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An Interview with Laurie Kaye, Author of Confessions of a Rock ‘n’ Roll Name-Dropper

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Writer/producer Laurie Kaye began her career in radio as an intern in the news department at RKO’s KFRC-AM in San Francisco, for years Billboard magazine’s number one Top 40 station, while still studying journalism in college at UC Berkeley. She eventually quit school to work at KFRC full-time as their news editor, followed by newscaster gigs at WOW-AM in Omaha and KING-AM in Seattle before eventually returning to KFRC in an on-air position.

Kaye wrote, coproduced, and interviewed some of the world’s most famous rock stars for long-form radio specials, including the fourteen-hour RKO Presents the Beatles (originally released in 1977, later expanded to seventeen hours and retitled The Beatles from Liverpool to Legend) and the twelve-hour Top 100 of the 70s. In 1980 she wrote and produced the forty-eight-hour Satcon 1, A Space Age Radio Fantasy Concert, and that December she found herself an inadvertent participant in history when she co-interviewed John Lennon and Yoko Ono for RKO Radio at the Dakota in New York City mere hours before John was shot and killed. This resulted in her writing the radio special John Lennon: The Man, The Memory but also upended her life and career due to the trauma she experienced. Eventually she went back to work, writing Dick Clark’s weekly radio countdown show and nationally syndicated newspaper column.

Kaye next became a television and film promo writer, producer, casting director, and location manager. Never one to sit still, she cocreated the horror movie video magazine Gorgon and the BMG video magazines MetalHead (hard rock), Slammin’ (rap), and Country Music Video Magazine. Several years later, she headed to New Zealand to lead the location production of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’s Special Extended DVD Edition. She then continued to work in television production, handling both creative content and line producing for network docuseries pilots, but used the pandemic’s period of decreased TV production to finally write her much-anticipated memoir!

You can buy Confessions of a Rock ‘n’ Roll Name-Dropper here.

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

I still consider December 8, 1980, as both the Best and Worst Day of My Life, and when I let John Lennon know at the tail end of our interview that late afternoon that I would send him a copy of my book when I eventually wrote it, he was grateful and excited! But after he was assassinated later that evening, I felt so guilty (and was so busy for decades with all of my time-consuming jobs), that I never sat down to write. Whenever I mentioned interviewing John Lennon on the former Beatle’s last day on the planet, the response was almost always the same—jaws dropped, people gasped, and the inevitable question was asked: “When are you going to write your book, Laurie?”

The answer is NOW!

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

Rock and roll musician interviews and radio specials, plus video music magazines and TV production have taken up the bulk of my years, plus interviews with rockstars for print articles for Rock Magazine!

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

My book title jumped up into my brain easily, since I’ve always considered myself so lucky to be able to be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Name-Dropper, plus, of course, a John Lennon interviewer, even though it sadly turned out to be his final one!

How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?

My book cover was created by the super talented, Grammy Award-winning rock album cover artist Mick Haggerty, who is also a music video director! He used the photo taken of me with John and Yoko following our interview to design an especially interesting and captivating book cover!

If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?

Technically my book does have a soundtrack—each chapter is named after a familiar song that emphasizes the content! My book mentions Beatles songs as well as individual ones by the former Fab Four members, but songs from bands and artists I’ve interviewed or worked with including the Ramones, Talking Heads, David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Little Richard, Lou Reed, Grace Slick, and so many more!

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

I definitely wrote my book to attract tons of readers and create awareness of my existence, which has always been important to me! I tell my readers all about being a teenage runaway thanks to my dysfunctional family upbringing, as well how sex and drugs and rock and roll sent me up the road not only to John Lennon’s last day on the planet, but also to tons of other incredible interviews that are all featured in my book! My perfect reader will be not just a John Lennon fan, but someone who’s made music extremely important throughout their lives – especially if they happened to have had a difficult childhood like I did!

What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?

I’d been told early on that it would be impossible to find a traditional publishing company for a non-celebrity memoir, and that I would no doubt need to self-publish, which I really had no desire to do. So it was extremely encouraging and exciting for me to be accepted and contracted by a cool independent, traditional publisher—Fayetteville Mafia Press—which has so far worked out very well!

What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?

I’m working primarily on book promotion and marketing now, and so very excited about my upcoming #1 book launch/signing here in Los Angeles on December 8th, the 43rd anniversary of John Lennon’s last day. The event is taking place at the super cool Book Soup on the Sunset Strip here in Los Angeles, and will hopefully be followed by a number of other book signings in cities all across the country! I’ve also accepted the invitation to take part in February’s New York BeatleFest, which is no doubt going to be tremendous!

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