Blog Posts by Barney Hoskyns

  • The Rock’s Backpages Flashback: Jimmy Page Forms the New Yardbirds… a.k.a. Led Zeppelin

    On this Celebration Day, when Led Zeppelin have announced the release of the film of their 2007 O2 show, let's cast our minds back to the group's formation in the fall of 1968. Chris Welch filed this report for Melody Maker on October 12th of that year——Barney Hoskyns, Editorial Director, Rock's Backpages

    Whatever happened to the Yardbirds? One of the great mysteries of our time, ranking with the Devil's footprints, the Marie Celeste and the Five Penny Post, is the disappearance of a group once hailed as the most progressive in Britain.

    When one thinks back, the group that starred Keith Relf — and had such distinguished alumni as Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page on guitars — were trying experimental pop long before today's underground groups.

    But unfortunately they were either too early or lacked the drive to carry their breakaway from the original blues formula through to the public.

    They found, as have so many British groups, more responsive audiences and better money in

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  • The Rock’s Backpages Rewind: The Discreet Charm of Aimee Mann

    A freewheeling interview by RBP's Martin Colyer that takes in Aimee's new album Charmer, her talented collaborators, reality TV, turning up the treble, Laura Linney's focus, Jack Kerouac's drying-out and, uh, women's boxing... Barney Hoskyns, Editorial Director, Rock's Backpages

    Hi, Aimee, are you looking forward to a morning of people phoning you up? I should have had coffee. Why did I not drink coffee? I didn't even think about it!

    I just watched you and Laura Linney—that was very funny. [In the video for 'Charmer', Linney plays an animatronic version of Aimee that can be sent out on tour, and to fan meet-and-greets, but who eventually goes rogue and has to be terminated] She's the greatest.

    You were very good—but she's brilliant. Yeah she's really fantastic. And you know, that she would agree to do something like that, for no money and in 100-degree heat... It's unbelievable.

    I kind of felt sad at the end when you covered her up in a sheet. I know—it's terrible!

    Really not good.

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  • The Rock’s Backpages Flashback: When Bob Found God

    One of the most controversial periods in the life of Bob Dylan was his late '70s conversion to Christianity, as captured in the albums Slow Train Coming and Saved. Steve Turner reported on the man's newfound faith in this NME report from September 1979——Barney Hoskyns, Editorial Director, Rock's Backpages

    Nothing guarantees more scorn in rock 'n' roll circles than a man who gets religion. I mean, we pay these guys to visit hell and bring us back colour slides and here they go slipping off to heaven. It's a severe breach of contract.

    Bob Dylan's newfound faith shouldn't come as too much of a surprise, though. In 1965 he claimed "I just don't have any religion or philosophy," and then went on to plug the I Ching. In his 1966 Playboy interview he's asked by Nat Hentoff: "You told an interviewer last year, 'I've done everything I ever wanted to do.' If that's true, what do you have to look forward to?" "Salvation," replied Dylan, "just plain salvation."

    Perhaps the most interesting

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  • The Rock’s Backpages Rewind: Lady Madonna Storms Philly

    A report on Madonna's MDNA tour — first stop Philadelphia! — from the redoubtable Carol Cooper——Barney Hoskyns, Editorial Director, Rock's Backpages

    As I write this Thursday night, I can hear Madonna singing from Yankee Stadium through the window of my Harlem apartment. In fact, the sound mix on 'Girls Gone Wild' and 'Papa Don't Preach' gets so good that her vocals cut like a Samurai sword across a perfectly balanced backing track and the audible appreciation of the crowd. The concert seemed to start just as Vice President Biden ended his televised speech at the Democratic National Convention.

    I, of course, saw the smaller, arena-sized production of this spectacle in Philly last week, which kicked off the North American leg of her MDNA tour. But we early birds were warned that unless we saw the stadium show we weren't seeing Madonna's definitive version of this show.

    Be that as it may, Philly inspired me to contemplate the live performance Madonna put together for her fans this year,

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  • The Rock’s Backpages Rewind: Talking with the late Hal David

    In the spring of 2000, the late Hal David had just become the first non-Brit to be honored with a prestigious Ivor Novello Award when Terry Staunton spoke to him about his work and his sublime lyrics for Burt Bacharach--Barney Hoskyns, Editorial Director, Rock's Backpages

    Hal David was recently asked to write out the lyrics to 'We Have All The Time In The World', his 1969 James Bond theme, as a gift for a friend's wedding. But before putting pen to paper, the 78-year-old songwriter had to rush out and buy the sheet music — just to make sure he got it right.

    He can be forgiven the odd lapse in memory, the occasional forgotten couplet here and there, because the sheer volume of classic popular songs that bear his name in brackets under the title is breathtaking. In tandem with Burt Bacharach, the perennial figurehead of the easy listening set, David has been responsible for some of the most enduring musical moments of the century. 'Walk On By', 'Make It Easy On Yourself', 'I Say A

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  • The Rock’s Backpages Flashback: Looking Through Gary Numan’s Eyes

    Gary Numan was the gloomy Brit who married the influences of Bowie, Ultravox, and even Jobriath,  hitting huge with 'Are "Friends" Electric?' Now lauded as an electronic godfather, he plays England's Bestival tonight (Sept 6), so we we're taking you down memory lane with this great Paul Morley NME profile published June 9, 1979——Barney Hoskyns, Editorial Director, Rock's Backpages

    The list went something like: 2.00pm — Jackie, 2.30pm — My Guy, 3.15pm — Patches, 4.00pm — Record Mirror, 4.45pm — Smash Hits, 5.30pm — Paul Morley.

    I am part of someone else's blur. For Gary Numan — who is Tubeway Army — the last few days have been a blur of brand new excitement and confusion. His song 'Are "Friends" Electric?' has surprisingly sneaked into the Top 30.

    The success went something like this:

    The first few singles are pressed as an attractive picture disc, which pushes the single into the lower part of the chart. The single then receives some airplay and, not being especially repulsive, slides

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  • The Rock’s Backpages Flashback: Robert Smith Shows and Tells

    An amusing and insightful interview with the Cure mainman by Susan Compo, as featured in the November 1993 issue of SPIN——Barney Hoskyns, Editorial Director, Rock's Backpages

    Robert Smith looks remarkably well for a man who's spent the morning in a graveyard: eyes the colour of retouched travel-brochure sky, healthy pallor and bearing, and brandishing a bottle of Evian.

    The cemetery is, it should be mentioned, a TV-sitcom graveyard, making it quintessential Robert Smith, as the sad-on-the-outside, happy-on-the-inside picture of him has come to replace the Gloomy Gus persona he's usually attributed with.

    "You know Newman and Baddiel?" he asks, referring to a young, cool alternative comedy team who've proved especially popular with British students. The duo feature a character "so depressed" he's obsessed with, you guessed it, the Cure. The twosome are in the midst of filming their new series, and Smith has, once again, made a cameo appearance.

    "One of them dies, so I've been in the

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  • The Rock’s Backpages Flashback: Elvis is Dead

    The King of Rock & Roll died 35 years ago at his Memphis mansion, Graceland. Mick Farren — former frontman with London's beloved Deviants — wrote this heartfelt tribute to Elvis for New Musical Express——Barney Hoskyns, Editorial Director, Rock's Backpages

    It was one of the worst storms to hit London since God knows when. The thunder rolled, lightning flashed and the rain hammered into the roof. There's something about a storm that brings a sense of doom. It fitted so perfectly.

    When the ITV news flash sign came on the TV screen everyone looked up. When the flash sign was immediately followed by a still of Elvis Presley, a quiet voice breathed, "Oh, my God."

    "Reports are coming in that Elvis Presley, the rock and roll singer, died this evening at his home in Memphis, Tennessee."

    We all looked at each other in disbelief.

    "Elvis is dead!"

    It didn't seem quite credible. And yet it wasn't the kind of shock that followed the news of J.F.K. being cut down. There had been so much speculation

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  • The Rock’s Backpages Flashback: At Home with Tom Waits in ’76

    Hell didn't exactly break loose when Richard Cromelin went to visit Tom Waits in Silver Lake, but Cromelin did come away with this great portrait of the professional barfly for the Los Angeles Times, date March 14, 1976——Barney Hoskyns, Editorial Director, Rock's Backpages

    There's no place like Tom Waits' home. There's no home, at any rate, quite like Tom Waits' place. The Silver Lake court cottage looks like the neglected back room of a slumping thrift shop, its contents to be filed when there's room up front.

    "You might see something here that I've been looking for for six months," Waits growls from amid the chaos," and I wish you'd tell me because I've lost a lot of things."

    A bookshelf holding poetry volumes and vintage hardcover copies of Angry Young Men novels is the room's only concession of Kerouac's Visions of Cody and an album featuring Kerouac reading to Steve Allen's piano accompaniment receive no special treatment. They lie among the skin magazines, traffic tickets,

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  • The Rock’s Backpages Flashback: Tales of Sky Saxon and “Lord” Tim Hudson

    Sky Saxon's Seeds were responsible for one of the great psych-punk hits, 1965's immortal 'Pushin' Too Hard'. Many years later, Mick Middles encountered the man in Malibu — only to be drawn into the bizarre web of his British manager "Lord" Tim Hudson. For more weirdness, read on… Barney Hoskyns, Editorial Director, Rock's Backpages

    Stick-thin, clad in purple and black. Leather trousers, knee-length boots. Boney, bug-eyed, skank hair, dead face, white cheeks. This strange man was telling me to worship dogs. It was his belief — not mine — that Dog is God. That they inhabit the earth to scrutinise our every mood, to report back to the profound. (I believe cats do that, but let that pass).

    The man looked an inch from death and yet, there we were, on Malibu beach. He was giving me a lesson in health and fitness. I was looking at his eyes. Looking beyond him, to the cool blue Pacific and Catalina Island, grey in the distance. The man was Sky Saxon. To some — indie kids from three decades —

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Pagination

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