If you read or hear the name, Jean Beauvoir, for most, it may not be a readily recognizable name. However, if you do some research, you will see that Jean Beauvoir has been involved with the music business for so long, that he's outlived the musical careers of some of the biggest name bands of the 1980's combined. Beavoir was the leader of his junior high school rock band at 13, which lead to playing dances and clubs throughout the New York area. And after lying about his age, at 14, he was Gary U.S. Bonds' musical director, and went on to do shows throughout the US with Dick Clark, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry and many others. Soon after this, he became the youngest lead singer of the doo wop group, The Flamingos. At 15, he moved to New York City during the punk rock explosion and answered a newspaper ad for a bassist, which led to his joining Wendy O. Williams and The Plasmatics for two albums. He left the group after their release 'Beyond the Valley of 1984' in 1982, to join Steve Van Zandt's - Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul - for two albums. Following this, he launched a solo career with the album, 'Drums Along the Mohawk,' released in the UK on Virgin Records in 1986. That same year, the track "Feel the Heat" was chosen by Sylvester Stallone for his film, "Cobra." The song was a hit, charting Top 10 across Europe and Australia and reaching No. 73 on the Billboard Hot 100. Jean Beauvoir's success has always been much greater in the rest of the world than in the US.
Beauvoir released several further solo albums since the late 1980s. Since then, he has also written, produced for, and performed with acts such as KISS, the Ramones, The Pretenders, Deborah Harry, Lionel Richie and N'SYNC. He has appeared on over 100 albums over the past two decades. He also fronted the bands Voodoo X and Crown of Thorns, which were originally signed to Interscope Records and had achieved significant success in the rest of the world. Beauvoir has earned a multitude of Platinum and Gold awards for his work in the US and abroad. He toured and performed with the Eurythmics, David Bowie, Tina Turner, Bon Jovi, Van Halen, Bruce Springsteen and The Who. He’s made hundreds of personal and TV appearances throughout the world and has sold in excess of 30 million records worldwide as an artist, producer and songwriter.
In addition to being on the creative side of the 'music biz,' Beauvoir founded and serves as CEO/President of Voodoo Island Entertainment Group whose divisions included Voodoo Island Records and Voodoo Island Productions. Beauvoir is also the founder and CEO/President of Hot Boy Music and Tigre Noire Music. Beauvoir’s worldwide music catalogue contains over 250 published titles currently administered by Rondor/Universal.
For over 6 years, Jean also served as CEO/Managing Director of Steven Van Zandt’s media and entertainment company, Renegade Nation, whose operations include terrestrial and Sirius XM Satellite radio programming, live event and television production, record label operations, music licensing, merchandising and an online social networking venture. Beauvoir was responsible for all aspects of Renegade Nation’s initiatives, which included the programming, management of staff, and coordination of two 24/7 Channels on Sirius XM Satellite, “Outlaw Country” and “Little Steven’s Underground Garage”.
In June of 2015, Beauvoir released his first CD in over 7 years, following up the 2008 Crown of Thorn's 'Faith' CD with 'American Trash.' 'American Trash' was released worldwide through Frontiers Records with Micki Free (who was also originally in Crown of Thorns with Beavoir, and was first discovered by none other than Gene Simmons of KISS), as the CD was released under the project name Beauvoir/Free.
Rock Music Star recently caught up with Jean Beauvoir and spoke with him about his latest release and his illustrious career.
Rock Music Star: Jean, I've been following your career for a long time and I was pleasantly surprised when 'American Trash' came across my desk. By being a writer, I get access to a lot of new music - which is great - but unfortunately, most of the music is not. I've been listening to it for awhile now and it's one of my favorite releases of the year. Could we start the interview by going back to the beginning of your career, and then we can work our way up to the 'American Trash' release?
Jean Beauvoir: Sure. I actually started professionally playing when I was 14 years old. I had a junior high school rock band first, and then I was seen out in the clubs by Gary U.S. Bonds' manager, as Gary was looking for a backing band, in order to go and out and do shows - which were these 'oldies' kind of things. So I started there, and found myself touring around America, (which a lot of the shows were) in Vegas, and we were doing all these Dick Clark shows. I played with Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry and sometimes I would have to be part of their bands as well because I was the musical director.
RMS: That's a lot of responsibility for someone that young!
JB: It was A LOT of responsibility! I can remember back in the day, one of the guitar players - Tommy Lafferty - who was in Voodoo X and Crown of Thorns, was actually with me when I was doing that with Gary U.S. Bonds, and we were together in Bermuda and I called a rehearsal and nobody showed up. So I docked everybody (their pay). I docked everybody and they all wanted to beat me up. They were all pissed off. They were all pissed off that this "little kid" was gonna try to dock them and they were all like 20 years old and stuff. But Tommy actually came to my defense and he's been my friend ever since.
Shortly after that, I moved to New York City and joined a punk group called, N.Y.N, and did a few gigs. The next thing ya know, I found myself auditioning for the Plasmatics. That was at the very beginning of the Plasmatics, so I became a Plasmatic. From there, that was the beginning of my professional recording career.
RMS: After the Plasmatics broke up, Wendy O. Williams released her solo album 'W.O.W,' which many regard as an unreleased KISS album of sorts with Wendy on vocals. Were you at all involved in that, and did that lead to your working relationship with Paul Stanley and KISS, or did it come about in a different manner?
JB: Well, I actually left the Plasmatics in 1982, and moved on and started playing with Little Steven Van Zandt. I wanted to have a solo career at the time, and no label wanted to sign me. They said, "If you wanna blow up cars, we'll sign you. Singing? Don't even think about it." (Laughs) At the time, I had gotten an offer from Prince, to play in his band. It turned out that he had been a huge Plasmatics fan, and his management had called me as soon as I had left the Plasmatics. They told me that Prince had been to all of my shows, and he wanted to offer me a solo deal, but he also wanted me to play bass for him. But I wasn't really into playing with ANYONE at the time, because I so badly wanted to do a solo record.
So I wound up going back to my old manager, who handled me with Gary U.S. Bonds, and it turned out that Gary U.S. Bonds was working on a new album with Bruce Springsteen. My manager suggested that I meet with Little Steven and said he could organize that they (Springsteen and co.) could rehearse in my loft. So I met with Steven, and he somehow convinced me to work with him. He suggested for me to do a couple albums with him, so I could get some credibility as an artist, so people wouldn't just think of me as the guy (from the band) that just blows up cars.
It was during my time working with Little Steven, that I wound up doing my stuff with KISS. I just met Paul (Stanley) in a club one night and just became friends first. We didn't actually wind up writing a song together for a year after we had met. All of a sudden, we were just hanging out at his house, eating Chinese food, and he pulled out a guitar and we started writing.
RMS: At the time, what was the purpose of your writing sessions? Was it an experimentation just to see how you would collaborate or was it specifically to come up with songs for what would become 'Animalize?'
JB: He was very specific, as he was starting to write for that record at the time, so he said, "Let's just try to write something." So we sat and started writing and "Thrills in the Night" was the first thing that we came up with.
RMS: It's been documented that not only did you co-write the song, but you also played bass on the record.
JB: Yeah, I did. Sometimes I forget, and I have to go and wikipedia myself to find out what albums I played bass on!! (Laughs) Back in the day, these types of things would happen (where ghost players would be brought into the studio), but it was kind of unspoken. It was really casual. Since I had played on the demo, Gene (Simmons) and Paul were like, "Why don't you just play it?" So I wound up playing bass on several songs over their next two records ('Animalize' and 'Asylum'). So once KISS started mentioning me in their books, and then I realized that it's just common knowledge now.
RMS: Just to break from the chronological time-line for a bit, I have to say that it was your work with KISS that peaked my interest in seeking out your solo material, and the first stuff that I heard that had you singing on it, was the material you had recorded for the first Crown of Thorns CD. You released several CDs with Crown of Thorns from 1993-2008, but the 2008 'Faith' CD is the last thing you released since you put out 'American Trash' this year (2015) under the moniker, Beavoir/Free. Why was there such a long gap between the releases and how would you differentiate Beavoir/Free from Crown of Thorns?
JB: The gap was because I took some time off from making records and I started working for Steven Van Zandt again. He called me and asked me to be CEO of his company. So I took about 6 and a half years off basically, where I did some music (mostly writing for other artists), but there was so much work - running the whole thing with him (Van Zandt) - that was wasn't that much time for recording. But I did manage to squeeze in 'Faith.'
But the difference between the 2 bands is pretty much Micki (Free). Micki was involved in the first Crown of Throwns record, but since the first record I've been working with different musicians. I still have Crown of Thorns as an active entity, and I still may make another Crown of Thorns record. But when the opportunity came to record 'American Trash,' I didn't want to fire the current guitarist of Crown of Thorns in order to put Micki back in that band. It just seemed easier to keep everything in it's own space. Micki and I talked about it and said, "lets just do a Beauvoir/Free project instead. And this way, it can be a different thing."
RMS: Being that you also produced 'American Trash,' and with labels pushing artists to brickwall their recordings, in order to achieve maximum volume, what are your thoughts on this trend and how did it affect your approach in producing the album?
JB: You must be a producer! (Laughs) I'm really impressed by how knowledgeable you are. That's a very intelligent question. Considering I've been doing this for a really long time, I've seen almost every different stage and method of recording music. All the analog recording, putting 24 tracks together for 48, the first digital machines, and I've had the chance to work with great engineers in my career.
I miss the dynamics. One thing that you used to have with analog tape, is you would get this extra thing. When you would play the bass, through a half-inch tape - when you got your mix, you'd feel a balance. You'd feel 'this' come out of that thing, that I can still remember to this day, that is still very thrilling to me. And I do fight with what exactly what you said (is going on). A matter of fact, when we made this record ('American Trash'), and I sent it off to mastering, the first couple masters that I got sent back to me, I actually sent back, because they were too brickwalled. I just felt somehow, I was not feeling the dynamics of this. It just sounded one dimensional, from beginning to end. And that's not the way the songs were written.
RMS: Your big break through commercially, as a solo artist, was through the success of your song "Feel the Heat" being used in the Sylvester Stallone film, "Cobra." What I found to be ironic was that, being a fan of the song, "Thrills in the Night," I always thought the breakdown after the guitar solo sounded like Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger," which was the theme song for Stallone's film, "Rocky III." Not only did Stallone personally request "Eye of the Tiger" for "Rocky III," but he also personally requested "Feel the Heat" for "Cobra."
JB: Wow! That's wild. I actually never thought of that. You're right, that is a little ironic. That whole "Feel the Heat" thing was a MAJOR break through for me, and that really helped my solo profile/career. It was a pretty big hit, especially in Europe. One of the reasons for the success was like you said, Stallone, coming off the success of the Rambo and Rocky films, he was such a big actor, that he was given the biggest marketing budget, in the history of film, for "Cobra."
Ironically, Stallone was at Warner Brothers in LA, and walked by the studio where they were editing my "Feel the Heat" video, and he saw the video and heard the song, and all of a sudden we get a call at manager's office saying, "Stallone just heard your song, and he wants that to be the lead song for the entire marketing campaign, for the "Cobra" film worldwide." It worked really well with the film and it was in all the commercials and all the trailers. It was very cool.
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