From: Jean Sievers

Re: Brian Wilson 80th Birthday Playlist

Thanks Bob

I’ll show him your post

He had a happy and fun day today filled with

LOTS of love from his friends and peers (I’m sure you saw the video )

BIg cake from the Chicago guys at the show

He IS on the road where he wants to be … forget the naysayers who say he should stay home … huh?

He calls and asks when is the bus leaving and is Marc getting my oatmeal cookies?

He is feeling love on the road

He loves soaking it up .. the music and applause for his music

Watching the band

Watching Al sing and Blondie killing it on guitar and vocals like a teenager

He loves a steak for dinner and Popeyes on the bus

Watching the baseball or basketball game

Or football depending on the season

Is he running around like Mick? No

He doesn’t have to and after a horrible back surgery he can’t

BUT he loves being there .. it means the world to him

He thanks the Ladies and Gentleman and waves goodbye and hangs with his band and sings songs backstage off the cuff

Zero prompters or lyrics

He knows them all and sings whatever is floating his boat

Did you ever hear the Billy Idol story from the Greek before the pandemic?

Billy was coming to the show and his manager wondered about parking and saying hello

We told him to come do an encore

He came to soundcheck to work out some songs

It was HOT so BW was in his dressing room

People thought he wouldn’t know Billy.

Paul our MD said “Brian .. Billy Idol is here.” . without any pause he replied “Eyes Without a Face Billy Idol??!!” (which is what we call Billy now)

And demanded to see him right away

He made Billy sit next to him on the couch and wanted to talk about the production of that track and said

“I fucking LOVE that song” and he meant it !

Then he asked Billy if he was from England (classic Brian lol)

Billy was floored as were we and they had a great night at the Greek doing the encore and we had She & him as well.. they just did a beautiful tribute album with his songs .. you should check it out MELT AWAY A Tribute to Brian Wilson, it’s wonderful

Just when you think he’s not paying attention you are wrong !!! He remembers everything

He remembers what Paul McCartney was wearing the day they met right down to his shoes

I’m so happy for Brian

And happy for us all to have lived in his world with his music

Happy 80th boss

We love you


From: Clint Young

Subject: Happy 80th Birthday, Brian!


Re: The Brian Wilson Movie

February 22, 1990…

I was at my desk at Mercury Records in the Disney Chanel building above La Scala in Burbank. The phone rings and my assistant calls to me “it’s Brian Wilson’s office!”

So I picked up and the voice on the line says she’s Brian’s assistant and he’s a big Tears For Fears fan and he’d love to see them tonight at the Forum. I didn’t believe it but I said “if Brian would be kind enough to autograph my Pet Sounds album I’ll send over a pair of tickets.” She says “Great… send it over”.

I messengered over the album… it came back signed “Brian Wilson” and I messengered back a pair of tickets to that night’s show. I still didn’t believe it was for real so i sent tickets next to my own seats. And guess what? I get to the show that night and there’s Brian with Eugene Landy. I didn’t say a word to him but it was a thrill sitting next to him watching Tears for Fears. I remember him looking not at all awkward listening to a band he obviously loved. My autographed LP of Pet Sounds is on my office wall to this day.

Cliff O’Sullivan


Re: The Brian Wilson Movie


I’m a filmmaker in Los Angeles, and somewhat of a music afficionando of my generation. I’m also a big fan of yours (I think I met you at Scott Powell’s house in Venice a few years ago.)

I don’t know how you do it: putting out so many essays on so many subjects, so consistantly and thoughtfully.

I almost never differ with your views, but…doesn’t Van Dyke Parks deserve a place in your piece on Brian Wilson?



Tony Bill

Barnstorm Films


From: Andrew Loog Oldham

Re: The Brian Wilson Movie


from the streamless, flood full colombia….

i spent an evening with brian, my ex immediate records partner, tony calder and two ” health bodyguards ” at a santa monica eatery circa ’94. brian was feisty and fit, not looking like martin sheen,

he left the restaurant on every hour with one of the bodyguards for a marlboro .

he had been answering questions on an average 5 seconds behind the count, but he was game.

when it came time to pay the bill he insisted on doing so, saying ” i’ve let too many people do this stuff for me . ”

tony and i , both lifelong fans of the man, his collaborators ( i.e. tony asher ) and their music , let him mercedes away towards PCH.

a dreamily similiar lookalike to doris day approached me and asked , ” was that not the beach boy , brian wilson ? ”

” yes, ma’am , it most certainly was, ” i replied and smiled on behalf of brian.

” well, ” said doris, ” how nice to see him out and about again .”

say what you will about dr. landy , he got brian out of bed and walking up fifth avenue.

then he bought the trip …. we cannot all be paul mcguinness …..

best, o

RIP andy wickham


Re: The Brian Wilson Movie

Don’s right. He can’t do what Brian could. Which is no knock: the same could be said for literally everybody else in our popular music world. And of COURSE you’re not the only one who knows “Till I Die”, which Brian wrote the lyrics for. It’s achingly beautiful and as stunningly honest and forthright about mortality (or at the least personality disintegration) as any song I can call to mind. “I’m a leaf on a windy day, pretty soon I’ll be blown away, how long will the wind blow?” I mean, come on. And, of course, on the same album, “Surf’s Up”, which for musical composition far outstrips any competitors from our magical popular music history, 60s on.

Put simply, Brian stands alone

Berton Averre


From: Jim Koplik

Re: The Brian Wilson Movie

I’m glad you gave Mike Love his props. His lyrics were timely. Brian was the genius which Mike concurs. But Mike’s lyrics made it classic. I was always friendly with Mike, Carl and Dennis. Never said a word to Brian. He was very distant. Now only Mike is alive. And I am very fond of him. He taught me TM and slept at my apartment on the floor in the 70’s. And we took Metro North to Yonkers, New York that night. I’m looking forward to seeing him on August 19 when he participates in my late wife’s Foundation that supports teaching music to low income kids. The Foundation is aligned with the Michael Bolton Foundation.


From: Rusty Young

Re: The Brian Wilson Movie

Brian Wilson was doing a show a number of years ago at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, Nj. This is Bruce Springsteen’s “home” theatre, and he shows up unannounced several times a year to join a performer on stage. Midway through the concert Bruce slips out of the wings and steps in with the band mid song. The audience begins the usual Bruuuuce chant, and Brian clearly doesn’t understand what is going on in the middle of one of his songs.  After the song is done, one of the band members goes over and tells Brian what just happened…and he immediately turns into one of Sprinsteen’s biggest fans —asking us if we know who has just arrived out of nowhere and joined him on stage. He was beside himself, telling us how honored he was that a talent of Bruce’s stature would be willing to join him…They played together for a few songs and after Bruce left the stage, Brian was still shaking his head in disbelief…Just one of those rock moments.


Re: Ziggy Stardust Turns Fifty Today

I promoted one of the early Ziggy gigs in the South of England. I’d seen one of the first at Imperial College in London and a homecoming performance at Wallington Town Hall in SE London.

London was ready for Bowie, the provinces were not! This was still a few months away from the Ziggy album release.

So Bowie’s entourage including the indefatigable Angie rolled into Southsea and played to a half full hall. But those that were there have carried it with.

It was in a good run of acts that included a very early support performance by Roxy Music, with Andy MacKay returning a couple of weeks later to see Sha Na Na.

Happy days – except for the bank manager!

Always good to read your newsletter & listen to the podcasts.

Philip Haines


Re: Ziggy Stardust Turns Fifty Today

Great article regarding Bowie. I saw the Ziggy band live at Chicago’s Auditorium back in fall ’72. He was just breaking in America… mos def not a full house. Got very close to the front of the stage. What a mind-blowing show! I never saw or heard anything like it before. Became an instant fan. Went back and discovered pre-Ziggy music. Hunky Dory is pure genius! When I first heard the song Life On Mars I was completely blown away. Years later I would direct an indie feature film called Life On Mars… the lead in the story was John Ronson (my heroes Mick Ronson and John Lennon). I wanted to cast my musician friend Lee Michaels as a villain but he declined. Lee did however catered the film crew with tons of Killer Shrimp (his restaurant). I still can’t believe Ziggy is 50 years old!!! WTF!!!

Arthur Springer


From: Michael Alex

Re: Ziggy Stardust Turns Fifty Today

I was thirteen years old, and all I knew about David Bowie was Space Oddity (which I loved) and adults saying he was a drug-taking homosexual, though I had a fifteen year old pen pal who wrote that Bowie was fantastic.  Then one Friday night the Hammersmith show was listed in TV Guide at 1AM, and I begged my parents to let me stay up and watch it.   I begged and begged, and they decided that I would be allowed to watch it, but my father would watch as well to protect me from his presumably terrible influence.    Fine with me.  (At this time my standard for outrageousness was Mick Jagger in Gimme Shelter, which had been on PBS.)


The show begins with Hang On to Yourself and my jaw drops.   Bowie is clearly from outer space.  So is Mick Ronson.   Nothing looked or sounded like this before in my life.   I sat in front of the TV for the hour or whatever eyes wide, head bobbing, while my father kept muttering nervously “clearly this is a very talented young man.”    I was blown away.   The world was a whole lot bigger and wilder and more exotic, and I wanted in.


Years later I interviewed Bowie for MTV, a career highlight.  At one point when talking about early influences he said someone he really missed was Marc Bolan.   Meanwhile I still feel there’s a hole in the world where Bowie was.


Re: Ziggy Stardust Turns Fifty Today

Ron Davies was one of my best friends and mentor. I had known him for years as a regular at Brown’s Diner in Nashville. I also have played guitar with his sister, Gail Davies for decades now. Ron, Gail, Ron Price and myself toured around the UK.  He became quite popular and not long after, Ron and myself were booking a UK-Europe tour as a duo. Unfortunately, he passed away a couple of months before we were to start the tour. Ron had been roommates with Tim Hardin and also Joe Cocker. Ron knew many, if not all, of Harding’s songs and would play them for me at his house or after the gigs. Long John Baldry also cut ‘ It Ain’t Easy’ with Rod Stewart and Elton John producing. Helen Reddy cut his ‘Long Hard Climb’ Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Nanci Griffith, Kieran Kane and Kevin Welch and others covered ‘ Waiting On A Dark Eyed Gal’. Ron and Gail had sibling harmony like the Everly Brothers and were working on a project and then he was gone. Ron made a living as a songwriter from the age of 17 and has an extensive song catalog. He is loved and missed by all the knew him.

All The Best,

Sergio Webb

Las Vegas, New Mexico


RE: Ziggy

My crew got into David Bowie’s music through Hunky Dory. One lone copy sold at my local record store. I picked it up. By the time Ziggy came out, we were what you’d call fanatics. So when it was announced that Bill Graham was bringing the show to Winterland, San Francisco, we bought up immediately. It was late October, 1972, sort of a Halloween show. Graham bit for two nights. I remember seeing James Taylor in Berkeley that week. On every chair at the Berkeley Community Theater was a Bowie flyer. Uh-oh. Also on the bill was Sylvester and His Hot Band and the Florescent Leach and Eddie.

Anyway, we made it to Winterland early afternoon to get in line, except by the time the doors opened, there were less than a hundred people behind us. Uh-oh.  I would estimate less than 300 people showed up on our night. (Winterland held 5400. Multiply that times two.) The same the following night. I remember Jerry Pompelli, Graham’s MC, mentioning that “Most of you came dressed up as empty seats.” Bill took a Bowie bath.

The Winterland stage was situated on the side, as it was for Pink Floyd first playing Dark Side. As a result, bands had to walk through the audience floor to get to the stage. I still remember the band traipsing across the floor in their silver space suits. They played undaunted to the thin crowd. We were seated above and behind the band. No setlist exists. I remember they opened with “Hang Onto Yourself.”

After the set, Bowie never returned to San Francisco until the Station to Station tour. So, yeah, to say that tour wasn’t sold out (it may have been in Santa Monica nights before) is an understatement. The only folks who attended were the freaks and the super fans.

Precisely ten years later, I was working with a local band and they were opening for T-Bone Burnett for a few local gigs. Mick Ronson was in his band. When I reminded Ronson that exactly ten years ago to the day…he grimaced and shrugged. What a great guitar player and arranger he was…

Kent Zimmerma


Subject: Mr Grand Funk Railroad

I loved that was how you introduced Mark Farner to your podcast. What an amazing man and what a story of his trip to the the other side and back. Of all the highlights of his career that stood out for me as the one he would most likely  not trade for any accolade.

I will share a quick GFR story that happened during the Strawberry Fields Festival in early August 1970 at Toronto’s Morport Gran Prix Raceway.

Aside from over thirty other acts GFR headlined Friday night, Zeppelin were scheduled for Saturday’s closer and Sly for Sunday. GFR destroyed the place and people would not let them get off the stage. It was amazing. By the time they finished it had become apparent that Led Zeppelin were not going to appear. No communication with transportation, no check in at local motel rooms on standby for them and of course no one was at Premier talent on a Friday night and no one had Frank Barcelona’s home number. 

We took a quick survey of the team and it was unanimous. Let’s ask GFR to stay over and play again Saturday night. The band loved it, we paid them the same again (a fraction of the deposit we never got back from Peter Grant) and made the announcement to the crowd, who because there was camping mostly adjacent to your car, were all still within earshot of the huge PA which had been trucked in from LA. There was a roar from the visible crowd and a thunderous echo from the adjacent woods and it was on. 

Talk about rescuing a Saturday night. GFR did it up right.

John Brower



From: Susan Levy Rash

Subject: Re: Bosch: Legacy

Bravo Bob !!!

Another great piece. I love your musings. 

I was the publicist at MCA during  ‘Full Moon Fever’.  Shortly before it was scheduled for release Tom ran into George Harrison at a restaurant in Studio City, having lunch with a bunch of the department heads at Warner Bros.  Tom was still mad at his label for the whole $9.98 mess and he couldn’t imagine lunching with the enemy.  But whatever George said to him about it softened his stance and next thing you know Richard Palmese’s secretary is calling me, telling me that Tom Petty is coming into the building tomorrow to do all of his interviews to support the new album.

You would not believe the buzz in the building. It was palpable. No one could believe Tom was coming into the building.

With the help of Mitch Schneider, Tom did two full days— in one of the empty offices —interviewing with journalists to promote Full Moon Fever (which btw included a fantastic Spin cover story written by Michael Corcoran).

On the last day Tom asked me if he could see Al Teller, the then President of the label.  He took the long walk passed the bank of secretaries desks to Mr. Teller’s office.

I was told later that he wanted to see Al Teller to request that the label stop using styrofoam cups in their break rooms.  At that time MCA’s headquarters were in Universal City on the Universal Lot.  I was also told that because of Tom’s request, all of Universal Studios discontinued the use of styrofoam cups. 

Like many others I was also surprised to learn that “Bosch Legacy” had been release and and that it was on FreeVee but I loved it just as much as the original series.

And yes the commercials bugged us (thank god they are brief) but I will say that it did help me discover Freevee (which I guess is the point) as well as the new incarnation of Judge Judy, so it wasn’t all bad.


From: Shane Compton

Subject: RE: Gas

Hey Bob

Here in Ardernistan (New Zealand) we’re paying over $3 per litre, which

equates to about $12 per US gallon!!  I’m talking in $ to $ terms, rather

than involving any exchange rates.

So, while I accept people are hurting in the USA, it’s a lot worse here

mate!  Love your work Bob, take care,



From: hasse breitholtz

Subject: Re: Gas

welcome to sweden:

1 liter gas today is 24 sek = 2,40 usd , which equals  9,60 usd !


Subject: Re: Gas

Hi Bob,

Last I filled up at Costco (the gas quality is good) it was $5.60/gal. That was last part of May. I did see a few places in Beverly Hills and Hollywood that were showing $7+, but why go there? Arco is usually about the same as Costco, haven’t had any issues with their gas. Like you I need premium (Mercedes AMG) and don’t want to risk using sub-par gas. 

I’m in Europe now, in Norway, an oil producing nation. Took the bus in from the airport (public transit works pretty well across most of Europe – try taking a bus in LA!) and saw Nkr 26/liter, which ends up being about $10/gal. 

The truth is inflation is global, mainly due to the pandemic and supply chain havoc caused from it, more recently (and specific to fuel) oil and gas due to Russia’s attack on Ukraine. 

I totally agree with your assessment and worry that Americans will trade long term freedom for short term security. What happens when people in a democracy vote to elect a party who’s platform is to eliminate democracy? Are people really aware of the choice they are being asked to make? 

We certainly live in “interesting” times. 

Be well. 

Best regards,



From: Mark Levy

Subject: Re: Gas

I hear ya, sometimes it doesn’t feel like Democracy’s hooks are deep enough to hold people through the kind of pressures it looks like we’re headed into. The authoritarian tide is menacing.

I believe this Summer will bring the touring music industry to the brink of viability. Inflation + fuel costs (fans and bands) + Covid + gun violence. None of it bodes well. As for fuel prices, like you said, the rich don’t care how much they pay for gas.  My band toured March 15-April 10 cross-country in a bus and we spent 50% more on fuel than we budgeted for (before Russia invaded Ukraine). We barely turned a profit. Now we’re looking down the pipe toward bus tours in August and September. I’ve seen forecasts for $10 diesel + shortages by then. First Covid grounded us, now this insanity.

Like so much in life these days, I feel I can only savor the moment and hope for the best. After all, the only thing we really control is our own well-reasoned thoughts, right?  I’m grateful to still be pursuing a life in music. The idea of a world where such a life is no longer possible is too dark for me to reason with. So for now, I won’t.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and for reading mine.

Mark Levy


From: Gregory Prestopino

Re:  “Break My Stride” and


Firstly, love Joe Walsh’s note about writing the song down a half step; total truth.

When Matthew (Wilder) and I wrote “Break My Stride”, I think we both suspected (and hoped) it was a hit.  Matthew was on Arista at the time.  When Clive was sent the song, he just didn’t hear it.  This is a much longer story but suffice it to say that Matthew got out of that deal and the album was released by Private Eye, Joe Isgro’s label.

When “Stride” came out, it was called a “turntable hit”, meaning it got airplay but no one bought it.  Well, not nobody, but only about 800,000 copies, so not gold.

Well, somehow, a bunch of years later the song has ended up re-interpolated in several top ten records (Puffy’s “Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down”, Christina Aguiler’s “Can’t Hold Us Down”, Matisyahu’s “Jerusalem”) and on and on.  Not to mention TikTok and various commercials.

Why?  I have no idea.  I mean I always knew the song was great…for a “novelty” song, as many dismissed it.

What J.D. said is right on the money:  “…write a great song and sing it well. It might not make you rich but then again, it just might…”  Bootstraps work is important.  But never underestimate the role of luck in all of this.

The older I get, the more I think “If You’re Lucky” should be written across the universe and maybe tattooed on everyone’s forehead the moment they’re born.



From: chris stein

Subject: Re: Elliott Murphy-This Week’s Podcast

Elliott’s brother Matt Murphy was perhaps the best tour manager Blondie ever had. Not to diminish others but he was fantastic

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