Aquarian Exposition

(Top two photos) Nick Ercoline and Bobbi Kelly were boyfriend and girlfriend wrapped in a muddy blanket at Woodstock and wound up on the Woodstock album cover. Two years later they were married. And now, 50 years later, we’re still having fun together,” says Nick. Bobbi is a retired school nurse and Nick a carpenter. Their married life contrasts with the sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll of that era. “In 1969, it was all about free love, living in communes; people weren’t monogamous. At the end of the day we are the opposite of that. (row three) An original poster and ticket; (rows four, five and six) The feel of the crowd; (row seven) Jimmy Hendrix and Richie Havens; (row eight) Country Joe McDonald and Janis Joplin; (row nine) The crowd on Max Yasgur’s farm.  Wow!!

Peace and love.  Doesn’t get much simpler.  It’s been 50 years since one of the most recognized rock concerts in history – Woodstock took place this weekend.  What started as a small fundraising event to build a remote recording studio turned into over 400,000 peaceful and loving youngsters singing and dancing on muddy hillsides.  Looking back, I love to read the unique behind the scenes history that led up to the event and relive the artists who became world renowned from their live performances (and those who said “no”). And talk about your PIA (Pain in the #%$) Jobs – food, water, bathrooms, first aid, parking, traffic, stage logistics, lighting, sound and more – all got figured out … and THEN the rains came … wow! Hats off to all of those involved. Here is some really fun trivia on the events leading up to the festival, the performers who took the stage, and those who had other plans (and regret it).  Enjoy, and be sure to click on the links to hear some of your favorite songs and see some great video footage.

Woodstock was a music festival held August 15–18, 1969, which attracted an audience of more than 400,000. Billed as “an Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music”, it was held at Max Yasgur‘s 600-acre dairy farm in Bethel, New York, 43 miles southwest of the small town of  Woodstock.

Thirty-two acts performed outdoors despite sporadic rain. It has become widely regarded as a pivotal moment in popular music history, as well as the definitive nexus for the larger counterculture generation of the late 60’s.

Woodstock was initiated through the efforts of Michael LangArtie KornfeldJoel Rosenman, and John P. Roberts. Roberts and Rosenman financed the project. Lang had some experience as a promoter, having co-organized the Miami Pop Festival on the East Coast the prior year, where an estimated 25,000 people attended the two-day event.

Early in 1969, Roberts and Rosenman were New York City entrepreneurs, in the process of building Media Sound, a large audio recording studio complex in Manhattan. Lang and Kornfeld’s lawyer, Miles Lourie, who had done legal work on the Media Sound project, suggested that they contact Roberts and Rosenman about financing a similar, but much smaller, studio Kornfeld and Lang hoped to build in WoodstockNew York. Unpersuaded by this Studio-in-the-Woods proposal, Roberts and Rosenman counter-proposed a concert featuring the kind of artists known to frequent the Woodstock area (such as Bob Dylan and The Band).

Kornfeld and Lang agreed to the new plan, and Woodstock Ventures was formed in January 1969. From the start, there were differences in approach among the four: Roberts was disciplined and knew what was needed for the venture to succeed, while the laid-back Lang saw Woodstock as a new, “relaxed” way of bringing entrepreneurs together. When Lang was unable to find a site for the concert, Roberts and Rosenman, growing increasingly concerned, took to the road and eventually came up with a venue – a small dairy farm in upstate New York.

In April 1969, Creedence Clearwater Revival became the first act to sign a contract for the event, agreeing to play for $10,000 (equivalent to about $75,000 today). The promoters had experienced difficulty landing big-name groups prior to Creedence committing to play, as many popular groups were already committed to other concerts and projects. Creedence drummer Doug Cliffordlater commented, “Once Creedence signed, everyone who could jumped in line and all the other big acts came on.”

Woodstock was designed as a profit-making venture (it became a “free concert” only after the event drew hundreds of thousands more people than the organizers had prepared for). Tickets for the three-day event cost $18 in advance and $24 at the gate (equivalent to about $120 and $160 today). Ticket sales were limited to record stores in the greater New York City area, or by mail via a post office box at the Radio City Station Post Office located in Midtown Manhattan. Around 186,000 advance tickets were sold, and the organizers anticipated approximately 200,000 festival-goers would turn up.

Town officials were assured by the promoters that no more than 50,000 would attend. Town residents immediately opposed the project, and passed a law requiring a permit for any gathering over 5,000 people. On July 15, 1969, the Wallkill Zoning Board of Appeals officially banned the concert on the basis that the planned portable toilets would not meet town code. Reports of the ban, however, turned out to be a publicity bonanza for the festival.

The organizers once again told Bethel authorities they expected no more than 50,000 people.

Despite resident opposition and signs proclaiming, “Buy No Milk. Stop Max’s Hippy Music Festival”,Bethel Town Attorney Frederick W. V. Schadt, building inspector Donald Clark and Town Supervisor Daniel Amatucci approved the festival permits, but the Bethel Town Board refused to issue the permits formally. Clark was ordered to post stop-work orders.

Subsequently, on August 2, 1969, the Building Inspector informed Woodstock Ventures, Inc. that the Stop Work Order was lifted, and the festival could proceed pending backing by the Department of Health and Agriculture, and removal of all structures by September 1, 1969.

The late change in venue did not give the festival organizers enough time to prepare. At a meeting three days before the event, organizers felt they had two options: one was to complete the fencing and ticket booths, without which the promoters would lose any profit or go into debt; the other option involved putting their remaining available resources into building the stage, without which the promoters feared they would have a disappointed and disgruntled audience.

When the audience began arriving by the tens of thousands the next day, the Wednesday before the weekend, the decision was made for them. Those without tickets simply walked through gaps in the fences, and the organizers were forced to make the event free of charge. Though the festival left its promoters nearly bankrupt, their ownership of the film and recording rights more than compensated for the losses after the release of the hit documentary film Woodstock in March 1970.

The influx of attendees to the rural concert site in Bethel created a massive traffic jam. Fearing chaos as thousands began descending on the community, Bethel did not enforce its codes. Eventually, announcements on radio stations as far away as WNEW-FM in Manhattan and descriptions of the traffic jams on television news discouraged people from setting off to the festival.The facilities were not equipped to provide sanitation or first aid for the number of people attending; hundreds of thousands found themselves in a struggle against bad weather, food shortages, and poor sanitation.

On the morning of Sunday, August 17, New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller called festival organizers and told them he was thinking of ordering 10,000 New York State National Guard troops to the festival. Roberts was successful in persuading Rockefeller not to do this. Sullivan County declared a state of emergency. During the festival, personnel from nearby Stewart Air Force Base assisted in helping to ensure order and airlifting the performers in and out of the concert venue.

Although the festival was remarkably peaceful given the number of people and the conditions involved, there were two recorded fatalities: one from insulin usage, and another caused in an accident when a tractor ran over an attendee sleeping in a nearby hayfield.

There were two births recorded at the event (one in a car caught in traffic and another in a hospital after an airlift by helicopter) and four miscarriages.

Yet, in tune with the idealistic hopes of the 1960s, Woodstock satisfied most attendees. There was a sense of social harmony, which, with the quality of music, and the overwhelming mass of people, many sporting bohemian dress, behavior, and attitudes, helped to make it one of the enduring events of the century.

After the concert, Max Yasgur, who owned the site of the event, saw it as a victory of peace and love. He spoke of how nearly half a million people filled with potential for disaster, riot, looting, and catastrophe spent the three days with music and peace on their minds. He stated, “If we join them, we can turn those adversities that are the problems of America today into a hope for a brighter and more peaceful future…”

Order of the Performers and some trivia:

Declined invitations or missed connections:

  • Bob Dylan– a resident of the town of Woodstock, was never in serious negotiation. Instead, Dylan signed in mid-July to play the Isle of Wight Festival of Music, on August 31. Dylan had been unhappy about the number of hippies piling up outside his house in the nearby town of Woodstock.
  • Simon & Garfunkel declined the invitation, as they were working on their new album.
  • The Jeff Beck GroupJeff Beck disbanded the group prior to Woodstock. “I deliberately broke the group up before Woodstock,” Beck said. “I didn’t want it to be preserved
  • Led Zeppelin was asked to perform. Their manager Peter Grant stated: “We were asked to do Woodstock and Atlantic were very keen, and so was our U.S. promoter, Frank Barsalona. I said no because at Woodstock we’d have just been another band on the bill.”
  • The Byrds were invited, but chose not to participate, believing that Woodstock would be no different from any of the other music festivals that summer.
  • Chicago,at the time still known as the Chicago Transit Authority, had initially been signed on to play at Woodstock. However, they had a contract with concert promoter Bill Graham, which allowed him to move Chicago’s concerts at the Fillmore West, to let Santana play at Woodstock.
  • Tommy James and the Shondells declined an invitation. Lead singer Tommy James stated later: “We could have just kicked ourselves. We were in Hawaii, and my secretary called and said, ‘Yeah, listen, there’s this pig farmer in upstate New York that wants you to play in his field.’ That’s how it was put to me. So we passed, and we realized what we’d missed a couple of days later.”
  • The Moody Blues were included on the original Wallkill poster as performers, but decided to back out after being booked in Paris the same weekend.
  • Frank Zappa,then with The Mothers of Invention, according to the Class of the 20th Century U.S. television special, said “A lot of mud at Woodstock … We were invited to play there, we turned it down.”
  • Arthur Lee and Love declined the invitation, but Mojo Magazine later described inner turmoil within the band which caused their absence at the Woodstock festival.
  • Free was asked to perform and declined. They did however play at the Isle of Wight Festival, a week later.
  • Mind Garage declined because they thought the festival would be a minor event, and they had a higher paying gig elsewhere.
  • The Doors were considered as a potential performing band but canceled at the last moment. According to guitarist Robby Krieger, they turned it down because they thought it would be a “second class repeat of Monterey Pop Festival” and later regretted that decision.
  • Spirit also declined an invitation to play, as they already had shows planned and wanted to play those instead, not knowing how big Woodstock would be.
  • Joni Mitchell was originally slated to perform, but cancelled at the urging of her manager to avoid missing a scheduled appearance on The Dick Cavett Show. She later described the event as “a spark of beauty” where half-a-million kids “saw that they were part of a greater organism”.
  • Lighthouse declined to perform at Woodstock.
  • Roy Rogers was asked by Lang to close the festival with “Happy Trails” but he declined.
  • Procol Harum was invited but refused because Woodstock fell at the end of a long tour and also coincided with the due date of guitarist Robin Trower’s baby.
  • Jethro Tull also declined. According to frontman Ian Anderson, he knew it would be a big event but he did not want to go because he did not like hippies and other concerns including inappropriate nudity, heavy drinking and drug use.
  • Raven – turned down his offer based on the fact that the year before the band played at one of the Woodstock Sound-Outs and the gig didn’t go well. Lang assured them that his concert was going to be different. The band respectfully turned down.[69]
  • Blues Image,according to a 2011 interview with percussionist Joe Lala, agreed to appear at the Woodstock festival. Their manager did not want them to go and said, “There’s only one road in and it’s going to be raining, you don’t want to be there”.
  • Iron Butterfly was booked to appear, and is listed on the Woodstock poster for a Sunday performance, but could not perform because they were stuck at LaGuardia Airport.
  • The Rascals were invited to play the festival but declined because they were in the middle of recording a new album.
  • When enquiries were made about The Beatles possibly appearing, it was also suggested that a recent signee to their label Apple Records should also get an invite. That artist was James Taylor.When the group declined their invitation Taylor’s invite was withdrawn as well.
  • Allegedly, The Rolling Stones were also sent an invitation, but declined because Mick Jagger was in Australia filming Ned Kelly, and Keith Richards‘ girlfriend Anita Pallenberg had just given birth to their son Marlon.

Okay. A couple more links. About an hour each:
Woodstock Day One – Friday
Woodstock Day Two – Saturday

 


 

Live to be a hundred minus one day…

 

Remember the one(s) you love…Happy Valentines’ Day!

 

Love.  The universal, magical and amazing emotion we all know, (and love).  Of country, of family, of children, of grandchildren, of spouses, of those we choose to spend time with and of the work we do (did I tell you we love your PIA (Pain In The @%$) Jobs!)  I searched for words of wisdom and came across a great quote, by the prognosticator of knowledge and all things wise – love words to live by … Winnie the Pooh.

If you live to be a hundred, 
I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, 
So I never have to live without you.

Dang.  Sort of nailed it for me.  With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I thought I’d share some of the great love songs of days gone by.  Searching online, of course, you can find tons of songs, but I decided to pare it down a bit to just some classics.  Men, be sure to remember to get a card to go along with that chocolate or special gift … or wait, just be sure to remember!!  (ladies too).  Light some candles, crank up the volume, and sing along.  And special thanks to Good Housekeeping for their list, and the amazing You Tube channel for the music.  Enjoy.

Classic Top 10 Love Songs

  1. Unforgettable– Nat King Cole
  2. That’s Amore– Dean Martin 
  3. What Is This Thing Called Love– Frank Sinatra
  4. One In A Million– The Platters
  5. Twelfth of Never– Johnny Mathis
  6. At Last– Etta James
  7. I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You– Elvis Presley
  8. My Girl– The Temptations
  9. L-O-V-E– Nat King Cole
  10. All You Need Is Love– The Beatles

BONUS
Steve’s Favorites: You can ask Jackie and the girls!

  1. Butterfly Kisses – Bob Carlisle
  2. If – Bread
  3. That’s How You Know  – Amy Adams – movie – Enchanted

Find other great Love Songs HERE

(clockwise from top left) Nat King Cole; The Platters; The Temptations; The Beatles; Johnny Mathis; Dean Martin; Frank Sinatra; Elvis Presley; Etta James.

 

 


 

… and the Comets

(left column top to bottom) That’s the man, Bill Haley. The real King of Rock ‘n Roll! ; The band with the bassist and the sax player doing their thing. I imagine this horrified the parents of the day; If that guy in the military uniform looks like Elvis Presley, it is. Back stage at Haley’s 1958 European tour in Germany. That bottom photo of teens dancing is from the movie “Rock around the Clock” and represents what really did horrify parents of the day. But they dressed nice and not a tattoo in sight. (right column top to bottom) Loads and loads of albums and 45 RPM singles produced in his fabulous game-changing career.

The other morning, I arrived earlier at the office than I usually do (5am), took an extra-long morning run in down past the Rock ‘N Roll Museum and then logged on for the daily production reports.  I took pause of the amazing efforts of my staff, monitoring all the jobs that run overnight, keeping everything on track for the morning shift to come in and pick up where they left off.  In sort of a crazy way, it got to thinking about each hour – one o’clock, two o’clock, and it reminded me of that great fun dance tune by Bill Haley and the Comets (perhaps it was my encounter with the Rock Hall earlier).  Yep, you know what happens next – I started singing the song in my head, over and over, and then finally sat down at the computer to see what I could dig up.  And sure enough, some fun trivia and history on Bill and his famous Cleveland Rock Hall inductee band. So, for my music trivia gang, here you go (I included some early history, as I’m always intrigued where musicians came from, their families and influences – be sure to click on the links to some really great tunes – and special thanks to history-of-rock.com, You Tube and my guys who keep the shop humming all night long.

  1. Billy Haley and his Comets fused elements of country music, Western Swing, and black R&B to produce some of rock and roll’s earliest hits.
  2. Bill Haley was born in Highland Park, Michigan on July 6, 1925 to William and Maude Haley. The couple’s second child, Haley had a sister Margaret who was born two years earlier. When Haley was four while having an operation to repair an inner ear ailment the doctor accidental cut an optic nerve. The result was that Haley would never ever see out of his left eye.
  3. The Haley’s had moved to Detroit from Firebrick, Kentucky, where William Sr. found work in a nearby service station as a mechanic while his wife gave piano lessons in their home for twenty-five cents an hour. Maude Haley, a woman of strong religious convictions, had come to America with her family from Ulverston in Lancastshire, England before the First World War. Later the family moved to Boothwyn, near the town of Chester, Pennsylvania.
  4. At thirteen Haley received his first guitar. His father taught him to play the basic chords and notes by ear. It was at this time he began his dream of becoming a singing cowboy like the ones he idolized every Saturday afternoon at the movie houses in nearby Marcus Hook or Chester.
  5. In June of 1940, just before his fifteenth birthday, Haley left school after finishing the eighth grade and went to work bottling water at Bethel Springs. This company sold pure spring water and fruit flavored soft drinks in a three-state area. Here he worked for 35 cents an hour, filling large five-gallon glass bottles with spring water.  Only the absolute best of the best were making a living from making music. At 18 he made his first record “Candy Kisses” and for the next four years was a guitarist and singer with country and western bands.
  6. After time on the road with the Down Homers, Haley returned to his parents’ home in Booth’s Corner in September of 1946. He was ill, disillusioned and so broke he had to walk from the train station in Marcus Hook four miles to Booth’s Corner. His only request to his mother was not to tell anyone he was home, not even his fiancé Dorothy. Bill fell into bed and slept thirty hours. Over the next two weeks Mrs. Haley slowly nursed her itinerant son back to health.
  7. By the age of 21, Haley felt he wasn’t going to make it big as a cowboy singer and ill left the ‘Downhomers’ and returned to Chester to host a local radio program. At this time, he also married his childhood sweetheart Dorothy Crowe a beautiful part American Indian girl.
  8. Haley was hired in 1947 as musical director for radio station WPWA.
  9. It was during this time that he put together a band The Four Aces of Swing that performed on his show.
  10. In the summer of 1950, through the efforts of Jimmy Myers, Bill Haley and his Saddlemen cut their first records. They were on Ed Wilson’s Keystone label, a small Philadelphia independent publisher. The songs were standard western swing tunes: “Deal Me A Hand” /” Ten Gallon Stetson” and “Susan Van Dusan” /” I’m Not to Blame.”  They were the first recordings of the band that would become the nucleus of the world-famous Comets.
  11. With their new, exciting sound, the name “Saddlemen” no longer seemed appropriate. According to Marshall Lytle, it was Bob Johnson, Program Director at WPWA who first suggested the name Haley’s Comets. “Ya ‘know, with a name like Haley, you guys should call your group the Comets!”
  12. Just before the Thanksgiving holidays in 1952, Haley’s band changed their name and their image for the last time. The four young musicians, turned their backs on their beloved country/ western music and bravely faced an unknown future as “Bill Haley and His Comets”.
  13. One example of that change was “Rock the Joint” which sold 75,000 copies. In 1953 he wrote “Crazy Man Crazy” which became the first rock and roll record to make the Billboardpop chart reaching the Top 20.
  14. On April 1st, 1954, Myers, Gabler and Bill Haley met in Decca’s New York offices. The three men discussed a contract for four records a year, a standard royalty of 5% of sales, $5,000.00 in advance royalties and the understanding that Decca would mail out each release to two thousand disc-jockeys with full support publicity. Support included full page ads in Billboard and Cash Box magazines! With the deal set and signed, the three men shook hands and agreed on a recording date four days after the Essex contract was due to expire.
  15. It was while at Decca that Haley fell under the influence of Milt Gabler who had produced Louis Jordan. Gabler would convince Haley to change his sound. That change would be evident when on April 12th 1954, at Pythian Temple Studio with the recording of “Rock Around the Clock.” The song that introduced rock & roll to America. “Rock Around the Clock.” The song was a modest hit, until it was used as the title track of “The Blackboard Jungle,” a movie about juvenile delinquents, some 12 months later, and then it exploded.
  16. His next record a cover of Joe Turner’s “Shake, Rattle and Roll’ was a top ten hit.  It was the first rock & roll record to sell a million copies
  17. The next really big hit came with “See You Later Alligator” which sold a million copies within a month.
  18. In September 1955 band members Dick Richards, Marshall Lytle and Joey D’Ambrosio went to the Comet’s manager Jim Ferguson and asked for a raise. Turned down, they gave two weeks notice, and went and signed with Capital Records and recorded as the Jodimars. Lytle was replaced by Al Rex,Haley’s original basist from the Saddlemen, D’Ambrosio by Rudy Pompilli and Richards by Ralph Jones.
  19. In 1957, Haley began touring in Britain as his popularity began fading at home. The first American Rock and Roll star to come to Britain, he was met with large and enthusiastic crowds. The British soon found out what American teenagers already knew. Haley with his spit curl was old (30), overweight and rather mechanical when compared to Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Gene Vincent and Elvis who were younger and who’s music was more exciting. Bill Haley & His Comets were there first, but now they were part of the “establishment”.
  20. After 1957 Haley had a few minor hits but spent the remainder of his life touring and playing Rock and Roll Revival shows throughout Europe and the US. In the early morning hours of February 9th, 1981, Bill called two of his sons, Scott and Jack, and had his last known conversations. He died, in his sleep of an apparent heart attack, about 6:30 that morning at his home in Harlingen, Texas.
  21. Although several members of the Comets became famous, Bill Haley remained the star. With his spit curland the band’s matching plaid dinner jackets and energetic stage behavior, many fans consider them to be as revolutionary in their time as  the Beatles were a decade later. Haley and his band were inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

Oh, What the Heck, Crank Up the Sound!

“Bill Haley was a celestial body that inhabited planet earth. He gave the teenagers something they never had before – their own music!”  –Unknown

CLICK – Clip from the movie “Rock Around the Clock” (1955)
CLICK – Bill Haley & The Comets sing one of their biggest hits – Shake Rattle & Roll.
CLICK – Bill Haley & His Comets – See You Later Alligator
CLICK – “Rock-A-Beatin’ Boogie” or “Razzle Dazzle” is a 1952 song composed by Bill Haley and first recorded by The Esquire Boys in 1952. It was recorded by Bill Haley and the Comets on September 22, 1955 and was released in October of 1955 as a single in the U.S. on Decca, backed with “Burn That Candle”. It reached #23 on Billboard, #24 on Cash Box, and #4 on the RU charts in January, 1956. The song was featured in the 1956 movie Rock Around the Clock (Wikipedia).
CLICK – Bill Haley and the Comets sing “Tequila” (live in Belgium, Brussels 1958) at the Royal Flemish Theatre.

 


 

“Yea, That’s My Country too!”

(row one left) Francis Scott Key. (row one top right) The first sheet-music issue of “The Star-Spangled Banner” was printed by Thomas Carr’s Music store in Baltimore in 1814. (row one bottom right) The flag over Ft. McHenry (painter unknown) (row two left) 120,868,500 commemorative postage stamps were issued August 9, 1948. One of these in mint condition is worth around 60 cents today. 15 cents for a used one. (row two right) an engraving of a younger Francis Scott Key. They probably called him Frankie. (row three) The original Fort McHenry flag (15 stars and 15 stripes) measured 30 feet by 42 feet. It’s being preserved and restored in Washington, DC. (row four) Glorious isn’t it?

 

We’ve all been lucky to watch an amazing Olympic competition these past few weeks, with athletes from all over the world doing amazing things on the ice and snow.  Each one, of course, has their own story – some competing for the first time, some competing in their third of fourth Olympics (can you imagine) and others wrapping up their Olympic careers.  Consistently, every athlete talked about sacrifice, hardship and overcoming the odds, with a small few prevailing to stand on the podium, medal on chest, tears on their cheeks and hand over heart, proudly representing their county while listening to their respective national anthem.  I don’t know about you, but I feel really proud when the anthem plays, and get choked up seeing the athletes realize their accomplishments.

We all know our “official” USA anthem is the Star Spangled-Banner, but what you probably didn’t know is it took 40 attempts to get it through Congress (talk about perseverance) – tomorrow, March 3th is the anniversary of the adoption of the anthem.  For my trivia buds, here’s some interesting history and cool trivia about the great anthem we’ve all come to know as the strength and sound of the United States of America. Enjoy, and thanks Wikipedia, historian Mark Leepson and History.com for the info.

 

  1. A song is written.  By the dawn’s early light on September 14, 1814, Francis Scott Key peered through a spyglass and spotted an American flag still waving over Baltimore’s Fort McHenry after a fierce night of British bombardment. In a patriotic fervor, the man called “Frank” Key by family and friends penned the words to “The Star-Spangled Banner.” When he composed his verses, he intended them to accompany a popular song of the day. “We know he had the tune in mind because the rhyme and meter exactly fit it,” says Marc Leepson, author of the Key biography “What So Proudly We Hailed.” The first broadside of the verses, printed just days after the battle, noted that the words should be sung to the melody of “To Anacreon in Heaven.” (ironically an English song composed in 1775 that served as the theme song of the upper-crust Anacreontic Society of London and a popular pub staple).  Key was quite familiar with the tune, having used it to accompany an 1805 poem, which included a reference to a “star-spangled flag,” he had written to honor Barbary War naval heroes Stephen Decatur and Charles Stewart.
  2. Key was not imprisoned on a British warship when he penned his verses.  In his capacity as a Washington, D.C., lawyer, Key had been dispatched by President James Madison on a mission to Baltimore to negotiate for the release of Dr. William Beanes, a prominent surgeon captured at the Battle of Bladensburg. Accompanied by John Stuart Skinner, a fellow lawyer working for the State Department, Key set sail on an American sloop in Baltimore Harbor, and on September 7 the pair boarded the British ship Tonnant, where they dined and secured the prisoner’s release under one condition—they could not go ashore until after the British attacked Baltimore. Accompanied by British guards on September 10, Key returned to the American sloop from which he witnessed the bombardment behind the 50-ship British fleet.
  3. The flag Key “hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming” did not fly “through the perilous fight.” In addition to a thunderstorm of bombs, a torrent of rain fell on Fort McHenry throughout the night of the Battle of Baltimore. The fort’s 30-by-42-foot garrison flag was so massive that it required 11 men to hoist when dry, and if waterlogged the woolen banner could have weighed upwards of 500 pounds and snapped the flagpole. So as the rain poured down, a smaller storm flag that measured 17-by-25 feet flew in its place. In the morning, experts believe, they most likely took down the rain-soaked storm flag and hoisted the bigger one … and that’s the flag Key saw in the morning.
  4. The song was not originally entitled “The Star-Spangled Banner.” When Key scrawled his lyrics on the back of a letter he pulled from his pocket on the morning of September 14, he did not give them any title. Within a week, Key’s verses were printed on broadsides and in Baltimore newspapers under the title “Defence of Fort M’Henry.” In November, a Baltimore music store printed the patriotic song with sheet music for the first time under the more lyrical title “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
  5. The national anthem has four verses.  The version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” traditionally sung on patriotic occasions and at sporting events is only the song’s first verse. All four verses conclude with the same line: “O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.” In 1861, poet Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote a fifth verse to support the Union cause in the Civil War and denounce “the traitor that dares to defile the flag of her stars.
  6. Key opposed American entry into the War of 1812.  Ironically, the man who created one of the lasting patriotic legacies of the War of 1812 adamantly opposed the conflict at its outset. Key referred to the war as “abominable” and “a lump of wickedness.” However, his opposition to the war softened after the British began to raid nearby Chesapeake Bay communities in 1813 and 1814, and he briefly served in a Georgetown wartime militia.
  7. Key was a consummate Washington insider.  Although Key loathed politics, he was a prominent figure in Washington, D.C. –  an important player in the early republic, He was a very successful and influential lawyer at the highest levels in Washington.  Key ran a thriving law practice, served as a trusted advisor in Andrew Jackson’s “Kitchen Cabinet” and was appointed a United States Attorney in 1833. He prosecuted hundreds of cases, including that of Richard Lawrence for the attempted assassination of Court.
  8. Key was a one-hit wonder who might have been tone deaf.  Key was much more adept in his legal day job than he was as an amateur poet. Most of the odes he composed were never meant to be seen beyond family and friends, and none came remotely close to realizing the popular fame of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” In addition to being a middling poet, Key also had a hard time carrying a tune. “Key’s family said he was not musical,” Leepson says, “which means he likely was tone deaf.”
  9. It did not become the national anthem until more than a century after it was written. Along with “Hail Columbia” and “Yankee Doodle,” “The Star-Spangled Banner” was among the prevalent patriotic airs in the aftermath of the War of 1812. During the Civil War, “The Star-Spangled Banner” was an anthem for Union troops, and the song increased in popularity in the ensuing decades, which led to President Woodrow Wilson signing an executive order in 1916 designating it as “the national anthem of the United States” for all military ceremonies.
  10. Song becomes national anthem.  On March 3, 1931, after 40 previous attempts failed, a measure passed Congress and was signed into law that formally designated “The Star-Spangled Banner” as the national anthem of the United States.
  11. The flag restored and on display.  Nearly two centuries later, the flag that inspired Key still survives, though fragile and worn by the years. Experts at the National Museum of American History completed an eight-year conservation treatment with funds from Polo Ralph Lauren, The Pew Charitable Trusts and the U.S. Congress.  With the construction of the conservation lab completed in 1999, conservators clipped 1.7 million stitches from the flag to remove a linen backing that had been added in 1914, lifted debris from the flag using dry cosmetic sponges and brushed it with an acetone-water mixture to remove soils embedded in fibers. Finally, they added a sheer polyester backing to help support the flag.  Said Brent D. Glass, the Museum’s Director – “The Star-Spangled Banner is a symbol of American history that ranks with the Statue of Liberty and the Charters of Freedom,” “The fact that it has been entrusted to the National Museum of American History is an honor.”

 

 

 


 

What if…

They’re not the “Fab Four.” In fact, they are best known for being the “Prefab Four,” but they were good. Like, really really really really good. (above) Vintage Monkees promotion photos. (upper right) Some of their album covers (lower left) Jimi Hendrix actually opened for the Monkees on tour in 1967. The Monkees crowds had no idea what Jimi Hendrix was playing, much less playing his guitar with his teeth. (lower right) Peter Tork, Davey Jones and Micky Dolenz pose during portrait session to announce the bands 45th anniversary tour held at The Groucho Club on February 21, 2011 in London, England.

 

Some Monkees to listen to while reading this post:

Some Monkees to watch if you have some time on your hands:

______________________

 

Ever have an idea?  You know, something that feels right at the time.  Not with some crazy big goal so much, or the “twenty years from now, people will…” kind, but just an idea.  We have them here all the time.  Dad started this thinking back in the day, and it’s helped us build a great company, founded on solving your PIA (Pain In The @#$) Jobs!  Just the other day I had one of the guys say, “Steve, what if we tried it this way?”  And it worked.  I love it, and really encourage my gang to have ideas and give them a try!  Our best ideas have always started with WHAT IF…

In 1965, over 400 people responded to a talent call ad seeking zany young men for a new television show about a mythical rock group. Kind of quirky, kind of fun, and just the right ingredients at the right time.  And so was born – The Monkees, starring Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork premiered in September 1966.  Audiences adored the humorous antics of the band. Though made especially for TV, The Monkees had real-life hits. Some of their best-loved and number one hits included Neil Diamond’s “I’m a Believer”, “Last Train to Clarksville”, “Little Bit Me, Little Bit You”, Gerry Goffin and Carole King’s “Pleasant Valley Sunday”, and “Daydream Believer” by John Stewart of the Kingston Trio.  I remember watching the show with my brothers and sisters, and dancing around the house to the “stereo” sound – it was just plain old fun.  Here’s some trivia I thought you’d enjoy. (thx Wikipedia)

  1. Aspiring filmmaker Bob Rafelson developed the initial idea for The Monkees in 1962, but was unsuccessful in selling the series. He had tried selling it to Revue, the television division of Universal Pictures. In May 1964, while working at Screen Gems, Rafelson teamed up with Bert Schneider, whose father, Abraham Schneider, headed the Colpix Television and Screen Gems Television units of Columbia Pictures, and ultimately formed Raybert Productions.
  2. The Beatles’ film A Hard Day’s Night inspired Rafelson and Schneider to revive Rafelson’s idea for The Monkees. As “The Raybert Producers”, they sold the show to Screen Gems Television on April 16, 1965. Rafelson and Schneider’s original idea was to cast an existing New York folk rock group, the Lovin’ Spoonful, who were not widely known at the time. However, John Sebastian had already signed the band to a record contract, which would have denied Screen Gems the right to market music from the show.
  3. On July 14, 1965, The Hollywood Reporter stated that future band member Davy Jones was expected to return to the United States in September 1965 after a trip to England “to prepare for a TV pilot.  Jones had previously starred as the Artful Dodger in the Broadway theatre show Oliver!, and his performance was later seen on The Ed Sullivan Show the same night as the Beatles’ first appearance on that show, February 9, 1964.
  4. On September 8, 1965, Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter ran an ad to cast the remainder of the band/cast members for the TV show.  Out of 437 applicants, the other three chosen for the cast of the TV show were Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork and Micky Dolenz. Nesmith, to work alongside Davey Jones. Of the final four, Nesmith was the only one who actually saw the ad in Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. Tork, the last to be chosen, had been working the Greenwich Village scene as a musician, and had shared the stage with Pete Seeger; he learned of The Monkees from Stephen Stills, whom Rafelson and Schneider had rejected as a songwriter. Dolenz was an actor (his father was veteran character actor George Dolenz) who had starred in the TV series Circus Boy as a child, using the stage name Mickey Braddock, and he had also played guitar and sung in a band called the Missing Links before the Monkees, which had recorded and released a very minor single, “Don’t Do It”. By that time he was using his real name – he found out about The Monkees through his agent.
  5. The band’s music was initially supervised by producer Don Kirshner, backed by the songwriting duo of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart.  For the first few months of their initial five-year career as “the Monkees”, the four actor-musicians were allowed only limited roles in the recording studio. This was due in part to the amount of time required to film the television series. Nonetheless, Nesmith did compose and produce some songs from the beginning, and Peter Tork contributed limited guitar work on the sessions produced by Nesmith. They eventually fought for and earned the right to collectively supervise all musical output under the band’s name.
  6. Dolenz described the Monkees as initially being “a TV show about an imaginary band … that wanted to be the Beatles, [but] that was never successful”.  The actor-musicians became, ironically, one of the most successful bands of the 1960s. The Monkees sold more than 75 million records worldwide and had international hits, including “Last Train to Clarksville”, “Pleasant Valley Sunday”, “Daydream Believer”, and “I’m a Believer”. At their peak in 1967, the band outsold the Beatles and the Rolling Stones combined.
  7. During the casting process Don Kirshner, Screen Gems’ head of music, was contacted to secure music for the pilot that would become The Monkees. Not getting much interest from his usual stable of Brill Buildingwriters, Kirshner assigned Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart to the project. The duo contributed four demo recordings for the pilot. One of these recordings was “(Theme From) The Monkees” which helped get the series the green light.
  8. When The Monkees was picked up as a series, development of the musical side of the project accelerated. Columbia-Screen Gems and RCA Victor entered into a joint venture called Colgems Records primarily to distribute Monkees records. Raybert set up a rehearsal space and rented instruments for the group to practice playing in April 1966. Kirshner called on Snuff Garrett, composer of several hits by Gary Lewis & the Playboys, to produce the initial musical cuts for the show. The producers quickly found that when brought into the studio together, the four actors would fool around and try to crack each other up. Because of this, they would often bring in each singer individually.
  9. According to Nesmith, it was Dolenz’s voice that made the Monkees’ sound distinctive, and even during tension-filled times Nesmith and Tork sometimes turned over lead vocal duties to Dolenz on their own compositions, such as Tork’s “For Pete’s Sake,” which became the closing title theme for the second season of the television show.
  10. The Monkees’ first single, “Last Train to Clarksville” b/w “Take a Giant Step”, was released in August 1966, just weeks prior to the TV broadcast debut. In conjunction with the first broadcast of the television show on September 12, 1966, on the NBC television network, NBC and Columbia had a major hit on their hands. The first long-playing album, The Monkees, was released a month later, spent 13 weeks at #1 and stayed on the Billboard charts for 78 weeks. Twenty years later, during their reunion, it would spend another 24 weeks on the Billboard charts. This first album is also notable, in addition to containing their debut single, for containing band member Nesmith’s first foray into country-rock, “Papa Gene’s Blues,” which mixed country, rock and Latin flavors.
  11. In assigning instruments for purposes of the television show, a dilemma arose as to which of the four would be the drummer. Both Nesmith (a skilled guitarist and bassist) and Tork (who could play several stringed and keyboard instruments) were peripherally familiar with the instrument but both declined to give the drum set a try. Jones knew how to play the drums and tested well enough initially on the instrument, but the producers felt that, behind a drum kit, the camera would exaggerate his short stature and make him virtually hidden from view. Thus, Dolenz (who only knew how to play the guitar) was assigned to become the drummer. Tork taught Dolenz his first few beats on the drums, enough for him to fake his way through filming the pilot, but he was soon taught how to play properly.Thus, the lineup for the TV show most frequently featured Nesmith on guitar, Tork on bass, Dolenz on drums and Jones as a frontman, singer and percussionist.
  12. Unlike most television shows of the time, The Monkees episodes were written with many setups, requiring frequent breaks to prepare the set and cameras for short bursts of filming. Some of the “bursts” are considered proto-music videos, produced to sell the records. The Monkees Tale author Eric Lefcowitz noted that the Monkees were—first and foremost—a video group. The four actors would spend 12-hour days on the set, many of them waiting for the production crew to do their jobs. Noticing that their instruments were left on the set unplugged, the four decided to turn them on and start playing.
  13. After working on the set all day, the Monkees (usually Dolenz or Jones) would be called into the recording studio to cut vocal tracks. As the band was essential to this aspect of the recording process, there were few limits on how long they could spend in the recording studio, and the result was an extensive catalogue of unreleased recordings.
  14. Pleased with their initial efforts, Columbia (over Kirshner’s objections) planned to send the Monkees out to play live concerts. The massive success of the series—and its spin-off records—created intense pressure to mount a touring version of the group. Against the initial wishes of the producers, the band went out on the road and made their debut live performance in December 1966 in Hawaii.
  15. They had no time to rehearse a live performance except between takes on set. They worked on the TV series all day, recorded in the studio at night and slept very little. The weekends were usually filled with special appearances or filming of special sequences. The last show of the premiere season, “Monkees on Tour”, was shot in a documentary style by filming a concert in Phoenix, Arizona.
  16. During the summer 1967 tour of the United States and the UK (from which the Live 1967 recordings are taken), they were backed by a band called the Sundowners. In 1968 the Monkees toured Australia and Japan. The results were far better than expected. Wherever they went, the group was greeted by scenes of fan adulation reminiscent of Beatlemania. This gave the singers increased confidence in their fight for control over the musical material chosen for the series.
  17. With Jones sticking primarily to vocals and tambourine (except when filling in on the drums when Dolenz came forward to sing a lead vocal), the Monkees’ live act constituted a classic power trio of electric guitar, electric bass and drums (except when Tork passed the bass part to Jones or one of the Sundowners in order to take up the banjo or electric keyboards).
  18. The Monkees went on to produce three years of television, countless concerts and individual recordings.  To learn more, visit: http://www.allmusic.com/artist/the-monkees-mn0000478603/biography.

What’s your idea today?

 


 

“It’s got a good beat and you can dance to it”

(clockwise from lower left) Dick Clark was at the center of it all for decades; Dick in position on his show; Every male in the 50’s had to have an Ace comb in his back pocket; Dick Clark was a master at promotion; A show pass; Guys in suits and girls in dresses, that’s how it was done; Late 50’s boggie on afternoon TV; John Travolta Sept. 15, 1976; The start of Michael Jackson’s many appearances; Dick Clark’s typical sign off.  

 

Ever have one of those days, when everything is clicking, and you just wanna dance?  I do, thanks to the awesome work of my gang here at KHT.  It’s an absolute blast for me to walk around the different plants, checking on your PIA (Pain in the @#$) Jobs, and chatting with the crews.  With all the doors open, the sun shining in and the weather so nice, I find myself ‘dancin’ from building to building as we solve our customer’s problems. (yes, this really happens!)  When we were kids, we had tons of fun music we listened to and danced to (my sisters and brothers also could really dance along with Dad and Mom). On the weekends, when not out playing, we occasionally turned on American Bandstand to hear the latest hits, marveling at the kids swingin’ to the beat. Now, as I have gotten older, Jackie and my girls continue to “teach” me the latest moves.  In all fairness, I do have my favorite dance moves and while writing this post I can see them all shaking their heads!  Tomorrow marks the 60th anniversary of Dick Clark’s debut on ABC television.  As we all know, Dick went on to be a huge radio and television voice for decades – rock, blues, disco and soul music.  Special thanks to Wikipedia for the insights and little known history of AB.

 

  1. American Bandstand (AB) first premiered in late March 1950 as Bandstand on Philadelphia television station WFIL-TV Channel 6 (now WPVI-TV), as a replacement for a weekday movie that had shown predominantly British films. Hosted by Bob Horn as a television adjunct to his radio show of the same name, Bandstand mainly featured short musical films with occasional studio guests.
  2. After a few years, Horn was disenchanted with the program, and wanted to have the show changed to a dance program, with teenagers dancing along on camera as the records played, based on The 950 Club, hosted by Joe Grady and Ed Hurst.
  3. In spring of 1956, the ABC television network asked their O&O’s and affiliates for programming suggestions to fill their coveted 3:30pm time slot. Dick Clark, active with the show, decided to pitch it to ABC president Thomas W. Moore, and after some badgering the show was picked up nationally, officially becoming American Bandstand on August 5, 1957.
  4. A typical show included popular music, dancing teens and a small studio audience.  Clark interviewing teenagers about their opinions of the songs being played, most memorably through the “Rate-a-Record” segment. During the segment, two audience members each ranked two records on a scale of 35 to 98, after which the two opinions were averaged by Clark, who then asked the audience members to justify their scores. The segment gave rise, perhaps apocryphally, to the phrase “It’s got a good beat and you can dance to it.  Featured artists typically performed their current hits by lip-syncing to the released version of the song.
  5. The program was broadcast live, weekday afternoons and, by 1959, the show had a national audience of 20 million. In the fall of 1961, ABC truncated American Bandstand’s airtime from 90 to 60 minutes, then even further as a daily half-hour program in September 1962.  Beginning in early 1963, all five shows for the upcoming week were videotaped the preceding Saturday, allowing Clark to produce and host a series of concert tours around the success of American Bandstand.] On September 7, 1963, the program was moved from its weekday slot and began airing weekly every Saturday afternoon, restored to an hour, until 1989.
  6. From the late 1950s and most of the 1960s, Clark’s on-camera sidekick was announcer Charlie O’Donnell, who later went on to announce Wheel of Fortune and other programs hosted or produced by Clark, such as The $100,000 Pyramid.
  7. Production of the show moved from Philadelphia to the ABC Television Center in Los Angeles (now known as The Prospect Studios) on February 8, 1964, which coincidentally was the same weekend that WFIL-TV moved from 46th and Market to their then-new facility on City Line Avenue. The program was permanently in color from September 9, 1967. The typical production schedule consisted of videotaping three shows on a Saturday and three shows on a Sunday, every six weeks.
  8. Bandstand originally used “High Society” by Artie Shaw as its theme song, but by the time the show went national, it had been replaced by various arrangements of Charles Albertine’s “Bandstand Boogie,” including Larry Elgart’s big-band recording remembered by viewers of the daily version. From 1969 to 1974, “Bandstand Theme,” a synthesized rock instrumental written by Mike Curb, opened each show. From 1974 to 1977, there was a newer, orchestral disco version of “Bandstand Boogie,” arranged and performed by Joe Porter, played during the opening and closing credits.
  9. From 1977 to the end of its ABC run in 1987, the show opened and closed with Barry Manilow’s rendition of “Bandstand Boogie,” which he originally recorded for his 1975 album Tryin’ to Get the Feeling. The Manilow version was replaced by an updated instrumental arrangement of “Bandstand Boogie” when Bandstand went into syndication, arranged by David Russo.  From 1974 to the end of the ABC run in 1987, Bandstand featured another instrumental at its mid-show break: Billy Preston’s synth hit “Space Race.”
  10. As Bandstand moved towards the 1980s, the ratings began to decline. Many factors were involved in this, particularly the launch of MTV and other music programs on television. The increase in competition hurt Bandstand and the variety of options for music on TV decreased its relevance.
  11. The other reason ratings declined was that American Bandstand was pre-empted on many occasions by televised college football games, which expanded greatly in number in the wake of a court-ordered deregulation in 1984).
  12. Making matters worse, for the 1986–87 season, ABC reduced Bandstand from a full hour to 30 minutes; at Clark’s request, the final ABC episode (with Laura Branigan performing “Shattered Glass”) aired on September 5, 1987. Two weeks later, Bandstand moved to first-run syndication, restored to its former hour length.
  13. After a ten-month hiatus, Bandstand moved to USA Network with comedian David Hirsch taking over hosting duties. In another format shift, it was shot outdoors at Universal Studios Hollywood. Clark remained as executive producer. After 26 weeks, it was cancelled, and its final show (with The Cover Girls performing “My Heart Skips a Beat” and “We Can’t Go Wrong”) aired on October 7, 1989.
  14. In 2002, Dick Clark hosted a special 50th anniversary edition. Michael Jackson, a frequent Bandstand guest, performed “Dangerous” and The Village People performed their legendary song, “YMCA” for a live audience in Pasadena, California. Other performers including Brandy, members of KISS, Dennis Quaid and his band The Sharks, Cher, and Stevie Wonder.
  15. In 2004, Dick Clark, with the help of Ryan Seacrest, announced plans to revive the show in time for the 2005 season; although this did not occur (due in part to Clark suffering a severe stroke in late 2004), one segment of the revived Bandstand—a national dance contest—eventually became the series So You Think You Can Dance.
  16. The show’s popularity helped Dick Clark become an American media mogul and inspired similar long-running music programs, such as Soul Train and Top of the Pops. Clark eventually assumed ownership of the program through his Dick Clark Productions company.
  17. American Bandstand played a crucial role in introducing Americans to such famous artists as Prince, Jackson 5, Sonny and Cher, Aerosmith, and John Lydon’s PiL—all of whom made their American TV debuts on the show.  American Bandstand on radio and tv became ritual for many teenagers throughout the nation. The Top 40 hits that everyone heard were matched with fun routines performed by relatable teenagers. It became a staple in homes and heavily influenced American society culturally, musically, and socially. It also was a prototype for musical television properties including cable channel MTV and Fox’s reality-competition show American Idol.

The original Bandstand Boogie by Les Elgart, listen HERE.
Words were added by Barry Manilow in 1975, listen HERE.