Johny Barbata (Jefferson Starship/CSN&Y) 2011 May 31, 2011 17:08:04 GMT -6
Post by classic rock revival on May 31, 2011 17:08:04 GMT -6
CLASSIC ROCK REVIVAL INTERVIEW
Here's an interview I did with legendary drummer, Johny Barbata in 2011. His resume in rock and roll is mind-boggeling. Not only was Johny the original drummer for The Turtles, he was also the drummer for Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship, Paul Kantner & Grace Slick (solo projects), Crosby,Stills,Nash,& Young, and various C,S,N,& Y solo projects as well. How AWESOME is that?
Jim: Tell us a bit about your book, "The Legendary Life of a Rock Star Drummer." I would imagine it's been selling pretty well.
Johny: My wife Angie said, I should write a book because I am part of Rock and roll history. I have stories in my book about meeting the Beatles, Elvis, the Albert Einstein story, where he had ran out of gas on a lake and we towed him back and I sat on his lap and it was my first brush with fame when I was 3 years old. Also, there are stories of me living with Neil Young when he left L.A and moved to Northern California and I lived with him for 4 weeks, I also have stories about jamming with Eric Clapton.
On a Interesting note, David Geffen called me into his office and asked me to be the drummer for the Eagles and I replied, “I am in the biggest group in the world and I am getting ready to do Neil Young’s solo album "Time Fades Away," and the Eagles were a unknown group.” David leaned forward and said, John they are going to big and they want you! Anyway, also I have been on over 20 hit singles and 100 albums with such artist as Linda Ronstadt, the Everly Brothers, Dave Mason, Johnny Rivers, Booker T. Jones and John Sebastian to name a few. People have said that it is a good read and there are a lot of interesting stories. You can only purchase my book from my website www.johnybarbata.com or from a book signing.
Jim: Is your book getting support from your former bandmates?
Jim: Let's talk a bit about the Turtles. Joel Larson replaced original drummer Don Murray and you replaced Larson in 1967, is that correct? How did all that come about?
Johny: Incorrect, Joel Larson recommended me to the Turtles because he couldn’t do it because he was in the Grass Roots and I joined the Turtles in 1966.
Jim: Is it true the Turtles were performing "Happy Together," in their live shows several months before the song was actually recorded?
Jim: "Happy Together," knocked the Beatles "Penny Lane," off the #1 spot on Billboard in the spring of 1967. You guys must have really been on a high at that time. Can you tell us a bit about that period with the Turtles?
Johny: Every time I turned the radio on it would be playing on three different stations at one time. When I met Paul McCartney he remembered that "Happy Together," kicked "Penny Lane," out of the #1 spot. The Turtles were very successful, they got to be on The Ed Sullivan Show, The Smothers Brothers, Hollywood Palace, Craft Music Hall and had string of 7 hits which I played on including," She’d Rather be With Me,"" Do You Know What I Mean,"" She’s my Girl,"" You Showed Me," and "Elenore," which I co- wrote. When you saw the Turtles they were a great show group as Mark Volman was always spinning and catching his tambourine and I was spinning my sticks and always did a drum solo, which I always got a standing ovation for. All in all I had a great time with the Turtles 4 years and 7 hit singles.
Jim: Was the problems the Turtles were having with their record label (White Whale Records), a factor in their 1970 demise?
Johny: I wouldn’t know because I quit in 1969 and the Turtles never had another hit.
Jim: How did you come to replace Dallas Taylor in Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young?
Johny: Neil Young did not like Dallas Taylor, he said, “either he goes or I go”. I was at their road managers house in Santa Cruz when Neil Young and David Crosby came walking in and they were discussing needing a drummer. I was suggesting that they get Dewie Martin (Buffalo Springfield) or Jim Keltner, they didn’t want Dewie because he wasn’t good enough and they didn’t want Keltner because everybody was using him, that’s when the road manager said, “Why don’t you do the gig?” So, I ended up playing on eight albums with them which was "4 way Street," 2 Graham Nash Albums, "Songs for Beginners," and "Wild tales." I also played on Stephen Still’s "White Album," Crosby/Nash albums, Neil Young’s "Time Fades Away," and 2 Greatest Hits Albums, totaling 8 albums. It was a great ride and there are many stories in my book about Crosby,Stills,Nash,& Young collectively and individually.
Jim: On the "4 Way Street" album, when David Crosby introduced you as..."The Drummer Who Plays His Ass Off," how good did that make you feel?
Johny: It made me feel GREAT! It was a million dollar plug! And the phone started ringing off the hook for studio work.
Jim: I really like Neil Young's "Time Fades Away." Can you tell us a bit more about that period of your career?
Johny: "On Time Fades Away,"…here is what happened. Neil called me up, while he was on his "Heart of Gold tour," and said that the number one Nashville drummer Kenny Butrey, wasn’t making it and would I come out and play for him tomorrow in Baton Rouge. That’s how Neil was. When he wanted it, he wanted it right now. So anyway, I was off and running. I ended up having a 20 minute rehearsal and had to play a 1 hour 45 minute electric set. To everybody’s amazement I didn’t make any mistakes and Neil and the roadies couldn’t believe it! So we recorded the live album "Time Fades Away," on that tour.
Jim: David Crosby got you the gig with Jefferson Airplane, right?
Jim: Did you play on all the tracks on the "Long John Silver," album or was Joey Covington featured on some of them?
Johny: I played on all of them.
Jim: The critics didn't care much for "Long John Silver." It wasn't one of the Airplane's best efforts, but I thought it had it's moments. What's your opinion of that album?
Johny: I thought it was one of their better albums.
Jim: Had the Airplane officially split up by the time the live album "30 Seconds Over Winterland," was released?
Johny: I would say yes, I think so.
Jim: Another album the critics didn't care for was Kantner, Slick, & Freiberg's, "Baron Von Tollbooth & The Chrome Nun." I liked this album. I think if it had been released as a Jefferson Airplane album it would have sold much better. What do you think?
Johny: I thought it was just ok. There were no hits on the album.
Jim: In 1974 Jefferson Airplane was re-christened Jefferson Starship and released (in my opinion) their best album of all time..."Dragonfly." Man, I love this album and even the critics were kinder in their reviews. What's your opinion of "Dragonfly?"
Johny: Great album! 2 new members replaced Jack and Jorma and I brought in Graham Nash’s engineer Larry Cox and that made all the difference.
Jim: Three more albums followed, "Red Octopus," which went to #1 in 1975, "Spitfire," 1976, and "Earth," 1977, and that's the last we heard of Jefferson Starship until they resurfaced in 1980 with their "Freedom At Point Zero," album. But, you were no longer with the band. What happened after the "Earth," album?
Johny: I was in a car wreck and Marty Balin and I were replaced by Mickey Thomas and Ansley Dunbar.
Jim: Looking back on your career, being a member of the supergroups you were a part of, which one stands out as being the highlight of your career?
Johny: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, I have many stories in my book all about my time with this Supergroup.
Johny Barbata Rock Star Drummer Visits Oklahoma City
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