Welcome to the Archives

This is my personal collection of classic interviews, favorite photos, and memorable moments in radio history. With over fourty years on-the-air at WNEW-FM, WFUV and SiriusXM I’ve worked with an amazing group of musicians, artists and friends.

Take a look around, listen in and come back again to see what we’ve added.

Audio & video archives below. If you're interested in pictures only, click here to view the Gallery.

For more information regarding the complete interviews and/or use of the materials please contact archives@denniselsas.com

Rock 'n' Roll Never Forgets is a live multimedia presentation of the archives. Click here for a preview and details on our next show.

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John Lennon – The Walrus and Number 9

Dennis Elsas with John Lennon

Dennis Elsas with John Lennon

Without question my most memorable interview and on-air experience to date was on September 28, 1974, a Saturday afternoon I spent with John Lennon.

I had met him just a few weeks before at the Record Plant recording studio and casually asked him if he’d like to come up to the station to talk about his forthcoming album Walls and Bridges. I doubted anything would come of it, since none of the Beatles had ever visited our station before.  When he showed up eager to talk, bringing with him some obscure 45’s he wanted to share with the audience, I didn’t know what to expect.

What began as an opportunity to promote the new album, turned into two hours of rare Beatle stories, insights into his immigration struggles, and John as the DJ, introducing and commenting on all the music, commercials and weather.  Highlights from the interview were used in the Beatles Anthology and it is featured prominently in the award winning PBS American Masters film, LENNONYC.  The complete show is part of the permanent collection of the Paley Center For Media (formerly the Museum of Television and Radio).  Here are some favorite moments.

P.F. Sloan – Eve of Destruction

Dennis Elsas and P.F. Sloan

Dennis Elsas and P.F. Sloan

When I spoke with PF Sloan in the summer of 2006 he had just released Sailover his first new album in more than thirty years. There had always been an air of mystery surrounding his life and career and so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from our conversation. I was very intrigued to meet the man who wrote “Eve of Destruction”, one of the biggest hits of 1965 and still one of the defining protest songs of the era. He was also the co-writer with Steve Bari of some of my favorite pop songs of the 60’s including “You Baby” for the Turtles, “A Must to Avoid” by Herman’s Hermits and “Secret Agent Man” recorded by Johnny Rivers.

We talked about the new album and some of the guests that appeared on it including Lucinda Williams, Buddy Miller, and Frank Black. He was candid but cautious in providing the stories behind the songs both old and new, just adding a bit more to the mystery of his legacy. Bringing along his guitar he played a few songs from the new album and treated us to a wonderful live version of “Secret Agent Man.”

In the early 70’s Jimmy Webb wrote and the Association recorded the song “PF Sloan” which wondered aloud where had he gone. PF must have wondered also, since he was never able to find further fame and recognition within the emerging singer-songwriter scene. I was very sad to learn of his death from pancreatic cancer on November 15, 2015 at the age of 70.

Click here to listen to the full interview.

David Crosby

Dennis Elsas with David Crosby

Dennis Elsas and David Crosby

I sat down with David Crosby in early May 2015 during the final week of a spring tour with long-time band-mates Stephen Stills and Graham Nash. He was preparing to go out on a strictly solo tour: “no band” as he explained to me. It would be just him and his guitar without the “safety net” of CSN.

I had just seen Crosby Stills and Nash (CSN) a few nights earlier at a beautiful venue, the recently restored Kings Theatre in Brooklyn.  The group was in top form, and the audience totally engaged. David was very enthusiastic about how it had all unfolded.

We had a great conversation touching on a myriad of subjects including the legacy of CSN and their fans, the recent controversy centered on David’s criticism of long time bandmate Neil Young’s girlfriend, his positive feelings about his time in The Byrds and his relationship with Roger McGuinn, and how pleased he was with his most recent solo album Croz.   He was even quite open about giving up pot (at least for the time being) to meet the challenge of writing more new songs over the last few months as “the creative muse” was consistently paying him a visit.

Click here to listen to the full interview.

Little Richard

Little Richard

Little Richard

Little Richard, born Richard Penniman on December 5, 1932, is the self-proclaimed “architect of rock ‘n’ roll.” Never one to be shy about his musical contributions, you cannot underestimate his importance and everlasting influence in American popular music.

Beginning with “Tutti Frutti” in 1955 and continuing with “Long Tall Sally”, “Lucille,” “Good Golly Miss Molly,” “Rip It Up,” “Ready Teddy,” and so many more, his signature sound and look were defining contributions to the development of rock ‘n’ roll. From Paul McCartney’s falsetto “woos” to the pompadour of Prince, Little Richard’s style transcends generations of rock performers.

Richard’s career was never a smooth one. After an amazing string of hits on Specialty Records and show-stopping performances (including TV and film) he suddenly announced that he was abandoning rock ‘n’ roll for religion. In 1958 he formed the Little Richard Evangelistic Team and traveled across the country to preach. His musical releases turned to gospel, but while on tour in England in 1962 he began a return to rock. Greeted with enthusiastic audiences and adulation from young British rockers, it wasn’t long before he was back touring as the headliner. Among his opening acts on that tour were the up and coming Beatles and later, The Rolling Stones.

His touring band, The Upsetters, featured the teenage keyboard player Billy Preston and a developing guitarist named Jimmy (later Jimi) Hendrix who joined the Upsetters in 1964. Jimi only lasted till the following year. He was fired over his tardiness, wardrobe, and especially his on-stage antics which threatened to upstage the legendarily flamboyant Richard.

Throughout the rest of the 60’s and 70’s, Little Richard recorded for a succession of record labels and often was featured as a guest performer on other artists’ records. He quit rock ‘n’ roll again in 1977 after battling alcohol and drug abuse and returned to evangelism.

He began another comeback in the mid-80’s with the release of his authorized biography, Quasar of Rock: The Life and Times of Little Richard and that’s when I had the opportunity to talk with him. It was my first assignment as the rock correspondent for TV’s PM Magazine and a fitting way to begin my latest adventure in rock ‘n’ roll. We filmed the segment at the Limelight, a New York City nightclub that was once a church in the fall of 1984. It was the perfect setting for the rocker evangelist who was about to be born once again.

In January 1986 Little Richard was one of the original ten performers inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Later that year he had a featured role in the acclaimed film “Down and Out in Beverly Hills” and soon became a frequent guest on numerous TV talk and variety shows. He resumed recording and touring and finally seemed to be receiving the recognition he deserved for his contributions to the musical genre he had helped to create.

Richard announced his retirement in the fall of 2013, just shy of his 81st birthday following a heart attack, but remained very resolute about his legacy. “When I started in show business,” he told Rolling Stone magazine, “there wasn’t no such thing as rock ’n’ roll. When I started with ‘Tutti Frutti’ that’s when rock really started rocking.”

Robert Plant – Led Zeppelin

Robert Plant

Robert Plant

Robert Plant keeps moving forward with his musical choices, without abandoning or ignoring his glorious past. Since Led Zeppelin ended in December 1980 (following the death of their drummer John Bonham) Plant has recorded numerous solo albums, reunited with Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page for several projects, and ventured into Americana and world music. He successfully and surprisingly teamed up with bluegrass star Alison Krauss in 2007 and then joined Patty Griffin and Buddy Miller for Band of Joy in 2010 and took up residence in Austin, Texas.

In 2014 Robert decided it was time to return home – the West Midlands region of England. His latest album lullaby and… The Ceaseless Roar was recorded there with his current band The Sensational Space Shifters.  I spoke with him from a studio in the English countryside not far from where he grew up and currently lives. We talked about the new album, his upcoming shows in the area, his love for soccer and why despite all the musical and personal changes, there’s still a part of his song that remains the same.

Click here to listen to the full interview.

Nils Lofgren

Dennis with Nils Lofgren

Dennis & Nils Lofgren

Nils Lofgren is probably the only person who has played guitar or piano with all of these bands: Neil Young’s Crazy Horse, Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band and Ringo’s All-Starr’s, and his new 9CD/1DVD Box set Face the Music chronicles everything else about his amazing forty-five plus year career.

This new collection is a wonderful mix of the familiar and the rarities, beginning with his early power pop band Grin and moving through his highly acclaimed solo albums of the 70’s and 80’s, and the continuing evolution of his music since then. In addition to the 169 tracks hand picked by Nils, the set comes with a beautifully prepared 136 page booklet. It’s a comprehensive retrospective spotlighting a great period of rock history with detailed commentary about all the songs and great insights into the music from Nils and many of the artists he’s worked with.

I recently had the chance to sit down and catch up with Nils whose music and voice I’ve loved and played throughout the various phases of his career. In this clip you’ll hear how Nils contributed to the recording of Neil Young’s Southern Man and why Keith Richards is the subject of one of his best known songs.

Click here to listen to the full interview.

Graham Nash

Dennis with Graham Nash

Dennis with Graham Nash

I didn’t realize that I was listening to Graham Nash when I first heard his voice coming out of my AM radio as part of The Hollies.

It was the mid 1960’s and his group was yet another one of those hit-making English bands that was part of the British Invasion. Their songs, including “Bus Stop,” “Look Through Any Window,” and “On a Carousel” stood out with their soaring harmonies and crisp production. However, just a few years later in 1969, I would become very familiar with Graham’s name as he joined with David Crosby and Stephen Stills to create an amazing debut album – Crosby, Stills and Nash. Its unique sound from a magical blend of voices and a diverse collection of original songs helped to define the new FM radio sensibilty and the beginnings of a musical genre.

Graham and his mates were joined within a year by Neil Young and over the next forty years they would continue to perform, record, break-up, and re-unite as a quartet, trio, duo, or solo act. Embracing political activism and making social commentary became an important part of their musical statement, but their songs never lost their universal appeal and timeless quality. Though each of the group’s members created a separate and strong individual profile, a CSNY identity remained and it was Graham that made sure they never drifted too far apart.

I sat down with Graham Nash in the summer of 2014 just shortly after he had overseen the production and release of CSNY 1974 – a beautiful audio/visual collection capturing the band during one of their most memorable tours. He had also recently completed his fascinating autobiography “Wild Tales” chronicling his historic musical and personal journey. We covered a lot of ground and began our conversation with the opening of his book.

Click here to listen to the full interview.

The Who – Roger Daltrey

Under a raging moon

Under a Raging Moon

Roger Daltrey was just 21 years old in 1965 when he sang “hope I die before I get old” on My Generation, one of the Who’s earliest signature songs. It didn’t take long for that lyric line to take on ironic significance as The Who continued to tour and record over the next four decades.

Roger turned 70 this past March 1, 2014 and this truly classic rocker is still busy with an assortment of musical projects and an ongoing commitment to the charities Teenage Cancer Trust and Teen Cancer America.

I interviewed Roger Daltrey in 1985 for PM Magazine while he was promoting his then newly released solo album Under a Raging Moon. It had been just three years since the Who had broken up (for the first time) and Roger was already reflecting back on “his generation” at the age of 42.

The Who – Pete Townshend

Dennis Elsas with Pete Townshend

Dennis Elsas with Pete Townshend

Meeting Pete Townshend in the 1970’s, I was pleasantly surprised when he told me he often listened to my nighttime show.  I wondered how that was possible, as he was living in England at the time. Pete explained that he had tapes of WNEW-FM sent to him regularly and that he often listened to my show while driving his daughter to school.

Being a huge Who fan, that was a great image to enjoy.

We’ve met up again several times since then and it was on his June 16, 1993 visit to promote his solo project Psychoderelict that he recalled his first NY appearance and the secret behind all those smashed guitars.

Elton John

Dennis Elsas & Elton John

Dennis Elsas & Elton John

Elton John was a frequent and welcome guest at WNEW-FM in the 1970’s.  One of his most historic visits happened November 29, 1974, the day after Thanksgiving, when he stopped by to co-host my show.  The night before he had performed at Madison Square Garden and welcomed a “surprise” guest on-stage.  Though no one could have imagined it at the time, it would turn out to be John Lennon’s final concert performance and we discussed how it happened.