Sixties Music Secrets

Tag: Bob Dylan

IN PRAISE AND CURIOSITY : Robert Velline and Elston Gunnn!…

“I punched my buddy in the nose after lunch”…Wha?…Hunh? Yep, that’s what the man said, that man? Robert Velline! However you know him as Bobby Vee, and that is the opening line of lyric from his fourth hit single “Stayin’ In” you may not remember him as well as some of the other Bobby’s, Jimmy’s Billy’s, or Frankie’s but Bobby Vee enjoyed 38 chart hits, 10 of them hitting the Top 20….And between 1960 and 1967 that’s more than the other Bobby’s, Jimmy’s and Billy’s combined….But, we’re getting ahead of ourselves.   By the time you heard about Bobby “Cold Cocking” his best friend “In the cafeteria” Bobby already had 2-3 international smashes and it’s only 1962…Yeah in a little less than two years Bobby, was a certified international “Teen Idol!…Yes, the girls were swooning and fainting, but we all privately couldn’t resist the infectious quality and consistent appeal of the songs he would choose to record! Check this out, and admit it, you have at least one of these in your collection…Devil or Angel…”Rubber Ball”… “Take Good Care Of My Baby”…The nose punching “Stayin’In”…..The night has a Thousand Eye’s…”Run To Him” and in the later years “Come Back When You Grow Up Girl” “Please Don’t Ask About Barbara”and “Love you more than I can Say”  Yes, way before Leo Sayer!….Staggering and we owned all of them!…Bobby Vee alone paid the rent and kept the lights on at the Brill Building! His earliest hits were penned by Gene Pitney and John D. Loudermilk with the great Carole King and Jerry Goffin delivering his later smashes…

Ah, but the plot thickens, Bobby’s Idol and influence was the great Buddy Holly, In fact the B-Side to “Rubber Ball was Bobby’s cover of Holly’s Everyday”….With many radio programmers believing it was Buddy, they  began playing it confusing matters and distracting record buyers from “Rubber Ball” Bobby’s incredible A side! Furthermore Bobby’s hit “More Than I Can Say” was written by two of the members of Buddy’s band The Crickets, Sonny Curtis  and Jerry Alison!

But here is the saddest, ironic and most important connection between Bobby Vee and Buddy Holly. You are all familiar with “The Day The Music Died” when a plane carrying Buddy, The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens crashed after takeoff in a winter storm in Feb. of 59! Killing all four passengers on board. The plane was en route to  Moorhead Minneapolis for the first of a 24 day tour called “The Winter Dance Tour. At that point Bobby had released a regional record he wrote called “Susie Baby” a  record that was clearly inspired by Holly’s “Peggy Sue,”

as you can imagine the promoter of The Winter Dance Tour was panicking…24 dates to fill and NO BAND! But the promoter heard “Susie Baby” on the radio and called Bobby ( although he was still Robert Velline) and offered him the job, Bobby and his band “The Shadows”  we’re in Fargo North Dakota, so they  packed up their gear and headed to Moorhead where they headlined the second night of the ill-fated tour and several nights thereafter. These dates are considered the most important period in young , 15-year-old Bobby Vee’s career for two reasons. He was offered a record deal on the spot by Liberty records and he met a piano player named Elston Gunnn…yes, that’s Gunnn with 3  N’s…Gunnn had  heard about this incredible band called The Shadows with a front guy who did a mean Buddy Holly, Elston was out of work and he approached Bobby to be the piano player for The  Shadows. Total Strangers Bobby asked who Elston had worked with? Elston replied by saying he just got off a tour with Conway Twitty!. Bobby needed a piano player, but he was also familiar with who was on tour and where, and he was sure that this odd guy  Elston may not be telling “The Whole Truth” but…..Bobby hired him regardless, Elston Gunnn was now the piano player in Robert Velline and The Shadows. The two quickly became friends with Elston, fresh out of high school and nearly three years Bobby’s senior became a kind of mentor to Bobby and his musical direction. Things went well, but didn’t last for more than six months, ya see Elston could only play in the key of “C”

Yes dear reader, here’s the payoff Elston’s real name is Robert Allen Zimmerman…YES! Bob Dylan!

Through the years Dylan has sung the praises of Bobby Vee and on  several occasions performed Bobby’s “Susie Baby”….

Bobby spoke infrequently but respectfully about his relationship with Dylan and they remained friends until we lost Bobby Vee from complications due to Alzheimer’s in 2016……Here’s “Stayin In”


Were you a Bobby Vee fan?…We know you love Dylan!….Strange bedfellows, INDEED!

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February 5, 2018     29 Comments   , , , , ,

A Quick One: Sixties Music, From The Wrong Side…

Didja know that in 2008 Neil Diamond became the oldest artist to attain the Billboard number one position with his album ” Home Before Dark” Neil was 67 years old. Prior to Neil accomplishing this dubious achievement, Bob Dylan was the oldest dude to have a number one album. Dylan’s ‘Modern Times hit the top spot in
2006 Bob was 65!…..?

December 16, 2017     6 Comments   , , ,

” Like A Rolling Stone “….

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….
















October 29, 2017     10 Comments   , , ,

“John and Mitchy were gettin’ kinda itchy”…

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” its 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 continuous 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 surprise, 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. perennial 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 originally spelled their name Turtles ? 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 incestuous 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 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 persevered 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











April 20, 2017     2 Comments   , , , , , ,