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Interviewing the Legends: Rock Stars & Celebs

Interviewing the Legends: Rock Stars & Celebs

Interviewing the Legends with Your Host ... Music Journalist, Talk Show Host and Author Ray Shasho

INTERVIEWING THE LEGENDS is devoted to promoting musicians worldwide. We spotlight exclusive in-depth interviews with both legendary and up and coming music artists and celebrities. We also feature the movers and shakers of the music and publishing industries.  


Rock and Roll, the Blues, and Jazz are America’s contribution to the arts, so why are we not fighting to preserve our own musical legacy and culture?

With roots from the early blues pioneers, the longevity of rock and roll is second to none. But strangely enough, those legendary rock heroes that we were so accustomed to hearing every time we turned our radios on, had mysteriously vanished from the mainstream. The music of the 1960s, 70s, and even the 80s was an important juncture in all of our lives. So many of us timeline life’s precious moments with the music we remember, when the music was so great, when the music mattered. The baby boomer generation is financially imperative to many, yet many of its entertainment standards have been renounced.

One day, the plug was pulled on those legendary music artists. Hackers began stealing music across the internet. Online music stores popularized cheap digital singles and neglected to promote full-length albums. Radio stations changed formats to accommodate talk show radio jocks, while rappers and electronic dance music menaced the airwaves. Notorious record companies began folding in droves. Record companies and radio stations that were once owned and operated by visionaries, were now run by accountants and lawyers, and the music world began promoting untalented wannabes. The economy plummeted, and radio stations became more concerned about how many consecutive commercials they could run instead of providing quality radio programming and entertainment value. Radio stations became corporate machines leaving no room for innovation. Throughout the 2000s, recording studios and live performances began using an audio processor called “Auto-Tune” to disguise off-key inaccuracies in vocal tracks. The device allowed virtually anyone without music skills to become a singer and new waves of mainstream radio stars were instantly fabricated. The business of music became stronger and more important than the art of music.

For more than a decade, I’ve been on a rock and roll pilgrimage to help promote and save the greatest music the world has ever known. Before the internet and Napster, virtuoso musicians traditionally introduced their music by way of mainstream radio stations while anxious music enthusiasts hurried to their favorite record stores and purchased a copy of the artist’s latest release. Talk radio wasn’t popular because there was way too much great music to play over the airwaves. Advertisers didn’t rule the airwaves, the music did. Rock legends toured the world to promote their latest albums and prices of concert tickets were extremely affordable. Proficient musicians, singers, and songwriters are what made the music so great.

I refused to simply write about the music and artists that influenced countless generations and millions upon millions of music fans worldwide, that would be way too easy. It has already been done a gazillion times over the years. Instead, I brought the actual music legend to the reader. From January 2010 through the present day, I’ve conducted over 1,000 candid interviews with some of the greatest music legends of our time. After reading each interview, it will seem like you’re the one chatting with your favorite rock hero. Even though their music lives on…the artists are vanishing and will soon be gone forever!

These recent and candid interviews include the following: life changing events, band feuds that have lasted for decades, love affairs with bandmates, drug induced stories, spirituality, metaphysical beliefs, Woodstock memories, Joplin and Hendrix tidbits, mafia-owned record companies, untold stories about The Beatles, royalty issues, management and record company thieving and conniving, political views, conspiracy theories, humorous and tragic anecdotes, transitioning to Christianity, and suicide. 

Since I was a kid growing up in Baltimore, Maryland in the 1960s, I was dubbed “Rock Raymond” by friends and family for my bona fide love, passion, and obsession of rock music. In high school, I attended hundreds of rock concerts and even took a job at the famed Capital Centre arena to meet and greet my favorite rock stars before and after their shows. After graduating from a CBS owned broadcasting school in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, I became a Top 40 radio deejay in the late 70s and early 80s, and my life became the music. Unfortunately, radio stations trusted computers (Arbitron ratings) over human instincts. It was the early radio jocks who discovered great music and put it out over the airwaves. Radio became mundane when they began mimicking each other based on the Arbitrons.

After my stint in radio, I became an entrepreneur in electronics, a family-owned and operated cutting-edge retail electronic business in Washington, D.C. I witnessed all the technological advancements firsthand, and how it affected the music industry. I followed the technology from early transistor radios, record players, reel-to-reel tape recorders, cassette and eight track tape players, Walkmans, and CD players, to MP3s. Some of my clients included the following: Chuck Norris, James Mason, Ted Williams, Alex Haley, Art Buchwald, Dick Gregory, Dionne Warwick, John Candy, Jon Voight and General Colin Powell.

I published my first novel entitled, Check the Gs, a comical and awe-inspiring novel about growing up in an eclectic family business. I subsequently released a second edition entitled, Wacky Shenanigans on F Street—Proud to be Politically Incorrect in Washington, D.C.

I became a classic rock music journalist in St. Petersburg, Florida. It started out as a fun gig to help promote my book, but something very extraordinary transformed. I began covering concerts and music events around the Tampa Bay area and decided to take a crack at interviewing some of the rock music legends that I idolized all my life. 

My very first “rock star” interview was Joe Lala who lived in Tampa, Florida. I contacted Joe by way of the internet and scheduled an interview at Joe’s home. I was surprised how cordial and amenable Joe was to tell the story about his rock and roll past. Joe and I spent hours together reliving his days of playing percussion with Blues Image, Stephen Stills and Manassas, The Bee Gees, and Firefall. Joe disclosed stories about jamming with Jimi Hendrix and throwing Mick Jagger out of his hotel room in New York City. After the interview, Joe asked me to be his personal assistant, and later, to help write his own personal memoir. I was so overwhelmed with the ease of the interview that I immediately began my search for the next one.

I quickly became one of the top music journalists in the country. My column was read by thousands of music enthusiasts daily. My in-depth interviews, album and concert reviews continue to be featured on artist websites around the globe.

I began asking each legendary musician, singer, and songwriter one question. If you had a “Field of Dreams” wish (like the movie); to play or collaborate with anyone from the past or present, who would that be? The question became eminent to the interviewer and interviewee, and the responses will surely surprise the most discerning music enthusiast.

Today, I’m the director of The Publicity Works Agency, a public relations firm specializing in publicity plans for musicians and authors. I’m also the host of The Ray Shasho Show on BBS Radio, spotlighting exclusive interviews with both legendary, and up-and-coming music artists, and authors. I also feature the movers and shakers of the music and publishing industries.

My objective is a sincere and a genuine labor of love—to promote the greatest music the world will ever know!

Wolfman Jack, the legendary radio deejay and the host of the “Midnight Special” (TV series) had this to say about radio:

 “In the old days I used to love the Top 40. We were getting 700 to 1,000 records a week, and out of that you had to pick three or four to go on the charts. The disc jockey had a lot more input about what would be played. A lot of people played their own thing. If a record came in, they would give it a try, and if it wasn’t that good, the public would take a shot at it to see if they liked it. If they didn’t like it, it would be off the air real fast.”

“Nowadays, computers pick everything out and it’s wrong. How many radio stations are not boring? That’s why the music business is not that hot, because radio is very boring. They’re listening more to computers, instead of gut feelings which used to make radio very interesting. It’s time for a change! I think we should turn everything around backwards and do it all differently. It would be terribly interesting; just throw all the rules out the window, and let’s go another way for a change and see what happens. I think there is so much music out there, and so many great new artists that aren’t getting any exposure. It’s ridiculous! To go with the same old thing repeatedly is boring me to death. I want to be entertained when I turn on the radio and I don’t find that anymore.”

Longtime artist and tour manager Derek Sutton, who currently manages guitar virtuoso Robin Trower, and represented Styx and Glass Tiger said:

 “We did not educate the audience that the stealing of songs by illegal downloads and copying and passing on hurts their musical idols, the people who make the music that give them the pleasure. It’s still going to be like that for the entire generation. Record companies and radio stations are barriers to the musicians playing music for their audiences. They’re no longer the carriers that enable the musician to go forward with their art. They are now in the way. The only way around them today is the internet. The music industry may need to totally collapse, for a new generation of entrepreneurs and people who care about music to rebuild it. Today’s music business is led by people who don’t give a damn about music.”

Derek Sutton also concluded:

 “For the known acts, without the record company and the big bank to support them, it is very difficult for them to make a living.”

Today, many of those rock and roll music legends must rely on Kickstarter campaigns to fund concert tours and production costs, which are funded by their fans.

Progressive rock musician Frank Zappa had this clever interpretation regarding the steady decline of the music industry:

 “One thing that happened in the 60s was that some music of an unusual or experimental nature did get recorded and did get released. The executives of those companies during those times were not hip young guys but cigar chomping old guys who looked at the product and said, ‘I don’t know, who knows what it is? Record it and stick it out there, if it sells, alright.’ We were better off with those guys than we are now with the supposedly hip young executives who are making the decisions of what people should see and hear in the marketplace. The young guys are more conservative and more dangerous to the art form than the old guys with cigars ever were.”

“Do you know how these young guys got in there? The old guy with the cigar one day says, ‘Well, I took a chance, it went out there and we sold a few million units. Now we’ve got to do more of it. I need some advice, let’s get a hippie in here.’ So, they hire a hippie. They bring in the guy with the long hair, but don’t trust him to do anything but carry coffee and bring the mail in and out. So, after a while they say, ‘Well, we can trust him; he brought the coffee four times and on time. Now let’s give him a real job.’ So, he becomes an A&R (Artists & Repertoire) man. He moves up, and up, and up, and next thing you know he’s got his feet on the desk and he’s saying, ‘Well, we can’t take a chance on this because it’s not what the kids really want…and I know!’ So, they created that attitude. We need to get rid of that attitude and bring back, ‘Who knows, take a chance,’ and get back that entrepreneurial spirit.”

In his induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame speech, legendary music artist Peter Gabriel had this to say to the next generation of musicians:

 “If you’re exploring making music and looking at us old-timers getting our decorations, I say two things: Dream big and let your imagination guide you, even if you end up dressing up as a flower or a sexually transmitted disease. They may think it’s a little strange. They may laugh at you, but just do it.”

“Secondly, surround yourself with brilliance—the brilliance of who you love being around and the brilliance of their talent.”

Multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, and producer Edgar Winter stated:

 “It’s interesting to me that in Europe and all over the world, blues and jazz musicians are really highly respected, but here in the U.S. you just can’t get arrested. I think it is kind of sad, but I believe that it will continue, and I don’t believe any of those forms will ever die. Certainly, Rock and Roll has proved its longevity. It has gone through a lot of changes, but I think that things are cyclic, and have a way of resurfacing.”

Randy Bachman, guitar hero, singer and songwriter of The Guess Who, BTO and Bachman & Turner told me in a recent interview:

 “I can tell you right now what will save rock and roll—radio! If radio would smarten up, and I’ve told this to every classic rock guy I’ve ever talked to. Play back-to-back songs by the same artist as a ‘then and now’ format. Here’s Aerosmith then, and here’s Aerosmith now. Here’s Heart then, and here’s Heart now. Here’s Peter Frampton then, and here’s Peter Frampton now. Here’s Bachman then, and here’s Bachman now. All of us have new CDs that we can’t get any airplay on, from these f**king guys who are playing our old hits. If they’d only play two together, it would revitalize rock and roll. There are no record stores anymore, but say you hear a new song by Heart, Aerosmith, or Randy Bachman. All you must do is go to our official websites and download it, or go to iTunes. So, it’s all up to radio, just like it was in the beginning, when radio began to play rock and roll.”

Al Kooper, founding member of Blood Sweat & Tears, The Blues Project, also known for his collaborations with Bob Dylan, Michael Bloomfield, Stephen Stills, The Rolling Stones, and many-many other legendary artists. The co-writer of the hit single, “This Diamond Ring,” producer for numerous bands including Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Tubes said:

 “The record companies are nothing like what they used to be, especially the majors. I don’t feel like I belong there anymore. I don’t understand what those people are doing up there. Consequently, I think it’s just really tough for new bands as a result.”

Blood, Sweat & Tears’ legendary soulful frontman David Clayton-Thomas, who is responsible for the timeless classic “Spinning Wheel” stated:

 “I think the musical climate was much different then. Today it seems that everybody wants to put out records to please the marketing guys, and it sounds like everything else on the radio. We came out of left field with Julliard graduates playing trombones, trumpets, and flutes with Basie-Ellington types of arrangements. We succeeded so quickly because it was so different, there was nothing like it out there. And in those days that was a bonus. Today, I think doing something completely different is almost career suicide. The record industry is another oxymoron along with jumbo shrimp, it’s pretty much gone. When was the last time you saw a record store? It’s been going for the last several years and I watched it go, and in some ways I’m kind of glad. Remember when the old studio system dissolved in Hollywood and all these wonderful independent films came out? They weren’t governed by the big corporate bureaucracies. In some ways, the artist has been under the thumb of the record company or the whim of the record company for so many years. I’ve talked with some of the early guys who invented rock and roll like Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats Domino; and these guys signed lifetime record contracts for a new Cadillac, and never saw a royalty check ever.

“Record executives follow trends…artists set trends. That’s the way it’s always been, especially now that the industry is running out of money and basically going broke, and a lot of the talent has left. When is the last time you saw an A&R (Artists & Repertoire) man at a record company? That post doesn’t exist anymore. Record companies are basically distributorships now. They could be selling toothpaste or hand soap. They’re just units to be moved, and not really a connection with the music. That’s why a lot of artists, even senior artists like myself, are moving away from the record industry.”

Songwriter, musician, and voice of a generation, “Melanie” Safka brilliantly ascertained:

 “This is what I remember happening when the 80s occurred, and clubs were opening based on a drug. The radio wall came down and it was unbelievable. I said in an interview that it was like a decisive battle and we lost. But nobody knows where and when it happened. But it did. A wall came down. That saying, ‘don’t trust anybody over thirty,’ became a fact. Then it was, ‘don’t sign anybody over thirty,’ and it became a doctrine between all the major record labels. It had nothing to do with the value of a young mind; it had more to do with an old person, philosophical attitudes, and swaying people. They didn’t want anybody up there that could sway anybody’s opinion. Youth culture had done politically what they wanted to do, and the manipulation began. Music is so powerful, and so healing, and that is what it was meant for.”

“But I really do believe that we are poised for the next great event. If it doesn’t happen, we’re headed for supreme dark ages. But I can sense that something big and wonderful is going to happen and I want to be there.”

Spooky Tooth legend and Top40s “Dreamweaver” Gary Wright stated:

 “Unfortunately, music devolved instead of evolved. The music business got into the hands of lawyers and accountants rather than the entrepreneurial creative people, and that’s when the beginning of the end started. It’s all based on money, instead of art and creativity.”

 “Most seasoned music artists are turning to do just live performances, and not releasing a lot of new material. Somebody told me the other day that Billy Joel wasn’t going to record any new albums, that he had no interest. Some people are saying, why make a new album if isn’t going to be heard? I have heard some new artists that are quite good, but it’s just so hard for them, if they get one hit that’s great, and very-very lucky if they get two. But it’s not a sustaining type of situation anymore, a career-building industry like it used to be.”

Even though we have seen a monumental change in music, the legends still have something to say. Their words cannot be silenced by radio waves. So, sit back, relax, and reminisce to those carefree days of your youth, when your heroes changed the way you looked and felt about life, and when the music set us free!

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