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.
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.
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.
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.
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"]
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?
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.
do you do there?
LJ: I'm a
you were saying that you and your husband were disagreeing on something,
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
thank you Laurie.
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: Okay, thank you
CALLER: You're welcome.
BR: Bye, bye.
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
BR: Where do you live,
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
MR: Okay, thank you.
BR: Bye, bye.
Barry Richards: All
right, we have somebody else on the telephone. Who's this?
This is Charlotte Walker.
BR: Where do you live,
CW: I live in Gaithersburg.
BR: You live in Gaithersburg.
You work, housewife or what?
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
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
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.
BR: Bye, bye.
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.
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
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
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
BR: How long ago was
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
BR: Has anybody out
of Los Angeles ever come up with the idea that it's a long-lost Beatle
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.
BR: Just a wild album
cover. You played all the instruments. How many overdubs did you make
ER: I played all together
like seven or eight instruments on each track, sang the vocals and did
BR: And it took you
ER: Nine months.
It took me quite a while because I bought a machine and did it in my
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?
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
BR: Emitt Rhodes.
Let's get back to his album.
Emitt Rhodes: Hello,
Barry Richards: You
gotta move in on that mic --
ER: [louder] Hello
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]
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
BR: What'd you think
ER: Haven't seen much
of it. I enjoyed the Washington Monument.
BR: You went to the
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
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
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
ER: About three years
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
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
ER: I'm Pices.
BR: Which is?
ER: Which is February
BR: So you'll be
twenty-one this coming February.
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
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
BR: What'd you play
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
ER: They're friends.
Just people I know.
BR: They're not from
other groups or anything?
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
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
BR: See, I don't know
if we told them that, where you live. He lives --
ER: I live in Hawthorne,
BR: Which is where?
ER: Three miles east
of LA International.
BR: Where does that
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
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
ER: I can't say. Don't
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
SHELLY: Yeah. He engineered
it and wrote it and --
BR: I wasn't aware
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
[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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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