By James Maher
Name: George Cameron
Occupation: Musician, The Left Banke
Location: 6th Street and 1st Avenue
Time: 3 pm on Friday, Aug. 21
I’m originally from Manhattan, but I’ve been around the world and stuff. I grew up in Hell’s Kitchen. That’s why I’m such a bad kid. It was OK and then I was raised in Brooklyn because we bought a house out there.
I lived on the Upper West Side, but moved down here seven years ago. The Upper West Side was getting a little you know… not that loose, so I said let me try something else. So I came down here, man. I love it down here. I like the diversity. I love the small parks. All the people are really nice. You say hello, they say hello back.
I’m a musician. I was in a group called the Left Banke. We did a song called "Walk Away Renee." Me and mom had an up-and-down relationship. I guess you could call it like that, so I left kind of early, at 16 and I got involved in singing in the Village. My friend and I hooked up and we just started singing in the streets like crazy. The music scene was basically the Village — the West Village and some of the East Village. Everybody was around. It was all about the music. Mostly everybody was into music it seemed like. People were a little tighter with each other.
Somebody came up to us on the street, ‘Do you want to [be in a band?]’ And we went up to the studio. We had a recording studio to ourselves, day and night. Nobody has that anymore. I can’t get used to that part. We were dedicated and we did good. We didn’t realize it, but we did pretty good.
We’d tour for months at a time. We’d be on the road. We played with The Beach Boys, Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels, The Mamas & The Papas — all those people. It was fun. When you’re 17 years old and you’ve got all this money, you’re really not thinking about much. When you’re 17, you think about girls; that’s all you think about. It was really wild and we really didn’t have any person behind us who was sort of an authority figure. Everybody around us was like, ‘Oh, we saw these young guys. They really just want to play. We can take their money now.’ And they’re still trying to do it today.
So now we’re back on the road and doing some new music and stuff we couldn’t do back then. I was the guitar player originally, then the drummer split and I became the drummer, but I’m a songwriter and singer as well. I wrote a lot of the [music]. We just came back from Massachusetts and we just finished in Woodstock. We’re planning a tour for us to go down south in the fall — nice Florida weather. We’re all going to meet my lead singer in Tampa. We plan to go across from the East Coast to the West Coast. I want to be back in California for awhile. The Troubadour opened out there. Things are happening out there somehow.
James Maher is a fine art and studio photographer based in the East Village. Find his website here.
Interesting conversation! I was in junior high school when "Walk Away Renee" hit the charts. Everytime I hear that song it reminds me of Friday afternoon dances in the school gym in 1966-67. Boys on one side of the gym, girls on the other. It usually took two or three songs by the DJ to get the boys dancing with the girls.
"walk Away Renee" is a great song! Wonderful interview.
I just watched The Wrecking Crew on Netflix. I wonder if Carol Kaye, Hal Blaine, etc. were behind the Left Banke studio work. Walk Away Renée has such kickass harmonies! Hypnotic, ethereal. Makes me wonder how many hit songs started with: "Let's make it sound as cool as THIS."
Thanks for staying in the EV George :) You rock. (And if you were 17 in the Sixties you look fabUlous now!!)
Yo EVGrieve: I tried to figure out which one George is in old pics of his band... Can you post a vintage shot of him in his band days?
One of my favorite classic songs. Nice to know he's around down here.
Yeah, I'm curious too!
Left Banke records are fucking great!
No the Left Banke made all their own sounds..Michael Brown, one of the original members was also behind Stories and "Brother Louie"
Oh, and thanks for the earworm.
Love that song...
I absolutely luv that song!!!
Great interview James! I'm old enought to remember and still have the song on my IPOD!
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