Five Things: Wednesday 22nd May

RIP George Jones: A memory of the Wembley Country Festival, 1981
Simon and I loved the Killer, Jerry Lee Lewis, and were prepared to endure any amount of maudlin production-line Nashville filler to see him. However, the bill at the 1981 International Festival Of Country Music (© Mervyn Conn) at the Empire Pool was pretty good, and Carl Perkins’ set led into Jerry’s, the highlight of which was a staggeringly over-the-top rendition of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”. The icing on the cake, however, was the towering (but pretty short, if memory serves me well) performance by the legendary George. I had inveigled a press pass and snuck into the VIP section, and found myself next to Elvis Costello, who was there to pay homage, I’m guessing. Two frames, a rather evil-eyed look from one of Elvis’s companions, and I concentrated on the stage. My favourite shot, though, is of Simon, resplendent in bootlace tie and Jim Reeves badge…


Michael Hann v Ginger Baker, Guardian video
I’m with Ginger on this. It’s not nearly as awkward as The Guardian claims, and Hann should have realized from question one that he needed to be a bit less rock writerly. The business of being a working musician is often about money, and survival, not art, so asking him questions like “Your time in Africa – it seems from the film to be very, very important to you, was that the time when you felt most musically fulfilled?” may not be the best starting point, especially as it implies that anything post that period was a let down…

Bowie Fan album, £650
Weirdest item in the Selfridges pop-up Bowie shop.


A Week of Gifts…
Lloyd gives me Imelda May’s plectrum: “Hubbard, my oldest friend from Hull, is mad about Imelda. He went to see her and after the gig got chatting and she gave it to him – it’s the one she used.”


And Weston kindly gives me these cigarette cards of guitarists, part of a set issued by Polydor in the seventies. It reminds me that I need to download the Shuggie Otis outtakes that Richard Williams writes so well about here.


Ladies & Gentlemen, Henry Diltz
I’m introduced to Henry, legendary lensman of Laurel Canyon, whose iconic pictures of The Doors, Buffalo Springfield, The Eagles, Joni Mitchell and CSN&Y were the visual soundtrack to my adolescence. I ask him when he switched his focus from musician (he was a member of the Modern Folk Quartet, playing banjo) to photographer. He tells me that Steve Stills mentioned that the Springfield were going to do a gig at Redondo Beach, so he tagged along to take pictures for the slide show that he would do for his friends every weekend, showing pictures of L.A. itself and sometimes its musicians, who were often among those gathered in Henry’s house. The Springfield came outside from their sound check and he asked if they’d pose in front of a large mural. A magazine heard that he had some shots and paid him $100. Realising he could make this photography thing work he started taking more and more and, often with designer Gary Burden, photographed his friends album covers. I loved hearing about his time playing banjo for Phil Spector: Spector was interested in the nascent folk-rock scene and took The Modern Folk Quartet into the studio, where they recorded a Harry Nilsson song, “This Could be the Night”. Brian Wilson dropped by whilst they were recording it, in his pajamas and dressing gown, and sat there with the song on repeat, mesmerized. Spector, very paranoid about any song he released, afraid that it wouldn’t scale the heights of his previous successes, and would therefore damage his reputation, never put it out. But Henry did get to play banjo sitting next to Barney Kessel in the guitar section of the Wall Of Sound, on the Righteous Brothers “Ebb Tide” among others…

Henry introduces the film Legends Of The Canyon at the Mayfair Hotel, tiny Canon camera always at hand

Henry introduces the film Legends Of The Canyon at the Mayfair Hotel, tiny Canon camera always at hand

There’s a very good interview with Henry here, from rockcellarmagazine, that tells the stories in more detail.

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