On June 23rd 2005, Sandy Pearlman was booked for a lecture entitled "Fast, Cheap and Out of Control" at the Purcell Rooms in London's South Bank Centre (Royal Festival Hall).
The talk was part of Patti Smith's Meltdown festival and represented a major bummer for me personally in the fact that I couldn't go.
Luckily, Dan Tancer and Capitaine Cousteau were on hand to attend the event and here's what they thought...
Last night was interesting. It's not every day that you get to meet the producer, co-songwriter and, let's face it, visionary of Blue Oyster Cult!
Capitaine Cousteau and I met up in central London and made our way to the riverside Royal Festival Hall. It was a warm, sultry night. Perfect for a pre-show beer by the Thames.
When we got into the Purcell Hall, the smallest of the RFH's theatres, there were about 40 or 50 people and only 1 BOC t-shirt in evidence. Looked like quite a few music industry people there. The only way to describe the venue and the audience was intimate. So when Patti Smith walked on stage, standing just 10 feet away from me, I did a double take. Even though she's the organiser I didn't expect her to actually introduce the talk. She's a very striking woman close up. Not classically beautiful but attractive nonetheless and with a real presence about her.
She spoke for about 5 minutes on her friendship with Sandy Pearlman and his work with BOC, the Clash, etc. Patti described him as a 'great thinker' who impresses people with his wide knowledge of both popular and 'high' culture.
She said she had a friend in the early 70's who loved hearing him speak even though she didn't always understand what he was talking about!
Then Sandy Pearlman strolled on stage. The Capitaine and I had no idea what he'd look like. The Capitaine suggested that he might resemble the Russian chess player Gary Kasparov (!) and I thought he might look like an ex-member of a 70's new wave band.
He looked like neither - just a regular, quite tall middle aged guy, face partly shadowed by a baseball cap. You wouldn't look twice at him in the street. He came across as quite nervous, as though public speaking isn't easy for him but when he got going he was very fluent and threw out some amazing ideas.
The title of the talk was "Fast, Cheap and Out of Control" and covered his thoughts about the future of music consumption and the music industry in general. It would take way too much space to go into the details but in summary Pearlman suggested that record companies are out of touch with the listening public.
He thinks that pretty much everything you could want to listen to is available on the net and there's no way record companies, using the present systems, can stop people downloading music for free.
His idea is to set up a site that offers high quality downloads and a comprehensive search system (based on DNA - don't ask!) for 5 US cents a pop. That way musicians get paid but the people still get music for next to nothing.
There's more to it than that but that's the gist. He also spoke about the gross commercialisation of music - 'MTV garbage' - as he called it and the potential of the internet to introduce people to great music they might never have considered listening to. Can't disagree with him there!
After the talk he opened the floor to questions. I was trying to work out how to throw in a BOC related question but as the talk was nothing to do with his career or BOC I couldn't figure out a way to get a question in. He mentioned BOC a couple of times when he got a question about copyright. About how Sony owns the rights to songs he's co-written and only now are some of those rights reverting back to the songwriter.
Fortunately the Capitaine and I cornered him after it was over and got down to asking him a few more pertinent questions! Here's some of them ...
Q. Will you ever produce or write again with BOC?
A. Probably not. BOC contacted Pearlman last Christmas to consider doing that but he refused. He would like to work with Albert Bouchard though and possibly with Buck.
Q. What is Murray Krugman up to these days?
A. A lawyer somewhere in the States (I forget where).
Q. Is Bill Gawlik still alive?
A. Yes. Blame the Capitaine for that one!
Q. Are you still producing bands?
A. Yes, occasionally if he meets a band that really excites him. There was a band he met recently in the States that he liked (I forget the name - sorry!), thought the singer looked amazing, liked the sound and took them into a studio.
Q. (from the Capitaine) Can I send you my version of "She's As Beautiful As a Foot".
A. That's a good song! Yes, if you e-mail me we can sort that out.
And that was it. Sandy left to meet up with Patti Smith and the Capitaine and I headed to the nearest pub for a post Pearlman beer.
PS. I hope the Capitaine posts as he's got a better memory than me for the detail!
And here is the Capitaine's recollection of the evening:
Ladies, Fish and Gentlemen's toilets, thus speaketh the Capitaine:
Agent Tancer has given you the intellectual details of the Pearlman soiree, here's my take...
He rambled on alot about music, genetic evolutionary models of the internet, the dire state of the recording industry, economics, theft, copyright and stuff and inernet connections in LOndon and the BBC interview lasting 2 minutes and yet more stuff.
Along the way he mentioned his favourite Finno-Icelandic death metal band 'Asgaard's Hammer' but added that this was a band from his imagination that was an example of the great music we could be missing. This was the point of change, at last a bit of the Pealman wit and imagination was breaking through, and I became the rock god spearheading the destiny of the mighty Asgaard's Hammer....
So after the lecture I ask him if he wants to hear 'She's as Beautiful as a Foot' by Asgaard's Hammer. He says "they don't exist"..... I engage him telepathically "Welcome to the Workshop Mr. Pealman, what's your email address?"...."Sandy Pearlman.com" said he "I'd love to hear it". "I bet you would" thoughteth the Capitaine.
So cutting it short, I'll be engaging with the Pearlman shortly and will update y'all on wtf he thinks. Interestingly I got a reply from Al B who said to let him know when I wanted some input on the Obscurae's forthcoming 'Protocols of...'. Now I have Sandy Pearlman's ear.... Just Bill Gawlik and then it will be time!
Patti Smith was kinda like Vera Gemini.