Longtime Springsteen drummer Weinberg a Frank Lloyd Wright fan
An architect in rhythm: Bruce Springsteen drummer Max Weinberg will discuss his lifelong interest in Frank Lloyd Wrigbt at Unity Temple in Oak Park. | NBC Photo: Paul Drinkwater
Max Weinberg to speak on Frank Lloyd Wright
8 p.m. on Sept. 6
Unity Temple, 875 Lake St., Oak Park
(708) 383-8873; www.utrf.org
Updated: September 7, 2012 12:08PM
Max Weinberg, longtime drummer in Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, will be playing Wrigley Field Sept. 7 and 8 with the Boss and company.
You can catch him earlier, though, in an unlikely warm-up engagement — speaking about his lifelong admiration for Frank Lloyd Wright (and sharing memories of playing with Springsteen) at Unity Temple in Oak Park.
If that doesn’t sound like stereotypical rock drummer behavior, well, take it from his agent, Glencoe native Mark Stein: “Max is not your stereotypical rock drummer; he’s a complex man who’s passionate about everything that interests him.”
Such as architecture. Weinberg was blown away by his first exposure to Wright’s work when he visited the under-construction Guggenheim Museum at the age of 7 — the same year he began drumming professionally with a Bar Mitzvah band in New Jersey.
Pioneer Press caught up with Weinberg while touring for a few quick remarks about Springsteen, Wright — and common ground between the father of modern architecture and Little Richard.
Question: So, how is the tour going?
Max Weinberg: This is our 40th year touring and it’s going fantastically well! Naturally, the loss of Clarence and Danny (Clemons and Federici) still cuts deeply but it feels as if Bruce has re-imagined, re-invented and re-dedicated our band.
Q: How did you become interested in architecture?
MW: In 1958, when I was 7 years old, I had the good fortune to have my older cousin, who worked in the New York building industry, take me on a day trip to this wonderful building under construction on upper 5th Avenue in New York. I recall running up and down the newly formed concrete spiral ramps! It was, of course, the Guggenheim Museum in progress and it certainly didn’t resemble any other building I’d ever seen. Afterwards, my cousin bought a children’s book about Frank Lloyd Wright for me. It was the beginning of my life-long fascination with Mr. Wright.
Q: Are you interested in architecture in general, or specifically in Frank Lloyd Wright?
MW: I’m interested in all architecture and I have found many parallels in drumming and the disciplines found in architecture. Where the Beatles are my favorite rock group; (Wright) is my favorite architect. Like Sir Winston Churchill, I am easily satisfied by the best.
Q: What do you admire most about Wright’s work?
MW: Wright was a pioneer—so was Little Richard! Through the amalgamation of his learning he really did create a truly vernacular American architecture in the Midwest. His built projects and, in some cases, his remarkable un-built projects never fail to amaze me. I’ve always thought an adaptation of his Mile High Tower would have been a fitting memorial in lower Manhattan.
Q: What are you likely to talk about at Unity Temple?
MW: Some of my remarks will, hopefully, draw parallels between the service we provide our fans as a band, the singular vision which Bruce has devoted to his writing over the decades and that which Frank Lloyd Wright has given the world. I suppose I’m more than a casual acolyte of both artists. During my presentation, I will focus on my rock and roll career, a bit of the ill-fated TV journey I traveled (including years as a bandleader on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” ed), and what I learned from those things that I did right and those things I did wrong. I will show rare film footage and, later, meet and greet whoever shows up!
Q: Have you taken the tours of Wright buildings in Oak Park, including Unity Temple?
MW: I have and, of course, the entire street is like wandering through Liverpool or Asbury Park, for me in the sense that they exist as original repositories of thought and action. Unity Temple is a marvel. Actually, I can’t quite believe that I’ll have the wonderful opportunity of speaking from the lectern. The individuals who work so hard to preserve Wright’s vision deserve a huge round of applause.
Q: What do you think of the way your drumming has been described as “architectural”?
MW: We drummers, as architects in music, sculpt our efforts using rhythm, tempo, and the like. Wright, himself, constantly referred to the similarities of music and the architectural arts. As many know, he was a pretty good pianist.