Listen: Dave Thompson talks with BBC Radio Suffolk

BBC Radio Suffolk chats with Dave Thompson about his new book, Robert Plant: The Voice That Sailed the Zeppelin!

>>Listen Here<<

Robert Plant: The Voice That Sailed the Zeppelin follows the iconic singer through his heights of fame with classic rock giant 00120813Led Zeppelin, his second life as a multimillion-selling solo artist, and his more idiosyncratic pursuits. A wealth of former associates lend their voices and recollections to an account that steps far beyond the tried and tested tales of Zeppelin’s life and times.

This all-new biography details Plant’s early years as an unknown in Birmingham, England, with fresh depth and insight. It likewise tells the Zeppelin story from new and unexpected angles, focusing on Plant’s contributions to the band’s success and on the toll/effect of that success on him as a performer and an individual.

After drummer John Bonham died in 1980 and Zeppelin broke up, Plant went solo two years later, in time becoming the only former band member to maintain an unbroken career to this day. His single-mindedness in meeting this challenge might well be his greatest personal attribute, enabling him to push forward without regard for his past or any related expectations. Dave Thompson shows how it is Plant’s determination alone that ensured Zeppelin reunions would not become a routine part of the classic rock furniture, as he created a body of work that in so many ways artistically rivals what he recorded with the band.

Happy Birthday, Dickey Betts!

Forrest Richard “Dickey” Betts turns 71 years old today!  In celebration, we chose a special excerpt from Scott B. Bomar’s book Southbound in which he introduces us all to Dickey:

00102657When Gregg Allman returned to California to fulfill the Liberty Records contract, Duane kicked around Jacksonville jamming with local players who gathered in Willow Brook Park each Sunday. Butch Trucks was usually there, as was a Chicago-born bassist named Berry Oakley, who was a member of the Second Coming. He’d played lead guitar for a band called the Shaynes in high school, but got a break in 1965 when he joined Tommy Roe’s backing group, the Roemans, and relocated to New Port Richey, Florida. Roe, who is best known for his #1 pop hits “Sheila” and “Dizzy,” eventually fired Oakley. It was then that Berry went to live in Sarasota, where he met a guitarist named Forest Richard “Dickey” Betts.

Dickey Betts was born in West Palm Beach but moved to Sarasota with his family while still in elementary school. He was raised on
the country music of Hank Williams and Lefty Frizzell, and from an early age he was jamming with his father and uncles, all of whom were amateur musicians. “I always said when I was a kid,” Dickey recalled in an interview with Kristen West, “that I was going to play on the Grand Ole Opry.” As a teenager, however, Betts discovered the blues, and his interests turned toward black music. “I used to listen to Chuck Berry almost religiously,” he explained. When Dickey was sixteen he was offered a job playing with a group called Teen Beat in a sideshow with a traveling fair called the World of Mirth. “This guy would bring our band out,” Betts recounted, “and tell all these lies to the people about us. We were pretty good, though.”

At eighteen, Dickey joined an Indiana group called the Jokers that was later immortalized in the first verse of Rick Derringer’s dickey_bettshit “Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo.” Dickey eventually began putting together his own groups and hitting the club circuit back in Florida. “I met Oakley at a club in Sarasota,” Betts remembered. “Pretty soon, Oakley was sitting in a lot, and he and I began to talk about putting something together.” They would go through several incarnations before establishing themselves in Jacksonville as the Second Coming. “Berry and I started with a band called the Soul Children, which later became the Blues Messengers,” Betts recalled, in a 2007 interview with Guitar World magazine. “Eventually Oakley and I . . . went to Tampa . . . and we really started coming up with some very interesting stuff. We were doing a lot of off-the-wall Jefferson Airplane stuff, stuff that was way
out there.” They spent about a year in Tampa before moving on. “By 1967, ’68, we moved to Jacksonville, and our band had become the Second Coming, so named by a club owner because he thought Berry looked like Jesus Christ. . . . The club was called the Scene, and it was the only place in Jacksonville like that, and we were the only people in town with long hair. We’d drive somewhere, and people would throw shit at us!”

Rock-n-Roll.biz Interview with Peter Aaron

In a recent interview, Rock-n-Roll.biz spoke with Peter Aaron about the multi-faceted nature of musician as an artist:

Rock-n-Roll.biz: You also wrote a book about Ramones? I grew up in Forest Hills where Ramones started out and I could tell you I understand the angst and ferociousness of their music to the core. Why did you decide to embark on this project?

I did. Sort of. It’s more of a book about stuff that relates to the Ramones. It’s called If You Like the Ramones… and IYLramonesCoverwas published last year by Backbeat Books as part of the If You Like series. I was in negotiations about doing a book for the series—originally I was going to do If You Like Frank Sinatra…, but Backbeat ran into legal problems with the Sinatra estate and took that project off the table—and the idea of a Ramones book came up, so I jumped on it. In keeping with the IYL concept, the aim is to steer new fans toward the artists and other entities (certain movies, cartoons, comic books, TV shows, etc.) that influenced the Ramones, were influenced by the Ramones, or are connected with the Ramones in some way. Obviously it mostly targets neophytes, but I did try to cover some stuff that even long-time fans might not know about.

Rock-n-Roll.biz: How important is it for a musician to get out of the music world and focus his energies elsewhere? Is it for sanity’s sake or mere detachment?

Very. The music world is like the Island of Misfit Toys. It’s a sanctuary for musician-freaks like me, who was never going to fit into the general population. And yet the music world, especially the underground music scene, is a bubble, an alternate reality that we’ve created to escape the insanity of mainstream society. I don’t at all advocate joining the masses, but I do believe it’s healthy to keep things in perspective by venturing outside your comfort zone and challenging yourself at least once in a while. I can’t help but think of all the interesting music, art, ideas, and people I would have missed had I remained stuck in the same New York rock scene I inhabited in the 1990s—which, from what I can tell, continues to be a largely tail-swallowing environment. Not only does trying new things make you grow as a person, but as a musician it makes what you do richer and more interesting.

Rock-n-Roll.biz: Are there any other arts you are dabbling with? Any more books on the horizon?

FAQ_LOGOwebRight now I’m working another book for Backbeat, The Band FAQ. It’s for their FAQ series, which is more in-depth than the recently discontinued If You Like series. So this one will cover everything connected with the Band and dig more deeply into topics connected with them—the music that influenced the Band and has been influenced by them, but also their history collectively and as individual members; examinations of each of their albums; their time as Ronnie Hawkins’s band, the Hawks; outside figures associated with the group; The Basement Tapes and their years with Bob Dylan; solo albums; their contemporaries and collaborators; their best and worst music; the Toronto and Woodstock scenes they were part of; books; movies; etc., etc. Since I’ve lived in the area that gave birth to Music from Big Pink and The Basement Tapes for over a decade, have covered the local music scene for both the main area newspaper and the arts magazine Chronogram (of which I’ve been the music editor since 2006), and even got to interview Levon Helm, I’m kind of sitting right in the bullseye for this one. I’m also planning an illustrated anthology of the many profiles of Hudson Valley musicians I’ve written over the years, which includes everyone from the Bad Brains to Pete Seeger, Sonny Rollins, Graham Parker, Pauline Oliveros, and others. And of course I’d like to write a memoir, which in addition to my time in the Chrome Cranks and the ’90s Lower East Side scene would cover my participation at the start of the East Coast hardcore scene, my years in the 1980s Boston and Midwest scenes—I was a promoter when I lived in Ohio and booked most of the touring underground bands of the day (Nirvana, Flaming Lips, Pussy Galore, etc.)—and perhaps some of the Hudson Valley stuff.

Check out the rest of the Rock-n-Roll.biz interview with Peter Aaron here: http://rock-n-roll.biz/multifaceted-nature-musician-artist-interview-peter-aaron-chrome-cranks/

Listen: Harvey Kubernik on Masters of Song

Harvey Kubernik was a guest on Lisa Finnie’s Masters of Song program on KCSN. Hear their discussion on Harvey’s new book, Leonard Cohen: Everybody Knows, as well as some samples from Leonard’s newest album!

00126365>>LISTEN HERE<<

No other contemporary songwriter has created a body of work of such consistent quality, and such singular emotional and intellectual brilliance, as Leonard Cohen. His smoke-black vocal style navigates the most sophisticated and arresting of melodies in songs infused with romance, innuendo, and humor.

Arriving at the ’60s pop-music party fashionably late, Cohen released his debut album – Songs of Leonard Cohen – in 1967. At 33 years of age, he was the adult in the room, a room brimming, then as now, with literary pretension and artistic self-importance. But Cohen, already established as a respected poet and novelist, was the real deal. In the decades since, he has battled with drugs, love, and bankruptcy; become a Buddhist monk while simultaneously reaffirming his Jewish faith; and recorded 11 more albums of unfailingly affecting beauty.

Beginning with Cohen the young poet and author in his home town of Montreal and ending with his 2012 release – Old Ideas – and recent acclaimed live performances, Everybody Knowshonors Leonard Cohen’s 80th birthday by celebrating his genius and tracing his rise to stardom through 200 photographs and the thoughts, memories, and reflections of those who have both worked with and been inspired by him.

Book Giveaways

Hal Leonard and Backbeat books have 3 exciting book giveaways! Enter to win copies of 108 Rock Star Guitars, Brian May’s Red Special, and Southbound: An Illustrated History of Southern Rock. Hurry before the contests close!

>>CLICK TO WIN!<<
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Interview with Dave Thompson

The Cleveland Music Examiner posed a few questions about Robert Plant: The Voice That Sailed the Zeppelin. Read more of Dave’s responses here!

Robert Plant: The Voice That Sailed the Zeppelin by Dave Thompson

Rock journalist Dave Thompson doesn’t care how many women Led Zeppelin front man Robert Plantseduced in the Seventies, or what drugs he might’ve consumed during the band’s halcyon years headlining arenas around the 00120813world.

In his latest well-researched biography, “Robert Plant: The Voice That Sailed The Zeppelin” (Backbeat books), Thompson focuses strictly on the music. More specifically, he hones in why Plant was as integral to Zeppelin’s sound as guitarist Jimmy Page, and how the determined singer forged his own distinct path as a soloist after the seminal quartet splintered.

Thanks for talking with us, Mr. Thompson! So, could you tell us a bit about the back-and-forth approach you took for “Voice That Sailed the Zeppelin?” One would think it’d be off-putting, but it works well, and the chapters dovetail nicely between Plant’s past and present.

I think—as I explained a little in the introduction—life, and a career, are not always just A-B-C-D. Things loop around. People always arrive back in the same place they were in before, but hopefully with a little more wisdom and ability to know what to do. And I was just noticing that a lot with Robert Plant. The story has been told. There are Zeppelin books out the wazoo, and there are a few good Plant books around as well. The idea always is, “Robert Plant was born…and he did this, that, and the other thing.” So boring! Because he has not lived his career in what anyone would consider a responsible manner. He’s been very much what he wants, with incredible little regard for the conventions of the music industry. When he left Zeppelin—here’s a great example—he should have done more of what Jimmy Page wanted to do, which was get together with the guys from Yes, and gone off and become The Firm or something.

You mean XYZ (ex-Yes / Zeppelin), the group Page was going to join with Yes bassist Chris Squire. Yeah, that’s probably what Plant’s manager and record company might’ve wanted. A new band, same kind of sound.

Yeah, form any of those horrible super-groups. Because the ‘80s were just littered with those ghastly four-people-from-four-huge-bands thing. And it’s like, “Why are you together? Oh, so you can be a super-group.” He should have done that, and people would have said “Hurrah!” very loudly if he had. But he didn’t want to. You’ve got to admire that. And it was with that admiration, that’s why I didn’t want to write a straightforward beginning-to-end story.

Eric Banister on the Man in Black

Eric Banister, author of Johnny Cash FAQ, had a great discussion with Henry Carrigan of Music Tomes. Read the rest of the interview here!

 

Why did you write this book now?

There’s kind of a two-fold answer for that one. First, the opportunity to write a book in the FAQ 00119344series presented itself. The first artist I thought of was Cash. So the honest answer is that the timing was mostly serendipitous. But that’s not to say I wasn’t passionate about the subject matter. You have to be passionate, in at least some way, about any subject you dive deep enough into to write a book.

How long did it take you to write the book?

I wrote the book in a year. The advantage I had that enabled me to write it so quickly was that I’ve been a Cash fan since grade school. I had already read nearly everything that had been released on Cash. I had collected articles and info on him for years. I had or had heard nearly everything he had released. That gave me an advantage in getting the book turned around quickly.

Your book arrives just about one year after Robert Hilburn’s monumental biography, Johnny Cash: The Life. What distinguishes your book from his?

They are really completely different books. In fact I feel like Johnny Cash FAQ is an excellent companion to Robert’s book. The Life, while it talks a little about the music, focuses on Cash’s personal life (sometimes a little too much, but that’s my opinion) and digs in to the personal relationships that he had throughout his life. There’s a good amount of time spent on his romantic relationships and whom he may or may not have slept with. That’s all well and good, and I don’t mean to take anything away from the book because I did enjoy it, but in the grand scheme of Cash’s legacy, it’s not what will be remembered.

What will be remembered is the music. Johnny Cash will always be remembered as one of the greatest artists of all time, and that’s because of the music. My whole purpose was to look at Cash’s catalog, examine the songs, the song choices, the performances, and put them into a historical context to properly examine them. I spent a lot of time looking at contemporaneous reviews of his albums as they were coming out to see what writers were saying in the moment rather than through the lens of nostalgia.