MP's 20th: Pop-Culture Legends Interviewed

Every once in a while, in the course of putting out a weekly paper in a mid-sized Southern city, you get the chance to talk to your idols. Here are just some of the great artists we were able to talk to and write about.

Al Green, R&B singer, by Lee Gardner (May 20, 1994): "God said to me two, two and a half years ago to start using all my songs again—the old hits as well as the new hits. I went on a 21-day fast, doing without eatin' and stuff. I wanted to be sure I was right by doing this. But He said, ‘That's the whole Al Green.'"

John Waters, filmmaker, by Coury Turczyn (Sept. 9, 1994): "Camp is a luxury. You cannot have the luxury of irony if you're poor. If you don't have something to eat, nothing is so bad it's good. Basically, there's no such thing as ‘camp.'"

Bill Monroe, bluegrass creator, by Chris Barrett (Oct. 7, 1994): "Now I'm not bragging about it, but a lot of people just get bored and tired when they get old. They don't take all that this livin's got to give."

Mel Torme, lounge singer, by Chris Barrett (Feb. 10, 1995): "I think the greatest period this country ever enjoyed musically was the big band era. When you compare big band to rap and hip hop and the rest of the garbage you hear these days, there really is no comparison."

George Clinton, funk innovator, by Coury Turczyn (Feb. 24, 1995): "You can never tell from one city to the next who's going to be predominately there. You'd think a lot of hip-hoppers'd be there, but most of ‘em are embarrassed because their mothers are there. One guy told me: ‘Yo, Judge, man, my aunt's over there, man, smokin' boo. Man, if she's here, my momma's probably here!'"

Don Everly, rock 'n' roll pioneer, by Lee Gardner (March 10, 1994): "The ducktails and the long hair, I took to that. The black and the pink, the turned-up collar, and that whole look—that was me. And it still is, to be perfectly honest with you. I don't have the ducktails now, but I've got the turned-up collar. It was an attitude, but it wasn't a bad one."

William Styron, author, by Tracy Jones (Sept. 21, 1995): "I felt ordained to be a writer, in a kind of negative way, the negative aspect being that I could conceive of no life that was worthwhile without being a writer. Although I've felt terribly dissatisfied with myself and with the role of a writer, I don't have any other livelihood that I would find satisfying."

Russ Meyer, filmmaker, by Coury Turczyn (Sept 28, 1995): "Cantilevered. Outrageously abundant and defying gravity. That's it! And it sure generates a lot of, shall we say, carnality on the part of a person like Meyer."

John Kricfalusi, animator of Ren & Stimpy, by Coury Turczyn (Jan. 25, 1996): "Executives. They really have no concept whatsoever of what people like because they don't have any experiences themselves that they can relate to. When you meet people in the executive world in entertainment, you'd swear they are the squarest people you've ever seen in your life. These are people you have to tell that other people like sex. They'll go, ‘Really? Maybe we should put some of that in our shows!'"

Kirk Hammett, guitarist for Metallica, by Mike Gibson (July 18, 1996): "We're not a metal band anymore. At this point, I think it's safe to say we've metamorphosed into something else."

Nikki Giovanni, poet, by Tracy Jones (May 29, 1997): "Knoxville has opened itself to imagination. I think it's the hills, to tell you the truth. Hill people are different. The soil is tough, and the life is tougher. I'm so much a part of these hills, how could I not be proud of it?"

Scotty Moore, guitarist for Elvis Presley's earliest hits on Sun Records, by Mike Gibson (Aug. 14, 1997): "[Elvis] came to my house one Sunday, the day before we were going to audition him. He was only 18 and his voice had not matured, so some things he sang pretty high. But he seemed like he knew every song in the world, and he had a good sense of timing in his voice. I thought he was worth a shot, but I wasn't bowled over by any means."

Ted Nugent, rock star, by John Sewell (Aug. 19, 1999): "It's not about Ted and what Ted does; it's about how they hate what Ted stands for. I've always stood for the same thing: the celebration of the Motor City Madman and the intensity of the primal scream that has always been my music. I always proclaimed the fact that I am a hunter, I am a gatherer, I am a nature guy, I'm militantly anti-drug abuse and f--king trends. I will squash trends with my left nut."

Joan Jett, rock star, by John Sewell: "You know, can you all please stop calling all the pop babes rock 'n' roll? It's really getting tiring hearing people like Britney Spears being called rock 'n' roll. Give me a break!"

Steve Earle, singer and songwriter, by Joe Tarr: "Knoxville's a lot hipper of a town than people who have never been there think."

Henry Rollins, rock star and former Black Flag singer, by John Sewell (Feb. 21, 2008): "In Black Flag, we were always broke. Being broke is the story of most indie bands. I had a lot of years of not having any money, but I stuck it out. Once I got to the point where I was making a little money and not having to worry about the bottom line at the end of every month, I began to realize that there's something more to do. Instead of buying a fleet of Ferraris and losing the plot, I bought plane tickets and books and access."

Lou Reed, rock star and iconoclast, by Joe Tarr (April 23, 2008): "I don't know. You were the one who asked the question."

Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister, bassist/singer for Motörhead, by Matthew Everett (Sept. 9, 2009): "I went in and gave a sample and the doctor said, ‘Don't let him give any blood transfusions!' My blood had apparently become some kind of chemical soup. We did a lot more bad things back then that we're not doing today."