King Crimson

Pete Townsend of the Who called it an uncanny masterpiece.

in_the_courtLG4He was speaking of the King Crimson album “in the court of the crimson king”.  The name King Crimson came from the band’s lyricist Peter Sinfield as a synonym for Beelzebub, prince of demons. The band known as King Crimson was started in late 1968, shortly after, they purchased a Mellotron, a unique keyboard instrument that could play back any recorded sounds such as stringed instruments, voices, or sound effects. King Crimson used it to create an original orchestral rock sound never heard before. In the spring of 1969, they played at the Rolling Stones free concert in Hyde Park, London, before a crowd of 650,000 people. The first King Crimson album titled ‘In the Court of the Crimson King’ was released in October of that same year.  The album drew on a wide range of influences including improvisation, classical, folk, jazz, military, with a little British pop and a touch of Jimi Hendrix mixed in. Their sound presented a unique approach to music and was a break from the usual blues-based rock of the day. King Crimson has been credited by many with starting the progressive rock movement.

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It was twenty years ago today….

Actually, it was fifty years ago.  On Sunday, Feb. 9, 1964, over 73 million Americans gathered around television sets to see what all the excitement was about. Radio’s had been playing the music and saying “The Beatles Are Coming!” The evening news on CBS and ABC even showed films of The Beatles’ wild arrival in America at New York’s Kennedy Airport.  Two days later, The Beatles made their first live appearance on American television, taking place on the country’s most popular variety program, “The Ed Sullivan Show”.

The official version of how Ed Sullivan learned about The Beatles begins on Oct. 31, 1963. On that day, Sullivan and his wife were at London’s Airport. It was an unusually busy day at the airport with the prime minister due to fly out and contestants for the Miss World contest arriving in London. Despite a heavy rainstorm that day more than 1,500 kids lined the airport rooftop. Sullivan asked what all the commotion was about.  He was told that it was for The Beatles, who were returning from a tour of Sweden. He replied, “Who the hell are The Beatles?” Although Sullivan would later say that he immediately inquired into booking The Beatles on his show, the true story is a bit more involved.

By September 1963, The Beatles were gaining popularity in the British press. Their big break in England was a well-publicized television appearance on “Val Parnell’s Sunday Night at the London Palladium”, the British equivalent of “The Ed Sullivan Show”. The bedlam caused by the group both inside and outside the theater caught the attention of British news editors. The Daily Mirror described the hysteria as “Beatlemania!”  The Beatle’s Palladium appearance was followed by the airport reception witnessed by Sullivan.

The next day Beatles manager Brian Epstein was headed to New York with on of his other acts, Billy J. Kramer. The primary purpose of the visit was to promote Kramer but he also wanted to find out why The Beatles hadn’t “happened” in America yet.  As he was about to leave, Brian Epstein was contacted by Ed Sullivan’s European talent coordinator Peter Prichard.  Prichard wanted to get The Beatles on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and offered to negotiate a deal.  Brian, however, said that he would rather handle the negotiations himself, Prichard told Brian, he would set up a meeting with Sullivan.

As the plane headed for New York, Prichard called Sullivan to give him a report on the Royal Variety Show and the tremendous response The Beatles had received.  He recommended that Sullivan book The Beatles for his show. Sullivan, remembering the large crowd at London Airport, was interested, but needed an angle to promote the group. Prichard told Sullivan that The Beatles were the first “long haired boys” to be invited to appear before the Queen of England. That convinced Sullivan to consider the group for his show.

Brian Epstein’s appointment book indicates he met with Ed Sullivan at his suite at the Delmonico Hotel on Monday, Nov. 11. There, the two tentatively agreed that The Beatles would appear on the Feb. 9 show live from New York.  They also agreed to an appearance the following week on a special remote show broadcast live from the Deauville Hotel in Miami Beach.

Although Sullivan usually paid up to $10,000 for a single performance, he offered Brian $3,500 for each show. He also agreed to pay the group’s transportation and lodging. Realizing the importance of having his boys on the show, Brian agreed to the deal provided The Beatles received top billing. By the time the first show aired three months later, Sullivan eagerly promoted The Beatles as the headline act.  However, Mitzi Gaynor received top billing for the second Miami Beach Show.

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Yesterday and Today Album Cover


It was the original cover shot for the Beatles album yesterday and today. But radio Dj’s were so offended that capitol recalled the album.


The original album cover from the Beatles – Yesterday and Today

In 1966, photographer Robert Whitaker brought the Beatles into his studio for a conceptual art shoot called “A somnambulant adventure”. The Beatles were dressed in white smocks and covered in pieces of meat and plastic doll parts.  The story goes that McCartney pushed the photo to be the cover, saying it was their view on the war.  When the original cover was recalled…several printed copies were sent to landfills but there were too many.  So, Capitol Records decided to paste a new cover over the old one, a picture of the fab four sitting around an open steamer trunk.  Both the original butcher cover as it became known and the pasted on cover became valuable collectors items…now selling for thousands of dollars.

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Ozark Mountain Daredevils

The Ozark Mountain Daredevils (album)

The Ozark Mountain Daredevils (album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1971, Steve Cash, John Dillon, and some friends began playing together in Springfield, Missouri under the name “Family Tree”  They played for small groups of friends every Wednesday night at the new bijou theater in Springfield Missouri. After a performance in Kansas city, they were told the name family tree was taken…so, they held a band naming party. It was John Dillon who came up with the full name…”cosmic corn cob and his amazing Ozark mountain daredevils”. It was shortened because none of the members wanted to become known as cosmic corn cob.  They also dropped the “amazing” to avoid confusion with the amazing rhythm aces. The first album, Ozark Mountain Daredevils, introduced the band’s unique sound and delivered them a hit song “If You Wanna Get to Heaven”.  During the recording of their second Album, It’ll Shine When in Shines , Larry Lee was sitting at a piano playing and singing a song about a friend of his who sometimes dealt drugs on the side. Producer Glyn Johns overheard it and thought it could be a hit if the lyrics were altered to be about a girl.  Lee and Steve Cash did as they were asked and the song, Jackie Blue, became the Daredevil’s signature song.

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America / George Martin

1974’s Holiday was the first America album pro...

1974’s Holiday was the first America album produced by Sir George Martin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After their first self-titled album, ‘America’, for no apparent reason, released six consecutive albums with titles starting with the letter H. After the band America released their third album ‘Hat Trick’, not selling as well as its predecessor, ‘Homecoming’, they decided to hire some big names to put together their next project. Enter George Martin and Geoff Emerick, producer and recording engineer for the Beatles. The sessions were recorded at Martins studios in London and Montserrat in the Caribbean. Adding Stings and brass to the basic acoustic guitars and vocals of America, George Martin took America in a new direction. The resulting album ‘Holiday’ put the band back in the charts with the songs lonely people and Tin Man. The success brought George Martin back to produce their next album ‘Hearts’ and even more hits…Woman Tonight, Daisy Jane and a song that’s opening guitar was inspired by George Harrison’s my sweet lord…Sister Golden Hair.

Allman Brothers – Eat a Peach


Cover of "Eat a Peach"

Cover of Eat a Peachne

In the fall of 1971, Duanne Allman died in a tragic motorcycle accident. After the passing of Duane Allman, the other members of the Allman Brothers band went their separate ways.  However, they all felt a void that needed to be filled. They found themselves calling each other, wanting to get together and jam.  Finally, the five remaining members came back together with Dickey Betts filling in the oversized shoes of Duanne. Using the three tracks completed with Duanne, some unreleased Fillmore recordings, and a side of new songs, the revised Allman Brothers band finished their fourth album, Eat a peach.  Simultaneously, it was a sad ending and a bright new beginning.You can hear more stories like this and the great music behind it at deep end

Altamont Speedway – December 6, 1969

The 1960s as a cultural phenomenon did not conform to a calendar. The 60s began in 1964 and ended at a Raceway near San Francisco in December of 1969. 69 was the year where it all came to a head. The summer of 1969 saw the moon landing and Woodstock. By December of that year that flower power and peace signs had been replaced by a clenched fist in the air.

Nowhere was this more visible than at an outdoor concert headlined by the Rolling Stones just outside of San Francisco at the Altamont Speedway. Earlier in the year the Rolling Stones had given a similar concert in London. There, the British version of Hells Angels provided security. What they hadn’t factored in was the extreme difference between the teddy boys on motorcycles that were called Hells Angels in England and the hard edged harley-loving Hells Angels of California. The concert featured Ike and Tina Turner, Santana, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Jefferson Airplane, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, with the Rolling Stones taking the stage as the final act. The co-organizers and promoters of the festival, the grateful dead were scheduled to play but opted out at the last minute because of the growing violence at the event. Around 300,000 people attended the concert. Although peaceful at first, over the course of the day, the crowd slowly grew agitated, intoxicated and violent. The security, the California Hells Angels, had been drinking free beer all day standing at the front of the stage. As the crowd became angry and unpredictable, attacking each other, the performers and the hells angels, the Angels reacted in kind. By the end of the concert, there were many injuries, 4 deaths, and extensive property damage. As beautiful and hopeful as Woodstock was, that was how ugly and hopeless Altamont was.
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