The music business is dead, and like a phoenix from the ashes, passion-filled music is very much alive
It took me three months to get a drum sound in 1977. Those heady days of rock 'n' roll excess, when music was in the hands of rock stars with vast fortunes and very tight trousers.
I was on the mighty Led Zeppelin's label Swan Song. My band was Detective, and we recorded our first album at the legendary Record Plant in Los Angeles -- as famous for its hot tubs and Jacuzzis, its private rooms and tales of depravity, as much as its magnificent roster of rockers. All at thousands of dollars per hour.
In those ravaged rooms of Babylon, occupied by cocaine-filled delirium where Brian Wilson sat in a sandbox and the Stones rambled way past midnight has been replaced by a Starbucks and God forbid, a Chick-Fil-A.
Making an album in those days was of course, very different than it is now. This was the '70s. In the '60s, there was more freedom in that the phenomenon of rock 'n' roll was in the early stages of a revolution that would rock the world, and we were flying by the seat of our velvet pants.
With the incredible amounts of money at stake, rock inevitably mutated into a corporate concern. Much like "rock star" has mutated into an energy drink.
The artists were prototypically monosyllabic savants who were schooled in the blues, blissfully unaware of advances or recoupment. Those days are gone, thank God.
Now, like homo sapiens replaced monkeys -- most musicians in modern music are the pterodactyls of the charts, replaced by machines for the most part. Inevitably out of the rhythm and blues, the bloated greedy music business exploded and died a horrible death.
Real music is back in the hands of those who love making authentic music. They are only too happy not to play this soul-crushing bean-counting formulaic game. The music business is dead, and like a phoenix from the ashes, passion-filled music is very much alive.
I made my current album, "Carnaby Street," in 10 days -– including mixing. In the old days it would have taken the engineer that long to light the candles setting the atmosphere for the drug-addled artists inspiration. I realized I didn't need the advice or counsel of an aging ex-music executive unused to living without an expense account to buy bad cocaine from his brother-in-law who was an ex A&R man, who had the astonishing distinction of surviving for 25 years in the music business without signing a single act.
This resulted in "Carnaby Street" garnering the best reviews of my career. But more importantly, the immensely fulfilling feeling of a job well done without the acquiescence to an entity that paid my rent or the lease on my Mercedes. My money, my music, my experience.
With the advent of laptop symphonies and technological sophistication, pop music has become a producer's medium, much as the movies are a director's medium. They create the songs on computers and put a cute young AutoTuned, photo-shopped beauty in front of a mic as a film crew captures her every move.
All of this soon to be hysterically edited together in an ADD flash-cut video for a medicated generation, stimulated for just one brief moment. I'm not saying that it's better or worse, now or then. There are so many new artists that I adore. I do sense a shift and a burning desire to recreate analog allegories in a contemporary homage to the simplicity of another time.
In the moment music: five guys or girls sitting together, playing live, with each other. Two takes tops. Put the results up on iTunes and go play every gig they can, and enjoy every second. And just maybe, a Bob Dylan will surface –- a Jim Morrison, Mick Jagger, Janis Joplin, a Beatle, a Stone -- perhaps not.
Perhaps rock stardom is now just for wrestlers and politicians.