Merl Saunders – Memories from 20 years ago

It was 1995 and The Grammy’s were in LA. I lived in New York at that time so I flew in for the awards and managed to get an invite to the Nominee Reception. I remember well I went outside to smoke a cigarette (this is when I smoked) and remember seeing Merl Saunders. As a deadhead and knowing his history with Garcia and JGB, I had to talk to him. We had the best conversation and pretty much chatted outside on that smoking patio at the party! Lots of laughter! We talked about Garcia. We talked about Bill Graham. We talked about music. About girls (maybe that was me)! We stayed in touch for a few years following the awards till my life kinda went in it’s own direction (he kept an open invite to call him anytime he had a gig to visit). Merl was always great and the few times getting together we always had a good laugh or two. I remember once before he soundchecked a show at Wetlands and talking about girls. I think he appreciated my youth (or was hoping I’d bring some ladies to the show). I am sorry that I lost touch as he really was an incredible individual who I’m happy to have had the opportunity to get to know a little. RIP Merl.

Dave Ockun and Merl Saunders back in the mid 90s

Dave Ockun and Merl Saunders back in the mid 90s

 

Remembering Patrick Stansfield

A few months back the concert industry lost one of the best, and someone who I was very fortunate to be a Protege of.   There’s so much I can write as Patrick Stansfield was there for me countless times and on multiple levels thru the years.   From the first time working with him in the mid 90s as his PA in New York (which turned into being a regular thing for times he was in New York), to Patrick recommending me to a former employer almost 20 years back.   There’s the times while I lived in LA and needed some guidance from a good friend (the days sitting in his house talking when I needed advice about life outside of the biz)…   The memories and sometimes just sharing some laughter.     These are all times we never forget and I am truly grateful to have had Patrick in my life.   Your laugh will always stick with me.   In my thoughts my friend!   Save me a laminate! RIP

Patrick Stansfield - The concert industry will miss you though your legacy will live on thru all those who youve helped guide thru the years

The Lost Tapes

The Lost Tapes

My High School growing up had a radio station WKWZ.   I had back to back radio shows as on a programming end I wanted two totally different styles.   From 8-10pm on Thursday Evenings the show was called “The Best Music Mix from the 60s to the 80s/90s (changed thru the years) and from 10pm till midnight, I produced Long Islands only authorized Live Grateful Dead Radio show, called The Steal your Face Show.   Man, I tell ya…  I had a blast as I took these shows so serious and like a job!   I’d produce montage’s, and with my internship at the time also with WPLJ (which was called Mojo Radio), the air personalities at PLJ would help me on some professional intros, sound effects and the fun stuff which in my eyes made it stand out!    I’d call all the record labels back then and also get free promo CDs, Cassettes and Records (many times autographed by bands) as well as tickets to upcoming concerts, fairs, you name it…   I even had a sponsor of my Grateful Dead radio show, Prime Cuts Music Emporium, which thanks to them, I was able to get authorization to play live Grateful Dead.

The Steal Your Face Show became very popular in Long Island amongst deadheads with constant calls on the request line.  Above is a handout which was given to all at Dead Shows in the parking lot plugging the show!

The Steal Your Face Show became very popular in Long Island amongst deadheads with constant calls on the request line. Above is a handout which was given to all at Dead Shows in the parking lot plugging the show!

When Bill Graham died in the helicopter crash, I was as upset as one can be.   I remember very well the first time I interviewed Bill and he kept an open door.  I also remember him yelling at me on the phone (something which back then was tough to stomach, though looking back at it, the story behind it is great) and we’ll talking about The Grateful Dead.   When Bill died, as thru his calls and the times we talked, I was inspired to want to be in the concert industry.  I knew I was limited, though I made it a point to dedicate every radio show I did after Bill passed in his memory.   I would try to interview every week/month for a couple years someone about Bill Graham.  I wanted to know as much as possible from those who were close with Bill, worked with Bill and knew Bill.   There’s a saying how success leaves clues, and we’ll we grow up looking up to many individuals out there.   For me, Bill Graham was the true rockstar.   I produced when Bill died a radio tribute in memory of him and on the 1 year anniversary of Bills passing, I produced a much larger one called “Laughter, Love and Memories”.

Dave Ockun Producing Tribute in memory of Bill Graham

Clipping from Newsday Magazine in Radio Highlights showing 10pm Steal Your Face Show Tribute to Bill Graham in 1991

This was a 2 part tribute as there were just so many artists and individuals who participated.  I spent months producing and preparing.   Many interviews throughout the years from some of the biggest groups from the 60s thru the 90s.

 

We’ll, thru the years I’ve moved quite a bit and so many of these interviews were recorded on Reel to Reel tape, which unfortunately due to storage/weather, many of those interviews are just not recoverable…  I also recorded a bunch on cassettes and about 10 years back when I was burglarized in Hollywood, where so many of my items growing up were stolen.   I didn’t know after all these years a box which I had sealed with some ‘garage stuff’ had these tapes in a box of cassettes.   Now it’s by far a very small piece of these interviews, though some of the bigger ones are right now sitting on my desk.

The Lost Tapes

The Lost Tapes

I couldn’t be happier and my fingers are crossed that the quality is legible!   I was a young teenager when I did many of these interviews, and yes, I wasn’t that great at interviewing, though it’s a part of my history and I do hope that I’m able to share these with others as I know many people would get a kick out of it.   Some of these interviews on what others have said about Bill Graham are priceless.

livegratefuldead

A letter I received from David Gans back in 94

I remember a few people telling me all about Bill and the US Festival (which in later years the venue that the festival was held at became a venue I used to run production for many shows out of).

I am keeping my fingers crossed that these recordings didn’t fade over time and if so, I’ll share them on here in the near future.