Johnny Gold, the oldest friend we have in comedy, is someone we hold dear not only because he gave us our very first laugh when attempting stand-up, but has been so purely his hysterical himself on stage and has such a reverence for the art form of comedy. For decades, Johnny has been honing his craft all over the Greater LA Area stretching from Long Beach to the Inland Empire to the Sunset Strip, dedicated to perfecting his socio-political and vulnerability-when-it-comes-to-relationships comedy. We share in our mutual reverence for comedy for this week's TCB Field Report, no matter how many comedians self-deprecatingly exclude themselves as "artists". Follow Johnny on IG @johnnygold777 The Comedy Bureau @thecomedybureau across platforms and please, please support TCB via GoFundMe, Patreon, or on Venmo (@jakekroeger). Produced by Jake Kroeger Music by Brian Granillo Artwork by Andrew Delman and KT Photo by Jake Kroeger
Tom Werman was one of the most successful producers of the 70s and 80s. He's responsible for making Cheap Trick what they are thanks to his work on their first few albums. He's also behind some of the best power pop of the era like the Producers, Off Broadway, and Gary Myrick. And, he helped shape the sound of the Sunset Strip by producing massive albums by Motley Crue, Twisted Sister and Poison. Oh, he also discovered Ted Hugent, Boston, REO Speedwagon and more. Surprisingly, in the 90s he left it all behind to open a Bed and Breakfast. Tom elaborates on all of these and much more including not getting along with Dee Snider, some of his favorite lesser known projects like Mother's Finest, and why he walked away. Enjoy! www.patreon.com/thehustlepod
When people think about Country Music, they think of Music Row in Nashville, Punk Rock the lower east in Manhattan and 80''s metal hair bands it's the Sunset Strip in LA. Cities that reflect and project, the music created on their turf, in their clubs, garages and studios. When it comes to reggae music it's the fabled Orange Street in Downtown Kingston, a sacred strip just north of parade that has been accurately referred to as “Beat Street.” Rootsland is produced by Henry K Productions Inc. in association with Voice Boxx Studios in Kingston, Jamaica. Guest Vocals by: Patrick "Curly Loxx" Gaynor, Adam "Teacha" Barnes , Steve Briskman. Anica, Siamusic production and sound design by Henry K This chapter features: "In this Love" (Instrumental) by Stick Figure "Here I Am" by Sugar Black "Yesterday Once More" Sugar Black & Lehbanchuleh additional music under license from artlist.io and beatstars.com Look out for our new album available on all platforms The Rootsland Gang: Fighting Babylon since 1991 featuring Wayne Armond, Edi Fitzroy, Luciano, and Deadly Headly https://ffm.to/drrn2br The Rootsland (Original Podcast Soundtrack) featuring timeless reggae tracks performed by Wayne Armond, Bob Andy, Deadly Headley Bennett, Garnett Silk, Halfpint is available everywhere you download and stream music https://ffm.to/emx6ek4contact us: Rootslandpodcast@gmail.com Follow Us: Legends of Reggae | Facebook
Mike Matthews discusses the midweek craziness in the news and the interesting story that happened to Mike at the Roxy on the Sunset Strip. Join Mike as he podcasts live from Cafe Anyway with Chely Shoehart, Floyd the Floorman, and John Deer the Engineer. Next show is Benita, the Disgruntled Fiddle Player, and the Brewmaster.
When your dad manages bands like Rage Against the Machine and Quiet Riot, there's a good chance you'll end up in the music biz - and an even greater chance you will do so LOUDLY. While Jessica Entner did both of those things, it took some perseverance for her to be heard. As an Executive Creative Music Producer/Supervisor, Jess helped companies succeed and artists break out, but in the shifting ground of the pandemic, decided it was time to build her own brand. She founded J.E.M Music Strategy and Production in 2021, a full service music agency specializing in branded entertainment and advertising. We've been friends and colleagues for a long time, and it was enlightening - and FUN! - to catch up and to rap about the toll - and silver linings - of the past few years.Note: I am currently collaborating with Jess and composer Daniel Teo of J.E.M on the theme song for my new YES, BRAND podcast, debuting December 1!Key Takeaways:As we stumble through what often feels like the modern Dark Ages, we sometimes tumble into the light.If you have kids but still feel like a kid, you're not alone.If you haven't been on a game show yet, you should try it! More About Jess:A former singer/songwriter signed to Warner Chappell, Jessica has worked in all facets of the music industry during her 20+year career. Growing up in LA, her formative years were spent going to shows on the Sunset Strip. Her father, Warren Entner, was a top manager for rock bands, including Rage Against The Machine, Faith NO More, Deftones, Quiet Riot…etc., her education in the music industry was hands on from day one. As a female entrepreneur, a mom, and an ADHD advocate, Jessica has navigated her success from entry level to business owner, while also trying to understand how her neuro-divergence can be a super power. Her strong belief in equity in the music industry, especially for women and people of color, is a core value and company mission. Find Jess:IG: @J.e.musicstrategywww.je-music.com If you enjoyed listening to Truth Tastes Funny, please leave a 5-star rating and a 300-word review on Apple Podcasts (click Listen on Apple Podcasts to access review option)Follow us on Instagram: @truthtastesfunnyFollow Hersh on Instagram: @Hersh4allon LinkedIn: HershRephunon YouTube: HershRephunon Twitter: @TruthTstsFunnyOur Website: TruthTastesFunnyContact UsExplore Branded Ventures with Truth Tastes Funny and Hersh's YES, BRAND Podcast
Mike Matthews discusses the midweek craziness in the news and the interesting story that happened to Mike at the Roxy on the Sunset Strip. Join Mike as he podcasts live from Cafe Anyway with Chely Shoehart, Floyd the Floorman, and John Deer the Engineer. Next show is Benita, the Disgruntled Fiddle Player, and the Brewmaster.
This week, Steve and the Kiss Krew talk about their experiences on the high seas with the Kiss Kruise! How did the boys fare on the Sunset Strip? Did they have anyone making a fool of themselves on the boat? Will they be embarking on next year's boat? Tune in to find out! Hosted by Steve Wright, Brian "BC" Chapman and Ryan "BB" Bannon Special Guests: Rob Kelleher, Chris Granza, Rich Lien and Scott Sadowski Produced by Dylan Wright Music by Mark Sutorka Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PTHpodcast Spotify Playlist: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/71JuMDnnPw3qcX6FfB1j2g?si=5bc26f25daa847cd
The Secret Movie Club Team (Connor Lloyd Crews, Daniel Ott, and Craig Hammill) takes stage to talk at you about stand-up superstar Richard Pryror and his classic 1982 concert film Live on the Sunset Strip! The conversation then broadens out to talk about comedians in film and what they can bring to movies both in front of and behind the camera. Daniel explains why he thinks Eddie Murphy elevates Walter Hill's 48 Hrs. Connor comes clean about his anti-stand-up and pro-sketch bias. Craig mourns the loss of Robin Williams.
Host Nate Wilcox asks John about the ups and downs and self-imposed limitations that kept Arthur Lee and Love strictly a Southern California phenomenon.Buy the book and support the podcast.Download this episode.Have a question or a suggestion for a topic or person for Nate to interview? Email email@example.comFollow us on Twitter.Follow us on Facebook.Let It Roll is proud to be part of Pantheon Podcasts.
Tuesday, November 8, 2022 - Guest: David Fortin Been a while since you've been to the LA International Auto Show? Now might be the time to give it a try! Why? Watch this episode, featuring David Fortin. It's the only privately owned auto show that we know of. It's raining in LA, it's Election Day, and someone won 2 Billion Dollars right down the street. Powerball! David talks about his journey, beginning with the legendary House of Blues and ended up at the LA International Auto Show. This is the 115th incarnation and the goal is to make it more experiential. LA is the most influential car market in the world, and the LA Auto Show is an open platform for every brand and initiative in the market today. Lots of fun events, such as VIP guided tours, test drives on one of the 3 tracks and Formula Drift demos and more. EXCLUSIVE! David whips out the floorplan and we're all the first to see the layout of the show! November 18-27th are the dates and the LA conventions centre is the place! laautoshow.com is the place to find all the details. THANK YOU for being with us
There is no question that real estate agents who achieve million-dollar listing status are doing something right. But what exactly sets them apart from the rest of the pack? What traits and strategies do they use to achieve such impressive success? In order to thrive in this business, you need more than just a license and a pulse. You need to be knowledgeable about the real estate market, have a strong network of contacts, and be able to close deals quickly and efficiently. And most importantly, you need to be hungry for success. Let's take a closer look at what it takes to become a million-dollar listing agent and explore some tips and tactics that you can use to help you reach this level of success in your own career. Brian Charlesworth joins James Harris, Principal at The Agency, Bond Street Partners, and former cast of The Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles as he shares his story from quitting school at 16 to breaking numerous records in the real estate industry by specializing in multi-million properties in L.A. Top Takeaways: (04:49) How James started his business with his partner David Parnes (06:33) The difference between today's economy and the one in 2008 (07:58) Why agents need to step out of their comfort zone (09:15) Why James thinks that the next 8 to 12 months will be rough for real estate agents (11:16) How James went from being new to the business to selling $120 million listings (13:09) What developers really care about (13:25) What James considers as the backbone of their business (14:32) The good thing about open houses (15:45) The biggest attribute to their success (16:50) Why James decided to keep their team relatively small (18:03) Why you need to bombard your open houses with signs (21:51) The advantage of getting a coach (23:28) How James' casting in the Million Dollar Listing reality show came about (26:39) What does James' team do to market multi-million dollars today (31:33) James' advice to parents Connect with James Harris LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamesbondst/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/JamesBondSt Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jamesbondst/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jamesbondst/ Website: https://www.bondstreetpartners.com/ Subscribe to The Blueprint newsletter: https://www.readtheblueprint.com/ About the guest: James Harris was born and raised in Central London. When he was a child, he suffered from extreme ADHD and was thrown out of every school. He then quit school altogether at 16. He found a job in real estate as a residential assistant within an agency. He worked his way up the ranks and moved into the commercial sector within the same company. When James turned 21, he headed west to Los Angeles to broaden his horizon and ended up trading commodities. As the economy was getting back on its feet after the 2008 crash, James and his childhood friend, David Parnes, decided to set up their own real estate business. Due to his determined work ethic, good relationship with clients, and a group of incredibly talented people, James and his team have reached a steady incline in sales year over year, with over $3 billion in sales since 2017. They have also broken numerous records including the sale of “The Manor” which is worth $120 million, setting the record for the highest sale in Holmby Hills, the 6th highest sale ever in Los Angeles County, and the 10th highest sale in U.S. history. James and his partner were also part of the cast of the reality show, Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles for 7 seasons. They have recently left the show to focus on their business partnership. Today, James Harris is the Principal at The Agency, Bond Street Partners where they specialize in high-end residential real estate and investment properties in Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Holmby Hills, Sunset Strip, the Hollywood Hills, Brentwood, Pacific Palisades, Malibu, and the greater Los Angeles region.
Adam Luksetich is a musician, DJ and resident "metal head" at The Numero Group. He is also the producer of Bound For Hell-On The Sunset Strip, a multi-medium release that explores and celebrates the lesser known bands of the early 80's Los Angeles glam rock scene, just before the ultra popular Poisons and Motley Crue's of the same era. In this episode, Adam shares what he gleaned from his extensive research, why some of these bands went unnoticed and the difference between "glam" metal and "hair" metal. Joe and Adam speculate on the demise of the genre, the influence behind it and why women were underrepresented. We get a some insight on the process of making this extensive box set and hear a couple tunes. https://numerogroup.com/Use coupon code FRET10 to claim 10% off your iZotope plug-in purchase or try Music Production Suite Pro free for 30 days.Go to www.izotope.com/en/lp/ruinous @thetourstories
Just in time for Halloween, we're discussing Alice Cooper and perhaps the greatest album ever about time spent in an insane asylum: From the Inside. And joining us again is the one and only Chris Czynszak from Decibel Geek Podcast! In addition to talking about the upcoming ROCKNPOD and Alice Cooper, we also discuss the late Dick Wagner, legendary spots on the Sunset Strip, Pink Floyd's The Wall and how it stacks up against Alice's institutionalized opus, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, sexy nurses, and dogs versus cats…!!!
On this episode of THE COCKTAIL GURU PODCAST, the pioneering—and truffle-loving—Ken Frank, Owner-Chef at legendary La Toque restaurant, shares his California culinary journey, from the glitz and glamor of LA's Sunset Strip to vibrant and wine-rich Napa Valley, with hosts Jonathan & Jeffrey Pogash. Plus enjoy the show's two new spirited features: Tipple Time and Top Off! All brought to you by Citadelle Gin and The Perfect Purée of Napa Valley. THE COCKTAIL GURU PODCAST is produced by 1st Reel Entertainment and distributed by EatsDrinksTV, a service of the Center for Culinary Culture—Home of The Cocktail Collection, and is available wherever fine podcasts can be heard. The Center for Culinary Culture—Telling the Story of Food & Drink…One Taste at a Time. To learn more about Chef Ken Frank and read the show notes, visit The Cocktail Guru Podcast website. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/thecocktailgurupodcast/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/thecocktailgurupodcast/support
On this episode of the California Now Podcast, host Soterios Johnson explores the culture, music, and iconic attractions of West Hollywood through the eyes of three prominent locals. First, Johnson speaks with Rod Gruendyke, longtime general manager of the famed A-lister haunt, the Sunset Marquis. Gruendyke shares some of the stories he's accumulated over the decades, including tales of Green Day's prank wars, Paul Newman's culinary preferences, and an impromptu photo shoot with ZZ Top frontman Billy Gibbons. From Bono to Billy Bob Thornton to Rihanna, celebs swear by the Sunset Marquis, and our lead guest helps explain why the property is such a draw. Next, David Cooley, founder and CEO of the world-famous gay bar The Abbey, takes the California Questionnaire. The West Hollywood trailblazer shares how his California dream day would unfold, where he would like to go on the ultimate road trip, and his go-to place for a Golden State splurge. Lastly, Johnson connects with Tommy Black, musician and longtime GM of The Viper Room. Hear his song “Summer Took Me” play as Black chats with Johnson about the irresistible energy of the Sunset Strip and WeHo's evolving music scene, plus an anecdote from a memorable show with Willie Nelson and Woody Harrelson.
2 great guests: Billy Howerdel (A Perfect Circle/Ashes Divide) returns to dive deep into his album "What Normal Was," touring with Davie Bowie, and more about his Guns N' Roses tenure during Chinese Democracy. Then, acclaimed rock photographer and producer Keven Estrada joins. Kevin talks "Bound for Hell: On the Sunset Strip," a brand-new boxset featuring the unsung heroes of 80's metal. More info: billyhowerdel.com instagram.com/kevinestradaphotography/ https://ffm.to/bfh_otss (pre-order Bound for Hell) #billyhowerdel #gunsnroses #davidbowie
Become a Patron! Help to support the show at: https://www.patreon.com/TheCommute He's knocked on the door of fame and success--but could never quite grab the brass ring. Rock Star, Rik Fox, joins us today to talk about his amazing career--and how he was SO close SO many times! With all he has done, he has a wealth of stories from the Sunset Strip era and the CBGB's era--and I am a sucker for these tales! Sit back and listen to how cruel of a mistress the music industry can be,,,
Welcome to the legendary Viper Room of Sunset Strip, West Hollywood! Many a rocker/starlet/model/performer passed this way back in the 90s and we are here to tell the tale. There's a line out front and Iggy's on stage - Duritz is slinging shots, and The Man in Black is quoting movies... Lines, lines - lines everywhere... It doesn't get more Rock n' Roll than this gaff - cheesy Aussie soap actors notwithstanding. There's always one. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/societyowesmeagenxpodcast/message
River Phoenix survived a turbulent childhood to become one of the greatest young actors of the 1980s. He shined in movies like Stand By Me, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Running on Empty (for which he received an Oscar nomination).By 1990, he was starring in more adult-oriented arthouse flicks like My Own Private Idaho, where he took method acting to a new level -- and received critical acclaim. Underneath his public image, however, was something darker. Pressure and fame got to him. Drugs became his friend. And they would be his undoing. It all happened one infamous night at the Viper Room on the Sunset Strip, Halloween 1993. Who's responsible? Could he have been saved? What does Roger Ebert have to say about it? Find out all that and more!Death in Entertainment is hosted by Kyle Ploof, Mark Mulkerron and Alejandro Dowling.New episodes every Wednesday!https://linktr.ee/deathinentertainment
John Geiger began his love for music and drumming at an early age and spent his early band years playing 80's rock on the Sunset Strip and later moved on to country and classic rock. John pursued his music passion by creating a multi-decade career in the music product industry. John has spend over 30 years working in this industry with iconic brands such as Yamaha, D'Addario, KORG USA and Zildjian. John currently plays in the Scotty Mac Band who's regional success led to opening slots for national touring acts like Brett Young, Tyler Farr, Phil Vassar, Lee Brice and Chase Rice. The band performs at festivals around the country including Night in the Country, Country Fan Fest, Oregon Jamboree, Country Thunder, Coastal Country Jam among others. In 2016 McLaughlin released his first EP Messin' Around which was followed in 2018 with a sophomore album Starts With A Girl, both recorded in Nashville. The band won California Country Association's Entertainer of the Year in 2017. Today, fans can see the band playing in Nashville at bars such as Tin Roof, Winners and Ole' Red. In this episode, John talks about: Major changes in the retail industry over the last 40 years His job title and responsibilities at Zildjian / Vic Firth John's history in the music product industry The communal nature of drummers The business of endorsements News about supply chain issues
Staci Layne Wilson is a bestselling author, award winning filmmaker and the hostess of the popular “Rock'n'Roll Nightmares” podcast. One of her books, “So LA: A Hollywood Memoir” features wild anecdotes about Led Zeppelin, Metallica, and several others. The ultimate California girl, she's the daughter of a pinup model and Don Wilson, legendary guitarist and founding member of The Ventures. Staci wrote and directed the acclaimed documentary “The Ventures: Stars On Guitars” The film chronicles the group's incredible history. In this episode, Staci and hostess Pleasant Gehman chat about everything from the horror films Staci's directed, an odd Manson Family connection, the 1980's Sunset Strip hair metal scene and much more.
Staci Layne Wilson is a bestselling author, award winning filmmaker and the hostess of the popular “Rock'n'Roll Nightmares” podcast. One of her books, “So LA: A Hollywood Memoir” features wild anecdotes about Led Zeppelin, Metallica, and several others. The ultimate California girl, she's the daughter of a pinup model and Don Wilson, legendary guitarist and founding member of The Ventures. Staci wrote and directed the acclaimed documentary “The Ventures: Stars On Guitars” The film chronicles the group's incredible history. In this episode, Staci and hostess Pleasant Gehman chat about everything from the horror films Staci's directed, an odd Manson Family connection, the 1980's Sunset Strip hair metal scene and much more.
This week Jeremy interviews Sara Taylor of the band Youth Code On this episode Sara and Jeremy talk Beavis and Butthead, Depeche Mode, MTV Amp and discovering Electronica music, Deadsy, The Sunset Strip nu-metal scene, The Family Values 98 Tour, first touring experiences and traversing scenes, how Youth Code started, Heavens Blade, Commitment to Complications and working with Rhys Fulber, their first 7” on Angry Love Records, collaborating with King Yosef, and so much more! SUBSCRIBE TO THE PATREON to hear a bonus episode where Sara answered questions that were submitted by subscribers! Follow the show on INSTAGRAM and TWITTER Want some First Ever Podcast merch? Click here!
Welcome back! To another BRAND NEW season of Things Are Going Great For Me: The Podcast. In our first episode of Season 3 J. Claude Deering (Twitter/Instagram) chats with author and Tony Award-winning actor Ali Stroker (Only Murders In The Building/Hulu). Ali is a Tony Award-winning actor for her role as ‘Ado Annie' in the 2019 revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! She made history as the first actor in a wheelchair to appear on Broadway in Deaf West's acclaimed 2015 revival of Spring Awakening. She can be seen as a series regular on Netflix's number one show of 2022, “Echoes”, as well as on Hulu's highest rated series, “Only Murders in the Building." She also recurred on Netflix in “Ozark” and on ABC's “Ten Days in the Valley”. The past summer Ali starred in Shakespeare in the Park's production of Richard III as Anne. She's also performed concerts around the country in venues including the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and Carnegie Hall. In 2022, Audible Originals released her one-woman show, "An Evening With Ali Stroker". Ali is the proud author of the acclaimed 2021 novel, The Chance to Fly, while 2022 saw the publication of her children's book, Ali and the Sea Stars. Followed by a second interview with Assistant Director Ru Kazi (Welcome to Chippendales/Hulu). A multi-talented artist, and our first ever Assistant Director on the podcast. Ru is currently completing the Directors Guild Producer Training Program, with a specialization in Assistant Directing. They are currently working on various hit streaming series including Freeform's Good Trouble and the upcoming Hulu series Welcome to Chippendales, starring Kumail Nanjiani. Also a graduate of the Stella Adler Conservatory Ru has acted in both contemporary and classical plays, they've also directed plays, and they've made numerous television appearances in shows such as 2 BROKE GIRLS, NCIS and a recurring role on NBC's THE GOOD PLACE. Ru also made several award-winning short films, including LAST TO REPEAT, nominated for 12 awards. Ru regularly performs improv comedy as a main-stage player at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre and The Second City's Hollywood branch. In Ru's free time, they plays drums in a social justice punk rock band that regularly plays at famed Sunset Strip venues such as Whiskey-a-Go-Go and The Rainbow Room. Stick around for Ru's interview, we promise you, you're not gonna want to miss it. J. Claude is also joined by his producer and co-host Winston Carter (Twitter/Instagram) to chat the funniest celebrity to pass on this season of the podcast. It's "inconceivable!" If you like any of what you hear today, do us a BIG kindness - subscribe to the show. Leave us a nice comment. Tell your aunt about us! Give us those five stars wherever you're getting your podcasts from today. And subscribe to our Patreon for all our extras! We've got NEW episodes now premiering every Wednesday! Featuring interviews with John Clarence Stewart, Zibby Allen, Alyssa Limperis, Leonard Robinson, Claybourne Elder, Beth Riesgraf and Susie Abromeit, and more! --- Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/thingsaregoinggreatforme/support
On this episode of OMG HI, George and Gil are joined by comedian, podcaster, and filmmaker, Graham Elwood. They discuss the Chicago mob, avoiding cults, the Sunset Strip, Brazilians, Johnny Carson, and more! Follow @grahamelwood on all social media platforms and go to grahamelwood.com for tour dates.
Imagine your girlfriend is a female Ted Bundy and you end up taking the rap for most of the murders. She wasn't even hot. Goddamn... Sign up for Human Monsters Premium rewards at https://humanmonsters.supportingcast.fm/ Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Episode one hundred and fifty-four of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs is the last of our four-part mini-series on LA sunshine pop and folk-rock in summer 1967. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode. Patreon backers also have a fifteen-minute bonus episode available, on "Baby, Now That I've Found You" by the Foundations. 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 There is no Mixcloud this week, because there were too many Turtles songs in the episode. There's relatively little information available about the Turtles compared to other bands of their era, and so apart from the sources on the general LA scene referenced in all these podcasts, the information here comes from a small number of sources. This DVD is a decent short documentary on the band's career. Howard Kaylan's autobiography, Shell Shocked: My Life with the Turtles, Flo and Eddie, and Frank Zappa, Etc., is a fun read, if inevitably biased towards his own viewpoint. Jim Pons' Hard Core Love: Sex, Football, and Rock and Roll in the Kingdom of God is much less fun, being as it is largely organised around how his life led up to his latter-day religious beliefs, but is the only other book I'm aware of with a substantial amount of coverage of the Turtles. There are many compilations of the Turtles' material available, of which All The Singles is by far and away the best. The box set of all their albums with bonus tracks is now out of print on CD, but can still be bought as MP3s. Patreon This podcast is brought to you by the generosity of my backers on Patreon. Why not join them? Transcript We've spent a lot of time recently in the LA of summer 1967, at the point where the sunshine pop sound that was created when the surf harmonies of the Beach Boys collided with folk rock was at its apex, right before fashions changed and tight sunny pop songs with harmonies from LA became yesterday's news, and extended blues-rock improvisations from San Francisco became the latest in thing. This episode is the last part of this four-episode sequence, and is going to be shorter than those others. In many ways this one is a bridge between this sequence and next episode, where we travel back to London, because we're saying goodbye for a while to the LA scene, and when we do return to LA it will be, for the most part, to look at music that's a lot less sunshine and a lot more shadow. So this is a brief fade-out while we sing ba-ba-ba, a three-minute pop-song of an episode, a last bit of sunshine pop before we return to longer, more complicated, stories in two weeks' time, at which point the sun will firmly set. Like many musicians associated with LA, Howard Kaylan was born elsewhere and migrated there as a child, and he seems to have regarded his move from upstate New York to LA as essentially a move to Disneyland itself. That impression can only have been made stronger by the fact that soon after his family moved there he got his first childhood girlfriend -- who happened to be a Mouseketeer on the TV. And TV was how young Howard filtered most of his perceptions -- particularly TV comedy. By the age of fourteen he was the president of the Soupy Sales Fan Club, and he was also obsessed with the works of Ernie Kovacs, Sid Caesar, and the great satirist and parodist Stan Freberg: [Excerpt: Stan Freberg, "St. George and the Dragonet"] Second only to his love of comedy, though, was his love of music, and it was on the trip from New York to LA that he saw a show that would eventually change his life. Along the way, his family had gone to Las Vegas, and while there they had seen Louis Prima and Keeley Smith do their nightclub act. Prima is someone I would have liked to do a full podcast episode on when I was covering the fifties, and who I did do a Patreon bonus episode on. He's now probably best known for doing the voice of King Louis in the Jungle Book: [Excerpt: Louis Prima, "I Wanna Be Like You (the Monkey Song)"] But he was also a jump blues musician who made some very good records in a similar style to Louis Jordan, like "Jump, Jive, an' Wail" [Excerpt: Louis Prima, "Jump, Jive, an' Wail"] But like Jordan, Prima dealt at least as much in comedy as in music -- usually comedy involving stereotypes about his Italian-American ethnic origins. At the time young Howard Kaylan saw him, he was working a double act with his then-wife Keeley Smith. The act would consist of Smith trying to sing a song straight, while Prima would clown around, interject, and act like a fool, as Smith grew more and more exasperated, and would eventually start contemptuously mocking Prima. [Excerpt: Louis Prima and Keeley Smith, "Embraceable You/I've Got It Bad and That Ain't Good"] This is of course a fairly standard double-act format, as anyone who has suffered through an episode of The Little and Large Show will be all too painfully aware, but Prima and Smith did it better than most, and to young Howard Kaylan, this was the greatest entertainment imaginable. But while comedy was the closest thing to Kaylan's heart, music was a close second. He was a regular listener to Art Laboe's radio show, and in a brief period as a teenage shoplifter he obtained records like Ray Charles' album Genius + Soul = Jazz: [Excerpt: Ray Charles, "One Mint Julep"] and the single "Tossin' and Turnin'" by Bobby Lewis: [Excerpt: Bobby Lewis, "Tossin' and Turnin'"] "Tossin' and Turnin'" made a deep impression on Kaylan, because of the saxophone solo, which was actually a saxophone duet. On the record, baritone sax player Frank Henry played a solo, and it was doubled by the great tenor sax player King Curtis, who was just playing a mouthpiece rather than a full instrument, making a high-pitched squeaking sound: [Excerpt: Bobby Lewis, "Tossin' and Turnin'"] Curtis was of course also responsible for another great saxophone part a couple of years earlier, on a record that Kaylan loved because it combined comedy and rock and roll, "Yakety Yak": [Excerpt: The Coasters, "Yakety Yak"] Those two saxophone parts inspired Kaylan to become a rock and roller. He was already learning the clarinet and playing part time in an amateur Dixieland band, and it was easy enough to switch to saxophone, which has the same fingering. Within a matter of weeks of starting to play sax, he was invited to join a band called the Nightriders, who consisted of Chuck Portz on bass, Al Nichol on guitar, and Glen Wilson on drums. The Nightriders became locally popular, and would perform sets largely made up of Johnny and the Hurricanes and Ventures material. While he was becoming a budding King Curtis, Kaylan was still a schoolkid, and one of the classes he found most enjoyable was choir class. There was another kid in choir who Kaylan got on with, and one day that kid, Mark Volman came up to him, and had a conversation that Kaylan would recollect decades later in his autobiography: “So I hear you're in a rock 'n' roll band.” “Yep.” “Um, do you think I could join it?” “Well, what do you do?” “Nothing.” “Nothing?” “Nope.” “Sounds good to me. I'll ask Al.” Volman initially became the group's roadie and occasional tambourine player, and would also get on stage to sing a bit during their very occasional vocal numbers, but was mostly "in the band" in name only at first -- he didn't get a share of the group's money, but he was allowed to say he was in the group because that meant that his friends would come to the Nightriders' shows, and he was popular among the surfing crowd. Eventually, Volman's father started to complain that his son wasn't getting any money from being in the band, while the rest of the group were, and they explained to him that Volman was just carrying the instruments while they were all playing them. Volman's father said "if Mark plays an instrument, will you give him equal shares?" and they said that that was fair, so Volman got an alto sax to play along with Kaylan's tenor. Volman had also been taking clarinet lessons, and the two soon became a tight horn section for the group, which went through a few lineup changes and soon settled on a lineup of Volman and Kaylan on saxes, Nichol on lead guitar, Jim Tucker on rhythm guitar, Portz on bass, and Don Murray on drums. That new lineup became known as the Crossfires, presumably after the Johnny and the Hurricanes song of the same name: [Excerpt: Johnny and the Hurricanes, "Crossfire"] Volman and Kaylan worked out choreographed dance steps to do while playing their saxes, and the group even developed a group of obsessive fans who called themselves the Chunky Club, named after one of the group's originals: [Excerpt: The Crossfires, "Chunky"] At this point the group were pretty much only playing instrumentals, though they would do occasional vocals on R&B songs like "Money" or their version of Don and Dewey's "Justine", songs which required more enthusiasm than vocal ability. But their first single, released on a tiny label, was another surf instrumental, a song called "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde": [Excerpt: The Crossfires, "Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde"] The group became popular enough locally that they became the house band at the Revelaire Club in Redondo Beach. There as well as playing their own sets, they would also be the backing band for any touring acts that came through without their own band, quickly gaining the kind of performing ability that comes from having to learn a new artist's entire repertoire in a few days and be able to perform it with them live with little or no rehearsal. They backed artists like the Coasters, the Drifters, Bobby Vee, the Rivingtons, and dozens of other major acts, and as part of that Volman and Kaylan would, on songs that required backing vocals, sing harmonies rather than playing saxophone. And that harmony-singing ability became important when the British Invasion happened, and suddenly people didn't want to hear surf instrumentals, but vocals along the lines of the new British groups. The Crossfires' next attempt at a single was another original, this one an attempt at sounding like one of their favourite new British groups, the Kinks: [Excerpt: The Crossfires, "One Potato, Two Potato"] This change to vocals necessitated a change in the group dynamic. Volman and Kaylan ditched the saxophones, and discovered that between them they made one great frontman. The two have never been excessively close on a personal level, but both have always known that the other has qualities they needed. Frank Zappa would later rather dismissively say "I regard Howard as a fine singer, and Mark as a great tambourine player and fat person", and it's definitely true that Kaylan is one of the truly great vocalists to come out of the LA scene in this period, while Volman is merely a good harmony singer, not anything particularly special -- though he *is* a good harmony singer -- but it undersells Volman's contribution. There's a reason the two men performed together for nearly sixty years. Kaylan is a great singer, but also by nature rather reserved, and he always looked uncomfortable on stage, as well as, frankly, not exactly looking like a rock star (Kaylan describes himself not inaccurately as looking like a potato several times in his autobiography). Volman, on the other hand, is a merely good singer, but he has a naturally outgoing personality, and while he's also not the most conventionally good-looking of people he has a *memorable* appearance in a way that Kaylan doesn't. Volman could do all the normal frontman stuff, the stuff that makes a show an actual show -- the jokes, the dancing, the between-song patter, the getting the crowd going, while Kaylan could concentrate on the singing. They started doing a variation on the routine that had so enthralled Howard Kaylan when he'd seen Louis Prima and Keeley Smith do it as a child. Kaylan would stand more or less stock still, looking rather awkward, but singing like an angel, while Volman would dance around, clown, act the fool, and generally do everything he could to disrupt the performance -- short of actually disrupting it in reality. It worked, and Volman became one of that small but illustrious group of people -- the band member who makes the least contribution to the sound of the music but the biggest contribution to the feel of the band itself, and without whom they wouldn't be the same. After "One Potato, Two Potato" was a flop, the Crossfires were signed to their third label. This label, White Whale, was just starting out, and the Crossfires were to become their only real hit act. Or rather, the Turtles were. The owners of White Whale knew that they didn't have much promotional budget and that their label was not a known quantity -- it was a tiny label with no track record. But they thought of a way they could turn that to their advantage. Everyone knew that the Beatles, before Capitol had picked up their contracts, had had their records released on a bunch of obscure labels like Swan and Tollie. People *might* look for records on tiny independent labels if they thought it might be another British act who were unknown in the US but could be as good as the Beatles. So they chose a name for the group that they thought sounded as English as possible -- an animal name that started with "the", and ended in "les", just like the Beatles. The group, all teenagers at the time, were desperate enough that they agreed to change their name, and from that point on they became the Turtles. In order to try and jump on as many bandwagons as possible, the label wanted to position them as a folk-rock band, so their first single under the Turtles name was a cover of a Bob Dylan song, from Another Side of Bob Dylan: [Excerpt: Bob Dylan, "It Ain't Me Babe"] That song's hit potential had already been seen by Johnny Cash, who'd had a country hit with it a few months before. But the Turtles took the song in a different direction, inspired by Kaylan's *other* great influence, along with Prima and Smith. Kaylan was a big fan of the Zombies, one of the more interesting of the British Invasion groups, and particularly of their singer Colin Blunstone. Kaylan imitated Blunstone on the group's hit single, "She's Not There", on which Blunstone sang in a breathy, hushed, voice on the verses: [Excerpt: The Zombies, "She's Not There"] before the song went into a more stomping chorus on which Blunstone sang in a fuller voice: [Excerpt: The Zombies, "She's Not There"] Kaylan did this on the Turtles' version of "It Ain't Me Babe", starting off with a quiet verse: [Excerpt: The Turtles, "It Ain't Me Babe"] Before, like the Zombies, going into a foursquare, more uptempo, louder chorus: [Excerpt: The Turtles, "It Ain't Me Babe"] The single became a national top ten hit, and even sort of got the approval of Bob Dylan. On the group's first national tour, Dylan was at one club show, which they ended with "It Ain't Me Babe", and after the show the group were introduced to the great songwriter, who was somewhat the worse for wear. Dylan said “Hey, that was a great song you just played, man. That should be your single", and then passed out into his food. With the group's first single becoming a top ten hit, Volman and Kaylan got themselves a house in Laurel Canyon, which was not yet the rock star Mecca it was soon to become, but which was starting to get a few interesting residents. They would soon count Henry Diltz of the Modern Folk Quartet, Danny Hutton, and Frank Zappa among their neighbours. Soon Richie Furay would move in with them, and the house would be used by the future members of the Buffalo Springfield as their rehearsal space. The Turtles were rapidly becoming part of the in crowd. But they needed a follow-up single, and so Bones Howe, who was producing their records, brought in P.F. Sloan to play them a few of his new songs. They liked "Eve of Destruction" enough to earmark it as a possible album track, but they didn't think they would do it justice, and so it was passed on to Barry McGuire. But Sloan did have something for them -- a pseudo-protest song called "Let Me Be" that was very clearly patterned after their version of "It Ain't Me Babe", and which was just rebellious enough to make them seem a little bit daring, but which was far more teenage angst than political manifesto: [Excerpt: The Turtles, "Let Me Be"] That did relatively well, making the top thirty -- well enough for the group to rush out an album which was padded out with some sloppy cover versions of other Dylan songs, a version of "Eve of Destruction", and a few originals written by Kaylan. But the group weren't happy with the idea of being protest singers. They were a bunch of young men who were more motivated by having a good time than by politics, and they didn't think that it made sense for them to be posing as angry politicised rebels. Not only that, but there was a significant drop-off between "It Ain't Me Babe" and "Let Me Be". They needed to do better. They got the clue for their new direction while they were in New York. There they saw their friends in the Mothers of Invention playing their legendary residency at the Garrick Theatre, but they also saw a new band, the Lovin' Spoonful, who were playing music that was clearly related to the music the Turtles were doing -- full of harmonies and melody, and inspired by folk music -- but with no sense of rebelliousness at all. They called it "Good Time Music": [Excerpt: The Lovin' Spoonful, "Good Time Music"] As soon as they got back to LA, they told Bones Howe and the executives at White Whale that they weren't going to be a folk-rock group any more, they were going to be "good time music", just like the Lovin' Spoonful. They were expecting some resistance, but they were told that that was fine, and that PF Sloan had some good time music songs too. "You Baby" made the top twenty: [Excerpt: The Turtles, "You Baby"] The Turtles were important enough in the hierarchy of LA stars that Kaylan and Tucker were even invited by David Crosby to meet the Beatles at Derek Taylor's house when they were in LA on their last tour -- this may be the same day that the Beatles met Brian and Carl Wilson, as I talked about in the episode on "All You Need is Love", though Howard Kaylan describes this as being a party and that sounded like more of an intimate gathering. If it was that day, there was nearly a third Beach Boy there. The Turtles knew David Marks, the Beach Boys' former rhythm guitarist, because they'd played a lot in Inglewood where he'd grown up, and Marks asked if he could tag along with Kaylan and Tucker to meet the Beatles. They agreed, and drove up to the house, and actually saw George Harrison through the window, but that was as close as they got to the Beatles that day. There was a heavy police presence around the house because it was known that the Beatles were there, and one of the police officers asked them to drive back and park somewhere else and walk up, because there had been complaints from neighbours about the number of cars around. They were about to do just that, when Marks started yelling obscenities and making pig noises at the police, so they were all arrested, and the police claimed to find a single cannabis seed in the car. Charges were dropped, but now Kaylan was on the police's radar, and so he moved out of the Laurel Canyon home to avoid bringing police attention to Buffalo Springfield, so that Neil Young and Bruce Palmer wouldn't get deported. But generally the group were doing well. But there was a problem. And that problem was their record label. They rushed out another album to cash in on the success of "You Baby", one that was done so quickly that it had "Let Me Be" on it again, just as the previous album had, and which included a version of the old standard "All My Trials", with the songwriting credited to the two owners of White Whale records. And they pumped out a lot of singles. A LOT of singles, ranging from a song written for them by new songwriter Warren Zevon, to cover versions of Frank Sinatra's "It Was a Very Good Year" and the old standard "We'll Meet Again". Of the five singles after "You Baby", the one that charted highest was a song actually written by a couple of the band members. But for some reason a song with verses in 5/4 time and choruses in 6/4 with lyrics like "killing the living and living to kill, the grim reaper of love thrives on pain" didn't appeal to the group's good-time music pop audience and only reached number eighty-one: [Excerpt: The Turtles, "Grim Reaper of Love"] The group started falling apart. Don Murray became convinced that the rest of the band were conspiring against him and wanted him out, so he walked out of the group in the middle of a rehearsal for a TV show. They got Joel Larson of the Grass Roots -- the group who had a number of hits with Sloan and Barri songs -- to sub for a few gigs before getting in a permanent replacement, Johnny Barbata, who came to them on the recommendation of Gene Clark, and who was one of the best drummers on the scene -- someone who was not only a great drummer but a great showman, who would twirl his drumsticks between his fingers with every beat, and who would regularly engage in drum battles with Buddy Rich. By the time they hit their fifth flop single in a row, they lost their bass player as well -- Chuck Portz decided he was going to quit music and become a fisherman instead. They replaced him with Chip Douglas of the Modern Folk Quartet. Then they very nearly lost their singers. Volman and Kaylan both got their draft notices at the same time, and it seemed likely they would end up having to go and fight in the Vietnam war. Kaylan was distraught, but his mother told him "Speak to your cousin Herb". Cousin Herb was Herb Cohen, the manager of the Mothers of Invention and numerous other LA acts, including the Modern Folk Quartet, and Kaylan only vaguely knew him at this time, but he agreed to meet up with them, and told them “Stop worrying! I got Zappa out, I got Tim Buckley out, and I'll get you out.” Cohen told Volman and Kaylan to not wash for a week before their induction, to take every drug of every different kind they could find right before going in, to deliberately disobey every order, to fail the logic tests, and to sexually proposition the male officers dealing with the induction. They followed his orders to the letter, and got marked as 4-F, unfit for service. They still needed a hit though, and eventually they found something by going back to their good-time music idea. It was a song from the Koppelman-Rubin publishing company -- the same company that did the Lovin Spoonful's management and production. The song in question was by Alan Gordon and Gary Bonner, two former members of a group called the Magicians, who had had a minor success with a single called "An Invitation to Cry": [Excerpt: The Magicians, "An Invitation to Cry"] The Magicians had split up, and Bonner and Gordon were trying to make a go of things as professional songwriters, but had had little success to this point. The song on the demo had been passed over by everyone, and the demo was not at all impressive, just a scratchy acetate with Bonner singing off-key and playing acoustic rhythm guitar and Gordon slapping his knees to provide rhythm, but the group heard something in it. They played the song live for months, refining the arrangement, before taking it into the studio. There are arguments to this day as to who deserves the credit for the sound on "Happy Together" -- Chip Douglas apparently did the bulk of the arrangement work while they were on tour, but the group's new producer, Joe Wissert, a former staff engineer for Cameo-Parkway, also claimed credit for much of it. Either way, "Happy Together" is a small masterpiece of dynamics. The song is structured much like the songs that had made the Turtles' name, with the old Zombies idea of the soft verse and much louder chorus: [Excerpt: The Turtles, "Happy Together"] But the track is really made by the tiny details of the arrangement, the way instruments and vocal parts come in and out as the track builds up, dies down, and builds again. If you listen to the isolated tracks, there are fantastic touches like the juxtaposition of the bassoon and oboe (which I think is played on a mellotron): [Excerpt: The Turtles, "Happy Together", isolated tracks] And a similar level of care and attention was put into the vocal arrangement by Douglas, with some parts just Kaylan singing solo, other parts having Volman double him, and of course the famous "bah bah bah" massed vocals: [Excerpt: The Turtles, "Happy Together", isolated vocals] At the end of the track, thinking he was probably going to do another take, Kaylan decided to fool around and sing "How is the weather?", which Bonner and Gordon had jokingly done on the demo. But the group loved it, and insisted that was the take they were going to use: [Excerpt: The Turtles, "Happy Together"] "Happy Together" knocked "Penny Lane" by the Beatles off the number one spot in the US, but by that point the group had already had another lineup change. The Monkees had decided they wanted to make records without the hit factory that had been overseeing them, and had asked Chip Douglas if he wanted to produce their first recordings as a self-contained band. Given that the Monkees were the biggest thing in the American music industry at the time, Douglas had agreed, and so the group needed their third bass player in a year. The one they went for was Jim Pons. Pons had seen the Beatles play at the Hollywood Bowl in 1964, and decided he wanted to become a pop star. The next day he'd been in a car crash, which had paid out enough insurance money that he was able to buy two guitars, a bass, drums, and amps, and use them to start his own band. That band was originally called The Rockwells, but quickly changed their name to the Leaves, and became a regular fixture at Ciro's on Sunset Strip, first as customers, then after beating Love in the auditions, as the new resident band when the Byrds left. For a while the Leaves had occasionally had guest vocals from a singer called Richard Marin, but Pons eventually decided to get rid of him, because, as he put it "I wanted us to look like The Beatles. There were no Mexicans in The Beatles". He is at pains in his autobiography to assure us that he's not a bigot, and that Marin understood. I'm sure he did. Marin went on to be better known as Cheech Marin of Cheech and Chong. The Leaves were signed by Pat Boone to his production company, and through that company they got signed to Mira Records. Their first single, produced by Nik Venet, had been a version of "Love Minus Zero (No Limit)", a song by Bob Dylan: [Excerpt: The Leaves, "Love Minus Zero (No Limit)"] That had become a local hit, though not a national one, and the Leaves had become one of the biggest bands on the Sunset Strip scene, hanging out with all the other bands. They had become friendly with the Doors before the Doors got a record deal, and Pat Boone had even asked for an introduction, as he was thinking of signing them, but unfortunately when he met Jim Morrison, Morrison had drunk a lot of vodka, and given that Morrison was an obnoxious drunk Boone had second thoughts, and so the world missed out on the chance of a collaboration between the Doors and Pat Boone. Their second single was "Hey Joe" -- as was their third and fourth, as we discussed in that episode: [Excerpt: The Leaves, "Hey Joe"] Their third version of "Hey Joe" had become a top forty hit, but they didn't have a follow-up, and their second album, All The Good That's Happening, while it's a good album, sold poorly. Various band members quit or fell out, and when Johnny Barbata knocked on Jim Pons' door it was an easy decision to quit and join a band that had a current number one hit. When Pons joined, the group had already recorded the Happy Together album. That album included the follow-up to "Happy Together", another Bonner and Gordon song, "She'd Rather Be With Me": [Excerpt: The Turtles, "She'd Rather Be With Me"] None of the group were tremendously impressed with that song, but it did very well, becoming the group's second-biggest hit in the US, reaching number three, and actually becoming a bigger hit than "Happy Together" in parts of Europe. Before "Happy Together" the group hadn't really made much impact outside the US. In the UK, their early singles had been released by Pye, the smallish label that had the Kinks and Donovan, but which didn't have much promotional budget, and they'd sunk without trace. For "You Baby" they'd switched to Immediate, the indie label that Andrew Oldham had set up, and it had done a little better but still not charted. But from "Happy Together" they were on Decca, a much bigger label, and "Happy Together" had made number twelve in the charts in the UK, and "She'd Rather Be With Me" reached number four. So the new lineup of the group went on a UK tour. As soon as they got to the hotel, they found they had a message from Graham Nash of the Hollies, saying he would like to meet up with them. They all went round to Nash's house, and found Donovan was also there, and Nash played them a tape he'd just been given of Sgt Pepper, which wouldn't come out for a few more days. At this point they were living every dream a bunch of Anglophile American musicians could possibly have. Jim Tucker mentioned that he would love to meet the Beatles, and Nash suggested they do just that. On their way out the door, Donovan said to them, "beware of Lennon". It was when they got to the Speakeasy club that the first faux-pas of the evening happened. Nash introduced them to Justin Hayward and John Lodge of the Moody Blues, and Volman said how much he loved their record "Go Now": [Excerpt: The Moody Blues, "Go Now"] The problem was that Hayward and Lodge had joined the group after that record had come out, to replace its lead singer Denny Laine. Oh well, they were still going to meet the Beatles, right? They got to the table where John, Paul, and Ringo were sat, at a tense moment -- Paul was having a row with Jane Asher, who stormed out just as the Turtles were getting there. But at first, everything seemed to go well. The Beatles all expressed their admiration for "Happy Together" and sang the "ba ba ba" parts at them, and Paul and Kaylan bonded over their shared love for "Justine" by Don and Dewey, a song which the Crossfires had performed in their club sets, and started singing it together: [Excerpt: Don and Dewey, "Justine"] But John Lennon was often a mean drunk, and he noticed that Jim Tucker seemed to be the weak link in the group, and soon started bullying him, mocking his clothes, his name, and everything he said. This devastated Tucker, who had idolised Lennon up to that point, and blurted out "I'm sorry I ever met you", to which Lennon just responded "You never did, son, you never did". The group walked out, hurt and confused -- and according to Kaylan in his autobiography, Tucker was so demoralised by Lennon's abuse that he quit music forever shortly afterwards, though Tucker says that this wasn't the reason he quit. From their return to LA on, the Turtles would be down to just a five-piece band. After leaving the club, the group went off in different directions, but then Kaylan (and this is according to Kaylan's autobiography, there are no other sources for this) was approached by Brian Jones, asking for his autograph because he loved the Turtles so much. Jones introduced Kaylan to the friend he was with, Jimi Hendrix, and they went out for dinner, but Jones soon disappeared with a girl he'd met. and left Kaylan and Hendrix alone. They were drinking a lot -- more than Kaylan was used to -- and he was tired, and the omelette that Hendrix had ordered for Kaylan was creamier than he was expecting... and Kaylan capped what had been a night full of unimaginable highs and lows by vomiting all over Jimi Hendrix's expensive red velvet suit. Rather amazingly after all this, the Moody Blues, the Beatles, and Hendrix, all showed up to the Turtles' London gig and apparently enjoyed it. After "She'd Rather Be With Me", the next single to be released wasn't really a proper single, it was a theme song they'd been asked to record for a dire sex comedy titled "Guide for the Married Man", and is mostly notable for being composed by John Williams, the man who would later go on to compose the music for Star Wars. That didn't chart, but the group followed it with two more top twenty hits written by Bonner and Gordon, "You Know What I Mean" and "She's My Girl". But then the group decided that Bonner and Gordon weren't giving them their best material, and started turning down their submissions, like a song called "Celebrity Ball" which they thought had no commercial potential, at least until the song was picked up by their friends Three Dog Night, retitled "Celebrate", and made the top twenty: [Excerpt: Three Dog Night, "Celebrate"] Instead, the group decided to start recording more of their own material. They were worried that in the fast-changing rock world bands that did other songwriters' material were losing credibility. But "Sound Asleep", their first effort in this new plan, only made number forty-seven on the charts. Clearly they needed a different plan. They called in their old bass player Chip Douglas, who was now an experienced hitmaker as a producer. He called in *his* friend Harry Nilsson, who wrote "The Story of Rock & Roll" for the group, but that didn't do much better, only making number forty-eight. But the group persevered, starting work on a new album produced by Douglas, The Turtles Present The Battle of the Bands, the conceit of which was that every track would be presented as being by a different band. So there were tracks by Chief Kamanawanalea and his Royal Macadamia Nuts, Fats Mallard and the Bluegrass Fireball, The Atomic Enchilada, and so on, all done in the styles suggested by those band names. There was even a track by "The Cross Fires": [Excerpt: The Cross Fires, "Surfer Dan"] It was the first time the group had conceived of an album as a piece, and nine of the twelve tracks were originals by the band -- there was a track written by their friend Bill Martin, and the opening track, by "The US Teens Featuring Raoul", was co-written by Chip Douglas and Harry Nilsson. But for the most part the songs were written by the band members themselves, and jointly credited to all of them. This was the democratic decision, but one that Howard Kaylan would later regret, because of the song for which the band name was just "Howie, Mark, Johnny, Jim & Al". Where all the other songs were parodies of other types of music, that one was, as the name suggests, a parody of the Turtles themselves. It was written by Kaylan in disgust at the record label, who kept pestering the group to "give us another 'Happy Together'". Kaylan got more and more angry at this badgering, and eventually thought "OK, you want another 'Happy Together'? I'll give you another 'Happy Together'" and in a few minutes wrote a song that was intended as an utterly vicious parody of that kind of song, with lyrics that nobody could possibly take seriously, and with music that was just mocking the whole structure of "Happy Together" specifically. He played it to the rest of the group, expecting them to fall about laughing, but instead they all insisted it was the group's next single. "Elenore" went to number six on the charts, becoming their biggest hit since "She'd Rather Be With Me": [Excerpt: The Turtles, "Elenore"] And because everything was credited to the group, Kaylan's songwriting royalties were split five ways. For the follow-up, they chose the one actual cover version on the album. "You Showed Me" is a song that Roger McGuinn and Gene Clark had written together in the very early days of the Byrds, and they'd recorded it as a jangly folk-rock tune in 1964: [Excerpt: The Byrds, "You Showed Me"] They'd never released that track, but Gene Clark had performed it solo after leaving the Byrds, and Douglas had been in Clark's band at the time, and liked the song. He played it for the Turtles, but when he played it for them the only instrument he had to hand was a pump organ with one of its bellows broken. Because of this, he had to play it slowly, and while he kept insisting that the song needed to be faster, the group were equally insistent that what he was playing them was the big ballad hit they wanted, and they recorded it at that tempo. "You Showed Me" became the Turtles' final top ten hit: [Excerpt: The Turtles, "You Showed Me"] But once again there were problems in the group. Johnny Barbata was the greatest drummer any of them had ever played with, but he didn't fit as a personality -- he didn't like hanging round with the rest of them when not on stage, and while there were no hard feelings, it was clear he could get a gig with pretty much anyone and didn't need to play with a group he wasn't entirely happy in. By mutual agreement, he left to go and play with Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, and was replaced by John Seiter from Spanky and Our Gang -- a good drummer, but not the best of the best like Barbata had been. On top of this, there were a whole host of legal problems to deal with. The Turtles were the only big act on White Whale records, though White Whale did put out some other records. For example, they'd released the single "Desdemona" by John's Children in the US: [Excerpt: John's Children, "Desdemona"] The group, being the Anglophiles they were, had loved that record, and were also among the very small number of Americans to like the music made by John's Children's guitarist's new folk duo, Tyrannosaurus Rex: [Excerpt: Tyrannosaurus Rex, "Debora"] When Tyrannosaurus Rex supported the Turtles, indeed, Volman and Kaylan became very close to Marc Bolan, and told him that the next time they were in England they'd have to get together, maybe even record together. That would happen not that many years later, with results we'll be getting to in... episode 201, by my current calculations. But John's Children hadn't had a hit, and indeed nobody on White Whale other than the Turtles had. So White Whale desperately wanted to stop the Turtles having any independence, and to make sure they continued to be their hit factory. They worked with the group's roadie, Dave Krambeck, to undermine the group's faith in their manager, Bill Utley, who supported the group in their desire for independence. Soon, Krambeck and White Whale had ousted Utley, and Krambeck had paid Utley fifty thousand dollars for their management contract, with the promise of another two hundred thousand later. That fifty thousand dollars had been taken by Krambeck as an advance against the Turtles' royalties, so they were really buying themselves out. Except that Krambeck then sold the management contract on to a New York management firm, without telling the group. He then embezzled as much of the group's ready cash as he could and ran off to Mexico, without paying Utley his two hundred thousand dollars. The Turtles were out of money, and they were being sued by Utley because he hadn't had the money he should have had, and by the big New York firm, because since the Turtles hadn't known they were now legally their managers they were in breach of contract. They needed money quickly, and so they signed with another big management company, this one co-owned by Bill Cosby, in the belief that Cosby's star power might be able to get them some better bookings. It did -- one of the group's first gigs after signing with the new company was at the White House. It turned out they were Tricia Nixon's favourite group, and so they and the Temptations were booked at her request for a White House party. The group at first refused to play for a President they rightly thought of as a monster, but their managers insisted. That destroyed their reputation among the cool antiestablishment youth, of course, but it did start getting them well-paid corporate gigs. Right up until the point where Kaylan became sick at his own hypocrisy at playing these events, drank too much of the complimentary champagne at an event for the president of US Steel, went into a drunken rant about how sick the audience made him, and then about how his bandmates were a bunch of sellouts, threw his mic into a swimming pool, and quit while still on stage. He was out of the band for two months, during which time they worked on new material without him, before they made up and decided to work on a new album. This new album, though, was going to be more democratic. As well as being all original material, they weren't having any of this nonsense about the lead singer singing lead. This time, whoever wrote the song was going to sing lead, so Kaylan only ended up singing lead on six of the twelve songs on what turned out to be their final album, Turtle Soup. They wanted a truly great producer for the new album, and they all made lists of who they might call. The lists included a few big names like George Martin and Phil Spector, but one name kept turning up -- Ray Davies. As we'll hear in the next episode, the Kinks had been making some astonishing music since "You Really Got Me", but most of it had not been heard in the US. But the Turtles all loved the Kinks' 1968 album The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society, which they considered the best album ever made: [Excerpt: The Kinks, "Animal Farm"] They got in touch with Davies, and he agreed to produce the album -- the first time he did any serious outside production work -- and eventually they were able to persuade White Whale, who had no idea who he was, to allow him to produce it. The resulting album is by far the group's strongest album-length work, though there were problems -- Davies' original mix of the album was dominated by the orchestral parts written by Wrecking Crew musician Ray Pohlman, while the group thought that their own instruments should be more audible, since they were trying to prove that they were a proper band. They remixed it themselves, annoying Davies, though reissues since the eighties have reverted to a mix closer to Davies' intentions. Some of the music, like Pons' "Dance This Dance With Me", perhaps has the group trying a little *too* hard to sound like the Kinks: [Excerpt: The Turtles, "Dance This Dance With Me"] But on the other hand, Kaylan's "You Don't Have to Walk in the Rain" is the group's last great pop single, and has one of the best lines of any single from the sixties -- "I look at your face, I love you anyway": [Excerpt: The Turtles, "You Don't Have to Walk in the Rain"] But the album produced no hits, and the group were getting more and more problems from their label. White Whale tried to get Volman and Kaylan to go to Memphis without the other band members to record with Chips Moman, but they refused -- the Turtles were a band, and they were proud of not having session players play their parts on the records. Instead, they started work with Jerry Yester producing on a new album, to be called Shell Shock. They did, though bow to pressure and record a terrible country track called "Who Would Ever Think That I Would Marry Margaret" backed by session players, at White Whale's insistence, but managed to persuade the label not to release it. They audited White Whale and discovered that in the first six months of 1969 alone -- a period where they hadn't sold that many records -- they'd been underpaid by a staggering six hundred and fifty thousand dollars. They sued the label for several million, and in retaliation, the label locked them out of the recording studio, locking their equipment in there. They basically begged White Whale to let them record one last great single, one last throw of the dice. Jim Pons had, for years, known a keyboard player named Bob Harris, and had recently got to know Harris' wife, Judee Sill. Sill had a troubled life -- she was a heroin addict, and had at times turned to streetwalking to earn money, and had spent time in prison for armed robbery -- but she was also an astonishing songwriter, whose music was as inspired by Bach as by any pop or folk composer. Sill had been signed to Blimp, the Turtles' new production and publishing company, and Pons was co-producing some tracks on her first album, with Graham Nash producing others. Pons thought one song from that album, "Lady-O", would be perfect for the Turtles: [Excerpt: Judee Sill, "Lady-O"] (music continues under) The Turtles stuck closely to Sill's vision of the song. So closely that you haven't noticed that before I started talking, we'd already switched from Sill's record to the Turtles' version. [Excerpt: The Turtles, "Lady-O"] That track, with Sill on guitar backing Kaylan, Volman, and Nichol's vocals, was the last Turtles single to be released while the band were together. Despite “Lady O” being as gorgeous a melody as has ever been produced in the rock world, it sank without trace, as did a single from the Shell Shock sessions released under a pseudonym, The Dedications. White Whale followed that up, to the group's disgust, with "Who Would Ever Think That I Would Marry Margaret?", and then started putting out whatever they had in the vaults, trying to get the last few pennies, even releasing their 1965 album track version of "Eve of Destruction" as if it were a new single. The band were even more disgusted when they discovered that, thanks to the flurry of suits and countersuits, they not only could no longer perform as the Turtles, but White Whale were laying legal claim to their own names. They couldn't perform under those names -- Howard Kaylan, Mark Volman, and the rest were the intellectual property of White Whale, according to the lawyers. The group split up, and Kaylan and Volman did some session work, including singing on a demo for a couple of new songwriters: [Excerpt: Steely Dan, "Everyone's Gone to the Movies"] When that demo got the songwriters a contract, one of them actually phoned up to see if Kaylan wanted a permanent job in their new band, but they didn't want Volman as well, so Kaylan refused, and Steely Dan had to do without him. Volman and Kaylan were despondent, washed-up, has-been ex-rock stars. But when they went to see a gig by their old friend Frank Zappa, it turned out that he was looking for exactly that. Of course, they couldn't use their own names, but the story of the Phlorescent Leech and Eddie is a story for another time...
In this episode of Tuna on Toast, Ted Stryker welcomes Jared Watson from Dirty Heads to the show. Dirty Heads just released their ninth full length studio album titled Midnight Control produced by Ryan Ogren. Jared and Stryker first connected long before the first Dirty Heads album was released. The guys chat about a fun night on the Sunset Strip with M. Shadows and The Rev from Avenged Sevenfold. Jared tells Stryker about how back in high school, both he and Duddy B would write rhymes....fun, funny, offensive rhymes. That lead to the guys writing their own original songs like "Antelope" and "I Got No Time". Jared gives so much love and props to the Beastie Boys, Pharcyde and Linkin Park! The guys chat about what actually IS success.... Jared tells Stryker the band talks about how they can improve after every show. These guys care! It's so cool to hear how dedicated they are as a band to the craft! Stryker and Jared discuss "Life's Been Good", the Dirty Heads cover of the Joe Walsh song. The guys play a game of "Dirty Heads" Jeopardy. Jared tells Stryker he's a huge Incubus fan! Jared conveys to Stryker that the new album Midnight Control is their best material, best album since Any Port in a Storm. Jared talks about his new vocal coach and the training involved plus applying it to the live show. Stryker asks Jared about the song "Vacation" going viral on TikTok. Jared also shares that each band member now has responsibilities within the band. Stryker asks Jared about the most expensive music videos Dirty Heads have created..... Stryker and Jared discuss the early shows at The Roxy and how Duddy would pack up party buses and fill up The Roxy with friends and fans from Huntington Beach! This led to the guys signing with their manager "Cheese"......who is still their manager. Jared and Stryker chat about Dirty Heads getting signed to Warner Bros. Records and also getting dropped by them, but...the good folks at WBR let Dirty Heads keep their master recordings! Jared Watson is one talented and dedicated dude! Thank you so much for watching and listening to another episode of Tuna on Toast with Stryker.
In this segment, Neeley talks about his trip to Los Angeles to hang out with Stephen Pearcy on his video shoot. They also talk about how COVID seems to be lightening up a little bit.Get all our episodes at www.theclassicmetalshow.comPlease SUBSCRIBE, click the notification bell, leave a comment or a like, and share this episode!**NOTE: Everything said here, and on every episode of all of our shows are 100% the opinions of the hosts. Nothing is stated as fact. Do your own research to see if their opinions are true or not.**
Today on part one of the Rarified Heir Podcast we are talking actor/musician/SAG-AFTRA VP David Jolliffe about growing up in Hollywood. You might remember David from his early work on the show Room 222 as Bernie (yes, the guy with the mass of red hair). You also might know David from one of his hundred plus commercials he's been in. Or perhaps you know his from his voice over/looping work on shows like Devlin. Well, maybe not Devlin, David didn't even remember that one. Regardless, David give us the lowdown on growing up the son of actress Glorya Lord who starred in shows like Mannix & The Doris Day Show and television executive Richard Jolliffe. Our conversation brings up the world he inhabited as a youth, a young adult and all the way through to now. David has fun and fascinating stories about everyone from Bruno Kirby and Michael Constantine to Sheryl Lee Ralph and Bruce Dern. We even get to talk about old school and long gone Sunset Strip restaurant Scandia where his dad frequented. It's a wild ride of SAG/AFTRA inner workings, his close friendship and musical partnerships with Billy Mumy and Shaun Cassidy, his time in and founding the infamous Hollywood Vampires as well as the kindness of Alice Cooper. Loved talking to David for this episode, so sit back, relax and take a listen to the Rarified Heir Podcast.
Episode one hundred and fifty-three of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at “Heroes and Villains” by the Beach Boys, and the collapse of the Smile album. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode. Patreon backers also have a sixteen-minute bonus episode available, on "I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night" by the Electric Prunes. 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 There is no Mixcloud this week, because there were too many Beach Boys songs in the episode. I used many resources for this episode. As well as the books I referred to in all the Beach Boys episodes, listed below, I used Domenic Priore's book Smile: The Story of Brian Wilson's Lost Masterpiece and Richard Henderson's 33 1/3 book on Van Dyke Parks' Song Cycle. Stephen McParland has published many, many books on the California surf and hot-rod music scenes, including several on both the Beach Boys and Gary Usher. His books can be found at https://payhip.com/CMusicBooks Andrew Doe's Bellagio 10452 site is an invaluable resource. Jon Stebbins' The Beach Boys FAQ is a good balance between accuracy and readability. And Philip Lambert's Inside the Music of Brian Wilson is an excellent, though sadly out of print, musicological analysis of Wilson's music from 1962 through 67. Catch a Wave: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson by Peter Ames Carlin is the best biography of Wilson. I have also referred to Brian Wilson's autobiography, I Am Brian Wilson, and to Mike Love's, Good Vibrations: My Life as a Beach Boy. As a good starting point for the Beach Boys' music in general, I would recommend this budget-priced three-CD set, which has a surprisingly good selection of their material on it, including the single version of “Heroes and Villains”. The box set The Smile Sessions contains an attempt to create a finished album from the unfinished sessions, plus several CDs of outtakes and session material. Transcript [Opening -- "intro to the album" studio chatter into "Our Prayer"] Before I start, I'd just like to note that this episode contains some discussion of mental illness, including historical negative attitudes towards it, so you may want to check the transcript or skip this one if that might be upsetting. In November and December 1966, the filmmaker David Oppenheim and the conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein collaborated on a TV film called "Inside Pop: The Rock Revolution". The film was an early attempt at some of the kinds of things this podcast is doing, looking at how music and social events interact and evolve, though it was dealing with its present rather than the past. The film tried to cast as wide a net as possible in its fifty-one minutes. It looked at two bands from Manchester -- the Hollies and Herman's Hermits -- and how the people identified as their leaders, "Herman" (or Peter Noone) and Graham Nash, differed on the issue of preventing war: [Excerpt: Inside Pop, the Rock Revolution] And it made a star of East Coast teenage singer-songwriter Janis Ian with her song about interracial relationships, "Society's Child": [Excerpt: Janis Ian, "Society's Child"] And Bernstein spends a significant time, as one would expect, analysing the music of the Beatles and to a lesser extent the Stones, though they don't appear in the show. Bernstein does a lot to legitimise the music just by taking it seriously as a subject for analysis, at a time when most wouldn't: [Excerpt: Leonard Bernstein talking about "She Said She Said"] You can't see it, obviously, but in the clip that's from, as the Beatles recording is playing, Bernstein is conducting along with the music, as he would a symphony orchestra, showing where the beats are falling. But of course, given that this was filmed in the last two months of 1966, the vast majority of the episode is taken up with musicians from the centre of the music world at that time, LA. The film starts with Bernstein interviewing Tandyn Almer, a jazz-influenced songwriter who had recently written the big hit "Along Comes Mary" for The Association: [Excerpt: Inside Pop: The Rock Revolution] It featured interviews with Roger McGuinn, and with the protestors at the Sunset Strip riots which were happening contemporaneously with the filming: [Excerpt: Inside Pop: The Rock Revolution] Along with Frank Zappa's rather acerbic assessment of the potential of the youth revolutionaries: [Excerpt: Inside Pop: The Rock Revolution] And ended (other than a brief post-commercial performance over the credits by the Hollies) with a performance by Tim Buckley, whose debut album, as we heard in the last episode, had featured Van Dyke Parks and future members of the Mothers of Invention and Buffalo Springfield: [Excerpt: Inside Pop: The Rock Revolution] But for many people the highlight of the film was the performance that came right before Buckley's, film of Brian Wilson playing a new song from the album he was working on. One thing I should note -- many sources say that the voiceover here is Bernstein. My understanding is that Bernstein wrote and narrated the parts of the film he was himself in, and Oppenheim did all the other voiceover writing and narration, but that Oppenheim's voice is similar enough to Bernstein's that people got confused about this: [Excerpt: Inside Pop: The Rock Revolution] That particular piece of footage was filmed in December 1966, but it wasn't broadcast until April the twenty-fifth, 1967, an eternity in mid-sixties popular music. When it was broadcast, that album still hadn't come out. Precisely one week later, the Beach Boys' publicist Derek Taylor announced that it never would: [Excerpt: Brian Wilson, "Surf's Up"] One name who has showed up in a handful of episodes recently, but who we've not talked that much about, is Van Dyke Parks. And in a story with many, many, remarkable figures, Van Dyke Parks may be one of the most remarkable of all. Long before he did anything that impinges on the story of rock music, Parks had lived the kind of life that would be considered unbelievable were it to be told as fiction. Parks came from a family that mixed musical skill, political progressiveness, and achievement. His mother was a scholar of Hebrew, while his father was a neurologist, the first doctor to admit Black patients to a white Southern hospital, and had paid his way through college leading a dance band. Parks' father was also, according to the 33 1/3 book on Song Cycle, a member of "John Philip Sousa's Sixty Silver Trumpets", but literally every reference I can find to Sousa leading a band of that name goes back to that book, so I've no idea what he was actually a member of, but we can presume he was a reasonable musician. Young Van Dyke started playing the clarinet at four, and was also a singer from a very early age, as well as playing several other instruments. He went to the American Boychoir School in Princeton, to study singing, and while there he sang with Toscaninni, Thomas Beecham, and other immensely important conductors of the era. He also had a very special accompanist for one Christmas carolling session. The choir school was based in Princeton, and one of the doors he knocked on while carolling was that of Princeton's most famous resident, Albert Einstein, who heard the young boy singing "Silent Night", and came out with his violin and played along. Young Van Dyke was only interested in music, but he was also paying the bills for his music tuition himself -- he had a job. He was a TV star. From the age of ten, he started getting roles in TV shows -- he played the youngest son in the 1953 sitcom Bonino, about an opera singer, which flopped because it aired opposite the extremely popular Jackie Gleason Show. He would later also appear in that show, as one of several child actors who played the character of Little Tommy Manicotti, and he made a number of other TV appearances, as well as having a small role in Grace Kelly's last film, The Swan, with Alec Guinness and Louis Jourdain. But he never liked acting, and just did it to pay for his education. He gave it up when he moved on to the Carnegie Institute, where he majored in composition and performance. But then in his second year, his big brother Carson asked him to drop out and move to California. Carson Parks had been part of the folk scene in California for a few years at this point. He and a friend had formed a duo called the Steeltown Two, but then both of them had joined the folk group the Easy Riders, a group led by Terry Gilkyson. Before Carson Parks joined, the Easy Riders had had a big hit with their version of "Marianne", a calypso originally by the great calypsonian Roaring Lion: [Excerpt: The Easy Riders, "Marianne"] They hadn't had many other hits, but their songs became hits for other people -- Gilkyson wrote several big hits for Frankie Laine, and the Easy Riders were the backing vocalists on Dean Martin's recording of a song they wrote, "Memories are Made of This": [Excerpt: Dean Martin and the Easy Riders, "Memories are Made of This"] Carson Parks hadn't been in the group at that point -- he only joined after they'd stopped having success -- and eventually the group had split up. He wanted to revive his old duo, the Steeltown Two, and persuaded his family to let his little brother Van Dyke drop out of university and move to California to be the other half of the duo. He wanted Van Dyke to play guitar, while he played banjo. Van Dyke had never actually played guitar before, but as Carson Parks later said "in 90 days, he knew more than most folks know after many years!" Van Dyke moved into an apartment adjoining his brother's, owned by Norm Botnick, who had until recently been the principal viola player in a film studio orchestra, before the film studios all simultaneously dumped their in-house orchestras in the late fifties, so was a more understanding landlord than most when it came to the lifestyles of musicians. Botnick's sons, Doug and Bruce, later went into sound engineering -- we've already encountered Bruce Botnick in the episode on the Doors, and he will be coming up again in the future. The new Steeltown Two didn't make any records, but they developed a bit of a following in the coffeehouses, and they also got a fair bit of session work, mostly through Terry Gilkyson, who was by that point writing songs for Disney and would hire them to play on sessions for his songs. And it was Gilkyson who both brought Van Dyke Parks the worst news of his life to that point, and in doing so also had him make his first major mark on music. Gilkyson was the one who informed Van Dyke that another of his brothers, Benjamin Riley Parks, had died in what was apparently a car accident. I say it was apparently an accident because Benjamin Riley Parks was at the time working for the US State Department, and there is apparently also some evidence that he was assassinated in a Cold War plot. Gilkyson also knew that neither Van Dyke nor Carson Parks had much money, so in order to help them afford black suits and plane tickets to and from the funeral, Gilkyson hired Van Dyke to write the arrangement for a song he had written for an upcoming Disney film: [Excerpt: Jungle Book soundtrack, "The Bare Necessities"] The Steeltown Two continued performing, and soon became known as the Steeltown Three, with the addition of a singer named Pat Peyton. The Steeltown Three recorded two singles, "Rock Mountain", under that group name: [Excerpt: The Steeltown Three, "Rock Mountain"] And a version of "San Francisco Bay" under the name The South Coasters, which I've been unable to track down. Then the three of them, with the help of Terry Gilkyson, formed a larger group in the style of the New Christy Minstrels -- the Greenwood County Singers. Indeed, Carson Parks would later claim that Gilkyson had had the idea first -- that he'd mentioned that he'd wanted to put together a group like that to Randy Sparks, and Sparks had taken the idea and done it first. The Greenwood County Singers had two minor hot one hundred hits, only one of them while Van Dyke was in the band -- "The New 'Frankie and Johnny' Song", a rewrite by Bob Gibson and Shel Silverstein of the old traditional song "Frankie and Johnny": [Excerpt: The Greenwood County Singers, "The New Frankie and Johnny Song"] They also recorded several albums together, which gave Van Dyke the opportunity to practice his arrangement skills, as on this version of "Vera Cruz" which he arranged: [Excerpt: The Greenwood County Singers, "Vera Cruz"] Some time before their last album, in 1965, Van Dyke left the Greenwood County Singers, and was replaced by Rick Jarrard, who we'll also be hearing more about in future episodes. After that album, the group split up, but Carson Parks would go on to write two big hits in the next few years. The first and biggest was a song he originally wrote for a side project. His future wife Gaile Foote was also a Greenwood County Singer, and the two of them thought they might become folk's answer to Sonny and Cher or Nino Tempo and April Stevens: [Excerpt: Carson and Gaile, "Somethin' Stupid"] That obviously became a standard after it was covered by Frank and Nancy Sinatra. Carson Parks also wrote "Cab Driver", which in 1968 became the last top thirty hit for the Mills Brothers, the 1930s vocal group we talked about way way back in episode six: [Excerpt: The Mills Brothers, "Cab Driver"] Meanwhile Van Dyke Parks was becoming part of the Sunset Strip rock and roll world. Now, until we get to 1967, Parks has something of a tangled timeline. He worked with almost every band around LA in a short period, often working with multiple people simultaneously, and nobody was very interested in keeping detailed notes. So I'm going to tell this as a linear story, but be aware it's very much not -- things I say in five minutes might happen after, or in the same week as, things I say in half an hour. At some point in either 1965 or 1966 he joined the Mothers of Invention for a brief while. Nobody is entirely sure when this was, and whether it was before or after their first album. Some say it was in late 1965, others in August 1966, and even the kind of fans who put together detailed timelines are none the wiser, because no recordings have so far surfaced of Parks with the band. Either is plausible, and the Mothers went through a variety of keyboard players at this time -- Zappa had turned to his jazz friend Don Preston, but found Preston was too much of a jazzer and told him to come back when he could play "Louie Louie" convincingly, asked Mac Rebennack to be in the band but sacked him pretty much straight away for drug use, and eventually turned to Preston again once Preston had learned to rock and roll. Some time in that period, Van Dyke Parks was a Mother, playing electric harpsichord. He may even have had more than one stint in the group -- Zappa said "Van Dyke Parks played electric harpsichord in and out." It seems likely, though, that it was in summer of 1966, because in an interview published in Teen Beat Magazine in December 66, but presumably conducted a few months prior, Zappa was asked to describe the band members in one word each and replied: "Ray—Mahogany Roy—Asbestos Jim—Mucilage Del—Acetate Van Dyke—Pinocchio Billy—Boom I don't know about the rest of the group—I don't even know about these guys." Sources differ as to why Parks didn't remain in the band -- Parks has said that he quit after a short time because he didn't like being shouted at, while Zappa said "Van Dyke was not a reliable player. He didn't make it to rehearsal on time and things like that." Both may be true of course, though I've not heard anyone else ever criticise Parks for his reliability. But then also Zappa had much more disciplinarian standards than most rock band leaders. It's possibly either through Zappa that he met Tom Wilson, or through Tom Wilson that he met Frank Zappa, but either way Parks, like the Mothers of Invention, was signed to MGM records in 1966, where he released two solo singles co-produced by Wilson and an otherwise obscure figure named Tim Alvorado. The first was "Number Nine", which we heard last week, backed with "Do What You Wanta": [Excerpt: Van Dyke Parks, "Do What You Wanta"] At least one source I've read says that the lyrics to "Do What You Wanta" were written not by Parks but by his friend Danny Hutton, but it's credited as a Parks solo composition on the label. It was after that that the Van Dyke Parks band -- or as they were sometimes billed, just The Van Dyke Parks formed, as we discussed last episode, based around Parks, Steve Stills, and Steve Young, and they performed a handful of shows with bass player Bobby Rae and drummer Walt Sparman, playing a mix of original material, primarily Parks' songs, and covers of things like "Dancing in the Street". The one contemporaneous review of a live show I've seen talks about the girls in the audience screaming and how "When rhythm guitarist Steve Stillman imitated the Barry McGuire emotional scene, they almost went wiggy". But The Van Dyke Parks soon split up, and Parks the individual recorded his second single, "Come to the Sunshine": [Excerpt: Van Dyke Parks, "Come to the Sunshine"] Around the time he left the Greenwood County Singers, Van Dyke Parks also met Brian Wilson for the first time, when David Crosby took him up to Wilson's house to hear an acetate of the as-yet-unreleased track "Sloop John B". Parks was impressed by Wilson's arrangement techniques, and in particular the way he was orchestrating instrumental combinations that you couldn't do with a standard live room setup, that required overdubbing and close-micing. He said later "The first stuff I heard indicated this kind of curiosity for the recording experience, and when I went up to see him in '65 I don't even think he had the voices on yet, but I heard that long rotational breathing, that long flute ostinato at the beginning... I knew this man was a great musician." [Excerpt: The Beach Boys, "Sloop John B (instrumental)"] In most of 1966, though, Parks was making his living as a session keyboard player and arranger, and much of the work he was getting was through Lenny Waronker. Waronker was a second-generation music industry professional. His father, Si Waronker, had been a violinist in the Twentieth Century Fox studio orchestra before founding Liberty Records (the label which indirectly led to him becoming immortalised in children's entertainment, when Liberty Records star David Seville named his Chipmunk characters after three Liberty executives, with Simon being Si Waronker's full forename). The first release on Liberty Records had been a version of "The Girl Upstairs", an instrumental piece from the Fox film The Seven-Year Itch. The original recording of that track, for the film, had been done by the Twentieth Century Fox Orchestra, written and conducted by Alfred Newman, the musical director for Fox: [Excerpt: Alfred Newman, "The Girl Upstairs"] Liberty's soundalike version was conducted by Newman's brother Lionel, a pianist at the studio who later became Fox's musical director for TV, just as his brother was for film, but who also wrote many film scores himself. Another Newman brother, Emil, was also a film composer, but the fourth brother, Irving, had gone into medicine instead. However, Irving's son Randy wanted to follow in the family business, and he and Lenny Waronker, who was similarly following his own father by working for Liberty Records' publishing subsidiary Metric Music, had been very close friends ever since High School. Waronker got Newman signed to Metric Music, where he wrote "They Tell Me It's Summer" for the Fleetwoods: [Excerpt: The Fleetwoods, "They Tell Me It's Summer"] Newman also wrote and recorded a single of his own in 1962, co-produced by Pat Boone: [Excerpt: Randy Newman, "Golden Gridiron Boy"] Before deciding he wasn't going to make it as a singer and had better just be a professional songwriter. But by 1966 Waronker had moved on from Metric to Warner Brothers, and become a junior A&R man. And he was put in charge of developing the artists that Warners had acquired when they had bought up a small label, Autumn Records. Autumn Records was a San Francisco-based label whose main producer, Sly Stone, had now moved on to other things after producing the hit record "Laugh Laugh" for the Beau Brummels: [Excerpt: The Beau Brummels, "Laugh Laugh"] The Beau Brummels had had another hit after that and were the main reason that Warners had bought the label, but their star was fading a little. Stone had also been mentoring several other groups, including the Tikis and the Mojo Men, who all had potential. Waronker gathered around himself a sort of brains trust of musicians who he trusted as songwriters, arrangers, and pianists -- Randy Newman, the session pianist Leon Russell, and Van Dyke Parks. Their job was to revitalise the career of the Beau Brummels, and to make both the Tikis and the Mojo Men into successes. The tactic they chose was, in Waronker's words, “Go in with a good song and weird it out.” The first good song they tried weirding out was in late 1966, when Leon Russell came up with a clarinet-led arrangement of Paul Simon's "59th Street Bridge Song (Feeling Groovy)" for the Tikis, who performed it but who thought that their existing fanbase wouldn't accept something so different, so it was put out under another name, suggested by Parks, Harpers Bizarre: [Excerpt: Harpers Bizarre, "Feeling Groovy"] Waronker said of Parks and Newman “They weren't old school guys. They were modern characters but they had old school values regarding certain records that needed to be made, certain artists who needed to be heard regardless. So there was still that going on. The fact that ‘Feeling Groovy' was a number 10 hit nationwide and ‘Sit Down, I Think I Love You' made the Top 30 on Western regional radio, that gave us credibility within the company. One hit will do wonders, two allows you to take chances.” We heard "Sit Down, I Think I Love You" last episode -- that's the song by Parks' old friend Stephen Stills that Parks arranged for the Mojo Men: [Excerpt: The Mojo Men, "Sit Down, I Think I Love You"] During 1966 Parks also played on Tim Buckley's first album, as we also heard last episode: [Excerpt: Tim Buckley, "Aren't You the Girl?"] And he also bumped into Brian Wilson on occasion, as they were working a lot in the same studios and had mutual friends like Loren Daro and Danny Hutton, and he suggested the cello part on "Good Vibrations". Parks also played keyboards on "5D" by the Byrds: [Excerpt: The Byrds, "5D (Fifth Dimension)"] And on the Spirit of '67 album for Paul Revere and the Raiders, produced by the Byrds' old producer Terry Melcher. Parks played keyboards on much of the album, including the top five hit "Good Thing": [Excerpt: Paul Revere and the Raiders, "Good Thing"] But while all this was going on, Parks was also working on what would become the work for which he was best known. As I've said, he'd met Brian Wilson on a few occasions, but it wasn't until summer 1966 that the two were formally introduced by Terry Melcher, who knew that Wilson needed a new songwriting collaborator, now Tony Asher's sabbatical from his advertising job was coming to an end, and that Wilson wanted someone who could do work that was a bit more abstract than the emotional material that he had been writing with Asher. Melcher invited both of them to a party at his house on Cielo Drive -- a house which would a few years later become notorious -- which was also attended by many of the young Hollywood set of the time. Nobody can remember exactly who was at the party, but Parks thinks it was people like Jack Nicholson and Peter and Jane Fonda. Parks and Wilson hit it off, with Wilson saying later "He seemed like a really articulate guy, like he could write some good lyrics". Parks on the other hand was delighted to find that Wilson "liked Les Paul, Spike Jones, all of these sounds that I liked, and he was doing it in a proactive way." Brian suggested Parks write the finished lyrics for "Good Vibrations", which was still being recorded at this time, and still only had Tony Asher's dummy lyrics, but Parks was uninterested. He said that it would be best if he and Brian collaborate together on something new from scratch, and Brian agreed. The first time Parks came to visit Brian at Brian's home, other than the visit accompanying Crosby the year before, he was riding a motorbike -- he couldn't afford a car -- and forgot to bring his driver's license with him. He was stopped by a police officer who thought he looked too poor to be in the area, but Parks persuaded the police officer that if he came to the door, Brian Wilson would vouch for him. Brian got Van Dyke out of any trouble because the cop's sister was a Beach Boys fan, so he autographed an album for her. Brian and Van Dyke talked for a while. Brian asked if Van Dyke needed anything to help his work go smoothly, and Van Dyke said he needed a car. Brian asked what kind. Van Dyke said that Volvos were supposed to be pretty safe. Brian asked how much they cost. Van Dyke said he thought they were about five thousand dollars. Brian called up his office and told them to get a cheque delivered to Van Dyke for five thousand dollars the next day, instantly earning Van Dyke's loyalty. After that, they got on with work. To start with, Brian played Van Dyke a melody he'd been working on, a melody based on a descending scale starting on the fourth: [Plays "Heroes and Villains" melody] Parks told Wilson that the melody reminded him vaguely of Marty Robbins' country hit "El Paso" from 1959, a song about a gunfighter, a cantina, and a dancing woman: [Excerpt: Marty Robbins, "El Paso"] Wilson said that he had been thinking along the same lines, a sort of old west story, and thought maybe it should be called "Heroes and Villains". Parks started writing, matching syllables to Wilson's pre-conceived melody -- "I've been in this town so long that back in the city I've been taken for lost and gone and unknown for a long, long time" [Excerpt: Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks, "Heroes and Villains demo"] As Parks put it "The engine had started. It was very much ad hoc. Seat of the pants. Extemporaneous values were enforced. Not too much precommitment to ideas. Or, if so, equally pursuing propinquity." Slowly, over the next several months, while the five other Beach Boys were touring, Brian and Van Dyke refined their ideas about what the album they were writing, initially called Dumb Angel but soon retitled Smile, should be. For Van Dyke Parks it was an attempt to make music about America and American mythology. He was disgusted, as a patriot, with the Anglophilia that had swept the music industry since the arrival of the Beatles in America two and a half years earlier, particularly since that had happened so soon after the deaths both of President Kennedy and of Parks' own brother who was working for the government at the time he died. So for him, the album was about America, about Plymouth Rock, the Old West, California, and Hawaii. It would be a generally positive version of the country's myth, though it would of course also acknowledge the bloodshed on which the country had been built: [Excerpt: The Beach Boys, "Bicycle Rider" section] As he put it later "I was dead set on centering my life on the patriotic ideal. I was a son of the American revolution, and there was blood on the tracks. Recent blood, and it was still drying. The whole record seemed like a real effort toward figuring out what Manifest Destiny was all about. We'd come as far as we could, as far as Horace Greeley told us to go. And so we looked back and tried to make sense of that great odyssey." Brian had some other ideas -- he had been studying the I Ching, and Subud, and he wanted to do something about the four classical elements, and something religious -- his ideas were generally rather unfocused at the time, and he had far more ideas than he knew what to usefully do with. But he was also happy with the idea of a piece about America, which fit in with his own interest in "Rhapsody in Blue", a piece that was about America in much the same way. "Rhapsody in Blue" was an inspiration for Brian primarily in how it weaved together variations on themes. And there are two themes that between them Brian was finding endless variations on. The first theme was a shuffling between two chords a fourth away from each other. [demonstrates G to C on guitar] Where these chords are both major, that's the sequence for "Fire": [Excerpt: The Beach Boys, "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow/Fire"] For the "Who ran the Iron Horse?" section of "Cabin Essence": [Excerpt: The Beach Boys, "Cabinessence"] For "Vegetables": [Excerpt: The Beach Boys, "Vegetables"] And more. Sometimes this would be the minor supertonic and dominant seventh of the key, so in C that would be Dm to G7: [Plays Dm to G7 fingerpicked] That's the "bicycle rider" chorus we heard earlier, which was part of a song known as "Roll Plymouth Rock" or "Do You Like Worms": [Excerpt: The Beach Boys, "Bicycle Rider"] But which later became a chorus for "Heroes and Villains": [Excerpt: The Beach Boys, "Heroes and Villains"] But that same sequence is also the beginning of "Wind Chimes": [Excerpt: The Beach Boys, "Wind Chimes"] The "wahalla loo lay" section of "Roll Plymouth Rock": [Excerpt: The Beach Boys, "Roll Plymouth Rock"] And others, but most interestingly, the minor-key rearrangement of "You Are My Sunshine" as "You Were My Sunshine": [Excerpt: The Beach Boys, "You Were My Sunshine"] I say that's most interesting, because that provides a link to another of the major themes which Brian was wringing every drop out of, a phrase known as "How Dry I Am", because of its use under those words in an Irving Berlin song, which was a popular barbershop quartet song but is now best known as a signifier of drunkenness in Looney Tunes cartoons: [Excerpt: Daffy Duck singing "How Dry I Am" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ap4MMn7LpzA ] The phrase is a common one in early twentieth century music, especially folk and country, as it's made up of notes in the pentatonic scale -- it's the fifth, first, second, and third of the scale, in that order: [demonstrates "How Dry I Am"] And so it's in the melody to "This Land is Your Land", for example, a song which is very much in the same spirit of progressive Americana in which Van Dyke Parks was thinking: [Excerpt: Woody Guthrie, "This Land is Your Land"] It's also the start of the original melody of "You Are My Sunshine": [Excerpt: Jimmie Davis, "You Are My Sunshine" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYvgNEU4Am8] Brian rearranged that melody when he stuck it into a minor key, so it's no longer "How Dry I Am" in the Beach Boys version, but if you play the "How Dry I Am" notes in a different rhythm, you get this: [Plays "He Gives Speeches" melody] Which is the start of the melody to "He Gives Speeches": [Excerpt: The Beach Boys, "He Gives Speeches"] Play those notes backwards, you get: [Plays "He Gives Speeches" melody backwards] Do that and add onto the end a passing sixth and then the tonic, and then you get: [Plays that] Which is the vocal *countermelody* in "He Gives Speeches": [Excerpt: The Beach Boys, "He Gives Speeches"] And also turns up in some versions of "Heroes and Villains": [Excerpt: The Beach Boys, "Heroes and Villains (alternate version)"] And so on. Smile was an intricate web of themes and variations, and it incorporated motifs from many sources, both the great American songbook and the R&B of Brian's youth spent listening to Johnny Otis' radio show. There were bits of "Gee" by the Crows, of "Twelfth Street Rag", and of course, given that this was Brian Wilson, bits of Phil Spector. The backing track to the verse of "Heroes and Villains": [Excerpt: The Beach Boys, "Heroes and Villains"] Owed more than a little to a version of "Save the Last Dance For Me" that Spector had produced for Ike and Tina Turner: [Excerpt: Ike and Tina Turner, "Save the Last Dance For Me"] While one version of the song “Wonderful” contained a rather out-of-place homage to Etta James and “The Wallflower”: [Excerpt: “Wonderful (Rock With Me Henry)”] As the recording continued, it became more and more obvious that the combination of these themes and variations was becoming a little too much for Brian. Many of the songs he was working on were made up of individual modules that he was planning to splice together the way he had with "Good Vibrations", and some modules were getting moved between tracks, as he tried to structure the songs in the edit. He'd managed it with "Good Vibrations", but this was an entire album, not just a single, and it was becoming more and more difficult. David Anderle, who was heading up the record label the group were looking at starting, would talk about Brian playing him acetates with sections edited together one way, and thinking it was perfect, and obviously the correct way to put them together, the only possible way, and then hearing the same sections edited together in a different way, and thinking *that* was perfect, and obviously the correct way to put them together. But while a lot of the album was modular, there were also several complete songs with beginnings, middles, ends, and structures, even if they were in several movements. And those songs showed that if Brian could just get the other stuff right, the album could be very, very, special. There was "Heroes and Villains" itself, of course, which kept changing its structure but was still based around the same basic melody and story that Brian and Van Dyke had come up with on their first day working together. There was also "Wonderful", a beautiful, allusive, song about innocence lost and regained: [Excerpt: The Beach Boys, "Wonderful"] And there was CabinEssence, a song which referenced yet another classic song, this time "Home on the Range", to tell a story of idyllic rural life and of the industrialisation which came with westward expansion: [Excerpt: The Beach Boys, "CabinEssence"] The arrangement for that song inspired Van Dyke Parks to make a very astute assessment of Brian Wilson. He said later "He knew that he had to adhere to the counter-culture, and I knew that I had to. I think that he was about as estranged from it as I was.... At the same time, he didn't want to lose that kind of gauche sensibility that he had. He was doing stuff that nobody would dream of doing. You would never, for example, use one string on a banjo when you had five; it just wasn't done. But when I asked him to bring a banjo in, that's what he did. This old-style plectrum thing. One string. That's gauche." Both Parks and Wilson were both drawn to and alienated from the counterculture, but in very different ways, and their different ways of relating to the counterculture created the creative tension that makes the Smile project so interesting. Parks is fundamentally a New Deal Liberal, and was excited by the progresssive nature of the counterculture, but also rather worried about its tendency to throw the baby out with the bathwater, and to ignore the old in pursuit of the new. He was an erudite, cultured, sophisticated man who thought that there was value to be found in the works and attitudes of the past, even as one must look to the future. He was influenced by the beat poets and the avant garde art of the time, but also said of his folk music period "A harpist would bring his harp with him and he would play and recite a story which had been passed down the generations. This particular legacy continued through Arthurian legend, and then through the Middle Ages, and even into the nineteenth century. With all these songs, half of the story was the lyrics, and the folk songs were very interesting. They were tremendously thought-driven songs; there was nothing confusing about that. Even when the Kingston Trio came out -- and Brian has already admitted his debt to the Kingston Trio -- 'Tom Dooley', the story of a murder most foul 'MTA' an urban nightmare -- all of this thought-driven music was perfectly acceptable. It was more than a teenage romantic crisis." Brian Wilson, on the other hand, was anything *but* sophisticated. He is a simple man in the best sense of the term -- he likes what he likes, doesn't like what he doesn't like, and has no pretensions whatsoever about it. He is, at heart, a middle-class middle-American brought up in suburbia, with a taste for steaks and hamburgers, broad physical comedy, baseball, and easy listening music. Where Van Dyke Parks was talking about "thought-driven music", Wilson's music, while thoughtful, has always been driven by feelings first and foremost. Where Parks is influenced by Romantic composers like Gottschalk but is fundamentally a craftsman, a traditionalist, a mason adding his work to a cathedral whose construction started before his birth and will continue after his death, Wilson's music has none of the stylistic hallmarks of Romantic music, but in its inspiration it is absolutely Romantic -- it is the immediate emotional expression of the individual, completely unfiltered. When writing his own lyrics in later years Wilson would come up with everything from almost haiku-like lyrics like "I'm a leaf on a windy day/pretty soon I'll be blown away/How long with the wind blow?/Until I die" to "He sits behind his microphone/Johnny Carson/He speaks in such a manly tone/Johnny Carson", depending on whether at the time his prime concern was existential meaninglessness or what was on the TV. Wilson found the new counterculture exciting, but was also very aware he didn't fit in. He was developing a new group of friends, the hippest of the hip in LA counterculture circles -- the singer Danny Hutton, Mark Volman of the Turtles, the writers Michael Vosse and Jules Siegel, scenester and record executive David Anderle -- but there was always the underlying implication that at least some of these people regarded him as, to use an ableist term but one which they would probably have used, an idiot savant. That they thought of him, as his former collaborator Tony Asher would later uncharitably put it, as "a genius musician but an amateur human being". So for example when Siegel brought the great postmodern novelist Thomas Pynchon to visit Brian, both men largely sat in silence, unable to speak to each other; Pynchon because he tended to be a reactive person in conversation and would wait for the other person to initiate topics of discussion, Brian because he was so intimidated by Pynchon's reputation as a great East Coast intellectual that he was largely silent for fear of making a fool of himself. It was this gaucheness, as Parks eventually put it, and Parks' understanding that this was actually a quality to be cherished and the key to Wilson's art, that eventually gave the title to the most ambitious of the complete songs the duo were working on. They had most of the song -- a song about the power of music, the concept of enlightenment, and the rise and fall of civilisations: [Excerpt: The Beach Boys, "Surf's Up"] But Parks hadn't yet quite finished the lyric. The Beach Boys had been off on tour for much of Brian and Van Dyke's collaboration, and had just got back from their first real tour of the UK, where Pet Sounds had been a smash hit, rather than the middling success it had been in the US, and "Good Vibrations" had just become their first number one single. Brian and Van Dyke played the song for Brian's brother Dennis, the Beach Boys' drummer, and the band member most in tune with Brian's musical ambitions at this time. Dennis started crying, and started talking about how the British audiences had loved their music, but had laughed at their on-stage striped-shirt uniforms. Parks couldn't tell if he was crying because of the beauty of the unfinished song, the humiliation he had suffered in Britain, or both. Dennis then asked what the name of the song was, and as Parks later put it "Although it was the most gauche factor, and although maybe Brian thought it was the most dispensable thing, I thought it was very important to continue to use the name and keep the elephant in the room -- to keep the surfing image but to sensitise it to new opportunities. One of these would be an eco-consciousness; it would be speaking about the greening of the Earth, aboriginal people, how we had treated the Indians, taking on those things and putting them into the thoughts that come with the music. That was a solution to the relevance of the group, and I wanted the group to be relevant." Van Dyke had decided on a title: "Surf's Up": [Excerpt: The Beach Boys, "Surf's Up"] As the group were now back from their tour, the focus for recording shifted from the instrumental sessions to vocal ones. Parks had often attended the instrumental sessions, as he was an accomplished musician and arranger himself, and would play on the sessions, but also wanted to learn from what Brian was doing -- he's stated later that some of his use of tuned percussion in the decades since, for example, has come from watching Brian's work. But while he was also a good singer, he was not a singer in the same style as the Beach Boys, and they certainly didn't need his presence at those sessions, so he continued to work on his lyrics, and to do his arrangement and session work for other artists, while they worked in the studio. He was also, though, starting to distance himself from Brian for other reasons. At the start of the summer, Brian's eccentricity and whimsy had seemed harmless -- indeed, the kind of thing he was doing, such as putting his piano in a sandbox so he could feel the sand with his feet while he wrote, seems very much on a par with Maureen Cleave's descriptions of John Lennon in the same period. They were two newly-rich, easily bored, young men with low attention spans and high intelligence who could become deeply depressed when understimulated and so would get new ideas into their heads, spend money on their new fads, and then quickly discard them. But as the summer wore on into autumn and winter, Brian's behaviour became more bizarre, and to Parks' eyes more distasteful. We now know that Brian was suffering a period of increasing mental ill-health, something that was probably not helped by the copious intake of cannabis and amphetamines he was using to spur his creativity, but at the time most people around him didn't realise this, and general knowledge of mental illness was even less than it is today. Brian was starting to do things like insist on holding business meetings in his swimming pool, partly because people wouldn't be able to spy on him, and partly because he thought people would be more honest if they were in the water. There were also events like the recording session where Wilson paid for several session musicians, not to play their instruments, but to be recorded while they sat in a pitch-black room and played the party game Lifeboat with Jules Siegel and several of Wilson's friends, most of whom were stoned and not really understanding what they were doing, while they got angrier and more frustrated. Alan Jardine -- who unlike the Wilson brothers, and even Mike Love to an extent, never indulged in illegal drugs -- has talked about not understanding why, in some vocal sessions, Brian would make the group crawl on their hands and knees while making noises like animals: [Excerpt: The Beach Boys, "Heroes and Villains Part 3 (Animals)"] As Parks delicately put it "I sensed all that was destructive, so I withdrew from those related social encounters." What this meant though was that he was unaware that not all the Beach Boys took the same attitude of complete support for the work he and Brian had been doing that Dennis Wilson -- the only other group member he'd met at this point -- took. In particular, Mike Love was not a fan of Parks' lyrics. As he said later "I called it acid alliteration. The [lyrics are] far out. But do they relate like 'Surfin' USA,' like 'Fun Fun Fun,' like 'California Girls,' like 'I Get Around'? Perhaps not! So that's the distinction. See, I'm into success. These words equal successful hit records; those words don't" Now, Love has taken a lot of heat for this over the years, and on an artistic level that's completely understandable. Parks' lyrics were, to my mind at least, the best the Beach Boys ever had -- thoughtful, intelligent, moving, at times profound, often funny, often beautiful. But, while I profoundly disagree with Love, I have a certain amount of sympathy for his position. From Love's perspective, first and foremost, this is his source of income. He was the only one of the Beach Boys to ever have had a day job -- he'd worked at his father's sheet metal company -- and didn't particularly relish the idea of going back to manual labour if the rock star gig dried up. It wasn't that he was *opposed* to art, of course -- he'd written the lyrics to "Good Vibrations", possibly the most arty rock single released to that point, hadn't he? -- but that had been *commercial* art. It had sold. Was this stuff going to sell? Was he still going to be able to feed his wife and kids? Also, up until a few months earlier he had been Brian's principal songwriting collaborator. He was *still* the most commercially successful collaborator Brian had had. From his perspective, this was a partnership, and it was being turned into a dictatorship without him having been consulted. Before, it had been "Mike, can you write some lyrics for this song about cars?", now it was "Mike, you're going to sing these lyrics about a crow uncovering a cornfield". And not only that, but Mike had not met Brian's new collaborator, but knew he was hanging round with Brian's new druggie friends. And Brian was behaving increasingly weirdly, which Mike put down to the influence of the drugs and these new friends. It can't have helped that at the same time the group's publicist, Derek Taylor, was heavily pushing the line "Brian Wilson is a genius". This was causing Brian some distress -- he didn't think of himself as a genius, and he saw the label as a burden, something it was impossible to live up to -- but was also causing friction in the group, as it seemed that their contributions were being dismissed. Again, I don't agree with Mike's position on any of this, but it is understandable. It's also the case that Mike Love is, by nature, a very assertive and gregarious person, while Brian Wilson, for all that he took control in the studio, is incredibly conflict-avoidant and sensitive. From what I know of the two men's personalities, and from things they've said, and from the session recordings that have leaked over the years, it seems entirely likely that Love will have seen himself as having reasonable criticisms, and putting them to Brian clearly with a bit of teasing to take the sting out of them; while Brian will have seen Love as mercilessly attacking and ridiculing the work that meant so much to him in a cruel and hurtful manner, and that neither will have understood at the time that that was how the other was seeing things. Love's criticisms intensified. Not of everything -- he's several times expressed admiration for "Heroes and Villains" and "Wonderful" -- but in general he was not a fan of Parks' lyrics. And his criticisms seemed to start to affect Brian. It's difficult to say what Brian thinks about Parks' lyrics, because he has a habit in interviews of saying what he thinks the interviewer wants to hear, and the whole subject of Smile became a touchy one for him for a long time, so in some interviews he has talked about how dazzlingly brilliant they are, while at other times he's seemed to agree with Love, saying they were "Van Dyke Parks lyrics", not "Beach Boys lyrics". He may well sincerely think both at the same time, or have thought both at different times. This came to a head with a session for the tag of "Cabinessence": [Excerpt: The Beach Boys, "Cabinessence"] Love insisted on having the line "over and over the crow flies uncover the cornfield" explained to him, and Brian eventually decided to call Van Dyke Parks and have him come to the studio. Up to this point, Parks had no idea that there was anything controversial, so when Brian phoned him up and very casually said that Mike had a few questions about the lyrics, could he come down to the studio? He went without a second thought. He later said "The only person I had had any interchange with before that was Dennis, who had responded very favorably to 'Heroes and Villains' and 'Surf's Up'. Based on that, I gathered that the work would be approved. But then, with no warning whatsoever, I got that phone call from Brian. And that's when the whole house of cards came tumbling down." Parks got to the studio, where he was confronted by an angry Mike Love, insisting he explain the lyrics. Now, as will be, I hope, clear from everything I've said, Parks and Love are very, very, *very* different people. Having met both men -- albeit only in formal fan-meeting situations where they're presenting their public face -- I actually find both men very likeable, but in very different ways. Love is gregarious, a charmer, the kind of man who would make a good salesman and who people use terms like "alpha male" about. He's tall, and has a casual confidence that can easily read as arrogance, and a straightforward sense of humour that can sometimes veer into the cruel. Parks, on the other hand, is small, meticulously well-mannered and well-spoken, has a high, precise, speaking voice which probably reads as effeminate to the kind of people who use terms like "alpha male", and the kind of devastating intelligence and Southern US attention to propriety which means that if he *wanted* to say something cruel about someone, the victim would believe themselves to have been complimented until a horrific realisation two days after the event. In every way, from their politics to their attitudes to art versus commerce to their mannerisms to their appearance, Mike Love and Van Dyke Parks are utterly different people, and were never going to mix well. And Brian Wilson, who was supposed to be the collaborator for both of them, was not mediating between them, not even expressing an opinion -- his own mental problems had reached the stage where he simply couldn't deal with the conflict. Parks felt ambushed and hurt, Love felt angry, especially when Parks could not explain the literal meaning of his lyrics. Eventually Parks just said "I have no excuse, sir", and left. Parks later said "That's when I lost interest. Because basically I was taught not to be where I wasn't wanted, and I could feel I wasn't wanted. It was like I had someone else's job, which was abhorrent to me, because I don't even want my own job. It was sad, so I decided to get away quick." Parks continued collaborating with Wilson, and continued attending instrumental sessions, but it was all wheelspinning -- no significant progress was made on any songs after that point, in early December. It was becoming clear that the album wasn't going to be ready for its planned Christmas release, and it was pushed back to January, but Brian's mental health was becoming worse and worse. One example that's often cited as giving an insight into Brian's mental state at the time is his reaction to going to the cinema to see John Frankenheimer's classic science fiction horror film Seconds. Brian came in late, and the way the story is always told, when he was sat down the screen was black and a voice said from the darkness, "Hello Mr. Wilson". That moment does not seem to correspond with anything in the actual film, but he probably came in around the twenty-four minute mark, where the main character walks down a corridor, filmed in a distorted, hallucinatory manner, to be greeted: [Excerpt: Seconds, 24:00] But as Brian watched the film, primed by this, he became distressed by a number of apparent similarities to his life. The main character was going through death and rebirth, just as he felt he was. Right after the moment I just excerpted, Mr. Wilson is shown a film, and of course Brian was himself watching a film. The character goes to the beach in California, just like Brian. The character has a breakdown on a plane, just like Brian, and has to take pills to cope, and the breakdown happens right after this: [Excerpt: Seconds, from about 44:22] A studio in California? Just like where Brian spent his working days? That kind of weird coincidence can be affecting enough in a work of art when one is relatively mentally stable, but Brian was not at all stable. By this point he was profoundly paranoid -- and he may have had good reason to be. Some of Brian's friends from this time period have insisted that Brian's semi-estranged abusive father and former manager, Murry, was having private detectives watch him and his brothers to find evidence that they were using drugs. If you're in the early stages of a severe mental illness *and* you're self-medicating with illegal drugs, *and* people are actually spying on you, then that kind of coincidence becomes a lot more distressing. Brian became convinced that the film was the work of mind gangsters, probably in the pay of Phil Spector, who were trying to drive him mad and were using telepathy to spy on him. He started to bar people who had until recently been his friends from coming to sessions -- he decided that Jules Siegel's girlfriend was a witch and so Siegel was no longer welcome -- and what had been a creative process in the studio degenerated into noodling and second-guessing himself. He also, with January having come and the album still not delivered, started doing side projects, some of which, like his production of tracks for photographer Jasper Daily, seem evidence either of his bizarre sense of humour, or of his detachment from reality, or both: [Excerpt: Jasper Daily, "Teeter Totter Love"] As 1967 drew on, things got worse and worse. Brian was by this point concentrating on just one or two tracks, but endlessly reworking elements of them. He became convinced that the track "Fire" had caused some actual fires to break out in LA, and needed to be scrapped. The January deadline came and went with no sign of the album. To add to that, the group discovered that they were owed vast amounts of unpaid royalties by Capitol records, and legal action started which meant that even were the record to be finished it might become a pawn in the legal wrangling. Parks eventually became exasperated by Brian -- he said later "I was victimised by Brian Wilson's buffoonery" -- and he quit the project altogether in February after a row with Brian. He returned a couple of weeks later out of a sense of loyalty, but quit again in April. By April, he'd been working enough with Lenny Waronker that Waronker offered him a contract with Warner Brothers as a solo artist -- partly because Warners wanted some insight into Brian Wilson's techniques as a hit-making producer. To start with, Parks released a single, to dip a toe in the water, under the pseudonym "George Washington Brown". It was a largely-instrumental cover version of Donovan's song "Colours", which Parks chose because after seeing the film Don't Look Back, a documentary of Bob Dylan's 1965 British tour, he felt saddened at the way Dylan had treated Donovan: [Excerpt: George Washington Brown, "Donovan's Colours"] That was not a hit, but it got enough positive coverage, including an ecstatic review from Richard Goldstein in the Village Voice, that Parks was given carte blanche to create the album he wanted to create, with one of the largest budgets of any album released to that date. The result was a masterpiece, and very similar to the vision of Smile that Parks had had -- an album of clever, thoroughly American music which had more to do with Charles Ives than the British Invasion: [Excerpt: Van Dyke Parks, "The All Golden"] But Parks realised the album, titled Song Cycle, was doomed to failure when at a playback session, the head of Warner Brothers records said "Song Cycle? So where are the songs?" According to Parks, the album was only released because Jac Holzman of Elektra Records was also there, and took out his chequebook and said he'd release the album if Warners wouldn't, but it had little push, apart from some rather experimental magazine adverts which were, if anything, counterproductive. But Waronker recognised Parks' talent, and had even written into Parks' contract that Parks would be employed as a session player at scale on every session Waronker produced -- something that didn't actually happen, because Parks didn't insist on it, but which did mean Parks had a certain amount of job security. Over the next couple of years Parks and Waronker co-produced the first albums by two of their colleagues from Waronker's brains trust, with Parks arranging -- Randy Newman: [Excerpt: Randy Newman, "I Think It's Going to Rain Today"] And Ry Cooder: [Excerpt: Ry Cooder, "One Meat Ball"] Waronker would refer to himself, Parks, Cooder, and Newman as "the arts and crafts division" of Warners, and while these initial records weren't very successful, all of them would go on to bigger things. Parks would be a pioneer of music video, heading up Warners' music video department in the early seventies, and would also have a staggeringly varied career over the years, doing everything from teaming up again with the Beach Boys to play accordion on "Kokomo" to doing the string arrangements on Joanna Newsom's album Ys, collaborating with everyone from U2 to Skrillex, discovering Rufus Wainwright, and even acting again, appearing in Twin Peaks. He also continued to make massively inventive solo albums, releasing roughly one every decade, each unique and yet all bearing the hallmarks of his idiosyncratic style. As you can imagine, he is very likely to come up again in future episodes, though we're leaving him for now. Meanwhile, the Beach Boys were floundering, and still had no album -- and now Parks was no longer working with Brian, the whole idea of Smile was scrapped. The priority was now to get a single done, and so work started on a new, finished, version of "Heroes and Villains", structured in a fairly conventional manner using elements of the Smile recordings. The group were suffering from numerous interlocking problems at this point, and everyone was stressed -- they were suing their record label, Dennis' wife had filed for divorce, Brian was having mental health problems, and Carl had been arrested for draft dodging -- though he was later able to mount a successful defence that he was a conscientious objector. Also, at some point around this time, Bruce Johnston seems to have temporarily quit the group, though this was never announced -- he doesn't seem to have been at any sessions from late May or early June through mid-September, and didn't attend the two shows they performed in that time. They were meant to have performed three shows, but even though Brian was on the board of the Monterey Pop Festival, they pulled out at the last minute, saying that they needed to deal with getting the new single finished and with Carl's draft problems. Some or all of these other issues almost certainly fed into that, but the end result was that the Beach Boys were seen to have admitted defeat, to have handed the crown of relevance off to the San Francisco groups. And even if Smile had been released, there were other releases stealing its thunder. If it had come out in December it would have been massively ahead of its time, but after the Beatles released Sgt Pepper it would have seemed like it was a cheap copy -- though Parks has always said he believes the Beatles heard some of the Smile tapes and copied elements of the recordings, though I don't hear much similarity myself. But I do hear a strong similarity in "My World Fell Down" by Sagittarius, which came out in June, and which was largely made by erstwhile collaborators of Brian -- Gary Usher produced, Glen Campbell sang lead, and Bruce Johnston sang backing vocals: [Excerpt: Sagittarius, "My World Fell Down"] Brian was very concerned after hearing that that someone *had* heard the Smile tapes, and one can understand why. When "Heroes and Villains" finally came out, it was a great single, but only made number twelve in the charts. It was fantastic, but out of step with the times, and nothing could have lived up to the hype that had built up around it: [Excerpt: The Beach Boys, "Heroes and Villains"] Instead of Smile, the group released an album called Smiley Smile, recorded in a couple of months in Brian's home studio, with no studio musicians and no involvement from Bruce, other than the previously released singles, and with the production credited to "the Beach Boys" rather than Brian. Smiley Smile has been unfairly dismissed over the years, but it's actually an album that was ahead of its time. It's a collection of stripped down versions of Smile songs and new fragments using some of the same motifs, recorded with minimal instrumentation. Some of it is on a par with the Smile material it's based on: [Excerpt: The Beach Boys, "Wonderful"] Some is, to my ears, far more beautiful than the Smile versions: [Excerpt: The Beach Boys, "Wind Chimes"] And some has a fun goofiness which relates back to one of Brian's discarded ideas for Smile, that it be a humour album: [Excerpt: The Beach Boys, "She's Going Bald"] The album was a commercial flop, by far the least successful thing the group had released to that point in the US, not even making the top forty when it came out in September, though it made the top ten in the UK, but interestingly it *wasn't* a critical flop, at least at first. While the scrapping of Smile had been mentioned, it still wasn't widely known, and so for example Richard Goldstein, the journalist whose glowing review of "Donovan's Colours" in the Village Voice had secured Van Dyke Parks the opportunity to make Song Cycle, gave it a review in the New York Times which is written as if Goldstein at least believes it *is* the album that had been promised all along, and he speaks of it very perceptively -- and here I'm going to quote quite extensively, because the narrative about this album has always been that it was panned from the start and made the group a laughing stock: "Smiley Smile hardly reads like a rock cantata. But there are moments in songs such as 'With Me Tonight' and 'Wonderful' that soar like sacred music. Even the songs that seem irrelevant to a rock-hymn are infused with stained-glass melodies. Wilson is a sound sculptor and his songs are all harmonious litanies to the gentle holiness of love — post-Christian, perhaps but still believing. 'Wind Chimes', the most important piece on the album, is a fine example of Brian Wilson's organic pop structure. It contains three movements. First, Wilson sets a lyric and melodic mood ("In the late afternoon, you're hung up on wind chimes"). Then he introduces a totally different scene, utilizing passages of pure, wordless harmony. His two-and-a-half minute hymn ends with a third movement in which the voices join together in an exquisite round, singing the words, "Whisperin' winds set my wind chimes a-tinklin'." The voices fade out slowly, like the bittersweet afternoon in question. The technique of montage is an important aspect of Wilson's rock cantata, since the entire album tends to flow as a single composition. Songs like 'Heroes and Villains', are fragmented by speeding up or slowing down their verses and refrains. The effect is like viewing the song through a spinning prism. Sometimes, as in 'Fall Breaks and Back to Winter' (subtitled "W. Woodpecker Symphony"), the music is tiered into contrapuntal variations on a sliver of melody. The listener is thrown into a vast musical machine of countless working gears, each spinning in its own orbit." That's a discussion of the album that I hear when I listen to Smiley Smile, and the group seem to have been artistically happy with it, at least at first. They travelled to Hawaii to record a live album (with Brian, as Bruce was still out of the picture), taking the Baldwin organ that Brian used all over Smiley Smile with them, and performed rearranged versions of their old hits in the Smiley Smile style. When the recordings proved unusable, they recreated them in the studio, with Bruce returning to the group, where he would remain, with the intention of overdubbing audience noise and releasing a faked live album: [Excerpt: The Beach Boys, "California Girls [Lei'd studio version]"] The idea of the live album, to be called Lei'd in Hawaii, was scrapped, but that's not the kind of radical reimagining of your sound that you do if you think you've made an artistic failure. Indeed, the group's next albu
Tosha Jones, Musician From playing small, smokey bars in southern Indiana, to touring world wide with national music acts, Los Angeles based heavy hitting drummer, Tosha Jones, quickly made a name for herself throughout the world's music scene. At just the ripe age of three, Tosha began expressing herself through music, song, and dance. In 1991 as a true drummer at heart, Tosha joined her jr. high school band and eventually begged her parents for a real drum kit instead of playing on various pots and pans and her mother's Tupperware. Stemming from numerous garage bands and many Battle of the Band competitions throughout the Midwest, Jones finally jumped ship from working multiple factory jobs in Indiana and saved up enough money to move to Los Angeles, California as she immediately landed the Vans Warped Tour in 2008 with then, all-female punk rockers, The Randies. Respectfully, after years of rejected auditions and trudging the streets of the Sunset Strip along Hollywood, Jones found herself in various bands on the road opening for national rock acts such as Stone Sour, Halestorm, Seether, & Skid Row, while eventually landing a long tour stint playing drums for Grammy nominated rock band, Saliva in March of 2018. As one of her personal career favorites, Tosha was contacted by American Idol (2015) to play in an all-female drum line for contestant Tyanna Jones, performing the song “Run The World” by Beyoncé. Fast forward to Covid-19's protocols and cancellations in 2019/2020, and unfortunately like many other musicians finding themselves away from touring, Jones was part of numerous collaboration videos online which includes Sheltering Sky's Chuck Wright (Quiet Riot) in their 2021 Björk's cover “Army of Me”, and most recently “Throwin' Stones”, which hit on the recent attack of Ukraine. Jones was also featured in artist/singer, Chloe Trujillo's videos, “Mana” and “The Heaviest Sound is Silence”. You can also find Tosha playing drums online in the star-studded cast for the David Z Foundation covering “Zombie”, by Bad Wolves. In December 2021, Jones was asked to play drums on a few tour dates for alt rockers Carolina Liar, best known for their hit songs “Show Me What I'm Looking For” and “I'm Not Over”. In January of 2022, Jones received a last-minute call to bash the skins for the fresh hard rockers, Black Satellite, as they were direct support for Nita Strauss's (Alice Cooper, The Iron Maidens) 2022 Winter Wonderland Tour. In Spring of ‘22, Jones was invited to be a camp counselor for the famous Rock n Roll Fantasy Camp where iconic musicians such as Melissa Etheridge, Nancy Wilson (Heart), and Kathy Valentine from The Go-Go's were the special guests. Tosha is currently preparing for a summer long tour in the making playing drums for original singers of Josey Scott (Saliva) and Brett Scallions (Fuel) doubling down on the kit for both powerhouses on the Original Madness Tour! •https://youtu.be/3-G9zkcBQTE • https://youtu.be/1ZQy3lQF7Mc https://youtu.be/6UmqG43rSV8 (https://youtu.be/6UmqG43rSV8) www. marlanasemenza.com Audio : Ariza Music Productions Transcript : Vision In Word Marlana From playing on various pots and pans on her mother's Tupperware to small smoky bars in southern Indiana to touring worldwide with national music acts Los Angeles based heavy hitting drummer Tasha Jones quickly made a name for herself throughout the world's music scene, opening for acts such as Stone Sour, Halestorm, Seether and Skid Row and eventually landing along tour stint playing drums for the Grammy nominated Rock Band Saliva. Welcome, Tasha. Tosha Thank you. It's good to be here. Marlana Did you always want to be a musician? Tosha Yeah, I always bordered on an athlete and...