Glenn Frey Tribute

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Eagles (November, 192) (L-R) Frey, Meisner, Henley & Leadon. Photo by Gary Elam.

Cameron shared his thoughts with Rolling Stone in a new tribute to late Glenn Frey. We will share an excerpt below, but please check out Rolling Stone for the entire story.

It was 1972, and “Take It Easy” was still on the charts. The Eagles came to San Diego, and I was working for a small local underground paper.   I grabbed my photographer buddy Gary from high-school and made a plan. We were going to sneak backstage and grab an interview with this new group. I loved their harmonies, and the confident style that charged their first hit-single.

Glenn Frey introduced the band. “We’re the Eagles from Southern California.”

They were explosive, right off the top, opening with their acapella rendition of “Seven Bridges Road.” Then, with utter confidence, this new band, filled with piss and vinegar, launched immediately into their hit.   There was nothing “laid-back,” about them.   No “saving the hit for last.” This was a band with confidence. They were a lean-and-mean American group, strong on vocals and stronger on attitude. Gary and I talked our way backstage with ease, found the band’s road-manager, and he threw us all into a small dressing room where drummer-singer Don Henley, bassist Randy Meisner, and guitarist Bernie Leadon took us through the story of the band.   Every other sentence began with “And then Glenn… “ Glenn Frey was the only guy not in the room.

After about a half-hour, the door whipped open and Frey walked in. He had a Detroit swagger, a memorable drawl and a patter like a baseball player who’d just been called up to the majors. He was part musician, part tactician and part stand-up comic. It was immediately obvious, Glenn had his eye on the big picture. He’d studied other bands, and how they broke up or went creatively dry. He had a plan laid out.   He even used that first interview to promote his friends – Jackson Browne, John David Souther , Ned Doheny and San Diego songwriter Jack Tempchin.   His laugh and demeanor was infectious. Immediately, you wanted to be in his club.   At the end of the interview, I asked them all to pose together. The photo is one of my favorites. It captures one of their earliest, happiest, freest moments… a band that would later brawl memorably, was giddy and happy that night, arms wrapped around each other. Glenn’s look is priceless – this is my band, and we’re on our way.

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David Bowie: Self Portrait ’76

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“Self Portrait ’76” — a treasured keepsake from David Bowie as he worked on Station To Station.

To a young journalist in the mid-70s, David Bowie was the ungettable interview.  He did not speak to the press.  Still, through some cajoling from Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones and Glenn Hughes of Deep Purple, both of whom I’d previously profiled, David Bowie called me from a cross-country train trip.  “I’ve left my manager,” he said, “I’m traveling to LA.  I’ll call you when I arrive and we can do an interview.”   I followed him, with tape rolling, for 6 months as he transitioned from Young Americans to his next phase, The Thin White Duke/Station to Station period.  It was somewhat of a primal scream phase for him.  Careening through the Los Angeles underground, from studios to home galleries, he afforded me a front-row seat.  “Let me show you how I write a song now,” he told me one day, and then carefully demonstrated the cut-out method he’d adopted for that period.  He was on his knees on his floor, moving clipped single pieces of papers containing lines he’d just written.  Like a 3 card-monty street-corner magician, he shuffled together the words of a new song until it made just enough sense… and no more.  The rest would be left to the listener.

Bowie was the most generous and entertaining interview subject I’d ever met.  Nothing was off-limits.  When he asked to meet you, it was rarely casual.  You would be ushered into the room where he was waiting, and the artist would be perfectly positioned, his head cocked at the perfect angle to catch the light.  It was not an affectation.  He naturally staged himself, only to break out of such an iconic pose with a crackling smile and jaunty warmth.  He loved Peter Cook and Dudley Moore’s “What’s the Worst Job You’ve Ever Had” routine, and knew it by heart, the same way he cherished a bootleg copy of the Jeff Beck Group at Detroit’s Grande Ballroom… Bowie’s creative process was both ferocious and meticulous, his love of music ran from Kraftwerk to The Spinners to hard jazz and classical, to a young fan, a songwriter who’d just finished his first album when he made a pilgrimage to Philadelphia just to meet him – Bruce Springsteen.  We saw each other a number of times since, and he always made a reference to those wild years in LA.  I was always tugging on his sleeve to act in something I’d written, too.  A hugely underrated presence in film, I’d even been crafting a part for him as recently as this weekend.

In our last conversation, I read him back some of his quotes from the “wild years in LA”  period.  Looking back was not his game, but he listened patiently.  Some of the quotes were spectacularly profound, but Bowie took no ownership. “It really represents the morbid and misdirected enthusiasm of a young man with too much time on his hands and too many grams of PCP, amphetamine or cocaine or maybe all three in my system, really.”  He explained he was happy he left Los Angeles, went to Germany for his next phase, and slowly saved his own life.  “That whole time is a blur topped with chronic anxiety… I could have easily died.”   He once doodled the accompanying drawing on a paper while I interviewed him.  He left the paper behind and I asked him to sign it.  “It’s a self-portrait,” he said, and applied his signature.  Over the years I’ve come to interpret the drawing as a tiny cry for help… a cry he answered himself with the subsequent trip to Berlin and an entire lifestyle change.  Bowie turned that dark period on it’s head, and went on to supply many more generations of fans with music and art and soul and inspiration.  He careened beautifully into the future… where he will always be.

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Jann Wenner – Happy Birthday!

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Twenty-year-old Jann S. Wenner in the original San Francisco office, 1967. Photograph by Baron Wolman. Courtesy of Jann’s website.

Jann Wenner turns 70 years young today. All of us here at The Uncool/Vinyl Films want to wish him the very best. Here’s the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame piece that Cameron wrote back when Jann was inducted in 2004.

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Nineteenth Annual Induction

There are some who say rock & roll, at its very core, is a temporary form. Even the earliest days of rock & roll, it was all folly, right? Passionate and cheeky melodies meant to be heard crackling over a car radio, a souvenir of a night spent dancing or making out. Every real musician or fan knew, though, that rock & roll was much deeper than that. Rock & roll was code, and just under the surface was the promise of rebellion, of a life beyond what your parents could understand. It was a secret world to smuggle into your home, shut your door and get lost in.

It took a fleet of guitarists and pianists to put that secret world together, but one man realized rock & roll needed a diary and a journal. In 1967, with borrowed money and the support of a veteran jazz journalist named Ralph J. Gleason, a twenty-year-old dropout from UC Berkeley put together a folded paper, a publication that lent a tiny bit of permanence to all that timelessly “disposable” art. And on that day, Jann Wenner took the first step on the famously long, strange trip that would lead him to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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Frampton Comes Alive! Turns 40

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Can you believe it has been 40 years today since Peter Frampton’s seminal live album, Frampton Comes Alive!?  It was a phenomenon upon its debut and the album has now sold more than 11 million copies worldwide. To celebrate, here’s Cameron’s liner notes from the January 6, 1976 release.

Frampton Comes Alive!

It’s the classic tale of most inspired performers. Be they actor or musician or both, anyone whose art often burns with the passion of a man possessed is more often than not a soft-spoken personality away from their craft. Twenty-five-year-old Peter Frampton is no miraculous exception. He is a quietly good-natured man who, in his own words, lives for the stage.

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EW’s First Look at Roadies

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Luke Wilson and Carla Gugino. Photo by Katie Yu and courtesy of Showtime.

Roadies is featured in Entertainment Weekly‘s latest “First Look” issue. The preview includes a Q & A with Cameron. Here’s an excerpt, for the entire article, check out the story over at EW. 

Roadies

Almost Famous writer-director Cameron Crowe is going behind the music again – this time with a TV series starring Luke Wilson, Carla Gugino, and Imogen Poots as the support staff for a touring rock band.

In Almost Famous you shined a spotlight on a kid coming of age on the road, following around a rising band. Now you’re shining the spotlight on the people who shine the spotlights on the band. What intrigued you about that side of the business?

I hadn’t seen their stories told….I always used to see these pictures – or when we’d film something – where Elton John would come down the hallway of the Forum on his way to the stage, and some poor [stagehand] would be moving a cart, and he’d see the camera and Elton coming and he’d be like [mimics someone trying to get out of the frame]. The camera would just move past him, and I was like, No – let’s do the show where the camera’s on this guy that’s against the wall. Let Elton John go. We want to know his world. That’s kind of the show.

How long have you had the idea for Roadies?

It happened about eight years ago. J.J. [Abrams, an exec producer alongside My So-Called Life creator Winnie Holtzman and Crowe] and I both came up at the same time working with Jim Brooks, so we became friends. And then one time we just started pitching. He said, “I went to this show, and I looked up, and I saw this girl on a rigging tower, and I just wondered, “What is her world like?” And I was like, “Well, I’ll tell you what her world is like,” and he’s like, “You know, this is your show.” I said, “Wow, okay.” We never see the band, we never hear the band. It’s about the people. It’s about that girl and those people that disappear when the lights go down.”

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J.J. Abrams, Luke Wilson and Cameron on the set of Roadies. Photo by Katie Yu and courtesy of Showtime.

Courtesy of Entertainment Weekly – Dan Snierson – January 8/15, 2016

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Almost Famous – Kicks Off Down Under Pop Up Cinema Fest

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Almost Famous kicks off the new year as part of QV Melbourne’s new pop-up Outdoor Cinema film festival. Viewers are provided with individual wireless headphones to enjoy the film in a beautiful outdoor setting in Melbourne, Australia. Almost Famous plays on January 2nd and is followed over the next couple of months with a wide variety of films such as Amelie, Wall-E, Love & Mercy, Searching for Sugar Man and many, many more.

All the details and ticket information can be found over at their official site.

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Pictures from the Road #1

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Cameron will be sharing pictures he took while filming the Roadies pilot. It begins today. Happy Holidays everyone!

Jan 9, 2015. Vancouver. “Roadies” rehearsals begin with the explosive Keisha Castle-Hughes, Machine Gun Kelly and Imogen Poots.

 

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Chris Hillman Slips Away…

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Cameron talks with Chris Hillman on the cusp of his first solo album, Slippin’ Away. They chat about his long career with such legendary acts as The Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers and much more.

Chris Hillman: Early Byrd Finds His Wings

Los Angeles – The laundry attendant at Holloway Cleaners was amazed. “You’re Chris Hillman, aren’t you? What are you doing here?” In another 15 minutes, Hillman was scheduled to make his Los Angeles solo debut at the Roxy nightclub down the street.  He handed over his claim check. “I can’t go to work in a dirty shirt,” he said.

Chris Hillman’s use of the word “work” should never be taken as an antimusic remark. He does not fashion himself an archetypal rock star, riding in limousines and worrying of nothing but art. Ever since his too-much, too-soon days as bassist/guitarist with the Byrds, Hillman has demanded none of the luxuries of his trade. “fuck all that other stuff,” he laughs.

Now 31, Hillman has made his reputation by staying out of West Coast music spotlights. Whether with the Byrds or as a founding member of the Flying Burrito Brothers, Manassas and the Souther-Hillman-Furay Band, he has been most content as the lurking accomplice.

Few even know of his discoveries. Hillman was one of the earliest supporters of the Buffalo Springfield, arranging for their first auspicious break as house band at the Whisky-A-Go-Go. It was even Hillman who brought fellow Byrd David Crosby over for a first look at the band that featured Crosby’s future partners, Steve Stills and Neil Young. (Crosby’s reaction: “Aww, I don’t like ’em.”) Years later, he stumbled onto Emmylou Harris – then a shy Joni Mitchell-esque folk singer – in a Washington D.C. nightclub. “I wanted to sing with her, but I was too wrapped up in Manassas.” Instead, he convinced Gram Parsons to give her a call. More recently, he helped his former backing band – now called Firewall – record the demos that led to their contract. “Look at me,” Hillman likes to joke, “look at what I get for helping everybody out. A cult. I should recut ‘Mr Tambourine Man’ disco.”

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