Only those who scrutinise Mojo magazine rigorously would have spotted my name in issue 365, which had John Squire and Liam Gallagher on the cover. It appeared on page 113, below the answers to the crossword in issue 363. “Winner: Reader Chris Charlesworth wins a pair of Audio Pro A48 speakers [above],” it said. Yes, it was me, though in reality I solved an anagram from letters that were highlighted in the crossword grid, specifically those that when rearranged spelled “Shane O’Hooligan”, probably not the easiest anagram to solve but pretty easy if, like me, you’ve been cracking cryptic crosswords for years as a means of exercising the old grey matter.

        The speakers, which retail at a whopping £960, were delivered to chez CC at the beginning of this week and after a bit of fiddling about with cables that weren’t part of the package, they were up and running yesterday. They’re now wired up for use on our hi-fi and TV, and, of course, they’re Bluetooth compatible, which means that music from my phone comes through them too. 

        Despite my fondness for music of pretty much all types and a pretty large record collection, at least by most people’s standards, I have never really been a hi-fi buff, one of those folks who can discuss tweeters, woofers and frequency balance with any semblance of authority. Truth to tell, the speakers in use chez CC until now were bought in 1980, in New York, a pair of silver Onkyo HS-20s, which have served me remarkably well ever since. They cost about $80 and I had to pay £35 customs duty on them at Heathrow, which translates as around £400 in today’s money, a substantial investment but a good buy all the same. 

My old speakers

        I was on my way back from Chicago where, as PR at RCA Records, I’d taken a couple of writers to see David Bowie in The Elephant Man and I stopped off in NYC to meet up with a friend who didn’t show. To ease my disappointment, I browsed in a hi-fi shop and bought the Onkyos because the man in the shop recommended them, I had some unused dollars and they looked nice. A glance on eBay tells me they’ve held their value, which doesn’t surprise me as I’ve always thought they sounded terrific.

        Well, bugger me with a dead badger, as my old mate Allan Jones used to say. These new motherfuckers blow the living daylights out of them. The bass sound turns our living room into one of those clubs in the Balearic islands, booming out like a sound system at the Notting Hill Carnival. But it’s not just the bass, it’s the overall clarity of the different instruments and the vocals, almost as if the singers and guitarists are in the room with you, sitting somewhere between each speaker, playing for your entertainment only. They have built-in amplifiers – Digital Class D 2x130watt + 2x30 watt, according to the specs – which is on the hot side to say the least. It means I no longer need a hi-fi amp and can stick them in the garden and entertain the whole village if I want. Before long I will need to sign a peace treaty with my neighbours. 

        I haven’t had them long enough to try out many records yet, but just for the record, in the last 24 hours I’ve played some War On Drugs (Lost In The Dream, Live Drugs), The Last Dinner Party (from my phone, proving Bluetooth and records are indistinguishable), Miles Davis (Kind Of Blue), Elgar (adagio from cello concerto), Beatles (second side of Abbey Road, ‘Strawberry Field Forever’ from Love, ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ from remastered Let It Be), Jeff Beck (‘Elegy For Dunkirk’ from Emotion & Commotion), Who (‘Behind Blue Eyes’ and live ‘Bargain’), Cat Stevens (‘How Can I Tell You’ from remastered Teaser And The Firecat), Abba (‘The Day Before You Came’), Gillian Welch (Revival) and Everly Brothers (‘Kentucky’). I’m saving Floyd and S Dan for the weekend. I’ve also watched on TV Jeff Beck Live At The Hollywood Bowl (from 2017), Springsteen Live In Barcelona (2002) and bits of The Beatles’ Eight Days A Week documentary, all which I’d recorded and saved on the planner long before the new speakers arrived. 

        The TV sound through the new speakers is amazing, giving an added dimension to the music, as good as the hi-fi sound from CDs or vinyl. I’m gobsmacked at the sound I now hear from Beck’s white Strat, always a source of wonder to me, not to mention the bass playing of Rhonda Smith and crackling drums of Jonathan Joseph. On The Beatles’ doc Paul’s bass sounds terrific, putting to the sword any suggestion that the Fabs weren’t that good on stage when the screaming got out of hand. 

        Indeed, all this music sounds far better than I’ve ever heard it before. Also, I’m hearing things in the background that I never realised were there, perhaps the scrape of a pick against guitar strings, a singer catching their breath, a synth line buried deep in the mix. And for this reason, unusually, I’m sitting between the speakers without doing anything else, just hoovering it all up without distraction, simply listening. 

        I can’t quite believe my luck. 


TEENAGE WASTELAND: The Who at Winterland 1968 & 1976 by Edoardo Genzolini

The impact of The Who in their glory years continues to inspire books about the period of their long career when their contribution to the evolution of rock music is now etched in stone, fondly remembered, never bettered, a criterion to which others might aspire but very few attain. The Who’s seat at this exclusive table of excellence stems largely from the concerts they performed between the years demarcated by this books title – in 1968 they assumed the title of ‘most exciting rock band in the world’, a position they retained, by and large, until the closing months of 1976 when they played their final shows with Keith Moon on drums.

It is fitting, then, that uberfan Edoardo Genzolini’s second Who book – the first was his Concert Memories From The Classic Years 1964-1976* – should focus not just on this period but also on the city of San Francisco where, for better or worse, The Who played some of their greatest and most memorable concerts. 

There were three San Francisco shows in February, 1968, the first on the 22nd at the Fillmore West, the other two at Winterland on the 23rd  & 24th, and almost 250 pictures from all three shows, on stage and off, together with detailed analysis of each individual show, with comments from many of those present, take up just over half this book’s 256 pages. “The Who embodied the quintessence of the rock and roll ethos,” writes Genzolini of the group in 1968, “caught in the middle of a visible transformation, divided between the pop icons that used to be and the band they were becoming, The Who were bringing out an essence that could not be found elsewhere, not even of their latest release The Who Sell Out, but right here on stage, live. The Who embodied the rock and roll essence and glorified their frustrations, playing and singing their hearts and guts out, as if there were no tomorrow.”

The pictures bear this out. No group was ever as photogenic as The Who but and didn’t even have to try. It was simply down to the palpable sense of urgency in the way they presented themselves on stage, which is where they knew their future lay. In just about every picture from 1968 they look like they mean business, as if their future depends on what they’re doing right now, in the moment. They knew they were damn good too, and as their confidence grew, so did their audiences, and a bond was created between the two as they honed their skills on stage and the fans looked on in amazement, ever more secure in the knowledge that The Who were unique, special, something they would hold on to for years to come. 

        “The Who came on with total flash!” says Michael Lazarus Scott, one of many fans who recall their experiences of these shows. Pete windmilling his Fender, wearing a gold-spangled coat and ruffled shirt. Moon the Loon all over his circus-painted drum kit, mugging it up and going from perfect cadence, twirling, throwing, and catching sticks, into complete utter chaos and back again. The most astounding and entertaining drummer I have ever seen. The Ox, stalwart like a rock, playing lead bass in his black suit. Roger was before his masculine, curly-haired Tommy look. Tonight, he was resplendent with piled-high bouffant curls and what looked like a gold matador outfit. … This concert made me a Who fan for life.”

        There is an interval between the photo-led coverage of 1968 and 1976, and in it are discussed the West Coast premiere of Tommy, at the Fillmore West in June 1969, shows at the Civic Auditorium in December, 1971, from which several recordings have been released, and the now infamous show at the Cow Palace in November, 1973, when Moon collapsed and was replaced at Townshend’s invitation by a member of the audience.

        Moving on to Winterland 1976, we find another 160 or more photos of the band on stage at shows on March 27 and 28, some of the best being what I would call ‘aerial’ shots of Pete, his legs tucked up and bent at the knee, defying gravity for a few seconds after hammering home an open chord. This was a more mature Who with a wider breadth of material from which to programme their set but they were as focused as ever, effortlessly drilled, still energetic, still the most exciting rock experience on the planet. No wonder there were 43,000 ticket applications for just two shows at the 5,400 seat venue. “They could have sold eight times as many,” reported the San Francisco Examiner.

        “[When I listen to The Who]…. I am hurtling through the universe… soaring through musical space and travelling like a rocket through time, immersed in the Who experience that is like no other…” writes Sansara-Nirvana Murphey, a photographer, many of whose pictures appear in this final section of the book, “… blending into and around the notes and crashing forward recklessly like a train smashing through barriers, dancing with abandonment, losing myself in a great overwhelming wave of sound and sensation, and remembering how great it was to be a part of something bigger then ourselves.”

        Which is as good a description I’ve ever read anywhere of what it must have felt like to have actually been Pete, Roger, John or Keith performing the concerts so compellingly described and photographed in Edoardo Genzolini’s book. Another treat for Who fans and another reminder for those, like me, who were lucky enough to see this extraordinary group in their prime. 




Newspaper reporters have good memories, not least because they write things down. Still, I needed a bit of help while researching for my upcoming book of Melody Maker memoirs due out later this year and to this end managed to obtain scans of every MM published during the 1970s, which includes the period I worked on the paper, from June of 1970 to February of 1977. We’re working on a design for the cover that uses the same typeface as MM’s 1970s logo, something like you see here. 

Looking through them was like reading the diary I never kept. I’d completely forgotten about 50% of the interviews and show reviews I wrote, but when I re-read them they unlocked memories and most, if not all, came flooding back. You don’t forget your encounters with Beatles, members of The Who and Led Zep, or Bowie and Springsteen and, in any case, I’ve already revisited some of them on this blog, but you do forget the bread and butter stuff. I wrote hundreds of pieces, big and small, for MM, some of them dashed off quickly I’m forced to admit, others – generally the lengthier ones – written with more care. I felt there was a constant need to sustain my output in order to justify my role as MM’s man in America where, on Thursday mornings, I compiled a weekly New York news column, always the last job of the working week which began the previous Friday. 

I compiled these weekly news columns from press releases, anything I could crib from the Village Voice or other NY culture mags and my own wanderings around the city’s music spots. I always tried to cram as many big names  always printed in bold  as I could into them and below is one that appeared in MM just over 50 years ago this week, in the March 2, 1974 issue. I somehow managed to squeeze Sly, Jagger, Dudley Moore, Dusty, Alice, Led Zep, Arlo and Woody Guthrie, Dylan, Purple, Elton, Elvis, Bowie, Leonard Bernstein and Andy Williams and more all into the name column. Shame I couldn’t manage to fit in a Beatle or two! 

Sly & The Family Stone have completed a new album but a release date hasn’t been scheduled yet. Blue Öyster Cult, too, have finished their third album which will be called Secret Treaties. This will be out in about a month.

    Mick Jagger, who went to see Dr John at least twice at the new Bottom Line Club last week, has now left New York for Munich with Keith Richards’ ace guitar maker Elmo Newman Jones III – or Ted to his friends. Ted has made a five string guitar which Richards will be using on sessions in Munich.

    Isis, the eight piece New York girl band, go into the recording studio next month to make an album with Shadow Morton, the New York Dolls’ producer. The band, which includes Ginger Bianca and Carol McDonald from Goldie & The Gingerbreads, have just signed with Buddah.

    Dudley Moore who with Peter Cook is appearing in a revue at the Plymouth Theatre off Broadways, begins an additional engagement in New York next week. He’s appearing in his musical capacity playing jazz at Michael’s Place from February 26. 

    Sha Na Na are recording a new album in New York with Bob Ezrin who produces Alice Cooper and Lou Reed. Like other Sha Na Na albums, it’ll be a mixture of old songs sprinkled with their own compositions.

    Next week Dusty Springfield is expected in town to make her first new album for almost two years for ABC Dunhill.  

    The new Bottom Line Club is to present a mixture of rock and theatre in the future. During the early part of the evening they will present a non-musical type Broadway show and follow with music from around midnight onwards. Also on the club scene, Paul Coleby, who was a partner in the famed Bitter End Club in Greenwich Village, has opened a new club called The Other End. It’s right next door to the Bitter End and, because of its small size, will concentrate on showcasing unknown talent.

    Arlo Guthrie and Pete Seeger are to play four concerts together next month, including a show at New Yok’s Carnegie Hall on March 8 which has already sold out. Seeger used to sing with Arlo’s father Woody Guthrie in the Almanac Singers in the 1940s. The other shows are at Chicago (March 9), Montreal (17) and Boston (30), and Reprise are to record three of the performances for a live album. Meanwhile, Arlo has a new album I’ll Take That Pickle Now out in April or May.

    Deep Purple are the latest band to join the list of élite who have – or will be – using Starship 1, the super-plane that jets rock bands around the USA. The plane has been used by Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper and Elton John up until now and at present Col Tom Parker is jetting his way around the south on Starship 1 fixing up some dates for his only client, Elvis Presley.

Maggie Bell will play three or four nights at the Bottom Line, leading up to her show at Howard Stein’s Academy of Music on March 16. Patti Labelle opens at the Bottom Line this week and others lined up in the coming weeks include Rick Nelson and The Strawbs

March is shaping up to be a busy month at the Academy with appearances by Joe Walsh & Barnstorm (March 8), Rory Gallagher and 10 c.c. (9), Argent and Nazareth (23), Renaissance, Soft Machine and Larry Coryell (23, following the Argent show). West Coast music takes over at the venue during the first week of April with Jefferson Starship and Quicksilver Messenger Service (April 2) and the Starship and Poco (April 3 & 5 respectively).

    Climax Chicago begin recoding in New York this week with Richie Gottherer (correct!) producing. Gottherer, incidentally, produced ‘Hang On Sloopy’ for The McCoys and was also a co-write of ‘Sorrow’, as originally recorded by The McCoys and, more recently, by David Bowie. The band have spent the last two weeks rehearsing in Miami. 

    Jo Jo Gunne have replaced guitar player Matt Andes with a new guitarist who goes by the name of Star.

    Shorts: Wishbone Ash expected to be recording in New York in April… Chicago preparing a one-hour TV special for screening this summer… Leonard Bernstein and Andy Williams to appear at a special dinner honouring CBS boss Goddard Leiberson on March 7… Rick Derringer currently working on final mixing of Edgar Winter’s next album… Loudon Wainwright recorded four new songs at a recent appearance at the New York Philharmonic Hall which will probably be included on his next album… Liza Minelli and Charles Aznavour doing a 60-minute TV special together. 

That’s exactly as printed. I suspect that the ‘correct!’ in brackets after the name Gottherer was an indication from me to the subs desk at MM that the spelling was correct, and someone forget to delete it before it reached the paper.

Details of my book Just Backdated: Melody Maker Seven Years In The Seventies can be obtained from https://spenwoodbooks.com/product/justbackdated/



I live in a library. There are bookshelves in our front room, dining room, my wife’s study, my daughter’s old bedroom that is now my study and, most notably, the spare bedroom currently occupied by a lodger. Some of these bookshelves are overflowing, with books piled high on top of other books. I have no idea how many books there are in our house in total and, in any case, the number increases on a weekly basis. The last time I counted I had 65 books on The Who alone, and over 50 on The Beatles, but we have lots of art books and fiction too, everything from the Brontës, inherited from my mum, to F. Scott Fitzgerald and Graham Greene, to Ian McEwan and contemporaries; there’s also a shelf full of Sherlock Holmes, another of humour and another of cricket books, among them Beyond A Boundary by CLR James, a 1966 edition that belonged to my dad. 

It will come as no surprise, however, that well over half the books on my shelves deal with the subject of rock music, be they biographies, reference books, encyclopaedias, genre books or picture books. The reason for this, of course, is that for 33 years I was the managing editor of Omnibus Press, a publishing company that specialised in music books, so I didn’t have to buy them and, as was the way in this trade, music books published elsewhere came my way for free too. About 25 years ago, when a cull was necessitated by a house move, I sold about 500 music books through Helter Skelter, the shop on Denmark Street that specialised in rock books whose proprietor was a pal of mine. To some degree I regret this now, or at least regret letting go of some amongst that 500 that I miss and would like to re-read.

        Which brings me to one reason for this post – re-reading. This week I’m re-reading The Restless Generation, Pete’s Frame masterful account of what happened when rock’n’roll first reached the UK in the 1950s. This came about through a conversation I was having with Val Wilmer, the jazz writer and photographer, who to mark her appearance on Desert Island Discs was the guest of honour at last week’s Melody Maker luncheon for old staff members that I and four of my former colleagues organise about twice a year. Val was a regular freelancer on MM. Somehow or other The Restless Generation was mentioned during a conversation I was having with her and this prompted me to get it down off the shelf and give it a second, or maybe a third, read. It’s still as good as it was when I read it for the first time when it was published in 2007. 


        The desire to re-read a book is surely the best possible commendation. I’ve read No Surrender, Johnny Rogan’s biog of Van Morrison, at least twice, ditto Ian MacDonald’s Revolution In The Head, his outstanding analysis of The Beatles’ music, and from time to time I still pick it up to check on what he says about this or that Beatles song. Another book of which I never tire is The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll which contains essays on all the genre’s principal performers (up to around 1975) by America’s best music writers. A very big book (37x27cm, 382 pages) with superb pictures, someone at RS sent me a copy in early 1976, when it was first published, and I’ve held on to it ever since. 

        The first rock biog I ever read, in 1969, was Hunter Davies’ authorised biography of The Beatles but this was supplanted in 1981 by Philip Norman’s Shout!: The True Story Of The Beatles which I’ve also read more than once. This, in turn, has been supplanted to an extent by Mark Lewisohn’s Tune In, the first in his anticipated trilogy of definitive Beatles biographies. I say ‘to an ‘extent’ because the first of Marks books ends as 1962 becomes 1963, and I’ve read the extended two-volume edition of this a couple of times too, all 1,700 pages, a bit of a challenge but worth the effort. 

Amongst the earliest and most read books on my shelves are Nik Cohn’s confrontational Rock From The Beginning, Elvis by Jerry Hopkins, the first serious Presley biog, and Hellfire: The Jerry Lee Lewis Story by Nick Tosches, widely acclaimed as among the finest ever written about a rock’n’roller. Talking of Elvis, I’ve also read Peter Guralnick’s Last Train To Memphis and Careless Love, his two-volume thesis on the life of Elvis, a couple of times too. 

Of all those Who books, the one I consult the most is Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere: The Complete Chronicle of The Who 1958-1978 by Andy Neill & Matt Kent, 300 LP-sized pages of 100% accurate information, and when it comes to The Beatles you can’t beat Mark Lewisohn’s Complete Beatles Chronicle which is equally comprehensive and precise. I use both these books for reference whenever I post about the acts they cover, as I do with Dave Lewis and Mike Tremaglio’s Evenings With Led Zeppelin: The Complete Concert Chronicle (2021 edition) when I need to ensure my Zep facts are correct. For charts I consult the third edition of The Complete Book of the British Charts by Neil Warwick, Jon Kutner and Tony Brown, and for everything else I’m lucky to have copped the 10-volume Encyclopedia of Popular Music (4th Edition), which editor Colin Larkin kindly delivered to me at Omnibus and which I bundled into the boot of my car when I retired. 

        Talking of which, apart from the chart book, I’ve deliberately left out any of those Omnibus books of which I’m particularly proud, but back in 2016 I made up a list of 25 that can be found here: https://justbackdated.blogspot.com/2016/01/omnibus-press-personal-choice.html

And, of course, the books I mention here barely scratch the surface of the true extent of our library, rock or otherwise. I dont often visit houses where there are next to no books on shelves, aside from, maybe, a cookery book or two, but whenever I do I feel desperately sorry for the occupants, and even more so for their children. 


Lou Reed in 1974

Fifty years ago this week I interviewed Lou Reed which wasn’t as onerous a task as I had been led to believe it might be. Lou could be a bit of a curmudgeon at the best of times but apart from when I asked him if he’d been to see Bob Dylan during his recent shows at Madison Square Garden, he was reasonably civil towards me. His response to the Dylan question comes towards the end of the piece I wrote for Melody Maker which I’ve now posted on Just Backdated, link below. 

As it happened I became reasonably friendly with Lou in 1976, as my stint as MM’s man in New York was coming to an end. He was a regular at Ashley's bar & restaurant on Fifth Avenue at 13th Street, often in the company of Jonny Podell, his manager at the time, and Rachel, his girlfriend whose gender was always in doubt. One night, my friend Glen Colson – who was sleeping on my couch at the time – and I got talking to Lou at Ashley’s and I mentioned that I’d reviewed his show at the Palladium, and Glen offered to drop off a copy of that week’s MM at his apartment. 

At Lou’s place on the East Side he was greeted by Rachel. She roused Lou from the bedroom and the MM was handed over. Their living room full to the brim with old black and white RCA TV sets that he’d used as the backdrop to the Palladium show and Lou offered Glen some. Glen called me and when I gave him the thumbs up he relieved Lou of three TVs which he loaded into a cab and brought round to my flat on East 78th Street. I think Lou had got them from a hospital where they were surplus to requirements. They didn’t work that well, probably because we had to use coat hangers from a dry-cleaners as aerials. I wasn’t that bothered. In the four years I spent in New York I never felt the need to watch TV. I liked Robert Stack as Elliot Ness and a news show called 60 Minutes but most US TV was crap and, in any case, I was out and about pretty much every night. 

Over to you Lou. 

Lou Reed: Man Of Few Words

We’re up on the 37th floor of a Park Avenue office block that faces north and thus commands an extensive view of New York’s Central Park and Harlem way out in the distance. Lou Reed sits in a director’s swivel chair and looks uncomfortable.

    It’s not that he doesn’t like doing interviews, it’s just that it usually helps if he has a friend with him to smooth out the atmosphere and encourage conversation. Today no such friend is available and Lou seems a little lost for words, and rather than say something he doesn’t want to say, he doesn’t say anything at all.

    The continuing story of Lou Reed reached another chapter last month with the release of a live album titled Rock And Roll Animal, recorded at New York’s Academy of Music around Christmas It contains familiar Reed material, ‘Heroin’, ‘Sweet Jane’ and ‘Rock And Roll’ and the sound quality is really excellent for a live show.

    And, in keeping with Reed’s persistently changing image, his appearance has changed yet again. Today, and for at least the next few weeks, he has very short hair, almost a crew-cut, dyed black, and without any growth at all descending below the height of his ears. Last week he had Iron Crosses dyed into the black, but they’ve gone today.

    He looks, in fact, rather like a convict or a soldier. He is very thin. His blue denim jacket tends to drop off his shoulders and his jeans would be tight on others if not on him. He talks very quietly. Also very little.

    Thus when I inquired what motivated him to put out a live album of old material at this stage in his career, he replied quite simply that a mobile recording studio was available and he thought he might as well use it. And he was equally vague about the musicians who played with him on the concert and record.

    “There was Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner on guitars, Prakash John on bass, Whitey Glan on drums, Ray Colcord on bass and me on vocals. I don’t know whether I’ll be playing with them again, though. They all have private ambitions of their own.

    “I’ve almost got a band together of my own at the moment, but we haven’t rehearsed yet. It includes Doug Yule, who was in the Velvet Underground, and Steve Katz and I may play acoustic guitars or we may not depending on what happens.”

    It seems that Lou had plans to go over to England to record with this new band during early May, but the power problems have put him off. “I think the English work harder in the studio,” he says, “but I can’t go there if there’s no power. The engineers seem to care more and they do more with less than the Americans do.

    “I’ve written plenty of material recently, more than enough for an album and I like it. I think it’s rock and roll. It has a drum,” he grins.

    I asked whether he preferred to work in the studio or onstage. Again his answer was vague. “I haven’t done either in such a long time that I really don’t know.” So why is it he doesn’t work too often? “My condition.” He was reluctant to amplify.

    I changed direction and mentioned David Bowie. “He’s very clever. We found we had a lot of things in common.”

    I suggested his career took an uplift as a result of this flirtation but he wasnt about to give Bowie any more credit than he felt was due. “David learned how to be hip,” he replied with a glint in his eye. “Associating with me brought his name out to a lot more people, too. He’s very good in the studio. In a manner of speaking he produced an album for me.”

    But certain observers thought it was a step in the wrong direction for Reed. “People think a lot of things,” he replied.

    “I enjoyed those shows I did in London at the Rainbow, but I kept thinking, Frank Zappa fell 17 feet down into that pit. I hate Frank Zappa, and it made me so happy to think about that.

    “I like the direction my career is going right now. It has more direction and cohesiveness. I don’t think I’m a singer, with or without a guitar. I give dramatic readings that are almost my tunes. Did you know that my real voice has never been heard? What they usually do in the studio is to speed up the vocal track and make my voice higher. I scream, when I play live because when you scream your voice goes up...like this – Sweet Jane,” he yelled.

    He paused: “I liked Mott The Hoople’s version of that song,” he went on. “I did a reference vocal for them. The one I really liked was Brownsville Station’s version of that song. I loved that. I hope they release it as a single.

    “I liked ‘Walk On The Wild Side’, too. I found the secret with that one. I was supposed to write a play called The Walk On The Wild Side and I read the book and wrote the song. Nothing came of the play but I wasn’t going to waste the time and energy I put into the song so I put it out.

    “People don’t deserve good lyrics because they never listen to them these days. That’s why the melody has to be good, When I have a lyric that I think everybody will like, I won’t drown it out, though. If it’s a secret lyric I’ll bury it. I don’t print lyrics on record sleeves, except with Berlin and then they wrote them with a quill pen, the stupid fuckers. They wrote them out in longhand because they thought that was chic. I could have killed them.”

    Reed says he listens to very little music other than his own and The Kinks. He is a great admirer of Ray Davies. “I liked the Great Lost Kinks album where Ray stands revealed. I’d love to see them in a nice little cabaret setting singing their nice little songs.”

    Reed says he is continually changing his appearance through boredom. “I found I couldn’t really solve the boredom by changing my appearance but at least I could stop some of the hassle. I don’t have to comb my hair now because there isn’t enough.

    At this stage in the interview, Steve Katz walked into the room. Katz, the former guitarist with Blood, Sweat & Tears, produced Reed’s live album, so I asked how he came to be involved with Reed.

    “I admire him as a person, musician and organiser,” said Reed. “I can’t organise anything. I have a lot of problems when it comes to organisation.”

    For no apparent reason, Reed then launched into a seething criticism of Jefferson Airplane, expressing the view that they represented the worst in everything, both musical and ideally. “I hate everything about them, the way they dress, the way they look, the way they play, the cute name. I despise every San Francisco group except Moby Grape and they broke up.”

    So I asked whether Lou had been to see Bob Dylan on the recent tour. “Are you kidding?” he replied. “I know what Bob Dylan looks like and he’s too short to see anyway. I saw the back of his head once. I didn’t want to go to see him, especially if he is giving his money to Israel. If he gave some to Israel and some to the Arabs it would be different.”

    I mentioned the New York Dolls a band I thought Lou would like. 

    “You know, I tried so hard to like the New York Dolls but I couldn’t. I like the titles of their songs. It’s such a shame. They’re just another glitter trash band.

    “I’m still mad that Fats Domino never made it properly. He could have been a blues artist in the tradition of Bessie Smith.”

    And with that last comment, Reed offered a limp handshake and disappeared into the afternoon.



For the first time since 1992, the year I was first invited to nominate inductees into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, I feel unable to select the required seven artists or groups from the list of nominees for the induction ceremony. This is partly to do with my belief that several of them don’t deserve to be in a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, this because they have about as much to do with rock & roll as Pat Boone, or my own ignorance of their work, or that the music they produce is not to my taste.

Anyone who’s read any of my earlier posts on the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame will know that over the years I’ve become disillusioned with the quality of the acts inducted and the motivation of those who control this increasingly archaic institution. The former is conditioned by the latter insofar as this annual extravaganza seems to be fuelled by a need to sustain its commercial potential and this can only be done by opening its doors to more and more acts of lesser merit than those that preceded them. The inevitable result is a lowering of standards. 

I apologise if that sounds a bit pompous, a bit ‘it was better in my day’ but that’s the way I feel and I don’t think I’m alone in this. Either way, as it has done for donkeys years, the nomination form landed on my doormat last week. For 2024, I am asked to choose seven acts from the following 15: Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, Cher, The Dave Matthews Band, Eric B & Rakim, Foreigner, Peter Frampton, Jane’s Addiction, Kool & The Gang, Lenny Kravitz, Oasis, Sinéad O’Connor, Ozzy Osbourne, Sade and A Tribe Called Quest.

So, let’s begin a process of elimination by ruling out those who don’t belong in the R&R HoF. Eric B & Rakim and A Tribe Called Quest are both successful hip-hop acts who certainly qualify for the Hip-Hop Hall of Fame in New York but not for the R&R HoF (any more than Ozzy would qualify for the Hip-Hop HoF); Mariah Carey and Sade are smooth MoR/pop acts with contrasting voices and Mary J. Blige a smooth soul act (and pretty damn good too). Next come those about whom I am ignorant. I confess to a 100% unfamiliarity with the work of the Dave Matthews Band, whose profile in the UK is limited, to say the least, a 75% unfamiliarity with Lenny Kravitz, and, not much liking heavy metal (at least since my 1970s flirtation with Led Zep and Deep Purple), haven’t bothered much with Foreigner or Ozzy away from Sabbath, not that I was much a fan of them either. 

With nine eliminated I am left with six, one less than the seven I’m supposed to nominate: Cher, Frampton, Jane’s Addiction, Kool & The Gang, Oasis and Sinéad. Cher has been knocking around since 1965 when she and her former husband Sonny Bono topped the charts with ‘I Got You Babe’, sort of entry level Dylan, which I rather liked, and I approve of her association with Abba in the second of their Mama Mia! films, so she’ll get my vote. Peter Frampton, too, has been knocking around for ages, and I happen to know he’s a nice bloke, so that’s vote number two. Jane’s Addiction are nicely alternative and what I’ve heard leads me to believe their hearts are in the right place, so they’ll get my vote. Kool & The Gang are also veterans and I remember seeing them in the US around 1975 or ’6, another of those soul acts with so many members funkin’ it up on stage you didn’t know where to look. They persevered and I can still hum two slightly later songs of theirs, ‘Ladies Night’ and ‘Get Down On It’, so they’ll get my vote.

Which leaves Oasis and Sinéad. To a certain extent I’m swayed by nationalist pride in lending my support to Oasis (not least because the HoF traditionally favours Americans) but the real reason why I’ll vote for them – and the reason why they probably won’t be inducted – is because Noel and Liam are likely to come to blows on the rostrum, which I’d love to see. Also, they’re expected to perform together in their original line-up, which might prove troublesome too.

Finally, Sinéad. Sufficient to say that if I was required to vote for one artist from all 15, she’d be the one I’d pick. Sinéad has, in the vernacular of the constabulary, been a person of interest to me ever since I first heard (and saw the video for) her breath-taking reading of Prince’s ‘Nothing Compares To You’ and I know I’m far from alone in this. Early in her career I went to see her at the Royal Albert Hall and was mesmerised by this waiflike creature, especially when she produced a beat-box and danced a jig to one of her songs, arms straight down her sides, high stepping Riverdance style. Her first two albums, The Lion And The Cobra and I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got, have been favourites of mine for years, and I tried to keep up with her music while her antics made headlines, not always for the right reasons.

But all of this can seem virtually insignificant against her fearlessness, most especially her stance against the ills of the Roman Catholic church in her home country and much else besides. A true heroine for righteous causes galore, Sinéad ought to have been nominated for the R&R HoF in 2012, 25 years after The Lion And The Cobra arrived, this being the length of time required to elapse between the release of an artist’s first record and when they become eligible. Far be it from me to suggest that since Sinéad O’Connor left us in 2023, and is consequently no longer around to be awkward, to say something people might not want to hear on their stage, this is what prompted the R&R HoF to include her amongst the 2024 nominations. 

        Finally, if you go on to the R&R HoFs website you can place a fans vote. Ive already done this for Sinéad but she languishes in 10th place from the 16 nominees. Ozzy is top, Foreigner at number two, Frampton at three and Matthews on four, a bit predictable I suppose. I am given to understand that this vote influences who will be inducted but is by no means conclusive.