/ Credits / Gigs / Songs
This interview with Waddy Wachtel is a compilation of conversations both in-person and through phone calls by Blackcat.
Blackcat: Robert "Waddy" Wachtel was born May 24, 1947 to Harry and Rhoda Wachtel in the Jackson Heights section of Queens, in New York City. "Bobby," as he was known at that time, already had a big brother, Jimmy, who was 3 and a half years older.
Even as a small child, Waddy had his eye on the guitar. He has a crystalline memory of talking with his mother when he was about four or five years old. He was watching television and:
Waddy: I saw a guy playing a guitar, and I looked at my mother. I said, ďWhat is that?Ē And she went, ďThatís a guitar.Ē I went, ďThatís what I want.Ē And that was IT. That was my whole deal. It started and ended right there when I saw this guy playing this big olí white jazz guitar on TV. Itís kind of wild. I truly remember it as if it happened yesterday.
Blackcat: Mrs. Wachtel died of lung cancer when Waddy was 6 years old, leaving Waddy, along with his brother, Jimmy, and father devastated. Nonetheless, Waddy was bent on playing the guitar, much to the consternation of his father. Waddy did have a piano playing cousin. But thatís not what he was interested in.
Waddy: My father actually didnít want that - for years. I made the decision when my Mom was alive, and then from that age, from age five, until age nine, all I did was bust his chops about it. And he didnít want it. He said, "No, no, no. Donít worry about it. Forget about the guitar. Learn about something else. Get into some school. I want you to get into some school. Have the guitar to fall back on." And I was like, "I donít know what youíre talking about. Have it to Ďfall back on.í" Iím not going to be some doctor who plays the guitar on the weekends. You know, this is IT.
Blackcat: Actually, I know a doctor that does that.
Waddy: Yes, sure, thereís lots of them. But I was committed. So I just bitched and bitched. And he fought me. It took me tillÖ You know, if I had my way, I would have started playing when I was about seven or so. But it took him until I was about nine to finally give in and find me a teacher.
Blackcat: And you had guitar lessons with a guy named Gene Dell.
Waddy: Where do you get this stuff?
Blackcat: (Laughing) Waddy, Iíve been reading. And I looked HARD! You were in Guitar Player MagazineÖ
Waddy: Oh, yes, thatís right! Yes, Gene Dell, thatís right. Nine years old, I started. And he came along. I wanted to play left-handed. Iím left handed.
Blackcat: What did you do, string your guitar the opposite way?
Waddy: No, no, no. I didnít know. I was nine years old. I didnít know fuckiní anything! I just sat there playing the guitar backwards, Ďtill the guy came over. And he wentÖ He grabbed it out of my hands and turned it around, and went, "Hey, no, no, no!" "Hey, Iím left handed." And he went, "No, not any more youíre not. Youíre going to play right handed." And I went, "But, but..." But he said, "No, youíre going to play this way." So at age nine, I was stripped of my left-handedness and shown the way to play right handed.
[I had lessons] with Gene Dell. I would say I studied from the age of about nine to about 14. And then at that point I donít know what happened. I just kind of lost interest in it totally, for about a year. I just wouldnít play. I donít know what happened.
Blackcat: You reached adolescence! (Laughing)
Waddy: (Laughing) Yeah, really. I had other things on the mind. And then when I was about 16, I think, I wanted to study again. Meanwhile, I was playing in a band. And I met this guitar player, who was like "hot stuff" and he mentioned he was studying with a man named Sal Salvador - who was a great jazz guitarist, and was giving lessons. So I went and signed up with Sal. And I studied with him for about a year. And that was great because he was really very in tune to jazz, and improvisation and reading at the same time. And I was all of a sudden studying out of nine or ten books each week. I had lessons out of nine or ten books that I had to show up with and know. It was pretty extensive. And he dug my sensibilities about music, so he would have me come over and go over and work with arrangements with him. I mean, play the things he was writing with him and stuff. The next thing I knew, I was spending like three or four nights a week with him, instead of my one night of lessons. Iíd go there for a couple of nights a week and just play these arrangements with him, so he could get his shit together, and weíd go eat Italian food downstairs.
Blackcat: You lived guitar. You truly did.
Waddy: I lived guitar. I lived jazz and guitar. I was always a rock and roller, but a lot of the music I learnedÖ Well, my brother had an extensive jazz record collection. So I would just cut school and stay home and learn everything. There was a book, when I was a kid, by a guy named Mickey Baker, about how to play jazz guitar. When it got to the page about improvising it said, "Well, nobody can really teach you how to improvise." And I went, "Oh great." And it said, "You gotta do that on your own - you gotta develop your own soul." And he said, "I recommend the way to do that is to learn everything you love, every solo that you hear that you like - learn it." So thatís what I would do. I would sit there and play with whatever record was on - a saxophone, Gerry Mulligan, or Lou Donaldson, or anybody. Any solos that would go by that I liked I would learn them. And I would just develop my "ear" like that. And thatís how I started learning all the rock and roll songs - same way. When I was a kid the first thing I learned was "Tequila!" And I went crazy when I realized that I moved that chord and it made that sound, and I went, "Oh my God." And then I started learning stuff by "ear." Gene Dell would say, "Bobby, youíre not reading! You are not reading! Youíre playing it by ear." And Iíd say, "Well, I canít help it. I learned it already. My ear beat me to it."
So thatís it. We would do Bach inventions - piano inventions. And he would want me to do one part, but by the time he would come back the next week, I would know both parts. And Iíd be like, "Hey, play the other part. I know them both!"
Blackcat: They had to have loved you as a student. They had to.
Waddy: They did. Even though he knew my "ear" was beating my "eye" to the page, in other words. So Iím not a great reader. Iím a decent reader, but not like some of my friends who can read anything.
Blackcat: Well, you donít need to at this point.
Waddy: Sometimes you do. You never know. All of a sudden, like, well, youíre working on a movie date, and they have specific things written out or . . . or a lot of record dates. Back in the old days you would walk in and thereíd be charted stuff. And sometimes I literally had to go, "Hey, come here. Sing this to me."
Blackcat: You mentioned you were cutting school, but I am going to ask you anyhow: Where did you go to school? What were you like as a kid?
Waddy: I wasÖ Well, I was a little messed up, since my Mom died. I was pretty much a science project for a couple of years. I really didnít know what the hell was going on. I couldnít get a grasp on too much for a while there. But, anyhow, we lived in Jackson Heights, Queens (New York). And I went to public school: PS 149. I remember that. And the Junior High was called 145, Joseph Pulitzer Junior High School, 145.
Blackcat: Gotta love New York!
Waddy: Yeah! And then I went to this high schoolÖ it was called Newtown High School, which was known to be the like the toughest school in the fuckiní whole city. It was just full of just frightful hoodlums andÖ it was really, like, terrifying. And so I got privy to cutting school at a young age. It was safer. I was kind of scared to be at that high school.
And in Junior High I had my tonsils out, and I stretched what would have been a two week, you know, "vacation," into like five weeks. So I thought, "This is pretty cool! I like this!"
Waddy: So I learned then, wellÖ you donít really have to go to school, I guess. But I managed to graduate high school.
Blackcat: GOOD! Did you go to college, or take some sort ofÖ
Waddy: Well, let me just say when I finished high school, I finished at a place called "Quintanoís School For Young Professionals." Because I was cutting school so much that it was pointless. And someone said, "Thereís this high school in the city for like actors, and kids that donít have time for regular school." And I went, "You know, thatís for me." And for this guy that I worked with in this band. We just said, "We gotta go there." So we signed up for Quintanoís, and went for an hour and a half a day. And then started even blowing that off, because after a while it didnít matter. And I was working. At that point we were already working in Newport, Rhode Island in this band. So we would drive to Newport, on the weekend, do our shit, come home and pretend I had the energy to go to school. After a while weíd just kind of stay in Newport. And I came back down and the head of the school - he just looked at me and said, "Youíll never pass this test, because you gotta take your final. Youíll never pass this." And then he said, "Well, just answer what you can, and Iíll mark you on what you get right." So I graduated.
Blackcat: Iím glad!
Waddy: But then the draft was beckoning!
Blackcat: Oooh, thatís right!
Waddy: This was like 1967 or so. And the draft was really biting at my ankles. Thatís a whole long story, too. We donít need that though. Thatís pretty hilarious though.
Blackcat: Okay . . . but you escaped.
Waddy: I escaped. We went up to a college, called New Haven College. At this point I had a band called "The Orphans." Thatís the band I was working with. Avoiding the draft I went to New Haven College, and we stayed there till the band broke up.
Blackcat: Connecticut, right?
Waddy: Connecticut, yeah. And these guys left me, and I was stuck. And after years of road already, at like age 17, 18, I went, "Oh no, Iíve gotta go home? This is no good!" So I went back home to Harry and Jimmy and then the draft was nipping at my heels again.
Waddy: And then I studied music at that point. I wanted to learn more about music. And I tried to get into a couple of music colleges, but I just couldnít pass those tests. "The dictation," as they call it. They play you a piece, and you have to write it out, as itís goiní by, and I just wasnít ready for that.
And when we were kids where we were growing up - well, around the corner from us, there was a gentleman named Rudolph Schramm, who was at that time, when I was a baby, and my Mom was still alive, he was the head of the NBC staff orchestra. And he was a brilliant man. He was the head of the orchestra for like 22 years or something like that. And he wanted me to take piano. He offered me piano lessons when I was, like, a baby. But I didnít want to. I already wanted to play guitar. And I say, "NAH! I donít want to play the piano." And he said, "What?" "I want to play guitar!" So at this point in my life when I couldnít get into any music schools I thought of him, and I tracked him down. And now he was teaching at Carnegie Hall. He had his own office there, and I told him my situation. And I said, "I need help."
Oh, and what else is funny, when all this happened - you know, the band broke up and everything - I came back home and my hair looked then like it basically does now! My father wasnít going for it. You know, I was like 17 years old. He said, "Go get it trimmed." So I went to a barber, and instead of trimming me, this barber fuckiní destroyed me.
He shaved my head basically! I was like - I was livid! And I was so embarrassed, but I went to Mr. Schramm and I said - and I hadnít seen him since I was a baby - and I said, "I need to learn music, and to tell you the truth, and also, I need your help because Iíve already accepted a job in Vermont four months from now, and I need you to help convince my father that I should take it. Because I want to go." And he said, "Iíll help you, Bobby, Iíll help you."
So he taught me three times a week himself about rhythm, melody and harmony. And it was fantastic. It was the best cramming of musical knowledge that anyone could ever have. It was unbelievable. Three times a week. He would just run me through new songs, old songs - the reasons why songs succeed, the reasons why songs donít succeed - and every song that would succeed, he would show me this pat concept he had that would apply to every hit song. It was brilliant. I wish I had absorbed more of it, but I got some of it. And then he helped convince my old man that I could go away.
So when he saw me with this little crew cut and shitÖ And then years went by and I came back from LA and went to visit him. And I walked in, I opened the door, and he looked at me and I had a beard, and my long hair. And he went, "My God! You look like Jesus Christ! Get in here! Is that really you? Oh my God!"
Blackcat: (Laughing) You canít be a rock and roll star and have short hair!
Waddy: Thatís right! So that was great. A lot of my musical knowledge I credit to Mr. Schramm. He was wonderful.
Blackcat: How did you get the name Waddy?
Waddy: I got the name "Waddy" from a guy named ----. I had a band when I was about 16. I was working with these guys. We had like a little surfiní band. And when The Beatles and Stones came out, then we had a surfiní band/Beatles and Stones Band. You know, weíd do Beach Boys songs, Beatles, and so on. And this one guitar player - the guy that I wrote with - the other guyís name was Carl Wilkenfeld. It was him, a guy named Bob Munz, my bass player that came from Queens with me, and this other guy was a friend of Carl Wilkenfeldís named Jerry Birnbach. And this (Jerry) guy was one of those goofy kind of guys that would always be making mistakes, always be screwing up . . . and I was always yelling at him. And I was always, like, up his ass about stuff. And all of a sudden - one day, I was firing on him - and he goes - he just turned around (and I was always "Bob" up until then) and this one day he just turned around and went - to shut me up, he went (in a whiny voice): "Iím sorry Wadd.y." And I turned around and went, "Whoa! What the fuck is that?" And he goes, "Iím sorry Waddy." "Donít call me that!" And then after a while, I went, "Well . . . Waddy. That sounds better than Bob."
BlackcatM: Yes, itís a great name!
Waddy: So itís from this crazy guy.
Blackcat: Thatís always been a mystery to me. I could never find that out. So someone was just trying to be a wise guy to you.
Waddy: Yeah, someone was just trying to shut me up, which he did.
Blackcat: It worked! It put you to a quick stop. All right! Okay, I think I am getting a pretty good idea. As a kid you had a pretty tough time though.
Waddy: Yeah . . . I mean we were all right. It was just my father and brother and me.
Blackcat: And later Shirley came into the picture.
Waddy: Shirley came along later. Harry got married again when I was about 16. He had tried a second marriage, but it totally failed. And then he met Shirley, right after I moved to California, and got married. And they were married like FOREVER. They were married from 1969 till, like 3 or 4 years ago. Shirley has been like a Mom even though there were like 3000 miles between us.
Blackcat: That was tough.
Waddy: Yes, because I came out here and I didnít have anything. You know, a Jewish boyís dream is to be able to support his father, you know. So finally when I started workingÖ My Dad, he had this friend named Harry Waxman. He was a big builder in New York. And they were life long friends, and he was supposed to take care of my father and he wasnít. And it was really pissing me off. And so one day I pulled him asideÖ and it was really funny, because I remember I was at Forrest Hill Stadium, with Linda Ronstadt. And I had started doing eye makeup then too. And we had just finished this show, and I had all this black eye makeup running down my face and everything. And I took my father aside and I said, "I just want you to know something. I want you to call your friend Harry Waxman, and tell him to go fuck himself. Tell him your son Bobby is taking care of you now." The two of us were crying. It was this wonderful moment: my father and I. You know, I was always cutting school, I was always lying. My brother was a good boy. I was a fucking rat. I was the troubled kid.
Blackcat: You were just six when you lost your Mom.
Waddy: Yeah. And then I just developed lyingÖ
Blackcat: But you know what? Itís not a surprise. You lost your Mom. That is an awful time to lose your mother.
Waddy: Yeah, it was really confusing.
Blackcat: Your motherís there, one who tells you what to wear, what not to wear, who to play with, I mean thatísÖ
Waddy: Yeah, and she was sick for a long time, so it was pretty funky.
Waddy: Yeah, it was bad. I didnít know what the hell was going on. I couldnít figure it out.
Blackcat: All rightÖ somehow you got to California, but before you got to California, I think - at least how I am reading things through the stuff that I found out - you were up in New England somewhere.
Waddy: Yeah, thatís what I was talking about, in Newport, Rhode Island.
Blackcat: Is that where you ran into Keith Olsen?
Waddy: No, no. Keith Olsen I met here - meaning California.
Blackcat: Okay, around 1966, Keith says something about he met you while in a band called Music Machine. Do you remember that?
Waddy: No, thatís a little out of context. Keith was in a band in 1966 called Music Machine, but I didnít meet Keith Olsen until I had moved to California. I moved here in Ď68, with a band called Twice Nicely. And itís funny, we were playing up in Newport, Rhode Island. And all of a sudden people would say to me, have you heard the Cowsills? I went "What? What kind of word is that? I never heard a word like that in my life! Cowsills?" And they said, "Oh, man, thatís these four boys, and they are amazing." And I was like, "You gotta be kidding." And they said, "Theyíre babies. Theyíre kids." So I went and saw them. And at that time the Cowsills were, like, literally just the four kids: Bobby, Billy, Barry and John. And they were amazing! They did Beatles songs, and they sang beautifully. But their father (William "Bud" Cowsill) was a complete alcoholic monster, who would come to the club we played in and get so drunk. I used to have him thrown out of the club a few times a week. "Get that fuckiní bum out of here." Then he started telling me, "I want to manage you." And I was like, "Get the fuck away from me." And all of a sudden, The Cowsills got a deal. And it was amazing! Now at this point, some time had gone by. When I first met him, and I was still with that band, The Orphans. Then things went down, the band quit, the college thing fell through, and I put together this band called Twice Nicely. And we were back working in Newport, Rhode Island. Anyhow, Bud would come to this club called Dorianís, where The Ophans would play, and try to tell me he wanted to manage me, and I told him, "You are out of your mind. Look, when you get a million dollars, then come talk to me." And he was shit-faced drunk and I didnít think it mattered.
And time went by, and I put the new band together, and then, like I said, we had this gig in Vermont - the one that I told you about, the one that Mr. Schramm help me to convince my father about. So Iím up in Vermont, with this band - and allís I could see is nothing ahead of us. There was nowhere to go. We had nobody to help us. We had no connections with anything. And this band was good, but it was floundering. And all of a sudden I got this phone call from this guy that used to run Dorianís, the club. The guy that used to help me throw Bud out! A guy named David Ray.
And David calls me, and he goes, "Waddy, Iím working for Bud now." "What?!" He goes, "Waddy, heís got a lot of money, man. And the kids have a solid deal and he wants to talk to you." I went "What?" And he went, "Yeah, weíre coming up to Vermont." "You are?" So yes, sure enough on some Friday night, I walk in the club and thereís Bud and David, sitting at the table. And I sit down with them, and he goes - first thing he says, he goes, "Well, I got the million dollars." Just like that! Like a real wise guy, you know! And I went, "Ahhh, you do?" And he went, "You want to come with me now?" And I went, "Yup!"
Waddy: (Laughing) And I said, "Yup, get me the fuck outta here!" So he said, "Alright, weíre going back to New York. Weíre living in New York now, so why donít you guys pack it in up here and come on down there and start rehearsing." So we moved back down to New York, and at that point is when I finally heard from the FBI this time - in relation to the draft - because I am STILL shining the draft! Like five physicals have gone down now, and I have not gone for any of them. The sixth letter I got was from the FBI saying, donít even BOTHER bringing anything with you, because youíre going to Vietnam. You are going directly from your physical to the front lines.
Waddy: So I went, "No this ainít gonna work. This ainít gonna work." So I told Bud about it. I said, "Look I got a problem here. I got a real problem." And he said, "I know someone you can talk to." There was a gentleman named Herbie Cohen. I donít know if you ever heard of his name.
Blackcat: Iíve heard of a Herb Cohen, but heís a doctor.
Waddy: Well, no. Herb Cohen used to manage Frank Zappa. He managed The Mothers Of Invention, who I was in love with. And he said this guy Herb is coming to town, "Why donít you talk to him about it. Heís got a real good sense about these things." I had a meeting with Herb, and I said, "Look man, I donít know what to do." And he said, "Look Waddy, look at yourself. You are NOT Army material." (Laughing) He goes, "Thatís all you got to know. And you just have to go and convince them of that. They donít want YOU, believe me! You are exactly what they DONíT want."
Waddy: "You like to think for yourself, you donít like to take orders from people. You are NOT the guy they are looking for. They think you are now, but once they get to know you, theyíll know youíre not. You just have to go to that physical. And I suggest to you..."
Blackcat: Donít cut your hair!
Waddy: "No, donít cut your hair! Donít talk to anybody, donít answer any of the questions. When it comes time for you to take the physical part, after you do the written test, tell them, youíre afraid: you donít want to take your clothes off. Youíre afraid to take your clothes off. You seem like a nervous guy, so just get real nervous."
So I took his advice. And I said, let me see, how can I improve on this? So from that day on, until my draft physical, which was like a month and a half away, I just ate nothing but fruit and vegetables. And I didnít wash.
I drank coffee, which I never do, I didnít sleep, I didnít wash, I didnít eat. I got down to about 90-some pounds. And right before I went down, I shaved without shaving cream or anything, so my face was all just totally fucked up. And my father, at that point, it was really funny, is saying, "Youíre going in the army! Youíre going in the army!" And I went, "No Iím not, and as a matter of fact, youíre going to help me get out of the army." And he goes, "What?" And I said, "Yeah, I want you to bring me in there. I think it will look good if you hand deliver me to the Sergeant at Arms." And he was, "Iím not taking any part of this." And I said, "Yes you are!"
So I got him to do it, and he brought me to Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn at six in the morning, and handed me off to the guy. And then I was all on my own in there. And I wouldnít answer any of the questions, and when it came time for the part where, you know, the part where he said "When it comes time to take your clothes off, donít, and tell them you donít want to take your clothes off." But when I got down there, there was nobody to talk to. There was literally nobody to say anything to, and I lost it. I sat down and I just started crying. I was really frightened to death. And I didnít know what to do. So I just went, "Oh well - chin up." And the only thing I had was a note - I went back to my own family doctor, because I was afraid to go to a psychiatrist and all that stuff and lie, so I went to my old family doctor who hadnít seen me since I was about 12. He goes, "My God, what are you doing here?" And I said, "I need your help. I have an army physical coming up and I donít want to go in. I need you to write me a note of some kind." And he goes, "What?" And then he goes, "Well, alright." And he wrote a note. It just said:
"Robertís been a little off balance since his mother died at six, and heís never quite adjusted to life. Also, his stomach is very sensitive to fried foods. He canít eat fried foods."
Which is all they serve you. So all I had was this little tiny note. It looked like a prescription pad sized note, from a doctor, you know. And I was terrified. And at that point, there was no one to talk to - so, all right, I took the clothes off. Meanwhile, keep in mind, I was filthy. I was preparing for, in the eventuality that I had to pull my drawers down, it would make a fuckiní mark. And it did. And I went through this physical. And all of a sudden - and I was too afraid - I figured if I asked someone to see the psychiatrist, they were going to look at my chart and say, "Oh you, the wise guy. Youíre going right to Vietnam." So I was too afraid to say anything.
Finally, this one sergeant goes, "Wachtel: psychiatrist." And they sent me right to the psychiatrist. And after a few moments with him, and talking about acid Ė LSD - he said, "How many trips - how many times have you taken it?" And I just looked at him and said, "I donít know." And he went "Okay. I think that will about do it." And they gave me 1Y and I was out.
Blackcat: Iím glad you are alive.
Waddy: Yeah. And about two weeks later, we moved to LA, with the Cowsills.
Blackcat: The Cowsills is the last name I would associate with you!
Waddy: I know, I know. It was very funny because there were two people that I always wanted to meet. If I ever got to California, I wanted to meet Brian Wilson , who is still my idol. And at that time David Crosby was saying a lot of good things in the late sixties. So I thought David Crosby seems very hip. I want to meet him. Two days after we got there, we went to dinner at some place - David Crosby is sitting three tables away.
And Iím looking at that, and Iím going, "What do I do now? Do I get up and make a complete ass of myself, or do I just sit here and let this moment go by?" And I went, "I get up and make a fool of myself." And I did, and I walked over to his table, and I said, "Excuse me, Iím sorry to bother you, but I just arrived here from the East Coast, Iíve got a band that Iíd love you to hear. My manager is Bud Cowsill, of The Cowsills." And he went, "Ewwwww, GOD!" And I went, "I know, I know, I got nothing to do with them. Just their manager." So anyway, Dave came by, and he was really sweet. He came over and he heard the band. And he pulled me aside, and he went, "Waddy, the band sounds really good, but you are the only one in it. You know that right? Youíre the only musician in here." "Well, thanks. I really do appreciate that, but you knowÖ" So I made a friend in him.
And then I met Brian, through this guy Arnie Geller - who is the man that introduced me to Brian Wilson . Arnie knew Keith Olsen and a guy named Curt Boettcher, who is now deceased. But they had a band known as the Millennium in the late sixties. And Curt Boettcher produced "Along Comes Mary" with The Association. And Curt and Keith were in this band, Millenium. And they were also making records, producing them. Arnie introduced us. Curt and Keith liked our band a lot, and we started working together. They were producing our demos. Then Curt and Keith had some kind of falling out, and then I fired the whole band. I had had it. I said to them, "I want you all to know, Iím not quitting. Youíre all fired!" Thereís a difference. (Laughing)
Blackcat: (Laughing) Youíre the sole Orphan now!
Waddy: Thatís right. And theyíre fuckiní screwed. (Laughing)
Waddy: So Keith and I started working together. This was in like Ď68, Ď69 probably. And thatís - from then on - thatís when things started happening. Thatís where Keith (Olsen) one day came and said, "Iím bringing this couple down from North California, named Stevie and Lindsey. And I want you to play on their record.Ē I played on the Buckingham Nicks record. The three of us became very tight, tight friends. We were always together. And then I got my record deal, and they got theirs. And we all got mutually screwed at the same time.
Blackcat: When you say record deal?
Waddy: I had a single. I did a "Waddy" single, called "Youíre The One." Keith produced it, and it was my song, and I sang it. And I was going to do an album. It was for a label named Anthem, which was a subsidiary of Polygram. And Stevie and Lindsey got signed to Polygram, and they got an album deal. And I was going to do an album deal, but these people who signed me, screwed me. So I never did any more than the single.
Blackcat: Can you tell me a little more about your time with Buckingham Nicks?
Waddy: Well, ahhh, yeah. Like I was saying, Stevie and Lindsey came down, and we met. (1972)
Blackcat: What did they do, just stick you in a room together?
Waddy: No, KeithÖ he had met them, and he brought them down to make a record. And so we were working at a studio called Sound City. And thatís where I was doing my stuff - and thatís where we did the Buckingham Nicks record. And we became very tight friends, you know. Stevie was very innocent at that point. And Lindsey and I were addicted to the music. And LindseyÖ he had like a four track tape machine - Ampex tape machine. And they made some great demos, and so we went in the studio and we recorded their album. And from then on, the three of us were always together basically. I was always at their house. We were sitting around on the floor, smoking hash.
Blackcat: Mick [Fleetwood] talks about that in his book! I figured you were one of the people that Stevie was stepping over, when sheíd come home from work.
Waddy: Very, very, very possible, yes. (Laughing)
Blackcat: She said, ahÖ everyone would be kind of sick, laying around. And she said something like, "Thatís because youíre all laying around, smoking hash, while Iím out working all day."
Waddy: (Laughing) Thatís right. Thatís right!
Blackcat: So that was real. She really did go through all of that. Isnít that funny.
Waddy: Oh yeah. She did for sure! And then we had another friend. George, or Jorge, Calderon and he played bass with us. So we started playing gigs around town. The four of us. You know when I met Stevie, and I heard her sing I was already very much into Dolly Parton at that point - which was wild, because I never heard a note of country music when I lived in New York. But when I moved here, I was like, "Wow, whatís this stuff? Country music? Wild." And so I gave her [Stevie] a Dolly Parton album. And I said, "Youíve got to learn this girlís work. Youíve gotta get a load of this chick!" And she couldnít believe it. And so we started gigging around town, doing Dolly Parton tunes, and other country songs, and couple of originals, and Lindsey and I would play guitar great together. So we just knocked around like that.
Blackcat: Did you tour with the Buckingham Nicks album?
Blackcat: Why not?
Waddy: I think by the time the album came out, I wanted to do my own thing - or I might have been working with the Everlyís then. I canít quite remember the sequence of events then. I was actually kind of working when we all (Buckingham Nicks) met. I was an actual sessionís musician. And so from time to time I was very busy, or kind of busy, or not so busy. My stuff was kind of picking up around then.
Blackcat: Hey, on one of the Buckingham Nicks songs, Lindsey kind of yells out your name. "Lola, My Love." Whatís that about?
Waddy: Well, he was just a very nice guy. I was playing slide, and he just went, "Waddy Wachtel." It fit the rhythm, I think. That was that. But the funniest thing was, then I was working with Linda Ronstadt. And I came home one day from a tour, and the phone rings and itís Lindsey. And I go, "So whatís up man?" And he goes, "Man, I gotta run something by you. I got a strange situation here." And I go, "What?" And he goes, "Well, this guy named Mick Fleetwood came to Sound City looking for production with Keith Olsen . And, uh, Keith played him our stuff. And he wants us to join Fleetwood Mac." And I went "Yah. Whatís the problem?" And he goes, "I donít know if we want to do it. You know, we got Buckingham Nicks." And I said, "Lindsey, the only mistake you are making right now is youíre on the wrong phone call. I want you to hang up, and call Mick Fleetwood , and tell him ĎYes.í" And I said the only thing wrong with the equation is that they didnít want me also.
Blackcat: But they did, right?
Waddy: No. They wanted them. They just wanted the two of them. I wound upÖ I mean we were all tight friends and I played on a little bit of the record. But I made some very valid suggestions that reflect on the music that are still there today. Some of the things I said were, "Why donít you do this, and stuff. Try this." So I said, "Call him, now. Call him now, and say YES."
Blackcat: So you knew what that meant.
Waddy: Yes. Well, I just knew that was an in for them. I knew that Buckingham Nicks was going to be an uphill fight, but Fleetwood Mac already had a name. So let them be your back up band, man. So thatís what he did.
Blackcat: Right. Was Lindsey considered a "sessions player" at that time?
Waddy: No, uh-uh. Not really.
Blackcat: Because I saw that he was also with the Everly Brothers, and you were there first.
Waddy: Yeah, I got Lindsey that job. When I left that job, Lindsey came on and took the job over for me.
Blackcat: Because you were moving on with Linda Ronstadt at that point?
Waddy: Well, no, thatís a whole other story. Thatís where I met Warren Zevon. He was the band-leader for The Everly Brothers. Don and I had a little falling out, over something.
Blackcat: Okay. Thatís all you have to say, you donít have to get into it.
Waddy: Yeah, well, I donít mind really. Itís pretty funny. But anywayÖ
Blackcat: Your brother Jimmy . . . I know he did about a million album
covers, including Stevie Nicks' TimeSpace/ and Crosby/Stills/Nash's
album . . .
Waddy: Yeah and he did that famous Joe Walsh one [But Seriously Folks].
Blackcat: And he also did Buckingham Nicks . .
Waddy: Buckingham Nicks! And he did both of those Joe Walsh ones - the underwater one, and Barn Storm and Bruce Springsteen - The River, a lot of Jackson Browne ones, all the Warren Zevon ones . . . .
Blackcat: Is he still working?
Waddy: Oh yeah, yeah . . . he's got a company now called Dawn Patrol and he's doing movie ads and stuff. He did really well. He's got a real
successful company going. He's more of a graphic artist now. He doesn't
really do much shooting any more.
Blackcat: You told me your father died recently?
Waddy: A few years ago. He made it to a week before his 96th birthday. But unfortunately he developed Alzheimer's a couple years back, and so it was really tough luck. And then all of a sudden my old man was like GONE.
Blackcat: Was he a powerful man?
Waddy: He was a loved man. He was very loved. He was a very young, spirited guy - I mean nobody could believe he was his age. His favorite thing to do was to come around all the shows I was doing, and come back stage, and be treated nice . . . and he loved it. And everybody loved him. It drove me completely crazy! [Laughing] But everybody loved him. Eric Barrett, who was Linda Ronstadt's tour manager, called him "The Duke." "HEY, Waddy, The Duke is here!" I'd go, "NO! Not again!" [Laughing] But he was very loved. He was very funny, and very, very energetic. And he'd do things like . . . at one point, when I was on a tour with Linda Ronstadt, and there was a great musician playing with us named Don Grolnick - who has since died. My father was standing next to Grolnick - who he had just met. They were watching the opening act, which was Bernie Leadon and Michael Georgiades, and they're playing some song, and my father just said to Don, who he didn't know . . . and he just goes, (with a classic New York accent) "Saddest thing I ever heard." And Don goes, "What, the song?" And he goes, "No, the act!"
Waddy: He was that kind of guy. He really made no bones about speaking his mind. He was rather something.
Blackcat: That's great. I am glad to hear that, Ďcause you know you
are a bit of a mystery. People know you are on all these albums,
but they don't know anything about you, so it's kinda cool you are doing
this. I appreciate it.
Waddy: Cool. Likewise.
Waddy Wachtel Interview Part 2
Source: The Penguin Biographies
| Modern Recording and Music | Guitar World | Guitar Player | International Musician | Musician | Misc. Articles | Waddy Wachtel Interview Part 1 | Waddy Wachtel Interview Part 2 | Nina 1 | The Record | Bam Magazine | WW Book References | Keith Richards Life | L.A. Magazine | Soundcheck | Rolling Stone Magazine 4/11/13 | Burst Believers | WW Interview by Joe Bosso | WWGibsonInterview11/28/14 | WaddyWachtelInterview12/18/14 |
| Return Home | Discography / Credits / Gigs / Songs | Articles / Interviews | Photos / Videos | Contact | Waddy Wachtel Band | Search | Mailing List |