That time Jason Isbell told me he was in a Ford Econoline E350 van and his band cracked up at that

FSimani photo By Steve Newton The Drive-By Truckers are probably my favourite band right now. They were also my favourite band back when Jason Isbell was in the lineup. I did my first interview with him in 2007, after he’d left the DBTs and was promoting his debut solo album, Sirens of the Ditch. I … Continue reading That time Jason Isbell told me he was in a Ford Econoline E350 van and his band cracked up at that

That time Steve Vai told me that a teenage out-of-body experience inspired his Passion and Warfare

By Steve Newton Steve Vai blew a lot of guitar freaks away when he released his Passion and Warfare album back in May of 1990. I was one of them. Just as the album hit record-store shelves  I interviewed the 29-year-old fret master and asked him about the “dream state” experience that inspired it. Have … Continue reading That time Steve Vai told me that a teenage out-of-body experience inspired his Passion and Warfare

Joey Belladonna talks rap/metal crossover while Anthrax and Public Enemy bring the noise on tour

By Steve Newton Back in the eighties there was a thing called “The Big Four” which meant the top four American thrash-metal bands, including Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, and Slayer. I never interviewed anybody in Slayer, but I have interviewed two members of Metallica (James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich), three members of Megadeth (Dave Mustaine, Marty … Continue reading Joey Belladonna talks rap/metal crossover while Anthrax and Public Enemy bring the noise on tour

That time I thanked Ace Frehley for all those awesome Kiss guitar licks that got me riled up as a teen

By Steve Newton If you’d told me when the first Kiss album came out in ’74 that one day I’d be interviewing the guy playing all those wicked Les Paul licks on “Deuce” and “Strutter” my teenaged self mighta hollered “Hell yeah!” And 34 years later there I was, talkin’ on the phone with Ace … Continue reading That time I thanked Ace Frehley for all those awesome Kiss guitar licks that got me riled up as a teen

That time I asked Joe Satriani why he chose Ibanez guitars instead of Strats and Les Pauls

By Steve Newton I’ve interviewed Joe Satriani eight times because, hey, nobody plays guitar like Satch. He’s one of a kind. The last time I interviewed him was in 2018, and the first time was way the funk back in January of 1990, when he was touring behind his stunning Flying in a Blue Dream album. … Continue reading That time I asked Joe Satriani why he chose Ibanez guitars instead of Strats and Les Pauls

That time I called Vernon Reid up in Germany and told him that I liked Living Colour’s new album Vivid

By Steve Newton Way the funk back in November of 1988 I interviewed Living Colour guitarist and main songwriter Vernon Reid, who was quite the shredder back then. At the time his band was touring behind its hit debut album, Vivid, which went double platinum and featured the Grammy-winning single “Cult of Personality”. I liked … Continue reading That time I called Vernon Reid up in Germany and told him that I liked Living Colour’s new album Vivid

That time I asked Mike Campbell if he thought “Refugee” was a hit as soon as he wrote the music for it

By Steve Newton Tom Petty was one helluva songwriter, as we all know, but every once in a while he’d get help composing a tune from his guitarist and mainman Mike Campbell. Like on “Refugee”, the second single from 1980’s Damn the Torpedoes. I love that tune, so when I interviewed Campbell in the summer … Continue reading That time I asked Mike Campbell if he thought “Refugee” was a hit as soon as he wrote the music for it

That time I asked Brad Delp what his fave Boston tune was and he didn’t say “More Than a Feeling”

By Steve Newton I was still a guitar-rock-crazed teenager when the debut Boston album came out in 1976, so it’s not surprising that the first single “More Than a Feeling” blew me right the funk away. Even today the killer guitar sound of Tom Scholz and the incredible vocals of Brad Delp still make me … Continue reading That time I asked Brad Delp what his fave Boston tune was and he didn’t say “More Than a Feeling”

That time Lars Ulrich told me how Cliff Burton came up with the title for Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All

By Steve Newton Way the funk back in March of 1985 I did my first interview with Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich. At the time Ulrich was only 21, and his band was touring behind its second album, Ride the Lightning. At one point in the conversation I asked him why the group went with such … Continue reading That time Lars Ulrich told me how Cliff Burton came up with the title for Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All

That time I called up the Guess Who’s Randy Bachman and he raved about touring with Joe Cocker

lauren marshall photo By Steve Newton I’ve interviewed at least two guitar legends who liked touring with Joe Cocker. Back in 1990 I talked to Stevie Ray Vaughan about his coheadlining tour with Cocker, and he was right into it. Then in 2001 the Guess Who was sharing a bill with the gravelly voiced Brit, … Continue reading That time I called up the Guess Who’s Randy Bachman and he raved about touring with Joe Cocker

That time Zakk Wylde told me about jamming with Skynyrd and covering for Dickey Betts in the Allmans

By Steve Newton Zakk Wylde may be best known as the guitarist and songwriter who took over from Jake E. Lee to help Ozzy Osbourne stay on the charts with tunes like “No More Tears” and “Perry Mason”, but southern-rock fans also know him as the frontman in the power trio Pride & Glory, which was … Continue reading That time Zakk Wylde told me about jamming with Skynyrd and covering for Dickey Betts in the Allmans

That time I asked Alex Van Halen when he first figured out that Eddie had the makings of a guitar legend

By Steve Newton Everybody remembers the first time they heard Eddie Van Halen. Or they should, anyway. For me it was sometime in early ’78 when the band’s first single, “You Really Got Me”, scorched the airwaves. It was clear right away that the guy creating the six-string racket had the makings of a guitar … Continue reading That time I asked Alex Van Halen when he first figured out that Eddie had the makings of a guitar legend

That time Doyle Bramhall II told me what it was like touring with the “brilliant” Eric Clapton

By Steve Newton Over the years I’ve asked various famous guitarists who they’d most like to play with, if they could choose anyone in the world, and more often than not the answer is Eric Clapton. Doyle Bramhall II is one of the lucky ones who’ve swapped solos with Slowhand. When I interviewed him back … Continue reading That time Doyle Bramhall II told me what it was like touring with the “brilliant” Eric Clapton

That time John Sykes told me how he got Tony Franklin and Carmine Appice to commit to Blue Murder

By Steve Newton If you’ve been reading my blogs for any length of time you must know that Thin Lizzy is one of my all-time favourite bands. I just love anything to do with them. John Sykes had something to do with Thin Lizzy–like playing on their final studio album, and their last live one … Continue reading That time John Sykes told me how he got Tony Franklin and Carmine Appice to commit to Blue Murder

That time Rickey Medlocke told me that he was hired to play Allen Collins’ guitar parts in Skynyrd

By Steve Newton Back in 1997 Lynyrd Skynyrd was headed to Vancouver for a show with Paul Rodgers and Kenny Wayne Shepherd, so you bet your ass I was gonna go. I was also gonna interview Rickey Medlocke, who had rejoined the band to play guitar alongside founding member Gary Rossington and former Outlaws picker … Continue reading That time Rickey Medlocke told me that he was hired to play Allen Collins’ guitar parts in Skynyrd

That time David Lee Roth blasted the media, ten days after O.J. Simpson’s dirty deed in Brentwood

By Steve Newton Ten days before David Lee Roth called me up from L.A. on June 22, 1994–to promote his latest album Your Dirty Little Mouth–football legend and sometime actor O.J. Simpson had taken a knife and carved himself up a big chunk of infamy. The media circus was in full P.T. Barnum-style swing by … Continue reading That time David Lee Roth blasted the media, ten days after O.J. Simpson’s dirty deed in Brentwood

That time I asked J.J. Cale which covers of his songs he liked best and Clapton’s didn’t even come up

By Steve Newton When you think about the J.J. Cale songs that other artists have covered and made famous, Eric Clapton’s versions of “After Midnight” and “Cocaine” usually make the cut. (Lynyrd Skynyrd’s take on “Call Me the Breeze” and Santana’s rendition of “The Sensitive Kind” also come to mind.) But when I did my … Continue reading That time I asked J.J. Cale which covers of his songs he liked best and Clapton’s didn’t even come up

That time Dave Mustaine called out trendy jackasses while Megadeth toured behind Cyptic Writings

By Steve Newton When it comes to the so-called “Big Four” of American heavy-metal acts–Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax–I tend to pick Metallica as my fave. But I do like a few Megadeth tunes as well, “Symphony of Destruction” being particularly hard to beat. I’ve interviewed band leader Dave Mustaine three times, the first being … Continue reading That time Dave Mustaine called out trendy jackasses while Megadeth toured behind Cyptic Writings

That time Alice Cooper told me that he would blow “clone bands” like Ratt and Mötley Crüe off the stage

me ‘n the coop. @shotbykevin By Steve Newton When I was a teenager in the early ’70s, Alice Cooper was god. I couldn’t get enough of his nasty image and the killer guitar-rock on albums Love It to Death, Killer, School’s Out, Billion Dollar Babies, and Muscle of Love. I lost interest somewhat after he … Continue reading That time Alice Cooper told me that he would blow “clone bands” like Ratt and Mötley Crüe off the stage

That time 21-year-old Lars Ulrich woke up early to call and tell me how Metallica’s new Ride the Lightning album was doin’

By Steve Newton I’ve interviewed Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich four times because, hey, I like Metallica. This is the first time, way the funk back in March of 1985, when the band was still touring behind its second album, Ride the Lightning. Lars called me up from L.A. and filled me in on how the … Continue reading That time 21-year-old Lars Ulrich woke up early to call and tell me how Metallica’s new Ride the Lightning album was doin’

That time Tom Petty guitarist Mike Campbell told me that Lynyrd Skynyrd’s success gave him hope

  mudcrutch photo by red slater By Steve Newton When I interviewed Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell back in the summer of 1999 we got to talking about his early days playing with Petty in the Gainesville, Florida band Mudcrutch. At one point Campbell told me about how that band would sometimes … Continue reading That time Tom Petty guitarist Mike Campbell told me that Lynyrd Skynyrd’s success gave him hope

That time John Doe from X couldn’t believe that I’d seen the Viggo Mortensen horror flick Prison

  By Steve Newton Just heard recently that L.A. punk-rockers X were back together, so to celebrate I figured I’d digitize my old interview with X vocalist-bassist John Doe from 1990. At the time Doe had just released his debut solo album, the alt-country/roots offering Meet John Doe. At one point in the conversation, for … Continue reading That time John Doe from X couldn’t believe that I’d seen the Viggo Mortensen horror flick Prison

Vancouver guitar ace Scott Smith sends out a Lifeboat for pedal-steel fans in these trying times

By Steve Newton I first became aware of the six-string talents of Vancouver’s Scott Smith when he sent me a copy of his blues-rock trio Terminal Station’s Rolling All Night album back in 2009. I also knew of his fine work with Bottleneck, the country-roots quartet he fronted with Robyn Carrigan, and his guest appearances … Continue reading Vancouver guitar ace Scott Smith sends out a Lifeboat for pedal-steel fans in these trying times

That time Myles Goodwyn told me how April Wine’s “Roller” got on the Joe Dirt soundtrack

By Steve Newton The 2001 David Spade white-trash comedy Joe Dirt isn’t the best movie ever made, but it sure featured a rockin’ soundtrack. Some of my all-time fave bands are on there, including Thin Lizzy, Blue Oyster Cult, Van Halen, Foghat, BTO, the James Gang, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Canada’s own April Wine also shows … Continue reading That time Myles Goodwyn told me how April Wine’s “Roller” got on the Joe Dirt soundtrack

John Mellencamp and Kenny Aronoff on the amicable demise of their singer-drummer dream team

Mellencamp middle, Aronoff far right By Steve Newton For many years the resounding thwump of Kenny Aronoff’s drumwork could be heard worldwide on the heartland-rock hits of John Mellencamp. People first came to notice Aronoff’s skin-bashing abilities big time on the massive 1982 blockbuster “Hurts So Good”, but his percussive powers would continue to meld perfectly … Continue reading John Mellencamp and Kenny Aronoff on the amicable demise of their singer-drummer dream team

That time I asked John Mellencamp what a heart attack feels like and he said “they don’t feel good!”

By Steve Newton The first time I interviewed John Mellencamp was way the funk back in the spring of 1983, after he’d released his multiplatinum breakthrough album American Fool (the one with “Hurts So Good” and “Jack and Diane” on it) and before he’d released his multiplatinum followup Uh-Huh (the one with “Pink Houses” and “Authority … Continue reading That time I asked John Mellencamp what a heart attack feels like and he said “they don’t feel good!”

That time Carlos Santana told me that he was open to anything and everything

By Steve Newton Carlos Santana has been known as a brilliant guitarist since the 1960s, but he didn’t hit his commercial peak until the release of the Supernatural album in 1999. That disc featured collaborations with artists such as Eric Clapton, Rob Thomas, Eagle-Eye Cherry, Lauryn Hill, and Dave Matthews, and sold a staggering 30-million copies worldwide. … Continue reading That time Carlos Santana told me that he was open to anything and everything