Oct 15th, 2019
Two-time Grammy nominee and the award-winning author — Holly George-Warren has written 16 books including the New York Times bestseller The Road to Woodstock and the new biography Janis: Her Life and Music about rock icon Janis Joplin. Holly is also working with Petrine Day Mitchum on a new documentary called Rhinestone Cowboy about the story of Nudie, the Rodeo Tailor.
Find out more about Holly George-Warren.
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Passionistas: Hi and welcome to the Passionistas Project Podcast. We’re Amy and Nancy Harrington and today we're talking with two-time Grammy nominee and the award winning author Holly George-Warren. To date, Holly has written 16 books, including the New York times bestseller, “The Road to Woodstock” and the forthcoming biography, “Janice: Her Life and Music” about rock icon Janice Joplin. Holly is also working with Patrine Day Mitchell on a new documentary called “Rhinestone Cowboy” about the story of Nudie, the rodeo tailor. So please welcome to the show Holly George-Warren.
Holly: Great to be here. Thanks so much for having me.
Passionistas: What's the one thing you're most passionate about?
Holly: Wow, gosh, what time is it? Every time it changes on the hour it seems like, but of course right now I'm most passionate about, I guess both Janis Joplin and Nudie. As far as my work life goes, my head is wrapped around both of those people. And interestingly enough, Nudie actually did make some outfits for Janice in 1970 so there's a connection with everything. And of course my other passion in my personal life is my family, my husband Robert Brook Warren and my son Jack Warren, who fill my life with joy and excitement and share, uh, my love for the arts, film, music, the outdoors, etc. So I'm very blessed.
Passionistas: So tell us a little bit about what first inspired you to become a writer.
Holly: I think music really did first inspire me beginning at a very, very young age. I grew up in a small town in North Carolina and literally I'm old enough to have discovered music back in the days of am radio. And in my town it was so tiny. We had very, you know, little radio, just some gospel, I think country and Western. This was in the ‘60s. But I discovered at night after like say nine o'clock on my little clock radio that I could tune into w ABC in New York and WCFL in Chicago. And that just blew my mind. It opened up this whole world for me of all these different sounds and styles of music. Cause that was in the day of very eclectic radio. Playing a DJs, they, they didn't go by strict playlists or anything like that. And I literally started just kind of writing, I think inspired by the music I was hearing.
I started writing a little bit about music and I of course started reading biographies also at the same time. So that was the other major I would say inspiration for me. I started reading in elementary school these biographies of all kinds, everyone, you know, from like George Washington Carver to Florence Nightingale to Abraham Lincoln biographies and became kind of obsessed with reading those books. And you know, I just love to read from a young age. So I think those interests kind of combined that. Um, by the time I got to college I was writing quite a bit and uh, always did quite well with my writing assignments in school and then found myself writing more and more about music, going out and seeing bands performing live. And then that's what I did when I moved to New York city in 1979 I started writing for all kinds of fanzines and underground magazines that existed at that time in the East village.
About then, it was kind of the post punk scene I guess, but I had been inspired by the original punk rockers, you know. I got to see the Ramones and bands like that in North Carolina before I moved to New York. So I've just started writing about the scene, which was not that well covered at the time. Talk a little bit more about the scene at that point. Back in those days, in the late seventies in New York city, there were only a couple of clubs where you could go out and see bands that had, were kind of either following in the footsteps of the original punk scene in New York and London. And a few of those people were still around New York and playing. So there was this great resurgence of kind of DIY homemade magazines, sort of called fanzines that all kinds of people that were into the scene started writing articles for.
And it didn't have as many gatekeepers as say the big glossy magazines of the day, you know, even Cream magazine, which was kind of an upstart as compared to say Rolling Stone was pretty restrictive as far as who could write for those magazines. And I would send out queries and tried to get assignments and never hear back anything. But in the meantime, just people out on the scene who were playing in bands, booking bands, going out to see shows every night we're putting out these music magazines that pretty much anyone through, you know, string a sentence together and had a little bit of knowledge about writing. But a lot of passion basically. Again, passion was very much the key word of I would say the music scene, the people on stage and then also people writing about the music. So that's really what got me started and I started getting published in some, again very small run underground, a little music magazines.
Passionistas: Then you did eventually start to write for Rolling Stone and you became an editor of the Rolling Stone press in ’93. So tell us about the road to that and your experience working there.
Holly: It was quite the fun road. It was circuitous because I did get swept up in the whole band scene and actually started playing in bands very early. I played, I used to call it lead rhythm guitar. So again, playing in different bands over pretty much throughout the 1980s and while I was doing that, I didn't write quite as much, but I felt like it was a huge tool for being able to write about music to actually be in a band. You know, we went on the road, we toured around some of my different bands, I did several recordings. So I learned what it was like to work in a recording studio.
And just the whole life of being a musician became a real thing for me. So I felt like I could write about musicians with much more authority. I never considered myself a real musician. I still was a fan, but I, I could play a mean bar chord. And I started out with a fender Mustang and then I moved up to a fender Jazzmaster of the vintage one from the late fifties so I was pretty hip. Let me tell you. In the meantime, I did start getting some real jobs to pay the bills, including, believe it or not, I became an editor at American Baby magazine, which funnily enough, almost everyone that worked there was childless. And that was really my first nationally published articles was for this magazine. Um, how to know when your child is old enough for a pet or, you know, I did a research article where I went out and interviewed parents of quintuplets and quadruplets and triplets, you know, um, but I, you know, really kinda cut my teeth writing for that magazine.
I learned how to be a journalist, you know, a real journalist. And then gradually through meeting people and also being a total rock and roll geeky nerd who was constantly reading every rock biography that would come out. And also I was really into, it was weirdly enough through punk rock, I got totally into old timey country music, like the Carter family. And honkytonk music like Hank Williams and I loved, uh, Patsy Cline, Wanda Jackson, the queen of rockabilly. So I got into that kind of music pretty much while I was a full-fledged punk rocker. And again, I think passion is the line between those two, the thread that connects them that, you know, both of those kinds of music, that earlier country that were raw primitive kind of country music as well as punk rock had that passion was very obvious in the music and that I loved it.
I was totally into all that kind of music. And in fact, I saw George Jones at the Bottom Line in 1980 which blew my mind. So anyway, so I started learning more about that kind of music by just reading books all the time and eventually heard about a job as a fact checker at Rolling Stone press in the 1980s they were doing this big rock and roll encyclopedia and needed someone to double check everything. You know, these established writers who I'd been reading for years, Rolling Stone, like people like Dave Marsh had written. And so that was my first, you know, I was getting to call up Question Mark of Question Mark and the Mysterians and asking him, you know, was it true that he came from another planet and called up, you know, all these people.
In fact, funnily enough, I handsome Dick Manitoba, the singer, the Dictators, I called him up to check some facts about this notorious horrible fight on stage, basically abroad between him and Jayne County at CBGBs. And then literally when I was playing in my band, we were rehearsing and this music building famously where Madonna once lived before she got an apartment near times square I was in, had gotten a taxi to get home with my equipment and there was, who was driving me, but you know, Richard, Manitoba, handsome Dick himself, who I had just caught up and asked him about his career as a fact checker.
So anyway, that kind of got my foot in the door at Rolling Stone, which led to me over the years doing freelance projects for them. And till finally in 1993, well actually ‘91, they hired me as the editor to do a couple of their Landmark books, had deals with Random House to do new additions, “The Rolling Stone Album Guide” and “The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll.” And so they hired me to kind of be the editor to work with uh, Anthony DeCurtis and Jim Hinky at the magazine to guide these books, which are these massive, massive researched, you know, a lot of people involved, you know, a lot of moving parts to do these new, uh, additions. So that went really well. So in 1993 they decided to start up a new book division, which had kind of fallen by the wayside and they hired me to come on board and run that book division. And that was a great experience and that's what led me to start writing for the magazine. I started doing assignments for the magazine, record reviews and things like that while running the book division.
I learned so much from working on those kinds of big reference books. You know, and again, we had amazing writers that I got to interface with and on “The Illustrated History of Rock and Roll,” too, I got to work with everyone from Peter [inaudible] to Mark Marcus to the late great Robert Palmer. Again, Dave Marsh, you know, many, many writers. And then I got to assign a lot of new chapters and in fact I wrote a chapter, Anthony DeCurtis became a real mentor to me. He was an editor at Rolling Stone that was in the trenches with me on these book projects and he assigned me as the writer to do a big piece on the changing role of women and rock, you know, beginning with Patty Smith, et cetera. Up to that current time. I think, you know, I covered, I think Sinead O'Connor at that point was maybe one of the newer artists that was, uh, the focus of my chapter.
But that was a real huge, exciting thing to get to be part of. And then I got to do another very cool book with a wonderful writer editor named Barbara Odair, who came to my office. She was working at Rolling Stone and then at US magazine back in the day when it was owned by Winter media and said, “Let's do a whole book on women in music with every chapter written by women and every, as much as possible, all the photography done by women.” So we did this really cool book called “Trouble Girls: The Rolling Stone Book of Women in Rock.”
And funnily enough, one of the chapters I did for that one was this big piece on Nico, who was my first ever famous person I ever interviewed when I was, you know, living in New York city. I was still waitressing at the time. And Nico, of course from the velvet underground fame was kind of down at the heels. Editorials at the time, but having to go to a methadone clinic across from where I was working and would come in every day afterwards and have an amaretto on the rocks and cheesecake. So I got up my courage and asked her if I could interview her and I didn't even have a platform for my interview, but she said yes and got to spend some time with her and interview her and use part of the interview and a little fanzine back in the day. But then I got to really expand and write this whole chapter on Nico and use this interview I'd done 10 years earlier or even earlier than me, I guess 12 years earlier for this book “Trouble Girl.” So that was really exciting. Yeah.
Passionistas: So you were writing about women, you're interviewing women, but what was it like for you as a woman starting in those early days in the punk rock scene through this time where you've becoming a more established rock journalist? What were your experiences like both as a musician and a journalist, as a woman in the music industry?
Holly: Well, when I met people face to face and worked with them, say for example, Anthony DeCurtis and Jim Hinky, who sadly just passed away just a few weeks ago or a month, a month or so ago. They were very, very encouraging and very supportive. They really encouraged me to write and gave me assignments, et cetera. But before that I really found, and maybe it's true whether you're male or female or whatever gender, you know, but if I just blindly sent out queries or blindly tried to get gigs writing, when I first moved to New York City, it was a disaster. I mean, people either ignored me or just blew me off or said no or you know, it was really hard to get the foot in the door without actually working with people and for them to see what my work was like. Now, I did have the good fortune early on to meet some people that had worked with punk magazine and part of, there was this whole cool kind of resurgence of comics.
This really great artists. Peter Bag had joined forces with John Holmstrom who had done punk magazine. And Peter and I, a Peter's wife and I work together, you know, at this restaurant. So Peter knew that I, you know, at this time I was just going out and writing about stuff on my own and pitching it to a few people I knew actually from North Carolina had moved to New York, but then they started giving me assignments for this. These magazines they started, one was called Stop and when it was called comical funny. So they, you know, they really encouraged me. So, you know, I can't say that I experienced gender bias or anything like that. Once I knew the people, I think maybe I was just, it's hard to know. I mean I did definitely get a lot of rejection. A lot of people that I pitched didn't really take me seriously and whether it's they didn't really know my work or because I was a woman, I don't know.
I mean I, I did frequently find myself being the only music geek, you know, blabbing away on all this arcane kind of Trainspotting rock and roll history trivia with, you know, I'd be the only gal in the room blabbing away about that, you know, with some guys and stuff like that. There weren't a lot of women doing it and there weren't that many women around Lee for me that I crossed paths with to kind of support my endeavors at that part of my career. However, I very fortunately met a couple of women when I was a fact checker at Rolling Stone Press who were very, very encouraging and really I would not be talking to you right now if not for them. And one was Patti Romanowski who was the editor of Rolling Stone Press at the time, who hired me as a fact checker back in the ‘80s. She went on to write many as told two books with everyone from Mary Wilson to Otis Williams at the temptations. And that book has recently been the basis for this very successful Broadway show right now. So Patty was fantastic.
And then her boss, the woman who ran rolling stone press with Sarah Layson who became, you know, really made my career because after she left Rolling Stone Press, she started a book packaging company and became a literary agent and hired me continuously for her book company. And then she became my literary agent when I left Rolling Stone. No, actually before I even started at Rolling Stone, my first ever book, which I uh, got my first book deal around 1990. So it was even before I went to Rolling Stone actually, she became my literary agent and my first ever book, she connected me with my coauthor Jenny Boyd, who had been married to make Fleetwood and her sister Patty Boyd, you might know the name was married to George Harrison, Eric Clapton.
And Patty was a really interesting person who had kind of dug out a new life for herself. After her marriage with Mick Fleetwood ended, went back to school, became a psychologist, got a PhD and wanted to do a book on creativity and in musicians. So she hired me to be her co-author and we did this book called, well, it's available now. It got repackaged again and republished in England called, “It's Not Only Rock and Roll,” but it was basically about the creative process of musicians based on interviews with 75 musicians. So that really started me on my path as an author. That was my first book and that came out and a ‘91 Simon Schuster, a Fireside Division. So Sarah did that and then she became my, you know, agent. I wrote a few other books, a couple while I was at Rolling Stone and then when I left there in 2001 I've been writing books ever since. And Sarah has been my agent for all of them up to this my Janice Joplin book.
And she definitely is one of my, you know, if not for her, I would, you know, like I said, I would not be talking to you right now.
Passionistas: You're listening to the Passionistas Project Podcast and our interview with award winning author Holly George-Warren. To find out more about her latest book, “Janice: Her Life and Music” visit HollyGeorgeWarren.com. Now here's more of our interview with Holly.
So clearly you have an extreme in depth knowledge of the history of women in the music industry. So how do you think the music industry has evolved over the years in terms of opportunities for women?
Holly: When I first moved to New York as far as women performing in bands, that was just starting to really happen thanks to the whole, you know, punk explosion with bands from England, like the Slits and the Raincoats, the Modettes, you know, I saw all those bands, that little tiny clubs and it just was a much more welcoming atmosphere for women to pick up instruments and play in pants.
And like I said, I started playing guitar in bands. Then of course, you know people like Tina Weymouth and Chrissy Hynde, I mean Patty Smith of course. So as far as getting the courage to get up on stage and play and then just, um, to have other like-minded souls out there that wanted to be in bands with you was very, uh, it was a great time to be in New York and gradually there became more and more venues, places to play. I got to play at all of them from, you know, CBS to Max's Kansas city, peppermint lounge, Danceteria, you know, all these great classic clubs in New York, you know, late seventies, early eighties. And as far as the music business, I mean, you know, at that time we were like screw the music, but you know, we were punk rockers, man. We were underground. We didn't want anything to do with that.
In fact, when I started even working for Rolling Stone in ‘93, I would tell people like, yeah, I'm working for Rolling Stone so I can afford now to write about the bands I really love. For it cause I was still writing for this really cool magazine called Option, which, and I'll if you remember that magazine, but very cool magazine based on the West Coast. And so I'd still write about people that would never ever get covered in Rolling Stone, but all different types of music. And again started writing about some of the early country music pioneers and rockabilly people like Wanda and people like that. So I didn't really interface that much with the mainstream music business at that time.
You know, I basically had good experiences on that very low level. Again, this was the time of the Go-Go's had come around and the Bangles, my band Dos Furlines, went on a tour of Canada with a couple of other all women bands and it was, you know, it was a male promoter and everything went really great.
Once I started moving up the food chain, once I was at Rolling Stone, I started working on producing some CD packages with labels. And again, everybody I worked with were male, but they were very supportive. They were really into what, you know, my ideas were. So I didn't really have any problem with that. And you know, gradually I started meeting some very cool women that a lot of women I discovered had been really behind the scenes. So I started meeting some of those women who had been working at labels for years. Some of them had left, it started their own publicity companies, some of them were in management, et cetera. So, and then I, you know, finally got to meet a few of the women who had been pioneering women, female journalists. But again, there weren't that many. It was very cool to see. And then, you know, like I said, Barbeau Dara and I did a whole book with lots of great, great women writers.
The scene I think helped, um, a lot of women find their, you know, their niche a lot. You know, a lot of women were total big into music just the way I was. But you know, finally, all these channels that opened up for them to pursue it as either a writer or you know, an A& R person manager, publicist, a photographer, lots of great women photographers. And again, I was, I loved meeting women who started in the business in the ‘60s into the ‘70s. So I loved getting to meet them in the ‘90s and just, I wish I would've known them or could've somehow met them when I first started out in the ‘70s, late seventies, even early eighties to get encouragement from them. But you know, they, they were really kind of behind the scenes. They weren't that obvious. And some of them became very good friends like Jan new house ski, uh, fabulous, wonderful.
A writer who was one of the early women writers for Cream magazine. And, uh, I got to know her and work with her and you know, Daisy McLean, who had written for Rolling Stone, um, back in the glory days of rock journalism where they were all these junkets and you were flown all over and wined and dined by the labels and all that kind of stuff. And she had some amazing stories to tell about being in the trenches. And Ellen sand or another wonderful writer who her great book called, I think it's called trips, was just reissued last year. And she was a very early writer. And when out on the road with, you know like LEDs up one and covered a Woodstock and a lot of Janis Joplin gigs, Forest Hills tennis stadium wrote about that. And so again, just these great writers who were hard to find when I started out.
Passionistas: You have an interest in all these genres. And you've written about such a wide range of music from country to punk. What makes a topic or an artist compelling enough for you to dedicate a book to the subject?
Holly: I guess if there's a complexity to the person and arguably perhaps all artists are a complex people, who knows cause I don't know about all of them, but I've been really attracted to writing about people that have had to really struggle, who've had to break down barriers to be heard, who have, you know, a lot of facets to their personality. And Janice is my third biography. My first one was Gene Autry, the singing cowboy who was a very complex man and very much a groundbreaking artist going way back to the beginning in the late 1920s broke through in the early thirties. And then Alex Chilton, who of course a lot of people know from big star, but it started out as this pop star at age 16 and the Box Tops and just had this incredible career in life.
I become passionate about them, their music, their lives. I never lose that passion. I mean I still get excited if some crazy, you know, online radio station plays, you know, a Gene Autry song. Same thing without, I was so thrilled. I went to see once upon a time at time in Hollywood and to hear a very deep cut box top song on the soundtrack of a, of the new Quintin Tarantino films. So two to train. By the way, I never lose the passion for the people that I like. Literally moving in with one of my biography subjects, you know, for several years. And you never forget your roommates, right? Most of them.
Passionistas: Tell us about why you chose to write a book about Janis Joplin and what you learned about her that you found most fascinating from writing the book.
Holly: I have to say part of it, I mean, I really believe that my subjects also choose me somehow. Again, following my passion, I ended up in a place where it just kind of comes together and with Janice for years, of course I had loved her music. She was definitely an inspiration for me growing up again in this tiny town in North Carolina, that didn't have a lot going on for me as far as the kind of things I was interested in. And now again, I might be like one of my biography subjects, but I think I saw her on the Dick Cavett show and just her whole look and attitude and sensibility and not to mention her incredible voice. I'm like, what's that? I want to be that. She was probably actually a little did I know at the time wearing this outfit that Nudie made for her. Of course. I was one of those people that was devastated when she died in 1970 and in 1971 I had joined the Columbia Record Blub and got Pearl.
I still have my original copy. So just a fan and then once I was working at Rolling Stone and started doing projects with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Hall of Fame did a really cool symposium on Janis back in the nineties, I think it was ‘97. And Bob Santoli, the head of education, VP of education and programming at the time invited me to be part of it and I'm, I got to go to Cleveland and give a talk about Janice's influence on contemporary women musicians, but the best part was I got to meet Janice's brother and sister Michael and Laura. I got to meet Sam Andrew, her a guitar player, Chet Holmes, who was the manager for Big brother and the Holding Company and started the Avalon Ballroom dances there back in the ‘60s some other people to her, John Cook, her road manager. So I got to meet all these people.
Then lo and behold, they did an American masters, American Music masters panel on Janice or weekend symposium on Janice again in 2009 I believe it was. And once again this time, um, and powers and I were asked to give talks about, Janis kind of a keynote thing with Lucy O'Brien, a grade a woman, rock journalists who's based in London. So the three of us kind of gave a joint keynote and again got to meet all these amazing people. So I just kind of got to learn more and more and more about Janice and about her music. The thing that really got me was I was asked to write liner notes for this two CD set called the Pearl sessions that Sony was doing in the early teens. And for the first time they had gone into the vaults and pulled out all this talk back between Janice and Paul Rothchild, her producer, who was known for being a very authoritarian producer.
Like he worked with Joni Mitchell and one of her first or I think or second album. And she's like, no, I can't work with him. He's too bossy. He tells me what to, you know, so she wouldn't work with him. He famously produced most of the Door's albums and he would make Jim Morrison like redo his vocal like 10 times or whatever. But he listening to them in the studio together, I'm like, Oh my gosh, this woman is calling the shots. Janis Joplin is telling Paul Rothchild like, Oh wait, let's slow it down here. Wait, let's try a different arrangement on this. Let's have this guitar part here. I mean, she was basically producing the record with him. She's never gotten credit really for being this very thoughtful orchestrator of music and hardworking musician. She created a very different image of herself in order to sell herself as a persona, this rock persona.
And she was very successful at that and I think I, and almost everybody else bought it, but I realized from listening to these recordings that there was a whole other side to her, this musician side, that she wasn't just blessed born with this incredible voice that she just came out of the box singing. She worked, she really worked. And that very much intrigued me and that made me more interested in wanting to spend four and a half, five years working on Janice's life story and trying to make a write a book about her that shows her trajectory as a musician because you know, there had been some other books, some very well researched. I'm Alice Echols wrote a great book about Janis with a lot of research, but I felt still that somehow or musicianship and had not ever been acknowledged the extent that it should have been.
So that was kind of my goal for this book to really find out who her musical influences were. What did she do to improve her craft, or how did she discover her voice? What were the obstacles she had to overcome, all those kinds of things. So that really fired me up. And again, my wonderful agent, Sara Liaison, who had actually been the agent for Laura Joplin's book that she wrote called “Love Janice,” which told her story of growing up with Janice as her sister and used a lot of letters that Janice had written home. She reproduced a lot of the letters in the book and my agent told Laura about me and I had met her back in the nineties and so I was able to come to an agreement that, again, similar to the Autry book, they would allow me to go into Janice's personal files or scrapbooks or letters, and I could use all that in my book, but without any controls over what I wrote, they would not have any editorial approvals or anything like that. So again, that's, that's how that came about.
Passionistas: And your other current passion, you've touched on it a couple times, but tell us a little bit more about “Rhinestone Cowboy,” the story of Nudie.
Holly: I think there's kind of a pattern here. You can see that none of these, I'm no one overnights and station or whatever. All of my projects really, they come from years of passionately pursuing something just really for the love of it, more than with any sort of goal in mind. And that's kind of the same story with Nudie. As I mentioned, I was a collector of Western where I worked on the, “How the West Was Worn” book and that's when I really learned about Nudie, who was this very showman, like couturier the Dior of the sagebrush or whatever they used to call him, who catered to early on cellular Lloyd Cowboys, people like gene Autry.
And Roy Rogers was a huge client and then all the stars like Hank Williams making their incredible embroidered outfits. Then he started putting rhinestones on the outfits. I'm for a country in Western singers. And then in the late sixties people like Graham Parsons, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Janice, the Grateful Dead, the Rolling Stones, Elton John all started going there, getting these really outrageous over the top and bordered and rhinestone suits. So I learned about him gradually and then it turns out through doing “How the West Was Worn,” I met Patrine Day Mitchum, who herself had actually hung out at Nudie’s back in the ‘70s, knew him and he had tapped her to write his memoir with him. So she has hours and hours and hours of taped, uh, recordings with him telling his fascinating story about being an immigrant as a young boy from the Ukraine to New York, all these ups and downs. He went through very colorful stories that finally landed him in Los Angeles in the late forties and started his shop and started making outfits for all these Western swing performers.
Tex Williams was his first. So we teamed up and started talking literally back in 2002 about, Oh, we should do a project together about Nudie. Should we do a book, because should we do a film? And so literally, all these years later now, we've actually started working on our documentary. In the meantime, I had worked on several documentaries over the years as a consulting producer and producer on lots of music documentaries that have been on PBS, etc. So I had that experience. And then Trina has worked in the film industry over the years as well. So we were able to kind of combine our passion for Nudie and his incredible clothing and some of the other outfits were made by some other great, also immigrants from Eastern Europe. This guy named Turk who was out on the end. VanNess was the first one. His shop opened in 1923 and then back in Philadelphia on the East coast rodeo.
Ben had a shop beginning in 1930 all three of them in Nudie where they came from. Eastern Europe was young boys, young men, and then also the whole story of the immigrants from Mexico. Manuel who still at age 86 is designing these incredible outfits in Nashville. He worked with Nudie and Heimaey Castenada who is still right there in North Hollywood, making incredible outfits for Chris Isaac and Billy Gibbons and Dwight Yoakam. So it's a bigger story. Even then I realized as far as it's a story of immigrants coming to this country and creating the iconic American look, the rhinestone cowboy outfit. Right. So go figure.
Passionistas: Looking back on your journey so far, is there one decision you've made that you consider the most courageous? That sort of changed your trajectory?
Holly: Oh, I guess it was just picking up and moving to New York city with, I had a little audio cassette player. You remember those? It was even pre Walkman. I had that. If you could set mix tapes or suitcase and that was it. 500 bucks, maybe 700 I don't know. Just kind of moved to New York and I mean, I think, I guess that was the smartest thing I ever did because basically in New York I made lifelong friends. I met my husband, he was playing in a band, the flesh tones. Um, we were on a double bill. My band does for line. So that's how we met in the 80s all these passions, some of which I had as a young girl growing up in North Carolina, I was literally able to materialize into projects, into a lifestyle and into a livelihood. I mean, gosh, I mean, how lucky am I that that happened? Things that could have just been a hobby actually became a way of life and an occasional paycheck here and there.
So I feel very, very lucky. And I think moving to New York city, almost at a whim, I went to school at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. So I had two sides of my personality, the former hippie Janice wannabe, and the punk rocker. So when I was going to leave Chapel Hill, I'm like, well, I'm either gonna move to New York City or Key West. So I think it's a good thing. I moved to New York city.
Passionistas: What's your secret to a rewarding life?
Holly: Again, and I teach, I tell my students this, whatever you do, if you can pursue it with passion. You guys nailed it with the name of your podcast. Because if you can approach even, you know, path things with passion, you know, with anger or … of one with passion, I think, you know, whatever it is, if you can just engage and be passionate about things that's going to enrich your life. I mean it can maybe take its toll on you too. But I think how that kind of feeling and motivation that you're driven by the passion of whatever it is that you're thinking about or wanting to learn about or whatever, you're going to do a much better job with whatever it is you're pursuing.
Passionistas: What's your definition of success?
Holly: I guess success is not only attaining a goal that you had for yourself, but within that goal also having happiness and a good state of mind about it. Because I think horribly, you know, in our culture, a lot of people that find certain success, you know, material success or even career success, there's other aspects of their life that is not working out too well. So that's not really success is that I think you have to put all the parts of the puzzle together so that they're all kind of working out together to really be successful. It's tricky. It's difficult because life has a way of throwing lots of curve balls at ya.
Passionistas: So what advice would you give to a young woman who wants to be a journalist or an author?
Holly: First off, subscribe to your podcast. And seriously, I think surrounding yourself or finding out about or listening to other people who are passionate about things that you're interested in doing or even if it's something different, but people that their passion is driven them to be successful or to work towards attaining success, that that can be very inspirational and motivational for them. And then also not just do things through rote or whatever. You have to really find something that energizes you and does and passion you to want to pursue it, and I think that's really important and not do something just because you're supposed to or someone tells you you should do this, but you have to really find things that are going to bring you fulfillment.
Passionistas: Thanks for listening to the Passionistas Project Podcast and our interview with Holly George-Warren to find out more about her latest book, “Janice: Her Life and Music,” visit HollyGeorgeWarren.com.
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