Ned Doheny must be – or rather have been (it’s hot at the moment) – one of the most underrated musicians of 1970’s California, Laurel Canyon in particular. It puzzled me enough to reach out and contact the man. I was then unaware of the fact that his work was going to be reissued (read: is reissued, on Be With Records and even earlier compiled on Numero Group) and also somehow managed to not see the comprehensive article Wax Poetics dedicated to the man. Nevertheless there are always new or other questions to be asked surrounding the wonderful sounds of Ned. 1976’s Hard Candy is a much sought after LP by collectors of all ages, especially in the middle of this Balaeric, AOR, Yacht Rock hype we live in at the moment (which I think is superb by the way). It was produced by Steve Cropper – of Booker T and Stax fame – and backed by the horn section of Tower Of Power. Although the album was perfectly balanced between the – at that time charting – disco and say…the Eagles (who were friends of his), it just didn’t have a lot success. Boz Scaggs went platinum with Lowdown, you’d think people who were into that would definitely dig Ned’s grooves. Sad story tho’ is that the record labels called the shots and hindered the opportunities a lot for upcoming artists. Anyhow, let’s cut to the chase, Ned was so kind to help me out answering some of the impulsive questions asked by me.
I always like to hear about the early musical development. What record reminds you of your youth? What – for example – was the first record you remember buying?
Memphis by Lonnie Mack
Your music is hard to simply lump into one category. It’s being described as (blue eyed) soul, funk, yacht rock, AOR and so on. How would you describe your music?
Personal. My music was the byproduct of everything I loved listening to: my father’s love of jazz, my mother’s love of musicals, and the amazing variety of music on AM radio in the 50s and 60s – no two tunes were alike. Plus, I started playing guitar as a child and that made me listen that much harder.
You were/are very popular in Japan and from what I’ve heard you even had your own radioshow there? Do you have any noteworthy anecdote about your travels to Japan?
We had just finished our show in Osaka. When we arrived at the hotel, there were all these kids on the street. I turned to our translator and muttered, “I wonder who they’re waiting for?” – turns out it was us. We had to be rescued by the doorman, who obviously had some experience in these matters. Three days earlier we were just tourists getting off a plane in a foreign country. The Japanese were the first to fall for my music. I have loved them ever since.
A spaceship is descending above your house, a friendly stranger gets out and approaches you to ask whether he may take one record (could be any record) from your collection back into space, to play it for an extra terrestrial population. What record would you hand the stranger?
I would probably choose something from classical music – anything by Bach.
I’ve been digging through a lot of records, but never – Hard Candy comes close though – found one that really suits a proper hangover. Do you have a suggestion?
Not really. Loud noise and hangovers don’t really have much in common. Food is another matter.
Might be true. What food do you suggest then?
A fried egg sandwich: two pieces whole wheat toasted, mayo top and bottom, fried ham, fried egg (sunny side up), thinly sliced tomato, sprouts or lettuce, avocado optional. Voila!
Did you ever play in The Netherlands – or even more specifically – in my hometown Amsterdam? If yes, can you tell me something about it.
I played in Stockholm with Jay Graydon, after which a few of us went to Amsterdam. I have never returned, but I would love to. There are some dedicated groove- meisters in that part of the world.
About the success of your three 70’s albums you’ve suggested “it was not my time”. Recently your work has been reissued, gained lot of popularity among youngsters – and unaware contemporaries – and even remixes/edits are being released on vinyl. Do you regret that, or would you rather say that maybe now is your time? Or none of both?
Love the attention so late in the game. We always knew we were doing good work; better late than never.
Your work has been covered quite a lot, can you pick a fave?
Chaka’s version of “Whatcha Gonna Do For Me?”