Q&A with Greek writer/journalist Dinos Dimatatis - researcher of rock music and great music collector

"Rock music is a musical style that has a revolutionary quality and it will always be a weapon against politics and social injustice."

Dinos Dimatatis: All You Need Is Rock

Dinos Dimatatis is a lawyer, a journalist, a writer, a researcher of the Greek rock music and a great music collector. He has written five reference books on the Greek rock music and a biography of Pavlos Sidiropoulos- the so called ‘the Greek Jim Morrison’. He lives in Thessaloniki, Greece.

Greek writer Dinos Dimatatis talks about his books, local Greek scene, Rock n' Roll culture, Alex Harvey, Steppenwolf, and The Beatles.

Interview by Michael Limnios

How has the rock’ n roll counterculture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

From an early age I was influenced by rock’ n roll and especially the British music scene and bands such as the Searchers, the Who, the Kinks, the Hollies and obviously the Rolling Stones and the Beatles. However, what really shook me up was a film with Joey Dee I saw when I was young. From that moment on the rock just rolled into my blood!

In the 80s many times I would go down to Athens or abroad to see different concerts and, of course I would never miss the ones given in Thessaloniki, my hometown.

What were the reasons that you started the Get that Beat? What was the hardest part of writing this book?

The reason for writing books on the Greek rock music was the fact that before the 90s there was no book ever written on that exceptional and heroic scene. Actually, in the three books entitled ‘Get that Beat’ I recorded the whole scene from the 60s to 2013. The most difficult part was to write about the 70s, because for a long period during that decade a big number of music magazines had closed down. In addition, the record companies back then not only were they willing to help but they lacked the necessary information and materials. Because of that continuous research I almost had a nervous breakdown. But this is rock’ n’ roll, after all, isn’t it?

Which acquaintances have been the most important experiences? What were the most important experiences? What was the best advice anyone gave you?

Becoming acquainted with a musician has always been good for me. I have got to know many musicians all these years but those that I came close to was John Kay, Alex Harvey, Ansley Dunbar and Paul Jones among others. I didn’t actually get any advice but once I was asked by a musician how many records I’ve got and I asked back: ‘Do you know how many hairs are there on the human head?!!”

"From an early age I was influenced by rock’ n roll and especially the British music scene and bands such as the Searchers, the Who, the Kinks, the Hollies and obviously the Rolling Stones and the Beatles. However, what really shook me up was a film with John Dee I saw when I was young. From that moment on the rock just rolled into my blood!" (Photo: Dinos Dimatatis & Alex Harvey, Athens Greece 1981)

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, interviews and live concerts which you’d like to share with us?

A lot; it was in ’81 at the Steppenwolf concert in Thessaloniki which took place at the Palais des Sports. There were a lot of riots because too many people wanted to get in without paying and practically there wasn’t any window glass left on the building. As the band members were really terrified at the backstage I was trying to calm them down. After the concert, we took the group to a place where they could listen to live Greek music (bouzoukia). As the band was standing at the entrance they heard a loud noise of plate smashing and they got so terrified because they thought there were riots again! But when we explained that this is simply a Greek custom they were very much relieved.

Also I spent four days with Alex Harvey. There were some unbelievable happenings. While his band was playing Zorba the Greek he got off the stage and grabbed a policeman to dance syrtaki together!!

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

I mostly miss the big bands and the musicians of the past. And it’s so sad because almost every year we’re losing one of them. Today the music groups are repeating the music of the previous decades, just as it happens with fashion. Naturally, every generation has its own idols. However, the glorious 60s and 70s are never to return…

If you could change one thing in the music world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

To be able to go back in time and fill in the cities with record shops.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your paths in local music circuit?

That the young musicians should have faith in and passion for their talent as well as always struggle to find new ideas.

"I mostly miss the big bands and the musicians of the past. And it’s so sad because almost every year we’re losing one of them. Today the music groups are repeating the music of the previous decades, just as it happens with fashion. Naturally, every generation has its own idols. However, the glorious 60s and 70s are never to return…" (Photo: Dinos Dimatatis' books)

What is the impact of music and rock culture to the racial, political and social-cultural implication?

Rock music is a musical style that has a revolutionary quality and it will always be a weapon against politics and social injustice.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?

One day with the Beatles!

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