Podcast Transcript

Buzz Knight

Hi this is Buzz Knight the host of Takin a Walk Music History on foot And you can follow us at Apple podcast Spotify the podcast Playground or wherever you get your podcast And we appreciate if you leave us a review as well and share this with a friend



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 coming up on this episode Really looking forward to meeting up with an old friend Steve Morse legendary music critic in Boston He knows where all the bodies are buried, We’re going to find out about it next



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 Hi Steve So great to be with you That was quite an intro



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 I don’t get that every day I was gonna go deeper but I figured we got to save some of this for this episode I hope so It’s so great to be with you We’re walking the mean streets of Cambridge you know and uh it’s a beautiful day and to take a walk in person is always a joy but uh reconnecting with you is a joy as well Yeah we go way back So thank you



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 So do you remember the first time you walked into the Boston Globe newsroom



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 Oh boy

I was a terrified kid freelancer and I just was in way over my head I mean the globe became a Goliath 2000 people worked at the globe in its heyday Now of course newspapers have a fraction of that



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 So you know you were on your heels right from the get go And



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 I had an appointment with some interview with some woman who grilled me And all of a sudden they said hey let’s let him do some freelancing and I started freelancing music reviews and I did club passim David Bromberg and Vasser Clemens and two legends in their own way Chicago blues and bass was a fiddle player from down south and I just got turned on by the music

turned on by the whole energy of the globe and I just kept pushing and pushing and pushing It took me four years to get hired but it was well worth it




So what year did you get hired there 78



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 started freelancing in 75

 and hired in 78 But I’d grown up around Boston

I really had a kind of a blessed path around here because you know I caught all the shows at the old Boston tea party 10 years after you know Fleetwood back all the British bands would come Jethro Tull And then I went in 1969 I went over to England for the summer I was at an archaeological dig I somehow conned my way into an archaeological dig and I got free room and board

and I saw Led Zeppelin twice and I saw the Rolling Stones at the Hyde Park with 400,000 people right after Brian Jones died in the swimming pool accident And it was Mick Taylor’s first gig Very exciting The hells angels did security and of course the hells angels in England were a very tame compared to the hells angels in California Because later that summer

Altimont had happened where the stones hired the hells angels in California and you know someone was killed you know terrible tragedy So but I was in the right place at the right time and I just worked it up from there and I believe it or not I went out to catch music 250 nights a year for 30 years



You never let up I mean I would go to a fair amount of shows but

I don’t ever believe I went to a show around the Boston area where I didn’t see you at the show



 My ex wife would probably agree with you

Yeah It’s a tough  field in terms of a family life and so forth You know because you’re just you’re out at night I mean a lot and I wouldn’t go to bed till 4 30 in the morning usually

But you know Willie Nelson said the night life night life ain’t no good life But it’s my life and that resonated with me

And you know I’d show up you know it’s a later marriage We had a son

and I’d show up at the school bus station and whatnot wearing a Metallica T shirt and I’ll be the only man there All the we were women and they looked at me like I was from hell



So when did you know you had this attraction with music At what point in your life



Well I I you know played classical piano as a kid My mother tried to get me into that unsuccessfully and I just you know gravitated towards rock n roll instead saw The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show and again right place right time

and I couldn’t play well enough to be a professional but I found a way to get into the music business as a music critic And


you know I just never looked back I mean it was something that you know you don’t meet a music critic every day for a big daily newspaper So you know I was very fortunate

And then I get on the nominating committee of the Rock Hall of Fame

and you got the ball rolling on a ACDC you got them nominated And now I teach uh Berkeley College of Music I teach the

online rock history course which I wrote

they came to me and said hey you know we’ve had two guys who flopped write it You know it’s not an easy course to write It took me a year and a half to write it But I ducked down and it’s been a big success and I can do it out of my home I just I do a video chat once a week online and I got some great kids I’ve got Amelia Presley this semester She’s

she’s you know distant cousin of Elvis Presley

So you know Bernie Taupin’s daughter took the course last semester So yeah it’s been very exciting I’ve had a continual kind of curve you know since I was a kid



 it’s like a joy to be for your work in and around music your life



 Well it is I mean it’s uh you know I covered live aid I covered major events I covered the you know the last two Woodstock Woodstock two Woodstock 3 1994 and 1999 respectively And I just you know you’re sitting there like a live aid and the Led Zeppelin reunion is going on and I’m 30 ft away down in Philadelphia with 100,000 people around me

And that excited me The bigger the show the more excited I got And you had a press room home with about 75 writers from around the world And that really fueled my competitive instinct I was always very competitive as a basketball player as a kid And I just loved competing on deadline against

other writers from around the world



Well as you know on this podcast Joel Selvin the San Francisco Chronicle critic of record and author was on So you guys were friendly but also rivals as well And it was a spirit right



We hung out I remember once after U 2 opened its Pop Mart Tour

was that 1991 I think and I was in Vegas

and Joel and I hung out later that night

and he’s just a fun guy I wouldn’t say you know competitive just good of mutual respect You know he he’s a veteran I’m a veteran So you know you you don’t meet the every day people who just kind of do your job as I say it’s an unusual job and now there’s fewer music critics because every everybody is a blogger now right You know everybody is podcaster

Well some are better than the others and you’re one of them bud So you know that’s why people want to talk to you because you’ve got experience in the field and you know you’re not just kind of popping out of the woodwork So it’s but yeah you’re right I mean the globe now doesn’t even have a staff music critic They just do freelance use Freelance



 Isn’t that a shame It is I mean look at all the media



 right where it’s changed you know the way the radio business has changed the way television has changed the way print journalism it’s shifting quickly Yeah Well I did my radio stint I did that once a week I had a show more on music for WBOS.

probably had a steak and cheese sandwich with me to perk me up Uh that is that is the magic elixir for sure You know we have Greg Allman would call in you know we had some a lot of fun I called in my chips you know some of the people I known through the years and

and I enjoyed radio but my forte was writing



 and that’s what I did you know I think the best



 and the globe

you know top 10 papers So it just immediate respect and a lot of the acts would only do one interview in each market and that would be the globe you know you do the biggest paper So I was really writing a high my whole life my professional life has been on a real high and personal life while that’s a whole other story a whole other podcast



 But professional life I just can’t complain at all So let’s talk about some of those interviews and some of your favorite interviews that you’ve done through your career because I know you’ve talked to pretty much everybody at one point.




Well one of my favorites was Bob Marley

went down to the Essex Hotel in New York right by the Central park and they were on about the 14th floor It was 11 o’clock in the morning interview and I took the shuttle I might have even been the Trump shuttle in those days Remember Trump had the shuttle from Boston to New York and I arrived zip over there at 11 couldn’t find the room

And there’s this lady you know out you know working in the hallway And I said gee do you do you know where Bob Marley’s room is And she said go down here take a right and follow your nose

I go oh what am I getting into So I walk in you know there’s two giant spliffs you know king size Jamaican spliffs you know the five inch jobs just 11 in the morning He’s got Lee Scratch Perry is in there the famous Jamaican producer his band is in there There’s a whole entourage They’re kicking the soccer ball around the room and you know nobody’s paying any attention to me

You know Babylon you know what what am I doing there And Bob’s in the corner reading the sitting on the couch reading the book of Revelations lying to Judah you know the home kind of basis for us to foreign and people you know who stop the soccer ball and say oh brother Bob brother Bob you know you know start talking in tongues and I’m not quite with the program because I’ve got to get an interview here

He was gonna do to play The Man concert which is a famous peace concert at Harvard Stadium You know the next week or so it’s a big interview for him and for me and I just finally erupted I said Bob the Boston Globe I appreciate the Bible reading but I I really need to get something on your music and the rest of the room wanted to kill me The guys get him out of here And Bob looked at me in the eye and he said you’re right man

And he calmed down everybody and Henry come over and sit on the couch gave me a great interview for about 20 minutes or half an hour and then I was shepherded out and the soccer balls continued you know banging off the windows and everything and the two joints continued as well

And I was gone



 Great interview Huh Amazing It must have been



Yeah Well you just never knew what was gonna happen Sometimes I love the scene you know

 another favorite was Dolly Parton Boy What a sweetie She’s like a little tiny button you know she’s like 4 ft 10 and I’m 6 ft five So she got a big kick out of that But you know I was just lucky I mean I was interviewed Springsteen a bunch The Stones a whole bunch Keith Richards was probably my favorite you know he was so down to earth and you know he’d rather talk about

guitar strings or something like that rather than Mick gets into went to the London School of Economics and Mick knows everything in the world You know he’d be the first to tell you

Yeah he he was something else and I talked to him you know in succession it was Mick first and then Keith separate rooms at Rolling Stone Records when they had they had their subsidiary label and Mick you know likes a joint

and does not share or make any attempt to And he’s flying after about 5 10 minutes And I said Mick I’m here I had two tape recorders because I was afraid one might break down the redundancy factor redundancy He’s laughing his ass off Look at you the too much And I go sorry if I blow this I’m in trouble

And you know I said look I’m not going to ask you about your sex life He’d been linked to some supermodel from Thailand that week you know how it was And he said well that would be refreshing And five minutes later he’s talking about his sex life

and I didn’t bring it up but I figured all I’ll indulge in a minute just kind of get through this And I said well Mick what would you do you have any mood music you put on You know did you play the stones music at all You’ve got a lady and

you know in your room and he says oh no I never play any stones music I don’t play any music at all I just coo in their ear



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 and that pretty much I was cooing out the door at that point



Did you get Springsteen early on?



 No I think it was

well let’s see It was it was back in the river So that yeah I guess that was late seventies That’s right I was down in uh Providence Rhode Island and uh Bruce kept me waiting He’s a night owl and I didn’t get in the room until about two in the morning and I still had to drive back to Boston an hour away But we started talking about Hank Williams because he was getting into Hank And you know there was imagery from down by the river and

you know all that and you know he he said I’m I’m driving my band up a wall because all I want to do is play Hank Williams on the bus

But he was just a wonderful guy And another time I interviewed him down in Hartford Connecticut and you know again a late interview but this time it was because he was greeting the make a wish kids There were about 10 12 make a wish kids in wheelchairs and what not coming up to him backstage in the corridor there and he paid attention He talked to each one of them for five or 10 minutes

It was in some meet and greet where he just shake hands and run And I had utmost respect for him to do that to see the kids were crying And oh my God Bruce Springsteen is really caring about me asking questions about me and you know it was just a lovely moment Um So yeah I have a lot of respect for Bruce



 any Beatles?



 McCartney a couple of times He’s he’s a struggle He’s  kind of a quip

you know he likes to joke around with the media I don’t have any breakthrough moments and Ringo is kind of ridiculous Ringo would do

phone interviews for five minutes max And I remember in my watch I did four minutes and 45 seconds I was still trying to cram in a question and ring Ok Last question



You know come on cut me some slack here but he didn’t have much respect for the media at that point So yeah I sometimes had to follow in the footsteps of real asshole you know interviewers and Emmy Lou

Harris was one example quick story about her at Tanglewood I interviewed her at Tanglewood and she had had somebody I think from the Washington Post Come on her bus and then turned the savager in a in a magazine piece So she was really down on the media and I really had to prove myself And Phil Kauffman her manager who’d also been you know Graham Parsons manager and

he’s the one who burned Gram Parson’s body in the desert

You know California rock and roll story He comes up and turns around right into my face and moons me

takes his pants down and moons me and he goes ok interview over Oh my God So then he looks laughing at the what’s going on So my God Yeah I guess I’ve had a few event eventful ones




So Boston during that era that you describe early on in particular had some amazing venues that have disappeared Talk about maybe a few of those venues and maybe some shows that you remember at some of those places



Well let’s see

Boston Tea Party is just one of the legends You know just saw a lot of acts there It was at a Tabernacle down in the south end


and you know I I was sorry to see that place go It was a ballroom  the early rock and roll rooms tended to be ballrooms And then

later on there was a place called the Crosstown Bus which hardly anyone remembers it was in Brighton and it was only open for two weeks because they didn’t have an entertainment license But for the first week they had the doors the Jim Morrison and the doors and they put up go go cages for women to dance in They tried to recreate a sunset strip L A mystique in Brighton which is kind of those days a working class you know city

And you know Morrison was chugging every bottle that was handed to him And those days they didn’t frisk you at the door very well And so his bottles coming up and he’s drinking everything at the end of the night he was just completely hammered you know rolling around on stage and his lizard king motions and everything His nickname was Lizard King And afterwards coming out of the men’s room

and Jim is weaving his way towards the men’s room They didn’t have a backstage men’s room It was just a small little place and I just held up my hand and you know I’m real tall and he took it as a guide and he said oh thank you

And he came he steered his way into the men’s room and we high fived each other Oh wow And I said oh my God this is I’ve got to do this as a career somehow What a moment Yeah But two weeks the place existed two weeks and the second week was the Jay Geils band

and I talked to Peter Wolf later and he said yeah we had to bring our amplifiers down the back fire escape to get away as the police were closing it down So those are kind of wild and crazy days back then But then of course the old Boston garden the old Boston Garden where Billy Joel had a great comment about that He said Steve hockey sounds bad at the garden

You’re talking about the acoustics even hockey sounds bad And remember that place It was a terrible but you saw a few shows there many shows there Um Billy Jove he tour every year whether he had a new album or not And you know most people only toured with an album in those days the labels didn’t want them over

you know overplay unless they had product to sell But Billy said hell with that I’m going out and every show in those days he would end it by saying don’t let the bastards get you down and he still does that once in a while I don’t know how often But in those days it was automatic He would say that because he had trouble his own His own wife was his manager at one time and they broke up and he ended up in court with her

You know he had bad counsel So he was very cynical about the music business

Do you remember the famous James Brown show at the Garden I was not at that show



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 Um I remember talking to Peter Wolf extensively about it He and muddy waters couldn’t get in He was hanging out with muddy waters and the police wouldn’t let him in



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 you know because they were so worried about it the night after Martin Luther King died and there was going to be an eruption And there’s a good book about that the night that James Brown saved Boston because they broadcast that It was on NPR It was on the NPR channel which never used to broadcast live concerts but they did it as a community service to keep people at home So Boston didn’t have any significant you know rioting or burning and looting



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 like some of the other place other cities did So And James Sullivan is a writer you know to this day he’s around here now he wrote the book the night James Brown saved saved Boston And yeah I I would talk to James like on the phone later the years and the mayor at the time of that show was Mayor Kevin White and James would hop on How’s Mayor White doing Well he hasn’t been mayor for 10 years



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 How’s he doing Tell him James says hello



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 because they really bonded you know White came out and did the MC role and you know he took an active proactive you know night but it was tremendous I mean I was not there but I feel like I was because I’ve heard so much about it



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 How about Dylan moments either concert wise or ever have a shot to interview him



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 Dylan moments Most of it what I remember is people running the opposite direction because you know his shows would kind of devolve into these you know he’d do his songs and he’d do them so differently that people didn’t know what they were I remember you know he would



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 change the arrangements and I got the one show and people were literally almost trampling me to get out It was the Boston Garden almost trampling me to get out because they were so fed up with He wasn’t doing the songs the way they wanted to hear them



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 But that’s Dylan you know and I went up to Woodstock he lived near Woodstock when the whole festival took place in 69 And this was about 10 years ago and they have amphitheater now next to the grounds of the original Woodstock and he was playing and he said oh here’s a chance for him to say something about Woodstock I mean he regrets that he didn’t play the festival He didn’t say a thing



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 Dylan is famous for saying nothing like the Grateful Dead rarely talks and Dylan rarely says anything And I was pissed I drove all the way up to Woodstock thinking this could be a cultural moment here You know saying I’m sorry I missed Woodstock But no nothing just the same show of reinterpreting his hits So you didn’t know what the hell they were



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 I mean I have a lot of respect for him Don’t get me wrong He’s a songwriter But as a performer he can be just so quirky up and down up and down Yeah just like uh this guy Van Morrison too Oh jeez



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 Yeah Van used to live around Cambridge and wrote part of Astral Weeks here in 1968 And I interviewed him later on and I said you know I asked him about Cambridge He said why are you asking me that And I said well I thought I’d get a little local color here You know I’m not good in local color Next question



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 you know he can be so grumbling



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 you know and I I’m just you know by that point I’m going oh my Jesus you know was he hanging around with Pete Wolf at that period Yes he was he still does He still have stories of them careening through Harvard Square you know hitting the bars down there You know they’re they’re good friends those boys those good boys

My God I love it What a grateful dad I got a classic from 1969 They played the Boston tea party and Pig Pen was with him at the time you know a keyboard player and he fell off the stage during Love Light turn on your Love Light big climactic song and just so drunk he just fell off the stage

and the band continued to play They didn’t stop and you know say what happened you know they just I remember Jerry Garcia and Bob We are exchanging glances and oh he fell off stage again Let’s just keep vamping So they just vamped their way through the song

the road He’s dusted Pig Pen off and got him back up and he finished the song



Oh my God Have you seen Bob Weir’s workout that he does before Shows these days No Oh my goodness It’s this intense weight training He’s swiveling weights over his head and doing various you know just I don’t know stretching moves certainly But a lot of weight related stuff He looks like he’s in great shape



 Yeah Well I got a lot of respect for him He’s done me a lot of favors through the years

You know I interviewed Jerry four times I was lucky to do that But I interviewed Bob Moore you know Jerry you never knew what his condition was going to be but Bob would do the backup interviews and you know I have a lot of he did an interview for my course at Berkelee College of Music and talked all about the acid tests and the Ken Casey days

doing acid up in Ken Casey’s ranch and just fantastic stuff.



 I love that My God Well let’s talk about WBCN during that era too and what an integral part it was around the music scene of Boston



 Well BCN was the station I mean wasn’t it the free form rock station One of the leading lights of the whole new free form FM

movement where DJ S could play what they wanted You know before the consultants came in and sort of said here’s what you got to play now and it was just exciting You know you listen to the radio and you’d hear about G Led Zeppelin’s in town tonight and the bands used to do three nights Thursday through Saturday and the Thursday there would be like half a house You know people might not have heard too much about them




 And by Friday and Saturday there was a lot of word of mouth word of mouth was big and you know the smoke shops was coming in so people would talk about you know they were really good So by Saturday night there’d be lines at the door to get in But BCN was just they were just another part of that whole revolution taking place and they were quite political in those days too They were involved you know the Harvard protests you know Vietnam protests

you know they smuggled some papers out of Harvard Remember that whole thing you know Danny Schechter the news dissector they call him

 So you know they were exciting very exciting station and

you know you listen to them just every minute but you know they play like 20 minute songs and who does that You know today you don’t hear that anymore But yeah we had Charles on the podcast and Charles was talking about this one

event where when he was doing late nights when I guess Jerry Garcia Duane Allman they came up and hung out during the show and I think played as well I think somewhere portion of this exists that they did a documentary


it came out a couple of years ago and that that’s they get some footage of that I believe a little bit And BCN they had for a while the studio right behind the tea party right in the ballroom so that you know the guys could come off stage and go right back there So imagine how exciting that was in those days you know my God So what are you listening to these days Oh well coming Full circle Stones

I still listen to Aftermath is my favorite Stones record Paint it Black is on that the first album they wrote all the material for they didn’t do covers So I listen to a lot of the old stuff


And to be honest with you in old yard birds I mean Jeff Beck died not long ago So it got me back into listening to the yard birds and I saw them as well



 So I just sort of come full circle a little bit to the sixties and um as far as current rock acts I’m open to suggestions Who’s really good I’m not I like the Susan trucks and some of their roots rocks you know stuff But I’m looking for the next U 2 or the next Nirvana like everybody else is And if you have any suggestions let me know



I appreciate it I appreciate you being on taking a walk This has been an absolute joy.



 Yeah Good to see you Buzz It means a lot to have you talk to me. I thank you



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 Taking a walk with Buzz Knight is available on Spotify, Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts


About The Author

Buzz Knight

Buzz Knight is an established media executive with a long history of content creation and multi-platform distribution.

After a successful career as a Radio Executive, he formed Buzz Knight Media which focuses on strategic guidance and the development of new original content.