Calvin Johnson, with Beat Happening, in Chicago in 1988.
When you're reading this week's paper -- online, in print, or on your Kindle -- be sure to turn to Charles Cross' interview conversation with Mark Baumgarten, the author of the new book on K Records, Love Roc Revolution. I was psyched to get Cross -- a longtime local music writer/editor and nationally-recognized biographer -- pick the brain of Baumgarten -- another longtime music editor and writer -- on the occasion of his first biography. Things turned out well.
Cross: Calvin never tried to put out an album by Nirvana, when Kurt would have liked that, and that's a truly extraordinary commercial misstep. But you also have to admire Calvin's iconoclasm. In a way, Nirvana influenced K more than K influenced Nirvana.
Baumgarten: Of course, Nirvana influenced K. And Calvin's proximity to someone who became so hugely famous influenced Calvin. Calvin came from a childhood where he understood the mainstream. That's the great untold story of Calvin Johnson. He did not just pop out of a pink guitar case.