Tag Archive | Producer

Video Clip of The Week: “She Does” By Influenced

Earlier this week, I  attended a party at The Cutting Room and ran into my friend Billy Amendola, who I got to know during my 13 years spent writing for Modern Drummer magazine. Billy is not only a fantastic writer and editor, but he’s also quite an accomplished working drummer, having racked up a couple of dance hits during the 70s with the band Mantus, as well as playing drums on many of Debbie Gibson’s hits. Billy told me about a project he just completed called Influenced, featuring a song he wrote with a couple of his industry friends called “She Does.” He turned me on to the video, and I was instantly blown away by how much this track sounds like The Beatles.

Actually, The Beatles comparison is not at all surprising, when you consider that they recruited producer Mark Hudson for lead vocals. I remember having a ridiculous crush on Mark Hudson when I was probably 13, and he and his two brothers, Brett and Bill (father of actress Kate Hudson) had a summer replacement television series, The Hudson Brothers comedy variety hour. I even owned a couple of the Hudson Brothers excellent albums, which I absolutely adored because all of their songs sounded so much like The Beatles.

In his career, Mark has worked with huge hit makers including Ringo Starr, and I know Billy is also a huge Beatles fan, so, again, the similarity is no surprise. What’s also a standout on this track is how guitarist Vinnie Zummo (formerly with Joe Jackson) completely channels George Harrison’s Elmore James-influenced slide guitar.

The track was produced by Billy’s son, Matty, who I used to fondly refer to as “Matty’s Fro,” owing to his impressive Afro hairstyle! Matty has gone on to become quite adept producer and multi-instrumentalist in his own right, and it’s fantastic to hear father and son working together on such a solid track. Please enjoy!

RIP Studio Legend Andy Johns

Andy Johns

Andy Johns, who famously produced or engineered ground breaking albums by Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Jethro Tull and The Rolling Stones, to name but a few, has passed away on April 7th, 2013. The cause of death has not yet been confirmed, although Johns had recently been hospitalized with liver ailments.

Andy Johns was part of an amazing musical legacy that included his older brother, producer Glyn Johns, who famously worked with The Who (among a laundry list of legends). His sons Ethan and Will Johns are working musicians and his nephew, Evan Johns (son of Glyn) is also a producer.

Many years ago, I had the opportunity to interview Andy Johns when I was hired to write a bio for an indie band whose record he had produced. The band’s management and publicist were completely clueless about how to effectively spin this band and it was my idea to add John’s input to the bio. He was fun to talk to and definitely knew his shit.

Sadly, the group’s handlers disagreed with the artistic slant I put on the bio, another writer was brought in and I was paid a kill fee for my efforts. Hilariously, when I eventually received a finished copy of the band’s album, along with the new bio, I did notice that direct quotes pulled from my interview with Johns were integrated into the new piece, with no credit to me. What a bunch of dicks. Andy Johns was 61 years old. RIP, Andy.

RIP Legendary Music Producer Phil Ramone

Phil Ramone
Image Source

Fourteen time Grammy winning record producer Phil Ramone passed away in New York today, March 30th, 2013. The cause of death has not yet been disclosed. Ramone was 72 years old (though I have seen two sources cite his age as 79, not sure where that is coming from as his year of birth is given as 1941). A brief list of artists Ramone worked with includes Burt Bacharach, Bono, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Quincy Jones, Madonna, Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Frank Sinatra and Stevie Wonder. CNN has more information and celebrity remembrances in a nice obit at This Link. RIP, Phil!

Remembering Harry Nilsson on his Birthday

Harry Nilsson Grave Stone

The late, great singer/songwriter Harry Nilsson was born on this day, June 15th, in 1941. I recently watched the unbelievably well-made documentary, Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him)? which is now available on DVD via Netflix.

I’m a huge fan of Nilsson’s music, as he reached the height of his popularity in the sixties and seventies, when I was growing up, so I thought I knew a lot about the guy. But Who is Harry Nilsson? gave me quite a schooling on the details of Nilsson’s life and career that I couldn’t have imagined.

This insightful documentary goes way back to his childhood, his family life, his early career writing songs for others that grew into his own recording career as a solo artist, his film soundtrack projects, personal friendships with other songwriters and musicians (Nilsson was a favorite artist of all four Beatles and he maintained close friendships with John Lennon and Ringo Starr until his death) and a wildly in-depth overview of his recording process via interviews with those he worked closely with (the interviews with producer Richard Perry alone are worth the time it takes to watch the film).

Of course, it’s not like you don’t know how the story is going to end. A well-covered topic in Who Is Harry Nilsson? is the artist’s ridiculously indulgent and debauched Rock Star Lifestyle, which lead directly to his early death at age 52 – a tragic waste of an extraordinary and irreplaceable talent.

I was entirely captivated, entertained and profoundly moved by the life story of Harry Nilsson, who was extremely respected for his talent and considered by his peers to be the greatest American singer of his generation. There is no doubt that his influence is vast and deeply felt even today. Harry Nilsson died on January 15th, 1994 from heart failure brought on by a lifetime of alcoholism and hard drug abuse. If he were still alive, he would be celebrating his Birthday today. Happy Birthday, Harry, we still miss you.

Happy Birthday, Bernard Butler

Bernard Butler

Musician, producer, and former acclaimed guitarist for Suede, Bernard Butler was born on this day, May 1st in 1970. I never had the chance to interview Bernard (though I did interview his replacement in Suede) but I did meet him after a show in Seattle around the time his first solo album, People Move On was released and he was extremely nice, and very skinny! Happy Birthday, Bernard!

Metal Guitarist/Producer James Murphy Suffers Brain Tumor Relapse


James Murphy Has Brain Tumor Relapse; Donations Welcome

James Murphy, former guitarist of both Death and Testament, as well as founding member of the death metal band Disincarnate, has had a relapse of the brain tumor that sidelined him back in 2001. Murphy stated that the tumor had returned but that it was a non malignant and that it was being treated pharmacologically. Unfortunately, those medications have serious side effects that have left him unable to work. The option for different medications is available, but at a cost of over $1000 a month, and he needs a minimum of 6 months of medication for treatment to be effective. With his medical expenses extremely high and James not being able to work due to the side effects of the current medications, the metal community is being asked to come together and help one of their brothers and donate to help him beat this once and for all.

To donate funds to help offset James’ medical bills please visit PayPal at this secure link. Thank You!

Read more about James previous surgery and ongoing treatment after the jump. Continue reading

RIP Producer Jack Richardson

I can’t believe I managed to miss this news. I was just on the phone with my friend Neal Smith (2011 R&R Hall of Fame Inductee with the band called Alice Cooper) and he sort of casually mentioned to me, “You know that Jack Richardson passed away a couple of weeks ago, right?” Seriously, I had no idea. Richardson was a studio legend best known for producing over fifteen albums for The Guess Who, but he’s also responsible for sending a young Bob Ezrin to New York to produce Alice Cooper (the band)‘s breakthrough album, Love it to Death (1971). He went on to produce John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Double Fantasy and Alanis Morrisette’s phenomenally successful debut, Jagged Little Pill among many other best selling albums. Jack was considered to be a “Drummer’s Dream Producer” and during the time I wrote for Modern Drummer I interviewed many players who sang Jack’s praises. Jack Richardson is also the father of noted music producer Garth Richardson, who actually mixed the sound for the reunited Alice Cooper Band when they performed at Revolver Magazine’s Golden Gods Awards in Los Angeles last month. Richardson was 81 years old when he passed away on May 13, 2011 after years of declining health. You can read more about the life and career of Jack Richardson at This Link.

RIP Don Kirshner

Rock producer, music publisher and promoter Don Kirshner died on Monday (January 17th, 2011) of heart failure at his home  in Boca Raton, Florida. He was  76 years old. From 1973 to 1981  Kirshner was the producer and host of Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert, which ran weekly on ABC, and was practically the only televised outlet for teenagers to see live rock bands in the time before MTV, VH1 or almost any kind of cable TV was even thought of. 

I recall that Paul Schaffer used to do spot-on impersonations of Kirshner’s wooden, deadpan presentation style on Saturday Night Live, which were always hysterical. Also, Kirshner is responsible for creating The Monkees. And now he’s dead. RIP Don Kirshner!

Featured Bio: Mother West Records & Studio

motherwest-banner-2018
Mother West Records

I just finished a massively huge bio project for the Mother West record label and recording studio, and it turned out pretty good. I also wrote a super nifty personal bio for Mother West’s owner Charles Newman, who is a righteous producer/musician on his own (Magnetic Fields, Walking Concert, Flare, etc). Read all about it at the Mother West website.

Larry Dvoskin, Grammy Nominated Songwriter, Producer and Creator of American Pride

Gail is Rock & Roll personified: sexy, edgy, inspired, unpredictable, radical, hot and moving with the beat of the new generation. When approaching a story, she is a true artist: a craftswoman weaving words, feelings and images which are creative, sexually charged, inspired and touching.