Album review: Various Artists, We’re a Happy Family—A Tribute to Ramones (2003)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, FEB. 27, 2003 By Steve Newton You don’t fuck with the Ramones. And one of the best ways to not fuck with them is to not change their music around; i.e., slow it down. Somebody should have pointed that obvious fact out to Marilyn Manson before they let the … Continue reading Album review: Various Artists, We’re a Happy Family—A Tribute to Ramones (2003)

That time Johnny Ramone told me why the Ramones covered the Doors’ “Take It as It Comes”

By Steve Newton I got to interview legendary punk-rock guitarist Johnny Ramone a couple of times, once way back in 1983 and again in ’92, when the Ramones were touring Brazil in support of their Mondo Bizarro album. That album featured a pretty nifty cover of the Doors’ 1967 tune “Take It As it Comes”, with … Continue reading That time Johnny Ramone told me why the Ramones covered the Doors’ “Take It as It Comes”

That time I called Johnny Ramone up in Rio and he said the Ramones were huge down there

By Steve Newton Back in September of 1992 I did my second interview with punk-rock guitar legend Johnny Ramone. (Here’s my first one, from 1983.) At the time the Ramones were touring South America, promoting their brand new album Mondo Bizarro. Johnny took my call at his hotel in Rio, just as he was about … Continue reading That time I called Johnny Ramone up in Rio and he said the Ramones were huge down there

The Ramones stay fast and furious on Mondo Bizarro

ORIGINALLY POSTED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 1, 1992 By Steve Newton The Ramones have come a long way since their ear-bustin’ brand of music first helped kick-start the late-’70s punk-rock craze. The band is still delivering the same barrage of noise—three-minute, three-chord tunes played fast and furious, with humorous lyrics and wacky titles like … Continue reading The Ramones stay fast and furious on Mondo Bizarro

Ramones box set boasts over 75 tunes on six discs

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, NOV. 13, 2013 By Steve Newton Like the band itself, there’s nothing fancy about the new Ramones boxed set, The Sire Years: 1976-1981. The seminal NYC punks just collected their first six albums—Ramones (’76), Leave Home and Rocket to Russia (’77), Road to Ruin (’78), the Phil Spector-produced End of the Century (’80), and Pleasant Dreams (’81)—and stuck ’em in a little box. … Continue reading Ramones box set boasts over 75 tunes on six discs

Johnny Ramone says being in the Ramones “beats working”

By Steve Newton Whether you remember or not, May of 1983 was a great month for historic rock concerts in Vancouver. On May 9 Roxy Music played the Pacific Coliseum, performing tunes from its final studio album, Avalon. Then on the 25th a little band from Ireland named U2 played the Queen E., blasting out political … Continue reading Johnny Ramone says being in the Ramones “beats working”

Yngwie Malmsteen shreds on what he once called “a piece of furniture”: the Gibson Les Paul

By Steve Newton One of my most popular posts on Ear of Newt is the one where Yngwie Malmsteen calls Ibanez guitars “a bad copy” of the Strat and says Les Pauls are “furniture”. Well, if you ever wondered what the Swedish Fender freak would sound like shredding on a piece of furniture, here ya … Continue reading Yngwie Malmsteen shreds on what he once called “a piece of furniture”: the Gibson Les Paul

That time Derek Trucks told me about watching a hip Barack Obama mouth Howlin’ Wolf lyrics

By Steve Newton I’ve interviewed slide-guitar master Derek Trucks three times so far, including back in 1999 when he was only 20 years old. We had our second conversation 13 years later, when he was touring with his wife Susan and their 11-piece band, Tedeschi Trucks. Four months earlier Trucks had performed for Barack Obama … Continue reading That time Derek Trucks told me about watching a hip Barack Obama mouth Howlin’ Wolf lyrics

That time J.D. Fortune told me about the pressure of competing in the reality show Rock Star: INXS

By Steve Newton I interviewed INXS vocalist J.D. Fortune in January of 2006, two weeks before the band kicked off a North American Tour in Vancouver. The Canadian singer had earned the frontman position with the Aussie group the year before by winning the 11-week reality-TV competition Rock Star: INXS. So at one point in … Continue reading That time J.D. Fortune told me about the pressure of competing in the reality show Rock Star: INXS

That time Fernando von Arb called and told me that Krokus was kicking Sammy Hagar’s ass on tour

By Steve Newton If you’re old like me you may remember Swiss metal band Krokus for that early-’80s tune “Long Stick Goes Boom” and for the fact that they sounded a lot like AC/DC. I interviewed guitarist Fernando von Arb on November 12, 1984, three months after the release of the group’s Vancouver-made, Bruce Fairbairn-produced … Continue reading That time Fernando von Arb called and told me that Krokus was kicking Sammy Hagar’s ass on tour

That time I told Gary Moore it was the shits that he wasn’t coming to Vancouver with Rush

By Steve Newton It’s Gary Moore‘s birthday today–he would have been 69–so I figured I’d post an audio excerpt from my one and only interview with the Irish guitar legend, one of the finest pickers to ever pick up the instrument. It was May 11, 1984, and Moore was opening for Rush on their Grace … Continue reading That time I told Gary Moore it was the shits that he wasn’t coming to Vancouver with Rush

That time Steve Clark told me why it took Def Leppard so long to follow up Pyromania with Hysteria

By Steve Newton Back in the ’80s, most successful recording bands liked to put an album out every year. Sometimes they’d skip a year, to vacation in the Bahamas or release a live or best-of LP. After three years their fans would start to get a bit worried, and so would their record label–especially if … Continue reading That time Steve Clark told me why it took Def Leppard so long to follow up Pyromania with Hysteria

That time Long John Baldry told me that he inspired Eric Clapton to take up guitar

By Steve Newton Long John Baldry had a huge influence on the British blues scene in the sixties. In fact, when I interviewed Baldry back in 1985, he confirmed that none other than Slowhand himself was urged to take up the guitar after seeing him perform. Have a listen: To hear the full audio of … Continue reading That time Long John Baldry told me that he inspired Eric Clapton to take up guitar

That time Robin Gibb told me that the Bee Gees had never been a disco group

By Steve Newton Back in the ’70s when rock music was having a huge impact on me I was rabidly anti-disco. I didn’t go so far as to wear a “Disco Sucks” t-shirt like one of my high school buddies, but I was with him in spirit. But in 1977, when the blockbuster Saturday Night … Continue reading That time Robin Gibb told me that the Bee Gees had never been a disco group

That time I told “Gatemouth” Brown that he played pretty good boogie for a 73-year-old

By Steve Newton Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown was one of those old blues guys who didn’t talk much–especially during interviews. When I chatted with him back in 1997 he was 73, and touring behind an album called Long Way Home that featured guest spots by Leon Russell, Eric Clapton, Ry Cooder, and Sonny Landreth. At one … Continue reading That time I told “Gatemouth” Brown that he played pretty good boogie for a 73-year-old

That time I asked Danny Gatton, the world’s greatest unknown guitarist, if he wished he were better known

By Steve Newton Danny Gatton has long been described as “the world’s greatest unknown guitarist.” Some have argued that that title is more suited to Roy Buchanan, but I think it’s safe to say that Gatton is the lesser known of the two relatively unheralded Telecaster masters. At least it seemed that way to me … Continue reading That time I asked Danny Gatton, the world’s greatest unknown guitarist, if he wished he were better known

That time 21-year-old Exodus guitarist Gary Holt told me that he couldn’t say enough bad things about Mötley Crüe

By Steve Newton Way back on July 24 of 1985 I interviewed the guitarists from three fast-rising (but still kinda underground) thrash metal bands: Gary Holt of Exodus, Kurdt Vanderhoof of Metal Church, and John Ricci of Exciter. All three groups were headed to Vancouver for a three-night “Metal Massacre” at the New York Theatre, … Continue reading That time 21-year-old Exodus guitarist Gary Holt told me that he couldn’t say enough bad things about Mötley Crüe

That time I asked Guns N’ Roses keyboardist Dizzy Reed if Metallica ever blew his band off the stage

By Steve Newton I interviewed Guns N’ Roses keyboardist Dizzy Reed on August 5, 1992, while his band was in the midst of a coheadlining stadium tour with Metallica. The tour was scheduled to hit Vancouver’s BC Place Stadium on August 17–with openers Faith No More–but three days after this chat James Hetfield got badly … Continue reading That time I asked Guns N’ Roses keyboardist Dizzy Reed if Metallica ever blew his band off the stage