Welcome to the Archives

This is my personal collection of classic interviews, favorite photos, and memorable moments in radio history. With over forty 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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Mick Jagger and The Rolling Stones

Mick Jagger and Dennis Elsas

Mick Jagger and Dennis Elsas

The Rolling Stones formed Rolling Stone Records in 1970 after leaving their original label Decca (London Records in the US.) They negotiated a deal with Atlantic Records to distribute the label and in 1978 they put-out only the second non-Stones related album Bush Doctor from Jamaican reggae artist Peter Tosh.

Atlantic asked me to write, produce, and voice a radio commercial to promote the album. I was happy to write and produce the spot, but suggested we might try having an additional announcer. “Why not ask Mick Jagger” I said half-jokingly. “After all it’s his record label.” To my total surprise and delight Mick agreed to it and what you’ll hear is some of what happened in the label’s mid-town Manhattan office as I attempted to coach Mick through the process.

Ronnie Wood – The Rolling Stones

Dennis Elsas with Ron Wood

Dennis Elsas with Ron Wood

There are a lot of different ways to celebrate New Year’s Eve, but I’ll always remember 12/31/82 as the one I got to spend with Ron Wood. Stopping by my show to promote an upcoming appearance, Ron and his entourage were clearly in a holiday mood. With a rock ‘n’ roll lineage that includes the Jeff Beck Group, the Faces, and the Stones he had some great stories to share, plus a comment about their upcoming album Undercover that made me hope the FCC wasn’t listening.

Bill Wyman — The Rolling Stones

Dennis Elsas with Ronnie Spector

Dennis Elsas with Bill Wyman

He’s played with a band called Willy and the Poor Boys and still performs with the Rhythm Kings, but Bill Wyman remains best known as the long time bass player for The Rolling Stones. He joined the Stones in Dec 1962 and for the next thirty years recorded and performed with the group as they became “the world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band”. Recently he reunited with them briefly as a special guest on stage as they kicked off their 50th anniversary celebration.

After leaving the Stones in 1992 to focus on getting his personal life straightened out, he has written numerous books, continued to play and record music and even opened a successful London restaurant called Sticky Fingers. An avid collector of many things, Wyman has often been called the Rolling Stones archivist. His impressive coffee table style Rolling With The Stones book is a wonderful insight into the band’s history, filled with a remarkable collection of photos, posters, ticket stubs, and stories that only he could tell.

I spoke to Bill Wyman in the fall of 2002 when the book was released and among the many subjects we covered, I wanted to learn the definitive story of how the band got their name.

Andrew Loog Oldham — The Rolling Stones

Rolling Stones

Andrew Loog Oldham began working as a young publicist in London in the early 1960’s, just as the British music, fashion and social scene were starting to explode. He was first an assistant to designer Mary Quant and then helped to promote The Beatles for Brian Epstein. He was just 19 years old when he went to see a relatively unknown group called The Rolling Stones. Before long he was their manager, producer and is generally credited with creating their “bad boy” image.

He left the Stones in 1967 and continued his work in the music business with his label Immediate Records which had a stellar roster of artists including Small Faces and The Nice.

In recent years he has published several entertaining autobiographies and memoirs, the latest is called Rolling Stoned. Currently he can be heard daily as a disc jockey on Sirius/XM’s Underground Garage sharing his vast knowledge of the music he presents and offering insights and opinions that are wonderful to listen to.

I spoke with Andrew in October 2012 when he came to WFUV to promote “Charlie is My Darling” a cinema verite film that chronicles the Stones on tour in Ireland in 1965. Finally completed more than 45 years after its original filming we get to view the Stones backstage and on-stage with some amazing footage I had never seen before. As part of the informal backstage rehearsal scenes, Mick and Keith sing bits of assorted Beatles’ songs along with working on new songs they’ve recently written.

I had always wondered how and why the Stones had come to record and release Lennon and McCartney’s “I Wanna Be Your Man” as their second single. I asked Andrew about his reported chance meeting with John and Paul in London’s Leicester Square and he filled me in on the details

The John Lennon Interview

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 can be heard in The Beatles Anthology, Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years, John Lennon’s Jukebox, and are 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) and the full interview transcript appears in the new book Lennon on Lennon. Here is part one:

 
PART TWO: Walls & Bridges
walls and bridges

Walls & Bridges

In part #2 of the interview we’re just coming out of the song “#9 Dream” from the newly released Walls and Bridges album. John tells us a bit about the track’s strange ending, the album cover art and the key players. We also talk about Beatles producer George Martin and John introduces the first of several “oldies but goldies” he’s brought along from his personal collection.

  
 
PART THREE: The Butcher Cover
walls and bridges

Yesterday and Today ‘Butcher Cover’

In this excerpt, we’re just coming out of two songs, the first which John had chosen to play. It was an obscure oldie, “Watch Your Step” by Bobby Parker that he brought along from his personal collection. He wanted to show how a particular musical “riff” in the song wound up influencing various songs including the Beatles’ “Day Tripper.” The conversation was unfolding live in real time. None of the music had been pre-selected.

walls and bridges

Yesterday and Today

As “Watch Your Step” played I pulled the Beatles’ album Yesterday and Today that contained “Day Tripper” from our massive wall of albums just behind us in the studio. As I cued the song up I instinctively asked him off-air about the album’s infamous cover, which was known then and now as the “Butcher Cover.” To my surprise and delight he quickly started to tell me the story so I politely stopped him and asked if we can do it live on-the-air. Without any hesitation he smiled and seemed eager to do so and it was at this point that I began to realize that maybe we could comfortably discuss some Beatles’ history along with promoting his then new Walls and Bridges album.

It was the first time he ever told the story live on-air and it set the tone for the rest of our conversation. Excerpts from this portion of the interview recently appeared in the Ron Howard documentary “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week”.

  
 
PART FOUR: John Lennon talks about ELO
showdown

Showdown

In this segment we’ve just played “I Call Your Name,” the first of several Beatles’ songs that John will discuss and offer some new insights into throughout the course of the interview. Commercials follow with the end of a spot for an upcoming appearance by The Joffrey Ballet prompting John to share his auntie’s unique perspective on male ballet dancer’s tights.

In addition to featuring his own album and some vintage 45RPM singles, we’ve chosen the current release from The Electric Light Orchestra to play next. John wants to point out that this song, like others he’s mentioned, has probably borrowed a riff or two from some earlier hits. He introduces the track referring to ELO as “Son of Beatles”. It is a comment that will please Jeff Lynne and the other members of ELO when they learn about it. Interestingly, the comment foreshadows Jeff’s future involvement in producing George Harrison and the Anthology Beatles’ reunion songs.

  

Additional portions will be posted soon. Join our contact list to learn about it first.

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.

Jerry Garcia – The Grateful Dead

Jerry Garcia

Jerry Garcia

When I met up with Jerry Garcia for a PM Magazine TV interview in a NY hotel room in late Fall 1984, the Grateful Dead were about to celebrate their 20th anniversary. The band had already begun to attract a second generation of Deadheads — extremely loyal fans who may have been too young to experience the 60’s firsthand, but were determined to embrace the experience in every way possible.

Jerry was in town to play a show with John Kahn at the nearby Capitol Theatre in Passaic, NJ. It was just one of several side projects he would often pursue. Relaxed and happy, it was surprising and sad when just a few months later he entered a difficult period that lasted nearly two years plagued by drug and health issues. Happily he and the band recovered to record 1987’s In the Dark, the album that would provide them with their first (and only) Top 10 single “Touch of Grey” (and the introduction of Cherry Garcia ice cream). “The long strange trip” would continue for almost eight more years until his untimely death in August 1995.

 

Memo From Scott Muni Regading The Grateful Dead

Memo From Scott Muni Regading The Grateful Dead

My first Dead working experience (not just as a listener) was as part of a historic broadcast on December 5, 1971, from New York’s Felt Forum a mid-sized theatre within Madison Square Garden. As was often the case that year, The New Riders of the Purple Sage were the opening act for the Grateful Dead. A Bill Graham production, it was the first live radio broadcast of the Dead in New York City and one of their earliest ever. We had the broadcast at 102.7 WNEW-FM and as the new kid on the staff, I was back at the studio to handle the station ID’s and be ready in case anything went wrong. In his role as Program Director, the legendary Scott Muni outlines the evening’s events as they are expected to unfold in this wonderful memo.

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.

Ringo Starr

Dennis Elsas with Ringo starr

Dennis Elsas with Ringo starr

He was the last to join the band and it felt like he was the last to leave. His songwriting and musical skills were overshadowed by the others and yet it was his steady backbeat that kept them moving forward.

Richard “Ringo” Starkey turns 77 this year, but you’d never know it as you watch him perform on tour with the “All-Starrs.”

Since 1989 he’s toured with an impressive and ever-changing group of musicians (including Edgar Winter, Levon Helm, Clarence Clemons and Rick Derringer) that serve both as his back-up band and co-stars. Playing their own classic hits and supporting Ringo on his, the show is a joyful experience filled with positive energy and great memories.

I caught up with Ringo in July 2006 backstage at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut just before a show. We talked about his latest group of “All-Starrs,” his most recent solo album and of course that other band, the Beatles

Almost two years later in January 2008 we sat down in a New York Hotel room across from Central Park as he reminisced about Liverpool, the music that influenced him as he was growing up, and possibilities of a reunion with Paul McCartney.