The word dapper might have been made for guitarist/producer Ron Cornelius. Gentleman might have been too except Leonard Cohen owns the copyright on that one. (Leonard also owns the words ‘naked body’ according to Joni Mitchell, but that’s another tale.)
Ron Cornelius was in Leonard Cohen’s band – was his band leader in fact – on two of my favourite Cohen albums, ‘Songs from a Room’, ‘Songs of Love and Hate’, and on two of his wildest tours. Oh, and co-wrote Chelsea Hotel No.2. Ron was also in Bob Dylan’s band. And at the Americana Music Conference he did me the honour of joining me onstage – not with his guitar, but with his stories about Leonard.
Leonard’s producer back in those Tennessee days – and bandmate; at Leonard’s insistence he toured with him as his keyboard player) – was Bob Johnston. Bob also produced some of the best albums by, among many others, Johnny Cash, Simon & Garfunkel and Bob Dylan. Remember when Dylan started an album asking “Is it rolling, Bob?” This is the Bob he was referring to. (He also reminisced about Johnston in his book Chronicles as a man with “fire in his eyes…He should have been wearing a wide cape, a plumed hat and riding with his sword held high.” Johnston said, “Dylan was right. I wouldn’t talk to the record company people – and I wouldn’t let them fuck with any of my artists.” He’s 80 years old now, a small, wiry man with long, unkempt red-grey hair and matching beard, but he’s still in the music business, still fighting the men in the suits and still has fire in his eyes. He talked about a new record label he wants to set up, which sounds as pro-musician and anti-business as it gets. He also told me a story about meeting Phil Spector, back in the day. Remind me to tell it to you sometime.