BootLeg Betty

Another Rocker Who Wanted To Write for Midler

Bette has always expressed how she wanted to be a rocker. For some reason I felt like she never believed that she could do it or that people could think of her in that light. But as some of the articles I’ve presented show…yes, people thought the had it in her…Pete Townshend, The Talking Heads, The Rolling Stones, and now a bona-fide rock guitar wiz. This was from an article in Rolling Stone mag from 1982. I’ve been trying to find it for quite awhile…and oila…here it is. Unfortunately, these 2 never worked together. It would have been quite bizarre, I’m sure…. :

Rollingstones article from 1982

Adrian Belew: rock’s most valuable player

by Parke Puterbaugh

New York City

If rock music had such a thing as a Most Valuable Player award, it would have to go to Adrian Belew. In the past five years, the thirty-two-year-old guitarist has figured prominently in the music of David Bowie, Frank Zappa, Talking Heads and King Crimson, demonstrating a chameleonlike adaptability by learning extremely difficult repertoires at a moment’s notice. At the same time, he’s emerged with a distinct style of his own, evident on his just-released solo debut album, Lone Rhino. Now that he has finished work on the resurrected King Crimson’s second LP, Beat, Belew can look forward to a good spell of roadwork And he’d also like to tour with his own band, Ga-Ga,, but not before he records a second solo album, which is already being planned.

The question is, how does he find enough hours in the day to juggle all these projects? “I guess I’m a workaholic,” he says with a laugh. “It’s really a matter of focusing your energy on whatever it is you’re doing at the moment, and then letting go of it when you move on to the next thing”.

By appearances, Belew is hardly the type you’d expect to find huddling with some of rock’s artier performers. With his easy Midwestern drawl and back-porch demeanor, Belew, who grew up on Ohio and Kentucky, is the picture of prairie amiability. “I’m a Midwest guy,” he says, “I have Midwestern values -ooh, cringe.” But beneath the tame exterior lurks a creative mind that’s forever finding new ways to make a guitar sound unlike a guitar.

For example, on “Elephant Talk,” perhaps the best-known cut from King Crimson’s Discipline LP, Belew ran his guitar through an Electro Harmonix flanger and a fuzz tone and – voila! – out came the sound of a charging pachyderm. On his own record, Belew, a wildlife enthusiast, coaxed a full-blown jungle menagerie from his instrument, some of which prowls through such cuts as “Big Electric Cat” and “Lone Rhino”.

“The rhino effect is pretty hard to do, ” Belew explains like a cheerful Mr. Wizard. “It involves a flanger, and echo unit, a fuzz tone, compression and ambient miking, together with my overhand style of slide playing. I turn the slide to an oblique angle, hit the strings with the volume off, then force the volume on so what comes out is a kind of dissonant rumble. The flanger gives it that breathy effect.”

Lone Rhino was recorded in the Bahamas late last summer with Belew’s band, Ga-Ga, which is made up of musicians from his adopted hometown of Springfield, Illinois. The LP is a showcase for Belew’s multiple talents as a songwriter, producer, arranger, drummer, guitarist and singer. Again, one marvels at how easily he maneuvers from being a foil and catalyst for the likes of David Bowie and Robert Fripp to fronting his own group. “Actually, I started out doing my own stuff, ” he says. “Everything that’s happened in between has been accidental that Frank Zappa walked into the bar where I was playing in Nashville back in 1976, and the next thing I knew, I was in his band. But you have to be ready to handle those things.”

Indeed, Belew has vaulted from one project to the next without missing a beat. While on tour with Zappa in Germany, he met David Bowie, who solicited Belew’s services for his next tour. One week of rehearsals between tours followed, and Belew was off again, virtually retracing his steps around the United States, Canada, and Europe. From the Zappa tour came the Sheik Yerbouti album; the Bowie dates yielded the live compendium Stage.

After recording Lodger with Bowie, Belew returned to Springfield, where he formed Ga-Ga. The band began playing live shows opening for Fripp’s League of Gentlemen on a few occasions. While in New York, Belew hooked up with Talking Heads, who were then touring behind Fear of Music. He contributed to Remain in Light, their fourth LP, and signed on for their 1980-1981 tour, when they expanded to nine members for a full-fledged punk-funk assault.

Next up was the Tom Tom Club, the enormously popular extracurricular dance-beat project dreamed up by the Heads’ rhythm section, Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth. While recording with them in the Bahamas, Belew met Island Records president Chris Blackwell, who asked him if he’d like to make an album on his own. “I said yes and began making plas for that,” says Belew. “At the same time, Robert Fripp was calling me, saying, “Let’s form a band’.” Somehow, Belew managed to sandwich in session work with Garland Jeffreys, Herbie Hancock and Robert Palmer. And then, it was off to England to join King Crimson.

It’s enough to make the head spin, but Belew appears to thrive on the momentum. And he doesn’t intend to let the pace slow down, either. He grows animated when asked if there are any new collaborations he’d like to undertake. “Any of the Beatles!” he enthuses. “Paul McCartney – I always thought he was a great melodic musician, but that he needed someone to take out some of the sweetness and add an off-the-wall edge to what he’s doing, which, in effect, is what John Lennon did. I’d like to work with Laurie Anderson – I think she’s great. Oddly enough, I’d love to write a couple of really good, straightforward songs for Bette Midler. Mostly, though, I’m playing with the people I want to be playing with.”

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