ON This Day – Brittain Needs A Fascist Dictator! David Bowie

On this day in 1976 Bowie gave an interview in which he said that Britain would benefit from having a dictator and that he would be good at it. He also said that Hitler was the first rock star and that Hitler drew more fans than Jagger. Then there were the stories about his Nazi salute, the detention of Bowie’s train (yes he had a train) as it crossed between Russia and Poland. Lots of Nazi memorabilia, books, etc. were confiscated.

So what was it with Bowie at the time?

Bowie had been interested in Buddhism for some time (yes, this is relevant, honest). From there he moved (descended?) into an interest in the Occult, accompanied by an ever growing consumption of cocaine.

From a general interest in the occult came painting mystic symbols on the walls of his house, burning candles, and reciting rites to protect him from the evil ones who were trying to get to him. He also began to retain his hair and nail clippings and urine in bottles in the fridge so that they could not be used in magic rituals against him. In other words serious chemical induced paranoia.

From there he became aware that the Nazis were heavily involved in the occult. (The idea that they hunted the Ark of the Covenant is not just an invention of the Indiana Jones film’s writer). It is this interest in the occult that drew him towards the Nazi symbolism. It is even possible that he got to Nazi symbols via an interest in the Kabala.

The quotes ? Not quite as they were reported at the time, it would seem, Yes he said that Britain would benefit from a dictator, a socialist none not a fascist one, he also said that he thought that he would be quite good at the job………. Hitler the first rock star? If you think of Hitler in the terms of the public rallies and adoration of the crowds, then yes, you could make some sort of comparison. However, you really have to be off your head on something to think that comparing Hitler with anything other than the spawn of the devil is a good idea.

So there you have it, paranoia, caused by ingesting the whole of Columbia’s export trade on his own, and spiralling interest in the occult, combined to encourage Bowie to make some outrageous comments and act as a cretin.

Mind you there were some upsides for Bowie. It would seem that the comments broke just before the Bowie tour reached England. Ticket sales were poor before the comments, sold out afterwards. Remember, he had previous for playing the media. There was the Hunky Dory tour, poor sales up until the “I’m Gay” interview in the music press and, hey presto!, tickets sales soar.

So, what is the truth? Probably, drugs and a descent into paranoia. If you do not inhabit your brain for a length of time you are likely to do some strange stuff.

As for the Nazi salute. I saw the clip some time ago and went to look at it again but it has been taken down on YouTube. However, there is an equally shocking clip featuring a Nazi salute by Ringo! (Or he may just be waving to his fan).

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On This Day – Ladies and Gentlemen, I Give You The Nerk Twins!

On this day in 1960 The Nerk Twins played a couple of gigs at the Fox and Hounds in Caversham.  As these were the only bookings fulfilled by the Nerk Twins that in itself would merit an ‘On This Day’ mention,  the more so that the location was the world famous Fox and Hounds.

However, the reason why there is some interest in the Nerk Twins was that they later became part of a local pub band called the Beatles.  After the artistic peak of playing to 3 people in Paul’s cousin’s pub Paul and John took the almost precedented step of turning their  back on fame for the obscurity of rock band mediocracy.

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On This Day – One Hit, No Wonder Laurie!

On this day in 1958 Laurie London hit the number one spot in the USA with “He’s Got The Whole World n His Hands”.

It was the one and only time he troubled the top 100 in the states, or any else, much – although he might have been quite big in Germany….

Laurie was 13 when he recorded the dismally up beat, up tempo, get’s up your nose  happy clappy record (I am not a fan).

Laurie was not our only successful young teen export to the USA about that time. Jackie Dennis wore a kilt and had spikey hair (is that where Axl got his look?). He was 14 when he recorded ‘La Dee Dah’.

Here’s Jackie at the ripe old age of 15 after he’s found out that boys wear trousers, not skirts…..

This is Laurie doing his best……

It seems that Laurie finally gave up hopes of a long term career in music (good choice) and owned and ran a hotel in the south of England before selling up and moving to London. Jackie is, apparently, a care worker and is happily married. If the comments on YouTube are anything to go by he is a bit of a character and well loved.

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On This Day – Ashes to Ashes Jerry Garcia

On this day in 1996 some of Jerry Garcia’s ashes were scattered into the bay by the Golden Gate Bridges, San Francisco. The rest had been scattered into the Ganges river at Rishikesh on 4th April (Rishikesh being a holy place for hindus at the foot of the Himalayas and where the Ganges leaves the mountains and begins it long journey to the sea bringing life to large areas of North Eastern India).

Garcia had died of a heart attack at a drug rehab clinic where he was trying, again, to beat his drug habit. Garcia had well known issues with various drugs over a long period. He also had other health conditions, he had fallen into a diabetic coma in 1986. He also suffered from sleep apnea. Not a well bunny in fact.

Best known for his work with The Grateful Dead Garcia undertook several side projects the low point of which is surely playing pedal steel guitar on “Teach Your Children” by Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young. (In my book having anything to do with anything by CSN&Y is a career low for anybody). He worked with a whole range of people including Dylan, Warren Zevon, Country Joe McDonald, Ornette Coleman and many, many others.

With The Grateful Dead he played and toured for 30 years (the so called “Endless Tour”). The touring was only punctuated by rests due to ill health and exhaustion. There is a gig count doing the rounds that puts the total Dead gigs at 2,314. No wonder they were occasionally exhausted and resorted to stimulants……….

A phenomenal guitarist and performer.

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On This Day – The Stones, Decadent and Awful!

On this day in 1976 the Rolling Stones played 2 concerts in the Palace of Culture and Science building in Warsaw, Poland as part of their European tour. It was the first time the Stones had played behind the Iron Curtain. It was also the last tour that included Brian Jones.

The tickets were handed out to Communist Party members – apparently much to the surprise of the band. I think that the only surprising thing was that the band was surprised. Anyway, the audience was instructed on how to behave. It is true to say that visiting Soviet officials were not impressed with the show. They thought that the Stones were decadent and awful.

On their part, the Stones, fake surprise or not, drove round the streets to give away copies of their records to fans after the show. Whether this was a real gesture of protest or a rather good publicity stunt is not known.

It would be a long time before the Stones visited communist bloc countries again.

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On This Day – Nat King Cole Attacked

On this day in 1956 Nat King Cole was attacked while on stage in Birmingham Alabama. He was attacked by a group of white segregationists (otherwise known as scum “Stupid Caucasian Uneducated Morons”).  They were upset that a couple of years before there had been a landmark ruling (Brown Vs Board of Education).  That case had mandated the desegregation of all public schools.  The men who stormed the stage that night were some of the remaining members of the White Citizens’ Council.  The council had grown quickly when it was formed in 1954 but then dwindled.

This was not Nat King Cole’s first brush with racism, how could it be in the atmosphere of 1950s USA?  Remember that in spite of the desegregation law passed by the Truman administration in 1948 the US army did not announce plans to act on the law until 1951 and it was was segregated units fighting liberty and justice in Korea.

Cole had been the first black TV presenter but the show was pulled when he could not get a sponsor for nationwide broadcasting in 1957.  He was also subject to objections and abuse when he moved into the fashionable (rich) area of Beverly Hills, but he refused to move.

On this day Cole was told that there would be trouble but he still decided to go on stage.  When at 7 o’clock he strode onto stage where the UK’s Ted Heath band (mainly white) was waiting to accompany him there was a fair amount of tension back stage.  The security was tight with local police being very visible.  A little way into the show the trouble began and Cole had to leave the stage.

After 30 or 40 minutes he returned to complete the show.

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On This Day – Sonny Boy Arrives, For The First Time

On this day in 1914 Sonny Boy Williamson was born.

Sonny Boy was a hugely influential blues harmonica player. Arguably all the present blues harmonica players have been influenced to a greater or lesser extent. None more so than Sonny Boy Williamson.

In fact Sonny Boy Williamson was so influential that Sonny Boy Williamson copied Sonny Boy Williamson.

Confused? Don’t worry many avid blues fans have been, and still are, confused by just who is playing when they listen to Sonny Boy Williamson.

Let me explain. The Sonny Boy Williamson born today in 1914 was the original and his birth name was John Lee Curtis Williamson in Jackson Tennessee. He died on 1st June 1948 after being mugged in Chicago. In between he forged a harmonica style that has changed the world of music. He also wrote performed some of the seminal blues songs of the 20th century. His biggest selling song was a massive race record hit (remember, before the 60s in the States the blues and rhythm and blues were thought not to be fit for white people) was “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl”

Good Morning Little Schoolgirl has been recorded by John Lee Hooker, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Muddy Waters, Doctor Ross, The Grateful Dead, Ten Years After, Johnny Winter, Yardbirds, Rolling Stones among many, many more.

Back to the point of this blog…….

So, Sonny Boy was hugely popular and living and recording in Chicago. Over in Arkansas There was harmonica player called Rice Miller (although he may have been born as Aleck Ford, or Rice Ford, or Aleck Miller, no one is really sure and as to his date of birth just don’t get me started….) Rice Miller appeared on the radio and played in a similar style to Sonny Boy. The radio shows sponsors was King Biscuits.

Arkansas is quite a way away from Chicago and though Sonny Boy’s recoreds were popular there was little chance that he would come to Arkansas to play. To King Biscuit it seemed obvious, call Rice Miller Sonny Boy Williamson and pretend (or least not deny) that it was the real Sonny Boy on their radio show! Strangely, it worked. Sonny Boy never sued over the hijacking of his name (but then Rice Miller did not record as Sonny Boy while Sonny Boy was alive – if you see what I mean). They both just got on with it. After Sonny Boy died Rice Miller recorded as Sonny Boy Williamson II. The trouble is that there are still compilations out there that get the 2 mixed up.

Look on the bright side, they were both great harmonica players, just enjoy the music!

People are still getting them mixed up. This is Rice Miller (Sonny Boy Williamson II) with the song thatgave a great band its name.

With Muddy Waters “Got My Mojo Working”

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On This Day – Lou Bitten

On this day in 1973 Lou Reed was playing in Buffalo, New York. A fan scrambled up on stage shouted “Leather!” and bit Lou on the Bum.

OK, so it is not the most important ‘On This Day’ that I will ever write but I did miss Lou’s birthday (2nd March) and so will have to wait a year before I can do a big piece on him.

1973 was a year after Transformer and Berlin was not released until July ’73 so this would have been at a concert in support of Transformer. The backing band was The Tots who were;

VINNY LAPORTA, guitar
EDDIE REYNOLDS, guitar
BOBBY RESIGNO, bass
SCOTTIE CLARK, drums

Not sure what happened to the members of the band but here they are with Lou in 1973 (any info about them please let me know, I gather that Laporta was still playing up until 2007).

Lou Reed Live Olympia Theatre, Paris 1973, Walk On The Wild Side , Heroin and White Light, White heat. This is from the “Berlin” tour with the Wagner & Hunter band. Wonderful.

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My 100 Essential Albums – 17 Berlin by Lou Reed

Berlin by Lou Reed is his greatest album

berlin

Released in 1973 this is a superb Album. I am biased as I love Lou Reed and all his works, well, the majority of his works I have Metal Machine Music but can not say that I play it. However Berlin is a wonderful album, it is the sort of album that you want everyone to listen to because it is that good.

On its release the critical response was mixed to say the least, Rolling Stone called it a “disaster”. However, in the UK it reached number 7, which goes to prove what a discerning lot we are. It only reached number 98 in the States, which says something about their tastes……..Since its release Berlin has grown in reputation and stature and came in at number 344 in the Rolling Stone list of the top 500 albums of all time. A miserly rating for such a great album.

There are some justified comments about Berlin that critics seize upon. There is not a lot of original material. Most of the songs have been heard before in various reincarnations. Berlin made its first appearance on his first solo album, but it is very much reworked here. Caroline Says II is actually Stephanie Says from VU days. Sad Song and Men of Good Fortune were played by The Velvet Underground. Having said that Lou reworked existing material for his first two albums and Berlin is no different.

What is different is that Berlin was a “rock opera” – a dreadful term. It tells the story of a failing relationship. It deals with dark themes including prostitution, drug use, domestic violence and suicide. This is no a happy album. It is not an easy listen, looking at my list of essential albums not that many are easy, Berlin is the only one that has kids crying on it, though! However, Berlin does have some sublimely beautiful moments in it. It is a quality album and well deserves its inclusion in this list of essential albums.

 

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My 100 Essential Albums – 16 – The Punk Singles Collection, The Adverts

A compilation of singles by The Adverts the 16th of my Essential Albums

 

The Adverts were a short lived punk band formed in 1976 and gone by the end of 1978. What singled the Adverts out was the quality of the lyrics written by the excellent TV Smith and that they had Gaye Advert as a member. Gaye was called the “first female punk star”, but I would have thought that Souxie Sioux had something to say about that!

This is a great punk album. It has their first single “One Chord Wonders” and the attitude that made punk so refreshing.

 “I wonder what we’ll play for you tonight

Something heavy or something light

Something to set your soul alight

I wonder how we’ll answer when you say

‘We don’t like you – go away

Come back when you’ve learnt to play.”

Also on this compilation is the other single that everyone remembers from The Adverts , Gary Gilmore’s Eyes. Gilmore was an American murderer who wanted his eyes to be donated to science. Obviously, some of the music press – let alone the Daily Mail – did not react well. Sounds called it “the sickest and cleverest record to come out of the new wave” reflecting the clever lyrics that were typical of Smith’s work.

Fame was fleeting for The Adverts. A couple of well received albums followed together with some supreme singles (on this album) that failed to bother the charts. I particularly like “Safety in Numbers”. After the death of their manager and threatened by lawsuits from disgruntled ex members the band sort of dissolved although TV Smith continued with a solo career.

Their legacy? Dave Thompson author and music critic said “nobody would make music like The Adverts and nobody ever has. In terms of lyric, delivery, commitment and courage, they were, and they remain, the finest British group of the late 1970s” I could not put it better myself.

 

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