By Jerry Honigman
Warner Brothers Records had a recording studio in the San Fernando Valley called Amigo. One night in 1979, during the recording of my band’s (the Romeos) debut album on Columbia Records, “Rock and Roll and Love and Death”, our producers (Toto’s David Paich and engineer Tom Knox) booked us into Amigo for an overdubbing session.
The studio had a basketball goal in the main recording room as well as a television on one of those rolling metal contraptions which also housed a video cassette player (VCR, remember, 1979) which had a copy of “Deep Throat” in it. This was the first “crossover” porn film – one which had garnered a lot of attention in the popular press and was reaching a wider audience than the standard output of that genre. The video was playing with the volume off while we did our recording. Our guitarists, Bootsie Norman and Dan Diefenderfer (“Dief”), would join me in shooting baskets in between takes.
The lounge area outside the control room was the main entry point of the studio, with a security camera mounted outside the door to the parking lot which fed to a monitor in the booth. At one point, Dief was in the lounge pulling on a bottle of Chivas Regal scotch when the buzzer to the studio sounded. I looked up at the screen and saw that, outside the door awaiting entry stood Jackson Browne, Graham Nash, and John Hall. Most of you are very familiar with the fist two, and you probably remember Hall’s band, Orleans, which had hits with “Still the One” and “Dance With Me.” I had a copy of an album by his first band, Kangaroo, when I was in high school. Hall went into politics in New York, first as a county legislator, then on the New York Board of Education, and then as a U.S. Representative for New York’s 19th Congressional District.
When Dief threw open the door to find three dudes he didn’t know at first, he proclaimed, “Hey guys. You ain’t got a hair on your ass if you don’t take a pull off this Chivas!” At which point he turned the bottle up for a giant gulp, and before thrusting it into Jackson’s chest, stated, “I’m Dief!” Without hesitation, Browne grabbed the bottle and turned it up for his own giant gulp before shoving it back at Dief, and saying, “I’m Jackson Browne!” Dief, suddenly humble with recognition, graciously stepped aside with a welcoming sweep of his arm and said, “Oh, hey. Come on in fellas.”
The three then made their way through the main room to a mixing room in back. Paich grabbed me and took me into the booth with these guys who were there to mix some of the tapes recorded at the “No Nukes” concert. That event, put on by MUSE (Musicians United for Safe Energy), consisted of three nights of shows at Madison Square Garden, and had been organized by Hall, Nash, and Browne, along with Bonnie Raitt.
It was my pleasure to be there as they put up and mixed the live version of “Mockingbird” by Carly Simon and James Taylor. The subsequent three-disc set and concert film were later released to document the event. I was gob smacked to be sitting next to Graham Nash, who I had been a fan of since the Hollies, and who, as a member of CSN&Y, was just about as big a star you could find in the music world at that time (I would meet Stills a few weeks later at a Christmas party at Record Plant owner Chris Stone’s house. We recorded a lot of our record there, and Stills was recording there as well). And of course, as a songwriter, I was a fan of Jackson’s since college.
Bonnie wasn’t there that night, and I wouldn’t meet her until a few years later when a couple of New Orleans cats, Leo Nocentelli and Ivan Neville were in her band, and we would often meet at songwriter Steve Stewart’s house on Woodrow Wilson Drive (where literary detectives Elvis Cole and Harry Bosch also lived), usually on Sunday nights. It was a musician hang.
Anyway, as our session was coming to a close, and those guys were also wrapping up their business, Jackson stopped by the main room and joined Bootsie, Dief, and me at the basketball goal for a little two-on-two. With “Deep Throat” playing silently in the background.