Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Andrew Gold: You May Not Know the Name, But You Know His Music


Recently while doing research I learned that one of the musicians on “On and On” — one of the very few songs I really dislike — was Andrew Gold on guitar.

In case his name is not familiar, he had two pretty sizable hits in the late 70s, “Lonely Boy” (‘77) and “Thank You For Being a Friend” (‘78), both of which I remember well and still like to this day.

Here he discusses how “Lonely Boy” came together, followed by the single itself.

They worked out this song on the road over many months while opening for Linda Ronstadt and finally perfected it to the point that they started to get standing ovations — in the middle of the song. 

After the tour was over they recorded the single “live” in the studio — in one take, no doubt — and you can really hear the energy on the record. It just pops.

By that time he had already became a force in the LA music scene after helping Linda Ronstadt as songwriter, musician, arranger and producer on her big mid- and late-70s albums starting with “Heart Like a Wheel” and her first big (and only #1) solo hit, “You’re No Good”. 

Wikipedia explains in more detail:

By the early 1970s, Gold was working full-time as a musician, songwriter and record producer. He was a member of the Los Angeles band Bryndle, alongside Kenny Edwards, Wendy Waldman and Karla Bonoff, releasing the single "Woke Up This Morning" in 1970. He played a major role as multi-instrumentalist and arranger for Linda Ronstadt's breakthrough album, 1974's Heart Like a Wheel, and her next two albums. After Ronstadt's Hasten Down the Wind, Gold began a career as a solo artist. Among other accomplishments, he played the majority of instruments on "You're No Good", Ronstadt's only No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100, and on "When Will I Be Loved", "(Love Is Like a) Heat Wave", and many other hits. He was in her band from 1973 until 1977, and then sporadically throughout the 1980s and 1990s, performing at some of her concerts.

In other words, a lot of that recognizable “hitmaker” sound you hear on those classic Ronstadt records is Andrew Gold (still in his early 20s) playing many of the instruments and doing most or all of the arranging.

The music industry relies on people like him to do the heavy lifting of putting the finishing touches on studio recordings — but who get zero credit. 

Here he is discussing the making of “You’re No Good”, followed by the song itself. He played drums, keyboards, and guitar (including the “George Harrison thing” solo as he calls it).

Following this huge success he started his solo career in 1975 but continued to play a major role in her sound through ‘77 and in her touring band, off and on, through the 80s. 

Like the title character in “Lonely Boy”, Andrew Gold was born in the summer of ‘51, had a sister born in ‘53, and left home in ‘69 — but he insists the song is not about him and that he had a very happy childhood. He says he just picked the dates that matched his own life to add details and structure to the song.

Here’s “Thank You For Being a Friend”, later adopted as the theme for “Golden Girls”.

He passed away at just 59 years old in 2011 of complications from kidney cancer. 

For the curious, this is the post I was researching when I found he played guitar on “On and On”:  Songs So Bad They’re Great.