In the Friday edition of the paper we posted a number of these photos from past editions of our Unlikely Music Friendships Captured on Film series, and I thought it sure would be nice to provide you with one convenient place to see all of our imagined discussions between these various parties who would seem to have very little in common.
For those of you not familiar with the UMFCoF series, I am only speculating on these conversations, and in most cases, flat-out refusing to look up any further suggestions about the interactions. Yes, there are YouTube videos of some of these meetings happening, but I say no way!
I think to myself, “Hey, I’m a pretty smart guy. I could probably figure out exactly what these famous people that I have never known personally have to say to one another!”
I mean, could it really be that difficult? I know what their music sounds like, and therefore I am fully qualified to hazard very educated guesses about what they would discuss.
Once you get past the “What’s Wrong with this Picture?” aspects of
this photo here — Kurt with the baby bottle; Peter’s “Look who I’m
getting my picture taken with” smile; both of them wearing tops that
border on mock turtleneck — we are faced with the question of what they
could have possibly discussed in the minutes surrounding this photo.
Kevin Mazur snapped the pic in September of 1993 at the 10th Annual MTV
Video Music Awards. To put these characters in context, at the time,
Peter Gabriel had released “Us” nearly a year before, and it would be
another decade until his next album. Nirvana would release “In Utero” 10
days after this photo was taken, and Kurt Cobain would be dead eight
While Cobain’s heroin usage has been widely reported, I don’t think that
any narcotic side effects are responsible for his tight wink. It
actually comes across more like he’s giving Gabriel a little bit of
Was Cobain possibly not interested in Gabriel, and feeling like he was
suffering a fool by having his photo taken with him? The late Nirvana
singer once told Rolling Stone, “ I wouldn’t wear a tie-dyed T-shirt
unless it was dyed with the urine of Phil Collins and the blood of Jerry
Since Gabriel was once in the same band as Collins, did Cobain share a
similar disdain for both gentlemen? Or, come to think of it, does that
quote even convey disdain? If you’re wearing a T-shirt that has swirls
of somebody’s pee, I might suggest that you actually like that person. I
may even venture to say that you like that person a whole heck of a lot
more than the person whose blood is on your shirt.
This is the narrative that I want to think Cobain has going on in his head: “Oh great. Here I am with the other guy
from Genesis. If only it were Mr. Sussudio, I could get him to give me
some tinkle for the coolest rock shirt in history! But no, typical KC
luck, I’ve got Mr. Sledgehammer here instead! Just fantastic, Kurt. You
are so close, but it’s just not the same, is it? Maybe Jerry Garcia is
at this show somewhere. I could get him to give me a little bit of
blood. Wait, why would the Grateful Dead ever be at the MTV
Awards? A-doy! Though their video for ‘Touch of Grey’ sure was cool. Did
that win any awards? I wonder. Maybe good old Peter Gabriel here knows.
Damn, I’ve been thinking to myself for a while now, haven’t I? When I
think too hard I close one eye really tight. I hope I’m not doing that
now. Oh shoot, I think I am! Stop it, Kurt!”
But really, what did they talk about? Did they trade proclamations of
admiration? If so, how specific were they? Was it just Gabriel saying,
“Hey, I like your work” or was he embarrassingly doting over the
26-year-old Nirvana singer?
This is how I like to imagine his side of the conversation: “Hi Kurt,
I’m Peter Gabriel, but you probably know that already. Or do you? I
don’t know! I’m sorry for assuming. That probably came across as
egotistical, didn’t it? Anyway, I’m the guy who sings ‘Shock the
Monkey,’ and I also did the song ‘In Your Eyes,’ which John Cusack’s
character played when he held the boombox over his head in ‘Say
Anything.’ Did you see ‘Say Anything’? I loved that movie. And I swear
I’m not just saying that because my song was in it. Not just saying
that. I say anything, get it? Like the movie I just talked about, ‘Say
Anything,’ you know the one that has ‘In Your Eyes’ in it? That is, of
course ‘In Your Eyes,’ by me, Peter Gabriel. Annnnnnyway, enough about
me, let’s talk about you … what do you think about me? Ha ha ha, I’m
totally kidding. I stole that joke from Bette Midler. Do you like the
divine Miss M? Don’t answer! Because if you don’t I just simply DO NOT
want to hear it. Seriously, though, let’s talk about you! I loved loved
loved the video for ‘In Bloom’! So funny! What a genius idea to get Doug
Llewelyn on there! He is usually so stiff on ‘People’s Court’ but he
was phenomenally funny in that video. Oh my gosh I have been totally
talking for like sooooo long. I am so sorry. Tell me what you’ve been up
to! What’s your new album sound like? Oh, would you look at that, this
Kevin Mazur chap wants to snap a bloody photo of us. Pip pip, Kurt! Open
that left eye, my good man.”
Although it looks like Stevie Wonder is awkwardly holding a Cher
mannequin that somebody suddenly presented him with as a gift, I can
assure you that this is the real Cher. Or at least as much of the real
Cher that actually exists. I mean, seriously, aside from looking
lifeless and plastic, she looks almost exactly like she does now … 37
Yes, this photo was taken 37 years ago at the 16th Annual Grammy Awards.
To give the photo a little context of where Stevie and Cher were with
their lives and careers in March of 1974, Cher was two months away from
releasing what was to be her eleventh album, “Dark Lady.” I know! Cher
had 10 freaking albums behind her already! And that’s just solo Cher,
not including the ones she did with Sonny, speaking of whom, her
marriage to Mr. Bono was falling apart at the time that this photo was
taken. The two would finalize their divorce in June of the following
Stevie, on the other hand, was on top of the world. That night he won
the Album of the Year award for “Innervisions” and Producer of the Year
for that same album. He had suffered injuries from a car crash six
months earlier and was in a coma for four days. During his recovery, he
said he began to think about life differently, and two years later he
would release his absolute classic double-album, “Songs in the Key of
But back to that night in question when this photo was snapped. Here is how I imagine the discussion to have gone.
CHER: Hey, congratulations on winning the Album of the Year
STEVIE: Hey, thanks. That means a lot to me, coming from you. I love love love love “Gypsy, Tramps and Thieves.”
CHER: Are you serious?
STEVIE: Well, most of it. I don’t really like the part
where you sing, “I was 16, he was 21/Rode with us to Memphis/And papa
would’ve shot him if he knew what he’d done.” I always thought it was
kind of rapey.
STEVIE: Well, the age of consent in most places is 18, so it would at least be statutory rape.
CHER: Gosh, that is really bad, isn’t it? I never
thought of that before. But you’re right. I feel horrible. I think I
need to be hugged right now!
STEVIE: Okay, I’ll give you a hug. Woah, your skin feels hard, almost like the feel of my leather shirt.
CHER: Wait, let me feel that shirt. Oh, hey, there’s photographer Michael Ochs! I think he just took a picture of us.
STEVIE: Your hair is on my hand.
CHER: Oops. Sorry about that. I’m kind of known for
flinging my beautiful long hair all over the place. You should see what
my hair looks like on the cover of the “Gypsys, Tramps and Thieves”
album. … Oh gosh. I didn’t mean that about seeing it. I’m so sorry. That totally came out wrong. What can I do to make it up to you?
STEVIE: No, it’s okay. But maybe I will let you make it
up to me. Hmmm. Let’s see … How about in 13 years you can film a video
on an aircraft carrier, and wear a weird pantsuit that exposes the two
tattoos on your butt?
CHER: But I don’t have tattoos on my butt!
STEVIE: Well, get them already!
CHER: Okay, but only if you win Album of the Year two more times this decade!
STEVIE: You’ve got a deal!
CHER: Okay, now please let go of me. My husband’s right over there, and we’re not exactly on the best of terms right now.
This photo is of Sammy Hagar and Patti Smith at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in 2007. You might think Patti Smith would be so punk she would turn her nose at the arena rock stylings of Sammy Hagar. But then you would be wrong, and in the best way possible. Here is how I imagine the conversation going.
PATTI: Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh!
SAMMY: Hello, ma’am. May I sign an autograph for you?
PATTI: I never thought you’d ask!
UNIDENTIFIED HAGAR HANDLER [OFF-CAMERA AND ONLY TO HAGAR]: Dude, that’s Patti Smith.
SAMMY: Okay, so I’ll make this out to Patti?
PATTI: Woah, did you just say you’d make out with Patti?! I’m Patti!
SAMMY: Ha, no I didn’t, but that would certainly make a great song title. [holds his stomach to sing in a typical Hagar rockin’ high note] Makin’ out with Patti!
PATTI: To hear you sing that just gives me goosebumps.
UNIDENTIFIED HAGAR HANDLER [OFF-CAMERA AND ONLY TO HAGAR]: Dude, you might want to mention something about “Horses” being a really influential album for you.
SAMMY [TO UNIDENTIFIED HAGAR HANDLER]: I didn’t hear you!
SAMMY [TO PATTI]: Um, I like horses.
PATTI: You like my seminal 1975 debut album called, “Horses”? That is such an honor to hear that you know and respect my work! In my wildest dreams I never would have thought that Mr. “Why Can’t This Be Love?” himself would ever be familiar with my work.
SAMMY: Yup. Well, ya know.
PATTI: Wanna maybe do a duet on “Redondo Beach” tonight?
SAMMY: Umm, you wanna do it on Redondo Beach? Where is that? Actually, ya know what? Don’t you think you’re taking things a little fast?
PATTI: You’re right, you’re absolutely right. How about this? If you play “I Can’t Drive 55” tonight, I NEED to be on that stage with you. That one line you sing, “I’m gonna throw your ass in the city joint” is pure poetry!
SAMMY: Umm, okay then. Let’s do that! Maybe I’ll work in a little bit of [holds his stomach again to sing in a typical Hagar rockin’ high note] Makin’ out with Patti!
There is almost too much Unlikely Musical Friendship™ going on in this
awkwardly posed photo from the 1989 New York Music Awards. Perhaps this
UMF overload is why not everybody there looks happy. DMC of Run DMC, who
is squatting in front, seems to be the only one who is truly pleased to
be with this group. His posture suggests that he truly wants the photo
to happen, and will even inconvenience himself to pull it off. Samantha
Fox, who had a hit two years earlier with “Touch Me (I Want Your Body)”
seems happy to accommodate DMC’s wishes, but there is something of a
strain in her smile that suggests she is disappointed by the lack of
interest from LL Cool J and Joey and Dee Dee Ramone.
Before we go into how I imagine the exchange to have gone, let’s get a
little bit of context going. Run DMC’s game-changing collaboration with
Aerosmith — which was at the time one of the biggest UMFs to have ever
taken place, let alone have been recorded — was two years in the
rearview. LL’s “Walking With a Panther” was about to drop two months
after this photo was taken. It featured the hits “I’m That Type of Guy,”
“Big Ole Butt,” “Jingling Baby” and “Going Back to Cali,” which was
originally released on the “Less Than Zero” soundtrack two years
Samantha Fox was still cranking out hit singles, having released a
successful cover of the Dusty Springfield gem “I Only Wanna Be With
You” and “I Wanna Have Some Fun.”
As for where the Ramones were in 1989, they were about to release their
eleventh studio album, “Brain Drain,” a month after the photo was taken,
and bassist Dee Dee, who is pictured on the right, was just about to
leave the band to pursue a rap career that was pretty much universally
panned. Click here for proof!
Anyway, here is how I imagine the whole exchange to have gone.
LL Cool J: Hey, Samantha Fox! What are you doing at the New York Music Awards? Aren’t you from England?
Samantha Fox: You’re bloody well right I am!
LL Cool J [licking his lips]: Listen, why don’t you and me…
DMC: Hey! LL! Samantha! What’s going on, you guys?!
LL Cool J [quietly]: Damn, man. DMC’s always gotta come in and ruin my game.
Samantha Fox: Hi DMC, how are you?
DMC: Not bad, not bad.
Samantha Fox: Ooh, excuse me, guys, I see two of the Ramones over there! [shouting] Hey ho! Ramones!
[Joey Ramone waves from across the room. Samantha Fox beckons them.
Dee Dee Ramone gives Joey Ramone a slap on the back that says, “Dude,
let’s totally go over there.”]
DMC: Hey! The Ramones! I love you guys! It’s so cool
that we’re all here at the New York Music Awards! You guys are such an
NYC institution. Do you guys know LL?
Joey and Dee Dee Ramone: Hey.
LL Cool J [mumbling]: Hey, nice to meet you guys.
Samantha Fox [trying to get LL to be more social]: LL, did you know that my new single, “I Wanna Have Some Fun” is inspired by the Ramones?
LL Cool J [quietly]: No, I didn’t know that.
Joey Ramone: What? How’s that? I don’t hear any Ramones in that.
Samantha Fox: Well, you guys are always titling your
songs with the word “wanna” and I just thought that was so cool. “I
Wanna Be Your Boyfriend”…
LL Cool J [under his breath]: I wanna be your boyfriend, Samantha Fox.
Samantha Fox: There’s also “I Wanna Be Sedated,” and “I Wanna Live.”
Dee Dee Ramone: Don’t forget “Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue”! I wrote that one.
LL Cool J [under his breath]: Of course you did, you dork.
Dee Dee Ramone: I also wrote one called “I Don’t Wanna Walk Around With You” and “I Don’t Wanna Go Down to the Basement.”
LL Cool J [under his breath]: I don’t wanna walk around with you or go down to the basement with you, Dee Dee Ramone.
DMC: Dee Dee, didn’t you also write “Psycho Therapy”?
Dee Dee Ramone [proudly]: I did indeed!
DMC: That song is my jam! We should do an Aero-DMC on that!
Dee Dee Ramone: An Aero-DMC?
DMC: Yeah, you know how we collaborated with Aerosmith to do “Walk This Way”? Well, we should do a rap over that one of yours.
Joey Ramone: Umm, we’d have to talk to our lawyers about that, Dee Dee.
Dee Dee Ramone: Lawyers? Nah, we don’t need to bring them into this. Listen, DMC, and actually LL, you might be interested in this…
LL Cool J [being brought back to paying attention]: Huh?
Dee Ramone: I was just about to tell DMC that I have a rap
album that I’m releasing this year. Yeah, it’s gonna be way more
successful than the Ramones.
Joey Ramone: Wait, what?
Dee Dee Ramone: Yeah, it’s gonna be so fresh.
LL Cool J: People don’t really say “fresh” anymore.
Dee Dee Ramone: Get this, LL. One of the jams is called “2 Much 2 Drink.”
LL Cool J: Please tell me you’re actually going to spell out the variations of the word too/to when you title it.
Dee Dee Ramone: No way! I’m going to use the number 2 the way Prince does.
Joey Ramone: I bet it will sound like Number Two. Get it? Like poop!
Samantha Fox: I love poop jokes, Joey!
Joey Ramone: Oh yeah?
Samantha Fox: I do indeed!
LL Cool J: What? You love poop jokes? If I had told poop jokes I could have seduced you?
Samantha Fox: Absolutely.
LL Cool J: But what about all your sexy song titles?
Samantha Fox: That’s all marketing, LL.
DMC: Hey guys, look it’s photographer Ron Gaiella from WireImage! We should totally pose for a group photo.
LL Cool J: I’d rather not.
Samantha Fox: Come on, LL, it will be fun! And I wanna have some fun!
Joey Ramone [quietly]: LL, I’m really sorry if I ruined your game.
LL Cool J [mumbles]: That’s OK, I guess. I may
have rapped that I’m the type of guy to leave my drawers in your
hamper, but I really don’t like poop jokes.
Dee Dee Ramone [sarcastically]: Woah, what a comeback!
LL Cool J: Don’t call it a comeback!
DMC: Hey, you should use that as the opening line to your next album!
BONO: Hey, it’s the Godfather of Soul! The hardest working man in show business!
JAMES: What did you call me?
BONO: The Godfather of Soul!
JAMES: I heard that part, but what was the other thing?
BONO [starting to get nervous]: The hardest working man in show business?
JAMES [starting to get angry]: And just what is that supposed to mean?
BONO: Isn’t that what people call you?
JAMES: Not to my face!
BONO: Oh gosh, I didn’t know! I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing, do you?
ONE OF JAMES BROWN’S HANDLERS [OFF CAMERA]: Come on, dude, he’s not worth it!
JAMES: If I EVER hear you talking smack about me like that again! You hear me? If I EVER EVEN hear that phrase again, I’m coming after you!
I love this photo of Lady Gaga and Bruce Springsteen that Kevin Kane
snapped last May at Carnegie Hall at the Almay concert to celebrate the
Rainforest Fund’s 21st birthday.
The only bummer is that there isn’t really much room for speculation
behind this photo because the footage is all available on YouTube. I
know I said that I would not provide video footage in this
series, but they turn in a really fun version of Journey’s “Don’t Stop
Believin’” that is so refreshing that not sharing it would be even
worse. I love the way that Gaga lets down her guard and lets her
unabashed love for the Boss shine through. She is wearing pretty great
boogie shoes that are not captured in the photo here, and Springsteen
effortlessly rips a killer solo.
Oh yeah, there are also a handful of musicians on stage with them who
are also absolute legends, like Elton John, Sting, Debbie Harry and
Dame Shirley Bassey.
Anyway, click here to see the video, but before you do, write out what you think they said to each other in the comments section!