Tag Archives: Cameron Crowe

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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Jan 7, 2016

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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Jan 5, 2016

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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Dec 21, 2015

Pearl Jam – 5 X 1 Through the Eye of Lance Mercer

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Cameron provided one of the introductions to Lance Mercer’s 2006 photo book of Pearl Jam. Enjoy!

first song, first show.”Release.” moore theater. seattle. even then, pearl jam was something a little more personal, a little more passionate than you were prepared for, already with a history steeped in pain and rebirth and a deep-running love of music. it felt like a club, in the best way. still does. every album, every show still resonates like a bootleg, smuggled directly from the band to you. and every one of lance’s great photos pulses with that spirit. this is the backstage, onstage, every stage journey of pearl jam, forever strapped to the muse. so pick your disc, or spin your vinyl and turn it way up. these images are meant to be listened to, loud.

Cameron Crowe

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Dec 12, 2015

Lynyrd Skynyrd: Hell on Wheels…

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Cameron chats with Lynyrd Skynyrd for this 1976 piece for the L.A. Times. Happy Monday all.

Lynyrd Skynyrd: Hell on Wheels Puts On the Brakes

When Lynyrd Skynyrd finally broke into the top 10 last month with its fifth album, “One More From the Road,” singer-founder Ronnie Van Zant could hardly wait to celebrate by canceling all future interviews. “The band doesn’t owe anything to anybody,” he declared happily. “Most of the media people, especially the press, have consistently portrayed us as either children or a bunch of rowdy drunks. That may or may not be true, but I know I’d much rather deal with the audiences that really put us here.”

After 10 grueling years of almost constant touring, Dixie’s Lynryd Skynyrd are anything but children. Their notoriously long record of pillage and arrest, however, does provide one thing. To the absolute delight of its hell-raising following, the band has boozed and brawled its way to top. But now, bolstered by the confidence that only long-sought success can bring, 27-year-old Van Zant is talking about changing that too.

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Nov 16, 2015

Rolling Stone 10th Anniversary: Top 10 Albums of Their First Decade

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To celebrate Rolling Stone‘s 10th Anniversary (way back in 1977!), each of their writers shared their Top 10 Albums of the magazine’s first decade. Here is Cameron’s list (he went with 8 albums and 2 singles), in no particular order. Happy Friday All…

Rolling Stone 10th Anniversary: Top 10 Albums of the Last 10 Years (1967-1977)

Katy Lied – Steely Dan

Anonymous, abosolutely impeccable swing-pop. No cheap displays of human emotion.

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Todd Rundgren – Something Anything

Something/Anything? – Todd Rundgren

Gloriously cheap displays of human emotion. Heart-wrenching teen classics.

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For the Roses – Joni Mitchell

In which Joni Mitchell so far outstrips anything else to emerge from the singer/songwriter boom that half the field promptly drops out.

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Physical Graffiti – Led Zeppelin

Harder than Exile on Main Street and three times as convincing.

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At the Fillmore East – The Allman Brothers Band

The tragic and ultimately garish aftermath of the Allman Brothers Band began immediately after the release of this magnificent live album. Now their memory is all but obscured; no one even yells out “Whipping Post” at concerts anymore. Their spooky pinnacle remains.

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Jackson Browne – Jackson Brown

Taken as a whole, this album is a southern California Catcher in the Rye. Jackson will doubtlessly continue to make more finely crafted records, but nothing as wide-eyed and endearing as his first.

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Spinner – The Spinners

Thom Bell, ladies and gentlemen. Thom Bell!

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White Album – The Beatles

In the words of semiprofessional session guitarist Danny Kortchmar, “You still can’t buy a better record.”

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“Take It Easy” – The Eagles

Those first two chords mean instant top-down summer . . . anywhere, any time. Not, however, worth the trip to Winslow, Arizona.

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“Ohio” – Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young

If punk is any indication of the alternative, I’ll stick with the Sixties wimps.

Courtesy of Rolling Stone #254 – Cameron Crowe – December 15, 1977

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Oct 23, 2015

Roadies

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Episode 101 (Pilot)

YES!  Roadies has been picked up by Showtime.  Stay tuned for 10 stories about life, music, love and all points in between.

Here’s a look…

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Oct 14, 2015

Led Zeppelin – Slowly Rising

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Cameron gets the scoop on Led Zeppelin’s latest album, Presence. This August, 1976 story is brand new to the site and marks our 251st article/interview in the Journalism section. Happy Monday!

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Zeppelin Rising . . . Slowly

Jimmy Page tells how Led Zep turned an accident into an album: ‘We started screaming and never stopped’

Los Angeles – Had singer Robert Plant’s sedan not slammed into a tree on the Greek island of Rhodes, shattering his ankle and all the bone supporting his left leg, Led Zeppelin would surely have dwarfed all touring competition is golden rock & roll summer. But Plant, who is not one to perform from a chair, is still months away from complete recovery. Until that day, the band even Elton John calls “the world’s biggest act in music” is stilled.

Presence, Zeppelin’s seventh and latest album, remains one of the best-selling albums of the year, even without benefit of a tour, a single or even a photo of the band. A film of the band in concert, The Song Remains the Same, is set for release this fall. All this at a time when most heavy-metal heroes have either tempered their approach or died an unsuspecting death. Such is the enigma of Led Zeppelin.

Jimmy Page, the band’s guitarist and mentor, was on a working vacation in Los Angeles with Plant, drummer John “Bonzo” Bonham, manager Peter Grant and various members of Bad Company. Page was keeping a low profile. His easy pace of writing, relaxing and supervising a band called Detective, the newest act on Led Zep’s Swan Song label, was interrupted by only one nightclub visit – to the Roxy for Doctor Feelgood – and one interview.

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Sep 22, 2015

Mike Finger’s The Blue and the Black