Greg Prato of Songfacts interviewed “Stuttering John” Melendez, formerly of The Howard Stern Show, and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, about his 2018 memoir, Easy for You to Say, and other topics. Highlights from the interview appear below.

Songfacts: Let’s discuss the Talk My Way Out of It music video, from your 1994 album, Stuttering John. It had some great special guests in it.

Melendez: That was a trip – to get Sting and Gene Simmons in my video was awesome. The only person who was missing was Howard, who in his infinite wackiness – for lack of a better word – decided he couldn’t make an appearance, because as he told me, he might have his own thing going on with MTV…

Songfacts: If you’d like to talk a bit more about the Talk My Way Out of Itvideo – I’d imagine you must have some great memories of filming it.

Melendez: It was so much fun. Barry Williams did it as “Greg Brady/Johnny Bravo,” and Gene Simmons, Sting, Gilbert Gottfried, Nuno Bettencourt of Extreme, Grandpa Al Lewis, Gary [Dell’Abate, aka “Baba Booey”], Jackie, and a lot of the wack packers like Kenneth Keith Kallenbach and Melrose Larry Green. Even the chairman of Atlantic, Craig Kallman. 

I remember Gene and I went out that night to Scores – the strip club – and hung out. I picked up one of the girls in the video, the one who in the video I say, “You’re in,” and she says, “I’m in the band?”, and I say, “No, in the bus.” I ended up hanging out with her and we ended up back at Gene’s hotel room. I remember my girlfriend at the time was on the phone, and she was going, “Where’s John?” She was calling Gene Simmons’ hotel room, and Gene had to lie to her, and say, “I don’t know! Uh… he was just here.” 

Songfacts: In support of the Stuttering John album, you also opened shows for the likes of Ozzy, Mötley Crüe, Ted Nugent, and Collective Soul.

Melendez: I tell two funny stories about Ozzy. Opening for him was awesome. And we were backstage with Ozzy, all smoking weed, and I’m videotaping everything. And then like, a week after the gig, I bring my friends over to watch the video. We turn it on, and it’s my kid on a swing – my wife taped over the whole f–king video.

The other thing is, after my band was done and Ozzy was on stage, I went onto the rafters to watch him from above. There was a black curtain, so I decided to pull away the curtain. I did, and it’s this guy with a microphone, singing all of Ozzy’s lyrics. He’s like, “Close that curtain.” It was like The Wizard of Oz.

It’s sad, but look, Ozzy’s up there in years, so he needed someone to sing, because he probably can’t do it anymore. But Ozzy was a great guy. [This isn’t the first time that someone has alleged that Ozzy utilizes another singer in concert- – Robert Mason once spilled the beans to Eddie Trunk.] .

Collective Soul couldn’t have been a nicer band. We opened for them in I think Tallahassee or Jacksonville, Florida. I’ll never forget it, because we were midway through our set, and we blew the transformer. It was an outdoor concert. They took an hour-and-a-half break to fix this transformer, and Collective Soul let us go back on stage and finish our set! They were really cool. 

But those were the days, man. I miss the life of a rock star. I mean, I was getting girls… two at a time, two in one night. I’m thinking to myself, “Man, if I’m getting this and I’ve only sold 50,000 albums, what the hell is Pearl Jam getting?” 

Songfacts: What are some memories of working with Howard’s band, The Losers? 

Melendez: I wrote a song with Howard that I called Skunk. The name was Skunk, but the lyrics were, “You get me high, get me high.” It was a really good song – Howard came up with the keyboard part, and I wrote the melody and lyrics. Later on, Howard – in his usual fashion – said that Fred [Norris] had something to do with it. But Fred had nothing to do with it.

But it was fun. It was a fun time. It was kind of cool that I was in the band – it was me, Howard, Fred, and Scott [Salem, aka “Scott the Engineer”] on drums. I was part of a band, so it was definitely a good time…

Songfacts: When was the last time you had correspondence with Howard?

Melendez: Just what I talk about in the book – when I was at his house in the Hamptons. I think that was the last time.

Songfacts: Are you in regular contact with any others from The Stern Show

Melendez: Well, I’ve got my list of moles over there – that’s how I got a lot of the information about a lot of things in the book. I still talk to a few of them. I talk to Robin every now and then. Gary every now and then. I’ve kind of stopped talking to Gary, because I heard from someone that Gary can’t stop trashing me every time he’s in the studio with Howard. It kind of turned me off to Gary. But I don’t hate Gary – I think he has a tendency to lie, and he has to cover his ass. But that’s Gary. 

Songfacts: Would you ever go back on Howard’s show if you were invited? 

Melendez: I would go back, but he would never have me. There’s no way he would allow me on the show. Especially not to plug this book, because it doesn’t always portray him in the light that he probably sees himself as. But it’s very honest from my experience in what I had to deal with there.

Songfacts: What were some of your favorite celebrity interviews for Howard?

Melendez: The Gennifer Flowers one was the biggest one – that’s when she came out and said that she had an affair with Bill Clinton. It was like, a whole press conference with the National Enquirer. I screamed out, “Will you be sleeping with any other presidential candidates?” “Was there ever a threesome?” “Did President Clinton wear a condom?” And the place went nuts, laughing. I would have to say that was probably the most famous. 

And then I could go with the funny ones, where I got strangled by Lou Reed by asking him if he still masturbated. And judging by his grip, he does.

I got punched by Raquel Welch by asking her, “Are they drooping yet?” She hit me with a left.

I asked OJ [Simpson] if he would sign my knife – and coincidentally, he brought his own.

The best response I ever got was by Joan Rivers. I asked her if ugly people should be allowed to have children, and she said, “No! I told your mother that!” 

Read more at Songfacts.

source: songfacts.com

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  • Taskerofpuppets on

    Stuttering John is someone I’ve not thought about or heard anything for a long while now. Shame he’s not coming on Howard. Those were some fun years when John was on the show along with Jackie, Bill and and Artie. I guess John pissed Howard off too much to help promote the book. One of my favorite moments with John were his fight withe Cabbie & interviewing Billy Crystal…”it’s not fun or funny.”

    • genesraccoonwig on

      Hero of the Stupid!!!!
      John gave the best interviews – especially when caught in a stutter.
      Hopefully his book does well.

    • Taskerofpuppets on

      Absolutely! Hero of the Stupid! It was great how celebs reacted to him when he asked his questions, like Walter Kronkite…frickin’! Lol

  • John Rives on

    This makes Stuttering John eligible for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2019…

    • genesraccoonwig on

      Well done – this made me crack up

  • RTunes68 on

    I like how this no-talent trashes Howard every chance he gets. He’s delusional if he thinks that Ozzy and Collective Soul asked him to open for them because they thought he was such a scary mega-talent. He would never have been a “rock star” – however brief that was – had it not been for his affiliation with the Howard Stern Show. Also, for being such a mega-talent, why has he never produced another album? Is that Howard’s fault too? What’s he done since Jay Leno retired? A book….trashing Howard! Stuttering Moron.

    • genesraccoonwig on

      Not sure exactly what happened regarding his departure from Stern (guess I will need to read the book). That said, I thought John was great in the interviewer role – so many classically funny bits – but agree John thought he was bigger/more important that he actually was on the Stern show.

      Slightly off topic:
      It was around this time I stopped listening to Stern – when we was still on WXRK in NY and headed to Satellite Radio. I could not take all that whining.

      Plus once Stern moved over, he changed from being the underdog/renegade to dumping his wife and hanging out with Hollywood and being someone old Howard would rag on.
      I can appreciate Stern’s success – good for him – the man has worked hard but I prefer old Howie.

    • Dana on

      Hi Genesraccoonwig,

      I believe, and don’t quote me, Howard was annoyed that John left the show to go work for Jay Leno and The Tonight Show.

      He felt that Leno went behind his back, and lured Melendez away. He might have also been annoyed that John was less than transparent, with his negotiating, as well. I believe that Howard felt he should have been more forthcoming about his talks with Leno about the possibility of an employment opportunity.

      Again, this was so long ago, my memories could be a bit cloudy.

      D 🙂

    • genesraccoonwig on

      Hi Dana – thanks for responding.
      I do remember the whole Stern-Leno escapade and agree John and Leno did not handle it well.
      But was not sure if there was more to it than what Stern was saying.
      In the short run, John (hopefully) made a ton more $$$ than working with Stern.
      However in the long run is he better off? Only John can answer that.

    • Taskerofpuppets on

      That’s what I recall as well Dana. John was also on a reality show called, I’m a celebrity get me out of here, around the same time. I guess that’s around the time John got an offer from Leno cause he’d appeared on Leno to promote the reality event. Anyway, I guess that was something else that added fuel to the fire and angered Howard.

      If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about Howard. If he doesn’t need you for his show, he won’t mention you again. there are so many mainstays that have subtly left the show and we never know why they left. By the time I noticed Lisa G was gone it was too late. Onward and upward I guess.

  • elliot goldberg on

    john’s stern show celebrity interviews were funny. anyone who has johnny bravo and gene simmons in the same video has my respect.

  • shannon mehaffey on

    Howard is a sleazeoid if you ask me…he throws people under the bus for no good reason…why would he ask Scott Weiland about getting raped as a young boy the way he did? “Did you scream?” he wants the gory details like he’s some sick puppy. Weiland was visibly upset and didn’t want to talk about it..but Howard Stern gets a pass from people because he’s so powerful..he can make or break you…even if you’re Scott Weiland, who ended up killing himself….indirectly, directly…he killed himself.
    Howard hyped up ICP and had those guys on and then ambushed them with two of his lackeys; naked with ICP makeup on their genitals. I can see Dana laughing …lol….ok, but what if you’re in ICP? or their fan? And those two guys sat there and took it…I would’ve told Howard to F himself and walked….
    F howard, he’s a punk, he is.

    In other news, Mastadon and Stuttering John are touring this summer.

    • Dana on

      I did not listen to his show very often, but did watch his E! show quite frequently. I never heard the Weiland interview, but that sounds kind of cruel. I was a huge Weiland fan, and had no idea he was sexually abused, that is awful, but it certainly could explain some of his destructive behavior. Very sad and definitely not something to be trivialized. 🙁

    • shannon mehaffey on

      Howard is the Tin Man…he is…nobody with a heart would’ve pressed Weiland like that and asked him that…it’s in Weiland’s book…so what? He left out the part only Howard, and some other sick f, would want to know about.

    • Taskerofpuppets on

      Yep, at times he can be a real prick and insensitive. Just ask Hansie.

      So, did you stop listening or are you still listening?

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