Thursday, August 13, 2009

Woodstock ... And More - Part 3

Of course Woodstock wasn't the ONLY festival going on back in 1969 ... but it certainly was the biggest. Concert settings like The Monterey Pop Festival (held in 1967) and The Newport Jazz and Folk Festivals had been going on for years already ... and, by the mid-to-late '70's, more and more of these "concert events" would become the norm ... three or four (or more) big name acts performing at a baseball stadium or racetrack somewhere across The United States, providing an entire afternoon and evening of music ... in the '80's, we'd see fund-raising festivals like Live Aid and Farm Aid come into prominence (and let's not forget George Harrison's Concert For Bangla Desh that kind of kicked off this whole charity concert concept back in 1971.) Heck, in June of 1969 at Milwaukee County Stadium ... two months BEFORE The Woodstock Music Festival ... they held a concert billed as "The Milwaukee Pop Festival" that featured The Monkees, The New Colony Six, , The Classics IV, The Cryan' Shames, Tommy James and the Shondells, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, The Buckinghams, Andy Kim, The Guess Who, The Royal Guardsmen, The Bar Kays (with Eddie Floyd) and The Bob Seger System!

As mentioned before, however, Woodstock introduced us to some acts that would become household names for the next 40 years to come. Artists like Joe Cocker, Santana and Crosby, Stills and Nash would catapult into our consciousness thanks to their appearances at Woodstock ... and groups like The Who, Sly and the Family Stone, Jimi Hendrix and Ten Years After would see their performances at Woodstock live on to become regarded as some of their greatest achievements.

Thanks to Carl Wiser of the website, we recently met a guy by the name of Bruce Pollock, who has a brand new book coming out called "By The Time We Got To Woodstock" ... and he agreed to share a short excerpt from his new book with our readers ... you'll find it at the end of today's feature (along with a few comments from me about the rediscovery of some of those early rock classics that we all know and love as "oldies" ... most of which have since disappeared from the airwaves, even on the so-called oldies radio stations.)

We've also got a couple of reminisces about some OTHER concerts and festivals that occurred in and around the Woodstock Era. Enjoy! (kk)


My friend Carl Wiser mentioned your site. Very cool.
I have a special interest in 1969, having written a book on the subject, "By the Time We Got to Woodstock: The Great Rock Revolution of 1969", coming out in September on Backbeat Books. It's already gotten reviews in the Huffington Post and Goldmine.
You might also want to check out the blog I started, which is kind of a jukebox, featuring songs related to each chapter of the book. It's called
Maybe we can team up on some content for publicity ideas. For instance, Pete Fornatale and I are planning to do a Mixed Bag devoted to 1969. Let me know,
Click here: The Joy of Segues
A VERY cool blog, spotlighting the whole Woodstock scene ... and I like the way you've worked the music into your blog. Definitely a place worth coming back to that I think our readers will enjoy. (Look for Bruce's contribution to our Forgotten Hits Salute to 1969 at the end of today's piece.) kk

LBN-MUSIC INSIDER: The rock icons who played Woodstock 40 years ago got peace and love -- but they didn't know if they'd get paid. "The promoters threatened that any band that demanded money would be exposed to the crowd," Dave Marsh reveals in the September issue of Relix, noting that one of the bands that struggled to get paid was The Who. "The Who's management got the $11,200 owed them . . . When Roger Daltrey called it 'the worst gig we ever played,' he didn't mean the music."
-- submitted by Wild Bill Cody

Graham Nash reports on a new angle to Woodstock -- his helicopter almost crashed: Ron Smith

Hi Mr. K:
Here is a photo by an unknown person of Jefferson Airplane at a concert in Grant Park Chicago in May 1969. I was there. It was the postponed concert that was originally going to be during the Democratic Convention in 1968. The band foresaw trouble and they were right ...

From left to right: Grace Slick, Paul Kantner, Marty Balin (with back turned), Spencer Dryden, R.I.P.,Jorma Kaukonen (obscured) and Jack Casady.
JBK aka Java Jive Jay
Surf City Sounds Plus

To me 1969 was a great year ... almost cut my hand off in a factory ... going to the first Atlanta Pop Festival the month before Woodstock ... seeing Hendrix on the Electric Ladyland Tour with Chicago opening before they had a record out. Those were the days! The Sixties will never happen again.You had to be there!

Ask Scott Shannon to fill you in on more of the details of The Nashville Music Festival, held August 22 - 24 at Centennial Park in Nashville. Held just a week after Woodstock, this event drew 30,000 people and featured Grand Funk Railroad, Tony Joe White, Steppenwolf, The Unchained Mynds, and many others I can't recall.
David Lewis

These types of shows were becoming more and more common around this time ... a whole day's worth of entertainment, communal style, for under ten bucks!!! (kk)

Kent -

Here's an excerpt from By the Time We Got to Woodstock. Could you please also include this link to Music Dispatch, which is Hal Leonard's direct sales site:

You can also include this special offer:
Order By the Time We Got to Woodstock from Music Dispatch and get 25% off, plus free shipping. Enter promo code NY9 at checkout. Free shipping is by least expensive ship method. Free shipping applies to U.S. orders only. Offer expires October 31, 2009.

By Bruce Pollock
For the clearest expression of what we needed, as a weary generation approaching the end of a long strange trip that had begun with Elvis overthrowing the establishment in Memphis and Nashville, New York City and Hollywood; continued with Timothy Leary turning on in a lab in Stanford and Lyndon Johnson dropping out in Washington, D.C.; and culminated on a pig farm in Woodstock, one need only revisit the morning of the last day of that fabled get-together, just before Jimi Hendrix summoned the crowd to attention with “The Star-Spangled Banner,” when a smart-aleck group of greased-up showboats in gold suits from Columbia University named Sha Na Na presented a set consisting of “Yakety Yak,” “Teen Angel,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “Wipe Out,” “Book of Love,” “Duke of Earl,” and “At the Hop.”
I’m talking, of course, about the oldies revival that engulfed the airwaves of 1969, more powerful than the folk revival for the same wounded soldiers who’d expected so much of their music, their country and themselves. Barely two months after Woodstock, the boys from Columbia U. were to be found on the stage of Madison Square Garden’s Felt Forum, performing with the likes of Chuck Berry, the Platters, the Shirelles, and headliner Bill Haley and the Comets, in the first of what would be many Rock ’n’ Roll Revival concerts presented by Richard Nader. It was, to paraphrase astronaut Neil Armstrong, one step forward for a group of men, a giant leap backwards for music.
In retrospect it was as inevitable as the heavy nostalgia binge for the '50s that was to follow in Film (American Graffiti), theater (Grease), and TV (Happy Days) as an embarrassed and harassed generation began to realize that no matter how many of “us” there were, there would always be more of “them,” and therefore effected a retreat back to a simpler past.
It would be comfortable to blame it all on Tiny Tim. But his version of “Great Balls of Fire” barely dented the charts in February 1969. In March, Otis Redding revived Clyde McPhatter’s now suddenly relevant “A Lover’s Question,” Righteous Brother Bobby Hatfield took on the Platters’ “Only You,” and Paul Anka went up against the Five Satins’ monumental “In the Still of the Night.” In April, Chubby Checker was probably being facetious when he recorded the Beatles’ facetious rewrite of Chuck Berry “Back in the U.S.S.R.” But Jay and the Americans and the Vogues were totally serious in their homage to doo-wop classics “When You Dance” and “Earth Angel,” respectively. If we’d doubted his motives in March, Paul Anka was back in May with the Moonglows’ “Sincerely.” Ray Stevens nearly had a hit in June with the Coasters classic “Along Came Jones,” which appeared on the chart the same week as Cat Mother and the All Night News Boys’ “Good Old Rock and Roll,” a medley of “Sweet Little Sixteen,” “Long Tall Sally,” “Chantilly Lace,” and “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” that nearly cracked the Top 20. It was produced by Jimi Hendrix, the man for whom Sha Na Na served as opening act at Woodstock.
The biggest oldie revived that year belonged to an L.A. group called Smith, who brought the Bacharach-David hit for the Shirelles, “Baby It’s You,” back to the Top 10. But the most heartwarming oldie of the year, far surpassing Harlem scufflers turned Vegas stalwarts Little Anthony and the Imperials’ version of “The Ten Commandments of Love” (with Galt MacDermot’s personal favorite version of “Aquarius” on the B-side, titled here “Let the Sunshine In”) had to be “Oh What a Night” by the Dells, a remake of their very first R&B hit, from 1956. “People say we came from the doo-wop era and we did,” Dells original bass singer Chuck Barskdale said in Adam White and Fred Bronson’s book Number One Rhythm and Blues Hits. “But we grew — we grew as men as well as musically and we were singing a lot of very hip jazz things, just trying to keep food on the table.” The song not only hit No. 1 R&B, but was a Top 10 pop crossover, entering both charts the very week of August 16 that Sha Na Na served notice to the elders of the Baby Boom generation that it was time to shed the love beads, the long hair, and the rustic trappings of the counterculture and come home.
“As evidence I give you ‘Summertime, Summertime,’” I wrote in the liner notes to a 1986 reissue of the live Sha Na Na album From the Streets of New York: “They understood the one-shot miraculousness of the Jamies. They knew the tone poem of summer release and relief, the boardwalk, the roof, the submarine races. And then they made a one-act play out of all these rock and roll verities, complete with Max Factor’s hair and pre-slacker patter down to the taps on their dancing pumps. They even named themselves after a line in “Get a Job.” After hearing that song Smokey Robinson wrote “Got a Job,” but it was Sha Na Na who got the job and not as a ten-headed bicycle messenger either, but as messengers and scavengers and impresarios of rock and roll itself.”
Of course, being listed as a coproducer of that reissue, I may have had a slight conflict of interest in the writing of those notes. But, it was surely not enough to stop a true believer from preaching to the choir.
-- Bruce Pollock

There will be radio stations all across the country saluting the artists and music of Woodstock this weekend on the 40th anniversary of the concert's event. But Bruce points out some interesting perspective that we may not have considered when looking back at the music scene, circa 1969 ... the birth of the "Oldies Generation!!!" (It certainly has given US something to talk about these past ten years!!!)

1969 seemed to be the first time we as a musical society took a look back at our rock and roll roots. Certainly Sha Na Na's "camp" performance at Woodstock gave us a fun way to relive some of this great music ... but we can't hold them solely responsible for this trend in nostalgia. Several other factors certainly helped to influence this trend.

Elvis' 1968 Television Comeback Special, for example, did it for me ... I've told the story before about how I only tuned into this in the first place because I had read in some teen magazine that Ringo Starr was going to be appearing, playing drums on some of Elvis' songs. By 1968, Elvis was pretty much off the radio ... his mid-'60's hits weren't making much of an impression on the charts ... but in December of 1968 he COMPLETELY blew me away when he performed some of his biggest '50's hits clad in his black leather outfit. I simply HAD to have this music ... and went out the next day to buy copies of most of the songs I heard that night. (Fortunately, a nearby record shop had a selection of Golden Oldies 45s and I was able to pick up the Elvis hits "Heartbreak Hotel", "All Shook Up", "Hound Dog", "Love Me Tender", "Can't Help Falling In Love", "One Night" and "Guitar Man" that day ... along with his brand new single, "If I Can Dream", which would put The King back up at the top of the charts again for the first time in a long time. Keep in mind that Elvis' greatest contribution to the advancement of rock and roll music was already a full decade behind him by 1968 ... after be got out of the Army, he started cranking out all those God-awful movies and saw most of his chart action reflected in the title tunes and soundtrack filler from those films. In 1968, he introduced a whole new generation (myself included) to the music and excitement we missed the first time around. (We have a special Elvis Tribute coming up this weekend on the anniversary of his death.)

Keep in mind that in 1969 Oldies Radio didn't exist yet ... although within a couple of years this would become a VERY viable format of radio programming. Back then, our oldies were the hits of the late '50's and early '60's ... Top 40 Radio pretty much only played the hits of the day in repeated fashion ... there really wasn't anybody committed to keeping this older music alive or in our consciousness. Quite honestly, music was changing and evolving SO quickly back then, those early hits probably seemed even more passe then than they do to so many programmers now!

Thanks to the concert film, Sha Na Na was singled out as providing a fun, nostalgic look back in a camp sort of way ... but Ten Years After ALSO incorporated some of these early hits into their performance of "Goin' Home" that night at Woodstock. And let's not forget the big Cat Mother and the Newsboys Hit "Good Old Rock And Roll" from earlier in '69 that ran a medley of Sweet Little Sixteen / Long Tall Sally / Chantilly Lace / Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On / Blue Suede Shoes and Party Doll together ... produced by Woodstock closer Jimi Hendrix no less! Certainly ALL of these factors helped to introduce a whole new audience to "Good Time" Rock and Roll.

Soon, some of the outlets described above by Bruce like "American Graffiti" and "Happy Days" became THE way to look back to "Where Were You In '62?" ... I personally discovered some of my all-time favorite oldies (like "Since I Don't Have You" by The Starliners and "All Summer Long" by The Beach Boys and "Sixteen Candles" by The Crest ... which Sha Na Na ALSO did an incredible job on, by the way ... "I Only Have Eyes For You" by The Flamingos, "The Stroll" by The Diamonds, "Come Go With Me" by The Del-Vikings and SO many others thanks to the "American Graffiti" soundtrack. "Happy Days" took it a step further by pounding "Rock Around The Clock" and "Blueberry Hill" into our heads every Tuesday Night.

Most of these early rock artists had been absent from the airwaves for quite a few years thanks to the artists of The British Invasion in the mid-'60's and a turn to much "heavier" and progressive rock by the late '60's ... but by 1972 ... right around the time that Oldies Radio first came into prominence ... some of the biggest Rock And Roll Forefathers were back up at the top of the charts when Elvis, Chuck Berry and Rick Nelson ALL scored Top Five Hits with the likes of "Burning Love", "My Ding-A-Ling" and "Garden Party" respectively. Even '60's artists who had been absent from the charts for a while were enjoying newfound success ... The Hollies with "Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress", Johnny Rivers with "Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie-Woogie Flu" and Cher with "The Way Of Love", all of which were MAJOR hits in '72 by artists we hadn't even THOUGHT about in ages!!! (Let's face it ... Sha Na Na never even had a hit record!!!) 1972 was ALSO the year that Don McLean gave us "American Pie", a look back at Buddy Holly and "The Day The Music Died" ... "Rockin' Robin" was a hit all over again in the hands of little Michael Jackson as was "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" by Robert John (incredibly produced by a couple of the original Tokens who first took that song to #1 back in 1961!) Other big remakes in 1972 include "Puppy Love" and "Too Young" by Donny Osmond, "Hot Rod Lincoln" by Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen, "Little Bitty Pretty One" by The Jackson Five and "Sealed With A Kiss" by Bobby Vinton, another name from the past.

And quality remakes have been with us ever since, introducing each new generation of radio listeners to the music that made US feel good way back when.

Thank you, Bruce, for sharing this perspective with us and inspiring us to take a closer look back at yet ANOTHER contribution Woodstock may have made to our listening habits. We wish you LOADS of success with your new book and can't wait to pick up a copy. (Hey, sign a couple of 'em and we'll give them away in Forgotten Hits!!! lol)

We hope you all enjoyed this look back at The Woodstock Era ... lots more great 1969 Memories to come so please stay with us! (kk)