March 28, 2008 by sw00ds
[Creem, Dec. 1971]
Unless there are two Diana Ross fans named “Randy Taraborelli” I think we can safely assume this is the same guy.
Category: Dear Ed.
Yeah, same guy. See his website:
He’s one of those hack celeb biographers (like Mark Bego, only crasser, with a worse haircut) who’s covered Diana, Michael Jackson, Cher and the Royal Family, and naturally he’s built up a little cottage industry on the side as one of those go-to talking heads that folks like Good Morning America will call whenever there’s a death/scandal that needs commenting upon.
Nice to know he had found and launched his career path even back then with his fan club work. And to think that had I stuck with my U2 fanzine in the late ’80s, nowadays I would be the go-to guy whenever GMA and their ilk needed some plum, pithy verbiage on Bono & Co.!
The comment of Fred Mills about Randy Taraborrelli is fairly astute: a hack he is.
(I wouldn’t have been generous or perverse enough to give his web site, though. Protect the innocent from the corrupt, I say.)
Randy might be a hack, but at least in this case he was right. The Supremes were a great girl group.
Unfortunately, this letter comes from the very earliest issue of Creem I own, so I can’t reference the review itself. If, as Taraborelli suggests, the reviewer actually claimed the Supremes were not a good “idea” (whatever the hell that even means), then yeah, that’s just silly.
Sometimes comments on the internet allude to larger subjects, and larger conversations; and in the case of JRT that is certainly true. There may have been a prejudice against girl groups in general when the review and article were published; or maybe the matter concerned the fact that the version of the Supremes under review did not include Diana Ross and really could not claim the full legacy of the Supremes for itself. What is most important is the fact that JRT, the hack, went on to betray Diana Ross with one of the most malicious, unfair biographies ever written, the notorious Call Her Miss Ross, from which Ross’s career has yet to recover: all Ross has done since, for better and worse, has been seen through the lens of the book, which took as its sources people whose careers never knew the success or support at Motown that Ross’s had. To simply remark, Yeah, the Supremes were a great group is to miss much of the story.
>>> What is most important is the fact that JRT, the hack, went on to betray Diana Ross with one of the most malicious, unfair biographies ever written, the notorious Call Her Miss Ross, from which Ross’s career has yet to recover: all Ross has done since, for better and worse, has been seen through the lens of the book…<<<
No offense, Garrett, but that strikes me as more than a little far-fetched. Her entire career “seen through the lens” of one book? (Which, by the way, I don’t doubt is as terrible as you are all suggesting… but that’s a mighty strong imprint by a supposed piece of hackwork. And strangely, I have my own thoughts about Diana Ross’s solo career that don’t have a thing to do with the book, especially considering I didn’t even know the title until you just mentioned it.)
The democracy of the internet is an interesting thing: it allows anyone to assert expertise–and it also allows anyone to question expertise. The fact that you didn’t know the title of the notorious book says much (it’s a very significant fact, and should not be cited as evidence that I am incorrect: it’s evidence that you are not well-informed). I have done too much research on and thinking about Diana Ross to rehearse the story of her career. I suggest you do more actual research on that career as well. Then, after that, I’d be happy to hear your theories.
The truth, though, is that while Ms. Ross may be a wonderful artist, she is far from a nice or good person. The Florence Ballard biography coming out any day now (and excerpted this week in the Detroit Free Press) certainly offers some definitive proof of that. I’m not so sure that Taraborrelli got it wrong. And if he did, why didn’t Diana or Berry Gordy sue? Goldman got away with it because he only wrote about dead people.
Still a fan of the Supremes and even a lot of her early stuff, though.
Hold on, gentlemen, I have a number of the earlier issues of Creem on hand, so I decided to search out exactly what was said in the critical putdown of the Supremes that brought on Taraborelli’s retort. Took me a while to find it, as I expected a full review (which were really long-winded in those days), but it’s just two Rock-a-Rama capsule reviews in the October 1971 Creem, p. 73. They’re so brief I can quote them in their entirety:
“THE RETURN OF THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN –THE SUPREMES AND FOUR TOPS — (MOTOWN): Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Too bad the record isn’t as funny as the idea.
TOUCH — THE SUPREMES — (MOTOWN): If one really needs convincing evidence that the Supremes aren’t really a good idea, he need only turn to any one of their albums since about 1968. It’s not that they’re bad now, which would be bearable, it’s just that nobody I know could ever really get off on them in the first place. (Y’know, if I wanted to be really cutting I could tell ya who wrote the liner notes. And I do — it’s Elton John.)”
Unfortunately we don’t know for sure who wrote these mini-screeds, as Creem didn’t start signing the Rock-a-Ramas until 1974, but the phrasing and the dismissive tone remind me of Dave Marsh’s style. He’s certainly prominent elsewhere in the October 1971 issue, more so than the just-hired Lester Bangs.
Bill Holdship, the truth is that based on your comments on this web page I really do not think you’re a very intelligent person. (I suspect you have very strange personal habits also, quite strange.) Based on your comments, I don’t think I need to think about you further or do research into your character or life to corroborate or change my opinion. If I’m wrong, why don’t you sue me for slander or harassment or something else? Clearly, if I’m wrong you’ll sue.
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