In addition to recording his players' in-game conversations, New York Knicks owner James Dolan has been known to lay down some tracks in the studio as frontman of the "blues" band JD and the Straight Shot. While Dolan's band has only occasionally covered his work with the Knicks, it's safe to say that the majority of the band's fame comes from his off-stage associations. Nevertheless, when it comes to NBA owners with somewhat embarrassing musical careers, Dolan stands above all others.
However, it looks like a new challenger has emerged. After years as a budding amateur guitarist and benefactor of various music-oriented causes, billionaire Microsoft cofounder and Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen will release his first album on August 6 via the Legacy Recordings imprint of Sony Music. From Randy Lewis for the Los Angeles Times (via Blazersedge):
“Everywhere at Once” is the introductory effort from Paul Allen and the Underthinkers. Allen, in case you’re wondering, is the same Paul Allen who back in 1975 created a little venture called Microsoft with his pal Bill Gates.
Allen, who also owns the Portland Trailblazers basketball team, has always been a music aficionado and an accomplished amateur guitarist who used a chunk of his Microsoft fortune to start the Experience Music Project museum in Seatte.
Now he’s assembled a debut album with his band, with a lot of help from other friends, including Heart’s Ann and Nancy Wilson, the Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde, Joe Walsh, Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo, Derek Trucks, Doyle Bramhall II and Neville Brothers scion Ivan Neville.
It’s no mere vanity project for the 60-year-old billionaire -- all proceeds will go to support educational programs at the nonprofit EMP.
“I’ve rarely gone a week without picking up a guitar,” Allen wrote in his bestselling 2011 memoir, “Idea Man. “It’s more than a hobby; it gives me balance and keeps me in the moment, which can be a challenge with all the projects I’m pursuing at any one time… I take music with me wherever I go.”
It's nice that Allen can find this release from his hectic lifestyle. Sometimes, when nabbing coveted superyacht docking spaces gets to be too much, a man has to sit back and rock out with some very famous friends.
Yet, with all due respect, to Mr. Lewis, this album is essentially the definition of a vanity project. Allen might be a very good guitarist, but it's pretty clear that this album only exists because he has ungodly amounts of money. While it's nice that he's giving any proceeds to charity, he also likely put up the costs of production himself, which means he easily could have given the money directly to these causes if that were the ultimate goal. Allen made the album because he wanted to record a bunch of tracks with classic rock stars, and any other justification seems a little silly.
Of course, if this project is about Allen's ego, it'd also be interesting to hear if Dolan feels threatened by this record. Do JD and the Straight Shot consider this their turf? Is he offended that Chrissie Hynde wouldn't appear on any of his songs? Or is Dolan a musical purist who considers the competition immaterial when groovy tunes can be so powerful?