Bob Dylan arrived in England 48 years ago this month. It was to be his last tour as a "folksinger". He was met by a hoard of journalists who descended on him at Heathrow Airport as soon as he got off the plane. When asked "What's your real message?" Dylan replies "Keep a good head and always carry a light bulb". That got them scratching their heads I bet. This tour would take Bob to several places in the U.K.. His shows were all acoustic folk and were split into two half's. He sang 8 songs in the first half, 7 the second half. He was treated like royalty wherever he went. No one in England knew at the time they were witnessing the last of Dylan's folk-singer persona. He already had his "Electric" band waiting in the wings, ready to record "Like A Rolling Stone" He would take up that project when he returned home. This whole tour is chronicled in D.A. Pennebaker's film "Don't Look Back". It was the end of an era.
On this day, as America was caught up in Beatlemania, there was another iconic cultural force taking shape in 1964. A heavyweight named Cassius Clay, soon to be Muhammud Ali, was about to step into the ring with the toughest fighter around, heavyweight champ Sonny Liston. Nobody gave Cassius a chance, they said this bigmouth would get creamed in the first round. Instead, Cassius took Sonny apart and by the 6th round it was all over. Cassius was the new Heavyweight champ of the world. Clay would go on to be a galvanizing figure in the 60s, for his religous beliefs and his refusal to go into the Army. Vietnam was calling and Uncle Sam needed all the able bodied men. Cassius refused and lost his title. 1964, the world was changing. Elvis was over, the Beatles were here and an incredible boxer from Louisville was about to make a nation question the status quo. Cassius Clay was the Revolution personified. Rock on champ.
Another interesting album cover. Very Psychedelic and perfect for the music within. In fact, this iconic album cover was designed by an artist name Martin Sharpe. Martin also helped write some of the lyrics for Tales Of Brave Ulysses. This was Cream's second album, done in New York City in only 3 and a half days. The rush was because the work permits for Eric, Jack and Ginger was to expire in that time. Producing was Felix Pappalardi, the founder of Mountain. Legendary engineer Tom Dowd was working the sound and Label president Ahmet Ertegen was also present.. The album cover was a perfect visual for the trippy music on the record... this is one of my favorite album covers from the Psychedelic era. The title of the LP came about because at some point in the recording process, Eric was talking about his bike, and referenced the 'derailleur' gear..a roadie who walked by named Mick Turner chimed in something about the Disraeli Gear and the band cracked up, and eventually used this as the title. It remains my favorite Cream album. A tremendous pairing of Psychedelic and Blues..
It was the Winter of 1963 and Bob Dlyan, his girlfriend Suze Rotolo, and a staff photographer from Columbia records, all trooped out to W.4th street in the villiage and took the picture that would end up on Bob Dylan's 2nd album, "The Freewheelin'" Bob Dylan. The record would contain some of the most powerful social and political statements in American music. Songs like Blowing in the Wind, Masters of War, and Hard Rain's Gonna Fall. Young muscians everywhere were served notice that all the rules of songwriting have changed. The picture on the album cover shows Bob and Suze, absolutely freezing in a New York January morning. Bob with his threadbare suede coat was cold beyond belief according to Suze in an interview years later. I stared at this picture for hours while listening to some of the most provocative music I had ever heard. "Freewheelin'" was the real coming out party for the bohemian, socially conscious young rebel pre-Beatles. Suze has since passed from cancer, Bob of course is still singing and I'm sure wearing a proper coat in his travels.
John Lennon was invited to perform a the famous 1969 Woodstock Music Festival but alas, he was a no-show. According to concert promoter Michael Lang, John was invited but at the time J.Edgar Hoover and the F.B.I. were doing everything they could to keep him out of the country. Nixon also tried to prevent John from coming to Woodstock to perform. It is pretty well known the harrasment that John and Yoko had to go through during this difficult time. The bad feelings went back to the early 70s when Nixon was trying to deport John. It became increasingly more difficult to deal with the government, and it wasn't until Nixon resigned did things start loosening up for John. Oddly enough, the Plastic Ono Band was at the time perfectly o.k. to play the big gig. They never were signed.
Did you know that Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta have a Christmas album out? No? Well now you do. They just released a new video, which some may find cute, but opening with country line dancing on some random street made me tune away very quickly. As one commenter on TMZ said, "I got irritable bowel syndrome after watching this."
This Saturday morning at 7am, join me, the Swami, Moonbeam and the rest of our hallucinations, for "Say You Want A Revolution". The Swami will be by to explain Karma, and I'll have plenty of rightous tunes to keep us high. Moonbeam will throw her rainbow all over the studio, the incense will be burning and we shall go back to when it all sounded so good, and it was all so much fun. I always welcome your ideas. Far Out!
Crosby Stills and Nash wrapped up their five show run at New York's Beacon Theatre this week. It also ended their current tour, and who knows, maybe it was the last show of an amazing career. The sold out crowd was treated to a performance of their first album, in it's entirety. It came in the second set, without a lot of fanfare, the band launched into "Suite Judy Blue Eyes" and then, steamrolled into Marrakesh Express, Pre-Road Downs, Wooden Ships, Helplessly Hoping and Long Time Gone...whew. With little or no rehearsing, the material came off flawlessly. I can still see that cover from the first album. According to Henry Diltz the photographer, the musicans are sitting in the wrong order. They are pictured as Nash, Stills, Crosby. When they went back a few days later to re-shoot it, the house and the sofa were gone! The house had been demolished. I love that first album, It came at a great time and brought the singer-songwriter mode back in vogue.
They have been called the greatest rock and roll band in history. No, not the Stones, although that would be my choice, we are talking Led Zeppelin here. Check out this video promoting the release of Celebration Day. The reunion of Zeppelin was one of the most highly anticipated events in rock. We will get to experience this one time event on November 19th, when their concert DVD is released.."Celebration Day". Check out this trailer and tell me it doesn't just get your blood boiling. There is only one Led Zeppelin, and here they are!
1968 was a year filled with political turmoil, crazy good music, and of course the counter-culture, the youth of America. A year that featured Richard Nixon getting elected as President and college demonstations all over the country over Vietnam, Meanwhile, even hippies have to drive something to get to the love-in and the cars of 1968 covered quite a range..The California Automobile museum has put together a great exhibit that features the cars and the culture of 1968. From wildly painted Hippie VW Vans to Mustangs, Chargers and Road Runners. It's all right here. the Museum is located at 2200 Front St. Sacramento. For more info. call 442-6802. or click here. Right On!