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Emitt Rhodes: The Radio Interviews

Emitt Rhodes' debut solo album was released in November of 1970. The Beatles had fallen apart earlier in the year, and people were already missing them. Many, upon hearing Emitt's album, hoped for a moment that it might actually be a new Beatles record. After all, the rumor in the past year or so was that the master tapes to a complete, brand-new, never released Beatles album had been stolen from the recording studio, never to be recovered. Maybe this was the famous stolen album, released under a false name. The songs certainly sounded very much like the Beatles. If they listened long enough, though, most people realized it wasn't. Some weren't so sure, however.

One of those people was Barry Richards, a radio DJ for WHMC in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Having heard the album and noticing the similarity to the Beatles' music, he began a "crusade" to uncover the truth. Actually, he probably smelled a nice little publicity stunt in the making. He began playing cuts from the album, more than implying that it was the Beatles in disguise. One day, he played the entire album twice in a row, asking listeners to call in and express their views as to whether or not it was really the Beatles or this mysterious guy named Emitt Rhodes.

Fortunately for us, a fifteen-year old Beatles fan by the name of Jennifer DeBernardis was listening to the program that day and decided to record it on her father's reel-to-reel tape recorder, carefully holding a microphone up to her clock radio to pick up the sound. What she captured is an interesting glimpse back to 1970 and the birth of Emitt Rhodes' career. The real payoff, however, came days later when Barry actually made contact with and interviewed Emitt himself. The mysterious would-be Beatles turned out to be a soft-spoken, slightly reticent twenty-year old young man from California. This conversation (during which Richards was intent on dredging up "Paul Is Dead" references) was also preserved on Jennifer's tape, along with an in-studio interview conducted a week later when Richards managed to get Emitt across the country to Gaithersburg. Once there, RThe day after this last interview, Emitt would perform his very first solo gig.

Jennifer was kind enough to supply me with a copy of the historic tape and I present to you its content below. You may listen to the clips by either downloading the MP3 file or letting the RealAudio file stream to your computer (the second option is probably the most practical, though the sound quality of the MP3 is better. For more help with listening to the files, click here.) Since the recording is not the clearest in the world, I have taken time to transcribe what is said for better comprehension.

CLIP 1 (411 KB) (streaming)

Barry Richards: [first part of sentence is missing]... Emitt Rhodes, who could be the Beatles. Now, I'll tell you my theory on it. All right, now let me tell you what's happening here. I found an album on Dunhill records by a guy called Emitt Rhodes, who sounds so much like the Beatles it's unreal. Now, I've heard about the stolen Beatles tape, which supposedly happened about a year ago, at a session, and Rolling Stone magazine ran a story on it also. Now, I'm not saying this IS the Beatles or it ISN'T the Beatles; it's up to you to tell me, and a lot of people seem to think it is. We have somebody on the telephone. I think the girl's name is Laurie Jacobs. Is this Laurie Jacobs? [she apparently is not connected] I don't believe that. All right, I'll tell you what we're gonna do, we'll play you a cut from the album, and then we'll talk to Laurie Jacobs, who works at the Naval hospital in Bethesda. Let's play another cut. Now you tell me: is this the Beatles? [start "You Take The Dark Out Of The Night"]


CLIP 2 (1.7 MB) (streaming)

Barry Richards: That was whoever it was, the Beatles or Emitt Rhodes. That cut was called "You Take The Dark Out Of The Night." The cuts you heard before that, since six o'clock, we're "You Should Be Ashamed" and "Somebody Made For Me." Now, who do we have on the telephone?

Laurie Jacobs: Laurie Jacobs.

BR: Laurie, where do you live?

LJ: I live in Bethesda, Maryland.

BR: And where do you work?

LJ: I work over at the Naval hospital in Bethesda.

BR: What do you do there?

LJ: I'm a secretary.

BR: Okay, you were saying that you and your husband were disagreeing on something, right?

LJ: Right. On the way home from work tonight, we happened to be tuned in to you all, and the question came up "Is this the Beatles or is it not?" And, my husband seems to think that it possibly is the Beatles.

BR: Why?

LJ: Because of, he says, the way they sing and the style and the sound of it. And he was telling me about a record, a song that was written for Peter & Gordon, called "Woman."

BR: I think I remember that. That was 1967, right?

LJ: Somewhere around in there. We couldn't remember when it was. And he was saying how there was a fictional name given for the composer of the song, which turned out to be Lennon & McCartney.

BR: Well, how did you find out that it was Lennon & McCartney?

LJ: My husband is UP on the Beatles records, and he saw it somewhere. I don't know whether an article was written or something, but it came out that McCartney and Lennon were the composers.

BR: So, what do you think about the song?

LJ: Excuse me?

BR: What do you think? If you're husband thinks that it is the Beatles, what do you think?

LJ: I think that this album is not the Beatles.

BR: Why?

LJ: Because of the way, supposedly, Paul McCartney sang the song "Fresh As A Daisy." There was one note in there that was definitely not hit at the right tone. And if this was Paul McCartney, he's not going to be singing off key. It's this one particular note [that] was off key. And also the way that they end their phrases. They hang on to them too long, and to me it just does not seem like something that the Beatles would be doing. I mean, knowing that they are good musicians and they have an awful lot of knowledge of music, this does not seem to me to be very much like what they would be singing.

BR: Well, let me ask you this: Why do you think this guy sounds so much like the Beatles, musically, sound-wise, vocally-wise -- even the lyrics sound like something the Beatles would write.

LJ: Well, I mean, I have only listened to the Beatles occasionally, and I feel that I could tell a difference. I mean, at least to me. Like when their records first came out, and this record -- like I say, the endings of the phrases are just not the way that they had done it in the past, if this is the Beatles. And I just don't think it is.

BR: Okay, thank you Laurie.

LJ: You're welcome.

BR: Bye, bye.

LJ: Bye.


CLIP 3 (685 KB) (streaming)

Barry Richards: Let's go back the the Emitt Rhodes album, or the Beatles album, whichever you want to call it. All right, you tell me who you think that is. The Beatles? Or is that Emitt Rhodes, like it says? The cuts you heard were "Ever Find Yourself Running" and, listen to this title, "Live Till You Die," and "Long Time No See." Huh? Wonder if we'll ever know or not. I'm still trying to get ahold of Dennis Levinthal, who is Vice-President of Dunhill Records. I'll also try to get ahold of George Harrison. WHMC. Yeah, who is this?

CALLER: You said to call and tell if you think it's the Beatles or not?

BR: Yeah, right. Do you think it's the Beatles?

CALLER: Yeah, I do. But, I don't think it's the stolen album, because, the thing is, I heard about the stolen album, and they said it's supposed to have "Here Comes The Sun" on it, and that one doesn't have it, and I haven't heard it all, but --

BR: Yeah, that's not on this album. All right, Ann. You go to school or you work?

CALLER: I go to school.

BR: Where?

CALLER: Marshall.

BR: Okay, thank you for calling.

CALLER: You're welcome.

BR: Bye, bye.



CLIP 4 (822 KB) (streaming)

Barry Richards: Let's play you the second side now of the Emitt Rhodes album... or the Beatles. [plays "With My Face On The Floor."] That's Emitt Rhodes, or the Beatles possibly. [As] a lot of people have called and said. "With My Face On The Floor," that's the title of that cut. Thirty three minutes after the hour of six o'clock now, and we have somebody on the phone. Who am I talking to?

MARK RIGSBY: Mark Rigsby.

BR: Where do you live, Mark?

MR: In Silver Spring.

BR: You go to school or you work?

MR: I go to Georgetown.

BR: All right, what's you want to tell me about Emitt Rhodes?

MR: Well, personally, I think it sounds a great deal like the Beatles, but I think it's not the Beatles, or if it is, it has to be [only] one of them, because all the lead vocals seems like one person singing. To me it sounds like it'd have to be either Harrison or McCartney, and I doubt it would be Harrison, because I don't think he could play all the instruments. And I think, if anybody, it'd probably be a solo album by McCartney. But, I think it has too much of an English accent to be McCartney.

BR: So what you're saying is, you don't know who it is.

MR: No, I agree sorta with Steve Halger, he said that he thought they stole the tapes? I think they probably didn't only steal the instrumentals, but it probably had the vocals too. So when they, the people whoever recorded it, probably recorded it without the original vocals and put in their own vocals.

BR: All right. I appreciate you calling.

MR: Okay, thank you.

BR: Bye, bye.


CLIP 5 (685 KB) (streaming)

Barry Richards: All right, we have somebody else on the telephone. Who's this?

Charlotte Walker: This is Charlotte Walker.

BR: Where do you live, Charlotte.

CW: I live in Gaithersburg.

BR: You live in Gaithersburg. You work, housewife or what?

CW: Housewife.

BR: Housewife, all right. What do you want to tell me?

CW: Well, like I know when the Beatles were first starting, it was the cool thing to listen to their voices so you could imitate them, you know imitate your favorite Beatle.

BR: It was? Okay.

CW: Yeah, so I like got into listening to the voices. And when the new albums came out I would dissect them and see if I could tell which person was singing different cuts. As far as this album goes, I think that the instruments really sound like the Beatles, but the voices don't. And I think possibly it could be, you know, the stolen tape and they dubbed in somebody else's voices.

BR: All right, how old are you, Charlotte?

CW: Umm, nineteen.

BR: Nineteen. Do you follow the Beatles pretty carefully?

CW: Oh, yeah. Since about when they came out.

BR: And you definitely don't think it's the Beatles?

CW: Well, I'm not sure, because the voices are of poor quality and you can't pick out too well. But, I don't think it is their voices.

BR: All right, thank you for calling.

CW: Uh-huh.

BR: Bye, bye.

CW: Bye.


CLIP 6 (685 KB) (streaming)

Barry Richards: Back now to Emitt Rhodes, or the Beatles. Who do you think that is, Emitt Rhodes or the Beatles? It's a mixed opinion. That's the thing. You know, all this Emitt Rhodes/Beatle thing has got me cuckoo. You tell me if you think the Beatles are the Beatles or Emitt Rhodes is Emitt Rhodes. I don't know, maybe the Beatles will be Emitt Rhodes, who knows. Emitt Rhodes or the Beatles. You've heard the entire album twice now, all the way through. Split opinions. I don't know what we're gonna do. We need to have him do a television show or a concert or something. Of course it will be a little hard to duplicate his sound, seeing how he says he plays all the instruments and he does all the vocals and he wrote everything. It's one person doing everything. So that would kind of leave out a personal appearance. Other than that, I'm still trying to get a hold of Dennis Levinthal, who is the man from ABC/Dunhill records on the coast. He's out, he's been out to lunch for a long time. Also, I'm trying to get ahold of George Harrison, who is in New York City. Neither one of these people have returned our calls, but as soon as we find out, we'll put it on the air. That's about it. I guess we'll stop taking the calls on whether you think it's the Beatles or not.


Here ends the call-in program.

The following clip is a long-distance phone interview Barry Richards conducted with Emitt days later. Emitt is talking from the Dunhill offices.


CLIP 7 (3 MB) (streaming)

Barry Richards: Whether you believe this or not, this is for real. We have Emitt Rhodes on the telephone in Los Angeles. Emitt, you're coming out of a speaker. Can you hear what I'm saying now?

Emitt Rhodes: Right on.

BR: Where do we start?

ER: I don't know. Where do you want to start?

BR: I don't know. Who are you?

ER: I'm Emitt Rhodes.

BR: You're Emitt Rhodes. Where are you right now?

ER: I'm in the Dunhill offices.

BR: The Dunhill offices in Los Angeles. How long did it take you to do your album?

ER: It took me about nine months. In my garage, my parents garage.

BR: Really? Where do you live?

ER: I live in Hawthorne. It's about three miles from LA International.

BR: You were with a group called the Merry-Go-Round, right?

ER: Right, I was the lead singer.

BR: How long ago was that?

ER: Oh, it must be around two years ago now.

BR: The big question, I guess, that's on everyone's mind, it's on my mind, did you make the album with the intention of sounding like the Beatles?

ER: I just wanted to sound as good as I possibly could and that's just the way it came out.

BR: Has anybody out of Los Angeles ever come up with the idea that it's a long-lost Beatle album?

ER: No, not really.

BR: What are the stories, there's alot of record stores around here, and the people in the record stores say there are clues on the album to the Beatles and McCartney...

ER: No, none at all. None whatsoever.

BR: Just a wild album cover. You played all the instruments. How many overdubs did you make on this?

ER: I played all together like seven or eight instruments on each track, sang the vocals and did the background.

BR: And it took you nine months.

ER: Nine months. It took me quite a while because I bought a machine and did it in my garage.

BR: What is this thing you're sitting at in the center of the album?

ER: That's my studio. It's about ten by twenty, but the picture makes it look much bigger.

BR: How long have you been singing completely?

ER: Oh, uh, must be like five years now. Maybe a little longer.

BR: You got a dynamite album and I'm serious when I say this, not because you're on the telephone, it's like the business to me has been kind of like -- alot of things have been sounding alike and there hasn't really been much excitement, but I really got excited when I heard your album.

ER: Thank you. That's quite a compliment.

BR: And I think the album is going to be Top Ten, whether anybody thinks you're the Beatles or whatever it is. The album is basically one of the most fantastic things I've ever heard.

ER: Thanks again.

BR: You're going to be in Washington next week, right?

ER: Yeah.

BR: Beautiful. We're gonna have you out here at the station. We'll have you do the television show while you're here.

ER: I look forward to meeting you.

BR: How many instruments do you play?

ER: I play drums, bass, rhythm guitar, lead guitar, piano, organ, tambourine and maracas.

BR: What do you do when you do a personal appearance?

ER: I have a group that backs me up.

BR: Anyone that we'd know in the group?

ER: I doubt it. Just friends of mine.

BR: How is the album doing all over the country? I know it's like the hottest selling album in Washington.

ER: I think it's doing very well. I really can't say.

BR: This is your first album for Dunhill, right.

ER: This is my first album for Dunhill, right.

BR: You were on how many record labels before this?

ER: I was on A&M.

BR: Just one label.

ER: Yes. I've done two albums; one with the Merry-Go-Round and one by myself on A&M, but which hasn't been released yet.

BR: I'm sure it will come out now. What is the significance of this window on the front with the hinge on it that you're looking out of with all the glass busted in it?

ER: None whatsoever. I wanted to call the album "Homecooking" because I did it in my garage, like I said before. But it didn't come out. But the photographer, though, took the pictures in a burnt down house, thought it was appropriate.

BR: And what about, uh, I don't even want to get into all that, it's kind of ridiculous, but you really sound amazingly like -- the tracks -- alot of people swore that you were McCartney or that you were Lennon or something. Which I consider dynamite, outasite.

ER: It's quite a compliment.

BR: But how do you consider the fact that you sound like them, even in some of the old Merry-Go-Round records...

ER: I don't know. I guess because they're the biggest influence on my music, I would imagine.

BR: Melody Maker, a British newspaper, has also said that you've given Paul McCartney guitar lessons. Is that true?

ER: [laughs] No.

BR: That's Melody Maker from England.

ER: Hmmmm.

BR: That's another little thing that somebody thought you had something to do with the Beatles. Like some of the titles, like "Live Till You Die," which they thought had some reference to McCartney or something.

ER: No, no.

BR: On the back of the album, what is laying there in that room? It's not a body is it?

ER: No, it's a piano, a burnt down piano.

BR: Really? How about, there's one spot here, I don't have the album with the clues supposedly on it, but there's one part here where the flowers or the willows that you have here... the flowers in the back. What is this thing here...

ER: It's probably a tree. I don't have a copy of the album either, so I can't say.

BR: But that looks like the same thing that's on the Beatles' album, on Abbey Road.

ER: I didn't know.

BR: It's the same type of tree or something or other. I don't know. [They both laugh.] That's wild. What do you think about all this?

ER: I think it's great. I worked hard on the album and I tried to do something as good as I possibly could. I tried to make each track as strong as I possibly could. And I'm fairly pleased with it.

BR: Which track do you like best, "Fresh As A Daisy?"

ER: Ummm, no. I like "Long Time No See."

BR: "Fresh As A Daisy" seems to be getting the most --

ER: I like it too. I do.

BR: No, no, "Long Time No See" is beautiful too.

ER: Well, it's personal, that's why I like it the most.

BR: That's another thing I want to get to. What do some of these songs have reference to?

ER: I think that would be awful hard to explain over the phone.

BR: All right. I'm gonna cut you loose, then. I look forward to seeing you. You'll be at the station next week and you're gonna do the tube show. We're gonna try to get you -- I know you're not bringing the group with you when you come, but we're gonna try to get you to come to the thing we're having at Northern Virginia Community College next week. Maybe we can work that out.

ER: Okay.

BR: Let's play something else off the album. I really appreciate talking to you, Emitt. I really look forward to meeting you, because like I said, you've caused some excitement in a business that's been stagnating for a while.

ER: All right, thank you.

BR: Emitt Rhodes. Let's get back to his album.


CLIP 8 (6.2 MB) (streaming)

Emitt Rhodes: Hello, everybody...

Barry Richards: You gotta move in on that mic --

ER: [louder] Hello everybody...

BR: There you go. Are you the real Emitt Rhodes? [laughs]

ER: I believe so.

BR: You believe so -- there's a lot of controversy going around about your album...

ER: I've heard.

BR: You've heard.

ER: [audibly grinning] Yeah.

BR: All right, I don't know where to begin, seeing as how Emitt taped a television show this afternoon. You're only in town 'till when? You're leaving late tomorrow night, right?

ER: Yes.

BR: What'd you think of Washington?

ER: Haven't seen much of it. I enjoyed the Washington Monument.

BR: You went to the Washington Monument?

ER: No, I didn't, but I saw it sticking up out of the ground.

BR: How did you come to do what you did?

ER: How did I come to do it...

BR: Well, you know, it's pretty remarkable, the fact that you wrote, composed, played all the instruments and did everything on it. Before we get into that, the biggest thing everybody is saying is, "what is the story with the tunes, with everything, with the album?" Is it really you?

ER: Yes it is. It's all me.

BR: How come it sounds so much like the Beatles?

ER: I have no idea. It just came out that way.

BR: It's beautiful. Getting back to what we started to say, how did you come to do all the instruments, the vocals, the arrangements and everything, compose the songs?

ER: I did studio work for quite a while, in the studio, trying to record something that I liked, and I never got what I wanted, so I figured that if I was going to do it, I'd have to do it at home.

BR: What studios? I mean did you play in back of groups, or --

ER: I was in a group called The Merry-Go-Round, and I did an album with them in the studio and I actually didn't like it. Nothing that I wanted happened. It was all dubs, in fact. And then I did an album after that by myself with A&M that hasn't been released yet.

BR: I'm sure they're going to release it now.

ER: They will. Sooner or later, they will, and unfortunately, because it had strings and horn parts that I just really didn't particularly care for, but the producer felt it was necessary, so it went in.

BR: When was the group Merry-Go-Round together?

ER: About three years ago.

BR: Who else was in the group? Anybody that we've ever heard of?

ER: I doubt it -- Joel Larson was the drummer, and he's playing for Lee Michaels now.

BR: That's just a two man group, right?

ER: I believe there's three. There might be two.

BR: Getting back to the Beatle thing again, which I know you really don't want to get into, but the thing is, what was the association with the Merry-Go-Round and the Beatles?

ER: None whatsoever.

BR: There was something like about a year ago, when they had all the McCartney stuff, there was something to do with you, I can't remember, it was something to do with the group Merry-Go-Round with Paul McCartney... anybody?...I really don't remember, it was something --

ER: Well, let's skip and go on to something else [laughs].

BR: Ahh, all right, all right. I see where you're at. All right, that's going to blow Shelly's whole thing away [Shelly is apparently a visitor in the studio and is sitting just off-microphone]. We won't even bother to do a number on that. Ummm...how long did it take you to record -- first of all, I don't think anybody knows, I didn't know your age, I was very astonished to find out how old you were. You want tell them how old you are?

ER: I'm twenty.

BR: Twenty. What sign are you?

ER: I'm Pices.

BR: Which is?

ER: Which is February 25.

BR: So you'll be twenty-one this coming February.

ER: Right.

BR: How long have you been recording? I know how long you've been recording, but I mean how long have you been in this business, how long have you been playing music?

ER: I've been playing music ever since I was ten. I dropped out of -- didn't drop out of -- but I got an hour out of class in the sixth grade to take drum lessons. And ever since then I've been a drummer. Then I learned how to play guitar, because I wanted to do something more musical than just playing drums. And then after the guitar, I went to piano, and then during the time I was recording the album, I played bass and lead.

BR: What do you play the most of?

ER: Drums [laughs].

BR: Drums? You're a drummer?

ER: Yeah.

BR: What'd you play in Merry-Go-Round?

ER: I played the rhythm guitar in Merry-Go-Round.

BR: Well, how'd you come to end up with the drums?

ER: That's where I started.

BR: It's pretty amazing. Like, I think there's only two other people that I know of that have ever done what you've done on an LP, that's Dave Mason and Paul McCartney, that have have done everything. And it took you how long to do?

ER: It took me nine months. I had to learn how to work the equipment...

BR: Explain that to the people. How would they go about saying, say you want to put down a song on your own... first of all, what kind of equipment do you have?

ER: I have an Ampex four-track. It must be like fifty years old or something. It looks like an old washing machine. And --

BR: And it bubbles.

ER: No it kind of groans [laughs]. Honestly.

BR: And what else do you have there besides that?

ER: I have three microphones, the type we're using here --

BR: Which aren't too good...

ER: Yeah, right...

BR: You turn your head away and you're gone.

ER: [laughs] -- and two microphone mixers -- Shure microphone mixers -- and some amplifier speakers for monitoring purposes.

BR: And that was it. What did you lay down first? The vocals?

ER: I'd lay down a click track. A metronome.

BR: Which is, to people who aren't familiar, like myself...

ER: It's the click. Like "click... click... click." A metronome. [Emitt actually refers to it as a "metroDOME," but, hey, he was only twenty!] To keep a constant beat. To set the tempo. Then on top of that I'd play the piano. Then I'd put down, like tambourine and I'd combine that with drums. I'd put down bass and I'd combine that with the rhythm guitar. Then I'd put down the lead. Then after I'd finished all the tracks, I'd transfer them to an eight-track.

BR: Wait a minute, you say you had four tracks, now?

ER: Yeah, on the four track I could only manage to get like six things down.

BR: Which one did you sing with?

ER: On the eight-track. I rented one and brought it home and finished the vocals.

BR: How big is your studio? What is your studio?

ER: It's a shed behind my parents' garage. It's ten by twenty.

BR: That's wild. How long did it take you to write the songs?

ER: To write the songs? They'd vary. It'd take me a while, but one would just come out of me. I really couldn't say how long.

BR: What do you want to do in the music [business]. You've pretty much done everything there is to do at twenty. Where do you want to go after this? What is your follow-up going to be after this?

ER: Another album. Better.

BR: That's pretty hard to do, because this album's dynamite. It's very, very good.

ER: Well, with better equipment I'll be able to manufacture better sounds. [Shelly asks something off mic.]

BR: [To Shelly] First of all, they can't hear what you're saying. If you want to say something, you got to come over to the mic [returns to Emitt.] Ummm... what are your plans? I know the thing you're doing tomorrow night, you're only going to be playing a guitar.

ER: Right, maybe piano. Just playing a couple songs.

BR: Right, now after the first of the year I know you're planning to do a tour of the country.

ER: Right.

BR: How do you plan to do that?

ER: I have found four people that are willing to play the parts I show them. And I'm like rehearsing them in Hollywood and trying to get a group together to come out on the road.

BR: Who are the four people?

ER: They're friends. Just people I know.

BR: They're not from other groups or anything?

ER: No.

BR: Let me say this, WHMC Gaithersburg, we have Emitt Rhodes here. How's the album doing all over the country?

ER: Seems to be doing fairly well. I'm quite surprised and quite pleased with the reaction to it.

BR: It's only been out, what, about three weeks.

ER: Three weeks.

BR: I really think that in 1971 you're going to be the artist to watch. And like I said, I'm not just saying that because you're here. The business, I thought, up 'till about three weeks ago, was like lacking excitement. There were alot of albums coming out. In fact I think there were like 400, 500 LPs coming out every week. But nothing that really -- I got excited when I first heard Led Zeppelin and when I first heard Joe Cocker, and then there's been like a lull. The new Led Zepplin album's good and "Live at the Fillmore with the Mad Dog's Englishman", but that's kind of over too. There's nothing really happening. And I ran across your album and it really freaked me out. I really like the album and I'm sure that if you don't have a million seller, somebody out there don't know what's happening, because, you know... well, what can I say about the album? Where do you plan to tour after the first of the year?

ER: I don't know. The dates aren't actually set yet. It all depends on how quickly the group shapes up.

BR: What were your roots, what were your influences in music, what the early British sound?

ER: Right, the Beatles came out and I was running around school playing surf drums, so I decided --

BR: Where'd you go to high school?

ER: I went to Hawthorne High.

BR: See, I don't know if we told them that, where you live. He lives --

ER: I live in Hawthorne, California.

BR: Which is where?

ER: Three miles east of LA International.

BR: Where does that put it?

ER: That puts it about twenty miles outside of LA.

BR: And you used to ??? in LA alot then, right?

ER: Uh, Hollywood.

BR: Where do you hang in Hollywood now?

ER: Right now I'm working in a basement in a place that used to be restaurant. I'm rehearsing the group there. [Shelly softly asks if he can ask a question.]

BR: Yeah, come over here. This is Shelly from Waxy Maxy's.

SHELLY: [Shelly turns out to be a man] What I want to know is, when you did the vocals, did you do the background vocals first, or how many vocals did you lay down and blend 'em, or...

ER: I would put down a rough vocal, a rough lead vocal. And then I would do the background vocals afterwards, because I was like writing them at the same time I was doing them.

SHELLY: Right. When you're going to do this new album, is it gonna be with these people you're rehearsing?

ER: No, it's going to be by myself. It's going to be solo.

SHELLY: How would you -- if there's people out there that have talent like you, that play all the instruments and have material, what would you recommend, just going up to the studio and saying "Listen, man, I've got a whole album." How would you go about doing that? How did you do it?

ER: That's difficult. I didn't have a whole album. When I signed to Dunhill, I had four tracks done, without vocals. Just four tracks.

SHELLY: Now, when they signed you, did they know that you were gonna do it by yourself?

ER: Oh yes. They understood completely what I was at, what I was doing.

SHELLY: What was their first reaction to that. What did they say?

ER: They liked it an awful lot. They're very thrilled with it.

BR: Who was the first person to do this? Dave Mason or McCartney? I think it was Mason, wasn't it?

ER: I can't say. Don't know.

SHELLY: Other people have done it before.

BR: Who else beside Dave Mason and Paul McCartney?

SHELLY: Todd Rundgren did it. Doing everything but the bass.

ER: Did he engineer it?

SHELLY: Yeah. He engineered it and wrote it and --

ER: Great.

BR: I wasn't aware of that.

SHELLY: Yeah. "Gotta Get You A Woman"...

BR: Yeah, right, I'm hip, I've heard the record, I just wasn't aware... I tell you what, we're going to play some more cuts, and then when we come back, we'll try to figure out a way for you to call up and rap to Emitt. But I think the AnswerPhones are on and that's kind of a hassle. Let's play some Emitt Rhodes. This is Tuesday, November 24, 1970 and Emitt's going to do a couple of numbers live tomorrow night at Northern Virginia with Bob Seger... ["Somebody Made For Me" begins playing.]

BR: All right, if you want to talk to Emitt Rhodes, we've set it up. You can call 948-9400. Emitt will take some phone calls for you. 948-9400, call and talk to Emitt Rhodes.

[At this point of the recording, Jennifer Deberdarnis, the person responsible for preserving this historic bit of radio on tape, calls the radio station and reaches Emitt while the station is playing his song. The microphone (at her home) picks up only her side of the conversation.]

JENNIFER: Umm, is this Emitt Rhodes? Hi, I just wanted to, I didn't know, I just called, I didn't even hear, but um, I just wanted to tell you, I didn't think it was the Beatles. I just really think your album is good and, um, somebody's appreciating you for being somebody else besides supposedly Paul McCartney, I just... [giggles] I really, God, I almost died, you know, I've wanted to come see you, but I don't think I'll be able to, but I really think your album's fantastic and I hope you put some more out. Okay, bye-bye.

[Back on the air...]

BR: You're digging Emitt Rhodes, if you want to talk to him live, call 948-9400, 948-9400 and talk to Emitt Rhodes. Emitt Rhodes is here, and speaking of Emitt Rhodes, you can catch him tomorrow night, he's gonna do a few tunes tomorrow night. That's the first time tomorrow night that you'll have done like a live thing with just acoustic guitar, right?

ER: My first gig [laughs]. My first performance.

BR: I'm glad you're doing it tomorrow night here. I tell you what, let's take some more phone calls. I'll put these words on and then we'll go back to your album.

ER: Okay.

BR: All right, if you want to talk to Emitt, or even if you want to see him, you know, you might get a thing going, just fall out here, 948-9400.

This last interview provides quite a bit of solid Emitt information and actually serves to dispel a couple of popularly held beliefs about Emitt. The biggest of these is the oft-touted "fact" that Emitt was the first to do the write-play-sing-record-and-engineer thing. He is often said to have beaten McCartney to the punch. But as we see here, it is just not true. Even without this interview, anyone could have done a little digging and seen that "McCartney" was released in early April of 1970. "Emitt Rhodes" wasn't released until November, a full seven months later. It doesn't make his album any less spectacular, though. And when he began working on it, he could have had no idea that a McCartney solo album was in the works, as it was a closely guarded secret.

Most interviews and articles state that the album was recorded in Emitt's garage. Emitt even says this in the first interview. In fact, it was recorded in a shed — behind the garage! A small discrepancy, I admit. But how much more homegrown can an album get? Recorded in a shed? Behind your parents garage? I love it!

Also, most sources neglect to mention the fact that only the instruments were recorded on Emitt's "washing-machine" Ampex four-track recorder. Emitt then rented an eight-track recorder which he brought home. He'd dump the instrument tracks to the eight-track and record the vocals on the left over tracks. Another small detail, but critical to those strongly interested in his recording technique.

It is also interesting to note that, although his album had only been out for about three weeks, Emitt fairly bristled at any mention of the Beatles. He was obviously conflicted somehow. His love for the Beatles was undeniably clear in his music, yet it was as if he didn't want any comparisons made between the two. Surely in three weeks time he couldn't have had that many people ask him about the Beatles connection; not enough to make the topic as tired and undesirable as it clearly was to Emitt during this interview. Maybe it's the fact that the comparisons were nothing new, since they reached back to the Merry-Go-Round days. Either way, he was clearly uncomfortable. And there really was no need for the question to be asked in the first place. The answer was obvious. "Why does this album sound like the Beatles?" Because Emitt was a HUGE Beatles fan. Period. No need to make him state that. No need to make him say "I love the Beatles so much that I copied their sound." And any line of questioning regarding Emitt and the Beatles would eventually lead to this end. A lot of people were doing it, but Emitt was head-and-shoulders above them. And he understandably wanted to be viewed as the extremely talented composer/musician/vocalist that he is, instead of a Beatles sound-alike novelty act.

— Kevin

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