I needed a number for Eric Clapton a couple of years back. Clapton shook off a serious heroin addiction and founded Crossroads, a rehab clinic on the Caribbean island of, Antigua.
The Brown Sugar Man drank himself out of business and had alienated everyone of merit that he knew. He’d said, Shit Damn Mutherfucka once too often. When he could finally see the bottom of the bottle, he called me, his old A & R man.
He wanted to dry off because he’d been wet too long. It had been six years since his pervious release and the IRS and his babie’s mamas wanted to know when the music was gonna start again. He’d decided to check into Crossroads.
THE BROWN SUGAR MAN
I didn’t know anyone connected to the place but my boy did. Eric Clapton, they’d done a couple of those old head/new jack masters pairings on some tv shows and they were still cool.
As has been documented in a piece on Spin.com, I orchestrated an admission to the clinic and a return to the studio for my old friend. A fact that was not revealed in the article was this: Clapton was the second person to respond to our call for help. The first was his friend and Sheryl Crow’s manager, Scooter Weintraub.
Our first in person chat was very R & B. Scooter had met Sheryl while they were both on tour with Michael Jackson. Scooter was a roadie. Sheryl was a backgound singer that Michael featured everynight on a duet of, Man In The Mirror. We spoke about Clapton’s affinity for Curtis Mafield, Sly Stone and how he’d jammed with Hendrix.
The Epecurean knew Scooter and his connect to Slow Hand. One phone call and I had an international cell phone number for the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer. I was not privy to the conversation that took place between, Eric and my boy but it resulted in a contact number to the head clinician at Crossroads and a reservation for a bed. That was in early 2006.
I’d only spoken to Scooter on the phone so I was mad happy to shake his hand. The Ep made the connect again. They were both in town for a Rock The Vote gig that featured The Epecurean’s client, Santogold, Sheryl Crow and headliners, The Beastie Boys.
We arrived late. So we missed Santogold. When we got to the gig, Santi had already rocked. We were delayed by the inevitable, dinner.
Surprisingly, The Ep slid by earlier to catch a meal. BBQ beef short ribs, broiled chicken, collards, mac ‘n cheese, candied yams and string beans. Southern style all the way.
He’d been by yesterday as well, so we were doing left overs. He didn’t seem to find that discouraging at all. As is his habit, he came baring gifts. My favorite Cubans, a bottle of Grey Goose Orange and a bottle of Opus I. He lingered long enough for a banana pudding to be whipped up and scored a bowl of that too. I mentioned to him that, “Deep inside there’s a fat man waiting to get out.”
The Ep is in transit from the west coast by car. He’s still not quite back from the Rock The Bells Chronicles and in fact, has not completed his promised guest blog resolving the epic tale. The Ep is very affable so I’m not beefing and anyway, he did bring cigars.
We hopped into the bat mobile and made our way to Amos’ Southend. The rock club in town. It’s small with a balcony surrounding the floor. The building was packed well past the limit of any city ordinance.
We tried the front door to no avail. All access laminates just didn’t have that certain something for the red head at the door. She was dead set on making sure that we were carded and wrist banded. Her name was Meghan and I don’t think that she’s smiled since before the beginning of the Iraqui Freedom mission.
Since Crow has recently done Larry King in support of Obama, The Beasties are well known liberals and NC is a swing state. Megahn may have been upset that Gov. Palin wasn’t on the bill doing that jawn that Amy Poehler spit a couple of Saturdays ago. I get the feeling that she’s of the opinion, that as far as she’s concerned, in matters regarding, Amos’ front door, when she speaks, it’s Meghan’s law,
Anyway back to the lesson at hand. We were rerouted to the staff entrance. Cool wit me, I was there for work. I’m developing a documentary and Beastie, MCA has been directing for several years under the name, Nathaniel Hornblower. He’s done several videos for the band and a banging concert film that depicts a Madison Square Garden performance called, That’s Awsome: I Shot This Fucking Thing Myself.
It’s a brilliant concept. He gave hand held digital cameras to 80 fans and they each shot their own version of the show. Like a mad hip hop producer working on an old Public Enemy jawn, he stitched it all together and made a full feature length film that’s required viewing. He’s serious with the docs. I want him to direct mine.
When we walked into the stage door entrance the three Beasties were standing at the door together. Sheryl Crow had just started her set and it was clear that she was there to rock more than the vote from note one.
After we all shook hands and hugged, we fell into the groove. In the interest of full disclosure, I bought her first album. Honey combined that little bit of rock, country and soul that you find in some of the best California rock. She recalled Don Henley and his Eagles, Jackson Brown and CS & N. She won a bunch of Grammys and sold a bunch of records. Everyday Is A Winding Road is a classic. I’m not mad at Sheryl Crow.
GROUNDBREAKING EMCEES THE BEASTIES & DJ HURRICANE
Ad Rock pulled me outside. He was rocking an old Knick hat, t shirt and jeans. Downtown b-boy fashion statement to the fullest. We chopped it up about my film idea, the Knicks and the new Q-Tip jawn. He said that he couldn’t answer for MCA but I could count on their support as a band.
We also talked about how I was instrumental in introducing him to Molly Ringwald and laughed about the money we made from puttimg one of their jawns on the soundtrack to her film, The Pick-Up Artist. We split less than 30 grand between us and we thought that was all the money in the world back then.
I’ve know The Beasties since I was there promotion man. No one wanted to play them except college radio. Black radio, in a unified show of racist philosophy thought they were inauthentic.
The thought of a white rap group was other worldly to most in ’84. But not to Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons. The success of Run/DMC had already clued them into the fact that whites were already into the music and wanted to support someone who looked like themselves. Same thing Elvis did actually.
We all go back. I saw them perform their first show. They had on doo rags and sweat suits. They rented a limo for the night and dropped Simmons and me at a wild drug dealer party in Queens. All of the Rush Management roster was performing for their regular fee, plus an eighth of blow. Lotta champagne got poured that night.
MCA pulled me outside next. Crow was still rocking. I pitched him on my idea. Kid’s a pro so he didn’t bite right away. I’m not new, so I dropped the name of my second choice. The second choice has a couple of $100, 000, 000.00 box office tallies to his credit. He’s a name we both know well so he knows I’m not joking. As I said, he’s a pro and he doesn’t say no. He says, “I’ ll think about it.”
I go inside and play the bar for a minute. Order a double shot and make haste. Whatever the outcome, I’m elated to see playas from the ol skool.
The show starts, it’s a brief set. This crowd does not get to hear, Fight For Your Right To Party. They don’t hear, Rhyming And Stealing, there’s no Paul Revere. They do however sing that joint, So Watcha Want. The one where Ad Rock says “Plug me in as if my name was Gary Harris.” I like that one, shitz funky.