Live at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

One benefit of having the Rock &Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in your back yard is their ongoing Songwriters to Soundmen series. It provides a rare opportunity to see and hear some of the legendary and inimitable talents in rock and roll discuss their careers. Some guests have even lowered their guard to reveal their idiosyncrasies and peccadilloes.

I’ve attended a number of these evenings. My personal faves include session drummer and “Wrecking Crew” leader Hal Blaine, who played percussion on hundreds of hit songs from artists as diverse as the Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra, Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, the Ronettes, Sonny and Cher, the Byrds, Connie Francis, Simon & Garfunkel, and Paul Revere & the Raiders. His stories were captivating.

Lou Adler was another. You’ve seen his name on many an album jacket from the sixties through the eighties, He’s produced some of the best pop, rock and R&B hits of the sixties and early seventies from Carole King, the Mamas and Papas, Barry McGuire, Spirit, Sam Cooke, and Cheech y Chong. He was also a producer of the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 – the landmark concert that showcased the next generation of music, and directed the movie Up in Smoke for Cheech y Chong. He managed and molded Jan & Dean’s signature sound.

There was Mary Weiss, the former lead singer of the Shangri-Las. When I was 15, you couldn’t top the Shangs. They were hot, street smart, and edgier than all the other girl groups– except for the Ronettes – and Mary was the quintessential rock and roll babe.

I always looked forward to the Songwriters to Soundmen series evenings – but never expected to be part of one. But here I was.

My sincere complements go to Jim Henke, who hosts the series. Not only is he a renowned, well-respected journalist – he has his interview skills down, too. The success of public discussions and interviews has everything to do with asking the right questions and Jim did. I swear he knows me better than I do. I’ve spent most of my career as a behind-the-scenes guy so being front-and-center is still somewhat new to me – but Jim put me an ease – and it was an enjoyable, fast-moving evening.

To everyone who attended – thank you for taking the time. I always enjoy meeting our listeners – and it provides me the opportunity to thank everyone for their ears and support during those years.

By coincidence, my Songwriters to Soundmen night coincided with the 34th anniversary of the Buzzard (see following story) and provided an opportunity to show original David Helton Buzzard art as well as show some of the hand-drawn home grown animated WMMS TV spots he put together frame-by-frame in his living room.

I also got to show an excerpt from a professionally-shot video “aircheck” of Kid Leo on-the-air from 1985 from Art Vuolo’s collection.

Photography: Risa Roberson. Click photos to enlarge.  

For more information on the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’s Songwriters to Soundmen series, click here

3 Responses to “Live at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum”

  1. Matt Wardlaw Says:

    sorry I missed it…’re right, they are a lot of fun – the Lou Adler one was cool, as was the one with Page Hamilton from Helmet. I would have liked to have been at the one with former Beach Boy David Marks, but ended up missing that one….cool stuff, and FREE!

  2. Hi John
    What a great thrill to drive into Cleveland, and to the RRHOF (which I hadn’t been to since leaving Cleveland in 2000). I thoroughly enjoyed the evening. I got to see you, Ravenna and a few others. Hadn’t seen the two of you since 1996-97. I loved the book, had a great time, learned even more than I knew about WMMS and your background as well.

    A tip of The Buzzard’s wing to you.


    former WMMS/WMJI staffer

    ps – You’re right, radio ain’t dead yet!

  3. Chuck Witt Says:

    I would have attended this if I lived closer, but I now live in the south. Is a transcript available?

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