Backstage Secrets Hidden And Not Meant For The Audience

February 10, 2024

Neil Young And Rick James Were In The Mynah Birds And Signed To Motown

Our favorite musicians give us great performances in the studio and on stage, but backstage glimpses and behind-the-scenes facts tell us even more. They are human beings who sometimes keep it real and other times behave like divas. Some of their behavior is relatable and other things they do will blow your mind. In the end, it's a loop that tells you more about the music you already love -- take a look at these scenes of performers living everyday lives and enjoy these tales of what happened backstage and stories behind the moments that made them pop stars and rock gods.

That's Rick James, singing, in the Mynah Birds. Is that Neil Young on guitar? Source: YouTube

It's a fact that Neil Young and Rick James were in a band called The Mynah Birds, and it's also a fact that they were signed to Motown Records. The question is -- how did this happen? Rick James was born and raised in Buffalo, NY, and joined the U.S. Navy to avoid being drafted into the Army. This plan ran aground when James missed his reserve sessions aboard the USS Enterprise, and was ordered to go to Vietnam. James fled for Toronto.

James befriended local Toronto musicians, including Levon Helm (of The Hawks) and Neil Young. James formed The Mynah Birds, who played a mixture of soul, rock and folk music, and they even released a single on Columbia records. They headed to Detroit to record for Motown, and Young joined the group there. When Motown found out that James was a fugitive, they put the kibosh on working with him. While James was away doing five months hard labor to atone for his draft-dodging, Neil Young bought a hearse and drove west, where he formed Buffalo Springfield with four others. After his release, James formed a new Mynah Birds in Toronto and again took them to Motown to record, but very little of the music they made has ever seen the light of day.

If You Want to Meet Robert De Niro, Write A Song About Him

Bananarama. Source: Reddit

The girl group Bananarama had a string of hits in the '80s (moreso in their native UK than the States), and one of them was the curiously titled "Robert De Niro's Waiting." They have explained that the song is about fantasizing about an unattainable celebrity as a mechanism to avoid a real-world relationship. There's also a subtext of date rape that the band sometimes touted, but at other times denied.

Keren Woodward, Siobhan Fahey and Sara Dallin really were big De Niro fans, and the song did earn them a meeting with the star himself. "When the song came out, he was in the UK filming Brazil, and he invited us for a drink at Kettners in Soho," they recalled for The Guardian. "We were all sitting there when this guy knocked on the window. It was a freezing winter’s night and he had a bobble hat and glasses on, and we just thought: 'Who is that person trying to catch our attention?' We’d no idea it was him. He had his producer with him, who did most of the talking. I think De Niro was quite shy. But of course the whole place was filled with our friends and boyfriends – all sitting at different tables trying to sneak a look at him."