A blog about Bloomsbury Academic's 33 1/3 series, our other books about music, and the world of sound in general.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Toast of Los Angeles

Dan LeRoy's book about the Beastie Boys will be coming out in the spring, documenting the ever so slightly chaotic creation of Paul's Boutique. Here's a short taste of it:

Under the terms of the deal with Capitol, Horovitz, Yauch and Diamond received an advance of about $750,000 for Paul’s Boutique. They wasted no time putting it to use, setting up headquarters on the ninth floor of the Mondrian, a luxury hotel on Sunset Boulevard. A favorite stop for traveling rock stars, it was the perfect location for the Beasties to perfect their spendthrift philosophy.

“It was this whole thing that money doesn’t matter,” Tim Carr says. “And if it costs money, it’s funner – especially if it’s somebody else’s money.” Not that using their own money stopped the three from any pranks. “They would tip each other. Ad-Rock would order iced tea and charge it to Mike D’s room, and give a $25 tip,” Carr recalls. Of course, having some fun at their new labelmates’ expense was better still. “We’d be sitting by the pool, and they’d yell to Bret (Michaels) from Poison, ‘What room you staying in?’ Then they’d sign tons of shit off on his room. I’d be going, ‘God, is this really happening?’”

The band would purchase more than iced tea and tips, as Carr would learn during the trips he made to Los Angeles every six weeks or so. “It was the early days of cell phones, so the Beasties would walk around with these, like, walkie talkies and call each other, from one side of the bar to the other. And they all had unbelievable cars. These guys dove headfirst into the L.A. car culture. But everything they had was that way.”

Capitol received an early warning of this attitude. One of the band’s first official acts after signing to the label, according to Matt Dike, was to commandeer a conference room and arrange a phony “video casting call” to meet girls. “The record isn’t even conceived of at this point,” recalls Dike. “But what could be better than having 500 hot chicks show up in their bikinis?” The Beasties and Dike watched the aspirants dance to some of Dike’s instrumentals, while seated at a table “drunk, with huge joints, and stacks of money in front of us.”

Such conspicuous consumption, combined with the Beasties’ already larger-than-life image, quickly made them the toast of Los Angeles. “They were treated like gods,” says photographer Ricky Powell, a friend of the band often referred to at the time as “The Fourth Beastie.” “Wherever they went. Clubs, parties -- you name it. They had a lot of female admirers and a lot of male groupies too.”

Powell would be flown to Los Angeles many times, one of several old friends – like Sean Carasov and Cey Adams – who remained part of the group’s inner circle. But the group was rapidly building an influential new group of acquaintances as well. “These kids were actors and musicians,” Adams remembers, “the sons and daughters of Hollywood royalty.” Among them were Balthazar Getty, the grandson of billionaire J. Paul Getty; Mick Fleetwood’s daughter Amy; and Karis Jagger, daughter of Mick.

“None of these kids had jobs, and they all had these huge houses and were driving these fancy cars,” marvels Adams. “I was just amazed at the amount of wealth.”

Two others who drifted into the Beasties’ orbit were the children of folk singer Donovan: his son, Donovan Leitch, and daughter Ione Skye. “All Ad-Rock would talk about was Ione Skye, and how hot she was, and whether she’d go out with him,” says Dike. “I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s never gonna happen.’” In fact, the actress would end up married to Horovitz for most of the Nineties.

With money to burn and new friends to make, it was little wonder that work on the new album was progressing at a less-than-frantic pace. Even the group’s afternoon writing sessions at the Mondrian, work “which involved a good deal of red wine and marijuana,” according to Mike Simpson, would soon become dominated by one of the Beasties’ favorite sports. “We noticed that every day at a certain time, people would line up outside the Comedy Store, which is right across the street. So, someone – I don’t know who -- had the idea that it might be fun to throw eggs at these people. So it sort of became a daily ritual.”

“One night...there was a line of people waiting to see Billy Crystal. And the Beasties went up on the roof, and lobbed from across the street. So these things hit like boulders,” says Tim Carr. “And the Comedy Store called the Mondrian, and the Mondrian security and the police were there. And nobody was taking any blame for anything.”

The egging would spread to drive-by excursions throughout downtown Los Angeles, and even inspired a new song, “Egg Man.” “There was a certain amount of research going into all these stunts,” Carr admits with a smile. “But they knew no bounds.”

The Mondrian staff would address the mounting complaints in a “very politically correct letter” to the band. “It said that there were complaints of things falling out their window, and that if there was a problem with the window, they could have maintenance come up and address it,” recalls Simpson. “It was just hysterically funny.”

The man who would have to answer for the Beasties, Tim Carr, was beginning to disagree.


Scott said...

This promises to be a fascinating book.

Paulo said...

This book will show the history around one of the best hip hop albums in the history from the best band in the world. Well, it'll be fucking awesome!!!!

Nik said...

Wow, I can't read to read this one. Paul's Boutique is one of those albums I never get tired of.

Steve-Onpoint said...

What Scott said.

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Joseph said...

I purchased this book yesterday, and my enthusiasm about it matches that of the anonymous commenter above me. However my copy is missing pages 104, 105, 116, 117, 120, 121, 124 and 125. Have others complained of this printing error? Can you post pdfs of these missing passages or direct me to somewhere that I can find them? Many thanks. I love this series.

David said...

Joseph: drop me an email - david at continuum-books.com and we'll get this sorted out for you!