Saturday, December 29, 2012

Memo to The Buddha Diaries

Peter Clothier is an author and a scholar whom I respect. I posted this comment on his exemplary The Buddha Diaries Blog in order to make a point about my own humble scribblings.

Peter, I have published a book today as well. I was hoping you'd have a look-see (only $4.99, cheap, as the fershlugginer editors of Mad magazine used to say) and perhaps write me up a nice testimonial so I could help spread the word about it. I really am proud of it.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Cameron Crowe-Patrick Fugit

From an article in The Hollywood Reporter, September 12, 2000:

Crowe with his “Almost Famous” star Patrick Fugit

Crowe’s Nest

By Noë Gold

Director Cameron Crowe presented his poetically autobiographical “Almost Famous” to the Toronto International Film Festival at a world premiere gala screening in the Roy Thomson Hall September 8. It is the story of how Crowe began his career as a rock writer at the tender age of 16. The movie is highly accurate in the cultural details, while the names of most of the film’s characters have been changed to protect the innocent, or the guilty, which in the film’s early-’70s universe was often a relative question. Crowe sat down with The Hollywood Reporter features editor Noë Gold, who crossed paths with Crowe years ago: When Crowe’s infamous Rolling Stone cover story on the Allman Brothers Band appeared, Gold was the music reviews editor of another “rock rag,” Crawdaddy.

THR: How does it feel to be a cultural hero?

Cameron Crowe: You know, all I wanted to do with the movie is not make one of those self-glorification, golden haze kind of fiction pieces. I thought, you know, non-fiction is the way to and if you can’t do a documentary which is usually gonna be the best way to see rock on a screen, but be true to the way the music makes you feel, and that’s more important than the glory of me— [postures] “Well you know when I was on the road with Lee Michaels” — you know you don’t want something unseemly about it all but if you can catch what it is the be a fan and celebrate it. [for the rest of the article, go to]

Like I’m always so proud — even though I know the movie traditionally I think the structure of the movie .. you wouldn’t have that scene with Fairuza Balk talking about what it is to be a fan? If you cut that scene, you have no movie.

THR: To me the transitions are the first of the hallmarks of your style that I recognize and really enjoy. For instance, when the band ditches the tour bus to switch over to travelling by airplane. There’s a cut right there and on the soundtrack we here Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child” — cranked up guitar that really makes a comment about the sequence.

Crowe: Yeah, yeah.

THR: Speaking of Hendrix, you use a visual reference when we enter [kid character’s] room, we see a big poster of the Jim Marshall photograph of Jimi staring at us. What struck me was the artifacts, the visual details you have so painstakingly created. That’s the second hallmark that so impressed me. Your use of detail as iconography. The first time I watched the movie, I let it wash over me. The second time, at last night’s (9/8? Check) screening, I just got off on the details. And what strikes me is the rights and permissions work you must have to go through.

Crowe: Yeah, we fought hard for that [permission to use the song “”Voodoo Child”]. That was the toughest one to get. We had to beg quite a bit. They [the rights holders] did not want to give it to us because these days anything with perceived sex and drugs they don’t want associated with Jimi Hendrix.

It’s amazing. I mean, some of those car ads are more pornographic than movies that glorify decadence in rock. But still, whatever man, if they are able to keep Hendrix’s legacy alive however they do it is just fine. But (laughs) don’t draw the line at me!

THR: Now, the planned companion DVD that you were talking about at the press conference today, could you tell me how that would look in terms of ancillary music that might be put on there, as opposed to ancillary video that would be put on there. And are you going to shy away from it because of rights and permissions issues, or would that be a crux move for you in terms of positioning this DVD?

Crowe: We had a lot of material that didn’t make it into the movie — the version that is going out into the world. The longer version is indulgent — hopefully gloriously so — and there’s a lot of stuff that deserves to be seen, but . … Whenever I see a collection of deleted scenes, it begs you to watch that and go … “I don’t know why they used that. I would never use that. What is that?”

THR: It’s not just some “Easter Eggs” you’re talking about here? Sounds like a special version of the movie on a DVD.

Crowe: This [the special DVD Crowe is planning to release] is a whole cut of the movie, a different, fatter cut. It’s about two hours and 45 minutes, something like that and it has the full Stillwater [the fictional band that Patrick Fugit’s character follows around in the movie]concert stuff. It has Frances McDormand listening on the phone as her son plays [Led Zeppelin’s] “Stairway to Heaven” in its entirety, and you at home have to put on “Stairway to Heaven.” It freeze-frames. It’s not interactive material.

But the DVD version of that scene will just have the longer version and because Led Zeppelin will never sell the rights to “Stairway to Heaven,” you at home get to supply it.

THR: Early in the movie, Frances is walking with her two kids and there’s a movie marquee in the background that shows two movie titles — Francois Truffaut’s “Stolen Kisses” and the D.A. Pennebaker Bob Dylan documentary “Don’t Look Back.” Was there a thematic reason for those two movie titles?

Crowe: Yeah, in fact. Both of those movies probably had an equal effect on “Almost Famous.” “Stolen Kisses” just for the beautiful light touch that masks the deeper pain and anxiety and lost love. And “Don’t Look Back” because it’s just corrosive and real. And they would have snippets of live shows that were just great. You could barely get a hand on them and they were gone.

As far as a rock movie that isn’t a documentary, I would go with “Quadrophenia.” “Quadrophenia is probably still the best rock movie that isn’t a documentary.

THR: There’s another scene in the movie that shows your attention to detail. There’s a flash cut to a marquee of Max’s Kansas City, the legendary New York club where so much decadent rock history unfolded in the ’70s — and doesn’t exist today. You recreated the club for a party scene, but the lighting was not like I remembered it. It wasn’t dark and cavernous, with red booths and Dan Flavin flourescent-light sculptures. It was a daytime party. A record industry party with beer bottles and messiness. And that art direction was intentional.

Crowe: Exactly. The scene was “Let’s get to Max’s.” Plus we wanted Kate Hudson’s character, Penny Lane to run across town to the Plaza hotel with a little bit of light in the sky.

THR: Where something more dramatic will happen.

Crowe: It just seems sadder that she would do that with some light still in the sky. It’s so cool that you see the details like that.

THR: Once again, god is in the details. I saw the movie two weeks ago and it took me on a time trip. I let it wash over me. Last night, I noticed the film’s rhythm, which takes you into the world of these strange-looking rock and rollers. Gradually, as you keep watching, you go back to the ragtag days of 1974. And all the visual cues are right.

Crowe: . I love what [cinematographer] John Toll did so much. There’s a lot of beautiful work there.

The movie is about music. It really is from the heart. I always love the albums and this was attempting to be part of the tradition. But it’s a ,musical tradition that was fun. Fun is good. And it is about music that is “ultimately righteouosly dumb,” as [the late rock critic] Lester Bangs said.

THR: Tell me about the time when Greg Allman freaked out on you.

Crowe: We were on the road for a couple of weeks with the Allman brothers and the night before I went home he had a vision that I might be a cop, and called me up to his room and asked for all the tapes. And this was my first cover story for Rolling Stone. And I was scared. And I gave him all the tapes. I never told Ben Fong-Torres [Crowe’s editor at Rolling Stone, who is depicted in the movie].

I got them back in the mail later and [legendary Allmans manager] Phil Walden called me up and said, “Hey, Cameron Greg woke up in Hawaii with your tapes and uh, you know the brothers sure did like you on the road. Hope everything’s fine and Greg sends you his love and … “

I was just happy to get my tapes back and to just do my story. And I knew if I told Ben about that… I just kept it under my hat and wrote the story.

Years later Neal Preston was shooting Greg for People magazine and Greg said, “Hey whatever happened to that kid that came on the road with you and the band?”

Neal says, “Well the guy’s making movies now. He’s doing this movie about rock right now.. He made ‘Jerry Maguire’ ”

Greg says, “Great. Boy, we really put that kid through the ringer.” That’s what he remembered. And it’s funny how so much of that informed what ther movie was. Cause they put me through the wringer. But I was happy to be in the wringer, Wrenched out.

THR: We could go on reminiscing about those rock and roll days of the ’70s, but people can see the movie for that. Would you answer one question we have about the future? You have a [Tom] Cruise/ [Penelope] Cruz project coming up next, don’t you? What can you tell us about that?

Crowe: Not much, but it is called “Vanilla Sky ”— which is kind of a musical title, and I’m happy about that — and it’s a. contemporary love story set in New York. It’s Cruise, Cruz and Cameron Diaz.

THR: And when do you start work on it?

Crowe: We start at the end of next month. Yeah, I’ll be full of energy by then [laughs]. I’ll be anxious to get out there and do it again.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Clapton's Beano Period

I have commented before about this Clapton session. You can see a print of Slowhand from February, 1966 on this pic clipped to the strings of a Les Paul guitar, which was staged as Guitar World's Collectors Choice Centerfold Honoring the Marshall "Bluesbreaker" 2x12 50-watt combo Model 1965340.

BluesbreakerBeano w text

The amp – the Marshall "Bluesbreaker" 2x12 named for the album on which it was used – was found for me by the honorable Steve Melkisethian of Angela Instruments in Laurel, Maryland (Steve later got me the "Bullet" harp mike dedicated by Billy Gibbons to me, and which I still use, but that is another story). I orchestrated the whole setup in the studio for GW "Guitographer" Glen La Ferman's loving homage. The amp is owned by Mike Doyle of Guitar Center in CA.

Of the amp, Pete Prown, Gear Editor of Vintage Guitar magazine, said recently, "This is Ground Zero for rock-guitar tone. This is when it all exploded ... Hendrix, Beck, Cream, Zep -- they all took their cues from the Bluesbreakers album, tone-wise. It wasn't fuzz. It was TUBE tone."

Here's some more fab facts about Beanos, Bluesbreakers and that guy they used to call God:

Blues Breakers is an album credited to John Mayall With Eric Clapton, released in 1966. It peaked at #6 on the UK chart. In 2003. The album was ranked number 195 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. Apart from being one of the most influential blues albums, it also started the now-legendary combination of a Gibson Les Paul guitar through an overdriven Marshall Bluesbreaker amplifier.

The band name John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers is derived from the title of this album; no original issues mention the Bluesbreakers as band name. The album was also known as The Beano Album because of its cover photograph showing Clapton reading The Beano, a British children's comic. Clapton stated in his autobiography that he was reading Beano on the cover because he felt like being "uncooperative" during the photo shoot.

Originally, John Mayall intended for his second album to be a live album in order to capture the guitar solos performed by Eric Clapton. A set was recorded at the Flamingo Club, with Jack Bruce (with whom Clapton would later work in Cream) on bass.

The recordings of the concert, however, were of bad quality and were scrapped. With the original plan of a live album now discarded, John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers recorded Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton at Decca Studios, West Hampstead in March, 1966. The guitar that Eric Clapton used during the sessions was a 1960 Gibson 'sunburst' Les Paul with two PAF (Patent Applied For) 'humbucker' pickups.

This guitar, whose whereabouts are currently unknown, is also known as the "Beano" Les Paul, a replica of which has recently been reissued by Gibson.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Jamie Lee Curtis Returns to the Scene of the Sublime

So, it is Halloween again and this news deserves a blog update. In honor of Debra Hill, the producer (R.I.P. 2005), who used to be my next-door neighbor ...
... I will make this the basis for a new blog update 2012!!!

The new poster for the re-release:
halloweenposter_LAT_10-24-12 last year's blog ...
Fear of Fright Night (redux):
and lest we forget ... Fear of Fright Night redux:
Just in time for

Halloween ...

... my updated essay on classic horror films entitled “Fear of Fright Night.” Wrote the original in 2001 for an AOL site called Entertainment Asylum. Find the page here. I wrote numerous pieces for Entertainment Asylum in my tenure as an AOL correspondent/content editor, but only this one was saved for posterity.

Flashforward to 2010, and I can now put up this considered reprise, recollected in tranquility entitled ...


Halloween Goes to the Movies

Watching Scary Movies in the relative safety of a theater with hundreds of other people around us will not turn us into raving, bloodthirsty lunatics. On the contrary, it's a cheap alternative to seeing a shrink.

By Noë Gold
We are now in the midst of another cycle of shock films, loosely categorized by film historians as the horror genre but I'll just call 'em Scary Movies, since these film historians tend to quarrel and quibble about what exactly is a horror film. I say "cycle" because these films come in bunches, about every twenty years or so, and are extremely popular. The films in the late-'90s crop (typified by "Scream," "Scream 2," "I Know What You Did Last Summer," "Disturbing Behavior", the latter-day "Halloween: H2O" and the equally sequel-tastic "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer") have one thing in common: they're not "monster movies" like "Frankenstein" or "The Fly" or any of the creepy horror films that were popular in the fifties.

1530 North Orange Grove Ave. across the street stood in for the Doyle residence, where Laurie was baby-sitting Tommy in "Halloween." Looking the same as when the movie was filmed there 30 years ago, except the brick pillars in the front are filled in with hedges. The panicked children ran from the house between the pillars and onto the street. Photo by Noë Gold

The Scary Movie of the nineties relies more on psychological terror than the obvious makeup-enhanced movies of that more innocent era. It deals with ordinary people in ordinary situations who come across a deviant like "Halloween's" Mike Myers. The suspense in H20 is more on account of the audience's expectations and the throbbing, spooky music than from any obvious monster. Mike Myers comes with a lot of baggage, and it's all hidden beneath that very ordinary white Halloween mask. The effect is much more chilling than Godzilla or Keith Richards could ever hope to be.

Why is this Scary cycle surfacing again now? On the surface, things are fairly stable in modern-day society. Crime statistics are down, the economy is whistling along and Charles Manson is tucked away neatly in prison with no hope of escape. So why do we flock to movies that scare the gizzards out of us? Because it gives us pleasure. When there are no real things to be scared of, we go to the movies to shake things up. In a weird way, it's therapeutic.

To illustrate this point, I call forth a reference in a seminal book by an author I used to know who taught me a lot about the genre, Carlos Clarens. On the frontispiece of his Illustrated History of the Horror Films, Carlos quotes sociologist Roland Penrose from his work, Violence in Contemporary Art: "The bogey of violence is particularly horrifying and intolerable to us when we meet it in cold blood. The arts, however, avoid its brutal impact by their appeal to the emotions, they warm us to its presence, turning terror into enjoyment and cruelty into compassion. We participate in the act of violence without suffering its evil consequences. Art, in fact, allows us, as in certain rituals, to satisfy our Olympian yearning to stimulate the forces of nature. Its nonviolent power has a therapeutic and catalytic influence."

So, watching Scary Movies in the relative safety of a theater with hundreds of other people around us will not turn us into raving, bloodthirsty lunatics. On the contrary, it's a cheap alternative to seeing a shrink. For the same reason we pay money and wait in long lines to ride the shriekiest roller coaster, we go to the movies to get our hair lifted. Steve Miner, who directed H20, says it this way: "My favorite scary film of all time was Psycho, which I could not sit through. I never saw the whole movie until I was an adult. Halloween I found reminiscent in spirit of that kind of movie: unrelentingly scary and suspenseful and atmospheric. I think people like to be scared because they can go to the edge without really being there."

Kevin Williamson, the Dawson's Creek director who wrote the screenplay of H20 as well as that of Scream, credits Halloween for what he is today. "Halloween is and always has been my favorite film of all time," he says. "It wasn't just a movie, it was an experience. ... The audience participation factor was one of the most incredible parts of the movie. The way the audience jumped and screamed at the characters on screen got my blood pumping. It was this effect in Halloween that made me realize that I wanted to be a filmmaker.

Okay, what about that "every twenty years" theory? It's no coincidence that the current Halloween is subtitled H20, since the original Halloween was released in 1978. That one put its director, John Carpenter, on the map and kicked off the career of Jamie Lee Curtis as well (it was her first feature film). H20 has among its co-stars Jamie Lee's mom, Janet Leigh, who was the star victim of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, released 18 years before Halloween in 1960 (and later to be redone in a faithful translation by Gus Van Sant). Carpenter's stated purpose in conceiving Halloween was that he wanted to create a picture that would play like a full-length version of the shower scene in Psycho.

Go back roughly twenty years from Psycho and you have the beginning of another Scary cycle in the early forties. A series of films produced by Val Lewton has a lot in common with what the Scary cycle of the nineties is going for - psychological horror with no monsters or creatures in sight. The great director Jacques Tourneur did more with camera angles, lighting and sound to chill the audience's bones with his masterpieces the original Cat People and his follow-up I Walked With a Zombie. I command you to go out and rent these right now so you can see what I mean.

The first of these twenty-year cycles, just to round out my argument, goes back to Germany in the twenties. You won't be able to rent Paul Weggener's Student of Prague or his series of films about the Golem, a vengeful Jewish monster who haunted Czechoslovakia. But there is also The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu, the original vampire story (with Max Schreck as the Vampire). And rounding out the cycle is The Hands of Orlac, with Caligari's Conrad Veidt, about a concert pianist who has the hands of a murderer grafted on after he loses his in an accident. The fright genre moved (along with a number of German filmmakers escaping the Nazis) to America for its next cycle, and it is also no great coincidence that another one of these German exports, Peter Lorre, made his American film debut in 1935 in a remake of Orlac called Mad Love, another one that you must rent or seek out on cable TV.

Which is all to say that what comes around goes around in the world of roller coasters and Scary Movies. Now that I have given you a quick sense of its history, it's a good time to grab a ride.

PS, there’s also a neato keeno compendium of creature features here on the same site:

.... and in this photo gallery from The Hollywood Reporter:

also ...

LA Times 10-24-12

‘Halloween’: John Carpenter classic returns for theatrical run
Oct. 24, 2012 | 6:00 a.m.

Michael Myers, the masked silent Shape that emerged from the shadows of Haddonfield, Ill., to stalk generations of moviegoers, will return to theaters Thursday for a re-release of John Carpenter’s landmark 1978 horror film “Halloween,” just in time for the Oct. 31 holiday.
Trancas International Films, in partnership with Compass International Pictures and Screenvision, will open “Halloween” in roughly 560 theaters in the U.S. and more in the United Kingdom this week, marking the widest release the film has had since its original run.
With the 35th anniversary of “Halloween” arriving next year, it seemed the right time to resurrect Carpenter’s classic in a proper theatrical setting, according to Justin Beahm, Trancas’ vice president of licensing and new media. …..

“He isn’t a destination creature,” Beahm said. “In ‘Jaws,’ the shark’s only a threat when you’re in the water. In so many films, you have to venture into the darkness or into the mysterious whatever to find the creature. Michael exists in the shadows in our own homes. He’s in the closet. That never goes away, that’s always going to be relevant to people and there’s a real timelessness to it.”
– Gina McIntyre

Weho Houses' Spooky 'Halloween' History
Scenes from John Carpenter's visionary 1978 film were shot on North Orange Grove Avenue.
By Noe Gold
October 29, 2010

Short URL:

… and speaking about Halloween, this piece is a perennial:
Fear of Fright Night
Why the current crop of horror films holds no candle to the original masters
By Noe Gold

Monday, October 1, 2012

Ballad of a thin man

Ballad of a thin man by Doctor Noe
Ballad of a thin man, a photo by Doctor Noe on Flickr.
A magic quote from Mikal Gilmore's califragilistic interview (Bob Dylan Rolling Stone cover story Sept. 27, 2012) comes at the end with a reference to Dylan's supposed nod to the Civil War poetry of Henry Timrod. This is so Zim:

"Oh yeah, in folk and jazz, quotation is a rich and enriching tradition. That certainly is true. It's true for everybody, but me. I mean, everybody else can do it but not me. There are different rules for me. And as far as Henry Timrod is concerned, have you ever heard of him? Who's been reading him lately? And who's pushed him to the forefront? Who's been making you read him? And ask his descendants what they think of the hoopla. And if you think it's so easy to quote him and it can help your work, do it yourself and see how far you can get. Wussies and pussies complain about that stuff. It's an old thing – it's part of the tradition. It goes way back. These are the same people that tried to pin the name Judas on me. Judas, the most hated name in human history! If you think you've been called a bad name, try to work your way out from under that. Yeah, and for what? For playing an electric guitar? As if that is in some kind of way equitable to betraying our lord and delivering him up to be crucified. All them evil motherfuckers can rot in hell."

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Jimi & The Who Guitar World PromoSticker

OK, so there's a story behind this piece. Hendrix arrived in London in 1966 under the wing of new manager Chas Chandler, and he was treated like royalty forthwith. At the time, the Beatles and the Stones were the reigning rock royalty, Beck and Clapton, the guitar kings and The Who endowed with the most flamboyant stage act.

All of these came to visit when Chandler arranged for Jimi's society "coming out," the first to be converted being Clapton, when Hendrix jammed with him on a version of "Killing Floor" at a Cream gig. The rest followed after a slew of barn-burning club appearances. The Who had a connection to Hendrix by virtue of the fact that the group's managing team of Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp also owned Track Records, to which they aspired to sign the Experience.

Pete Townshend said at the time that he feared, "Oh God, Kit Lambert has found another guitar player." Then, in a packed London theater, Hendrix put the icing on it, making him a dangerous act to follow: He burned his guitar at the end of the set, causing absolute mayhem.

This was not lost on The Who, who previously had been famed for other, less incendiary stage antics, such as the simple destruction of a Rickenbacker guitar. At Monterey a little while later, the question of who was to follow Who came up again. The Who won the coin toss, in an effort to not repeat the debacle of the London Savile Theatre show in which Hendrix had wiped them out even before they hit the stage, they tore it up.

But Hendrix was not to be outdone. He followed The Who with a set of stellar pyrotechnics, climaxed by the burning of the midnight Strat.

Jimi & The Who, original pic by Barry Peake, used here on a promo sticker (and a tee-shirt) promoting the Guitar World "Unpublished Hendrix" special issues.

November 27 is Jimi's birthday!


It was a promo for this historic issue!


Saturday, June 30, 2012

More on Jimi Hendrix' meeting with Leonard Nimoy

More on Jimi Hendrix' meeting with Leonard Nimoy

JimiCleveland RadioWKYC_3-26-1968

Photo credit: George Shuba/Commerce Studio

This is from the 

Interestingly enough, on the same page, there are two more pics which relate to the "Jimi and Leonard Nimoy" post of last month. It details two photos, credited to "George Shuba/Commerce Studio" that fill in the blanks on Jimi's historic meeting with Spock March 26, 1968 at Cleveland Radio Station WKYC on a visit to deejay Chuck Knapp. Curiously, the Leonard Nimoy story in my earlier post was about WKYC personality Chuck Dunaway. They sure do look alike:.

Jimi Hendrix & Leonard Nimoy
Photo credited to "George Shuba/Commerce Studio" ...  Jimi's historic meeting with Spock March 26, 1968 at Cleveland Radio Station WKYC on a visit to deejay Chuck Dunaway.

I got my copy from Hendrix collector David Pearcy.

Please see my earlier post:

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Les' birthday, RIP Les Paul - June 9, 1915 - August 13, 2009

Les Paul by John Peden_1983 by Doctor Noe
Les Paul by John Peden_1983, a photo by Doctor Noe on Flickr.
By Noë Gold
Photo by the great John Peden

The Wizard of Waukesha was the cover subject in Guitar World March, 1983, in which we published Part I of the Les Paul odyssey to Mahwah known as Jersey Guitar Safari and which will be chronicled in a forthcoming tome. Les did say at the time that this visit by a half-dozen GW pilgrims was what got him off his ass to begin playing again, first at a place called Fat Tuesdays and later at Iridium, where he played every Monday night till the day he died, practically.

Noe the G and the Guitar World crew, composed of John Peden, photographer; Perry Margouleff, guitar maven; Bob Davis, "Les' adopted son"; Peter Mengaziol, the techno-wiz who did the full-on two-part interview, went on a guitar safari to Les Paul's house in Mahwah, NJ, where we got the royal tour of all his wondrous gadgets as we prepared an article about the "Wizard of Waukesha."

Go to for information.

Here is what the GW blog says currently:

You're not much of a guitar magazine if you don't acknowledge guitar inventor, recording innovator and master musician Les Paul. Guitar World writer Peter Mangaziol was fortunate enough to interview Paul at his home in New Jersey, which was described as a guitar tinkerer's playground.
By 1983 Guitar World was on its way. Readership was growing, feedback was voluminous (and mostly positive), and some of the world's biggest musicians were gracing the covers.
This year saw interviews with Pete Townshend, Jaco Pastorius and even the legendary Les Paul. Sadly, it also saw the death of Muddy Waters, one of the most important and influential guitarists of the 20th century. As the chronicles of Guitar World continued to grow, it would become evident that every new and exciting discovery would in turn be undercut by unavoidable loss.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Jimi Hendrix and Leonard Nimoy with Chuck Dunaway

Jimi w Leonard Nimoy by Doctor Noe

Jimi w Leonard Nimoy, a photo by Doctor Noe on Flickr.Noel Redding, left, Leonard Nimoy, center, and Jimi Hendrix,second from right, in Ohio not long before the guitar hero’s death in 1970.
This is about the meeting between the great Yiddishist, Leonard Nimoy aka Spock and the Master of the Stratocaster, Yiddel Mitt'n Fiedel aka Jimi Hendrix.

I've had this pic in my collection for some time, given to me by ace Hendrix historian David Pearcy. It chronicles a meeting in Cleveland on March 26th, 1968. The night before Jimi was already in town and played at Otto's Grotto jamming with local band Good Earth. The Experience played two shows on the night of the 26th, and Leonard Nimoy was in attendance. Later on, they met at the club and talked for hours. They even continued on to Jimi's hotel room and talked again until 2 or 3 a.m.

The man who put these two giants together was Cleveland radio veteran Chuck Dunaway. Here's how he tells it in his memoir:

"Two days before the phone call from Joe, I had made a fashion-show appearance at Higbee's department store with Leonard Nimoy of "Star Trek" fame. The night before the fashion show, Jerry Hall, the local promotion man for Nimoy's label and an old friend from Texas, had arranged for the three of us to have dinner together, even though I had nothing to do with picking music for the station.

"Nimoy and I hit it off, talking politics for hours after dinner in his hotel room. At the fashion show, I told Nimoy of the Time magazine article. Leonard said he had heard of Hendrix, and decided to stay in Cleveland another day, joining me at the Hendrix 'impromptu' guest shot with the local band. So we met Jimi at the club that night and the three of us began talking politics. We were all on the same wavelength, wanting to see the end of the war in Vietnam."

Only recently, in an interview with the LA Times' Hero Complex blogger Geoff Boucher here.

Nimoy recalls what that meeting was like (at 10:24 on the YouTube video):

"I was promoting a recording in Cleveland and [Chuck Dunaway says,] 'Hendrix is in the next room – he heard you were here and he wants to meet you.' I thought about it for a nanosecond, and I went to break some bread with him. He was a true genius – a great, great artist. A tragic end."

Jimi died on September 18th, 1970. He would have been 70 next November 27th.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Mick Taylor – Return of the Boo-Ga-Wee

Mick Taylor shows off that awesome jazzy-bluesy slide work on "You Shook Me" at the Iridium Jazz Club, NYC ~ May 12, 2012 ...

... with that sweet soul section of Hamish Stuart, guitar; Wilbur Bascomb, bass; Max Middleton, keyboards; Jeff Allen, drums; Arno Hecht, sax – the meandering Stone lays down a groove at they club that Les built, or at least made famous.

Mick burns on that Les Paul with the Bigsby vibrato. That, and the fact that Max Middleton is sitting there at the keyboard playing "You Shook Me" makes everything quite appropriate indeed.

"You Shook Me"

When he assays "Can't You Hear Me Knocking," it's more than a snippet, less than epic-length. A punch in the face with a licorice stick of slide goodness.

"Can't You Hear Me Knocking"

I had this to say about MT on my Flickr page:

Jimi & Mick Taylor GW March 1988 P. 33
Jimi & Mick Taylor GW March 1988 P. 33

Three of the four photos on the page (two of Jimi and Keith, two Jimi with Mick Taylor) were indeed stills from the Maysles' unreleased footage. There is a fourth one by photographer Ethan Russell. I blogged on this on Rock's Backpages …

My friend Tom Graves in Memphis calls Mick "one of the best slide players to ever walk the planet."

No lesser light than Keith Richards says that the Mick Taylor era – with a dash of Gram Parsons – was the best the Stones had to offer.

... and speaking' of those bad boys, it's funny that this recent article (May 3, 2012) is in the New York Daily News. My picture was in the NY Post, I mean a picture of me ... not a picture I took:


My sister Anna and I went to see the Stones at Madison Square Garden sometime in the mid-seventies, or maybe it was the Nov. 1969 MSG concert – I am not sure now. We moved up to the front row — in those days you could do that; note the absence of a guard rail and phalanx of beefy mofos. That's us on the lower left hand portion of your screen. We got doused by Mick and made the front page of the New York Post.

PS, I love this bit from the interview with Mick in the Daily News:

Mick Taylor: The best musician ever to play with the Rolling Stones returns
Guitarist plays Iridium

By Jim Farber
May 3, 2012
Since his departure, Taylor has worked with the band periodically, adding bits to “Tattoo You” in 1981 and even recording overdubs for last year’s re-release of “Exile on Main Street,” which includes his sole songwriting credit (“Ventilator Blues”). But he remains cagey about rumors he’ll rejoin the Stones on a proposed 50th anniversary tour next year. “I don’t know,” is all he’ll say.
In the meantime, Taylor just collaborated with Ron Wood on a song for “CSI: Miami.” And he plans to continue the rambling life of the journeyman musician he’s enjoyed for over three decades. It’s a role that allows him to indulge his truest love: the blues. “It all comes back to the blues,” he says. “Ultimately, that’s where we all go for nourishment and for warmth.”

Only way I know to close out this blog about Mick is with another video. He really burns on "Blind Willie McTell," a Bob Dylan tune.

"Blind Willie McTell"

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Jimmy Page – Magnificent Obsession

NOW HERE'S THE THING about how FaceBook works. We are having this fine discussion of Jimmy Page's axology, so I reach over to my copy of Guitar World October 1988, "The Resurrection of Jimmy Page" issue – I believe it was the last issue I edited, in fact, before moving out to LA – and here is a piece of a great seminal interview with the man by Bud Scoppa with Max Kay:

GW: What was your primary guitar at that stage [early session work days]?
PAGE: A Les Paul Custom – the one that got ripped off over here. The "Black Beauty," I think they called it. It's the one that has the frets pretty far down. I had it re-fretted anyway, so the frets were higher. Yeah, most of the session work was done on that, using a Burns amplifier, and then also I had a Fender Super Reverb. …

GW: When did the Marshall enter your life?
PAGE: I was producing John Mayall and Eric Clapton for Immediate Records and that's the first time I saw [laughs] and experienced that. I thought it was fabulous but I couldn't have one of these – not in the studio environment that I was working in. 'Cause the volume and such wasn't quite the thing.


GW: What about the wah-wah?
PAGE: [noticing Guitar World's special issue on JIMMY PAGE opened to the spread on his guitars] ...

   ...   I see you've got a picture of [the Danelectro] here. They did a great job [on the issue], didn't they?I had no idea at the time that that's what they were doing. Anyhow, that's the one that I used for the slide part – the Danelectro. And I've always used that [for slide], actually.

GW: You also used the Danelectro during the "Atlantic Fortieth Anniversary" show, as I recall.
PAGE: "Kashmir" was done on that, anyway initially – the recording of it.

GW: So your primary axes are still the '58 Les Paul Standard, the Danelectro and the Telecaster with the B-String Bender –
PAGE: And the '60 Strat.


GW: … Does the setup of the album ("Outrider")'s two side – the rockers and the blues songs – follow the chronology of the recordings?
PAGE: No, it wasn't done like that.

GW: It was just a free-for-all, then.
PAGE: Not quite a free-for-all. A very controlled free-for-all

GW: I'm just trying to understand the specifics of your process.
PAGE: It fascinates you, doesn't it, this process?

GW: Yeah, it does. What could be more fascinating than an artist's creative process?
PAGE: I don't see how the creative process with me is any different than it can be with anybody else, really. I wouldn't think so. I mean, as far as the initial spark goes, anyway.

GW: Well, I understand that the initial spark just arrives – but then you have to direct, refine and focus it.
PAGE: Mmm, of course, absolutely. And I wouldn't think that was any different with anybody else, either. Well, Maybe so.

WITH THAT, Page was off to LAX to catch a flight back to London, but not before sayingh, with optimum magnanimity, "See you in the fall, I guess." While loading up my notes and tape recorder in the now-empty hotel room, I spotted the bag, still packed with burgers and fries, on the floor beneath the chair where Page had been sitting. He'd been too polite, or too self-conscious, to eat in front of me. Oh Well – they'd feed him on the plane. But it wouldn't be Burger King.

Pagey in 2009 – photo by © Noe Gold


This Note inpired by ...
Led Zep "Heartbreaker" – a steam roller rolling over a chicken coup.
a thread on FB:
By Greg Martin
8 May, 2012 at 10:15 ·

When this kicks in, it's like a steam roller rolling over a chicken coup. This still fires me up today, Jimmy's solo is over the top. Wonder what he was using on this track? Les Paul or Telecaster, Marshall or Supro amp? We want to know
 – Perry Margouleff!

Led Zeppelin - Heartbreaker
Led Zeppelin - Heartbreaker Copyright - 1969 Atlantic Records
"Heartbreaker" is a song from English rock band Led Zeppelin's 1969 album, Led Zeppelin II. It ...

Greg Martin I always said Page's solo was like a "Slinky" coming down the steps, it's too cool!

Bruce Reed I think he had switched to the LP/Marshall setup at this time

Perry Margouleff Call me and we can talk.

Doug TheSubstitutes Ginther ‘58 Les Paul Standard and Marshall 100-watt amps Vox electric 12-string and a Vox solid-state amp.

Kim Shaheen I have this album on 4 track, not the 8tr cartridge, an actual 1/8-inch tape reel. LZ II actually has a name. I've never seen it mentioned but it's called "The Only Way to Fly."

Jim Gaines I'd be willing to bet on the LP. This month's Guitar World has a cover story featuring Joe Walsh where he tells about the James Gang touring with LZ right before the first album hit big and his flying to NYC to sell Page one of his 59s for 1200 dollars.

Wade Daffron I'm thinking Tele through Supro.

Bruce Reed

Chris McElrath I agree with Wade Daffron.

Bruce Reed Tele through Valco (Supro) on 1st album, then it's a whole new ballgame!

Jim Gaines Before I forget, it's the LP that became Page's Number One, according to Joe.

Chris McElrath For one thing, he is getting some insane behind-the-nut bends that I have never been able to come close to approximating on anything besides a Telecaster, because there simply isn't enough space between the string and the headstock wood to push down on the string that far unless you are playing a six-on-a-side, Fender-type headstock. Just my wild guess. ...

Wade Daffron I'm sure many of y'all have done this already, but it's really worth the time and trouble to seek out some of the old Yardbirds bootlegs (on vinyl!) and you will certainly hear the genesis of Page's early Zep sound.

Wade Daffron Oh man, Mr. McElrath, I never thought about that! That's genius! I know exactly what you mean about reaching up there and pushing those strings. Teles are also good for rolling the volume knob for that pedal steel sound, of course.

Greg Martin I still have "Yardbirds: Live At The Anderson Theater" and "Little Games" on Vinyl, bought them when they came out. I bought the Anderson Theater LP for a $1 at Grant's Department Store in Louisville, after Page had it pulled off the market. They had a pile of them in 1972. I also have the new "Glimpses" box set.

Wade Daffron Oh my, that's some good stuff right there. I'm gonna have to go look and see what I've got for sure. I know I have some kind of box set, and some others. Some people are amazed when I play them the Yardbirds' version of "Dazed & Confused." They're like, "So, Zep did a cover version?" Oyyy....

Chris McElrath Yeah Wade, I love and own all kinds of different guitars, but at the end of the day I am and always have been a tele man, so I do admittedly have a bias in that direction. But seriously, that section of Page's solo from about 2:08 to 2:14 just SCREAMS Telecaster to me. But I have been wrong a time or two in my life. ...

Greg Martin Here's the genesis of "Dazed And Confused," it's listed as "I'm Confused" on the Yardbirds Anderson Theater LP.

The Yardbirds - Dazed And Confused (1968)
The Yardbirds are an English rock band that had a string of hits in the mid 1960...

Wade Daffron I gotta learn how to upload pics. I just found my copy of "Yardbirds-Last Rave-Up in L.A." It's a THREE-record set (456 of 1,000) on Glimpses Records. Nice, full-color cover and liner notes by "D.S. Cole" (?!). BTW – Nine-minute version of "Dazed And Confused."

Greg Martin Actually, here's the true genius of "Dazed And Confused":

Jake Holmes - Dazed and Confused
Dazed and Confused was written by the folk-rock singer Jake Holmes and released ...

Wade Daffron Holy cow! I had no clue! Great find! I just hope there's not a William Shatner version floating around somewhere...

Greg Martin LOL! Not that I know of, Wade. As far as know, Jake was the inspiration.

Wade Daffron Hey, if you don't mind, y'all (there I go again) check out my most recent post and see if I'm on to something, or need to be put out to pasture. THANKS!

Greg Martin ‎........and the inspiration for "Whole Lotta Love"?

Small Faces - You Need Loving

Wade Daffron Everything I know is wrong. I thought I had read/seen/heard all there is, but I am being schooled seven ways to Sunday!

Greg Martin I absolutely love Jimmy Page. No matter what inspired what, Led Zep and Jimmy are one of the big reasons I wanted to play Guitar in the '60s. I still aspire to learn something from the master himself anytime I can. Thank God for youtube! :)

Nancy Woods Stairway to Heaven was always one of my faves ... that song will take you to another place.

Greg Martin Yep, that one and a little organic help in the '70s took me to another dimension a few times. :)

Wade Daffron I think there's some good "lost" Page stuff-like "I Can't Quit You, Baby" on Coda, and ESPECIALLY "Prison Blues" on the Outrider solo album. I swear, that song has the most sizzling guitar work I've ever heard!

Wade Daffron Hope it's not a "Wet Willie". Dixon. "Keep On Smiling!"

Gregg Hopkins Not the wet one.

Noe Gold Mr. McElrath, the "nut job" theory is a bit of alright!

Mac Whiteside Sounds like an LP at the first, not positive though, then the Tele fer the leads, it just cuts too good ... ditto on the bends ... could we all be right? Always thought he used the Tele on the first couple of albums ... corrections please.

Noe Gold Think the Tele was main ax ...
... but ...

The Yardbirds - Dazed And Confused (1968)

   ... and yet ...

From the man himself Mr. Jimmy Page
Jimmy Page talks about his #1 Les Paul.


Photo copyright © 2009 By Noe Gold - All Rights Reserved or I will kill you.

"It Might Get Loud" Filmmakers 6-19-19

I took this at an intimate press conference for the movie. Watch for my story on -- I'll update here when it posts.

Friday, March 9, 2012

My take on the John Carter Movie

I wanted so much for it to be good for my man Andrew Stanton, whom I have admired for his animation work (see my interview referenced below), but when compared to the more on-the-surface technoid-inspired aesthetic of Jim Cameron, I have to declare, along with Putney Swope, that Putney says the man's got to have more soul. The heart is what is missing from this venture, and as my 15-year-old son noticed, so is Cameron's painstaking attention to detail, seen all too annoyingly in the under-lit 3-D interior scenes.

Here is a heartfelt discussion with Stanton – I wish he could have captured this excitement on the screen:

Uploaded by AtGoogleTalks on Mar 8, 2012

Andrew Stanton stops by Google for a conversation with Chris DiBona. Andrew discusses his inspiration for "John Carter," … traces the evolution of his creative process – from childhood, to Pixar to "John Carter."

The video is supplied for my readers by Walt Disney Studios Publicity.

John Carter clips are Courtesy of The Walt Disney Studios. © 2012 Disney. John Carter TM ERB, Inc.

For my interview with Stanton for Variety, go here:

For Pixar, it's about the story, not the glory

Helmer Stanton keeps innocence, love of storytelling


Andrew Stanton is on the phone from the Bay Area, where he is packing his bags for Tokyo. The movie he directed, "Finding Nemo," will have its premiere in Japan, six months after it opened in the U.S.

"Japan is the last country in the whole world that's getting it," he says. "They speed up the English-speaking countries because of the piracy issues, but the other countries where it's dubbed there's not as much pressure, so Christmas is the best time to open." ...

for more go to

Monday, January 23, 2012

NAMM 2012 Noë & Seymour

NAMM_2012-Noe&Seymour_73•• by Doctor Noe
NAMM_2012-Noe&Seymour_73••, a photo by Doctor Noe on Flickr. Copyright © 2012 Noë Gold

This is Seymour Duncan, a legend in his own right. After covering just about all the square footage at the NAMM show and imbibing of as many free hors d'oeuvres and shots as I could bear, I bumped into Seymour, the legendary maker of pickups and other sound-refracting devices for the likes of Jeff Beck, Yngwie Malmsteen and my beloved compadre Roy Buchanan ...

This one's Roy Buchanan in the glory days with pickup-meister Seymour Duncan. Seymour made his luthier's bones via the apprentice route in Leo Fender's factory in Fullerton. He later applied his craft secrets to the mojo of Tele-masters like Roy Buchanan and Jeff Beck. Seymour will be featured in the full-on "director's cut" documentary version of "Roy Buchanan Telly Talk."

Roy B withSeymour

The photo is featured in Noe the G's teaser trailer for the Roy Buchanan Telly Talk DVD here ...

I joined Seymour as he was setting out to sample the Tennesee soul stew of ...

… Legendary Roots/Blues Guitarist, Grammy Award-winning Producer Pete Anderson, who was holding forth at the lobby of the Hilton Hotel across the way.

You could do worse than to check out my little Youtube report here:

Copyright © 2012 Noë Gold

Meandering at NAMM 2012 - Pete Anderson Live

Pete performs "Blue Guitar" in this buzz clip.

Do check out these links for some highly entertaining and elucidating footage about Seymour:

Seymour Intvw Pt. 1

Seymour Intvw Pt. 2

Seymour Intvw Pt. 3

Seymour Intvw Pt. 4

OK, a lot of groovy coincidences at the NAMM Show in Anaheim yesterday. I'm meandering around the floor, as is my wont, checking out various and sundry devices, maestros, hucksters and weirdos. The usual menagerie of sound and bupkiss.

Back in the day when I was the editor of a national guitar rag, this was a bi-yearly perambulation – summertime they used to hold them in Chicago, but the perk-like excursion for a New York City boy was mos' def the one in January.

So in the spirit of old times I embarked once more into the Orange County breech.

On the advice of Seymour, I went to check out Legendary Roots/Blues Guitarist, Grammy Award-winning Producer Pete Anderson, who was holding forth at the lobby of the Hilton Hotel across the way.

Copyright © 2012 Noë Gold
So I went and indulged. What a show this was! I was overwhelmed and blown away. And while I was thus occupied, I also rubbed elbows with just about every other amigo in the Guitar World I had hoped to see.

So by and large it was a swell day.

Oh yeah, one more thing. Seymour gave me a CD of his music, pointing out that one of the cuts, " OK Roy," was dedicated to Roy Buchanan. You can check out Seymour's music here:

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Zappa's Inferno

FZinGWP2 by Doctor Noe
FZinGWP2, a photo by Doctor Noe on Flickr.

from an interview first published in Guitar World April 1987 on the occasion of the release of THE GUITAR WORLD ACCORDING TO FRANK ZAPPA distributed by Guitar Galaxy in association with Barking Pumpkin

Zappa by Noe the G. - Guitar World, April 1987

Zappa's Inferno

By Noë the G


copyright © Noe Gold

FRANK ZAPPA'S FULLY-EQUIPPED HOME RECORDING STUDIO is where he'd most rather be. "I never go out," he says, though his Laurel Canyon home commands a panoramic view of Los Angeles. "I could be just as happy if all this" – gesturing toward the array of equipment that surrounds him in this devil's advocate's workshop – "were in Utah. Except for the fact that the hardware and technicians are available in the L.A. area, and the stuff can be serviced here." The fact is, all Frank really wants to do is work.

Whether he acknowledges it or not, Zappa has been admired by guitarists for years because of the sheer free-flying gonzo-ness of his solos within the otherwise-precise organization of his compositions. He's always been a real Mother of a player. As a bandleader, his draconian insistence on perfection has brought out the best in his players, especially the guitarists he has introduced to the world through his succession of bands: Lowell George, Adrian Belew, Warren Cuccurullo and Steve Vai all cut their teeth in Zappa's marching society.

We thought about this – your editor, Noe the G., and Associate Publisher Greg Di Benedetto – as we descended with Frank into the bowels of his private inferno, otherwise known as the United Muffin Research Kitchen (U.M.R.K.).

Our purpose was to plan the Guitar World According To Frank Zappa tape-a 34-minute collection of rare Zappa solos on a special GW audio cassette which this magazine will make available in the spring-and to talk about guitar stuff.


Well, Frank was perfectly poised to talk about guitar and to play us some of the hours of great solos he has on all those tapes in his vault. But as far as performing on the instrument, we were surprised to discover, the guitar guru has been getting his playing jollies from entering notes and manipulating them with his Synclavier. For various reasons you will hear in his own words in this interview, Frank hadn't played serious guitar in two years (the last recorded example of Frank playing will be available on our Guitar World According To Frank Zappa tape). He'd even lost his callouses!

But fear not, dear reader. Zappa had plenty to say about playing guitar and where the instrument is going. And, believe us, there's reams of guitar in Frank's vaults, which he continues to classify and release to the public as long as the demand is there, through his own Barking Pumpkin organization. The Shut Up And Play Yer Guitar collections did quite well worldwide, so you can expect more to be released in the future.

And we hear that since our talk with Frank, he's been building up his callouses and thinking about going back on the road with his guitar and a band. The moral: you can take the Zappa out of guitar playing, but it'll take a long time to get all the guitar playing out of Frank Zappa.

Let me get a level on the tape recorder. Say, "The poodle bites."
Frank Zappa: The poodle chews it.

Come on, Frenchie! Do you see a conceptual continuum between, say, "Call Any Vegetable" and Shut Up And Play Yer Guitar? Or between the Mothers 0f Invention and the Mothers of Prevention?
There are some links, yeah. The main drawback of the medium I'm working in is, until I got the computer I was locked into making music based on the assets and/or liabilities of the guys in the band. In other words, if you want to write something that's faster than what the guys can play, you can't hear it, because they can't play it that fast. Or if you want something for an instrumentation that you don't have in the band, then you won't hear it. But now that I can do it with a computer, that's not a problem anymore.

Was it always that way? When you were writing parts for, say Roy Estrada, or anybody in the early days for instance, it was all charted out, and-
N0--because, the only time I ever had a band where everybody could read [music] was the band that had Jean-Luc Ponty and Ralph Humphrey, and Ian and Ruth [Underwood] and George [Duke], that was a reading band. And Grand Wazoo, that was a reading band. All the rest of 'em were like half-and-half. Half the guys could read, half of 'em couldn't.

Now with the computer--the Synclavier-- you don't need the band to work out the music. What about the quality of the sound itself?
I'll play you some tapes; you tell me.

What about MIDI? Some say it's the next big thing. Others say, "it's not a guitar anymore."
It's either guitar plus or guitar minus, depending on how you look at it. The big problem with doing anything MIDI is the lag. It's like learning how to play a church pipe organ. Because when you press a key on a pipe organ, the sound doesn't come out right away. It's the same thing with MIDI. You have to get used to the lag. I can't. I haven't played a guitar synthesizer yet that feels comfortable.

With the Synclavier, can you explain that? The mechanical differences in working with that.
What? for the way I compose on it? I can enter information with the octapad, and I can enter it with the keyboard, or I can type it in.

Can you spontaneously jam with it?
Yeah. You can take a completely improvised line and build an entire composition out of it.
You see, it's still a single line. But with this, you can improvise a single line and have that line being played by a whole ensemble of instruments and actually have those instruments play that line in harmony. It's not an improvised line anymore. It's an arrangement.

What is all that activity doing to your guitar playing per se---
Haven't touched it in two years.
[There is a brief pause as the interviewers collect what's left of their minds from the floor.]

You haven't?
[Zappa sits back in his chair, letting this one sink in.]

You don't miss it at all?
Every once in a while... but I don't play a style that is contemporary, you know? I don't do all the 1980s guitar noises. Unfortunately, the audience for guitar playing has a real narrow interest span. If you don't sound like Eddie Van Halen, then apparently you don't actually play guitar any more. I have no intention of ever sounding like Eddie Van Halen, and, uh, it makes you wonder why you would even bother to play the guitar, because the current audience would listen to it and go, "That's not a guitar. It doesn't go 'wee wee wee wee, wee wee wee wee.'" So why do it?

Dweezil would probably rebut that, what with his own infatuation for Ed Van Halen.
I'm not saying anything against Eddie because I think what he's done for the guitar is wonderful. But the thing that's tragic
about the marketplace is that everybody decided that they were all going to do that, and then the competition is not musical. It's gymnastic. Okay, they say, "I want to sound like Eddie, but in order to be better than Eddie I have to be faster than Eddie." That seems to be the aesthetic operating procedure in the marketplace. Meanwhile, Edward probably sits back and goes, "These guys are really stupid." Because I don't think that's what he had in mind when he developed the style.
It's just like with MTV. MTV has a certain look, because it has a limited pictorial vocabulary. All the videos are made up of certain icons. If you don't work in that vocabulary, then the MTV audience doesn't perceive it as a real video, know what I mean? It's gotta have certain things in it. So, take your pick. You can write hooks and go in there and do that shit, or you can do something else. I decided to do something else.
I'm looking for whatever else is out there. I'm looking for different structures, different sounds, different types of harmonic combinations. Different rhythms.

The guitar ... aside from being busy with other stuff, the reason you put it down two years ago or whatever ... does it not give you that anymore? Because I personally--and a lot of our readers--love your guitar sound. To me that always meant your personal voice within whatever music we were hearing. If you had the band going precision and precise ... but when you hit the guitar solo, it was not precise at all. It was something transcendent, something out.
It's another vegetable. The problem is, most of the best stuff that I will physically be able to do on the guitar is already on tape. You just haven't heard it yet. I mean, I don't have much incentive to play it. I don't have any callouses anymore. I can still think guitar. But to physically manipulate it, I would have to go back in and woodshed for months on end just to be able to do it. For what? There's really no audience for it. Which is not to say that there's a great audience for this new digital stuff either, but I have more incentive to work on this, because it leads to other more interesting things than to sit in there and practice the guitar. Because even when I was playing the guitar I didn't practice. You know? When I was on the road I would do an hour a day before the show, but, I've never been one of those guys ... Dweezil practices non-stop, day in, day out.

So the guitar solo right now, doesn't really play a role in your music? Even for things that can't be done with the Synclavier?
Well, look at it this way: I got plenty of tapes of these things. I can release another guitar solo album. And, when you see what the guitar solo has been reduced to in contemporary music, it's like an eight-bar fill. And during that fill, you're supposed to play every hammer-on lick that you know as fast as you can play it, followed by 15 feedback noises and then get the fuck out of there. You know, that's what the guitar solo has been reduced to, and that's not the medium I've ever worked in.

I recall you saying once that the hardest thing to accomplish in a guitar solo is to come up with a distinct melody within that solo. The solo itself would be ... improvised.
Yeah, just make it up on the spot--

But a melody--
--Yeah, well listen to what's going on in solos today. When was the last time you heard someone make one up with a melody?

When you're composing, and you're working with the Synclavier, and you get to a point where in the old days you were thinking about composing for the guitar as well, what do you do at that juncture? Do you put a coda-type thing in there?
It would be difficult to talk about what I'm doing over there since you don't know what it is. I should just stop the tape and go over there and show you what I'm doing.
[Stops tape and we get a demo of Frank composing on the Synclavier He taps out a few seemingly random rhythms, makes some observations of the CRT screen and manipulates parameters of music around the "random rhythms." The music coming out of the Synclavier is many-faceted, but typical Zappa, with percussive marimbaesque runs and odd cat growls prancing about together.]

That sounds like your music. Same guy.
Are you familiar with the piece on the Shut Up And Play Yer Guitar album called "While You Were Out?" Well, on the new album [Jazz From Hell] there's a deluxe computer version of that. But it's not played by a guitar.
I look at that thing-the recording console-and it's like a musical instrument, if you use it the right way. You've gotta start with a musical idea. if it's not a musical idea what is it? An equation?

How do you get that? How do you start? Do you have entire complicated things full-blown that spring out of your brain, or do you start with something small and you build it up?
Sometimes, I have a complete vision of what the thing is and it's just drudgery to go in there and execute the vision. And another way is, you start by hitting a couple of notes on that [Synclavier], and if you like it you save 'em and make a piece on it, and if you don't you throw it away.

How do you keep track of everything? On each floppy, there's like a million things...
Aaah! then you have to have a good memory.

Yet, when we first started talking about this interview, we discussed guitar noisemakers and these devices that you seem to have a fondness for--the Green Ringers and the Uni-Vibes and such. Things that give that idiosyncratic, anarchic tone.
Well, I like the sound of a guitar. My idea of the best use of a guitar is some thing that's personal ... not necessarily commercially viable. There are things I like to hear coming out of a guitar. But that's my personal taste.

The Shut Up And Play Yer Guitar series, how did the three records do commercially?
Real good, as a matter of fact. And it surprised the shit out of a lot of people. For example, when it was first released, there
were 30,000 units of that three-record box sold in France alone. Which is some thing of a merchandising miracle in that country. It's done well and it's still selling.

So, are you going to do any more of those?
Yeah, I got another one that I've been fooling around with.

And that's all stuff, like what you said before, "I don't have to play guitar because I have so much stuff already" and it's--
--it's on tape, right.

Do you have any urge to play at all in public any more?
I'd have to have an awful good reason, and in order to play in public I'd have to learn to how to play the guitar again--literally. I don't have any callouses. I couldn't bend the strings.

It's weird because we're from a guitar magazine and you're not really into playing guitar anymore.
Well, what's that got to do with releasing guitar records? As I told you, there's plenty of stuff on tape. I can play you some stuff--examples of what's lurking in the archives. I've even sequenced a few of the solos, but I haven't come up with a satisfactory sequence for about six sides of guitar stuff ... there's just masses to choose from [Solos Frank is talking about will be available as The Guitar World According To Frank Zappa in a future issue of this magazine. Watch for it--GW Ed.]

How were these recorded?
All live.

They are live. So how do you deal with the 24-track?
They're all different. Some of them were recorded four-track live, but that doesn't mean they sound cheesy. One thing I always hated to do was play guitar in a studio. I always thought it was an incredibly boring experience.

Like playing in a vacuum, isn't it? So therefore, in order to really play guitar, you've got to hire a band, and that becomes cumbersome. And I guess nobody's going to want to audition just to be in Frank's back-up band, just so Frank can play guitar. If it's not necessarily going to go on a record or something.
That's true. It's the law of supply and demand, you know? There ya go.

But with all this involvement, do you still keep up with who the musicians are around here?
No. I mean, the guys who were good yesterday are still good today-unless they've nuked themselves with drugs. The guys that are going to be good, we'll eventually hear about 'em anyway.

Do you still hear from some of the guys you've played with? Does Steve Vai, for instance, keep in touch with you?
Yeah, he comes over every once in a while. But he was on the road for a year.

How did you first meet up with him?
He sent me a cassette. When he was 17.

And he was in a music school at the time.

How about Adrian Belew?
I found Adrian working in a bar in Memphis, Tennessee. He was working in a bar band. They were all dressed like the Godfather. They had, you know, fake mob-type suits on and stuff and he was doing Roy Orbison imitations.

I never would have thought of him like that. Did you hire him on the spot?
No. I don't hire people right away. I give them a chance to audition.

Was he always into that Hendrix thing, or did he develop it later?
He was doing some of it at that show.

Can you give our readers any practical advice?
Give me a field. Help them with what? Getting a job? How's this?: You want to get a job? Practice all your licks real fast. Get a good wardrobe. Get a good barber. Want to get a record contract? Get a good wardrobe, get a good barber. Don't even worry about how you play. They're not signing musicians anymore, they're signing models. Make sure you look good.
Look, everybody who buys a record has a right to buy what they like. And obviously, somebody really enjoys what's being produced today, or they wouldn't buy it. However, I think there's more to music than what is being made available by the record companies because they have been completely bamboozled by the video music syndrome. Record companies have made a major mistake. MTV came along and they thought, "Oh! this is it. We're no longer going to make records"--those little plastic things that people listen to?--"What we're going to do, we're going to sign groups that look like models, so that they can have a video on MTV."
The down side of this is the record companies are now totally at the mercy of MTV--that's their main outlet. How many videos can they show on MTV? Not that many. This limits the opportunity for people who actually play music. To play music, because you're not going on MTV unless you belong on MTV; furthermore, you're probably not going to get a record contract unless the guy at the record company thinks you look good.
Now, not all musicians are beautiful people. In fact a lot of 'em would generally qualify as being physically unattractive. But so what? If you like a record, you can listen to that record a hundred times and still get off on it. If you like a video, how many times can you watch it? Six, ten? Thirty, if you're a vegetable. And then it's old.
So the record industry has kind of chosen this one path and I think they made a mistake. Thev have igoored the desires of that segment of the audience that likes to listen to music. They like to hear it. It goes in through your ears. Video music is another thing. It goes in through your eyes. And better than 50 percent of what you experience is visual. The music is secondary to the pictures. So, if musicians who are just beginning think only of how much money they're going to make and whether or not they're going to have that big video career ... they have to decide right now whether or not they want to play music or be a model. And if it's the bucks they're after, like I said, "Get yourself a good wardrobe. Get a good barber. Don't worry too much about what you're going to play," because the chances are, if your publicity picture really looks good, the guy at the record company won't even listen to your tape. If you got the look, they'll find a producer to make you sound like something, because all you're ever going to do is lip-sync it anyway. Okay? You're never really gonna have to play it live. Chances are some producer hired by the company will come in and do what you're supposed to be able to do. And if that sounds like science fiction, I bet there's plenty of people right now, readin' the magazine saying, "Yeah, that's what I want to do!" And they should do it. Because there's somebody who wants to buy that. But that's not music as far as I'm concerned.

Did you give Dweezil that advice before he put his lp out? Apparently, it's worked, because he's gotten on MTV. And he looks good, so----
--well, I can't help the way he looks. And he chooses his own wardrobe, but the fact of the matter is that Dweezil can actually play an instrument.

So that's a fluke, according to your theory of how musicians make it these days.
Yeah, yeah. Uh, he's a mutation.

No more school for him, right?
He was out of school at 15 because in California you can take the high school equivalency test at 15 and get a diploma. So he's out. Moon did the same thing.

So he's not going to college, or ...
Why should he? He doesn't want to be a dentist, he doesn't want to be a lawyer. He wants to be a guitar player.

Are you aware of people like Yngwie Malmsteen?
I know who he is. Dweezil played me a tape of his.

What do you think of him?
Uh, not my style. Good ...

Does Dweezil look up to him? Is he influenced by him?
I think everybody who does gymnastic guitar and looks at other gymnastic guitarists sort of goes, "How fast is he movin' his fingers?" It is a competitive thing. But you have to ask him about that.

Yngwie himself might be an original, but if everybody's copying him, that shows you how bankrupt people are.
Yeah, but come on; in the seventies everybody was going as fast as John McLaughiin. As long as the media celebrates the guy who is the fastest, that's what people are going to go for.
I think it is wonderful to be able to play fast. It's even more wonderful to play things that are impossible. It's even more wonderful to defeat the law of averages. Things that you play fast are usually things that you rehearse fast. I'll tell ya a fast guitar player--Tommy Tedesco. You want to hear somebody play some scales? Go hear Tommy. Tommy can play other stuff, too.

You've talked about your antecedents, like Johnny Guitar Watson and others you were influenced by. There's no obvious trace of them. It must be less literal.
What I've taken from them is not from their sound it's their attitude. I'm probably stylistically closer to Guitar Slim than anybody else. But since nobody knows what he did ...[laughter]. There's a couple of solos he played that I thought were landmarks--but they were very obscure.
Watson, he's the original minimalist guitar player. The solo on "Lonely Nights," the one-note guitar solo? Says it all! Gets the point across. I can remember guitar players in high school learning that solo and just going, "But how does he get it to sound that way?" lt really- was one note. If you can play that note against those chord changes and derive the same emotional impact that he got from playing that note, then you're onto something. He can make that one be so nasty. You know, like, "What's behind that note? What is the mode? Why are you continuing to play the tonic when the dominant chord comes around? Are you goin' like this
[gestures with his middle finger in the "F-you" position] with your playing or what?" You have to learn how to do that.

A lot of the new kids playing today aren't really concerned with all that. And they should be.
Really, though, if you take away the gymnastics, you have to say, "What's the message here!" It's like, uh, a pissing contest [laughter].

But it's weird, Frank. Here we are, the editors of a guitar magazine, we keep seeing the evidence of this copying of styles that is so prevalent today. And we keep going, like, "What can we do to turn these people onto somebody, like, 'Listen to a Wes Montgomery record'" or something like that?
You know what happens if you turn 'em on to that? They'll copy Wes Montgomery. Because this is a copycat society.

Why is that? It wasn't always like that.
The answer is very simple. It's the same way you train a dog. When you don't want him to do something, you hit him on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper. When you do want him to do something. you give him a biscuit. Okay? All the biscuits have been given to copycats. Does anybody in guitar magazines ever say, "Wait a minute. You should get the newspaper on the nose if you're coming out sounding like the guy next door." You don't get the newspaper on the nose. People are being praised and rewarded for copying other people. Look at the award shows on television, People become exalted because they sound the same. And you say, "Why do they do it?" Because there's nothing to tell a new guy not to do it. Everything tells him, "Yes, do it." That's the key to success today, to be the same as the next guy, only faster.
You know why that happens? Because generally the people who write ahout music don't know music. Anybody can tell whether these four notes are faster than these four notes. But what does it take to listen to Johnny Guitar Watson's one note, and know that he's doin' that? Did you ever point that out to a reader. Did you ever get across that there's something more to it than rilly-rilly-ree?
If the criticism or reporting of current musical events is left to people who do not have enough of a musicological back ground to even know where the licks were stolen from--whaddaya got? There's nothing wrong with themes so long as you admit where the shit came from.

Was there ever a practitioner of the guitar--- Hendrix, say----that blew you away in terms of being a total original?
One of the most interesting guys on guitar on the planet is Allan Holdsworth. I really respect his playing.
Billy Gibbons is an original. The style that he does, although I know a lot of the blues antecedents that it was derived from, he goes like that [raises middle finger again]. You've gotta have that in your playing.
I thought Hendrix was great. But the very first time I saw him I had the incredible misfortune to be sitting real close to him at the Au Go Go in New York City, and he had a whole stack of Marshalls and I was right in front of it. I was physically ill--I couldn't get out, it was so packed I couldn't escape. And although it was great, I didn't see how anybody could inflict that kind of volume on himself let alone other people. That particular show he ended by taking the guitar and impaling it in the low ceiling of the club. Just walked away and left it squealing.