Few artists formed the culture of the 80s more than filmmaker John Hughes. And a huge ingredient in those films was the music. This week we talk with Tarquin Gotch who served as Hughes' music supervisor on classics like Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Some Kind of Wonderful, She's Having a Baby, and Planes, Trains and Automobiles. He also went on to co-produce films like Home Alone and Uncle Buck. Before working with Hughes, he did many other things in the music industry including A&R man for Warner Bros. where he discovered bands like Wang Chung and the Stray Cats. Today he manages artists like former guest Ranking Roger and AC/DC's Brian Johnson (we talk about what really happened with Brian's departure from the band). Tarquin's life has been one full of music and passion and we talk about what that life has been like. Enjoy!
After beginning his career as a challenging, almost avant garde solo artist, Rupert Hine fell into producing in the early 80s and went on to become one of the most successful of the last four decades. He's put his signature sound on loads of classic artists, but the ones we talk about in here include Saga, The Fixx, Howard Jones, Tina Turner, Kate Bush, Eight Seconds, Thompson Twins, Underworld, Stevie Nicks, Rush and Duncan Sheik. The man is full of fascinating stories that every music lover will gobble up like manna from heaven. Enjoy this colorful conversation with a magnificent artist!
The focus of this podcast has always been how do artists maintain careers in music over the long haul. How do they "pay their bills". And, up til now, we've always talked to musicians about that, but I thought it would be interesting to hear from a regular person who has carved out a career working on the business side of the music business. This is a conversation with my friend Jackie Clary who has worked in the music business for 20 years with stops at MTV and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We'll learn what it's like to work at those places, the culture, brushes with fame, do they pay, and how you continue on in an industry that shrivels up more and more by the day.
Yes, E.G. Daily has been an accomplished actor, voice over artist, and singer/songwriter for over 35 years, but to me she will always be the Queen of the 80s Movie Soundtrack. Her "unmistakable" voice can be heard in decade defining films like The Breakfast Club, Summer School, Scarface, and Better Off Dead, in which she also appeared. Plus, in addition to her own successful solo career, she's collaborated with artists like Giorgio Moroder, Jude Cole, Phil Oakey, Jellybean Benitez and the Cruzados. We discuss her many years in the business, the stories behind many of her songs, what she still wants to accomplish, and her greatest role - motherhood. Enjoy!
Jon and Jan tell what they really thought of the last few guests, plans for the future and answer some listener questions.
The Hustle is turning three this week! And to celebrate our guest is Steve Farris, guitarist for our most requested guests, Mr. Mister! Who would have guessed when that band of session musicians came together that their second album, 1985's Welcome to the Real World, would conquer the globe with the three gigantic hits "Is It Love" and two #1s "Broken Wings" and "Kyrie". Unfortunately, the bond that made Real World happen had grown toxic for the follow up album, 1987's Go On... which flopped mightily. A fourth album was recorded, but by then Steve left, the rest of the guys splintered, and the album never came out. In this candid conversation, Steve talks about his life before and during the band, what made it end, the time he auditioned for Kiss, his time with Eddie Money, playing with Howard Jones, and his life now as an outdoorsman and land developer. Steve is so full of great stories he should have his own show! You guys will love this!
On a recent trip to Texas, Jon was invited to appear on Glory Days Radio with host Paul Underwood. On the show they talked about the Hustle, stories behind some of the episodes, and Jon got to pick some of his favorite songs that feature his favorite "magical moments" in them. Or, as Paul calls it, the part you shush your family when it comes up in the car. You even get to hear from Jon's wife and kids on how they feel about it all. Paul is the best and GDR is a wonderful show. Follow them on facebook so you can hear his episodes every week.
Throughout the 80s and 90s, the Hoodoo Gurus elevated the art of hooky power pop showing a mastery few others of the era could emulate. And though they never landed that deserved crossover hit, they were mainstays on college radio with gems like "Bittersweet", "Come Anytime" and "What's My Scene". Though new releases have been few and far between the last 20 years, they are, rightfully, considered legends in their native Australia and still play shows to rapt audiences. In this conversation, frontman Dave Faulkner discusses their status back home, the evolution of the band, and the stories behind each album. If you didn't know the band well before, get ready to discover some of the best music there is.
Mark Opitz is probably the most important Australian music producer in that country's history. Beginning in the mid-70s with AC/DC's Powerage album, Mark went on to define a generation's worth of rock music with his style he coined "sophisto-punk". In 1978 is produced the Angel's landmark album Face To Face and his legendary status was cemented. From there it was other Australian icons like Cold Chisel, Divinyls and Australian Crawl, as well as global phenoms INXS. Other credits we discuss in this interview are the Hoodoo Gurus, the Ocean Blue and even Kiss. In 2012 Mark published his memoir "Sophisto-punk: The Story of Mark Opitz and Oz Rock" which is an insightful look into all he's accomplished. Over the course of this chat you'll hear some great music and excellent stories.
In the world of ska and the history of British alternative rock of the 70s and 80s, Neville Staple is practically royalty. Coming up with the pioneering Two-Tone group The Specials, Neville and his bandmates not only cut an indelible image stylistically, but politically as well by displaying blacks and whites cohabitating in the same band during a time of political unrest in the UK. After releasing one of the greatest debut albums in history, as well as a more expansive, but worthy follow up, Neville, Terry Hall and Lynval Goulding created the Fun Boy Three which expanded their musical palette even wider. After two albums they too called it quits. Today, Neville reunites with the Specials on occasion, but his primary focus is the Neville Staple Band, who released an excellent album last year called The Return of Judge Roughneck. Neville is a legend and changed a lot of people's lives, including mine!
Filmmaker Blair Foster is a 2-time Emmy winner and co-director of the documentary "Rolling Stone: Stories From the Edge" which chronicles the cultural impact of Rolling Stone magazine and its founder Jann Wenner on it's 50th anniversary. The film, which debuted on HBO last fall, is being expanded and is now available on iTunes and other streaming services. We dissect the format of the film, the choices she and co-director Alex Gibney made, the impact the magazine and its founder have had on popular culture and the life of a documentarian. We also discuss the other music-related documentaries she's worked on including films on George Harrison, James Brown, Frank Sinatra, and the now infamous Eagles documentary.
The Motels were one of the most successful bands to emerge from LA's New Wave scene. Lead by the unique vocals of frontwoman Martha Davis, the band scored three top 40 hits, including "Only the Lonely" and "Suddenly, Last Summer" which both peaked at #9 in 1982 and 1983 respectively and are still mainstays today. Eventually, Martha went solo in the mid-80s, but by then the wave had petered out and the spotlight had moved on. Since then, Martha's remained a draw on the nostaligia circuit, but today she and the Motels are putting their heart and soul behind their brand new album, The Last Few Beautiful Days, which was just released last week. She's a wonderfully open woman and very candid about the ups and downs of life as an artist. Plus, the new album is excellent!
BulletBoys burst on the scene at the height of 80s hair metal with the super sexy "Smooth Up In Ya" in 1988. During the glory days of 80s rock, they partnered with Van Halen producer Ted Templeman on three classic albums before grunge began wreaking havoc on them and everybody else. Though Marq and his band may have slowed down, they never completely went away. They've been enjoying a creative resurgence recently with their excellent comeback album Elefante from 2015 and their brand new disc From Out of the Skies which was released last week. Marq and I discuss his early days in Motown, choosing hard rock over r&b, starting out on the Sunset Strip, and what he did during the band's lean years. He's a really good dude!
Nick Heyward has built a reputation as one of Britain's finest songwriters. His initial success came by fronting Haircut 100 in the early 80s and scoring major hits with "Love Plus One" and "Fantastic Day". Bad vibes led him to leave the band and go out on his own where he had continued success with standards like "Whistle Down the Wind" and "Kite". He's also racked up several excellent solo albums including 2017's wonderful Woodland Echoes, his first disc in almost 20 years. Here we talk about why he left Haircut 100 and how that relatively small period of time has overshadowed the rest of his career in some ways. We also talk about what took him so long to put out another solo album and what he's working on now. He's a beautifully funny and engaging guy and one of the best there's ever been at what he does.
Everybody remembers Ray Parker Jr. taking over the world in 1984 with the Ghostbusters theme. But, there is so much more to his story. He was one of the most sought after session guitarists of the 70s playing with everyone from Stevie Wonder to Marvin Gaye to Seals and Crofts. He also wrote hit songs for artists like Leo Sayer and Rufus with Chaka Khan, not to mention racking up a bunch of his own hits like "The Other Woman" and "A Woman Needs Love (Just Like You Do)" as both a solo artist and as the frontman for his funk band Raydio. As he says in this conversation, "Ghostbusters" was just "gravy on the steak". Here we talk about his whole career, but the big news is that Fran Strine, director of the acclaimed Hired Gun documentary, has begun work on a Ray doc called Who You Gonna Call, which launched an Indiegogo campaign last week. Here is the link to donate. Enjoy!
Jon once again joins Steve and Drew from Suburban Underground to play great songs (Jon's are, anyway) from the side projects of prominent alternative rock stars. We also rip each other new ones in the process. Who do you think comes out ahead with the best taste? And be sure to subscribe to SU on your favorite podcatcher for your weekly alternative mix tape.
In the states, Level 42 may only be seen as two-hit-wonders thanks to the massive success of "Something About You' and "Lessons in Love" in the mid-80s. But around the rest of the world, Level 42 were viewed as a seriously complex group merging funk, r&b, jazz and rock in ways few others have ever done. Founding members bassist Mark King and keyboardist Mike Lindup finally closed up shop in the mid-90s, but reunited in 2006 and have steadily toured the world ever since. In this deep chat, Mike and I go over the band's history, the stories behind some of their songs, his excellent, but under-heard solo album, and what he's up to now. There's also a hilarious Bill Murray story at the end. On a personal note, this is a big one for me as Mike owns my all-time favorite singing voice.
Earth Wind and Fire are one of the greatest and most influential groups in the history of music. It's more than just having hits - they established a level of greatness, of what is possible musically and spiritually, that many have aspired to, but few have reached. Lead by the vision of the late-great Maurice White, the group has torn through the last 45 years leaving a near perfect track record in their wake. Here we have a brief chat with bassist and founding member Verdine White about some of the seminal moments in the band's history, people they've worked with and what they're up to now. Believe me, life's too short to be a casual EWF fan!
Australian rock legends the Church have been an active part of the alternative scene for over 35 years. Their biggest global success may have been when "Under The Milky Way" reached #24 on the US pop charts in 1988, but they've never gone away and even released their 25th album, also one of their best, Man Woman Life Death Infinity last year. Steve's one of the most unfiltered guests we've ever featured on this show and is brutally honest when it comes to his drug addiction, financial state, and opinions about other Aussie bands. You won't believe what you hear!
Seventies rock icons Bad Company received a much-needed shot in the arm when founding members Simon Kirke and Mick Ralphs recruited relative newbie Brian Howe to replace the great Paul Rodgers. By that point, Brian had recently started to breakthrough when he sang on Ted Nugent's Penetrator record. With Brian's help, Bad Company reached a whole new audience and kept the name alive throughout the late 80s and early 90s with Howe-penned hits like "No Smoke Without Fire", "Holy Water" and "How About That". Unfortunately, as is often the case, tensions between Brian and the Mick and Simon duo brought an end to this version of the band and it isn't pretty. Since then, Brian has continued to tour singing the songs he made famous. And, thankfully, he is currently on the mend after a massive heart attack a few months ago. This is a fascinating story behind one of the greatest voices in rock history. Enjoy!
The name Ambrosia has become synonymous with 70s soft rock gold thanks to enduring hits like "How Much I Feel" and "Biggest Part of Me". In truth, the band covered all genres - from prog to pop - during their 5-album run in the late70s - early 80s. Ambrosia's success can largely be contributed to the talent of former lead singer and primary songwriter David Pack. Unfortunately, he and the rest of the guys parted ways some time ago the band is now fronted by the supremely capable Ken Stacey. In this conversation, drummer Burleigh Drummond dispels the golden aura of Southern California rock in the 70s, details the confusion some people have had about their diverse sound, and expresses gratitude for his wife, Ambrosia keyboardist Mary Harris. They also have a wonderful side project called Tin Drum that's worth checking out. Enjoy!
This week it's frontman for THE quintessential "yacht rock" band Pablo Cruise. These days that type of 70s rock has been given that yacht rock label, but back in the day Pablo Cruise just recorded great breezy songs that reminded you of warm nights in the sun and sounded great on the radio. They racked up a bunch of hits between '77 and '81 like "Love Will Find a Way" and "Whatcha Gonna Do" before eventually calling it quits. Thanks to the never-ending thirst for their sunny sound, Pablo Cruise remain a popular live draw to this day. David also works closely with his wife, the excellent singer-songwriter Jaime Kyle. In this chat we learn about where the name of the band came from, what Dick Clark is like when the cameras are off and what former guests he knows well. Also, I need you to help me clarify whether or not Ben Stiller wore a Pablo Cruise shirt in the movie Greenberg. Enjoy!
Do we really need to list the accomplishments of John Oates? No way, he's been omnipresent in the best way for over 40 years. But, this last year he's really stepped out on his own. First off, he's releasing a new solo album, Arkansas, this Friday, Feb. 2nd! His recent move to Nashville has greatly influenced this latest offering which is a charming gumbo of rustic Americana and blues and bluegrass music. Also, last year he published his memoir, Change of Season, a wonderfully engaging read for all Hall and Oates fans. In this engaging chat we cover the album, the book, some Hall and Oates, and the stories behind some of his best H&O tunes. Enjoy!
Buffalo Tom were (and remain) one of the most critically-acclaimed bands of the last 30 years. Starting out in Boston in the late 80s under the tutelage of J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr., Buffalo Tom really hit their stride in the early 90s with hallmark albums like 92's Let Me Come Over and 93's Big Red Letter Day featuring classic tracks like "Taillights Fade" and "Soda Jerk". Unfortunately, despite appearing on the TV show My So-Called Life, racking up a devout following and attracting a host of famous fans, they never quite crossed over. Frontman Bill Janovitz spends the first part of this conversation discussing why that is and what the arc of the band has been. His deep education on rock history contextualizes that arc in unique ways. But, then we start debating the current state of rock music criticism, the enduring mystique of Exile on Main St. (he wrote a book on the subject) and even the Red Sox. It's a little bit of everything! Oh, and they have a new album coming out in a few weeks - Quiet and Peace. Check it out!
The Dazz Band were one of the best and most innovative funk and r&b acts of the 70s and 80s. They started out in Cleveland as Kinsman Dazz ("danceable jazz") putting out two successful albums produced by EWF's Philip Bailey (who stepped in when Marvin Gaye had to back out). They shortened their name when they signed with Motown and kicked off a string of hits on the r&b charts over the next decade. The band only crossed over to the pop Top 40 once when "Let It Whip" rose to #5 in 1982. That track still cooks! Eventually, success slowed down, but the Dazz Band has always been in play and they still perform many shows a year. Through it all, founding member and musical director Bobby Harris has been at the helm, absorbing every up and down. Here's his story!
Danielle Dax was an artist in the truest sense of the word. Yeah, she had a successful music career during the 80s, but that was just one facet of her boundless creativity. Her career started with an avant-garde group called the Lemon Kittens when she didn't even know how to play an instrument. Experimentation and performance art remained her guiding force as her solo career took off and she garnered radio play on alternative stations with tracks like "Big Hollow Man", "Cat House", and "The Id Parade". Unfortunately, at the dawn of the 90s she largely disappeared from the spotlight and has never really come back. We learn in this conversation what happened (it's a hot current topic), as well as what motivated her creativity and how she experiences music. It's fascinating to hear from such a strong female artist.
Sadly, we learned last week that the listener that requested Danielle, Brian Jenson, took his own life on New Year's Eve, bringing a tragic tone to an otherwise uplifting conversation.
For a duo with a hit as big as "Let's Go All The Way" was in 1986, there should be more to the Sly Fox story than there is. Brought together in an almost "boy band" fashion, Michael Camacho and Gary "Mudbone" Cooper only managed one album that featured one giant hit (#7 in 1986) and that was all she wrote. To this day, their one album, also titled Let's Go All the Way, has never been released on cd. This week Michael tells us how the band came together, what that brief moment in the spotlight was like, and what he's been doing since, which includes his solo jazz album Just For You from 2006.
Chicago's Brad Elvis is both a power pop legend and a lifer. His career goes back 45 years and has passed through several excellent bands along the way. After coming up through the local ranks with piers like Cheap Trick, his first brush with greatness was drumming for the tragically short-lived Screams. After the band ended in 1980, he went on to form and play in the Elvis Brothers throughout the 80s, Big Hello in the 90s and has been focused on the Handcuffs with his wife, lead singer Chloe Orwell, for most of the 2000s. In addition, his "day job" has been drumming for the Romantics for the last 15 or so years. He's seen and been through a lot and has managed a reputation as one of the best drummers in power pop along the way.
There was a New Wave revolution happening in rock music in the late 70s and the poster boy for it was the bespectacled Elvis Costello and his band of Attractions, which included our guest this week bassist Bruce Thomas. While the band was leading a new charge, the various members were also sorting out a dynamic that saw Elvis rise as their clear leader, a move that never sat well with Bruce. Over the years, tensions mounted and Bruce eventually left the band. All of this, as well as his own musical and personal history, are included in Bruce's book Rough Notes which came out last year. Here we talk about what's at the heart of the dysfunction, our conflicted feelings about Elvis, and Bruce's new career as a prolific writer. Also, he's one of the world's experts on Bruce Lee of all people! Pick up the book and enjoy the ride!
Regular listeners know how much the Smithereens mean to me. Sadly, frontman Pat DiNizio passed away at 62 on Tuesday night after suffering through poor health for many years. To discuss what the band meant to us we bring on musician John Montagna and share stories, interactions, and impact. What was supposed to be a 30 min chat turned into a 75 min discussion! It's hard to stop when two guys talk about what means most to them. And please check out John's podcast Radio 418. It's very similar to ours - conversations about music, careers, and stories with other professionals.
The 80s were the decade of the movie montage. And one of the classics is from Revenge of the Nerds when the guys find a frat house and begin fixing it up to the tune of "One Foot in Front of the Other" by a band called Bone Symphony. Our guest this week, Scott Wilk, was the lead singer of Bone Symphony and before that he fronted his own New Wave rock group called Scott Wilk + the Walls, where his sound drew regular comparisons to Elvis Costello. Later on that decade he partnered up with a young Charlie Sexton and became his keyboardist during those formative years. Today he makes a living scoring movies and TV as well as other kinds of media and corporate production. If you find 80s movie soundtracks as fascinating as I do, you won't want to miss this chat!
Mega-producer Steve Thompson's career goes back 40 years and includes every genre of music from disco to heavy metal to alternative to hip-hop. Along the way he's collected 7 Grammy Awards for his work with artists such as Paul Simon, Whitney Houston, Blues Traveler and Korn. The two notorious projects he gets asked about the most are GnR's Appetite for Destruction and Metallica's ...And Justice For All. But, I wanted to chat with Steve about the alternative and pop side to his career. We hear stories about artists including Tears For Fears, Talk Talk, David Bowie, and the Psychedelic Furs, as well as interesting tidbits on legends like the Grateful Dead, Aretha Franklin and Mick Jagger. He even plays us some new stuff he's working on. This one's packed to the gills with music he either produced, mixed, or remixed. Plus, he's quite a character. Enjoy!
This week we are going deep on one of the most iconic songs ever. "867-5309/Jenny" hit #4 on the US charts back in 1982 and has never left the public consciousness. It has to be the most famous phone number in history. First up this week we talk to the man who wrote that song, Alex Call. Alex began in the band Clover dating back to the height of the Haight/Ashbury days in San Francisco. Also notable about Clover is this is where a young Huey Lewis begins his career as well. By the early 80s, the band was over, Huey had moved on, and Alex was desperate for some success of his own. Luckily, he wrote this track, as well as hits for Pat Benatar, Southside Johnny and his old pal, Huey. He's still making music today. After Alex we hear from Tommy Tutone himself and how that song has affected his life. Tommy was never able to reach those heights again and has had a primary job in computers for around 25 years now. These days he plays the occasional nostalgia show and is brutally honest about the ups and downs of his life. These two are pretty fascinating!
Though Chris McLernon was the bassist for hard rockers Saigon Kick during much of the 90s, his often hilarious story really begins in the late 80s when his first band Cold Sweat threw their hat in the hair metal ring and whiffed. They had it all - the hair, the spandex, the pyro - but it didn't take. Luckily, he got a second shot when he was asked to join Saigon Kick during a tumultuous time in the band's career. Though they never completely broke big, they managed massive success in parts of Asia and continue to play large shows there to this day. Chris tells stories of befriending Eddie Van Halen, getting to know the Kiss guys while playing in a tribute band, and what it's like being a nobody in the US and a somebody on the other side of the world. He's an extremely entertaining, self-aware and intelligent guy, not to mention a laugh-out-loud storyteller. Enjoy!
Hired Gun is one of the best rock docs of the last couple years. It details the realities of life as a struggling musician whose career is dependent on being employed by big artists. Imagine you go from nothing to being someone like Billy Joel's drummer. You now fly first class, stay in fancy hotels, and play in front of hundreds of thousands of people. Then, Billy decides to go a different direction and you're not only out of a job, but unlikely to ever find a gig as good as the one you just had. It's not an easy way to live, supporting the artists that get all the perks. In this conversation with the film's director Fran Strine, we talk about how he stumbled on this topic, how he got so much great access, and elaborates on some of the film's highlights. AND, stay tuned to the end so you can learn how to win your own copy of Hired Gun on Blu-Ray. Enjoy!
The Call were one of the preeminent alternative bands of the 80s and early 90s. They never quite cracked the top 40, but had several hits on college radio like "Let The Day Begin", "Everywhere I Go" and "The Walls Came Down". Regular listeners know of my affection for the Lost Boys soundtrack, well they were the originators of "I Still Believe" which was covered excellently by former guest Tim Cappello (there's a great story about it in here). The band came to an end in the 90s and frontman Michael Been focused his attention on helping his son Robert's band Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (one of my favorite bands of the last 20 years) get going. Unfortunately, after a BRMC gig on August 19, 2010 Michael died suddenly of a heartattack, bringing a tragic end to a great band. This week we talk to Call keyboardist Jim Goodwin about life in the band, the aftermath of Michael's death, and what he's been doing since. Enjoy!
To me, the Smithereens are the greatest American band of all time. And while each member deserves credit for being exceptional at what they do, a large part of the magic of the Smithereens is found in the sound and riffs of guitarist Jim Babjak. Here we talk about their flirtation with having hit records ("A Girl Like You" reached #38 in 1989 and "Too Much Passion" hit #37 is 1992), the financial struggles of being a respected niche band, how he survived their long dry spell, his solo material, and the challenges of normal life (Jim lost his wife Betty to cancer last year).
Bottom line - few people mean more to me than this band and their music. Enjoy!
Surely, when Lol Tolhurst was growing up in the English suburb of Horley with his mate Robert Smith and the two decided to start a band, they couldn't have known the cultural impact they would have on millions of people throughout the world. Unfortunately, just as the Cure was cementing its place as alternative rock legends, Lol was spiraling downward with drugs and drink, ultimately getting himself kicked out of the band around the time of the their 1989 masterpiece Disintegration. Lol detailed his rise, fall and recovery in his 2016 memoir "Cured: The Tale of Two Imaginary Boys" and agreed to chat with us about it!
Since Halloween is next week and we have a very special guest lined up, I thought I'd repost my chat with Gerard McMahon (G Tom Mac) from 2015 because 1) it seems fitting since he's the man behind "Cry Little Sister" from the Lost Boys soundtrack, 2) the Lost Boys turned 30 this year, 3) there is some very exciting news in the G Tom Mac world happening right now that we might be talking to him about again soon regarding the Lost Boys Musical he's current working on, and 4) it's one of my favorites.
The Trashcan Sinatras have been one of the most respected British pop bands of the last 30 years. Though they've only released six albums in that time, each one is an exercise in perfection and craft including last year's blissful Wild Pendulum. All the accolades in the world, however, don't make it easy being a cult band. Here, guitarist John Douglas and I discuss their current acoustic tour, the bands they came up with, the stories behind each album, and their writing process. If you're not already deeply familiar with them and the joy they provide, your life will change starting now!
Alannah Myles struck gold in 1989 when her gigantic hit "Black Velvet" reached #1 in the US. The song won her a Grammy for Best Female Rock Performance and achieved radio spins of over 5 million. It should have been smooth sailing from here, yet it wasn't. While she's mum on some of the details to protect the living, it's clear from her story that she has not had an easy road in the music business. In the wake of shining a light on abusive men in power like Harvey Weinstein and Donald Trump, you can imagine the kinds of things she may have been subjected to. Basically, this interview has to be heard to be believed.
As is our tradition, in the wake of the shocking death of Tom Petty we bring back our resident Dr. Death - Steve Spears of the Stuck in the 80s podcast to make sense of it all.
In the 80s bassist Matthew Seligman was a part of some of the best alternative music coming out of England. Within the span of just a few months he managed to join the Soft Boys near the end of their run and Thompson Twins near the beginning of theirs. And shortly thereafter he forged longstanding partnerships with Robyn Hitchcock and especially Thomas Dolby, contributing to the excellent music they were producing during that decade. While this was happening, his expertise served additional artists ranging from Morrissey and Peter Murphy to the Waterboys and Transvision Vamp. He even performed with Bowie at Live Aid. As the 90s wore on, Matthew decided to turn his attention to the law and he is now a barrister in London. We discuss some of his biggest collaborations, some of the personalities involved, and his decision to leave music.
Anyone over the age of 40 probably grew up watching Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood where we learned valuable life lesson's, visited the Land of Make Believe, and interacted with his cast of characters like Mr. McFeely, Lady Aberlin, Chef Brockett and, of course, Joe "Handyman" Negri. What you may not know is that Joe is a highly-respected jazz guitarist in the mold of Django Reinhardt and at 91 years old, continues to perform and collaborate with jazz luminaries like Michael Feinstein. We didn't have much time, but I wanted to get to know him better and learn about what life was like in Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, his musical career, and his time in education.
Prior to being the drummer of the legendary Surf Punks, Dennis Dragon earned his bona fides co-producing a little song his brother Daryl was working on with his wife, Toni. Well, that tune became "Love Will Keep Us Together" and Daryl and Toni became the Captain and Tennille. The success from that song propelled him to a long career in production and audio-engineering, but along the way he befriended Drew Steel and the two started the Surf Punks almost as a lark. Their 1980 debut album My Beach became an underground benchmark for teenage boys everywhere. Sadly, we learned the morning this episode is being released, that Dennis passed away on Sept 25th, two months after this interview took place. You'll hear that he was as lively and nutty as ever with no signs of poor health. As of today, the cause of death has not been released. We are glad we did our small part in honoring him before he left us.
Nelson basically owned 1990 and '91. But, despite having four top 40 hits and selling five million copies of their debut album After The Rain, the Nelson twins, Matthew and Gunnar, couldn't get a follow up released for five years and by then tastes had changed and the moment had passed. Still, the brothers have carried on entertaining crowds playing their own music, doing Christmas concerts, and even performances showcasing their famous dad Rick's material. They've never gone away, show business is in their blood after all. Today, After the Rain will be re-released on vinyl, making those songs rife for rediscovery. Matthew discusses how their careers were affected by grunge, how the image overwhelmed their talent at times, and what the plans are for the near future. He's a total pro!
Everyone remembers Kiki Dee for her #1 duet with Elton John, "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" from 1976. But, did you know she is approaching 55 years in the music business? After starting out as a teenager with singers like Dusty Springfield, she "rocketed" to stardom when she was signed to Elton's Rocket Records in the early 70s (after a stint at Motown) and eventually topped the charts. Though there have been ups and downs, she's stayed at it all these years. For the last several years she's been collaborating with musician Carmelo Luggeri on a string of soulful albums that incorporate more global textures. She's a sweet lady that doesn't do a lot of interviews, so we're especially lucky to have her!
After bursting out in the early 80s with one of the greatest debuts in modern rock history, and, thus, rock critics falling all over him as the next big thing, Marshall Crenshaw has settled into a career as a sort of highly respected cult artist. He may not be the household name his fans think he deserves to be, but he's forged a steady career playing by his own rules and gaining mounds of street cred in the process. Here we talk about the decision to work with producer Steve Lilywhite on his second album Field Day (which has just been remastered and reissued on vinyl), the tensions between him and Warner Bros., the movies he's worked on like La Bamba and Walk Hard, and some of his collaborators (Gin Blossoms, Was (Not Was), Smithereens). It is not a stretch to say that Crenshaw is one of the greatest songwriters of the modern era and a true national treasure.