“It was a private hotel…for the care of persons afflicted with mental and nervous derangements, near the Great South Bay and Ocean; 32 miles from New York.” so ran an advertisement in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Aug. 15, 1884.
Truth be told THE HOTEL (Long Island Home Hotel for Nervous Invalids) and two other adjoining facilities (Louden Hall, and Brunswick Home) located in AMITYVILLE were licensed institutions for the “care of idiotic and feeble-minded persons.” and arranged by classifications of the inmates “who represent every grade of idiocy and imbecility.”
After researching these facilities one realizes the significance of the early days of the LONG ISLAND RAILROAD to the growth of the communities along the line. The LIRR sponsored twice a day shuttles, carriages drawn by two horses taking guests from the Amityville station to the facilities.The RR also did the same for the ARGYLE HOTEL, a legitimate hotel in Babylon. Further investigation finds studies by the New York State Commission on Lunacy that many of these “guests” to the LI HOME HOTEL were seeking a break from the “rat race”, checking in for what they thought would be a short stay but found… “Last thing I remember, I was running for the door, I had to find the passage back to the place I was before… “Relax”, said the night man, “We are programmed to receive, you can check out any time you like, But you can never leave”Welcome to the Hotel California, such a lovely place such a lovely place…
TICKETS TORN IN HALF: The KinKs (1969-1995)/ Ray Davies (1995-2010)
October 18, 1969 Fillmore East
February 21,1970 Fillmore East (cancelled)
March 26, 1971 SUNY@ Farmingdale
November 21,1971 Carnegie Hall
March 3,1972 Carnegie Hall
November 16,1972 Felt Forum
March 31,1973 St.John’s
April 6,1974 Felt Forum
November 28,1975 The Beacon
February 1, 1977 Palladium
August 1,1995 Westbury Music Fair
October 19,1995 Academy on 43rd
February 17,1996 WestBeth Theatre
November 8,1996 WestBeth Theatre
October 20,1997 Westbury Music Fair
February 27,2010 Westbury Music Fair
October 18, 1969 Fillmore East
The KinKs was one of my favorite bands from the early British Invasion days. They had not played live in the USA in quite some time so this show scheduled for October 18 at FILLMORE EAST was a “must see” for me. From the very first time I heard YOU REALLY GOT ME on my small transistor radio I knew these guys were different. So when the opportunity to see The KinKs live became a reality I jumped at the chance. Four, balcony seats left side of stage, not too shabby a view and with a great sound system.
The Bonzo Dog Band opened the show. While the crowd waited for their “hit” URBAN SPACEMAN, we were treated to some of the best comedy, music, and visuals I had ever seen (in my limited experience). Just sheer joy, I laughed hysterically throughout their entire set. The singer pretending he was urinating on the light show, the silly hats they wore, the large eyeglasses, and hundreds of props. They were GREAT. Needless to say I purchased two Bonzo albums the next week.Then the amazing KinKs were introduced. Even though it was a short set and one without their pianist who as Ray Davies said, “cracked his skull” so Ray played piano for a few tunes. Overall, it was a fabulous set. Upon leaving the show I remember thinking, ahhh The KinKs and The Who, two of my favorite bands, all I need is The Stones and The Beatles. BTW SPIRIT, the headliners, hit the stage after The Kinks and were decent but Randy California is NOT Raymond Douglas Davies by any stretch of the imagination. So tonight it was The KinKs.
February 21,1970 Fillmore East (cancelled)
February in New York is always cold and this night February 21,1970 was extremely, extra cold, temperature wise and personally. Tickets were purchased for Savoy Brown, The KinKs, Renaissance, The Voices of East Harlem all at FILLMORE EAST. At the Fillmore The KinKs cancelled out at the last minute making my already sour mood worse.
March 26, 1971 SUNY@ Farmingdale
Back in college The Concert Committee was in full force. We got POCO signed up for SPRING BREAK and I petitioned as hard as I could to follow that success up with The KinKs. Finally, the contract was signed and the committee discussed who would announce the band to the audience. My name was offered and I was excited but the name I put out, Ronny, another Kinks fan, was the guy chosen. WOW, we had the KinKs coming to my school and when it was all said and done that show was an experience like no other. I got to greet the band upon arrival and showed the dressing (locker) room to them. They were drinking bottles of gin as part of their pre show preparation. By the time the band hit the show they were intoxicated and intoxicating, amazingly good. I hid a tape recorder in the speaker pod and pressed “record” just as the band hit the stage. After the show I helped to put Ray Davies into a car while his brother already in that car argued that he would not ride in the same car as Ray, so Dave had to be escorted to the second car while the piano player had to be moved to Ray’s car. Ray was now out of his car stumbling around the parking lot. Finally, safely in their cars, away they went. I headed to the bar around the corner with some other Committee members to celebrate our success.
Opened with “Till The End of The Day”, “Mr. Wonderful”,”Sunny Afternoon” “All Day and All of the Night”,”You Really Got Me”, Brainwashed”. A few nights later, the fiasco of The KinKs at Philharmonic Hall occurred.
November 21,1971 Carnegie Hall
November 21: KinKs@ Carnegie Hall w/ Lindisfarne, a show of shows. I took my new partner to meet all the boys and girls from Brooklyn seated in the three “dress” tiers boxes for which we had tickets.A few cocktails at the bar, a few more at our seats, and we were ready to go.”Top Of The Pops” opens the show, “Brainwashed”,Waterloo Sunset” Victoria” “Acute Schizophrenia…””Big Sky” and the obligatory “YRGM” and “ADAAOTN”.
March 3,1972 Carnegie Hall
March 3:The KinKs at Carnegie Hall-We couldn’t get enough at the November show so here we go again (about 20 of us) seated once again in the dress circle box. Drinks at the bar, drinks at the seats…”opened with the same song as November “Top Of The Pops”, “You’re Looking Fine” Muswell Hillbillies””Apeman” “2oth Century Man””Skin and Bones”…and all recorded for the “Everbody’s In Show Biz” release. This was a rabid fan base, with paper plates(song requests), a beer duel with Ray during “Alcohol”, and just a supreme appreciation for the artistry known as The KinKs.
November 16,1972 Felt Forum
Nov 16 The KinKs w/Mom’s Apple Pie @ FELT FORUM The KinKs open with VICTORIA and are still with THE MIKE COTTON SOUND for a few numbers. There is a decent live bootleg (not mine) of this night as the show was recorded for official release.
March 31,1973 St.John’s
March 31: KinKs/ Argent @ St. John’s Univ.ARGENT “Hold your head up WOMAN” as Rod Argent recently instructed us as to the proper words to his song were amazing as an opening act should be and then The KinKs complete with paper plates a flying. Got some great shots that night also.
April 6,1974 Felt Forum
Apr6: KinKs @ FELT FORUM This was THE PRESERVATION ACT 1&2 Tour with Mike Cotton Sound, Miss Pamela, etc. As much as I love the KinKs this is my least favorite time seeing them in concert and on record. Boring.
NOV 28: KinKs @ BEACON This was one of those SCHOOL BOYS IN DISGRACE shows that I hated. YUCK.The Cockney Rebels opened. Double yuck.
February 1, 1977 Palladium
FEBRUARY 1: THE KINKS (8th time)/ SUTHERLAND BROS & QUIVER @ Palladium . The KinKs are still one of my favs even after the SCHOOLBOYS, the 1 and 2, etc so I needed to see The SLEEPWALKER Tour .The boys opened with ONE OF THE SURVIVORS and closed with VICTORIA, yeah, my Kinda KinKs.
August 1,1995 Westbury Music Fair It’s been 18 years since my last KinKs outing…
Aug 1: THE KinKs @ Westbury
The Kinks Return–All Day and All of The Night
Thousands Rock at Music Fair
By Anthony Bosco
An eclectic group of more than 2,000 came out Monday night to see the Kinks perform the first of two shows at the Westbury Music fair. The band added another performance following a quick sellout of their opening night in the metropolitan area.The band, led by brother Ray and Dave Davies in full force, reunited with former keyboardist Ian Gibbons for a quick tour of the eastern United States that stopped at Long Island this week. It was the first time in two years that the band from England has visited the New York City area.
“The Kinks have just arrived,” said band leader and songwriter Ray, 51, after playing several solo acoustic numbers to kick off the show. “A Well Respected Man,” “Dedicated Follower of Fashion,” and “Stop Your Sobbing” were among the acoustic tunes Davies played before the other four band members joined him on stage. The house lights dimmed and the Kinks ripped through a raucous version of “Do It Again” from the band’s 1984 album Word of Mouth. Several hard rocking Kinks singles followed, including “Low Budget,” “A Gallon of Gas” and “Sleepwalker.” But this was not a night of hard rock. At their most poignant, the Kinks easily slipped in and out of some of their most touching tunes.Reading an impromptu set list from paper plates that littered the stage, Davies led the Kinks in moving versions of “Dead End Street,” “Rock-N-Roll Fantasy” and “Waterloo Sunset.”
With fans ranging in age from pre-teen to post-middle age, Davies and his cohorts reached all with their trademark hits, including “Come Dancing,” “You Really Got Me,” “All Day and All of the Night” and “Lola.”Dressed in a Union Jack suit, Davies said, “Who knows, this might be the last time?” before leading the band in the English anthem “Victoria.” The set was short, lasting no more than an hour and 45 minutes, but the Kinks, as always, didn’t let their core group of fans down, nearly spanning a career of more than 30 years in just one night.
The Kinks, formed in 1964 by the brothers Davies, were part of the first British invasion of the Beatles, Rolling Stones and the Dave Clark Five. A series of commercial failures and disappointing record sales has not forced the band into retirement but into another phase of its musical history.A new acoustic CD called To the Bone has already been released in Europe and is slated for release here in the states in December or January. Davies has also recently released his first book, an autobiographical yarn called X-Ray, available in Europe and slated to be released on this side of the Atlantic in the fall.
The Kinks are scheduled to be back in New York City next month for a one-night show in Manhattan.
RAY DAVIES(Storyteller-Solo-The 88)
October 19,1995 Academy on 43rd
Oct 19: RAY DAVIES Storyteller #1 The Academy on 43rd
RAY DAVIES NYC ? Unplugged?(author unknown)
There was much to enthuse over. Davies ran through most of the Kinks’ hits in unplugged mode; himself on acoustic guitar with one guitarist accompanying him. This nudged the audience into realising what fine, durable songs they are: 30 years on, not one sounds dated or immature. We have long known that Waterloo Sunset, Days and Lola are classics; this treatment conferred equal status on minor hits such as Autumn Almanac and Dead End Street. Between classics , Davies read excerpts from his autobiographical X-Ray and told anecdotes: upstaging the Beatles on a package tour, growing up in Muswell Hill with younger brother Dave and older sisters. Mum frowned on the girls playing Billy Eckstine’s That Old Black Magic: the words were too sexy. Davies then sang it, a cappella, with a cheeky smile. “Mum was right,” he said finally: If you could bottle his charm you’d be rich
February 17,1996:Ray Davies: Storyteller@ WestBeth Theatre
Feb 17: RAY DAVIES @ Westbeth Theatre(program) NYC
POP REVIEW;The Life of Ray Davies Through Word and Song
By NEIL STRAUSS FEB. 16, 1996
In “20th-Century Man: An Evening With Ray Davies,” on Wednesday night at a Westbeth Theater Center decorated to look like an English pub, Mr. Davies of the Kinks chronicled his life in song and spoken word. His account, based on his recent autobiography, “X-Ray” (Overlook Press), took him from normal child to misfit teen-ager to upstart musician to exploited songwriter to wistful old-timer. There was one stage, however, missing from this chronology: the glory years of a star. For Mr. Davies, a life in the limelight was derailed in the late 60’s when he was temporarily banned from touring America and embroiled in a series of lawsuits over music publishing.
Despite a career spent in the shadows of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the Who, Mr. Davies developed into one of pop’s greatest songwriters. This he demonstrated by performing acoustic versions of “Waterloo Sunset,” “A Well-Respected Man,” “Victoria,” “Dedicated Follower of Fashion,” “Lola” and “The Village Green Preservation Society,” occasionally updating a lyric or two.
For a songwriter of Mr. Davies’s stature, Wednesday’s show (with Pete Mathison accompanying him on guitar) was surprisingly intimate, honest and well-staged. Sometimes his stories put the audience into a bygone era, as when he played his first hit, “You Really Got Me,” once after conjuring up the song’s recording session and a second time after speaking about its stressful but successful performance when the band was an opening act for a show by a cocky Beatles.
At other times, Mr. Davies offered new ways of listening to his songs, as when he interpreted “Two Sisters,” about the tension between a sibling who has settled into domesticity and another who lives a luxurious single life, as an analogy for his own jealousy of the freedom of his brother and band mate, Dave.
When old songs didn’t fit into Mr. Davies’s narration, he played new ones. Though these numbers depicted specific life experiences — a crush on an art-school student, a kinship with a neighborhood hunchback — Mr. Davies always stepped back in the choruses to make a larger point about pretension (in the first song) or how there is more to a person than can be seen by the eye or an X-ray (in the second). These songs, written in his late-60’s style, showed that Mr. Davies’s powers as a lyricist have hardly waned and that his voice was still capable of hitting the sweet high notes that can turn detailed observation into perfect pop.
The performance continues through March 3 at the Westbeth Theater, 151 Bank Street, in the West Village.
November 8,1996 Ray Davies: Storyteller@WestBeth Theatre (see above- second time)
October 20,1997:Ray Davies@ Westbury Music Fair(no notes) w/ Joe Bonamassa
February 27,2010: Ray Davies and The 88@Westbury Music Fair
The 88 open the show, Ray does his acoustic thing and then rewards the crowd with a stunning, KinKs hits filled electric set with THE 88 backing. Wow, what a way to head out of the place.
Over the last few years I saw DAVE DAVIES twice in small clubs with pick up bands. Not as exciting as a Ray show and not nearly enough to be called a KinKs show, even though he did some KinKs hits. The shows coincided with the release of his autobiography KINK and his album “Bug”.
On The Shelf: IN SEARCH OF THE LOST CHORD 1967 AND THE HIPPIE IDEA- DANNY GOLDBERG
Wow, name after name after…you get the idea. This document takes the reader behind the scenes for a comprehensive look at 1967 and as the title suggests, “the hippie idea”. The time line alone, for me, is the gem. Reagan is governor of California, the first Human Be-IN takes place, The first SUPER BOWL, Surrealistic Pillow is released, the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour hits the air. The Fugs’ ED SANDERS is featured on the cover of LIFE in an issue about HAPPENINGS. “Penny Lane/ Strawberry Fields Forever” is released.Adam Clayton Powell, Jr is denied a seat in Congress, as LBJ announces the draft lottery, and on and on. Names, dates, places, all fully researched, many sources quoted. Needless to say the history buff in me loved every word. All 280 pages.
(A review) 1967 was the year of the release of the Beatles’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and of debut albums from the Doors, the Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin, among many others. 1967 was also the year of the Summer of Love; the year that millions of now-illegal LSD tabs flooded America; Muhammad Ali was convicted of avoiding the draft; Martin Luther King Jr. publicly opposed the war in Vietnam; Stokely Carmichael championed Black Power; Israel won the Six-Day War; and Che Guevara was murdered. It was the year that hundreds of thousands of protesters vainly attempted to levitate the Pentagon. It was the year the word “hippie” peaked and died, and the Yippies were born.
ON THE SHELF: SMALL TOWN TALK- BOB DYLAN,THE BAND, VAN MORRISON, JANIS JOPLIN, JIMI HENDRIX AND FRIENDS IN THE WILD YEARS OF WOODSTOCK by Barney Hoskyns, DaCapo Press
Yesterday’s post was JUDAS! so I thought this a decent follow up to the exploits of one, Robert Zimmerman.
“There’s a veil of secrecy around all this stuff,” the folk singer Artie Traum told me when I first visited Woodstock in the summer of 1991. “And for no particular reason, because there’s really nothing to hide. I don’t think there are any skeletons that aren’t already public. But one of the whole things that Dylan started was ‘Don’t talk to anybody.” (preface)
This book is small town name dropping at its best. ALBERT GROSSMAN being the star attraction, arriving as his way to escape the hustle and bustle that he brought upon himself,a way to escape those that despised him, he settles on a spread in upstate New York, BEARSVILLE, and consequently an entire army of like minded folks (pun intended) arrive a few years later, BOB DYLAN being the most famous.
They are all here in and around WOODSTOCK , the small town as the title suggest, some only visited, while others settled or “escaped” from drugs, money, spouses, or just for the serenity of what the surrounding had to offer.
MY LITTLE KNOWN FUN FACT THAT I LOVE: Gate Of Horn co-owner LES BROWN who with ALBERT GROOMSMAN opened that Chicago club in 1956:“Les Brown loathed him so much that, after Grossman’s death, he made a special trip to urinate on his grave” (p32)
ON THE SHELF: JUDAS ! : FROM FOREST HILLS TO THE FREE TRADE HALL, A HISTORICAL VIEW OF THE BIG BOO by Clinton Heylin.(2016) Everything I read about folkies going electric occur mostly after two events; one being the Beatles performing on Ed Sullivan and second was Bob Dylan going electric in 1965, hence the subtitle THE BIG BOO. If you listen to the song CREQUE ALLEY by the Mamas and Papas you’ll hear a biography of the various musicians mostly folkies who happened to be “passing the hat” in the clubs in and around Greenwich Village New York during the early 1960s. After the Beatles on SULLIVAN a few of the solo acts, mostly songwriter types, reformed as duets or small combos to the horror of the folk aficionado and turned “electric”. Also,Barry McGuire having a #1 hit with “The Eve of Destruction” turned a few heads.
CLINTON HEYLIN, the British author is a renown DYLANOLOGIST and with some recently uncovered acetates of DYLAN’S soundboards from the now fabled 1966 tour, Heylin offers some new insights. This book is seriously researched so the faint of heart, the casual reader might drop off or skip many pages due to the books repetitiveness, that is, “Where they booing?”, “Who was booing?” “What was Bob actually thinking that night?”, etc, etc.
Our journey starts in NEWPORT FOLK FEST 1965 (the first boo), slowly morphs into THE HAWKS (a band playing so loud it hurt) joining him for FOREST HILLS 66 show and then the author takes us the reader throughout the United States, Europe, and back. Just the newspaper reports alone ,which are extensively referred to throughout the book, helped me the reader understand the depth of what was occurring. This book follows the entire tour of Bob Dylan on his historic electric adventure, not skipping one date during 1965/66, a tour which changed the face of music.
“Folk-rock, I’ve never said that word” Bob Dylan.
MY LITTLE KNOWN FUN FACT THAT I LOVE: ‘Judas, the most hated name in human history! If you think you’ve been called a bad name, try to work your way out from under that. Yeah, and for what? For playing an electric guitar?’ – Bob Dylan
1965: The Most Revolutionary Year In Music by Andrew Grant Jackson
What a cover! The psychedelic colors, the swirling letters, the flowers, all immediately caught my eye. And the reviews weren’t too shabby either. So I purchased a copy for my Kindle Fire and away I go on a journey back to 1965. The author, Andrew Grant Jackson, makes a bold hypothesis’ surmising that 1965 IS the “most revolutionary year in music”. Debatable, to say the least but interesting as hell.
Jackson starts off with a 1965 “SELECTED” TIME LINE (the quotation marks are mine), one which helped to pique my interest and excitement about how the author will prove his theory. He then sections his book off to four seasons (not the singing group fronted by Frankie Valli); Winter , Spring, Summer, and the better choice than fall, Autumn. Each section title tends to lead the reader to believe the author will offer a chronological approach as a proof. While filling each section’s subsequent chapters with anecdotal information, Billboard like charting data, followed by a political climate overview of that time, the author offered his proof thematically, using a musician(s) as the anchor to each chapter. This model of presentation sometimes confused me,as I then needed to “post-reference” his said reference AKA I needed to backtrack too many times.
The overall reading experience DID spark some nostalgia in me, having me traveling back in time to that ever present AM radio and/or the small screened black and white television the kind that needed time to warm up) circa 1965. However, Andrew Grant Jackson’s thesis that 1965 was the “most revolutionary” year in music, while exciting and interesting, was not proven to me.
ON THE SHELF: FOLLOW THE MUSIC: THE LIFE AND HIGH TIMES OF ELECTRA RECORDS IN THE GREAT YEARS OF AMERICAN POP CULTURE by Jac Holzman and Gavan Daws (First Media 2014) This book is written in oral history style following topics while basically remaining in a chronological fashion. It starts off in Greenwich Village 1950’s as most folk rock tales do. JAC speaks about his love for early folk music, and jazz, and how by age 19 he was thrust head first in the recording business. This was a time for him, as an independent, he was only concerned with the long player (lp) as opposed to the singles market, totally unique in the business. Through out the book we meet folks who were involved with THE DOORS, LOVE, JUDY COLLINS, CARLY SIMON, PHIL OCHS,TIM BUCKLEY and others who help develop the artists on ELEKTRA RECORDS and how this small independent company became a giant in the business.
MY LITTLE KNOWN FUN FACT THAT I LOVE: While not being able to get The Lovin’ Spoonful for $10,000, JAC HOLZMAN went to LA, found LOVE and signed the band the next day for $5000 CASH, which Arthur Lee demanded. The next day Arthur Lee arrives with a gold Mercedes 300 which he paid $4500.00, he also bought a harmonica, he gave the other band members $100.00 each. What a sport.
ON THE SHELF: My British Invasion: The Inside Story on The Yardbirds, et.al. by Harold Bronson
“My British Invasion: The Inside Story on The Yardbirds,The Dave Clark 5, Manfred Mann, Herman’s Hermits, The Hollies, The Troggs, The Kinks, The Zombies and More”, now that is certainly a mouthful. With too much time on my hands I find it necessary to read so I read a lot. This book is written by Harold Bronson and he being a cofounder of Rhino Records. As the title states it does give the inside story on all those bands and so much more. And again as the title states it’s Mr. Bronson’s experiences with these British artists.Overall, it’s a pretty good read if you are fond of the 60’s artists. Also, there is a great section on his favorite songs by these artists.
In the next few endeavors I’ll investigate some of the technological advances that became popular, devices which brought music to the masses. In short, a brief history of early radio and television, with a juke box or two throw in. But first, let’s hit the burlesque house.
Recently I read a book THE COMEDIANS: DRUNKS, THIEVES, SCOUNDRELS AND THE HISTORY OF AMERICAN COMEDY by Kliph Nesteroff (2015). The title just about said it all. It was a fascinating read, not laugh out loud funny as one might assume by the designation THE COMEDIANS, but rather insightful in discussing drunks, thieves and scoundrels one can and will find in the entertainment business.
Like most who document the past I base some of my musings from the experiences and facts of others. What I have drawn out for this episode comes mostly from one source. Kudos to Mr. Nesteroff as I include his thesis, at times very comical, as his study draws a direct line to the proliferation of the mass appeal of radio and then later television as our primary source of ENTERTAINMENT and HOW the “business” of ENTERTAINMENT grew from back rooms and thievery, up to arena rock and its thievery… Money, money, money being the common thread .
Reading this book I was particularly interested in how comedians, singers, vaudevillians, etc, developed from traveling showmen playing local stages, moving through the bars, theaters, dance halls, vaudeville and burlesque houses, all which were found across our expanding landscape and how with their eminent demise in popularity these arts morphed over the years to be later found on the airwaves, most specially, first the radio.
These entertainers travels were not easy by any means so the love of their craft (or money) must have been foremost. There are many social and economic factors, with a bit of politics thrown in for good measure, and of course THIEVERY which could cause the weaker of entertainers to disappear, making the “game” a survival of the fittest… or the smartest or… the most cunning.
Let’s start with the comedians. Usually these funny men were showcased in vaudevillians acts, mostly as the emcee. These comedians needed to change their act on a regular basis in order to survive. How else could you do a few shows in the same town if you had the same “bit” as the last time. Most comedians stole bits from others and had the gaul to present their new “act” as their imprint.
Circa 1920’s there were about 5000 vaudeville theaters (bars or dance halls not included) scattered around the good ole US of A…500 seaters were considered small…1000 seats as medium sized, with large hall being in the 1500-5000 range.
An example of the money a comedian could earn, if you happened to be a “star” (this being an era before press agents and big advertisements) say a star like Jack Benny, Mr. Benny made $750 for a week of shows in the late 1920’s and doubled to $1500.00 a week by 1930. That my friend is and was no small change for telling a few jokes in the depression era.
Most halls were owned by a handful of moguls with the most important theater of the 1920’s being also the most desired of booking, The Palace Theatre, Broadway and 47th Street in Manhattan, New York City. From 1913 through 1929, the Palace was known as the world’s foremost vaudeville stage, hosting headliners like Ethel Barrymore (1913), Will Rogers (1916), Lillian Russell (1918), and the Marx Brothers (1920), along with performers like Sarah Bernhardt, Bob Hope, Mae West, Fred Astaire, and Bing Crosby. This prime booking lent credence to the famous adage”to play the Palace” which signified that that act officially made it in show business.
Even though I said Mr. Benny was raking in the dough some sensed that the “artists” were getting ripped off and abused by the “moguls”. Fred Allen in 1916 started the NVA (National Vaudeville Artists) Union. Allen later became a huge radio artist as well as a television icon. Look him up if you don’t recall how influential he was to the development of the arts.
Let me jump to the DEATH OF VAUDEVILLE as stated so eloquently by Fred Allen: (1956) Vaudeville is dead. The acrobats, the animal acts, the dancers, the singers and the old-time comedians have taken their final bows and disappeared into the wings of obscurity. For 50 years vaudeville was the popular entertainment of the masses. Nomadic tribes of nondescript players roamed the land. The vaudeville actor was part gypsy and part suitcase. With his brash manner, flashy clothes, capes and cane, and accompanied by his gaudy womenfolk, the vaudevillian brought happiness and excitement to the communities he visited. Vaudeville was more a matter of style than of material. It was not so much what the two- and three-a-day favorites said and did, as how they said and did it. For 50 years vaudeville’s minstrels found their way into all lands, preaching their gospel of merriment and song, and rousing the rest of the world to laughter and to tears. A few diehards who knew and enjoyed vaudeville hover over their television sets, hoping for a miracle. They believe this electronic device is a modern oxygen tent that in some mysterious way can revive vaudeville and return its colorful performers of yesteryear to the current scene. The optimism of these day and night dreamers is wasted. Their vigils are futile. Vaudeville is dead. Period.
What or who killed vaudeville? Easily said, the Crash of 1929 and a Constitutional Amendment, #18 AKA Prohibition, seriously maimed if it didn’t outright kill vaudeville. The Wall Street Crash of 1929, known as “Black Tuesday” (October 29), actually began the previous Thursday on October 24 (Black Thursday). That incident was the most devastating stock market crash in the history of the United States, one causing massive lay offs followed by years of extremely hard times.
Radio audiences grew as a result of those unemployed folks having lost their disposable income therefore not having the cash or in some cases the desire to leave home for their entertainment. Sensing the loss of income the moguls of the entertainment business first campaigned to inform radio owners of the“THE DANGERS OF RADIO” as these inventions “caused hearing loss and house fires”. Nonsense, fake news to save their investment.
In this time of economic blackness investors turned away from theaters, specially the costly vaudeville shows and moved their money over to the airways, that is the radio. Even The Palace closed. Prohibition on the other hand was a nationwide constitutional ban (1920-1933) on the production, importation, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages. For those 13 years that Prohibition was “officially” in effect the ability to enforce it was limited by corrupt and complacent politicians who overlooked illicit manufacturing and smuggling.
Booze during PROHIBITION despite being illegal was an extremely profitable commodity. The New York “Speakeasies” of the Roaring 20 as did the dance halls found throughout America continue to pour illegal “hooch.”
The 18th Amendment was finally repealed in 1933 by ratification of the 21st Amendment, the only instance in United States history that a constitutional amendment was repealed in its entirety.
During a Q and A session directly after CHASING TRANE, a superb documentary on the life and times of JOHN COLTRANE, one of the audience members asked the film maker where did some of the graphics used in the movie, and especially the poster for the movie, come from. The answer was direct and simple: “From a children’s book, SPIRIT SEEKER ,written by a wonderful author Gary Golio who utilized the amazing art work of a guy out of New Jersey named RUDY GUTIERREZ”.
The very next day I searched for the book and lo and behold found it available on line. BINGO, I ordered two. The package arrived today and I can honestly say this purchase of two is well worth the money spent. The story chronicles the life of Coltrane from his humble, religious upbringing, through the deaths of his father and grandfather, to the time where he first picked up and instrument, and ultimately the musical leaps that occurred throughout his short career. The reason for two books ordered…THE PERFECT GIFT.
Mr. Gutierrez’s artwork is as stated “amazing” and somewhat breathtaking. I’m looking forward to sitting down with my grandchildren, putting on COLTRANE’S GIANT STEPS, and reading to them THE MUSICAL JOURNEY of JOHN COLTRANE.