“DANNY SAYS”— Meet Danny Fields

“Danny Says”

Meet Danny Fields

Amos Lassen

Danny Fields, who was influential in the avant-garde music scene was a Brooklyn-born Harvard Law School drop-out who seemed to know everyone in New York pop culture in the 1960s and 1970s chronicles his start as a rock journalist in NYC, his meetings with Nico, Edie Sedgwick, Linda Eastman (a.k.a. Linda McCartney), Iggy Pop, Andy Warhol, Jim Morrison and many other celebs or rockers. He was a publicist at Elektra Records and later managed such artists as the Stooges, the MC5 and the Ramones. Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop, Leonard Cohen and Judy Collins all have something to say about Danny.

Through archive photos and footage, we go back in time to the Big Apple in-spots such as Warhol’s Factory and Max’s Kansas City where Danny the Velvet Underground and other flashy rockers. Danny shares his gay affairs, his regular drug intake and stories on the rock stars he encountered. (One of his stories is about Jim Morrison getting stoned on large amounts of acid while under his charge on orders from the studio; another about publicizing John Lennon’s “bigger than Jesus” quote in a teen magazine).

Since 1966, Danny has played a pivotal role in music and “culture” of the late 20th century: he worked for the Doors, Cream, Lou Reed, Nico, Judy Collins and managing groundbreaking artists like the Stooges, the MC5 and the Ramones. “Danny Says” follows Fields, who came out of the closet early in life, from Phi Beta Kappa whiz-kid, to Harvard Law dropout, to the Warhol Silver Factory, to Director of Publicity at Elektra Records, to “punk pioneer” and beyond. Danny’s taste and opinion were once considered defiant and radical, now seem to be prescient.

Danny was gay at a time when that was a considerably rare thing to be and here spends almost as much time talking about the freewheeling sex of the 1970s as he does about the music he was helping to define a generation.

The movie narrows down 250 hours of present-day interviews with legendary artists and musicians – as well as content from Fields’ own archive of thousands of photographs, audiocassettes and ephemera.

Danny is a naturally gifted storyteller who was present during one of pop music’s most exhilarating times. Brendan Toller’s directed this documentary in which Fields extensively discusses his shifting role from the mid-1960s to the late ’70s as a journalist, press agent, and manager to such bands as the Doors, the Stooges, MC5, and the Ramones. Fields intimately speaks brashly and causally about an important time in rock music history. He tells of outlandish exploits in a way that makes these music icons of music come across as ordinary people.

Fields found himself in an extended drug binge with Jim Morrison after introducing him to Nico, and, once he was firmly in the New York City underground, he tells of how he prevented an Andy Warhol sycophant, Ivy Nicholson, from jumping out of a window while an indifferent Warhol and others stood idly by. As Fields gives something of an untold history lesson littered with personal opinions, Toller creates an invigorating visual approximation of the man’s memories, with fluid and shifting animation that shows that timelines are blurred.

The film skims through many years in his professional life, including his time managing the Ramones, which is odd considering that Fields is considered to be one of the “godfathers of punk.” These latter sequences offer little information beyond Fields reciting how he met a certain band and signed them to a record deal, which is also when the film becomes its most hagiographic. Toller lets Fields speak for the majority of “Danny Says” thus letting viewers come to their own conclusions about the man.

Fields began working as a writer and editor, finding an entrance into the rock world through his pre-established channels and by paying attention to the next big thing. There is a lot of name-dropping and focus on Fields’ personal life, his homosexuality, and his intense drug use.

I was captivated from the beginning and it held my interest the whole way through, as I enjoyed hearing all the stories Danny and friends shared. but the film is sloppy in some of the technical areas and it is ironic that in that a documentary about a man and rock stars the sound is so poor.