Mull of Kintyre — you either hate the Paul McCartney folk song, or you’ve never heard of it (in which case you can sample it here.) These may seem strange options for one of the biggest pop hits of all time. I should clarify that “Mull of Kintyre” haters are likely closet fans and self-loathing Brits, while those who’ve never heard it are mainly Americans.
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I’ve officially hit rock-bottom trying to find something new to write about the Rolling Stones. While perusing the back cover of Exile on Main St. the other day, for only the millionth time, I wondered about the photo of the newspaper headline that appears to read: “Father of Five Aids … Rescuer.” Read more
Quick! Name the pub on the cover of Ringo Starr’s Sentimental Journey album (at right). Or, the venue where Ringo played his first official gig with the Beatles. Thanks to a recent trip to Liverpool, I know the answers—although it would have been cheaper to stay home and do an Internet search.Read more
It’s not often that Artimus Pyle performs on the West Coast. Based in North Carolina, the former Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer plies a thriving trade along the eastern seaboard with his astonishingly adept and clean-cut band. The last time I saw him play in southern California was in September 2013, and that may well have been his last gig in the state. Until January, 2019, when the Artimus Pyle Band (APB) ventured out West for five shows—a tour opener in Las Vegas, and four in California.Read more
I’m not responding to anymore emails from you, so don’t bother responding. — Jennifer De Chiara, literary agent, New York.
I’m not disappointed that my literary agent, Jennifer De Chiara, fired off an unprofessional email to me. I am disappointed that she didn’t do it with more literary flair. This is a brassy New Yorker who works on the periphery of the publishing industry. Am I not deserving of some artful bons mots? All I got was a typo and some awkward syntax.
The timing was awkward, too. The email was sent on Jan. 8, 2019. At the time, Backbeat Books was planning to release a wonderful memoir I co-authored with Artimus Pyle, the former drummer with Lynyrd Skynyrd. (Backbeat eventually dropped the book, scared off by vague legal threats from the Skynyrd organization. It is now trying to recoup the puny advance.)
Notwithstanding Jennifer De Chiara’s edict, I did send some follow-up emails reminding her that she is contractually obligated to make her “best efforts” to represent the book “enthusiastically.” No response. Read more
NOTE (Feb. 2020): Astute readers will not that this post has been updated several times over the years. My optimism was misplaced, but the project is not dead—quite the contrary. Artimus laughs at obstacles. For posterity, I have left intact the following post, but added some strikethrough and notes.
Former Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer Artimus Pyle, the “Wild Man of Southern Rock,” is publishing his memoir
in early-summer, 2019, through Backbeat Books/Hal Leonard. Street Survivor: Keeping the Beat in Lynyrd Skynyrd will be available in all good book stores, and at Amazon. The book was originally scheduled for publication in October 2017, but it has been delayed pending resolution of unrelated litigation pitting Artimus and Cleopatra Films against Judy Van Zant. [NOTE (Feb. 2020): Artimus won the lawsuit, but it had limited legal relevance to the book, and so the publisher exited.]
… 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.)
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
I 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