Final Singapore


Steve Hunter wrote the riff in "Solsbury Hill". And the original refrain was completely different, involving a taxi, and Bob said NO, there was NO WAY that was gonna be on the record.

To say Bob Ezrin’s interview with Ralph Simon was riveting would do it no justice. If you live for these records, the inside story behind them was everything. These records are part of our DNA. It’s like going to a family reunion!

Bob was supposed to say no to Alice Cooper.

But riveted by the live show, his boss Jack Richardson insisted BOB do it. At the age of twenty. Some people are born ready.

And the backstory of Kiss’s "Destroyer"? Bob told the band they were only appealing to boys, they had to appeal to girls, they had to be like Marlon Brando in "The Wild One", they had to express vulnerability, women needed to FIX THEM!

At first fans hated the album, then it went on to be KISS’s biggest EVER!

"Berlin" was written after Bob told Lou Reed that his songs were short stories, what ever happened to the characters in them?

As for "The Wall"… Bob knew he’d produced a masterpiece. And promptly went home to Toronto and waited for the phone to ring, which it did not. For four years. Randy Philips asked him what he was doing in T.O., told him he had to move to L.A., he did.

In an era where producers are yes-men, usually engineers, Bob is positively old school. He’ll tell acts no, he’ll inspire them, he takes control. Too many acts are not ready to be pushed to greatness.

But that’s what Bob does.


I’m a Jew. Would I have left Europe to avoid the Holocaust?

I think not, it’s not in my personality, I’m kind of a stick in the mud. But the Chinese left their homeland in droves. For a better life.

All through the 1800s they shipped out to Singapore, many dying in the process, their bodies thrown overboard. And when the survivors got to the promised land they immediately went to the temple, to give thanks. And went on to live in squalor, breaking their backs, working hard, sleeping with their brethren all in one room.

Singapore is modern now, but it was not back then.


If Harry Chapin were still alive, he’d write a song about it. All the old men at the fringe of Chinatown, focused on victory. Funny what we live for.

And right nearby was a temple. I went in for the air conditioning. Singapore is so damn hot and humid it becomes intolerable.

But I was not prepared for the chanting. A whole room of worshippers singing in unison with the orange-saried man on the dais. It was awe-inspiring. With all the Buddhas on the wall. It seemed not a whit tedious, I was almost inspired to get on my knees and join them.


I like to walk a city. It helps me understand the layout. But after exiting Chinatown and walking by the river that was once Singapore’s lifeblood I encountered so many steps up to the park my heart sank. But putting one foot in front of another, I slowly ascended.

And at the top I found an acoustic trio so good I couldn’t stop listening. They were playing Katy Perry, "Don’t Stop Believin’". This music travels the world if it’s done right.

And when I circled the mountaintop I found a sign referencing the "time ball". Yup, a hundred fifty years ago every day at 12:55 it dropped slowly to 1 PM, so people down below could set their clocks. It’s fascinating to go back in time. What seems antiquated today was progress back then.


I went there for dinner with Ross & Laurietta and the AEG crew.

Ross was flying to Singapore on business. The woman sitting next to him was constantly being asked for her autograph. Turned out she was host of the Singapore version of "Entertainment Tonight". And when she asked him if he was a concert promoter, he said YES!

Even though nothing could be further from the truth.

But now he is.

The Banana Leaf Apolo is a legendary place in Little India, where we had fish head soup, yup, the entire head was in the bowl, and the waiters slung vegetables onto our banana leaf covered plates from swinging pots. It was all so yummy.

And after Meglen tried to buy gold we went down to the river, where I heard the stories of his minions. Expatriate Americans drawn into the AEG fold. One guy could have gone to Yale, but he moved to Taiwan, learned Chinese and went to university there. And went into translation, sports management and was ultimately recruited by Leiweke and Anschutz.

And after having dessert and hearing the local band Sixx, fronted by a Singaporean who’d attended Boston College, we descended into the subterranean nightclub beneath the Grand Hyatt, where all the expats congregate. Whereupon Ross and his buddy Phil told me about living in Singapore. There’s 100% employment, 100% home ownership, and if there’s a bit of censorship, that’s cool. Ross would never return to the States. Phil was supposed to be here for only a few years, as a management consultant, now it’s been seventeen. They can’t go back, when they do everybody in America is so unworldly, they can’t connect.


And what costume shall the poor girl wear
To all tomorrow’s parties

And that’s what it was at the Factory, a 24/7 party.

Tod Machover told me about an Andy Warhol show at the Marina Bay Sands ArtScience Museum, I woke up and dragged my ass there Sunday morning.


What I did not know was what a great illustrator Andy Warhol(a) was. That’s how he built his rep. He was in demand.

But he just didn’t give people what they wanted, he used that as a jumping off point, he challenged preconceptions, he built the silver-painted Factory, he made films, if people became comfortable with what he was doing, he moved on. Unlike the record industry, he was not mired in, not attached to the past, he moved into the future.

Ezrin said there were tons of performers, but very few artists.

Andy Warhol was an artist.

Even his quips resonated…

"They always say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself."

Whew! Are you just floating in the river or changing its course? You can give people what they want or strike out on your own and see if they follow. You can risk. Inertia is anathema.

"If everybody’s not a beauty then nobody is."

Kind of like that "Twilight Zone" episode "The Eye Of The Beholder". It’s all about viewpoint, we’re all human, we’re all exotic and special in our own way.

Then again, on another wall was printed:

"Even beauties can be unattractive. If you catch a beauty in the wrong light at the right time, forget it. I believe in low lights and trick mirrors. I believe in plastic surgery."

Ah, vanity.

There was film of the Velvet Underground, and of Edie Sedgwick, and playing over the sound system was "All Tomorrow’s Parties".

The sixties were fifty years ago. But we haven’t had a great leap forward in art and perception since. Maybe we’re ready.


They had iMacs in the lounge. That’s a first.

And although a tailwind made the flight just a hair shy of fifteen hours, it was interminable, without my buddies along, like on the way over.

And I get back home and it’s the same as it ever was.

And that’s depressing.

I want to go back to my hotel room, I want my friends at my fingertips.

It was a magical time.

It was fantastic.

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