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Enjoy Every Sandwich

Ben Fong-Torres

Ben Fong-Torres

Posted to Center Stage on April 29, 2016

 “Enjoy every sandwich.” That’s what Warren Zevon said, not long before his death in 2003, as a way to say: Savor life while you’ve got it.

This has been a tough year. One loss after another in the world of music, the latest—and one of the greatest—being Prince. I saw him very early on, in 1981 at a nondescript club on Broadway, in North Beach, in San Francisco. He’d only had one hit – I Wanna Be Your Lover” – but he was a star, through and through. There was no question.

It was the same with David Bowie. And Linda Ronstadt told me she saw the flash in Glenn Frey, soon after hiring him and Don Henley to back her up on tour. They were destined to form their own band. Paul Kantner and Signe Toly Anderson of Jefferson Airplane. Dan Hicks, leader of the Hot Licks and writer of “How Can I Miss You When You Won’t Go Away.” Natalie Cole, who couldn’t follow in her father’s footsteps and ultimately found a path of her own. Maurice White, the creative force behind Earth Wind and Fire.

As each one passed, I thought of my great fortune. Not only had I been a fan, but I’d had the fortune to interview, and to get to know most of them. They are among several hundreds of terrific musicians I’ve worked with, and many are represented here at Qello Concerts.

So, as “1999” continues to dominate my head, I’d like to present a list of favorite concerts and documentaries on Qello that feature artists I’ve interviewed.

The Willie Nelson Show with Ray Charles

Two of my favorite legends. My Rolling Stone interview with Brother Ray won a national magazine award (and really belonged to him). My visit with Willie included a smokey game of dominoes. Here they celebrate their common love of country music.

Troubadours: Rise of the Singer-Songwriter 

I must have a thing for singer-songwriters. The Troubadours, a fine documentary about the club that Linda Ronstadt called “Laurel Canyon’s living room,” includes numerous performers I’ve profiled, including James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Elton John, Bonnie Raitt, and Kris Kristofferson. That’s a lot of living room harmonies.

Eagles – History of the Eagles 

I first met the guys at a grudge match softball game, them against Rolling Stone. “Them” won. They hated us and said so. That’s how they are, then and here, in this excellent documentary. Glenn and Don hold nothing back. Brutally honest. Not Steve Miller brutal (I also interviewed him, back in the day), but tough.

Tom Petty – Runnin’ Down a Dream

Yeah, it’s four hours, but think of it as a binging session. Love the home movies of the band when they were kids in a group called Mudcrutch. At our interview in 2010 at his place in Malibu, Petty smoked some new-fangled thing he referred to as an e-cigarette. He said it was safer than the real thing.

George Harrison – Living in the Material World 

A beautifully made film of the so-called “quiet Beatle.” He wasn’t that when we met in 1974, with him on the defensive about a tour going wrong. He was defiant—and funny, serenading me with Monty Python’s “The Lumberjack Song.”

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: 25th Anniversary Concerts 

Among the participants, I’ve interviewed Mick Jagger, Stevie Wonder, B.B. King, Crosby Stills & Nash, Simon & Garfunkel (separately), and, in Dubai in 2013, will.i.am. But my fave may be the performer who waited the longest for her Hall of Fame induction: Darlene Love.

Muddy Waters & the Rolling Stones Live at the Checkerboard Lounge

This one’s for Mr. Waters, born McKinley Morganfield, who died April 30, 1983 at age 70. It’s 1981, and Muddy Waters is playing Buddy Guy’s club in Chicago. The Stones, on tour, were in town, so they popped in. Their table was right up against the stage, so when their mentor began calling Jagger, then Richard onto the stage, it was an easy hop. Before long, Ronnie Wood and Ian Stewart joined in, and the jam included Guy and Junior Wells as well. Jagger, in a red track suit, is a revelation, reveling in the blues and in trading verses with Muddy, while unable to restrain his rock star moves. And why should he? He’s Mick Jagger.

Even if you weren’t reading Rolling Stone magazine in the late '60s /early '70s, you might still know who Ben Fong-Torres is from the movie “Almost Famous.” Ben Fong-Torres is the legendary Rolling Stone Senior Editor who was characterized in the Cameron Crowe movie and now,… More