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Help Marshall Crenshaw Fund Documentary About Legendary Producer Tom Wilson


Sure, you and I are music guys so we know all about producer Tom Wilson though the all is so huge perhaps some of is closer to the truth. Wilson was a legend, who worked with everyone from Coltrane to Zappa, with Dylan in the middle. He died in the 70s at the age of 47 from a heart attack.

Meanwhile, one of the very best songwriters ever, Marshall Crenshaw, has also been known to be one part music historian. His book “Hollywood Rock” is a must read, and now he has added a dimension to his historic muse, with a kickstarter campaign to fund a documentary, looking for a trifling 25K to tell a story that should be told, here.

This is Marshall explaining the project:


Hello, and thanks for your interest.. The goal of this campaign is to create a fundraising trailer for a documentary about legendary record producer Tom Wilson. It was he who signed The Velvet Underground to Verve/MGM Records and produced their first two albums, signed Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention to Verve/MGM Records and produced their first three albums, became Bob Dylan’s record producer in 1962 (halfway through “The Freewheeling Bob Dylan” album), continuing through 1965 and “Like a Rolling Stone” (the period during which Dylan gradually “went electric”), produced the first album by then-acoustic Folk duo Simon and Garfunkel (“Wednesday Morning, 3 AM”), then seriously launched their career by unilaterally deciding to add electric instruments to “The Sound of Silence” (Legendary record producer John Simon told me that he thought that Wilson did it as an “intellectual exercise”). Wilson “discovered” Sun Ra and The Arkestra, producing and releasing their first two albums on Transition Records, a label that Wilson established right after graduating Cum Laude from Harvard in 1955. Wilson “discovered” Cecil Taylor and produced his first album, “Jazz Advance”, for the Transition label. These are just the bullet points of Wilson’s artistic legacy; to put it in a nutshell, he was a visionary, someone that moved the Culture, saw the future and set about helping to create it, was one of the architects of Popular Music as we’ve known it since the 1960s and still know it today… And up until just recently he was pretty much a forgotten figure.

To personalize this, I got hooked on the idea of a Tom Wilson documentary back in October, 2013, when my friend Irwin Chusid launched this superb website (, which I encourage you to peruse. I looked it over, then wrote to Irwin and said, “Irwin, this guy was a f#cking giant! And where’s the recognition?” I then proceeded to do two weeks in a row of my radio show (“The Bottomless Pit”, 10 PM EST, Saturday nights on WFUV) in honor of TW; these shows were wonderfully well-received, but the whole story stayed in my head and wouldn’t leave. Finally, I wrote to Irwin again and said “I’m thinking that I should make the documentary myself. Am I nuts?” He wrote back and said “Not necessarily..”, and so now, here we are.. At this point it’s an obsession: I wake up in the morning and I’m thinking about it, go to bed at night and I’m thinking about it, etc.

As I mention in the video (many thanks to Emery Ruger and Ledgerock Studio!!), I’ve already begun shooting the film, conducting interviews… Ultimately the film will be a team effort of course, but up to now it’s been just me (working with some great camerapersons!). Achieving the fundraising goal here will enable me to move things to the next phase. (And, my sense is that it’ll enable a goodly percentage of the shooting and editing of the project. With music documentaries, of course, the bulk of the budget goes for licensing fees, and that will ultimately be the case here..)

Here’s a short list of individuals who I’ll call, at this point, “Allies, Consultants, and Interested Parties”: Robert Stone (celebrated documentary filmmaker), Craig Street, John Simon (legendary record producers), Warren Zanes, PhD., Judy Tint (Attorney, long-time Rhythm and Blues Foundation Board member), Dave Marsh (author, music-lover, host of Sirius/XM’s “Kick Out the Jams”), Bob Merlis (publicist, author, beloved figure), musicologist Irwin Chusid (it’s all his fault), and filmmaker/TV producer George Billard. This list is growing; part of the process that I’m going through now is engaging with possible collaborators. Again, ultimately there’ll be a team in place..

I’m determined to make this happen, won’t rest until it happens! At the risk of sounding cute, I’ve already seen the movie in my head, and it’s GOOD….


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