News & Events

When Classic Rock Ruled

In an era today where hip-hop, country, and fluffy pop songs seem to dominate the media’s attention, let’s not forget that there are still millions out there who love their classic rock from the seventies and eighties. Maybe you’re even one of them. If so, then Goodnight, L.A. is for you. It’s the never-before-told, behind-the-scenes story about the creation of hit record after hit record that came out of the epicenter of  it all, Los Angeles. Back when artists such as the Eagles, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Fleetwood Mac, Warren Zevon, Chicago, REO Speedwagon, Loggins and Messina, and so many more willingly sacrificed everything in the hopes of somehow carving out a career in the music business.

What my first book, The Wrecking Crew, was to AM radio, 45-RPM singles and pop, Goodnight, L.A. is to FM radio, vinyl albums and rock. In particular, the countless interviews I conducted with music stars, record producers, studio engineers and others who were all there during the heyday has provided Goodnight, L.A. with a rare measure of depth and authenticity. At least I think so. And hopefully you will, too. If you end up enjoying Goodnight, L.A. even half as much as I did while researching and writing it, then I will have done my job. Though sad, it is no exaggeration to say that we will never see the likes of this music or the caliber of these performers again. But, man, it sure was great while it lasted!

Bobby Keys – RIP

You’d recognize him in a second if you heard him. He gave the Stones some seriously nasty sax on a bunch of their best-known hits, particularly “Brown Sugar.” His name was Bobby Keys and he was not only a virtuoso on his horn, but was also the only one who could keep up with the legendary Keith Richards in the substance abuse department. Until Bobby’s liver finally gave out, that is. Though he unfortunately passed away recently at the age of 70, Keys left us all with an enduring legacy of monster performances. Below is my personal favorite, “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking,” from 1971’s Sticky Fingers. Check out his solo about halfway through the song during the impromptu jam — the cat could blow.

 

 

Sean Bonniwell Passes at 71.

It might have gone a bit under most people’s radar, but Sean Bonniwell, the lead singer and main songwriter of the band the Music Machine, passed away at the age of 71 in December, 2011.

For anyone like me who goes back far enough or just digs Sixties-style proto-punk, the Music Machine’s 1966 (and only) Top 40 hit, “Talk, Talk,” is about as good as it gets. It had a real snarly, nasty sound. Two minutes of total ‘tude at a time when folk rock from Wrecking Crew-played efforts like “California Dreamin’,” “Eve of Destruction,” and “Mr. Tambourine Man” had become the message-song darlings of Top 40 radio.

The Music Machine also bucked the prevailing LA trend at the time by playing their own instruments. In fact, the bass player was Keith Olsen, who went on to work at Sound City Studios in Van Nuys (a Los Angeles suburb). Olsen engineered and produced dozens of gold and platinum albums there for the likes of Fleetwood Mac, Joe Walsh, Jefferson Starship, Pat Benatar, Eddie Money, and many others. All great stuff. But give me the in-your-face insolence of the Music Machine any day, ya know?

But, hey, what do you think? I’m curious—do any other bands come to mind from that era in LA that were also obvious garage rock pioneers???