I want to thank all of you for your response to this Q&A. It's great to know that so many of you out there love and support classic rock. Your passion fuels our flames. I'm forever grateful and humbled by your gratitude. MT
What was the most memorable city you played in and why? -Cindy Slone Ewing
The first one that pops into my head is Mexico City. We played an outdoor show at a park there many years ago. Many thousands of passionate fans showed up. It started to rain early on in the concert and I thought the show would be stopped for sure. In spite of the rain, the concert went on and I didn't see one person leave. They all remained for the whole performance, standing in the rain and singing along to their favorite songs. I decided to remove myself from the safety of the covered stage and sing from the scaffolds, so I too got drenched. I've never felt a stronger bond with an audience. At least the weather was warm like the hearts of our spirited Mexican fans.
What was the inspiration to "We built this city"? - Samantha Stillwagner
Contrary to popular belief, the song was not written about San Francisco. Bernie Taupin actually wrote the lyric about the closing of a famous rock and roll club in Hollywood during the early eighties. It was a club called The Starwood. The Starwood was rich in rock and roll history and tradition. In other words, a lot of debauchery went down there. Some of the local politicians and residents didn't like what was going on in the club or the loud music emanating from its walls. It was bad for the youth and it was bad for the neighborhood in their minds. The conflict in Rock of Ages between the Bourbon Room and the city mirrors exactly the situation that inspired We Built This City. On a personal note I interpreted We Built This City to be more of an intellectual property as opposed to a geographic location. It's not about one city or one place but about people everywhere who love the spirit of rock and roll. I mean, Woodstock was a city for three days.
At what point did you absolutely know that music was what you were meant to do with your life? - Veronica Celeste
I was lucky enough to see the Beatles perform live in 1965 at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium. I was 15 years old and I knew right then what I wanted to do. Fortunately the rock and roll Gods smiled upon me. I guess I'm giving you enough mathematical info to figure out my age.
How's Grace? - Karen DiGesu
Grace is great! Her daughter China got married in the last year. She spends all of her time painting now. The last time I saw Grace was in Palm Desert at one of her art shows. A fan walked up to her and asked her something about her years in music and she with her quick wit answered him in her Grace fashion with a few expletives! I would love her to paint me from her viewpoint. It would be interesting to see what she comes up with. She’s living in Malibu. I need to call Grace.
Who counts the money underneath the bar? - Katelyn Teeguarden
This might be my favorite question. It implies many possibilities as do most of the lyrics in We Built This City. I could go off on many philosophical or existential tangents as to who the "who" is. Does it represent an overseer who controls our destiny or perhaps some shadow figure of authority? I suppose the most obvious, based on the climate of the times during which it was written, is the music business. The music corporations were always able to manipulate deals and hide money in such a way to rip off artists. The "Underneath the bar" phrase implies something hidden or unscrupulous. Money under the table so to speak. This used to go on all the time, but dammit I do miss the way things used to be with the record labels in spite of a little corruption. It was still easier to monitor things as compared to today's digital download world.
Was Stacee Jaxx's personality commonplace for high level lead singers? - Janet Zumba
In my sphere of existence, hell no! There is no denying the unpredictable allure and dangerous appeal of Stacee Jaxx's but he is hardly like any of the singers I personally know. All the guys I know from the 80's ( and yes, this is my opportunity to do some serious name dropping) including Steve Perry, Lou Gramm, Eddie Money, Mike Reno, Kevin Dubrow, Bobby Kimball, Jimi Jamison, Jack Blades to name just a few, are outrageous fun loving guys. All are talented, charismatic, hard working dudes who love to kick out the jams when the time is right. I personally never came across any lead singer who displayed the dark, egomaniacal, hedonistic and self destructive tendencies of Stacee Jaxx. Those characteristics were usually those of guitar players! Just kidding Slash!!
What has been my biggest regret in life? -Matt Shuttleworth
This is an intriguing question. It implies that you would change your biggest regret, but I don't necessarily feel that to be true. I'm a believer in fate and destiny and I think if you change one episode of your life, you change everything that ensues. Many years ago I had a very violent confrontation with a former band member. This confrontation changed both of our lives forever, albeit in different ways. The night I walked down the hotel hallway and called him out on the challenge he laid down might be my biggest regret. The question is would I change it. I regret that I have 5 titanium plates in my face and some paralysis. I regret that I never saw my former band mate again after that night but I would not change what happened. I'm in a great place in my life right now and would not risk jeopardizing that by changing anything. On a lighter note, I regret that I waited over 2 years to ask my wife out on our first date.
In the video there is a radio DJ talking in the background. Is that Rick Dees aka disco duck? - Carol Hansen
No it is not Rick Dees! The DJ voice belongs to the incredibly suave Les Garland. Les was a famous radio personality in San Francisco in the 70's. He has been a long time friend of the band. Les and 2 partners started MTV in the early 80's! He happened to be visiting us in the studio during the recording of "City". We asked him if he would record a DJ voice over the middle section of the song. He graciously accepted. He did it all right off the top of his head. I do recall that he was swinging a golf club back and forth as he was ad libbing his overdub. He said it relaxed him. It was always a great treat for us when Les would drop in on us in the middle of a tour to hang out for a few days. A true Rock and Roll icon!
What advice would you give musicians in today's market looking to get noticed? - Matt French
Boy do I hate it when people ask me for advice. My life has been such continuous sequence of splendid coincidences and divine intervention. It makes it hard for me to feel qualified to give advice. But since you asked. Be authentic! Stay cocky and humble at the same time. Don't be afraid to look into the darkest part of your soul because there are a lot of people out there who feel the same darkness. That being said, don't forget to have a sense of humor as well. If you keep your eyes and ears open, you'll find out very soon if it's your calling or if you're falling.
What time does the Ship leave, and can I hitch a ride? - Mary T Maslanik
The Ship leaves at 7 bells on the morning milky way. All hitchers are welcome. Be prepared to take on adventure, perils, receptionists, flight attendants, hat check clerks, sycophants, waitresses, shoe shiners, web designers and unknown perils. The risks are great but the rewards are greater. We offer carnal indulgence and spiritual gratification. We take on acrobats, dancing girls, jugglers, clowns, sorcerers, high rollers and low riders. We stop for hungry hearts and amusement parks, mermaids and cavalcades, gourmet meals and trained seals, pool hustlers and wine guzzlers, femme fatales and rodeo gals. Come on aboard and leave your politics behind. This Ship only carries the fugitive kind. What we offer is good for the soul. We built this city on ROCK & ROLL!!! All aboard.........
What is your opinion of shows like American Idol? - Heather Lynn
First of all, my schedule makes it hard for me to watch things on a regular basis. I can honestly say, I have never watched one episode of American Idol. I think you have to commit from the get-go for shows like this to have a great appeal for you. It's an emotional investment on the part of the viewer to follow your favorites all through a whole season of viewing. I suppose I could record the shows and watch them at my own convenience, but it just doesn't interest me enough to do that. There is a lot of great vocal talent that has appeared on the show, but musically it's not my cup of tea. I prefer bands or solo artist that have come out of great bands. I come from a time when bands paid their dues playing dives and riding all night together in a crowded van. I think American Idol is the greatest talent contest around, it just doesn't have a lot to do with rock & roll. Hope I don't sound like a snob, but those are my feelings.
Who is Stacee Jaxx? - Riann Jacobs
As I said in an earlier answer, he isn't like any singers I personally know from the 80's. Based on my perception of some rock stars, I guess he's a bit Axel Rose, a bit Vince Neil, a touch of Steven Tyler, a smidgeon of David Coverdale. He's an outlaw, a rebel, a tortured artist and an exhibitionist. He has animal magnetism and a swindler's smile. Most of all he's every young guy who sang into the mirror in his bedroom hoping to be a rock star. He's a big dreamer who shows you the fun and the danger of making it.
Did you like the movie, and how they did your song? - Karla Gallegos
Yeah! I like the way it was used in tandem with "We're Not Gonna Take It". It's a pivotal point in the movie with the stand-off between the conservative party poopers and the radical rockers. I like the way the songs spar back and forth in the scene. It was cool to see and hear the vocal come out of Russell Brand. I also got a kick out of seeing my buddy Kevin Cronin singing along with the chorus behind the barricade. I thought they captured the true spirit of the song.
What would be your favourite song you have recorded? - Matthew Kemp
This is tough. It's like who is your favorite friend or which one is your favorite child? I think if I had to pick one it would be "Fooled Around and Fell in Love". I was very young when I recorded it and it was my first experience singing a lead vocal in a big time recording studio with a big time producer (Bill Szymczyk), look him up, his resume is too long to include here. It was the first time I heard my voice on the radio. I also love the feedback I get to this day regarding the song's effect on so many listeners. It feels good to be a small part of so many romantic encounters, many of which have lasted a lifetime. I still love to sing it on stage. More than any song, it reflects my R&B roots.
How did you come to the attention of Starship and how did you transition from R&B and Blues to rock anthems? - Arlene Weiss
The story goes that a crew member made a tape of my work with Elvin, as well as some solo stuff and brought it to the band to check out. They liked what they heard and called me up (still not sure how they got my number). I came in and met the guys and did some talking and jamming. I did originally have a lot of trepidation about how my style would fit with that of the Jefferson Starship. The band at that time was looking to go for a much harder sound. I decided to try and not change a thing as far as my approach to the vocals. I just applied my gospel tinged singing to the rock and roll bed of the music. It came out sounding very original and fresh. It wasn't so much a transition as it was a mixture, a combining of styles. The result was "Jane.” It set the tone for everything.