Tuesday, 26 July 2011
Red: My Uncensored Life In Rock
Sammy Hagar with Joel Selvin
Ask anyone with even just a passing interest in rock music and they will have heard of Sammy Hagar. The man’s CV includes time with two major groundbreaking rock bands with Montrose and Van Halen. He also has a massively successful solo career and has made a great many guest appearances over the years.
This book is exactly as it says on the cover his uncensored life in rock and unlike many books that profess to be uncensored this one really is. Sammy has an amazing candour and honesty about his life even the bad parts and he never pulls his punches. He is honest but he is also fair.
I honestly couldn’t put this book down it really is a great read and of course you are driven back to the albums that Sammy has contributed to over the last thirty seven years.
One thing you couldn’t fault Sammy for is his work ethic and you kind of get the impression that even had he not been a rock star and A GREAT ONE AT THAT Sammy certainly would have been a success whatever road he chose to drive down.
Many people will of course be attracted to the chapters that address the years when Sammy was a member of Van Halen and if I am honest I am sad that the guys in Van Halen can no longer work with Sammy but I also get the feeling that the problems come more from the Van Halen camp than Sammy. No matter sad as that is Sammy didn’t let it bring him down and he went onto another great band ,Chickenfoot a band of equals who don’t play mind games just great music.
For those who love Sammy Hagar this book will be a must have but even if you are not the world’s greatest Sammy Hagar fan (and if not why not) there is much in this book that will interest you because it is the story of a guy who dreamt of being a musician and was lucky with the breaks and eventually made it happen and if that ain’t a story worth reading then I really don’t know what is.
Many years ago TV companies used to make films out of books like this and I am sure if there is an enterprising director out there then maybe it will get made but one thing is for sure reading this book you just can’t help liking Sammy Hagar; The Red Rocker!
Check out Sammy's website here:
Interview with Chris Squire
19th November 2003
Yes first came together in 1968 when Jon Anderson and Chris Squire met up at a London club. Shortly after this historic meeting the band who at the time also included Tony Kaye, Peter Banks and Bill Bruford signed to Atlantic Records. Despite various comings and goings of personnel the band made significant headway in the seventies releasing successful albums like The Yes Album, Fragile, Close To The Edge and Tales From Topographic Oceans.
In 2003 the classic mid seventies line up of Yes which included Chris Squire, Jon Anderson, Rick Wakeman, Steve Howe and Alan White embarked on a tour to celebrate the bands 35th Anniversary with the tour taking in concerts as far afield as Australia, Asia, Europe and the United Kingdom and back playing in front of increasingly large audiences. The band also saw the start of a major re issue campaign with the bands back catalogue upgraded and re mastered and in many cases complete with new sleeve notes and bonus tracks and a successful double Best Of CD ‘The Ultimate Yes’ which even made the British album charts.
To end the year on a high note the band released a double DVD called Yesspeak, which was filmed throughout 2003 whilst the band toured the world. The DVD also featured interviews with each of the members of the classic Yes line up of Chris Squire, Jon Anderson, Rick Wakeman, Steve Howe and Alan White. Jon Kirkman spoke to Chris Squire who was at his manager’s office in Los Angeles and asked him for his thoughts on the previous twelve months, The New DVD and the plans for 2004
Jon Kirkman Let’s have a chat about the current DVD, which is excellent. This last year for Yes has been a number of things really, first of all It’s the thirty fifth anniversary of the band and its been very busy in terms touring. You have been to the far flung corners of the world; you’ve had a lot of your back catalogue re-issued and finally at the end of the year we have the Yes DVD Yesspeak. Was it planned that this year was going to be a very busy year in terms of work for Yes.
Chris Squire Yeah, we got back together at the end of last year and started off with a north American tour and then we pretty much planned to do what we did, unfortunately Jon hurt his back last Christmas so we had to postpone our Asian trip then and did it in autumn but apart from that we were always planning to come to England at the time we did and the only regrets we have is that we didn’t get the chance to do the Hyde Park show because of problems with the promoters. Next time we will be able to sort it out.
JK It was a shame you didn’t get to play in London this time around, I know you played in Hammersmith but I think the Hyde Park gig would have been a really nice gig for you guys to play. As regards the DVD, I think this really caps the year for Yes. It’s been a very successful year that has seen Yes come back right to the forefront of the music business which is great for real music rather than contrived pop music. You must be very happy with your resurgence in popularity.
CS Well yeah, Rick on the tour gave us a little bit of something to hang the possibility of being able to do a come back and people who wanted to come and see that particular line up of the band and I suppose together with that overall there is a re interest in progressive music if you like and some of the younger bands are doing a sort of new wave version of progressive music these days so I suppose it is a good time for us and a good time for the business as well.
JK In terms of the current or classic line up of Yes, you have been the only member of Yes that has been in every single line up since day one. What is it in your opinion that makes this particular line up so special?
CS I guess it is because we are more empathetic with each other, we’re all around the same age and we grew up in the same time and in England as well; obviously some of the people we have played with have been Americans and Trevor Rabin who is South African of course. So I suppose there is a sort of music empathy that comes naturally to this particular line up because of our growing up at the same time and in the same country. Whatever that X factor is that goes into that way of development, scoring and whatever we went through, being post-war babies I guess. It somehow becomes regurgitated and affirmed when we play music together.
JK So, with thirty-five years under the collective belt, how do you choose which material to play live because there’s not been a new album since Magnification so the last couple of tours have concentrated on some of the classic material? I think I have asked you this before! It could turn into a marathon; you have to draw the line somewhere I guess.
CS Well, there’s obviously our most popular songs, which come from around the Yes album, Fragile, plus the Close to The Edge Era, you know that people always want to hear. We try to vary other stuff around that and when we had Magnification we always try to present at least two or three songs from the latest album or most current thing we’re involved with and apart from that we maybe suggest something that hasn’t been played for a while, that’s all it is.
JK One of my favourite Yes songs has made a re appearance in the set and it’s featured in the Yesspeak DVD and that’s South Side Of The Sky. I never actually thought I’d hear Yes perform that song because it wasn’t a song that was played a great deal when Fragile came out. Is there a particular song of yours that Yes haven’t played for a while that you would maybe like to see back in the set?
CS That definitely was one of them and you know for a long time on our website YesWorld and other websites it had been requested by the fan base so I guess we found a way of doing it. We had tried it on a few occasions but it had never quite taken off and I don’t quite know why because when we finally got round to rehearsing it on this particular tour it seemed to be ok and it got better as we went on.
JK Something that was mentioned to me by a fan of your later period in other words the 90125, The Drama, Big Generator Period, they were a little disappointed that Yes this time round weren’t playing too much of that material. But I guess it must be understandable with the particular line up that you have.
CS Well there is that, obviously it makes sense to play more songs that Rick and Steve were involved with. We sometimes play Owner of a Lonely Heart, which is something that Steve had resisted for quite a while you know but now he’s kind of ok with it but it’s hard for me to answer this question because I’ve always played everything we’ve ever done! It’s not really a good question for me because obviously I will play anything that we have done from whatever.
JK I’ve noticed that for a few years you’ve played Tempus Fugit, as part of a solo would there ever be any likelihood of the current line up of Yes ever touching anything from Drama?
CS That’s one of those circular situations. We’ve mentioned it to Jon on a couple of occasions you know, “How about doing that?” and he goes, “Yeah, that’s a great idea.” And that’s as far as it goes.
JK Well I asked him that once and he asked me which songs I’d like to see you do and I said, “Well, I’d like to see you do Into The Lens and Tempus Fugit and Machine Messiah” and he said, “Maybe we’ll do those.” But that’s about as far as it went, he was quite diplomatic!
CS Well, exactly, you got a diplomatic answer but let’s face it it’s quite wordy Tempus Fugit and Jon doesn’t like those words so if he ever got round to doing it he would have to do some studying of someone else’s lyrics. I don’t know, it’s possible, when we do touring next spring we might try and do a couple of things we haven’t done before and I imagine we could do that but we’ll just have to see how it works out.
JK As a fan I would like to see a new studio album from this line up and I would imagine record companies might be interested now they’ve seen how popular Yes is again. Would that be the case?
CS Most likely so yeah. Unfortunately they’re going through their own troubles right now. I’m not ever sure whether Warner Bros. is going to exist for much longer so we’re just keeping an eye on what’s going on. We haven’t made any deals yet but obviously we would like a new studio album, which we will be doing next year. We’d obviously like it to be with one of the major companies and there’s a good chance that that could happen.
JK On the Yesspeak DVD, each of the band members has their individual chapter. One of my favourite quotes from the DVD is from your chapter when you were talking about Fish Out Of Water and although you’ve worked with Billy Sherwood in the Conspiracy line up you haven’t actually released a solo album but as you said, “It’s only 28 years!” Is there a chance that there will be a follow up to Fish out of Water?
CS Yes but I don’t know whether it will be the same kind of an album or not. I was hoping one day to work again with my very good friend Andrew Jackman, unfortunately he passed away earlier this year, which was very sad, and you know it was really a bit of a shock to his family and everyone who knew him because he was a vibrant and healthy type of character. He suddenly passed away because of a stroke. So that is something that for now I have had to rule out because Andrew was very much a part of the whole Fish Out Of Water project in the way that he orchestrated arrangements and he worked very closely with me doing that. Obviously a second solo album would be probably different. I definitely had planned to do it and I probably will be starting work on it quite soon.
JK In wrapping up the interview, next year looks to be as busy for Yes as the last twelve months. Looking back over the last thirty-five years, it must give you an enormous amount of satisfaction looking at the body of work that Yes has produced and the fact that thirty-five years later you’re still together.
CS It is surprising that we are still together after thirty-five years and with basically the mid-seventies line up. I’m very happy that everyone is alive and well and still enjoying playing music with each other.
JK Take care and keep doing what you’re doing because to my mind and to my ears, it’s wonderful.
CS Ok Jon Thanks.
© Jon Kirkman 2003 and 2011
Check out the Official Yes Website Yesworld here:
Interview with Chris Dreja:
Yardbirds 15th May 2005
Chris Dreja was a member of the Yardbirds. The Yardbirds were one of the most influential bands of the sixties and responsible for giving three of the worlds greatest guitarists their major debut into the music business. I am of course referring to Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page.
When the Yardbirds first split in 1968 Chris was originally pencilled in to be a member of The New Yardbirds although he very quickly decided he would rather concentrate on his other love of photography. The New Yardbirds of course very quickly became Led Zeppelin. Chris Dreja was responsible for providing the group shots on the rear of the first Led Zeppelin album.
In the early eighties Chris was involved in the Box Of Frogs project which featured former members of the Yardbirds. In the late nineties however Chris and fellow founder member of the Yardbirds Jim McCarty re formed the band with great critical and commercial success. Their most recent tour of America was with the Doors of the 21st Century.
Jon Kirkman spoke to Chris Dreja at his London home about the Yardbirds, Box Of Frogs and his photography. The conversation began with talk about the early days of the Yardbirds
Jon Kirkman If we start with the Yardbirds; most people would put them into three eras – early blues r n b period, then the pop period and then the rock period, which evolved into Led Zeppelin. How did the band start? Although they are famous for, if you like, the triumvirate of guitar players poor old Anthony Topham gets left out doesn’t he?
Chris Dreja He was quite pivotal actually. The band was made up of two halves originally. One half was Top and I at Art College and Clapton was in the same art stream In Surbiton, Surrey of all places. It was through Top Topham’s father actually who had this amazing collection of seventy eights that were brought from America and not available to anybody. It was black blues music and that was the initial turn on of course. Discovering that music was like the genie coming out of the bottle really. In those days we had really rather kitsch pop music with no free fall and very little emotion back in the depressing fifties and sixties post war.
JK What was it that attracted you at that time? What did that whole era that included Paul Jones, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Eric Clapton latch onto to begin that whole movement?
CD Those who did latch onto it went on to form bands, we were so energised by it. It was in short supply. Those of us who found a Howling Wolf record or a Lightning Hopkins it was a little clan really. I know what happened. Post war England was so depressing for young people; there was nothing for them. It was black and awful. It had loosened up a bit by the late fifties and the early sixties and we cottoned onto this music, which started in pubs really. This created a social forum for young people to get out their miserable existences and this inspired the musicians who weren’t very good initially. We were feeding them and they were feeding us. What we were creating was a way of getting out of that dreary post war crap but with exciting things. It wasn’t just music; it was fashion and all sorts of things. Don’t forget I am a baby boomer and after that dreadful business with the war that does mean an awful lot historically speaking, it felt safe to have children again I guess. That produced an amazing amount of young people my age that wanted to break out of the dreadful rigours of this establishment that seemed to want to control all England.
JK How long had the band been going before it was decided that Top Topham would leave? Did he decide on his own or did it happen differently?
CD His parents (Laughs). I say that but Topham is still a great guitar player. He went on to play for Chicken Shack He actually was out of all us the most talented artist around. Clapton and I were all into music but he got dropped at Kingston Arts School because his attentions were elsewhere but Top’s parents, when we were getting wages from it (It was totally obsessive for us you know. You have to be really for things like that) grounded him unfortunately and that is when we got Clapton. He was really the only professional player we knew out there who had any background in the music we were doing.
JK How special was Eric Clapton considered to be even then? Some say he was ok, the best of the bunch. Then others say he was really good.
CD There are various viewpoints. Don’t forget he was very young like all of us when he joined. Everyone forgets that apart from Jimmy Page probably we were very unknown and young in our obvious talent. Clapton used to rehearse phrases for a weekend or a week at a time. He was very much a journeyman. But he did have a charisma, no doubt about it. When I say charisma, I think it is well known from his family background being illegitimate and everything, he was very single minded and used to re-create himself fashion wise and all sorts of things almost on a monthly basis. He did attract people quickly because of his charisma and he did grow quickly in terms of stature as a guitar player too.
JK He got the nickname ‘Slow hand’ when he was with the Yardbirds didn’t he?
CD That was because he broke strings, people used to slow handclap while he changed them! In those days we didn’t have those convenient Ernie Ball strings and we used to use things like banjo strings and bend them. We were all terribly young. We all shared an apartment for a while in Kew; I had the same bedroom as Eric so I knew him intimately for a while – we were like brothers. He was a little bit of an enigma but talented, not like Jeff Beck was which was more of a genius mould really, but an exciting player. When I listen to some of those early recordings when he got quite an aggressive sound going you know it wasn’t weedy.
JK When Eric left there was all this – “Oh they have gone too commercial”. It was at the time of For Your Love and Jeff came in. How long was it before that before you knew that Eric was going to jump ship as it were?
CD I was a bit of a junior member and did not like to get too much involved in the politics. I guess we were an amalgamation of two bands as I said, that is Top and I and Jim McCarthy came in as a drummer. We were then looking for a singer and we came across Keith Relf who had another art school background. He was playing with Paul Samwell-Smith and a guy called Laurie Gaines In more of an acoustic country band. We amalgamated and they loved the fact that we were electric with amplification and solid guitars and trying to copy the black guys. Paul did take over the status quo. Eric wanted to pull it one way and Paul and Keith wanted to pull it another way. There was a bit of conflict going on there about who ran the band. At the time Eric was a real purist. He was digging around for anything he could and I admire him for that. We all learned quite a bit from him on the blues idiom. Then he was forever foraging for blues music and the history of the blues as well, ironically when you look at this career over the years. We wanted to do something for ourselves and not just be a blues copyist band. They were all talented guys musically and we wanted to try and create our own sound. We tried things like I Wish You Would and Good Morning Little Schoolgirl and they weren’t bad but they didn’t really dent anything. We still only had a local following. We did want to be known at that point further afield. We came across the For Your Love song and felt that if we recorded it in such a manner there was something eclectic about it that was suitable for the band. Eric just didn’t dig it.
JK How big a part did your manager at the time play in this because all the big bands had someone behind them – with you guys it was Georgio Gomelski wasn’t it?
CD In those days the manager was often the sixth member.
JK They always seemed to be very flamboyant and take a similar view to the artist as well.
CD Yeah they were artists sort of in their own right. Georgio had a film background. He was working with the National Jazz Federation with Harold Pendleton who brought over blues musicians from America. It was an incredible thing to do really. That is how we got to play with people like Sonny Boy and people like that. Georgio was a very flamboyant and creative guy, not with great business acumen but not all of them did.
JK Let’s look at the Jeff Beck period of the band. I find this probably the most fascinating period.
CD You and me both Jon. I find this the most fascinating period.
JK I think most rock biographers home in on this. I have spoken to guitarists over the years that say they have listened to Jeff Beck over the years and still can’t do what he was doing with the guitar then.
CD The man was a complete genius and it was our luck that we had this huge record and an unbelievable talent who joined the band. He came in at exactly the right time when we wanted to experiment and he was able, through his talent on the guitar to help make all those dreams come true.
JK Would I be right in saying though that although he was very good artistically for the band, personally it was a pretty rough two years. He was not the most reliable person.
CD Yeah, I love Jeff to death and still rate him as the guitar player but he is moody and he does get side tracked. We kept him on board and produced some wonderful things. Roger The Engineer for its time was a pivotal album. He was a large part of that. We would often write the songs without him in the studio and then bring him to put his top lines on because he always came up with such amazing stuff.
JK When I think of Over Under Sideways Down, which was pretty unique at the time, and there isn’t even anything like that now.
CD No there isn’t actually. Funnily enough it has just become the music for a Chevrolet ad in America. It still stands up today, we still play it, and it is a great song. Luckily for us very little of our catalogue has suffered the awful defeat of some numbers that are deemed to be awful these days. I am not much embarrassed by any of the Yardbirds material. It is incredible after all these years.
JK Do you think that is why in 2005 there is still interest in the Yardbirds?
CD Well we were rooted and influenced so much by black American blues music, which is such a strong music for anyway. Not that we were great at it but our roots were there. Also we were a rock and roll band. There were no rules in the band we were influenced by all sorts of things and managed to pull them off on the whole with integrity. Basically though I think it is because it was rooted in the blues and rock. It wasn’t too pompous.
JK The Yardbirds catalogue does still stand up to scrutiny today. Just before Jeff Beck left, Paul Samwell-Smith left and you brought in Jimmy Page. If you think about it now, Jimmy Page brought in on bass you’d go, “Go away!” Initially that was the premise, how long was it before it was decided that sorry Chris you're going to have to play the bass as Jimmy is going to play the guitar alongside Jeff?
CD When Eric left we did actually approach Jimmy. We knew him because we were all from the same area. He was pretty comfortable doing the sessions at that time. Paul left because he found being on the road difficult. It's a very uncivilised business, as you know, it doesn't suit everybody. So he had to pull out By that time a couple of years had gone down the river and I think Jimmy was really keen to join a live band. He was so keen that he would come in on bass!
JK How long did he play bass for?
CD Not long, it was such a waste. It did not take any of us long to realise that. I enjoyed playing the bass role, even badly so I wanted to change pretty quickly. Then for a while we had these two amazing gun slingers on stage which worked only occasionally well I must be honest live because of egos and I think Jeff thought his space had been moved over a bit.
JK The big record that people always cite with the twin guitars was Happenings Ten Years Time Ago.
CD I have to say that is absolutely right, if anything came out of it that is a great pop single; a mini opera in whatever it was. It is just brilliant.
JK There is another track that I remember from that time, Psycho Daisies? It wasn’t a long period but it was very influential wasn’t it?
CD It was in the realms of history I suppose. Like so many things they just happen – we didn’t think we were being pivotal at the time like the Doobie Brothers or something. We just had two great guitar players in the band. I suppose the history of that is Jeff Beck is still out there as a top guitar player and Jimmy Page formed the incredible Led Zeppelin.
JK When Jeff left the band and Jimmy took over as sole guitarist, was there much difference in the band chemistry or did it carry on pretty much like before?
CD That band was only together initially for five years; a ridiculously short space of time. It travelled in terms of music and everything else about twenty years I would have thought. It did so much in a concentrated period. It was always evolving. Jeff pulled out of an American tour because he had had enough. Jimmy was still very fresh and wanted to carry on. It worked quite well as a four piece to be honest especially as Jimmy was a master of chording and riffing.
JK There was some interesting material from that period.
CD The best has to be the rather rough but very interesting Little Games album.
JK What I find strange about that is that you were heading in a rock direction and then all of a sudden there was this jump back to the pop stuff. At the time it was probably a totally different feeling for the band but for me it is like two steps forward one step back.
CD Unfortunately the Yardbirds missed out by a couple of years on the album market and the whole thing that happened in the early seventies where the band come on and got it very well together certainly Led Zeppelin did. In those days you were known only for your last single; albums were not the thing. The album was just the afterthought. The record people had brought in Mickey Most who was a brilliant producer of singles but just couldn’t nail one for us and we always felt really uncomfortable doing some of that stuff to be honest with you. He pretty much left us alone with Jimmy to do the album on our own. I still think that the single Little Games is the only good thing to come out of that period. Some of those singles actually are really rather embarrassing I guess and it was very damaging to the band, mentally as well.
JK Recording wise you were doing these pop songs but live it was different. Did you do the pop stuff as well?
CD Well you had to do the latest one.
JK I have a live recording of you guys doing a prototype version of Dazed And Confused.
CD That was much more what we were into. We did one last American tour with Jimmy as a four piece and it was probably the best tour I have ever done with the Yardbirds with great audience reactions. We were developing things like Dazed and Confused and elongating all sorts of things. It wasn’t a pop act at all. The thing about the Yardbirds was, on the one hand it had great pop singles but on the other hand they were a cult band really with everything from punk to heavy metal.
JK The cult has become bigger than the band hasn’t it? It is immense.
CD It is immense. When we broke up we thought we would be remembered for two weeks so to have the thing out there after all these years is extraordinary. When I hear the music and play the music I can understand why. The crux of the band was that it was an original eclectic band that sort of kicked rock and roll and blues. We did change it from the original concept of copying black blues artists. We created something for ourselves. It is sort of deep down gut music.
JK When you split into two groups. Jim and Keith went off to do Renaissance and then it was going to be Jimmy and yourself in the new Yardbirds initially wasn’t it?
CD Yeah sort of. Unfortunately, and I do feel sorry for Keith, he was a great harmonica player and a great writer, with amplification such as it was in those days it was pretty hopeless with the guitar playing. It was a backlash to all that loud guitar music which was really what the Yardbirds was about in a way. He was a more sensitive soul. He also got pretty much into drugs and stuff during that period which didn’t help. Both Jim and he decided that they wanted to do something completely opposite. I loved the heaviness of what Jimmy brought into the band being a bass player. They decided to do just one last tour and then no more and then they went off and created Renaissance which was a very interesting band.
JK Their first album was incredible. Not the sort of album you would imagine coming from someone who had been in the Yardbirds.
CD Yeah but it never really happened after that and I think they walked away from it. Keith died anyway in 1976. It was sad. We had all these great guitar players but for some of the band it was all a bit too much.
JK How long was it before you decided that you did not want to be a part of The New Yardbirds that eventually became Led Zeppelin?
CD (Laughs) Well I was feeling increasingly pissed off that I was being manipulated by all these other people. I had little control in my life. Some of them were into drugs, alcohol, and extreme egos or were just plain crazy. I was finding it all a bit uncivilised to be honest. I had done something like thirteen tours of America and not in a luxury way. At art school I had got involved with photography, I obviously had no idea that Led Zeppelin was going to be as huge as it was. I had made the decision that I was going to be in control of my own life when I woke up in the morning. Apart from going with Jimmy and Peter Grant to check out some players like John Bonham and Robert Plant and of course I knew John Paul Jones because he was part of the session scene. I could see it was going to be a solid outfit but by that time, I must be honest the love I had for music had transferred itself to photography. I don’t regret it; the next thirty-two years were spent organising my own life.
JK You did actually take part in Led Zeppelin in that you took the photograph for the rear of the sleeve of the first album.
CD Yeah I did. That is a part of the history of all that, the link if you like. I am very proud to have done that on that first album. I did photograph Jimmy several times; we had a good rapport and he did like the way I photographed him as well funnily enough.
JK I suppose that is about having a feel for the artist when you take the photographs that are as important as anything else.
CD Well I had been an artist and can see it from all sides really.
JK So, you spent the next few years concentrating on photography but there was a return in the eighties with three out of the four or five members of the Yardbirds in a band called Box of Frogs. Why Box of Frogs and not the Yardbirds?
CD What was happened was that Jim and I were asked to play the Marquee for the twenty fifth anniversary and that seemed like a great thing to do. So we got together with Mark Feltham from Nine Below Zero and John Fiddler from Medicine Head. Paul joined us on stage and we really enjoyed that. Then we just got the idea of writing some songs sort of with that line up and Epic signed us again for that. We did not want to call it the Yardbirds because we were not going to go out on the road. It was always going to be a bit of conglomeration.
JK You did have Jeff Beck guesting on the album didn’t you?
CD Yeah, he did five wonderful tracks. We also had other players as well. It was very enjoyable. I enjoyed getting together with the guys, writing the materials and doing the studio work. I had no intention of going on the road much to the chagrin of the record company. Paul wasn’t going on the road either and I was very ensconced in photography still, as you know. By the time we did the second album it had fallen apart a bit, you know the nucleus. We found we were writing songs and thinking well would Ian Drury guest on this song? Would it be right for him? So it became more of a project I suppose whereas the first album was more cohesive you know.
JK I still find it strange though, a lot of people would just look at it and think, Box of Frogs, yeah but me being a bit of a musicologist would think that there is still a link to the Yardbirds apart from the obvious one in John Fiddler was in Medicine Head and Keith had produced and been a part of Medicine Head for a while.
CD Yeah, it was all linked again. It got a little bit unlinked on the second album. But it was kind of rolling out a family tree of backgrounds and similar bands.
JK After the Box of Frogs, what prompted the Yardbirds to hit the road again?
CD Not for more than a decade. The concept of doing the Yardbirds didn’t come until the mid nineties really.
JK You did seem to be all over the place at one point. The Yardbirds were doing gigs all over the place or so it seemed.
CD We were approached by a very proactive agent called Peter Barton who is still very much around today and is responsible for working with all sorts of bands like the Zombies. He approached Jim and I about reforming, Jim had never stopped performing as a musician and he had some fine blues bands. I think it was a gig in the New Marquee in Charing Cross Road that I thought I would love to play that Marquee as well and also by that time I personally was able to move a bit diagonally as opposed to just up and down. I hadn’t played that music for so long and I found it very enjoyable because it was fresh to me. Although as the original Yardbirds we tinkered with various layers until we got the format right with Gyppy Mayo. It just snowballed and people kept asking us to play more.
JK What is the current line up of the Yardbirds?
CD In a way it is de rigueur for the Yardbirds to go through various guitarists, it has almost become part of the business plan. Gypie Mayo was in the band for seven years – a great guitarist. He has come off the road now and we have Jerry Donahue on board. He approached us. We had thought of taking the band off the road this year but Jim was keen to play on and I thought that if we could find a player it had to be right. We did some rehearsals with some very fine players but it didn’t seem to work, then Jerry approached us and I thought that was so lateral – how weird! His resume is outstanding. We had a rehearsal with him and yes he is very different and his style is very different but I liked that because it is very lateral. He has been playing with us for a few shows and he is feeling his way around and it is rather good.
JK So there is you, Jim, Jerry Donahue and who else?
CD There is John Idan of course who has been a complete stalwart; he replaced Keith Relf and has wonderful integrity as our singer. He is an extraordinary musician, a very good guitar and bass player. We are now on our third harmonica player from Nine Below Zero we've had all their harmonica players bless them (laughs) Billy Boy Miskimmin. It is a wonderful line up still. We never play the same thing quite the same way twice and now of course Jerry is in the band he is bringing different things to it.
JK I can’t imagine Jeff Beck ever playing the same thing twice when he was in the Yardbirds.
CD Well I'm used to that, it was often Eric who used to play the same thing at that time. Sometimes it is scary, you will be out there playing and someone will stick something into it and we are going up this path thinking when will we get to the clearing!(Laughs) Somehow we do and often that bolts on to the material.
JK What is lined up for the Yardbirds for the rest of 2005 then?
CD It is not set in stone but we have been asked to join the Doors on a big American tour.
JK That makes perfect sense.
CD We think it could be good; it is logistically a bit tricky so we are not totally confirming it but I do think that if it can be sorted it could be a great tour. It would be great really.
JK You made an album a couple of years ago that got very good reviews.
CD Yes, Birdland. Some people did not know we released a new album but I am very proud of it. Jim and I were very conscious that it was a blood, sweat and tears job to get that out and were conscious that people were going to crap all over us. I think we did keep our integrity with the sound and the excitement and everything else; although we split the album into new material and old classics redone. Yeah, ninety five per cent of the press was incredibly kind about that album. It is still out there and is still our current album. If you want to check out the Yardbirds in the twenty first century I would firmly recommend from the old catalogue Roger the Engineer, Little Games and stuff. I think the Birdland is a sonic twenty first century look at the band and is also not a bad one to go for.
JK Let’s have a chat about your photography. It has been the prime interest in your life for thirty-seven years now. It must have been easier for you to move into something like that with the connections that you’ve got.
CD Well, I have always found photography very similar to music in certain respects. One is creating visually and one is creating with sound but I quickly became a studio-based photographer with a lot of that discipline (or undiscipline if you like!) the same as being in a recording studio. It suited me very well. I had an art school background and if I am honest I am more talented visually than I am musically and I do know that. I have always been a visual energiser with the band and had ideas about covers and whatever as well as ideas on music arrangement. So it was pretty natural for me to move into photography, yeah. I found the music fairly uncivilised at the time I left it and I stepped into another world. Ironically I was working in New York in a studio and after two years or so no one had ever at that point equated Chris Dreja of photography with Chris Dreja of the Yardbirds! Some messenger came to the studio and said something like "Ain't you that Chris Dreja with that Yardbirds band". It was great in one way. I never told anybody, I still don’t tell a lot of people that a lot of people I am in or was in the Yardbirds and anyway Photography in that sense was such a different world and I got involved in advertising and design as well as some editorial and it was a very complete world for me.
JK Is there a session or anyone you have photographed that sticks in your mind as being your favourite?
CD That is always a dangerous question! I don’t know, there have been pivotal moments. I suppose photographing Andy Warhol was quite a thing and being part of that whole scene…
JK What was that like photographing Andy Warhol? I would have thought it could be quite intimidating.
CD In a way he was a faceless image wasn't he Andy. He never spoke to anyone, he was just there surrounded by people who kind of ...Did the thing. I just did a reportage Job on him for a happening concert in Detroit where he would have created this happening of two people getting married in the stadium coming out of a fake cake. It was completely stupid. He was also there with Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground at the time. So that is a nice bit of history. I have photographed everybody from Richard Branson to Robert Maxwell and some interesting figures in the history of things. There have been a lot of people of the years that I would never have known as a portrait photographer and I suppose looking back over the years it is some of the portraits that seem the most outstanding. I suppose that again is history
JK Is there anybody that you haven’t work with but would like to?
CD Oh blimey, that is half the world!
JK Narrow it down to the music side of things
CD I wish I had photographed the Beatles more and I wish I had picked up a camera in the early years of the Yardbirds as well especially in the Jeff and Eric periods. There were some wonderful historic moments, not just photographing the band but that whole scene really in the sixties as it was developing and in America too. I found myself standing next to every artist who was anybody in America. Dylan, Righteous Brothers, Ike and Tina Turner; the list is endless.
JK I can tell from the way you are talking that photography is still a great passion for you.
CD I suppose in reality I am a split personality. People who know me sometimes think, my God, that is a different person than we know; we know the one who is a photographer. I guess I have a chameleon like double personality. I am probably more comfortable with the photographic one.
JK That seems like a great place to end. Chris it has been great talking to you today.
CD And you Jon. Thanks very much
© Jon Kirkman 2005 and 2011
Interview with Carl Dunn
Carl Dunn’s interest in photography began at around the time of the first wave of British musicians hit American shores in the mid sixties. Since then Carl has photographed many major rock stars and musicians over the last thirty-five years. His book “This Is Rock & Roll” was recently published and features many of the major rock musicians Carl has photographed and stands as an amazing document of the music scene of the late twentieth century.
Jon Kirkman talked to Carl about the book in mid September 2003 following the books publication in America
Jon Kirkman How did you first get into photographing Rock Bands or Artists? Was it by accident or was it something you decided you wanted to do.
Carl Dunn I had always loved music, and would try to attend all of the concerts that came to the area. I suppose that there was a photographic latency there somewhere. I would sneak my mothers Polaroid camera off to school and shoot pictures of bands off the television. My first real photographic excursion occurred when I took that same Polaroid camera to a Rolling Stones concert in 1965 in Tulsa Oklahoma. I took about three shots before getting thrown out of the hall by the police. Later I found out that a friend of mine from school was there with a 35mm and a telephoto lens. I saw some of the black and white shots that he had taken as well as some shots of the Animals and the Dave Clark Five. These photographs left a lasting impression on me, but it would be three more years before I purchased my first 35mm camera (Nikon F). By that time I had moved to Dallas Texas. There were many concert tours that came through the area but even with good seats it was very difficult to get anything that would document my concert experience. Gradually I acquired more equipment, but my biggest break came when a local promoter gave me access to his show's. I suppose the short answer would be I decided early on that I wanted to take photographs of music artist, but had no clue as to where to start.
JK How did you choose the photographs that make up this particular book?
CD In selecting photographs for the book my primary objective was to illustrate a generation of young men and women whose creative abilities had left what I considered a very dramatic impact on me personally and society in general. I also wanted other people to see these young and talented artists and to view the same passion that I was privileged to witness.
JK Do you have a favourite artist that you like to work with and more importantly do you always like the music of the artists you photograph.
CD It would be very difficult for me to select a favorite artist from among so many GREAT artist of the time. I would say that Jimi Hendrix would have to be very near the top. But having said that I can see that even when I look through my own work, I recall so many great Led Zeppelin shows, great Rod Stewart shows, ELP, the Who, and so on. Naturally there were a few whose music didn’t interest me as much, but the excitement of a “live performance” always peaked my photographic interest.
JK Are there any artists that you have never worked with but would like to work with?
CD This may strike you as a bit unusual but
I would have enjoyed Frank Sinatra, and some of the more obscure (by that I mean artists that seldom came to the Dallas area perhaps Collin Blunstone, or John Martyn) artist that I never had the opportunity to see. Of the artist that were touring or in play during the time I was shooting I suppose I miss having seen more of Eric Clapton and being able to view him up close.
JK As someone who sees the photographs you take in magazines or on album sleeves I see many photographs in your book that really capture a moment. For example the look on Jimmy Pages face at the top of page 99, do you ever think when you see the photographs developed “Yeah. I got that one ok”
CD Yes indeed. To me it is the difference between a snapshot and a photograph.
JK How easy is it to be non intrusive and yet get close enough to get “That” shot.
CD To me it was very easy. Selecting the proper location to shoot from and having a good selection of lens for the location is a start, but having the access is the key. If I were lucky enough to have seen more than one show that would make "that shot" even easier.
JK Looking at these photographs in the book would you agree that some of them could be defined definitive. Again as an example the picture of Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood on page 95
CD Yes, I think there are many photographs in the book would fall into that category, in fact they imply something about my view of these artist.
JK I see that you have photographs of Elvis Presley in the book. How much time do you get when you photograph a big star like that and how much of a say on where the photos go do you have as Elvis Presley’s management seemed to control everything about him at the time.
CD Elvis was probably one of the first artists whose management tried to control what the public would be allowed access to. They had his image on everything from coffee cups to ashtrays.
I was able to shoot during the entire show, however I would never venture backstage, because I was aware of the tight control that accompanied Elvis tours. Shooting from the front of the stage was the best position. I was surprised by the lack of production in Elvis shows. The lighting was usually very harsh, and concentrated exclusively on Elvis.
JK Do you have a favourite photograph in the book and if so which one is it? (My favourite incidentally is Pete Townshend on page 131. I’m a bit biased though as I’m a massive Who fan
CD Here again this is a very difficult call. I do have a particular passion for the shot of Jimi Hendrix on page 34. I have always wanted to see that shot in print.
JK I see that the book is entitled “This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Volume One”. How soon can we expect to see Volume 2?
CD I've actually been considering a design for Volume Two, but I don't have a schedule as to when I may start producing something of substance, besides I need to see how this book is received. It was a very expensive book to produce.
JK Have you ever had an exhibition of your work and can people buy copies of the photographs.
CD I have had a few photographs on exhibit, and for sale included with other photographers, but never an exhibition of just my work, however all photographs from the book will be available at a reasonable price, as original art.
JK Have any of the artists you have photographed ever specifically asked to have prints because they liked the photographs you took.
CD Yes, I can specifically recall request from the members of Led Zeppelin, the Moody Blues, and Jeff Beck. Naturally I was delighted to receive this sort of acknowledgment and very willing to comply with their request.
JK When you got into the industry there obviously weren’t as many people doing what you do so the market was perhaps a little easier to get into. If you were to give someone any pointers to getting into the business now what would you tell them.
CD I always found that an interesting picture speaks volumes. The trick is to be able to get such a picture. As far as today’s market, it would seem that groups have become obsessed with controlling every aspect of their performance, which would make it extremely difficult for someone who is trying to start photographing music. It would be impossible to do what I have done in the environment of today's concert venues, without some sort of credible background.
JK Finally, your book really does contain classic shots of classic artists do you think that there are any new artists coming through that in a few years time perhaps people would find in a book of yours and be able to say Yeah They’re classic artists.
CD The impetus for what I did 30 years ago was for me the music, and the passion that it inspired. Each generation has had its performer’s and musical trends that represent that generation’s musical taste. It occurs to me that the generation that I represent may have depleted a lot of the essence and environment that made these artists. Whether the current generation can truly overcome this and create their own musical landscape and if that landscape survives, to become referred to, as "classic” would be hard for me to predict. The artists that I have photographed have established and extremely high water mark not only in the quality of what they created but its ongoing commercial appeal. Additionally I need to hear something that can rekindle my own passion. (Here again I suppose the short answer would be "maybe")
JK Thanks for your time Carl your book is an excellent document and archive of great musical artists of the late twentieth century.
CD Thank you for this complement and the opportunity to share my thoughts on a subject that is very close to my heart. I consider music a direct expression of a person's soul.
© Jon Kirkman Rockahead 2003
Check out Carl’s book and website here
Interview with Ann Wilson, Heart,
15th June 2004
Heart burst onto the music scene straight out of Seattle in 1976 with their debut album Dreamboat Annie. Through the seventies the band built on that initial burst of success and released many critically acclaimed and commercially successful albums.
It was in the mid eighties however that the band really caught on worldwide with albums such as Heart and Bad Animals and hit singles like These Dreams and Alone. Following the Desire Walks On album in 1993 the band decided to take a hiatus and the individual members embarked on solo projects or joined other bands.
Ann and Nancy formed the Lovemongers and released solo records and aside from the live acoustic album The Long Road Home which was produced by Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones it wouldn't be until 2001 that Heart decided to gear up and set off on the road again. The album Jupiter's Darling was released in June 2004 and Heart paid their first visit to the UK for a good many years. John Kirkman spoke to Ann Wilson following the last gig of the UK tour to promote Jupiter's Darling and caught up with what has been going on in the Heart camp for the last ten years.
Jon Kirkman Have you just finished the UK tour?
Ann Wilson Yeah, we finished last night. We played at the Old Corn Exchange in Cambridge.
JK I am really upset that you didn’t come and play in Liverpool.
AW I know, and we were right up by there too. We did Manchester.
JK You could have come and played the Cavern you know, where the Beatles played.
AW Does that still exist?
JK Paul McCartney plays there regularly. He recorded a DVD there about four years ago and I went to see him last year when he played to 60,000 people in the Queen’s Dock but the two nights before he took his band in there to rehearse. It holds about three hundred people.
AW Oh that would have been fun.
JK It would have been great for you because I know you are Beatles fans.
AW They are like a cultural phenomenon weren’t they? We’re just a band.
JK They are very special. I grew up with them; I was five years old when I was shaking my head and singing She Loves You.
AW That is pretty cute.
JK That is what got me into music – the Beatles. I guess it is the same for lots of other people.
AW A little dude from Liverpool shaking his head when he was five. I love that story, that’s cool.
JK Let’s talk about the album, it is a great album. It’s your first studio album in ten years. There was the live album but the last studio album was Desire Walks On. When you recorded that album was it decided that you would take a definite break?
AW I think that Desire Walks On was us putting a cap on an era you know. We felt that the whole video and MTV thing was really not us. We were really not having that much fun although we loved the Desire Walks On album because we got to write more songs for that album than we had for the three or four albums previously. We felt we wanted to do something else for a while. We thought let’s put the Heart car up on blocks in the back yard, let’s just look at it and figure out a new way to present it later.
JK Did you envisage the break being as long as it was?
AW We didn’t envisage any length of time for it. We're not that calculating, we just kind of went, this is not happening, let’s do something else now and clear out our brains. If we come back to it, we come back to it and then we did! Nancy went through doing all the score writing with her husband Cameron Crowe and I did some solo stuff and I did a couple of theatre things. We both had children and we did some things that we didn’t get the chance to do before because of Heart. When the time was right to come back again to Heart, we did three years ago. We started touring and we started writing songs again magically like they were just coming down from somewhere. It took us a while to get the songs for Jupiter’s Darling but when we did then we felt, well the time is now.
JK The line up of Heart now is completely different. There is yourself and Nancy of course and this is really the third big change in line up from the original band. There was the ‘80s MTV version of Heart and now another line up. Was that something that just happened?
AW Well Nancy and I were just a change of line up as well. Heart was together before Nancy or I were ever in it. Some other people started Heart in the late 60’s. At one point they were looking for a new singer and I answered a newspaper ad. They hired me and then as it went along it has been a continuously evolving thing in terms of line up. I think that this line up, especially with our drummer Ben Smith (he has been with us for ten years now either with the Lovemongers or with Heart or me) is a pretty solid line up. At least just as solid as any of the others have been.
JK I wouldn’t dream of saying it isn’t a great line up. You’ve got some great musicians but then again I’ve always thought that Heart is kind of like a school for excellence. The band has always delivered particularly live as well.
AW Well that is where I think we come to life the most. Our challenge has always been to recreate in the studio what we do live. I tend to get red light fever in the studio and sound a little bit tense and a little bit less out there than I sound live.
JK The sound of the album is really interesting as well because I can see reference points from Dreamboat Annie, Little Queen, Dog and Butterfly. I guess some of the people who came to you in the 80’s might think that this is a really big departure. But listening to the album I wouldn’t say that is the case at all. I think there are very definite reference points from the entire career.
AW I totally agree. That is to a degree because Nancy produced the record and it is the first time in Heart’s history that anyone who was not a professional producer has produced Heart. There’s Nancy who has been there since day one not taking any orders from anyone in fact the only orders were the ones that she gave.
JK Having been in the band, you people as musicians know what you want but in terms of what is right for Heart, surely you must know what is right for the band anyway?
AW Absolutely and that is why Nancy producing was the perfect thing for us. I can’t think of anybody else at this moment who could produce Heart as well as Nancy.
JK Let’s look at some of the tracks, the opening track Make Me could have been a track on Dreamboat Annie or maybe Little Queen. There are some really good reference points for your influences; I think Vainglorious is a tip of the hat to Led Zeppelin. Would you agree with that?
AW Vain Glorious is funny. We have only played it ten times now because this is the first leg of our tour and people have been commenting on that song that they think they have heard it before. They don’t know where they have heard it before; they think it is on Passion Works or something maybe an old Heart song on an album they have missed. It is a tip of the hat to Zeppelin as much as it is a riff, the band plays all together. It is just like a twisty, turny riff.
JK Some of your tracks have been compared quite favourably to Led Zeppelin.
AW Of course but we are a band of the generation that loved Zeppelin and they were our year 101. We don’t ever try consciously to copy them but I can see what you mean that there are some points of intersection definitely.
JK How much of the album has made it into the live set? A lot of it would transfer very well live. Has there been a fair amount of material in there?
AW In our normal live set night, not at a festival where we have to shorten our set, it is a little over two hours long and we do about eight of the new songs. It is really pretty ballsy because a lot of the time people say, “Oh here’s a new song time to go and buy a beer or a t-shirt!”
JK I can’t see anybody walking out on any of these songs. These are really good solid rock songs. The performance on the album is incredible. I suppose you may stretch it out a little bit live and it is not like it is a bare minimum, it is quite a lot off the album. There are eighteen tracks on it.
AW We tried to cut it down to the traditional twelve or thirteen tracks but we just couldn’t. We tried and tried and eventually said, “Fuck it, let’s put them all on there. “ If people want to switch ahead on their CD players, let them. We couldn’t see which ones to leave out.
JK I know you may not be too keen to look back at the MTV thing but I guess it is a valid promotional tool if you like.
AW Oh yeah definitely when it first came out and the first maybe ten years of it. Now they don’t show that many videos, it is more like game shows and reality shows at least it is in the States.
JK Over here we have a thing called VH1 and VH2, which is a little more what MTV was like in the 80’s, but maybe Perfect Goodbye would make a good single track off the album.
AW In fact that is the one that is doing really well in the States right now.
JK In my review of Jupiter's Darling I have said that I can see this getting heavy rotation on MTV if the band decides to make a video for it. The radio could do worse than pick up on this track. I guess I was probably right on that.
AW You were, and the other one is The Oldest Story in the World.
JK The new album has re-established Heart certainly not in the live arena because you have been doing gigs for the last three years but in the case of recording it has brought the name back. Where do you go from here, from this particular album?
AW Well you know what we’re thinking right now is that for this tour and maybe next year we are going to tour this record and ride this album because there are so many songs on it to develop and there is so much new stuff that we can play. Now new songs are coming to us again so this year and next year we are just going to keep touring and keep writing and then make another record.
JK If it is anything like this I can’t wait. I have had the promo CD for a while and I have never stopped playing it. The good thing about this for long-term fans is it makes you dig out the older albums and think how good they are. Barracuda has been one of my favourite rock tracks for the last twenty-five/twenty-six years.
AW I think that one still retains its original rage.
JK It still cuts, it is quite a sharp song that one. You have finished the UK tour. Where are you going next?
AW Tomorrow night we are going home to the States and then we are going to start the American leg of the tour, which lasts until the end of September. This was just the first part of our tour so all these new songs we are playing for the first dozen times. It is really fun because we are watching people’s faces as they react to them and it is just the coolest.
JK It is great to have you back in the UK and I am glad you came here. It has been great to speak to you. Best of luck with the rest of the tour.
AW Thanks a lot.
© Jon Kirkman 2004 and 2011
The Complete Discography
One look at just who makes up the numbers to Mothers Army is enough to catch your interest. The problem is for many is this actually a really good collection of artists who have made some great music or is it just a collection of musicians having a laugh and jamming on a couple of riffs they knocked together while together in the studio for five minutes.
Well from my point of view this set of albums comes under the former. Whilst the artwork is a little low key the contents are actually rather good and certainly worthy of your interest after all when you have Joe Lynn Turner,Jeff Watson, Bob Daisley and Aynsley Dunbar all linked together on this project it should at least be interesting enough with the talent on display and Carmine Appice, Jeff Watson, Joe Lynn Turner and Bob Daisley have all written enough big songs in their time that everyone will know.
For many the expectations may be greater than the actual product delivered but come on give the albums a try. What you get here is all three albums that this band recorded between 1993 and 1998 the pull is that you get them in this box for the price of a single album so in terms of value for money that is a definite [plus.
The contents are Mother’s Army (1993), Planet Earth (1997) and Fire On The Moon (1998). For me at least it is the latter two albums that will appeal more being as they are a little more refined than the first album although bear in mind that the second album is a little bit more “Floydian” in its approach; obviously the musicians concerned thought they had something and decided to take it to the limit and on the second two albums there are a number of really GOOD SONGS :Way of the World, Fire On The Moon and The Code. Problem is, good as they are they are not quite good enough.
That isn’t to say they are bad they are certainly good enough and perhaps if these albums had originally come out in the mid eighties when the market for this kind of music was absolutely massive then perhaps the band would have had a bigger profile than that of the musicians that made up the band.
The albums were of course rather popular in Japan but the melodic rock community will definitely like this release bearing in mind that the cost of these three albums on import would have been very high. So for lovers of well executed melodic rock this album will be a welcome release
Thursday, 21 July 2011
Bobby Whitlock/Marc Roberty: A Rock n Roll Biography
McFarland & Co Inc
For your average rock fan the name Bobby Whitlock may not mean very much although in reality it should as this man was a big part of one of the most highly regarded albums of the last forty years helping to write some of the songs that helped define rock music. For those people of course who read the credits on records you may well know the name and even own said album.
Bobby Whitlock of course was one quarter of Derek and the Dominos the band Eric Clapton formed in 1970. Bobby had met Eric Clapton through Delaney and Bonnie when Clapton joined the husband and wife led Delaney and Bonnie and Friends. Bobby was one of the Friends
Through many musical adventures both good and occasionally bad Bobby Whitlock has continued his journey through music and continues to make great music to this day these days working with his wife CoCo Carmel
This book co-written by Bobby with help from respected journalist and author Marc Roberty and a foreword written by Eric Clapton, will certainly be a revelation to those fans of Derek and the Dominos but more than that it is a fascinating story of a man for whom the music bug bit early. Tracing Bobby’s life from his childhood ion the American South through California and rather strangely Surrey this book is more than just your average muso’s biography. This is the story of a man with immense talent who has battled through his own demons just as surely as his former band mate Eric Clapton has over the last forty years.
A refreshingly honest account of his life both personally and also musically I found it almost impossible to put down.
Of course as I said earlier for fans of Derek and the Dominos this book finally lays bare just how the band came together, found immense success not to mention satisfaction by the music they created only to lose it through the almost depressingly familiar story of drug abuse. This is not a depressing read however it is one of the most uplifting books and story’s I have ever read and not only that despite the wreckage that the Dominos left in their wake and bear in mind one member (Carl Radle) has subsequently died another closely associated musician (Duane Allman) has also died and one member (Jim Gordon) sits in jail serving a sentence for murder, Bobby Whitlock comes through this all a much wiser man but with his talent and more importantly his soul still intact.
These days Bobby seems happiest performing in a more low key manner although I like many people sincerely hope that Bobby and Eric manage to re convene perhaps as “Derek and the Domino” and produce more fine music together. That really would put the cherry on top of the already happy ending to the book and after all Clapton has recently worked with Steve Winwood performing Blind Faith songs and also Cream so a tour or an album featuring Bobby who really was along with Clapton the axis on which the Dominos revolved should in fairness be considered.
Another knock on effect of this book of course will be that it will point you in the direction of the music he has made and even if the Layla album was the only album he had helped create then that would be enough. Happily there is a whole lot of great music to be found bearing this man’s name and that he continues to make music is one of life’s pleasures.
This book ultimately is a must read book for anyone remotely interested in music or LIFE!
For more infomation and to buy music from Bobby Please check out his website here:
Bev Bevan interview August 2007
The Move was one of the most important rock bands to emerge in 1967. The band came from the Midlands and was made up of what people would call the cream of the local music scene. The band burst onto the scene with their first three records in quick succession, Night Of Fear, I Can Hear The Grass Grow and Flowers In The Rain the latter of which had the honour of being the first record played on the then new Radio 1.
In 2007 Salvo Records began the first in what is to be a series of Move reissues beginning with the self titled Move album and Shazam both of which feature outtakes and new expanded packaging. Jon Kirkman spoke to Bev Bevan who now leads a re formed Move along with fellow founder member Trevor Burton about the reissues and the Summer of Love in which the Move first flourished.
Jon Kirkman 2007 sees the 40th anniversary of the Move bursting onto the music scene. At the time you were billed as an amalgamation of the best musicians of the Birmingham music scene. Do you think that was a fair comment to make?
Bev Bevan Yeah I think that was a pretty fair comment. We were certainly amongst the best at least. I think the Move possibly could have been a different band. I think it was Ace Kefford and Trevor Burton who came up with the idea of the Move and they got Roy Wood involved. I believe at one stage they spoke to Jess Roden about joining. They also talked to John Bonham, so yes were definitely amongst the best but it could have been a completely different sounding band.
JK Your first two singles Night of Fear and I Can Hear The Grass Grow were great records that fitted in with the psychedelic times but the big one that everyone remembers of course is Flowers In The Rain. This record unfortunately didn’t make you much money due to an incident masterminded by Tony Secunda which backfired rather badly on the band.
BB Yes I must say it was a shame but it was never one of my favourite songs. I think I Can Hear The Grass Grown and probably Night Of Fear was as well. Flowers In The Rain is probably the one we are remembered for mainly because it was the first record ever played on radio 1. So, that just keeps coming up every time someone mentions radio 1. I think there is a radio 1 compilation album that features that song as well but only this time done by the Kaiser Chiefs.
JK Well I guess that moves it on a bit.
BB Yeah I am really looking forward to hearing it, they will probably do a really good job of it.
JK I think what a lot of people particularly in the UK don’t realise is that the Move were a bloody good pop band but in America you were seen as something a little heavier and more underground.
BB Yeah I think we made a mistake in not going to America because when we first started off we had a residency at the Marquee club in London and another one at a place called the Bird Cage in Portsmouth. We generally worked with bands like The Who, Hendrix, Cream and Pink Floyd. All those bands went off to America and did really well on what would become the stadium rock scene and we, I don’t know who was responsible for this, probably all of us in different ways, we got dragged more into the pop scene that the rock side of things. This was more instant success and enjoyable being on Top of the Pops all the time and having the girls scream at you all the time but looking back it was a big mistake. The Move should have gone to American in ’67. Then because of the music we were playing which was quite progressive, I think we would have slotted in really nicely along with the other British bands like The Who and Cream.
JK As regards the live element of The Move I think perhaps a lot of people were unaware as to how outrageous their live set really was. At times The Move live were a little reminiscent of The Who with Carl Wayne smashing up televisions sets with a fireman’s axe. Having seen photographs of The Move’s live set it looks like it was a really exciting live performance.
BB It was. The Move, particularly in the beginning ’66, ’67, ’68 were such an incredibly tight and well-rehearsed band. We had four or five part harmonies and great musicianship and on top of all that we had this really outrageous end to the show where Carl would put this enormous axe through some TV screens and on certain shows we would chop up effigies of Adolph Hitler. On one famous occasion at the Round House in London they drove in this huge Cadillac psychedelically painted with a couple of really nice strippers doing their thing on the roof and Carl just set about it with his axe and smashed it to pieces.
JK Of course a lot of people thought it was just The Who doing performances like that. In the seventies and eighties, many more bands took the staged violence a step further by blowing things up and of course we have The Move right in there at the beginning doing something very similar which would probably surprise a lot of people.
BB I suppose so but we worked a lot with Jimi Hendrix and he did a similar thing by setting fire to his guitar and then smashing it up so it was all part of this auto destruction that we and a lot of people were involved in. I think the idea behind the televisions was that we objected to this one eyed monster that lurked in your sitting room but basically when we had a night off we went home and watched the telly like anybody else (laughs).
JK Of course there was a huge amount of notoriety surrounding the release of Flowers In The Rain and whilst all publicity is good publicity it must have been frustrating because these kinds of things do tend to side line a band. Did The Move feel that way about this particular incident?
BB It didn’t do the band any good at all actually. Thinking back to it now we had all the court action going on in the High Court and although we put a brave face on it we tried to come across all rebellious. Actually we were just kids and we were pretty scared. We had the prime minister on our back and the secret service and all sorts of things. It seemed that the whole establishment was down on us.
JK I’ve seen news reel footage of The Move outside the court when the case came to court and Trevor Burton seems very light hearted and almost seems to be treating it like a joke. Really looking at it you can tell that he is very nervous.
BB Well Trevor was the youngest of all of us; I think he was only about seventeen at the time. Ace Kefford was a very fragile character anyway and I think the stress of the court case helped drive him over the edge. I know he probably did a lot of LSD which didn’t help but I think it was only a few months after that where Ace got to the stage where he couldn’t stand it any more and he had to leave. He just couldn’t cope.
JK I can remember seeing a piece of live footage filmed a few years later of the band filming Blackberry Way which is a song that Trevor said that he never liked and yet the band are playing really well. I think they came across, particularly on television, very well.
BB We were all really good players by that time. I’m sure that Trevor said that about the song as well but Trevor is now back in the band and we are doing all The Move songs not just that, the songs that we did back in those day. This includes covers by bands like Cream and Hendrix. We do definitely do Blackberry Way and Trevor is fine with it these days.
JK On the website there is footage with Trevor playing, do I take he is a full time member of The Move now?
BB Yeah he is back full time with us now. So basically it is The Move featuring Bev Bevan and Trevor Burton.
JK How do you feel about Roy Wood’s recent comments in the press about the band? He doesn’t seem very happy about the fact that you guys have decided to put the band back together. Personally I think he is wrong, it is great that you have got The Move back together and we are getting to hear these songs again.
BB I’m glad you like it. I don’t see anything wrong in it either. There are two original members and Carl Wayne would definitely been involved had he still been alive. What we are doing has the backing of Sue Wayne, his wife. She is 100% behind what we are doing. I’m just a bit disappointed in Roy that he has adopted that attitude because we did ask him to be a part of it.
JK I think Roy probably views it as being a bit retro but in fairness how much more retro is it to play ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’ on the TV every Christmas.
BB Well yeah.
JK Personally I don’t see this as a cash in but an interpretation of what The Move did.
BB (laughs) Well its not much of a cash in because we are only really playing small theatres. It has come about mainly because of the 40th anniversary and also because Trevor and I have been working together in this theatre show round the Midlands called ‘Brum Rocks Live’ which is basically the story of rock in Birmingham since the sixties which obviously included two or three Move songs. Not necessary ones Roy had written, songs that for instance we played on stage like Something Else by Eddie Cochran and Shaking All Over. We just thought that this is sounding really good, why don’t we do some more. So it is as innocent as that really. We are not really on this big cash in thing.
JK How do you feel about the re-issues because the record company has done a great job on the packaging as well as the sound of the albums? They really look nice.
BB Well again Jon I am glad you like them, they are nice and I really like them. I am very impressed by the way they have turned out. There is an awful lot of work gone into them in fact there are tracks on there that Trevor and I can’t even remember playing on. There is a song called Move, which I think was a B-side and I had forgotten about. It is a great song and the harmonies on it are great and if I say so myself the drumming is great as well. I said to Trevor that I could not actually remember playing on it but I am so glad that this has been unearthed and people can hear it.
JK So I take it that you are pretty happy with what is out there and what is about to be released in the near future?
BB Yes, I love the first album and I have always loved Shazam. Again, that is out with loads of extra tracks on it. There is a box set coming out next year and also a live album from the Fillmore West from one of our few trips to America.
JK I think the album Looking On is also scheduled for release.
BB That is due for release too, there is a fair bit of stuff ready to come out.
JK I suppose when The Move finally folded and you moved into ELO you probably thought that you had heard the last of The Move and yet here we are 40 years on from the release of the first album. We are talking about the re-issues and you are out playing the songs again. That must be great.
BB It is great but it is this 40 year thing and it is not just about Flowers In The Rain. It is the 40th anniversary of the summer of love. It is much more interesting than went on in the seventies for me: the fact that we used to rub shoulders with people like the Beatles, the Stones and Hendrix and whatever, Carnaby Street and the flower power thing. There was all that anti-Vietnam war stuff going on; in fact there seemed to be so much going on at the time.
JK Good luck with the new releases and also with the live gigs as regards you and Trevor and The Move.
BB The reaction has been extraordinarily good. I am surprised at the level of interest to be honest with you.
JK I think perhaps The Move were more important than even the guys in The Move thought that they were.
BB Maybe you are right but it has been a nice surprise.
JK Thanks for talking to us today. All the best for the forthcoming live days and we look forward to the box set and the other releases coming out in 2008.
BB It has been a pleasure Jon. Thanks for being interested in what we are doing.
© Jon Kirkman 2007
Interview with Boz Scaggs
18th August 2004
Boz Scaggs has enjoyed a long and successful career for over thirty-five years. Originally as a solo artist and then moving to the original Steve Miller Band where he stayed for two albums (Children Of The Future and Sailor) Following his departure from the Steve Miller Band Boz embarked on a solo career once more releasing many albums throughout the seventies first for Atlantic Records and then Sony. His success reached a peak in 1976 with the release of Silk Degrees.
Since then Boz has continued to release highly respected albums and tour occasionally. More recently Boz has embraced a more jazz style, which has also received critical acclaim and commercial. Boz's style encompasses a great many genres and including straight pop soul and jazz and all these styles can be heard and seen to good effect on the new double CD and DVD release Greatest Hits Live. The album was recorded and filmed at the Great American Music Hall in August 2003.
Jon Kirkman Spoke to Boz in San Francisco about the album and the CD and Boz's plans for the future
Jon Kirkman The new album and the DVD are due to be released in the UK shortly. It is a kind of career overview. I have to ask, with an artist like yourself with so many albums released during your career, how do you go about cherry picking the best songs for an album like this?
Boz Scaggs Well there are songs that have been obvious radio hits and songs that have been taken from the most popular album, the Silk Degrees album and songs that are always requested. Then over the years there are certain songs that just seem to work with certain band configurations that I have. So there is a song from the very beginning of my career Loan Me a Dime which is from my first album that is usually requested. I guess I have got a sense of how to perform these things over the years and know the ones that people want to hear the most. Then I have chosen a few others randomly that I just happen to like to do.
JK The track Loan Me a Dime, what do you think it is about that song? Like you said it goes right back to the very first Boz Scaggs album on Atlantic that you recorded with the Muscle Shoals guys in the original version and features Duane Allman of course.
BS I think that is a big part of the attraction, at the time that album was released and that song was heard it was a time when FM radio in America was popular or was just beginning to become a popular medium. It was the first time extended tracks could be played. This song in its original recording was I think eleven or twelve minutes. They used to play it in its entirety. It was just an underground favourite that became a mainstay. I probably get as many requests to do that now as I did then.
JK Some artists like to re-interpret older material, this version is pretty faithful. Would you ever re-interpret or re-arrange it or are you quite happy performing it the way it is?
BS It depends on who I am playing with. It takes different forms every night depending on the musicians I am with. The guitar player, who was on this run of concerts, his name was Drew Zingg, recreated some of the original solos. That is the way he likes to play it. The opening solo he patterned very much after Duane’s solo, there’s a middle solo that he patterned after Duane then from there on he put his own style to it. Actually, not to confuse things but I did the first solo in that. But I couldn’t duplicate Duane Allman. We keep the form the same and it necessarily goes through the same tempo, hinges and progressions. It is a form that gets changed from time to time. Sometimes I don’t do all the singing verses but shorten or extend the song. If you are talking about that song in particular or songs in general, I might comment on that.
JK Some of the songs in general, as an artist it has to be interesting for you as well doesn’t it?
BS You know I haven’t done many of these songs in so long it is interesting to re-visit them. I am looking at a list of the songs now and seeing Slow Dancer that I haven’t done in years, Georgia also. It is interesting for me to put them back together again as they were. They are not the same even if I wanted them to be. Lowdown, Lido has evolved over the years and I do it quite differently night to night and from band to band. I don’t use the same musicians all the time. But for these sessions I wanted to re-create the same general arrangements even specific arrangements, which is not to say that I do that all the time. When I was in London last year I worked with a quartet of jazz musicians and we did some of these songs. They lend themselves to re-interpretation but for this project I wanted to remind people of the original versions.
JK You came through during the development of music when touring was a very important part of the whole promotion process. What is your take on playing live these days?
BS Last year I toured more than I have every toured in my entire career. I didn’t really set out for it to be that way, it just happened. I released an album of jazz style standards and ballads and it opened some doors to me and made some things possible that had not been possible to me before within the European circuit of so called jazz festivals. I played in Japan and from there did longer runs in the States, a week in New York and five days in Boston. I was able to extend my work, even going to Australia towards the end of the year. That having been said and that is the exception because generally I do not tour that much, there is a combination of reasons why I do it. Number one, for three to five weeks every year I tour mostly the west in America just to keep my hand in. Secondly when there is a new album to promote I generally do at least a national tour. It is important to the audience that has grown up with me and I still think it is the best way to get my name out and letting people know that I am out there. I no longer have relevance on popular radio as most people of my generation do not and so that is how you get the word out. I like to perform, I don’t like to travel much any more; they’ve taken all the joy out of that. But I like the musical part of it. I love the two hours I have on stage and the contact with the musicians that I have.
JK I suppose the touring side of things has always been the drawback for bands. Bands and artists enjoy performing but the travelling between the concerts is the tedious bit.
BS Well it used to be rather different because I was younger. You could run for an airplane at the last minute instead of being there an hour and half early to go through all the things one has to go through these days. It is just a different time in that regard. There have been times in my career when I have done extended tours and I have used private planes or buses and that makes the touring a lot easier; when you take the airports and security lines out of the equation it is a whole different thing.
JK What is it like for you when you go to places like Australia and England? Is that an enjoyable experience?
BS Yeah it is really the best for me. I feel like I am playing for the first time in new places and it is really challenging. In some cases it is very rewarding. Particularly for this jazz style album I did last year there was more appreciation in Japan and Europe than there was in America in a way. If I am in New York, Chicago, San Francisco or New Orleans is one thing but to play that kind of material in the hinterlands gives no appreciation or background for the most part. I feel they are a more sophisticated audience in many cases in Europe.
JK If we look at the current DVD, which has been beautifully filmed, it is a very intimate venue, are these the sort of venues you prefer to play?
BS I’d say I prefer a concert audience with this material. Last year and this year I played in Japan for a month, a week each in these clubs called the Blue Notes that are large jazz clubs with great sound systems. That is an ideal venue or I am thinking of several concert halls with eight hundred to eighteen hundred seats is really good for what I am doing. It is intimate enough but large enough so that the dynamics are right. The highs are higher and the lows are lower. Clubs in general are fun; there is an intimacy with the audience and a sort of excitement that you can get. If I have a couple of horns the Jazz Café is a great place to play. I think I am more comfortable in an eight hundred to eighteen hundred seat concert situation.
JK The DVD was filmed at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco; I was thinking that there are a lot of theatres in England very similar to that in capacity. We have a lot of older theatres. I was wondering if you would do some dates over here; I would love to see you live.
BS Actually I am thinking of an ensemble that would be more like the one I brought to the Jazz Café last year. I like a basic quartet and a couple of horns. Those would be perfect settings. I was also thinking of this band that was a ten-piece band, which is pretty big.
JK It is kind of like moving an army really isn’t it?
BS It really is. With an ensemble of that size you are confined to certain arrangements. It is not a free form or open to experimentation. The arrangements have to stay within a certain framework, which isn’t as much fun musically as being able to improvise with a smaller group that is more flexible.
JK The album is beautifully recorded and filmed. You must be very proud of the way it has turned out?
BS I think it is very well crafted, I am pleased with the surround sound particularly. In trying to define what this is going to be, there is a certain part of this that is trying to re-create these songs and by the numbers. I think it is beautifully recorded and the mixing is terrific. Yeah, I am very proud of that. The visual, I am very self-conscious about the videotaping. I think it comes off as well as it can be. I am more into the music part of it and I think the audio is great.
JK Looking ahead then; this frees you up to do other things although I guess that has never been the way you think. A lot of people see a live album like this as a stopping off point and a re-evaluation of what you have done and then that frees an artist up to move onto other things. What have we got to look forward to in the future from Boz Scaggs musically?
BS Well I think I am drawn to the ensemble that I worked with last year, the quartet, the acoustic instruments, the upright bass, the piano. I think that what I do now is going to expand from there. I got a sense of playing last year with that five, six piece band that that is where I want to be; that is what the next project is about. I want to write for that as well as finishing another standards album of more up-tempo songs in the vein of what I did last year. I don’t know. I haven’t worked in the studio for a year and a half. I have my own studio that has been going through some renovation. I am going to go in and see what I find. It could lead me anywhere. I don’t have anything clear in mind other than some things to finish up, just handiwork. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens when I get to create here.
JK Well we look forward to whatever it is because there are a lot of fans, certainly this side of the Atlantic who are very fond of Boz Scaggs. It is great to talk to you today.
BS You are very kind Jon, thank you.
JK Best of luck with the album; I am sure it will do very well. Thanks a lot, take care.
© Jon Kirkman 2004
Interview with Alex Lifeson
17th October 2003
Rush burst out of Canada in the mid seventies recording a number of progressively sophisticated albums until the late nineties when Neil Peart suffered a devastating personal tragedy. His wife and daughter both died within a short space of time. It was to be five years before Peart re-joined Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee to record another Rush album. Vapour Trails was released in 2002 and the band set out on a tour to promote the album. Demand for Rush was such that many extra dates had to be added. The tour finished in South America and the final date at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro was filmed and is due to be released on DVD as Rush in Rio. Jon Kirkman caught up with guitarist Alex Lifeson in Toronto to talk about the forthcoming DVD and CD and what lies ahead for Rush.
Jon Kirkman The DVD (Rush in Rio) was filmed in Rio de Janeiro at the end of the Vapour Trails tour. What was the motivation to go to Brazil because it was the band’s first trip to Brazil?
Alex Lifeson Right. We’ve long had offers to go to Rio to play at ‘Rock in Rio’ and we’ve always avoided it because we’re not really comfortable playing in that kind of pop festival format. We’re really about our own show and representing ourselves that way. Record sales don’t give you a true indication of your popularity in places like that. Our record sales are modest you know, nothing to go crazy about but this opportunity came up to do more than one show, to do a few shows. The promoters made it worth our while to come down because it’s a very expensive trip; to get all the gear down there, all our lighting you know, it’s heavy stuff.
JK I guess you would want to give the fans the full show and not skimp on anything?
AL Absolutely the full show, it has to be. So it’s quite a costly procedure to get everything down there and do these things. So anyway the opportunity came up. Now we had planned on shooting the DVD on one of the last American dates in upstate New York and we had some problems at the venue and decided to pull it on that last day. So really our only other choices were the shows in South America and we thought Rio would be the best choice. A lot of videos have been done in Rio, it’s a great audience and we could see from our ticket sales that it was going to be a really good enthusiastic crowd. We never expected then to be the way they were. They were just mind blowing.
JK I take it you were very surprised then at the reaction?
AL Oh yeah! We were completely surprised by it. We had 60,000 people in Sao Paolo and 44,000 in Rio. Those are the biggest audiences we have ever played to in a headline situation and the fact that in Rio we had all these Brazilians who don’t speak very much English sing every word to every song and even sing through the instrumentals, it just blew our minds. It’s such an amazing thing to watch.
JK If you look at the DVD this must have been pretty emotional for you guys on stage because in front of you you’ve got thousands of people who know every nuance and every word. They don’t particularly speak English that well and yet they know all the words to your songs so that must have been pretty emotional for you as well as the fans.
AL Well for me, well for all of us but for me the first set was difficult. We knew we were shooting this video; we were also recording. The gear got in late. We didn’t actually get on stage until ten thirty that night. There was no sound check, no line check, and no video line check. We went on dead cold. We got up on stage; we hadn’t even had a chance to see what the stage was like because we had forty cameras. There were cables everywhere; there were lights everywhere (laughs) that weren’t where they were before. So what was our very comfortable environment up there, suddenly was transformed into this very hectic and tense place so I had to really, really concentrate in the first set but there were moments where I just had a lump in my throat. Seeing the audience singing and hearing even through my in-ear monitors how loudly they were singing.
JK Do you think sometimes in a situation like that, which is a real seat of the pants job, that it gives the band the impetus to raise their game just that little bit more?
AL Sure, it always does. Everything was on the line. This was the last show of the tour, if it didn’t happen, if there was some big catastrophe or problem or if we just played poorly that would be it. Either we would live with that or not release it. So it put everything on the line. You know our crew, it was so unbelievable how hard they worked to get the show together, to get everything running and we raised our game as well I think. It was that much more intense on stage and I think it’s reflected in our playing.
JK I’m sure most Rush fans will know that Neil suffered a terrible personal tragedy a few years ago which took the band off the road and obviously Neil had to reconsider a lot of things in his life. But when a band comes back after an extended lay off you obviously want to promote the new album but how do you decide which of the older material you will perform? For instance there was a big response to Closer to the Heart on the DVD.
AL Yeah, Closer to the Heart was not included in the North American tour. We’ve played that I think every tour since 1977-1978 so it was a bit of a relief for us not to play it and slot some other things in that we hadn’t played before. In South America we’ve heard that it was a very popular song, one of our most popular songs down there so we thought we should really include it in the set and I think that was a smart thing for us to do. It’s always so difficult for us to get a set list together. I think we probably had about four and half hours of material that we whittled down to three hours (laughs) and Geddy and I sat down and went through all the albums and we listened to just about everything. Certainly there were songs that we would never plan to do live.
JK But surely that’s the case with every band. A band will record an album and certain tracks become popular and people want to hear them and then there are other tracks that will never get played live.
AL Yeah! That’s right.
JK Looking at the set list on this tour and DVD, it’s a very broad cross section of your career.
AL Yeah, we really tried to do that. We tried to include something from all the records. You know, Moving Pictures is a very popular record of ours and it’s popular with our whole fan base going back to the early fans and the more recent ones. Tom Sawyer, YYZ, Red Barchetta, those are songs that along with Limelight; we have to include them and that takes up a lot but Vapour Trails on this tour, we would have loved to have played the whole album. We were so inside that record and it was so important to us you know. The culmination of those four or five years of all the difficulties we had gone through.
JK I suppose it must have been like a release.
AL Oh absolutely it was.
JK Well the DVD and CD will be in the shops shortly and I have to ask this as the rumours are doing the rounds that this is the last thing Rush will do. So do you get fed up with hearing the rumours or do you just get on with things and not get caught up in that and do what you do?
AL Well that’s exactly right. (Laughs) We’ve always just done what we do. I think the way we feel right now; there’s certainly more music in us. There’s certainly more tours. We really enjoyed the last tour. It was the first time we had done a summer tour. So it was much brighter and happier and fun and I think we’d like to do that again. We’d like to play a summer tour and in fact we’re talking about possibly going back on the road next year without a new release and doing a thirtieth anniversary tour and this would also afford us the opportunity of coming to Britain and Europe.
JK I’ve been waiting to hear that for a few years.
AL Well it’s always been a very difficult thing because as we get older our touring schedule shrinks and of course we had the five years away and that compounded the problem and we haven’t been back in eleven years I think now and honestly we know that and we know we have an audience there and we have fans that would love to see us and we feel very guilty about not coming over. We had honest intentions, sincere intentions of coming over on the last tour. But once things started to get put together we weren’t sure how it was going to go for us; we’d been out of the loop for a while. There were a lot of questions. Neil had committed to a fifty, actually I think it was more like thirty eight dates in his original request and we ended up doing sixty seven shows so it just kept building and building and building and when we finally could squeeze in going overseas it was too late. The window of opportunity was gone. Hall availability had completely dried up until February of this year and this was in the summer we were looking at it. So this time around and I know Geddy of all of us is the most adamant that we come over to England and play. I don’t think he even wants to tour unless we come there and do a tour. This time we’re going to work it in so we absolutely will come because I think it would be great to bring this whole show. I know it would be different from the Vapour Trails tour but that would be the starting point for the new show. It would be great to bring that over and particularly for fans in Britain to see it.
JK Well I think I can speak for most Rush fans and say we’d love to see you.
AL Yeah and I think that’ll what we will do. We haven’t really confirmed that yet. Geddy’s away for a couple of weeks. He’s on a trip with his wife in Vietnam. So when he gets back from ‘Nam (laughs) we’ll sit down and finalise all this stuff but it really looks like we’re leaning that way and I’m glad of that. I think it would really be a lot of fun to go back out and do another tour especially a thirtieth anniversary of the band and stuff.
JK I think it’s probably just as important for the band as well as the fans that you celebrate and mark that because it is a very important landmark.
AL It is, I never thought we would be here thirty years ago. I was hoping for maybe five years at that point. If we could tour for five years and make four or five records, boy, what a great career that would have been.
JK I think a lot of bands think that and say, “Let’s see if we can stick around for five years and make a few records,” and before you know it you’re looking back on ten years.
AL Yeah, well when you’re a nineteen, twenty-year-old kid playing in bars six days a week, boy! Your vision beyond that isn’t that deep. (Laughs)
JK Well the Rush in Rio DVD is superb and is a must for any Rush fan or any real rock fan come to think of it and it’s great to hear that you guys are going to continue making more music and I can’t wait to see you in the UK. Thanks for talking to me today.
AL Thank you Jon.
© Jon Kirkman 2003