Cool, man – foto Smith
In the early seventies I went backstage to interview Bill Haley of the Comets. The usher took me back and said, “Excuse me, Mr. Haley, this man’s here to interview you for the paper.” Haley looked me in the eye and said, “Go away, kid. I’m counting my money.” And that was it. The sad part is I could have interviewed Little Richard instead of a pudgy man who looked like a used-car salesman.
I was at a radio station to interview Alice Cooper and his opening act, Flo and Eddy, who were half of the Turtles and who also played with Frank Zappa. The radio station supplied dope and we all got wonderfully stoned. Alice Cooper was cold and kept insulting fans who called in, while Flo and Eddy, who also recorded as Phosphorescent Leech and Eddy, were warm, funny and friendly, absolutely marvelous folk to be around.
As I left the radio station stoned and without an interview with Alice Cooper, I encountered a parking lot full of screaming teenyboppers. A little girl ran up to me and breathlessly asked, “Are you somebody?”
“No, I’m nobody.”
Got drunk with Paul Williams who had written a bunch of hit songs for other people, such as We’ve Only Just Begun for the Carpenters, and who had a couple hits himself. He was very funny, and very short. He ordered up a box of French white wine, tore it open, and we spent the afternoon talking about Hobbits. He wanted to play one in the movies.
I interviewed Tiny Tim when he was broke and reduced to touring backyard honkytonks. I watched his act, and after he went through his normal routine of Tiptoe thru the Tulips and the vaudeville jokey stuff, he went into a fifty song medley: one song would be from 1890, the next a Credence Clearwater Revival rock tune. After the show I told him, “I’m blown away. I think you’re a genius.” He was so hungry for recognition, he took the tape recorder out of my hand and for 45 minutes he talked and sang into it. He did a Bob Dylan song in Rudy Vallee’s voice, then a Rudy Vallee song in Bob Dylan’s voice.
He told me about a party in New York City where he opened a closet and found George Harrison in a cloud of marijuana smoke. He said he was ripped off by his managers and was flat broke—they’d stolen everything. Every now and then his wife, Miss Vicky, would try to get him off to do something else and he’d brush her away. After my time was up, the manager came in and said, “Mr. Tim, there’re only six people waiting for the next show. Do you want to cancel?”
Tim said, “I don’t care if there’s only one person in the audience. I’m going on.”
He wrote his address in my notebook and made me promise to send him the review, which turned out to be a front page piece. I wrote what a genius he was but then I never mailed it to him. Man needed it. I promised it. I didn’t deliver, and it still shames me.
— excerpt from Stations of the Lost & Found by Smith & Lady, available for sale in about a month
Rock stare – foto Smith