Cameron Carpenter: The ABC’s Of Rock – I

“I, I, I, I”
(Pretend you are listening to “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne.
“I, Shithead – A Life In Punk
Joey “Shithead” Keithley is a Canadian punk rock legend, social activist, poet, political animal, hockey player, Dad and all-around good guy. In this 2003 book Joey recalls his roots and the still ongoing history of DOA. Formed in the late seventies the band defined the west coast punk rock scene and are the source of the term “hardcore”. If it wasn’t for them constantly travelling to California in the late seventies, that whole scene would not have developed the way that it did.

Considering the fate of some of the band members of DOA and associates it is cool that Joey refuses to glamorize alcohol or drunks in this book and just tells the story of struggling musicians and their exploits at home and on the road. He has since published a great companion piece “Talk-Action=Zero – An Illustrated History Of DOA” and played a big part in the great Vancouver punk retrospective documentary “Bloodied But Unbowed” (you can now order the DVD for ten bucks on their website http://thepunkmovie.com/). Joey’s about as straightforward and passionate as they come. Still on the road, still protesting, still in the van.

Ian Hunter
I was planning on writing about Ian today and was pleased when I read story in Billboard this morning on how he plans to record his next record with his full touring band as he is growing a tad tired of recording as a singer-songwriter. You have to admire a man who still has rock’n’roll in his soul at the age of 72.
Ian first came in to my life with Mott The Hoople. Although they had their first big hit with ‘All The Young Dudes” it was the two albums “Mott” and “The Hoople” that remain closest to my heart. There were great songs before, and a scant few after, but these two encapsulated everything I loved about the band. Loud, British, humorous, dangerous and lyrical.
His book “Diary Of A Rock’n’Roll Star” was practically my bible growing up and Mott posters torn lovingly from the pages of Circus and Hit Parader adorned my bedroom walls. I was sad when Mott broke up but it didn’t take Hunter long to release his first self-titled solo album (featuring Spider From Mars guitarist Mick Ronson). He had me at “Hello” on the opening track “Once Bitten, Twice Shy’. Now why in God’s name did Great White have a hit with that song and not Ian? Hell it would take a Drew Carey hit TV show to introduce Hunter to middle America (“Cleveland Rocks”) and that song was covered by Presidents of the United States. In the next couple of years Hunter released stellar solo efforts with “All American Alien Boy’, “Overnight Angels” and, together with Ronson once again, ‘You’re Never Alone With A Schizophrenic”. In September of 1979 Hunter and Ronson came to The Ryerson Theatre in Toronto for two shows and our hometown heroes The Segarini Band were the openers. I was granted a short interview with Hunter after the first show and I was nervous as hell. Outside of Alice and Bowie there was no one bigger in my eyes and I was about to meet an idol. He look rushed as I fidgeted with my bulky Panasonic cassette recorded and pressed record in the old two finger fashion. “I noticed you played a lot of Mott The Hoople songs this evening Mr. Hunter” I stuttered out. “I played a lot of Ian Hunter songs tonight. Next question” he replied. I could feel the blood rushing out of my brain as I tried to re-focus but, seeing the combination of fear and excitement in my eyes, he sensed  I was true fan and he gently answered the next three or four questions.
Flash forward two hours and Segarini had arranged the back patio of Bemelemans to be reserved for both bands and their closest friends. Somehow I managed to end up sitting beside Hunter and across from Mick Ronson. This was Bowie meets Mott, it was “The Golden Age Of Rock’n’Roll”. The always sunglassed Hunter was in conversation with the lovely Susan Carpenter when the increasingly drunk Ronson started acting up and tried to recreate classic Monty Python bits to the amused masses. Hunter sternly looked over at Ronno and, ever slightly dipping one shade, gave him “the look”. That quieted Mick down and he resumed eating his escargot. Five minutes later there was a thud as Mick passed out, face first, on to his plate of snails. Once again Hunter dipped a shade and said “Good evening Mick, I shall see you in the morning at the hotel” and then carried on his table conversation. The man who played the riff on “Ziggy Stardust” removed his face from his plate, and with a quick swipe from his napkin sadly left the posh establishment with his tail between his legs. To quote Garwood Wallace from Twitch (who may or may not have been there that night) it was “a rock’n’roll moment“.
We lost Mick in 1993 to cancer. I was in Oslo at the time making a record with Andrew Matheson from The Hollywood Brats when we got the word that Ronson had passed. Most of the musicians on the album we were working on had worked with Ronson at some point and Casino Steele, Brady and Andrew and I all raised pints in his honour.
To this day Hunter keeps touring and recording and I can’t wait to hear what he has in store for us next year. You can check out his great website at http://www.ianhunter.com/.
I Slept With Joey Ramone – A Family Memoir – Mickey Leigh with Legs McNeil
Keeping with the punk rock legend books this one came out 2009 and the story is told by Joey’s brother Mickey Leigh with a little help from rock’n’roll journalist Legs McNeil. It is hard to believe it has been ten years since Joey passed. This books deals with the obstacles that Joey had to overcome to even make it to The Ramones (health issues, family issues, ADD), to stay with the band (Dee Dee and Johnny) and to cope with his final battle. Mickey and Legs chronicle the New York scene of the early seventies that led to the formation of the now legendary trail blazers. It’s a loving story told by someone who was beside Joey his entire life.

I’m Tired Of Waking Up Tired

Tonight at The Horseshoe The Diodes return to Toronto! This should be legendary as they will perform as a five piece with John Hamilton on keyboards and 1976 Diodes drummer Bent Rasmussen behind the kit. Ralph Alfonso will be manning the merch table with tons of cool stuff including (finally) the CD for “Action Reaction”.  Too bad Freddy and Margaret’s “New Rose” closed 30 years ago or I could have picked up some cool new threads.

On Friday I will once again be in Teddy Fury Land as I return to The Horseshoe to see our band Amos the Transparent play new material from their new EP “Goodnight My Dear….” along with The Darcys who are also celebrating a new release. Before that I will be at my fave local The Shanghai Cowgirl (and maybe even after as they are open until 4 AM Friday and Saturday nights) for a chicken fried steak.

Also, if you are in the Toronto area there is a great weekly event happening every Tuesday until December 13th at the Lulu Lounge called “Lonesome Heroes’. The good folks at Six Shooter Records have asked four solo or duet acts to share a stage, sing their songs and tell their stories. The first two were very successful with performance by the likes of Graydon James, The Pigott Brothers, Morgan Cameron Ross and Devin Cuddy amongst others. In the coming weeks you can catch Jadea Kelly, Emma-Lee, Julie Fader, David Baxter and Sam Cash amongst others. Details can be found at www.sixshooterrecords.com.

We now have an email where all of us here at Don’t Believe A Word I Say can be contacted dbawis@rogers.com. Please use it to ask questions, tell us what you would like to read about, links you would like to share, and, let’s hear what you have to say.

Cameron Carpenter has written for The New Music Magazine, Music Express, The Asylum, The Varsity, The Eye Opener,  The New Edition, Shades, Bomp!, Driven Magazine, FYI Music News, The Daily XY and Don’t Believe A Word I Say.

One Response to “Cameron Carpenter: The ABC’s Of Rock – I”

  1. Richard Flohil Says:

    Fascinating stuff, Bob, but it’s impossible to read so much reverse type… white type on a black background looks good, but you can’t read it. That’s why books, and magazines and newspapers have black type on a white background. Change it, mate, if you really want people to read it…

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