Tag Archives: Joe Elliott

Crimson Tide Movie Origin

“Rammer Jammer, Yellowhammer, give ’em hell, Alabama!”

Despite the fact that Kurt Cobain made a connection to Charles Barkley who in 1983 played for Auburn University before going pro, I am a die-hard University of Alabama Crimson Tide fan. 

One of the most iconic figures in SEC football, Paul William “Bear” Bryant, passed away only days after Def Leppard’s Pyromania album was released on January 20th 1983.   

The day after the concert, May 16, 1983, when Joe Elliott and Kurt Cobain showed up at my front door after school, my room was decorated with memorbilia of my school (colors also being red and white) and the Crimson Tide.

While trying to promote the Lipizzaner Stallions touring the U.S. in April 1983, PBS aired a documentary of the stallions at the Spanish Riding School in Austria which I watched.

 There was a discussion later where I argued with someone about whether or not the stallions were from Spain or from Austria.

In August 1989, on the same trip to Gulf Shores which inspired the name for the band 3 Doors Down, I also made a short trip over to Mobile, Alabama to the Battleship Memorial Park.  We crawled around the USS Alabama and the submarine the USS Drum.  Also, at the park happen to be the USS Lexington which has since been moved to Corpus Christi, Texas. 

 (picture of me on the USS Drum submarine)

 

 

 

When I wrote the song Tourniquet to be performed by Evanescence, I make reference to the Crimson Tide.

 “I tried to kill the pain
but only brought more
so much more
I lay dying
and I’m pouring crimson regret and betrayal” – Tourniquet


Valkyrie Movie Origin

“It’s bigger than Germany” – Love Bites performed by Def Leppard

In a previous post I’ve mentioned how Amy means Beloved, to Love, and that I am of English and German descent according to my adoption records.  This is origin for the beginning line in the song Love Bites.

These are things Tom Cruise knew about me.  They all knew about me actually. 

One day Kurt Cobain and Tom were carrying on a conversation and I felt a little ignored.  So, to entertain myself I started singing, “Kill the Wabbit” from “What’s Opera, Doc?  Tom started laughing but then realized it was from Ride of the Valkyries, the popular term for German composer Wagner’s Act III of “Die Walküre”.

That wasn’t my only contribution.  Over the years they would ask my favorite movies and actors who had made an impression on me.  One such movie happened to be Kenneth Branagh’s adaption of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing released in ’93.  At about the same time of this movie I had also taken notice of commedian and actor Eddie Izzard.

To commemorate this brainstorming idea, Kurt had a picture made with a rabbit.

Yes, even Kurt’s love of turtles had a meaning.  Turtle is the nickname I gave Joe Elliott of Def Leppard.


Alice In Chains

Ain’t found a way to kill me yet
Eyes burn with stinging sweat
Seems every path leads me to nowhere
Wife and kids, household pet
Army green was no safe bet
The bullets scream to me from somewhere
Yeah they come to snuff the rooster” – Rooster

Alice In Chains was another Seattle band which early on Kurt Cobain co-founded and I wrote a few songs for them.  Including “Man in a Box” which I explained in an earlier post.

The idea for the song Rooster came from learning about the history of another Alabama native, Record Producer Sam Phillips famous for discovering Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Howlin’ Wolf .  In the 1960’s Howlin’ Wolf released a song by the name of The Red Rooster (sometimes called Little Red Rooster).

Inspiration for the beginning of the song Rooster and the music video came from Def Leppard’s “Die Hard the Hunter” from their 1983 album Pyromania.

Other influences on Alice in Chain were in music videos.  For “Man in a Box” there is a monk for the ones in Def Leppard’s Rock of Ages video, Joe Elliott told me was inspired by Jimmy Page’s dream sequence in Led Zeppelin’s film “The Song Remains The Same”.  When I was 15 my Halloween costume was inspired by the Rock of Ages monks and Kurt Cobain made a drawing of it for a Nirvana concert poster.

Kurt Cobain was also known to have a collection of toy monkeys and there is one in the music video for “Grind”.


Poker Face Origins

“I wanna hold em’ like they do in Texas please
Fold em’ let em’ hit me raise it baby stay with me (I love it)
Luck and intuition play the cards with Spades to start
And after he’s been hooked I’ll play the one that’s on his heart”

The headline under the picture says Poker Face which inspired me to write the song which would eventually be performed by Lady Gaga

The article to the right of the picture is another one about Lithium possibly being able to reduce the desire for alcohol which I was interested in for my dad and inspired the songs performed by Nirvana and Evanescence.  This particular article was printed the day I met Joe Elliott and Kurt Cobain.

The stage name for Lady Gaga was inspired by when Diana Spencer, the future Princess of Wales, title was Lady Diana and for Queen’s Radio Ga Ga released in 1984.  The inspiration for her style or persona was the lead singer for the ’80’s band Missing Persons.

I wrote other songs as well, including Paparazzi.


Man In The Mirror

I have written alot about knowing Michael Jackson, but not really about knowing Michael himself.  He was definitely an extraordinary man.  It was fun working on projects with him.  He was a kid at heart.  But, who isn’t or wouldn’t want to be a kid again?  One could only dream of the life he lived and being able to decide at the spur of a moment to want to build a fairytale park for kids or even create cartoons for kids and adults alike, including Pinky and The Brain and Sponge Bob.  We worked on ideas and dialogue for Pinky and The Brain together along with some other artists. 

Michael was a very influential artist, with a lot of powerful friends in the entertainment business, and other artists flocked to him.  We all are strange to outsiders, but only those willing to get close enough could truly understand us or our motives. 

Since I was still a kid myself when we met, while working on songs together he would make it a word game for me.   I remember laughing alot when he was around despite the main objective being to produce new songs.

I never got to spend as much time with Bubbles as I would have liked.  While still little, I would sing to him and make up new songs, one being Come Away With Me eventually to be performed by Norah Jones.  Bubbles would usually put his head on my shoulder and his hand over my mouth while I would sing.  It reminded me of when I read the biography of another Alabama native, Helen Keller.  I remembered her teacher, Anne Sullivan, would place Helen’s hand over her mouth while trying to teach her.  I suggested to MJ he should teach or have someone teach Bubbles’ sign language.  Bubbles’ trainer cringed when I started trying to teach him to give me a kiss. 

Kurt Cobain would call Bubbles his little buddy.  I know most people think that Kurt was weird, even I did at times, but he was a very talented and dedicated artist as well.  He started a collection of toy monkeys inspired by his little buddy which were used in the Sliver music video and a picture of MJ is on the wall.

 It took MJ five years to produce his next album after the success he had with his ’82 hit album Thriller.  Thriller was in direct competition with Def Leppard’s ’83 album Pyromania on the charts.  During those five years he was a very busy man.

Michael’s next album released in 1987 and titled “Bad”.  The songs I know what inspired them are as follows:

Dirty Diana – I know who it is about, but I’m not going to tell you.

Bad – One day we were joking around and I told MJ he was being bad and starting singing “You know I’m bad, I’m bad-
you know it”.

Smooth Criminal – The idea for this song came from lyrics in the song Joe Elliott and I worked on together titled Pour Some Sugar On Me.  “Easy operator come a knockin’ on my door” which the idea came from one of my favorite Disco era songs Knock on Wood performed by Amii Stewart.  Annie mentioned in the song is me, as in Little Orphan Annie.  My foster parents gave me the name due to my curly red hair since I was unnamed by my birthmother.  My adopted mother named me Amy.

Man In The Mirror – Michael got the idea to do this song from one of my favorite early Def Leppard songs titled Mirror Mirror (Look Into My Eyes).  Kurt Cobain did a little home movie and in it he is staring into a mirror (pictured).

 

PINKY AND THE BRAIN

The Brain: I will accept nothing less than mahogany.

Pinky: There is no substitute for Diana Ross.

I actually came up with this line for Pinky.  The idea behind it was Amii Stewart’s Knock on Wood and MJ’s friend Diana Ross. 

I would always joke around that this was Joe Elliott and Kurt Cobain,  Joe thinking he was The Brain and Kurt being Pinky.  

Michael Hutchence of INXS would make reference to Pinky and The Brain in a “To Do List” in his journal supposedly written in ’84, but I believe he wrote it later than that. 

“4. Start my own stratdgy for WORLD DOMINATION!!” – Michael Hutchence

It was my idea for Brain to look and sound like Orson Welles, which The Alan Parsons Project used an Orson Welles radio spot and dialogue on their ’76 album Tales of Mystery and Imagination.  

Kurt Cobain would say he lived under a bridge for a while.  I think the actual bridge was the “bridge” of a song.  But, this inspired me in the development of Pinky & The Brain to want the Acme Lab to be located near a bridge.


Ke$ha Origins

In the early 80’s Def Leppard briefly toured with the Southern rock band Blackfoot.  Members of Blackfoot grew up in Jacksonville, Florida with members of Lynyrd Skynyrd who are honorary Alabamians for their ’74 hit song Sweet Home Alabama recorded as a response to Neil Young’s songs Alabama and Southern Man, which dealt with themes of racism and slavery in the South. 

Both Lynyrd Skynyrd and Blackfoot recorded albums at the famous Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, as did many other famous artists.

I chose the name Ke$ha for the daughter of the legendary R&B singer Millie Jackson, of Georgia, who recorded at the Muscle Shoals Sound Studios.  She is R&B singer Keisha Jackson. 

In September of ’83 Def Leppard finished the U.S. and Canada portion of their Rock Till You Drop tour.  In October they set off on their European portion with the British all-girl band Rock Goddess.  During the school holidays, at the end of November, Def Leppard had quite a bit of free time from the tour and Joe Elliott flew in to take me to Madrid, Spain.  After checking in at the hotel, Kurt Cobain and I went to see Rock Goddess perform.  We arrived late and I only was able to get to see them perform a couple of songs.  I was really impressed by such young performers though.

Kurt took me onstage to meet the lead singer for the band.  It didn’t take long for her to realize I was from the South.  She mentioned that Mick Jagger’s girlfriend, Jerry Hall, was from the south.  I excused myself and pulled Kurt off to the side of the stage and told him to remember this line:

“The dudes are lining up cause they hear we got swagger, but we kick em to the curb unless they look like Mick Jagger”

Inspired by the history of Lynyrd Skynyrd, when around 1972 guitarist Ed King of the band Strawberry Alarm Clock joined the band, I was able to finish the song that became Tik Tok.

At some point, Michael Jackson brought Sean Combs to meet me and I gave him the nickname P Diddy.  I liked him right off and over the years Sean continued to fly in when his career allowed.


Kurt Cobain and Charles Barkley

The Orange and Blue” also known as Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama

In 1983, basketball player Charles Barkley from Leeds, Alabama was on the Auburn University basketball team before going pro. 

After we met in ’83, Kurt Cobain wanting to make a public connection to me, made a connection to Barkley.  This is not only because Barkley grew up in a small town near where I grew up in Trussville, but also because there is a city near where Kurt grew up in Washington also named Auburn.

I’ve mentioned that Courtney Love showed up in our lives in late ’84 looking for a part in the movie (Love Kills) Sid & Nancy.  Kurt asked her to have a picture taken which she claims was taken while still a teenager at Hillcrest juvenile hall and I do believe that is Kurt in the picture with her.  Her hair is dyed red, almost the color of mine.

In 1993 Barkley was asked to appear on SNL with Nirvana.

 Kurt also made mention of me is in his journal “At peace ami. You’re a good one.”  Kurt was a self proclaimed bad speller.

There is one more connection to Auburn and that is to Michael Hutchence.  Hutch was born in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.  Auburn is a suburb in western Sydney and named after Oliver Goldsmith’s poem The Desserted Village, which describes ‘Auburn’ in England as the loveliest village of the plain.


Theory of a Deadman

In ’78 my family up and moved to Mesquite, Texas where I attended J.C. Rugel Elementary and my older brother attended  North Mesquite High School, where model Jerry Hall went to high school.   I was put into advanced classes and Spanish was a required course.  My best friend was a little Mexican boy named Jose.  We would sit on the curb after school and I would try to speak Spanish. 

The Mexican culture affected me greatly.  Day of the Dead, or Día de los Muertos, is a celebration on November 1st and 2nd where family and friends gather to remember loved ones who have died.  Tradition includes building alters honoring the deceased placing sugar skulls, marigolds (inspiring Dave Grohl of Nirvana to write the song Marigold), and the favorite food and beverages of the departed, as well as, visiting graves with these as gifts.

While sitting between Michael Hutchence and Adam Ant I made up the song Deadman’s Party and No One Lives Forever which I mentioned in an earlier post.  Both bands  had a very distinctive sound, INXS being more Ska New Wave with Adam & The Ants being Punk Rock and New Wave.  Once I had an idea, a song most of the time would just spill out.  It was my way of conveying what I really couldn’t vocalize and veil it in song.  They would record me singing it and I would go over the rest (the instrumental part) with the other artists like Kurt or members of Def Leppard.

We talked about my brother coming home one day loaded with test tubes, I always figured he stole them from school.  My dad and brother set off to buy a bushel of grain to try their hand at making grain alcohol.  What they produced was a clear almost tasteless liquid.  From this conversation I made up the song Weird Science.  

Weird science!

Plastic tubes and pots and pans

Bits and pieces and

Magic from the hand

We’re makin’

Weird science!

Things I’ve never seen before

Behind bolted doors

Talent and imagination

Since Joe Elliott was standing in the doorway of a dressing room behind me as I made up songs, there was a reference to Def Leppard’s song Bringin’ On The Heartbreak and Photograph  as pictures.

 Weird science!

Pictures from a magazine

Diagrams and charts

Mending broken hearts (and makin’)

Weird science!

Something like a recipe

Bits and pieces . . . .

Bits and pieces . . . .

Bits and Pieces is a 1960’s song originally written and performed by members of  The Dave Clark Five.  The Supremes recorded a cover in 1964 (Diana Ross being a member who was a longtime friend of Michael Jackson), and Joan Jett & The Blackhearts recorded a cover for their 1981 album.  I am a huge Joan Jett & The Blackhearts fan.

Later I learned from a girlfriend about Alabama’s history in NASCAR racing starting with bootleggers.  Her family had a long line of bootleggers back in the day and most of my friends were known to go to Talladega Superspeedway for the races.   NASCAR racers Bobby Allison, Neil Bonnett, and Red Farmer were known as the Alabama Gang.  I told Tom Cruise about my friend which inspired Days of Thunder.

The idea for the band Theory of a Deadman came years later while I was writing songs which the band performs, including Low Life.  The band name came from talking to Michael Jackson about the Big Bang Theory and from the song Deadman’s Party.

Low Life performed by Theory of a Deadman even mentions Joe Elliott with me referring to him as Joe Dirt which inspired the 2001 movie.


Eye On You

I watch you on the tv–you’re with me every place I go
I’m caught up in the daydream–I’m into everyone you know
Turn on the action–grab every minute
Learn every lesson–then live to regret it
I’m so distracted–my mind’s disengaged
Sharin’ the moments when you’re all the rage

I got my eyes on you
Got my eye on you… – Eye On You performed by Billy Squier

The idea for Eye On You came from Def Leppard’s groupie pass (shown).  It actually became quite the theme for cover art for other artists as well, other’s I wrote songs for.

It was used as cover art for the movie ’90 Frankenstein Unbound which Michael Hutchence of INXS had a small role as poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.  Hutch knew I was a Shelley fan and actually have a collection of his poetry which was collected by his wife Mary Shelley author of the original Frankenstein.

Def Leppard used the eye on the cover art for their ’92 Adrenalize album.  

Nickelback used it on the cover art for their 2001 album Silver Side Up which includes songs I wrote.

And, the band Skillet’s 2009 album which includes the song “Awake and Alive” which I wrote.  I named the band Skillet for that oh, so southern of accessories which comes in hand when you need to beat some lousy jerk over the head with it.  Next time I promise to make sure there is not hot oil in it.


Oh! Pretty Woman

In ’82 Van Halen released a cover of Roy Orbison’s song Oh!, Pretty Woman on their Diver Down album.  This is one album my brother had and I loved.  My favorites being the cover of Big Bad Bill (Is Sweet William Now) and Hang ‘Em High.  But, my all time favorite cover of Van Halen’s is Ice Cream Man, which Tommy Lee seemed to enjoy whenever I would sing it. 

Joe Elliott started paperwork getting a passport for me in the summer of ’83.  It was unknown to me his intentions, but when I returned from my grandmother’s funeral, my adopted mother’s mother, in Georgia the first of Oct ’83 everyone seemed to be upset about my disappearance. 

I told them of my grandmother’s long battle with Leukemia which she had been in remission with for years.  Joe wanted to do a movie about it, knowing I had also been babysitting off and on during the summer for a little girl in remission from Leukemia.  Kurt Cobain spoke up knowing my cousin had Type 1 Diabetes and worked for Xerox.  Of course, Kurt was a walking Encyclopedia of music and knew that Zerox was an early Adam & The Ants song.  There is actually an early home movie of Kurt trying to tear up a copy machine.   http://youtu.be/NxS_55Ql1Ks  While discussing the idea Joe came up with the title naming it Steel Magnolias released in ’89.

My adopted father’s mother, Isabel, a redhead herself, once owned a  beauty shop named Belle’s House of Beauty in Texas.   The picture is of my brother getting his first haircut.  This is where they got the idea for the beauty shop in Steel Magnolias and also name the character Belle Marmillion.

Tom Cruise would go on to adopt a little girl with Nicole Kidman and name her Isabella.

Kurt Cobain later would talk about how Nirvana would practice above a beauty shop in the early years.  My grandmother’s birthday, February 24, also happened to be the day Kurt and Courtney got married in 1992.

(My grandmother’s Social Security Card application)

 Michael Jackson knew I loved the tv show Beauty and the Beast which ran from 1987 to 1990 starring “Linda Carroll” Hamilton (Courtney Love’s mother’s name is supposedly Linda Carroll) as Belle and Ron Perlman as the Beast Vincent.  Linda Hamilton is the ex-wife of film director James Cameron (this is important and will post about the development of Titanic later).  Disney put into production the development of Belle about this time and released the animated Beauty and the Beast in 1991. 

Sometime during all of this the actor Eric Roberts found out what was going on and invited to Alabama to meet me.  His motive was in looking for scripts for his sister, Julia, another redhead. 

Plans for a trip were rescheduled for the weekend before Halloween which fell on a Monday.  I didn’t know this would mean skipping a day of school.  They dressed me in a brunette wig and large sunglasses and we left on Joe’s private plane.  We arrived in Dublin and Joe took off through customs and the airport ahead of us being mobbed by paparazzi.  I heard Kurt ask if Joe had let them know he was arriving.  Joe gave a quick interview distracting them while we finished in customs then climbed into a Range Rover.  We climbed into the Range Rover parked behind his.

The home was large, but not quite what one would call a mansion by today’s standards.  It had a mortar and rock facade in a very European style.  Joe met us at the door and came up behind me putting his hands over my eyes leading me through the front hall into the main living area.  When he took his hands away I was staring at green rolling hills through a window that spanned the length of the room.  The window was made up of panes of beveled glass which obscured the view some.  I gasped as a white hairy beast rounded one of the green mounds charging toward the home.  At first I thought it was a horse.  A few seconds later this mud covered behemoth was sitting on the white marble in front of me.  This is when I realized it wasn’t a horse at all but a dog, a Great Pyrenees actually.

Development of the script for the ’90 movie Pretty Woman was well under way on this trip and changes were being made.  Joe decided to use Lauren Bacall’s dress in the 1944 film adaption of Ernest Hemingway’s To Have and Have Not as inspiration for the “hooker dress”.