Category Archives: Rock and Roll Saturdays

My look back at rock and roll through my life.

Physical Graffiti

Physical GraffittiPhysical Graffiti is the sixth studio album by the British rock band, Led Zeppelin.

Without a doubt it is my favorite and shows a depth and diversity of this historic rock band not reached by any of the previous releases. Physical Graffiti was Led Zeppelin’s true coming of age and a masterpiece of rock that still stands today.

It released on February 24, 1975, a full two years after the previous album, Houses of the Holy. The long hiatus from recording was to give bassist John Paul Jones some time off from touring. Had circumstances been a bit different at the time, JPJ could’ve ended up choirmaster at Winchester Cathedral.

After the time off he returned to the band ready to record.


Jones reflects on this period:

I didn’t want to harm the group, but I didn’t want my family to fall apart either. We toured a huge amount in those early days. We were all very tired and under pressure and it just came to a head. When I first joined the band, I didn’t think it would go on for that long, two or three years perhaps, and then I’d carry on with my career as a musician and doing movie music.



The band returned to Headley Grange in January of ’74 and laid down eight tracks in short order.


Robert Plant talks about these tracks:

Some of the tracks we assembled in our own fashioned way of running through a track and realising before we knew it that we had stumbled on something completely different.



Because the eight tracks extended beyond the length of a conventional album, it was decided to include several unreleased songs which had been recorded during the sessions for previous Led Zeppelin albums. The instrumental “Bron-Yr-Aur” was recorded in July 1970 at Island Studios, London, for Led Zeppelin III. It was named after Bron-Yr-Aur, a cottage in Gwynedd, Wales where the members of Led Zeppelin spent time during the recording of Led Zeppelin III. “Night Flight” and “Boogie with Stu” were recorded at Headley Grange and “Down by the Seaside” at Island Studios, all for Led Zeppelin IV. “The Rover” and “Black Country Woman” were recorded at the same sessions as “D’yer Mak’er” at Stargroves using the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio in May 1972. “Houses of the Holy” was also recorded in May 1972, but at Olympic Studios. The group’s fifth album,Houses of the Holy, took its title from this song despite the decision not to include the song on that album.



Jimmy Page explains:

We had more material than the required 40-odd minutes for one album. We had enough material for one and a half LPs, so we figured let’s put out a double and use some of the material we had done previously but never released. It seemed like a good time to do that sort of thing, release tracks like “Boogie With Stu” which we normally wouldn’t be able to do… This time we figured it was better to stretch out than to leave off.



Within two weeks of release Physical Graffiti was at the top of the US Billboard chart. It is 16x Platinum in the United States.

By comparison, Led Zeppelin’s next album, Presence was a commercial failure at 3x Platinum and a peak at #1 for two weeks on the U.S. Charts after which it was quickly replaced by The Rolling Stones, Black and Blue.

It’s hard to fathom a “two week, #1 album” as a failure but Physical Graffiti set the bar very high for Zeppelin.

At 37 years old Graffiti stands the test of time and still gets play in this old rock and roller’s music machine.

The album cover is a photographic image of #96 & #98 St. Mark’s place in Manhattan’s East Village.

R&R Saturday – It’s A Beautiful Day

It's A Beautiful DayIt’s A Beautiful Day.

As a matter of fact, it is, but I was talking about the San Francisco band of the same name..

In 1967 David LaFlamme was the founding member of IABD. Born in Connecticut LaFlamme  moved to L.A. when he was very young. As a child he picked up the violin and showed remarkable talent with little instruction.

After a short stint in the Army, Laflamme ended up in Salt Lake City and became a virtuoso violinist with the Utah Symphony Orchestra. He moved to San Francisco in the early sixties and started working with some of the emerging rock and roll artists from the bay area, notably Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and Santana.

It was there that LaFlamme met future manager Matthew Katz, who worked with Jefferson Airplane and Moby Grape. It was a relationship that brought the band together and ultimately drove them apart. After signing with Katz, their new manager sent them to Seattle to play in a nightclub he controlled – The Encore Ballroom.

The band stayed in the attic of an old house Latz owned by Katz and wrote and rehearsed new songs in between club performances. Few customers saw the band play in Seattle during December 1967.

LaFlamme spoke of their time in Seattle where they wrote their signature song, White Bird.


“We were living in the attic of an old Victorian house in Seattle, and performing at the Encore Ballroom. It was a typical Seattle winter day, rainy and drizzly, and we were looking out from the attic window over the street in front of this old house. It was on Capitol Hill, the old section of town across from Volunteer Park. There was a statue of some famous general right across the street in the park.

“The song describes the picture Linda and I saw as we looked out this little window in this attic. We had a little Wurlitzer portable piano sitting right in the well of this window, and I’d sit and work on songs. When you hear lines like, ‘the leaves blow across the long black road to the darkened sky and its rage,’ it’s describing what I was seeing out the window.

“Where the ‘white bird’ thing came from … We were like caged birds in that attic. We had no money, no transportation, the weather was miserable. We were just barely getting by on a very small food allowance provided to us. It was quite an experience, but it was very creative in a way.”[/box]

Upon their return from Seattle IABD saw moderate success performing around San Francisco and the subsequent release of their debut album, It’s a Beautiful Day, produced by LaFlamme in a Los Angeles studio and released by Columbia Records in 1969.

It’s A Beautiful Day – Original lineup

David LaFlamme – Electric Violin
Linda LaFlamme – Keyboards
Mitchell Holman – Bass
Val Fuentes – Drums
Hal Wagonet – Guitar
Pattie Santos – Vocals

By the early 70s the band was starting to become unraveled. Matthew Katz had a death grip on the IABD name and when Laflamme left the group in 74, the band name stayed behind. It would be many years before he would again play under the name of the band he founded.

In 1989 founding member Pattie Santos was killed in a car crash.

IABD Today

It's A Beautiful Day - today

Although no dates are listed on the band’s 2012 touring calendar they remain active and mesmerize crowds whenever they gather on stage.

R&R Saturday – The Beatles Take Manhattan – Feb 9, 1964

The BeatlesThe Ed Sullivan Show was a fixture on CBS Sunday night TV since launching on June 20, 1948. It was a big deal. Families would gather around the television after the Sunday night meal (pot roast at our house) and watch the show. Sullivan would roll out a various stream of performers to entertain the viewers.

Virtually every type of entertainment appeared on the show; opera singers, popular artists, songwriters, comedians, ballet dancers, dramatic actors performing monologues from plays, andcircus acts were regularly featured. The format was essentially the same as vaudeville, and although vaudeville died a generation earlier, Sullivan presented many ex-vaudevillians on his stage.

If the Elvis appearance on September 9th of ’56 changed the direction of the show, The Beatles 1964 appearance turned it upside down in a Twist and Shout kind of way. Over 73 millions American (more than 40% of the population) were glued to the family set to watch the four from Liverpool make their Ed Sullivan debut.

In late 1963, Sullivan was passing through London’s Heathrow airport at the same time The Beatles were returning from Stockholm. Sullivan was intrigued about how the bands fans were going nuts at their arrival and told his entourage it was the same thing as Elvis all over again. He initially offered Beatles manager Brian Epstein top dollar for a single show but the Beatles manager had a better idea—he wanted exposure for his clients: the Beatles would instead appear three times on the show, at bottom dollar, but receive top billing and two spots (opening and closing) on each show.

There are a handful of events on the Rock and Roll timeline with huge impact — January of ’56, when Sun Records released Elvis Presley’s first single, Heartbreak Hotel, February 3, 1959, when a small plane crash claimed the lives of Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens, and Feburary 9, 1964, when the Beatles took the Ed Sullivan stage.

R&R Saturday – The Day the Music Died: Feb 3, 1959

Day The Music DiedRock stars were a rare breed in 1959. Not like today when music genius is a dime a dozen and record deals are tossed around like salad. I’m talking about a time in the music world where you actually had to have talent.  These days you can’t throw a nickle in L.A. without hitting a record producer.

Buddy Holly was one of those bona fide rock stars of the generation. Along with Elvis, Ricky Nelson, and Bill Haley and his Comets, they made the music that defined the generation. If the 50s was an incubator for the rock and roll genre Buddy Holly was the chief scientist. Holly was a true pioneer of rock and roll. His works and innovations inspired and influenced contemporary and later musicians, notably The BeatlesElvis CostelloThe Rolling StonesBob Dylan, and Eric Clapton, and exerted a profound influence on popular music. Buddy Holly is generally credited with the lineup consisting of two guitars, a bass and a drummer for a rock band.

Out of Lubbock, Texas, Holly and his Crickets, music-making friends from school, traveled to Nashville to record under contract for Decca Records. The year was 1956 – Holly was 19 years old. The Nashville recording studio was a stifling environment for the young musician. He had little creative control and floundered in those early Decca Sessions.

Among the tracks he recorded was an early version of “That’ll Be The Day“, which took its title from a line that John Wayne‘s character says repeatedly in the 1956 film The SearchersThis initial version of the song played more slowly and about half an octave higher than the later hit version. Decca released two singles from the session, neither of which gained any traction on the radio. Less than a year after signing the Crickets, Decca released them from their contract.

Holly and his band traveled to Clovis N.M., where they recorded the version of That’ll Be the Day that released a few months later to climb quickly up the music charts. The Crickets performed “That’ll Be the Day” and “Peggy Sue” on The Ed Sullivan Show on December 1, 1957.

Holly was offered a spot in the Winter Dance Party, a three-week tour across the Midwest opening on January 23, 1959, by the GAC agency, with other notable performers such as Dion and the BelmontsRitchie Valens, and J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson. He assembled a backing band consisting of Tommy Allsup (guitar), Waylon Jennings (bass) and Carl Bunch (drums), and billed the band as The Crickets.

From day one it was a miserable experience for the entertainers. The harsh Minnesota winters were hard on the bus with temperatures around −25 °F. The heater on the bus coulen’t keep up not to mention the continuous breakdowns.

On the evening February 2, 1959 the tour stopped at the  Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa.   Holly chartered a small airplane to take him to the next stop on the tour. He, Valens, Richardson and the pilot were killed en route to Moorhead, Minnesota, when their plane crashed soon after taking off from nearby Mason City in the early morning hours of February 3.  Bandmate Waylon Jennings had given up his seat on the plane, causing Holly to jokingly tell Jennings, “I hope your ol’ bus freezes up!” Jennings shot back facetiously, “Well, I hope your ol’ plane crashes!” It was a statement that would haunt Jennings for decades.

Everyone on the plane perished in the crash – Ritchie Valenz, Buddy Holly, J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, and the pilot, Roger Peterson. Investigators concluded that the crash was due to a combination of poor weather conditions and pilot error, resulting in spatial disorientation.

Years later singer Don McLean released a musical homage to the Buddy Holly and the crash. American Pie was a hit and took the listener back to a much simpler time in America, and to The Day the Music Died.



R&R Saturday – CSNY

CSNYThere’s bands, there’s groups, there’s supergroups, and then there’s legends. Somewhere near the top you’ll find an unlikely foursome, a quartet of musicians and songwriters who came together at the intersection of harmony and society to become the voice of a generation.

Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young — First it’s very appropriate that the “and Young” is separated from the trio, like an afterthought, an add-on. Neil Young is without a doubt a superstar in his own right, but as a solid corner of the quartet he never seemed to fully embrace.

Before hooking up to become one of the generation’s greatest voices each member had been part of musical success with other well known groups of the time.  David Crosby from The Byrds, Stephen Stills and Neil Young from Buffalo Springfield, and Graham Nash from The Hollies.

After Crosby was forced from The Byrds in late ’67 and Springfield disintegrated in early 1968, Crosby and Stills were unemployed and spending time together making music in Florida. They were cruising the Keys with Jefferson Airplane guitarist Paul Kantner and together they wrote what would become one of their great songs, Wooden Ships.

At the same time Graham Nash was suffering creative frustration with The Hollies and left the band to join forces with Crosby and Stills, forming the first version of the supergroup—Crosby, Stills and Nash. With David Geffen signed on as part of the management team a deal was struck with Atlantic Records and off to the studio they went. The result was their 1969 self-titled album, Crosby, Stills & Nash. Two tracks went on to top-40 success. Marrakesh Express and Suite: Judy Blue Eyes reaching 28 and 21 respectively.

With the success of the album, Atlantic was pushing the trio to tour. To round out the sound prior to touring the trio became a tenuous quartet with the addition of Neil Young. Young’s contract allowed him to parallel the group with his own Crazy Horse band and from the beginning he maintained his independence from the others. On stage he was a solid piece of the music but away from the microphone Neil Young did what Neil Young did. He carved his own path.

Their first gig as CSNY was on Aug. 17, 1969 at the Auditorium Theater in Chicago with Joni Mitchell as their opening act. They mentioned they were going to some place called Woodstock the next day, but they had no idea where that was. They began their second set that night with the same line they uttered at Woodstock, “This is only the second time we’ve performed in front of people. We’re scared shitless.” They opened with Suite: Judy Blue Eyes before launching into a harmony-drenched version of The Beatles‘ “Blackbird“.

CSNY at WoodstockTheir second show was a baptism by fire at the Woodstock Festival. CSNY’s recording of the Joni Mitchell song memorializing Woodstock would later become a hit and the recording most associated with the festival.

By contrast, little mention is made of the group’s following appearance at the violence-plagued Altamont Free Concert, with CSNY having escaped mostly unscathed from the fallout of the show. The group’s Altamont performance was not included in the subsequent film Gimme Shelter, at the band’s request.

Riding high waves of success, their first album with Young, Déjà Vu, arrived in stores in March 1970, topping the charts and generating three hit singles. Déjà Vu was also the first release on the Atlantic Records SD-7200 “superstar” line, created by the label for its highest-profile artists; the subsequent solo albums by Crosby, Stills, and Nash would also be the next releases in this series.

Young and Crosby were staying at a house near San Francisco when reports of the Kent State shootings arrived, inspiring Young to write his protest classic Ohio, recorded and rush-released weeks later and providing another Top 20 hit for the group.

However, the deliberately tenuous nature of the partnership was strained by its success, and the foursome imploded after their tour in the summer of 1970. Concert recordings from that tour would end up on another chart-topper, the 1971 double-vinyl Four Way Street, but the group could never recapture the magic of past years.

After the quick flash of success in the early 70s, each member would produce their own solo effort of varying success. Still’s self-titled album rose to 3rd in the top-100 charts. Crosby’s If I Could Only Remember My Name had moderate success peaking at#12, and Nash’s Songs for Beginners reached #15.

Neil Young went on to a successful launch of his own solo effort, After the Gold Rush, with an augmented Crazy Horse. The album capped out at #8 with two singles, “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” and When_You_Dance_I_Can_Really_Love, reaching 33 and 93.

The next few years saw the harmony of Woodstock collapse into egos adrift, rampant drug use, and waning success. Young distanced himself more and more from the other three and in 1976 veered completely away from the collaboration. Young sent an infamous telegram to Stephen Stills that read:  Dear Stephen, funny how things that start spontaneously end that way. Eat a peach. Neil. 

The CSN trio went back in the studio in 1977 and released CSN to high demand and chart success, climbing to #2. It was their first release as a trio since Young’s departure. The album had the unfortunate timing of releasing concurrent to Fleetwood Mac‘s Rumours  or it would surely have easily hit the #1 slot.

Over the next few years between Crosby’s drug use and the trio’s political activism, music seemed to take a sideline. Still, they would all produce individual releases and together put out five more albums:

Following the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center the quartet set their differences aside and starting discussing a reunion tour.

[box] “We wanted to tour anyway, but Neil felt, and I think he may be right, that people really wanted to see us. The country went into shock for a little while, just because we really couldn’t accept that much pain all at one time. Then there’s a period of mourning, when you really do accept what the loss was and how bad it was. Then there’s a period when people really want to hold out their hands to each other and feel unity within their community and family and country with their peers. We have always felt that music is a healing thing. We all felt that we had entered that time and this would be a positive force. And, you know, that’s who we are and what we do.” — David Crosby[/box]

So in 2002 the foursome hit the road for their first tour together since the early 70s. The CSNY Tour of America kicked off on February 2nd at The Palace of Auburn Hills. It might have been a healing experience for fans but the reunion was a cash cow for the producers. Everyone wanted to see the foursome and hear the music that defined a generation.

CSN was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997; CSNY is the only band to have all its members inducted into the Hall twice. Crosby has also been inducted as a member of the Byrds (1991), and Stills as a member of Buffalo Springfield (1997). In 2010, Nash was inducted as a member of the Hollies. Young has been inducted for his solo work (1995) and for Buffalo Springfield (1997), but has not been inducted with CSN.

Together on stage or separately in the studio these four artists represents a unique style of music and collaboration during some troubling times. Through their individual successes and failures they have come to this point in life as nothing short of living legends. Our musical foundation is stronger for the experience.

Just a song before I go, a lesson to be learned.


R&R Saturday – Etta James

Etta JamesI saw Etta James a few years back. She played a show with B.B. King, Elvin Bishop, and J. Geils in Nashville. Man, that lady had some pipes! When she started singing At Last, the crowd went crazy. It was a real treat for me and surprising how she absolutely stole the stage from these music legends.

Etta James lost her long battle with Leukemia on Friday. (Jan 20, 2012)

Etta James was born Jamesetta Hawkins, in Los Angeles, Calif., January 25, 1938, her mother was 14 and her father was never known. James speculated that her father was the pool player, Rudolf “Minnesota Fats” Wanderone. James met him briefly in 1987. It’s noted that Fats never validated nor denied the claim.

Etta’s mother was a bit of a ramblin’ gal and young Jamesetta was raised mostly by a string of caregivers. The bulk of her childhood with “Sarge” and “Mama Lu.”

James received her first professional vocal training at the age of five from James Earle Hines, musical director of the Echoes of Eden choir, at the St. Paul Baptist Church in Los Angeles. Even then her talent showed promise.

In 1950 when Mama Lu died, her mother moved Etta to the Fillmore district in San Francisco. A couple of years later, James began listening to doo-wop and was inspired to form a girl croup — The Creolettes. The later changed the name to The Peaches and in 1956, at eighteen years-old, her little girl group from San Francisco earned an opening spot on Little Richard‘s national tour.

In 1960, she signed with Chess Records and recorded for nearly twenty years. Her debut album, At Last!, was released in late 1960 and was noted for its varied choice in music from jazz to blue, doo-wop and R&B. The album also included James’ future classic, “I Just Want to Make Love to You” and “A Sunday Kind of Love“. In early 1961, James released what has become her signature song, “At Last“, which reached number two on the R&B chart and number 47 on the Billboard Top 100.

After she left Chess in 1978 James did not record for nearly a decade as she battled addictions and alcoholism. In 1988 she staged a comeback with moderate success.

James signed with Private Music Records in 1993 and recorded the Billie Holiday tribute album Mystery Lady: Songs of Billie Holiday. The album set a trend for James’ music to incorporate more jazz elements. The album won James her first Grammy Award for best jazz vocal performance. In 1995, she released the David Ritz-co authored autobiography, A Rage to Survive, and recorded the album Time After Time. Three years later she issued the Christmas album Etta James Christmas in 1998.

In 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked her #62 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. James has performed at the top world jazz festivals in the world, such as the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1977, 1989, 1990 and 1993, performed nine times at the legendary Monterey Jazz Festival, and the San Francisco Jazz Festival five times. She also performs often at free city outdoor summer arts festivals throughout the US.

In April 2009, the 71-year-old James made her final television appearance performing “At Last” during an appearance on Dancing with the Stars.

James was hospitalized in January 2010 to treat an infection caused by MRSA, a bacterium resistant to antibiotic treatment. During her hospitalization, her son Donto revealed that James had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s  in 2008, and attributed her previous comments about Beyoncé Knowles to “drug induced dementia”.

She was diagnosed with leukemia in early 2011. Etta James died on January 20, 2012, just five days before her 74th birthday, at Riverside Community Hospital, Riverside, California.

There is a void in the music world today. It’s shaped very much like Etta James.


CNN Article from 2002 about Etta James

Rock and Roll Saturday – The Moody Blues

One of my favorites of the British invasion was a little band out of Birmingham, England, The Moody Blues. Their 1967 album Days of Future Passed was unlike anything you heard at the time. There was an underlying foundation of music from the London Festival Orchestra who provided classical horn, string, woodwind and percussion interludes sprinkled throughout the recording. It was also their first session with Justin Hayward and John Lodge, who ultimately became the driving force behind the band’s future success.

To trace the roots of The Moody Blues you have to go all the way back to May 4th of 1964, when Ray Thomas and Mike Pinder recruited Denny Laine (who went on to form Wings with Paul McCartney),  drummer Graeme Edge, and bassist Clint Warwick. Together they became the first Moody Blues lineup.

The early days of the band had more of an R&B style as heard on their first and only hit single, Go Now, from their 1965 debut album, The Magnificent Moodies.

With little followup success, Laine left the group and the search for his replacement began. On a recommendation from Eric Burdon of the Animals, Pinder contacted Justin Hayward and after a brief audition was immediately folded into the band.  Shortly after, Warwick departed and without hesitation, John Lodge was brought in to replace him. Lodge and Ray Thomas were old friends and band-mates from a previous collaboration.

Decca Records newly formed subsidiary, Deram Records, approached the group about a concept album trying to merge rock with classical music. It seemed almost doomed for failure from the beginning. Some Deram executives feared alienating the rock and pop fan base with the classical underpinnings. However, with the Moodies in full control of the artistic direction of the session, the group persevered and released Days of Future Passed in November of 1967. Considering the use of the London Festival Orchestra throughout this album it’s odd to note that the band never actually performed at the same time as the symphony. It was all mixed in post-production.

Nights in White SatinTwo singles from the album, Nights in White Satin and Tuesday Afternoon, went on to achieve major success on their own. Nights was re-released as a single in 1979 and climbed to #14 on the U.K.  charts

The “Days” producer at Deram Records was Tony Clarke, who ultimately became known to fans as the “Sixth Moody” and would be instrumental in producing the next eight Moody Blues productions, including the 1978 reunion album, Octave.

The band brought a degree of sophistication to music that was very different from what other musicians were bringing to the stage. They went on to release a string of progressive concept albums over a short period to critical success and fan adoration.

In the spring of 1974, following a world tour which culminated with a successful circle around the major cities of Asia, The Moody Blues took an extended break to work on solo projects and spend time with family. It was not known whether they would ever return.

The return to the studio in 1977 brought someone underlying tension among the lineup. It’s a wonder they survived the project at all. Their future as a band was tenuous, at best. Pinder had started raising a family in California during the hiatus so the Moodies setup shop on the west coast to foster their revival. A fire in the studio they were using forced them into Pinder’s home to work on the album. Torrential rains effectively maroooned the guys together for a few days. Tempers flared and when the dust settled Mike Pinder threw in the towel and left the band, never to return.

This turn of events nearly sank an upcoming tour but the group was able to bring in Patrick Moraz of Yes to replace the absent Mike Pinder. The Octave tour took off and the group traveled extensively throughout 1978 and 1979. After the return it was back to the studio to begin work on their next album.

As a unit the Moody Blues continued to record and produce CDs well into the new milleniem. Their last collaboration with Moraz at keyboard was on 1991’s Keys to the Kingdom. Moraz was released from the band following internal strife. Some of his keyboard tracks were used in future releases. Moraz sued and was awared a nominal sum for his effort.

In the years since, The Moody Blues have continued to tour and play to sellout crowds everywhere. Fans recapturing the magic of evenings spent with moody music playing in the headphones show up in droves for a trip down memory lane.

In 2002 founding member Ray Thomas retired from the band leaving a huge onstage void. Ray was a powerhouse of stage presence and his flute would be sorely missed from many Moody songs. The band hired flautist Norda Mullen to fill Ray Thomas’s big shoes. Her music contribution is stellar and if I look at her as a musical collaborator she fills the bill nicely. She’s no Ray Thomas.

When asked about Mullen’s contribution, Edge would reply, “(She) is classically trained, but amazing enough, she’s got a rock ‘n’ roll heart. She was playing bass in a rock band. … It’s still different. Ray had that raw, don’t-give-a-damn rock ‘n’ roll energy, and that lovely voice. Of course, you can’t work with someone for 40 years and not miss him.”

The Moody Blues through their career have sold over 70 million albums. They have garnered 14 platinum and gold discs. They recently announced a 2012 tour and remain active with one member from the original 1964 lineup (Edge) and two others from 1967. (Hayward and Lodge)

The Moody Blues endure and we are better for it. 5ZM354D8VKY4


Rock and Roll Saturday – Blind Faith

Bland Faith Band

The Sixties—just the words bring to mind a wide variance of emotion and music. It was a period of change, of color, fashion and hallucinogenic. The music industry was very much like the old west town of Dodge City and supergroups were lining up as the big sheriff of the concert halls.

Blind Faith is one of those lineups, a cross between genius and disaster; a marriage of fantastic and fiasco. They were like a star that went super-nova, burned brightly for a few white-hot moments, and then they were gone.

The roots of Blind Faith trace back to late 60s England where arguably the first “Supergroup” Cream was selling records by the boat load and filling concert halls where ever they played.

Cream was an overnight international success bringing fame and fortune to the trio, Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, and Ginger Baker. In their short career they recorded four studio albums and sold 35 million albums worldwide. In the end Clapton’s easy-going demeanor was not enough to calm the conflict between Bruce and Baker and after three years Cream was no more.

In the meantime, Steve Winwood was having similar conflict with his bandmates at  The Spencer Davis Group. He left to form Traffic and in the meantime began jamming in Clapton’s Surrey basement studio. Winwood had met Clapton and worked briefly on the short-lived Powerhouse project with him and Jack Bruce in 1966.

Shortly after Cream folded, Clapton and Ginger Baker joined forces with Winwood and another Powerhouse alumnus, Ric Grech on bass, to form Blind Faith. The band debuted for a free concert on June 7, 1969 in London’s Hyde Park. Although well received by everyone privy to the show, Clapton was disappointed believing the group had not practiced enough to be a solid musical unit. Also, their repertoire was somewhat limited with barely enough original music to fill an hour. They ended up playing Cream and Traffic music to fill out the set.

Blind Faith BandWorking on a setlist for recording the quartet put in time in London’s Olympic & Morgan Studios recording their untitled debut album. Between late February and June 24 they worked on six tracks that would make it to the album.

In August of 1969 the self-titled album, Blind Faith, released to a wide audience and appeal with two tracks, Winwood’s Can’t Find My Way Home and Clapton’s Presence of the Lord climbing quickly onto the UK and US charts.

Blind FaithThe cover for the initial release brought with it a fervor of controversy. The topless pubescent 11 year-old model holding a hood ornament from a 1956 Chevrolet proved to be too much for the label and they moved to immediately to release a second package with a photo of the band. The initial album cover is to this day a coveted collectors item.

The cover art was created by photographer Bob Seidemann, a personal friend and former flatmate of Clapton’s known primarily for his photos of Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead.

In an interview regarding his original Blind Faith photo Seidemann said,

“I could not get my hands on the image until out of the mist a concept began to emerge. To symbolize the achievement of human creativity and its expression through technology a space ship was the material object. To carry this new spore into the universe, innocence would be the ideal bearer, a young girl, a girl as young as Shakespeare’s Juliet. The space ship would be the fruit of the tree of knowledge and the girl, the fruit of the tree of life.”

Blind Faith BandSeidemann named his famous photograph Blind Faith. The group embraced the image name for the group and the a tiny span of rock and roll history was forever locked to the image. Not wanting to deface the image the band elected to have their name inked into the plastic jacket sleeve to disappear once the album was opened.

The promise of new music and future tours went away as quickly as Bind Faith took the stage. After the album release and the end of their US Tour rumors of breakup ran like wildfire through the fan base and respective labels. Blind Faith didn’t last a year but left a lifetime of great music. Their only album occasionally finds its way to my digital jukebox even today.

After Blind Faith, Baker, Winwood, and Ric Grech, joined with former Moody Blues frontman, Denny Laine, and formed Ginger Baker’s Air Force.

Eric Clapton toured with Delaney and Bonnie and spun another collaboration with friends, Derek and the Dominoes.  He followed the supergroup musical chairs with a successful solo career of his own. Grammies and and platinum records line the Clapton walls.

Steve Winwood returned to Traffic taking Ric Grech with him to record The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys in 1971. In 1986, Winwood enlisted some friends in a project and released Back in the High Life in the US. He topped the Billboard Hot 100 with “Higher Love”, and earned two Grammy Awards: for Record of the Year and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. On High Life you will find contributions by James Taylor, Chaka Kahn, Joe Walsh and many others.

Ric Grech made a short career of doing sessions work with the likes of George Harrison, Gram Parsons, and Rod Stewart. He even did a short stint with The Crickets in the mid-seventies. He retired from the music business and returned to England in 1977. Grech succumbed to alcoholism in 1990 at the age of 43.

It’s better to burn-out than to fade away – Neil Young



Rock and Roll Saturday – Dick Clark

Dick ClarkConsidering this Rock and Roll Saturday falls on New Years Eve, I thought I would pay a bit of homage to a man that brought rock & roll into our living rooms for many years, Mr. Dick Clark.

Bandstand came to be in 1952 on Philadelphia television station WFIL. The original program was hosted by Bob Horn who left the program in 1956 following a drunk driving arrest. Horn was immediately replaced with another on air talent at the station, weatherman Dick Clark.

In August of 1957 ABC picked up the program for a national broadcast and changed the name to American Bandstand. Clark often interviewed kids in the studio about the music being played. A popular segment of the program was “Rate-A-Record” where two guests would provide opinion on the music being played. The phrase, “It’s got a good beat and you can dance to it,” became synonymous with the program. Cheech and Chong were known to drop in and fill in as reviewers.

The program maintained its success on the advertising dollars spent on the target demographic of the American Teenager. The show aired Monday through Friday until September 7 of 1963 when it was moved to a once a week spot on Saturday afternoons. A year later ABC moved the program from Philadelphia to Los Angeles. In 1967 American Bandstand began broadcasting in color.

Through it all Dick Clark brought top 40 from the radio to the stage and introduced generations of teens to music.

Some of the bands to play on American Bandstand over the years:

  • Aerosmith
  • Adam Ant
  • Bon Jovi
  • Beach Boys
  • Oingo Boingo
  • David Bowie
  • The Carpenters
  • Jim Croce
  • The Cowsills
  • Def Leppard
  • Neil Diamond
  • Peter Frampton
  • The Grass Roots
  • Isaac Hayes
  • Billy Idol
  • Jefferson Airplane
  • Etta James
  • B.B. King
  • Men At Work
  • Van Morrison
  • Pink Floyd
  • Prince
  • Little Richard
  • Run DMC
  • Slade
  • Strawberry Alarm Clock
  • Talking Heads
  • Tommy Tutone
  • War

For a full list of acts to play on American Bandstand click here.

As they say, all good things must come to an end and on October 7, 1989, Bandstand broadcast its last show.

In 2002 Dick Clark hosted a special 50th anniversary edition. Michael Jackson, a frequent Bandstand guest, performed Dangerous.

Dick Clark New Years

Dick Clark Times Square 1986

On December 8 of 2004r, the then 75-year-old was hospitalized in Los Angeles after suffering what was initially termed a minor stroke. On December 13, 2004, it was announced that Clark would be unable to host his annual New Year’s Rockin’ Eve broadcast that had aired for all but one year since 1972. For the 2004 show, Regis Philbin was the substitute host, and during the show on December 31, 2004, he gave his best wishes to Clark.

On December 31, 2005, Clark made his return to television, returning to the Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve broadcast. During the braodcast, Clark remained behind a desk and was shown only in limited segments. Though Clark had noticeable difficulty speaking, he was able to perform his famous countdown to the new year.

On air, he stated, “Last year I had a stroke. It left me in bad shape. I had to teach myself how to walk and talk again. It’s been a long, hard fight. My speech is not perfect but I’m getting there.” Before counting down to 2006, he mentioned he “wouldn’t have missed this for the world.”

Dick Clark brought music to the masses for many years. At 82 years old he’ll be back tonight to host New Years Rockin’ Eve.