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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Ray Davies – The Kinks

Dennis Elsas with Ray Davies

Dennis Elsas with Ray Davies

Of all the bands to come out of the British Invasion I always thought that the Kinks’ music was the most representative of life in England. Their long time leader and primary songwriter, Ray Davies, captured the characters of his North London upbringing (Muswell Hill) with clarity and wit. He also wound up writing and recording one of the best songs ever about Hollywood, two of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll hits of the 60’s and so many more.

In the fall of 2009 he toured and released a new album called the Kinks Choral Collection and we explored some of those wonderful Kinks Classics.

To listen to my full interview with Ray Davies click here

Mel Brooks

Dennis Elsas with Mel Brooks

Dennis Elsas with Mel Brooks

Mel Brooks is truly an original, a one of a kind, and one of the few entertainers to win an Oscar, a Tony, an Emmy and a Grammy. I had the opportunity to talk with him at length on March 27, 1978. He was promoting an album that featured both the soundtrack to his latest film High Anxiety and musical highlights from his earlier movies billed as his “Greatest Hits.”

What a night – spending the evening as the straight man with the original “Two Thousand Year Old Man”, creator of Get Smart and the director/writer of Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles and so many more. Of course we talked about The Producers and it’s interesting to hear what he thought the future of it might be, more than two decades before it became one of the most successful Broadway shows ever. As the interview began, it was obvious he had gotten some background information on me that still makes me (and my Mom) smile.

John Mellencamp

Dennis Elsas with John Mellancamp

Dennis Elsas with John Mellancamp

“I Need a Lover” by John Cougar (not Mellencamp at the time) was one of my favorite records of 1979. I became friendly with John, introduced him to NY on-stage at the Bottom Line and our relationship grew throughout the years. Combining commercial success with social activism (and helping to establish Farm Aid), John’s never been shy to speak his mind on a variety of subjects. When we sat down to discuss his 2003 album Trouble No More, he offered some surprising insights into how he viewed his own celebrity and we shared a mutual passion for an old 45 RPM single.

John Fogerty – Creedence Clearwater Revival

Dennis Elsas with John Fogerty

Dennis Elsas with John Fogerty

Creedence Clearwater Revival was one of the most successful bands of the late 1960’s and early 70’s.

Their leader, John Fogerty, emerged as a performer with one of the most distinctive vocal and guitar sounds in rock ‘n’ roll.  Many of the songs he wrote and recorded became not only rock classics, but also political touchstones of the period.

Disbanding the group in 1972, he went on to pursue a solo career and continued making memorable music.

Despite his success, there were lengthy legal battles with his former record company and bandmates that made it difficult for him to embrace CCR’s legacy.

In 2005 John finally made peace with his past symbolized by re-signing with his former record company (Fantasy Records, now under new ownership).  He has since released several CD’s and DVD’s including Revival which was released in October 2007.

We spoke in the fall of 2004 and again in 2007 about his latest releases, and, of course, that classic Creedence sound.

Gregg Allman

Dennis Elsas with Gregg Allman

Dennis Elsas with Gregg Allman

He’s always been an Allman Brother. Together with his older sibling Duane they evolved from the Allman Joys to The Hour Glass to the band that would define Southern Rock. Their signature sound blending rock, blues, country, jazz and jam was a staple of the early progressive FM airwaves and remains just as popular today. It hasn’t always been easy for the band to stay together, but forty plus years later they’re still performing sold-out shows to an ever-growing fan base.

In June 2010 it was a surprise to learn that Gregg had just undergone a successful liver transplant after suffering from Hepatitis C. He returned to limited performing in October and just a few months later released his first solo album in fourteen years Low Country Blues. It’s primarily a collection of covers originally done by his early blues heroes.

The album had been recorded with producer T Bone Burnett before his operation and we spoke about it in January 2011. Gregg told me how a radio station had turned him on to the blues when he was a kid and how he had selected the songs for this new collection. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to ask about those legendary Allman Brothers NYC shows captured on Live at Fillmore East and he shared a surprising secret about that classic album’s artwork.

Grace Slick – Jefferson Airplane

Dennis Elsas with Grace slick

Dennis Elsas with Grace slick

The “voice that may have launched a thousand trips”, Grace Slick is best known for her work with the Jefferson Airplane.  As the Airplane morphed into the Starship in the 70’s, Grace continued to record with them, while also releasing solo albums.  By the 80’s the band had become an on-again off again act, but during her visit to my show on Feb 8, 1984 promoting her new album Software, she recalled one of their biggest hits.

Jorma Kaukonen – Hot Tuna and Jefferson Airplane

Dennis Elsas & Jorma Kaukonen

Dennis Elsas & Jorma Kaukonen

As a founding member of Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna, Jorma Kaukonen has long been an important and respected figure in rock and roll history.

Though the original Airplane disbanded in 1972 and Hot Tuna has been through various changes of personnel and status, Jorma has never stopped performing and recording. His unique fingerstyle guitar playing has been heard in numerous solo projects and together with Jack Cassady he’s often back on the road as Hot Tuna.

Jorma and his wife Vanessa own and operate the Fur Peace Ranch, a music and guitar camp in the hills of Southeast Ohio. Aspiring musicians from all over the world travel there to study with Jorma and an amazing array of guitar masters.

When he visited with me along with fellow musician Barry Mitterhoff, in January 2008 he shared some early Airplane/Tuna history.

Meat Loaf

Dennis Elsas with Meatloaf

Dennis Elsas with Meatloaf

In 1977  Meatloaf emerged as something other than what’s good on the menu. With the amazing success of  the album Bat Out of Hell, Meat (or Mr. Loaf as the NY Times once referred to him) and his songwriting partner Jim Steinman had created an instant rock classic.   Shortly after it’s release, we sat down in a New York recording studio to explore this diverse collection of theatrical rock ‘n’ roll produced by Todd Rundgren. Among other things, I wanted to find out how New York Yankee legend Phil Rizzuto had become a pivotal part of “Paradise By the Dashboard Light.”

Nearly thirty years later (Aug 17, 2006) Meatloaf and I would sit-down again, only this time it was at WFUV as he was just about to release Bat Out of Hell 3.

You can hear the entire show here

Vintage Fresh Phish 1994

Phish

Hoist

Formed at the University of Vermont in 1983 Phish emerged by the 1990’s as the most popular of a new generation of Jam Bands. Often compared to the Grateful Dead for their improvisational concert style and a fervent fan base that followed them across the country, they mixed rock, folk, jazz and funk into a sound that was ever-changing until their 2004 break-up. Five years later they’ve reunited for a triumphant reunion tour and a brand new album Joy.

Their album Hoist had just been released when they visited me on April 13, 1994 for a lunchtime in-studio mini-concert and interview. Trey Anastasio, Page McConnell, Mike Gordon and Jon Fishman were in good spirits as they prepared for their first ever show at New York’s Beacon Theatre that night. Trey (who does most of the talking) explores the band’s history, his recently broken foot, the possibility of a Snapple commercial and more in this memorable clip.

Donovan

Dennis Elsas with Donovan

Dennis Elsas with Donovan

Donovan Phillips Leitch was born in Scotland in 1946 and moved with his family to the outskirts of London when he was ten. With Scotish and English folk music as his early influences, he dropped out of art school to pursue life on the road as a musician. His early success with the acoustic based songs “Catch the Wind”, “Colours” and “Universal Soldier” had some calling him the British Bob Dylan. Joan Baez and Pete Seeger introduced him to American audiences at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival.

Teaming up with successful pop producer Mickie Most, Donovan’s records took on a new sound and he had his first #1 hit with “Sunshine Superman” in 1966. It was the same year that he became the first well known British pop star to be busted for possession of marijuana. With the follow-up hit “Mellow Yellow” and it’s line “electrical banana is gonna be a sudden craze” fueling the myth that smoking dried banana skins could make you high, Donovan was labeled as a poster child for the hippie drug culture that had emerged. Though he would eventually move past that image, it did serve as part of the inspiration for one of his most memorable songs “Season of the Witch”. We talked about it when I interviewed him in July 2004 promoting his latest album Beat Café.