TWO WEEKS THAT SHOOK THE WORLD

2024-02-20T04:23:40+00:00February 18th, 2024|Featured, Music|

On the 61st Anniversary of The Beatles coming to America on February 7, 1964, in Pan Am Yankee Clipper flight 101 from London’s Heathrow Airport, landing at New York’s Kennedy Airport to play The Ed Sullivan Show-- we present the oral history of the event that changed the world. But if it wasn’t for Jane Asher, and her eccentric family’s home on Wimpole Street, where Paul McCartney lived for years, and John and Paul wrote many of their early hit records, the story might have had a different beginning.

WILLIAM BURROUGHS TARGET PRACTICE

2024-02-01T17:14:21+00:00December 18th, 2023|Essays|

(Originally published on PleaseKillMe.com) For more than any other man, dead or alive, William S. Burroughs is the one responsible for introducing deviancy into the mainstream of American culture. As author of Junky, Naked Lunch, Nova Express, The Wild Boys, and Cities of the Red Night, to name a few, this is the man who is grandfather to the hippies and godfather to the punks, the guy who inspired Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and Neal Cassady to push it to the limit, the homosexual and avowed misogynist who accidentally shot and killed his wife in a drunken game of William Tell, the writer who became a member of the American Academy of Art and Letters, the lifelong junkie who shot up in squalid hotel rooms around the world and in the process managed to snag a Commander de l’Ordre Arts et Lettres from the French government for writing about it.

THAT’LL BE THE DAY! THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE LITTLE ROCK NINE

2023-12-18T04:17:07+00:00September 28th, 2023|Narrative Oral History Of The Month|

On the 66th Anniversary of the Integration of Public schools, I present “The Untold Story of the Little Rock Nine”— about nine Black high school students who were the first to integrate the whites-only Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957, after the Supreme Court ruled in “Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka” in 1954 that segregating Black and white students was unconstitutional. Central High School in Little Rock would be the major test case for integration. And the nine sacrificial lambs and exceptional nine Black students who had been selected to be thrown to the huge wolf pack of 2,100 mostly racist, white high school students, and became known as “The Little Rock Nine.

LEGS MCNEIL ON THE TIME SINEAD O’CONNOR TOLD JFK JR. TO F*CK OFF

2023-09-06T10:56:23+00:00July 30th, 2023|Music|

Sinéad was right to stand up against the Catholic Church since she had been committed to one of the “Magdalene Laundries” for five years for shoplifting and being incorrigible and had witnessed the horrors firsthand. But no one listens, and once people hate you for being different, the truth no longer matters. It doesn’t matter that Sinéad was right about Catholicism in Ireland, right about the “The Magdalene Girls,” right about the “Me Too Movement,” before it even had a name, right about abortion, right about racism in rap and hip-hop being unacknowledged by the music industry, and right about the Grammy Award members being slaves to fame and fortune and cowards for not speaking out on America’s ills, but that was the 80’s and 90’s.

VIDEO: LEGS TALKS TO PUNK LEGEND IVAN JULIAN

2023-09-06T10:57:34+00:00June 26th, 2023|Music, Narrative Oral History Of The Month|

Ivan Julian is a guitarist, singer-songwriter, and, as a founding member of Richard Hell and the Void Oids, a punk legend! Ivan talks with Legs McNeil about his long and colorful career, including his time singing for a Led Zeppelin cover band, playing Build Me A Buttercup night after night, the golden age of NYC punk, his times in London, Macedonia and Guantanamo Bay — and his new album, Swing Your Lanterns.

HOW A PUNK SUPERGROUP JOINED FORCES FOR A TV SERIES THEME SONG

2023-04-18T12:52:51+00:00April 17th, 2023|Music|

©2023 By Allison Rapp | Published: April 14, 2023 on ultimateclassicrock.com. Supergroups do not come around very often, but a new one was temporarily formed earlier this month. The Derelicts features some of punk’s and post-punk’s best-known figures: Glen Matlock of the Sex Pistols, Clem Burke of Blondie, Richard Lloyd of Television, and Ivan Julian of Richard Hell and the Voidoids. The foursome got together unexpectedly in early April at Julian’s Super Giraffe Sound Studio in New York City to record a punk-style version of “The Bowery,” a song from the 1891 Broadway musical, A Trip to Chinatown. Kris Gruen, son of the legendary rock photographer Bob Gruen, came in to sing lead vocals, and the new track is slated to be used as the theme song for the upcoming docuseries The Bowery Boy … Read More

PERSONALITY CRISIS: ONE NIGHT ONLY

2023-04-18T12:53:52+00:00April 17th, 2023|Essays|

Academy Award winner Martin Scorsese & David Tedeschi premiered their David Johansen documentary on Showtime this month. By Legs McNeil ©2023. It would be about 3:00 o’clock in the morning on the Bowery and I would’ve already spent all my money on beer, and Joey Ramone and Arturo Vega would be out of town with the Ramones, so I couldn’t crash at their loft, and I’d be walking back to the “Punk Dump” on 10th Avenue and 30th Street to the offices of Punk magazine in the basement of Hell’s Kitchen.

LIES JIM CARROLL TOLD ME

2023-03-29T14:37:34+00:00February 18th, 2023|Music|

Jim Carroll came to my studio apartment on St. Marks Place one afternoon on June 16th, 1995 to be interviewed for our book in progress, Please Kill Me; The Uncensored Oral History of Punk. Jim was in great shape and had one of those unmistakable New York City accents that left no doubt he was a native New Yorker. He first came to prominence when he published his memoir-in-progress, The Basketball Diaries in excerpt form throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s; most notably in the Fall 1970 issue of The Paris Review— and became the talk of the town.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS: ONCE-CLASSIFIED FILES ON JFK’S ASSASSINATION RELEASED!!!!

2023-03-29T14:35:50+00:00December 19th, 2022|True Crime|

In honor of the CIA releasing 12,879 documents Thursday, December 16th, 2022 by the National Archives, and the 1,491 documents a year ago today-- I present my chapter 34 from my book Tomorrow Is Canceled. Chapter 34 is entitled, “Something Is About To Pop,” about the apprehension of Lee Oswald inside the Texas Theater about an hour after President Kennedy was assassinated and about a half hour after Officer Tippet was murdered in front of his police car in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas.

GRUESOME PICTURES

2023-03-29T14:35:39+00:00November 22nd, 2022|True Crime|

A few years ago, I was driving through Dallas, Texas on my way to Los Angeles, and dropped by the Texas School Book Depository and watched in horror as hordes of tourists kept running into Elm Street to pose for selfies at the exact spot where President John F. Kennedy was shot. There was an “X” permanently marked on Elm Street so the gangs of sightseers knew exactly where to stand. Too often, when a national tragedy occurs in the United States it becomes an event or an argument, rather than the loss of human life.

SINEAD O’CONNOR: THE JOAN OF ARC SYNDROME

2023-03-29T14:31:49+00:00October 31st, 2022|Essays, Music|

It’s very rare that 34 years after you date someone, you get a chance to witness a documentary about what was going on in that person’s life at the time you were dating them. Remarkable, really, but I got the chance recently when Showtime premiered the documentary, “Nothing Compares,” about Sinead O’Connor by filmmaker Kathryn Ferguson.

INTRODUCING LIZ HAND AND A PREVIEW OF HER WORK

2022-08-22T23:58:41+00:00August 22nd, 2022|Essays|

Liz Hand is one of my favorite contemporary writers, as well as being a friend. As her website (elizabethhand.com) tells it; “Her work has received multiple Shirley Jackson, World Fantasy and Nebula Award, among other honors, and several of her books have been New York Times and Washington Post Notable books.” My favorite books of Liz’s are her critically acclaimed novels featuring her fictional character, Cass Neary, a bisexual, alcoholic, speed freak, who published an acclaimed photo book in the 1970’s, but has faded into obscurity, supporting herself by authenticating photos for weirdo collectors around the world. This is where the fun begins-- as inevitably someone gets murdered-- and instead of wanting to solve the crime, Cass wants to get the fuck out of town!

THE NOD MONASTERY: THE TRUE STORY OF HOW JIM MORRISON REALLY MET NICO

2023-03-29T14:34:08+00:00August 4th, 2022|Music|

We’ve all seen that horribly facile Oliver Stone film, “The Doors” and we still watch it anyway, even though it sucks– thus is the power of Jim Morrison. He still captures our inner belligerent souls. And Val Kilmer looked and imagined Morrison they way we believed him to be. If only Val had a script to work with. One thing that really bothered me was the scene in the movie, when Jim Morrison meets Nico and she says, “Hi, want to fuck?” Or something equally ridiculous. Nico wasn’t that vulgar, uncouth or stupid. But now for millions of kids, Nico is thought of as a moronic floozy instead of the serious artist that she was. I’m getting sick of bio-pics that get it all wrong and re-write the facts, which happen to be even more fascinating than the tripe we are fed on the screen. Which brings me to “The Nod Monastery,” my corrective of what really happened the night Jim Morrison met Nico, and I think you’ll agree it’s a lot more passionate and dramatic than anything Oliver Stone could dream up.

STERLING SPEAKS! STERLING MORRISON’S LAST INTERVIEW WITH LEGS MCNEIL, 1995

2023-03-29T14:31:19+00:00July 31st, 2022|Music|

©1995 and 2022 By Legs McNeil [Originally published on pleasekillme.com] Sterling Morrison (1942-1995) was the guitarist for the Velvet Underground, appearing on all four studio albums that the band made. He left the band in 1971 and moved to Texas to finish graduate school, became both a tugboat captain and a college professor. Legs McNeil interviewed him in New York in early 1995. At the time, Morrison was undergoing chemotherapy. Sadly, he did not live long enough to witness the answer to his very first comment in this interview. He died on August 30, 1995. The Velvet Underground were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame the following year.

PUSHING PUNK

2023-03-29T14:31:09+00:00July 29th, 2022|Music|

The book is squalid, evocative and often very, very funny — full of contradictory versions of the same story, all of which have some grain of truth — and that’s how real life is; his version, his version and the truth, which is still compromised

ORAL HISTORY OF THE MONTH – CALL ME: HERB ALPERT & THE REMAKING OF CHRIS MONTEZ

2022-07-16T15:20:36+00:00June 26th, 2022|Music|

(Or: How a Jewish Mariachi Trumpeter Turned a Chicano Rock ‘n’ Roller into an Easy Listening Pop Crooner) | Born in Los Angeles, a high school classmate and friend of Brian Wilson, rock ’n’ roll tenor and devotee of Ritchie Valens, teenage Mexican-American Ezekiel Christopher Montañez got a name change to Chris Montez and at nineteen had a Top Ten record in 1962 with Let’s Dance. Meanwhile, in another part of L.A., A Jewish singer, songwriter, and trumpeter named Herb Alpert formed a record label called A&M, and inspired by a group of mariachis at a bullfight in Tijuana, recorded a song called The Lonely Bull. The single hit the charts alongside Let’s Dance in the fall of 1962, and also made the Top Ten.

RAY DAVIES NEVER WANTED TO BE A SINGER

2023-03-29T14:30:35+00:00June 23rd, 2022|Music|

In 2009, Ray Davies toured America to promote The Kinks Choral Collection, which featured new studio recordings of some of Davies’ finest songs backed by the Crouch End Festival Chorus. He performed with the chorus at Town Hall in New York in November. Six of the songs from the classic, underrated Kinks’ album Village Green Preservation Society were included in Davies’ “choral collection.” On the forty-ninth anniversary of the release of Village Green Preservation Society, we present the following exclusive interview with Davies, conducted on Nov. 11, 2009 by Legs McNeil and Stacey Asip, in which Davies talked about his family, his working class roots and the early days of being a Kink. This version is condensed from a much longer interview.

DUNCAN HANNAH: THE CARY GRANT OF PUNK ROCK (AUGUST 21, 1952 — JUNE 11, 2022)

2023-03-29T14:33:35+00:00June 17th, 2022|Essays|

Dunc had it all; the charm, the clothes, the looks, the brains, the talent, and more importantly, he was not an asshole. He didn’t need an entourage, he enjoyed going to see his friend’s work, and he enjoyed explaining why he liked something or did not like it. He was extremely accessible and his take on “the work” was inspiring. And his manner was classy, in an unpretentious way; more Mid-West down home. And his smile was infectious.

JONATHAN RICHMAN: IN LOVE WITH THE MODERN WORLD

2023-03-29T14:29:27+00:00June 3rd, 2022|Music|

Ernie Brooks is a very likable fellow who was raised in New York and Connecticut by intellectual, liberal parents, which explains why he became a civil rights activist down South during the violent “Freedom Summer” of the early 1960s. Ernie’s a Harvard graduate who studied English literature, poetry, and rock 'n' roll, along with his college roommate Jerry Harrison, who later became the keyboard player for the Talking Heads. A chance encounter with Jonathan Richman led to a wild ride as one of the founding members of the legendary Modern Lovers, perhaps the greatest alt-rock, pre-punk, indie band that no one has ever seen.

HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY! REMEMBERING ARTURO VEGA

2023-03-29T14:29:16+00:00May 24th, 2022|Music|

Arturo Vega was the most optimistic, jubilant and fun pal anyone could wish for. If it wasn’t for Artie, Joey Ramone and I would’ve starved to death in those early days. He used to give us each a buck fifty so we could each buy a quart of beer and a pack of cigarettes. Joey smoked Winstons; I smoked Marlboros, at 75 cents a pack.

WHEN THE BEATLES MET ELVIS

2023-03-29T14:29:05+00:00May 12th, 2022|Music|

In one of his many interviews, John Lennon called it the most exciting day of his life. I rather doubt it, but then I grew up with the Elvis that was making movies like “Clambake” and “Girls, Girls, Girls,” so I was never impressed. Like Lennon, I loved Elvis’ early Sun Records stuff and believed Presley went to hell when he joined the army. Still, I would’ve loved to have been a fly on the wall the night the Beatles finally met Elvis. I hope you enjoy this!

THE BALLAD OF CYNTHIA PLASTER CASTER

2023-03-29T14:28:54+00:00April 30th, 2022|Essays, Music|

Cynthia was truly an original thinker and a meticulous goofy artist who took the job of casting rock stars’ erect “rigs” extremely seriously while never losing her sense of humor about the job at hand. Join me now as we listen to Cynthia Plaster Caster’s story….

G.G. ALLIN’S LAST DAY ON EARTH

2023-03-29T14:27:56+00:00April 1st, 2022|Music|

When I was doing a reading tour of the south last winter, I became friendly with Johnny Puke, from Charleston, South Carolina, where he books and manages the Tin Roof, a fun, dumpy punk club. Johnny told me that he was with G.G. the night he died and I thought it would be an interesting story to get on tape.

WHY WE STILL LOVE ANNA DELVEY!

2023-03-29T14:27:44+00:00March 19th, 2022|TV & Film|

When I first binge-watched nine episodes of “Inventing Anna” on Netflix a few weeks ago, I was appalled by the little sociopathic girl with the over-sized glasses, the crooked smile and that grating voice that reminded me of a broken fourth wheel on a broken grocery store cart; “You’re such a disappointment.”

NARRATIVE ORAL HISTORY OF THE MONTH: BUNNY YEAGER LAUNCHES THE SEXUAL REVOLUTION!

2023-03-29T14:27:33+00:00March 1st, 2022|Narrative Oral History Of The Month|

In 2001 I interviewed the delightful Bunny Yeager at the Lowe’s Miami Beach Hotel for The Other Hollywood, my narrative oral history of the porn film industry, and found her to be charming and forthright and underappreciated. Bunny had a fascinating life and really was one of the main liberators who helped launch America’s sexual revolution in the 1960s.

HOWIE PYRO SPEAKS — PART ONE

2023-03-29T14:26:33+00:00February 22nd, 2022|Music|

©2022 By Legs McNeil | In honor of Howie Pyro’s new liver and Jesse Malin’s benefit show for Howie’s medical expenses on Saturday, March 5th, I present Howie Pyro, the East Village Zelig, founding member of both the Blessed and D Generation.

JOHN WATERS TALKS PORN: THE MITCHELL BROTHERS, DEEP THROAT, TRACI LORDS & JOHN HOLMES

2022-02-10T17:23:45+00:00February 10th, 2022|TV & Film|

I called him and asked for an interview, and told him what I wanted to talk about—and he graciously accepted. I think he wanted to try out his new stand-up act on me, and as usual John was hysterically funny. In honor of Valentine’s Day 2022, I present to you John Waters on pornography—So get comfy, I think you’re going to enjoy this one….

THE STORY OF SUICIDE WITH ALAN VEGA & MARTY REV

2022-04-29T17:08:54+00:00January 25th, 2022|Music|

Suicide was anything but boring. Far from it. This was dangerous, wildly unpredictable, chaotic performance art. They were really quite a spectacle and left anyone who stumbled into their concerts at CBGB or Max’s with their mouth open, thinking, What the hell is this?

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