Memorializing the Dead.

I've consumed rock & roll books by the truckload in recent years—and loved 'em all—but Living With the Dead, by Rock Scully with David Dalton, is the only one that had me guffawing from the start. (Scully was the road manager of the Grateful Dead in their first two decades and has especially colorful tales to tell of the early days.)

Having briefly lived and partied with these space explorers in their very early days I confess a certain bias towards the celebratory accounts of their exploits.

I can personally attest to their inspired and well-intentioned lunacy. Some band members were still novices on their instruments at the time, but the emerging genius was unmistakable. Reading-up on the Dead now reminds me that from a business perspective—my usual angle here—the Dead have been one the most influential rock & roll business teams in pop history. How, you say?


The rap on Southwest.

Through good times and bad, Southwest Airlines stays on brand as a no-frills, low-cost, wacky-humored carrier.

Here's a video of one of their flight attendants on a flight to Oklahoma City this month doing his safety announcement as a hip hop rap—with passengers stomping and clapping along.

Note: In a tight economy this kind of customer service (keeping the passengers musically entertained while imparting necessary information) doesn't cost the company a thing!


May he not fade away.

Fifty years ago today my relatively serene childhood was cruelly upended by the sudden death of my idol, Buddy Holly, in a plane crash in the corn fields of Iowa.

This precocious twenty-two-year old rock & roll singer/songwriter/guitarist was lost to the world after writing and recording an inspiring body of work in three short years. (I would argue that Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Buddy Holly were the prime R&R movers in the '50s.)


First impressions.

These uncertain economic times find many of us looking for work, dusting-off resumes, and gearing up for job interviews. I suppose it's a "duh" that we have to make a great first impression on these interviews. But in case we need reminding, I thought I'd dig out another story from my rock & roll memoirs to make the point.

In the rock world the job interview takes the form of an audition. You come in and play, because if you can't cut it musically there's nothing to talk about. But the principle's the same: you want to make a killer first impression.

This was a lesson learned the hard way for me thirty-five years ago when I was making a living in music. I had heard that the Ike & Tina Turner Revue—one of the hottest R&B groups on planet Earth at the time—were looking for a drummer. I was playing piano in honky-tonk bars at the time but drumming was what I did best, and I was able to talk my way into an audition.

I remembered seeing Ike & Tina open for the Rolling Stones at the LA Forum when Tina upstaged them with a wildly feverish performance that forever put her on the map as a powerhouse singer. The Ike & Tina Revue were a world-class act.