Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Funk Brother/Royaltone Bob Babbitt - Outtakes From a Recent Conversation

This morning on Detroit’s WJR radio, there were several mentions of the passing of Funk Brother Bob Babbitt. It seemed a bit tardy that one of Detroit’s recently passed top studio musicians was being noted in Detroit eight days after his death.  Read a surprisingly complete obit here.
I spoke with Babbitt last year for the book I am now completing, Detroit Rock City: The Uncensored History of Five Decades of Rock ‘n Roll in America’s Loudest City.
He was a terrific interview, speaking of growing up in Pittsburgh, coming to Detroit and joining Dearborn rockabilly outfit the Royaltones in 1962, playing for the Mob and finally making it as a studio musician at Motown.
“All the stuff that happened to most of the guys in Detroit, in music overall, no one thought that it would have a lasting impression,” Babbitt said. “People weren’t thinking like that then. And it was easy to think that what was happening in Detroit was happening everywhere. But it wasn’t.”
Then there was his pro wrestling career, which he was surprised to hear in a question.
“I started wrestling wrestled in the minor leagues in Pittsburgh,” he said. “Before I left I heard about Killer Kowalski in Detroit. I got there and then I heard this Kowalski guy had bit someone’s ear off, and I said ‘no, I think I’ll play music.’
Babbitt had a lot more to tell me, and everyone – Hendrix at Motown?  -  that will make the cut for sure. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Sarah Pender Begs Edgar Committee to Reconsider Girl, Wanted

Sarah Pender Envelope Art

Sarah Pender, the gift that keeps on giving. I called the Mystery Writers of America the other day to renew my membership and the woman answering asked my name and immediately asked if I was the Edgar nominee. I thankfully couldn’t deny it.  Then she referenced a letter she received from Sarah Pender, who was the subject of the book that garnered the nomination, Girl, Wanted: The Chase for Sarah Pender. The letter, read it here, asks the committee to reconsider the nomination.
“How would you fee is someone accessed and published your medical records, including the prescription for Viagra, the treatment for anal warts and the procedure to extract that raisin from your nasal passage?” Sarah asks in the letter.
I did a word search of the manuscript and could find no mention of any of these items. She goes on to talk of how I accessed her presentence report “which is clearly marked confidential on its cover” and the usual criticizing of the veracity of much of the story.
Yes, I did gain access to the report. It’s what reporters do, we get stuff.  And the book is 100 percent factual.
It’s a good letter, as usual, even if she has some kind of alternative reality going on in there.
There may be more to come for her; she may get another shot at freedom, although this time it will be in a courtroom. Come back and visit and you can read about it here first.