Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones, while on his book tour in Huntington, NY, 2017
Music Industry Observer
No, I never learned how to play piano, but I can strum "House of The Rising Sun" on an acoustic guitar. I've been kicking around the music industry since being a teenager. It recently occurred to me that I've met 3 Sex Pistols (Johnny Rotten, Steve Jones, and Sid Vicious) but only 2 Beatles (Paul McCartney & Ringo Starr). Welcome to My Back Pages, with apologies to Bob Dylan.
I've worked publicity and promotion for various musicians since my college days. I furnished Long Island jukeboxes and radio stations with a local band’s 7-inch single, see them signed to Elektra Records (see Wowii magazine article below), only to see their terrific album permanently shelved for a sobering welcome to the underbelly of the business. However, if the planets line up in 2023, the album may finally be released on vinyl. I later served as a consultant to the late music attorney H. William Krasilovsky on an edition of his book This Business of Music. I wrote the liner notes to Monster Music's surround "SuperDisc" of albums by Sergio Mendes and George Benson & Al Jarreau.
Some of my writing and interviews are chronicled on Rock's Backpages (subscription required). Here's a sampling to my reviews and essays in recent years blogging for Huffington Post and Women Across Frontiers, among other outlets, about: The trial of Sid Vicious (The Guardian); Prince; David Bowie; Tom Waits; Patti Smith; Courtney Barnett; The B52s; Eric Burdon; Rolling Stones; Morrissey; Marian McPartland & Kate Tempest; Chuck Berry & Johnny Rivers; Bush; Supertramp; Warpaint; Bryan Ferry; The Kinks; Garland Jeffreys; Nuggets; Allen Toussaint; Bob Dylan; The Beatles; Roy Orbison; Gil Evans (Wire); Joseph Arthur; Buddy Guy & Junior Wells, Dion, Neil Young, Mott the Hoople/Ian Hunter; Steppenwolf; The Ramones; Gregg Allman; Sting; Gil Scott-Heron; Van Morrison, Nirvana, Eric Von Schmidt, Irish Rock Revue, Marianne Faithful, and Lou Reed (for Huffington Post, following his Oct. 2013 death).
Over the years, I've written think pieces for various publications about my musical obsessions du jour: how the Vinyl Comeback (more on that later) is being severely undercounted (The Audiophile Voice); Richard Thompson & His Talented Family (TAV); R. Crumb (Wax Poetics); the first rock bootlegger (Goldmine); Bob Dylan's lasting significance as a cultural icon (High Times); overlooked British heavy metal bands; The Politics of Rock (Popular Music & Society); the disappearance of Tower Records; the final nails in physical media's coffin; Sony Music's lame attempt at copy protection (TAV); Record Store Day's Summer Camp (Long Live Vinyl); exclusive interview with Joey Ramone and Dee Dee Ramone (Shindig); Al Stewart (Record Collector); Alex Steinweiss, the father of modern album packaging; Carolyn Hester; and litigation surrounding Bob Marley's estate (Vibe and Billboard).
For eight years (1998-2005), I edited a trade magazine called Medialine that covered CD and DVD production, before both home entertainment formats tanked. This job gave me the opportunity to finally meet Lou Reed, one of my true musical idols, after 25 years of trying. I wrote features such as tips for saving the record business. I wrote Medialine's lead column, such as this tribute to Folkways founder Moe Asch.
Soon after Napster's emergence, I expected that streaming would soon become the masses' preferred way of consuming music, movies, and TV. But no one could have predicted the return of vinyl as a niche deluxe product that consumers were willing to pay twice as much for what they paid for a new CD. Vinyl's resurgence defies all technological, economic, and ecological sense in the digital age.
A few years ago, my fascination with the vinyl comeback led me to co-found in 2017 a B2B conference called Making Vinyl, celebrating the global rebirth of the format. Besides naming the event, my role includes conceiving the conference theme, inviting speakers and editing the program guides in 2017, 2018 and 2019. The event has given me the opportunity to meet personal heroes, including Jack White and "Little Steven" Van Zandt. In a role reversal, it also gave me the opportunity to be interviewed by Billboard, to which I've periodically contributed over the years.
Photo by Larry Jaffee, all rights reserved. East Village, July 1985. Dee Dee Ramone & Joey Ramone.
Little Steve Van Zandt, MV, Detroit, 2018