Episode 139 : Billy James on Bob Dylan + Columbia Records + Laurel Canyon
31 October 2022
In this episode we welcome the legendary Billy James, all the way from the Bay Area, and tap him for his memories of working with Bob Dylan, the Doors and more.
We start with Dylan and the interview the young Minnesotan gave to Billy in October 1961 in the latter's capacity as a Columbia Records publicist. Billy reminisces about his early interactions with the kid born Zimmerman; we hear a snatch of that 1961 audio, plus two clips from Eric Von Schmidt talking to Larry Jaffee about his friendship with Bob in that same period. In passing, we mention two great Dylan pieces by the week's featured scribe Greil Marcus, author of a new Bob "biography in seven songs" entitled Folk Music.
From the early Bob years we switch coasts to California, where Billy worked in Columbia's Hollywood office and fell in with the Byrds between arranging press conferences for Patti Page, Percy Faith and his beloved Tony Bennett (pictured in the photo Billy is holding above). Finally, he talks about Terry Melcher, Elektra Records, the Doors, and the significant part he played in putting Laurel Canyon on L.A.'s pop map after moving up there from Beverly Hills in 1965...
Watch a video clip from this recording
Many thanks to special guest Billy James; you can book his Airbnb in Redwood City here.