After touching on an interview that I once did with Ozzy Osbourne in yesterday’s entry, my good friend Marty (the 365 bars guy who is taking a well-deserved rest right now after completing his quest…stay tuned for information about a new website courtesy of Marty) asked about how many interviews I’ve done, and which were the best and which were the worst.
As I said in my reply, that would really be a task. Every person I’ve met, famous or not, has left me with some sort of knowledge or insight that I didn’t have before. I’ve interviewed many people, I’ve merely talked to many more, and I’ve simply met even more than that. Each meeting could probably be a blog entry, not just bringing up interview points, but telling the great stories that surround each interview, each meeting, and each feeling of “wow, I just talked to someone famous”.
So I thought what I would do is just pick out a few memorable meetings/interviews/encounters and try to relate a little bit about what I remember about the encounter. This one’s for you, Marty!
Rick Springfield – This was my first professional interview in radio. I was working at WWCT in Peoria, and Springfield was coming to the Prairie Capitol Convention Center in Springfield (THAT was a promotional bonanza with the name tie-in). I hadn’t even been at the station for a year, and the program director, Rick Peterson, said that Rick Springfield was going to call the station to do a phone interview on a Thursday afternoon at around 5 p.m. Quite simply, Peterson was going to be on the air, and nobody else was going to be around, so he asked if I wanted to do it. Even though I wasn’t much of a Rick Springfield fan, I jumped at the chance. I was told to just talk about the new album, not to mention his current role on the soap opera “General Hospital”, and keep it brief. I followed all three rules, and it came off ok, except for the part where I kept stuttering and stammering like a schoolgirl. Rick must have sensed that I was a rookie, and still gave me a great interview.
Sting – This wasn’t an interview, but a backstage “meet & greet”. My wife, Melinda, and I had only been married about a year, and she had never gotten to go backstage with me. It was her birthday, and since I was working at WBNQ at the time, we were able to go backstage before Sting’s performance at ISU’s Redbird Arena. Melinda’s brother-in-law didn’t believe we were really going to meet Sting, so he requested a special autograph. He wanted it to say “To my good buddy Jim, rock steady, Sting.” When Melinda approached him and started telling him what to write, Sting replied, “This isn’t an autograph, it’s a fucking letter!” but was very gracious about it. He must have sensed my wife’s awkwardness, because when she realized she hadn’t gotten him to sign anything to her, she approached him again, and as he started to sign something, he looked up and jokingly said, “Hey, I never forget a face…get the fuck out of here!” That night I was also wearing my journalism hat and reviewed the show for the local newspaper, The Pantagraph. Sting’s website is pretty inclusive, and if you dig around you’ll find my review on his site, accredited to me!
Steve Walsh – The on-again-off-again lead singer of Kansas had just left the band for the first time, and had formed a new band called Streets. I was working at WWCT in Peoria, and Streets were appearing at the Peoria Civic Center opening for Loverboy. Walsh had agreed to come to the station the afternoon of the show for an interview, and I was given the job of driving the station manager’s car to pick him up and take him to the studio. He was very quiet on the way to the station, but very nice. The person doing the interview, Jeff Murphy, was told not to ask Steve anything about Kansas…but he did anyway. Steve was very nice about it and said that he left the band on good terms and they were all still friends, and that Kansas was still doing great. As soon as we got in the car on the way back to the auditorium, I mentioned that I heard Kansas was about to break up. He kind of shrugged his shoulders, thought for a second…and then starting to unload about the other Kansas lead singer and principle songwriter, Kerry Livgren. “You know, Kerry Livgren really FUCKED that band!” was the way the whole rant started. “He wanted me to preach to people! He would bring in these songs about giving up your material possessions, and I would say ‘Wait a fuckin’ minute, Kerry…didn’t you just buy a new PLANE?’” You could tell that it was something that he really needed to get off his chest. When we got to the arena, he wasn’t quite done yet, so I put the car in park so I could hear more “and another thing that pisses me off about him…” Finally, he stopped, took a breath, and said, “Hey man, thanks for the ride…and for listening. That’s all off the record, right?” I assured him it was.
Well, there’s just three…more to come!