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. Continue reading The Art of The Rolling Stones at Broome Street Gallery→
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.