Rock's Backpages

< back to list of all episodes

Episode 91 : John Simon on Janis Joplin + The Band + Van Morrison + Lillian Roxon

11 January 2021

In this episode we welcome legendary producer, piano player and songwriter John Simon, beamed in from his winter retreat in the Florida Keys. Mere hours before the shocking assault on D.C.'s Capitol building, John reminisces wittily and insightfully about working with The Band, Janis Joplin, Taj Mahal & Bobby Charles — and about his trenchant musical memoir Truth, Lies & Hearsay. He also joins us as we listen to his sometime fellow Woodstocker Van Morrison talking in 1979 about the classic Astral Weeks. Van/Band fanboys Barney, Mark & Martin ask John about The Last Waltz, for which he served as musical director.

The Joplin connection leads to discussion of famed writer and encyclopaedist Lillian Roxon, the pioneering Australian who became a den mother at NYC's Max's Kansas City in the late '60s — and whose Janis obit is one of her featured pieces on our new home page. The RBP team also pays homage to departed stars Gerry Marsden, Geoff Stephens and masked hip hop maverick MF DOOM. Mark and Jasper wrap matters up with remarks on recent RBP library additions, including pieces about Siouxsie & the Banshees, Bruce Springsteen and his pre-E Street band Steel Mill and "Welsh Wu Tang" Goldie Lookin Chain.

Many thanks to special guest John Simon; please visit his website at for information about his book Truth, Lies & Hearsay and much else besides.

Watch a video clip from this podcast recording.