WORDS FROM THE WRITER: LARRY YASKIEL an exclusive interview for Sidetracks And Detour
JUKE BOX JUDGE AND JURY
Diligently undertaking the depth of research our readers demand of us, I googled Larry Yaskiel before conducting our interview with him, and unearthed an extensive on-line presence, though some of those entries that come up first on the page are my own previous articles about him published on Lanzarote Information web site. There is, however, a great piece posted on line at Lanzarote Business People a while ago and I have editorialised here some of its information.
I had been looking forward to a chat over a cold beer on a sunny day but Lanzarote had the last laugh, throwing out one of its handful of cloudy, chilly days we get in any one year.
Larry was muffled up against the Lanzarote winter, which we don´t have, of course, but it was chilly enough that I, too, had gone all Ilkeley Moor Bah ´Tat so I think we looked more like The Last Of The Summer Wine than All The Young Dudes. We sat huddled on the outdoor terrace of the San Antonio Hotel, in early January, holding our cups of tea and coffee between our hands to keep our fingers warm.
The conversation was piping-hot, though, as we talked of Herb Alpert, Johnny Kidd And The Pirates, Elvis and Chuck Berry. We spoke of Larry´s collection of photographs showing him with Joan Baez, the princess of sixties folk music. These photographs, displayed on a wall in his home, also show him with The Bee Gees, members of Led Zep and Fleetwood Mac.
There is the composer, Burt Bacharac, in one frame, and a shoeless Sandie Shaw and in another, Billy Preston and there´s even one of Tom Jones in conversation with the Queen of England. With a photograph of Rat Pack member Dean Martin alongside a picture of the Supreme, Diana Ross, this is a collection of extremes.
Talking of these snapshots seemed appropriate as Larry has a photographic and chronological memory of every step of a career that ran from the mid-fifties to the late nineteen seventies. In that period serving as a business adviser cum Liaison officer to British rock groups working or touring in Germany. He stumbled into the industry almost by accident, as he recalls.
´I was working in Germany as a door to door encyclopaedia salesman, selling English language editions to America GIs serving over there, and was becoming very bored,´ he told me. ´I packed it in and instead took some work as a doorman at a club called Bar Rumba, that had a jukebox in the corner. Hearing its records as a constant soundtrack throughout the day all the time I worked there absolutely changed my life. Then, my mother heard that the Pye Recording organisation was undergoing some international transition that had them needing somebody with a wide knowledge of the rock and roll record industry, who could speak English and German.´
Larry ticked all those boxes and fortunately his mum knew someone he should talk to.
Larry went on to explain that his parents were importers of vinyl rock and roll albums by artists such as Little Richard and so it was that Larry, having grown up to that musical soundtrack, contacted Pye and began a twenty year stint working in an era of rock and roll that saw four lads from Liverpool playing frequently in The Star Club in Hamburg, alongside former school-fellows in another group called The Searchers !
Several songs by The Beatles were becoming popular with German audiences when the band played them live, long before they were ever recorded. Among them was She Loves You, then unheard of above The Cavern or outside The Star Club, because in those days, as Larry reminded me, The Beatles were not yet a phenomenon. Larry had it translated into German for the boys.
Similarly, the young Yaskiel also helped arrange tours of Germany by á couple of unknown virtuoso guitarists, Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton, before Larry returned to London as the chief of the then emerging A & M label to become involved in the burgeoning British rock scene. That move saw him sign Humble Pie, with their star in the making, Peter Frampton.
A musical soundtrack had always been a constant in Larry´s life, first from the radio, then from that jukebox in the bar and now it was being supplied by the pirate radio ships. Larry was keen to remind me how they changed the sound-shapes of music on the ´wireless.´
Whilst the British Broadcasting Services were playing what young people of that time thought to be ´light and boring´ music, the likes of Radio Caroline delivered the pop music the kids loved, that was so much a part of the ´swinging sixties´ scene.
Larry, though, also had a latent love of classical, and even opera, music and although he achieved so much he reminds me that the pop industry was still a risky business, and any failures could easily offset every huge success. Nevertheless, Larry´s catholic musical tastes helped him successfully calculate the risk of signing Miguel Rios who, in 1970 recorded his Ode To Joy, in itself a celebration of Beethoven. EMI had rejected him but, believing the recording to be suitable for all audiences, Larry bought the rights and, helped by three appearances on Top Of The Pops, with its average seventeen million viewers per weekly show, the young Miguel reached number three in a top ten chart that included The Beatles, Pink Floyd and Elvis Presley !
Larry says he always had great respect for the artists he worked with, and saw it as his job to accompany them through the business machinations of recordings, concerts, press and financial management so they could be left with the time and space they required to ´create something from nothing,´ knowing that he believed in them.
It has become widely recognised now that a new band or artist recording their first album will, through their writing and / or performing of it, pour their life story into the album, Then comes into play what we now call the ´second, difficult, album syndrome´ which, having used up all their energies and creativity on their debut album, artists find more difficult to fill.
Larry believed in some longevity, though and recognised that a third album usually offered a wider overall picture of the creativity of the artists.
He named Supertramp as a group that perfectly epitomised that theory who, after selling less than a combined total of a thousand of their first two albums, then released Crime Of The Century, which earned them a gold disc in a career that eventually saw them sell 57 million albums.
The rock music industry, though, was lived at a frantic pace, and although Larry was very happy working in an industry he loved, with a soundtrack he adored, he found himself beginning to seek some respite from that pace of life. So it was that in 1973 he took a vacation in Jamaica, but even there the evidence of this still relatively new music was apparent. Therefore, when he met a record producer who invited him to a boat party, Larry was in need of some peace and solitude and so headed, instead, to the other end of the island.
It was there he heard music from a nearby house and discovered several Rastafarians playing, and in their midst was Keith Richards who along with some fellow members of The Rolling Stones had rented five houses in the area where Larry joined them for a while as they recorded a new album.
There is a tendency these days to label those times as the era of ´sex, drugs and rock ´n roll´ but Larry remembers it as a gentler period, full of artistry and creativity, and he still carries a vivid picture in his head of so-called wild child Jimi Hendrix, relaxed in the home of his manager, former Animals bassist Chas Chandler, chilling out by enjoying some cross-stitch work.
By now, though, Larry was ready to find his own ´place in the sun´ and spent his ´first holiday in years´ here on Lanzarote. Having received £27,000 for a recording contract in Argentina for Leo Sayer, he and his wife Liz discovered an apartment over here on sale for precisely that same sum.
They bought it as a holiday home, but were soon living here permanently. After a couple of years of ´doing nothing´ Larry learned from a friend that Lancelot publishing was looking to buy a German magazine and would require a translator with a good coverage of Spanish, English and German.
Larry got the job, and that led to him setting up the magazine in English and to thus target those British people looking to holiday and / or settle here on the island.
There have now been around 150 editions of the quarterly Lancelot magazine, and a copy of each of the first 120 editions was given to The Centre For Teachers. The magazine has always spoken of Lanzarote´s culture and has placed the island firmly in a historical context, highlighting, for instance, how it was mentioned in the works of Shakespeare. Larry has also been heavily involved in finding the descendants of those who, centuries ago, founded San Antonio in Texas.
It was this aspect of the Lancelot that had my wife Dee and me ardently reading it from cover to cover whenever we came here on holiday, and by some strange osmosis, the Lancelot magazine played a large part in our own eventual retirement here.
I realised from some of the articles Lancelot carried that there is a wide diaspora of emigrants from Lanzarote that accounted for the similarities I had identified between the Texan and Mexican strands I loved in country and western music with elements of Spanish and Canarian folk lore music.
These days, Larry is a much loved and respected ´man of the island´ and he and Liz are ubiquitous figures at arts events all over Lanzarote. Liz still smilingly groups artists and fans alike into poses for the news pages of their magazine, and Larry has enjoyed the past eighteen months or so promoting his two books.
Whilst one seems to be the story of the emergence of rock and roll and the other a more factual, and traditionally historical, book listing the connections between Lanzarote and the UK, both are viewed by politicians and educationalists as being a source of invaluable information to those who want or need to know more about this island. Copies are therefore available in schools libraries and our houses of culture.
Larry is part of the history of rock and roll and one of his nephews even asked him last summer in London to talk with children to help them pass the subject of ‘History Of British Rock’.
´It is amazing to think that what I did is now a discipline in some schools,´ Larry told us, ´and I did not know at that time that the industry I was involved would create a history of its own.´
That seemed somehow a fitting closing comment on how we, and times, all change, so after nearly an hour of the most enjoyable chat of my life, I was ready to go with my first question. It was that cover picture of La Rocola del Bar Rumba, showing Larry looking for all the world like a young rock God, which led me to ask a cheeky ´opening´ question.
WHO was Larry Yaskiel then, and WHO is Larry Yaskiel now?
´At that time, I was living in Germany, in a period from 1958 to 1969,´ Larry recalled, ´and at that time I returned to London as European manager of A & M Records. You remember the label had Herb Alpert, Sergio Mendes and The Carpenters on their list of artists but they wanted to get into rock and roll and that´s what they hired me for. They hired me to get them into rock and roll. The first group I singed to the label was Humble Pie and the second was Supertramp. They were big groups and I signed Rick Wakeman as well, then I was offered a record that was already a hit. It was number one in Spain and was a recording by Miguel Rios and it was his first number one ever. He had recorded an English version of it, which EMI turned down, saying their promotions people didn´t know whether it was rock, or whether it was rock or whatever and they didn´t know what to do with it. The Spanish label then sent me a copy and I said ´I love it´ and the song was a contemporary working of Beethoven´s Song Of Joy. I told our promotions people to get to work on Top of the Ops and tell them that you have got something totally different. At that time Pink Floyd were in the charts, and I think Mango Jerry with In The Summertime and Elvis Presley was at the top with Now or Never. Nevertheless I saw this as something new, a wonderful balance a mix of rock and classical, being based on Beethoven´s ninth symphony. Our promoters came back to me soon afterwards saying there´s good news, we´ve got Miguel Rios on to Top Of The Pops but the bad news is it has to be this Thursday. I immediately phoned Madrid where Miguel was based and spoke to his manager at his label who was Louis Calvert and told him to get Miguel on a plane from wherever he was, withy whoever he was with, and get him to London. In those days Top of The Pops had seventeen million viewers and I knew we couldn´t miss the opportunity. It was great promotional tool and after the programme I sent a telegram (there was no Facebook, texting, or tweeting then, just telephones and telegrams). The message said DEAR MIGUEL RIOS. I WANT TO THANK YOU FOR MY FIRST HIT IN TWO HUNDRED YEARS. SIGNED, LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN.´
´We blew up a copy of that telegram and had it erected as a background for a press conference at the Washington Hotel in London, where the picture of the cover of the book was taken. In fact, you can see on the photograph the word Beethoven behind him on the poster.´
Larry remembers too that the management of the German division of A & M were even concerned about whether they should release the record over there, as they feared that it might be seen as almost sac religious re-interpret the music of Beethoven, perhaps their greatest ever composer. They became happier, though, when they took the risk and the single went to number one and stayed in the German charts for thirty seven weeks.´
Larry and I then took a couple of Sidetracks and Detours as we remembered other pieces of rock and pop that were touched by the classical movement. Larry led with a reference to Emerson Lake and Palmer recording Pictures From An Exhibition and then when I said I thought I remembered Night Of Fear, the first single by The Move that borrowed a catchy riff from Tchaikovsky. Larry mentioned Ballad From A Teenage Opera by Keith West and I restrained from mentioning John Stewart adding lyrics to Paconbell´s canon, as a song called Louisianne, because it only ever released on a track that sold only a handful of copies, but check it out, folks, it is brilliant.
Larry is firmly of the opinion that the young person shown in his pomp on the book cover is very much the same man as is sitting here on Lanzarote in so-called retirement.
I ask him WHAT kind of life it has been.
´In some ways,´ he says, ´my life has always been the same. It has been a life of putting out records, literally, of course, in my time in the music industry. I always say I was dancing by night to the music I was selling by day. It wasn´t just product for me, it was all about the artists. I liked them and got close to them in an artistic sense.´
´I always made sure I was with them when they were in the studio on the first day of making a record and was always trying to be with them on the first day of a tour, too, to make sure they had all they needed. I never learned anything about their kind of creativity and I never really learned anything about that kind of studio technology, but that was maybe a blessing in disguise. You must always remember that, in the music industry, the higher up you go the farther away you are from the man on the street. I wanted to remain as much as possible with the man on the street.´
It was those people on the streets, I suggested, who, of course, bought the records and made stars out of musicians. The charts reflected public taste.
´Of course,´ agreed Larry. ´I wanted my taste to be their taste, that of the man on the street. I never suggested a bit more bass here, or a trumpet there. That wasn´t my cup of tea.´
Music had been, and very patently still is, a huge part of Larry Yaskiel´s life, so I was wondering about the seemingly quite seismic career change he made when coming to live here on Lanzarote. It begs the question that, although it seems on paper to be such a sea change, were there actually transferable skill sets he could employ to smooth the transition WHEN he made the change?
´I was worn out. Absolutely worn out,´ he recalls. ´My best friends, though, were the artists´ own managements who said to me that usually when they were dealing with labels they would only briefly deal with the person in my equivalent position and then would be introduced to the promotions people. What they liked about working with me, they said, was that, without lording it over my promotions department, I would be hands on and energetic in the early promotional process.´
Larry had explained some of that to me, in a conversation that took place before we switched on the recorder, and somehow for a few minutes we lulled into examples of that.
He recalled Lonny Donegon´s career, naming all his single releases, including Does You Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavour On The Bed Post Over Night, to Michael Row The Boat Ashore and on to My Old Man´s A Dustman. I find this fascinating because although Donegon occasionally caught my eye with one of his novelty pop-song hits or when he appeared bow tied and suited on a Sunday Night At The London Palladium it was only much later in my life that I realised how profound had been his influence, through the skiffle scene, on generations of musicians to come. It would also be through his version of Tom Dooley that I would find my way to the Kingston trio and so begin my life-long love affair with Americana music. One of the favourite tracks in my own cd collection is Donegon´s Gone, recorded by Mark Knopfler after he left Dire Straits. It is a genuinely warm eulogy of Lonnie, in which Knopfler thrillingly displays his own genius and in doing so perfectly recaptures the energy and talents of the man to whom he is paying tribute.
Larry also mentions Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen, which I guess serves as a reminder of how eclectic and all consuming, then, was what we now call the rock scene.
´The emergence of rock, was so natural, though,´ Larry argues. ´It was so natural. It wasn´t forced and maybe that is why there seemed to be such wide diversity. It was something we had never had before in England, but we did help develop rock ´n roll, too, with Johnny Kidd and The Pirates Shaking All Over. Yet I can still remember waiting for the juke box to play Three Steps To Heaven by Eddie Cochran. was so exciting, especially when I was working in The Bar Rumba, which gives my book its title, and it was my finger on the juke box button. There I was surrounded by dirty glasses and stinking ash trays but all I lived for was what was coming out of that jukebox. I just loved it.´
Larry is receptive to all our questions, on any subject, but it is his love of music that constantly illuminates his replies so I feel bound to ask WHERE, both geographically and spiritually, his love of music has taken him throughout his life. I was a little surprised by his initial response, however.
¨Well. My love of music took me to a huge gap at first in some ways. When we first came here we live in small apartment made out of breeze blocks, so when somebody sneezed five doors along, the whole row shouted Bless You ! So you can imagine that it wasn´t easy to listen to the radio, I could never stop listening to music, but it was difficult. I never lost my love for that music, though. I have never lost my love for any music I´ve listened to. My first love, in fact was Italian Opera. I used to listen to Opera and I have a story in the book about how, when I was head of A & M; I had to go to Italy to find a distributor. Having the right distributors was hugely important. One of our contracts had come to an end, and I went to see a new prospective distributor with a couple of colleagues. It was a company called Recordia, but the biggest player over there was RCA Recordia who had 80% of the market. I asked Recordia for their credentials I asked if they had a long history in the business, thinking perhaps a company with twenty or thirty year’s experience would know what they were doing. Imagine my surprise when I learned that had been in existence for 150 years! They had worked with Verdi and Rossini and all the great opera star of that time, and had moved into distribution of rock records too, perhaps fifteen years ago. I saw an opportunity here, and without seeking a bribe in any way, I pointed out that I was going to make a decision between them and one or two other companies, and it might help make up my mind if I could see some of those original manuscripts. They told me they were kept in a building just outside Milan, in some kind of thermatically controlled environment to ensure these precious documents were preserved. I told them my favourite opera was Verdi´s Don Carlos and wondered if there was any chance I could see those original parchments. The people I was talking to had to get permission from their board, but it was arranged and they took me there and I saw a manuscript of the opera with Verdi´s signature on it. I have never forgotten seeing that, as Opera was my first love.´
It speaks much of Larry´s love of music that his response to almost any question begins with a musical anecdote. It really is as if music has provided all the signposts and signals of his life, and so wandering down these Sidetracks and Detours with him is a delight, especially as, from Opera to rock for instance, they meander all across the arts. Who would have ever drawn a line on the arts map from Opera to rock. It seems incredible.
´It is incredible,´ Larry confirms. ´CNN run a series about the world´s top hundred companies, and I watched their programme the other night about a company that began from the origins of some device that conducted sound, and is now called Panasonic. Incredible.
Does this obvious love of music, and its history, and of all things tangential to the industry explain WHY Larry wrote his book?
´Originally I wrote the book because I thought there was a market for it. I wrote it in English five years ago, but I couldn´t get arrested for it. Fortunately, I still have friends in the music business one of whom is Chris Charlesworth formerly head of Melody maker and now head of a company called Music Books. He gave me really honest advice saying that if my name was Mick Jigger the industry would be snapping up the book,…but basically Larry, nobody knows you ! I was advised that I should perhaps ´sex it up a bit. ‘I was reminded that I knew what Jimi Hendrix used to get up to with girls, and if I could talk about that,… but I said no way. Those musicians had been like brothers and sisters to me, and I wouldn´t do that. Publishers told me that is what people expect to read these days, but to me that was absolutely irrelevant to the music and this was to be a book about music. So I put it away until something happened a year and a half ago. At the Lancelot magazine we worked on a project tracing the original Lanzaroteans who were part of the founding of San Antonia, the families of whom are now parts of the Canarias diaspora.
´We made several visit to that part of Texas, at our expense of course, but the Cabildo (government) of Lanzarote and the Ayemeuntia (local council) of Texas expressed interest in our findings they paid for those details by purchasing advertising in our media outlets. Somehow, though, I could never persuade a president to accompany us an on a trip there but last year, the former President, Pedro San Gines and his councillor for Culture Oscar Perez came with us and were blown away by the sense of history and by the hospitality. It was the 300th anniversary of the city, founded sixteen years before the first settlers arrived from Lanzarote. There were people on the streets wearing badges or placards that stated tenth or twelfth generation Lanzarote and Liz and I loved it, and of course got to know several of the important executives from various councils and Canarias governments. When Don Pedro San Gines saw all the Lanzarote flags he realised how important was this historic connection, and he and Oscar began discussing what they could do to help me secure it and protect it. Oscar had worked with me on my first book that had then just been published, (with English and Spanish text between the same covers) about the historic connections between Lanzarote and The UK and he was also aware I had written my English language music biography. He had seen all the photographs on the walls of my house and he suddenly suggested the Cabildo should consider printing a Spanish version of the music book. So, the book came into publication, really, as a thank you from The Cabildo for all we had done to foster relationships with San Antonio for all those years.´
As Liz, his wife, had been mentioned by Larry as being so instrumental in the San Antonio project, I ask how big a part she has played in bringing the Lancelot magazine to fruition and helping bring Larry’s two books into the world.
´Everything,´ he says firmly. ¨She has played a huge, important part in everything. We got together in 1974 and all I could do then, and all I can do now, is write and research. That´s all I can do, and all these years Liz has done everything else. She has managed our contact list, our diaries, our accounts and absolutely everything else to do with everyday management of life and a business. I´m not the greatest diplomat and I don´t have a lot of patience but Liz has got all that. She is always nice with everyone and she never has a problem. Liz and I are always one the same length. I remember that a lot of the artist managements I worked with telling me to go and get my own group. They said I was earning peanuts with the record companies ! They were right in the sense that whether I sold a hundred copies or a million, as I did, I was still on the same salary. So I did. I ´revived´ The Pirates after Johnny Kidd had died, and we almost made it. From day one live shows were selling out and they were quite big with the universities. With records, though, it was very different. The first record was called Out of Their Skulls but it only reached number 25 and then they re-released a version, an incredible version I though, of Shakin´ All Over and that only moved a little bit. These were three members of Johny Kidd´s original group and I remember Roy Carr, of the NME, saying to me what they should have done was recruit a new young singer to take on Johny´s role. No one could have ever replaced Johny Kidd but they could have assumed the position. British teenagers had learned quickly from the American rock n´ roll catalogue. I remember Les Eckersley, who ran Liverpool’s other club, The Iron Door, and had on bands like the Searchers and The Kinks, telling me that when a child is born in Liverpool, he takes milk from his mother´s breast as he´s learning how to play Memphis Tennessee. Nevertheless we toured America with The Pirates but nothing happened, and we had to let it go. I wouldn´t say it broke my heart, but it was incredibly disappointing. And so we came here.´
´We didn´t know what we wanted to do, other than to take step back. I was forty two years old, and was looking for something. Strangely enough I found it in a building just across the road from where we are sitting now. In a place called Palmeros Beach, which was a tourist complex, we had a friend who had the seat of Slavonic Languages at London university and he had a neighbour who spoke German. We got to know her and I could hold a chat with her in German, and one day, quite some time later she knocked on my door, and said she knew I was looking for something to do and she might be able to help. It was true, but I didn´t want to work in a bar or as a property salesman or whatever. She told me, though, of a German language magazine she had just read, about Linarite and had read in it that they were looking for somebody to translate it into English.´
I tell Larry that the coincidence I read into all this is that Lanzarote currently has the same vibrant kind of arts scene that he and I both remember from the sixties in England, with artists from different art forms working together and all that kind of creativity and desire to experiment.
´I´m very much aware of that, too,´ he smiles. In fact, I noticed it the moment we came here, almost. I remember asking, when I started to collate what´s on information for the new English language Lancelot, that for such a small island there was such a plethora of concerts and exhibitions. Somebody told me I should remember always that this is an island with no water, and is therefore an island on which nobody should live, indeed should not be able to live. Therefore the ability of these people to eke out a living, find a way of life and make it sustainable shows their creativity, and that is why there is such a field of creativity on the island. They have had to be inventive and creative.´
I tell Larry that during my last several years in England I had begun to feel that the arts somehow sat less comfortably than they once had alongside the country´s culture, religion and politics, whereas here, the arts seem sensibly employed to complement that sense of family and morality and culture and community pride that already exists.
¨It´s part of the scenery, part of the life over here. Arts are here and whichever party or positives come in the artists are still here, working. We may have councillors with different viewpoints on the arts sometimes, but the arts will never die out. It is too cemented for that to happen.´
Is that because the arts have such a trickle-down effect into the schools over here?
´Seventy five per cent of everything I’ve ever written is in the schools over here,´ Larry confirms. ´The education system took 134 articles from pour magazine, made summaries of the and they are available for reference in The Central Education office, and every Canarian island has one of those to ensure Canarian content remains on the curriculum. It’s called CEP,…C. E. P. Central Educacion Professorial. It happened because somebody came to me and said that he had a whole set of issues of Lancelot and he was going back to live in England and wondered whether I wanted the copies back or whether I could suggest anyone who might want them. I contacted a guy I knew who worked with CEP and he and an English teacher who worked there, chose 134 articles. And it’s an add on, a complement to the curriculum. It’s an extra educational tool, written in English, and there´s a European Commission whereby different schools teaching certain subjects can exchange articles on those subjects through the common language of English, so those articles for the magazine down the years have become quite useful and important.´
It is certainly true that when Dee and I came over here for our first holidays Lanceleot was the first , and for a long time the only, English speaking magazine we found, and it became our best friend over here for a long time. Nowadays, of course, Lancelot exists on a platform alongside Gazette Life Lanzarote, Lanzarote information web site, and the Cooltura web site, too and various English speaking radio broadcasters, and now there is even my own Sidetracks and Detours all across the arts blog. Are we like dinosaurs about to make each other extinct, or is there enough grass for all of us_
´I think we´re all ok,´ Larry says in a relaxed manner. The closest to us at Lancelot would be The Gazette, but it has less cultural content and is perhaps more classified than we are and Lanzarote Information is more visual, and through a different media. Remember England. In London I used to get the Evening Standard and The Evening News, and of course, there were all the daily newspapers, but they all had their own identity, didn´t they?´
I ask this man, picture of serenity that he is, one final time whether the boy on the book cover would recognise the man sitting here now,
He considers for a long time.
´I think so.´… He pauses…´I´ve always been a straight-shooter.¨
Asked at what he is straight-shooting these days, I am somehow not surprised when his answer takes us back to music.
¨Nothing for the moment. I´ve just got my feet up. But I´ve had some very good news. I was interviewed a couple of months ago, by a guy who is writing a biography of Stevie Marriott (The Small Faces, Itchy coo Park et al and Humble Pie) and he said the Humble Pie´s drummer, Jerry Shirley, wrote an autobiography called The Best Seat In The House, and in it he wrote,…´we went to the dogs when Larry Yaskiel left. He was always interested in us from morning till night and the minute he left A & M we went to the dogs.´ I told this writer an anecdote about Stevie Marriatt. Soon after we signed Humble Pie, A & M´s co-owner, Herb Alpert, came over to the UK where he had just enjoyed a hit with This Guy´s In Love, to play at The Royal Command Performance. He came over to me and asked if there was anyone working in the recording studio as he´d like to have a look, to see how we did things. I said sure, and took him up, and there was Steve Marriatt, a very smart guy and I left them to get to know each other. A few days later I phoned Stevie up and asked how it had gone and whether or not he and Herb had got along. He was a great guy, said Stevie. He even dressed like us with holes in his jeans except his holes looked like they had been cut by a tailor and cost a lot more money than ours had!´
And so came to an end one of the most enjoyable interviews (for me) I have ever conducted. Whatever indefinable greatness Larry has that made him a successful adviser and friend to the stars he wears it lightly, and does so still even when he dons the cloak of unofficial Ambassador for Lanzarote. He and Liz are a popular couple and seem to have time for everyone and everything they touch seems to be growing from strength to strength. Long may that continue.
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