Barbara Walters elicits tears from A-list celebrities. Oprah Winfrey pulls out their deepest insecurities and feelings. And famed newsman Dan Rather conducts intimate fireside chats (minus the homey hearth) with music icons in The Big Interview.
Season nine of Rather’s hour-long Q&A sessions premieres Wednesday, April 14 at 8 pm ET on AXS TV with Lady A vocalist Hillary Scott and her husband, drummer Chris Tyrell in the hot seat. Due to pandemic constraints, Rather filmed most of this season’s six episodes virtually, with an emphasis on musical families – since most of the subjects were cooped up at home together anyway.
Rather’s knack for drawing out more than pat responses should make for intriguing conversations with Creedence Clearwater Revival founder John Fogerty and his children; the first couple of Americana music, Grammy winners Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires; rapper Lil Jon alongside his DJ son Slade; and “A Thousand Miles” songstress Michelle Branch with her husband, Patrick Carney of The Black Keys.
Use the link at the bottom of this page to brush up on your music history by watching past episodes of The Big Interview on demand through AXS TV with a Blue or Orange subscription on Sling. Here are five of our favorites:
Can we all agree Dolly Parton is a national treasure? If the minor role she played in the development of a COVID-19 vaccine wasn’t enough to earn her the mantle, then please look at her roster of bona fide classic songs, her unexpected, yet solid acting career and her commitment to childhood literacy. Her heart of gold has always been visible underneath her bouffant hair and sequined bosom. Parton’s trademark candor takes center stage for an illuminating hour of tidbits from her past, including why her husband of over 50 years shuns the spotlight.
Huey Lewis, the man behind peppy hits such as “The Power of Love,” “Hip to Be Square,” and “I Want a New Drug” divulges he considered suicide when he started losing his hearing from Meniere’s disease. It’s a sobering detail in a career full of joyous music and a party atmosphere at sold-out concerts. Will Lewis perform onstage again? How does one cope with the potential obliteration of a monumentally successful career? Lewis doesn’t have any answers, but he’s trying to remain content with the questions.
“Everybody I talk to, including the doctors, say, ‘Look, just be positive, get on with your life. Be creative, don’t despair and your body will take care of itself,’” he says.
The former White Stripes frontman has made Nashville his home base for so long, it’s easy to forget he was once synonymous with Detroit rock. White explains to Rather why mainstream success with the Stripes made it nearly impossible to remain in Motor City.
“Our music was getting out to a lot more people. It was very hard for people around… to understand how to relate to it. It was definitely hard for me to understand how to relate back to everybody,” he says.
White also reveals he was headed to a seminary in Wisconsin to become a priest in his early days. The rock ‘n’ roll landscape would sure look different if he took that path.
The Band’s Robbie Robertson
Does the story about Bob Dylan going electric in 1965 ever get boring? The answer is no. Even biographers telling the tale, which has now reached mythical heights, is riveting. So, imagine an account from a man who was actually there for all the booing, insults and near-fainting. Guitarist Robbie Robertson stood next to Dylan for every heckle. It seems so silly now that anyone would fault Dylan for getting loud, but hindsight is 20/20. Robertson also details his tumultuous relationship with fellow Band member Levon Helm.
Even in his seventh decade, the Led Zeppelin frontman still boasts a mop of semi-golden ringlets and a semi-golden voice. An hour isn’t nearly enough time to tread through his early days meeting Jimmy Page and the current iteration of the Sensational Shape Shifters (the Zep years deserve a special of its own). Plant talks about his influences, whether music is a craft or a profession and why “Kashmir” is one of his favorite Led Zeppelin songs.
The Big Interview with Dan Rather premieres Wednesday, April 14 at 8 pm ET on AXS TV.