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"They've all gone to look for America."

Today marks another anniversary of a life-changing event for me, though not a fun one. On a hot Tuesday evening in the spring of 1968, my folk-rock band, The Morning, was in New York to open the show for comedian David Steinberg at The Bitter End in Greenwich Village. After the gig, in the early morning hours of June 5th, several of us drove up the Hudson River to spend the night at the West Nyack home of the Kastners, the accommodating parents of our guitarist, Mat.

Upon arrival I resumed my usual late-night ritual of ransacking the Kastner kitchen for anything edible. ("Starving artist" was more than a metaphor for me at the time.) I was busily engaged in a Heimlich maneuver on the refrigerator when the phone startled me around 3:30am. Within two minutes, Mat's dad, Joseph Kastner (who happened to be Life magazine's copy editor), appeared in the kitchen doorway in his pajamas to announce that Robert Kennedy had been shot in a Los Angeles hotel. Kennedy had just won the all-important California primary election, giving him favored status to win the Democratic presidential nomination that summer and setting up a likely campaign against Richard Nixon in the general election. But within a day, Bobby Kennedy would die of gunshot wounds to the head.


Who works for whom?

Thanks to some lively dialogue on other blogs, I've been reminded of what I dislike most about traditional business: the antediluvian notion that the team, group, or organization works for management, rather than the other way around.

I suppose that's come to be accepted because in most companies managers actually do the hiring. But it doesn't need to be that way.

In fact, in my first dozen years of business I was exposed to a different model. Every organization or business team that I worked for hired—and fired—its management. (The team usually did the recruiting as well.) The team made the decision regarding who was going to manage it, and it was cloudlessly clear who worked for whom. The business team in this case was a rock & roll band.

Here's how it works in the world of R&R…


My bank pays me to wait.

After reading several posts by Judith Ellis on the ubiquitous decline of service these days, I was reminded of my ongoing complaints with my own bank in the Boston area—against which I previously railed in a post at TomPeters.com.

I decided to reprise it below because it still fits two years later!

This bank epitomizes the lack of imagination and spirit that I see in many businesses—and most banks.


My interview in Produce Business magazine.

A few months back I was interviewed by Produce Business magazine on the ever-popular topic of leadership. I've included an excerpt below, though I didn't mention at the time the influence of rock & roll on my thinking about leadership.

Looking back on it now, I can see that I began to identify critical leadership qualities from working with or closely observing successful musicians, talent agents, business managers, equipment managers, sound engineers, record producers, club owners, and concert promoters. (Of course some of those individuals lacked one or more of these qualities, which had a negative impact on their results—but that was equally instructive to me!)

Anyway, here's a brief excerpt from the interview…


A night with Eric Clapton and Cream.

April 10 marks the fortieth anniversary of one of the more memorable events of my life. On that Wednesday evening in 1968 my rock band opened for Eric Clapton's Cream at Yale's venerable Woolsey Hall in New Haven.

Cream, the hottest supergroup on the scene, featuring the most critically acclaimed rock guitarist on the planet, was the envy of every pop musician I knew. Eric Clapton on guitar, Jack Bruce on bass and vocals, and Ginger Baker on drums were considered, well, the cream of the crop.

To add to their reputation, their latest single, "Sunshine of Your Love," had become a top forty hit. (It was one of those propitious moments when quality musicianship was rewarded with commercial success.)

My own band, The Morning—a local psych-folk-rock band composed of four Yale students and legendary Greenwich Village singer Randy Burns—was given the opportunity to open for these British demigods and we jumped at the chance.


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