That time I asked J.J. Cale if he’d bought anything nice with his Clapton money

By Steve Newton Back in 1990 I did my first interview with J.J. Cale, who you may recall is one of the wickedest damn songwriters and guitar players that the United States of America has ever produced. A couple of years earlier there was a TV commercial for Michelob beer in heavy rotation, featuring Cale’s … Continue reading That time I asked J.J. Cale if he’d bought anything nice with his Clapton money

That time Gary Moore told me how he scored Peter Green’s ’59 Les Paul

By Steve Newton Gary Moore has been one of my fave guitarists ever since I heard him with Thin Lizzy back in the seventies. I then closely followed his hard-rock/metal solo career in the ’80s, before he got the blues bigtime in 1990. I was fortunate enough to have interviewed the legendary picker once, back in … Continue reading That time Gary Moore told me how he scored Peter Green’s ’59 Les Paul

That time Roy Buchanan told me that Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour was just a bluesman at heart

By Steve Newton I’ve been getting quite a few hits lately for a blog I posted about Danny Gatton, which included an audio excerpt from the interview I did with the underrated guitar genius back in 1993. So I figured maybe it was time to treat that particular group of Ear of Newt readers–the ones … Continue reading That time Roy Buchanan told me that Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour was just a bluesman at heart

That time Dickey Betts told me about Gregg Allman’s writer’s block

By Steve Newton When I interviewed Allman Brothers guitarist Dickey Betts back in July of 1991, the band had just released its Shades of Two Worlds album, its second to feature the amazing Warren Haynes as a fully fledged member. As on the previous year’s Seven Turns album, Betts and Haynes had written or cowritten the vast … Continue reading That time Dickey Betts told me about Gregg Allman’s writer’s block

That time Gord Downie told me his original lyrics for the Tragically Hip’s “Ahead By a Century”

By Steve Newton In October of 1996 I did my fifth and final interview with the Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie, which became a main source for my 2018 coffeetable book on him. At one point during the lengthy conversation I brought up “Ahead By a Century”, the band’s highest charting single, off their ’96 … Continue reading That time Gord Downie told me his original lyrics for the Tragically Hip’s “Ahead By a Century”

That time Albert King tried telling me that he wrote “As the Years Go Passing By”

By Steve Newton As a blues fan I’ve been extremely lucky to have interviewed some of the genre’s greatest talents, including B.B. King, Albert Collins, Roy Buchanan, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Buddy Guy. But I was particularly thrilled when I got to chat with Albert King, back in 1990, two years before “The Velvet Bulldozer” … Continue reading That time Albert King tried telling me that he wrote “As the Years Go Passing By”

That time Dickey Betts told me the secret of the Allman Brothers’ longevity

By Steve Newton It’s been a sad week for fans of the Allman Brothers Band, following the news of original drummer Butch Trucks’ death at the age of 69. I never got the opportunity to interview Trucks–although I have chatted with his nephew, Derek, and fellow ABB founding members Gregg Allman and Dickey Betts. During … Continue reading That time Dickey Betts told me the secret of the Allman Brothers’ longevity

That time Greg Lake told me that what attracted diehard Emerson, Lake & Palmer fans to the band was “music”

By Steve Newton I was a big Emerson, Lake & Palmer fan back in the day. Actually, I was mostly a big Brain Salad Surgery fan back in the day, that day being sometime back in 1973. I didn’t own a lot of other ELP albums, mainly because I was too busy buying albums with … Continue reading That time Greg Lake told me that what attracted diehard Emerson, Lake & Palmer fans to the band was “music”

Tosin Abasi doesn’t think Yngwie Malmsteen is a pompous ass: “It’s just his clarity of vision”

By Steve Newton When I interviewed guitar hero Tosin Abasi before the Animals as Leaders concert in Vancouver last month, I asked him a few questions about the pickers he’d performed with earlier this year on the Generation Axe tour. As well as Steve Vai, Zakk Wylde, and Nuno Bettencourt, Abasi was in the company … Continue reading Tosin Abasi doesn’t think Yngwie Malmsteen is a pompous ass: “It’s just his clarity of vision”

That time I asked Dickey Betts what song Duane Allman and the Skynyrd boys might be playing in heaven

By Steve Newton If you think I got into journalism at the age of 23–first at my hometown’s Chilliwack Progress and then, for the last 34 years, at Vancouver’s Georgia Straight–mainly so I could interview guitar heroes like Dickey Betts, you’re damn rights. I’ve loved Dickey ever since I heard him and Duane on Eat a … Continue reading That time I asked Dickey Betts what song Duane Allman and the Skynyrd boys might be playing in heaven

That time J.J. Cale told me that Eric Clapton had paid his rent for the last 30 years

By Steve Newton J.J. Cale is the coolest musician I’ve ever interviewed, and I’ve interviewed quite a few. Talk about laid back and down to earth. And what a wicked guitar player, as if being one of the world’s finest songwriters weren’t enough. I did my first interview with him in 1990, and my second … Continue reading That time J.J. Cale told me that Eric Clapton had paid his rent for the last 30 years

That time 23-year-old James Hetfield told me that Metallica’s new bassist was “fairly goofy”

By Steve Newton Back in 1986 I interviewed Metallica’s James Hetfield in his messy Vancouver hotel room. The band had just hired Jason Newsted, who had beaten out a barrage of hopefuls for the prized role of bassist, taking over from the deceased Cliff Burton. At one point Hetfield explained how Metallica had found Newsted, how … Continue reading That time 23-year-old James Hetfield told me that Metallica’s new bassist was “fairly goofy”

That time I asked 18-year-old guitar star Derek Trucks who he’d most like to jam with

his wish to jam with B.B. came true By Steve Newton The first time I interviewed Derek Trucks–back in March of 1998, when he was just 18–I mentioned that he’d already played with famous folks like Bob Dylan and Buddy Guy, but wondered who else he’d most like to jam with. He mentioned a couple … Continue reading That time I asked 18-year-old guitar star Derek Trucks who he’d most like to jam with

That time 18-year-old Derek Trucks told me that Jimi Hendrix was beyond comparison to anybody

By Steve Newton The vast majority of stories posted on Ear of Newt are taken from my 38 years (and counting!) as a freelance writer for the Georgia Straight newspaper in Vancouver, but every now and again I’ve landed articles in other publications. Back in 1998 an interview I did with 18-year-old slide-guitar wunderkind Derek Trucks … Continue reading That time 18-year-old Derek Trucks told me that Jimi Hendrix was beyond comparison to anybody

That time I asked 18-year-old Derek Trucks if he got tired of the Duane Allman comparisons

By Steve Newton When slide-guitar master Derek Trucks was only 18 I called him up at his place in Jacksonville, Florida, and we chatted for a while. This was five months after the release of the Derek Trucks Band’s self-titled debut album, and already his playing style was being compared a lot to that of … Continue reading That time I asked 18-year-old Derek Trucks if he got tired of the Duane Allman comparisons

That time Jeff Beck told me that John McLaughlin was “the greatest player around”

me ‘n Jeff By Steve Newton In my 35 years of writing about rock musicians I’ve never been as psyched as I was back in January 2001 when I got the chance to interview Jeff Beck. He was heading to Vancouver for a rare club appearance at the historic Commodore Ballroom, and I contacted him in … Continue reading That time Jeff Beck told me that John McLaughlin was “the greatest player around”

That time Donald “Duck” Dunn told me that Eric Clapton was the best all-around guitarist he ever worked with

By Steve Newton Bass players don’t get much more special than Donald “Duck” Dunn. As a session musician for Stax Records, Dunn brought the bottom end on scores of legendary tracks, including gems like Otis Redding’s “Respect”, Sam & Dave’s “Hold On, I’m Comin’”, and Albert King’s “Born Under a Bad Sign”. He was also the bassist … Continue reading That time Donald “Duck” Dunn told me that Eric Clapton was the best all-around guitarist he ever worked with

Graham Bonnet on that infamous MSG gig of ’82: “If your pants had split down the front and your cock fell out, what would you do?”

By Steve Newton Back in 1984 I interviewed British hard-rock vocalist Graham Bonnet, who at the time was fronting a band called Alcatrazz, which boasted a hot-shot (but barely known) guitarist by the name of Yngwie Malmsteen. Two years earlier Bonnet had gotten kicked out of the Michael Schenker Group, who he recorded the 1982 … Continue reading Graham Bonnet on that infamous MSG gig of ’82: “If your pants had split down the front and your cock fell out, what would you do?”

Tal Wilkenfeld on life’s defining points, like auditioning for Jeff Beck in an altered state

By Steve Newton Tal Wilkenfeld has accomplished an awful lot since emigrating to the U.S. from Australia in 2002 as a teen. She’s performed with jazz greats Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, and Wayne Shorter, and at the age of 20 recorded her 2007 debut album, the all-instrumental Transformation, which she composed, produced, arranged, and played … Continue reading Tal Wilkenfeld on life’s defining points, like auditioning for Jeff Beck in an altered state

Graham Bonnet was bandmates with Ritchie Blackmore, Michael Schenker, and Yngwie Malmsteen, but called Gary Moore his hero

By Steve Newton When I interviewed Graham Bonnet back in 1984 he was fronting a hard-rock/metal band called Alcatrazz that featured an unknown guitarist named Yngwie Malmsteen, who would not stay unknown for long. Two years earlier Bonnet had been a member of the Michael Schenker Group, which also boasted an amazing guitar player, a guy … Continue reading Graham Bonnet was bandmates with Ritchie Blackmore, Michael Schenker, and Yngwie Malmsteen, but called Gary Moore his hero

That time I asked bass goddess Tal Wilkenfeld how she got so goddamn good

By Steve Newton Sometimes when I listen to a musician perform I wonder to myself, “How did they get so goddamn good?” And sometimes–if I meet said musician in my capacity as a music writer–I’ll just flat out ask them how they got so goddamn good. I did it with guitarist Guthrie Govan in 2015, and … Continue reading That time I asked bass goddess Tal Wilkenfeld how she got so goddamn good

That time Graham Bonnet told me that Ritchie Blackmore was just a real nice, shy guy

By Steve Newton Ritchie Blackmore is one of my favourite guitarists of all time. As a 15-year-old when Machine Head was released in 1972, I could barely comprehend how great his guitar solo on “Highway Star” made me feel. Over and over again. Two years later he did it again with the lead break on “Burn”. … Continue reading That time Graham Bonnet told me that Ritchie Blackmore was just a real nice, shy guy

Graham Bonnet on unknown Alcatrazz guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen in ’84: “He’s one day gonna be a star, I think”

By Steve Newton Back in the ’80s one of my jobs at the Georgia Straight newspaper in Vancouver was to cover the hard-rock/heavy metal beat. Soon after getting hired as a proofreader/typesetter in ’82 I was doing articles on Priest, Scorps, Maiden, and Ozzy, which–to my utter delight–often ended up as the cover story. Metal was … Continue reading Graham Bonnet on unknown Alcatrazz guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen in ’84: “He’s one day gonna be a star, I think”

Duane Allman and Berry Oakley’s motorcycle deaths couldn’t keep the Midnight Rider off his bike

By Steve Newton I’ve been on a bit of an Allman Brothers bender of late. It started a while back when Gregg had to cancel some shows due to a “serious illness”. He’s feeling much better now, I’ve heard, but I still wanted to send good thoughts while continuously cranking out the four-CD Dreams box … Continue reading Duane Allman and Berry Oakley’s motorcycle deaths couldn’t keep the Midnight Rider off his bike

Ever wonder why the Allman Brothers look so damn happy on the cover of At Fillmore East?

By Steve Newton The Allman Brothers’ At Fillmore East is widely recognized as one of the greatest live albums in rock history. And you won’t get any arguments about that from me. The band was at its peak, guitarists Duane Allman and Dickey Betts trading the type of inspired licks that would make future ABB … Continue reading Ever wonder why the Allman Brothers look so damn happy on the cover of At Fillmore East?

That time Gregg Allman told me how Allman Brothers roadie Red Dog dared him to redo “Whipping Post”

By Steve Newton When I interviewed Gregg Allman back in February of 1998 he was touring behind his fifth solo release, Searching for Simplicity. That album opened with an unplugged version of “Whipping Post”, the song he wrote for the Allman Brothers’ debut album in 1969, but which didn’t reach its full potential until it … Continue reading That time Gregg Allman told me how Allman Brothers roadie Red Dog dared him to redo “Whipping Post”

That time Malcolm Young told me that if AC/DC started looking a little “cabaret” they wouldn’t be around much longer

By Steve Newton When I interviewed some of the guys from AC/DC back in ’83, on the eve of the Flick of the Switch tour, I asked them which groups they liked listening to in their spare time. Both Brian Johnson and Malcolm Young mentioned ZZ Top. “I just like their attitude and all ya … Continue reading That time Malcolm Young told me that if AC/DC started looking a little “cabaret” they wouldn’t be around much longer