Every time I visit Los Angeles I impatiently wait for divine intervention to let my path run into Leonardo DiCaprio as I troll the streets of Hollywood looking for fancy shoes. Well, it hasn’t happened yet, but I did run into comedian Wanda Sykes in the lobby of The Grafton on Sunset last night. She calmed my nerves as I anxiously waited for $41 late-night food delivery of macaroni and cheese.
The elusive Leo and Miss Sykes aside, the rock Gods apparently had a special plan for me this morning! Who should I run into as I order my 10AM double espresso, but legendary guitarist and songwriter Johnny Marr of The Smiths!
I’m not one to snap a photo with my rock star comrades, but Marr is a household name. He wrote “Frankly Mr Shankly” and “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want”. Coincidentally, I had gone through my record collection several weeks ago, pulling out my Smith records after catching Marr on ‘Late Night With Jules Holland.’
Turns out Marr had some visa troubles when he landed in the states several days ago for a string of shows in California.
“I just got into LA, and it has been a great trip so far, except for visa problems,” he said. “Evidently they were looking at a photo that is 10 years old, and I wasn’t recognized, but it got straightened out.”
And yet his band had no troubles at all, allowing them to check into the hotel before Marr could even hop into a cab from the airport. Apparently while Marr was being detained, the show in Sacramento at Ace of Spades was rescheduled until he could resolve his passport issues; his band was in complete support of the situation.
“I’ve got quite a good band with me right now. Just a bunch of young guys who get up in the morning and like to work out,” the musician laughed. “We’re enjoying the weather here in Los Angeles. As a matter of fact, my drummer is down at the pool right now.”
When I inquired about what the friendly gentleman was up to before his show tonight at The Glass House in Pomona, he mumbled something about a meeting he was late for, and elaborated a little. “Today they’ve got me running around for a meeting with Netflix,” he said.
The one question I am always eager to ask well-known and respected musicians is how they feel the music industry has changed over the years. After all, it’s a dog-eat-dog world as it is, and the world of an artist is a peculiar one at best in that you have to wonder how any artist is able to maintain a successful career when there are thousands of others competing for the spotlight.
“It’s a different world out there now,” Marr huffed, “and in the old days with The Smiths I wasn’t interested in playing everyday, but now I am. The music industry has changed, and you have to work every single day. But there are still wonderful opportunities. I also don’t drink anymore, which makes everything easier. I don’t miss it at all.”
And with an elegant wave of his hand, my new friend, Johnny Marr, tipped his shades into the West Hollywood sun, and drove off to his meeting.
Now let’s hope he has no problem getting home!