Rock's Backpages Library Rock's Backpages

Ben Fong-Torres

Ben Fong-Torres

Ben Fong-Torres is one of the legendary names of rock writing. One of the first writers and editors at Rolling Stone, Ben worked for the magazine for many years, writing seminal profiles of the leading rock figures of the late '60s and '70s. He is the author of the Gram Parsons biography Hickory Wind and of The Hits Just Keep On Coming, a history of Top 40 Radio in America.

Pic: Dan Dion

List of articles in the library by artist

Hank Ballard and the Midnighters: Hank Ballard: The 'Twist' and Turns of a Rock Pioneer

Interview by Ben Fong-Torres, San Francisco Chronicle, December 1985

HANK BALLARD wrote and recorded ‘The Twist’, but it was Chubby Checker who had the big hit record. With the early R&B group, the Royals, ...

The Beatles, George Harrison: George Harrison: Harrison in the Haight

Retrospective by Ben Fong-Torres, San Francisco Chronicle, December 2001

IT WOULD BE a stretch to say that George Harrison ever left his heart in San Francisco. ...

James Brown: He's So Good, He Says

Interview by Ben Fong-Torres, San Francisco Chronicle, February 1986

JAMES BROWN is a litany of hit songs and personal titles. He's the Godfather of Soul, the King of Soul, the Living Legend of Soul, ...

James Brown: Papa's Got A Brand New Hit

Report and Interview by Ben Fong-Torres, BAM, April 1986

"CALL HIM MR. BROWN," a colleague advised me on the eve of my first meeting with James Brown. "Or he might not talk to you." ...

The Byrds, Gram Parsons: Gram Parsons: The Father of Country Rock

Retrospective by Ben Fong-Torres, San Francisco Chronicle, 1991

GRAM PARSONS wasn't exactly bursting with credentials when he came up for consideration as a member of the Byrds in the early spring of 1968. ...

David Byrne, Talking Heads: Talking Heads' Byrne Chats Up His Movie

Interview by Ben Fong-Torres, San Francisco Chronicle, October 1986

THE LAST TIME we saw David Byrne on the big screen, he was herky-jerking his way through a Talking Heads concert, doing his chaotic, turkey-necked, ...

Donovan: The Graying of Mellow Yellow

Interview by Ben Fong-Torres, San Francisco Chronicle, July 1987

Donovan admits he feels a little creepy at his ritzy hotel gig ...

The Doors: Jim Morrison: Last Meeting With a Fallen Star

Memoir by Ben Fong-Torres, San Francisco Chronicle, 1991

NEAR THE END of his 27-year life, was Jim Morrison – as depicted in Oliver Stone's new movie, The Doors – a fat, abusive, alcoholic, ...

Grateful Dead: Land of the Dead

Report by Ben Fong-Torres, Rolling Stone, 1995

WHEN IN THE MID-SIXTIES San Francisco came to represent nothing left to lose, there was a handful of identifiable pioneers who changed the face, the ...

Al Green Is Still in Love With You

Profile and Interview by Ben Fong-Torres, TONEaudio, June 2008

WHEN THE REVEREND Al Green decided to return to singing love songs, he did more than revive his pop music career. He may have saved ...

Jimi Hendrix: Eddie Kramer on Jimi Hendrix's Valleys of Neptune

Interview by Ben Fong-Torres, eMusic.com, February 2010

EDDIE KRAMER'S credit on Valleys of Neptune is co-producer, along with Janie Hendrix (Jimi's sister) and John McDermott of Experience Hendrix, the company owned by ...

Chris Isaak: Teen Idol or Tin Elvis?

Profile and Interview by Ben Fong-Torres, GQ, April 1987

CHRIS ISAAK, whose first album, Silvertone, drew clusters of stars from critics at the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and many points in between, ...

The Jackson 5

Profile by Ben Fong-Torres, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 1997

CALL THEM what you want – the Jackson 5, the J5, the Jacksons – they were, in the end, Michael and four of his brothers. ...

Jefferson Airplane, The Tubes: Groupies: They're Still Grabbin' for the Stars

Report and Interview by Ben Fong-Torres, San Francisco Chronicle, September 1984

Sweet Spencer,So many feelings I have experienced with you that you have become a part of me. The other day, from out of a heavy, ...

Huey Lewis and the News: Huey Lewis: It's Hip To Be Nice

Interview by Ben Fong-Torres, San Francisco Chronicle, February 1987

BOB BROWN was a young, successful stock trader from New York who got transferred to San Francisco, settled in peaceful Mill Valley, happened onto a ...

Joni Mitchell: Chalk Mark In A Rain Storm

Review and Interview by Ben Fong-Torres, Chatelaine, June 1988

Joni Mitchell was a folk star in the '70s, ignored in the '80s when she turned to jazz. Her new album, which tackles everything from ...

Michael Nesmith: Mike Nesmith: Ex-Monkee Puts Parts Together

Interview by Ben Fong-Torres, San Francisco Chronicle, March 1985

On TV, Michael Nesmith says he'll be 'the big cheese, the honcho, the stud duck' ...

Mickey Newbury: On the Porch With Mickey Newbury

Interview by Ben Fong-Torres, AllMusic.com, January 2000

MICKEY NEWBURY is 60, and he's slowed down a bit, spending much less time on the road than at his home in Oregon, where he's ...

Yoko Ono: Then and Now

Interview by Ben Fong-Torres, San Francisco Chronicle, September 1987

YOKO ONO looks impenetrable behind her trademark wraparound sunglasses, a sober demeanor and a never-ending haze of cigarette smoke. ...

Lou Reed: The Prince of Darkness Lightens Up

Interview by Ben Fong-Torres, GQ, September 1986

I NEVER SAW the Velvet Underground during their five-year lurch through the New York music scene. From 1965 to 1970 I was on the left ...

The Rolling Stones: The Stones

Report and Interview by Ben Fong-Torres, California Living, 1985

ON ITS LATEST tour, the band pulled in a cool $30 million. How? Ask its leader Mick Jagger who, at thirty-eight, still leaps with satisfaction. ...

Linda Ronstadt: Performing Is Not My Gift

Report and Interview by Ben Fong-Torres, TV Guide, May 1984

SHE LOOKS SO darling, standing there on a Santa Barbara, Cal., stage in front of Nelson Riddle and his 43-piece orchestra, ready for the first ...

David Lee Roth - Hyperactive, Irrepressible, Self-Satisfied

Interview by Ben Fong-Torres, San Francisco Chronicle, February 1985

DAVID LEE ROTH bounds up the wide, concrete steps from the forest that is his back yard toward his mansion. This, his visitor says, reminds ...

Dusty Springfield: 'That Noise Is the Joy…'

Retrospective and Interview by Ben Fong-Torres, AllMusic.com, September 1999

IT WAS just one of those things. I interviewed Dusty Springfield for two hours in Beverly Hills one afternoon in May, 1973, for Rolling Stone. ...

Frank Zappa: The '60s Mother Still Breaks Social, Musical Convention

Interview by Ben Fong-Torres, San Francisco Chronicle, 1984

STOP THE presses! Frank Zappa, that mother of a curmudgeon, has been spotted actually smiling! Get out the red ink – he even chuckled once ...

List of genre pieces

A Last Farewell To Bill Graham

Obituary by Ben Fong-Torres, San Francisco Chronicle, November 1991

BILL GRAHAM was a movie of a man. His 60-year-long life, which came to an end in a helicopter crash in Sonoma County the night ...

The Singles Scene

Report by Ben Fong-Torres, GQ, April 1987

AMONG THE many mini-debates raging in the record business is the future of the 45-revolutions-per-minute single. It was born in 1949, came to life by ...

back to LIBRARY

COPYRIGHT NOTICE