“America’s Only” went with another round of heavy hitters in the October 1976 issue. Brian Wilson, who was viewed more as a damaged weirdo than a sympathetic legend, gets a feature, as does the eternally magnificent Ringo Starr. Bruno Stein conducted a rather vanilla interview with Jimmy Page, but the headline – “Jimmy Page Fingering Techniques” – has its own not so subtle brilliance.
“Surf’s Up! Brian Wilson Comes Back from Lunch,” by Richard Cromelin
“’I Do Play the Drums!’ Claims Ex-Fab Four Ex Mop Top Ringo Starr,” by Richard Cromelin
“Keith Richard: ‘The Pusher’ Behind the Stones,” by Barbara Charone
“ZZ Top in Bulgaria,” by Robert Duncan
“Jimmy Page Fingering Techniques,” by Bruno Stein
The Brian Wilson interview is fascinating. He was extremely candid about his personal issues and discussed prior work such as the “Pet Sounds” album and his “pocket symphony” “Good Vibrations.” On the Beatles side of the equation, there’s probably nobody who has ever known their musical strengths and limitations better than Ringo Starr. Perhaps that’s why he’s always been at peace with himself.
In the cover story, Keith Richards takes several swipes at Mick Taylor and dismisses Bill Wyman’s solo efforts. Otherwise, little new ground is broken here. Like most of the people in his profession, Robert Duncan found that his hard-edged cynicism was no match for the southern charm of ZZ Top. In the photos that accompany Lisa Robinson’s “Eleganza” column on Elton John, Sir Elton looks like the man who made the world a safe place for Richard Simmons.
Cherie Currie, “Watching Patti Smith is morbid curiosity; it’s like looking at a dead dog in the middle of the road with its guts hanging out.”
Cliff Richard on Lynyrd Skynyrd, “I like a song that Lynyrd Skynyrd did, but I forgot the name of it, so I bought all three albums…I don’t like their lyrics though. I was looking at the lyrics on the back of one of the albums and it was the same old (English hillbilly voice), ‘My pappy said son treat a woman like you treat a horse, cause you gotta ride ‘em both.’ Aagh, that’s garbage.”
Brian Wilson, “I started taking a lot of cocaine and a lot of drugs, it threw me inward – I imploded. I withdrew from society and continued to do so for about four years.”
Ringo Starr, “I sometimes go through this little thing where I go out and sign a song and I think I’m Stevie Wonder, and then I come back in the booth to listen to it and it’s Bing Crosby, again.”
Starr, “It’s more of a personality-cum-singer than singer-cum-personality. There’s 20 million people out there can sing me out of the fucking room, but they’re not getting anywhere because they can only sing.”
Starr, “I don’t think I’ve ever topped ‘A Day in the Life,’ personally. I’m doing something, but I’ve never topped that musically.”
Elton John, “Who cares about Britt Ekland. I don’t. I mean I’ve got nothing against the lady, but I don’t want to read about Rod Stewart sticking his tongue down her throat every two minutes.”
Billy Gibbons, “I think everything has become so standardized that the idea of Texas with its vast wide open spaces, the last place you can hop in your car and drive a thousand miles an hour, drink as much beer as you can consume, and drive off the road and still keep going – I think that’s got some kind of magnetic quality for people.”
Lester Bangs on the Aerosmith “Rocks” album, “Joe Perry and Brad Whitford may be the best duel-guitar act running today – in ‘Rats in the Cellar’ they’ve finally managed to pull off a PERFECT Yardbirds steal, which makes them better than present day Zeppelin at dynamic tension.”
Summary: Richard Cromelin carried the day with his fine pieces on Brian Wilson and Ringo Starr.
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