Chris Blackwell of Island Records

chris

When I met Chris in May of 1983, he was no stranger to Alabama. In 1971, he brought Jimmy Cliff to record in Muscle Shoals. Several cuts, including “Sitting in Limbo,” ended up on the soundtrack of the cult reggae film, “The Harder They Come.” He booked the studio and brought Steve Winwood’s band Traffic to Muscle Shoals to record as well.  Both artists were signed to Island Records.

Steve Winwood’s brother, “Muff”, also worked for Island Records and produced the first Dire Straits album.

In 1977, Chris founded Compass Point Studio, Nassau, Bahamas. Labor Day weekend I was off to Nassau and missed the first day of high school.

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Missing Persons

missingI went to THE POLICE in late May of 1983 when I was kidnapped from my home by Joe Elliott of Def Leppard, Kurt Cobain who was working with the band, and another man I never knew his name and they took me to the hotel in downtown Birmingham.

Joe was able to escape the hotel with many of his roadies, but Kurt and the other man were taken in for questioning.  So, it was a surprise when I woke again to Kurt staring me in the face and found myself back at the hotel the next day.  Throughout the summer, this continued to happen and I didn’t understand why they were not in jail.

It was during this time I tried to play along, to make up songs, other times I would get mad and fought back.  It didn’t seem to matter to them as long as they got what they wanted.  My trail of breadcrumbs in naming bands and song lyrics didn’t seem to get the police or the public’s attention either.  This included naming the band “The  Police, “Warrant”, and even “Missing Persons”.

Among the songs I wrote and recorded by Missing Persons included “Destination Unknown,” “Words,” and “Walking in L.A.”.

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Florida Georgia Line

flora bamaI grew up hearing about the Flora-Bama bar situated on the Florida and Alabama state lines in Perdido Key Florida.  Even though I do not consume alcohol, many of my friends talked about their wild nights hanging out there on vacation.  About 10 years ago, I finally went for a night out to check it out for myself.  florabama2

It was after this that I decided to name a new band The Florida Georgia Line, for the states that my much loved grandfather was born in (Florida) and died in (Georgia).

miles11For this group, I wrote the songs “Cruise” and “This Is How We Roll“, both a throw back to when I was a teen cruising and tradition continues among the young and young at heart along the strips of Gulf Shores, Alabama to Panama City Beach strip.

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Damn Yankees

Damn_Yankees_1958Damn Yankees was a 1955 Broadway musical turned film in which the song “What Lola Wants, Lola Gets” became famous.

maxwell caulfieldMuch of what they were teaching me about the entertainment industry was lost on me, but I made many connections to some films.  Tad Hunter who appeared in the film version of Damn Yankees had appeared in the 1982 film Grease 2.  At the time, I had a poster of actor Maxwell Caulfield who had a lead role in Grease 2 on the back of my bedroom door.  When Joe Elliott of Def Leppard entered my life he ordered that the poster be taken down and posters of him and his band be put up in my room.

Later, Kurt Cobain found out about J.D. Salinger’s character Holden “Caulfield” and decided to use him as inspiration for his public persona.

At the time, I was working on ideas for horror master Vincent Price, such as using his voice on Thriller with Michael Jackson and in Edward Scissorhands, and found out that in the 1970’s he starred as Applegate in summer stock productions of the show Damn Yankees.

When asked what I wanted to name a new band, made up of Tommy Shaw of Styx, Jack Blades of Night Ranger, Ted Nugent, and Michael Cartellone (then an unknown drummer, but one who would later join Lynyrd Skynyrd) I told them “Damn Yankees”.

Before the invention of the band Damn Yankees, I had been writing songs for the band Styx and the Montgomery, Alabama native Tommy Shaw.

gremlinsThe new band would record my song “High Enough“.  The song “Damn Yankees” would be on the soundtrack for “Gremlins 2″ which I had worked on the original with the title inspired by Roald Dahl’s children book (seen left).  Dahl is known for his book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and worked on the script for James Bond author Ian Fleming’s children book “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”.  Fleming’s step cousin actor and horror master Christopher Lee appeared in Gremlin’s 2.

I find it unfortunate that Styx is doing shows with Def Leppard.  Can only hope they are keeping an eye on Joe Elliott and keeping him from abusing other little girls.

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Southern Cross

southern crossWhy would Kurt Cobain chose the date of Howard Hughes death of April 5th in Texas for the day he would leave the public life in 1994?

It was Kurt who told me about Chris Blackwell, the man who proclaimed me his enemy, Chris’ mother having an affair with the James Bond author Ian Fleming, the Blackwell family who owned Crosse & Blackwell, and Albert R. Broccoli who was mentored by Howard Hughes.

I learned much about Hughes, his contributions in aviation, his work in the film industry and about acquiring the luxury steam yacht the Rover from British shipping magnate Lord Inchcape.  He renamed the yacht the Southern Cross.

It was during these conversations I made up the song which I requested be recorded by Crosby, Stills and Nash, due to Def Leppard borrowing the lyrics “It’s better to burn out than fade away” from Neil Young who has a long relationship with Crosby Stills and Nash.  In 1994, Kurt would also use those lyrics of Neil Young in what is considered his “suicide note” addressed to Boddah.

Kurt’s interpretation of the Southern Cross…

southern

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Death of Kurt Cobain

kc deadKurt had been planning his staged suicide for many years.  When Kurt first told me in 1983 that he was going to commit suicide, I begged him not to do it.  At first, I thought he really might go through with it.  This was after the Birmingham Police Detective who drove me home had a radio call that there was someone on suicide watch the night Kurt was arrested in May of 1983.

Then Chris Blackwell of Island Records entered our life.  Chris also brought the James Bond producer Albert R. Broccoli and family into our life.  Chris’ mother had an affair with author Ian Fleming and got his start in the entertainment industry working on the set of Dr. No.

640px-Howard_HughesOthers told me about how Albert R. Broccoli got his start in the industry being mentored by Howard Hughes.  They also told me he died in my father’s state of Texas on April 5, 1976.

It was the day Howard Hughes died that Kurt chose to leave the public life.

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Castle

castleI was introduced to the work of horror master William Castle as a teen due to his work with Vincent Price who I asked to use his voice on my song “Thriller” recorded by Michael Jackson.

This was after Joe Elliott told me about Roman Polanski who escaped justice of having drugged and raped a teenaged girl.  Joe had been bragging and knowing he was going to get away with doing the same to me.

Castle mortgaged his home to obtain the rights to Ira Levine’s novel Rosemary’s Baby.  Paramount Pictures insisted on hiring director Polanski.  Kurt Cobain made many references to Levine, due to our work on ideas for the novel to film “Sliver” and includes the Nirvana song “Sliver”.

Castle is one of the last television show ideas I worked on, naming it for the iconic William Castle as well as the character Richard Castle portrayed by Canadian actor Nathan Fillion who came to meet me.  I talked to Nathan about coming up with ideas for Miami Vice as a teen and about all the book to films I worked on.  I thought it would be interesting to have a novelist work with the police to help solve crimes.

barry beckettThe character Detective Kate Beckett was named for Birmingham, Alabama native and musician Barry Beckett.  He is best known for his work as a member of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section.  Among the artists Beckett recorded with were Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Rod Stewart, Duane Allman, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. He was also briefly a member of the band Traffic.  Steve Winwood was a member of Traffic and his brother Muff Winwood became an A&R man for Chris Blackwell’s Island Records.  Muff produced Dire Straits first album who went on to record my song “Money for Nothing”.

The most recent episodes of Castle were inspired by my work on the film Face/Off.

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