In 1995, I visited the offices of Tommy Boy Records in New York City to interview Coolio. The Los Angeles-based rapper/actor (real name: Artis Leon Ivey, Jr.) was riding high on the global success of “Gangsta’s Paradise” feat. L.V. The chart-topping song was featured in Dangerous Minds, a 1995 drama based on the autobiographical 1992 book My Posse Don’t Do Homework by U.S. Marine-turned-teacher LouAnne Johnson (who was played by Michelle Pfeiffer).
The label’s publicist, who I had worked with on several occasions, greeted me in the reception area. He escorted me to the label’s well-appointed conference room where the interview would take place. I’m sure there was an offer made of water or coffee. But I do remember being left to my own devices for some time in the room, which is normal since interviewees aren’t always prompt.
As I killed time by scanning my list of questions, the door opened and in walked the publicist with Coolio, who looked like hell.
I stood up. An introduction was made, and we shook hands. Coolio proceeded to collapse into a chair at the head of the long table. He immediately put his head down, like when you didn’t feel well in school. The publicist acted like nothing was amiss. As he slowly closed the door, he told me he’d be back to check on us (that’s PR code for the next time you see me means the interview is over). Continue Reading →
Dom Phillips was. Every time I’ve typed these three words since his murder last month, I freeze up.
I pause and collect myself. I will never accept how Dom’s life was unfairly taken. I imagine his final terror-filled moments facing down the barrel of a thug’s gun in the thick of the Amazon, and I sob. I think of his wife and family. I think of Bruno Pereira and his family, too. He lost his life alongside Dom. The pain and heartache their families have to live with are beyond words.
I am going to do my best to honor Dom. A colleague. A man of integrity. Someone who influenced me greatly. A man I am proud to have called a friend. Continue Reading →
In 1999 Prince was in comeback mode. After massive success in the ’80s, he was in the throes of a public legal battle with Warner Bros. over the rights to his music. Upset with the situation, he thumbed his nose in the face of the music industry and changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol. At the time I was the Editor-In-Chief of Mixer, a monthly DJ magazine published by DMC. A publicist I had worked with over the years, Lois Najarian, pitched me on interviewing the Purple one about his new album, Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic. The only caveat was the interview had to be a cover story. The decision to put his Purpleness on the cover was a no-brainer.
A few days later I was in the studio at Paisley Park interviewing Prince. Some things I vividly remember from that day: 1. He had a major disagreement with the photographer from Interview magazine. The row actually set the stage for what became an interesting discussion about ego, something Prince told me he’d been working on. 2. Our pizza-and-salad lunch was inspected by his security people upon its delivery (“He doesn’t allow meat on the premises,” we were told.) 3. Prince arrived three hours late, wore heels and make-up. 4. He was personable, friendly, funny, charming and engaging. 5. Prince’s recording studio was a sight to behold, boasting a massive SSL mixing desk and an arsenal of studio gear. Before Prince switched on the lights, I accidentally touched the neck of his famous symbol guitar that was perched on a stand while he was turning on the lights in the control room.
An invitation to interview Prince is one of the highlights of my career. I was not allowed to record the interview but was allowed to take notes. I came prepared with a thick pad and filled up every page by the time our chat was over. I wrote so much, so quickly, that my right hand hurt for a week.
Prince disrupted the world of music, fashion, movies and never apologized. He was a showman, an iconic provocateur whose impact will be felt forever. As is evident in the interview below, he pulled no punches and made no apologies. As the song says, I was dreaming when I wrote this, forgive me if it goes astray.Continue Reading →
Depeche Mode took to social media today to announce the death of keyboardist Andy “Fletch” Fletcher. He was 60.
The band wrote, “We are shocked and filled with overwhelming sadness with the untimely passing of our dear friend, family member and bandmate Andy ‘Fletch’ Fletcher. Fletch had a true heart of gold and was always there when you needed support, a lively conversation, a good laugh or a cold pint.”
The cause of death is not yet known.
Fletcher was a member of the founding incarnation of Depeche Mode featuring David Gahan, Martin Gore and Vince Clarke. Fletcher departed in late 1981 after the release of the group’s debut album, Speak & Spell, which featured the now-classic single “Just Can’t Get Enough.”
Fletcher also remixed tracks for Depeche Mode and worked as a DJ.
In 2020, Fletcher was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Depeche Mode.
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