YOU SHOULD WRITE A BOOK!

How many times have I heard that over the years? Especially from my wife, who would love to see something I write pay for the mortgage instead of the gas bill.

But no, I’ve always said, I’ve been a minor player compared to so many, next to so many I know, even. My little stories don’t add up to much.

There’s Stephen K. Peeples, who slipped into a writing job I had a chance for at Record World magazine in 1979, and parlayed it into fame and (ha!) fortune with gigs at Capitol, Elektra and Rhino, among others, winding up with gold records on his wall and interviews, hangouts and photos with rock and roll legends from Little Richard to Mel Brooks to Willie. He even has a photograph seated at John Lennon’s white “Imagine” piano at the Dakota.

Stephen threw me some good freelance work when I really needed it (interviewed Carl Wilson at Mr. Chow’s in Beverly Hills) and later I was able to throw some work his way too. But I grabbed, on my own, the best Beach Boys connection when I interviewed Brian Wilson on the eve of the release of his first solo album ever, in 1988. It was only the second interview granted, after the illustrious biographer Timothy White interviewed him for New York Magazine.

BRIAN WILSON

Was quite mentally unstable at that time and my interview became a two-month odyssey winding from Warner/Reprise Records legendary president Lenny Waronker’s office (give me a job, Lenny! — he didn’t) to a sitdown with Brian’s notorious shrink Eugene Landy, before I could even begin to make sense of it and write it. It ran 16 pages and not a word was cut, in underground music mag Contrast. Santa Monica music producer/UCLA lecturer/world authority on the Beach Boys David Leaf (a little-known legend himself) was instrumental in helping me, and we have remained friends ever since. Maybe the most precious praise I ever got for writing was when Leaf told me his dear wife Eva, who read every word ever written about Brian, told him she thought mine was the very best.

When I once met the really interesting musician-composer Van Dyke Parks, because my wife spotted him at Musso & Frank’s and she had worked with him, we had his collaborations with Brian to chat knowledgeably about.

THERE’S WILL RYAN

— award-winning voiceover actor (Petrie in The Land Before Time, Teddy Ruxpin’s buddy Grubby, Willie the Giant, Pete and the Big Bad Wolf in Mickey’s Christmas Carol, Seahorse in The Little Mermaid) who performs with his entertaining, unique Cactus County Cowboys band (Western, but not Country), as half of the vaudeville act Biffle & Shooster, and was once half of Willio & Phillio out of Cleveland, with novelty hits (“I Hate People/I Love People”) played throughout the known universe by

DR. DEMENTO

I interviewed the good Dr. in his large valley home absolutely stuffed with records — 250,000 at that time. My collection of 7,000 LPs seemed paltry after that.

Will loves the Old Hollywood and has tons of tales about oldtimers he’s spent time with, musicians and actors, hearing their stories. (HE should write a book.) The recently departed Ian Whitcomb (“You Really Turn Me On”) was a good friend of Will’s and I hung out with him a few times, when my wife and/or daughter were performing with him and Will.

LA WEEKLY, EARLY ‘80S

There was a wild ride. My first two Music Editors there, when I moved here from Albuquerque in 1980, were amazing writers and music gurus: first Bill Bentley, one of the six founding “Texas Mafia” crack writers roped in by founder Jay Levin, he then climbed the music executive ladder while easily maintaining his good guy relationships with musicians. He was followed by Rolling Stone senior editor Mikal Gilmore (“Shot in the Heart,” a memoir about his brother Gary Gilmore, executed by firing squad in 1977 for a murder spree). I then moved from starving music contributor to handling the big bucks nightclub advertising there from 1981-84, and boy howdy, those stories. I had access to pretty much every club and show in town. One of my club owner clients was legally named Filthy McNasty, and Elvis came to his club because they shared a birthday. Several of my clients went to prison — yes, it was hard to get them to pay up, sometimes — one for murder.

LA NIGHTHAWKS

Then I went to Guitar Center to run their new publication alongside editor Jeff Silberman, and when that quickly fell apart, despite their subscription list of almost every musician you could name, I started my own niche tour service, LA NightHawks, taking you by limo to the best live music shows in town, no matter what night or what your tastes were. I dug it out, all over far-flung Los Angeles.

One of my best moments was when I took a quiet but passionate jazz fan from Japan to see one of my favorites, tenor sax maestro Teddy Edwards, and I saw a tear run down my client’s cheek as he listened, enraptured. “Would you like to meet him?” I asked in between sets, and Edwards unhesitatingly joined us and was a gracious Southern gentleman. I know that story went all over Japan.

THERE’S MORE

Lots more. Interesting, I suppose, if you are really into music. I didn’t travel with Bob Marley like my friend Roger Steffens, or produce shows for Jon Bon Jovi like my friend Michael Blum, nor can I relate with such laid-back immediacy all the badass music legend encounters that my friend Mike Bone (another SM legend) occasionally unleashes on social media. (Damn I hate people who aren’t writers who can write circles around me.)

But I recently had a conversation along these lines with my friend Susan Hayden, poet and founder of the outstanding Library Girl series at the Ruskin Group Theater at the airport (just finished honoring the great Charles Bukowski of San Pedro, still online), and she said she has been urging her new husband, acclaimed music journalist Steve Hochman, to do the same. “Your stories are your stories and no one else has them,” she reminded me. OK Steve, who’s going to make the first move?

NICOLE RECOMMENDS:

LISTEN TO “THE FORGOTTEN STORY OF HOW HAWAIIANS TRANSFORMED AMERICAN MUSIC” — Offshore is an immersive storytelling podcast that focuses on the often overlooked stories of the Hawaiian diaspora, or, in their words, “a Hawaii most tourists never see.” Season 4 Episode 4: On The Road tells the story of Joseph Kekuku (born Joseph Kekuku Pena Kana’i Aupuni O’Kamehameha), the man credited with inventing the steel guitar. The sound of this instrument is indisputably an integral element of Hawaiian music, but have you thought about how immense its contribution has been to the sound of blues, rock and country? I won’t attempt to over explain the podcast. Just have a listen (the episode is 25 minutes) or read the accompanying article, and learn something you didn’t know before! — Link to article and podcast: https://www.civilbeat.org/2020/06/the-forgotten-story-of-how-hawaiians-transformed-american-music/

Charles Andrews has listened to a lot of music of all kinds, including more than 2,500 live shows. He has lived in Santa Monica for 34 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at therealmrmusic@gmail.com