Be sure and tune in to The Bottomless Pit this Saturday night at 10 for the first of a two-part salute to a towering figure in late twentieth century popular music, the record producer Tom Wilson.
Musicologist Irwin Chusid launched a website in September highlighting Wilson's remarkable life and career. The comprehensive site also highlights the fact that Wilson is not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and there's never been a good book —or any book — written about him. Not even a film or television documentary. You could easily imagine a great installment of "American Masters" about Tom Wilson and there oughta be one!
Wilson was the first African-American president of the Young Republican Club at Harvard University back in the early 1950s. His post-college record label, Transition Records, released the first albums by Sun Ra, Cecil Taylor, Donald Byrd and some of the first recordings by John Coltrane. Wilson signed the Velvet Underground to Verve Records and produced their first two albums. He even produced "Like a Rolling Stone" by Bob Dylan.
Wilson, who died in 1978 of a heart attack when he was only 47, might be forgotten today if not for the fact that his name is on some of the most essential record albums of all time. Irwin Chusid launched his Tom Wilson website in the hope that it might spur someone to finally tell his life story — which is certainly an essential American story.
So please join me, Marshall Crenshaw, on The Bottomless Pit, Saturday night at 10 p.m. EDT on 90.7FM WFUV and streaming online. If you miss a show, you can always catch up to The Bottomless Pit in the FUV archives for up to two weeks after broadcast.