Showing posts with label #CD review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #CD review. Show all posts

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Michael Des Barres: Silverhead Rocker & TV Villain ‘Murdoc’ Chats with Ray Shasho

By Ray Shasho

Michael Des Barres is a perfect example of how perseverance, hard work, and a positive outlook, can achieve many of life’s yearnings. Michael is an incredible story; he embraced his passion for the arts and has never looked backed.
Acting lessons at the Corona Stage School led to a supporting cast member role as “Williams,” a London East End pupil on the 1967 British drama, To Sir, with Love starring Sidney Poitier. Besides acting, Michael loved music, especially American blues and rock ‘n’ roll. He formed his first band called the Orange Illusion in his teen years.
In 1972, Michael Des Barres became frontman for British glam rockers and cult icons Silverhead. The band eventually signed with Purple Records (owned by Deep Purple) and released two essential albums, Silverhead (1972) and 16 and Savaged (1973).
Silverhead became a significant role model for future generations of glam rock groups.

After the premature disbanding of Silverhead, Michael Des Barres formed Detective. The band was signed to Led Zeppelin’s Swan Song label by legendary guitarist Jimmy Page in 1975. Detective featured guitarist Michael Monarch (Steppenwolf) and Tony Kaye (Yes). The group recorded three studio albums, Detective (1977), It Takes One to Know One (1978), and their third album was recorded on Atlantic Records but never released. (Michael remains friends with Jimmy Page and Robert Plant).
During this time Michael Des Barres appeared on the WKRP in Cincinnati television episode “Hoodlum Rock” as the infamous Sir Charles 'Dog' Weatherbee of the band Scum of the Earth. (Rob Zombie released a song called “Scum of the Earth” in 2000, and a heavy metal band by the name of Scum of the Earth was formed in 2003).

After the break-up of Detective, Michael Des Barres teamed up with Ex-Sex Pistol guitarist Steve Jones to form Chequered Past. The line-up also included bassist Nigel Harrison and drummer Clem Burke from Blondie, and guitarist Tony Sales formerly of Utopia. (The band recorded one album together called Chequered Past). Des Barres also became the lead singer of the touring and Live Aid version of The Power Station, a Duran Duran spin-off band.

Michael Des Barres penned the world-wide hit “Obsession” with Holly Knight, which became a huge hit for the LA new wave group Animation in 1985.
Des Barres states that he loves performing in front of a live audience in a rock ‘n’ roll band, but he’s also in love with all the arts, and in many shapes and forms. He’s also an accomplished actor and probably best known for playing the infamous villain ‘Murdoc’ on the popular TV series MacGyver and ‘Alex’ in the movie Pink Cadillac.
Michael has appeared in countless film, television, voice-over and stage roles and his credits are awe-inspiring. Visit for a complete listing of his credits.

At 64, Michael Des Barres continues to amaze, mystify and diversify.
In April of 2012, Des Barres reunited with Silverhead and all his old mates for the first time in 38 years. The band performed to standing room only audiences in Japan. He’s also recently appeared on the television series The Finder, Suits, and the motion picture California Solo.

More impressively, Michael Des Barres returns to his mid- 1960’s roots with an incredible hard-driving rock ‘n’ roll band initiated by old school elation. The new CD is entitled Carnaby Street and will be officially released on July 10th. Des Barres indicated, “I feel I’m part of a movement that is slipping away, I have something to bring to the table that is endangered of being swept under the carpet.”
After listening to Carnaby Street, two things became certain …rock ‘n’ roll needs Michael Des Barres and we need more Michael Des Barres. The band is incredibly tight and Des Barres’ vocals are majestic. Des Barres embellishes the essence of a ‘British rocker’ by epitomizing Rod Stewart, Noddy Holder and Steve Marriott all in one voice. It’s an incredible musical journey back to the swinging rock ‘n’ roll days of London. Carnaby Street is a natural flow of raw rock energy reminiscent to the days when rock was king. The Brits are back and ready to rock!
I had a chance to chat with Michael last week about the new CD, his inspiring music and acting career, his rock and roll mates, and creating opportunities in life.
I found Michael to be brilliant, receptive, spiritual, charming, and a bloody rocker to the end!

Here’s my interview with the iconic British glam rocker, singer, songwriter, guitarist, actor… Michael Des Barres, as he takes us back to the “Garden of Eden for rock ‘n’roll.”
Ray Shasho: Hello Michael, how are you?
Michael Des Barres: “I’m good man, how are you?”
Ray Shasho: It’s great to be chatting with the original frontman for Scum of the Earth.
Michael Des Barres: “(All Laughing!) I get stopped for many reasons but that was definitely one of the top five. It seemed to define some sort of a Spinal Tap moment for the punk generation. It had an amazing penetration in the media … and it stayed there. That show was so much fun to do.”
Ray Shasho: Michael, I want to say congrats on such an awesome and inspiring career. I’ve heard you talk about how you’ve obtained one of your first acting roles on “To Sir With Love” but it seems you’ve created so many great opportunities for yourself in the entertainment business, how was that possible for you?
Michael Des Barres: “I think you hit the nail on the head in terms of creating opportunities. I think the way you create opportunity is to believe … it wasn’t a choice to be an artist it was something that I never ever questioned. I really knew deep within that what I wanted to do most was express myself in whatever form. I could have done a sculpture, been a painter, taken photographs or whatever, there was something inside that I wanted to get out and the universe provided these wonderful ways of doing it. I never really gave it that much thought, right now I’m sounding too metaphysical for my own good. But I do believe that if you really have faith, and you trust that you have something to offer the world, you will be given that opportunity.”
“But I did work very hard … I was in boarding school for eight years and spent a lot of time reading, because I didn’t have parents, and I spent a lot of time alone. So I took advantage of my education and read everything that I could get my hands on. By the time I was 15 or 16, I knew kind of where I wanted to go. I loved the blues and I loved Shakespeare. Loved Oscar Wilde and loved Elvis, and there was this strange hybrid of influences. I wanted to act and went to drama school. Within months we were given the opportunity to work on To Sir with Love in 1967, which was a huge international success, and I tasted it, and saw what it was like, and saw how Sidney handled himself. Connery was doing Bond at the same time, so I was exposed to great charismatic actors very early on and knew the parameters of what could happen and how it could be done, so I watched and studied them. After the movie I did a lot of theater which gave me a defining discipline, which when I got addicted to everything you could become addicted to, I still had that skeleton of discipline.”
Ray Shasho: Blues and Shakespeare, Michael you are a genuine renaissance man.
Michael Des Barres: “Yea, you know … Muddy Waters and Hamlet that about sums it up. Art is both inspired and inspiring and that’s all ever wanted to do.”
Ray Shasho: I want to chat about your new CD Carnaby Street. Your voice sounds amazing man; it’s a great album, stick to being a rocker for awhile because today’s music scene really needs you.
Michael Des Barres: “You’re so incredibly kind to say that. You know what I do … I’ve been killing people on TV for years (laughing) and “Murdoc” was very good to me and I love my career as an actor… however… really what I want to do is stand on the stage of a club anywhere and plug my guitar in and sing the f-ing blues. And it’s really all I want to do. The words and feel of Carnaby Street is freedom through music… liberation with three chords. You can liberate yourself in the most simplistic way. My music is no way ironic, sarcastic, aggressive, sentimental or apologetic … it’s below the waist music. Rock ‘n’ roll is a euphemism for f-ing and dancing. And by saying that I don’t mean to be crude, I’m just saying perhaps that has been lost on a generation raised on Wellbutrin and Prozac.”
“Jack White and the Stripes, The Black Keyes, Alabama Shakes, there are innumerable bands that play authentic and genuine rock ‘n’ roll music. And I don’t mean I’m the head of an army of authenticity because I believe there are many people doing it. But I just want to add my take on it since I was there. I mean there were very few people singing rock ‘n’ roll music in 1967 at many nightclubs, and are still doing that. I am a rare breed by that definition.”
Ray Shasho: 'Carnaby Street' is just a natural flow of raw rock ‘n’ roll energy and reminiscent to the days when rock was king.
Michael Des Barres: “I recorded and mixed it in 10 days. Everything you hear on that record was done in the moment. There were perhaps backup vocals but no overdubs on the album. That album was done because my band is so extraordinary and so in love with that music. You don’t THINK when you’re playing that music. Everything you hear is one take. I wrote all the tunes and collaborated with the very talented country artist Jesse Dayton. I stayed in Austin, Texas for a month writing this album and met Jesse, and he was all about the music and very inspiring. And the rest of the record I wrote with Paul Hill, who is my bass player, and unbelievably talented. He’s Linda Perry’s bass player for all her productions, Tina Turner, James Blunt … the list is endless. And he has the same DNA as I do, as does the rest of the band. I’m very proud of the album and you’re the first person who I’ve spoken to who has heard it. It hasn’t even been sent out particularly yet, so I do appreciate your diligence.”
Ray Shasho: I’ve always been a huge fan of British rock … another reason why I love this CD.
Michael Des Barres: “Well that’s what it is … that’s why it’s got a Union Jack on the cover, and why I called it Carnaby Street. When I was a kid … 15, 16, 17, I would go and see Georgie Fame, Alexis Korner, Long John Baldry … Rod, Terry Reid, Beck, and then Hendrix and so on and so on. So when I was acting my little ass off, I was listening and so taken by the revolution that was happening every minute. Can you imagine what it was like in London in 1967? It was everything you think it was. Every ten feet was a gorgeous girl, with a gorgeous boy, in gorgeous clothes, listening to stunning music. It was the Garden of Eden for rock ‘n’roll.”
Ray Shasho: You’re kind of a cult figure because of the TV character ‘Murdoc’ on MacGyver, but you also have cult status for being the frontman in the bands Silverhead and Detective. Why were those incredible bands short-lived?
Michael Des Barres: “Well one word and you’ve heard it before, it begins with D and ends with S. And that’s the reason. I look back at those days and don’t regret the fact that we didn’t sell 25- million albums, for me they were some of the best rock and roll bands ever. I’m so proud of being a member of those bands and what we were capable of… even in those circumstances.”
“We were 19 in Silverhead and never experienced about going to Japan or the states, and the temptations were so incredible and we succumbed to them. In Detective we were sponsored by Led Zeppelin at the height of their decadence, so the fact that we even put an album out is a miracle. We were very indulgent and addictive and we succumbed to those things. But even given those circumstances, we made some great records and people have enjoyed them. But all I know is that I’m happy. I’m happy it happened because I’ve learned a lot about what life is.”
“The fact that I’m doing this now …money is not the issue, it’s not like I’m hungry to pay my rent, I’m doing this for the fact… I feel I’m part of a movement that is slipping away. I feel I have something to bring to the table that is endangered of being swept under the carpet.”
Ray Shasho: I heard Rod Stewart, Steve Marriott and Noddy Holder on Carnaby Street.
Michael Des Barres: “I think Noddy Holder was the best of them all. Noddy Holder had the greatest, humorous, bluesy voice of any of them. I have the deepest respect for Noddy, we came up at the same time and I adored him. His voice was like Steve’s … so big. Silverhead opened for Humble Pie a couple of times and I would just sit there and be astonished at this little tiny fellow and this incredible voice. Recently, I did a gig with Jerry Shirley and a tribute to Humble Pie. Steve was an actor, he went to drama school and played the Artful Dodger, we’d all go on auditions before the world changed and everyone was in high heels and eye makeup.”
Ray Shasho: I think you’re one of the only singers around that can hit the same notes like they could.
Michael Des Barres: “I find it really easy for some reason. (Laughing) I’m 64, and a few years ago when I decided I was going to make a record, I played every nightclub that would let me play and my voice came back, still stronger than ever.”
“It’s interesting, Robert Plant has remained a really good friend, and I love him and Jimmy you know, and there’s a reason he doesn’t want to sing those songs anymore. He turned to me one day and said, “I just can’t sing about lemon juice down my leg anymore …I just can’t do it, it would be like a 15 year old playing Romeo.” And he’s the one that has been incredibly creative with his career.”
Ray Shasho: I enjoyed the interview you did on You Tube with Pete Townshend and Gene Simmons. Did you have your own radio show too?
Michael Des Barres: “I was asked once but didn’t enjoy it very much. I love Gene, and Pete is a God you know, and love to interview people as you do, it’s a wonderful conversation to have but I don’t want to do it every day. I love to work and I have to work … it’s a compulsion.”
Ray Shasho: The Silverhead reunion this year in Japan had to be a blast.
Michael Des Barres: “Thirty-eight years I haven’t seen these guys… accept for Nigel. We all live in different countries so we had to regroup in Tokyo. Picture this… walking into a room in Tokyo with all the gear there and all these glam kids outside screaming and yelling, and we walk in there and I see these guys that I haven’t seen in 38 years, and the first half an hour is … I’m so sorry that I slept with your girlfriend … and it’s all very intimate, but within a half an hour its turn the f*** down I can’t hear myself! We only rehearsed for three days and to grasp it all in that short time frame was not an easy thing.”
“With Silverhead, we were always the band that was trying to seduce the audience; we were touring with Uriah Heep, Deep Purple etc. Always trying to win the audience over … skinny little bastards with makeup on in Mobile, Alabama in 1972 … we were a target for the boys and a different kind of target for the girls. We had a big bulls-eye on our ass!”
“When we went to Japan a few months ago and we played, everybody new every syllable to every song and for the first time in our lives, they knew who we were. It was a phenomenon and shocking to us. After that first gig, Robbie was in a corner literally with tears flowing down his cheeks. It was a very emotional closure for the band. We would have never experienced the closure if we would have gone on to make multiple albums in that one band …it would have been a different life.”
Ray Shasho: You’re the second rock star that I’ve interviewed who played a part in Seinfeld. Joe Lala of (Blues Image, Stephen Stills and Manassas), was in “The Face Painter” episode. He’s the only rocker who I know that became a veteran actor besides you. I know David Bowie and Mick Jagger played some parts but not to the extent of you and Joe.
Michael Des Barres: “I worked with Mick … I did The Man from Elysian Fields with him and Andy Garcia, James Coburn… and he was fantastic in it … great movie!”
Ray Shasho: I hope Mick and the Stones can do one more tour … maybe a goodbye tour of some sorts.
Michael Des Barres: “I don’t think it will be a tour per se, they’ll probably do 10-12 cities, 2 or 3 nights in those cities and call it a day. Maybe not even a tour, they might do a satellite thing. I can’t imagine Keith, Charlie is 71 now; I just don’t see them doing a year and a half of vigorous touring. I imagine they’ll do selective cities or a satellite show.”
Ray Shasho: You’re still good friends with Jimmy Page, how’s he doing?
Michael Des Barres: “Great… unbelievably well. Joyous, doesn’t live in the past, lives in the moment and does his thing. I would love to make an album with Jimmy. I’ve said many times to him let’s do it. But right now this record Carnaby Street is terribly important to me and I think people are going to be shocked about how I’m singing, what the songs are, and a bit of a revelation for people who didn’t get it the first time.”
Ray Shasho: Did you actually turn down singing the role for Judas on the soundtrack of Jesus Christ Superstar?
Michael Des Barres: “I did yea. The last thing I wanted to do back then was to go into a studio at 3:20 and sing “What’s the buzz tell me what’s a happening.” There was no way that I had the discipline at that time, because I was learning about life, sex, love and how to go f*ing wild. I didn’t want to have to show up at a particular time and do someone else’s work. I wanted to create my own work.”
Ray Shasho: Michael a final question, you are incredibly fit, how do you do it man?
Michael Des Barres: “It’s very simple … I get up very early and drink a gallon of black coffee, then read about myself on the internet(laughing), then go to the gym and do my cardio … don’t have a trainer I know exactly what I’m doing. An hour and fifteen minutes in the gym, come home and shower, sit-down with a guitar around my neck or some lines to learn and get on with the work. In terms of food … I don’t eat sugar, potatoes or bread. I eat lean fish, no red meat, eat a lot of vegetables and fruit, and drink a lot of water. But I strongly suggest that sugar is the worst thing you could do. I just love being able to walk down the street with my head held high, my shoulders back, Buddy Guy in my iPod, and the love of a good woman.”
Ray Shasho: Michael, thank you so much for spending time with me today and more importantly for all the great rock ‘n’ roll music you continue to bring to us all.
Michael Des Barres: “Thank you so much Ray and have a GREAT day!”

The new release from The Michael Des Barres Band Carnaby Street will be officially released on July 10th and is available for pre-order at or
Michael Des Barres official website
Special thanks to the great Billy James at Glass Onyon PR
Official website

Contact Classic Rock Music Reporter Ray Shasho at

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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Interview: NILS LOFGREN Springsteen Guitar Virtuoso: -Review ‘Old School’

By Ray Shasho

Throughout a brilliant musical career, Nils Lofgren has been distinguished by his peers for his proficient guitar styles. Lofgren is a member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. On March 18th the band launches the ‘Wrecking Ball’ 2012 tour including a performance at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on March 23rd.
Nils Lofgren’s band Grin proclaimed instant popularity around the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore music scenes in the late 60’s. After visiting with Neil Young in California, an 18 year old Lofgren was invited to play guitar and piano on ‘After the Gold Rush,’ and briefly became a member of Young’s pivotal band Crazy Horse. Lofgren also played on Neil Young’s album, ‘Tonight’s the Night.’ It was Lofgren’s Neil Young & Crazy Horse references that landed a record deal for his band Grin.

Grin spawned the Top 40 hit, “White Lies” but later disbanded by 1974.
After the breakup, Lofgren released his critically acclaimed self titled solo release (also referred as the “Fat Man Album”) featuring renowned drummer Aynsley Dunbar. Lofgren followed his debut album with, ‘Cry Tough’ featuring legendary multi-instrumentalist Al Kooper. Nils Lofgren maintained his status for collaborating with rock and roll’s elite by co-composing several tracks with Lou Reed on his album, ‘Nils’ in 1979.
In 1984, Nils Lofgren joined Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.
In addition to working with Springsteen, Lofgren has toured twice with Ringo Starr’s All-Star Band and continues to release solo efforts. His album, ‘Sacred Weapon’ featured guest appearances by David Crosby, Graham Nash and Willie Nelson.
Nils had double hip replacement surgery in 2008. He attributed his injuries to thousands of hours of playing basketball on cement floors at city courts, and doing back flips with his guitar, dive rolls, and leaping off drum risers during performances.
Nils Lofgren’s latest release is titled, ‘Old School.’ The CD includes unforgettable performances by Sam Moore (Sam & Dave), Paul Rodgers (Free, Bad Company) and Lou Gramm (Foreigner). It’s an extraordinary collection of sentimental verse written by Lofgren. The melancholy, “Irish Angel” was composed by Bruce McCabe and “Let Her Get Away” was co-written with Lofgren’s late D.C. chum Root Boy Slim. Lofgren’s saavy composition, “60 is the new 18” reflects on a long musical career. “Old School is sung with former Foreigner frontman Lou Gramm. Nils pays homage to Ray Charles on the track, “Miss You Ray.” Other notable tracks on the CD include my personal favorite, “Amy Joan Blues” a backwoods bluesy ditty featuring Nils and Paul Rodgers. “Ain’t Too Many of Us Left” features incredible guitar licks by the master (Nils Lofgren) and a rockin’ duet with Sam Moore. “Just Because You Love Me” is a Springsteen induced harmony composed and performed with Lofgren flare. Another favorite, “Dream Big” enters the realm of progressive rock while Lofgren injects incredible jazz & rock fusion guitar licks. Lofgren dedicates the entire album to longtime Springsteen/E Street bandmate and friend Clarence “Big Man” Clemons who passed away in June of 2011.
I had a most enjoyable and rather lengthy chat with fellow D.C. native Nils Lofgren last week about the upcoming ‘Wrecking Ball’ 2012 tour featuring Bruce Springsteen/E Street Band, his latest release ‘Old School,’ and all the legendary artists that helped shape his career.
Here’s my interview with guitar virtuoso/singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist/E Street Band member/ NILS LOFGREN.
Ray Shasho: Nils, thank you for being on the call today. Of course, we’re all looking forward to the upcoming Springsteen and E Street Band tour. You guys will be here in Tampa on March 23rd andit’s going to be a great show. Are those bionic hips going to be ready for another tour?
Nils Lofgren: “Yea, knock on wood. I gave them a good work out on the ‘Working on a Dream’ tour and the last two years I’ve been out doing an acoustic duo which is quite aggressive. And of course I’m singing all night which is another more winded thing then singing background. So I’m excited and in good shape. I’m being smart, not playing basketball or jumping off trampolines anymore.”
Ray Shasho: So no more back flips on stage?
Nils Lofgren: “Well, the surgeon promised me that it would be a very dangerous and irresponsible thing to do now. The new metal hips like motion and they don’t like impact. He said you can hop around and have a ball, but if you start jumping off drum risers or trampolines you’re going to destroy your new hips and might be a cripple. It was a pretty rough experience getting them both replaced at the same time and shocked the hell out of me. But I’m walking around pain free and I’ve been touring now for three years without pain, so the last thing I want to do is go back to the pain. It was terrible; both hips were bone on bone for about the last five years and I just couldn’t believe that I did that to myself. They figured out that it had a lot to do with basketball and city courts which I played all the time. And I love the game as with the trampoline, but they both contributed to it.”
Ray Shasho: I’m noticing a lot of performers getting knee replacements at early ages too.
Nils Lofgren: “The first three block walk that I was going to take as therapy… my wife Amy had moved into the hospital with me, and my therapist at HSS in New York, we all took a three block walk with my walker and maybe by then it was two canes, and we went to visit Clarence Clemons after he had his first of two knees replaced. And he was in bed and in traction. He and I stood next to each other for twenty seven years and I watched him go through all those replacement surgeries and comeback from it and stay well enough to do what he did with us. I had great admiration for him and miss him terribly. But it was pretty wild to take my first real walk and then go see him with his new knee.”
Ray Shasho: How long did it take for you to recoup and start walking around normal again?
Nils Lofgren: “The first 6 to 8 weeks were really intense and then I was really kind of fragile and ginger walking around with a cane for a month or two. Then you get back to normal after a year… year and half, it’ll keep getting stronger and a lot of the restrictions get lifted slowly… like three weeks in if you’re real careful you can drive a couple of blocks but you can’t really go on the freeway. They say don’t ever get into an accident or ever fall the first two months. Two hips at the same time are different than one and I had to take it a bit slower and more carefully. But I had a great surgeon, Paul Pellicci out of HSS in New York City, Hospital for Special Surgery, and man, he did a great job…knock on wood, I’m raring to go jumping around in rehearsals, no pain… feeling good, and keeping the trampoline in the closet.”
Ray Shasho: Like you, I grew up around the D.C. music scene; I remember your band Grin being very popular back in those days. And you were friends with some of DC’s great artist including Root Boy Slim.
Nils Lofgren: “I was a good friend of Root Boy’s; we wrote a great song together decades ago, and Roy Buchanan was a friend and mentor… taught me stuff on the guitar and was one of my favorites. I think Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck and Roy Buchanan were probably my top three influences. But there was a great music scene there. The Cellar Door had wonderful artists all the time, I saw Muddy Waters there, B.B. King many times, Tim Hardin, Neil Young & Crazy Horse… I saw four shows there when I met him. The Apple Pie across the street was a Mecca for jamming, all the musicians gathered there and the club owners let us play whatever we wanted. It was a really cool music scene especially in the late 60’s.”
Ray Shasho: My dad owned retail electronic stores on F Street in D.C. since 1962 and I wrote a book about my experiences of growing up on F Street in Washington D.C… so I feel like I’m talking with one of my old buddies right now.
Nils Lofgren: “Well you are man; I had a wonderful and magical musical adventure in the D.C. area growing up.”
Ray Shasho: You’re living in Arizona these days?
Nils Lofgren: “I’ve been in Scottsdale, Arizona just coming up on seventeen years with my wife Amy who is originally from West Orange, New Jersey. She’s a fabulous professional cook but settled out there over twenty five years ago and met her at the Rocking Horse, a rock club there over seventeen years ago. Kind of a wild story, we had our first get together after a gig of mine at the Stone Pony way back in the early 80’s, and she had a job and I wanted her to get on a tour bus to Boston which left at 6a.m. because I just loved being with her. She didn’t come to Boston; she felt that she had to stay there with her job and I thought… well I’m in a bar in Jersey just about every month, so I’ll see her soon, and I didn’t see her for fifteen years. She walked up at the end of a show in Scottsdale and said, “Do you remember me?” We were both at the end of divorces, so we started dating and we’ve been together ever since.”
Ray Shasho: That’s a great story.
Nils Lofgren: “Yea, it was a hell of a wait; I told her that she could have saved me a lot of aggravation if she had just come to Boston. But I was probably too crazy for her at that point, so it all worked man. I’m blessed with a great wife, we’ve got six dogs, my mom and brothers are still around in the D.C. area and I just played the Birchmere with my brother, and I’m very grateful to go back there and play…it’s a special gig.”
Ray Shasho: I remember Grin playing at Painters Mill in Baltimore.
Nils Lofgren: “Oh yea, Painters Mill… when we went on they had that stage that turned (a revolving stage).About half way through my show, I noticed these bouncers giving me dirty looks. I looked down and saw these guys pushing the stage around giving me dirty looks because the motor broke.  I’m wondering what the hell is going on? I got word from the promoter that the thing broke and I’m having my guys turn it. Meanwhile, I’m surrounded by these bouncers giving me dirty looks. I told him, come on man we don’t need to spin it around. He said, oh no-no that’s part of what the people pay for. That’s my Painters Mill story …but I saw great bands and I got to play there with the Pretenders on their first U.S. tour and saw a lot of great music there.”
Ray Shasho: You were pretty young when you were in Grin and met so many influential artists early on in your career.
Nils Lofgren: “I hit the road when I was seventeen; we went out to LA to look for a record deal. When I made the decision to turn professional it was really not a popular decision, nobody did that in my community in the mid 60’s. I really felt that I didn’t know what I was doing, although I felt like I needed to do it. So I sneaked backstage whenever I could. I mean mythical bands like Jeff Beck’s band, I’d sneak backstage … Ronnie Wood and Rod Stewart would let me hang out with them and I’d follow them around the east coast. They’d let me come up to their hotel room and chit chat and just be a fly on the wall… and were very supportive. A couple of years later Grin opened up for the Faces. (At that point Wood & Stewart had just joined the Faces)”
“I was blessed to meet a lot of good people and get a lot of good advice, and of course a critical meeting was walking in on Neil Young & Crazy Horse and Neil gave me his guitar and let me sing for him, spent two days with him. Grin was leaving for LA in about three weeks and he said look me up, and I did. True to his word, he helped us out and carried us out to David Briggs who mentored us and produced us. While we were doing our business thing looking for a break and a deal, a year later when I was eighteen, Neil asked me to play on the, ‘After the Gold Rush’ project which was just an amazing experience.”     
Ray Shasho: In 1974 after Grin disbanded your debut solo LP called the ‘Fat Man Album’ was released. The album was critically acclaimed and they’re still talking about it in D.C. and Baltimore. And the great Aynsley Dunbar played drums on the album.
Nils Lofgren: “David Briggs who produced it had this great idea … I wrote for months and came up with this big batch of songs and then he brought in Wornell, (Wornell Jones) and he and I just jammed together whether it was acoustic guitar or piano and bass, and really got to own the songs, improv and have fun… got to really know them. Then to keep it real and fresh they brought in Aynsley with no tapes and no idea what he was going to play other than rock and roll. So he learned the songs quickly instead of hours and hours of… how does the bridge go, can we play it again? Me and Wornell had all the color instruments down, and as a trio we were able to very quickly get powerful takes because it was all fresh to us. Wornell and I were really into it but had never played with a drummer, and Aynsley had never even heard the songs. So it was a good layout the way David put it together.”
Ray Shasho: You also collaborated with Lou Reed?
Nils Lofgren: “When I made the ‘Nils’ record, Bob Ezrin the producer took me down to Lou’s studio, he was making a record and they had worked together before. He said ask Lou if he’d consider doing some co-writing. Lou and I out of respect for Bob got together and talked about it and came up with a plan. I had all this unfinished music and some had lyrics, titles and themes. Lou thought his forte was lyrics, mine was music… and for starters he said, “Why don’t you just send me the songs.” The idea was to change anything and everything. A month went by and I thought he wasn’t interested and then he woke me up one morning … I was in Maryland and he called from New York and it was like 4a.m. Lou said, “Hey I’ve been up for three days and nights, I loved your tapes here are thirteen sets of lyrics, why don’t you get a pen and paper I’ll dictate them. It was so cool man, I put on a pot of coffee, it was pitch black outside and I’m on the phone with Lou Reed dictating thirteen finished songs. When I hung up… I had just co-written thirteen songs with Lou Reed. So that was pretty wild. I used three of them and he used three of them and I’ve since used a couple more on my record. There was a beautiful song called, “Life” it was on the ‘Damaged Goods’ album, “Driftin’ Man” was on the ‘Break Away Angel’ album. There are five or six other gems sitting in the basement that I’ve got to get out and share with people in the future.”
Ray Shasho: Not many artists can say that they’ve collaborated with Lou Reed.
Nils Lofgren: “No… it was Bob Ezrin’s idea and Lou was really cool. It’s funny because when we met at his apartment, I’m a Washington Redskins fan and a pretty rabid football fan. Lou is a giant football fan and loves the Dallas Cowboys, and there was a Redskins Vs Cowboys rivalry on TV that night. So we both had some drinks and it was a great thing to watch a three hour game and as a backup to the game have a casual chit chat about writing together while we were both really engaged in the game. I don’t remember who won but it was fun.”
Ray Shasho: You’ve got a lot happening on your website. Since the debacle of the music business, most classic rock artists sell their music on their official websites along with other cool services offered to their fans. 
Nils Lofgren: “I’ve got a guitar school there for beginners and intermediate players on my website. I’ve got a lot of free music downloads, I’ve got this wild project, ‘Blind Date Jam’ where musicians walk into a room and go to town jamming with no rehearsal or preproduction and walk away and see what comes of it. It’s just fun… I have the freedom to do whatever ideas I’m proud of and share it with the audience.”
Ray Shasho: Let’s talk about your latest release, “Old School.” One of my favorite tunes on the album is, “Amy Joan Blues.”
Nils Lofgren: “I was doing this bottleneck blues thing; I never played that instrument for the last ten years with Bruce as a swing man in the E Street Band.”
“But that was just a bottleneck blues I was working on and the next thing I knew I had a good track live and I thought …why don’t I see if Paul Rodgers will sing some harmony on it. He can sing the hell out of anything and it was a great honor to have him on the album.”
Ray Shasho: Lou Gramm also performs on your album, he was such a great voice with Foreigner and an extremely underrated singer.   
Nils Lofgren: “He remains one of the great singers in rock history. Back in the mid 80’s, I worked on his first two solo records, and he’s just a real sweet soulful guy, and really kind and musically given, and I had a ball working with him. We stayed friends through the years and I asked him to help me out and he stepped up and knocked it out of the park for me.”
Ray Shasho: Besides Lou Gramm and Paul Rodgers, R&B legend Sam Moore contributed on, “Ain’t Too Many Of Us Left.”
Nils Lofgren: “When I had my hips replaced and feeling like a truck had hit me, feeling really beat up in the hospital, just about two days in… my wife took a call and it was Neil Young. Friends were calling me and wishing me well and she put the phone to my head and he was giving me a pep talk about getting well which I was very grateful for and he said, “Heal up and get well because thereain’t too many of us left.” I thought, man that’s going to be a good song some day and this is the album to do it. And of course that’s the great Sam Moore who is a fellow resident of Scottsdale, and I’ve been doing charity events and bumping into Sam for fifteen years and of course he’s been out playing with the E Street Band occasionally and a good friend of Bruce’s and we backed him up at the hall of fame show. I was thrilled when I said can you listen to the track and tell me what you think. He came into the studio and we did it live looking at each other. It was very special.”
Ray Shasho: ‘Old School’ is a very special album isn’t it?
Nils Lofgren: “Yea, this is one of the greatest records that I’ve made; to me it’s my favorite, only in the sense that I’ve past 43 years on the road, coming up on 60 years of age, and I wanted the record to be authentic. There’s a lot of good and bad about being around for awhile, I’ve been very blessed and have a lot of things to be grateful for, also have some fears and anxieties. I wanted the record to be an authentic reflection of all those things I was feeling. I wrote a song about one of my heroes Ray Charles, who we had to lose a few years ago; of course months after I wrote it, Clarence goes and passes away on us.”
Ray Shasho: Nils, have you done a full- fledged blues album, I’d love to see that happen.
Nils Lofgren: “I have not; it’s funny you say that, I’m starting to think for my next record I may get some great players in and maybe do more of a live blues type thing with very little to nonproduction in a live setting and that’s actually an idea that I’ve been playing with. That record is far away right now but that idea is very valid.”
“I did music for the All-Madden Team (‘Tuff Stuff The Best Of The All-Madden Team Band’) real raw rock and roll with Mark Wenner the great harpist of The Nighthawks, and Ron Holloway on screaming sax, Al Smith another great sax player …yea it’s a cool record, they’ve used it for years but of course you never hear it because they’re talking over it, and I asked John if I could put it out as an instrumental piece and he even put some football expressions in some of the songs.”
Ray Shasho: Talk about the Wack Brothers.
Nils Lofgren: “Well I made these two great albums with Patti Scialfa over the last two years, and the core session band was Steve Jordan producing with Patti and drumming. We’d have Willie Weeks on bass and sometimes Bruce on Bass. Bruce and I would be the swing guys on keyboards or guitars and sometimes we’d have Chris Carter on keyboards, and just this great core of musicians, we’re in Patti’s and Bruce’s home studio so it’s in a very relaxed setting, so we’re just having fun and exploring if you will. One day I remember I got this wild idea on a guitar…this funk thing and I was going off and the notes were crazy and I really got deep into it but it was feeling good and we finally stopped jamming, we weren’t even rolling tape, just practicing, and we were kind of laughing because it was out there, so I think Bruce just looked at me and said, “Man that’s kind of Wacked” and I said yea it kind of was. But later that day everyone else came up with something wacked. So as we hunt for gold we keep getting kind of wacked on our journey… so why don’t we just call ourselves The Wack Brothers.”
Ray Shasho: What’s your favorite Springsteen song to play on stage?
Nils Lofgren: “Aw man there’s way too many. I don’t have one song, there’s so many great songs to play but I’ve always loved playing, “Downbound Train,” “I’m On Fire,” I love playing, “Dancing In The Dark” …that’s a lot of fun too. But some of the old songs just the rip roaring rockers like “Ramrod,” the dinosaur rock stomp groove that could go on for days. There are hundreds of them but those are the few that come to mind.”
Ray Shasho: Do you or Bruce get pumped up before for a show in any special way…preshow rituals?
Nils Lofgren: “Everyone has got their own method for preparing; I like to go over early and have a few hours before the band shows up and put my hands on all these oddball instruments I’m playing. Just kind of digest the set we’re doing and maybe do some guess work about what Bruce might be coming in and out with…  even he doesn’t know until its mid show. Just kind of getting my head in the game, I’m also 60 with two metal hips, I’ve got to spend some time kind of stretching and heating up a little bit because I’m on the front lines running around quite a bit, and I want to be able to keep being able to do that. So, eat something but not too much, be smart about all of it and get ready for a powerful show.
Ray Shasho: Were there Silvio Dante (Sopranos) character bantering amongst the band members?
Nils Lofgren:  “Well of course. We’re really proud of him and big fans of Silvio and that show. But that’s who Steve is basically as a character, just a rock and roll pirate off the set of the Sopranos… great personality and really passionate. He and Bruce got that rock and roll thing going on, rough duet voices… kind of like Mick and Keith, and there’s really no one else doing that. We just got a great band, lots of different characters, and a lot of different tools that everybody brings to the show. It’s just beautiful that everybody is together making music.”
Ray Shasho: Nils, thank you so much for talking with me today and for all the great music throughout the years. You are truly a gifted performer.
Nils Lofgren: Thanks so much, I’m thrilled to be able to spread the word and you take care of yourself.
Ray Shasho:We’ll see you at the show in Tampa.

Nils Lofgren along with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band will be playing at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Saturday, March 23rd. Visit for ticket information or call 813-301-2500.

Order Nils Lofgren’s new CD ‘Old School’ at or
Nils Lofgren official website
Nils Lofgren offers guitar lessons at
Bruce Springsteen official website

Very special thanks to the Albright Entertainment Group

Contact Ray Shasho at

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