Monthly Archives: October 2008

50th Anniversary for Warner Bros.

 

 

Celebrations in store
for the company’s founding

 

By Mandy Rodgers

 

On Dec. 9 Warner Bros. Records is set to release Revolutions of Sound in honor of its
fifty year anniversary. Jack Warner founded the company fifty years ago, and
after Frank Sinatra’s Reprise label joined the group in 1963, the popularity
and success of Warner Bros. Records grew through the next five decades.

 

 

Revolutions of Sound is a special package consisting of a 240-page book and a USB flash drive
featuring 320 recordings from the company’s history highlighting the entire
duration of Warner Bros. Records. The book contains interviews, photographs and
stories about writing and creating the hit songs from the label and is written by
music historian Warren Zanes. The flash drive is shaped like the Warner Bros.
logo and gives listeners the same amount of music as a 20-CD collection. Any
music from Warner Bros., Reprise and Sire is fare game or other related labels
from 1958 to now.

 

 

The eclectic list of artists found on the extensive
compilation goes on and on but contains Madonna, Frank Sinatra, Red Hot Chili
Peppers, Big & Rich, Faith Hill, Alanis Morrisette, Cher, Eric Clapton and
Linkin Park, to name a few.

 

 

The title “Revolutions of Sound” will also be found on
Warner Bros. fall releases, giving more exposure to the golden anniversary. Also,
early next year (scheduled for February) a follow-up album to Revolutions of Sound hits shelves. The
title and artists involved in this compilation of Warner Bros. classics
performed by contemporary artists will soon be revealed.

 

 

 

Max Ochs Releases New Record

 

Old and New
Obscurities for your record collection.

 

By Brian Creech

 

Max Ochs, cousin of Texas
born protest singer Phil Ochs, recorded several guitar pieces, protest songs,
and spoken word poems throughout the lat 1960s. 
Specializing in primitive America music, label Tompkins Square,
has gathered together Max’s old and new recordings and will release Hooray for Another Day on November 18th,
2008. 

 

The album features several spoken word pieces and poems from
the protest artist, his most famous recent composition, “Imaginational Anthem,”
and a new take on John Fahey’s
arrangement of “In Christ There Is No East or West.”    Also included is the poem “Phil,” dedicated to
Max’s late cousin. 

 

With the rise of freak-folk over the past few years, Max has
seen some late career resurgence, including a featured piece on NPR a few years
ago.  The self-effacing guitarist rarely
promotes himself, but bloggers have called the album “a gnarly east-meets-west
vibe mixed in with some mind-bending atmospherics and explorations.”

Groovy.

 

Track List:

 

1. Hooray For Another Day

2. Ain’t Nobody High Raga

3. Crows 4. Victor’s Rag

5. An Apple
Place in Annapolis

6. Imaginational Anthem

7. In Christ There Is No East or West

8. Muse Sick

9. Oncones

10. Phil

11. Raga Puti

12. Stranger

 

 

Video: Springsteen Does Halloween Clip!

 

Thumping slab of blooze, Boss-style, just in time for All Hallow’s Eve…

 

By Fred Mills

 

First there was the Jersey Devil – according to legend (or
stories folks in New Jersey
told their kids to scare the bejeezus outta them), “On a stormy night in 1735,
Mother Leeds gave birth to her 13th child. The child was born
abnormal but transformed into a creature with hooves, a horse’s head, bat
wings, and a forked tail. He inhabits the Pine Barrens of southern New Jersey.”

 

Then came The Jersey
Devil
– a classic Bruce Springsteen bootleg LP from the ‘70s.

 

Put the two together, sorta, and you get “A Night With the Jersey
Devil,” a new song and video that Springsteen has posted to his official
website. Essentially based upon the old Muddy Waters blues classic “Mannish
Boy,” it’s a thumping, crunching, harp-blowing, distorto-box slab of dirty ass chain-gang
rawk. And just that image of a demonic-looking Bruce rising up out of the water
a la Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now is worth the price of
admission alone.

 

You know you need it.

 

We’ve got the video posted below, or you can see it at the
Boss’ site HERE and also download the tune as a free MP3 HERE.

 

“Dear Friends and Fans,” writes Springsteen, on his site.
“If you grew up in central or south Jersey,
you grew up with the “Jersey Devil.” Here’s a little musical
Halloween treat. Have fun!”

 

He also adds this little note for his New Jersey “friends and neighbors”: “So as
not to inconvenience you this Halloween, due to “catastrophic
success” (read: too many visitors for the neighborhood to handle) and
concern for the safety of kids and parents! We won’t be having our usual
Halloween display this year in Rumson. We wish everyone a safe and Happy
Halloween! Thanks, Bruce and Patti”

 

Dang. It must be tough being the most famous family in New Jersey…

 

 

 

 

Free Music: Tim Fite says Trick or Treat!

 

 

Free music for all you
rock ‘n’ roll groovy ghoulies.

 

By Fred Mills

 

For one day only – that would be, like TODAY, Oct. 31 –
traveling troubadour Tim Fite is offering up some  twisted tuneage geared to Halloween. And the
MP3s are absolutely free: just go to TimFite.com and decide whether you want
the “Trick” or the “Treat” option (hint: you get music at one link, raisins at
the other, and who the hell wants raisins in their Halloween candy sack!).

 

And get this: he’s not only offering up a six-song digital
mini-album he’s calling the Ding Dong
Ditch
EP, you can also nab last year’s goodies, the six-song It’s Only Ketchup. That’s 12 free MP3s
in all. We call it a bargain. Thanks, Tim.

 

 

Fite,
who records for the esteemed Anti- label, is playing in Philly tonight, then
will be appearing Nov.8 at the Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin. According to one BLURT correspondent,
“Fite is quite the entertainer. I saw him a few
years ago and he was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Part rapper, part
evangelist, part Jim Jones “here’s the Kool-aid” type, part
charismatic snake handling speaking in tongues character. Quite unique.”

 

Quite.

 

 

Video: Wassup 2008 – Vote For Change

 

 

Most awesome political
vid since that Ron Howard-as-Opie clip…

 

By Fred Mills

 

 

You remember that jaw-dropping video we showed you last week
of Ron Howard, Andy Griffith and Henry Winkler endorsing Obama, don’t you?
We’ve found another pretty amazing video, this one posted to YouTube.

 

It’s practically a YouTube ritual to remake the classic
Budweiser beer “Wassup” commercial – search on the site and you’ll find
everything from doctored clips culled from Star Wars, Simpsons and Super
Friends (Batman, Superman et al) to variations on that Bud commercial filmed in
dorm rooms, on street corners and in strip clubs.

 

So now we come to “Wassup” eight years later. This time,
with the stakes quite high as we near Election Day and life in general feeling
pretty grim, it’s considerably less lighthearted than the original. But it’s no
less compelling.

 

See below for “Wassup 2008” followed by the original Bud ad.
And seriously folks – GO VOTE. Now. Early voting ends in most states tomorrow.

 


New Ruthie Foster Album for ‘09

 

New title on slightly less self-congratulatory than debut
“The Phenomenal Ruthie Foster.”

 

By Brian Creech

 

Texas singer-songwriter Ruthie Foster will release her second
self-referential album The Truth
According to Ruthie Foster
on February 3rd, 2009 via Blue
Corn Music.  This album follows her
slightly more self-loving debut, The
Phenomenal Ruthie Foster
.

 

 

The new album was recorded in Memphis at stalwart Ardent
Studios.  Recording sessions began the
day of Isaac Hayes funeral, an act which a press release is calling “symbolic,”
though symbolic of what is not exactly clear. 

 

 

Produced by Chris Goldsmith (Blind
Boys of Alabama, Charlie Musselwhite), the album features a veritable who’s who
of Memphis
session players.  Robben Ford
(Yellowjacket, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell) on guitar; Jim Dickinson (Rolling
Stones, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan) on keyboards, and organist Charles Hodges
(Al Green, Ann Peebles).  Bassist Larry
Fulcher (Taj Mahal, Los Super Seven) and drummer Rock Deadrick (Tracy Chapman,
Ben Harper) fill out the rhythm section. 

 

 

Jim Dickinson, who asides from playing on the album has also
produced the Replacements Pleased to Meet
Me
, says of the live recording sessions, “[A] good
artist, good players, good songs in a good space. The way it used to was.”

 

 

Foster’s debut album received
accolades from critics for it’s gritty sound and soulful realism, and it is yet
to be seen if she’ll repeat.

 

Track listing and writing credits:

 

  1. “Stone Love” (Ruthie
    Foster)
  2. “I Really Love You”
    (Tate, Malouf, Couch, Stephenson, Stroud)
  3. “When it Don’t Come
    Easy” (Patty Griffin)
  4. “Hangin’ On” (B. Mize, I. Allen)
  5. “Truth!” (Ruthie Foster)
  6. “Love in the Middle” (E.
    Bibb)
  7. “Nickel and a Nail”
    (Deadric Malone, Vernon
    Morrison)
  8. “Dues Paid in Full”
    (Ruthie Foster)
  9. “Joy on the Other Side”
    (Ruthie Foster)
  10. “Tears of Pain” (Ruthie
    Foster)
  11. “Thanks for the Joy” (E.
    Bibb)

 

 

 

 

PSA: BarackRock.org

Get out and vote,
people.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

 

Here’s one we won’t even attempt to “filter” – it’s
important enough to pass it along to you verbatim, as we received it. This has
been a public service announcement – with guitars.

 

 

***

 

 

BarackRock.org
Continues Push In Final Week of Campaign

Musicians and Artists Unite to Raise Money for Barack Obama

Exclusive MP3s and Artwork on BarackRock.org

 

New York, NY — Musician Jack
Dolgen (Maricopa, Sam Champion) had a song and an idea: use his track to raise
money for Barack Obama after a run in with the man himself.  He told
Barack, “You’ve been running, I’ve been recording.” The first song
released from that recording project was “Daytime,” a song about bridging
divides and coming together. As he and designer Andrew Ackermann tossed the
concept around to their friends in the music and design worlds, one man’s idea
grew into an organization called I Wrote You a Song: trading art for political
action.  

 

 

The
first campaign is BarackRock.org, launched one week after the Democratic
Convention and has featured daily contributions from artists like Tapes N’
Tapes (go to the site today to download their exclusive “The Dirty Dirty
Amplive Fuct Remix”), Ra Ra Riot, The Honey Brothers, Mobius Band, Au
Revoir Simone, Port O’Brien, Sam Champion, Sera Cahoone, and many more. The
effort is building with multiple posts each day during this final stretch till
November 4th.

 

BarackRock.org uses
music and design to bring people from around the world together under one
banner and channel their energy into a unified force. BarackRock.org is an
ever-expanding archive of free, exclusive mp3s, each with its own individual
art, meant to build funds, excitement and action for the Obama campaign.

 

 

Read
more about BarackRock.org at:

 

Rolling Stone

Huffington Post

The Fader

The Fader

Salon.com

The political change
we’re working towards won’t come by itself. The more downloads we get, the
larger our impact can be, so spread the word!

 

These are unreleased
tracks and demos, only available here, and only available now, so plug in your
headphones and make a difference.

 

 

Visit www.BarackRock.org

 

 

DON’T
FORGET TO GET OUT AND VOTE!!!

 

 

 

Doors/Chuck Taylor Sneaks Dust-Up!

 

Much ado about a pair of cool sneakers…

 

By
Fred Mills

 

 

Here
at BLURT we occasionally poke our heads out of our cubicle, glance around, and
notice, uh, stuff goin’ on in the world of music. Among that stuff: the fact
that the Doors recently partnered with Converse 
to license their name/logo to the shoemaker’s iconic Chuck Taylor brand
of sneakers. Similar deals have also been struck in the recent past by the
Grateful Dead, Nirvana and the Ramones, so it didn’t seem completely out-of-the-blue
that the Doors would joint that multi-generational roll-call in finding a new
marketing wrinkle.

 

 

Fans
of all four bands have vigorously debated the pros, the cons, the idealism and
the reality of what’s going on when a beloved artist works up a licensing deal,
of course; it just goes with the territory.

 

So
yesterday, industry gadfly/commentator Bob Lefsetz, who we’ve quoted in this
space before, posted his latest “Lefsetz Letter” in which he took the Doors
organization to task for what he perceived, as a certain percentage of Doors
fans no doubt also perceive, as selling out and trampling on his memories. You
can read it at his site, but we’re posting the screed – along with some
intriguing followup material – below as well.

 

***

 

From
Bob Lefsetz:

 

It’s bad enough that “Rolling
Stone” has morphed into “Esquire” for a slightly younger
generation, with a perfect binding that makes it impossible to fully grasp
Angus Young’s mug, he looks like some origami trick from the back cover of
“MAD”, but what had me blowing chunks was the ad four pages into the
magazine…  “THE DOORS INSPIRED
CHUCK TAYLOR”.

 

Are you fucking kidding me?  I thought that John Densmore had a lock on
this kind of shit.  Or maybe that was
just the band’s music.  Their image…

 

I love the Doors.  Their first album was transcendent.  But I’ve never ever owned a pair of Chuck
Taylors.  I’m just not a Converse kind of
guy.  To tie up the Doors with Chuck
Taylor is like hooking up Metallica with Maypo. 
What’s next, the Stones for Stride-Rite?

 

Shit, is there no commercial opportunity
these bands won’t turn down?  The concept
of legacy has been completely forgotten. 
But, a great band’s music never will be. 
Isn’t that the lesson of AC/DC, that despite refusing to whore
themselves out, endorse products, feature their music in commercials, they own
the second biggest selling catalog?

 

Respect the music.

 

But no one buys that anymore.  Our whole country has lost its dignity.  As Ray Davies once sang, money talks and
we’re the living proof.

 

If you’re educated, you’re an elitist.  You should be working a blue collar job like
a real American, not prepared for change that might come down the pike, and
about to be fired because the man shipped your job overseas.  Forced to buy all your goods at the big box
store known as Wal-Mart that raped your city’s downtown and replaced reasonable
jobs with low-paying gigs akin to those in a jail.  Not as guards, but as PRISONERS!

 

Has the Doors music been forgotten?  What caused the last renaissance, twenty five
years ago?  When suddenly everybody
wanted to listen to “The End”. 
There was no advertising then, just WORD OF MOUTH!

 

God, does the Vatican have to do a deal for the
Sistine Chapel?  To make sure people
continue to come?  Too bad Picasso’s
dead, otherwise he could be hawking scarves for Target.  Hell, couldn’t they do one of those ads where
they take footage and he appears with his daughter Paloma?  Just because the body’s cold doesn’t mean you
can’t make some money on it.

 

And did Jim Morrison even OWN a pair of
sneakers?  Never mind Chuck Taylors?  I remember him dressed in black.  The Ramones were big on canvas shoes, but not
the rockers of the sixties.

 

But Chuck Taylor’s got a lot of bread.  They want to make the brand cool.  And their advertising agency likes the
Doors…  I mean who’s cooler than Jim
Morrison?  So you make an offer of
beaucoup bucks and the only person who gets fucked in the ass is the fan.  I respect the act.  I’m not whoring myself out.  How do you expect me to buy music if I can’t
respect it?

 

What’s next?

 

Come on… 
Can’t John Lennon sell glasses?

 

Or maybe that’s Buddy Holly’s purview.

 

And if the Doors are in danger of being
forgotten, how about Sinatra?

 

If the music is great, it’ll last
forever.  And that’s why classic rock
endures.  Because of its greatness.

 

The Doors might not sell quite the tonnage
of AC/DC, but that’s because their music is cerebral.  It’s for people who want to delve a bit
deeper, who want to think.  It’s a rite of
passage for those who read Vonnegut and Hesse in high school as opposed to
dropping out and working at the 7-11. 
You’re not even aware of the Oedipus complex unless you finish high
school…  How are you supposed to
comprehend “The End”?

 

But now that you’ve seen the band has
aligned with Chuck Taylor, you’re gonna check ’em out.  You’re gonna buy all those albums because the
band inspired sneakers, if you can stomach that bullshit.

 

Don’t tell me that things have changed.  These are my memories, this is my life.  You can make a ton of dough and lose it all
in the market, seemingly overnight.  But
it takes a lifetime to build memories. 
Respect them.  They pay dividends.  Not only monetary, but emotional.  And that’s what we are, not the sum of our
toys, but our experiences, our moods, our memories, our histories.  Great music is not only part of our identity,
it IMPACTS our identity.  We respect
artists who are grasping for greatness, who want to get it right, who want to
say something as opposed to cashing the check.

 

Jim Morrison might be six feet under, but
he’s alive and well in my mind.  Long
live the Lizard King!

 

 

***

 

So
Lefsetz gets a lot of letters, many of them from industry folks who sometimes
agree with him and sometimes don’t. Typically, he’ll post some  of the more interesting responses, as he did
with the Doors responses. Among them were emails from original Doors manager
Bill Siddons and the head of the Doors old record company Elektra, Jac Holzman.
The former appeared to not be bothered by the Chuck Taylor matter, while the latter
tended to take a more purist view:

 

 

From
Bill Siddons:

 

 

Remember it was John Densmore who turned
down something like $12 million for the use of “break on through” in
the Cadillac commercial for exactly the reasons you espouse. Don’t be too hard
on him!

 

You know as well as anyone that it’s almost
impossible to find ways to keep your deep catalog artists in the public view,
and Jeff Jampol has continually come up with ways to do that for the doors. It
sometimes crosses the line but if you never try anything you won’t find
out.   I got to admit that when I was in
the store at the art museum and found a wide selection of Picasso and Dali
coffee mugs, kites, T-shirts etc. I found it a little hard to take just as I do
half of the things that are done to leverage artists good reputations.  But those cheap posters and mugs may actually
make the newbie seek out the original in the art museum!

 

Oh, by the way, what caused the renaissance
for the doors 25 years ago was the release of Jim Morrison’s poetry album,
“An American Prayer” and us presenting it to the industry through 22
playback parties around the country so they listened to it from start to
finish.  It is purity and the power of
Jim’s poetry that caused a whole new generation to bring the doors music into
their life and by the way probably got Francis Ford Coppola to use “the
end” in Apocalypse Now,  and Warner
books to say yes to buying Jim’s biography etc. etc.  It starts with art, but reaches the masses
through marketing.

 

-Bill Siddons

 

 

From
Jac Holzman:

 

Bob – I appreciate the forward of the email
from Doug Aitken. I’ve written him about The Doors and asked him, kindly of
course, not to add any more years to my already acquired seventy-seven (77).

 

You’re absolutely right. There is no need
for tie-in marketing. It really doesn’t help The Doors, whose legacy and
emotional currency is assured and validated by time and timelessness. And it
doesn’t “move product.”

 

BTW, The Doors resurgence in 1979-1980
traces directly to the opening sequences of Apocalypse Now, in which Martin
Sheen unravels as a result of his inner ghosts and the destructive tug of Vietnam.
That scene and the mood of The End were indelibly mated. It was an unbelievable
moment when the war became visceral once again.

 

All best – Jac Holzman

 

 

***

 

Fair
enough. Both men have their opinions and, like Lefsetz, are entitled to them.
Then current Doors manager Jeff
Jampol responded, and his lengthy commentary provided one of the most revealing
dissections about what really goes in to licensing and marketing deals,
particular involving so-called “heritage” acts like the Doors. Regardless of
what your own opinion may be, Jampol’s letter really pulls the veil back and
gives you a front row seat at what we might call a theoretical business meeting
among members of a band.

 

His
Obama sign-off tag is pretty cool, too.

 

 

From
Jeff Jampol:

 

 

Hi, Bob:

 

As The Doors’ manager, I thought I’d take a
stab at weighing in after reading your interesting commentary.

 

First off, let me state for the record that
I am clearly biased here and in no way objective – The Doors pay me, and when
The Doors make money, I make money. Their legacy is not mine, though I AM hired
to promote it, protect it, monetize
it, guide it, and keep it alive for the NEXT generation as WELL as their
current (and past) fans. On the one hand, I am supposed to find ways to make
them money. On the other hand, I am supposed to protect their legacy. And,
finally, I am to promote their name,
their music, and their message to the new generations coming up – and as we all
know, marketing to existing fans, and an older fanbase, is MUCH, MUCH different
than marketing to a newer generation of young fans, to whom The Doors are a new
band and a “new idea.” We must do BOTH, and although they have a lot
of overlap, they are separate tasks, and are done in differing ways. Makes for
a heady brew of conflict!

 

It is many times because of this inherent
conflict in what we are trying to do that occasionally we will cross lines and
upset some folks. Sometimes rightly, sometimes wrongly, and sometimes people
seem to get upset whenever they see change of any kind. Our job here is to try
and discern what they’re really upset about, take a look at it, and see if we
are wrong, if they’ve raised valid issues, if we’ve taken a misstep, or if we
are rightly hewing true to what we believe. Many times, the points raised have
validity and help us to become better, smarter humans, as well as better
“keepers of the flame.”

 

I have read your comments, and I want to try
and shed a little light on how I look at this – hopefully, you will try to be
as open-minded as I am trying to be, and together, we can reach some kind of
consensus — or not, I guess. It is ultimately up to each individual to
embrace The Doors’ legacy as well as their music and message the best way he or
she sees fit, and if everyone agreed with us (or me), I probably wouldn’t be
doing my job!

 

In this case, the music had nothing to do
with this. We are not USING Doors music, just, as you had written, the image
(or, name and likeness, as we hoary businessmen say), so let’s be clear what we
are discussing – and we are NOT discussing the use of The Doors’ music.

 

You invoke John Densmore’s name in your
letter, and I think it’s pretty obvious to many that John Densmore is
completely passionate and devoted to his particular beliefs and the way he
approaches the issues at hand. John and I have had MANY “spirited
discussions” about matters pertaining to promoting
the Doors’ legacy, and I must say, I love and respect John immensely – he truly
walks like he talks, and I have seen him, time and again, sacrifice personal
comfort, ease, dollars, and serenity in order to stand up for what he believes
in, not only in business, but in his personal life, and not only for The Doors,
but for ANY cause or issue with which he is involved.

 

You asked in your letter, “What caused
the last renaissance, twenty five years ago? 
When suddenly everybody wanted to listen to ‘The End’.  There was no advertising then, just WORD OF
MOUTH!” And you are correct when you say there was no advertising, per se,
but there WAS a major motion picture, Oliver Stone’s “The Doors”. The
release of that movie tripled The Doors’ catalogue sales at the time.
Terrestrial radio was also THE major factor in exposing music to new
generations, and we had RECORD STORES to go browse in, hang out in, and
salivate over the newest releases – sadly, as you reported on in an earlier
letter, these stores have disappeared and been somewhat replaced by Apple
stores – where music is not the product they are selling. So, we have none of
these tools available to us anymore – sadly.

 

Now, down to the issue of Converse shoes and
The Doors. Perhaps we have overstepped here (I couldn’t resist the pun), and
perhaps we have not. Let’s take a look at how I see it, as I have already read
how YOU see it. Let me explain what I see as a few factual circumstances, and
let’s also get down to the philosophical issues at hand.

 

First off, we see the music and the name
somewhat differently – they are BOTH important to us, but to me, there are
degrees of sanctity, if you will, when it comes to marketing and promoting The Doors’ legacy: the most sacrosanct
thing that exists is the music. Next in this hierarchy is Jim’s poetry (which
is owned by the Morrison successors), then the name “The Doors,”
followed by the photos and images, and last but not least, the individual
members themselves.

 

The Doors decided long ago (way before MY
time) that apparel was an acceptable category in which to license The Doors’
name, and acceptable to market, sell and promote,
not only to enhance their legacy, but to make a profit as well (we like to do
that – we are not a nonprofit organization). I’m told that some of The Doors
also felt that we were being bootlegged so rampantly all over the world, and so
much crappy stuff was out there, that they AND their fans would be better
served by at least trying to put quality merchandise out there for fans to buy,
and to also capture some of the millions that was being unfairly pocketed
regardless by outsiders and fly-by-night, substandard bootleggers trading
unfairly and illegally on The Doors’ name.

 

Some of what The Doors ultimately permitted
to be manufactured, I disagreed with – and some, I stopped, discontinued, or outright
denied.

 

A few examples? Although The Doors did
Christmas ornaments, and several folks I know own them and apparently like
them, I personally found them to be demeaning, and not in the spirit (excuse
the pun again) of these “Erotic Politicians,” and I so advised The
Doors (again, that’s my job). There was a “Light My Fyre! ”
action-figure doll, which I found particularly repugnant (it pained me just to
write that out), and many other categories, like cheap belt buckles, cheap
calendars (note the word “cheap”: it’s there for a reason), lizard
this-‘n-that, feather earrings, etc. I could go on and on here – ugly incense
holders, a disgusting purple plastic-topped Lava Lamp-like table lamp, a Jim
action-figure doll (but not the Todd McFarland one, which is cool, to us),
tawdry tapestries (??!), magnets, and even bobbleheads! I mean, c’mon! How does
one make a logical connection between “Soul Kitchen” and a
BOBBLEHEAD??!? In fact, when I first came on board, one of our first actions as
a management team was to terminate deals for over 150 items – all of which had
already been approved, wittingly or unwittingly, by The Doors. We then
terminated about the same amount of apparel items and designs as being hoary,
uncool, stupid, ugly, demeaning, cheap, and usually some combination of these
horrible attributes. We disapprove and/or terminate WAY more than we ever
approve.

 

As you can see, though, a lot of this is a
judgment call – one man’s hoary, uncool trinket is another man’s prize…and so
be it. We have to stay true to OUR vision, and I know we will not be in
agreement with everyone – in fact, I often disagree with The Doors themselves,
and we will all argue about it, talk it out, discuss, etc., but in the end, it
is THEIR legacy, and I am happy to carry out whatever they direct me to move
forward with.

 

So, we decided – GENERALLY (there can always
be exceptions) – that some of the apparel categories we were okay with selling
were: t-shirts, messenger bags, sweatshirts, shoes, outerwear/jackets, jeans, cycling
jerseys, beanies, caps, belts, higher-end belt buckles, cool
dress/tunic/overshirts for women (like the Trunk ones we did), leather jackets,
and denim shirts.

 

I could be mistaken here, but I think the
only categories we haven’t done yet are shoes, leather jackets, and jeans –
there may be more. So, when this opportunity came along with Converse, we took
a look at it. There is only ONE “first time” you can do something,
and to me, the first time has to really count – we didn’t want to do something
half-assed (I was gonna say “slipshod,” but I thought three puns was
too many in one diatribe). You speak about AC/DC and insinuate that their
marketing is more on point with respect to legacies – yet I believe AC/DC has
done way more merchandise and retail items than The Doors EVER have! How is it
that a t-shirt or a skateboard deck is cool, bit a sneaker somehow ISN’T??

 

Before I go further, here’s some insight and
knowledge about how the merchandise business works: ALL of the items we do for
The Doors – whether it’s a t-shirt, Converse shoes, a messenger bag, or Doors
posters – are NOT items WE make, or have made, they are LICENSES. The Doors DO
NOT manufacture anything – we never have. I don’t know any major artists who
do. We’re not in the manufacturing business – apparel manufacturers are. We
don’t DO “Doors T-Shirts” – we LICENSE the name “The
Doors”, via our merchandising reps, to a t-shirt brand, or to a t-shirt
vendor, who then manufactures them (or sources a manufacturer), and then sells
them under their own brand name to retail, where you buy them, same as AC/DC,
The Beatles, or any other major band. Even when a band is on tour (this again
applies to bigger bands), the artists are not MANUFACTURING those shirts you
buy at their gigs – they have LICENSED their band name and their tour
merchandising rights to a merchandising company, who have their OWN brand of
t-shirts – that merch company then goes out on the road with the artist and
sets up merch tables, selling their (the company’s) t-shirts with the artists’
name on them.

 

When manufacturers want to license The
Doors’ name to make a piece of Doors apparel for retail sale, we assure
complete approval rights over every key aspect of the apparel: Which company is
manufacturing the piece, what the item is (a t-shirt or a messenger bag), the
design, the images used, the garment itself, where it’s distributed, how much
it sells for, and how long it’s available. That way, we can insure that the
item stays in keeping with the level of quality and the image of The Doors. If
we don’t approve the final sample, it doesn’t get made. Period.

 

I have spent virtually ALL of this year
(2008) terminating almost ALL Doors licenses, in every category, and completely
pulling The Doors OUT of the mass-market (Target, K-Mart, etc.) altogether. We
don’t belong there right now, I don’t think. We WERE there, for certain and
specific reasons I can’t get into (business stuff), but 2008 has been, for us,
a year of retrenchment and “giving the name a rest.” We don’t ever
want to be TOO ubiquitous, and I think part of the magic of The Doors is that
they are a bit special, and above the fray, and not TOO common. We don’t WANT
to be everywhere – I would like to see us as kind of exclusive. So, for 2008,
we have done nothing but pull all Doors items OFF of the market.

 

We want to come back in 2009 (well, starting
at Christmas 2008) with a whole new line: all-new designs, higher quality,
finer garments, some better/different/rarer images, different categories (like
maybe the shoes and jeans we’ve never done), and new retail outlets.

 

Which leads me back to Converse.

 

I think one of the things people may be
having a problem with is that they see the Converse/Doors shoes as somehow
selling out, or us putting OUR name on THEIR shoe. But this is what we do for
EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF DOORS MERCHANDISE THAT HAS EVER BEEN PRODUCED. There is
no difference here, other than the category of apparel – we HAVE licensed The
Doors name, for t-shirts and belt buckles (and many other items), but not for
shoes. The only other difference I see here is that I think you perhaps view it
differently because Converse has brand name recognition on its own, as opposed
to companies like, say, “Liquid Blue”, “Winterland”, or
“Junk Food”, who are some of our past t-shirt manufacturers/vendors.

 

True Religion made Doors sweatshirts, yet
THEY have brand name recognition apart from The Doors – Trunk made Doors
t-shirts, and Winterland made Doors t-shirts, hats and jackets, yet THEY have
brand name recognition (albeit more limited) apart from The Doors.

 

The only difference here is that Junkfood
sold  Junkfood-branded shirts that said
“The Doors” on them, Winterland sold Winterland-branded shirts, hats
and jackets that said “The Doors” on them, and Converse will be
selling Converse-branded shoes that say “The Doors” on them. And, I
guess, that Converse is more well-known than Junkfood or Winterland. All of
them also sell plenty of apparel with NO name on them except their own. (Though
I am sure that Converse sells more than Junkfood or Winterland).

 

So, some take the position that it is okay
to put The Doors name on a piece of merchandise as long as the brand of
merchandise is small and/or unknown? Or is it sneakers/shoes in general? Or
Converse in particular? Or ALL merchandise in general? Or just
“successful” brands of apparel? Or is everything verboten except for
t-shirts? Or are THEY verboten now, too?

 

Some of these positions seem a tad
inconsistent – and I think part of the confusion may be that you are/were not
aware of how the merchandising business really works. In fact,
“merchandising” is a misnomer – it’s really a licensing business
(which is why I went to such great pains to elucidate everything above).

 

One last word about Converse as a
manufacturer, as a licensee, and shoes as a category of apparel – we considered
all of the following:

 

*I look at shoes, t-shirts, jeans and
leather & denim jackets as the “four corners” of the American
rock ‘n roll wardrobe, if there is such an animal. Think James Dean in Rebel
Without A Cause as the archetype. If one is okay with t-shirts, why not the
other three items? It doesn’t seem to really make sense. True, we haven’t done
shoes or jeans yet, but why not? Is there something intrinsically RIGHT with
t-shirts but WRONG with leather jackets? Or sneakers? But that’s okay for metal
die-cast cars? Is there something here that violates a tenet of The Doors as a
name, or as a band? Surely jackets have been synonymous with rock bands since
the ’70s at least! [ed. note: at LEAST we’re not making satin tour jackets]

 

*Sneakers ARE cool, to me, as an item of
apparel. As well as being one of the above “four corners” of rock
apparel that I mentioned above.

 

*Converse HAS been associated with rock ‘n
roll. True, more so with bands like The Ramones or Nirvana, but I kinda feel
like that’s credible company (again, a judgment call, for sure). And they are
doing/have done FOUR of these sneaker lines: The Doors, The Grateful Dead, Kurt
Cobain, and Black Sabbath.

 

*Converse has been around for 100 years, and
they’re an American company, as The Doors are an American rock ‘n roll band
(though Converse’s product IS made overseas, like most others).

 

*Their 100th Anniversary motto for 2008 is
“First In Sports, First In Rock ‘N Roll.”

 

*WE designed the shoes (in collaboration
with Converse, of course). I think they’re cool-looking, understated, and I’m
proud of the design. I also think they’re definitely the coolest of the bunch.
I’m sure you may disagree (I’m going with the odds here).

 

*As I understand it, we are the ONLY artist
of the four who refused to let Converse distribute our shoes to mass-market. We
will ONLY be doing two categories of retail: High-end stores, like Saks Fifth Avenue,
and limited “specialty stores” like Jernees. And overseas.

 

*You surmised in your letter – or at least
insinuated – that Converse wooed us with money when you wrote, “So  make an offer of beaucoup bucks….”
However, this deal is primarily a marketing device, in our eyes. What I mean by
that is, the advance and royalty we received for this deal were very, very low.
Insanely low. In fact, I think it may be the smallest advance deal we have ever
done. We clearly did not do this just for the money. So, why else DID we do it?
Simple – we want The Doors name to be promoted
and marketed to as many people as we can, especially people who may not hear
The Doors on the radio, and/or may not go to record stores – it’s a chance to
reach a whole new stratum of potential Doors fans that we otherwise may never
be able to get to. We feel that Converse will promote
The Doors, as will the retailers that carry them. People will see the name of
The Doors, they will see photos of the band, they will see our logo, and maybe,
some stores will put up Doors displays (though that is not a part of the deal
and is completely up to each store – I’m just being hopeful). We also feel that
as kids wear these shoes, their peers will see The Doors name, and their
awareness will be raised – hopefully enough to go check out the music!

 

*Lastly, we are NOT using music in ANY WAY,
SHAPE or FORM here. No music at all. Just putting out Doors shoes. That happen
to be manufactured by Converse. And, I presume, Converse will promote them and publicize them. Trunk advertised
Doors shirts manufactured by Trunk. There was nothing wrong with that. I’m sure
Liquid Blue, Junk Food and Winterland have done ads, too, as well as co-op ads,
and retail displays.

 

Look, I know that the “business”
part of a rock ‘n roll band can seem a bit hoary, a bit crass, and NOT what the
music was all about. And I agree with that. It IS a bit crass, in the end,
isn’t it? It’s NOT the pure music. It’s business. But I have made a certain
inner peace with myself over it. I’m not suggesting that you follow me, or that
you are even like me – but I AM saying that I have a heart, and a soul, and I
am human, and a HUGE Doors fan, too. I mean, I GET it. I love The Doors. I love
Jim Morrison. I love his poetry. I love The Doors’ art and music. I want to
keep it real, and pure, and alive! And here I am, presiding over an army of
marketing, promotion and sales
entities whose aim is to market, sell and profit from the free ideas and ideals
that gave birth to the music in the first place. It IS a bit of a conflict –
and I acknowledge this. I wrestle with it. I debate it with myself – and
others. I think of myself as a sensitive guy (here’s a Kleenex, in case you
were getting moist), and I want to do the best, most honest, forthright and
credible job for my heroes. Part of that job is making them money and a profit
from their band, its history, its name AND its music. And where profit motive
comes into play, there is ALWAYS an element of the crass. You quoted Ray Davies
in your piece, and perhaps an equally on-point quote is from Bob Dylan, when he
sang, “Money doesn’t talk, it swears.” Again, I am human, I
acknowledge this, and I try to do the best I can with it.

 

Bob, you say in your letter, “Don’t
tell me that things have changed. These are my memories, this is my life.”
And while these ARE your memories, Bob, and surely your life, I am here to tell
you that times HAVE changed, and radically – said changes that you have
reported on yourself, over and over.

 

I am faced with a business landscape that is
horrible. Record sales are declining 20-30% every year. On top of that, MOST
CDs in the nation are sold by “big-box” retailers (i.e., Best Buy,
Wal-Mart), who don’t CARRY “catalogue” or Box Sets as a rule! They
tend to carry the Top 40 current hits, because they’re not IN the record
business. They use CDs as “loss-leaders” to get folks into their
store, so they can then sell them a washer & dryer. And they have
rightfully surmised that MOST folks want the current hits, so that’s what they
carry. They don’t carry deep catalogue at all. Yes, Internet and digital sales
are up – and so is vinyl. These are all good trends (great trends, actually),
but they don’t come NEAR replacing the losses sustained by the overall record
business. And terrestrial radio, long the bastion of classic rock, nee, of ALL
rock ‘n roll for decades, is losing influence, and listeners, seemingly by the
hour. Please don’t forget, also, that in the case of The Doors and many other
classic rock artists (like another one of my clients, Janis Joplin), these
artists have passed, hence we don’t have touring or new music to rely on in
helping us expose new generations – two VERY powerful tools, forever gone from
our available arsenal.

 

My task, then, my question, is: how am I
going to expose these coming generations to The Doors if I don’t have
terrestrial radio, new music coming from my artist(s), record stores OR
touring? One of the (but not the only) answers is that I have to expose these
generations to The Doors as an idea, as an institution, as a certain way of
seeing the world, as well as a band, in a way that each different generation
can relate to. As a NAME that’s cool to them and to their peers. There are SIX
distinct generations, all of whom behave and respond differently, that we
market and promote The Doors to:
Baby Boomers, Post-Baby Boomers,Gen X, Gen Y, Millenials…and soon,
Post-Millenials.

 

And how do we get to them? Not to YOU, per
se – you already HAVE a relationship with The Doors, and you expect that
relationship to go a certain way and have The Doors treated in a certain
manner. But to the NEW generation(s)? How do I reach THEM? They are used to
different things than we are, and they accept certain things that WE (you and,
to a certain extent, I) may find repugnant or undesirable. They are influenced
by, and in turn want to influence, their peers, just like I did when I was a
kid, and just like I am betting you did, too. But make no mistake – IF YOU ARE
BEYOND YOUR TEENS, YOU ARE NOT THEIR PEER (nor am I). How YOU think is very
different than how THEY think. I appreciate the differences. I abhor many of
them. But in the end, I respect them, and I deal with them, because it IS
reality. These differences are clearly not something I am making up – I’m
merely reporting them, as you have yourself many times.

 

We can continue to do things exactly as we
would have a generation or so ago, keep The Doors all to ourselves, and go on
about our lives. I think a certain number of new fans would never discover The
Doors if that were to happen, though. Still, we can try to avoid the occasional
missteps and overreaches that sometimes occur as we continue to try and insure
that new kids will discover my heroes – whether that’s through a peer, a
parent, a videogame, or a Doors sneaker. I am just trying to illustrate, again,
HOW and WHY we decided to move forward with a Doors shoe in addition to our
other Doors apparel. The only possible exception is that, in this case, there
was not much of a money consideration here – it was purely an exercise in
marketing.

 

We all discussed this move, and we all
approved it. The question that remains is, did we misstep? Did we cross some
invisible line? Were we wrong in our ideas? Have we missed something? We KNOW
that not everyone will agree. We’re not trying to get everyone’s approval. The
Doors NEVER did that. But we ARE trying to look at HOW we do things, and why,
and make sure, to the best of our limited human ability, that we stay as true
as possible.

 

I know that I will never convince anyone
that is firmly to one side or the other of any particular ideology, or idea.
And I am not even going to try to take on THAT “fool’s task.” You
have your opinions, you are entitled to them, and I respect them. All of them.

 

You have made your feelings known. I have
now exposed mine here. I have tried to explain how we came to this conclusion
(and others). I hope we can both respect each other enough to take what each
side has said and chew on it. I know I’M chewing on some of the things YOU
brought up.

 

In the end, I do truly feel it’s a Doors
sneaker, just like we have Doors t-shirts or a Doors messenger bags (and NOT a
Doors Christmas ornament). In the end, Bob, it’s only rock ‘n roll, as I’ve
oft-quoted Mick ‘n Keith – but I LOVE it.

 

“Long Live The Lizard King,”
indeed!!

 

Go Obama/Biden.

Peace.

Love.

 

-Jeff Jampol

Manager, The Doors

 

 

CHANNEL GUIDE: Thurs – Wilco

 

 

Compiled by Blurt Staff

 

206 digital, satellite and hi-def channels and nothin’ on?
Not likely. Here are BLURT’s top music television picks of the day. The time is
followed by the network/cable/satellite channel, then the name of the program
and/or featured artist(s). All times are EST. For a comprehensive hour-by-hour
listing, go to the VH1 Rock On TV site.
Note that for certain channels, shows frequently repeat during the day on or
subsequent days.

 

 

TIME (EST) / CHANNEL
/ PROGRAM / ARTIST(S)

 

 

7:00 AM ABC: Good Morning America: John Mellencamp

 

8:00 AM PBS: Sesame
Street: Plain White T’s

 

8:00 AM TVONE: Tom Joyner Sky Show: Al Green

 

1:00 PM Rave HD Concerts: Razorlight – Live at the Trabendo
in Paris

 

2:00 PM FUSE: Steven’s Untitled Rock Show: Taking Back
Sunday

 

2:00 PM Ovation: Bill Wyman’s Blues Odyssey: Buddy Guy , The
Rolling Stones , Howlin’ Wolf , Eric Clapton , Elvis

 

Presley , John Lee Hooker

 

4:00 & 7:00 PM Ovation: Live from the Artists Den: The
Swell Season

 

7:00 PM TLC: LA Ink: Cruefest w/Mötley Crüe

 

8:00 PM Biography: Charles Manson

 

8:00 PM MyNetwork TV: Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

 

10:00 PM Ovation: Nine Hundred Nights – Big Brother and the
Holding Company

 

11:00 PM Sundance: Live from Abbey Road: Elbow, MGMT, Alanis
Morrisette

 

11:30 PM & 1:30 AM Comedy Central: The Colbert Report: Wilco

 

11:35 PM CBS: The Late Show With David Letterman: John
Legend

 

11:35 PM NBC: The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Fall Out Boy

 

12:05 AM ABC: Jimmy Kimmel Live: T.I.

 

12:35 AM NBC: Late Night with Conan O’Brien: Pink

 

12:37 AM CBS: The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson: The
Damned

 

1:35 AM NBC: Last Call with Carson Daly: Apocalyptica

 

2:00 AM PLD HD: Pet Shop Boys: A Life in Pop

 

Neil Halstead w/New Vid, Nov. Tour

 

English songwriter is
now solo after two bands.

 

By Mandy Rodgers

 

 

Following stints in bands Slowdive and Mojave 3, Britain’s Neil
Halstead is busy working on a solo career. His first album by himself was
released in 2002 on 4AD, but Oh! Mighty
Engine
found a home at Brushfire Records earlier this year. You can read
the BLURT review HERE.

 

 

 

Halstead is set to tour the US in conjunction with his second
album and his new video for the song “Paint a Face.”  The video was directed by Emmett Malloy and
shot in Cornwall,
and we’ve got it at BLURT. Check it out HERE.  

 

 

Neil Halstead’s Tour
Dates:

 

Nov. 6 2008    9:00 p.m.
Schubas Tavern    Chicago,
Illinois

Nov. 8 2008    8:00 p.m.
The Drake hotel    Toronto,
Ontario

Nov. 10 2008    9:00 p.m.
Maxwell’s    Hoboken,
New Jersey

Nov. 11 2008    7:00 p.m.
The Mercury Lounge  New York, New
York

Nov. 12 2008    8:00 p.m.
Music Hall of Williamsburg /w Mark Kozelek    New York, New
York

Nov. 17 2008    8:00 p.m.
Jammin’ Java    Vienna,
Virginia

Nov. 18 2008    6:30 p.m.
World cafe Live 
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Nov. 20 2008    10:00 p.m.
The Earl    Atlanta, Georgia
10:00 PM