The Spirit of America

I must say I’m not a fan of America these days – For me Donald Trump has contaminated the “brand” with his mean-spirited attitudes towards building a wall, threatening wars, rolling back progress on environmental stewardship and so on.  It is a perversion of the notion of MAGA (Making America Great Again) and the whole genre of fake news … but one must never generalise, and the magazine US of America supports and celebrates the values that make America a great nation. Contemporary yet nostalgic, presenting stories from across the cultural landscape of the USA. From Alabama to Wyoming, the magazine shine a light on every US state, showcasing the weird and wonderful of everyday American life.

The 2nd edition is just out. Here the editor in chief Nicole Nodland explains what’s in store:

Our cover star Dua Lipa discusses the importance of using your voice to affect change and break boundaries. Bruce Gilden captures the resilience of the people of Detroit, while Lucas Foglia presents an utopian-like image of the prisoners of Riker’s Island. From Larry Fink’s photos at the Women’s March to Alec Soth’s reflective series on the recent election, we capture the beauty of a collective spirit in times of uncertainty.

Minnesota is this issue’s special focus. Visit the land of 10,000 lakes with us as we look at the state’s lesser known stories and pay tribute to its most famous resident, Prince. It’s just over a year since Prince left Planet Earth and his loss to the world still leaves a huge vacuum. Featuring an exclusive interview with Mayte Garcia, a feature on Ida Neilsen, his bass anchor for 6 years and a piece on the musicology of a genius.

We go bicoastal to look at California cults and Brooklyn Biker gangs. And back in time with 70’s photos of Hollywood Boulevard and the NY subway system.

Catch up with Giancarlo Esposito, Mayte Garcia, Ida Nielsen, and Amber Mark to find out about their upcoming projects. And spend time in LA’s Inglewood neighbourhood with rising stars Ill Camille, Daniel Farris, Davion Farris, Tay Walker, Kenyon Dixon, and Jeff Bernat.

Grab your copy of Us of America now.  In the meantime, here is my tribute to Prince recorded just a year ago with Meatloaf’s singing partner from “I would do anything for love” Lorraine Crosby, recorded without practice or soundcheck, so there are a few ongoing adjustments to live guitar sound levels in the first few seconds.

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Peter Cook leads Human Dynamics and The Academy of Rock.  Author of 7.5 Books.

SAS Band UK Tour with Patti Russo and a cast of stars

I had the great pleasure of seeing Patti Russo in Tunbridge Wells and then again in Guildford, as part of her UK Tour, with The SAS Band. SAS (Spike’s All Stars) is the brainchild of Spike Edney, who plays keyboards and is Musical Director for Queen. On Sunday’s bill are Graham Gouldman (10CC), who wrote a string of hits including “Bus Stop” for The Hollies, Mel C of the Spice Girls, Cheryl Baker (Bucks Fizz) and Madeline Bell (Blue Mink). Last night in Guildford we were blessed with Kiki Dee, Chris Thompson (Manfred Mann’s Earth Band) and Queen’s Roger Taylor. With a band of professionals to die for, The SAS Band must be seen on tour this week in the UK. They rarely play public gigs so check the dates below and don’t miss out.

THIS Tuesday 8th December – Portsmouth Guildhall

Saturday 12th December – Pavillion Hall, Buxton – Patti Russo solo

Patti Rocks

Patti Rocks – Photography Albert van de Werfhorst

Jamie Moses

With Jamie Moses at the after party at Guildford’s G Live – a smashing venue where you can actually see a band perform for a change

I first met Spike perhaps 10 years ago at the ancient village of Chiddingfold in Surrey, after my sister Sheila invited me to the gig. It turned out that Sheila’s sister in law used to do Spike’s book-keeping and I went along not really knowing this. I remember meeting him afterwards backstage and having no idea who he was! 🙂 oops ! Spike organises a complex and extremely professional show, having brought together a great list of talents over the years from Cozy Powell, Brian May, Leona Lewis, Jeff Beck, Toyah Wilcox, Fish, Annie Lennox – the list goes on and on. Perhaps this is not that surprising as he is Queen’s Musical Director and his skill at bringing explosive talents together is unrivalled. A rare skill.

Mel C - smashed it

Mel C – smashed it with One Vision  – Photograph Nicole Falter

Everyone is on top form. Madeline Bell was simply fabulous at 73 years young, doing a sublime version of “I heard it on the Grapevine” alongside other classics. We met at both aftershows and I must say what a great bundle of joy she is. The surprise of the night at Tunbridge Wells was Cheryl Baker who performed a superb version of Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi”. Graham Gouldman of 10CC delivered with ease some of the many hits he wrote “For Your Love”, “Dreadlock Holiday”, “Rubber Bullets” etc. Mel C surprised with a great version of “One Vision” alongside the Spice Girls classic “Too Much” – it’s rare to write a Christmas hit that is not cheesy and this is one of the few. Spike led one of their legendary mashups of 29 classic riffs, beautifully arranged into one seamless whole with guitar supremo Jamie Moses and the band.

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The best dressing room in the world – with Kiki Dee, Patti Russo, Susie Webb, Zoe Nicholas and Madeline Bell – photo by Susie Webb

At Guildford, Kiki Dee does a superb duet on “Don’t go breaking my heart” and “I got the music in me” and a new Queen song, showing artists half her age how it’s done. I was smitten the first time I heard “Amoureuse” as a pale youth of 15 years old and still have the records to this day. Queen’s Roger Taylor smashed it with “Radio Gaga” and a brilliant “Voodoo Chile” amongst other pieces.

A soul legend - Madeline Bell - more than ever we need a great big melting pot now

A soul legend – Madeline Bell – more than ever we need a great big melting pot now and I’m voting Madeline for Queen

Of course I particularly enjoyed Patti Russo’s performances, having had the honour of working with Patti a couple of times myself. She performed her new release “When it Comes to Love” amongst many other favourites and a jaw dropping version of “Uptown Funk”, which puts Mark Ronson in the shade. Last night’s show finished with a superb version of “Imagine” – a song with a timeless message for our age.

Contact us at The Academy of Rock to discuss corporate events with Patti, from New York to London to Milan and anywhere besides.

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Load up, load up with Rubber Bullets – with Graham Gouldman, Mick Wilson and Jamie Moses – photo by Nicole Falter

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Riffology – Frankenstein Lives – with Spike Edney and Jamie Moses – Photography Albert van de Werfhorst

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Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock and Human Dynamics. Check our books “Sex, Leadership and Rock’n’Roll”, “Punk Rock HR” and The Music of Business” out on Amazon. Great Christmas gifts!! His new book “Leading Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise” is available to order at Bloomsbury.

Books x 4

3M : Meatloaf, Macroeconomics and (Iron) Maiden – Rock’n’Roll Business hits the FT and The BBC

This week, I’ve prepared a round up of press articles on business, management, economics and music.   Starting with Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden, who has just opened an enterprise business in Wales, to service aircraft and provide jobs for 800 people in tough times.  The Financial Times covered the story:

Can I play with madness? Iron Maiden enter the fray to help fix the economy

Dickinson sounds a Mc Kinsey consultant who attended a ‘mass customisation masterclass’ and a ‘lean 5S programme’ when he says of the new aviation centre “We will tailor our services completely to the needs of our customers and we won’t employ more people than we need”.  To be fair, he makes his point much more clearly than a management consultant who swallowed an MBA for breakfast! 🙂  That said, I don’t see Dickinson’s business acumen embedded in the lyrics of Iron Maiden’s songs, such as “The number of the beast” or “Two minutes to midnight”, even after I played them backwards …  Why did I not learn more about entrepreneurship, business continuity and economic development when I attended Iron Maiden’s comeback tour at Twickenham with my testosterone-filled 13 year old son?  We must be told …

Moving on to Andrew Sentance, Senior Economics Adviser to Price Waterhouse Coopers.  I will be featuring a full interview with Andrew shortly, but could not resist a trailer in the form of this witty piece on Meatloaf and the economy from The Evening Standard.  Andrew stands head and shoulders above the consultancy profession with his approach, which is thoughtful but also incisive.  A rare breed.

“3M” : Meatloaf, Macro-economics and Management

Without realising it, Andrew had followed an earlier piece I wrote for The Financial Times, and another I wrote which got picked up by BBC Radio 4’s flagship “Today” programme.  Here’s the article and the Radio clip:

I’m delighted to say that the FT letter prompted a US University Academic to get in touch with me.  It turned out that he had spent three years sharing a college room with Jim Steinman.  I have performed a couple of times with Meatloaf’s female singing partner – she sang on “I’d do anything for love (but I won’t do that)”.

For more posts on the economy, see Vince Cable, Can rappers fix the economy? and Evan Davis, who I bumped into the other week whilst jogging round London.  Perhaps Evan is entering the Olympics?

To finish, let’s hear that classic Iron Maiden song again to see if there is any subliminal advice about the 3A’s of regeneration:  Aerospace, Aeroflot or Aerosmith contained within, 666, the number of the beast:

Postscript – The FT published a letter I sent in re this on Tuesday 8 May:

Can I play with madness (and the economy) ?

For more like this, read the book “The Music of Business”, acclaimed by Harvey Goldsmith: