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Nitzsche Night – Jones-Blair project

March 27, 2011 by  
Filed under monkees alert

From: “Albert Bigley”

This in from Lee Baber:
Arranger/composer/producer Jack Nitzsche, best known for his work with the
Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Phil Spector and Sonny Bono, died Friday of
cardiac arrest, brought on by a recurring bronchial infection, at Queen of
Angels Hospital in Hollywood, Calif.; he was sixty-three.

Born Bernard Alfred Nitzsche in Chicago in 1937 and raised on a farm
outside of Newaygo, Mich., Nitzsche relocated to California in the
mid-Fifties, after reading an ad in Downbeat magazine for the Westlake
School of Music, in the hopes of studying there to become a jazz
saxophonist. After quitting music school, he landed a job as a music
copyist at Specialty Records. There he met Sonny Bono, then the chief of
A&R at the record label, who encouraged him in his early attempts at
songwriting. Nitzsche co-wrote “Needles and Pins” with Bono in 1962, a hit
for both Jackie DeShannon and the Searchers; the song’s strummed guitar is
considered by many to be the archetype of the folk rock sound.

As Nitzsche’s reputation grew, he was recommended to Phil Spector, who had
moved his recording operations to Los Angeles in 1962. Nitzsche became
Spector’s first-choice arranger, and by extension, one of the architects
behind Spector’s Wall of Sound, working on classic releases by the
Crystals, Ike and Tina Turner, the Ronettes and the Righteous Brothers.

After befriending the Rolling Stones in 1964, Nitzsche started leaving his
touch on their work as well, playing keyboards and percussion on their
early recordings. His collaborations with the Stones include “(I Can’t Get
No) Satisfaction” and “Paint It Black.”

From there, Nitzsche worked with a succession of musicians, including Tim
Buckley, Doris Day, Marianne
Faithfull, the Byrds, the Monkees and Buffalo Springfield. His work with
Buffalo Springfield (“Expecting to
Fly”) and subsequent friendship with Neil Young led to Young recruiting him
as not only a producer but also a
touring member of Crazy Horse, for whom he wrote string arrangements and
played piano.

As for his own recording career, Nitzsche scored a minor hit with the
instrumental “The Lonely Surfer,” which
went to No. 39 on the charts in 1963. He is also noted for his motion
picture work, including the scores and
eerie mood pieces of Performance in 1970 and The Exorcist in 1973.

He was nominated for an Oscar in 1975 for his glass harp/musical saw score
for One Flew Over the
Cuckoo’s Nest, and won an Oscar in 1982 for “Up Where We Belong,” the theme
from An Officer and a
Gentleman (which he co-wrote with lyricist Will Jennings and ex-wife Buffy

Though Nitzsche had a stellar reputation as an arranger and composer, his
private life was a bit more spotty.
He was arrested for pistol-whipping then-girlfriend actress Carrie
Snodgress and threatening to kill her and
Young’s son in 1979. He was consequently fined and sentenced to three years
probation for assault with a
deadly weapon.

Nitzsche is survived by ex-wife Sainte-Marie, first wife Gracia, their
forty-year-old son Jack Jr. and his
daughter-in-law Christine. A private funeral service will be held in
California on Wednesday, Aug. 30, with a
larger memorial service to be planned at a later date.


35 years ago: An ad in Variety announced auditions for the Monkees, a rock
quartet that starred in a youth-oriented TV comedy series. The show ran for
two years. The Monkees simultaneously had a successful record career.


From: C. Brian Jasper

Hi Brad. C.Brian Jasper here. The following is a review of the new Johnny J
Blair CD “Fire” in which Davy Jones Co-produced as well as sang and played on.

Fire. Johnny J Blair. C-JAM Productions CJAM-7770

By: C. Brian Jasper (Goldmine contributor)

Johnny J Blair is an artist whose work has garnered praise from rock
legends Cliff Richard to Beach Boys mastermind Brian Wilson. This
album is an offshoot of the Jones-Blair projects (Jones as in Davy
Jones of the Monkees). An ambitious, daring, across-the-boards
collaborative effort, “Fire” takes the listener on a journey via a
cast of diverse characters creating pop music with a conscience.
It’s a melting pot of textures and rhythms:
Rock/House/Techno/Gospel/Jazz and American roots music, resulting in
a “pure pop” sound. Blair’s influences-both past and present-are not
merely imitated, as so often happens with hybrid sounds, but rather
furthered and embellished.

The set kicks into gear with “Dancin’ By The River,” a baptismal
anthem laden with chunky guitar chords and backed with a slinky
Latin rhythm. This track, reminiscent of Santana, has CHR appeal and
easily merits air play. The spirit of Sly & and the Family Stone is
omnipresent on “Fire,” updated to good effect with a cover of
“Everyday People.” The song is transformed into a medley, an
interweaving of Blair’s own contributions-including a gentle, sweet
rap from Monette Newsuan, drum loops & cheerleading from Jab’O
Starks (James Brown’s Funkmasters), and a visit from Motown
percussion great “Pistol’ Allen-all of which makes for a loose,
uncontrived, exciting track. “Fire” is sequenced to run as one
continuous experience, with an Alan Parsons seamlessness. The
instrumental title track, “Fire,” preludes “All Things Are Possible”
with a sense of majesty and reflection, with help from Tim Breon
(Neil Sedaka) on acoustic guitar. The influence of the mid 70’s
Bowie “Thin White Duke” period gives this hypnotic, upbeat track a
retro yet fresh appeal.

“One Wonderful Smile” follows, in contrast, like a gentle, warm
breeze, yet is hauntingly beautiful, in the vein of John Lennon’s
“Bless You”. Blair’s voice is sensitive and understated, vocally
akin to Julian Lennon with a Keith Richards rasp, and much like that
of Nils Lofgren (another performer of pop music with a conscience).
Blair never oversings, as so many young artists tend to do these
days. Likewise during the infectious hook of “Love, Love Alone.”

Monkee fans and completists will recognize the instrumental “A
Little Industrial Nachmusik” as a variation on the Davy Jones song
“Oh What A Night”; in fact, Jones himself plays acoustic guitar on
the track, augmented by grungecore veteran John Bechdel (Prong, Fear
Factory, Killing Joke) on various instruments and treatments, which
sets the stage for “Lighten Up” (a funky little ode to life’s
frustrations in the face of a society that demands its fellow man to
“smile” and not get so “real” on them). The track is propelled by a
percussive modern reggae groove, and features a tasteful rap segment from
Adrienne Blanton.

Nine cuts into the CD, it’s time to go “Dancin’ By The River” again.
This time the fun is provided via members of Neon Cactus, with a
Tex-Mex mix. Behind a thunderous rhythm track featuring noted
drummer Sandy Gennaro (Cyndi Lauper), there is also hit potential
with “Throw the First Stone,” which wades into the delicate subject
matter of the holier-than-thou Christian loops and finger pointers
that turn so many people off. Blair tells it like it is-by
speculation, not preachiness. This would make a great song for John
Mellencamp to cover.

The drifting closer “Man Of Sorrows” sways like a late-night Randy
Newman number, a variation on themes from Gershwin to Ellington,
coupled with lyrics from hymn writer Philip Bliss, creating a
uniquely peaceful piece of praise to end the set.

Blair seems to have a genuine awe at his own fate in producing
“Fire,” evident in the tack-on answering machine announcements coda
during the last thirty seconds of the CD, in which a message from
pop music legend Davy Jones comes in side-by-side with, “Hi! This is
Sabrina I was just calling to see if Jade could play!” This adds a
human final touch to an album made for all people, and assembled by
God, as Blair selflessly claims in the liner notes.

To hear samples of this work, follow this link:

To purchase Monkees CD’s, Videos and Collectable rare items, visit

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