Friday, June 30, 2006

I'm Ashamed Of Myself

As if my last post wasn't enough to send me into a self-imposed permanent exile...

Went to a movie last night and rushed home because the movie inspired me to post something on my blog. Not a story. Not a review. A something. A something that I had to find. I looked everywhere it could possibly be (the office, the garage, the old office area...) but, alas, I couldn't find it.

As a punishment for not finding it, and not having a back-up post - oh my God, I can't believe I'm letting you see this - I am putting up a couple of pictures of my office. First let me say, my excuse for the office looking like a bomb hit it is "a bomb hit it." The bomb was me, me trying to find the something. I really thought it was in the evil trunk. So I emptied most of the trunk onto the floor, the couch, the coffee table and other places you can't even see. The something wasn't there. Other somethings similar to the something I was looking for were there but not the something I wanted to post.

Of course, not all this mess was created in the short span of the couple of hours it took me not to find the something. My excuse for the rest of the mess is "I'm crazy busy breaking a story for a new screenplay I'm writing." Fine. Fine. I know none of my excuses are valid for the state of my office. But I'm hoping by subjecting myself to this public humiliation, I will get off my ass and clean it up.'s the pictures. Look, if you dare.

If you are of the anal persuaion and these photos give you the urge to rush over and organize me (after you finish throwing up, of course) please contact me ASAP.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Please...Do Not Read This Post!

I knew doing this book wouldn't be easy. I've been down this road before. It's never easy. At least with Starart I was just an objective observer. All I had to do was hound the artists I wanted until they agreed to be in the book, then take photos of their art, interview them, assemble a mock-up of their chapter, get their approval, go off to the printers, do a few TV shows, talk on the radio, get interviewed by newspapers and throw a few kick-ass parties. My personal involvement is nowhere to be found other than the "designed and edited by" credit I gave myself.

Oh yeah, and the introduction I wrote. Funny. I remember struggling over that thing, not knowing what to say. The long-winded pages of stuff I wrote about the artists were a piece of cake compared to my introduction. This is what I wrote:
"I find it difficult to introduce you to Starart because I really feel the book speaks for itself. Personally, it has been an amazing experience to work with these six artists over the past three years. They openly gave their time and their thoughts, allowing me to offer you a closer look into their art than might otherwise have been possible. I only hope you get as much enjoyment out of Starart as the artists and I have."

Four sentences. Not very enlightening. Tactfully keeping my voice out. Don't you agree? Oh shit...I forgot, I asked you not to read this post. I bet a couple of you are reading, even though I asked you not to. You're curious to see why I don't want you to read it, aren't you? Okay, I'll tell you. But then you have to promise to stop reading. Promise?

I don't want you to read it because it's too damn personal. Not the kind of thing I want 'out there.' Fuck. It's embarrassing. So, I'd really appreciate it if you stop reading. Right now. This very second.


Now that I'm alone...I have a problem. Actually, a better word would be:
co·nun·drum (k-nndrm) n. A paradoxical, insoluble, or difficult problem; a dilemma; a difficult problem [syn: riddle, enigma, brain-teaser]

A conundrum I've been struggling with for a couple of weeks. Ever since Peter White told me Peter Wood was dead and I had to go back into my Al Stewart pictures and see what I had of him. Originally, I only glanced at the shots as I scanned the negs into little contact sheets. Then I scanned one of the backstage group shots and barely looked at it before I emailed it to Peter White. But as I inferred in my 06/06/06 post, I had an instant recognition when I saw Peter Wood's name in the email Peter White sent back. And even more-so when I actually 'looked' at the group shot but part of that recognition was an indescribable "oh, shit" feeling. As I went deeper into the pictures, the "oh, shit" feeling intensified. I know I'm not supposed to put pictures up here that will probably be in the book...but since no one is reading this post, I guess it's okay.

First there was this:
No big deal. It's a picture of me. I must have taken it in a mirror. Not something I would normally do, but hey, we were partying backstage. Maybe I was bored and...wait a second...that's not me in a mirror. Look at the camera. It's vertical and the picture is horizontal. And the "Pentax" name is not reversed. And I wear my watch on my left wrist. I didn't take this picture.

Then there was this:
A picture of Peter Wood. Wait another freakin' second. The picture of me is horizontal but my camera is vertical and the picture of Peter Wood is vertical but his camera is horizontal. Ah Ha...memory fade in...we took pictures of each other taking pictures of each other. How cute is that? What the...?...I distinctly remember my guitar-type camera strap and that funky flash mount. That's my camera he's using! Then whose camera am I using? I have no idea. And how did I end up with the negatives? No clue.

I admit, my memory is a little fuzzy when it comes to some of the people I shot. There were a lot of bands, in a very short period of time. But some of my memories are crystal clear. Like my Led Zeppelin encounter. And of course, Chris Parker, Paul Butterfield and Michael Bloomfield. And the memories that aren't as clear generally materialize as soon as the pictures come to life. And that's what happened with my Peter Wood photos...partially. I definitely remember him. His voice. The goofing around. It's right there in the photos.

There's an inordinate number of backstage pictures that he took of me, like this:

There's even a more inordinate number of backstage pictures that I took of him, like this:
And that "oh, shit" feeling still hanging over me. So, when I met with Peter White, I had a hidden agenda. I hoped he could shed some light on the backstage hijinx. Sadly, he told me out of all the band members, he was least close with Peter Wood. But as I opened up photo after photo, he did say, "Wow, he was really flirting with you, wasn't he?" I have this nagging feeling that I saw Peter Wood again. Like he came back to Vancouver on his own. Or at least we were in touch, aside from the Al Stewart concert. Fuck. I don't know.

So, that "oh, shit" feeling remains...along with one question...

Did I sleep with Peter Wood?

I am so glad no one is reading this.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Do Ya Think I'm Morbid?

I met up with Peter White this week (the former member of Al Stewart's band from my 06/06/06 post) to show him the pictures of the Vancouver show. He told me he had been reading the blog and found it very entertaining. Thanks, Peter.

He also mentioned that maybe I'm a bit morbid - that maybe by sending him the email with the band photo, I was hoping someone would be dead. The comment was made in passing, very casually, but it stuck with me. If the thought occurred to him, it's probably occurred to most of you. Hell, it even occurred to me. Am I being morbid?

When the title first popped into my head, I thought it was really catchy. And a catchy title, whether you're writing a book or a screenplay, is extremely important. I admit, the title could lead one to think I am hoping all the people I photographed systematically drop dead between now and my publication date. Wouldn't that be great for sales? Yeah sure, that and the FBI on my ass 24/7.

To tell you the truth, I was happy with the number of dead rock stars I had when I started the project - before I began the arduous task of going through the picture boxes and doing the research - back when I did my little book proposal and the number off the top of my head was 20. I'm not pulling out the pom-poms every time I find a new dead person to add to my list. And I'm certainly not sticking pins into any rock star voodoo dolls. But let's face it. Everybody's got to go. You, me and the guy next door. So, my question is: why do we associate death with being morbid? Why is it the forbidden conversation? And, do ya think I'm morbid?
P.S. to Rod think there's a song in the title of this post?

Monday, June 19, 2006

Dear Ronnie,

I have felt the urge to write you since last week, when I heard you entered a rehab facility...yet again. I hope the picture I posted of you with a margarita in your hand and a bottle of tequila (pronounced: tekillya) under your arm didn't drive you back to the drink. I suppose it was in bad taste to elicit humorous captions on such a photo, especially now that I know you were in the midst of falling off your little red wagon. For that, I apologize.

But, I have decided this same photo - the one that my readers have been using as their inspiration for tasteless jokes - could be used to demonstrate my own personal feelings toward your current situation. And to do so, I've written my own, more appropriate caption.

"If you take even one tiny little sip of that demon alcohol,
I swear I'll put you over my knee and spank you!"

I'm not kidding, Ronnie. Listen to me. I DO NOT WANT YOU TO BE IN MY NEW BOOK! Even though I have tons of great pictures of you (remember the ones I took of you in your apartment on Ave Victor Hugo in Paris, sitting in the window sketching?) and lots and lots of stories I could tell (no, I'm not going to talk out of school), and even though your presence in the book would certainly up my sales, I WANT YOU TO STAY ALIVE! Honestly. I'd rather be on the guest list for your next art opening than on the guest list for your funeral. So, QUIT DRINKING! And if you're doing any drugs, quit them too. You are much more fun and way cuter when you are sober. Trust me.

With love and affection,

Friday, June 16, 2006

What's In The Box?

Additional garage cleaning turned up this box. (Side note: that hasn't been my address or phone number for a really long time. If you want to send me money or talk to me by phone, shoot me an email and I'll let you know how to find me. Also, please don't call me Debby, unless you want me to punch your lights out.)

So, what's in the box? My oh my, it's full of art (can I call it that?) that I created way back when. By no means do I consider myself a real "artist" - I reserve that term for the Michaelangelos of the world - but I thought it might be fun (read: stupid) to post a few samples of my work. Feel free to critique...I can take it.

When I lived in Toronto, (around the time I started taking pictures) I spent a lot of time in the coffee houses listening to live music and doodling in my sketchbook with my rapidiograph pens. Here's one of my music inspired drawings:The first piece of graphic art I was paid to do was a poster for a Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show concert. They were the band that ended up on the cover of Rolling Stone because of their hit record, On The Cover of the Rolling Stone.
I did not do the drawing on the cover of Rolling Stone. But I did my own cheap rip-off for the concert poster. The promoter could only afford two-color printing so I used black and red on yellow paper. Be was my first time.
Not sure if this next drawing/poem(?) was done in Toronto or Vancouver. Click on the drawing and you'll see a bigger version and be able to read the writing. If my words make sense to you, please explain them to me.
Next, my first magazine cover...okay, back cover. I'm glad I found this because the original slide is missing. I was hired to shoot pictures of singer/songwriter Doug Steiger in Vancouver. No problem. Except, when I met him to do the shoot, he suggested we do it at Wreck Beach. Uh, isn't that a nude beach? Yup. Yikes. I think he wanted to be one with nature. Fortunately, he didn't ask me to take my clothes off. It was a tough job (watch my nose grow), but somebody had to do it.
I love the Eagles. I shot them a couple of times but didn't remember doing this drawing, until I opened the box.
I also played around with hand lettering. Creating band logos for fun.
I must have been working on my book when I did this one, since it's from '76 and done in San Francisco. BTW, I was not on acid when I did this one. I'm just a natural born freak.
Ditto for this one:
Done from a photograph, my first attenpt at a color pencil portrait. Do you know who it is?
A quick sketch of Ron Wood - me drawing him drawing - done at his house:
And last but not least, another done from a photograph and I assume (hopefully) you can figure out who it is...

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Real Estate

Wherever I travel, I always imagine what it would be like to live there. Last week I spent several days in the Bay area. It's really expensive to live there. Maybe because of the great views.

I've always been drawn to Marin. Michael Bloomfield lived in Mill Valley. I drove around Mill Valley on Saturday and then stopped at the Swedish bakery (yummy) in Tiburon.

Up the road from Tiburon is Larkspur. You can buy a 1-bedroom condo for half a million:
Or, a 3-bedroom house for 1.5 million:Out of your price range?
A little further down the road, you can have this view for free:
This manse on the hill could be yours:
Overlooking the bay:
Did I mention it's a gated community?

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Wake Me Up When It's Over

Nearing the end of an exhausting trip to San Francisco. Sitting at the Starbucks in the tiny village of Pt. Richmond. How tiny? A triangle shape with a big hill on one side and train tracks on the other two sides. Two or three streets make up the town. There's a pub next door to Starbucks. It closes at 9pm. The Starbucks closes at 7pm. I assume the restaurants all shut down at 6:30 after the early-bird specials.

I'm not staying in the village but this is the closet Starbucks to my hotel. The hotel that advertised WiFi but forgot to mention that it's only in the lobby. And my email program won't let me send from their server. A few nights ago I needed to send an email. We drove to the Starbucks. It was 8:30pm. That's when I found out they close at 7. I sat in the car out front and hooked into the t-mobile and took care of business. As we tried to leave the village, the train track arm descended, blocking the street. We were the only car on the road. We stopped. And waited. The train finally rolled into the intersection. Then it stopped. Right in the middle of the street. It just sat there. And we just sat there. No way out. Like the Twilight Zone. Trapped in a little village. Waiting for the Children of the Damned to surround the car.

Met with the owner of the San Francisco Art Exchange yesterday. They rep some of Ron Wood's art and lots of rock photogrphers. Hopefully, we will do something together in the not-too-distance future. I had a sneak peek at Bill Wyman's photographs that are going up in the next few days. Nice work. And limited edition prints are available for purchase. If you are in the Bay Area between now and the end of July, stop by and check out his show.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Yesterday, I made it through to the end of the neg sheets, except some that have multiple bands on them and a few stragglers that are in single sleeves as opposed to sheets. When I looked at my two sheets of Al Stewart - remember Year of the Cat? - I saw a bunch of backstage shots including a few of me (no idea who I let use my camera) so decided to scan them. When I saw this zany character's face......I instantly remembered everything about him. Which was: he was the happiest musician I ever met and he liked to have fun, as evidenced by this second photo:
...oh, and he didn't seem to mind me leaning on him.

The only thing I didn't instantly remember about him was his name. I immediately googled Al Stewart and found an 'alumni' link on his site. And as soon as I saw the name, Peter White, I was 99% sure that was his name. Clicked on the link to Peter White's website. Looking at the pictures on his site, I'm now 99.5% sure it's him. And lo and behold, he lives in L.A. I decide to email him a backstage group shot, with the 'I can get out of this if I have the wrong guy statement' of "I believe that's you on the left." Generally, I don't mind being wrong...I just don't like the feeling of humiliation that goes along with it. So, in my email, I left out the part that I totally remembered him because he was the happiest musician I ever met, etc., just in case.

Peter wrote back and indeed he is who I thought. And he graciously accepted my offer to show him all the photos I took of the show, so hopefully we will get together soon. He was also kind enough to officially identify everyone in the photo, including Peter Wood (who I also instantly remembered). And sadly, he informed me that Peter had passed away in 1993.

On top of that news, I just heard that Billy Preston passed away today. I took down the picture of him with George Harrison because I think it may be the only one I have of him so I need to save it for the book. Hopefully, you all had a preview look.

So, that makes 10 additions to my dead rock star (and blues and country and jazz) list, expanding it to a whopping 42. That's just way too many talented people in proportion to the number of bands I shot. I really hope the list ends here:

Michael Bloomfield
Marc Bolan (T-Rex)
John Bonham (Led Zeppelin)
Tim Buckley
Paul Butterfield
Ronnie Barron (Paul Butterfield Better Days, John Mayall)
Albert (the Master of the Telecaster) Collins
Papa John Creach (Jefferson Airplane)
John Denver
Tom Evans (Badfinger)
John Fahey
Rory Gallagher
Jerry Garcia (Grateful Dead)
Lowell George (Little Feat)
Maurice Gibb (Bee Gees)
Mike Gibbins (Badfinger)
Keith Godchaux (Grateful Dead)
Pete Ham (Badfinger)
George Harrison (The Beatles)
Alex Harvey
Bob Hite (Canned Heat)
Hollywood Fats
John Lee Hooker
Waylon Jennings
Terry Kath (Chicago)
Rick Nelson
Harry Nilsson
Gene Pitney
Billy Preston
Hank Snow
Darrell Sweet (Nazareth)
Stanley Turrentine
Jane Vasey (Downchild Blues Band)
Hock Walsh (Downchild Blues Band)
Muddy Waters
Carl Wilson (Beach Boys)
Dennis Wilson (Beach Boys)
Jimmy Witherspoon
Peter Wood (Al Stewart, Roger Waters)
Tammy Wynette
Mighty Joe Young
Frank Zappa

Friday, June 02, 2006


Jammed all the way through the M's of my black and white neg sheets today, cataloging the bands on my excel spreadsheet and googling to make sure eveyone is alive and well.

Then I got to the N's and that meant Nazareth. A sheet with a mere 4 negative strips. I googled and went to their official web site. Wow. Another band from the seventies that's still together and touring. I click the button labeled "History" and immediately had a 'feeling.' I read slowly, every word, not wanting to get to the end. The part I knew, for some reason, was coming. And there it was. The inevitable..."As the Naz machine began climbing to the top again, tragedy struck! On April 30, 1999 founding member and drummer Darrell Sweet died suddenly from a major heart attack."

Fire up the scanner. Turns out I only shot 22 frames of Nazareth. And drummers were always the hardest to shoot. I'm glad there are a couple of good ones of Darrell I can put in the book. In the meantime, here's one of the alive and well lead singer, Dan McCafferty:

Which leads me to an important book question:

My book is Everybody I Shot Is Dead. Would it be appropriate to put photos of musicians that are alive in the book? For example, the other members of Nazareth? And shots of Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin in addition to the John Bonham shots? I appreciate your input!

Make that 3/4 of Badfinger Dead

Wiki-poo-dia failed to report that Badfinger bassist/vocalist is also dead. Tom Evans hanged himself on November 19, 1983. Tragic.

(thanks to Harry F. for pointing out my faux pas)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Rough Day

I can only handle so much death in one day. As if learning four out of the five identified Blues Jam players were dead wasn't enough...

I decided to spend today organizing my big pile of negative sheets. That meant alphabetizing them, creating a data sheet in excel, maybe scanning a few and doing a little dead or alive researching as I went along. James Cotton happened to be on the top of the pile and since his name came up in the comments of the Blues Jam post, I did a contact scan and also sent an email to his management to see who the band members were...just in case.

Next on the pile was Ace. They were the band from England that had a huge hit with the song, "How Long" - you know, the one that sounded like a love song? I didn't scan them yet - they're still alive - but I did take lots of pics of them including backstage stuff. They were cool guys. I distinctly remember meeting them for breakfast the morning after the concert. Didn't do a sleepover or anything like that, just had breakfast with a couple of them. That's when they told me "How Long" was written about an incident within the band that almost broke them up.

Next on the pile: Badfinger. Another English band. Do you remember Badfinger? That little Beatle-prodigy foursome that signed with Apple in '68 and had there first hit, "Come And Get It," written for them by McCartney?

So, I look them up on Wikipedia and am casually reading through a bio when I come to a section titled, "Death and Decline." What? The next line read, "On 24 April 1975, Pete Ham, financially broken and despairing, hanged himself in his garage studio in Surrey." Shit. That's horrible. And by the way, what igloo was I hiding out in when that came across the wire? Not even a year had passed since I shot them.

Time to scan a contact and find the Pete Ham shots. As I scan, I keep reading. Get to the last line, "Mike Gibbins died in his sleep at his home in Orlando, Florida on October 4, 2005." Are you kidding? Two out of four, dead? Right now, I'm about two thirds the way through scanning. Here's a little taste of Badfinger:
Tom Evans, Joey Molland, Pete Ham, Mike Gibbins

How Beatle-esque is this? Looks like they could have been playing on Ed Sullivan...or maybe it's my living room.

Sadly, this makes 6 new adds today to my already crowded dead rock star list. Think I'm done for the day. Chuck Berry is next on the stack. Last time I checked, he was still breathing. Please stay home tonight, Chuck. And first thing tomorrow, call your doctor for a check-up...just in case.