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Michael Lydon

Michael Lydon

I've loved music ever since I wore out Billie Holiday and Duke Ellington records in high school. 'Hit the Road Jack' introduced me to Ray Charles. A girlfriend turned me on to Chuck Berry, and we dug James Brown at the Apollo. In '64 I panned the Beatles in the college paper and praised Martha and the Vandellas instead--my first rock writing. After covering civil rights in Mississippi, I reported on "Swinging London" for Newsweek. An interview with John--abrasive - and Paul - charming - converted me to the Beatles. Then I transferred to San Francisco as Haight-Ashbury hippies made headliness. The Fillmore was my beat; Janis and Jerry my inside sources. At Montery Pop I sat mindblown in the press section.

Exciting days. My hair grew, I quit Newsweek, helped start Rolling Stone, hitch-hiked to LA to join the Rolling Stones on the wild ride to Altamont. My first book, Rock Folk, reflects the tumult of the times, writing now collected in FLASHBACKS (Routledge US/GB).

In the 70s I met pianist Ellen Mandel and got a Gibson flat-top, a harmonica, a Bob Dylan songbook, and started writing songs and climbing on stages. We worked unpaid with the equally unknown Robin Williams. I wrote my second book, Boogie Lightning. We moved to New York, opened for Muddy Waters in Boston. In the '90s I wrote Ray Charles: Man and Music. Today I'm writing books and playing East Village clubs with a jazz combo. When I get back grins from couples singing the chorus, I thank the greats who inspired me, but I'm also thinking, "Look out world, here comes Michael Lydon!"

Books: Rock Folk (1971)
Boogie Lightning (1975)
How to Succeed in Show Business by Really Trying (1985)
Writing and Life (1995)
Ray Charles: Man and Music (1999)
Flashbacks (2003)

CDs: Love at First Sight (1999) (Brite Records)
Mike on Mike (2002) (Brite Records)

List of articles in the library by artist

The Action: London 1966

Book Excerpt by Michael Lydon, 'Boogie Lightning' , 1974

IN THE FALL OF 1966 the Action were at their zenith, one short step above complete obscurity. For one all too brief moment they had ...

The Beatles: Lennon and McCartney: Songwriters — A Portrait from 1966

Interview by Michael Lydon, unpublished, March 1966

Just after the release of Rubber Soul, I had the chance to meet John Lennon and Paul McCartney in London, and I conducted in-depth interviews ...

The Beatles, Martha Reeves & The Vandellas: When the Beatles Arrived in America, 1964

Essay by Michael Lydon, Yale Daily News, February 1964

NOTE: When the Beatles hit America in the winter of 1964, the event created a tidal wave in pop music that swept all before it. ...

Charlatans, The (US): The Charlatans: Pioneer San Francisco Rock Group

Profile and Interview by Michael Lydon, Rolling Stone, March 1968

While record companies and poster dealers are pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into San Francisco to capture some of that real old authentic hip ...

Ray Charles: Thanks for Bringing Love Around Again (Crossover)

Review by Michael Lydon, Rock's Backpages, September 2002

RAY CHARLES' NEW CD, Thanks for Bringing Love Around Again – his first since Strong Love Affair in 1995 – opens with 'What'd I Say', ...

Eric Clapton: Rock — A Dilemma

Essay by Michael Lydon, Fusion, March 1971

Michael Lydon views rock and roll as a space/time continuum, in which problems and, sometimes, solutions often arise. ...

Bo Diddley

Book Excerpt by Michael Lydon, Boogie Lightning (Da Capo), 1974

Everything I know I taught myself.– Bo Diddley ...

Bo Diddley (1970)

Interview by Michael Lydon, Rock's Backpages Audio, September 1970

When Bo's not being a boxer, truck driver, gunslinger, lumberjack etc. he's being A Man - a husband and father, dealing with life in the USA. The Gunslinger tells Michael Lydon of record company rip-offs, dealin' with the po-lice and the very meaning of life itself.

File format: mp3; in 3 parts (plus introduction), total file sizes: 72.4meg, total interview length: 1h 20' 01" sound quality: **

The Doors: Jim Morrison and the Doors, LA, 1968

Profile and Interview by Michael Lydon, New York Times, The, December 1968

"PLAY 'LIGHT MY FIRE’!" "Yeah, ‘Light My Fire.’" Out of the vastness of the Los Angeles Forum, its 18,000 seats filled on a December Saturday ...

Bob Dylan: The Flood: Dylan and The Band on Tour ’74

Report by Michael Lydon, unpublished, 1974

"The air was filled with music." – Raymond Chandler ...

Aretha Franklin: A Spirit in the Dark: Aretha Franklin at Fillmore West, 1971

Book Excerpt by Michael Lydon, Boogie Lightning, 1974

IT WAS A NIGHT of nights. Tower of Power set the mood: 'You Got To Funkify', and then King Curtis and his Kingpins and the ...

Aretha Franklin: Young, Gifted, and Black (Atlantic)

Review by Michael Lydon, Fusion, May 1972

FROM THE shimmering, expectant notes which mark its opening to the brutally final chord of its close, Aretha Franklin's new album, Young, Gifted, and Black,is magnificent. ...

Grateful Dead: An Evening with the Grateful Dead

Report and Interview by Michael Lydon, Rolling Stone, September 1970

WE CHANGE and our changings change, a friend said once. It sounded true, but it seems too that through it all we stay the same. ...

Grateful Dead: The First European International Pop Festival: Pigpen To Meet Pope?

Report by Michael Lydon, Rolling Stone, February 1968

THE FIRST EUROPEAN International Pop Festival, a resounding name for a still rather mysterious event, is being planned for Rome's huge Palazzo dello Sport February ...

Grateful Dead: The Grateful Dead: Burnout Sets In

Special Feature by Michael Lydon, Rolling Stone, August 1969

But I reckon l got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she's going to adopt me and sivilise ...

Grateful Dead: The Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia (1969)

Interview by Michael Lydon, Rock's Backpages Audio, May 1969

Recorded during the Dead's 1969 peak, Garcia looks back to the early days of the Warlocks, the Acid Tests, goes through the albums to date (including the soon-to-be-released Live/Dead) and expounds on the music.

File format: mp3; file size: 57.6mb, interview length: 1h 02' 57" sound quality: ****

Bill Haley: Wild Bill Haley

Report and Interview by Michael Lydon, Rolling Stone, November 1967

THERE HE WAS, Wild Bill Haley, fifteen years older but not showing a day of it, his spit curl firmly in place on the forehead ...

Jimi Hendrix 1968

Interview by Michael Lydon, New York Times, The, March 1968

"Will he burn it tonight?" asked a neat blonde of her boyfriend, squashed in beside her on the packed floor of the Fillmore auditorium. "He ...

Curtis Knight, Jimi Hendrix: Jimi Hendrix: A Shoddy Hendrix Record?

Report by Michael Lydon, Rolling Stone, January 1968

THE NEW Capitol LP, Got that Feeling: Jimi Hendrix Plays, Curtis Knight Sings, is not what it appears: Hendrix's latest release. The cover, with no ...

Jefferson Airplane: After Bathing At Baxter’s

Review and Interview by Michael Lydon, Rolling Stone, November 1967

Jefferson Airplane finally finished their third LP Halloween week after two months of off-and-on recording in Los Angeles. It’s called After Bathing at Baxter’s, has ...

Louis Jordan: Louis Jordan

Retrospective and Interview by Michael Lydon, Rolling Stone, 1975

"DRINK SOME BEER and be of good cheer!" ...

King Curtis: A Good Man Gone

Obituary by Michael Lydon, Fusion, October 1971

MAYBE THIS should be a collection of unrelated notes. I’m not sure how the things I’m thinking about fit together. King Curtis is dead. That ...

John Lennon: Rocking Chair: Popular & Vital

Column by Michael Lydon, Fusion, December 1971

JAMES TAYLOR came on the jukebox in the bar last night, singing that pretty Carole King song about "Call me and I'll come running and ...

Yoko Ono: Rocking Chair: Oh! Yoko

Column by Michael Lydon, Fusion, April 1972

YOKO ONO smiles from her recent album cover (fly) with great compassion. Her face is heavy, peasant-like. She is looking out through a sheet of ...

Carl Perkins

Interview by Michael Lydon, Rolling Stone, December 1968

"IF IT WEREN'T FOR the rocks in its bed, the stream would have no song," said Carl Perkins with a comic dolefulness. He had just ...

Wilson Pickett: Return of the Wicked Pickett

Report and Interview by Michael Lydon, unpublished, 1977

"I’VE ALWAYS WANTED to be a star," said Wilson Pickett. He clapped his hands and fell back into a deck chair behind his house in ...

Wilson Pickett (1977)

Interview by Michael Lydon, Rock's Backpages Audio, May 1977

After Michael Lydon's swift intro, an avuncular Wilson Pickett talks about his gospel roots, The Falcons, hooking up with Atlantic and working in Memphis and Muscle Shoals.

File format: mp3; in 2 parts, total file sizes: 42.3mb, total interview length: 46' 10" sound quality: ***

Smokey Robinson, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles: Smokey Robinson

Profile and Interview by Michael Lydon, Rolling Stone, September 1968

SMOKEY ROBINSON is the reigning genius of Top-40. Since the Beatles and the Beach Boys dropped out of the single-then-follow-up-album pattern aimed at the AM ...

The Rolling Stones: Rocking Chair: Working Out

Column by Michael Lydon, Fusion, December 1971

I HAVE been writing about music for years, and am now trying to play myself. This changes matters. ...

The Rolling Stones: Rolling Away the Stones: Stanley and I

Essay by Michael Lydon, Rock's Backpages, January 2002

Michael Lydon was the other reporter on the infamous Rolling Stones' 1969 tour of America. This is his recollection of meeting Stanley Booth, and the ...

Jesse Stone Tells His Story

Interview by Michael Lydon, unpublished, 1995

AT 94, JESSE STONE, arranger, bandleader, and song writer extraordinaire, has spanned the entire 20th century of African-American music. ...

The Who in San Francisco

Report and Interview by Michael Lydon, New York Times, The, September 1968

THE WHO PLAY rock "n’ roll music ("it’s got a back beat, you can’t lose it," says Chuck Berry). Not art-rock, acid-rock, or any type ...

List of genre pieces

Bill Graham: The Producer of the New Rock

Interview by Michael Lydon, New York Times, The, December 1968

"I dream about doing the Beatles," Bill Graham said, hunched over his desk in the crowded office of the Fillmore West. Outside the office, the ...

Electric Kool-Aid: On & Off the Bus

Essay by Michael Lydon, Fusion, March 1970

The last words of Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test are "WE BLEW IT". In caps, naturally. ...

Foreword to Outlaw Blues by Paul Williams

Book Excerpt by Michael Lydon, Rolling Stone, April 1969

[For the 21st-century edition of this book, Michael Lydon, a founding editor of Rolling Stone magazine and the author of Rock Folk, Boogie Lightning and ...

Harlem’s Finest: The Apollo Theatre

Retrospective by Michael Lydon, unpublished, 1986

THROUGH A GAUZY silver curtain, multi-colored lights outline a band playing a mellow blues with a dancing beat. As the audience begins to cheer, the ...

Monterey Pops! An International Pop Festival

Report by Michael Lydon, unpublished, for Newsweek, June 1967

Reporting for Newsweek took me to Monterey. I'd gone to work for Newsweek right out of college in 1965 – I was a reporter in ...

Monterey Pops! An International Pop Festival (2)

Report by Michael Lydon, unpublished, for Newsweek, June 1967

Part TwoDAY TWO was over and Sunday came grey and cold, but the excitement was still there and growing. Could anyone believe what had happened, ...

Rock for Sale

Report by Michael Lydon, Ramparts, 1969

IN 1956, WHEN rock & roll was just about a year old, Frankie Lymon, lead singer of Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, wrote and recorded ...

Where’s the Money from Monterey Pop?

Report by Michael Lydon, Rolling Stone, November 1967

For the first issue of Rolling Stone in November, 1967, editor Jann Wenner asked me to do an investigative piece on what had happened to ...

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