The band did a few gigs around the northeastern USA and recorded the
sessions which were released as "Mick Ronson - Just Like This".
Jay: Some of your new fans would
like to know a little bit about your background before you worked with
Ronson. What kind of bands were you in? Did you record anything we may
I have been working in rock'n'roll bands since I was 16 years old
-- bars, small clubs, pocket change. It was great just to play with
people, but to do this in public and for money -- WOW! I attended Julliard
School of Music when I was10 years old for about 5 years. I also attended
Berklee College of Music in Boston for a year. When I got my first [drum]
set the neighborhood could set their clocks to me at 1pm. daily. I would
play to all my records, Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Animals, The Young
Rascals, The Doors, Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich, anything top forty. So by
the time I got to my first band, I knew all the songs from playing with
[the records]. I did some recording, but nothing that any one would
care to hear. I have all kinds of tapes from those days including a
J: When did you first meet Mick Ronson
and how did the band and recording sessions come about?
I met Mick through a friend of a friend. It's kind of a weird story,
but basically I went to the audition with this guy who I didn't know
very well. He told Mick that we came as a bass and drums team -- which
was not true. This guy made me dress up in flash clothes thinking that
Mick would be dressed the same, but Mick was very casual laid back and
very unassuming. This was all happening at SIR studios in New York City.
We played a bit, just jamming and then left. I somehow got the feeling
I should call Mick and it was a good thing. He liked me but not the
bass player and it went from there. I think Mick Barakan was already
in the band and I'm not quite sure how Jay Davis came in to it. I have
been trying to reach Jay but, no luck. We went to Woodstock to this
great house -- one wall was just about all glass -- a fire place, a
running creek, copper bath tubs. This was in winter of 1976, snow on
the ground, just fantastic! We would sit around the fire place and just
bang it out until we had something worthwhile. Once it came together
then we went to electric instruments and worked on it till we were ready
to record. We went to Bearsville studio #2 and started to work. We set
up and the basic tracks are live. Just Like This, I'd Give Anything
To See You, Hard Life, Takin' A Train, Junkie For Your Love, Hey Grandma,
and Crazy Love were all part of the original sessions on 24 track tape.
Later in 1977 we were rehearsing for more at a smaller rehearsal room
called The Barn. The tunes, Is That Any Way, I've Got No Secrets, Hard
Headed Woman, Roll Like The River, Hard Life(ballad version), and Junky(demo)
are live right to the machine at The Barn.
I think I've been the only person to retain rough mixes all these
years. I had no idea that they were going in to production. Thank God
for Carlton Sandercock of New Millennium
Records. I've always liked this music. My faves were I'd Give Any
Thing To see You and Hard Life, in particular. I'd Give, especially
in the solo, gets so ferocious. It sure sounds like we meant what we
were playing, it feels good! Hard Life just kills me. Mick's playing
of harmonics, the pocket or feel of the song, oh man, I get goose bumps!
J: I'd Give Anything To See You seems
to be a favorite among most fans. Mick's playing is fantastic, but I
also think this is the standout track for you on the album -- the drum
sound is awesome. Did you realize at the time that this song was special?
we went in the studio the one thing I told the engineer was that I liked
the sound of Mitch Mitchells drums. The drums were the same set that
I got when I was a kid. I still have the set and use them today. As
far as recording the track, we just did the best we could.
J: Roll Like The River is listed in the
liner notes as a group composition. How did the band come up with it?
Did it come from a jam session? It has a great blues feel to it.
We would just jam a lot and use what ever sounded good. I guess,
in this case, a bluesy kind of thing was in order. The track on the
album is "what you hear is what you get". No over dubs, nothing,
it just rocks out.
J: During the guitar solo near the end
of Hard Life there are a few notes from Ziggy Stardust. Was this intentional
or was someone trying to cover up a flaw in the tapes?
Ziggy Stardust riff was intentional. It just felt good to play it there.
I asked Mick about this and he said "Why not, I wrote it".
J: Why is it that the album wasn't released
I guess the album never came out due to financial problems,
management hassles and the like. Bills for studio time were due. The
24 track tapes have been sitting in Bearsville vault all this time and
The Barn tapes I've had. This music would have never seen the light
of day if it were not for Carlton. He loved Mick dearly. It was hard
well if Carlton says so, then yes. The Buffalo gig was just before Christmas
1976. We opened for The James Gang (minus Joe Walsh) and Rush. It was
recorded right off the mixing board from the house PA. It was a reference
tape to see how we were doing. For four guys it sounds pretty heavy.
The songs are the songs we were doing at Bearsville.
not on anything else for Mick. No recordings in the 80's. I know nothing
about them. The next time I was in the studio with Mick was to watch
Ian, Mick and Harvey Goldberg mixing Back To The Bars album. Harvey
worked on the Genya Ravan album
Urban Desire. I was spending allot of time at Media Sound studios where
we were recording the Genya albums.
was not there when Mick & Ian did their tracks. I wanted to be, but
some how I missed out. But I did hear that Mick's solo was done in one
Yes, I still play alot. I do clubs sometimes. I play alot of
weddings. I meet a lot of great players at weddings who play great gigs
like Billy Joel or Gloria Estefan. So you never know what it might lead
to. Plus I have a family and I like to be home. The road is not all
it's cranked up to be. I also did a CD with a guy named Russ
Bonagura. It's a rock record and I like the tunes. I don't do something
like that unless I really like it. I wouldn't be able to give it my
all and that's not fair to the artist. Russ writes great songs and has
a great voice. The name of the album is Blue Dreams.
Interview - used with the permission of Jay Sciascia.
Top photo - courtesy of Bobby Chen
Copyright © 2000 Jay Sciascia. No part of this interview may be reprinted or quoted without the permission of the author.
Copyright©2000-2002 Richard A. Manson