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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Elvis Costello

Dennis Elsas with Elvis Costello

Dennis Elsas with Elvis Costello

When Elvis Costello visited with me at WFUV in April 2002, it was the day before the official release of his then latest album When I Was Cruel. It was already the nineteenth album of his career that began in the mid 1970’s; and in the years since he’s released six more.

In addition to his own work, he’s also participated in numerous other collaborative efforts and was commissioned to compose an opera and a ballet. He’s hosted a critically acclaimed television music interview show “Spectacle” and continued to tour extensively. His 2015 memoir Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink offers almost seven hundred pages discussing many of these subjects, and is a thoughtful perspective on his career. In this interview we talked about his return to an earlier “sound,” while still moving ever forward in exploring different stylistic approaches. He was charming and witty and related how appearing in a brief cameo in “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me” provided a new opportunity to attract fans.

Patti Smith

Dennis Elsas and Patti Smith

Dennis Elsas and Patti Smith

The first time I ever heard a Patti Smith record I didn’t know what to make of it. It was her cover of Van Morrison’s “Gloria”, a favorite AM hit of mine from the mid-60’s by the Chicago band The Shadows of Knight. Patti’s version was not just different, it was startling – mixing spoken word, religious references and her distinctive voice with a rock‘n’roll backbeat. When Arista Records released her debut album Horses in 1975 they asked me to provide the voice-over for the radio commercial that was aimed at letting the audience know just what this new artist was all about.. Almost 20 years later I got to ask Patti to explain it all to me when she came to WFUV for a live performance with her band to promote her then new album Trampin’. Here’s the original commercial from 1975 followed by highlights from my interview and her performance in 2004.

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.

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.

Crosby, Stills and Nash

Crosby, Still & Nash

CSN

I knew CSN were talking about doing their first “covers” album with premiere producer Rick Rubin, but wanted to know exactly what songs they were doing. So I asked them on Oct 29th, 2009 backstage at the first night of the two-night 25th Anniversary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Concert at Madison Square Garden.

It turns out they plan on recording songs by everyone from Dylan to the Dead to the Stones.

Click on the video below to see them tell me all the details.

In early January 2o11 CSN announced they had parted ways with Rick Rubin (and Columbia Records) having grown impatient waiting for him to finish other projects and resume work with them. When I spoke with David Crosby in May 2015 he said it was still a possibility that they might release some of the songs they have since recorded, including a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Girl from the North Country.”


Related Archives:
David Crosby & Graham Nash

Joni Mitchell

Clouds

Clouds

For the generation that came of age during the emergence of the folk-rock singer-songwriters, Joni Mitchell has always been one of the most influential and admired performers. With legendary songs like “The Circle Game” and “Woodstock”, defining albums including Clouds, Blue, and Ladies of the Canyon, and genre breaking excursions into jazz and beyond, Joni has never stopped evolving as an artist.

We spoke in the fall of 1985 as she was promoting her latest album Dog Eat Dog. She was gracious and open and happily receptive to my questions regarding some earlier Joni classics including “Both Sides Now” and an obvious DJ favorite about the radio

Paul Simon

Dennis Elsas with Paul Simon

Dennis Elsas with Paul Simon

As a student at Queens College in the mid 1960’s, I started to hear rumors that one half of a new folk rock duo that was getting airplay, was a recent graduate of our school. The alum was Paul Simon who along with his partner, Art Garfunkel, had grown up in nearby Forest Hills and would soon become known worldwide.  By the time they split up in the early 70’s, I was on-the-air at WNEW-FM and introducing their solo projects to my listeners.  Paul especially was trying out new musical genres and he was my in-studio guest on September 8, 1986 to discuss his latest project, the groundbreaking album Graceland.

Seventeen years (and one day) later on September 9, 2003, Simon and Garfunkel announced their long awaited reunion.  It was called the Old Friends tour, based on a song title that was part of their classic Bookends album.  I arranged for a live radio broadcast of the event over WFUV live from The Bottom Line club and here are highlights from that press conference and performance.

Click here to listen to the full audio.

Ronnie Spector

Dennis Elsas with Ronnie Spector

Dennis Elsas with Ronnie Spector

She had that unmistakable voice and pioneered a rock ‘n’ roll style and look all her own.

Veronica Bennett burst onto the pop music scene in 1963 with one of the greatest pop records of all time, “Be My Baby.” As the lead singer of the Ronettes and a cornerstone of producer Phil Spector’s “Wall of Sound,” their music leaped out of your transistor radio with hits like “Baby I Love You” and “Walking in the Rain.” She married Phil in 1968 and officially took the name Ronnie Spector, but that union almost ended her career because of Phil’s strange and often violent behavior.

Eventually she got out of the marriage and slowly made her way back to performing and recording. The 1980’s found her working with Bruce Springsteen, “Little Steven” Van Zandt, Southside Johnny and many other industry admirers. Her hard work cumulated in 1986 with the Top 5 hit “Take Me Home Tonight” – a duet with Eddie Money- which re-introduced her to a loving audience. She recently created a multi-media show “Beyond the Beehive” to tell her own story in words and music and vintage memories.

When we talked in December 2010 she was just beginning to plan that new show and told me of her earliest influence, Frankie Lymon. I finally had the opportunity to tell her how much the Ronettes appearance in an early 1960’s Murray the K holiday concert had meant to me as part of the experience of attending my first live Rock ‘N’ Roll show.

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.”

Richie Havens

Dennis Elsas with Richie Havens

Dennis Elsas with Richie Havens

The first time I ever met Richie Havens was in May 1968. I was working at my campus station WQMC (Queens College) and he was a rising folk-star and a staple of the newly blossoming FM airwaves. We talked at his manager’s office on East 55th Street and it was the first artist interview I ever did for the radio. It would be over a year later in August 1969 that a much larger audience would be introduced to him and experience his musical power as he electrified the opening of the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival.

We met and spoke many times through the years after that both on and off the air.
In May 2008 (40 years after that initial interview) I was hosting an event for the opening of the Museum at Bethel Woods (on the site of the Woodstock Festival). It was the perfect opportunity to ask Richie just how he happened to become the opening act of the Festival.

Just a few months later we were together again. This time it was in Studio A at WFUV, as Richie was promoting his newly released album Nobody Left to Crown, telling stories, performing live and making everyone that met him that day feel just a little bit better. His recent passing, on April 22, 2013, has left a great void not only in the musical world but also among his many fans and friends who experienced his positive and spiritual energy.

Listen to that complete show here.