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Friday, February 25, 2005

Greg Shaw

Greg Shaw and Stiv Bators in the studio together; that's Frank Secich on the left. This was during the recording sessions for Stiv's solo album, Disconnected.

Despite his reputation as a party-hearty ladies man and all around gadfly, Stiv worked hard in the studio, and so did Frank. Greg came by frequently in his role as Executive Producer. Yeah - he paid for the record and kept us in Taco Bell, but he gave more. He was a record collector with an awesome collection and a computerized brain that could access any bit of rock n roll reference point you'd want.

"Disconnected" was recorded in a basketball court in Sun Valley, California. The record is full of pop gems and a wonderful cover of "I Had To Much To Dream Last Night," a hit in the 60s for The Electric Prunes. Before his untimely death, Greg Shaw was able to see the 25th Anniversary reissue of "Disconnected," and I was able to tell him of the record's warm reception at September 2004's Dead Boys reunion concert in Cleveland.

I still find it hard to believe that Greg is gone. Greg Shaw was one of the first people to hire me regularly to take pictures of bands for Bomp! Records, like The Pandoras on the beach in bikinis with surfboards for their "Hot Generation" single - and I photographed the Bomp! staff for their Christmas cards too. Greg Shaw typed faster than anyone I've ever seen - something like 120 words a minute - faster than you speak. And he could carry on a conversation with you while he was typing. His record review style was pretty unique too. Most people today owe a debt to Lester Bangs - you can see it everywhere in the way people write about music. Greg had a style too, and he was just as controversial, only with that baby face that never seemed to age and that quiet voice, he was a much less intimidating character.

There were sides to Greg that I wasn't interested in delving into. I did photograph one of his weddings, and he had several. Greg did have a thing for the ladies. But I can see why the young ladies liked him. He had a streak of kindness that belied the other characteristics some bands will gladly get into at length. Greg also had a thing for altered states of consciousness, so when you look at some of his band signings - Brian Jonestown Massacre and all that Anton Newcombe has inspired, it all seems pretty organic. Greg also didn't think what you thought he would think about genres like "garage," which he is largely credited for keeping alive. Greg would be the first person to tell you that it never went away or anywhere anyway.

Greg was the one person who understood some of the things I still find hard to express about the current music scene. He practically gleaned it from the tone of my voice. Well, you and Stiv have yourselves some laughs, buddy, OK?

Back to "Disconnected:"

Thom Wilson produced the record - but Stiv was asking everybody questions about studio technique and they all helped him. Stiv and I frequented his lawyer's amazing Malibu Canyon home, and there we met Paul Rothschild, who produced The Doors. That may have been part of the inspiration for some of the photos we took that emulated Doors album images! That pic will go up in a day or so. Ric Ocasek also offered Stiv studio advice. And I'm pretty sure that when he came to see The Wanderers in Cleveland, Todd Rundgren probably told Stiv as much about making records as he did about their lady friend in common, Bebe Buell.

Funny how after 25 years have passed, this all seems like it happened yesterday!

It doesn't matter who it is recording - it could be Keith Richards and Rob Fraboni recording their beloved Nyabhingi drummers at Keith's Jamaican villa, or it could be Gordon Raphael in his East Village basement recording every kid in New York City who wants to be the next Strokes, when the tape is rolling, even the silliest people rise to the occasion. Stiv was often sequestered behind closed doors scribbling away at lyrics and when the band was tracking, they were focused on the songs and getting them to sound live, raw and fresh. I'm not saying these guys were dour, but I am suggesting that they have their own kind of work ethic. Its the best job in the world, to be able to make music.

So - its February 25, which is George Harrison's birthday. I'm sure Stiv and Greg will help you celebrate! And a segue to mention that the music industry's organization that puts money into researching cures for cancer, leukemia, and AIDS, the TJ Martell Foundation is having an eBay auction that will end on Saturday, if you've got the resources to help out.

1 comment:

jenny said...

Great shot of ever-youthful Greg Shaw. Shame he had juvenile diabetes and didn't take care of himself. It's a rough life, no drinking, constant monitoring. You know us rockers, too involved in our art/music to pay attention to personal needs. Wish I knew him as well as you. Thanks for the memories.