- VULTURE: When Richie comes into the office at one point, he’s told that he’s missed calls from Lester Bangs and David Geffen. The episode doesn’t say whom he phones back first, but as Vinyl plays out, that choice will be key to the future of American Century. Who’s more important: A critic advocating for the raw poetry of primitive rock ‘n’ roll, or a music executive stoking the star-maker machinery behind popular songs?
- The Zeppelin-poaching storyline piggybacks on a real piece of rock history. The band’s original Atlantic contract expired in 1973, and other labels scrambled to sign them. Ultimately, as noted in the show, Grant used his leverage to get Atlantic to distribute Led Zep’s own label, Swan Song Records. This was a common story in the early ’70s. Labels would lure artists to new homes, then promise them their own imprints. Jagger would know: The Rolling Stones’ original Decca deal wrapped up in 1970, at which point they formed Rolling Stones Records, regularly re-selling distribution rights and the back catalog to the highest bidder.
- Think Nasty Bits sound a little too punk for 1973? Pay heed to Jamie, who compares them to The Neon Boys, the nascent version of the band Television. This episode also drops references to “Iggy” and “Lou,” partly to remind sticklers that The Stooges and The Velvet Underground were very much a part of the musical conversation in the early ’70s.
- Apparently, Richie has spent years claiming he went to Woodstock, but he spent that weekend in a hotel room with Devon. But you know who was there? Martin Scorsese, who took notes in his capacity as an assistant editor on the documentary Woodstock, and also helped tell director Michael Wadleigh’s cameramen what to shoot.
- I looked at the cast list for upcoming episodes, and it appears that Vinyl will continue to tell this semi-true story with very real characters, such as Andy Warhol, Gram Parsons, Stephen Stills, and David Bowie. MORE
RELATED: The culminating scene in Sunday night’s premiere of Vinyl centers on the collapse of the building housing the Mercer Arts Center, a music-and-theater venue in Greenwich Village. It seems too good to be true, a metaphor for the vibrant but rotting city of 1973 and also the vibrant but rotting life of the lead character, a record executive named Richie Finestra. And although the screenwriters of the pilot (including Martin Scorsese, who directed and co-wrote it) have bent a few details slightly to suit the story, it’s no fiction. The Mercer Arts Center, and the eight-story building housing it, was a very real place at Broadway and West 3rd Street, that collapsed, in a very real cloud of dust, on the evening of August 3, 1973. MORE