Hello. I’m Gavin Edwards, contributing editor at Rolling Stone and the author of Last Night at the Viper Room, the ’Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy series, and (with the original MTV VJs) the New York Times bestseller VJ. I live in Charlotte, North Carolina. I like caffeine, boardgames, and lists with three items.

On Sale Now: Can I Say

canisay2I am pleased and proud to announce that Can I Say: Living Large, Cheating Death, and Drums Drums Drums is on sale today. It’s by Travis Barker and Gavin Edwards (hey, that’s me!): it tells the story of Travis’s crazy life, which includes playing drums for Blink-182 and the Transplants, having his mother die the day before he started high school, having Suge Knight perform a “marriage ceremony” for himself and Paris Hilton, building a multimillion dollar apparel company, watching his children bond on tour with Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj–and much much more, including the details of the horrific plane crash that killed four people and left Travis in burn centers for months. It also includes dozens of interviews with associates and bandmates (and ex-wives and ex-bandmates!), sharing their side of the story. Travis was always the quiet member of Blink-182, but here he tells everything about his own life, like never before–it’s essential reading if you’re a fan (and maybe even if you’re not). You may have already seen Travis discussing it on Good Morning America or in the pages of US Weekly; Billboard ran a great interview with him and called the book “riveting, brutally honest.”

You can buy the book right now from just about anywhere that sells books, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s, and your local bookstore (tell them I say hi!). Travis doesn’t fly anymore (for obvious reasons), but he’ll be doing a bunch of signings in California this week, kicking off with the Barnes & Noble at the Grove in L.A. tonight. Check out his website for details. And enjoy the book!

posted 20 October 2015 in Buy My Stuff. no comments yet

Friday Foto: X Marks the Sun

sunxPhotographed in June of this year at one of the cradles of American music: Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee. The X marks the spot on the floor where singers (including Elvis Presley) were directed to stand to get the best sound.

posted 16 October 2015 in Photos. no comments yet

Album Initials Quiz

Can you identify famous albums just from the initials of their titles? For example, presented with H. O. T. H., can you puzzle out that we’re talking about Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy? (I leave it to you to decide whether the ice planet Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back is a subtle Zep tribute from George Lucas.) Does M. O. M. M. lead you to Stevie Wonder and the great album Music of My Mind? Then you’re ready to play the Album Initials Quiz.

Below you will find a list of 20 albums, reduced just to the initial letters of their titles. I have not included any punctuation: if there are any commas, apostrophes, or parentheses in the original title, they’ve been ignored. And I’ve made no distinctions between words that were upper-case or lower-case in the original title: every single word has been reduced to a single letter.

The albums’ release dates range from 1965 to 2015. I can’t guarantee you’ll know every single record, but none of them are particularly obscure. These are mostly very famous albums, in genres including rock, pop, hip-hop, and R&B. Most of them were major chart hits and/or the sort of album you’ll find on greatest-records-ever-made lists; even the lesser-known entries are well-regarded albums by major artists. I’m not trying to stump you with import-only collections of B-sides.

Give yourself one point for each time you identify the artist behind the album. I’ll put the answer key up in the comments section later today. Have fun!

1. A. T. W. I. A. D.

2. A. T. Y. C. L. B.

3. B. I. A. B. H.

4. C. W. O. A. G. R.

5. D. O. T. E. O. T.

6. E. K. T. I. N.

7. I. D. N. W. W. I. H. G.

8. I. T. A. N. O. M. T. H. U. B.

9. I. T. H. A. T. T. T. D.

10. I. Y. R. T. I. T. L.

11. M. B. D. T. F.

12. M. S. A. B. A. F.

13. M. S. K. Y. O.

14. N. M. T. B. H. T. S. P.

15. N. S. F. T. O. C.

16. T. B. Y. M. L.

17. T. K. A. T. V. G. P. S.

18. T. M. O. L. H.

19. T. R. A. F. O. Z. S. A. T. S. F. M.

20. W. T. P. H. T. C. H. T. L. A. K. W. H. K. T. T. B. W. H. G. T. T. F. A. H. W. T. W. T. F. H. E. T. R. T. N. B. T. B. W. Y. M. I. Y. M. S. W. Y. G. S. Y. H. Y. O. H. A. R. T. D. I. T. G. O. H. A. I. Y. K. W. Y. S. T. Y. K. W. T. L. A. I. Y. F. I. W. M. C. Y. K. T. Y. R.

posted 14 October 2015 in Tasty Bits. 4 comments

Spaghetti Incident Report

spaghetti incidentWhen I interviewed Velvet Revolver a decade ago, I got to clear up some of the Guns N’ Roses mysteries I had long wondered about. For example: was the worst job in rock ‘n’ roll the guy who had to keep on returning Axl Rose’s microphone stand to an upright position when he knocked it over dozens of times per concert? (Yeah, pretty much.)

I even got a lucid explanation as to the meaning of the title of the band’s cover album, “The Spaghetti Incident?”–and in context, the quotation marks make sense. But the one thing the former Gunners couldn’t explain was a tiny coded message on the bottom of the front cover. Duff McKagan said he had never even noticed it; Slash said that he had once known what it meant, but had forgotten (dude was a nice guy, but let’s face it, he killed a lot of brain cells).

A couple of years later, however, some fans on a Guns N’ Roses message board figured it out. (I apologize for being seven years late with this news–and I thank John Darnielle, the genius behind the band The Mountain Goats and the novel Wolf in White Van, for pointing me in the right direction.) Axl was using the substitution cipher invented by the Zodiac Killer, who claimed a bunch of victims in northern California in the late 60s and early 70s, and then disappeared into the annals of true-crime fame, revived only by the 2007 David Fincher movie Zodiac.) This totally fits Axl’s personality, or the nihilistic-asshole side of it that thought it’d be kicky to cover a Charles Manson song. You can read the message-board conversation starting here if you’re curious, but here’s the bottom line: the hidden message was “FUCK EM ALL.” Words of wisdom from W. Axl Rose.

posted 13 October 2015 in Archives. no comments yet

R.I.P. Gail Zappa 1945-2015

Gail Zappa, best known as Frank Zappa’s widow, was reported yesterday to have died, possibly from lung cancer. My sympathies to her family and all who knew and loved her.

A few years ago, when researching Last Night at the Viper Room, I discovered that River Phoenix, at age sixteen, spent many nights hanging out at the Zappa house, which was a special place to be, in no small part because of Gail Zappa. “It was a really wild, eclectic mix of actors that would hang out at the Zappa family house,” musician and TV journalist Frank Meyer told me. “Some famous TV star would walk in and go off with Moon. Dweezil would be waiting for Warren DeMartini of Ratt to waltz in so they could go jam. And then Frank would just wander in, in his robe, and he’d make peanut butter toast, smoke cigarettes, and chit chat with the kids. He was actually very friendly, in his mysterious rock-star kind of way. There was a no-holds barred vibe at the Zappa compound, but it was weird, because Dweezil’s parents were around constantly. They just chose to give a shit about different things than your parents did. You could curse with the Zappas, openly curse. You could tell Gail to fuck off. She might come down unbelievably hard on you, but she wouldn’t come down on you for the cursing part. She’d come down on you for maybe being disrespectful or for having an immature, uninformed opinion, but you could curse around them as long as what you were saying was informed and made sense. Gail and Frank, they took you seriously. If you were there, hanging out with their kids, you were a real person to them and your opinion mattered. It was a very creative and intellectual place to be, especially for a young person when a lot of adults didn’t take you seriously.”

posted 8 October 2015 in News. 2 comments

Buried Treasure

fannyhillI got this crazy idea some months back: I would read every record review printed by Rolling Stone in the 1970s and compile a list of the albums that had gotten rave reviews but were now obscure or forgotten. (It was inspired by a similar feature they did last year for the 60s–but the magazine wasn’t around for most of that decade.) It turned out to be a lot of fun, but much more time-consuming than expected, even skimming most of the reviews. By the end of it, I had a list of 100 albums that most people, even music fans, wouldn’t know. (I listened to most of them, but I was basing my decisions off what Rolling Stone‘s reviewers had said at the time, not my own personal taste.)

We divided them up by genre: rock, blues, R&B, folk, country, singer-songwriter, jazz, weird stuff. Go check them out and then go do some listening! (My personal favorite: Fanny.)

posted 13 August 2015 in Outside. no comments yet

VJ Sale!

vjbookNo, you can’t actually purchase Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, Alan Hunter, or Martha Quinn. But you can buy the New York Times bestselling book we wrote together, VJ: The Unplugged Adventures of MTV’s First Wave, described by Rolling Stone as “a highly entertaining snapshot of a wild-frontier moment in pop culture.”

In celebration of the 34th anniversary of MTV, Atria has temporarily reduced the price of VJ to just $1.99 for the e-book: click and enjoy!

posted 3 August 2015 in Buy My Stuff. no comments yet

Live Aid-a-versary

Thirty years ago today, lots of bands played in an epic concert in both London and Philadelphia, seeking to do something about famine in Africa (with mixed results).

Two years ago, I wrote up a list of the some of the Live Aid highlights that might jog memories (or send you down the YouTube rabbit hole).

Last year, I did a blow-by-blow writeup of U2’s performance of “Bad.”

Nothing new this year (moving across the country will do that), but I have a special project planned for next year. Now go watch Bowie’s set!

posted 13 July 2015 in Links. 2 comments

Parenthetical Rock Quiz

parenthesesCan you recognize song titles just from the sections that are in parentheses? If I throw “(She’s So Heavy)” at you, do you know the artist is the Beatles and the complete title is “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”? Given “(Into the Black),” can you come back with Neil Young’s “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)? Then it’s time to test your PPQ (Parenthetical Power Quotient).

Below you will find a list of 25 songs–or more precisely, their parenthetical sections. Some of them are screamingly obvious; some of them will likely be stumpers. But none of the songs are particularly obscure: they are mostly well-known singles (including a bunch of chart-toppers). There’s a few album tracks sprinkled in, drawn from famous discs (the type that end up on greatest-albums-ever lists). The list skews in a rockish direction, but also includes pop, R&B, and hip-hop.

Give yourself a point for each song title that you can complete, and another point if you can name the artist. (There’s 25 songs, so you can score a maximum PPQ of 50 points.) I’ll put the answer key up in the comments section later in the day. Have (lots of) fun!

1. “(But I Won’t Do That)”
2. “(Can’t Live Without Your)”
3. “(Do It Right)”
4. “(Don’t Don’t Do It)”
5. “(The Ecology)”
6. “(For a Film)”
7. “(For Massenet)”
8. “(For Me)”
9. “(From the Shell)”
10. “(Gonna Be Alright)”
11. “(I’m A…)”
12. “(Nothing But)”
13. “(People It’s Bad)”
14. “(Pure Energy)”
15. “(Rock the Catskills)”
16. “(Roy)”
17. “(She’s)”
18. “(Sittin’ On)”
19. “(Three Different Ones)”
20. “(Tunnels)”
21. “(We Salute You)”
22. “(We’re Gonna)”
23. “(White Man)”
24. “(Who Loves Me)”
25. “(Wish I Could Fly Like)”

posted 10 July 2015 in Tasty Bits. 3 comments

Rolling in the Deep: 1/16/15

1035x1408-R1227CoverStevieNicksI’ve been busy lately–busy enough that I haven’t been telling you what I’ve been working on. But if you’d like to catch up on my recent writing for Rolling Stone, then I have links galore. For the print magazine, I wrote about Bill Murray (!), interviewed the Duplass Brothers (again), met Meghan Trainor (print version not online, but this Q&A is) and profiled Selma director Ava DuVernay (with some additional conversation with her found here).

Online, I conducted Q&As with Colin Meloy of the Decemberists, Terry Crews, Michael Schur, and Tunde Adebimpe and Dave Sitek of TV on the Radio. I attended a screening of The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, hosted by the RZA; the all-star “We Can Survive” benefit, featuring Taylor Swift; a live interview of Jimmy Page by Chris Cornell; a retro hipster boxing match; and the American Music Awards. I broke down some live clips of the Rolling Stones, the Foo Fighters, the Beastie Boys, and Motley Crue. I reviewed a couple of books: one by George Clinton, one about Prince. Also, I interviewed the surviving Doors and listed 20 album covers that notoriously got censored.

Did I mention I wrote about Bill Murray? More Bill Murray here. (Have you ever had an encounter with Bill Murray? The comments section beckons!)

posted 16 January 2015 in Outside. no comments yet