There was a time when I wrote emails many times a day and was on the computer for hours on end. Those days are most certainly behind me. The most I seem up for is answering text messages. Like tonight I was email my friend, Deborah, back and forth. She has an awesome Organic Tamale company and was premiering her food at the top shelf bar, Verdugo, here in LA. You know, people get board and text that their hands are cold and stuff like that. You could never get away with something like that in general conversation.
So I had been pacing back and forth on whether or not to call the Diary a “Blog” instead, it being 2009 and all. I remember being young and seeing Jefferson Airplane on tv. And then, a few years later (about 1981) they’d changed their name to Jefferson Starship. Why? I don’t know if anyone ever went on record but if you think about it, if the “70’s” represented bell-bottoms, smoking grass and ‘airplanes’, then the 1980’s would have to be faster, hipper, slicker and cleaner. Jefferson Airplane was smelly, stringy and a bummer, whereas Jefferson Starship was exciting, new and sexy. So that got me thinking about ‘Blogging’ instead of ‘Diary Writing’. See, I too was becoming stale and needed a ‘space’ boost. But i didn’t have a clue how to blog.
So much has happened in the last 3 months that one would think I had a years’ worth of material. But with SNL and all the late night comedians, all the good jokes are gone and my brand of silly (wannabe) ironic humor just seemed old. I was reminded of this back when I made an ill-advised comment putting Kanye West for saying “Bush don’t give a damn about Black people.” KW was probably right but my point was that it hurts the people who need help by turning donators off the telethon. The amount of nasty emails I got caught me off guard and it just goes to show that a level of responsibility comes with connecting with so many people and I lost my way more than a few times. But I never once lost my appreciation for any of the fine folks all over who came together with a love of music and nothing but joy in their hearts and souls for Love’s music and all the records that Love AND Arthur Lee made. So, for that, i am lucky beyond words.
I think, with 2009, we should toast and start anew. The last year has been wrought with strange and unforseen circumstances in many people’s lives and my wife, Hannah, and I always keep them in our thoughts. This year, I want it to be the 1st of many; a time and a place forever about peace, love, music and friends. The love that connects us no matter what the future holds. Like Jefferson Starship (who, in the 80’s/90’s went on to become, simply, “Starship”), i wouldn’t mind re-inventing myself, my style outlook. You ever feel like that? Sure you do. That’s why we get new haircuts, new cars, new clothes, new glasses. It’s fun, it inspires and it gives you soemthing to look forward to, don’t it?
When I was 14 I began to get quite serious about being a musician. So many times people ask me who my influences were and i always found it hard to saw, like maybe I might disappoint them! But lately I have been going over my notes and stuff from ages ago and it’s quite funny and amazing, my journey in this life of music. My musical life could be described by some as ‘Lucky’ and by others as ‘Destiny’. If you ever see this amazing movie, “Slumdog Millionaire”, then you’ll know what I mean. I never really tried to be a star or the best of anything, which worked out nicely, since i was never a star or the best of anything! Something I always tried to do was to be Prepared. I also never stayed in a band if i thought the music was either mediocre or if i thought the group were not willing to try to be the best they could be. That meant finding the faults and having everyone commit to working on fixing them. If you’ve got holes in your game you will never be 100% confident. And if you are not confident and play from the heart the music business will chew you up and sh*t you out right on the pavement.
Seeing bands on tv shows like ‘Solid Gold’ made me really love and admire bands but it was seeing Chuck Berry so many times on The Johnny Carson Show that made my mind up that I was going to be a Guitar Player and performer. Everytime i watched Chuck I just couldn’t believe what i was watching. Being just a kid, I just thought he must have been more important than the president. As the story goes, Chuck use to perform on the Tonight Show (Carson was supposedly a huge fan) and then have these ‘parties’ in his hotel afterwards. So, here was this handsome, tall and incredibly talented musician performing in front of millions of people one minute, and the next minute he was partying with multiple sex partners and (in some cases) urinating on certain willing ‘fans’. Only in America.
Once i actually picked up the guitar I gravitated towards players that were bluesy and yet still quite electric like Johnny “Guitar” Watson (whom I wrote a fan letter to in ’91 and he answered it!), Ireland’s favorite son Gary Moore, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Rockpile’s Dave Edmonds (the reason i played a white Gibson ES-335), B.B. King, T-Bone Walker,Dave Davies, Jimmy Page, Pete Townshend and George Benson. Those were my first influences. I do remember though, when i first heard the Isley Brothers’ “Who’s that Lady”, i damn near wore the niddle out trying to figure out Ernie Isley’s solo. What i didn’t know at the time was that he was using an Octave Fuzz pedal. It drove me nuts, for sure.
To this day, Michael Hampton’s solo on Funkadelic’s “(Not Just) Knee Deep” is the most awesome, most incredible guitar solo ever, in my humble opinion. It’s melodic. It’s ferocious. It’s sweet, singing and wonderful. If you can find the original, bless you! It’s certainly an out of this world guitar solo and it’s about a 6 minute solo! I NEVER tried to learn that solo either. It’s sacred. That’s something you don’t mess with.
When I was 16 and in a band everyone else had vintage Fender amps. I was the only knucklehead with a Peavey 50 watt Backstage Combo, which i ran into a 15″ Yamaha cabinet. Guess what? People used to come up to me and go,”Mike, what the f*ck is in that amp? How can I get my Fender to sound that good?” But, see, back then Hartley Peavey made EXCELLENT amps (There’s a running joke in L.A. about what’s going to be leftover after World War III: Cock Roaches, Boss Pedals and Peavey Amps made in the 80’s.) My Peavey not only kicked ass but it was louder and projected more than the vintage Fenders my friends had. I also had a D.O.D. model 250 Overdrive that I kicked in for solos that just tore the heads off people. Someone suggested i wear a bandana because Hendrix did. I thought it was silly and predictable to copy Jimi. But then one of my friends’ girlfriends pointed out to me that girls liked Guitarist who wore bandanas. I wore a bandana at the next gig…