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John Hammond

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Biography

John Henry Hammond (December 15, 1910 July 10, 1987) was a record producer, musician and music critic from the 1930s to the early 1980s. In his service as a talent scout, Hammond became one of the most important figures in 20th century popular music. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_H._Hammond [Mar 2006]

Allen Ginsberg interviewed by Harvey R.H. 10/96

HK: Can we talk about John Hammond, Sr., perhaps the A&R man of the century?

AG: I visited him in the hospital, on his deathbed, years ago, and our final conversation was about Robert Johnson and Bob Dylan. Well, I think I ran into him in the early '60s. He knew my poetry quite well. But it was around The Rolling Thunder Review with Dylan that we got more intimate. I had already made one recording, William Blake's Songs Of Innocence And Experience, in 1969, with some very good musicians, including Julius Watkins on French horn, Don Cherry, Elvin Jones and . . .used them. And also Herman Wright, a bassist that was suggested by Charles Mingus. Mingus encouraged me to do the Blake. So I had something to play. It had been put out by MGM Records, but disappeared out of circulation when Mike Curb bought MGM and denounced all the dope fiends who were on his roster and wanted to ban them, so then re-issued it with a beautiful cover, with a picture of Judge Julius Hoffman on their archive series. I was on The Rolling Thunder tour, doing a little singing, and I had a whole bunch of new material I had done with Dylan in 1971. In 1971 Dylan and I went into a studio and improvised. I had 40 minutes of music with him. So I brought that to Hammond in 1975, after the tour. I had a bunch of new songs and he said, 'Let's go in the studio and make an album.' I had some musicians who had been with me since 1968 or 1969 since the Blake. David Mansfield from the Rolling Thunder tour, and a wonderful musician, Arthur Russell, who Philip Glass has just put out posthumously on Point Records. Arthur Russell lived in my apartment building, upstairs, and had accompanied me across country on tours, and managed The Kitchen in New York. We had a good little group of musicians. Dylan made a record in the Columbia Studios. It was the first time I didn't have to pay! Then, Columbia wouldn't put it out because of dirty words, they said in those days. The anti-smoking, 'Don't Smoke' poem. So things were in a stasis, but I continued recording myself in 1981, did a whole series of recordings with David Amram, by this time I was working with Steven Taylor, now the lead guitarist of The Fugs. He's also the lead guitarist for The False Prophets, a punk garage band. -- http://www.oceanstar.com/patti/bio/ginsint.htm, accessed Mar 2004

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