The Brand vs The Cover Band with the rights

THE BRAND vs THE COVER BAND with THE RIGHTS

Recently I spotted an ad for tickets to see BLOOD SWEAT & TEARS featuring BO BICE(of AMERICAN IDOL fame) at a local venue and wondered…BLOOD SWEAT & TEARS? Where’s Al Kooper ? Where’s David Clayton Thomas? Not being historical naive of BS&T I knew what happened to Al, and the tenure(s) of DCT but WHO ARE THESE GUYS calling the band BS&T?

This tidbit is taken directly from the band’s website:

Will Blood, Sweat & Tears have any of the original members?

“Not a chance,” says Colomby, who last performed with BS&T in 1976. I think of this band like baseball’s Yankees. “When you’re at a Yankee game you’re not going to see Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle or Lou Gehrig. What you do come to expect is a team of top-notch players upholding a tradition of winning. That’s the Yankee legacy. It what people expect from BS&T as well… brilliant musicians, singers, songs and arrangements.

Yo Bobby,who are you talking to? Not me….I understand the makings of a baseball franchise with the aging of players,the changing rosters,the numerous trades, etc, but to think of music your way leaves me a bit confused. If I go see the Stones,The Zombies, or some other band from that era then I expect the performers on stage to be a true representation of that band. Yes, as you say, “the musicians, singers, songs and arrangements”. But at least give me a band with a few notable members, preferably the singer, maybe the premier guitarist, etc.

Tommy James and The Shondells, hell Tommy better be there and singing. Alice Cooper…Alice is up on the stage. But this “brand” shit has got me confused.An ad for TEN YEARS AFTER at BB KING’S in NYC showed a photo of the band which included CHICK CHURCHELL, RIC LEE and two non-descript gentleman posing for LEO LYONS and ALVIN LEE. Hey folks, ALVIN LEE is dead and LEO is retired so we are left with the drummer and keyboardist, both who do not sing. The show is listed as “TEN YEARS AFTER- The Name Remains The Same”. Needless to say I did not go.

I remember a few years back when Butch Trucks was steering the ship known as THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND, he stated that he could foresee a time when a group of musicians, none an original member/shareholder of the namesake, would hit the road as THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND and to paraphrase what Butch said “play like The DUKE ELLINGTON ORCHESTRA would without Duke, you know just the music of…” .

Maybe I’m mistaken but I wouldn’t pay a dime to see BS&T with Bo or the ALLMAN BROTHERS without GREGG or THE ZOMBIES with ROD ARGENT or COLIN BLUNSTONE.

Now in Australian another phenomena is occurring with a band known as THE LITTLE RIVER BAND. Currently on tour is a conglomerate of musicians calling themselves LRB, none an original member, while the originals are suing to get their name back and the originals are forbidden to tour as LRB because the manager “owns the brand”. WTF? Another one which gets my goat is Mike Love as THE BEACH BOYS. Okay, I’ll give you he was/is an original member and sang a few notable tunes.

So I offer the following musical band member ratio: You need a portion of the “notable sound” to represent the band. TYA without ALVIN LEE is not a true representation of the band… If you are self-titled, hence, CROSBY,STILLS,NASH and YOUNG, then you NEED them all.Imagine STEPHEN STILLS next tour billed as CROSBY STILLS and NASH with only STILLS up there, nah.Or JIM MESSINA touring as BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD.

BS&T had 8 original members for the first album. After a few left newer members joined in, totaling nine (9) for the second album which won the GRAMMY for “Album of the Year” over ABBEY ROAD. David Clayton Thomas was the new lead singer at that moment in time but was not the leader of the band as drummer BOBBY COLUMBY took over the reins. Bobby quit performing with the band in 1976 and is listed as “owner” of the band as it continues to tour world wide without a single original member being present. Sorta like BEATLEMANIA, a “true recreation of The Fab Four”. Geez.

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VINYL, JUST VINYL FROM NOW ON

Vinyl, just vinyl from now on

Oh, vinyl records why did I leave you? I question myself every single time I place the stylus down. First, I weaned off vinyl for a short affair with cassettes in the late sixties. Cassettes, you know that plastic do-hickey which had to be constantly rewound if not played all the way through. And then you could never find that one song, the one which had to be located in the middle of the tape somewhere on side 1. Yet in 1968 I was convinced by the head honchos from BASF at Dubbings Electronics that cassettes would destroy the 8 track tape AND vinyl recordings industries. Cassettes were the wave of the future or so they thought. Hey, we at DUBBINGS made one million cassettes of THE BEATLES (White album) for shipment the same day as the vinyl was to be released. So it was about that time that a slight wink was given to cassettes, an every so slight wink.

Yes, I still bought vinyl records by the armful. Every Saturday mornings would be spent scouring the record racks of the local record stores. My vinyl collection soon hit the thousands. Everything imaginable was there, everything except Opera. Folk, jazz, blues, Americana, rock, hard rock, metal, Beatles, Stones, picture discs, colored vinyl disks, collectibles, cut-outs, you name it I bought it, all safely stored on aluminum shelving, in alphabetical order for easy retrieval.

It was an impressive sight to behold until the storm, one of those great hurricanes. It wasn’t so much the storm wind as it was the electric going out and the water slowly rising in my basement a few days later. With no electric my pumps would not pump. First it was only a few spots of water, then an inch, then more. We scurried around moving as many boxes as fast as we could. I concentrated on the bottom shelves of recordings….The Zappas, XTC, Yardbirds, etc. Not for any truer value or sentiment, I just thought my collection would be safe the next level of shelving up.

Then it occurred. We heard the creaking, the collapsing of one shelf, which was attached to another, and then the third. Records falling, crashing and splashing into the water below. I knew from that sound that most would be lost, to which they were.My BOSE speakers… done, my AudioTechnica turntable …done, my Marantz…all done.

It took weeks to dry out the basement, records included. Most were trashed. A mold expert company was called in to “cure” the environment, to “scan” the walls, etc. The “professional” advised that I should store what I had left, about 500 records and all my cassettes, in another space and wait until a “rainy day” to go through the boxes.Insurance covered nothing.

At that point I became a CD collector and sent most of my music to “the cloud”. But something was missing. I knew what it was but felt I could not enter that zone again. My mistress, vinyl, was awaiting in the dark. I avoided it as long as I could. Then one day, on an app I had on my iPhone, I saw that by me giving up smoking cigarettes I had saved over $1000.00. Hmmmm, what to do with that money. All my bills were paid and this was “rainy day” money. Its time.

After purchasing new stereo equipment complete with a new turntable I hit those stored boxes. A record cleaning device was purchased, new inner sleeves, new plastic outer sleeves, and new shelving set up. Funny how as I was cleaning the records I noticed how they were still in alphabetical order.

Today is the day I completed the task of restoring what was left of my vinyl collection. Took a few weeks cleaning, drying, relabeling but I did it. AND to celebrate I bought some NEW 180 gram virgin vinyl records, notice plural as in records. So I say, “Honey, I’m home” and this time to stay.

THE HEARTBREAKERS NOT THE HEARTBREAKERS

THE HEARTBREAKERS NOT THE HEARTBREAKERS

Circa 1980 Johnny Thunders reunites with his mates Jerry Nolan or Ty Stix (drums) depending on which night, Billy Rath or some other guy on bass depending on which venue, and the ever present WALTER LURE, a story unto himself, to play a few local dates in and around NEW YORK CITY as THE HEARTBREAKERS, a name which they used since 1976.

Having seen them numerous times at MAX’S KANSAS CITY, IRVING PLAZA, The PEP LOUNGE and lesser known venues in the NYC area it came as a shock to see an ad advertising THE HEARTBREAKERS on a Spring 1980 Saturday night at MY FATHER’S PLACE in the quaint Long Island village of Roslyn, New York. Johnny was coming out of the City to visit The Tunnel people, as many Long Islanders were called when they visited clubs in Manhattan.

Recently I had surgery to repair a torn wrist so I wearing a shoulder sling and taking a few pain killing meds. I took an extra one when I arrived at the show, to avoid any pain if I got bumped into. (If you believe that I have a bridge to sell you) Alcohol was also consumed by our group. During one of my trips to the bar area I met Johnny Thunders who was seated at a rear table. He called me over asking about my injury and inquiring if the doctors recommended any meds. Laughing I told him that the pills were already working and I had none to spare.He smiled.

Back at our table, now with waitress service and the place starting to fill up, I noticed a table of about ten folks seated behind us. Young men with Izod golf shirts and young women dressed up a bit. Not the leather and lace attire usually seen at Max’s but hey, we are on Long Island. Due to the close proximity of the seating arrangement I overheard one guy say how much he loved Tom Petty and wonder how good his band would be without him. Bells went off in my head. These folks were expecting to see THE HEARTBREAKERS not THE HEARTBREAKERS. The dilemma is whether or not to slip them a hint that they might be a bit confused when this band of HEARTBREAKERS hit the stage. Not to mince words I told the speaker.

The dude was confused as was those in his crowd. So he posed the question to me: Should they stay or should they go? Laughingly I said I can’t answer that but be advised we are in for a long evening as JT and his HEARTBREAKERS are notoriously late. The guy got up seeking management. In a few moments they all vanished.

Johnny Thunders and his THE HEARTBREAKERS were late, very, very late and mostly, except Walter Lure, quite intoxicated. The set was amazing as always, that is, amazing that it occurred, amazing that Johnny could remain standing and amazing that we all had another great story to tell. God Bless THE HEARTBREAKERS, which ever one you choose.

ONE OUT OF EVERY 40 SONGS IS A TOM PETTY TUNE…

ONE OUT OF EVERY 40 SONGS IS A TOM TUNE

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers is a strange anomaly in the music business.The band was hitting the scene out of Gainesville, Florida as our great nation was celebrating The Bi-Centennial with 1976 being a year in flux, musically.  Check the BILLBOARD album charts and see how we the record buying public were all over the place: Chicago, Earth Wind and Fire, Bob Dylan’s DESIRE, Eagles Greatest Hits (71-76), Led Zeppelin’s PRESENCE, Wings,The Stones, FRAMPTON COMES ALIVE, FLEETWOOD MAC and Stevie Wonder’s amazing SONGS IN THE KEY OF LIVE. Who in their right mind would want to challenge that line up. Hey, I was enjoying shows by TODD RUNDREN who was morphing into UTOPIA at the time, Frank Zappa, Bowie, and The Stones of course.

Then 1977 has only two albums that control the charts for most of the year, HOTEL CALIFORNIA and Fleetwood Mac’s RUMOURS. 1978 was also stagnate in chart movement with RUMOURS continuing its long run at the top followed by two soundtracks SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER and GREASE. Billy Joel ends the year with his 52nd STREET.

So, How does TP and The Heartbreakers get into the mix?

Kudos to Sasha Frere-Jones for her insightful VILLAGE VOICE piece of October 3, 2017 describing the radio audience that TOM PETTY walked into circa 1977-1980. Her article helped me further understand the music business/radio dynamics of that time.

This period was one of a changing environment in radio. Within months stations started the labeling of artists, categories which did not exist before. And Program Directors were pigeon holing artists as well as attempting to define their specific audience’s tastes.  At this date we also witness the demise of free form radio hosts, my radio idols at the time, those willing to play anything and everything unconditionally. The pre Classic Rock format is slowing developing as stations were searching for identities, attempting to capture listeners by their tastes and grabbing the almighty advertising dollars.

 

Into this radio scene, albeit a confusing one, (1977) AMERICAN GIRL is released, a recording lost in the crossfire of the emerging “punk” rock and what Program Directors now defined as “rock”. How does one define this recording or better yet, WHY define it?

For me AMERICAN GIRL was a great record upon release, kinda catchy as they say and today it is still is a great listen. That Byrds Beatles genre which we were missing is somehow captured in  3 minutes and thirty five seconds: The twanging guitars, words that grab your attention. Quite a difference from RUMOURS, no disrespect intended, but hey, this AMERICAN GIRL record was different.

NY radio at this time, again in my opinion for my listening taste and again kudos to Sasha Frere-Jones for reminding me, had only two major players left.WPIX and WNEW. The PIX PENTHOUSE PARTY with Meg Griffin was a delight introducing newer music to us, not the standard Eagles or Frampton. Here at 101 FM we heard Talking Heads, The Clash, Elvis and Elvis Costello as well as the arrival of The B-52’s.

WNEW hitched its wagon to Springsteen (all day-everyday), Pink Floyd soon to all be labeled CLASSIC ROCK.

1979 we get DAMN THE TORPEDOES and Refugee which is another game changer.

So the question is: What’s your point?

According to data accumulated by FiveThirtyEight, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are the fifth biggest classic-rock group in the country, responsible for one out of every forty songs you hear on the radio.

That’s the point, TOM PETTY AND THE HEARTBREAKERS helped change the sounds which emulate out of that device Marconi made so many years ago.

Next up: TOM PETTY and THE HEARTBREAKERS versus THE HEARTBREAKERS

DAISY DUKES AND COWBOY BOOTS

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Tom Petty died the other day in his house in Malibu, a long way in time and space from his origin in Gainesville Florida .Well actually he had succumbed to cardiac arrest in his  Californian home but pronounced dead the next day, October 2 in a hospital. We the public were still reeling from the tragedy the day before in Las Vegas where a gun man assassinated 59 of our concert going brethren. Then the other confusing news, Tom died, then he was placed on life support, ultimately it was reported Tom Petty left us, physically.

As typically done when a recording artist of some renown passes the radio stations play a few of his/her/ their hits. Even the 11 0’clock news plays a “going to commercial break” with a sound bite of the musician’s work. Record sales go through the roof, as noted in Tom’s case by VVN MUSIC NEWS reporting of AMAZON’S TOP SELLING ALBUMS by VETERAN ARTISTS listing 14 of the top 20 belonging to Tom solo, Heartbreakers,and/or Traveling Wilburys, and better yet, of the Top Ten Tom has the Top 9 spots only to be bested at 10 to Shania Twain’s new release.

After the reports on the shooting in Las Vegas and the reports on Tom Petty’s passing I was thinking about both incidents and the 60 folks (59+1) who passed away in a short period of time. Some were smiling , surrounded by friends, family and fellow concert audience members, the daisy dukes and cowboy boots crowd before a few seconds later tragedy struck for no apparent reason. One can not fathom how or why but it puts a fear in my heart. Those poor souls silenced.

Then Tom Petty dies.

A few nights later SNL at it’s 10PM re-run spot played the November 10, 1979 show starring BUCK HENRY and featuring “musical guests” Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers performing “Refugee” and “Don’t Do Me Like That”. I sit in front of the screen silently, but with a slight smile, nodding, yeah, Tom.

The 11 O’Clock nightly news is over and it’s time for SNL. Me, I’m expecting ALEC BALDWIN as #45 throwing rolls of paper towels into the audience. Nope, not tonight America. Jason Aldean, the performer who graced the stage when the gunman hit Las Vegas was the cold opener of Sat Night Live this week and after a heart wrenching intro he led the band with Tom Petty’s I WON’T BACK DOWN. Again, I sat at the screen silently but without a smile. God Bless Us All.

SUMMER OF LOVE @ 50

 

“If you’re going to San Francisco,be sure to wear some flowers in your hair…If you’re going to San Francisco, Summertime will be a love-in there”

So sang SCOTT McKENZIE, a true one hit wonder but what a hit it was. This so called “anthem” arrived on the airwaves May 13, 1967, and was used as an invitation “across the nation” to publicize the upcoming “charity” concerts baptized as THE MONTEREY INTERNATIONAL POP FESTIVAL June 16 to June 18, 1967. This 3 day event was organized by PAPA JOHN PHILLIPS who incidentally wrote the aforementioned tune, LOU ADLER who produced the tune, along with a host of others who planned this weekend showcase as a way to sanctify “rock” music, similar to the way the Monterey Jazz Festivals gave legitimacy to that genre.All proceeds would be given to charity. Artists were expected to play a 40 minute set without a fee, however their flights, accommodations, etc, would all be first class.

The song becomes an instant radio hit ,#4 on the BILLBOARD charts, and while estimates vary, thousands celebrate rock music that weekend in a fair grounds 120 miles south of San Francisco. Yet, the tune transcended its purpose. The imagery of the song encouraged thousands of listeners to attend the party which would become THE SUMMER OF LOVE in San Francisco.

HOW DO WE GET THERE? Well, not directional or travel arrangements wise but rather how did this LOVE thing happen?

The BEAT poets of NORTH BEACH, SAN FRANCISCO could be considered the fore fathers of the movement with their non-conformist attitudes while rejecting materialistic values.

Then there was the celebration entitled the HUMAN BE-IN at Golden Gate Park in January of 67, an idea of MICHAEL BOWEN the avant-garde artist and co-founder of THE ORACLE, a premier “underground” newspaper which announced the event. This Be-In inspired  the play HAIR: The American Tribal Love -Rock Musical by Rado and Ragni. Also, TIMOTHY LEARY asked the 30,000 attendees to “turn on,tune in,drop out”. 

The mainstream media picked up the story, highlighting Tim Leary, the drugs (LSD and mushrooms), the clothing and the music. These photos and images were shown on the nightly news. TIME magazine ran a cover story on THE HIPPIES and even CBS NEWS had a special report. This influx of “flower children” arrived to the 25 square block area of San Francisco with the cross streets , the intersection of it all HAIGHT-ASHBURY.

With psychedelic music and drugs prevalent, one could only predict that the future of THE HAIGHT would not be so rosy or happy. Homelessness, drug abuse, poverty became rampant. The BEE GEES even wrote a song, MASSACHUSETTS, in response to what was happening in SAN FRANCISCO, a ditty about someone who lost the vision, the hope, and was homesick.

Yet, the SUMMER OF LOVE despite its misgivings gave us a great soundtrack for that time and for years to come: THE WHO, JIMI HENDRIX, BIG BROTHER and THE HOLDING COMPANY, COUNTRY JOE and THE FISH,THE ELECTRIC FLAG,QUICKSILVER MESSENGER SERVICE,STEVE MILLER,MOBY GRAPE,HUGH MASEKELA,THE BYRDS,LAURA NYRO,JEFFERSON AIRPLANE,BOOKER T and THE MG’s,OTIS REDDING, THE BLUES PROJECT,BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD and the organizers of Monterey Pop THE MAMAS & THE PAPAS.

THE WHO:Fillmore East, June 6,1969

48 Years ago today:

THE WHO, JUNE 6,1969: FILLMORE EAST

My obsession with seeing/hearing LIVE MUSIC began by the time I was 12 years old but grew in leaps and bounds at age 16 when I found out how easy it was to obtain tickets for a LED ZEPPELIN show at FILLMORE EAST. The day the Zep tixs arrived in my SASE, I immediately ordered two seats for CHUCK BERRY and ALBERT KING, a Friday night early show, June 6, 1969. I was especially looking forward to hearing Albert King as I wore out his LIVE WIRE BLUES POWER album that spring. To my joy the tickets arrived in record time. I was “in the house”. During an intermission at the Zeppelin show I scouted where I would be seated for the Albert King show, fourth row aisle seat on the left. Too cool, really nice sight lines. Then it happened. At the Led Zeppelin show, Bill Graham announced a few future shows and had a special announcement. An additional act would be added to the Albert King Chuck Berry bill, headlining that show would now be…. THE WHO. Oh my… I was ecstatic…But How?

 

Actually, The Who had played the Fillmore East only two weeks prior to the Led Zeppelin show, when during their performance a fire occurred in the adjoining building . A Fire Marshall, not in uniform, attempted to evacuate the premises when Pete Townshend  The Who’s guitarist got into an altercation with the  “undercover” official. Townshend thinking that this guy was a nut job hit him and an arrest of Pete Townshend abruptly ended the show. So now this show, the one I had two tickets for, was labeled as THE TRIUMPHANT RETURN OF THE WHO.

Their album the “rock opera” TOMMY was released a few short days(May23) before this rescheduled performance and the songs were already in heavy rotation on the FM radio.

There I sat four rows back from Albert King, he dressed to the nines with a dark suit, white shirt, and a tie while playing a short but sweet set on his Flying V guitar,  BORN UNDER A BAD SIGN, PERSONAL MANAGER,AS THE YEARS GO PASSING BY and STORMY MONDAY.  I was amazed.

Chuck Berry was up next doing what I found out years later was his traditional set list, nothing too outstanding except seeing him doing his duck walk. Chuck closed with MY DING A LING a really stupid sing along which I found embarrassing. Chuck was gone and forgotten by me almost that quickly.

THE WHO on the other hand was fantastic. I was in awe the entire time, mouth opened kind of awe. The sheer power of the band along with the visual presence. Daltry, dressed in fringe was swinging his microphone, Townshend windmilling on the guitar, Entwhistle had magical fingers running up and down the bass, and then Keith Moon on the kit, a show within a show. Amazing. CAN’T EXPLAIN ,FORTUNE TELLER,New TOMMY stuff, SUMMERTIME BLUES, MAGIC BUS, needless to say my very limited concert experiences just had a new threshold to beat and that would be… THE WHO. Live music to me became a real education and an obsession.

LED ZEPPELIN-MAY 30,1969@FILLMORE EAST

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LED ZEPPELIN at FILLMORE EAST: MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND MAY 30,1969

For those who only know of the power and popularity of Led Zeppelin of it’s latter days, let me take you back to before the very first album hit the stands.

Jimmy Page was one of the “three”, the triumvirate of rock guitarist gods who moseyed through a British band of some renown named THE YARDBIRDS. This band, legend states took their name from Charlie YARDBIRD Parker, was somewhat known in the USA, but much more popular in their homeland of Great Britain. Without giving the long history of the Yardbirds let say they got residency at CRAWDADDY when the spot was vacated by THE ROLLING STONES, a band on the move. Eric Clapton was the YARDBIRDS guitarist who as time moved on, after hit followed by another hit, became uncomfortable with the band veering far away from it’s blues roots by heading into a pop direction. Clapton leaves and suggest Jimmy Page take his spot. Page, who was the “go to studio guitarist” at the time, didn’t want to vacate that profitable role, so PAGE suggested JEFF BECK who took the gig.

With BECK’s influence the YARDBIRDS moved toward a psychedelic route with fuzz tones, feedback, and overall guitar virtuosity. By 1966 JEFF BECK was voted Melody Maker’s GUITARIST OF THE YEAR.When the bass player drops out of the band  JIMMY PAGE steps in that role for a spell. When a new bassist is recruited PAGE stays on playing guitar which offers a BECK/PAGE dual guitar attack approach. Beck gets sick, misses a few gigs, ultimately leaves the band to Page.With the lead singer Keith Relf’s alcoholism and the band not having any more hits, as well as with the rise of bands like CREAM and JIMI HENDRIX, soon the Yardbirds disappeared, leaving Jimmy Page with the name. To fulfill  some contractual commitments ,with a new manager PETER GRANT on board, the band hits the road as THE NEW YARDBIRDS.

Page had recruited TERRY REID as vocalist but he, with a new MICKIE MOST contract, could not leave. Reid suggested a friend, ROBERT PLANT who brought along his drummer friend JOHN BONHAM . Page called his studio buddy JOHN PAUL JONES for bass and keyboards and after a short tour of Scandinavia, the NEW YARDBIRDS hit the studio to record what would become LED ZEPPELIN’s debut.

The album is released January 12,1969 and some of the tunes hit the New York FM airwaves after the band’s now legendary performance as the opening act for IRON BUTTERFLY at FILLMORE EAST January 31 and February 1, 1969, this being Led Zeppelin’s first US tour.Legend has it, but I have not verified it, that after LED ZEPPELIN played their set the boys in Butterfly decided to just do one song, their hit IN A GADDA DA VIDA, an FM staple  at the time. The crowd cheered for more Led Zep so the British foursome hit the stage again to close out the night.

That leads me to May 30, 1969. A Friday holiday weekend night with me at FILLMORE EAST with a five dollar ticket awaiting to see LED ZEPPELIN in their first FILLMORE EAST headlining show. The underbill was WOODY HERMAN and His THUNDERING HERD, and DELANEY BONNIE AND FRIENDS. Too cool. The Friday early show which according to some who attended the other three shows, the set list I saw was a shortened one but impressive nonetheless.

From the opening howl of I CAN’T QUIT YOU, through the violin bow smacking strings on DAZED AND CONFUSED, acoustic WHITE SUMMER/BLACK MOUNTAIN SIDE, followed by BABE,I’M GONNA LEAVE YOU, YOU SHOOK ME, and the closer HOW MANY MORE TIMES, Led Zeppelin owned this audience. The encore was short, yet loud, COMMUNICATION BREAKDOWN. The performance bar was now set for this 17 year old youngster on his musical journey.

NEXT TIME: THE WHO/CHUCK BERRY/ALBERT KING

GREGG ALLMAN (1947-2017)

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My journey as a fan of the Allman Brothers Band began on a cold March night in 1971. Awaiting the arrival of a friend I stood among a throng of people on the corner of Second Avenue and Sixth Street. In my pocket I was holding two tickets for the Johnny Winter late show at Fillmore East. It was a few minutes before eight, and my friend was late as we were to have met an hour ago to get a bite to eat. As the early show ticker holders slowly moved into the theatre, a guy whom I never saw before walked over to me and asked if I wanted his spare ticket for the early show. With my friend nowhere in sight, and it being extremely cold, I pocketed the ticket, but remained outside in hopes of seeing my friend show up.

At 8:30, now extremely cold, and with no crowd left outside, I entered the building. Ticket torn in half by the usher, and with program in my hand I walked to the upper balcony where I would sit. The opening act, The Elvin Bishop Group, was ending and the intermission began.

Walls of amplifiers, a Hammond B-3 organ and TWO sets of drums were taking their place on the stage. While a black and white cartoon played over the big screen located directly behind the equipment, I could hear the sounds of guitars tuning up. The house lights still dimmed and with the cartoon now over, a single spotlight hit the stage and a simple announcement was made, “Ladies and gentlemen, The Allman Brothers Band”. Not the headliners for that night but after playing for a bit over an hour, you could have fooled me.These guys were good.

After the first show ended, I finally met up with my friend. It was about 11:15 p.m. and he was a bit angry that I had taking the opportunity to see the first show leaving him alone and out in the cold. After he calmed down, we went to get something to eat. Sitting in the pizza shop across the street I told him about this incredible band I just saw. While at first he did not believe me as he was there to see the headliner Johnny Winter,  he changed his allegiance by 6:30 a.m. when we left the late show.

The late show started very late at about midnight. The first act ELVIN BISHOP GROUP  had to cut their sey short due to a bomb scare. The entire audience had to vacate the venue and then reenter a bit later. By 2 a.m. we were back in our seats entertained by a very short set from Johnny Winter. I was confused. I thought, due to the time and the scare, the “Brothers” would be cancelled. Thankfully I was wrong.

Same cartoon as the early show intermission, same equipment being set up, and then “thanks for waiting, we will make it up to those still here”. It was a different voice. No spotlight, and now a “1, 2, 3…” Statesboro Blues. The sun up when we left the theatre, with two ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND shows under my belt, knowing there would be more to come.

Here I am 46 years later, now with 47 ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND shows under my belt, and I hear the news that BROTHER GREGG ALLMAN passed away today. As my wife said, “You knew it was coming, he was very sick”. Yes, I knew but I was not ready, not ready to never hearing the live version of his bluesy vocals. Not ready to never see him behind a Hammond B-3, not ready to end the run. As he sang so many nights  “the road goes on forever”…but not tonight.

Rest in Peace, my Brother, thanks for all the great nights I watched you grace the stages.Thanks for all the wonderful music.Just….THANKS.

All prayers and thoughts go out to your family and friends at this time.