Rock's Backpages

< back to list of all episodes

Episode 108 : Richard Williams on Laura Nyro + Beach Boys audio interviews

23 August 2021

In this episode — the first we've recorded in our London office for over 18 pandemic months — we persuaded long-time RBP contributor Richard Williams (far left) to make his second appearance on "the show", principally so we could pick his brains on two of his favourite musical subjects. We start with a conversation about Laura Nyro, of whom both he and co-host Barney are besotted devotees (fellow co-hosts Mark & Martin can't get past the voice), then move on to the Beach Boys of 1970's Sunflower & 1971's Surf's Up. Richard is particularly fascinating on the role on the latter masterpiece of manager/co-writer Jack Rieley... and at least Martin likes the Beach Boys!

The BBs discussion provides the perfect cue for three clips from the week's new audio interviews: John Tobler's conversations with Mike Love (1976) & Bruce Johnston (1980), both of which prompt further thoughts on the quintessential California band & the doomed "Brian Wilson Is Back!" campaigns of the mid-'70s. We then segue into the work of a quintessential California writerDeanne Stillman, and her featured RBP pieces about Surf culture & Tom Wolfe's 1965 Phil Spector profile "The Tycoon of Teen".

After paying our respects to Texan country-folk icon Nanci Griffith — with quotes from interviews conducted with her in 1988 & 2012 — Mark talks us through his favourite new additions to the RBP library, including interviews with John LennonSid Vicious & Nancy Spungen & Madonna producer Pat Leonard, while Barney rounds things off with remarks on a 2007 interview with Raymond "Gilbert" O'Sullivan.

Many thanks to special guest Richard Williams; find his blog at