Category Archives: Paul Roland
One of the highlights of my music journalist career was the night I interviewed blues legend John Lee Hooker. Unfortunately, JLH was then in declining health and unable to travel so the interview had to take place over the phone, but it was a thrill to say the least to hook up with an originator of the music I love. (If only I had kept a copy of my interviews with Lemmy, Sting, Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, Tony Iommi, Peter Cushing, Michael Nyman and the Velvet Underground! Ah well, maybe one day I’ll pluck up courage to descend into the vaults where my ancestors are interred and rummage through the archives. Until then here is the transcript of my conversation with ‘The Hook’.)
At the grand old age of 74, legendary bluesman John Lee Hooker could claim to be the last living link with the oral tradition of the blues. Ironically, he is now enjoying greater success than at any other time in his career thanks to the extensive use of his music and image in television advertising and his adoption by the MTV generation as the godfather of the blues. I called him at his home in Chicago. Read the rest of this entry
IT may not be fashionable to say so, but I have always had a soft spot for early Jethro Tull and that is why I had no qualms about featuring a flute on ‘Captain Blood’ and later on ‘Pan’, though one American fanzine dubbed it “the spawn of Satan” (the flute that is, not my song)! I was therefore delighted to meet the band’s frontman and songwriter Ian Anderson in 1989 and to have had a chance to ask why it all went hideously wrong during ‘A Passion Play’! Only kidding, though I did manage to slip that question into the conversation, though I worded it more diplomatically of course(*).
Since the mid-Seventies Jethro Tull have been vilified as self-indulgent, pretentious and archaic, yet their albums continue to sell close on a million copies each year, their concerts are sell outs in Europe and the USA, and they picked up a Grammy for best hard rock album of ’87. Not bad for a band who are often written off as ‘too old to rock and roll’. Read the rest of this entry
I HAD a very interesting discussion this week with a fellow Bolan fan who enjoyed ‘Cosmic Dancer’, but was “annoyed” that I didn’t share his passion for some of Marc’s later tracks. Fair enough. Why should we all like the same songs? Just because we are drawn to the same artist there is no reason why we shouldn’t have our personal preferences.
I have a particular fondness for the Tyrannosaurus Rex era which I know many fans and a previous biographer don’t share and I happen to play the early (Sixties) singles almost as often as I play ‘Electric Warrior’ or ‘The Slider’. I would like to think that I have a broader taste in Boley music than many – beginning in ’65 and taking in (almost) everything up to and including ‘Tanx’ in ’73 – but having been both a music journalist and a recording artist myself for more than 30 years I would also like to think that I have acquired an ear, or a sense, for when an artist is cruising in neutral or recycling the same old clichés until something more interesting turns up. All songwriters do it, but the best have the courage to dump a song when it doesn’t cut it. Read the rest of this entry
A fan we know claims to have seen extracts in which she talks about the evening she and Marc were staying in a high-rise apartment in the US just after Marc had signed to Casablanca, so this would be 1974. At one point they became aware of two small lights on the window. Marc swore that he saw a demon sitting on the outside window sill looking in (shades of ‘Nightmare At 20,000 Feet’ from ‘The Twilight Zone’, don’t you think?). He returned to England a short while later claiming the demon was the reason for his return. What is interesting—and not a little disquieting—is that Gloria claimed that Marc saw the demon again at the house in Richmond only days before his death. He told her that he had also seen the image of a lady in the garden which he described to the builders who were working there at the time. They weren’t surprised to hear of the spectral sighting as the description fitted that of the lady who had previously lived there. She had committed suicide. (Thanks to ‘G’ for this story).
Here are another couple of titbits of information I came across during my research but left out of the book. Read the rest of this entry
On April 16th 1986 I had the great pleasure and privilege to have a private interview with Hammer horror icon Peter Cushing who had just published his first volume of autobiography at the age of seventy-three. Needless to say, I was a huge Hammer fan. His urbane presence and cultured voice lent a degree of integrity to every film he was in and I found him to be as gracious a man in real life as he appeared on screen, the very embodiment of an English gentleman.
Incredibly, and to my surprise he actually telephoned me at my home to arrange the interview personally and when we met in a plush London hotel a few days later he left the publicity people who were controlling his tight schedule and invited me upstairs to his suite where we could talk without the distraction of those women who were limiting each interview to ten minutes or so. I think he sensed that I was a serious film buff and he wanted to allow me all the time I needed to ask my questions. And when it was over he signed a photo that I had brought with me of himself in the role of Dr Frankenstein ‘To Paul, God’s blessing on you always, in all sincerity Peter Cushing’ and graciously stood by the open door of his room until I had entered the elevator that would take me back down to the lobby. As I said, every inch a gentleman and the glow of that meeting remained with me for several days. Read the rest of this entry
I said in my previous posting that I wasn’t as affected by Bolan’s death as other fans had been, but people react in different ways to loss and I think I simply didn’t believe, or want to believe, that we wouldn’t be hearing any new music from him, and that my dream of meeting him and one day even maybe having an album produced by him, could never be.
I was also, I must confess, possessed by a feeling which The Who described in the song ‘5:15’ as being “sadly ecstatic that their heroes are news”, as Bolan was once again on the front pages of all the newspapers, on the radio and TV and so I thought that everyone would now realise how important he had been. There was also the hope that we would now finally hear all those unreleased tracks we suspected were gathering dust in the vaults of Essex Music and EMI as every fan knew that Marc hadn’t released some of his best recordings. But then I am still writing about this subject 35 years later so perhaps that speaks for itself.
I remember asking my father as we watched the funeral on television what happens to someone when they die, so I was obviously in some form of shock and preoccupied by death, but the fact that Marc had been cremated meant, to my mind, that there wasn’t a body in the ground to visit and to which one could pay one’s respects. If there is such a thing as the soul, and my own childhood out-of-body experiences had convinced me that this is so, then Marc was now somewhere else and there was no proof that he was dead. Of course it made no sense, but then it is not unknown for those experiencing loss of any kind to go into denial and the fact that Marc Bolan was not a personal friend or family member didn’t lessen the sense of loss, as any fan will know. When you are a hypersensitive teenager the sudden death of your hero can be as traumatic as a family bereavement. This is not the same as a hysterical 12 year old girl being upset because her favourite boy band have just broken up. Bolan created a unique style of music, a cache of songs and a sound that enriched the soul of those who could appreciate it, and his sudden exit from this world left it a less vibrant and colourful place. Read the rest of this entry
GREETINGS fellow Bolan admirers and welcome too, to those of you who may be curious as to why the diminutive Mr Feld retains a fascination for connoisseurs of quality rock music more than three decades after his untimely death.
This site, together with the Cosmic Dancer Facebook page, is not simply a source of information and a place to post feedback on the book, unpublished photos and other items you might have unearthed, but will also serve as a place to share anything Bolan related. Maybe some of you remember reading my fanzine ‘Cosmic Dancer’ back in ’78, or going to screenings of ‘Born To Boogie’ at the Essential cinema in Soho? Care to share your memories and your thoughts on how much Marc has meant to you, or what you think of recent releases?
By the way, the pix that appear on the Facebook page include two unpublished photos of Marc taken, we think, in ’71 and could not be included in the book because we couldn’t identify or trace the photographer. Thanks to Marc Arscott for allowing us to feature them here. The two young men seen in Bolan T-Shirts recording their debut single in July 1979 are yours truly and his friend Danielz who went on to form tribute band T.Rextasy. Both of us owe an incalculable debt to Marc for inspiring us and speaking for myself, it is only with the publication of ‘Cosmic Dancer’ that I finally feel that I have repaid it.
But first, let me address the subject of why I kept myself out of the book… Read the rest of this entry
IF YOU tried to order a copy of the new ‘Masque’ reissue before Christmas and were disappointed to hear that they were all sold out, take heart – a new shipment is on its way to these shores from Germany and should be with us this very week.
In the meantime here’s a new review of the reissue in a rough translation from the current issue of Italian magazine ‘Blow Up’ to whet your appetite for the real thing. Read the rest of this entry
THOSE of you who have heard ‘Strychnine’, my mini album of cover versions from 1992, might be interested to know that recently a slew of very tasty psychobilly compilations have been issued – including a couple compiled by (the late) Lux and Ivy of The Cramps. (All thanks to the 50 year copyright rule which means that record companies no longer have to pay royalties on recordings from the 1950s).
As well as the original version of ‘Strychnine’ by the Sonics you can find such hidden schlock classics as ‘The Crusher’, ‘The Mummy’, the breathlessly demented ‘She Said’ by Hasil Adkins and ‘She’s My Witch’ all of which should have been included in one of those ‘1000 records you should hear before you die’ books but weren’t. Shame on them. Read the rest of this entry