquer New York and he did conquer the audience at Carnegie. RCA Records have just announced plans to re-issue much of Bowie`s material – including “Space Oddity” and “Man Who Sold The World” albums.
It seems that where T. Rex have suffered, Bowie`s won through.

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Dan Hicks, Home, Tom Paxton, Camel, Dave Davies, Chick Corea, Mott The Hoople, Jimi Hendrix, Stackridge, Alan Hull, Lindisfarne, Danny Seiwell, Natural Acoustic Band, Dando Shaft, Slade.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Slade FROM SOUNDS, October 7, 1972

A strange phenomenon sometimes occur in the music business when a band who is very successful in their home country don`t “make it” in another country, even if their language, culture and shared history is the same. This is the story of Slade trying to crack America in a tale that countless other bands have experienced through the years. Slade did very well for themselves in Europe, but it is still a mystery why they never achieved the same levels of success in the US.

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Just a spot of homely vulgarity

Noddy Holder talking to Steve Peacock

Well, they had to drop the knickers out of the show, but a bit of good old Wolverhampton vulgarity didn`t come amiss in New York.
“We had this press conference in New York,” said Noddy, the day after Slade got back from their first States tour, “and all these underground press people were there asking all these really mad questions. All they wanted to know about was our dope and sex habits, what sort of creams do we use, that sort of question.”
So what did they do? “Told them. They weren`t expecting that I don`t think, but we can be just as vulgar as them any day, so we were. The press conference got really well debased after that, it was great fun.”

HARDER

After holding off from the States for a long time, for as long as it took them to achieve a string of hit singles and a solid on-stage reputation in this country, Slade had decided the time was right for them to go and start telling American audiences to Get Down And Get With It. It seems to have worked.
Their tour was opening the show for the likes of Humble Pie, J. Geils, and Boz Scraggs, and from all accounts – Noddy`s included – the audiences sat up and were interested.
“We had to work just like we did in England about a year ago – had to really work on them to get them interested and show them what we were all about. Opening the show, of course, we only had about 30 minutes, so it was a bit different, we had to change the act around a lot, cut out a lot of the humour, and make the music a lot harder.

HASSLE

“But the whole thing worked just like we hoped it would, and like we expected it to. Pie were bringing in the sort of audience who were likely to dig us anyway, so that was no problem, and they followed the instructions – right, they got up on their feet and danced. The only hassle we had was with the cops really – every time people got up to dance they pushed them back in their seats again. That was bad.”
Slade`s onslaught on the States seems to have been run as efficiently and cleverly as most of their operations. They picked the right time, the right tour, and – it seems – the right way of working.
Cutting the act down to 30 minutes, they wisely cut out a lot of the chat – “we had to leave out a lot of the humour thing anyway; some of it they could take, but some of it they couldn`t understand at all. The knickers thing for instance, that didn`t go over well at all” – and left in a set that ran “Hear Me Calling”, “Move over Baby”, “Darlin` Be Home Soon”, “Keep On Rocking”, “Tak Me Bak Ome”, and “Get Down And Get With It”.
If there was an encore it was “Mama Weer All Crazee Now”. If you`ve ever seen Slade on stage, you`ll know that would be a pretty impressive burst of rocking, especially from an opening act.

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They got the audiences going: “Promoters and people were telling us they don`t often see a band, especially a bottom of the bill band, go on stage with the attitude we do, wearing all the clothes and the make-up and stuff, and make such a good impression with the audiences. It was just working hard that did it I think – they were surprised.
“But I think it`s improved the band an awful lot too. In Europe it was getting to the point where the act was getting more important than the music, but America really tightened us up. People over here seemed to want all the act stuff so we were getting more and more into that, but in America they really wanted the music so we had to work hard on that, detail it out.
“The audiences over there seemed to be much more interested in the songs than they are over here, they really wanted to get into what we did as well as get up and rave. We did two shows in a lot of the places, and you`d get a lot of young kids coming to the early house, but mostly older people at the second one. That was a lot harder, because they were usually pretty stoned – it was hard getting over to them.”
But whatever the local difficulties, the tour seems to have set Slade well on the way to establishing themselves in the States. Just as they were leaving for home, “Slade Alive”, the album, and their single over there “Tak Me Bak Ome”, had both started into the chart. From here, they have to finish their studio album, do a European tour, then a British tour, and then back to the States, in the new year.

WINNING

The change has been refreshing in a way – as they predicted, it was like starting again. “The nice thing about it is that I think everyone steps into the States with an equal chance. Like people had heard a bit about what we`d been doing over here, but I think you really have to prove yourselves, to the audiences and to the press. They want to see for themselves.”
Did that apply to T. Rex as well, did he think. “I think it does. Nobody really asked us much about them or seemed to think they were much different from any other band going over there and trying to crack it.”
How did he feel it was going, comparatively?
“I think we`re winning.”

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Dan Hicks, Home, Tom Paxton, Camel, Dave Davies, Chick Corea, Mott The Hoople, Jimi Hendrix, Stackridge, Alan Hull, Lindisfarne, Danny Seiwell, Natural Acoustic Band, Dando Shaft.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Frank Zappa FROM SOUNDS, September 23, 1972

Yes, I am sure that Frank Zappa was a thorn in the side of many conservatives, but his attitude to work beats most of the blue-collar people to the ground. What he left behind is amazing and I think he will be one of in a small group of people that will be quoted and listened to 100 years from now. Only time will tell and it all depends on a lot of factors, but I think I will be right. Enjoy this great interview in the Talk-In series.

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The Zappa Talk-In

Interview: Steve Peacock

It`s been a long time since the Rainbow: for the rest of us, life`s been going on, but for Frank Zappa a large proportion of that time has been spent lying in hospital beds, and resting in his Californian home, recovering from the disastrous incident in London which left him badly injured. Lately though, he`s been writing and playing music; he did the “Wawa Jawaka” album, and started a tour with a 20 piece band based on essentially the same ideas as that album. Lying in his hotel room last week, an air of weariness and a brace on his leg the only outward reminders of the Rainbow, he talked with not a little bitterness in his voice of his experiences in the world of rock and roll.

THE new band…

… is called The Mothers of Invention Hot Rats Grand Wazoo, or Grand Wazoo for short. It`s a 20-piece electric orchestra, and the group is only going to be together for a total of eight concerts. The Hollywood Bowl, the Oval, the Hague, Berlin, two days in New York, Boston, and back home.

Have you decided against having a regular band now?

Pretty much, yeah. I think that of all the unreliable phenomena that exists in the 20th century, the musician may come up in first place.

Unreliable in what way?

Just in unreliability. So, rather than keep something together to the point where it becomes 100 per cent unreliable, it`s better to just put things in small doses and do a variety of things, because I`m interested in exploring a lot of different kinds of music and a lot of different textures, and I see no reason why it should not be possible to put together a 20-piece orchestra for one tour, and then if I feel willing to put myself through the work of putting together another group of a totally different instrumentation for another tour, then I`ll do that.
As a matter of fact as soon as I get off the road after this tour that`s exactly what I`ll do, put together another group. We have a tour lined up for the United States and Canada at the end of October.

UNUSUAL INSTRUMENT

Have you any idea yet what that will be like?

The main thing in it will be that I`m going to be playing a lot of guitar, and it`s possible that it may have some vocals. I may do some vocals with it and probably have another vocalist – probably some brass, rhythm section, and there`s another man who plays an unusual instrument who I haven`t contacted yet.

You`re still finding it necessary or satisfying to go out on the road and play? Because you must be in a position now where you don`t have to.

Not necessarily. I think the only time you don`t have to go out on the road is when you`re in the position of a large phenomenon like the Beatles or the Stones where you sell large, frightening numbers of records automatically. I would rather face an audience and let them see what I`m doing and let them hear what I`m saying exactly than deal with them second or third hand, conversing to them through the print media or something like that.
Certainly I enjoy playing music and a tour is a good way to keep people informed of what you`re doing, and if they like what you do then of course they`ll follow it up with records.

RECOUP

You wouldn`t feel able to get to them sufficiently closely with just records?

Not really, because I’ve got so much stuff all ready to release now that I can’t put out, because you’ve got to wait three or four months between albums because the company who’s distributing your stuff say they don’t get a chance to recoup their money if you do it in less.
In fact we just had a jam session all night, I guess about a month ago. Jean Luc Ponty happened to be in town and so did George Duke and a number of other west coast jazz men, so we had a jam session in the mix room upstairs in a recording studio in Los Angeles. It was unusual because the only thing that was being picked up by a microphone was the drums and everything else was being plugged directly into the board through transducers.
So consequently everyone except the drummer was standing around the console and they could hear themselves perfectly at high volume in quad – no charts, and nobody even said we’ll play this or that, we just turned the tape recorder on and started cranking away.
We recorded all different combinations of instruments from seven in the evening to seven in the morning, and I can’t release it because I already have another album in the can that’s set for release in three weeks’ time in the States, and then we’re doing some live recording over here, and I won’t be able to put that out until … And whenever you put out an album people assume that I’m totally committed to that at the time, that that’s my new direction or something.
I may have been doing eleven different things simultaneously at the time the album was made. but they don’t get to find out about that until the release schedule catches up.

After the Rainbow, did you want to keep those Mothers together, or were you going to disband them anyway?

I didn’t have much choice in the matter. I couldn’t work so I couldn’t employ them. What could I offer them if we couldn’t go out on the road? But even before that last tour we were getting into some kind of recording contract with Mark and Howard so that they could do their own album, however they chose not to mention the fact that we (Zappa and manager Herb Cohen) fought to get them out of their previous recording contract so…

Really? And then they put you down in their press interview.

Well. I would imagine that that’s just the beginning of it, and that there’ll probably be a lot more of that shit. But I find that distinctly unethical because what happened when we got back to Los Angeles was that I started figuring out ways that I could get the guys some money, because our tour was cut short and we didn’t do about six jobs, and also the insurance money on our equipment that got burned in Montreux only got settled last week – they haven’t given us the cheque yet, but we’ve agreed on an amount.

ADVANCE

So while I was in Los Angeles I tried to find a way to give them some bread, and I happened to have a tape of a concert we did just prior to the European tour, so I decided to release that as an album and I managed to work a deal where I got each member of the group an advance payment of 2,000 dollars, which is way in excess of what they would have gotten if I’d just done it under normal circumstances. I find no mention of that in their press releases. And another thing they’ve been garbling about in some of the papers in Los Angeles is that I didn’t call them up or go to see them or anything. Shit. I’m sitting up in my house in a wheelchair with my leg up in the air, and they never bother to come over and see me either. I think the attitude they’ve shown so far has been strictly commercial.

PUBLICITY

It seems to happen that people who work with you and leave, end up bad-mouthing you in the papers.

Yep. A lot of people automatically assume that because somebody says something like that it must be true, and not once for any article that says something, like that, has any body bothered to call me or the office to corroborate anything that was said.
I guess if you took the combined work of all the interviews where people have said things like that and sat down with all the receipts and all the contracts I think you’d find out that all of them were liars. And that the sole reason for people saying something like that was for publicity purposes, because if you say something that is sensational you wind up getting more press.
So one guy says he’s really hot shit, and the next guy reads it and says look, they did it over there and it worked for them, let us do it, and then the next one and the next one and so on. It does work.

I spent some time with Captain Beefheart when he was over here, and from them I got more of a general anti-Zappa feeling than any specific complaints…

RECEIPTS

Well, yes and I’ve seen some of those specific complaints, and I can’t see there’s really any logical foundation for what they say, let alone what they do. It seems peculiar that they forget all the things that our office did to make things easier for them. to help them get started. Like we’ve got receipts for pumping their cesspool, a tree surgeon for his house… just little things down the line that would go wrong, and they’d call up, and we’d fix it for them. It’s just such a weird attitude.
If we’d used the Motown attitude to our acts none of this would have ever occurred, because when you sign with the label you also get locked into a management thing which is also controlled by the office. But I don’t like the idea of doing that, and consequently the only artist we ever had under contract that I produced was Wild Man Fischer, and the reason for that was that nobody else would touch him. We hoped that we could get him some work in order for him to promote his album, and when he wanted to have his contract back, Herbie just handed it to him.

BEHAVIOUR

Does the whole thing hurt you very much?

It depends on the relationship I had with the artist prior to the press releases that they put out. I felt especially uncomfortable, well guess it was just painful in the cases of Beefheart and Mark and Howard. I just felt that that was extremely low behavior, in the case of Beefheart I just don’t understand it because he’s so erratic that he’s likely to say something like that, and then the next day turn around and say the opposite, but unfortunately that hasn’t happened, and he just kept on trying it. Probably he discovered the more he said it the more press coverage he got.

If I can change the subject for a moment, can I ask how long you were laid up after the Rainbow?

I was a month in the Harley Street Clinic, and then I had about another three months in Los Angeles pretty much incapacitated, and I then gradually started improving from there. I’ve had this brace on my leg for about two months, and before that I had a cast on, sitting in a wheelchair. The leg’s not healing very fast, but it is healing now at last. I had a whole assortment of injuries, and it bugged me a little bit to see the way it was handled in the press, a kind of semi-humorous treatment, here and also in the States, yeah. Yo ho ho, he fell in the orchestra pit.

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SENSITIVE

Well, I’m sure that wasn’t intended.

Maybe, maybe I was feeling a little crazy and over sensitive in that hospital. I had a broken rib, I got a broken shin tibia, I had a giant hole in the back of my head, the side of my face got mashed in, and for the first two-and-a-half or three weeks in the hospital I couldn’t move my hands, and I didn’t know whether I had any brain damage or what. I couldn’t even hold a guitar up by the time I left the place, it was too heavy for me.

But now it’s just the leg?

Yeah, just the leg.

Did you start writing soon after you got back to LA?

Oh yeah, I wrote a whole bunch of stuff as soon as I was able to sit at a table.

And are you still planning on “Billy The Mountain” as the next film?

Well, I was planning to do that with Mark and Howard, so I’m going to have to shelve that until I can come up with a new way to package it. And I’d rather not discuss the next one until I’ve made a deal for it. It’ll be a feature film not a cartoon though.

Do you see film-making now as important as much as music?

I see that as just another thing I do. I certainly like to do it. It gives you a slightly different advantage because you can use things like close-up that you can’t do in a concert, build up a little more character that way. I’d say the next film I do won’t be near the standard idea of a rock and roll movie based on the exploits of a certain fixed group; It’ll probably be a little more into being professional actors, and with a slightly different premise to work from.
I’m about finished with investing large amounts of my time in the development of other people so that they can do press interviews and rip me off.

ATTITUDES

This is the unreliability of musicians, you were talking about. Would actors be any better?

I guess not, but seeing as I haven’t had any actors do bad press releases about me yet, I’ll explore that field. As soon as I find out I have trouble with actors, then it’s cartoon’s all the way.

You seem to be very pissed off this time round, disillusioned and a bit down.

Well I’m tired to tell you the honest-to-God truth, got a bit of the jet lag. But something like that would tend to change your attitude towards people in general, musicians in particular, and also audiences, by the way. You just have to view them as a completely different phenomenon, and as I told one guy at the press conference, something like this shows you who your friends are. if you ever had any.

PLAYBACK

So whatever you do now it’ll be for yourself.

Well, to be more specific about it, I just won’t be doing some of the things that were normally expected of me before.

In the way of patronage and so on.

Right. I’ve had it about up to the ceiling, or maybe up to three floors above, of that sort of activity.

Are you carrying on with Straight/Bizzarre?

Yes we are. But as far as actually producing records for people myself, that’s going to be severely limited because I just don’t like the idea of the personal aggravation of getting the playback from it. So my involvement in the record company will probably be to the extent of approving or disapproving of what’s available to sign, and I’ll turn the actual production over to some other people.
That’s what I’d like to find right now, is some competent producers, who know what to do with people of unusual abilities. There’s a lot of guys that can go out and make a straight, slick record, but what if they had to deal with Alice Cooper in the early stage?

Going back to that Beefheart thing: the one specific charge they did make was that you didn’t create, you just take things and put them together.

Yeah. Is that to imply that Beefheart’s music is 100 per cent pristine and comes from no point of origin, or is that to say that anyone listening to Beefheart’s music is befuddled to the point where they can’t trace his sources? Because I certainly know where it comes from, but I wouldn’t tell any body for fear of embarrassing the dear Captain.
I don’t know what one is supposed to say about taking things from other people and moulding them into something of one’s own, but I’ll tell you exactly what I take and it’s not like taking it either, because in all the groups that I’ve had, the personalities of the individual musicians I felt were important enough to build into the pieces they were performing.
When a person is working on the road a certain number of months out of the year and, if they have to play a set repertoire in order to keep some sort of programme and to ensure some standard of quality for the shows that you have to do night after night, it’s better if the people who are performing it have a chance to have some thing they can identify with. That seems logical, it has to me all along anyway, and what I would do was when I wrote for the group I’d take what you might call the folklore of the group and transmute that into musical terms so that the people playing the music got the chance to play something that represented them as much as me.

ABILITY

Unfortunately, some people didn’t like the way I saw them or what I recognised as their folklore contribution, and other people just didn’t like the idea of performing, period. They’d say we were going on the road too much, and then other people felt we weren’t going enough, because if you don’t go on the road you don’t get paid.
In the case of the old Mothers, at the point that they broke up I was in a very embarrassing situation, because in order to tell the whole truth about I would have had to say some awfully bad things about them – about their musical ability, their attitude, their reliability. It was at a point where I knew they had to get together other ensembles and I didn’t want to do any bad press that might encumber them in their new career, whatever it was.

SLOPPED

But to tell you their attitude at that point now: they were receiving 250 dollars per week, guaranteed, whether they worked or not, and had been for a couple of years. And that was a burden I could not bear any more, because the money we were getting in from concerts was just not enough. At the time we broke up I felt that at rehearsals they slopped through the music, taking no interest in refining their technique or expanding musically to new horizons.

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: John Kay (Steppenwolf), Sandy Denny, Head, Hands and Feet, Maggie Bell, Ten Years After, Manassas, Hawkwind, Rick Nelson, Barry Dransfield, Andy Brown, Carly Simon.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
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