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?


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.

About Scott K Fish
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