From: [email protected]
To: Gordon Raphael
Date: Tue, Mar 20, 2012 at 4:17 PM
Subject: Some words

Hi again.

Okay…I’d love to hear some words from you on your earliest musical memories: What was the moment that rock ‘n roll first caught your ears and eyes? What did it make you feel? For me, when I saw a painting of Ziggy Stardust on the back of a kid’s jean jacket in my neighborhood, that orange lightening bolt became indelibly emblazoned in my mind… I had to know who that guy was! There was no way it got any cooler than that!

The stereo was almost always on in our house and I remember The Knack, The Beatles, Meatloaf, Edgar Winter, Supertramp, Rolling Stones, Elvis and loads of ’50s and ’60s stuff emanating from the speakers. We listened to whatever our parents did, ie. no Mini Pops or Disney soundtracks  for us. I’m curious: What was the prevailing attitude towards it in your house and amongst family members? Was rock n’ roll accepted? Did you acquire tastes from your parents or siblings?

Talk soon! Hope you’re well.


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part of Gordon Raphael's record collection

A portion of Gordon's records at his home in Berlin.

From: Gordon Raphael
To: [email protected]
Date: Wed, Mar 29, 2012 at 2:47 AM
Subject: Some words

My grandfather tried to keep me away from the world of rock ‘n roll as best he could. When I was about six years old, he was flipping through the channels of our big black and white television and I caught a five-second glimpse of The Beatles performing. Grandpa Jack got a terribly disgusted look on his face, quickly changed the channel, and spat out, “Those people do not take baths!” Though I felt a discernible twinge of excitement for that too-brief moment, I was not to fully experience the world of rock music for another two years.

The opportunity to rock-the-heck-out came to me when my parents left for a holiday in Mexico. The wonderful 24-year-old babysitter they had hired for me and my sisters  immediately switched on my dad’s hi-fi stereo in our comfortable living room and began playing 1967 rock ‘n roll radio.  I heard Sunshine of your Love, Day Tripper, Light my Fire, Summertime Blues by Blue Cheer and Hot Smoke and Sassafras by Bubble Puppy- and that was it I was gone, possibly forever!

Having already started piano lessons and begrudgingly playing songs such as Row, Row, Row Your Boat and Mary Had a Little Lamb, this catchy, dark, electric sound I was hearing coming from the radio jolted through my body with a very pleasant sensation. I instantly sussed out that its imagery, symbolism, and spirit seemed to extend an invitation to a secret, underground brotherhood bent on world peace, revolution, and overthrowing the tired, gray structures of society and politics that the 1950s and postwar generation had built.

My father—who was a scientist, as well as a jazz musician—dabbled in rock ‘n roll, and brought home The Beatles Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band for our family to hear and used Frank Zappa’s We’re Only in it for the Money as the soundtrack to a PTA slideshow he created about the new world of street drug use in the hippie culture. His main intent was to quell the hysteria surrounding drugs by offering scientific evidence to distinguish between “dangerous” and “not dangerous drugs,”  but I’m sure the slides (bearing photos taken at the first Northwest Rock Festivals) combined with Zappa’s outrageous psychedelic music only served to completely freak the shit out of those concerned parents!


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—Gordon Raphael is a former music-loving kid from Seattle, Washington, who grew up to be in some bands (including Grunge rockers Sky Cries Mary), and then moved to New York to produce great records for some very influential bands. His most renowned works are the first three releases from American rockers, The Strokes.

Gordon is currently based in Berlin and continues to produce albums for international recording artists. This is the second exchange in an ongoing correspondence between Gordon and Talk Rock To Me founder, April Robinson.



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