If the internet had been widely available 20 years ago, this site would be 20 years old. Seriously.
In the ancient 80s, when I was 15 years old, I had an epiphany. All the rock stars I loved were, in fact — get this — real people. They went to real people places and did real people things. They didn’t have their own elevators (usually) and actually had to walk from the car or bus into the hotel or venue or wherever they were going.
Well, no duh. Sure, it’s only logical because these people are human. But still, everyone expects celebrities to be pretty much untouchable. “They” are always on the other side of the screen and on the other side of the velvet rope. If you’re don’t know someone who can snag you a backstage pass, you’ll see them onstage during their tour, and that’s usually good enough.
Well, it wasn’t quite good enough for me. I had already read all about these people, loved their music and wanted to see them in concert. But then, for some reason I honestly can’t really remember, I decided I wanted to meet these people. I was a teenager, and didn’t have any connections or a shred of clout, but I was unphased. Why couldn’t it be done? I thought I’d at least try.
So some friends and I decided to meet UB40, and meet them we did. We were backstage before the show, saw the concert, and then took a photo with the whole band in the lobby of their hotel. (The picture didn’t turn out so you won’t see it here, but the memory is still there.)
So it began. I started creating my own music fanzines in the mid-80s. Sure, they weren’t widely read — only a few hundred subscribers. But writing for these ‘zines (and a couple others) quickly became my raison d’Ãªtre. How cool was it that I could meet and interview my favorite bands — mainly British and Australian groups — all because of my little stapled, photocopied “magazine” thingy? Very… and way more fun than homework.
Don’t think that I make any claim to being a great photographer or writer — I was just doing what I loved to do, guerilla-style.
To this day, I can’t believe some of the opportunities I had — and all of the amazing things I got to experience. Everyone was so insanely nice to me and to my friends. So earnest and dedicated, I think they saw me as a cute little wannabe writer — not your average everyday groupie. Yeah, I’m sure they were humoring my journalistic ambitions to a large degree, but still, I’m reallly grateful to all of these wonderful people my friends and I got to meet.
Hopefully, all those guys would be happy with the return on their investment of time and energy, as my teenage career as a music journalist led to a grown-up career as a journalist. Two decades years on — albeit after a rather significant break — I’m still interviewing musicians. Some recent
targets subjects include James Blunt, Jewel, Rob Thomas, Brandi Carlile, Howie Day, Lifehouse, Secret Machines, Missy Higgins, Jason Mraz and Snow Patrol. I’ve also been the editor-in-chief of two national print magazines, freelanced for several other major publications, and have worked on other projects both in print and online. (I also worked for a few years in the music business and was married to a British drummer — I met him on his first US tour — but those are stories for another time, children.)
So now I can proudly say there’s no longer any need to haunt hotel lobbies or show up at soundchecks to get my interviews — I actually talk to publicists and book things in advance. Most of the resultant music-related work appears on my dearest darling SheKnows.com site, which I co-founded with my best buddy back in 1999.
Here on andwhatsnext.com, I have compiled some of my photos, autographs, backstage passes and other assorted goodies — along with some of my recollections. It’s about time these memories came out of their boxes and into the world!
And what’s next? Well, there’s always something amazing and unexpected around the corner. Watch for it.
P.S. Have memories to share? Please post them in the comments section — there’s one for every article (including this one).
P.P.S. I am also looking for some friends of mine from them olden days:
Jacqueline Colson (Jackie Colson) of Malden MA found!, Anji B of Flagstaff AZ and San Pedro CA found!, Angela Murray of La Quinta CA, Christy (mom to Brittany) of somewhere in Ohio I think, and Jackie Johnson of Los Angeles CA. And if anyone is looking for me from back then, some search terms: Nancy Robinson, Orinda, Miramonte 1987.