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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Celebrating John Cale

John Cale, Starwood 77
This photo is included in the book by Holly George Warren - PUNK 365
It was also exhibited at L'Univerre Gallery, Paris, France as part of Paris Photo, November 2007.
It was part of a group show honoring Billy Name

This photograph was taken on John Cale's birthday in 1977 (March 9). On that day, he played the Starwood, a short-lived club in West Hollywood, California.

By 1977, Cale was already a larger than life legend to me - not just for his part in the Velvet Underground, but for such stunning solo works as Slow Dazzle and perhaps one of the best records ever made by anyone, Paris 1919.

cale mic 1small

Little did I know in 1977 that five years later, I would have the opportunity to work with John Cale in my role at Island Records. That job enabled me to see countless more Cale shows in support of Music For a New Society and Caribbean Sunset. The job also allowed me to have one-on-one time with a man I deem a genius. While I probably spent only 24 hours in the aggregate with him, those hours left an indelible mark on me. He was one hero I admired from afar who did NOT disappoint once I made his acquaintance.

cale at piano - small - grey

John Cale has always been ahead of his time, and yes, to the uninitiated, probably a bit weird. But what he brought to the pop culture table is undeniable in its scope and impact. In the punk rock genre alone, John Cale is responsible for producing seminal recordings by Iggy & the Stooges, The Modern Lovers, Patti Smith, Squeeze, and Siouxie & the Banshees. Of course, he produced Nico, and just recently produced punk rocker turned critical fave, Alejandro Escovedo.

Even before his membership in the Velvet Underground, Cale was on the leading edge of the avant garde, performing with La Monte Young (someone who is like Bach to me) in his Theatre of Eternal Music, also known as The Dream Syndicate (NOT the Dream Syndicate of LA's Paisley Underground in the 1980s... yes, they knew what they were appropriating!).

cale shadow gray small

With his deep, mellifluous Welsh accented voice and his classical facility on keyboard and viola, John Cale always brings a touch of class to the crass and trash that I am partial to. It is this very juxtaposition that keeps everything he does so fresh and vital. So on his birthday weekend, I salute John Cale and suggest you spin any one of the amazing records he is responsible for. Your collection is probably full of them.

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