Straight Outta Concord (angus) Mon 19 Sep 05 23:01
Early seventies, I saw on KQED-TV [local PBS] a band called Steamin' Freeman, with a female keyboardist and female drummer; cursory research indicates that they were Dorothy Moskowitz and Ginny Whitaker. What stands out in my memory is that they were players who were backing a male frontman/singer.
Berliner (captward) Tue 20 Sep 05 05:19
Sounds like a bunch of great leads to follow up there. I'd like to turn the conversation to another subject brought up in the book, the rock press. And I'm afraid I'm going to have to be severely critical here. The reason is simple: Lisa has ignored a huge part of it, and, thus, really hobbled her survey. What I'm referring to is the women journalists she doesn't mention. There was Sue Graham, who edited Jazz & Pop, itself not a real groundbreaker -- although it did try to bring those two worlds together to greater or lesser effect -- and who later married Charles Mingus and became one of the most feared women in the music biz after his death because of her fierce protection of his legacy. There was Raeanne Rubenstein, who was best-known as a photographer, but who edited Crawdaddy for a number of years. There was Gloria Stavers, who edited Hit Parade subversively, turning a teeny mag into an early cheerleader for any number of underground bands, in part because she hired Danny Fields, who later signed the Stooges to Elektra and managed the Ramones. She died tragically early, before she could really make the impact I know she would have made. But mostly, what's missing is the real feminist triumph of the era, the magazine which made a huge difference in hundreds of thousands of teenage lives. I'm speaking about Creem. Creem was an amazing magazine, the one rockers turned to after giving up on Rolling Stone's wimpiness, and it came not from any of the media centers of the day, but from godforsaken Detroit. I was involved with it from 1971-1976, and although I was listed as West Coast Editor, I never had much day-to-day contact with it, my frequent visits notwithstanding. However, I did spend enough time there to realize that it wasn't just the Dynamic Duo of Dave Marsh and Lester Bangs who were steering the ship, but also a crew of amazing women: Roberta "Robbie" Cruger, Jaan Uhelski, Connie Kramer (the publisher's wife), and, later, Georgia Christgau and Sue Whitall, among others. These women weren't there because they were someone's girlfriend (although some of them were from time to time), nor because they were groupies, but because they were, like the rest of us, rock fans. They were absolutely equal partners in its production and its direction. They wrote stories, worked with production, and, most importantly, imparted a sensibility that made the magazine essential to the culture of the times. When I tell people I worked for Rolling Stone, they say "Wow, cool." When I tell them I worked for Creem, they start freaking out: "Man, I devoured every copy of that as soon as it came in the mail! That magazine really told me what was going on, and it made me feel like I wasn't weird because I hated James Taylor. It didn't suck up to the rock stars, and it made fun of everything. It was just as much rock and roll as the music it wrote about." Apparently, Lisa, you did speak to Roberta Cruger, but there isn't a word about the magazine in the book. Why not? To redress this imbalance, I've arranged for Jaan Uhelski, who's still working in rock journalism, to join us here, and I believe she'll be along a little later today. She's read the book, and her knowledge of this is far more detailed and specific than mine, because she was there from the very beginning, as a native Detroiter who started out as the "Coke girl" selling soft-drinks at the Grande Ballroom. Jaan, are you out there? Talk to us.
Low and popular (rik) Tue 20 Sep 05 07:36
"Ginny Whitaker"!!! Short, sweet, and kicked major butt. If she could have been in King Crimson, she'd have been in heaven. Oh, sorry. I'll be quiet now.
Lisa Rhodes (lisarhodes) Tue 20 Sep 05 08:35
Ed, you are completely right. I should have included Robert Cruger, and Jane Scott, and Lisa Robinson, and Gloria Stavers, and Patricia Kennealy-Morrison, etc. That said, I do want to say in my defense that my reasons for not including Roberta were logistical and had to do with the difficulty of finding complete runs of Creem (I believe that Bowling Green State has one, but I couldn't find one in San Diego where I did the research). Roberta was able to get me some of her writings from the period but it took her brother a while to find them in a garage in Detroit and they weren't in time for inclusion in this book (I had a publication schedule to meet). A scholar has to work with the material that is available. All the research for this book was funded by the bank of Lisa and it didn't leave a lot of money for travel. I would also like to point out that the New Yorker's circulation numbers (as well as those of the Sunday Daily News, were very high (the latter claimed 4 million readers on Sunday) and I was trying to address the most ubiquitous writings of women critics. I also believe that Willis's writing is a benchmark for the field of rock journalism, especially in that formative period. That is not to take away from the other women's writings, but hers, as I say in the book, is something special. Roxon's work as a gossip columnist was very important as gendered language, i.e. associated most closely with women, and is often devalued for this reason. I believe that this aspect of Roxon's work, as well as her place in the history of the Murdoch media empire, make her career of interest to gender and media scholars. Robinson certainly had the former characteristic but not Roxon's visibility (or the encyclopedia) or her Murdoch connections. I am also curious why more is not said about these women in other, better funded books on the subject? Powers and McDonnell did a great job in "Rock She Wrote" and the British book on rock journalists (I think it was " In their own Write"?) included many women writer's stories.
Lolly Lewis (lolly) Tue 20 Sep 05 14:27
I love reading this! Diane (Gravenites) Tribuno was one of the singers when I was doing backup with Nicholas and Mike (Bloomfield) et al. Could not remember her name! And Steamin' Freeman! Golly! Haven't thought of him in a while, is he around somewhere? Greg Errico is definitely around, I see him from time to time. I can get ahold of him, David, if you don't see him at the studio.
Dennis Wilen (the-voidmstr) Tue 20 Sep 05 15:01
Say hello to Greg for me <lolly> We worked together on Lee Oskar stuff back when I was at Far Out Productions/LAX Records.
Margaret Moser (fairblonde) Tue 20 Sep 05 15:03
Ed, a strictly personal observation here but I think the behind-the-scenes story of Creem is a book - has anyone done one? The SXSW panel a couple years back really whetted my appetite for it. (Somewhere, I still have one of your Creem business cards.) Jan and Robbie were especially interesting in what they did and still do. Robbie was at the EMP conference in 2003 and introduced herself to me but I lost her card.
David Gans (tnf) Tue 20 Sep 05 17:59
I won't be back at Fantasy any time soon; I just happened to notice Errico's name on a sesion log at thee front desk. Go for it, Lolly!
from JAAN UHELSZKI (tnf) Tue 20 Sep 05 22:52
We're still trying to get Jaan Uhelszki's account opened and all that, but in the meantime, she sent this for me to post: I did see the glaring absence of any female Creem writers in the book, and I always thought that we were one of the more enlightened publications. Maybe it was just the fact that Creem paid so little, ($22.75 a week) but there was something that was posted in the front of the magazine that encouraged solicitations from writers that went something along the lines of: WE AIN'T GOT NOTHING THAT YOU DON'T HAVE. And ignoring the obvious, I believed the editors, so I started sending submissions to the mag when I was still in high school. It took me a while, but by 1971 I was a full-fledged member of the staff, working in the trenches. Selling t-shirts, fullfilling subscrip- tions, writing record reviews and being part of what became a full-on dream team. Any good, irreverent, left-of-center idea was entertained--and if it hadn't been for Dave Marsh and Lester Bangs, and Connie Kramer I would never had the encouragement to think I could do pull this off. I read Nik Cohn and Janet Maslin in Eye Magazine, and I knew that that was the job for me, but I lived in the suburban hinterlands of Michigan and who else was going to go for a story where I proposed to do a story not on Kiss, but as a member of the band which I turned into "I Dreamt I Was Onstage With Kiss in My Maidenform Bra." A man couldn't have done that story. He wouldn't have got the access. Being an underestimated under-gender I got away with things my male counter- parts couldn't. A Bachman Turner Overdrive Diet Guide, going chocolate tast- ing with Grand Funk Railroad, or treated like the maid by Jimmy Page on their 1977 tour -- made for rare fodder on an expose about the band. Attitude and imagination counted for everything at Creem, plus I think people succeed from their limitations not their strengths--and if gender was or is a limitation, the women at Creem were a formidable force--Lisa Robinson, Robbie Cruger, Georgia Christgau, et. al. Sadly, I think that female rock journalists are still seen as a novelty--and as a result we have to be more professional, go that extra mile in research and preparation, and still think about our "reputation," but on the whole women like Sia Michel at Spin, Melissa Maerz from Spin, her sister Jeniffer Maerz at the Stranger have that same fearless spirit that we did at Creem and are on the whole much more skilled listeners and astute writers than many of our male counterparts.
Berliner (captward) Wed 21 Sep 05 10:33
I have to back up here and ask Lisa some questions, though. I'm not sure that your definition of "ubiquity" is solid. Yeah, the New Yorker and the NY Daily News had larger ciruclations than Creem, but how many people paid attention to the rock critics there? In a newspaper, that part of the paper is just part of the fish-wrap, and sure, the New Yorker may have had a rock critic, and she may have been superb (and she was), but I wonder how many of their readers were readindg *her*? On the other hand, in terms of impact on the fans, the musicians, and the industry, magazines like Creem and Rolling Stone and even Crawdaddy had a lot more power than either the Daily News or the New Yorker. You can't just be that selective with your data, in my opinion, and -- although I know nothing of academia -- just going ahead to publish with whatever scattershot stuff you have to hand would, I think, open you up to some fairly withering criticism. Moreover, I can't buy the argument that you couldn't find at least big runs of Creem. You might not find them in the library -- hardly surprising, given the nature of the magazine and its reception by the dominant high culture of the time -- but I bet there were nerds in San Diego who had them, record collectors, comic book stores, and the like. The material was available, is what I'm saying. Probably easily available. (And yes, Margaret, I think Jaan's working on a book about Creem, but I should let her talk about that).
Lisa Rhodes (lisarhodes) Wed 21 Sep 05 12:09
As someone who has read all of Lillian Roxon's columns, I would hardly categorize her work as "fish wrap." She was inordinately influential with a segment of rock fandom that most rock journalists ignored. She aimed her work a lot at young kids and women. She was a gossip columnist and I believe that is a very important role in any community. I discuss why in the book in Chapter 3. As far as whether the New Yorker's audience not really reading Willis's reportage, I just don't buy it. True, most of them were not among rock's cognoscenti (or that of rock journalism) but many were serious fans, which I think is clear from the fact that the column ran for 7 years and would have continued has Willis not tired of its direction. She, like Roxon, was writing for a group of fans that were not included by most of the magazines in the rock press: public intellectuals, literati (especially of the East Coast variety), older fans, and women or those interested in gender (especially feminists). I also included Willis in my book because she was the only rock critic who was also simultaneously a founding member of Redstockings (an early radical feminist group in the NYC area). He authorial stance was unique. I never said that the New Yorker of the Daily News had more influence than those other magazines. I merely said that the former were a big part of the history of rock journalism because a lot of people saw them, the work done in them was very good, and that their stories deserved to be told. As far as "being that selective with my data," Ed the short answer is, "yes I can." I never said that the book was an exhaustive history of women in rock journalism, nor did I say that I would only deal with the most influential (according to rock journalists who worked during the era) publications. I said that I was going to tell a certain part of the story that hadn't been told, not all of it. I didn't choose Willis's work because I "had it to hand." Hers was some the most cogent and tightly written prose in the field. She was one of the best and I have never heard anyone say otherwise. That her material was readily available was a lagniappe, not a deciding factor. The fact is, influential as it may have been, Creem is NOT readily available to scholars and researchers. I have to have a full run to make literate comparisons. To write about a few issues of a magazine as if that gave me an understanding of it in its totality, now that would be scattershot. I decided to write about those two journalists because I believed that their stories illustrated something about the era that hadn't been discussed before and was important. That's called authorial privilege and all of us get it. The following is basically the intro and thesis of the chapter on Willis and Roxon: "The 1960s and 1970s were some of the most contentious years in American social and political history. The struggle waged over the representation of women musicians in the American periodical press is but one example of this fractiousness. As discussed in Chapter 1, gender and sex roles were undergoing tremendous change, as was the nature of rock music. Music journalists were at the vanguard of this bargaining. Pop music stars like Bob Dylan and the Beatles were the heroes and the role models not only for many average people but also for the leaders of the various movements in the counterculture. Rock writers often acted as interpreters or analysts of these artists work for everybody else. The fact that most of these journalists were men also influenced both the contents and the approach of those in the profession. However, there were also some women writers in rock journalism who performed these roles. Their work, directly and indirectly, not only expressed their views, but also served as an alternative to the professional endeavors of the members of the overwhelmingly male Fourth Estate. "This chapter examines the work of two writers in the mainstream periodical press who were among the most influential rock critics of their day: Ellen Willis and Lillian Roxon. These writers, along with a few other female and anomalous male writers, explored the complexities of rock music, especially its effects on gender and sexuality. This was especially true in their work on women musicians. Rather than trying to fit these anomalous women into existing stereotypes or diminish their impact by drawing attention to their physicality, these writers attempted to create a type of music journalism more befitting these women and their work. "Because their work has been so long overlooked, one of my main purposes in examining Willis and Roxon and their work is to offer the first detailed biographical essays of them. In each case, discussion and analyses of the bodies of their work could easily fill a book. However, I wanted to provide an introduction to their work for those who were not around when it was first published and a solid basis for further research by scholars who want to delve into their considerable contributions to journalism and womens history." I would suggest that you write a book on Creem. It sounds like you have strong feelings about it and it is clear you were closely connected. If you do, I know you will do a great job including all the fabulous women who published there. I decided to tell a different story.
Straight Outta Concord (angus) Wed 21 Sep 05 15:32
[I always wondered how it was that Hit Parader had, by the time I read it for a few months in 1976 and '77, got to be so strange; post <177> seems to solve that mystery.] Now I'm inspired to start getting back issues of Creem on eBay, just to get that dirt on Jimmy Page.
Life Is Easy When Considered From Another Point Of View (dam) Thu 22 Sep 05 05:59
Creem was a great and wacky magazine.
Steve Bjerklie (stevebj) Thu 22 Sep 05 09:24
Janet Maslin wrote for Eye? I did not know that. Interesting. Female rock journalists, at least those who wrote for Stone, also took a hit, as it were, from the portrayal in "Annie Hall," I think.
Berliner (captward) Thu 22 Sep 05 09:47
Very few women wrote for Rolling Stone, at least in the days I was there. Susan Lydon, probably, early on, but I can't think of any others.
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Thu 22 Sep 05 10:37
I wrote for Rolling Stone back in the very early '70s, but my writing wasn't published in the edition that came out in the States, it was only printed in Australia. Aussie Phillip Frazer had acquired the Australian publishing rights to RS from Jann Wenner. The rendition of RS that was printed in Australia had an Australian insert in each edition. I wrote for the Aussie-insert Rolling Stone. Wish I'd saved copies, but it never occured to me at the time that I'd want to look back at my work from that era. oh well...
Lisa Rhodes (lisarhodes) Thu 22 Sep 05 11:43
Ellen Sander published one article in RS. There were are few, but very few and they mostly started appearing post-1972.
Margaret Moser (fairblonde) Thu 22 Sep 05 21:04
Re #184 from Jaan >I knew that that was the job for me, but I lived in the suburban >hinterlands of Michigan and who else was going to go for a story >where I proposed to do a story not on Kiss, but as a member of the >band which I turned into "I Dreamt I Was Onstage With Kiss in My >Maidenform Bra." A man couldn't have done that story. He wouldn't >have got the access. "A man couldn't have done that story. He wouldn't have got the access." Bingo, Jaan! And, with no hint of irony, I'd love to know how many stories and how much access you believe you got for being an attractive female journalist. I can swear to up to half in the first part of my career at the Austin Sun. That was partly because I often didn't know who I was going to be writing about from week to week so I made decisions on the spot about who to write about. I'd just walk up to Ry Cooder and Flaco Jimenez (Graham Parker, Steve Miller, Roger McGuinn, B.B. King, Randy California, Van Halen, John Cale, Ramones ... whomever) and hold out my tape recorder. I knew by the offers of hotel room sin, good drugs, and getting rocked all night long that being a blonde with big tits didn't hurt. Nowadays, I feel so motherly toward these really young bands I interview occasionally, like the Redwalls. Here I am talking garage rock with a darling 22-year-old but it's all in the job. Still, when a band like the Redwalls turn in such a fabulous, freshly retro in all the right ways album as De Nova, it's pure pleasure and I am 21 again.
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Fri 23 Sep 05 11:57
It's funny how those 22-year-olds look so ... so ... well, so damn young these days, ain't it? I like your observation about feeling "motherly," Margaret. At this point I think I'd feel grandmotherly toward them if I was still involved in that world. heh heh This has been a fascinating discussion, and the past two weeks have gone by amazingly fast. Though our virtual spotlight has turned to a new discussion, there's no reason this one has to stop. This topic will remain open indefinitely and you're welcome to continue as long as you're able, Lisa and Margaret. Thank you so much for joining us and I hope you stick around!
Lisa Rhodes (lisarhodes) Fri 23 Sep 05 13:23
I, too, would like to thank everyone who wrote in or who read the posts. Your insights and contributions have been a real treat and great help on the research for my new book. If you haven't read "Electric Ladyland," I would like to take this opportunity to urge you to pick it up and let me know what you think (or Hanukkah or Xmas gifts, whatever;). I will be lurking around the Well and will answer any questions any time. M, Ed, Cynthia, David and all the Well folks, thank you all so much for your help and for giving me this opportunity.
Berliner (captward) Sat 24 Sep 05 05:35
We don't have to stop here, like Cynthia said, and if there are questions for Lisa this is an appropriate place to post them; these topics don't just vanish, after all, and some of them live on for months and months. Meanwhile, I believe Lisa will be around to interview Kevin Phinney in a few weeks. Stay tuned for that!
Margaret Moser (fairblonde) Sat 24 Sep 05 10:22
Good because we never even broached the subject of rock wives! Cynthia, if I thought it was different to feel motherly toward musicians I might have slept with two decades before, being the giflfriend/near wife of a musician is LIGHT YEARS different from being a groupie! It's way more complex than being a rock critic with a musician boyfriend. Thank you and David for all your help and guidance! Ed and Lisa, I look forward to more discussion :)
Berliner (captward) Sun 25 Sep 05 05:39
And besides rock wives, "women in rock culture" could also be expanded to include club employees, managers, booking agents, and record company employees -- particularly publicists, a traditional niche for women in the record industry.
Low and popular (rik) Sun 25 Sep 05 08:31
There's a lot of overlap in the groupie-wife-girlfriend-publicist groups, with women moving from one group to another.
Lisa Rhodes (lisarhodes) Sun 25 Sep 05 17:29
Rik, agreed. I would love to hear the perspectives of some of you journalists and male musicians on this, as I have only one perspective. Ed, just received the Phinney book. It looks intriguing.
Members: Enter the conference to participate