The song that put Stephen Stills and his band, Buffalo Springfield on that map was inspired by the now almost-forgotten Sunset Strip riots of 1966.
By the mid-sixties, L.A.’s Sunset Strip had become the nucleus for the emerging rock & roll nightclub scene. The area was attracting large numbers of teenagers, many of whom simply loitered around the street, not really patronizing any of the clubs.
Local business leaders, not pleased to have so many young people using the Strip as a hangout enacted a 10 p.m. curfew. Resistance to the curfew was almost immediate. A local radio station called for a peaceful rally at one of the clubs, Pandora’s Box (appropriately named, as it turned out), to peacefully protest the curfew. The rally was anything but peaceful. It turned into a riot with kids smashing store windows and car windshields and the police smashing the protesters.
These nightly riots stretched on for weeks, capturing national attention. American International Pictures, always quick to capitalize on anything they thought their teenage drive-in audience wanted to see, even made a quickie picture about the phenomenon called (what else?) Riot on Sunset Strip.
Stills, whose band was part of that emerging scene, thought the whole thing was absurd. The kids were hopelessly outmuscled by the police. So he wrote “For What It’s Worth” as a way to urge his peer group to chill out and think before they got themselves really hurt.
The song became a huge success when it was released on Atco Records in 1967. It’s notable also as one of the few hit records whose title is never mentioned in the lyrics of the song.
Think you have all of Paul McCartney’s solo albums? You don’t if you don’t have this one, the oddest of all Beatles oddities – Thrillington.
During the recording of McCartney’s second solo effort, Ram, he decided to record a second version of the LP as lounge music instrumentals!
Paul and Linda also decided to form a new rock band, which became known as Wings. That proved to take up most of Paul’s time, so the instrumental album sat on the shelf for 6 years.
When he finally decided to release it in April of 1977, he created a totally fictious persona, British socialite Percy Thrillington as the album’s creator. He then took out ads in various British music papers chronicling the comings and goings of Thrillington.
The album came out and was virtually ignored by all but a small handful of fans who saw through the deception.
McCartney finally confessed to the hoax during an interview in 1989. By that time, the album was already out of print.
A few years later, McCartney also confessed to being Clint Harrigan, who had written the liner notes for both Thrillington and the Wings’ album Wild Life.
Thrillington came back into print with CD releases on 1995, 2004 and as a special 2nd disc with a deluxe re-release of Ram in 2012.
The album is scheduled to be re-issued on CD, vinyl, and limited edition colored vinyl on the 18th of this month (May, 2018)!
So if you ever wondered what the Ram album would sound like if it had been recorded by Les Brown and His Band of Renown, wonder no longer!
Do you know this woman?
She inspired two of rock’s all-time great story songs.
Her name is Clare MacIntyre. She was working as a counsellor for the Fresh Air Fund camp during the summer of 1960. A fellow camp counsellor was a young lad named Harry Chapin.
A summer romance blossomed between the two. That in turn developed into a serious two-year relationship.
Clare’s father was the head of Eastern Airlines and Harry was just some kid from the wrong side of the tracks. Malcolm MacIntyre did not approve of Harry and the relationship eventually ran its course.
Fast forward to a Friday in 1969. Harry is out of work and applies for a hack license so he can drive a taxi (you can see where this story is leading). Now, from their relationship, Harry knows that Clare never took the subways. Her father insisted that she always take a cab. So, all that weekend in 1969, Harry is wondering, “What happens if Clare gets in my taxi? What would I say?” Come Monday, Harry is so bothered by that possibility that he never reports to his job at the cab company.
Instead, Harry writes a song about the situation he has imagined. He changes the locale from Manhattan to San Francisco and changes Clare’s name to “Sue.”
And that’s how Harry Chapin’s “Taxi” came to be written.
Years later, Chapin wrote a second great song about the couple, aptly titled “Sequel.”
How much of the second song is based on fact? You’ll have to decide for yourself as Harry never commented on it.
Farrah Fawcett sold a lot of posters in the 1970’s, but did you know she also inspired a multi-million dollar song?
It’s true! Her offhand comment inspired composer Jim Weatherly to write “Midnight Train to Georgia.”
But Farrah never said anything about a plane or Georgia.
The year was 1970 and Farrah was the girlfriend of TV’s Six Million-Dollar Man, Lee Major. She was at Majors’ home one afternoon when the phone rang. Lee was busy, so Fawcett answered the call. It was Majors’ friend, songwriter Jim Weatherly. As the two chatted, Farrah remarked that she was leaving that night to take the midnight plane to Houston.
After they hung up, the phrase haunted Weatherly. In less than an hour, Weatherly had his song. He recorded it for his very first solo album, but “Midnight Plane to Houston” received very little attention.
Shortly thereafter, another record producer called asking if he could use the song for an album he was working on with R&B singer Cissy Houston. When Weatherly said okay, the producer asked if he could make a slight change in the song’s title. He wanted to change to location of the song to Georgia to avoid singer Houston’s name also appearing in the song’s title. He also wanted to change the plane to a train, thinking that mode of transportation would resonated better with the R&B audience.
The changes were made, but Cissy’s version also garnered little airplay.
Finally, in 1973, Gladys Knights & the Pips decided to record an entire album of Weatherly’s songs. One of the tunes they picked was “Midnight Train to Georgia.” It roared to the top of both the pop and the R&B charts and became one of Knight’s signature songs.
Or How a Black Man from South Africa Was Screwed Out of Several Million Dollars
“A-wimowack, a-wimoweh A-wimowack, a-wimoweh…”
Everybody knows that hook from the song “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” The song was a staple of the folk music circuit of the late 50’s and early 60’s. In 1962, it went to #1 in the U.S. when the Tokens recorded a more rock-oriented version. Robert John took it to #3 in 1972 and the British ensemble Tight Fit had a #1 hit in the UK in 1982. It was featured in the Disney movie The Lion King and even played a prominent part in an episode of the popular sitcom Friends.
Few know who really wrote the song or the long journey it made to become the classic we know today.
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
There has been so much written about this album since its first release 50 years ago. And now, so much more being written about it, thanks to the 50th Anniversary Deluxe Re-Issue. There’s little we could add. You either still own this album, owned it back in the day or know many, many people who own it.
So instead of posting an appreciation of it, here are 5 things you might not know about Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts club Band:
One of the Greatest Albums You May Have Never Heard Yet
It had been one of the biggest and most public break-ups in rock history.
During a summer appearance at Knott’s Berry Farm in Southern California, Phil Everly smashed his guitar and stormed off-stage, leaving his brother Don to finish the set.
And that was the end of the Everly Brothers.
Or so it seemed. But in the years that followed neither of the brothers could get much of a solo career going. And they were family, after all. Tempers cooled, time passed and in 1983, after a ten-year absence, the Everly Brothers decided to reunite.
At the age of 22 in 1969, Tommy James had a string of 14 TOP 40 hits and was riding high. By 1972 at the age of 25, he was washed up.
What happened to one of the 1960’s most prolific rockers?
In the first place, Tommy James (born Thomas Jackson) hit recording pay dirt almost by accident.
Tommy and his first band, the Shondells, were a local sensation in the Niles, Michigan area. They recorded a Jeff Barry-Ellie Greenwich tune called “Hanky Panky” for a small label owned by Niles DJ Jack Douglas. The record got some local airplay and promptly sank from sight. The Shondells, like most young bands in the mid-sixties, broke up and went their separate ways.
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