Archive for August, 2013


August 25, 2013

Linda Ronstadt has revealed her struggles with Parkinson’s disease. The much-loved 70/80s singer has confided that the disease means that she physically can’t sing anymore, also inhibiting her ability to walk. She now travels in a wheelchair and uses poles on uneven ground.

Linda was a special singer. I hate talking about her in past tense. She wouldn’t want our pity.
She had a great voice and great looks – there’s plenty of those – but given that she wasn’t going to write her own songs she made it her mission to champion songwriters we weren’t listening to, and should have been (Warren Zevon, the McGarrigles) while also entertaining us with her take on oldies we’d forgotten (‘You’re No Good’, ‘When Will I Be loved’). It sounds simple but she had great taste, and although it sounds like a safe formula she was often brave.

If we’re interested in music we listen to an artist we like and find out where that something we like comes from. Linda Ronstadt made it easy and did that for us.

She’s never married, but there are known celebrity relationships, most notably with Democratic Presidential candidate Jerry Brown. Some were excited by the prospect of the world’s sexiest and highest paid female rock singer at the White House. That thought helped Jerry Brown’s political aspiration’s. It also didn’t help Jerry Brown. He didn’t win and has had to be satisfied with being Governor of California.

He was one of the men in her life. Musically there had been any number of music industry men attracted to her, and some ready to exploit her. The man who steadied the ship was Peter Asher, of Peter and Gordon fame. He’d come from England to continue his working relationship with James Taylor and also found Linda Ronstadt to manage and produce. She was the one who wanted to take the risks. He was the one who had her record songs people could relate to. It was a good partnership.

Linda is not alone today. She has adopted two children, a boy and a girl, about to enter their teenage years.
Next month Linda Ronstadt releases a memoir “Simple Dreams”. The book does not chronicle the diagnosis. She’s not looking for sympathy. She discovered the cause of her physical problems eight months ago.



August 23, 2013

Music promoter and producer Sid Bernstein, most famous for bringing the Beatles to Carnegie Hall (their first live concert in America) and Shea Stadium (their last) , has died. He was 95.

In early 1963, Sid Bernstein, 44 years old, was acting as an independent promoter/agent and earning about $200 a week working for the largest theatrical agency in America. He was also taking a night school course which required him to read English newspapers each week. By the time his course had finished in February 1963 he had noted the rise of an obscure rock group from Liverpool who had begun to dominate the British press. Sid had a hunch that The Beatles were unique, and not even having heard their music, found the Liverpool telephone number of the group’s manager Brian Epstein and suggested that he’d like to book the group for New York’s Carnegie Hall. America hadn’t heard of The Beatles yet and rock groups didn’t play prestigious venues like Carnegie Hall.

Brian said that Sid’s plan was premature but they had a deal if The Beatles scored a number one in America.

You can’t just book Carnegie Hall on a whim. The deposit was $500. Berstein looked at the calendar and found a date nearly a year away, February 12, Lincoln’s birthday. The Beatles ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ made No.1 in America in the last week of January. Their assault of America – including the famous Ed Sullivan Show – was able to be co-ordinated around Sid Berstein’s Carnegie Hall booking. There was so much demand there were two concerts that day, and to maximize audience numbers, some seating was created on stage.

Beyond the Beatles, Bernstein was a key force in the British invasion of America, bringing such artists as the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, Herman’s Hermits, the Moody Blues to the US. He managed the Young Rascals. Among the other artists that he promoted were Frank Sinatra, Jimi Hendrix, Sly and the Family Stone and, later, Laura Branigan and Lenny Kravitz along with a just breaking ABBA.
Even though the Beatles had only disbanded a mere six years earlier, the public demand for them to ‘get back’ was peaking in 1976, leading to a mammoth $230 million reunion offer from Bernstein offering the unprecedented sum for a one-time-only charity concert. They turned down although Paul McCartney admits they considered it