Danny Fields: the coolest guy you’ve never heard of- until now

October 18, 2017

He managed the Ramones, helped launch the Doors, and hung around with Warhol. A new documentary puts “the mens” behind the scenes front stage

In his diary, Andy Warhol wrote that he would love to cinema Danny Fields life story. The artist succumbed six weeks later, but now Fieldss life has finally arrived the screen in a new documentary called, Danny Says .

You may not have heard of Danny Fields, but you definitely know his friends. As well as hanging out with Warhol, Fields helped launch the Doorway into superstardom, palled around with Nico, Edie Sedgwick, and Alice Cooper; was the first person to play the Ramones to Lou Reed; was friends with Linda McCartney despite helping aim the Beatles touring career; introduced Iggy Pop to David Bowie, and was immortalized in the Ramones tune Danny Says.

For decades, Fields has operated behind the scenes of the music world, forging connections and inducing stars. If it werent for Danny the world might not have ever heard the Stooges and the Ramones, and we definitely wouldnt have just heard Nico as a solo artist, said Gillian McCain, co-author of the definitive punk oral history, Please Kill Me, a volume dedicated to Fields as forever the coolest guy in the room.

As the self-described label freak at Elektra Records, Fields was almost single-handedly responsible for ushering in the punk era in the US. He managed the Ramoness early career, and got both the Stooges and the MC5 signed to his label. Despite these impressive credentials, Fieldss name is scarcely known outside the music business. That might all change thanks to the new documentary, which premiered at SXSW last year and is now open in select theaters and available online.

The film was directed by Brendan Toller, who worked on the film for nearly seven years, finishing it mere weeks before it was slated to premiere. He first came across the legend of Fields in the books Please Kill Me and Edie( Jean Steins book about Sedgwick, the Warhol muse ), but he had a hard time sorting out the fact from the hyperbole. Danny Fields at Harvard stealing crystal with Edie Sedgwick couldnt maybe be the same guy being the publicist for the Doors or managing the Ramones, says Toller. Turns out, though, when it comes to Fields all the rumors are true, which Toller represents in the film.

The documentary pieces together interviews with Fields and many of his friends including Pop, Cooper, Tommy Ramone, Jonathan Richman, legendary record boss Seymour Stein, Ramones logo designer Arturo Vega, folk singer Judy Collins, MC5s Wayne Kramer and many more, all interwoven with archival footage, audio recordings, and animation that blends together to help tell the story of this musical influencer.

Fields gave Toller access to his personal repositories and Toller expended months “re going through” the files, phone recordings, cassette videotapes, ephemera, and photographs that Fields had collected over his long career. Professionally, Fields played a variety of roles in the music industry he was a journalist, editor of 16 publication and Datebook. When the latter magazine published John Lennons quote about the Beatles being bigger than Jesus( from an interview which had passed without remark in London Evening Standard a few months before ), it caused outrage throughout America, the pressure nearly broken off the band and spelling the end of their touring career. Fields also dedicated bands like the Velvet Underground and the Who some of their earliest press.

He also ran as a publicist, manager, DJ, A& R rep and a photographer who documented the scene he was helping create. He was a noted provocateur who loved swapping bon mots. When I think about Danny, I think of sitting and chuckling with him, says Lenny Kaye, writer and longtime is part of the Patti Smith Band. He liked to cause a little difficulty. Hes a little mischievous.

There are so many Danny narratives, many not fit to publish, says Justin Vivian Bond, the longtime downtown fixture and superstar of Kiki& Herb, demonstrating the phase with an anecdote sadly unsuitable for a family website.

Fields Fields at the re-presentation of Joey Ramones Rock& Roll Hall of Fame induction award in 2009. Photograph: Joe Kohen/ WireImage.com

Whatever his role, Fieldss over-arching aim was to bring people together. That was one of Dannys things, says Kaye. He was a matchmaker, whether it was bringing a band to a record label or putting creative people in the same room and the majority of cases that room was Maxs Kansas Citys back room.

Dannys a connector, hes a fuel line, a place where things are liable to erupt, says Iggy Pop in the documentary. I imagine that Dannys legacy, aside from the brilliant style hes chosen to live his life, is how he has enhanced the well-being of others by being a connector.

Ive met so many brilliant and astonishing people through Danny, adds Bond. I like to think that through these threads and connectivities we have all become better people, artists and contributors to the ongoing dialogue. Hopefully these threads will continue to raise human consciousness through arts and notions long after were gone.

The film features an incredible cast of characters, which is no real amaze when looking back at Fieldss circle of friends. Dannys set are genuinely the people that made the world “were living in” today, says Toller. At least all the good stuff of art, music, and movie. These were the revolutionaries of the 60 s and 70 s that brought about what we know as alternative culture.

While the documentary appears back at Fieldss career and has the feeling of a retrospective to it, according to McCain, who got to know Fields while working on Please Kill Me, Fields is not particularly the reflective form. He always looks ahead and doesnt dwell on the past, says McCain. Dannys attitude is the best is yet to come.

Danny Says is in theaters now and is available bothon demandand on iTunes

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