Sandy Nelson: Introductory Phone Conversation with Scott K Fish (1982) 

SKF NOTE: Finding snippets of unrelated phone conversations within my Modern Drummer interview cassettes is affecting how I digitize my cassettes. These unrelated snippets are also reminders of my work habits — and my work-around tricks — pre-internet, pre-digital sound.

Case in point: This green 90-minute cassette is relabeled “Bill Maxwell 8/17/82” on side A. Side B was originally marked as Side A of my phone interview with Owen Hale on 1/12/82. But I scribbled out that info and wrote “Sandy Nelson” on that side of the green cassette.

What’s actually recorded on this green cassette?

sandynelson_scottkfish_circa1982

Mostly it’s Bill Maxwell’s interview. Bill was in New York City on business — including a Radio City Music Hall concert with Andrae Crouch, The Winans, and Shirley Caeser — and wanted to come to the MD offices to say hello, and to conduct his interview.

Blank audiocassettes were usually at a premium in MD‘s office during my time there (1980-1983). Ideally, I could have kept all of my cassette interviews intact. That is, it would have been great having blank cassettes on hand, but I didn’t.

I’m sure I had already transcribed Owen Hale’s interview, which was published in the November 1982 Modern Drummer — ten months after I interviewed Owen. When Bill Maxwell showed up in my office and agreed (suggested?) we do his interview right then and there — I bet I had no new cassettes, so I grabbed the best of my on hand tapes and recorded over Owen Hale’s interview. (Sorry, Owen.)

Then, after transcribing Bill Maxwell’s interview tapes, I must have needed a tape to record my conversations with drummers and other people I was cold calling for my MD “History of Rock Drumming” series. I would hook up my trusty old Radio Shack suction cup mic and tape recorder to my MD land line telephone, and start the tape rolling before I dialed the phone number. That way, I would have backup information (dates, phone numbers, names, etc.) in case I was unable to take notes while speaking on the phone. Plus, I could be more relaxed and focused for my conversations.

So, Side B of this green cassette begins with what I believe is Earl Van Dyke’s phone answering machine and me leaving him a voice message. Mr. Van Dyke was keyboardist and bandleader of Motown’s famed Funk Brothers studio band.

Next on Side B is this recording of my brief, first (phone) conversation with the great Sandy Nelson. I later interviewed Sandy for “The History of Rock Drumming.” I posted the transcript of our interview here. Later, I believe someone (Robyn Flans?) did an MD feature length interview with Sandy.

I don’t know if my nervousness comes across in this soundfile. But I was very nervous. Sandy Nelson was a major influence. I owned and listen to his drum solo 45-rpm hit singles — Let There Be Drums, Drums Are My Beat — time after time. Just getting to speak with him was an honor. And when Sandy tells me at the start of our conversation, “You got the wrong Sandy Nelson” – I had to think quick to — hopefully — persuade him to talk with me.

Finally, Side B of this green cassette ends with an excellent remaining segment from Owen Hale’s 1/12/82 interview, with Owen answering an MD reader’s question, “Is it possible to earn a living as a studio drummer?”

For now, here’s Sandy Nelson.

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