Transcript:

Speaker You know what would be great, because we've talked about this a lot, and if you could kind of just talk about how the music.

Speaker The.

Speaker The progression of music in those days, actually starting probably with with before the 60s. I mean, yeah, early 60s, early 70s toppers and that's right. Well, changed. It became a kind of very different.

Speaker All right. I'll tell you my little viewpoint on it. I'm not you know, I'm not a college professor or a sociologist, but but I was a folk singer. So I was in a in a folk group and the big folk boom that happened in the early 60s. And so from about sixty one to sixty six, I was travelling around the country with a group called the Modern Folk Quartet. The big thing in those days was college concerts, because the the war was going on and colleges were full of kids who hoped they wouldn't get drafted and that's why they were in college. So we would go around to these colleges and sing, you know, Phil Oak's anti-war songs and draft dodger rag and we get standing ovations. And that was a big unifying thing in those days. So we traveled around and did folk clubs, TV shows and colleges a lot. And, of course, folk music. Your your singing folk songs, songs about cowboys and miners, you know, and farmers and people in the mountains and stuff like that. You're not really singing original songs. Oh, it's people. People and. Right. Folks on what? People wrote folk songs. But, you know, 100 years ago, sort of. So. So we were constantly scouring old records and songbooks, trying to find undiscovered folk songs, you know, or songs of the Kingston Trio hadn't recorded, say, you know, and. And then at some point. Well, let me see. I think the big thing that happened was the Beatles played Ed Sullivan. And every folk group saw that. I mean, I know we were on the road and we we rented a motel room that night instead of sleeping in our camper because we wanted to see that TV show. And we went out like the next week. We bought an electric bass because we had a stand up bass and acoustic guitars. So we switched to an electric bass and electric guitars pretty quickly, as did all the folk groups. And then you had the Buffalo Springfield and you had The Byrds and. And we were now psychedelic rock. You know, we weren't we weren't a folk group anymore. We were. Well, psychedelic folk music or folk rock. That's what they called it. And I think, you know, everybody was just caught that excitement of the Beatles. You know, they said, wow, that is such exciting music and so joyful. You know, we're here. We're seeing on these dreary folk songs. We want to do that, you know. And so people went electric and also started writing because the Beatles were writing their own songs pretty quickly. And then I think. So music changed at that point in the late 60s. And I mean, the first people to really write songs were sort of Bob Dylan and Paul Simon.

Speaker And then you had, you know, James Taylor and Joni Mitchell. And pretty soon everybody was writing songs. And that was a big change. And that's kind of the point where I think David Geffen stepped into the scene and, you know, kind of fell in love with this new kind of music. And L.A. was a place where it really flowered.

Speaker You know, it was a big explosion of of singer songwriters.

Speaker And now, wait a minute. What is the name of that girl again? Yeah, the girl. No, the girl that I asked. OK, sorry, I just have a mental block. A mental block. So, you know, I mean, I think Lauren Arrow is the first the first singer songwriter that he was kind of attached to and. You know, and I think just like me, he was in the right time at the right place. I mean, I certainly feel that I was in the right place at the right time, just kind of accidentally. I mean, here I was a musician. I picked up a camera just kind of on a lark and started shooting all my friends who then became famous. And pretty soon I had a job doing album covers with Gary Bird. And that was all kind of accidental. And, you know, just the.

Speaker I guess accidental. I don't know that that just occurred to me that Laura Nyro had.

Speaker Her foot. Both doors in both rooms, actually. She was kind of a little bit out of the ASKAP, you know, Brill Building, right?

Speaker Right. At first I actually had a writing partner. Right. Doing what Carole King was doing. Writing, right? Yeah, sure. And then she was also writing this very personal song. Right.

Speaker David, I think, thought that she was going to have a difficult time as a performer. Mm hmm. And really, her, you know, kind of made her publishing the big thing. Yeah. And so she.

Speaker Well, you know, there always was that distinction between the songwriters and the singers. I mean, the songwriters were in the Brill Building or publishing places, writing all these songs. And then you had the singers singing them. I mean, Frank Sinatra didn't write any songs. And that's the way it was until this new thing happened. You know, and I think Laura Nyro was one of the early, early people to do it. And Carole King, they were songwriters and then they started singing and performing their own songs. And that kind of opened the floodgates. And then pretty soon, everybody was doing. That was the new thing, the new idea in the air. And everybody jumped on that pretty quickly.

Speaker You know, I mean, Jackson Browne certainly was an amazing new singer songwriter. And, of course, Joni Mitchell and James Taylor, you know for sure. And Paul Simon. And Bob Dylan. And, you know, all those people came all at the same time. Pretty much.

Speaker Why do you think L.A. became the place? Why is that music capital? Really? Oh, yeah. How did it shift? What brought about this? What were brought every day?

Speaker Yeah, well, there certainly was folk music in New York and the village gate and the village gate. What was it was that big folk club and grand experience subsidy and.

Speaker Yeah. And the bitter end. Yeah. Right. Does the village get gate?

Speaker Yeah. The village gate was a place that we played a lot. It was kind of a jazz club, but they had folk music to folk folk and jazz. Kind of went together. In fact, we played with our group, the Modern Folk Quintet, played on the road for the Ford Motor Company for a while when it was called the Folk and Jazz Wingding. And we would be on the bill with them.

Speaker I can't think of the names.

Speaker We would be on the bill with Terry Gibbs, the vibraphone player. Oh, God, I can't think of anymore. Now, the black lady who sang played the piano and sang. I can't think of a name. Jessica. Yes. She was a jazz singer, played the piano and saying very.

Speaker No, not Sarah Vaughan, Nina Simone. Nina Simone. That's it. We hit the road with Sam most. I remember we were on the road with Terry Gibbs, the vibe player, and Nina Simone. And we did these college dates where jazz and folk and then since we were what we call ourselves, the modern folk quartet, which is kind of like the modern jazz quartet. And we weren't soups. We had black suits and grey suits. And so we were kind of respectable folk music. Instead of coffeehouses, we would play in sometimes in jazz clubs like the Village Gate. But then there was also the Vitter bitter. There was also The Bitter End and Gerde's Folk City and The Gaslight and all kinds of little coffeehouses in Greenwich Village. But in L.A., we had the Troubadour and the Ashgrove, which were two huge folk places, and the Troubadour was kind of the mecca of folk music in L.A. And any night of the week you could see all your friends and folk music down there, you know, and Iran's that would be there. Jackson Browne, Roger McGuinn, David Crosby. I mean, they were all there every night. And the record companies. Were there more there were more record companies in L.A. than New York or were there? I don't know. I mean, the question is why L.A.?

Speaker You know, it was a big shift. Yeah.

Speaker Is always the center, whether that's. Clicking something is making noise.

Speaker OK, so let's see.

Speaker Just curious, I know that they love very young people who don't fit. Wouldn't remember this, Alan and did. Did you watch? Because I remember watching the Beatles performance on my family.

Speaker Yeah. I mean, you read. Front and center. Did you guys see it? Yeah. It was like the moment that it was really, truly one of those universal moments that I think almost everybody. Yeah, it certainly was. Yeah.

Speaker Yeah. I mean, you know, we had heard of the Beatles and we'd heard a couple of songs on the radio. But to really see them standing there with their guitars and and really just playing that stuff. I'm sorry.

Speaker Let me turn the phone down off capital, please.

Speaker I think with the record labels, because it really is not something.

Speaker I mean, you know, because we I guess we forget that they had offices in New York. I mean, because we had Warner Brothers here. We had Capital Records and Universe. I don't know what that they were liberty. They were different names back then for these record companies. And I guess they are maybe their major offices were in New York, but they all had offices out here as well. Maybe maybe folk musicians kind of settled out here because of the weather, you know, and the mountains and the sea shore and all that, you know, and Laurel Canyon, which was a terrific place to live.

Speaker And ask you to talk about. Yeah. Describe a typical day. Laura. Wow.

Speaker Airplane. Yeah.

Speaker Well, Laurel Canyon was like living out in the country, but it was five minutes from Hollywood. It was just right up the hill. So, I mean, you would just leave the Sunset Strip and drive up the hill and things would get quiet and there'd be these little mountain streets and little cabins that had been built in the 30s and 40s. And it was real quiet up there. So quiet that, you know, you could hear somebody playing the guitar, you know, and the next hillside. And I would kind of quietly echo through. And at night there'd be coyotes and owls and really was living in the country. But just so close to to Hollywood and so many musicians and actors and actresses settled up there because it was it was great to get out of that whole, you know, hustle and bustle of Hollywood and and suddenly be home out in the country, you know.

Speaker And flowering relationships were begun there.

Speaker Yeah. Yeah.

Speaker Well, in the in the late 60s and the music scene, there was a lot of hanging out going on. You know, people would would would just bump into each other either up in Laurel Canyon or at the Laurel Canyon store down at Schwab's Drugstore or at the Troubadour at night. And people always showing chords. Trading chords, trading song ideas and just bumping into each other. A lot of collaboration, you know.

Speaker And a lot of that in Laurel Canyon as well, because you if you just took a little walk down the hill, you'd be sure to bump into somebody or you'd hear. One day I was walking down the hill on Lookout Mountain Avenue and I heard a guitar playing and walked up to the door. And it was Stephen Stills who was the guy that I knew. You know, so I knocked on the door and went in and then he said, Hey, Henry, we're going out to a soundcheck down at Redondo Beach today. Would you like to come along? And I said, yeah, sure, I'll come along and hang out. And while the Buffalo Springfield was doing their soundcheck, I walked around on the beach shooting photos that I could show in my slide show to my friends instead of being in there photographing Neil and Steven. I was shooting people on the beach, but then I was shooting a huge mural on the back of the folk club that they were doing their soundcheck in. And just as I was shooting that mural for my slide shows, they kind of walked out the back door and I said, hey, you guys want to you stand in front of that? And I thought, well, it'll give the scale to the picture to have some human human being standing there. And so that became my first group shot. I mean, I didn't think, gee, there's the Buffalo Springfield. I could take a group shot, you know, wasn't that I just wanted some people there. And that was that was the first picture that I ever sold. A week later, I got a call from a teen set magazine and they said, we hear you have a picture of the Buffalo Springfield and we'll pay you one hundred dollars if we can use it. And I thought, wow, this is great. You know, people will pay for this thing that I'm doing every day anyway that I love to do and can't stop doing it. So that was a that was a revelation, you know.

Speaker When did you first meet? David Geffen. David, I'm sorry.

Speaker Why? I think I first became aware of David Geffen through through Elliot Roberts and Elliot had a little office called Lookout Management. And it was on La Cienega Boulevard, was in the same building that the Doors had their office in.

Speaker And then. I don't know.

Speaker You know, I remember bumping into Jim Morrison all over the place and he'd be in a clothing store with his girlfriend or just walking down the street or. And I would see him around La Cienega there. And Elliott had his office, very small little office there. And then after he met David Geffen, they needed a bigger play. So they moved to a suite of offices on Sunset Boulevard right near the Beverly Hills end of Sunset Boulevard. And it was in a building that Hoagy Carmichael owned and had his office upstairs. And it was a great little suite of offices. I mean, there was some big steps going up to where the secretary sat and then there was a hallway with little rooms on each side.

Speaker And at the end of the hallway in the two biggest rooms were David Geffen and Elliot Roberts. And then there was a succession of of secretaries and little little ante rooms and rooms where people could sit and use the phone or play songs or whatever. And all through the early 70s, I would drop by that place with Gary Burden almost every day. It seemed like every day Lisa was a few times a week you'd just be out doing errands or dropping by somewhere, going somewhere to shoot photos of somebody. You're going to lunch. And they just stopped by the Geffen Geffen Roberts office, you know, to to maybe use the phone, talked to the secretary, see who was there. And David Crosby was usually there and David Blue was there and Glen Fry would be there. And always there would be two or three musicians there just hanging out.

Speaker Yeah. Yeah. And what was David?

Speaker David was usually down the hallway on the phone and. And you could hear him down there, you know, making deals. No, I mean, David was he he was a very friendly guy and a very smart guy. And in such an advocate, you know, for the people that he that he managed. I mean, he was almost like a legislator or something. And you'd hear him down there making deals and, you know, raising his voice, you know, and so did Elliot. You can hear him kind of yelling, you know, down down the hallway. And I don't I never could really hear what they were saying. But you could just hear him down there. Panic shouting on the phone.

Speaker What was that relationship? And David, you described that relationship. Well, there's a different.

Speaker Hmm hmm. Well, you know, Eliot was Elliot lived up in Laurel Canyon and was kind of more of a hippie. And then David Geffen. I mean, David Geffen came more from the agency side, right.

Speaker Kind of wearing suit. Well, he didn't wear suits at all. No, he didn't. He was more from the organized side of it. You know.

Speaker I think Eliot was a lot, lot more informal, you know, and I think some of that rubbed off on David as well. I mean, David wore Levi's and T-shirts.

Speaker So his jeans were pressed here.

Speaker So David Geffen was a little more a little more put together. You know, he worked Levi's and t shirts. But a little more, Natalie. A little more of a Nattie, you know, dresser.

Speaker Why do you think that relationship works so well?

Speaker You know, I don't know, I mean, I would say I mean, it seemed to me that Elliott was a little more of the laid back kind of hippie guy and and David Geffen was more, you know, more OUTFRONT, you know, kind of ready to talk about it and ready to, you know, have a discussion about. About it.

Speaker And musicians have the artists feel.

Speaker Well, now you know that part I don't really know. You know, I mean I mean, Geffen took, you know, at that point in the music business, as soon as these singers started writing their own songs, they had a. You know, they potentially they have more clout. Kind of. And David stepped in right at that time and represented them. And there was a big change in how the musicians, you know. There was a big change in the relationship between the music acts and the record company at that point, because up to that point, the record company called the shots. You know, they would they would have a lot to say about what songs you were recording and where you were going to do it and what the album cover wasn't. Usually they would you would go in and they would show you your album cover. Here it is, you know. Oh, well, that's OK, I guess. I don't know, you know, but but when Elliott and David kind of took over, they used that the clout of the group, you know, to to to get a lot of concessions from the record company now, then and then it changed so that the group was going to give the record company their album cover. And the group was going to say, we need such at such a studio, we're gonna be in there for three months. When I was in a folk group, we did our two folk albums with Warner Brothers. We did both of them in two days. We'd go in one day and do side A six songs and go in the second day and do the B side six songs. And that was it. I know Crosby, Stills, Nash. The first time I went into the studio with them, they they had booked, you know, a months that Wally hiders and and they went in and then, you know, started figuring out what they were going to record. But that's not really true. Not the first CSM Why album was that way. I know they they they booked a couple of months in the studio and then and then went in there and started working on songs, which was a whole different way of doing it. But, you know, my part of it was more the record covers. Gary Burton and I did all these album covers and. And we had the the group to back us up. You know, whatever we wanted to do, we could do because of Geffen and Elliott and because the groups had so much more power now because of them.

Speaker Did David get involved in the design? Well, no.

Speaker You know, my partner, Gary Burden, was the guy who designed the covers and he was concerned with the look of the group and the lettering and how all that would be.

Speaker I had a much pure job at all I had to do was just photograph everything that happened. And so that's what I did. It was. It was. And we will go on these adventures. I'm sure Gary told you about this week. You know, our idea was to take the group out of town, away from the managers and the girlfriends and and go on a little adventure, because for musicians to have their photo taken was kind of like going to the dentist. You know, it. I mean, and especially if it was in a studio, you'd have to go stand there and smile and, you know, the lights would flash and that was no fun. So we would go out to the desert, to Joshua Tree and spend the night, or we'd go down to some Indian reservation and rent horses and, you know, ride through the desert to do a little palm oasis, you know, and spend the night there. And we'd always go on an adventure. And then my job was just to shoot everything that happened. And Gary would say, just keep shooting films the cheapest part. And that worked out really, really well, because all I wanted to do was shoot pictures of what I saw. I didn't want to plan anything. And so it was a perfect symbiotic relationship. Gary would set the scene and then I would just step in and photograph everything that happened. And then he would look at all those pictures and we'd have a slideshow maybe. And then everybody would say what they thought was their favorite, you know, pictures. We'd have a big slide show and everybody could pick out their favorites. And then Gary would take all of that and weave it all into some kind of an album package. And then when the record companies would scream because Gary was spending too much money on the package, you know, Gaffin and Roberts would say, hey, that's the way it's gonna be. You know, because I think mostly because David Geffen had that written into the contract, you know, that these groups would control more of their lives and more their luck. And it became more important because they were writing their own songs and they had their own sort of look on their own, their own feeling that they wanted to put across. So they needed to control all that.

Speaker Really? Really. Done that beautifully, describing the shift in the power base. I mean, it was historic. I mean, it really changed. Yeah. Yeah. It's never gone back. It went from being, you say, executive run by Ry Anonymous. You know, that bean counters in that she was very good. Now producers within the music business. Yeah. Yeah. But you know, David, really, you're right. He really saw potential. Right. Yeah. Yeah.

Speaker There were some people who who saw, you know, were skeptical because. You know, up till then, you know, I say somebody I think a quoted one of the rock critics, I think it was rather Chris Gayle, but you said, you know, up to David's arriving, it was really about the music. David came in, it became also about the money.

Speaker Yeah.

Speaker I don't think the artists were particularly objecting to becoming millionaires, though, right? Was it the effect that all that money then had on this boy?

Speaker I don't know if I could. Well, I mean.

Speaker As soon as musicians started writing their own songs, it was the publishing that came into it. And that was that was, you know, a lot of the money. If you get songwriters money in the publishing money added to just the performance money or the royalties you got for singing the songs. That was considerable. Bigger amount. You know, I don't I'm not sure that I could. I'm sure Gary probably talked about that better than I could. I don't know. I think you were an observer.

Speaker Well, I was. I don't know, Carly. Well, I mean, OK, I can I can talk about my own personal thing, you know? I mean, I had album. In the group that I sang with in the folk days, we had a couple of album covers done and we did two albums with Warner Brothers and we got the call that we were to meet the photographer in front of a little club, and he was there for about a half an hour and took pictures. And a week later we were called into Warner Brothers and said, Here's your album Cover Boys. And there was a picture of us. And, Oh, gee, look, that's great. You know, we had nothing more to do with it than that. All the songs we sang were folk songs, are songs written by by other people, you know, years ago.

Speaker So none of them were original. So there was no publishing money. I mean, I think we got advanced a certain amount of money, which we probably never even, you know, paid back and ever probably even earned enough to pay it back. So there was wasn't a lot of money, you know, flowing around when we had our folk group. So that changed quite a bit when when you had the group writing every song and then somebody had to.

Speaker Somebody had to manage all that money and, you know, I don't I I'm not good at talking about that.

Speaker I just I don't. Yeah, I was. So were you around when when asylum records started?

Speaker It went from being. I was company to asylum. Yeah.

Speaker But, um.

Speaker The first I knew about asylum records was when I saw Gary Burden sketching the door of a asylum. And I said, what do you do? And he said, well, Gaffin Roberts. Ah, you know, I think he said, David is starting a new record company. And he wanted me to draw a logo for it. And that's first thing I knew about it, you know. You know, I read my journals about those days. I was looking through them, trying to find some references. And all throughout the journals, it stopped by, you know, Gaffin Roberts stopped by Lookout Mountain. I mean, all the time I was doing that. But then I was running after dinner with other friends or I was I was playing on somebody's session or I was I mean, there were so many more things going on in my life than just, you know, that that hour that I would spend, you know, hanging out at. Hanging out at Sartwell, hanging out at Gaffin Roberts. I don't know what to call it. Kevin Roberts asylum look out or whatever.

Speaker Change in Roberts management. Yeah.

Speaker Became David.

Speaker Well, we can see, you know, while there were certainly drugs being used in. For my part of it, I was mostly aware of people smoking grass, God's herb, as I call it. And it was a gentle, euphoric, you know, that it sort of gave you ideas. I know it made me sort of want to take pictures. You know, it made musicians want to play music and write songs that really kind of helped. And that I could just describe what it was like going. I mean, every day I would be in the car with Gary Burton driving somewhere. Mama Kassis house maybe for lunch on Sunset Strip and then always buy the Gaffin Roberts office, which we call look out, look out management. Then I think we still call it that. It was Gaffin Roberts, but it was also look at management. And we would go in there and there would always be friends there, always somebody, you know, passing your joint. You could have a little bit of that and kind of relax, you know, and and there were lovely girls that worked in there, you know, answering the phones and and working as secretaries.

Speaker It's like I just never.

Speaker Let's jump ahead a little bit. Yeah.

Speaker Well, I was going to say there were these lovely girls that that work there and they you know, we're a part of the crowd of everybody. In fact, there was one girl there named Lonnie who doodled. And she drew and she was a terrific artist. So what she would, you know, doodle on a piece of scratch paper and then throw it in her garbage can. And I would go in there and fish these things up in a garbage can. I still have them somewhere. And when it's a box somewhere, Lonnie's doodles, I mean, they were beautiful, beautiful little drawings. So that was one thing I loved to do there. And when you walked in, they were. That was very comfortable furniture. Kind of a big, overstuffed couch, you know, and kind of big leather chairs to sit in and oriental rugs, you know, kind of frayed Oriental rugs on the on the on the ground. And I'm always somebody playing a guitar, you know, or playing a new song. And a little bit of news about something that was happening. Boys, we need you to take pictures of, you know, this person or that person.

Speaker So anticorporate.

Speaker I mean, it was very high. Right. But at the same time that it was kind of this real comfortable sort of a hippie, then there was all this deal making going on down the hallway that you could you could hear, you know, and and David and Elliot, both were you know, you'd hear them raising their voices. They were both shouters on the phone. And it was I always loved to hear that I was as a little, you know, burst of energy, kind of, you know, coming out of the back room. You know, I think David was a screamer. Yes. I guess you probably have plenty of people telling you that. Right. Yeah. I mean, I don't you know, I wish I could remember what it was they say, you know. But you know what? You know, are you kidding? You know, I'm you know, I'm you know, I'm not gonna tell that to my clients. You know, I'll come over there and I mean, you know, just shouting going on. I wish I mean, David was so clever, you know, that what what he was shouting was very interesting to listen to. And I wish I could remember exactly how the words all went.

Speaker You know, but I remember being fascinated by hearing that was like doodles machine doodling of images of the artist.

Speaker No, they were just I mean, a lot of people do. They have a little favorite faces. They draw, you know, a face of a girl or a guy. LADD Do you know, they weren't full sketches? They were on the margin of a paper or something or a phone list or something. And then that would get tossed in the garbage can. And then I would I would fish it out. You know, I'm kind of a collector. Maybe you can tell that to the artist.

Speaker I mean, you know, David called it asylum records for a reason to create a sense of a haven for the artists, for all these crazy people.

Speaker Right.

Speaker Did you feel that the artists understood that? Did they kill you?

Speaker Well, yeah, I mean I mean, this place was like a very lovely clubhouse and I think everyone felt at home it felt like a home. You know, it felt like a family. Like I say, I mean, you know what I mean? And the musicians were an equal part of the family to the girls that were answering the telephones and and being secretaries. I mean, there everybody seemed equal. It was the 60s. You know, we were off. We were all flower children, you know, and we all were equal.

Speaker You know, describe some specific musical moments, like the first time that David Crosby introduced Johnny to everybody. Wow. Nash sang together. Yeah, yeah.

Speaker Yeah. Well, I've seen it before.

Speaker The first time I heard Joni Mitchell was up at Mama Cassie's house when Mama cast through a backyard picnic for Eric Clapton because he was in town with Cream and he didn't know anyone. And Mama Cass was an Earth mother and she had met him on a TV show and said, well, you know, look, you need to meet some people, come up to my house tomorrow. We'll have, you know, a barbecue in the backyard. So she invited people. Mickey Dolan's came over. Gary and his wife and daughter came and I came and she invited David Crosby and David Crosby, brought this new singer songwriter that he had met, Joni Mitchell. And I believe he was in the middle of recording her first album with her. And I had never seen her or heard of her before. And so we sat on the grass under these little birch trees in the backyard of Mama Cass assassin. She started playing this just just amazing music that you just played. You know, it blew everybody's mind. And Eric Clapton was sitting there staring at her fingers playing because Joni played to a tuning. In other words, it wasn't tuned. The regular way guitar would be was tuned to a chord and then she would just bar the frets.

Speaker And it was a very beautiful way of playing. And and. And I was taking photos while all this was going on. And there was a photo of Eric Clapton sitting there just staring at her fingers while she's playing, you know.

Speaker And this one, I mean, I certainly know that the one photograph where he's nearing and David's there is David has this leather hat on, but that's the only one I've ever seen from that session.

Speaker Well, there's there's a bunch of them, you know, so noncancerous. It was monarchism.

Speaker You know, she was in other pictures, but not that she was probably in the house making sandwiches climb while they were out on the lawn, you know, seeing.

Speaker And she had her little daughter to take care of. And there were other thing. It was her house. So she had things going on at that particular moment, you know, and there was another time when Boyd Elder was an artist from Texas, had a big show in Venice. And I'm sure Gary told you about this son and of.

Speaker We have to wait a minute.

Speaker I get so engrossed what you're saying. I don't know.

Speaker Yeah, you do. It's there a little boy right here.

Speaker He's got a good, strong voice. So Boyd Elder.

Speaker Now, here it is now, guten.

Speaker Boyd Elder was was a friend of Don Henley's from Texas and a really good friend of Johnny's. Eventually they both were artists. Johnny is not only a singer songwriter, but she's a painter and an artist, and so was Boyd. And so Boyd just came to town and met everybody. And everybody loved Boyd. And when he had his art opening, everybody went out to Venice. To what? The Eagles stood in the corner and played Witchy Woman, which was the only song they knew at the time, over and over again. And of course, Mama Cass was there. Ned Domine and Jackson Browne and Joni Mitchell and. Yeah, and David Geffen. And if I remember at one point there was a spontaneous jam that opened up, you know, that spontaneous music started happening and they were all sitting on the floor. And I remember taking a picture of David Geffen sitting between Joni Mitchell and and Mama Cass and everybody was singing Nat Doheny. Nat Doheny was playing the guitar and Jackson Browne was playing the guitar. And it was great. Once again, it was just like this family, family of people. But it was that way in L.A. in the in the early 70s, late 60s, early 70s. It was just like being at the Troubadour, you know, at night at the Troubadour was it was a huge folk club, a big cavernous place, kind of like a warehouse that had a big stage. And I, you know, played there many times myself and then subsequently photographed Joni Mitchell there and James Taylor and Tom Waits and so many people who played there. And then there was a bar out in the front where everybody would sit and kind of, you know, play music and stuff it. Every once in a while, somebody would light a joint up and that joint would go around the room so fast, everybody would pass it because it was, you know, totally illegal. And they wouldn't want Doug Weston to walk in and smell that. So everybody I mean, it would be gone in like 30 seconds, you know, and home. And then also there was outside the Troubadour or railroad tracks that went down the middle of Santa Monica Boulevard. And at a certain time in the evening, a freight train would go by and a bunch of the lads would run out there and jump on the freight train and write it down a few blocks. Usually it would be Doug Dillard from the Dillard's and Gene Clark and Harry Dean Stanton and a bunch of guys would run out. That was a favorite thing to do, ride the freight train.

Speaker Got the scene turned a little ugly, though, for a while. I mean, isn't that when John Lennon wasn't there some time about Doug Weston, the dust up with the police and the hippies? That was happening here. What isn't exactly clear. That's what that was.

Speaker Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. That that was Sunset Strip. That was up. Up the block. Yeah.

Speaker Not. No.

Speaker True. But I was in Santa Monica Boulevard. Yeah.

Speaker So what was going on.

Speaker I was thinking the only thing about the cops and that one night we were playing on stage and we're playing outside and we heard fire engines outside and they stopped right outside the club. And so we finished our set and ran out and there was our rental car was parked outside the club with the seats out on the sidewalk. And they were squirting the whole car on the way from the motel to the Troubadour. Somebody in our group and left a lit roach joint, you know, in the car. And we burned the backseat of the rental car. So that was an adventure that we had with the cops. Sunset Strip.

Speaker There was a little area of Sunset Strip kind of between the Laurel Canyon and sort of where the whiskey was down towards east, towards Beverly Hills. And then the daytime, they were very high end shops there. But at night, there were a little folk clubs interspersed between these shops and in the summer of.

Speaker Gee, I mean, that'll happen in sixty five then. I mean, in the late 60s, sixty six, five, six. Because I was playin in my group, I quit in 66.

Speaker So Sunset Strip, the end of the folk, day 65, 66, 67. So many kids would come there in the evening to go to these folk clubs that it would be like a carnival midway and it would be all these girls and kind of bellbottoms and with flowers and beads and people all decked out and, you know, stripes and polka dots and stuff in them.

Speaker The shop owners objected to all these kids being there at night. And so the sheriff would park a great big bus right there by the side of the road and they would just stand there on the sidewalk and stop everybody and look at their I.D. And if you weren't old enough, they'd put your hand on the bus and then drive you down to the sheriff's station and.

Speaker That's.

Speaker So in those days, you know, we call them the pigs. Oh, and well, because everybody was smoking grass, first of all, which was totally illegal. And so, you know, you always had to be really careful.

Speaker You know, you're gonna get busted. So we were kind of anti-establishment in that way. And also anti-establishment because of the war. And, you know, because of Nixon and because, you know. You know, that that that was just not the way to be. You know, the establishment we were we were hippies, you know, we were against all of that. We were for personal freedom. And these cops were, you know, just the antithesis of that. And so one night, Stephen Stills was driving down there and they kind of blocked the road off. And they were I think what happened there was a little club there called the.

Speaker I can't never think of names.

Speaker At the London fog, what was that little club right in the middle of Sunset Boulevard? Gosh. I'm supposed to be the guy to say that. Right? And I name of that guy. Pandora's Box. There was there was a little little club, a little coffeehouse that was kind of on a little island right in the middle of Sunset Boulevard. It was called Pandora's Box. And a bunch of kids had just gathered there, just like they did at every evening. And for some reason, the cops at that time perceived that as some kind of a mob or some kind of a threat.

Speaker And there was a there was a bunch of.

Speaker I don't know even know how to describe it. My mind gets so full of all the stories I've heard so many people say, you know, Stephen Stills talks about it. This is Sam Yardie, you know, and his boys perceive this as some kind of a threat. And they had all our cops up there with their truncheons and everything. But it wasn't at all. It was just a bunch of kids having a good time. And that's when Steven wrote the song, you know, there's a man with a gun over there.

Speaker I was really. Yeah, sorry. Have to tell that very well to you.

Speaker When you think of it, you'd know there's stuff in that picture.

Speaker Not so much. You know, I would see David at clubs a lot. There's a damn plane. Yeah. One second.

Speaker In the early 70s, when a lot of David's groups were playing playing clubs. I remember seeing David at backstage a lot of these clubs. He would always come down. You know, the Eagles would be playing or I remember one gig at the Santa Monica Civic with Jackson Browne and Linda Ronstadt of America was another group that that was in the Gaffin Roberts stable. And I remember seeing David Geffen at that. There was always a large scene backstage at these at these concerts.

Speaker You know, there'd be a hundred people back there and they'd all be friends. I mean, it would just be an extension of of the look out management office, really. I mean, all the same people would be there, all the musicians and all the secretaries and all the girlfriends and the managers and I. Now, David Geffen would be there and, you know, John Hartman and Roy Silver and all these guys that you'd see. Irving Azoff, brother.

Speaker And David would, it would always seem. And David was always really bright and friendly. I mean, he was always chatting with the musicians, you know? And then I would take a picture of him talking to these guys. Are those guys. Once again, you know, I was kind of the fly on the wall. I was standing there chatting. So I wasn't in the conversation. I was standing back trying to get all of them in my, you know, in my lens so that Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young in those relationships.

Speaker Oh, yeah. Because that kind of mean they're still playing together, which is amazing. I heard them. Right, right. It is amazing.

Speaker Well, someone has told that story, right, about them getting together and all that.

Speaker I mean, Gary told them. Yeah, well, you know, you hung out with them a lot. So just tell us. Well, how did they relate to each other? David, get into that picture, because I know well, Steven had some problems.

Speaker You know, I'm not really not really aware of that. I mean, I know.

Speaker Harmony was a big thing in music, you know, for me, it was I sang in a group that had four part harmony and a lot of groups didn't.

Speaker A lot of groups just had a singer. I mean, Linda Ronstadt would sing and the band would play. A lot of it was individual singers. I mean, Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell. But Crosby, Stills, Nash were a harmony group. You know, there were three of them singing the same song at the same time. And they were so good at it because, you know, they had come from their respective groups, The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and The Hollies, all of whom I had photographed, you know, before Crosby, Stills and Nash.

Speaker And they had amazing harmony. I mean, it amaze them even in the early days when they all they knew how to play was Blackbird, Blackbird singing in the dead of night. And they would get everybody's house. They would drop by, they would pull out a guitar and sing that song, you know, and everyone go, Wow. Oh, it really was. It really was terrific. And then, of course, got to hang out when they were recording their first album. I mean, I remember standing down a Wally Hiders and photographing the three of them while they were standing around one microphone singing American Express and.

Speaker Being a musician.

Speaker The fact that I was a musician meant that I could I could kind of hang out on these recording sessions because I sort of knew the protocol. I knew to be quiet. And I knew, you know, I knew how to keep out of the way. I wasn't a pushy photographer that was there to get the picture. And, you know, no matter what, I didn't really care about the picture. I more cared about being there and hanging out and just just enjoying myself. And the pictures were, you know, we're just the byproduct of that.

Speaker We're hoping to be able to then we'll be making a film that Crosby, Stills and Nash produces.

Speaker So really. Oh, my. OK. David said he would do it. When I saw him with Jerry. David Crosby. Right. Join David Geffen. And the other day at lunch. Oh yeah. But it's time for it to happen. You know, it's good and done. Not really. Oh yeah. Because I it's kind of hard to get. But they've just done this tour together. It's a good time. It would be a good tone. Yeah, yeah, yeah. You know, clean and sober, right? Yeah. Yeah.

Speaker So you didn't really see too much of David firsthand in terms of his relations with these artists? No, no.

Speaker I didn't really I mean, I knew that from the beginning. You know, I said I could tell you what I saw, but I never really.

Speaker You remember that conversation when David sold asylum? You remember the artist I tell about? I don't I really don't know. What do you know, what do you know about the Eagles and. They were equals.

Speaker Well, I don't know about the relationship with David, but I mean, you know, the I mean, the Eagles were guys that were backing Linda Ronstadt, right. And they'd come from other little little groups. And that's what always happens.

Speaker You sing in this little group and that little group, and then eventually you get together and form another sort of bigger group and and at all, you know, like the little rivers and streams, you know, pretty soon you have the mighty Mississippi. You know, it was the same way with the Eagles. They were they were just guys that played behind Linda Ronstadt. And when they got together, that was some really great music, too.

Speaker I mean, harmony wise and instrumental wise, you know, they were they were very viable group from the very start. And young guys who were very excited, you know, about about making their mark. I mean, Gary and I did their first two album covers and spent a lot of time with them.

Speaker And they were, you know, very excited about that.

Speaker So they were very excited about success and making their mark and I'm sure David aided them in many ways, you know. But there was also Irving Azoff and John Hartman. Now, I mean, I guess you're you're talking about the did the Gaffin Roberts office. The Gaffin Roberts office also had sort of junior members, junior managers, you know, one was Irving Azoff. It would come in there, I believe, with Joe Walsh and Dan Fogelberg. And then there was John Hartman, who had been an agent and then kind of a junior manager.

Speaker And then there was Ron Stone, who had a shirt company, you know, he'd had. What did he have?

Speaker He had a little shop next to the Troubadour where he sold cowboy shirts, you know, and.

Speaker And he was one of the junior managers up there at Gaffin Roberts. I'm trying to think of who else that.

Speaker And all three of those guys kind of graduated from the Gaffin Roberts School of Management and became, you know, huge managers on their own.

Speaker Huge. Yes, I know that David tried to put another little group together, huh? Chris Hillman. Yeah. Right.

Speaker Father Hillmann Fury. Yeah. Well, the sound of him and fury grew up. Yeah. I was supposed to be at.

Speaker Yeah, the south there, Hilman Fury Group was supposed to kind of be another Crosby, Stills, Nash Group, but, you know, the Eagles had wanted J.D. Sather to join their group. And J.D. Souder is a Scorpio when Scorpio's kind of do their own thing, and Joni Mitchell, Scorpio. Neil Young is a Scorpio and they don't take fools lightly, you know, and they don't blend that well sometimes, you know, with other artistic people because they pretty much know what they want to do artistically. And so JD turned the Eagles down and somehow got talked into Sather Hilman fury. But it didn't last very long. And he was pretty disgruntled throughout the whole thing. It just was an experiment that didn't really work. I mean, I photographed him on the road. I think in Atlantic City one time. And, you know, I remember in the morning at breakfast, you know, JDA kind of sitting there real quietly, not really talking to anybody, you know, holding his orange juice with a scowl on his face, you know, and there was there was not a lot of mutual love in that group. It's the kind of thing that you can't just throw together. You know, it's got to happen organically. You've got to be able to tip to want to be with those people and make music. It's an artistic thing. You can't force it so that that group, although they made a couple of good albums and there was some really good songs there because they all were really good singers, songwriters, some it didn't really work at, didn't really fuse together as a viable group.

Speaker Jadi South is still kicking around.

Speaker It sure is, yeah. He just has a new album out. Yeah.

Speaker About solvency.

Speaker Chris Hillman is certainly around. Yeah. Yeah. He lives up in Santa Barbara and he's just he is great. I mean, he goes out solo. There was a big article in the L.A. Times about him just the other day. Yeah. You he's he's terrific.

Speaker So were you were you there the night that the Roxy opened?

Speaker I don't know if I was there that exact night. I don't I don't think so. You know, during all this time, I was I was going in and out of town. I was a lot of seventy-one. I was over in England living with Stephen Stills and photographing him.

Speaker And then I came back to town and immediately began shooting on The Partridge Family set. And pretty soon I was travelling around the world with David Cassidy. So all the time that, you know, this Gaffin Roberts thing was going on, I was also doing other things outside of that. I'm always amazed when I read my my journals. You know, I don't know that. I mean, the one day that I took some pictures of a true picture. One day I took pictures of James Taylor for the Sweet Baby James album. I was amazed to read in my journal that at night I went up and took psychedelics with a whole bunch of friends and we stayed up all night as it happened on the same day.

Speaker Wow. You know, and so, you know, there was so much going on. It just seems like it was all packed into a few years.

Speaker It kind of was. Can you talk a little bit about how the Laurel Canyon thing came apart?

Speaker And how well. Hunter Let me think, Karsh.

Speaker Like I say, you know, I mean, I always lived there all through the 70s, into the 80s. I lived there. But like I say, I as a photographer, I was so into so many different things. I mean, for a whole lot of 73, 74, I really was travelling around the world. And so I wasn't there to witness everything that happened. Jeez, I don't know. You know, the flower child era ended somehow. People started getting serious. You know, people people grew up and got married and had kids, you know, and had to worry about paying the bills. You know that.

Speaker We have to wait a second. We do have to wait a second.

Speaker It's hard to stop in the middle of thinking about something. I think cocaine probably did.

Speaker Yeah, and competition. Would you say that? Yeah. The stakes got higher and higher. It was a little harder. Yeah. That's.

Speaker Competition. Wait. I have something here. But let me just run once, I think that what they acted. I guess it's gone now. So we were talking about how things change, you know, and.

Speaker It's funny. The other day I was talking to Jackson Browne on the phone about this. We were talking about the introduction to a book about all this. And I said, yes, Jackson, what what made that time so great? You know, why was that that little time? You know, like it was. Is it? Well, because it was it was all new, was all new to us. You know. I mean, at that point, those were the first people that were becoming songwriters, you know, and leaving the folk scene. And all of that was just happening brand new. And then after a little bit of time, people were imitating that. I mean, we're talking about South, their home in fury. I mean, now they're trying to imitate Crosby, Stills, Nash. And that didn't work. So it was when it was brand new to everybody that was fresh and alive and blossoming and growing, you know, and it was this singer songwriter, writer, singer songwriter era right there. It was really the blossoming of all that. And then a little more time went by. People got successful than they were out on the road. They weren't in Laurel Cain anymore, hanging out and trading chords and song ideas. They were all out on the road, you know, and trying to, you know, support money for their big houses and their wives and their families, which were growing. And then the old crowd, you know, kind of dissipated in that way. And then there was a period of time when the heavy drugs kind of got came in, you know, because people had the money to afford them. There was no longer, you know, hippies smoking God's herb. It was the heavier powders, you know, that that really ruined a lot of lives.

Speaker That's too bad that that happened. And then, you know, that music changed. I mean, you know, disco. Well, that was that. When was disco? Yeah, that was late 70s. Yeah. I remember disco coming into being and that was, you know, musicians then like that. I remember our old folk group was gonna get back together again and we were talking to one one producer and he said, what can you do all those songs in a disco style? And we went, Oh, no, I can't believe it. Yeah. I mean, the Eagles were kind of a flowering of folk rock, you know, I mean, their pristine harmonies and their and it was a unique it was a unique combination of guys, you know. I mean. The story is that Hennelly is very much a perfectionist, you know? And Glen Fry is just a very talented, kind of outgoing, fun loving guy. And the two of those together, you know, made this great thing. And then and then all the other guys in the group added to that. I mean, originally there were four guys with Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner, and they were much more of a folk. They had a banjo that was real folk rock, you know. And then when they added them, Joe Walsh, ultimately, you know, to make it a real rock and roll group. But, you know, their songs are so clever. I mean, I went on the road with him and it was so much fun because because Henley and Fry are just really clever guys. I mean, it was fun to just listen to him talk in the airport, you know, or on the bus, you know, and see the books they were reading and only where Emilie was always reading some great book. I think I going to get that book, you know, and in the elevator, just listening to him talk, you know, I was amazed.

Speaker And then, of course, on stage, it was just they were they were they were so great. And as a musician, I could appreciate that, you know, I mean, I loved their songwriting.

Speaker I love their their music. This funny.

Speaker Like desperado. Desperado is one of my all time favorite songs. And I'm so proud that I took that album cover. Of course, when you do an album cover, you don't know what the album is going to sound like yet because you do that before the record comes out. You know, like I did a sweet baby. James is my other favorite all time song. I think it's an American anthem. And I took cover of Sweet Baby James long before I'd ever heard the song Sweet Baby James. And then ultimately, it became my favorite song. And I sang both of my little children to sleep. Singing Sweet Baby James. Well, Desperado was another just amazing song I saw. Just an existential just a wonderful anthem. You know, when the Eagles did it so great. And then Linda Ronstadt did the hell out of it. Then there's a group of children, a children's choir that sings that a one little like eight year old girl sings the lead on it. And it's just it will make you cry. It's amazing. And we were talking to Glen Fry about that song and he said, Oh, yeah. I said, you know, Henley had a song that he'd written for a friend of his Leo.

Speaker And I went, For God's sake, Leo, why don't you come to your senses, you know, and that was Desperado. Why don't you cut that? Wow. I mean, I love I love those stories behind the songs. You know, they can come and sell. Yeah. Right. Right. Yeah. Well, in the songwriting process, especially with the Eagles, it a lot of times it was a team effort.

Speaker You know, I mean, I remember seeing Henley and Fry and JD Souder and Jackson Browne up in Laurel Canyon, all sitting around a piano, all kind of reaching into play notes and chords and saying was, I've seen them do that before, you know? I mean, Henley would, you know, would go, for God's sake, Leo. And and so I said, well, what if we change that? You know, Desperado and say, OK, well, let's try that, you know, and let's try this. And that's that's great. Nick, when you you know, the songwriting team is a terrific thing. I mean, some people can do it alone terrifically, but sometimes it's a teamwork that makes it so great. And that's that's the thing about the Eagles, I think, was really the teamwork. You know, of that group. I mean, and when Henley finally found his voice, I mean, he was the drummer. You know, he sang a bit. But then then he, you know, became them one of the lead singers in that group. And of course, as you know, his solo career is amazing as well as solo albums.

Speaker I still see that too often the same thing that happened to the whole the whole, you know, folk world, you know, happened to especially to the Eagles. I mean, the Eagles used to be really good friends and hang out. I mean, with Gary Burton and I would run up to the house all the time and hang out with them and listen to what they were doing. And I take a few pictures. We'd have some laughs, you know, and then at one point, Irving Azoff told them, said, look, you guys want to just just have laughs and get stoned and have fun or do you want to really make it and make some money?

Speaker And from that day on, they didn't welcome people dropping by anymore. It changed just like that, you know. And they're a corporation now. Oh, they're millionaires. Maybe billionaires, you know. Good for them. You know, they made it. They were. It seems amazing that so many huge artists came out of that one little office, you know, with Hoagy Carmichael upstairs, you know, who wrote, you know, Stardust and Skylark and Old Buttermilk Sky was one of my favorites. And downstairs, you had these amazing this new generation of songwriters, you know, of Neil Young and Joni Mitchell and Jackson Browne and Henley and Fry and Dan Fogelberg, you know, and Joe Walsh and Felony David Bloom. They didn't stick around long enough to get famous. Penny was kind of a Dylanesque character and a good friend of Elliot Roberts. But it's amazing that all these huge artists came out of that that one little club house office, you know, couldn't say it any better than that.

Speaker Oh, yes. I wouldn't have anyone to ask.

Speaker I mean, it was only by only that one other question, would you ask it? Yes. I don't know. Maybe you asked it, though, when I was in the bathroom. Just about how.

Speaker Kind of before anybody started making money. There must. There was I read someplace about how. When the birds, I think it was had their big number one hit with Mr. Bryan Green man, that everybody sort of ears perked up all a sudden that they got a record deal and suddenly everybody said, hey, this is a business. You know, that there was some kind of turning what happened there? At first it was just everybody sort of playing in each other's. You know, groups hanging out and then suddenly there was get off Gelman.

Speaker Well, it kind of was, yeah, yeah, when the birds had their big hit with Mr. Tambourine Man, it was an epiphany kind of for everybody. I mean, but my own folk group, you know, kept trying to get some kind of a popular song on the radio. And we actually had the same producer, Jim Dickson, you know, but we never quite found the song. And then the birds came along and they were at.

Speaker They were a wonderful combination of talents, you know.

Speaker And.

Speaker You know, back in those days, if you drive, drive down Sunset Strip and turn the radio on, you know, you would you would hear the birds and the Buffalo Springfield and the Beach Boys and the Ronettes and all of it was coming out of just one station. Any station would played all of it. You know, you didn't have country and, you know, adult, contemporary and, you know, all these different kinds of music. It was just music. It was just popular music and.

Speaker It was such a thrill to hear the birds. You know, just that that began that I have had and I just when the beginning of that song came on, it was. Wow. Just a thrill. And they were one of the first early groups to really become popular. It was with the Dylan song. You know, there was one thing I wanted to say. I don't know if that was a good answer, but the one thing they say anything. I think there's one thing I wanted to say was so here was this whole family of, you know, kind of hippie singer songwriters that come out of the folk thing. And we're starting to experiment with their their own writing, their own songs. And they needed a guy like David Geffen to come along, didn't they? I mean, it's like he was sent.

Speaker He was the guy just like maybe they needed somebody to take photos of all that. And I got and I always say Allah was a complete accident. They know that I was a musician, picked up a camera and happened to be there, you know. Well, maybe it was the same David Geffen. You know, he came along out of a out of the mailroom at the agency and just found his place. And they found him. They they needed each other to really make it happen. And maybe it's an accident and maybe it's not. You know, maybe it's all mapped out beforehand. I'm not sure. Depends on on the books you read, Rekick read Carolyn Mace. She'll tell you that that we all decided that this would happen before we even came down here, you know, and it could be I don't know, it was such a magical time and nobody expected it to be over. And it was one day it kind of was, you know, slowly, but.

Speaker New stuff will come along. Right. New stuff will happen. Thank you very much. Thank you. All right.

Henry Diltz
Interview Date:
2009-11-13
Runtime:
1:09:09
Keywords:
American Archive of Public Broadcasting GUID:
cpb-aacip-504-6d5p844c3f, cpb-aacip-504-bc3st7fd6g, cpb-aacip-504-3n20c4t38f
MLA CITATIONS:
"Henry Diltz, Inventing David Geffen." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). 13 Nov. 2009, https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/669
APA CITATIONS:
(2009, November 13). Henry Diltz, Inventing David Geffen. [Video]. American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/669
CHICAGO CITATIONS:
"Henry Diltz, Inventing David Geffen." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). November 13, 2009. Accessed January 24, 2022 https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/669

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