I’ve had the pleasure of writing many articles for Rolling Stone Italy and wanted to share them with all of my dolls! <3
Rolling Stone Column # 12: Jesus Christ Superstar
Rolling Stone Column # 13: Keith Moon: Hurtling Elephants of a Sort
Rolling Stone Column # 66: South By Sensational
Rolling Stone Column # 67: Back Seat Bliss
Rolling Stone Column # 69: Jack White – The Seventh Son
Rolling Stone Column # 70: 1969 ~ Let The Sunshine In
Rolling Stone Column # 71: Just Like A Woman
Rolling Stone Column # 72: Kiss & Tell Ace Frehley
Rolling Stone Column # 73: Reflections On America’s First Teenager
Rolling Stone Column # 74: Dylanisms
Rolling Stone Column # 75: A Week in the Life of the World’s Most Famous Groupie
Rolling Stone Column # 76: Golden Groupies Goddesses
Rolling Stone Column # 76a: ‘Scuse Me While I Kiss The Sky
Rolling Stone Column # 78: Another Sweetheart in Rock & Roll Heaven
Rolling Stone Column # 79: Musicians Make Better Lovers
Rolling Stone Column # 80: Altamont Revisited and a Confession
Rolling Stone Column # 81: Raw Power
Rolling Stone Column # 82: Nightmare & the Cat
ROLLING STONE COLUMN # 12
JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR
And now for something completely different…
A few years ago, I was front an center for a West End production of Jesus Christ Superstar in London, and as the sexy boy playing Jesus dragged the cross around the stage in his loincloth, I realized I was getting all turned on. Blaspehemy?! No, not really. Where in the bible did it say that Jesus was a celibate? I wrestled with this question most of my early life, and finally made peace with the Lord quite some time ago. I consider Jesus to be the first rock star and Mary Magdalene, his muse, was the first groupie.
I’ve had an inner itch as far back as I can remember. When I was a little girl, the only possible solution to assuage this ever-present confusing longing was to offer my sinning little self to Jesus and become Born Again. There were no other options in Reseda, California the summer of 1955.
At eight years old, I went to Hume Lake Christian camp, and was forced to pray out loud, voicing my pathetic little-girl confessions to all and sundry. One perfect foresty Sunday morning, after making a little jewelry box for my Mom out of Popsicle sticks, I decided to take the Lord as my personal savior. I had to. The pressure was ironing me flat. After roll-call and the “Safe Am I” (in the hollow of His hand) song, I headed down the dusty, outdoor aisle like I was walking a gangplank to nowheresville. All eyes on me – about to take the spooky dive into religious oblivion. With each step I knew how Jesus must have felt as he carried the heavy cross through the jeering throng. But what would it feel like after I handed my sorry, skinny self over to the Lord – humbling myself in the blinding blaze of his halo? Would colors be brighter? Would rays of sunshine light my way like in the pictures on the Sunday School walls? Would it feel like I was taking a long, hot bubble bath inside my skin? What about the persistent guilt that I had done something very wrong just by being born? Would that hot shame be yanked from my heart? And would His radiant face greet me upon waking each morning? What about nighttime? If I really should die before I woke up – would the clouds of Heaven be opened unto me?
When I finally reached the grinning pastor and announced in a quaking, squeaky voice that I was ready to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal savior, I squeezed my eyes shut in anticipation. But no bells chimed in the wilderness, no trumpets hooted, no choir sang Halellieuja for the Barbie-loving, scabby-kneed third grader who offered herself upon the invisible altar of kiddie redemption.
It was over almost before it began. The camp children yelped with glee, congratulating me for taking the Holy Plunge, but I didn’t feel any different. In fact, I felt like I had been manipulated and coerced. Which only pointed out how deep down wayward and unredeemable I really was — at almost nine years old.
What would become of me?
In retrospect, it was sort of like the first time I had sex. “What? Is-this-all-there-is?” My remorse quadrupled because I didn’t feel the Lord crawl into my sinful babyheart and take up instant residence.
The bible said we were all born in sin, right? And Jesus had nails hammered into His hands (actually His wrists) so that we might live, right? Why didn’t I feel more alive and righteous now that my sins had been taken away? I must have done it wrong! right? Woe woe woe. I was in absolute swaddling turmoil, but the young, shiny-faced pastor had done his all-important duty and didn’t seem to notice. He had brought an inherent sinner to Jesus. Had he heard thunder-claps when he served his soul up to the Lamb? I figured Jesus was called the Lamb because until He came along, early bible people had to sacrifice baby beasts to atone for their sins. I would have gone to Hell for sure if I had lived in Old Testament times. I couldn’t even eat veal or lamb, and always asked my mom if the lump of flesh before me at the dinner table had been a baby or a grown up. She always told me the truth. I ate a lot of vegetables.
I have to tell you here that parents didn’t go to church. My dad’s Pop Miller had been a hellfire and brimstone Pentecostal preacher, so O.C. Miller stayed as far way from the good book as he could get, and mom had an inner ease that kept her home on Sunday mornings. This was all my own doing.
A scary little Sunday school poem has stuck with me all these years.
“You are new-born Christians
You must learn to fight
With the bad within you
And to do the right.”
Yikes. Not too much pressure on a little kid.
After being Saved as a youngster, I continued to supplicate myself to Jesus, but it felt like fiction. I didn’t hear Him calling me. Was I deaf? or something much worse? His pictures adorned my walls — beatific and supplicant, like He never had any fun. Slowly the faces of Elvis, Dion, and then the Beatles took their places alongside His face, but my guilt raged due to newly-hatched hormones full of lusty desire. What would our devout redeemer think about old swivel-hips? Suave Mr.Teenager in love? The shaggy-haired Liverpudlians? Was fun even allowed??
All the perplexing years of juvenile turmoil came to a simmering boil one Sunday morning when my pastor said that dancing was a sin. I was fourteen years old. Up until then I thought I just might be able to live my life as a good Christian girl, marry the right God-fearing boy, and get through the whole earthly ordeal — but something intrinsic within me knew that dancing was not a sin. I pored through the Good Book looking for a passage that could thwart Pastor Kenny’s outrageous proclamation, but the closest I could find was “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord.” And move your feet to it.
I had started going to the local Teen Center and soon found I could dance my ass right off. Everything that was bugging me disappeared when I was in that natural state of rhythmic grace. Dancing felt more like prayer than prayer did. Not to mention how the music made me feel. Despite the steady drip-drop of guilt, it wasn’t long before the Beatles, the Byrds and the Stones became my gods, the Whiskey a Go Go my place of worship. I had affairs with rock stars, dropped orange sunshine, danced half naked up and down the Sunset Strip. But still hopelessly conflicted about my libertine lifestyle, I wore my crucifix and confessed my sins out loud.
I discovered Paramahansa Yogananda and my worried heart started to feel a bit better. Though my mind continued to roil, Yogananda’s clean Hindu philosophy was a breath of lotus-scented air from on high. And when Jesus was quoted, His words weren’t threatening, but uplifting and unpolluted. Could this be the same Savior? I started to get an inkling that perhaps the Church put shackles on their own Lamb, sacrificing Him again and again, pressing the crown of thorns deeper so the blood would just keep on coming. I made tentative baby steps back in His direction, thanks to Yogananda.
Praise God dancing felt so good. I just knew Jesus couldn’t frown upon such a glorious expression of joy. I also knew He loved women and outcasts, so I was safe. It took me years of research and study, but I came to the happy conclusion that Jesus loves me just the way I am. He was/is all about love and that’s all you need.
ROLLING STONE COLUMN # 13
Keith Moon: Hurtling Elephants of a Sort
I get loads of MySpace and Facebook messages daily, from fans of all ages, expounding on the glory of my classic rock friends and lovers. Since I touched the hem of their garments (and various other parts of their crushed velvet clothing) these adoring fans feel the need to share that love and admiration with someone who was THERE. Here is a message I got this morning from a rock drummer in Argentina, which set me off into thoughts about one of my favorite long gone rock god boyfriends – the best drummer whoever held sticks, the Who’s Keith Moon:
“Just passing by to say hello and to tell you that you still Rocks!!! PAMELA RULES::::::::::LONG LIVE ROCK…!!
( Just Another son of Keith Moon! )”
Before Keith Moon there were drummers. After Keith Moon there were DRUMMERS. He upped the ante in so many ways, not the least of which was how he made the world take notice of the drum kit in a brand new fashion. He was basically a frontman drummer. Fans watched the magnificent flailing perfection of Keith Moon as much as they did Daltrey or Townshend, and he made sure of that in the biggest way humanly possible. He single handedly (double-handedly, actually) reinvented the art of playing drums.
Keith did everything in life in that same bombastic, gigantic way. He lived his mere 31 years always diving into the deep end, (sometimes taking a Rolls Royce along with him) often cracking his skull into smithereens, then laughing out loud about it. Whenever he left Los Angeles after our few days or weeks of endless shenanigans, I had to go to my mom’s house and recuperate like Keith had given me a life-threatening illness. I could barely raise my head off the pillow, but he never stopped. Until he stopped for good.
I met the generous, hysterical, brilliant madman on the set of Frank Zappa’s movie, “200 Motels.” He was playing an ersatz, horny nun, complete with big white habit, crawling through the startled orchestra, interrupting the proceedings just like he usually did in real life.
I was a ripe 22 years old, and we hit it off immediately. A few months later, when he turned up in Los Angeles on tour with his band, we starting carousing, despite the fact that I was entangled with the yummy young actor, Don Johnson. Mr. Moon was just irresistible – especially when he made sure I was positioned very close to his drum kit during the majestic performance of “Tommy” at the Hollywood Bowl. Being on stage with a band of that pomp and magnitude is not easy to describe. It’s as close to being IN the band as possible. The feeling pouring onto the stage from the avid audience members is like being in the third eye of the storm, awash in multi-colored awestruck adoration. After he left town, Don and I patched it up, but whenever the Who came to town Keith claimed me as his L.A. girlfriend and we were inseparable.
I have many memories of my darling Mr. Moon. He loved to wear my clothes in the middle of the night, frolicking naughtily in my high-heeled shoes. He took me shopping for record albums on Hollywood Boulevard, dramatically increasing my collection of groovy LPs. He paid for me to join the Screen Actor’s Guild when I wanted to become an actress. His heart was shattered when he mistakenly ran over his roadie with his Rolls during a frightening fan melee. He never got over the death of his friend, and was guilt-ridden over it until the end. Many times I had to comfort him while he wailed about being ‘a murderous fuck.’ His sad side was as deep and wide as his remarkable capacity for unbridled joy.
He had the most beautiful dimpled smile, a little space between his front teeth. He loved surf music and was delighted when I introduced him to Dean Torrance of Jan & Dean. He toted around a little portable record player so he could turn people on to the California sound that lit him up like a firecracker. He spent money more freely than anyone I’ve ever known and enjoyed every single sip of his beloved 100 year-old cognac.
One early morning, Keith awoke with a start, sat straight up and hollered “Hurtling elephants of a sort!!!” I soothed his wacky brow and he fell fitfully back to sleep. The next afternoon at the airport, before his plane took off, he dashed into a little store and came out with a gorgeous stuffed elephant, which I still have. But my favorite Keith Moon story is a silly one. An innocent prank among his many indelicate, well-known capers. We were staying at the Century City Hotel, since he had been kicked out of all the hotels in Hollywood. He was registered as a count from a non-existent country, and I distinctly recall him sitting in a massive gilt chair wearing a long ermine robe, when he suddenly jumped up and told me to stand out on the balcony so I could “watch what happens.”
I did as I was told and a few minutes later, I saw Keith stealthily approach the massive water fountain in front of the hotel, dump in a box of powder and impishly trot away. Soon he was beside me on the balcony and together we watched the havoc ensue. Within moments, reams of frothy bubbles began spewing sky high from the fountain, roiling and burbling down the wide streets, stopping traffic in both directions. People were agog and aghast, confused and startled, amazed and confounded, surprised and bemused, shocked and outraged — And Keith Moon wouldn’t have had it any other way.
ROLLING STONE COLUMN # 66
South by Sensational
Every Spring for the last 16 years I have been taking the three hour Southwest Ailines flight to Austin, Texas to revel in all the musical merry-making at the massive week-long South by Southwest Music Festival. It was at a Robert Plant press conference at this exciting event 3 years ago when I stood up and asked the Golden God if he still had groupies. My old friend’s eyes popped out of his head and he swooped me up in a yummy embrace and I spent the next several days in his thrilling company while he squeezed his lemon all over the Lonestar state. I adore Austin, one of my homes away from home. Texas is George Bush country for sure, but THIS town voted for Obama — the only spot of blue in an extremely red state.
This year I arrive at SXSW with my ex husband, Michael to stay at my ex boyfriend, Jimmy Thrill’s newly acquired Graceland style manse up in the Austin hills next to a wild animal park, where zebras frolic outside my bedroom window.
Did I mention I am meeting my current boyfriend, country-singer, Mike Stinson here as well? We all stay in Jimmy’s divine country palace together, getting along famously as usual. What can I say? I am a modern woman after all. As we’re settling in, we get quite a surprise when another old pal, Steve Jones from the Sex Pistols, shows up at the door, having driven in from Los Angeles on a trip around the U.S. Soon the house is jammin’ with endless guitar riffs and loads of raucous, ribald humor.
The first day of the fest, I rise early to handle some rock & roll interviews at the local TV station. To my utter delight, my very first chatterbox is none other than icon Exene Cervenka of X fame. She has a new solo album coming out on the very trendy Americana label, Bloodshot Records and is in town to sing some of her new tunes. After we bond in front of the TV cameras, I suggest that Exene join Michael and I in presenting an award at the Austin Music Awards that evening and she happily agrees. Later when she walks onstage to overwhelming loving applause, she proudly hands over an award to old comrades, The Dicks, and swoons over cult hero, Roky Erickson’s wild performance. I have made a new galpal and suddenly have the bright idea of asking the punk goddess to read with me at my book signing the following evening. Once again, she happily agrees! Lucky Miss Pamela!
My reading takes place at Amelia’s, the town’s finest vintage clothing store, where I sit in an antique rattan chair fit for a queen and read about the Beatles from ‘I’m With the Band.’ I choose the opening of the Tura Satana/Elvis chapter from my latest tome ‘Let’s Spend the Night Together,’ for Exene to read, and her sultry rendition titillates the crowd: “when I was barely old enough to discern the dusky difference between the sexes, I dreamed about Elvis, his perfect greasy quiff, his smoky cheekbones and rebellious insouciance defined a generations desire…Years before puberty caught me between the legs, Elvis’s unfettered carnal purity gave me a spine-shiver of my destiny…”. I am slightly overwhelmed; it is so revelatory, hearing words I have written read so vividly and eloquently.
In between my boyfriend, Mike’s groovy, well-attended gigs, I manage to check out many scintillating bands, new and old. The standouts are a snazzy new group of renowned musicians called Tinted Windows, the always-outrageous Devo, Exene, and a mash-up consisting of iconic singer/songwriter Jimmy Webb and his 4 handsome young sons, the Webb Bothers. I stand agape, front and center while the elder Mr. Webb sings a bunch of his magnificent world-class songs, including ‘Wichita Lineman’ and ‘Galveston,’ to an every-age jam-packed crowd of groovers. I actually get chills a couple of times. I can’t help myself, I’ve always adored a genius.
Tinted Windows was masterminded by Bun E. Carlos from Cheap Trick, who bangs away beautifully on the drums, along with James Iha from Smashing Pumpkins on Guitar and luscious blond sweetie, Taylor Hanson from the gifted teeny pop group Hanson, expertly handling lead vocals. From the whooping crowd reaction to their bright big sound, I predict that this particular ensemble is destined for the Big Time.
People are focusing intently as Exene strums her acoustic and brings her devoted fans into her deeply romantic psyche. After the set I ask how she feels, “My favorite comment was that the new songs are great to be stoned to,” she laughs, “and the best compliment for me was that people were very intently listening to my words!”
I just love being with groups of music-loving folks, dancing and rocking out; when we are all one big beating, glowing rock & roll heart, and this happens over and over and over again every year at South By Southwest. There is so much amazing music that I am always dizzy and stoned myself by the end of the week.
Yes, the crowds go wild, but the biggest over-the-top response is saved for those grand old maestros of madness, Devo, as they prove that it’s not too late to whip it, whip it, whip the whole damn audience into shape. Ageless deviants in white jumpsuits and layered cone hats reminding everybody exactly how it’s done. And I’m in the center of the cyclone, in the middle of the musical maelstrom, grateful and glad all over to be alive.
ROLLING STONE COLUMN # 67
BACK SEAT BLISS
I got my first dramatic big-girl kiss in the backseat of a snazzy 1958, two-tone, metal-flake, candy-apple green Pontiac Bonneville, and I’ve been on a search for the very same car ever since. I can still see the sleek chunks of chrome glimmering and glinting in the California sunlight as it sat parked in front of my house, lowered to the ground like a pissed-off neon panther. It belonged to Dino, a dangerous lead singer with slicked-back, greasy black hair. Sinking into the plush lust-nest, I got a sloppy wet kiss from Dino’s wicked guitar player, Robby, while my friend Andrea had her teenage lips crushed by Mr. Dangerous Car Owner himself. The windows steamed up for privacy like shades being pulled down while we enjoyed a taste of the forbidden. Yum yum yum. Thus began my blazing romance with the backseat. Not to mention guitar players.
There’s nothing more titillating, tantalizing or promising that the back seat. Jim Morrison got behind the wheel of my ’62 Oldsmobile one exotic Hollywood night, and I wrapped myself around him while we cruised the Sunset Strip, inhaling naughty substances, blasting the radio and picking up delighted hitchhikers. But when it came time to fondle and nuzzle, the backseat beckoned, and the Lizard King crawled over the front seat and pulled me into our own private four-wheeled passion pit.
My ass graced the backseats of many swank limousines during the mighty slayday of rock and roll. When Led Zeppelin thundered into town, the sleek, gleaming beauties sat outside the Continental Hyatt House Hotel, purring quietly, ready to take their precious cargo to the L.A. Forum or the Rainbow Bar where the bawdy revelry made rock history that has yet to be equaled. Comparing the backseat of a limo to any old car’s backseat, is like comparing the Plaza Hotel to a bed and breakfast. On the damp ride back to the Hyatt/Riot House, I would cling to Mr. Page – my slim-hipped, velvet clad prince, and claim him as my own while we rolled along in our gliding womb-room, sipping cognac and basking in the heady before-glow. Those were the daze, my friend.
Anything went. My sweet-as-honey girlfriend, Beverly, had a bumpy little Volkswagen that we drove around in, making the boys swoon. One baking fullmoon night we clambered naked into the tiny backseat with big, ploofy powder puffs, turning each other into ghost girls with scented talcum powder, then drove through Laurel Canyon to see if anybody would notice. Even though it was the days of peaceandlove, we panicked after peeking into the rearview mirror to see seven cars of salivating males hot on out ut-put trail. Beverly made a quick left into a thatch of trees and we laughed until our powdered faces were streaked with tears.
On a trip to London, back in ’71, I was strolling down the Kings Road in my wrap-around Dolly dress, when a decadent cream-colored Bentley slid up beside me and Mick Jagger took me for a ride. Burled wood, the scent of leather, the high-class hipness of it all, sent me reeling. He called me ‘Miss Pamela,’ and showed me the sights, stroking my wrist, pointing out the infamous Chelsea Drugstore like it was Big Ben on acid. The backseat looked inviting, but that day I stayed in the front seat.
The night I met the only man I married, Michale Des Barres, I was right in the middle of starring in a B-feature movie called “Arizona Slim” in New York City. My dear old lunatic friend, Keith Moon, failed to show up to play the lunatic British pop star so a quick replacement was scrambled up – the lad singer in a glitter band called Silverhead. I was playing a groupiegirl who picks up the lunatic British pop star, and the first scene we shot was in the back of a stretch limousine. Evene though there were lines we were supposed to say, the scene became an adlib about James Dean, Elvis and Krishnamurti – three heroes we had in common. His hand was on my upper thigh, mine was in his tangled, sprayed-silver hair. He had been married for three weeks to some lucky English bird, but we fell in love anyway.
Back seats till beckon. I hope they always will. I was known to squeeze into the carpeted hatchback of a recent boyfriend’s Datsun for several tryst and shouts, and my luscious latest man, Mike Stinson and I have steamed up the windows of my cute little red Scion XB more than once. I still enjoy a slurpy taste of the forbidden, wrestling with the gear shift, cranking up the radio.
I’ve been taken for loads of rides by magnificent men in their flying machines – maybe one or two too many. But don’t blame me, dolls. Blame it on the Bonneville.
Just want to let discerning Italian rockers that one of Manhattan’s finest is coming to a town near you. Willie Nile is promoting his raucous, uplifting new album, “House of a Thousand Guitars,” all over Italy:
30Apr. SAVIGNANO sul RUBICONE (FC) Sottomarino Giallo
1 May FERRARA Teatro Sala Estense
2 May LUGAGNANO (VR) Club il Giardino
3 May LAVIS (TN) Auditorium Comunale
4 May TRENTO Incontro con gli studenti del Liceo
Scientifico “DA VINCI”
6 May MILANO Zona Navigli Toilet Club (Acoustic Duo)
7 May ROMA Big Mama
8 May MONTALE (MO) Circolo la Palafitta
9 May BERGAMO Auditorium di Piazza della Libertà
Willie rocks out hard and his lyrics send the right message to the world. “I THINK COMPASSION AND KINDNESS ARE ALIVE IN MOST PEOPLE AND GIVEN THE RIGHT INFORMATION PEOPLE WILL MAKE THE RIGHT DECISIONS.,” Willie says, “A COMPASSIONATE WORLD IS A BETTER WORLD AND AS BOBBY KENNEDY USED TO SAY: ‘WE ARE A GOOD PEOPLE AND A COMPASSIONATE PEOPLE AND I THINK WE CAN DO BETTER AND WE WILL DO BETTER..’ The time is now!
ROLLING STONE COLUMN # 69
JACK WHITE – THE SEVENTH SON
I have to admit I am a bit spoiled when it comes to rock star greatness. Having been in front of (behind, upside down, sideways and beside) many brilliant innovators, it takes a WHOLE LOT of genius to turn my flaming red head and perk up my rocked-out jaded ears. Before the White Stripes came along, the last important rockgod for me, was Kurt Cobain, a tortured fellow who reflected the angst of his discontent young audience to raging perfection. I believe the great Eminem does that for his pissed-off young followers, but as winningly dangerous as it is, I don’t quite classify his music as rock & roll.
I have interacted with most of my musical heroes, and truth be told, there are very few in the last couple of decades who have intrigued me enough to dash out and make their acquaintance. Jack White of the White Stripes being the Magnificent Exception. (Or is that ‘Obsession?)
It took quite awhile to pin him down, because Mr. White is just about the busiest man in show business, but a few months ago, I was finally winging my way to Nashville for a meet-and-greet with what my Goddaughter Polly Parsons (Gram’s daughter) calls ‘An audience with the modern Elvis.’
Besides acting, producing and running a company, Jack White has three bands – the White Stripes with his “sister” ex-wife, Meg, the Raconteurs (love ‘em!) and most recently, moody The Dead Weather, in which he play drums.
The sun pours down like blazing honey today in the sweaty south, and as I wend my rental car through the maze up and down hilly streets, I soon realize most of them are blocked off, and thousands of Nike-clad runners have taken the place of all the vehicles. I am in the middle of an annual marathon and cannot get anywhere near my all-important destination – Jack White’s new studio/office/complex where our interview is taking place. Not even sure where I am, I park under a shady tree and start hiking in the 90 degree heat wearing my favorite strappy snakeskin high heels, purchased in Roma, of course. Ouch.
But despite the probable sunburn and blisters, the show must go on. I WILL meet Jack White today. I will. I will. Feeling like a thief, I snatch someone’s Wall Street Journal to shade my eyes, and at 20 minutes past our designated meet time, my cell phone rings. It’s Jack’s assistant wondering where I am. I explain about being lost in the marathon and she promises to come fetch me for her master.
Dressed all in black (he only wears red, white & black) the modern Elvis welcomes the bedraggled visiting journalist into his inner sanctum within his shimmering gothic lair and we settle in on a cozy couch to chat. His charisma is massive, but surprisingly, his spirit is gentle, centered and serene. I am thrilled to hear he is reading my first book, “I’m With the Band.”
“I remembered when I first saw it in the bookstore when I was a kid. I was scared of you when I saw that book and I’d actually flip through and look at the photos every time I went to the bookstore. I don’t know why, but you scared me, like this girl’s too much! She’s like, over the top, outrageous!”
Jack is the seventh son in a religious family of nine children, (Born Again Dad, Catholic Mom) and I try to picture him at 12, feeling naughty for peeking into my life. “But redheads have always attracted and repelled me magnetically at the same time,” he adds, “That’s in line with Ginger from Gilligan’s Island.” (For those of you who may have been living in a cave, or are too young to remember that wacky 60s sitcom, it featured a scantily clad red-haired B-feature “Movie Star.”)
I suggest that perhaps the fiery depictions of the Lord’s muse, Mary Magdalene may have engaged his youthful fascination. “Maybe so,” he ponders, “but she wasn’t a whore.” Aaahhh, a man after my own heart! I knew we were kindred spirits. I hope you’re not expecting the typical rock talk here, dolls. This is where I like to go with my interview subjects: deep. When he tells me he’s read one of my faves, “The Gospel According to Mary Magdalene,” we revel in the discussion between a disciple and Jesus: “Why do you kiss her on the mouth?” The answer? “Because I kiss her on the mouth.” We agree that the Lord was very Zen. Jack then tells me something that totally blows my mind because it’s a brand new way of hearing a certain biblical quote. “I named one of my albums “Get Behind Me Satan,” my favorite phrase Jesus said, because the triple meaning behind that is so powerful: The idea that the devil could ‘get behind me’ as in back me up. The idea of Satan not as just some evil figure, but the idea beneath all, is get behind me, man, get with me on it.”
Wow. Jack White’s psyche is obviously open extra wide.
Despite growing up in a “Christian battleground,” Jack is pleased with the outcome. “I’ve taken a lot of things from it, most importantly God. I’m just glad I got God out of all of that because I would hate to have waited until I was in my 30s to have discovered God, in whatever aspect.” Jack pauses, very thoughtful. “I have sort of a… I default to Jesus. Do you know what I mean? I listen to all kinds of spirituality and respect all of it, and if I’d grown up in China, I would have had a different path. So I don’t believe this one’s better than the rest, but I default to Jesus because that’s the one I know.”
I tell Jack that my belief is that we all are a part of God, that the all and everything, every person, creature atom and guitar lick make up the entirety of God. “My main focus on God is that he’s creating from nothing and we’re creating from the pre-existing materials, especially as artists,” he insists, “We can only take the wood that he put here and make something out of it. We can’t create from nothing. That’s what divides him from everything, not only from people, because we are all a part of him, like you said. But it divides it all because it’s the one thing he has that we can’t touch, and we could never come close. I mean, the greatest thing we could ever create, be it the Empire State Building or a Pyramid, it’s laughable compared to a planet or a solar system.”
For this redhead, rock & roll is an ideal way to get way inside Great God Almighty, and the raucous, masterful, multi-level music Jack White creates is its own unique solar system.
For all you rock & roll aficionados I highly recommend The White Stripes new live cd/dvd “Under Great White Northern Lights…” if you want to get your thrill on and your heart beating faster than Meg White’s innocent, thrashing bomp bomp drum beat. If you want to hear God speak to you through scalding, shredding guitar shrieks, and Jack’s fierce, piercing, full-fledged free-throated wail, settle onto your cozy couch, open your psyche extra wide and turn the sound up very, very loud.
ROLLING STONE COLUMN # 70
1969 ~ Let the Sunshine In
Aaaaahhhh, 1969! When I think of my fabulous heyday, my glorious, happy hippie time in the sunshine spotlight, the grand year of 1969 comes instantly to mind.
I was barely twenty years old, starring in my very own all-girl groupie group, The GTOs (Girls Together Outrageously) mentored by the astonishing Frank Zappa, I was being romanced by some of the most thrilling, powerful, scintillating men in music, and the February issue of Rolling Stone magazine, featured The GTOs smack dab in the centerfold.
“The GTOs in all their freaky splendor are…outtasite,” the unnamed writer says, “The visceral reaction is full freak.” I explained how the GTOs felt about each other: “When I say, ‘Sandra, you have the most beautiful breasts in the world,’ that’s not homosexual, it’s just what I feel. You know how it is when you don’t have a boyfriend and there’s a girl there to hold your hand, to kiss you, to say nice things to you. It’s so important.” I still feel that way. Those of us who were sincere, true, trippy- hippie flower children have never gotten over it. Every day I wake up expecting something wonderful to happen, and I consider my back garden to be the best place to hold a love-in these days.
The GTOs went from being a vivid, bedecked, bedazzled troupe of wild teenage dancing groupie girls to having our own band and recording our very own album, Permanent Damage, with Frank at the helm. It could only have happened in 1969 in Hollywood. Jeff Beck came to the studio and played wicked guitar. A swanky new British import, Rod Stewart, provided some throaty waling on Miss Mercy’s Tune, and Chris Hillman and Gram Parsons from the Flying Burrito Brothers popped in to see if they might lend a hand. I was beyond ecstatic, pinching myself under my layers and layers of vintage lace finery.
So much happened that absurdly jam-packed year that I can only hit a few high-note highlights here, dolls. I thought I was in love several times, of course. I was crazy about my first lover, Nick St. Nicholas, the wacky blond bassist from Steppenwolf, even though he was engaged to another little beauty. I began a many year tryst with Chris Hillman, spending a lot of time at Burrito Manor, the bachelor pad he shared with my precious friend, Gram. I watched them play many coked-out games of poker, learned how to cook Southern Fried Chicken in their messy kitchen and practiced being demure, despite the shimmering sequins glued to my face.
Led Zeppelin stormed into my life, even after I promised myself to stay away from them due to their already shocking reputation. I tried to avoid eye contact with the dazzlingly exquisite Jimmy Page as his gaze pierced me from across dark dance floors. But when he got ahold of my phone number, called and insisted I meet him backstage one balmy night, I couldn’t pretend to resist his sweet, breathy British accent for another minute. We became a rock & roll item and he trotted me around the country on tour that delicious year, 1969, and I fell in love with the best guitar player in the world. Who wouldn’t? I also became close with the rest of the band, and drummer John ‘Bonzo’ Bonham told me I’d soon be living in Jimmy’s magnificent digs in the Pangbourne countryside.
I must have been too blatantly ga-ga smitten because within a few months, Jimmy’s gaze was focusing on eyes other than my own adoring peepers. I was devastated, realizing he would never truly be mine, but thank Jesus, another rock god was there to pick up my tattered groupie pieces.
I had been mad for Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones since high school when I painted an abstract portrait of what I imagined his male anatomy looked like for my art class. Turned out I wasn’t far off. I had tried to make his acquaintance years earlier when I was just a rabid fan trying to figure out what it took to be able to say ‘I’m With the Band.” But now here I was, a doll of the world with my own all-doll group! One evening, while the Burritos played their twangy show at a small club in Topanga Canyon, the roof lifted right off the ramshackle shack when all five of the Rolling Stones strutted in. I was swirling on the floor with Miss Mercy, wearing an antique velvet frock, and in between songs, Mick arrived, bowed to me and kissed my hand. “Who’s your pretty friend?” he asked Mercy. We wound up riding in the Stones’ limo back to their massive rental pad in Laurel Canyon, where Mick kissed my lips off and tried to get me in the sack. But oh no, I was being TRUE to my pink velvet prince, Jimmy Page. He snickered at that outlandish concept, reminding me I was in the GTOs and not some insipid schoolgirl from the midwest. It sure did feel glorious to be pursued by the man of my damp teenage dreams, but I declined his offer to lead me to his candlelit lair…er… bedroom. He and Keith played us their new album, Let it Bleed, and Mercy read their Tarot cards, with a warning that there was danger ahead at the upcoming free concert at the Altamont Speedway.
Of course I soon discovered that Mick was right, my rock prince was NOT being true to me out there on the road, and it wasn’t long before I found myself wrapped up in Mick’s yummy embrace. I had completely forgotten Mercy’s prescient warning about Altamont and got all dressed up to meet up with Mick after the concert. It was December, 1969.
We all know what happened at Altamont that day. The Hell’s Angels took over, someone was shot and killed, and the free loving, free wheeling 60s came to an abrupt end.
Back at the hotel, all was somber. As I attempted to comfort Mick, massaging his shoulders, whispering sweet nothings, he announced that after seeing someone get murdered right in front of him as he sang, he was quitting the Stones for good. It was over.
I can’t believe it, since I still feel like dancing in the aisles (and still do) but it’s 40 years later and as you know, Mick and the Stones are still thrilling audiences worldwide. I’m glad Mr. Jagger had a change of heart and kept on entertaining the masses. And you know what, dolls? He still struts better than rockers 40 years younger.
ROLLING STONE COLUMN # 71
JUST LIKE A WOMAN
When I got the groovy email from my sparkling, vivacious Italian publicist Allesandra Izzo, (Alex) telling me I had been invited to participate in the ninth annual Just Like a Woman Festival in Savona, Italy, it felt like I had just won the rock & roll lottery! The subtitle: A Tribute to the Queens of Music made me feel very special indeed. Previous honorees include Joan Baez, Rickie Lee Jones, Patti Smith and Miriam Makeba, so I was ‘dead chuffed’ as they say in jolly olde England. Aaaaahhh, ITALY! How I that sexy, steamy colorful country, dolls! The fact that Allesandra had just nabbed tickets for the Boss at the massive Olympic Stadium was the ultimate bonus, so I made plans to spend a few days with Alex and her charming, tall, handsome husband, Dido, in Roma before the festival commenced.
The loving couple made me feel like a family member, even gave me their fab bedroom for privacy (and great air conditioning- it’s HOT there!)and I traipsed around the glorious city, marveling once again at the beauty and obvious sensuality of the Italian people, so warm, vivid, and accepting. Italians are very upfront with a ‘no bullshit’ attitude, which I wholeheartedly embrace. And I adore the way they use your hands, your arms, their entire bodies to express themselves.
After drinks and snazzy snacks with other lucky press people, Alex, Dido and I settled into our amazing box seats to watch Bruce Springsteen captivate the crowd of 60,000. I had seen the Working on a Dream show in Los Angeles, and it was awesome, but the concert in Rome was an entirely different panting beast. It was obvious right away that Italy is dear to the Boss’s soul. He proved it all night (3 hours!) but the ecstatic audience (everyone seemed to know all the words!) was just as enthralling to watch as the Boss! He captures moments and in turn, creates unforgettable moments for his fans. It was as if we all became one huge beating heart, barreling down that Thunder Road together. He had me weeping and wailing and stomping and shouting and feeling united with the universe, as usual.
I’ve heard Bruce that got a facelift and people are ‘up in arms’ about it. Hey. It’s show biz! He has to look damn good up on those massive screens! Give the Boss a break dolls! He is so energetic and sensationally on fire up there, giving his ALL every damn night, his face might as well look as good as his awesomely tight ass.
As soon as I arrived in Savona, beautful Genoa, and quickly donned a flirty frock, I found myself in an entrancing cobblestone square, on stage with the energetic co-founder of Just Like a Woman, Ezio Guaitamacchi. (His longtime partner is Massimo Sabatino) In between my titillating tidbits, slinky folk singer Andrea Miro chimed in with songs by rock goddesses, (my fave was Sheryl Crowe’s “Run Baby Run”) while an incredibly fast artist, Carlo Montana, painted huge portraits of Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix as Ezio translated my tales about those classic rock lords. It made me happy that one of my fans, a pretty little sweetheart named Ilaina, traveled 8 hours on the train with her mother to get her copies of “I’m With the Band” and “Let’s Spend the Night Together” signed. I hope the naughty stories I told about my long night with the Lizard King didn’t freak her mama out too horribly!
The organizers actually thought I needed bodyguards, so everywhere I went I was trailed by two very handsome fellows, one of whom, Mirko, had a wicked tattoo that fascinated me: a portion of Dante’s Inferno emblazoned from elbow to wrist. Mirko had a deep philosophy (as well as hunky muscles) and we gabbed backstage while I waited to judge the annual Janis Joplin Award contest. I had seen last year’s winner, saucy, blonde Simona Scarano, belting out a Leonard Cohen tune and Pete Seeger’s “If I Had a Hammer” earlier that evening, and couldn’t wait to check out this year’s contestants.
The three judges – myself, my longtime pal Geraldine Sullivan (a best-selling UK astrology author, along for the ride) and an elegant Italian songstress, Luisa Cotti Fogli, sat in the front row, ready to look and listen with wide open ears. The three jazzy, talented dolls came from all over Italy, and the contest was very close, but it was soon apparent that the second singer, Tuscany’s Sara Calvetti, dressed in shimmering silver, was going to take the prize – a recording contract and a crystal clamshell holding a pearl, since Janis Joplin’s friends and bandmates used to call her ‘Pearl.’ While the points were being counted, Ezio invited me up on stage once more, pulled out a copy of “I’m With the Band” and regaled the large audience with another of my raucous rock renaissance stories. Since I don’t yet understand that lovely language, the only words I recognized were ‘Led’ and ‘Zeppelin!’ It was finally time for the big moment, and all three contestants stood proudly in the spotlight. When I announced Ms. Calvetti’s name and handed her the shimmering award, Sara shined. Aaaawwww.
I was in for a deluxe treat when my co-judge, Luisa, took the stage with a band of strings and horns and proceeded to blow me away with her outrageous, many octave vocals and stunning imitation of various instruments. She told me her music was “jazz/experimental/ethnic,” but that doesn’t do justice to how totally unique and jaw-dropping her performance was. Luisa was all over the world map – Africa, India, Chicago, Illinois and New York City. I wish she’d come to L.A. and play. She’d be a smash!
Geraldine and I had a swell time catching up and buying little trinkets and saucy silk undies. I always stay with her when I am in London and vice versa. We have been pals since she was living with Chuck Wein who lived next door to Don Johnson. (1972-See Chapter 8! In Band!) ;-}
It sure was a joy to see copies of the Springsteen issue of Italian Rolling Stone at newsstands all over town. I kept wanting to turn to the last page and show passing strangers my Backstage Pass column and that yummy photo of me grinning like the Cheshire cat with the divine Jack White.
I have decided to study Italian, so next time I’m in Italy, I’ll be speaking their language. Ciao, mi amores.
ROLLING STONE COLUMN # 72
Kiss & Tell Ace Frehley
Back in 1978 when all four members of KISS simultaneously released their solo albums, $2.5 million bucks (a whole lotta dough back then!) was spent on the publicity campaign with much frantic hubbub and fanfare. Expectations that bassist Gene Simmons and rhythm front man Paul Stanley would outsell drummer peter Criss and guitarist Ace Frehley was were shattered when the big winner among the four turned out to be none other than “Spaceman” Ace. If you dolls haven’t seen the outrageous Halloween ’79 interview from the Tom Snyder talk show, please check it out and get some chuckles. Ace (who was then an alcoholic and joyous drug user) gets manic giggle fits and overtly pisses off the uptight, long-tongued, business-man monster Gene.
Check out the wicked looks he keeps shooting his stoned guitarist! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jzve-Tmd70. God bless You Tube for reviving these long-lost, special moments in rock history.
Here we are 30 years later, and the now sober Ace is releasing another raucous, fret-shredding solo album, “Anomaly,” which gives me the opportunity to sit down with him at the House of Blues and have a little chit-chat. Ace is the very special guest at tonight’s Really Big Rock Show at Hollywood’s House of Blues, along with Ozzy Osbourne, and my Sex Pistol pal, Steve Jones. Their high profile back-up band is L.A.’s renowned Camp Freddie, featuring members of Guns n Roses, the Cult and my old Jane’s Addiction flame, Dave Navarro. Before the festivities begin, Ace and I sequester ourselves in a dim little nook to catch up. 58 year-old Ace took his own sweet time putting down the booze bottle. And coincidentally (although I do not believe in coincidence) the release date of Anomaly falls on his third year sober birthday. “It just worked out that way. It’s amazing the way things happen,” Ace smiles behind his very dark shades. “I decided I wanted to live! I’ve had so much fun— you know, sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, we’ve both been there, but you get to a certain age and then if you don’t stop, you’re gonna die. I chose life! I think my fans want to see more records from me. I had reached my quota.” In spite of being a forever fan of the warm sound of analog recording, it seems Ace has finally embraced the future. “The new album wouldn’t have gotten done nearly as fast if we’d done everything on tape, especially when it comes to editing. I remember working in the old days with Kiss, cutting up pieces of tape and putting them off to the side, reattaching the tape and playing it – and if it wasn’t right, taking it apart again and putting it back together five different times. It was nuts! Today, with ProTools, you click a mouse and it’s done, and if it’s not perfect, you hit “undo” and you redo it. It’s as simple as that.” Since Ace has been around for so damn long, I just have to ask the big G – the groupie question. “So, Ace, what did you think of the Kiss groupies?” Ace slides his shades down and peers into my baby-blues. “Groupies loved the band. When you love something, you want to get as close to it as possible. I didn’t see anything wrong with it. We were just exchanging pleasantries,” he insists with a sly grin. “A lot of bands might not have continued on if it wasn’t for the groupies keeping up their morale when money was tight or shows got cancelled. At least they had somebody to lean on and be consoled by.” Ace obviously feels the same excitement for his new record as he did almost 31 years ago. “I feel exactly the same way now as I did back then, and hopefully history will repeat itself. Because I’m really happy. I think my producer got that analog sound – the big reverb sound, which is what I think the kids want to hear. They don’t want to hear stuff compressed to hell without any ambience on it, like a lot of records sound today.” He’s been a revered guitar god for so many years, and I am thrilled to say, after watching his kick-ass performance tonight, that Ace has still got it – in spades! “Kids have put me on a pedestal,” he admits, “But, you know… I never really practiced that much! If I knew I was going to influence as many people as I have, I probably would have practiced more and studied more – but attitude goes a long way.” Before I go, I have to tell you about a very groovy band coming to Italy – Big Elf. Some of you may know about them, but trust me and trot on down to your local venue to hear some unique, scintillating rockin!’ Here is a note to Italian fans from Big Elf’s Damon Fox. “There are so many great progressive rock bands from Italy…PFM, Museo Rosenbach, Il Balletto di Bronzo and many more. That means there’s a fantastic audience for this kindof music in the country. We’ve been told we have that raw, “Italian” edge to our sound. Grande Elfo are ready rock the people of Italy, as well as soak up the culture and food. I can’t wait, I’ve never been there and I’m Italian!!!”
ROLLING STONE COLUMN # 73
REFLECTIONS ON AMERICA’S FIRST TEENAGER
“Dream as if you’ll live forever, Live as if you’ll die today….”
When I had just turned eight years old, I was riding along the perfect new L.A. freeway in our ’48 Ford, my head in my mama’s lap and my feet in my daddy’s. It was dusk and the sky was turning pale violet, and this little girl didn’t have a care in the wide, wide world. Frank Sinatra was crooning on the radio when suddenly a voice broke through, shattering the perfection, “I am sorry to have to report that actor, James Dean was killed in a highway accident this evening on route 446.” It was September 30, 1955. My mom shook her head sadly, “Oh, how sad, he was so young…”
“Who was James Dean, mama?”
Good question. People have been trying to figure that out ever since. At such a tender age, I had not yet experienced death, and was instantly curious about the young actor, this shooting star who was important enough to stop Sinatra in mid-croon.
For the next few weeks, all the silver screen magazines had James Dean’s glorious high-cheekboned puss plastered on their covers and I bought every one of them. The stories inside held intriguing facts about this audacious outsider from a tiny town in Indiana, who came to shake things up and change acting forevermore. He had only been in 3 films, “East of Eden,” Rebel Without a Cause” (which cemented his eternal teen rebelhood) and “Giant,” which he had barely finished before his little silver Porsche Spyder was hit head-on by a big bulky station wagon driven by a sorry fellow with the hapless name of Donald Turnupseed.
There are only a handful of icons that continue to make zillions after their demise – Elvis (of course), Marilyn Monroe…and James Dean. His moody visage brings in about 5 million every year. He still inspires creative souls to take chances, take risks, take the bull by the horns and climb on. Apparently Elvis was such a massive fan that he knew every single word of Dean’s films, and whenever he uttered a line, the King expected his cronies to respond with the very next line-or they were in Trouble with a capital T. So besides raising the bar in acting, it’s very possible that James Dean also helped create rock and roll.
In 1956, the first book (of many) about Dean was released, “James Dean” by his former roommate, William Bast. I chewed and swallowed every word about his short, troubled, determined life and stared at the photos with bleeding teenage sorrow until I couldn’t breathe. I was devastated by this huge loss and carried a tattered photo of his headstone around in my pink plastic wallet for years, dreaming of the day I could put flowers on his grave in the small Midwestern town of Fairmount, Indiana. The goofy, gangly boys at my Junior High School could never measure up to the dead, holy perfection of James Byron Dean. 1931-1955.
Long before every household had a VCR, I would set my alarm whenever one of his movies played on TV in the middle of the night, and swoon all by myself in the dark, wishing I could be Julie Harris or Natalie Wood. “I Looo-ooove somebody” she whispered, gazing into the rebel’s dreamy blue eyes. And so did I.
I have always felt a cosmic connection to James Dean. When my son was born in 1978, we called him Nicholas Dean Des Barres, not even realizing that the day he came into the world was September 30.
It took me decades, but ten years ago, I finally made it to Fairmount, Indiana. I had finished three books, and decided to do some kind of James Dean project, which eventually turned into a short story in the collection, “Carved in Rock,” and a screenplay called “Kills the Cat.” I had interviewed many of his friends, even spending an entire week with his best chum, Lew Bracker, in Kansas City. By this time I was calling him “Jimmy,” like all of his pals did. I had been having intense dreams about him, in which he invited me into his psyche, divulging his acting technique in a very personal, humorous and vivid way. I had his signature tattooed on the back of my neck, and it felt like I’d been branded.
When my friend and I pulled up at the small graveyard in front of Jimmy’s small headstone in Fairmount, it was dusk once more, and there were two people tending the grave, who turned out to be his cousin, Marcus Winslow and his wife Mary Lou. Marcus takes care of Jimmy’s estate and still lives in the house where Jimmy grew up. The timing was impeccable which didn’t really surprise me. It was Jimmy at work. I could just see his sly dimpled smile up there in rebel heaven. Marcus invited us to the farmhouse where I got to sit in Jimmy’s childhood room. With my heart pounding I held his record albums, (One was “Hello Young Lovers” by Sinatra) and looked through his writing and artwork. Touching his things, my hands throbbed and felt like they were on fire. It is one of my fondest memories in this lifetime or any other. I had finally made it to James Dean’s bedroom.
Since that first trip, I have been to Fairmount at least 20 times. I can’t get enough. I have made forever friends with many of the locals, and actually consider the town my home away from home. I’m making another trip there next week, for the annual celebration of his short life. I’ll check out all the 50s cars, don my dancing frock and hang out with all my Dean pals–but when evening falls, I’ll walk through the violet dusk to Jimmy’s gravesite, I will lay down in the grass and commune with the ghost of my favorite rebel, America’s First Teenager.
“I think there is only one form of greatness
for man. If a man can bridge the gap
between life and death. I mean, if he can live
on after he has died, then maybe he was a great
man. To me the only success, the only
greatness, is immortality.” James Dean
ROLLING STONE COLUMN # 74
Last week I waited in a long line once again to stand in front of my favorite musician. I raced past fans of all ages, races, shapes and sizes to be as close as possible to The Master of Peace. I was still in high school the first time I saw Bob Dylan shake up the Universe. He had just gone electric, plugging in and juicing up his potent in-your-face truth-telling Yes, he was pissing off the gentle folkies, but gathering rock fans into his undeniably profound and mind-blowing-in-the-wind lyrical genius.
I have long been drawn to blasts of wisdom by various philosophers, poets and saintly folk – those able to shift my mood from one of stressed out impatience to serene acceptance with a mere two-sentence blast of insight. A few brief words that embolden, reassure or electrify. More than once I have had an ‘Aha!’ moment reading comforting phrases by Plato, Emerson, Lao Tsu, Jung, Jesus.
I’m grateful that I was a teenager in the sixties, because my generation had our very own fearless rabble-rousing soothsayer. Somehow a young man from the great American Midwest was able to express the tumult, wonder, and emerging rebellion of millions starting to question the status quo. Even though Bob Dylan continues to sell out stadiums all over the world, and his last album entered the charts at Number One, it concerns me that the generations that came after me haven’t been exposed to his exquisite declarations. I encourage my Italian readers to dip into Dylan’s massive catalogue, if you haven’t done so already. Every rock musician alive today owes a debt of gratitude to the American Bard.
As a teenager, after listening to ‘Freewheelin,’ ‘Bringin’ It All Back Home,’ and ‘Highway 61’ endless times, the expected suddenly became unexpected. There was way more to it than I realized. I often say that Dylan spoke our minds for us, putting into words what the hippies, flower children, love-craving freaks and peace-niks, were thinking. But he did more: he wiped the sleep from our eyes and yanked off the rose-colored glasses of acceptance and resignation. The façade of the Status Quo suddenly seemed like a cocked and loaded gun pointed directly at anyone looking too deeply or too hard. It was like being given second sight; I was able to see through the shuck and jive, getting a peek into the thorny heart of the matter. It was breathtakingly frightening and wildly exhilarating all at once.
Dylan appeared to be addressing disenchanted youth with songs such as ‘The Times They Are a Changin’ and ‘Masters Of War,’ and he did speak our minds for us, heralding a spiritual revolution that hasn’t stopped, but his vast vision has far surpassed that brief, bright instant. His words transcend time, just like the ‘banned-in-Boston’ poet, Walt Whitman, who also challenged hypocritical morality.
“Like A Rolling Stone” was the first ‘long form’ rock song (over six minutes!) that emboldened DJs dared to play in its mind-blowing entirety. Before Bob (BB) rock music was all about how to get the doll of your dreams or how to heal a broken heart. After Bob (AB) musicians were forced to face the music and leap into the abyss. The insistent phrases that lit a never-ending flame in my brain, ‘You shouldn’t let other people get your kicks for you…’ and ‘When you got nothin’, you got nothin’ to lose,” were as profound as Blake, eternal as Shakespeare, and as demanding as Dante. Dylan blazed a high-beam at the bullshit, demanding that we take a long, hard, unobstructed look. And he has not gone gentle into that good night.
“A cold blooded killer stalking the town/Cop cars blinkin’, something bad going down/Buildings are crumbling in the neighborhood/But there’s nothing to worry about, ’cause it’s all good,” he says on my fave song, “It’s All Good,” on his latest album, “Together Through Life.” Dylan takes that horrible, worn out, lame phrase and infuses it with the tragic irony of truth.
I had the pleasure of meeting Bob Dylan several years ago, and gave him my first book. When I saw him again a few weeks later, he told me he had read it “from cover-to-cover” and that I was “a good writer.”
It was one of the most delightful, joyous moments of my life, and made me realize I was on the proverbial “right track.”
I have combed through all of Dylan’s lyrics, and want to share a few of my supreme favorites with you…
“Now, each of us has his own special gift
And you know this was meant to be true,
And if you don’t underestimate me,
I won’t underestimate you.”
“Most of the time
I’m strong enough not to hate
I don’t build up illusion ‘til it makes me sick
I ain’t afraid of confusion no matter how thick…”
“The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times, they are a changin’…”
“The hollow horn plays wasted words
Proves to warn
That he not busy being born
Is busy dying.”
“May your hands always be busy,
May your feet always be swift,
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift.”
“In the fury of the moment I can see the Master’s hand
In every leaf that trembles, in every grain of sand…
Then onward in my journey I come to understand
That every hair is numbered like every grain of sand.”
Well, dolls, I could go on and on and on for many pages, but I only have this one.
“How does it feel…
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?”
ROLLING STONE COLUMN # 75
A Week in the Life of the World’s Most Famous Groupie
Greetings Dolls, and happy 2010! I hope this is a year of many spectacular live music shows for every one of you! Music makes the world go ‘round and ‘round and up and down after all. I’ve had such a crazy busy week — I thought my Italian readers might enjoy a quick little trip through my thrill-a-minute life.
My week started off in a very small town on the US map – Parsippany, New Jersey, all the way across the entire country from La La Land where I reside. I was invited to be a participant at my very first ‘autograph show,’ an oddball event where fans meet and greet their fave entertainers/ singers/actors, and in my case, authors. I had no idea what to expect; so set up my table loaded with books, trippy hippie flower child 8X10s and “I’m With the Band” bracelets and waited to pose for photos with adoring devotees.
To be sure, I did meet some swell groupie groupies and sign copious autographs, but the best part was observing all the nuttiness that surrounded me. To my right was old-timer movie star, Mickey Rooney, at 89 years old, being propped up by his younger wife, as people of all ages lined up for hours to strike a pose with the former “Andy Hardy.” Across from him was Monkee man, Davy Jones, his Beatle-do now graying, charming the panties off middle aged Monkees’ fans. When I went up to say ‘howdy-do,’ and remind him that we had once gotten stoned together back in the 60s, he smiled and nodded, but I could tell he didn’t remember. I asked how he felt about the other Monkees after all these years, and he said, “Micky Dolenz is a hugely talented man. I’m a big fan of his vocals and a big fan of his talent as a director and a producer. Peter Tork’s a great musician. So is Mike Nesmith. I hope that one day we can all do ‘The Sunshine Boys’ together and sit around and have a cup of coffee. As long as we don’t end up in the same room at the actors’ home, you know? Then everything will be fine.” An old folks home full of Monkees! What next? Another David graced the premises, one David Johansen, lead singer of the New York Dolls, completely out of place in a small room, florescent lighting beating down upon his craggy face. He seemed annoyed to be there and kept looking at the clock. Long ago he said that my all girl group, the GTOs was his favorite band, so I kindly handed him a signed photo and a copy of our album, “Permanent Damage.” He thanked me, but was obviously embarrassed to have found himself in this bright Parsippany hotel room instead of up on stage in a dimly lit club, wriggling for hundreds of fans. He still looked hot to me, dolls, even with that sexy scowl on his face. Thank goodness my pal, Cassandra “Elvira – Mistress of the Dark” Peterson was among the guests, (she’s featured in my latest book, ”Let’s Spend the Night Together,” once a proud groupie herself!) and in between posing with her rabid worshipers, the promoter took the two of us to a lush, private rose-filled room to meet the bombshell beauty Ann Margret. I had visions of her cavorting with Elvis in “Viva Las Vegas” as she gracefully shook our hands and we gushed over her. She is still totally va-va-voom at age 68, which gives me hope! I could go on and one about this wacky autographin’ event, but want to fill you in on a few other things I did this week after winging my way back West. I danced my butt off to one of my all time fave guitarists, former Lone Justice and X member, Tony Gilkyson, at my local dive, The Cinema Bar. Built in the 1940s because of the proximity to the movie studios, this old fashioned rockin’ bar keeps local bands in business, and for that I am grateful. I took 12 music-loving tourists around in a big white van on my monthly Rock Tour of Laurel Canyon and my old Hollywood haunts. I regaled them with tawdry tales of my past, standing in front of Jim Morrison’s old pad, and Frank Zappa’s log cabin. Aahhh, those were the daze, my friends. My personal favorite rockabilly singer, the enticing and raunchy James Intveld entertained the hip swinging crowd at his 50th birthday bash at Joe’s Place, and I wore myself out, leaving sweaty and bedraggled after swooning in front of the stage for 2 hours. Last night I sat fifth row center at the Orpheum Theater, gazing in wonder as one of my old flames, Ray Davies lit up the Universe, reinterpreting an array of eternal Kinks hits with a 30 piece vocal chorus, raising the roof on that downtown elegant palace of a theater. He went from dreamy to moody to ecstatic to uplifting – from the raging “You Really Got Me” to the longing sweetness of “See My Friends.” It was a performance that took me out of my seat and into transcendence. “Music, in performance, is a type of sculpture,” Frank Zappa said, “The air in the performance is sculpted into something.” Last night the air was sculpted into something beyond mere words and musical notes. I was transported to rock and roll heaven, and it made me proud to be the groupie girl that I was, still am, and will always be.
ROLLING STONE COLUMN # 76
Golden Groupies Goddesses
I am writing to you on the fly this month, dolls…literally! I am 30,000 feet up in the air, winging my way from Portland Oregon to Las Vegas, then driving two hours to a tiny town in Utah to meet up with a very special lady. Happily, I am finally in the midst of filming my groupie/muse documentary for VH1, “Let’s Spend the Night Together,” based on my most recent book. Hooray! I have long wanted to give these very important women their due. Unfortunately the term “groupie” has been maligned, distorted and completely misunderstood. Originally coined by a Brit journalist meaning ‘a follower of groups,’ it quickly became a negative jeer by envious people who couldn’t get backstage. By those NOT in the know, groupies are perceived as loose women, star fuckers, and to use an old fashioned term, gold diggers.
Wrong. A true blue groupie is someone who loves the music so damn much that they feel the need to get close to the person who makes it. “How do they touch me in that way?” They wonder, “Where does that divine sound come from?”
We are focusing on the ‘classic’ groupies, those fortunate few who were around during the golden heyday, the earth-shattering rock renaissance. These girls spent many intimate moments with the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley. Can we talk? Oh yeah.
Our first stop is Little Rock, Arkansas, hometown of one of rock’s most notorious, unapologetic groupie gals of all time – Sweet Connie. Very few dolls get name-called in an eternal rock classic, but during her very first year of groupiedom, as a teenager, Grand Funk Railroad immortalized her in “We’re an American Band.” “Sweet, sweet Connie/Doing her act/She’s had the whole show/And that’s a natural fact.” Connie so wanted to be around the musical madness, that she was more than happy to ‘service’ group members and the entire show surrounding the bands, including roadies, managers and soundmen, becoming world famous for her fabulous blow jobs. Now in her mid-fifties, Connie still cavorts with the likes of Eddie Van Halen and Bob Dylan’s guitar tech, generously showing her love and appreciation for their continuing contribution to rock.
Next up on our rockin’ road trip is probably THE most famous groupie of all-time, Ms. Cynthia Plaster Caster of Chicago. Her art will be around long after all the rock gods and their muses have passed into dust. Since 1968, Cynthia has been proudly making plaster casts of rock stars’ erect penises and putting them up on pedestals. Surprisingly shy, she needed a gimmick to get herself into hotel rooms and through back stage doors, and this ingenious gimmick did the trick. During our filming at her fave club, the Hideout, Cynthia ‘proposed’ to hot little hometown cutie, Ezra Furman, and I do believe he will soon be added to her copious collection of plaster hard-ons. The lucky singer-songwriter will be joining the likes of Eric Burdon of the Animals, and Wayne Kramer of MC5 and the substantial glory of Jimi Hendrix, the pride and joy of Cynthia’s stiff display of sublime artistry.
The last two days have been joyously spent in rainy Portland with one of the original flower children, Michele Overman, who still basks in the long ago afterglow of her love affair with Robert Plant. We met on the dance floor at the Palomino Club, during a swoony late 60s Flying Burrito Brothers’ gig. She had just dallied with Gram Parsons and I was crazy about Chris Hillman, but we soon found ourselves swept into the monstrous all-consuming majesty that was Led Zeppelin. I was hand-in-hand with Jimmy Page and Michele’s sweet blond beauty had captivated the Golden God himself, Sir Robert Plant. By this time, Michele’s hippie heart and flowing locks had entranced several rock lords, one of whom, a young androgynous singer with a big yummy mouth that would eventually charm the entire world – Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler. Michele is still the consummate romantic.
This evening in the small, snowy, quaint town of Enoch, Utah, I am meeting with the incredible Tura Satana, actress, (she starred as “Varla” in Russ Meyer’s legendary “Faster Pussycat Kill Kill!”) diva, former stripper – “Miss Japan America,” the babe who would share her bed, smooching techniques, dance moves and sex tips with The King! To be continued…
Back on a plane to L.A. I am still reeling from the titillating confessions of the ballsy and unrepentant Tura Satana. Now 71 years old, this magnificent dame has incredible recall about her long, passionate romance with a young Elvis Presley. She was 18 and he in his early twenties when they met on the beach after their respective shows in a small Southern town. She swears that after watching her burlesque bump and grind, moves that drove sailors crazy, Elvis asked Tura to show him how she jiggled her leg like that, and swiveled her hips just so. And after a few dates, she had the nerve to tell the Man Who Would Be King that his kissing style needed improvement! “Oh he got better, all right,” she purred, “and THEN I taught him how to really please a woman with that beautiful mouth of his.” Be still my eternal groupie heart!
Tura insists that Elvis proposed marriage to her one sultry long ago night, and that 3 carat diamond ring is still twinkling on her finger, creating dazzling rainbows in the pure white snows of Utah.
ROLLING STONE COLUMN # 76a
‘SCUSE ME WHILE I KISS THE SKY
I was a seventeen year-old flower child learning how to be free when I met a chubby curly-haired photographer at a freaky Los Angeles love-in. He was shooting pictures of all the frolicking half-naked hippies and took a shine to the prancing blonde dolly in the antique blue velvet dress cut dangerously close to her ruffled panties. He soon approached me and asked if I’d like to do some of that flashy frolicking in a ‘short film’ with a new band arriving from the UK the following week. Already madly entranced with several British groups, I asked excitedly who the band was. “The Jimi Hendrix Experience,” he said, “They’re already huge in England, and supposed to be pretty wild. You’ll be dancing to a song called “Foxey Lady.” Of course I quickly agreed and on the appointed afternoon I climbed a hundred rock steps to a fading Hollywood mansion high in the hills, and entered a huge, round, crumbling room painted with vivid, swirly, psychedelic colors. As I stood nervously at the door, watching folks running around, getting ready to film the trio of frizzy-headed ultra-mod, vibrant rock gods lounging on a hot pink sofa, the obvious star of the show spotted me and beckoned me to him. ‘Come over here little girl…” Suddenly he was in front of me, the man who would change music and guitar playing forever, grinning in a sexy come-hither way, and my insides started quivering. This virgin teenager was literally struck speechless. His hand-painted jacket was emblazoned with a giant glaring eyeball that seemed to be winking at me, he had on a big felt hat with a feather that bobbed as he swayed back and forth, gazing at me like I was a big plate of something juicy and delicious. Just then, I was rescued as my photographer friend, Allen Daviau, introduced me to Jimi, drummer Mitch Mitchell and bassist Noel Redding. Then Allen helped me up to a tall white pedestal were I danced wildly all day long behind Jimi while “Foxey Lady” played over and over again. The rest of the afternoon, Allen filmed the four of us running around the massive overgrown mansion grounds like we were completely insane.
That ‘short film’ turned out to be the very first ‘rock video,’ and as always, Hendrix was ahead of the pack. (Allen went on to be an Oscar winning cinematographer, working with Steven Spielberg). By that evening, Noel Redding had glommed on to me; and even though I began a long, joyous, tumultuous relationship with him that day, one of my only regrets in life is something that I didn’t do – Say YES to that formidable man on fire, Jimi Hendrix.
My first perfect ‘groupie moment’ was spent on stage with the Jimi Hendrix Experience at the Hollywood Bowl as Noel’s L.A. doll. The Bowl is a stunning outdoor venue, and as I gazed up at the shimmering stars, I counted them all as lucky ones. The music Hendrix made was stellar and cosmic; taking me to places I didn’t even know existed. Incredibly sensual and as pure as a baby’s breath, it was spiritually transcendent and sticky wicked all at once.
Being with Noel, I did get to spend quality time in Jimi’s presence, and soon realized that he was probably not from this earth. He seemed to always be reaching for something not quite attainable, full of hope and expectation, creating sounds and even musical notes that haven’t been played before or since. He was rarely without a knowing little smile – as if he had a precious secret he just might share. I was with the band at a party in New York when a mutual friend announced that he was going to call all four of the archangels out of the corners in the opulent room, so they could hang out with us. Jimi was the first to look up at the high gold-gilt ceiling, rapt with anticipation, certain that angels Michael, Raphael, Gabriel and Azriel would join us in our merry-making. I tried to believe the angels had accepted our invitation, but from the way Hendrix laughed out loud, I was sure he could see them perfectly. Of course, he also had a penchant for getting very high on various substances, seemingly unafraid of consequences. I watched in amazement one night, as we all walked through a perilous party – Noel, Mitch and Jimi with their palms upturned, accepting every pill presented to them, swallowing them on the spot.
It was too many of those multi-colored pills that ended Jimi’s brief, brilliant life 40 years ago this year. He took way too many, drank way too much red wine, and didn’t wake up the next day. There was a lot of blame cast. A few years ago, I interviewed the sorrowful sad girl, Monika Danneman who gave Jimi the fatal accidental overdose so long ago. She spent the rest of her life creating hundreds of exquisite celestial paintings of Hendrix, still very much alive in cosmic eternity. A few months later, Monika closed her garage door, got into her Mercedes and let it run until she stopped breathing. But Hendrix never blamed her for his death. He was ready to go.
Jimi appeared to me in a dream a few years back. He played a heart-cleansing chord, unheard by human ears, a universal note, combining all musical notes, that still reverberates within me. That perfect divine sound opened a place within my solar plexus that will always shine like the fiery sun. “This is what I came to do,” he told me assuredly, “With my music I got as deeply inside people as I possibly could, and then it was time for me to go back home.”
“When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.”
ROLLING STONE COLUMN # 78
Another Sweetheart in Rock & Roll Heaven
Last month I lost a very dear friend to cancer, The Knack’s founder and lead singer, Doug Feiger, to cancer. Actually, Doug and I were diagnosed with that dreadful invader at the same time, 5 years ago, and we commiserated openly and often. I had breast cancer, which is thankfully, in remission. He had lung cancer that eventually crept into his incredibly brilliant brain and wreaked the worst kind of havoc. I’ve never seen anyone put up such a valiant and courageous struggle, battling that disease like he was in the ring with Mohammed Ali. Knocked down again and again, to rise and face (and make) the music once more. His optimism and grace as he went through rounds and rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, never giving up hope, was an inspiration and a blessing to behold.
The Knack had their biggest success with the poppy perfect ode to feminine power and allure, “My Sharona,” written for Doug’s rowdy, naughty 16 year old muse, Miss Sharona Alperin. Their first album, “Get the Knack,” was so hugely successful, the term “Power Pop” was coined for their pristine thrashing and sexual poetry, and many imitators happily followed behind Doug’s perfectly polished Beatle boots. Thirteen record companies created a heated bidding war, and “Get the Knack” went on to sell over 5 million copies. “My Sharona” was the biggest song of 1979 and has cropped up in endless movies, TV shows and commercials. “My Bologna” was ‘Weird’ Al Yankovic’s hysterical first smash hit parody. When you hear the famous opening drumbeat, you know you’re in for a flawless, rockin’ 3 minute treat. It’s so catchy, it lodges into your head, pounding away all day long. And those words! Doug admits to having ‘Such a dirty mind / Always get it up for the touch of the younger kind,’ My-my-my-yi-Whoa! Oh so wicked back in ‘79.
When I met Doug at the Knack’s record release party, he had already been in two successful bands; and was only 26 years old. My ex husband, Michael, and I became fast friends with the entire group, and bassist Prescott Niles even gave our son Nick piano lessons for awhile. Through the years, Doug became close to my heart, and about ten years ago, we even gave romance a spin. He took me on a whirlwind vacation to his beloved Paris, and oops! Amidst trips to the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower, we soon realized that we made better friends than lovers, and I came back to L.A. When Doug returned a few weeks later, we picked up our friendship exactly where we had left off, which says so much about Doug’s classy character. We actually became better friends, having discovered another fascinating side of each other. As I write these words, I miss him so very much, I can’t help but cry.
Doug was always the first person to walk through the door at my parties, and often the last to leave. He was witty and wry, and loved conversing about a vast array of topics, sometimes getting into some pretty festive arguments. And the man was the most dandy, snappy dresser I’ve ever known. He had all his vividly colorful clothes tailor-made and they fit his slim frame exquisitely. Silver Nehru suits, orange turtleneck sweaters, ruffled aqua shirts, emerald green trousers, blue-lensed John Lennon glasses, and a shiny smile that always invited you in. Doug was so ALIVE, so aware of the beauty of life; that it made those around him grateful to be here, on the planet with him.
Doug’s brother Jeffrey and sister Beth held a memorial for Doug’s friends and family this past Sunday afternoon. I was feeling brave, and had planned on saying a few words of remembrance, but the instant I walked through his door – and Doug was no longer there – I started sobbing and couldn’t stop. He adored his lovely home and had lived there for many years. His impeccable taste was on display everywhere you looked. He collected Beatles memorabilia, and all fab four of their grinning faces gleamed at us from all four walls. One of my vintage Get Well cards was perched on the mantel. Doug’s shiny Ludwig drum kit sat silently, his guitars were mute, he was gone.
His former wives and girlfriends said beautiful things about Doug, Sharona announcing she was proud to have been his muse. His bandmates, and ‘Knack Brothers,’ Prescott Niles and Berton Averre said their tearful good-byes. Beth and Jeffrey spoke of their brother’s humor, passion and courage. Ringo himself, a longtime pal of Doug’s was in attendance, along with many of his musical peers, who spoke fondly of their respect and admiration. Doug had been cremated, and we scooped up little cups of his ashes and scattered them around his garden, as he wished. I stumbled through the mud to sprinkle the ashes around the Buddha statue he had so recently gazed at; and silently thanked Doug Feiger for being my friend.
ROLLING STONE COLUMN # 79
MUSICIANS MAKE BETTER LOVERS
For me it started with the King himself. I figured if Mr. Pelvis could wriggle his entire being like THAT, what might he be able to do to little me? I was actually too young to be thinking the kind of thoughts he provoked in my pre-pubescent brain, but when the Rolling Stones came along, I didn’t just sit home and conjure up heated images, I went out an took the bulldog by the (horny) horns.
I was still in high school when the Stones checked into L.A.’s swanky historical Ambassador Hotel, and I wandered around the pink bungalows with a few other awe-struck fan-girls and finally got the balls (Fallopian tubes? Mammary glands?) to knock on Mick Jagger’s door. Nothing happened that balmy evening, even though my object of desire opened the door stark naked. Yes, I ran squealing into the night, but I didn’t drop my pursuit, and the deed was accomplished by my twentieth birthday. Ah, those were the fairy-tale days when it was so much easier to meet the rockin’ danger-angel of your lustful desires – still, nothing stops the music-adoring fan from wanting to get her mitts on her idol-of-choice. And why is that? Is it the way the guitarist holds that love-box of his? Long graceful fingers flying across the frets, creating that delicious, stormy sound that so many damp-dreams are made of? And that ecstatic ga-ga look on his face –-where is he anyway? Can I meet him there, please? I carried on with a couple of incredible lead guitarists, one of whom, Jimmy Page, was just as good spiraling his slim, beautiful hands all over me, as he was creating musical majesty with Led Zeppelin. Fearless and edgy, dangerous and expectant, the lead guitarist has just enough assured expertise to get you to the simmering point and take you where power chords are born.
The bass-player always seems to be the man of mystery in the band, much like the brooding rumble coming out of his axe. Strangely enough, my first three lovers were bass-players, the strong silent type, thoughtful, deep, with barely a hint of a smile to keep you exquisitely off guard. Noel Redding, bassist for the Jimi Hendrix Experience definitely taught me a thing or three in the middle of the night. I still have his letters from long ago, describing all the fine things he would do to me when his fine band got back to California. I recall he had quite a unique way with minty toothpaste. Oh yes. Bass players have a tendency to hold you at arm’s length, while still giving you the ‘come-hither-gaze. He leaves you tangled in the sheets, begging for mercy, begging for more, while he remains silent. Usually smiling, thank goodness. It was good for me, was it good for you? Hmmm? Hmmm? Well, hmmmmmm?
Drummers always scared me a little –- bashing, thrashing, slam-bam, look out ma’am. Crazy madmen, back-bone beat-keepers with wild eyes. They don’t sleep much, require a lot of attention. You never know when and where they’re going to want you. Right here and right now preferably. Drummers live as hard as they play, play as hard as they live. So much big, hard fun goes on that you lose track of time and forget your own name. What did you call me? Oh, right. My romance with Keith Moon left me full of up-all-night memories, but dazed, exhausted and cross-eyed. He had me doing things nobody had ever heard of before. When he left town, I had to go to my mom’s house and recuperate for 2 weeks. Drummers are audacious, and laugh in the face of danger, definitely not for the faint of heart.
The crooning lead singer seems to know how you feel – singing right to you, knowing your heart’s desire inside out. Standing right out front, under those crazy colored lights, streaming sweat through his tangled hair, clutching the microphone like THAT – can’t you just feel it? They’ve all taken clutching lessons from Elvis – so full of pent-up, wayward angst and wild longing –- passing it on like a plague of passion. Whatever you imagine, all alone, late at night, it won’t quite measure up to the blazing reality. The singer-songwriter is looking for inspiration for his next song, and when he gets ahold of you it’s like a quadruple earthquake in the pit of your love-pump. I remember watching Mick Jagger ponce and preen, pout and strut in front of 40,000 manic fans, knowing I would be the one to help him peel out of his damp velvet jumpsuit when the concert was over. Lucky, lucky me.
I can hardly believe it’s been 15 years since I walked into another rock & roll den of iniquity, dolled up to the nines, and onstage was a young haughty blond, stripped to his bellbottoms, waling into the microphone with zero fear. As I made my way to the stage, he spread his arms like wings and dove into the frenzied audience. His name was Jimmy Thrill, he soon became my boyfriend and we lived together for 5 years. He was so hot he sizzled. And he made me sizzle. Yummy.
My latest love is a sweet-hearted country crooner, Mike Stinson, and I am in a continuous swoon over his genius. He writes love songs for me and sings them to me in bed. I just can’t get enough, dolls, even though he fills me to the brim.
I believe every man has innate rock and roll potential – all jammed up inside him, ready to blast right out – all over you. It’s up to you to inspire your lover to play you like his love-box, clutch you like Elvis clutched his microphone. You can help him tap into his own wild longing and artful mastery, his brooding rumble, dangerous edge. Give him a dose of the passion plague, right here and right now. Put on some loud, hard rock and roll – some sweet, croony love ballad, and climb into his lap. I’ll bet that ecstatic ga-ga look will appear and he’ll wrap you up tight and rapturous. You can create your own damp dreams, dolls Yank that inner music out of yourman and tangle the sweaty sheets with it.
ROLLING STONE COLUMN # 80
Altamont Revisited and a Confession
The magnificent new release of the Rolling Stones’ humongous Exile on Main Street box set has got me thinking about my wild time hanging with Mick Jagger and his cohorts way back in the grand rock & roll heyday. I’ve even been having dreams about the very staggering, intense, and yet somehow thrilling events at the Stones’ gigantic free show at the Altamont Speedway in 1969. Many people say that the shocking death at Altamont and the Charles Manson murders in Los Angeles killed off the ever-lovin’ flower-power, sixties for good. I still see some long-term groovy remnants of that extra special era, but that’s another story.
I vividly remember visiting the Stones in Laurel Canyon after meeting Mick Jagger for the first time at the Palomino Club, twirling around the dance floor to the Flying Burrito Brothers. Keith Richards and Gram Parsons had become tight buddies and Keith brought his entire band to the gig that night. (In fact, you can hear GPs influence all over that new Exile box set – “Sweet Virginia” anyone?). Miss Mercy and I rode with the Stones in their long sleek limo to the pad they were renting from Monkee Peter Tork, and as I believe I have mentioned to my gorgeous Italian readers before, the gypsy Mercy read Mick’s Tarot cards and warned him of impending doom at the upcoming Altamont gig. Advice he unwisely ignored.
I sashayed into the Speedway wearing a snazzy vintage girly outfit and high heels, just in time to see the Burritos open the show. Right away I could feel something menacing in the air. Not only were the Stones’ massive burly bodyguards, also known as The Hells’ Angels, shouldering through the massive crowd, acting tough and macho, they were hurling beer all over us in a brutish show of obvious power-tripping. How DARE some bearded creeps ruin my yummy ensemble? Fearing some kind of bummer about to happen, I hightailed it out of there even before the Stones played their set, planning on calling Mr. Jagger after the show. The roads were so congested, by the time I got back to San Francisco, I picked up the phone and dialed the elegant Fairmont hotel, using Mick’s alias, and he answered, saying, “Please come right away, I need to see you.” Well, goody for me,” I thought, but Mick sounded agitated and upset.
What had happened?
In those days, of course, there was no internet or cell phones, so I had no idea that a man had been stabbed and killed right in front of Mick as he sang to the teeming, frantic audience. The Hell’s Angels had worked the crowd into a frightening frenzy of fear and loathing, and it had ended up in murder.
I arrived at the hotel with trepidation, and when I knocked on the assigned door, I entered a hushed room full of rock gods and one rock goddess, found my way to Mick and waited to hear what the heck was going on. The room was crammed with tragedy energy and sorrow. It didn’t take long for me to piece the story together. The Stones had hired the Hell’s Angels as bodyguards, hoping to promote goodwill among the Angels and the hippies. The band had been trying to perform a good deed; a free show for their fans, and it had backfired royally. As Mick moaned and lamented, actually stating that he would quit performing forever, I massaged his shoulders and whispered inane sweetness into his ear. What do you say at a time like that? I was nineteen years old, wishing I had the exact right words to comfort and uplift my favorite singer in his time of need. It was a very odd scene. All the Rolling Stones and their roadies, the beautiful Michele Phillips of the Mamas and Papas, and my pal Gram Parsons, sitting on the floor with Keith, leaning into each other, wearing each other’s clothes. It seemed like they had actually started becoming each other. Gram wore Keith’s wild scarves, bracelets and black Kohl eyeliner, Keith had on Gram’s bejeweled cowboy Nudie jacket and rhinestone belt. They mumbled to each other, sadly and drunkenly, an image I will have forever in my mind.
After a couple hours of discussing the horrible events of the day, people began heading for their rooms, and I started saying my good-byes. As I wondered if I might wind up in Mick’s room, hoping that I would, I thought I saw Mick give Michele Phillips a certain kind of naughty look, and she disappeared out the door. Then Mick suggested I spend the night with him, (Let’s Spend the Night Together!) and I assumed that he wanted to have a horny three-way with the gorgeous Mama herself. I recall him walking me down the hall, literally trying to drag me into his room as I protested that I was expected somewhere else. As much as I enjoyed romping in the hay with Mick Jagger, I wasn’t into sharing my man of the moment with anybody, truly believing that Michele was already waiting for us in Mick’s hotel room lair. I remember him standing forlornly in the middle of the hall as I wandered away, wishing I could have comforted him all by myself.
In my first book, “I’m With the Band,” I wrote this little tale of horror and loss, and a few years later I ran into Michele Phillips at a hot club in L.A. Amidst clinking of glasses, thunderous music and loud chit-chat, she leaned over to me and said, “You know, Mick never wanted a three-way between us; I was with Gram Parsons that night.” Ooops. Ouch! Talk about embarrassing! Yikes! I am not one for regrets, but to this very day, I wish I’d had the courage to ask Mick what his intentions had been that long ago night.
I had really jumped to the wrong conclusion. I could have kept Mick company when he really needed some love, and created another amazing memory of joyous wickedness. Aaaah, yes, I have no regrets about things I have done, only things I didn’t do. And I’m sorry Mama Michele for telling the world you were a three-way temptress, I really am.
ROLLING STONE COLUMN # 81
I met Captain Beefheart’s cousin, Victor Hayden, aka ‘The Mascara Snake’ my last year in high school, 1966. To say that he altered my world, and squashed flat any idea of normalcy, is putting it mildly. I was ready to devote myself to my Italian boyfriend, Bobby Martini and settle down in the valley of squaresville when Victor came along with his dangerously long hair and corduroy trousers, turning me on to Bob Dylan, The Stones and His Nibs, the good Captain. Needless to say, I have always paid attention when Vic wants to share his good taste.
We lost touch for awhile when Victor ‘dropped out’ for several years, and met up again when I was touring with my first book, ‘I’m With the Band” in ’87. He was in the audience at a TV show taping in Seattle, Washington, and insisted we had been telepathically communing during my interview with the TV show host. We rekindled our friendship and I started making treks to Seattle to visit Vic and his best friend and partner, David Portnow. The duo had formed a record label and were on the lookout for emerging left-field musical talent. Despite the fact that they turned down a chance to sign a scruffy young band called Nirvana, they have managed to discover all kinds of eccentric and underground bands through the years.
When I heard that Dave and Vic’s most recent ‘discovery’ is Raw Power, an Italian band that has been around since 1981, I thought ‘What a perfect opportunity to turn on my fabulous Italian readers to a band of of their very own!
After listening to their upcoming release, “Resuscitate,” from Vic and Dave’s P.I.G label, I’m having trouble coming up with a way to describe this band’s music. The singer, Mauro Codeluppi’s intense vocals remind me a bit of my pal from Ministry, Al Jourgenson. He rumbles and growls through some very potent songs, such as “Words” with the lyrics:
“HONESTY , YOU WANNA TALK ABOUT IT
HONESTY, WHAT WOULD YOU KNOW ABOUT IT
HONESTY , NEVER HAD TO DO WITH IT
HONESTY , ALL YOUR LIFE CHEATING AWAY
HONESTY , FOR YOU IT RHYMES WITH FELONY
HONESTY, TOO OFTEN IT DRIVES TO POVERTY
HONESTY , ALL YOUR TIME SPENT LYING AROUND
HONESTY , NEVER KNOWN THE MEANING OF THE WORD.”
When I speak with Mauro on the phone near Milan, where he lives, he insists that his lyrics are not at all political. “The main philosophy behind the band is we do what we want to do and have fun, and our fans to have fun, we’re not a political band. I write the lyrics and I’m the last person to send a message to somebody saying ‘this is what I think and what I think you should be doing.’ I don’t want that at all. The lyrics are about things that happen to me or to people I know, or major things that happen around the world that you can read in the paper. They are not heavy. I know many other bands write heavier lyrics, political lyrics, but I’m happy they do it, but we’re not about that.” I would beg to differ, Mr. Codeluppi.
How about these lyrics to “Vote For Me”?
“VOTE FOR ME – VOTE FOR THAT
BLACK OR WHITE – IT’S JUST A MESS
NOW I’M LEFT – NOW I’M RIGHT
BUT EVEN IN THE CENTRE I FEEL ALL RIGHT
WHAT SATISFACTION – ANOTHER ELECTION
I WORKED ALL THIS OUT – TO A PERFECTION
BEFORE I WAS FOR – NOW I’M AGAINST
WHATEVER HAPPENS-I’LL NEVER CHANGE
YOU SEE ME HERE – YOU SEE ME THERE
MY LACK OF CONSCIENCE- IS SOMETHING I CAN BEAR
I SCREW YOU- I SCREW- I SCREW YOU YOU-IT’S THE ONLY THING I KNOW HOW TO DO
LIES COME EASY – IT’S WHAT I DO BEST
ALL SMOKE IN YOUR EYES- I’M A BIGGER BASTARD THAN THE REST
I DON’T REMEMBER – EVER A DAY’S WORK
POWER AND MONEY – IS WHAT I ADORE.”
If those aren’t political lyrics, I’ll eat my cowgirl hat.
Raw Power has toured the US six times, which began when Jello Biafra from the Dead Kennedys heard their original demo. The band wound up on the Maximum Rock & Roll tour in ’84 and have been touring the US and Europe, and putting out records ever since. Mauro gets a kick out of playing with bands he has always revered. “The good thing about coming to the US is that we’ve gotten to play with amazing bands. The Circle Jerks, the Angry Samoans, the Kennedys, when I was in the audience in Italy, I never imagined I would one day share the stage with them. We played with the Ramones here in Italy 3 times. We never imagined it would happen.”
I’d love to help get Raw Power some new devotees in Italy. But how would Mauro describe their music to a potential fan?
“People can’t put us in a frame, like a typical punk or hard core or metal. Most of the time they cannot classify us. For us it’s not really a problem because we still do what we’ve always done. I write new words but the music has always been the same since we started playing. If people like it, that’s all that matters, whether it’s punk, metal or crossover.”
As Mauro says in “Freedom At Last:”
“IT’S NO MORE TIES – CAN DO WHAT YOU LIKE
NO SENSE OF GUILT – FORGET THE REGRETS
NO FEELING BAD – NO MORE FEELING SAD
IT’S BEEN GIVEN TO YOU – NOW IT’S ALL UP TO YOU.”
Check out your local homeboys dolls!
ROLLING STONE COLUMN # 82
NIGHTMARE & THE CAT
Back in the rockin’ heyday, my favorite dancing cohort was my GTOs bandmate, the outrageous Miss Mercy, and all these years later, her uncanny musical taste continues to astound. When she insisted I check out her latest discovery, I happily met her at the Bootleg club downtown to see Nightmare & the Cat. She can really pick ‘em, dolls. It’s been decades since I enjoyed a band so much, and I really rocked out last Saturday night. What a thrill! Singer Django and his brother, guitarist Sam Stewart, have a stellar rock royalty bloodline – Their parents are Eurythmics Dave Stewart and Bananarama’s Siobhan Fahey – but the look and vibrant sound of the 5 piece band is all their own. Django, barely 19, a elfin charismatic imp in a misshapen oversized felt top hat, moves to the catchy, jangly music like a court jester or circus harlequin on ecstasy. His strong, sweet, quavering voice and delightful stage presence remind me of another long lost rockgod elf, the late Marc Bolan. Nightmare & the Cat is brand new, yet I sense that rare magical quality of classic staying power. Both of these bi-country British lads have been in other bands, and finally joined forces a mere four months ago.
A few days after the gig I find myself on Hollywood Boulevard, looking for a parking place near the Stewart’s studio so I can chat them up for this very column, as I adore presenting new talent to my discerning Italian readers.
As I enter the room full of equipment, the guys are in the middle of mixing their latest tune, “Chart Topper,” which lambastes the faltering music industry and some of its prefab creations:
not very smart
I hear your new record is
climbing up the chart
slap on the back for
learning your craft
slap in your face
for cheating your heart…
A million televisions always flickering,
your image animating
every single screen
I hear you singing loudly
but I don’t know what it means
it’s turned into a game show
it’s a terrifying dream…
“It’s disgusting how artists have become dolls for the music industry,” Django says after I praise the tune. “They take away your self-confidence completely, saying ‘We can make you awesome,’ and we don’t believe that. We’re just constantly trying to beat the system, connect straight to our audience.” “We’re not interested in being picked up by a major label and then shelved,” 22 year-old Sam insists, “The most important thing you can do as an artist at the moment is to maintain the rights to your own music and be fucking brilliant live. You can’t download the experience of seeing a live act.”
The Stewart brothers are determined to make a dent in the unstable music industry their very own way, harkening back to the days when the Doors and Jimi Hendrix walked the Sunset Strip. “We are just about to move into this amazing space in West Hollywood,” Sam says happily, “We got an inheritance from our grandfather and we’re going to turn it into our headquarters/recording studio/art studio/anything we want to make it. Our plan is to try absolutely every single idea we come up with and involve as many amazing artists we can think of. Our plan is to start marrying artists with other artists once again. We’re going to form an alliance of brotherhood and create an entire album in our new space.” Aahhh, it all sounds so idealistic, doesn’t it? Django is so excited about the idea of their open door policy, describing the various artistic types that will be free to create and shake things up within their walls. He wants to move people the way he was moved at age 14 during a certain rock concert. “It was a life-changing experience,” he recalls, “Sam took me to a Yeah Yeah Yeah’s gig and I didn’t know music could be like that. I was being pushed around by a million people, and Karen O stood over me, screaming in a white leotard, pulling out fake guts and throwing them into the crowd. She’s insane, I don’t know why I love her but she was speaking my language. I just fell in love, my heart and soul lit up. I want to ignite the same feeling in people that I had that night. The wondrous feeling that anything is possible.”
The brothers have large tattoos of each other’s middle names across their forearms. Django’s says “Hurricane” and Sam’s reads “Lawless.” My middle name is “Ann” I tell them, pretty tame compared to theirs. I wish my middle name was “Flame” or Tornado.”
After his last band broke up, Django went back to London to figure things out. “I dropped out for almost a year. I didn’t know what the fuck I wanted to do, and everyone in my school was like, ‘I’m going to be a lawyer, I’m going to be a doctor, I’m on a shitload of Adderal and it’s going to get me there.’ Sam called me up one day while I was sitting in a pub thinking, ‘Oh God, what am I going to do with myself!?’
Basically I realized that with my brother and I, it’s such a great support system, we just compliment each other extremely well.” Sam agrees, “I’ve always wanted to fill 2000 seaters, that’s perfect for me. But I’m really glad to be in a band with Django because he has the drive to go straight to the top, while I would settle for the middle. He’s not like a careerist or anything, but he’s driven.” Django laughs, recalling the moment he knew exactly what he needed to do. “It was more of a realization than a decision. My dad has a painting in his house that looks like a psychedelic land. But if you look closely it’s towers of dildos, like a trippy metropolis. I was dancing naked, singing loud to T Rex and I thought, ‘What the fuck? This is what you do. You can’t do anything else. You love to sing and dance! You may as well give it a go.’”