Tag Archives: Rolling Stone

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

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

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.

Todd Rundgren - Something Anything

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

My #1 – Pet Sounds By The Beach Boys

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Cameron shared his #1 for Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time issue. Happy Friday!

 

My Number One – Pet Sounds – The Beach Boys

I was thirteen, and I wanted to buy a Jackson 5 cassette. The knowing geek behind the counter shook his head and advised me to get Pet Sounds instead. Desperate for his cool-guy validation, I bought it. It sounded weird, introverted, not that melodic. And what about that cover? Odd-looking guys dressed like Elizabethan-period accountants feeding animals at the zoo? I thought the album sucked and I stashed it in a drawer. Within a year, Linda Alvarado (not her real name) savagely broke my heart. For some fateful reason, I gave Pet Sounds another chance. Suddenly, music was more than just confection. Those strange guys feeding animals at the zoo understood; even the music sounded like I felt. When you find songs so personal that they feel like someone’s been reading your diary, you tend to study the album credits to find out who the hell wrote this stuff. And that leads you to the heartbreaking genius of Brian Wilson. Pet Sounds is the high-water mark of songwriting and production so meticulously rendered that you ache hearing these songs; they’re filled with secret cries for help disguised in baroque and candy-coated harmonies, the sound of Brian Wilson’s universe coming together and falling apart. The album was a flop in its day, unappreciated in a world addicted to Wilson’s Beach Boys hits. Just three years ago, it finally went platinum. For me, Pet Sounds is a souvenir, a masterwork, an underdog story and a record that takes you gently by the lapels and says, “Here’s what it feels like to be alive.”

Courtesy of Rolling Stone #937 – Cameron Crowe – December 11, 2003

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Oct 2, 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

The Marshall Tucker Band

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Cameron talks about the rock and roll business with the Marshall Tucker Band for this 1974 Rolling Stone interview. Happy Tuesday everyone…

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Marshall Tucker: The South Also Rises

Atlanta, GA – It’s Friday night and Richard’s, the lively hotspot of Atlanta’s rock-club scene, is jumping. Onstage, a local favorite is grinding out rock raucous blue standards. The dance floor is an euphoric mass of squirming young bodies.

Welcome to the great lost teenage innocence. David Bowie may set the coasts afire with his 36 costume changes and the New York Dolls can mincingly sing of decadent trauma, but for this typically well-scrubbed Southern crowd, “drag” is when you’ve waited too long to buy your Allman Brothers tickets.

“That glitter shit,” drawls one sweat-drenched regular, “is for the people that don’t care about the music, dontcha think? Here in the South we got our own bands who don’t need any of those…gimmicks. Like Lynyrd Skynyrd or the Marshall Tucker Band or, acourse, the Brothers. Man, they just get out there and fuckin’ play.”

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Sep 8, 2015

Stills & Young Tour – Rolling Stone 1976

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Stephen Stills and Neil Young circa 1976.

In this new addition to the site, Cameron chronicles the on again/off again Stephen Stills and Neil Young tour for this 1976 Rolling Stone piece. Happy Friday everyone…

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Quick End to a Long Run

In which Neil Young and Stephen stills find that old magic and lose it all to a sore throat

Los Angeles – Forget the balding pate and those wisps of gray. Stephen Stills and Neil Young, their hair cut summer-short, looked eerily like they did on the cover of Buffalo Springfield Again. But gone, at least temporarily, was the carefree abandon of those days. This was serious business.

The scheduled three-month-long Stills-Young band tour had been rolling only two weeks, and while it came close to jelling in Boston just a few days before, the show still teetered on the edge of the magic that everyone knew they were capable of.

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Aug 28, 2015

Eagles: The Million Dollar View

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Cameron reflects on his 1975 Rolling Stone Eagles cover story just ahead of its 40th anniversary. He discusses his first encounter with the band in 1972 (for The Door) and his unprecedented access for the ’75 piece. Enjoy!

Cameron Crowe Looks Back on His 1975 Eagles Cover Story

Writer-director recalls unlimited access he enjoyed during research of definitive piece on California rock icons

“Take It Easy” had only been out a few months in the summer of 1972. I was a big fan of the song, and was still in high school when the Eagles came to the San Diego Civic Theatre. They were the opening act on a bill with Procol Harum and Cold Blood, and the Civic Theatre was a few blocks from my house. I bought a ticket, and brought my tape recorder. The idea was to slip backstage and talk the band into an interview for a local underground paper, The San Diego Door.

The Eagles opened the evening without an introduction. The lights lowered, and they began with an a cappella version of “Seven Bridges Road,” quickly adding instruments and swinging into “Take It Easy.” They were fierce and joyful, playing with all the piss and vinegar of a young band hitting its early stride. I slipped backstage with my photographer friend from high school, Gary Elam, and asked their road manager if I could interview the band. They were eager to talk. Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner all hung out in a tiny dressing room and spent hours detailing their history and their dreams of hitting the big-time. “If you like us, you should check out our friend Jackson Browne and John David Souther,” Glenn Frey said excitedly, clutching a long-neck Budweiser. They posed for a photo by the amps, arms around each other, and we exchanged phone numbers. I stayed in touch with them. (Little did I know, that fuzzy group shot would be one of the only known photos of all four original members hugging each other. Looking at it today, it has the same slightly surreal quality of one of those photos of the Loch Ness Monster.)

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Aug 24, 2015


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