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The Bob Lefsetz Podcast: Kenny Aronoff
Aronoff (Courtesy of Christopher Lee/CAL Entertainment)

The Bob Lefsetz Podcast: Kenny Aronoff

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Yup, that guy, the one you see on seemingly every TV show, backing up every famous musician.

But Kenny paid his dues.

He grew up in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, he opines on Alice’s Restaurant in the podcast, and ultimately attended the Aspen Institute, Indiana University and was even a member of the Tanglewood orchestra.

But he turned down a seat with the symphony in Jerusalem…

To play rock and roll.

That’s right, Kenny’s classically trained. He not only reads music, he writes out charts for every session.

So he got his start with Mellencamp, and was not allowed to play on his first album with the band, but… He’s responsible for the drums on “Jack and Diane,” from “American Fool,” the follow-up, Mellencamp’s first hit album, upon which Kenny played.

And when Mellencamp said he was retiring…

Kenny built a session business, flying all over America, playing drums on seemingly every record made, including those by Melissa Etheridge and John Fogerty, who Kenny is on tour with right now.

He tells a great story about being in India and making it for a gig with Fogerty the next day in Texas, there are a lot of close calls like this, but when you’re in demand…

And Kenny has the gift of gab, he tells a great story. You sit with him and he makes you his friend.

You see it’s all about relationships, and delivering when asked.

Kenny’s a pro.




Video of Kenny doing his slo-mo Dino Danelli:


Responses from Bob’s readers. Please note that these responses are not edited for grammar, spelling or content. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the CelebrityAccess staff.

Re: Kenny Aronoff-This Week’s Podcast

I spent a year on and off the road performing with the great John Fogerty. I knew Kenny from the LA music scene, but spending day in and day out with the man on the road opened my eyes to what it really took to be a musician. You see, I spent most of my life in vans tearing up the road with four dudes playing original music to anyone anywhere (mostly in Midwest bars and clubs). I actually moved back to Kansas City to help my family out and left LA behind me when I got a call to play guitar for John. I was way out of my league but extremely honored to be on that stage. Every night I couldn’t believe how fortunate I was. But as much as John was the legend, nearly everyone I came in contact with asked me what it was like to play with Kenny Aronoff. And I told them straight out, one of the hardest working musicians I’ve ever known. I remember being in some small town touring hockey arenas in Canada with John and on our day off Kenny hitched a ride to another town to give a drum shop and back the next day to play with John —not even skipping a beat! Then I remember sitting with the band on the private jet for the tour and doing my best to not seem like the novice I was, and watched Kenny with his lap top out and headphones on and a pencil and notepad out charting something. I asked him and he said he was playing with Clapton doing some Levon Helm tribute…what?! Then almost everyday after that I would see him working on something…anything — always keeping busy. He hardly slept and the one night the band slipped out to see a movie on our night off in Toronto I was floored that he joined us.

Kenny has the most amazing work ethic and knows everyone, even if he can’t remember your name… he knows you. And he never forgets! Love ya, Kenny!

Great podcast Bob!

David George


Re: Kenny Aronoff-This Week’s Podcast

I’m nobody in this business, just a fan. I met Kenny before one of Mellencamps post heart attack comeback shows in Columbia, Missouri. John was a douche when I asked for an autograph for a friend (“it’s what I live for”), Elaine was pregnant at the time and nice, but Kenny is who I really wanted to meet. I walked up to him and said hello, and told him of my appreciation for his stellar work on Brian Setzers first solo album, The Knife Feels Like Justice. We spent the next half hour talking about the different tracks on that album, as well as some of his other work. He had someone get me one of his used drumsticks and signed it for me. A true class act and one of my favorite rock and roll memories.

Ken Baum.


Re: Kenny Aronoff-This Week’s Podcast

Kenny is one of my favorite human beings on planet earth and a neighbor. We have done a LOT of sessions and live work together over the last 30+ years… he is also one of the sickest -funniest cats I know and this is ME saying this! hahaha
We also play in a band together Supersonic Blues machine Fabrisio Grossi put together with Kenny with a roving cast of guitar players like, me, Billy Gibbons and Robben Ford, Walter Trout, and ….all fun stuff. Play a few live shows make some money and laugh a LOT.
Our lives don’t suck.

Yes Kenny reads music. Really fucking well to the point he even writes in his drum fills! He DOES his homework and I have rarely is ever heard him make a mistake .. especially under pressure! THAT is the key. many great players but some see a red light and fill their undies with fear and last nights dinner or todays lunch!

Many years ago…decades.. we were doing a Belinda Carlisle record and I got ahold of his music on a break and .. this was pop song.. and wrote in some psycho Frank Zappa like drum fills and we came back from the break to do another take and he was playing and reading the part and then stopped and started laughing at me cause he KNEW only I would do such a thing.
Another time I planted a bunch of raw chicken wings in his carry on bag when he was freaked out about finishing his parts to catch a flight to another gig. He didn’t find them, till he was on the plane! They had grown some hair by then and started to smell. hahaha
I had my other sick ass brother in humor Stan Lynch in on this gag as he was producing a record we were on.
Its funny what runners at studios have to procure for the sessions. hahaha

God we have had so much fun and they paid us for it! ( we always got the job done but..)
I don’t do many sessions anymore. I sort of retired from that 25 years ago but I do one once in awhile.. especially when my friends are there and Kenny is a soul brother. Love him.
His book is great.
Mine comes in July. Uh oh…. hahaha

Happy Days Bob and Kenny.. blow me.

Luke xx
(Steve Lukather)


Re: Kenny Aronoff-This Week’s Podcast

Saw Fogerty Sat night in Jersey….. my 16 yr old son is a Creedence freak ..his favorite acts as of today are The OJays , Travis Scott and Creeedence..anyway halfway through the drummers so Samson turned to me and said ” Wow Dad he is really good ” ….I was slack jawed thinking to myself ..” Who is this guy ?? ” ….Thanks for the 411 !!!

Joseph Carvello


Re: Kenny Aronoff-This Week’s Podcast

Kenny is not only a great player, he’s a great guy. When I was the Program Chair at Minneapolis Media Institute, he came by and talked with my students in my career class about work ethic. No better guy than Kenny to do that! I had absolutely NO budget, and he didn’t care! Kenny is that passionate.

St. Paul Peterson


Re: Kenny Aronoff-This Week’s Podcast

One thing you should mention about Kenny is what he told the students of Musicians Institute about dedication. He said “If I have a gig on Christmas Day, then Christmas is on December 26. I take EVERY gig.” Someone asked him how he balances work and personal life, and he said he doesn’t…that his work life is number one and everything else comes after that. If you don’t have that attitude, then you are going to lose to the likes of Kenny Aronoff every time. I’ve had friends that have played with him, and they’ve said nothing but great things. He’s reliable, he’s solid and, sometimes most importantly, he’s a great hang.

-Christopher Maloney


Subject: Re: The North Water

After years of following you, I am
responding to this
adventure theme…
It takes me back to
a record Mountain
released in 1971
which described
(Metaphorically) the
journey of a rock band riding the waves of the ROCK
their lives holding on to the Great White whale ( the Big One ..the HIT SINGLE..) and attempting to navigate their career..
Some of our brothers & sisters
never survived those ocean waves..
They never returned ..and I ask you ( and your readers) is it all worth it…???
Corky Laing


From: Jesse McRae
Subject: Computerized medical records

I’m 75, with a medical history like a train wreck.

Sick and abused childhood, spent 5 years of my teens confined to bed with kidney disease. 400 boils at a time; lost all my teeth at 14, ruptured appendix and sepsis at 15, etc., etc. Have had countless other diseases, issues, surgeries, procedures, car wrecks, a motorcycle wreck, COPD, stage 3 prostate cancer and multiple other diagnoses. Road musician for 30 years. Ex-druggie and alcoholic, 4 marriages and innumerable toxic relationships, more than 100 addresses in 35 years, PTSD, BPD, Clinical Depression and several other psychiatric acronyms. 16 years as a full-time single parent. Major allergies to most medications, including all anti-depressants. 15 surgeries in the last 18 months alone, and all that is just the tip-of-the-iceberg.

So there’s nothing I hate worse in this world than having to go to a new doctor and explain just the highlights of my medical history; to do a proper job of it, I’d have to book an 8 hour appointment, and we all know that’s not going to happen!

So I love computerized medical records! I’m fortunate to have a superb team of doctors who all agree with me that (in my case at least) their job is not to keep me alive as long as possible, but to help me get the most out of whatever time I have left. In a way, it’s kind of a series of band-aid solutions, but it works well for me and for everyone involved in my care.

I can’t even begin to imagine how much more difficult my life would be without CMRs. I vote YES!


From: Bob Grunow
Subject: Re: Computerized Medical Records

Your right Bob. Go to Doctors. My brother got prostate cancer. So sad, it’s very aggressive. He told me to go, I found out I have it. It make you think about how fast life goes by. He’s 64, I’m 65.
Wishing you good health. Keep up your great stories. I enjoy every one of them. From one Bob to another.


From: Mauro Vincenti
Subject: Re: Computerized Medical Records

Dear Mr. Lefsetz,

thanks for all of your inspiring writing, I joined for the music but I stayed for the stories.

I work as a radiology information system administrator in an hospital in Italy, and the kind of medical data ‘unity’ you described makes me cry in despair. We have the tools to achieve such a system, but the burocracy destroyed any possibility to do so. Each of Italy’s twenty regions has its own information system, and they do not speak betweeen them. Also, very few of these systems are really ‘region’ wide, but for example here in Rome alone there are four district, each of them unaware of the electonic existence of the others. Patients are required to carry with them all of their documentation each time, but they very seldom do. In at least one occasion I saw a patient refuse to show his records, otherwise the Doctor would just ‘copy’ what the previous one stated.

Getting sick in Italy may not break your bank, but it will often break your soul. We are going very fast toward the precipice, and I am starting to consider that not such a bad thing.

Best wishes on your health,
Mauro Vincenti.


Re: Computerized Medical Records

I don’t think it necessarily has to be a trade-off between privacy and efficiency. I think the real question is who owns our data as right now, it seems to be whichever company’s platform we’re using said data on.

If you have time, you might be interested in the way Estonia approaches this:

Ian Courtney

(note-this article is MIND-BLOWING, at least skim it!)


Subject: Musi app

Have you heard about this app?

I was asked to speak at an “unusual career fair” today and got to talk to 300 11-14 year olds.

The #1 answer I got for “how do you listen to music?” was “on my phone with Musi”

Seems to support the idea that “free” is very important, at least initially, to maximize reach to this demo (Spotify free tier was #2 for listening).

#3 was tied for SoundCloud and YouTube (which interestingly is what Musi pulls from)

Only ONE kid said Apple Music.

Henry Chatfield


Subject: Re: Today’s Uber Driver

Hi Bob,
I have been reading for years, but never had any reason to reply. I have no connection to the music business, but a friend who was once in the business recommended your newsletter years ago and I have been happily reading ever since.
I am Canadian, not from Toronto, but from Montreal. My mother’s family is from TO and my cousins and extended relations are there, so I know the city quite well.
But I have been living in India for the past 22 years -and I loved this letter. Short, but you captured so much about the main issues facing people like Vineeta. The culture shock between parents and Canadian- born children can be huge. Russel Peters has some good material about this. But from my reverse-immigrant perspective the cultural dislocation you have tried to describe is very accurate. There is so much that is ‘the norm’ in India that is unspoken, and so often unseen by visitors and tourists.
I think Vineeta sounds amazing. There are not a lot of people who would choose to spend their free time the way she has.
But in India, there is no ‘me’ time, there is no way to be alone, and adults often have never in their lives been alone, like by yourself with none else in the house, dance-to-Madonna-in-your-underwear-really-loud-alone, even in their own homes. I have friends who moved to India for a few years and couldn’t re-adjust when they returned to their home Western country. They found everyone so isolated and alone. They missed the engagement and shared responsibility for life.
Toronto is also amazingly multicultural, especially when you remember that in the 1970’s it has no multi-ethnic identity and they were pushing people in front of subway trains for being ‘pakis’, so the city has really come a long way in a generation and a half.
So, this short note of yours really resonated with me.
Shirin Petit
Mumbai, India


From: Carl Jacobson
Subject: Re: Today’s Uber Driver

Hi Bob, my wife drives Uber & Lyft and drives a Mercedes van. We bought
the vehicle because it had the right configuration and settings for our
family, and she drive for a living because it works around her schedule
with the kids. It also gives her a chance to get out, meet people and
learn Los Angeles, which we?re new to. Her customers are always saying
“This is the nicest Uber I?ve ever been in.”


Subject: Re: Today’s Uber Driver

Please keep anonymous:

I drove for Lyft last summer in between my “normal” gigs. I would have done it forever if it had paid more. I met really interesting people. I came home every night feeling like I had helped someone. I picked up one woman (from Armenia) at the ER, whose husband had just beat the crap out of her and she had nowhere to go, I took her to a shelter. I picked up a young actress who had just found out her father died in a plane crash, 10 minutes before; we went and sat in a park in Beverly Hills. I spent the entire day driving a super famous ABC news journalist around to her various interviews (and wait for her). Got to pick her brain and learn a lot about how hard these folks work. Made more in a tip from her than I did all week in fares. I drove 4 of the brass from the Voice, got one friend of mine a walk on audition. Yeah I worked Burbank a lot.

Only one super horrible person (a Trump supporter) who was calling people the “n” word out the back seat window as I drove him to the airport. Most people were super appreciative and friendly. 99% had their heads in the right place about the White House. It helped that I had lived in LA most of my life and was able to take back roads and show interesting places to folks. Not to mention some good stories. Got me to thinking, if I am unemployed again, perhaps I’ll get a job working for one of those Starline Tours! Why not? I made more in tips than I did in fares doing Lyft. People appreciated my cooler full of fresh plumeria blossoms (which I gave with a toothpick to put one behind their ear for anyone who wanted, cold water, oranges, face wipes and a parting gift which helped me deplete my stash of leftover cds in every genre. It was a summer to remember.

(name withheld by me)


From: Zach Leary
Subject: Re: Today’s Uber Driver

I had a brand new Tesla Model 3 deliver my Uber Eats last week. With all the extras. Didn’t make sense. All I could think of was that his parents bought it for him.


Subject: Re: This Is America

Working with Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino is one of the highlights of my career. When I first heard the song my mind was working overtime to process everything I was taking in sonically. I knew what I thought he was speaking about…when I saw the video my mouth fell open and my eyes welled up as he’s shown exactly what I felt listening to the song. He and Ludwig are amazing.

Kenneth H. Williams
WNP/Management Group


Subject: Nothing Without You

Hello Bob::You Hit it on the Head when you said,wrong band on the wrong label at the wrong Time..I had a front row seat as Manager for VALENTINE and OPEN SKYZ and lived through 3 label deals that I put together them..Got Valentine signed to Columbia Records and put them together with Neil Kernon to Produce their Debut album..There was a Nice Buzz till Don Ienner Came in as President and decided not to put out the Record..Took the Record To Giant where our Columbia Records A&R guy JOHN MRVOS landed..They were just getting started and barely staffed,and time there was short lived..Third Stop was RCA,where I met with RICK ALIBERTI,who had just entered into a label deal for Producer Richie Zito…Richie liked the Band,and he produced the album your mentioning here OPEN SKYZ..We could have Stayed with the name VALENTINE,but we all felt with a fresh start,a name change made sense.It might be 25 years later,but you made me feel like it was yesterday…Great Band to work with,and great Memories..Thanks for taking me back in time..

Louis Levin


Subject: Re: Nothing Without You

Regarding Open Skyz, I was honored to have written a couple of songs on their album (the single and title track – I believe I may have unintentionally named the band!). God bless Richie Zito, Gerard, Craig, Adam, Hugo and everyone involved in that forgotten gem. Proud to have helped in some small way.
Glen Burtnik


From: “Smith, Timothy, Sony Music”
Subject: Re: Nothing Without You

Bob – Appreciate you digging in our digital crates and shining a light on some long, lost jams.

Open Skyz is now available at digital service providers for streaming and download.



Subject: Re: A Pirate Looks At Forty

“Thanks” doesn’t seem at all adequate, but “Thanks” nevertheless!

In a forty-five-year career as a road musician and singer/songwriter I’ve sung most of Jimmy’s popular songs many times, always with a genuine love for the tunes and respect for JB’s talent and attitude.

Way back when, I missed a publishing deal in Nashville because they had just signed a hot young unknown songwriter named Jimmy Buffet, so I could easily have hated him, but, no way man!

Let’s face it, “Margaritaville, “Cheeseburger,” “Spider John” (actually a Willis Alan Ramsey song) and all those others that were so much fun to play, were also the bread and cheese that fed and sustained so many of us through the bars, tanks, toilets, and dives in which we had imprisoned ourselves – playing solo for a room full of drunks five hours a night for two weeks, then driving hundreds of Sunday miles to do it all again, often on borrowed money because once again our bar tab at the end of the gig exceeded our wages.

All for the privilege of a career often encased in chicken wire and marinated in 80 proof, powder, and pills.

In the ’70s & ’80s, we all carried a supply of Shacklee’s B-12 because it produced enough of a buzz to help a little when exhaustion and poverty held center stage and the good stuff was economically or logistically unavailable.

But “Pirate”? “Pirate” I’ve sung thousands of times, at least half of those times just for myself, because it was a song that nobody minded hearing two or three times a night, and that would get me through five fifty minute solo sets, throat burning, fingers bleeding, and hope fading, even when I was fortified with inhuman quantities of booze and other tangibles.

“Pirate”? Yeah, at 75 and in poor health, and after fifteen surgeries in eighteen months (part of the cost of that life I chose) I’d give anything to be able to get up on a stage and sing that song for the people (and for myself) one more time. And, like every other time, it would fire me up, calm me down, and reinforce my knowledge that “In your belly you hold the treasures few have ever seen” (then comes that gorgeous 2minor7 chord and the truth that never fails to bring tears) “Most of ’em dreams, Most of ’em dreams.”

Yeah, man, “Pirate” is the bomb!

Thanks Bob,

Jesse McRae


From: Harold Lepidus
Subject: Re: A Pirate Looks At Forty

Dylan & Baez.


From: Coleman Sisson
Subject: Re: A Pirate Looks At Forty

Bob Lefsetz listens to Radio Margaritaville? Wow! That is way cool. Jimmy and I started RM nearly 20 years ago on the internet. We started streaming shows right from the beginning and have streamed every show LIVE, for free, ever since. HK wasn’t thrilled about it but he left us alone. And guess what? Ticket sales went up. We were streaming over 28kb lines back then and Jimmy said that if we ever reached the beach or boats we’d know we’d succeeded. Then Sirius noticed us, we got our own channel, and then you COULD hear us on the beach and in boats and cars.

Three years ago, Jimmy decided we should do video broadcasts of all the shows live for free, so now we do that too. And we will continue to, especially now that we know Bob Lefsetz listens.?Thank you!


Subject: Re: A Pirate Looks At Forty

Hi Bob, ??
I’m lucky to play that song 8 times a week in the band at Escape To Margaritaville, a B’way musical based on Jimmy’s songs that opened in NYC in March. It’s a moving experience to play Pirate and the other songs in the show. Pirate gets me (and the audience) every time. ??Escape is a “jukebox musical”. The story was written / invented so that Jimmy’s songs could fit into the narrative. It’s a clever, cute story that goes deeper, just as Jimmy’s sings do. Like so many shows here in NYC, the acting is off the hook. I didn’t know Pirate before I started doing this gig, but I KNEW as soon as we started playing it that something special was happening.?
Of course, the NY Times theater critic hated the show. More than just hating it, he f-ing hated it. Yet, all my family and friends who’ve seen “Escape” love it and have a great time. Reviewers seem predisposed to hate juke-box musicals, and they can’t get past that. The Times guy felt compelled to write a follow-up piece (you can read all this on the Times site) after the Parrotheads “went after him”. At that point he doubled down on his dislike for the show. I’ll never know how or why the reviewer had such a nasty reaction, but I know this from being in the theater night after night: Jimmy Buffet is a songwriting force of nature. I guess like all things, it doesn’t speak to everybody, but I feel sorry for those who will miss out on the greatness.

All the best,

Larry Saltzman


From: Bob Rock
Subject: Re: Where Have All The Good Times Gone

Sorry Bob… “Pin-ups”is brilliant as is “Aladdin Sane”… just saying… Mick Ronson produced 2 Payola$ albums and toured with us warming up for Split Endz on the “Time And Tides” Canadian tour…. he was my biggest influence as a guitar player and my muse as a producer… for me it’s hard to find a fault in any music that Bowie and Ronson did together.. simply brilliant!!! BR


From: Chris Yamashiro
Subject: Re: Wolvesmouth

my name is chris yamashiro and i’ve been a reader of the letter for about ten years now. i went to college thinking i was going to work in the music industry… john hartmann was one of my mentors in undergrad at loyola marymount and i saw you speak in one of his classes. i graduated with a business degree in 2009 with no internships under my belt except for the experience i gained working at kxlu. as well you know, the music industry (especially the independent music industry, which i intended on going into) was melting as fast as the economy and i had to change course fast. i started cooking and haven’t looked back. i’ve been working for craig at wolvesmouth for nearly six years now and saw you when you came in for dinner last year. i don’t like to bother diners unless i have a reason to because you’re all to have a night out with friends or looking for an experience and it’s our job to provide what we can to help you find what you’re looking for. either way, i was excited to cook for you again last night. even though i don’t work in music and i have no intention of ever doing so, i still appreciate the lens that you view things through… your honesty and thoughtfulness has always been inspiring and your sense of humor is what keeps me reading. i really appreciate these kind words and will forward this along to craig. keep up the good fight and come back in soon.


From: Brian Rohan
Subject: Re: Tom Wolfe

I was Kesey’s lawyer. I picked up Tom Wolfe at the airport and drove him down to San Mateo County to see Kesey in jail. My daughter, 5 years old, promptly spilled a Coca Cola all over his white suit. The guy was such a gentleman. He never copped an attitude and I’ll tell you this, he never took notes. He only made one mistake in that book.



Subject: RE: Tom Wolfe

I interviewed Tom Wolfe for NBC News (I was a field producer at the time) at his upper East Side townhouse. This was back when personal video cameras were becoming popular (they were bulky things), and Wolfe had written a story about how in the future the entire city of London, England would be a theme park where people would videotape themselves all day and night with cameras attached to hats. Basically, Wolfe predicted the selfie and our need to video tape the experience, rather than enjoy the experience for itself. Mr. Wolfe was gracious and insightful and, as I recall, he didn’t mind me throwing in a few non-interview questions about “The Right Stuff.” I remember that interview because it was one of my favorite.

Philip A. Wasserman


Subject: Re: Tom Wolfe

Hi Bob,

I met the great Tom Wolfe only once, but so memorably, at a fitness club on New York’s upper East Side where we were both exercising. It was at least ten years ago and I recognised him even without his trademark white suit. He was thin and friendly and talked with a slight southern accent which was charming. I broke through when I told him that I too had published fiction in Rolling Stone (“Cold and Electric” Jan 1980) and that there weren’t many of us who could claim that honor. (Although I suppose you could count Rolling Stone regular Hunter Thomson as a fiction writer as well and, interestingly enough, when I did meet Hunter (like Tom only once) at a Rolling Stone Christmas Party he told me his favorite writer was, like me, F. Scott Fitzgerald. From Gatsby to Gonzo …) For me, Tom Wolfe was the first legitimate rock ’n roll author who actually thrived in the established literary world and more than “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test” it was his earlier collection of essays, “The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby”, that probably changed my life’s direction in some imperceptible way by treating my teen age obsessions with both seriousness and wit from a mature author’s perspective. I mean, he was writing about pop icons like radio DJ Murray the K (a star in the NY area) as “The Fifth Beatle” and declaring Phil Spector to be “The First Tycoon of Teen” and giving West Coast custom car designer Ed “Big Daddy” Roth his due respect. Although many of these essays had appeared previously in Esquire, having them bound all together in a actual hard cover book gave credence to what even back then I believed to be sacred. Tom was not only a brilliant writer but also a dandy who dressed in bespoke sartorial splendor – the rightful heir to Mark Twain in both style and substance I suppose!

I remember telling Tom that I was writing a new novel that took place in East Hampton and NYC in the 70’s when everything was changing, kind of inspired by Bonfire of the Vanities, with both fictional and real characters and he seemed genuinely pleased and interested and I promised to send him a copy when it came out …

From Paris,
Elliott Murphy


Subject: L.A. Times’ Tom Wolfe obit

Given your absolutely terrific column about Wolfe, you may be interested in Curwen’s piece.

Yes, that’s me being quoted about Tom, the same me who has a walk-on at the Acid Test Graduation in Tom’s book. (You can look it up. I’m mentioned, along with Catherine Milinaire of Vogue and a few others.) Tom called me before the event, wondering if I’d like to be there; I drove up from L.A. and, knowing full well the value of research, appropriated the one hand-written copy of the authorized guest list for Tom.

Oh, later you note that you read about “The Me Decade” in New York Magazine on the way to law school. In fact, Tom wrote it for Clay Felker’s companion magazine, New West. As Tom’s friend, and New West Senior Editor, I edited that piece, which ran in both New West and New York the same week (a little inside baseball).

As Tom would often write in his letters to me,

Keep ‘Em Flying!

Lawrence Dietz
Pasadena, California


From: Daniel Catullo
Subject: Re: American Idol


I read your piece on the Idol finale today. This is my world. I have filmed over 300 live concerts in my life and I am the Executive Producer/ Creator and Director of “Landmarks Live in Concert” which is on PBS, which is a music Docu-Series hosted by Chad Smith from Red Hot Chili Peppers. In my opinion, Music on TV has performed so poorly the past few decades, not because there is a lack of interest, but because of the cheesy- over produced nature of what the networks have been airing. When you take the authenticity out of the performance and “glam” it up with flashy sets, big light shows and over produced telecasts that steer away from the music itself, you get shows that are forgotten 24 hours later. Was there one “moment” over the past decade that you can honestly say “wow” to on any of these awards shows or variety programs? Was there a “moment” like the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show recently? Was there a “moment” like Nirvana on Unplugged recently? No.

Music somehow got lumped in with the award show and realty people and they took one of the last pure things and “Hollywoodized” it. You can put the Grammy Awards from 2003 on one screen and the 2017 Grammy Awards on another screen right next to it and guess what you have- the same show. It is the most “un-authentic” thing on TV and it happens to be Music’s biggest night. If Music is ever going to have a chance to come back like the way it dominated TV in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, then the networks need to start understanding their audience and also the artists themselves. Also stop only showing music performances as part of a realty show, competition show, award show or a cheesy event like NYE with Ryan Seacrest. Stop it already and go back to the basics!!! Go back to the time where people felt music in their soul and related to it. On our show, we try to show the artist in their purest form and stage shows at places that mean something to them. Until others start showing artists in a similar way and networks start taking risks, all genres will be in danger of ever finding a 30 year fan base that follow you throughout your career. Show me one Music show on TV that actually focuses on the Music itself and not some gimmick. Everything is singles-driven in the music business now and sadly anything TV related is now going the same way.

My 13 yr old Daughter doesn’t own one full length album, but has over 100 artists on her playlist on her phone. That is troubling to say the least. Artists can’t sustain a career off “hits” only. No wants to be in on the journey anymore, nor do they even listen to songs the way we did when we grew up. The same goes with Music television programs. Stop going for flashy moments and over produced pairings (especially on the Grammys- Jesus- enough already). Start showing the artist in an authentic manner and then maybe Music can have a chance in visual media. Until then, enjoy your favorite artist on TV as part of a gameshow or competition-based realty show (or you can watch Landmarks which is the exact opposite. 🙂 )

Best regards


Subject: Re: Gang of Youths at the Moroccan Lounge – spotify and rock. . .

hey bob, i took at class at UCLA extention with dina la polt. it was called music law or something but it was an attorney’s eye view of the business agreements and where’s the money.

actually, she’d be a great podcast guest for you. . . she’s a straight shooter who isn’t afraid to speak the truth and step on toes. and she’s fighting now for the music modernization act, are you aware of that one?

anyhow. there was a lot of discussion about how hip hop dominates streaming and theorizing about why that might be. one of her theories is that with a pop song you hear it once and get it, but with hip hop you have to hear it again and again to understand what they are saying. anyhow.

jay frank came in to speak one day and someone asked about the “is rock dead on spotify” question . . . . he said this. . . . (not exact quotes)

rock is not dead on spotify, but it’s hard for new bands to break though, because essentially rock fans can listen to 50 years of great rock, and the old people listen to the old stuff . . . etc. but a hip hop fan is going to listen to more recent things. i think he said classic hip hop for the current generation goes back to the first drake album. no one is going back to early ll cool j. (he’s mostly that guy on tv now.)

anyhow. your greta van fleet sentence had me want to reach out and share this.

-David Brownstein


From: Jim McGuinn
Subject: Re: Gang of Youths at the Moroccan Lounge

Bob –

I hadn’t really gotten the record when it first crossed my desk. Long songs, trying too hard to be anthems. Seemed like the wrong approach to rock music in this time of short attention.

But we had them on our day stage party for The Current at SXSW in March, and I fell in love – they do have anthems, the very best anthems you’ve seen played In years -seeing the band and Dave right now is what I imagine it was like to see Bruce in ‘74 or U2 in ‘80. Their set left me exhilarated and excited about the future of rock and roll again.

Plus, when I said I was from Minneapolis he immediately shared with me his love of Bob Mould and The Replacements – Big points when someone under 40 from another continent can name check an appreciation for our local heroes!

Sidebar: This year SXSW felt back to the music, and for the first time in years my favorite discoveries and sets were mostly rock – several from Australia and England like Shame, Touts, Stella Donnelly, Jade Bird, Gang of Youths, plus Low Cut Connie, Bodega, Naked Giants, Lucy Dacus from the US.

We came back from SXSW and immediately added Heart is a Muscle to full rotation on The Current, which I think made us the first major US station to start to really play them heavily. Three weeks later they did a sold out club in Minneapolis, and next time back they will play the legendary First Avenue (1500 cap). This has the potential to be one of the biggest rock development stories since Mumford and Sons (which The Current was also the first US station to give real airplay to). You could ask Danny Buch about it – HE was the real first believer, in both artists.

Glad you are on board! I imagine we might see this band playing arenas in the US by the end of their next album cycle. Our listeners to The Current are already on board.


(Sometimes I’ve asked you not to print my comments to you, but I live this band, so if my words can help them – and the other artists I listed – please feel free!)


From: Jeremiah Younossi
Subject: Re: Gang of Youths at the Moroccan Lounge

Let’s make a complicated thing sound more simple
Since the 90s commercial popular Hiphop has dominated the radio, owned the cars and walkmans, cd changers, lunch cafeterias at middle school, HS, college and been the life of the party from happy-hours to bdays to Corporate events to weekend-warriors going clubbing “living the life”… but young and talented counter-culture rock bands who play instruments on stage have-and-will always “own the live” because it’s a tradition that ONLY comes to life on stage with a crowd front and that wants to go deep. A crowd that wants to use there ears and tongue to taste the music not the Champaign. Rock fans make love to the music Hiphop fans make love to the lifestyle.

That’s the difference between the global cultural phenomenon of Hiphop and the modern rock n roll concert industry… and the same rule applies for streaming as it does for radio – Hiphop records and well produced and get played more because they sound better in da car and in da club!


Re: Women In The Music Business

You know, I read this yesterday and let it go by, but thought about it again when I had a business transaction with a man I know earlier today. This man can be very brusque, and has only had one relationship with a woman in the almost forty years I have known him. He berated me today when I asked about being paid for work I had already submitted, and I was certain that he would not have treated me in such a way had I been a man. I started to think about it, and I don’t recall many men having worked for him at all, so perhaps he feels that it is easier to not pay women on time because they are more easy-going. I never thought about it before.

Carolyne Mas


Re: Women In The Music Business

Guys have fucked up this world for thousands of years. How much worse can women do? Give em a chance.
Some will do better, I’m sure.

Rik Shafer


Re: Women In The Music Business

Meant to send this this morning… (Wrote it at 11pm and wanted to re-read with fresh eyes in the morning.)

These are the tough questions. I personally don’t mind off-color jokes, but I’ve always had guy friends so maybe I’m just used to it. If we’re strictly only talking about jokes and not verbal or physical threats or abuse, and not kiss and tell stories about real people either, I think someone getting their nose bent out of joint over an off-color joke is the same as me getting annoyed and feeling uncomfortable when my gym plays Christian pop music in the locker rooms. I don’t like it and it kind of makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up…like someone’s going to ask me if I’ve been saved or something. But at the end of the day, the Christian lyrics that make me uncomfortable (and the joke that makes someone else uncomfortable) aren’t hurting anyone. We all have to pick our battles in life. I have to decide: Whats more acceptable to me, putting up with hearing lyrics (or hearing jokes) that make me uncomfortable or the hassle of cancelling a gym membership and finding somewhere else to go (quitting and finding a new job)?

Additionally, IMO, everyone’s got to stop expecting other people, organizations, etc. to change to fit what we want. Again, if we’re not talking about about abuse or harassment here, just different personality types, then either put up with it or YOU make a change. Why waste energy fighting to change something that probably won’t change? (Again, because I’ve become conditioned to “asterisk-ing” myself… I’m not saying don’t fight to end abuse and harassment and discrimination. I’m talking about harmless personality traits that you may simply not like.)

When we’re talking about men and women in the workplace I think the key is to find the balance. Women (generally speaking) need to get less offended by the way men (generally speaking) act. That “bro” shit in my industry annoys the hell out of me. But I’m not OFFENDED by it. There is a difference between behavior we dislike or find annoying and offensive behavior.

We need to stop expecting people and industries to change their ways because #timesup and we want to be in your world but not play by your rules (again, personality/culture rules and norms…. not talking about abuse/harassment/discrimination). Men should look at what women bring to the table and maybe take on some of those qualities. Women should look at the way the men have done things and adopt some of those traits as well.

Also, as a side note… Women, stop undervaluing yourselves and fight for what you’re worth. Men, don’t be threatened by or fight against women entering your industry, see us as just another person competing with you for the same job/account/deal/whatever and make that push you to be the best. Because we’re sure as hell pushing ourselves for the same thing.

-Sarah Martin


Re: Women In The Music Business

Your blog post was stellar, but it is all of the responses that are filling my heart and giving me hope. One said “I see it as a call to recognize the need for compassion in general”. AGREED!

Early in my career I remember noticing just how many people in leadership positions were aggressive a-holes. All I ever wanted was to be successful in the music industry and it seemed like the only way. Over the years, I have found the people at the top who are kind, generous, and compassionate. You have to look harder for them, but they can be found. They are the TRULY successful people as they have figured out how to excel at what actually matters in life.

To achieve success through aggression/bullying is lazy and seems to ultimately be unfulfilling. The true goal is to be good to people as you rise. In 2018 we can value passion in the job but it must go hand in hand with compassion in the job.

Also…while we are having this conversation…take a significant paternity leave if you are financially able! We have to help level the playing field. This may not the most egregious or obvious gender issue we face day to day, but it has lasting effects and seems so damn fixable.

::steps down off soapbox::

Brad Akin


Re: Women In The Music Business

Is it really gender based or is about personal style? Ultimately the masses conform to the behavior they identify with. Little girls play with little girls and boys do the same, different interests, different perspectives. The old line: to be in the mood for sex, women need to feel protected, men just need a place.
In business, as you move up the ladder your style becomes a more important part of your personna and that is influenced by how your mentors behaved. Mo’s people had that same way about them. They projected calm and respect.

John Brodey


Re: Women In The Music Business

Respect for humanity, our individual intellectual capacity.
Recognition that life is an amazing gift.
Relegation of sexuality to its proper place within the walls of intimacy.

And the rest will take care of itself.

Marty Winsch


Re: Women In The Music Business

I’m a BluesRock woman that started in Rock and now getting some recognition from the niche market I’m in. I have been the band leader for years hiring and firing numerous men. I produce, arrange, write, hire for my records, mostly men. I gotta say I’m one of the band, I have heard every crazy gross sex joke there is and have laughed at them. Sometimes it’s “too much” but mostly it’s Rock-n-Roll as I’m from Detroit via Jersey City the world is filled with all male bands. It’s the Band that started this talk and these executives end up being in “the music biz” somewhere. I’m not saying it’s right but it was ‘a right of passage’ to tour, potty mouth, drunk, heathens in a van, duh.
There’s no college for that so just know where your going and where they have been. The good news is your writing about it and the biz is getting more human everyday but both sides exist as more music than ever is being created by women. Dig it

Eliza Neals


Re: Women In The Music Business

thanks for starting to think about this. it’s helpful to question attitudes especially when we constantly check those against “success” (whatever that might be).

please go after the women in music that have delivered the commonly applied “success” formula. check out beyonce, bjprk, st vincent, rhianna, madonna, taylor swift, adele and aretha as well as so many others i can’t mention due to space here.
all of them are effectively entrepreneurs as well as artists. i set you a challenge to find out what made them what they are and how they handle their business. i’m sure it will fascinating to learn this for all of us regardless of our gender, given or chosen…

eric harle


Re: Women In The Music Business

I don’t work in the music industry, but generally speaking the best bosses I’ve had were women, and I’ve had a lot of them. They tend to be more kind and compassionate, more concerned with the welfare of their staff and the synergy of their teams, and less about their own egos.

Best, Dave Wood


Re: Women In The Music Business

Loved the piece. And it is not just music.

Working with women is always a new experience. Men bring what are usually similar skills and a similar mindset to business. Not all of them and not all of the time; but the reality is that it is very rare for me to talk to a guy who is interested in thinking “outside the box” or creatively solving a problem.

I was struck by the comments of the guy running the touring buses. He likes working with women because they get the job done, are pleasant and well organized. Exactly my experience. Yup, there can be issues with stuff like a generator breakdown. But the Good Lord sent us mechanics for those sorts of things.

When I was a kid I used to run political campaigns. My main objective walking into a campaign HQ was to spot the women who actually made the thing run. The guys would want to go to the bar and talk about strategy or a particular sentence in a speech a hundred people might hear. The women wanted to get the signs out, the door to door done and the envelopes stuffed. What success I had was entirely due to these women. And so it has been across the decades of a very odd career.

I’m just reading Tina Brown’s Vanity Fair Diaries. Realistically, she was the 80’s in the US. And yes, pretty. And yes, married to a very well connected guy. But it was her vision which took Vanity Fair from an also ran to a must read and defined a high/low concept which is with us to this day. Because she was talented and, to his credit, Si Newhouse recognized that talent and let it run.

Talent is not about gender, it is about recognition. Smart people recognize talent, dumb ones pay attention to gender or colour or pronoun.


Jay Currie


Re: Women In The Music Business

Interesting and fundamental issue of our times.
As with every Social and Cultural matter, the extreme positions appear when the paradigms reach a turning point.
In music, It was the emergence of Rock as a counter point to Mellow Pop. In Social issues, it was the ” Free 60’s” as a counter point to the ” Starched 50’s”, ” Black militancy” to ” White dominance”.. Etc, etc
Today, Feminism is the answer to centuries of male ” machismo”, and as every counter cultural movement, it has its extreme and even exaggerated aspects .
But as with everything else, when the points are made and ground is gained, waters will settle and a new mentality will emerge.
Of course there’s resistance to change, but at the end it helps because it makes change makers more militant and decided to bring about the needed change

Paul Ehrlich


Subject: Women? It’s force vs. power

A big problem in our society is not knowing the difference between force and power and not realizing they are opposites. We seem to think they are related or versions of each other.


Mark Andersson
Panther Peak Bindery


Re: Women In The Music Business

Women are just as capable as men when it comes to being ruthless, dishonest, and self serving. No one ever asks if things would have been different at HP or Theranos had Carly Fiorina and Elizabeth Holmes had been men.

Adam James


Re: Women In The Music Businessåå

James Spencer!!! Hooray! You fucking said it man. Stop skirting the real, core issues Bob (and everyone else!) The absolute underlying issue is that women are sexualized by society and therefor value their worth based on how “sexy” they are according to other females and men. Sadly, this has completely become evident via social media such as Instagram where the more likes and followers you have, the more social currency you hold. And the easiest and fastest way to do this is to sexualize yourself. Women often mask this by using a facade of fitness or motivation. And although this annoys me to no end, it’s EVERYONE’S fault! Men and women alike. This is why I admired and loved Missy Elliott so much. She was overweight and a boss and didn’t have to sell her body to sell records. So until women stand up for themselves and stop using sex to sell, absolutely nothing will change.

Danny Jay


Re: Women In The Music Business


At CID, our Business Development and Account Management team is lead by and filled with BAD ASS women. They are the ones in charge of CID’s growth and maintaining our relationship with all of our partners, and they do an impeccable job. It happened naturally, it was not intentional, but it happened none the less. I’m glad they all are who they are, not really sure what gender they act like, but they’re all smart, hard working, dedicated, and our partners both male and female all love working with them. I’m not sure if this is what you mean by sharp elbows, but they LOVE when we win business from our competitors, but who doesn’t? 50% of CID is female, a stat I am very proud of. They fill our department head meeting, and are leaders in every department at CID. I sit in an office with 2 women, and next to my office is our impeccable female head of HR, and next to her are 2 of the aforementioned bad asses in our Business Development team. I’m so proud to be surrounded by women in the music business.

Tell Shirley Manson to listen to Brandi Carlile and Caitlyn Smith. They don’t use anything but raw talent and song writing ability and I believe have put out two of the best records of 2018. There’s a MAJOR movement going on right now, I believe in part (soon to be more than just in part) led by Brandi Carlile. Call it time’s up, call it me too, whatever it’s called, it’s high time for women to take control and the lead whenever possible. Not to get too off topic, but in the American version of extreme capitalism where we seem to have forgotten about the common good, and taking care of our brothers and sisters, it seems like a little maternal instinct would go a long way. Brandi Carlile said something at her show recently in Philly that really hit home. It’s something I’ve thought about since having kids, but haven’t been in touch with my feelings or thoughts enough to vocalize. She said since having kids she’s realized that every single person is someone’s baby. Nobody is “Just” a homeless person, “Just” a junkie, they’re someone’s baby. Every single person on this planet is deserving of our love and care. We need to take better care of each other, we need to stop fucking killing each other, we need to make sure everyone has a chance at living a decent life, and we need to take MUCH better care of our planet. That to me seems like maternal instincts, and I think in the last 5 minutes I’ve convinced myself that our only chance of survival as a species is if the women take over. Fuck feminism, fuck equality. We messed up, let’s give the women the reigns, and hopefully they’ll deem some/most of us worthy enough to keep around.

Dan Berkowitz

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