By Jarrod Dicker
New Brunswick, NJ, USA
Images courtesy of Danny Fields
This is the final installment of the Danny Fields trilogy. We've canvassed his various associations in the rock n' roll industry by highlighting his involvement with The Doors, The Ramones, The MC5, Iggy and the Stooges, Jon Richman and much more. We spent time looking into his life with The Factory, befriending Andy Warhol, Paul Morrisey and Edie Sedgwick to name a few. I was able to dive deeper into his history and touch on his personal life; growing up in Queens, the relationship he had with his family, moving to Boston and landing a life in radio and music. Now as we approach the final stage in the Stay Thirsty interview of Danny Fields, we elaborate about a woman he loved...his best friend...Linda Eastman McCartney. Enjoy.
“I wish I didn't have to write this book. I wish Linda was still here, working on her myriad projects, inspiring people and making them feel so much better for her presence, saving the lives of animals, being the wonderful friend that she was and - this most of all, because it mattered most to her - being the great wife and best friend of one of the most talented men of our century, and mother to their four children.” - Preface of "Linda McCartney: A Portrait" by Danny Fields
David Johansen and Cyrinda Foxe at Max's
THIRSTY: So, continuing from last time, did you have a relationship with Paul?
DF: Well we were connected by Linda. She went to England with her daughter upon his invitation. We had both been in Los Angeles the summer of that year. She was doing a big spread - Aretha Franklin - for Vogue or something. I mean she was already HUGE, to shoot Aretha Franklin. She was BIG. Linda was moving on up and certainly in that profession. You didn’t have to be a genius to see how good her work was. You know? WOW.
THIRSTY: And she did it all on her own right? Well, without Paul…yet.
DF: Yes. And then she said to me, “Aw Paul wants me to go London and bring Heather. I don’t know.” I said, you don’t know what [scream]? Linda replies, “Well I don’t know, what if he says this to everybody?” blah blah blah. I said, I don’t think he tells everybody to bring their five-year old daughter, Linda and if it doesn’t work out your fathers’ rich, you can come back to America…AND you’re bound to shoot A LOT of stars there and meet a lot of, what should I say, tricks. So it’s not so bad to go to London where you’ve been several times. So...she went and we stopped (boom) nothing not a word.
THIRSTY: That sucks, after all those years.
DF: And you know people and friends of hers that would talk to her six times a day never heard a word…maybe a post card. I got an occasional postcard with one word “ZOWIE” or “OO AHH,” something like that. You know just like going, “Hey, I’m here, I’m alive.” Which considering this is about the time PAUL IS DEAD was emerging, and she married him. Are they even alive [snicker]? You know? [laughs]
THIRSTY: Do you think there was a specific reason that she became so disengaged?
Eric Bloom of Blue Oyster Cult
DF: I think he said to her...let’s just put two and two together. I think he said to her, “Your friends in New York are mostly writers, journalists and reporters.” They were well-connected...Life Magazine and the Village Voice. It seemed Paul did not want her being in touch with her friends the gossip gals in up and coming New York fashion journalism or gossip journalism…rock and roll whatever. And I think he just put the lid on because the women were so...well, when she finally emerged none of the women would have anything to do with her.
THIRSTY: Wow…no second chances on that end, ay?
DF: These were powerful women. They never forgave her. I didn’t feel so abandoned. She called me one night and said, “Hiiiii, it’s me!” I knew that she’d been married and pregnant fall/winter of 1968. I never thought they would call me and come over. Linda goes “Guess what? Paul is doing his first solo album and he doesn’t like...what does this promotion mean? And whatya have to do?” They had been so shielded from knowing how it worked...all they knew was girls screamed and they ran.
THIRSTY: What was their relationship like from the inside? Or, let’s say, from what you know or assume? Did it cause any friction in the Beatles’ camp?
DF: John and Paul certainly had an incredible dependency on one another...that was his partner and he suddenly changed partners [John to Linda]. He didn’t literally change partners and John didn’t literally change partners when he married Cynthia...Paul was just dating and flirting around most the time. But Linda, Linda was his partner man. She was carrying his unborn child and they both changed their lives for each other. She got him off his ass and he made the album “RAM” (1971). His first official solo album...
THIRSTY: So when she called for your promotional advice...what was asked?
DF: She continued with publicity questions. “How does it get played on the radio?’ she asked. ‘How do you get stories in the newspaper?” I mean they knew it got done, but ...they were picking my brain. I didn’t mind, that’s what you do for friends. I LOVED HER. I wasn’t thinking about what happened in the past.
THIRSTY: Do you have any experiences or stories with the ever so famous, “Paul is Dead” myth?
Patti Smith and Bob Dylan meet at the Bitter End in 1975
DF: Eventually, I think, they had to invite people up to the place. They had spent months living in a cottage in the northern, western something, with dirt floors. And she had a five-year old and a baby on the way. They would go to the well and wash...wherever they got water. She said, you know, every woman in the world hates me, and they’re jealous of me because they think I’m a fairytale princess. AND I’M LIVING WITH DIRT FLOORS! If that’s wonderful I don’t know, what a fairy tale. She made him put a floor down. People were coming from LIFE magazine to prove that he was alive...the whole Paul is Dead thing. It happened then and there. They were living with pots of water hanging from the ceiling and a wood fire in the living room.
THIRSTY: Did Linda come back and visit you often?
DF: Well, then I would see them or be summoned by them when they were in town. A lot of times it was to get pot. I didn’t feel too wonderful about that and suddenly there was a big spike in the prices. I wasn’t going to lose money doing them a favor, you know? I think maybe he [Paul] thinks I ripped them off. They were going to a restaurant and we went...they stayed open late just for us. Then I saw them in England. The house was completely dominated by crayons on white sofas and screaming children. I was stepping on trucks.
THIRSTY: It must have been beautiful there. And I’m sure eventually they moved into a RIDICULOUS house...better than their previous dirt digs.
DF: When they moved into that spacious London house, she would go out in the street with her daughter, and girls would trip her. It was because they hated her so much. They were jealous. That wasn’t easy I’m sure. And then him [Paul] saying, “I’m starting this band, you’re going to be in it and we’ll tour the world...oooo...ummm…you know we’ll bring the kids and we’ll tour the world.” And she’d say, “But who’s going to run the farm?” His response, “We have people, well get people.”
THIRSTY: It’s funny how highlighted their love was in the limelight, but it seems now that he was very controlling...
DF: Yea, that’s how it worked. He was traditional upper lower class (he would say). And John was the higher class...he lived up the hill. That was a big crack in their relationship. If you’re not English, you can’t really understand that. My mother’s family was English and the little that I saw there was a difference between being a lady or a lower woman. It wasn’t extreme, but you felt it. Especially if you went to the same neighborhood where there were state schools...so that was that. And then, when John was killed, I remember I went to see them.
John Holmstrom (PUNK Magazine) stops by to chat with Johnny and Joey Ramone at the recording session for the Ramones' first LP.
THIRSTY: Wow. Paul must have been an absolute mess, no?
DF: They had dreamt about John last night...oooo...I dream about him all the time [Paul’s voice]. Because they know what they told me was sort of real nice and positive, and it would get back to everyone. Oh how they miss John and how they love John. And then he refused to go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
THIRSTY: Who, Paul?
DF: Yes. The Beatles were being ingested into the rock and roll hall of fame and they were all suing each other by then of course, like every band does and did. And he refused to go. In his place, he sent a press release saying, “Considering my legal position regarding the other three members of my former band I do not adhere to share the stage with them or...blah something.” It was unnecessary at the time and everybody thought that. I think he picked up on that too.
THIRSTY: Why? Did something in particular spark that though?
DF: I was working for a radio production company at the time and we taped the R&R HOF show and chopped it up turning it into syndicated material. So I paid close attention to what was coming through the mics from everyone. The next morning...
DF: Linda calls. “Oh hi Danny, here we are in Sussex” or Essex whatever but, “So how are you?” I went to the R&R HOF last night Linda, you were really missed. “Oh, you did go? What was it like?” I said oh it was very interesting especially Elmo, Yoko NoNo’s speech. “Really?” She said, “You didn’t tape it did you?” I said yes, it’s right here I was just listening to it. “You mean you have it there on tape? Oooo can I listen to it? “And I said sure. She said, “Oh well would you mind if Paul listens too?” I said no...“PAUUUUUUUUUUULLLL” [scream] since she’s calling him in the meadow!!! And then within seconds CLICK.
THIRSTY: Oh man, I could imagine what was said after [chuckle] John and Paul really lost connection at the end.
DF: It was probably jealousy too with that whole Beatles thing, between John and Paul. It’s still lyrics by John and Paul...
THIRSTY: Instead of Paul and John you’re saying?
DF: Yea but you know, so what? That’s the way it started. That’s what it is, like Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney...like Abbot and Costello. It’s not Costello and Abbot, it’s the same thing.
THIRSTY: So now let’s move onto the topic that started our interview way back a long time ago. We were musing on the difficulty to grasp onto new artists and new music. What recent, and by recent I mean post 1980, bands do you like?
DF: You know the last group I loved was Soundgarden. I loved them.
THIRSTY: Because of Chris Cornell, the lead singer?
DF: No, I’m beyond pinup boys; I can really love the band for their music, still.
THIRSTY: No I’m saying for his voice...
DF: I loved everything about him and I loved Kim Thayil as a guitar player, who loved the guitar players of my life like Ron Ashton and Johnny Ramone. He was real friendly and Chris was real friendly also. I loved Chris.
THIRSTY: His voice is like an angel.
DF: I really loved Soundgarden. I went to see Chris twice as a solo artist, once at town hall and once somewhere else. And I waited to see him afterwards and we hugged and everything. It just wasn’t happening, and wasn’t on the same path from when I saw him when he was younger. He kicked a hole in the wall at NYU! Stomping around in the shorts and the boots! They really rocked me, they got through, I loved them. And then they just broke up in ‘95 and I didn’t want to hear about their solo careers…what is this Crosby, Stills and Nash [chuckle]? I saw their potential, being the next U2 or something. I thought they could, why not?
Johnny listens to Joey sing
(recording session for Ramones' first LP)
THIRSTY: They had that new, Washington sound...that innovative delivery.
DF: They were poised, I thought, to be the next thing. Nirvana was gone...so...I thought they could have punched on through. Kick that hole “literally” through the wall. I was backstage, when I saw them at NYU. The police were coming. The University had called the police or lawyers whatever, and we weren’t allowed to leave until they came and investigated the damage that he made at the Loeb Student Center that since has been torn down. That was funny and the police said it was ok to leave. We sent out for pizza.
THIRSTY: I didn’t get into U2 or any of those...I like the Chili Peppers and some of that stuff.
DF: They’re good. I like the idea of them and all that. Those were the two I met and I had an extraordinary interview with them...Anthony and Flea. The guitar player that came in John Frusciante was very friendly with Johnny so I met him. I liked him, and I liked that he loved Johnny and that they were friends and all that. He was at that Indian restaurant dinner when we went [laughs]. (See Part 1 & 2 for the Johnny Ramone Indian restaurant story) After that, you know, (in Johnny’s voice) “CURRRY AHHHH! What’s going on? What the fuck?!?” [laughs].
THIRSTY: Well...it truly was a pleasure.
DF: It was really wonderful talking to you
THIRSTY: You too, I really have so much more to ask you, we’ll have to reunite soon.
What slipped through the cracks...
THIRSTY: Did you keep in touch with Linda Stein?
DF: Well yea, she was my best friend. I met Linda Stein when she was pregnant with her daughter Mandy. Then we co-managed the Ramones. Linda and I had become good friends. I loved her because she was so smart and just a rock and roll girl like Linda Eastman. I had seen the Ramones and I knew Seymour Stein, and that cute little record company. This is certainly one of the best bands there ever was. I invited Linda and Seymour, they were playing somewhere called “Mothers” on 23rd street. Linda came and she was knocked out. She said that’s a good band lets sign them, they’re fabulous. So we set up an audition at a rehearsal studio on 20th and Broadway and they signed them right away. So I was their manager. And then I found Steve Forbert and I thought he was and still is a really big star. Linda was really good with international stuff. Seymour was big on London. She had connections there with Harvey Goldsmith and the promoters. She cracked the whip on Johnny Ramone like I told you before, probably didn’t make him like her [chuckle]. When he was dying, it was very touching because I said...well there was going to be a concert, Mandy was filming it by all his Chili Peppers, Eddie Veders and all....and...Rob Zombie...Linda came to Hollywood and she said, “You know I just want to see Johnny, I don’t care about anything else. Business or friends...I really wanna see Johnny.” I didn’t know what to do because I knew he was very close to dying and I knew there were people who he wasn’t going to see who were part of the “family.” So I said to Johnny, can I come see you...Linda wants to see you too, and he said I’d love to see her as well. We went up there...and through all those battles and everything he started joking around that Linda should have a TV show, cooking around the house in her high heels and miniskirts. He was planning the statue on his grave and looking at pictures, and what he wants in his obituary, going through the accounts and making sure all the transfers of his property went well. Look he’s still in charge, managing his own exit and aftermath.
Thirsty : July 2009 : Interview with Danny Fields - Part 1
Thirsty : August 2009 : Interview with Danny Fields - Part 2