Interview – Jeffrey Morgan

Jeffrey Morgan is a Canadian writer, musician, photographer, and poet, probably best known for being the official biographer for both Alice Cooper and the Stooges. M3 spoke to Jeffrey about his many upcoming projects, as well as parole officers, Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music and the electric chair…

photo credit: Tom Robe © 1977

M3 – First of all, could you tell us a bit about yourself, and what it is that you do?
Jeffrey – Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen, my name is Jeffrey Morgan and I’m the authorized biographer of Alice Cooper, having written Alice’s definitive biography “Alcohol and Razor Blades, Poison and Needles: The Glorious Wretched Excess of Alice Cooper, All-American” which appears in the critically acclaimed best selling 1999 Warner Bros. box set The Life and Crimes of Alice Cooper. In 2011, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum cited my authorized biography as “Recommended Reading” in their official Alice Cooper inductee bio.

I’m also the authorized biographer of The Stooges, having co-written their definitive biography “The Stooges, Yes” which appears in the best selling critically acclaimed 2009 Abrams hardcover book The Stooges: The Authorized and Illustrated Story, which I also edited.

I became the de facto Canadian Editor of CREEM: America’s Only Rock ’n’ Roll Magazine after Lester Bangs personally invited me to write for the legendary music publication in 1974.

My poetry has been published in Rolling Stone magazine; and my award-winning newspaper column Jeffrey Morgan’s Media Blackout appeared for over half a decade in Detroit’s Metro Times before relocating to my website.

In 2011, Dark Horse Comics published my 320 page mystery graphic novel The Brides of Mister X in a deluxe hardcover edition; and Bongo Beat Records released my experimental electronic avant-garde art rock ’n’ roll album Thrilling Women in 2011.

That and a token will get me into the subway.

What inspired you to focus on music?
My parole officer thought it might straighten me out; a lot she knew.

What is your own musical background?
In the late ’70s I studied electronic music with James Tenney, who played on Terry Riley’s seminal avant garde album In C. The result was my above-noted album Thrilling Women, which I recorded with Mister X creator Dean Motter.

Many people have claimed that there is no longer any money in record sales, and that touring is the most efficient way to earn an income as a band. How much truth do you think there is in this sentiment?
My ticket to see The Beatles back in 1964 cost a whopping five bucks, which was double the asking price for their then-current album Something New. Decades later during the Rolling Stones’ Steel Wheels tour, the least expensive item of Stones merchandise that you could buy was the actual album itself. And you’re still wondering why both bands hired Allen Klein to be their manager.

What would be your preferred medium to listen to music (e.g. Vinyl, CD, tape, MP3 etc.), and why?
Once you’ve had 8 Track you never go back.

Do you feel the idea of an album, as a piece of art that people will listen to from start to finish, has been undermined or forgotten about in the digital age?
The long playing album was already undermined and forgotten as an aesthetic art form the minute the first compact disc was manufactured back in the ’80s, thus instantly eliminating its two crucial creative components, namely: (a) the twelve inch cardboard album cover as a visual and tactile canvas; and (b) the two sided plastic disc as a spatial auditory delivery method. Then again, a vinyl album is as good as a compact disc to a blind horse.

Much has been made of the supposed death of the record store in recent years. Do you believe the digital age has killed the record store, and if so, do you think that this is a necessary part of progression, or a tragic loss?
The digital age may be a tragic loss for people who used to shop at record stores, but it’s a happy gain for shoplifters who used to steal from them.

What is your take on the current SOPA/ACTA controversy?
Just because yesterday’s free review copy is today’s free illegal download doesn’t make it right. I say we make an example out of these thieves by strapping them into Old Sparky and executing every single last one of them.

In a few decades time, what genre or sound do you think will come to define the 2000’s?
People will always enjoy listening to the standards, be it Frank Sinatra’s Ring-A-Ding-Ding! or Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music.

What do you personally believe the future of music distribution will look like?
It will be as invisible and instantaneous as a legal download from Old Sparky.

Finally, what does the future hold for Jeffrey Morgan?
I’m so glad you asked! This year marks the 40th anniversary since I first began writing about rock ’n’ roll in 1972, so on tap for 2012 are a number of long-term projects, including:

1. Working on The Perfect View, which is the photography book I’ll be editing for noted music photographer Robert Matheu, who co-wrote The Stooges biography with me that Abrams published.

2. Compiling a profusely illustrated 70,000 word compilation of my collected rock ’n’ roll writings spanning the past 40 years, including my decades of dissipation at CREEM: America’s Only Rock ’n’ Roll Magazine.

3. Assembling the hundreds of extremely rare previously unpublished rock ’n’ roll photographs from the 1970s which lay dormant in my archives, all of which I took from my front row center seat at various venerable venues; vintage historical images, both in color and in black and white, of such legendary rock stars caught in their youthful ’70s prime as:

Freddie Mercury, George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Rod Stewart, Elton John, Miles Davis, Bruce Springsteen, Steven Tyler, Pete Townshend, Roger Daltry, Keith Moon, David Bowie, Lou Reed, Jethro Tull, James Brown, Jeff Beck, KISS, Mick Ronson, Ian Hunter, Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop, Paul McCartney, Roxy Music, Stevie Wonder—and many more.

For more information about Jeffrey Morgan and his upcoming projects, you can visit his website.

About M3 Event

The music industry is rapidly changing. The internet has enabled widespread piracy, as well as a variety of new business and distribution models. We want to offer an engaged audience in and around the Euregion an opportunity to develop a coherent and detailed picture of the future of music distribution. On the 31st of May 2012 a music conference in Maastricht, consisting of oppositional debates, creative workshops and lectures, will provoke opportunities for intellectual stimulation, debate, as well as networking. We hope to utilise the skills and ideas of some of most forward thinking minds and operators in the industry in order to highlight some promising new ideas and areas which can be improved upon.

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