There's little doubt that Governor Jerry Brown of California is the man to watch, possibly this Presidential race, certainly the next. But he had never before sat down for the kind of extended talk he had with radical journalist Robert Scheer for the Playboy Interview. The mood was more that of a college dorm than of a governor's office. For instance, in a small, inexpensive restaurant, where Brown sat chatting with the interviewer--while a security man nearby kept a watchful eye--a young man at the next table leaned over and said, "Jerry Brown? I hear you're doing the Playboy Interview. When's it coming out?" Brown asked, "Why?" The young man replied, "Because I really want to know what you have to say." After the last exhaustive session with Scheer, which was combative though still friendly, Brown remarked, "I have 150 requests for interviews, but from now on, I'm going to refer them to this one."
Playboy, April, 1976, Volume 23, Number 4. Published Monthly by Playboy, Playboy Building, 919 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Ilinois 60611. Subscriptions: In the United States, its possessions and Canada, $24 for three years, $18 for two years, $10 for one year. Elsewhere $15 per year. Allow 30 days for new subscriptions and renewals, Change of address: Send both old and new addresses to Playboy, Playboy Building, 919 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60611, and allow 30 days for change. Marketing: Herbert D. Maneloveg, director of Marketing Information: Nelson Futch, Marketing Manager: Lee Gottlieb, Director of public relations. Advertising: Howard W. Lederer, Advertising director: Don Hanrahan, associate Advertising Director; Jules Kase, Advertising Manager, 747 Third Avenue, New York, New York 10017; Chicago, Sherman Keats, Associate Advertising Manager, 919 North Michigan Avenue; Detroit, William F. Moore, Manager, 818 Fisher Building; Los Angeles, Stanley L. Perkins, Manager, 8721 Beverly Boulevard; San Francisco. Robert E. Stephens, Manager, 417 Montgomery Street.
The world record for snuff taking has been set by Hermann Schnatz of West Germany, who sniffed one sixth of an ounce of snuff in 53 seconds, beating the previous record by two seconds. After the contest, Schnatz sneezed with such force that his glass eye was dislodged and it sailed across the room into the judges' box. "We are quite used to this sort of thing," said the championship organizer. "Last year, we had four lost dentures and a rupture."
Voted in for the most sensible solution to a sticky dispute since King Solomon: two Iranian youths who, both in love with the same girl, decided that they would smash their motorcycles together at full speed, with the survivor of the crash getting the girl. They were both killed.
Back in 1964, when I pulled into Nashville as a greenhorn songwriter, I had the pleasure of sharing a woman with the late but great Jimmie Gee Joe Bob Baker Carter Russell, Jr. I asked him how he wrote his many hits. Jimmie Gee smiled that famous smile and said, "With a blue pen." I knew right then that I would make it big in the country world. I had a whole suitcase filled with blue pens.
In his first book, a biography of George S. Kaufman, Howard Teichmann demonstrated a profound admiration not only for his subject but for all the men and women who formed that august clan of wiseacres known to us as the Algonquin Round Table. So it comes as little surprise that Teichmann's second book, Smart Aleck (Morrow), demonstrates a similarly profound admiration, bordering on downright reverence, for the alleged founder of the renowned Table, Alexander Woollcott. Reverence is not a good atmosphere in which to write a biography. The Kaufman book worked because Kaufman managed to live up to most of the author's claims, but, after touting the great Aleck as a super wit, all Teichmann can seem to come up with as proof are several rather sophomoric excerpts from Woollcott's reviews; e.g., "The leading man should have been gently but firmly shot at sunrise." Astringent maybe, but witty? Even at the Round Table, Woollcott seems to have been one-upped by everybody, including the waiters. Not that he didn't have other talents--he was, as Teichmann points out, somewhat of a Renaissance media man. In the 50-odd years of his life, he was a drama critic, war reporter, actor on stage and screen, director, playwright and radio-show host who is more or less credited with having discovered the Marx Brothers, Fred Astaire and Paul Robeson, among others. But his major talent, like Oscar Wilde's, lay in the premeditated cultivation of an articulate personality, an achievement that was later distilled into the character of Sheridan Whiteside in The Man Who Came to Dinner. Woollcott may have served as the model for the irascible and temperamental Whiteside, but the lines were conceived and written by Kaufman and Hart. The real Woollcott was, underneath all the pretense, a bitter and lonely man. The fact that he was asexual, having been born with a hormonal imbalance that resulted in a certain effeminacy, probably had a great deal to do with this, but Teichmann makes only several superficial allusions to this condition, preferring to wax rhapsodic on his subject's numerous charitable deeds. Chances are Woollcott, the critic, would have liked this book; as Teichmann points out, he was eminently vulnerable to the maudlin.
You might want to discuss the decline and fall of the Roman Empire between courses at The Palace. You see, at this, the most outrageously expensive and relentlessly elegant restaurant in New York (420 East 59th Street), finishing an eight-course meal takes at least three hours. And if you're an overreaching bitch like most New York restaurant mavens, you will be frustrated: The food seems to have no defects. But how about the decor? Yes, it is too "relentless." But the flowers, the napery, the china, the silver, the furniture, the silk wall coverings are truly beautiful. Aha! You pick up your cut-glass wine goblet and you ask Frank Valenza, the owner, "Is this, uh, Waterford?" "No, but close." "Baccarat?" "Close again. Drop one of those babies and I'm out twenty bucks." Is that any way for the owner of what may well be the world's costliest chow hall to talk? Valenza used to be an actor. He still is. And The Palace is his finest performance. Valenza obtained his chef from Lutèce, which used to hold the title in the New York French Restaurant Snobisme Sweepstakes. His waiters discuss the repast with you in scholarly terms. At least one offering on L' Escriteau, as the menu is labeled, Gravlaks du Roi Olav (cold salmon in a dill marinade), is named for royalty, the reigning monarch of Norway. The Palace's staff won't let an ash soil your close-to-Waterford ashtray before replacing it with a clean one; each course is a fascinating game of show-and-tell as it is presented on a silver salver decorated with bread sculpture. (We seem to remember that one of the creations was a Spanish galleon under full sail.) Before the main course, your palate is refreshed with lemon sherbet and cassis, as it just might be a tad weary from the courses that went before (perhaps a sensational lobster salad with walnut oil or a saffron and mussel soup or soft-shelled crabs in caviar butter). Speaking of caviar--and when aren't you, in a place like this?--the Beluga caviar wrapped in Scottish smoked salmon in a delicate pastry boat made us understand what a certain food-fetishist restaurant critic meant when she wrote: "My taste buds shrieked with joy!" Ours merely squealed. Roasts are served from a silver trolley that must have cost Valenza as much as a secondhand Bentley; the Côte de Boeuf Grand Palace au Madère is the finest meat you're ever likely to try. After all this, can there be more? Yes, there's another big salad, a cornucopia of rare and costly cheeses (no Stilton, oddly) and then an avalanche of desserts. You get two mousses for the price of one: chocolate and strawberry. Then our waiter tried to force some crepes suzette on us, but we drove him off with one of Reed and Barton's finest dessert forks. The wine list, as they say, is très cher: A bottle of Pavillon Blanc du Château Margaux, 1973, light and dry and one of the wine list's real cheapies, costs $25; and a nice red, a Chambertin-Clos de Bèze, Louis Jadot, 1972, is $40. The Palace sommelier ("just call me Sanath") claims to be the only Hindu sommelier in the U.S. Now, here comes the cruncher: The prix fixe, which doesn't include wine or any other "extras" like Havana cigars, is $50 per person. Valenza says, "I don't want that $30 prix fixe crowd. They break glasses." And, yes, Virginia, there is a suggested service charge: 23 percent. That pays for the show-and-tell scholarship, the ash-free ashtrays and the general niceness and neatness of The Palace staff. So plan on spending at least $200 for two at The Palace. You'll feel a little guilty, maybe even a little evil, when you leave this extraordinary restaurant. But you won't feel bloated: The portions are just the right size and, remember, if Louis XIV customarily took four hours to dine, you can spare three. The Palace is open for dinner only, 6:30 P.M. to 10:30 P.M. Tuesday through Saturday; Valenza accepts all major credit cards and letters of credit from Swiss banks. Reservations: 212-355-5152.
George Segal plays Sam Spade, Jr.--and plays him very engagingly--in The Black Bird, writer-director David Giler's tonguein-cheek sequel to The Maltese Falcon. Movie buffs or cultists who have enshrined the original film classic may need reminding that Falcon was never more than a piece of beautifully gilded trash, with which director John Huston and star Humphrey Bogart climbed to the big time on the back of Dashiell Hammett's tough-talking private eye. "Oh, God, I hate my life," groans Segal as Spade's reluctant son and heir, still grubbing around the seedier parts of San Francisco in the eternal quest for that priceless goddamn bird. The pursuit of new clues brings him into contact with freaks, flashers, a Nazi midget and "a professional killer working out of the phys.-ed. department at Berkeley"--played, improbably enough, by 1969 Playmate of the Year Connie Kreski. He also has frequent runins with Dad's loyal old secretary, Effie, whom he calls Godzilla (a role replayed with relish by Lee Patrick of the original cast), a mystery woman (France's Stephane Audran, obviously on a holiday romp in the U. S.), a gruff assistant (scene-stealing Lionel Stander) and an unwilling murder victim named Wilmer (Elisha Cook, Jr., another Falcon alumnus). While the performers maintain an exuberant and sassy tone throughout, Black Bird is basically a joke that can't be stretched quite as far as the film's allotted running time. The movie's nose-thumbing impudence becomes contagious, though, when several wary black brothers leap to their feet every time an outraged cop yells "Spade!"
Hard-core leavened with impish humor is the aim of Bang! Bang!--You Got It, writer-director Chuck Vincent's potpourri of pornographic fun and fantasy that often looks like a lewd, nude Laugh-In. The fun part--Mother Goose telling the story of Goldilocks and the Three Dildoes, or a What's My Line? parody called What the Fuck Do You Do?--doesn't work out too well, with the possible exception of some drollery among a trio of painted bodies loosely identified as The Talking Tits (one of which has a black eye on its nipple). There are several effective turn-on sequences, however--including a malerape fantasy with four comely molesters, a surprisingly lyrical sexual duet by an attractive couple who make love as if they mean it (a relative rarity on the porno scene) and an intense but amusing case of mutual masturbation over the telephone, practiced (on a split screen) by a guy and a gal with no visible sexual hang-ups. Overall, it's an uneven mishmash, though a welcome change from the tiresome old fuck-and-suck format. Vincent, at his best, takes a baby step toward disproving the notion that humor and eroticism are incompatible. Too bad he does not also defy the stubborn tradition that the boring, obligatory "come shot" is the sine qua non of a credible sex film.
Bo Diddley's stage persona has always been ultrablack, which is probably why Bo, of all the giants of original rock 'n' roll, has aroused the least fervor among white fans. Even usually astute rock critics curiously ignore both the importance of his contribution to the creation of the musical form we call rock 'n' roll and the fact that, almost alone among its pioneers, he sounds even better today than he did then. When he took the stage at Radio City Music Hall, during a revival show called The Royalty of Rock, he took it the way Muhammad Ali takes possession of a ring. In his black Western-gunslinger duds, with that same red, science-fiction looking guitar he has been playing for two decades slung low on his hip, his broad, black hat pulled down so that half his face was lost in ominous shadow, he seemed the very manifestation of I-am-your-world's-baddest-mother rock 'n' roll.
What really happened, to quote from an ad campaign for a hit movie of 1972, on the Cahulawassee River? Since that body of water exists only in the mind of poet-novelist James Dickey, we can't tell you. We can, however, report what's going on along the real river where the movie version of Dickey's novel "Deliverance" was filmed: It's becoming a hit with the white-water crowd. Playboy Research Editor Tom Passavant describes his adventures on the rapids:
The Catalog of Sexual Consciousness (Grove Press) takes up where the Whole Earth Catalog left off, in bed. Editor Saul Braun has compiled what amounts to a field manual for the vanguard of the sexual revolution. The book presents basic facts on such topics as contraception, abortion, childbirth, V. D., hygiene, masturbation and rape, in addition to listing reliable sources for further information. Braun and his contributors recommend books on everything from hot baths, nude beaches and underground comix to encounter groups. Gestalt therapy, tantric yoga and open marriage. Find out where to buy vibrators, sexy lingerie, S/M accessories, a coloring book of the female genitals or a porno novel written by a poet in residence at Yale. Perhaps the best part of the book is the section on the body politic, a history of sexual consciousness--it is an insightful summary of how and why we got so sexually hung up, and what people are doing about it. Included in this section is a nonjudgmental description of sexual lifestyles (homosexuality, voyeurism, S/M, etc.) that is remarkably sane. (The book opens with a quotation from Thaddeus Golas: "Whatever you are doing, love yourself for doing it.") It's been a long fight: Braun's extraordinary compendium celebrates the kind of victories that you won't see portrayed on television's Bicentennial Minutes. It should be required reading for everyone past the age of puberty.
Seymour Siwoff will add up anything. One day, he totaled the digits on his office door--1354--and discovered, much to his bliss, that they equaled 13, the same number as the floor his office occupies. "It made my day," he recalls. For Siwoff, there is something warming and elegant about numbers.
In the last few years, nirvana sales have dropped sharply. Christianity is still bullish among the 16-to-23-year-old buyers, but your common offerings--Buddha, Krishna, Mahara Ji, and so on--have proved to be fads more than anything else. In response to that, clever promoters in the faith business have tried a totally new approach to the problems of psyche, soul and karma by introducing a New Improved Model of Heaven.
Nobody cared until marijuana and Vietnam came along. It was only when those righteous, middle-class sons of professors got their asses busted and found themselves guests of honor at a kangaroo court and pièces de résistance at a punk party; when they found themselves eating beans, sleeping on concrete and sneered at by parole boards; when they found out about hard labor, about hard time, about no bail and illegal searches; then, only then, did prison reform become the subject of sweet, skinny chicks strumming away on guitars, movie stars and country musicians doing TV spectaculars, liberals in jail overnight for parading without a permit, then running home to write articles and books.
During the past year, a former girlfriend visited me. She is very petite-- a foxy little chick who has always been fun and delightfully liberated. It happened that the conversation drifted to the topic of the relationship between breast size and sensitivity. She claimed that because her breasts. were small they were more responsive and that was what counted, not size per se. Later, I realized that the women I have slept with fall into two groups--those with large breasts and those with small breasts. It seems to me that the small-breasted partners did get more pleasure from stimulation. What do you think?--T. R., Jamestown, New York.
Two years ago, with no family or close friends and facing life in the Texas state penitentiary, Tom Mistrot's future looked pretty bleak. His three crimes--two coin-machine burglaries and a marijuana offense--had been reduced to misdemeanors by the state legislature without affecting his 1968 conviction as a habitual criminal or the sentence that went with it. Neither he nor prison attorneys could get more than polite evasions from state officials, if they responded at all. Finally, at the urging of another prisoner, he wrote to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, which put him in touch with Playboy. His case was unusual and we reported our efforts to help in our issues of July and November, 1975. We're now pleased to report that, after months of often-frustrating negotiation and a great deal of red tape, Mistrot has been paroled. He is participating in the New Directions Club, Inc., a halfway house in the South Texas city of Victoria. There he will receive housing, counseling, training and help in finding a full-time job.
There are several impressive facts about Edmund Gerald Brown, Jr., and chief among them is that after only one year as governor of California, he is considered, at the age of 37, to be the most exciting potential candidate for the Presidency since John F. Kennedy. Time called him "the most interesting politician in America" and, at a time when most American politicians are held in only slightly higher esteem than used-car salesmen, his approval rating by California voters is an astounding 85 percent.
Jerry Brown is the most different politician in the country. He is young enough to have been touched by the lifestyle changes of the Sixties, particularly as an undergraduate at Berkeley, and, as a result, is given to a less pretentious style than most in his field. He has broken with the old Trumanesque rhetoric of the Democratic Party without losing the traditional Democratic voters--and while somehow increasing his appeal to Reaganites and Sunset Strip hippies alike.
Taxes Have Been despised since Biblical times. Today, outside of a few civics professors and some of the more ardent members of the League of Women Voters, nobody really wants to pay taxes. The only reason most of us do is we are afraid not to. With the Bicentennial drawing near, perhaps it is time to remember what we are supposed to be celebrating. It was, after all, a tax revolution.
Ursula Andress has an affinity for water. We have an affinity for Ursula Andress. This pictorial marks our fourth feature devoted to the Swiss-born actress. As near as we can recall, this is the first time we've seen Miss Andress on dry land. Her erotic aquatic career began when she emerged from the sea to win James Bond's heart in Dr. No. A truly statuesque beauty, she had America by the eyeballs. Photographer John Derek provided Playboy readers with another glimpse of Ursula in a 12-page pictorial titled She. Reclining in the rushing waters of a mountain stream, Miss Andress scored a five on the international white-water rating. Long before Deliverance, people began to dream of running such rapids. Encore followed: Ursula at play in a swimming pool. She brought new meaning to the concept of skinny-dipping. (You call that skinny?) This year, we get to see Miss Andress in The Loves and Times of Scaramouche. She plays Josephine--the lady who shared the throne with Napoleon Bonaparte. The spectacular comedy adventure is made more so by the Andress charms.
Spring in Sarasota, 1975. Twelve years since I had taken a contract to camp on the shores of Tampa Bay. Property of the Cincinnati Reds, I had sweated under the west Bay sun at AI Lopez Field, named for the then manager of the White Sox who had had his own pitchers doing 50 laps a day across the way at south Bay's Payne Park. Señor Lopez would, within 60 days, trade one of his pitchers for me, inadvertently foredooming my career. Later that year, the White Sox management declared that I would never go to a spring-training camp at Sarasota (continued on page 102)Short Season(continued from page 97) if I insisted on writing about baseball while employed as a pitcher. It was in the contract! The silliest of prohibitions. I could have raced thoroughbred horses, operated a saloon or written advertising copy for a living. That is: I could have gambled, pushed booze or lied a lot for profit. But publish for laughs an insider's notes on game playing? That was an invitation to a black-listing.
What we have here are pictures of The Tubes, the rock shock group from, you guessed it, San Francisco. Times have changed. You never saw candid photos like these when Elvis was king. Can you imagine Pat Boone posing with a naked lady? Lou Reed? Now you're probably asking yourself: Do The Tubes really look like this? Do they really take off their clothes in concert? The night we saw them, the audience was doing this kind of stuff in the lobby of the theater.
Until recently, hi-fi buffs shopping for a new component turntable had no choice other than to pay their money and take their change on units with one of two types of drive systems--rim and belt. The former turned the platter via an idler wheel; the latter utilized a vibration-reducing system of belts and pulleys. Both made the record go round and round--and both left something to be desired when it came to reproducing rumble- and flutter-free sounds. So what should the dedicated soundsman seeking true state-of-the-art excellence do? Take a look at direct-drive turntables--a sophisticated system that utilizes an electronically controlled A.C. or D.C. motor coupled directly to the platter. The benefit of this is two-fold: Not only are such potential sources of unwanted noise as belts and idler wheels eliminated but also the turntable's speed is virtually certain to be accurate, as the motor's shaft is mated directly to the platter, with both turning as a unit and therefore at exactly the same speed. One caveat: If you're a platter plopper--that is, if you prefer to stack your records on a changer rather than play them one at a time--forget direct-drive turntables. (Design problems preclude the manufacture of a direct-drive changer model.) If that doesn't hang you up, then, by all means, take the direct approach; as the saying goes, you ain't heard nothing yet.
Generally Speaking, we don't take much stock in astrology, but when our April Playmate, Denise Michele, informed us that she fits every characteristic of a Gemini woman to a T, we couldn't resist the temptation to compare our interview notes with her horoscope. "Gemini women," our book says, "are attracted to sunny climates." Check; Denise has lived in Kailua, Hawaii, since she was eight. "They resent the drudgery of routine jobs." Right again; Denise has been a model for the past three years, because "it's a job I can do freely without having to work in an office." So far, so good. "Geminis have a way with words and often become writers." Sure enough, Denise is a part-time poet. (Example: "If you're afraid to love, to care/Because of hurt or pain,/By the time you decide to trust,/I'll be gone.") Geminis have mercurial moods. "Sometimes I'm easy to get along with," says Denise. "Other times, I'm temperamental." They're contradictory. "I like a man to dominate me, but I also need my freedom." Hmmm. It was sheer astrological probability that we even came across her in the first place. She was working at a temporary job in Hawaii when the soon-to-be man in her life walked into her office. Knowing a good thing when he saw it, he promptly asked her to lunch. She accepted, they hit it off, but Denise was going out with another man at the time and decided the best course was to leave town for a few weeks. So she went to L.A., where she just happened to walk into an employment agency one day. She was sent to Playboy Models and from there she was just a lens click away from becoming a Playmate. Most of the photographs on these. pages were taken on the island of Maui and on Big Island (Hawaii). Denise notes, with some amusement, that exactly one week after the shooting, a dormant volcano erupted on Big Island, not too far from where her pictures were taken. How's that for fooling with Mother Nature? Looking back on it all, Denise says that if it hadn't been for her guy, she wouldn't have become a Playmate. Maybe not, but we think it was in the stars all along.
Coming home early one afternoon, the husband heard sounds in the bedroom, pushed open the partly closed door and saw his wife and a strange man thrashing about on the bed nakedly locked together. The husband raced to his den, rushed back to the bedroom with a revolver and burst through the doorway. "You bastard!" he roared at the straining stranger. "I'm going to kill you right here and now!"
Simplicity, naturalness, earth tones with hot-color accents--apt descriptions for this year's warm-weather fashion directions and also for Nicaragua, that Central American Eden where we photographed our Spring & Summer Fashion Forecast. Here, in a coconut shell, is what's soon to be in store for your wardrobe: short-sleeved shirts--and suits--in a variety of patterns and fabrics, especially cotton; matching shirt tops and slacks as an alternative to the ubiquitous leisure suit; collarless sport shirts; evening double-breasteds; straw hats and silk scarves as accents; patterned jeans in both colorful and faded hues--plus plenty of lightweight parkas. Good shopping, amigos.
Adam, First Man: For starters, you gotta understand, it was very, very grim in Paradise for a long time. Hell, I was all by myself, nothing to do, nowhere to go. I used to go nuts at night. Weekends were the worst. I was alone, it was pitch-black at night and the only one to talk to was God and, let me tell you, His rap really started to get on my nerves after the first couple of weeks. Boy, what a bore that Guy could be. Sure, He was one hell of a good Creator, but when it came to lively conversation, forget it. Now, mind you, I'm not putting Him down--I won't make that mistake again--but, frankly, all He could do was talk about Himself and how He had created me in His image, and so on. God, was He proud of Himself. Quite honestly, I think He had an ego problem. He'd make something like the heavens and then He'd say it was good and then He'd make something else and that was good and everything was so goddamn good it would make you sick. And there was no disagreeing with Him--He couldn't stand criticism--one negative word from me and--whammo!--there'd be a goddamn thunderstorm.
It's a familiar scenario: You've been going steady with the same gorgeous, long-haired brunette for years now, and you have no complaints--she's sweet, great in bed, a good cook, great in bed, loving, great in bed--but suddenly you've developed this hopeless infatuation for this redhead or that blonde or the cute, short-haired secretary at work. You start having fantasies about redheads, blondes and short haired girls. After all, you're only human. One night, you come home from work and there's a strange, negligeed redhead in your bedroom. You flip your wig--she keeps hers on and the problem is solved. You've committed psychological adultery, or, as we prefer to call it, wiggery. To illustrate the infinite potential of wiggery, we took one ordinary, gorgeous, long-haired brunette (specifically, Nancie Li Brandi, our December 1975 Playmate, shown au naturel above) and outfitted her with a variety of hairpieces. Abracadabra and what have you got? A metamorphosis that makes Gregor Samsa look like an amateur.
Graced with manners pleasing to women, virile and handsome, Kyo, by the age of 18, had gathered a full ditty box of fingernails sent to him by women as pledges of their devotion. He then made the error of falling in love with a beautiful courtesan named Ichi-no-jo and, as a result, he was thrown out of his father's house, disinherited and banished.
Most Pinball Machines have a mechanism that awards the player a free game, regardless of whether he wins or loses, as long as he manages to score a certain number of points. So it is, friends, in the record industry, where it's OK to be out of work as long as your phone bills are paid up and enough people have your number. For instance, Elton John calls Neil Sedaka and--bang!--Sedaka is on the charts again. Clive Davis gets a phone call and the deposed head of Columbia Records gets a chance to take over a floundering company (Bell Records) and make a dramatic personal comeback with his own label, Arista. Indeed, there were comeback kids everywhere you looked--from Janis Ian to Les Paul--in 1975. Bob Dylan was back in public, actually rubbing shoulders with the people. Grace Slick, Paul Kantner and Marty Balin, ex of the Jefferson Airplane, were back with the Jefferson Starship--making everyone who grew up in the Sixties and went through the whole acid-love trip feel more than a bit old (but happily so).
When the Plague decimated Europe back in the Dark Ages, people worked off their anxiety by dancing on graves. We're drawing no conclusions about the current state of America and the disco madness that's upon us, but the worse things get (checked a paper lately?), the more fun everybody seems to be having. There's no reason for you not to join the crowd--so, if you're going to be in Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Memphis, New York, Philly or San Francisco any time soon, here are a few spots you may want to visit.
He was a child prodigy. The young musician's talents were exploited as soon as he was old enough to perform for men of importance in his day. By the time he was eight years old, he had completed works that are still recognized as classics. And once his creative efforts began, they never ceased until his death in 1791. That's right, 1791. Those words describe Mozart, but they could almost describe Stevie Wonder, if we leave off the last five words. Mozart became concertmaster for the Archbishop of Salzburg in 1768, which made him a star of sorts but didn't pay very well. In 1963, Stevie Wonder (then Little Stevie Wonder) became concertmaster to the Archbishop of Detroit, Motown head Berry Gordy, who signed Wonder to the Tamla label. Wonder may not have made much money at first, but last year he renewed his contract to the tune of 13 megabucks, a nice tune by Stevie, though not his most original. One of the ways you can gauge if someone has really achieved superstardom is if his songs become so commonly heard that Muzak picks them up (appropriately laden with strings) for use in office buildings. Wonder has been making that circuit. He's also been on every major TV music show and he walked away with four Grammys in 1974. This year, he walks away with a slot in Playboy's Music Hall of Fame. It seems a little strange putting a 25-year-old man at the height of his creative power into a hall of fame, but Wonder has been around a few blocks since "Fingertips" came out when he was 12 and turned him into an overnight sensation. One of the things that has kept his work so vital during the two decades he's been in the business is his unique voice. It is one of the most arresting and versatile in the business. And he uses it the way a virtuoso uses a violin. He can do anything he wants with it. Another factor in his success is that he never lets his imagination stagnate. He is constantly trying strange new things, such as running his voice through a synthesizer. He has also produced his own records for the past few years, and has produced such talents as the Spinners. But his career hasn't always been so rosy. His Motown contract ran out when he was 21 years old, and for a while it looked as if he might not continue with the label. In a series of confidential negotiations between Wonder and Motown brass, sessions later reported to have been a power struggle, the terms were hacked out. Both parties apparently came out on top; since that time Stevie has produced his best work ever and each album has contained at least one major hit. Then, on August 6, 1973, he was nearly killed in an auto crash in North Carolina. The rumors flew for weeks: Stevie has suffered brain damage; he's going to be like a vegetable. Then came "Innervisions," another remarkable step in his electronic r&b career. His already remarkable life has now taken yet another strange turn. He's recently been playing harmonica in recording sessions for other musicians, such as Billy Preston and Herbie Hancock. Now that's a sideman.
Craig Drives a '62 Volvo with rust-pitted chrome, a Bic pen stabbed into the padded dash for easy note taking, windows that won't roll down, a heater that won't turn off and wipers that haven't wiped in three winters. In the back's a pile of newspapers (including Red Flag, Creem and Swing), three books (Tales of Power, 1984 and The Inner Game of Tennis), five baldy Dunlops ... and, on top of the whole pile, a Martin acoustic and a Les Paul electric. He's headed for a session. Thirty-three dollars an hour. Three hours' guarantee for just showing. But it ain't all nirvana in musician heaven. Last night, his percussionist, Sodie, and he split a bottle--of Nyquil.