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

September 17, 2017

He managed the Ramones, helped launch the Doorway, and hung around with Warhol. A new documentary puts the man behind the scenes front stage

In his diary, Andy Warhol wrote that he would love to film Danny Fields life story. The artist died six a few 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 Door 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 end 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 connects and constructing starrings. 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 get both the Stooges and the MC5 signed to his label. Despite these impressive credentials, Fieldss name is barely 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 against Brendan Toller, who worked on the cinema 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 perhaps be the same guy being the publicist for the Doorway or managing the Ramones, says Toller. Turns out, though, when it is necessary 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 mixes together to help tell the story of this musical influencer.

Fields dedicated Toller access to his personal repositories and Toller expended months going through the files, phone records, cassette tapes, 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 comment in London Evening Standard a few months before ), it caused outrage throughout America, the pressure virtually 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 laughing with him, says Lenny Kaye, novelist and longtime is part of the Patti Smith Band. He liked to cause a little trouble. Hes a little mischievous.

There are so many Danny stories, many not fit to print, says Justin Vivian Bond, the longtime downtown fixture and superstar of Kiki& Herb, demonstrating the point 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. Photo: Joe Kohen/ WireImage.com

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

Ive gratified so many brilliant and astounding 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 art and ideas long after were gone.

The film features an incredible cast of characters, which is no real astound when looking back at Fieldss circle of friends. Dannys defined are truly the people that made the world we live 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 seems 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

About the Author

Leave a Comment: