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I Wanna Be Curated

The Ramones are coming to Yale. So are the Doors, Iggy Pop, the Beatles, and uncounted (or at least, as-yet uncatalogued) more rock and pop culture stars of the 1960s and ’70s.

They’re coming in boxes, on paper and film and cassette tape, as part of the archives of punk rock pioneer Danny Fields, acquired by the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

A photographer, writer, publicist, and businessman, Fields discovered the Ramones, according to Wikipedia, and later managed the band. He also managed Iggy and the Stooges, whose signing he recommended to the Elektra label. Publicist for The Doors, friend of Andy Warhol and Linda McCartney, Fields was “handmaiden to the gods,” John Cameron Mitchell says in a trailer for Danny Says, a documentary-in-the-making.

Okay, cool. But the Beinecke? Repository of the papers of Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, and James Baldwin, not to mention a Gutenberg Bible?

“Beinecke Library is, at its core, interested in the creative process,” Timothy Young, curator of modern books and manuscripts, says in an e-mail. “That’s what writers’ papers reveal, in essence.”

Identifying Fields as an “arbiter of culture,” Young says: “As a photographer, he captured some of the key iconic moments in rock history. As a manager, he introduced the world to a new kind of music. As a writer, he explores the deeper stories behind public lives. His papers fit into the group of archives of important writers at Beinecke who were also invested in shaping their worlds.”

The library has received only part of Fields’s archives so far, and hasn’t yet catalogued it. But, Young says, the collection includes photographs; “records related to the Ramones, such as tour lists, notes made while on tour, some correspondence; copies of magazines containing writings by Danny; drafts of the texts of books about Linda McCartney and Cyrinda Foxe; and audiotapes.”

When Young pitched his colleagues on the prospect of acquiring Fields’s archives, he writes, “I was met with silence, which I didn’t know how to interpret—until our curator of medieval manuscripts broke the spell and said, ‘Original Ramones material? Of course!’ They were all so amazed at the scope of the collection that they just needed a few minutes to take it all in.”

The attraction is mutual. Fields—a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and a Harvard Law dropout—tells Billboard magazine that he made a deal with the Beinecke “for posterity, but also because Yale has always been the sexiest of American universities.”


The Yale Alumni Magazine is published by Yale Alumni Publications Inc., an alumni-based nonprofit that is not run by Yale University. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration.

Filed under Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, punk rock, Danny Fields
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