HOUSE CALLS

Most of the interviews I’m involved in these days either take place over the phone or in the case of movie junkets, at various conference rooms at L.A. hotels like the Four Seasons and the Regent Beverly Wilshire. But over the years, there have been times where I’ve traveled to meet the stars at their homes or work.

I’ve mostly been to the homes of music stars, including Dionne Warwick, Kevin Cronin of REO Speedwagon, Jon Anderson of Yes and most interestingly, the hilltop mansion of Johnny Mathis, whose front door opens up to an indoor swimming pool. My interview with Johnny took place in his office in the next room, where strangely the singer didn’t look me in the eye once. Either he’s very shy or I must have appeared totally horrendous that day… I’m hoping for the former!

Some of the times I’ve talked to artists when they’re working include Joss Stone backstage at her dressing room at the American Music Awards and Debbie Gibson in a backstage stairwell before a TV appearance. I even took a trip to Austin, Texas to interview the group Los Lonely Boys while they were making a video at a replica of the Alamo.

There was also one interview where I barely had to leave my apartment. I was living at the Oakwood Garden Apartments in Burbank at the time, and I had been trying to get an interview with singer Anita Baker for a while. Finally Anita’s publicist said Anita had some time if I was willing to meet her at the Oakwood Garden Apartments in Burbank! It turned out that Anita’s main residence was in her hometown of Detroit, but she kept an apartment at Oakwood as her L.A. base of operations. So I drove down to the swimming pool and did the interview with her by the water.

Now these stories don’t mean the interviews I do using my phone at home can’t be unusual. After all, I spoke to the late Rick James while he was doing a stint in prison and talked to Sean “Puffy” Combs while he was giving his son a bath. I had Britney Spears call me from a parking garage right before she went shopping (no surprise there) and was once awakened by a call from a Spice Girl ( I think it was Mel C, but I’m still not sure as I was a bit hazy when she said hello). I also waited hours for Mariah Carey, who was supposed to call from backstage before a concert in Anaheim, but waited until after the show. By the time she was driven back to L.A., stopped at Mr. Chow’s for a late night snack and finally got back to her hotel room, it was after midnight! Of course, I wouldn’t want you to get the idea that I was complaining about Mariah, who has been nice enough to do a new interview with me for each of the last three editions of “The Billboard Book of Number One Hits”! And with Mariah within striking distance of the alltime record for number one songs in the rock era (she only needs three more to tie the Beatles, who have twenty), I look forward to picking up my phone and talking to her again very soon…

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