Phyllis Pollack's Tribute to John Woods
The first time I ever heard of John Woods was well over a decade ago, when I was in New York. It was at the New Music Seminar back in 1989 or '90. I can tell you the exact moment. Dave Marsh and I were getting ready to disrupt the pro-censorship propaganda speech of Carl Wagner, who came out of absolutely nowhere to suddenly be the spokesperson of the deceptively-titled organization, Coalition Against Lyrics Legislation (CALL), a front organization set-up by the RIAA, designed to disseminate disinformation to recording artists and record labels, in order to get them to support record labeling and other goals of Tipper Gore's PMRC. We managed to easily expose the mask covering this total scam, as we pointed out the true underpinnings of the group. Our ruining Wagner's credibility would soon be reported in the press. After Marsh and I entered the room, we were notified that all questions directed to CALL had to first be pre-screened by Wagner. "Wow. They even censor the questions," Dave pointed out. Marsh then asked me if I knew John. When I said "No," his immediate reply was, "He hates Tipper Gore even more than we do!" This I had to see! Someone who was even more offended by Tipper Gore's lies than we were? I just couldn't believe it.
I mean, coming from Dave Marsh, that description meant a whole lot. "That guy is fucking crazy!" expounded Marsh, in total awe of John. Here," Marsh proclaimed, ready to showme some proof. "Check out this T-shirt!"
"Wow!" I exclaimed, reacting to what Marsh produced. I was staring at a black t-shirt, emblazoned with two crossbowed guitars, and the logo for "Rock Out Censorship." My eyes traveled to more of the words imprinted on it, "Who made Tipper Gore God? Fuck the PMRC!"
"Cool!!" I responded, adding my endorsement.
This t-shirt told me everything that I would ever need to know about John Woods.
I later met John when he was in L.A., and we ended up having dinner and totally conspiratorial conversation at the Rainbow on Sunset Boulevard in El Lay, a long time hangout of rock stars, wanna-be's, groupie types, and record biz types.
For several years, we traded information on music censorship, and John was always spent long hours his research. It was John who correctly uncovered and pointed out to a lot of people that the PMRC hooked up anti-rap music crusader C. Delores Tucker (known as "C. Deplorable" in these circles) and who helped prop her up as a so-called "prominent" rap basher. Some of Tucker's desperate antics included filing a lawsuit against Tupac's mom, Afeni, which was deservedly thrown out of court. The presiding judge called Tucker "outrageous" and" offensive," directly referring to Ms. Tucker's making up lyrics to two of Pac's songs, claiming that they were in the songs' lyrics found on his album, and then suing Afeni Shakur for them because they somehow gave Ms. Tucker mental and emotional distress. It was the PMRC, co-founded by Tipper Gore, that hooked up Tucker with right-wing politicians and got her into the Time-Warner stockholder meetings with connections like Jack Kemp, in order to try to get her some behind-the-scenes power. Consequently C. Deplorable would also, according to published reports, attempt to jack Death Row Records, so that she could run the company as a director, and force the company to censor whatever music offended her. The PMRC figured it would be more effective to have a sister bashing rap music than a bunch of rich Washington housewives. So Tucker would be, in their minds, the perfect shot caller. Tucker, however, consistently drew blanks, as the artists she bashed turned platinum as quickly as she could keep calling press conferences to complain about them. Anyway, John did a great deal of research about the PMRC's connection with Tucker.
John and I would periodically email each other, and we exchanged some pretty hilarious emails about Axl Rose, Buckethead, Ozzy and other topics d'jeur. Needless to say, I still have that t-shirt to this day. If there was anyone that was rock and roll, it was John Woods.
Visit Phyllis Pollack's website at:
Phyllis Pollack: music journalist and publicist
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