A week of Beatles Music — Pure Joy, Old Friends & Celebrations

Nothing slowed down after the incredible Beatles evening I hosted with Gibson Musical Instrument’s Peter Leinheiser on January 22 where rock stars came out to sing their favorite Beatle songs.  That event, it turned out, was merely the kick off to day after day of incredible rock and roll that culminated with The Beatles concert here in Los Angeles (which will air February 9th on CBS) in honor of the Beatles 50th and their Ed Sullivan Show appearance that changed everything, yes everything 1964.

Musicares January 24

This year’s Musicares event (Los Angeles) honored the extraordinary singer-songwriter Carole King and it was the must–attend event because of Carole’s status as one of the greatest singer-songwriters ever in rock or pop or standards or just about any category you can imagine. Her masterpiece album Tapestry, of course, far surpassed any bands’ albums sales for decades and her body of work contains hit after hit after hit of her compositions from the mid 1960s on – each song beloved.

Rona Elliot with David & Jan Crosby

Rona Elliot with David & Jan Crosby

I spent the evening at Musicares (happily) with old friends David and Jan Crosby and saw many other longtime pals and professional colleagues too. The evening could really be considered (no kidding) a 60s love fest (this was just a warm up for the Beatles tribute it turned out!) with its continuous effusiveness. At Musicares I looked around and every great musician who contributed to the genre of singer-songwriter was on hand along with every other musician despite their style or category. Before I even name some of fantastic artists who performed Carole’s classics, a look around was a who’s who of music royalty from Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne, to Verdine White of Earth Wind and Continue reading

CELEBRATION OF THE BEATLES AT GIBSON

On January 22 Beatles’ devotees, including rock stars and fans, transformed the Gibson Musical Instruments showroom in Beverly Hills, California into the Temple of The Beatles 50th love and burned down the house for hours with music, celebration and tribute at this very small, VIP gathering. I stood in a crowd of people – young, old and from all over the world, watching and listening as Brian Wilson with his bandleader Jeffrey Foskett, Kris Kristofferson, America, Micky Dolenz, Robby Krieger, Earl Slick and the astonishing Jimmy Webb each selected and performed one of their favorite fab four songs as the crowd literally swooned with excitement and joy. The Beatles had touched everyone there of course and everywhere else and not a person in that room, in particular, would have denied that the direction their lives took was influenced by the band.

Brian Wilson and Jeffrey Foskett

Brian Wilson with his bandleader, Jeffrey Foskett

Just twenty-two images, from the amazing, and as yet unseen, photo collection by Beatles tour manager Bob Bonis, were unveiled and auctioned off with a portion going to charity. Bonis was with the band on the road from 1964 to 1966 and shot 750 intimate portraits with his Leica and each image was revealing and Continue reading

Great News for those of you who are enhanced eBook readers, IF you work on a Mac computer!!

Up until October 2013, you could only read enhanced eBooks that you bought and downloaded on digital devices, like an iPad or Kindle. So, for example, when I released my Stones book in October 2012, Mick & Keith: Never Stop, I had to explain over and over to people who wanted to buy it that no, you couldn’t read the enhanced eBook on a computer, only on an iPad or other digital reader, each with a different format.

Now all that’s changed! I was over the moon when I routinely downloaded the free new Maverick system upgrades that became available in October, 2013 onto my MAC. Suddenly, before my eyes, all my enhanced eBooks, including my own enhanced eBook, had been moved onto my computer and a screen popped up telling me where to find them!

Rona Elliot Mick and Keith Never Stop on Mac

RINGO “PHOTOGRAPH”

My day started with a yes! when I opened an email to find this photo attached from last month’s Genesis-Publications event in Los Angeles to showcase Ringo Starr’s new deluxe book “Photograph”.

Rona Elliot with Ringo StarrPhoto courtesy of Genesis Publications and Rob Shanahan

Later that day Ringo introduced the members of this years’ All-Starr Band and each one of these guys, including Ringo, played just enough of one of their well-known hits to tease, but not satisfy the crowd.  So, in order to hear the whole song, I’m going to Las Vegas to see the band on tour, and no doubt, sing along with them all!

Lou Reed

In my March 1989 Today Show interview with Lou Reed in New York City, he’d just celebrated his 47th birthday a few days before.  He was in extremely fine spirits during this interview, very very funny, making jokes and reminding me, “that’s a joke, Rona” in case I didn’t get his it.  I’ll assume I was trying to be serious and centered sitting with him.  At that time to support this new 14 song album, New York, he was preparing for a series of concerts at the St. James Theatre on West 44th Street in the city. I went one night and can tell you he was in great form onstage too.

After Lou passed, I dug into my files and tapes and found the original interview with him from that day and thought I’d share some of what I found intriguing about Lou at that moment and give you a few examples of  the way he was thinking:

During our conversation some of the distinctions Lou was chewing over and talked with me about, was the difference he experienced between writing songs and performing them and how startled he was by the changes in studio technology since his previous recording.  Lou also said Continue reading

Happy Birthday, Goddess Joni Mitchell

Happy Birthday, Joni Mitchell!

Soul explorer
Artist
Sister
Like no other

Creator of songs, melodies and ideas unparalleled in expression.

“I can drink a case of you”
“dreams and false alarms”
“we’ve got to get back to the garden”

This lifetime has been enriched and enhanced by your contribution.

My photo from Big Sur Folk Festival at Esalen walking to the stage - Joni with Judy Collins,  Jac Holzman and others  1968

My photo from Big Sur Folk Festival at Esalen walking to the stage – Joni with Judy Collins, Jac Holzman and others 1968

Wrapping up October 2013…

It was quite a rock and roll week for me.  At an incredible Genesis-Publications event in Los Angeles, Ringo (no last name needed, thank you) introduced his truly beautiful book, Photograph by Ringo Starr which is available for sale online from Genesis in hard copy and is very dear – worth every penny.  An abbreviated digital version, which can be downloaded for less than $15 in an enhanced e book form, is also available. The events, his book and his prints that were for sale were an opportunity to raise money for and to focus on Ringo and his wife Barbara’s foundation, The Lotus Foundation, which supports and Continue reading

I’m Speaking at The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this Saturday!

On my way to Cleveland to speak at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 18th annual Music Maters – “It’s only Rock & Roll (But I Like It): The Music of The Rolling Stones” – It’s a reflection on the career of The Rolling Stones and their impact on rock and roll music.  Saturday morning (10/26) at 10:30am I will be discussing my interviews with the band & my ebook, Mick and Keith: Never Stop! You can watch the LIVE Stream by clicking HERE.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Rolling Stones

Alternative Media Conference, Goddard College 1970

For those of you interested in cultural sociology and the weird and true history of how so – called “alternative” media evolved coming out of the 60s, the link below tells the story of the Alternative Media Conference that took place in Vermont at Goddard College in 1970. It’s all true and from this vantage point, looks nothing short of unbelievable and made up…but it isn’t. I attended this after working at Woodstock and while living in the Bay Area. It was a time when the media people I knew were committed to finding new ways of communicating. Well, as you know, it all happened…and this will give you a taste of what it was really like back then…if you dare:

I would love to know your thoughts after watching this…

Astronaut Chris Hadfield – interplanetery rock star

If you are not among the nearly 15 million people who have so far viewed the clip of Astronaut Hadfield singing David Bowie’s Space Oddity from the International Space Station, stop what you’re doing now, and click on the link:

In my opinion, it’s one of rock and rolls greatest moments.  Not only is Chris Hadfield creative and brilliant, he executed his vision magnificently, for everyone to enjoy.  When David Bowie first uttered those words “ground control to Major Tom” never in his wildest dreams did he see this coming decades later.  Bravo, Chris!

This will be the last time…

My Stones May 20th review of the LA Staples Center Show!

Quite a different show than 2 weeks earlier! Having been on the receiving end of criticism from all quarters regarding Gwen Stefani’s dismal  performance at their first LA performance, Mick told the audience in no uncertain terms: “No special guest tonight, you’re the special guest!”

Rona Elliot Keith Richards May 20 LARona Elliot Mick Jagger May 20 LA

Mick Taylor played around 5 songs — amazing!!!!!! He was comfortable and in the groove,  he got everyone onstage and in the band – that much more excited in their musical exchanges! Everyone was  on fire for Midnight Rambler! Go Mick Taylor!  He smiled too! Darryl Jones got a big solo – fantastic! The entire concert  was more stripped down and more rocking – more Stones – fantastic! A lot of grumbling in all quarters about high ticket prices and apparently some Continue reading

Rocking with The Stones: December 2012 Brooklyn & May 2013 Los Angeles

Some of my friends and certainly my husband thought I was insane to want to see the Rolling Stones play again in Los Angeles after having just seen them in Brooklyn, New York when they performed in honor of their 50th anniversary.

Not crazy, at all.  Of course I’d want to see them perform again as who really knows when their last show will be and I want as much as I can get given the amount of joy and rocking out I express (poor folks behind me) during their shows.  (Remember, you can’t always get what you want etc. but get what you need!)  And, in case you’re wondering, no, the tickets are NEVER free and yes I do pay top dollar for them! And, having just spent a year working on my Stones enhanced e book, my commitment to the band is everlasting now and I’m willing to pay as long as they’re doing it.

The Rolling StonesPhoto Courtesy of Mike Montana

All that aside, the Stones delivered again at Staples Center, home of the Lakers who I assure you, as Mick quipped, Continue reading

If Mick Jagger can still ROCK at 70, I can enter a Beauty Contest at 66, right?

As I was filling out the form for the More Magazine Beauty contest representing women in each decade of life, I considered this: what the —- are you doing here really?  Why would you want to do this and expose yourself in this way?  You’re 66 years old!  It’s one thing to write about musicians and their impact on the culture, but it’s another to put yourself out there particularly as the clock is ticking, certainly for me personally and all baby boomers – ultimately everyone in this dance of life.

Then I really thought about the work I’d been doing in the last 2 years, about the impact of the Rolling Stones (who play LA this week, May 3rd) and how much has been made of their turning 70; how this week, the great music genius, Willie Nelson turns 80 and how my goddess/heroine Tina Turner is 73 right now! So I thought Continue reading

Richie Havens, an appreciation and then some…

I’m thinking about Norman Greenbaum and his remarkable everlasting one hit wonder, his pop sing along tune Spirit in the Sky (1969).

As we are all hearing about the passing (April 22, 2013) of the incredible musician and fine human being, Richie Havens, and therefore remembering the Woodstock Festival (1969) to which his name is indelibly and karmically linked for all time, I can’t help think about Alvin Lee of Ten Years After who also just passed on March 6, 2013.  Lee’s career like Havens, was catapulted forever into the stratosphere by his band’s appearance at Woodstock.  The same career explosion happened to Jimi Hendrix and The Who from Woodstock.  So many of the Woodstock rockers have passed that I started fantasizing about Spirit in the Sky and how many Woodstock alumni could be jamming together on the other side having a 1969 style reunion.  Bob Hite of Canned Heat, Janis Joplin, John Entwistle, Keith Moon, Rick Danko, Levon Helm—all playing together I pray.

In 2009 I wrapped up a project called the Woodstock Experience, an incredible limited edition beautiful book from Genesis Publications (UK) and along with a few other fantastic people, Woodstock producer Michael Lang, Cutter LaKind and Robby Elson, we’d conducted dozens of Woodstock interviews.  I’d worked on staff at Woodstock and I was Continue reading

Rock and Rock Hall of Fame – Back in LA after 20 years!

It’s been twenty years since the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame brought their party to LA but they did the week of April 15th and it was worth the wait!  I worked at the last Hall of Fame induction in LA which was held in 1993 at the Century Plaza Hotel, but this time it was party time at the Nokia Theatre downtown where both industry heavies and civilians could mix and celebrate their heroes together. Civilians can now buy tickets and definitely their energy contributes to the show!

Rona Elliot rock hall bumper

A party that the Rock Hall held before the event brought scores of New Yorkers, eager to get out of the cold, together with Southern California legends like Graham Nash and Continue reading

FOUND: SUGARMAN!!! IN CONCERT IN LOS ANGELES APRIL 16, 2013

RODRIGUEZ IN CONCERT.

FOR DECADES NOW I’VE BEEN FORTUNATE WHEN IT COMES TO SEEING AND HEARING SOME OF THE GREATS PLAY LIVE AND TO BE THERE TO WITNESS IT. I WAS IN THE AUDIENCE AT THE NEW JERSEY MEADOWLANDS WHEN STEVE LAWRENCE AND EYDIE GORME HAD TO HOLD ONTO AND HELP SINATRA ONSTAGE FOR HIS 75TH BIRTHDAY. I WAS SO GRATEFUL JUST TO BE IN THE AUDIENCE AND HEAR HIM AT THAT STAGE OF HIS LIFE AND WATCH ALL HIS FANS, FANS FOR WHOM HE WAS THEIR ELVIS OR BEATLES. I SAW AND MET NELSON MANDELA TOO (OKAY, NOT A MUSICIAN BUT IN HIS OWN CATEGORY!) WHO CAME TO A TRIBUTE CONCERT IN HIS HONOR AT WEMBLEY STADIUM IN LONDON AFTER HIS RELEASE FROM PRISON ON ROBBEN ISLAND AFTER 27 YEARS. LIKE EVERYONE ELSE IN THE CROWD, I SOBBED AND COULDN’T BELIEVE MY EYES WATCHING HIM SURROUNDED BY ROCK STARS ALL TREMBLING IN HIS PRESENCE.

I’VE BEEN MOVED TO TEARS IN CONCERTS MORE TIMES THAN I RECALL AS AN AUDIENCE MEMBER JUST STARING UP AT BONO, CLAPTON, MARVIN GAYE OR HENDRIX FOR THAT MATTER, REALLY.

BUT THIS ENTIRE STORY I’M ABOUT TO SHARE, THE UNLIKELY IF NOT PREPOSTEROUS TALE OF SIXTO RODRIGUEZ AND HIS Continue reading

Aloha from Hawaii

My father-in-law was celebrating his 85th birthday on Oahu and all the family from near and far went to celebrate him. My husband’s family is from Hawaii and it’s where we met, at a radio station we both worked at. To this day we remain  intense devotees of Hawaiian music. Earlier in his career, my husband produced a few Hawaiian albums, that are still talked about. Recently, we’d seen a remarkable young talent from the islands, a young man named Continue reading

Searching for Sugarman…

Stop what you are doing right this second if you haven’t yet seen the Academy Award winning documentary “Searching for Sugarman”. I don’t care if you download it, find it on Netflix or Apple TV or wherever it is, but run and get it, sit down and be still.

It is a rare treat in the music business to have a story this outrageous and fantastic turn out with the proverbial “happy ending” but it has.

If you’ve been under a rock and haven’t heard of “Searching for Sugarman” it is the unlikely – really, preposterous, true story of an American singer from Detroit named Continue reading

Happy Birthday, Yoko Ono.

One of my lifes’ great heroines just turned 80 years old. In my eyes, this number is at once huge as in the grand and unfolding experience over this period of time, and mind blowing in the context of this individual’s journey.  When I think about what life and this world have served up to the artist Yoko Ono, I am stunned and stand in awe of her – even more at this her 80th.

I will say right now that I’ve had two women who inspired me deeply; personally, professionally and spiritually.  They are the most unlikely duo to be paired in the same thought or sentence, yet with me they are my inspirations.  They are the goddesses Yoko Ono and Tina Turner, my A- team.

I think Yoko and Tina share a number of things in common though I doubt that many other people would consider them together this precise way. Both women have Buddhism in their lives. Tina chose hers and is a fervent practitioner and Yoko was raised in a Buddhist and Christian home. Neither  women are Anglos (obviously) and both have pushed up against unimaginable adversity and triumphed. One is beloved and the other was vilified for a long long time and thankfully that is changing. Each has demonstrated a spirit and resilience that has made the impossible seem easy.

Rona Elliot Yoko Ono

I have always loved and celebrated Yoko and learned so much from her. She was an inspiration to me before I met her, with her performance art always forcing me into exploring unexamined territory.  Yoko has never feared taking an unpopular stand artistically in her physical or performance art or music as her critics have cheerfully reminded us all. For decades Yoko withstood an outpouring of vitriol with grace and humor that would’ve melted the wicked witch in Oz.  In recent years, and even in a New York Times opinion piece a month or two back there has been the great Yoko reconsideration. I didn’t need to read it.  My love has been a constant.

Before I ever interviewed Yoko or her son Sean, I loved her.  She’s a broad with guts. She’s smart and educated and never fit into a box, neither the box expected of a Japanese women of her day or the wife of a super rock  star  box , which she quickly blew to smithereens.  I’ve always believed that had Yoko been a cute, non threatening blonde, the knives wouldn’t have come out so quickly. But Yoko was a success before she met John, an artist at heart and a fierce mother. She was and remains vibrant and visionary. The fans wanted their hero, not his soul mate.

Rona Elliot with Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon

When I met Yoko to interview her, all I could see was her brilliance, and  wit, her stand for her art and her unrelenting vision and belief in the possibility of transforming the world into a better place.  This is not to say I’m blind to her foibles or anyone elses’ by the way. That said, in the face of the murder of her husband at her side and the kidnapping (and later happy reuniting with her daughter Kyoko) Yoko Ono remained steadfast in her belief in imagining peace despite the circumstances. She chose the power of life over and over. She could have retreated, no one would have blamed her, taken her money and lived a quiet life, but no.

She made music and art, demanded people come together for peace and is now calling for “No Fracking” and at last, the tide has turned. Lady Gaga is on stage with her and the kudos come pouring in.

My family and I went to Iceland a few years ago for the lighting of the John Lennon Peace Tower on a small island 20 minutes out in the ocean off Reykjavik. In the freezing and I mean freezing cold, with a chorus of little kids singing Imagine, Yoko flipped a switch and this magnificent marble tower with the words Imagine engraved in 80 languages sent a light beam burning up into the heavens. I’m sobbing and so is everyone, who else besides Yoko Ono would’ve done this?  Only this woman would’ve created this.

rona elliot yoko ono in Iceland

On the day of her birthday she was performing in Europe , then returned to her home overlooking Strawberry Fields. All I could think about was that I  hope and pray that when I’m 80 I’ll have the energy, the commitment, the health and the piece of mind to keep my eye on the ball the way she does.  Where is that eye? I think Yoko is unwavering in her desire to make the world a better place, to love one another, to express it, to envision it together and of course, to give peace a chance.

In my opinion, she opened a world to John Lennon that allowed him to discover the better man within, the better father and husband and ultimately the more expressive.   It’s tough for some people to accept it was the door Yoko Ono opened for him that allowed him to walk through it and find a quieter more authentic place within himself.

In this great drama of life we are living in, Yoko Ono has been on the world stage in a particular role holding a dream. She is 80 years old. I hope and pray she has at least twenty more years of good health and joy to continue her work inspiring and  showing me the possibilities , pushing me to think outside the box that much more.

With my family outside the Peggy Guggenheim museum in Venice, Italy we sat beneath the Imagine tree filled with Yoko’s white wishing cards, people can write their wishes and hang them onto branches. I told my boys, here is another one of Yoko’s projects – make a wish, write it and hang it on the tree.

Rona Elliot and Family with Yoko Ono

I continue to Imagine your long and magnificent life, Yoko, thank you for sharing it with all of us.

U2 – A Flashback…

U2 — let me count the ways.  The boys from Dublin have always always been in my top 5, truth be told; top 5 as rock stars and performers; and top 5 as human beings. I started working with them before Edge ever put a scarf on his head back when they first emerged as an up and coming band.  I did some interviews with them at the US Festival here in Southern California and Bono has a spiky hair do and a young beautiful face.  They were magicians from the first.  Later, as their power increased so did their self-awareness that they should use their exalted status for good and change as many of the great 80s band did as well.

Rona Elliot and U2

Over the years, I worked with U2 and interviewed them for the Today Show and MTV,  from New York and New Jersey to LA and back , and to the UK again and Dublin where I spent days on a wonderful shoot with them for their ZOO tour which genius Kevin Godley produced.  They never disappointed and always brought their hearts front and center.  Two years ago, I saw Bono at a magnificent memorial for a friend who’d passed.  We were catching up and I asked him really, what are you up to ?  In real life?  He answered me.  I work for Archbishop Tutu. Bono. There you go.

Rona Elliot and Bono

The boys in U2, really men of course, now, have always represented to me musicians and artists obviously deeply committed to the quality of their music but cognizant as well of the astonishing benefits its’ provided their lives.  And unlike some who are content just to live the good life with the fruits of their labors, they want others less fortunate to live the good life too. This is why the fanatic U2 fan remains inside my heart.

Check out my interview with the men of U2.