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Ian Hunter (Danny Baker & Bleecker Bob)

PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2005 10:47 am
by garth cartwright
Listening to Danny Baker's breakfast show on Tuesday morning and he had Ian Hunter on as a guest. As a kid I loved Mott so paid attention. Hunter's normally a pretty glum type and to get out of bed for a radio show pre-9am didn't make him any happier but Baker was chirping on about how much he loved his book Diary Of A Rock Star and pressing Hunter for more details. "Originally I was going to call it Razzle Dazzle," said Hunter, "but I mentioned this to Charlie Gillett and he said 'that's no good. Call it Diary Of A Rock Star.'" Baker replied that he was with Charlie last night - at the Sony radio awards I imagine - and Hunter said "well, send him my regards next time you see him." Must admit I was surprised, the thought of Charlie associating with platform boot wearing glam rockers never being an association I made. I've never read Diary - I mean, I liked Mott a lot as a kid but not enough to read Diary - is it any good? Was Charlie also friends with The NY Dolls and other pre-punk heroes? The story goes on . . .

Ian Hunter

PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2005 11:42 am
by Charlie
This is intriguing, because my memory is that Ian chose the title himself.

My involvement came about after I had been a guest on The Old Grey Whistle Test (I've long forgotten what I was talking about). This must have been around 1974.

A few days later, the phone rang and a man with a Midlands accent first made sure that the number he had got out of the phone book had led him to same person he'd seen on TV. He then introduced himself as Ian Hunter from Mott the Hoople, and made some back-handed remark about me not talking as much shit as most people did on the Whistle Test.

Ian explained that he had been keeping a diary and wanted somebody to tell him if it was of any interest to anybody else.

I was, as Garth guessed, no great fan of Mott the Hoople, but I said I'd look at what he'd written. It was a fascinating account of life on the road with a bunch of musicians. I told Ian that it needed tidying up, but volunteered to become its editor and try to get it published.

I had recently made an arrangement with a publisher to edit a series of books about music, which had more or less fallen on its face when only one of the three authors I chose was able to deliver something publishable (Richard Williams, with his book about Spector, Out of His Head). So I welcomed this chance to retrieve the series, and Ian's diary went on to sell over 150,000 copies, earning me more in royalties as an editor (on 2%), than the UK sales of my own book Sound of the City had earned in author royalties.

But I'm pretty sure that I would not have chosen Diary of a Rock and Roll Star as a title, partly because in those days I was still sticking to my belief that rock and roll was a description that applied exclusively to the fifties originals - Elvis, Chuck, Fats, Richard, Buddy etc.

So if Ian doesn't think he chose the title himself, it possibly came from somebody at the publishers, and I may have relayed it back to Ian, leading him to think I coined it.

And to answer Garth's question about the New York Dolls. I was indeed sort of friends with one of them, who worked at Bleeker Bob's oldies record store in Greenwich Village. One of the Dolls (I think he was the bass player and called Pete - does that fit?) worked behind the counter and was always very friendly, uncrecognisable without his make-up.

Each time I went to Manhattan, I would make a beeline for the store to see if they had whatever I was looking for at the time. I asked about Ral Donner's album, and Pete said Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin had bought their only copy thirty minutes earlier.

I knew Robert was a big doo wop fan but never met him in that era, and finally linked up when we found ourselves side by side on the anti-Iraq war march a couple of years ago. Now what would his autobiography be like?

It was great to sit next to Danny Baker at the Sony Radio Awards last night, although I think he was disappopinted to find that I do not share his fanaticism in scouring junk shops and second hand record stores for whatever records I don't already have. I told him I'd finally broken my addiction, and that with so many unheard CDs on my floor, the last thing I needed to do was go looking for others.

Danny is surely the funniest man on British radio, and he made an amusing acceptance speech after being announced the UK's Best Radio DJ. The joke is, he is not allowed to play records on his daily breakfast show on BBC London. How can an award for Best DJ be given to somebody who doesn't play records?

I invited Danny to come and play radio ping pong. and he said yes, so we'll fix the date and I'll let you know when.

PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2005 12:24 pm
by Con Murphy
I invited Danny to come and play radio ping pong. and he said yes, so we'll fix the date and I'll let you know when.

Danny Baker is a brilliant radio presenter, and of course he was one of the writers during the NME "golden years" - in fact, when Jamie Renton asked who he might be in the fRoots/NME analogy I made on another thread, Danny was the person I first thought of. So my first reaction to the above was one of excitement, but on reflection I'm hoping he goes off-piste in his selections, because his 'public' tastes (ie what he has played in the past on the radio) tend to be quite mainstream. Certainly, I'm sure he has an original view on what's known as World Music.

PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2005 12:39 pm
by howard male
My memory of 'Diary of a Rock n' Roll Star' was that it was one of those books passed from horny adolescent to horny adolescent at school, along with the novelisation of the movie 'That'll Be the Day' and the trashy horror novel' The Rats' by James Herbert. These books had the reputation either of having lots of Grade A swearing, or Grade X sex scenes. They'd always fall open at the appropriate pages to save any of us having to do too much reading - the last thng you want to do when you're at school.

How about we start a section in Feedback where we come up with random musician's names, and Charlie then tells us when and how he came to meet them, and what misunderstandings, dramas, coincidences or humorous incidences ensued? I'll start - how about The Velvet Underground?

New York Dolls bass player

PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2005 1:50 pm
by Dominic
One of the Dolls (I think he was the bass player and called Pete - does that fit?)

Art "Killer" Kane was the New York Dolls bass player. I found this quote from David Johansen (Dolls' singer) in a Guardian obituary, written by none other than Garth Cartwright: "He couldn't breathe and play at the same time, so he would take a really deep breath, play a lot of notes, and then take another deep breath and start playing again."

PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2005 10:36 pm
by NormanD
Congratulations, Charlie, for your Sony Award, as well (Bronze, Specialist Music). You modestly omited telling us. I'd like to think it makes your job safer......

Sadly, Danny Baker is finishing his breakfast show at the end of this month. What a shame, what a waste. I do look forward to him pingponging with you, that will be a treat. I wouldn't want to predict what he might come up with; I'm sure he finds a lot when he's out scouring. I remember that whenever he played a Nick Lowe song, which was almost every week, he always said it was in honour of Nick's birthday.

Bleecker Bob's

PostPosted: Wed May 11, 2005 9:29 pm
by Adam Blake
I read "Diary Of A Rock'n'Roll Star" when I was 13. It was crap. "Groupie" by Jenny Fabian is much better: it's much more pornographic, there's loads more drugs, it's better written, and you can have great fun trying to figure out who she's talking about. (Spoiler: Ben is Syd Barrett, The Satin Odyssey are the Pink Floyd, Relation are Family - but that's just to get you started...)

First time I went to New York I headed straight for Bleecker Bob's - legendary mecca for vinyl junkies. It didn't disappoint. When I arrived there was a stand up shouting match going on between Bob and the guy running the stall outside who rented his space from Bob:

This went on for some time. I stood there transfixed as if I had stepped straight into a Martin Scorsese film set. Eventually the stall holder stormed out of the shop and Bob turned his attention to the customer who had been patiently waiting for the argument to subside. "Whatcha lookin' for?" Bob snarled at him. In the stagiest camp New York whine imaginable the man said:
"I'm looking for someplace where the people aren't yelling at each other the whole time." Without missing a beat, Bob replied: "Oh yeah? Try Kansas."
When it was my turn at the counter he quickly placed my accent. "You from London, huh? Whatcha lookin' for?" I wasn't looking for anything, I was just browsing, but thinking fast on my feet I said "Curtis Mayfield" - i.e, something hip but non-partisan. "Solo or wid de Impressions?", he shot back immediately. "Either," I offered in my best ineffectual English. He produced a promo 45 of "Freddie's Dead", much the worse for wear, for $3.00, which there was no way I was going to be able to not buy. All the same, I had to comment on its condition. "It's knackered", I said. "No it's not", said Bob, and produced some window cleaning spray and a toilet roll from under the counter and proceeded to scrub the record clean in front of me. I had to smile at that and I handed over the three bucks gladly. Subsequent visits have never been quite so dramatic but I have never left there empty-handed and I heartily recommend the place to anyone who appreciates rock'n'roll as it was once understood. I believe Bob is still with us and sometimes still serves in the shop that bears his name...

Re: Bleecker Bob's

PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2006 12:08 pm
by Charlie
Adam Blake wrote: "I'm looking for someplace where the people aren't yelling at each other the whole time."

Without missing a beat, Bob replied: "Oh yeah? Try Kansas."

Having first met Bob at his shop in 1970, I met him again a year or two later in London with a friend of his, Broadway Al.

For me this was a rare encounter with a link to a previous era, as Al had hung out with legendary radio DJ Alan Freed, the man credited with naming rock 'n' roll. I was fascinated to learn that Freed kept a phone book near an open microphone, banging it with his hand to add extra excitement to the records, and wrote one of my weekly Record Mirror columns based on Al's reminiscences.

A year or so later, I was back in New York and made the mandatory pilgrimage Bleecker Bob's. The man himself was behind the counter but looked straight through me as if I didn't exist. I hung around flipping through the records for a while, found something and took it to the counter to pay. Only now did Bob indicate he knew who I was. 'How come you wrote all about Al and said nothing about me, you schmuck?'

Bleecker Bob

PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2006 1:01 pm
by Adam Blake
Hey! Charlie, do you know if Bob is still with us? Or if he's retired? Last time I was in New York was three years ago and there was no sign of him in the shop (might have been his day off of course - I was too shy to ask).
I still wound up spending infinitely more money than I intended...

Re: Ian Hunter (Danny Baker & Bleecker Bob)

PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2012 8:44 am
by Jarlath
The Last Days of Bleecker Bob's