MWE3 Feature Story
conducted by Robert Silverstein for 
mwe3.com and 20th Century Guitar 

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Continued From Home Page


The Time To Live Is Now!

an interview with BUZZY LINHART


by Robert Silverstein


Music fans who lived in New York City in early 1971 knew about Buzzy Linhart. One of the all time greatest singer-songwriters, a guitarist and vibraphone master, Buzzy came to live in New York City at the start of the historic folk-rock explosion in the early 1960’s. Backing up Fred Neil and Tim Hardin down in the Village, Buzzy soon gained the respect of giants such as Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan before recording his debut album, buzzy in London in 1968. Buzzy’s most incredible album, 1970’s Buzzy Linhart Is Music was the first big production to be recorded at Electric Lady studios in New York’s fabled downtown East 8th street area, one block east of the Avenue of the Americas. Engineered by Jimi Hendrix producer Eddie Kramer, the Buzzy Linhart Is Music Lp was instantly proclaimed as a rock studio masterpiece when it came out. The years flew by and Buzzy left the limelight of the rock world and is now settled in the Berkeley area. In a twist of fate, late in 2005 film director Shelly Toscano arrived with Famous: The Buzzy Linhart Story. An amazing overview of the life and times of Buzzy, that movie, distressingly has never come out. That’s a real shame because Famous is clearly one of the most historically significant and most musically entertaining rock biopics ever made. Attention big movie production houses: Let’s get Buzzy’s movie out! Coming full circle in ‘08 Buzzy and Art Berggren have done a great job—reissuing Buzzy’s 1968 buzzy album along with an essential 2006 Linhart CD retrospective entitled Studio—on their joint-owned Buzz Art label and they promise more to come. Anyone still unfamiliar with Buzzy should go right over to his web site, www.BuzzyLinhart.com and take the time to rediscover one of America’s living musical heroes. For licensing and more info check out the Buzzart web site at www.buzzartinc.com In October 2008 Buzzy Linhart spoke to Robert Silverstein of mwe3.com about his great musical legacy.

{editor - The following interview is the long version of what turned out to be the last interview I had completed for 20th Century Guitar magazine. After publishing for 17 years, TCG became the latest casualty in an economy that takes no prisoners and has ceased publishing. Anyway, the mag interview was set for 3000 words and thanks to the miracle of the internet, Love you Albert Arnold Gore!...here's the original, complete version with 13,000+ words.}

RS: I’m recording...

BL: Cool. Can you hear me all right?

RS: I’ve been wanting to do this interview for a long time.

BL: Well that’s very exciting. I love to talk to anybody who enjoyed any of our shows or music back in the old days.

RS: You're the best. Did you ever get the feeling no one’s done it better?

BL: Well, remember everybody’s not rooting for everybody else when you’re struggling for the top. You know what I’m saying? It’s like being a republican or democrat. You’re going to get support from your own side only and maybe you’ll stretch into other areas. But your own team, is the one.. I’m convinced you gotta get some backing or something. And I think maybe ‘cause I started to surface in the ‘60s, that some labels, they might have thought that I was old school or something. But what I was really doing was honing together my understanding of jazz, not that it’s my specialty of course. I guess I’m a folk-rocker or folk-jazz rocker. Once you’ve been connected to a certain era, unless you’re a giant like James Taylor or Paul Simon, its pretty hard to interest people who never heard of you. (laughter) I’m from a decade before or something. And Fred Neil and Tim Hardin... Tim was my age but Fred Neil was from ten years ahead of any of us. The older guy but without him to hand it over to us and explain some of it, and show us how to be a good band leader... And you know all these guys right?

RS: If my memory serves me well Fred Neil wrote the first song on your great Music album, “The Bag I’m In.”

BL: Yes sir, that’s absolutely true, although we electrified it a bit from there. To me, folk-rock didn’t mean that you had to have folk instruments but you might take something that could be done on acoustics and beef it up some. Because it became tiresome in the old days having to hold an acoustic guitar, and maybe not a really great one at that, into a microphone that nobody should be putting through a cheap sound system. (laughter) And it was really hard to have to hold that guitar into the hole every time. And sing and do a show and sing. And Fred and Timmy were intent upon having the music be first. Same with Richie Havens and John Sebastian. They weren’t up there to do tricks and stuff. They were serious musicians. I took it as a form of folk-jazz myself. That’s “The Bag I’m In.” Fred Neil wrote it in 1958 and when I got out of the navy school of music, injured, fighting a fire during the Cuban missile crises Stateside, I ran down to see my high school chum who had a little house in Coral Gables, Florida. And three blocks away was the Unicorn coffee house, where I first saw David Crosby and Fred Neil (laughter) and Buffy Saint Marie. How about that? I mean we were all like 19 and 20 except Fred who was ten years older. I guess now that he’s passed on, it’s okay to tell the truth. One night when he was fixing a broken string and I was playing vibes behind him, we were actually a duo at the time in Coconut Grove in Coral Gables Florida in 1961. The spring there of. So he says, ‘Say something Buzzy.’ In that big bass voice he had. And (laughter) I said, ‘A lot of your people might not realize that Fred Neil actually used to play with and tour with Buddy Holly.’ And man did he get upset with me. Not because he didn’t want anybody to know but he was never the kind of guy to toot his own horn. He was there to make music and if you could get hired... He’d already proven himself in hip parts of the country. He’s the guitar player on Bobby Darin’s demo of “Dream Lover.” Astounding secrets of Fred Neil. But a wonderful guy.

RS: You live in Berkeley now. Do you ever miss New York?

BL: New York is never going to be the same as it used to be. Looks like Tokyo or something to me. My eyes aren’t that good and and I just see these big flashing lights and everywhere you go kind of looks like Times Square. I lived there for 17 years. I guess during the golden years. Of course I miss it. But there’s only a couple of clubs there who hire me. So, I need a little hit or something. Interject this backwards friends. We recorded “The Bag I’m In” in 1969 with the great Eddie Kramer co-producing. And then we’ll talk about the guys in that band later to tie off that part of the story.

RS: Getting back to New York. I live in the Little Neck / Great Neck area of Long Island.

BL: That’s where we rehearsed for the Music album half of the time.

RS: I spoke with Doug Rodrigues a few years back. He’s one of the great guitarists from that era.

BL: And god bless his parents. I mean, they let us crank it in the basement. He said, ‘You're going to practice it right.’ Not that it was giant amps or anything. But to get the sounds that Doug Rauch got on his bass and Doug Rodrigues got....these were kid geniuses! Doug Rauch was nineteen. Doug Rodrigues was twenty two and Siomas on drums was twenty four. And I was the old guy I guess. I was twenty six or something.

RS: The Music album you made with those guys was among the most influential albums from that era. It hasn’t lost any of its significance and greatness.

BL: Thank you. Did you buy it in 1971?

RS: Yeah. It was on that Eleuthra label. It was one of my lifelines back when I was in high school.

BL: Wow. That’s terrific. Well it sure was a great sounding...it was a headphone album for sure. But Doug Rauch was the genius...the 19 year old bass player who later became famous playing with Santana and Buddy Miles and John McLaughlin. I mean you gotta be good to play with John McLaughlin! And Jan Hammer. I mean Jan Hammer is the jazz-rock genius of, I guess the past two decades. Wouldn’t you think? My secret has been all along, if there was great music coming out, was that I hired the most incredible guys I could find. Sometimes they came from one town and another town. But Doug Rodridgues and I had played together in a band, the Seventh Sons, when he was 16! We went and met his parents on Long Island and convinced them that it was okay for him to move into the city and live in our band loft! (laughter) And if they had any idea what was going on. Oh man! And then I had John Siomas and Doug who played together for Mitch Ryder in the band right after the Detroit Wheels. And they were set to tour through England and Germany. And they were looking for an opening act. And John Siomas and Doug Rodrigues brought Mitch Ryder to see me open solo with acoustic guitar opening solo for B.B. King up at Johnny Winter’s manager’s club, called The Scene. Steve Paul’s The Scene. I opened up for fifteen famous acts there. Could have been Ten Years After. Could have been Buddy Guy. At any rate Mitch came and watched me open for whoever it was that night and said, ‘Yeah, lets take him to Europe with us and he can open the show.’ The deal was I could have the bass player and the drummer and the lead guitarist and then when Mitch came all the horns and organ player would be added. At any rate we had a quick couple nights live rehearsal in front of an audience in Texas. Flew to London and when we landed... oh it’s such a long story, but there was no work permits for us in London. So, we went from going there like champions, ‘cause we were the first act to play the Beatles’ new club, The Revolution in London, the biggest thing that had ever happened...and right in mid air they said right out at the airport, ‘Well, your work permits were taken care of by the agent so you can come in and you can play, but you can’t get paid.’ I had known how great that John and Dougie Rodrigues were. So they were from one band. Doug Rauch, the genius, laconic bass player was nineteen and when was eighteen he was in band called Bunky & Jake, a great, great lost folk-rock band from the Village. And they were playing at the Bitter End, where all of us did one time or another. Jimi Hendrix came in to watch them play. He said, ‘Man, you guys are great. Do you ever have jam sessions?’ And they said, ‘Yeah, we love to jam.’ And he said, ‘Well why don’t we do that?’ They said, ‘Well we got a loft to play in but these are borrowed instruments. We don’t own our own stuff! And this is our last gig. We tried to hold the band together and we got two albums out on Mercury but they didn’t push them right. So the band is wrapping.’ And Jimi said, ‘Can I meet with you guys, all of you together at noon on Wednesday at your loft?’ And they said absolutely ‘cause they were living on the floor in the loft. Half hour before Jimi got there a big truck pulls up from Mannys Music. New guitar, new amp, new bass, new amp, drum set, amp for Jimi, little sound system. Then Jimi comes in like a gunslinger as usual ready to play. I saw him fall asleep, practicing, without being plugged in. He would do that till he fell asleep. (laughter) So he showed up with all the instruments, they played for five or six hours. I wasn’t there. I wish I had been. He said, ‘You guys are great man. Don’t give it up.’ And as he left he said, ‘Oh, the equipment is yours guys.’ And he gave it all to them. He was a great, great generous cat.

RS: Did Jimi get to hear the Buzzy Linhart Is Music album that you made with those guys?

BL: That’s one of my favorite moments, is Jimi listening to “Talk About A Morning” from the Music album, which, thanks to Eddie Kramer and Rauch’s creative brain and Rodrigues’ creative playing, which I like to feel changed the sound of guitar from then on. ‘Cause you had your Hendrix and you had your Jeff Beck and you had your Clapton. But Doug did this strange... he was adding ninths and twelfths. He’d like to form chords. We’d form chords where I had six notes and he had six totally different notes and he would know how to fit ‘em together. But because it was a new industry, the FM radio, everybody hadn’t locked into it yet. The idea was that it was going to be quality music all the time. FM was to be, whether it was Ravi Shankar or a novelty record by Paul McCartney’s brother, Michael McCartney, his brilliant band, Scaffold. They played the Bitter End. What a scene it was! You weren’t allowed to get onstage and practice. You had to have an act. It had be together. That’s why folk was so successful. Cause somebody could come in and not have their band together yet but be able to just knock ‘em dead, all alone, acoustically, like Richie Havens. In the basket houses. If you were a big act, on that little tour through the village every night, if you were one of the hot acts, you could maybe get a seven minute shot in a basket house. Then they passed the basket and asked you to buy some more tea for two dollars or something, which ws like five dollars back then. All these people. Everybody you ever heard of was zooming back and forth doing three minute sets, nine minute sets if they’re lucky. John Sebastian, Stephen Stills, David Crosby when he was in town at least would join somebody. But you were not allowed to be up there if you didn’t have something to offer. I was lucky to have had symphony training as a young child, to have picked vibraphone as my main instrument. I thought when I was young there’s drummers much better than me and when it came down to it, there weren’t many vibes players around! Good or bad. So I was so glad that I was a vibes player when I came into New York ‘cause there was 177 people standing with the guitar who were really great singer songwriters who were hoping the person right in front of them would not come in that night and somehow they’d get chance to do a song. And I was Tim Hardin’s vibes players. And if he would get lost and not come in for a show...that’s the way I did my first gig in New York City at 19. The owner of the club said, ‘Buzzy, Timmy’s not going to show up. You gotta perform.’ (laughter) He hadn’t even heard me do my own thing in particular at that point. I was nervous but it was really, really great. It worked just as good as it did at the folk clubs in Cleveland, in Chicago and Philadelphia. You just know what you’re doing and you prepare. And the important thing is that you didn’t steal from other people. You had to sound like yourself. Have your own sound. I wish you guys could have seen this. ‘Cause there’s a period of time where...Dino Valente, Fred Neil...all playing as soloists. You want more names? Simon & Garfunkel, but they were named Tom & Jerry and then changed to their real names. Did you know that?

RS: I spoke with Shelly Toscano back in 2005 after she had just made this great movie about you...

BL: Amazing...and we can’t put it out yet. This is something Lawrence Acunto, the editor of 20th Century Guitar magazine mentioned a couple years ago or so, saying if anybody would like to back a really worthwhile project, the thing was all ready to roll...but I guess nobody has called him as of yet. If anyone called Lawrence I’m sure he would let us know. But he was very kind and thoughtful to write that little thing on the movie. I was so excited because, when somebody really knows a lot about your records and your songs, then it makes it all worthwhile. And I gotta tell ya, I have chills right now just knowing that someone else listened to it too because I hired the best guys for every album that were possible. They had to read music or have an innate knowledge of it, if that’s a proper use of term. Some people can play and they don’t even know the names of the notes but they always know what to play. That’s what we want to hear I think. Always hire the best musicians you can find. Hire someone better than you so you’ll be getting free lessons from these giants. Even if they’re 19 and don’t have a degree in music. First time I saw Jimi Hendrix, it was just rehearsing. I just knew that was it. He played just like such a mature adult and he wasn’t throwing things around. He was so polite when he backed other singers. Even his own show, it was more musical than it was flash. The problem was, when he played, it was like seeing somebody sinking 27 foul shots in a row...or hitting home runs over and over. Walking on their hands around the room...there was just something about him that was so astounding! He was like a panther or something, he could just really move. What a showman. We were hoping for the best for him. And here it was...he had found Eddie Kramer, thanks to Chas Chandler I believe and Linda Keith. He used to walk around the Village with the guitar just slung over his shoulder in a soft case and anywhere he walked in, they’d want him to play. So he played ten or fifteen places a night. He was phenomenal. But... I personally put him in the car to the airport a couple days before he died, as he left to London for the last time. I was recording in the studio, he would listen to “Talk About A Morning,” Eddie Kramer said, up to ten times in a row sometimes. He’d say, ‘Play it again.’ It was his first thing produced at his own studio, eight million dollars. He bought the building that the club (Steve Paul’s Generation) had been in. And that’s Electric Lady to this day. Studio A is down in the basement, where they square danced 40 years ago! (laughter)

RS: So the song “Friends”, they don’t want to let you use that in Shelly’s movie?

BL: Yes. I feel awful because this lady put eight years basic and now now nine, ten years into the movie... Agghh! It’s just strange to have a movie that great made of me and with beautiful directing and her timing, her cutting from song to song and picture to picture...she’s like a musician. Her timing is amazing. So... Famous: The Buzzy Linhart Story, the thing that we can’t put out. But anything else guys!

RS: You should have been in the rock and roll hall of fame ten years ago.

BL: The records got millions of airplay. Every time some would come out I would get up in the top two, three most played albums in the country. FM airplay report in Billboard and Cashbox and Record World. There were three magazines polling and trying to see who was ahead. And when ever I released a record, I would get the top album pick in Billboard magazine. Every record ever. And I made sure by hiring the right guys, getting the right studio, the right engineer. You don’t leave till it sounds right. You talk it through. And I got to use Aretha Franklin’s band, they produced me, down in Muscle Scholes, Alabama. You can’t miss if you get the right combination of people. You can never miss. It just depends on whether the record company promotes it. The story I always heard was that ‘We ran out of records Buzz. We didn’t know it would sell so fast. And it just ran out too fast and it’s going to be four weeks until we can start pressing again. Why don’t you do the next one?’ I went through that four times with Neil Bogart, god bless him, at Buddah Records. A great guy who believed who believed in me so much that I cry just thinking about it now. But he would always underpress. This happened to me five major times. But, I was very fortunate to be in a time when FM needed a brand new sound. It had to be rocky and it had to be folky and it couldn’t be too loud. So, I got to slide right into a slot there because great producers at these record companies and directors gave me nice size budgets to do it. But like a said, you’re five percent goes to pay back the royalties so you’re never going to see a royalty unless you sell eighty thousand records or something like that. That wasn’t my point for playing in the first place. I just can’t believe the great experiences I had. Then when my style got supposedly too old to be current in New York City, I moved out to L.A. and I did movies and I did TV and I wrote for Bill Cosby. I was on Bill Cosby’s amazing 1976 variety show on ABC. Hour long every Sunday night called Cos. Did you know about that?

RS: No, you were on every week?

BL: Every week. I was his sidekick. I was assistant to the musical director, I was the head songwriter, I was a regular on the show acting comedy. I got almost two thousand dollars a week from ABC, which sounded like good money at that time. Till I realized after paying taxes to five unions it would go down to $850 a week. From paying all the different unions and taxes.

RS: Are the Cos shows coming out on DVD?

BL: I don’t think that one in particular is scheduled to come out. I always hoped to someday have a meeting with Cosby ‘cause he’s a really great guy. Because, so many famous people were on that show. Betty White, Artie Johnson, Shirley Jones, Florence Henderson. I mean these are people who were good for an adult audience at that period of time. And it was specifically made for... the Supreme Court had ruled that starting the Fall in 1976, from seven to nine, do you remember this, every night would be deemed ‘Family Hour.’ You could only have stuff that the family could watch together. So the idea was could you at least come up with something that you could watch with a two year old. And Cosby of course was famous for doing all this work on Sesame Street. Eventually, as the show started to really catch on, ABC, CBS and NBC joined together for the first time ever probably and I guess you call it a class action suit and they brought it to the Supreme Court and they said we don’t want to do this anymore, we’re losing all our money! And the Supreme Court said okay and they reversed it. And now people don’t even remember it, but this show was made for a time that was supposed to be called ‘family hour.’ I know that in a certain way, it’s not hip but I think its starting to get to become camp at this point. We’re in a day and age when they can sell garbage on every channel you can turn to. Why should they spend money on big budgets, when they can show... the Magic Bullet again! But I love the Magic Bullet. Have you tried it? Do you know what I’m talking about? It's soooo great! I’m about to make salad dressing with my magic bullet. (laughter)

RS: Can you tell me something about starting the new Buzzart Records label with Art Berggren?

BL: It was really cool. I met him in a cafe in Venice Beach and we starting talking. I used to go down with a bunch of people and jam at sundown every day on Venice Beach. Actually had my vibes there in a shop. I’d push ‘em out in the afternoon and play a little. And we’d just played to the sunset everyday. At any rate I met Art Berggren and we became closer and closer and he’d bring his flute down and sit in and dance. He’s a professional dancer, you probably don’t know. He doesn’t toot his own horn as well as I do mine, even when I try not to. Ya gotta have friends. It’s as much work as you’d put in a Broadway show, to do all of these albums. And without the proper people it would just sound silly. Art and I are older guys. We wrote the greatest musical together called Nobodaddy. Parts one and two combined has seven new Buzzy Linhart songs in there plus a great story about the uprising of the ‘60s. And I just wish we could get people to consider recording my songs. So anybody who’s reading this who’s looking for songs for their group or for their album or their production... I was trained to compose and I’m getting near 70 so I think its okay if I have now two or three hundred songs now. Some songs work for some people and some work for others. I have never felt hurt when somebody didn’t even care for my music at all. I’m just fortunate to have thousands of people who say they love it.

RS: Your music has a healing effect on people...

BL: I’m entertaining myself too and I’m getting to hear these great guys play along. I have very strict rules when we’re having a band. We have to woodshed until some people would think it was maybe too long. For the kind of planned stuff that I want to do...and yet I want to use the same guys, and I often do, that Dylan would use who could do it in one take so that they don’t beleaguer to death. You don’t want to kill a song. In my opinion, Dylan should have the cover of Time magazine at least one month every year. Or whatever magazine is supposed to remind us where we came from. It’s outrageous that he could have given us so many answers and we just didn’t follow them. He’s a genius and we gotta remember that. Maybe its not for you but any Dylan at all will make me immediately cry. I guess I told him that the day I met him too. That was funny. I was playing with Tim Hardin or Fred Neil at the Night Owl Cafe and Bob came over and said, ‘What’s your story?’ As you can tell, after I talked for twenty minutes for that one question, two weeks later he came back and said he had written a song about me for me to play vibes on. And my other band members at the time, who were not perhaps the proper band members were not happy for me at all and said that if I played on Dylan’s album and he didn’t use them that they wouldn’t play with me any more. I just was always brought up to try to be nice and I told Bob I was sorry I couldn’t play on his album. And that song was “Like A Rolling Stone.” And Al Kooper did a magical thing on there with the organ. What a magical session that was. To know that I was missing it. Watching the clock go past nine o’ clock and knowing they were starting to record the new album of Highway 61 or the song I was supposed to be on, which of course I hadn’t heard at the point in time.

RS: Is there any chance you could ask Bob to appear on his next album or in concert?

BL: I wasn’t that incredibly close with him. It’s hard for me. A true, one of a kind genius like him. And I never knew what to say for sure. I do know that I recommended he go to Muscle Scholes and try that studio and I could guarantee him that he would really love it. And he cut three records there! The same guys who did Pussycats Can Go Far with me. Aretha’s band! He used ‘em too. So I know we’re close. I knew we were close before I met him just from hearing his songs. I knew it the first time I heard “Don’t Think Twice” down in Florida when they called him Bob Dialin ‘cause nobody knew for sure how to pronounce his name yet and his first record hadn’t come out. I was there waiting when the first record came out. So... but I never got that close. But he was magical, like Hendrix and Andy Warhol would show up at magical moments. One day, after I told him that he should go to Muscle Scholes he said, ‘So what are you doing now?’ I said, ‘I’m going to go shop at Lampstons which was the 5 & 10 at 4th street and 6th Avenue. A tenth of a block from where he wrote “Positively 4th Street” I assume or close enough. And (laughter) I went in and shopped to get things for my new apartment. And god bless him, he just walked with me and watched me shop (laughter) for forty minutes. I felt like Scorcese was watching it (from a ) deep point of view. He’s a wonderful, wonderful guy and I think we were both kind of too shy to know what to say to each other or maybe we didn’t have to. I told him how I felt the first time I met him and he offered me a spot to play on his albums. So...as Dr. John says, ‘Sometimes, it’s not time yet.’ Dr. John told me, ‘Buzz, the gypsy told me when I was six man that if the stars aren’t right, it ain’t gonna happen.’ He says, ‘So don’t let it get you down. You can do it. The stars ain’t been right.’ Besides, I do it for the enjoyment of playing the music and really entertaining people. Dylan at Newport that they’ve been playing on PBS...did you get to see any of that?

RS: I was always amazed how some of the folk legends of the ‘60s went rock. I guess ‘cause I was younger. I grew up in the Beatles era.

BL: It wasn’t a big deal to you. It made sense that they would develop from there. Richie Havens, and Fred Neil and Tim Hardin could just spellbind a bunch of people who never, ever heard them before. People used to walk into the Night Owl thinking it was a coffee house. And they’d come back from bowling or they’d come out of square dancing down on 8th street in the basement and come back up the street looking for a coffee house. And Joe Mara would have to tell everybody ‘Now we're going to hear one of the finest singers and songwriters in the world so we want you to please be quiet and allow him a chance to perform.’ And that was the nice thing about the Night Owl. He wouldn’t allow anybody to...

RS: Just to jump around, I heard that the Music album is going to be officially rereleased with a bonus track that Eddie Kramer found called “The Birds.”

BL: “The Birds” was one of the missing tracks. When you buy a CD nowadays you’ve got eighty minutes to work with. So if a band is prolific or egocentric (laughter) they can put everything they ever wrote on there on a couple of sides. When you’re working in vinyl, like the old days, you could not go over eighteen minutes, nineteen minutes tops per side period. Every record we heard, Satanic Majesty’s Request, Let It Bleed, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Madman Across The Water...Elton John...These albums would take you away! Are You Experienced? Jimi Hendrix. The weren’t over eighteen minutes per side guys! That’s how great the music was. You know? It would take you away! I remember saying, "psychedelic music" to a Teen Beat magazine type person and it showed up in an article on me as Tim Hardin’s vibes player and then everybody was using it. But it didn’t have to do with getting high. It had to do with the audience trusting the act enough and the act has to show them they know what they’re doing back then. To close their eyes and let them take you way out there somewhere, high or not high. Music is the strongest drug we ever had. Just try to imagine life without music. Did you know John Sebastian was my first benefactor, room mate in New York City? I came to town and Fred Neil had said, ‘If you can get to New York City next summer, I’m not sure when it’ll be, you can be the vibes player in the band.’ And I said, ‘I was thinking of being there anyhow.’ I lied. (laughter) I went home to Cleveland, saw my parents for a while, played at the local club in Cleveland, and then went off to New York City. I don’t even remember how I got the vibes there. But I pulled into town and Fred wasn’t in town yet. And the owner of the Night Owl, Joe Mara said, ‘We never for sure when he’ll be here but it’ll be sometime this summer.’ And I said, ‘We’ll Fred said I should look up this guy Mr. Sebastian or Mr. Pappalardi.’ And Joe kind of laughed. I didn’t know John was 17 or 18 years old. I just knew him from being on Fred Neil’s records and Pappalardi was the bass player, so I figured he must be 35 or 40 years old. These guys were 19 and 18. So he said, ‘Felix is playing bouzouki on a union gig in the basement of St. John cafe in the middle of Bleecker Street and McDougle. Catch him on a break and ask him what you should do.’ And I met Felix and we went across the street up to his apartment and I said, ‘Fred said he’d like me to be in the band but I don’t have any place to stay till he gets to town.’ And Felix said, ‘Well you could stay here but I just got engaged. She’s moving in with me she said. But I know that Sebastian stays almost every night at his girlfriend’s house and I bet you could stay in his loft bed over there with Peter Childs, the great guitarist who backed Odetta across Africa!' As a solo artist. Her lead guitarist, that was Fred Neil’s lead guitarist also. Do you know him?

RS: What was the name of the guitar player?

BL: Peter Childs. All of the electric guitar on all the Fred Neil records, Peter Childs... He was such a wonderful brother. I heard that he turned out to be a mayor up in Mendocino, a little town up there, several years back. He was so much of the great Odetta’s sound. And she of course is like royalty in Africa. And back then he would come back and tell us how twenty thousand people had showed up out of nowhere just to hear her, see her, kiss her hand and hug her. And she was so important. Pete Seeger and Odetta. That’s the people that we listened to when we were 12 and 13 learning our folk music. So we had the Kingston Trio but we knew there was earthier stuff.

RS: There’s a great chapter on Shelly’s so far unreleased DVD about you, Famous when John Sebastian played at the Bottom Line with you back in 2002.

BL: I know! What an incredibly great guy, that he would do that. That was wonderful. And let us publicize it too. And same with John Hammond and Phoebe Snow. These are like kids from my neighborhood. I love them so much. It’s just so sad when we lose another. Yeah... pick band members who can help you improve your music rather then thinking that you got every idea you could have. Unless you happen to Ray Charles or James Taylor! (laughter) Did you see James Taylor’s shot on the Colbert Report the other night? He sang “Roadrunner.” Sang and played harmonica against a very funky track. Sounded like probably Danny Kootch again. I don’t know. Kortchmar. What a guy. He was a whole other band in the the village in the old days. I can’t remember which one. He was in... I think he was in a band the band originally that Leslie West was in. The Vagrants. And Moogy was in the Vagrants. And Joe, the drummer, Joe O’Brien. And I think Kootch played some in that band. I’m not sure. One of my favorite stories, as usual, I don’t know how I did it, but I got a message to James Taylor, who as usual... One night he had ten seats. Everybody in my band and their dates at a very fancy hall for nine thousand people in Cleveland. But on this other particular time, James was only playing the Hollywood Bowl and I don’t know how I got word from him but the apartment I lived in was just twelve blocks away. Anyhow and sure enough the phone rang and I think it was the office calling. It was just an hour and a half before show time and they were bringing the audience in over there already. The sun was still up. They gave me two tickets to the set. James Taylor at the Hollywood Bowl. And when I went back stage that’s where I met Jack Nicholson. Can you imagine being introduced to Jack Nicholson by James Taylor. I’m bragging about my co-producers and my band and all that stuff on all of these records but Danny Kootch came over and said, ‘Buzzy, I would just like you to know that whenever I go over to James and Carly’s house, if there’s not a record of yours playing at that time, a record or a cassette, it’s on the turntable or right next to it and ready to go.’ James told me that he gave away as gifts more copies of Pussycats Can Go Far than any other record in his history. And I know how much he loved Ray Charles, so that’s hard for me to believe. But James told me, he claimed that he gave away more copies and played through copies, and played through copies of Pussycats Can Go Far than any other record in his life and he wanted me to know that, contrary to Rolling Stone’s opinion, or at least the writer in Rolling Stone... he thought it was the greatest rock album ever recorded. And James told me that twice ‘cause he knew I was depressed. Because that Rolling Stone review kind of put me out of commission there. I mean, who wants to sign a guy who Rolling Stone’s gonna say is really, really bad. Rolling Stone said it was the worst album ever recorded. So that’s hard to live down. So I went out to L.A. and wrote for Cosby and did a movie soundtrack. Wow! I did fourteen songs for a movie. Got to act in it. One of Tom Beringer’s first movies, man. What could be more fun. I did two movies with Chevy Chase. I just wouldn’t change anything at all. Besides I think for me to have had a lot of money, twenty years ago or certainly fifty years ago, I wouldn’t have known what to do. I’m just more interested in the music and communicating with people, being honest with each other. Looking for the ways to improve health. I have a little company of my own called the Buzzy Linhart medical foundation. And I like to help people get their SSI insurance and other things. So if you’re feeling down, just help a bunch of people and you’ll have friends. Somebody’s sitting there, hoping that somebody will come out of nowhere and give ‘em a hand. Don’t forget. It’s always a good exercise, a good hobby. And that’s why we play music! Right guys and gals? Because people come up and say, ‘That was so good! I’m going to buy your record. Now what’s your record?’ And people said this to me when I was 12. And I had to say, ‘I’m sorry sir I don’t have a record.’ Well you let me know when you have a record. And this would at a wedding reception in somebody’s back yard with two and three year olds toddling around. That was one of the nice things about the folk music scene, is that you could do it in someone’s living room so you didn’t have to worry about alcohol. My parent’s rule was, ‘If we’re going to buy you music lessons, one, you can’t get full of yourself over it, two, you had to practice a minimum of one hour a day and three is, once you can play a song or two, you have to go to hospitals and to old folks homes and play at Christmas time and other special times too.’ And so, I guess I got a lot of my early training by playing in old folk’s home and playing in hospital wards. It’s hard to get too full of yourself when somebody there is in great pain. We gotta remember this is our one life, I believe you only get one life. So that means absolutely everything that you do or think is blessed and important. And were so lucky to be here now, I think. Can you imagine before telephones? We used to have two or three party lines when I was a kid. You couldn’t get just one phone line. I remember when before everybody had phones, they used to holler messages down the back yards. And they would shout important messages down through the backyards in the neighborhood I lived in in the ‘40s. Can you imagine that? There would be a certain time of day when they would transfer messages from one part of town to the other. It was just something that happened. I never knew what it was till recently. And we threw away all that old furniture to make new, better stuff. Crazy.

RS: Well I always say, if it ain’t as good as the Music album...

BL: You brought me back to one of the other points I didn’t finish. It was wide open! I got more play than anybody else ‘cause I was one of the first further out rock bands. It’s hard to explain. The adults were listening to FM radio. They didn’t want to go crazy with butt-shakin’ music and little 12 year old celebrities. The older folks who liked jazz, who liked classical, they wanted to listen to something on FM that was different from what was on AM. And it’s because of that Doug Rodrigues got played in so many cities and countries for a year there. And back then once your record was over it didn’t mean you don’t ever get to play that record anymore. You could still play songs from the Music album after The Time To Live Is Now came out. But Music got such a big exposure in Germany and France and Italy. And the guys playing on this first Buzzy album, which is one I’m talking about at this moment, the one that was just released by BuzzArt Records...there was this wonderful band from Swansea Wales, that was very successful at the time called Eyes Of Blue. And then the Beatles’ tabla player, the hand drummer for Indian Raga, and Big Jim Sullivan on honest to God, sitar, you know? An 18 minute improvised raga. I knew what I was thinking of maybe doing guys, but these people had never met me before. (laughter) We had six minutes to tune and the tape was rollin’ and I’m telling you, if they hadn’t of had great big ears and great big hearts, and if the engineer hadn’t been proper, we never would have gotten it. But to think that they never heard that song “Sing Joy” from buzzy’s Buzzy in ‘68 in London... On the same 4 track machine, the exact same one that they had recorded Sgt. Pepper. We had very little to mix with and we had tape loops of droning. And the last chord from Sgt. Pepper, from Lou Reizner, the producer’s production of Instrumental Sgt. Pepper with the London Symphony Orchestra. That’s the first note before “Sing Joy” starts. That’s the last note from Sgt. Pepper that we were able to use from his record.

RS: Was that done earlier? I thought that was from the ‘70s...

BL: Oh no, it would have been probably the year after or so that Sgt. Pepper came out. So maybe ‘67, ‘68...I’m not really sure. Lou Reizner’s claim to fame was a gigantic instrumental hit. He was trained to record symphonies and stuff. From a very well to do family. He knew The Beatles. He bought one of John Lennon’s Rolls Royce’s... And it was really fun to hang out. Everybody knew him. He had been courting me, trying to sign me in New York City. And when I got stranded he said, ‘Come on, you know I love your music! C’mon I got a big band here, I’ve got Graham Bond. We can do a series of records.’ And he had this giant hit with Paul Mauriat Strings which was called “Love Is Blue.” (Buzzy sings the song) It was a real Mantovani, too many strings type thing. But it was a giant hit and very beautiful. So he was connected with people across town. So he convinced me to stay. He said, ‘I got the sitar player, I’ve got a tabla, we can do the raga.’ This whole album was done, was recorded, mixed and completed in twenty two hours over parts of three days. So when you hear this raga, a song called “Sing Joy” that we’re coming full circle again, which if you look close you can see magic everywhere. But guess what, the lady who co-wrote “Sing Joy” with me actually started the song in a tuning I spent a couple of hours teaching her. Doña Calles. Doña Calles was the owner of the Unicorn coffee house in Coral Gables Florida. The same lady who owned that coffee house. Just a very young lady. I stayed overnight with her when I performed in Kent, Ohio. Two years later I taught her the tuning to “Sing Joy” and some licks, went to bed and when I woke up she had started this wonderful raga that got played around the world over and over. And its 18 and a half minutes long. It’s very creative and its like that idea of free flow, like Kerouac could get into, but it’s musical. You can get ideas for other parts of songs to throw in where you let your mind open. I really hope you hear it soon.

RS: The Buzzy’s buzzy album has so much history...

BL: Only two days rehearsal man...It was like magic. It was the right people and everybody shared. I mean the company only offered me fifteen hundred dollar advance and they wanted one record a year for five, six years. Do you believe that? And I was being offered ten, twenty thousand back in New York. I had a big following. I had The Seventh Sons. We opened two nights for Jeff Beck and the Grateful Dead at the Fillmore East. We hadn’t released a record yet but we had a following of a few thousand people. playing all the be-ins with Abby Hoffman and Professor Leary and County Joe & The Fish. The Seventh Sons was one of the main acts at the first be-ins in Tompkins Sq. Park in ‘66 or something like that. It was so funny ‘cause we were the biggest band that no one had ever heard of before. We were just waiting and playing one big giant thing every couple of months. At any rate, that band fell apart but here I was with this song that Doña had written, the whole beginning of it while I slept that night. I got up in the morning and she showed it to me and I wrote the bridge. And I’m actually quoting a Ravi Shankar raga, a famous thing called Improvisations From Pather Panchali. It came out in 1959, with Bud Shank on flute, a famous blues / jazz great. And the Ravi did this...I’ve never seen the movie, but it is just mysterious. (laughter) It’s just so magical and I really always wanted to get something that would sound more Indian than the normal guitar tuning. And a guy from Brown & Dana, a traveling folk duo from Boston, they played in Cleveland and I opened for them. And the one guy said, ‘It sounds like you’re trying to get like a raga sound,’ and I said, ‘Yeah I would love to but I don’t know anything more than these open fifths, but I wouldn’t know how to go about it.’ He said, ‘Well there’s a guy in New York called Sandy Bull. Do you know who Sandy Bull is Robert?

RS: He had a bunch of albums, I think on Vanguard.

BL: Oh yeah, Billy Higgins on drums. He’s considered in the top ten of all times. So he said 'there’s a guy called Sandy Bull, he plays in the open tuning, I’m going to change your life and teach it to you tonight.' So he taught it to me, I went down to Kent, I showed in to Doña, she started (singing). It was really folky. Then I (sings) I’m actually duplicating the scale from the “Theme From Pather Panchali” by Ravi Shankar in the bridge there. It’s like homage or something. In jazz, when you improvise, you often throw in other songs. It’s just not that common a thing in rock because people don’t want to worry just because they said one phrase from somebody else’s song. But I think there’s near 20 different songs that I shove into that 18 minute and 45 seconds...version of “Sing Joy”.

RS: It’s almost 19 minutes.

BL: Yes...and the tabla player could not speak English! (laughter) This is the Beatles’ tabla player...(laughter) could not speak English. I don’t know which works of theirs that he played on. And I couldn’t even tell him what key I was going to be in. I had to show it to him musically.

RS: Side two of Buzzy’s buzzy was one of the first side long studio tracks of the first rock era.

BL: Yes sir. I would get letters from DJ’s who would say, ‘Thank you so much. I’m on at three in the morning, I’m all alone, if I put on “Sing Joy” the second side of the record and let it go into “End Song,” which sounds like another group... And that was the point of getting FM airplay, is you could have songs on your same album sound different enough that it just didn’t sound like you again. On the Pussycats Can Go Far album, they would play the whole side one or the whole side two. And I just kept kind of changing up styles in there. So I would get letters from people who say ‘I’m here all alone. I gotta go down to the bathroom at 3 in the morning after I have my coffee and I want to smoke one so I gotta have something that’ll play long enough that I can go down the hall and relieve myself.’ And I got more then ten letters like that from around the world from people who said I was a dream for them on FM programming. Of course, it’s all kind of dated, but I don’t think it is. I don’t think the Music album is dated at all. I don’t think anyone else has played like Rodrigues yet , and yet he influenced thousands of guitarists. ‘Cause that Music album and that Buzzy’s buzzy album with the raga and the “End Song” with the tympani and strings... I mean that played around the world for a long time. Had a real good start, it’s just you don’t get paid for your first album. And then you change to another company and no one even cares about their first anymore. So, very exciting that it’s back, back from the dead. It was pirated, almost a year ago now, by a company that refuses to answer e-mails. They released a copy called buzzy, with small lower case letters. Seventeen dollars they want, it’s just a recording of a scratchy vinyl. And that’s why Art and I of Buzzart, with our genius engineer Bill Black, decided we had to put out this buzzy thing whether we liked it or not. ‘Cause they’re selling hundreds of copies from a record company that doesn’t seem to even exist. If they wanted to do what was right, they’d only owe me about a dollar and a half for each record, so they’re just going for the money. So I want people to hear this record properly. I had a different idea for the order of the songs originally so now we have my favorite order of the songs and brand new... we could do things with computers now that you couldn’t do on a 4 track machine back then. So, Bill Black was just able to get an incredibly good sound out of it. And I’m hoping the people who liked it back then will find out about it and enjoy it again. But always buy from the artist, please. Buy art from the artist. (BAFTA) You’d be shocked how many people aren’t getting a penny for these records that we love folks, honestly.

RS: I always remember you as a great guitar player especially the way you recorded your guitars.

BL: Thank you. I studied as a drummer remember? So when I was seven, I learned to read symphony music on drums. And when I was ten, the drum teacher asked my parents if he could start teaching me xylophone and they said yes and my dad bought a tiny little xylophone with big long legs for an adult and he had to saw the legs down and put rubber pumps the bottom. So I started xylophone and at 12 I got a set of vibes. Then I taught myself guitar throughout the thing. The point is I know where the rhythm is because I studied drums. A lot of folks are thinking musical notes. It’s very easy for a lead guitarist to just, as we called used to call it, just skate over the chords. Let everybody else take care of the beat. Just skate over it. I don’t know if that’s a real valid solo if your BS-ing too much....If you learn the rhythms first... My mom used to play Christian hymns on the piano and real old boogie woogie songs and God knows what for me to be able to practice my rubber drum pad. It wasn’t very exciting. Do you know she should spend hours with me just playing John Phillips Sousa march, if it was a march style I was supposed to be playing. She just was there every second of the day. I just wish kids could be learning music ‘cause the ones who get to, have a very wonderful life and the money doesn’t matter if you know how to make music. But knowing my rhythm means that I’m always tight with the drummer in the band and I’m always tight with the bass player ‘cause I had been a drummer. So I think of my right hand as being a drum rhythm. And I change left hand more like a piano sliding up through different chord inversions. Dan Armstrong taught me how to play up and down the neck in the key of A and E. Danny Armstrong put out the very first pedals in the old days. Do you remember them? And he developed the Traynor amps for the Rolling Stones tour. He designed those. A really, really genius guitarist and he taught me a trick to play up and down the neck of the guitar and how to lock my strings so they never stretch out of tune. And it just changed my life. Every time I take a student on and teach this simple walk up and down the neck in A and E, all of a sudden you have hundreds of different patterns to play behind what anybody else is doing or singing. And I hope some day I can teach a little course, maybe make a tape of it. I kind of hold my hand backwards sometimes from what a lot of guitarists do. I don’t know if that makes sense. But one of the reason for me being able to get different sounds is from using open tunings. Don’t be afraid to use an open tuning. And a wonderful band in Great Britain called Man, the Man band, which had the drummer and keyboardist from Eyes Of Blue, they did a song of mine...they did “Talk About A Morning” but they didn’t realize the rhythm guitar was in open tuning so nobody can ever get those chord patterns that I’m getting ‘cause it was me playing the acoustic rhythm with Doug Rodrigues adding six more notes on top of it and you just couldn’t do that in a normal tuning. And the same with my song “The Love’s Still Growing” which is in the Sandy Bull raga tuning. B Mountain modal I was told it was called and maybe someday I can make a little page of tablature showing everybody how to get to that very nice open tuning that has fifths only. It doesn’t commit itself to a third guys. You can be major or minor in a second when you’re playing in modal. Once again, that’s one of the great reasons for my having a lot of different sounds...learning open tunings from Buffy St. Marie. And I’ve still never met Sandy Bull but he absolutely saved my life. How important can I feel when this guy saved my life? I guess we could all be important if we try hard enough. So open tunings, I like chorus pedals just ‘cause they add a dimension. And there’s so many pedal things and stuff. We just didn’t have any of that in the old days. Often I’d be playing a two hundred dollar guitar, an acoustic and trying to hold it up to the mic. But when you go into the studio, into Electric Lady studio with Jimi Hendrix producer Eddie Kramer, you’d be shocked what you really sound like on the right instrument, and with the right help. Does that answer anything? Oh...on open tunings...originally with the Seventh Sons...and there’s a terrible bootleg called Frame Franks For Raga by The Seventh Sons. Please guys call me, I’ve got a good version for ya. And edited back together so its not in two sides like that one is. And re-digitized. It was us warming up in the dressing room to perform “Sing Joy.” It was very interesting as a improvisational piece. But please call BuzzArt, call me at BuzzArt north. Send me an e-mail. I’d be glad to hand make you any of my records you want and hand sign ‘em almost any way you would like me to. It would be a lot of fun. I miss being on radio shows, getting interviewed on radio shows, having the phone ring and then getting to talk to twenty, thirty fans. There’s nothing like it in the world. Telephones aren’t expensive now guys, let’s do some communicating here and maybe you’ve got a story to add onto the web site about where you saw me the first time or something like that. Also, in the Seventh Sons, what I wanted to mention, on this raga that was released without our permission...I’m playing a famous guitar called The Gibson, from about 1910. It’s a Gibson harp guitar, have you ever heard of one? It has a six string neck and then you can see what I believe is probably the same actual guitar. Because when our band, The Seventh Sons went belly up, a lot of our equipment wound up in Woodstock and I’m sure a lot of people paid good bucks for it. I believe its the harp guitar that Robbie Robertson is playing in The Last Waltz. We were close in the old days, the Band and us. So there’s a 1910 Gibson harp guitar. The reason I’m talking about this is so I can discuss a little guitar with you guys. A very, very famous guitar. And there’s sixteen strings and six strings I believe for a total of twenty I think, all together. And they don’t ring sympathetically, you’ve got to actually strike the ones that are on the harp part, but it’s just great. You put big old fat piano strings on the low and you get a real low note. And string it any way you want it to and of course we put it together to play in this B mountain modal tuning and during that particular Seventh Sons raga that we’ll be releasing officially soon, but you can get one if you give me a call, that’s part of how we get the sound in there. Actually, James Rock and I pass it back and forth a couple times. One is playing a six string and the other is playing the twenty string and we pass them back and forth. But a wonderful instrument that unfortunately I had to let go when the band broke up. Actually I had to let... I lost seven guitars, seven guitar amps, a whole bunch of stuff that I’d been given by Baldwin to outfit the band. Originally I had to choose between my guitar and a set of vibes when I left the band. See, I could have played on Bob’s album. The band was going to break up anyhow and he knew that! He tried to warn me in that song, to tell you the truth. There’s a whole message to me in “Like A Rolling Stone,” the first two verses. You’ll find it incredible if you listen from that point of view. The finest school all right but you know Mr. Lonely (he said “Miss Lonely” so that people wouldn’t know it was about me) you only used to get juiced in it. That’s when I got alcoholic in the Navy school of music ‘cause I got so bored because I had taken their courses when I was 12 years old. I didn’t realize that I’d already been to music conservatory. I went there when I was I guess 13, 14, 15 (laughter). That’s why if I can play well at all its because I learned my chords and I learned my scales! Aside from that guys, I’m just faking it! (laughter) If you want to hear a vibes player, catch Gary Burton and Mike Manieri and certainly Bags....you know Milt Jackson. But its ‘cause of these geniuses that I can play at all, having these guys as teachers and an audience who enjoys my stuff who encouraged me. I would have never kept playing but the audience always says it was great, so why should I stop? I think I have thirty really incredible new hit songs that I’ve written, many of them co-authored. I gotta talk about my records because they sound great. Did you hear the Studio album yet?

RS: Hearing the new Studio CD was a great listening experience. There’s so many great songs of yours that I’d never heard before.

BL: A lot of famous guys on there! There’s Nicky Hopkins, the Stones keyboardist. And Denny Seiwell...and there’s a guy, Laurence Juber, from Wings, Paul McCartney’s guitarist. When The Beatles broke up, Paul McCartney could pick anybody in the whole world that he wanted to. Well, the first album he used Hugh McCracken and David Spinoza, two of my best pals. And the next album, they did Wings, and the second guitarist in Wings for the last two and half years, was Laurence Juber. The drummer for the first three and half years was Denny Seiwell. He and I played snare drum and marched and stood at attention for JFK in 1962, man, in the U.S. navy symphony orchestra. So when my friend showed up in Wings, I was going to call him and see if he’d play on my records. So I did and so here we are with The Chambers Brothers, Nicky Hopkins, first session in nine years... I got him back in the studio for the first time in nine years. Laurence Juber...Tim Bogart on bass, from Vanilla Fudge you know? And Beck, Bogart, Appice... I love those guys (laughter). Now Camine has fronted a jam session... He and I, when ever we’re talking we’re dripping sweat ‘cause we’re playing in a jam session (laughter) in one of the canyons in L.A. What a work horse man. Miracle guys. But we used to record to best, best, best, best, back then. And people are trying to just sound like it. I would still say, in this day and age, that studio musicians really helped save these great records that are coming out nowadays. There’s always some George Martin producer like behind the Beatles, hiding behind someone, hopefully. ‘Cause you want to hire a producer who knows more than you do. Who will watch for special things that you do, rather then just being a yes man and telling you everything you do is great, you’re the greatest and that doesn’t get far.

RS: What about Steve Hunter? He was also on the Studio CD.

BL: Steve Hunter, do you know who that is? He was in a famous band from Toronto in Bob Ezrin’s Nimbus 9 studios. They were a famous band. Prakash John was actually a Pakistani prince, played bass. A super great guy. Steve and Danny Weis on guitars. They were the band on The Rose with Bette Midler. They were the band on the tour, Welcome To My Nightmare with Alice Cooper. They were the band in Lou Reed Rock And Roll Animal live. If you listen to Lou Reed’s Rock And Roll Animal live, my friend was recording it that night, Steve Katz. The first album recorded on dolby. Steve Katz was doing it. And I wanted the audience to be cheering and he told me to goose that audience up so we’d have a great sound on it. So that’s me doing the incessant whistle, maybe my police whistle. I do a really great taxi cab catcher and it’s a famous whistle on a couple albums. It was on the Blues Project Live At Cafe Au-Go-Go and... you gotta learn how to whistle guys. (Buzzy whistles) Children will love you if you can whistle like a bird.... Man, you know they played on all these records. But...I’m thinking of a Steve Turner, the drummer who I was going to use because John Lennon had introduced me to the wonderful, famous Jim Keltner. And I called Jim Keltner ‘cause I was in L.A. and I had a budget and I was on TV with Cosby every week. I got Ralph Hammer who toured with Stevie Wonder on lead guitar for three years. We had two lead guitarists in the band on Cos, was the name of the show. That was Ralph Hammer on lead and the second lead guitar was Ray Parker Jr. who later became famous for the “Ghostbusters” theme. And that was our band on Cosby! And then I got Ralph Hammer to come into a private session with me and we put Steve Turner on drums, he was a replacement for Keltner. With the Chambers Brothers singing background. (laughter) Chris Huston engineering and co-producing on “Hurt So Bad That It Must Be Love.” He was from Liverpool. The Beatles used to open for his band, The Undertakers. That’s a whole other story. We met because I was willing to talk to a guy who came up with a knapsack on his back in 1969 and took him home to sleep on my couch. He was actually one of the Beatles’ friends and he pawned his guitar to ride over a tramp steamer and never had enough money to put the band back together. But his first hit in the U.S. was “Groovin’” He was the first engineer ever given engineering credit on a label of a record, which means they weren’t paying him enough but he would settle for that. Yeah, he produced the Rascals, all their hits, and then he produced War. He produced Blood, Sweat & Tears. He produced Who’s Next. On and on and on. Chris Huston. A real hero. Produced War like I told you. Everything War did, he was the engineer behind it. And if you don’t have guys like this, you’re not going to have a special sounding record. You’ve got to keep your individuality separated from what’s influencing you maybe.

RS: Tell me some more stories about your guitars.

BL: So guitars...I never was able to have any big guitar collection. But the Gibson 1910 was marvelous. And they used to have an old guitar called the Harmony Sovereign. The Harmony company made a thing called The Sovereign. For years and years it was fifty five dollars in the pawn shop. It’d be hanging in the plastic bag, brand new. If somebody stole your guitar or stepped on it or it broke apart, you could run to the pawn shop and catch ‘em before they closed and get a brand new Harmony Sovereign, put better strings on it and you could be playing at nine O’clock at night. I’ve seen it done three or four times. Peter Childs would always recommend that Harmony Sovereign... Fred Neil’s guitarist. He played a Gibson guitar through through just a little bit of tremolo. It wasn’t real fancy in those days. We were just glad that your guitar part could finally be heard. The important thing is, when you’re in a band, you really need someone to come up and tell you when somebody’s out or not. The audience doesn’t always know. They think it sounds fine. If they can’t hear the vocals out front, chances are somebody’s playing a little too loud. Maybe everybody. It doesn’t gain anything to play too loud. And you’ve gotta have somebody who you will trust. Make them walk around the house, the club... People gotta understand, for a professional musician, that a major, major part of your life, is people coming up, not understanding how much you’ve gotta concentrate. I’m lucky to have played music and I think the life of the secret happy person is the one’s who get to be in bands.

RS: So the election’s almost here...

BL: I got Al Gore a CD of one of my records. We already have it and couldn’t afford to print any more CDs of it. The Buzz Art publishing catalog volume one has fifteen songs in it man...it’s just amazing. And yet we got enough to put out two and now we’re going to put out a third one. So we hope the third one should be Buzzy Linhart Live 1971 and the next one should be (sings) The Time To Live Is Now...I think. What I’m thinking about is a thing called Buzzy Then & Now, then we put the very best-est cuts from the Music album. But I like “Searchin’”, “Searchin’” is just...whew! I sang and played electric rhythm. We played that live in one take. You’ve heard “Searchin’” from the Music album?

RS: That’s the last cut from the Music album, cut 9.

BL: Can you believe how tough my voice that note? With the big (yelps).

RS: Music is like a freight train...

BL: (laughter) We rehearsed those songs for a year! We did an audition for Columbia, we did a audition for Atlantic. We used to carry the demos around because they were so incredible. And of course they got lost over the years. Oh, the demo for the Music album...was just ridiculous. Some day part of it will show up somewhere. We do a song called “Let’s Go Steady” by the Pearls. It’s a real old, very, very Deep Purple, rhythm and blues song from like 1954 that I changed. Anything Rodrigues plays on, it’s miraculous! Did you ever know that the guitar solo on “Mother’s Red Light” is Doug Rauch.

RS: Oh, he plays the guitar on the instrumental with the vibes right?

BL: Yes, exactly. And there actually words but they were mixed too low. Can you understand the words?

RS: They sounded a little Hendrix-y...

BL: Yeah, he added a little too much. I guess he didn’t think the words were important. But they’re quite psychedelic and I don’t even know what that mean but they take you somewhere else. It’s really good lyrics. I was sad that they weren’t more audible.

RS: I have the Canadian CD pressing of the Music album.

BL: The one from Canada? They leased it from Buddah Records before Buddah went bankrupt.

RS: I can't wait to see and hear the planned remaster of the Music CD on Buzzart with the bonus cuts and in depth liner notes. Well, it's been a long interview... I’m really thrilled to have finally been able to talk to you Buzzy...

BL: And I feel the same way. Honest to God. If you like that song, we did it for you. You know what I’m saying? If that’s your song, we did it for you. And it’s so exciting. I have three more albums all mixed and ready to come out. And all I need is a couple thousand dollars for each one. But I don’t have that much money, between you and me, or we wouldn’t be putting out Buzzy’s buzzy, we would be putting out Buzzy Linhart Live 1971 NYC At The Cafe Au-Go-Go. It’s so great! It’s got “Talk About A Morning” and it’s got “The Time To Live Is Now,” and its’ got “Friends” and it’s got “The Love’s Still Growing,” all live man! And “God Bless The Child,” the great Billy Holiday tune. I mean I sang this opening for Blood, Sweat & Tears. They recorded it before me and put it out. It was an old song from the ‘40s that no one was doing. But now it’s time for me to put it out, you know? I have my own version and like I say, I swear, I don’t want to sound like I’m grumpy because I can’t think of anything that I would have wanted to change ‘cause it would keep me from being where I am right now, which is very, very enjoyable to me right now. And I help a lot of other people.


Thanks to Buzzy Linhart, Bill Black and Art Berggren @ www.BuzzyLinhart.com and www.Buzzartinc.com Also thank you to Lenny Kolleeny and Shelly Toscano @ www.SameChick.com















 
 
 
 
 

 

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