Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Legendary JOHNNY MATHIS!

He is truly one of the greatest singers in the world and a living legend. Johnny Mathis has been performimg for over 55 years now and he is still going strong! His unique vocals have captured audiences, young and old, worldwide and he is always in style, regardless of whatever the current popular music may be. Johnny returns once again to Westbury this coming weekend and I had the absolute pleasure to speak with him from his California home...
MICK: How do you like appearing in the round at the NYCB Theatre at Westbury?
JOHNNY: I've been there for so many years and it's one of my favorite venues. You're close to the people, everybody gets a nice view and the acoustics are wonderful. The only problem sometimes is that we have to put the orchestra to one side of the stage. I used to work with the orchestra on the stage with me but it was kind of cumbersome because I couldn't do anything but stand there! Over the years, I've seen the demise of all the other venues with seats in the round across the country. The NYCB Theatre at Westbury is one of the best and I'm glad it's still around.
MICK: Your latest album " Let It Be Me- Mathis In Nashville" sounds fantastic. Is this your first country album?
JOHNNY: That's right. Over the years, I've done a few songs that I guess you could call country. My dad was a wonderful singer and piano player. He's from Texas. Those country songs were the first songs I heard. My dad was my mentor when I started singing. I just love singing them.
MICK: When you record a song, do you ever get that inner feeling that you know it will be a hit?
JOHNNY: Oh no. Over the years, some of my biggest hits I kind of just brushed off and said they weren't dynamic enough or its not this or that. Of course you never never know. The idea is to try to get yourself in position in the business where you can record a lot of stuff and see what happens!
MICK: You've had nine very successful Christmas albums. Is Christmas your favorite holiday?
JOHNNY: Yes it is! My mom and dad raised seven children on domestic wages. Christmas time was very special for us. The mood was already there. The music was a big part of Christmas. I always sang in a lot of choirs. We were always going down to the local department stores singing Christmas carols. My mom and dad were professional cooks so they made Christmas a very special time for us with the foods that they prepared. Over the years, I've sang Christmas music and it's been a very big part of my life. I'm so happy we've had such great success with my Christmas music that I've recorded through the years!
MICK: Are your other siblings in the music industry?
JOHNNY: A couple of my brothers were. My brother Ralph still performs with his wife. They perform all over. My youngest brother Mike is very ill. He was a wonderful musician but he's not able to play anymore. My sisters never got involved. They were great dancers! I can't dance! They were one up on me in that regard. My dad influenced the whole family with his music.
MICK: As an athlete, you've had some great successes in your life including competing in the Olympic trials and in golf, getting six holes in ones! What do you personally consider you're greatest athletic achievement?
JOHNNY: I don't think there's too much athleticism concerned with golf but its a passion for me. It gives me an opportunity to socialize, which sometimes can be very difficult in a business like I am as I'm constantly performing! Golf is my social activity as well as a nice walk in the park. I think my biggest accomplishment was when I was on the track and field team when I was high jumping. I got to participate with some pretty extraordinary athletes. I cut my athletic career short by singing. But one of my best friends is basketball great Bill Russell. Bill and I went to separate universities and we ran track together, worked out together. We are still really good friends! That was really one of the athletic highlights of my career getting to know Bill and follow his career as one of the greatest basketball players of all time.
MICK: I guess you still golf a lot?
JOHNNY: I do! I golf at least five times a week and I get a chance to play with a lot of wonderful athletes. I get to reminisce and talk about the old times of running track and field.
MICK: What are your favorite golf courses?
JOHNNY: I play Riviera Golf Course which is quite famous. I some of the other great country clubs throughout Southern California. Of course, right around the corner from Westbury is the famous Black Course at Bethpage. I do go over there and play once in a while!
MICK: What is your favorite song?
JOHNNY: I think "Misty" is about as close as I can come to picking a favorite song.
MICK: Do you play any musical instruments?
JOHNNY: No I don't!
MICK: Besides Westbury, what are your other favorite venues to play?
JOHNNY: Several of my favorite venues are concert halls. I just finished playing a wonderful concert hall called " Davies Symphony Hall" in San Fransisco. Most of these concert halls are named after people who pay the money to build them. I was there for a wonderful concert in my home town a couple of weeks ago. In another month, I will be working in another fabulous concert hall in Dallas "Meyerson Symphony Center". Those places are built for music so the acoustics are extraordinary. Of course being a singer, acoustics is one of the most important things in my life.
MICK: Do you have any fond memories of coming to Long Island?
JOHNNY: When I started singing, I went to New York when I was 19 and started recording. I remember I sang at a place called The Shell House on Long Island many, many years ago. It's probably not there anymore. I remember I was by myself. I had to rehearse the orchestra and work the lights from my microphone at the same time I was singing. That was the most extraordinary experience of my life.
MICK: When you are home, who do you listen to?
JOHNNY: Right now, I'm listening to a group of songs that are all Puccini opera by some of my favorite vocal icons like Leontyne Price, Beverly Sills, Richard Tucker, Pavarotti, etc...Of course, I love Brazilian music. I just sat down at my computer last night and ordered some Brazilian music. There's a guy I work out with at the local gym who's from Brazil. His name is Carlinhos Brown. I did not know about him until I started working out with him at the gym. He is one of the most extraordinary musicians in the world. I was so happy to meet him and hear his music. I think he is perhaps the most famous musician in Brazil now.
MICK: So you just came across Carlinhos by accident!
JOHNNY: I came across him in a gym! I saw this extraordinary man on the running machine with dreadlocks down to his ankles! He didn't speak much English but he was recording the soundtrack to the movie called "Rio' which has been out recently. I looked up some of the recordings he had done. He's recorded with people like Sergio Mendes, whom I made a Brazilian album with. I am now fascinated by Calinhos and his Brazilian music. I love to learn songs in different languages, especially in Portuguese- the way the Brazilians sing Portuguese. It goes over well on stage too!
MICK: Are you working on anything new right now?
JOHNNY: As far as my stage performances go, I'm always changing things around. The recordings kind of come when they come. I depend a lot on people in the industry that I've worked with over the years who come in and out of my life on many occasions. They are the ones who call me up and say "Hey John! what do you think about doing this?" and before I know it, I'm hooked up with them and I'm back in the studio making some recordings. That's how the recordings go now these days.
MICK: When all is said and done, how would you like to be remembered?
JOHNNY: I've always thought that if you were a nice person, that was the nicest thing anyone could say about you. Even though you have all these unbelievable opportunities over the years to be heard and be seen, I think it's a wonderful attribute if after all of your successes and extraordinary life that people think of you as a nice person!

Johnny truly is a nice person! You can catch him this weekend at
NYCB Theatre at Westbury NY Saturday 7/30/2011 8:00 PM
and Sunday 7/31/2011 8:00 PM

For more on Johnny Mathis:

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Best Selling Author Dr. Carole Lieberman- The Media Psychiatrist

She's a three time Emmy Award winner, best selling author and you've seen her on all of the talk shows. Dr. Carole Lieberman is world famous as the "Media Psychiatrist" with a star star studded Beverly Hills practice and is highly respected among her peers. Her latest book "Bad Girls: Why Men Love Them & How Good Girls Can Learn Their Secrets" is a huge success and it has led Dr. Carole on a fantastic journey to London in hopes of obtaining a very unique piece of memorabilia! I recently enjoyed speaking with Dr. Carole from her Beverly Hills home.....

MICK: Please tell me how and why you went to London to bid on Kate Middleton's sexy see-through dress?
DR. CAROLE: Kate Middleton had got engaged to Prince William right around the same time my book " Bad Girls: Why Men Love Them and How Good Girls Can Learn Their Secrets" came out in November. I've been doing a lot of media interviews and I would talk about how Kate was the quintessential good girl who used bad girl secrets to catch her prince! I gave some examples and one of these secrets was wearing this sexy see-through dress at the fashion show that she knew Prince William was going to be at. They were both at the same school. That dress was actually supposed to be a skirt and she wore it over her underwear. It was a combination of being really beautiful, having a good body and sauntering down the runway. It wasn't that she was just beautiful and had a good body, it was she had the audacity to wear this in a Scottish school parading in her underwear essentially. It was this confidence and audacity that attracted Prince William. It got him to turn to his friend and say "Wow, she is hot!". At that moment, it went from being, in his eyes, a friend to being a love interest. She was this great example that showed women that they can catch their own prince. In my book, the last chapter is "Bad girls secrets to a man's heart". That is a distillation of stories from the rest of the book. I interviewed over 100 men and put the best bad girl stories in the book. In between the chapters in the book, there's the twelve chapters about each type of bad girl. Within each chapter, I have 3 or 4 real stories from men on the dating front talking about their experiences with that particular bad girl. When men read it, they are warned about the kind of things the bad girls do to catch them or trap them. Good girls can read it from a different point of view where they can see the secrets the bad girls use to catch these men. The last chapter is a distillation of the things that kept coming up again and again in these stories. So Kate Middleton is essentially a good girl who used bad girl secrets. Pippa Middleton is a bad girl! Kate represented, and by extension of her sexy dress, how good girls can catch their own prince! That's why I went to London to bid on the dress because I wanted it as a tangible proof that good girls can catch their own prince. I was outbid because there was no way I going to pay $125,000 for the dress. I did bid on it. Before I went to London, it was estimated that the high bid would be $16,000. I thought that was within reason. Of course, things change!
That was the last item up for bid. I was committed to bid on it. By the time I started to bid on it, the bidding was up to 28,500 lbs., which is like $65,000! After coming all that way, I did place a bid! After that, it went through the roof. I realized that somebody would probably outbid me so I had a plan B. I would bid on items from the Duchess of Windsor because she was the quintessential bad girl who conduced her man to give up the throne. I wound up with three lace boudoir jackets and one shocking pink nightgown was a jacket. I had to fight tooth and nail to get those!
MICK: What was the theme of the auction?
DR. CAROLE: All together it was vintage high fashion clothing. There were about 300 items from various years, not all royalty items. There was clothing, jewelry, pocketbooks. The last items were 3 dresses from Princess Diana and the last thing was Kate's dress. It was quite exciting. Before I went to London, my publicist sent out press releases about my quest so there had been some things in the news before I went. There were tons of press both days. They all wanted to know why this woman from Los Angeles had come to London to bid on Kate's dress! The people there were really nice except for the person bidding against me! There were about 300 people at the auction with about 50 press people behind them to see would would win the coveted items. There was one person bidding against me for the Duchess's items and I was determined to win the auction after coming all the way to London! I would not go home empty handed! So now I have the Duchess's bad girl things!
This was all for the same reason that I wrote the book. In general, it was to help men and women get the love they deserve. For men, beware of bad girls. For good girls, it was to even the playing field so they would not lose their men to bad girls and that they can catch their own prince! So it's all tied in together!
MICK: Something for everyone!
DR. CAROLE: Yes that's right! I have this test for women in the first chapter of the book called "The Bad Girls Test" for women and "The Sitting Duck Test" for men. In the bad girl's test, you go from being a good girl to being a man eater depending on how many things you check off. For each type of bad girl, I explain what has made them that way. I also explain what makes men attracted to them. There are psychological roots for all of these things. It's not only for good girls or for bad girls who want to reform or recovering bad girls. What makes a bad girl bad is feeling that she's not lovable. It starts off with having a dysfunctional relationship with her father that makes her feel unlovable. She grows up and is attracted to bad boys who continue to make her feel unlovable. At some point, she takes her heart off her sleeve ,hardens it and decides to go after men for these other reasons and that's the 12 different types I describe in my book.
MICK: Do you the rights to Kate's dress?
DR. CAROLE: When I was in London, I became friends with Charlotte Todd, the designer of the dress. I asked her if she could make me a replica! I did this before I was outbid. So I did wind up with the only replica/prototype of the limited edition of manufactured copies of the dress. I became the U.S. ambassador of the dress! The only place you can get this dress in the United States is from my website. I'm looking to be placing it in certain boutiques. When I speak and do my "How To Catch a Prince Tour" lectures, the dress will be sold there.
MICK: How is the book doing?
DR. CAROLE: It's doing pretty well!
MICK: I also saw that one of the schools you attended with the University of Stony Brook here on Long Island. Did you live on Long Island?
DR. CAROLE: I lived at the dorms when I went to college there. I was born in the Bronx, grew up in Flushing and Forest Hills. When I went to Stony Brook, we lived in Forest Hills at the time.
MICK: You are one the the world's top forensic psychiatrists. How often are you called to court to testify?
DR. CAROLE: I usually have about 10 cases, in different stages, going on at the same time. A lot of cases will settle before they reach court. In one stage I'm reading the records and examining the parties involved in the law suits. Or I'm writing a report. Then there's the deposition and then there's the trial, if it gets that far. Most cases are in California but I've testified in a number of different states.
MICK: Who are your favorite celebrities?
DR. CAROLE: I usually get called on to analyze all the things the celebrities are doing wrong! In the book, for each of the types of bad girls, I name celebrity examples for each of the types. Whether they are real people like Angelina Jolie being a husband stealer or fictional characters. For example, I use the characters from "Sex In The City". I suppose I would have to say Kate Middleton as my favorite celebrity at this point!
MICK: What do you do to unwind?
DR. CAROLE: Besides writing, talking and trying to help people, my other passion is horseback riding. I have a horse. I started riding when I was in camp as a kid. I continued when I was in Stony Brook. There was a physical education class on horse riding and I took it for two semesters. I ride like three or four times a week and allow myself that luxury and even compete too!
MICK: Are you are superstitious person?
DR. CAROLE: Sometimes I am. For the Millennium, I went to the Amazon in Peru and on this trip, we communed with Shamans. That was like a fine line between superstition and spiritual stuff. One day recently, I was eating Chinese food and for the first time in my life, I got a fortune cookie that didn't have a fortune in it! I don't know if you would call that superstitious but it seemed rather foreboding! So I demanded the waiter to bring me another fortune cookie!
MICK: You've been called the Dr. Freud of modern times by your peers. How do you feel about that?
DR. CAROLE: I actually studied with Anna Freud in my last year of residency at NYU Bellevue. I was chief resident and so for my last year, I went to London for four months. I did research at the The Maudsley Hospital [a British psychiatric hospital in South London] but the main reason I went there was because I wanted to study with Anna Freud. That was an amazing experience. Reading Sigmund Freud's interpretations of dreams is what got me to become a psychiatrist. I had decided I wanted to be a doctor when I was around eight years old but when I was a teenager, I read Freud's interpretation of dreams and that really resonated with me. I respect him for his theories and the legacy and changes he left.
MICK: You've written best selling books on bad girls and bad boys (Bad Boys: Why We Love Them, How to Live with Them and When to Leave Them),. What's next?
DR. CAROLE: There was a book in between called "Coping With Terrorism" and that was published in London. In 2006, American publishers didn't believe that enough people would buy a book on coping with terrorism. Today, so many people are in denial and because Bin Laden has been killed, its helping people stay in denial. Terrorists are not to stop trying to destroy America. So two things are next for me. I want to bring bad boys back with a new edition so I can use more current bad boys as examples. I also want to have "Coping With Terrorism" published in America because I really feel passionate about that. We really haven't recovered from 9/11 and we aren't dealing well with the ongoing news we hear about terrorism.
We are putting our heads in the sand in denial and it's costing us psychologically. A good example is the obesity crisis. There are many factors for this but the main factor is that people are trying to comfort themselves with food because of being rattled from this ingoing threat and the aftermath of 9/11. We are not talking about it and we don't want to admit out loud that we are still scared. We are coping badly by drinking to much, eating to much and various malfunctions. We really have to learn how to cope better. So besides helping people find love, I'm helping people how to survive war!

For more on Dr. Carole Lieberman...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Creedence Clearwater Revisted's Drummer DOUG "COSMO" CLIFFORD

There is probably not a truer American rock and roll band than Creedence Clearwater Revival. Combining rhythm and blues, country and a dash of soul, CCR paved a blazing trail right into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. When the band broke up, the members went their seperate ways. Years later, CCR's rhythm section of bassist Stu Cook and drummer Doug "Cosmo" Clifford formed a new band Creedence Clearwater Revisited. They continue the legacy today with a stellar lineup that does the utmost justice to CCR's hallowed music. I had the great pleasure to speak with Doug Clifford recently from his home in Nevada....

MICK: Do you prefer to be called Doug or Cosmo?
DOUG: Either one! i was first called Cosmo in college. My nickname came out of nowhere and kind of stuck like dog poop on a shoe! Everybody in the band calls me Cos or Cosmo, including my longtime friend Stu Cook. It's lasted a long time. We had a nice big album out of it [Cosmo's Factory]!
MICK: When did you first start playing drums?
DOUG: I started playing when I was 13.
MICK: How did the band come up with the name Creedence Clearwater Revival?
DOUG: We were originally called The Golliwogs and we didn't name ourselves that. We hated it. What made it even worse was the uniforms we had to wear because of our manager. We fired him. We had three pages of names. Credence Newball was one of them. He was a black janitor that worked with Tom [Fogarty]. Creedence of course means truth and honesty. Clearwater was an Olympia Beer commercial and also a key word for ecology at that time. We were thinking of that before anyone else; and Revival was a revival of ourselves, no more goofy outfits and no more goofy manager. That's it!
MICK: Is Stu Cook your oldest friend?
DOUG: Yes, we known each other for 53 years now!
MICK: Creedence Clearwater Revival was one of the headliners at the Woodstock Festival in 1969. What was the band's reaction to not being included on the soundtrack album?
DOUG: That was John Fogarty's call. He didn't think we did good enough and we all did. He was the band's manager at the time and it was a bad management decision. A real bad one. We are finally in there now after 40 years on the bonus tracks. I'm very proud of everything we did and under the circumstances, I think everyone did a good job.
MICK: What is your favorite Creedence song?
DOUG: "Born On The Bayou".
MICK: In 1993, when CCR was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, John Fogarty refused to play with you and Stu at the induction ceremony concert. What exactly happened that night?
DOUG: Nothing happened! We didn't play! We went there expecting to play. Nobody told us. There was a conspiracy going on. John was rehearsing with Springsteen and the other big shots for a month. John told the Hall of Fame not to tell us. It was pretty ugly. It was very wrong. You always look for the positive and I think, unknowing at the time, it planted the seeds for Creedence Clearwater Revisited. This is our seventeenth year with the project!
MICK: Longer than your time with CCR!
DOUG: By over 4 times!
MICK: Is there still bitterness between you and John Fogarty?
DOUG: Yes there is! He's carrying it. I don't know why. He made all these bad business decisions like not being in the Woodstock movie and not taking a 10% of the record company for a new royalty rate. We still have an entry level rate based on wholesale. That's pitiful. He did a terrible job as a manager and did a great job as a creative person. He insisted on doing the management and when we needed a real pro, he lost more than anybody. He still doesn't own his songs. It couldn't have been worse on that side and it couldn't have been better on the other side.
MICK: How did you find John Tristao, the lead singer for Creedence Clearwater Revisited?
DOUG: The guy is great! We networked and told everybody that we knew in the business what our plan was and asked for ideas. An old friend of his who works for one of the guitar string companies, put his name in. We contacted him and asked him to pick an acoustic guitar and sing. We had five songs and these had to be done without any accompaniment. I think we had ten singers and four of them passed the first audition, including John. Out of the last four, John was the last one and we knew we had our guy. He's also very funny and a natural showman. We love him!
MICK: Creedence Clearwater Revisited released an album 'Recollection" in 1997. It went platinum! Will there be another record in the near future?
DOUG: No but there might be some additions to "Recollection". Our name kind of paints us into a corner where we can't go outside of the band or do any original material or anything that wasn't done by Creedence. There still some beautiful little gems and nuggets in the catalog. We work the songs up in sound check. So we have a few we will be laying down and then putting out a single CD with half of the songs coming from "Recollection" which were all hits and the other half will be the songs we are working on. Not sure when its coming out but it will be in the mix!
MICK: What drummers do you admire?
DOUG: My mentor and favorite drummer, who has long since passed, is Al Jackson Jr. from Booker T. and the MG's. What most people don't realize is that they weren't just an instrumental band doing "Green Onions" and the like. They were the house band for Stax so they played on all the hits from people like Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, etc... They were just an awesome band. A quartet as we were too. We tried to model ourselves after them. We took them on the road with us and did 31 dates in America. I became good friends with Al. He gave me some pretty good advise during those years. While I was actually playing drums he was a mentor. The guy that inspired me to play drums was the great Gene Krupa from Tommy Dorsey's Band. I saw a television special when I was 12 and it was all about him. After that, I knew what I wanted to do! And do it on rock and roll records!
MICK: Aren't you a Viet Nam veteran Doug?
DOUG: I'm not a Viet Nam veteran. I was in the United States Coast Guard during that time period in the Coast Guard Reserve. I had an awesome deal. There was a two year waiting list to get in. I was going to be drafted by the Army in two weeks as i already had got the notice. I was recruited as a football player to play on the west coast for the United States Coast Guard. We were an undefeated championship team! I led the league in interceptions in that position. Fate!
MICK: John Fogarty was in the service at the same time with you, right?
DOUG: He was in the Army Reserve in Richmond, California. That was one city away from our hometown which was maybe five miles. We weren't in the war. We were both very fortunate to have got past that hurdle.
MICK: What do you do in your leisure time?
DOUG: I spend time with my family. I have 3 grandchildren. I just had my third a few days ago! I'm a family guy. Play a little golf. I used to play a lot but I'm playing less and less. I live on two golf courses. I winter in Scottsdale Arizona and then eight months in Reno-Tahoe area. I need to get back to my golf game! It's something that I am missing!
MICK: Are there any new bands that you like today?
DOUG: There probably are. I will hear something on the radio or on TV and I will like it. But I usually miss whoever the band is. I like the old stuff. I like country. There's some pretty good songwriters in Nashville. The drummers are playing some pretty cool parts as opposed to just the basic of things. The rhythm sections in country now are more pop than country. I find that an interesting transition.

You can see Creedence Clearwater Revisited, along with Three Dog Night, at NYCB Theatre in Westbury
Sunday, July 17, 2011 8:00 PM
For more on CCV: