Wednesday, May 16
Jonathan and Nicole by Elsa Dorfman*
Copyright Elsa Dorfman 2007 all rights reserved
Mr. Richman was born in Boston in 1951. He started to draw pictures all day long from the age of 5. Played baseball all day long from the age of 9. This would not leave time for anything else, would it?
He took up guitar at 15, started playing in public at 16, and by 17 had caused many people to leave coffee-houses... quickly... with their hands over their ears, and by 18 was sure he wanted to sing professionally. He promised himself that if it ever became work instead of fun he'd quit that day. And... if it ever does, he will.
He left home at age 18, moving to New York. Since he was ten years old and first was taken there by his parents, he wanted to live there and also his favorite rock band The Velvet Underground was there along with the artist Andy Warhol (since deceased). Now this band we just mentioned... they had a big effect on young Richman. Yes, he admired their sincerity, their dark sound, and their ability to improvise both lyrics and music onstage.
His first place to stay in Manhattan was on the couch of the personal manager of this Velvet Underground. After two weeks the manager and his wife and the other person staying there felt that Jonathan... well... might be more appropriately situated somewhere else. (Since this is me writing this thing I can say that this means I was such a stinking disgusting slob that even my friends couldn't stand it and two weeks must have been plenty.) (Of course now I'm much more mature.) His next move was to New York's legendary (and rat infested) Hotel Albert which is where he lived until he left New York nine months later. He immediately found work as a busboy (unbelievably incompetent) [Max's Kansas City, where Deborah Harry worked as well, as a waitress -rb] and as a foot messenger on Wall St. and later for Esquire magazine.
One afternoon in frustration at not being able to find a place to sing his new songs, (among which were "Roadrunner," "Pablo Picasso," and "Girlfriend" later to become popular when he sang them with his band), he went up to the roof of the cockroach infested Hotel Albert. Strumming an electric guitar without any amplifier, (that means ya can't hear it), he stood near the edge of the roof and yelled his music at the pedestrians eight stories below. Mr. Richman was delighted with the attention he was getting as the crowded sidewalk on University Place at 10th St. started to overflow with people staring up at him. But... he thought it was 'cause he was so great and not the real reason which was they thought he was maybe going to JUMP or at least that he should be giving the matter some serious consideration. Then the police arrived. (I knew it was time for my show-stopper, so to speak.) ... read the rest of this piece written by Jonathan Richman at modernlovers.com
more "Jonathan Writes" at modernlovers.com
Jonathan Richman - Wikipedia
Elsa's Rocker Portraits: Peter Wolf and Jonathan Richman and Tommy Larkins
*Elsa Dorfman, Portrait Photographer