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.
I Know It’s Only The Rolling Stones, But I Like It (Sticky Fingers Original Logo by John Pasche)
With The Rolling Stones currently on tour celebrating their 50th year together as a band, Broome Street Gallery’s current Rolling Stones-themed exhibit distinguishes itself from the many other Stones exhibits we have seen for including not only photographs of the band and its iconic remembers (by various equally legendary photographers), but also its exciting display of pop art sculptures, tour posters, rare album cover art, caricatures and realist paintings, many of them by Stones’ rhythm guitarist Ron Wood. Here are a few of our favorite pieces from the show.
Keith in NY, 1991 By Sebastian Kruger
Mick Jagger By Andy Warhol
Some Girls Original Artwork By Hubert Kretzschmar
Ron Wood By Russell Young
Self Portrait By Ron Wood
Voodoo Mick Guitar Painted By Ron Wood
Bigger Bang Limited Edition Print, 2007
Mick Jagger By Russell Young; Guitar by Ron Wood in Foreground
Rolling Stones Live By Ron Wood
Saxophone Fountain Sculpture
The gallery has many more pieces and they change them up at regular intervals since there is way more art in this collection than currently fit in space, so you never know what you might see! I am not even the hugest Rolling Stones fan and I would rate this as a Must See exhibit for both art and music fans. Luckily, you still have almost two months to check it out!
The Rolling Stones: 50 Years of Rocking the Art World will be on exhibit at Broome Street Gallery, Located at 498 Broome Street (at West Broadway), Soho NYC until February 4th, 2013. Gallery Hours are Monday – Sunday 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM
It’s easy to take a band like The Rolling Stones for granted. They’ve been together, through various lineup changes (but surprisingly only one actual member death!), touring and recording new music since before most people reading this blog were even born. Is that some kind of record? I’m just going to say that it is. In the summer of 1978, having just released the album Some Girls, The Rolling Stones took off on a summer tour of the United States that is considered by many fans to have included the band’s best performances ever. Guitarist Ronnie Wood had been an official member of the group for just two years and the entire band – Charlie Watts included – were still at least a few years on the left side of 40. The Stones were young, they were hot, and they were an unstoppable rock force!
In fact, the awesomeness of The Rolling Stones in 1978 is a subject that takes too long to talk about, which is why you’re going to have to get your hands on the soon-to-be-released DVD, The Rolling Stones: Some Girls Live in Texas, which I saw last night at a screening here in NYC. You know, I have this fun joke I like to tell where, when someone talks about going to see The Rolling Stones on their latest tour, I’ll say, “I liked the Stones back in the sixties, but not so much now that they’re in their sixties.” Hilarious! And that’s not to say that they still don’t put on a kick ass show for a bunch of dudes pushing seventy, but when they were in their prime – both musically and physically – they were the greatest live band in the world. That’s the band you’ll see in this film
By the time the Some Girls tour arrived in Texas in mid-July of 1978, the album had reached No.1 on the US charts and the single “Miss You” was all over the radio. The tour took a back to basics approach, with the band and their music very much at the forefront and little or no elaborate staging. Filmed at the Will Rogers Memorial Center in Fort Worth, Texas, on July 18th, this concert is typical of the tour, with The Rolling Stones delivering a raw, energetic performance in front of a crowd who are clearly out of their minds with excitement and totally into the show. Originally shot on 16mm film, the concert footage has been carefully restored and the sound remixed and re-mastered from the original multi-track tapes by award-winning music engineer Bob Clearmountain. Jagger himself admits that, “Fort Worth was an amazing night in a blistering hot July. Watching it now, the band was really intense and focused, but we were also having a blast with the fans who were really getting into the show and the new tracks from Some Girls.”
That the band were having fun is obvious from the way Jagger practically makes out with Ron Wood at various intervals, and his chemistry with Keith Richard’s is unmatched. Jagger is lucid, sober, handsome and playful. Richards looks like the ultimate rock star and although Watts and Wyman are very much relegated to the background as far as screen time goes, the Stones are tight and in sync with each other on a level that few bands today could achieve. For this recorded performance, the band – Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Ronnie Wood and Bill Wyman, with various guest musicians including violin player Doug Kershaw and keyboardist Ian McLagan – performs a mix of Stones’ classics, blues numbers and Chuck Berry covers, and a good number of songs from the Some Girls LP, though sadly “Before They Make Me Run” – my favorite – is missing from the set. Highlights for me were “When the Whip Comes Down” and “Happy,” because I’ve always loved the songs were Keith sings lead, or at least tries to.
If you’re looking to find out more about the members of the band as individuals or pick up some new forbidden dirt, be aware that this is a live performance only documentary: neither backstage “down time” nor candid personal shenanigans are included. What you see them do on stage is all there is. The bonus material comes in the form of a fairly recent interview with Mick Jagger, where Mick shares his memories of different aspects of the Stones’ career at that time (as Punk Rock was just on the cusp of breaking big) the Some Girls Tour in general, and the performance in Fort Worth specifically. While there were a few dissenters (read: Dicks) at the screening I attended who were clearly bored with Jagger’s banter and restless for the Big Rock Show to begin, I found the interview to be quite fun and charming. I mean, Mick-Fucking-Jagger! The guy’s been around practically since Rock & Roll was invented! Sure, sometimes he sounds like your grandfather telling stories about how things were “back in the old days,” but mostly he’s just such a fascinating and charismatic character, you can’t even guess at what he’ll say next. And that keeps it interesting! Even if he’s forgotten how many buckets of water he threw on the audience at the end of the show (spoiler alert, sorry), he’s lived more life in 68 years than most of us could even fantasize about. Mick Jagger!
The full Set List for that night in Fort Worth is as follows:
“Let It Rock”
“All Down the Line”
“Honky Tonk Women”
“When the Whip Comes Down”
“Beast of Burden”
“Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)”
“Far Away Eyes”
“Sweet Little Sixteen”
“Jumpin’ Jack Flash”
The Rolling Stones: Some Girls Live in Texas will be released on November 21, 2011 and can currently be pre-ordered for $10.99 (retail is $14.98) from Amazon.com at This Link.
It’s no secret to anyone born prior to 1980 that the best years – the truly Golden years – of Rock music are now decades behind us. By the “best” years, of course, I’m talking about the 1970s. Some of us were lucky enough to live through this truly magical decade that, when speaking of Rock music, came in like a lamb and went out like a lion. Think about it, the 70s embodied a sonic revolution like no other: ushered in softly by the final days of The Beatles – the band that invented everything – and ushered out by the glorious cacophony that was first wave British Punk Rock – a movement that’s influenced countless pop music genres that have arrived in its wake. From the Beatles to Punk Rock; there arguably is no decade that has had a greater impact than the 1970s, historically and influentially, on any modern music that is worth listening to.
The Seventies live on for music fans of a younger generation because so much of that music is archived and still available to anyone with an iTunes account. But just hearing the music isn’t the same as being privy to the rich and exotic history behind the people who made those songs come alive. That is why we must be grateful for rock journalists like Nick Kent, a rock critic and avid fan, who was at ground zero for almost everything noteworthy that happened musically between the years of 1970 and 1980, for having captured his experiences living the rock and roll dream, and its nightmare flipside, in his recent memoir entitled Apathy For The Devil(Da Capo Press). I’ve read a ton of music bios and memoirs on the Seventies and, seriously, this is best book on the subject that I’ve come across.
Just how great is Apathy for The Devil? Well, I would venture that it’s an even more satisfying read than Bob Greene’s long-out-of-print gem Billion Dollar Baby, that writer’s inside account of going on the road with the original band called Alice Cooper – and that is lofty praise indeed, because that book is just insane. As a writer for England’s NME magazine, a first-hand participant in and keen observer of so much of rock’s from-the-gutter-to-the-good-life history, Kent’s memoir is both entertaining and edifying. I mean, the guy knew, met, interviewed and wrote about everyone: Led Zeppelin, Bowie, Pink Floyd, Roxy Music, The Who – everyone. Certainly too many bands and artists to name and keep this review under 5,000 words. And the war stories he’s brought back from his close encounters will knock your socks off. I love this book!
Divided into nine chapters, one for each year, with 1978 and 1979 combined into one entry, Apathy For The Devil is quite a roller coaster ride, and at the end of the ride you may find many of your previously held opinions enriched or changed flat out. For example, the chapter entitled “1973”, in which he elucidates his understanding of the inner workings of The Rolling Stones and his assessment of just how Mick Jagger’s mind works, piqued my interest and enthusiasm for that band in a way that 40 years of their recorded music had been unable to do. Apathy For The Devil is, in Kent’s own words, about “surreal people living surreal, action-packed lives.” And although he was talking about rock stars when he wrote that, what you come to realize as you flip through page after page of vivid, fearless, darkly humorous and wickedly compelling prose, is that he is also talking about himself.
In the florid pages of Apathy For The Devil, we learn not only every gloriously gritty detail about Kent’s intimate personal history during ten years spent writing about every band that mattered, but also amazing details about the personal histories of dozens rock stars and music industry luminaries that are now household names; from the aforementioned legends like David Bowie and Mick Jagger to Chrissie Hynde (who was Kent’s girlfriend in her pre–Pretenders years) and the notorious, Punk Rock Svengali Malcolm McLaren, who had never even heard of Jimi Hendrix before he met Kent. As if the insider stories of Rock’s most decadent decade weren’t enough, the author also shares his decent into and recovery from heroin addiction in riveting detail. So, sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, it’s all here in a book that’s amazingly well-written and so much fun you won’t be able to put it down.
For Rocking hard enough to Crack a Skull, The Worley Gig gives Apathy For The Devil Five out of Five Stars.
On This Date, January 10th, in 2001: Bryan Gregory, guitarist and one of the founding members of The Cramps, died of heart failure in Anaheim, California. He was 49 years old. Bryan was born Gregory Beckerleg, but took the name Bryan after Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones, of whom he was a big fan.
On This Date, July 3rd, in 1971: Jim Morrison, legendary singer and lyricist for The Doors – and enduring sex symbol – was found dead in the bathtub of his apartment in Paris, apparently of heart failure. He was 27 years old. Also on this date in 1969,Brian Jones, former guitarist for and founding member ofThe Rolling Stones was found dead in his swimming pool in Hartfield, England, at the age of 27 years. For decades Jones’ death was ruled to be an accidental drowning, but the 2005 biopic, Stoned (which features great performances and excessive nudity – two thumbs up) shows an alternate version of his demise, based on the deathbed confession of his (alleged) killer. I don’t want to spoil it for you, so be sure to add Stoned to your Netflix Queue or pick it up on Amazon.com for mere pennies.
On this day, July 26th, 2008, Mick Jagger turns 65 years old! I always say that I prefer the Rolling Stones’ music “from back in the sixties” to the music they’re making “now that they’re in their sixties”! That aside, Happy Birthday Mick, you were truly Born to Rock!
“Now that we’ve stepped away from the smaller sub-genre that we were in, it shows me how narrow of a field of music it is that you consider yourself a fan of. There were really only a couple of bands or musicians that were actually thought of as [being] great musicians within this entire sub-genre of music. That’s something we became aware of as we got into bands like The Who or The Rolling Stones. There are key figures in these bands that people were fans of because they were just amazing musicians. Nowadays, a lot of times fans know the members of bands because they’re dating another celebrity, and nobody really knows how good they are at their instrument. That’s strange, so whenever I get asked about whom my influences were growing up I honestly get stumped. I was a fan of certain bands; therefore I just liked their drummers. Thinking about it now, a lot of these players weren’t any better than I am now (laughs).”