Magazine, Interviews, Concert Promotion
Raw Power Magazine was founded by two sixteen-year-old teens in Woodland Hills CA; Scott Stephens (pen name Quick Draw) & Robert Olshever (pen name Bobalouie) in 1976. Larry Jordan (pen name Bullwinkle J. Moose) was also an early contributor. Murray Schwartz and Joey Wahl joined up shortly thereafter. What started out as a fanzine covering mostly local Los Angeles talent turned into a glossy magazine with interviews and features on national rock acts. The rare issues of Raw Power that still exist are now collector’s items. One copy of RP in poor condition recently sold for $100 on eBay. The short-lived publication eventually morphed into the first “rock & roll travel incentives” company in the United States and established offices in London, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. RPMC was recently sold but the spirit of Raw Power lives on.
Getting the Scoop
The mid to late 1970’s was a heady time for the music scene in Los Angeles and Raw Power Magazine was there in the thick of it all. The magazine attracted the attention of major record labels in Hollywood and was granted exclusive interviews with both up and coming artists as well as established stars. RPM featured a format of both hard rock & punk rock which was rarely combined. The heavy metal and punk scenes did not get along well so we were going against the grain from the start.
From 1976 to 1979 the magazine managed to pull off some classic interviews and even altered the course of rock history. The teenage quintet of Scott, Robert, Murray, Joey, Larry and their ever-growing entourage were regulars at clubs like the Whiskey A Go-Go on Sunset Strip and the Starwood in West Hollywood. They sometimes hung out with legendary KROQ DJ Rodney Bingenheimer and Scott once set him up on a blind date with the hottest girl at his high school. Rodney fell in love but it didn’t work out. There are dozens of similar stories.
Raw Power ran a obituaries column where we blasted bands we hated. There were lots of album reviews and predictions for stardom or failure; many of these panned out. We had no rules and published letters to the editor without any edits. Some of these were obscene. We loved controversy. Some of our interviews were pathetic; some have become collector’s items.
When the movie “Almost Famous” was released, many of our friends thought it must have been written about us.
Our Top – 10 Interviews:
1979 interview with Ozzy Osbourne just after he was kicked out of Black Sabbath. Ozzy was quite depressed during this time but had recently met Sharon Arden and was in the process of putting together a new group that would eventually record “Blizzard of Ozz”. It was during this interview that members of Raw Power Magazine suggested to Ozzy that he consider auditioning a guitarist by the name of Randy Rhodes. Randy was the guitarist of Quiet Riot and Raw Power had interviewed them for a cover story for the 2nd issue in 1977. Shortly thereafter Ozzy auditioned Randy and hired him on the spot. The rest is history.
A side note to this interview: Scott was in the band “Electric Warrior” at this time and asked Ozzy if he’d like to come to the Valley (Woodland Hills) that evening to sing a few songs at the band’s rehearsal. Ozzy agreed as long as we could provide some weed. After some discussion, the Raw “Powers that be” decided the 45-minute drive (one-way) was too far and declined the offer. Scott has regretted this decision since that day. Electric Warrior, like most bands during this era; rehearsed at a suburban house in the garage. The band played two Sabbath songs (Paranoid and War Pigs) and Ozzy had agreed to sing them. You can imagine the shock & awe on the faces of the members of Electric Warrior as Ozzy walked into the garage. A wannabe rock star’s dream. But it wasn’t to be. You can’t make this stuff up!
The interview was noteworthy. Ozzy talks about his desire for a solo career and tossed out “Son of Sabbath” as a possible name for his group. He discusses his exit from Sabbath and literally cried at this part of the interview. Surprisingly, he states he wanted to tour and just play the old Sabbath favorites and have fun. Fortunately, he never became that oldies act.
David Lee Roth, Van Halen
1977 interview with David Lee Roth of Van Halen backstage at the Whiskey A Go-Go just prior to the release of their debut album. Roth already had his schtick down and made such statements as “my cock is my biggest influence”; “our album will be titled Van Halen so the world can be familiar with its new leaders”; “we’re gonna do major tours all over the galaxy man. We’re gonna do solar systems, explore space and boldly go where no other band has gone”. Who formed Van Halen? “The lord, on the first day”. A must read. Classic Roth. The Van Halen New Desk re-published this Raw Power Magazine original interview in 2014.
1977 cover feature with punk icon Iggy Pop just prior to the release of his seminal album, Lust for Life. Raw Power Magazine was named after Iggy’s third LP by the same name.
Iggy discusses his recent trip to Asia and how he wanted to swim in every ocean. He stated, “people in Hong Kong are about ready to explode”. Iggy had recently stated in another interview he planned to live only two more years. When we asked him about this statement he said: “yes, that’s the schedule”. Then he added “I’d rather have these things scheduled than have them sprung upon me as a surprise. I’m gonna die anyway and I’d prefer it to be at my leisure”.
He also discussed David Bowie; the Sales Brothers; Alice Cooper; The Santa Monica Civic and the Station To Station band. There’s also a great story about him being knocked out by a biker and coming back on stage and doing Louie Louie for an hour until cops came in and started arresting people. Another classic must read.
1978 interview with producer/manager Kim Fowley of Runaways fame. Rodney Bingenheimer was present at this meeting. Kim stated “I am the king of punk rock. I am the Adolf Hitler of stink rock. I am the rock and roll dog man”. He goes on “the only reason I’m doing this interview is that I love to see my name and picture in print. I have 45 scrapbooks and every one of them says, I am god dog; I am teenage; I am stink man”. He also added, “Fucking KISS- ugly people making ugly records”. Be sure to check out the full text. This is one of our most memorable interviews.
Gene Simmons, KISS
In 1979 Raw Power Magazine interviewed Gene Simmons, bassist of KISS. Both KISS interviews were done during the period where each member was putting out a solo album. Gene comes across very much like the shrewd businessman he is to this day. He talks about the concept of a live show vs. an album and why he believes it’s important to do more live than just playing music. He mentions how surprised he was about Ace’s solo LP (being good) and how he disliked Peter’s LP. The right-winger also takes shots at Patti Smith, The Grateful Dead, and Pink Floyd. Of Patti, he states: “She’s not one of my favorite people. I hate Patti Smith. She should have a dick grafted on her”. Worth reading if you’re a KISS collector.
1979 interview with vocalist Sammy Hagar, solo artist, formerly of Montrose and eventually with Van Halen. He discusses leaving Montrose; his latest LP; his affection for the color red and his interest in Astronomy. Sammy is very personable and gave us a long, interesting interview. Years later my band (Liquid Blue) opened for him in at the MGM Grand in Vegas and backed him at a concert in La Jolla (San Diego). Much of what he mentions in the interview found its way into his autobiography, “Red”. We just happened to get the scoop first.
Ronnie James Dio
1979 interview with Ronnie James Dio, legendary metal vocalist who shortly thereafter became the new singer for Black Sabbath. Great interview that finished with a lengthy discussion on his experience with the Black Arts. He spent over an hour with us talking about raising the dead and other related topics. Unfortunately, the tape to this meeting was lost and the story never ran.
Cherie Currie, The Runways
1977 interview with Cherie Currie; her very last as a member of The Runaways. When asked how the Runaways were getting along she replied: “we have our difficulties; quite a few at the moment, but I think it will work out”. History tells us it didn’t work out as she quit the group just a week after our interview and started her solo career. There were lots of other hints in the interview that trouble was brewing but she did her best to downplay the tension. She discussed Japan and also spilled guts about Jackie Fox. A historic meeting. One of our advertisers was the nightclub The Sugar Shack, where there Runaways frequently hung out.
Dee Dee Ramone
1977 interview with Dee Dee Ramone, bassist and primary songwriter of The Ramones. The interview was short and there was nothing of note revealed but it occurred during the heyday of the Ramones career just after their 2nd LP “Leave Home” and prior to the release of “Rocket to Russia”. All of us loved the Ramones and we’re saddened when Dee Dee passed away at the young age of 50.
1978 Raw Power Magazine cover story with gunslinger Ted Nugent not long after the release of Cat Scratch Fever.
Our interviewer, Hank Zevellows, challenged Ted on a number of subjects. Witnessing in person was amazing. Hank stated- You are very keen on defending yourself. Do you think life is war? Ted replied, “No I don’t but there are wars and always will be.” Hank- You’ve commented if somebody took one eye; you’d get two. Ted “At least. Cause the uninstigated act itself warrants vast counterattack”. He goes on: “Even if you drew a knife on me right now and didn’t even cut me, I’d have every right in the world to take your life.”
At age 18 we had no idea just how much insight we were getting about Teddy’s politics. During the interview, Nugent scarfed down a sandwich, and we took pictures of him, mouth full. He said he’d kill us if those are published. Check out the Raw Power #5, and you’ll see the pic. Classic interview.
More Classic Quotes/Interviews:
Angus Young, AC/DC
1978 interview with Angus Young, guitarist of AC/DC, just after their very first U.S. tour. At the time they had just two LP’s released in the United States; High Voltage and Let There Be Rock. We loved this new group and called them “one of the best heavy metal bands ever”. The interview was short and devoid of any notable quotes but sitting with these guys just as they were breaking in America was enough.
Rick Neilson, Cheap Trick
1978 interview with Rick Neilson, guitarist of Cheap Trick not long after the LP “In Color” was released. We asked Rick about their show at the Santa Monica Civic with the Runaways and he stated: “don’t tell anybody but Bun E (Carlos) got together with Cherie Currie”. When asked about the influence of the Beatles he states “they’re great but Art Linkletter is god. Everybody knows that”. Very funny guy. Nice interview but shorter than we would have liked as the cassette tape broke when we got home and we were only able to take down half the interview. What a Cheap Trick!
Ace Frehely, KISS
1979 cover feature with Ace Frehely, guitarist of KISS. Ace asked if we would put him on the next cover of Raw Power Magazine and we couldn’t say no. We interviewed both Ace and Gene Simmons on separately on separate occasions in 1979. Ace graced the cover of our final issue, #6. The interview itself was boring. One thing we quickly learned is that in the majority of cases the musician’s who was known as being dynamic on stage and in the leadership of their groups was by far the most dynamic interviews. Gene Simmons, for example, was by far more interesting than Ace Frehely.
Debbie Harry, Blondie
1978 interview with Deborah Harry of Blondie just prior to the release of her breakthrough third album, “Parallel Lines” which contained the hits “One Way or Another” and “Heart of Glass”. When asked how she felt about being called the sex symbol of punk rock, she replied “I love it. It’s all bullshit, right? So it’s good bullshit”. She showed up to the interview without make-up and did not look like a sex symbol. We were 18 years old and didn’t get why everyone thought she was so hot. She went on the discuss the Germs, Patti Smith and The Ramones. Nothing very memorable from this interview except that it was held at BOMP Records and Rodney Bingenheimer was present.
Phil Moog, UFO
1978 interview with Phil Moog, vocalist of UFO, at their peak just after the release of their best album, Lights Out. Phil was a nice guy and the interview was informative but also a bit calculated. He avoided many of our questions about problems with guitarist Michael Schekner who was in and out of the band at that time, reportedly due to drug use. Can’t blame him for being protective of his fragile, star guitar player.
Blackie Lawless, Sister/WASP
1977 interview with Blackie Lawless of the group Sister, who eventually became the lead singer and guitar player for the heavy metal band W.A.S.P. As the leader of “Sister”, Blackie was known for eating live worms on stage during his show. We witnessed this in person when he played at a Raw Power Magazine event at Palisades high school on Oct 29th, 1977. During the interview, he talks about being offered a spot in the New York Dolls with whom he was with for one tour. He stated that Sister was going beyond what KISS and Alice Cooper were doing theatrically. He called Sister’s genre “Torture Rock”. We hired Rodney Bingenheimer to host the event.
Other Raw Power Magazine Interviews:
Sammy’s Replacement: 1977 interview with Bob James who had just left Montrose. Bob had replaced Sammy Hagar. He disappeared not long afterward.
2nd Issue: 1977 cover feature with Kevin DuBrow of Quiet Riot. In 77′ they looked like the next big thing, especially with Randy on guitar.
Mott: 1977 interview with Ariel Bender, formerly with Mott the Hoople, who had just formed a band called Widowmaker. They had little success.
Slaughter: 1977 interview with Dana Strum of Bad Axe who became the bassist for the band Slaughter. Dana was involved with setting up the Randy Rhodes interview with Ozzy.
Free Ride: 1977 interview with Rick Derringer of the group “Derringer” and formerly of The Edgar Winter Group. He sang “Hang On Sloopy” with The McCoy’s in 1964.
Styx: 1977 interview with James Young lead guitar player for Styx just after the release of their breakthrough LP “Grand Illusion.
Styx II: 1978 interview with Tommy Shaw, guitarist of Styx. This interview was done the day Elvis Presley died.
Mott II: 1978 interview with Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople. Ian, who was one of our fave’s, wore only a long robe for the meeting. The three of us teens felt like “All The Young Dudes”. The interview was never published.
Missing You: 1978 interview with John Waite and The Babys. Bobalouie gave them shit about their name and posing to look like Queen for their recent LP. Fun article.