quote:That last line is a contemptuous and rather cruel way to treat the fans that have given him a good living... Kind of an ingrate if you ask me. I'll probably read this for the early stuff about his influences, but I never cared much for Steely Dan (and Michael McDonald I hate), so I may not make it much further.
From Publishers Weekly
In these entertaining sketches, Steely Dan keyboardist and front man Fagen pays tribute to the talented musicians, writers, and performers from beyond the suburban New Jersey of his youth. In one chapter, Fagen recalls his early fascination with now-forgotten jazz singers the Boswell Sisters. He singles out Connie—whose career was affected in some measure by an early brush with illness (likely polio)—and praises her last recording, saying that she sounds like a toned-down Wanda Jackson or Brenda Lee. Fagen sends a kind of love letter to Henry Mancini, telling the composer of the theme from the television show Peter Gunn—a theme whose first notes every neophyte guitarist tried to learn back then—that his music continues to be young and fresh. Fagen vivaciously recalls his college days at Bard, meeting his future Steely Dan bandmate Walter Becker, and playing at a Halloween party with Walter and actor Chevy Chase on drums. In 2012, Fagen, Michael McDonald, and Boz Scaggs toured as the Duke of September Rhythm Revue; during the months of the tour, Fagen kept a journal, included in these pages, that's filled with irony, sarcasm, humor, anger, and flat-out honesty about what it's like to be on the road playing to houses filled with aging hippies: Tonight the crowd looked so geriatric I was tempted to start calling out bingo numbers. By the end of the set, they were all on their feet, albeit shakily, rocking.... So this, now, is what I do: assisted living
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“Don, this is Joe Adams. I’m Ray Charles’s manager. We’ve heard some good things about you. Can you come down here right now to the corner of Washington and Western for an audition at Ray’s studio?”
“But, Joe, I’m white,” he finally said, still unsure as to whether Adams and his famous client were actually aware of his ethnicity. Brother Ray was blind, after all.
“But can you play?”
“Then get yourself down here.”
After a couple of weeks of rehearsals and a few shows in Los Angeles at major venues like the Shrine Auditorium and the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, it was time for the Ray Charles Orchestra to head out on tour and make some money.
First stop: Montgomery, Alabama.
As they neared the main entrance to Garrett Coliseum, the city’s largest concert venue, Don Peake’s jaw dropped and his heart sank, both at the same time. Passing by outside his window, in what seemed like some kind of perverse, slow-motion, neorealist-style post-war film about life behind the Iron Curtain, were row after threatening row of razor-sharp barbed wire strung across an endless procession of poles, completely encircling the building and its grounds. Heavily armed state troopers were also standing in groups around the perimeter. And, in case anybody missed the point of the whole display, a large red Confederate flag flapped prominently in the breeze atop a tall, gleaming, floodlit pole.
Uh-oh, this can’t be good, Peake thought.
But before he or anyone else on board could further process the frightening scene, the band’s bus slowed to a stop. As the front door of the huge, now-silent vehicle hissed open, several grim-faced, shotgun-carrying state troopers immediately climbed inside. As they spoke with the driver in a series of hushed tones, it became apparent they had something—or more likely someone—on their minds.
“What do they want?” Ray Charles asked his tour manager, Jeff Brown, who was sitting nearby. As a famous black entertainer, Charles was a high-profile target and had every reason for concern. He had grown up in the South and had experienced the evil and unpredictability of racism firsthand.
Straining to hear the conversation going down in the front of the bus, Brown finally deciphered exactly why Ray and his band had been stopped.
“They want the white boy,” Brown said.
Word had apparently traveled with speed uncommon on the day that Don Peake and the Ray Charles Orchestra had flown into Alabama. The assembled state troopers had been told that Charles was carrying a white musician in his entourage. They had also been told that Governor Wallace had decreed that there would be no white people allowed at the Ray Charles concert in Montgomery that night, either audience or band. The black population could have their little show, fine. But by the grace of the good Lord—and the boot heel of the law—there would be no mixing.
As the troopers began to menacingly shine their flashlights up and down the aisle of the stranded bus, looking for the purportedly Caucasian interloper, Ray Charles had to think fast. He wasn’t going to allow anyone to take one of his band members away.
“Tell them he’s Spanish,” Charles whispered to Jeff Brown. “Maybe the crackers will go for it.”
Lowering his head, Peake inched down in his seat and tried his best to look and act the part of a non-English-speaking guitar player, mumbling a bunch of random Spanish-sounding gibberish that he vaguely recalled from a class he once took in high school.
After Brown passed the word along that there was indeed a Spanish band member aboard, the state troopers huddled in the front. After about a minute of discussion, they suddenly stepped off the bus and motioned it down the ramp toward the stage entrance. Twenty different sets of lungs exhaled as one. Alabama’s finest had bought the story.
quote:I've always been a big bio reader. It's the lazy man's way of self-education.
I'm not much of a biography reader