Living and loving my way through the Summer of Love, the 70s, and the 80s has provided more than a few great stories; but, the one that connected me to FM radio and finding myself just about living backstage with the rockers is by far the most relevant.
It all began with my repeating a fifth grade habit I had developed. At lunch time, I’d leave St. Patrick’s school yard and head downtown to sit in with the DJ at WLAM radio station. By leaving the school grounds and exploring my home town, I eventually discovered the DJ’s booth. After days of arriving unannounced and just watching him from outside of his booth, his curiosity got the best of him, and he invited me sit in with him. At 10 years old, I was intuitively crafting my future in radio.
When the 1970s hit, and I was told to listen to this “really groovy radio station” called WBLM, licensed to my home town of Lewiston, Maine, I connected. The DJs were playing the music I wanted to hear and speaking my language. I thought, “Wow, man, these guys are just like me.” Again, just as I had as a child, I was driven to find the DJ’s booth. Except this time is wasn’t in a downtown building, it was 20 miles away in a trailer on top of a hill in Litchfield, Maine. That didn’t stop me, because now this big girl had a car. I found myself hanging out with several of the DJs, eventually marrying Jose Diaz, the program director. When the radio station needed someone to document their public file, I was qualified and began working for WBLM as their publicist and media rep. This is what led to living backstage when bands would tour through Portland, Maine.
Jose and I were hanging out with record company legends like Lenny Collins, George Skaubitis, Don Delacy, and Don Masters. They’d come to town with their recording artists, we’d go to dinner with the record guys, and then all head backstage. My pass allowed me to click away, and then I’d submit those images to trade magazines, including Billboard. I also compiled a great portfolio in the process.
By 1992, Jose and I moved to the Santa Rosa, California, area, where Jose would continue his radio career. I didn’t want to continue, though. Being in wine country, I saw the potential to reinvent myself, and I segued into wine PR. Working for new legends like Robert Mondavi and venture capitalist Bill Hambrecht has all be very gratifying. By 2001, I started Diaz Communications, with Jose also leaving radio and joining me… But still, the memories linger as the days of wine and roses have marched on. After Jose’s 25 years in radio, it’s impossible to not still connected in some way to our past; and so, I’ve been watching rockers who are also wine lovers segueing into the life of Wine, women, and Songs.
Here’s what I’ve compiled over the years, beginning with the 2011 Launches: :
KISS: Joakim Perani, managing director and partner of Rewine ~ a wholesale company, and KISS partnered to create Zin Fire Zinfandel in 2011. It was launched in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, The Netherlands, and the UK. (They also launched Destroyer Beer, just for the record.) From their Facebook page:
“This isn’t just something we put a label on. We wanted wine and beer unique to KISS and we got it, said Paul Stanley of KISS. “This stuff will set your taste buds on fire.”
“If you love beer and wine, this one is for you!” said Gene Simmons of KISS.
BAD COMPANY’S PAUL CULLEN: Wine, food, and song all do it for Paul Cullen. With 30 years of music experience, including his gig with the English rock band Bad Company and three solo records, in the 1990s Paul Cullen was the base player for Bad Company. While he’s still a musician (now a guitarist who plays his own genre of music referred to as “Jazzy Cool”), Paul recently founded a company called Unplugged and Uncorked. This company combines his background as a musician with his expertise in wine and food. Through Unplugged and Uncorked, Paul launched a new wine label called Sonata. Because of his expertise in wine and food, Paul was also recently named the food editor of Delaware’s Coastal Style magazine. More information about Cullen’s private wine label, Sonata, can be found at PaulCullen.net/wine.
Cullen’s wines are Sonata Bianco (Pinot Grigio) and Sonata Rosso. Both sell for $12.41 on the Boutique Wine Room. The juice for this wine is sourced from California’s Sierra Foothills, and his Sonata Rosso is an eclectic mélange of Syrah, Zinfandel, and Cabernet Franc. The wine has distribution through his online store, and is also available for purchase through retailers throughout Delaware, where Paul makes his home.
Cullen’s Italian mother inspired his culinary interests; today he’s also considered a culinary expert. Having signed on with Maryland’s Coastal Style magazine as Food Editor, Paul shares his recipes and is also producing cooking videos, available through an online version of the publication.
[Image borrowed from Mail Online.]
AC/DC: The bad boys of rock are now making wine… who’d thunk that one…
Australian rock band AC/DC is also now on my list of rockers who have launched their own wine brand. Their Australian collaboration is with Warburn Estate for the release of their AC/DC Wines. AC/DC wines are named after some of their biggest hits; this includes Hells Bells Sauvignon Blanc, Highway to Hell Cabernet Sauvignon,Back In Black Shiraz, and You Shook Me All Night Long Moscato. The wine is sourced from vineyards in the Barossa and Coonawarra regions in Australia, and the Marlborough region in New Zealand.
- Kermit Lynch (1972) ~ Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant
- Robert Foley (1977) ~ Robert Foley Vineyards
- Olivia Newton-John (1983) ~ Koala Blue Winery
- Doobie Brothers manager Bruce Cohn (1984) ~ B.R. Cohn Winery
- Boz Scaggs (1997) ~ Scaggs Vineyard
- Mick Hucknall of Simply Red (2001) ~ Il Cantante (“the singer”)
- Mick Fleetwood (2002) ~ Mick Fleetwood Private Cellar
- Bob Dylan (2002) ~ Planet Waveswine
- Andy Hill (2002) ~ Nyetimber
- Sir Cliff Richard (2004): Quinta do Moinho
- Jerry Garcia (2005) ~ J. Garcia wines by Clos du Bois
- Mötley Crüe (2005) ~ Vince Vineyards
- Madonna (2005) ~ Ciccone Vineyard and Winery
- Dave Pack of Ambrosia (2005) ~ Vintage 2005 Napa Valley Friend’s Blend.
- Maynard James Keenan (2006) ~ Caduceus Cellars
- Dan Aykroyd of Blues Brothers fame (2007) ~In 2007, it was announced that the Dan Aykroyd Winery would be built someday, on the property that Birchwood Estates Wines.
- Sting (Approx. 2007) ~ Il Serrestori
- Eric Turner of Warrant (2007) ~ Cheery Pie Red
- Les Claypool (2008) ~ Claypool Cellars
- Jackson Brown (2008) ~ In 2008, Jackson Brown publicly contemplated turning his Hollister Ranch home in Santa Barbara, California into a vineyard.
- Queensrÿche front man Geoff Tate ( 2008) ~ Teamed up with Three Rivers Winery to create a new red wine signature blend called Geoff Tate “Insania.”
- Motörhead (2010) ~ Motörheadwine
- Whitesnake (2010) ~ Whitesnake Zinfandel
- Train (2011) ~ Drops of Jupiter
- Paul Cullen of Bad Company’ (2011) ~ Sonata
- AC/DC (2011) ~ AC/DC Wines