Tuesday, November 30, 2010


He is not a superstar in the world of rock and roll but he is truly one of it's unsung heroes. Elliot Murphy has carved a nice place for himself not only in music but in the literary world as well. The multi talented and articulate Long Island native continues writing and recording songs 37 years after his first record"Aquashow" in 1973. His current tour is bringing him back to his homeland. I had a great conversation with Elliott from his home in France the other day...

MICK: Congratulations on your new CD. I see that your son Gaspard is the producer!
ELLIOTT: Yes he is! It's actually coming out in January here and in Europe.

MICK: Is your son still in college here in New York?
ELLIOTT: Yes he goes to Purchase College up in Westchester.

MICK: What memories do you have about growing up here on Long Island?
ELLIOTT: Oh there's many! I suppose it was very different when I was growing up in the 50's and 60's. We went to Jones Beach in the summer and Eisenhower Park. I won the New York State Battle of the Bands there in 1966. It was a pretty typical American, suburban upbringing. Spent a lot of time in the car listening to the radio. One big difference was that there was so much great music on the radio back then. I can still remember the DJ's Murray the K, Cousin Brucie in the 50's and early 60's. Later on, it was WLIR with Dennis McNamara..did quite a few shows for them myself! It was mostly good memories for sure. It was so close to the city too. The city was this huge spotlight that I wanted to get close to. Garden City, where I grew up, was only 40 minutes away! Once I got old enough, I spent a lot of time in Greenwich Village.

MICK: Does any of your family still live here?
ELLIOTT: Yes, most of my family is there. My mother lives in the city. She's 85 years old. My brother Matthew also lives in the city. He's also a tour manager, most lately with Steve Martin and his bluegrass music tour. My sister, who is an artist, lives out in Amagansett.

MICK: How long have you lived in France and why did you move there?
ELLIOTT: I moved to France twenty years ago in 1989. I moved there for a couple reasons. I first came here in 1971 before I ever recorded. That trip to Europe changed my life. I went to Amsterdam, Belgium, Brussels, Paris and then down to Rome where I did a bit part in Federico Felinni's movie 'Roma". I was singing on the streets all over and it kind of released whatever creative juices that were inside me. Somewhere deep in my heart I always wanted to come back. Then, the mind followed the heart. My career always did better in Europe than in the States although in the early 70's I did get quite a bit of airplay. I came over here doing shows in the late 70's and was amazed at the response from the public and the critics. In the late 80's, I was almost exclusively touring in Europe. Finally in 1989, I made the move here.

MICK: You've been called a road warrior because you do over 100 shows a year. Is touring still a thrill for you?
ELLIOTT: Touring is still a thrill! I don't do as many as 100 anymore. That was about five years ago. When you do 100 shows a year, that almost like 200 days on the road, either coming home from a show or going to a show. We still do around 70-75 shows a year now. It is still thrilling for me. I tour mainly in Spain, Italy, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Scandinavia. Those countries are still exotic to me even though I've been here so long. If I was still going to Cleveland instead of going to Barcelona, I don't know if the thrill would be the same! I'm sure the audience would be just as great as my audiences everywhere are wonderful. The traveling is so much part of the formula.. 8 hours for two hours on the stage. That little element, still in Europe and still exotic, keeps it interesting for me.

MICK: Up to this point, what would you say is your most memorable moment?
ELLIOTT: Wow, there's been so many. I would have to say, it was about four years ago, Bruce Springstein was playing at the Parc de Princes in Paris, France (a big outdoor arena with about 60000 people). He had invited me onstage to sing with him a number of times as we've been friends since we both put out our first albums at the same time. We were reviewed together in Rolling Stone Magazine and been friends since then. I was backstage with Bruce and he said "Why don't you come up tonight to sing something with me!". 'How bout doing "Born To Run"". I said that's a tough one as that song is like a symphony. My son Gaspard was sitting right next to me and he said "Dad, I know all of the chords to that song and I'll teach it to you". Bruce said "You know that song? Ok, then you're coming up onstage too!" So there we were, both of us, on stage singing "Born To Run" in front of 60000 people at the encore of Bruce's show which is like all hell has broken loose. That was pretty memorable!

MICK: Why do you feel that your music has encountered commercial resistance here in the United States?
ELLIOTT: There are so many elements in the answer to that question. It's hard to focus on just one. Early in my career, I didn't have good luck in finding the right management. I jumped from record company to record company, manager to manager. I couldn't get in a situation that gave me a chance to build some sense of consistency. So that was just kind of bad luck. I think I didn't put as much emphasis on playing live as I do now. Over the last 10-15 years, I've enjoyed playing live more than ever. I was probably impatient thinking my career should have been moving faster than it was where in retrospect, when I look back, it was doing just fine. All of those early albums made it to the low numbers of the charts somewhere and I should have been happy with that and been out there playing more. If I could do it over, I would concentrate more on playing live and really bring the music to my fans instead of depending on the record companies and radio play to do it.

MICK: I love your quote " Literature is my religion but rock and roll is my addiction". Who are your favorite authors?
ELLIOTT: I'd have to say F. Scott Fitzgerald's 'The Great Gatsby" has always had a special place in my heart and takes place on Long Island. I used to ride around those North Shore areas and see those huge mansions. I also loved Jack Kerouac with his vision of America and how he described it. Just beautiful. John Steinbeck for his social conscience. Also authors as diverse as Graham Greene, the English writer. Elmore Leonard is one of my favorite writers.

MICK: Are we going to see any new literature from yourself in 2011?
ELLIOTT: I've been working on a book for a while. I had a novel come out a few years ago in France called "Poetic Justice", a western. It hasn't been published in English yet. I'd like to make that happen. I'm always writing. The reason I said 'Literature is my religion but music is my addiction" is that I need that kind of solitude and quietness and the way writing kind of centers me and then I still love the excitement and thrill of rock and roll. I really do need the both!

MICK: You've been writing and recording for over thirty years. Is there anything you still want to accomplish?
ELLIOTT: Oh there's so much! Just by nature, any artist is unsatisfied. Every album, when I listen back to it, I think I should have done this or done that and next time I'll do it better. A few things I wanted to accomplish I've already done. I wanted to do a double album and I did that with "Strings of the Storm". I wanted to do a blues album and I did that with " Murphy Gets Muddy". I would like to do an album of covers, songs that were real essential to me when I first started playing guitar at 12 or 13 years old. That's kind of next on my list.

MICK: I know Jann Klose has opened for you on some shows. Will he be joining you for any of your local shows here?
ELLIOTT: Not on this tour. Jann is on his own tour right now. With Jann, we were playing in wider markets like Washington, Philadelphia, Boston. These six dates are all centered around New York. With my shows, since it's so rare for me to come to America, I like to do long shows..a good two hours. Sometimes when you have an opening act as great as Jann is, it cuts away the time a bit. I've had some people come to my shows and say they've been waiting 35 years to see me live! So I figure I have to give them more than a sixty minute show! I love to play long shows. We just get going after the first hour!

MICK: When writing a song, whats comes first..the music or the words?
ELLIOTT: In the beginning they came together and that was miraculous. My brain and my body were so in tune with each other because the music is more of the physical part and the words are the mental part. More often than not, I'm writing words and then the music comes after. Very often times the first verse is like a chorus or a phrase with the music. Once I get that, it's one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration to finish the song.

MICK: When are you most creative, morning or night?
ELLIOTT: With music, it's the night. With writing, it's the morning! Opposite ends of the spectrum!

MICK: What are your New Year's Resolutions for 2011?
ELLIOTT: Try to be nicer to my band! Sometimes after a long day of traveling you can find yourself pretty hard to deal with. I have a great band. These guys are all from Normandy in France. Olivier Durand , who is my incredible guitarist, has been with me for 16 years. He is a treat to travel with too. He does to the acoustic guitar that Jimi Hendrix did to the electric guitar. He is really phenomenal! Other resolutions are what I ask for every year..to stay in the moment, appreciate what I've done and what I've given, and try to move forward the best I can!

Elliott continues to move forward in our direction with these upcoming shows....

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Thanksgiving Story

Everybody loves a parade and I am no exception to that proverbial rule. Since childhood, the pageantry of the passing floats, marching bands and the whole extravaganza captured my imagination. And there was no greater parade than the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. As a child, I always made sure to wake up very early so I didn't miss one minute of grandest parade of them all. Even on TV, those giant balloons were breathtaking. It's always been a tradition for me even after all these years!
Last year. I decided to finally take the trip into New York City and see the legendary parade in person. My son Mikey, who was 20 at the time, was anxious to go with me. So on Thanksgiving morning, around 4:30am, we made our way to the railroad station and caught a packed train to the Big Apple. Once we arrived, the sun had just risen and there was magic in the air. The temperature was a balmy 55 degrees. Everybody hustling and bustling towards the parade route. We walked a few blocks up Sixth Avenue until we found a less crowded corner. That would be an ideal place to see the parade!
Soon, the sidewalks began to fill with a multitude of anticipating parade watchers of all ages. Old and young, families and couples from all over. The excitement was beginning to build. Happy people and smiles were all around!
We had our space right in front of the crowd and anxiously awaited big event. Next to us was a young couple. He was from Bellmore, Long Island and she was visiting from Texas. Really nice people. They said they were waiting for the friend to join them shortly. As they scanned the crowd, they saw their friend across the avenue. Crossing the street, the friend arrived with her young son. She was a pretty blond woman and her son appeared to be around 4 years old and looked exactly like Ralphie from the classic Christmas movie "A Christmas Story". Blond haired also with big black glasses. We soon found out that this little boy's name was Tommy.
The parade began and it was indeed fabulous! Clowns and marching bands went past us just a few feet away! Tommy was awe struck as gigantic balloons passed by and towered over him. A contingent of police officers were in the street watching the crowd and making sure everything went well. The main police officer was a middle aged, burly Irishman, Officer Kelly, who noticed little Tommy watching the parade. "What is your name little boy?" asked the jolly policeman. "Tommy" replied the young mom "and today is his birthday too!" The policeman thought that was just great and loudly announced to the crowd "Listen everybody! Today is Tommy's birthday! Everybody sing happy birthday to Tommy!". With that, the people in that whole section of the crowd began to sing! They yelled and cheered for Tommy as the parade passed by. He was obviously embarrassed but definitely happy. Then Officer Kelly took Tommy by the hand and brought him several feet into the street to stand next to him. Now he was practically part of the parade! As the bands and the various clowns went by, they would come close to Tommy to slap him five or sprinkle him with confetti. Tommy was elated. You could tell he was having the time of his life. When the huge balloons of Sponge Bob and Shrek passed by, Tommy just looked straight up and couldn't believe he was this close to his cartoon friends. I'm sure he thought this must be a dream!
As the parade was nearing to an end, we said goodbye to our new friends and wished them a Happy Thanksgiving. Tommy and his mom soon disappeared into the crowd as we walked back to the train station. It was truly a great day so far for me and my son and turkey dinner was only a few hours away. I'm sure little Tommy told everybody at home about his amazing day. He probably still had some confetti in his blond hair. It just may have been the best time in his brief life so far! But Tommy may only find out how special his day really was is when he goes to his next parade. Happy Thanksgiving Tommy wherever you are.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Chat with Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

For decades, he has been the minstrel of rock and roll while leading his band Jethro Tull with his masterful flute playing, articulate song writing and powerful vocals. Ian Anderson is still going strong after 4o years with Jethro Tull, still touring and thrilling audiences of all ages. Today, Ian is in the midst of a solo tour that comes to Westbury on Wednesday, November 24th. Recently, I had a nice conversation with Ian while on a break between gigs...

: How is the tour going?
IAN: We are more than half through a year's worth of touring at the moment having just started the second leg. Playing some nice little theaters including some places we haven't played before. A mixture of some familiar sights and few new experiences.

MICK: I've heard that you wrote some new songs for this tour. Is this something you normally do when you go on tour?
IAN: I think it's pretty common going back to the very beginning of Jethro Tull to do some new material on stage. Of course not every concert and every tour. Quite frequently we try out some new material on stage live before we record it in the studio which is a useful and challenging experience, certainly for the musicians. Particularly at a Jethro Tull show there are expectations of a certain kind of music. It's always risky for the artist but to me it's important as it takes me back to the beginnings of performing live in front of an audience. Think about it in the context of when we first time we came to play in America and pretty much everything we played was unfamiliar to the audience. It puts us back in that less comfortable zone where we actually have to win people over.

MICK: How is this solo tour different from a Jethro Tull tour?
IAN: All of my solo tours, whether it be acoustic shows, orchestral shows, string quartet shows, Christmas shows, are different in one crucial way which is they give me the opportunity to go a little deeper into the Jethro Tull catalog to explore some less known pieces of music. I also do some of the better known pieces of music with perhaps different arrangements and a different slant on the music. Seventy percent of it is Jethro Tull repertoire and the balance is made up of some solo album tracks, three or four new songs, a couple of classic pieces of music. A mixture with most of the emphasis on the Jethro Tull catalog. Some of it more obscure, songs you wouldn't hear on classic rock radio every day.

MICK: You still enjoy touring?
IAN: It's what I set out to do when I left school. It's my job and my passion so I do enjoy it.

MICK: Is Westbury the last stop on this tour?
IAN: Yes it is

MICK: Will there be any new Jethro Tull albums in the near future?
IAN: Nothing has been scheduled, no.

MICK: How many flutes do you own?
IAN: I guess around ten. There's probably four or five flutes I won that I wouldn't take out of the house being that they are more valuable and hand made. I would not risk taking them on tour because of the great likelihood of damage, theft, loss and there's a certain degree of stress from temperature. The ones I take on tour are essentially ones that I can probably replace in any major city. I'm not going to take a hand made, gold flute on tour! Nor would i send one into space! I have a flute currently waiting on the international space station for a flute player astronaut to play when she gets there next month. That is not an expensive flute because I might not see it again. I'm told it will come back to me! NASA doesn't like to lose astronauts and flutes!

MICK: You have a very unique style of playing the flute while standing on one leg. When did you start playing that way?
IAN: In late February, 1968. I used to play harmonica while standing on one leg so when I began playing the flute in the early months of 1968, I played it standing on one leg also. It was something that media noticed about Jethro Tull in the early days. It got talked up a bit more than perhaps it deserves. It's sort of a trademark that stuck from the early days.

MICK: In 1989, Jethro Tull won the Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance. What are your thoughts on that? They say it was one of the biggest upsets in Grammy history.
IAN: It was a peer group award from 6000 voting members of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. They have different categories and that particular year, there was a new category for Best Hard Rock/ Metal Act. For some reason, our record company put us in. We were nominated among other bands in that category and that in itself was strange and unlikely. When it came to people casting their votes, the 6000 voting members probably thought Jethro Tull has been around a long time and they haven't won a Grammy so lets give them a pat on the head! Metallica was the favorite to win and when we won, it created a little fiery amongst the audience and the pundits at the time. It wasn't something to get carried away about. Nice to have but it doesn't impact upon me hugely the fact that I have a Grammy or don't have a Grammy. Or even if Jethro Tull is or isn't in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or any of things kind of measuring sticks of palpable success. It's nice to have that kind of symbol of success but it's doesn't rate anywhere remotely rewarding as standing in front of an audience and feeling their pleasurable response. That's the thing that most musicians would put at the top of their list of accolades.

MICK: What are some of your favorite venues?
IAN: A number of them that are particularly ancient places that I've played. Amphitheaters around the world that are maybe a few thousand years old. Those are quite memorable places. Of course, when you're outdoors in these amphitheaters, they tend to have easy acoustics to work with. They are ancient and relevant of history and culture, an easier thing to get excited about than playing in some concrete sports hall. That's my least favorite..playing in some multi purpose concrete buildings not designed for music.

MICK: Who do you enjoy listening to?
IAN: Mainly folk music from different parts of the world. I've always been an acoustic musician and listened to acoustic music. It's always been my main interest whether it was jazz or blues, western folk music or classical music. I've always found acoustic music rewarding and exciting to play as a musician. Having long been associated with a band that's considered at least on the periphery of rock music with electric instruments, it's not my natural preference. On this tour, it's half and half between electric music and acoustic music.

MICK: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time other than music?
IAN: I don't have a lot of spare time but when I do, it's just very simple domestic pleasures. I like to take my cats for a walk.

MICK: Do you have a favorite Jethro Tull song?
IAN: It tends to vary from time to time. Perhaps the songs "Budapest", "Songs From the Wood", "Aqualung", "Locomotive Breath" are four that generally sit on top of my list.

MICK: Which of today's artists do you like?
IAN: Anyone whose name I can remember which reduces it to approximately zero. I've never been a listener of contemporary pop and rock music. It's not something I've ever done much of. You could probably play me something and I wouldn't know if it was from yesterday or five years ago. I can only comment on things that are more folk oriented. Among today's relatively new folk artists I like Seth Lakeman, the English guitar player/ violinist /singer/ song writer. I've played with him a couple of times.

MICK: Do you have any fond memories of performing here on Long Island?
IAN: I have lots of memories. I wouldn't say they were all particularly fond because many of them did have to do with playing in arenas or places not so conducive to easy music. We've also played in a few theaters like Westbury from time to time. Those are the more memorable and enjoyable ones. I'm a theater guy and I like something that has a theatrical feel with dressing rooms backstage. It has the conventional layout of the concert hall or the theater. It's always been my preference. When I first started playing in theaters in 1969, I finally felt that I had arrived in a place that felt like home. I didn't like playing in clubs with the noise, the smell of beer, sweat, not something that i enjoy at all.

: You are a survivor of Deep Vein Thrombosis. What exactly is that?
IAN: It's a blood clot usually caused by inactivity following physical accidents. It's something that can strike people like athletes, skiers, football players, folks that have lower limb injuries. Especially for those who travel for a period of time because a blood clot can form in a vein in the leg and build up to a dangerous level. It can break loose and travel to the heart or brain and it can kill you. I tore my ACL anterior cruciate ligament in 1996 in South America when I was on tour. I was flying every day following that physical injury and somewhere along the line I got the blood clot. It wasn't diagnosed until I got to Australia some weeks later. It got a little tense for a week or two.

MICK: Do you still own salmon farms?
IAN: No I don't. That was about ten years ago I gradually got out of the farming and processing business at a time when it reached a level, to me personally, rather beyond the cottage industry that it began as. I felt that I had to make a decision between staying with a major commitment in time, energy and finances to something that would reduce my stoke to play music when I get older. So i made a decision to sell, lease, merge my companies with some regret but it was actually a lucky break. In the last three years, the economy has suffered greatly and one of the major companies that I sold to actually closed it's doors last summer. I was very sad to see it fold. I was very lucky to get out of it when I did.

MICK: What are your long range plans?
IAN: Well they're not fishing or golf! I'm probably the "die with my boots on" kind of guy. I'd like to continue to be a formidable musician but not at the scale or intensity that I do at the moment. I think it would be nice to carry on doing stuff as long as possible two or three days a week rather than six.

MICK: Will there be a Jethro Tull tour anytime soon?
IAN: Not this year because we finished doing Jethro Tull in September. We were on the road from end of February until September and now I'm doing solo tours the rest of the year. Next year, Jethro Tull will be touring Russia, Australia and the USA in June on the West Coast and through Canada since we were on the East Coast in June of this year.

Ian Anderson will be performing at the Theatre at Westbury, 960 Brush Hollow Road, in Westbury, on November 24, at 8 PM. Tickets are $62.45. Call TicketMaster for more info and visit http://www.livenation.com.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Introducing JANN KLOSE!

Jann Klose is a world class musician that you will be hearing a lot about in the very near future. An accomplished singer/songwriter, his latest release "Reverie" is gaining lots of attention worldwide and it is critically acclaimed. The German born troubadour now makes his home here in New York and that is where I spoke to the up and coming star...

: On your new CD, how did you come up with the album title "Reverie"?
JANN: While thinking about titles, the thoughts of a beautiful dream and how that kind of sums things up. I didn't like the idea of having a song title being the album title so I was looking for something that would loop it together better. So the idea of dreaming is something I had thought about a lot. That state of being in between sleep and being awake. That's how the record felt to me.

MICK: How long did it take you to record the album?
JANN: Overall, it took around 3 months. It was 8 or 9 studio sessions.

MICK: Your songs are very full with horns and strings among other instruments. Did you do all of the arranging?
JANN: I did most of the arranging. On the string section in "Beautiful Dream" I did together with my violinist Leah Potteiger. The cello part in "Question of the Heart" was arranged by Chris Marolf. Those are the two that the band members worked on directly. Everything else I arranged.

MICK: You've worked with some amazing people including Roger McGuinn, Roseann Cash and Les Paul among others. How did you meet the great Les Paul?
JANN: I met Les through radio host Joey Reynolds. I met Joey when I did his show and we became friends. One Monday evening, he said "Let's go down to the Iridium", where Les Paul played every Monday evening, "and I'll introduce you to him". So Joey goes up on stage and does some comedy and said he brought a friend from Germany with him, then called me up on stage! I joined Les and we played "Summertime" and it was extraordinary! He has an amazing band, probably one of the best I've heard. They still do that gig on Monday nights at he Iridium with a guest star each week.

MICK: Tell me about the "People's Record Project". How is the funding for the new record going?
JANN: It actually just started. We have the website up, we've got the domain name and will be sending out letters within the next few weeks. We first did this with my current CD "Reverie". I was able to partially fund it and I sent out letters to a few people and mentioned it in emails. This time, we wanted to expand it to our entire fan base and on Facebook.

MICK: You make your home here in New York now. How long have you been here?
JANN: Almost ten years!

MICK: I've also read that you've lived on three different continents. Where is your favorite place to live?
JANN: I love New York City. New York is the best! I love having a home here. There's great things about all three including Europe and Africa. I still have to go back to Africa where I spent my childhood. Ironically, my little sister is in Capetown right now in South Africa. My father is in Kenya. They don't live there but they go there. My half sister lives and works in Capetown.
My other sister is visiting her. My dad goes there to just hang out as he is retired. I'm kind of jealous!! But one day I will go back to Africa when the possibility arises.

: On Saturday, December 4th, you will be appearing at KJ Farrrell's in Bellmore, Long Ilsand. Have you appeared on Long Island before?
JANN: I've played Stephen's Talkhouse a few times in Amagansett. I've also played KJ Farrell's a couple of times. It wasn't a full blown gig like this one when I'm playing with some friends of mine. There's a group out there called "Wonderous Stories" and they are good friends of mine. They heard me open for "Renaissance" a year ago on their 40th anniversary tour. Kenny Forgione, who is the leader of Wonderous Stories, invited me to sing with them and a bunch of their friends at BB King's in NYC for a Bangladesh tribute show that they've done for three years in a row now. We've stayed in touch and I often sit in with them. Great guys and I love what they play, classic rock albums that I'm in love with.

MICK: Who were your influences when you were growing up?
JANN: It started with African music, In Southern Africa, my parents were really into safaris, traveling and African culture. They took all of us kids with them everywhere so we saw a lot of African performances, dancing, singing including the musical "Corporate Warrior" which I fell in love with as a kid. I also listened to a lot of American music because American music was very popular in South Africa though we were a little bit behind there. We would still get some of the syndicated programs like American top 40 shows. I would basically listen to the radio too and start taping any songs that I liked. Everything from Iggy Pop to the Beatles, Abba to Crosby Stills and Nash. It was mainly melodies that I would go for.

MICK: Who do you enjoy listening to now?
JANN: I've been listening to Pete Seeger lately. I interviewed him in January for a documentary I'm working on. I've been listening to the Shins a lot, the new Robert Plant and the new Tom Jones records. Those are really good. There are some Arabic singers I'm into now. There's a new compilation CD put out on Peter Gabriel's label "Real World" that has some real cool stuff on it.

MICK: Is there anybody you would like to collaborate with?
JANN: It would be great to do a song with David Crosby. I've already met his former colleague Roger McGuinn. Paul McCartney would another great talent to do something with.

MICK: What do you do in your spare time?
JANN: There's no a whole lot of spare time right now being out on the road again. Honestly, I really enjoy not doing anything. The last few years were so crazy. We did around 100 shows each year. I was carrying on a long distance relationship and I was traveling four hours to that. I was practically living in my car. This year, I did a music video and I moved and bought a co-op. So all of that took up a lot of time and when I didn't have to do anything, I enjoyed not doing anything!

MICK: What are your plans for 2011?
JANN: A new record, a single and a video. Then I want to do another album which I'm excited about. We haven't recorded anything for it yet but the songs are pretty much done. With "Reverie", the pickup has been gradual. The music business functions very differently now from how it used to. You can get a lot more life out of a record and you have to work it a lot harder. It's hard to put a record out every year if you have a small team of people like myself. We just found out that I have a song playing on MTV's "Cribs" show. I never found out until I got my royalty statement! It was a lovely surprise!

Jann will be appearing this coming Saturday, Dec. 4th here on Long Ilsand
ROCKCANROLL, THE NON-PROFIT HUNGER AND RELIEF ORGANIZATION, ON HAND FOR DEBUT OF K.J. FARRELLS' SINGER SONGWRITER NIGHT, DECEMBER 4 (Singer-songwriters Danny Langdon, Gretchen Witt, Jann Klose, and Kristin Diable will sing for your neighbor's supper)
(Bellmore, NY) RockCANroll will be listening to some thoughtful music, and collecting healthy and nutritious non-perishable food items at K.J. FARRELLS' first singer-songwriter night on Saturday, December 4, starting at 7 PM. K.J. FARRELLS is located at 242 Pettit Ave., in Bellmore, NY. The phone number is 516-804-9925 and the venue's web site ishttp://www.kjfarrells.com. Some of the best singer-songwriters around will be performing: Danny Langdon, Gretchen Witt, Jann Klose, and Kristin Diable. Tickets are $10. Tickets can be bought online at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/136841 or at the door.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Many years ago, when I was a kid, I had a keen interest in old movies and the classic actors and actresses from the bygone era. When I came across this fascinating book 'Whatever Became Of...", I was thrilled to see many of the old time greats that were still living profiled in the book. The author, Richard Lamparski, tracked down these lost celebrities and told us what happened to them. His autographed photos in the book got me writing to the stars and building my own collection that I still have to this day. My first autograph, thanks to Richard's book, was actor Buster Crabbe, Flash Gordon in the movies!
Well, I tracked down Richard Lamparski and we had a really nice chat recently...

MICK: When and where were you born?
RICHARD: I was born in Detroit 78 years ago last month. I was there until I was 19. When I got out of school, I worked for a year and a half at Saks Fifth Avenue in the men's department. I saved my money, quit my job and took a night flight (for $99) to Hollywood. I never went back! I got a job delivering teletypes at CBS Columbia Square. That's not Television City, it was the radio network at Tower and Sunset Blvd. From there, I became a press agent for The Ice Capades. After that, I went to channel 5 television in Los Angeles which was owned by Paramount Pictures. I was there for 2-3 years. Then briefly I was an associate producer for NBC working on a series of pilots. That lasted for about six months. I moved to New York on my birthday in 1960 and attempted to get "Whatever Became Of.." together as a project. I had a terrible time with that. Eventually I got an agreement with radio station WBAI to broadcast the show and from that I got a book contract.

MICK: What year did the radio show go on?
RICHARD: March of 1965. It lasted for over 8 years.

MICK: How did you choose the celebrities that you profiled?
RICHARD: In the beginning, it was anybody I could think of that was available in New York. I had no budget for traveling. Over the years, I had made a list of people I wanted to contact. I had the idea from back in the 1950's. In those days, there was no interest in old movies. In the 1960's, kids started having festivals of black and white films, films from the 30's and 40's. If I saw a celebrity on the street, I'd write down there name and see if they were in the telephone directory. Often, people who knew me also knew I was interested in this. They would say "I saw this person at the A&P or I met this person at the library. Do you know what they are doing now?" I made notes of this. So when I went to the program director at the radio station, they wanted to know who I would have on. I gave him a list of about 20 people. 'These people have agreed to see you?" "Yes" I replied because they tentatively had. So I was told to proceed. The publicity director took my list and sent out a press release. The only call they got was from The New York Times and wanted to know if this was a joke. After hearing that I'd been in touch with Jack Pearl, Dagmar Godowsky, Larry "Buster" Crabbe and so forth, they asked me to do a feature about what I'm doing. I did and it ran in the Sunday New York Times. Several publishers contacted me and eventually got one to take it as a book. It wasn't easy. Many of the publishers wanted to know what kind of idea was this! They didn't get it but I thought it was a very simple idea. One publisher said if we forgot about these people, why do we care about what happened to them! I laughed. I eventually signed a contract that was nothing big. The was no enthusiasm from the publisher or the editor in chief.
When it came out, book stores started ordering it much to my editor's surprise. Radio shows and TV shows were slightly interested. Then the Today Show called. From that moment on, I had a very different reception from my publisher. My first interview was with Barbara Walters and Hugh Downs. It just took off from there.

MICK: Who was the first celebrity you profiled?
RICHARD: I started before I had the program and these interviews were never aired to begin with. Upton Sinclair was one of my first. Vicki Baum who wrote 'Grand Hotel" and Gale Sondergaard were others.

MICK: You wrote 11 "whatever Became Of..." books, each profiling 100 celebrities from the past. Did you have any favorites out of the 1100 you interviewed?
RICHARD: That's kind of impossible to say because some were my favorites because they gave me sensational interviews. For some of them, as soon as they opened their door, we clicked! We became friends! Buckwheat's (from the Little Rascals) son just called me because I knew his dad. He wanted to write a book about growing up as the son of Buckwheat! I put him in touch with my publisher. For others, we just had a chemistry between us. There were very few that i ever had a problem with and usually the problem was that they were drunk. Then I'd have to go back for the interview. It usually worked out well. The only time I really had a problem, though it didn't come over in the interview, was Buffalo Bob Smith. I went to his house in New Rochelle, New York for the interview. He had a liquor store but was retired at that time. Everything went fine but right in the middle of it, his son came into the room to get a book or something, and he just chewed his son out something fierce! 'What's the matter with you!! There's an interview going on in here!!" It was totally uncalled for. For a child entertainer to abuse his son that way was terrible. There was another one. Silent movie star cowboy Ken Maynard. I went to his residence with my assistant who was black. He always took the pictures for me. Maynard lived in a trailer in a trailer park. When he opened the door, he said "he can't come in here" meaning my assistant. He was very abusive. A terrible pathetic old man. He was totally drunk and couldn't get anything out of him.

MICK: Do you plan on writing any more 'Whatever Became Of..." books?
RICHARD: No I don't think there's any market for it. Interest evaporated over night. When the last one came out, I did my usual round of publicity and no one said 'when is the next one coming?". I had no intention of writing another anyway. No shows were asking to see me. Programs that I did 3-4 times a year for many years had no interest. I really didn't mind it at all.
I'd done it all by then There were very few people I didn't get to. I had no regrets at all

MICK: Do you think the internet has anything to do with that?
RICHARD: No, twenty one years ago the internet was not that prominent. It would not have affected my book buyers.

MICK: Are you working on any other books?
RICHARD: Yes it's called "Hanging Out In Hollywood" that will probably be out late next year. It's a collection of 12 stories about people I've encountered.

: I've read that in 1986, Crown Publishers arranged a party for every personality profiled in your "Whatever Became Of..." books. Had did that go?
RICHARD: There's a lengthy story on the party with lots of pictures in my next book. Some really nice photographs of the stars as they arrived. I was astonished that Lila Leeds came. No one had seen her since she was arrested but she came! It was a wonderful party. Lots of fun. It was at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

MICK: Is there anyone that you wanted to interview and you couldn't?
RICHARD: Alger Hiss. He considered to have dinner with me but he didn't want to be recorded or interviewed. He was a very charming dinner companion. I wanted to interview Greta Nissen. When Howard Hughes shot "Hell's Angels", the original blond bombshell was Greta Nissen, a Norwegian actress. But when he decided to re-shoot it as a talkie, he dropped her because of her heavy accent and choose Jean Harlow instead. Ben Lyon told me the real reason was that Harlow had bigger breasts.
But Greta was married to a very rich man who was envious of her career and wouldn't let me get to her. The were some others but most turned me down because of poor health.

MICK: It sounds like, overall, you had a great time finding these celebrities!
RICHARD: I had a very untroubled career thoroughly. I got to meet people I would not have dreamed I could ever meet. I met Ish Kabibble! I met Tokyo Rose! Brenda Frazier! Walter Cronkite never met Brenda Frazier or Tokyo Rose. The nicest thing about that was I met these people in their homes. I never knew what to expect. Several people had terrible fights with their spouses when I was there. I thought that was funny.

MICK: Did you go to the homes of all the stars you profiled?
RICHARD: In most cases yes. Even when I did radio, I tried to do the interview in their homes. Nobody was doing that. I think it added a lot to the program. I would tell them "Pretend this is television and take us through your house and tell us what it looks like". When I was on a radio station in Detroit, I got the nicest compliment ever. There was a man waiting to go on the air after me. He was the food and wine critic for Esquire Magazine. On a commercial break, he told me he lived in New York and he heard me there. He said 'When you take us for a tour of the homes, it's very vivid for me". As I was leaving, the radio host called me to the side and said "Do you realize what that man just said to you?" "Yes, it was a very nice compliment" I replied. "He is blind Richard!" said the host. I didn't see it because he was seated and I didn't see his white cane. I was very struck by that. And he choose the word "vivid" !

MICK: How long did it take you to complete one volume of "Whatever Became Of..?
RICHARD: Usually about one year. It was hard to judge the time because by the time I finished and turned the book in, i was well into the next book already. To me, the books all run together. I could tell the interest was waning because every year I went to Europe and did people for England and the continent. I could tell my readers weren't really interested in those people. These were people who had gone to movies and the matinee when they were kids. That's what they were reliving. That's not what is was for me. To me, it was meeting celebrities that very few people ever got to meet. Like Baby Sandy! The only interview she ever gave was to me. She had no recollection of her career because she was so young. So she never granted another interview. I thought I would do one or two books and have a nice career in radio, never dreaming it would be eleven books!

MICK: How long have you lived in California?
RICHARD: I lived here in the 1950's. I moved back here in 1972 because I bought a St. Bernard dog and the St. Bernard and Manhattan wasn't very convenient. I bought a house and she eventually died. I decided I didn't want to continue with the series so I moved to Santa Barbara. You could say I'm semi retired. I've only written a few books since I've been here.

"Whatever Became Of..." books can be found on Amazon.com
Richard's latest books "Manhattan Diary" and "Hollywood Diary" can be ordered at
BearManor Media
P O Box 1129
Duncan, OK 73534-1129
Phone: 580-252-3547 (Sandy Grabman)