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Pop Matters review of Vinyl Highway


Dee Dee Phelps, one half of sixties pop duo Dick and Dee Dee, just put out this memoir, Vinyl Highway, and it’s a lot of fun, especially if you’re interested in those oddball post-Army Elvis/pre-Beatles years. (And the cover is pretty impossible to resist.) You can read my Pop Matters review of it here. Phelps got the book going through a series of writing workshops and I’m glad she did.

Here’s a little cross referencing fun I don’t include in my review: On pages 267-272, the chapter called “Band Attack,” she reports on an incident at the happening LA folk rock club The Trip in which loose cannon Dick St. John explodes at the hipster back up band just before going on stage with them, for not appearing to treat him with proper respect. The performance is awful – Dick and Dee Dee are singing off key and Dee Dee sees the guitarists snickering out of the corner of her eye. She realizes the group has probably retaliated by tuning up a half step, while Dick, after the set, blames it all on her.

Jump over to Love drummer Michael Stuart-Ware’s 2003 memoir Behind the Scenes on the Pegasus Carousel, on pages 24-25. He’s talking about a gig at the Cinnamon Cinder, where he’d been playing regularly with the Sons of Adam (featuring guitarist Randy Holden). Dick and Dee Dee arrive just before the gig, tension’s in the air, and all throughout the disastrous set, Dick says things to the audience like “Jeez, this band is crappy, isn’t it?” and how big stars like him sometimes have to put up with crap like that.

The back story to this gig, according to Stuart-Ware, was that Dick had previously attempted to groom the Sons of Adam in his image, recording some demos and adding his own unique voice into the mix. He was furious when they finally begged off, so when Dick and the band were unexpectedly reunited by a promoter, Dick got his revenge, Stuart-Ware implies, by berating the band on stage and trying to make them look like inexperienced schlubs. Dee Dee mentions in her book that Dick (strictly a business partner) was always up to music biz stuff she didn’t know about, so maybe this was yet another example of that. Was it the same gig? Although each of their anecdotes take place at different venues, my hunch still leans towards yes.

[Update: Thanks to Dee Dee for setting my idle speculation to rest (see comments) – sounds like these were different gigs altogether – and for giving us a heads up on Dick Peterson’s Kingsmen memoir, Louie Louie, which has another account of St. John’s adventures.]

One Response to “Pop Matters review of Vinyl Highway

  1. Kim Says:

    All comments for this post were regrettably lost in the disaster of 12/08, including Dee Dee Phelps’s own wonderful response. Sigh.

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