DEEP TANK JERSEY – 20th Anniversary Edition

Deep Tank Jersey

The classic underground sensation is back with a brand new cover and updated material on the wild summer days with DogVoices circa 1995!

Relive the magic and mayhem of those bygone days of summer along the legendary New Jersey Club Circuit with James Campion’s journal from edge.

20th Anniversary Edition Includes:


Brand new essay by the author
– James recounts the entire story behind the story; his memories of how it all began and his researching and writing one of the most compelling stories ever written about the New Jersey rock and roll club scene.

Brand new interviews with all the major participants – In-depth and revealing conversations between author James Campion and the members of the original DogVoices, their manager, Bo Blaze, and the mysterious, Nadine.

Three features,  two previously published and one never-published, on DogVoices by the author through the years:

FREAK DOMAIN REVISITED: THE SAD AND TERRIBLE TRUTH ABOUT DOGVOICES
A 1998 piece long out of print from the East Coast Rocker in which James goes in search of the members and DogVoices.

DEEP TANK TO WEIRD BLOOD Jersey Shore Music Icon Rob Monte Says Good-Bye (For Now)
A 2010 piece for the Aquarian Weekly by James on the final performing days of DogVoices’ wildman singer and master showman, Rob Monte.

PETER BLASEVICK CALLS IT QUITS
A hilarious “Faux Eulogy” written by James and read at Pete’s last professional gig in 2004.

TRUTH IN EXPERIENCE: NONFICTION ON THE RUN
A Discussion With Independent Author James Campion About Expose vs. Straight Storytelling – A 1996 interview with James on the writing of the book.

Get your copy now for $25!

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WHY BERNIE SANDERS MATTERS

Aquarian Weekly
6/1/16

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

WHY BERNIE SANDERS MATTERS

Everybody’s gone but me and you
And I can’t be the last to leave

– Bob Dylan

At this juncture it would take an act of God or the teamsters or something dreamed up by the ghost of Frank Kapra for 74 year-old Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders to wrest the Democratic nomination away from Hillary Rodham Clinton. The former secretary of state is but a handful of delegates away from wrapping this up and she owns an impressive number of controversial “super delegates” – not to mention the unofficial two and half million more votes she has garnered in this process. It is also not stretching credibility to argue Clinton has dominated the primaries with traditional Democratic voters – women, African Americans, Hispanics, and the core of union support, etc, and has used her campaign to fund-raise for down-ballot Democrats.

However…

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.,  speaks at the Alliance for Retired Americans 2015 National Legislative Conference in Washington, Thursday, July 9, 2015. (AP Photo/Molly Riley)

The 2016 presidential candidacy of Bernie Sanders matters.

The fact that I am writing about Sanders on the cusp of June is one pretty good reason. A year ago he was a completely unknown senator from a tiny northeastern state, whose claim to fame was copping to being a socialist. He was supposed to be this platform-shifting “issues candidate” that before being fodder would maybe force Clinton to edge slightly to the left before she went on to crush whatever loon made it out of the Republican contest. In any other year Sanders would be… say, Dennis Kucinich. But this is the witchy season of 2016, a bizarre year where a TV star mogul gets to play and win. Madam Shoo-In should have made Sanders go away around early March. This is how things are usually done around here. Yet, he has not only failed to go away, he is surging to the finish; making a terrible noise, along with the millions that make up his mostly young, feisty and fed-up constituency.

This would make Sanders a Ted Kennedy circa 1980; chipping at the inevitable nominee from the left to the detriment of the general election. But he is more than that. Sanders represents to Democrats what Donald J. Trump accomplished on the Republican side; he is an insurgence candidate, an anti-Washington, anti-establishment figure that has captured this year’s zeitgeist; a must for any presidential candidates (ask the sixteen or so actual GOP politicians that are home wondering what the hell just happened). If anything, Bernie Sanders has been the only real news on the Democratic side since February. His rallies (larger and more raucous than even the Donald’s), his character, (parodied brilliantly by Larry David on SNL), his suddenly “man-for-his-times” stature has eclipsed Clinton from every angle.

Turns out that Sanders is the only true issues candidate; leading a progressive charge against a sitting Democratic president. And as much as it is fairly fabricated, Sanders at least appears pure, untainted by the evils of Washington D.C. Of course, he has spent decades in the same quagmire as his opponent, but Clinton, who reeks of establishment and been-there-done-that gives him rare breathing room on this count. Again, in this climate, he is appealing, which according to most Democratic and national polls matters more to voters now than ever.

But Sanders matters not for hanging in there, staying the course ideologically, and timing; he matters because he is shifting the direction of the coming general election dramatically and has already (as has Trump on the other side) put the system under the microscope – the democratic vagaries of caucuses, strange delegate proportions, antiquated and shady party rules. Both he and Trump like to use the word “rigged”, which of course is nonsense, but indeed the structure of party primaries is such that it promotes scrutiny solely on the general misunderstanding of them by the public. Reminds me of watching a baseball game with a friend, who was unaware of the rule that a catcher must secure a third strike in order for the batter to be out; so when the ball whizzed to the backstop and the batter sped to first, he was incredulous. “The guy’s out! Why is he on first?” Well, you see, according to the rules… “But he struck out!” Okay, it’s weird, but that’s the rules, right?

Beyond the inside baseball aspect of Sanders’ movement, allowing the electorate to see behind the curtains, his candidacy has done a masterful job of revealing the warts of Clinton’s. Without sinking to the level of most political campaigns, the mere presence of Sanders, has put the onus on Clinton to stand for something, which beyond the standard liberal talking points, is a flimsy notion at best. Sanders has exposed Clinton’s greatest weaknesses as a stump candidate, an orator, or even a likable, relatable character. Remember what “likable enough” got her in ’08? Her blandness, already baked in, would have seemed less egregious against the standard opponent. Against the flamboyantly disheveled New Yawk ethnicity of Sanders, she appears invisible.

He matters because he is shifting the direction of the coming general election dramatically and has already (as has Trump on the other side) put the system under the microscope.

Of course, the biggest complaint of Sandersnistas is the seeming wild popularity of their candidate; his winning so many states, but constantly trailing. This puts the rigged idea into the lap of the “rigger”, which would be Clinton, further enhancing her villain persona, something Trump has already begun to weave into his already incendiary rhetoric. The now official Republican nominee has smartly coalesced his anti-establishment movement on the right with Sanders egalitarian rants, prompting him to run as a true independent, effectively handing the election to Trump by default – not to mention feeding this narrative that has grown in the ensuing months that the young and impressionable newbies rallying to Sanders’ populist message will see a viable revolutionary option in Trump.

Sanders has never really had a chance here. There was a moment in mid-March or immediately after his stirring upset in Michigan when Sanders could have made a move. He did not. He was roundly defeated by Clinton when it mattered most and it has left him as this annoying afterthought for Madam Shoo-In, which she has wrongly ignored or condescended to as if this whole silly primary thing is merely a winding road to her coronation. But by hanging in there until his party’s convention, Sanders has pushed this to the limit. If he wins California in early June and rides into Philly with serious momentum and poll numbers that show him trouncing Trump, while Clinton, with her damaging untrustworthy numbers weighting her down, barely squeaks by, he will have a fairly good argument to sway the aforementioned “super delegates” his way and throw the whole shebang into chaos.

And with more troubling news coming from the state department investigation on Clinton’s private server this week, Sanders may come to matter as much as anyone in American politics in 2016, including Donald J. Trump.

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DONALD J. TRUMP, REPUBLICAN NOMINEE – WTF?

Aquarian Weekly
5/11/16

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

DONALD J. TRUMP, REPUBLICAN NOMINEE – WTF?

The political and commercial morals of the United States are not merely food for laughter, they are an entire banquet.
– Mark Twain

Today, as you read this, the presumptive nominee of one of our republic’s two major political parties is a man who eleven months ago was a tabloid-addled, real estate mogul turned reality TV personality. How did this happen? Let’s dissect.

dt_0511

Never Underestimate the Power of Celebrity or the Grim Reality of Math

In the late 1980s I proposed the idea that if Clint Eastwood ran for president, he might not win but would garner about a third of the vote for merely being Clint Eastwood. This is long before a weight-lifter/movie star became governor of the nation’s largest state. Once Donald Trump, a well-known macho big mouth, descended his fancy escalator at the Trump Towers on Fifth Avenue, he owned one-third of the Republican electorate by simply being Donald Trump. This is the celebrity quotient seemingly lost on the political class that at any time may come calling and is ignored at its own peril.

This one-third quotient would have been nothing but an entertaining fart in the wind if Trump were opposed by a reasonable three or four candidates divvying up the remaining 65 percent. This did not happen in 2015. A record seventeen candidates emerged slicing up two, five, eight and ten percent of the pie between them, leading to a growing narrative to those who thought Trump a goof (myself included) having a legitimate shot (something I came to realize all-too clearly in late September). And since not one of the other sixteen candidates chose to confront this mathematical certainty, most stayed in the race, which made Trump’s 33 percent a solid bet.

Trump did not get a majority of the vote until his home state of New York, 34 states into the process. By then most of the field had winnowed and Trump had legs enough to break a record for the most GOP primary votes ever.

Shitty Field & the Republican Lie

Since 2009 the Republican Party, with the ardent assistance of talk radio and FOX News, rolled out the fantasy that President Barack Obama would plunge the nation into Hades. Not that he was a sub-par president, mind you, but Satan. When none of this actually happened, they decided to claim it did anyway. This narrative, wholly baseless, not unlike the left’s insane panic when Ronald Reagan became president, created a netherworld of fact-free political discourse that led to a TEA Party movement at first exploited and eventually reduced to a whole lot of nothing in Washington D.C., which predictably upset a whole lot of people.

Fast forward to the comically large Republican candidate field, which operated under another GOP lie that it would be the finest in a generation. It was not. It sucked, and people knew it, and thus “outsider” Donald Trump became the voice of the disenfranchised tired of the lie. His support was that of a defiantly powerful weapon against bullshit.

The actual shitty field was made up of wildly unpopular governors; Bobby Jindel and Chris Christie, unlikable sods with crappy records and no point to run for re-election, much less the presidency, and popular governors, Rick Perry, a dullard, who put glasses on to appear as if he were not a dullard, which made him look more like a dullard, Scott Walker, who campaigned as if he would rather have a three-way with the Clintons than run for president, and John Kasich, who never seemed to articulate what his actual point was. And finally two long-retired ex-governors, another goddamn Bush, who was merely fodder for Trump’s most effective coming out party; the burying of this pathetic era in American history, and for reasons only known to his shrink, George Pataki. Then there was Marco Rubio, a wildly unpopular senator that lived on the lie he was the Hispanic Obama, but turned out to be in way over his head, and the latest in the Paul family to be shoved aside as a libertarian kook. For fun there was Dr. Ben Carson, a mumbling neurosurgeon and religious loon, who had his fifteen minutes of fame for being “nice”, thrice-failed religious loons, Santorum/Huckabee. Senator Lindsey Graham, who polled as well as me at zero percent, which made abject business failure, Carly Fiorina look good, her eventually running mate, Ted Cruz, a man who looked like the guy you would cast in a slimy politician role for your movie about corruption, and some guy named Gilmore.

Not a Jefferson in the bunch.

The Social Media Pissed-Off Two-Step

This is the social media era and Donald Trump is its demigod. He lives for the short-attention span this opiate satiates and the outlandish quip in short spurts it demands, which translates well to Twitter and cable news, the Internet for old people. Trump dominated every medium mostly made up of two things – a narcissistic obsession with self-promoting the most mundane claptrap and expressing the kind of the hate-speak no one would dare say in any measure of polite society.

Anger, whether legitimate of not, is anger. You can’t tell people they’re not angry if they’re angry, and since the electorate has been repeatedly lied to by both parties for centuries, it came to a head in a very unusual but understandable way. On the left, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders tapped into the anger of progressives that feel abandoned by Obama while Trump tapped into the general anger of the lies the right has fed its base.

When people are angry they like to say outlandish things to hopefully shock the system; a collective Lenny Bruce moment when merely uttering “cocksucker” in a lounge becomes social commentary. This is why when Donald Trump said things that would not only fell normal politicians but destroy careers and reputations, it elevated his stature. He was the living embodiment of anger; an avatar for the very core of ourselves; righteous indignation. He was like the birth of punk music; crude, raw, and defiant, a middle-aged Kurt Cobain character with disdain for decorum and a hard-on for disorder.

Trump is a man for his times, but he also represents our culture of flimsy factoids and fantasy narratives and that somehow being pissed-off is a solution to anything.

For the first time, those who spent their days sitting at home elbow-deep in the Costco-sized Cheetos tub firing off horrifyingly hilarious vitriol under the cover of cowardice could now have a voice and a place to get nuts. Trump and Sanders provided the rhetoric and rallies to take it to the streets, and the primary voting days to file their protest. Some of this frightened those who are afraid of things like free speech and expression, but for those of us who celebrate the ugly experiment that is democracy reflecting the terrors of human nature, it was glorious times.

Trump, and to a lesser extent but no less riotous, Sanders allowed America to bear its soul, and it got real…fast.

The Boring & Sacrilegious Christ Analogy & the Vote

Trump was never really a candidate, he was a symbol. Like the symbol of Jesus of Nazareth some two thousand years ago, the character rolling into Jerusalem and pronouncing his messianic priority, calling everything crap; the social system, the political system, the religious system, the entire thing crap. His declaration of one man replacing all of it is at once egalitarian (what we would call populist today) and fascist, (a nebulous accusation of a singular proposal to return all-things to not crap) resonates. Both guys were faced with a similar push-back from those who needed to survive on the status quo. And when Jesus was executed, his point grew into this other thing entirely. What we call Christianity today is just another fulcrum for the frightened to keep reality at bay.

You think I’m nuts? Ask Ted Cruz, who said as much in his concession speech once Trump made mincemeat of the entire field. He talked about his own march being halted, but the “idea” living on, or “resurrected” in some other larger movement. Problem for Cruz is he was not the Jesus in this analogy, which was borne out by his being bested in nearly every state with evangelicals by Trump. It is Citizen Trump, the human grenade, that calls everything crap and has all the answers to make it not crap; him, alone – not a system or an ideology or even a party, just Trump. Very Christ-like. Or Mussolini-like. But I find it hard to differentiate the symbolic nature of Mussolini and Christ, but that is for another column entirely.

But, again, none of this matters without “the vote”. It was “the vote” that crushed the system and the ideology and the party, none of which could handle or understand Trump. The voters did. The anger did. The timing sure did. Every step of the way the voting came his way and it was ignored by the other candidates and the party and mostly the media, who looked at this as it looks at all things, a shiny object in which to sell ad space. None of these entities understand Trump or the fear and anger people have about a changing world they are not part of, whether socially or economically. Not that Trump can do anything about it, like the Christ thing, but it is better than the crap that is currently happening or what they believe is the crap that is happening.

The voting, not all the other stuff, kept the Trump Train on the tracks. Trump did not hijack the party as the lazy right-wing pundits and the Wall St. Journal claim; he got the votes. This is how it works. And it worked for Trump this time.

In Conclusion

Nothing ever happens in a vacuum, whether Hitler or the Beatles. Trump is a man for his times, but he also represents our culture of flimsy factoids and fantasy narratives and that somehow being pissed-off is a solution to anything. Sometimes it is, like a bunch of British colonists unhappy about the tax/representation balance overseas, and for Trump, if he is to compete against the odds to actually be president, it had better be.

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WHAT’S THE POINT OF TED CRUZ?

Aquarian Weekly
5/4/16

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

WHAT’S THE POINT OF TED CRUZ?
(Or For That Matter John Kasich)

So why should a bunch of principles get in the way of tactics?
-Matt Bai

Maybe I’m mistaken. It would not be the first time and will hardly be the last. But someone please tell me that the point and purpose of the presidential candidacy for Texas Senator Ted Cruz is not just “Vote for me, because I’m not Donald Trump”. Granted, I don’t always expect a “New Frontier” or “Morning in America” or even “Yes We Can”; inspiring generational movements that rally around both an idea and an individual who transcends an era. I can live with the middling “I Like Ike” or “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow”. I can wrap my mind around a flaccid “Compassionate Conservatism” routine or even the fifteen different versions of “Reformer” that come and go like mouthwash ads. But I’m not sure “If You Want To Stop Someone Else, I’m The Guy” is necessarily a goose-bump inducing rallying cry.

fc_0504

I never begrudge anyone who runs for office, and I am loathe to make any suggestions as to when a candidate should enter or exit a race, especially one of this magnitude; so if Ted Cruz wants to make victory speeches after getting his clocked cleaned in some 30 primaries or pick running mates when he is on death’s door, then I say more power to him. However, I think there should be a point to it. There seems to be none here; beyond one pathetic ploy after the other until the whole thing appears sad.

Lord knows I understand there are plenty of races wherein a candidate shows up to just stop a weakened opponent; the tried-and-true “lesser of two evils” jag. It is just damn rare for someone to articulate it as a campaign strategy. Hell, John Kerry and Mitt Romney ran on, “me or else”. Of course this worked out badly for them, but it’s not like they held press conferences talking like a tic-tac-toe X; “Play me to block!”

And just when you thought this nonsense couldn’t get more tragic, Cruz, now mathematically eliminated from a first-ballot contest, merely says, out loud (in campaign speeches, with people sitting in front of him, on television holding a microphone and everything), that “Sure, I can’t win, but neither can Trump if you vote for me. In fact, don’t even vote for me, vote for someone else in other states to prevent him from winning.”

It is so inspiring you can put music to it. The bumper sticker might be larger than normal, but it has a certain dramatic ring. Can’t you hear the women swooning and men fighting back the tears? I get chills writing this.

Okay, so Cruz is nuts, but I maintain he is not any crazier than your average politician. Granted, he may be a little crazier since he keep telling us he isn’t one. He’s like a salesman who begins his pitch by telling you he isn’t selling anything. Cruz is as political as they come. He will do or say anything to get elected. He reeks of Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon. For instance, early in the campaign his staff pulled a fast one on former sort-of candidate, Ben Carson by spreading false information to his voters during the Iowa caucuses that he had dropped out. When confronted about this at the following debate he had three ways to go; apologize, spin about false narratives, or lie. He chose lying. If you look at the campaigning and governing history of both Clinton and Nixon, they both had choices on several and varied occasions to handle their affairs, and in each case, they chose to lie.

But say what you want about the increasingly bizarre “I’m Not Him” strategy of Ted Cruz, what Ohio Governor John Kasich is running on is pure madness.

someone please tell me that the point and purpose of the presidential candidacy for Texas Senator Ted Cruz is not just “Vote for me, because I’m not Donald Trump”.

At least Cruz has managed to pull down a dozen states and a fair share of delegates, working his organization tirelessly within a hazy, backdoor system to gain the requisite votes to take this thing into an open convention come July. Kasich has won one state, his own, and gathered about ten delegates in the past six weeks. No one covers him. He never gets any traction. His argument from day-one has been, “I’m the adult, clear-thinking one.” I find this even less inspiring than the rousing “I’m No Him” scheme. Kasich doesn’t even care that he has less support than candidates who dropped out months ago. And he obviously doesn’t give a flying fart about his party, which will implode if somehow his fantasy of lying in the weeds to get the nomination on a sixth ballot comes true. No one really wants Cruz, but they really don’t want the damage John Kasich will inflict on the party now.

Kasich was the best candidate for the Republicans to defeat Hillary Clinton this past June. Now he looks like an establishment kook, who is just waiting for all this annoying surge voting to cease, so he and his cronies can get back to controlling the system. If Kasich is the nominee, Clinton could actually win southern states.

I’m not sure there was any point to Cruz or Kasich in the first place. Case in point: the goofy #NeverTrump alliance to join forces in their stirring “I’m Not Him” momentum. If either of them were truly principled or had a reason for anyone to vote for them, then how could they coalesce? Kasich is a centrist pro-government compromiser, everything Cruz claims to despise. And Kasich is actually running against the very concept of the agitator/non-compromising Cruz. It would seem by this move that these gentlemen would collude with the irrationally hated President Barrack Obama at this point if it meant there is the slimmest chance they could be in a position to be the nominee.

Apparently this nonsensical tactic backfired when neither campaign adhered to its incoherent messaging for more than a few hours; further illustrating all this pointlessness. Cruz could not stand abandoning futility completely, so he yanked poor Carly Fiorina into the fray in the hopes that Trump might once again blurt out another slice of misogynistic claptrap and scare people over to him.

This is what the year of Trump has wrought. Every campaign is about him, even the ones that claim to be alternatives. Before Trump, Cruz had it all planned. He was the “outsider” in a season of anger and resentment, and Kasich was the viable, electable candidate, who could stop the inevitability of corruptible Madam Shoo-In. Love him. Hate him. But Trump is real and his actual movement is happening. “Make America Great Again” is as vague and confusing as Trump himself, but at least it’s a slogan and an actual mission statement you can get behind or rail against. It’s not, “If I Can’t Play, I’m Making Up Another Game”.

If the Republican Party tries to stop this from happening, no matter what swinging dick is left to pick up the scraps, the whole mess will turn into #NeverGOP, making way for a Hillary Clinton landslide.

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PRINCE ROGERS NELSON – 1958 – 2016

Aquarian Weekly
4/27/16

Cover Feature

James Campion

PRINCE ROGERS NELSON – 1958 – 2016

I do not want to write this shit.

Not now. Not ever.

This is personal.

But it’s either this or continue sitting around enduring this sick feeling of inertia on the edge of a loathsome face-off with mortality.

So…whew…here goes…

During the most prolific musical period of my life, my early twenties, when I wrote and played music for a living, more or less, there was only one artist that mattered; Prince Rogers Nelson.04-27_prince_cover

This was a dark time of transition for me from the late ‘70s Punk movement into New Wave and then a lot of stuff I did not relate to on any level beyond a strange imbalance of apathy and abhorrence. There was U2, the Violent Femmes, a little later, Jane’s Addiction, REM, the Beastie Boys and Public Enemy, but mostly, I was lost. But one thing that could always be counted on was a new Prince album that would snap me back into coherence and make me love new music again, as I did when I was a kid and wore out all my 1960s to early 1970s stuff.

From 1980 to about 1998, Prince was a motherfucker. He wrote, produced and played on more songs than any living human. Period. In a time when major artists put out an album every three to four years, Prince dropped one, and in some cases, two annually. He once released The Black Album, pulled it, and replaced with another one (Lovesexy) in two months, then leaked the former on bootleg. He bootlegged himself! The 1996 album, Emancipation had thirty-six (36!!) really good, really interesting songs on it. In ’98, Crystal Ball had fifty-one incredibly disparate and engaging tracks. On the bulk of these seemingly endless and brilliantly devised discs, the majority of which were huge hits with even bigger hit singles on them, he played every instrument, frighteningly well, and sang all of the parts; some five-part harmonies worthy of the Temptations meets Brian Wilson on a funk jag.

Prince lived in the studio. Literally. He built the damn thing where he lived. Turns out, he died in it. He did not drink. He did not use drugs. He did not attend gala industry parties. He rarely did any interviews or appearances. Hell, he barely ate or slept. He wrote, played and recorded music. When he left the studio to tour the world, he would jam with locals and members of his band in clubs in every city. He played the bass, drums, guitar, piano, and sang back-up and lead, or whatever was needed. He played every kind of music expertly. He listened to and absorbed every kind of music copiously. He was a sponge and he was a spigot that poured forth inspiration.

Those who sessioned for him swore he would force the best from musicians, because he was better than any of them. For a mind-numbing spurt in the mid-to-late 80s, Prince wrote, performed, and produced major hits for many artists; The Time, Sheena Easton, Chaka Kahn, TLC, The Bangles, Sheila E., Stevie Nicks, to name a very few. He started “mask” bands like The Time, The Family, Mazarati, Vanity 6, so he could put out four or five albums a year. Two years running he put out jazz albums under the name Madhouse and created characters to sing and produce other works, Camille and Jamie Starr to name just two. Later he changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol just so he could record anywhere and everywhere to escape the confines of a music business that could not handle him.

Every single he released during this time came with an adjoining twelve-inch extended version with completely fresh B-sides that were often superior to some of the tracks on the albums. Time and space precludes me from making a very strong argument that “Erotic City” is the best side of anything anyone put out in the 1980s, and it was the B-Side to “Let’s Go Crazy”, which is the fifth best song on his monster album/film, Purple Rain. And Purple Rain, which won Prince an Oscar, Grammy’s, et al, and has sold a stunning 22-million copies worldwide to date, is not nearly as good as 1987’s Sign ‘O’ The Times, which I still believe is by far the finest, most diverse and experimental pop record of the decade.

Here’s one for you; I maintain that the best song Prince ever wrote is one he never even recorded as Prince or the symbol-thing, “Nothing Compares 2 U”, which Sinead O’Connor’s gorgeously heartrending version turned into a smash hit. I first heard it performed by one of his aforementioned “mask” bands, The Family on its only album in 1985; no doubt with a backing-track played entirely by the composer. If there is a more painfully framed slice of love-loss than “All the flowers that you planted, mama, in the backyard…all died when you went away”, I’m waiting to hear it. The thing floors me every time. Every time.

That kind of freedom is power and it led him, and us, to some pretty cool places.

Prince songs are genre-less. It was Prince – everyone else. There was rock, funk, punk, pop, jazz, fusion, reggae, ska, rap, classical and a collection of aural oddities that brought a dynamic charge to each successive listen; songs about sex and love and race and sex and God and loss and sex and power and dreams and sex and pain and joy and…yeah, sex. Sex was Prince’s gateway to the spiritual (orgasm as transmogrification), the political (seduction as liberation), the revolutionary (transgender identification), with all those substitute word/symbols thrown in to give it all a literary spark. Listening to Prince back then was a lesson; sit up, take notice, learn the craft, be the music, dig the vibe. It was the experience you looked forward to, because you would not be disappointed.

Maybe it’s because he controlled everything; his image, his fashion, and of course his music. It led to the outstanding and the outlandish. No one was there to say no to Prince, from the first album when he was barely 20 years-old and somehow convinced Warner Bros to allow him to produce his own records. There was no Quincy Jones or George Martin for Prince Rogers Nelson. He was the one who decided to pull the bass out of “When Doves Cry” or create an entire alternative-concept album around a Batman movie or direct a black-and-white French film that bombed so badly it is hard to believe he wasn’t ruined (for the record I like Under a Cherry Moon better than Purple Rain, so there), and certainly no one counseled him to demand everyone stop calling him Prince and release instrumental jazz-rock fusion records after multi-artist compilations and then shun the entire record industry altogether. Nope. It was all Prince, for good or ill. That kind of freedom is power and it led him, and us, to some pretty cool places.

My favorite Prince musical memories, beyond the dozen or so times I saw him play live with some of the best musicians I have ever heard/seen anywhere, is all that wonderful first-time stuff. You know, first time I heard “Purple Rain” at three in the morning driving home from some gig; letting the opening chords and the first verse sink in, then turn it up a little for the second, and by the third, where he shreds his vocal chords and the goddamn fret board, let it blast away. The first time I cracked open the shipping box for Around The World In A Day, still sort of my favorite Prince album, two days before it was to be put on the shelf (I was working at Record World in Westchester at the time), and running home to play it; the weird Indian raga and the screeching wail of a guitar into vocal, then all that stuff afterwards that runs into “Raspberry Beret” and “Pop Life”, and that weird shit at the end where he is fucking and talking to God or whatever the hell is going on there. Hearing “Kiss’ for the first time; the bare, stark, air-sucking naked compression of everything that thump-kicks you in the face and the gut and the balls; ushering in that pinch-chirping falsetto; “You don’t hafta be beautiful…” My first listen to Sign ‘O’ The Times; his masterpiece; his Exile on Main St., his White Album, his Blonde on Blonde – Fuck it; go listen to Sign … right now…do it!

I remember the friends and lovers too. We were the special ones, the ones who dug Prince before he was the shit and after he stopped being the shit when the shit came down on him. You know who you are, but I have a special place in my soul for my dear friend and drummer, Anthony Misuraca. Shit, Anthony and I would listen to Prince everywhere; the car, the house, the studio, the roof, the basement, the street; morning, noon, night. We’d pick out chords and riffs and lilts in his voice; You hear that? No? Listen to this…man! We drove from Raleigh, North Carolina to Madison Square Garden on August 2, 1986 to see The Revolution ply its trade. I remember it because it’s my brother’s birthday, and because we did it. It was my first Prince gig. I chased down Prince concerts after that; every single one better than the next – although for my money the Lovesexy Tour 1988 beats all-hell; in the round, a tour de force. I caught it three times.

That was the thing about Prince; it was personal for those of us who dug him. We got our copy of Uptown magazine every month at Revolver Records on West 8th Street and argued about the alternative mixes and studio outtake/live bootlegs and after-hour show tapes and how each song referenced the other song and it coalesced into this other thing entirely. It was a 70s kid thing for a lot of us, who grew up, like Prince, on imagination, amalgamation, and organic clout in our music. We understood when Prince released a B-Side at 45 rpm, but if you slowed it down to 33 rpm it is a tribute to the third track on the fourth Sly and the Family Stone album. We knew when he referenced James Brown in “Get Off”; “Some like ‘em fat…” or rolled into Joni Mitchell’s “Help Me” in the bridge of “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker” or that odd Stones riff he hides in “Ronnie Talk To Russia” or the Hendrix feed-drenched guitar-screams in “All The Critics Love You In New York” or the Black Sabbath-esque foreboding intro to “1999”, or the blatantly obvious Marvin Gaye homage suite in “Do Me Baby”. We got it, man. We loved it. He understood what made us tick. He gave us a soundtrack to our soundtrack.

For the longest time, there was a Prince album and Woody Allen film every year. Like clockwork. And they were always challenging and engaging and inspiring. This was what I counted on. Like Christmas or birthdays for others. The other day I thought about a time when the 80 year-old Allen would no longer be able to tell his celluloid stories. This I get. It’s going to suck, but I get that. But Prince? He is 57. I am 53. We hail from the same post-Boomer/pre-X generation that produced a shitload of really cynical, wise-ass jerk-offs, who cannot believe there are still illogical, racist, sexually-repressed assholes running around using the same tired bullshit to tell us what we can listen to or eat or fuck or wear; that we thought we had somehow changed things by merely living on and making it to the future; it is what Prince meant when he wrote in the liner notes of every record, “May U Live To See The Dawn”.

Suddenly you wake up and the future is the past and your present is the dumb shit your parents and their parents had to deal with. You sleepwalked through all this proposed revolution. You expected something new and vibrant, because you imagined it. Maybe it was all just marketing. But you come to accept it. It’s fine. It’s life. And then with no warning and no reason Prince up and dies and dredges it all up. A wild, eccentric crazy man, whose art was life, is gone – who wore nothing but garters, silk-stockings and panties on stage and ass-less pants on Arsenio Hall and stuck the Lord’s Prayer in the middle of a funk song about interracial homosexuality and turned songs about Armageddon into a party-pop hit you could roll out on MTV with his interracial, cross-gender rock/funk/pop band, conflating images of Jesus, smack, slavery and cunninlingus into a song about flowers.

I was reminded today of that little nugget from Toure’s 2013 treatise on Prince, I Would Die For You – Why Prince Became An Icon, which I reviewed for this paper and truth be told, inspired my own foray into such an investigation on KISS in my last book, Shout It Out Loud – The Story of KISS’s Destroyer and the Making of an American Icon. “Toure writes of “emerging adulthood” this way: “Sociologists say people fifteen to twenty-five are in active identity formulation mode, as opposed to thirty-somethings…part of why we like certain artists is that we like the other people who like them, we enjoy being associated with or attached to those people, we want to be in a tribe with them. After thirty that social transaction is less valuable.”

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Today, as I write this, those words ring true. I already knew all this, it’s obvious, but when that touchstone, the focal point of a tribe long gone dies, it can unsettle the odd illusion. I have to admit, it triggered something deeper in me than mere fandom. My friend, Anthony must have felt it too. I had not heard from him in about five or six years, yet he emailed me within minutes of the news of Prince dying. He just wrote, “Wow.” Yeah, wow. It is, I think, a real sense of something else dying; the youthful exuberance of discovery and a revolutionary spirit that always seems to be fading.

But that’s the nut. You see, Prince stopped becoming that interesting to me by the turn of the century. There were moments when I was pulled back by a random album or single, and I caught most of his tours through here, although I sadly missed the last one. It’s as though, over this past decade and a half, I’d been already mourning his passing as an influential artist in my life, but really that passing was that of time, this period of life when music could shift my entire being for more than an afternoon or evening, where it took me places, redefined me, set another course, a more dangerous one. It fueled me. It scared me. It soothed me.

Ahhh, but once that’s awakened in you, then you look for it everywhere. It’s a curse. And I think what became glaringly apparent with the passing of Prince is the curse can’t be lifted. Nope. It’s there. Always. And because Prince was visual and theatrical and worked on many thematic levels and played with perceptions and got Tipper Gore all hot and heavy over Darling Nikki “masturbating with a magazine”, it reminded me of it. It’s humor. It’s sedition. It’s exuberance to test parameters unseen. It reminded me that it makes all the rest of it worthwhile. I need to be reminded. We need to be reminded.

“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life…”

Preach it, brutha

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ACE FREHLEY LOOKS BACK IN PRIDE

Aquarian Weekly
4/6/16

BUZZ

James Campion


ACE FREHLEY LOOKS BACK IN PRIDE
Space Ace Hits the Road with New Album of Rock Classics and Talks Guitar Worship, Rock Star Team-ups, Imposters and a KISS Reunion?

Far from the noise of the rock star life; the clamoring fans, the roaring crowds, the constant bickering with ex-bandunnamed mates in the press, a recently minted Rock & Roll Hall of Famer lounges on a couch in his suite high above Manhattan. He sips tea while blithely glancing at a muted TV across the room. This is Ace Frehley at 64; the fret-blistering Space Ace of KISS; the dominant and iconic harlequin outfit of 1970s fame, dressed rather casually in a blue tee shirt and jeans. An ace-of-spades locket, a reminder of his persona, dangles from a silver chain around his neck. He bends an ear to hear my questions and squints to remember the details of his answers, mildly clearing his throat, as if to conjure the wild mystery of his past. This is a genuine rock rebel in repose, a man at peace, but still very much rocking. Big time.

His latest album, Origins Vol. 1, sounding fat, bold and heavy, is due out this week, and he is very proud of it; the songs he’s chosen, beloved covers from classic rock acts, and his guest stars, not the least of which is former brother-in KISSdom, Paul Stanley. He is proud of having conjured it in his private studio in San Diego, where he now calls home, and his engineering and editing of many of the solos and vocal tracks on it.

Mostly, he is proud of his legacy in the pantheon of rock; the lineage of which is profoundly presented on Origins. Perhaps the most influential guitarist of his generation, whose unique shoot-from-the-hip style is often imitated but never duplicated, now pays homage to his heroes; Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, and many more.  And although it is difficult for him to wrap his mind around his impact in the wake of such musical giants, what does find its way through resonates. KISS was indeed a major rock spectacle. Its anthemic songs, burlesque imagery, and groundbreaking theatrical concerts turned the whole culture upside down. He was there; designed its logo and was the first to don its make-up – showing up at the annual New York Dolls New Year’s Eve bash in 1972 with silver hair and that striking Spaceman face-paint.

We spoke for nearly an hour about his music, his legacy and his love of the guitar, which took this fellow Bronx boy from a dead-end subsistence to the top of the world.

This is Paul Daniel “Ace” Frehley at 64, unplugged; honest, reflective and charmingly defiant.

 

jc: I’m going to start with something I’m sure you’re bored with talking about, but I have to ask you; why a covers record now?

 

AF: Well, actually it was the record company’s idea. To be honest with you initially I wasn’t that excited about the project, because I had just come off the high of the success of Space Invader, which is all originals except for a cover of “The Joker”. It was almost like, “Okay, I’m going to go through the motions and get this out of the way and then jump into the studio for my next real studio album.” But I gotta tell ya, man, once I started the process and started remembering the groups that influenced me, narrowing down which songs I thought were going to be best for the record, and then started the recording process; I really started getting more excited about it.

Then once I got Slash on “Emerald,” he was the first guest star that recorded, and Paul (Stanley) agreed to do it. I was trying to get a hold of Gene (Simmons) and for some reason Gene didn’t get back to me. But when Paul agreed to do it, I already had Slash in the can and I knew I could count on Lita Ford, because I already spoke to her about it last year, and John 5. I also spoke to Mike McCready a year or two ago and he said he was up for doing a track on my new record. So, all the ducks were in a row.

The last two weeks of the record I went up to L.A. I got John 5 and Lita Ford on the record the same day and that weekend Paul recorded the vocal for “Fire and Water”, while I was doing overdubs, and then he emailed the vocal back to us. I put a guitar solo on and we just mixed it. That was it. The whole process for “Fire and Water” was about four days from beginning to end.

 

How long did it take you to make the record?

 

Well, I started tracking last spring, but I went on tour last year to Australia, New Zealand, and Europe, and then came back and finished the record. Maybe the whole process took six months, leaving out the time I was on the road.

 

I understand you recorded some the tracks in your home studio in San Diego?3dedf7c2-a7ce-438d-917e-4e36d61dad10

 

My place isn’t big enough for drums. We have a two-story townhouse, and I have a really great room with preamps and mikes and stuff. I can do everything there but drums. There’s a studio in San Diego called Signature Sound and that’s where I did a lot of the basic tracks with drums. I tracked the drums and then I flew my engineer in from New York (Alex Salzman), who I like working with since Anomaly, and we did a lot of the overdubs, and then I went up to L.A. to do the remainder of the overdubs. A lot of the solos I engineered, like “Fire and Water”, the intro solo and a lot of the guitars on “Bring It On Home.” What else did I do? I did the solo for “Till The End Of The Day” in my studio alone. I’ve really gotten good at Pro Tools, where I can actually engineer myself. The only drawback is when you are engineering some of the creativity goes out the window, because you’ve got to stay focused on what you’re doing instead of just thinking about creating. I prefer working with an engineer, but when I don’t have one around I can do it myself.

 

The record sounds very heavy and fat. Is that something you guys were going for or you just stumbled on?

 

No, that’s what I was going for. Warren Huart, the guy who also mixed Space Invader, he’s got all that stuff; SSL-board, and he uses old preamps. On some of my vocals he’s actually using real tape delay.

 

So, you did a lot of analog recording then?

 

Well, a lot of it was recorded digitally, but in the mixing and overdubbing process, we used a lot of analog equipment to achieve more of a vintage sound.

 

One thing I’ve read about you over the years, specifically your first solo album when you were still in KISS in the 70s, which I love – it’s the only one I bought – is that you use many different guitars and various amps and effects. Did you do the same thing for this since you were covering different kinds of music from a variety of artists?

 

I use a lot of Les Pauls, but I like doubling Les Pauls with Fenders. I’ve got about a half a dozen Telecasters and a half a dozen Strats that I use, but in conjunction with different amps. I have a couple old Vox amps, a couple old Fender amps, and some old Marshalls. Last year I picked up a 50-watt Marshall I got in a pawnshop outside of Palm Springs. I picked up the head for $900 bucks. (laughs) I stole it! It was from the 70s, so, you know, it’s the combination of all that stuff. Vintage microphones. Vintage preamps. Everything tube. That’s how I achieved that fat sound. But layering Les Pauls and Fenders are really one of my trademarks that I’ve been using since the 70s.

 

When I saw that Mike McCready was joining you, because I know he’s is a big KISS fan, I was reminded of your solo on “She”, which is very reminiscent of Robbie Krieger’s solo on The Doors’ “Five to One,” and then McCready took that solo and used it in Pearl Jam’s “Alive”. It’s a great lineage. You guys ever talk about that?

 

Yeah, we’ve spoken about that. I met Mike several years ago, because my daughter was a big Pearl Jam fan when she was a kid. They took care of us at one of the concerts. Then I found out he was sober. I got sober. So we had that common bond. I ended up jamming with them at Madison Square Garden one night. We did…

 

“Black Diamond”.

 

“Black Diamond.” I jammed with them at Atlantic City at the Borgata Casino. I have a good rapport with him and Eddie (Vedder). I’ve wanted to get him on one of my records for a long time and finally it transpired.

 

I love the way the different vocalists change the style of each track, but you’re the constant throughout the whole record. With Paul, how difficult or how easy was that when you guys first got together? Tell me the whole process there.

 

We actually were never in the same room together. (laughs) Like I said, once me and Paul decided on which song to do, I was up in L.A .doing overdubs with John 5 and Lita and that same weekend Paul recorded the vocals at a different studio. We just emailed him the tracks. He did the vocals, engineered it, and emailed them back to us, and boom. Technology has changed the recording process so much.

In the 70s, we had to carry around these bulky, two-inch thick reels of tape that only held two or three songs depending upon the length of the song. Big tape machines. Every time you wanted to do an edit was with a razor blade. Now with digital editing, it’s a dream. I mean, the sequence of solos that me and Slash did on “Emerald,” we had a dozen passes or more of solos and I pretty much put that together piece by piece; picked the best ones from each performance.

 

I’m sure these are influential songs, but did you realize while recording them where your influences came from?

 

I didn’t connect the dots in that way. It’s just that I thought back to all the groups that influenced me. I really wanted to do a Who song on the record, I just couldn’t get that together.

 

Which one would you have done?

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I couldn’t decide. That was the problem! (laughs) Actually, towards the very end, prior to deciding on “Fire and Water,” Paul was kicking around the idea with me to do “My Generation.” I just wanted to do a song that was a little more obscure, like in the same way with the Hendrix song. I did “Spanish Castle Magic” instead of “Purple Haze” or “Manic Depression” or something off the first album, which everybody is more familiar with. So I kind of went down that road when it came to choice of certain songs, but I’m really happy with the end result. It always amazes me, because some of these songs, it was just so easy to do. It was effortless to me. I’m just amazed after the mixing process how strong they sounded, ‘cause I don’t really pay that much attention to detail when I’m recording. I just go for feel. But I work with some of the best musicians in the world, so that must be the secret. (laughs)

 

It sounds like you gave some real love to the songs, a respect to the origins of them. I’ll take “White Room” for an example. You achieved that signature wah-wah sound; that great (Eric) Clapton wah-wah sound throughout the song and then into the solo. Did you make a concerted effort to pay sonic homage to each song?

 

I had two wah-wahs in one of my boxes and me and my engineer plugged in both of them and they were way too noisy. They were old. The potentiometers were all dirty and it was making a lot of noise, so we ran out to Guitar Center and bought a brand new wah-wah, (laughs) a Vox wah-wah. I only did two or three passes of the solos, and out of those three passes, my engineer pieced together one solo. Everything kind of came together really… I’m still sitting here listening to… I still listen to the album almost every day. I keep hearing things that I didn’t hear from a prior listen.

I improvised all the solos on the record. I didn’t play the other people’s solos, note for note. I stayed pretty true to most of the arrangement. I ended up extending “Emerald” by redoing the second half of the second verse when I came out of the solo, which isn’t in the original arrangement. I actually like my arrangement better. (laughs) It kind of brings the whole song to an end nicely.

I had a lot of fun with the record. Sometimes when you have too many chefs in the kitchen it spoils the stew. I work very streamlined. In most cases, I’m recording with just me and one other person and an engineer. More than three people in a studio is a lot for me. I don’t like it that way. That’s how I did my very first, 1978 solo album with “New York Groove” and that form has always worked for me.

 

The thing I found researching my book (Shout It Out Loud – The Story of KISS’s Destroyer and the Making of an American Icon – Backbeat Books, Oct. 2015) was that speaking to Bob Ezrin and a lot of people that worked on Destroyer, and reading your memoir, you’re used to coming in, hearing the track, playing your solo, and bingo! In fact, you used to say you used to figure out solos, get to the studio, and everyone would be saying, “Nah, it’s not really…” and then you’d wing it and that take would be better. It would seem that nothing has changed over all these years.

 

It’s been a long time since I sat down prior to doing a solo and tried to figure it out before I hit the record button. I just empty out my head. It’s a lot easier to do four or five passes and then pick the best parts. Like I said, with digital editing you can pick the front of one pass, the middle of another, and the tail end of a third and piece them together seamlessly, so you really can’t hear the edit.

 

But you have to learn that to play it live.

 

Well, I memorize all my solos once I play live, because a lot of them are pieced together. (laughs) For instance, I’ll tell you what happened with the solo in “Fire and Water.” I did about fifteen passes after I got the lead vocal from Paul. He did a tremendous vocal. I thought it was amazing, one of his best vocal performances, and I wanted to do a really outstanding solo. So I did about fifteen passes of solos and I started trying to piece them together and it just didn’t sound right. So I took a break. I went downstairs and had a snack, went back up in the studio, and I just did one last take from beginning to end and that’s the solo! And that’s a long solo.

Also, the stuff that me and John 5 did at the end of “Spanish Castle Magic” is pretty amazing. John did an amazing solo in the second half of “Parasite.” I doubled the length of the solo. I played the original solo like it is on the first record and John came up with a great solo for the second half.

 

Why did you choose “Parasite” and “Cold Gin?”AceFrehley

 

The record company thought I should do a couple of KISS songs and I figure, “Why not redo the songs that I’ve written but didn’t sing?”

 

Ahhh. That’s what I thought.

 

Gene sang on those. At the time, I didn’t consider myself a lead singer and was really insecure about my lead vocals. I said, “Gene you got to sing this.” And of course Peter sang a couple songs I had written over the years and in the beginning. But once “Shock Me” happened it was like the cat was out of the bag. I’ve been singing them in concert for years. I figure it’s about time I get them on the record.

 

Could you possibly pick a favorite song that you’ve written over the years? One you love to play live?

 

I don’t know. My favorite KISS song is definitely “Deuce.” It was the first KISS song I ever heard. It was before KISS was even KISS. When I went in to audition for the band they played “Deuce” for me and then I ended up playing a solo to it off the top of my head. Pretty much, I think those guys after that one song thought I was the guy. At least that’s what I’ve read in retrospect.

 

What about something you’ve written?

 

Something that I’ve written? I don’t know. So many songs to choose from. One of my favorite solos is the one in “Strange Ways.” I normally do my solos in the control room with the amp in another room, but “Strange Ways” was one of the few solos I stood in front of the stack. I stood in front of the Marshall stack with a tight set of headphones and that’s how I got that natural feedback. There is an intensity on that. The stack was on ten! (laughs) I almost couldn’t hear the track with headphones on, but it’s a pretty radical solo.

 

I have to say, now that I’m sitting across from you, the “100,000 Years” solo is one of the most melodic that you’ve written and you always seem to nail that, every time, even in the reunion tours. Have you played it since KISS? I love it. It’s so beautifully melodic.

 

Thank you so much. I forget about that song. I haven’t played that song in a long time. Maybe we should try doing that live. Maybe my drummer, Scoty should sing it. He sings “Love Gun” and “Detroit Rock City”.

 

Who’s in your touring band?

 

Scot Coogan on the drums. He plays on nine tracks on this record and the other three tracks are played by Matt Starr, who did the drumming on Space Invader. Chris Wyse on bass. I’m playing bass on about four tracks. Richie Scarlet is on rhythm guitar for the tour.

 

The obvious question is will there going be a Volume II?

 

Yeah, it was actually my idea to call it Volume I. (laughs) I just thought it was a great marketing ploy and everyone’s going, “Is there going to be a Volume II? I go, “Maybe.” I have a feeling this is going to be a very successful record, because I think it has mass appeal. You don’t have to be an Ace Frehley fan to get off on some of the songs on this record. If the record does as well as I think it will, I definitely think there is going to be a Volume II, but not before I do another studio record.

 

Originals?

 

All originals, yeah, and then maybe after that, maybe Volume II. That would make sense.

 

I recently read that you would consider playing with KISS again.

 

I’ve always said that. I’ve always said, “Never say never. Leave the door open.” It’s really their call. I think it could be great. It would be a nice way for KISS to go out with a bang. You know, right now it’s really only half of KISS.

 

Right.

 

And everybody knows it. But like I said, the ball is in Paul and Gene’s court, but I would be open to the idea if it was presented to me in the right way. Sure.

 

I’ve been promoting my book now since October, and I’ve done a ton of podcasts and interviews and radio, and you’ve been the one member of the band that everybody gravitates to, perhaps because of your rebellious nature and the fact that you didn’t always buy into some of the more materialist KISS stuff; that you’ve been your own man. Do you realize how much people really love you?Ace_James_1-250

 

I don’t. The other thing that people always say to me, “Do you realize the impact you’ve had on so many guitar players? The influence you’ve had?” It’s just not something I think about. I’m really flattered when people say that to me. But, yeah, I’m kind of like the cool guy. (laughs) Let’s be honest. That’s what everybody said.

But it was never about the money for me either. I always wanted to be respected by my peers and I didn’t want to give up my integrity as a musician in lieu of a show or merchandise or anything. To me it was always the music first, the show second. Invariably with KISS, a lot of times the reviews would talk more about the show than the music. It was frustrating at times, but I think at this juncture I’m respected by my peers. I don’t know if Paul and Gene really are all the time.

 

What are your feelings about two other guys wearing the makeup? I know they can legally do it, but to fans know that’s not Ace Frehley out there.

 

Prior to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction a lot of people thought it was me, believe it or not! (laughs)

 

No shit. I don’t believe that.

 

People that aren’t hardcore fans and people that don’t really pay attention to the inner workings of KISS, a lot of them weren’t even aware of it. They’ve always downplayed Tommy (Thayer). But I think with all the controversy that surrounded the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, that they decided not to play with me and Peter, a lot of people got hip to the fact that, “Hey that’s not Ace in the makeup!” I’m telling you, a lot of people didn’t know. I used to get phone calls when KISS played in certain areas and somebody would say, “Hey can you get me tickets? I want to go see you play.” I go, “That’s not me. What are you talking about?” I’m telling you. (laughs) The people that weren’t hardcore fans, casual fans, some of them didn’t know. They thought it might be Ace.

 

Well, does it bug you?

 

I still get checks. (laughs) Unlike Peter, I still do get checks.

 

Well, that’s good.

 

They pay me for the use of the makeup and I get checks for merchandise, but it bothers me. You know what bothers me more; the fact that the fans are upset about it. It’s gotten really silly over the last year or so when Paul or Gene make these ridiculous statements like, “Well, you know, once we can’t perform any more, even we’re going to be replaced.” They’re trying to legitimatize the fact that there are two fake guys in the band by making a statement like that. But let’s face it, those guys making that statement is like Mick Jagger and Keith Richards saying, “Yeah, once we’re gone The Stones are gonna continue with two guys that look like us.” Give me a break. They will try anything to pull the wool over some people’s eyes.

 

But like you said, the true fans know.

 

There is only one real Space Ace.

 

That’s right!

 

Whataya gonna do?

 

Whataya gonna do?” That’s classic Bronx.

 

Go feegya.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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THE GREAT REPUBLICAN LIE ON ABORTION

Aquarian Weekly
4/6/16

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

THE GREAT REPUBLICAN LIE ON ABORTION

This week Republican presidential front-runner, Donald Trump, in his usual wing-it fashion, told an MSNBC audience that if abortion was illegal than the woman getting the abortion is committing a crime and therefore should stand trial for said crime. This caused the predictable outcry from pro-choice advocates and Democrats, but unconscionably, it also drew the ire of conservative Republicans. This makes no sense and someone should point this out.

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Pro-Life advocates conveniently want it both ways; they continue to woo the woman vote while also stating that abortion is murder and should be deemed such. Who exactly then is the murderer? The doctor? Does the doctor enter the woman’s room late at night and yank the fetus from her or does the woman make a difficult choice to terminate the pregnancy, then, in their ideological view, walk willingly and knowingly into the clinic and murder the fetus?

This is why I state emphatically that if I were a woman in no way, shape or form would I ever support a major political party that stands by the concept of allowing the government to manipulate my insides. Ever. Whatever side you fall on in this very difficult issue, you cannot support the government deciding what happens inside the body of a tax-paying citizen protected by the Bill of Rights. It is not only unconstitutional, it is insane. It leads to a world in which if there is over-population, then the government can decide who lives and who dies and could one day force women with “too many children” to get abortions.

But if you strongly believe that it is the right and moral foundation for the United States government to protect innocents – unless innocents happen to be gay, undocumented, the elderly with no money, or the random black kid gunned down by rogue cops; then fuck them – it stands to reason you deem abortion murder, and therefore that murder must have a perpetrator. Conservative phonies like Ted Cruz, who is now fully immersed in the establishment, despite his charade of stating he is anti-establishment whilst asking the party to coalesce behind him to stop the actual anti-establishment candidate, like to tell us that in this weirdly constructed reality, the woman is the victim of this “crime”.

Really?

Then why do we put drug offenders in jail or bust drunk drivers? They are merely victims of the terrible drug dealers and liquor stores and bars who serve them dope and libations. When someone hits you with their car, do they seek out the manufacturer? Is Ford responsible for the guy who hits you? So, I ask; in what crazed dystopian nightmare does a woman who gets an abortion somehow translate to victim?

I guess Ted Cruz is a bleeding heart liberal who believes somehow that society, the prison system, and the Beatles were guilty of ritualistic murder, and not poor, victimized Charles Manson.

If abortion is murder, then the woman should go to jail. Trump is correct and has continued to be the gift that keeps giving for the free thinkers among us who believe that the abject lies the Republican Party has been selling for decades about military build-ups and asinine wars, Wall Street, free-trade unregulated nonsense, and haughty attacks on social issues are stupid and antiquated and have become sad, fringe positions that have no place in an advancing world.

But that is politics, and we are not dealing with politics today, just like we are not dealing in morals here, ever; we are merely dealing with personal liberty and the law, which rightly gives a tax-paying citizen protected by the Bill of Rights control over her body. However, if that law should change, and abortion becomes illegal; then you explain to me how a woman who seeks an abortion does not break the law? And if you break the law, should you not pay for your crime? And if that crime is murder, then should you not be sentenced to life imprisonment, and in some states, face execution?

This is about taking Trump down, while simultaneously keeping the false notion of deeming abortion a crime against humanity while somehow absolving the architect, so women will vote Republican in the fall.

I believe Trump when he repeatedly says, “You either have a country or you don’t.”

So, where does this dribbling nonsense of staunchly defending the unborn while simultaneously absolving the woman killing this child come from?

Now, the cynic in me understands the campaign landscape of shock and dismay is wholly motivated by a #nevertrump effort. Trump, like Obama, could espouse the entire GOP platform and someone on the right will get in a tizzy and blame them for pissing on God’s head. This is about taking Trump down, while simultaneously keeping the false notion of deeming abortion a crime against humanity while somehow absolving the architect, so women will vote Republican in the fall. Period.

The main discussion about abortion really comes down to the idea that you must accept that you are indeed terminating a life when you have one. As a supporter of pro-choice, I also get tough with those who support same when they deny that this is not the case, that somehow this glob of tissue is not life or to make things cushy, some sub-life or pre-form of life. Technology and advanced science now prove with no doubt that life is being terminated. Whether this constitutes murder, as it is described in the annals of civilization or our current structure of law, is another argument I shall not make here. But I have been asking my pro-life friends now for decades; how exactly do you accept the premise that the government has a right to adjudicate what is inside a citizen’s body? The government has no right to burst into your apartment and begin rummaging around, but your body is open season?

And how do you police this matter?

Donald Trump says you arrest the murderer, and he is right.

But that is shocking to us, because we cannot imagine someone being arrested for such a thing. So, in abject panic that we can now see their draconian oligarchy correctly, the right-wing moral loons scramble to tell you Trump is nuts. Well, of course he’s nuts, but so is the notion that the government can arrest a woman for this. So, they make up some wild story about the woman merely being a victim.

Poor, unknowing, weak, and distressed female, whose only purpose is to plunk out babies on demand; you will not be held responsible for the thing you just did. But, of course, you will, and you should, and if you don’t think that is coming if Roe v Wade is overturned, which the Republican Party wants – including Ted Cruz and John Kasich, no matter how much they try and distance themselves from it – then you are not listening to the pro-life movement. This is what they want; to make abortion illegal, which means if you happen to have a vagina; it is time to watch your step.

If the premise introduced to Donald Trump on MSNBC this week is correct, and one day we are faced with abortion being illegal, than women will need to stand trial for murder.

Any other conclusion to this is a lie.

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MADAM SHOO-IN – THE SEQUEL

Aquarian Weekly
3/23/16

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

MADAM SHOO-IN – THE SEQUEL
The Clinton Machine Revs Up

Can you hear it?

Vrooooooooooom. Vrooooooooom.

It is an old model, early 1990s to be exact, and though it was idling a tad shaky this past summer – not surprisingly, it hadn’t been cranked up since 2008 – it is starting to hum. The pistons were rusty and the fuel lines were clogged. A few spark plugs were less than optimal, and the radiator leaked. It may not be a perfect machine, right off the line, like the 2008 Barack Obama model that ran it off the road on the first turn and never looked back. But even that model has a few laps on it now. It is ancient history around these parts, the Clinton parts; where the sense memory is long and deep and needs no motivation beyond a push on the pedal to get her going.

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Vrooooooooooom. Vrooooooooom.

Hillary Rodham Clinton is about to be the first woman to ever lead a major party’s ticket for the presidency in the 240-year history of this republic. It is only a matter of time before she gets the engine of The Machine at peak levels. It’s just about revving now; across the South and now through Midwest, with a few pit-stops for tuning up around New Hampshire and Michigan. But after the real Super Tuesday, where the delegate count started to look like something from Custer’s Last Stand, it is picking up steam. Even the Bernie Sanders supporters now begin talking about “changing the party” and “making our point” and “looking forward to marching into the Democratic Convention and pleading our ideological case.” Winning for them is out of the question now.

This is what happens when The Machine rolls over you. There are tire marks on your back and you wonder, what’s the point?

The late Paul Tsongas had a similar feeling in 1992. The Massachusetts senator entered Super Tuesday with momentum and was putting the screws to William Jefferson Clinton, an embattled and politically wounded Arkansas Governor. Clinton was a scandal working on another scandal while waiting for the last scandal to wrap up. Soon, without warning, Tsongas was headed back to Beantown not knowing what hit him. What hit him was The Machine.

I have seen The Machine up close. I felt its heat and heard its engines purr. They are a mother, let me tell you. In 2009, I went to Radio City Music Hall to listen to its main mechanic James Carville publically discuss how to build and maintain such a thing. He sat across from Karl Rove, a man I drank with more than once in early 2000, who ran an effective engine of his own. That tip-top bastard of an apparatus turned a garble-mouthed Texas bonus baby into Captain Shoo-In, who would become a Texas governor and later president of the United States. These are men who know how to put together a machine that instinctually warms up and finds the open road.

Right now that is where Hillary Clinton finds herself. There is no junior senator rock star in front of her now. The Bern has flamed out. Most it can do now to make news is have its youthfully exuberant charges bust up Donald Trump rallies, which is good for press but does nothing to stop whatever that maniac’s got going, which looks real and mean and unstoppable. But that is a problem for the Republican Party, which fears the real estate mogul’s dismal approval ratings might sink it and hand the senate back over the Democrats. Trump, they say, is even more untrustworthy and unpopular than Clinton, who has now approached Nixonian levels of icky. No one seems to know what the woman is capable of, but none of it matters. The Machine is on its way.

Vrooooooooooom. Vrooooooooom.

There is no junior senator rock star in front of her now.

For the record, this model has an easier ride than the ’92 model. That one was brand new but up against serious odds, and the Democratic Party didn’t give a shit who the hell lost to George Bush Sr. Eyes were already on 1996 when the whole Reagan Revolution finally died out and people could get on with things. But Big Bill had other ideas. He also had a madman Independent candidate called Ross Perot, sort of an antecedent to this Trump fellow, but crazier. Way crazier. The Texas billionaire garnered 18 percent of the vote, despite dropping out halfway through the summer haunted by delusions of CIA infiltrations of his daughter’s wedding and other weird shit he blurted out during odd moments on the Larry King Show. As a result of this mess, Clinton won the presidency with 43 percent of the popular vote. Only Richard Nixon in 1968, (43.4) Woodrow Wilson in 1912 (41.8) and Abraham Lincoln in 1860 (39.8) earned less. To fair, Honest Abe had three opponents and the entire South delivered zero votes.

The 2016 Clinton model could face a similar set-up, if anti-Trump Republicans decide to form a third party and siphon off 20 percent of the right-wing electorate.

Either way, you’d have to be a political novice to not see that The Machine has found its motor and is kicking up a storm now. It came alive somewhere along the southern rim of the contiguous United States in mid-to-late February, and it shows little sign of slowing down. Not until there is an opponent, and that looks malleable right now. For Bernie Sanders, as we have come to know and love him, is done; left by the roadside with his thumb out looking for a way back to the senate. It was a nice run, a short revolution, but one that had a mind-bending effect on Clinton. It may even hound her come late summer when the main laps for The Machine commence.

But know this: The Machine, the Clinton Machine, is back. And at some point all this fleeting hope for the FBI or some smoking gun to come out of any of these Clinton shenanigans to halt its momentum has got to cease. It will be time then for someone or something to stop it on the campaign trail, where is has shown at once a lethal effectiveness and an inability to get out of its own way. There is only one way to put The Machine down now; the ballot box, where all these things end up…eventually.

Vrooooooooooom. Vrooooooooom.

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THAT METAL SHOW ON THE RUN

Buzz
Aquarian Weekly
3/16/16

THAT METAL SHOW ON THE RUN
Eddie Trunk on The Fate & Fortune of His Beloved Cable Show

There is little debate among fans of That Metal Show. It is great. It is fun. It is geeky and loose and relatable and the hosts, Eddie Trunk, Don Jamieson and Jim Florentine are like buddies hanging at the bar arguing about the best thrash metal band or what guitar solo is the better or what live version of a song outdoes the studio version; important, life-affirming stuff. The interviews with the rock stars are intimate and disarming and have the air of same; hanging out talking hard rock and metal with the passion it deserves.three

This is why when a few months back, June to be exact, it was silenced, there was a hue and cry across the land. Its channel, VH1 Classic, owned by MTV Networks, did not renew its option, due in part to upheaval in upper management and the usual boardroom financial quarrels. The ratings were good. In fact, it far exceeded anything the network aired. It’s frugal, low-tech production, the only original content produced by the network, never wavered.  Yet, after 14 seasons, That Metal Show is no more and fans want to know why and what’s next?

The show’s brainchild and founder, Eddie Trunk comes clean in this exclusive interview with the Aquarian, and since Eddie was kind enough to read, rave about, my new book, Shout It Out Loud – The Story of KISS’s Destroyer and the Making of an American Icon and interview me for his Sirius XM coast-to-coast radio show this past October, I have drawn the assignment to get the scoop.

What happened? What’s happening?

Here are the highlights of our discussion on the matter and the latest from the That Metal Show front lines.

 

james campion: First off, how did this all go down?

 

Eddie Trunk: For fourteen seasons, every time we’d finish one the network has about ninety days to let us know if they plan to pick up the option to do another season. The ninety days lapsed in April and they said that there were some changes going on at the network, at many levels; executives that were big champions of the show and were responsible for getting them on the air were either dismissed or quit.

We were told that the show initially was going to be moved to another network with the same company. There were a lot of things we were originally told and then each time another phone call came it was basically, “We’re not going to do that. We’re not going to do that.” And then they basically just released us completely from our deals. It’s just restructuring. It’s nothing personal.

 

jc: Do you, Don, and Jim have your own production company? How did you work all that with VH1 Classic and how are you guys moving forward?

 

ET: VH1 produced and owns every episode of That Metal Show including the name.

 

However, what happened is our producer, Jeff Baumgardner, who produced every episode and worked for VH1, as part of his exit out of the network he was able to make a deal to get the name of the show. So he now actually controls the name of the show and it’s under his world now. So we have the ability, because Jeff is in our corner, very much wanting to continue to do the show, we have the ability to continue doing the show exactly how it was and use the name and all the same features. It’s just that when that’s done the network that decides to pick it up would have to make a deal with VH1 for it. But there is a deal in place, so it’s very easy to do. So we can continue the show. We can continue it under the name That Metal Show. It’s just some paper work that needs to be done for that to happen, but VH1 has given us their blessings to continue to look for a new home for the show and to allow it to still be called That Metal Show.

 

jc: So where are we now with all this?

 

ET: Well, my agent, Adam Leibner is representing me and also helping to place the show. He was a huge fan of the show for many years long before he represented me and he is in the process now of talking to various parties to see what the options are. And at this point we don’t know. It’s a very slow moving process and I understand that’s frustrating for the fans. Frustrating for us as well. I would love to bounce right back and be right back on, but it’s not that simple. And the TV landscape is extremely convoluted right now, because you have all the over the air networks but then you also have the emergence of Netflix and Amazon and all these streaming services, apps, and all these different things in the media world today. So every single avenue is being explored and weighed and discussed to see what’s out there and what makes the most sense.

 

jc: Is there something you would prefer that would allow you to do the things you didn’t have the budget to do or you would even attempt to do to expand the show, to have bands play or have more production value or whatever?

 

ET: Absolutely. How realistic it is, I don’t know, but I always have lofty goals and I always am looking to make everything I’m doing bigger and better and have more opportunities at every level no matter what I do. I would certainly love to record more episodes a year than we have. I’d love to include band performances. And I would certainly love to broaden it out. People may find this pretty hard to believe, but I never ever, ever, wanted the name “metal” in the name of the show. And that’s not because of the fact that, I mean, God my whole reputation is in that genre, so it’s nothing to do with that. It’s just that I wanted it to be a little broader based. I thought it would be important to lure in other sort of acts that might be alienated by that name and still keep it a rock show.getty

So we would like to take some chances and do some different things. We’d like to make it bigger and better. It’s just a question of finding a dance partner that’s up for that and wants to do it. And listen, the flipside of that could very well be where we have to go a little leaner and meaner.  We have to even strip some things away maybe depending on what the opportunity presented to us is. So, again, we are listening to everything and everybody and taking it all in. It’s being digested and I’ve got a guy that I trust to process all this and go through it and see what’s going to make the most sense. We just simply don’t know right now. Truly anything can happen. We just have to let the process play out.

 

jc: What’s your preference for how this plays out?

 

ET: My dream would be to be on HBO. The reason why I say that is because I would also love to be uncensored. I think that dealing with the people that we talk to, the stories and stuff that we could get that we wouldn’t have to censor would be incredible. Or obviously my dream would be to be on a network, but that’s a pretty lofty thing. But again I don’t rule out anything. Nobody does. It’s just a question of where is there traction? Where is there interest? It’s funny, James, because, and I get this from a fan’s standpoint because they’ve lived with this show for so long and they love it and it’s ingrained in them, and I greatly appreciate that; but the huge amount of fans that I hear from, they all say the same thing, “Well, just take it here.” “Just take it there.” “Just put it on there.” Like I can do that! (Laughs)

There’s going to be a very sizable audience that when we do announce a new home is going to immediately come there. And we hope that that’s a powerful enough thing to get some interest from a network, but I gotta be honest with you, man, I’ve always been a guy that I never get too high and I never get too low. So nothing would surprise me that could happen here. And, of course, I hope for all the best stuff, but I’m prepared for anything and I’m hoping it all works out. If it doesn’t, I’ll do something else. I’ll do something new. I developed this. I’ll develop something new hopefully.

 

jc: So you guys are keeping all options open.

 

ET: Sure. There’s a ton of those networks that are merging. And somebody just told me the other day there’s a channel called Esquire, which I didn’t even know I had that’s on my cable system. And there’s a bunch of these channels that people honestly don’t even know about that are out there. And it’s kind of like, “Ok wow. That could actually work. That could be a fit. What’s involved in making that happen?” And again there’s so many of them. A lot of people have said, “Access TV!” Well, sure. That would be a logical place, but they have to want to do the show. And listen, doing That Metal Show is not cheap. It’s cheap by big network standards, but the way we were doing it, it’s an investment. They have to feel that it works for them. We’re going to explore everything. Also, the other thing I run into is people yell out networks that they get on their cable systems. For everybody that’s yelling at me, “Access TV!” there is just everybody else, the next person that says, “Well I don’t get that channel, so don’t go there.” (Laughs)

jc: So, what can fans do that read this? Also, I’m sure a lot of the guys, the acts and some of the rock stars you’ve gotten to know that have been on the show probably want to be in your corner and write emails and make phone calls and back you. What do fans do en masse to get That Metal Show back on the air?

 

ET: Well, there really isn’t one at the moment. There is a couple of fan ones that have been set up. I know, Tim Louie at the Aquarian had one going for a while. I don’t know how many signatures at last count, which is all wonderful and really very flattering and really very nice. And it is certainly, certainly appreciated, but I’d be lying, and I just don’t want to waste anybody’s time to tell them that there is something we can do like that now. There isn’t really anything like that to do just yet that is really going to mean something in the big picture here. There may very well come a time that we do need that and I’ll be the first to let everybody know when, where, and how to help. But as it stands right now we really are still just in this exploring phase and I’ve seen a lot people email networks and I know that Netflix in particularly, Access TV, because those are two that come up all the time, have been tagged on tweets and what have you. That’s all great! And it’s appreciated. I don’t know how much it means to the networks. I don’t know what it means. I don’t know if it gets to anybody there. But it certainly can’t hurt, as long as it’s done in a respectful way.

 

jc: I’ve come to learn since my KISS book came out, that these bands have a strong cult following, as does your show.  Metal Heads do not fool around.

 

ET: Well, thanks, man. And you know we appreciate that and we’ve heard that from a lot of people, and again, I can’t stress enough; our one-hundred percent goal is to absolutely get it back on. And there is nobody anywhere that’s deviating right now from the plan of saying “Ok. What’s out there? How can we do this? What’s the best home? Where can we bring it?” It’s just going to take a little time. I know that everybody expected and wanted a quick answer and a quick bounce back, but we don’t have that just yet. It’s a process and it has all got to play out. And again I hope that it truly does. In the meantime, I would tell everybody that for fun, I mean, the show is still on VH1 Classic. They repeat episodes constantly throughout the week.

 

jc: You guys still do road shows and appearances, right?group

 

ET: Yeah. It’s very important for people to know what we do on the road is certainly not a taping of the TV show. But for years now we have been going out together, the three of us, and we go out to clubs and we tell stories, behind the scenes stories, and Don and Jim do standup, and I do some Q & A, and we do some live “Stump the Trunk.” And we just have fun with the audience in a bar setting. People come out, obviously they have some drinks, we give away prizes, and we have a good time. There are no cameras. Sometimes there are no guests. It’s just really us.

Another thing, people have said, “Hey just go do the show on the road.” That’s a little more involved then you would think. Again, it comes down to money. You’re talking crews and sets and hiring guests and musicians. That’s a big operation that again we don’t have that sort of funding available.

So we do kind of a lean and mean road show. We get out there, we have fun, we thank the people that have supported the show and it’s something that we’ll keep doing with or without the show on a new network. The three of us are all still great friends. We have a good time out there together. We’ll see where it goes. But I can’t stress enough my thanks to everybody for their support through this whole thing. And also, of course, that we hear ya’ and it isn’t as easy as saying, “Go here.”

 

jc: It’s an exciting time. Something will come of it. I just have a good feeling about it.

 

ET: You never know. And again; I don’t get too high, I don’t get too low. I just kind of let the process play out and nothing usually ever surprises me. So we’ll hope for the best and who knows, maybe somewhere in the not too distant future we’ll be doing an interview talking about a bigger, better new home.

 

 

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SIR GEORGE HENRY MARTIN – 1926 -2016

Aquarian Weekly
3/16/16

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

SIR GEORGE HENRY MARTIN – 1926 -2016

The Beatles: the cultural axis for a generation, whose music, style, language, and political impact was seismic, fueled by a hypnotic influence unrivaled in the pantheon of art. The Beatles invented a paradigm and then shifted it, over and over and over again. It is impossible to imagine there being a thing called rock and roll, arguably the most lasting global movement of the twentieth century, without it. Beside the four men who made up The Beatles; John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, there stand two others most responsible for this; Brain Epstein and George Martin. As manager and mentor, Epstein created the visual revolution that charmed a planet while Martin, as producer and creative Sherpa, did the heaviest lifting of all; he cajoled, conducted, re-imagined and realized the music that shook the very foundation of human spirit. He made songs, glorious songs; perhaps the best and most revered music of the modern age.

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You want to begin to comprehend George Martin’s genius and immense contribution too all this? Simply listen to the music. Do it now. Go ahead. You have heard it a million times, but do it with fresh ears and a pure heart. Deny it is not nostalgic and fresh, bold and endearing, an eruption of joy. I dare you. It is Mozart meets Chuck Berry meets Jackson Pollack meets Abby Hoffman meets vaudeville, theater, sock-hop and cathedral.

Then do yourself a huge favor and read Martin’s 1979 memoir, All You Need Is Ears, Here, There and Everywhere by Geoff Emerick, one of his partners in studio magic, and Mark Lewisohn’s brilliant and seminal, The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions.

I can write ten thousand words about George Martin. I may still do it. But for now I’ve asked some very talented friends from all ends of the music business to weigh in on his passing this week. But most of all, I needed to hear their musings on his wide-ranging influence. It is in the following words that the resonance of the man remains, as in every note he arranged, produced and then captured for posterity.

George Martin is the legacy of now. His lasting gift has no time or era; it continues, and will continue, as long as people can make the music wink.

Bob Ezrin, legendary producer of Alice Cooper, KISS, Lou Reed, Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel, Taylor Swift, Rod Stewart, Deep Purple and much more is a direct descendent of Martin’s elaborate studio creativity. Classically trained, as was Martin, Ezrin’s “thematic” and aural storytelling continues to expand the scope of rock music’s oeuvre.

“He is the father of the entire modern recorded music industry. It is his genius and imagination that changed the recording studio from a place for the rigid and faithful reproduction of live performance to an instrument of sublime creativity and endless possibility. He saw in recording the ability to tell stories and create worlds through music and sound using techniques created for radio drama – many by him personally. He extended the “stage” of recorded music past the four walls of the studio out into a whole new universe of sonic imagery. Though it all seems almost commonplace now, this was truly revolutionary stuff in his time. And all of us who tell stories in sound and music owe our craft mostly to him and the Beatles.

At the same time, he was the archetypal refined English Gentleman; a soft and well spoken, brilliant man of profound principle and respect for the world in which he lived. He was warm, humble, impish and imposing all at the same time. And he was, above all, ethical and totally genuine in his dealings with others. He earned his title in every way and I’m sure many called him “sir” even before he was knighted.

I have a funny George Martin story. So many of us do. But right now, as I head to the studio in the same way I have for decades, I can only think of him and his wonderful story, and of my profound gratitude for his historical life and work – and for the wonderful life and career that he (and the late, great Jack Richardson) made possible for me.

And the answer to your question about the making of KISS’s Destroyer without Martin’s influence: Absolutely not. We used the studio as an instrument during the making of Destroyer, trying hard to create a ‘cinematic’ experience for each song. No one even knew that was possible before we heard Beatles records.”

Jay Messina, legendary engineer/producer of Aerosmith, Patti Smith, Miles Davis, Peter Frampton, Krishna Das, Supertramp, Cheap Trick, Ravi Shankar, and more not only worked with ex-Beatles, but many of the artists directly impacted by Martin’s talents. Messina has and still works today with the bedrock laid down by the innovations of the Abby Road edict.

“I can only recall one time I had the honor to meet and work with him. It was to record Aerosmith, doing “Come Together” for the Sgt. Pepper’s movie. The thing that impressed me the most about him, besides his calm and peaceful aura, was that he really didn’t give Jack Douglas (producer/engineer of John Lennon, Aerosmith, New York Dolls, The Who, and more) or myself any particular direction other than to do what we usually do. I was impressed with the confidence he displayed, in himself, by just being able to sit back and observe the session as it unfolded. I miss him.”

Robert “Corky” Stasiak, legendary engineer/producer of Bruce Springsteen, John Lennon, The Raspberries, Jim Croce, KISS, The Clash, Alice Cooper, Lou Reed, and more came as close as anyone to a Lennon/McCartney reunion before it was curtailed by happenstance that led to Elton John recording the #1 hit, “Whatever Gets You Through the Night” for Lennon’s 1974 album, Walls and Bridges. Stasiak’s love and honor as the consummate sound engineer put to the test much of Martin’s best-loved techniques during the classic era of rock.

“My thoughts and prayers go out to George and his family. I am gutted by the news of his passing. We did three albums together (Neil Sedaka, Jimmy Webb) and I was lucky to have worked at his studio in Montserrat (Air). He was a great inspiration to me, and the music universe. It’s hard to imagine a world without this Gentleman, musical Genius among us any longer. Anyone who has ever met him knows exactly what I mean. Our loss is Heavens gain. Rest in peace, Sir George.”

“He is the father of the entire modern recorded music industry.”

David Thoener, multiple Grammy winner and legendary producer/engineer of Carlos Santana, John Mellencamp, Heart, Meatloaf, Bon Jovi, AC/DC, Willie Nelson, J. Geils Band, and more works the world over continuing to spread the international musical flavor of Martin’s work with the Beatles that introduced several and varied styles to the world.

“2016 has brought us the unfortunate passing of such amazing music talent. As a Baby Boomer I guess we can expect more reading that our heroes have died, but the passing of George Martin was a tremendous loss for all of us in the music industry. His contributions have touched millions and many who don’t even know how they were indirectly affected by his genius. My direction in life changed the day I heard The Beatles “Love Me Do”. It sounded like nothing I had heard before. I was instantly not only a fan of the Beatles but was curious how they created such an amazing sound. I was 12.

Moving forward to “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields” was transforming. At 15, I had decided my future; I was going to become a recording engineer and all, because George Martin changed my life forever. I had the opportunity to work with John Lennon in 1974, a memory I will never forget. 42 years later I am still making records, over 400 at this point. I have had a very satisfying journey through life and I owe it all to George Martin.
RIP, Mr. Martin.”

Rod O’Brien, engineer for Grand Funk Railroad, Edgar Winter, Blood Sweat & Tears, Talking Heads, Cindy Lauper, Patti Smith, Ozzy Osbourne has plied his trade in studios everywhere with every style of music, all of which has some connection to George Martin’s incredible body of work.

“I never met the man but like everyone in music I felt his influence and have the highest regard for all his work.”

Dan Bern, singer/songwriter/artist/author (albums include New American Language, Fleeting Days, Drifter, Breathe, among others, and books, World Cup, Quitting Science, 10,000 Crappy Songs) was and still is an avid Beatles freak. He speaks and writes adoringly about his time as a youth being awakened to the beauty and majesty of song through the recorded tapestry commandeered by George Martin. Dan’s hilarious tribute, “The Fifth Beatle” is one of his most beloved songs.

“George Martin did a great job producing Peter Sellers. And some other guys too. It’s hard to imagine The Beatles without George Martin. The Dave Clark 5 comes to mind. OK, that’s not fair. But the Beatles and George Martin went together like Muhammad Ali and Angelo Dundee, the Michael Jordan Bulls and Phil Jackson, Thomas Wolfe and Maxwell Perkins. OK, you get the idea. Three Beatles are gone and two are left. RIP, tall stodgy English man who talked like a schoolteacher and rocked like Amadeus.”

Eric Hutchinson, singer/songwriter/deejay (albums include Sounds Like This, Moving Up Living Down, Pure Fiction, Eric Hutchinson is Pretty Good, among others) is a songsmith and music nerd above all else. In the dozens of lunches and interviews we have had over the years not one failed to include some mention, deconstruction and celebration of Beatles music. We are still trying to formulate an increasingly difficult “Worst Beatles Songs Ever” list. How can we do it?

“Calling George Martin the 5th Beatle always felt a little too easy for me. To me, he was the father figure, the moral compass and the sophisticated class that made The Beatles come to life. Without a doubt his musical vernacular and knowledge enabled the group to grow and grow so quickly. Growing up, George Martin’s name was spoken in my house with the same reference as the president’s. He was that important.”

Nick Howard, singer/songwriter (albums include Something to Talk About, When the Lights Go Up, Stay Who You Are) and proud New Yorker by way of Britain, has carried on the Beatles tradition of pop sensibilities and a unifying message playfulness sometimes lost in today’s music environment.

“George Martin probably had a greater impact on popular music than any producer in history. Less we forget too that he SIGNED the Beatles when everyone else turned them down (something I remind myself of daily in my own quest for success)! In an age when bands and artists were signed on talent and not Instagram followers, he signed the best one of them all and allowed them to grow as men and musicians (to great effect!). To me he is a Beatle, and therefore has helped shaped my life in ways unimaginable.”

Eddie Trunk, radio and television personality, Megaforce Records executive, and author; (Trunk Nation, Sirius XM, That Metal Show, VH1 Classic – Books: Essential Hard Rock and Heavy Metal Volumes I and II) has seen the music business from every angle and as a learned and well-traveled music historian, his voice heralds the many ages of rock music which begins in earnest with the dedication to growth exhibited by George Martin throughout his decades-long career.

“As someone who works in the world of hard rock the influence of George Martin may seem like a stretch. But consider this; almost every single rock and metal artist I’ve ever interviewed sites The Beatles as their primary influence and clearly George Martin had a huge role in that. Let’s also not forget he also produced some great albums for bands like UFO, Cheap Trick and others. The man was simply a giant in the landscape of music in so many ways.”

Scott Shannon, legendary record promoter and radio personality and member of the National Radio Hall of Fame and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, watched the world turn upside down by the Beatles phenomenon and then turned its machinations into gold records for dozens of artists, not the least of which earning one of his own from Ringo Starr by breaking his 1974 hit, “No, No Song”.

“I really don’t have much to say that hasn’t been said by more important people than me. He was a genius and a gentleman.”

Ken Eustace, songwriter/producer; whose work with me as a recording artist lo those many years ago, had us scrambling to steal all of George Martin’s tricks with then modern equipment that dwarfed what the Beatles created masterpieces on. Hey, we tried.

“He was the context that gave meaning to Lennon/McCartney’s content.”

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