Time Line: 1986 - 1990

Jan. 30, '86 Session with Matt Mahurin for "Rolling Stone". A picture was printed in in the photo book "Rolling Stone, the photographs", 1989
Feb. '86 TV appearance for "Late Night With David Letterman, NBC". New York/ USA. Also lists as December '85 and November 20/ 21, '85
'84 Released: The Asylum Years, Asylum/ WEA. (LP and MC, the CD was released in 1986). Waits had already left Elektra-Asylum for Island
Cover for the album The Asylum Years. Cover painting by John Baeder, 1976
Apr. 1, '86 Released: five 30-second videoclips promoting the album Rain Dogs. Filmed early 1986 in Chinatown/ San Francisco (USA). Directed by Chris Blum. Further reading: Rain Dogs
Early '86 Released: movie "Down By Law" directed by Jim Jarmusch (shot on location in New Orleans/ USA, in 1985). With Waits in a leading role as DJ Zack. On the soundtrack: "Jockey Full Of Bourbon" and "Tango Till They're Sore". Jarmusch: "I wrote that movie with Tom and John in mind, there's a lot of Tom in his character. That whole bit about kicking out the window of a police car - I think Tom has had some experience with that."

Jay S. Jacobs (2000): "For the first time in his career, he met the challenge of creating a fully rounded, feature-length character, and he did it with skill and subtlety. He based his character on a DJ he'd listened to as a teen in National City. He was called Lonely Lee "Baby" Sims, and the station he worked for promoted his show by begging listeners to come and visit the man at work so he wouldn't be so alone. Eventually, Lee "Baby" moved on, disappearing from Waits's radio and entering his memory bank. When Waits took on the character Of DJ Zach, something stirred up that old memory, and he decided to give Zach the professional name of Lee "Baby" Sims. The problem was that Waits had made a false assumption. He figured that Sims had vanished from the scene long ago, that he was no longer "real." But, as Waits found out, "Lee 'Baby' Sims is one of the best-paid disc jockeys in the Western Hemisphere." Tom told O' Donohue, "I think he lives in Hawaii. I think he was trying to sue us after Down by Law came out. He didn't like being portrayed as a ne'er-do-well. There was no offense made or intended, honestly ... I had no idea that since I'm a kid he became this big sensation and he's a giant in the broadcasting world." He added, "No offense, Lee 'Baby' - it's all done with love and affection ... Don't sue me." (Source: "Wild Years: The Music and Myth of Tom Waits". Jay. S. Jacobs, ECW Press 2000)

'86 Released: 12" single: "Special Tom Waits promotion pack" by Island. With interview and "In The Neighborhood"
'86 Released: 12" single: "In The Neighborhood/ Jockey Full Of Bourbon/ Tango 'Till They're Sore (live)/ 16 Shells (live)" by Island. Released: 7" single: "In The Neighborhood/ Singapore/ Tango 'Till They're Sore (live)/ Rain Dogs (live)" by Island. Released: single: "In The Neighborhood/ Singapore" by Island. Released: single: "NME's Big Four/ Downtown Train"
'86 Released: compilation-CD: "The Asylum Years" by Elektra Entertainment (WEA). LP and MC were already released in 1984. Cover of the album: "The Asylum Years". Painting by: John Baeder (1976)
Jun. 10, '86 Press preview for the play "Frank's Wild Years" (The Steppenwolf Theatre Company). Chicago/ USA. Further reading: Franks Wild Years
Frank's Wild Years Steppenwolf play bill (cover)
Jun. 17-22,  '86 World premiere and theatrical debut. Three month run as Frank in the play: "Frank's Wild Years" at the "St. Briar Street Theatre", Chicago/ USA. The Steppenwolf Theatre. Further reading: Franks Wild Years

Jay S. Jacobs (2002): "Terry Kinney was set to direct Frank's Wild Years, but just a few weeks before it was scheduled to open, Kinney resigned (or was fired) over creative differences with Waits. Steppenwolf's head was actor Gary Sinise (who would later win an Oscar nomination for his supporting role in Forrest Gump and turn in strong performances in Apollo 13, Mission to Mars, Ransom, and Of Mice and Men). Sinise stepped into the breach and became Frank's director. There was some talk of retooling the production - building new stage sets - but by this point both time and money were in short supply. Waits remained calm. He told O' Donohue he felt that such turmoil was "normal. Sometimes the spark comes from a conflict of ideas. It's just wood and lights and people walking around until you somehow bang up against something, and something breaks, and something sparks, and something catches and then it has a life. Until then it's just on the page." The cast included Steppenwolf regulars Gary Cole, Moira Harris, Vince Viverito, Randall Arney, and Tom Irwin. Waits's touring band played Frank's band, and Teller (of Penn and Teller) worked up some magic tricks for Frank to perform. Frank, of course, was played by his creator, and Waits carried the production solidly on his shoulders. But the play remained in a state of flux; they tinkered with it constantly, even during its run. The reviews were decent, but there were no raves. Frank's Wild Years played Chicago's Briar Street Theater for three months." (Source: "Wild Years: The Music and Myth of Tom Waits". Jay. S. Jacobs, ECW Press 2000)

Jul. 11, '86 Radio appearance (interview) for "WXRT-FM Radio", Chicago/ USA
Jul. 12, '86 Concert appearance at the Vic Theatre, Chicago/ USA (!)
Late '86 Studio recordings of the songs from "Frank's Wild Years" the play in Chicago.
Barney Hoskyns (2009): "Once the play was over, Tom said, 'Well, why don't we just record?'" Ralph Carney remembers. "So we ended up staying in Chicago a couple more weeks and recording the album."... Tom knew that a record is a record and a show is a show," Ralph Carney says. "The way he works, a recording has to be a mystical experience. And the songs had to be done differently to make a conceptual sounding thing work properly." Keen to instill freshness into the proceedings, Waits pushed the musicians out of their comfort zones. "He'd try things like giving me a marimba," Ralph Carney remembers. "Greg Cohen went out and bought an alto horn, I bought a baritone horn, and Morris Tepper bought a cornet.” On the "bar room" version of "Innocent when You Dream” Carney played a barely detectable violin. "You never knew who was playing drums,“ Bill Schimmel adds. "We all got a chance. And a lot of times when you listen to the textures, you don't know who's playing what.” A couple of weeks into the sessions, Waits called Marc Ribot and asked him to come to Chicago. He also flew Francis Thumm and Larry Taylor in from LA to work on certain tracks. "Francis showed up and offered suggestions,” says Schimmel. "Not only did he have good ears for what he was doing but he knew his rock and roll." (Source: “Lowside Of The Road: A Life Of Tom Waits" by Barney Hoskyns. Faber/ Broadway, 2009)
Late '86 Shootings for the movie "Candy Mountain" by Rudy Wurlitzer. Directed by Robert Frank.
Oct. 4, '86 Concert appearance at the Beverly Theatre, Los Angeles/ USA (guest appearance at Elvis Costello "Wheel Of Fortune Tour")
Oct. 13, '86 Interview for: Bay Area Monthly magazine (nr. 243): "Tom Waits And Jim Jarmusch On 'Down By Law"
Nov. 22, '86 TV concert appearance at the "San Remo Festival (Club Tenco), Teatro Ariston", San Remo/ Italy (with Greg Cohen: upright bass). Roberto Benigni attended the festival. Aired on Italian television by: RAI DUE (L'altra America)
Video screenshot from "L'altra America"
'87 Released: the movie "Candy Mountain". Waits as rich guy Al Silk
'87 Released: "Smack My Crack - A Reading". Giorno Poetry Systems Records. with: "The Pontiac" (spoken word)
Mar. - Apr. '87 The Waits family moves from New York back to Los Angeles. In LA Waits prepares for the: "Frank's Wild Years-tour"
'87 Released: 12" single: "16 Shells/ Black Mariah/ Ruby's Arms", Island. Released: single: "16 Shells/ Black Mariah (live)", Island. Released: 12" single: "Hang On St. Christopher/ Hang On St. Christopher (instrumental)", Island
'87 Released: video for: "Blow, Wind Blow". With Val Diamond. Shot at The Chi Chi Club run by former "exotic dancer" Miss Keiko, on 438 Broadway in San Francisco. 

Tom Waits (1987): "Kathleen and I put together the ideas for it. It was done up there at the Chi Chi Club ... in [San Francisco's] North Beach. Miss Keiko's Chi Chi Club right there on Broadway next to Big Al's. I worked with a girl named Val Diamond, who played a doll. She drew eyeballs on the outside of her eyelids and wore a Spanish dress and I unscrewed one of her legs and pulled a bottle out of it. It's got some entertainment value." (Source: "Morning Becomes Eclectic": KCRW-FM, Deirdre O' Donohue. August, 1987)

Screenshot from the video for: "Blow, Wind Blow" w. Val Diamond
'87 Filmed and released MTV's: "The Best of the Cutting Edge, Volume II". Rhino/ USA (I.R.S.). With Tom Waits "Limo interview".
'87 Released: the first (German) Waits biography: "Wilde Jahre" (Wolke) by Clive Gray and Jurgen Dierking. Further reading: Bibliography
Mar. 24, '87 Concert radio appearance for "Snap" on KCRW, Santa Monica/ USA (?)
Jun. - Jul. '87 Shootings for the movie "Ironweed" (Hector Babenco) in Albany New York. With Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep. Shootings started in January. Waits as "Rudy the Kraut"

Tom Waits (1987): "I play a character called Rudy, I get hit in the head in the train yard with a big stick on a raid. I die in the emergency ward at the end from a hemorrhage or internal bleeding, brain damage, and exhaustion. It's all about ... alcohol, baptism, and redemption ... It was a good experience for me. I got a chance to work with great people. Well, in this one I was forced to drink against my will. Everybody was told, 'Cause it's part of the story. . .' So there was a lot of drinking going on." (Source: "Morning Becomes Eclectic": KCRW-FM, Deirdre O' Donohue. August, 1987)

Jun. - Jul. '87 Interview by Rip Rense "From The Set Of Ironweed, Tom Waits Talks To Rip Rense". for the New York Post/ USA
Aug. '87 Released: the album: "Frank's Wild Years", Island Records (some sources claim this to be August, 1987). Produced by: Tom Waits. It was recorded in LA. Collaboration with Kathleen (album is dedicated to her). First Waits record to be released on Compact Disc. Further reading: Franks Wild Years
Cover for the album: "Frank's Wild Years". Art direction by: Jeff Price. Photography by: J.B. Mondino
Sep. 30, '87 Guest appearance at the Coconut Grove, Hollywood/ USA (A Black and White Night, tribute to Roy Orbison. Organized by T-Bone Burnett).
Video screenshot from "A Black And White Night"
Oct. 87 Start tour promoting Frank's Wild Years: October 1987 - December 1987 (album released: March, 1987) Tom Waits: vocals, piano, bullhorn. Marc Ribot: guitars, banjos, trumpet. Willy Schwarz (from November 1, introduced as Willy 'the squeeze'): accordion, organ, keyboards. Ralph Carney: saxophones, clarinet, bass clarinet, marimba, violin, baritone horn, harmonica. Greg Cohen: upright/ electric bass, box electric. Michael Blair: drums, percussion. Further reading: Performances 1986-1990
Oct. 16, '87 TV appearance (interview) for "Late Night With David Letterman". New York/ USA
Video screenshot from the 1987 "Late Night With David Letterman" TV show
Dec. 87 End tour promoting Frank's Wild Years: October 1987 - December 1987. Further reading: Performances 1986-1990
Dec. '87 American release: the movie "Ironweed". Directed by Hector Babenco. Based on the Albany trilogy by William Kennedy. Shot in 1987. Waits and Kennedy met during the shootings for "The Cotton club". It is said Waits took some acting lessons for this part
May 20, '88 European premiere: the movie "Ironweed" (Hector Babenco). Odeon Haymarket London/ UK
Late Sep. '88 Premiere of the Big Time movie at Healdsburg's Raven Theater September 1988. A couple of months later it was released as a commercial VHS video tape with its accompanying album. Produced by Tom Waits and Kathleen Waits-Brennan. With two new studio tracks: "Falling Down" and "Strange Weather". Further reading: Big Time full story

Tom Waits (1988): "What we tried to avoid is having a concert film that felt like a stuffed bird. I tried to film it like a Mexican cockfight instead of air-conditioned concert footage. Some of it felt like it was shot through a safari rifle. You forget about the camera, which is what I was trying to do. But when you see yourself in concert, it rarely looks like the way you feel when you're up there. I thought I was much taller. I thought I looked like Robert Wagner ... if we had more money, we would have done the Rangoon gladiator sequences. And the shot of the audience holding up their matches and all that. We could have gotten the underwater ballet sequences, but it really would have been a different film, I think ... Now that it's completed, I would not have had my underwear coming out of the back of my pants like I did, but there's always something you want to change after it's over." (Source "Tom Waits and His Act", Rolling Stone magazine, David Sheff. October, 1988)

  L: cover for the album "Big Time". R: cover for the "Big Time" video
Late Sep. '88 Released: the sheet music book: "Big Time" (Beekman Publishing/ Amsco Publications). Further reading: Bibliography
'88 Released: the sheet music book: "Anthology" (Amsco Publications). Further reading: Bibliography
Sep. - Oct. '88 About 250 radio-stations air a Frito-Lay commercial (SalsaRio Doritos) featuring a cover of the song "Step Right Up" performed by Waits impersonator Stephen Carter. Further reading: Copyright
Oct. 03, '88 Radio interview for "KCRW-FM (Morning Becomes Eclectic)". Santa Monica/ USA. it is said that this is where Waits first heard the Frito-Lay commercial
Oct. 05, '88 TV appearance (interview) for "Late Night With David Letterman", New York/ USA
Oct. 22, '88 Interview in London with Bert van der Kamp for Dutch magazine OOR: "Tom Waits Territorium". Waits telling about the time he was arrested by customs in Holland
Oct. 31, '88 Interview for Rapido TV show. BBC TV-6 (UK), presented by Antoine De Caunes. Steppenwolf theatre. Chicago/ USA
Screenshot from Rapido interview. Steppenwolf theatre. Chicago/ USA. October 31, 1988
Nov. '88 Waits files suit against Frito-Lay/ Tracy Locke for featuring a cover of "Step Right Up" in their commercials. The case went to court in 1990. Further reading: Copyright
Dec. '88 Released: the album "Stay Awake, Various Interpretations Of Music From Vintage Disney Films" (A&M). Various artists. With: "Heigh Ho, The Dwarfs' Marching Song". Produced by: Hal Willner (he also produced the 1985 album "Lost In The Stars")
Late '88 Shootings for the movie "Cold Feet" in Montana/ USA. Directed by: Robert Dornhelm
Late '88 Interview on the set of "Cold Feet" by Francis Thumm: "Tom's Wild Years"
Dec. 31, '88 New Year's Eve concert appearance at the Wiltern Theatre, Los Angeles/ USA. With: Ralph Carney, Greg Cohen, John Lurie, Michael Blair, Mitchell Froom and Marc Ribot. Further reading: Performances 1986-1990
Wiltern Theatre. December 31, 1988. Thanks to Dorene LaLonde for donating picture
Feb. 3 - Mar. 26, '89 Premiere of the play: "Demon Wine" (Thomas Babe) in Los Angeles/ USA (The Los Angeles Theater Center). Waits as "Curly". Further reading: Demon Wine
'89 Released: the movie" Sea Of Love" (Mercury). Soundtrack
'89 Released: the movie "Bearskin, An Urban Fairytale" with Waits as "Punch & Judy man"
Promo picture for the Bearskin video
'89 Released: the movie "Mystery Train" by Jim Jarmusch. Voice only (radio DJ)
'89 Released: the album "A Black And White Night, A Tribute To Roy Orbison"
'89 Released: the album: "SOS United" (EMI). With: "Silent Night"
May '89 Released: the movie "Cold Feet" (Robert Dornhelm). With: Keith Carradine and Sally Kirkland. Waits in a supporting role as "Kenny the hitman"
May - Jun. '89 Waits stays in Hamburg, Germany for a month. Together with Robert Wilson he works on the play: "The Black Rider" (songs and music). Wilson had introduced Waits to 75 year-old beat poet William S. Burroughs (libretto). Further reading: The Black Rider
Waits in Hamburg (Ostkreuz Portfolio). Photography by Jens R�tzsch
'89 Waits family visit Tralee, Ireland. Waits makes a surprise appearance at the Cork Film Festival (showing of the movie Big Time)
Jul. - Aug. '89 Dialogue with Elvis Costello for Option Magazine/ USA: "Eavesdropping On Elvis Costello And Tom Waits"
Option Magazine # 27. July, 1989. Date: The Red Eight restaurant/ Los Angeles. February, 1989 (w. Elvis Costello). Photography by Dennis Keeley
'90 Released: the movie "The Two Jakes" (w. Jack Nicholson and Harvey Keitel). One-minute cameo for Waits as a plain clothes police officer
Still from the movie: "The Two Jakes", with Jack Nicholson
'90 Released: video: "Red Hot & Blue" (Chrysalis). Released in 1990, re-released in 1996. Red Hot + Blue, featuring contemporary pop performers reinterpreting the great songs of ColePorter, sold over a million copies worldwide and was Stereo Review's 1990 Album-of-the-Year. It was one of the first major AIDS benefits in the music business and helped launch the current popular genre of tribute albums. With: "It's All Right With Me". Directed by Jim Jarmusch. Further reading: Red Hot And Blue at Redhot.org. Further reading: Charity
'90 Released: photobook + CD "Sylvia Plachy's Unguided Tour" (Aperture New York). With "Serrano" (early version of "Russian Dance")
Mar. 30, '90 Premiere of the play: "The Black Rider" at the Thalia Theatre, Hamburg/ Germany. The album would be released in 1993. Further reading: The Black Rider
Apr. '90 According to Rolling Stone, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Waits sang: "Jersey Girl", "Stand By Me" and "Fever" at the wedding of Chuck Plotkin and Wendy Brandchaft, at restaurant Michael in Santa Monica (Source: Rolling Stone. 5/31/90 Random Note: Bruce, Tom Waits duo at Chuck Plotkin's reception. Page 10)
Apr. - May '90 Waits was granted ca. $ 2,6 mln. after taking legal actions against Frito-Lay for using a cover of "Step Right Up" in their SalsaRio Doritos 1988 commercials. Further reading: Copyright
May '90 Released: the book: "Jockey Full Of Bourbon" (Gradiana/ Yugoslavia) by Dragan Todorovic. Further reading: Bibliography
Aug. 13, '90 Waits attended the premiere of "Wild At Heart" (David Lynch) in Los Angeles/ USA (w. Nicolas Cage as Sailor Ripley)
Oct. '90 Released: the biography "Small Change, A Life Of Tom Waits" (St. Martins Press) by: Patrick Humphries 1989. Further reading: Bibliography
Cover for the "Small Change" biography. Photography by Peter Anderson
Dec. 30, '90 Concert appearance at the San Jose Center For The Performing Arts, San Jose/ USA. Further reading: Performances 1986-1990
Dec. 31, '90 New Year's Eve concert at the Orpheum Theatre, San Francisco/ USA. Further reading: Performances 1986-1990

Further reading
Performances 1949-1975
Pictures 1949-1975