• Season 1, Ep 244

Linda Perry Fights For Her Version Of "What's Up"

After joining 4 Non Blondes Linda Perry and music producer David Tickle disagree over how the song "What's Up" should be written and performed.

07/16/2014 · 4:15

And along with drummer, WandaDay, the four women became

4 Non Blondes.


♪ Can't you helpme, find my way? ♪

♪ 1, 2, 3!

We hadn't been playing threemonths, and the clubs were full.

We built afollowing really fast.

It's like people werewaiting for us or something.

Interscope Records took notice, and in the summer of '91,

the band inked a deal.

As they jumped into the studio, they changed their line-up,

bringing in drummer Dawn Richardson,

and guitarist Roger Rocha.

[guitar music]

But almost immediately, Linda began feuding

with producer David Tickle.

Linda started tochallenge David.

And rather than just listen, andtry and accommodate her,

or just even be experimentalwith her, and have fun,

he would just dig in, and digin, and, they started to really

butt heads.


♪ And pretend thatI'm a space man, ♪

♪ in another place and time.

The tension escalated when David started re-working one

of Linda's prize songs, a crowd pleaser during

their live shows called "What's Up?"

That was our breadand butter, that song.

That was a bigchance to be a hit song.

I'm like, all right, I'mjust gonna do what I'm told.

You want me to shutup, I'll shut up.

I shut up when I heardthe marching drum

pttt tat tat tat tattat tat tat tat.


♪ What's going on?

I shut up when David was tryingto get me to rewrite the lyrics.

I shut up whenthe solo showed up.

Ree rooor, overthe marching drum.

I shut up throughthe whole ----- thing,

until his vision was done.

He totally over cooked it.

Linda was upset, felt likeDavid had destroyed her song.

It lost its magic.

It lost its sense of emotion.

I cried.

There's no way a marchingdrum solo, different lyrics.

I'm like, this guy's on crack.

There's, this isnot the song I wrote.

Linda refused to back down, taking her fight all the way to

label president, Jimmy Iovine.

Jimmy Iovine listened to David'sversion, and listened to our old

demo version, and said, Ilike the demo version better.

So we ended up going up to astudio in northern California

and re-recordingthat song, in one day.

[guitar music]

Everything went right back tothe original way I wrote it.

And then, we mix it that night,and it gets on the record.

That's the one thatsold 7 million records.

That's the one thatwas all over the radio.

That's the onethat got successful.

That version.


♪ Twenty five yearsand my life is still, ♪

♪ trying to get up thatgreat big hill of hope. ♪

♪ For a destination.

"What's Up?" dropped in the fall of 1992,

and was an international sensation,

topping the charts in eight different countries.

It also drove multi-platinum sales of 4 Non Blondes debut

album, "Bigger, Better, Faster, More!"

The anthem of teenage alienationconnected with young fans,

and inspired one13-year-old in particular.

That record was huge for me.

♪ I am feeling alittle peculiar ♪

Being in pain, and being ondrugs, and being misunderstood,

yeah, she spoke my language.

Without having to say anything,she could sing a note,

and it was what I was feeling.

♪ And I scream from the top ofmy lungs "What's going on?" ♪

That was a huge part ofme getting into songwriting.

♪ And I said, "Hey, ay,ay, ay, hey, ay, ay." ♪

♪ I said, "Hey,what's going on?" ♪

Red hot, 4 Non Blondes went on a sold out tour with Aerosmith.

Linda Perry had finally arrived.