American recording artist, singer, record producer, and actress (1941-1974)
Cass Elliot, AKA "Mama Cass" from The Mamas and The Papas, broke the mold of female pop superstardom and shattered expectations of what women in music “should” be. She also was arrested in London for theft, dated international drug dealers, and tanked what was supposed to be a career-defining solo performance while flying high on Iranian hashish. To this day, the biggest controversy swirling around the singer is her connection to the 1969 Manson Family murders. Her actions during the so-called “Summer of Love” might even be why the motive for the murders America has come to accept as fact…is actually entirely false. To see the full list of contributors see the show notes at www.disgracelandpod.com.
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.
Chinatown, secret societies, gentlemen's clubs, California, Los Angeles, making of Hollywood, California water wars, William Mulholland, Frederick Eaton, Mulholland Drive, Henry E. Huntington, Huntington family, Society of Cincinnati, Skull & Bones, Bohemian Club, Los Angeles Suburban Home Company, Robert Towne, Roger Corman, money laundering, George Soros, Edward Taylor, Julia Payne, Ben Hecht, Robert Evans, Paramount Pictures, Woodlands Estate, drug trafficking, Roy Radin, William Mentzer, Son of Sam cult, Cotton Club murder, Thomas Corbally, Profumo, Melonie Haller, S & M, sex tapes, Henry Kissinger, Roman Polanski, Cold War intrigues, Sharon Tate, Tate murders, Manson family, kiddie porn, Mammas and Pappas, Cass Elliot, John & Michelle Phillips, Laurel Canyon, Lookout Mountain Air Force Base, Air Force, John Huston, Angelica Huston, George Hodel, Tamar Hodel, Black Dahlia murder, Forteanism, incest, surrealism, Banning family, The Most Dangerous Game, Natalie WoodMusic by: Keith Allen Dennishttps://keithallendennis.bandcamp.com/ Get bonus content on Patreon Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
TW: Fatphobia/diet culture leading to death. I am talking about famous people who had overwhelming pressure to be thin and died trying or their life was damaged because of that. I am also talking about the idea that fatphobia caused or deeply contributed to them being unalive. It's a pretty tough episode so please skip if you need to. Episode show notes: http://www.fiercefatty.com/145 This https://my.trovatrip.com/public/l/survey/fierce.fatty Amy Winehouse: https://pitchfork.com/thepitch/861-we-need-to-talk-about-amy-winehouses-eating-disorder-and-its-role-in-her-death/ Carrie Fisher: https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/uk/lifestyle/a558228/carrie-fisher/ Carrie Fisher Pressured To Lose Weight Before Reprising Role In “Star Wars': http://www.etcanada.com/blogs/etc_169413/carrie-fisher-pressured-to-lose-weight-before-reprising-role-in-star-wars/movies Cass Elliot: https://www.vogue.com/article/mama-cass-elliot-died-almost-50-years-ago-but-her-memory-is-still-obscured-by-fatphobia https://hillstock.com/2021/02/13/mama-cass-elliot-diet/ Karen Carpenter: https://www.independent.ie/life/the-real-reason-karen-carpenter-was-driven-to-anorexia-26703889.html Elvis Presley: https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/elvis-presleys-lover-linda-thomspon-take-drugs-dentists-office.html/ https://www.elvis.com.au/presley/interview-lindathompson.shtml https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/elvis-presley-fiancee-never-saw-him-eat-a-peanut-butter-bacon-and-banana-sandwich.html/ Other mentions: https://www.tmz.com/2011/11/02/bubba-smith-cause-of-death-diet-pill-overdose/ https://www.cbsnews.com/news/hollywoods-dangerous-weight-loss-secret/ Tekashi 6ix9ine Was Hospitalized After Ingesting a Combo of Diet Pills and Caffeine: https://www.nme.com/news/music/tekashi-6ix9ine-hospitalised-after-overdosing-on-diet-pills-and-caffeine-2767448 https://people.com/music/tekashi-69-diet-pill-caffeine-overdose/ https://www.instagram.com/p/CF0PIgxBE2w/?utm_source=ig_embed https://www.cbsnews.com/news/how-hydroxycut-stays-in-business-despite-deaths-recalls-and-a-class-action-suit/ Civilians from an eating disorder prevention company: https://cdn1.sph.harvard.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/1267/2021/02/STRIPED_news_summaries-diet-pills.pdf Celebs who had stomach amputation surgery: https://www.womenshealthmag.com/weight-loss/g19976029/celebrity-weight-loss-surgery/
We discuss an American Airline's dispute with an anti-fat passenger, the furor over Taylor Swift's new music video, and Cass Elliot finally getting a star on Hollywood's Walk Of Fame. For Halloween, we do a deep dive into the Spanish thriller, Piggy.
It's Probably Me - ViVii Ivory Coast - Pure Bathing Culture Nightswimming - Pure Bathing Culture After All - Jeanines Luminous - Seoul Magic Club Love all the Population - Gently Tender Home Anymore - Gently Tender Chain - Workhorse No Photographs - Workhorse County Lines - Whitney Terminal - Whitney Jesus was a Cross Maker - Cass Elliot This episode features a clip from Channel 4 News' report on the truck bombing of Russia's bridge connecting illegally annexed Crimea in Ukraine to the Russian mainland. The latest in a long series of colossal embarrassments for Putin.
"It's not natural, is it? A girl at her age being into Mama Cass." We watched the 1996 British film Beautiful Thing with Jesse Krempel from Cult Cinema Circle. As one of the most beloved "gay" movies from the 1990s, Beautiful Thing always feels a little more special than a traditonal "coming out" story. Set around a tower block South-London apartment building we follow Jamie (Glen Berry) and his neighbor Ste (Scott Neal) as they navigate their budding sexuality, and feelings for each other. We love this sweet movie (filled with the hits of Cass Elliot), as well as its supporting cast of characters. First there Jamie's mum Sandra (played with a spit-fire panache by Linda Henry), and her hot hippy boyfriend Tony (Ben Daniels). And we can't forget Tameka Empson scene stealing performance as Leah! We talk about first gay bar adventures, sneaking looks at gay magazines at newstands, and why this movie rises above most mediocre coming-of-age gay movies that would follow it. Thanks for listening and don't forget to subscribe, rate and review us on Apple Podcasts! www.patreon.com/moviesthatmadeusgay Facebook/Instagram: @moviesthatmadeusgay Twitter: @MTMUGPod Scott Youngbauer: Twitter @oscarscott / Instagram @scottyoungballer Peter Lozano: Twitter/Instagram @peterlasagna
Today on the Rarified Heir Podcast, we bring you part one of our conversation with Kristen Hillaire Glasgow PhD, daughter of manager, restauranteur, impresario, raconteur Roy Silver and actress Kathryn Reynolds. The episode sparked literally, when Kristen made the connection on Twitter to the band Sparks in our conversation with Matt Asner a few episodes back. It turns out her dad, Roy Silver managed Sparks for a bit early in their career as well as musicians and entertainers like Joan Rivers, Cass Elliott, Bill Cosby, Jackson Browne and the rock band Fanny. What's more, we learned that not only did Roy Silver manage Tiny Tim but that our host Josh Mills' parents threw a party for Ron and Tiny Tim to ‘introduce' Hollywood in Tiny Tim in July of 1968. And we have the proof to back that up. We talked a lot about all things LA in the 70s & 80s, including restaurants (like Roy's which her dad owned), how her dad ‘found' Bill Cosby at The Bitter End in NYC, her mother's folk mockumentary group Allen & Grier, her stepmother actress Dee Dee Rescher, the real story behind the all-female, all amazing rock band Fanny, the genius that was El Grande De Coca-Cola starring Ron Silver & Jeff Goldblum, the record label Tetragrammaton Records Silver and his partners founded which released Deep Purple debut album and the John Lennon and Yoko Ono album Two Virgins and much more. What's more you ask? Well we have to break this interview up into two episodes. It was that good. Part one is here, so take a listen to the Rarified Heir Podcast right now.
We start season four of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs with an extra-long look at "San Francisco" by Scott McKenzie, and at the Monterey Pop Festival, and the careers of the Mamas and the Papas and P.F. Sloan. 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 "Up, Up, and Away" by the 5th Dimension. 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. Scott McKenzie's first album is available here. There are many compilations of the Mamas and the Papas' music, but sadly none that are in print in the UK have the original mono mixes. This set is about as good as you're going to find, though, for the stereo versions. Information on the Mamas and the Papas came from Go Where You Wanna Go: The Oral History of The Mamas and the Papas by Matthew Greenwald, California Dreamin': The True Story Of The Mamas and Papas by Michelle Phillips, and Papa John by John Phillips and Jim Jerome. Information on P.F. Sloan came from PF - TRAVELLING BAREFOOT ON A ROCKY ROAD by Stephen McParland and What's Exactly the Matter With Me? by P.F. Sloan and S.E. Feinberg. The film of the Monterey Pop Festival is available on this Criterion Blu-Ray set. Sadly the CD of the performances seems to be deleted. Patreon This podcast is brought to you by the generosity of my backers on Patreon. Why not join them? Transcript Welcome to season four of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs. It's good to be back. Before we start this episode, I just want to say one thing. I get a lot of credit at times for the way I don't shy away from dealing with the more unsavoury elements of the people being covered in my podcast -- particularly the more awful men. But as I said very early on, I only cover those aspects of their life when they're relevant to the music, because this is a music podcast and not a true crime podcast. But also I worry that in some cases this might mean I'm giving a false impression of some people. In the case of this episode, one of the central figures is John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas. Now, Phillips has posthumously been accused of some truly monstrous acts, the kind of thing that is truly unforgivable, and I believe those accusations. But those acts didn't take place during the time period covered by most of this episode, so I won't be covering them here -- but they're easily googlable if you want to know. I thought it best to get that out of the way at the start, so no-one's either anxiously waiting for the penny to drop or upset that I didn't acknowledge the elephant in the room. Separately, this episode will have some discussion of fatphobia and diet culture, and of a death that is at least in part attributable to those things. Those of you affected by that may want to skip this one or read the transcript. There are also some mentions of drug addiction and alcoholism. Anyway, on with the show. One of the things that causes problems with rock history is the tendency of people to have selective memories, and that's never more true than when it comes to the Summer of Love, summer of 1967. In the mythology that's built up around it, that was a golden time, the greatest time ever, a period of peace and love where everything was possible, and the world looked like it was going to just keep on getting better. But what that means, of course, is that the people remembering it that way do so because it was the best time of their lives. And what happens when the best time of your life is over in one summer? When you have one hit and never have a second, or when your band splits up after only eighteen months, and you have to cope with the reality that your best years are not only behind you, but they weren't even best years, but just best months? What stories would you tell about that time? Would you remember it as the eve of destruction, the last great moment before everything went to hell, or would you remember it as a golden summer, full of people with flowers in their hair? And would either really be true? [Excerpt: Scott McKenzie, "San Francisco"] Other than the city in which they worked, there are a few things that seem to characterise almost all the important figures on the LA music scene in the middle part of the 1960s. They almost all seem to be incredibly ambitious, as one might imagine. There seem to be a huge number of fantasists among them -- people who will not only choose the legend over reality when it suits them, but who will choose the legend over reality even when it doesn't suit them. And they almost all seem to have a story about being turned down in a rude and arrogant manner by Lou Adler, usually more or less the same story. To give an example, I'm going to read out a bit of Ray Manzarek's autobiography here. Now, Manzarek uses a few words that I can't use on this podcast and keep a clean rating, so I'm just going to do slight pauses when I get to them, but I'll leave the words in the transcript for those who aren't offended by them: "Sometimes Jim and Dorothy and I went alone. The three of us tried Dunhill Records. Lou Adler was the head man. He was shrewd and he was hip. He had the Mamas and the Papas and a big single with Barry McGuire's 'Eve of Destruction.' He was flush. We were ushered into his office. He looked cool. He was California casually disheveled and had the look of a stoner, but his eyes were as cold as a shark's. He took the twelve-inch acetate demo from me and we all sat down. He put the disc on his turntable and played each cut…for ten seconds. Ten seconds! You can't tell jack [shit] from ten seconds. At least listen to one of the songs all the way through. I wanted to rage at him. 'How dare you! We're the Doors! This is [fucking] Jim Morrison! He's going to be a [fucking] star! Can't you see that? Can't you see how [fucking] handsome he is? Can't you hear how groovy the music is? Don't you [fucking] get it? Listen to the words, man!' My brain was a boiling, lava-filled Jell-O mold of rage. I wanted to eviscerate that shark. The songs he so casually dismissed were 'Moonlight Drive,' 'Hello, I Love You,' 'Summer's Almost Gone,' 'End of the Night,' 'I Looked at You,' 'Go Insane.' He rejected the whole demo. Ten seconds on each song—maybe twenty seconds on 'Hello, I Love You' (I took that as an omen of potential airplay)—and we were dismissed out of hand. Just like that. He took the demo off the turntable and handed it back to me with an obsequious smile and said, 'Nothing here I can use.' We were shocked. We stood up, the three of us, and Jim, with a wry and knowing smile on his lips, cuttingly and coolly shot back at him, 'That's okay, man. We don't want to be *used*, anyway.'" Now, as you may have gathered from the episode on the Doors, Ray Manzarek was one of those print-the-legend types, and that's true of everyone who tells similar stories about Lou Alder. But... there are a *lot* of people who tell similar stories about Lou Adler. One of those was Phil Sloan. You can get an idea of Sloan's attitude to storytelling from a story he always used to tell. Shortly after he and his family moved to LA from New York, he got a job selling newspapers on a street corner on Hollywood Boulevard, just across from Schwab's Drug Store. One day James Dean drove up in his Porsche and made an unusual request. He wanted to buy every copy of the newspaper that Sloan had -- around a hundred and fifty copies in total. But he only wanted one article, something in the entertainment section. Sloan didn't remember what the article was, but he did remember that one of the headlines was on the final illness of Oliver Hardy, who died shortly afterwards, and thought it might have been something to do with that. Dean was going to just clip that article from every copy he bought, and then he was going to give all the newspapers back to Sloan to sell again, so Sloan ended up making a lot of extra money that day. There is one rather big problem with that story. Oliver Hardy died in August 1957, just after the Sloan family moved to LA. But James Dean died in September 1955, two years earlier. Sloan admitted that, and said he couldn't explain it, but he was insistent. He sold a hundred and fifty newspapers to James Dean two years after Dean's death. When not selling newspapers to dead celebrities, Sloan went to Fairfax High School, and developed an interest in music which was mostly oriented around the kind of white pop vocal groups that were popular at the time, groups like the Kingston Trio, the Four Lads, and the Four Aces. But the record that made Sloan decide he wanted to make music himself was "Just Goofed" by the Teen Queens: [Excerpt: The Teen Queens, "Just Goofed"] In 1959, when he was fourteen, he saw an advert for an open audition with Aladdin Records, a label he liked because of Thurston Harris. He went along to the audition, and was successful. His first single, released as by Flip Sloan -- Flip was a nickname, a corruption of "Philip" -- was produced by Bumps Blackwell and featured several of the musicians who played with Sam Cooke, plus Larry Knechtel on piano and Mike Deasey on guitar, but Aladdin shut down shortly after releasing it, and it may not even have had a general release, just promo copies. I've not been able to find a copy online anywhere. After that, he tried Arwin Records, the label that Jan and Arnie recorded for, which was owned by Marty Melcher (Doris Day's husband and Terry Melcher's stepfather). Melcher signed him, and put out a single, "She's My Girl", on Mart Records, a subsidiary of Arwin, on which Sloan was backed by a group of session players including Sandy Nelson and Bruce Johnston: [Excerpt: Philip Sloan, "She's My Girl"] That record didn't have any success, and Sloan was soon dropped by Mart Records. He went on to sign with Blue Bird Records, which was as far as can be ascertained essentially a scam organisation that would record demos for songwriters, but tell the performers that they were making a real record, so that they would record it for the royalties they would never get, rather than for a decent fee as a professional demo singer would get. But Steve Venet -- the brother of Nik Venet, and occasional songwriting collaborator with Tommy Boyce -- happened to come to Blue Bird one day, and hear one of Sloan's original songs. He thought Sloan would make a good songwriter, and took him to see Lou Adler at Columbia-Screen Gems music publishing. This was shortly after the merger between Columbia-Screen Gems and Aldon Music, and Adler was at this point the West Coast head of operations, subservient to Don Kirshner and Al Nevins, but largely left to do what he wanted. The way Sloan always told the story, Venet tried to get Adler to sign Sloan, but Adler said his songs stunk and had no commercial potential. But Sloan persisted in trying to get a contract there, and eventually Al Nevins happened to be in the office and overruled Adler, much to Adler's disgust. Sloan was signed to Columbia-Screen Gems as a songwriter, though he wasn't put on a salary like the Brill Building songwriters, just told that he could bring in songs and they would publish them. Shortly after this, Adler suggested to Sloan that he might want to form a writing team with another songwriter, Steve Barri, who had had a similar non-career non-trajectory, but was very slightly further ahead in his career, having done some work with Carol Connors, the former lead singer of the Teddy Bears. Barri had co-written a couple of flop singles for Connors, before the two of them had formed a vocal group, the Storytellers, with Connors' sister. The Storytellers had released a single, "When Two People (Are in Love)" , which was put out on a local independent label and which Adler had licensed to be released on Dimension Records, the label associated with Aldon Music: [Excerpt: The Storytellers "When Two People (Are in Love)"] That record didn't sell, but it was enough to get Barri into the Columbia-Screen Gems circle, and Adler set him and Sloan up as a songwriting team -- although the way Sloan told it, it wasn't so much a songwriting team as Sloan writing songs while Barri was also there. Sloan would later claim "it was mostly a collaboration of spirit, and it seemed that I was writing most of the music and the lyric, but it couldn't possibly have ever happened unless both of us were present at the same time". One suspects that Barri might have a different recollection of how it went... Sloan and Barri's first collaboration was a song that Sloan had half-written before they met, called "Kick That Little Foot Sally Ann", which was recorded by a West Coast Chubby Checker knockoff who went under the name Round Robin, and who had his own dance craze, the Slauson, which was much less successful than the Twist: [Excerpt: Round Robin, "Kick that Little Foot Sally Ann"] That track was produced and arranged by Jack Nitzsche, and Nitzsche asked Sloan to be one of the rhythm guitarists on the track, apparently liking Sloan's feel. Sloan would end up playing rhythm guitar or singing backing vocals on many of the records made of songs he and Barri wrote together. "Kick That Little Foot Sally Ann" only made number sixty-one nationally, but it was a regional hit, and it meant that Sloan and Barri soon became what Sloan later described as "the Goffin and King of the West Coast follow-ups." According to Sloan "We'd be given a list on Monday morning by Lou Adler with thirty names on it of the groups who needed follow-ups to their hit." They'd then write the songs to order, and they started to specialise in dance craze songs. For example, when the Swim looked like it might be the next big dance, they wrote "Swim Swim Swim", "She Only Wants to Swim", "Let's Swim Baby", "Big Boss Swimmer", "Swim Party" and "My Swimmin' Girl" (the last a collaboration with Jan Berry and Roger Christian). These songs were exactly as good as they needed to be, in order to provide album filler for mid-tier artists, and while Sloan and Barri weren't writing any massive hits, they were doing very well as mid-tier writers. According to Sloan's biographer Stephen McParland, there was a three-year period in the mid-sixties where at least one song written or co-written by Sloan was on the national charts at any given time. Most of these songs weren't for Columbia-Screen Gems though. In early 1964 Lou Adler had a falling out with Don Kirshner, and decided to start up his own company, Dunhill, which was equal parts production company, music publishers, and management -- doing for West Coast pop singers what Motown was doing for Detroit soul singers, and putting everything into one basket. Dunhill's early clients included Jan and Dean and the rockabilly singer Johnny Rivers, and Dunhill also signed Sloan and Barri as songwriters. Because of this connection, Sloan and Barri soon became an important part of Jan and Dean's hit-making process. The Matadors, the vocal group that had provided most of the backing vocals on the duo's hits, had started asking for more money than Jan Berry was willing to pay, and Jan and Dean couldn't do the vocals themselves -- as Bones Howe put it "As a singer, Dean is a wonderful graphic artist" -- and so Sloan and Barri stepped in, doing session vocals without payment in the hope that Jan and Dean would record a few of their songs. For example, on the big hit "The Little Old Lady From Pasadena", Dean Torrence is not present at all on the record -- Jan Berry sings the lead vocal, with Sloan doubling him for much of it, Sloan sings "Dean"'s falsetto, with the engineer Bones Howe helping out, and the rest of the backing vocals are sung by Sloan, Barri, and Howe: [Excerpt: Jan and Dean, "The Little Old Lady From Pasadena"] For these recordings, Sloan and Barri were known as The Fantastic Baggys, a name which came from the Rolling Stones' manager Andrew Oldham and Mick Jagger, when the two were visiting California. Oldham had been commenting on baggys, the kind of shorts worn by surfers, and had asked Jagger what he thought of The Baggys as a group name. Jagger had replied "Fantastic!" and so the Fantastic Baggys had been born. As part of this, Sloan and Barri moved hard into surf and hot-rod music from the dance songs they had been writing previously. The Fantastic Baggys recorded their own album, Tell 'Em I'm Surfin', as a quickie album suggested by Adler: [Excerpt: The Fantastic Baggys, "Tell 'Em I'm Surfin'"] And under the name The Rally Packs they recorded a version of Jan and Dean's "Move Out Little Mustang" which featured Berry's girlfriend Jill Gibson doing a spoken section: [Excerpt: The Rally Packs, "Move Out Little Mustang"] They also wrote several album tracks for Jan and Dean, and wrote "Summer Means Fun" for Bruce and Terry -- Bruce Johnston, later of the Beach Boys, and Terry Melcher: [Excerpt: Bruce and Terry, "Summer Means Fun"] And they wrote the very surf-flavoured "Secret Agent Man" for fellow Dunhill artist Johnny Rivers: [Excerpt: Johnny Rivers, "Secret Agent Man"] But of course, when you're chasing trends, you're chasing trends, and soon the craze for twangy guitars and falsetto harmonies had ended, replaced by a craze for jangly twelve-string guitars and closer harmonies. According to Sloan, he was in at the very beginning of the folk-rock trend -- the way he told the story, he was involved in the mastering of the Byrds' version of "Mr. Tambourine Man". He later talked about Terry Melcher getting him to help out, saying "He had produced a record called 'Mr. Tambourine Man', and had sent it into the head office, and it had been rejected. He called me up and said 'I've got three more hours in the studio before I'm being kicked out of Columbia. Can you come over and help me with this new record?' I did. I went over there. It was under lock and key. There were two guards outside the door. Terry asked me something about 'Summer Means Fun'. "He said 'Do you remember the guitar that we worked on with that? How we put in that double reverb?' "And I said 'yes' "And he said 'What do you think if we did something like that with the Byrds?' "And I said 'That sounds good. Let's see what it sounds like.' So we patched into all the reverb centres in Columbia Music, and mastered the record in three hours." Whether Sloan really was there at the birth of folk rock, he and Barri jumped on the folk-rock craze just as they had the surf and hot-rod craze, and wrote a string of jangly hits including "You Baby" for the Turtles: [Excerpt: The Turtles, "You Baby"] and "I Found a Girl" for Jan and Dean: [Excerpt: Jan and Dean, "I Found a Girl"] That song was later included on Jan and Dean's Folk 'n' Roll album, which also included... a song I'm not even going to name, but long-time listeners will know the one I mean. It was also notable in that "I Found a Girl" was the first song on which Sloan was credited not as Phil Sloan, but as P.F. Sloan -- he didn't have a middle name beginning with F, but rather the F stood for his nickname "Flip". Sloan would later talk of Phil Sloan and P.F. Sloan as almost being two different people, with P.F. being a far more serious, intense, songwriter. Folk 'n' Roll also contained another Sloan song, this one credited solely to Sloan. And that song is the one for which he became best known. There are two very different stories about how "Eve of Destruction" came to be written. To tell Sloan's version, I'm going to read a few paragraphs from his autobiography: "By late 1964, I had already written ‘Eve Of Destruction,' ‘The Sins Of A Family,' ‘This Mornin',' ‘Ain't No Way I'm Gonna Change My Mind,' and ‘What's Exactly The Matter With Me?' They all arrived on one cataclysmic evening, and nearly at the same time, as I worked on the lyrics almost simultaneously. ‘Eve Of Destruction' came about from hearing a voice, perhaps an angel's. The voice instructed me to place five pieces of paper and spread them out on my bed. I obeyed the voice. The voice told me that the first song would be called ‘Eve Of Destruction,' so I wrote the title at the top of the page. For the next few hours, the voice came and went as I was writing the lyric, as if this spirit—or whatever it was—stood over me like a teacher: ‘No, no … not think of all the hate there is in Red Russia … Red China!' I didn't understand. I thought the Soviet Union was the mortal threat to America, but the voice went on to reveal to me the future of the world until 2024. I was told the Soviet Union would fall, and that Red China would continue to be communist far into the future, but that communism was not going to be allowed to take over this Divine Planet—therefore, think of all the hate there is in Red China. I argued and wrestled with the voice for hours, until I was exhausted but satisfied inside with my plea to God to either take me out of the world, as I could not live in such a hypocritical society, or to show me a way to make things better. When I was writing ‘Eve,' I was on my hands and knees, pleading for an answer." Lou Adler's story is that he gave Phil Sloan a copy of Bob Dylan's Bringing it All Back Home album and told him to write a bunch of songs that sounded like that, and Sloan came back a week later as instructed with ten Dylan knock-offs. Adler said "It was a natural feel for him. He's a great mimic." As one other data point, both Steve Barri and Bones Howe, the engineer who worked on most of the sessions we're looking at today, have often talked in interviews about "Eve of Destruction" as being a Sloan/Barri collaboration, as if to them it's common knowledge that it wasn't written alone, although Sloan's is the only name on the credits. The song was given to a new signing to Dunhill Records, Barry McGuire. McGuire was someone who had been part of the folk scene for years, He'd been playing folk clubs in LA while also acting in a TV show from 1961. When the TV show had finished, he'd formed a duo, Barry and Barry, with Barry Kane, and they performed much the same repertoire as all the other early-sixties folkies: [Excerpt: Barry and Barry, "If I Had a Hammer"] After recording their one album, both Barrys joined the New Christy Minstrels. We've talked about the Christys before, but they were -- and are to this day -- an ultra-commercial folk group, led by Randy Sparks, with a revolving membership of usually eight or nine singers which included several other people who've come up in this podcast, like Gene Clark and Jerry Yester. McGuire became one of the principal lead singers of the Christys, singing lead on their version of the novelty cowboy song "Three Wheels on My Wagon", which was later released as a single in the UK and became a perennial children's favourite (though it has a problematic attitude towards Native Americans): [Excerpt: The New Christy Minstrels, "Three Wheels on My Wagon"] And he also sang lead on their big hit "Green Green", which he co-wrote with Randy Sparks: [Excerpt: The New Christy Minstrels, "Green Green"] But by 1965 McGuire had left the New Christy Minstrels. As he said later "I'd sung 'Green Green' a thousand times and I didn't want to sing it again. This is January of 1965. I went back to LA to meet some producers, and I was broke. Nobody had the time of day for me. I was walking down street one time to see Dr. Strangelove and I walked by the music store, and I heard "Green Green" comin' out of the store, ya know, on Hollywood Boulevard. And I heard my voice, and I thought, 'I got four dollars in my pocket!' I couldn't believe it, my voice is comin' out on Hollywood Boulevard, and I'm broke. And right at that moment, a car pulls up, and the radio is playing 'Chim Chim Cherie" also by the Minstrels. So I got my voice comin' at me in stereo, standin' on the sidewalk there, and I'm broke, and I can't get anyone to sign me!" But McGuire had a lot of friends who he'd met on the folk scene, some of whom were now in the new folk-rock scene that was just starting to spring up. One of them was Roger McGuinn, who told him that his band, the Byrds, were just about to put out a new single, "Mr. Tambourine Man", and that they were about to start a residency at Ciro's on Sunset Strip. McGuinn invited McGuire to the opening night of that residency, where a lot of other people from the scene were there to see the new group. Bob Dylan was there, as was Phil Sloan, and the actor Jack Nicholson, who was still at the time a minor bit-part player in low-budget films made by people like American International Pictures (the cinematographer on many of Nicholson's early films was Floyd Crosby, David Crosby's father, which may be why he was there). Someone else who was there was Lou Adler, who according to McGuire recognised him instantly. According to Adler, he actually asked Terry Melcher who the long-haired dancer wearing furs was, because "he looked like the leader of a movement", and Melcher told him that he was the former lead singer of the New Christy Minstrels. Either way, Adler approached McGuire and asked if he was currently signed -- Dunhill Records was just starting up, and getting someone like McGuire, who had a proven ability to sing lead on hit records, would be a good start for the label. As McGuire didn't have a contract, he was signed to Dunhill, and he was given some of Sloan's new songs to pick from, and chose "What's Exactly the Matter With Me?" as his single: [Excerpt: Barry McGuire, "What's Exactly the Matter With Me?"] McGuire described what happened next: "It was like, a three-hour session. We did two songs, and then the third one wasn't turning out. We only had about a half hour left in the session, so I said 'Let's do this tune', and I pulled 'Eve of Destruction' out of my pocket, and it just had Phil's words scrawled on a piece of paper, all wrinkled up. Phil worked the chords out with the musicians, who were Hal Blaine on drums and Larry Knechtel on bass." There were actually more musicians than that at the session -- apparently both Knechtel and Joe Osborn were there, so I'm not entirely sure who's playing bass -- Knechtel was a keyboard player as well as a bass player, but I don't hear any keyboards on the track. And Tommy Tedesco was playing lead guitar, and Steve Barri added percussion, along with Sloan on rhythm guitar and harmonica. The chords were apparently scribbled down for the musicians on bits of greasy paper that had been used to wrap some takeaway chicken, and they got through the track in a single take. According to McGuire "I'm reading the words off this piece of wrinkled paper, and I'm singing 'My blood's so mad, feels like coagulatin'", that part that goes 'Ahhh you can't twist the truth', and the reason I'm going 'Ahhh' is because I lost my place on the page. People said 'Man, you really sounded frustrated when you were singing.' I was. I couldn't see the words!" [Excerpt: Barry McGuire, "Eve of Destruction"] With a few overdubs -- the female backing singers in the chorus, and possibly the kettledrums, which I've seen differing claims about, with some saying that Hal Blaine played them during the basic track and others saying that Lou Adler suggested them as an overdub, the track was complete. McGuire wasn't happy with his vocal, and a session was scheduled for him to redo it, but then a record promoter working with Adler was DJing a birthday party for the head of programming at KFWB, the big top forty radio station in LA at the time, and he played a few acetates he'd picked up from Adler. Most went down OK with the crowd, but when he played "Eve of Destruction", the crowd went wild and insisted he play it three times in a row. The head of programming called Adler up and told him that "Eve of Destruction" was going to be put into rotation on the station from Monday, so he'd better get the record out. As McGuire was away for the weekend, Adler just released the track as it was, and what had been intended to be a B-side became Barry McGuire's first and only number one record: [Excerpt: Barry McGuire, "Eve of Destruction"] Sloan would later claim that that song was a major reason why the twenty-sixth amendment to the US Constitution was passed six years later, because the line "you're old enough to kill but not for votin'" shamed Congress into changing the constitution to allow eighteen-year-olds to vote. If so, that would make "Eve of Destruction" arguably the single most impactful rock record in history, though Sloan is the only person I've ever seen saying that As well as going to number one in McGuire's version, the song was also covered by the other artists who regularly performed Sloan and Barri songs, like the Turtles: [Excerpt: The Turtles, "Eve of Destruction"] And Jan and Dean, whose version on Folk & Roll used the same backing track as McGuire, but had a few lyrical changes to make it fit with Jan Berry's right-wing politics, most notably changing "Selma, Alabama" to "Watts, California", thus changing a reference to peaceful civil rights protestors being brutally attacked and murdered by white supremacist state troopers to a reference to what was seen, in the popular imaginary, as Black people rioting for no reason: [Excerpt: Jan and Dean, "Eve of Destruction"] According to Sloan, he worked on the Folk & Roll album as a favour to Berry, even though he thought Berry was being cynical and exploitative in making the record, but those changes caused a rift in their friendship. Sloan said in his autobiography "Where I was completely wrong was in helping him capitalize on something in which he didn't believe. Jan wanted the public to perceive him as a person who was deeply concerned and who embraced the values of the progressive politics of the day. But he wasn't that person. That's how I was being pulled. It was when he recorded my actual song ‘Eve Of Destruction' and changed a number of lines to reflect his own ideals that my principles demanded that I leave Folk City and never return." It's true that Sloan gave no more songs to Jan and Dean after that point -- but it's also true that the duo would record only one more album, the comedy concept album Jan and Dean Meet Batman, before Jan's accident. Incidentally, the reference to Selma, Alabama in the lyric might help people decide on which story about the writing of "Eve of Destruction" they think is more plausible. Remember that Lou Adler said that it was written after Adler gave Sloan a copy of Bringing it All Back Home and told him to write a bunch of knock-offs, while Sloan said it was written after a supernatural force gave him access to all the events that would happen in the world for the next sixty years. Sloan claimed the song was written in late 1964. Selma, Alabama, became national news in late February and early March 1965. Bringing it All Back Home was released in late March 1965. So either Adler was telling the truth, or Sloan really *was* given a supernatural insight into the events of the future. Now, as it turned out, while "Eve of Destruction" went to number one, that would be McGuire's only hit as a solo artist. His next couple of singles would reach the very low end of the Hot One Hundred, and that would be it -- he'd release several more albums, before appearing in the Broadway musical Hair, most famous for its nude scenes, and getting a small part in the cinematic masterpiece Werewolves on Wheels: [Excerpt: Werewolves on Wheels trailer] P.F. Sloan would later tell various stories about why McGuire never had another hit. Sometimes he would say that Dunhill Records had received death threats because of "Eve of Destruction" and so deliberately tried to bury McGuire's career, other times he would say that Lou Adler had told him that Billboard had said they were never going to put McGuire's records on the charts no matter how well they sold, because "Eve of Destruction" had just been too powerful and upset the advertisers. But of course at this time Dunhill were still trying for a follow-up to "Eve of Destruction", and they thought they might have one when Barry McGuire brought in a few friends of his to sing backing vocals on his second album. Now, we've covered some of the history of the Mamas and the Papas already, because they were intimately tied up with other groups like the Byrds and the Lovin' Spoonful, and with the folk scene that led to songs like "Hey Joe", so some of this will be more like a recap than a totally new story, but I'm going to recap those parts of the story anyway, so it's fresh in everyone's heads. John Phillips, Scott McKenzie, and Cass Elliot all grew up in Alexandria, Virginia, just a few miles south of Washington DC. Elliot was a few years younger than Phillips and McKenzie, and so as is the way with young men they never really noticed her, and as McKenzie later said "She lived like a quarter of a mile from me and I never met her until New York". While they didn't know who Elliot was, though, she was aware who they were, as Phillips and McKenzie sang together in a vocal group called The Smoothies. The Smoothies were a modern jazz harmony group, influenced by groups like the Modernaires, the Hi-Los, and the Four Freshmen. John Phillips later said "We were drawn to jazz, because we were sort of beatniks, really, rather than hippies, or whatever, flower children. So we used to sing modern harmonies, like Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross. Dave Lambert did a lot of our arrangements for us as a matter of fact." Now, I've not seen any evidence other than Phillips' claim that Dave Lambert ever arranged for the Smoothies, but that does tell you a lot about the kind of music that they were doing. Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross were a vocalese trio whose main star was Annie Ross, who had a career worthy of an episode in itself -- she sang with Paul Whiteman, appeared in a Little Rascals film when she was seven, had an affair with Lenny Bruce, dubbed Britt Ekland's voice in The Wicker Man, played the villain's sister in Superman III, and much more. Vocalese, you'll remember, was a style of jazz vocal where a singer would take a jazz instrumental, often an improvised one, and add lyrics which they would sing, like Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross' version of "Cloudburst": [Excerpt: Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross, "Cloudburst"] Whether Dave Lambert ever really did arrange for the Smoothies or not, it's very clear that the trio had a huge influence on John Phillips' ideas about vocal arrangement, as you can hear on Mamas and Papas records like "Once Was a Time I Thought": [Excerpt: The Mamas and the Papas, "Once Was a Time I Thought"] While the Smoothies thought of themselves as a jazz group, when they signed to Decca they started out making the standard teen pop of the era, with songs like "Softly": [Excerpt, The Smoothies, "Softly"] When the folk boom started, Phillips realised that this was music that he could do easily, because the level of musicianship among the pop-folk musicians was so much lower than in the jazz world. The Smoothies made some recordings in the style of the Kingston Trio, like "Ride Ride Ride": [Excerpt: The Smoothies, "Ride Ride Ride"] Then when the Smoothies split, Phillips and McKenzie formed a trio with a banjo player, Dick Weissman, who they met through Izzy Young's Folklore Centre in Greenwich Village after Phillips asked Young to name some musicians who could make a folk record with him. Weissman was often considered the best banjo player on the scene, and was a friend of Pete Seeger's, to whom Seeger sometimes turned for banjo tips. The trio, who called themselves the Journeymen, quickly established themselves on the folk scene. Weissman later said "we had this interesting balance. John had all of this charisma -- they didn't know about the writing thing yet -- John had the personality, Scott had the voice, and I could play. If you think about it, all of those bands like the Kingston Trio, the Brothers Four, nobody could really *sing* and nobody could really *play*, relatively speaking." This is the take that most people seemed to have about John Phillips, in any band he was ever in. Nobody thought he was a particularly good singer or instrumentalist -- he could sing on key and play adequate rhythm guitar, but nobody would actually pay money to listen to him do those things. Mark Volman of the Turtles, for example, said of him "John wasn't the kind of guy who was going to be able to go up on stage and sing his songs as a singer-songwriter. He had to put himself in the context of a group." But he was charismatic, he had presence, and he also had a great musical mind. He would surround himself with the best players and best singers he could, and then he would organise and arrange them in ways that made the most of their talents. He would work out the arrangements, in a manner that was far more professional than the quick head arrangements that other folk groups used, and he instigated a level of professionalism in his groups that was not at all common on the scene. Phillips' friend Jim Mason talked about the first time he saw the Journeymen -- "They were warming up backstage, and John had all of them doing vocal exercises; one thing in particular that's pretty famous called 'Seiber Syllables' -- it's a series of vocal exercises where you enunciate different vowel and consonant sounds. It had the effect of clearing your head, and it's something that really good operetta singers do." The group were soon signed by Frank Werber, the manager of the Kingston Trio, who signed them as an insurance policy. Dave Guard, the Kingston Trio's banjo player, was increasingly having trouble with the other members, and Werber knew it was only a matter of time before he left the group. Werber wanted the Journeymen as a sort of farm team -- he had the idea that when Guard left, Phillips would join the Kingston Trio in his place as the third singer. Weissman would become the Trio's accompanist on banjo, and Scott McKenzie, who everyone agreed had a remarkable voice, would be spun off as a solo artist. But until that happened, they might as well make records by themselves. The Journeymen signed to MGM records, but were dropped before they recorded anything. They instead signed to Capitol, for whom they recorded their first album: [Excerpt: The Journeymen, "500 Miles"] After recording that album, the Journeymen moved out to California, with Phillips' wife and children. But soon Phillips' marriage was to collapse, as he met and fell in love with Michelle Gilliam. Gilliam was nine years younger than him -- he was twenty-six and she was seventeen -- and she had the kind of appearance which meant that in every interview with an older heterosexual man who knew her, that man will spend half the interview talking about how attractive he found her. Phillips soon left his wife and children, but before he did, the group had a turntable hit with "River Come Down", the B-side to "500 Miles": [Excerpt: The Journeymen, "River Come Down"] Around the same time, Dave Guard *did* leave the Kingston Trio, but the plan to split the Journeymen never happened. Instead Phillips' friend John Stewart replaced Guard -- and this soon became a new source of income for Phillips. Both Phillips and Stewart were aspiring songwriters, and they collaborated together on several songs for the Trio, including "Chilly Winds": [Excerpt: The Kingston Trio, "Chilly Winds"] Phillips became particularly good at writing songs that sounded like they could be old traditional folk songs, sometimes taking odd lines from older songs to jump-start new ones, as in "Oh Miss Mary", which he and Stewart wrote after hearing someone sing the first line of a song she couldn't remember the rest of: [Excerpt: The Kingston Trio, "Oh Miss Mary"] Phillips and Stewart became so close that Phillips actually suggested to Stewart that he quit the Kingston Trio and replace Dick Weissman in the Journeymen. Stewart did quit the Trio -- but then the next day Phillips suggested that maybe it was a bad idea and he should stay where he was. Stewart went back to the Trio, claimed he had only pretended to quit because he wanted a pay-rise, and got his raise, so everyone ended up happy. The Journeymen moved back to New York with Michelle in place of Phillips' first wife (and Michelle's sister Russell also coming along, as she was dating Scott McKenzie) and on New Year's Eve 1962 John and Michelle married -- so from this point on I will refer to them by their first names, because they both had the surname Phillips. The group continued having success through 1963, including making appearances on "Hootenanny": [Excerpt: The Journeymen, "Stack O'Lee (live on Hootenanny)"] By the time of the Journeymen's third album, though, John and Scott McKenzie were on bad terms. Weissman said "They had been the closest of friends and now they were the worst of enemies. They talked through me like I was a medium. It got to the point where we'd be standing in the dressing room and John would say to me 'Tell Scott that his right sock doesn't match his left sock...' Things like that, when they were standing five feet away from each other." Eventually, the group split up. Weissman was always going to be able to find employment given his banjo ability, and he was about to get married and didn't need the hassle of dealing with the other two. McKenzie was planning on a solo career -- everyone was agreed that he had the vocal ability. But John was another matter. He needed to be in a group. And not only that, the Journeymen had bookings they needed to complete. He quickly pulled together a group he called the New Journeymen. The core of the lineup was himself, Michelle on vocals, and banjo player Marshall Brickman. Brickman had previously been a member of a folk group called the Tarriers, who had had a revolving lineup, and had played on most of their early-sixties recordings: [Excerpt: The Tarriers, "Quinto (My Little Pony)"] We've met the Tarriers before in the podcast -- they had been formed by Erik Darling, who later replaced Pete Seeger in the Weavers after Seeger's socialist principles wouldn't let him do advertising, and Alan Arkin, later to go on to be a film star, and had had hits with "Cindy, O Cindy", with lead vocals from Vince Martin, who would later go on to be a major performer in the Greenwich Village scene, and with "The Banana Boat Song". By the time Brickman had joined, though, Darling, Arkin, and Martin had all left the group to go on to bigger things, and while he played with them for several years, it was after their commercial peak. Brickman would, though, also go on to a surprising amount of success, but as a writer rather than a musician -- he had a successful collaboration with Woody Allen in the 1970s, co-writing four of Allen's most highly regarded films -- Sleeper, Annie Hall, Manhattan, and Manhattan Murder Mystery -- and with another collaborator he later co-wrote the books for the stage musicals Jersey Boys and The Addams Family. Both John and Michelle were decent singers, and both have their admirers as vocalists -- P.F. Sloan always said that Michelle was the best singer in the group they eventually formed, and that it was her voice that gave the group its sound -- but for the most part they were not considered as particularly astonishing lead vocalists. Certainly, neither had a voice that stood out the way that Scott McKenzie's had. They needed a strong lead singer, and they found one in Denny Doherty. Now, we covered Denny Doherty's early career in the episode on the Lovin' Spoonful, because he was intimately involved in the formation of that group, so I won't go into too much detail here, but I'll give a very abbreviated version of what I said there. Doherty was a Canadian performer who had been a member of the Halifax Three with Zal Yanovsky: [Excerpt: The Halifax Three, "When I First Came to This Land"] After the Halifax Three had split up, Doherty and Yanovsky had performed as a duo for a while, before joining up with Cass Elliot and her husband Jim Hendricks, who both had previously been in the Big Three with Tim Rose: [Excerpt: Cass Elliot and the Big 3, "The Banjo Song"] Elliot, Hendricks, Yanovsky, and Doherty had formed The Mugwumps, sometimes joined by John Sebastian, and had tried to go in more of a rock direction after seeing the Beatles on Ed Sullivan. They recorded one album together before splitting up: [Excerpt: The Mugwumps, "Searchin'"] Part of the reason they split up was that interpersonal relationships within the group were put under some strain -- Elliot and Hendricks split up, though they would remain friends and remain married for several years even though they were living apart, and Elliot had an unrequited crush on Doherty. But since they'd split up, and Yanovsky and Sebastian had gone off to form the Lovin' Spoonful, that meant that Doherty was free, and he was regarded as possibly the best male lead vocalist on the circuit, so the group snapped him up. The only problem was that the Journeymen still had gigs booked that needed to be played, one of them was in just three days, and Doherty didn't know the repertoire. This was a problem with an easy solution for people in their twenties though -- they took a huge amount of amphetamines, and stayed awake for three days straight rehearsing. They made the gig, and Doherty was now the lead singer of the New Journeymen: [Excerpt: The New Journeymen, "The Last Thing on My Mind"] But the New Journeymen didn't last in that form for very long, because even before joining the group, Denny Doherty had been going in a more folk-rock direction with the Mugwumps. At the time, John Phillips thought rock and roll was kids' music, and he was far more interested in folk and jazz, but he was also very interested in making money, and he soon decided it was an idea to start listening to the Beatles. There's some dispute as to who first played the Beatles for John in early 1965 -- some claim it was Doherty, others claim it was Cass Elliot, but everyone agrees it was after Denny Doherty had introduced Phillips to something else -- he brought round some LSD for John and Michelle, and Michelle's sister Rusty, to try. And then he told them he'd invited round a friend. Michelle Phillips later remembered, "I remember saying to the guys "I don't know about you guys, but this drug does nothing for me." At that point there was a knock on the door, and as I opened the door and saw Cass, the acid hit me *over the head*. I saw her standing there in a pleated skirt, a pink Angora sweater with great big eyelashes on and her hair in a flip. And all of a sudden I thought 'This is really *quite* a drug!' It was an image I will have securely fixed in my brain for the rest of my life. I said 'Hi, I'm Michelle. We just took some LSD-25, do you wanna join us?' And she said 'Sure...'" Rusty Gilliam's description matches this -- "It was mind-boggling. She had on a white pleated skirt, false eyelashes. These were the kind of eyelashes that when you put them on you were supposed to trim them to an appropriate length, which she didn't, and when she blinked she looked like a cow, or those dolls you get when you're little and the eyes open and close. And we're on acid. Oh my God! It was a sight! And everything she was wearing were things that you weren't supposed to be wearing if you were heavy -- white pleated skirt, mohair sweater. You know, until she became famous, she suffered so much, and was poked fun at." This gets to an important point about Elliot, and one which sadly affected everything about her life. Elliot was *very* fat -- I've seen her weight listed at about three hundred pounds, and she was only five foot five tall -- and she also didn't have the kind of face that gets thought of as conventionally attractive. Her appearance would be cruelly mocked by pretty much everyone for the rest of her life, in ways that it's genuinely hurtful to read about, and which I will avoid discussing in detail in order to avoid hurting fat listeners. But the two *other* things that defined Elliot in the minds of those who knew her were her voice -- every single person who knew her talks about what a wonderful singer she was -- and her personality. I've read a lot of things about Cass Elliot, and I have never read a single negative word about her as a person, but have read many people going into raptures about what a charming, loving, friendly, understanding person she was. Michelle later said of her "From the time I left Los Angeles, I hadn't had a friend, a buddy. I was married, and John and I did not hang out with women, we just hung out with men, and especially not with women my age. John was nine years older than I was. And here was a fun-loving, intelligent woman. She captivated me. I was as close to in love with Cass as I could be to any woman in my life at that point. She also represented something to me: freedom. Everything she did was because she wanted to do it. She was completely independent and I admired her and was in awe of her. And later on, Cass would be the one to tell me not to let John run my life. And John hated her for that." Either Elliot had brought round Meet The Beatles, the Beatles' first Capitol album, for everyone to listen to, or Denny Doherty already had it, but either way Elliot and Doherty were by this time already Beatles fans. Michelle, being younger than the rest and not part of the folk scene until she met John, was much more interested in rock and roll than any of them, but because she'd been married to John for a couple of years and been part of his musical world she hadn't really encountered the Beatles music, though she had a vague memory that she might have heard a track or two on the radio. John was hesitant -- he didn't want to listen to any rock and roll, but eventually he was persuaded, and the record was put on while he was on his first acid trip: [Excerpt: The Beatles, "I Want to Hold Your Hand"] Within a month, John Phillips had written thirty songs that he thought of as inspired by the Beatles. The New Journeymen were going to go rock and roll. By this time Marshall Brickman was out of the band, and instead John, Michelle, and Denny recruited a new lead guitarist, Eric Hord. Denny started playing bass, with John on rhythm guitar, and a violinist friend of theirs, Peter Pilafian, knew a bit of drums and took on that role. The new lineup of the group used the Journeymen's credit card, which hadn't been stopped even though the Journeymen were no more, to go down to St. Thomas in the Caribbean, along with Michelle's sister, John's daughter Mackenzie (from whose name Scott McKenzie had taken his stage name, as he was born Philip Blondheim), a pet dog, and sundry band members' girlfriends. They stayed there for several months, living in tents on the beach, taking acid, and rehearsing. While they were there, Michelle and Denny started an affair which would have important ramifications for the group later. They got a gig playing at a club called Duffy's, whose address was on Creeque Alley, and soon after they started playing there Cass Elliot travelled down as well -- she was in love with Denny, and wanted to be around him. She wasn't in the group, but she got a job working at Duffy's as a waitress, and she would often sing harmony with the group while waiting at tables. Depending on who was telling the story, either she didn't want to be in the group because she didn't want her appearance to be compared to Michelle's, or John wouldn't *let* her be in the group because she was so fat. Later a story would be made up to cover for this, saying that she hadn't been in the group at first because she couldn't sing the highest notes that were needed, until she got hit on the head with a metal pipe and discovered that it had increased her range by three notes, but that seems to be a lie. One of the songs the New Journeymen were performing at this time was "Mr. Tambourine Man". They'd heard that their old friend Roger McGuinn had recorded it with his new band, but they hadn't yet heard his version, and they'd come up with their own arrangement: [Excerpt: The New Journeymen, "Mr. Tambourine Man"] Denny later said "We were doing three-part harmony on 'Mr Tambourine Man', but a lot slower... like a polka or something! And I tell John, 'No John, we gotta slow it down and give it a backbeat.' Finally we get the Byrds 45 down here, and we put it on and turn it up to ten, and John says 'Oh, like that?' Well, as you can tell, it had already been done. So John goes 'Oh, ah... that's it...' a light went on. So we started doing Beatles stuff. We dropped 'Mr Tambourine Man' after hearing the Byrds version, because there was no point." Eventually they had to leave the island -- they had completely run out of money, and were down to fifty dollars. The credit card had been cut up, and the governor of the island had a personal vendetta against them because they gave his son acid, and they were likely to get arrested if they didn't leave the island. Elliot and her then-partner had round-trip tickets, so they just left, but the rest of them were in trouble. By this point they were unwashed, they were homeless, and they'd spent their last money on stage costumes. They got to the airport, and John Phillips tried to write a cheque for eight air fares back to the mainland, which the person at the check-in desk just laughed at. So they took their last fifty dollars and went to a casino. There Michelle played craps, and she rolled seventeen straight passes, something which should be statistically impossible. She turned their fifty dollars into six thousand dollars, which they scooped up, took to the airport, and paid for their flights out in cash. The New Journeymen arrived back in New York, but quickly decided that they were going to try their luck in California. They rented a car, using Scott McKenzie's credit card, and drove out to LA. There they met up with Hoyt Axton, who you may remember as the son of Mae Axton, the writer of "Heartbreak Hotel", and as the performer who had inspired Michael Nesmith to go into folk music: [Excerpt: Hoyt Axton, "Greenback Dollar"] Axton knew the group, and fed them and put them up for a night, but they needed somewhere else to stay. They went to stay with one of Michelle's friends, but after one night their rented car was stolen, with all their possessions in it. They needed somewhere else to stay, so they went to ask Jim Hendricks if they could crash at his place -- and they were surprised to find that Cass Elliot was there already. Hendricks had another partner -- though he and Elliot wouldn't have their marriage annulled until 1968 and were still technically married -- but he'd happily invited her to stay with them. And now all her friends had turned up, he invited them to stay as well, taking apart the beds in his one-bedroom apartment so he could put down a load of mattresses in the space for everyone to sleep on. The next part becomes difficult, because pretty much everyone in the LA music scene of the sixties was a liar who liked to embellish their own roles in things, so it's quite difficult to unpick what actually happened. What seems to have happened though is that first this new rock-oriented version of the New Journeymen went to see Frank Werber, on the recommendation of John Stewart. Werber was the manager of the Kingston Trio, and had also managed the Journeymen. He, however, was not interested -- not because he didn't think they had talent, but because he had experience of working with John Phillips previously. When Phillips came into his office Werber picked up a tape that he'd been given of the group, and said "I have not had a chance to listen to this tape. I believe that you are a most talented individual, and that's why we took you on in the first place. But I also believe that you're also a drag to work with. A pain in the ass. So I'll tell you what, before whatever you have on here sways me, I'm gonna give it back to you and say that we're not interested." Meanwhile -- and this part of the story comes from Kim Fowley, who was never one to let the truth get in the way of him taking claim for everything, but parts of it at least are corroborated by other people -- Cass Elliot had called Fowley, and told him that her friends' new group sounded pretty good and he should sign them. Fowley was at that time working as a talent scout for a label, but according to him the label wouldn't give the group the money they wanted. So instead, Fowley got in touch with Nik Venet, who had just produced the Leaves' hit version of "Hey Joe" on Mira Records: [Excerpt: The Leaves, "Hey Joe"] Fowley suggested to Venet that Venet should sign the group to Mira Records, and Fowley would sign them to a publishing contract, and they could both get rich. The trio went to audition for Venet, and Elliot drove them over -- and Venet thought the group had a great look as a quartet. He wanted to sign them to a record contract, but only if Elliot was in the group as well. They agreed, he gave them a one hundred and fifty dollar advance, and told them to come back the next day to see his boss at Mira. But Barry McGuire was also hanging round with Elliot and Hendricks, and decided that he wanted to have Lou Adler hear the four of them. He thought they might be useful both as backing vocalists on his second album and as a source of new songs. He got them to go and see Lou Adler, and according to McGuire Phillips didn't want Elliot to go with them, but as Elliot was the one who was friends with McGuire, Phillips worried that they'd lose the chance with Adler if she didn't. Adler was amazed, and decided to sign the group right then and there -- both Bones Howe and P.F. Sloan claimed to have been there when the group auditioned for him and have said "if you won't sign them, I will", though exactly what Sloan would have signed them to I'm not sure. Adler paid them three thousand dollars in cash and told them not to bother with Nik Venet, so they just didn't turn up for the Mira Records audition the next day. Instead, they went into the studio with McGuire and cut backing vocals on about half of his new album: [Excerpt: Barry McGuire with the Mamas and the Papas, "Hide Your Love Away"] While the group were excellent vocalists, there were two main reasons that Adler wanted to sign them. The first was that he found Michelle Phillips extremely attractive, and the second is a song that John and Michelle had written which he thought might be very suitable for McGuire's album. Most people who knew John Phillips think of "California Dreamin'" as a solo composition, and he would later claim that he gave Michelle fifty percent just for transcribing his lyric, saying he got inspired in the middle of the night, woke her up, and got her to write the song down as he came up with it. But Michelle, who is a credited co-writer on the song, has been very insistent that she wrote the lyrics to the second verse, and that it's about her own real experiences, saying that she would often go into churches and light candles even though she was "at best an agnostic, and possibly an atheist" in her words, and this would annoy John, who had also been raised Catholic, but who had become aggressively opposed to expressions of religion, rather than still having nostalgia for the aesthetics of the church as Michelle did. They were out walking on a particularly cold winter's day in 1963, and Michelle wanted to go into St Patrick's Cathedral and John very much did not want to. A couple of nights later, John woke her up, having written the first verse of the song, starting "All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey/I went for a walk on a winter's day", and insisting she collaborate with him. She liked the song, and came up with the lines "Stopped into a church, I passed along the way/I got down on my knees and I pretend to pray/The preacher likes the cold, he knows I'm going to stay", which John would later apparently dislike, but which stayed in the song. Most sources I've seen for the recording of "California Dreamin'" say that the lineup of musicians was the standard set of players who had played on McGuire's other records, with the addition of John Phillips on twelve-string guitar -- P.F. Sloan on guitar and harmonica, Joe Osborn on bass, Larry Knechtel on keyboards, and Hal Blaine on drums, but for some reason Stephen McParland's book on Sloan has Bones Howe down as playing drums on the track while engineering -- a detail so weird, and from such a respectable researcher, that I have to wonder if it might be true. In his autobiography, Sloan claims to have rewritten the chord sequence to "California Dreamin'". He says "Barry Mann had unintentionally showed me a suspended chord back at Screen Gems. I was so impressed by this beautiful, simple chord that I called Brian Wilson and played it for him over the phone. The next thing I knew, Brian had written ‘Don't Worry Baby,' which had within it a number suspended chords. And then the chord heard 'round the world, two months later, was the opening suspended chord of ‘A Hard Day's Night.' I used these chords throughout ‘California Dreamin',' and more specifically as a bridge to get back and forth from the verse to the chorus." Now, nobody else corroborates this story, and both Brian Wilson and John Phillips had the kind of background in modern harmony that means they would have been very aware of suspended chords before either ever encountered Sloan, but I thought I should mention it. Rather more plausible is Sloan's other claim, that he came up with the intro to the song. According to Sloan, he was inspired by "Walk Don't Run" by the Ventures: [Excerpt: The Ventures, "Walk Don't Run"] And you can easily see how this: [plays "Walk Don't Run"] Can lead to this: [plays "California Dreamin'"] And I'm fairly certain that if that was the inspiration, it was Sloan who was the one who thought it up. John Phillips had been paying no attention to the world of surf music when "Walk Don't Run" had been a hit -- that had been at the point when he was very firmly in the folk world, while Sloan of course had been recording "Tell 'Em I'm Surfin'", and it had been his job to know surf music intimately. So Sloan's intro became the start of what was intended to be Barry McGuire's next single: [Excerpt: Barry McGuire, "California Dreamin'"] Sloan also provided the harmonica solo on the track: [Excerpt: Barry McGuire, "California Dreamin'"] The Mamas and the Papas -- the new name that was now given to the former New Journeymen, now they were a quartet -- were also signed to Dunhill as an act on their own, and recorded their own first single, "Go Where You Wanna Go", a song apparently written by John about Michelle, in late 1963, after she had briefly left him to have an affair with Russ Titelman, the record producer and songwriter, before coming back to him: [Excerpt: The Mamas and the Papas, "Go Where You Wanna Go"] But while that was put out, they quickly decided to scrap it and go with another song. The "Go Where You Wanna Go" single was pulled after only selling a handful of copies, though its commercial potential was later proved when in 1967 a new vocal group, the 5th Dimension, released a soundalike version as their second single. The track was produced by Lou Adler's client Johnny Rivers, and used the exact same musicians as the Mamas and the Papas version, with the exception of Phillips. It became their first hit, reaching number sixteen on the charts: [Excerpt: The 5th Dimension, "Go Where You Wanna Go"] The reason the Mamas and the Papas version of "Go Where You Wanna Go" was pulled was because everyone became convinced that their first single should instead be their own version of "California Dreamin'". This is the exact same track as McGuire's track, with just two changes. The first is that McGuire's lead vocal was replaced with Denny Doherty: [Excerpt: The Mamas and the Papas, "California Dreamin'"] Though if you listen to the stereo mix of the song and isolate the left channel, you can hear McGuire singing the lead on the first line, and occasional leakage from him elsewhere on the backing vocal track: [Excerpt: The Mamas and the Papas, "California Dreamin'"] The other change made was to replace Sloan's harmonica solo with an alto flute solo by Bud Shank, a jazz musician who we heard about in the episode on "Light My Fire", when he collaborated with Ravi Shankar on "Improvisations on the Theme From Pather Panchali": [Excerpt: Ravi Shankar, "Improvisation on the Theme From Pather Panchali"] Shank was working on another session in Western Studios, where they were recording the Mamas and Papas track, and Bones Howe approached him while he was packing his instrument and asked if he'd be interested in doing another session. Shank agreed, though the track caused problems for him. According to Shank "What had happened was that whe
On this episode of The It's Only Rock And Roll Podcast, singer, songwriter, guitarist, and founding member of the legendary band Traffic, DAVE MASON talks about his sometimes-tumultuous tenure with the band, and how moving from England to the United States over fifty years ago introduced him to a slew of like-minded musicians from Gram Parsons to Cass Elliot. Mason also discusses his session work with Jimi Hendrix, Paul McCartney & Wings, George Harrison, and The Rolling Stones, as well as his songs “Feelin Alright”, “Only You Know And I Know” and “We Just Disagree”. Additionally, Dave talks about his latest tour (including one particularly scary on-stage moment from a few years back), the state of radio in an online world, working with the King of Pop, and even a bit of politics gets thrown in the mix. ------------------------------------------------ ֎ For more on Dave Mason (including TOUR DATES): https://www.davemasonmusic.com/ ֎ Pre-Order Dave Mason's autobiography “Only You Know and I Know” (Due 2023) - https://www.amazon.com/dp/1947026828 Visit the 'It's Only Rock And Roll PODCAST' online at: ● Homepage – www.ItsOnlyRockAndRollPodcast.com ● Facebook – facebook.com/ItsOnlyRockAndRollPodcast/ ● YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCFB7uJ3dg4IKSxsNny9Jiw/videos ● Audea.io - https://audea.io/ ● Instagram - @itsonlyrockandrollpodcast Be sure to check out our all-new OFFICIAL IORR PODCAST STORE! https://www.cafepress.com/iorrpodcast © 2022 Howlaround Productions. All rights reserved.
On the July 29 edition of Music History Today podcast, Gram Parsons quits over principle, Cream debuts, and Cass Elliot passes away and it was NOT by choking on a ham sandwich. Plus, it's Geddy Lee's birthday!! ALL MY LINKS - https://allmylinks.com/musichistorytoday --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/musichistorytodaypodcast/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/musichistorytodaypodcast/support
Over 50 bands and entertainers have covered Dave Mason's delicious pop hit from the 60s. "Feeling' Alright, which he wrote at age 19. He played on Hendrix's All Along the Watchtower and dozens and dozens of hits for everyone from George Harrison to Michael Jackson. Cass Elliot to Paul McCartney. Pop royalty indeed!
July 29th 1974. Singer Cass Elliot was found dead in a London flat. She was 32 years old and her death shocked the world. One of the most memorable figures of the hippie music scene, Elliot rose to fame in the The Mamas and The Papas, who took the world by storm with their harmonies in hits like ‘California Dreamin'. But her death fueled speculation and rumor. Was it an overdose, a complication caused by obesity? Or were the reports that she choked on a ham sandwich true? World renowned Medical Examiner Dr. Michael Hunter cuts through the speculation and takes a fresh look at the evidence to find out what really killed Cass Elliot. Like what you hear and want more true crime and mystery? Go to https://www.reelz.com/podcasts/
July 29th 1974. Singer Cass Elliot was found dead in a London flat. She was 32 years old and her death shocked the world. One of the most memorable figures of the hippie music scene, Elliot rose to fame in the The Mamas and The Papas, who took the world by storm with their harmonies in hits like ‘California Dreamin'. But her death fueled speculation and rumor. Was it an overdose, a complication caused by obesity? Or were the reports that she choked on a ham sandwich true? World renowned Medical Examiner Dr. Michael Hunter cuts through the speculation and takes a fresh look at the evidence to find out what really killed Cass Elliot. Like what you hear and want more true crime and mystery? Go to https://www.reelz.com/podcasts/
Episode one hundred and forty-seven of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at “Hey Joe" by the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and is the longest episode to date, at over two hours. Patreon backers also have a twenty-two-minute bonus episode available, on "Making Time" by The Creation. 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, I've put together a Mixcloud mix containing all the music excerpted in this episode. For information on the Byrds, I relied mostly on Timeless Flight Revisited by Johnny Rogan, with some information from Chris Hillman's autobiography. Information on Arthur Lee and Love came from Forever Changes: Arthur Lee and the Book of Love by John Einarson, and Arthur Lee: Alone Again Or by Barney Hoskyns. Information on Gary Usher's work with the Surfaris and the Sons of Adam came from The California Sound by Stephen McParland, which can be found at https://payhip.com/CMusicBooks Information on Jimi Hendrix came from Room Full of Mirrors by Charles R. Cross, Crosstown Traffic by Charles Shaar Murray, and Wild Thing by Philip Norman. Information on the history of "Hey Joe" itself came from all these sources plus Hey Joe: The Unauthorised Biography of a Rock Classic by Marc Shapiro, though note that most of that book is about post-1967 cover versions. Most of the pre-Experience session work by Jimi Hendrix I excerpt in this episode is on this box set of alternate takes and live recordings. And "Hey Joe" can be found on Are You Experienced? Patreon This podcast is brought to you by the generosity of my backers on Patreon. Why not join them? Transcript Just a quick note before we start – this episode deals with a song whose basic subject is a man murdering a woman, and that song also contains references to guns, and in some versions to cocaine use. Some versions excerpted also contain misogynistic slurs. If those things are likely to upset you, please skip this episode, as the whole episode focusses on that song. I would hope it goes without saying that I don't approve of misogyny, intimate partner violence, or murder, and my discussing a song does not mean I condone acts depicted in its lyrics, and the episode itself deals with the writing and recording of the song rather than its subject matter, but it would be impossible to talk about the record without excerpting the song. The normalisation of violence against women in rock music lyrics is a subject I will come back to, but did not have room for in what is already a very long episode. Anyway, on with the show. Let's talk about the folk process, shall we? We've talked before, like in the episodes on "Stagger Lee" and "Ida Red", about how there are some songs that aren't really individual songs in themselves, but are instead collections of related songs that might happen to share a name, or a title, or a story, or a melody, but which might be different in other ways. There are probably more songs that are like this than songs that aren't, and it doesn't just apply to folk songs, although that's where we see it most notably. You only have to look at the way a song like "Hound Dog" changed from the Willie Mae Thornton version to the version by Elvis, which only shared a handful of words with the original. Songs change, and recombine, and everyone who sings them brings something different to them, until they change in ways that nobody could have predicted, like a game of telephone. But there usually remains a core, an archetypal story or idea which remains constant no matter how much the song changes. Like Stagger Lee shooting Billy in a bar over a hat, or Frankie killing her man -- sometimes the man is Al, sometimes he's Johnny, but he always done her wrong. And one of those stories is about a man who shoots his cheating woman with a forty-four, and tries to escape -- sometimes to a town called Jericho, and sometimes to Juarez, Mexico. The first version of this song we have a recording of is by Clarence Ashley, in 1929, a recording of an older folk song that was called, in his version, "Little Sadie": [Excerpt: Clarence Ashley, "Little Sadie"] At some point, somebody seems to have noticed that that song has a slight melodic similarity to another family of songs, the family known as "Cocaine Blues" or "Take a Whiff on Me", which was popular around the same time: [Excerpt: The Memphis Jug Band, "Cocaine Habit Blues"] And so the two songs became combined, and the protagonist of "Little Sadie" now had a reason to kill his woman -- a reason other than her cheating, that is. He had taken a shot of cocaine before shooting her. The first recording of this version, under the name "Cocaine Blues" seems to have been a Western Swing version by W. A. Nichol's Western Aces: [Excerpt: W.A. Nichol's Western Aces, "Cocaine Blues"] Woody Guthrie recorded a version around the same time -- I've seen different dates and so don't know for sure if it was before or after Nichol's version -- and his version had himself credited as songwriter, and included this last verse which doesn't seem to appear on any earlier recordings of the song: [Excerpt: Woody Guthrie, "Cocaine Blues"] That doesn't appear on many later recordings either, but it did clearly influence yet another song -- Mose Allison's classic jazz number "Parchman Farm": [Excerpt: Mose Allison, "Parchman Farm"] The most famous recordings of the song, though, were by Johnny Cash, who recorded it as both "Cocaine Blues" and as "Transfusion Blues". In Cash's version of the song, the murderer gets sentenced to "ninety-nine years in the Folsom pen", so it made sense that Cash would perform that on his most famous album, the live album of his January 1968 concerts at Folsom Prison, which revitalised his career after several years of limited success: [Excerpt: Johnny Cash, "Cocaine Blues (live at Folsom Prison)"] While that was Cash's first live recording at a prison, though, it wasn't the first show he played at a prison -- ever since the success of his single "Folsom Prison Blues" he'd been something of a hero to prisoners, and he had been doing shows in prisons for eleven years by the time of that recording. And on one of those shows he had as his support act a man named Billy Roberts, who performed his own song which followed the same broad outlines as "Cocaine Blues" -- a man with a forty-four who goes out to shoot his woman and then escapes to Mexico. Roberts was an obscure folk singer, who never had much success, but who was good with people. He'd been part of the Greenwich Village folk scene in the 1950s, and at a gig at Gerde's Folk City he'd met a woman named Niela Miller, an aspiring songwriter, and had struck up a relationship with her. Miller only ever wrote one song that got recorded by anyone else, a song called "Mean World Blues" that was recorded by Dave Van Ronk: [Excerpt: Dave Van Ronk, "Mean World Blues"] Now, that's an original song, but it does bear a certain melodic resemblance to another old folk song, one known as "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?" or "In the Pines", or sometimes "Black Girl": [Excerpt: Lead Belly, "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?"] Miller was clearly familiar with the tradition from which "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?" comes -- it's a type of folk song where someone asks a question and then someone else answers it, and this repeats, building up a story. This is a very old folk song format, and you hear it for example in "Lord Randall", the song on which Bob Dylan based "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall": [Excerpt: Ewan MacColl, "Lord Randall"] I say she was clearly familiar with it, because the other song she wrote that anyone's heard was based very much around that idea. "Baby Please Don't Go To Town" is a question-and-answer song in precisely that form, but with an unusual chord progression for a folk song. You may remember back in the episode on "Eight Miles High" I talked about the circle of fifths -- a chord progression which either increases or decreases by a fifth for every chord, so it might go C-G-D-A-E [demonstrates] That's a common progression in pop and jazz, but not really so much in folk, but it's the one that Miller had used for "Baby, Please Don't Go to Town", and she'd taught Roberts that song, which she only recorded much later: [Excerpt: Niela Miller, "Baby, Please Don't Go To Town"] After Roberts and Miller broke up, Miller kept playing that melody, but he changed the lyrics. The lyrics he added had several influences. There was that question-and-answer folk-song format, there's the story of "Cocaine Blues" with its protagonist getting a forty-four to shoot his woman down before heading to Mexico, and there's also a country hit from 1953. "Hey, Joe!" was originally recorded by Carl Smith, one of the most popular country singers of the early fifties: [Excerpt: Carl Smith, "Hey Joe!"] That was written by Boudleaux Bryant, a few years before the songs he co-wrote for the Everly Brothers, and became a country number one, staying at the top for eight weeks. It didn't make the pop chart, but a pop cover version of it by Frankie Laine made the top ten in the US: [Excerpt: Frankie Laine, "Hey Joe"] Laine's record did even better in the UK, where it made number one, at a point where Laine was the biggest star in music in Britain -- at the time the UK charts only had a top twelve, and at one point four of the singles in the top twelve were by Laine, including that one. There was also an answer record by Kitty Wells which made the country top ten later that year: [Excerpt: Kitty Wells, "Hey Joe"] Oddly, despite it being a very big hit, that "Hey Joe" had almost no further cover versions for twenty years, though it did become part of the Searchers' setlist, and was included on their Live at the Star Club album in 1963, in an arrangement that owed a lot to "What'd I Say": [Excerpt: The Searchers, "Hey Joe"] But that song was clearly on Roberts' mind when, as so many American folk musicians did, he travelled to the UK in the late fifties and became briefly involved in the burgeoning UK folk movement. In particular, he spent some time with a twelve-string guitar player from Edinburgh called Len Partridge, who was also a mentor to Bert Jansch, and who was apparently an extraordinary musician, though I know of no recordings of his work. Partridge helped Roberts finish up the song, though Partridge is about the only person in this story who *didn't* claim a writing credit for it at one time or another, saying that he just helped Roberts out and that Roberts deserved all the credit. The first known recording of the completed song is from 1962, a few years after Roberts had returned to the US, though it didn't surface until decades later: [Excerpt: Billy Roberts, "Hey Joe"] Roberts was performing this song regularly on the folk circuit, and around the time of that recording he also finally got round to registering the copyright, several years after it was written. When Miller heard the song, she was furious, and she later said "Imagine my surprise when I heard Hey Joe by Billy Roberts. There was my tune, my chord progression, my question/answer format. He dropped the bridge that was in my song and changed it enough so that the copyright did not protect me from his plagiarism... I decided not to go through with all the complications of dealing with him. He never contacted me about it or gave me any credit. He knows he committed a morally reprehensible act. He never was man enough to make amends and apologize to me, or to give credit for the inspiration. Dealing with all that was also why I made the decision not to become a professional songwriter. It left a bad taste in my mouth.” Pete Seeger, a friend of Miller's, was outraged by the injustice and offered to testify on her behalf should she decide to take Roberts to court, but she never did. Some time around this point, Roberts also played on that prison bill with Johnny Cash, and what happened next is hard to pin down. I've read several different versions of the story, which change the date and which prison this was in, and none of the details in any story hang together properly -- everything introduces weird inconsistencies and things which just make no sense at all. Something like this basic outline of the story seems to have happened, but the outline itself is weird, and we'll probably never know the truth. Roberts played his set, and one of the songs he played was "Hey Joe", and at some point he got talking to one of the prisoners in the audience, Dino Valenti. We've met Valenti before, in the episode on "Mr. Tambourine Man" -- he was a singer/songwriter himself, and would later be the lead singer of Quicksilver Messenger Service, but he's probably best known for having written "Get Together": [Excerpt: Dino Valenti, "Get Together"] As we heard in the "Mr. Tambourine Man" episode, Valenti actually sold off his rights to that song to pay for his bail at one point, but he was in and out of prison several times because of drug busts. At this point, or so the story goes, he was eligible for parole, but he needed to prove he had a possible income when he got out, and one way he wanted to do that was to show that he had written a song that could be a hit he could make money off, but he didn't have such a song. He talked about his predicament with Roberts, who agreed to let him claim to have written "Hey Joe" so he could get out of prison. He did make that claim, and when he got out of prison he continued making the claim, and registered the copyright to "Hey Joe" in his own name -- even though Roberts had already registered it -- and signed a publishing deal for it with Third Story Music, a company owned by Herb Cohen, the future manager of the Mothers of Invention, and Cohen's brother Mutt. Valenti was a popular face on the folk scene, and he played "his" song to many people, but two in particular would influence the way the song would develop, both of them people we've seen relatively recently in episodes of the podcast. One of them, Vince Martin, we'll come back to later, but the other was David Crosby, and so let's talk about him and the Byrds a bit more. Crosby and Valenti had been friends long before the Byrds formed, and indeed we heard in the "Mr. Tambourine Man" episode how the group had named themselves after Valenti's song "Birdses": [Excerpt: Dino Valenti, "Birdses"] And Crosby *loved* "Hey Joe", which he believed was another of Valenti's songs. He'd perform it every chance he got, playing it solo on guitar in an arrangement that other people have compared to Mose Allison. He'd tried to get it on the first two Byrds albums, but had been turned down, mostly because of their manager and uncredited co-producer Jim Dickson, who had strong opinions about it, saying later "Some of the songs that David would bring in from the outside were perfectly valid songs for other people, but did not seem to be compatible with the Byrds' myth. And he may not have liked the Byrds' myth. He fought for 'Hey Joe' and he did it. As long as I could say 'No!' I did, and when I couldn't any more they did it. You had to give him something somewhere. I just wish it was something else... 'Hey Joe' I was bitterly opposed to. A song about a guy who murders his girlfriend in a jealous rage and is on the way to Mexico with a gun in his hand. It was not what I saw as a Byrds song." Indeed, Dickson was so opposed to the song that he would later say “One of the reasons David engineered my getting thrown out was because I would not let Hey Joe be on the Turn! Turn! Turn! album.” Dickson was, though, still working with the band when they got round to recording it. That came during the recording of their Fifth Dimension album, the album which included "Eight Miles High". That album was mostly recorded after the departure of Gene Clark, which was where we left the group at the end of the "Eight Miles High" episode, and the loss of their main songwriter meant that they were struggling for material -- doubly so since they also decided they were going to move away from Dylan covers. This meant that they had to rely on original material from the group's less commercial songwriters, and on a few folk songs, mostly learned from Pete Seeger The album ended up with only eleven songs on it, compared to the twelve that was normal for American albums at that time, and the singles on it after "Eight Miles High" weren't particularly promising as to the group's ability to come up with commercial material. The next single, "5D", a song by Roger McGuinn about the fifth dimension, was a waltz-time song that both Crosby and Chris Hillman were enthused by. It featured organ by Van Dyke Parks, and McGuinn said of the organ part "When he came into the studio I told him to think Bach. He was already thinking Bach before that anyway.": [Excerpt: The Byrds, "5D"] While the group liked it, though, that didn't make the top forty. The next single did, just about -- a song that McGuinn had written as an attempt at communicating with alien life. He hoped that it would be played on the radio, and that the radio waves would eventually reach aliens, who would hear it and respond: [Excerpt: The Byrds, "Mr. Spaceman"] The "Fifth Dimension" album did significantly worse, both critically and commercially, than their previous albums, and the group would soon drop Allen Stanton, the producer, in favour of Gary Usher, Brian Wilson's old songwriting partner. But the desperation for material meant that the group agreed to record the song which they still thought at that time had been written by Crosby's friend, though nobody other than Crosby was happy with it, and even Crosby later said "It was a mistake. I shouldn't have done it. Everybody makes mistakes." McGuinn said later "The reason Crosby did lead on 'Hey Joe' was because it was *his* song. He didn't write it but he was responsible for finding it. He'd wanted to do it for years but we would never let him.": [Excerpt: The Byrds, "Hey Joe"] Of course, that arrangement is very far from the Mose Allison style version Crosby had been doing previously. And the reason for that can be found in the full version of that McGuinn quote, because the full version continues "He'd wanted to do it for years but we would never let him. Then both Love and The Leaves had a minor hit with it and David got so angry that we had to let him do it. His version wasn't that hot because he wasn't a strong lead vocalist." The arrangement we just heard was the arrangement that by this point almost every group on the Sunset Strip scene was playing. And the reason for that was because of another friend of Crosby's, someone who had been a roadie for the Byrds -- Bryan MacLean. MacLean and Crosby had been very close because they were both from very similar backgrounds -- they were both Hollywood brats with huge egos. MacLean later said "Crosby and I got on perfectly. I didn't understand what everybody was complaining about, because he was just like me!" MacLean was, if anything, from an even more privileged background than Crosby. His father was an architect who'd designed houses for Elizabeth Taylor and Dean Martin, his neighbour when growing up was Frederick Loewe, the composer of My Fair Lady. He learned to swim in Elizabeth Taylor's private pool, and his first girlfriend was Liza Minelli. Another early girlfriend was Jackie DeShannon, the singer-songwriter who did the original version of "Needles and Pins", who he was introduced to by Sharon Sheeley, whose name you will remember from many previous episodes. MacLean had wanted to be an artist until his late teens, when he walked into a shop in Westwood which sometimes sold his paintings, the Sandal Shop, and heard some people singing folk songs there. He decided he wanted to be a folk singer, and soon started performing at the Balladeer, a club which would later be renamed the Troubadour, playing songs like Robert Johnson's "Cross Roads Blues", which had recently become a staple of the folk repertoire after John Hammond put out the King of the Delta Blues Singers album: [Excerpt: Robert Johnson, "Cross Roads Blues"] Reading interviews with people who knew MacLean at the time, the same phrase keeps coming up. John Kay, later the lead singer of Steppenwolf, said "There was a young kid, Bryan MacLean, kind of cocky but nonetheless a nice kid, who hung around Crosby and McGuinn" while Chris Hillman said "He was a pretty good kid but a wee bit cocky." He was a fan of the various musicians who later formed the Byrds, and was also an admirer of a young guitarist on the scene named Ryland Cooder, and of a blues singer on the scene named Taj Mahal. He apparently was briefly in a band with Taj Mahal, called Summer's Children, who as far as I can tell had no connection to the duo that Curt Boettcher later formed of the same name, before Taj Mahal and Cooder formed The Rising Sons, a multi-racial blues band who were for a while the main rivals to the Byrds on the scene. MacLean, though, firmly hitched himself to the Byrds, and particularly to Crosby. He became a roadie on their first tour, and Hillman said "He was a hard-working guy on our behalf. As I recall, he pretty much answered to Crosby and was David's assistant, to put it diplomatically – more like his gofer, in fact." But MacLean wasn't cut out for the hard work that being a roadie required, and after being the Byrds' roadie for about thirty shows, he started making mistakes, and when they went off on their UK tour they decided not to keep employing him. He was heartbroken, but got back into trying his own musical career. He auditioned for the Monkees, unsuccessfully, but shortly after that -- some sources say even the same day as the audition, though that seems a little too neat -- he went to Ben Frank's -- the LA hangout that had actually been namechecked in the open call for Monkees auditions, which said they wanted "Ben Franks types", and there he met Arthur Lee and Johnny Echols. Echols would later remember "He was this gadfly kind of character who knew everybody and was flitting from table to table. He wore striped pants and a scarf, and he had this long, strawberry hair. All the girls loved him. For whatever reason, he came and sat at our table. Of course, Arthur and I were the only two black people there at the time." Lee and Echols were both Black musicians who had been born in Memphis. Lee's birth father, Chester Taylor, had been a cornet player with Jimmie Lunceford, whose Delta Rhythm Boys had had a hit with "The Honeydripper", as we heard way back in the episode on "Rocket '88": [Excerpt: Jimmie Lunceford and the Delta Rhythm Boys, "The Honeydripper"] However, Taylor soon split from Lee's mother, a schoolteacher, and she married Clinton Lee, a stonemason, who doted on his adopted son, and they moved to California. They lived in a relatively prosperous area of LA, a neighbourhood that was almost all white, with a few Asian families, though the boxer Sugar Ray Robinson lived nearby. A year or so after Arthur and his mother moved to LA, so did the Echols family, who had known them in Memphis, and they happened to move only a couple of streets away. Eight year old Arthur Lee reconnected with seven-year-old Johnny Echols, and the two became close friends from that point on. Arthur Lee first started out playing music when his parents were talked into buying him an accordion by a salesman who would go around with a donkey, give kids free donkey rides, and give the parents a sales pitch while they were riding the donkey, He soon gave up on the accordion and persuaded his parents to buy him an organ instead -- he was a spoiled child, by all accounts, with a TV in his bedroom, which was almost unheard of in the late fifties. Johnny Echols had a similar experience which led to his parents buying him a guitar, and the two were growing up in a musical environment generally. They attended Dorsey High School at the same time as both Billy Preston and Mike Love of the Beach Boys, and Ella Fitzgerald and her then-husband, the great jazz bass player Ray Brown, lived in the same apartment building as the Echols family for a while. Ornette Coleman, the free-jazz saxophone player, lived next door to Echols, and Adolphus Jacobs, the guitarist with the Coasters, gave him guitar lessons. Arthur Lee also knew Johnny Otis, who ran a pigeon-breeding club for local children which Arthur would attend. Echols was the one who first suggested that he and Arthur should form a band, and they put together a group to play at a school talent show, performing "Last Night", the instrumental that had been a hit for the Mar-Keys on Stax records: [Excerpt: The Mar-Keys, "Last Night"] They soon became a regular group, naming themselves Arthur Lee and the LAGs -- the LA Group, in imitation of Booker T and the MGs – the Memphis Group. At some point around this time, Lee decided to switch from playing organ to playing guitar. He would say later that this was inspired by seeing Johnny "Guitar" Watson get out of a gold Cadillac, wearing a gold suit, and with gold teeth in his mouth. The LAGs started playing as support acts and backing bands for any blues and soul acts that came through LA, performing with Big Mama Thornton, Johnny Otis, the O'Jays, and more. Arthur and Johnny were both still under-age, and they would pencil in fake moustaches to play the clubs so they'd appear older. In the fifties and early sixties, there were a number of great electric guitar players playing blues on the West Coast -- Johnny "Guitar" Watson, T-Bone Walker, Guitar Slim, and others -- and they would compete with each other not only to play well, but to put on a show, and so there was a whole bag of stage tricks that West Coast R&B guitarists picked up, and Echols learned all of them -- playing his guitar behind his back, playing his guitar with his teeth, playing with his guitar between his legs. As well as playing their own shows, the LAGs also played gigs under other names -- they had a corrupt agent who would book them under the name of whatever Black group had a hit at the time, in the belief that almost nobody knew what popular groups looked like anyway, so they would go out and perform as the Drifters or the Coasters or half a dozen other bands. But Arthur Lee in particular wanted to have success in his own right. He would later say "When I was a little boy I would listen to Nat 'King' Cole and I would look at that purple Capitol Records logo. I wanted to be on Capitol, that was my goal. Later on I used to walk from Dorsey High School all the way up to the Capitol building in Hollywood -- did that many times. I was determined to get a record deal with Capitol, and I did, without the help of a fancy manager or anyone else. I talked to Adam Ross and Jack Levy at Ardmore-Beechwood. I talked to Kim Fowley, and then I talked to Capitol". The record that the LAGs released, though, was not very good, a track called "Rumble-Still-Skins": [Excerpt: The LAGs, "Rumble-Still-Skins"] Lee later said "I was young and very inexperienced and I was testing the record company. I figured if I gave them my worst stuff and they ripped me off I wouldn't get hurt. But it didn't work, and after that I started giving my best, and I've been doing that ever since." The LAGs were dropped by Capitol after one single, and for the next little while Arthur and Johnny did work for smaller labels, usually labels owned by Bob Keane, with Arthur writing and producing and Johnny playing guitar -- though Echols has said more recently that a lot of the songs that were credited to Arthur as sole writer were actually joint compositions. Most of these records were attempts at copying the style of other people. There was "I Been Trying", a Phil Spector soundalike released by Little Ray: [Excerpt: Little Ray, "I Been Trying"] And there were a few attempts at sounding like Curtis Mayfield, like "Slow Jerk" by Ronnie and the Pomona Casuals: [Excerpt: Ronnie and the Pomona Casuals, "Slow Jerk"] and "My Diary" by Rosa Lee Brooks: [Excerpt: Rosa Lee Brooks, "My Diary"] Echols was also playing with a lot of other people, and one of the musicians he was playing with, his old school friend Billy Preston, told him about a recent European tour he'd been on with Little Richard, and the band from Liverpool he'd befriended while he was there who idolised Richard, so when the Beatles hit America, Arthur and Johnny had some small amount of context for them. They soon broke up the LAGs and formed another group, the American Four, with two white musicians, bass player John Fleckenstein and drummer Don Costa. Lee had them wear wigs so they seemed like they had longer hair, and started dressing more eccentrically -- he would soon become known for wearing glasses with one blue lens and one red one, and, as he put it "wearing forty pounds of beads, two coats, three shirts, and wearing two pairs of shoes on one foot". As well as the Beatles, the American Four were inspired by the other British Invasion bands -- Arthur was in the audience for the TAMI show, and quite impressed by Mick Jagger -- and also by the Valentinos, Bobby Womack's group. They tried to get signed to SAR Records, the label owned by Sam Cooke for which the Valentinos recorded, but SAR weren't interested, and they ended up recording for Bob Keane's Del-Fi records, where they cut "Luci Baines", a "Twist and Shout" knock-off with lyrics referencing the daughter of new US President Lyndon Johnson: [Excerpt: The American Four, "Luci Baines"] But that didn't take off any more than the earlier records had. Another American Four track, "Stay Away", was recorded but went unreleased until 2006: [Excerpt: Arthur Lee and the American Four, "Stay Away"] Soon the American Four were changing their sound and name again. This time it was because of two bands who were becoming successful on the Sunset Strip. One was the Byrds, who to Lee's mind were making music like the stuff he heard in his head, and the other was their rivals the Rising Sons, the blues band we mentioned earlier with Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder. Lee was very impressed by them as an multiracial band making aggressive, loud, guitar music, though he would always make the point when talking about them that they were a blues band, not a rock band, and *he* had the first multiracial rock band. Whatever they were like live though, in their recordings, produced by the Byrds' first producer Terry Melcher, the Rising Sons often had the same garage band folk-punk sound that Lee and Echols would soon make their own: [Excerpt: The Rising Sons, "Take a Giant Step"] But while the Rising Sons recorded a full album's worth of material, only one single was released before they split up, and so the way was clear for Lee and Echols' band, now renamed once again to The Grass Roots, to become the Byrds' new challengers. Lee later said "I named the group The Grass Roots behind a trip, or an album I heard that Malcolm X did, where he said 'the grass roots of the people are out in the street doing something about their problems instead of sitting around talking about it'". After seeing the Rolling Stones and the Byrds live, Lee wanted to get up front and move like Mick Jagger, and not be hindered by playing a guitar he wasn't especially good at -- both the Stones and the Byrds had two guitarists and a frontman who just sang and played hand percussion, and these were the models that Lee was following for the group. He also thought it would be a good idea commercially to get a good-looking white boy up front. So the group got in another guitarist, a white pretty boy who Lee soon fell out with and gave the nickname "Bummer Bob" because he was unpleasant to be around. Those of you who know exactly why Bobby Beausoleil later became famous will probably agree that this was a more than reasonable nickname to give him (and those of you who don't, I'll be dealing with him when we get to 1969). So when Bryan MacLean introduced himself to Lee and Echols, and they found out that not only was he also a good-looking white guitarist, but he was also friends with the entire circle of hipsters who'd been going to Byrds gigs, people like Vito and Franzoni, and he could get a massive crowd of them to come along to gigs for any band he was in and make them the talk of the Sunset Strip scene, he was soon in the Grass Roots, and Bummer Bob was out. The Grass Roots soon had to change their name again, though. In 1965, Jan and Dean recorded their "Folk and Roll" album, which featured "The Universal Coward"... Which I am not going to excerpt again. I only put that pause in to terrify Tilt, who edits these podcasts, and has very strong opinions about that song. But P. F. Sloan and Steve Barri, the songwriters who also performed as the Fantastic Baggies, had come up with a song for that album called "Where Where You When I Needed You?": [Excerpt: Jan and Dean, "Where Were You When I Needed You?"] Sloan and Barri decided to cut their own version of that song under a fake band name, and then put together a group of other musicians to tour as that band. They just needed a name, and Lou Adler, the head of Dunhill Records, suggested they call themselves The Grass Roots, and so that's what they did: [Excerpt: The Grass Roots, "Where Were You When I Needed You?"] Echols would later claim that this was deliberate malice on Adler's part -- that Adler had come in to a Grass Roots show drunk, and pretended to be interested in signing them to a contract, mostly to show off to a woman he'd brought with him. Echols and MacLean had spoken to him, not known who he was, and he'd felt disrespected, and Echols claims that he suggested the name to get back at them, and also to capitalise on their local success. The new Grass Roots soon started having hits, and so the old band had to find another name, which they got as a joking reference to a day job Lee had had at one point -- he'd apparently worked in a specialist bra shop, Luv Brassieres, which the rest of the band found hilarious. The Grass Roots became Love. While Arthur Lee was the group's lead singer, Bryan MacLean would often sing harmonies, and would get a song or two to sing live himself. And very early in the group's career, when they were playing a club called Bido Lito's, he started making his big lead spot a version of "Hey Joe", which he'd learned from his old friend David Crosby, and which soon became the highlight of the group's set. Their version was sped up, and included the riff which the Searchers had popularised in their cover version of "Needles and Pins", the song originally recorded by MacLean's old girlfriend Jackie DeShannon: [Excerpt: The Searchers, "Needles and Pins"] That riff is a very simple one to play, and variants of it became very, very, common among the LA bands, most notably on the Byrds' "I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better": [Excerpt: The Byrds, "I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better"] The riff was so ubiquitous in the LA scene that in the late eighties Frank Zappa would still cite it as one of his main memories of the scene. I'm going to quote from his autobiography, where he's talking about the differences between the LA scene he was part of and the San Francisco scene he had no time for: "The Byrds were the be-all and end-all of Los Angeles rock then. They were 'It' -- and then a group called Love was 'It.' There were a few 'psychedelic' groups that never really got to be 'It,' but they could still find work and get record deals, including the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, Sky Saxon and the Seeds, and the Leaves (noted for their cover version of "Hey, Joe"). When we first went to San Francisco, in the early days of the Family Dog, it seemed that everybody was wearing the same costume, a mixture of Barbary Coast and Old West -- guys with handlebar mustaches, girls in big bustle dresses with feathers in their hair, etc. By contrast, the L.A. costumery was more random and outlandish. Musically, the northern bands had a little more country style. In L.A., it was folk-rock to death. Everything had that" [and here Zappa uses the adjectival form of a four-letter word beginning with 'f' that the main podcast providers don't like you saying on non-adult-rated shows] "D chord down at the bottom of the neck where you wiggle your finger around -- like 'Needles and Pins.'" The reason Zappa describes it that way, and the reason it became so popular, is that if you play that riff in D, the chords are D, Dsus2, and Dsus4 which means you literally only wiggle one finger on your left hand: [demonstrates] And so you get that on just a ton of records from that period, though Love, the Byrds, and the Searchers all actually play the riff on A rather than D: [demonstrates] So that riff became the Big Thing in LA after the Byrds popularised the Searchers sound there, and Love added it to their arrangement of "Hey Joe". In January 1966, the group would record their arrangement of it for their first album, which would come out in March: [Excerpt: Love, "Hey Joe"] But that wouldn't be the first recording of the song, or of Love's arrangement of it – although other than the Byrds' version, it would be the only one to come out of LA with the original Billy Roberts lyrics. Love's performances of the song at Bido Lito's had become the talk of the Sunset Strip scene, and soon every band worth its salt was copying it, and it became one of those songs like "Louie Louie" before it that everyone would play. The first record ever made with the "Hey Joe" melody actually had totally different lyrics. Kim Fowley had the idea of writing a sequel to "Hey Joe", titled "Wanted Dead or Alive", about what happened after Joe shot his woman and went off. He produced the track for The Rogues, a group consisting of Michael Lloyd and Shaun Harris, who later went on to form the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, and Lloyd and Harris were the credited writers: [Excerpt: The Rogues, "Wanted Dead or Alive"] The next version of the song to come out was the first by anyone to be released as "Hey Joe", or at least as "Hey Joe, Where You Gonna Go?", which was how it was titled on its initial release. This was by a band called The Leaves, who were friends of Love, and had picked up on "Hey Joe", and was produced by Nik Venet. It was also the first to have the now-familiar opening line "Hey Joe, where you going with that gun in your hand?": [Excerpt: The Leaves, "Hey Joe Where You Gonna Go?"] Roberts' original lyric, as sung by both Love and the Byrds, had been "where you going with that money in your hand?", and had Joe headed off to *buy* the gun. But as Echols later said “What happened was Bob Lee from The Leaves, who were friends of ours, asked me for the words to 'Hey Joe'. I told him I would have the words the next day. I decided to write totally different lyrics. The words you hear on their record are ones I wrote as a joke. The original words to Hey Joe are ‘Hey Joe, where you going with that money in your hand? Well I'm going downtown to buy me a blue steel .44. When I catch up with that woman, she won't be running round no more.' It never says ‘Hey Joe where you goin' with that gun in your hand.' Those were the words I wrote just because I knew they were going to try and cover the song before we released it. That was kind of a dirty trick that I played on The Leaves, which turned out to be the words that everybody uses.” That first release by the Leaves also contained an extra verse -- a nod to Love's previous name: [Excerpt: The Leaves, "Hey Joe Where You Gonna Go?"] That original recording credited the song as public domain -- apparently Bryan MacLean had refused to tell the Leaves who had written the song, and so they assumed it was traditional. It came out in November 1965, but only as a promo single. Even before the Leaves, though, another band had recorded "Hey Joe", but it didn't get released. The Sons of Adam had started out as a surf group called the Fender IV, who made records like "Malibu Run": [Excerpt: The Fender IV, "Malibu Run"] Kim Fowley had suggested they change their name to the Sons of Adam, and they were another group who were friends with Love -- their drummer, Michael Stuart-Ware, would later go on to join Love, and Arthur Lee wrote the song "Feathered Fish" for them: [Excerpt: Sons of Adam, "Feathered Fish"] But while they were the first to record "Hey Joe", their version has still to this day not been released. Their version was recorded for Decca, with producer Gary Usher, but before it was released, another Decca artist also recorded the song, and the label weren't sure which one to release. And then the label decided to press Usher to record a version with yet another act -- this time with the Surfaris, the surf group who had had a hit with "Wipe Out". Coincidentally, the Surfaris had just changed bass players -- their most recent bass player, Ken Forssi, had quit and joined Love, whose own bass player, John Fleckenstein, had gone off to join the Standells, who would also record a version of “Hey Joe” in 1966. Usher thought that the Sons of Adam were much better musicians than the Surfaris, who he was recording with more or less under protest, but their version, using Love's arrangement and the "gun in your hand" lyrics, became the first version to come out on a major label: [Excerpt: The Surfaris, "Hey Joe"] They believed the song was in the public domain, and so the songwriting credits on the record are split between Gary Usher, a W. Hale who nobody has been able to identify, and Tony Cost, a pseudonym for Nik Venet. Usher said later "I got writer's credit on it because I was told, or I assumed at the time, the song was Public Domain; meaning a non-copyrighted song. It had already been cut two or three times, and on each occasion the writing credit had been different. On a traditional song, whoever arranges it, takes the songwriting credit. I may have changed a few words and arranged and produced it, but I certainly did not co-write it." The public domain credit also appeared on the Leaves' second attempt to cut the song, which was actually given a general release, but flopped. But when the Leaves cut the song for a *third* time, still for the same tiny label, Mira, the track became a hit in May 1966, reaching number thirty-one: [Excerpt: The Leaves, "Hey Joe"] And *that* version had what they thought was the correct songwriting credit, to Dino Valenti. Which came as news to Billy Roberts, who had registered the copyright to the song back in 1962 and had no idea that it had become a staple of LA garage rock until he heard his song in the top forty with someone else's name on the credits. He angrily confronted Third Story Music, who agreed to a compromise -- they would stop giving Valenti songwriting royalties and start giving them to Roberts instead, so long as he didn't sue them and let them keep the publishing rights. Roberts was indignant about this -- he deserved all the money, not just half of it -- but he went along with it to avoid a lawsuit he might not win. So Roberts was now the credited songwriter on the versions coming out of the LA scene. But of course, Dino Valenti had been playing "his" song to other people, too. One of those other people was Vince Martin. Martin had been a member of a folk-pop group called the Tarriers, whose members also included the future film star Alan Arkin, and who had had a hit in the 1950s with "Cindy, Oh Cindy": [Excerpt: The Tarriers, "Cindy, Oh Cindy"] But as we heard in the episode on the Lovin' Spoonful, he had become a Greenwich Village folkie, in a duo with Fred Neil, and recorded an album with him, "Tear Down the Walls": [Excerpt: Fred Neil and Vince Martin, "Morning Dew"] That song we just heard, "Morning Dew", was another question-and-answer folk song. It was written by the Canadian folk-singer Bonnie Dobson, but after Martin and Neil recorded it, it was picked up on by Martin's friend Tim Rose who stuck his own name on the credits as well, without Dobson's permission, for a version which made the song into a rock standard for which he continued to collect royalties: [Excerpt: Tim Rose, "Morning Dew"] This was something that Rose seems to have made a habit of doing, though to be fair to him it went both ways. We heard about him in the Lovin' Spoonful episode too, when he was in a band named the Big Three with Cass Elliot and her coincidentally-named future husband Jim Hendricks, who recorded this song, with Rose putting new music to the lyrics of the old public domain song "Oh! Susanna": [Excerpt: The Big Three, "The Banjo Song"] The band Shocking Blue used that melody for their 1969 number-one hit "Venus", and didn't give Rose any credit: [Excerpt: Shocking Blue, "Venus"] But another song that Rose picked up from Vince Martin was "Hey Joe". Martin had picked the song up from Valenti, but didn't know who had written it, or who was claiming to have written it, and told Rose he thought it might be an old Appalchian murder ballad or something. Rose took the song and claimed writing credit in his own name -- he would always, for the rest of his life, claim it was an old folk tune he'd heard in Florida, and that he'd rewritten it substantially himself, but no evidence of the song has ever shown up from prior to Roberts' copyright registration, and Rose's version is basically identical to Roberts' in melody and lyrics. But Rose takes his version at a much slower pace, and his version would be the model for the most successful versions going forward, though those other versions would use the lyrics Johnny Echols had rewritten, rather than the ones Rose used: [Excerpt: Tim Rose, "Hey Joe"] Rose's version got heard across the Atlantic as well. And in particular it was heard by Chas Chandler, the bass player of the Animals. Some sources seem to suggest that Chandler first heard the song performed by a group called the Creation, but in a biography I've read of that group they clearly state that they didn't start playing the song until 1967. But however he came across it, when Chandler heard Rose's recording, he knew that the song could be a big hit for someone, but he didn't know who. And then he bumped into Linda Keith, Keith Richards' girlfriend, who took him to see someone whose guitar we've already heard in this episode: [Excerpt: Rosa Lee Brooks, "My Diary"] The Curtis Mayfield impression on guitar there was, at least according to many sources the first recording session ever played on by a guitarist then calling himself Maurice (or possibly Mo-rees) James. We'll see later in the story that it possibly wasn't his first -- there are conflicting accounts, as there are about a lot of things, and it was recorded either in very early 1964, in which case it was his first, or (as seems more likely, and as I tell the story later) a year later, in which case he'd played on maybe half a dozen tracks in the studio by that point. But it was still a very early one. And by late 1966 that guitarist had reverted to the name by which he was brought up, and was calling himself Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix and Arthur Lee had become close, and Lee would later claim that Hendrix had copied much of Lee's dress style and attitude -- though many of Hendrix's other colleagues and employers, including Little Richard, would make similar claims -- and most of them had an element of truth, as Lee's did. Hendrix was a sponge. But Lee did influence him. Indeed, one of Hendrix's *last* sessions, in March 1970, was guesting on an album by Love: [Excerpt: Love with Jimi Hendrix, "Everlasting First"] Hendrix's name at birth was Johnny Allen Hendrix, which made his father, James Allen Hendrix, known as Al, who was away at war when his son was born, worry that he'd been named after another man who might possibly be the real father, so the family just referred to the child as "Buster" to avoid the issue. When Al Hendrix came back from the war the child was renamed James Marshall Hendrix -- James after Al's first name, Marshall after Al's dead brother -- though the family continued calling him "Buster". Little James Hendrix Junior didn't have anything like a stable home life. Both his parents were alcoholics, and Al Hendrix was frequently convinced that Jimi's mother Lucille was having affairs and became abusive about it. They had six children, four of whom were born disabled, and Jimi was the only one to remain with his parents -- the rest were either fostered or adopted at birth, fostered later on because the parents weren't providing a decent home life, or in one case made a ward of state because the Hendrixes couldn't afford to pay for a life-saving operation for him. The only one that Jimi had any kind of regular contact with was the second brother, Leon, his parents' favourite, who stayed with them for several years before being fostered by a family only a few blocks away. Al and Lucille Hendrix frequently split and reconciled, and while they were ostensibly raising Jimi (and for a few years Leon), he was shuttled between them and various family members and friends, living sometimes in Seattle where his parents lived and sometimes in Vancouver with his paternal grandmother. He was frequently malnourished, and often survived because friends' families fed him. Al Hendrix was also often physically and emotionally abusive of the son he wasn't sure was his. Jimi grew up introverted, and stuttering, and only a couple of things seemed to bring him out of his shell. One was science fiction -- he always thought that his nickname, Buster, came from Buster Crabbe, the star of the Flash Gordon serials he loved to watch, though in fact he got the nickname even before that interest developed, and he was fascinated with ideas about aliens and UFOs -- and the other was music. Growing up in Seattle in the forties and fifties, most of the music he was exposed to as a child and in his early teens was music made by and for white people -- there wasn't a very large Black community in the area at the time compared to most major American cities, and so there were no prominent R&B stations. As a kid he loved the music of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, and when he was thirteen Jimi's favourite record was Dean Martin's "Memories are Made of This": [Excerpt: Dean Martin, "Memories are Made of This"] He also, like every teenager, became a fan of rock and roll music. When Elvis played at a local stadium when Jimi was fifteen, he couldn't afford a ticket, but he went and sat on top of a nearby hill and watched the show from the distance. Jimi's first exposure to the blues also came around this time, when his father briefly took in lodgers, Cornell and Ernestine Benson, and Ernestine had a record collection that included records by Lightnin' Hopkins, Howlin' Wolf, and Muddy Waters, all of whom Jimi became a big fan of, especially Muddy Waters. The Bensons' most vivid memory of Jimi in later years was him picking up a broom and pretending to play guitar along with these records: [Excerpt: Muddy Waters, "Baby Please Don't Go"] Shortly after this, it would be Ernestine Benson who would get Jimi his very first guitar. By this time Jimi and Al had lost their home and moved into a boarding house, and the owner's son had an acoustic guitar with only one string that he was planning to throw out. When Jimi asked if he could have it instead of it being thrown out, the owner told him he could have it for five dollars. Al Hendrix refused to pay that much for it, but Ernestine Benson bought Jimi the guitar. She said later “He only had one string, but he could really make that string talk.” He started carrying the guitar on his back everywhere he went, in imitation of Sterling Hayden in the western Johnny Guitar, and eventually got some more strings for it and learned to play. He would play it left-handed -- until his father came in. His father had forced him to write with his right hand, and was convinced that left-handedness was the work of the devil, so Jimi would play left-handed while his father was somewhere else, but as soon as Al came in he would flip the guitar the other way up and continue playing the song he had been playing, now right-handed. Jimi's mother died when he was fifteen, after having been ill for a long time with drink-related problems, and Jimi and his brother didn't get to go to the funeral -- depending on who you believe, either Al gave Jimi the bus fare and told him to go by himself and Jimi was too embarrassed to go to the funeral alone on the bus, or Al actually forbade Jimi and Leon from going. After this, he became even more introverted than he was before, and he also developed a fascination with the idea of angels, convinced his mother now was one. Jimi started to hang around with a friend called Pernell Alexander, who also had a guitar, and they would play along together with Elmore James records. The two also went to see Little Richard and Bill Doggett perform live, and while Jimi was hugely introverted, he did start to build more friendships in the small Seattle music scene, including with Ron Holden, the man we talked about in the episode on "Louie Louie" who introduced that song to Seattle, and who would go on to record with Bruce Johnston for Bob Keane: [Excerpt: Ron Holden, "Gee But I'm Lonesome"] Eventually Ernestine Benson persuaded Al Hendrix to buy Jimi a decent electric guitar on credit -- Al also bought himself a saxophone at the same time, thinking he might play music with his son, but sent it back once the next payment became due. As well as blues and R&B, Jimi was soaking up the guitar instrumentals and garage rock that would soon turn into surf music. The first song he learned to play was "Tall Cool One" by the Fabulous Wailers, the local group who popularised a version of "Louie Louie" based on Holden's one: [Excerpt: The Fabulous Wailers, "Tall Cool One"] As we talked about in the "Louie Louie" episode, the Fabulous Wailers used to play at a venue called the Spanish Castle, and Jimi was a regular in the audience, later writing his song "Spanish Castle Magic" about those shows: [Excerpt: The Jimi Hendrix Experience, "Spanish Castle Magic"] He was also a big fan of Duane Eddy, and soon learned Eddy's big hits "Forty Miles of Bad Road", "Because They're Young", and "Peter Gunn" -- a song he would return to much later in his life: [Excerpt: Jimi Hendrix, "Peter Gunn/Catastrophe"] His career as a guitarist didn't get off to a great start -- the first night he played with his first band, he was meant to play two sets, but he was fired after the first set, because he was playing in too flashy a manner and showing off too much on stage. His girlfriend suggested that he might want to tone it down a little, but he said "That's not my style". This would be a common story for the next several years. After that false start, the first real band he was in was the Velvetones, with his friend Pernell Alexander. There were four guitarists, two piano players, horns and drums, and they dressed up with glitter stuck to their pants. They played Duane Eddy songs, old jazz numbers, and "Honky Tonk" by Bill Doggett, which became Hendrix's signature song with the band. [Excerpt: Bill Doggett, "Honky Tonk"] His father was unsupportive of his music career, and he left his guitar at Alexander's house because he was scared that his dad would smash it if he took it home. At the same time he was with the Velvetones, he was also playing with another band called the Rocking Kings, who got gigs around the Seattle area, including at the Spanish Castle. But as they left school, most of Hendrix's friends were joining the Army, in order to make a steady living, and so did he -- although not entirely by choice. He was arrested, twice, for riding in stolen cars, and he was given a choice -- either go to prison, or sign up for the Army for three years. He chose the latter. At first, the Army seemed to suit him. He was accepted into the 101st Airborne Division, the famous "Screaming Eagles", whose actions at D-Day made them legendary in the US, and he was proud to be a member of the Division. They were based out of Fort Campbell, the base near Clarksville we talked about a couple of episodes ago, and while he was there he met a bass player, Billy Cox, who he started playing with. As Cox and Hendrix were Black, and as Fort Campbell straddled the border between Kentucky and Tennessee, they had to deal with segregation and play to only Black audiences. And Hendrix quickly discovered that Black audiences in the Southern states weren't interested in "Louie Louie", Duane Eddy, and surf music, the stuff he'd been playing in Seattle. He had to instead switch to playing Albert King and Slim Harpo songs, but luckily he loved that music too. He also started singing at this point -- when Hendrix and Cox started playing together, in a trio called the Kasuals, they had no singer, and while Hendrix never liked his own voice, Cox was worse, and so Hendrix was stuck as the singer. The Kasuals started gigging around Clarksville, and occasionally further afield, places like Nashville, where Arthur Alexander would occasionally sit in with them. But Cox was about to leave the Army, and Hendrix had another two and a bit years to go, having enlisted for three years. They couldn't play any further away unless Hendrix got out of the Army, which he was increasingly unhappy in anyway, and so he did the only thing he could -- he pretended to be gay, and got discharged on medical grounds for homosexuality. In later years he would always pretend he'd broken his ankle parachuting from a plane. For the next few years, he would be a full-time guitarist, and spend the periods when he wasn't earning enough money from that leeching off women he lived with, moving from one to another as they got sick of him or ran out of money. The Kasuals expanded their lineup, adding a second guitarist, Alphonso Young, who would show off on stage by playing guitar with his teeth. Hendrix didn't like being upstaged by another guitarist, and quickly learned to do the same. One biography I've used as a source for this says that at this point, Billy Cox played on a session for King Records, for Frank Howard and the Commanders, and brought Hendrix along, but the producer thought that Hendrix's guitar was too frantic and turned his mic off. But other sources say the session Hendrix and Cox played on for the Commanders wasn't until three years later, and the record *sounds* like a 1965 record, not a 1962 one, and his guitar is very audible – and the record isn't on King. But we've not had any music to break up the narration for a little while, and it's a good track (which later became a Northern Soul favourite) so I'll play a section here, as either way it was certainly an early Hendrix session: [Excerpt: Frank Howard and the Commanders, "I'm So Glad"] This illustrates a general problem with Hendrix's life at this point -- he would flit between bands, playing with the same people at multiple points, nobody was taking detailed notes, and later, once he became famous, everyone wanted to exaggerate their own importance in his life, meaning that while the broad outlines of his life are fairly clear, any detail before late 1966 might be hopelessly wrong. But all the time, Hendrix was learning his craft. One story from around this time sums up both Hendrix's attitude to his playing -- he saw himself almost as much as a scientist as a musician -- and his slightly formal manner of speech. He challenged the best blues guitarist in Nashville to a guitar duel, and the audience actually laughed at Hendrix's playing, as he was totally outclassed. When asked what he was doing, he replied “I was simply trying to get that B.B. King tone down and my experiment failed.” Bookings for the King Kasuals dried up, and he went to Vancouver, where he spent a couple of months playing in a covers band, Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers, whose lead guitarist was Tommy Chong, later to find fame as one half of Cheech and Chong. But he got depressed at how white Vancouver was, and travelled back down south to join a reconfigured King Kasuals, who now had a horn section. The new lineup of King Kasuals were playing the chitlin circuit and had to put on a proper show, and so Hendrix started using all the techniques he'd seen other guitarists on the circuit use -- playing with his teeth like Alphonso Young, the other guitarist in the band, playing with his guitar behind his back like T-Bone Walker, and playing with a fifty-foot cord that allowed him to walk into the crowd and out of the venue, still playing, like Guitar Slim used to. As well as playing with the King Kasuals, he started playing the circuit as a sideman. He got short stints with many of the second-tier acts on the circuit -- people who had had one or two hits, or were crowd-pleasers, but weren't massive stars, like Carla Thomas or Jerry Butler or Slim Harpo. The first really big name he played with was Solomon Burke, who when Hendrix joined his band had just released "Just Out of Reach (Of My Two Empty Arms)": [Excerpt: Solomon Burke, "Just Out of Reach (Of My Two Empty Arms)"] But he lacked discipline. “Five dates would go beautifully,” Burke later said, “and then at the next show, he'd go into this wild stuff that wasn't part of the song. I just couldn't handle it anymore.” Burke traded him to Otis Redding, who was on the same tour, for two horn players, but then Redding fired him a week later and they left him on the side of the road. He played in the backing band for the Marvelettes, on a tour with Curtis Mayfield, who would be another of Hendrix's biggest influences, but he accidentally blew up Mayfield's amp and got sacked. On another tour, Cecil Womack threw Hendrix's guitar off the bus while he slept. In February 1964 he joined the band of the Isley Brothers, and he would watch the Beatles on Ed Sullivan with them during his first days with the group. Assuming he hadn't already played the Rosa Lee Brooks session (and I think there's good reason to believe he hadn't), then the first record Hendrix played on was their single "Testify": [Excerpt: The Isley Brothers, "Testify"] While he was with them, he also moonlighted on Don Covay's big hit "Mercy, Mercy": [Excerpt: Don Covay and the Goodtimers, "Mercy Mercy"] After leaving the Isleys, Hendrix joined the minor soul singer Gorgeous George, and on a break from Gorgeous George's tour, in Memphis, he went to Stax studios in the hope of meeting Steve Cropper, one of his idols. When he was told that Cropper was busy in the studio, he waited around all day until Cropper finished, and introduced himself. Hendrix was amazed to discover that Cropper was white -- he'd assumed that he must be Black -- and Cropper was delighted to meet the guitarist who had played on "Mercy Mercy", one of his favourite records. The two spent hours showing each other guitar licks -- Hendrix playing Cropper's right-handed guitar, as he hadn't brought along his own. Shortly after this, he joined Little Richard's band, and once again came into conflict with the star of the show by trying to upstage him. For one show he wore a satin shirt, and after the show Richard screamed at him “I am the only Little Richard! I am the King of Rock and Roll, and I am the only one allowed to be pretty. Take that shirt off!” While he was with Richard, Hendrix played on his "I Don't Know What You've Got, But It's Got Me", which like "Mercy Mercy" was written by Don Covay, who had started out as Richard's chauffeur: [Excerpt: Little Richard, "I Don't Know What You've Got, But It's Got Me"] According to the most likely version of events I've read, it was while he was working for Richard that Hendrix met Rosa Lee Brooks, on New Year's Eve 1964. At this point he was using the name Maurice James, apparently in tribute to the blues guitarist Elmore James, and he used various names, including Jimmy James, for most of his pre-fame performances. Rosa Lee Brooks was an R&B singer who had been mentored by Johnny "Guitar" Watson, and when she met Hendrix she was singing in a girl group who were one of the support acts for Ike & Tina Turner, who Hendrix went to see on his night off. Hendrix met Brooks afterwards, and told her she looked like his mother -- a line he used on a lot of women, but which was true in her case if photos are anything to go by. The two got into a relationship, and were soon talking about becoming a duo like Ike and Tina or Mickey and Sylvia -- "Love is Strange" was one of Hendrix's favourite records. But the only recording they made together was the "My Diary" single. Brooks always claimed that she actually wrote that song, but the label credit is for Arthur Lee, and it sounds like his work to me, albeit him trying hard to write like Curtis Mayfield, just as Hendrix is trying to play like him: [Excerpt: Rosa Lee Brooks, "My Diary"] Brooks and Hendrix had a very intense relationship for a short period. Brooks would later recall Little