Personal Notes from Wendy
About Kenny Edwards
Kenny Edwards passed away on August 18, 2010. The following was posted by Wendy Waldman the following morning.
Kenny Edwards passed away yesterday. He was my closest musical brother of some 40+ years, as he was to Karla Bonoff, whose best friend he was as well as producer, collaborator, sideman, and member with Andrew Gold, myself and Karla of Bryndle-- and he worked during the most significant years with Linda Ronstadt and many many others, the list being too long for this note.
His incredibly long and influential career as a musician first impacted so many people, there is an enormous hole in a lot of our lives today. Kenny was a magnificent musician, my mentor, my brother, my chief songwriting partner of the last 20 of those 40 years... and I don't think he realized until the very end of his life how many people loved him, and how much his music had and will have a growing impact on the world of music around us.
We spent years talking about the things we all now discuss every day--we basically made music against the darkness, always, and it was a lively debate between our friends and us--this thing of continuing on when there's no roadmap as to how to do it other than to make it up as you go along and do it--and this, after many had ridden in the limousines.
I feel today like half of my musical soul is gone, but I understand as I always have that we make music, basically cause that's what we were put here to do. In some cultures and periods of human history, artists get to be kings-in other times, we are just working people: janitors and sign painters. Having witnessed a period when some of our colleagues became kings and some of us became sign painters, it was always a difficult and challenging proposition to remain flexible, low to the ground, passionate, excited, knowing that the ability to really kick ass with a song is a gift from God--Kenny had that in spades, as much as it pained him so at times to live through the transition. Nothing mattered more to us than the music, and we were intent on growing, and Kenny did to the very last day of his life. He was getting better and better.
There was a place he was getting to just now as an artist--and this is what I mourn the most. I saw where he was going, and how we could have used that music on this planet at this time!
But my son Abe,who enjoyed many intense and joyous moments of musical discussion with Ken, reminded me that Beethoven died ten years younger than Kenny, as did Joe Strummer, Chris Whitley, Chopin-- and there would have been more music there too--imagine it. We are so lucky to have what we have from all of these great musicians, it is the greatest treasure, and really the only treasure we can keep.
I am the luckiest woman on earth because I made a ton of music with Kenny Edwards from the time I was 18 years old until even now, when I have tracks of his I have to mix, somehow. I am grateful for the time I had with him and I hope all of our friends will enjoy the great music he left for us in all kinds of incarnations, starting with the Stone Poneys until his newest, magnificent cd, Resurrection Road.
About Andrew Gold
Andrew Gold passed away on June 3, 2011. The following interview with Wendy Waldman was conducted by the LA Times the day after the passing of her friend and musical collaborator.
LA Times: Can you talk about him as a person and what gifts he had as a musician?
Wendy Waldman: I went to high school with Andrew, and our fathers were friends and colleagues. We started playing music together when I was 14 and he was 13 or so. It was already clear that he was tremendously gifted, and was definitely going to go his own way, with his own style. We were very close friends and collaborators for many years.
Andrew was an enormously brilliant, lively, inquisitive, and sometimes, tortured soul. He defaulted to joy whenever possible, and his sense of humor, from the time I knew him at 13, was always expansive, delightful, and wicked.
The general public does not know that Andrew was one of the most gifted musicians of our times-he was, without a doubt, a genius. He had a photographic 'ear', if I can say that. He would hear something, down to the subtlest inversion or nuance--and capture it perfectly. As a kid he was a tremendous Beatles fan, and he studied, and absorbed, perfectly, their entire catalog. He was the only person I ever knew who could truly and perfectly reproduce the exact voicings, licks, settings, precise instrument used, everything--in a Beatles tune, a Byrds tune, in a Beach Boys tune, a Led Zeppelin tune or anything else that really rocked his world--long before the internet, cds, or any way to take pop music apart except by ear. He listened to everything under the sun, and absorbed with a terrifying accuracy--it was something I always admired and found fascinating about him. He and I shared all kinds of music with each other, as we did with Kenny Edwards--and Andrew had a habit of falling in love with certain songs, and going as deeply as anyone can into learning how that music was constructed--and also, shouting to the world that this was something everyone needed to hear.
He was an extraordinary guitarist, pianist, drummer, and record producer. One of the finest I've ever known. I believe that "You're No Good, " the wonderful Linda Ronstadt track, was basically all Andrew, with one track of Kenny Edwards. We need to check that for accuracy, but I think you'll find that I'm pretty close. I believe Andrew is playing drums on that one too. His harmonic sensibility, the melodic style embedded in his dna, was very refined, adventurous, always surprising, and very broad. Of course, he was the son of a great composer and a great singer, and the apple fell not far from the tree.
Another thing about Andrew that people don't know--he was as gifted a visual artist as he was a musician. As a young man, he had a moment of decision whether to pursue art or music. I'm glad for the choice he made.
LA: How did he fit in the development of the country rock sound that developed in LA in the 1970s?
WW: In the amazing soup of California folk rock music that was brewing in the late 60s and the early 70s, there were some key moments of hybridization and cross pollinization--people meeting people, people learning from each other, and sharing the music they arrived with. I'm talking about the arrival of guys like JD Souther and Glen Frey, the emergence of Jackson Browne, the great bands such as the Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds , Taj Mahal and his astonishing band--there were so many amazing moments in this world that was being born. Such a moment was when Andrew, who was a pop rock musician at heart already by the time he was 16, started working with Kenny Edwards, and myself, who were more influenced by traditional blues and ethnic American mountain music--and Karla Bonoff, whose influences were some of the more sophisticated emerging singer songwriters. Kenny had already played with Ronstadt in the Stone Poneys when Andrew and I met him. We formed Bryndle, which was based on our songwriting, our 4 part harmonies, and the hybrid sound that came about between Andrew and Karla's influences, and Kenny's and mine. I explain this now because when Bryndle split up (to be reunited in the 90s, I'm now so happy and so sad to say-) Kenny and Andrew went into Linda's band, and the soup heated up.
In the Stone Poneys, Linda, Kenny Edwards, and Bobby Kimmel had been exploring, back in the late 60s, a combination of blues, country, gospel and pop. They had toured across America as a folk trio, playing with both the likes of the Chambers Brothers and Bill Monroe--and when they arrived in LA, (Kenny being a native Angeleno) they were already carrying with them the seeds of the new music that would be born in California. In the new Ronstadt band, Andrew, ever the greatest ear in town, absorbed not only all that Kenny and LInda had to share with him, but was able in turn add to it his absolute passion for rock and pop music. Combined with his stunning accuracy in the studio, and the very wise guidance of producer Peter Asher, the soup came to perfection in the early Ronstadt albums. I remind us all that the Stone Poneys, Bryndle, and Ronstadt as a solo "folk rock" artist all pre-dated the formation of the Eagles, who were on one tour, HER backup band. As it was a small community, every new idea resonated around town, and the water rose, carrying all the boats.
Andrew developed a sound that was accurate, melodic, soulful, and that drew on everything he had heard, from Robert Johnson to Led Zeppelin, to the Byrds, to Paul McCartney--and he brought it into the studio with the full arsenal he possessed: his fantastic technique, his incredible and original sense of melody, his love of recording, and his extreme enthusiasm for making music.
LA: Linda Ronstadt talked about meeting Andrew at a Stone Poneys concert at Oakwood School, which I think is North Hollywood, do you have memories of that?
WW: How could I forget? We were at Oakwood, and our teacher, mentor, first husband and dear friend Ken Waldman, brought the Stone Poneys to do a concert for us. He had known them as a music fan not only in Arizona, where he had grown up around the Ronstadts, but later when he was in Cambridge, at Harvard, and a fan of the Club 47, a host in his apartment for his musical friends on tour such as the Stone Poneys and the Jim Kweskin Jug Band. Andrew, his best friend and my long time collaborator Peter Bernstein and I came to this concert and were blown away by the trio of Ronstadt, Edwards, and Kimmel. We already had a jug band by then--with Carl Stone on washboard (now a well known avant garde composer) and Jimmy Wood, the great soul and blues singer in LA--we were all between the ages of 13 and 16 when we saw the Stone Poneys. Little did we know that within four years, Andrew and I would be in a band with Kenny Edwards and Karla Bonoff, and shortly thereafter, they would be playing and making hits, and changing the world in the studio with Ronstadt.
People don't know the history of southern California folk rock, what you call California country. But all around the world, this music has proven to be one of the largest catalog sales, and most enduring of all forms of American pop music. It became fashionable to make fun of it, and even Andrew, when he had his solo hits, became for a time, a punching bag for the press, which had turned on the Los Angeles sound of the 70s with a vengeance by the early 80s--it just wasn't hip anymore. But around the world, this music, built in so many ways on the pillars of the work of the early Ronstadt band, my beloved colleagues, Peter Asher, and others like them in the community, will live a long time, and continue to inspire generations, as it has in Nashville and elsewhere.
LA: Can you talk about Bryndle, the kind of music you produced.
WW: Bryndle was the musical love of my life. We are so blessed that there are finally some recordings of us, some recordings I'm really proud of.
We formed the band at the end of the 60s--to write songs, to do 4 part harmony, to find new land between the blues and ethnic music of Kenny and myself, and the crisp, clean gorgeous sound of Karla Bonoff, and the walking musical encyclopedia that was Andrew. We formed before the Eagles, long before the pop incarnation of Fleetwood Mac--we had no idea what we were doing, but we were magical. We blew apart, but we each went out into the industry and played key roles, carrying with us the imprint of our work together and what we had discovered. We became studio players, producers, songwriters, backup singers and writers on countless records--our vocal sound was and still is familiar but unknown. After Ronstadt, Andrew became a hit artist, Kenny produced Karla's hit records, I went to Nashville--but we never forgot our roots. Bryndle had true sibling harmony, and it's evident in all of our recorded music. We broke up too early, but we were blessed to reunite many years later.
Tonight my heart is broken, but I'm lucky to have worked with and loved Andrew Gold, who was a magnificent human being, brilliant musician , great father, and great character--and with the wonderful, and deeply missed Kenny Edwards, who was my musical twin--and to have still, in sorrow, my dear Karla Bonoff.
About Fred Steiner
Fred Steiner passed away on June 23, 2011. The following was posted by Wendy Waldman later the same day.
My father, Fred Steiner the humble, gentle and extraordinary genius, great composer, scholar, thinker, and true man of grace, died today in Mexico. His family was with him. He was quiet, refined, courageous, and the breadth of his mind was immense. He and my mother, Shirley Steiner, were married 64 years. I wish so many of my friends could have known my dad, who was a great man.
My father, Fred Steiner, one of the last of the great Hollywood composers, died today in Mexico.
He came west in the late 40s to work in television and he was one of the most successful television composers of all time, having written the astonishing "Perry Mason" theme, the infectious second Rocky and Bullwinkle theme, years and years of Gunsmoke, Twilight Zone, Star Trek, Have Gun Will Travel, countless other shows, and many many animated shows as he was a marvelous animation composer as well. He became a well known scholar, was a great conductor, and was the last man standing from what is really the golden age of film and television music. His crowd all came of age together and remained close for their entire lives: Elmer Bernstein, Jerry Goldsmith, my dad, Bernard Herrmann, Henry Mancini, Hugo Friedhofer, Alfred Newman, and a host of others, who defined the world's idea of what movie and television music is supposed to be.
Their like will never be seen again. It was truly a unique period in American culture, and Fred was part of it, and witnessed it. His generation, which was really the next generation after guys like Gershwin and Eric Korngold, Max Steiner, moved west and became, a handful of them, the designers of music that will resonate for generations around the world. People may not even know their names. But my father was one of them.