Here’s an excerpt from my memoir, NEVER SAY NO TO A ROCK STAR: IN THE STUDIO WITH DYLAN, JAGGER, SINATRA AND MORE, available now! It’s 1974, NYC. The coolest glam band in the world, The New York Dolls, are cutting their second album, Too Much, Too Soon, and I’m assistant engineer on the session. Read about their outfits, volume, chaos, and debauchery as they work on “Stranded in the Jungle” with producer Shadow Morton and engineer Dixon Van Winkle. Guest appearance by the Harlots of 42nd Street.
I’m hanging between sessions with Lana, the receptionist, at the front desk of one of the greatest recording studios in the world, A & R, in New York City. In walks a guy about seven feet tall. He’s got hair in that poof-spikey 1974 rock ‘n roll post-Keith Richards mullet-esque style, but it’s blondish and longer and more outrageous than anyone ever. He’s a giant because the soles of his boots must be nine inches high. He’s got a minor gut, but this doesn’t stop him from wearing a skin-tight shirt with the occasional loose sequin, and skin-tight shiny satin gray pants. His scruffy, black platform boots go up to right below the knee.
Like a freaky Frankenstein, he lumbers up to the reception desk, and says, thickly, “Hey.”
Lana says, “Hey. Killer, what’s up?”
In unmistakable New Yawkese, he says, “Yeah. I’m heah fawda session.”
In a history of legendary chicks at the front desk, Lana was one of the best. Some people, they just had the natural cool for the gig. Unflappable, with a perpetual wry smile, she tossed her straight-black hippie hair back, and snuck a raised-eyebrow glance at me.
“Arthur Killer Kane, bass player for the New York Dolls, meet Glenn Berger. Glenn’s going to be assisting on tonight’s session.”
I look at the clock. It’s four in the afternoon, and the session is booked at seven. That meant they probably won’t start till ten.
I reach out a hand. He shakes it limply, and mumbles, “Yeah man, hey.”
Less than two years before, on my seventeenth birthday, October 12, 1972, I went to see The Dolls at the Mercer Arts Center, in the old University Hotel on Broadway between West Third and Bleecker in the Village. The building collapsed to the ground soon after. The Dolls were the band to see in NYC at that time. They were a bridge between glitter, glam, and punk. They were trailblazers, one-of-a-kind, harbingers of the Max’s and CBGB scene to come. They dressed in trashy drag, played ridiculously loud, and blasted onto the scene with the first track on their first record, “Personality Crisis.” This was a free show on a Thursday night, their last at the Mercer Arts before going on tour in England.
After the show, my girlfriend, Betty, who had hair as crazy as mine, gave me the ultimate birthday present. It was a good night.
So I’m looking at Killer Kane, putting it all together with the first time I got laid.
Lana, with a perfect combo of sardonic and compassion in her voice, says, “Killer. The session won’t be starting for a long time.”
He stares at us blankly with his mouth open, looking like he is about to drool. A paramecium had to have a better functioning brain than this dude. He scrunches up his nose, and is silent for a minute. Then says, “Ya gotta TV?”
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