Segarini: Mad Men, Elton Rohn, and Your Mail

47. Bob 2015

Here’s a slightly edited rerun of one of the first columns I wrote here. This is from March of 2011. My regular column will run on Monday. Been a hell of a week…and PLEASE start commenting again in the “Reply” section down below. I would love to start printing your mail like we used to back in the day….

Like I mentioned last week, we signed up for the free month of Netflix and started trolling their content. Well, if you believe the haters out there, there wasn’t supposed to be anything here except episodes of TV shows nobody watched and movies like “Roller Disco Beach Party”, The President’s Neck is Missing”, and “Too Many Grandmas”. Nothing could be further from the truth. I got to sit through a perfect copy of “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai”, totally thrilled with the awesomeness of the Hong Kong Cavaliers, a very young Jeff Goldblum (who is still playing himself in every movie he makes) and some of the greatest scene chewing ever done by the delightful John Lithgow. Also…who wouldn’t love a character named Perfect Tommy? Then I discovered that Netflix has the first three seasons of Mad Men…


I love television, or to be more specific, content written for and shown on television. Not all of it, of course, (I still don’t understand the popularity ascribed to Will and Grace, or How I Met Your Mother, or The Office with their core of sweet/boring, or brain damaged/self absorbed leading character(s), asinine meatballs, and wack job caricatures), but rather the well thought out, slowly revealed, well rounded characters who occupy shows like Six Feet Under, The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, Sherlock, 24, and Prison Break. Between writing and doing research 8 to 18 hours a day for these columns, I always have to make decisions as to what I have time to watch, and when I can watch the shows I follow. Mad Men is one of those shows I had to regrettably put on the back burner. It has been moved to the front burner now, thanks to Netflix.

Like Boardwalk Empire, Mad Men captures the period in which it is set, perfectly. It takes me back to when I was 15 (1960) and brings with it the sights and sounds and smells of an era that seems almost mystical and highly exotic in today’s fear driven and overly self aware and Health Nazi’d climate. I see and hear my mom and dad and aunts and uncles in every frame of this masterpiece. The detail in every shot, every location, every word, is so involving that I could feel the suppleness of the leather banquettes in the upscale restaurant, smell the bay rhum and Old Spice on the men, the Chanel on the women, titillated in the knowledge that every woman on screen were wearing stockings and garters under their dresses, and salivating over the 50 cent martinis, highballs and the unprocessed food placed before these people at every turn. The show invokes a longing for big cars, cheap gas, 2 dollar slabs of prime rib or New York sirloin, clean air, $30,000 midtown apartments and houses, and the promise of a young Kennedy in the White House, and an ability to look forward toward the future with hope. Men in suits and fedoras, women in dresses and pearls. Like my mom and dad. Like how it was when everything was fresh in my eyes, family was paramount (on the surface at least), and I only knew what happened in my home, my neighborhood, and my immediate surroundings. My dreams were intact, and my outside information came from the radio, television, newspapers, and magazines without me having to search for it.

The thing is, this show also subtly addresses the glass ceiling and horrible treatment afforded women, racial disparity, the manipulation practiced by Madison Avenue and the media, and other important issues without resorting to posturing, finger pointing, or good old fashioned exploitation. You have to pay attention to see the whole picture, they don’t stick it in your face and pontificate…they just offer it up for you to get if you so choose. If every office still had its own bar and you could smoke anywhere, maybe there wouldn’t be so much stress in (and out) of the workplace these days. The best music is just like this show; evocative, honest, engaging, and entertaining to a fault. You can find current music like that (like I found Netflix) on the internet.  Actually, let’s just say Mad Men is quality entertainment and leave it at that. I started Season 2 last night.

Who the hell is Elton Rohn…

In a nutshell, ‘Elton Rohn’ is Ron Camilleri, an old friend I met when he was a youngster and he and his brother Rick were running around the offices of CBS Records raising hell when their Dad was running the place. They both went on to work for the same company and always kept their love of music in full flower. As Ron put it himself in a column from March of 2009; “I have over 15 years in Sales and Marketing for two major record labels Warner Music Canada and CBS/Sony Music Canada, specializing in demographic marketing and music niche with worldwide international marketing campaigns.
Was the Label head for
Columbia Records traveling the world and working with major international recording stars, managers and producers including in studio recording sessions, live venue dinners and business meetings.
I am also a composer of music with over 100 songs and more than 300 hours of original music on national prime time award winning television shows seen on three different national networks in
Canada”. And those are just some of the things the guy has done.

He was given the nickname ‘Elton Rohn’ by band-mate and multi-instrumentalist Lawrie Ingles, who plays alongside of Ron in Ronnie and the Jets, Camilleri’s jaw-dropping tribute to the music of Elton John. It is difficult to categorize what they do as a ‘tribute’. It’s more like a time machine that opens a window on this music when it was new, and fresh, and Elton was a man on a mission…to burn it down.

Ronnie and the Jets channel not only the music, but the passion, enthusiasm, and joy of this immense and noteworthy catalogue. Within minutes of their first song, you will forget you are watching a tribute. It is Elton John, at least everything that made him the huge star he became, the way I remember hearing and seeing these songs back in the 70’s. A revelation, remembering how great the music was/is, and a somewhat mystical experience if you let yourself get carried off by the energetic and respectful performances Ronnie and the Jets deliver every time they play. Mike Tilka, the bass player from Kim Mitchell’s original Max Webster, and a music industry heavyweight in his own right having worked with Ray Danniels for years with the likes of Rush, Max Webster, and others, took it upon himself to join the Jets as their bass player. He too, grins and laughs his way through the material, helping it transcend the ‘tribute’ label and elevate it somewhere closer to ‘You-Are-There. The whole band is ridiculously talented, and the music…well, the source material is outstanding.

And now the Mail…

Dave Lee: All this talk about talent and the record industry. How about Walter Yetnikoff. He had an “ear” for finding and signing talent. Wiki has a few pieces on him. In my opinion when he left CBS that was the start of the great decline.

SEG SAYS: Yetnikoff is an industry legend for both good, and bad, reasons. See the post below.

Frank Gutch: Why does everyone have to find a moment the music industry went sour? Truth is, like any industry, it’s had its positives and negatives from the beginning. We spend altogether too much time lamenting the past and glorifying a past we think we know but don’t. The music industry didn’t stop and start again. It changed! It has always BEEN changing. Maybe many of us don’t like the changes, but maybe if the industry had been handled by the media in the 50s and 60s and 70s the way it is now, it wouldn’t be the myth that it is. Complain if you will. For myself, I am way too far behind in my search for good music. I have mountains of CDs to dig through (That’s right! CDs! That supposedly “dead” format?) with not a major label or superstar in the bunch. I dig it! It’s an adventure and an adventure with no end in sight!

SEG SAYS: Well put, Frank, and your reasoning has a lot of merit. The problem today isn’t with change. The problem today is the refusal and unwillingness to change on the part of so many people in charge. Where vinyl, then 45’s, then long playing LPs, then 8 track tape, then cassettes, then CDs were embraced immediately on discovery, the current delivery and distribution system has been ignored, fought, and criminalized for over a decade. Radio is no longer the source of music discovery, which is why guys like you and I have to search for new music instead of just turn on the radio,  and artists no longer have to pay dues, rehearse, put in the time, or otherwise hone their craft to see the inside of a studio ot put out a record. It is for these reasons that people get upset. They aren’t living in the past or wishing things would go back to the way they were. People still buy CDs but in nowhere near the number they used to. I too, have stacks of CDs people send or give to me, even though I prefer mp3s or .wav files. It is an interesting and exciting time to be in the music business…just like always.

Ray Cave: Hey Dave Lee, Label execs like Walter Yetnikoff were the masters of payola and the cut-out business, who “shipped gold, returned platinum”. Try reading “Stiffed” by William Knoedelseder.

Jack Ellis: Hey Bob ! Another great column. @Vukovich, her name is Dusty Street. Cool chick, now doing afternoons at SIRIUS (oldies show). She also did a show called “LIGHTS OUT” on KSAN and KMPX with VOCO (Abe Kesh). SEG knows him.

SEG SAYS: Indeed I do. Abe worked for Tom Donahue and Autumn Records, discovered a lot of great Bay Are Bands (including the band Jack and I were in, “The Us”), and was my favourite resident Beatnik at Autumn. He had the handwritten lyrics to Dylan’s Subterranean Blues and Like a Rolling Stone taped to the wall next to his desk. Always had fine reefer too, if I remember correctly.

Gordon Eckstein:Yes, he played the role of the turkey in the cabin.

SEG SAYS: Gordo is referring to the picture of Bieber and Kim Darby from this column. The kid is a lot of things, but he ain’t no turkey. I believe he got a haircut based on this comparison ….

Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll Part Eight…

John Picard: About a month after Bruce was filmed at the Hammersmith Odeon, he brought the E-Street Band here to the Field House at Seneca College. December 21, 1975. A bitterly cold night, and a long wait outside for the general admission seating. That show is in my own personal Top 3, it was incredible. Buy the Hammersmith DVD, its almost the same show. I’ve seen Bruce a few times since then but he was never as good as that night. And that version of the E-Street Band was the best, not bloated with players like now. Roy Bittan and Danny Federici were outstanding, and Garry Tallent is maybe the most under-rated bass player ever. Steve and Bruce traded licks and Max held it all together. They were touring ‘Born to Run’ with lots of material from his earlier LPs including my fave Bruce song: ‘Sandy’. I have a bootleg CD of the show, in the bootleg community its called ‘Bring on the Hype’.

SEG SAYS: No one is ever as good as the first time you see them. I remember his early shows before the hype and then seeing him the first time he played the Maple Leaf Gardens. I remember thinking, “Well, he doesn’t need me any more”, and heading for the Hot Stove Lounge to drink with the Illuminati.

Mark John Vukovich: Saw that first hand…did that…done that…was a bartender with your old neighbor Jimmy Toher during the late seventies…we were surrounded by cola…it was indeed everywhere. Lake Tahoe being a resort area was all about people having a great time and we had a new crew every weekend. I was right in the middle ofit Bob and you hit the nail right on hits head…it took a 2 ounce bust for me to see where I was….i had to change and do so quickly or there’d be nada left to mull over. I quit…”cold turkey”…moved to Fresno and started to rebuild the life. Having said that some of us old timers to this day still keep the spirit alive….only we aren’t “Eight Miles High” as we used to be. Thank God for families, friends and the blues…. J Johnston and the Band with Frankie “C” Saturday night at Stockton Joe’s. I will be having “calamari Dore” a little Merlot and I will think about how fun it would be if you walked through the door with Jade in tow. If that was to be true I’d even bring my Dachshund Beaux; who Jade is fond of. Peace Out, Vuke in Lodi

SEG SAYS: My dad used to catch Jimmy lifting candy bars from the rack at the old market on El Dorado Street. Eventually, I think he gave him a job there. Jimmy was a tough kid, even when he was 9 or 10. As far as your wake-up call…be thankful you had one. Stockton Joe’s, mmmm…Prime Rib with ravioli on the side and the best gin martini and bloody marys in Tuleburg. Damn I miss Stockton and the food there….

Roxanne Tellier: Surprisingly reticent on the Sex part – nothing to say about      the gay/bi era?😉

SEG SAYS: You mean the androgynous “let’s all be bi” phase rumoured about even Jagger, Clapton, Bowie, et al? Read the next Part of the story next week…

Greg Simpson: Crippled Gary?

SEG SAYS: I heard he turned Mick down but did get a “nice blow job from that little David Bowie”.

Mike Bessette: Styx? Man, I hated them! Along with Kansas and Journey. Thank God for The Clash and The Ramones!

Greg Simpson: Though I prefer many groups over others, and early Journey much more than later Journey, I don’t get any music lover “hating” any music.

Trish Todd: I concur Greg…loved Styx and Kansas and early Journey…WTF Mike?

Mike Bessette: I don’t mean to offend people’s taste in music. I just didn’t like bands like Styx, Boston and Kansas. I found them boring. I was quite happy when punk / new wave happened. I found the music much more vibrant and exciting.

Greg Simpson: Hey Mike…it’s not the bands you choose to dislike that’s the problem with me…the only thing I hate when it comes to music is the word hate when applied to anyone who worked the way up from, say, the plains of Kansas to worldwide success…See More

Mike Bessette: I like Yes. They are amazing players and their music was very innovative.

Alexander Mair: The only music I would use the word “hate” with is out of tune, badly played nonmusic. I turn it off, or walk out, and forget about it.

SEG SAYS: I love it when you guys talk amongst yourselves. I’m with Al on this one. If I don’t like something I walk away from it, change the channel, or tell Simpson to turn it up loud enough for me to hear what the hell he’s talking about.

Last Week’s Roundup: Broke? Bored?…

Frank Gutch Jr: Don’t know why you mentioned “finish a book”. You say you’re bored, but you haven’t finished “Murder In E Minor”, have you? Have you even written anything since the last installment?

SEG SAYS: I’ve never been bored in my life, Frank…but I know a lot of people who get bored because of depression. I meant finish READING a book, Frank. As far as Murder in E Minor goes, I have not had the time to continue the project, and nowhere to put the following chapters up. I have to invest my time in what brings in the rent and egg money these days. I will get back to it at some point.

Mark John Vukovich: HOME RUN again Bobby…ya hit all the bases with this one. If I didn’t have my Beaux-CHI (dachsund) I’d be a freakin’ basket case. I have started my book and at the same time came across my mothers’s notes of her life…publishing them as I decieper her tiny longhand writing…elegant but tiny. She passed at 91 last weekend and I know she no longer suffers and we believe that she is with her loved ones…! I’m cool after a coupla days of grief and will renew my efforts at writing. Something you, my friend; kindled within me. A buddy of mine mentioned to me last week (on facebook)…that looking back one thing for sure “We were NEVER bored..” True that and when I am writing or reading my mother’s words I ain’t bored no mo…! One day at a time and if you don’t show up here in the Delta …Do not be alarmed if I show up in Toronto come spring. Vuke, Cleaning House in Lodi

SEG SAYS: I am hoping to finally get out for a visit this year and visit you and everyone else, stuff my face with crab and Angelina’s fare, and all the rest, and spend a day or two in Yosemite, etc. If I have to put it off again, you are more than welcome to crash on the couch here with the kitties. Really glad to hear you’re writing.

Jaimie Vernon: I owe you a visit, Bib. Life has been unkind in the last 6 months, but my goal for 2011 is to reconnect with the people I truly love to be around. You and Jade have always had a ‘welcome home’ policy and I miss the days of the Crawford Street Regulars. It’s time to create a new chapter. I’ll give you a ring soon! Hugs and scratches to the kittehs.

SEG SAYS: Looking forward to the reconnection, Mr. President. You know my number….

Darlene Stimson: EXCELLENT article!

SEG SAYS: Excellent comment, Darlene!

Richard Noggin: NO ONE on Facebook should have ANY money worries AT ALL. An Internet computer is the BIGGEST MONEY MAKING MACHINE EVER HANDED TO MAN!!! The ONLY problem is that almost NONE of you know how to use it that way. Join The Fire Your Boss Club and we will teach you. Classes are starting VERY soon, probably within a week. All you need is a headset for your existing computer.

SEG SAYS< Geez, Richard…this looks and reads like spam. Say it ain’t so.

Viva Viletone: Hi Bob:) I figure of we’re having a hard time, imagine how bad it must be for really poor people…we still have it alright, thank our lucky stars…it could be way worse:)

SEG SAYS: Oh, I think about them all the time. I’m picking out a refrigerator carton just in case I have to move in next to them.

Jodeye Knight: Nicely said Bob. Rock on. Love Jode.

SEG SAYS: Thanks, Jode…much appreciated.

Katherine Elizabeth Stewart: Great article Bob! I might check out Cherry Cola when the weather gets a bit warmer.

SEG SAYS: Check it out anytime. It really is a great place.

Kandiss Bradley: Awesome article. Thanks for writing it! I am in hibernation mode….. I hate cold. Sorry I haven’t seen you guy since Jade’s birthday – I do miss you both though.

SEG SAYS: I’ll never understand hibernation. You miss so much and accomplish nothing. Like they say, different strokes….

Amy Mech: Nice one, Dad!

SEG SAYS: Thanks, Ames. Squeezle the Mini-Mechs for me and tell ‘em Grandpa loves them as much as he loves their mommy.

Ray Tracy: ‎”Send $5 to R. Segarini, Box 666 Toronto Ontario today…or Patches becomes an entree!”

SEG SAYS: I would never do that to Patches, you got my address wrong, and you’re just an awful, mean, person. I’ll take your 5 bucks, though….

Suzieq Inarizona: Good one, Mr. Bob! I wish I didn’t understand where you were coming from.😦

SEG SAYS: It is good to remember that no matter how difficult things get, you are not alone. This is a biiig boat so many of us are sinking in.

Dan Joseph: I can’t believe that you haven’t been picked up to do these for a few bucks. My station’s far too old in terms of demo, but this is good stuff! You’ve become a true armchair philosopher. And, that’s meant as a compliment. Great stuff!

SEG SAYS: Taken as a compliment…and I can’t believe it either. Thanks, Dan.

Maureen Hooey:Awesome article…great suggestions. I think there are so many people in that boat with you Bob. Have a grrrreat weekend.

SEG SAYS: Yep…one big mofo boat.

Frank Nevada:Thanx man, I’ve bin so bummed-oot.

SEG SAYS: Cheer up, Frank. It can always get worse.

Roxanne Tellier: I can relate, Bob. Now add a broken ankle to that mix. Nothin’ says ‘Spring Fun’ like wearing a huge gray air cast.

SEG SAYS: Ouch. Had one of those myself. No ‘walk in the park’…hahahaha.

Peter Kashur: Something to go with potatoes for the urban(e) hunter from Joy of Cooking:

“Gray squirrels are the preferred ones; red squirrels are small and quite gamey in flavor. There are, proverbially , many ways to skin a squirrel but some hunters claim the following one is the quickest and cleanest. It needs a sharp knife.
To skin, cut the tail bone through from beneath, but take care not to cut through the skin of the tail. Hold the tail …and then cut the skin the width of the back…Turn the squirrel over on its back and step on the base of the tail. Hold the hind legs in one hand and pull steadily and slowly, until the skin has worked itself over the front legs and head. While holding the squirrel in the same position, pull the remaining skin from the hind legs. Proceed as for rabbit…cutting off the head and feet etc.
Stuff and roast squirrels as for pigeons”….go get ’em Elmer!

Btw, pigeons + wood and chicken wire = Squab

SEG SAYS: LOVE squab. My dad used to shoot ‘em, I’d pluck ‘em, and my mom would cook ‘em up. Mighty fine eatin’, and I ain’t kiddin’!

Suzieq Inarizona @Peter: There’s a similar recipe in my “Road Kill Cookbook”. *LOL*

Gordon Eckstein: lets start a blues band…no really.

SEG SAYS: And gig and gig and gig until we spend all our money?

Michaele Jordana Berman: You are the King!

SEG SAYS: Then where’s my Royal Crown?

Beverley Barnett Graham: Being kind of rich is better than being kind of poor…

SEG SAYS: True ‘dat.

Michaele Jordana Berman: Van Gogh….Mozart…sigh…so G R E A T

Gary Wilder: YOUR DAD was A POET and didn’t know IT !!! MUCH LOVE. GW

Garry Woodcock: Timely, and one of your BEST.

Michael McKenzie:Wisdom…“If you can’t have fun without money, you can’t have fun with it, either.”…thinking that might be the most intelligent thing I’ve seen on Fb to date…though you might need a few miles on yuh to see the Truth in it…Thanx!

SEG SAYS: Thanks, guys. My dad was a fine piece of work. I wish he was still around.


Any Questions or comments, please write them in the Comment Section below.

Your Comments Are Welcome

Segarini’s regular columns appear here despite climate change and Adele’s whining.

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dbawis-button7Bob “The Iceman” Segarini was in the bands The Family Tree, Roxy, The Wackers, The Dudes, and The Segarini Band and nominated for a Tilda January 2015Juno for production in 1978. He also hosted “Late Great Movies” on CITY TV, was a producer of Much Music, and an on-air personality on CHUM FM, Q107, SIRIUS Sat/Rad’s Iceberg 95, (now 85), and now publishes, edits, and writes for DBAWIS, continues to write music, make music, and record.

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