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Topic: Second part of the on-line Andrew Loog Oldham interview by readers Return to archive
07-21-01 12:41 PM
VoodooChileInWOnderl I want to thank publicly to Andrew Loog Oldham for selecting my question, give it first place in the article, he considered it very important, more than interesting and specially for his very cool words and contribution to the Ian Stewart site here at Rocks Off (to be updated soon with real cool features)

Part 1
Part 2

[Edited by VoodooChileInWOnderl]
07-21-01 03:43 PM
Here is the whole text; however I do recommend you te read it from the source as the format is easier to read, I posting this here becuse sooner or later the interview will be removed from Dot Music:

Tue 19 Jun 2001 14:40

Andrew Oldham in the 60s
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Legendary producer and showbiz svengali Andrew Loog Oldham has been answering dotmusic users' questions and has come up with some very interesting answers.

The iconic Oldham, now living in Colombia and working on the second volume of his life story, entitled 2Stoned, fielded questions on a variety of topics ranging from the Stones to another 60s icon, Nico, and the demise of his Immediate Records label, which was home to the likes of The Small Faces and The Amen Corner.

Asked by user Gerardo Liedo of Mexico City why he fired The Rolling Stones' keyboard player and sixth member of the band Ian 'Stu' Stewart, Oldham countered, "I did not fire Stu, that was not within my power to do. I just told the band that I did not think the English public... were capable of being sold an image factor that contained six people.

"If the band had said, 'Andrew, you can't do that' then Stu would have stayed in the band. It remains a good decision. Life's got a short attention span when you work from nine to five and need to be entertained. Over the years the Stones have got away with 'Andrew fired Stu' - life's not as simple as that."

Bogomir Mijatovich from Yugoslavia asked what the biggest mistake Oldham made with the Stones was, to which he replied, "I don't think I made any mistakes that could be deemed as fatal in my time with the Stones. My job was to make them famous and get records made that got them heard and sold. And that's what I did and did well."

Talking about the Stones' original guitarist Brian Jones, who left the band and later tragically drowned in his swimming pool in 1969, Oldham said, "I believe Brian was fired because he was a liability 24 hours a day. His talent was immense and its capacity unrealised due to a sickness that today would not be allowed to destroy itself the way it did. He would not have had the stamina today to get to first base let alone last waste."


PR guru, record producer, svengali, label head, author - Andrew Loog Oldham has seen many sides of life during his eventful career. Now resident in Bogota, Colombia, we asked you to quiz the man himself. Here's the first part of his answers to your questions on topics ranging from Nico to the "firing" of "sixth Stone" Ian Stewart to beating the system. To see Part 2, CLICK HERE

Fatima Contes from New York asks: Was wondering (since I am of Latin American heritage) if Mr Loog Oldham now speaks Spanish fluently and if he feels safe living in Colombia in view of the current state of affairs there?

Andrew Oldham: "Fatima, no, I do not speak fluent Spanish, though I get by at the tiendra on the corner. The reason is that I do not have to work in Colombia, and this has stopped my having to learn Spanish as a means to putting food on my table. As for safety, when my wife tells me to pack, I will.

"I might be living here in a fool's paradise, I know I don't feel things and daily events in the Colombian way my wife feels them. I do not live in fear, I have survived a bomb explosion in Ireland in the 70s and that somewhat puts a reality bite and clip on fear of the unknown."

Mike Porohnavi from Baltimore asks: I would like to know what your thoughts on Nico are after all these years.

AO: "Mike, I was thinking about Nico just this morning. I'm about to write about her in 2Stoned, my follow-up to Stoned. As far as the data I have she died alone on a stretch of road on the island of Ibiza in the late 80s and my thoughts this morning were that I'm glad I'll have had a number of years straight and sober before I move onto the next.

"One, it helps to clear this universe for yourself and I know it makes life clearer for your children. In 1965 Nico came into my life as I was starting Immediate Records, recorded for me and promoted for us and really helped us play the game. I have nothing but good and fond memories of the lady. I just hope that she didn't die frustrated and unfullfilled, because I know that's how I'd feel if I died whilst I was still getting stoned."

Bogomir Mijatovich from Yugoslavia asks: What was the biggest mistake you made with the Stones?

AO: "Bogomir, your name sounds romantic, like an English seaside town that should have been torn down. An interesting question. One, there are no accidents. Two, there are no victims, only volunteers. I know that's tough data given recent events in your part of the world. I'm not being flippant, my step-father is from Yugoslavia and he's as clear on what's going on as a Vietnam vet is in re-telling his war, and that's not very clear.

"Anyway, to your question, I don't think I made any mistakes that could be deemed as fatal in my time with the Stones. If you want to put on the money hat I'm sure you'd find mistakes, but I did not wear that money hat, otherwise I'd have been a different fellow and, as such, of no use to the Stones in the first place. A guy who made money was not needed until they'd been made famous enough to be able to get it to the money, and that was either Allen Klein, Prince Rupert or Mick himself, depending upon your point of view and paymaster.

"Therefore, I was there for my time, and no more. My job was to make them famous and get records made that got them heard and sold. And that's what I did and did well. To wish for any more expertise other than what I had would be futile and non-productive to the reality of my actual life. Sitting here in Bogota at 57 years old my life is just about as good as it gets."

Matthew Whitehead asks: Who in your opinion is the best and worst member of the Rolling Stones?

AO: "Mathew, it doesn't work like that. If the tone level is such that your mind can meander into that area, then somethings wrong with the band, and the glue ain't sticking. When that glue is sticking you are dealing with the wonder of a band, when four or five come together and sound as one. All the rest is subjective and dangerous bullsh*t, and will be in all my books."

Martin Kinch asks: I have a single by Grunt Futtock called 'Rock n Roll Christian' with Roy Wood singing lead vocal on it. The label says it was produced by The Incredible Andrew Loog Oldham. I'd be grateful to know who was in Grunt Futtock and any other info about this.

AO: "Martin, can I have it? I was in England in '70 or '72 and Don Arden and I both needed some quick cash, so we had Gered Mankowitz take a group photo of some interesting looking friends from the art and photography world and called them Grunt Futtock.

"Then we had a guy who used to work for me at Immediate write up some anal ficticious bio. Then we gathered a few old pals and clients - Roy Wood, Peter Frampton, Steve Marriott, Andy Bown - and engineer Alan O'Duffy and Don Arden threatened to break their legs so they all made the record for nothing. Then Don sold the record to EMI as the next best thing since sliced bread and Don and I went shopping."

Javier Alvarez from Madrid asks: There are a lot of outtakes and covers of the Stones recorded in the studio. Do you think we will have to wait to the end of the band or the death of the members to have these songs officially published?

AO: "Javier, if you are talking about my time with the Stones, 1963 to 1967, I do not believe there are any outtakes that have not seen the light of day in one form or another. We pretty much released nearly everything we made, except stuff like 'Andrew's Blues', and that's been out as a bootleg with 'Cocksucker Blues'. After 1967, when recording became very multi-track I'm sure there became a lot of stuff that never got out there, but I have no idea how much and whether it'll ever see la luce del dia."

Gerardo Liedo from Mexico City asks: Why did you fire Stu? How do you feel now? Was it a good decision or not?

AO: "Gerardo, I did not fire Stu, that was not within my power to do. I just told the Stones that I did not think the English public, because that's all we were dealing with at the time, were capable of being sold an image factor that contained six people. If the band had said, "Andrew, you can't do that" then Stu would have stayed in the band. This would have made a great difference as to what their future would have been and raises the question of whether you'd have been writing me a letter today on any issue on the Stones, had Stu stayed.

"I don't know but I was right at the time. How do I feel as a man in his mid-fifties with knowledge now about decisions that cause pain to others? Obviously different, but we were teenagers or in our early twenties, well, all except Bill, and at that age youth is invincible and does not know the meaning of hurt, except in matters of the teenage heart. It remains a good decision. If you saw a member of Supertramp or Los Lobos down on the corner I doubt you'd recognise more than one or two members. Life's got a short attention span when you work from nine to five and need to be entertained. Pop music is not a memory test, it's an escape and an entertainment. Over the years the Stones have got away with "Andrew fired Stu" - life is not as simple as they'd like that statement to be."

Eric from France asks: Can you name a Stones song that would have sounded different when it was released because you and the Rolling Stones disagreed about it? What differences were they?

AO: "Eric, this question is tough to get an understood on. I don't quite understand what you mean. The Rolling Stones never came to me and said, "Andrew, don't release that record, that's awful." Keith Richard has said I f**ked up the mix on 'Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby?'. I may have, and that's his call. In theory, we couldn't diasagree because they played it, and then overdubbed on it and then Mick and Keith did the vocals. Then we mixed it, mastered it and released it.

"This process could not have happened if the group had not participated willingly in all the stages. Oh, yeah, there were recordings that didn't stir a nation, but we were all realistic about the quota we had to fill. I hope this has answered your question, Eric, if it has not "je vous en prie" please feel free to re-submit your question so that we can have a complete understood between us."

Helen Hall asks: If Brian was fired from the Stones, would he have gotten a financial deal? People say Brian would have been paid so much per year for the rest of the Stones career, plus a lump sum. Is that the way it worked? If Brian had quit would he get any money?

AO: "Helen, all that of which you speak came after my watch. I believe Brian was fired because he was a liability 24 hours a day. I have been told that money was settled on his estate, but I have no first hand knowledge as to whether this is true. Mick and Allen Klein were running things when Brian was fired and died. If either of those two gents decide to clear their universe and write a book, you can ask them. I believe Bill Wyman is writing a second book of memoirs, if that's true you may have the opportunity to ask your question again. As you know, he was around at the time of which you speak. I was not."

Geoff Kite from London asks: The area that fascinates me about the 60s is communication. It's hard enough getting people together for a gig these days, let only in the 60s. I would be really interested to know whether the adrenaline really flowed as you could never be sure of the outcome, who would turn up etc., and living on the edge was just part of the job, or did everyone had the philosophy of what will be will be?

AO: "Yes, Geoff, I hope you don't mind me asking you if you're flying one as well as being it in name. Okay, "adrenaline", "living on the edge" and "philosophy" were not on the agenda of catchphrases of the day, unless you wanted the piss taken out of you by those you were working with. The game was not to succumb to the man. The man was our elders who'd suppressed our generation with all the data on the sacrifices that had been made, as they had been, in World War 2, and told us to knuckle under, get a steady job and behave.

"So, empowered by the wonder of American music and icons on our local screen, we set about doing anything instead of getting that regular job. The pill came along and helped too, you didn't have to settle down once you'd succumbed to pussy. The Stones got gigs in clubs, I got PR gigs, we met, we got a recording contract together, all was going well, we were all laughing and ahead of the game. Then The Beatles captured the world and America and life changed and became a slightly more serious game. At the time, "adrenaline" we had naturally, and was what got to pilled-up mods on weekends in Pete Townshend's favourite Scene Club "living on the edge" was doing what came naturally and the perks of not having a regular job; and "philosophy" was for Bertrand Russell or those who'd opted for higher education as opposed to our university of the street."

Thu 21 Jun 2001 16:01

Peter Reichardt asks: I've just finished reading Ian McLagan's book in which he is highly critical of the way artists and in particular The Small Faces were dealt with at Immediate Records - non payment of royalties etc. Can you comment on these allegations?

Andrew Oldham: "Ian McLagan is a malignant bitter git operating on selective memory. As regards Immediate Records 1967-70 he's chosen to forget the weekly retainers The Small Faces enjoyed, the bills sent to my office as the Faces bought up London, the drug bills, the doctor bills and the rents paid on all their abodes.

"You must remember that, for the most part, this was a group that was too stoned to tour, which meant they had no income other than occasional gig money and publishing royalties and record sales. The group had four Top Twenty records on Immediate and all of them had their first legs bought into the charts. They had one best selling album, the rest was all protective camouflage. They had a single that sold 600,000 in America and then they refused to tour. You can do the math on that data.

"I get fed up with this press clipping revisionism but I hope the pianist sold some books. The Small Faces never appeared to adhere to the stage that well, and when Tony Calder and I did get them to tour Australia they'd only go if we went and held their hands. That was ten grand handholding. I will be dealing with all this and more in a book Tony Calder and I are producing on Immediate then and now, which will deal with all this and the theft and misuse of my property, which, alas, to some extent I allowed by being out for the count from 1970 until 1995.

"After 1970 Mr McLagan has a point about royalties. From '70 to '75 I was paying off Immediate's debt to EMI, then the liquidator of Immediate Records Ltd sold my tapes to Patrick Meehan, an individual whose ethics and integrity could be considered highly suspect and whose business practices have been looked at by the Fraud Squad, and who never paid a cent in royalties from '75 to '96 to anybody. He sold the tapes he'd bought to Castle, who collaborated on this shortchanging of artists until they made some payments in 1996. Castle is now owned by Sanctuary, who, it is rumored, paid The Small Faces, and I presume McLagan, 265,000 UK for past royalties in '95 or '96.

"This they did because Kenny Jones had the muscle to go to court. 95% of Immediate artists and 100% of its producers don't have that wherewithal, are not so fortunate and therefore have never received a post-1970 cent, due to a bizarre, but nevertheless strange arrangement, between Patrick Meehan and the lawyers currently representing Sanctuary, who should know better, but who continue to profit on 95% of these recordings without paying royalties.

"That covers the UK, outside of the UK Mr McLagan is again correct as regards non-payment post 1975 to the present. Whilst I was not in the best condition to be making decisions I made a deal with a Jean Luc Young of Charly Records. It's a matter that is now before the High Court in the UK, and I therefore cannot say too much on, but I can say that it is my contention that Mr Young conveniently replaced existing 1975 agreements with backdated documents, and he has been operating deceitfully and fraudulently with property that is mine that he put into place in 1977 with 1976 backdating.

"He has never paid any royalties to any artist or producer or to my Immediate Records Inc, which controls Immediate recordings outside of the UK, since December 1975. Like Sanctuary, he'd rather pay lawyers than artists. They are all a disgrace. Some of my lapses have also been disgraceful, and since I returned to clarity and sanity in 1995 I have been attempting to clear my Immediate universe and I ask you to stay posted as to the results. I will say this: if you buy any Immediate recordings on Charly, you do so knowing no artist or producer is being paid. And if you buy an Immediate recording on Sanctuary, only The Small Faces, Humble Pie, some of The Amen Corner and maybe P.P. Arnold and Chris Farlowe are getting paid.

"Producers and artists, as of this writing, who are not getting paid, include Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Duncan Browne, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger, Mike D'Abo, The Nice, Mike Hurst, The Poets, John Mayall, Les Fleur De Lys, Twice As Much, Gregory Phillips, Shel Talmy, The Masterminds, Nico, The Fifth Avenue, The Factotums, The Golden Apples Of The Sun, Glyn Johns, Mick Softley, Jimmy Tarbuck, The Factotums, Charles Dickens, Godie, Tony Rivers & The Castaways, Nicky Scott, myself and many more. If you are buying a recording that originates from Immediate Records Inc, then artist and producer are getting paid. I'm sure you are glad you asked the question."

Jon asks: As I read your book, I noticed you were a man that cared a lot about clothes style in the 60s. So I was wondering what you thought of Brian Jones style of dress 1965-69?

AO: "Jon, thank you for taking me back to the more serene tone of clothes after my Immediate thesis. I thought Brian's '65-69 attire was very imaginative and daring. The only shame of it was that as the tone of his attire went up, his health went down, and towards the end Chris Farley (the American comedy actor) could have played him as a Regency fop.

"The Thea Porter clothing was wonderful. I had some myself, but had to be careful, I couldn't carry it off the way Brian could. I don't know of what age you are and therefore whether you've ever held a Thea Porter garment in your hands, or worn it, but her work and detail was absolutely exquisite, way beyond the dry cleaning skills of the day. The only way I could give mine a decent life was to check into a good hotel and have my Porter garb attended to there."

Javier Alvarez from Madrid asks: What is your personal point of view about Brian's talent and behaviour?

AO: "Javier, I know my book has not yet appeared in Spanish, otherwise I'd tell you to read the book. I'll capsule it for you and hope that it's suffice. Desafortunadamente Brian perdida de tiempo quien se dedico a destruirse y morir. He got his wish. His talent was immense and it's capacity unrealized due to a sickness that today would not be allowed to destroy itself as it did, because he got away with it in a world of 25 minute concerts, for a while. He would not have had the stamina that is required today to get to first base let alone last waste."

Phil from Romford asks: What's a typical day like for you now?

AO: "Phil, maybe quite like yours apart from the climate and the meat selection. I get up between four and five in the morning. I do my e-mails and calls to England. I walk the dog, our beagle Ruby. I eat a steak and veg. I go to work on 2Stoned between 6:30 and 9. At 9:30 I go to the gym. I go three times a week and then go to my acupuncturist. I get home and have lunch. More meat, fish, chicken, veg and/or tofu. I watch a Law & Order re-run or BBC World, the news and HardTALK and maybe take a nap.

"I get up at four, work until seven nipping and tucking at 2Stoned again, walk the dog again (before dog-lovers get alarmed she's walked during the day by a maid). I have a light supper with my family, watch the news, a Seinfeld re-run or Larry King on CNN and go to bed. And sometimes I get lucky. This is my agenda whilst I'm working at finishing my next book 2Stoned, which covers my life from '64 to '67. Other times involve travel, seeing movies, taking courses, giving occasional English culture courses at local universities and keeping up with what is new and going on in life. Care to join us?"

Matt from London asks: How often do you listen to the Stones now?

AO: "I don't, Matt. It would be a little redundant and not in present time. I enjoy my Stones work, or theirs alone and later, when I see/hear it in movies or am surprised by it on radio or screen. Then it has a different edge and I can separate myself from my work and be a driver or a moviegoer, a fan, a participant in an entertainment where my memory does not invade my pleasure.

"A few weeks ago I walked up to a local supermarket and they were playing 'Paint, It Black'. That was quite bizarre, usually it's Cat Stevens through Phil Collins, harmless shop-a-long national anthem fodder. I stood and listened and was quite engaged in the opposites of the moment, but coming home, making a cup of tea and putting on the Stones, no, that just ain't gonna happen. Keith Richards, yeah and maybe, it's one step and one stone removed. Charlie Watts live would be another kind of joy."

John Ray asks: If you could amalgamate three people that you've met into your life into one extra special person, who would they be and why?

AO: "Well, John, once upon a time Johnny Ray would have been one. Do I have to have met them? This is nice and tough, it would depend on who I was into being influenced by on the day. Okay, Anthony Burgess, Sean Kenny and Sean Connery. Anthony Burgess for the vision and the words; Sean Kenny for the vision and the design and Sean Connery for the being able to just be. Now, let me have three I haven't met. Graham Greene, for inspiring me to write; Laurence Harvey for inspiring me to dream and Buddy Holly for the songs that gave me attitude and hope."

Shirley Leggitt from Leeds asks: I have come to be in the position of managing a local Leeds band and have no previous experience. I want to do a great job for them as they are fantastic. Any advice or tips? What is the best way to make contacts? Loved the book and would appreciate some advice from the best in the business.

AO: "Thank you, Shirley. No previous experience is probably the best inoculation against despair. Don't fall in love with the act, do fall in love with what they can be. Don't appeal to their dreams except through reason and actual reality as it occurs, let them know what the possibilities are, make them work at every one of them so that a slam-dunk is not an accident but an ability to be and be again. Order a book called Get It In Writing by Brian McPherson from or Barnes and Noble or Amazon. Make the group read it, and you too, so you all know what you are up against.

"The main change in the game is no change. You are food for a machine. If you don't write, you must learn to or attach yourself to writers who can service and provide the group with songs. You must get some of the publishing otherwise even on a million seller you'll end up broke. Study that book and make sure you can deal with a contract and have it understood by you and your band. A lawyer telling you it's standard or okay is not good enough and irresponsible.

"A few years ago I picked up an Ebony magazine and saw this article on Nat "King" Cole's widow. She had a mansion in Massachusetts and a couple of Rolls-Royces out front. I knew she hadn't got it from her freebasing-at-the-time daughter Natalie. She told the interviewer that during his career Mr Cole had put 50% of every dollar away for tax, saved 25% and spent the rest. That's an admirable achievement that I was not born poor enough to aim for.

"I fell in love with the game. You'll gauge your own cloth. I wish you luck, I wish you fame, in which case the act will have to leave you - it's the nature of the game. Get everything in writing or else it isn't true. Do not work with drug-takers, the world is no longer recreational, it's deadly serious. Depend on the applause in the moment of work as opposed to third party applause. That is supportive, required but dangerous when taken as the be-all. Enjoy yourself, enjoy each other, it's still the best game I know."

William Skinner asks: As Joe Walsh would say, "Has life been good on the edge of notoriety"?

AO: "Oh, William. The notoriety only logged in when I stopped and smelt the dung. Before that it was just work and now that I'm over the dung, it's just work again. And that's the roses of it all. The notoriety is just another's perception, I cannot own that viewpoint, to me I can only own the flat data of what I did. In that world The Rolling Stones were not special people except when they gathered together and played as one. I do allow that somebody annoyed one, you smacked them and in walked notoriety. My contribution to that cycle was the whacking, that's the only control I had anything over. So yes, life has been good on the edge of notoriety, now that I'm not letting it cut into the reality."

Thanks to Andrew for his fascinating responses and thanks to all our users who submitted questions.

The first of Andrew Loog Oldham's volumes of autobiography, Stoned, is out now in paperback, priced 7.99.

Simon P Ward

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