Danny Says: A Documentary on the Life and Times of Danny Fields (2016): Movies

Best known as the man who discovered the Ramones, Danny Fields guided them from 1975 until 1980. He was so impressed by the band that he borrowed money from his mom to secure the position as manager. The boys got a new drumkit, and under Fields’ tutelage the Ramones got a recording contract, toured England, influenced many U.K. bands, and subsequently kickstarted a worldwide interest in punk rock.

But Danny Fields was more than the Ramones’ manager. In the 1960s and early 1970s, he was also a publicist, writer, photographer, editor and a friend to Nico, Edie Sedgewick, Linda McCartney, Lou Reed, et al. Fields reminisces about his long and colorful life around the music industry in Brendan Toller’s new documentary Danny Says.

The title refers to a song on the Ramones’ 1980 album The End of the Century. This is an apt moniker, as most of Danny Says consists of the always-quotable Fields discussing his whirlwind life among the greats and near-greats of the late 20th century pop culture.

A gifted student who graduated early from high school, Fields (born Danny Feinberg) graduated from University of Pennsylvania, attended Harvard Law School and NYU until finally finding his calling in the Greenwich Village music scene. He hung out with Sedgwick, Andy Warhol and the Velvet Underground at the Factory. During his tenure as the Doors’ publicist, Danny Fields introduced Jim Morrison to Nico.

As editor of teen magazine Datebook, Fields published the U.S. interview containing the infamous John Lennon quote that the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus.” (It was originally published in the U.K. without incident.) He introduced Alice Cooper, David Bowie and other glam stars of the early 1970s to teenie-boppers in the iconic teen mag 16, after he took over the editorial reigns from his mentor, Gloria Stavers.

Fields got Iggy and the Stooges and fellow Detroit troublemakers MC5 signed to Electra in 1968, at a time when execs in the mainstream music industry were flummoxed by such outrageousness. Danny Fields had a knack for finding people who’d tread musically and culturally where others hadn’t even dreamed about, and realized the greatness bubbling right under the surface.

Danny Says includes interviews with Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop, MC5’s Wayne Kramer, Leee Black Childers, publicist Susan Blonde, Lenny Kaye, Tommy Ramone, Judy Collins, Jann Wenner, James Williamson, and Warhol actor Paul Morrissey. The bulk of the film, though, finds Fields revealing tidbits about his associations with well, everyone, who was anyone in the 1960s and 1970s music world.

There are plenty of photos and video of the Ramones, the Velvet Underground and other music icons featured throughout the film, along with dash of quirky animation. The archival footage includes a cassette tape recording of an astonished Lou Reed, listening to the Ramones for the first time. (Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library recently acquired many of Danny Fields’ manuscripts, photographs and audio tapes.)

Danny Says is a quick-paced time capsule from a man who is responsible for plucking the Ramones and other music icons from obscurity and into public view, or as Iggy puts it, “Danny is a connector — like a fuel injector in a car.”

‘Danny Says’ opens in theaters this weekend, and will be available via VOD on September 30.

Jade Blackmore

Jade Blackmore

Jade Blackmore has written about classic rock, hard rock/metal and indie films for EarCandy Mag, Rock Confidential, Cinema Sentries, Perfect Sound Forever and Entertainment Today, among others. Her past day jobs in the entertainment industry included stints with Mix Magazine, Bourne Music and Boxoffice Magazine. She lives in Los Angeles. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Jade Blackmore