Bob Schell

Memories Misused The official Bob Schell Site

Bob Schell
Music

About

As a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and arranger, Bob's performed and/or recorded with Badfinger, Buck and The Reactions, Cold Wind, Debbi and The Digits, The Fax of Life, Hit and Run, The Hollywood Squares, Horizon, Kitchie Coo, Meadows & Schell, Nookie and The Hookers, Rag Doll, Save, Scottie and The Tissues, Segrest & Schell, The Six Million Dollar Band, Splash and many others.

  • Richard Alberta
  • Charlie Bailey
  • Stan Baker
  • Steve Barone
  • Bruce Baxter
  • Herb Bell
  • Jim Bregar
  • Mike Brown
  • Kevin Bruce
  • Jack Bruno
  • Buck Buchanan
  • Bart Cardea
  • Barry Carlson
  • Frank Christopher
  • Peter Clarke
  • David Clement
  • Don Cocker
  • Ed Collazzi
  • Bill Criswell
  • Russ Decker
  • Andy DeRemer
  • Matt DiGiacomo
  • Mike Dhonau
  • Lynn Drees Nickerson
  • Ron Dudley
  • Mike "Grey Boy" Edell
  • Dan English
  • Pat Esparza
  • Tom Evans
  • Dana Ferris
  • Steve Fox
  • Marc Giancola
  • Chris Gomez
  • Buddy Greene
  • Bob Gulley
  • Dennis Harding
  • Don Hart
  • John Hartford
  • Doug Henry
  • Dennis Herring
  • Skip Hood
  • Scott Hutchison
  • John Johnson
  • Chris Jones
  • Tony Kaye
  • Jak Kelly
  • Larry Kelly
  • Mike Kirschner
  • Kurt Klotz
  • Roger Leblanc
  • Phil LeDonne
  • Art Letellier
  • Alan Lindgren
  • Jeff Lloyd
  • Gary Madison
  • Mark Magin
  • Tad Malone
  • Janie Mathis Winslow
  • Debbi Meadows
  • Jerry Meta
  • Mike Meza
  • Joe Michalec
  • Bernie Mock
  • Joey Molland
  • Rick Moorhead
  • Dave Munyon
  • Ted Nicholson
  • Bob "Nick" Nickerson
  • Ron Patrick
  • Lenny Perkins
  • Pat Peterson
  • Steve Prisoc
  • James Pullen
  • Bobby Rance
  • Mike Rance
  • Dusty Rhodes
  • Richard Riley
  • Ben Rodgers
  • Bruce Schaefbauer
  • Al Schweikert
  • Wes Segrest
  • Zeta Seletos
  • Jim Shroka
  • Joe Steele Smith
  • Jeff Stevenson
  • Chuck Stewart
  • Deegee Stewart
  • Roy Stewart
  • Rob Stirling
  • Mark Stock
  • Gary Symington
  • Norm Thomasson
  • John Trumble
  • Sonny Turner
  • Carbon Unit
  • Wayne Veith
  • Michael Wilcox
  • Bob Winslow
  • Steve Winters
  • Mindy Yelton Pullen
  • Bruce Yurman
  • Alex
  • Boots
  • Dan
  • Keates
  • Kevin
  • Randy
  • Ron
  • Scott
  • Wally

  • Ian Anderson
  • Kenny Aronoff
  • The Black Keys
  • Ritchie Blackmore
  • James Brown
  • Paul Butterfield
  • JJ Cale
  • Eddie Cochran
  • Bruce Cockburn
  • Cass Elliot
  • The Finn Brothers
  • Richie Furay
  • Melanie Gibbons
  • Pete Ham
  • Janis Ian
  • Billy Joel
  • Anthony Kiedis
  • Freddie King
  • Jerry Lee Lewis
  • Sarah McLachlan
  • John Mellencamp
  • Coco Montoya
  • Van Morrison
  • Fred Neil
  • Glen Phillips
  • John Prine
  • Tito Puente
  • Peter Rivera
  • Leon Russell
  • J.D. Souther
  • Patti Smith
  • Regina Spektor
  • George Thorogood
  • Stevie Ray Vaughan
  • Jerry Jeff Walker
  • Charlie Watts
  • Johnny Winter
  • Mike Yelton
  • Jesse Colin Young
  • Warren Zevon

  • Chet Bennett
  • Ed Bohrn
  • Al Bridda
  • Russ Byrd
  • Chris Compton
  • Jim Cottle
  • Phil Crosby
  • Al Downing
  • Lamont Dozier
  • Alan Eaker
  • John Entwistle
  • Bill Farr
  • Michael Ferraro
  • Walter Fried
  • Christian Ghandi
  • Al Ginepra
  • Bill "Froggy" Hedlund
  • John Jastrebski
  • Craig Jenkins
  • Don Korb
  • Ray La Madeleine
  • Earl Lewis
  • Domino Love
  • Peter Magurean
  • Ben Mercadante
  • Blair Mooney
  • Chuck Moorefield
  • Paul T. Nicholson
  • Joe Nuzzo
  • Johnny Ortiz
  • Rita Osborn
  • AJ Perry
  • Tim Plemmons
  • Frank Pugh
  • Don Ray
  • Thomas Bruce Reese
  • Charlie Rice
  • Doug Sax
  • Roger Sherwood
  • Les Solomon
  • John Stevens
  • Don Towner
  • Zoren Veltman
  • Art Williams
  • Martha Wright
  • Eddie Wood
  • George
  • Phyllis
  • Russ
  • Woody

Memories Misused: Selected blog posts and interviews

And…we're back.

sparkler

For longer than I care to admit, I stared at the bird's nest of code--the remnants of my former WordPress-powered site. It's easy enough to get lost under the hood of a working open-source PHP web app, and WordPress code is no picnic.

When a website's been damaged like mine you must first figure out what's missing before you can even begin to make repairs, adding another layer of complexity to the project.

...Zen Cart, an open-source shopping cart with architecture resembling that of Winchester House.

In defense of my whining, my intro to PHP involved modifying and maintaining a site built on Zen Cart, an open-source shopping cart with architecture resembling that of Winchester House. To this day, I get a piercing headache over my right eye just looking at PHP.

I enjoy puzzles as much as the next person. No. No, actually I don't. So, faced with the choice of launching a new WordPress site or going another direction, I decided to rebuild from the ground up with this modern one-page, mobile-friendly site.

I hope you find it responsive, easy to navigate and entertaining.   §§§

An Apology...

Please accept my apologies on behalf of my latest web host. I’m not going to identify them because of the awesome power they wield and, frankly, I’ve got enough trouble already. Let’s call them B3 Hosting.

My site was migrated away this week from a very bad choice of host I made last week; which, in turn, was to escape a slow death at yet another host where I’ve been stuck since they sold out to EIG. April’s been a rough month for maintaining an online presence.

As you’ve surely noticed, some parts of my site migrated while others did not. Support is aware of the issue and have prioritized resolving it. If that priority is numeric, it is a negative number.
green button

To say B3 is unapologetic about hobbling my site would overstate their level of engagement. My support ticket's status is “OPEN” and green, whatever that means. Drawing on my broad experience with global, crack teams of 24/7 web hosting gurus, I’ll tell you what it usually means: It means my ticket will lie quiescent—undisturbed by disruptions like troubleshooting—for 48 to 72 hours, then a system-generated email will break the silence with something like:

We haven't heard from you in 72 hours, so we are closing this ticket. If you have any questions or concerns you can reopen this ticket.

   §§§

In Ragged Column Toward the Sea

Today a kaleidoscope of seagulls swirled overhead
Climbing, spiraling as they flew, ever upward:
    Golden, sunlined wings
    A halo of heavenly motion
Then, on winds of change that ebb and turn
(Transparent, roiling currents mountain sent),
Headed west in ragged column toward the sea.

26 Feb 1989  

Ashton Kutcher?? Keanu Reeves should play Steve Jobs

keanu==jobs

Isn't it obvious that Keanu Reeves should get the Steve Jobs role?

Fast Video Download for Firefox delivers surprise payload

keyboard
some spyware

I’m not a huge fan of surpriseware.

If you recently updated the Firefox add-on, Fast Video Download from Applian Technologies, you may have noticed a little cartoon bubble now appears wherever you highlight online text. And perhaps like me you’ve become desensitized to all the little thingies that proliferate in the wiggly, wacky world of Web 2.0 and/or you didn’t detect a connection between the new icon and FVD.

I, for one, do not appreciate being excluded entirely from the decision to install software on my system.

In case you haven’t had a chance to investigate, the icon in question calls up a context menu for another (we’ll call it) add-on you won’t find in your add-on list: SearchMenu.

SearchMenu, which apparently was named KallOut at one time, is among other things — you guessed it — a menu of search engines. What distinguishes it from the native Firefox search box is its ability to grab selected text and search with it, using one of many customizable choices of search engines listed in a convenient, right-click menu.

The Add-on-Formerly-Known-As-KallOut appears to have been around for awhile (v1.0 in April 2008, according to the company website) and gets high marks from reviewers.

I guess the developers weren’t seeing the number of installations they would’ve liked and decided to ‘partner’ with Applian to take matters into their own hands: SearchMenu silently installs right along with Fast Video Download.

A quick scan reveals that SearchMenu is much more than just another handy Firefox tool — in fact, it’s adware.

Now I, for one, do not appreciate being excluded entirely from the decision to install software on my system. It may even be a great tool, but sneaking software onto my PC irreversibly taints the experience and is just bad form. It also makes me inquisitive, so I decided to take a closer look.

The trail leads back through a privacy policy link to the KallOut website [where, BTW, the name of the product is still in transition so things can get a bit confusing]. A quick scan reveals that SearchMenu is much more than just another handy Firefox tool — in fact, it’s adware. Among the disclosed uses for its proposed infoharvest: ‘to obtain relevant advertising content’ and ‘to provide anonymous reporting for internal and external clients’. I’ve seen enough.

As for removing SearchMenu — since it’s not listed as an add-on, uninstalling Fast Video Download appears to be the only option and, to that end, does work. So at least until the developers regain their senses, a replacement for FVD will need to be found. Coincidentally, reviews of the current version indicate that FVD itself has slipped. I welcome any recommendations.

Disturbing Sidebar: It looks like SearchMenu aka KallOut also takes the form of a Windows application, ‘seamlessly integrating…to deliver results in the context of any e-mail, document, presentation, spreadsheet or web page’.

So if unfamiliar icons start showing up in your slideshows and Word documents, now you’ll know why.   §§§

Sign of the times

reserved

Apparently, the Wells Fargo branch around the corner from my home gets robbed so often that police investigators have their own permanently reserved parking space out front.

But why stop there? With a Clarion right next door, why burn fossil fuels and response time by making the cops commute to the scene of the crime when they could have a suite within walking distance? Clearly the robbers are thinking green while the bank is not.   §§§

Yurman's First Law of Economics

classic VW bus

Okay, our topic today might more correctly be named ‘Yurman’s First Law of Nanoeconomics’ or ‘Yurman’s Proposition re Personal Finance’ or ‘Yurman’s Identity’, but none of those sing, and the last is just plain confusing. So with full deference to greater minds, I’m taking license and going with the original title.

Yurman’s First Law exposes an underlying predictability in an otherwise unpredictable and unavoidable component of personal finance: cash flow.

If you assimilate only one theorem, this one will serve you well. It was first proposed in the mid 70s by my dear friend, artist, artisan, ascetic, musician and thinker, Bruce Yurman. Through the years since, it’s proven itself to me often enough that I felt it deserved to be formalized, with credit to Bruce for his insight.

Now more than ever, the last thing any of us needs is another financial surprise. Yurman’s First Law exposes an underlying predictability in an otherwise unpredictable and unavoidable component of personal finance: cash flow.

Yurman’s First Law of Economics states simply that expenses equal income, expressed as:

-$ = +$

Bruce’s example was his transportation — a VW bus which must surely have been the prototype for all those that followed. He observed that, for any given sum of cash which might find its way into his hands, a repair to his bus costing an exactly equal amount would become immediately necessary: Earn $60 for playing a wedding = brakes fail on the way home = brake job @ $60; Sell a piece of handmade jewelry @ $150 = second gear stops engaging = transmission work @ $150, and so on.

This law is so reliable that, once familiar with it, one begins to see it occurs naturally in a wide range of scenarios. Here’s a more contemporary example: $100 for freelance coding = flu pandemic = antiviral meds @ $100.

I hope you find Yurman’s First Law of Economics as useful in projecting personal cash flow as I have, and that you benefit in these challenging times from the heightened state of awareness.   §§§

Outsourcing an Arizona icon

an unattended beer

There are any number of reasons for migrating to (that part of Mexico’s vast and mysterious Sonoran desert which we now call) Arizona. But if there was ever a single, compelling argument for staying, it used to be Crazy Ed’s Cave Creek Chili Beer — handcrafted at the wild edge of metro Phoenix by Crazy Ed Chileen since 1989.

With the first taste, you’re immediately quenched and refreshed by the beer, then lit up by the chili infusion which leads to a glowing sensation accompanied by an intense desire to have another swig.

If you’ve never tasted a chili beer, imagine a cold, crisp lager of Corona’s caliber, in which a fresh hot serrano pepper has been marinating since it was bottled. With the first taste, you’re immediately quenched and refreshed by the beer, then lit up by the chili infusion, leading to a glowing sensation accompanied by an intense desire to have another swig. Maybe it’s the desert heat or maybe it’s the chili but, in some of our tests, we have found that this cycle of consumption can continue for quite some time without a measurable reduction in the level of enjoyment.

hot serrano

Adding to the allure is its scarcity: Cave Creek Chili Beer has always been underdistributed. The connoisseur learns to snatch it up whenever it makes one of its rare appearances, as few retailers routinely stock it.

Sadly, Crazy Ed’s Cave Creek Chili Beer has been outsourced. It’s now called simply Chili Beer and brewed in Tecate, Mexico. This might have been good news given the town’s reputation for producing Tecate beer, hugely popular in the southwest.

Back in the day, we used to buy Tecate at Gemco in North Hollywood and often remarked at the condition of the containers — speculating that each can must be individually imported by rolling it across the border. I mention this only because it appears that a similarly heavy hand is applied in Tecate to the making of Chili Beer: The lager seems less crisp, the chili doesn’t seem so bright on the tongue, and the glow fades quickly to Maybe-I’ll-have-another-in-awhile, instead of a craving for the next cold one.

The upside may be a Chili Beer that finally gets the distribution it deserves. Unfortunately, it’s not Crazy Ed’s Chili Beer anymore.   §§§

From a 2019 interview with Mark Strothmann:

Strothmann: How did it come to be that you were able to meet up with Badfinger? Where were you in your career at that point?

Schell: Well, it was kismet. And where I was in my career at that point was: I was ready. I’d actually prepared for playing with Badfinger or a group of their stature for over a decade. And I was ready.

Musically, I’m a product of the British Invasion raised in the Deep South. My peers were Tom Petty and the Allman Brothers.

I met the band thru Peter Clarke, who was playing drums. Clarkie and I met in a bar across the street from where they were rehearsing for the Airwaves tour. He said they were looking for a second guitarist/vocalist who could play slide. We agreed it was a good fit, since I already knew their whole repertoire leading up to Airwaves: Since picking up a guitar in 1969, I’d studied and mastered all their recorded work beginning with Magic Christian.

Clarkie’s a warm, friendly guy, and he was very supportive from the get-go. He sat me down and pointed things out as we listened to Airwaves together. He gave me a copy and told me to learn it backward and forward, especially Joe Tansin’s parts and the vocal harmonies. I did.

I auditioned with Joey and Tommy, uplugged in Joey’s living room—presumably to hear how we sang together—and we started full rehearsals not long after that.

Badfinger Airwaves LP

Strothmann: When you started with them, was it known that you would only be with them for this performance?

Schell: When I started rehearsals, “Love Is Gonna Come At Last” was number 16 in Billboard. Then it stalled. A flurry of anxious phone calls and meetings between T & J and Joe Smith followed. The news spread quickly to the rest of us that Elektra had pulled promotional support from the single. That led to a precipitous drop in moods as well as in the charts. Rehearsals continued right up to taping The Midnight Special.

Strothmann: How did band practice go? Did you jell with them right away? (Sounds like it.) You come from a much harder rock background, how did that play into it?

Schell: If by ‘harder rock’ you’re referring to my work with The Hollywood Squares, you’re right—that’s edgier. That project was a brief, experimental detour into early L.A. punk, to shake off the Easy Listening coma of the early 70s. Musically, I’m a product of the British Invasion raised in the Deep South. My peers were Tom Petty and the Allman Brothers.

And don’t let the polished, powerpop sound you hear on Badfinger records fool you. We were all hard-core rockers! J & T liked to play fast and loud too. Listen to Joey’s guitar solo and Tommy’s vocal on “Look Out California”. That’s the real deal! Clarkie’s among my favorite rock drummers.

As far as rehearsal itself… Apparently, before my arrival it was decided that we wouldn’t be performing earlier hits and favorites on tour. I never voiced it, but I believe it’s a mistake for any popular act to eschew in concert their most popular work. It also makes for a very short song list, which results in short rehearsals and thus early arrivals at the pub. Thankfully, they later reversed their position on playing the hits.

The Hollywood Squares project was a brief, experimental detour into early L.A. punk, to shake off the Easy Listening coma of the early 70s.

Strothmann: Where in the South are you from? Did you play in bands that played with Petty & The Allman Brothers and/or were you friends?

Schell: I grew up in the Tampa Bay area and played most everywhere that existed in Florida at the time, so I worked pretty much the same circuit as the Allmans—one-nighters and opening for major acts, including The Who and The Hollies. Never crossed paths with Petty. I think the Heartbreakers/Mudcrutch were later and more Gainesville-based. Before Disney, Florida was a big state comprised of small and mid-sized towns miles apart, both geographically and culturally. Back then at least, most any serious musician got out ASAP—at least as far as Macon or Atlanta—or kept going... to Nashville, New York or the West Coast.

Strothmann: Do you have any stories about Tommy/Joey/others?

Schell: The group was pretty reserved offstage—so no stories of the hotel-trashing genre, I’m afraid.

Joey was the glue. And his L.A. story is the classic tale. According to Badfinger mythology, Joey was making ends meet by laying carpet in the San Fernando Valley when the Airwaves project was born. I completely related to that. I paid the rent by tuning pianos when I first got to town.

Tom was a man of few words. I really didn’t get to know him well at all.

Tony (Kaye)’s a nice guy. He had his own social circle. When the rest of us would go for a drink after, he’d head for the beach. Tony’s got a great resumé (laughs).

Last but not least would be Pete, our manager and Tommy’s chauffeur, and very much an indispensible part of the unit. He spoke US English like me, and was one of those amazing people who can keep a level head full of details amid the most stressful or chaotic of circumstances.

Although we never met, I admired Joe Tansin a great deal after studying his work on Airwaves. I believe, like myself, he prefers the more controlled environment of the studio, and his performances reflect that craftsman-like approach. Personally, I think they should have held onto Joe.

The Business was very, very hard on those guys. Not a day goes by that I don’t thank my lucky stars it didn’t consume me like it did them and so many others I admired.

Strothmann: When you left, was it in that you had done your job with them, or was it a parting of ways? What did you do after that?

Schell: It was a parting. Not due to different visions of the path forward, but rather a lack thereof. I was just one of many thru the revolving door.

After that, … Well, it looked like Joe Walsh & Timothy Schmit were in the Eagles for the long run (pun intended), and Fleetwood Mac was dissolving — so, with little remaining of the 70s, I welcomed the eighties and New Wave enthusiastically. A few projects in and out of the studio and a whole lot of fun. Then in the mid 80s I came to my senses. (laughs)

Strothmann: How did you find out about Tommy’s passing?

Schell: Somewhat symmetrically, I found out in much the same way I learned of Pete Ham’s passing: Someone said to me, “Did you know…?” The Business was very, very hard on those guys. Not a day goes by that I don’t thank my lucky stars it didn’t consume me like it did them and so many others I admired.

Strothmann: You say that Tommy was very quiet during your time with them. He battled severe depression; the tragedies he had to endure must have made things much more chaotic too. I know it may not be easy to recall, but did Tommy seem to be quiet because maybe he was depressed? …because normally people say Tommy was a wild man (laughs).

Schell: Not hard to recall. Well, yeah, sometimes it is: It was 1979. Just to clarify, I said Tommy was a man of few words, not that he was quiet (laughs).

Again, I didn’t know Tommy well; definitely not well enough to assess his state of mind. But I’ve had the mixed blessing of working closely with talented, highly creative people often enough, and I know what we call their “gift” is hardly without cost. They pay dearly for their work product in ways we cannot imagine—even in the best of times.   §§§

From a 2003 interview with Tom Brennan (Tom Brennan’s Badfinger Library):

Brennan: Do you know the date that the (Midnight Special) show was taped? I know that it was first aired on May 4, 1979.

Schell: It was taped on Wednesday, May 2, 1979. So that would work with a Friday May 4 air date.

Badfinger appearing on Burt Sugarman's Midnight Special, NBC, 1979

Brennan: Was “Airwaves” performed at the beginning, or did the performance start straight with “Look Out California”?

Schell: I honestly don’t recall the sequence. “Love Is Gonna Come At Last” was the single that was charted and in rotation at the time. Dynamically, it would seem logical to record that one first, but the show might have slotted the hit differently in editing.

Brennan: Were there other songs performed but not taped or not aired?

Schell: No, just the three.

Brennan: What did you mean (when you mentioned earlier) that Joey didn’t finish playing? Can you elaborate further on that part of the story?

Schell: Sugarman probably taped the equivalent of three or four shows that day. We were the last act to tape in a six- to eight-hour session. So from the wings throughout the day, we heard other artists—especially the headliners—do take after retake. When our turn came, we cranked thru our three tunes fairly quickly—one or two takes each. The engineering was dreadful. Whatever the last song was, Joey reasonably believed we should be permitted to do it one more time. He kicked it off, the band followed, and the stage crew promptly killed the mains. And that, as they say in Hollywood, was a wrap.   §§§

From a 2006 interview with Davis Everett Flanders:

Bob Schell - Badfinger - Midnight Special 1979

DEF: ‘Love Is Gonna Come At Last’, the group’s hit at the time Midnight Special aired, was based around a 12-string guitar. Why wasn’t 12-string used in the video as it was in the recording?

Schell: Good question! We rented a 12-string Rick (Rickenbacker) specifically to do the single on Midnight Special. Trouble was, when I plugged in the instrument sent over by the studio rentals, it didn’t play.

So the guitar roadie tore into it and announced shortly thereafter that the instrument’s electronics were hermetically sealed with what looked to be soda pop—silencing it for all practical purposes.

DEF: Did that mean last-minute changes to the arrangement—not having the 12-string?

Schell: Well, there’s a funny adjunct to the story along those lines: With the Rick out of the game, I sat down in the dressing room with my six-string and worked out a variation of the 12-string picking which, to my ear, more closely emulated the 12-string voicing than the original part played on six. As luck would have it Joey walked by and, hearing my variation on his guitar work, stopped in to, shall we say, point out its incorrectness. (laughs) So, no—no changes to that part of the arrangement. Truth be told, in the end the mix that aired was so flawed, with instruments and voices drifting in and out, six versus twelve became almost a non-issue.   §§§

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