Monday, August 5, 2019


Hi Everyone - Couple of things...

On the Big Star front, if you haven't checked out the Kickstarter page for the Alex Chilton documentary in the works, you'll want to do so immediately.  The director is posting some very cool footage and you'll have the opportunity to contribute to help bring this project to fruition. (Note: I've donated my interview tapes for my book to be used however possible.) 

On the Springsteen front, the 33 1/3 B-Sides anthology is slated to be published early in September. One interesting twist for this book is that readers will be able to vote for the chapter that they would most like to see become a full-blown 33 1/3 book and the winner will be offered a contract. One of the parameters for B-Sides is that we were held to a strictly-enforced word count (2500). My first draft was nearly triple that in length – and I was trying to be concise!  But writing about an essential chapter in the development of a major artist raised that to date has gone undocumented raised all sorts of questions / observations about how much the music business has changed since the early 1970s.  Suffice it to say, if a young performer of Springsteen's level of skill and talent came along today, he or she wouldn't have to scuffle for years to get noticed. It was indeed a weird feeling to walk out of a Springsteen concert feeling like you'd just seen one of the greatest performers on the planet and realize that beyond a small (but quickly growing by word-of-mouth) group of fans, no one had even heard of him.  

Once the book is published I'll expand on some of my observations but here's a small one.  When you go to concerts today, it's the norm to see racks of guitars in the wings – almost like a mini-Guitar Center.  Some guitarists swap out guitars almost every song.  Even up-and-comer bands usually have back-up guitars for the back-up guitars.  But when Bruce toured in late 1974, he travelled with one guitar.  That's it. When he broke a string, he replaced it on stage while Clarence sang a song (Gimme That Wine in the case of Geneva). But those were the days when even the biggest bands in the world (The Who, Led Zeppelin etc.) used minimalist stage set-ups. Amps and drums on the stage floor (LZ might have added a riser later on I thing). Some monitors. Simple lighting (certainly by today's standards). Minimal, if any tricks like pyro. It all came down to what was coming out of the speakers. You sank or swam with the music and if you were drowning, there was no second stage you could magically fly via a harness / rigging to escape to / distract the audience.  As much as I don't really connect to Ed Shearan's music (and at my age I imagine I'm not really his target audience), I'm a bit fascinated by the fact that a guy with just an acoustic guitar and a few foot pedals can perform to 80,00 people. 

Thursday, January 10, 2019

As promised, here's a link to my interview with Rich Tupica, author of the outstanding Chris Bell bio, There Was A Light, for the Please Kill Me blog. As I noted earlier, this is really a must-have book if you're a Big Star fan. Check out the interview and then order the book from the publisher (HoZac) or Amazon.  

Thursday, December 20, 2018


Hi Everyone or Anyone who is still out there...

I've been on an extended medical adventure (bone marrow transplant etc.) but am back in the swing of things.  There will be some upcoming posts about Big Star and also Bruce Springsteen in the very near future so stay tuned.

In the meantime, if you're a Big Star fan, the new Chris Bell biography - There Was A Light by Rich Tupica - is an absolute must-buy.  A fantastic look at Chris and Big Star with lots of new interviews and graphics / photos.  I'll be announcing a major interview I did with Rich on a well-known music website shortly.  But buy the book for yourself as a Christmas present.  You'll be glad you did.  It's available from Amazon and the publisher (HolZac).  

In the meantime, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  More to come soon...

Friday, October 11, 2013

Those of you who have read the book or strolled through the back pages hear know of Peter LaBonne, a singularly unique artist who Alex really dug (he once told me that if he recorded an album of Peter's songs he would have his first million seller).  Peter lives deep in the Adirondack mountains and rarely performs although his recorded output is immense.  He recently performed in Troy NY.  Here's an on-the-scene report by Chandler Travis - he being a cult artist with a rather significant following in the New England region (Incredible Casuals, Chandler Travis Orchestra).  Chandler put out the only CD by Pete that captures his element to a significant degree (Meditation Garden on Sonic Trout - pretty easy to find a used copy online).  Here's a link to  Chandler's includes some live footage...
Pete LaBonne live

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

July 2, 2013

So where did the year go?  Two words: sandwich generation.  And no, it has nothing to do with swiss cheese and ham.

As most of you know, Nothing Can Hurt Me: The Big Star Story goes into general release this week. I saw the movie in Rochester NY last month and was just knocked out.  The filmmakers have done a fantastic job telling the Big Star story and that wasn't an easy task.  However many hats I own, I take them all off to Drew, Olivia, and Danielle.

For starters, you could readily divide people who will see the movie into two groups: rabid Big Star fans who know the story and a lot of the detail and viewers who at best might have a thumbnail sketch of the story, if that.  It's like when I tell music fans I wrote a book about Big Star...some will light up and be super-enthusiastic and some will just give me a quizzical look and I know I have to go into my brief (and well-rehearsed by now) explanation. But you could watch NCHM from either perspective and be really enthralled by the film.  For a Big Star fan, it's heaven on celluloid.  For an intelligent person who likes an interesting tale of art, commerce, and interesting people, it's very compelling, even if you've never heard a note of Big Star.

Then there's the matter of there being no live footage of the band from the 70s.  And then add in the fact that neither Chris nor Alex were interviewed on camera (Chris for obvious reasons.  The directors had extended conversations with  Alex before he passed away before anything was resolved. I donated tapes of my interviews with Alex for my book to the directors and you'll hear a few snippets in the film.)

So whether the film is playing in a theater near you or you watch it on iTunes (available July 5th), your holiday week isn't complete without seeing the film.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Okay...I'm back.  And glad to be back.  I'll be catching you up on some things in the days ahead, but first something of importance on this day of June 26...the 33rd anniversary of the day I met Alex and we played the epic show at McVan's described in the book.

If you haven't checked out the Kickstarter  page for the forthcoming Big Star documentary, please do so immediately.   There are only 41 hours left for you to help with the completion of the movie and get some really cool BS swag in the process.  I've spent some time with the filmmakers and am completely confident that this is going to be a rock doc that goes far beyond the typical story of a band.  So click on the link below and get started.

Nothing Can Hurt Me

More soon...

Monday, August 1, 2011

Trying to stay cool...

If you haven't checked it out, go to the Ardent site and get a copy of the new EP from the Big Star tribute in Memphis last year with John Davis from Superdrag. John's performances came early in the show but they set the bar high and were never topped despite the strong talent that followed. My good friend and esteemed critic Parke Puterbaugh was with me at the show and agreed with that opinion. Shortly after the weekend I emailed John Fry and suggested that John Davis , Jody, Ken, and Jon do some recording with the legendary Fry behind the board. Probably will never happen but this will give you a taste of what could be...

I recently "discovered" Dom Mariani (DM3), an power pop titan from Australia. These are some of the things you miss when you're raising a kid, working, and looking after aging parents. His song "Just Like Nancy" is absolutely killer and the original version would be worthy of Radio City if only he'd taken the time to write a great bridge for the song. Regardless, it's been at the very top of my playlist this summer.

Next week I'm going to see Bob Dylan and Leon Russell. In the latter half of 1971, that would probably have been my dream concert (along with a double bill of The Who and Jethro Tull). I was (and have remained) a huge Dylan fan but had no hope at the time of ever seeing him live (have since seen him many many times). On the other hand, I'd just seen Leon Russell in a converted bowling alley in Buffalo NY with Freddie King opening. It was about a week after the Concert for Bangladesh and Leon just killed the place. I remember walking out of this low-ceilinged sweat box with my Levi's soaked through. So 40 years later I get my wish. From what I've been able to tell, the return of Charlie Sexton has given Bob a much needed jolt (the band after Charlie and Larry Campbell left was mundane to say the least) and there's some new dimensions to his performance (more singing at the mike with no instrument). Regardless, I regard seeing Dylan as I did seeing Miles Davis. You should feel fortunate just to be in the same space with him for a few hours.

A reader inquired about my reference to Austrian economics giant Ludwig Von Mises in a recent post. Yes, in October of 1970 (I was a freshman in college) I attended a conference where I got to hear Von Mises speak in a small conference room to about 30 people. It made a huge impression. He talked about the need to have a national currency maintain a consistent value i.e no inflation of deflation. As I recall, he held up a ruler and essentially said that if a foot didn't maintain a consistent value of distance, every building would eventually collapse. And if a dollar (pound / mark / whatever) didn't maintain a consistent value, it too would eventually collapse. Not exactly rock and roll, but heavy none the less...