Only ardent fans of The Rolling Stones know very much about one of the original members of the band. However, Ian Stewart was very instrumental in getting the group off the ground. Keith Richard said “Ian Stewart was the glue that held the whole thing together”.
Those who take the time will note that Ian’s name appears on many of The Rolling Stones records. He wasn’t a studio musician, he was a member of the early Rolling Stones. As it turned out he did a lot more than play keyboards for the band.
When Brian Jones, the original leader of The Rolling Stones, put an ad in the paper looking for a piano player who knew American Blues, Boogie Woogie and R & B, it was Stewart who showed up and blew the whole band away with his playing.
As of this writing, we officially enter into the Summer of 2017. Even before the summer started there were all kinds of talk and writing about this year being the 50th anniversary of the so called “Summer of Love”. That summer was a major turning point in my life. While I had been on the air prior to that summer, it was a milestone because of my having the opportunity to launch a new form of radio programming.
The idea for a radio format that included all kinds of music with both singles and album cuts being played was born long before that summer. For that matter, so were the seeds for “The Summer of Love”.
They both grew out of a blending of a social and musical revolution that had been brewing from as early as the 50’s. Jazz was the music of the “Beat” generation. The music itself was more universal but center point of thought for that generation was San Francisco. It was no accident that the liberal city by the bay was the epicenter of “The summer of Love” and “Flower Power”.
The social, Political and musical changes that started to simmer in 1965 continued to escalate in 1966. The war in Viet Nam was one of the driving forces. On March 26 over 200,000 protested gathered around the world in anti US demonstrations. They blamed the US government and President Johnson for heating things up. Even in England, normally a solid alley, demonstrators storm the US Embassy.
By the end of the year over 500,000 American troops were in Viet Nam. It wasn’t just the protesters at that point that began to question why we were taking sides in a civil war. The heavyweight champion of the world in boxing, Muhammad Ali, surprised everyone by declaring he would not accept the draft notice because he was against the war. Many others followed and draft dodging became accepted by many. On May 16th, the same day that BLONDE ON BLONDE by Bob Dylan was released, Martin Luther King came out against the war giving a passionate speech at a huge rally. Anti- war songs increased in popularity-especially with the college age youth.
As documented in parts one and two of “The Summer of Love” feature, much of what propelled the social and political movement was the anti-war movement that was spearheaded by the youth of America. By 1967 the majority of the general population agreed that this was not a war that the U.S. should be involved in and sided with the resistance movement to the war.
Perhaps buoyed by the rise in that sentiment, many young Americans were moving on to other issues in an effort to change not only the politics of this country, but the social mores as well. Those in this new movement were given a name. They were called “Hippies”. Like their counterparts, the “Beatniks” of the 50’s, the “Hippies” found a mecca in San Francisco. It has been estimated that well over 100,000 young people (many of them runaways), came seeking free love, free food and free drugs. The Haight-Asbury district of the city soon became overwhelmed. The “Flower Power” movement was in full bloom.
This guy was walking towards me wearing a T shirt sporting the name of the long defunct Tower Records. Ordinarily I don’t approach strangers with questions about their attire, but since a large portion of my huge CD and record collection (many, many thousands) was purchased at Tower Records I had to ask: “Where did you get that t-shirt?”
The answer was half expected. I had only ever seen these shirts on employees of Tower Records. Indeed, he had worked for Tower Records from 1977 until 1984 in both Los Angeles and San Francisco. During that time he served in several capacities including ordering, stocking merchandizing and selling records. Additionally his management responsibilities extended to management and activities coordination for store employees. If that weren’t enough, he did trouble shooting, bookkeeping, as well as research and public relations. Such were long days at Tower records.
It started with a phone call from Steve Popovich. Steve wanted to know if it was alright for him to bring a sample of his new project to my office so he could get my opinion. Whenever Steve asked for an appointment for you to hear a new record, you were hard pressed to say no.
He was one of the top record promotors in the country. In an almost Hollywood movie style career, he started out in the Columbia Records warehouse checking inventory in 1962. Within ten years Clive Davis made him the youngest vice president of promotions at Columbia Records. As such, he helped to launch the careers of countless stars. A small sample of those he promoted were: Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Earth, Wind & Fire, Santana, Janis Joplin, Chicago, Simon & Garfunkel, and Boz Scaggs. Later he moved over to a sub label of Columbia, Epic Records, and helped launch the careers of: Boston, Cheap Trick and Jaco Pastorious.
There were many forms of music that made an impact on the Classic Rockers. The rivers of rock flowed with bits of country that had its origin in the traditional music of the British Isles. European Classical music had a smaller tributary, but was still a big influence. The main source feeding the river came from the musical cousins, Jazz and Blues. Of the two, Blues was by far the biggest source.
Just ask any classic rocker what had the biggest impact on their music and you will get Blues as an answer more often than not. Listen to groups like Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Cream, The Allman Brothers, Ten Years After and The Jimi Hendrix Experience, etc. and you can hear the Blues just jump out at you. There are several other bands — The Beatles, The Jefferson Airplane, The Doors, The Who or Chicago — where it may not be so easily to sort out the Blues in their music... but it is there.
If nothing else, John Mayall will be remembered for being one of the best talent scouts in Rock history. John Mayall’s life would make for an interesting story for another day.
For now, here’s the short list of some of the great players that played with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers: Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, Jon Mark, Johnny Almond (these two had as successful a career as Mark Almond), Harvey Mandell, Larry Taylor (both still part of Canned Heat), Mick Taylor, Aynsley Dunbar (who went on to form his own band before joining Frank Zappa and then Journey) and Andy Fraser (Free).
Another in a series of 45 RPM stories.
There was a major cloud hanging over The Rolling Stones as they prepared to record SOME GIRLS their first studio album in two years in 1978. In February of the previous year Keith Richards was arrested on some serious drug charges in Canada. There was more than a good chance he would have to do some jail time.
Richards reacted by writing a song that was originally entitled “Rotten Roll”. Part of the inspiration for the song was the death of Gram Parsons. In his autobiography Keith wrote a great deal about Gram and his influence on The rolling Stones during their so-called “Country Rock” period. The two influenced each other. Gram did a great cover of the song “Wild Horses”. In 1973 Parsons died of a drug overdose. It is thought that Keith had his death in mind when he wrote the first verse of the song. “Another goodbye another good friend” is a line that stands out.
You can’t imagine how surprised I was that day. While walking home from school I saw a man coming up Vine Street towards Washington Avenue that I recognized right away. Since I was going in the opposite direction, Carl Perkins was walking right past me. He was the very first rock star that I ever saw. I let him pass without saying a word. I had no idea what he was doing walking the streets of Scranton, PA.
I did know that he had a huge hit with one of the best Rock ‘n’ Roll records of all time. “Blue Suede Shoes” was such a big hit that it went to at least top two in all the charts at the same time. It could very well be the only song to top the pop, R & B and Country charts at the same time!
Recently the yearly Rock ‘n’ Roll show that is part of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia lunch was held at the Bala Golf Club. The performances featured Philadelphia stars from the past. While all the acts were still in pretty good form, one act stood out. It wasn’t just that they musically entertaining, but unlike the other Philly acts, they were originally from Los Angeles. The Rip Chords made their mark in R & R history by playing beach and hot rod music with five chart hits like “Hey Little Cobra”.
The original group broke up back in 1965. This new incarnation has been around since the 90’s and while it features two of the members (including Richie Rotkin) from the 60’s, it primarily a new and younger group. Their music is still a throwback to the days of hot rods and beach parties. It was a time when groups like Jan & Dean and The Beach Boys gave the rest of America the Hollywood version of what it was like living on the beaches of California. Check out The Rip Chords official website. http://www.theripchords.net/.
Every Spring there’s new life and energy. Nowhere is there more a feeling of hope and optimism than in baseball. Every team starts out on their long season with a 0-0 record. Of course by May many of the teams are already pretty much out of contention, but there are no thoughts of that on opening day.
This year, the expectations of Phillies fans are the highest they have been in a very long time. They are pumped because some of the young players who are starting to produce will be joined by some outstanding new veteran newcomers. But can they sing?
In Philadelphia Phillies Fever was running high in 1975. A very young team had posted a 80-82 record the year before and they were looking to move up from their third place finish. The heart of that team was Dave “yes we can” Cash, Larry Bowa, Mike Schmidt, Gary Maddox and Greg Luzinski. They went on to post a second place finish with a 86 -76 record in ’75.
The births of Jazz and Rock ran along similar but different paths. They both were born and raised in the South. They both have an element of the Blues and African influences. Passion and rhythm run deep in both genres.
Structurally, however, they are far from the same. The accents and rhythms are different in both. While both use the bass and drums as the heartbeat, Jazz uses different time signatures. Traditionally Jazz puts horns or the piano in the lead while Rock uses the guitar primarily and occasionally the horn or piano as the lead instrument.
So how is it that so many rockers, especially in the 60’s and 70’s were so influenced by Jazz? Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana and Duane Allman were all guitarist who loved Jazz. Their instrument, the guitar, was largely a background or rhythm instrument for many years. There were very few exceptions like Django Reinhardt in the 30’s.