Like father, like son, like the Rolling Stone
by A.J. Weiner
Jet-setting from L.A. to New York and back again was part of my dad’s normal business routine. In 1985, a particular plane trip he took, directly and dramatically influenced and inspired my life. What has resonated over the years is that soon after his flight hit the ground, with a simple phone call, he gave me one of the best welcome home gifts I could ever receive. Retelling his story consequently gave me the impression that he believed in me more than he ever had before.
With aluminum briefcase in hand, getting ready to board his flight standing in the Pan Am terminal of JFK, he noticed a rather famous face that he had come across a decade ago. They caught each other’s eye and both smiled. Dad played it cool as only he knew how, and just kept strutting in his jeans and King’s Western Wear snakeskin cowboy boots on to the 747 air bus, made a quick left into the first class cabin area and grabbed his seat next to the window in the back row smoking section. Eventually, the other gent also walked into the first class doorway and as he passed by on his way up to his window seat near the front, they again made eye contact and smiled at each other.
Once the plane was up in the air and seat belts unfastened, the stewardess came back to my dad, leaned over and said, “Mr. Jagger thought that he knew you and would you mind saying hello?” My Dad replied, “I find it hard to believe that he would remember me and know who I am – but OK, sure, I’ll say hi.”
Dad climbed up to the front of the cabin and took the empty seat next to Mick Jagger. They exchanged pleasantries and then he recalled where they had met before. “I think it’s ten years ago already? I was asked by Atlantic Records to meet the ‘design team’ to show the final artwork for (the upcoming Rolling Stones studio release) ‘It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll.’” Mick concurred, “Yeah, 1974 it was.”
As a salesman for a design and packaging company, Dad was frequently called upon to be the liaison between the record company and artist. For this particular call at a Hollywood recording studio, he met the entire band as well as Guy Peellaert, painter and illustrator of the original portrait used for the album cover. They all loved what they saw and strategized about how the printing would be taken care of.
Dad underplays the meeting when he recalls it twenty three years later, but I happen to know one telling fact that Mick Jagger probably did not quite grasp. My dad was in The Band and The Beatles “camp,” so when he met The Rolling Stones, he probably strolled into the room without a star-struck bone in his body – an unusual vibe to carry into that meeting, no?
The airplane conversation continued and Mick asked him what he’s doing now. My dad replied, “Same thing, rock and roll.” Mick responded “Me too.” He told Mick he had a son who had gotten really serious about writing and playing music. Besides letting him know his kid was finding some success (recently getting some songs placed on television; “touring” of the Sunset Strip), he mentioned that I dropped out of college to join a rock and roll band. Mick could hear it in my father’s voice and articulated, “Sounds like he’s got it in his blood and that he’s too far gone. He won’t be able to ever breathe without it.”
I was raised in The Band and The Beatles camp, but unlike Dad, I had The Rolling Stones playing right there alongside on my rock and roll bands lotus throne. Mick’s words, through my dad’s reassuring and realized tone, instantly changed my perspective from a punk kid just winging it, to a qualified musician – qualified by none other than the best combo I could have ever dreamed of.
My father’s voice hit me harder than even the sage words from the greatest front man in rock and roll history. My dad has truly always been my best and most reliable friend. He is the glue that still holds our family together. As the father of a daughter who turned twenty-three years old this year, I am very proud of the beautiful and generous person she has become. I am humbled, and feel as if I have the greatest front man ever to emulate.Tags: A.J. Weiner, Atlantic Records, Family, Father-son relationship, Guy Peellaert, Hollywood, It's Only Rock 'N Roll, Mick Jagger, Music, Rock and roll, The Band, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones