Correcting the NY Times on Michael Ochs and James Kriegsmann

From a NYT feature on photo archivist Michael Ochs, the following passage demands correction.

Many of his most important images came courtesy of James Kriegsmann, the longtime industry photographer who shot Frank Sinatra, Kate Smith, Buddy Holly and hundreds of early stars. Mr. Ochs paid about $50,000 for the entire collection in 1988 when Mr. Kriegsmann was in his 80’s and struggling. After signing the contract, Mr. Kriegsmann had a few words for the quirky enthusiast who reveled in the find, and was already itching to release the wealth of history to fellow rock fans.

"I want to tell you three things, Michael," Mr. Kriegsmann said.
"What’s that?" Mr. Ochs asked.
"No. 1, you stole the collection."
"I know, James."
"No. 2, I want to thank you, because I needed the money."
"I know, James."
"And No. 3, if it wasn’t for you, I would’ve thrown all this stuff away."
Mr. Ochs looked at him and smiled.
"I know that too," he said.

Either Mr. Kriegsman wasn’t entirely honest with Mr. Ochs, or Mr. Ochs isn’t truly interested in acquiring every piece of pop imagery ever captured on film. How else to explain the astonishing trove of late Kriegsmann material rescued from a Venice alley by a friend of Jennifer Sharpe’s, and lovingly scanned and shared through her Sharpeworld site? Sure, a lot of the stuff in Jennifer’s stash documents a world of entertainment removed from the usual Michael Ochs Archives themes, but there are plenty of oddball musical portaits in there. Did Kriegsmann hide these late images out of shame or misplaced judgement? Or could Ochs see into the future and anticipate no call for an 8 x 10 of Nbuda Funkshun? Tell that to the tens of thousands of people who have gleefully clicked through the Jennifer Sharpe-preserved Kriegsmann Files on flickr!


Anyhoo, it’s a mystery. But the Venice alley stash was not the whole of the missing Kriegsmann archives. As a matter o’ fact, I own a Kriegsmann 8×10 myself, of a magician and his foxy go-go booted assistant, and even used it as a Scram centerfold. Found it in a junk shop on Abbot Kinney a few years back, in a small pile of similar pics.

Could Michael Ochs, longtime Venice resident, have put the "dregs" of the Kriegsmann files out for the garbage man to collect, only scavengers happily got to it first?

Record Review: Roger Rodier “Upon Velveatur” CD (Sunbeam)

Medium Image Rodier was a Montréal-based, Anglophone singer-songwriter whose twee yet slightly sinister style pulls the listener down into a rabbit hole of unexpected pop arrangements, into one of the most bipolar albums every made. This fragmented format is definitely not for everyone, but both styles are so well realized that it’s well worth the risk. Starting off hushed and whispery, the 1972 LP soon turns tough and anxious with the choir-backed anthem of betrayal “Am I Supposed to Let It By Again?” before slipping back into seductive intimacy in adoration of (shades of Jeff Mangum) Jesus Christ, and the heavy guitars and anguished, giddy shrieks of “While My Castle’s Burning.” Five strong bonus tracks flesh out Rodier’s versatility, which includes bubblegummy sunshine pop and sweetly spooky pop tunes in French. A very striking rediscovery, really excellent stuff.

Shangri-La Mary Weiss is back and still sassy

Over on the Norton Records site (but without a direct link) is a great interview with their latest signing, Mary Weiss, the exquisitely cool lead vocalist of the Shangri-Las. She’ll be backed by the Reigning Sound on her first solo disk, coming soon.

For now, enjoy her unfiltered ruminations on matters pop, hair, fashion and cool.

MW: I did purchase a gun once, a little Derringer. I bought a gun after somebody tried to break into my hotel room. There were these glass panels on the side of the door and all of a sudden I see this arm coming through. Not only was I scared to death, but there were large amounts of money in the room. You’re on the road with no protection. But, I was a little kid. I didn’t know. Back then, you could walk in anywhere and buy a gun. But the FBI came to my mother’s house and said, "Will you please tell your daughter she’ll be arrested if she gets off the plane with her gun?" We just finished a tour in Florida and I turned it in at the police station down there.


Sub-publishing for bands and labels

Lost in the Grooves now offers full-service sub-publishing

Bands/labels – are you missing out on overseas (or domestic) royalties? If you can answer yes to the following questions, we may be able to help you. We have skilled sub-publishers in every part of the world who are very experienced in claiming lost monies owed for live performances (also called Neighboring Rights), record sales and any licensing done outside the US.

If these facts are true for you, please drop a line to Kim c/o this site to find out what we can do for you and/or your artists

1) Does the band/label have no other publishing deal?

2) Has (or will) the band / label release or distribute CD/LPs in any part of the world?

3) Has the band played shows in Europe or Japan?

4) Has the band/label had a song in a major motion picture or TV series released overseas?

5) Has the above happened within the past five years?

6) Can you provide writer/publisher information and (for tours), dates and venues?

If so, we can collect overseas royalties and account semi-annually. We can also collect for the US/Canada on request. The fee is a flat 25% for all foreign collections, 20% in the USA, and your first royalty payments will usually be received within nine months to one year of registration.

Grant McLennan R.I.P.

So shocked to hear that songwriter Grant McLennan died in his sleep yesterday. The loss of a great artist and gentleman is always sad, but when it’s an artist whose creative life was so thoroughly meshed with another’s, it’s doubly tragic.

In memory of Grant, I’ve posted the Go-Betweens interview from Scram #14 (2000) on the Scram website.

Our thoughts are with Robert, Adele, Glenn and Grant’s family. 

New issue of Scram hot off the presses

It is a banner day: I just got back from picking up Scram 22 from the printer, and I’m dizzy with ink fumes.

The new issue of the journal of unpopular culture includes a feature comprised of the interviews that informed the Ruston section of my 33 1/3 book about Neutral Millk Hotel. Robert Schneider, Laura Carter, Julian Koster and Scott Spillane all speak at greater length than they did in the book about E6 pre-Athens, and Robert shares some live photos from 1996 that I think have not been published previously.

Also in this issue: nature-loving folkie Vashti Bunyan, gay glam-punk Paul "Baby Bones" Vanase, private librarian and African literary scholar Kurt Thometz, Chicago bluesman Nick Gravenites and session piano cat Lincoln Mayorga, plus scads of reviews.

If interested in this or other Scrams, please visit for more info


GQ discovers the Sex Clark 5

GQ has asked various notables to recommend their favorite Unsung Musical Heroes. New Pornographers’ leaders A.C. Newman selected Lost in the Grooves own Sex Clark 5, and a clip of their earwormy "Faith" is on the GQ website.

To learn more about this magical Alabama pop outfit, hear samples or buy some music, please click here