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Someone tell Cameron Crowe that Florida has no hills …

… and that Lynyrd Skynyrd had a drummer [two of them].

While it was refreshing to see Lynyrd Skynyrd get its own episode of the recent Showtime series Roadies, the show’s creator Cameron Crowe made a couple of boo-boos. Cameron should know better. He toured with Skynyrd in Japan in 1977 and hooked up with the band’s accountant, Marybeth Medley. [Let’s just say that Nancy Wilson was a definite improvement.]

Skynyrd's Hell House? Hell, no! What the hell is that mountain range doing in a Florida swamp?

Skynyrd’s Hell House? Hell, no! What the hell is that mountain range doing in a Florida swamp?

Check out two screenshots. The band’s practice shack, the Hell House, is shown above with a mountain range in the background. In fact, the Hell House was located near an alligator-infested swamp in Green Cove Springs, Florida, the flattest state in the USA. In Cameron’s world, Skynyrd must have been a West Coast act.

Step right up! Buy a lot on the site of Lynyrd Skynyrd's old practice shack, the Hell House. Alligators and creepy-crawlies not depicted.

Step right up! Buy a lot on the site of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s old practice shack, the Hell House. Alligators and creepy-crawlies not depicted.

Incidentally, the site of the long-gone Hell House is currently being turned into a residential development. It includes a Free Bird Way and a Tuesday’s Cove.

Where's Artimus? Front row (l-r): Allen Collins, Ronnie Van Zant, Gary Rossington (mostly obscured), Leon Wilkeson, Billy Powell, the Honkettes. Top (l-r): Steve Gaines, fictional character, Dean Kilpatrick

Where’s Artimus? Front row (l-r): Allen Collins, Ronnie Van Zant, Gary Rossington (mostly obscured), Leon Wilkeson, Billy Powell, the Honkettes.
Top (l-r): Steve Gaines, fictional character, Dean Kilpatrick

More importantly, Cameron chose not to hire an actor to play the band’s drummer. Skynyrd had two drummers, band co-founder Bob Burns and his successor Artimus Pyle. Both were just as important as Ronnie Van Zant & Co. The rest of the band is portrayed by actors—with varying success. Cameron even cast actors to play tour manager Ron Eckerman, longtime roadie Dean Kilpatrick, and the three backing singers. But no drummer. Very strange. And quite offensive to Artimus and Bob, and to drummers in general.

Furthermore, a fictional roadie relates how he wishes he could have rescued the guys after their plane crashed on October 20, 1977. Well, somebody did. That was Artimus Pyle. His omission from Roadies is a great injustice to the man, and to the historical record. Stay tuned for more info on Artimus’ plans to reveal the true story of Lynyrd Skynyrd, America’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band.

New Lynyrd Skynyrd Book

After three years of groundwork and a year of interviews + writing, I submitted the manuscript to my publisher in the first week of January. Can't wait for it to come out, likely in the fall of 2017.

After three years of groundwork and a year of interviews + writing, I submitted the manuscript to my publisher in the first week of January. Can’t wait for it to come out, likely in the fall of 2017.

Free Rolling Stones tickets in Seattle


… for the Stones’ first visit to Seattle, on Dec. 2, 1965 … As long as you were a parent accompanying your screaming teen.

Seattle Times, Dec. 1, 1965 Read more

Prince: “I don’t believe in contracts”


Prince answers my question - "One" - after I asked him how many albums he would record under his new deal

Prince answers my question – “One” – after I asked him how many albums he would record under his new deal

It took me a while to find this report that I wrote after attending a small press gathering with Prince at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on December 13, 2005. I think it was the only time I got up close and personal with him. He looked exquisite, like a beautifully crafted artwork. He had just signed a new deal with Universal Records.

I asked him a few questions at the outset, and got a laugh with my first one:

YOU ONCE LABELED YOUR TIME AT WARNER BROS. AS SLAVERY. WHY ARE YOU JUMPING ABOARD THE BIGGEST SLAVE SHIP OF THEM ALL? Read more

Ahmet vs. Dweezil Zappa

Ahmet and Dweezil Zappa, in 1993 (Photo: Steve Appleford, originally published in Strobe magazine)

Ahmet and Dweezil Zappa, in 1993 (Photo: Steve Appleford, originally published in Strobe magazine)


It’s sad to see the two sons of Frank Zappa engaging in a bitter public battle over money and birthright. The New York Times detailed the feud in April, sparking an open letter from Ahmet to his older brother, and an angry response from Dweezil. Frank must be spinning in his unmarked grave in Westwood, although his estate planning and marital choice could have been more rigorous.

Ahmet vs. Dweezil ZappaI interviewed the brothers in July 1993, at Joe’s Garage, the Zappas’ recording studio underneath the Burbank Airport flight path in North Hollywood. Under the moniker of “Z,” the brothers had just recorded an album called Shampoohorn, which I vaguely recall was pretty good, although it didn’t have any commercial success. (Z also included bassist Scott Thunes and guitarist Mike Keneally). I must dust it off one of these days. Read more

David Bowie: The Brixton Years


David Bowie Brixton

David Bowie fell to Earth 69 years ago today, January 8, in this home at 40 Stansfield Road, Brixton. He lived here until he was about six, often dreaming of an exotic life filled with laughing gnomes, tin machines, and a beautiful Somali wife.

As you can see, it had just been sold, in July 2015 to be precise. The agent informed me that it went for close to its asking price of 1.1 million pounds, or $1.6 million (!!), and there was no Bowie premium. Bowie’s father, John Jones, and his first wife, Hilda, paid about 500 pounds for it after WW2. Take a look inside here.

Max Roach Park is nearby. I’d like to say it inspired Bowie’s interest in jazz, exemplified by his new album, Blackstar, also hatched today, but the park—alas—was named after the iconic drummer in 1986.

See more Bowie/Brixton photos on my Tumblr page.

Lemmy has a cold*


My interview with Lemmy in February, 2005, almost did not happen.

The Motörhead frontman wasn’t feeling 100 percent, and his publicist wanted to postpone. But I was all primed for a major drinking session at his local boozer, the Rainbow, and I persuaded her that a half-dozen Jack & Cokes would be good for him. So Lemmy, ever the trooper, walked up the hill from his apartment, took a seat in the afternoon sun at a patio table, and tentatively nursed his cold with his favorite medicine. Read more

Eddie Cochran’s last ride


A little over a year after “the day the music died”—when Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper were killed in a plane crash—Eddie Cochran met a similarly violent fate on April 17, 1960, dealing another critical blow to the fledgling rock ‘n’ roll genre.

London's Daily Mirror announces the death of Eddie Cochran, April 18, 1960.

London’s Daily Mirror announces the death of Eddie Cochran, April 18, 1960.

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Edith Cavell – English nurse martyred 100 years ago


Edith Cavell (1865-1915)

Edith Cavell (1865-1915)

This is a scheduled break from my rock ‘n’ roll reporting to mark the centenary of the execution of English nurse Edith Cavell during World War I.

Cavell, 49, went before a firing squad in German-occupied Belgium at dawn on October 12, 1915, after a German court-martial found her guilty of treason. Her crime was to help about 200 Allied soldiers escape Belgium to the neutral Netherlands. (Also executed was Philippe Baucq, a Belgian architect.) Read more

Los Lobos at MacArthur Park, Los Angeles


Free is one of my favorite words, and Los Lobos are one of my favorite bands. Combine these two elements, and I made sure I was in the front row for the quasi-homecoming show by East L.A.’s greatest musical export at the Levitt Pavilion in Los Angeles’ MacArthur Park on September 19.

(l-r) Cesar Rosas, Conrad Lozano, drummer Enrique “Bugs” Gonzalez, Louie Pérez

(l-r) Cesar Rosas, Conrad Lozano, drummer Enrique “Bugs” Gonzalez, Louie Pérez

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