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Columns > Mike Gruenberg - In My Life

Published: 2002/04/22
by Mike Gruenberg

I’d Like To Meet…...

Did you ever see a movie, hear a song, or see an athlete perform a major accomplishment and say to yourself, "I’d like to meet that guy?" Will that person be down-to-earth or will meeting that person obliterate the pedestal that has been created? And when I say "meeting," I don’t mean a quick handshake and an obligatory "hello, how are you?" I mean a conversation and some degree of bonding.
We place our heroes in such a place that we know we will never meet them so we can fantasize about how cool they are. In thinking about the concept of meeting a music star, I decided to list the persons I would like to meet. In some cases, I may not know their name, but I do know that I want to meet them. In keeping with the theme of this column, which is to highlight the obscure gems, most of the people listed are in the background, although some are clearly not. With that in mind, here it goes..
 I’d like to meet the guy who played the organ on Del Shannon’s record "Hats Off To Larry." That has to be the best 30 seconds of a rocking organ solo.
 I’d like to meet Nigel Olsson, who was Elton John’s drummer. He was the backbone of the band in the early days when Elton was churning out great records.
 I’d like to meet Kinky Friedman. His music was humorous, insightful and totally bizarre. I have also read a few of his books and he is an excellent author. I think spending an evening with Kinky, smoking a cigar, drinking some wine and listening to his stories would be incredible.
 I’d like to meet Michael McDonald from the Doobie Brothers. This guy wrote some amazing tunes. Based on that, I bought a few of his records and quite frankly, I am having trouble understanding the words. I know he must be a bright guy, so I’d like to ask him why he doesn’t pronounce the words to his songs a bit more clearly.
 I’d like to meet Terry Melcher who was the producer of the early hit albums of the Byrds. I want to know all about working with Roger McGuinn and David Crosby. Since Terry is Doris Day’s son, I would like to know about growing up in that house.
 I’d like to meet Pete Best and find out what it was like to work with Paul, John and George before that other drummer showed up.
 I’d like to meet Les Paul because he is Les Paul!
 I’d like to meet John Hall from the group, Orleans. He wrote "Still The One" and "Dance With Me" which I consider to be perfect rock songs. I would like to know what were his thoughts when writing those tunes.

 I would like to meet the guys from Spinal Tap. As far as I’m concerned, Michael McKean, Christopher Guest and Harry Shearer created the ultimate rock parody, which still stands today as a great film. If I’m meeting these guys, Rob Reiner, the director of Spinal Tap must be included. I would like to spend a considerable amount of time hearing about his life and his dad.
 I would like to meet a true Renaissance man. The music person I would choose is David Byrne. Writer, musician, artist, film scorer are but a few of the areas he has touched. I also want to thank him for the line, "This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no foolin’ around."
 I’d like to meet the musicians who played on all the Stax Records sessions in Memphis. That would include Steve Cropper, Duck Dunn, Booker T. Jones and company. The Stax sound was unique and all those guys are still rocking today. As a matter of fact Booker T. and Duck Dunn were part of the band when Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young recently played Madison Square Garden.
 When it comes to producers I would like to meet, George Martin and Phil Spector head the list. I can probably recite the names of most of the records they have produced. I would also like to meet Lou Adler who can be seen sitting courtside at every LA Laker home game. He’s the guy in the dark glasses and hat. He produced all the Mamas & Papas hits, Carole King’s Tapestry album and The Rocky Horror Show. Finally, I’d also like to meet Phil Ramone, who has produced some of the greatest albums ever released.
The list goes on. Think about it for yourself. Who would you like to meet and what would you talk about with them?

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