WASHINGTON – Danny Fields has been called “handmaiden to the gods, the midwife to some of the most important people in music.”
Now the man who’s made a career championing The Doors, The Ramones, Iggy Pop & The Stooges, Judy Collins, Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers and others is the focus of an upcoming documentary.
“Danny Says: A documentary series on Danny Fields,” is the work of New York filmmaker Brendan Toller. Toller has launched a Kickstarter effort to pay for post-production costs.
After dropping out of Harvard Law School, Fields became managing editor of teen- fan magazine, Datebook, during the period when the magazine shined a spotlight on John Lennon’s “more popular than Jesus” quote.
Hobnobbing with Andy Warhol, Linda Eastman (who went on to marry Paul McCartney), and others in New York City, Danny was among the first to publish stories on the Velvet Underground and Jefferson Airplane.
Fields rose to fame shortly after hearing The Doors rehearse “Light My Fire” in a New York City club at the request of the band’s manager, who had asked Fields to help generate some publicity.
Check out the preview of the documentary:
Fields immediately called Elektra Records and suggested the overly-long-by-radio- standards song should be The Doors single.
When “Light My Fire” went to No. 1, Fields was hired to be The Doors publicist, says Toller.
“That made him Enemy No. 1 to Jim Morrison,” says Toller.
In the film, Fields details his now-infamous run-ins and distaste for The Doors singer.
Several years later, as co-editor of 16 Magazine, Toller said Fields had been avoiding phone calls from an unsigned band, The Ramones.
Losing a coin flip with another journalist, Fields finally saw the band in 1975 at a rundown club in The Bowery.
“He said ‘It’s the music I’ve been waiting to hear my whole life. No guitar solos. The songs were over so fast. The whole set was 20 minutes. They look great.’
He took them outside to the sidewalk of CBGB and said ‘I want to be your manager,'” Toller says.
Johnny and Tommy Ramone said Fields could be their manager if he bought them new guitar amps and drums, which cost $3,000.
“Danny, not having $3,000 in 1975 money, flew down to Florida to visit his mom. She loaned him $3,000 and punk rock was born,” Toller says.
Fields’ management of The Ramones was alluded to in their 1980 song, “Danny Says,” from the album End of the Century.
Fields was also instrumental in the career of a young Jonathan Richman, who had been a fan of Velvet Underground and Iggy and The Stooges.
“Danny brought me back into the dressing room and I had all these drawings, and I showed Iggy and the Stooges,” Richman recalls in an interview for the film.
Despite his youthful over-exuberance, Richman says Iggy treated him kindly.
“I’m ashamed of this, but Iggy, bless his heart,” Richman says now.
Toller says he’s amassed over 250 hours of interviews with Fields and others since 2009. He hopes the film will be ready for film festival release later this year with a DVD release in November 2014.