Tag Archives: Rolling Stones

Westport Rocks! The Greatest Stories Ever Told

If you don’t know Westport’s musical history — concerts at Staples High School by the Doors, Cream, Yardbirds, Rascals, Animals and many more; the Remains, perhaps the greatest band in history never to hit the big time; REO Speedwagon’s 157 Riverside Avenue — you must be living under a rock (ho ho).*

But hey hey, my my. Rock and roll can never die.

So mark next Wednesday, March 21 (7 p.m.) on your calendar. Michael Friedman’s Gallery in Bedford Square is the site for one of Westport’s liveliest musical events ever.  

The owner’s stunning photographs of everyone from Janis Joplin and Mick Jagger to the Band and Johnny Winter (another former Westporter) serves as a backdrop for a Moth-style session about rock ‘n’ roll.

Among the storytellers:

Former Paul Butterfield Blues Band organist, and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member Mark Naftalin.

Mark Naftalin: A keyboardist, recording artist, composer and record producer, he and his fellow Paul Butterfield Blues Band members are in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Crispin Cioe:  A sax player and songwriter, he’s played and recorded with James Brown, the Stones, Solomon Burke, Tom Waits, Ray Charles and the Ohio Players.

Roger Kaufman: A noted local performer with the Old School Revue, Roger worked last year with the Smithsonian Museum to archive, preserve and pay tribute to Steve Cropper, the legendary Stax guitarist who played on classic songs like “Knock on Wood,” “Midnight Hour” and “Dock of the Bay.” Soon, he’ll archive materials with Weston’s own Jose Feliciano.

Rob Fraboni: A producer and audio who worked with Bob Dylan, the Band, Eric Clapton and the Stones — and who as vice president of Island Records oversaw the remastering of the entire Bob Marley catalog. Keith Richards called him “a genius.”

David Bennett Cohen, with Country Joe and the Fish.

David Bennett Cohen: The original keyboardist, and also a guitar player, for Country Joe and the Fish.

Wendy May: She’s spent the last 20 years performing with Charlie Daniels, Kenny Chesney, Mark Chestnut, Willie Nelson, Hank Williams Jr., Marty Haggard and many others.

Dick Wingate: In a long career with labels like Arista, PolyGram, Epic and Columbia Records, he worked closely with Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Aimee Mann, Peter Tosh and Pink Floy, among others.

Michael Friedman: In addition to photography, he worked as a publicist with the Mamas and the Papas, Bee Gees, Herman’s Hermits and Glen Campbell, and was an artist manager for Dylan, the Band, Janis Joplin, Gordon Lightfoot, Todd Rundgren, Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge.

Rusty Ford: He co-founded Lothar & the Hand People, the psychedelic band that was the first to use a theremin and Moog synthesizer in live performances. He also played bass with the Beach Boys.

Lothar and the Hand People

Also on the bill: Bari Rudin and Caissie St. Onge, comedy writers who have worked with David Letterman, Phil Donohue, “Saturday Night Live,” Rosie O’Donnell and Joan Rivers.

Incredibly, every storyteller is a local resident. This area remains rich in rock history. We don’t have to ship in stars. They’re right here, living as our neighbors and friends.

They’ll each speak for about 8 minutes. Every one though has a lifetime of stories to tell.

* Let’s not forget the Hall & Oates “concert” too.

(Tickets for “Rock & Roll Stories” include food, beer, wine and an auction. It’s part of the Westport Library’s week-long “Flex” series, which features a celebrity lunch with Sam Kass and Jane Green, a conversation with Ruth Reichl, movies, a dance-a-thon, a family day, gala party and much more. Click here for information and tickets.)

Andrew Loog Oldham Kind Of Remembers His Westport Days

An “06880”  post following the recent death of Johnny Winter drew a flood of comments about his time in Westport. Yet he — and REO Speedwagon — were hardly the only rockers in town during the late 1960s and early ’70s.

Andrew Loog Oldham — manager/producer of the Rolling Stones, co-founder of Immediate Records (Rod Stewart, Nico, Humble Pie) and producer of recordings by Donovan, Jimmy Cliff and Marianne Faithfull — bought a house in Wilton in 1969. But he spent a great deal of time in Westport. 

Andrew Loog Oldham (left) and Mick Jagger.

Andrew Loog Oldham (left) and Mick Jagger.

Here’s what he remembers — sort of — according to the website Music Museum of New England:

A few months ago I saw Ronnie Spector singing to support Haiti at the Westport Country Playhouse. But things were not always good between myself and New England.

When I settled into Wilton (in 1969) my friend Noel Harrison came to stay. He was hot with “the girl from UNCLE,” and was doing summer stock at the Westport Playhouse.

Westport was a wasted hoot and Vietnam horror show. All of the rich kids were 4F and more wasted than Keith Richards. Joe Cocker stopped by and mused, “so this is what is between New York and Boston.”

Westport looked pretty, and had Sally and her great record store at the back of Klein’s on the main drag, but for all its Stepford Wife properness the Westport train station was a nightly procession of lost and drunk Jack Lemmons pouring themselves back into station wagonerama, as drunk as their kids were stoned.

Back in Andrew Loog Oldham's day, the area behind the old library -- at the corner of Post Road and Main Street, across from the YMCA -- was called "Needle Park." It was a popular teenage hangout.

Back in Andrew Loog Oldham’s day, the area behind the old library — at the corner of Post Road and Main Street, across from the YMCA — was called “Needle Park.” It was a popular teenage hangout.

America was at the crossroads — Vietnam had done the Robert Johnson on the lot of you, and a sorry state was your lovely nation for that while.

I saw Bridgeport jail a few times, driving under the influence of you name it. I blacked out more than once on the Merritt Parkway, coming to just in time for Exit 40….

On more than one occasion I saw Mr. and Mrs. Paul Newman driving around Westport. I had a wonderful time. I cannot think of any place I’d rather have been the first time I heard Harry Chapin’s “WOLD.”

Eventually I got much, much better and as New England keeps on doing that, we are all doing well.



Time Is On Their Side

The music you listen to as a teenager becomes the soundtrack of your life.

I love my soundtrack. And for that I thank Greg Katz.

Greg Katz today — many years after Long Lots.

Greg and I became friends in Long Lots Junior High. The youngest child of a blended, somewhat bohemian family — they had a house right on Old Mill Beach, which was very cool — he introduced me to a wide range of musicians and genres. The Blues Project, Richie Havens, Frank Zappa — Greg was my guide for all of them.

His 1st concert ever was the Beatles, at the Atlantic City Convention Center. He was 11.

His 2nd was the Rolling Stones, the next year. Greg remembers it at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, though his sister thinks it was in Manhattan.

Greg went on to accomplish many things. Music was one — though not the only — motif.

His photo of Buddy Miles performing at Staples was published in the Westport Town Crier.

Gregory Katz’s story on John Lennon’s murder ran in the Rolling Stone issue with this now-legendary cover.

In 1980 — during the chaotic hours following John Lennon’s murder — Greg was the only journalist inside the Dakota building. (His parents owned an apartment there.)

Greg’s interview with Jay Hastings — the doorman who was the 1st person on the scene — ran in Rolling Stone. It became the definitive account of that night.

Greg’s journalism career includes a share of the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for international reporting. He was part of a Dallas Morning News team that produced a 14-part series on violence against women throughout the world.

For many years, Greg covered Latin America and the Mideast. Now ranging all over Europe, he’s written about popes, politics and Queen Elizabeth.

But until Sunday night, the only time he’d seen the Rolling Stones was that elementary school day, in either Brooklyn or Manhattan.

As acting news editor for AP’s London bureau — and with the regular arts reporter on vacation — he assigned the story of the Stones’ 50th anniversary bash at London’s 02 Arena to himself.

The Rolling Stones last Sunday (from left): Mick Jagger, Ronnie Wood, Keith Richards and Charlie Watts.

When we spoke earlier this week, Greg surprised me by saying he’d never been a big Mick Jagger fan. “I always thought he was trying to imitate Otis Redding,” Greg said. “And not well.”

Watching Mick live was different.

“He really, really moved well,” Greg said. “He’s fully engaged with the crowd. He looks very fit, and pain-free.”

The crowd ranged from Stones’ contemporaries — in their 60s — to those born 30 years after “Let’s Spend the Night Together.”

Greg says there are at least 3 reasons why people in their teens and 20s were there. “They hear a couple of songs, and really get into the rest of the catalog. Jagger is seen as cool, and undamaged by time. And the Stones are really tied into this whole sense of British pride.” They’re the latest attraction in a year that’s included the Olympics, the Diamond Jubilee, and James Bond’s 50th anniversary.

Greg’s concert highlight was “Midnight Rambler.” A wicked blues harp, Mick Taylor’s “incandescent” lead guitar, the brilliant backing of Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood, plus Charlie Watts’ energetic drumming, made for 9 minutes of “crackling intensity,” Greg said.

Another highlight: Jagger and Mary J. Blige’s rock-the-house duet on “Gimme Shelter.”

As for Richards himself — Weston’s most famous resident — Greg said, “he wasn’t flashy. But he looked confident and strong. He seemed really happy.”

Weston’s own Keith Richards.

(On Huffington Post, Greg wrote that Richards’ “survival has surprised many who thought he would succumb to drugs and drink.” The guitarist told the crowd: “We made it. I’m happy to see you. I’m happy to see anybody.”)

The Stones are not Greg’s favorite musicians; he prefers the Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash. And this wasn’t the best concert he’s ever seen. That would be Brian Wilson and his band performing the entire “Pet Sounds” album.

But, he said, Sunday’s show is among the top 5 concerts he’s seen recently.

I know. It’s only rock ‘n’ roll. But Greg and I like it.

(Click here for Greg Katz’s full story on the Stones’ show.)

Happy 50th, Keith!

A half century ago yesterday, the Rolling Stones played their first-ever live gig.

A few years later — still so young — they sang, “What a drag it is getting old…”

The Stones keep rolling.

A few years after that — in their “call me Lucifer” days — I could never imagine that Keith Richards would get so much satisfaction, spending so many nights together, just up the road in Weston.

Sure, you can’t always get what you want. But time has definitely been on Keith’s side.

Here’s to 50 more great years. It’s only rock ‘n’ roll, but I like it.

And I love your white Rolls.

Westporter Charlie Karp (who left Staples in 10th grade to play with guys like Jimi Hendrix and Buddy Miles), with Keith Richards at the Georgetown Saloon. Photo by Staples grad Ray Flanigan. The Saloon was owned by Staples grad Adam Lubarsky, making Westonite Keith the only “foreigner” there.

Keith Richards’ Local “Life”

Life — the new autobiography by Keith Richards — is long on sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, and short on the now-relatively long part of his life he’s lived in Weston.

If you didn’t know better, you’d think the Rolling Stone never gathered any moss in these parts.

One brief anecdote, though, touches on both Weston and Westport.

Have you seen this man around here?

Describing a deadline remix of tapes for the song “Thief in the Night,” Richards writes they were rushed by speedboat from Port Jefferson to Westport, “the nearest harbor to my house on the Connecticut coast.

“We did this at midnight, under a very nice moon, roaring across the Long Island Sound, successfully avoiding the lobster pots with a swerve here and a shout there.”

That’s a bit more Gatsbyesque than some of his other writing, such as “I can’t get no satisfaction.”

But the passage got me thinking:  For someone who’s lived around here so long, I haven’t seen much of Keith Richards.

There was the time he strolled onstage — unannounced — at a Levitt Pavilion benefit concert.  “I’ve always wanted to play with Willie Nelson,” he said — and then he did.

He drove past the Staples boys soccer car wash last fall.  Our players tried to get him to come in, but he declined.  We can’t always get what we want. 

And I’ve seen him twice at CVS.  I will refrain from making any snarky remarks about what he was doing in a “drug store.”

Feel free to add your own Keith Richards in Westport/Weston anecdotes; click the “comments” link on this post. 

I know.  It’s only rock ‘n’ roll.  But I like it.