On This Day – Clashed With the Law?

I_fought_the_lawOn this day in 1979 (was it REALLY that long ago?) the Clash released their first single in the USA - “I fought the Law”. 

The song was written in 1958 by Sonny Curtis who played in The Crickets (of Buddy Holly fame).  They recorded it in 1959 but the most famous version was by The Bobby Fuller Four in 1966. Bobby Fuller was found dead shortly afterwards.  The police said that it was suicide, but many, many people found that to be a ludicrous conclusion.

While I am digressing, I Fought the Law appears inside Lou Reed’s song Dirt on the wonderful Street Hassle album.

Back to the Clash. Joe Strummer and Mick Jones came across the song in 1978 when they were recording over dubs for their “Give ‘Em Enough Rope” album.  It was on the juke box in the Automatt studio in San Francisco.  They were taken by the song (Bobby Fuller’s version)and by the time they came back to the UK they had worked out their powerful version. It first appeared on the “Cost of Living” EP in May of 1969 in the UK.  Naturally, the US single got lots of airplay, how could it not?

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On This Day – Led Zeppelin Play to Only 55 in the USA!

led zeppelinOn this day in 1969 Led Zeppelin appeared at the Wheaton Youth Center, Wheaton, Illinois.  It was their first gig on their first North American tour.

Reportedly, there were only 55 paying customers.  That would make it the smallest audience they ever played to!  From small acorns, etc.  Their fee?  $250.

Although it was the night of Richard Nixon’s inauguration I doubt if that was the reason for the poor showing…….

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On This Day – “The Beatles Played at My Wedding, Honest!

We all go to local gigs where the band is a group of friends who have just got together for a bit of fun.  I am sure that like me you have been to weddings where the band is just making its way in the world.  Sometimes the bands are good, moderate, or even downright bad, but who knows what the future holds.

On this day in 1958 Harry Harrison (yes, really) let his kid brother’s band play at his wedding.  That band? The Quarry Men, who became the Beatles.  The Quarrymen included Lennon, McCartney and Harrison, but not Starr who joined the Beatles in August 1962 replacing Pete Best.

Just goes to show that you never know………..

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Arrivals – 29 October

Born on this day were the following, anymore?

1944 Denny Laine (Moody Blues/Wings)
1946 Peter Green (Fleetwood Mac)
1954 Stephen Luscombe (Blancmange)
1955 Roger O’Donnell (The Cure)
1961 Randy Jackson (Jacksons)
1962 Einar Orn Benediktsson (The Sugarcubes)
1965 Pete Timmins (Cowboy Junkies)

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On This Day – I’m Not Dead, Honest.

On this day in 1969 Paul McCartney said officially that he was not dead, unless the statement was issued by William Campbell after the surgery.

There had been persistent rumours that Paul had died in a car accident and that he had been replaced with a look-a-like called William Campbell.

The story begins on 9th November 1966 while the Beatles were working on Sgt. Pepper’s but things were not going well. In frustration Paul left the Abbey Road studios and jumped in his car. While driving he picked up a woman hitch hiker (called Rita). She became hysterical when she realised who he was and in the fracas that ensued he crashed the car. She was able to get out of the now burning car but Paul, sadly, died.

What happened then was a massive cover up. Local papers bribed, as were the police and ambulance services. In desperation to keep the Beatles’ brand alive Brian Epstein found William Campbell who had won a Paul Look-a-like competition. He was flown from Canada where he was living, given elocution lessons, plastic surgery, and taught to be left handed rather than right. Simple!

There followed years of lies and deceit. However there were clues. The Sgt. Pepper cover is full of clues; crashed cars, Shiva the destroyer pointing towards Paul, the wreath spelling out ‘Paul’, the open palm sign. In the gatefold Paul is wearing a badge that says ‘OPD’ which stands for ‘Officially Pronounced Dead’. It is all so obvious.

Look at ‘Revolver’. Who is the only Beatle not looking straight out of the cover? You’ve guessed it, Paul. Could that mean that the others are looking towards the future and Paul isn’t (‘cos he’s dead)? The open palm death symbol is there again.

Look at ‘Magical Mystery Tour’. On the back cover, how many band members do you see? (By the woman with the red dress one third of the way down) Five. Is the fifth, who looks like Paul, really William Campbell?

There is more. Remember that Paul was left handed and often said that there was nothing he could do about it, he could not ‘cure’ himself of being a lefty, and he had tried.

So, page 4 of the Magical Mystery Tour booklet with which hand is ‘Paul’ holding his wand? The right. During MMT film, the beginning of the ‘Fool on the Hill’ bit he is smoking, using his right hand. During the same film the cast are on the bus, drunk and singing. In which hand does ‘Paul’ hold his beer bottle? His right.

‘Nuff said.

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On This day – Little Susie is Being Suggestive!

On this day in 1957 The Everley Brothers reached the top of the charts in the USA with “Wake Up Little Susie”.  That inspite of it being banned by some radio stations because of the suggestive lyrics.

I have always said that it is a dirty little song, a threat to the morals of our youth and quite capable of destroying society.  (Sorry, I was having a irrational time warp back to the 50s moment).  However, that is just what some people thought, otherwise sensible and responsible people.  Mind you, most people thought that fighting a nuclear war, and surviving it, was entirely possible.  Also remember that the FBI investigated a song (Louie, Louie) because of the filthy lyrics (the whole story here).

There have always been bans imposed on rock music.  Given the origins I do not think that we should be surprised.  Rock was born on the back of black ‘race’ music.  Music made by and for black America.  It was not heard or played by white people.  When rock began it took the rhythms, feel and in some cases whole songs.  That worried the white establishment.  Sexual references was just one area that scared the hell out of them.  Hence not showing Elvis’ hips when he was  singing.  That “Wake Up Little Susie” should fall foul of the censors is just a reflection of the paranoia of the time.

What the establishment wanted was more Rock Hudson and Doris Day films (sort of ironic of course).

One notable incident of banning music from being played that predates rock was the banning of Billie Holiday’s version of  “Gloomy Sunday” by the BBC in 1941 (and that was the version with the rewritten happy ending!).

However, banning became far more common with the advent of rock.  “such a Night” by Johnny Ray was banned by the BBC in 1954.  The police in Memphis banned The Drifter’s “Honey Love”.  Both banned because of the suggestive lyrics.  There are many more examples in the late 50s and early 60s.  But the practice went on, and on.  In 1969 “Je T’aime… Moi Non Plus” was banned (again by the BBC) because of the sexual nature of the recording.  Other, obvious examples are Hendrix “How Would You Feel”, Van Morrison’s “Gloria”, The Who’s “Pictures of Lily”.  There are so many.

More worrying as far as I am concerned is the banning of songs because of political or social comment.  The Byrds “8 Miles High” was banned by many US radio stations because of the drug reference, “Puff The Magic Dragon”, Janis Ian’s “Society’s Child” was banned because by many US radio stations because the interracial dating references.  Sponsors of the Pet Clark Show got their nickers in a twist when she touched Harry Belafonte on the arm during a duet.  etc etc.

Somehow I am not surprised that the Colonels in Argentina banned more than 200 songs because they threatened the regime.  I am not worried that the Soviet state and its satellites banned hundreds and hundreds of rock music.  I find it hard to see Elton John as being a threat to society but any society should be able to stand up to threats from the arts, and the arts should threaten society.

Luckily, the act of banning a record only helps to make it receive more attention than perhaps it otherwise would.  Again there are many examples of that.  Frankie goes to Hollywood’ “Relax”, The Pistol’s “God save The Queen”, “Je T’aime”.  Just add your favourites to the list.  The “explicit Lyrics” stickers were a joke, and a magnet to some record buyers.  One Zappa album has an “explicit Lyrics” sticker, even though it is purely instrumental!

The censorship of album covers has also gone on as well.  Here are a couple of examples;

hendrix coverjanes-addictionmama-lion

There are other examples, of course, Blind Faith, Black Crows, Scorpions, the Beatles with the ‘Babies cover’ etc.

I think that censorship is rarely right (exceptions being child porn, coercion, exploitation).  I also believe that it is largely ineffective.

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On This Day – In Car Entertainment

crysler record player 2On this day in 1955 Chrysler introduces a high fidelity record player that was to be available in some of their 1956 Chrysler, DeSoto, Dodge, and Plymouth models.  The unit played 7 inch discs played at 45rpm as well as the relatively new 16 2/3 rpm.  It was some 4 inches high and a foot wide and was slung under the dashboard.  If you ordered this option with your new car you also received a set of 35 classical records.

You may be surprised to find out that there were problems with the needle skipping as the car went over bumps in the road (Who’d a thought it?) and so the units were discontinued.  I have only a couple of thoughts ab out this;

One, how much would one of these units be worth now?

Two, if it is dangerous changing CDs while driving can you imagine the dangers involved in changing discs while driving?  It just does not bear thinking about.

Amazingly, the disc player remained as an option until 1961.

crysler record player

Here is a copy of the press release;

HI-Fl RECORD PLAYER
26555

CHRYSLER CORPORATION
Press Information Service
Detroit 31, Michigan
Tulsa 3-4500

For Immediate Use

HI-Fl RECORD PLAYER AVAILABLE FOR
1956 CHRYSLER CORPORATION CARS

columbia-open.jpg (19k)

DETROIT – - Highway Hi-Fi, a record player that provides music and speech as you go, has been developed exclusively for the 1956 Chrysler Corporation cars.

This novel addition to the pleasures of highway travel, specially designed by CBS Laboratories as an accessory for Plymouth, Dodge, DeSoto, Chrysler and Imperial, was introduced today at the press preview of Chrysler Corporation’s new cars at the company’s Engineering Proving Grounds.

For driver and passengers who prefer the lively scores of Broadway musicals, Highway Hi-Fi provides the lilting and memorable tunes from the hit show, “Pajama Game.”

And if the children are restless on a long ride, Davey Crockett and Gene Autry are ready at hand to help keep them quiet.

Highway Hi- Fi plays through the speaker of the car radio and uses the radio’s amplifier system. The turntable for playing records, built for Chrysler by CBS-Columbia, is located in a shock-proof case mounted just below the center of the instrument panel. A tone arm, including sapphire stylus and ceramic pick up, plus storage space for six long-play records make up the unit.

Using a new principle of design worked out by CBS Laboratories, the player and position of the stylus on a record are not affected by the angle of a car, its highway speed, or even severe cornering. Tests demonstrate it is extremely difficult to jar the arm off the record or even make the stylus jump a groove.

The special records also developed by CBS Laboratories, are seven inches in size, transcribed on both sides, and pressed especially for Chrysler by Columbia Records. They give up to 45 minutes of music and up to one full hour of speech per side, A collection of six disks will be presented to customers with each player.

Making up the collection are Tschaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony, Borodini’s Polovtsian Dances, Ippalitov-Ivanov’s Procession of the Sardar, the complete score of the Broadway musical show Pajama Game, Walt Disney’s Davey Crockett, Gene Autry and Champion, Romantic Moods by Percy Faith and his orchestra, quiet jazz by Paul Weston and his orchestra, Music of Cole Porter and Victor Herbert by Andre Kostelanetz and his orchestra, and dramatic readings from Bernard Shaw’s Don Juan in Hell by a cast of top Hollywood and Broadway artists.

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On This Day – John Lennon Born

john lennon John Winston Lennon joined this world today in 1940. As part of the Beatles he helped shape modern music writing some iconic songs. He worked for peace and against the Vietnam War. He was threatened with deportation from the USA by the Nixon administration, investigated by the FBI. He was murdered on 8th December 1980 by Mark David Chapman.

Lennon was raised by his aunt Mimi although he did have regular contact with his birth mother Julia. She bought him a banjo when he was 11 and taught him to play “Aint That A Shame” by Fats Domino. She also bought him his first guitar in 1957. His aunt Mimi was not in favour of his infatuation with music and did not share his faith that he would be famous one day and make a living out of music. Julia died after being hit by a car driven by an off duty policeman in 1958.,

Lennon had co-founded a skiffle group in 1956 which had him on banjo. Originally called The Blackjacks they changed their name to The Quarrymen (after the school that they attended) as another local group was using that name. Their repertoire consisted of Lonnie Donegan songs which they aired at parties, school dances and the like.

The whole local music scene was very fluid at this time with various lineups and personnel sitting in with other groups but the Beatles began to come together. When Paul McCartney joined The Quarrymen he insisted that George Harrison also join over Lennon’s objections that Harrison was too young. Later Stu Suttcliffe (bass) joined and suggested that they change their name to The Beetles, later The Silver Beetles and then to The Beatles. Their first recording was “That Will Be The Day” with “In spite of All the Danger” (by McCartney and Harrison) on the other side. The recording cost 17/6 (£0.77) and the one disc produced was passed around the band. It resurfaced in 1981 when McCartney bought it for an undisclosed amount.

Against Mimi’s vehement objections Lennon went with the other Beetles to Hamburg in 1960. That residency at Bruno Koschmider’s Indra club did not last long. The Beatles were deported back to the UK after a minor arson incident and it was discovered that Harrison was under age.

The Beatles went on to be the biggest band in the world, of course, but why should we celebrate Lennon’s birth? He was voted the 8th greatest Briton by BBC viewers (but then Dianna came 3rd…..), he was awarded an MBE (or was that an OBE – don’t know and don’t care). Helped to shape popular music and wrote some great rock and pop songs. But, what made him so great?

I think he together with, but perhaps more than, the other Beatles showed what was possible. In those days you went to school and then left to find a job, got married, had children, and then died. There were no other options, until we were showed otherwise. He was an inspiration for others, and surely that is as good as anyone’s life can get, there is nothing better.

My favourite Lennon song, I even like the Tin machine version (yes, I was the one person who bought that god awful album).




You know, I am not terribly happy with this post. My heart is not really in it. I don’t think that I have done JL justice, so much more than a member of the Beatles.

Perhaps it is just because it is 5.00am…….

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On This Day 26th Sepyember 1887- Thanks Emile

250px-Emile_Berliner_with_disc_record_gramophone_-_between_1910_and_1929This day in 1887 was one of the great days of popular music.

Emile Berliner who emigrated from Germany to the USA when he was 26 applied for a patent for his invention, the gramophone. This was the first machine to play discs and not the wax cylinders. He solved the problem of getting the turntable to revolve at a steady and measurable rate after teaming up with Eldridge Johnson.

Although he also designed a very (very) early helicopter and a loom suitable for mass weaving his contribution to popular music is what he will be remembered for.

My thanks to Emile, you saved my young life.

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On This Day – Hendrix, Suicide, Accident or Murder?

On this day in 1970 some firends and I were on holiday with our girlfriends in a cottage in South Wales. We were having breakfast when we heard the news of Hendrix’s death on the BBC.

Since then there have been a number of theories as to what happened. Eric Burden of the Animals and a close froend thought that it was suicide, Monika Dannemann, his girlfriend, said that he died after a bout of drinks, drugs and sex. Others have claimed that his manager, Mike Jeffery stood to benefit to the tune of £1,000,000 from an insurance policy. Still others have said that as Hendrix was regarded as being subversive the FBI’s Counter Intelligence Program ( COINTELPRO) had an interest in him being ‘removed’.

The truth? I doubt if we will ever know. Here are some things we do know.

Dannemann said that he was alive and sleeping when she went for some cigarrettes but in obvious trouble when she returned a few minutes later. She called Burden. He said that she should call the ambulance. When the ambulance arrived she went to the hospital with him and said that he died en route. The medics say that he was pronounced dead at the flat.

The time of death was never confirmed so we do not know if he was dead when the medics arrived or not.

Burden’s claim that it was suicide may not stack up as, although having a chaotic and professionally troubled life at the time, friends say Hendrix was happy and talking abou the future, both his and his new band’s. He was going to change the drummer of the Band of Gypsies, planning new recordings etc. Not the usual behaviour of someone about to kill themselves.

There was a lot of alcohol in his stomach and lungs there were nine Vesperax sleeping pills in his system. Hendrix was an insomniac and his use of sleeping pills was not unusual. What was unusual was that there was a lot of red wine in his lungs, and relatively little in his blood stream. Even a hard drinkling session rarely, if ever, ends up with wine in the lungs and not in the blood stream. That could be the case if he was water boarded. That points towards murder not a night long alcohol binge.

Jeffery died in a plane crash in 1973, Danneman committed suicide in 1996. So there are few people who can tell us what really happened.

However, hendrix’s roadie James “Tappy” Wright says he knows. He says that Jeffreys was in trouble and he needed the money. He says that Jeffrey’s confessed to him 2 years before his death.

He writes: “I can still hear that conversation, see the man I’d known for so much of my life, his face pale, hand clutching at his glass in sudden rage.”

He says Jeffery told him: “I had to do it, Tappy. You understand, don’t you? I had to do it. You know damn well what I’m talking about.”

He quotes Jeffery as saying: “I was in London the night of Jimi’s death and together with some old friends …we went round to Monika’s hotel room, got a handful of pills and stuffed them into his mouth …then poured a few bottles of red wine deep into his windpipe.

“I had to do it. Jimi was worth much more to me dead than alive. That son of a bitch was going to leave me. If I lost him, I’d lose everything.”

Why did Tappy not come forward earlier? Well, that could be because of the identity of the “old friends”. Friends who are prepared to kill one person are not likely to like someone exposing them………….. Perhaps they are no longer arround.

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