Billy has a new album – Andrew has a new book
By Dr Robert, The Beat’s US Correspondent
Hello from across the Great Divide! I hope your holiday season was merry, happy and bright and that your year (and all the years following) bring(s) you all the good that you desire, need and deserve!
Now, let’s see what’s happ’nin’.
I’ve been rehearsing and pre-producing a wonderful singer-songwriter-pianist by name of Jay Michael Weiner and we’ll be going into the studio end of January to lay down an EP full of his incredible tunes with the band I just put together for him (which includes yours truly on fretless bass).
I also plan to be writing more incredibly long sentences like the one I just wrote (and, in fact, the one I’m currently writing, although I didn’t realise it at the time I started it, just several seconds ago, although it seems closer to a minute by now) that seem to go on forever and may, or may not, ultimately contain anything of inherent value. So, enjoy.
I just got off the phone with my dear friend Billy J Kramer who’s excited to have just released the first single called “To Liverpool With Love” from his new album ‘I Won The Fight’. It’s a biographical rocker which he also wrote.
In addition to Billy’s sincere vocals and pleasing lyrics, the recordings feature some mighty cool guitar work, plus drummer extraordinaire, Liberty Devitto, who is a veteran of the Billy Joel Band. Billy J told me: “This album is dedicated to all my fans that’ve been following me all these years. I’ve written a number of the songs myself, and I’ve had these songs in me for a long time. The album also consists of some covers that I have always wanted to do. Recording these songs has been the most fun I’ve ever had in the studio, and I hope everyone listening to it has as much fun as I did!”
The album is scheduled to be released in mid-March, and the first single, To Liverpool with Love is available now in the iTunes store.
Andrew Loog Oldham has done it again! His latest tome, Stone Free, is just that – it’s not a book about his life with The Rolling Stones. It’s a book about his influences, heroes and mentors in what he lovingly refers to as “the Hustle” – following your passion, hoping it’s the public’s passion too and packaging it for their enjoyment (note, I mentioned nothing about exploiting it for the money. Neither does ALO.)
Among his influences and teachers (or, “pimpresarios,” as he lovingly terms them) of whom he writes are Albert Grossman, Larry Parnes, Brian Epstein, Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp, Lionel Bart, Allen Klein, Larry Brandt, Phil Spector and plethora others. He candidly discusses their personalities, management styles and more importantly, their individual styles pertaining to “the Hustle.”
He begins with a discussion on his mother Celia, and her paramour Alec Morris, Andrew’s two earliest influences in the pursuit of his dreams and the good life. In emails back and forth, Andrew differentiates between someone being an influence, and simply being influenced by action, words and results. He told me: “Brian Epstein did not influence me. I was never going to be influenced by someone of his background – it was not relevant to what I was about. I was informed by him. How could you not be? He pursued a recording contract for his lads, and that act changed all of our lives, not only for the better, but gave us a future. There should be a street named for Brian because his work for the Beatles gave us the street where we now all live. Not many fellows would have kept going after that New Year’s Day rejection from Decca.”
Andrew ruminates about heroes: “Everybody, when they are young, is entitled to heroes. It’s part of the fabric that develops us and prepares us for life. I mean, if you were growing up in Germany in the 20s, it would have been perfectly okay to have Adolf Hitler as a hero, as long as you were questioning him by 1932. I found my heroes on the walls of the tube trains – the film posters, and in the credits of the films I managed to see.”
From an early age there was something about the success and demeanour of certain people that attracted him: “Alec Morris, my mother’s fellow, and Diaghilev, came into my life at the very same time. Russians, Poles, Jews, Lithuanians (actor Laurence Harvey mostly known to The Beat readers for his portrayal of the manager Johnny Jackson in Wolf Mankowitz’s “Expresso Bongo”); I had no idea at the time about why I gravitated towards them. I was not made aware of my background. Mike Todd and Otto Preminger were two other great influences of the time.” Further, “Phil Spector was an influence, whereas Allen Klein had a big influence on my life. There is a difference.”
Now, truth be told, my Kindle says I’m only 36% into this wonderfully informative and entertaining book. I’m writing about it only 1/3 in because I want to get this column to my editor in time to go to print so you can get this book ASAP.
But if Stone Free is this fulfilling this early on, I’m certainly looking forward to slowing down and devouring the remainder in a more literary gourmand-style; that is to say, slowly, so I can savour it.
Ever since the good David O Parker, publisher and editor of this fine mag, asked me if I wanted to interview Andrew for my column (“wait – let me think about it for a minute – OK!”), ALO and I have become “email pals” of sorts, much to my amazement and extreme enjoyment. He is a bright and worldly man who is endlessly wise and entertaining. I’m afraid my poor attempt at really interviewing him didn’t do the man justice at all. But Stone Free certainly does.
Andrew’s a delicious writer and this book, like his others, is hard to put down once started.
It’s truly a “don’t miss” effort, more than worth the price of admission. If you missed being in the heart of things in the “Swinging London” of the 60s, or if you were there, and you simply miss it, this book will take you there, and some. The book is populated with a ‘who’s who’ of 60s London rock and social aristocrats.
I got my copy on Amazon for my Kindle. And never let it be said that this columnist can be bought with free books and other bribes. However, if that interests you, please email me at Doc_of_Rock@comcast.net and I will provide you with my mailing address and/or Paypal information for direct deposits… All that said, tongue firmly planted in (my own) cheek, STONE FREE is a wonderful read, especially if you’re interested in what made the clock of the 60s rock tick.
It doesn’t get more inside or more honest than Andrew’s book(s). Enjoy! And while you’re at it, be sure to check out STONED and STONED2.
And enjoy I Love Liverpool from Billy J. Kramer, too!
Well, that’s all for this month, my friends. And remember, if anything’s troubling you: “FAHGEDDABOUDDIT!!!”
© 2013 Robert Z. Rush DC