From: Larry Fast

Re: Biko and Lee Abrams

Hi Bob-

There’s a connection between Peter Gabriel and Lee Abrams.  I was there at the creation of works that both Peter and Lee originated.

Shaping the recording of Biko in 1979 with Peter on his third album and then taking it on the road for the next few years was a transcendent experience for me. I was there from near the start of recording in August, 1979 right through until I delivered the album masters in New York on April 24, 1980.  Biko was based around a beat that Peter had built on a little PAiA programmable electronic drum machine that I had gotten for him just as PG2 recording was wrapping up in 1978.  Going from that little beat on a demo cassette to an anthem in front of massive audiences was quite a journey for both Biko (the song) and my own PG3 experience.

So you were at the Greek forty years ago?  Me too, but I think I might have had the better seat watching from my synthesizers, especially on nights when Peter came back after surfing the audience.  Here’s the thing that links my Zelig-like experiences.  Lee Abrams was a big fan and came to many early 80s Peter Gabriel tour shows.  I had started in college radio and a little commercial radio, too.  Lee, by then the FM powerhouse he had become, and I got to know each other back then; we shared friends in the business and early radio experiences.

Much later, around 1998 I saw an article in Billboard about Lee joining a startup called American Mobile Radio Corporation to program this new thing called satellite radio.  I reached out to him to see if I could get some airplay for my esoteric electronic music and he invited me to Washington.  One Amtrak train ride later and the next thing I knew Lee offered me the job of creating the sonic branding for the renamed XM Satellite Radio across all 130 channels. I took the gig and stayed on for 10 years until the Sirius takeover.  And then Lee asked me to do the same thing for Tribune Broadcasting and WGN America.  Especially at the start of XM, I got to see the inside of the creation of satellite radio which was almost as much of an insight as working on the first 10 years of Peter Gabriel solo albums.  Lee’s sage understanding at XM staff gatherings were more about his philosophy of broadcasting and audience psychology than any other radio programmer, just like his latest video.

I also need to compliment you on the Bob Ezrin podcast.  I wasn’t sure how Bob might look back on the first Gabriel album after all this time.  Good, accurate memories.

I’ve got some fly-on-the-wall insights from my many days zig-zagging between academic electronic music and major rock/prog/pop artists. It’s not over yet.

best regards,



From: Bob Rock

Subject: Re: Biko/Playing For Change

Any fan of the sonics on records were very aware of Steve Lillywhite’s brilliance.. as well as the engineer on the Melt record .. Hugh Padgham equally brilliant…  Ron Obvious and myself were engineers at Little Mountain Sound in Vancouver at the time that Melt came out… we were floored by the record …the drums on the intruder…. No Cymbals!!.. an instant sonic and music masterpiece! 

In 1981 when I was touring with the Payola$  .. after our show in LA we got in the elevator at the Sunset Marquis to go to the bar for a drink.. we got in and there was Peter Gabriel… we told him we wanted to see his show but we had our show so we couldn’t make it…he asked us where we were playing next… we said San Francisco … he said he was playing there next as well… so he set us up with tickets … the show was as you can imagine .. incredible! A life changer… 

I watched the video you posted of Biko… totally choked up…that’s what that song meant to me… my life changed when his 3rd solo record…known as Melt came out…


From: Craig Fuller

Subject: Re: Mine Forever

Hi Bob,

Great track and video.  These guys CAN sing, and they’ve been around for a while; seems like my son brought them to my attention 2 or 3 years ago.  Back in 1969, after playing 3 sets a night  5 days a week pre Label deal, American Beauty and Working Man’s dead were two of the things in my small record collection that I’d wind down to at 3 in the morning, (The Witching Hour?).


Craig Fuller


From: Survival Management

Subject: Pure Prairie League


As the producer of the first 2 Pure Prairie League albums, including “Amie”,  I wanted to thank you for the kind words.

Craig Fuller was an exceptional talent, who never received the recognition he deserved.

His songwriting & vocals still stand the test of time.

It was an honor & privilege to work with him & the rest of PPL.

Stay Well

Robert A. Ringe


From: Scott Hallgren

Subject: Re: E-Mail Of The Day


Ditto this. And it got so bad after 2014 that the national office began sending out minders to sit in the committee meetings; I was on jazz, instrumental, and orchestral committees which had always listened to every project (sometimes over 50, took all day long) and then voted. I always felt we were being very respectful & fair to the musicians who submitted.

We were later told the minder was there because many other chapters had just gone ahead and voted for friends/politics, then ate their free lunch and split. National had proof of this, and babysitting was their solution. Perhaps they should have come up with something else once there were more than 750+ entries PER CATEGORY in many cases?


I’m glad that I left the organization; it’s a high school popularity contest with an international TV show attached. It’s NOT helping music anymore.

– Scott Hallgren


From: Harv Glazer

Subject: Re: No One Is Interested

I lost my first Grammy nomination this weekend to a 9yr old. 

Director X and myself were up for best music video for Future&Drake Life Is Good.  We have 1.7billion hits on YouTube over the last year. Beyoncé’s daughter won the award, that video had 32million views in 6 months. It will never get close to 1.7billion ever with those metrics

I called that she would win the award the day they switched the award to include her daughters name. Awards noms were announced nov 24 with just Beyoncé on the bill. Blue Ivy was added December 11th or something like that.

The news hit every outlet, Blue Ivy wins her first Grammy.  I’m not mad about it, not complaining, nor upset, in fact I commend the Grammys on a well played piece of publicity. Had it been Future & Drake or anyone else in the category an award given in the pre-show would have received no recognition anywhere this way they hit every news cycle.

Harv Glazer 


From: Michael Stein

Subject: Re: H.E.R. Beats Abel This Weeknd At The Super Bowl

Bob, they should have just showed the 10 best TikTok videos using The Weeknd’s music for the Super Bowl halftime shows. There are some good ones on there. Way better than the halftime show.

Mike in Cleveland


From: Ritch Esra

Subject: Grammy Ratings

Hey Bob,

Since 2010, I have asked my students (Ages 18-24) every single year “Did anyone watch the Grammy’s, The American Music Awards or The Academy Awards” the day after the show airs and I have yet to have a single student raise their hand in 11 years.

When I ask them why they don’t watch the Grammy’s or have any interest they say “I don’t listen to any of those artists”. Or “The show seems like it’s completely out of touch with our generation”.  Same with the Film Award Shows. 

This is why I find it so strange that you are constantly reading and hearing that they are trying to “Attract a Younger Demo” when the reality is that time has passed.  Most of these award shows are so out of touch that they don’t even see that the audience they want to attract has NO INTEREST – no matter who they have on the shows.  It’s like a struggling marriage where neither party is open, willing or even capable of really seeing what the issues are that continue to keep them stuck. So they just keep making decisions over and over that allow them to avoid examining what is really essential to their own survival!



From: Brendan O’Connell

Subject: Re: More Neal Francis


Just wanted to add a little postscript to my last note. Although the pandemic has devastated the touring business, there has been a silver lining for us: back in August Neal signed with ATO Records, home to The Black Pumas, Brittney Howard, My Morning Jacket, Emily King, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and many other amazing artists. With the unexpected time off the road, Neal wrote and recorded his sophomore album here in Chicago, completely in the West Side church where he currently lives (that’s a whole story in and of itself). It’s been a light in the darkness of covid times and we’re incredibly excited to hit the ground running with Jon Salter (President of ATO Records) and his entire team later this year. Neal followed those same instincts that guided him on “Changes, Pts. 1 & 2” to capture live performances on analog tape, honing his song craft and marrying it with classic production. If you like “Changes,” I’m guessing you’ll like the new stuff too.




From: John Hartmann

Subject: Re: Judas And The Black Messiah

Bob: Very interesting. Back in 1967 I had a nightclub on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood called The Kaleidoscope. It was the Hippie home for L.A. Our opening night was Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead and Canned heat. We were the managers of the Heat.

There was a strong alliance between the Hippies and The Black Panthers. We even let them put on a rally in our venue. The LAPD who issued the permits for Dancehall Cafes were not pleased. They even planted a guy in the house to record the whole thing. As ‘peace & love’ lefties we felt comfortable knowing that The Panthers were our militant allies.

And the beat goes on.


Subject: Re: Latest Record Project

Spotify and streaming music in general are the greatest invention since sliced bread. I speak as both a lover and consumer of music and an owner of master recordings.

The fact that almost the entire history of music is on my phone and laptop! (I would put GPS second on my list of innovations).

As a consumer, I curate playlists of music I’ve loved since i was 5 years old.( I’m 61).

This. morning I heard the Spinners “Games People Play “ and “Goodbye Jimmy Reed”  from Dylan’s latest! and that was just while just getting my morning bagel and coffee.

As an owner of master recordings, I go through CD baby, which provides greater transparency than any label ever did. The songs (15 in total) get 3 to 4 thousand Spotify plays a day consistently. I’m good for $1000 a month and thrilled that music that’s 21 years old provides ANY revenue. For the record, Spotify accounts for about $300/ month and Apple music and TikTok about $200 / month each. Then there are a dozen other platforms that add the nickels and dimes.


So here’s the reality.. a low fi simple pop song called Drivers License by Olivia Rodrigo gets 5 million Spotify streams a day (562 Million and counting) on its way to 1 billion streams. It has more Spotify streams than Stairway to Heaven and by next month more than any song by the Beatles or Stones. The point is ..Fir big $,  it’s about NEW MUSIC that breaks through. I know you know this. Some people obviously don’t .

Brian Lukow


From: Michael Fremer

Subject: Re: Young Shakespeare

Yes, it is a wonderful late night listen: just you and Neil and the audience in the distance (vinyl cut from 192/24 file sounds “you are there”)….the other early records (“Massey Hall” and “Canterbury”) are equally good IMO.

My take on the first album’s initial failure: first, it was released with no name or title on the cover. It’s not as if he was “The Beatles”.

By the time they put a big “NEIL YOUNG” across the top of a second go-round it was probably too late. Also, the first album’s original mix was kind of dreary and occluded. But maybe worse was what’s written near the bottom on the inside right hand gatefold: “This record uses the Haeco-CSG system”, which was a sonic DISASTER. I’m sure if you were to ask Neil today about it he’d admit it was a mistake because it absolutely RUINS the sound, or as Neil originally said about early digital “the sound is gone, we’ve lost the sound”.

Haeco-CSG was Howard Holzer’s (A&M Chief Engineer back then and formerly with Contemporary Records) system designed to allow stereo records to be play on monophonic radio stations without screwing up the sound by losing out-of-phase information that basically disappears when you flip the “mono” switch. Labels were finished with separate mono and stereo mixes and catalogs and the stores didn’t want to have separate mono and stereo sections so Howard’s innovation was supposed to get stereo records to be compatible with mono but instead it made them sound like shit in stereo and mono. It produced a 90 degree phase shift in the right channel that completely mucked up the sound. Atlantic and A&M used it for way too long (can you listen to the weird sounding studio sides of Cream’s “Wheels of Fire” without thinking “WTF happened to his recording?”. No mystery: Haeco-CSG.

So Neil’s debut mixed in the Haeco CSG system (another Haeco-CSG loser but a great record was the Beau Brummel’s “Bradley’s Barn” recorded in a GREAT sounding space but Haeco-CSG ruined) was buried by: bad cover, murky mix, and murky mix made even murkier by Haeco-CSG system.

P.S. From: Michael Fremer

Some Americans are fucking idiots including the ones who write to tell you that Biden is somehow anti-freedom but the Putin ass kisser orange haired SHITLER is? Covid on the rise again. A friend in my business (makes high quality phono cartridges) just texted: 

“ Michael maybe you can post it somewhere I sure could use some prayers I’m in the hospital but the second round of covid-19 with large blood clots in both lungs. Not good.”

So to those complaining about losing their “freedom” over a vaccine passport FUCK YOU ALL!


From: Joel Beeson

Subject: Re: Vaccine Passports

OMG Bob hahahahhahaha.

I’ve been enjoying the Easter weekend away from my emails, so when I finally logged in (Monday night in Australia), I read the response emails first. I only got about a quarter of the way through when I realised I needed to read this original email to work out what the hell had prompted such a response.

By the third paragraph I was laughing hysterically as I scrolled up to double check the date. The writing style was so similar to your previous April Fools messages, I’m shocked that so many people didn’t get it! I went back and re-read the response emails and you even dropped a hint in the first one with the last response an admission of it being an April Fools joke!!

But I’ve gotta be honest, the re-read of the responses was pretty disheartening. The absolute vitriol coming from people from so many different backgrounds and everywhere along the political spectrum was pretty disgusting and perhaps the best summation of where the USA is currently at: hyper-partisan hair-triggers that can’t see past their own righteous fury. Scary stuff indeed.

I can only assume you get this type of response to a lot of your emails, but no doubt you’re getting much more of a chuckle than you normally would.

Warm regards,


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