Tales of... by Josh Alan Friedman
Summary: TALES OF. . . MY DEAD HEROES is the second season of podcasts from Josh Alan Friedman. But DEAD is a politically incorrect term. Their songs and books and records resonate everywhere, and if you haven’t heard their actual voices, pull up a chair and listen. Novelist Mario Puzo, songwriters Jerry Leiber (Leiber & Stoller) and Doc Pomus, Broadway composer Cy Coleman, original Thunderbirds bassist Keith Ferguson, Atlantic Records producer Joel Dorn, Tiny Tim. . . . And check out TALES OF TIMES SQUARE: THE TAPES. This 17-episodes series captures the voices of Lost New York. Old fighters, strippers, burly-Q men, peep show girls, cops and the priest who tried to save them. Come bend your ear. www.blackcracker.fm
My father hired Mario Puzo as associate editor at Magazine Management at 655 Madison Avenue in 1960. While working there, Puzo would write his great novel about Hell’s Kitchen, The Fortunate Pilgrim. And then at age 49, break out with the most successful novel in history—The Godfather.
Joel Dorn was one of the last record producers standing from the old music biz. When the new industry pushed him out in the 1980s, he bounced back with the creation of CD box sets. “Don’t give me that ‘Hey, baby’ sh*t,” he said. “I invented it.”
A FOUL AND BITTER INTERVIEW WITH LOU REED - Ugly People Got No Reason To Live - As a new, 22-year-old writer for The SoHo News in 1978, I was sent out to interview Lou Reed. He gave the nastiest interview of his life. Then demanded it be printed verbatim.
The Lullaby of Tiny Tim - A DIVINE MADMAN - Tiny Tim lived in his own bubble with angelic girls dancing in the clouds, while 1920’s Broadway lullabies played on harps. He became the biggest fad of 1968. But his lifelong dedication to early 20th century music was without equal.
The 19th century life model for anti-Semitic caricatures was quite a guy. Except I made him up. And he now joins the cast of this season’s Dead Heroes. Episode Playlist The Worst, Bela’s Funeral Dirge heard in this episode.
Ferguson avoids the Vietnam draft, plays Houston lesbian clubs with young Johnny Winter, and joins the Thunderbirds. Like an old wolf, Keith paces his communal porch in Austin. It was his last refuge.
In a town known for its fallen musical heroes, Fabulous Thunderbirds bassist Keith Ferguson was a tour de force. He submerged into semi-retirement on his rustic estate, a hangout for wounded animals, reptiles and old pachuchos. The music biz turned ugly, but Austin’s beautiful losers—as well as the heroin—remained pure. And Keith was Numero Uno.
Writing songs with Jerry was, for me, like having a catch with Willie Mays or Joe DiMaggio—when they were old. But his genius was never far away. Cloistered in his exquisite home in Venice Beach, the awards for Leiber & Stoller’s achievments came in by the week. But only Mike Stoller showed up to receive them.
We worked on a book in which he would tell off the world, to be called Kiss My Big Black Ass. It remained unfinished. But Jerry Leiber blew my mind. And he was one bitch of a chef.
When Josh auditioned for Beatlemania in 1977, he was just one hopeful in the callbacks for George. Thousands of Beatle manqués descended from the hinterlands to audition for the Broadway show. There were only four parts, but no shortage of broken dreams.
Josh's dead heroes. Interviews, memories and short stories. First up, A 20-year-old Josh auditions for Beatlemania in 1977. Coming September 15.
Old Times Square was at the brink of extinction and my job was done. The finale of this series.
Irv Charnoff and Jess Mack were the last remaining vaudeville/burlesque booking agents in 1984. They mourned the decline of wholesome American show-biz, as it devolved into pornography.
Al Kronish, one of the Melody Burlesk’s owners, was the first CPA to do tax returns for porn stars. Under constant legal harassment from the city, he kept Times Square’s last bastion of old burlesque open and spread-eagled.
No sooner than the neighborhood rid itself of filth, pimps and whores came dancing back into the hearts of Broadway. Composer Cy Coleman and writer David Newman discuss their hit musical in 1997.