Rock Chronicles. 1970s: Nicky Hopkins

artist: Nicky Hopkins date: 01/12/2008 category: rock chronicles
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Rock Chronicles. 1970s: Nicky Hopkins
When: 1979 Where: San Fernando Valley, California (Probably held at his manger's office) What: This is one of my most prized interviews. Nicky was that connecting piece amongst so many of the great English bands. He played piano for Jeff Beck, The Kinks, The Who, The Rolling Stones, and a lot of other important groups. He was also an important part of the West Coast Summer Of Love artist explosion, having performed with Steve Miller, Jefferson Airplane, and Quicksilver Messenger Service. He was so quiet and so self-effacing, he was almost invisible. He had just released an album called Night and he was pretty happy with it. About 15 years later, on September 6, 1994, Nicholas Christian Hopkins would pass away. To this day, I don't believe he's ever truly received his just kudos. But this interview reveals much about who he was as a musician and as a human being. He was truly a critical cog in the music machine. Should we start with some of your background? It goes a little ways back so wherever you'd like to start. I started doing sessions in '65. (One of the first sessions I did was) quite an unusual session. Glyn Johns was producing, and Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck were on the session. Glyn liked what I did and put me in touch with a lot of other people. The first person he put me in touch with was Shel Talmy, who did the early Kinks, and Who sessions. From then it just kind of spread by word of mouth until about a year later I was just working full time. What was that session that you did with Beck and Page? It did come out funny enough. It was for a guy, it was for a singer. We did two cuts and then there was a half an hour to spare. So Page, who did had something to do with it, said, If you guys want to jam for a half an hour, we can put it down on tape. So we just let the tape roll, we did about five or six things. Page kept promising to get us a master tape - we never got one. About three years later, it was about the end of '68, I was in New York on the first tour with Jeff Beck. I walked into this record store, I think it was Colony Records on Broadway, and I saw this album and the whole of side one was that jam. It said Nicky Hopkins All Stars and Jeff Beck All Stars. It had things like Piano Shuffle and a few things. But it shouldn't have ever been released. Thinking back on it now, it was quite good that they were. Were you aware of people like Page and Beck at the sessions? Did you realize what kind of musicians you were dealing with? What kind of a level? Yeah, I knew who they were. I looked at Jeff Beck and he was standing in the corner and I thought it was Jagger because I hadn't seen Mick for about three years. And they really look alike. From that point, I think he was trying to look like him because he had the same striped sweater on that Jagger always used to wear in the early days. Same hairstyle and the same kind of pouty lips and everything. As soon as I set eyes on him I thought it was Mick, and then five seconds later I realized it wasn't. Had you been involved in bands or local things before you started doing sessions? Yeah, I had been with local bands from '60 to '63. How old were you when you first started playing piano? Three. Was piano the first instrument you started out? Yeah, but it was the only one. I never did pick up any other instrument. Just other keyboard instruments and that was it. I had a guitar when I was nine and I tried learning it. I never had any lessons. I started to figure out a few things, but then I'd get frustrated and I'd just go over to the piano and play what I was trying to play on the guitar. So I never did persevere with it. Were you listening to records and other keyboard players and things like that? Not at that point. A little later on. I started really listening to what was going on when I was about 15 or 16. I got into Jerry Lee Lewis records, Little Richard records. Actually the earliest one was Fats Domino. In fact, I think that was only the first or second record I bought in my life was Little Richard's Long, Tall Sally, which in England was backed with Tutti Frutti. So at that point, there weren't an abundance of keyboards to choose from? No, there weren't. Oh God, it was so hard to amplify a piano then. It was almost impossible. You had to place a mic in the top of the piano and hope for the best. And maybe one out of 30 pianos would be - almost a freak thing that it would actually work. I remember about 1962 I went to see Jerry Lee Lewis come over on tour with his second tour of England. I wasn't really aware of him in '57. But in '62 I started listening to a few things. I went up to Birmingham, it was about a couple of hundred miles drive, which is a long way in those days, to see him. I couldn't believe it! He came on stage, and the volume and the clarity that came out of the piano was just incredible. And I went backstage and met him, and I was talking with him. He and his road manager showed me the set up and it was just a little contact mic on the soundboard, which I had never even thought of before - going through a Fender amp, which gave them the treble. So the first thing I did was save up for a Fender amp and got a contact mic, which I got in about a month or two. And that was it. I had it. Up to that point, was it just sticking the mic inside? Yeah, which as I said, occasionally would work, but not very often. What kind of pianos were you playing in those very early days? Some of the most hilarious pianos I'd ever set eyes on. It was strings missing and hammers broken. One piano, the worst one I ever played on - and this is no exaggeration - the bottom third of the piano was the only part of the piano that worked. Forget the other two thirds! There wasn't one note that worked. Just a few vaguely, vaguely in tune thuds would come out of the bass end. So things have improved since then. Getting back to Jeff, that was your first introduction to him at that session? Yeah, that was. Had you gone to see him play previously? You must have been aware of what he was doing? Not really, no. I was aware of what he was doing from a year and a half of reading all the music papers that we get in London. Plus seeing him on TV and things. Later, you actually became part of the Jeff Beck Group? Yeah, yeah he did (want me to play with him). I'm not sure how it developed. Somehow or another, I guess it was from doing a bunch of sessions, although none of them were for the Yardbirds. But I think Beck was on a few of the sessions that I did. It must have been, although I can't remember it apart from that first one. And a couple of times, two or three times, he wanted me to go down to The Marquee and sit in with the band, which I did and it was nice. Then he did the Truth album, which I did with him, but again that was as a session. I was still not part of the band then. So I did his first tour in probably June, July of '68. He started off the whole beginning of the tour at the bottom of the barrel. He was opening. And the album just soared up the charts with the result of the next tour. It went over so well. And I read the reports in the papers and when he got back he wanted me to do his second tour with him. And at that point I said, Okay, well several bands have asked me to join them and do tours of the States before. But I was so locked into the session thing, which I really enjoyed. But then it just began to be really too much. So I said, The next person who asks me to join, I'm going to join. As it happened, it was a choice between two bands. And Jimmy Page asked me to join his new band that was just forming and it was going to be called The New Yardbirds. And at the same time, Beck asked me to join. Decision time. They were both managed by Peter Grant and Peter couldn't sway me one way or the other. He said, That's up to you to make a choice, I know. So I thought, Well, New YardbirdsThat sounds a bit shitty. So I thought, Beck has done his first tour, Page has got a new band that hasn't been tried out. At least Beck has already done one tour, which was really popular. So I chose Beck. And the first tour was good. We did the Beck-Ola album. But then unfortunately, he canceled out of - it was definitely two, it might have been three tours. We'd get halfway through the tour and wake up in New York or some other city and, Where's Beck? Oh, I haven't seen him around. We'd get a phone call and he'd be back in England! He'd fucking fly back in the night without telling anybody. It was weird. It was just impossible to deal with him anymore? Well, it just got to be a bit daft. The canceling out of tours plus non-payment for doing the tours. Does he still owe you money? Yeah! Yeah, but that's water under the bridge. It's all forgotten about years ago. What kind of equipment were you using with him? I was still using acoustic piano with a contact mic. I tell you what I did use that was the first step up from that was when I was with Quicksilver (Messenger service) from '69 to '70. I guess it would have been about 1970 and we were out on the road. And this guy Kyle Countryman together with Dan. Dan was working with us. Somebody else might have been involved - Doug Maguire, I think. It was either two or three of them that worked on this pickup. It was really designed for me. So we tested it and it was the first Countryman pickup that had ever been made. It was great. We got so much volume out of it. The only disadvantage being that it had incredible grounding problems like this hellish buzz that was very difficult to get rid of. We just had a sheet of wire mesh that went across the entire pickup. That would work provided there were grounding facilities, but in those days there weren't. But that was just amazing to get that much volume and clarity. So with Beck you never played organ at all? Uh-uh. No, we used a Wurlitzer, an electric piano for maybe two or three numbers and that was about it. Was Beck-Ola just a Wurlitzer also? No, Beck-Ola was just acoustic. What did you used to run the piano through? What kind of amps? I think we just ran it through the Marshall. Because I remember seeing some picture of you playing at the Shrine in Los Angeles on those early Beck tours and there's just a bunch of Marshalls behind you. That was a funny gig because that was the only gig on the tour where I played an upright piano. I wasn't quite expecting that. Somebody slipped up. Every gig, it was in the write-up contract that it had to be a six-foot-six Yamaha or Steinway. Which there was at every gig except that one. I remember that. That was the first gig I did on the West Coast in my life. Also the first time I went to the West Coast. It was in December '68. I never thought I'd end up living there.
"I never did pick up any other instrument. Just other keyboard instruments and that was it."
Could you be heard at all on a show with Beck playing? Yeah, although when I first started using a contact mic it was loud enough. Then by the time I joined Beck, October of '68 I started with him, the general volume of everything else with much bigger amps had gone up. We couldn't get the contact mic On the records, there is some real nice piano playing. Was this stuff that you suggested or did Jeff have ideas? On the Beck records? Yeah, that's pretty much my parts, which is the way I do all my recording anyway. Or most of it. Anything I've done with bands was just my ideas. In the studio stuff, did you hear something and suggest, Let's try this? I'd probably just play it. Did you like doing the two Beck albums? Yeah. The second one was done in about 11 days as far as I remember; Beck-Ola was done very quickly. I remember we didn't have any material for the album. There was kind of a weird apology on the album, which I thought shouldn't have been on there. I thought it was a good album. I think what they put on the album might have affected sales or something. (Note: This is the Beck-written liner copy that appeared on the album's rear cover: "Today, with all the hard competition in the music business, it's almost impossible to come up with anything totally original. So we haven't. However, this disc was made with the accent on heavy music. So sit back and listen and try and decide if you can find a small place in your heads for it.) You think so? Yeah. It is just copping out saying, Well, this isn't a great album, but dig it for what it is or something. At a time when everyone is coming up with original material and original music or something. So we haven't. And I looked at it, I can't believe this. This is weird. God, what's anybody looking at that gonna think? I put it back in the rack. Blues Deluxe was done in the studio? Uh-huh. Yeah. It really does sound live, too. Mickie Most did an excellent job of putting an applause in, like an audience, you know, crowds. It's great. Was Mickie Most a big part of those albums? Jeff says that he was off to France and things when the thing was being done, that it was really a lot of Jeff's ideas and personal vision. (Note: Mickie Most passed away on May 30, 2003. He was 64 years old). I think basically that's pretty true. Yeah, because Mickie didn't do the usual bit of trying to arrange everything. He let everybody have pretty much a free reign. So his involvement was maybe suggesting the songs or whatever. And I'm not even so sure that he did that. So his involvement would have been in producing what Beck and everybody else wanted to do and not trying to change or rearrange everything. The Girl From Mill Valley was that something you wanted to do? And Jeff agreed obviously? Yeah. He loved it. He played some nice guitars, actually. It was pretty subtle, understated. Were you on the track, Beck's Bolero? Yeah. And that was done in '67 and it was the B-side, as far as I remember, of a song called Hi-Ho Silver Lining, which is kind of a commercial attempt. Beck's Bolero was great because Page was on it and Beck and myself and Keith Moon. Jesus, Keith played just incredible. I remember he went nuts at the end and smashed his drumstick into the mic. Just smashed it! It was just funny, it was just funny the way he did it. Was John Paul Jones on there playing bass? Yeah, I think - yes, he was. That's right. In fact, I think you just jogged my memory. I think that was the first thing. That was how I became really involved with Beck! It was that session, which I had just completely forgotten about. Yeah, good one! The memory jogger strikes again! Aynsley Dunbar, he was just with Jeff for a short while. Do you know anything about that? I believe that was before me. Yeah, it was. I don't remember too much about that. I don't remember seeing the band when he actually was with him. All I remember was that Beck told me that there had been an incredible change in drummers throughout the band's existence. Because when I joined, it was Micky Waller who was drumming and then they brought Tony Newman in. Tony's funny! I saw Tony in Nashville on the tour this year. Did you really? What he's doing? He's doing a lot of session work. He's real busy. We went to Nashville twice. There was a spell for about two and a half weeks that we were doing club gigs. We did some club gigs, which was good in getting us that much tighter than we were. Which wouldn't have happened if we'd have just carried on doing the huge arenas and things. But Tony turned up there. I couldn't believe it because I had been trying to phone him. And then he just turns up when we're doing a sound check at a club. I look down and there's huge face beaming up. God, we've had some laughs over the years with him. He's a good drummer. Yeah, excellent. He's such a funny guy, too. He's great. So your first taste of America was with Jeff then? Yeah. Jeff always says that he's the one that introduced you to America. He said that's how you got really intrigued by the West Coast? Is that what he said? Yeah. I think that's pretty true, too. He realized after that it was just kind of a lost cause and you lost interest. Because you were seeing what was happening here and you really got involved in that. Yeah, I did. But I didn't get disinterested in what was going on. Disinterested, uninterested, let's just say I didn't get uninterested. I didn't lose interest, let's put in that way, of what was going on with Beck in so far as the music was concerned. But I did lose interest as far as all the bullshit was concerned. Would he used to do things like not show up for shows or be late for shows? I don't think so. It was just two or three times he split from the tour, went to England, and didn't come back. And there were dates coming? Yeah, I mean this would be halfway through a four- or six-week tour! In fact, we nearly all got into very serious trouble with the American Union. We had to do a special 10-day tour for the States of May of '69. And I don't know who arranged the dates - they were good dates - we did the tour thank God. It was the Union who told us that if we didn't do this tour that they insisted we do to make up because a lot of the promoters, quite naturally, were up in arms about the whole thing. They got a hold of the Union and the Union stepped in and said, Right, if you don't do this tour that's set up, then none of you will ever be allowed to come into the country to play ever again. I thought, God, I hope you've got enough sense to not cop out of this tour. He did have that much, thank God, and we did the tour. But things, even after that, things just didn't get any better. For months I'd been hearing, Oh, the money will be through next week, the account is still doing the books. And this is from the October to December tour and it's already June! There must have been some great shows, though. Oh yeah. I know '68 the year that I started to smoke grass. And it was during that tour that I started to smoke grass. The last gig we did, we did four days at the Fillmore West in San Francisco. My God, there was some guy backstage, I don't know whether it was Garcia or whether it was somebody who looked like him. It was certainly somebody who looked liked Jerry Garcia kept passing me these enormous joints. I said, No! Go on, have some more! By the time we got onstage, by about halfway through it, Beck was doing a solo and I just put my head down on the piano and went to sleep. One of the road managers came over and said, Nicky, wake up! I woke up and carried on with the set. I smoked so much grass, it was incredible. Was being San Francisco around that time pretty exhilarating? Oh yeah. I totally fell in love with the place when I saw it. Then I was going out with this girl who lived in Mill Valley and she took me out to Mill Valley. I just couldn't believe it. It's just a magical place. Was that the girl you wrote the song about? No. That's not true. Yes, it was. So did you meet up with any of the Quicksilver Messenger Service guys when you were over here or did that come later? Actually it was 10 days after I left Beck. I left him on June 4. About two or three days later, I was doing a Stones session in London and I got a phone call from Steve Miller, who I met very briefly. I did one track, it was just an overdub. And Miller was there and they were mixing the Brave New World album and there was one track that hadn't been mixed. So it was about four o'clock in the morning and Miller said, Could you play the piano on it? So I played the piano on it. And then a couple of days later I left Beck and got this phone call at the studio to ask me if I could come over on the 14th to work on the new album. So I said, Sure. So I went over on the 14th. Glen was already in San Francisco. I worked at Wally Heider's for about two or three weeks. Then during the sessions, John Cipollina and David Freiberg came up to the studio and I had not met either before. They introduced themselves and said, Listen, we're going to be in the studio as soon as Miller's finished. They were short one person. It was down to a three-piece. It was just down to John, David, and Greg Elmore on drums, because Gary Duncan had left earlier in the year. And I said, Sure. It gave me a good excuse to stay there because I was totally in love with the place. And the clincher was that I could stay at John's place in Mill Valley. And one thing led to another. The album took longer than I would do.
"I know '68 the year that I started to smoke grass."
What album was that? Shady Grove. And so I stayed with John and his old lady. It was just great and I ended up joining the band. I stayed for about a year. And it was almost another year after I even left all this before I went back to England at all. So what was supposedly a two- or three-week visit turned into almost two years, during which time I got married, applied for a green card and everything. What kind of equipment were you using in Quicksilver? That was when we started using the Countryman pickup, which as I said, is such an incredible step up. Did you play organ? No, I never did play organ onstage. To this day, you still really never do? Nope. No, I don't. See, that a whole other technique, playing organ. I've never owned an organ. I've played an organ in sessions, sure. I can handle it if it's just chord and stuff, but if it's real lead playing, that I couldn't do. I suppose if I sat down and really worked with it, but I've never had the incentive to do that - or the interest, really. Do you think it's more or less difficult than piano? Or is it just different? It's not more difficult, it's just a totally way of playing. The tone, the sustain, the tags, and the settings. And if I did learn it, I would learn foot pedals. I think maybe one day I'll probably do it. Maybe when there's some time. The thing I do want to get into next is synthesizers, which also I've put off for so long. But I'm going to get into that. So you've really never even ventured into synthesizers yet? No. No, it was always like acoustic piano has always been the instrument as far as I'm concerned. It still is. It's amazing that you've been able to create such a career for yourself just from playing piano. Not a lot of musicians have ever done that. I never really thought about that one. Most guys at least play organ and now everybody plays synthesizers. So on this new album, you're just playing strictly piano? On which one? On the Night album. Yeah, piano on one track, electric piano. We used a Fender Rhodes for that. For the chorus on it. What kind of piano are you using in the studio? I think it's a Kawai. Really hard action. Hard action? Is that what you look for in the studio? No. You don't want that? No. I mean, I can handle it, but it just makes a little bit harder to work. That is a surprisingly hard action on that piano. Are there certain pianos that you find in general are better than others? In 1970, it took me three months to find the piano I've got now. I went all over the Bay area and went to every single store. I was looking at brand new Steinways, brand new Yamahas, and Baldwins. And I was completely dumbfounded at how bad these pianos were. Their tone was shit. The tone was just bad. It was almost like there was no tone. It sounded really, really tinny. No depth. Bass notes sounded like cardboard. And I thought, God man, if these are the new pianos They were six-foot, seven-foot pianos. Brand new and at that time they were about five or six thousand. I imagine there a little bit more than that now. That's what? Nine years ago. The last place I went to, which was a place that I had avoided only because it was downtown San Francisco and a hassle to get to because of traffic and everything. I went to Sherman Clay (?) in downtown San Francisco, tried all the new pianos and said, Haven't you got anything else? He said, Well, there's this second-hand piano that we've had for six months. He said, You can try it if you want. So I said, Okay. I looked at this piano and it was this immaculate rosewood case, six-foot-six. It was either 1924 or 1926. And I looked and thought, This can't be much good. Anything that looks that great is gonna sound really dull. I sat down and started playing, and I was there about 20 minutes before I stopped. And it was a Mason & Hamlin, which I had never heard of because it was American made. Anyway, I got it home and people started freaking out when they came around. And I had no idea what I had gotten! Then I found out that it is a well-known make and now it's worth about three, maybe four times what I paid for it. What did you pay for it? I'm not going to tell you. So you've got this at your house? Yeah. The casework has gotten bashed about because it went back to England for a year and a half. Oh man, the Mayflower. The Mayflower moved it. Boy, did they ever move it. They're so backed up. Fortunately, the piano itself is okay, but the casework is so scratched and chipped. It would cost probably a couple of thousand to get it put back. Plus, I don't want to do without it either. I mean, having someone come out to the house. Or maybe, if and when I go on tour next time for a couple of months, I could get it into a shop then. That would be better than having somebody constantly working on it in the house. That would drive me nuts. So this is strictly for your house? You've never used it on a record? No. Oh, I guess I did. I did a solo album. It came out in '73, so it was recorded end of '72, beginning of '73. In January of '73, I was doing some vocal overdubs in the house I had at Mill Valley and had a nice music studio added on to the house. And there was a piano part that I think David Briggs was working with me on that. Not the piano player, but the producer. Did Neil Young stuff. He suggested it was the end of the song called Banana Anna right up above the key sax break at the end that a piano solo would be good. Like real high up there. So I said, Well, let's do that. I think that's the only time it's been on record. You mentioned you did a solo album? Yeah. It was back in '73 when it came out. It was on Columbia and it was called The Tin Man Was A Dreamer. Like a kind of oil painting on the front and photos on the inside that fold out. Then there was another oil painting on the back. Have you ever gone in and played an instrument other than piano on a record? Going back to '66 or '67, I did a lot of Kinks sessions and lot of them turned out to be on harpsichord. I'd like to get one. Just have one in the house. Do you remember specific tracks? Yeah, there was one I remember. It was a track called Session Man, which wasn't written about me. A lot of people thought it was, but it wasn't. It was really a put down on the older string players kind of attitude that they called in. Page did a lot of those Kinks sessions, didn't he? He did the earlier ones. You never played on any of them with him? No. But I know the first two singles What is it All the Day and All the Night or something? I'm pretty sure he did the guitar on those. Did you do any Who sessions? Yeah, that was one of the first things that I did. And I did the first album, too - My Generation. And the first thing I did was a single called Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere. I think that was the first thing that I did with Shel Talmy after Glen introduced me to him. What was it like working with The Who? It was kind of interesting in those days because they were going through their changes, you know, arguing and fighting amongst themselves. Then they broke away from Shel Talmy and the record label, too. They formed their own label. I didn't work with them for a while until 1971; I did the Who's Next album. They changed a lot, they just matured. They were a band.
"In 1970, it took me three months to find the piano I've got now."
You just played piano on that also? Yeah, I did The Song is Over. I did a couple of other of things. I did the next album which was in '74, '75 -Who By Numbers and the Tommy Soundtrack. I worked very close with Townshend on that. That was very interesting, too. Ken Russell was at all the sessions and I'd been working out with Pete how we could adapt the music to fit in - got to have a progression leading up and there was only 17 and a half seconds and it worked out. He's a good person to work with, easy guy to work with. Very meticulous person. Always knew 100 percent what he wanted. A lot of people know when they're producing they know what they don't want, then it's kind of a trial and error thing. But Pete from the word go what he was after. In fact, he would come into a session - this was during the Who's Next album, too, in '71Cause there were more than those two songs that I did. There were about six or seven tracks. I think four of them came out as singles, or two or three definitely did. Let's See Action was one. What a genius that guy is You worked with Blackmore? Yeah, a long time ago. I did a single with him in '66 that didn't get anywhere; it's just an instrumental single. What was that called? Getaway I think. Who was that for? Ritchie. It was a solo single. It's a very obscure single. I've even got a copy at home. I used to go out and buy all the singles that I played on in the early years that I was doing sessions. I've got a lot of them. You did a Lord Sutch album? He was on that wasn't he? Yeah, I think he was. Not Jack the Ripper? That was the first record that I ever played on, too. That was in, Christ, '62. I was a wee mite. It was the first time I had ever been in a studio in my life. What about working with The Stones? When did you first meet up with them? 1962. I was with a guy named Cyril Davies. Cyril and I had this band called The Rhythm and Blues Allstars, but it was the first authentic rhythm and blues band in England. Alexis Korner, okay he was playing the material, but he wasn't playing it the right way. I couldn't explain how he was playing it, but it just didn't have any balls to it. It was pretty insipid. I mean I can't put him down. Alex is a great guy. And since, he's really gotten it together, but then it didn't sound right. That was Cyril's attitude and he left Alexis and formed the band that I joined. It was great. I was with that band and Cyril right up until I got sick in '63. We took over Alexis' spot at The Marquee. We did that every Thursday, packed the place. And The Stones were our support band, and they did interval spots for about 20 minutes. From 1963, I ran into Mick a couple of times in London, but I never really hung out with him. Up until '67, they had been doing all their recording apart from the early sessions in the RCA studio here in Hollywood. The Stones? Yeah The first thing I did with them was We Love You. And I just started playing this piano, but I didn't know what to do with it. I didn't write lyrics or anything. So I just started playing it like I'm trying to do something with it and Mick says, Yeah, play that! Then I start playing it in A. He says, No, go up to D! Now down to A! Now up to E! And that was how the song developed. There was no top line. The next time I heard it was with the top partover it. Those are the greatest bands who ever played. Your resume is so astounding, it doesn't even sound real. Yeah, there's been so many, it's tough to remember them all. Between 1965 and '68, I was doing stuff for people like Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdinck, Anita Harris, and Peter and Gordon. And some of the things I've got (on record), but a lot of them I never kept track of. Do you remember the Tom Jones Show when Jim Sullivan was the guitar player and he made his guitar talk? Did you do any sessions with him? Yeah, I did a lot. A hell a lot of sessions. And with John Paul Jones, Page, and Sullivan, we did so many sessions. I guess the main single I did with him was Goo Goo Barabajagal (the Donovan single was simply called Barabajagal). How did that come about? It was Mickie Most's idea. It turned out to be a good idea. Most of Mickie's ideas for commercial records were right on the button. He has an amazing sense of what would be a hit and what wouldn't. He's become a millionaire several times over from that. So Night is your most recent project? Yeah, it is. Does that look to keep you involved for a while because I know you tend to move around a bit? What I'm doing at the moment at the same time, I'm also going to be starting my band very soon. I've got an excellent drummer and excellent bass player. The drummer's name is Micky McMeel. That's M-C-M-E-E-L. He used to play with The Three Dog Night. And the bass player? The bass player is a guy called Michael Bach. B-A-C-H, like the composer. Great guy. They've played together for a long time. They're both excellent players individually, but together - Jesus Christ. Are you going to have a guitar player? Yeah, still looking for him at the moment. I've got to find somebody's compatible playing-wise. What I'm looking for to complete the band is somebody to sing, although Micky could sing because he's got a great lead voice, so that's a possibility. So this will be material that you'll be writing? Yeah. It will be a fully cooperative band, but I certainly want to write and/or co-write. There's one thing I don't write, words, lyrics. Then again, my wife does, so I'll probably write some things with her and write some things with the others. 2008 Steven Rosen
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