Since launching my career as a music journalist back in 1983, I’ve had the pleasure of personally interviewing some of the most famous and influential music artists and groups of all time. Of the thousands of interviews I’ve done over the years, nearly all were recorded on tape and transcribed – a method that can be time-consuming, but one that also ensures accuracy. Below is a sampling of some of the memorable quotes I’ve captured on record over the past 30 years.
Multiplatinum singer Christina Aguilera has released seven albums over the course of her career. Her most successful album to date remains 2006’s “Back To Basics” which, in a press release at the time of its release, she described “a throwback to the 20s, 30s, and 40s-style jazz, blues, and feel-good soul music, but with a modern twist.”
In a February 2007 telephone interview in support of the album and tour, Aguilera spoke about her growth as an artist, as well as her love for a wide variety of musical styles, especially the blues.
“I always just do what I feel,” Aguilera said. “With my first album, I kind of had to play by the rules and go accordingly to what my label wanted me to do. A few million records sold later, I was able to do what I wanted with ‘Stripped,’ which was kind of my own interpretation of my coming-of-age record. It was the first time that I felt that I could really be myself, write my own material, and express myself as the woman that I’d grown into at that point.
“While I was on tour with ‘Stripped,’ I started diving deeper into this place of inspiration. Blues, soul, and jazz music were always an inspiration for me, and I really felt that it was time to dive into that world, getting to know it better.
“There’s a lot of sadness in old music and in blues. It originates from pain and I think that’s really beautiful,” she says. “I talk openly about my past and what I’ve gone through – abuse being something that was very real in my household, and a lot of chaos growing up as a child. I think that I naturally just gravitated towards music that I could really feel on a deep level – and that meant sadness. I was able to connect with that at a really young age.”
– Christina Aguilera, February 2007
Edgar Winter is a rock and blues musician best known for hits like “Frankenstein,” and “Free Ride.” For several years he toured with Ringo Starr as part of Ringo’s “All Starr Band.” In June 2008, Winter shared his feelings about the Beatles and talked about his experience performing on stage with Ringo Starr.
“I stand in awe of the Beatles and what they created,” he said. “They changed the world. They were bigger than life. They were bigger than the world stage onto which they stepped. I really feel like they caused a paradigm shift that changed the mindset of an entire generation and brought about a revolution in the freedom of thought and a renaissance in spirituality. And I think that Ringo carries on that spirit that the Beatles came to represent, because he’s such a heartfelt advocate and spokesman for peace and love.
“Every morning on the past tour I would wake up and say, ‘Wow I can’t believe going to be walking on stage with Ringo Starr, with one of the Beatles.’ It’s just such an honor.”
– Edgar Winter, June 2008
Erie, Pennsylvania native Pat Monahan is the lead singer and songwriter of Train, one of the most successful rock bands of the last 15 years. In April 2006 interview, I asked Monahan how he felt about Train being compared to older, classic rock bands as opposed to younger contemporaries.
“We can’t be insulted by comparisons to classic rock bands,” he said. “You’re talking about a bunch of guys whose lives changed when they saw classic rock bands. If ten years from now, some guy in a band comes to me and says ‘Dude, your band changed my life,’ then amen baby! I love being the band that carries that torch, because if you ever saw Aerosmith or Van Halen live, your life was different when you walked out of that building. If we can do that to ten people, that’s great.”
– Pat Monahan, April 2006
Singer-songwriter Barry Manilow was the most successful balladeer in pop music from the mid-70s to the early 80s. He has had dozens of Top-40 hits, including “Mandy,” “Weekend in New England,” “I Write the Songs,” and “Looks Like We Made It.” In 2006 he returned to the top of the charts with the albums, “The Greatest Songs of the Fifties” and “The Greatest Songs of the Sixties.”
In an October 2006 interview, Manilow acknowledged that his success and style of music has also attracted a considerable number of detractors. He spoke about the loyalty of his fans, who have supported him in good times and bad.
“I’m so grateful that they’ve been with me for all these years,” he said. “It’s been tough for them. It’s not easy being a Barry Manilow fan. You get a lot of shit for that. It’s easier for people to say that they like Bruce Springsteen or Bon Jovi, than it is for them to say they like what I do, because what I do is so personal. It’s like talking about religion – you just don’t talk about it. The kind of music that I make is yours, it’s your personal thing. You take it to your room and listen to it by yourself. You don’t talk about it. It’s easy to say you love Steely Dan, but it’s not so easy to say that you love an artist whose music has helped you through some very lonely times. I may be one of the guys that do that.”
– Barry Manilow, October 2006
KISS will be inducted into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame this year – an honor that millions of fans feel is long overdue. Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to interview cofounders Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons on several occasions.
In 1992, kiss was enjoying a renaissance on the strength of its “Revenge” album. The album marked the debut of drummer Eric Singer, who joined the band after the death of Eric Carr from cancer in 1991.
In a September 1992 interview, lead singer and guitarist Paul Stanley spoke about Carr’s passing.
“It would minimize Eric as a person to talk about how his death affected the band,” he said. “Music and being in a band is so small in the scope of being alive. Eric’s illness was a tremendous blow to me as a person. To have somebody call you up and tell you that they’ve got a tumor in their heart is devastating. The whole thing was a nightmare – to see somebody who you think of as family in a helpless situation, where you may be more aware than they are that they’re dying, and there’s nothing you can do about it. As much as I may miss him in the band, I miss him more as a friend being alive. A person like that should be alive. He had too much to offer, and he was too good a person. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t think about him. That goes way beyond music.”
– Paul Stanley, September 1992
In a November 1998 interview, Gene Simmons talked about the added difficulty of touring in a band in which fans expect more than simply a musical experience.
“Our point of view is we want to spoil you,” he said. “You deserve it. You deserve the best. You should have a band that rocks, but also gives you treats for your eyes. If we were a new band, say a band like Green Day – which is a fine band with good songs – it would be so much easier to put on shows and tour. Before each show, I’ve got to take two hours to put on makeup and a heavy outfit with studs and leather and armor. I sometimes think this is the hardest band to be in. Other guys just go out there and sing songs. I’ve got to fly to the top of the rafters, throw up blood, and spit fire every show.”
– Gene Simmons, November 1998
Singer-songwriter Avril Lavigne scored a platinum album and several Top-10 hits before her 18th birthday. With a guitar rock sound flavored with a bit of pop and punk, Lavigne was dubbed the “anti-Britney” early in her career. For her second album, “Under My Skin,” Lavigne’s songwriting took a more serious, introspective approach. But on her third album, “The Best Damn Thing,” Lavigne returned to a more upbeat pop style. In a February 2008 interview, she talked about the inspiration for the album.
“A lot of my inspiration for this record came from my live show, knowing what kind of songs I wanted to play live,” Lavigne said. “I started writing right away, and all I wanted to do was just write really fun songs that weren’t serious, because my previous record was really dark and deep. I had spent a year and a half singing those songs, so now I wanted to go and write really fun, upbeat songs. I love playing songs like ‘Sk8er Boi’ on stage because the crowd just reacts, and I love it when everyone is freaking out and jumping around. I like playing fast songs. I want my entire set to be fast.”
– Avril Lavigne, February 2008