Pic from www.led-zeppelin.org

Andy Johns: The man Behind The Legends.

Record producer Andy Johns talks about some of his experiences over the years, including work with Van Halen, Eddie Money, Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones...

Well, how are you?
Well, I'm all-right. It's been a bit hectic this week but I'm getting things sorted out.

Yeah, I hear you've been to Florida and back.
No, not me.

Oh, OK.
I was gonna go, now it's not Florida, I've got to go to Chicago and then San Francisco.

Well that's a nice schedule.
…to do some guitar stuff with Rick Nielsen from Cheep Trick and Joe Satriani.

Oh really! What are they doing?
Well it's for this…Desmond Child is producing, executive producing this Latino artist called Alejandro Guzman. And he wrote all the songs and they just wanted Scott and I to sort-of cast around and get some guitar player types. And that's what we came up with.

You can't get past Rick Nielsen and Satriani can you?
Well they wanted Eddie Van Halen but he didn't want to do it 'cause he said Warner's wouldn't let him.

Right, OK.
That was his excuse anyway.

(laughing) Yeah, I might get on to him in a bit…, now whereabouts do you live Andy, full time?
I live in L.A.

You do? OK.
I've been here for years.

Yeah, I thought as much.
I've been here since '75 and you know, I started working here. The first time I came here was 1970. I was just saying to Annette, jeez I've been kicking around this town for thirty-one years now.

Actually there's not many people that I know that have survived L.A. that length of time.
Well, you know, it's funny, man. You know, obviously I'm an English guy but it really seems, obviously very much like…, this seems real to me here. I know that sounds strange but there's something about…, once you've been in L.A. long enough, even if you grow to hate it, it all starts to seem real. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing I do not know.

Oh, I love the scene personally, I absolutely adore being there. It's great fun. It's the hub of activity isn't it?
It's still where the action is. So look, do you have your tape machine on?

Yes I do, yeah.
OK so we're cool on that, good.

Yeah, yeah, I can't write that fast.
So what do you want to know?

Look I just want to touch on the work that you've done. I've been going back through, I've pieced together a resume of yours and you have quite an impressive career that not many could match.
Well, I don't know about that. I mean there's not many people that's been sort of at it this long.
You know, and I'm still going. Most of the people that I grew up with, like Tom Dowd and Jimmy Miller's dead, you know. My brother sort of retired. Bill Halverson, I don't know what he's doing these day. Bob Ezrin is still going.

But he kind of came along after I did anyway.
At least the first time I met him I think was in, '73, '74. So yeah, been at it for a long time man.

What do you put it down to? The fact that you can still get work after what, nearly 30 years.
Well, it's not as easy as it used to be, let me tell you.

There's so many more people out there that call themselves record producers. Also, by the, sort of, mid-90s . After the grunge thing happened. It was, well you know, why get Andy Johns? You know, he wouldn't understand this sort of shit, which is so stupid, you know. Because it's just music. What's the diff? You know, I've seen, I've gone through psychedelic, straight rock and roll, heavy metal, punk. You know, I've done orchestras, I've done everything. It's all just music.

So it got a little tough round about then, then all of the A&R departments got…, for a long time it was the same people pretty much going from one label to another. Some guy would be at Epic for 2 years, he'd get kicked out, he'd go over to Warner's for 3 years. He'd get kicked out of there, he'd end up at Capital. So you knew everybody.

Yeah, OK.
And then a lot of, a lot more people joined the business, most of whom didn't really have any credentials. You know, they had a CD collection and they'd been to a few gigs and maybe they played guitar for 2 weeks and they thought this qualified them to A&R records, you know. And they would tell me what they thought, like I gave a shit, you know. It's unbelievable. And so, you know, that was a bit frustrating. But things are settling down now.

Fantastic, fantastic. What's your favorite record from the…, I guess you have 2 stages, the '70s…
Well the one that sticks out for me most of all, that was a big watershed thing for me, was Exile on Main-Street.

Yeah, absolutely. And it's still regarded as an absolute classic.
Because I was a Stones fanatic, when they first came out, you know. My brother used to work with them, and I wanted to work with The Rolling Stones more than anything, in my life. If I get the Stones I would be, you know, I would have done everything I ever wanted to do. And I started working with them with Sticky Fingers. I did half of that and mixed some of it. But then the Exile thing, it was… They built the first mobile unit in Europe. Like a truck with gear in it, you know. Before that, if you wanted to record something live, some guy would show up in a van and you'd pull the mixer out and some speakers and you'd plug it in and hold it together with string. So we took their truck and went to the South of France. It took a year, which in those days was almost unheard of.

Yeah, absolutely.
And it was a life changing experience for me.

And the record came out great!

I still like that record. Mick doesn't like it.

He always puts it down. Anytime I see an interview about it, 'oh well, that bloody thing. We were not at our best'. It's actually bullshit because, I don't know, about a third of the songs, or several of them, were from previous sessions, you know. Going back as far as Let It Bleed sessions. And then the other stuff, from the South of France, 'Rocks Off' and 'Tumbling Dice' and shit like that came out bloody marvelous.

Oh absolutely. To this day it still makes Top-10 classic album lists.
He hates it. But whatever, you know.

Temperamental rock star.
L.V. disease (laughs). Lead vocalist disease. So there's that one and then of course the Zeppelin 4, you know, that was sort of...

What a classic.
Everyone always asks me about that, 'what was it like? Did you know it was going to be a …'. I mean at the time, obviously Zeppelin were just a dream to work with in the studio as far as the music went. Because they were so good. And it all went very quickly with those guys. You'd always get a couple of tracks a day. No hassle doing vocals. None of this two days on a vocal. “Oh it's my turn to sing now, OK.” Boom. A couple of takes and he's done. So you expected it to be good. Because it was then.

And then, because of 'Stairway to Heaven' I suppose, which I remember thinking at the time, this is all-right, I like this one.

Yeah, really?
It's funny because on those sessions I was trying to do a building song for a couple of years to beat something my brother had done.

Oh really, what was that?
I wanted to…you know the biggest building song of all time. I said Page, we really need a song that builds on this album. He went, 'Well I've got something that does that, wait until you hear it.' And that was 'Stairway to Heaven.'

Really! And what song were you trying to beat from your brother?
My brother had done this song with…he used to write with Steve Miller. A Boz Scaggs tune on the second album of theirs was a total rip-off of 'Jumping Jack Flash.' I mean the riff, completely, stone cold riff. And he called it something 'A Dime a Dance Romance'. But the way (he) had mixed it, it came in great and it just kept getting louder, as it went on. And I thought, I've got to beat that. And I tried a few things with Jethro Tull, didn't happen. So hey listen to this bit, because he didn't like 'Stairway to Heaven' because I worked on it. Usual shit.

And has he since relinquished his crown?
Oh I don't know. I don't think we've really talked much about Led Zeppelin. He got a bad taste in his mouth because on the first record he was supposed to be credited as producer. And after they finished it they didn't.
And so he was sort of anti-Jimmy Page. And of course I did a little bit of work on the second record. They came to Morgan Studios where I worked at the time and did a couple songs on the second record. And I don't know, Pagey just called me up to do the third one. That went OK. I think I could have mixed it a little better. We mixed the whole thing in about two, three nights at this studio at Island which really wasn't the greatest place to mix, it was great to track in. I'm sure if I mixed it now, it would sound a bit better. We sort of went on from there. Then on the fourth one, there was a bit of a falling out because I wanted to see this chick in L.A. (laughs) so I said, “We should go to L.A. to mix this record Jimmy, there's this place, Sunset Sound. I was just there and it's great. You'll love it.” OK, great.

So we went to Sunset Sounds, the room that I had used, they changed. It was completely different and I didn't like it. So we went into another room and sort-of floundered around for a few weeks and we thought it sounded wonderful. We brought it back to London and the rest of the band wanted to listen to it so we all showed up at Olympic and we put these tapes on and they sounded bloody awful.

Oh dear.
Pagey and I are literally cringing on the floor in the corner. So I got blamed for that. Understandably so I suppose. Well the last time I saw Jimmy, he told me that the mix we had done in L.A. of 'Levee Breaks' was the one that actually ended up on the record. Which I didn't know till all these years later. So I guess we got something out of it. Then I mixed the thing again at Island and it all got a bit weird. And I'd asked him for a co-production thing and he said, 'You deserve it but I'm not going to give it to you.' And then but Pagey, actually I mean he would have liked to work with me again I think but Bonzo wouldn't want to have anything to do with me.

Oh, OK. Didn't you give him loud enough drums or something?
No, I think he just fucking hated me (laughs). I think he just fucking hated me. 'Cause the last time I saw him he wanted to beat me up. We were at a club some where. And “Oh, you look stupid with that fucking hat on.” I said, “Well you get rid of your two bloody bodyguards and we'll do something about it.” And then, “All right, fuck you.” It didn't happen. Because after that, Pagey had me produce a band called Detective that was on Swan Song, that he originally was going to produce and then he couldn't do it, whatever, he was committed to something else. And he called up and said would I like to do it. So we were still pals you know.

And I still see him every now and again, hello, how are you? Obviously I learned a tremendous amount working with him.

Oh, for sure. I was going to ask you in regards to Zeppelin quickly, they were sort of like one of the pioneering bands of different layers in their overdubs and different layers of music, you know, guitars and stuff. Was it an absolute nightmare to try and put together?
Well no, actually if you listen to those records there really isn't that much over dubbing. Compared to what we would do now. It's bass, drums. If it's a rock tune, it's bass, drums, a guitar and then he might put on another track the solo and a counter rhythm or something and then there might be a few sound effects, maybe a little bit of Hammond or something. But it wasn't anything like what we do now. It was 8 track, 16 track those things were. But I mean, even on 'Stairway', if you listen to that, it's fairly simple. We cut the track with drums, John Paul played a Hofner electric piano, looked like a little upright. And I tried to get as much bottom end out of the left hand as I could so we have something on the bottom end when they were tracking and Jimmy Page played the acoustic and then John put bass on it and then Pagey, we put the two 12-stings, Rickeys which I did direct, that's why they're so twinkley…, that stuff. And then there's a main sort of electric rhythm when it kicks in and a solo. And the recorders on bookends type of thing. And that's it. It really isn't that much.

OK, so his guitar playing is just simply…
Well it's just because of his parts. His parts were so instinctively correct. If you listen to something like 'Ramble On' which I didn't work on but I wish I had. That guitar part of his that comes in on the last verse which really is a bit of a nick from the bass line that John Paul's doing, I mean that's probably the only real overdub on that apart from the knee slapping thing on the intro. So there really wasn't tons and tons of stuff. I mean 'Levee Breaks' that's bass, drums, 2 guitars and a harmonica, vocal.

That's pretty simple then really isn't it?

How about another English legend that you worked with, one of my personal favorites - Rod Stewart?
Oh, it lives!

A character and a half?!
Yes, very funny man.
Extremely funny guy. I mean there's two or three different Rod Stewarts that I counted in the years that I worked with him. There was, 'one of the lads', Rod. There's the 'I'm a huge rock star and you're not', Rod. And then there's the 'I've changed my clothes four times today, I don't know who you are when he comes to my house and Frank Sinatra's here.' But the one I spent the most of my time with was the hard working, committed to getting good music done, very, very hard working man who had fun when he was working and was very funny. Extremely witty guy. And a great singer.

Yeah. I've heard some interviews, they always make me laugh for some reason. Yeah, great singer.
Lot's of practical jokes.

Constant. You really had to watch out. You had to be aware that probably a joke was being played on you all the time. Example, one day…I'll give you one.
One day, we're doing this big string overdub. Just Rod and myself and the assistant engineer and this big string section, 36 pieces, something like that. There's, I don't know, 6 celli and one of the people playing the cello was this very pretty girl in a red dress. And Rod and I are in the control room are going, 'Whoa, look at her!' And trying to get the assistant to give her little messages like you were in school type of thing. And wanking under the mixer and running out…I remember we moved the conductor's podium at one point during the middle of a take so we could get a better look at her. And she sort of picked up on this. And then he goes, 'So Andy, what would you do to her if you had her out in the parking lot?' And I went, 'Ah, well you know I fuck her in the ass and then run around the front and gizz all over her face.' So he said, 'Andy, look.' And he put his elbow on the talk back button and turned it up really loud. So sting players man, they're pretty straight, little old Jewish ladies with blue tinted hair and I'm looking out the window and they're all, jaws on the floor and I obviously turned absolutely beat red. What do you say? But she was a sport, she came next door for a drink afterwards. Said, 'Sorry boys you're out of luck I got married last Saturday.' I think she had fun.

I do like that! (laughing)
So it was always…, you had to be careful. I used to wear clubs [pants] in those days.

Any you know, as soon as I'd sat them beside me, push them off, be running around. Every day I would do this and every day they would hide them. They'd be in the freezer, they would be nailed to the ceiling. The roadies had gotten up…the roadies were always in on these things. So it was awful. You really had to watch out. They got a jacket of mine. I bought this really expensive suede… I don't suppose I'd do that these days…jacket, and they knotted the sleeves. Four blokes tugging on the sleeves so it would never come undone. Cost me like twelve hundred bucks.

Oh dear! (laughing)
Never put that on again. So I took Carmine's [Appice] trousers, you know, he'd change into sweats. Because Carmine would get in on these things as well. So I got his trousers once and soaked them, put them in the freezer so they were iced trousers. He couldn't get those on. All sorts of wonderful gay little events.

It's amazing any music actually got made.
Well no…what would happen is, we'd start at twelve, Rod likes to start early and work diligently on whatever we were doing until about six, nip next door to whatever the boozer was, get slightly tipsy, come back, do the actual takes. And then work's done for the night, whoa let's have fun. You sort of hang around the studio for another 2 or 3 hours just getting pissed, fooling around with girls and telling a lot of lies. It was great fun.

Great stuff!
But the work got done, man. He likes to work. He's a good worker.

Yeah, well you're putting out an album a year basically then weren't you?
Well, yeah. But he was selling so many records. That one with 'Do You Think I'm Sexy?' and all that, I don't know that must have done a bout 10 million, 12 million.

At least, yeah.
That was his big peak then. And then we went…I did three, four records with him. Foolish Behavior…, I can't remember now. The last one was Foolish Behavior where Tom Dowd had actually been asked not to participate any more. But it was just us, school boys having fun. Actually I think we did pretty well. There's a couple of good things on that record.

Yeah, yeah. In fact I don't think ever Rod's basically made a bad album back then.
I don't know, some of these techno things he's done have left me wondering what the hell is going on.

Ah yes. I stopped buying his records in about 1990 unfortunately.
I don't know what goes on.

He's still a great singer.
He's still a great singer.

Yes, yes, absolutely. In the '80s you moved on to sort of … hard rock more often.
Well yeah, I mean the '70s went into the '80s quite nicely. I was still working with Eddie Money.

I love Eddie Money.
Eddie was a gas. I mean some really good rock and roll albums done with old Ed. I was still working with him a bit and then Ronnie Wood. I did an album with Ronnie Wood. Hughes/Thrall album that I really liked, I don't know if you ever heard of that.

Oh, absolutely.
A lot of muso's like that.

Absolutely! In fact I've got that here to talk to you about.
It's funny, I was just talking with Pat the other night. Pat [Thrall] and I are still really good mates.

Excellent, excellent!
Wonderful, wonderful man and probably of all of the guitar players I've ever worked with, he's just as good as fucking anybody I've ever worked with. I mean he's really one of my favorites of all time. And not many people know because he never really became the guitar hero that I see him as.

I saw him live with Meatloaf. Fantastic! I mean, I love the Hughes/ Thrall album.
Hughes played stuff really that just had me weeping. Seriously. Because he's just, you know, whatever he's got in his soul, he doesn't have any problems translating that to music. He's very, very soulful player. Pat, and technically just an absolute expert. And I'll never forget one day, I said to Pat, you know we need bottleneck on this, you don't play bottleneck do you? He says, no I never learned that but wait, I can do it with the whammy bar. I sat down one afternoon and taught myself how to do it with the whammy bar. I said, kid, give me a fucking break. I want the real thing. He said, no, listen to this. And you'd never known it wasn't a bottleneck. I swear to God!
Just fucking magic man.

Wonderful. Have you…actually in waiting for the interview to call you, I actually tried to give Glenn Hughes a ring to get an update, to say G'Day.
Oh really?

Yeah, because I'm a huge fan of his.
What a voice!

He's just so good. Sometimes I don't think he quite does the right material.
He's on this R&B…I don't mean rap music. He's been trying to be Stevie Wonder for a long time and I don't know whether it's the right thing either.

Well I think he should concentrate on being a rock singer because there's none better.
Yeah. It's unfair man. It's not difficult for him at all. He's got more talent in the end of his little finger than most people would have in several incarnations.

'Oh sing now. OK'. And he'll go out,' I don't want to sing, give me another burrito.' Glenn, go and sing. 'Oh, all right.' And half-heartedly and these fucking notes are coming out and he's going…you can see he's going to go for this note and you going, he's never going to get there and he makes it and then he'll do a third above and you just shit yourself. It's not fair man.

Absolutely. Are you at all tied up or heard any of the Hughes/ Thrall 2 sessions that are gong on right now?
Well I don't know. Are they doing anything?

Yeah, they were - on and off again…Off again now I think…
Well I know they did bits and pieces. I thought it was sort of on hold at the moment.
Pat hasn't mentioned it much to me in the last six months. Maybe he just feels that I would be disappointed to hear about it. I don't know not being involved. I know they were starting to do it and then Pat was going, you've got to work with this, and then they did a bit and then they didn't do any…I don't know whether they are still doing it or not.

I'll ask you briefly about Eddie Money. He's one of my personal favorites. I did an interview with him once. It was mid-day L.A. time and I think he was already half pissed.
How long ago was that?

That was only 3 or 4 years ago I think.
Oh! Really!

He didn't sound in the best of shape.
Because Eddie's been, 'I'm straight, I'm straight, I'm straight.'

Yeah, I heard that too.
The last time I saw him, I was sitting in this bar in New York at the Mayflower Hotel with this guitar player friend of mine who's always going on about Eddie Money this, Eddie Money that. What was he like? And who do I see coming through the door but young Edward who's supposed to be straight, pissed out of his mind doing naughty things in the kitchen with the waitresses.
Then he comes upstairs and says to me, 'Andy, hey kid, you really shouldn't drink so much' as he falls off his chair. (laughing). He slid off it slowly as he went on the floor he's still telling me, 'Jesus Andy, you've got to stop with the booze kid.'

He's such a character.
Well he's the best liar I've ever known in my life. He'll sit next to you and tell huge whoppers about you! While you're sitting there! It's unbelievable!
One night, we called these 2 chicks, I don't know, but this will give you an idea. We're at the Tropicana Hotel, a real dive, and we called these 2 chicks from Barney's Beanery and we get back to the room…………unprintable!………….. Eddies on the other bed and he's numb, just like…da da da…nothing. He jumps off the chick and goes, “'Hey baby, this must be the best you've ever had! My huge thing in you love mound, oh yeah!” I just burst into hysterics and lost it completely. I mean he'd even lie about that to the chick, when he can't even get it in (laughs)!
Another time he had done this very naughty thing to me. We were doing this session, it was like 3 in the fucking morning……………unprintable! (but it involves Nuns - seriously!)…………So you can't print that one either.

No, I'd better not! (laughing)
We used to get into all kinds of trouble.

He was a funny guy. It's one of the better interviews I've ever enjoyed doing. I asked him about something, he goes, “Oh fuck man. That was 3 rehabs and 2 ex-wives ago.”

I thought, WTF??…he's a rock star isn't he?
Well, I would love to do another record with old Ed but he seems to have dried up a bit.
I talked to his wife about a year ago for a good hour. He was off somewhere doing something. We were really, really close for 5, 6, 7 years. He was godfather to my first son with Annette. We used to hang out and get in a lot of trouble. That's why they never really let us do an album with just me and him. Except the last time we worked and everyone else just sort of packed up and gone home. I said Ed, you should let me come in and fix this record and we spent a lot of money and it wasn't a big hit. Had far too much fun than necessary.

What a character.
In fact I've got this great story about those sessions. Listen to this one. John Nelson, the guitar player who is an absolute sweetie and a really good blues player but a bit shy and like all of us, a little bit paranoid. And we're doing this guitar overdub and its Eddie's idea so I was wandering around while they worked together. Didn't really have to be there. And a friend of mine called Les Dudak who was like a hot shot guitar player in L.A. in those days came wandering in, sits down, puts his boots up on the mixer and I know he's going to start telling John Nelson what to play and I went, fuck that. Oh Les, come here… a little bit of catching up and goodbye. I went back in and John says to me, “Oh Andy, thanks a lot man I hate having other people... It's like having Jeff Beck standing there or something like that. I said, I know, so I got rid of him. So I go out of the control room and who's coming towards me up the corridor: Carmine and Jeff beck. I said, ”Jeff quick, hide, hide, just simple stuff, do what Andy does.” So I just sort of, with my back to the control room wall, sliding down the wall. Jeff's like, OK, I'll do this. John's playing away. He can see me out of his peripheral vision. Finishes his bit, swivels around in the chair to go, “What do you think Andy?” Then he sees Jeff and goes, “You c*** Andy!” (laughs). I said yeah it's OK. Thanks Jeff, goodbye. Jeff's “What was that?” Sorry man, I'll come see you in a minute. “You c*** Andy!” how could…the timing. You couldn't wish for that to happen.

No. That was brilliant.
I also learned quite a bit with old Eddie. Because we would sort of room together and stay in places together so I would be more involved than I would have. For a while in the middle of the '70s because I fucked up so much after the Stones and had a little bit of a problem and all that, went back to just engineering for people. Which was fine with me. Because it was really quite hard to produce in those days. Didn't have all the knowledge. So I was happy doing that. But with Eddie, I could sort of practice doing that without having to take the full responsibility you know.

So that was fun. And he's a very clever chap.
Yeah. He's a great songwriter.
Hard on drummers.

He's hard on drummers is he?
Well, yeah. Eddie's hard on everybody. You have to know his humor really. But I've seen…reducing them to tears. People storming out and throwing drumsticks. And he'd go on and on about the fills. He would be very specific about what fills he wanted. And I used to think he was just driving them potty. You know I do the same thing now. Perhaps slightly more diplomatically. But it is. It's necessary man.

Well if you get a good result in the end I guess.
Well yeah! I mean the fills…you've got to play this song you know. And to connect parts together if it's the wrong fill it just jerks it around. You lose the flow. So you've got to get those right. If the guy's playing something…you hear what you want. And then explaining it is a little tough sometimes. You learn how to do that in the end. It's actually just telling the guy what to play until he does it right. As opposed to giving up, going on, must be driving you nuts. That was too bad.

Get it right.
We're going to get this right. OK. Once you've done a few things and the guy trusts you, then it's totally cool. If you ask him to play rubbish, the he just thinks you're a dick. Which, of course, isn't good for anybody.

No. Obviously not. Tell me about one of my favorite albums of all time, is Van Halen's For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge.

How did you get roped into…because that was a pretty important album for them.
Yes, I really had a grand time doing that. I met Eddie once at the Madison Square Garden and we hung out and did a lot of silly things and then I was working over at the old Warner Brother's annex called Amigo with this band called Broken Hobs. And there was Eddie. And we started chatting. And then the next thing I know, he called me up, “Well, you want to come in and work with us for a few days and see how it goes?” I think Alex mainly…Alex really wanted…He always wanted to sound like Bonzo. And I remember the first time he plays me this one fill of 'Stairway to Heaven', he goes, “Make my snare sound like that.” I said well, you know, yeah right! Sure, no problem. So we went from there and it took a very long time.

Yeah, that album was put back several times wasn't it, for release?
Well it took a year. Because it's Eddie's house and as far as producing that record went, they would do like a demo because he was writing as we went. We'd do a demo, then we'd do another demo and then we'd actually start in on it. And I wouldn't really start making suggestions until we'd done a couple of demos on it because the thing is still evolving. When it stopped evolving, then I started putting my 2 cents worth in. OK, now you've got me here, you're going to stay there. How about this and this? So I'd have to keep quiet for 10 days, 2 weeks. The only song I really got in on from the very beginning was the…'Right Now.' We demoed that on just the piano and I think I changed the B section and the verse around. And I had the idea for the Hammond. I wanted to make it a bit Steve Winwoody.

And then we tracked that 3 or 4 times just to get the drums spot on, looking for the fills. Looking for the right fills. And we really nailed it in the end. It was a blast working with those guys. It' just…it sort of went on and on you know?

Yeah, yeah. They're a band which…well they seem to run on tensions don't they?

Would that be true to say?
Well, I wasn't quite aware. Sammy wasn't around much. Sammy would come in 1 or 2 days a week to see how we were doing. Give him a rough mix. Sammy and I didn't really hit it off you know. So that's why he wanted Ted Templeman to come in to finish the record. Ted ended up doing the vocals with Sam, which was fine with me. Fuck this, you guys go to the Amigo and do the vocals and I'll keep working with Ed. And Sammy really thought I'd freak out and split because he brought Ted in. And Ted and I just became fast friends you know and worked really well together. So it sort of backfired on him a bit. But Eddie and I were really quite close then. I was his new best friend.

Yeah OK.
And we worked together brilliantly and I got along great with Alex. Had a grand old time doing that record.

Ted Templeman is a name I've been struggling to find anyone who knows too. Is he still kicking around?
Well Ted is no longer at Warner's. I mean after 25 maybe 30 years all that shit over at Warner's. The old guard are all gone. He's sort of semi-retired, lives up in Santa Barbara and I do not have a number on him.

Good to know that he's still kicking around.
Well yeah, Ted, he had a barrel chunk of stock with Warner's because of all those years. So I don't think he really has to work.

Great bloke though.

Yeah OK. Great producer for sure. You said the album took a year, you mentioned Eddie's health there, what was the concern there?
Well there was no health problem on that record.

He was fine. Valerie would get a little concerned sort of about seven o'clock and eight o'clock at night when Eddie and I would be sort of cavorting, shouting and screaming.

Yeah sure.
So she put an end to the day, off you go type of thing. But everything was fine. Eddie's had a few problems lately but he seems very convinced he's got it sorted out.

Yeah, that's what I've heard. Positive. Positive. Very good news.
Had his hip replacement thing and then this awful other thing came up but he tells me he's got it beat.

That's great news.
Yeah it is good news.

That's what I heard. Do you…well there's a lot of stuff going on with the band. Are they working, whatever now. Are you working with them in any capacity?
Well you know, they're a bit cagey about all that stuff. I know what's going on but I can't talk about it because that's for them to talk about.

Yeah, for sure.
There's one or two things that nearly happened to them, there's some other stuff they've got up their sleeve and it's all kind of up in the air right now, you'd have to ask them.

Yeah, that's fine, that's fine. They did produce or they did record three songs with David Lee Roth last year, you weren't the producer for those tracks?
No. And they were going to put a whole thing together but it fell apart.

That's what I heard.
They were going to do a whole thing and then it was, money and stuff. It all went down the tubes.

That's where I hear things are pretty much now, just sort of…
That's where they're at. They've got a shit load of stuff recorded. They've got enough stuff for a couple of albums down on tape. It's just, who's going to sing it, you know?

Yeah, that's what I heard. They can't seem to get to terms with Sammy or Eddie.

And I don't think Warner Brothers wants a singer number 4.
No. So we shall see. I'm sure someone will come to their senses at some point.

Yeah, well I hope so.
'Cause they can't just go on like that. But Eddie is still kind of watching his health as much as any thing else. That's what's going on.

That's important, for sure. What's the most recent thing you're working on, Andy? I heard something with Tom Keifer. Is that right?
Well Tom was going to do a bit of singing on this thing I'm working on with this Latino woman but apparently that's not to be. I was trying to help Tommy get a new record deal because he's got these new songs that are really, really good. His writing has just gotten better you know? But he was with Sony, with John Kalodner and then they got dropped for whatever reason. Mostly politics from what I can tell.

Yes, I heard that.
And now they're sort of shopping around and when it gets sorted out I'm supposed to work with them again.

Oh, good.
Give it another shot. Tommy and I are still really good friends. He's one of my best pals in fact.

Oh great, OK.
We talk all the time and he's a good mate.

Yeah, he's a good singer. I was looking forward to them finally getting some tunes out there.
Yeah, I tell you man I went to see them about 18 months ago at this club here, a big club and they blew me away. I mean live they were always pretty good but this one night they did me in. Really, really, they are so good now. And they just went out on this tour last year, played in front of, I don't know, a million people or something. There's Poison and themselves, and Warrant and a few other sort of wankers and they were blowing everyone away. And it's just amazing to me there aren't labels going, we've got to get you in the studio. It's so weird. The kids would love to have a record. The old fans and the new kids. You should see some of the email that Tommy showed me. It's outstanding. But the A&R people who think they know. It's Cinderella, that's all past and no one would ever go for that. Well the kids don't think that way. It's just the bloody people at the labels. They should change their name. Who are these people?

It's terrible. It really is. I know a label, I know there's a couple of independent melodic rock labels in Europe which would kill to have them on board. I don't know if they'd offer the money that probably…
Hang on, someone's at the door. Hang on.

Yes mate.
Yes, yes.

Yes, I don't know whether they'd be offered … can't offer the money that Tom might be looking for.
Well I don't know, it's not…I mean as long as it was the proper label that knew how to sell records. I don't think he wants millions of dollars just to sign anything. It will happen. It's just this thing they went through with Kalodner. He had them for three years and kept putting it off and putting it off and he signed a bunch of other sort of wally hair bands from the '80s which I never really saw Cinderella as. They're more of a proper rock and roll band.

They were.
And because of these things that they put out didn't do well, whoever was in charge over there said, well screw all of this idea and Cinderella got the boot at the same time. Which was OK with me because I don't think Kalodner would have let me work with them. Yeah I think he would have put the kibosh on that one. We're not exactly close friends.

Anything else you're working on currently, Andy?
Well, let's see.

Or recently that hasn't come out yet?
No. Can't say I have. I've been doing some work with this guy Danny Saber. We're going to do some drum sort of stuff for Pro Tools. I don't know whether I should talk about that.

And there's this other band Scott just dug up for me that are absolutely bloody marvelous.

Who are they?
They're called Sloth.

Yeah. Which is all right for a name I suppose.

Yeah, I don't know that I've ever heard of them.
Better than Dungarees I suppose. Well that's a good name too, who knows? And hopefully they're going to be on Blackwell's…Chris Blackwell's new label Pav. Which would be great for me because I haven't done anything for Chris Blackwell in eons. I used to love working for Chris, all those Free records and stuff. We used to get on really well. Mott the Hoople and Free I did for him. Average White Band, Bits and Pieces.

Yeah, wow!
He was a good guy.

OK. And he's got a new label together?
Yes, which is a good thing.

What style of music is Sloth?
Well I think Chris…it's the world music thing, right now. The last time I did anything for Chris, was that the motion pictures related thing? No that was with Denny Cordell, sorry. Denny Cordell and Chris were very close with each other. They sort of started off together and they used to cross pollinate a bit. That's another sad loss. Denny Cordell going.

I didn't hear that.
Oh he's been gone for about 6 years. Liver cancer.

Oh, Ok.
Wonderful bloke.

Yes it is.

Yeah. Too many good names going isn't there?
Lot's of people dead man. When Nicky Hopkins died it took me…I'm over it now but for about 2 or 3 years I would be working, I would go, I've got to get Nicky to play on this. Jesus, I can't do that anymore. He was just stellar, old Nicky was.

I think he was the best bloody pianist I ever worked with…I mean listen to 'She's a Rainbow' (sings notes). Without Nicky doing that, that wouldn't have been anything like…I mean that is Nicky. You'd be tracking away with them, you'd turn the piano off to see whatever and the whole thing would…what's this? You'd notice that the two guitars were actually going around what Nicky was laying down. House of cards would collapse. And he played with everybody. The Who and lots of stuff with George Harrison, I mean everybody, everybody. John Lennon. If you ever watch that thing on Lennon where they're at their apartment in New York and Yoko comes out and she goes, 'John, John.' And Nicky's sort of doodling away on the Wurlitzer. 'John, tell them they're jamming too much John.' He goes, 'Guys, you're jamming too much.' Nicky sort of looks up at the ceiling and keeps playing exactly what he was doing. 'Fucking, we're jamming too much.' (laughs) Get out of here.

Could that be possible?
Like, well, yes, that is possible some times. He was wonderful. Very funny man too.

OK. OK. Who, out of every one you've worked with, stands out as the most eccentric character?
Moony was pretty eccentric. I mean, there's been many.

They're rock stars.
I myself have been known to be fairly eccentric. I suppose Eddie Money was pretty eccentric. Zeppelin used to get up to some pretty weird games. Which is one of the reasons I started thinking, what's going on here?

I've heard about some of their exploits with fish!
Moony was obviously the be all and end all, beyond practical jokes. I never did that much work with him.

Keith Moon you mean?
Yeah, Moony…there's only ever been one of him.
Only ever been one of Moony.

Yeah, a legacy that's lasted.
No one's ever been able to outdo him. But then you know, it killed him you see. He didn't make it. He was only 33 or something.

That's tragic.
I mean everybody's a bit… I mean what do you call eccentric? I don't know (laughs).

Yes, mate. Yeah, I think I've asked you everything I possibly could I appreciate that. Apart from more VH gossip….
Well Ed started thinking he didn't have to listen to any body. And he fired everyone in the band. The only one left was him. Everyone else was gone. He even fired Alex.

Yeah. And they've been trying to get rid of Michael on and off for a long time. And I said, you're out of your fucking mind!
But Eddie thinks he's this sort of genius who really…We'll see. Poor old Ed's been going through a lot of shit lately. Can't say anymore…

No, no, that's fine. That's perfect.
So, are we through?

Yes Andy, thanks very much for spending so much time with me and sharing some amazing stories. Just awesome.
Take care!
Thanks, my pleasure.

Interview by Andrew McNeice. c. 2004 MelodicRock.com