Miriam Linna

Norton Records Needs Your Immediate Help

DONATE HERE

Sandy hit Norton Records hard. Their storage warehouse in Red Hook, used to store dry goods since the 1850's, was completely flooded, damaging the vast majority of their inventory which is estimated to be around 250,000 LP's, CD's, and books, along with irreplaceable historical archives and personal items.

While I'm also heartbroken at the destruction of entire neighborhoods and communities in the area, it's important to understand that Norton is much more than a record label run by a few people. Norton is a community that has existed as many years as I've been on the planet that has done an enormous amount of good for musicians and music fans. I know of no other label as broad and as generous in their fanatical advocacy of otherwise neglected and easily forgotten artists, often generating new opportunities for them to perform and earn income from their creative work. Every Norton Recording Artist is treated like a star in a business where if you haven't had a hit in 2 years (let alone 40) you are out with yesterday's garbage. Case in point, Miriam showed me the first letter typed on Norton stationary sent to a judge on behalf of Hasil Adkins, advocating for his release from jail. Norton got him out of the clink by convincing the judge of his prospects as a performing artist and by paying off his legal fees, a grand total of 93 dollars. Another Norton Recording Star was born.

As far as the culture of Real American Music goes, Norton should be considered Too Big To Fail. Below is a message from Miriam and photos from the clean-up efforts at Norton's offices. They need volunteers to clean and salvage their stock as well as monetary donations.

Most Urgently:

If you would like to volunteer with our salvaging effort and clean records at our Prospect Height, Brooklyn office any day or time between 11AM-11PM, please e-mail us at nortonrec@aol.com with VOLUNTEER in the subject line or call 718-789-4438 (office) or 917-671-7185 (Billy’s cell phone) and we will give you directions and updated information. No text or Facebook replies for volunteering please.

Full statement (edited for clarity):

For the first time in Norton’s history, we are asking for your help. It has been entirely against our policy and nature to ask anyone for anything in the entire history of our magazine and label. It hurts us to even suggest that any of you who have supported the label and our artists by purchasing Norton records over the years support us over and above with a donation. But it has indeed come to this. We have added a donate button to our website.

Here’s the story: Every penny of what you donate will go into re-manufacturing record jackets and sleeves for the vinyl that we salvage. No donation money will go into our day-to-day expenses so long as we can go forward on a minimal budget. If we get to the point where we cannot meet our monthly budget, we will ask again. But now, all donations go into getting the Norton label records back out to the public. We will write more about the procedure in days and weeks to come. Several people have benefits in the works, and we are grateful to you all. Send us any benefit links and we will post and propagate on the Norton site. If any of you are computer, website, or internet geniuses, share your smart thoughts with us.

So, Norton Records and our print subsidiary Kicks Books have been savaged by Hurricane Sandy. Our stock and archive has been housed for the past seven years in Red Hook Brooklyn, at the historic Van Brunt Warehouses, pre-Civil War brick warehouses that were built to warehouse DRY GOODS -- tea, coffee, spices, and sugar. There was no doubt in our minds that the Red Hook warehouse was secure, it had withstood 150+ years of nature’s fury, after all. The insane and demonic combination of the hurricane, the high tide, the full moon and full-on interplanetary wrath resulted in a vortex that tore directly through the waterways separating Brooklyn from Staten Island and straight into the island of Manhattan.

Most of you know the history of the label. Billy Miller and myself (this is Miriam Linna here) started the label in 1986 as an audio offshoot of our Kicks Magazine, which we had been publishing since 1979. The label is focused on music that has been forgotten by the main veins that feed the public. It’s been a struggle from the start but in celebrating the label’s 25th anniversary exactly one year ago, we truly felt that we have reached a point where we could at least continue with releasing records and exposing people to the greatest rock ‘n roll on the planet. But here we are today, soaked to our skin with so much destruction.

Nearly all of the Norton Records stock – our LPs, CDs, 45s, picture sleeves, CD booklets, record labels and more, as well as the stock on other labels we distribute (Relic, Crypt and Stompin’) plus mail order-only stock, plus the entire Kicks Books and Kicks Magazine stock -- was destroyed. We have small existing quantities of things at our home office, but very little. Thankfully, two full printings of the latest Kicks Books, GETTING IN THE WIND by Harlan Ellison and LORD OF GARBAGE by Kim Fowley, are high and dry at the printer.  Also, our new releases are scheduled in as soon as trucks are rolling- several new El Paso volumes, T. Valentine and Daddy Long Legs, the Horror Of Party Beach guys The Dynamic Delaires’ ZOMBIE STOMP, and Kim Fowley KING OF THE CREEPS LP/CD. Release date is Nov. 20 for all things new.

Our entire Norton archive went underwater, including all of our correspondence, photos, documents, reviews, master tapes, ephemera -- including posters, at least ¾’s of my vintage paperback collection (several thousand books) and virtually all of the old magazines and fanzines which went back to the 1940’s (again, numbering into the several thousands) -- interview tapes, original photographs, original rock n’ roll and movie posters, Norton business records, family items, furniture, and musical equipment, (including my Del-Aires-owned 1962 Slingerland drum kit), recording equipment, our 1948 Lady Robin Hood pinball machine, Billy’s baseball collection… all waterlogged, and most of it, if you will excuse the expression, dead in the water.

The shock and horror of the loss on every level is difficult to deal with, but we are clinging to the hope of surviving as a label by saving the records. We will then proceed with re-manufacturing 7” sleeves and LP jackets one title at a time. We are hoping to still ship new releases by November 20th, and hope you guys and gals will get aboard with these releases, as we try very hard to get on track.

We have a mind-boggling 2013 release schedule for Norton Records and Kicks Books and it’s our hope that we can still DO IT. Billy’s Ultimate Kim Fowley Singles Discography 1959-1970 which was scheduled to appear on our website to coincide with Kim’s new book and album has been postponed indefinitely. We thank our friends at Interfuel who have worked diligently to launch our new website, which is on hold right now until we can assess what we need to remove from availability.

Please let us know if any of you geniuses have ideas on how we can carry on and move forward. We think if we get even a few volunteers with scanners and laptops and maybe drying space they can help dry documents and scan them. Maybe one person would be willing to take a few artist files, separate and hang them to dry and then scan them.. how does that sound? That’s one thing that is a race against the clock. But vital is getting the vinyl washed and dried and re-sleeved.

VOLUNTEERS

We could not have even gotten this far without the help of so many amazing volunteers – friends, family, neighbors and complete strangers. Fellow record companies like Sundazed, Daptone, Telstar (US) and even Sony Legacy have sent their able people over to provide their muscle and hustle. Norton Records is still in desperate need of volunteers to clean vinyl. Some much needed good news - the wonderful folks at the Spin-Clean Record Washer Company have donated a dozen record washing machines and gallons of cleaning fluid to help our cause. We can’t thank them enough as this will speed up our recovery process. If you would like to volunteer with our salvaging effort and clean records at our Prospect Height, Brooklyn office any day or time between 11AM-11PM, please e-mail us at nortonrec@aol.com with VOLUNTEER in the subject line or call 718-789-4438 (office) or 917-671-7185 (Billy’s cell phone) and we will give you directions and updated information. No text or Facebook replies for volunteering please.

And remember...YOU CAN’T DROWN THE LOUD SOUND!

Thank you

The Norton staff

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West Village Social Registry - Satanic Ed. with Nick Tosches

Around the corner from the Waverly Inn and the Spotted Pig, a who's who of rock n' roll miscreants assembled at the Jefferson Market Library on 6th Avenue for the first notable social gathering of the Fall Season.  In a room high above the former courtroom where Mae West was tried and convicted for obscenity, Nick Tosches washed down Parliaments with extra-dry Japanese beer, received guests from the erotic dancing trade and checked over his notes. He was at the library to read from his new book, 'Save The Last Dance For Satan' published by Kicks Books.

Kicks is an exciting new publishing venture by industry vet Miriam Linna, co-founder of Norton Records, former Strand employee and president of the Flamin' Groovies International Fan Club. Protegé sisters Charly and Gigi Himmel assisted Mrs. Linna with preparations for the evening and sold a limited edition perfume, 'TOSCHES', along with copies of the new book. (MSRP $12.95). Frank Collerius and Marie Henson of the Jefferson Market Library were exemplary hosts.

Other notable notables in attendance included Louise Murray (of the Jaynettes), her husband Donald Murray (of the Jesters), Lenny Kaye, Andy Shernoff and Scott Kempner (of the Dictators), Michael Downey (of Figures of Light), Eric Davidson (of the New Bomb Turks) and Countess LuAnn de Lesseps (or a she-male who wandered in from 7th ave, this reporter could not make a definitive call.)

The event was filled to capacity as Mr. Tosches waited for the right energy to build in the darkened library before he was to speak, on high, from the catwalk overhead. The crowd began to chant 'TAW-SHUS, TAW-SHUS' and as I banged along on a bookcase next to me a man turned to me, glaring, and snapped, "Hey Buddy! This ain't a pub, this is a LIBRARY!"

Complete gallery HERE.

Andre Williams in Nortonville

Andre Williams emerged from the cave-like stockroom/office of Billy and Miriam's Brooklyn loft - aka Nortonville - and gave me a sweet hug hello. A few minutes later in the hallway outside he came out with a wardrobe question, asking if his silk thermal underwear was causing his suit slacks to bunch. Without a pause he unbuttoned his pants, pulled down the thermals to show me matter-of-factly his boxer briefs and we both agreed non-nonchalantly that maybe the photo would be better without all the static electricity. But Andre Williams is a man with electricity to spare. His contributions to rhythm and blues, soul, and rock 'n roll are unique. His trademark sound is the smooth, poetic spoken raps about Cadillac driving hustlers, underage girlfriends and greasy soul food related dances. He was a restless operator then and he still is today.

The portrait below is the first in a series of stripped down and direct B&W portraiture I'd like to do of significant innovators in the history of record making. This is a digital proof shot prior to loading up a few rolls in a recently acquired Hasselblad 500c/m. The film is at the lab but I thought I'd put this post together anyway.

It was really great to spend the day with the very nice and insanely knowledgeable Billy and Miriam of Norton records whose Prospect Park loft is both a warehouse of Norton goodies and a candy store of music artifacts and ephemera (not the least of which was a pair of show posters in the bathroom depicting a Siamese twin gospel duo.)

Andre and Miriam going over some lyrics, post-sandwiches.

After the portrait session we did some impromptu promo shots of Andre with his new book, Sweets, and his new Sweets-inspired perfume, Bait and Switch which you can see (and buy) at the Norton website

Later in the day I was able to tag along to a recording session at N.Y.HED studios where Andre was to lay down vocal tracks for a Nolan Strong tribute in the works. Andre was the consummate professional and it was a trip to be in the room with a man who on top of his songwriting and performing credits had produced records with the Contours, Bobby Bland, Alvin Cash and the Crawlers and Ike Turner.

Please enjoy the shots from the studio. Matt Verta-Ray was running the deck.

This week I am going to spend a few days in Detroit and will hopefully get to meet a few interesting people there too.