Thursday, January 28, 2021

Stephen Stills Masterful Guitar Skills Should Definitely Not Be Underestimated (+ Video)

Stephen Stills came on the music scene in the mid-1960's with the Buffalo Springfield who recorded on Atlantic Records. The West Coast group changed the dynamics of rock music while Stills was indeed the frontman. The first album that I promoted by the group was in 1968 titled, "Retrospective." Among the Atlantic staff, strong rumor had it that the company's President Ahmet Ertegun considered Stills as his 'golden boy' and gave him creative control of all his projects. Then, in 1969 the formation of Crosby, Stills & Nash literally invented the genre of acoustic rock music with beautiful 3-way harmonies. With monster new record releases like this in my briefcase, I felt very fortunate to be able to promote their first 3 albums, "Crosby Stills & Nash", "Deja Vu (w/Neil Young) and "4-Way Street"(Live) all which featured Stills magical acoustic guitar work on his vintage Martin guitars, a D-28 and D-45. Next came Stills solo album titled, "Stephen Stills" that produced the classic hit, "Love The One Your With" while being the unofficial theme song for a generation of Baby Boomers. Next came two big album releases by "Manassas" which was predominantly a vehicle for Stephen Stills music. Among that title wave of gold and platinum albums that were generated from that 7 year hit spree, somehow several of my gold & platinum record awards received for my courageous duty while serving in "The Rock Trenches" have since then simply vanished and are now in someone's attic catching dust. But, in spite of my long line of service from that era, I still have my treasured archive (c) photographs (above) which I gladly share. Here's an excellent video supporting the storyline of Stephen Stills' masterful command of a Martin acoustic guitar. Hope you enjoy!

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Early 1968 Photo Reveals Photographer's Eye For The Gloomy Living Of A Manhattan Apt.

Early in my photo journey I did not want to focus solely on concert photography or rock stars. However, my earliest recognition in photography was just that. And naturally I'm proud of those accomplishments as everyone needs a launching platform. Truth is, everyone has their own viewpoints and opinions and appreciates photography in their own way. My early influences were former Look Magazine photographer Stanley Kubrick who later became a film maker (2001: A Space Odyssey, Clockwork Orange, The Shinning). Plus, I always admired photographer Diane Arbus for her eye for capturing the mundane. Yet still in search, I eventually settled on a wider scope and considered photojournalist as 'the real artists who recorded the facts.' With a early break in the music business I began to travel extensively thus allowing me to shoot photos during my journey. Featured here in one of my early photos in1968 while taken on a visit to New York as one afternoon I peeked out my hotel room window and was petrified at the sight of typical New York hi-rise apartment living. No disrespect to my long-time New York friends but being a Southern boy from Tennessee I was so accustomed to the open spaces and greenery from my home state that this view from my window was a big downer. Subsequently, I titled this (c) photo, "Images don't change, but we do."

Sunday, January 10, 2021

A Music Legend Lost Fifteen Years Ago

On this day 15 years ago on Jan. 11th, 2005, I lost a dear friend whom I admired. And to this very day, his passing still weights heavy because he will always be in my heart. And that person’s name is Jimmy Griffin (as seen above on right). Truth is, we lost a global superstar. Not only did we lose a superstar of the music world, but we also lost an outstanding man with a gentle soul. He was charming in character and with cultural refinement. I am speaking of the co-founder to the soft rock mega-group BREAD. He was the singer/songwriter/musician, Mr. James Arthur ‘Jimmy’ Griffin. Jimmy’s background reads like an historical novel while revealing the many twists-and-turns of hectic life in the music business. So much so, that I need to share his story publicly. Hailing from Memphis, TN and after graduating from Kingsbury High in 1962, Jimmy traveled to Los Angeles to visit his former neighbors also from Memphis, Johnny & Dorsey Burnett. The Burnett Brothers had recently relocated there to become established musicians and encouraged young Jimmy to come for a visit. Upon that visit and through those initial business contacts, Jimmy landed a record deal with Reprise Records and never looked back.

Jimmy and his long ascent to fame is such a remarkable and inspiring story. Consider this; Griffin wrote songs that were recorded by, Gary Lewis and The Playboys, Brian Hyland, Leslie Gore, Ed Ames, Bobby Vee, The Standells, Sandy Nelson, Cher, and many more. And all this was done during the developing period of the cultural phenom called Rock ‘N’ Roll. In the middle 1960’s Griffin soon landed several small acting roles in the movies, “For Those Who Think Young” and “None But The Brave.” But an incredible surprise came in 1970 when Griffin won an Academy Award for co-writing the Carpenters song “For All We Know” from the film “Lovers and Strangers.” Plus, while reaching further heights, and as mentioned earlier, Jimmy Griffin was the co-founder of the pioneering soft rock group, Bread. If the truth be known, Bread had more charted singles in Billboard Magazine and was awarded more gold & platinum album awards than many of their contemporaries. Their music was so popular that it helped create a new radio format, Adult Contemporary. Years later, Jimmy relocated back to Memphis and recorded an album with Terry Sylvester formerly of the popular British group, The Hollies. Still later, Griffin moved to Nashville where he revived his career with even more hits and stardom. Plus, he was back on the charts again!

Me personally, I was so inspired by Jimmy Griffin’s grand accomplishments that I included an entire chapter (chapter #20) of his long career in my non-fiction memoir titled, “The Rock Trenches ~ Journal of a Music Industry Executive” (available at Amazon Books online). This is must reading for music lovers and those of inquisitive minds.

 So, in my recognition of this 15th year of Jimmy Griffin’s passing, I can honestly say that I am disappointed from the lack of career recognition that Jimmy Griffin has received in Memphis which supposedly is a landmark music town. Let it be known, I have a major gripe. I angrily shake my finger at those who claim any musical knowledge of his hometown’s historic heritage and have somehow overlooked him. First of all, those decision makers from his hometown have not done anything to preserve his good name and honor it with a ceremonial plaque, or a famed Music award to the music legends from Memphis, or any institutional recognition of his greatness in local museums. It drives me absolutely bonkers when those so-called 'music experts’ from his hometown that in turn want to acknowledge and worship a 1980's rock band who never even had a hit record and then they institutionalized the band (now defunct) with greatness that never happened. And I should know as I promoted their record(s) all of which never got off the ground. Or how about the local institution that recognized a record producer (deceased) who, without consulting others, unceremoniously self-proclaimed himself as the designated speaker for an entire music community and boastfully talked his way into being (falsely) honored. In a business of monumental hype, I think those gullible believers on that approval committee have completely gulped-down the big one. And now they are trying to drum-up support for a nobody named Fav Talco & Penis Burns. What's wrong with these decision makers in Griffin’s hometown? Where are the officials who are in an authoritative position and control the ‘nominees’ names while denying Griffin from being awarded and deserving his rightful place in the music history in his very own hometown. What's wrong with this picture? As a long-time and accomplished music industry veteran, I think those official decision makers need to have their monster egos checked with a giant dose of reality, or they should be replaced.

In closing: Let it be know that I have always abided to the sacred omen to never write or publicially say anything offensive about someone. And I feel that in this story I have adhered to that principle. If you will take notice, no names other than Jimmy Griffin's name are punctuated here. So, let the guilty parties expose themselves by standing up to complain. I have one more true story that some might relate to my frustration on this matter. One time I was being interviewed on TV on the Tim Mullins Show when he asked me, “Phillip, why is it that so many musicians and industry people have had to leave Memphis before they can truthfully say they have made it?” My response was, “Well, there's a city located just 200 miles from Memphis and they call it, ‘Music City.’ The truth, did we miss the boat.” 

Jimmy Griffin is gone but he is certainly not forgotten. I rest my case. Can I get a amen? 

(copyright (c) 2021 all rights reserved - the phillip rauls photolog)


Sunday, January 03, 2021

Photographer Captures His Music Icon

 Without a doubt, one of my favorite photos of Robert Palmer is one that I had taken of him in Portland, OR in the early 1990's while on tour with him. Here Robert is conducting an radio interview on the evening of his Portland performance when an incoming phone inquiry asks, "I want to know are the 'dancing girls' from your video backing you in performance tonight." Palmer quietly cleared his throat, took a breath, and then responded to the caller, "No". The interviewing DJ noticing the possible friction created by the question and promptly said, "Next caller please." (editors note: From earlier, it was my clear understanding that this subject was not one of Palmer's favorite topics) Follow the story below as the truth is revealed by an important and trusted Robert Palmer band member. Read about Robert Palmer's long and brilliant career in the non-fiction journal titled, "The Rock Trenches ~ Journal of a Music Industry Executive" by Phillip Rauls and available in paperback or Kindle on Amazon Books.

That very same question has been asked many times. Please note: I posted my same photo with my identical commentary on the Robert Palmer Fan Group and several viewers from that website group asked the very same question. So, I brought-in my friend & former business colleague who was Robert Palmer's long-drummer, Mr. Dony Wynn, and he replied to Palmer's friction to the subject:
Dony Wynn said: "Philip is spot on correct. During the Addicted Tour, everyone involved was absolutely beleaguered day in day out with the question from everyone, Are the girls here? So much so the crew had shirts made that said, Fuck no, the girls are not here! The ridiculous question got old fast. In truth the American press never gave the man credit for anything. All they talked about was the video - the girls, that song, his suits, his punishment for being too good looking, too talented, living an idyllic life, making music EXACTLY how and when and why he wanted. Ultimately there was a price to pay... jealousy DOES exist. All he cared about was the music, everything else was secondary. I will add this, Robert was blessed with the patience of Job. In the 25 years I worked with him I only saw him lose his temper ONCE in soundcheck with an obstinate musician who had it coming. The man just wanted to groove and enjoy this life, and for the most part, he did." Direct quote from Palmer's drummer, Mr. Dony Wynn.