On This Day – Wanna Buy a Record Player?

On this day, well nearly – actually on 22nd August 1906 – the Victor Talking Machine Company (New Jersey) started selling record players. The price was about $200 which must have been huge at the time. Records ranged from $1 to $7.

This was one of those pivotal moments in the history of popular music. There were some who said that it was the end of the world, culture available for the masses? A dreadful development. Having said that no Victrolar (that’s what it was called) and there would have been no James Blunt or Celine Dion and so the world would have been a better place. On the other hand, there would also be no Tim Fite, Nick Cave, Beefheart, Zappa, Patti, or Lou.

OK, on the whole it was a good thing.

J P Sousa (a renowned conductor) was off the mark when he said that recorded music would be the end of the amateur musician. About as right as the head of IBM predicting that there would only ever be 7 mainframe computers in the world, or the American politician (can’t remember his name) who said that the Japanese did not make things that the American public would want to buy…….

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On This Day – Lennon Gets a Green Card

On this day in 1976 John Lennon got his green card that would allow him to settle in the USA after a long drawn out court battle.

The background to this story lies in Lennon’s left wing activism and the US government’s paranoia.

Lennon supported various left wing causes;  He was anti Vietnam War, pro John Sinclair.  When asked about the Bloody Sunday massacre he said that given the choice between the British Army and the IRA he would side with the IRA.  It should be noted, however, that Ono specifically denied that Lennon gave financial aid to the IRA when a former member of M15 suggested it.

Lennon’s anti war activities were the direct cause of the deportation order being issued against him.  Richard Nixon felt that Lennon’s reported intention to appear at an anti war concert that would coincide with the Republican’s national congress would work against him and his re-election.  A deportation order was issued shortly after.

Those were strange times, a rock star could threaten US democracy?  Given what Nixon went on to do if only Lennon did have that much power.

The original ‘reason’ for the deportation order was Lennon’s conviction on a misdemeanor ‘charge of possessing a small amount of dope in 1968.  Eventually, after 3 and a half years of litigation the deportation order was thrown out when the court said ” … the courts will not condone selective deportation based upon secret political grounds.”

The battle continued until after Nixon was forced to resign.  He was succeeded by Gerald Ford.  Ford could not see the point of the deportation attempts and they were finally dropped in 1975.  In 1976 the green card was issued.

 

 

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On This Day – Reverend Richard Perriman Speaks Out!

Classic Rock Music

Classic Rock Music

On this day in 1979 the Reverend Richard Perriman spoke out about the evils of rock ‘n’ roll. He told his congregation that redemption is possible. He said “If God can save an old homosexual like me he can save anyone.” The Reverend Richard Perriman is better known as Little Richard.

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On This Day – Rolling Stones Riot!

On this day in 1964 The Rolling Stones played the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool, UK and the show ended in a riot. In Response the council banned The Stones from ever playing there again.

The Stones in 1964 was not the all conquering band that we all came to know and love a few years later. True, that had released 2 singles “Come On” and ” I wanna Be Your Man” but neither made them mega stars. The First, and quite frankly wonderful first album, “The Rolling Stones” had gone to number 1 in the UK. However, they still had a lot to learn. A UK tour in 1963 had seen them learning stage craft touring under Bo Diddley, Little Richard and The Everly Brothers.

Earlier in 1964 The Stones had undertaken their first, and disasterous US tour. Mocked on TV and largely ignored by most of the media Jagger described it as “A disaster”.

So to their second tour of the UK. The bad boy image designed and developed by Andrew Loog Oldham went before them. “Would you let yopur daughter marry a Rolling Stone”, the arrests for pissing in public, all that stuff was going on at about this time.

So, to Blackpool. Blackpool was England’s most popular seaside resort. Popular, populist, and unbelievably tacky. The Empress Ballroom was an old theater that had staged rock and roll before, but the Stones were something else. The girls were screaming lads dancing, everything set for a good night out. Until. Pre-punk spitting started, aimed at Brian Jones, orchestrated by a man at the front by the stage. Keith Richard told him to stop encouraging the crowd to spit. He did not stop. Keith’s answer? Simple stand on one of the mans hands (the man was that close to the stage) and then kick him in the head, a few times. That started the riot. Everything in sight was smashed, chairs,bottles, a piano, chandeliers (yes chandeliers). The damage was total. Reports put the cost of the damage at £4,000, £7,000 even £10,000 a huge amount at that time. Two policemen and more than 30 fans were injured, presumably someone with a very sore head.

The Blackpool Council met and banned The Stones from ever playing there again. They relented in 2008, saying that The Rolling Stones would be welcomed back. So far, Blackpool has not featured in The Stones’ plans.

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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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