Written on December 5, 2017
TRIVIA TUESDAY for the first week of December the 5th…
However, first we’d like to acknowledge the readers who answered last week’s question correctly. The question was, “Where did the lyrics to The Byrds Classic “Turn, Turn, Turn” originate from?
The correct answer is…The book of Ecclesiastes from King Solomon’s Bible! “Atta Boys” and congrats go out to our friends Steve Winogradsky, Larry in Munich and Ron Wood….
Thanx guys for that great history lesson!
And now here’s this week’s question: The great Eric Clapton has played with just about everybody, but can you name FIVE bands that included Clapton as a member?…..
How close have you followed “Slow Hand’s career?
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Written on December 2, 2017
in Do You Want to Know a Secret?
This week’s “Quick One” will focus on “Heavy Metal” and it’s origin!
It’s widely believed that “Heavy Metal” entered our musical conscious and nomenclature in the 1970’s when from outta nowhere our speakers were rattling with power chords from bands like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and of course Metallica!
But the genre’s musical introduction is quickly traced back to the 1960’s. When in 1969 Steppenwolf had there first number one with Mars Bonfire’s song “Born to be Wild”. The second verse reads….”I like smoke and lightning, heavy metal thunder” as the song rips and shreds for another thee plus minutes.
However, Mars Bonfire didn’t coin the term. “Heavy Metal” first appeared in popular literature. In 1961, William Burroughs introduced the character “Uranian Willy, The Heavy Metal Kid” from his book “The Soft Machine” The first in a trilogy. Burroughs reprised the term and character in a later book “The Nova Express” with “The Heavy Metal People Of Uranus”
However, the real credit goes to music critic and rock journalist Lester Bangs for appropriating the term as it applies to music. In 1969 Bangs was writing an extended piece for “Creem” magazine and referenced a local band’s sound as “Heavy Metal”…..Ground zero for the term ironically coined for a genre that hadn’t even happened yet!
Anyone have a different story?
Written on November 22, 2017
in Do You Want to Know a Secret?
The truth is most people didn’t! “Head” was the first and last feature film starring The Monkees! Released 49 years ago today Nov. 20, 1968….Columbia Pictures produced and distributed the film and everyone believed it was a sure bet. Their hugely popular series had just concluded a few month’s earlier, and they were still selling millions of records. The film was directed by Bob Rafelson ( the producer and director of their T.V. Series and the screenplay was written by…..wait for it…Jack Nicholson. Yep, THAT Jack Nicholson.
In addition to Micky, Davey, Peter and Mike,”Head included Cameo’s with Victor Mature Sonny Liston, Peter Fonda, Frank Zappa and Annette Funicelo. Originally called “Changes”this 87 minute mish mash with no script, no plot and no direction outside of The Monkees desire to explore and move beyond their “slapstick and silly 30 minute T.V. Show. They knew their core audience were young “Teen-Agers” and believed “Head” would attract and appeal to a more mature and sophisticated audience which would bring them something they desperately desired CREDIBILITY!
“Head failed miserably, the film never came close to appealing To “the mature audience”, Afterall it was, The Monkees! But, even worse, with the films emphasis on Psychedelia, “Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll in Hollywood, much of their young core audience couldn’t or wouldn’t be allowed to see it.
Here are the hard numbers…”Head” cost $760,000 to produce, and the total box office receipts were… Wait for it….just a little over $16,000….Yikes ! To this day , Wikipedia describes “Head” as “Stunningly Unsuccessful”
Fans of the film claimed it was a sincere and valid attempt to emulate The Beatles and “A Hard Day’s Night”….Not even close.
comparing the greatest band in the world to the…er…ah…um Well, they weren’t even a real band!
Sooooo, we think you GET IT. But here’s the bottom line. Some historians ( including The Monkees) believe “Head” ended the careers of Mickey, Davey, Mike and Peter both as actors and musicians. Blaming Director Producer Bob Rafelson!
However, “Head” does have a reason for being, many more film and music historians believe “Head” should be celebrated and revered as the quintessential Movie of and about The 1960’s celebrating the excess, Psychedelia and creative experimentation we all attempted to indulge! For our money “Head” delivered Thee best Monkee’s song from their substantive catalog.
It’s called “The Porpoise Song” and it open’s and closes the movie. AND, it was written by Carole King and Jerry Goffin. A loud driving, yet plaintive ballad that is basically a Hammond B-3 organ and Mickey moaning his way thru a senseless lyric. BUT IT WORKS! And set’s the stage, that your about to experience something your not prepared for, by four Guy’s you never expected it from…. And in those brief moments of The Porpoise Song , My friends and I got “Head” in 1968….So, what about you, did you see this rare and unusual film ? Have you heard “The Porpoise Song”?
We bet you’ve heard it and never knew it. So, our advice to you is run to your nearest source and get “Head” in 2017… ( nostalgia and “Train Wreck Syndrome)
But first, let’s hear “The Porpoise Song…
Written on November 10, 2017
in Do You Want to Know a Secret?
In the late Sixties, into the early Seventies, the “Club Scene in So. Calif. was thriving. World Class venues like “The Whisky au, go, go “The Hullabaloo Club, “The Trip, Pandora’s Box” “Bito Lido’s” “London Fog” and “The Roxy” with its adjacent “Super hang” bar and grill, “The Rainbow Room! If you even thought of playing guitar, you had to drop into The Rainbow room, have a slice of their “World Famous Pizza and hang out with the real world of “Rock Royalty….
However, it’s the club that’s away from the traffic crunch of “The Sunset Strip” that enjoy’s the longevity, legends and infamous notoriety more than any other nightspot in L.A. Or the world…Doug Weston’s Troubadour! You surely know the story. The club opened in the late 50’s as a coffee-house that gradually grew into a folk music venue. But in the Sixties, The Troubadour moved to its current location on Santa Monica Blvd. and immediately became thee venue for the surge of music both locally and internationally that was taking the 60’s by storm.
From “The Laurel Canyon Mafia, James Taylor with Carol King to Elton John, Comedians like Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, and A Banjo playing Steve Martin. But! The Troubadour soon became famous for what was happening off the stage as well as on. The troubadour is where Lenny Bruce was thrown off the stage and arrested on “obscenity Charges” for using the word “Schmuck” on stage..There was the night comedian George Carlin was having a very bad night, the crowed was booing, when club owner Doug Weston walked on stage, turned around, bent over, pulled down his pant’s Screamed “Kiss my Ass” and closed the club!….No apologies, or of course refunds. The troubadour was where Elton John made is American debut. Far from a “Household” name, Elton sold out 3 nights and shut down Santa Monica Blvd, with his busses and throngs of die-hard fans. There was the night Steve Martin was unhappy with the sound, or temperature in the room. So Steve put an arrow through his head, invited the FULL house to go outside and join him on Santa Monica Blvd. where he did his entire show! HOWEVER, the most notorious event that ever happened at “The Troub” was the night John Lennon and Harry Nilsson dropped by the club and proceeded to get completely trashed. As the party ensued a very drunk John Lennon tied a woman’s tampon to his head. A very agitated waitress grabbed Lennon by the arm and asked him to leave the club, when Lennon barks “Do you know who I am”? The waitress snapped back with “YES, your some asshole with a Tampax on your head”! YEAH, YEAH, YEAH…Good times at The Troub!
But, perhaps the most interesting twist Doug Weston introduced at his club was “Hoot Nite Monday’s” today you’d call it “Open Mic Nite” Every other club in town was “Dark Monday’s” club speak for “We’re closed Mondays’.
But, Weston opened The Troubadour on Monday nights to anyone who wanted to perform on his stage. If you could sing, play, or tell a good joke. You could get on The Troubadour stage, usually to an audience of a couple dozen patrons at most. However, as it was the only bar in town that was open on Monday night. The large bar that lead to the showroom was teaming with thirsty “Wanna bee’s” and more. Many, killing time till it was their turn to take the stage, but mostly locals and drifters looking for a drink and place to hang and collaborate with either musically or whatever…As word and popularity of what was going on in The Troubadour bar on Monday nights grew, the clientele enjoyed a distinctive up tick. The bar was jammed with the artists “Movers and Shakers of the music industry. On any Monday night, a quick glance around the bar, you’d find Tom Waites sitting at his regular corner stool, nursing a glass of whisky with his “Ole 55 parked in the alley. Linda Ronstadt “The Queen of Hearts” would burst into the bar, on some kind of mission, alway’s nervous, curiously scanning the bar for someone or something.
Grabs a glass of something which she sips through a straw and then she’s gone. Henley was there as was Frey, but not together
The Eagles were still a few years away. First they had to join Ronstadt as HER back up band.The past, present and future of pop music were all drinking and plotting in ” The Sad Cafe”, The Troubadour Bar
It was Don Henley who nicknamed the club “The Sad Cafe” He and Glen Frey chronicled their times and experiences at the club in their song of the same name, which can be found on their late 70’s album “The Long Run”
But, one summer Monday night something spontaneous and incredible happened!… Our old friends Rob Grill, Joel Larson and Warren Entner from “The Grass Roots,” fresh off a string of huge top 40 hits….”Two Devided by love” “Sooner Or Later” “Heaven Knows” and their double platinum monster “Midnight confessions” took a break from constant touring and opted for some downtime in their homes in West L.A. All mere blocks from “The Sad Cafe”
The three Roots were Monday night regulars in the bar, commandeered a large table in the corner, drinking and singing! Yes…..Singing! But they were singing “Doo Wop” The Sad Cafe, The Grass Roots and Doo Wop provided me with the best Summer and musical night of my life.
One Monday, The Roots were settled in the corner Rob and Joel, finger poppin and Doo whopping their way through the Doo Wop classic “So Fine” I wasn’t invited but at the chorus, I leaned in and added a deep third part. At 22 years old, I was barely 5′ 6″ and was pushing 120 pounds from the low side. But I had been gifted with a “Basso Profundo deep voice that blended perfectly with the Alto Sopranos of The Grass Roots. The Roots heard this sound coming out of this kid and thought it was the funniest thing they’d ever seen and heard. Monday after Monday, there we were, holding court and performing the best a capella Doo Wop this side of a Brooklyn “Stoop” Soon the bars clientele would join in. Tom Waits shuffled over one night, sat down and tried to growl his way through “Gonna Find Her” but we were too happy for Tom so he moved on…J.D. Souther sat in one night. We were paralyzed! Randy Meisner leaned in a couple of times and it was like the gates of heaven opening…Glen Frey sat down one night….”Fuh getta bout it” One evening Senator Al Franken ( Yes that same Al Franken) sat in. In the early Seventies, Al was a stand up comedian and showed up every Monday to work on his act. He took a break grabbed a drink and joined the chorus.
Forget about his politics The Senator CAN NOT SING…
But it was our final Monday night that was the most fun and poignant. Midway through “Our second set” Rob, Joel and I decided we should go out for chilli dogs! We know you’ve been there. We all got in the car and headed down Santa Monica Blvd. to “Pinks” hot dogs, thee best chilli dog stand in L.A. And only 5 minutes from the Troub. On our way we see a vision! It’s a classic Mid 50’s Candy Apple Red Mercury Cruiser, complete with Fuzzy dice hanging off the rear view mirror and hydraulic jacks bouncing it up and down Santa Monica Blvd. with the radio blasting some Latin music station. But wait here’s the most incredible part, as we pulled along side we saw that the cars owner had air brushed something on the rear side windows ( that was a thing in certain communities in L.A. Back in the day) He had painted each rear window with the words “Midnight Confessions”……Rob and Joel saw the windows of this “SHORT”
emblazoned with the title of their last monster hit and they went insane, laughing hysterically, jumping out of the car and hoping on the back of the Mercury. This was a photo-op gift from God and The Roots weren’t going to miss it…
Meanwhile, inside the Merc are four kids, who are clearly out of their neighborhood out of their league and are at once, terrified, confused and really pissed off!
Four young latino’s barely old enough to drive on a “Joy Ride” through Beverly Hills. When out of the blue a car full of “Long haired white dudes pulls up and in an instant they’re hanging and posing on this beautiful car screaming and singing”Midnight Confessions” snapping off pictures, while the Merc driver is going crazy swearing he is going to kill all of us. But! Before anything serious developed the Merc driver hit the gas and sped off, throwing everyone to the ground and taking Robs new “Ray Bans” along for the rest of the joy ride….As we dust ourselves off it’s agreed that we should head back to the troubadour, have a nightcap, assess any damages and sing a couple tunes!
Back at The troubadour, we settle in…Good news, our table is empty! Bad news, so is the Bar! But for one lone customer. “Linda is at the bar, looking nervous and sipping a drink through a straw. The Roots and I begin a soft, well tuned version of “Bye Bye Love” “Queen Linda looks up and over, and in a moment OMG! Our Queen is moving towards our table. Like a gossamer vision, she drifts up to our table, and as she surveys the faces, a look of disappointment comes over her Angelic face….”Pardon me”, sez The Queen “I thought I heard someone I know”…Whoa?….Who?
With that, Linda Ronstadt turns around and walks away. As the moment unfurls Rob Grill, at first, laments his lost Ray Bans, but then, leans over to me and say’s “Ya know Rick, the only good thing about watching Linda Ronstadt walk away from your table is WATCHING Linda Ronstadt walk away from your table…
A Sad Cafe Indeed…
However, somewhere there is a photograph of a blurry red quarter panel, with distorted images of Ray Bans and Grass Roots with multiple arms and legs in the air and if you look real close you can see the words “Midnight Confessions” stretched across a car window while deep in the background you can see the dim glow of neon guiding you to Doug Weston’s “Sad Cafe”
How about you?….Have you ever been there? Do YOU have a story?
Meanwhile, take a moment to enjoy The Eagles tribute…
“And meet me at midnight baby, inside the sad cafe”….
Written on November 5, 2017
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Thank you and happy holidays from Sixties Music Secrets…
Written on November 4, 2017
Here’s this weeks section for jokes and funny story’s about musicians, experiences and all humorous things music related 60’s or other wise….
We know you have a funny bit in you, so please don’t hold back!
This week we’re focusing on Banjo players…Cuz, well, just say the word “Banjo” Now, that’s FUNNY!…
What is the difference between a Banjo player and a South American Macaw?
….One is Noisey obnoxious and loud, and the other is a BIRD!
What is the difference between a Banjo player and an “Uzi”
….An Uzi only repeats 40 times!
Whats’s the difference between a Fiddle and a Violin?
….Who cares neither is a Banjo!
How many Banjo players does it take to eat a possum?
….Two, one to eat it and one to watch for cars!
What did the Banjo player get on his SAT test?
And of course; How many Banjo players does it take yo screw in a light bulb?
….Six, one to screw in the bulb, and 5 to make sure the Banjo player doesn’t hog all the light!
NOW, you must have one, let’s hear it…
Written on October 29, 2017
in Do You Want to Know a Secret?
It was 50 years ago this week, Nov 3rd, 1967 that Rolling Stone Magazine, a weekly publication located in San Francisco Calif. published it’s debut issue Rolling Stone # 1…The founder and publisher Jann Wenner was a huge fan of Rock and Roll and the men and Women who created it. Jann lived in a loft in The Bay City with his girl friend and simply said one day “I’m starting a magazine about Rock Music. Jann had become friends with a columnist from The San francisco Chronicle Ralph J. Gleason who wrote feature stories about politics, they partnered up and had what they thought was the perfect blend for a magazine “Directed at The new “Hippie Culture” and they were on to something. Rolling Stone Magazine took off like a rocket and soon became the weekly Bible, yes, for the “Hippie community ( who ever that was ) but to the millions of fans of 60’s music and the culture all around it. The first issue featured John Lennon on the cover with a promotional photo of John from his recent debut purely as an actor in the Richard Lester film “How I won The War”
But, here’s the best part, to initially attract Jann’s perceived core audience. The first issue came with a free “Roach Clip” attached to the front page…..For those of you unfamiliar to the word “Roach Clip” ask your parents! And no, it has nothing to do with pesticides! In 1967 my buddies and I bought four copies, just for the free clips.
However, to our broader point, consider this between 1965 and 1967 culturally we were besieged with “Rolling Stones. In 1965 The Rolling Stones released their debut album called “England’s newest Hit Makers, The Rolling Stones” and in that same year Dylan released his first number one with “Like a Rolling Stone”
Radio stations curios as to the musical origin started playing an old Muddy Waters record called, what else? “Rolling Stone And in 1966 Dylan added a bit more Rolling Stone Flavor when he released his single “Rainy Day Women 12 and 35 whose chorus includes a “partying” sing a long of “Everybody must get stoned” preceded by verses chronicling all the ways the world can “Stone Ya”. ….. INDEED!….And in 1967 Laura Nero gave us “Stoney End”
Lastly When we believed the “stoning may be behind us we have to thank the Great Temptations for resurrecting “Rolling stone” in 1971 with their iconic classic “Papa was a Rolling Stone”
But now, let’s enjoy this rare classic live recording that started it all….
Written on October 24, 2017
in Do You Want to Know a Secret?
Welcome to a new feature at Sixties Music Secrets. Here’s the drill: What if you could travel back in time and completely remove one song from The Beatles incredible repertoire. Yep, eliminate any trace, history or evidence of one Beatle song, as if it never existed.Forever removed from our collective culture and memory!
What Beatle song would YOU choose AND WHY?
To get things started, we offer up our first choice of which Beatle song should be forever banished from Beatledom and Beatle history. Our choice: From The White Album, “The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill”
Why? Because the melody sounds like a child’s nursery rhyme, Lennon tries so hard to make a lyrical point, but misses his mark
Lastly the highest crime of all. “Bungalow Bill” is the first Beatle record to feature someone other than John, Paul, George and Ringo singing on it. And that someone is Yoko Ono….Or as we like to refer to her “Yoko OH NO”
But now most importantly; WHAT’S YOUR PICK? and why?
Let ‘Em rip!
Written on October 20, 2017
It was 55 years ago today, Oct. 20, 1962 that Bobby “Boris” Pickett would begin his three-week run at number one on the Billboard charts with his now legendary mega-hit “Monster Mash”
Some called it a “novelty record but it was a clever well produced dance/pop gem which included Leon Russell on Piano and The Blossoms featuring Darlene Love, doing their greatest back ground vocals…
But, here’s the story…
Bobby Pickett was an aspiring actor and the front man for his band “The Cordials. Bobby was well-known for his antics and vocal impressions, while performing with The Cordials. One night one of his band members encouraged him to perform “Little Darling” by The Diamonds while doing his impression of Boris Karloff. The audience loved it so much Bobby did an entire set of classic rock songs as sung by Boris Karloff!
The next step was obvious. Mega producer Gary Paxton signed him to his Gar Pax label and produced this legendary gem. Thru the years “Monster Mash has become a musical perennial and of course, unless you live in a cave you hear it on the radio constantly, this time of year.
There was a failed attempt at a film and yes “The Monster Mash did in fact become a popular “Dance Craze” as did “The Transylvania Twist” which Bobby name checks in his “Bela Lugosi” voice in the last verse of The Monster Mash.
Bobby’s original recording ( which he wrote ) has been released and re – released around the world countless times since 1962, it’s been featured in dozens of films T.V. Shows and commercials AND it’s the only 60’s hit that comes back to life every October…..Kinda like, “Night of The Living Hit” AND YOU LOVED IT!
Let’s listen to this 60’s Classic…..Afterall, ‘Tis the season…
Written on October 11, 2017
in Do You Want to Know a Secret?
In the 1960’s, when we weren’t listening to the greatest music of all time, we watched T.V ! No Cable, No flat screens, just three networks and the most innovative and entertaining programming in history. Nearly all of the worlds most popular programs included opening and closing musical themes. Many of them established their own identity and remain with us, holding a place in our life and culture as powerful and memorable as much as the music we “tuned” into on the radio in The 60’s…Who hasn’t invoked “The Twilight Zone” theme anytime something weird happens? or tried to plunk out “Peter Gunn” on the piano?
……Right here, each week, we’ll focus on one of your favorite T.V. Shows from The 60’s and the GREAT MUSIC that accompanied them.
This week 10/11/17 were focusing on one programme that originated out of the U.K. ran from 1961 to 1969 and we bet holds a special place in your memory and life experience…..”THE AVENGERS”
Ah Yes “John Steed Top professional”and “Emma Peel Talented Amateaur” Spy’s and crime fighters taking on all types of Bad Guy’s in the hippest clothes and coolest cars! Holding a gun in one hand and a glass of Moët Chandon in the other…..Ah, but before SMS can go any further, we have to pause and catch our breath as we recall Mrs. Emma Peel “The Talented Amateure ” played exquisitely by the exquisite Diana Rigg! Diana may not have been our first “Television Crush” but to this day she remains our most profound….If you grew up in the U.K. You may have a more intense memory of The Avengers. It’s practically a miracle rhat us Yanks ever saw the show at all. The Avengers debuted in 1961 in England, but didn’t make it to the U.S. Until 1965 when Thames T.V. Made a deal with ABC to carry the series!However, ABC was concerned about the shows violent and suggestive content so aired the show at 11:30 EST……Steering way clear of the FCC mandated “Family hour” but more importantly to The Avengers producers “Prime Time” where The audience and BIG MONEY resided. After the first year ABC then moved the show to 8;00p.m. Monday’s directly opposing NBC’s Juggernaught “Laugh In” The move all but killed this incredible, cool, sexy, stylish trend setting show
Cries of “FOUL” by it’s meager U.S. Audience and the shows original English producers, Thames T.V. Finally convinced ABC to air The Avengers at 10:00p.m. EST. But we followed faithfully. The Avengers became “The Water Cooler Conversation” of the day, at least among the young male viewers and always about Mrs. Peel and her latest outfit of form fitting jump suit and Stilletto heals. However, her partner John Steed, played exquisitely by Patrick Macnee “The Top Professional” held his own. Driving a different Classic Bently each week while sporting his ” Straight outta Carnaby Street classic” Three Piece with a Boller hat and Umbrella, which, of course when subtly activated turned into lethal weapons. But, in addition to the style and suggestive sexy/cool, The Avengers always “Broke the fourth wall”! That’s a T.V. Industry term for acknowledging the viewing audience and the fact that you may be deep in the plot but…..It’s a T.V. Show….
Here’s an example from an episode we watched last night. John and Mrs. Peel walk into a room where they find (of course) a dead body…..Mrs. Peel sez; “John, A DEAD BODY!….John Steed replies: “My lord isn’t it a bit early for a body?…Mrs. Peel replies: “Yes, my script doesn’t include a dead body for six more pages”…..Absolute fourth wall breakage brilliancy…
identifying your favorite T.V. Show from the 60’s is kinda like identifying your favorite child. But we’re going out on a limb…..The Avengers gets our vote. We chased it around three time slots talked about it all day in school and kept a picture of Diana Rigg in our desk!
BUT, it was the opening theme music that grabbed us from the first frame and first note. Sooo cool, powerful, original and compelling, written and produced by the incredible, now legendary, British Saxaphoneist John Dankworth, it was an energized blend of Jazz with some “Swinging London horns and strings plus a taste of the obligatory 60’s Harpsicord. The opening theme simply and profoundly announced The Avengers were coming, and THEY WERE COOL ! But Dankworths score was most effectively used as stingers or cues to punch up the good stuff on screen. An attempt was made to release a single on Columbia records, but it failed. We believe it’s failure was due to the devoted cult like fans who didn’t want to share or taint their precious Avengers with “The Great Unwashed”…..We know that sounds counter intuitive, but if you were an Avengers fan you get it..
As for now…..”Mrs. Peel, Wer’re needed” Yet again, if you were an Avengers fan…you get that too
Enjoy the “Swingingest” theme from some of the best T.V. From The 60’s…
Written on October 8, 2017
It was on this day Feb 8th, 1965 that The Castiles opened for The Florescents at thr I.B. Club in Howell New Jersey! This was The Castiles first advertised club show featuring their newest member / Lead Guitarist, Bruce Springsteen!
Check out this rare live recording of Bruce and The Castiles doing their cover of Sam and Dave’s “Hold On I’m Coming” Circa 1966…..Tickets that night to enjoy The Florescents and The Castiles featuring “The Boss” we’re just $1.00
Written on September 29, 2017
in Do You Want to Know a Secret?, Uncategorized
It was on this day Sept. 29, 1967 when The Beatles put the finishing touches on the mix for John Lennon’s “I Am The Walrus”
John, irratated after reading in the newspaper that a teacher at his former elemantary school had her students write a paper analyzing Beatle lyrics, he deliberately wrote a verse of what he called “Gibberous”
… “Semolina Pilchard, climbing up the Eifel Tower,
elemantary penguin singing Hare Krishna, man you should have seen them kicking Edgar Alan Poe” etc. etc.
“That’ll teach ’em!
Scroll down below for comments…
Written on September 23, 2017
in A Day in the Life, Uncategorized
It was on this day Sept. 23, 1969 that The Northern Star Newspaper from the University of Northern Illinois ran a story that claimed Paul McCartney was killed in an automobile accident three years earlier and was replaced by an impersonator named Billy Shears
Immediately after the story ran popular disc jockey Russell Gibb of WKNR in Detroit ran with the story and convincing the world became his mission
Yes, Russell is considered “Ground Zero” for the infamous “Paul Is Dead Hoax”!
…..Just for fun, here are some of the silly clues and theories that supported the conspiracy
…True believers, including many journalists and D.J.s began referring to the replacement Paul as “Faul”…….Faux-Paul, get it?
….On the back cover of Sgt. pepper George is pointing at the Lyric “Wednesday morning at five ‘O clock.” Allegedly the day and time Paul was killed!
On the back cover of Abbey Road, a Volswagon Beetle is parked on the street with a license plate that reads “28 if” True believers claim that it’s a reference to Pauls age. They believe Paul was 27 when he died and would be “28 IF, he had survived”….Are you with us, so far?
…..In the final groove of Strawderry Fields Forever, believers believe they can hear John say “I buried Paul” years later John admitted it was him just muttering some nonsense. “I buried Paul” was actually “Cranberry Sauce”
…..In the performance of “Your Mother Should Know” from Magical Mystery Tour, Paul is wearing a BLACK carnation while the other three are wearing RED ones!
…..And our all time favorite; If you play “Revolution Number Nine” ( from The White Album ) BACKWARDS, the clinical unknown voice that hauntingly repeats “Number Nine, Number Nine…becomes “Turn Me On Deadman”….actuyally kinda creepy!
SO! How about you? Do you recall this insane conspiracy, did you buy into it, and most important, do you have any further clues we may have missed?
YEAH, YEAH, YEAH?
Written on September 15, 2017
in Do You Want to Know a Secret?
You’re gonna love this ( and read below for an update ) On this day, July 8th in 1959, The Esso gas company introduced a campaign claiming that listening to “Rock an Roll” music on the radio while driving would result in poor gas mileage. The Esso researchers asserted that “The driving beat of Rock music caused the driver to press heavier in the gas peddle, wasting America’s latest precious resource…..HUNH?
Don’t know about you but we find it so strange and counter intuitive! Especially when you consider that Esso was in the business of selling as much gasoline as possible..
It also underscores the level of confusion and disdain Rock music was initially met with…
“Rev it up, rev it up, buddy gonna shut you down”
What do you think?
SMS UPDATE! You’re gonna love THIS more. On this date, Sept. 15th 1965….
The Ford Motor Co. debuted The 8 Track Tape Player as on option for their entire line of vehicles, less then 5 years after ESSO Gas warned that listening to rock music in the car will reduce your gas mileage!….
Ah, but here’s the rub; As 8 Trk home equipment was still one year away, new 8 TRK Tapes could only be purchased at “Automotive / Auto Parts stores!
Do you remember “Mad Man Muntz” ?
His Green and Purple car parts and electronics stores became extremely popular with a whole new clientele overnight, selling these new 8 TRKS…
And, get this in 1967 alone “Mad Man Muntz did over $30,000,000 in car stereo’s and tapes!
Did you ever shop there?
Did you have one of those “infernal” 8 TRKS in your car?
Just for fun…Here’s “Shut Down” by The Beach Boys from1963…
Written on September 11, 2017
in A Day in the Life
Yes, it was 50 years ago today Sept. 11, 1967 when The Beatles set off on their newest project / adventure / and first major failure, their first and last film completely written, produced, directed and starring John, Paul, George and Ringo…
The full cast and crew set off in their now famously decorated bus directly for The West Country of England, specifically the counties of Cornwall and Devon. They had no plan or true destination. They had no script. Each Beatle brought along pockets full of random thoughts scribbled down on bits of paper, notes like Lennon’s… “later John Serves a fat lady huge shovel’s of Spaghetti dressed as a Maitre ‘de.” Paul collected and collated the notes and named them The Scrupt!
And the shooting began, day and night until Sept 25th Yep, just 15 day’s yielding 10 hours of film, edited down to a mere 58 minutes!
we know, you know just about everything about this ill fated project, but we’re here to share a few “Didja knows” you may not have been aware of….You remember The Beatles oddball B-Side to “Let It Be”…”You Know My Name, Look Up My Number” Paul gives a shout out to Dennis O ‘del….Who?…. Dennis was an independent associate producer who worked on Magical Mystery Tour….Paul liked him and named him in his song!….They indeed shot the film in The West Country, but one day they ran off to Nice in the south of France and in an extremely clandestine maneuver “No permits/ permissions clearances etc. and shot “The Fool On The Hill”
The only other musical guests to briefly appear in the film were “The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band” performing their song “Death Cab For Cutie” Yep same name as the indie band that formed in 1997 in Washington…
Furthermore, Traffic were originally in the film performing their song “Here We Go ‘Round The Mulberry Bush” But, their performance became a victim of “The editors knife” and were cut out at the last minute. Probably another bad decision for this doomed project!
Although all four Beatles are credited as writers, Directors, producers and Stars…Only Ringo is singled out with his solo credit as “Cinematographer”
the truth is all four Beatles were constantly shooting. In fact Paul is credited with the idea and concept for Macical Mystery Tour as an extension of his current hobby he was calling “Home movies”
But Ringo actually got a credit, something he may regret today…Curious, ain’t it?….or, another gift from John and Paul for their humble band mate ?
The film debuted in the U.K. on Television!….BBC One on “Boxing Day” (Dec. 26) in 1967….And get this! At this point in time BBC One could only transmit Black and White images! So all the Psychedelia, rich colors and beauty were lost in a wash of dull Grey/Black/White swirls!……Audience and critics hated and didn’t understand it……They demanded an apology from McCartney and he spoke up! He said that “It was their first film and they considered it a brilliant success……Remember the quote “I did not have sex with that woman” Sumthin’ like that. Two weeks later B.B.C. Two aired the film, B.B.C. Two, ( the lessor of the two networks ) however had the technology to air the film in COLOR! At that point in time it was reported there were 200,000 color sets in England and only a fraction of their owners watched the film, the damage was done!
In fact it took seven years for the film to even get released in the U.S. New Line Cinema released the film at a gala screening in NYC in 1974. The film was received more favorably in the U.S. Afterall, even with all the bad press IT WAS THE BEATLES,…How bad could it be”?
Your mother should know!
Did You ever see the movie? Do you have an opinion?….We’d love to know!…
Written on August 31, 2017
The Music Business is rich with great stories! One of our favorites is about Ike Turner and his new girlfriend, protegee, meal ticket, future wife and Love Slave. Anna Mae Bullock…..Mrs. Tina Turner!
As the story goes, the first time Ike took Tina into the studio, they had quite a difficult time recording Tina’s voice. The problem was, her voice was just so uncontrollably powerful! No matter what Ike and his engineer tried to do Tina’s powerful voice overwhelmed the microphone, “Pinned” the limiters and blew every fuse in the control room!
So, Ike got an idea, he simply moved the microphone to the furthest corner of the studio and told Tina to “Hit it”…….And Tina “Hit it” When you hear “A Fool In Love” you’re hearing Tina’s voice from across the room! Yet it sounds like she’s singing in your ear!……There was no voice more powerful than Tina Turners’
BUT WAIT….Do you remember Timi Yuro? The diminutive 22 year old Italian/ American Contralto from Chicago?…..If Ike had to move the Microphone across the ROOM for Tina, then Timi Yuro’s producer, Clyde Otis had to move Timi’s Microphone across the STREET!
YES! Timi Yuro was a Force Five “Contralto” the lowest register for the female voice humanly possible. With a clarity, power and richness no one had heard before. For reference, think James Earl Jones doing Burt Bacharach…….And, in a way in 1962 a lot of people did. When Timi Yuro broke thru with the incredible “What’s a Matter Baby?” Many radio listeners thought she was a man, several more thought she was a BLACK MAN!
But NO! Timi was a petite 5 ft. female… A Feisty / sexy Italian, Chicago transplant who came to L.A. In the mid 50’s and as a young girl sang in her parent’s Italian restaurant along with other Bars and Dives around L.A.until Clyde Otis from Liberty records heard about “The girl who sounds like a guy”
Timi was 21 when Otis (fresh off huge hits with Dinah Washington and Brook Benton) took her in the studio and wrote and produced “What’s A Matter Baby”……In 1962 we believed Tina Turner was the untouchable Amazon Queen of Girl singers…..But then came Timi. She was everywhere, starting in L.A. On The Lloyd Thaxton show, then American Bandstand, Where The Action Is and TWO appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show!
But most of all she was all over the radio, every format, every country, every city. Which brings us to our favorite memory and our point ; The power of Timi Yuro’s voice!
In 1962 the only radio in our family was an RCA “VICTOR” A.M. Radio, it was red with a kind of gold leaf. It was a square box with two knobs, Volume and Tuning….It looked like a toaster and in 1962 it was already twenty years old, survived several moves, spilt milk, food, clouds of our Mom’s cigarette smoke and a glop of whipped cream my brother flung at me, missed, but VICTOR took head on. Through the years, however our beloved “VICTOR” A.M. radio/toaster developed a slight buzz in the speaker, nothing serious but certain sounds came out with a benign “bzzzzzz”…….very manageable, until Timi Yuro visited VICTOR with “What’s A Matter Baby” It was a Saturday Morning, my brother Rob and I were enjoying our bowls of “Cheerios”, we had VICTOR blasting when “What’s a Matter” comes on, my brother leans over and turns up the volume. Even at the young age of 12, I somehow knew that was not a good idea…….Rob and I are swaying to the music enjoying our Cheerios ignoring the occasional “bzzzzz” and Then Timi gets to the bridge where she hit’s “The Money Note” as she sings “Go find another shoulder to CRY E Yi Eeeyi on” and that little “bzzzz” in VICTOR erupted into an awful “Platspumf ”
VICTOR, my brother and I would never hear music right again. Now, thanx to Timi and Clyde every record we heard included that distinctive “Platspumf” but it was getting louder and somehow always happened right at the same moment as our favorite point in every record!….How did it know?…..”Platspumf”……
My brother Rob believe’s it was all the years of knob twisting abuse and sloppy table manners that finished “VICTOR”……..But I say no “‘Twas Timi, killed The Beast”
But it’s time for you to enjoy this incredible record….”Little Timi Yuro” at the peak of her powers, singing from across the street but sounding like she’s right in your ear!…..If you’re listening with a mobile device, turn down the low end, if you’re listening in the car, turn it up! AND…….If you’re somehow listening on your family’s old A.M. Radio/ toaster…..Prepare to kiss the speaker Good Bye…
Written on August 25, 2017
es, it was on this day August 25, 1963! that Stevie Wonder captured the music world and dominated it ever since! 54 years ago today hisingle “Fingertips part two” achieved the number one position on The Billboard Hot 100 chart. Additionally his debut album “Stevie Wonder / The 12 Year Old Genius Live” also took the number one position….This was the first time any artist had achieved such a fete in the history of Billboard magazine! Furthermore it was the first “Live” album to reach number One!…Stevie has gone on to sell over 100 million records…
Take a minute and be blown away by the live film of Stevie’s performance and recording of “Fingertips part two” live at The Apollo Theater in New York…..Take notice of the banner over the stage. In 1963 the show was billed as “A Motortown Revue” NOT A “Motown” Revue! Very early days for Barry Gordy’s fledgeling record label. Meanwhile, for the record his real name is Steveland Hardaway Judkins and yes, he’s been blind since birth, which we all now know has only enhanced his talent and inspiration! Check out this first stunning milestone in a career that’s lasted nearly 60 years!
Written on August 12, 2017
in A Day in the Life
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Written on August 6, 2017
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Written on July 29, 2017
Didja know it was on this day July 29th 1960 that Roy Orbison had his first number one record, although in the U.K. with “Only The Lonely” where he was more popular than he was in the U.S. at the time! However the record came close, hitting the number two position in May of that year…Roy had written and originally intended the song for The Everly Bros or Elvis, but both the brothers and The King turned the song down claiming it was “Too dramatic” A criticism that plagued him in his early days. Critics and Dee Jays labeled his music as “Operatic Rock” But it didn’t take long for Roy to turn it into a positive, with incredible follow ups like “Running Scared” a mini opera in itself and the now classic “Crying” Not to mention “Pretty Woman”
And, what’s more No, Roy Orbison was not blind, he did however wear corrective lenses, he was far sighted, the dark glasses he wore onstage were only for effect. His “Look” all began while in England on a very early tour opening for The Beatles! He lost his corrective lenses, borrowed a pair of sun glasses and “Bam” The coolest look in Rock and Roll was born. Roy loved the look. With the dark shades and always a dark suit he was known as the man in black BEFORE Johnny Cash
Let’s listen to Roy’s first number one, at least in the U.K.
Written on June 10, 2017
Horns ! The Brass section. Trumpets, Trombones, Saxaphones, French horns and, occasionally The Tuba. The horn section in American music was both it’s staple and it’s cornerstone. Going back to the early to mid 1920’s when America gave birth to “Big Bands The horns delivered the melody, harmony, rhythm, and deep bottom end. A typical configuration included 5 Saxaphones, 4 Trumpets, 4 Trombones and a Tuba, augmented and supported by a rhythm section of Guitar, Bass, Piano and Drums. Through the years, the typical line up would adjust accordingly as America’s Big Band sound morphed and matured into sub genres like “Dance Band” ” Stage Band” ” Jazz Band” and “Swing Bands” The popularity of this Brass enriched American sound dominated the sheet music business, saturated the fledgeling radio industry, established a recorded music fever and even made a splash in The Movies in The 30’s and 40’s “Battles of the Bands” became the standard attraction every weekend at theaters and concert/ dance halls across the country, frequently featuring a half dozen or more bands on the same bill. But!…No matter how popular the “Horn centric” sound of America’s music sounded in the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s’ Audiences and taste’s change and mature and by the end of the 1940’s popular music in America placed less emphasis on the Brass section with traditional arrangements and began focusing more on inspired improvisation by a strong rehythm section perhaps including a trumpet and a “Reed” instrument It was called Bee Bop and by the beginning of the 1950’s the horn heavy sound of “Big Band” and “Swing” had all but vanished, and a new generation of music lovers were hungry for their own sound, and it certainly wouldn’t include a “Brass section……..UNTIL, of course, THE 1960’s ! Beginning in 1967 the sky’s opened up and it rained down Brass sections. We’re certain, here at SMS, that when you think of horn bands, Two bands come to mind…Chicago, and Blood Sweat and Tears. Two distinctively different groups but both focusing their power and creativity on their horn sections, an easy twenty years after the last vestiges of the Big Bands reverberated off in the distance!
Somehow, Chicago and Blood, Sweat, and Tears made horns COOL again… B,S, and T and Chicago made their debut’s in ’68 and ’69 respectively. However, did you know that in 1967 The Buckinghams scored 5 top twenty nit singles with a sound they called “Brass Rock”
Billboard magazine dubbed them “The most listened to band in America” But, we’re guessing you remember The Buckinghams as just another Top 40 band that got played too much. But not the members of Chicago and B, S, and T. They all credit The Buck’s with re – introducing horns into popular music and they took the idea, ran with it, and made “Brass Rock” the coolest new music on the radio, as well as selling millions and millions off records ! (it needs to be noted that Chicago’s first three albums were double record sets!….Unheard of !
Sooo, this brings up an old 1960’s argument…..The argument?….” who was better, “Chicago”, or “Blood, Sweat and Tears”?
We’re a curious bunch here at SMS and we gotta know, which team were you with….Team “Chicago” or Team”Blood Sweat and Tears” ?
Please comment back and let us know your preference and why !
To help aid your memory…Team Chicago
And of course…Team… Blood Sweat and Tears
P.S. Didja know that The Buckinghams, Chicago and Blood, Sweat and Tears were all produced at one point by the same man. James William Guercio….. Unbelievable!
Written on May 26, 2017
THE BRITISH ARE COMING ! THE BRITISH ARE COMING ! We have discussed, analyzed, argued and reminisced about the incredible diversity of music that coalesced during the 1960’s. However, we believe there is one musical event that dominated and defined the musical landscape of the 1960’s more than anything else…”THE BRITISH INVASION”
The invasion actually commenced in January of 1964 when an unknown band called The Beatles released their new record “I want to hold your hand” in America, the first week of January. Incredibly by Jan. 25th the single shot to number one on every pop music radio station in America….Less than three weeks later Feb. 9th, The Beatles and Ed Sullivan changed the T.V. business, the music business, made history and galvanized a template and strategy that opened doors and paved the way for a wave of talent who all “talked funny” but sang great, in what occasionally sounded like a foreign language….. English! “Mods” “Rockers” the artists you loved, the ones you hated or didn’t understand. The ones you felt “You discovered” and the ones that got away…..until a little later!
As 1964 unfurled in America, day after day, week in, week out we were introduced to and fell in love with, another talented BRIT ! Yes, The Beatles led the front with The Rolling Stones at their flank and the most incredible Rank and File ever assembled marching in perfect formation toward their destination / target….America!
And on they came…. a quick glance from our Eastern shores “across the pond” and you could almost hear The Modern English Armada shouting “Hail Britania”!….We know what your thinking, “Yes! Bring ’em on” The Stones, The Kinks, The Animals….Ahh, but slow down Yankee Doodle, you’re about to be surprised by some of the names and numbers. The Beatles had established their enormous beachead stateside, so who was the next great Brit to invade America’s airwaves?
In the U.K. She was called “The greatest white soul singer in the world and as far as we’re considered “They was right” ! In February of ’64 Dusty Springfield’s powerful “I only want to be with you” pounced on us shot past The Beatles as they we’re wrapping the Sullivan shows and again from know where charted in at number twelve. We blinked and by the end of March, everyone was proclaiming The Dave Clark Five were “The next Beatles” From these early days in 1964 “They commenced to coming'” for at least the next two plus years! Do you recall Peter and Gordon (“World without Love” a Lennon McCartney song, I go to Pieces” a Del Shannon song, and of course “Woman” credited to Bernard Webb but written by McCartney)The Animals (House of the Rising Sun and “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”j Manfred Mann (“Doo Wah Diddy”)Petula Clark ( “Downtown” and”I know a Place”) Donovan ( before “Sunshine Superman” there was “Catch the Wind” and “Colors” ) Freddie and the Dreamers ( “Do the Freddie” and “I’m Telling You Now”) Wayne Fontana and the Mindbennders (“The Game of Love”) Herman’s Hermit’s ( “I’m into Something Good” “Henry the eighth” and a half-dozen more) The aforementioned Rolling Stones ( Time is on my Side” and “Last Time”) The Dave Clark Five (“Glad all Over” and Bit’s and Pieces”) Billy J. Kramer and The Dakota’s (” Little Children” and “From a Window” another Lennon McCartney comp.) The Searchers (“Needles and Pins” written by Sony Bono) The Bachelors, (“I Believe” and “My Diane”) Chad and Jeremy ” (“A Summer Song” and “Yesterday’s Gone”) Gerry and the Pacemakers (“How do you do what you do to Me” “I Like it ” and Ferry ‘Cross The Mersey”) Their manager Brian Epstein, yep that Brian Epstein, produced a B-Movie short film about ” Ferry” ( a Movie about and starring Gerry Marsden who wrote the Title song. Epstein eventually sold this nothing movie which he then coupled with “A Hard Day’s Night” as the opener for the Beatle film! Epstein also insisted that The Beatles record their own version of “How do you do”) written by “Gerry Marsden. But The Beatles vehemently resisted the idea! ( However there is a version you can find on the Beatles Anthology series and various bootlegs…..Talk about feathering your nest? Mr. Epstein Puh-Leeze! But we digress,How about The Honeycombs with A GIRL DRUMMER (“Have I The Right”) Them (Baby Please Don’t Go” and “Gloria”) Tom Jones (“It’s Not unusual”) The Yardbirds (For Your Love”) The Yardbirds also have bragging rights to have included, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton as their lead guitarist thru their brief career! The Spencer Davis Group (“Gimmie Some Lovin” and “I’m a Man”) featuring an incredibly soulful 17 year old Stevie Winwood! The Kinks (“You Really Got Me” and All Day and All of the Night” “Tired of Waiting For You”) How about the unbelievable harmonies of The Hollies (“Look Thru Any Window”and “Bus Stop”and “Stop, Stop, Stop”) The Zombies (“She’s Not There” and “Tell Her No”) and finally The Who (The Kids Are All Right” and “My Generation) Their second single in the U.S. “generation” incredibly ends with an insane DRUM SOLO by Who drummer Keith Moon!…
What’s so incredible is all these artists had at least one or more number one records in the U.S.A. From January 1964 thru December 1966!
We should note here that in 1965, The Weekly Billboard singles chart featured an artist from the British Commonwealth in the number one position 26 of the 52 weeks of publication…On May 8th of the year, that weeks Top 10 was controlled completely by British Acts with one exception, Gary Lewis and the Playboy’s “Count Me In” held in at number Two…
Math is not our strongest suit, but consider the charts and the 26 British Artists we sighted, it’s clear between ’64 -’67 at least every other record on American radio was a Great Britonian!
Lastly we must note in 1964, April 4 The Beatles held the Top 5 chart spots in America. No other Artist has ever achieved that fete before or after….Not even the top 3!
We know we’ve probably missed one of your faves, but our purpose wasn’t to unveil the obscure….But to jog loose some great memories and perhaps dust off a few old 45’s…
Most importantly we want to hear from you…We’re you there? What was your experience and perspective about the second time the U.S. was under siege by “Mother England”…..The 1960’s…
In the beginning it was Dusty..
Then Dave Clark was Glad to come along…
Later, Gerry…The Ferry song…
And on with the X Y Z’s…Zombies…
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Written on May 19, 2017
in A Day in the Life
It was 50 years ago today, May 19, 1967 that The Beatles threw a huge press party at manager Brian Epsteins home in London. The party was to announce and celebrate the upcoming June 1st. Release of their eighth studio album Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band” The album celebrated a radical change in how The Beatles made records with it’s emphasis on experimentation. It also represented the official end to any future tours for the band, as they could never replicate the sounds and arrangements they were discovering in the studio. Sgt. Pepper would go on to become Thee most Iconic album in music history, as famous for it’s cover as it is for it’s music…..To date Sgt. Pepper has sold over 35 million units. And here is a small factoid. Sgt. Pepper was the first album to include all the lyrics to all the songs on the back cover!
P.S. More has been written about this L.P. Than any other compilation in music history…
P.P.S…Stand by for an onslaught of re-issues and re-mixes come June 1st.
……..YEAH, YEAH, YEAAHHH !
Written on May 14, 2017
in Do You Want to Know a Secret?
You, of course remember, loved and likely played ’til the grooves turned grey The Moody Blues Iconic ambitious and beautiful “concept album” “Days’ of Future Passed” This was only the bands second L.P. Following their debut hit single and album “Go Now” a dramatic departure from their early sound of…er…ah…um…hmmm…actually were not sure what to call The Moody Blues early sound! Some critics have referred to it as “Blue Eye’d Soul”….Maybe, BUT, there is no question with “Days of future passed. This “Deep Track” fully orchestrated, dynamic project is Ground Zero for the “Progressive Rock” movement from November of 1967! The Band and it’s label marketed the record as the first Rock record to fully integrate a Rock band with a classical orchestra ( The London Festival Orchestra) The label even included photo’s of the orchestra in the studio with the band!
But, here’s the secret….There really is no London Festival Orchestra….It’s a “Brand” that Decca records created. The “Orchestra you here on DFP are just a handful of hired studio string and horn players mixed in with a Mellotron ( a string simulation device)….Further, The Moody Blues were never even in the studio when the string parts were laid down. In spite of the “augmented” photos you see on the back cover…..You get it. The whole thing was a marketing hoax. However the underlying concept of writing songs about each part of the day was sound and generated at least 4 huge hit singles. Remember “Dawn is The Feeling”…”Tuesday Afternoon,” “Evening Time To Get Away”
And everyone’s swooning favorite……wait for it………
…..”Nights In White Satin”
Yep all from “Day’s Of Future Passed” featuring “The London Phoney Baloney Orchestra….But, like you we loved it, slow danced with our girlfriend and thought we saw God…. “And I Love You, Whoa how I Love You-ooooo”…fade
Hold on, we have to hear “Nights”
Written on May 5, 2017
in Do You Want to Know a Secret?
It was 50 years ago today, May 5th 1967 that The Kinks released their staggeringly beautiful “Waterloo Sunset”. Acclaimed by many as The Kinks single best piece of work, it was solely written and produced by Ray Davies! ( without any help from long time Kinks producer Shel Talmy) Didja know that the song was originally titled “Liverpool Sunset”? Although a Londoner, Davies had fallen in love with the Liverpool area and it’s trending music scene. Ray tended to spend all his free time there. And yes, One of The Kinks early gigs was a five week stand at The Cavern Club! Early on, many fans believed “Waterloo Sunset” was about two very popular English actors Terrance Stamp and Julie Christie who were allegedly in a relationship, due to the song lyric….”Terry meets Julie, Waterloo station every Friday night” But it wasn’t true. The line was referring to Ray’s sister Julie and her boyfriend Terry. As incredible as the record was it stalled at number two in the U.K. And barely charted in the U.S.
Let’s listen to one of the best from the 1960’s
Written on May 1, 2017
in Do You Want to Know a Secret?
Elton John’s nickname is “Rocket Man”, So dubbed after his huge number one hit, of the same name in 1972, from his “Honkey Chateau” album. However, his very good friend Rod Stewart always calls him Sharon !…
But….Get this, didja know that Rod did a huge solid for his friend “Sharon” when in 1970 Rod recorded and released “Country Comfort”…. An early song from Elton John and Bernie Taupin. A full two years prior to Elton releasing it in 1972 on his “Tumbleweed Connection” album!
“That’s what friends are for”!
Soooo, Let’s listen to Rod’s recording from “Gasoline Alley”…….”For Sharon”
Written on April 25, 2017
I do ! The first time I went down to the record store and bought my first record! The record store was Pedrinis Music on Eagle Rock Blvd in Eagle Rock Calif. The Masterpiece I wanted was “Venus” by Frankie Avalon. A beautiful, overproduced, ballad, sung by one of our first “Teen Idols” Today, you’d call it a “Chick Record” But I loved it, it touched me, it spoke to me. I know, you know the feeling. It happens to everyone who truly loves music, at least once. You hear a song or artist and BAM! It’s yours, You own it! And then you take emotional possesion of it Yes, it’s yours…You Found it, You “Hear it”, You understand it and you appreciate it as only YOU can ! And no one else does.For me, it was “Venus” by Frankie Avalon ! and It was time Jan. 1960.Now I had to actually own it. I’d saved my Xmas money, and I finally had the 98 cents I needed to buy my first record. So me and my best friend Louie are off on the one hour walk to Mecca (Pedrinis) Louie didn’t have a clue. Why would he? “Venus” by Frankie Avalon was made for me…Just me….Only I understood it etc. blah, blah, blah! But, in no time, were there. Excitedly I’m in the store, browsing the record bins, and I see every record I’ve ever heard on the radio. Except! You guessed it “Venus” by Frankie Avalon. Of course, this record is way to rare and exclusive for Pedrinis in Eagle Rock But, just then, old Mr. Pedrini comes over, looking as un-cool as any old guy can look. He absolutely will have no clue as to what I’M looking for…..So he asks “What can I help you with?” And I unload,expecting the worst…”Well, you see sir, there’s this amazing record I heard called “Venus” by Frankie Avalon, It’s really cool, I heard it on KFWB Channel 98 at 8:30 in the morning today and Friday and, blah, blah, blah, blah. Mr. Pedrini wisely raises his hand to shut me up and says simply “So you’d like a copy of Frankie’s latest single “Venus”? YES I nod. And then Mr. Pedrini says, “step over here, I have a box behind the counter” Hunh? what kind of universe did I just enter? Not only did old un-cool Mr. Pedrini know what I was talking about, he had a “box of ‘Em behind the counter. But wait, that suggests Mr. Pedrini expected someone else may know about Venus and want to buy it as well. Unfathomable! So, should I bag one up? he sez, Yes sir, I reply. “Would you like to hear it before you take it home ? Of course I would, but I hesitate. What if he cracks it or scratches it’? But I agree to take the risk and there we are, awash in ” Venus” by Frankie Avalon. When Louie interrupts and blurts out ” Hey I know this song, I just heard it on KFWB” AHHHH..Shut up Louie….Too late, The Dream is over, for now. Because, in little over an hour I’m home sitting in my room and for the first time dropping the needle on “Venus” by Frankie Avalon and my bedroom is transformed into a radio station AND I’M THE DJ. But something is different, the record sounds different, but in a good way. Even on my official Bozo the Clown record player “Venus sounds different The Voices are more clear, I hear cymbals, bells etc. I later learn why. I had only heard “Venus on KFWB a.m. 980 and with it’s limited band width, I wasn’t hearing much of what was on this great record. But ole “Bozo” came thru in smi Hi-Fidelity. Now, time to send Louie home and figue out a way to talk to Frankie Avalon, Thank him for “Venus” and comfort him with the knowledge that I now own the record he made for me…..
HOW WAS YOUR FIRST TIME ? (Meanwhile, Here’s Frankie with “Venus”…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4spEihrWpPM
Written on April 20, 2017
Folk rock!…..or,…..When Worlds Collide….. The inevitable and incredible merger of two uniquely American musical genres. Folk Music, performed almost exclusively on acoustic string instruments and “borrowed” it’s themes and lyrical message from the “Beat Generation” and the “Beat Poets” who came of age and notoriety in the fifties. Folk music gave them a new voice.
Rock and Roll, also originating from the 1950’s was loud, driven, electric, and lays claim to being the first music to divide generations and has been a contnuos rich source of controversy and scandal ever since! But! In 1965, inspired and influenced by the British Invasion, in particularly The Beatles, Folk rock was born. SMS has often discussed the many musical genres that were born in the 1960’s and while most musical styles gradually crept into our souls and psyche’s, many music historians can nail down the birth of Folk Rock to a very exact date!
In 1965, both Folk Music and Rock and Roll had fully matured and on July 25th 1965 at the annual Newport folk festival Bob Dylan took the stage ( this was his third appearance) unpacked his Fender Stratocaster,and started playing his new single “Like a Rolling Stone” which had just been released only a few days before. The crowed went crazy, however, to Dylan’s surprize, half the audience was “Booing”
Bob Dylan being booed?…Afterall at this point in time Dylan had reached “Icon” status as Americas leading singer/songwriter and the current Godfather to the world of Folk Music, where “electricity” just simply wasn’t allowed. Dylan purists were outraged, but the rest of the world loved and embraced this new sound. However, as spontaneous as “Dylan goes electric” may have sounded, 3000 miles to the west in Los Angeles “Folk Rock” was taking hold, but even on the west coast Dylan’s influence and contribution was omnipresent. “Like a Rolling Stone” skyrocketed to the top 10….Meanwhile in June of ’65 The Byrds scored their first number one with “Mr. Tambourine Man” a Dylan song. just a few weeks later Columbia releases The Byrds second single. Dylan’s, “All I really want to do”! Ah, but, dear reader it gets better. As “All I Really Want To Do” is climbing up the charts. EMI records releases Chers version of the song. Chers version takes over at radio, shooting past the Byrds and ultimately peaking at #15 with The Byrds stalling at #40. Then, in Sept. perrinial Top 40 hit makers, The Grass Roots release their debut single Dylan’s “Ballad of a thin man” ( Mr. Jones ) still later in October of ’65 a former surf band called The Crossfires, recorded another Dylan Composition called “It ain’t me babe” changed their name to The Turtles and Folk Rock takes root. Didja know that The Turtles otiginally spelled their name Tyrtles ? A tip of their hat to The Byrds and the British Invasion. Sooo, if you’ve payed attention and did the math, you’ll note that Bob Dylan had six songs by four artists in The Top 40 during the summer of 1965! Dylan went from The Godfather of Folk to ground zero and The High Priest of “Folk Rock!
But wait! There’s one more incestuos Folk rock tid bit….In late 1964 Roger (then Jim) McGuinn and Gene Clark wrote a song called “You Showed Me” It was recorded and released by The Turtles in 1968 and it was their final hit. The Byrds ignored it till 1969 when they released their original demo of the song including it on their Preflyte album.
By the end of ’65 it was clear that the Jingle Jangle of Folk rock was the future and Los Angeles was the place to be. Like the British Invasion, each day you’d turn on the radio and a new, soon to be superstar was playing. In addition to all the inside trading between The Byrds, The Turtles and Dylan, There was The Buffalo Springfield, Poco,The Beau Brummells and The Beach Boys……That’s right, The Beach Boys! Just listen to Sloop John B. And of course, Sonny and Cher!
The Byrds and The Buffalo Springfield would morph into mega stars Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Poco would become Loggins and Messina Cher, would go on to have three or four careers, beginning with her breakthrough hit “All I really want to to do followed by multiple hits with hubby Sonny Bono, including their gigantic breakthrough, the very Dylan sounding “I got you Babe” eventually, they would have their own variety T.V show, where their music credibility suffered greatly, but Cher perceivered and ventured off on a solo career, again with several hits……Remember “Gypsy’s Tramps and Thieves”….”Dark Lady”….The list goes on up till the eighties with “Believe” at this point Cher was also enjoying a thriving film career ( career number four ).There are so many more Artists, Simon and Garfunkle, The Lovin’ Spoonful and The biggest of all super groups who made the migration from the East Coast to the West. And they had two hits about the process. the first hit was about The dream and motivation to come to L.A. The second hit was a song about the actual struggles and process to relocate to “La La Land ! The band of course was The Mama’s and The Papa’s and the songs were “California Dreamin’ and “Creeque Alley.”
The truth is the title of this post…”John and Mitchy were gettin’ kinda itchy” is taken from a line of lyric from “Creeque Alley” The complete line is, “John and Mitchy were gettin’ kinda itchy just to leave the folk music behind.”……John and Mitchy are John Phillips and his beautiful wife Michelle….essentially the song describes the formation and evolution of The Mama’s and Papa’s and how they gave up the east coast folk scene to move to Southern California ( California Dreamin’ ) and play their unique version of Folk rock! Finally, there is so much music to choose from but let’s listen to Dylan’s “All I really want to do. First by Cher
And then, The incredible Byrds
Written on April 14, 2017
in A Day in the Life
Didja know that on this day, April 14th 1969 The Beatles ( actually only John and Paul) entered the studio to record “The Ballad of John and Yoko. The first and only single to feature only John and Paul……John on guitars and Paul on Bass, Drums and Piano. However, The Ballad of John and Yoko was notorious for including the word “Christ” in the lyric…”Christ you know it ain’t easy” resulting in many radio stations banning the record, many others made their own edit of the record and edited in the word “Christ” BACKWARDS! however most stations opted to simply “Bleep” out the word Christ. Leading to audiences believing that the “Bleeped” version was how the Beatles intended it. However one station in L.A. KRLA Played the new hit as it was recorded “Christ and all!….Leading to a fan with a great sense of humor, to take out a mock ad in Billboard magazine accusing KRLA of wrongfully…”Christing out The Bleeps”….think about it!…..HA!
Christ…. let’s listen, and watch!
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Written on March 29, 2017
A wise man once said “Everything I know about life, I learned from Rock and Roll” We won’t go that far but we will add “Everything we know about cars we learned from Brian Wilson” !
Cars have been a great “Vehicle” ( forgive us) for the American songwriter for nearly a century. The first publication of a “Car Song” goes back to 1917 with a very popular Tune called “The Automobile song which went on to be performed and recorded by dozens of artists. And indeed, in 1939 Bing Crosby enjoyed a huge world wide hit with “In My Merry Oldsmobile” But something phenomenal happened in the 60’s. When the 1960’s arrived they brought along an entire generation of “Baby Boomers” who all “came of driving age” during the greatest decade of music! America went from a country of One car families, to a country of two and thee car families. A Car Culture was taking hold. And like any cultural shift, it is reflected in the arts. We have often written about the diversity of musical genres’ that the Sixties ushered in, but arguably “Car Songs” is the most peculiar and most short lived. What made car songs so unusual is how the songwriters somehow romanticized not just the cars, but the actual parts of the car..Do you recall? “she’s got positive traction, I’m ridin’ the clutch, my pressure plates are burnin’ and she’s too much”..”Shut Down” by The Beach Boys! As a young man growing up in the 60’s, working on your car was a weekend right of passage. And unless your father was a mechanic, or you took “Auto Shop” in high school, there were few places you could turn to for help. “Car Songs” not only” had a good beat”. They were educational. The Car Song phenomenon began yet again by Brian Wilson, and much like how Brian’s power of observation, rather than participation drove his creative process to write songs about “Surfing”,Brian was inspired to write about Cars from conversations with his friend and collaborator Gary Usher who was a Car/Hot Rod enthusiast. In 1962 Brian and The Beach Boys had just begun to cement their unique Surf sound, but Brian, Gary and fellow Beach Boy Mike Love had come up with a song they intended to only be a “B” side on their second single, “Surfin’ Safari” 409 !….A song about a boy who saves his money to buy his Dream Car, a Chevy 409 Bel Air coupe, however the song also includes something we’d never heard before….AN EQUIPMENT LIST….”My four speed, dual quad, positraction, 409″, The education begins. It’s practically a foreign language, but some curious D.J. Flips Surfin’ Safari over, spins “409” and bam a song about a car hits The Billboard charts, gives The Beach Boys their first double sided hit and initiates a new genre in music. 409 becomes ground zero for Car Songs.The Boys go on to score more hits with Car songs, including “Shut Down”, “Little Deauce Coup and “Fun fun fun” even their plaintiff ballad “Don’t Worry Baby” is about car racing. And of course in Christmas 1963 they released “Little Saint Nick” their tribute to Santa’s sleigh “It’s Candy Apple Red with a ski for a wheel and when Santa hits the gas, you know that he really peels.” A light weight piece of Beach Boy fluff ( which was more than a little reminiscent of “Little Deauce Coup”) released on Dec. 9th and it was exactly what America needed as we were still mourning the loss of President Kennedy only a few weeks earlier. As The Beach Boys led the pack, Pop Music followed. Jan and Dean, who were close friends and frequent collaborators with Brian and the boys had only recently taken us to ” Surf City” where there were “Two Girls for every boy” and introduced us to “Honalulu Lulu” now, they’re off to “Drag Gity” where you “Burn up that quarter mile” and Jan waxes romantically about his “Blue Coral Wax ” job” and his “Chrome reversed wheels.”Next, the duo releases what is to become their signature song. “The little old lady from Pasadena”…The title came from a Dodge T.V. Commercial and dealt with An old gal who drove “A shiny red super sport Dodge and loved to race the youngsters up and down Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena California. However, the most profound of Car Songs goes to Jan and Dean for their haunting and profetic “Dead Mans Curve” Co written with Brian Wilson and released in 1964. The song tells the story of a race between a Stingray and a Jaguare XKE. The race begins in Hollywood at the corner of Sunset and Vine but ends badly when the pair reaches “Dead Mans Curve” in Beverly Hills (The curve actually exists) The song ends with a melodramatic confession from the driver of the Stingray, talking to a doctor…..”The last thing I remember Doc, I started to swerve, and then I saw the Jag slide into the curve”….( complete with gruesome car crash sound effects) The chorus chimes in ( “won’t come back from Dead Mans curve”) and Jan and Dean have another number one with a deadly Car Song. But!..Hold On, here’s the rest of the horrible Ironic story. Two years later 1966 Jan Berry was driving along Sunset Blvd. one evening, he came upon Dead Mans Curve a little too fast, turned off sunset and slammed into a parked truck! Jan survived the near fatal crash, but was rendered permanently paralyzed on his right side until his death from an accident related seizure in 2004. We spent some time with Jan in the early 70’s listening to new songs and demo’s, but his new music had lost the sparkle and innovation he was so good at. However to he and Deans credit the duo continued to appear live together. Jan, a little rusty and mumbled, but proving “You can come back from “Dead Mans Curve”
The Beach Boys with Jan and Dean lead the charge with Car Songs, but pop music’s creators fall in step. Writer/producers Bruce Johnston and Terry Melcher go from “Summer means fun” and “Here comes summer” as Bruce and Terry to “Hey little cobra” and “Three window coupe” as The Rip Chords. But, perhaps the oddest of the quick change artist to succeed with a car song was a completely unknown SURF BAND based in Nashville Tennessee….HUNH?… who called themselves “Ronnie and The Daytonas ( FYI, there was no one named Ronnie in the band…HUNH?) they came up with a car song idea that went to number one in 1964 and sold over One Million singles…”Little GTO”….”Three deuces and a four speed and a 389” more of that romantic car song lyric…..
Millions of records sold, billions of dollars generated, yet this unusual genre of pop songs about Clutches, Carburetors and Cubic inches lasted barely two years ’62 – ’64 That is unless you include Bod Dylan’s “From a Buick 6” in 1965, or The Beatles’ “Drive My Car” in 1966 or everyone’s favorite Paul Muriat’s “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” in 1968!
Finally, we all have a favorite car song. In many cases it was playing on the A.M. Radio the first time we got behind the wheel!
What is YOUR CAR SONG,and What was your car? Ours was a seriously used 59 Chevy Biscayne, to the tune of “Good Vibrations.” She was the size of a Riverboat and that’s how she drove up and down Colorado Blvd. But…As Jan and Dean sang “But she still gets me where I wanna go”
……Do you speak the language? Listen to Brian and the boys sing about their car that was “Ported and relieved and stroked and bored”AND, she had a “flat head mill”
We don’t either!…
Written on March 25, 2017
in A Day in the Life
It was on this day, March 25, 1966 that The Beatles met at Bob Whitakers photo studio in London for a photo shoot of what was to be the cover for their next (ninth) album titled “Yesterday and Today”
The lads dressed up in white coats, and then were covered with cuts of raw meat and decapitaded plastic baby dolls. Smiling gleefully at the camera, the shoot took on the image of a strange nightmare! Whitaker was one of the bands favorite photographers. He shared their love for the absurd, had a mean sarcastic sense of humor and an Avant Garde style that The Beatles, especially, as you may guess, John absolutely adored! It was Whitakers idea for the bizarre set up and shoot. At this point in time the band would try anything to distance themselves from the image of deity’s, and somehow Whitaker convinced the band that his idea would be a statement on how they were just four normal men! Yeah, we never got that either? Meanwhile, they completed the shoot that afternoon and the images were delivered to Capitol records who wasted no time prepping and producing the new release. Capitol’s initial pressing was 750,000 units. However the immediate and universal reaction was so negative that Capitol had to recall all 750,000 records and replace the offensive cover by simply pasting a new cover ( a completely uninteresting shot of the band standing with an empty trunk (see below) The recall and replace process cost Capitol records $250,000! Wiping out any profit Capitol would had made on their first run of the record….However they did create one of Beatle mania’s most sought after collectors items. For years afterwords Beatle fans scoured the bins of record stores looking for a copy of “Yesterday and Today” with the “paste over cover” To this day if you find one and hold it up to the light just right you can see the original “Butcher” cover behind the “Trunk” cover! Meanwhile, if you’re so inclined, you can pick one up on E Bay for a cool $3,000
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!
Have you ever seen one? Or…..Do you have one?
Written on March 9, 2017
in Do You Want to Know a Secret?
You, of course remember and likely loved the “Cheesey” garage band classic “96 Tears” by ? And the Mysterians in 1966. But, did you know that the original title of the song ( written in 1962) was….”69 Tears” ? The bands manager convinced the band to “invert the numbers” and make the change, fearing radio stations wouldn’t play it with the double entendres of the title. ( listen closely to the lyric and you’ll realize how closely the original title reflects the lyrics…..yes they do.) Right or wrong, the song shot to number one, sold one million singles and a very mysterious and legendary band was born. Many historians sight ? And The Mysterians as Thee first “Punk Band”
Here’s what it sounded like after the re-write in 1966….
My God,….I Just Can’t Stop Dancin’….
How ’bout You?
Written on March 2, 2017
in A Day in the Life
Didja know that THE ONE AND ONLY TIME Elvis ever stepped on British soil was on this day, March 2nd in 1960!…It was during his stint in the Army when a transport plane he was flying on had to make a fuel stop in Prestwick Scotland!
Guess The King didn’t like what he saw? And yes it’s true, Elvis never performed in England….Believe it or not!…
But, check out his Blue suede Shoes…
Written on February 26, 2017
in Do You Want to Know a Secret?
Didn’t you love Hermans Hermits featuring Peter Noone as “Herman”? Although considered a singles artist and never critical darlings, they had over a half dozen huge and very diverse hits “Something Good” “Mrs Brown You’ve got a lovely daughter” “Henry The Eighth” There’s a Kind of Hush” “Listen People” and of course ” Dandy” a bouncy happy go lucky song about a womanizing “ladies man.” An unusual song for the band ro record, as Hermans Hermits, didn’t write their songs, usually turning to professional songwriters in the U.S. And U.K. “Unusual” because “Dandy was written by the amazing Ray Davies! Front man and principal songwriter for The Kinks! Furthermore, The Kinks released their own version at the exact same time as The Hermits. Strange as it sounds, The Kinks recording received absolutely no attention, while Hermans Hermits had an international smash!….”Dandy you’re all right”
Here’s Peter…..er, Herman…
Written on February 3, 2017
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Written on January 15, 2017
in A Day in the Life
It was on this very day, Sunday, January 15, 1967 that the Rolling Stones appeared on The Ed Sullivan show to perform their new single. “Let’s Spend The Night Together” After reviewing the songs lyric Mr. Sullivan demanded that they change the lyric to “Let’s Spend Some Time Together! During the live performance, an obviously annoyed Mick Jagger could be seen “rolling his eyes each time he sang the changed lyric..Only to have Ed Sullivan announce that The Rolling Stones were forever banned from ever appearing on his show again!
Yes, Mr Ed was a tough guy, but The Stones took it in stride, in fact they just released their latest Album last month. 50 years later!
Did you see the program that Sunday ? It was priceless! Pictured above, Mr. Sullivan giving Mick ” A Stern Talking To”!…
Here’s the original “Offensive recording…
Written on January 10, 2017
in Do You Want to Know a Secret?
We’ve all heard plenty of insane stories about the legendary and notorious record producer Phil Specter! Our favorite, however, occurred during the production of what many believe was Specters signature “Wall Of Sound” recording. “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” by The Righteous Brothers, Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield. From the beginning, the production was subject to debate, Bill and Bobby thought the song was to long, and the tempo to slow. Lastly, the song was written in a key that required Medley to sing it in his “Basso Profundo” voice ( quite simply, his deepest voice) But the pay off came when they were about to record the vocals. Specter sat down with Medley and Hatfield and explained how it was going to be. “Bill, you’ll start the song and sing the first verse solo…Bobby, you’ll stay out until the first chorus”! Bobby, obviously annoyed and upset with Phil, responds by saying “Well what am I supposed to do while Bill is singing? Phil snaps back immediately, saying simply…”GO TO THE BANK”….
Meanwhile, this legendary recording was the Record of the year in 1965….It was the most successful record of The ’60’s and in 1999 BMI DECLARED IT “The Most Played Song of the Twentieth Century
Bobby and Bill spent a lot of time at the bank!
Take a listen once more to just how well Phil Specters’ plan worked.
Written on January 6, 2017
Yes, Virginia, there was a ” Laurel Canyon Mafia” Laurel Canyon, a cozy hamlet centered in the low lying Hollywood hills, looming over the infamous Sunset Strip and acting as a geographical and cultural divide between L.A.s San Fernando Valley and West Hollywood. Laurel Canyon was a veritable magnet for all creative types, most notably in the 1960’s musicians and recording artists, but the names that make up the residents, friends and neighbors of ” The Canyon” read like a murderers row of “Hitmen and Women. They made the rules, broke the rules, but unquestionably they simply ruled the world of music in the 60’s. They worked together, created together and of course slept together while consistently making the greatest music of our generation or anyone’s. So, who were ” The Laurel Canyon Mafia? Let’s see if any of these names sound familiar. The Byrds, The Doors, The Turtles, The Buffalo Springfield, The Mama’s and The Papa’s “Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young” Joni Mitchell, Carole King and Linda Ronstadt. ” The Mafia” we’re a warm welcoming gang so the residents frequently included the transient Beatle, Stone or other rock royalty, just passin’ through and “Looking for a place to crash” The legend and tales of The Laurel Canyon Mafia are notorious and numerous, so let’s begin early on when a young Richie Furay and Stephen Stills were in Laurel Canyon working on material for their new as yet unnamed band, with Bruce Palmer and Neil Young. While discussing what to call the group they were interrupted by the roar of a steamroller working outside. Looking up, they saw the machine with it’s manufacturer’s name emblazoned on it’s side… There it was “Buffalo Springfield” BAM, history made from the blast of a diesel! Years later Mama Cass invited her neighbors Graham Nash and David Crosby over for lunch, Cass insisted she instinctively knew their voices would have a magical blend if they harmonized together. Graham and David gave it a try, next door neighbor Stephen stills dropped by, added a third vocal and awesome guitar fills and BAM, right in Mama Cass’ kitchen, Crosby, Stills and Nash are born. The influence this unusual community had on the artists is undeniable. On the day Graham Nash moved in with Joni Mitchell, he wrote about it (first Verse) ” I’ll light the fire, while you place the flowers in the vase that you bought today, ay, ay, ay,” ” Our house is a very, very, very fine house” Unfortunately, as word about the community spread, Laurel Canyon became a kind of tourist attraction especially among young women hoping to meet and “get to know” their idols. Perhaps the most blatant song about the growing saga of Laurel Canyon was the final hit single from The Mama’s and The Papa’s “Twelve Thirty” written by the groups patriarch John Phillips. History will indicate that John, perhaps revealed a little to much information, admitting lyrically in the songs chorus, ” Young girls are coming to the canyon, and in the morning I can see them walking, I can no longer keep my blinds closed and I can’t keep myself from talking”Whaddya think ? The Doors classic ” Love Street” Yup, smack dab in Laurel Canyon !…..Any stories anyone?
Written on January 1, 2017
Today, Sunday January first 2017 marks “Day One” of the fiftieth anniversary of the most prolific, diverse, creative and experimental year of music in the decade of the greatest music in history! Like no year before or any to come since, 1967 opened new doors of musical diversity as well as challanging and embracing artists to take chances and experiment!
When 1967 arrived, The West Coast sound had washed from “sea to shining sea.” The world had surrendered to “The British Invasion” and Motown dominated The Top 40. 1967 ushered in “Psychedelia”and firmly planted San Francisco on our Musical Map. Who among us didn’t chase the “White Rabbit ” down the rabbit hole with Grace Slick from The Jefferson Airplane, suspiciously pondering the “Mind Bending”Lyric…”When one pill makes you larger and one pill makes you small, and the ones that mother gives you.. Don’t do anything at all”..
“Call Alice”! ( remember?)
We all scoured the works of Lewis Carroll looking for more “Psychedelic” references….. In 1967, San Francisco became “Mecca” when nearly 100,000 young music lovers,would be revolutionaries and various culture junkies merged on the bay city chasing the magic and messages of “The Beat Poets” who populated the Haight/Ashbury district of San Francisco the decade before. But, “Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll” was the new battle cry, and what everyone was searching for. It was being called “The Summer of Love.” And in June of ’67 ground zero for The Summer of Love was”The Monterey Pop Festival”Officially titled “The Monterey International Pop Music festival” but often wrongly referred to as “The Monterey ROCK festival. The promoters wanted it to be about diversity, ALL KINDS OF “POPULAR MUSIC, experimentation and coming together. The line up was staggering…Imagine, Otis Redding, Ravi Shankar, Simon and Garfunkel, Hugh Masekella, Janis Joplin, The Mama’s and Papas, The Who, The Grateful Dead and Jimi Hendrix. It was at Monterey ( The Who’s first show in The U.S.) where The Who became famous for smashing their instruments at the end of their show! And it was at Monterey where Jimi Hendrix, in a deliberate stunt to upstage The Who, famously lit his guitar on fire for the first time!
Experimentation! Throw out the rule book on music! That’s what 1967 was all about! The Monterey Pop festival became the template for all music festivals to come including the phenomenal “Woodstock” only two years later in 1969
However in 1967 The Beatles raised the bar on experimentation to a new level. Consider this, in 1967 The Beatles released “Sgt. Pepper” and ” Magical Mystery Tour” ( The album and the film) plus their contribution to the first international live T.V. Broadcast. The “One World” live telecast connected 26 countries and their contribution to the Arts! The U.K.’s contribution was The Beatles playing “All You Need Is Love” ….All in one year, 1967
Meanwhile 1967 introduced The Beatles to something they had not experienced before, “Failure.” In 1967 The Beatles established Apple Corps LTD. Inspired by manager Brian Epstein’s constant battle to avoid the “Taxman”. At their peak, they were in an exclusive group of “Super Tax Payers” paying Taxes at an unthinkable rate of just over 98% “Unthinkable” Apple was the bands idea for a company that was solely interested in art, and the artists. Forget about commerce and with the passing of Brian Epstein early in the year. It became a situation where “The Inmates were running the asylum” Apple was conceived as a safe haven for all artists with emphasis on Fashion, clothing lines( a retail outlet,,The Apple Boutique.) Inventors (Magic Alex) Film makers and of course musical artists…
Even for the incredible Beatles and without the guiding hand of Brian Epstein on the tiller, things began to go wrong very quickly. The first dissappointment was their film “Magical Mystery Tour”
Written, Produced, Directed and Starring John, Paul, George and Ringo, this 52 minute, plotless, heavy handed, self indulgent overly ambitious “Movie” was killed and summarily dismissed by critics and audiences. ( did you ever see it?) Intiially the band didn’t have enough new material to release an accompanying L.P. ( As they had done so successfully with their two previous films “Help” and “A Hard Days Night”)So they released a short 5 song E.P. More disappointed fans! In fact, concerned for their reputations, and with no interest from any major U.S. Movie studios, the film wasn’t officially released in the U.S. Until 1974!….Hard to believe, ain’t it?
To date there are no records of what the budget for the film was or how much it earned at the box office, but they shot for two weeks, netting 10 hours of film, edited down to 52 minutes! You do the math!
Meanwhile in Dec. of ’67 The band opens what they believed would be The Crown Jewel in their new enterprise. “The Apple Boutique” The boutique was essentially a clothing store where according to The Beatles….” A beautiful place where beautiful people, could buy beautiful things”….It didn’t quite work that way. The shop was run by various Beatle employees and their friends and relatives. Jenny Boyd, Patti Boyd’s sister was the shop keeper. But it was in no ones nature to either manage or police the business, they got killed by shady dealings, and theft, by customers and employees. In less than six months The Beatles had lost over £ 200,000 and “The Beautiful place” was closed by June ’68. On the day the shop closed. The Beatles announced that they were giving away all the shops inventory, causing a riot and mayhem in the street!
Probably the most bizzare chapter of the Apple Corps Ltd. story is Magic Alex. A Greek “inventor” Alex Mardas, befriended the band and promised he could conjure up all kinds of exotic electronics that would change the world and the Beatles would own! Here are just a few of his far flung promises… An impenetrable force field that would surround and protect each of their houses….A hand held X-Ray camera…A car that would change color with the flick of a switch…?…..Wall paper that contained full dimensional loud speakers…..and our favorite. Magic paint that when applied to anything would render the object INVISABLE…..?
As you may guess, non of these devices never even reached a “prototype” except one. It was called “A Nothing Box” and that’s what it was, a small plastic box with a few small blinking lights. Lennon saw the box while dropping LSD and just sat and stared at it for hours. Then proclaiming “Magic Alex is our new Apple electronics Guru” Tens of thousands of pounds were given to Alex before The Beatles woke up and parted ways with this Con Artist! The final blow for Magic Alex came down when he told John and Paul that he needed the engines out of their Rolls Royces, so he could build a “Flying Saucer” to fly them in! (The truth is Alex was a T.V. Repairman in Greece)
However large the disaster of Apple Corps Ltd. may appear, the venture eventually took a major turn for the good, when in 1968 The Beatles formed the now legendary Apple Records. The label like everything else was run loosely and free wheeling, again calling on old friends and acquaintances to run it…BUT! Apple records was only about making music and records, something the Beatles were the best at in the entire world. All four Beatles began signing their favorite new finds! Recognize these names? James Taylor (Yep, same guy you still love today) Badfinger, Jackie Lomax, Billy Preston and Mary Hopkin ( remember “Those were the days”?) The fact remains that they signed several acts that failed as well… Ringo signed some odd Indian Zeydeko band out of New Orleans….But, in Apple Records first year they had several hits. In fact they released their first two Apple records on the same day. Mary Hopkins “Those were the days” and their own “Hey Jude” both records shot to number one! And The Beatles put “Failure back in the rear view mirror said “Goodbye” to 1967 and continued making the most innovative and exciting music both together and apart when they finally broke up in April 1970, when Paul officially announced he was leaving the band……”All you need is space” Take a moment to look and listen to some great moments “down in Monterey” in 1967…
Written on December 7, 2016
in A Day in the Life
It was on this day Dec 7, 1967, Otis Redding went into a Memphis studio and began recording his classic “Sitting on the dock of the bay” Otis never finished that recording. In fact his whistling toward the end was just filler until he could complete the lyric. He died three days later in a tragic plane crash, on his way up to Wisconsin for a live date and T.V. Performance. The incomplete “Dock Of The Bay” was rush released just a few weeks later and immediately became history’s first posthumous number one record! Otis was living on a houseboat in Sausalito Calirornia when he wrote the song…
…..Here’s the legendary recording…(Listen for the whistle)
Written on November 2, 2016
We’ll get to the point dear reader, but first we want to talk about our favorite singer/songwriter from The 60’s Harry Nilsson!
Unassuming, soft spoken, timid, tremendously talented and criminally unrecognized. In our book, Harry goes down as arguably Thee greatest singer/ songwriter of the 1960’s and beyond. In fact, in Rolling Stones list of The 100 greatest songwriters of all time, Harry Nilsson weighed in at #64…OF ALL TIME! Our only disagreement with Rolling Stone is perhaps Harry should be number one! Consider this, in his initial year seriously writing songs in the mid sixties Harry’s songs were covered and he had hits with such diverse artists as The Yardbirds ( “Ten little Indians” ) The Monkees ( “Cuddly Toy” ) and of course a recording everyone adores, “One” by Three Dog Night. We should also mention that Harry also wrote and performed the theme to the hugely popular T.V. Program “The Courtship of Eddies Father” The Song was “Let me tell you ’bout my best friend” It’s all coming back now isn’t it ? Well, that’s one of The Points…
Meanwhile, The Beatles get wind of Harry. They go on to order boxes of Harry’s debut L.P. “Pandemonium Shadow Show and pass them on to all their friends. In separate interviews when John and Paul are individually asked “Who’s your favorite American artist? They both give the same answer…Harry Nilsson ! RCA ( Harry’s record label) proceeds to “Sticker” Harry second L.P. “Aerial Ballet” with a badge that say’s “John Lennon’s favorite Artist”…..unheard of at that time in the music biz! Harry and John became close friends with Harry aiding, abetting and partnering with John through his infamous “Lost Weekend” It was Harry who was with John during his legendary incident at The Troubador Club in L.A. Where a very drunk John and Harry were thrown out of the club after John got a little too aggressive with a waitress, providing the origin of one of rocks greatest quotes…
In addition to his drunkeness, John had tied a woman’s tampon to his head, and as the waitress ushered John and Harry to their feet, John says “Do you know who I am? And the waitress famously replies, “Yes, your some asshole with a Kotex on your head”……Never the less, the point is, The Point is Harry Nilssons most important and greatest record.
Here’s why: The Point was Harry’s 6th record, yet it delivered Harry’s one and only Top 10 single with “Me and my arrow” written by him. We know what your thinking, “What about “Everybody’s Talkin’ Nope, not written by Harry, it was written by folk singer Fred Neil, and what about the incredibly beautiful “Without You”? Nope it was written by the two principal members of the band Badfinger! The writers names were Pete Ham and Tom Evans ( see the “Do you want to know a secret” page for some gruesome details)
Harry’s life and music was rich with irony, with the most ironic element being his notoriety as a songwriter yet he didn’t write his classic iconic hits!
But there’s another point to “The Point” Harry was one of the first to harness the power of Television. The release of The Point L.P. Coincided with ABC airing Harry’s stunning feature length ANIMATED “Movie Of The Week” “The Point” conceived written and produced by Harry and featuring his friends Dustin Hoffman, Ringo Starr and Alan Thicke
Something wonderful happened the day after “The Point” enjoyed it’s debut airing on ABC. The world woke up to who Harry Nilsson was. The next day “The Point” and Harry were “The Water Cooler conversation”….I recall how my best friend said to me, “Hey Everybody’s Talkin ’bout Nilsson” To this day I’m not sure if he realized what he said, but it was the truth. The Brilliance of the animation was a stunning roller coaster of color and movement, juxtaposed to Harry’s unique blend of smooth, dream like melodies accompanied by his lyrics that tell the story and make The Point with his usual Wit, Wisdom, Irony and Innuendo. (Even the cover artwork was designed to replicate “Needle Point) which, is another point altogether! Perhaps, most importantly, The Point, In addition to the hit single “Me and my Arrow” includes our two favorite Nilsson songs “Are You Sleeping” and “Think About Your Troubles” We realize naming your favorite Nilsson songs is like naming your favorite child, but But those are our all time faves…
So, Here’s the point. You need to get The Point..
The Point is Innovative, ambitious, ahead of it’s time, beautiful to look at and musically The richest record you’ll find from a Songwriter in the 1960’s…
And, here’s our final point. If you haven’t seen The Point, you need to! ( yes, it’s available thru the usual channels)
If you don’t agree it’s Nilsson’s Magnum Opus, we want to hear why?
That’s the point!
Written on October 3, 2016
Were you there? I was! In the mid sixties, Southern California became ground zero for the two greatest concert events of the decade and the generation who embraced them. The T.A.M.I. Show and The Big TNT show. Happening in 1964 and 1965 respectively. Both events promised to be “Ground Breaking, powerful and feature the greatest artists from all over the world and up and down the radio dial and to their credit, as history has proven, THEY DELIVERED…..
The buzz about The T.A.M.I show actually began in So. Cal months before the concerts Oct 29th debut. The event’s name alone grabbed us from the start T.A.M.I…”The Teenage Awards Music International! Show” Yeah, a very cool mix of James Bond and American Bandsrand. A flyer for the show also stated that T.A.M.I. Was a non profit organization. Non of us had a clue as to what that meant, but it just added to the mystique of this incredible event. The big question for me and my friends was, just who was appearing? With names like The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys Gerry and the Pacemakers and The Surpremes being confirmed daily, it was quickly rumored that The Beatles were headlining…..Not a chance, but, with the artists mentioned above along with Jan and Dean James Brown Leslie Gore, Marvin Gaye, Chuck Berry and Smokey Robinson my friends and I knew “We hadda be there” The “There” being the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, an easy 40 minute car ride from our hometown of Eagle Rock Calif. and in 1964 none of us were old enough to drive. So, one of our moms drove us to Santa Monica.The potential for horrible humiliation was huge but soooo worth it. After all tickets were free to boot! But! In no time, were there, SORT OF. Off the freeway and into the streets of SantaMonica, it’s a parking lot, cars are bumper to bumper and no ones moving! This was the Civic’s first big concert event and the auditoriums concert hall only sat 3000 and no one was prepared for the onslaught of teen age music lovers decending on Santa Monica for a free show of Superstars. But, as we slowly crept toward the venue we noticed something truly awesome to a carload of young eager boys nearly every car we pulled next to was filled with excited young girls! All heading to The T.A.M.I. Show! YES! Thank you God. The truth is, the producers of the show visited all the local high schools in the area and handed out free tickets to the female students. Talk about “papering the house? But….We made it through the traffic past a security line that was primarily focused on the young girls in attendance and where they would be seated. My buddies and I were simply happy to be there among them, although we quickly learned one of music’s great lessons….The girls are out to meet “The boys in the band” and you are either in the way, or can help them out… OUCH
Meanwhile, we nervously fidgeted in our seats, looking over our shoulders and scanning the room. The unspoken truth was all of us had received a stern warning from our parents. They noted that The T.A.M.I show would feature as many “Soul Singers” ( or as we’d say today ” artists of color”) as “White” artists and racial tensions were likely to escalate. Our parents were right about the racial mix of artists. The T.A.M.I. Show stage embraced a line up of musical and racial diversity like no one had witnessed before. Frankly, even the producers were a bit concerned. However, the sad truth was, as my friends and I observed. We were part of this historic event and to our surprise an entirely all white audience! But, the lights go down, the curtain goes up and a mega ton blast of youthful energy explodes in the room and all any of us can see are the greatest artists of our generation! Everyone performed live, there was NO lip syncing at The T.A.M.I. Show. The sound was great and the backing band ( under the direction of Jack Nitzshe were tight, sounded awesome and backed each act with note by note perfection. Makes sense as the T.A.M.I. Show back up band went on to be known as “The Wrecking Crew and they actually were the session players who originally played on most of the records being performed at the show and so it went on… Artist after Artist, hour after hour. Jan and Dean opened the show and emceed, proving they were more than just Frat house boys who could harmonize. Chuck Berry followed and proved that he was, well….”Chuck Berry. Yes he sang “Maybelene” but it was his guitar playing that left us slack jawed and in awe, The Beach Boys were still mastering their instruments and coaleceing as a band. But their vocals were impeccable The same could be said for The Surpremes, plus this is 1964, prior to Diana Ross becoming Thee Diva.
As an audience we were stunned with each act being better than the one before…A teenage Leslie Gore strutted on stage and took over playing hit after hit exactly like they sounded on the radio. As did Marvin Gaye…
However, it’s the finale of The Tami show that much has been written about, and you probably know. The legendary argument over who would close the show, James Brown or The Rolling Stones. It’s here at The T.A.M.I. Show where Mr. Brown famously proclaimed “Nobody follows James Brown” But that night somebody did, The Stones. How the producers pulled it off is anyone’s guess. So we’re guessing CASH was involved. Never the less even Mr. Brown calls his performance the best of his career and it was that show where James introduced his legendary antic of ending his show by faking exhaustion and falling to his knees in a “Cold, Cold, Sweat” only to be rescued by one of his crew who drapes a cape over James and helps him to his feet, all the while resisting and claiming he can go on!….High drama, great theater and partly why James Brown is a legend. Ya hadda see it!
meanwhile, The very nervous Rolling Stones sat backstage and watched this entertainment inferno ignite the stage and the audience. The crowed was on fire Everyone was on their feet, everyone who wasn’t screaming was crying backstage Mick and Keith agree that following James Brown was the worst decision they ever made. Mick is still in the infant stages of perfecting his “Satanic Rooster” moves, he turns to Marvin Gaye and asks “What do I do”? Marvin replies, “Anything you feel, that’s what I do, that’s what James does”
The Rollong Stones go on and Tear down the house…Ya Hadda Be There…Were You there? If you were, SMS is eager to hear about your experience…and all your memories…
But here comes the best part,….. Scroll down to a recent post from Jimmy enjoy Mr. Browns legendary performance…….From The T.A.M.I. Show!
Written on September 25, 2016
On this day (April 9th) in 1967 The Doors and The Jefferson Airplane played their first show together at The Cheetah club, on the pier in Venice Calif. Considered a ” Huge Event” at the time, these two iconic bands played to a Whopping 3000 fans…Whoa !
Written on August 17, 2016
When history considers the “L.A.” or “West Coast” sounds of Southern California in the 1960’s, we tend to turn our attention to a relatively small yet incredibly prolific and powerful grouping of Artists and Musicians. The Beach Boys, Jan and Dean and the various other writers, artists and producers, that made up the music community referred to as “Surf Music” and perhaps more importantly the Artists that made up “The Laurel Canyon Mafia” ( details to which you can read about here at SMS )…However, as disparate and diverse these ground breaking pioneers may have been,Their music and the “Sound of L.A.” was too often critically described as “Mellow” “Laid Back” “Heady” and “Harmonic” Not necessarily bad words, however, we’re here to look at what was going on in the streets and clubs of L.A. while Brian and his brothers were catching the wave and Joni, Graham, David and Cass were setting up house in Laurel Canyon….. Ten minutes East of Pacific Coast Hwy. and at the Southern most tip of Laurel Canyon Blvd. You are there! The “The Whysky au, go, go” Yhe London Fog” The Trip” and “Pandora’s Box”….A little further east and there’s “The Sea Witch” ” Bido Lito’s” and The tremendous “Hullabaloo Club” The Sunset Strip was home to an energized, vital and fertile Bar and Club scene. BUT ! The music coming out of these clubs in the mid 60’s was anything but “Mellow” or “Laid back” Quite the contrary, I spent my summer of 1966 hanging, hopping, and living in these clubs with the Artists and music they housed. Meanwhile, in your consideration of the bands we’ll focus on, keep in mind that on any given night in the summer of ’66 nearly all these bands were appearing, frequently at the same club on the same bill !
Do you remember “Love” with Arthur Lee? perhaps no other L.A. Band maintained and reflected the musical and cultural diversity of the city it called home, quite like “Love” did. Remember their breakthrough single, “My Little Red Book”? Of course you do, but did you know it was written by “easy listening” oldsters Burt Bacharach and Hal David ? who some of you may claim would be the purveyors of “Laid Back” and “Mellow” BUT NO, not after Arthur Lee and “Love” got hold of it, turning it into a brain pounding, eighth note driven rhythm and melody that thumped thru your mind long after the record ended. Additionally, Arthur’s vocals have been compared to Otis Redding and even Johnny Mantis. But on “Little Red Book” to me, he simply sounded scarey. And live at The Lodon Fog club on Sunset….HE WAS !
“Love” went on to sign with Jac Holzman’s Elevtra records ( The first band to sign with the label ) As a credit to “Loves’ creativity and Electra’s commitment “Love” recorded and released their first three albums in only 18 months, perhaps you own one…”Love”…….”Da Capo” and what critics call their masterpiece “Forever Changes”…
Have you heard them? You need to!
However, it could be argued that the greatest contribution that Arthur Lee made to Electra records was when he convinced Jac Holzman ( Electra’s founder and CEO ) to make a visit to The Whysky au go, go and hear his friends band. His friend was Jim Morrison! Holzman was so impressed with Jim and The Doors, he offered them a deal on the spot. You know the rest of the story. ” In L.A. You know Where That’s At”
Yes !…Jim Morrison and The Doors, no doubt, your favorite from L.A. back then and without question the most successful and notorious! and no other band worked harder. They were the house band at The Whysky, The London Fog and The Galaxy clubs, as well as regulars at Pandora’s Box, Bido Lito’s and The Hullabaloo club with it’s revolving stage and perception altering Strobe light production. On a really good night, you could catch The Doors early show at The Hullabaloo club, then hitch hike west on Sunset 2-3 miles back to The Whysky and catch them closing for The Seeds or The Music Machine just prior to last call. Even in those early days there were no questions regarding Morrison and sobriety and it is an unfortunate truth that my friends and I would rush to a late Doors show, just to see how annihilated Jim could get….But, he, along with the best drummer, John Densmore, Guitar player, Robby Krieger and keyboardist Ray Manzereck in L.A, would always “tear down the house” The Doors were neither “Mellow” or “Laid back”The Doors were young, the band was incredibly TIGHT and they were writing great songs……Did you know, by the way, that “Light My Fire” was written by guitarist Robbie Krieger, not keyboardist Ray Manzerick, and it was the first song Krieger ever wrote….”In L.a. You know where That’s At”
The Seeds played everywhere, all the time. Do you remember The Seeds led by Sky Saxon? Perrinial Wannabe’s ! They worked hard and put on a very loud raucous show. But they just never took first position on any club stage. No one went out into the warm Hollywood summer night to SEE THE SEEDS, nope, they were there, but as the opening act. Sky’s voice was nasal, a bit whiney and the band was unremarkable, except for Keyboard player Daryl Hooper. He brought a sense of style and fashion to an otherwise drab outfit with hair to his mid back and knee high boots “Quite the Dandy” actually. It should be noted that The Seeds were the first band to not include a Bass player in their live show. Daryl provided the bass parts by playing them on the keyboard. This is something that Ray Manzereck and the Doors got a lot of attention for doing. But it was Daryl Hooper in The Seeds that did it first. The Seeds struggled to break beyond just L.A. notoriety, but you may remember a title or two. Do you recall “I can’t seem to make you mine” ? The band and their label, Crescendo, believed in it so much they released it twice…..But, do you remember it? I’ll bet you don’t. The Seeds actually appeared and performed it on two popular T.V. Shows
“The Mothers in Law” and The Patty Duke Show, you still don’t recall it, do ya ? Furthermore those T.V. Appearances added to the bands lack of credibility. Crescendo released two more tracks Mr. Farmer” and “You’re Pushin To Hard” The latter being the one song you may remember. It received a fair amount of national attention. But The Seeds still couldn’t break thru the second place or opening act position in the So. Calif. music scene. They have been referred to as Ground Zero for garage rock and Proto Punk. Unfortunately for Sky Saxon and The Seeds, even that generous comment just isn’t true.
However, just down the street, we would stand mesmerized watching a L.A. Band that had the diversity of “Love” the darkness of The Doors and raw attitude of The Seeds……..The Music Machine. Do you recall them? I’m certain you recall and loved their third single and mega hit “Talk Talk” a mere one minute and fifty six seconds of runaway energy, drum breaks and “fuzz” bass, all delivered by lead singer/ songwriter and founder Sean Bonniwell “Talk Talk” was sonically irrestible, and at 1:56 no disc jockey could avoid playing it. But it was the bands relentless live shows where Bonniwells vision of a Music Machine was realized. The band entirely dressed in Black, hair dyed Black and wearing one Black glove, the look and image was dark, imposing and even, yes, Scarey. However, to truly drive the point home, The Music Machine’s standard set ran One hour and ten minutes, NON STOP! That’s right Bonniwell wrote short segues to string all their songs together. No space, irrelevant banter or even a breath between songs….Just non stop, aggressive Rock, ripping your ears off and completely void of “mellow and “Laid back”. One night, at the Hullabaloo club, some joker from a rival band cut the power on the band in the middle of their set. What followed was incredible, in front of 800 dazed fans…. In silence Sean moved to the edge of the stage, proclaims “Nothing can stop a Music Machine and singularly hurls out a searing acapella performance of “Talk Talks” b-side ” Come on In”……One dark voice, under one dim spot, but as the old saying goes “There wasn’t a dry seat in the house” my friends and I held on as Sean Bonniwell brought the house down at The Hullabaloo Club….”In L.A. You Know Where That’s At”
Meanwhile, it’s time now to hitch down the street catch “Spirit”at Bido Lito’s and back to The Hullabaloo to see the closing set from “The Palace Guard”…Check out “Talk Talk”
Didja ever see them? Wereya ever there?
( SMS just hasta know )
Written on June 7, 2016
When you consider the great music of the 1960’s I’m sure you think about ” The British Invasion”, Motown, all the Girl Groups and the blending of Folk music and Rock and Roll. However it was Surf music that truly usherd in the music of the 60’s. It inspired us to listen,and established a new genre, culture and lifestyle, not just on the west coast of California but across the world. It gave us pioneers and Super Stars The Beach Boys, Jan and Dean and The Honeys. Some purists even argue The Mamas and Papas, sighting ” California Dreaming” as the best song ever written about “Praying Fof Surf” But I digress, because no matter what new genre coalesced and shaped the sound of the Sixties they all owe a nod and must pay homage to the artists and the music that Kick Started ” The Best Decade of Music in History.
Instrumental Surf Music. Burning through like a firestorm as the new decade debuted and continued to influence the sound and culture of “Pop” music, not jus thru the 60’s but for every decade to follow. The Ventures, ( who have sold, to date, over 110 million records…yup, you read that right!) The Surfaries, The Chantays,The Bel-Airs, The Challangers, and of course “The King of the Surf Guitar”,Dick Dale and his Deltones. Even The U.K. Gave us The Tornedos with ” Telstar” and The Shadows with “Apache” The sound was always 3 guitars, bass and drums with someone doubling on electric piano with an occasional Sax solo The instruments were nearly always made by Fender and all were drenched in Reverb to give them that ” Wet Sound” No other genre of music( with the exception of The Beatles) inspired young music lovers to pick up a guitar or a pair of sticks and immediately be part of this new cool scene coming out of Southern California.
Many historians sight Dick Dales incredible high energy debut ” Let’s Go Tripping as the first hit record to put Inst. Surf on the charts. But I’ll argue that it was Santo and Johnny’s hauntingly beautiful ” Sleep Walk” that established and galvanized Instr. Surf Music and beyond. Santo and Johnny Farina hailing from Brookelyn N.Y. wrote the song inspired by a dream of Johnnys. Johnny played a six string Gretch, while Santo played, AND GET THIS, a fender sustom built three necked Pedal Steele, with each neck holding EIGHT strings. I can’t do the math or even begin to imagine how many options of Keys, Tunings and Sounds Santo could conjure up! Experts might point out that “Sleep Walk topped the Billboard charts in Sept. of 1959( when it also achieved the number 4 position on Billboards R&B chart !!!) but it’s lingering popularity kept it in “Heavy Rotation” not just thru the transition of the decade but throughout the surf music years and beyond. Lastly, Sleep Walk just may be the greatest love song ever written,and it has no lyrics. But dim the lights with Sleep Walk murmuring in the background and romance is yours. Ah,the power of Surf music instrumentals ! With the genre surging and new Surf Instrumentals entering the charts weekly, “Pipeline” by The Chantays, “Mr. Moto by The Bel Airs and “Walk Don’t Run” by The Ventures all number ones. And all capturing the more mellow sound of Surf music unti 1962, when Dick Dale came blasting through our radios with “Misirlou” a monster of a record that grabbed you by the throat and thru you in the water. Along with Dicks smoking ” Double Picking, “Misirlou included a piano and trumpet solo. There simply no other Surf record that can match the power, aggression and pure energy of Misirlou” For you younger readers it’s that amazing piece of music that is featured in the opening scene of “Pulp Fiction” Lastly, as we were trying to catch our breath, we caught a “sucker punch” from The Surfaris with “Wipe Out in 1963. Ironically Wipe Out was an absolute throw away “B” side (The A side was the ridiculous “Surfer Joe”…go figure) Opening with a maniacle laugh and the sound of a breaking surfboard. And then the songs 1st. verse… A DRUM SOLO Yup…In fact the entire song is mostly this same drum solo. Which ultimately became an audition test for any young drumme trying out for a new band. I should know, I did it a dozen times. Surf music continued to rule, but ” The British Invasion” was right over the horizon. So what was the final Surf instrumental that sounded the “Death Knell” to this powerful and influential genre.?….. it was “Penetration” by The Pyramids. The band hailed out of Long Beach Calif. It’s to bad that The Pyramids were short lived, if only for their outrages approach to their band and the music business. They were a five piece (of course) but their founder and lead guitar player Will Glover was a Black man. Remember this is now early 1964 ! To add to the controversy ( remember, the song is called “Penetration “) The band did the unthinkable in 1964. Seeing early pictures of The Beatles, They Shaved Their Heads. Picture their line up if you can. They also were fond of stunts at their shows. They often opened for The Beach Boys, and if the boys showed up in Limos, The Pyramids showed up on horses, The Boys showed up in larger stretch limos, The Pyramids actually showed up on Elephants! Bottom line, if you ask any remaining member of any of the bands mentioned in this article ” What was the best thing about Surf music and being in a Surf Band, they all say the same thing “We had soooo much Fun. “Surf’s Up” meanwhile, here’s Santo and Johnnys incredible “Sleep Walk”
Written on May 9, 2016
Didja ever see Them?… Well, Didja?, I Did. On a very warm So Calif. evening. August 30 1965. Myself, my best buddy, Gary and 17,000 other devotees had hiked up the steep hill and in to the small canyon that houses ” The Hollywood Bowl” We take our seats and are now beyond eager to see Them. The biggest band in the world ! This was my first concert. ( I was 15 years old) and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Oh I had heard the stories of the schreiking/ screaming fans, fainting girls and general mayhem. But as the sun gently set behind the Hollywood Hills, there was a kind of nervous calm among this young crowd at The Hollywood Bowl. A woman sitting next to me (some attende’s mom) said something to me about all the opening acts before They come on. Opening Acts ? Before Them ? Whaaaat ? Oh yes, 4 of them ! The King Curtis Band, Sounds Incorporated, Brenda Holloway and lastly ( thank you God) Cannibal and The Headhunters Yikes, 4 of ’em, all four had current hits on the radio and put on a great show. BUT IT DIDN’T MATTER ! All 17,000 of us were there to see Them and only Them. The biggest band in the world ! But now the last of Cannibal’s final song is fading off nto the night, the crowd is getting more animated as a certain hush comes over us all, the lights dim completely and we hear our favorite local D.J. Bob Eubanks finally ” say those words we long to hear” ” Ladies and Gentleman, here they are, The Fabulous Beatles” and a sonic blast of youthful humanity exploded out of The Hollywood hills. as 17,000 hysterical fans lept to their feet, threw up their hands and didn’t stop screaming until long after THE BEATLES finished their short 12 song set and left the Bowl and the city. But, Gary and I were there. Our seats,( tickets cost $4.00 a piece) were 6 rows from the back fence that secured the venue. The 1965 ” State of the Art” Sound system sucked, and we were deaf from the din of screaming teens.( Vocals were inaudible, Guitars, Bass and Drums were awash in midrange and reverb) But, no matter! It was still the most incredible night of my young life. We saw Them and for all of us They were something we’d never seen before and would never see again. John, Paul, George and Ringo live in concert…..Didja ever see them ?The Ladshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=an-kMAPuIj0
SMS really wants to hear your Beatle Story…
Written on May 8, 2016
Musical diversity exploded on the radio in the 60’s. In fact, 1960 usherd in a new programming format called ” Top 40 radio.” Quite simply, it was a format that featured the 40 most popular songs and artists based on various surveys, charts and, get this, the 40 most played tunes in those quaint ” Jukeboxes” that peppered every Bar, Diner and ” Malt Shop across America. For the first time in radio, you could tune into one station that played something for everyone, no matter the genre or generation. In a single hour you could hear The Beatles, The Stones followed by Sinatra,Elvis, Dean Martin, Striesand, Johnny Cash,The Drifters, Ray Charles and Jimi Hendrix! Back to back,( sounds a little insane in retrospect, but it worked ) and like never before and never since, The Top 40 radio format provided ” The Soundtrack to our Lives ” no matter what your age or where you lived. Every city in America had a Top 40 station. In L.A. Where I grew up, it was KRLA 1110a.m. They played ” more music,” had the coolest disc jockeys and the best contests that gave away unbelievable amounts of money and prizes. I must admit, I won a few bucks, which kept me tuned in all the more. What was your local station and fave D.J, who you thought was the coolest guy you ever heard ? SMS wants to hear your 60’s Top 40 radio story. You know you have one !
Written on December 8, 2017
in A Day in the Life
on this day Dec. 8th 1969. Jimi Hendrix was on trial in a Canadian Court on possession of drugs charges! Under Oath, he told the jury he had only Smoked Pot twice….Snorted Coke three times….and had taken L.S.D. No more than five times. …..Jimi went on to swear he was thru with drugs, no longer needed them because he had outgrown their affects!….And here’s the best part, The Canadian Court found Jimi NOT GUITY on all charges.
Rumor has it that Jimi went on to further test the aforementioned substances just to confirm he had told the Jury the truth! ?
Be sure to check out the comments below!…