Dana Dane came up in the rap game out of the Fort Green projects of Brooklyn with his best friend Slick Rick in the mid-80s. He created quite a stir in the underground with his debut album Dana Dane With Fame and lead single "Cinderfella Dana Dane". Even though the future looked bright for Dana, and with With Fame selling a promising half a million copies, two subsequent albums never quite caught on and he pretty much left recording after his third album in 1995. But, these challenges just caused him to diversify. He went on to write a bestseller and start a multi-media company. We talk about those early days with Slick Rick, how he's navigated the ups and downs of his career, what it was like opening for his favorite group Whodini, and him slowly easing back into music.
P.M. Dawn were one of the most revolutionary voices in hip-hop history and, frankly, they don't get the credit they deserve. Led by primary creative visionary Prince Be, the sibling duo brought colors and textures to rap that weren't there before and have influenced the more creative hip-hop we hear today. Sadly, Prince Be passed away last year, one of the many heart-breaking deaths from 2016, putting an end to a singular vision and voice. We are honored to have his partner and brother DJ Minutemix (aka Eternal, aka Jarrett Cordes) on this week to fill us in on how the family is doing, what Be was like and the spriritual influences of their music, the story behind giant hits like "Set Adrift on Memory Bliss" and "I'd Die Without You", and why someone named Doc G is out there calling himself P.M. Dawn.
Drummer Hilly Michaels has had one of the juiciest careers in rock. Beginnig from his early teenage days making music with best chum Michael Bolton, Hilly's path has taken him from the top to the bottom and back again. In the 70s, a tight friendship with Mick Ronson paved the way for collaborations with everyone from John Mellencamp to Ian Hunter to Ellen Foley. He even joined Sparks there for a while as well as the Dan Hartman Band with mysterious recluse Vinnie Vincent. He was even invited to join Kiss - twice! He managed to release two albums of his own, the 1980 masterpiece Calling All Girls, which featured the titular single (which happened to be the 94th video ever played on MTV) and an experimental second album, Lumia, which brought an end to his recording career. Every step along the way deserves it's own conversation, but in this one you'll get some of his best stories and get to know a truly sweet man. Kamikazee!
1987 was a great year for alternative blue-eyed soul music coming out of the UK. Bands like Breathe, Swing Out Sister, the Kane Gang and Hipsway brought a highly sophisticated sound to pop and dance music with a lot of funky horns and bass. My favorite of these groups was Curiosity Killed the Cat who did well in the UK, but had only one near-miss single in the states with "Misfit" which reached #42 that year. Part of CKTC's magic was the soulful voice of lead singer Ben Volpeliere-Pierrot. Unfortunately, the band only lasted a couple albums. Today, Ben is out there performing under the CKTC name to rapt crowds on the nostalgia circuit. In this conversation, we talk about the early club days, what he does now, and how Andy Warhol got involved with the band. Ben was one of the reasons I started this podcast and he wasn't easy to find, so I'm extremely grateful he talked to me.
Does it get anymore "indelible" than maybe the most long-lasting hit of the 80s, "Walking On Sunshine" by Katrina and the Waves? This #9 hit from 1985 has continued to live on for decades thanks to its use in everything from movie trailers to commercials. Kimberley Rew is the man that wrote that song, as well as most other songs for Katrina and the Waves, as well as being their guitarist. What casual fans of the band may not know is that there are dozens of primo power pop gems in their catalog and Kimberley is a top-flight songwriter. Before the Waves, Rew was a founding member of the highly acclaimed and influential post-punk band The Soft Boys. That short-lived band was fronted by the great Robyn Hitchcock, who went on to have his own successful solo career as well. So, being a trendsetter is part of Kimberley's make-up. We also talk about BMG purchasing the rights to KatW's catalog for 10 million pounds in 2015, their out-of-nowhere win in the Eurovision song contest in 1997 and his noteworthy solo career. Get to know the man behind the song!
Who can ever forget Musical Youth, those five cute black kids from Birmingham England who had a major worldwide smash with 1983's "Pass The Dutchie". The group, who it should be said wrote many of their own songs and played their own instruments, put out two albums before calling it quits while still in their teens. Unfortunately, some of the traps of life after child stardom crept in - financial problems, legal issues, death. Co-lead singer Dennis Seaton passes on to us some of his well-earned wisdom from those days. He also shines as an example of perseverance. Today, Musical Youth is back out there with Dennis and keyboardist Michael Grant, and they're even working on new music. As it should be!
The Breakfast Club were a fun dance/pop group who put out one album, which included their one and only hit, "Right On Track" which reached #7 in 1987. Unfortunately, that's all she wrote for band. What makes them a fascinating bit of rock history is that they originated as a punk band in NYC in the laet 70s and their drummer was none other than Madonna! Bassist Gary Burke recounts those early days with pre-fame Madonna as well as how the Breakfast Club managed to change directions and become a solid 1-hit-wonder a few years later. It's a fascinating glimpe into a great band and one of the most famous women of all time.
When talking about the indelible hits of the 80s, it doesn't get much bigger than "I Can't Wait" by Nu Shooz. Led by the husband and wife team of John Smith and Valerie Day, Nu Shooz finally hit the maintstream after years of plugging away on the Portland, OR club scene when "I Can't Wait" reached #3 on the pop charts (#1 on the dance chart) in 1986, embedding one of the most "iconic" basslines into the brains of music fans around the world. Their major label debut album, Poolside, also featured the #28 hit "Point of No Return", but sadly the follow up didn't perform as well and Nu Shooz releases slowed down from there. But the groove of "I Can't Wait" has never gone away from the numerous commercials, sampling, sporting events, and general background soundtracking of every day life. It remains a sample of funk and dance envelope pushing as well as studio wizardry. In here we talk about the effects of the song on their lives, what they do outside of music, their influences, and how they've kept a marriage together so long. They're maybe the most pleasant people on earth.
No series on the indelible hits of the 80s would be complete without showcasing the enduring "Obsession" by new wavers Animotion. This week we talk to co-lead singer Bill Wadhams and learn about how their biggest hit came into being and how it effected his career for good and bad. Consider this - you've just achieved world-wide fame, but on very unique terms you weren't mentally prepared for. In the process, the song becomes bigger than you and your talent and abilities get overshadowed. This bittersweet tale has a redeeming end, however, now that Animotion has released their first album featuring Bill and Astrid Plane in almost 30 years, Raise Your Expectations. Plus, it's a home run, something you may not have believed could be possible in 2017. Bill's very honest about the ups and downs of his career and what it feels like to get a second chance at the career you always dreamed of.
Cutting Crew made a huge splash with their debut album Broadcast in 1986, which featured three top 40 hits including the #1 smash "(I Just) Died In Your Arms". Lead singer Nick Van Eede had the musical chops and hunky good looks to catapult a great band into the mainstream. Unfortunately, a long delayed second album cost the group the momentum it needed to stay there, and Nick's broader and more epic songwriting lost some pop sensibility in the process. They sadly never regained their stature. Over the years, Cutting Crew have released five albums in total, including 2015's Add To Favourites, and held a pleasurable spot on 80s Rewind-type tours throughout the world. Nick talks about his prog influences, the death of his musical partner Kevin Scott MacMichael, his involvement in the creation of Cher's global juggernaut "Believe", and how he nearly replaced Phil Collins in Genesis. Cutting Crew may have seemed gone to those not paying full attention, but Nick has never really gone away.
2016 just couldn't go quietly, taking the legend George Michael away on Christmas day. To discuss his career and legacy, as well as his untimely death, we bring back Steve Spears of the popular Stuck in the 80s podcast to make sense of it all.
The Tubes were revolutionary for their time, mixing rock music and theatricality in a way few others were doing. At the center stage stood Fee Waybill, one of the greatest frontmen in rock history and one of the most fascinating entertainers ever. Though the Tubes staged legendary performances, they didn't garner any hits until the early 80s when they teamed up with a young David Foster and released singles like "She's a Beauty" and "Don't Want to Wait Anymore" that still get played today. Unfortunately, with success came a splintering in the band. In this conversation, Fee candidly talks about what brought the band down, how he got them out of debt, and what he did after it ended, which included collaborating with best friend Richard Marx just as his career launched into the stratosphere. There are also acting jobs, a property management career, a Tubes comeback and the craziest David Bowie story you'll ever hear.
There's no one like Fee Waybill. He's as good as it gets!
We're kicking off a series on the artists behind some of the indelible hits of the 80s with a legend, Wally Palmar of the Romantics! They are one of the most successful power pop bands ever and recorded a couple of hits that are still ubiquitous today like "Talking In Your Sleep" and, of course, "What I Like About You" (which was actually not a big hit when it came out in 1980). Despite some well-deserved success and a healthy touring schedule today, there were some lean years in the middle that the Romantics had to endure through, but came out the other end on top. We talk about the ups and downs of their career, the diversity of their albums, and how they've soldiered on for 40 years. We also discuss his wonderful side project The Empty Hearts, the supergroup he's in with guys like Clem Burke of Blondie and Elliot Easton of the Cars. Please enjoy!
707 were one of the underappreciated AOR bands of the early 80s. They should have been right up there with Foreigner and tourmates REO Speedwagon, but it never quite got as big. They did score one moderate hit with "I Could Be Good For You" from their debut album which reached #52 in 1980. After that a couple more excellent melodic-rock albums came out before the band called it quits. Guitarist Kevin Russell went on to have a successful career as a side man, slinger for hire, and special guest playing with everyone from Whitesnake to Clarence Clemons. He's also released a number of blues-based solo albums and today carries on the 707 name and legacy. Kevin's stories come like a runaway train and his appreciation and respect for rock and his fellow musicians is totally endearing. He's one of a kind!
Episode 85 - Cleveland Rocks! with Mark Avsec of Wild Cherry/Breathless/Donnie Iris and Jonah Koslen of Michael Stanley Band/Breathless/Solo
This week we pay respects once again to the great music city of Cleveland with a local legend two-fer.
First up is keyboardist and songwriter Mark Avsec. Mark's first big break was when he joined Wild Cherry ("Play That Funky Music") in the mid-70s before then jumping to Jonah's new band Breathless for two excellent albums in the latter part of the decade. From there he forged what would be the defining musical relationship of his life when he and Donnie Iris joined forces for a run that continues to this day. He even wrote Donnie's biggist hit "Aah Leah" which reached #29 in 1980. A legal issue relating to Aah Leah inspired Mark to go to law school. He's now a copyright lawyer in Cleveland and still gigs with Donnie whenever possible.
Jonah started out in one of Cleveland's biggest draws of the early 70s, The Michael Stanley Band. He eventually wanted to try his hand running his own band and performing his own material when he went on to form Breathless and released two great albums. Unfortunately, Breathless never quite broke to a mass audience (despite opening for Kiss). Since the early 80s, Jonah has continued to record solo albums that rock most excellently. Though he may have retired to LA, he released another excellent solo album this year with Nusic.
Enjoy this conversation with a couple guys that have seen a lot and done a lot and have the scars (and killer songs) to prove it.
Book of Love were one of the key synth pop bands of the 80s and early 90s. Though they never reached the level of global success that colleagues like Depeche Mode or Erasure did, they had a dozen or so big hits on the dance charts with their patented mixture of charming melodies and simple lyrics. The 90s weren't kind to Book of Love (or any of the bands like them) so Susan pivoted to a career as a food stylist and photographer. In this candid conversation, she's refreshingly honest about the challenges of making a living as an artist and creative person as well as the marginalization of the arts in today's schools. We also talk about the 30th Anniversary tour they're on now and the well-earned victory lap they're enjoying. Re-acquaint yourself with some of the best feel-good music there is.
The Au Pairs were one of the great British post-punk bands of the late 70s/early 80s. History has shown they were also one of the most revolutionary. Their aggressive mix of political screeds encased in jagged, in your face songs set them apart with bands like The Slits and Gang of Four from the mainstream. She won't say it herself, but Lesley's image as a lesbian icon set them apart even further. She doesn't fully embrace her role as a pioneer of the time, but while rallying against Thatcher may have been part of the punk uniform of the time, the amount of gay women doing it so openly seriously sets her apart. (Editor's note: she wanted it made clear that she has had relationships with "men, women, and trannies. Variety is the slice of life!"). Today she is an immigration lawyer in London and still occasionally making music. The Au Pairs may have been short-lived (with no chance of reforming, sadly), but it's artists like Lesley that allow progress to happen. I'll say it even if she won't.
In my humble opinion, The Chameleons are possibly the most underrated band of all-time, most certainly of the 80s. Every single fan of The Cure or The Smiths should also own their three core albums (Script of the Bridge, What Does Anything Mean, Basically? and my favorite Strange Times). Unfortunately, there is a lot of drama in the history of that band. I set out to tell their story, but the bad blood and hurt feelings were insurmountable. Luckily, drummer John Lever granted some time to discuss his new band, The Red-Sided Garter Snakes. Luckily, they are about as incredible as the Chams, so what we lack in Chameleons info, we gain in great new music by one of the greatest drummers of the 80s and a very kind man.
Something magical was happening in Britain in the 80s. The country produced amazing, genre-defining bands throughout the entire decade with legends like The Smiths, Simple Minds, Echo and the Bunnymen, Psychedelic Furs (I could go on and on) informing what would become alternative rock and/or post-punk. One of the great bands of that era were The Mighty Lemon Drops. Armed with some sugary sweet melodies, the Lemon Drops may not have hit the historic heights as some of those bands, but they made an impact and remain beloved today. David Newton was the guitarist and primary songwriter and in this enjoyable conversation we talk about all the bands we love from that era, why his good music is good and the bad stuff is bad, the current state of the band, and his current musical projects (which include producing one of my favorite bands of the last 10 years, The Soft Pack, as well as his wonderful side-project David Newton and THEE Mighty Angels). If you're a fan of 80s Brit Pop, you'll have a smile on your face for the duration.
Sue Saad was the frontwoman for the great Sue Saad and the Next, another in a long line of excellent bands that should have been much bigger. They were discovered in L.A. in the late 70s by Richard Perry of Planet Records and released one promising self-titled album in 1980 that reached #131 on the charts and was gaining steam in Europe. Unfortunately, as he's done with other guests of this show, Perry didn't put any marketing muscle behind the band and SSTN began to wither away. Thankfully, filmmaker Albert Pyun tagged her to sing on many of his classic 80s B movies. As great as that was, it didn't break her through so she retreated from music and has been largely off the grid ever since. SSTN did release an excellent second album earlier this year made up of material from their vaults. Get to know one of the most amazing voices you'll ever hear. It's a shame there couldn't have been more.
Loverboy were one of the most popular rock bands of the 80s producing a bunch of hits and selling millions of records. Thankfully, they're enjoying a bit of a resurgence these days thanks to that National Car Rental ad featuring them and one of their biggest hits, "Lovin' Every Minute of It". In this exclusive interview lead singer Mike Reno talks about the effects of grunge on their career, the secret sauce to keeping the original band together, and what goes into deciding who to tour with. We also talk about the two excellent new singles they've released this year, "Some Like it Hot" and "Hurtin'". Mike couldn't be nicer and Loverboy deserves the success they've earned.
Ellen Foley burst onto the music scene in a gigantic way when she sang "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" with Meat Loaf on his mega-smash Bat Out of Hell album. That incredible performance got her a record deal and she put out three albums with some of the biggest legends in the biz behind the boards (Ian Hunter, Mick Ronson, The Clash, Vini Poncia, etc). In the early 80s she decided to focus on her acting career and was rewarded with a starring role on the first season of Night Court, as well as appearances in decade-defining films like Tootsie, Fatal Attraction and Cocktail. When she got married and became a mom she stepped away from the spotlight to raise her kids and now works when she wants. We discuss her thoughts on her career, what it was like collaborating with so many legends, and how she looks back on her career. Imagine the memories that must be floating around her head!
Going back to where it all started!
Stephen Bishop has been a highly successful singer-songwriter for 40 years. He's had several hits of his own and penned many for others such as Barbra Streisand, Eric Clapton, and Art Garfunkel. He just released a "brand new" album called Blueprint which puts the finishing touches on several songs and demos he's been working on over the years (hence the name). Here we talk about his approach to songwriting, how the industry has changed and how that affects him, and he shares some insight on his old friend, the late great Andrew Gold.
Glen Burtnik embodies exactly what The Hustle represents - the artist that works tirelessly to stay vital, involved, creative and paid. Glen was launched as a promising solo artist in the mid-80s releasing two great records on A&M. He achieved some chart success with 1987's "Follow You" which reached #65 on the pop charts. As the solo career was sputtering, Glen was invited to replace Tommy Shaw in Styx and wrote their last decent-sized hit with 1991's "Love is the Ritual". This began a new career as a professional songwriter (penning hits for Patty Smythe and Don Henley, as well as Randy Travis) and as a gun for hire, bringing his professionalism and vast talents to anyone that needed them. These days he's in, no kidding, at least half a dozen different groups/projects/ensembles all of which showcase his passion for great, classic music.
This week's guest shares a story we've heard all too often. Michael Harville was the drummer of the excellent Texas power pop band Sugarbomb. After a successful independently released debut album, their major-label debut, Bully,was released in 2001 and just starting to gain some momentum when RCA dropped them two weeks later! This had long-lasting effects on some members of the band, understandably, but Michael has soldiered on making a living as a drummer ever since. We talks candidly about the ups and downs and shares a hilarious story about how he nearly kicked Mathew McConaughey's butt twice (just don't ever call him Matt), and a rather disappointing story about Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick. If you like bands like Jellyfish and Fountains of Wayne, then please enjoy re-discovering Sugarbomb. The name says it all.
Jacob Slichter was the drummer for the excellent alternative rock band Semisonic, whose 1999 hit "Closing Time" remains a staple to this day. But, we aren't here to talk about that. Jacob covered that story perfectly in his 2004 memoir "So You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star", one of the greatest books on life as a mildly successful rock band during the waning days of the traditional music industry ever written. Since his book mirrors the arc we try to cover on the Hustle, I wanted to talk with him about his post-book life, ask some questions I had that the book didn't address, and expand on the emotions he has experienced along the way. He was a great sport about it. This book inspired this podcast. We've come full circle.
David Sterry is the man behind one of the most iconic and enduring hits of the 80s synth-pop era, "Send Me An Angel". His band Real Life were major players in the 80s when Angel reached the charts TWICE (in 1983 and again in 1989), and "Catch Me I'm Falling" also made a huge splash in 1983. You'd think writing a song as evergreen as Angel would keep you comfy for the rest of your life, but surprisingly, that was not the case. Luckily, after 20 years, David is now benefitting from his impactful legacy and successfully touring the 80s nostalgia circuit in his native Australia. We talk about the ups and downs of his career, the other great music Real Life has recorded, what he did during the lean years, and some of his best memories.
Choirboys have been an active, vibrant pub rock/hard rock band in their native Australia for over 30 years. They've had several major hits Down Under, including 1987's "Run To Paradise" which, get this, is the 11th best selling Australian single of the 80s! Surprisingly, they've never made much of a dent in America (and never tried too hard). We talk about the differences between Australian and American success, what kind of a lifestyle "Run to Paradise" has afforded them, and them being discovered by George Young, the older brother of Angus and Malcolm from AC/DC. I also pick his brain on some of my favorite artists hailing from the eastern hemisphere. The guy has quite the personality, enjoy!
Tito Larriva hasn't stopped working in 40 years. His many musical disguises (The Plugz, The Cruzados, Tito & Tarantula) have paralleled his second career in the movie business, both as an actor and a soundtrack legend. At the core of these many personalities is the heart of a musical genius and shapeshifter who has found much success by being the right guy for the job and always good at what he does. His career has spanned everything from porn to Pee-Wee Herman and Swayze to Tarantino. Get turned on to an excellent musician and a consummate artist.
Fred Pineau was the guitarist for the excellent Boston power pop band The Atlantics. Their story is, unfortunately, a familiar one - big on the local scene, signed to a major label that mis-marketed them (they wanted them to be the "new wave Eagles"), and thus buried their one and only album, 1979's Big City Rock. Even with a national tour opening for Roxy Music, the Atlantics never fully took off and never made it to a second album. However, Fred is a world-class raconteur and has numerous incredible stories to tell. Sit back and enjoy an amazing band and an amazing storyteller (Bowie, Roxy, Prince, Paul Simon, Daryl Hall, Madness, Queen, etc).
The A's were one of Philadelphia's hottest bands in the 70s. Their mix of new wave and power pop created some of the best music of that wonderful period - the barely pre-MTV era (1977-1981). Lead singer Richard Bush was also one of the most charismatic frontman around - rock star through and through. But, unfortunately, after two underperforming albums on a major label, the band called it a day. Today, Richard primarily makes his living working like the rest of us, but for the past few years he's invested his talents in his new band, the psychedelic Peace Creeps. In our conversation, Richard honestly dissects his musical career, what went wrong, what went right, and what should have been. The guy is still amazing and hasn't lost a step!
Arthur Alexander grew up in Warsaw Poland with dreams of becoming the next Elvis. His dreams brought him to NYC where he paid his dues on the CBGBs scene of the mid-70s with his first band The Poppees before things started to take off with his next band, the killer garage rock/power pop greats Sorrows. Unfortunately, after two under-performing albums the band was no more. Arthur is very candid and opinionated about his own career, what went wrong, and even his feelings about his fellow CBGB cohorts (Ramones, Television, Talking Heads). Sorrows are another in that dreaded "shoulda been huge" category and, while making music isn't what pays the bills anymore, he is still out there writing and creating. Get to know one of rock's great characters!
In the mid-70s, Blanche Napoleon impulsively moved to NYC and befriended the excellent singer-songwriter Dan Hartman. She also managed to stumble into a music career when Dan made her a background singer on some of his biggest disco hits ("Instant Replay", "Relight My Fire", "Love Sensation"). Their deep friendship carried on until his death from AIDS in 1993. In this conversation, not only do we honor Dan and his life and art, but we talk about Blanche's brief. but impactful career in the music business in the late 70s before she transitioned to a hugely successful career in the fashion industry. She may have a short musical resume, but she has some of the best stories.
Jon Fiore was the lead singer of another great, but forgotten, early 80s rock band called Preview. Like many other bands we've showcased, they came in with a lot of promise, released an excellent debut album in 1983, and completely disappeared. From there, Jon began a highly successful career singing many legendary jingles, continuing to perform whenever possible, including releasing two excellent melodic hard rock albums in the 90s. But, to me he will always be beloved as the voice behind the theme song "Out on the Edge" from1985's endearing flick The Heavenly Kid. That alone makes him a legend in my book!
Who can ever forget the sight of the greased-up beefcake saxophone player performing "I Still Believe" on the boardwalk among the barrels of fire in the 1987 classic movie, The Lost Boys. It's an image that has impacted a generation. This week's guest is the man himself, Tim Cappello. This surprisingly kind and funny guy tells us why he never had a solo career (it's hilarious), what it was like working for legends such as Peter Gabriel and Tina Turner, his days starting out as Billy Crystal's musical director, and how he felt about being parodied on Saturday Night Live by Jon Hamm. Get to know the pop culture icon himself!
As big as "hair metal" was in the late-80s, there were very few women singers that were as big as the boys and could hold their own next to them. That is, except for Fiona, who released a string of hard rock albums from the mid-80s to the early 90s scoring a couple moderate hits in the process. She is probably best known for her electric duet with fellow genetic lottery winner Kip Winger, "Everything You Do (Your Sexing Me)" which barely missed the top 40 in 1989. However, what makes Fiona Flanagan truly demand your respect is what all she accomplished when the music career petered out. She had the foresight to enroll in UCLA and become an accountant, which she did for many years before settling down as a mom to raise her kids in New Jersey.
This is an encore presentation of one of our biggest (and many think best) episodes. Because only the last 50 episodes show up in iTunes, I wanted to post this again so it could be accessed more easily. And because I'm super proud of it.
Jai was the stage name of Jason Rowe, who in the 90s recorded one of the great lost albums with Heaven. Referring to his style as "a mod for the hip-hop generation", Heaven produced one of the best singles of the decade with "I Believe" which was a modest hit on alternative radio in 1997. Unfortunately, that was it for Jai, or so I thought. Come to find out, he released one more album under his given name in 2006 called Lovelife which, unfortunately, remains fairly obscure. Despite it all, Jason has managed to consistently make a living through music (in some very unique ways) and isn't shy discussing what went wrong and who's to blame. The best guests are the ones that don't pull any punches and Jason tells it as he sees it. Plus, he recounts one of the best Mick Jagger stories you'll ever hear. Get to know a great artist you may have missed the first time.
This week is the one and only Taco ( yes, that is his real name - Taco Ockerse )! He hit it big in 1983 with his hypnotic take on the classic 'Puttin On The Ritz', which reached #4 that year, and was a bit of a cultural touchstone.
Peter McCann is the man behind the immortal classic, "Do You Wanna Make Love" which was a #5 smash in 1977. He's an admitted one-hit-wonder, but his career is much broader than the one hit. He started out in a folk group called The Repairs who were managed by Andrew Loog Oldham (also of the Rolling Stones) and signed to Motown of all places! Berry Gordy didn't know what to do with them, so they were dropped after two albums. Peter went solo, but learned early on that he much preferred writing songs for other people. In fact, Jennifer Warnes had a #6 hit also in 1977 with his "Right Time of the Night". Peter has been a successful songwriter ever since, penning tunes for artists like the Oak Ridge Boys, Kenny Rogers, and Janie Fricke. One of his songs even made it on Whitney Houston's debut album (which has since sold 30 million copies). He's an exceptionally refreshing guy with a wonderful outlook on the business. He also tells a great story about Christie Brinkley and the Vacation soundtrack!
George Winston is an icon of New Age music (or "rural folk piano" as he calls it) and an American treasure. His beautiful piano songs have become a part of the country's fabric and some of his albums, especially 1982's December, are essential recordings no matter the genre. To me, George has been a mysterious figure, ever present, but never in the limelight. I wanted to get to know the man behind the music. Turns out he's a talkative, gregarious, student of music who has created his own world and plays by his own rules. His definition of success is refreshing. Get to know the man behind the music. And listen to the end for details on how you can get some free CDs.
Neil Taylor has been a hugely successful session guitarist for over 30 years, ever since some of his buddies called him up one day asking if he could rush over to the studio and lay down a guitar solo on a song they were working on. That song was "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" and, of course, the band was Tears For Fears. This began a long and fulfilling career that's seen him work with luminaries such as Morrissey, Peter Gabriel, and Robbie Williams, whom he performed alongside for 10 years. Today, Neil is putting together an excellent solo career that deserves your attention. In this conversation we discuss many of his collaborators (Naked Eyes, Holly Johnson, Johnny Hates Jazz, Howard Jones, Jane Wiedlin, Red Box, Martin Page, Tina Turner, Trevor Horn) and he shares some incredible stories. I love this one a lot.
Our intrepid producer, Jan "The Man" is a huge AC/DC fan, and has been trying to finagle a way to see them for literally years.
In honor of the 30th anniversary of the release of Ferris Bueller's Day Off this month, our guest this week is Ben Watkins, former lead singer of The Flowerpot Men who had that excellent track "Beat City" that was featured heavily in the film. What's really interesting about Ben is that he went on to be a key figure in the electronic and techno scene of the early 90s when he started the hugely successful Juno Reactor, a band that has been going strong around the world ever since. Ben has also contributed heavily to numerous other films, most notably The Matrix sequels. Would you have ever guessed that the same guy would be responsible for iconic tracks on movies as disparate as Ferris Bueller and The Matrix? We also talk about when Juno Reactor served as the backing band for actress Traci Lords when she released her debut album in 1995. So many points of interest with this guy!
The Woodentops were an excellent British alternative pop band of the mid-to-late 80s. However, within just 2 years, they released 3 wildly different albums and then called it quits. The debut, Giant, sounds like what bands such as Prefab Sprout and Let's Active were doing at the time. The second was a live album that was super punky and revved up, and then the proper second album, Wooden Foot Cops on the Highway, was heavily influenced by the Madchester and Baggie scenes of the late 80s. Lead singer Rolo McGinty refers to himself as "schizophrenic" which is exactly right. He talks about what motivates the changing, the various luminaries he collaborated with, and what prompted him to reform the band 25 years later for 2014's excellent Granular Tales album.
Anthony Kaczynski was the lead singer of the great Detroit synth band Figures on a Beach throughout the 80s. They started out as a more avant-garde focused outfit along the lines of early Simple Minds, OMD, and Can, but they eventually put out two major label albums in the late-80s that had a much slicker, synth-pop sound. Unfortunately, success wasn't in the cards (although they did record one of the great alternative singles of the late-80s with "Accidentally 4th Street (Gloria)"). Anthony didn't do much of note musically until the end of the 90s when he started his current band, Fireking, who are one of the great current powerpop acts. Today he has his hands in many different musical projects and he may be busier (and happier) than he's ever been, all the while paying his bills by co-owning a company with his ex-wife. His spirit is infectious, enjoy!
The 90s were the golden era of killer indie rock bands fronted by chicks and one of the best of the bunch was Washington D.C.'s Velocity Girl lead by Sarah Shannon. The band put out three albums in the mid-90s before calling it quits. Sarah got married, moved to Seattle, and embarked a mildly successful solo career before turning her attention away from the music industry. Just then, an opportunity to start a children's rock band called The Not-Its became a reality. Think the power poppy guitar of vintage Velocity Girl mixed with lyrics your children will enjoy. Now, Sarah's back in the rock game, although from a completely different perspective. She's also the mother of two young girls and she shares her views on parenting as a former rock star. Fascinating stuff!
Amanda Blue was the lead singer of one of those great rock and roll with a touch of new wave bands of the late 70s/early 80s called Spider. They cracked the top 40 once in 1980 when "New Romance" reached #39, but after two albums, they changed their name to Shanghai and released one more album before calling it quits and Amanda embarked on a solo career. What might be most interesting about Spider are the many recognizable names that circled their orbit. The band was discovered by Kiss and managed by Bill Aucoin (Gene Simmons also managed Amanda for a while). Also, one of the band members was Holly Knight, who would go on to be one of the most successful songwriters of all time ("Love is a Battlefield", "Simply The Best", "The Warrior", etc). And, the drummer, and Amanda's ex-husband, was Anton Fig, who would land the steadiest gig in music as the drummer for David Letterman's band. Amanda now makes healing her life's mission, which we talk a lot about. Lovely lady with an amazing story.