Episode 73 : James Fox on Keith Richards + Little Richard + Betty Wright + Pete Seeger
18 May 2020
In this week's episode, we welcome special guest James Fox, author of 1982's bestselling White Mischief and the man who, ten years ago, made Keith Richards' Life one of rock's outstanding autobiographies. James talks us through his long and distinguished career as a journalist in Africa, and as a features writer during the golden era of The Sunday Times Magazine. He describes how his friendship with "Keef" was cemented by the pieces he wrote for that publication about the Rolling Stones in 1973 and 1976, answering his hosts' questions about the great man's rhythm guitar playing.
The fantastic Mr. Fox also offers his perspective on Little Richard, whose death last week prompts discussion of the gay black southerner's explosive role in the birth of rock & roll. We hear a clip of the sometime Mr. Penniman speaking in 1985 – as well as one of the late Betty ('Clean Up Woman') Wright owning up to being a shameless show-off in 1978. Handily, James is able to reminisce about the importance of Moe Asch's legendary Folkways label – as revisited in the week's new audio interview, a conversation with folk elder Pete Seeger conducted by Tony Scherman in 1987. Clips follow of Seeger talking about Asch and recalling Folkways legends Lead Belly and Woody Guthrie. [Note: the man who had Lead Belly performing in overalls was not Alan Lomax, as mentioned in the episode, but his father John.]
As ever, Mark guides us through his personal library highlights, including pieces about John Coltrane (1965), Deep Purple (1970), Ashford & Simpson (1982) and Billy Idol (1990). Jasper concludes matters with quotes from pieces about Joanna Newsom (2015), JPEGMAFIA (2017) and, erm, James Blunt (2020).
Many thanks to special guest James Fox—visit his website at jamesfox.co.uk
Watch a video clip from this podcast recording.