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|I recently had the good fortune to do a Podcast with a very talented interviewer, Justin Flagel. A fellow music historian who was most interested in pioneer rock n' roll. We talked for hours! This will the first of several podcasts. We will keep you posted as to broadcast date and what stations it will air on! This is rock n' roll history. I feel honored to be a part of it and also privileged to share this wonderful experience with the next generation that I see all around me! As Danny and the Juniors said "Rock n' roll is here to stay"! This first podcast covers the crude recording techniques and experimenting in the late 50's through recording pop hits on the newly devised hi-tech 4-track in New York City, major studios, early 60's. |
|Sometime in the mid 60's, I found myself on the West Coast in a band named "The Band of Gold"! We were an East coast group and as different from most West Coast bands as night and day. Aside from the fledgling psychedelic acid band movement around San Francisco, most West Coast bands were "surfin' bands". Typically three guitars and drums. Their stage, outfitting was pretty much "Beach Boys" style-short sleeve shirts, white or khaki shirts or baggies. Mostly short hair and looked like Beatles ready for the Marine Corp or guys just out of boot camp! The East Coast agents took full advantage of this difference and exported East Coast "R&B" bands, such as ours with great success. The difference of demographics between then and now would be hard to comprehend today. We mostly looked like we came from another country-or perhaps another planet. We all wore mohair or shark skin tailored suits, patent leather shoes or "Beatle boots" with coordinated shirts and neckties, razor cut doos, even suspenders! I guess we looked more like the cast of Goodfellas than R&B musicians. The look and the music made us very much in demand though. A typical East Coast band had a B3 Hammond organ, guitar, bass and two or three horns-trumpet and sax. Most bass and guitar players in these bands could play enough notes on the trumpet, 'bone to constitute a section on some numbers. This with the B3 player kicking pedals for bass. The MUSIC was a universal language and "soul music" was coming on strong all over the USA East and West. So while the West Coast bands were emulating the Beach Boys, Dick Dale, Duane Eddy, we were doing stone R&B....James Brown, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Ray Charles, Ike & Tina, Righteous Bros. This kind of music had caught on big time all across the USA, but there weren't many bands on the West Coast who were proficient at it yet, or equipped to play it. One must remember that the demographics and media were much more colloquial. They were nowhere near as universally homogenized as they are today. So many sections of the country had their own preferences to popular music. The South of course loved country, some Memphis blues. The East and Midwest loved rock n' roll and rhythm and blues and the West Coast had its' own surfin' music. But for some reason, the country grabbed onto the East Coast R&B, what seemed like overnight. As a result, there were a few East Coast bands like ours touring up and down the West Coast. We worked LA to Seattle and were never short of a good paying gig. Typically 1.4-2 K--for a 5 or 6 piece band. You could buy an Olds Cutlass convert for that at that time! Our band consisted of my brother Clay who was an excellent front man, B3/guitar player and sax, trumpet, both Easterners who were able to play all the parts of the original records. We were joined by myself and a guitar player who left an East Coast band in the Midwest to hook-up with the aforementioned. He had just done a stint with Hollywood Argyles. We actually added a West Coast guy who played excellent trumpet, ala Miles Davis style. My brother had arranged a starter gig for us in San Francisco in North Beach, an area full of clubs. We worked eight hours a night in this place. Terribly long, but a good way to tighten up in a hurry. I should add here that San Francisco was in the middle of its' much sensationalized topless craze. There was even a topless shoeshine and get this, a gay bar had a topless topless! Our club had an amateur topless contest. The winner of which got to go Hollywood for a screen test. The whole thing of course, was a hoax. The club owner had some girls who were "plants" in the audience. He and a few other club owners rotated the girls so the frequent customers wouldn't catch on! The bit was announced as a screen test. Do we have any volunteers? Of course, the selected plants would raise their hands, be invited to the stage, get interviewed, where ya from, etc. We had every conceivable type of female contestant, young college girls earning extra pay, waitress types, some typical in stature, some "extremely endowed". I remember a French woman who didn't speak a word of English and had the biggest jugs I've ever seen! On the opposite end of the scale there was a very cute, "girl next door type" complete with ponytail, who was as flat chested as any ten year old boy. She used to win all the time! America's traditional support for the "underdog"? So out they'd come, dancing in their slips and stockings and heels. Slips? Remember this is the 60's! Amazingly many nonplant gals would get miffed at their male counterparts, dates and while the men were oggling the topless wonders on stage, they'd look around and find their date up there on stage with the rest of them. This happened all the time. There's no business like show business! We, however, working the eight hours, pretty much nonstop were just plain burnt out. I remember my guitar player buddy leanin' over and sayin' "Man I never thought a boob could look so uninviting!" So that's how we got our start on the Coast! Outside of the club I loved San Francisco. The smell of the pine block brakes on the trollies, the distinct bell clang each trolly route told and my apartment, at the foot of Coit Tower overlooking the Bay, $175.00 a month! As a point of interest in our section of North Beach, regular folks donned every day casual clothes, except for the newly emerging "hippie cult". On the other hand, if you went downtown to Market Street, you'd see most all the women in suits, hats and gloves. Also, you could just jump on a trolly and when turnaround time came, the passengers would jump off and help turn the trolly around. I mention "hippies". I'd seen plenty of "beatniks" in New York City in the Village, but this was really different. One night the California guy in our band decided it was time. He said "come with me" "I'll show you what's really going on here"! He took me to a place where the smoke billowing out of the door would all but knock you down. Inside packed like sardines were people with flowers around their heads, patterns in their clothes, the back of the stage had amoeba-like patterns, constantly changing. MIster Hip--"Boy from New York City", was mesmerized. I'd never seen anything like it! The first band and first song I heard was Jefferson Airplane with Gracie Slick singin' "White Rabbit"! Talk about timing! I also saw Big Brother and Janis, The Grateful Dead, along with Albert Collins?, Zappa in an elevator on Market Street. One of my immediate thought was "What the heck do they need us for"? The adventure continues........next time "Accidentally Ike & Tina"! |