With the sad news of the recent passing of Frank Zappa’s widow Gail, I thought this would be an appropriate time to display the “Valley Girl’s” single.
Gail Zappa, who was born in Philadelphia, was not only a staunch supporter and protector of Frank’s music, but also fought hard to protect the rights of all recording artists.
As the head of the Frank Zappa family trust, she gave permission to release some unearthed material by the legendary rocker, but she fought hard to stop people from using his music or name to promote concerts or other events.
Hope you enjoy looking at my collection of radio and music memorabilia. It spans many decades with radio stations from many cities, states and even a foreign country.
As you would expect, the collection includes the radio stations that I worked at, however, you might not believe that I have actually visited every single one of these stations that are in the collection.
Keep coming back as I will be adding more items as I uncover them from storage.
Over the years I have been fortunate to see hundreds of concerts. I was able to do this because those of us in the business get passes to almost all the shows.-or at least we used to. Things have tightened up over the years with the changes in the record and concert business.
Out of those many concerts I have tried to narrow it down to the top ten. It wasn’t easy. There were many great concerts that I left out. I also stayed away from the BIG concerts at places like the stadiums, where they were more like events than enjoyable shows.
In the mid to late 60’s and a little beyond, clubs started to spring up all over the Philadelphia area. There were The Main Point, The Trauma, The Bijou Café, The Theater of the Living Arts, The 2nd Fret. The Artist Hut, The 2nd of Autumn, The Magic Theater and The Focal Point.
Some had semi known nationally artists perform, but most were mainly for local talent that were springing up at that time. Bands like Elizabeth, Noah’s Ark, The Nazz, Thunder and Roses, The Mary Jane Company. The American Dream, Sweet Stavin’ Chain, Woody’s Truck Stop (at one time Todd Rundgren was the lead guitarist) ,Good News (featuring Kevin Bacon’s brother) ,High Treason and Edison Electric were able to build a local following and get record contracts in large part because of these clubs.
Some years ago I started writing a screenplay that I never did finish. Perhaps I should. The story took place in the future where CDs, DVDs and records were all a things of the past. All of the so-called music was done through computers and other devises. No longer did anyone go to concerts, they just looked at holograms in the comfort of their own homes. Music was no longer taught in the schools. There was no need since the computers did everything. You didn’t have to sing on key or tune your instruments, the computers did it all for you.
The hero of the story was a teenage boy who one day while going through some old stuff in the attic of his home discovered some things that his mother had stored there some time ago when her father died. What he found were a bunch of old CDs and DVDs that his grandfather had when he was a teenager that had rock music on them. This music had died some time ago and the boy was totally unfamiliar with it. It was real rock music played with real instruments and the boy feel I love with it. I will leave it there and maybe I will go back and finish the story.
That was the very question I asked when I was working for Arista Records and Clive Davis signed D.L. (David) Byron onto our label. The year was 1979 and I first heard D.L. at a staff meeting with Clive. In seconds I got why Clive signed him.
Where did he find him? Clive didn’t have to go far. David had moved up to New York City (Where Arista Records was based) from South Jersey in 1971 to get serious about his music career. At first he didn’t get any closer to a record deal than working in a record store. Eventually his songwriting got the attention of E H Morris who hired him as a staff writer. From there it was open mike nights and the word got around the city.
If I had to name only one person as the most interesting that I have met during my many years in the media, it would have to be Captain Beefheart. His unique talent and equally unique personality has attracted many writers to write books and articles about a musician who never had a hit record. Most of these writers had nothing but praise for the most advent garde of all rock musicians.
When I first met the artist turned rock musician then back to artist, he came to Philadelphia on one of his rare concert tours. In an interview with Frank Zappa I had already been told that Captain Beefheart was in Zappa’s words “the most fabulous man alive”. In the same interview he stated that “you have no idea what is going on in that man’s head”.
The first thing that got your attention when talking to Beefheart was his voice. What a fabulous voice he had. His voice had an unheard of range. It has been said that he was hard to record because his voice was so powerful that it blew out even the best of mikes.
Back in 1972 when I was programming the music at WIBG, an album came across my desk by a group that immediately caught my attention. It wasn’t their music that first got my attention. It was not only the name of the group, but the name of the album that peaked my interest prior to even hearing one note.
Who calls themselves Big Star when no one has ever heard of you? Not only that, but their LP was called NUMBER ONE RECORD. These guys were either really good and they knew it, or they were just kidding themselves or us.
As it turned out neither of these options were totally true. They actually named themselves after a huge store sign in their hometown of Memphis. The sign is on the album cover. I am sure they thought they were good, but a number one album they never were.
Vinegar Joe was an English band that had a very unique problem. Most groups have trouble finding a good lead singer. That wasn’t Vinegar Joe’s problem. Their problem was that they had two good lead singers in Elkie Brooks and Robert Palmer. Since the lead singer has a lot to do with the sound and face of the band, having two good lead singers is one too many. Oddly, both singers went solo and Vinegar Joe disbanded without leaving a mark on the rock scene.
For anyone to make a blanket statement that Warren Zevon was as crazy as the characters in his songs, would most certainly be an over statement. Yeah, in many ways he was just what you would expect from a rock star whose life was pretty much sex, drugs and rock and roll.
There was, however, a side to him that you not expect to see from hearing his very wild and vivid songs. I got to know some of that side when Warren spent some time living here in Philadelphia. If all you know about Warren Zevon is his song Werewolves of London, then you are missing a lot.
August 1, 2 & 3, 1969
There is no doubt that the most remembered musical event of the year 1969 was Woodstock. It not only made national, but international headlines.
However, there was a concert event that took place just a couple of weeks prior to Woodstock that was actually a much better live music experience. The Atlantic City Pop Festival was also the very first large scale festival on the east coast. It still gets no credit for not only pioneering such a concert events but for doing it right.
While there were some minor issues with off and on rain (I don’t remember it ruining any performance), the theft of some merchandise and a few did try to climb the fences, but for the most part this was a very well organized event. Perhaps you have to be totally disorganized to get real attention. Woodstock was certainly a mess compared to the AC Pop Festival.
August 11, 12 & 13, 1967
The summer of 1967 was a real turning point in Rock music. The summer began with The Monterey Pop Festival in California. That was the first time that many people first heard or heard of The Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin with Big Brother and The Holding Company, The Who and Jimi Hendrix.
Soon there were newspaper and magazine articles about the new music and culture. Time even ran a cover story about it. A song written and produced by John Phillips of The Mamas & The Papas “San Francisco (Be sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” by Scott McKenzie was number one on the US singles charts.
There is something about a live performance of a song that in some cases makes it better than the studio version. While with the live performance you don’t get a chance to do a second or third take, there is nothing like the response of a crowd to bring out the best in an act. Some acts biggest selling records were live albums. Here are ten of the very best.