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Welcome to Appetite for Discussion -- a Guns N' Roses fan forum!

Please feel free to look around the forum as a guest, I hope you will find something of interest. If you want to join the discussions or contribute in other ways then you need to become a member. We especially welcome anyone who wants to share documents for our archive or would be interested in translating or transcribing articles and interviews.

Registering is free and easy.


2012.01.DD - Metal Sludge - Interview with Marc Canter

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2012.01.DD - Metal Sludge - Interview with Marc Canter Empty 2012.01.DD - Metal Sludge - Interview with Marc Canter

Post by Blackstar Fri Jan 28, 2022 8:04 pm

Marc Canter penned “Reckless Road” – now he talks to Metal Sludge about his family deli history & music from Elvis Presley to Guns N’ Roses!

By Gerry Gittelson
Metal Sludge Contributor

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — Rock and roll is not just about great bands and great music, it’s also about great places in hang out, especially in Los Angeles, the rock capital of the world.

For the longest time, a top rock and roll hangout, besides the Rainbow of course, has been Canter’s Deli on Fairfax Avenue a few blocks off the Sunset Strip – for decades the only decent 24-hour eatery near Hollywood.

After a evening filled with sex, drugs in rock and roll, it was always nice to enjoy Canter’s trademark soups, pastrami and baked goods as the morning sun beckoned.

From Elvis Presley to Marilyn Monroe to Ringo Starr to Muhammad Ali to Led Zeppelin to Van Halen to Prince to Guns N’ Roses (the deli’s pet band when they were just starting up), they’ve all been regulars at the famed restaurant founded in 1924 before eventually moving to its current spot in 1948.

Marc Canter, the youngest family descendent who’s been working at Canter’s all his life, is a huge rock fan, not to mention a noted live photographer and author of the book Reckless Road, which chronicles Canter’s life with Guns N’ Roses and the band’s meteoric rise to fame.

Canter was Slash’s best friend growing up, but even more so, Canter always believed in Guns N’ Roses, even backing the band financially in the beginning before the group eventually signed with Geffen and sold millions of records.

In this exclusive interview, joined in by legendary scenemaker Rodney Bingenheimer – who happened to being hanging out at Canter’s that night – Mark talks in Part 1 about how the Jewish deli has become synonymous with the music industry in-crowd all these years. In Part 2, it’s all about Guns N’ Roses, and Metal Sludge readers are going to LOVE some brand new details about the band – then and now.

METAL SLUDGE: Canter’s has been around a long time. What’s the secret to success?

Marc Canter: Well, it was the original 24-hour place. There were only one or two others, and they were downtown, and we were in Hollywood. We catered to a lot of film industry folk. They’d work till 10 at night, and come, or they’d go out and have fun, then come here at 1 or 2 in the morning. Plus, CBS was across the street, and there was a big Jewish crowd.

METAL SLUDGE: And really good food, too. What’s always been the most popular items?

Marc Canter: A lot of corned beef and pastrami, lox on a bagel, matzo ball soup. We gave a Matzo ball the size of a baseball, and that was our gimmick – the biggest matzo balls. In the 60s, it was sort of a hippie haven. I remember my grandpa installed special lights so no one could smoke pot in the dark corners, because that wouldn’t be good for business. But every morning, the bakery, everything that had sugar in it, was sold out by the morning. There would always be a few things leftover, but never anything with sugar in it. [laughs]

METAL SLUDGE: Who would come in during the early days?

Marc Canter: Well, in like ’58 and ’59, Elvis Presley would play the old Pan Pacific Auditorium, and everyone would come here after. Jeff Beck still comes here. I bumped into him the other day, and he was saying how after the Yardbirds would play the Whisky, and back then he and the guys would always come to Canter’s. It was a great place, a lot of rock and roll bands.

You can ask Rodney Bingenheimer, you know Rodney on the Roq. He’s right over there [pointing]. He has his own table, he comes in every night. [Rodney Bingenheimer joins].

Metal Sludge: Rodney, you come here every night? That’s weird, I remember you used to come to Denny’s on Sunset every day at 1 p.m. But there’s no more Denny’s.

Rodney Bingenheimer: Yeah, I like the barley soup. You know what they say: All roads lead to Canter’s.

Metal Sludge: Who have you seen here?

Bingenheimer: Echo & The Bunnymen, the Go-Go’s, the Bangles. I used to meet Susanna Hoffs right there [points]. Nick Cage had his first date with Lisa Marie Presley here. Michael Jackson, I remember he was here in 1982 but he was hiding.

Metal Sludge: What about Van Halen?

Marc Canter: Van Halen used to come on a daily basis, especially David Lee Roth. David Lee Roth is a really good tipper.

Metal Sludge: Really? Who else is a good tipper?

Marc Canter: Ace Frehley. He’s the best. Last time he was here, his bill was 56 dollars, and he tipped to make it 112. He could have left a $100 bill, but he made a point to give double the check. That’s the ultimate, especially when you consider he kind of got the short end of the stick in Kiss.

Metal Sludge: What about the others in Kiss?

Marc Canter: Gene Simmons comes all the time, but he never sits in the restaurant. He always orders stuff to go, stuff from the bakery, and picks it up. Yeah, he was here all the time but never sits down. I haven’t seen him in two or three years though, but I’m not always here at night anymore.

Metal Sludge: This is very interesting stuff. Was there ever a big star who ran out without paying their bill?

Marc Canter: Rodney Dangerfield. But he didn’t mean to, he was just too drunk. He ate, he had his check in his hand, then he ordered some stuff from the (takeout) deli, he paid for that food, but he walked out with the check. He got all the way to his car, and the waitress tracked him down, and he was like, “Sorry about that, here’s 50 bucks.”

Metal Sludge: What about the healing powers of chicken soup. Do you believe in it?

Marc Canter: Absolutely. The first thing is the placebo effect, because so much of it is psychological. If you think chicken soup is good for you and it’s going to make you feel better, then of course your brain is going to do that. But second, if you’re tired, or if you’re sore, chicken soup is comfort food. Maybe there’s no medical evidence, but it works. I mean, doctors from Cedars come in here and get it, so maybe it’s not just myth.

Metal Sludge: Has the paparazzi ever been an issue here?

Mark Canter: Mick Jagger once got caught by the front door here. He was just passing by and maybe he ducked in here to hide, but when he got here, he ordered a chicken soup and a cup of tea. I think the only one we’ve ever had to use the backdoor for was Taylor Swift. With twitter and all that stuff, sometimes they just have you. It was weird.

Metal Sludge: Canter’s does have a lot of history.

Marc Canter: Yeah, I think it really came alive in the 60s. A lot of people were afraid of hippies, but we gave them respect. Ray Manzarek from the Doors told me some great stories from back in the day. And Gary Busey, I bumped into him recently, and he told me he signed his first record deal in 1966 at Canter’s.

The best was Frank Zappa. He would come in late at night with three or four people, and the party at his table would build. An hour or two into it, some of the guys from the Turtles would come in, or Mamas and Papas. And the table would keep revolving, and Frank would leave and come back the next day, and his table would still be going but with different people, and he would sit back down again.

Rodney Bingenheimer: I was here. I remember a lot of this stuff. Kim Fowley and Andy Dick. I was here with Kato Kaelin, from the O.J. Simpson case, and the song came on, “Hey Joe, What’s that glove in your hand.” I’ve been here with Dylan, both Dylans, Bob Dylan and Jacob Dylan from the Wallflowers.

Metal Sludge: OK, we’re going to save the Guns N’ Roses part for Part 2, ‘cause we know you were a key part of the early rise of Guns N’ Roses and that the band spent a lot of time at this restaurant and ate a lot of meals here. But real quick, every guy in Guns N’ Roses, what was their favorite thing to order, their favorite entrée that they ordered every time?

Marc Canter: OK. Well, Slash used to always, always, always have the pastrami, but now he only has corned beef. Axl would always order tuna sandwich or sometimes pastrami. Steve Adler always ordered pastrami “Brooklyn-style,” which means cole slaw and Russian dressing on the sandwich. Duff was always the barley soup. Sometimes he got other entrees, like burgers or a few other things, but he always has the barley soup. Izzy I don’t remember, but I think pastrami. They all like pastrami because sometimes, they wouldn’t come in but I would bring them a bag of sandwiches, and it was always a bag of pastrami sandwiches. Pastrami, they never turned it down. That much I know for sure.


“Axl Rose will never change. He does what he believes. He won’t sell himself short. It’s victory or death.”

By Gerry Gittelson
Metal Sludge Contributor

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — OK, here we are with part 2 of Metal Sludge’s exclusive interview with Marc Canter’s of the famous Canter’s restaurant in Hollywood – the famed 24-hour deli of the stars including most of the world’s most famous rock musicians through the years. You can read part 1 right HERE

We left off with Guns N’ Roses, and what each band member likes to order at Canter’s.

But the relationship between Marc Canter and the band, particularly Slash, actually goes way back. The restaurateur and the guitarist grew up together, went to school together, and even made a pact together that Marc would help support Slash and Guns N’ Roses financially and in other ways.

And though Canter, who would go on to write the book RECKLESS ROAD about his relationship with Guns N’ Roses and the band’s rise to fame, was more of a benefactor than an investor, he did keep track of the forwarded monies. Did Guns N’ Roses pay Canter back? Keep reading …

Metal Sludge: So take us back. How did you first meet Slash?

Marc Canter: It’s a funny story. We were in elementary school together but didn’t know really each other, and one day I parked my mini-bike in front of KFC – and Slash was trying to rip it off, I think, kind of circling around it. Then, I came out, and he recognized me from school, so he didn’t want to steal it, but he asked if he could ride it, and I said, “Of course.” And we became friends.

Metal Sludge: Was there any early spark about the kid? Did you think he was going to be a star one day?

Marc Center: Oh yes. He was incredibly talented from the very beginning. I noticed it in his drawings – in elementary school, he could make drawings of dinosaurs and snakes. In about 1978, he was doing BMX stuff on his bike before there was BMX. He would go off jumps.

Metal Sludge: So he was really athletic?

Marc Canter: Very, very athletic. I remember I raced him, and Slash was super fast, like super human fast. Even at 13 or 14, he was fastest kid on the block. If you would race him from a starting point to three houses, he would be finished before you crossed the second house. He was the strongest kid on the block, too.

Metal Sludge: What about musically? Do you remember when Slash first learned to play guitar?

Marc Canter: Yes. After two or three months, he sounded like Eric Clapton. By the way, did you know Slash worked at Canter’s?

Metal Sludge: Really?

Marc Canter: Yeah, I gave him a job. By 1982, we were best friends, and I kind of created a job for him, based on what I was kind of doing for the restaurant back then. He would go through all the waitresses’ checks and make sure they were run up properly on the cash register. There were no computers back then. In fact, we still don’t have computers at Canter’s. But it was Slash’s job to go through everything and make sure all the pieces fit together.

Metal Sludge: At some point, Guns N’ Roses formed. What was your involvement?

Marc Canter: I was constantly bankrolling the band because he was my friend, and because Slash had really good talent. At some points, he or the band would pay me back, a little here and a little there. I helped with flyers, did photos, that sort of thing.

Metal Sludge: Dude, didn’t anyone ever tell you that investing in a rock band is crazy? Surely you must have had second thoughts about this, Marc.

Marc Canter: They were my friends. If they weren’t my friends, I still would have done it. I saw a band that could do wrong. I thought they could be the next Led Zeppelin.

Metal Sludge: Were you a millionaire?

Marc Canter: Oh no. The restaurant business is tight. My family might have millions, put only in the property. The profit margin is really, really tight in the restaurant business. They’re just happy employing 140 employees. Canter’s has never raised prices unless we really had to. I was getting paid $300 a week in those days, and 80 percent was going to the band – like almost all my money. That wasn’t easy because I had a girlfriend, too, but I definitely saw good things in the band.

Metal Sludge: There is that famous picture of Guns N’ Roses in a booth at Canter’s, looking all played out.

Marc Canter: That was right after they returned from their infamous, ill-fated tour to Seattle, when their car broke down and they were like starving for two weeks before one of Duff’s friends drove everyone back to Los Angeles. But that tour bonded them, they were like blood brothers after that, and the photo is when they came back and came to Canter’s for a meal. I actually didn’t take that picture, my friend did. But everyone thinks I took it. But the one thing about that photo is it says 1,000 words.

Metal Sludge: Guns N’ Roses was so well known for misbehaving. Did they ever misbehave at Canter’s?

Marc Canter: No, they always showed respect. Oh, except for one time, I left them alone for a minute, Slash and Axl, and the next thing I know there’s a food fight, and there’s food all over the wall. I was so angry, I was streamed. The only thing I could do was grab a whipped-cream pie and smash it into their face. But that was 1984, before Guns N’ Roses, because there was Hollywood Rose and L.A. Guns and a few other formations.

Metal Sludge: Did you do drugs with the band?

Marc Canter: Oh no. I might have smoked a little bit of pot when I was a little kid like 12 to 15, but nothing like that, no heroin or anything like that. I would break their heads. I was like their mother, so they always hid that from me. Slash, I knew he was a drinker, and Axl had no vices at all. Then, all of sudden, in 1986, the summer of ’86 in June, July, August, some time around then, Slash started doing dope, and it really pissed me off. I told him to stop.

In fact, that’s when I cut them off. Morally, I couldn’t put any more money in at that point if they were doing heroin, so I cut them off. They would call me, ask me to bring them food from taco bell or something, and I was like, “I’m not going to do it.” The logic might have been a little screwed up, but by then they had so many others like strippers who would give them money and feed them. I told them to get their support from all these strippers they used to hang out with, and they said OK. [laughs] But we were still friends. They would still come to Canter’s, and I would feed them, but they never took advantage of it. They would never do something like that to me.

It was a little later when I first heard the song “Welcome to the Jungle.” It had such a groove, that’s when I knew they were going to be millionaires one day. I was like, “Wait a minute. That’s a hit.”

Metal Sludge: At that point, how much money had you put in?

Marc Canter: Well, there were two tabs. I actually kept track of everything. Slash owed me $3,000 or $4,000, and the band owed me $4,300. I never asked for the money back, but then I was getting married a few years later in 1989, so I told Slash, “Hey, I need that money,” and Slash gave me $10,000, but that was actually just supposed to be his tab. I guess he paid me interest! I think at this point, he was worth a few million, but he only had like $600,000 cash, I think, because you know how the music industry works – you get paid like six months later. But to make a long story short, Axl has given me some incredible gifts, too, and I’ve been paid back many times over. He would send me things like DVD players when no one had DVD players, all the latest stuff, and every birthday a big gift would always come – Axl never forgot a birthday or an occasion.

He liked the way my wife would cut his hair, so he would fly us in to places like Cleveland so he could get his hair cut, even though he had other guys that would do that. On “Use Your Illusion,” Guns N’ Roses had a pinball machine, so they sent me one of the pinball machines. I still have it.

Or he would fly us to New York and we would stay at the Ritz for four nights, all paid for.

In 2001, he flew my wife and I out to Rio. I brought along a hard salami from Canter’s because I knew he would appreciate it. We cut it up and made sandwiches in his hotel room. With some rugelach cookies, too.

Metal Sludge: So Axl was a loyal friend?

Marc Canter: Very loyal. He came to my wedding on March 4, 1989 at the Hilton Hotel, and he wore a suit, gave us a $200 gift certificate from Shaper Image and played the piano at the wedding. It’s on my wedding video. He played “November Rain” at my wedding two years before the song came out – I think I actually first heard it in 1985 – which is weird because there’s a wedding scene in the “November Rain” video. The funny thing is, of course we were all wondering if Axl was going to be late to my wedding because you know Axl, he’s always late, but Axl Rose was on time to my wedding. And like I said, he was wearing a suit. Slash showed up, too, but he was wearing a leather jacket. He was dressed as himself! [laughs]

Axl is 100 percent about what he sees in his head as right and wrong. During the riots in 1991, I was on the roof with guns, protecting Canter’s, our property, because they were burning places down, and Axl called my wife and asked how Canter’s was doing. He was said he was on the way, but my wife told him we were OK. He also offered to send the Guns N’ Roses security team to Canter’s to help me.

Metal Sludge: Do the Guns N’ Roses guys still come to Canter’s?

They do. Duff was here not long ago, and I still covered the bill. He was here for lunch, and he tried to take the check but I took the check, so he plopped down $20 for the waitress. He’s sold 100 million records, but he is also rich from investing in Starbucks and Windows in the beginning. At one time, I think Duff had invested $50,000 in Starbucks and it was worth something like $18 million.

Metal Sludge: What about Axl?

Axl hasn’t been here in about two years. We had a little falling out because he did not want me to put the book out until after “Chinese Democracy” came out. He had told me that, so he’s a little disappointed in me. We’re not enemies or anything like that, but we do have a few things to talk about about because he’s upset over a couple of issues.

He’ll never change. He’s always the same. He does what he believes. He won’t sell himself short. It’s victory or death.

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