Ed note: For many years, Joni was upset with Rolling Stone for calling her "old lady of the year" and publishing a chart of the people she dated. This is that article. In an interview with Details Magazine in 1996, Joni said "They made this elaborate diagram charting all these hearts I broke. I mean, I can't date? Am I a sinner for dating? That was kind of shocking. And it was the men on the list who called me up and said they were gonna make a complaint. After that, I was told that the magazine had a policy not to ever say anything nice about me. Like, The Hissing of Summer Lawns was named Worst Album of the Year in Rolling Stone." Truth be told, they never dubbed her "old lady of the year" and labelled Hissing the "worst album title of the year" - not the worst album. Download the chart above.
"It's all so very incestuous," said a Hollywood publicist who has represented many of those on the list of the Hollywood's Hot 100. "Musically, socially, romantically."
She started dropping names, saying how everybody knew about Delaney and Bonnie's Original Friends - Leon Russell, Jim Price, Bobby Whitlock, Bob Keys, Jim Keltner, Jerry McGee, Carl Radle and Rita Coolidge, nearly all of whom also appeared on albums by Eric Clapton, who stayed with Delaney and Bonnie when he was here, and Joe Cocker, who called some of the Original Friends his Mad Dogs (a name that comes from Shindogs) and Englishmen. They also appeared on Leon Russell's first album, she went on, along with Chris Stainton, who was with Joe Cocker's Grease Band when Leon began helping Joe out in the studio. Rita Coolidge has her own album too, on A&M, Joe Cocker's label. And who does she have backing her up? Guess.
"That's one level," said the publicist. "On another level, Leon used to go with Rita, who went with Jim Gordon and then with Graham Nash...(deep breath)...and Graham, you know, used to be Joni Mitchell's ole man - after David Crosby and before James Taylor. Well, Rita's sister Priscilla is married to Booker T. Jones and..."
It begins to read like a Thomas B. Costain novel, as the names and relationships twist and mix. These are the Hollywood Heavies, who along with under 100 more make up the Blue Book of L.A. Rock, Southern California's Aristrocracy of Amplification, a High Society whose membership comes from (loosely) half a dozen identifiable "families." It is a social/cultural structure that would shock and dismay the Astor and Vanderbilt clans, but it is a definable Society nonetheless. It is almost as if rock & roll has been given the ultimate legitimacy of having its own haut monde. It is fitting it happened in Tinseltown.
There is, of course, no way for these relationships to be absolutely accurate, comprehensive or sensibly organized, but if you'll bear with us, dear reader, if you'll follow them flowing (and dotted) lines, that bouncing ball, if you'll track the trail of broken hearts, why some patterns might begin to emerge sufficient to Explain all Mysteries.
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