Tag Archives: Bob Lefsetz

Stairway To Heaven

Stairway To Heaven

by guest Blogger Bob Lefsetz

So this is what it takes to get Led Zeppelin back together.

Bob LefsetzI was getting worried, I figured this would be a slam dunk, that the jury would come back in an hour or two and let Robert and Jimmy off the hook. The fact that they didn’t showed they were thinking about it.

That’s what it’s come down to, eight nobodies weighing in on the provenance of rock and roll.

But where there’s a hit, there’s a writ. And let’s be honest, Zeppelin has nicked songs before. But seemingly the only person who wanted Spirit to win this case was Randy California’s attorney, the public believed it a bridge too far, don’t mess with the canon, our history, what we live for.

Did Robert and Jimmy tell the truth?

Damned if I know, but I do know someone who lied on the stand in a well-known music industry case. And if you believe selective omission is the same as a lie, well…

Then again, musicians were never known for their honesty, otherwise why would they keep firing managers and exhibiting duplicitous behavior that might deliver short term results, but long term penalties.

Are the tracks similar?


Is it infringement?

Well, you’ve got an arcane copyright law that doesn’t square with reality. KInd of like the DMCA and YouTube. Washington and the legal system are always a step behind, and if you look to them to solve your problems you’re gonna waste a lot of time and money and probably end up with a less than satisfactory result. Meaning, the end of the YouTube “value gap” will come from negotiation, not legislation.

And music, despite being made on computers, is not zeros and ones. It cannot be stuck in a framework, evaluated by a machine. It’s amorphous and alive and that’s its appeal.

So chalk one up for the creative community, which believed after the “Blurred Lines” case that everything was up for grabs.

But it had gone too far. That Sam Smith song is not “I Won’t Back Down,” unless you believe that Petty tune is also one of many.

Everybody’s too afraid.

Then again, these same rightsholders killed sampling, changing the trajectory of hip-hop, and have also played whac-a-mole with reuse.

But we don’t live in a vacuum. Nothing’s truly original. We’re a sum of our influences.

But where’s the line?

Who knows.

But it’s been pushed back.

Yet the real revelation at the trial was how little money “Stairway” actually made. The performers’ accountant said Page earned $615,000 and Plant $532,000 since 2011, Rhino said the song grossed $3 million and netted $868,000 in the same period.


That’s not tech money. Maybe not chump change, but nowhere near the $60 million the plaintiff’s expert alleged.

You see there’s just not that much money in music. Much less than we believe. We think if you’re famous, you’re rich, but this is patently untrue. Of course, the Zeppelin boys had other income from their catalog, they did well, but not as well as they did in the seventies, before financiers raped and pillaged and techies became the new rock stars.

This trial brought rock back to earth. Pulled off the scrim and illustrated that not only are its players old, they care about money. Remember when Zeppelin flew back to England after their Madison Square Garden payment was stolen? They showed up here.

Then again, it’s rumored they stole that money themselves.

Then again, it’s about dignity and reputation.


Feel free to steal again. Know that every juror does not see the famous as a deep pocket. Know that the line is truly blurry.

And if you want to get rich…


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Coldplay At The Super Bowl by Bob Lefsetz

Bob LefsetzAnd the winner of the night?

HONDA! For offering free Uber rides home, at least in SoCal, where I was watching.

You make the most of an opportunity. The advertisements were so busy being clever that they missed their target. You want to make us believe in your product and want to use and buy it. But in an era where fame is everything and substance goes out the window it’s no surprise that Madison Avenue demonstrated cluelessness.

But the truth is our nation is in a mass upheaval. That’s the essence of both Trump and Sanders. We want the truth, authenticity and credibility, we want to be respected, and when you see only dollar signs we shrug and move on.

Sometimes you have to say no. All exposure isn’t good exposure. What was the chance casual Coldplay fans would be infected by the band’s performance and purchase tickets to their show? Close to nil.

Now the band has a stink upon it, relegated to second tier status in their own supposedly shining moment, they appeared to be smiling nitwits in a sea of humanity that resembled nothing so much as Up With People, the lame, safe, halftime show the NFL used to employ, when musicians abhorred the rules and regulations of sports, when they were all about rejecting cultural norms as opposed to embracing them for profit.

It’s a violent sport. What’s up with all the wimpy music?

Lady Gaga stretched out the national anthem to the degree there was barely time for football. She’s gotten a publicity pass she does not deserve, her last album was a stiff and her trek with Tony Bennett a sideshow. It’s a hits business, and she hasn’t had one in eons and probably will never have one again, why is she considered a national treasure?

Because the NFL and CBS don’t have their ear to the street. They don’t know there’s a generation gap. They just believe everyone will buy the crap they serve them. As if nobody under thirty wants to cut the cord, as if football deserves a spot in America’s heart along with apple pie and religion. Did you see the MVPs walk out at the beginning of the game? Terry Bradshaw could barely amble out. How could Goodell let this happen? How come everybody in the 1% has lost touch and perspective, not knowing their success depends on the little guy, who is arching his eyebrows and judging what they’re seeing?

Chris Martin looked like a dork. And although the video stage was cool, he and his band’s music never lit up the joint. And the diversions looked like something from the June Taylor Dancers, but Jackie Gleason would want nothing to do with them. You could barely hear the vocals and you had the nincompoop teens running out to swarm the stage, even though they were barely conscious the last time the band had a hit. It was a celebration the audience was left out of. You could do nothing but sit there and wonder why anybody cared.

Until Bruno Mars took the stage.

Bruno knew it was not about music so much as show, and he delivered. Slinking around on stage with his backup singers you were energized and enticed. It may have been meaningless, but at least it was satisfying. Music is like porn, you know it when you see it. And Mars was the only person on stage who seemed to come from the music business.

Beyonce came from the gym. She was working so hard that when she aligned with Chris and Bruno in the finale she was nearly exhausted. She too missed the message, 2016 isn’t about reveling in your excellence, adoring you from afar, but embracing you when you get down in the pit with us, your audience. I’m not in that good a shape and most Americans aren’t either. Watching Bey was like watching an Olympian, you could respect her, but you just could nor warm up to her.

Never mind the chutzpah of doing her new song. I give her credit for that actually, most of the audience was unfamiliar with most of Coldplay’s material so what difference will it make? Did it help her sell tickets?

Not much.

Not for Coldplay either.

You see we’re inundated with marketing messages. And we choose what to pull in, what to embrace. We have no problem watching entertainment and then discarding it nearly instantly. I mean who at home is sitting there saying…I didn’t know Beyonce was going on the road, let me fire up my credit card and drop $100+ a ticket. No, the decision to go is much more considered these days. Sure, it’s hard to get the message out, but it’s not hard to say no if you’re a customer.

So why is it so hard for a manager to say no?

Come on, you see witless actors whoring themselves out, everybody from Anthony Hopkins to Christopher Walken to Helen Mirren. But they’re chameleons, filling roles. We don’t believe in their personalities, we don’t even really know who they are!

But musicians touch our souls. They’re consistent. They stand for something.

But the only thing Chris Martin and company stood for is promotion. And we know hype when we see it.

It was a strange game, dominated by defense. It may have been Peyton’s last, but one wonders if Brock Osweiler could have done just as well. Still, it was riveting to see Cam Newton, the biggest star on the gridiron according to the industrial hype machine, be completely hamstrung. Not so much by any individual, but a team, the Denver defense.

After losing the Super Bowl two years ago, Elway retooled. Threw out what didn’t work. He didn’t put new paint on an old edifice, he got a clean piece of paper and started over. Kudos to him, it worked!

We need a clean piece of paper in music. We need musicians who have some self-respect, who think they’re bigger than the game, who are willing to turn down promotional opportunities because they make them look small, like Coldplay.

But the NFL knows nothing about music. It wants something entertaining, but not edgy. But in music, that’s death. Then again, we’ve got so much of that on today’s scene. It’s almost like the string-pullers don’t want to champion anything outside the box, they want it safe.

But the world is dangerous.

Music used to reflect this.

The only peril on the field today was to the players.

Coldplay was immune.

No, that’s not true. By refusing to turn down this promotional opportunity they revealed the band to be the sham that it is. Four blokes who should have stayed in college who appeal to white people afraid of edge.

Sid Vicious is rolling in his grave.

Remember, you win in music when you’re outside, when you play by your own rules, when you behave like the rock star you are, not a tool of the man.

It wasn’t quite Billy Squier territory, but Coldplay’s career was stopped in its tracks today. Now fans will be subjected to hatred for their choice. We all saw the show and said HUH?


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Bernie Sanders by guest blogger Bob Lefsetz

Bob LefsetzCould this be the future of the music business?


Oldsters lament the disappearance of this. Wherein labels subsidized the creativity of musicians. The term has been bastardized in the twenty first century, “artist development” means jetting an act from nowhere to stardom over a short period of time, usually in one album cycle. But the artist development of yore was based on seeing something nascent in the act that could shine in the future. It wasn’t about having a hit on the first record, employing songwriters for hire to ensure this, but laying down the essence of the act’s vision on wax and then going on the road and trying to develop a fanbase, one which would spread the word. Sure, radio was an integral element, but prior to the corporatization, classification and codification of FM in the midseventies, with the resulting tight playlists, the goal was to infect the audience and have it spread the word. Fans would beget more fans, and when the johnny-come-latelies came on board there was a treasure trove of material for them to digest, illustrating how the act had gotten from there to here. There just weren’t hits, but different sounds, different producers, experiments, one felt one was invested in a living, breathing entity, it was rewarding.


Which is another way to say “credibility.” Used to be fans believed in the acts, which is why “Rolling Stone” burgeoned, not only did we want to get closer, we wanted to know what our heroes had to say. Now we’re back to a “16” magazine formula. Which is information with no depth. But the truth is we all need someone to believe in. Unfortunately, that role has been usurped today by corporations, people fight about Android versus iOS more passionately than they do about any acts. If you don’t stand for anything, you’ve got no Velcro to hook people’s loops with. You start outside and then drag the center to you. Which is what Bernie Sanders is doing. He’s focusing on the issue of income inequality, something none of the other candidates wants anything to do with. Oh, they pay lip service to it, but the truth is they depend on the fat cats for cash, they’re not about to undermine their game. But Bernie Sanders has raised nearly as much as Hillary Clinton in the last cycle, $26 to her
$28 million. And he’s done it through small donations from individuals. Corporations are no match for the wrath of individuals, never forget that. Individuals ruined the record business. Individuals can turn on a company or a creator in an instant if you don’t treat people right, the news is filled with rip-off enterprises. Whereas if you spread your base wide, you can’t be hurt by a few defections, your house is built upon a solid foundation.


Don’t be afraid to tackle the tough issues and don’t be afraid to state unpopular positions. Ed Sheeran, one of the biggest acts in the world, has gone on record again and again about the virtues of Spotify. He’s winning while those bitching about streaming are losing. The public doesn’t care that someone moved your cheese, that you can’t make the money you used to in the old paradigm. The public is living in the new world. Which is why all the vinyl comeback stories are irrelevant, as well as the “Billboard” chart. That chart is incomprehensible. Weighted for sales and track equivalent albums and streaming… They print these statistics in the antiquated press and the consumers completely ignore them. Give me something I can understand, obfuscation is for wimps. You know, those afraid to stand up for what they believe is right because someone might get pissed. And the left is as guilty as the right, with all its trigger notices and other politically correct b.s. If you’re trying to please everybody, you’re ultimately pleasing nobody.


Reddit is the epicenter of the Bernie Sanders fundraising campaign. I bet you few in Washington know what it is, and if they do they don’t go there. And Reddit is all about community. That’s one of the reasons Apple Music failed, because Jimmy Iovine’s been living in the bubble so long he doesn’t know how the internet works. There aren’t fan playlists on Apple Music, there’s no sharing. People want to own the campaign and they want to own music. (Not “own” as in CDs or MP3s, if you can’t read and comprehend you’re lost in the new economy. Sign up for an English course, it’ll do you good.) Once you exclude people, you’re dead. You’ve got to welcome them inside, you’ve got to play on their level. Information spreads slow and fast. Usually the fast stuff is evanescent, here today gone tomorrow train-wreck stuff. Everything worth owning, worth paying attention to, takes a long time to gain traction. Don’t cry if the media is not paying attention, this is the same media focusing on Trump and Biden, both of whom have no chance of winning, they do it so they can sell papers/advertising, they’re on to another story tomorrow. Bernie Sanders gets little press because his story is not sexy, he too can’t win but he’s not a buffoon and he doesn’t come from an exalted place and the only people who care are his supporters. But he’s got supporters! Turns out for all his press Scott Walker did not! Proving, once again, not to believe the press, statistics are everything. Data rules. And the data illustrates that Bernie Sanders has a dedicated fanbase which is working for free and ponying up dollars. Never dismiss an army of millions.


Bernie is 74, and his campaign is being driven forward by those a third his age. In music we want malleable, the younger the better, easier to impress the target demo of teenagers, with money and desire. Age is just a number if you’re still cooking, still open to change, if you still care. How is it that Bernie Sanders is relevant at his age while most of his contemporaries are retired? Yet, people still pay beaucoup bucks to see the musicians of his vintage, like the Stones and the slightly less old Eagles. They built upon the above formula. Instead of criticizing the internet, Don Henley should be embracing it, mobilizing fans instead of alienating them. His new music works, it’s just his marketing message that’s all screwed up. The internet may have ruined the record business but it’s also its savior. Maybe Don should go on Reddit. Maybe he should depend upon his diehard fans to market him as opposed to the traditional media. And I focus on Don because he’s still vital, he’s still testing limits, as opposed to those who are afraid to put out new music or employ the hitmaker and cowriter du jour. You dig your own grave. Or climb out of it and keep marching forward.

Income inequality is the story of our age. People are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Yet no one with any power is doing anything to address this issue. Supposedly taxes are anathema, the government can’t shoot straight and socialism is death. But Bernie Sanders is a socialist and his message is resonating with so many? Instead of running from what the bullies say can’t be done, maybe you should run towards it! Deliver what the people want as opposed to what the institutions say you should deliver.

Hillary Clinton will probably win. And that’s fine with me, she’s a professional, unlike the leading Republican bozos. To elect Trump or Fiorina or Carson would be like asking Mark Zuckerberg to produce the new Metallica record. Yup, since he’s rich he must know best. Used to be professionalism meant something in music, you honed your craft and paid your dues and you got a shot at the big time. That didn’t mean you won, it just meant you got a chance. But today’s wannabes believe the crap fed to them by the leeches selling services and the oldsters who can no longer make a buck and we don’t stop hearing how music is broken and you can’t get rich.

Come on, music ain’t broken at all, it’s there for the taking.

Bernie Sanders ain’t good looking, and he’s a member of the tribe to boot! Gays can get married, we’ve got a black President, and just because nincompoops keep asking for Obama’s birth certificate that does not take away from the fact that he was elected twice and still rules.

That’s the power of the people.

And that’s what we’re talking about here. The people will support you. Gatekeepers’ influence is greatly diminished. You’ve got to get your hands dirty and wade into the vast wilderness known as the internet to find out if your message resonates, and if it does you’ve got to build a tribe one by one, like guerilla warfare. Isn’t that why the Viet Cong won, they had the hearts and minds?

Those rules still apply. It’s war out there. Just ask Mike Ovitz. Who ruled until the game changed.

And the game has changed across America today. We’re looking for heroes in a link-bait world where duplicity rules and everybody’s out for a buck.

But there’s plenty of money out there if you resonate, like I said, Bernie Sanders just raised $26 million.

But you’ve got to know how to ask for it.

The revolution will not be televised. It will be streamed on the internet. Everybody clamoring for a return to the past is toast. CDs are history as is manufacturing in America. But that does not mean people don’t want music and jobs! You’ve just got to thread the needle in a new way.

The audience is ready, willing and able.

Give ’em everything you’ve got.

And if you’re not in it for the long haul, if you’re not willing to drip some blood on both the saddle and the tracks, we’re not interested. We’re looking for a few good lifers, who believe in themselves and are willing to play to their fans as opposed to the institutions.

Are you ready?

I am.

Bernie’s $26 million – “Bernie Sanders’s Campaign, Hitting Fund-Raising Milestone, Broadens Focus”: http://nyti.ms/1M6C9n4

“Young Grape Picker Gives Sanders a Cash Boost – Tech-savvy 23-year-old’s Reddit group helps Democratic presidential candidate raise $26 million”: http://on.wsj.com/1LY8fFW

I want you to listen to these two tracks from Henley’s latest LP. They’re not singles and they’re at the very end of the album so they’ve been effectively buried, but I point them out to anyone who believes old people can’t make good music that resonates, especially with their core audience. In a world where everybody old seems to want to be young, Henley sings “I like where I am now.” Older is happier, statistics state this, data rules…if you’re paying attention. Furthermore, “Train In The Distance” reminisces about the past without getting smarmily nostalgic. It’s got that album cut feel baby boomers treasure. And through the magic of the internet, you can sample these wares without paying for them. Isn’t this better than keeping the music locked up like in the past? If you like it, you can spread the word. You can pay and get a higher quality stream and pick and choose the songs you want to play on your mobile. This is the new world, everything is different now:

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Op-Ed: The VMAs – By Bob Lefsetz

Bob LefsetzOp-Ed: The VMAs – By Bob Lefsetz
I asked a powerful music PR man why the press never went negative on Taylor Swift.

He said it was about access. As long as she was available, doing interviews, feeding the press stories, coverage would be positive. It’s when you clam up that the media goes wild on you.

Which kind of explains why Kanye West is getting a pass.

Not completely. But here we have an egomaniac with little national traction, when it comes to music, being given a faux award and then rambling on for ten minutes nearly incoherently, sticking it to the man for giving him this award, any award at all. I’d say it’s hypocritical, but what fascinates me is the press is not full of stories about him being a blowhard. Why?

Because everybody in America is trying to get rich and the young are impressionable and if we can just focus on the antics of the young ‘uns we can get ahead.
Meanwhile, ratings for the show go down and one wonders what can be done next, live executions? George Carlin suggested that a while back, that ratings would be killer, but in our short attention span theatre, where everything is plowed under and history is irrelevant, no one seems to know, or get the joke.

Kanye WestNot that you can have a sense of humor these days. Because someone might be offended.

And the way you make hay on the VMAs is to offend. But that concept is so long in the tooth that we laugh when the oldsters get their knickers in a twist, because we know it’s just about attention.

Attention…it’s hard to get in the internet era.

You could make a record, but even that has a hard time triumphing. Happens every once in a while, with “Blurred Lines,” “Royals” and “Uptown Funk,” but what the industry thinks is important most of America does not so the way to get ahead is to be featured on this show, which resembles nothing so much as Halloween. That’s right, you put on a costume and have a night out and then you forget about the whole enterprise until twelve months hence.

The reason the VMAs are irrelevant is because the station no longer airs videos. I’m not saying they should, I’m just saying that in the heyday of the channel what was hyped on the night was exposed thereafter ad infinitum on the channel, and we were all paying attention. It’s a paradigm Beats 1 is trying to resurrect, by banging Halsey. Will it work?

That’s not the issue. We know there are anomalies. But the truth is we all don’t pay attention to anything other than the Super Bowl, which is why an appearance there is so meaningful and powerful. Prince resurrected his career, he can bloviate ignorantly about the internet but we all still care, because we saw him knock them dead at the game, whose contestants and score elude our memory.

That’s the power of music.

But we haven’t had “Little Red Corvette” in such a long time. A track that was indelible and so infectious that it didn’t matter who made it, what the video was like, we needed more.

So, if we were living in the old days, Miley’s manager would have brokered a deal wherein her new tunes would be featured on the outlet, ensuring they were hits. We’d all know them and we’d all talk about them. I give Ms. Cyrus props for dropping her LP right after the show, that’s how you do it, strike when the iron is hot, when the eyes are upon you, in a flash, but no one cares.

That’s the issue in America today.

It’s not that people have a short attention span, it’s just that they’re overwhelmed with product to the point they don’t care about much at all, percentage-wise, and those left out haven’t stopped bitching. Hell, it’s happening in television, read today’s “New York Times.”

But what the “Times” has that those appearing on the VMAs do not is a new paper, they’re in the pubic eye every day. Whereas you get your shot on the VMAs and if you don’t catch fire, you’re done.

So what have we learned?

If live shows were so important, a gathering of the tribes, ratings would soar, but they don’t. We’ve seen the trick, the antics, the train-wrecks, and it’s no longer new.

But if you’re not featured on one of these shows it’s even harder to get traction.

And everybody who puts money first plays by the rules. Developing acts that fit the paradigm are hyped this way to the point only the ignorant care.

So what’s next?

What I’ve been telling you all along, a whittling of the culture, a reduction of the offerings. Even fewer tracks are going to be hits. And you may not like what is selected, but popularity is everything in today’s culture.

And popularity can be manipulated, but victory truly occurs when the machine melds with quality such that we all care.

We can argue all day long whether “Blurred Lines” rips off Marvin Gaye, but we all agree it’s an infectious track.

As was Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy.” If only Kanye kut one that good.

But he’s so busy pursuing his power dream of ubiquity that he’s lost focus, he expects us to care, but most don’t.

But no one in the game will admit that.

What the internet has taught us is the consumer is king. It’s happened over and over again. The consumer gave us file-trading then streaming. Don’t blame Spotify, that’s long after the fact.

The consumer wants instant access. The consumer wants a low price.

And most consumers don’t want what the music industry is giving them. And rather than adjust, the players are just doubling-down. Becoming even more crass.

So, the VMAs are irrelevant unless you were on them. Most people didn’t watch them and didn’t care. If you say you hate the tracks, join the club. If you wonder what is going on, the media and powers-that-be believe youth drive the culture.

But we’ve learned the oldsters have the money.

And we all have smartphones.

And we all think we’re hip.

And the way you win is by appealing to everybody.

Don’t expect people to pay attention if you’re niche.

But if you’ve got a great voice, write melodic material with good changes, employ hooky choruses and a bridge, the world is your oyster.

Start there.

“Soul-Searching in TV Land Over the Challenges of a New Golden Age”: http://nyti.ms/1LGE7gi

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The Birthday Bash (of Howard Stern), by Bob Lefsetz

The Birthday Bash (of Howard Stern)

written by guest contributor and blogger Bob Lefsetz




What kind of crazy f____d up world do we live in where Howard Stern gets a better tribute than the Beatles?

One in which Adam Levine does a spot-on rendition of “Purple Rain” and establishes his rock and roll bona fides overnight.

I was planning on hearing this on the replay, but my flight was canceled by snow and I find myself…unable to stop listening.

What a crazy world we live in. Wherein Howard hypes this low-rent celebration of his sixtieth birthday and the straight media completely ignores it and more celebrities turn out and reveal themselves than at the Golden Globes, the “gold standard” for celebrity looseness.

But it’s not surprising, when Howard specializes in extracting nuggets from others we’re dying to know but are way too creeped out or afraid to ask. Like were your parents virgins when they married?

That was one of the questions Mr. Stern put to his parents twenty years ago, it was featured in the replay of bashes past on his second channel, Howard 101.

By putting it all out there himself, Howard has license to ask you…

Howard SternHow much money you make.

How frequently you have sex.

Whether you’re going to invite him to your wedding.

That’s what Howard asked Katie Couric. Who showed up with not only Whoopi Goldberg, but Barbara Walters. Along with Mariann from Brooklyn and so much of the rest of the Wack Pack.

But not Eric the Midget/Actor.

Don’t know who he is?

That’s just the point. In the Stern world, Eric is a star, with more airtime than a movie star. We know Eric and his peculiarities intimately, whereas the celebrities the mainstream media promotes are airbrushed to the point where when TMZ reveals the tiniest blemish, everybody goes OOH!

But we’re all imperfect, we all have blemishes, we all fart. Otherwise, why would we click the linkbait of stars without their makeup?

Jewel sang her rendition of Howard’s adolescent composition, “Silver Nickels and Golden Dimes.”

And Train may have covered “I Feel The Earth Move” at the Carole King/Musicares tribute, but here the band performed what we really wanted to hear, its spot-on take of Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On.”

And unlike the Grammys, Bon Jovi sang his big hit, the soundtrack to “Deadliest Catch,” “Wanted Dead Or Alive.”

John Mayer didn’t utilize the occasion to promote a single, but covered Bob Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone.”

Although hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, David Letterman made an appearance, and revealed why he made up with Jay Leno.

And at this late date, hours into the bash, a Google news search of “Howard Stern” reveals nothing other than the appearance of Chris Christie.

But not tomorrow. Tomorrow this will be a big story. When the herd media decides to go on it, since they’re interested in whatever stars do.

But not Howard Stern. Because they don’t want to consider him a star.

Because he’s not beautiful.

He’s not a great singer or actor.

He’s just like them.

And that’s why it’s Howard Stern’s time. You stay in the game long enough and your moment arrives.

In the cacophonous world we inhabit you only rise to the top and sustain if you’re constantly in the public eye, doing new things. And Howard’s creating twelve hours of new material every week, at an insanely high level, since he’s honed his craft for forty years.

Yes, while music focuses on the barely pubescent, when it lauds Miley Cyrus, with songs written by old men, the truth is it’s a long way to the top if you truly want to rock and roll.

And listening to the free stream on my computer it’s reminiscent of nothing so much as a 1970’s FM simulcast. Real, but at a distance.

I didn’t think I needed to be there.

But I was wrong.

Packed with celebrities, John Fogerty is singing “Bad Moon Rising” right now, the show is fast-paced, but loose. There’s none of the airiness or phoniness of network TV.

But that’s not hard to believe, because Howard Stern is the biggest star in America.

And you either know it or you don’t.

He’s America’s Number One Interviewer. A bigger star than Jay Leno and Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’ Brien and David Letterman.

Because he’s got the audience.

But you don’t see the Sirius mindshare/listeners in the Nielsen reports.

But that does not mean it’s not real.

What do they say, you judge a star’s wattage by the fanaticism of its audience?

Just read the tweets.

This is bigger than the anniversary of the Beatles’ appearance on Ed Sullivan. Because this ain’t history, this ain’t calcified, Howard Stern’s Birthday Bash is life itself.


Ed. Note:  I personally wish to thank Bob for allowing me to re-publish his work here with us at Mark Sonder Productions, Inc.

Bottom Photo:  King of All Media, Howard Stern giving the thumbs up sign.

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Bob Lefsetz

When Southern Rock Bands Dominated the Airwaves, by Guest Blogger Bob Lefsetz

When Southern Rock Bands Dominated the Airwaves

by Guest Blogger Bob Lefsetz


guest blogger Bob LefsetzI know, third-rate boogie band. And I kind of agree with you. But I can still muster some enthusiasm for “Flirtin’ With Disaster,” but that’s not what I heard on Sirius today, that was “Whiskey Man.”

Once upon a time, the rednecks didn’t listen to country, but rock and roll. Before country gave up its western roots and became rock and roll lite and the acts started singing about babies, SUVs and Christianity. Hell, the country stars of yore, who built the format, the complete genre, would get no airplay on country stations today. Used to be they kept you off the format because your music didn’t fit, now they keep you off because of your morals… Huh?

But it was different in the late sixties and seventies. Country records rarely had any presence north of the Mason-Dixon line, but southern rock bands dominated the airwaves, to the point where we got imitation acts, like Molly Hatchet, third generation stuff that was easily dismissible, except for the hits.

Now if you want to draw an oblique parallel, southern rock and EDM are related. They’re both about going to the gig and getting completely messed up, the music is just an additive to the fuel you’ve imbibed, ecstasy at the electronic show, beer at the southern rock gig. The idea was to let loose, something they talk about but no longer do in country anymore. It’s all controlled and contrived. But if you watch that Skynyrd movie, you can feel the band teetering on the edge, not only with lifestyle, but music, back when rock stars were kings, not shills for the corporation.

And that’s what the rednecks and the northerners had in common. This sound. It brought us together. Because it could not be denied. And it was always played by southerners. First, the Allman Brothers. Then Lynyrd Skynyrd. Then the Outlaws and Molly Hatchet.

And the guys in Hatchet were too fat and unattractive to appear on the covers of their albums in photographs, but this was back before MTV, when how you looked was not paramount, but how you played.

And unlike today’s second-rate poseurs, the guys in Hatchet could play. And guided by Tom Werman, with a background in economic rock as opposed to southern noodling, at times Hatchet locked on and made music that today is still just as energizing, it makes you want to call somebody up and hit the bars, with this music blasting out of the convertible on the way to getting smashed.

“Whiskey Man”

It’s the energy. From an era where you spoke with your music. Today it’s all about the interview, the tweet, the personality, whereas back then these guys were high school losers who got laid via their tunes, they knew how to rev it up, it’s hard to sit still listening to “Whiskey Man.” Yes, Skynyrd’s “Whiskey Rock-A-Roller” is superior, but I’ve already established that Hatchet was a me-too, second-rate act, but as Tom Petty so eloquently sang, even the losers get lucky sometimes.

“Whiskey Man” is pure boogie, it sounds like it’s straight off a Foghat record, and that’s a good thing! And when the whole thing breaks down at 1:50 and you hear the bass and then the guitars start to twin and wail, you feel the power of seventies rock, which could be quite calculated, but never lost its power.

If you believe music started with the Ramones, you’ll hate this. But if you knew music before then, if you’re open to a bit more, if you’re not narrow in your tastes, you’ll have a hard time denying your affection for “Whiskey Man.”

“Dreams I’ll Never See”

From Hatchet’s debut. And you could call it a cheap shot, covering a classic Allman Brothers song. But the real story is most people still don’t know the Allmans’ debut, which featured the original, they started with “Idlewild South” at best. Furthermore, the Hatchet take is different. It’s faster. Just like Gregg Allman slowed down “Midnight Rider” for his solo debut, Hatchet ratcheted up “Dreams”…and it totally works. Instead of being plaintive, it’s active. In the Allmans’ take, the dude’s just waking up, whereas in Hatchet’s take he’s conscious, he’s already walking around, he’s facing the new day instead of being lost in the haze of yesterday. If you’ve never heard this, you’ll like this. Sacrilegious back then, good now.

“Flirtin’ With Disaster”

The piece-de-resistance. Overplayed to death back then, we boomers know it by heart and get a nostalgic thrill every time we hear it today.

Once again, it’s the energy, and the dynamics, the way the song accelerates and goes up a step, but…

“I’m travelin’ down that lonesome road
Feel like I’m draggin’ a heavy load
Yet I’ve tried to turn my head away
Feel ’bout the same most every day
You know what I’m talkin’ about man?”


That’s the difference between yesterday and today. Today the artists constantly reinforce they’re better than us, whereas back then they were a reflection of us, their music encapsulated our experience, that’s why we were drawn to them, that’s why we wanted to go to the show, to be with like-minded, alienated people and connect with the band that was speaking our truth.

And after these three, you’re on your own. If you bought the albums, you probably know more, if you want to explore, be my guest, but I’m done. I only need these three, that I heard incessantly on the radio back when we were addicted, when it was our best friend.

Spotify link: http://spoti.fi/p6HcZ8

Previous Rhinofy playlists: http://www.rhinofy.com/lefsetz

Visit the archive: http://lefsetz.com/wordpress/


NOTE:  Please call your Mark Sonder Productions representative to book Molly Hatchet, The Outlaws, the Allman Brothers, and/or Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Editor’s note:  Bob’s words have been a fresh inspiration to me for years.  Bob allows me to reprint his articles for Mark Sonder’s classes at UNLV and The George Washingtonn University.  Thank you Bob for being there and continuing to share your clear thoughts with all of us!

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