Friday, January 10, 2014

The Friday Flash

re:  This And That:

Big news this week is that David Letterman is trying to get Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr to perform together again on the stage of The Ed Sullivan Theater for the 50th Anniversary of The Sullivan Show when The Beatles first appeared on February 9, 1964.  (Several other MAJOR events are already planned, including live tribute shows at The Apollo Theater and a Grammy Night Celebration / CBS Television Special called "The Night That Changed America".)

Who would have ever dreamed ... in their WILDEST fantasies ... that 50 years later this hot new "flavor of the month" fad known as The Beatles would still be relevant and able to turn the whole world on its ear with their every move.  On January 21st, Capitol Records will release the complete US Collection of Beatles albums as originally released here in America ... album titles like "Beatles '65" and "Beatles VI",
'Yesterday' ... and Today", "Something New" and "Hey Jude" that didn't appear anywhere else in the world ... but album configurations that we grew up with (and wore the grooves out on) throughout the '60's.

Of course it will NEVER be the same without John Lennon and George Harrison ... but a Paul / Ringo collaboration ("All My Lovin'", anybody??? Or how about their duet on "Act Naturally"???) would still be pretty cool to see.  (kk)

(The Beatles Live on The Ed Sullivan Show, circa 1964)

I stopped at Barnes and Noble on the way home from work today and the shelves are stocked full with Beatles books and magazines ... once again, people are making money by riding the coat-tails of The Fab Four.  FH Reader Dave Barry tells us about another new book (this one written by noted Beatles Historian Mark Lewisohn) that sounds kinda interesting: 

Check out the two sentences below I have highlighted in turquoise. My interpretation is that the U.K. release of this book has twice as many pages as the U.S. release. Is that your interpretation? If so, why would I want to buy the U.S. book, knowing that it's heavily abridged?--dB

Published: December 11, 2013
On Oct. 12 or Oct. 13, 1961, Paul McCartney and John Lennon visited the Hôtel de Beaune in Paris, near the Seine, to have their hair cut by a friend. Mark Lewisohn, billed on his book jacket as “the world’s only professional Beatles historian,” may know more about this seminal pop-cultural event than anyone else on the planet, including Mr. McCartney. The budding Beatle might have been too caught up in the moment to remember its exact details. Mr. Lewisohn has had some 50 years to parse them.
The Beatles: All These Years, Vol. 1  
By Mark Lewisohn  
Illustrated. 932 pages. Crown Archetype. $40.

In “Tune In,” the first installment of a projected three-volume history of the Beatles, Mr. Lewisohn describes how Jürgen Vollmer, a photographer then friendly with the Nerk Twins, as those two Beatles sometimes called themselves, obliged their wish to look less Liverpudlian and more Left Bank bohemian. So he cut Mr. McCartney’s hair first into what Mr. Vollmer called a Caesar style and what the guy on the other end of the scissors called “a kind of longhaired Hitler thing.” It looked better when it grew in.
Cuttings from both Beatles’ hair were stashed under the bed; their present-day eBay value is incalculable. The next morning the hotel concierge found the mess and was furious. “She would not be the last to scream over the Beatles’ hair,” Mr. Lewisohn writes.
And Mr. Lewisohn is not the first to describe that screaming. But he is the most scholarly and painstaking, and he is the most serious historian to have examined the Beatles’ lives and work. The results can be dubious at times, when the minutiae becomes too microscopic or when he assumes that what he has not uncovered cannot be known. As for romantic entanglements, for instance, during that same Paris sojourn, Mr. Lewisohn writes about Lennon, “It isn’t known if he and Paul got l’amour in Paris.”
It probably is known to Mr. McCartney, who has cooperated with Mr. Lewisohn on many of his other Beatles projects. But Sir Paul stayed mum on this one. “Tune In” is liable to be approached slowly and suspiciously. It’s an opening salvo that doesn’t get beyond 1962. This edition, with text that runs 803 pages (lengthy notes and index are extra), turns out to be an abridgment of a two-volume version that was published in Britain and is nearly twice as long. And much more expensive. (That version is available by mail order from Britain; it hasn’t come out in the United States.) The most eager readers have little choice but to tackle both versions, a maddening battle plan. And this abridgment could have been short enough to be more approachable. But it is not: Mr. Lewisohn’s sometimes arrogant emphasis on research trumps his desire to make “Tune In” reader-friendly.
Still, the intrepid reader who enters the portals of “Tune In” is probably in the presence of slow-gestating greatness. The finished history promises to have monumental stature, and this warm-up may turn out to be its most revealing installment. Mr. Lewisohn executes the difficult trick of introducing five major characters — John, Paul, George, Ringo and Liverpool — and patiently establishing each before their paths cross. It is invaluable to view each band member as a separate individual, as in the case of Richy Starkey, a.k.a. Ringo Starr, who is the brashest, sexiest and sickliest of the four before he becomes a Beatle, three-quarters of the way into “Tune In.”
It’s also eye-opening to read Mr. Lewisohn’s revisionist versions of the most widely propagated myths about band members’ early years, especially when it comes to Lennon’s romanticizing of his mother. “Tune In” pays close attention to the many American influences on the young pre-Beatles. (Was Lennon’s early group the Quarry Men or Quarrymen? Of course Mr. Lewisohn has a footnote for that.) They hit adolescence just as rock ’n’ roll records became buyable, and “Tune In” keenly chronicles the favorites that they would draw on or recycle, even for their name: Beatles was a play on Buddy Holly’s Crickets, simple as that. And he astutely points out that they had to experience their own versions of Beatlemania to inspire it later: Holly and Elvis Presley drove them wild.
George Harrison never forgot the sight of Eddie Cochran at a live show, brushing back his hairdo and murmuring “Hi, honey” to an adoring fan. Mr. Starr, after seeing Johnny Ray dropping postcard photos of himself out a hotel window, knew this was the life for him. If there is one overall point that “Tune In” makes emphatically, it’s that the Beatles didn’t happen by magic. They envisioned a highly original goal and then fought toward it, every step of the way.
Once readers get over the hump of tuning in to “Tune In” and accepting that it must be read at a very leisurely pace, Mr. Lewisohn’s nuances can be fully appreciated. He captures the internecine struggles and bonds that were so important to forming the band’s winning formula. There is much illuminating biographical material on both Brian Epstein and George Martin and keen insight into why they became essential to the Beatles’ success.

Then there are the extra Beatles, about whom much misleading information exists. These were teenage boys, after all, and they had friendships and rivalries. Mr. Lewisohn provides an in-depth explanation of why the bassist Stu Sutcliffe brought out Mr. McCartney’s possessiveness about Lennon, though Sutcliffe’s girlfriend, Astrid Kirchherr, had a strong influence on the band’s early look. As for Pete Best, the drummer who is one of many contenders for the moniker Fifth Beatle, Mr. Lewisohn treats him harshly. The book presents detailed evidence that he was recruited in desperation when the band needed a drummer for its stint in Germany and dismissed for two good reasons: he couldn’t keep a beat, and Mr. Starr was better.
“Tune In,” which starts out as a doorstop and evolves into a rich cornucopia for those with the patience to stay with it, concludes suspensefully on the last night of 1962, with the Beatles on the brink. The text’s last words, from Lennon: “It was just a matter of time before everybody else caught on.” And one last, welcome word on the final page: “Intermission.”

re:  Saying Goodbye:
McCartney, of course, wrote, produced and performed on The Everly Brothers' 1984 comeback hit "On The Wings Of A Nightingale" (#50), not a bad track but not one I've heard played in memory of the recently departed Phil Everly ... so we'll run it here today in Forgotten Hits ... along with Macca's comments about losing Phil:

Phil Everly was one of my great heroes.  With his brother Don, they were one of the major influences on the Beatles.  When John and I first started to write songs, I was Phil and he was Don. Years later, when I finally met Phil, I was completely star-struck and at the same time extremely impressed by his humility and gentleness of soul. I will always love him for giving me some of the sweetest musical memories of my life.
-- Paul McCartney 

From Vintage Vinyl News:  Paul Simon also noted the Everlys' impact on the Beatles – as well as on his own duo with Art Garfunkel – in a 2004 Rolling Stone article. "The Everly Brothers' impact exceeds even their fame," he wrote at the time. "They were a big influence on John Lennon and Paul McCartney and, of course, on Simon and Garfunkel." 

Got this from our FH Buddy Fred Vail ... and he's right ... when you see the accumulated list for the year, it REALLY has an impact.  Today we remember some of the artists we lost in 2013.

This past November, I read an article that approximately 550 to 600 World War 2 veterans -- all members of 'the greatest generation' -- are dying on a daily basis. Proportionately, 2013 - 2014 has taken it's toll on dozens and dozens of some of the greatest pioneers of pop, rock, and rockabilly music. So far, in 2014, we lost one half of what could easily be called the greatest duo (and certainly the most influential) in the history of rock and roll, Phil Everly. We also lost one of the most noted lead singers, Jay Traynor of "Jay & The Americans" and lately of "The Tokens."
2013 took a far greater toll. We lost hundreds of singers, musicians, songwriters and a few key non-performer legends, perhaps, most notably Grammy Award winning producer / engineer Phil Ramone, "Crawdaddy" creator / publisher / author Paul Williams, impresario / promoter Sid Bernstein (95 years old and still snubbed by the RRHOF), Bobby Martin, producer / engineer and one of the architects of "the Sound of Philadelphia," producer / engineer Andy Johns (Stones, Hendrix, Rod Stewart, Clapton, Zeppelin), "Shindig" host / radio deejay Jimmy O'Neill and the incomparable 'star' of WLS and WCFL Radio, Chicago's Larry Lujack. 
When we read about these fallen trailblazers in Forgotten Hits -- every few weeks or a few times a month -- it does not hit you like seeing them all in one place.
But below are 'some' of the folks who influenced our lives with their musical contributions.
"Forgotten Hits" regular and friend, Alan O'Day  (that one REALLY hurt - kk)
Former Mouseketeers and hit makers "Annette" and Dick(y) Dodd (The Bel Airs and Standells)
Patty Andrews (The Andrews Sisters)
"The Singing Rage, Miss Patti Page"
Marshall Lytle (Bill Haley and The Comets)
Bob Engemann (The Letterrmen)
Lou Reed
Bobby Blue Bland
Jewel Akens
Eydie Gorme
Richard Street (The Temptations)
Bobby Rogers (Smokey Robinson and The Miracles)
Jim Sundquist (The Fendermen)
Stanley Knight (Black Oak Arkansas)
Ray Manzarek (The Doors)
Floyd "Buddy" Mc Rae (The Chords / "Sh-Boom")
Reg Presley (The Troggs)
Leroy Bonner (Ohio Players)
Rick Huxley (The Dave Clark Five)
Ken Hodges (Spanky and Our Gang)
Robert "Bobby" Smith (principal lead singer, The Spinners)
Marvin Junior (The Dells)
Virgil Johnson (The Velvets)
Richie Havens
Shadow Morton
Tony Sheridan
Claude King
Peter Banks ("Yes")
Eydie Gorme
Clarence Burke (Five Stairsteps)
Joe Kelly (Shadows of Knight)
Drummer Tommy Wells
Gordon Stoker (The Jordanaires)
Marshall Sewell (The Edsels)
Alvin Lee
JJ Cale
Billy Adamson (The Searchers)
Pete Haycock (Climax Blues Band)
Allen Lanier (Blue Oyster Cult)
Doug Grasser (Ohio Players)
I'm sure there are a number of you out there who can add to this list --and, sadly -- there were dozens more including a number of additional musicians and songwriters.
We owe a debt of gratitude the wonderful musical legacy they left us.
Fred Vail
Treasure Isle Recorders, Inc.
Music City, USA
Right off the bat you can add these names to the list:
Sammy Johns ("Chevy Van")
Larry Verne  ("Please Mr. Custer")
Bobby Parker (who we interviewed a couple of years ago in FH ... and very likely was screwed out of the royalties for the popular '60's song "You Got What It Takes", a hit for both Marv Johnson and The Dave Clark Five)  Bobby also recorded the hit "Watch Your Step", the guitar riff from which John Lennon said inspired him to write The Beatles' #1 Hit "I Feel Fine".  (It's always sounded a lot more like The Allman Brothers' "One Way Out" to me!!!)
Country Singer Jack Greene
Noel Harrison
Apple Records artist Jackie Lomax
Hugh McCracken  (guitar whiz session player)
Emilio Pericoli  (Al-Di-La)
Tompall Glaser
Marvin Rainwater (he spoke with Forgotten Hits many moons ago)
The legendary Slim Whitman
and Country Superstars George Jones and Ray Price
as well as (in addition to legendary DJ Larry Lujack), our FH Buddy "Wild Bill" Cody
Yep ... a VERY tough year for saying goodbye.  (kk)

re:  Diggin' The Charts / The Saturday Surveys:
I thoroughly enjoyed looking through the radio surveys of other radio stations here in the country and to see what records made the surveys and which ones didn't that would turn out to be big hits on a national level.
You mentioned that the song GEORGIANNA was big in Chicago and didn't make the national charts. You said you didn't understand that. Many years ago, a man in record promotions told me that the question could be answered in one word and that one word was PAYOLA. I have had record promotion men look at weekly surveys and would and or could tell which ones were considered to be of the PAYOLA type. Who knows? Would be interesting to know just how many copies were sold at the various record shops in Chicago.
Finally, I learned something today. I was familiar, though not all that much, of the singing group Dave, Dee, Dozey, Beaky, Mick and Tich. I did not know they recorded the song BEND IT. That particular song by that group didn't chart here in OKC. However, a local group which called themselves the Noblemen did record it. For the week of March 16, 1967 here in OKC, their version of BEND IT peaked at #2. It was on CJL record label with a flip called STOP YOUR RUNNING AROUND.
Larry Neal
I have ALWAYS loved the song "Bend It" and it got a TON of airplay here in Chicago despite never making any of our local charts.  (Even WIND used to play the heck out of this one.)  My Mom loved it, too, and bought (and played) the 45 ... a couple of us kids bought copies, too.
I didn't learn until many, many years later that Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich recorded two DRASTICALLY different versions of the song ... we covered this AGES ago in FH (and I'll have to dig through the archives to see if I can find that piece) as apparently some folks thought the version we featured the other day was perhaps a little too "suggestive" for its time.  To this day, I still don't get it ... and thought this song should have been a MONSTER hit here.  (It never charted in Billboard and only spent one week at #100 in Cash Box.  Back home in Great Britain (where these guys were a HUGE success), it peaked at #2.  GREAT track as far as I'm concerned.  The song that DID chart for them was the infinitely inferior "Zabadak" from 1968.  Go figure.  (kk)
UPDATE:  No need to go digging through the ancient 2002 - 2006 archives ... I found highlighted excerpts up on the current website after all.  You can check out this article, posted after Dave Dee died in 2009:
I'm reading Mac Gayden's autobiography "Missing String Theory," and in one chapter he writes about his hit song "Everlasting Love." He states that the record (original Robert Knight recording) reached Number 13 on Billboard, and would have reached the Top Ten if Monument Records had agreed to buy a full page ad in Billboard . They refused, and the record stalled, then dropped. Have you heard of this kind of situation?
David Lewis
Unfortunately yes, and although not openly talked about in outside circles, apparently it was a fairly common practice exercised by all of the major publishing trades at the time.  (Suffice to say that payola was NOT confined to radio stations and disc jockeys!!!)  In fact, word is it still continues to this day, just in different "work around" formats.  There has long been talk about which artists have gotten the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame nod in the past based on which record labels bought the $25,000 tables for the awards ceremony.  Makes you wonder if ANYTHING was real back then.  How do you truly trust ANY of the chart information when you know that tactics like this were going on behind the scenes.
And don't miss our brand new weekly feature, The Saturday Surveys, spotlighting charts from around the country.  Be sure to check back tomorrow to see this week's edition!  (kk)