The following is a transcript from “Chuck Berry: The Original King of Rock’n’Roll” interview with John Brewer available on YouTube. John Brewer directed the 2018 film “Chuck Berry”.
Hi, I’m Jon Brewer. I’m a director and a producer, and I also have had 50 years of experience in the music industry. Chuck Berry was Chuck Berry. The definition of Chuck Berry is – Chuck Berry. If you had tried to try and get rock and roll another name, you might call it Chuck Berry. He is the most important guitarist in rock history.
He can tell you a full story in three minutes lyrically. If he couldn’t think of a word, he would just make one up. Coolaradar Botheration Motorvating Everyone wants Maybelline, Maybelline. Well, the music is just too powerful to be denied. And you could almost say Chuck Berry invented the teenager.
That records wouldn’t get played on white station even at that period. He was the first inductee in a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Now I know mine, we went to record it at the legendary Chess Studios. In the studio, we met Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry. Started that whole hip-hop tradition. Back then, he was the gangster, the first gangster.
You know, Chuck Berry was a character that Charles Edward Anderson Berry played. When he came home, he was the man I married. The money goes in the case; then the guitar comes out. Yeah, he’s the man, for sure. Given me more headaches than Mick Jagger. That is the trailer for the recently released documentary Chuck Berry – The Original King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
And this is Factual America. Brought to you by Alamo pictures, a production company that makes documentaries about America for an international audience. Chuck Berry was the original King of Rock and Roll. That is according to Jon Brewer, who should know. Known as the God of rock docs, Jon discusses Chuck Berry, the making of his documentary about the American icon, and a host of amazing stories drawn from his 50 years in the music business, working with the likes of Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Gerry Rafferty, and BB King, just to name a few.
We caught up recently with Jon from his studio in London. Jon Brewer, welcome to Factual America. Jon, how are things with you? Oh, with me? Personally, I’m okay. It’s a bit cold here in England. And of course, we’re subjected to this strange virus lock down. But other than that, I’m okay.
Thank you. Yeah, well, I’m based in England as well. So it’s good to be talking to someone in the same timezone. Usually, I’ve got someone in LA on the other end. Also good news today, we got a word of another vaccine that’s about 94-95% effective, supposedly, so maybe we’re about to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and we just.
.. I think we are, but this, the effects gonna now last for some time. And, you know, I know everyone is canceling tours. And you know, that whole routine of scheduling is completely, in a good English way, is cocked up, but you know, that’s what’s happened. It’s what’s happened.
And I think we’re all in one big giant boat. We’re all in that same boat together. Thanks so much for coming on. It’s quite an honour to have you on. We’re here to discuss primarily, your latest film, Chuck Berry – The Original King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. As it is, as it says on the tin.
He unfortunately passed away went on to rock ‘n’ roll Heaven, we think, on March 18 2017. But where can listeners find this film? I think it’s on all major streaming services, and it’s about to come out on DVD and Blu-ray, is that correct? Well, I think it’s correct.
The problem is that, I was asked this question the other day, and it’s on some of the platforms and there are holdbacks on certain situations, but it’s being on a theatrical release. And quite interestingly, we picked up a lot of the drive-ins and we basically had great response.
And also we had sort of the smaller, art theatres picked up on it. And of course, we milked it all the way since then, successfully. And then DVD will be coming out. And then we probably will be on the bigger platforms. yes. And then we’ll go to the smaller platforms as things do.
But then from there onwards, everything looks great. Well, excellent. Well, again, I’ve seen the film, I highly recommend it. I really, really enjoyed it. It’s a good, good fun, good hour and a half, certainly. Maybe the next couple of questions are going to seem, certainly for someone my age, seem a little odd.
But in talking to someone on my team, who said, we’re talking about this, and she said, well, she didn’t really know anything about popular music before The Beatles. So maybe give us a little synopsis of the film. And then tell us who Chuck Berry was. Well, Chuck Berry, I think, was the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll because he performed and he wrote.
And he recorded. To me, just spending a little time on Chuck at this point. Whereas Elvis didn’t write, he performed and he recorded. And Little Richard, well, he sort of wrote but not to the extent that Chuck wrote. And so in a way, I just think that Chuck was the, sort of, the King of Rock and Roll.
He wrote with lyrics, he was a poet. And he invented many words, as it was pointed out, probably not in the Scrabble dictionary. And if you listen to those lyrics, they were pointed towards, for obvious reasons, because Chuck was a lot older than being a teenager, towards the teenage audience, which I really believe he created the teenager.
Although I grew up as a teenager, I thought I was a teenager, and I knew about teenagers. There are a lot of people that didn’t really realise there were teenagers. And the teenage expression, the teenage want, things that made teenagers teenagers, was everything that Chuck wrote about.
And if he couldn’t use words that we all know, he made them up. And it was great. So that was Chuck and Chuck was given one of the best launches as a musician, because everyone thought he was white. And in those days, when he first started, you had black radio that would only play black music, and there was white stations that would only play white music.
And the white stations were the powerful stations, of course. And what happened was he got his break, because they all thought he was white. And when he came to concerts, there’s many stories and appearances that he turned up and things went, no, no we’re waiting for Chuck Berry, because he was black.
And most of his problems rose from being black. God knows what he would have had if he had been white. But in those days, that’s what happened. And I believe he was one of those pioneers of being able to get rid of the racism or start anyway. Because I don’t know whether you know anything about his performances, but I have visuals, and there’s some visuals in the film, that show archive footage of him basically going from one side of the stage, side of the stage to the other.
Now this was what Chuck did. He was very clever. Ingrid, his daughter, who was with him for 42 years on the road, told me this. His idea was to pull those on the left over to those on the right. Those on the right over to the left. Well in the South, and majority of the Southern and other territories too, there was a law that if you were watching an artist perform, it will be a rope down the middle of the club.
And that rope would disappear at Chuck’s performances, because he went from the left to the right and the right to the left. And he was moving so fast that people love dancing and music, especially at that time, and they still do, of course, and what happened was that they mingled.
They started dancing in the clubs. And black would dance with white and white would dance with black and the rope would go down. And there was always police at those venues. And they couldn’t do anything about it. Because nobody really worked out where the rope was. And that’s what actually happened.
And, being the God of rock docs, as they now refer to me, experienced that. Unfortunately not with Chuck, when we were filming in the California deserts, we filmed at night. And in the open there, outside, and it was so cold. That was one reason we did this. We put bins big speaker bins up in the desert, and at a gas station, which was the set.
And what we did was put Maybelline on and keep playing Maybelline. And I don’t know whether you’ve ever experienced this. But if you play Maybelline, you will never stand still. And that’s how we generated heat. With a couple of overcoats and sweaters and various other things.
And what we did was make really remake, the same thing that happened in those clubs, which basically tore down that barrier. And eventually, it collapsed. Not completely, but it collapsed. And racism. I believe in all our ways, and I looked at Nat King, I did Nat King Cole, as you know, was similar.
He’s tackled the situation of racism in his own little way, or big way. And Chuck did the same. Because he got himself into all sorts of pickle. And got himself arrested on many occasions. And I’ll talk about that later, as we get into this conversation. That was the reason, you couldn’t stand still listening to Maybelline.
Well, and you’ve just, that’s just one of his many songs, which a lot of people of a certain age may not even realise are his originally. Maybelline, Roll over Beethoven, Rock and Roll Music, Johnny Be Good, Brown Eyed Handsome Man, Monkey Business is one that you give a lot of airtime towards the end, when talking to his daughter, I think Ingrid.
So he’s written these amazing songs, as you say, you think, you pose, not just pose it. I think a lot of people agree with you that he is the original King of Rock and Roll. He was the first inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And then I think, for someone of my generation who grew up in United States, I mean, I hate to say it, but the sad thing I found watching this film was that I grew up of an era of which, okay, he had the novelty hit in terms of my ding a ling, right.
Which is ironically, his own first and only number one. And then you heard all about the troubles of the law and the taxman. But I think what your film does is brings us back to the essence of his greatness and who he was. And I think this thing about the poet and storyteller, maybe you can say even more about that.
Because you’ve got archive of McCartney, I think on there and others, just saying, how he could just boil it, tell the whole story in less than three minutes. Well, he definitely was a storyteller, that’s for sure. And he definitely was a poet. The situation is that, I personally think, and there are various views of his life that became detrimental to his ongoing performing and his relationship with how to deal with them.
See, when I started in the industry, there were no parameters. We were pioneers, we created those parameters. And, you know, publishing is very important today. And it was very unimportant in those days. But, you know, he was responsible for bringing the cycle in, of what we know as rock ‘n’ roll in music today.
It was three chords. He played the guitar beautifully, wonderfully, beautifully is not the word, he played it wonderfully. And it was related to the songs that he really created, that was so important to the Beatles, so important to the Rolling Stones. A lot of the English acts that came over to perform in America that we know of The Who and how in maybe 10 years after all, of these acts, basically, learned from Chuck Berry.
And they adapted their way of playing his songs. Anything they would make, I mean, they would set a path straight for Chicago and Chess Records, wouldn’t they? I mean, a lot of them, as in a way… That’s a little bit of, a little bit too easy to basically agree with that. A lot of those would be listening.
And that always happens through ports. And ports, basically, as you probably well know, The Beatles used to go down, Ringo used to go down. Paul McCartney, John Lennon used to go down to the docks. And as the big ships come in, they bring them American jukebox, on records, and they’d swap them.
And before you knew what happened is, that became the format of their band of which they were going forward. And they wrote songs based around what they heard. And it became related to those places you just suggested. Yes, The Stones did go over and record thinking they were going to pick up the sounds that they had developed their music around.
You also looked at the back of a Stones album, and everything was, you know, Berry this, Berry that, Berry this, Berry that, who’ve written all these songs. The Beatles were the same in a way, although not as much. But The Who, everybody that was starting out at that period of time, was saying, if he can do it, we can do it.
But they didn’t really do it as well in certain ways. But you can hear Chuck in the way they’ve performed. And, of course, you’ve got to understand that he was a real writer. A real writer. I think you have that great scene, now, maybe educate us. There’s this sort of a tribute concert done, wasn’t it, in St.
Louis, and you’ve got… Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ roll. Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll, you got Keith Richards on there. And you capture that scene where Chuck Berry basically is giving Keith Richard guitar lessons. Yes. Well, look, you’ve got to, to a certain extent, understand Chuck Berry.
That’s difficult. Otherwise, we would have had quite a lot of Chuck Berries. But Chuck Berry was not an easy person. I think going to prison, and they do say that prison sentence of any length changes the person. And I think he got that from prison. I think he changed, had a chip on his shoulder about a lot of things.
And he pushed the boat out too far. I’ve been criticised for saying that, but I really do believe he pushed the boat out too far. Which means he stretched it. Why open, in St. Louis, a club for people to dance at, younger people to dance at, that allowed, against the normal rule that whites went to white clubs and black goes to black clubs.
Why open one in St. Louis? It was the only one, right? And of course, the authorities, basically he was putting a finger out to, or two fingers out to the authorities. And they will bring him down. They will stop his licenses, they’ll stop his hours, they’ll stop various other things.
And then he bought a cinema, a cinema or theatre, and wanted to show specialised films and bits and pieces, they closed him down. And with the Mann Act, which was never intended to do what they did with him, basically was nonsense, you know. He met one of his friends in the neighbouring state.
He met a girl that wanted a job. He was opening this club, he said, I’ll give you a job if you want to come, basically, come back to St. Louis. And she did. And she got back to St. Louis. And she was part of the opening night, she wore wonderful headdress and she was a novelty.
And unfortunately, you know, he got wound up in that. I don’t know, I wasn’t there. But I don’t think Chuck was short of a few girlfriends. And anyway, he was happily married at that time. Themetta, who basically was his wife, right from the start to the finish, said to me that he just built that club because when he went up to do bandstand, he couldn’t believe how much the young people wanted to dance.
And that’s what he did. He actually got himself into hot water again. Mann Act was, he went to prison. And I can tell you, all of research, the reason he went to prison was because he was black. And there is no question about it. Charlie Chaplin, who also was accused of the Mann Act, didn’t go to prison.
And didn’t Jerry Lee Lewis, did similar things, didn’t he? He actually got married to that girl, age of 13, which he got loopholes and various things. And, I don’t know, some people, I don’t know. I certainly was much too young at that time to really know. And there certainly didn’t live in St.
Louis, at that time Saint Louis, at that time to see that whole thing going on? But, you know, they couldn’t, if they were outside their areas, in the city that they lived in, and they were in a black area, they were okay. To a certain degree. But if they went in the white areas, you had a problem.
I was gonna say, you’re talking a lot about St. Louis, and the thing that struck me as well, that I hadn’t appreciated was, part of this identity, who he is this, he has this love for his hometown, even if it’s not treated him very well. He owned a lot of it. I mean, didn’t you have, I forget who says it, but it’s about 50-50 sort of responsibilities for some of the troubles that he got in.
He certainly was, as you said, pushing the boat out, really stretching the limits. He wanted to create a Disneyland. He thought that was wonderful. So he bought Berry Park. And his uncle, no, his brother, I was speaking to his son about it, his brother said, owned some land up there and told Chuck, there was some land, a lot of land being for sale.
And he bought it and tried to create a Disneyland, a small Disneyland up there. And filled big sort of craters with water and build a swimming pool in the shape of a guitar. You could go up there and stay there and basically join in the fun and games. He wanted concerts there and said he didn’t want to promote them.
And he got into terrible trouble because guns were carried, drugs were carried, Leon Russell hadn’t been paid by the promoter. And, you know, Chuck Berry have been the promoter, he created so much about being paid and being ripped off. That would never have happened, but it eventually closed it down.
I’ll tell you a little story. When I turned up and first saw Berry Park, I was very excited. And is derelict. Yeah, you capture that on the film a bit. It surprised me towards the end, because… The first thing came out of my mouth – Why? And there in the middle of it was the most beautifully new build of house.
And he lived in that house, built it for himself. And he also lived in his house in another part of the city, a very affluent part of the city, which is where Themetta lived and the family lived. Now, I said to his family, why did he not repair the swimming pool, after the fire, there was problems and this and that.
And his son, although being a musician, and then toured with him, actually was a builder. And I said, why didn’t you do this? He said, I wasn’t allowed to. Dad said, don’t touch it. And he did that really to prove a point. It was a failure point. Because he tried to give pleasure to a lot of people.
But he was stopped in every way. I mean, when you think about it, there was a death in the pool, I think two deaths of kids in the pool. And it just basically taught him. He said, that’s it. No more, just leave it as it is. Now, there’s further stories that go on and his wife, she’s really a very interesting one, his wife said to me, I said, I find it very difficult because he wrote a book, and his biography was there.
And she said to me, I said, what did you think of the biography? She said, I only wish, only wish that he told me all these stories that he told in the book to my face rather than having to write it and put it out. And I said, Oh, that must be terrible. She said, Well, I’ll say one thing, Chuck Berry was a stage name.
When he walked out of this house, Charles Berry, went out and went on tour as Chuck Berry. And when Chuck Berry came back of being on the road and walked into the house, he was Charles Berry, the most wonderful father, the most wonderful family man you could ever imagine. And I know we all say what goes on on the road, stays on the road.
But it really was true. And he wasn’t very clever in the way, because he was angry, I think, on keeping it all to himself and being discreet. A lot of people would say, well, that’s very genuine. Why should he be like that? But there you go, that’s what happened. He certainly kept a couple of his mistresses on the property.
And I felt that was quite strange. And yet she was so wonderful to him. And he was so wonderful to her. Well, except for, almost right at the beginning, it kicks off with Themetta. And she comes across as she was definitely his lodestar, I would say, but as you’ve already said, they’re married 69 years.
Beautiful children. She’s quite amazing. I can’t, she must be around ninety years old herself. Hope I’m doing that well, when I’m that age. And yet there are all these infidelities. And like you said, there was this Chuck Berry. And then there was this persona that was Charles Edward Anderson Berry.
Yeah. Two people. Yeah. And so, I mean, obviously the family was fully on board with this documentary. How did you, you’re kind of showing warts and all, I would say, in terms of his life, and they had no, I guess they’re well aware of it. And they’ve come to their peace with it.
Is that right? It is. And I don’t think they will ever come to their peace with it. They are so proud of their dad. And, you know, they’re not young. His grandchildren are beautiful children. And they’re all playing guitars now and basically was so full of grandpa, that was it, you know.
But you’ve got to understand that he made a lot of money. He made a lot of money in real estate too. He put all his money into real estate. He left 54 million cash. And he basically had about a quarter million, 250,000. Was it 250? No, it couldn’t be. Two and a half million on real estates.
I think you’ll find out. But his real estate lawyer was very timid to explain it. Maybe a lot more than that. He does make an appearance in the film. But yeah, he’s a bit cagey, isn’t he? 250 million he made in real estate. Sorry, I quoted you wrong. Yes. Okay. Yeah, well, that’s what I have down here.
I mean, just my own notes. Family man, real estate developer. That’s Charles Edward Anderson Berry, you know. And then you’ve got Chuck Berry, who, I mean, you could argue, as you’ve already said, for the various reasons why you think he’s the king of rock ‘n’ roll.
But he created the persona of a rock and roll star. Absolutely. But the thing is that he would not adapt to the current at the time, wealth and building of the industry. He basically published himself, that’s very difficult to do. And when basically, he performed, there’s the story of the Chuck Berry stories of you know, his rider.
Now, his rider, which went to the promoter of what he required, was mainly the type of equipment that he wanted onstage. Eventually, it was only him and the toothbrush and the case and the guitar. And they would, literally, the promoters in the local area would put ads out for whoever was able to play that night.
And he created a band that played Chuck Berry music. And sometimes it went wrong. Sometimes it didn’t. But anything he was asking for, was not like to a lot of rock bands, like four crates of hard liquor, and… It was all to do with the equipment. Now, if you didn’t supply him with that equipment, he’d find the promoter.
And he’d say that’s cost you $2,000. And if you didn’t get what he wanted to do his show, he also walked off exactly the timing on the dot, whether it was halfway through a number or not. And he would say, very simply, I will be there. You will pay me in cash before we start.
Now, I’ll tell you a story about an English promoter who I knew well, who basically said, Look, I’ve converted this at a very fair rate to you. And he said, you converted it? what are you talking about? He said, well, in Sterling, I’ve agreed to pay you so much money. That’s what you wanted.
And he said – no, I didn’t want that. He said, well, what did you want then? He said, I wanted it in dollars. I know I’m performing in London, but I need it in dollars. He said I can’t go to the bank because it’s Saturday. And we never, as you probably know, basically, in those days, we didn’t open banks on Saturdays.
And he said, well, I’m sorry, I can’t perform. They said, well, look, we can get a rate from anywhere, we’ll go down to your hotel, and there, and he said no, I want dollars or I won’t be performing tonight. And this guy, poor guy had to go around every American or English hotel, and ask them to basically change funds.
And by doing that to get, I don’t know what it was 10,000 or 20,000 or whatever it was. That’s a hell of a request and a hell of a job to go around all these hotels and down to the airport and whatever it was, because they’re limited to what they could change in those days.
So he did it and he came back and gave him the dollars and that was that, quite a bit of money. But also, he was a stickler with that and if you paid the fine, you’d go on, as simple as that. But he wasn’t having it any other way. And it was always cash, right? Always cash. Couldn’t write, you know, an IOU or basically or bankers draft.
He wouldn’t have taken it. He wanted cash. And that was fair, you know, I did the BB King: Life of Riley film and coming out the BB King: On the Road film, just next year. And, you know, the story is that BB used to tell me, what unreal, that you know you had to get your money, be said he’d always eventually get half of his money.
So he could pay the gas. And he basically knew that he was getting something out of it. Because he held the record of 365 days, a year of performing, and sometimes two times a night. And he said to me, he said, Jon, at the end, we had to get our money upfront. We were big enough to demand it.
But the thing was, if we didn’t, they were running down the road with your whole money from the box office. And that was it. And you know, all the promoters would basically, you know, if they were white promoters, they were saying well, that is, that’s what happens. You know, if they were black promoters, even with black promoters, BB said, he said if they had Jewish names, I knew something was wrong.
That seems like a good point to take a quick break, and we’ll be straight back with Jon Brewer. You’re listening to Factual America. Subscribe to our mailing list, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter at Alamo pictures to keep up to date with new releases or upcoming shows.
Check out the show notes to learn more about the program, our guests and the team behind the production. Now back to Factual America. Welcome back to Factual America. I’m here with Jon Brewer, director and producer of Chuck Berry: The Original King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. You can find it on various streaming services, and it’s coming out on DVD and Blu-ray.
I mean, we’re just been talking about Chuck Berry, the man and his persona. I mean, these are days that don’t, these kind of stories, these characters just seem like they’ll never be repeated, will they? Well, the business has changed. If you walked up and said, I want to be paid in cash and today, and you are an artist that was commanding 20,000 seaters, or 30.
It’s impossible. First of all, you become a very high risk situation, you couldn’t get insurance, because, at the end of the day, no one will put up with him. So the fact is, it could never happen today. Those are the little things that we’ve talked about. But at the end of the day, the world has completely changed.
I mean, look, the Stones basically sell that tours. They don’t basically collect money, so they may not be paid. And the deal gets done way, way before the show’s over or seen the light of day. Merchandise today sells. I don’t think he ever sold any merchandise on the road.
He wouldn’t know how, what I mean, you know. At the end of it, the world has completely changed. And he would have earned, if he’d been handled by a manager, which he wasn’t, handled by a promoter properly, you know, someone like Bill Graham, because it was changing in San Francisco.
And they had basically five or six major promoters around the country. And if they a cartel, if he had been handled by that cartel, he would have made 10 times the amount of money that he made. But it’s a different world. Now, my first royalty statement that I ever got from EMI was written in hand, written by pen.
That’s a long time ago. Every royalty statement I ever got, that was written in hand, was robbed. Now, define the computer to such an extent, they can’t cheat it. I’m sure there are ways but, it costs too much money to do that today. So you know, at the end of the chapter, it’s like, you know.
But, you know something, he was very successful, very clever man. He was not uneducated, he was very clever. Well, that really comes out in the film. I think for someone like, for me, what struck me was how intelligent he was. How ahead of his time he was. You talked about, we talked about him being this rock ‘n’ roll persona yet at the same time, you know, sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, but he didn’t have the drugs part, certainly, as far as we know.
He certainly had the sex part. Didn’t have the drugs thing, he didn’t like it. And second, and thirdly, certainly had the rock ‘n’ roll part. But it needed to be adapted. And I think he was a strong man, when he came to negotiate. And I don’t think he wanted any, $1 more than he basically agreed.
And, you know, there were a lot of things going on in the 60s and 70s. That, and pressure put on by artists that had become successful on promoters demanding more money, because they didn’t trust their gate percentage. You know, we we’re not going on them, and then be right, and the promoter would buckle in.
I’ve seen that happen many times. Interesting. Now, of course, we discussed earlier on about the selling of tours, selling merchandise, and, you know, artists basically get their money way before they even start. So that’s a big headache that they don’t have to deal with. So that’s something.
I’ll tell you why I took that approach. There are, there are several versions of this film. But I wanted to get rid of what everybody thought I was going to talk about and paint. And that was, oh, he was a criminal. He basically had the misfortune in one way of being put in reformed school.
But the truth that he was, he was a criminal. He actually did hold up grocery stores and various other stores. Why? Because he wanted to get a home. You know, they went to California, and ran out of money, and they had to get a home. Now, you don’t, I don’t suppose that everybody should say as soon as you run out of money, you should either get on to your folks and get some money sent out to you.
If you and I have done it, well, that’s probably what we’re gonna done. But you got to know where he came from. His father was a very senior member of the church. And, you know, he was very religious at the beginning. He reckoned he was saving up to basically the very, very end, need done is religious giving at the beginning, which I always thought was an interesting statement.
Oh, I gave too much to my whoever. And at the end of the day, he said, you know, I’ll leave that up to the end. But I think that he realised that money could be made. And he was interested in making money, but he also wanted people to dance and he wanted people to basically jump around with his music, and he certainly got that going.
I mean, if the Stones, if we never had Chuck Berry, the stones would probably be around, but we’d have a very different band. And it would be a very different band. So you know, I think, when you went into prison for the Mann Act, which was after he done some, at a reformed school that he was in, he done time.
And I think it really annoyed him. But there’s another thing, when you went to the tax problem, he was offered another deal. And he worked it out. That allowed him to close the deal, but the deal meant that he would have made, would be losing a lot of money. So going in and writing the book, and sitting in this very sort of not prison, but sort of open prison was a better deal.
As a businessman that, that sums it up. Well, as the former economist, to me is like he obviously didn’t value his free time highly enough, I think if he … Which is an interesting concept. Why now? Why have you made this film now? Because, it would never have been made if he was alive.
I tried to make it. I tried to go down there. Security was a big, big problem. Because I was told that if he didn’t like what you did, he will shoot you. And I said, well, I don’t think that’s a good idea. I put it off until I was, I’ve put it off till sorry, I put it off till I was near, in the area.
And I’ve done, sort of in the area, in New Orleans. And everyone said he had, he’d made the other film. And the problem was, he was so seriously a problem. Because I think it started at $80,000 for Hail! Rock ‘n’ roll. And he ended up taking just under a million, because he kept rewriting his contract every day.
Which wasn’t normal for him. Because when he came to a deal, but he used to say, well, in making a film, we have to rehearse. So every time they did a take, he said, that’s more money. And eventually, they said, look, you can’t go on like this, we got people out here, but we can’t work like that.
And he used to literally, and I saw footage of it, he gets to say, you’ll ought to stay over there until I’ve got my money. And that can be produced every day on the set. So, you know, day would go by, half a day would go by, and it’s costing them hundreds of thousands. And they already had all these sunk costs in there.
That’s right. For you to, and I’ll say something about Stones, you or Keith, rather, you basically understand that the studios, Universal was really seriously a problem. So for me to come down there and try and get out of Chuck, you would have got nothing. I got more, Themetta’s interview is the only interview she’s ever done in her life.
That is absolutely amazing. And I think that’s something for our listeners to keep in mind because she was, I mean, I just found her incredibly compelling. She’s so eloquent. So regal. One thing you did at the doc, it was interesting, was you did these reconstructions or dramatisations.
But they’re not just your average reconstructions or dramatisations, aren’t they? I mean, they’re kind of very stylised. I don’t know a better way of putting it. Let me tell you why they’re stylised. The situation was that I wanted to know about Chuck Berry. And I wanted my audience to know about Chuck Berry.
To make a film about being thrown into jail as a kid, coming out and then seeing and meeting your wife take you out to the local fair, ground or what they had in those days, and meeting her there and eventually starting out life. And of course then having children, was a wonderful situation.
It was very romantic. Because there were two people that really loved each other. And it was a strange situation because all that, you know, he was very upset the first time he was unfaithful to her. And he eventually got over it. But he felt that he was in two different worlds. And she was oblivious to it all.
I’ll tell you a little story which basically I told the other day. Really had eliminated his, this isn’t in the movie but, had eliminated his, he sort of came of a certain level of a musician and artists, even though he was still pursued by the press and various other, I suppose wracked by racism to a certain point.
So, at the end of the situation, his lawyer, who appears in the film, said, he’s also his personal friend, one of his lawyers anyway. And he felt that he should get Chuck out into society. So he would meet him once a week. And what he also did was invite him round to his home, to have a dinner party for him.
Because he’d never been to a dinner party. And so his lawyer says my wife’s going to cook and we’re gonna have friends there. And he said, Oh, okay, fine. I don’t know. I’ll let you know. And he arrives. And dinner has been made and there’s several parties there, man and wife, and instead of coming with his wife, he came with his mistress.
And as he came in, he had this little sort of picnic box that had been made, and that had been made by Themetta, who knew he was going with this woman who was his mistress. And not only had she made his dinner, but she’d made it for two. And Charles, when he got there, he basically said, I brought the dinner and he said, No, no, no, you don’t have to have dinner.
We’re having dinner. We’re giving it to you. And he said, well, I brought my friend, and for her too, in fact, I think if my wife knows about this, she’d be very upset. And things like that, that we all would be, come on, he must know what a dinner party was. And he didn’t.
And you know, but he wasn’t whatever he made up, to be a violent man in any way, shape, or form. This must have been, I mean, at least for me, this must have been a really fun doc to make. I mean, you’ve got a veritable who’s who of 60s, 70s and 80s, rock ‘n’ roll stars that have appearances.
We got the Springsteen, you know, Stevie Van Zandt, Alice Cooper, who I’d love to talk to one day, Gene Simmons, George Thorogood. It’s just amazing. Again, that was my choice, because we all heard from Keith, we all heard from Keith and various other people, we refer to why I made these cutaways, as I call them.
If you watch the film again, you will find that, as in baby driver, there was a technique that was used where (claps) it all is to a beat. So that when the actor or the artist was conveyed in the cutaway that there’s music, but they walk, even the police raid, and FBI’s raid that took place at Berry Park was literally in time, synchronised.
Totally in time. And the colour is over the top, like Sin City. Yeah, exactly. And so all of this was fun. Making fun of that scenario. It wasn’t really a fun scenario to make fun of. But I thought it would take away the seriousness of making a story of what everybody expected, which was he went to jail and he did this and he did that and then he got arrested again, everything.
Because Themetta said to me – please don’t make a fool of him. And at why there was some criticism of the beginning from the family. He never danced like that. I said well, that wasn’t meant to be him really. It was the time that that took place. And it was the synchronisation that took place.
Sound wise, it’s a very interesting piece. I don’t know, it’s my piece, but it’s very interesting. And that’s why I wanted to do a bit of tongue in cheek. That’s why when they left one of the places they had robbed. They were dancing and to give it a little bit of, you know, in the cheek laughter.
Because really, it was all very stupid really. It wasn’t big things. It wasn’t, you know, first degree murder. It was like, basically, just like, well a kid would get into trouble for… I thought it was very interesting, cause you know, the film starts off that way. And you’re just like, wait a minute, I thought this was gonna be a doc.
But I agree, it’s very effective. And the way, like you said, it’s not literally him dancing out the door, but it’s these he and essentially, three black youths coming out. But they obviously wouldn’t been dressed that way. Like you said, the over the top colours, the reds, the blues of the cops, you know, in an otherwise sort of black and white scene.
It is very atmospheric too. It kind of throws back to that 1950s. It was meant to be because I wanted to get away from the desperation of the old racist story. And the fact is that the list of things that he did wrong, apparently, but he wouldn’t have normally gone to prison. And it’s a sad old story that basically they tried to knock him down.
And I suppose in a way they get to a certain extent. Affected his writing, I believe. It’s interesting, because you have, as you’ve already said, 50 years of experience in the music industry. You’ve worked with a lot of famous people, I suggest people check out, I don’t know how accurate it is.
But I’m assuming it’s pretty accurate, your Wikipedia page and other places where they can find information about you. How would you put Chuck Berry in the context of other artists you’ve worked with? I mean, not so much even the music… Jimi Hendrix would be one. The Legends of the Canyon, which extraordinary enough has come, I did a documentary called Legends of the Canyon, which is Laurel Canyon.
It’s just released in a series version. Which was very much, I grew up like listening to Crosby, Stills & Nash when I was in California. When I discovered LA, which was actually about three miles by three miles wide, which of course was Beverly Hills and Laurel Canyon, right.
And LA is a very much bigger place, but whenever I used to go there, I didn’t get to get out of that area. Sometimes to the beach. And that to me was LA, but I was talking in my stories. I knew, my stories were very similar out there, because there are no pavements in Laurel Canyon.
And people walking around and people wanted to get to the bottom of Laurel Canyon on sunset and go up to the top. That hitch a long ride. After the Manson murders, nobody would hitch a ride. And somebody had forgotten by that time to put pavements in. Walking on the side of the road, now on the side of the road, as you will know, water runs down, and water runs down the canyon.
And what happened was that people couldn’t walk on pavements, so nobody went out when it rained. And believe me it does rain in Southern California. And basically mudslides on Laurel Canyon to this very day are very common. But taking what they were taking in those days, and literally disappearing into the clouds, didn’t make any difference.
So there are these people like Henry Diltz, who’s a fantastic photographer who knew all of the boys, taking pharmaceutical drugs like LSD and stuff. Basically we’re sitting, you know, in the flowers and bushes in the side of the hill or whatever it was, and seeing all sorts of things.
And they never to this very day build pavements on Laurel Canyon. And I did a film about those guys. I got Crosby, Stills & Nash involved and I got various other people. And people who still would love to still live in Laurel Canyon, but of course now have either made it, made an awful lot of money and decided to leave LA altogether.
Drug problem. But Jimi Hendrix, another one. I knew Jimi Hendrix very well. And well I said very well, as well as I could have done. He was the reason I got into the industry really. And I managed no reading after Jimmy had gone. And, you know, there have been quite a few artists I’ve been involved with.
But, I think that, I don’t want to compare them and say, I like doing this one or not, but I think there was some very exciting documentaries. BB King, of course, was my calling card. Before they called me the God of rock ‘n’ roll doc. And, to tell you the truth, BB king opened my eyes.
Because I never, ever, being English, experienced, even on the road, first time I saw the Ku Klux Klan when I was out in the road, was really quite extraordinary. And I made a film called Monochrome. Actually is now basically so true, as a series. And it just told the story of blues, and how that was mingled in with music, and how blues came about.
And the war going right the way through to all sorts of music, and to, “I can’t breathe” days. And it’s quite extraordinary. After I did that, it was a little self indulgent. But for a white man, an English white man that couldn’t believe the amount of prejudice even now, it’s quite extraordinary.
And we’re forgetting, forgetting the big cities now. Out there in America, it’s quite extraordinary how many problems are still happening. And, of course, now we see it all on the streets again. And we’ll be seeing it for many years to come. It’s something that has never been forgotten and is still happening.
So after that, I started looking at doing more story like documentaries. And that’s what I’m now doing again. Well, thank you. I haven’t had the pleasure of watching the Monochrome. And did that come before BB King or? No, no, it’s after, because BB opened my eyes. He is the one opened your eyes.
That’s right. And BB, I became a very close friend to. Took him two years to trust me. And when he trusted me, I mean, now I hear the stories that… I got a call earlier today from his drummer. And he said, Jon, you know how much BB loved you. And I said, no, I knew there was love there, and I didn’t look for very long.
He asked me to film his funeral. Which I thought was most extraordinary thing any man could ever ask you to do. And there was a lot of prejudice against me. That’s extraordinary. I thought, you know, it was all the other way around. But there was a lot of prejudice. And there comes a white man to tell our hero, our story of our hero.
And after we buried him, that came out. I was terribly upset about it emotionally. But I learned when I went back out there. And if you ever get a chance to see that film, watch that film. It’s quite amazing. Quite amazing. But I never really, I’m now doing, if you want to know about doing a film on Link Wray.
Okay. The photographer, is that the photographer? No, no, he was, 1957 he had a massive hit called Rumble. First man in black. He looked like Marlon Brando on a bike. And he created this sound, which was a confused sound. And it’s played on so many advertisements today, on both sides of the Atlantic, everywhere in the world.
And he was a Native American Indian music, as we refer to. Basically he was, when he died, Bruce Springsteen stopped his set and played Rumble. Amazing. Jimmy Page has gone into and quoted, just done a documentary a few years back, where he plays, with several other guys, the Edge of the U2, air guitar to the Rumble, and Keith Richards.
All of these guys, lot of them saying, I would never, Pete Townsend said he never would have picked up a guitar if it hasn’t been for Link Wray. And yet you go ask anybody who’s not involved in the music business, or basically in a Safeway supermarket or wherever it is, have you ever heard of Link Wray? No.
How come all these successful guitarists, now everything. Bob Dylan, he’s stopped, when he heard he just died, stopped in the middle of a show. And I’m telling this story of who actually he really was. And he was an incredibly successful person, as far as superstar guitarists are concerned with, but nobody really knew who he was.
It’s like they say about some bands that sold maybe 500 records, but everyone who bought those 500 records went on to become mega stars, you know. Sort of. I mean, I know lots of people who basically, in the industry, know who he is, or was because he died. And I know a lot of people also in the industry who don’t know who he is.
It’s extraordinary. Because if people never would have picked up a guitar become who they were. Right? You know, it’s just. If he hadn’t happened, a lot of people we wouldn’t have had. And basically still enjoy. So I’m making a film about Link Wray. And, there’s, I’m also making a film about the sixth stone, the sixth Rolling Stone, who actually was the first Rolling Stone, who formed a band with Brian Jones, that became the Rolling Stones.
And that’s very interesting, because he got fired from the band, really from the manager of the band, because he didn’t look right And he became the reason the Rolling Stones are here today, still performing. He died in 1986. But he was at every concert, because they wouldn’t go on stage without him.
Not to get him to play. Although he played with them. He was one of the best keyboard players that I’ve known. And he played when he wanted to play in the wings, but the show would never happen if he wasn’t there. He was the guy that solved every problem, and kept that band together.
And nobody really knows about him, except the Stones. And what Keith says, which he recently did, hey, when I go on the road, I’m still working for Stu, because that was his name Ian Stewart. He says I’m still working for Stu, it’s his band, that’s how I feel. And I’m telling the story of that.
Because that’s an interesting, ask anybody how many Rolling Stones there are? And all the others? Mick Taylor? Cause I presented him to. But no, how many Rolling Stones are there? The original Rolling Stones, and they will never mention Ian Stewart, who was the guy that put the band together.
And most of those people that you know, we know the Beatles had a different drummer. We know this and that. But how many people knew that the Rolling Stones had somebody that was asked, would you mind if you play off stage because you’ve got a big chin? It’s horrible, but… It’s horrible.
But it’s also the fact is the guy stuck with that band. And managed to keep them together. You know, they had all the noise in the world and everything, but what Stu said, goes. Those are two amazing, you must have just a backlog of ideas that you could bring to the screen of this sort of thing.
Yeah, but we don’t have. I’m afraid I don’t have that much time. So we pick and choose quite carefully right now. Yeah. And also, it takes a hell of a lot out of your time and energy. Because people have created, especially in film, film and music is now coming very much more together.
If you met somebody in the 70s and 80s who was in the film business, they had no idea about the musics business and vice versa. Now it’s coming together. It’s quite an interesting time. And more so than ever. And you, it takes so much, you know, to clear this, to clear that, to keep going and not being able to clear certain stuff.
You know, it takes time. And I’ve got to get my thinking over to my editors and my people. And that takes time too. So, it’s a good year, it takes. Well, and if, do I understand correctly, there’s also a narrative film in the works on Chuck Berry’s life? Is that still ongoing? Is that’s something that.
..? I’m pretty Chuck Berried out, as Ketih Richards said, I’m pretty Chuck Berrin’ out. There’s, you know man, he’s punched me out twice. And he didn’t mean once he swung around or something, a guitar or whatever it is and it came wooow. And there was another time in backstage when Keith put his arm around him, and he didn’t see who it was, and he’d just turn around and punched him out.
And you saw a bit in Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ roll. I mean, yeah, I’m Keith Richards, for God’s sake, Keith Richards and you’re telling me how to play. Oh, you’re so right. That’s right. Okay. It’s a funny situation, but he was very Chuck Berried out, as he would say.
I’m pretty Chuck Berried out. But it would be nice to, I have the rights to do it. But, what we’ve got to do is to find. It’s too early now. It’s too soon. But there’s lots of other things, just talk of BB King. Then I think it’s too soon again. You know, Nat King Cole could do it.
I think you could take a film on Nat King Cole. I have those rights, too. But, you know, there’s so much to do. And so little time. And in those instances, because we had someone who also was involved with the Johnny Cash biopic. Yeah, great. Yeah, exactly. Walk the Line. So he’s done a documentary about Linda Ronstadt.
But is it about finding the right person to play that role? Is that, I know you’ve already mentioned the time and all the demands and what it takes. I remember watching something, I won’t name it. But, there are a lot of artists, there’s Bowie, who I managed, of course, and the fact is I’d be super critical of that.
But at the, you know, all of a sudden, there’s lots of people, and they don’t quite look right. And in this film, Robert Plant didn’t look right. I just went, I don’t like that. And I think you’ve got to find the right actor. And, you know, to play a BB King, there’s only one BB King, I’m afraid.
And he’s either got to sing right or you’re gonna use the original music. If you can afford to use the real. But if it is the original music, and you start going to, he’s got to really be able to act the man. And BB was, you knew BB was in the room and you knew BB talked and you knew BB – “son!” he says “son!”.
I am gonna stop. But yeah, it just I think it is something to do with finding the right character. Jamie Foxx was right to do Ray Charles. And I just think that it came over great. James Brown, I don’t think came over great. And I think that they’d lost a lot of money. And I think people want to relate.
But it wasn’t a particularly good script. Yeah. Yeah. So I think it depends on a lot of things. I would be remiss, if I didn’t ask you, is my understanding you were involved with producing Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street? Yes, I was. So that’s my wife’s favourite, one of her favourite songs.
So when I said I was going to be meeting you, you know, meeting you virtually, she was like, Oh my god. What would she want to know? Well, I wish she was here to ask the question, but, you know, I don’t love it as much as she does. I think it’s amazing song. I’m probably gonna scatter her dreams.
Well, then we’ll cut it and I’ll never share it with her. Let me tell you about Gerry Rafferty, Gerry Rafferty came to me. And I was a great fan of Stealers Wheel. And “Stuck in the Middle With You” was a song written about A&M Records and him and the management. And the management went bust.
And I was, unfortunately, with them, the week in a club in London, with the manager, and I said, this is a great record, you know. We were dancing to it, on the dance floor. And I never thought in a million years, I was going to represent this man. And there was him and Joey Egan. And basically when the company, management company went bust, and no one bailed him out, and they should have done.
And, of course, they were bust, owing money to Jerry, who had no money. Jerry was from a mixed family, religious family out of Glasgow. And you didn’t get told to do something and if you didn’t do it the first time, you certainly got whatever it was coming to you. Because they lived down the docks and were very poor.
I’ve been in my lifetime to Glasgow, when basically, I went in tenements that didn’t have doors. People lived with a curtain across the front door. And there’s no story why I was there, but the fact is, it’s now completely changed. It’s been really beautifully done up.
But you didn’t go to a pub, and hang around after the pubs closed in Glasgow. So you live pretty rough. And he came and had success with Stealers Wheel. And he didn’t get on well with people. And he fell out with Herb Albert and Jerry Moss, who were the A&M. And he hated it, and wouldn’t go on the road.
So they had one of the biggest records of all time, which is “Stuck in the Middle”, and he wouldn’t go on the road and they fell out. And I said, why are you asking me? These things happened, I was introduced to him and this and that. And they wouldn’t introduce me to him until they sussed out for him what he wanted.
And I didn’t get to see him because I probably would never have been involved although I became very rich because of it. He said that he wanted to write songs for his new kid, baby. And that’s all. He doesn’t want to be exploited. He doesn’t want record companies to exploit him.
And I must have misheard this because it’s totally absolutely ridiculous. Then how is he gonna have a payback what it costs to record. Because he was standing there without diapers or nappies for his kid. And I signed him and gave him money. And then I produced, I was executive producer there, I didn’t physically produce it.
And I made Baker Street and City to City, the album City to City. Amazing. Now, City to City was going to be the first single and was the main track on the album. And I heard Baker Street. And it was nowhere, it was not with the sax. And it was with a guitar riff and the lead guitar riff, and there was a demo.
And I said, City to City is definitely the hit. And before I used to make albums, I wanted three hits of the album. It could be demos, but that’s how was rule of thumb. And I said now, what’s the second one? Mattie’s rag, which Mattie was his daughter, of course. And the other one was this song called Baker Street.
The guitarist who was supposed, so it goes, the guitarist who was supposed to play where we are, we’re down in the Cotswolds. So basically, between Oxford and Cotswold. And we had to find him a recording studio that was in the country, that was fashion in those days, where you could stay over, and the guitarist who was a session guitarist, was late for his session.
And so, Ralph Ravenscroft, who is in fact sax player said, I can give you a lead, I’ll give you a lead on to it, and he wrote the riff. Well, Jerry denied that, although through his life, and it caused me a lot of aggravation. Which is another story. But what happened was that he put this session so good that everybody went, that’s it.
But he puts it into city as the first single and it died. It was a hit in Holland. And then what happened was, they heard Baker Street, of course, and Baker Street put out, and of course it became number one in America, number one in the UK and everywhere. And, to this day, every year, it’s number one a song featuring saxophone.
They have charts for different instruments. Interesting. And it’s been number one since it came out. All these years. Amazing. I have to tell you that, it was a wonder, when I hear that record to this day, I think I’m gonna have a very good day or week something special’s gonna happen.
But the stories around that, everyone hated Gerry Rafferty in the industry. Other than the guitarists or musicians. I shouldn’t say everyone. But every record executive couldn’t stand him. And the story goes, this is a story that you can tell at your wife, cause I was getting very upset because I introduced Jerry to Chris Blackwell, to various people who are head away, head of record companies.
And they all came to the conclusion that they thought the record was a hit, but didn’t want to put it out because of Jerry. I would say are you interested, sort of a deal, setup Jerry to come in, see them on their own. And I got the call afterwards, we think the records are hit.
But he is totally not coming on this record, label or not coming in this record company. And I’ve asked why? Why wouldn’t you want a hit on your record label? Can’t cope with him. And of course, he’d go along to these interviews or talk, chat. First of all, he would never sit in an office, he had to meet in the pub.
So you had to get the record company executive out of their office into a pub. Secondly, halfway through, and I eventually didn’t go, because it was so embarrassing. Halfway through, he says, I don’t want your record company exploiting and sending records. And of course, they’re like says, What do you mean, what are you here for? What can we do then? And he said, no, I’m just writing for my kid.
And that’s it. And I had to patch that up. So I go on and I wonder why A&M records let him go too? They would made millions from him. Because they just took a point of what I got. I did negotiate on Christmas Eve, I never forget, they wanted to get home. And I wanted to get home.
But we eventually got him off the label. And then what happened to us, I went to Los Angeles, and there was very famous guy, he’s dead now, but he’s a lovely guy, was a lovely guy. I’m sure he still is. But he said, Jon, I can only meet you at 830 in the morning. I said why? I’ll tell you, explain to you when I see you.
So off we went at 830 in the morning thinking I gotta playing the album. I’ll just play him one or two tracks. So I came in. In those days, we used to take seven the half inch tape, the stuff that plays on that archive. And we would go in and put it on their tape recorders. And as I told you, most of them didn’t know how to use their tape recorders.
But this guy, he said to me, Jon, is this Gerry Rafferty from the Rumbles, not the Rumbels, Stealers Wheel? I said yes. He said, I’ll give you 75,000 now. And that was the actual figure. If I don’t, I don’t listen to him, or I’ll give you 50,000 if I have to listen to it.
Well, I have a lawyer with me, who’s kicking me under the table, take the 75,000. I’m saying I can’t go back to my artist and say the man that’s going to put it out on his record label gave me an offer of 75,000 if he didn’t have to listen to the music. I can’t do that.
So I said, I said 75,000. I said can you tell me something, the next day when I went in because they had to draw up the agreements, why couldn’t you listen to it? And why did you give me more money if you didn’t have to listen to it? He said, well, I’ve just bought this company.
And my partner is having a house built in Beverly Hills. And I’m having a house built in Beverly Hills. And my builder is the same man as his builder. But I have to get there by 930, otherwise, my house will be built second. So I knew that I had a problem and 25 grand, believe me, when they’re building houses in Beverly Hills is nothing.
And that is the true story of how he landed up on United Artists. And that record came out. And he was one of the most despicable people that I’ve ever had to manage. And one of the most difficult people in the world. Talking about Chuck Berry. This guy, unfortunately, had a terrible demon of becoming a terrible alcoholic.
And eventually, I said to his lawyer, he said, will you sell? And I said, yes. A lot for the figure you’re talking about. And then Capitol Records, EMI wanted to buy me out and I turned that down. And then the only reason that I got out was it was quite a good deal. And that’s how I left the Gerry Rafferty camp.
But there’s one thing I haven’t told you, which you can tell her. He had a glass eye. And he used to walk up and down that famous street in Glasgow with Billy Connolly. And, you know, they’ve got these little old ladies that used to go up and down with their little baskets.
And when it rains, it always rains in Scotland up there, in Glasgow, and he bumped into one of these women’s umbrellas because they were made giant and quite tall. And as he went down on, he fall on the pavement, and the eye would roll out onto the pavement. And the dear old girl that basically run into her little umbrella, basically screamed, and they used to have a little sort of game of how many of them would pass out, while he was walking up and down this street.
And basically when Billy Connolly came up to me, he said to me, Jon, whatever happened to Gerry Rafferty? And I said, well, I don’t know, but… and he told me this story of what they used to do. And I said to him, when you looked at his eyes, he looked foresight. So David Frost was in New York during the show, at night.
And he’d fly in for the day, you could do that on Concorde. He was one of the biggest travellers on Concorde. And I said if he goes on that show, which is something he wanted to do, and agreed to do, but would not go on tour, he will lose the whole of his audience, because he didn’t look any good.
It’s only for three minutes. I said, if you go on that TV with David Frost, it’ll be over in three minutes. So he went on, and it was over in three minutes. He never ever repeated that success of City to City. And it really sort of, but I told the truth. I told the fact. And I said, your image is completely wrong.
Your whole thing is totally wrong. You went on David Frost and said, I’m never coming on tour in America. That was it. All over. Because American audiences, worship their stars, their people. And if you doing all of that by going on tour, you might as well basically packed your bag and left on the last train.
And that’s a true story. So I hope, and I’m very grateful to your wife, being a great fan. But unfortunately, Jerry has now left us. Yes. I don’t know what’s happened to Joey Egan. Must briefly look at that. He’s probably, he really wrote a lot of the stock songs with Gerry for Stealers Wheel, but he’s never done anything on his own.
Okay. Well, I mean, I could ask you so many questions about so many different people that you’ve worked with. I think we’re going to give you, let you go. Because we’ve already had so much of your time. Jon, write a book, they say. Yeah, you should write the book. I saw some reference to you working with Gene Clark.
My God, Gene was so close to me. You know, I had a whole night and I want to tell you what happened. But Gene was another one, Laurel Canyon. Basically, Laurel Canyon. I was after a girl. I was invited to dinner. I thought, that’s interesting. So I came up. And the girl introduced me to a roommate, lived in Laurel Canyon.
It was painful getting to the house, because the stairs went round and round around, a wooden cabin. And I sat down with this guy all night. And he knew I looked up to hour with Lee, the guitarist, and he said to me one night, I said, Oh, my God it’s so nice to basically relax.
without pressure of being on the road and everything else. At the end of the day, and end of the night, probably very much in the morning. I had no idea who he was. And he asked me to manage him, about 930. I’ve been there all night. And it went gone so well and I said, What’s your name? And he said Gene Clark.
And I ended up managing him. And it was just a remarkable night. And, unfortunately, there again, another problem came about, nothing to do with me. Unfortunately, he got problems with heroin. He was just coming back and he had a fatal heart attack. But what a man he was, what a writer? Indeed.
Nothing like, you know, I met all the birds and I met all of it. I mean, he really, really could sit down and write a song. And it’s prolific. And that big 12 string just came through. Anyway, don’t ask me any more questions. I’m going home now. Okay, go home. Whatever you want.
Source Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoVIpGnXK_A