Danny Says

by Karin McKie

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday September 30, 2016

'Danny Says'
'Danny Says'  

"Danny Says" is the title of a Joey Ramone song, as well as Brendan Toller's engaging documentary about the unlikely music maven who shepherded rock and punk into mainstream culture.

Funny, free-spirited, and forthright Danny Fields (born Feinberg in 1939) grew up as a self-described "little faggot" then went to Penn State at age 15, sixth in a class of 1,000. He was going to Harvard Law School until he heard Nina Simone live. He dropped out, starting writing for a liquor store magazine while hanging out with Andy Warhol at the Silver Factory as well as the "sexy, famous, brilliant and talented crowd" in 1960s New York City.

He later wrote for 16 Magazine, where he famously put Alice Cooper and Donny Osmond on the same cover.

Iggy Pop called him a connector, like the fuel line in a car -- crucial, but also the most dangerous part.

"He was the handmaiden to the gods," discovering and promoting the most important people in music at the time, "bands about yearning, explosions of noise," including Iggy's Stooges (whom he encouraged to write more actual music, including their iconic "I Want to Be Your Dog"), their "little brother band" MC5 ("Kick Out the Jams"), the Edgar Winter Group ("who wouldn't love fast blues and albinos?" Fields said), Lou Reed, Cream, the Doors (although Jim Morrison hated him), Aerosmith (whom Fields hated), and many more, including the Ramones, the "first of the bands made out of kids with no futures," whom he ended up managing in return for buying them a drum kit, hence the "Danny Says" song. He also hooked them up with the Clash for a UK tour.

Fields ended up "giving Iggy and his drug problems to David Bowie."

He also became friends with Linda Eastman, who was photographing the scene before she married Paul McCartney, and he was called a "hippie yenta" for matching the right artists with the right producers when he joined Electra Records' publicity department.

Among interviews with him and the artists who are still alive, the film is filled with Fields' own photos, footage and audio recordings, documenting his as "a catalyst, a translator for art, one who defined the platform, then put those musicians on that platform."

Fields was drawn to sex, drugs, and existential despair, yet still a romantic, "allowing time for these artists to blossom."

His Electra boss says Fields was "the sand in the oyster in which you hope will form a pearl."



Director :: Brendan Toller

Karin McKie is a writer, educator and activist at KarinMcKie.com