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A History Of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs
Episode 163: “(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding

A History Of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs

Play Episode Listen Later Feb 27, 2023

Episode 163 of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at “(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay", Stax Records, and the short, tragic, life of Otis Redding. 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 "Soul Man" by Sam and Dave. 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 No Mixcloud this week, as there are too many songs by Redding, even if I split into multiple parts. The main resource I used for the biographical details of Redding was Dreams to Remember: Otis Redding, Stax Records, and the Transformation of Southern Soul by Mark Ribowsky. Ribowsky is usually a very good, reliable, writer, but in this case there are a couple of lapses in editing which make it not a book I can wholeheartedly recommend, but the research on the biographical details of Redding seems to be the best. Information about Stax comes primarily from two books: Soulsville USA: The Story of Stax by Rob Bowman, and Respect Yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion by Robert Gordon. Country Soul by Charles L Hughes is a great overview of the soul music made in Muscle Shoals, Memphis, and Nashville in the sixties. There are two Original Album Series box sets which between them contain all the albums Redding released in his life plus his first few posthumous albums, for a low price. Volume 1, volume 2. Patreon This podcast is brought to you by the generosity of my backers on Patreon. Why not join them? Transcript A quick note before I begin -- this episode ends with a description of a plane crash, which some people may find upsetting. There's also a mention of gun violence. In 2019 the film Summer of Soul came out. If you're unfamiliar with this film, it's a documentary of an event, the Harlem Cultural Festival, which gets called the "Black Woodstock" because it took place in the summer of 1969, overlapping the weekend that Woodstock happened. That event was a series of weekend free concerts in New York, performed by many of the greatest acts in Black music at that time -- people like Stevie Wonder, David Ruffin, Mahalia Jackson, B.B. King, the Staple Singers, Sly and the Family Stone, Nina Simone, and the Fifth Dimension. One thing that that film did was to throw into sharp relief a lot of the performances we've seen over the years by legends of white rock music of the same time. If you watch the film of Woodstock, or the earlier Monterey Pop festival, it's apparent that a lot of the musicians are quite sloppy. This is easy to dismiss as being a product of the situation -- they're playing outdoor venues, with no opportunity to soundcheck, using primitive PA systems, and often without monitors. Anyone would sound a bit sloppy in that situation, right? That is until you listen to the performances on the Summer of Soul soundtrack. The performers on those shows are playing in the same kind of circumstances, and in the case of Woodstock literally at the same time, so it's a fair comparison, and there really is no comparison. Whatever you think of the quality of the *music* (and some of my very favourite artists played at Monterey and Woodstock), the *musicianship* is orders of magnitude better at the Harlem Cultural Festival [Excerpt: Gladys Knight and the Pips “I Heard it Through the Grapevine (live)”] And of course there's a reason for this. Most of the people who played at those big hippie festivals had not had the same experiences as the Black musicians. The Black players were mostly veterans of the chitlin' circuit, where you had to play multiple shows a day, in front of demanding crowds who wanted their money's worth, and who wanted you to be able to play and also put on a show at the same time. When you're playing for crowds of working people who have spent a significant proportion of their money to go to the show, and on a bill with a dozen other acts who are competing for that audience's attention, you are going to get good or stop working. The guitar bands at Woodstock and Monterey, though, hadn't had the same kind of pressure. Their audiences were much more forgiving, much more willing to go with the musicians, view themselves as part of a community with them. And they had to play far fewer shows than the chitlin' circuit veterans, so they simply didn't develop the same chops before becoming famous (the best of them did after fame, of course). And so it's no surprise that while a lot of bands became more famous as a result of the Monterey Pop Festival, only three really became breakout stars in America as a direct result of it. One of those was the Who, who were already the third or fourth biggest band in the UK by that point, either just behind or just ahead of the Kinks, and so the surprise is more that it took them that long to become big in America. But the other two were themselves veterans of the chitlin' circuit. If you buy the Criterion Collection Blu-Ray of Monterey Pop, you get two extra discs along with the disc with the film of the full festival on it -- the only two performances that were thought worth turning into their own short mini-films. One of them is Jimi Hendrix's performance, and we will talk about that in a future episode. The other is titled Shake! Otis at Monterey: [Excerpt: Otis Redding, "Shake! (live at Monterey Pop Festival)"] Otis Redding came from Macon, Georgia, the home town of Little Richard, who became one of his biggest early influences, and like Richard he was torn in his early years between religion and secular music -- though in most other ways he was very different from Richard, and in particular he came from a much more supportive family. While his father, Otis senior, was a deacon in the church, and didn't approve much of blues, R&B, or jazz music or listen to it himself, he didn't prevent his son from listening to it, so young Otis grew up listening to records by Richard -- of whom he later said "If it hadn't been for Little Richard I would not be here... Richard has soul too. My present music has a lot of him in it" -- and another favourite, Clyde McPhatter: [Excerpt: Billy Ward and the Dominoes, "Have Mercy Baby"] Indeed, it's unclear exactly how much Otis senior *did* disapprove of those supposedly-sinful kinds of music. The biography I used as a source for this, and which says that Otis senior wouldn't listen to blues or jazz music at all, also quotes his son as saying that when he was a child his mother and father used to play him "a calypso song out then called 'Run Joe'" That will of course be this one: [Excerpt: Louis Jordan, "Run Joe"] I find it hard to reconcile the idea of someone who refused to listen to the blues or jazz listening to Louis Jordan, but then people are complex. Whatever Otis senior's feelings about secular music, he recognised from a very early age that his son had a special talent, and encouraged him to become a gospel singer. And at the same time he was listening to Little Richard, young Otis was also listening to gospel singers. One particular influence was a blind street singer, Reverend Pearly Brown: [Excerpt: Reverend Pearly Brown, "Ninety Nine and a Half Won't Do"] Redding was someone who cared deeply about his father's opinion, and it might well have been that he would eventually have become a gospel performer, because he started his career with a foot in both camps. What seems to have made the difference is that when he was sixteen, his father came down with tuberculosis. Even a few years earlier this would have been a terminal diagnosis, but thankfully by this point antibiotics had been invented, and the deacon eventually recovered. But it did mean that Otis junior had to become the family breadwinner while his father was sick, and so he turned decisively towards the kind of music that could make more money. He'd already started performing secular music. He'd joined a band led by Gladys Williams, who was the first female bandleader in the area. Williams sadly doesn't seem to have recorded anything -- discogs has a listing of a funk single by a Gladys Williams on a tiny label which may or may not be the same person, but in general she avoided recording studios, only wanting to play live -- but she was a very influential figure in Georgia music. According to her former trumpeter Newton Collier, who later went on to play with Redding and others, she trained both Fats Gonder and Lewis Hamlin, who went on to join the lineup of James Brown's band that made Live at the Apollo, and Collier says that Hamlin's arrangements for that album, and the way the band would segue from one track to another, were all things he'd been taught by Miss Gladys. Redding sang with Gladys Williams for a while, and she took him under her wing, trained him, and became his de facto first manager. She got him to perform at local talent shows, where he won fifteen weeks in a row, before he got banned from performing to give everyone else a chance. At all of these shows, the song he performed was one that Miss Gladys had rehearsed with him, Little Richard's "Heeby Jeebies": [Excerpt: Little Richard, "Heeby Jeebies"] At this time, Redding's repertoire was largely made up of songs by the two greats of fifties Georgia R&B -- Little Richard and James Brown -- plus some by his other idol Sam Cooke, and those singers would remain his greatest influences throughout his career. After his stint with Williams, Redding went on to join another band, Pat T Cake and the Mighty Panthers, whose guitarist Johnny Jenkins would be a major presence in his life for several years. The Mighty Panthers were soon giving Redding top billing, and advertising gigs as featuring Otis "Rockin' Robin" Redding -- presumably that was another song in his live repertoire. By this time Redding was sounding enough like Little Richard that when Richard's old backing band, The Upsetters, were looking for a new singer after Richard quit rock and roll for the ministry, they took Redding on as their vocalist for a tour. Once that tour had ended, Redding returned home to find that Johnny Jenkins had quit the Mighty Panthers and formed a new band, the Pinetoppers. Redding joined that band, who were managed by a white teenager named Phil Walden, who soon became Redding's personal manager as well. Walden and Redding developed a very strong bond, to the extent that Walden, who was studying at university, spent all his tuition money promoting Redding and almost got kicked out. When Redding found this out, he actually went round to everyone he knew and got loans from everyone until he had enough to pay for Walden's tuition -- much of it paid in coins. They had a strong enough bond that Walden would remain his manager for the rest of Redding's life, and even when Walden had to do two years in the Army in Germany, he managed Redding long-distance, with his brother looking after things at home. But of course, there wasn't much of a music industry in Georgia, and so with Walden's blessing and support, he moved to LA in 1960 to try to become a star. Just before he left, his girlfriend Zelma told him she was pregnant. He assured her that he was only going to be away for a few months, and that he would be back in time for the birth, and that he intended to come back to Georgia rich and marry her. Her response was "Sure you is". In LA, Redding met up with a local record producer, James "Jimmy Mack" McEachin, who would later go on to become an actor, appearing in several films with Clint Eastwood. McEachin produced a session for Redding at Gold Star studios, with arrangements by Rene Hall and using several of the musicians who later became the Wrecking Crew. "She's All Right", the first single that came from that session, was intended to sound as much like Jackie Wilson as possible, and was released under the name of The Shooters, the vocal group who provided the backing vocals: [Excerpt: The Shooters, "She's All Right"] "She's All Right" was released on Trans World, a small label owned by Morris Bernstein, who also owned Finer Arts records (and "She's All Right" seems to have been released on both labels). Neither of Bernstein's labels had any great success -- the biggest record they put out was a single by the Hollywood Argyles that came out after they'd stopped having hits -- and they didn't have any connection to the R&B market. Redding and McEachin couldn't find any R&B labels that wanted to pick up their recordings, and so Redding did return to Georgia and marry Zelma a few days before the birth of their son Dexter. Back in Georgia, he hooked up again with the Pinetoppers, and he and Jenkins started trying local record labels, attempting to get records put out by either of them. Redding was the first, and Otis Redding and the Pinetoppers put out a single, "Shout Bamalama", a slight reworking of a song that he'd recorded as "Gamma Lamma" for McEachin, which was obviously heavily influenced by Little Richard: [Excerpt: Otis Redding and the Pinetoppers, "Shout Bamalama"] That single was produced by a local record company owner, Bobby Smith, who signed Redding to a contract which Redding didn't read, but which turned out to be a management contract as well as a record contract. This would later be a problem, as Redding didn't have an actual contract with Phil Walden -- one thing that comes up time and again in stories about music in the Deep South at this time is people operating on handshake deals and presuming good faith on the part of each other. There was a problem with the record which nobody had foreseen though -- Redding was the first Black artist signed to Smith's label, which was called Confederate Records, and its logo was the Southern Cross. Now Smith, by all accounts, was less personally racist than most white men in Georgia at the time, and hadn't intended that as any kind of statement of white supremacy -- he'd just used a popular local symbol, without thinking through the implications. But as the phrase goes, intent isn't magic, and while Smith didn't intend it as racist, rather unsurprisingly Black DJs and record shops didn't see things in the same light. Smith was told by several DJs that they wouldn't play the record while it was on that label, and he started up a new subsidiary label, Orbit, and put the record out on that label. Redding and Smith continued collaborating, and there were plans for Redding to put out a second single on Orbit. That single was going to be "These Arms of Mine", a song Redding had originally given to another Confederate artist, a rockabilly performer called Buddy Leach (who doesn't seem to be the same Buddy Leach as the Democratic politician from Louisiana, or the saxophone player with George Thorogood and the Destroyers). Leach had recorded it as a B-side, with the slightly altered title "These Arms Are Mine". Sadly I can't provide an excerpt of that, as the record is so rare that even websites I've found by rockabilly collectors who are trying to get everything on Confederate Records haven't managed to get hold of copies. Meanwhile, Johnny Jenkins had been recording on another label, Tifco, and had put out a single called "Pinetop": [Excerpt: Johnny Jenkins and the Pinetoppers, "Pinetop"] That record had attracted the attention of Joe Galkin. Galkin was a semi-independent record promoter, who had worked for Atlantic in New York before moving back to his home town of Macon. Galkin had proved himself as a promoter by being responsible for the massive amounts of airplay given to Solomon Burke's "Just Out of Reach (of My Two Open Arms)": [Excerpt: Solomon Burke, "Just Out of Reach (of My Two Open Arms)"] After that, Jerry Wexler had given Galkin fifty dollars a week and an expense account, and Galkin would drive to all the Black radio stations in the South and pitch Atlantic's records to them. But Galkin also had his own record label, Gerald Records, and when he went to those stations and heard them playing something from a smaller label, he would quickly negotiate with that smaller label, buy the master and the artist's contract, and put the record out on Gerald Records -- and then he would sell the track and the artist on to Atlantic, taking ten percent of the record's future earnings and a finder's fee. This is what happened with Johnny Jenkins' single, which was reissued on Gerald and then on Atlantic. Galkin signed Jenkins to a contract -- another of those contracts which also made him Jenkins' manager, and indeed the manager of the Pinetops. Jenkins' record ended up selling about twenty-five thousand records, but when Galkin saw the Pinetoppers performing live, he realised that Otis Redding was the real star. Since he had a contract with Jenkins, he came to an agreement with Walden, who was still Jenkins' manager as well as Redding's -- Walden would get fifty percent of Jenkins' publishing and they would be co-managers of Jenkins. But Galkin had plans for Redding, which he didn't tell anyone about, not even Redding himself. The one person he did tell was Jerry Wexler, who he phoned up and asked for two thousand dollars, explaining that he wanted to record Jenkins' follow-up single at Stax, and he also wanted to bring along a singer he'd discovered, who sang with Jenkins' band. Wexler agreed -- Atlantic had recently started distributing Stax's records on a handshake deal of much the same kind that Redding had with Walden. As far as everyone else was concerned, though, the session was just for Johnny Jenkins, the known quantity who'd already released a single for Atlantic. Otis Redding, meanwhile, was having to work a lot of odd jobs to feed his rapidly growing family, and one of those jobs was to work as Johnny Jenkins' driver, as Jenkins didn't have a driving license. So Galkin suggested that, given that Memphis was quite a long drive, Redding should drive Galkin and Jenkins to Stax, and carry the equipment for them. Bobby Smith, who still thought of himself as Redding's manager, was eager to help his friend's bandmate with his big break (and to help Galkin, in the hope that maybe Atlantic would start distributing Confederate too), and so he lent Redding the company station wagon to drive them to the session.The other Pinetoppers wouldn't be going -- Jenkins was going to be backed by Booker T and the MGs, the normal Stax backing band. Phil Walden, though, had told Redding that he should try to take the opportunity to get himself heard by Stax, and he pestered the musicians as they recorded Jenkins' "Spunky": [Excerpt: Johnny Jenkins, "Spunky"] Cropper later remembered “During the session, Al Jackson says to me, ‘The big tall guy that was driving Johnny, he's been bugging me to death, wanting me to hear him sing,' Al said, ‘Would you take some time and get this guy off of my back and listen to him?' And I said, ‘After the session I'll try to do it,' and then I just forgot about it.” What Redding didn't know, though Walden might have, is that Galkin had planned all along to get Redding to record while he was there. Galkin claimed to be Redding's manager, and told Jim Stewart, the co-owner of Stax who acted as main engineer and supervising producer on the sessions at this point, that Wexler had only funded the session on the basis that Redding would also get a shot at recording. Stewart was unimpressed -- Jenkins' session had not gone well, and it had taken them more than two hours to get two tracks down, but Galkin offered Stewart a trade -- Galkin, as Redding's manager, would take half of Stax's mechanical royalties for the records (which wouldn't be much) but in turn would give Stewart half the publishing on Redding's songs. That was enough to make Stewart interested, but by this point Booker T. Jones had already left the studio, so Steve Cropper moved to the piano for the forty minutes that was left of the session, with Jenkins remaining on guitar, and they tried to get two sides of a single cut. The first track they cut was "Hey Hey Baby", which didn't impress Stewart much -- he simply said that the world didn't need another Little Richard -- and so with time running out they cut another track, the ballad Redding had already given to Buddy Leach. He asked Cropper, who didn't play piano well, to play "church chords", by which he meant triplets, and Cropper said "he started singing ‘These Arms of Mine' and I know my hair lifted about three inches and I couldn't believe this guy's voice": [Excerpt: Otis Redding, "These Arms of Mine"] That was more impressive, though Stewart carefully feigned disinterest. Stewart and Galkin put together a contract which signed Redding to Stax -- though they put the single out on the less-important Volt subsidiary, as they did for much of Redding's subsequent output -- and gave Galkin and Stewart fifty percent each of the publishing rights to Redding's songs. Redding signed it, not even realising he was signing a proper contract rather than just one for a single record, because he was just used to signing whatever bit of paper was put in front of him at the time. This one was slightly different though, because Redding had had his twenty-first birthday since the last time he'd signed a contract, and so Galkin assumed that that meant all his other contracts were invalid -- not realising that Redding's contract with Bobby Smith had been countersigned by Redding's mother, and so was also legal. Walden also didn't realise that, but *did* realise that Galkin representing himself as Redding's manager to Stax might be a problem, so he quickly got Redding to sign a proper contract, formalising the handshake basis they'd been operating on up to that point. Walden was at this point in the middle of his Army service, but got the signature while he was home on leave. Walden then signed a deal with Galkin, giving Walden half of Galkin's fifty percent cut of Redding's publishing in return for Galkin getting a share of Walden's management proceeds. By this point everyone was on the same page -- Otis Redding was going to be a big star, and he became everyone's prime focus. Johnny Jenkins remained signed to Walden's agency -- which quickly grew to represent almost every big soul star that wasn't signed to Motown -- but he was regarded as a footnote. His record came out eventually on Volt, almost two years later, but he didn't release another record until 1968. Jenkins did, though, go on to have some influence. In 1970 he was given the opportunity to sing lead on an album backed by Duane Allman and the members of the Muscle Shoals studio band, many of whom went on to form the Allman Brothers Band. That record contained a cover of Dr. John's "I Walk on Guilded Splinters" which was later sampled by Beck for "Loser", the Wu-Tang Clan for "Gun Will Go" and Oasis for their hit "Go Let it Out": [Excerpt: Johnny Jenkins, "I Walk on Guilded Splinters"] Jenkins would play guitar on several future Otis Redding sessions, but would hold a grudge against Redding for the rest of his life for taking the stardom he thought was rightfully his, and would be one of the few people to have anything negative to say about Redding after his early death. When Bobby Smith heard about the release of "These Arms of Mine", he was furious, as his contract with Redding *was* in fact legally valid, and he'd been intending to get Redding to record the song himself. However, he realised that Stax could call on the resources of Atlantic Records, and Joe Galkin also hinted that if he played nice Atlantic might start distributing Confederate, too. Smith signed away all his rights to Redding -- again, thinking that he was only signing away the rights to a single record and song, and not reading the contract closely enough. In this case, Smith only had one working eye, and that wasn't good enough to see clearly -- he had to hold paper right up to his face to read anything on it -- and he simply couldn't read the small print on the contract, and so signed over Otis Redding's management, record contract, and publishing, for a flat seven hundred dollars. Now everything was legally -- if perhaps not ethically -- in the clear. Phil Walden was Otis Redding's manager, Stax was his record label, Joe Galkin got a cut off the top, and Walden, Galkin, and Jim Stewart all shared Redding's publishing. Although, to make it a hit, one more thing had to happen, and one more person had to get a cut of the song: [Excerpt: Otis Redding, "These Arms of Mine"] That sound was becoming out of fashion among Black listeners at the time. It was considered passe, and even though the Stax musicians loved the record, Jim Stewart didn't, and put it out not because he believed in Otis Redding, but because he believed in Joe Galkin. As Stewart later said “The Black radio stations were getting out of that Black country sound, we put it out to appease and please Joe.” For the most part DJs ignored the record, despite Galkin pushing it -- it was released in October 1962, that month which we have already pinpointed as the start of the sixties, and came out at the same time as a couple of other Stax releases, and the one they were really pushing was Carla Thomas' "I'll Bring it Home to You", an answer record to Sam Cooke's "Bring it On Home to Me": [Excerpt: Carla Thomas, "I'll Bring it Home to You"] "These Arms of Mine" wasn't even released as the A-side -- that was "Hey Hey Baby" -- until John R came along. John R was a Nashville DJ, and in fact he was the reason that Bobby Smith even knew that Redding had signed to Stax. R had heard Buddy Leach's version of the song, and called Smith, who was a friend of his, to tell him that his record had been covered, and that was the first Smith had heard of the matter. But R also called Jim Stewart at Stax, and told him that he was promoting the wrong side, and that if they started promoting "These Arms of Mine", R would play the record on his radio show, which could be heard in twenty-eight states. And, as a gesture of thanks for this suggestion -- and definitely not as payola, which would be very illegal -- Stewart gave R his share of the publishing rights to the song, which eventually made the top twenty on the R&B charts, and slipped into the lower end of the Hot One Hundred. "These Arms of Mine" was actually recorded at a turning point for Stax as an organisation. By the time it was released, Booker T Jones had left Memphis to go to university in Indiana to study music, with his tuition being paid for by his share of the royalties for "Green Onions", which hit the charts around the same time as Redding's first session: [Excerpt: Booker T. and the MGs, "Green Onions"] Most of Stax's most important sessions were recorded at weekends -- Jim Stewart still had a day job as a bank manager at this point, and he supervised the records that were likely to be hits -- so Jones could often commute back to the studio for session work, and could play sessions during his holidays. The rest of the time, other people would cover the piano parts, often Cropper, who played piano on Redding's next sessions, with Jenkins once again on guitar. As "These Arms of Mine" didn't start to become a hit until March, Redding didn't go into the studio again until June, when he cut the follow-up, "That's What My Heart Needs", with the MGs, Jenkins, and the horn section of the Mar-Keys. That made number twenty-seven on the Cashbox R&B chart -- this was in the period when Billboard had stopped having one. The follow-up, "Pain in My Heart", was cut in September and did even better, making number eleven on the Cashbox R&B chart: [Excerpt: Otis Redding, "Pain in My Heart"] It did well enough in fact that the Rolling Stones cut a cover version of the track: [Excerpt: The Rolling Stones, "Pain in My Heart"] Though Redding didn't get the songwriting royalties -- by that point Allen Toussaint had noticed how closely it resembled a song he'd written for Irma Thomas, "Ruler of My Heart": [Excerpt: Irma Thomas, "Ruler of My Heart"] And so the writing credit was changed to be Naomi Neville, one of the pseudonyms Toussaint used. By this point Redding was getting steady work, and becoming a popular live act. He'd put together his own band, and had asked Jenkins to join, but Jenkins didn't want to play second fiddle to him, and refused, and soon stopped being invited to the recording sessions as well. Indeed, Redding was *eager* to get as many of his old friends working with him as he could. For his second and third sessions, as well as bringing Jenkins, he'd brought along a whole gang of musicians from his touring show, and persuaded Stax to put out records by them, too. At those sessions, as well as Redding's singles, they also cut records by his valet (which was the term R&B performers in those years used for what we'd now call a gofer or roadie) Oscar Mack: [Excerpt: Oscar Mack, "Don't Be Afraid of Love"] For Eddie Kirkland, the guitarist in his touring band, who had previously played with John Lee Hooker and whose single was released under the name "Eddie Kirk": [Excerpt: Eddie Kirk, "The Hawg, Part 1"] And Bobby Marchan, a singer and female impersonator from New Orleans who had had some massive hits a few years earlier both on his own and as the singer with Huey "Piano" Smith and the Clowns, but had ended up in Macon without a record deal and been taken under Redding's wing: [Excerpt: Bobby Marchan, "What Can I Do?"] Redding would continue, throughout his life, to be someone who tried to build musical careers for his friends, though none of those singles was successful. The changes in Stax continued. In late autumn 1963, Atlantic got worried by the lack of new product coming from Stax. Carla Thomas had had a couple of R&B hits, and they were expecting a new single, but every time Jerry Wexler phoned Stax asking where the new single was, he was told it would be coming soon but the equipment was broken. After a couple of weeks of this, Wexler decided something fishy was going on, and sent Tom Dowd, his genius engineer, down to Stax to investigate. Dowd found when he got there that the equipment *was* broken, and had been for weeks, and was a simple fix. When Dowd spoke to Stewart, though, he discovered that they didn't know where to source replacement parts from. Dowd phoned his assistant in New York, and told him to go to the electronics shop and get the parts he needed. Then, as there were no next-day courier services at that time, Dowd's assistant went to the airport, found a flight attendant who was flying to Memphis, and gave her the parts and twenty-five dollars, with a promise of twenty-five more if she gave them to Dowd at the other end. The next morning, Dowd had the equipment fixed, and everyone involved became convinced that Dowd was a miracle worker, especially after he showed Steve Cropper some rudimentary tape-manipulation techniques that Cropper had never encountered before. Dowd had to wait around in Memphis for his flight, so he went to play golf with the musicians for a bit, and then they thought they might as well pop back to the studio and test the equipment out. When they did, Rufus Thomas -- Carla Thomas' father, who had also had a number of hits himself on Stax and Sun -- popped his head round the door to see if the equipment was working now. They told him it was, and he said he had a song if they were up for a spot of recording. They were, and so when Dowd flew back that night, he was able to tell Wexler not only that the next Carla Thomas single would soon be on its way, but that he had the tapes of a big hit single with him right there: [Excerpt: Rufus Thomas, "Walking the Dog"] "Walking the Dog" was a sensation. Jim Stewart later said “I remember our first order out of Chicago. I was in New York in Jerry Wexler's office at the time and Paul Glass, who was our distributor in Chicago, called in an order for sixty-five thousand records. I said to Jerry, ‘Do you mean sixty-five hundred?' And he said, ‘Hell no, he wants sixty-five thousand.' That was the first order! He believed in the record so much that we ended up selling about two hundred thousand in Chicago alone.” The record made the top ten on the pop charts, but that wasn't the biggest thing that Dowd had taken away from the session. He came back raving to Wexler about the way they made records in Memphis, and how different it was from the New York way. In New York, there was a strict separation between the people in the control room and the musicians in the studio, the musicians were playing from written charts, and everyone had a job and did just that job. In Memphis, the musicians were making up the arrangements as they went, and everyone was producing or engineering all at the same time. Dowd, as someone with more technical ability than anyone at Stax, and who was also a trained musician who could make musical suggestions, was soon regularly commuting down to Memphis to be part of the production team, and Jerry Wexler was soon going down to record with other Atlantic artists there, as we heard about in the episode on "Midnight Hour". Shortly after Dowd's first visit to Memphis, another key member of the Stax team entered the picture. Right at the end of 1963, Floyd Newman recorded a track called "Frog Stomp", on which he used his own band rather than the MGs and Mar-Keys: [Excerpt: Floyd Newman, "Frog Stomp"] The piano player and co-writer on that track was a young man named Isaac Hayes, who had been trying to get work at Stax for some time. He'd started out as a singer, and had made a record, "Laura, We're On Our Last Go-Round", at American Sound, the studio run by the former Stax engineer and musician Chips Moman: [Excerpt: Isaac Hayes, "Laura, We're On Our Last Go-Round"] But that hadn't been a success, and Hayes had continued working a day job at a slaughterhouse -- and would continue doing so for much of the next few years, even after he started working at Stax (it's truly amazing how many of the people involved in Stax were making music as what we would now call a side-hustle). Hayes had become a piano player as a way of getting a little extra money -- he'd been offered a job as a fill-in when someone else had pulled out at the last minute on a gig on New Year's Eve, and took it even though he couldn't actually play piano, and spent his first show desperately vamping with two fingers, and was just lucky the audience was too drunk to care. But he had a remarkable facility for the instrument, and while unlike Booker T Jones he would never gain a great deal of technical knowledge, and was embarrassed for the rest of his life by both his playing ability and his lack of theory knowledge, he was as great as they come at soul, at playing with feel, and at inventing new harmonies on the fly. They still didn't have a musician at Stax that could replace Booker T, who was still off at university, so Isaac Hayes was taken on as a second session keyboard player, to cover for Jones when Jones was in Indiana -- though Hayes himself also had to work his own sessions around his dayjob, so didn't end up playing on "In the Midnight Hour", for example, because he was at the slaughterhouse. The first recording session that Hayes played on as a session player was an Otis Redding single, either his fourth single for Stax, "Come to Me", or his fifth, "Security": [Excerpt: Otis Redding, "Security"] "Security" is usually pointed to by fans as the point at which Redding really comes into his own, and started directing the musicians more. There's a distinct difference, in particular, in the interplay between Cropper's guitar, the Mar-Keys' horns, and Redding's voice. Where previously the horns had tended to play mostly pads, just holding chords under Redding's voice, now they were starting to do answering phrases. Jim Stewart always said that the only reason Stax used a horn section at all was because he'd been unable to find a decent group of backing vocalists, and the function the horns played on most of the early Stax recordings was somewhat similar to the one that the Jordanaires had played for Elvis, or the Picks for Buddy Holly, basically doing "oooh" sounds to fatten out the sound, plus the odd sax solo or simple riff. The way Redding used the horns, though, was more like the way Ray Charles used the Raelettes, or the interplay of a doo-wop vocal group, with call and response, interjections, and asides. He also did something in "Security" that would become a hallmark of records made at Stax -- instead of a solo, the instrumental break is played by the horns as an ensemble: [Excerpt: Otis Redding, "Security"] According to Wayne Jackson, the Mar-Keys' trumpeter, Redding was the one who had the idea of doing these horn ensemble sections, and the musicians liked them enough that they continued doing them on all the future sessions, no matter who with. The last Stax single of 1964 took the "Security" sound and refined it, and became the template for every big Stax hit to follow. "Mr. Pitiful" was the first collaboration between Redding and Steve Cropper, and was primarily Cropper's idea. Cropper later remembered “There was a disc jockey here named Moohah. He started calling Otis ‘Mr. Pitiful' 'cause he sounded so pitiful singing his ballads. So I said, ‘Great idea for a song!' I got the idea for writing about it in the shower. I was on my way down to pick up Otis. I got down there and I was humming it in the car. I said, ‘Hey, what do you think about this?' We just wrote the song on the way to the studio, just slapping our hands on our legs. We wrote it in about ten minutes, went in, showed it to the guys, he hummed a horn line, boom—we had it. When Jim Stewart walked in we had it all worked up. Two or three cuts later, there it was.” [Excerpt: Otis Redding, "Mr. Pitiful"] Cropper would often note later that Redding would never write about himself, but that Cropper would put details of Redding's life and persona into the songs, from "Mr. Pitiful" right up to their final collaboration, in which Cropper came up with lines about leaving home in Georgia. "Mr Pitiful" went to number ten on the R&B chart and peaked at number forty-one on the hot one hundred, and its B-side, "That's How Strong My Love Is", also made the R&B top twenty. Cropper and Redding soon settled into a fruitful writing partnership, to the extent that Cropper even kept a guitar permanently tuned to an open chord so that Redding could use it. Redding couldn't play the guitar, but liked to use one as a songwriting tool. When a guitar is tuned in standard tuning, you have to be able to make chord shapes to play it, because the sound of the open strings is a discord: [demonstrates] But you can tune a guitar so all the strings are the notes of a single chord, so they sound good together even when you don't make a chord shape: [demonstrates open-E tuning] With one of these open tunings, you can play chords with just a single finger barring a fret, and so they're very popular with, for example, slide guitarists who use a metal slide to play, or someone like Dolly Parton who has such long fingernails it's difficult to form chord shapes. Someone like Parton is of course an accomplished player, but open tunings also mean that someone who can't play well can just put their finger down on a fret and have it be a chord, so you can write songs just by running one finger up and down the fretboard: [demonstrates] So Redding could write, and even play acoustic rhythm guitar on some songs, which he did quite a lot in later years, without ever learning how to make chords. Now, there's a downside to this -- which is why standard tuning is still standard. If you tune to an open major chord, you can play major chords easily but minor chords become far more difficult. Handily, that wasn't a problem at Stax, because according to Isaac Hayes, Jim Stewart banned minor chords from being played at Stax. Hayes said “We'd play a chord in a session, and Jim would say, ‘I don't want to hear that chord.' Jim's ears were just tuned into one, four, and five. I mean, just simple changes. He said they were the breadwinners. He didn't like minor chords. Marvell and I always would try to put that pretty stuff in there. Jim didn't like that. We'd bump heads about that stuff. Me and Marvell fought all the time that. Booker wanted change as well. As time progressed, I was able to sneak a few in.” Of course, minor chords weren't *completely* banned from Stax, and some did sneak through, but even ballads would often have only major chords -- like Redding's next single, "I've Been Loving You Too Long". That track had its origins with Jerry Butler, the singer who had been lead vocalist of the Impressions before starting a solo career and having success with tracks like "For Your Precious Love": [Excerpt: Jerry Butler, "For Your Precious Love"] Redding liked that song, and covered it himself on his second album, and he had become friendly with Butler. Butler had half-written a song, and played it for Redding, who told him he'd like to fiddle with it, see what he could do. Butler forgot about the conversation, until he got a phone call from Redding, telling him that he'd recorded the song. Butler was confused, and also a little upset -- he'd been planning to finish the song himself, and record it. But then Redding played him the track, and Butler decided that doing so would be pointless -- it was Redding's song now: [Excerpt: Otis Redding, "I've Been Loving You Too Long"] "I've Been Loving You Too Long" became Redding's first really big hit, making number two on the R&B chart and twenty-one on the Hot One Hundred. It was soon being covered by the Rolling Stones and Ike & Tina Turner, and while Redding was still not really known to the white pop market, he was quickly becoming one of the biggest stars on the R&B scene. His record sales were still not matching his live performances -- he would always make far more money from appearances than from records -- but he was by now the performer that every other soul singer wanted to copy. "I've Been Loving You Too Long" came out just after Redding's second album, The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads, which happened to be the first album released on Volt Records. Before that, while Stax and Volt had released the singles, they'd licensed all the album tracks to Atlantic's Atco subsidiary, which had released the small number of albums put out by Stax artists. But times were changing and the LP market was becoming bigger. And more importantly, the *stereo* LP market was becoming bigger. Singles were still only released in mono, and would be for the next few years, but the album market had a substantial number of audiophiles, and they wanted stereo. This was a problem for Stax, because they only had a mono tape recorder, and they were scared of changing anything about their setup in case it destroyed their sound. Tom Dowd, who had been recording in eight track for years, was appalled by the technical limitations at the McLemore Ave studio, but eventually managed to get Jim Stewart, who despite -- or possibly because of -- being a white country musician was the most concerned that they keep their Black soul sound, to agree to a compromise. They would keep everything hooked up exactly the same -- the same primitive mixers, the same mono tape recorder -- and Stax would continue doing their mixes for mono, and all their singles would come directly off that mono tape. But at the same time, they would *also* have a two-track tape recorder plugged in to the mixer, with half the channels going on one track and half on the other. So while they were making the mix, they'd *also* be getting a stereo dump of that mix. The limitations of the situation meant that they might end up with drums and vocals in one channel and everything else in the other -- although as the musicians cut everything together in the studio, which had a lot of natural echo, leakage meant there was a *bit* of everything on every track -- but it would still be stereo. Redding's next album, Otis Blue, was recorded on this new equipment, with Dowd travelling down from New York to operate it. Dowd was so keen on making the album stereo that during that session, they rerecorded Redding's two most recent singles, "I've Been Loving You Too Long" and "Respect" (which hadn't yet come out but was in the process of being released) in soundalike versions so there would be stereo versions of the songs on the album -- so the stereo and mono versions of Otis Blue actually have different performances of those songs on them. It shows how intense the work rate was at Stax -- and how good they were at their jobs -- that apart from the opening track "Ole Man Trouble", which had already been recorded as a B-side, all of Otis Blue, which is often considered the greatest soul album in history, was recorded in a twenty-eight hour period, and it would have been shorter but there was a four-hour break in the middle, from 10PM to 2AM, so that the musicians on the session could play their regular local club gigs. And then after the album was finished, Otis left the session to perform a gig that evening. Tom Dowd, in particular, was astonished by the way Redding took charge in the studio, and how even though he had no technical musical knowledge, he would direct the musicians. Dowd called Redding a genius and told Phil Walden that the only two other artists he'd worked with who had as much ability in the studio were Bobby Darin and Ray Charles. Other than those singles and "Ole Man Trouble", Otis Blue was made up entirely of cover versions. There were three versions of songs by Sam Cooke, who had died just a few months earlier, and whose death had hit Redding hard -- for all that he styled himself on Little Richard vocally, he was also in awe of Cooke as a singer and stage presence. There were also covers of songs by The Temptations, William Bell, and B.B. King. And there was also an odd choice -- Steve Cropper suggested that Redding cut a cover of a song by a white band that was in the charts at the time: [Excerpt: The Rolling Stones, "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"] Redding had never heard the song before -- he was not paying attention to the white pop scene at the time, just to his competition on the R&B charts -- but he was interested in doing it. Cropper sat by the turntable, scribbling down what he thought the lyrics Jagger was singing were, and they cut the track. Redding starts out more or less singing the right words: [Excerpt: Otis Redding, "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"] But quickly ends up just ad-libbing random exclamations in the same way that he would in many of his live performances: [Excerpt: Otis Redding, "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"] Otis Blue made number one on the R&B album chart, and also made number six on the UK album chart -- Redding, like many soul artists, was far more popular in the UK than in the US. It only made number seventy-five on the pop album charts in the US, but it did a remarkable thing as far as Stax was concerned -- it *stayed* in the lower reaches of the charts, and on the R&B album charts, for a long time. Redding had become what is known as a "catalogue artist", something that was almost unknown in rock and soul music at this time, but which was just starting to appear. Up to 1965, the interlinked genres that we now think of as rock and roll, rock, pop, blues, R&B, and soul, had all operated on the basis that singles were where the money was, and that singles should be treated like periodicals -- they go on the shelves, stay there for a few weeks, get replaced by the new thing, and nobody's interested any more. This had contributed to the explosive rate of change in pop music between about 1954 and 1968. You'd package old singles up into albums, and stick some filler tracks on there as a way of making a tiny bit of money from tracks which weren't good enough to release as singles, but that was just squeezing the last few drops of juice out of the orange, it wasn't really where the money was. The only exceptions were those artists like Ray Charles who crossed over into the jazz and adult pop markets. But in general, your record sales in the first few weeks and months *were* your record sales. But by the mid-sixties, as album sales started to take off more, things started to change. And Otis Redding was one of the first artists to really benefit from that. He wasn't having huge hit singles, and his albums weren't making the pop top forty, but they *kept selling*. Redding wouldn't have an album make the top forty in his lifetime, but they sold consistently, and everything from Otis Blue onward sold two hundred thousand or so copies -- a massive number in the much smaller album market of the time. These sales gave Redding some leverage. His contract with Stax was coming to an end in a few months, and he was getting offers from other companies. As part of his contract renegotiation, he got Jim Stewart -- who like so many people in this story including Redding himself liked to operate on handshake deals and assumptions of good faith on the part of everyone else, and who prided himself on being totally fair and not driving hard bargains -- to rework his publishing deal. Now Redding's music was going to be published by Redwal Music -- named after Redding and Phil Walden -- which was owned as a four-way split between Redding, Walden, Stewart, and Joe Galkin. Redding also got the right as part of his contract negotiations to record other artists using Stax's facilities and musicians. He set up his own label, Jotis Records -- a portmanteau of Joe and Otis, for Joe Galkin and himself, and put out records by Arthur Conley: [Excerpt: Arthur Conley, "Who's Fooling Who?"] Loretta Williams [Excerpt: Loretta Williams, "I'm Missing You"] and Billy Young [Excerpt: Billy Young, "The Sloopy"] None of these was a success, but it was another example of how Redding was trying to use his success to boost others. There were other changes going on at Stax as well. The company was becoming more tightly integrated with Atlantic Records -- Tom Dowd had started engineering more sessions, Jerry Wexler was turning up all the time, and they were starting to make records for Atlantic, as we discussed in the episode on "In the Midnight Hour". Atlantic were also loaning Stax Sam and Dave, who were contracted to Atlantic but treated as Stax artists, and whose hits were written by the new Stax songwriting team of Isaac Hayes and David Porter: [Excerpt: Sam and Dave, "Soul Man"] Redding was not hugely impressed by Sam and Dave, once saying in an interview "When I first heard the Righteous Brothers, I thought they were colored. I think they sing better than Sam and Dave", but they were having more and bigger chart hits than him, though they didn't have the same level of album sales. Also, by now Booker T and the MGs had a new bass player. Donald "Duck" Dunn had always been the "other" bass player at Stax, ever since he'd started with the Mar-Keys, and he'd played on many of Redding's recordings, as had Lewie Steinberg, the original bass player with the MGs. But in early 1965, the Stax studio musicians had cut a record originally intending it to be a Mar-Keys record, but decided to put it out as by Booker T and the MGs, even though Booker T wasn't there at the time -- Isaac Hayes played keyboards on the track: [Excerpt: Booker T and the MGs, "Boot-Leg"] Booker T Jones would always have a place at Stax, and would soon be back full time as he finished his degree, but from that point on Duck Dunn, not Lewie Steinberg, was the bass player for the MGs. Another change in 1965 was that Stax got serious about promotion. Up to this point, they'd just relied on Atlantic to promote their records, but obviously Atlantic put more effort into promoting records on which it made all the money than ones it just distributed. But as part of the deal to make records with Sam and Dave and Wilson Pickett, Atlantic had finally put their arrangement with Stax on a contractual footing, rather than their previous handshake deal, and they'd agreed to pay half the salary of a publicity person for Stax. Stax brought in Al Bell, who made a huge impression. Bell had been a DJ in Memphis, who had gone off to work with Martin Luther King for a while, before leaving after a year because, as he put it "I was not about passive resistance. I was about economic development, economic empowerment.” He'd returned to DJing, first in Memphis, then in Washington DC, where he'd been one of the biggest boosters of Stax records in the area. While he was in Washington, he'd also started making records himself. He'd produced several singles for Grover Mitchell on Decca: [Excerpt: Grover Mitchell, "Midnight Tears"] Those records were supervised by Milt Gabler, the same Milt Gabler who produced Louis Jordan's records and "Rock Around the Clock", and Bell co-produced them with Eddie Floyd, who wrote that song, and Chester Simmons, formerly of the Moonglows, and the three of them started their own label, Safice, which had put out a few records by Floyd and others, on the same kind of deal with Atlantic that Stax had: [Excerpt: Eddie Floyd, "Make Up Your Mind"] Floyd would himself soon become a staff songwriter at Stax. As with almost every decision at Stax, the decision to hire Bell was a cause of disagreement between Jim Stewart and his sister Estelle Axton, the "Ax" in Stax, who wasn't as involved in the day-to-day studio operations as her brother, but who was often regarded by the musicians as at least as important to the spirit of the label, and who tended to disagree with her brother on pretty much everything. Stewart didn't want to hire Bell, but according to Cropper “Estelle and I said, ‘Hey, we need somebody that can liaison between the disc jockeys and he's the man to do it. Atlantic's going into a radio station with six Atlantic records and one Stax record. We're not getting our due.' We knew that. We needed more promotion and he had all the pull with all those disc jockeys. He knew E. Rodney Jones and all the big cats, the Montagues and so on. He knew every one of them.” Many people at Stax will say that the label didn't even really start until Bell joined -- and he became so important to the label that he would eventually take it over from Stewart and Axton. Bell came in every day and immediately started phoning DJs, all day every day, starting in the morning with the drivetime East Coast DJs, and working his way across the US, ending up at midnight phoning the evening DJs in California. Booker T Jones said of him “He had energy like Otis Redding, except he wasn't a singer. He had the same type of energy. He'd come in the room, pull up his shoulders and that energy would start. He would start talking about the music business or what was going on and he energized everywhere he was. He was our Otis for promotion. It was the same type of energy charisma.” Meanwhile, of course, Redding was constantly releasing singles. Two more singles were released from Otis Blue -- his versions of "My Girl" and "Satisfaction", and he also released "I Can't Turn You Loose", which was originally the B-side to "Just One More Day" but ended up charting higher than its original A-side. It's around this time that Redding did something which seems completely out of character, but which really must be mentioned given that with very few exceptions everyone in his life talks about him as some kind of saint. One of Redding's friends was beaten up, and Redding, the friend, and another friend drove to the assailant's house and started shooting through the windows, starting a gun battle in which Redding got grazed. His friend got convicted of attempted murder, and got two years' probation, while Redding himself didn't face any criminal charges but did get sued by the victims, and settled out of court for a few hundred dollars. By this point Redding was becoming hugely rich from his concert appearances and album sales, but he still hadn't had a top twenty pop hit. He needed to break the white market. And so in April 1966, Redding went to LA, to play the Sunset Strip: [Excerpt: Otis Redding, "Respect (live at the Whisky A-Go-Go)"] Redding's performance at the Whisky A-Go-Go, a venue which otherwise hosted bands like the Doors, the Byrds, the Mothers of Invention, and Love, was his first real interaction with the white rock scene, part of a process that had started with his recording of "Satisfaction". The three-day residency got rave reviews, though the plans to release a live album of the shows were scuppered when Jim Stewart listened back to the tapes and decided that Redding's horn players were often out of tune. But almost everyone on the LA scene came out to see the shows, and Redding blew them away. According to one biography of Redding I used, it was seeing how Redding tuned his guitar that inspired the guitarist from the support band, the Rising Sons, to start playing in the same tuning -- though I can't believe for a moment that Ry Cooder, one of the greatest slide guitarists of his generation, didn't already know about open tunings. But Redding definitely impressed that band -- Taj Mahal, their lead singer, later said it was "one of the most amazing performances I'd ever seen". Also at the gigs was Bob Dylan, who played Redding a song he'd just recorded but not yet released: [Excerpt: Bob Dylan, "Just Like a Woman"] Redding agreed that the song sounded perfect for him, and said he would record it. He apparently made some attempts at rehearsing it at least, but never ended up recording it. He thought the first verse and chorus were great, but had problems with the second verse: [Excerpt: Bob Dylan, "Just Like a Woman"] Those lyrics were just too abstract for him to find a way to connect with them emotionally, and as a result he found himself completely unable to sing them. But like his recording of "Satisfaction", this was another clue to him that he should start paying more attention to what was going on in the white music industry, and that there might be things he could incorporate into his own style. As a result of the LA gigs, Bill Graham booked Redding for the Fillmore in San Francisco. Redding was at first cautious, thinking this might be a step too far, and that he wouldn't go down well with the hippie crowd, but Graham persuaded him, saying that whenever he asked any of the people who the San Francisco crowds most loved -- Jerry Garcia or Paul Butterfield or Mike Bloomfield -- who *they* most wanted to see play there, they all said Otis Redding. Redding reluctantly agreed, but before he took a trip to San Francisco, there was somewhere even further out for him to go. Redding was about to head to England but before he did there was another album to make, and this one would see even more of a push for the white market, though still trying to keep everything soulful. As well as Redding originals, including "Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song)", another song in the mould of "Mr. Pitiful", there was another cover of a contemporary hit by a guitar band -- this time a version of the Beatles' "Day Tripper" -- and two covers of old standards; the country song "Tennessee Waltz", which had recently been covered by Sam Cooke, and a song made famous by Bing Crosby, "Try a Little Tenderness". That song almost certainly came to mind because it had recently been used in the film Dr. Strangelove, but it had also been covered relatively recently by two soul greats, Aretha Franklin: [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "Try a Little Tenderness"] And Sam Cooke: [Excerpt: Sam Cooke, "Live Medley: I Love You For Sentimental Reasons/Try a Little Tenderness/You Send Me"] This version had horn parts arranged by Isaac Hayes, who by this point had been elevated to be considered one of the "Big Six" at Stax records -- Hayes, his songwriting partner David Porter, Steve Cropper, Duck Dunn, Booker T. Jones, and Al Jackson, were all given special status at the company, and treated as co-producers on every record -- all the records were now credited as produced by "staff", but it was the Big Six who split the royalties. Hayes came up with a horn part that was inspired by Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come", and which dominated the early part of the track: [Excerpt: Otis Redding, "Try a Little Tenderness"] Then the band came in, slowly at first: [Excerpt: Otis Redding, "Try a Little Tenderness"] But Al Jackson surprised them when they ran through the track by deciding that after the main song had been played, he'd kick the track into double-time, and give Redding a chance to stretch out and do his trademark grunts and "got-ta"s. The single version faded out shortly after that, but the version on the album kept going for an extra thirty seconds: [Excerpt: Otis Redding, "Try a Little Tenderness"] As Booker T. Jones said “Al came up with the idea of breaking up the rhythm, and Otis just took that and ran with it. He really got excited once he found out what Al was going to do on the drums. He realized how he could finish the song. That he could start it like a ballad and finish it full of emotion. That's how a lot of our arrangements would come together. Somebody would come up with something totally outrageous.” And it would have lasted longer but Jim Stewart pushed the faders down, realising the track was an uncommercial length even as it was. Live, the track could often stretch out to seven minutes or longer, as Redding drove the crowd into a frenzy, and it soon became one of the highlights of his live set, and a signature song for him: [Excerpt: Otis Redding, "Try a Little Tenderness (live in London)"] In September 1966, Redding went on his first tour outside the US. His records had all done much better in the UK than they had in America, and they were huge favourites of everyone on the Mod scene, and when he arrived in the UK he had a limo sent by Brian Epstein to meet him at the airport. The tour was an odd one, with multiple London shows, shows in a couple of big cities like Manchester and Bristol, and shows in smallish towns in Hampshire and Lincolnshire. Apparently the shows outside London weren't particularly well attended, but the London shows were all packed to overflowing. Redding also got his own episode of Ready! Steady! Go!, on which he performed solo as well as with guest stars Eric Burdon and Chris Farlowe: [Excerpt: Otis Redding, Chris Farlowe and Eric Burdon, "Shake/Land of a Thousand Dances"] After the UK tour, he went on a short tour of the Eastern US with Sam and Dave as his support act, and then headed west to the Fillmore for his three day residency there, introducing him to the San Francisco music scene. His first night at the venue was supported by the Grateful Dead, the second by Johnny Talbot and De Thangs and the third by Country Joe and the Fish, but there was no question that it was Otis Redding that everyone was coming to see. Janis Joplin turned up at the Fillmore every day at 3PM, to make sure she could be right at the front for Redding's shows that night, and Bill Graham said, decades later, "By far, Otis Redding was the single most extraordinary talent I had ever seen. There was no comparison. Then or now." However, after the Fillmore gigs, for the first time ever he started missing shows. The Sentinel, a Black newspaper in LA, reported a few days later "Otis Redding, the rock singer, failed to make many friends here the other day when he was slated to appear on the Christmas Eve show[...] Failed to draw well, and Redding reportedly would not go on." The Sentinel seem to think that Redding was just being a diva, but it's likely that this was the first sign of a problem that would change everything about his career -- he was developing vocal polyps that were making singing painful. It's notable though that the Sentinel refers to Redding as a "rock" singer, and shows again how different genres appeared in the mid-sixties to how they appear today. In that light, it's interesting to look at a quote from Redding from a few months later -- "Everybody thinks that all songs by colored people are rhythm and blues, but that's not true. Johnny Taylor, Muddy Waters, and B.B. King are blues singers. James Brown is not a blues singer. He has a rock and roll beat and he can sing slow pop songs. My own songs "Respect" and "Mr Pitiful" aren't blues songs. I'm speaking in terms of the beat and structure of the music. A blues is a song that goes twelve bars all the way through. Most of my songs are soul songs." So in Redding's eyes, neither he nor James Brown were R&B -- he was soul, which was a different thing from R&B, while Brown was rock and roll and pop, not soul, but journalists thought that Redding was rock. But while the lines between these things were far less distinct than they are today, and Redding was trying to cross over to the white audience, he knew what genre he was in, and celebrated that in a song he wrote with his friend Art

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A History Of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs
Episode 162: “Daydream Believer” by the Monkees

A History Of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 31, 2023

Episode 162 of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at "Daydream Believer", and the later career of the Monkees, and how four Pinocchios became real boys. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode. Patreon backers also have a twenty-minute bonus episode available, on "Born to be Wild" by Steppenwolf. 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 No Mixcloud this time, as even after splitting it into multiple files, there are simply too many Monkees tracks excerpted. The best versions of the Monkees albums are the triple-CD super-deluxe versions that used to be available from monkees.com , and I've used Andrew Sandoval's liner notes for them extensively in this episode. Sadly, though, none of those are in print. However, at the time of writing there is a new four-CD super-deluxe box set of Headquarters (with a remixed version of the album rather than the original mixes I've excerpted here) available from that site, and I used the liner notes for that here. Monkees.com also currently has the intermittently-available BluRay box set of the entire Monkees TV series, which also has Head and 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee. For those just getting into the group, my advice is to start with this five-CD set, which contains their first five albums along with bonus tracks. The single biggest source of information I used in this episode is the first edition of Andrew Sandoval's The Monkees; The Day-By-Day Story. Sadly that is now out of print and goes for hundreds of pounds. Sandoval released a second edition of the book in 2021, which I was unfortunately unable to obtain, but that too is now out of print. If you can find a copy of either, do get one. Other sources used were Monkee Business by Eric Lefcowitz, and the autobiographies of three of the band members and one of the songwriters — Infinite Tuesday by Michael Nesmith, They Made a Monkee Out of Me by Davy Jones, I'm a Believer by Micky Dolenz, and Psychedelic Bubble-Gum by Bobby Hart. Patreon This podcast is brought to you by the generosity of my backers on Patreon. Why not join them? Transcript When we left the Monkees, they were in a state of flux. To recap what we covered in that episode, the Monkees were originally cast as actors in a TV show, and consisted of two actors with some singing ability -- the former child stars Davy Jones and Micky Dolenz -- and two musicians who were also competent comic actors, Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork.  The show was about a fictional band whose characters shared names with their actors, and there had quickly been two big hit singles, and two hit albums, taken from the music recorded for the TV show's soundtrack. But this had caused problems for the actors. The records were being promoted as being by the fictional group in the TV series, blurring the line between the TV show and reality, though in fact for the most part they were being made by session musicians with only Dolenz or Jones adding lead vocals to pre-recorded backing tracks. Dolenz and Jones were fine with this, but Nesmith, who had been allowed to write and produce a few album tracks himself, wanted more creative input, and more importantly felt that he was being asked to be complicit in fraud because the records credited the four Monkees as the musicians when (other than a tiny bit of inaudible rhythm guitar by Tork on a couple of Nesmith's tracks) none of them played on them. Tork, meanwhile, believed he had been promised that the group would be an actual group -- that they would all be playing on the records together -- and felt hurt and annoyed that this wasn't the case. They were by now playing live together to promote the series and the records, with Dolenz turning out to be a perfectly competent drummer, so surely they could do the same in the studio? So in January 1967, things came to a head. It's actually quite difficult to sort out exactly what happened, because of conflicting recollections and opinions. What follows is my best attempt to harmonise the different versions of the story into one coherent narrative, but be aware that I could be wrong in some of the details. Nesmith and Tork, who disliked each other in most respects, were both agreed that this couldn't continue and that if there were going to be Monkees records released at all, they were going to have the Monkees playing on them. Dolenz, who seems to have been the one member of the group that everyone could get along with, didn't really care but went along with them for the sake of group harmony. And Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider, the production team behind the series, also took Nesmith and Tork's side, through a general love of mischief. But on the other side was Don Kirshner, the music publisher who was in charge of supervising the music for the TV show. Kirshner was adamantly, angrily, opposed to the very idea of the group members having any input at all into how the records were made. He considered that they should be grateful for the huge pay cheques they were getting from records his staff writers and producers were making for them, and stop whinging. And Davy Jones was somewhere in the middle. He wanted to support his co-stars, who he genuinely liked, but also, he was a working actor, he'd had other roles before, he'd have other roles afterwards, and as a working actor you do what you're told if you don't want to lose the job you've got. Jones had grown up in very severe poverty, and had been his family's breadwinner from his early teens, and artistic integrity is all very nice, but not as nice as a cheque for a quarter of a million dollars. Although that might be slightly unfair -- it might be fairer to say that artistic integrity has a different meaning to someone like Jones, coming from musical theatre and a tradition of "the show must go on", than it does to people like Nesmith and Tork who had come up through the folk clubs. Jones' attitude may also have been affected by the fact that his character in the TV show didn't play an instrument other than the occasional tambourine or maracas. The other three were having to mime instrumental parts they hadn't played, and to reproduce them on stage, but Jones didn't have that particular disadvantage. Bert Schneider, one of the TV show's producers, encouraged the group to go into the recording studio themselves, with a producer of their choice, and cut a couple of tracks to prove what they could do. Michael Nesmith, who at this point was the one who was most adamant about taking control of the music, chose Chip Douglas to produce. Douglas was someone that Nesmith had known a little while, as they'd both played the folk circuit -- in Douglas' case as a member of the Modern Folk Quartet -- but Douglas had recently joined the Turtles as their new bass player. At this point, Douglas had never officially produced a record, but he was a gifted arranger, and had just arranged the Turtles' latest single, which had just been released and was starting to climb the charts: [Excerpt: The Turtles, "Happy Together"] Douglas quit the Turtles to work with the Monkees, and took the group into the studio to cut two demo backing tracks for a potential single as a proof of concept. These initial sessions didn't have any vocals, but featured Nesmith on guitar, Tork on piano, Dolenz on drums, Jones on tambourine, and an unknown bass player -- possibly Douglas himself, possibly Nesmith's friend John London, who he'd played with in Mike and John and Bill. They cut rough tracks of two songs, "All of Your Toys", by another friend of Nesmith's, Bill Martin, and Nesmith's "The Girl I Knew Somewhere": [Excerpt: The Monkees, "The Girl I Knew Somewhere (Gold Star Demo)"] Those tracks were very rough and ready -- they were garage-band tracks rather than the professional studio recordings that the Candy Store Prophets or Jeff Barry's New York session players had provided for the previous singles -- but they were competent in the studio, thanks largely to Chip Douglas' steadying influence. As Douglas later said "They could hardly play. Mike could play adequate rhythm guitar. Pete could play piano but he'd make mistakes, and Micky's time on drums was erratic. He'd speed up or slow down." But the takes they managed to get down showed that they *could* do it. Rafelson and Schneider agreed with them that the Monkees could make a single together, and start recording at least some of their own tracks. So the group went back into the studio, with Douglas producing -- and with Lester Sill from the music publishers there to supervise -- and cut finished versions of the two songs. This time the lineup was Nesmith on guitar, Tork on electric harpsichord -- Tork had always been a fan of Bach, and would in later years perform Bach pieces as his solo spot in Monkees shows -- Dolenz on drums, London on bass, and Jones on tambourine: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "The Girl I Knew Somewhere (first recorded version)"] But while this was happening, Kirshner had been trying to get new Monkees material recorded without them -- he'd not yet agreed to having the group play on their own records. Three days after the sessions for "All of Your Toys" and "The Girl I Knew Somewhere", sessions started in New York for an entire album's worth of new material, produced by Jeff Barry and Denny Randell, and largely made by the same Red Bird Records team who had made "I'm a Believer" -- the same musicians who in various combinations had played on everything from "Sherry" by the Four Seasons to "Like a Rolling Stone" by Dylan to "Leader of the Pack", and with songs by Neil Diamond, Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, Leiber and Stoller, and the rest of the team of songwriters around Red Bird. But at this point came the meeting we talked about towards the end of the "Last Train to Clarksville" episode, in which Nesmith punched a hole in a hotel wall in frustration at what he saw as Kirshner's obstinacy. Kirshner didn't want to listen to the recordings the group had made. He'd promised Jeff Barry and Neil Diamond that if "I'm a Believer" went to number one, Barry would get to produce, and Diamond write, the group's next single. Chip Douglas wasn't a recognised producer, and he'd made this commitment. But the group needed a new single out. A compromise was offered, of sorts, by Kirshner -- how about if Barry flew over from New York to LA to produce the group, they'd scrap the tracks both the group and Barry had recorded, and Barry would produce new tracks for the songs he'd recorded, with the group playing on them? But that wouldn't work either. The group members were all due to go on holiday -- three of them were going to make staggered trips to the UK, partly to promote the TV series, which was just starting over here, and partly just to have a break. They'd been working sixty-plus hour weeks for months between the TV series, live performances, and the recording studio, and they were basically falling-down tired, which was one of the reasons for Nesmith's outburst in the meeting. They weren't accomplished enough musicians to cut tracks quickly, and they *needed* the break. On top of that, Nesmith and Barry had had a major falling-out at the "I'm a Believer" session, and Nesmith considered it a matter of personal integrity that he couldn't work with a man who in his eyes had insulted his professionalism. So that was out, but there was also no way Kirshner was going to let the group release a single consisting of two songs he hadn't heard, produced by a producer with no track record. At first, the group were insistent that "All of Your Toys" should be the A-side for their next single: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "All Of Your Toys"] But there was an actual problem with that which they hadn't foreseen. Bill Martin, who wrote the song, was under contract to another music publisher, and the Monkees' contracts said they needed to only record songs published by Screen Gems. Eventually, it was Micky Dolenz who managed to cut the Gordian knot -- or so everyone thought. Dolenz was the one who had the least at stake of any of them -- he was already secure as the voice of the hits, he had no particular desire to be an instrumentalist, but he wanted to support his colleagues. Dolenz suggested that it would be a reasonable compromise to put out a single with one of the pre-recorded backing tracks on one side, with him or Jones singing, and with the version of "The Girl I Knew Somewhere" that the band had recorded together on the other. That way, Kirshner and the record label would get their new single without too much delay, the group would still be able to say they'd started recording their own tracks, everyone would get some of what they wanted. So it was agreed -- though there was a further stipulation. "The Girl I Knew Somewhere" had Nesmith singing lead vocals, and up to that point every Monkees single had featured Dolenz on lead on both sides. As far as Kirshner and the other people involved in making the release decisions were concerned, that was the way things were going to continue. Everyone was fine with this -- Nesmith, the one who was most likely to object in principle, in practice realised that having Dolenz sing his song would make it more likely to be played on the radio and used in the TV show, and so increase his royalties. A vocal session was arranged in New York for Dolenz and Jones to come and cut some vocal tracks right before Dolenz and Nesmith flew over to the UK. But in the meantime, it had become even more urgent for the group to be seen to be doing their own recording. An in-depth article on the group in the Saturday Evening Post had come out, quoting Nesmith as saying "It was what Kirshner wanted to do. Our records are not our forte. I don't care if we never sell another record. Maybe we were manufactured and put on the air strictly with a lot of hoopla. Tell the world we're synthetic because, damn it, we are. Tell them the Monkees are wholly man-made overnight, that millions of dollars have been poured into this thing. Tell the world we don't record our own music. But that's us they see on television. The show is really a part of us. They're not seeing something invalid." The press immediately jumped on the band, and started trying to portray them as con artists exploiting their teenage fans, though as Nesmith later said "The press decided they were going to unload on us as being somehow illegitimate, somehow false. That we were making an attempt to dupe the public, when in fact it was me that was making the attempt to maintain the integrity. So the press went into a full-scale war against us." Tork, on the other hand, while he and Nesmith were on the same side about the band making their own records, blamed Nesmith for much of the press reaction, later saying "Michael blew the whistle on us. If he had gone in there with pride and said 'We are what we are and we have no reason to hang our heads in shame' it never would have happened." So as far as the group were concerned, they *needed* to at least go with Dolenz's suggested compromise. Their personal reputations were on the line. When Dolenz arrived at the session in New York, he was expecting to be asked to cut one vocal track, for the A-side of the next single (and presumably a new lead vocal for "The Girl I Knew Somewhere"). When he got there, though, he found that Kirshner expected him to record several vocals so that Kirshner could choose the best. That wasn't what had been agreed, and so Dolenz flat-out refused to record anything at all. Luckily for Kirshner, Jones -- who was the most co-operative member of the band -- was willing to sing a handful of songs intended for Dolenz as well as the ones he was meant to sing. So the tape of "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You", the song intended for the next single, was slowed down so it would be in a suitable key for Jones instead, and he recorded the vocal for that: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You"] Incidentally, while Jones recorded vocals for several more tracks at the session -- and some would later be reused as album tracks a few years down the line -- not all of the recorded tracks were used for vocals, and this later gave rise to a rumour that has been repeated as fact by almost everyone involved, though it was a misunderstanding. Kirshner's next major success after the Monkees was another made-for-TV fictional band, the Archies, and their biggest hit was "Sugar Sugar", co-written and produced by Jeff Barry: [Excerpt: The Archies, "Sugar Sugar"] Both Kirshner and the Monkees have always claimed that the Monkees were offered "Sugar, Sugar" and turned it down. To Kirshner the moral of the story was that since "Sugar, Sugar" was a massive hit, it proved his instincts right and proved that the Monkees didn't know what would make a hit. To the Monkees, on the other hand, it showed that Kirshner wanted them to do bubblegum music that they considered ridiculous. This became such an established factoid that Dolenz regularly tells the story in his live performances, and includes a version of "Sugar, Sugar" in them, rearranged as almost a torch song: [Excerpt: Micky Dolenz, "Sugar, Sugar (live)"] But in fact, "Sugar, Sugar" wasn't written until long after Kirshner and the Monkees had parted ways. But one of the songs for which a backing track was recorded but no vocals were ever completed was "Sugar Man", a song by Denny Randell and Sandy Linzer, which they would later release themselves as an unsuccessful single: [Excerpt: Linzer and Randell, "Sugar Man"] Over the years, the Monkees not recording "Sugar Man" became the Monkees not recording "Sugar, Sugar". Meanwhile, Dolenz and Nesmith had flown over to the UK to do some promotional work and relax, and Jones soon also flew over, though didn't hang out with his bandmates, preferring to spend more time with his family. Both Dolenz and Nesmith spent a lot of time hanging out with British pop stars, and were pleased to find that despite the manufactured controversy about them being a manufactured group, none of the British musicians they admired seemed to care. Eric Burdon, for example, was quoted in the Melody Maker as saying "They make very good records, I can't understand how people get upset about them. You've got to make up your minds whether a group is a record production group or one that makes live appearances. For example, I like to hear a Phil Spector record and I don't worry if it's the Ronettes or Ike and Tina Turner... I like the Monkees record as a grand record, no matter how people scream. So somebody made a record and they don't play, so what? Just enjoy the record." Similarly, the Beatles were admirers of the Monkees, especially the TV show, despite being expected to have a negative opinion of them, as you can hear in this contemporary recording of Paul McCartney answering a fan's questions: Excerpt: Paul McCartney talks about the Monkees] Both Dolenz and Nesmith hung out with the Beatles quite a bit -- they both visited Sgt. Pepper recording sessions, and if you watch the film footage of the orchestral overdubs for "A Day in the Life", Nesmith is there with all the other stars of the period. Nesmith and his wife Phyllis even stayed with the Lennons for a couple of days, though Cynthia Lennon seems to have thought of the Nesmiths as annoying intruders who had been invited out of politeness and not realised they weren't wanted. That seems plausible, but at the same time, John Lennon doesn't seem the kind of person to not make his feelings known, and Michael Nesmith's reports of the few days they stayed there seem to describe a very memorable experience, where after some initial awkwardness he developed a bond with Lennon, particularly once he saw that Lennon was a fan of Captain Beefheart, who was a friend of Nesmith, and whose Safe as Milk album Lennon was examining when Nesmith turned up, and whose music at this point bore a lot of resemblance to the kind of thing Nesmith was doing: [Excerpt: Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band, "Yellow Brick Road"] Or at least, that's how Nesmith always told the story later -- though Safe as Milk didn't come out until nearly six months later. It's possible he's conflating memories from a later trip to the UK in June that year -- where he also talked about how Lennon was the only person he'd really got on with on the previous trip, because "he's a compassionate person. I know he has a reputation for being caustic, but it is only a cover for the depth of his feeling." Nesmith and Lennon apparently made some experimental music together during the brief stay, with Nesmith being impressed by Lennon's Mellotron and later getting one himself. Dolenz, meanwhile, was spending more time with Paul McCartney, and with Spencer Davis of his current favourite band The Spencer Davis Group. But even more than that he was spending a lot of time with Samantha Juste, a model and TV presenter whose job it was to play the records on Top of the Pops, the most important British TV pop show, and who had released a record herself a couple of months earlier, though it hadn't been a success: [Excerpt: Samantha Juste, "No-one Needs My Love Today"] The two quickly fell deeply in love, and Juste would become Dolenz's first wife the next year. When Nesmith and Dolenz arrived back in the US after their time off, they thought the plan was still to release "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" with "The Girl I Knew Somewhere" on the B-side. So Nesmith was horrified to hear on the radio what the announcer said were the two sides of the new Monkees single -- "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You", and "She Hangs Out", another song from the Jeff Barry sessions with a Davy vocal. Don Kirshner had gone ahead and picked two songs from the Jeff Barry sessions and delivered them to RCA Records, who had put a single out in Canada. The single was very, *very* quickly withdrawn once the Monkees and the TV producers found out, and only promo copies seem to circulate -- rather than being credited to "the Monkees", both sides are credited to '"My Favourite Monkee" Davy Jones Sings'. The record had been withdrawn, but "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" was clearly going to have to be the single. Three days after the record was released and pulled, Nesmith, Dolenz and Tork were back in the studio with Chip Douglas, recording a new B-side -- a new version of "The Girl I Knew Somewhere", this time with Dolenz on vocals. As Jones was still in the UK, John London added the tambourine part as well as the bass: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "The Girl I Knew Somewhere (single version)"] As Nesmith told the story a couple of months later, "Bert said 'You've got to get this thing in Micky's key for Micky to sing it.' I said 'Has Donnie made a commitment? I don't want to go there and break my neck in order to get this thing if Donnie hasn't made a commitment. And Bert refused to say anything. He said 'I can't tell you anything except just go and record.'" What had happened was that the people at Columbia had had enough of Kirshner. As far as Rafelson and Schneider were concerned, the real problem in all this was that Kirshner had been making public statements taking all the credit for the Monkees' success and casting himself as the puppetmaster. They thought this was disrespectful to the performers -- and unstated but probably part of it, that it was disrespectful to Rafelson and Schneider for their work putting the TV show together -- and that Kirshner had allowed his ego to take over. Things like the liner notes for More of the Monkees which made Kirshner and his stable of writers more important than the performers had, in the view of the people at Raybert Productions, put the Monkees in an impossible position and forced them to push back. Schneider later said "Kirshner had an ego that transcended everything else. As a matter of fact, the press issue was probably magnified a hundred times over because of Kirshner. He wanted everybody thinking 'Hey, he's doing all this, not them.' In the end it was very self-destructive because it heightened the whole press issue and it made them feel lousy." Kirshner was out of a job, first as the supervisor for the Monkees and then as the head of Columbia/Screen Gems Music. In his place came Lester Sill, the man who had got Leiber and Stoller together as songwriters, who had been Lee Hazelwood's production partner on his early records with Duane Eddy, and who had been the "Les" in Philles Records until Phil Spector pushed him out. Sill, unlike Kirshner, was someone who was willing to take a back seat and just be a steadying hand where needed. The reissued version of "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" went to number two on the charts, behind "Somethin' Stupid" by Frank and Nancy Sinatra, produced by Sill's old colleague Hazelwood, and the B-side, "The Girl I Knew Somewhere", also charted separately, making number thirty-nine on the charts. The Monkees finally had a hit that they'd written and recorded by themselves. Pinocchio had become a real boy: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "The Girl I Knew Somewhere (single version)"] At the same session at which they'd recorded that track, the Monkees had recorded another Nesmith song, "Sunny Girlfriend", and that became the first song to be included on a new album, which would eventually be named Headquarters, and on which all the guitar, keyboard, drums, percussion, banjo, pedal steel, and backing vocal parts would for the first time be performed by the Monkees themselves. They brought in horn and string players on a couple of tracks, and the bass was variously played by John London, Chip Douglas, and Jerry Yester as Tork was more comfortable on keyboards and guitar than bass, but it was in essence a full band album. Jones got back the next day, and sessions began in earnest. The first song they recorded after his return was "Mr. Webster", a Boyce and Hart song that had been recorded with the Candy Store Prophets in 1966 but hadn't been released. This was one of three tracks on the album that were rerecordings of earlier outtakes, and it's fascinating to compare them, to see the strengths and weaknesses of both approaches. In the case of "Mr. Webster", the instrumental backing on the earlier version is definitely slicker: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Mr. Webster (1st Recorded Version)"] But at the same time, there's a sense of dynamics in the group recording that's lacking from the original, like the backing dropping out totally on the word "Stop" -- a nice touch that isn't in the original. I am only speculating, but this may have been inspired by the similar emphasis on the word "stop" in "For What It's Worth" by Tork's old friend Stephen Stills: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Mr. Webster (album version)"] Headquarters was a group album in another way though -- for the first time, Tork and Dolenz were bringing in songs they'd written -- Nesmith of course had supplied songs already for the two previous albums. Jones didn't write any songs himself yet, though he'd start on the next album, but he was credited with the rest of the group on two joke tracks, "Band 6", a jam on the Merrie Melodies theme “Merrily We Roll Along”, and "Zilch", a track made up of the four band members repeating nonsense phrases: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Zilch"] Oddly, that track had a rather wider cultural resonance than a piece of novelty joke album filler normally would. It's sometimes covered live by They Might Be Giants: [Excerpt: They Might Be Giants, "Zilch"] While the rapper Del Tha Funkee Homosapien had a worldwide hit in 1991 with "Mistadobalina", built around a sample of Peter Tork from the track: [Excerpt: Del Tha Funkee Homosapien,"Mistadobalina"] Nesmith contributed three songs, all of them combining Beatles-style pop music and country influences, none more blatantly than the opening track, "You Told Me", which starts off parodying the opening of "Taxman", before going into some furious banjo-picking from Tork: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "You Told Me"] Tork, meanwhile, wrote "For Pete's Sake" with his flatmate of the time, and that became the end credits music for season two of the TV series: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "For Pete's Sake"] But while the other band members made important contributions, the track on the album that became most popular was the first song of Dolenz's to be recorded by the group. The lyrics recounted, in a semi-psychedelic manner, Dolenz's time in the UK, including meeting with the Beatles, who the song refers to as "the four kings of EMI", but the first verse is all about his new girlfriend Samantha Juste: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Randy Scouse Git"] The song was released as a single in the UK, but there was a snag. Dolenz had given the song a title he'd heard on an episode of the BBC sitcom Til Death Us Do Part, which he'd found an amusing bit of British slang. Til Death Us Do Part was written by Johnny Speight, a writer with Associated London Scripts, and was a family sitcom based around the character of Alf Garnett, an ignorant, foul-mouthed reactionary bigot who hated young people, socialists, and every form of minority, especially Black people (who he would address by various slurs I'm definitely not going to repeat here), and was permanently angry at the world and abusive to his wife. As with another great sitcom from ALS, Steptoe and Son, which Norman Lear adapted for the US as Sanford and Son, Til Death Us Do Part was also adapted by Lear, and became All in the Family. But while Archie Bunker, the character based on Garnett in the US version, has some redeeming qualities because of the nature of US network sitcom, Alf Garnett has absolutely none, and is as purely unpleasant and unsympathetic a character as has ever been created -- which sadly didn't stop a section of the audience from taking him as a character to be emulated. A big part of the show's dynamic was the relationship between Garnett and his socialist son-in-law from Liverpool, played by Anthony Booth, himself a Liverpudlian socialist who would later have a similarly contentious relationship with his own decidedly non-socialist son-in-law, the future Prime Minister Tony Blair. Garnett was as close to foul-mouthed as was possible on British TV at the time, with Speight regularly negotiating with the BBC bosses to be allowed to use terms that were not otherwise heard on TV, and used various offensive terms about his family, including referring to his son-in-law as a "randy Scouse git". Dolenz had heard the phrase on TV, had no idea what it meant but loved the sound of it, and gave the song that title. But when the record came out in the UK, he was baffled to be told that the phrase -- which he'd picked up from a BBC TV show, after all -- couldn't be said normally on BBC broadcasts, so they would need to retitle the track. The translation into American English that Dolenz uses in his live shows to explain this to Americans is to say that "randy Scouse git" means "horny Liverpudlian putz", and that's more or less right. Dolenz took the need for an alternative title literally, and so the track that went to number two in the UK charts was titled "Alternate Title": [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Randy Scouse Git"] The album itself went to number one in both the US and the UK, though it was pushed off the top spot almost straight away by the release of Sgt Pepper. As sessions for Headquarters were finishing up, the group were already starting to think about their next album -- season two of the TV show was now in production, and they'd need to keep generating yet more musical material for it. One person they turned to was a friend of Chip Douglas'. Before the Turtles, Douglas had been in the Modern Folk Quartet, and they'd recorded "This Could Be the Night", which had been written for them by Harry Nilsson: [Excerpt: The MFQ, "This Could Be The Night"] Nilsson had just started recording his first solo album proper, at RCA Studios, the same studios that the Monkees were using. At this point, Nilsson still had a full-time job in a bank, working a night shift there while working on his album during the day, but Douglas knew that Nilsson was a major talent, and that assessment was soon shared by the group when Nilsson came in to demo nine of his songs for them: [Excerpt: Harry Nilsson, "1941 (demo)"] According to Nilsson, Nesmith said after that demo session "You just sat down there and blew our minds. We've been looking for songs, and you just sat down and played an *album* for us!" While the Monkees would attempt a few of Nilsson's songs over the next year or so, the first one they chose to complete was the first track recorded for their next album, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, and Jones, Ltd., a song which from the talkback at the beginning of the demo was always intended for Davy Jones to sing: [Excerpt: Harry Nilsson, "Cuddly Toy (demo)"] Oddly, given his romantic idol persona, a lot of the songs given to Jones to sing were anti-romantic, and often had a cynical and misogynistic edge. This had started with the first album's "I Want to Be Free", but by Pisces, it had gone to ridiculous extremes. Of the four songs Jones sings on the album, "Hard to Believe", the first song proper that he ever co-wrote, is a straightforward love  song, but the other three have a nasty edge to them. A remade version of Jeff Barry's "She Hangs Out" is about an underaged girl, starts with the lines "How old d'you say your sister was? You know you'd better keep an eye on her" and contains lines like "she could teach you a thing or two" and "you'd better get down here on the double/before she gets her pretty little self in trouble/She's so fine". Goffin and King's "Star Collector" is worse, a song about a groupie with lines like "How can I love her, if I just don't respect her?" and "It won't take much time, before I get her off my mind" But as is so often the way, these rather nasty messages were wrapped up in some incredibly catchy music, and that was even more the case with "Cuddly Toy", a song which at least is more overtly unpleasant -- it's very obvious that Nilsson doesn't intend the protagonist of the song to be at all sympathetic, which is possibly not the case in "She Hangs Out" or "Star Collector". But the character Jones is singing is *viciously* cruel here, mocking and taunting a girl who he's coaxed to have sex with him, only to scorn her as soon as he's got what he wanted: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Cuddly Toy"] It's a great song if you like the cruelest of humour combined with the cheeriest of music, and the royalties from the song allowed Nilsson to quit the job at the bank. "Cuddly Toy", and Chip Douglas and Bill Martin's song "The Door Into Summer", were recorded the same way as Headquarters, with the group playing *as a group*, but as recordings for the album progressed the group fell into a new way of working, which Peter Tork later dubbed "mixed-mode". They didn't go back to having tracks cut for them by session musicians, apart from Jones' song "Hard to Believe", for which the entire backing track was created by one of his co-writers overdubbing himself, but Dolenz, who Tork always said was "incapable of repeating a triumph", was not interested in continuing to play drums in the studio. Instead, a new hybrid Monkees would perform most of the album. Nesmith would still play the lead guitar, Tork would provide the keyboards, Chip Douglas would play all the bass and add some additional guitar, and "Fast" Eddie Hoh, the session drummer who had been a touring drummer with the Modern Folk Quartet and the Mamas and the Papas, among others, would play drums on the records, with Dolenz occasionally adding a bit of acoustic guitar. And this was the lineup that would perform on the hit single from Pisces. "Pleasant Valley Sunday" was written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, who had written several songs for the group's first two albums (and who would continue to provide them with more songs). As with their earlier songs for the group, King had recorded a demo: [Excerpt: Carole King, "Pleasant Valley Sunday (demo)"] Previously -- and subsequently -- when presented with a Carole King demo, the group and their producers would just try to duplicate it as closely as possible, right down to King's phrasing. Bob Rafelson has said that he would sometimes hear those demos and wonder why King didn't just make records herself -- and without wanting to be too much of a spoiler for a few years' time, he wasn't the only one wondering that. But this time, the group had other plans. In particular, they wanted to make a record with a strong guitar riff to it -- Nesmith has later referenced their own "Last Train to Clarksville" and the Beatles' "Day Tripper" as two obvious reference points for the track. Douglas came up with a riff and taught it to Nesmith, who played it on the track: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Pleasant Valley Sunday"] The track also ended with the strongest psychedelic -- or "psycho jello" as the group would refer to it -- freak out that they'd done to this point, a wash of saturated noise: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Pleasant Valley Sunday"] King was unhappy with the results, and apparently glared at Douglas the next time they met. This may be because of the rearrangement from her intentions, but it may also be for a reason that Douglas later suspected. When recording the track, he hadn't been able to remember all the details of her demo, and in particular he couldn't remember exactly how the middle eight went. This is the version on King's demo: [Excerpt: Carole King, "Pleasant Valley Sunday (demo)"] While here's how the Monkees rendered it, with slightly different lyrics: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Pleasant Valley Sunday"] I also think there's a couple of chord changes in the second verse that differ between King and the Monkees, but I can't be sure that's not my ears deceiving me. Either way, though, the track was a huge success, and became one of the group's most well-known and well-loved tracks, making number three on the charts behind "All You Need is Love" and "Light My Fire". And while it isn't Dolenz drumming on the track, the fact that it's Nesmith playing guitar and Tork on the piano -- and the piano part is one of the catchiest things on the record -- meant that they finally had a proper major hit on which they'd played (and it seems likely that Dolenz contributed some of the acoustic rhythm guitar on the track, along with Bill Chadwick, and if that's true all three Monkee instrumentalists did play on the track). Pisces is by far and away the best album the group ever made, and stands up well against anything else that came out around that time. But cracks were beginning to show in the group. In particular, the constant battle to get some sort of creative input had soured Nesmith on the whole project. Chip Douglas later said "When we were doing Pisces Michael would come in with three songs; he knew he had three songs coming on the album. He knew that he was making a lot of money if he got his original songs on there. So he'd be real enthusiastic and cooperative and real friendly and get his three songs done. Then I'd say 'Mike, can you come in and help on this one we're going to do with Micky here?' He said 'No, Chip, I can't. I'm busy.' I'd say, 'Mike, you gotta come in the studio.' He'd say 'No Chip, I'm afraid I'm just gonna have to be ornery about it. I'm not comin' in.' That's when I started not liking Mike so much any more." Now, as is so often the case with the stories from this period, this appears to be inaccurate in the details -- Nesmith is present on every track on the album except Jones' solo "Hard to Believe" and Tork's spoken-word track "Peter Percival Patterson's Pet Pig Porky", and indeed this is by far the album with *most* Nesmith input, as he takes five lead vocals, most of them on songs he didn't write. But Douglas may well be summing up Nesmith's *attitude* to the band at this point -- listening to Nesmith's commentaries on episodes of the TV show, by this point he felt disengaged from everything that was going on, like his opinions weren't welcome. That said, Nesmith did still contribute what is possibly the single most innovative song the group ever did, though the innovations weren't primarily down to Nesmith: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Daily Nightly"] Nesmith always described the lyrics to "Daily Nightly" as being about the riots on Sunset Strip, but while they're oblique, they seem rather to be about streetwalking sex workers -- though it's perhaps understandable that Nesmith would never admit as much. What made the track innovative was the use of the Moog synthesiser. We talked about Robert Moog in the episode on "Good Vibrations" -- he had started out as a Theremin manufacturer, and had built the ribbon synthesiser that Mike Love played live on "Good Vibrations", and now he was building the first commercially available easily usable synthesisers. Previously, electronic instruments had either been things like the clavioline -- a simple monophonic keyboard instrument that didn't have much tonal variation -- or the RCA Mark II, a programmable synth that could make a wide variety of sounds, but took up an entire room and was programmed with punch cards. Moog's machines were bulky but still transportable, and they could be played in real time with a keyboard, but were still able to be modified to make a wide variety of different sounds. While, as we've seen, there had been electronic keyboard instruments as far back as the 1930s, Moog's instruments were for all intents and purposes the first synthesisers as we now understand the term. The Moog was introduced in late spring 1967, and immediately started to be used for making experimental and novelty records, like Hal Blaine's track "Love In", which came out at the beginning of June: [Excerpt: Hal Blaine, "Love In"] And the Electric Flag's soundtrack album for The Trip, the drug exploitation film starring Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper and written by Jack Nicholson we talked about last time, when Arthur Lee moved into a house used in the film: [Excerpt: The Electric Flag, "Peter's Trip"] In 1967 there were a total of six albums released with a Moog on them (as well as one non-album experimental single). Four of the albums were experimental or novelty instrumental albums of this type. Only two of them were rock albums -- Strange Days by the Doors, and Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, & Jones Ltd by the Monkees. The Doors album was released first, but I believe the Monkees tracks were recorded before the Doors overdubbed the Moog on the tracks on their album, though some session dates are hard to pin down exactly. If that's the case it would make the Monkees the very first band to use the Moog on an actual rock record (depending on exactly how you count the Trip soundtrack -- this gets back again to my old claim that there's no first anything). But that's not the only way in which "Daily Nightly" was innovative. All the first seven albums to feature the Moog featured one man playing the instrument -- Paul Beaver, the Moog company's West Coast representative, who played on all the novelty records by members of the Wrecking Crew, and on the albums by the Electric Flag and the Doors, and on The Notorious Byrd Brothers by the Byrds, which came out in early 1968. And Beaver did play the Moog on one track on Pisces, "Star Collector". But on "Daily Nightly" it's Micky Dolenz playing the Moog, making him definitely the second person ever to play a Moog on a record of any kind: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Daily Nightly"] Dolenz indeed had bought his own Moog -- widely cited as being the second one ever in private ownership, a fact I can't check but which sounds plausible given that by 1970 less than thirty musicians owned one -- after seeing Beaver demonstrate the instrument at the Monterey Pop Festival. The Monkees hadn't played Monterey, but both Dolenz and Tork had attended the festival -- if you watch the famous film of it you see Dolenz and his girlfriend Samantha in the crowd a *lot*, while Tork introduced his friends in the Buffalo Springfield. As well as discovering the Moog there, Dolenz had been astonished by something else: [Excerpt: The Jimi Hendrix Experience, "Hey Joe (Live at Monterey)"] As Peter Tork later put it "I didn't get it. At Monterey Jimi followed the Who and the Who busted up their things and Jimi bashed up his guitar. I said 'I just saw explosions and destruction. Who needs it?' But Micky got it. He saw the genius and went for it." Dolenz was astonished by Hendrix, and insisted that he should be the support act on the group's summer tour. This pairing might sound odd on paper, but it made more sense at the time than it might sound. The Monkees were by all accounts a truly astonishing live act at this point -- Frank Zappa gave them a backhanded compliment by saying they were the best-sounding band in LA, before pointing out that this was because they could afford the best equipment. That *was* true, but it was also the case that their TV experience gave them a different attitude to live performance than anyone else performing at the time. A handful of groups had started playing stadiums, most notably of course the Beatles, but all of these acts had come up through playing clubs and theatres and essentially just kept doing their old act with no thought as to how the larger space worked, except to put their amps through a louder PA. The Monkees, though, had *started* in stadiums, and had started out as mass entertainers, and so their live show was designed from the ground up to play to those larger spaces. They had costume changes, elaborate stage sets -- like oversized fake Vox amps they burst out of at the start of the show -- a light show and a screen on which film footage was projected. In effect they invented stadium performances as we now know them. Nesmith later said "In terms of putting on a show there was never any question in my mind, as far as the rock 'n' roll era is concerned, that we put on probably the finest rock and roll stage show ever. It was beautifully lit, beautifully costumed, beautifully produced. I mean, for Christ sakes, it was practically a revue." The Monkees were confident enough in their stage performance that at a recent show at the Hollywood Bowl they'd had Ike and Tina Turner as their opening act -- not an act you'd want to go on after if you were going to be less than great, and an act from very similar chitlin' circuit roots to Jimi Hendrix. So from their perspective, it made sense. If you're going to be spectacular yourselves, you have no need to fear a spectacular opening act. Hendrix was less keen -- he was about the only musician in Britain who *had* made disparaging remarks about the Monkees -- but opening for the biggest touring band in the world isn't an opportunity you pass up, and again it isn't such a departure as one might imagine from the bills he was already playing. Remember that Monterey is really the moment when "pop" and "rock" started to split -- the split we've been talking about for a few months now -- and so the Jimi Hendrix Experience were still considered a pop band, and as such had played the normal British pop band package tours. In March and April that year, they'd toured on a bill with the Walker Brothers, Cat Stevens, and Englebert Humperdinck -- and Hendrix had even filled in for Humperdinck's sick guitarist on one occasion. Nesmith, Dolenz, and Tork all loved having Hendrix on tour with them, just because it gave them a chance to watch him live every night (Jones, whose musical tastes were more towards Anthony Newley, wasn't especially impressed), and they got on well on a personal level -- there are reports of Hendrix jamming with Dolenz and Steve Stills in hotel rooms. But there was one problem, as Dolenz often recreates in his live act: [Excerpt: Micky Dolenz, "Purple Haze"] The audience response to Hendrix from the Monkees' fans was so poor that by mutual agreement he left the tour after only a handful of shows. After the summer tour, the group went back to work on the TV show and their next album. Or, rather, four individuals went back to work. By this point, the group had drifted apart from each other, and from Douglas -- Tork, the one who was still keenest on the idea of the group as a group, thought that Pisces, good as it was, felt like a Chip Douglas album rather than a Monkees album. The four band members had all by now built up their own retinues of hangers-on and collaborators, and on set for the TV show they were now largely staying with their own friends rather than working as a group. And that was now reflected in their studio work. From now on, rather than have a single producer working with them as a band, the four men would work as individuals, producing their own tracks, occasionally with outside help, and bringing in session musicians to work on them. Some tracks from this point on would be genuine Monkees -- plural -- tracks, and all tracks would be credited as "produced by the Monkees", but basically the four men would from now on be making solo tracks which would be combined into albums, though Dolenz and Jones would occasionally guest on tracks by the others, especially when Nesmith came up with a song he thought would be more suited to their voices. Indeed the first new recording that happened after the tour was an entire Nesmith solo album -- a collection of instrumental versions of his songs, called The Wichita Train Whistle Sings, played by members of the Wrecking Crew and a few big band instrumentalists, arranged by Shorty Rogers. [Excerpt: Michael Nesmith, "You Told Me"] Hal Blaine in his autobiography claimed that the album was created as a tax write-off for Nesmith, though Nesmith always vehemently denied it, and claimed it was an artistic experiment, though not one that came off well. Released alongside Pisces, though, came one last group-recorded single. The B-side, "Goin' Down", is a song that was credited to the group and songwriter Diane Hildebrand, though in fact it developed from a jam on someone else's song. Nesmith, Tork, Douglas and Hoh attempted to record a backing track for a version of Mose Allison's jazz-blues standard "Parchman Farm": [Excerpt: Mose Allison, "Parchman Farm"] But after recording it, they'd realised that it didn't sound that much like the original, and that all it had in common with it was a chord sequence. Nesmith suggested that rather than put it out as a cover version, they put a new melody and lyrics to it, and they commissioned Hildebrand, who'd co-written songs for the group before, to write them, and got Shorty Rogers to write a horn arrangement to go over their backing track. The eventual songwriting credit was split five ways, between Hildebrand and the four Monkees -- including Davy Jones who had no involvement with the recording, but not including Douglas or Hoh. The lyrics Hildebrand came up with were a funny patter song about a failed suicide, taken at an extremely fast pace, which Dolenz pulls off magnificently: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Goin' Down"] The A-side, another track with a rhythm track by Nesmith, Tork, Douglas, and Hoh, was a song that had been written by John Stewart of the Kingston Trio, who you may remember from the episode on "San Francisco" as being a former songwriting partner of John Phillips. Stewart had written the song as part of a "suburbia trilogy", and was not happy with the finished product. He said later "I remember going to bed thinking 'All I did today was write 'Daydream Believer'." Stewart used to include the song in his solo sets, to no great approval, and had shopped the song around to bands like We Five and Spanky And Our Gang, who had both turned it down. He was unhappy with it himself, because of the chorus: [Excerpt: John Stewart, "Daydream Believer"] Stewart was ADHD, and the words "to a", coming as they did slightly out of the expected scansion for the line, irritated him so greatly that he thought the song could never be recorded by anyone, but when Chip Douglas asked if he had any songs, he suggested that one. As it turned out, there was a line of lyric that almost got the track rejected, but it wasn't the "to a". Stewart's original second verse went like this: [Excerpt: John Stewart, "Daydream Believer"] RCA records objected to the line "now you know how funky I can be" because funky, among other meanings, meant smelly, and they didn't like the idea of Davy Jones singing about being smelly. Chip Douglas phoned Stewart to tell him that they were insisting on changing the line, and suggesting "happy" instead. Stewart objected vehemently -- that change would reverse the entire meaning of the line, and it made no sense, and what about artistic integrity? But then, as he later said "He said 'Let me put it to you this way, John. If he can't sing 'happy' they won't do it'. And I said 'Happy's working real good for me now.' That's exactly what I said to him." He never regretted the decision -- Stewart would essentially live off the royalties from "Daydream Believer" for the rest of his life -- though he seemed always to be slightly ambivalent and gently mocking about the song in his own performances, often changing the lyrics slightly: [Excerpt: John Stewart, "Daydream Believer"] The Monkees had gone into the studio and cut the track, again with Tork on piano, Nesmith on guitar, Douglas on bass, and Hoh on drums. Other than changing "funky" to "happy", there were two major changes made in the studio. One seems to have been Douglas' idea -- they took the bass riff from the pre-chorus to the Beach Boys' "Help Me Rhonda": [Excerpt: The Beach Boys, "Help Me Rhonda"] and Douglas played that on the bass as the pre-chorus for "Daydream Believer", with Shorty Rogers later doubling it in the horn arrangement: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Daydream Believer"] And the other is the piano intro, which also becomes an instrumental bridge, which was apparently the invention of Tork, who played it: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Daydream Believer"] The track went to number one, becoming the group's third and final number one hit, and their fifth of six million-sellers. It was included on the next album, The Birds, The Bees, and the Monkees, but that piano part would be Tork's only contribution to the album. As the group members were all now writing songs and cutting their own tracks, and were also still rerecording the odd old unused song from the initial 1966 sessions, The Birds, The Bees, and the Monkees was pulled together from a truly astonishing amount of material. The expanded triple-CD version of the album, now sadly out of print, has multiple versions of forty-four different songs, ranging from simple acoustic demos to completed tracks, of which twelve were included on the final album. Tork did record several tracks during the sessions, but he spent much of the time recording and rerecording a single song, "Lady's Baby", which eventually stretched to five different recorded versions over multiple sessions in a five-month period. He racked up huge studio bills on the track, bringing in Steve Stills and Dewey Martin of the Buffalo Springfield, and Buddy Miles, to try to help him capture the sound in his head, but the various takes are almost indistinguishable from one another, and so it's difficult to see what the problem was: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Lady's Baby"] Either way, the track wasn't finished by the time the album came out, and the album that came out was a curiously disjointed and unsatisfying effort, a mixture of recycled old Boyce and Hart songs, some songs by Jones, who at this point was convinced that "Broadway-rock" was going to be the next big thing and writing songs that sounded like mediocre showtunes, and a handful of experimental songs written by Nesmith. You could pull together a truly great ten- or twelve-track album from the masses of material they'd recorded, but the one that came out was mediocre at best, and became the first Monkees album not to make number one -- though it still made number three and sold in huge numbers. It also had the group's last million-selling single on it, "Valleri", an old Boyce and Hart reject from 1966 that had been remade with Boyce and Hart producing and their old session players, though the production credit was still now given to the Monkees: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Valleri"] Nesmith said at the time he considered it the worst song ever written. The second season of the TV show was well underway, and despite -- or possibly because of -- the group being clearly stoned for much of the filming, it contains a lot of the episodes that fans of the group think of most fondly, including several episodes that break out of the formula the show had previously established in interesting ways. Tork and Dolenz were both also given the opportunity to direct episodes, and Dolenz also co-wrote his episode, which ended up being the last of the series. In another sign of how the group were being given more creative control over the show, the last three episodes of the series had guest appearances by favourite musicians of the group members who they wanted to give a little exposure to, and those guest appearances sum up the character of the band members remarkably well. Tork, for whatever reason, didn't take up this option, but the other three did. Jones brought on his friend Charlie Smalls, who would later go on to write the music for the Broadway musical The Wiz, to demonstrate to Jones the difference between Smalls' Black soul and Jones' white soul: [Excerpt: Davy Jones and Charlie Smalls] Nesmith, on the other hand, brought on Frank Zappa. Zappa put on Nesmith's Monkee shirt and wool hat and pretended to be Nesmith, and interviewed Nesmith with a false nose and moustache pretending to be Zappa, as they both mercilessly mocked the previous week's segment with Jones and Smalls: [Excerpt: Michael Nesmith and Frank Zappa] Nesmith then "conducted" Zappa as Zappa used a sledgehammer to "play" a car, parodying his own appearance on the Steve Allen Show playing a bicycle, to the presumed bemusement of the Monkees' fanbase who would not be likely to remember a one-off performance on a late-night TV show from five years earlier. And the final thing ever to be shown on an episode of the Monkees didn't feature any of the Monkees at all. Micky Dolenz, who directed and co-wrote that episode, about an evil wizard who was using the power of a space plant (named after the group's slang for dope) to hypnotise people through the TV, chose not to interact with his guest as the others had, but simply had Tim Buckley perform a solo acoustic version of his then-unreleased song "Song to the Siren": [Excerpt: Tim Buckley, "Song to the Siren"] By the end of the second season, everyone knew they didn't want to make another season of the TV show. Instead, they were going to do what Rafelson and Schneider had always wanted, and move into film. The planning stages for the film, which was initially titled Changes but later titled Head -- so that Rafelson and Schneider could bill their next film as "From the guys who gave you Head" -- had started the previous summer, before the sessions that produced The Birds, The Bees, and the Monkees. To write the film, the group went off with Rafelson and Schneider for a short holiday, and took with them their mutual friend Jack Nicholson. Nicholson was at this time not the major film star he later became. Rather he was a bit-part actor who was mostly associated with American International Pictures, the ultra-low-budget film company that has come up on several occasions in this podcast. Nicholson had appeared mostly in small roles, in films like The Little Shop of Horrors: [Excerpt: The Little Shop of Horrors] He'd appeared in multiple films made by Roger Corman, often appearing with Boris Karloff, and by Monte Hellman, but despite having been a working actor for a decade, his acting career was going nowhere, and by this point he had basically given up on the idea of being an actor, and had decided to start working behind the camera. He'd written the scripts for a few of the low-budget films he'd appeared in, and he'd recently scripted The Trip, the film we mentioned earlier: [Excerpt: The Trip trailer] So the group, Rafelson, Schneider, and Nicholson all went away for a weekend, and they all got extremely stoned, took acid, and talked into a tape recorder for hours on end. Nicholson then transcribed those recordings, cleaned them up, and structured the worthwhile ideas into something quite remarkable: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Ditty Diego"] If the Monkees TV show had been inspired by the Marx Brothers and Three Stooges, and by Richard Lester's directorial style, the only precursor I can find for Head is in the TV work of Lester's colleague Spike Milligan, but I don't think there's any reasonable way in which Nicholson or anyone else involved could have taken inspiration from Milligan's series Q.  But what they ended up with is something that resembles, more than anything else, Monty Python's Flying Circus, a TV series that wouldn't start until a year after Head came out. It's a series of ostensibly unconnected sketches, linked by a kind of dream logic, with characters wandering from one loose narrative into a totally different one, actors coming out of character on a regular basis, and no attempt at a coherent narrative. It contains regular examples of channel-zapping, with excerpts from old films being spliced in, and bits of news footage juxtaposed with comedy sketches and musical performances in ways that are sometimes thought-provoking, sometimes distasteful, and occasionally both -- as when a famous piece of footage of a Vietnamese prisoner of war being shot in the head hard-cuts to screaming girls in the audience at a Monkees concert, a performance which ends with the girls tearing apart the group and revealing that they're really just cheap-looking plastic mannequins. The film starts, and ends, with the Monkees themselves attempting suicide, jumping off a bridge into the ocean -- but the end reveals that in fact the ocean they're in is just water in a glass box, and they're trapped in it. And knowing this means that when you watch the film a second time, you find that it does have a story. The Monkees are trapped in a box which in some ways represents life, the universe, and one's own mind, and in other ways represents the TV and their TV careers. Each of them is trying in his own way to escape, and each ends up trapped by his own limitations, condemned to start the cycle over and over again. The film features parodies of popular film genres like the boxing film (Davy is supposed to throw a fight with Sonny Liston at the instruction of gangsters), the Western, and the war film, but huge chunks of the film take place on a film studio backlot, and characters from one segment reappear in another, often commenting negatively on the film or the band, as when Frank Zappa as a critic calls Davy Jones' soft-shoe routine to a Harry Nilsson song "very white", or when a canteen worker in the studio calls the group "God's gift to the eight-year-olds". The film is constantly deconstructing and commenting on itself and the filmmaking process -- Tork hits that canteen worker, whose wig falls off revealing the actor playing her to be a man, and then it's revealed that the "behind the scenes" footage is itself scripted, as director Bob Rafelson and scriptwriter Jack Nicholson come into frame and reassure Tork, who's concerned that hitting a woman would be bad for his image. They tell him they can always cut it from the finished film if it doesn't work. While "Ditty Diego", the almost rap rewriting of the Monkees theme we heard earlier, sets out a lot of how the film asks to be interpreted and how it works narratively, the *spiritual* and thematic core of the film is in another song, Tork's "Long Title (Do I Have to Do This All Over Again?)", which in later solo performances Tork would give the subtitle "The Karma Blues": [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Long Title (Do I Have To Do This All Over Again?)"] Head is an extraordinary film, and one it's impossible to sum up in anything less than an hour-long episode of its own. It's certainly not a film that's to everyone's taste, and not every aspect of it works -- it is a film that is absolutely of its time, in ways that are both good and bad. But it's one of the most inventive things ever put out by a major film studio, and it's one that rightly secured the Monkees a certain amount of cult credibility over the decades. The soundtrack album is a return to form after the disappointing Birds, Bees, too. Nicholson put the album together, linking the eight songs in the film with collages of dialogue and incidental music, repurposing and recontextualising the dialogue to create a new experience, one that people have compared with Frank Zappa's contemporaneous We're Only In It For The Money, though while t

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We Will Rank You
The Best of Otis Redding ranked

We Will Rank You

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 9, 2023 100:09

What's your most loved and least favorite song on The Best of Otis Redding?! For the second of our four-episode series of Greatest Hits episodes, Sam chose a childhood favorite, possibly influenced by his parents going to school with Steve Cropper and Duck Dunn. Lots of fun chit chatter about the King of Soul! Guest rankings from Tyler Jacobson from Denver's Mile High Soul Club and Isaiah Mitchell from Earthless who's been moonlighting as the lead guitarist of a well known Otis Redding coverband called the Black Crowes. Follow us and weigh in with your favorites on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @wewillrankyoupod . FILE UNDER/SPOILERS: Mr. Pitiful, Steve Cropper, My Girl, Smokey Robinson, Respect, the Temptations, I've Been Loving You Too Long, Aretha Franklin, Love Man, the Commitments, Cigarettes And Coffee, Pretty In Pink, (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction, Bull Durham, Try A Little Tenderness, Rolling Stones, I Can't Turn You Loose, the Black Crowes, Hard To Handle, Jimmy Durante, the Blues Brothers, Isiah Mitchell, Earthless, Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song), Mile High Soul Club, (Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay, Shout Bamalama, Monterey Pop Festival. US: http://www.WeWillRankYouPod.com wewillrankyoupod@gmail.com http://www.facebook.com/WeWillRankYouPod http://www.instagram.com/WeWillRankYouPod http://www.twitter.com/WeWillRankYouPo http://www.YourOlderBrother.com (Sam's music page) http://www.YerDoinGreat.com (Adam's music page) https://open.spotify.com/user/dancecarbuzz (Dan's playlists)

A Big Sur Podcast
Dana Godbe Carnazzo, a Big Sur Wild Woman! Part 1.

A Big Sur Podcast

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 2, 2022 106:58

A wide ranging conversation sitting at Dana's house on her Mesa up Bixby. We have three dogs keeping us company and we talk about growing up in Big Sur, hanging out down Cannery Row, Monterey Pop Festival, VW bus around Europe, sailing in the Caribbean and South Pacific; anchoring in Hanavave Bay on Fatuhiva, Tuamotu and onwards...it's an amazing journey...

Rock N Roll Pantheon
Rock is Lit: Richard Fulco, Author of 'We Are All Together', On The Summer of Love & The Long Hot Summer of 1967, with Woodstock Photographer Elliott Landy

Rock N Roll Pantheon

Play Episode Listen Later Dec 1, 2022 72:16

In this episode of Rock is Lit, Richard Fulco, author of the new novel ‘We Are All Together', is here to take us on a rockin' jaunt through the late 1960s, where we'll encounter several iconic players on the music and literature scene from that era. If you're a fan of the Summer of Love and all the trimmings that go with it, you'll love his novel and this episode. Later, Elliott Landy drops by to talk even more about the 1960s music scene, a period he should know a lot about since he's been photographing rock stars since the mid-60s. Best known for his classic rock photographs, Elliott Landy was one of the first music photographers to be recognized as an “artist.” His celebrated works include album cover photographs for Bob Dylan's ‘Nashville Skyline', The Band's ‘Music From Big Pink' and ‘The Band' album, and Van Morrison's ‘Moondance'. He's also taken portraits of such rock icons as Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, etc. He was the official photographer of the 1969 Woodstock Festival. And . . . Elliott has a new book out, entitled ‘Photographs of Janis Joplin On the Road & On Stage', featuring 129 photos, including 100 unpublished, accompanied by Janis's own words from recorded interviews by David Dalton of ‘Rolling Stone' magazine. HIGHLIGHTS:Richard Fulco and I talk about Syd Barrett's descent into mental illness and his exit from Pink Floyd1967: The Summer of Love—music, culture, vibe—but for African Americans, 1967 was known as The Long Hot SummerRichard's music career when he was in his twentiesThe story and characters in ‘We Are All Together'—Syd Barrett as inspiration behind the character DylanThe Beatles' performance on the ‘Ed Sullivan Show' in 1964The quest for fame and having “IT”The American Dream and racism and toxic ChristianityCharles MansonThe Merry PrankstersThe significance of the title of the novel and its connection to The BeatlesAndy Warhol, The Factory, The Velvet Underground with Nico, Lou Reed and their role in the novelThe depiction of the Monterey Pop Festival in the story, especially the performance of Janis Joplin with Big Brother and the Holding CompanySome of the other icons who make cameos in the novel: Pete Townshend, Eric Burdon, Jann Wenner, Neal Cassady, William S. BurroughsWhat the Jack Kerouac classic novel ‘On the Road' means to Richard and meThe Monkees as a gateway drug to The BeatlesElliott Landy and I talk about How Elliott's concern about the Vietnam War brought him from a job as a photographer on a Danish film set back to America in the mid- to late 1960s to photograph peace demonstrationsHow a Country Joe and the Fish light show at The Anderson Theater in NYC's East Village started Elliott on a new career path photographing musiciansSeeing Janis Joplin, Tim Buckley, and Albert King perform the very first show at the Fillmore East on March 8, 1968Hanging out with Janis Joplin after a NYC gigElliott's style as a “fly on the wall” photographerShooting the album covers of The Band's ‘Music From Big Pink' and ‘The Band', Bob Dylan's ‘Nashville Skyline', and hanging out with guys in the town WoodstockHis experience as the official photographer at Woodstock in 1969 and the spirit of Woodstock and the 1960s MUSIC AND MEDIA IN THE EPISODE IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE:(Royalty Free Music) “Summer of Love” by Roy Edwin Williams“The King is Half-Undressed” by Jellyfish“Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding“See Emily Play” by Pink FloydRoger Waters talks about Syd Barrett on the Joe Rogan Experience“Four” by Sonny RollinsClip of Muhammad Ali explaining his anti-draft, anti-Vietnam War stance“I Am the Walrus” by The Beatles“Ball and Chain” performed by Janis Joplin with Big Brother and the Holding Company at Monterey Pop Festival“Heroin” by The Velvet Underground with Nico‘The Monkees' Theme Song“Itchykoo Park” by The Small Faces“I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag” by Country Joe and the Fish“Morning Glory” by Tim BuckleyCountry Joe and the Fish chant at Woodstock 1969“To Be Alone With You” by Bob DylanWavy Gravy at Woodstock“Woodstock” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young“Down on Me” Janis Joplin with Big Brother and the Holding Company LINKS: Richard's website, www.richardfulco.comRichard on Twitter and Instagram, @RichardFulco Link to clip of Roger Waters talking about Syd Barrett on the Joe Rogan Experience, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0BcKrk5tFnE&t=66s Elliott's website, www.elliottlandycomElliott on Instagram, @elliott_landy_photography Christy Alexander Hallberg's website: https://www.christyalexanderhallberg.com/Christy Alexander Hallberg Twitter, @ChristyHallbergChristy Alexander Hallberg Instagram, @christyhallbergChristy Alexander Hallberg YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfSnRmlL5moSQYi6EjSvqagLink to Christy Alexander Hallberg's short story on Janis Joplin, “Third Party,” published by ‘Eclectica', https://www.eclectica.org/v20n4/hallberg.html

A History Of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs
Episode 158: “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane

A History Of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 23, 2022

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.

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Talk and Rock Radio Podcast
Jules Alexander - The Association

Talk and Rock Radio Podcast

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 3, 2022 76:07

Jules Alexander (born September 25th, 1943, Chattanooga, Tennessee), an original member of the group The Association (vocals, lead guitar), used his middle name Gary on the group's first 2 albums. In 1967 Jules Alexander left the group to study meditation in India, returning to the group he had helped found in early 1969. He continued recording & touring with the group until leaving the group in early 1989. In September 2003, when the group was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, he joined former members at the induction ceremony in Niles, Ohio. He again rejoined the others for the taping of a PBS 60s rock music special 60's Experience on December 9th, 2004.   Once upon a time, The Association owned a large chunk of the pop-rock landscape. During the late 1960s, the group charted numerous radio-friendly hits such as “Cherish,” “Never My Love,” “Windy” and “Along Comes Mary.” Fifty years later, those classic songs have sustained the group who maintain a loyal following. “It's just amazing to see these 70-year-old people turn back into kids when we play those songs,” says Jules Alexander, lead guitarist, vocalist and co-founder member of The Association. “We have a shared body of experience with our audience and it's so much fun to play for them.” The Association is also sharing an experience with five other headline artists of the '60s and '70s when The Happy Together Tour returns to Phoenix's Celebrity Theater at 8 p.m. Friday, July 21. The acclaimed summer tour is back and will feature 53 Billboard hits and some of the biggest songs of the era. In addition to the Association, the lineup includes The Turtles featuring Flo & Eddie, The Box Tops, The Cowsills, Chuck Negron formerly of Three Dog Night and The Archies' Ron Dante. The Association is one of the most popular and successful bands to have come out of the '60s. They have sold millions of records and have seven Grammy Award nominations, and kicked off the historic Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. “It was a magical time and I remember having a great talk with Janis Joplin that weekend,” Alexander says. “We were backstage and just started talking about this, that and the other. It was the coolest thing.” He also thinks being a part of The Happy Together tour is cool, too. “I've known some of these folks and maintained a relationship with them for more than 50 years and then we've made some new friends, like the Cowsills, who are the funniest and most interesting people I think I've ever met in the music business,” Alexander says. Alexander says he also likes the format of the show, which allots each band 20 minutes to play its greatest hits. “We'd always want to play more but it's fun to go out there and go petal to the metal,” Alexander says. “If you're doing 30 songs, you have to pace yourself. On this tour, we don't have to worry about it.” #julesalexander #theassociation

My Rock Moment
Legendary Photographer Henry Diltz on the Eagles, Mama Cass Elliot, Monterey Pop and Woodstock '99

My Rock Moment

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 3, 2022 54:11

Iconic photographer Henry Diltz has shot more than 250 album covers and thousands of publicity shots in the ‘60s and ‘70s, for bands and artists such as The Doors, the Eagles, Neil Young, Crosby Stills & Nash, Jackson Browne, America, Steppenwolf, James Taylor, Jimi Hendrix, The Monkees and David Cassidy. He was the official photographer at the Woodstock festival in August 1969. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, LIFE, People, Rolling Stone, High Times and Billboard.My Rock Moment has been lucky enough to have Henry on twice, and in this episode we delve into the 70s, covering everything from the first two Eagles album covers, to meeting Jackson Browne for the first time to shooting James Taylor's Sweet Baby James album cover. Henry also recalls shooting Mama Cass in Palm Springs, Monterey Pop and Woodstock '99, which is getting quite a bit of attention recently due to the Netflix documentary that painted a dark picture of the 3 day festival.If you would like to check out some of Henry's iconic work, sold exclusively through The Morrison Hotel Gallery, click here: https://morrisonhotelgallery.com/collections/henry-diltzAnd don't forget to follow My Rock Moment on social:Instagram: @la_woman_rocksFacebook: https://morrisonhotelgallery.com/collections/henry-diltz

Jrodconcerts: The Podcast
2022 Rebels & Renegades: Festival Preview

Jrodconcerts: The Podcast

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 14, 2022 20:09

We welcome Dan Sheehan, Co-Founder of a brand new festival taking place in Monterey, CA called 'Rebels & Renegades, a 2-day music festival taking place October 15-16 at the Monterey Fair & Event Center in Monterey, CA, the once home to the famous Monterey Pop Festival. The stacked lineup includes Cody Jinks, Trampled by Turtles, Orville Peck, Houndmouth, The Cadillac Three, Shane Smith and The Saints, Nikki Lane, Sierra Hull, Fruition, Charles Wesley Godwin, Kat Hasty, Myron Elkins, Shooter Jennings and more. The team behind Rebels & Renegades, Good Vibez Presents, were inspired by the rebellious spirit and storytelling culture of Americana, outlaw country, bluegrass, and folk artists of today, saluting the outlaw in all of us with this year's musical and non-musical offerings. Dan walks us through how the festival came to be, the mission and purpose behind the company, the hollowed grounds of Monterey Pop and more. For more information on Rebels & Renegades Music Festival, visit: www.rebelsandrenegadesfest.com