Upcoming Google + Hangout On Air and other publicity stuff

Things on the book publicity front have really heated up. The main purpose of this post is to show you what’s been going on.

GOOGLE + HANGOUT ON AIR

One thing I’m really excited about is this upcoming Google + Hangout on Air we’re doing on Wednesday night at 7:30pm eastern time. The great Ken Dashow will be moderating a panel that includes me, Bernie and noted Stones historian (and author) Bill German. And if you miss it live, it will be archived on my blog as well.

For more information — and to sign up to join us — you can click here.

What else have we been up to?

We have done some thoughtful interviews with cool folks in the music blogosphere:

Check us out on the LA Music Blog

And on the Radio BDC blog

And over on Speak Into My Good Eye

We have received some cool Facebook love from a couple of music legends Robert Randolph and Southside Johnny

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And you can check out this radio appearance on Tom Cunningham’s BRUCE BRUNCH radio show on 105.7 THE HAWK.

More links to come!!

On the Day That I Was Born (Guest Post by @Blankemon)

There’s been a lot happening in the world of the Rolling Stones and 50 Licks, what with a secret show, the official start of the tour, and, best of all, Tom Waits showing up in Oakland to play Little Red Rooster. But you can click those links for those stories. Today, I am handing over the blog to Matt Blankman, who will be sharing a story about the day of his birth, the Grateful Dead, and nothing short of the healing power of music in our lives. Take it away, Matt!

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My birthday, today, May 7, is an auspicious date in the history of the Grateful Dead, so I suppose in some way, it’s not surprising I grew up to be such a fan of their music. May 7 is the birthday of Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann, who manned the traps for the entirety of their existence (paired with Mickey Hart for the bulk of it). It’s also the date of a couple key performances for the band – most notably, the actual day of my birth, May 7, 1972, when the Dead played the Bickershaw Festival in Wigan, England as part of their famed European tour of that spring. They put on an epic performance that day to a rain-soaked, mud-stained crowd which included a young, bespectacled fan named Declan MacManus. Whether it was Bill the Drummer’s birthday that spurred them on, I can’t say, but it’s one of the great performances by the band in a year that was full of them.

However, the Dead show on my mind this morning, as I turn 41, took place five years later, just a couple of months before MacManus, now known as Elvis Costello, released his first album, “My Aim Is True.” On May 7, 1977, while I was blowing out the candles on my 5th birthday cake, the Dead were playing the Boston Garden, part of another tour that became legendary in the eyes and ears of its fans. The tour began in late April and after a few shows hit New York City. They went into the Palladium on April 29th one band and left it after the May 4th show another; somehow changed – more focused, energetic, cohesive.  For the next month, they played one astonishing show after another and by the time they got to Boston on the 7th, they were already in high gear.

The whole show is worth your time, but the one song from that night that stands out for me is “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo,” a song that had been in their live repertoire since the summer of 1972. Robert Hunter’s lyric is a wry, witty tale of a ne’er do well leaving his home behind and lighting out for parts unknown and presumably greener pastures and better days. Garcia’s music matches the folksy, humorous tone of the words.  I can’t claim to have listened to every version of the song, but as far as I’m concerned, this one is the definitive take. About four minutes in, the verses of the song end and Jerry Garcia embarks on a remarkable guitar solo. It begins as a fairly standard circa-1977, lyrical Garcia solo, Phil Lesh and the rest of the band laying back, letting Jerry have his say, but a couple of minutes in, he hits a crescendo that is answered by Kreutzmann and Hart and they’re off to the races. Lesh and Bob Weir click in to the same zone and pretty soon the solo becomes a beautiful example of the type of musical conversation that marks all the best Grateful Dead live music. A conversation between the members – between Garcia and Lesh, with Weir commenting on the sidelines, or (and often concurrently) a conversation between the band and the audience, in this case we can assume a typically raucous East Coast crowd. Whatever was at work, it propels Garcia’s playing to new space. Garcia was a musician who could evince many moods and emotions wordlessly through his playing; here as they build steam and pressure, he seems to be expressing nothing but pure joy — the joy of making music, perhaps, or maybe simply the joy of being there. The tension grows to a tremendous peak, explodes and then drops out so that Garcia, Weir and Donna Godchaux can beautifully sing the coda and take us “Across the Rio Grandee-o” (complete with a lyric flub – hey, this is the Grateful Dead, I wouldn’t have them any other way) before it builds up again for Jerry takes one more run at it. There’s that pure expression of joy again.

Jerry Garcia is no more, of course, and the same is true for the Grateful Dead, though an unreasonably devoted and adoring fan base keeps the music alive. This recording of this song is one I turn to often, not just on this date. I find it impossible to be cowed by my worries, fears and anxieties while listening to it. “We are alive – here at this time, in this place,” I hear Garcia saying through his playing that night, “Rejoice.”

AUDIO BLOG: Ken Dashow on Pete Fornatale/50 LICKS

Ken Dashow

Ken Dashow

No real post from me today, but I will be back later in the week with a guest post in this space, and some horse racing thoughts over at my other blog, www.unbearablebetting.com. But for now, check out this cool audio clip that I’ve posted over on Archive.org. It’s a cool clip of Ken Dashow talking about my Dad and 50 Licks. Once you’re there, just click the play button on the right hand side of the page about halfway down.

And, in case you missed it the first time, you can hear Perrin’s Mixed Bag radio debut debut over on there as well.

The Stones and Boston

Kevin White, the rock and roll mayor

Kevin White, the rock and roll mayor

I wasn’t much in the mood to work on the blog — or anything else — last week. But today I want to share the greatest Rolling Stones story about Boston. This was initially meant to be a little sidebar in 50 Licks but it grew into an entire chapter. This happened during the riots of 1972, possibly the worst week in Boston until this past week, notwithstanding October 20-27, 1986.

Here’s how it all went down:

One of the Stones most memorable run ins with the law happened on the ‘72 Tour.

Robert Greenfield: Again, we’re back in the times. Boston is under siege. It has undergone three days of race riots and the entire police department is deployed in the ghetto.

Steve Nazro: My boss Eddie Powers, who was president of the Boston Garden, wanted to see me in the office. He said, “The Stones, because of the fog, could not land in Boston, and they were diverted to Green Airport in Rhode Island.

Robert Greenfield: Andy Dykeman, the photographer for the local rag is there taking pictures . Mick and Keith are standing there waiting for their bags. Andy’s too close, snapping photos. Keith said, “Get the fuck out of here man.” For whatever reason Keith doesn’t take kindly to Andy Dykeman’s response. . .”Fuck you” and he smashes Andy’s camera. Andy called the police, and they come and they put the grip on Keith. Now Mick, he’s not going to let Keith get arrested without him getting arrested. So Mick makes enough trouble, enough shit that they have to arrest him too.

Peter Rudge: One minute I’m going through the yellow pages of the Rhode Island airport trying to look for a bail bondsman to get us out of there, then the next I remember the Mayor calling me saying “Peter, I have a city on fire. The Stones have got to get here or there’s going to be a full scale riot.” I said, “Do what you can to help us. We can’t get Keith out. We can’t move. We’re trapped here.”

Robert Greenfield: Mick and Keith are fucking delighted because they have immunity. They know that they’re supposed to be in Boston Garden starting a show at 8 o’clock at night and everything these cops do to fuck this up is going to come back to them. Now we get the Stones lawyers. One thing about the Stones, they are lawyered up with guys that are so powerful they only have to make two phone calls. Peter Rudge is having a mental breakdown.

Don Law: At that point, I got a call from Peter Rudge who said, “We really screwed up this time. Keith kicked a photographer. The police hauled him off to jail.” I said, “You should sit tight. We’re going to see if we can get you out of there because we’re not going to give up the show.” So we got on the phone and we started calling people.

Mike Martinick: I was standing fairly close up to the stage. It was stiflingly hot and very humid. The smell of sweat, sandalwood and marijuana just permeated the place.

Steve Nazro: Stevie Wonder had already played. There was a break and people hadn’t been notified yet. They asked Stevie Wonder to play again, and he did.

Robert Greenfield: We now have 18,000 stoned, angry, long haired white kids, who can’t get home and would probably like to break a few windows and set fire to a few buildings in downtown Boston…

Don Law: One of the people we called was Kevin White who then was able to call the Governor of Rhode Island, who reached back to the police station and said, “We have a public safety issue. You have to release these guys.” And that got them out and they sent them up with an escort to the Garden.
Robert Greenfield: Kevin White, in what I still believe to be an extraordinary act, walked out on stage. The crowd reaction was “Fuck you!”

White would come to be known as “The Rock and Roll Mayor.”

Don Law: Kevin White, who still had serious national political aspirations, came out said, “My city is in turmoil tonight and I need to pull the police out of here. But I have bad news: The Rolling Stones were fogged out of Boston, had to land in Rhode Island, and were arrested.” The whole place boos. Then Kevin White said, “But I called and we’ve gotten them out and they are on their way.” There was so much cheering it was like the Bruins won the Stanley Cup. The problem of course was we then had a couple hours to waste while they made the trip up.

Robert Greenfield: The Stones are famous for being late; they never go on stage on time. Everybody knows this. For a while Chip Monck is stalling, reading Jonathan Livingston Seagull to the crowd.

Don Law: We wound up getting things to throw around: Frisbees, footballs, beach balls. Nobody got thrown out.

Peter Rudge: We got into the old Boston Garden and they announced “The Stones are here”. Everybody just went crazy. It was just something amazing.

Steve Nazro: I was most impressed by the fact that we had no arrests. Everybody had paid to see the Rolling Stones and by God they were going to see the Rolling Stones. It took close to an act of God, but things worked out. Watching the show, you’d never know there was something wrong. They were magnificent; they were energetic; they played to the crowd; they gave a wonderful repartee back and forth. I was never a big Stones fan before then but I became a Stones fan that night

Mike Martinick: They released an atomic bomb of a show. One of the highlights of was an incandescent rendition of “On Down the Line.” To bring the whole thing full circle, many years later I was at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and I happened to notice…Kevin White. I said, “Mr.Mayor, you don’t know me, but years ago I was at the Rolling Stones show when you got them out of jail. You made that show happen.”

Don Law: Kevin White was in his glory and I remember the next night, the Stones sent Kevin a personally signed poster which he prized and had prominently displayed.

You can see the poster on page 160 of the book. Disappointed I didn’t post it here? C’mon, man, I can’t give the whole book away for free. But here’s a hot “All Down the Line from Texas on the ’72 Tour.

On This Date in Rock History, Ronnie Wood Joined the Rolling Stones

Putland_Michael_033_Keith_Richards___Ron_Wood_577

Here’s an edited excerpt from 50 LICKS.

When the Stones were looking for a replacement for Brian Jones, young Ron Wood was among the possibilities after he was let go by The Jeff Beck Group. Ron had a passing acquaintance with The Stones and recalled a visit with them in 1968:

Ron Wood: “I went to Olympic Studios in London when they were doing Beggar’s Banquet and I saw little odds and ends going down and I was very impressed then. And I met Brian then. Nicky Hopkins introduced me to Brian and I used to think he was a very nice character, very outlandish, he was wearing all these brilliant colored clothes and floppy hats, feather boas and I used to think, ‘Christ this guy gets away with murder.’ He was a great character.”

brian jones

So, if he’d been invited, would Ron Wood have joined the Rolling Stones? We’ll never know. Here’s why:

Ron Wood: “I must put in another bit here. . .before the Small Faces started with Rod and myself in the lineup, Ronnie Lane very nicely said no to the Stones before they got Mick Taylor because apparently they’d asked me then but I knew nothing about it. Ronnie Lane said, ‘No, Ronnie won’t do it. He’s gonna stay with us.”

“That was thanks to Ian Stewart, occasional member of The Stones, and he’s like the old sixth Stone going back many years. He said, ‘Why don’t you get this guy Ronnie Wood. Let’s give him a try.’ So he rang up Laney (who) said no on my behalf. I don’t blame him. I had a fantastic time with The Faces. And chronologically everything took it’s own form and shape.”

Years later, after Mick Taylor left the band, the Black and Blue sessions became the Great Rolling Stones Lead Guitar Search. Just think if Simon Cowell had been making shows in 1975. . .

To no one’s surprise, Ron Wood was once again high on the Stones’ wish list. But they didn’t just give him the gig.

Keith Richards: “Black and Blue was auditions for guitar players. That’s why you’ve got three or four tracks with Wayne Perkins and two or three tracks with Harvey Mandell and at the end, it was one of those weird coincidences that seem to happen with us all the time that just as we were desperately looking for another guitar player, an English player, because that’s what we are. Wayne Perkins is a lovely guitar player, [but] we’re an English rock ‘n’ roll band and we just had to own up that there’s something about having an American guy that we’re just not common in our upbringing and our culture that would eventually widen…And Woody came in and the Faces just happened to break up at that very moment.”

Ron Wood: “At the time they were also recording Black and Blue with Harvey Mandell and Wayne Perkins, and Jeff Beck had come and gone, and Eric Clapton had been approached. All kinds of things were going on. I still get ribbed by Eric Clapton. He says to me, ‘I could have had that job, you know.’ I say, ‘Ah no, sorry Eric, you haven’t got the personality.’ I just rib him about it. Basically, the Stones wanted to remain an English rock n roll band. Eric was already successful in his own right. All the other lovely English guitarists like Jimmy Page, they were doing their own things. When I finally did join, they all expressed that they were really rooting for me and they said that they were really pleased that I did it.”

So when did it all happen?

Ron Wood: “I had said to Mick, only ring me if you get desperate. They’d been trying all these guitarists, Stevie Marriott, all the ones I said -even more…When I was ill after one of the Faces tours, I was bed-ridden in LA. I was really feeling down. The phone rings and it’s Mick. And he says, ‘Woody, remember what you said about getting desperate?’ And I said,‘Well, I see. I’m going back to England when I get better so I’ll call by and see you in Munich.’ And he says ‘OK then,’ and then I went there and I cut Hey Negrita and a couple of other tracks for Black and Blue. And they checked me into the hotel in Munich sandwiched between Harvey Mandel on the left and Wayne Perkins on the right. So it was like a whole string of guitarists. I walked in the studio and Charlie says to me ‘Christ, out of all these guitarists who’ve walked in here, Woody walks in he starts bossing everybody around, we’ll do this that and the other.’ It was no surprise to him that I did get the job just because I was a man after their own heart. Another silly Englishman.”

There was still one last obstacle to hurdle before total commitment to The Stones became possible:

Ron Wood: “At the time, Rod still hadn’t folded up the Faces. So I still didn’t say that I was joining. I said ‘I’ll do your ’75 American tour, I’d love to, but before that I have to do a Faces tour and straight after it, I’ve got to do another one.’ So that year I played like three horrendously big tours. I said to Peter Rudge, ‘If you don’t get me in The Guinness Book of World Records for the most overlooked person who has played in front of more people than anyone in one year…’”

The definitive word about the transition from Mick to Woody comes from Keith, though. Of course it does.

Keith Richards: “I’ll tell you the difference between playing with them two. The roles were much more fixed. With Mick [Taylor], either I was going to play lead on one number and that was accepted as that, or Mick would which is what he was good at. And when somebody is as good as Mick Taylor, they tend to not realize how good they are and they tend to desperately want to get into other things, they want to sing, write songs, produce. Which is what Mick wanted to do, wants to do and probably eventually will do. At the moment he hasn’t done anything. Everything that he’s done since he still could have done and stayed with us. I’m sure it will eventually in perspective it will fall into place and probably a period to turn things over to do what he wants to do next.

“While he was with the Stones he very much got into playing drums, playing piano, playing bass. Almost like Brian did. Once they got to a point with an instrument, very much didn’t even realize how good they were at what they were doing and rather would learn all those other things whereas with Ronnie there seems to be more of a knowledge of what we can do, what we’re good at and how we can play together. It’s Super-Sympathetic, whereas with Mick it was sympathetic. It was quite a rigid role to play, much more so than with Ronnie where we can cross lead to rhythm backwards to forwards in a number.”

2013 Rolling Stones tour info!

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Later today I’ll be posting a Rock Calendar, but first, to the surprise of absolutely no one on earth, The Rolling Stones have announced tour plans for their 50th anniversary. You can click that link for a proper article about the tour announcement but here are the dates.

Date: TBA Los Angeles STAPLES Center On Sale: TBA

May 5 Oakland Oracle Arena On sale 4/8 @ 10AM PT

May 8 San Jose HP Pavilion On sale 4/8 @ 10AM PT

May 11 Las Vegas MGM Grand Garden Arena On Sale: TBA

May 15 Anaheim Honda Center On Sale: TBA

May 25 Toronto Air Canada Centre On Sale 4/8 @ 10AM ET

May 28 Chicago United Center On Sale 4/8 @ 10AM CT

June 12 Boston TD Garden On Sale TBA

June 18 Philadelphia Wells Fargo Center TBA

I was slightly unsettled to see no further New York dates — was kinda hoping we could key some publicity to those — but looking closer at the schedule it seems there are a couple of places where a New York show could happen. After all, how can the Rolling Stones possibly have a 50th anniversary tour and NOT play Madison Square Garden? Perhaps they are just trying to sort out the logistics of getting a show scheduled amidst the Knicks playoff run (notice how this Islander fan didn’t mention the Rangers?).

Anyway, I’ll be back in a bit with a Stones related rock calendar (There will be another one next Monday. Stones junkies, see if you can guess what that one will cover).

Albert Maysles: The 50 Licks Interview

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For today’s blog I’m going to run an excerpt of Bernie Corbett’s interview with Albert Maysles who directed the legendary Stones documentary Gimme Shelter. Naturally, we used snippets of this interview throughout 50 Licks, which you can buy by clicking here.

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Tell me the story of how Gimme Shelter came about?
I got a call from Haskell [Wexler] one day, who was an old friend of ours, and he said he’d just been talking with the Stones and they were about to begin their tour and they were going to be at the Plaza hotel the next day and we might want to look them up. So we went to the Plaza, knocked on their door. We didn’t really know their music but we went to their concert the next day, which was in Baltimore and we said, “These guys are good.” We wanted to make something that was not just a concert film. We spent a lot of the next two years filming them and ended up making two movies, Gimme Shelter and Get Yer Ya Ya’s out, though that was more of the Madison Square Garden concert.

So you weren’t a fan beforehand?

My brother was into all that kind of music.

Did you know what kind of movie you wanted to make? Anything you were patterning yourself after?

We didn’t establish any ground rules, it was just, “We’ll tag along.” We didn’t draw upon any of the rock n roll movies that had come before, we were just focused on what was happening in those moments. We had developed a film making philosophy which was totally observational. We never asked questions, no interviews, no host, just what’s happening.

What was your impression of Mick and Keith?

I didn’t get to know Mick much as he was very quiet. Not so with Keith, He was much more conversational. When I was filming Keith in ‘69, I don’t know whether it was drugs or what, but his face looked so ragged, lined, and he looked so much older. He looks much younger now than he did then. I’ve seen Keith and Mick over the years. When Martin Scorsese did Shine A Light I got a call from Martin the day before and he said “I’ve got 18 35 millimeter cameras and I’d love to have you come with your video camera. Besides, both Mick and Keith have asked you to come.”

Of course I have to ask you about what happened at Altamont.

The events at Altamont really turned out to be a characterization of that era. It’s interesting to speculate what would have happened if drugs had been legalized, as they should have been, then and now. I think there would have been a proper security force and none of that ruckus from the Hell’s Angels.

I got to understand the problem was that the guy who would normally be in control of the Hell’s Angels somehow or other he wasn’t there. And instead they got this younger guy who was totally inexperienced and things fell apart

What did you think of the way Altamont was covered in the mainstream press?

The press got it wrong when they called it a murder. To this day, we don’t know what the motive may have been. It really should be called a killing. The New York Times piece by Vincent Canby was titled “Making Murder Pay.” [obviously offfended]. Did you read Pauline Kael’s review of Gimme Shelter? It was totally, totally wrong. The basic premise of her article was that we staged everything. We didn’t stage anything. I still get so angry when I see the journalists from that time who accused the Stones of being responsible for the tragedy because of the titles of the songs and so forth. It’s terrible. It’s unfortunate and unfair.

In many cases, they didn’t even get the basic facts straight.

So many newspapers had Sympathy for the Devil as the song listed that they were playing during the killing but really it was Under My Thumb.

Do you think of Gimme Shelter as a film about the end of the 60s?

People have described Gimme Shelter as portending the demise of the 60s. When you look at it, and you know how things turned out even worse in the next two years, you look at it like a prediction of the future. And people have said that when we filmed the Beatles in 64 and then the Stones in 69, that the films are sort of like the bookends of the 60s.

I had read somewhere that Mick told you he didn’t want to do any acting. Is that right?

He didn’t know that that’s never a requirement of ours. It might seem that we were staging things by having Mick take a look at the killing on the moviola, but what happened was during the filming, Mick had said, “Once you start filming, I want to take a look.” So he’s the one who asked for it.

Where does Gimme Shelter rate in your body of work as a filmmaker?
I’ve made at least 30 films and it usually comes down to three that are especially great, Gimme Shelter, Salesman, and Gray Gardens.

Thinking back on it, what do you remember most about making Gimme Shelter?

We were lucky in so many ways. Pennebaker’s film on Dylan is a very good film but I think he was unlucky in that, due to no fault of Pennebaker’s, Dylan is not that easy to film, very distant. Not so with the Stones, we were right in close with them all the time.