אל קופר בן 79 • Al Kooper לא נקפּח ביום זה, בינות האירועים הנערמים, את אחד ממניפי התרומה הגדולים בפּרוגרס המוזיקלי המבורך של שנות ה60 ואילך, מבכירי העֵדָה - אל קוּפֶּר. היום הוא בן 79 שנים, ושנרו יאיר ושיהיה בּריא. בגיל צעיר מאוד הגיע קופּר לכדי התמחות רבּת כישרון הן על הגיטרה והן על הפּסנתר. בבית הוריו בבּרוקלין, בה נולד, שמעו בין היתר גם תקליטי בּלוז. קופּר זכר לטובה את שירתהּ של בּסי סמית'. הוא אהב בּלוז, גוספּל וכן את כל התנועות המוזיקליות, פחות או יותר, שנולדו בהיותו נער הנלהב לנגן. דרכו של קופּר רבּה ונפתלת. הוא למעשה ייסד את להקת Blood, Sweat & Tears ועזב לאחר התקליט הראשון. הוא אף גילה את כישרונם של חברי ה-Lynyrd Skynyrd והפיק את שלושת תקליטיה הראשונים של הלהקה הדרומית והטרגית. חשיבות דרמטית היתה לקופּר בנוכחותו לצידו של דילן בשנת 1965. הוא שאחראי למהלך האורגן המהולל בשיר Like a Rolling Stone שהפך לדגלו של השיר. כמו כן שותף פעיל היה בהופעתו המחושמלת ומעוררת המחלוקת של דילן בפסטיבל ניו פּורט אותה שנה. חבר מרכזי בחוּנטה היהודית של להקת הBlues Project, חבר נאמן למייק בלומפילד הדגול והמנוח עמו הופיע והקליט כמה תקליטים ובניהם, Super Session הזכור לטוב.נתכנס הלילה ונשלח בשידורינו זה את ברכּת הישוב למר קופּר היקר.
"Busted flat in Baton Rouge, waiting for a trainI was feeling near as faded as my jeansBobby thumbed a diesel down just before it rainedAnd rode us all the way to New OrleansFreedom's just another word for nothing left to loseNothing don't mean nothing honey if it ain't free, now now"Want to feel free, please join me on the "Day Tripper edition of Whole 'Nuther Thing on KXFM 104.7. Joining us are The Blues Project, Marshall Tucker Band, Rickie Lee Jones, Roxy Music, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Leonard Cohen, The Eagles, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Beatles, Simply red, Jimmy Buffett, Allman Brothers Band, Rolling Stones, Tom Rush, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Kris Kristofferson, Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd and Janis Joplin w Full Tilt Boogie Band.
"Said the straight man to the late man "Where have you been?"I've been here and I've been there and I've been in betweenI talk to the wind, my words are all carried awayI talk to the wind, the wind does not hearThe wind cannot hear"It's been freezing everywhere but here, in Southern California. I've got the fireplace going so pull up a chair and a warm beverage and join me for the "Daytripper" version of Whole 'Nuther Thing and spend Christmas Eve together. Joining us for a mellow afternoon / evening are David Arkenstone, Fleetwood Mac, Elton John, Donovan, Pat Metheny w Lyle Mays, Crosby Stills & Nash, Mason Williams, Love, Judy Collins, The Beatles, Bee Gees, Neil Diamond, Linda Ronstadt, Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66, Tim Story, Phoebe Snow, Electric Light Orchestra, Blues Project, Left Banke, Richard Harris, Simon& Garfunkel, Janis Ian, Paul Simon and The Blue Dolphins...
"All the leaves are brown and the sky is grayI've been for a walk on a winter's dayI'd be safe and warm if I was in L.A.California dreamin' on such a winter's day"Not this weekend but you can warm up with me this afternoon on the "Day Tripper" Edition of Whole 'Nuther Thing on KXFM 104.7.Joining us are John Lennon, The Beatles, Leo Kotke, The Doors, Warren Zevon, Joni Mitchell, Dan Fogelberg with Tim Weisberg, Gerry & The Pacemakers, The Black Keys, Beach Boys, Wallflowers, Hollies, Blues Project, Deep Purple, Kenny Rankin, Mark-Almond Band, Leonard Cohen, Willie Nile, Billy Cobham, Steely Dan and Jose Feliciano...
"Well, I dreamed I saw the silver space ships flyingIn the yellow haze of the sun.There were children crying and colors flyingAll around the chosen ones.All in a dream, all in a dream, the loading had begun.Flying Mother Nature's silver seed to a new home in the sun.Flying Mother Nature's silver seed to a new home."Please join me on the "Red Eye" Edition of Whole 'Nuther Thing, good seats still available. Joining us are Fleetwood Mac, The Blue Dolphins, Laurence Juber, The Lovin' Spoonful, Carole King, Yes, Cream, The Beatles, Turtles, Jefferson Airplane, Joni Mitchell, Leon Russell, Ultimate Spinach, Crosby Stills & Nash, The Doors, Grateful Dead, Grass Roots, William Ackerman, The Blues Project, Clear Light, Bill Evans w Jim Hall, Elton John, Bob Welch, Iron Butterfly and Neil Young.
This episode showcases to bands that became revered in underground circles back in the 1960's., The Electric Prunes and The Blues Project featuring Al Kooper. Both bands experimented with the pop format and played a more expansive, experimental types of music. The Electric Prunes were from the San Fernando valley and differentiated themselves from the Los Angeles bands and created a unique Garage Psychedelic sound. The Blues Project featured Al Kooper, initially. They played Blues but they also expanded the perimeter of the blues sound. I hope you enjoy both bands,Please feel free to donate or Tip the show at email@example.comPlease have a look at these special interest sites.If you would, please make a donation of love and hope to St. Jude Children's HospitalMake an impact on the lives of St. Jude kids - St. Jude Children's Research Hospital (stjude.org)Get your Vegan Collagen Gummies from Earth & Elle, available thru Amazon at this link.Amazon.com: Earth & Elle Vegan Collagen Gummies - Non-GMO Biotin Gummies, Vitamin A, E, C - Plant Based Collagen Supplements for Healthier Hair, Skin, Nails - 60 Chews of Orange Flavored Gummies, Made in USA : Health & HouseholdKathy Bushnell Website for Emily Muff bandHome | Kathy Bushnell | Em & MooListen to previous shows at the main webpage at:https://www.buzzsprout.com/1329053Pamela Des Barres Home page for books, autographs, clothing and online writing classes.Pamela Des Barres | The Official Website of the Legendary Groupie and Author (pameladesbarresofficial.com)Listen to more music by Laurie Larson at:Home | Shashké Music and Art (laurielarson.net)View the most amazing paintings by Marijke Koger-Dunham (Formally of the 1960's artists collective, "The Fool").Psychedelic, Visionary and Fantasy Art by Marijke Koger (marijkekogerart.com)For unique Candles have a look at Stardust Lady's Etsy shopWhere art and armor become one where gods are by TwistedByStardust (etsy.com)For your astrological chart reading, contact Astrologer Tisch Aitken at:https://www.facebook.com/AstrologerTisch/Tarot card readings by Kalinda available atThe Mythical Muse | FacebookEmma Bonner-Morgan Facebook music pageThe Music Of Emma Bonner-Morgan | FacebookFor booking Children's parties and character parties in the Los Angeles area contact Kalinda Gray at:https://www.facebook.com/wishingwellparties/I'm listed in Feedspot's "Top 10 Psychedelic Podcasts You Must Follow".
"I took myself a blue canoe, and I floated like a leafDazzling, dancing, Half enchanted in my Merlin sleepSo where to now, St. Peter? Show me which road I'm onWhich road I'm on...Hit the road with me this afternoon on the Saturday Edition of Whole 'Nuther Thing, joining us are Danny Kalb, Fred Neil, ELO, Bob Dylan, The Mamas & Papas, Kingston Trio, Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band, Lovin' Spoonful, Blues Project, The Move, Beau Brummels, Judy Collins, Rascals, Donovan, Ian & Sylvia, Crispian St. Peters, The Zombies, Buckinghams, Tom Paxton, Animals, Byrds, Kinks, Genesis and Elton John.
A History Of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs
Episode one hundred and fifty-eight of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at “White Rabbit”, Jefferson Airplane, and the rise of the San Francisco sound. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode. Patreon backers also have a twenty-three-minute bonus episode available, on "Omaha" by Moby Grape. Tilt Araiza has assisted invaluably by doing a first-pass edit, and will hopefully be doing so from now on. Check out Tilt's irregular podcasts at http://www.podnose.com/jaffa-cakes-for-proust and http://sitcomclub.com/ Erratum I refer to Back to Methuselah by Robert Heinlein. This is of course a play by George Bernard Shaw. What I meant to say was Methuselah's Children. Resources I hope to upload a Mixcloud tomorrow, and will edit it in, but have had some problems with the site today. Jefferson Airplane's first four studio albums, plus a 1968 live album, can be found in this box set. I've referred to three main books here. Got a Revolution!: The Turbulent Flight of Jefferson Airplane by Jeff Tamarkin is written with the co-operation of the band members, but still finds room to criticise them. Jefferson Airplane On Track by Richard Molesworth is a song-by-song guide to the band's music. And Been So Long: My Life and Music by Jorma Kaukonen is Kaukonen's autobiography. Some information on Skip Spence and Matthew Katz also comes from What's Big and Purple and Lives in the Ocean?: The Moby Grape Story, by Cam Cobb, which I also used for this week's bonus. Patreon This podcast is brought to you by the generosity of my backers on Patreon. Why not join them? Transcript Before I start, I need to confess an important and hugely embarrassing error in this episode. I've only ever seen Marty Balin's name written down, never heard it spoken, and only after recording the episode, during the editing process, did I discover I mispronounce it throughout. It's usually an advantage for the podcast that I get my information from books rather than TV documentaries and the like, because they contain far more information, but occasionally it causes problems like that. My apologies. Also a brief note that this episode contains some mentions of racism, antisemitism, drug and alcohol abuse, and gun violence. One of the themes we've looked at in recent episodes is the way the centre of the musical world -- at least the musical world as it was regarded by the people who thought of themselves as hip in the mid-sixties -- was changing in 1967. Up to this point, for a few years there had been two clear centres of the rock and pop music worlds. In the UK, there was London, and any British band who meant anything had to base themselves there. And in the US, at some point around 1963, the centre of the music industry had moved West. Up to then it had largely been based in New York, and there was still a thriving industry there as of the mid sixties. But increasingly the records that mattered, that everyone in the country had been listening to, had come out of LA Soul music was, of course, still coming primarily from Detroit and from the Country-Soul triangle in Tennessee and Alabama, but when it came to the new brand of electric-guitar rock that was taking over the airwaves, LA was, up until the first few months of 1967, the only city that was competing with London, and was the place to be. But as we heard in the episode on "San Francisco", with the Monterey Pop Festival all that started to change. While the business part of the music business remained centred in LA, and would largely remain so, LA was no longer the hip place to be. Almost overnight, jangly guitars, harmonies, and Brian Jones hairstyles were out, and feedback, extended solos, and droopy moustaches were in. The place to be was no longer LA, but a few hundred miles North, in San Francisco -- something that the LA bands were not all entirely happy about: [Excerpt: The Mothers of Invention, "Who Needs the Peace Corps?"] In truth, the San Francisco music scene, unlike many of the scenes we've looked at so far in this series, had rather a limited impact on the wider world of music. Bands like Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, and Big Brother and the Holding Company were all both massively commercially successful and highly regarded by critics, but unlike many of the other bands we've looked at before and will look at in future, they didn't have much of an influence on the bands that would come after them, musically at least. Possibly this is because the music from the San Francisco scene was always primarily that -- music created by and for a specific group of people, and inextricable from its context. The San Francisco musicians were defining themselves by their geographical location, their peers, and the situation they were in, and their music was so specifically of the place and time that to attempt to copy it outside of that context would appear ridiculous, so while many of those bands remain much loved to this day, and many made some great music, it's very hard to point to ways in which that music influenced later bands. But what they did influence was the whole of rock music culture. For at least the next thirty years, and arguably to this day, the parameters in which rock musicians worked if they wanted to be taken seriously – their aesthetic and political ideals, their methods of collaboration, the cultural norms around drug use and sexual promiscuity, ideas of artistic freedom and authenticity, the choice of acceptable instruments – in short, what it meant to be a rock musician rather than a pop, jazz, country, or soul artist – all those things were defined by the cultural and behavioural norms of the San Francisco scene between about 1966 and 68. Without the San Francisco scene there's no Woodstock, no Rolling Stone magazine, no Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, no hippies, no groupies, no rock stars. So over the next few months we're going to take several trips to the Bay Area, and look at the bands which, for a brief time, defined the counterculture in America. The story of Jefferson Airplane -- and unlike other bands we've looked at recently, like The Pink Floyd and The Buffalo Springfield, they never had a definite article at the start of their name to wither away like a vestigial organ in subsequent years -- starts with Marty Balin. Balin was born in Ohio, but was a relatively sickly child -- he later talked about being autistic, and seems to have had the chronic illnesses that so often go with neurodivergence -- so in the hope that the dry air would be good for his chest his family moved to Arizona. Then when his father couldn't find work there, they moved further west to San Francisco, in the Haight-Ashbury area, long before that area became the byword for the hippie movement. But it was in LA that he started his music career, and got his surname. Balin had been named Marty Buchwald as a kid, but when he was nineteen he had accompanied a friend to LA to visit a music publisher, and had ended up singing backing vocals on her demos. While he was there, he had encountered the arranger Jimmy Haskell. Haskell was on his way to becoming one of the most prominent arrangers in the music industry, and in his long career he would go on to do arrangements for Bobby Gentry, Blondie, Steely Dan, Simon and Garfunkel, and many others. But at the time he was best known for his work on Ricky Nelson's hits: [Excerpt: Ricky Nelson, "Hello Mary Lou"] Haskell thought that Marty had the makings of a Ricky Nelson style star, as he was a good-looking young man with a decent voice, and he became a mentor for the young man. Making the kind of records that Haskell arranged was expensive, and so Haskell suggested a deal to him -- if Marty's father would pay for studio time and musicians, Haskell would make a record with him and find him a label to put it out. Marty's father did indeed pay for the studio time and the musicians -- some of the finest working in LA at the time. The record, released under the name Marty Balin, featured Jack Nitzsche on keyboards, Earl Palmer on drums, Milt Jackson on vibraphone, Red Callender on bass, and Glen Campbell and Barney Kessell on guitars, and came out on Challenge Records, a label owned by Gene Autry: [Excerpt: Marty Balin, "Nobody But You"] Neither that, nor Balin's follow-up single, sold a noticeable amount of copies, and his career as a teen idol was over before it had begun. Instead, as many musicians of his age did, he decided to get into folk music, joining a vocal harmony group called the Town Criers, who patterned themselves after the Weavers, and performed the same kind of material that every other clean-cut folk vocal group was performing at the time -- the kind of songs that John Phillips and Steve Stills and Cass Elliot and Van Dyke Parks and the rest were all performing in their own groups at the same time. The Town Criers never made any records while they were together, but some archival recordings of them have been released over the decades: [Excerpt: The Town Criers, "900 Miles"] The Town Criers split up, and Balin started performing as a solo folkie again. But like all those other then-folk musicians, Balin realised that he had to adapt to the K/T-event level folk music extinction that happened when the Beatles hit America like a meteorite. He had to form a folk-rock group if he wanted to survive -- and given that there were no venues for such a group to play in San Francisco, he also had to start a nightclub for them to play in. He started hanging around the hootenannies in the area, looking for musicians who might form an electric band. The first person he decided on was a performer called Paul Kantner, mainly because he liked his attitude. Kantner had got on stage in front of a particularly drunk, loud, crowd, and performed precisely half a song before deciding he wasn't going to perform in front of people like that and walking off stage. Kantner was the only member of the new group to be a San Franciscan -- he'd been born and brought up in the city. He'd got into folk music at university, where he'd also met a guitar player named Jorma Kaukonen, who had turned him on to cannabis, and the two had started giving music lessons at a music shop in San Jose. There Kantner had also been responsible for booking acts at a local folk club, where he'd first encountered acts like Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions, a jug band which included Jerry Garcia, Pigpen McKernan, and Bob Weir, who would later go on to be the core members of the Grateful Dead: [Excerpt: Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions, "In the Jailhouse Now"] Kantner had moved around a bit between Northern and Southern California, and had been friendly with two other musicians on the Californian folk scene, David Crosby and Roger McGuinn. When their new group, the Byrds, suddenly became huge, Kantner became aware of the possibility of doing something similar himself, and so when Marty Balin approached him to form a band, he agreed. On bass, they got in a musician called Bob Harvey, who actually played double bass rather than electric, and who stuck to that for the first few gigs the group played -- he had previously been in a band called the Slippery Rock String Band. On drums, they brought in Jerry Peloquin, who had formerly worked for the police, but now had a day job as an optician. And on vocals, they brought in Signe Toley -- who would soon marry and change her name to Signe Anderson, so that's how I'll talk about her to avoid confusion. The group also needed a lead guitarist though -- both Balin and Kantner were decent rhythm players and singers, but they needed someone who was a better instrumentalist. They decided to ask Kantner's old friend Jorma Kaukonen. Kaukonen was someone who was seriously into what would now be called Americana or roots music. He'd started playing the guitar as a teenager, not like most people of his generation inspired by Elvis or Buddy Holly, but rather after a friend of his had shown him how to play an old Carter Family song, "Jimmy Brown the Newsboy": [Excerpt: The Carter Family, "Jimmy Brown the Newsboy"] Kaukonen had had a far more interesting life than most of the rest of the group. His father had worked for the State Department -- and there's some suggestion he'd worked for the CIA -- and the family had travelled all over the world, staying in Pakistan, the Philippines, and Finland. For most of his childhood, he'd gone by the name Jerry, because other kids beat him up for having a foreign name and called him a Nazi, but by the time he turned twenty he was happy enough using his birth name. Kaukonen wasn't completely immune to the appeal of rock and roll -- he'd formed a rock band, The Triumphs, with his friend Jack Casady when he was a teenager, and he loved Ricky Nelson's records -- but his fate as a folkie had been pretty much sealed when he went to Antioch College. There he met up with a blues guitarist called Ian Buchanan. Buchanan never had much of a career as a professional, but he had supposedly spent nine years studying with the blues and ragtime guitar legend Rev. Gary Davis, and he was certainly a fine guitarist, as can be heard on his contribution to The Blues Project, the album Elektra put out of white Greenwich Village musicians like John Sebastian and Dave Van Ronk playing old blues songs: [Excerpt: Ian Buchanan, "The Winding Boy"] Kaukonen became something of a disciple of Buchanan -- he said later that Buchanan probably taught him how to play because he was such a terrible player and Buchanan couldn't stand to listen to it -- as did John Hammond Jr, another student at Antioch at the same time. After studying at Antioch, Kaukonen started to travel around, including spells in Greenwich Village and in the Philippines, before settling in Santa Clara, where he studied for a sociology degree and became part of a social circle that included Dino Valenti, Jerry Garcia, and Billy Roberts, the credited writer of "Hey Joe". He also started performing as a duo with a singer called Janis Joplin. Various of their recordings from this period circulate, mostly recorded at Kaukonen's home with the sound of his wife typing in the background while the duo rehearse, as on this performance of an old Bessie Smith song: [Excerpt: Jorma Kaukonen and Janis Joplin, "Nobody Loves You When You're Down and Out"] By 1965 Kaukonen saw himself firmly as a folk-blues purist, who would not even think of playing rock and roll music, which he viewed with more than a little contempt. But he allowed himself to be brought along to audition for the new group, and Ken Kesey happened to be there. Kesey was a novelist who had written two best-selling books, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest and Sometimes A Great Notion, and used the financial independence that gave him to organise a group of friends who called themselves the Merry Pranksters, who drove from coast to coast and back again in a psychedelic-painted bus, before starting a series of events that became known as Acid Tests, parties at which everyone was on LSD, immortalised in Tom Wolfe's book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. Nobody has ever said why Kesey was there, but he had brought along an Echoplex, a reverb unit one could put a guitar through -- and nobody has explained why Kesey, who wasn't a musician, had an Echoplex to hand. But Kaukonen loved the sound that he could get by putting his guitar through the device, and so for that reason more than any other he decided to become an electric player and join the band, going out and buying a Rickenbacker twelve-string and Vox Treble Booster because that was what Roger McGuinn used. He would later also get a Guild Thunderbird six-string guitar and a Standel Super Imperial amp, following the same principle of buying the equipment used by other guitarists he liked, as they were what Zal Yanovsky of the Lovin' Spoonful used. He would use them for all his six-string playing for the next couple of years, only later to discover that the Lovin' Spoonful despised them and only used them because they had an endorsement deal with the manufacturers. Kaukonen was also the one who came up with the new group's name. He and his friends had a running joke where they had "Bluesman names", things like "Blind Outrage" and "Little Sun Goldfarb". Kaukonen's bluesman name, given to him by his friend Steve Talbot, had been Blind Thomas Jefferson Airplane, a reference to the 1920s blues guitarist Blind Lemon Jefferson: [Excerpt: Blind Lemon Jefferson, "Match Box Blues"] At the band meeting where they were trying to decide on a name, Kaukonen got frustrated at the ridiculous suggestions that were being made, and said "You want a stupid name? Howzabout this... Jefferson Airplane?" He said in his autobiography "It was one of those rare moments when everyone in the band agreed, and that was that. I think it was the only band meeting that ever allowed me to come away smiling." The newly-named Jefferson Airplane started to rehearse at the Matrix Club, the club that Balin had decided to open. This was run with three sound engineer friends, who put in the seed capital for the club. Balin had stock options in the club, which he got by trading a share of the band's future earnings to his partners, though as the group became bigger he eventually sold his stock in the club back to his business partners. Before their first public performance, they started working with a manager, Matthew Katz, mostly because Katz had access to a recording of a then-unreleased Bob Dylan song, "Lay Down Your Weary Tune": [Excerpt: Bob Dylan, "Lay Down Your Weary Tune"] The group knew that the best way for a folk-rock band to make a name for themselves was to perform a Dylan song nobody else had yet heard, and so they agreed to be managed by Katz. Katz started a pre-publicity blitz, giving out posters, badges, and bumper stickers saying "Jefferson Airplane Loves You" all over San Francisco -- and insisting that none of the band members were allowed to say "Hello" when they answered the phone any more, they had to say "Jefferson Airplane Loves You!" For their early rehearsals and gigs, they were performing almost entirely cover versions of blues and folk songs, things like Fred Neil's "The Other Side of This Life" and Dino Valenti's "Get Together" which were the common currency of the early folk-rock movement, and songs by their friends, like one called "Flower Bomb" by David Crosby, which Crosby now denies ever having written. They did start writing the odd song, but at this point they were more focused on performance than on writing. They also hired a press agent, their friend Bill Thompson. Thompson was friends with the two main music writers at the San Francisco Chronicle, Ralph Gleason, the famous jazz critic, who had recently started also reviewing rock music, and John Wasserman. Thompson got both men to come to the opening night of the Matrix, and both gave the group glowing reviews in the Chronicle. Record labels started sniffing around the group immediately as a result of this coverage, and according to Katz he managed to get a bidding war started by making sure that when A&R men came to the club there were always two of them from different labels, so they would see the other person and realise they weren't the only ones interested. But before signing a record deal they needed to make some personnel changes. The first member to go was Jerry Peloquin, for both musical and personal reasons. Peloquin was used to keeping strict time and the other musicians had a more free-flowing idea of what tempo they should be playing at, but also he had worked for the police while the other members were all taking tons of illegal drugs. The final break with Peloquin came when he did the rest of the group a favour -- Paul Kantner's glasses broke during a rehearsal, and as Peloquin was an optician he offered to take them back to his shop and fix them. When he got back, he found them auditioning replacements for him. He beat Kantner up, and that was the end of Jerry Peloquin in Jefferson Airplane. His replacement was Skip Spence, who the group had met when he had accompanied three friends to the Matrix, which they were using as a rehearsal room. Spence's friends went on to be the core members of Quicksilver Messenger Service along with Dino Valenti: [Excerpt: Quicksilver Messenger Service, "Dino's Song"] But Balin decided that Spence looked like a rock star, and told him that he was now Jefferson Airplane's drummer, despite Spence being a guitarist and singer, not a drummer. But Spence was game, and learned to play the drums. Next they needed to get rid of Bob Harvey. According to Harvey, the decision to sack him came after David Crosby saw the band rehearsing and said "Nice song, but get rid of the bass player" (along with an expletive before the word bass which I can't say without incurring the wrath of Apple). Crosby denies ever having said this. Harvey had started out in the group on double bass, but to show willing he'd switched in his last few gigs to playing an electric bass. When he was sacked by the group, he returned to double bass, and to the Slippery Rock String Band, who released one single in 1967: [Excerpt: The Slippery Rock String Band, "Tule Fog"] Harvey's replacement was Kaukonen's old friend Jack Casady, who Kaukonen knew was now playing bass, though he'd only ever heard him playing guitar when they'd played together. Casady was rather cautious about joining a rock band, but then Kaukonen told him that the band were getting fifty dollars a week salary each from Katz, and Casady flew over from Washington DC to San Francisco to join the band. For the first few gigs, he used Bob Harvey's bass, which Harvey was good enough to lend him despite having been sacked from the band. Unfortunately, right from the start Casady and Kantner didn't get on. When Casady flew in from Washington, he had a much more clean-cut appearance than the rest of the band -- one they've described as being nerdy, with short, slicked-back, side-parted hair and a handlebar moustache. Kantner insisted that Casady shave the moustache off, and he responded by shaving only one side, so in profile on one side he looked clean-shaven, while from the other side he looked like he had a full moustache. Kantner also didn't like Casady's general attitude, or his playing style, at all -- though most critics since this point have pointed to Casady's bass playing as being the most interesting and distinctive thing about Jefferson Airplane's style. This lineup seems to have been the one that travelled to LA to audition for various record companies -- a move that immediately brought the group a certain amount of criticism for selling out, both for auditioning for record companies and for going to LA at all, two things that were already anathema on the San Francisco scene. The only audition anyone remembers them having specifically is one for Phil Spector, who according to Kaukonen was waving a gun around during the audition, so he and Casady walked out. Around this time as well, the group performed at an event billed as "A Tribute to Dr. Strange", organised by the radical hippie collective Family Dog. Marvel Comics, rather than being the multi-billion-dollar Disney-owned corporate juggernaut it is now, was regarded as a hip, almost underground, company -- and around this time they briefly started billing their comics not as comics but as "Marvel Pop Art Productions". The magical adventures of Dr. Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts, and in particular the art by far-right libertarian artist Steve Ditko, were regarded as clear parallels to both the occult dabblings and hallucinogen use popular among the hippies, though Ditko had no time for either, following as he did an extreme version of Ayn Rand's Objectivism. It was at the Tribute to Dr. Strange that Jefferson Airplane performed for the first time with a band named The Great Society, whose lead singer, Grace Slick, would later become very important in Jefferson Airplane's story: [Excerpt: The Great Society, "Someone to Love"] That gig was also the first one where the band and their friends noticed that large chunks of the audience were now dressing up in costumes that were reminiscent of the Old West. Up to this point, while Katz had been managing the group and paying them fifty dollars a week even on weeks when they didn't perform, he'd been doing so without a formal contract, in part because the group didn't trust him much. But now they were starting to get interest from record labels, and in particular RCA Records desperately wanted them. While RCA had been the label who had signed Elvis Presley, they had otherwise largely ignored rock and roll, considering that since they had the biggest rock star in the world they didn't need other ones, and concentrating largely on middle-of-the-road acts. But by the mid-sixties Elvis' star had faded somewhat, and they were desperate to get some of the action for the new music -- and unlike the other major American labels, they didn't have a reciprocal arrangement with a British label that allowed them to release anything by any of the new British stars. The group were introduced to RCA by Rod McKuen, a songwriter and poet who later became America's best-selling poet and wrote songs that sold over a hundred million copies. At this point McKuen was in his Jacques Brel phase, recording loose translations of the Belgian songwriter's songs with McKuen translating the lyrics: [Excerpt: Rod McKuen, "Seasons in the Sun"] McKuen thought that Jefferson Airplane might be a useful market for his own songs, and brought the group to RCA. RCA offered Jefferson Airplane twenty-five thousand dollars to sign with them, and Katz convinced the group that RCA wouldn't give them this money without them having signed a management contract with him. Kaukonen, Kantner, Spence, and Balin all signed without much hesitation, but Jack Casady didn't yet sign, as he was the new boy and nobody knew if he was going to be in the band for the long haul. The other person who refused to sign was Signe Anderson. In her case, she had a much better reason for refusing to sign, as unlike the rest of the band she had actually read the contract, and she found it to be extremely worrying. She did eventually back down on the day of the group's first recording session, but she later had the contract renegotiated. Jack Casady also signed the contract right at the start of the first session -- or at least, he thought he'd signed the contract then. He certainly signed *something*, without having read it. But much later, during a court case involving the band's longstanding legal disputes with Katz, it was revealed that the signature on the contract wasn't Casady's, and was badly forged. What he actually *did* sign that day has never been revealed, to him or to anyone else. Katz also signed all the group as songwriters to his own publishing company, telling them that they legally needed to sign with him if they wanted to make records, and also claimed to RCA that he had power of attorney for the band, which they say they never gave him -- though to be fair to Katz, given the band members' habit of signing things without reading or understanding them, it doesn't seem beyond the realms of possibility that they did. The producer chosen for the group's first album was Tommy Oliver, a friend of Katz's who had previously been an arranger on some of Doris Day's records, and whose next major act after finishing the Jefferson Airplane album was Trombones Unlimited, who released records like "Holiday for Trombones": [Excerpt: Trombones Unlimited, "Holiday For Trombones"] The group weren't particularly thrilled with this choice, but were happier with their engineer, Dave Hassinger, who had worked on records like "Satisfaction" by the Rolling Stones, and had a far better understanding of the kind of music the group were making. They spent about three months recording their first album, even while continually being attacked as sellouts. The album is not considered their best work, though it does contain "Blues From an Airplane", a collaboration between Spence and Balin: [Excerpt: Jefferson Airplane, "Blues From an Airplane"] Even before the album came out, though, things were starting to change for the group. Firstly, they started playing bigger venues -- their home base went from being the Matrix club to the Fillmore, a large auditorium run by the promoter Bill Graham. They also started to get an international reputation. The British singer-songwriter Donovan released a track called "The Fat Angel" which namechecked the group: [Excerpt: Donovan, "The Fat Angel"] The group also needed a new drummer. Skip Spence decided to go on holiday to Mexico without telling the rest of the band. There had already been some friction with Spence, as he was very eager to become a guitarist and songwriter, and the band already had three songwriting guitarists and didn't really see why they needed a fourth. They sacked Spence, who went on to form Moby Grape, who were also managed by Katz: [Excerpt: Moby Grape, "Omaha"] For his replacement they brought in Spencer Dryden, who was a Hollywood brat like their friend David Crosby -- in Dryden's case he was Charlie Chaplin's nephew, and his father worked as Chaplin's assistant. The story normally goes that the great session drummer Earl Palmer recommended Dryden to the group, but it's also the case that Dryden had been in a band, the Heartbeats, with Tommy Oliver and the great blues guitarist Roy Buchanan, so it may well be that Oliver had recommended him. Dryden had been primarily a jazz musician, playing with people like the West Coast jazz legend Charles Lloyd, though like most jazzers he would slum it on occasion by playing rock and roll music to pay the bills. But then he'd seen an early performance by the Mothers of Invention, and realised that rock music could have a serious artistic purpose too. He'd joined a band called The Ashes, who had released one single, the Jackie DeShannon song "Is There Anything I Can Do?" in December 1965: [Excerpt: The Ashes, "Is There Anything I Can Do?"] The Ashes split up once Dryden left the group to join Jefferson Airplane, but they soon reformed without him as The Peanut Butter Conspiracy, who hooked up with Gary Usher and released several albums of psychedelic sunshine pop. Dryden played his first gig with the group at a Republican Party event on June the sixth, 1966. But by the time Dryden had joined, other problems had become apparent. The group were already feeling like it had been a big mistake to accede to Katz's demands to sign a formal contract with him, and Balin in particular was getting annoyed that he wouldn't let the band see their finances. All the money was getting paid to Katz, who then doled out money to the band when they asked for it, and they had no idea if he was actually paying them what they were owed or not. The group's first album, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, finally came out in September, and it was a comparative flop. It sold well in San Francisco itself, selling around ten thousand copies in the area, but sold basically nothing anywhere else in the country -- the group's local reputation hadn't extended outside their own immediate scene. It didn't help that the album was pulled and reissued, as RCA censored the initial version of the album because of objections to the lyrics. The song "Runnin' Round This World" was pulled off the album altogether for containing the word "trips", while in "Let Me In" they had to rerecord two lines -- “I gotta get in, you know where" was altered to "You shut the door now it ain't fair" and "Don't tell me you want money" became "Don't tell me it's so funny". Similarly in "Run Around" the phrase "as you lay under me" became "as you stay here by me". Things were also becoming difficult for Anderson. She had had a baby in May and was not only unhappy with having to tour while she had a small child, she was also the band member who was most vocally opposed to Katz. Added to that, her husband did not get on well at all with the group, and she felt trapped between her marriage and her bandmates. Reports differ as to whether she quit the band or was fired, but after a disastrous appearance at the Monterey Jazz Festival, one way or another she was out of the band. Her replacement was already waiting in the wings. Grace Slick, the lead singer of the Great Society, had been inspired by going to one of the early Jefferson Airplane gigs. She later said "I went to see Jefferson Airplane at the Matrix, and they were making more money in a day than I made in a week. They only worked for two or three hours a night, and they got to hang out. I thought 'This looks a lot better than what I'm doing.' I knew I could more or less carry a tune, and I figured if they could do it I could." She was married at the time to a film student named Jerry Slick, and indeed she had done the music for his final project at film school, a film called "Everybody Hits Their Brother Once", which sadly I can't find online. She was also having an affair with Jerry's brother Darby, though as the Slicks were in an open marriage this wasn't particularly untoward. The three of them, with a couple of other musicians, had formed The Great Society, named as a joke about President Johnson's programme of the same name. The Great Society was the name Johnson had given to his whole programme of domestic reforms, including civil rights for Black people, the creation of Medicare and Medicaid, the creation of the National Endowment for the Arts, and more. While those projects were broadly popular among the younger generation, Johnson's escalation of the war in Vietnam had made him so personally unpopular that even his progressive domestic programme was regarded with suspicion and contempt. The Great Society had set themselves up as local rivals to Jefferson Airplane -- where Jefferson Airplane had buttons saying "Jefferson Airplane Loves You!" the Great Society put out buttons saying "The Great Society Really Doesn't Like You Much At All". They signed to Autumn Records, and recorded a song that Darby Slick had written, titled "Someone to Love" -- though the song would later be retitled "Somebody to Love": [Excerpt: The Great Society, "Someone to Love"] That track was produced by Sly Stone, who at the time was working as a producer for Autumn Records. The Great Society, though, didn't like working with Stone, because he insisted on them doing forty-five takes to try to sound professional, as none of them were particularly competent musicians. Grace Slick later said "Sly could play any instrument known to man. He could have just made the record himself, except for the singers. It was kind of degrading in a way" -- and on another occasion she said that he *did* end up playing all the instruments on the finished record. "Someone to Love" was put out as a promo record, but never released to the general public, and nor were any of the Great Society's other recordings for Autumn Records released. Their contract expired and they were let go, at which point they were about to sign to Mercury Records, but then Darby Slick and another member decided to go off to India for a while. Grace's marriage to Jerry was falling apart, though they would stay legally married for several years, and the Great Society looked like it was at an end, so when Grace got the offer to join Jefferson Airplane to replace Signe Anderson, she jumped at the chance. At first, she was purely a harmony singer -- she didn't take over any of the lead vocal parts that Anderson had previously sung, as she had a very different vocal style, and instead she just sang the harmony parts that Anderson had sung on songs with other lead vocalists. But two months after the album they were back in the studio again, recording their second album, and Slick sang lead on several songs there. As well as the new lineup, there was another important change in the studio. They were still working with Dave Hassinger, but they had a new producer, Rick Jarrard. Jarrard was at one point a member of the folk group The Wellingtons, who did the theme tune for "Gilligan's Island", though I can't find anything to say whether or not he was in the group when they recorded that track: [Excerpt: The Wellingtons, "The Ballad of Gilligan's Island"] Jarrard had also been in the similar folk group The Greenwood County Singers, where as we heard in the episode on "Heroes and Villains" he replaced Van Dyke Parks. He'd also released a few singles under his own name, including a version of Parks' "High Coin": [Excerpt: Rick Jarrard, "High Coin"] While Jarrard had similar musical roots to those of Jefferson Airplane's members, and would go on to produce records by people like Harry Nilsson and The Family Tree, he wasn't any more liked by the band than their previous producer had been. So much so, that a few of the band members have claimed that while Jarrard is the credited producer, much of the work that one would normally expect to be done by a producer was actually done by their friend Jerry Garcia, who according to the band members gave them a lot of arranging and structural advice, and was present in the studio and played guitar on several tracks. Jarrard, on the other hand, said categorically "I never met Jerry Garcia. I produced that album from start to finish, never heard from Jerry Garcia, never talked to Jerry Garcia. He was not involved creatively on that album at all." According to the band, though, it was Garcia who had the idea of almost doubling the speed of the retitled "Somebody to Love", turning it into an uptempo rocker: [Excerpt: Jefferson Airplane, "Somebody to Love"] And one thing everyone is agreed on is that it was Garcia who came up with the album title, when after listening to some of the recordings he said "That's as surrealistic as a pillow!" It was while they were working on the album that was eventually titled Surrealistic Pillow that they finally broke with Katz as their manager, bringing Bill Thompson in as a temporary replacement. Or at least, it was then that they tried to break with Katz. Katz sued the group over their contract, and won. Then they appealed, and they won. Then Katz appealed the appeal, and the Superior Court insisted that if he wanted to appeal the ruling, he had to put up a bond for the fifty thousand dollars the group said he owed them. He didn't, so in 1970, four years after they sacked him as their manager, the appeal was dismissed. Katz appealed the dismissal, and won that appeal, and the case dragged on for another three years, at which point Katz dragged RCA Records into the lawsuit. As a result of being dragged into the mess, RCA decided to stop paying the group their songwriting royalties from record sales directly, and instead put the money into an escrow account. The claims and counterclaims and appeals *finally* ended in 1987, twenty years after the lawsuits had started and fourteen years after the band had stopped receiving their songwriting royalties. In the end, the group won on almost every point, and finally received one point three million dollars in back royalties and seven hundred thousand dollars in interest that had accrued, while Katz got a small token payment. Early in 1967, when the sessions for Surrealistic Pillow had finished, but before the album was released, Newsweek did a big story on the San Francisco scene, which drew national attention to the bands there, and the first big event of what would come to be called the hippie scene, the Human Be-In, happened in Golden Gate Park in January. As the group's audience was expanding rapidly, they asked Bill Graham to be their manager, as he was the most business-minded of the people around the group. The first single from the album, "My Best Friend", a song written by Skip Spence before he quit the band, came out in January 1967 and had no more success than their earlier recordings had, and didn't make the Hot 100. The album came out in February, and was still no higher than number 137 on the charts in March, when the second single, "Somebody to Love", was released: [Excerpt: Jefferson Airplane, "Somebody to Love"] That entered the charts at the start of April, and by June it had made number five. The single's success also pushed its parent album up to number three by August, just behind the Beatles' Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and the Monkees' Headquarters. The success of the single also led to the group being asked to do commercials for Levis jeans: [Excerpt: Jefferson Airplane, "Levis commercial"] That once again got them accused of selling out. Abbie Hoffman, the leader of the Yippies, wrote to the Village Voice about the commercials, saying "It summarized for me all the doubts I have about the hippie philosophy. I realise they are just doing their 'thing', but while the Jefferson Airplane grooves with its thing, over 100 workers in the Levi Strauss plant on the Tennessee-Georgia border are doing their thing, which consists of being on strike to protest deplorable working conditions." The third single from the album, "White Rabbit", came out on the twenty-fourth of June, the day before the Beatles recorded "All You Need is Love", nine days after the release of "See Emily Play", and a week after the group played the Monterey Pop Festival, to give you some idea of how compressed a time period we've been in recently. We talked in the last episode about how there's a big difference between American and British psychedelia at this point in time, because the political nature of the American counterculture was determined by the fact that so many people were being sent off to die in Vietnam. Of all the San Francisco bands, though, Jefferson Airplane were by far the least political -- they were into the culture part of the counterculture, but would often and repeatedly disavow any deeper political meaning in their songs. In early 1968, for example, in a press conference, they said “Don't ask us anything about politics. We don't know anything about it. And what we did know, we just forgot.” So it's perhaps not surprising that of all the American groups, they were the one that was most similar to the British psychedelic groups in their influences, and in particular their frequent references to children's fantasy literature. "White Rabbit" was a perfect example of this. It had started out as "White Rabbit Blues", a song that Slick had written influenced by Alice in Wonderland, and originally performed by the Great Society: [Excerpt: The Great Society, "White Rabbit"] Slick explained the lyrics, and their association between childhood fantasy stories and drugs, later by saying "It's an interesting song but it didn't do what I wanted it to. What I was trying to say was that between the ages of zero and five the information and the input you get is almost indelible. In other words, once a Catholic, always a Catholic. And the parents read us these books, like Alice in Wonderland where she gets high, tall, and she takes mushrooms, a hookah, pills, alcohol. And then there's The Wizard of Oz, where they fall into a field of poppies and when they wake up they see Oz. And then there's Peter Pan, where if you sprinkle white dust on you, you could fly. And then you wonder why we do it? Well, what did you read to me?" While the lyrical inspiration for the track was from Alice in Wonderland, the musical inspiration is less obvious. Slick has on multiple occasions said that the idea for the music came from listening to Miles Davis' album "Sketches of Spain", and in particular to Davis' version of -- and I apologise for almost certainly mangling the Spanish pronunciation badly here -- "Concierto de Aranjuez", though I see little musical resemblance to it myself. [Excerpt: Miles Davis, "Concierto de Aranjuez"] She has also, though, talked about how the song was influenced by Ravel's "Bolero", and in particular the way the piece keeps building in intensity, starting softly and slowly building up, rather than having the dynamic peaks and troughs of most music. And that is definitely a connection I can hear in the music: [Excerpt: Ravel, "Bolero"] Jefferson Airplane's version of "White Rabbit", like their version of "Somebody to Love", was far more professional, far -- and apologies for the pun -- slicker than The Great Society's version. It's also much shorter. The version by The Great Society has a four and a half minute instrumental intro before Slick's vocal enters. By contrast, the version on Surrealistic Pillow comes in at under two and a half minutes in total, and is a tight pop song: [Excerpt: Jefferson Airplane, "White Rabbit"] Jack Casady has more recently said that the group originally recorded the song more or less as a lark, because they assumed that all the drug references would mean that RCA would make them remove the song from the album -- after all, they'd cut a song from the earlier album because it had a reference to a trip, so how could they possibly allow a song like "White Rabbit" with its lyrics about pills and mushrooms? But it was left on the album, and ended up making the top ten on the pop charts, peaking at number eight: [Excerpt: Jefferson Airplane, "White Rabbit"] In an interview last year, Slick said she still largely lives off the royalties from writing that one song. It would be the last hit single Jefferson Airplane would ever have. Marty Balin later said "Fame changes your life. It's a bit like prison. It ruined the band. Everybody became rich and selfish and self-centred and couldn't care about the band. That was pretty much the end of it all. After that it was just working and living the high life and watching the band destroy itself, living on its laurels." They started work on their third album, After Bathing at Baxter's, in May 1967, while "Somebody to Love" was still climbing the charts. This time, the album was produced by Al Schmitt. Unlike the two previous producers, Schmitt was a fan of the band, and decided the best thing to do was to just let them do their own thing without interfering. The album took months to record, rather than the weeks that Surrealistic Pillow had taken, and cost almost ten times as much money to record. In part the time it took was because of the promotional work the band had to do. Bill Graham was sending them all over the country to perform, which they didn't appreciate. The group complained to Graham in business meetings, saying they wanted to only play in big cities where there were lots of hippies. Graham pointed out in turn that if they wanted to keep having any kind of success, they needed to play places other than San Francisco, LA, New York, and Chicago, because in fact most of the population of the US didn't live in those four cities. They grudgingly took his point. But there were other arguments all the time as well. They argued about whether Graham should be taking his cut from the net or the gross. They argued about Graham trying to push for the next single to be another Grace Slick lead vocal -- they felt like he was trying to make them into just Grace Slick's backing band, while he thought it made sense to follow up two big hits with more singles with the same vocalist. There was also a lawsuit from Balin's former partners in the Matrix, who remembered that bit in the contract about having a share in the group's income and sued for six hundred thousand dollars -- that was settled out of court three years later. And there were interpersonal squabbles too. Some of these were about the music -- Dryden didn't like the fact that Kaukonen's guitar solos were getting longer and longer, and Balin only contributed one song to the new album because all the other band members made fun of him for writing short, poppy, love songs rather than extended psychedelic jams -- but also the group had become basically two rival factions. On one side were Kaukonen and Casady, the old friends and virtuoso instrumentalists, who wanted to extend the instrumental sections of the songs more to show off their playing. On the other side were Grace Slick and Spencer Dryden, the two oldest members of the group by age, but the most recent people to join. They were also unusual in the San Francisco scene for having alcohol as their drug of choice -- drinking was thought of by most of the hippies as being a bit classless, but they were both alcoholics. They were also sleeping together, and generally on the side of shorter, less exploratory, songs. Kantner, who was attracted to Slick, usually ended up siding with her and Dryden, and this left Balin the odd man out in the middle. He later said "I got disgusted with all the ego trips, and the band was so stoned that I couldn't even talk to them. Everybody was in their little shell". While they were still working on the album, they released the first single from it, Kantner's "The Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil". The "Pooneil" in the song was a figure that combined two of Kantner's influences: the Greenwich Village singer-songwriter Fred Neil, the writer of "Everybody's Talkin'" and "Dolphins"; and Winnie the Pooh. The song contained several lines taken from A.A. Milne's children's stories: [Excerpt: Jefferson Airplane, "The Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil"] That only made number forty-two on the charts. It was the last Jefferson Airplane single to make the top fifty. At a gig in Bakersfield they got arrested for inciting a riot, because they encouraged the crowd to dance, even though local by-laws said that nobody under sixteen was allowed to dance, and then they nearly got arrested again after Kantner's behaviour on the private plane they'd chartered to get them back to San Francisco that night. Kantner had been chain-smoking, and this annoyed the pilot, who asked Kantner to put his cigarette out, so Kantner opened the door of the plane mid-flight and threw the lit cigarette out. They'd chartered that plane because they wanted to make sure they got to see a new group, Cream, who were playing the Fillmore: [Excerpt: Cream, "Strange Brew"] After seeing that, the divisions in the band were even wider -- Kaukonen and Casady now *knew* that what the band needed was to do long, extended, instrumental jams. Cream were the future, two-minute pop songs were the past. Though they weren't completely averse to two-minute pop songs. The group were recording at RCA studios at the same time as the Monkees, and members of the two groups would often jam together. The idea of selling out might have been anathema to their *audience*, but the band members themselves didn't care about things like that. Indeed, at one point the group returned from a gig to the mansion they were renting and found squatters had moved in and were using their private pool -- so they shot at the water. The squatters quickly moved on. As Dryden put it "We all -- Paul, Jorma, Grace, and myself -- had guns. We weren't hippies. Hippies were the people that lived on the streets down in Haight-Ashbury. We were basically musicians and art school kids. We were into guns and machinery" After Bathing at Baxter's only went to number seventeen on the charts, not a bad position but a flop compared to their previous album, and Bill Graham in particular took this as more proof that he had been right when for the last few months he'd been attacking the group as self-indulgent. Eventually, Slick and Dryden decided that either Bill Graham was going as their manager, or they were going. Slick even went so far as to try to negotiate a solo deal with Elektra Records -- as the voice on the hits, everyone was telling her she was the only one who mattered anyway. David Anderle, who was working for the label, agreed a deal with her, but Jac Holzman refused to authorise the deal, saying "Judy Collins doesn't get that much money, why should Grace Slick?" The group did fire Graham, and went one further and tried to become his competitors. They teamed up with the Grateful Dead to open a new venue, the Carousel Ballroom, to compete with the Fillmore, but after a few months they realised they were no good at running a venue and sold it to Graham. Graham, who was apparently unhappy with the fact that the people living around the Fillmore were largely Black given that the bands he booked appealed to mostly white audiences, closed the original Fillmore, renamed the Carousel the Fillmore West, and opened up a second venue in New York, the Fillmore East. The divisions in the band were getting worse -- Kaukonen and Casady were taking more and more speed, which was making them play longer and faster instrumental solos whether or not the rest of the band wanted them to, and Dryden, whose hands often bled from trying to play along with them, definitely did not want them to. But the group soldiered on and recorded their fourth album, Crown of Creation. This album contained several songs that were influenced by science fiction novels. The most famous of these was inspired by the right-libertarian author Robert Heinlein, who was hugely influential on the counterculture. Jefferson Airplane's friends the Monkees had already recorded a song based on Heinlein's The Door Into Summer, an unintentionally disturbing novel about a thirty-year-old man who falls in love with a twelve-year-old girl, and who uses a combination of time travel and cryogenic freezing to make their ages closer together so he can marry her: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "The Door Into Summer"] Now Jefferson Airplane were recording a song based on Heinlein's most famous novel, Stranger in a Strange Land. Stranger in a Strange Land has dated badly, thanks to its casual homophobia and rape-apologia, but at the time it was hugely popular in hippie circles for its advocacy of free love and group marriages -- so popular that a religion, the Church of All Worlds, based itself on the book. David Crosby had taken inspiration from it and written "Triad", a song asking two women if they'll enter into a polygamous relationship with him, and recorded it with the Byrds: [Excerpt: The Byrds, "Triad"] But the other members of the Byrds disliked the song, and it was left unreleased for decades. As Crosby was friendly with Jefferson Airplane, and as members of the band were themselves advocates of open relationships, they recorded their own version with Slick singing lead: [Excerpt: Jefferson Airplane, "Triad"] The other song on the album influenced by science fiction was the title track, Paul Kantner's "Crown of Creation". This song was inspired by The Chrysalids, a novel by the British writer John Wyndham. The Chrysalids is one of Wyndham's most influential novels, a post-apocalyptic story about young children who are born with mutant superpowers and have to hide them from their parents as they will be killed if they're discovered. The novel is often thought to have inspired Marvel Comics' X-Men, and while there's an unpleasant eugenic taste to its ending, with the idea that two species can't survive in the same ecological niche and the younger, "superior", species must outcompete the old, that idea also had a lot of influence in the counterculture, as well as being a popular one in science fiction. Kantner's song took whole lines from The Chrysalids, much as he had earlier done with A.A. Milne: [Excerpt: Jefferson Airplane, "Crown of Creation"] The Crown of Creation album was in some ways a return to the more focused songwriting of Surrealistic Pillow, although the sessions weren't without their experiments. Slick and Dryden collaborated with Frank Zappa and members of the Mothers of Invention on an avant-garde track called "Would You Like a Snack?" (not the same song as the later Zappa song of the same name) which was intended for the album, though went unreleased until a CD box set decades later: [Excerpt: Grace Slick and Frank Zappa, "Would You Like a Snack?"] But the finished album was generally considered less self-indulgent than After Bathing at Baxter's, and did better on the charts as a result. It reached number six, becoming their second and last top ten album, helped by the group's appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in September 1968, a month after it came out. That appearance was actually organised by Colonel Tom Parker, who suggested them to Sullivan as a favour to RCA Records. But another TV appearance at the time was less successful. They appeared on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, one of the most popular TV shows among the young, hip, audience that the group needed to appeal to, but Slick appeared in blackface. She's later said that there was no political intent behind this, and that she was just trying the different makeup she found in the dressing room as a purely aesthetic thing, but that doesn't really explain the Black power salute she gives at one point. Slick was increasingly obnoxious on stage, as her drinking was getting worse and her relationship with Dryden was starting to break down. Just before the Smothers Brothers appearance she was accused at a benefit for the Whitney Museum of having called the audience "filthy Jews", though she has always said that what she actually said was "filthy jewels", and she was talking about the ostentatious jewellery some of the audience were wearing. The group struggled through a performance at Altamont -- an event we will talk about in a future episode, so I won't go into it here, except to say that it was a horrifying experience for everyone involved -- and performed at Woodstock, before releasing their fifth studio album, Volunteers, in 1969: [Excerpt: Jefferson Airplane, "Volunteers"] That album made the top twenty, but was the last album by the classic lineup of the band. By this point Spencer Dryden and Grace Slick had broken up, with Slick starting to date Kantner, and Dryden was also disappointed at the group's musical direction, and left. Balin also left, feeling sidelined in the group. They released several more albums with varying lineups, including at various points their old friend David Frieberg of Quicksilver Messenger Service, the violinist Papa John Creach, and the former drummer of the Turtles, Johnny Barbata. But as of 1970 the group's members had already started working on two side projects -- an acoustic band called Hot Tuna, led by Kaukonen and Casady, which sometimes also featured Balin, and a project called Paul Kantner's Jefferson Starship, which also featured Slick and had recorded an album, Blows Against the Empire, the second side of which was based on the Robert Heinlein novel Back to Methuselah, and which became one of the first albums ever nominated for science fiction's Hugo Awards: [Excerpt: Jefferson Starship, "Have You Seen The Stars Tonite"] That album featured contributions from David Crosby and members of the Grateful Dead, as well as Casady on two tracks, but in 1974 when Kaukonen and Casady quit Jefferson Airplane to make Hot Tuna their full-time band, Kantner, Slick, and Frieberg turned Jefferson Starship into a full band. Over the next decade, Jefferson Starship had a lot of moderate-sized hits, with a varying lineup that at one time or another saw several members, including Slick, go and return, and saw Marty Balin back with them for a while. In 1984, Kantner left the group, and sued them to stop them using the Jefferson Starship name. A settlement was reached in which none of Kantner, Slick, Kaukonen, or Casady could use the words "Jefferson" or "Airplane" in their band-names without the permission of all the others, and the remaining members of Jefferson Starship renamed their band just Starship -- and had three number one singles in the late eighties with Slick on lead, becoming far more commercially successful than their precursor bands had ever been: [Excerpt: Starship, "We Built This City on Rock & Roll"] Slick left Starship in 1989, and there was a brief Jefferson Airplane reunion tour, with all the classic members but Dryden, but then Slick decided that she was getting too old to perform rock and roll music, and decided to retire from music and become a painter, something she's stuck to for more than thirty years. Kantner and Balin formed a new Jefferson Starship, called Jefferson Starship: The Next Generation, but Kantner died in January 2016, coincidentally on the same day as Signe Anderson, who had occasionally guested with her old bandmates in the new version of the band. Balin, who had quit the reunited Jefferson Starship due to health reasons, died two years later. Dryden had died in 2005. Currently, there are three bands touring that descend directly from Jefferson Airplane. Hot Tuna still continue to perform, there's a version of Starship that tours featuring one original member, Mickey Thomas, and the reunited Jefferson Starship still tour, led by David Frieberg. Grace Slick has given the latter group her blessing, and even co-wrote one song on their most recent album, released in 2020, though she still doesn't perform any more. Jefferson Airplane's period in the commercial spotlight was brief -- they had charting singles for only a matter of months, and while they had top twenty albums for a few years after their peak, they really only mattered to the wider world during that brief period of the Summer of Love. But precisely because their period of success was so short, their music is indelibly associated with that time. To this day there's nothing as evocative of summer 1967 as "White Rabbit", even for those of us who weren't born then. And while Grace Slick had her problems, as I've made very clear in this episode, she inspired a whole generation of women who went on to be singers themselves, as one of the first prominent women to sing lead with an electric rock band. And when she got tired of doing that, she stopped, and got on with her other artistic pursuits, without feeling the need to go back and revisit the past for ever diminishing returns. One might only wish that some of her male peers had followed her example.
"Two Trains Running" - From The Blues Project Album "Projections"STEVE KATZ: It was Danny's tribute to Muddy Waters. Danny lived for Muddy Waters, which is sort of understandable given how wonderful, how monumental Muddy and some of his songs were. And that was one of his most monumental songs.AL KOOPER: We started playing it and as we became a better band it became a better arrangement. And there were amazing things in it. It was a really great arrangement. It's nothing like the Muddy Waters version.DANNY KALB: It's one of the great things done by any blues band there is, white or black. And we're going through it and it's powerful, it's like a rock opera but short. And it's Muddy Waters. But it's also us. And it's also showing that America was going down the road through music and a lot of other things of integration. The music was making people take a second look at the hatred.AL KOOPER: What's really funny is on the version that's on the album, Danny's string went out of tune and as part of the arrangement he tuned it back up. It was fabulous, we didn't have to stop. Normally you would stop. But he made it part of the arrangement. That was a great moment.DANNY KALB: We were up there in the studio and there's magic in the air. We were right before the end and I hit one bad note, but I quickly made the bad note into a good note in a quarter of a second. And the thing comes together and ends right and we've got a masterpiece.STEVE KATZ: There was no creativity on the engineers. They were busy setting up for Eric Burdon. They probably were bringing in microphones while we were doing our take.DANNY KALB: I'd been playing it for a long time. I was a folk guitarist and a blues guitarist. I studied with the great Dave Van Ronk, he was my teacher. Dave was one of the greatest. A great blues singer, a great teacher and a great soul. He died a few years ago. He changed my life, he changed [Bob] Dylan's life. We always gave tribute to our mentors. When we played on the same bill as Muddy Waters, who was our hero, a top man, we did "Two Trains Running." After the show, his band was packing up, the show was over and I was packing up and I saw Muddy leaving the Café au Go Go and I had to find out, in my deepest part, what he thought of our version of this tune that started out in the South many years ago, before he recorded it with any electric band. And these strange white people were doing this song. What was that about? So right before Muddy opened the door to go, I went up to Muddy Waters and I said to him, "Mr. Waters -- well, what did you think?" And I knew at that point that he knew what I was asking him. And he said to me, "You really got to me." If I had died then, it would have been enough.
"Ain't it foggy outside, All the planes have been groundedAin't the fire inside? Let's all go stand around itFunny, I've been there, and you've been hereAnd we ain't had no time to drink that beerI understand you've been running from the manThat goes by the name of the Sandman"Please stop running and join me for the Saturday Edition of "Whole 'Nuther Thing on KXFM 104.7. Joining us this afternoon are The Blue Do;phins, Blues Project, Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell, The Verve, Crosby Stills & Nash, Roxy Music, Seatrain, McKendree Spring, Blood Sweat & Tears, Heart, Ian Matthews, Youngbloods, Van Morrison, Hot Tuna, Crowded House, Jackson Browne, Chicago, Jefferson Airplane & America.
Today's program features tuneage from Counting Crows, The Guess Who, Chicago, The Doors, Dada, Procol Harum, Roxy Music, Love, Blues Project, BoDeans, Colwell Winfield Blues Band, Simple Minds, Colosseum, Moody Blues, Tears For Fears, Police, Radiohead, Dire Straits & Free.
"Sailors fighting in the dance hallOh man!Look at those cavemen go, It's the freakiest showTake a look at the lawman, Beating up the wrong guyOh man!Wonder if he'll ever know, He's in the best-selling showIs there life on Mars?"Let's find out together, shall we?It's my 4th Anniversary on 885 The SoCal Sound after 18 years on our sister station, Jazz FM KSBR.Joing us are The Blues Project, Savoy Brown, Alan Parsons Project, Badfinger, Genesis, Spanky & Our Gang, Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, It's A Beautiful Day, Little River Band, Foghsat, Steely Dan, Sly & The Family Stone, Three Dog Night, Seatrain, Paul Winter Consort, Todd Rundgren, Bachman Turner Overdrive and David Bowie.
1) I Can't Keep From Crying Sometimes- Al Kooper 2) It Wouldn't Happen With Me – Johnny Rivers 3) Come See About Me- Mitch Ryder 4) You Don't Know- Eliie Greenwich 5) Bring It With You When You Come- Siegel / Schwall Band 6) Goodnight Baby- The Butterflies 7) One Last Dance For The Melody – Johnny Rivers 8) Taking All I Can Get – Mitch Ryder 9) Mean Old Southern- Blues Project 10) Racing In The Street- (Unreleased 1978 Alternate Version )- Bruce Springsteen 11) Baby I Love You- The Ramones 12) Late John Garfield Blues- Live- John Prine 13) Sylvia's Mother- Dr. Hook and His Medicine Show 14) Shaking With Linda – Mitch Ryder 15) I Have A Boyfriend- The Chiffons 16) Rosalie's Good Eats Cafe 16) Jesus Is A Soul Man- Johnny Rivers 17) Out In The Streets- The Shangri-las 18) Bossa Nova Baby- Elvis 19) What A Guy- The Raindrops 20) Two Trains Running – Blues Project With Danny Kalb Vocal and legendary Guitar Performance 21) I Get The Blues When It Rains – Jerry Lee Lewis 22) I'll Never Learn- The Shangri-las 23) The End Is Not In Sight – The Late, Great Russell Smith of The Amazing Rhythm Aces 24) Please Let Me Go Round Again- John Prine and Swamp Dogg
In this eighth episode of Black 'n' White 'n' Rock 'n' Roll we look again at the Blues Project and ponder upon Jews in blues, plus Jimmy Reed, John Lee Hooker and then Danny Kalb.
We talk about Wake Me Shake Me at Monterrey Pop, and the best version by the Blues Project, and a nice tribute to Danny Kalb. After each question, Nilly the Dog chimes in.
"CAPTAIN BILLY’S MAGIC 8 BALL" - "THE ZELIG OF ROCK AND ROLL" - "AL'S BIG DEAL" FEATURING THE ALBUM "AL'S BIG DEAL" WITH AL KOOPER IN HIGH DEF WITH NARRATIVE - EPISODE # 63 -THE CAPTAIN EXPLORES HIS COVE OF 8 TRACKS!
Legend has it that this fine old folk song was born among the roustabouts who loaded and unloaded steamboats on the Ohio River at the turn of the last century. Hundreds of contemporary versions of “Alberta, Let Your Hair Hang Low” exist, including one by The Blues Project and another by Bob Dylan. Decades earlier, the great Lead Belly recorded four different versions of the song between 1935 and 1948.But the very first trace of the song was collected at an unknown date by Kentucky-born musicologist Mary Guthrie Wheeler. In the 1930s, while teaching at Paducah Junior College, Wheeler began to document and study the songs of the former roustabouts who worked on the Ohio, Cumberland, Mississippi and Tennessee rivers. She published “Alberta” in 1944 in her book “Steamboatin' Days: Folk Songs of the River Packet Era.”“It was late in the afternoon when I reached the street on which Gabriel Hester lived,” Wheeler recorded in that book. Neighbors who sat fanning themselves on small porches directed the writer to Gabe's house, where she was invited to wait for him. “Bless the Lord, honey,” his wife said, “he don't never mind singing, and he just loves to play on the box.”Moments later, when he arrived, “the old man obligingly … touched the guitar strings with gifted, untrained fingers, (and) sang the lovely melody of 'Alberta, Let Yo' Hair Hang Low'.”Hester also told Wheeler that music of all kinds was central to the lives of riverboat roustabouts when he worked on the Ohio. They always sang when they were working, he said, remembering how the passengers liked hearing songs in the evenings and usually dropped coins down from the upper decks when music came up to them from below. Our Take on the TuneA fresh set of ears — especially if they're as attuned as Veezy Coffman's — can hear something new in something old. Just listen to all the new opportunities that Veezy's tenor sax finds in this dusty old folk melody. And then listen to how that inspires Dan Cox and Sam St. Clair to new exploration in their own solos.From the Vault— A few months after this podcast, Pamela shot a video of a performance of the tune at a mid-August 2022 rehearsal. Want to see it? Click here.— Or if you'd like turn your time machine in the other direction, Alberta made an appearance on our 2002 album, The Flood Plays Up a Storm. Click here to hear that track. This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit 1937flood.substack.com
Today's program features tuneage from Miles Davis, The Blues Project, Janis Joplin, Stevie Wonder, Steve Winwood, Doors, James Gang, Spooky Tooth, Nina Simone, Style Council, Buffalo Springfield, Donovan, Blind Faith, Eric Burdon & The Animals, Led Zeppelin, Traffic and King Crimson.
We ramble from remembering Bobby Neuwirth to hanging with Dylan at Woodstock, to the great cow encounter on the road with the Blues Project. At the end, Nilly the Dog adds a brief canine summation.
We hear listener question and appreciations about getting Al's CDs, an Al documentary, the Blues Project at Town Hall, and Child is Father to the Man. After each answer from Al, Nilly the Dog adds a brief comment of her own.
Playlist » parcours musical de Al Kooper » 1- Super session: Stop ( Bloomfield, Kooper and Stills) 2- Al Kooper: Can’t keep from crying sometimes 3-Blues Project: i Can’t keep from crying sometimes 4-Blood sweat and tears: I Can’t quit her... Continue Reading →
Al talks about three nights at the Bottom Line in 1994 that were recorded to make the album, with members of Blood Sweat and Tears, members of The Blues Project, and Al's current band at the time, the Rekooperators. Al talks about Jimmy Vivino on Piano, sax master Fred Lipsius, Jerry Douglas on Dobro, John Simon on Piano, about Andy Kulberg and Flute Thing.
A History Of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs
Episode 143 of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at “Summer in the City'”, and at the short but productive career of the Lovin' Spoonful. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode. Patreon backers also have a ten-minute bonus episode available, on "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Any More" by the Walker Brothers and the strange career of Scott Walker. Tilt Araiza has assisted invaluably by doing a first-pass edit, and will hopefully be doing so from now on. Check out Tilt's irregular podcasts at http://www.podnose.com/jaffa-cakes-for-proust and http://sitcomclub.com/ Resources As usual, all the songs excerpted in the podcast can be heard in full at Mixcloud. This box set contains all four studio albums by the Lovin' Spoonful, plus the one album by "The Lovin' Spoonful featuring Joe Butler", while this CD contains their two film soundtracks (mostly inessential instrumental filler, apart from "Darling Be Home Soon") Information about harmonicas and harmonicists comes from Harmonicas, Harps, and Heavy Breathers by Kim Field. There are only three books about the Lovin' Spoonful, but all are worth reading. Do You Believe in Magic? by Simon Wordsworth is a good biography of the band, while his The Magic's in the Music is a scrapbook of press cuttings and reminiscences. Meanwhile Steve Boone's Hotter Than a Match Head: My Life on the Run with the Lovin' Spoonful has rather more discussion of the actual music than is normal in a musician's autobiography. Patreon This podcast is brought to you by the generosity of my backers on Patreon. Why not join them? Transcript Let's talk about the harmonica for a while. The harmonica is an instrument that has not shown up a huge amount in the podcast, but which was used in a fair bit of the music we've covered. We've heard it for example on records by Bo Diddley: [Excerpt: Bo Diddley, "I'm a Man"] and by Bob Dylan: [Excerpt: Bob Dylan, "Blowin' in the Wind"] and the Rolling Stones: [Excerpt: The Rolling Stones, "Little Red Rooster"] In most folk and blues contexts, the harmonicas used are what is known as a diatonic harmonica, and these are what most people think of when they think of harmonicas at all. Diatonic harmonicas have the notes of a single key in them, and if you want to play a note in another key, you have to do interesting tricks with the shape of your mouth to bend the note. There's another type of harmonica, though, the chromatic harmonica. We've heard that a time or two as well, like on "Love Me Do" by the Beatles: [Excerpt: The Beatles, "Love Me Do"] Chromatic harmonicas have sixteen holes, rather than the diatonic harmonica's ten, and they also have a slide which you can press to raise the note by a semitone, meaning you can play far more notes than on a diatonic harmonica -- but they're also physically harder to play, requiring a different kind of breathing to pull off playing one successfully. They're so different that John Lennon would distinguish between the two instruments -- he'd describe a chromatic harmonica as a harmonica, but a diatonic harmonica he would call a harp, like blues musicians often did: [Excerpt: The Beatles, "Love These Goon Shows"] While the chromatic harmonica isn't a particularly popular instrument in rock music, it is one that has had some success in other fields. There have been some jazz and light-orchestral musicians who have become famous playing the instrument, like the jazz musician Max Geldray, who played in those Goon Shows the Beatles loved so much: [Excerpt: Max Geldray, "C-Jam Blues"] And in the middle of the twentieth century there were a few musicians who succeeded in making the harmonica into an instrument that was actually respected in serious classical music. By far the most famous of these was Larry Adler, who became almost synonymous with the instrument in the popular consciousness, and who reworked many famous pieces of music for the instrument: [Excerpt: Larry Adler, "Rhapsody in Blue"] But while Adler was the most famous classical harmonicist of his generation, he was not generally considered the best by other musicians. That was, rather, a man named John Sebastian. Sebastian, who chose to take his middle name as a surname partly to Anglicise his name but also, it seems, at least in part as tribute to Johann Sebastian Bach (which incidentally now makes it really, really difficult to search for copies of his masterwork "John Sebastian Plays Bach", as Internet searches uniformly think you're searching just for the composer...) started out like almost all harmonica players as an amateur playing popular music. But he quickly got very, very, good, and by his teens he was already teaching other children, including at a summer camp run by Albert Hoxie, a musician and entrepreneur who was basically single-handedly responsible for the boom in harmonica sales in the 1920s and 1930s, by starting up youth harmonica orchestras -- dozens or even hundreds of kids, all playing harmonica together, in a semi-militaristic youth organisation something like the scouts, but with harmonicas instead of woggles and knots. Hoxie's group and the various organisations copying it led to there being over a hundred and fifty harmonica orchestras in Chicago alone, and in LA in the twenties and thirties a total of more than a hundred thousand children passed through harmonica orchestras inspired by Hoxie. Hoxie's youth orchestras were largely responsible for the popularity of the harmonica as a cheap instrument for young people, and thus for its later popularity in the folk and blues worlds. That was only boosted in the Second World War by the American Federation of Musicians recording ban, which we talked about in the early episodes of the podcast -- harmonicas had never been thought of as a serious instrument, and so most professional harmonica players were not members of the AFM, but were considered variety performers and were part of the American Guild of Variety Artists, along with singers, ukulele players, and musical saw players. Of course, the war did also create a problem, because the best harmonicas were made in Germany by the Hohner company, but soon a lot of American companies started making cheap harmonicas to fill the gap in the market. There's a reason the cliche of the GI in a war film playing a harmonica in the trenches exists, and it's largely because of Hoxie. And Hoxie was based in Philadelphia, where John Sebastian lived as a kid, and he mentored the young player, who soon became a semi-professional performer. Sebastian's father was a rich banker, and discouraged him from becoming a full-time musician -- the plan was that after university, Sebastian would become a diplomat. But as part of his preparation for that role, he was sent to spend a couple of years studying at the universities of Rome and Florence, learning about Italian culture. On the boat back, though, he started talking to two other passengers, who turned out to be the legendary Broadway songwriting team Rodgers and Hart, the writers of such classic songs as "Blue Moon" and "My Funny Valentine": [Excerpt: Ella Fitzgerald, "My Funny Valentine"] Sebastian talked to his new friends, and told them that he was feeling torn between being a musician and being in the foreign service like his father wanted. They both told him that in their experience some people were just born to be artists, and that those people would never actually find happiness doing anything else. He took their advice, and decided he was going to become a full-time harmonica player. He started out playing in nightclubs, initially playing jazz and swing, but only while he built up a repertoire of classical music. He would rehearse with a pianist for three hours every day, and would spend the rest of his time finding classical works, especially baroque ones, and adapting them for the harmonica. As he later said “I discovered sonatas by Telemann, Veracini, Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, Hasse, Marcello, Purcell, and many others, which were written to be played on violin, flute, oboe, musette, even bagpipes... The composer seemed to be challenging each instrument to create the embellishments and ornaments to suit its particular voice. . . . I set about choosing works from this treasure trove that would best speak through my instrument.” Soon his nightclub repertoire was made up entirely of these classical pieces, and he was making records like John Sebastian Plays Bach: [Excerpt: John Sebastian, "Flute Sonata in B Minor BWV1030 (J.S. Bach)"] And while Sebastian was largely a lover of baroque music above all other forms, he realised that he would have to persuade new composers to write new pieces for the instrument should he ever hope for it to have any kind of reputation as a concert instrument, so he persuaded contemporary composers to write pieces like George Kleinsinger's "Street Corner Concerto", which Sebastian premiered with the New York Philharmonic: [Excerpt: John Sebastian, "Street Corner Concerto"] He became the first harmonica player to play an entirely classical repertoire, and regarded as the greatest player of his instrument in the world. The oboe player Jay S Harrison once wrote of seeing him perform "to accomplish with success a program of Mr. Sebastian's scope is nothing short of wizardry. . . . He has vast technical facility, a bulging range of colors, and his intentions are ever musical and sophisticated. In his hands the harmonica is no toy, no simple gadget for the dispensing of homespun tunes. Each single number of the evening was whittled, rounded, polished, and poised. . . . Mr. Sebastian's playing is uncanny." Sebastian came from a rich background, and he managed to earn enough as a classical musician to live the lifestyle of a rich artistic Bohemian. During the forties and fifties he lived in Greenwich Village with his family -- apart from a four-year period living in Rome from 1951 to 55 -- and Eleanor Roosevelt was a neighbour, while Vivian Vance, who played Ethel Mertz on I Love Lucy, was the godmother of his eldest son. But while Sebastian's playing was entirely classical, he was interested in a wider variety of music. When he would tour Europe, he would often return having learned European folk songs, and while he was living in Greenwich Village he would often be visited by people like Burl Ives, Woody Guthrie, and other folk singers living in the area. And that early influence rubbed off on Sebastian's son, John Benson Sebastian, although young John gave up trying to learn the harmonica the first time he tried, because he didn't want to be following too closely in his father's footsteps. Sebastian junior did, though, take up the guitar, inspired by the first wave rock and rollers he was listening to on Alan Freed's show, and he would later play the harmonica, though the diatonic harmonica rather than the chromatic. In case you haven't already figured it out, John Benson Sebastian, rather than his father, is a principal focus of this episode, and so to avoid confusion, from this point on, when I refer to "John Sebastian" or "Sebastian" without any qualifiers, I'm referring to the younger man. When I refer to "John Sebastian Sr" I'm talking about the father. But it was John Sebastian Sr's connections, in particular to the Bohemian folk and blues scenes, which gave his more famous son his first connection to that world of his own, when Sebastian Sr appeared in a TV show, in November 1960, put together by Robert Herridge, a TV writer and producer who was most famous for his drama series but who had also put together documentaries on both classical music and jazz, including the classic performance documentary The Sound of Jazz. Herridge's show featured both Sebastian Sr and the country-blues player Lightnin' Hopkins: [Excerpt: Lightnin' Hopkins, "Blues in the Bottle"] Hopkins was one of many country-blues players whose career was having a second wind after his discovery by the folk music scene. He'd been recording for fourteen years, putting out hundreds of records, but had barely performed outside Houston until 1959, when the folkies had picked up on his work, and in October 1960 he had been invited to play Carnegie Hall, performing with Pete Seeger and Joan Baez. Young John Sebastian had come along with his dad to see the TV show be recorded, and had an almost Damascene conversion -- he'd already heard Hopkins' recordings, but had never seen anything like his live performances. He was at that time attending a private boarding school, Blair Academy, and his roommate at the school also had his own apartment, where Sebastian would sometimes stay. Soon Lightnin' Hopkins was staying there as well, as somewhere he could live rent-free while he was in New York. Sebastian started following Hopkins around and learning everything he could, being allowed by the older man to carry his guitar and buy him gin, though the two never became close. But eventually, Hopkins would occasionally allow Sebastian to play with him when he played at people's houses, which he did on occasion. Sebastian became someone that Hopkins trusted enough that when he was performing on a bill with someone else whose accompanist wasn't able to make the gig and Sebastian put himself forward, Hopkins agreed that Sebastian would be a suitable accompanist for the evening. The singer he accompanied that evening was a performer named Valentine Pringle, who was a protege of Harry Belafonte, and who had a similar kind of sound to Paul Robeson. Sebastian soon became Pringle's regular accompanist, and played on his first album, I Hear America Singing, which was also the first record on which the great trumpet player Hugh Masakela played. Sadly, Paul Robeson style vocals were so out of fashion by that point that that album has never, as far as I can tell, been issued in a digital format, and hasn't even been uploaded to YouTube. But this excerpt from a later recording by Pringle should give you some idea of the kind of thing he was doing: [Excerpt: Valentine Pringle, "Go 'Way From My Window"] After these experiences, Sebastian started regularly going to shows at Greenwich Village folk clubs, encouraged by his parents -- he had an advantage over his peers because he'd grown up in the area and had artistic parents, and so he was able to have a great deal of freedom that other people in their teens weren't. In particular, he would always look out for any performances by the great country blues performer Mississippi John Hurt. Hurt had made a few recordings for Okeh records in 1928, including an early version of "Stagger Lee", titled "Stack O'Lee": [Excerpt: Mississippi John Hurt, "Stack O'Lee Blues"] But those records had been unsuccessful, and he'd carried on working on a farm. and not performed other than in his tiny home town of Avalon, Mississippi, for decades. But then in 1952, a couple of his tracks had been included on the Harry Smith Anthology, and as a result he'd come to the attention of the folk and blues scholar community. They'd tried tracking him down, but been unable to until in the early sixties one of them had discovered a track on one of Hurt's records, "Avalon Blues", and in 1963, thirty-five years after he'd recorded six flop singles, Mississippi John Hurt became a minor star, playing the Newport Folk Festival and appearing on the Tonight Show. By this time, Sebastian was a fairly well-known figure in Greenwich Village, and he had become quite a virtuoso on the harmonica himself, and would walk around the city wearing a holster-belt containing harmonicas in a variety of different keys. Sebastian became a huge fan of Hurt, and would go and see him perform whenever Hurt was in New York. He soon found himself first jamming backstage with Hurt, and then performing with him on stage for the last two weeks of a residency. He was particularly impressed with what he called Hurt's positive attitude in his music -- something that Sebastian would emulate in his own songwriting. Sebastian was soon invited to join a jug band, called the Even Dozen Jug Band. Jug band music was a style of music that first became popular in the 1920s, and had many of the same musical elements as the music later known as skiffle. It was played on a mixture of standard musical instruments -- usually portable, "folky" ones like guitar and harmonica -- and improvised homemade instruments, like the spoons, the washboard, and comb and paper. The reason they're called jug bands is because they would involve someone blowing into a jug to make a noise that sounded a bit like a horn -- much like the coffee pot groups we talked about way back in episode six. The music was often hokum music, and incorporated elements of what we'd now call blues, vaudeville, and country music, though at the time those genres were nothing like as distinct as they're considered today: [Excerpt: Cincinnati Jug Band, "Newport Blues"] The Even Dozen Jug Band actually ended up having thirteen members, and it had a rather remarkable lineup. The leader was Stefan Grossman, later regarded as one of the greatest fingerpicking guitarists in America, and someone who will be coming up in other contexts in future episodes I'm sure, and they also featured David Grisman, a mandolin player who would later play with the Grateful Dead among many others; Steve Katz, who would go on to be a founder member of Blood, Sweat and Tears and produce records for Lou Reed; Maria D'Amato, who under her married name Maria Muldaur would go on to have a huge hit with "Midnight at the Oasis"; and Joshua Rifkin, who would later go on to become one of the most important scholars of Bach's music of the latter half of the twentieth century, but who is best known for his recordings of Scott Joplin's piano rags, which more or less single-handedly revived Joplin's music from obscurity and created the ragtime revival of the 1970s: [Excerpt: Joshua Rifkin, "Maple Leaf Rag"] Unfortunately, despite the many talents involved, a band as big as that was uneconomical to keep together, and the Even Dozen Jug Band only played four shows together -- though those four shows were, as Muldaur later remembered, "Carnegie Hall twice, the Hootenanny television show and some church". The group did, though, make an album for Elektra records, produced by Paul Rothchild. Indeed, it was Rothchild who was the impetus for the group forming -- he wanted to produce a record of a jug band, and had told Grossman that if he got one together, he'd record it: [Excerpt: The Even Dozen Jug Band, "On the Road Again"] On that album, Sebastian wasn't actually credited as John Sebastian -- because he was playing harmonica on the album, and his father was such a famous harmonica player, he thought it better if he was credited by his middle name, so he was John Benson for this one album. The Even Dozen Jug Band split up after only a few months, with most of the band more interested in returning to university than becoming professional musicians, but Sebastian remained in touch with Rothchild, as they both shared an interest in the drug culture, and Rothchild started using him on sessions for other artists on Elektra, which was rapidly becoming one of the biggest labels for the nascent counterculture. The first record the two worked together on after the Even Dozen Jug Band was sparked by a casual conversation. Vince Martin and Fred Neil saw Sebastian walking down the street wearing his harmonica holster, and were intrigued and asked him if he played. Soon he and his friend Felix Pappalardi were accompanying Martin and Neil on stage, and the two of them were recording as the duo's accompanists: [Excerpt: Vince Martin and Fred Neil, "Tear Down the Walls"] We've mentioned Neil before, but if you don't remember him, he was one of the people around whom the whole Greenwich Village scene formed -- he was the MC and organiser of bills for many of the folk shows of the time, but he's now best known for writing the songs "Everybody's Talkin'", recorded famously by Harry Nilsson, and "The Dolphins", recorded by Tim Buckley. On the Martin and Neil album, Tear Down The Walls, as well as playing harmonica, Sebastian acted essentially as uncredited co-producer with Rothchild, but Martin and Neil soon stopped recording for Elektra. But in the meantime, Sebastian had met the most important musical collaborator he would ever have, and this is the start of something that will become a minor trend in the next few years, of important musical collaborations happening because of people being introduced by Cass Elliot. Cass Elliot had been a singer in a folk group called the Big 3 -- not the same group as the Merseybeat group -- with Tim Rose, and the man who would be her first husband, Jim Hendricks (not the more famous guitarist of a similar name): [Excerpt: Cass Elliot and the Big 3, "The Banjo Song"] The Big 3 had split up when Elliot and Hendricks had got married, and the two married members had been looking around for other musicians to perform with, when coincidentally another group they knew also split up. The Halifax Three were a Canadian group who had originally started out as The Colonials, with a lineup of Denny Doherty, Pat LaCroix and Richard Byrne. Byrne didn't turn up for a gig, and a homeless guitar player, Zal Yanovsky, who would hang around the club the group were playing at, stepped in. Doherty and LaCroix, much to Yanovsky's objections, insisted he bathe and have a haircut, but soon the newly-renamed Halifax Three were playing Carnegie Hall and recording for Epic Records: [Excerpt: The Halifax Three, "When I First Came to This Island"] But then a plane they were in crash-landed, and the group took that as a sign that they should split up. So they did, and Doherty and Yanovsky continued as a duo, until they hooked up with Hendricks and Elliot and formed a new group, the Mugwumps. A name which may be familiar if you recognise one of the hits of a group that Doherty and Elliot were in later: [Excerpt: The Mamas and the Papas, "Creeque Alley"] But we're skipping ahead a bit there. Cass Elliot was one of those few people in the music industry about whom it is impossible to find anyone with a bad word to say, and she was friendly with basically everyone, and particularly good at matching people up with each other. And on February the 7th 1964, she invited John Sebastian over to watch the Beatles' first performance on the Ed Sullivan Show. Like everyone in America, he was captivated by the performance: [Excerpt: The Beatles, "I Want to Hold Your Hand (live on the Ed Sullivan Show)"] But Yanovsky was also there, and the two played guitar together for a bit, before retreating to opposite sides of the room. And then Elliot spent several hours as a go-between, going to each man and telling him how much the other loved and admired his playing and wanted to play more with him. Sebastian joined the Mugwumps for a while, becoming one of the two main instrumentalists with Yanovsky, as the group pivoted from performing folk music to performing Beatles-inspired rock. But the group's management team, Bob Cavallo and Roy Silver, who weren't particularly musical people, and whose main client was the comedian Bill Cosby, got annoyed at Sebastian, because he and Yanovsky were getting on *too* well musically -- they were trading blues licks on stage, rather than sticking to the rather pedestrian arrangements that the group was meant to be performing -- and so Silver fired Sebastian fired from the group. When the Mugwumps recorded their one album, Sebastian had to sit in the control room while his former bandmates recorded with session musicians, who he thought were nowhere near up to his standard: [Excerpt: The Mugwumps, "Searchin'"] By the time that album was released, the Mugwumps had already split up. Sebastian had continued working as a session musician for Elektra, including playing on the album The Blues Project, which featured white Greenwich Village folk musicians like Eric Von Schmidt, Dave Van Ronk, and Spider John Koerner playing their versions of old blues records, including this track by Geoff Muldaur, which features Sebastian on harmonica and "Bob Landy" on piano -- a fairly blatant pseudonym: [Excerpt: Geoff Muldaur, "Downtown Blues"] Sebastian also played rhythm guitar and harmonica on the demos that became a big part of Tim Hardin's first album -- and his fourth, when the record company released the remaining demos. Sebastian doesn't appear to be on the orchestrated ballads that made Hardin's name -- songs like "Reason to Believe" and "Misty Roses" -- but he is on much of the more blues-oriented material, which while it's not anything like as powerful as Hardin's greatest songs, made up a large part of his repertoire: [Excerpt: Tim Hardin, "Ain't Gonna Do Without"] Erik Jacobsen, the producer of Hardin's records, was impressed enough by Sebastian that he got Sebastian to record lead vocals, for a studio group consisting of Sebastian, Felix Pappalardi, Jerry Yester and Henry Diltz of the Modern Folk Quartet, and a bass singer whose name nobody could later remember. The group, under the name "Pooh and the Heffalumps", recorded two Beach Boys knockoffs, "Lady Godiva" and "Rooty Toot", the latter written by Sebastian, though he would later be embarrassed by it and claim it was by his cousin: [Excerpt: Pooh and the Heffalumps, "Rooty Toot"] After that, Jacobsen became convinced that Sebastian should form a group to exploit his potential as a lead singer and songwriter. By this point, the Mugwumps had split up, and their management team had also split, with Silver taking Bill Cosby and Cavallo taking the Mugwumps, and so Sebastian was able to work with Yanovsky, and the putative group could be managed by Cavallo. But Sebastian and Yanovsky needed a rhythm section. And Erik Jacobsen knew a band that might know some people. Jacobsen was a fan of a Beatles soundalike group called the Sellouts, who were playing Greenwich Village and who were co-managed by Herb Cohen, the manager of the Modern Folk Quartet (who, as we heard a couple of episodes ago, would soon go on to be the manager of the Mothers of Invention). The Sellouts were ultra-professional by the standards of rock groups of the time -- they even had a tape echo machine that they used on stage to give them a unique sound -- and they had cut a couple of tracks with Jacobsen producing, though I've not been able to track down copies of them. Their leader Skip Boone, had started out playing guitar in a band called the Blue Suedes, and had played in 1958 on a record by their lead singer Arthur Osborne: [Excerpt: Arthur Osborne, "Hey Ruby"] Skip Boone's brother Steve in his autobiography says that that was produced by Chet Atkins for RCA, but it was actually released on Brunswick records. In the early sixties, Skip Boone joined a band called the Kingsmen -- not the same one as the band that recorded "Louie Louie" -- playing lead guitar with his brother Steve on rhythm, a singer called Sonny Bottari, a saxophone player named King Charles, bass player Clay Sonier, and drummer Joe Butler. Sometimes Butler would get up front and sing, and then another drummer, Jan Buchner, would sit in in his place. Soon Steve Boone would replace Bonier as the bass player, but the Kingsmen had no success, and split up. From the ashes of the Kingsmen had formed the Sellouts, Skip Boone, Jerry Angus, Marshall O'Connell, and Joe Butler, who had switched from playing "Peppermint Twist" to playing "I Want to Hold Your Hand" in February 1964. Meanwhile Steve Boone went on a trip to Europe before starting at university in New York, where he hooked up again with Butler, and it was Butler who introduced him to Sebastian and Yanovsky. Sebastian and Yanovsky had been going to see the Sellouts at the behest of Jacobsen, and they'd been asking if they knew anyone else who could play that kind of material. Skip Boone had mentioned his little brother, and as soon as they met him, even before they first played together, they knew from his appearance that he would be the right bass player for them. So now they had at least the basis for a band. They hadn't played together, but Erik Jacobsen was an experienced record producer and Cavallo an experienced manager. They just needed to do some rehearsals and get a drummer, and a record contract was more or less guaranteed. Boone suggested Jan Buchner, the backup drummer from the Kingsmen, and he joined them for rehearsals. It was during these early rehearsals that Boone got to play on his first real record, other than some unreleased demos the Kingsmen had made. John Sebastian got a call from that "Bob Landy" we mentioned earlier, asking if he'd play bass on a session. Boone tagged along, because he was a fan, and when Sebastian couldn't get the parts down for some songs, he suggested that Boone, as an actual bass player, take over: [Excerpt: Bob Dylan, "Maggie's Farm"] But the new group needed a name, of course. It was John Sebastian who came up with the name they eventually chose, The Lovin' Spoonful, though Boone was a bit hesitant about it at first, worrying that it might be a reference to heroin -- Boone was from a very conservative, military, background, and knew little of drug culture and didn't at that time make much of a distinction between cannabis and heroin, though he'd started using the former -- but Sebastian was insistent. The phrase actually referred to coffee -- the name came from "Coffee Blues" by Sebastian's old idol Mississippi John Hurt – or at least Hurt always *said* it was about coffee, though in live performance he apparently made it clear that it was about cunnilingus: [Excerpt: Mississippi John Hurt, "Coffee Blues"] Their first show, at the Night Owl Club, was recorded, and there was even an attempt to release it as a CD in the 1990s, but it was left unreleased and as far as I can tell wasn't even leaked. There have been several explanations for this, but perhaps the most accurate one is just the comment from the manager of the club, who came up to the group after their two sets and told them “Hey, I don't know how to break this to you, but you guys suck.” There were apparently three different problems. They were underrehearsed -- which could be fixed with rehearsal -- they were playing too loud and hurting the patrons' ears -- which could be fixed by turning down the amps -- and their drummer didn't look right, was six years older than the rest of the group, and was playing in an out-of-date fifties style that wasn't suitable for the music they were playing. That was solved by sacking Buchner. By this point Joe Butler had left the Sellouts, and while Herb Cohen was interested in managing him as a singer, he was willing to join this new group at least for the moment. By now the group were all more-or-less permanent residents at the Albert Hotel, which was more or less a doss-house where underemployed musicians would stay, and which had its own rehearsal rooms. As well as the Spoonful, Cass Elliot and Denny Doherty lived there, as did the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Joe Butler quickly fit into the group, and soon they were recording what became their first single, produced by Jacobsen, an original of Sebastian's called "Do You Believe in Magic?", with Sebastian on autoharp and vocals, Yanovsky on lead guitar and backing vocals, Boone on bass, Butler on drums, and Jerry Yester adding piano and backing vocals: [Excerpt: The Lovin' Spoonful, "Do You Believe in Magic?"] For a long time, the group couldn't get a deal -- the record companies all liked the song, but said that unless the group were English they couldn't sell them at the moment. Then Phil Spector walked into the Night Owl Cafe, where the new lineup of the group had become popular, and tried to sign them up. But they turned him down -- they wanted Erik Jacobsen to produce them; they were a team. Spector's interest caused other labels to be interested, and the group very nearly signed to Elektra. But again, signing to Elektra would have meant being produced by Rothchild, and also Elektra were an album label who didn't at that time have any hit single acts, and the group knew they had hit single potential. They did record a few tracks for Elektra to stick on a blues compilation, but they knew that Elektra wouldn't be their real home. Eventually the group signed with Charley Koppelman and Don Rubin, who had started out as songwriters themselves, working for Don Kirshner. When Kirshner's organisation had been sold to Columbia, Koppelman and Rubin had gone along and ended up working for Columbia as executives. They'd then worked for Morris Levy at Roulette Records, before forming their own publishing and record company. Rather than put out records themselves, they had a deal to license records to Kama Sutra Records, who in turn had a distribution deal with MGM Records. Koppelman and Rubin were willing to take the group and their manager and producer as a package deal, and they released the group's demo of "Do You Believe In Magic?" unchanged as their first single: [Excerpt: The Lovin' Spoonful, "Do You Believe in Magic?"] The single reached the top ten, and the group were soon in the studio cutting their first album, also titled Do You Believe In Magic? The album was a mix of songs that were part of the standard Greenwich Village folkie repertoire -- songs like Mississippi John Hurt's "Blues in the Bottle" and Fred Neil's "The Other Side of This Life" -- and a couple more originals. The group's second single was the first song that Steve Boone had co-written. It was inspired by a date he'd gone on with the photographer Nurit Wilde, who sadly for him didn't go on a second date, and who would later be the mother of Mike Nesmith's son Jason, but who he was very impressed by. He thought of her when he came up with the line "you didn't have to be so nice, I would have liked you anyway", and he and Sebastian finished up a song that became another top ten hit for the group: [Excerpt: (The Good Time Music of) The Lovin' Spoonful, "You Didn't Have to Be So Nice"] Shortly after that song was recorded, but before it was released, the group were called into Columbia TV with an intriguing proposition. Bert Schneider and Bob Rafelson, two young TV producers, were looking at producing a TV show inspired by A Hard Day's Night, and were looking for a band to perform in it. Would the Lovin' Spoonful be up for it? They were interested at first, but Boone and Sebastian weren't sure they wanted to be actors, and also it would involve the group changing its name. They'd already made a name for themselves as the Lovin' Spoonful, did they really want to be the Monkees instead? They passed on the idea. Instead, they went on a tour of the deep South as the support act to the Supremes, a pairing that they didn't feel made much sense, but which did at least allow them to watch the Supremes and the Funk Brothers every night. Sebastian was inspired by the straight four-on-the-floor beat of the Holland-Dozier-Holland repertoire, and came up with his own variation on it, though as this was the Lovin' Spoonful the end result didn't sound very Motown at all: [Excerpt: The Lovin' Spoonful, "Daydream"] It was only after the track was recorded that Yanovsky pointed out to Sebastian that he'd unconsciously copied part of the melody of the old standard "Got a Date With an Angel": [Excerpt: Al Bowlly, "Got a Date With an Angel"] "Daydream" became the group's third top ten hit in a row, but it caused some problems for the group. The first was Kama Sutra's advertising campaign for the record, which had the words "Lovin' Spoonful Daydream", with the initials emphasised. While the group were drug users, they weren't particularly interested in being promoted for that rather than their music, and had strong words with the label. The other problem came with the Beach Boys. The group were supporting the Beach Boys on a tour in spring of 1966, when "Daydream" came out and became a hit, and they got on with all the band members except Mike Love, who they definitely did not get on with. Almost fifty years later, in his autobiography, Steve Boone would have nothing bad to say about the Wilson brothers, but calls Love "an obnoxious, boorish braggart", a "marginally talented hack" and worse, so it's safe to say that Love wasn't his favourite person in the world. Unfortunately, when "Daydream" hit the top ten, one of the promoters of the tour decided to bill the Lovin' Spoonful above the Beach Boys, and this upset Love, who understandably thought that his group, who were much better known and had much more hits, should be the headliners. If this had been any of the other Beach Boys, there would have been no problem, but because it was Love, who the Lovin' Spoonful despised, they decided that they were going to fight for top billing, and the managers had to get involved. Eventually it was agreed that the two groups would alternate the top spot on the bill for the rest of the tour. "Daydream" eventually reached number two on the charts (and number one on Cashbox) and also became the group's first hit in the UK, reaching number two here as well, and leading to the group playing a short UK tour. During that tour, they had a similar argument over billing with Mick Jagger as they'd had with Mike Love, this time over who was headlining on an appearance on Top of the Pops, and the group came to the same assessment of Jagger as they had of Love. The performance went OK, though, despite them being so stoned on hash given them by the wealthy socialite Tara Browne that Sebastian had to be woken up seconds before he started playing. They also played the Marquee Club -- Boone notes in his autobiography that he wasn't impressed by the club when he went to see it the day before their date there, because some nobody named David Bowie was playing there. But in the audience that day were George Harrison, John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Spencer Davis, and Brian Jones, most of whom partied with the group afterwards. The Lovin' Spoonful made a big impression on Lennon in particular, who put "Daydream" and "Do You Believe in Magic" in his jukebox at home, and who soon took to wearing glasses in the same round, wiry, style as the ones that Sebastian wore. They also influenced Paul McCartney, who wasn't at that gig, but who soon wrote this, inspired by "Daydream": [Excerpt: The Beatles, "Good Day Sunshine"] Unfortunately, this was more or less the high point of the group's career. Shortly after that brief UK tour, Zal Yanovsky and Steve Boone went to a party where they were given some cannabis -- and they were almost immediately stopped by the police, subjected to an illegal search of their vehicle, and arrested. They would probably have been able to get away with this -- after all, it was an illegal search, even though of course the police didn't admit to that -- were it not for the fact that Yanovsky was a Canadian citizen, and he could be deported and barred from ever re-entering the US just for being arrested. This was the first major drug bust of a rock and roll group, and there was no precedent for the group, their managers, their label or their lawyers to deal with this. And so they agreed to something they would regret for the rest of their lives. In return for being let off, Boone and Yanovsky agreed to take an undercover police officer to a party and introduce him to some of their friends as someone they knew in the record business, so he would be able to arrest one of the bigger dealers. This was, of course, something they knew was a despicable thing to do, throwing friends under the bus to save themselves, but they were young men and under a lot of pressure, and they hoped that it wouldn't actually lead to any arrests. And for almost a year, there were no serious consequences, although both Boone and Yanovsky were shaken up by the event, and Yanovsky's behaviour, which had always been erratic, became much, much worse. But for the moment, the group remained very successful. After "Daydream", an album track from their first album, "Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind?" had been released as a stopgap single, and that went to number two as well. And right before the arrest, the group had been working on what would be an even bigger hit. The initial idea for "Summer in the City" actually came from John Sebastian's fourteen-year-old brother Mark, who'd written a bossa nova song called "It's a Different World". The song was, by all accounts, the kind of thing that a fourteen-year-old boy writes, but part of it had potential, and John Sebastian took that part -- giving his brother full credit -- and turned it into the chorus of a new song: [Excerpt: The Lovin' Spoonful, "Summer in the City"] To this, Sebastian added a new verse, inspired by a riff the session player Artie Schroeck had been playing while the group recorded their songs for the Woody Allen film What's Up Tiger Lily, creating a tenser, darker, verse to go with his younger brother's chorus: [Excerpt: The Lovin' Spoonful, "Summer in the City"] In the studio, Steve Boone came up with the instrumental arrangement, which started with drums, organ, electric piano, and guitar, and then proceeded to bass, autoharp, guitar, and percussion overdubs. The drum sound on the record was particularly powerful thanks to the engineer Roy Halee, who worked on most of Simon & Garfunkel's records. Halee put a mic at the top of a stairwell, a giant loudspeaker at the bottom, and used the stairwell as an echo chamber for the drum part. He would later use a similar technique on Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer". The track still needed another section though, and Boone suggested an instrumental part, which led to him getting an equal songwriting credit with the Sebastian brothers. His instrumental piano break was inspired by Gershwin, and the group topped it off with overdubbed city noises: [Excerpt: The Lovin' Spoonful, "Summer in the City"] The track went to number one, becoming the group's only number one record, and it was the last track on what is by far their best album, Hums of the Lovin' Spoonful. That album produced two more top ten hits for the group, "Nashville Cats", a tribute to Nashville session players (though John Sebastian seems to have thought that Sun Records was a Nashville, rather than a Memphis, label), and the rather lovely "Rain on the Roof": [Excerpt: The Lovin' Spoonful, "Rain on the Roof"] But that song caused friction with the group, because it was written about Sebastian's relationship with his wife who the other members of the band despised. They also felt that the songs he was writing about their relationship were giving the group a wimpy image, and wanted to make more rockers like "Summer in the City" -- some of them had been receiving homophobic abuse for making such soft-sounding music. The group were also starting to resent Sebastian for other reasons. In a recent contract renegotiation, a "key member" clause had been put into the group's record contract, which stated that Sebastian, as far as the label was concerned, was the only important member of the group. While that didn't affect decision-making in the group, it did let the group know that if the other members did anything to upset Sebastian, he was able to take his ball away with him, and even just that potential affected the way the group thought about each other. All these factors came into play with a song called "Darling Be Home Soon", which was a soft ballad that Sebastian had written about his wife, and which was written for another film soundtrack -- this time for a film by a new director named Francis Ford Coppola. When the other band members came in to play on the soundtrack, including that track, they found that rather than being allowed to improvise and come up with their own parts as they had previously, they had to play pre-written parts to fit with the orchestration. Yanovsky in particular was annoyed by the simple part he had to play, and when the group appeared on the Ed Sullivan show to promote the record, he mugged, danced erratically, and mimed along mocking the lyrics as Sebastian sang. The song -- one of Sebastian's very best -- made a perfectly respectable number fifteen, but it was the group's first record not to make the top ten: [Excerpt: The Lovin' Spoonful, "Darling Be Home Soon"] And then to make matters worse, the news got out that someone had been arrested as a result of Boone and Yanovsky's efforts to get themselves out of trouble the year before. This was greeted with horror by the counterculture, and soon mimeographed newsletters and articles in the underground papers were calling the group part of the establishment, and calling for a general boycott of the group -- if you bought their records, attended their concerts, or had sex with any of the band members, you were a traitor. Yanovsky and Boone had both been in a bad way mentally since the bust, but Yanovsky was far worse, and was making trouble for the other members in all sorts of ways. The group decided to fire Yanovsky, and brought in Jerry Yester to replace him, giving him a severance package that ironically meant that he ended up seeing more money from the group's records than the rest of them, as their records were later bought up by a variety of shell companies that passed through the hands of Morris Levy among others, and so from the late sixties through the early nineties the group never got any royalties. For a while, this seemed to benefit everyone. Yanovsky had money, and his friendship with the group members was repaired. He released a solo single, arranged by Jack Nitzsche, which just missed the top one hundred: [Excerpt: Zal Yanovsky, "Just as Long as You're Here"] That song was written by the Bonner and Gordon songwriting team who were also writing hits for the Turtles at this time, and who were signed to Koppelman and Rubin's company. The extent to which Yanovsky's friendship with his ex-bandmates was repaired by his firing was shown by the fact that Jerry Yester, his replacement in the group, co-produced his one solo album, Alive and Well in Argentina, an odd mixture of comedy tracks, psychedelia, and tributes to the country music he loved. His instrumental version of Floyd Cramer's "Last Date" is fairly listenable -- Cramer's piano playing was a big influence on Yanovsky's guitar -- but his version of George Jones' "From Brown to Blue" makes it very clear that Zal Yanovsky was no George Jones: [Excerpt: Zal Yanovsky, "From Brown to Blue"] Yanovsky then quit music, and went into the restaurant business. The Lovin' Spoonful, meanwhile, made one further album, but the damage had been done. Everything Playing is actually a solid album, though not as good as the album before, and it produced three top forty hits, but the highest-charting was "Six O'Clock", which only made number eighteen, and the album itself made a pitiful one hundred and eighteen on the charts. The song on the album that in retrospect has had the most impact was the rather lovely "Younger Generation", which Sebastian later sang at Woodstock: [Excerpt: John Sebastian, "Younger Generation (Live at Woodstock)"] But at Woodstock he performed that alone, because by then he'd quit the group. Boone, Butler, and Yester decided to continue, with Butler singing lead, and recorded a single, "Never Going Back", produced by Yester's old bandmate from the Modern Folk Quartet Chip Douglas, who had since become a successful producer for the Monkees and the Turtles, and written by John Stewart of the Kingston Trio, who had written "Daydream Believer" for the Monkees, but the record only made number seventy-eight on the charts: [Excerpt: The Lovin' Spoonful featuring Joe Butler, "Never Going Back"] That was followed by an album by "The Lovin' Spoonful Featuring Joe Butler", Revelation: Revolution 69, a solo album by Butler in all but name -- Boone claims not to have played on it, and Butler is the only one featured on the cover, which shows a naked Butler being chased by a naked woman with a lion in front of them covering the naughty bits. The biggest hit other than "Never Going Back" from the album was "Me About You", a Bonner and Gordon song which only made number ninety-one: [Excerpt: The Lovin' Spoonful Featuring Joe Butler, "Me About You"] John Sebastian went on to have a moderately successful solo career -- as well as his appearance at Woodstock, he released several solo albums, guested on harmonica on records by the Doors, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young and others, and had a solo number one hit in 1976 with "Welcome Back", the theme song from the TV show Welcome Back, Kotter: [Excerpt: John Sebastian, "Welcome Back"] Sebastian continues to perform, though he's had throat problems for several decades that mean he can't sing many of the songs he's best known for. The original members of the Lovin' Spoonful reunited for two performances -- an appearance in Paul Simon's film One Trick Pony in 1980, and a rather disastrous induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. Zal Yanovsky died of a heart attack in 2002. The remaining band members remained friendly, and Boone, Butler, and Yester reunited as the Lovin' Spoonful in 1991, initially with Yester's brother Jim, who had played in The Association, latterly with other members. One of those other members in the 1990s was Yester's daughter Lena, who became Boone's fourth wife (and is as far as I can discover still married to him). Yester, Boone, and Butler continued touring together as the Lovin' Spoonful until 2017, when Jerry Yester was arrested on thirty counts of child pornography possession, and was immediately sacked from the group. The other two carried on, and the three surviving original members reunited on stage for a performance at one of the Wild Honey Orchestra's benefit concerts in LA in 2020, though that was just a one-off performance, not a full-blown reunion. It was also the last Lovin' Spoonful performance to date, as that was in February 2020, but Steve Boone has performed with John Sebastian's most recent project, John Sebastian's Jug Band Village, a tribute to the Greenwich Village folk scene the group originally formed in, and the two played together most recently in December 2021. The three surviving original members of the group all seem to be content with their legacy, doing work they enjoy, and basically friendly, which is more than can be said for most of their contemporaries, and which is perhaps appropriate for a band whose main songwriter had been inspired, more than anything else, to make music with a positive attitude.
Menu is complete for the Saturday Edition of Whole 'Nuther Thing. I'll be serving up tasty morsels from Frank Zappa, The Blues Project, Simply Red, The Kinks, Chicago Transit Authority, The Allman Brothers, Procol Harum, Zombies, Derek & The Dominos, Van Morrison, Derek Trucks Band, Deep Purple, The Searchers, Orleans, The Animals, Renaissance, Rolling Stones and Genesis... The fun starts at 3PM PDT, 6PM EDT. Remember, we go to 5PM and we're portable, just like when we were kids with Apps from Tune In Radio, iHeart Radio and iTunes Mobile, plus our Brand New KXFM app and locally on your Car Radio at 104.7 FM, or online with link below, so there's no excuse for not tuning in. It's "Radio The Way It Ought To Be".
Al talks about an incredibly strange Tom Wilson album, Batman and Robin by The Sensational Guitars of Dan and Dale that involved the Blues Project, and Sun R. Also a question about Albert Grossman, and did Al play on Freebird. As always, after each of Al's answers, Nilly the dog adds a brief comment.
Member of the Even Dozen Jug Band, The Blues Project, Blood Sweat & Tears & American Flyer talks about how lucky he is to still play music for people.
A History Of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs
Episode 134 of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at “In the Midnight Hour", the links between Stax, Atlantic, and Detroit, and the career of Wilson Pickett. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode. Patreon backers also have a fifteen-minute bonus episode available, on "Mercy Mercy" by Don Covay. Tilt Araiza has assisted invaluably by doing a first-pass edit, and will hopefully be doing so from now on. Check out Tilt's irregular podcasts at http://www.podnose.com/jaffa-cakes-for-proust and http://sitcomclub.com/ Errata I say “After Arthur Alexander had moved on to Monument Records” – I meant to say “Dot Records” here, the label that Alexander moved to *before* Monument. I also misspeak at one point and say "keyboard player Chips Moman", when I mean to say "keyboard player Spooner Oldham". This is correct in the transcript/script, I just misread it. Resources No Mixcloud this week, as there are too many songs by Pickett. The main resource I used for the biographical details of Wilson Pickett was In the Midnight Hour: The Life and Soul of Wilson Pickett. Information about Stax comes primarily from two books: Soulsville USA: The Story of Stax by Rob Bowman, and Respect Yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion by Robert Gordon. Country Soul by Charles L Hughes is a great overview of the soul music made in Muscle Shoals, Memphis, and Nashville in the sixties. The episodes of Cocaine and Rhinestones I reference are the ones on Owen Bradley and the Nashville A-Team. And information on the Falcons comes from Marv Goldberg. Pickett's complete Atlantic albums can be found in this excellent ten-CD set. For those who just want the hits, this single-CD compilation is significantly cheaper. Patreon This podcast is brought to you by the generosity of my backers on Patreon. Why not join them? Transcript A quick note before I start, just to say that this episode contains some discussion of domestic abuse, drug use, and abuse of employees by their employer, and one mention of an eating disorder. Also, this episode is much longer than normal, because we've got a lot to fit in. Today we're going to move away from Motown, and have a look at a record recorded in the studios of their great rival Stax records, though not released on that label. But the record we're going to look at is from an artist who was a bridge between the Detroit soul of Motown and the southern soul of Stax, an artist who had a foot in both camps, and whose music helped to define soul while also being closer than that of any other soul man to the music made by the white rock musicians of the period. We're going to look at Stax, and Muscle Shoals, and Atlantic Records, and at Wilson Pickett and "In the Midnight Hour" [Excerpt: Wilson Pickett: "In the Midnight Hour"] Wilson Pickett never really had a chance. His father, Wilson senior, was known in Alabama for making moonshine whisky, and spent time in prison for doing just that -- and his young son was the only person he told the location of his still. Eventually, Wilson senior moved to Detroit to start earning more money, leaving his family at home at first. Wilson junior and his mother moved up to Detroit to be with his father, but they had to leave his older siblings in Alabama, and his mother would shuttle between Michigan and Alabama, trying vainly to look after all her children. Eventually, Wilson's mother got pregnant while she was down in Alabama, which broke up his parents' marriage, and Wilson moved back down to Alabama permanently, to live on a farm with his mother. But he never got on with his mother, who was physically abusive to him -- as he himself would later be to his children, and to his partners, and to his bandmates. The one thing that Wilson did enjoy about his life in Alabama was the gospel music, and he became particularly enamoured of two gospel singers, Archie Brownlee of the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi: [Excerpt: The Mississippi Blind Boys, "Will My Jesus Be Waiting?"] And Julius Cheeks of the Sensational Nightingales: [Excerpt: The Sensational Nightingales, "God's World Will Never Pass Away"] Wilson determined to become a gospel singer himself, but he couldn't stand living with his mother in rural Alabama, and decided to move up to be with his father and his father's new girlfriend in Detroit. Once he moved to Detroit, he started attending Northwestern High School, which at the time was also being attended by Norman Whitfield, Florence Ballard, and Melvin Franklin. Pickett also became friendly with Aretha Franklin, though she didn't attend the same school -- she went to school at Northern, with Smokey Robinson -- and he started attending services at New Bethel Church, the church where her father preached. This was partly because Rev. Franklin was one of the most dynamic preachers around, but also because New Bethel Church would regularly feature performances by the most important gospel performers of the time -- Pickett saw the Soul Stirrers perform there, with Sam Cooke singing lead, and of course also saw Aretha singing there. He joined a few gospel groups, first joining one called the Sons of Zion, but he was soon poached by a more successful group, the Violinaires. It was with the Violinaires that he made what is almost certainly his first recording -- a track that was released as a promo single, but never got a wide release at the time: [Excerpt: The Violinaires, "Sign of the Judgement"] The Violinaires were only moderately successful on the gospel circuit, but Pickett was already sure he was destined for bigger things. He had a rivalry with David Ruffin, in particular, constantly mocking Ruffin and saying that he would never amount to anything, while Wilson Pickett was the greatest. But after a while, he realised that gospel wasn't where he was going to make his mark. Partly his change in direction was motivated by financial concern -- he'd physically attacked his father and been kicked out of his home, and he was also married while still a teenager, and had a kid who needed feeding. But also, he was aware of a certain level of hypocrisy among his more religious acquaintances. Aretha Franklin had two kids, aged only sixteen, and her father, the Reverend Franklin, had fathered a child with a twelve-year-old, was having an affair with the gospel singer Clara Ward, and was hanging around blues clubs all the time. Most importantly, he realised that the audiences he was singing to in church on Sunday morning were mostly still drunk from Saturday night. As he later put it "I might as well be singing rock 'n' roll as singing to a drunken audience. I might as well make me some money." And this is where the Falcons came in. The Falcons were a doo-wop group that had been formed by a Black singer, Eddie Floyd, and a white singer, Bob Manardo. They'd both recruited friends, including bass singer Willie Schofield, and after performing locally they'd decided to travel to Chicago to audition for Mercury Records. When they got there, they found that you couldn't audition for Mercury in Chicago, you had to go to New York, but they somehow persuaded the label to sign them anyway -- in part because an integrated group was an unusual thing. They recorded one single for Mercury, produced by Willie Dixon who was moonlighting from Chess: [Excerpt: The Falcons, "Baby That's It"] But then Manardo was drafted, and the group's other white member, Tom Shetler, decided to join up along with him. The group went through some other lineup changes, and ended up as Eddie Floyd, Willie Schofield, Mack Rice, guitarist Lance Finnie, and lead singer Joe Stubbs, brother of Levi. The group released several singles on small labels owned by their manager, before having a big hit with "You're So Fine", the record we heard about them recording last episode: [Excerpt: The Falcons, "You're So Fine"] That made number two on the R&B charts and number seventeen on the pop charts. They recorded several follow-ups, including "Just For Your Love", which made number 26 on the R&B charts: [Excerpt: The Falcons, "Just For Your Love"] To give you some idea of just how interrelated all the different small R&B labels were at this point, that was originally recorded and released on Chess records. But as Roquel Davis was at that point working for Chess, he managed to get the rights to reissue it on Anna Records, the label he co-owned with the Gordy sisters -- and the re-released record was distributed by Gone Records, one of George Goldner's labels. The group also started to tour supporting Marv Johnson. But Willie Schofield was becoming dissatisfied. He'd written "You're So Fine", but he'd only made $500 from what he was told was a million-selling record. He realised that in the music business, the real money was on the business side, not the music side, so while staying in the Falcons he decided he was going to go into management too. He found the artist he was going to manage while he was walking to his car, and heard somebody in one of the buildings he passed singing Elmore James' then-current blues hit "The Sky is Crying": [Excerpt: Elmore James, "The Sky is Crying"] The person he heard singing that song, and accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, was of course Wilson Pickett, and Schofield signed him up to a management contract -- and Pickett was eager to sign, knowing that Schofield was a successful performer himself. The intention was at first that Schofield would manage Pickett as a solo performer, but then Joe Stubbs got ideas above his station, and started insisting that the group be called "Joe Stubbs and the Falcons", which put the others' backs up, and soon Stubbs was out of the group. This experience may have been something that his brother later had in mind -- in the late sixties, when Motown started trying to promote groups as Lead Singer and The Group, Levi Stubbs always refused to allow his name to go in front of the Four Tops. So the Falcons were without a lead singer. They tried a few other singers in their circle, including Marvin Gaye, but were turned down. So in desperation, they turned to Pickett. This wasn't a great fit -- the group, other than Schofield, thought that Pickett was "too Black", both in that he had too much gospel in his voice, and literally in that he was darker-skinned than the rest of the group (something that Schofield, as someone who was darker than the rest of the group but less dark than Pickett, took offence at). Pickett, in turn, thought that the Falcons were too poppy, and not really the kind of thing he was at all interested in doing. But they were stuck with each other, and had to make the most of it, even though Pickett's early performances were by all accounts fairly dreadful. He apparently came in in the wrong key on at least one occasion, and another time froze up altogether and couldn't sing. Even when he did sing, and in tune, he had no stage presence, and he later said “I would trip up, fall on the stage and the group would rehearse me in the dressing room after every show. I would get mad, ‘cos I wanted to go out and look at the girls as well! They said, ‘No, you got to rehearse, Oscar.' They called me Oscar. I don't know why they called me Oscar, I didn't like that very much.” Soon, Joe Stubbs was back in the group, and there was talk of the group getting rid of Pickett altogether. But then they went into the studio to record a song that Sam Cooke had written for the group, "Pow! You're in Love". The song had been written for Stubbs to sing, but at the last minute they decided to give Pickett the lead instead: [Excerpt: The Falcons, "Pow! You're in Love"] Pickett was now secure as the group's lead singer, but the group weren't having any success with records. They were, though, becoming a phenomenal live act -- so much so that on one tour, where James Brown was the headliner, Brown tried to have the group kicked off the bill, because he felt that Pickett was stealing his thunder. Eventually, the group's manager set up his own record label, Lu Pine Records, which would become best known as the label that released the first record by the Primettes, who later became the Supremes. Lu Pine released the Falcons' single "I Found a Love", after the group's management had first shopped it round to other labels to try to get them to put it out: [Excerpt: The Falcons, "I Found a Love"] That song, based on the old Pentecostal hymn "Yes Lord", was written by Pickett and Schofield, but the group's manager, Robert West, also managed to get his name on the credits. The backing group, the Ohio Untouchables, would later go on to become better known as The Ohio Players. One of the labels that had turned that record down was Atlantic Records, because Jerry Wexler hadn't heard any hit potential in the song. But then the record started to become successful locally, and Wexler realised his mistake. He got Lu Pine to do a distribution deal with Atlantic, giving Atlantic full rights to the record, and it became a top ten R&B hit. But by this point, Pickett was sick of working with the Falcons, and he'd decided to start trying for a solo career. His first solo single was on the small label Correc-Tone, and was co-produced by Robert Bateman, and featured the Funk Brothers as instrumental backing, and the Primettes on vocals. I've seen some claims that the Andantes are on there too, but I can't make them out -- but I can certainly make out the future Supremes: [Excerpt: Wilson Pickett, "Let Me Be Your Boy"] That didn't do anything, and Pickett kept recording with the Falcons for a while, as well as putting out his solo records. But then Willie Schofield got drafted, and the group split up. Their manager hired another group, The Fabulous Playboys, to be a new Falcons group, but in 1964 he got shot in a dispute over the management of Mary Wells, and had to give up working in the music industry. Pickett's next single, which he co-wrote with Robert Bateman and Sonny Schofield, was to be the record that changed his career forever. "If You Need Me" once again featured the Funk Brothers and the Andantes, and was recorded for Correc-Tone: [Excerpt: Wilson Pickett, "If You Need Me"] Jerry Wexler was again given the opportunity to put the record out on Atlantic, and once again decided against it. Instead, he offered to buy the song's publishing, and he got Solomon Burke to record it, in a version produced by Bert Berns: [Excerpt: Solomon Burke, "If You Need Me"] Burke wasn't fully aware, when he cut that version, that Wilson Pickett, who was his friend, had recorded his own version. He became aware, though, when Double-L Records, a label co-owned by Lloyd Price, bought the Correc-Tone master and released Pickett's version nationally, at the same time as Burke's version came out. The two men were annoyed that they'd been put into unwitting competition, and so started an unofficial nonaggression pact -- every time Burke was brought into a radio station to promote his record, he'd tell the listeners that he was there to promote Wilson Pickett's new single. Meanwhile, when Pickett went to radio stations, he'd take the opportunity to promote the new record he'd written for his good friend Solomon Burke, which the listeners should definitely check out. The result was that both records became hits -- Pickett's scraped the lower reaches of the R&B top thirty, while Burke, as he was the bigger star, made number two on the R&B chart and got into the pop top forty. Pickett followed it up with a soundalike, "It's Too Late", which managed to make the R&B top ten as there was no competition from Burke. At this point, Jerry Wexler realised that he'd twice had the opportunity to release a record with Wilson Pickett singing, twice he'd turned the chance down, and twice the record had become a hit. He realised that it was probably a good idea to sign Pickett directly to Atlantic and avoid missing out. He did check with Pickett if Pickett was annoyed about the Solomon Burke record -- Pickett's response was "I need the bread", and Wilson Pickett was now an Atlantic artist. This was at the point when Atlantic was in something of a commercial slump -- other than the records Bert Berns was producing for the Drifters and Solomon Burke, they were having no hits, and they were regarded as somewhat old-fashioned, rooted in a version of R&B that still showed its roots in jazz, rather than the new sounds that were taking over the industry in the early sixties. But they were still a bigger label than anything else Pickett had recorded for, and he seized the opportunity to move into the big time. To start with, Atlantic teamed Pickett up with someone who seemed like the perfect collaborator -- Don Covay, a soul singer and songwriter who had his roots in hard R&B and gospel music but had written hits for people like Chubby Checker. The two got together and recorded a song they wrote together, "I'm Gonna Cry (Cry Baby)": [Excerpt: Wilson Pickett, "I'm Gonna Cry (Cry Baby)"] That did nothing commercially -- and gallingly for Pickett, on the same day, Atlantic released a single Covay had written for himself, "Mercy Mercy", and that ended up going to number one on the R&B chart and making the pop top forty. As "I'm Gonna Cry" didn't work out, Atlantic decided to try to change tack, and paired Pickett with their established hitmaker Bert Berns, and a duet partner, Tami Lyn, for what Pickett would later describe as "one of the weirdest sessions on me I ever heard in my life", a duet on a Mann and Weil song, "Come Home Baby": [Excerpt: Wilson Pickett and Tami Lyn, "Come Home Baby"] Pickett later said of that track, "it didn't sell two records", but while it wasn't a hit, it was very popular among musicians -- a few months later Mick Jagger would produce a cover version of it on Immediate Records, with Ronnie Wood, Keith Richards, and the Georgie Fame brass section backing a couple of unknown singers: [Excerpt: Rod Stewart and P.P. Arnold, "Come Home Baby"] Sadly for Rod Stewart and P.P. Arnold, that didn't get past being issued as a promotional record, and never made it to the shops. Meanwhile, Pickett went out on tour again, substituting on a package tour for Clyde McPhatter, who had to drop out when his sister died. Also on the tour was Pickett's old bandmate from the Falcons, Mack Rice, now performing as Sir Mack Rice, who was promoting a single he'd just released on a small label, which had been produced by Andre Williams. The song had originally been called "Mustang Mama", but Aretha Franklin had suggested he call it "Mustang Sally" instead: [Excerpt: Sir Mack Rice, "Mustang Sally"] Pickett took note of the song, though he didn't record it just yet -- and in the meantime, the song was picked up by the white rock group The Young Rascals, who released their version as the B-side of their number one hit, "Good Lovin'": [Excerpt: The Young Rascals, "Mustang Sally"] Atlantic's problems with having hits weren't only problems with records they made themselves -- they were also having trouble getting any big hits with Stax records. As we discussed in the episode on "Green Onions", Stax were being distributed by Atlantic, and in 1963 they'd had a minor hit with "These Arms of Mine" by Otis Redding: [Excerpt: Otis Redding, "These Arms of Mine"] But throughout 1964, while the label had some R&B success with its established stars, it had no real major breakout hits, and it seemed to be floundering a bit -- it wasn't doing as badly as Atlantic itself, but it wasn't doing wonderfully. It wasn't until the end of the year when the label hit on what would become its defining sound, when for the first time Redding collaborated with Stax studio guitarist and producer Steve Cropper on a song: [Excerpt: Otis Redding, "Mr. Pitiful"] That record would point the way towards Redding's great artistic triumphs of the next couple of years, which we'll look at in a future episode. But it also pointed the way towards a possible future sound for Atlantic. Atlantic had signed a soul duo, Sam & Dave, who were wonderful live performers but who had so far not managed to translate those live performances to record. Jerry Wexler thought that perhaps Steve Cropper could help them do that, and made a suggestion to Jim Stewart at Stax -- Atlantic would loan out Sam & Dave to the label. They'd remain signed to Atlantic, but make their records at Stax studios, and they'd be released as Stax records. Their first single for Stax, "A Place Nobody Can Find", was produced by Cropper, and was written by Stax songwriter Dave Porter: [Excerpt: Sam and Dave, "A Place Nobody Can Find"] That wasn't a hit, but soon Porter would start collaborating with another songwriter, Isaac Hayes, and would write a string of hits for the duo. But in order to formalise the loan-out of Sam and Dave, Atlantic also wanted to formalise their arrangement with Stax. Previously they'd operated on a handshake basis -- Wexler and Stewart had a mutual respect, and they simply agreed that Stax would give Atlantic the option to distribute their stuff. But now they entered into a formal, long-term contract, and for a nominal sum of one dollar, Jim Stewart gave Atlantic the distribution rights to all past Stax records and to all future records they released for the next few years. Or at least, Stewart *thought* that the agreement he was making was formalising the distribution agreement. What the contract actually said -- and Stewart never bothered to have this checked over by an entertainment lawyer, because he trusted Wexler -- was that Stax would, for the sum of one dollar, give Atlantic *permanent ownership* of all their records, in return. The precise wording was "You hereby sell, assign and transfer to us, our successors or assigns, absolutely and forever and without any limitations or restrictions whatever, not specifically set forth herein, the entire right, title and interest in and to each of such masters and to each of the performances embodied thereon." Jerry Wexler would later insist that he had no idea that particular clause was in the contract, and that it had been slipped in there by the lawyers. Jim Stewart still thought of himself as the owner of an independent record label, but without realising it he'd effectively become an employee of Atlantic. Atlantic started to take advantage of this new arrangement by sending other artists down to Memphis to record with the Stax musicians. Unlike Sam and Dave, these would still be released as Atlantic records rather than Stax ones, and Jerry Wexler and Atlantic's engineer Tom Dowd would be involved in the production, but the records would be made by the Stax team. The first artist to benefit from this new arrangement was Wilson Pickett, who had been wanting to work at Stax for a while, being a big fan of Otis Redding in particular. Pickett was teamed up with Steve Cropper, and together they wrote the song that would define Pickett's career. The seeds of "In the Midnight Hour" come from two earlier recordings. One is a line from his record with the Falcons, "I Found a Love": [Excerpt: The Falcons, "I Found a Love"] The other is a line from a record that Clyde McPhatter had made with Billy Ward and the Dominoes back in 1951: [Excerpt: Billy Ward and the Dominoes, "Do Something For Me"] Those lines about a "midnight hour" and "love come tumbling down" were turned into the song that would make Pickett's name, but exactly who did what has been the cause of some disagreement. The official story is that Steve Cropper took those lines and worked with Pickett to write the song, as a straight collaboration. Most of the time, though, Pickett would claim that he'd written the song entirely by himself, and that Cropper had stolen the credit for that and their other credited collaborations. But other times he would admit "He worked with me quite a bit on that one". Floyd Newman, a regular horn player at Stax, would back up Pickett, saying "Every artist that came in here, they'd have their songs all together, but when they leave they had to give up a piece of it, to a certain person. But this person, you couldn't be mad at him, because he didn't own Stax, Jim Stewart owned Stax. And this guy was doing what Jim Stewart told him to do, so you can't be mad at him." But on the other hand, Willie Schofield, who collaborated with Pickett on "I Found a Love", said of writing that "Pickett didn't have any chord pattern. He had a couple of lyrics. I'm working with him, giving him the chord change, the feel of it. Then we're going in the studio and I've gotta show the band how to play it because we didn't have arrangers. That's part of the songwriting. But he didn't understand. He felt he wrote the lyrics so that's it." Given that Cropper didn't take the writing credit on several other records he participated in, that he did have a consistent pattern of making classic hit records, that "In the Midnight Hour" is stylistically utterly different from Pickett's earlier work but very similar to songs like "Mr. Pitiful" cowritten by Cropper, and Pickett's longstanding habit of being dismissive of anyone else's contributions to his success, I think the most likely version of events is that Cropper did have a lot to do with how the song came together, and probably deserves his credit, but we'll never know for sure exactly what went on in their collaboration. Whoever wrote it, "In the Midnight Hour" became one of the all-time classics of soul: [Excerpt: Wilson Pickett, "In the Midnight Hour"] But another factor in making the record a success -- and in helping reinvent the Stax sound -- was actually Jerry Wexler. Wexler had started attending sessions at the Stax studios, and was astonished by how different the recording process was in the South. And Wexler had his own input into the session that produced "In the Midnight Hour". His main suggestion was that rather than play the complicated part that Cropper had come up with, the guitarist should simplify, and just play chords along with Al Jackson's snare drum. Wexler was enthusing about a new dance craze called the Jerk, which had recently been the subject of a hit record by a group called the Larks: [Excerpt: The Larks, "The Jerk"] The Jerk, as Wexler demonstrated it to the bemused musicians, involved accenting the second and fourth beats of the bar, and delaying them very slightly. And this happened to fit very well with the Stax studio sound. The Stax studio was a large room, with quite a lot of reverb, and the musicians played together without using headphones, listening to the room sound. Because of this, to stay in time, Steve Cropper had started taking his cue not just from the sound, but from watching Al Jackson's left hand going to the snare drum. This had led to him playing when he saw Jackson's hand go down on the two and four, rather than when the sound of the snare drum reached his ears -- a tiny, fraction-of-a-second, anticipation of the beat, before everyone would get back in sync on the one of the next bar, as Jackson hit the kick drum. This had in turn evolved into the whole group playing the backbeat with a fractional delay, hitting it a tiny bit late -- as if you're listening to the echo of those beats rather than to the beat itself. If anyone other than utterly exceptional musicians had tried this, it would have ended up as a car crash, but Jackson was one of the best timekeepers in the business, and many musicians would say that at this point in time Steve Cropper was *the* best rhythm guitarist in the world, so instead it gave the performances just enough sense of looseness to make them exciting. This slight delayed backbeat was something the musicians had naturally fallen into doing, but it fit so well with Wexler's conception of the Jerk that they started deliberately exaggerating it -- still only delaying the backbeat minutely, but enough to give the record a very different sound from anything that was out there: [Excerpt: Wilson Pickett, "In the Midnight Hour"] That delayed backbeat sound would become the signature sound of Stax for the next several years, and you will hear it on the run of classic singles they would put out for the next few years by Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Carla Thomas, Booker T. and the MGs, Eddie Floyd and others. The sound of that beat is given extra emphasis by the utter simplicity of Al Jackson's playing. Jackson had a minimalist drum kit, but played it even more minimally -- other than the occasional fill, he never hit his tom at all, just using the kick drum, snare, and hi-hat -- and the hi-hat was not even miced, with any hi-hat on the actual records just being the result of leakage from the other mics. But that simplicity gave the Stax records a power that almost no other records from the period had: [Excerpt: Wilson Pickett, "In the Midnight Hour"] "In the Midnight Hour" made number one on the R&B charts, and made number twenty-one on the pop charts, instantly turning Pickett from an also-ran into one of the major stars of soul music. The follow-up, a soundalike called "Don't Fight It", also made the top five on the R&B charts. At his next session, Pickett was reunited with his old bandmate Eddie Floyd. Floyd would soon go on to have his own hits at Stax, most notably with "Knock on Wood", but at this point he was working as a staff songwriter at Stax, coming up with songs like "Comfort Me" for Carla Thomas: [Excerpt: Carla Thomas, "Comfort Me"] Floyd had teamed up with Steve Cropper, and they'd been... shall we say, "inspired"... by a hit for the Marvelettes, "Beechwood 45789", written by Marvin Gaye, Gwen Gordy and Mickey Stevenson: [Excerpt: The Marvelettes, "Beechwood 45789"] Cropper and Floyd had come up with their own song, "634-5789", which Pickett recorded, and which became an even bigger hit than "In the Midnight Hour", making number thirteen on the pop charts as well as being Pickett's second R&B number one: [Excerpt: Wilson Pickett, "634-5789"] At the same session, they cut another single. This one was inspired by an old gospel song, "Ninety-Nine and One Half Won't Do", recorded by Sister Rosetta Tharpe among others: [Excerpt: Sister Rosetta Tharpe, "Ninety-Nine and One Half Won't Do"] The song was rewritten by Floyd, Cropper, and Pickett, and was also a moderate R&B hit, though nowhere as big as "634-5789": [Excerpt: Wilson Pickett, "Ninety-Nine and One Half Won't Do"] That would be the last single that Pickett recorded at Stax, though -- though the reasoning has never been quite clear. Pickett was, to put it as mildly as possible, a difficult man to work with, and he seems to have had some kind of falling out with Jim Stewart -- though Stewart always said that the problem was actually that Pickett didn't get on with the musicians. But the musicians disagree, saying they had a good working relationship -- Pickett was often an awful person, but only when drunk, and he was always sober in the studio. It seems likely, actually, that Pickett's move away from the Stax studios was more to do with someone else -- Pickett's friend Don Covay was another Atlantic artist recording at Stax, and Pickett had travelled down with him when Covay had recorded "See Saw" there: [Excerpt: Don Covay, "See Saw"] Everyone involved agreed that Covay was an eccentric personality, and that he rubbed Jim Stewart up the wrong way. There is also a feeling among some that Stewart started to resent the way Stax's sound was being used for Atlantic artists, like he was "giving away" hits, even though Stax's company got the publishing on the songs Cropper was co-writing, and he was being paid for the studio time. Either way, after that session, Atlantic didn't send any of its artists down to Stax, other than Sam & Dave, who Stax regarded as their own artists. Pickett would never again record at Stax, and possibly coincidentally once he stopped writing songs with Steve Cropper he would also never again have a major hit record with a self-penned song. But Jerry Wexler still wanted to keep working in Southern studios, and with Southern musicians, and so he took Pickett to FAME studios, in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. We looked, back in the episode on Arthur Alexander, at the start of FAME studios, but after Arthur Alexander had moved on to Monument Records, Rick Hall had turned FAME into a home for R&B singers looking for crossover success. While Stax employed both Black and white musicians, FAME studios had an all-white rhythm section, with a background in country music, but that had turned out to be absolutely perfect for performers like the soul singer Joe Tex, who had himself started out in country before switching to soul, and who recorded classics like "Hold What You Got" at the studio: [Excerpt: Joe Tex, "Hold What You Got"] That had been released on FAME's record label, and Jerry Wexler had been impressed and had told Rick Hall to call him the next time he thought he had a hit. When Hall did call Wexler, Wexler was annoyed -- Hall phoned him in the middle of a party. But Hall was insistent. "You said to call you next time I've got a hit, and this is a number one". Wexler relented and listened to the record down the phone. This is what he heard: [Excerpt: Percy Sledge, "When a Man Loves a Woman"] Atlantic snapped up "When a Man Loves a Woman" by Percy Sledge, and it went to number one on the pop charts -- the first record from any of the Southern soul studios to do so. In Wexler's eyes, FAME was now the new Stax. Wexler had a bit of culture shock when working at FAME, as it was totally unlike anything he'd experienced before. The records he'd been involved with in New York had been mostly recorded by slumming jazz musicians, very technical players who would read the music from charts, and Stax had had Steve Cropper as de facto musical director, leading the musicians and working out their parts with them. By contrast, the process used at FAME, and at most of the other studios in what Charles Hughes describes as the "country-soul triangle" of Memphis, Muscle Shoals, and Nashville, was the process that had been developed by Owen Bradley and the Nashville A-Team in Nashville (and for a fuller description of this, see the excellent episodes on Bradley and the A-Team in the great country music podcast Cocaine and Rhinestones). The musicians would hear a play through of the song by its writer, or a demo, would note down the chord sequences using the Nashville number system rather than a more detailed score, do a single run-through to get the balance right, and then record. Very few songs required a second take. For Pickett's first session at FAME, and most subsequent ones, the FAME rhythm section of keyboard player Spooner Oldham, guitarist Jimmy Johnson, bass player Junior Lowe and drummer Roger Hawkins was augmented with a few other players -- Memphis guitarists Chips Moman and Tommy Cogbill, and the horn section who'd played on Pickett's Stax records, moonlighting. And for the first track they recorded there, Wexler wanted them to do something that would become a signature trick for Pickett over the next couple of years -- record a soul cover version of a rock cover version of a soul record. Wexler's thinking was that the best way for Pickett to cross over to a white audience was to do songs that were familiar to them from white pop cover versions, but songs that had originated in Pickett's soul style. At the time, as well, the hard backbeat sound on Pickett's hits was one that was more associated with white rock music than with soul, as was the emphasis on rhythm guitar. To modern ears, Pickett's records are almost the definition of soul music, but at the time they were absolutely considered crossover records. And so in the coming months Pickett would record cover versions of Don Covay's "Mercy Mercy", Solomon Burke's "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love", and Irma Thomas' "Time is on My Side", all of which had been previously covered by the Rolling Stones -- and two of which had their publishing owned by Atlantic's publishing subsidiary. For this single, though, he was recording a song which had started out as a gospel-inspired dance song by the R&B singer Chris Kenner: [Excerpt: Chris Kenner, "Land of a Thousand Dances"] That had been a minor hit towards the bottom end of the Hot One Hundred, but it had been taken up by a lot of other musicians, and become one of those songs everyone did as album filler -- Rufus Thomas had done a version at Stax, for example. But then a Chicano garage band called Cannibal and the Headhunters started performing it live, and their singer forgot the lyrics and just started singing "na na na na", giving the song a chorus it hadn't had in its original version. Their version, a fake-live studio recording, made the top thirty: [Excerpt: Cannibal and the Headhunters, "Land of a Thousand Dances"] Pickett's version was drastically rearranged, and included a guitar riff that Chips Moman had come up with, some new lyrics that Pickett introduced, and a bass intro that Jerry Wexler came up with, a run of semiquavers that Junior Lowe found very difficult to play. The musicians spent so long working on that intro that Pickett got annoyed and decided to take charge. He yelled "Come on! One-two-three!" and the horn players, with the kind of intuition that comes from working together for years, hit a chord in unison. He yelled "One-two-three!" again, and they hit another chord, and Lowe went into the bass part. They'd found their intro. They ran through that opening one more time, then recorded a take: [Excerpt: Wilson Pickett, "Land of a Thousand Dances"] At this time, FAME was still recording live onto a single-track tape, and so all the mistakes were caught on tape with no opportunity to fix anything, like when all but one of the horn players forget to come in on the first line of one verse: [Excerpt: Wilson Pickett, "Land of a Thousand Dances"] But that kind of mistake only added to the feel of the track, which became Pickett's biggest hit yet -- his third number one on the R&B chart, and his first pop top ten. As the formula of recording a soul cover version of a rock cover version of a soul song had clearly worked, the next single Pickett recorded was "Mustang Sally", which as we saw had originally been an R&B record by Pickett's friend Mack Rice, before being covered by the Young Rascals. Pickett's version, though, became the definitive version: [Excerpt: Wilson Pickett, "Mustang Sally"] But it very nearly wasn't. That was recorded in a single take, and the musicians went into the control room to listen to it -- and the metal capstan on the tape machine flew off while it was rewinding. The tape was cut into dozens of tiny fragments, which the machine threw all over the room in all directions. Everyone was horrified, and Pickett, who was already known for his horrific temper, looked as if he might actually kill someone. Tom Dowd, Atlantic's genius engineer who had been a physicist on the Manhattan Project while still a teenager, wasn't going to let something as minor as that stop him. He told everyone to take a break for half an hour, gathered up all the randomly-thrown bits of tape, and spliced them back together. The completed recording apparently has forty splices in it, which would mean an average of a splice every four seconds. Have a listen to this thirty-second segment and see if you can hear any at all: [Excerpt: Wilson Pickett, "Mustang Sally"] That segment has the one part where I *think* I can hear one splice in the whole track, a place where the rhythm hiccups very slightly -- and that might well just be the drummer trying a fill that didn't quite come off. "Mustang Sally" was another pop top thirty hit, and Wexler's crossover strategy seemed to have been proved right -- so much so that Pickett was now playing pretty much all-white bills. He played, for example, at Murray the K's last ever revue at the Brooklyn Paramount, where the other artists on the bill were Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, the Young Rascals, Al Kooper's Blues Project, Cream, and the Who. Pickett found the Who extremely unprofessional, with their use of smoke bombs and smashing their instruments, but they eventually became friendly. Pickett's next single was his version of "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love", the Solomon Burke song that the Rolling Stones had also covered, and that was a minor hit, but his next few records after that didn't do particularly well. He did though have a big hit with his cover version of a song by a group called Dyke and the Blazers. Pickett's version of "Funky Broadway" took him to the pop top ten: [Excerpt: Wilson Pickett, "Funky Broadway"] It did something else, as well. You may have noticed that two of the bands on that Paramount bill were groups that get called "blue-eyed soul". "Soul" had originally been a term used for music made by Black people, but increasingly the term was being used by white people for their music, just as rock and roll and rhythm and blues before it had been picked up on by white musicians. And so as in those cases, Black musicians were moving away from the term -- though it would never be abandoned completely -- and towards a new slang term, "funk". And Pickett was the first person to get a song with "funk" in the title onto the pop charts. But that would be the last recording Pickett would do at FAME for a couple of years. As with Stax, Pickett was moved away by Atlantic because of problems with another artist, this time to do with a session with Aretha Franklin that went horribly wrong, which we'll look at in a future episode. From this point on, Pickett would record at American Sound Studios in Memphis, a studio owned and run by Chips Moman, who had played on many of Pickett's records. Again, Pickett was playing with an all-white house band, but brought in a couple of Black musicians -- the saxophone player King Curtis, and Pickett's new touring guitarist, Bobby Womack, who had had a rough few years, being largely ostracised from the music community because of his relationship with Sam Cooke's widow. Womack wrote what might be Pickett's finest song, a song called "I'm in Love" which is a masterpiece of metrical simplicity disguised as complexity -- you could write it all down as being in straight four-four, but the pulse shifts and implies alternating bars of five and three at points: [Excerpt: Wilson Pickett, "I'm In Love"] Womack's playing on those sessions had two effects, one on music history and one on Pickett. The effect on music history was that he developed a strong working relationship with Reggie Young, the guitarist in the American Sound studio band, and Young and Womack learned each other's styles. Young would later go on to be one of the top country session guitarists, playing on records by Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, Waylon Jennings and more, and he was using Womack's style of playing -- he said later "I didn't change a thing. I was playing that Womack style on country records, instead of the hillbilly stuff—it changed the whole bed of country music." The other effect, though, was a much more damaging one. Womack introduced Pickett to cocaine, and Pickett -- who was already an aggressive, violent, abusive, man, became much more so. "I'm in Love" went to number four on the R&B charts, but didn't make the pop top forty. The follow-up, a remake of "Stagger Lee", did decently on the pop charts but less well on the R&B charts. Pickett's audiences were diverging, and he was finding it more difficult to make the two come together. But he would still manage it, sporadically, throughout the sixties. One time when he did was in 1968, when he returned to Muscle Shoals and to FAME studios. In a session there, the guitarist was very insistent that Pickett should cut a version of the Beatles' most recent hit. Now obviously, this is a record that's ahead in our timeline, and which will be covered in a future episode, but I imagine that most of you won't find it too much of a spoiler when I tell you that "Hey Jude" by the Beatles was quite a big hit: [Excerpt: The Beatles, "Hey Jude"] What that guitarist had realised was that the tag of the song gave the perfect opportunity for ad-libbing. You all know the tag: [Excerpt: The Beatles, "Hey Jude"] And so on. That would be perfect for a guitar solo, and for Pickett to do some good soul shouting over. Neither Pickett nor Rick Hall were at all keen -- the Beatles record had only just dropped off number one, and it seemed like a ridiculous idea to both of them. But the guitarist kept pressing to do it, and by the time the other musicians returned from their lunch break, he'd convinced Pickett and Hall. The record starts out fairly straightforward: [Excerpt: Wilson Pickett, "Hey Jude"] But it's on the tag when it comes to life. Pickett later described recording that part -- “He stood right in front of me, as though he was playing every note I was singing. And he was watching me as I sang, and as I screamed, he was screaming with his guitar.”: [Excerpt: Wilson Pickett, "Hey Jude"] That was not Pickett's biggest hit, but it was one of the most influential. It made the career of the guitarist, Duane Allman, who Jerry Wexler insisted on signing to his own contract after that, and as Jimmy Johnson, the rhythm guitarist on the session said, "We realised then that Duane had created southern rock, in that vamp." It was big enough that Wexler pushed Pickett to record a whole series of cover versions of rock songs -- he put out versions of "Hey Joe", "Born to be Wild" and "You Keep Me Hangin' On" -- the latter going back to his old technique of covering a white cover version of a Black record, as his version copied the Vanilla Fudge's arrangement rather than the Supremes' original. But these only had very minor successes -- the most successful of them was his version of "Sugar Sugar" by the Archies. As the sixties turned into the seventies, Pickett continued having some success, but it was more erratic and less consistent. The worlds of Black and white music were drifting apart, and Pickett, who more than most had straddled both worlds, now found himself having success in neither. It didn't help that his cocaine dependency had made him into an egomaniac. At one point in the early seventies, Pickett got a residency in Las Vegas, and was making what by most standards was a great income from it. But he would complain bitterly that he was only playing the small room, not the big one in the same hotel, and that the artist playing the big room was getting better billing than him on the posters. Of course, the artist playing the big room was Elvis Presley, but that didn't matter to Pickett -- he thought he deserved to be at least that big. He was also having regular fights with his record label. Ahmet Ertegun used to tell a story -- and I'm going to repeat it here with one expletive cut out in order to get past Apple's ratings system. In Ertegun's words “Jerry Wexler never liked Crosby, Stills & Nash because they wanted so much freaking artistic autonomy. While we were arguing about this, Wilson Pickett walks in the room and comes up to Jerry and says, ‘Jerry,' and he goes, ‘Wham!' And he puts a pistol on the table. He says, ‘If that [Expletive] Tom Dowd walks into where I'm recording, I'm going to shoot him. And if you walk in, I'm going to shoot you. ‘Oh,' Jerry said. ‘That's okay, Wilson.' Then he walked out. So I said, ‘You want to argue about artistic autonomy?' ” As you can imagine, Atlantic were quite glad to get rid of Pickett when he decided he wanted to move to RCA records, who were finally trying to break into the R&B market. Unfortunately for Pickett, the executive who'd made the decision to sign him soon left the company, and as so often happens when an executive leaves, his pet project becomes the one that everyone's desperate to get rid of. RCA didn't know how to market records to Black audiences, and didn't really try, and Pickett's voice was becoming damaged from all the cocaine use. He spent the seventies, and eighties going from label to label, trying things like going disco, with no success. He also went from woman to woman, beating them up, and went through band members more and more quickly as he attacked them, too. The guitarist Marc Ribot was in Pickett's band for a short time and said, (and here again I'm cutting out an expletive) " You can write about all the extenuating circumstances, and maybe it needs to be put in historical context, but … You know why guys beat women? Because they can. And it's abuse. That's why employers beat employees, when they can. I've worked with black bandleaders and white bandleaders who are respectful, courteous and generous human beings—and then I've worked with Wilson Pickett." He was becoming more and more paranoid. He didn't turn up for his induction in the rock and roll hall of fame, where he was scheduled to perform -- instead he hid in his house, scared to leave. Pickett was repeatedly arrested throughout this time, and into the nineties, spending some time in prison, and then eventually going into rehab in 1997 after being arrested for beating up his latest partner. She dropped the charges, but the police found the cocaine in his possession and charged him with that. After getting out, he apparently mellowed out somewhat and became much easier to get along with -- still often unpleasant, especially after he'd had a drink, which he never gave up, but far less violent and more easy-going than he had been. He also had something of a comeback, sparked by an appearance in the flop film Blues Brothers 2000. He recorded a blues album, It's Harder Now, and also guested on Adlib, the comeback duets album by his old friend Don Covay, singing with him and cowriting on several songs, including "Nine Times a Man": [Excerpt: Don Covay and Wilson Pickett, "Nine Times a Man"] It's Harder Now was a solid blues-based album, in the vein of similar albums from around that time by people like Solomon Burke, and could have led to Pickett having the same kind of late-career resurgence as Johnny Cash. It was nominated for a Grammy, but lost in the category for which it was nominated to Barry White. Pickett was depressed by the loss and just decided to give up making new music, and just played the oldies circuit until 2004, at which point he became too ill to continue. The duet with Covay would be the last time he went into the studio. The story of Pickett's last year or so is a painful one, with squabbles between his partner and his children over his power of attorney while he spent long periods in hospital, suffering from kidney problems caused by his alcoholism, and also at this point from bulimia, diabetes, and more. He was ill enough that he tried to make amends with his children and his ex-wife, and succeeded as well as anyone can in that situation. On the eighteenth of January 2006, two months before his sixty-fifth birthday, his partner took him to get his hair cut and his moustache shaped, so he'd look the way he wanted to look, they ate together at his assisted living facility, and prayed together, and she left around eleven o'clock that night. Shortly thereafter, Pickett had a heart attack and died, alone, some time close to the midnight hour.