Posts Tagged ‘Rock N Roll’


Joan Rivers, Jewel, Glen Burtnik: ON THE SCENE

April 6, 2013

Tune in this weekend, April 6 & 7, for an all new ON THE SCENE on News 12 New Jersey at 11 AM, 1:30 PM and 3:30 PM each day.

This is one of my all time favorite episodes. I interviewed Joan Rivers at her Manhattan apartment. We had a conversation about complicated mother-daughter relationships, her enduring comedy career and who makes her laugh. This is not an interview of punchlines, but about real emotions and I think everyone watching will discover something new about Rivers…even after all her years in show business.

The interview with Jewel was done backstage at the Bergen Performing Arts Center in Englewood where she launched her 2013 national tour. Jewel donated items to raise money for a New Jersey charity helping Sandy victims, and she and I talk about her own ordeal with homelessness as a beginning artist…and how that’s helped her to identify with people in New Jersey who lost homes to the storm.

And my Glen Burtnik interview morphed into a profile of a songwriter and his song, and I think it’s fascinating. Glen co-wrote “Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough” with Patty Smythe over 20 years ago. It’s a heartbreaking rock ballad. But the lyrics never meant that much to Glen…till his divorce years later. And suddenly, that song became almost impossible for him to sing.

Watch, and let me know what you think of the show.


An E Street Band Original

June 21, 2011

I spent the day reporting on the death of Clarence Clemons including a visit to the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, New Jersey where a memorial has sprouted in honor of Clarence. I met fans from New Jersey but as far away as Colorado and Illinois who stopped to share memories and to  grieve with people who share their loss.

And I had an interesting visit this afternoon with Vini Lopez. He’s the original drummer of the E Street Band. We taped an interview on the front steps of his house,  tucked away deep in the woods down a gravel road.

Lopez left the band in a money dispute in 1974. But in those early years he was roommates with Clemons. And Danny Federici. Of those three E Streeters Lopez is  now the only one still living.

He told me about remembering playing for as little as five bucks a gig, going fluke fishing so Clemons could fry fish for the gang come dinnertime, of Clemons’ humor, and how he built up his strength as a sax player by practicing on the bag pipes. Which presented some trying moments around the house.

I’d never met Lopez before and I’m glad he agreed to an interview on just an hour’s notice today. He was the there at the very beginnings of a musical dynasty.


Remembering Clarence Clemons

June 19, 2011

A larger than life figure has left the stage. Clarence Clemons has died.

Tonight I’m thinking not only about the incredible sound he gave to the greatest songs of Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band, but about the times I interviewed Clarence.

The last time I interviewed him, in the fall of 2009, the signs were unfortunately apparent that his body was failing him. I remember waiting for him to arrive at a book store, where he was signing his memoir. I was scheduled to interview him before the signing. As he walked in I was shocked at the change in his appearance in just one year since I’d interviewed him last. Clarence had a hard time walking, moving carefully with a cane and was much thinner than I had ever seen him.

We shook hands and like he did with everyone,  he greeted me as if we were old friends…he had a warm familiarity with the whole world it seemed.  But the short distance he stepped to the space to the locations for the interview had left him very short of breath and I remember getting concerned how he could keep up the hectic schedule of a book tour.

I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to interview him..once backstage at a concert and then at the book signing. It is impossible to imagine the E Street Band without him. Impossible. But knowing the dedication of E Street Band fans they’ll find a way to keep him alive when Bruce Springsteen decides to take the band on tour once again.


A Moment With Clarence Clemons

June 14, 2011

I’ve interviewed Clarence Clemons twice and today I’ve been thinking a lot about those moments after I heard he’d suffered a stroke.

I first met him in 2008, backstage, the Meadowlands, right before going on stage to join Bruce Springsteen and the rest of the E Street Band, which was in the midst of a world tour.  He pulled up in a golf cart, I remember him glimmering in a black and gold stage ensemble that included an enormous hat and cape,  with a smile so wide it seemed to stretch from the New Jersey Highlands to the southern shore..and then he slowly rose from the cart and sauntered up to shake my hand. I’m six feet tall,  so I’m not used to anyone towering over me, but he did.

“What’s it like to be in front of a home state crowd,” I asked.

“It’s like the everything we’ve done all over the world was leading up to tonight.  You always want to look good, but you especially want to look good in front of your own people.”

The next time I interviewed Clarence was in the fall of 2009. His memoir was just out and I talked to him before a book signing. His appearance had changed in the short time since we first spoke. He’d lost weight, was walking slowly with a cane and seemed short of breath. He’d recently had knee surgery I was told, and he wanted to reassure the fans that he was alright. He said he knew people were worried about his health but asked they please not be.

There’s a moment in that 2009 interview that I love, because it says so much about Clarence.  He’s been interviewed a million times and I wanted to throw a curve, I wanted to get Clarence into a spontaneous moment. So I asked a question in a lighthearted way, with a little laughter, “do you ever come off stage (with the E Street Band) and say, ‘God, there was a clinker in there tonight?”

“Never!  This band does not make mistakes. There are no clinkers in the E Street Band.” A pause and then, “and if something does happen on strange notice we call it jazz and move on.”

To me that answer shows his humor, his belief in the quality of his group’s musicianship,  and his unflinching pride in the legacy of an incredible rock n roll band, which he helped shape from the very start.

And I know millions of people tonight are wishing The Big Man a full recovery.