Bringing you news and information on Was (Not Was) since 1999, this is the One And Only, Semi-Official, Was (Not Was) World Wide Web Site!!!

Sweet Pea Atkinson’s New Album set for 9/22/17 Release! - September 1st, 2017

A wonderful bit of news shot at me by Google Alerts indicates that Sweet Pea’s long, long, long awaited new album is due for release on Blue Note Records September 22!

Read about it and pre order on the Blue Note site:


Sweetpea Atkinson to Release Solo Album in March 2015 - February 23rd, 2015

Looks like we have something to look forward to next month!

It seems that The Boneshakers, with Randy Jacobs and Sweetpea Atkinson are teaming up for a mini tour with Powerhouse saxophonist Mindi Abair in the coming months.  Check Randy’s site for tour dates here:

As great as that is, the more exciting bit is in the press releases for the events which indicate Sweetpea will have a new solo album out in March.  Here’s a typical release, and one I hope to be able to go to in April:

Other’s have indicated that the album will be release on Blue Note Records which makes a lot of sense 🙂  So far nothing more official on that.

Spend ‘An Evening with Don Was’ notes - April 2nd, 2012

From fellow fan Robert Silverstein:

For context, here’s a link to the concert:  Spend ‘An Evening with Don Was’

The show took place in a mostly full theater. Gary Graff gave an enthusiastic introduction to Don Was (noting that to fully describe DW’s accomplishments would take up most of the evening.) DW came out with an acoustic guitar and sang “Somewhere in America There’s a Street Named after My Dad” solo, a beautiful haunted version with occasional strumming of the guitar (as he noted to Gary Graff, “I’m not a folk singer”). He then sat down in a chair at the side of a stage, next to Gary Graff, and they had a conversation about his early interest in music. Then he brought out the other 2 members of the Saturns, his high school group, and the 3 of them played “If I had a Hammer” all on acoustic guitar. It turns out that a good portion of the audience were fellow graduates of DW from Oak Park High School class of 1970 (including Steve Brown, who put his hands on Zaz’s neck that day in the park!). After more conversation he brought out Was (not was):

first set:

second set:

third set:

between the sets there was more conversation with Gary Graff which I won’t try to reproduce. A few highlights:
DW’s new post as president of Blue Note Records
Bonnie Raitt’s management would have dumped DW (“for a real producer”) from the Nick of Time project if she had signed a record deal before he finished the project.
it was Milli Vanilli that had their tape break in the middle of song during the Club MTV tour.

When Gary Graff asked him about future plans, Don mentioned that he is writing songs with David, and eventually would like to do another WNW album. If Ididn’t mention this, he was very complimentary of David Was’ lyric writing, when Graff asked him if it was difficult assembling musicians to make the first WNW album, he said that the quality of David’s lyrics made it easy to attract quality musicians to the project.

He also mentioned that they knew the 6 record stores in Detroit that reported to the dance charts, and a calculated effort was made to buy up the first record (the first 12 inch, I think) at those stores to get the record on the charts. They were then pleasantly surprised that it became a club hit in England.

It was a great evening of music and conversation, I’m happy to have been there.
BTW, Terry “Thunder” Hughley is the drummer for the Detroit jazz/rock/funk institution The Sun Messengers, and plays with DW at the Concert of Colors revue he organizes every year in Detroit.

Excellent radio interview with Don on WDET - March 14th, 2012

From last year:
Don Was Interviewed for Ann Delisi’s Essential Music

Music legends from the Stones to Bob Dylan call on producer Don Was for expert guidance - July 15th, 2011

There are kids who want to grow up and become rock stars.

And then there are the Don Fagensons — the ones whose visions of musical glory lie amid the microphones and mixing boards of a recording studio.

Read more at Detroit Free Press

David Weiss Writes - July 15th, 2011

Brother David is writing a blog – You can read it at Play Goes Strong

Live At Red Rock Rocks Lounge Las Vegas NV - September 4th, 2010

The band will be apperaing at the Red Rock Rocks Lounge Las Vegas NV Sat, Oct 16, 2010 10:00 PM. Tickets can be purchased here

The charmed musical life of Don Was - May 28th, 2010

A Rolling Stones fan’s idea of heaven would be something like living in the skin of Don Was. The bassist and record producer was, for years, a huge Stones fan, having seen them live countless times, including as a kid during the group’s first wave of British Invasion popularity in the 1960s.

Then, in the early 1990s, Was — who appears with his band Was Not Was at the Santa Cruz Blues Festival on Sunday — became the Stones’ record producer, and has helped them shape their studio sound ever since, producing every studio album since 1994’s “Voodoo Lounge.”

“I got the best seat in the house,” he said.

More @ Santa Cruz Sentinel

Luis Resto - May 12th, 2010

Luis Resto has a new album on Orchide Records titled “Combo De Momento”. It’s a vinyl only release and there’s a video for one of the songs on YouTube

Here’s some other Luis links:
Luis’ Facebook Page
Luis’ MySpace Page
Follow Luis on Twitter
Luis on SoundCloud

Thanks go to Freddie Brooks for the information.

Was (Not Was) releases career collection ‘Pick of the Litter’ - February 24th, 2010

A review of Pick of the Litter 1980-2010, an interview, and some history from the Detroit News

David Was Interview - February 9th, 2010

A long interview with David appears in issue five of “Wheel Me Out”

Pick of the Litter 1980-2010 Now available at Amazon - December 3rd, 2009

Pick of the Litter 1980-2010

Pick of the Litter 1980-2010 is now available on pre-order from Amazon.

Track List:
1. “Wheel Me Out” (1980)
2. “Out Come the Freaks” (7” Version) (1981)
3. “Tell Me What I’m Dreaming” (1981)
4. “The Sky’s Ablaze” (1981)
5. “Should I Wait – Sweet Pea Atkinson (1982)
6. “Knocked Down, Made Small (Treated Like a Rubber Ball (1983)
7. “Walk the Dinosaur” (1988)
8. “Spy in the House of Love” (7” version) (1988)
9. “Dad I’m in Jail” (1988)
10. “Somewhere in America There’s a Street Named After My Dad” (1988)
11. “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” (Promo Edit Single) (1990)
12. “I Feel Better Than James Brown” (1990)
13. “I Blew Up the United States” (1990)
14. “Semi-Interesting Week” (2008)
15. “From the Head to the Heart” (2008)
16. “Hello Operator . . . I Mean Dad . . .I Can’t Even Remember Who I Am” (Rehearsal Version) (1989)
17. “Shake Your Head” (Steve “Silk” Hurley Remix) featuring Kim Basinger and Ozzy Osbourne (1992)
18. “Elvis’ Rolls Royce” featuring Leonard Cohen (1990)
19. “Zaz Turned Blue” featuring Mel Tormé (1983)

OrderBuy Now!


Was (Not Was), dubbed “the funkier art-funk band” by The New York Times, have spanned three decades with their mutant mix of jazz, rock, R&B and funk. On February 23, 2010, Micro Werks will release Pick of the Litter (1980-2010).

More at PR Inside

Was (Not Was) at The Newport Jazz Festival - May 15th, 2009

Reports indicate that Was (Not Was) will be at the Newport Jazz Festival May 16/17 2009.

More at Daily Pilot

New Gigs - May 7th, 2009

Was (Not Was) descend on Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way in Santa Cruz, for shows at 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $20 in advance at moes alley.

The Don Was Detroit Super Session - July 16th, 2008

Don Was no longer requires an introduction in these pages. One of Detroit’s most successful musical expatriates of the last two decades, the producer and Was (Not Was) co-leader returns this week to front an All-Star Detroit tribute at the Concert of Colors.

METRO TIMES: So tell us about the origins of the Don Was Detroit Super Session Show. We heard today that it looks like David [Was] isn’t going to make the show now.

DON WAS: Well, we’ll know when the plane leaves L.A. (laughs) He may; he may not – I don’t know for sure. But the whole thing really came about in a haphazard way. The Arab American Museum saw the Wasmopolitan site I’d done online, where we recorded and videotaped 11 Detroit artists. And they said “How about a live version of that?” I thought that’s a pretty cool idea, to do it as a revue, where everyone gets onstage and does one song. So, it’s basically an outgrowth of Wasmopolitan. But we’ve added the Detroit Cobras and the Dirt Bombs. Mitch Ryder, John Sinclair and Wayne Kramer. Lola Morales. But it’s most of the same people from the website —Black Bottom Collective, Black Merda, Sisters Lucas, the Go, the Ramrods, the Muldoons. Luis Resto. Hopefully David. (laughs).

Detroit Metro Times

Video – Walk The Dinosaur and Interview - July 2nd, 2008

Wonderful Was (Not Was) video (looking youthful from the 80’s) on YouTube. The lip-sync of ‘Walk The Dinosaur’ is as painful as anything from this era, but just wait for the interview at the end of the video – hilarious and brilliant. — Thanks to Mark.

Audio – Portland and Seattle, 17 May 2008 - June 2nd, 2008

Was (Not Was) recorded in Portland and Seattle, 17 May 2008, available as MP3, WAV and (soon) FLAC files.

Thanks to Ted.

Was (Not Was) returns to its roots - June 1st, 2008

Don Was positively flourished in the years following his band’s demise.
Was (Not Was), the open-ended musical collective with Detroit roots, had called it quits in 1992, launching Was into a career as one of music’s most in-demand studio producers. The roll call of names became towering: The Rolling Stones. Bob Dylan. Bonnie Raitt. Willie Nelson. Randy Newman.

But amid the creative flowering, the man born Don Fagenson found himself unable to muster the will to write. Daunted by the immense talent now surrounding him, Was caught himself thinking, “What’s the point? These guys are so much better at this.”

It was during a conversation with country icon Nelson that Was had his epiphany: Willie Nelson might be Willie Nelson, but Don Was was Detroit.

Interview with the “Brothers” at Gulf Coasting

Audio – May 13 Cabooze, Minneapolis - May 29th, 2008

Thanks to Dave (No, not that one) we now have a torrent of the Cabooze show in Minneapolis from 13 May 2008.

Check out the Traders Den.

Now available at The Archive without sign on.

Audience Review – Abbey Pub in Chicago - May 28th, 2008

“This is more like a party than a regular gig, Don Was told the audience early on, and he couldn’t have been more right.

Not having seen any version of Was (Not Was) since a late 1980s Club MTV Tour, I must say that I have been intrigued and puzzled by the wide range of appreciations of the current Wasperience, ranging from carping that the band doesn’t access it’s entire catalogue, to effusive praise for inspirational performances. This is good, mainly because it shows that, whether you’ve seen them 20 times or can’t tell Don Was from a roadie, the band is still as fascinating as ever.

For a group as meticulous in writing, recording and rehearsal as this one, the genius of a Was (Not Was) show isn’t in the element of suprise, but rather in witnessing this wild musical/cultural and intellectual amalgam come to vivid life right before your very eyes.

And that goes from the MTV show, where they were 4th or 5th on the bill to Ton Loc, Paula Abdul and the density-is-infamy Milli Vanilli (they were sharp, smooth and fun, and belonged on that bill as much as William Burroughs opening for the Osmonds at Branson), back to the very first Was show I witnessed, in Chicago with Wayne Kramer and the Brides of Funkenstein en was, on the tour for the first album.

The May 10, 2008 show in the intimate confines of the Abbey Pub in Chicago was teriffic — David Was and Sir Harry got up front and sang harmony, fercrissakes — and the band and the audience were clearly interested in exchanging electricity. The combination of musicianship and volume in front of 2-300 or so folks who 85-90% looked like the main floor of a Republican National Convention is like what one imagines it might be like to watch a 747 experly landed in a shoebox.

Thanks to Harmen

Video – Sunshine Superfly from the Boston show - May 26th, 2008

Thanks to Red.

Audience Review – Portland and Seattle - May 26th, 2008

Saw WNW in Portland and Seattle. The Portland show at Wonder Ballroom
was excellent, although the sound was a bit muddled at
times…especially the first two songs. Crowd was small and the critic
for the local rag was groovin’ like the rest of the crowd – all 150 of
us. His review can be found here.

The Seattle show was at a smaller venue and the sound and show was
even better – fantastic show.

I have posted one song from Seattle- From the Head to the Heart – in
both WAV and MP3 format. (Unfortunately, I munged the taping in
Seattle and don’t think I can salvage any other songs. I may post the
Portland show but that also is a bit muddled – will need to have a
discerning ear check it out before posting.)

Downloads – or redirects to another site for the material are and will
be available here.

Thanks to Ted.

Audience Review – Portland - May 19th, 2008

The Mrs. and I caught the Was (Not Was) show at the Wonder Ballroom tonight, and I pretty much got just one word: Wow.
Thanks to Jack


Music review: Alternative reality of Was (Not Was)

Edward Lorenz, the meteorology professor who helped develop chaos theory, died last month at age 90, having seen his intellectual breakthrough influence economics, ecology and numerous other fields.

It is doubtful that Lorenz noticed its application to R&B, but Saturday night’s Wonder Ballroom show by the band Was (Not Was) might have been an apt demonstration. ….

by Marty Hughley/The Oregonian

Was (Not Was): Work the dinosaur - May 17th, 2008

“Why do they even give you a “Do not disturb’ sign?,” asks David Was, while recounting a recent hotel staff invasion. “I could have had a dead chick in the room! I’m a rock star, dog!”

Interview with David in the Colorado Springs Independent

Was (Not Was) brings the funk at homecoming show - May 17th, 2008

Towards the end of the night Fagenson promised the Majestic crowd that “we’ll never forget this night — I mean that.” And it will most likely stick in the memory of anyone who was there, too.

Review of the Detroit show in the Oakland Press

Audience Review – Detroit - May 16th, 2008

Hey Everyone,
I was at the show last Friday at the Majestic in midtown Detroit. The
native Detroiters in the band were quite happy to be back home
playing for friends, relatives, and long time fans.
I’ve been following the group since around 82, when I played bass in
a band that featured JonJaz Weiss – Dave’s brother – on sax. He’s the
one that turned me on to them by giving me an advance copy cassette
of “Born to Laugh at Tornadoes”. I’ve been hooked ever since.
They played to a pretty well packed house, and a great reception.
It’s something about playing in the shadows of Wayne State University
and Cass Corridor – always down, but never out, always living in
despair of some kind or another, but always hopeful of a better
future – for some reason, the funky grooves and the strange
storytelling of their songs resonate to a lot of us. It’s Real
Detroit music, no doubt.
Standing in line, waiting for the doors to open & sharing stories of
how we came to dig the Was bros. Talking about the old haunts, mostly
gone now. Lots of graying hair in the crowd (including mine).
Sound quality was good where I was, right in front of the stage. I
couldn’t hear the main stacks, only the front fills and a lot of
stage monitors. Didn’t matter anyway-I was singing louder than the
Songs were similar to other stops on this tour, with the addition of
Mitch Ryder coming out to do Devil With the Blue Dress with them.
Sure was great to see them again. As I told Sir Harry after the gig,
it’s been way too long!! Don’t be strangers – come back and visit
again soon.
Steve “The Count”

Video – Was (Not Was) Backstage – Jools Holland - May 16th, 2008

Audience Review – MAY 9 MAJESTIC THEATER, DETROIT - May 15th, 2008

Sorry this is not a timely report but since I attended the show at the
Majestic last Friday I should offer some comments. (Despite the nice previews
given in both major Detroit newspapers, neither had a post-show article.)

Very good turnout for the Detroit gig, not standing-room only packed but
surely bigger than they’ve been drawing on other dates, at least that’s the
impression I have from what I’ve read. The show itself was the same setlist as
I’ve seen on the other US dates, with a couple of additions. Toward the end they
performed Somewhere In America…(honoring someone’s request during the
soundcheck, Dave said). And then they brought out Mitch Ryder who sang Devil
With The Blue Dress, in a slower, R&B style than his 60’s hit Detroit Wheels
version. That was fun, but I’d probably have rather seen some musicians sit in
(David McMurray for example). The guys definitely were pumped to be in Detroit
but other than these two songs I got the impression it could have been any
other date on the tour. I guess they’ve rehearsed what they’ve rehearsed and
that’s what people are gonna get this time around. I wasn’t disappointed, but
wasn’t blown away, either.

With thanks to Steve.

Dave Meets Don (Not That Dave) - May 15th, 2008

Dave (Not that Dave) just sent me this email – I have to share it with you all!

Don says to get in touch with you so here I are!

I saw the band last night in Minneapolis at the Cabooze and had a great time. Here’s a bit of what I’ve written elsewhere… (forgive the few smilies in the text)

Was(Not Was) was great last night. I had a fleeting interest and knowledge of their work from having lived through the ’80s, and have always enjoyed a good R&B/Funk band but had never bought any of their LPs or seen them live or on MTV. I caught this thread so I go to tape. [a reference to another BBS for tapers]

As is my want, I got there plenty early to set up and managed to see someone who looked like he was affiliated with the band preparing to slip out the back door to the bus at around 8:15. The guy was sporting nasty dreads and a straw cowboy hat and had a very workman like set of threads hanging on him… Roadie maybe.… I approach and ask him, A) are you with the band, W(NW) and 2) are you/they still OK with taping. He sort of grinned and said, “OH, yeah sure. That would be great, just let us know where you’re going to post the show.”

I get set up and suffer through Todd Snyder, only because I’d failed to have a handle on the space left on my JB3 and it ran out mid set. 😛 and get ready for the big show to come. The band gets on stage and low and behold, the guy I’d asked permission turned out to be the bass player. Now I know nothing about who plays what in this band and in fact had thought the principals in the band were “brothers”… not siblings… “Brothers” so imagine the intensity of my head slap when it becomes apparent that the man I’d talked to was none other than Don Was. D’oh! I later confessed to him my ignorance and apologized for not having a better handle on the band’s history and promised to get the show out soon. He was very nice about it and seemed to get a little kick out of my “error”. He was very easy to talk to and seemed very high on the concept of audience taping and sharing. In fact, he made a point to announce during the show that there is a recording being made and that it will be available on the internet …”Where is it going to be posted?” he hollers out to me. It’s all on tape. ;D

It looks like the same set list that they followed at the 5-3 Ram’s Head show that is on the LMA/ but I think we got an additional two encore tunes out of them. The crowd was pretty light on a Tuesday and actually fell off some when the opener was done with his set, but those who remained had a the pleasure of hearing some great singing and playing. I hope they can stay on the road.

The recording will not likely hit the LMA for a few days as I’m now in the process of moving, but it will eventually get posted.

All for now, I gotta go.

Video – Was (Not Was) – Your Luck Won’t Last From Jools Holland - May 12th, 2008

Video – Interview From Jools Holland - May 12th, 2008

Video – Was (Not Was) – Semi Interesting Week From Jools Holland (Friday Version) - May 12th, 2008

Video – I Feel Better Than JB @ Boston - May 12th, 2008

Thanks to Red

Audience Review from The Basement Columbus ,Ohio - May 11th, 2008

I am one of the lucky few who experienced an intimate, powerful show in Columbus,Ohio in The Basement. The band was phenomenal and the energy for what had to be less than 100 in the audience was great. I waited 19 years or so for the opportunity and the experience was far better than anything I could have hoped for. I have found it hard to describe to my friends but I am looking ahead on your tour to make sure anyone I know near a show gets plenty of encouragement to go. I still hear you playing in my head and having been able to stand next to the band during the performance I have visuals to accompany the sound track jamming thru my brain. Best show of the year anywhere
with musicians who really feel it no matter what the venue is like.

Thank you Michael!

Flac and MP3 – Was (Not Was) May 3, 2008 Annapolis - May 10th, 2008

Just in from Sleepypedro:

“My recording of the 5/3/08 (annapolis) is up on now. please tell the world!”

He has made it available as 24-bit or 16-bit recording.

If you want an MP3 version please ask on the Discussion Group

Thanks Sleepypedro!

Was (Not Was) is returning to roots - May 9th, 2008

“What we were doing was just out of vogue,” says Don Was. “Nobody was saying, ‘Yeah, keep going.’ It felt like we were lost. I once read this quote in a Bob Dylan interview: He was saying sometimes it’s just not your time, and there’s no sense in fighting it. You don’t want to compromise what you’re doing and chase fashion.”

Interview with Don in The Detroit Free Press
Full transcript of Don Was interview

Out come the freaks as Was (Not Was) reunites - May 9th, 2008

The breakthrough happened when Dylan was in the studio cutting a vocal. “It was all right — not bad.” Weiss says. “Don says, ‘Great vocal, Bob.’ Bob says, ‘Great? You thought that was great?’ And Don hedges. ‘Well, you could do it again…but yeah, some good stuff on there.’

“A silence descended,” David says, “and what seemed like 100 years passed. I said these words: ‘Yeah Bob, there was something special in the air here tonight. I got the feeling, while you were singing, that had Al Martino walked in here, the two of you could have created a very special magic together.’

” ‘Al Martino?’ Dylan said. ‘Al Martino?’ Then: ‘Al Martino wouldn’t walk into a room unless it had a ceiling fan in it.’ ”

Interview with the Brothers on The Detroit News website.

At the Birchmere, a Good (Not Good) Night for Was (Not Was) - May 9th, 2008

“At the Birchmere, the set was occasionally weakened by stereotypical arrangements with obligatory guitar solos and generic saxophone interludes. The combo sounded best when the focus was on the vocalists: the raspy soul of Sweet Pea Atkinson, the middle range of Sir Harry Bowens, and the falsetto of Donald Ray Mitchell. Mitchell’s lead made the new tragic ballad “From the Head to the Heart” work, while the three added church-rooted harmonies on several cuts.”

Review by Steve Kiviat at The Washington Post

Flac and MP3 – Was (Not Was) May 1, 2008 Gramercy Theatre - May 9th, 2008

With thanks to Dan you can get a recording of this show on MP3 from his website, or ask him about a FLAC copy which has much better audio quality.


Interview With Don - May 9th, 2008

An interview with Don appears on the Total Music Magazine website.

Was (Not Was) is, still is - May 9th, 2008

“So Friday night at World Cafe Live, where a reactivated Was (Not Was) kicked out the Motor City jams for a loyal, if not quite teeming, crowd of revelers, I walked in persuadable and walked out persuaded.”

Philadelphia Show review from Jonathan Valania In The Inquirer

“You’d be hard-pressed to unearth a more unlikely band of ’80s hitmakers than Was (Not Was), the Detroit funk-soul-bebop-rock band masterminded by fake brothers Don and David Was and fronted by powerhouse R&B vocalists Sweet Pea Atkinson and Sir Harry Bowens, who had both “Walk the Dinosaur” and “Spy in The House Of Love” land in the top 20 from their 1988 album What Up, Dog?”

Interview with Dan DeLuca in the Inquirer

Audience Review Of Philadelphia Show - May 9th, 2008

ok saw was not was in philly last night
i saw the show at the trocedero in 2005 and this show was just as good. having seen the band 7 or 8 times now i went with some trepidation due to the missing david mcmurray and james gadson no worries these guys are probably the tightest funkiest band on the road right now. great song choices a medley of older songs was awesome, i never expected to hear wheel me out again live. with 3 lead singers i was hoping for anytime lisa i truly love this band. if you can please go see this band they are well worth any price. i am going to see them in virginia on tues so i am twice as excited to see them again.

Thanks To Michael

Boo! Washington Post Catches Up - May 3rd, 2008

WHEN A BAND takes off 18 years between albums and then the members try to recapture in their 50s the magic they had in their 30s, the results are usually embarrassing. But “Boo!,” the first Was (Not Was) album of new songs since 1990, is full of improbably catchy songs.

Geoffrey Himes – Washington Post

Boston Globe Interview With Don Was - April 30th, 2008

A short interview appears on The Boston Globe website.

“But it stuns me that there are people – not people I went to high school with, they’re strangers! – who know intimate things about these songs and have really listened to them. It really blows my mind.”

Reviews – Live at London Carling Academy - April 29th, 2008 music review site
The Independent
The Times

Gig Review – Carling Academy, Islington. - April 27th, 2008

Thanks go to Dirk for his audience review of the Carling Academy gig.


Video – Was (Not Was) – Walk The Dinosaur From Jools Holland - April 24th, 2008

Thanks to Craig

Video – Was (Not Was) – Semi Interesting Week From Jools Holland - April 24th, 2008

Thanks to craig!

Boo! Reviews Keep A Coming! - April 21st, 2008

You gotta love an album that starts with the line ‘Monday I was tryin’ ta get my freak on, with a coupla twins from Washington DC’ with absolutely no shame.
This is the new album from the seminal Detroit funk collective – back out of semi-retirement since 1992 – Was (Not Was) also known as Don & David Was and it feels like they were never away.

Andy Snipper – Music News

Was (Not Was) On NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday - April 12th, 2008

Weekend Edition Saturday, April 12, 2008 – For almost 30 years, David Weiss and Don Fagenson, along with a rotating cast of musical pranksters, have melded funk and absurdity as the band Was (Not Was).

The group has just released a new album, Boo!, its first new release in more than 15 years. Bandleaders Weiss and Fagenson — a.k.a. David Was and Don Was, respectively — joined Weekend Edition Saturday’s Scott Simon from the studios of NPR West to discuss their unique music.

Links to tracks from Boo! on the site.

Confirmed Tour Dates - April 11th, 2008

Boo! Guardian - April 11th, 2008

Few pop-rock songwriters are prepared to address modern life in all its rancid, dysfunctional glory. Fewer still can frame their lyrics in music that doesn’t rot your teeth. But Don and David Was have done this since the 1980s, and middle age suits them just fine. Boo!, their first album for 16 years, is well up to the standard of classics such as What Up Dog? and Are You Okay? Vocalists Harry Bowens, Sweet Pea Atkinson and Donald Ray Mitchell deliver the skewed tales of It’s a Miracle, From the Head to the Heart and Crazy Water with ferocious soulfulness. David Was adds a dose of his customary obliqueness on Needletooth; Kris Kristofferson intones the hallucinatory words to Green Pills in the Dresser; and Bob Dylan drops by mysteriously to co-write Mr Alice Doesn’t Live Here Any More. Plus there is authentic Motown drumming by the legendary James Gadson – all guaranteed to make you feel (weirdly) better than James Brown.

John L Walters – The Guardian

Boo! More Reviews - April 8th, 2008

The UK’s Clash magazine waxes lyrical about new Was album.

Daily Star – Album Review.

Robert Spellman gives the new Was album a 4-star review in the UK’s Daily Express newspaper .

Colin Somerville, rock critic for the Scotland on Sunday makes the new Was album “Album of the Week”.

Phil Johnson of the UK’s Independent on Sunday newspaper gives the thumbs up to the new Was album.

Mark Edwards of the UK’s Sunday Times newspaper reviews the new album.

Don Was: Mixmeister Flash - April 8th, 2008

“David and I were looking at the Jungian archetypes, trying to figure out who we were,” he says. “We hit on the archetype of The Fool. He’s not an idiot, but the king always used to put a Fool at the table at a banquet to act as a provocateur. He would say anything to get the conversation going. We don’t mind being that. If it takes sarcasm or humour to get the fire going, we’ll do it. But we’re not a comedy band.”

More at The Independent

Boo! in Greece - April 8th, 2008

Was (Not Was) – Boo [Rykodisc]
It may be little over 25 years since the leftfield Detroit production team of Don (Fagenson) Was and David (Weiss) Was laid down their off kilter mix of rock, funk soul and boogie. But with their new Rykodsic album ‘Boo!’, Was Not Was prove themselves to adapt at imaginatively recycling old wine in new bottles. That is to say that their contrary mix of styles and genres from funky dance floor friendly disco grooves and a potent mix of politically conscious and humorous lyrics are just as unique now as they were at the height of their 80’s commercial success.

MIC – Daily News

Boo!@ BBC - April 8th, 2008

Honestly, they didn’t write, they didn’t call, what were we supposed to think? Well, it matters not, as eccentric funky Uncles Was (Not Was) are back after nearly 20 years away from popland. Were they just trying to make us miss them? Who can say, but within minutes of spinning this bad boy and you’ll be nodding and grinning like an idiot.

Zoe Street Howe – BBC

Boo! 4-star Review - April 8th, 2008

FUNK is back and it’s just as hot as before. Was (Not Was( have been walking the dinosaur for quite a while now, but it’s great to have them back. From the instant hit Semi-Interesting Week to the Temptations sounding It’s A Miracle, this is one nostalgic and welcome treat.

Glenn Meads – Manchester Evening News

Boo! Get Ready To Rock!! - April 6th, 2008

It may be little over 25 years since the leftfield Detroit production team of Don (Fagenson) Was and David (Weiss) Was laid down their off kilter mix of rock, funk soul and boogie. But with their new Rykodsic album ‘Boo!’, Was Not Was prove themselves to adapt at imaginatively recycling old wine in new bottles. That is to say that their contrary mix of styles and genres from funky dance floor friendly disco grooves and a potent mix of politically conscious and humorous lyrics are just as unique now as they were at the height of their 80’s commercial success.

Pete Feenstra – Get Ready To Rock

Boo! Fair Hearing? - April 6th, 2008

Reminiscent of their masterwork album ‘What Up Dog?’, this new set is after a 16-year wait MORE than welcome. Recorded here and there over a long period, there is no lack of cohesion and everything this strange crew do is well-represented here and no fan will be disappointed. Savour the deep soul balladry that so echoes The Impressions but maybe whisked away to a solar platform gazing at Planet Funk ; the nod to Bootsy on ‘Your Luck Won’t Last’ – surely a great campaign song for Mr McCain ? – exemplifying the skewed disco vibe Was Not Was often hit. Smile at opener ‘Semi-interesting Week’ and MC5 guitar honcho Wayne Kramer trying not to sound like Wayne Kramer…have your heart broken by the sad story unfolding on ‘From the Head To the Heart’ sung I think by Donald Ray Mitchell. With other vocalists dapper Sweet Pea Atkinson and (are you related to Philip Banks?) Sir Harry Bowens aboard, you have to ask – what other group has THREE singers you would cross town to see ? In one lineup.

Pete Sargeant – Fair Hearing

Boo! D’Noo Review - April 6th, 2008

“WAS (Not Was) may have been napping, but they never stopped having nightmares!” runs the blurb which accompanies the group’s first album of original material in 18 years, for which David and Don Was have been rejoined by their dapper vocal foil Sweet Pea Atkinson and by the jolly Sir Harry Bowens. Boo! sounds a bit like an acid-fried version of those old Southern Comfort ads, with some Detroit funkiness added to the southern rhythm’n’blues mix. It’s an anachronistic-sounding album which pays scant attention to any musical water that has passed under the bridge in the last two decades, but there is enough of their business-as-usual offbeat humour and an atmospheric spoken-word cameo from Kris Kristofferson to compensate.


Boo! Review Too! - April 5th, 2008

Two decades after walking their dinosaurs, Detroit’s avant-garde funksters, led by David and Don Was, are back to give their wah-wah pedals a workout. Red-hot soul, dirty grooves, surreal jokes about presidents’ daughters . . . it’s as if the party never stopped. Joining in are Kris Kristofferson, who lends waggish, 100-a-day vocals to the trippy Green Pills, while Bob Dylan co-wrote Mr Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.

Phoebe Greenwood – Tmes Online

Calling Denver - April 4th, 2008

There is a Was (Not Was) gig at the Gothic Theatre on May 15 at 7:00PM

Boo! Review Two - April 4th, 2008

With the current penchant – musically and fashionwise – to live the dream like the ’80s never happened, the landscape is primed and ready for Was (Not Was)’s first studio album in 20 years. Because for Don and David, it’s not so much as if the ’80s never happened as that they never stopped.

How to describe them, then, for today’s young whippersnappers who may not have been born the last time they graced the charts? A slightly funkier Flaming Lips, perhaps. Gnarls Barkley with snappier suits would also do the trick.

Jenni Cole – MusicOMH

Boo! Review - April 4th, 2008

As unaccountably gifted Jewish wiseacres with a sophisticated grasp of music and a penchant for darkly droll lyrics, operating as the twin-brained hub of a musical machine manned by impeccable players, Don and Dave Was have always struck me as being rather like the kid brothers of Steely Dan’s Becker & Fagen.

Andy Gil – The Independant

Calling Somerville, MA. - April 3rd, 2008

The band are appearing at Johnny D’s Uptown on 30 April

Calling Detroit! Are You There Detroit? - March 31st, 2008

Was (Not Was) are playing the Majestic Theatre in Detroit on May 9 at 8:00 PM. Tickets available here

Calling London! - March 29th, 2008

Was (Not Was) have just announced a rare UK concert at the London Islington Academy on Saturday 26th April. Tickets are priced £22 and go on sale today. The band will perform songs on Later With Jools Holland television programme “live” on Tuesday 22nd April, repeated on Friday 25th April on BBC2 television. The TV appearance marks the first time in 16 years since Was (Not Was) performed on the very first “Later With Jools Holland” show in 1992.

Full details of the band’s London concert can be found here

An Evening With Was (Not Was)
Saturday 26th April 2008
Carling Academy Islington – Tickets: £22.00
Box Office: 0844 477 2000
Online Booking

The concert follows hot on the heels of BOO!, the band’s first album in 16 years, released in the UK on Monday 7th April by Rykodisc. The new album features the original line up and includes the songs “Mr. Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” co-written by Bob Dylan, David Was and Don Was, and “Green Pills in the Dresser” featuring Kris Kristofferson on lead vocals.

Calling New York! - March 28th, 2008

Thu, May 1, 2008 08:30 PM
Blender Theater at Gramercy
New York, NY

General Admission for $28.50 & Loge Seating or $34.50.
Limited seating and General Admission Standing on the floor
Presale is now and the password for the Nokia Ticket Rush is “Rock”.

Calling Annapolis - March 26th, 2008

Bill sends in news that the Ram’s Head in Annapolis, MD is selling tickets for a 1 pm show on 5/3.

BOO! Now available from Amazon - March 18th, 2008


Boo! is now available on pre-order from Amazon.

Video – Crazy Water - March 18th, 2008

Video of Crazy Water from Boo!

SXSW Was (Not Was) tears the roof off - March 18th, 2008

AUSTIN, Texas — Was (Not Was) may not have, as its song says, blown up the United States in the week hours of Sunday morning, but the Detroit-bred group did blow righteously during a festival-closing show at the club La Zona Rosa.

The Oakland Press

SXSW review: Was (Not Was) - March 18th, 2008

Best show, far and away: Was (Not Was), who probably played the last note of SXSW, since La Zona Rosa staff finally had to turn the lights on Saturday night and point us all toward the exit. If they’d given the band 10 more minutes, they could have just finished tearing the roof off, so we could all leave via levitation.

Austin 360

More Live Dates – US Tour - March 13th, 2008

UPDATE — 15 March 2008

Damn Rumours!!!!

04/28/08 Lee’s Palace, Toronto, Canada
04/29/08 TBA
04/30/08 Middle East, Boston, MA
05/01/08 The Ethical Center, NYC, NY
05/02/08 World Cafe Live, Philly, PA
05/03/08 Rams Head Tavern, Annapolis, MD
05/05/08 The Rex, Pittsburg,
05/06/08 Birchmere, DC
05/07/08 Beach Land, Cleveland, Ohio
05/09/08 TBA – Detriot, MI
05/10/08 Abby Pub, Chicago, IL
05/11/08 Turner Hall, Milwaukee,
05/12/08 The Fine Line, Minneapolis,
05/15/08 Blue Bird, Denver, CO
05/17/08 Berbati’s, Portland, OR
05/18/08 Triple Door, Seattle, WA

SXSW Date - March 9th, 2008

Saturday, March 15 @ 1:00 a.m.
La Zona Rosa (612 W 4th St)
Austin TX

http://2008. music/showcases/ band/69970. html

Chicago Date - March 8th, 2008

Was (Not Was), Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace St., Chicago: pop/funk/rock. Tickets for the 8 p.m. May 10 show go on sale at noon Saturday. $20, $25. (866) 468-3401.

Was (Not Was) time-travels back to its glorious chaos - February 16th, 2008

Don Was kept it simple, pushing his bass to the side as he introduced the long-missed conglomeration onstage at the Orpheum Theatre on Thursday night. “We’re Was (Not Was),” he said. “From Detroit.” He spoke the truth, though several decades separated the band’s original members from their funky hometown.

Los Angeles Times

Reviews Of The Cafe du Nord Show - February 15th, 2008

Wow! The opening Was (Not Was) gig of 2008 rocked! One of many
priceless moments was when Sweet Pea, Sir Harry, and Donald Ray first
really let loose their glorious 3-party harmony on Where Did Your
Heart Go. Don briefly burst into this million-dollar smile that
seemed to say “I’ve been waiting a long time to hear that sound on
stage again.” Or maybe I was projecting.

Still, it was glorious. The last tour was fantastic but nothing beats
having all the singers back in the band. Randy was smoking as always,
Jamie did some guitar-sounding keyboard solos that I would love to
figure out how he did, and the new guys on drums and sax fit right
in. Our Beloved Leaders performed and presided in fine style.

Michael G.
Just got home from the 7:30 show at the
Cafe du Nord. The band was smokin! The set list had a great mix of old and new tunes. Although the club was small, everyone was moving to the music. I saw Was(Not Was) in the mid 80’s at the I-Beam in San Francisco and 20 years later they are just as good. I can’t wait to get the new record.

Jeffrey M

I went to the late show, which was also a lot of fun. It was great to
see the band in a small venue (but I gotta say, it was still half
empty — maybe because it was a Wednesday at 10:30pm, and the day
before Valentine’s Day. . .). All the guys looked like they were
having a swell time. The set ran just under 90 minutes.

Here’s the setlist (same as the early show).
*Spoiler Alert!*
This is also the setlist for tonight’s LA show (to be followed by a
few songs with Brian Wilson and then a few with Kris Kristofferson) .

Was (Not Was)
Cafe Du Nord
San Francisco CA
Feb. 13, 2008 (Wed.)
late show

National Anthem intro > Hello Operator
Papa Was A Rolling Stone
I Feel Better Than James Brown
Where Did Your Heart Go?
Hello Dad > Carry Me Back To Old Morocco
Crazy Water
Semi Interesting Week
(Return To The Valley Of) Out Come The Freaks
Walk The Dinosaur
I Blew Up The United States > Sunshine Superfly >
I Blew Up The United States
Tell Me That I’m Dreaming >
Robot Girl >
Wheel Me Out

11 Mph
Knocked Down, Made Small

Don Was (bass)
David Was (flute, harp, vox)
Sweetpea Atkinson (vox)
Sir Harry Bowens (vox)
Donald Ray Mitchell (vox)
Randy Jacobs (gtrs)
Jamie Mahoberac (kbds)
[young English guy] (saxes)
James Gadson (drums)

Michael Z

Video – Live Footage - February 14th, 2008

A great collection of live videos.

Boo! News! - February 14th, 2008

There is a press release with information about the new album.

Here is the track listing:

01. Semi Interesting Week
02. It’s A Miracle
03. Your Luck Won’t Last
04. From The Head To The Heart
05. Big Black Hole
06. Needletooth
07. Forget Everything
08. Crazy Water
09. Mr. Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
10. Green Pills In The Dresser

Was (Not Was) To Play SxSW - February 12th, 2008

News that Was (Not Was) are to play SxSW in Austin, Texas.


“Boo!” Release Date - January 10th, 2008

Don has confirmed that “Boo” will be released on April 6 Via Rykodisc/Warner Bros – Now there is something to look forward to!

Was (Not Was) Gigs - January 10th, 2008

Just in from Don:

“we’re gonna kick of a year of shows with our 2nd Annual Valentines Day Bash at the orpheum theater….brian and kris are each gonna play 3 songs with us… addition to sweet pea, sir harry and donald ray will be back in the band and, on drums we’ll have the great james gadson who played on all the bill withers records and marvin gaye’s “I want you”!.Was (Not Was) featuring Brian Wilson & Kris Kristofferson”

Thu, Feb 14, 2008 7:00 PM Orpheum Theatre, Los Angeles, CA

Wed, Feb 13, 2008 7:30 PM Cafe Du Nord, San Francisco, CA

Wed, Feb 13, 2008 10:30 PM Cafe Du Nord, San Francisco, CA

Video – Wayne Kramer/David Was – “Revolution in Apt. 29” - November 14th, 2007

Video – Wayne Kramer / David Was – “All Been Planned” - November 14th, 2007

Myspace Pages - October 30th, 2007

Was (Not Was)
Orquestra Was
Sweet Pea Atkinson
Sir Harry Bowens
David McMurray
Luis Resto’s MySpace page
Luis Resto’s Website

Video – Sweet Pea Atkinson “Back in Love Again” - October 8th, 2007

Video – Sweet Pea Atkinson – “Slow Down” - October 8th, 2007

The Wasmopolitan Cavalcade Of Music - August 21st, 2007

Seems that Don is moonlighting on My Damn Channel. See some great new songs that he has been producing for other artists, and listen to what is on his MP3 player. at The Wasmopolitan Cavalcade Of Music.

Video – Knocked Down Made Small - May 30th, 2007

On Youtube

Video – Wedding Vows In Vegas - May 30th, 2007

On Youtube

Video – London Jazz Cafe - May 29th, 2007

Seven songs from the last night at the Jazz Cafe, London available at Youtube

Licensed To Ill - January 14th, 2007

Spy In The House Of Love was released in many, many mixes. On of them was ‘My Name Is Young, Jeffrey B Young – Licensed To Ill Mix’. This mix contained snippets of Roger Moore, and Sean Connery as James Bond. The mix was released as 3 (according my information) limited 12″ promos to DJs. There are probably no more than 200 of each pressing.

As soon as it hit the dance floors there were complaints from the owners of the “James Bond” franchise and Roger Moore. Who just didn’t seem to see the joke.

Audio – Was (Not Was) Live Performances - December 29th, 2006

Was (Not Was) Live at Ram’s Head Onstage on 2005-01-05 – Was (Not Was)
Was (Not Was) January 5, 2005 Ram’s Head Onstage Annapolis MD *** THIS IS A 16-BIT FILESET INTENDED FOR AUDIO CD ***

Was (Not Was) Live at Trocadero (Upstairs Bar) on 2006-01-07 – Was (Not Was)
Was (Not Was) January 7, 2005 Trocadero (Upstairs Bar) Philadelphia PA *** THIS IS A 16-BIT FILESET INTENDED FOR AUDIO CD ***

Don Was Videos - September 16th, 2006

Don provides access to whole bunch of stuff , including
Dance or Die
Hello Operator
I Feel Better Than James Brown
Where Did Your Heart Go

Videos - September 16th, 2006

I have just added links to a whole bunch of videos that are available via YouTube. You just need to click on the Videos/mp3s link above.

Photos Of The London Gig At The Jazz Cafe - March 1st, 2006

There are some excellent photos (over 300 of the) of the band taken by Amanda Coplans at her website

I think you will find them interesting.

Thursday’s Show - October 29th, 2005

From Peter:

Just so there is no confusion over the London gigs at the Jazz Cafe, their last night on Thursday was terrific. The band looked like they were having a great time, always a good sign, and the crowd cheered everything. The guy from an English soap next to me was as happy as we were. The band are just so good live – what a great night!

Forget the idiot who wrote that review - October 28th, 2005

For another point of view, this just in from London

Forget the idiot who wrote that review you featured the other day on the site – clearly the boy has gone crazy; as one of the fortunate 60 or so who were there on Monday night I can assure you all that the band were absolutely fantastic from start to finish and we had a great time.

For a much more accurate reflection of the gig check this review from The Times:

The crowd Was (Not) there - October 27th, 2005

Reports say only about 100 people, or so, attended the first night of the gigs at the Jazz Club in London.

There is a review of the gig in This London. Not a good reaction from the crowd, or the reviewer.

Boo! Two! - October 26th, 2005

A second interview, and this is a good one. This time with Johnny Walker from BBC Radio 2.
A track from the new album is featured. You can download the interview here.

By the way Don says the Monday show at the Jazz Club went well.

Boo! - October 25th, 2005

Seems like the new album will be out this (northern) spring, and that the title is still, or even once again, Boo!

You can here Don and Dave discuss this album in an appearance on the Phill Jupitus show on BBC 6music. (download the interview here). They were on the show to promote their gigs at the Jazz Cafe in London.

Wikipedia - October 25th, 2005

Very brief entry for the band at Wikipedia

More On The New Album - October 25th, 2005

According to Wikipedia the next album is now called “Land of the Freak and Home of Depraved“.

New Album News - September 1st, 2005

As we all sit and wait for the new album, Don, Dave, and the gang are getting set to perform in London. The article on the web page advertising the gigs, claims that the new album will be called “Out Come The Freaks”.

London Gigs – Live at the Jazz Cafe - September 1st, 2005

WAS (NOT WAS) – Live at the Jazz Cafe

Mon 24th, Tue 25th, Wed 26th, Thu 27th October

doors 7pm £22.50 advance

Jazz Cafe
5 Parkway
Camden Town
London NW1 7PG

Please note: These dates were originally scheduled to take place between Sunday 18th and Wednesday 21st September. Original tickets remain valid for the new dates.

Jazz Cafe

Advert In Mojo For London Tour - April 4th, 2005

Advert in April 2005 Mojo for London tour 2005

Note Sir Harry, although pictured, is not in the band for this tour.

Are You Ok? Was (Not Was) Lineup - March 7th, 2005

Was (Not Was) Are You Okay? Lineup

  1. David McMurray (Sax)
  2. Ron Peng-Born (Drums)
  3. Rayse Biggs (Trumpet)
  4. Sir Harry Bowens (Vocals)
  5. Debora Dobkin (Percussion)
  6. Randy Jacobs (Guitar)
  7. Sweat Pea Atkinson (Vocals)
  8. Jamie Muhuberac (Keyboards)
  9. Donald Ray Mitchell (Vocals)
  10. David Was (Flute/Harmonica/Vocals)
  11. Don Was (Bass)

Soultracks - March 5th, 2005 provides a short biography of the band.

The Death Of Mr Ping Pong - February 20th, 2005

David explains about this song:

“death of mr PP has a nice story attached. we are promo touring the UK and
had landed in birmingham for the night. get a call from phonogram in london:
‘we need a b-side for the next single, can you go in tonite and cut

bingaddabong i pick up the local tabloid and hunt for a premise. see a
headline: DEATH OF MR. TABLE TENNIS’, and the story on mr maurice goldsmith
(i recall), the local scion of the tabletennis scene.

i figgered ‘pingpong’ had a more comic ring to it, but wanted the song to
have a kind of flatliner, deadpan delivery, so i enlisted don to do his
first vocal.

the narrative, POINT A etc, was supposed to surgically dissect the rise and
fall of a legend……and i told don: NO EMOTION! read it like youre reading
a grocery list….he done it brilliantly i think — then he retired from

True Crime Stories! - February 12th, 2005

Were he a gangsta rapper, Don Was might tell the story differently. Somehow this is probably one of the differences between hip-hop and rock. Hip-hop artists are all about establishing their cred as criminals. The rhymes talk about committing the crimes and the run-ins had with the man before they realized they could get a lot more bling and a lot fewer bullets by just cashing in on past experiences and rapping about it for the multi-colored masses.


Farm Aid – 1990 - February 7th, 2005

Was (Not Was) (with Kenny Aronoff on drums )backed up Iggy Pop, John Hiatt and, with just Kenny Aronoff & Don Was, Lou Reed, at Farm Aid in 1990. They performed two songs as a band, (Papa was a Rolling Stone, and possibly, Walk the Dinosaur). Then acording to Don…. “as dick clark was introducing him, iggy snuck up behind the emcee and gave him a swift kick to the ass – on live national tv. having been warned that any obscene outbursts would result in being cutoff and replaced with commercials, iggy made it safely thru “home” from the “Brick by Brick” album. his subsequent introduction of “I wanna be your dog” – featuring the word fuck about 5 times – caused that song to be blacked out. Then hiatt came out & sang “thru Your hands” which I had just recorded with David Crosby. can’t remember what his second song was or what we did with lou reed……”

London Dates For May 2005 - January 30th, 2005


Order your ticket from Bigmouth

Photos of The Chigago Show 2004 - January 22nd, 2005

Matt Charmicael from has some photos of the Chigago Show.

Tour Fallout - January 18th, 2005

Well the tour is over, but it has left those who saw it with some good memories. For those that didn’t, you can down load a recording of the January 5, show at Ram’s Head Onstage in Annapolis MD, with thanks to Sleepypedro and Don, who OKed the recording. [Show no longer available, site shutdown by RIAA]

There have also been lots of interviews, and articles, appearing on the web. Here are a few links:

Detroit Free Press
Detroit Free Press again.

and my favourite:

And How We Danced - November 26th, 2004

Newly revamped, And How We Danced provides a short disography, and biography of the band.

Was (Not Was) 2004-05 USA Tour Dates Confirmed - November 5th, 2004

UPDATE: 4 Dec 2004
Thought you might like to know that there apparently isn’t a Boston show, contrary to what you have posted.

The other shows are listed for sale, though, with Ticketron Ticketmaster.

The people at the Middle East Club in Cambridge profess not to know about the show and have other acts scheduled for that night.

What David Is Doing Now. - October 3rd, 2004

David is a music correspondent for “Day To Day” a show on NPR. They call his pieces “Was On Music”. The credits for the show also say that he writes the “Big Shots” column for “Golf” Magazine.

You can hear one of David’s slots here (for a short time). He talks about a $49 computer program called Garageband. The software allows Mac users to make music very easily. There are even short tracks available that he composed using the software. Not exactly a new album, but . . .

MP3 – Dignity – Sweet Pea Atkinson & The Was (Not Was) Quintet - September 21st, 2004

Sweet Pea on vocals, David on harp, Don on string bass, Wayne Kramer on guitar, David McMurray on sax and, possibly Randy Jacobs on guitar and Narada Michael Walden on drums. From a forthcoming album that consists of covers of Bob Dylan songs performed in the style of early 50’s Chicago blues.


Who is Abe Zapp Rudder? - September 21st, 2004

11 Miles An Hour. From the What Up Dog? album is available on singles in an Abe Zapp Ruder Version. Who is this Abe Zapp Ruder? Abe Zapruder is the man who filmed the 8mm version of the assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas in 1963. The lyrics of the 11 Miles An Hour are about the assassination.

Lets Go To Bed With Madonna! - September 21st, 2004

In 1983 Madonna’s recorded vocals for Shake Your Head (Lets Go To Bed) a track on Born To Laugh At Tornadoes. When the album was released Madonna’s vocal had been replaced by Ozzy Osbourne’s, a completely different style. Don Was later explained: “She sang really well but l’ve always imagined the vocalist as extensions of ourselves and l couldn’t relate to female vocals being our voice” In 1992 the track was re-released in a different mix on Hello Dad I’m In Jail with Kim Basinger supplying the vocal.

Wedding Vows In Vegas - September 21st, 2004

The song “Wedding Vows In Vegas”, sung by Frank Sinatra Jnr on “What Up, Dog?”, was originaly planned to have Sammy Davis Jnr doing the vocals.

Mel Torme - September 21st, 2004

Mell Torme was lined up to record a version of Dante’s Inrferno with Was (Not Was) to be called either “Mel In Hell” Or “Torme In Torment”.

Freaks - September 21st, 2004

Was (Not Was) were taken to court by someone who claimed the song “Out Come The Freaks” refered to him. He claimed that the lyric “open the door there’s suzanne she eats her breakfast from the pan” meant that Suzanne is a lesbian as the pan represents the female body, and the bit about little Michaell and the leather is about homosexual culture. The case was dismissed.

Born To Laugh At Tornadoes - September 21st, 2004

Born To Laugh At Tornadoes
In the USA, for some inexplicable reason the record was issued with side two as side one.

President Nixon was apparently asked to play piano for “(Return To The Valley Of) Out Come The Freaks”, but refused.

Tribute To Roy Orbison - September 21st, 2004

On February 24, 1990 Was (Not Was) served as the ‘house band’ for a Tribute to Roy Orbison held at the Universal Ampitheater in Los Angeles. They backed up most of the artists who appeared that night. They performed one song solo, a cover of Orbison’s “It’s Over,” with Sweet Pea on a very soulful lead vocal. Portions of this show were broadcast, however, the solo song was not broadcast.

Was (Not Was) did appear on the Roy Orbison Tribute, broadcast on the Showtime cable service. There was the full 90-minute show, and also an edited, hour long version. They performed “It’s Over” following John Hiatt (You Got It), and before Booker T. Jones (In The Real World). It was then from a 60-minute re-broadcast.

Thank you Roxie for the correction.

Different Mothers, Same Rhythm - September 2nd, 2004

David Weiss and Don Fagenson are just like Leiber & Stoller, two Jewish boys who should have been black. While their music had us jigging and gyrating, their lyrics had us gasping and giggling.

David was born on October 26, 1952 in a Detroit hospital, his ‘brother’ Don was born a few weeks earlier, on 13 September 1952, in a nearby hospital. Don’s mother was a high school teacher and his father a high-school counselor. David’s parents were both entertainers. In the 1950s his father Rube Weiss played Soupy Sales’ sidekick, Shoutin’ Shorty Hogan, on the late night Soupy Sales Show, not the kids’ version. Both sets of parents were tolerant of their children’s eccentricities, which would eventually lead to Was (Not Was).

Although Don lived eight blocks away from David in Oak Park, it wasn’t until Oak Park’s Clinton Junior High-school in the 1960s that they met each other outside eighth grade gym teachers office while waiting to be punished. David had seen Don performing Midnight Special and a Dylan song in an eighth grade talent show and realized that he was different from other kids.

They would meet on the top of the high school bleachers and talk about how they were going to make a record one day. In the Humor Prison, which was the basement of David’s parents’ house, they would wear funny masks and make tapes on a reel-to-reel machine, and laugh till they couldn’t laugh any more. The tapes would bear witness to their influences when young, MC5, Iggy & The Stooges, Frank Zappa, The Firesign Theater, Jazz (especially Thelonious Monk & John Coltrane) and Motown.

They called themselves Nirvarden Maverse (Don) and Ferguson Webster aka Webbo (David). At one time they published their own newspaper “The Daily Bot” full of fictitious news. The creativity didn’t stop there. They ran a comedy troupe called the Maverse Players, dropped acid and wrote Dadaist poetry, and held a mock political convention. Their politics saw them getting involved with the White Panther movement and holding their own demonstration during the Vietnam Moratorium in 1969, which got them mentioned all over the USA.

They both attended The University of Michigan Ann Arbor, but Don dropped out after the first year

After getting married in 1972 Don worked as a journeyman musician getting work where he could. There was not much money and Don was worried about how to feed his family.

David was married in 1980 and moved to LA where he worked as a jazz critic for the “LA Herald Examiner”

The geographical separation didn’t stop David and Don staying in contact. There were long phone calls where they would write songs. Some of these appeared on the first album, “Was (Not Was)”.

It was during one of these phone calls that Don told David his money problems had got so bad, that he was going to turn to crime to solve them. Don had hatched a plan to rob a dry cleaners. David decided to travel back to Detroit so that they could make a record together, rather than let his long-time friend turn to crime.

Using Don’s connections through studios he had worked at, they pulled together some local musicians and formed the first Was (Not Was) lineup in 1980.

Sweet Pea worked in the car factories of Detroit; he had moved there after being shot by the man he was a bodyguard for – a blind bookie. He was also a member in a little known Detroit group, The Ixquisites.

They called the band Was (Not Was). The name came from young Anthony Fagenson (Don’s son) who had a habit of attempting to describe opposites by adding “Not”. So you have “blue, not blue” and of course “was, not was”.

Was (Not Was) sent a tape of “Wheel Me Out” and “Hello Operator” to Ze records in New York, operated by Michael Zilkha. David wrote a letter to accompany the tape and signed it in his capacity as music critic. Zilkha admits they would have binned the tapes if they had not been endorsed by the music critic of the LA Herald. The band was signed to Ze because the record was such a good dance track.

Liz Weiss, David’s mother, an actress, was coerced into redoing the vocals, as David’s were considered too weird by Island execs. The tracks were eventually issued as a 12″ dance record on Ze/Island and in France on 7″ through Ze/Celluloid. The record did really well in New York and London.

Part of the record company’s plan was to keep the band members’ identity a secret. There were no photos on the record cover, no one knew if they were black or white. This allowed both black and white radio stations to play the song without problems.

In 1981 Was (Not Was) went into the studio to record their first album. The band was growing in size as other musicians were added to the lineup including:

Sweet Pea objected to lyrics on some tracks especially “Out Come The Freaks” so Ex O’jay’s singer (Sir) Harry Bowens was called in to do the vocals and stayed for the duration.

The album was released in June 1981 in the UK and once again anonymity reigned. There were no pictures of the band on the cover. This time it was not to last, and the band’s secret was blown by the NME writer Vivien Goldman in an interview. The record company continued to release the records without pictures until the third single in March 1982, “Tell Me That I’m Dreaming” which on the 12″ had pictures of the band on back and front.

In the same year David and Don wrote songs for Sweet Pea’s album “Don’t Walk Away” and the band played as musicians. It was really a Was (Not Was) album under a different name.

Ze records sold the band to Geffen in 1982. Was (Not Was) recorded the second album, “Born To Laugh At Tornadoes”, but due to problems convincing Geffen to release the record, it didn’t see the light of day until November 1983.

In a departure from the first album, “Tornadoes” has many guest vocalists including Mel Torme, Mitch Ryder, Doug Fieger, and Ozzy Osbourne. Ozzy was dragged into the studio to record the vocals for “Shake Your Head” for which the ‘brothers’ had original used Madonna as vocalist. But Don was not convinced that anyone outside of New York would ever hear of her. President Nixon was apparently asked to play piano for “(Return To The Valley Of) Out Come The Freaks”, but refused. In the USA, for some inexplicable reason the record was issued with side two as side one.

March 1984 saw the first Was (Not Was) hit record. “(Return To The Valley Of) Out Come The Freaks” went to 41 in the UK charts.

Later in the same year Geffen refused to release the band’s third album, “Lost In Prehistoric Detroit”. The company wanted David and Don to drop Harry and Sweet Pea from the band and hire white singers. The pressure was so bad that they went through the process of auditions. It was during this standoff in 1985-1986 that Don turned to producing other people’s records.

Finally in 1986 Geffen sold Was (Not Was) to Phonogram, where David Bates signed them to Fontana. “Robot Girl” was released in the UK with a new vocalist, Desy Campbell. He had previously been lead singer with Floy Joy. Don had produced two LPs for Floy Joy , and the whole Was (Not Was) entourage played on “Weak In The Presence Of Beauty”, the second LP. Desy only stayed with Was (Not Was) for a while.

In 1987 “Spy In The House Of Love” reached 51 in UK charts in July, and in September the band got the fame they deserved with the release of “Walk The Dinosaur”, which climbed to the dizzy heights of 10 in the UK charts.

“What up, Dog?” was released in March 1988. The album title coming from the way Sweet Pea would say hello. This, the third album, had been a long time coming. Some of the tracks were from the album, “Lost In Prehistoric Detroit”, that Geffen had rejected.

The band members were now:

To promote this album and let the world know that Was (Not Was) were back, the band toured extensively through UK and Europe.

During the year David and Don took time out and appeared as a band members in a scene from the film “The Freshman” with Marlon Brando, also producing several songs for Miss America emcee Bert Parks for the film.

In 1989 fans in Japan were lucky enough to see the release of “New Steak Trend”. This album was a compilation of mixes of some tracks from the back catalogue.

It wasn’t until June 1990 that album number four was issued, “Are You OK?”. David and Don had a disagreement over the production of this album. According to Don, David never turned up to sessions, and David claims it was too commercial, “Paula Abdulized” were the words he was heard to mutter. This didn’t help as Don’s wife, Gemma Corfield, was Paula Abdul’s A&R person.

In 1992 the band pulled a bit of a coup, publicity-wise, getting themselves on a tour of Europe with Dire Straits. A compilation album called “Hello Dad I’m In Jail” was released, this featured some different mixes and not-heard-before tracks like, “How The Heart Behaves” (original acoustic guitar demo 1989), “Shake Your Head (Let’s Go To Bed)” with Kim Basinger on vocals, “Somewhere In America There’s A Street Named After My Dad” (alternate mix 1987), and a hidden track “(Return To The Valley Of) Out Come The Freaks”. A bootleg CD from Montreux Jazz Festival in July of 1992 was also released.

A trip back to the recording studios in the same year, saw songs recorded for “Boo!” the fifth album, still not released, that all Was (Not Was) fans eagerly await. Don also wrote the “Mad About You” TV show theme, “Final Frontier” with Paul Reiser.

The ‘brothers’ agreed that they had hit a creative block. This led to David feeling that the band was playing second fiddle to Don’s production work. Don felt that “Boo!” had nothing new on it. It had all been heard before. David wanted to keep the band going while Don wanted to give up and concentrate on his producing.

Don took the singers from Was (Not Was) and formed a new band called PhD to record a song for the “Home Alone 2” soundtrack. Was (Not Was) were originally asked to record the song. David rang the band’s management and was told that Don did not want Was (Not Was) to record yet another cover. David and Don had a falling out, resulting in David leaving the band’s management. Yet no official notice of the band’s demise was ever made.

While still producing other people’s albums, Don put his creativity to other projects. In 1993 he wrote the original music for “Backbeat” a movie about the Beatles in Hamburg. He produced and directed the documentary about Brian Wilson, “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times” in 1995. In 1996 the credits for “Trees Lounge” gave him “special thanks”. 1997 was a busy year for Don. In that year he was music consultant for “The Rainmaker”, an actor, playing himself, in “Pop Odyssee 1 – Die Beach Boys und der Satan” – a TV show made in Germany, and he released an album called “Forever’s A Long Long Time”. The album was recorded with old Was (Not Was) stalwarts, Sweet Pea, Sir Harry, Donald Ray Mitchell, David McMurray, Luis Resto, Randy Jacobs and Wayne Kramer, among the musicians. Don named the band Orquestra Was, and it has a very Was (Not Was) sound to it. One of the features of the album is a 15 minute video film, “Forever’s A Long Long Time”, featuring Kris Kristofferson and Sweet Pea Atkinson.

1998 saw Don credited as executive soundtrack producer for the film “Hope Floats”.

David was involved in several film projects as music supervisor. In 1997 “An American Werewolf In Paris”, 1998 “The X Files”, and 1999 “The Big Tease”. He released a track called “Chow Mein St” on Wayne Kramer’s “Beyond Cyberpunk” in 2001. The same year David and Don collaborated on the music for “The Education Of Max Bickford” A TV series for CBS. Still in the world of TV, in 2002 David and Don worked on the music for the series “That Was Then”.

I would like to thank Roger for providing the information in the form of articles from:

And Rip it Up – April 1989.
Annette for proof reading and David Was for corrections.

Salsa Web - September 2nd, 2004

Salsa Web – their interview with Sir Harry Bowens.

The Boneshakers - September 2nd, 2004

The Boneshakers Online is The Boneshakers official web site.

IMDB - September 2nd, 2004

From IMDB:

Sound On Sound - September 2nd, 2004

Sound On Sound an interview with Don about Orquestra Was

Rolling Stone - September 2nd, 2004

Rolling Stone shows us some photos, and gives reviews of the band’s albums.

Artist Direct - September 2nd, 2004

Artist Direct is second to AMG in providing information.

Trouser Press - September 2nd, 2004

Trouser Press is back, after a long absence, with a concise entry for the Was Bros.

BBC - September 2nd, 2004

BBC only gives us minimal information.

The All Music Guide - September 2nd, 2004

The All Music Guide is possibly the most comprehensive information on the band.
AMG represents the combined effort of over two hundred experienced music writers
to point out the most important artists and their finest music.

Retrospective & New CD On The Horizon. Live Shows Too - May 11th, 2004

News from Don about a new album and live shows:

a label called “shout factory” – owned by the the guys who started and built rhino records – is going to release a double cd retrospective set that will include a dvd film of odd performance clips that david and i are currently compiling. hopefully, it will be out by the end of the year. they’ve also heard our latest songs and would like to release a cd of new stuff as well. additionally, we’ve started booking U.S. dates for next april – we’ll probably tour with Cheb Khaled.

Ze Re-release News - February 2nd, 2004

Ze Records re-releases now available

Try the competition and win the CDs

New Album and Live Show(s) - January 6th, 2004

News from Don about a new album and live shows:

the album consists of covers of bob dylan songs performed in the
style of early 50’s chicago blues. we’re
going to start performing these songs live. our first gig is at the
sundance film festival, jan 22. billed as “sweet pea atkinson & the
was (not was) quintet”, the group will be: pea on vocals, david on
harp, yerz truly on string bass, wayne kramer on guitar, david
mcmurray on sax and, possibly randy jacobs on guitar and narada
michael walden on drums. we’ll see what happens after that……

Stay tuned for more information

Rhino Records - November 20th, 2003

Rumour has it that Rhino Records are working on a Was (Not Was) compilation. Lets hope it has all the remixes!

Ze Records – (The Woodwork) Squeaks - October 26th, 2003

Ze records have just released the track listing for (The Woodwork) Squeaks

  1. Tell me that I’m dreaming Traditional 12″ Remix 6.30
  2. Out come the freaks Predominantly Funk version 12.04
  3. Wheel me out Classic 12″ version 7.08
  4. ( Return of the valley) Out come the freaks Extended version 8.49
  5. Hello operator Classic 12″ version 5.21
  6. Dance or died From Sweet Pea Atkinson album 6.27
  7. Tell me that I’m dreaming Souped up version 12.50
  8. Out come the freaks Dub version
  9. Out come the freaks Classic 12″ version 7.10
  10. (Stuck inside of Detroit with) Out come the freaks (again) 4.36
  11. White people can dance 4.26

The CD is due mid-November

Ze Records - September 23rd, 2003

Ze records are re-releasing some of the Was (Not Was) back catalog.

Maxi vinyl Ep :
Tell me that I’m dreaming

CD Digipack :
Out come the freaks

Vinyl Album :
Out come the freaks

Tracks on Out come the freaks are:

  1. Wheel me out – Long Version 7.03
  2. Out come the freaks 5.39
  3. Where did your heart go? 4.58
  4. Tell me that I’m dreaming 5.02
  5. Oh, Mr Friction 3.15
  6. Carry me back to Old Morocco 6.01
  7. It’s an attack 3.13
  8. The sky’s ablaze 2.35
  9. Go…Now! 5.31
  10. Hello operator – Short Version 2.53
  11. Out come the freaks (again) 4.36
  12. Tell me that I’m dreaming – 12″ Remix 7.50
  13. Out come the freaks – 12″ Remix 7.10
  14. (Return to the valley) Of Out come the freaks – Semi/Historic 1983 Version 4.18
  15. Christmas time in Motor City 2.54
  16. Out come the freaks (Dub) – Dub Version 6.32

As you can see this is the first album with some extras. Still to come is “Woodwork Squeaks”

The Fifth Album - July 12th, 2003

David tells me “The new Was (Not Was) album is forthcoming, probably by spring of 2003, godlessness willing.”

That Was Then - July 10th, 2002

David and Don are back writing music for TV. This time the show is “That Was Then”. David will be writing the theme with Don, and will be scoring the incidental music for the show himself.

The Education Of Max Bickford - December 17th, 2001

David was let go from making the music for this CBS. New producers who were brought in to make the show ‘warmer and fuzzier’ replaced him with one who more suited their ideas.

The Fifth Album - September 1st, 2001

David reports that working on the Max Bickford show togther with Don has given him the final impetus to finish this album.

The Education Of Max Bickford - September 1st, 2001

David and Don are creating the music for this show on CBS. David is scoring most of the music, while
Don is producing songs for Richard Dreyfuss’ on-screen daughter,
whose storyline is that of an aspiring rock n roll singer. They have both writen the theme music.

Thanks to Beth for this news.

The Fifth Album - September 26th, 2000

David and Don are working on a fifth album, it has the working title of “BOO!”
One track is called “Green Pills In The Dresser” and features Kris Kristofferson.

A record deal is close to being finalised.

We’re Semi-Official - September 4th, 2000

David Was finds the site and gives his love and blessing.

Was (Not Was) on Amazon

WorldWideWas Site Search

Discography Search

Enter your search criteria:

In the:
Song Title
Record Release Name
Catalog Number

Discography Browse

Choose to browse:

Help Required

I would love any information you have on Was (Not Was) for inclusion on this site. Photos, discography details, concert reviews, etc. If you think you have something that I could use please let me know.

Site designed, built and maintained by SimpleSites

Please Report Any Errors

Domain name - provided by Paul. Thank you!

Valid XHTML 1.0!
Valid CSS!