This article first appeared in What’s Happening magazine by entrepreneur Mike Holland in May 2012.
I have just spent two weeks in LA. I had been invited to the birthday party of Mary Wilson, one of the great “Queens of Soul Music”. I had agreed to hook up with the unstoppable songwriter and poet Stevie Kalinich who ran me absolutely ragged for two weeks.
It is difficult to appreciate just how vast LA is if you are flying in for a tourist visit. However when you have a guide like Stevie hustling you araound, realisation dawns. He had me visiting people all over Beverley Hills and during my time in LA met so many international superstars that I have lost count.
At Mary Wilson’s birthday party, (who remains one of the sexiest, most talented ladies you are likely to meet), just about every soul singer was there unless they were out of town. This included the amazing Linda Hopkins, now well into her eighties and arriving on her Zimmer frame didn’t look like she had any intention of giving up anytime soon. Freda Payne was there (of Band of Gold fame), along with sister Sherry Payne (one of the Supremes for a while).
I talked for ages to the gorgeous and talented Natalie Cole. I now have an insight into what it was like growing up in Hollywood and following in the footsteps of her father the legendary Nat King Cole. American actress Beverley Todd was there along with many famous and interesting people. A night to remember.
On one of our many trips Stevie and I drove up to “The Big Sur” or big south as the Spanish call it. This is a big rugged mountainous area to the north of LA on Highway One and where Stevie’s good friend Al Jardine’s ranch is situated. Al, one of the original Beach Boys had invited us up to visit the ranch. Al and his lovely wife Mary Anne were charming and I really enjoyed their company. Al thinks highly of Stevie who wrote, amongst others, some of the Beach Boys most famous songs: “California Feeling” and “Little Bird”. Stevie didn’t seem at all phased when I asked Al what his favourite Beach Boys song of all time was and he replied instantly with a smile “California Girls”.
Stevie had just written a new song for the upcoming Beach Boys revival tour which is also to be featured in the new film as well. This to me seems big news but he just shrugs and starts telling me about another project where he is actually reinventing himself again and creating music with his partner John Tiven in Nashville.
Stevie has taken on the persona of Stevie Nobody and John becomes Jumpin Jack Ashtag. These are characters that have become animated and have turned Stevie and John into young guys again. This in turn has got them jumping back a couple of decades in their own lives and being really inventive with the new music ideas.
The pair have written many new numbers and when talking to either of them you are never exactly sure which persona you are addressing and generally just dive for the aspirin again. The result of all this activity though is that following on the success of the recent “California Feeling” album, these two characters are churning out better music than ever.
The new upcoming album features Brian May of Queen, the amazing Steve Cropper and a host of other top musicians. I can’t wait to hear the finished product. As if Stevie hasn’t enough to do I heard him promising Mary Wilson they would write another song together as the last one he wrote for her was some 15 years ago.
He is working with a team of professionals that would be the envy of most artists in his field. Alan Boyd put the California Feeling album together whilst Alan is coproducing the current one with Mark Linnett, who have both been responsible for producing much of the Beach Boys music.
Stevie is one of the most respected celebrities I have met. He knows everyone and despite his new persona is certainly not a nobody.
Everyone knows he is responsible for some of the Beach Boys music but he has written music for a whole host of superstars. When he was performing his Galactics with Brighton’s Richard Durrant during the Fringe Festival period, I don’t think it was fully appreciated just who we had in town. let’s hope he comes back to Brighton again and recieves the recognition he rightly deserves. I for one am proud to know Stevie and when I have built up enough energy will return to LA.