Thursday, May 23, 2024

Encounters With Greatness (An Occasional Series)

Okay, this is a true story, so cut me some slack.

Once upon a time (actually sometime in 1974) I found myself -- along with my colleagues from my post-college rock band The Hounds -- in the prestigious and normally prohibitively expensive confines of world famous recording studio Electric Lady, on 8th Street in New York's fabled Greenwich Village.

The short version is that the studio was running a program of classes for aspiring recording engineers, and they needed bodies in the studio making noise while they taught the students how to be the next George Martins. I don't recall exactly how we got lucky enough to be such freebie musical guinea pigs, but I do recall that we were acutely aware of our good fortune in this regard, and as a result we were -- uncharacteristically -- well rehearsed and well prepared. I mean hey -- it was the best and in many ways the coolest studio in the freaking world at the time; we weren't gonna fuck around. Especially at those prices.

In any case, we had been gifted with two four-hour sessions on consecutive Saturdays, and our goal was to perform, record and mix one of our original songs, to be used as a demo to knock on record company doors with, before time ran out.

During a brief break in the first session, I meandered into the studio lounge looking for the coffee machine. And to my stunned and delighted surprise, there I ran into none other than Rolling Stones' guitarist Ronnie Wood, making himself a decaf. (I didn't know it at the time, but Wood was working in one of the bigger rooms at E.L., doing sessions for what became his first solo LP, I've Got My Own Album to Do.)

I tried, with what success I know not, to remain cool in the presence of one of my long-time idols, and poured myself a cuppa. And then Wood suddenly said "'Allo mate. Whatcha doin'?"

I mumbled something about what we were up to -- I assume it was utterly incoherent -- and finally he replied "Well, good luck to ya. And use this while you're doin' it."

And then he handed me one of these...

...and exited stage right.


I. I never actually used that pick to play my guitar, but it sat in a place of reverence in a dish on my living room coffee table for at least the next twenty years. (I lost it subsequently; how, I have no idea).

II. In case you were wondering, our E.L. session turned out fabulously. I would have preferred a bigger guitar sound, but nonetheless we ultimately were thoroughly pleased with the finished product -- a delightful piece of Stones-ish punk/pop that we used for the A-side of our DIY single a year or two later.

Which actually sold 800 copies (including a couple overseas) and which is an honorable footnote to rock history, you're welcome very much.

You can listen to it HERE.

Hey -- I said it was a true story. But as I often add on these occasions, I didn't say it was an interesting one.


ChrisE said...

On the contrary, it was, as Artie Johnson used to say, very eeentersting :-)

mistah charley, sb, ma, phd, jsps said...

0/"i'll give you something to do" - sort of suggestive, don't you think?

1/at least you have a photo of the lost memento - i don't have that

2/i had a ticket from when i saw the beatles at dc stadium in 1966 - i kept it in my wallet which disappeared one day in the late 1980s

3/it was autographed after the show

4/by me, not one of the fab four

Blue Ash Fan said...

Not interesting? Are you kidding? You met Woody and he gave you a pick? That's the stuff of dreams.