Never a Dull Moment 1971 by David Hepworth

This is a good book about music and pop culture in 1971. The author turned 21 in that year and claims it was the best year musically come to age… He is certain it was the year that produced more great music than any other. He makes a compelling case. Many classic rock albums came out that year…to name a few

Who’s Next – The Who
Led Zeppelin IV (ZoSo) – Led Zeppelin
Hunky Dory – David Bowie
What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye
Sticky Fingers – Rolling Stones
Blue – Joni Mitchell
Imagine – John Lennon
At Fillmore East – Allman Brothers
There’s A Riot Going On – Sly and the Family Stone
Tapestry – Carole King

Every month he goes through the politics, movies, televisions shows (or the lack of)
and mostly how rock music grew up. He writes with some detail on Marvin Gaye recording “What’s Going On,” Carole King and Tapestry, Rolling Stones “Sticky Fingers” and etc…

He highlights the events of that year with plenty of his opinion. It is a fun read and it is written from a UK point of view and covers plenty. One thing I will say…He does lack objectivity at times but you can feel his enthusiasm when he writes about being a teenager in that era.

I’m a sucker for books on music especially in that period…so maybe I lack objectivity but I enjoyed it. If you like classic rock music and the pop culture that goes with it…you should enjoy this.

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Glyn Johns: Sound Man

I read this book not knowing what to expect but I did know of Glyn Johns… so many of my albums had his name on it…A name that is known throughout the music industry as a great recording engineer, producer, and mixer. Glyn has worked with huge rock groups such as The Rolling Stones, Beatles, Who, Small Faces, Led Zeppelin, The Band and more.

Glyn is a no-nonsense guy and unlike most of the autobiographies of musicians in that era, he never did drugs and always did his job well. Glyn wanted to be a singer and did make a few records, he covered Rolling Stones Lady Jane,  but he stuck with engineering and gradually became a producer.

Back when Glyn started in the early sixties engineers did not graduate to producing. It was very much a British class system in the music industry. He became the first freelance engineer in the industry because of the clients he attracted. He was one of the first to record the Stones and he began a relationship with them that lasted for years. He knew the Stones because he was really good friends with Ian Stewart and even shared a flat with him.

The Beatles called him to engineer Let It Be and he also helped engineer some of Abbey Road. He worked on Led Zeppelin’s first album. He produced Steve Miller’s first albums and also the first couple of Eagles albums.

This book will be very interesting to classic rock fans. Many anecdotes about the Stones, Beatles, Who and others. Glyn minces no words and has a reputation for saying what is on his mind. He isn’t too technical about recording in the book, he keeps it at a fast enjoyable pace.

He worked on some of the most classic albums ever. The Stones 60’s albums and the classic stretch of albums the Stones released until Black and Blue. He worked on Who’s Next, Quadrophenia, Led Zeppelin, A Nod Is As Good As a Wink… to a Blind Horse, Who Are You, Slowhand, just to name a few.

One interesting thing that happened in 1969. Glyn met Bob Dylan and Dylan told Johns that he would like to make an album with the Beatles and Stones. Glyn went back to England very excited and told Keith Richards and George Harrison and they were all for it. Ringo, Charlie, and Bill said they would do it. John didn’t say no but Mick and Paul said absolutely not…leaves you to wonder what it would have sounded like…

At the bottom of the page, I copied his discography from Wikipedia…it is incredible.

Excerpt from Sound Man about the Stones.

While Keith, Charlie, and Bill drove the band rhythmically, Mick’s energy and intellect drove everything else. I was constantly amazed by his skill as a songwriter and by the extraordinary energy he managed to summon for his vocal performances in the studio.
Both Mick and Keith would take an active part in the mixing process and drove me nuts making me mix a track for hours when I felt I had got it in the first couple of passes. We certainly did not always agree. I guess it would have been even more boring if we had. There were a couple of occasions when finally putting the album together I would play back earlier mixes that I had done on my own, to compare with the one they had chosen after hours of farting around, and in the cold light of day they would agree that mine were better. Equally, there were many occasions when they insisted on me changing a mix quite drastically from the way I heard it, with great effect.
Working with the Stones for all those years certainly had some amazing moments and I am proud to have been associated with them during a period of time when their music was so influential. However, Charlie summed it up perfectly when asked in a recent interview his experience of being in the band for fifty years. He replied, “Ten years of working and forty years of hanging around.”

Excerpt about The Beatles Let It Be

I had been retained originally as an engineer and was quite happy with that, even when I realized that George Martin was not producing. He did come to Twickenham a couple of times to check us out. He had arranged for the gear to be loaned for the recording at Savile Row and turned up on the day we did the filming on the roof, but had nothing to do with the production of the music. At the outset I was quite embarrassed when I realized he was not going to be involved. A couple of days into the project I asked Paul where George Martin was, only to be told that they had decided not to use him. By the time we moved to Savile Row, George, realizing I was in an awkward position, was kind enough to take me to lunch in order to put my mind at rest, saying I was doing a great job, everything was fine, and I was not stepping on his toes in any way. What a gentleman he is.
Having delivered the mixed master of my version of Let It Be, I approached each member of the band separately, asking if I could have a production credit on the album when it was released. I made it quite clear that I was only asking for that and not a royalty. Paul, George, and Ringo had no objection to my request but John was suspicious and could not understand why I was not asking for a royalty. I explained that I felt, because of their stature, the sales of the album would not be affected by my involvement one way or another, so a credit would be a fair settlement for what I had done, as by association it could only be positive for my career in the future. I never got an answer from John.
As it turned out, none of this mattered, as in the end, after the group broke up, John gave the tapes to Phil Spector, who puked all over them, turning the album into the most syrupy load of bullshit I have ever heard. My master tape, perhaps quite rightly, ended up on a shelf in the tape store at EMI. At least my version of the single of “Get Back”/“Don’t Let Me Down” had been released in April 1969.

Below is Glyn’s discography…what a body of work.

Artist Year Album Producer Engineer Mixing
Georgie Fame 1964 Rhythm and Blues at the Flamingo Yes Yes
The Rolling Stones 1965 December’s Children co-eng.Yes co-mix.Yes
The Pretty Things 1965 Get the Picture? co-prod.Yes Yes Yes
The Rolling Stones 1965 Out of Our Heads co-eng.Yes co-mix.Yes
The Rolling Stones 1966 Aftermath co-eng.Yes co-mix.Yes
The Rolling Stones 1966 Got Live if You Want It! Yes Yes
Chris Farlowe 1966 The Art of Chris Farlowe Yes Yes
The Small Faces 1966 Small Faces (Decca) Yes Yes
Chris Farlowe 1966 14 Things to Think About Yes Yes
Twice as Much 1966 Own Up Yes Yes
The Small Faces 1967 From the Beginning Yes Yes
Rolling Stones 1967 Between the Buttons Yes Yes
The Small Faces 1967 Small Faces (Immediate) Yes Yes
The Rolling Stones 1967 Flowers co-eng.Yes co-mix.Yes
The Rolling Stones 1967 Their Satanic Majesties Request Yes Yes
Johnny Hallyday 1967 San Francisco (EP) Yes Yes
The Rolling Stones 1968 Beggars Banquet Yes Yes
The Steve Miller Band 1968 Children of the Future Yes Yes Yes
Twice as Much 1968 That’s All Yes
The Pentangle 1968 The Pentangle Yes Yes
The Move 1968 Something Else from the Move Yes Yes
Spooky Tooth 1968 It’s All About Yes Yes
The Small Faces 1968 Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake Yes Yes
The Steve Miller Band 1968 Sailor Yes Yes Yes
Gerry Temple 1968 Burn Up! Yes
Procol Harum 1968 Shine on Brightly Yes Yes
The Move 1968 The Move Yes Yes
Easybeats 1968 Vigil Yes Yes
Traffic 1968 Traffic Yes Yes
Billy Nichols 1968 Would You Believe Yes Yes
The Steve Miller Band 1969 Brave New World Yes Yes Yes
Family 1969 Family Entertainment Yes Yes Yes
The End 1969 Introspection Yes Yes
The Beatles 1969 Abbey Road Yes
Joe Cocker 1969 Joe Cocker! Yes Yes
Johnny Hallyday 1969 Johnny Hallyday Yes Yes Yes
Led Zeppelin 1969 Led Zeppelin Yes
The Rolling Stones 1969 Let it Bleed Yes Yes
The Steve Miller Band 1969 Your Saving Grace Yes Yes Yes
Lambert and Nuttycombe 1970 At Home Yes Yes
Bob Dylan 1970 Self Portrait co-eng.Yes
The Rolling Stones 1970 Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! Yes Yes Yes
Humble Pie 1970 Humble Pie Yes Yes Yes
Philamore Lincoln 1970 The North Wind Blew South Yes
Billy Preston 1970 That’s the Way God Planned It Yes Yes
Leon Russell 1970 Leon Russell Yes Yes
The Beatles 1970 Let it Be Yes
Joe Cocker 1970 Mad Dogs & Englishmen Yes Yes
Delaney & Bonnie & Friends 1970 On Tour with Eric Clapton Yes
The Move 1970 Shazam Yes Yes
The Band 1970 Stage Fright co-eng.Yes
Spooky Tooth 1970 The Last Puff Yes Yes
McGuinness Flint 1970 McGuinness Flint Yes Yes Yes
The Faces 1971 A Nod Is As Good As a Wink… to a Blind Horse Yes Yes Yes
Boz Scaggs 1971 Boz Scaggs & Band Yes Yes Yes
Ben Sidran 1971 Feel Your Groove Yes Yes
McGuinness Flint 1971 Happy Birthday, Ruthie Baby Yes Yes Yes
Jesse Ed Davis 1971 ¡Jesse Davis! Yes Yes Yes
Leon Russell 1971 Leon Russell and the Shelter People Yes Yes
Boz Scaggs 1971 Moments Yes Yes Yes
Rita Coolidge 1971 Nice Feelin’ Yes
Howlin’ Wolf 1971 The London Howlin’ Wolf Sessions Yes
Humble Pie 1971 Rock On Yes Yes Yes
Graham Nash 1971 Songs for Beginners Yes
The Rolling Stones 1971 Sticky Fingers co-eng.Yes co-mix.Yes
Spooky Tooth 1971 Tobacco Road Yes Yes
The Who 1971 Who’s Next co-prod.Yes Yes Yes
Eagles 1972 Eagles Yes Yes Yes
The Rolling Stones 1972 Exile on Main St. co-eng.Yes co-mix.Yes
Rita Coolidge 1972 The Lady’s Not for Sale Yes Yes Yes
Neil Young 1972 Harvest co-eng.Yes
Nicky Hopkins, Ry Cooder, Mick Jagger, Bill Wyman, and Charlie Watts 1972 Jamming with Edward Yes Yes Yes
Chris Jagger 1973 Chris Jagger Yes
Eagles 1973 Desperado Yes Yes Yes
Eric Clapton 1973 Eric Clapton’s Rainbow Concert Yes
The Faces 1973 Ooh La La Yes Yes Yes
The Who 1973 Quadrophenia co-prod.Yes co-eng.Yes
Ric Grech 1973 The Last Five Years Yes Yes Yes
Paul McCartney and Wings 1973 Red Rose Speedway co-eng.Yes
Gallagher & Lyle 1973 Seeds Yes Yes Yes
The Ozark Mountain Daredevils 1973 The Ozark Mountain Daredevils co-prod.Yes Yes Yes
Gallagher & Lyle 1973 Willie and the Lapdog Yes Yes Yes
The Ozark Mountain Daredevils 1974 It’ll Shine When It Shines co-prod.Yes Yes Yes
The Rolling Stones 1974 It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Yes
Eagles 1974 On the Border co-prod.Yes co-eng.Yes
Gallagher & Lyle 1974 The Last Cowboy Yes Yes Yes
Georgie Fame 1974 Georgie Fame Yes Yes Yes
Fairport Convention 1975 Rising for the Moon Yes Yes Yes
The Who 1975 The Who by Numbers Yes Yes Yes
Andy Fairweather Low 1976 Be Bop ‘n’ Holla Yes Yes Yes
Fools Gold 1976 Fools Gold Yes Yes Yes
Joan Armatrading 1976 Joan Armatrading Yes Yes Yes
Ron Wood & Ronnie Lane 1976 Mahoney’s Last Stand Yes Yes Yes
The Rolling Stones 1976 Black and Blue co-eng.Yes
Buckacre 1976 Moring Comes Yes Yes Yes
The Bernie Leadon—Michael Georgiades Band 1977 Natural Progressions Yes Yes Yes
Pete Townshend & Ronnie Lane 1977 Rough Mix Yes Yes Yes
Joan Armatrading 1977 Show Some Emotion Yes Yes Yes
Eric Clapton 1977 Slowhand Yes Yes Yes
Eric Clapton 1977 Backless Yes Yes Yes
Craig Nuttycombe 1977 It’s Just a Lifetime Yes Yes Yes
Joan Armatrading 1978 To the Limit Yes Yes Yes
Paul Kennerly and various Artists 1978 White Mansions Yes Yes Yes
The Who 1978 Who Are You co-prodYes co-eng.Yes Yes
Mark Benno 1979 Lost in Austin Yes Yes Yes
Joan Armatrading 1979 Steppin’ Out Yes Yes Yes
Live Wire (band) 1979 Pick it UP Yes
Lazy Racer 1980 Formula II Yes Yes Yes
Tim Renwick 1980 Tim Renwick Yes Yes Yes
Paul Kennerly 1980 Legend of Jessie James Yes Yes Yes
Danny Joe Brown 1981 Danny Joe Brown and the Danny Joe Brown Band Yes Yes Yes
Jools Holland 1981 Jools Holland and His Millionaires Yes Yes Yes
Midnight Oil 1981 Place Without a Postcard Yes Yes Yes
Nine Below Zero 1981 Don’t Point Your Finger Yes Yes Yes
Chris de Burgh 1981 Best Moves Yes Yes Yes
The Clash 1982 Combat Rock Yes
The Who 1982 It’s Hard Yes Yes Yes
Local Boys 1983 Moments of Madness Yes Yes Yes
Various artists 1984 ARMS Concert Yes Yes Yes
Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, Albert Lee, 1984 No Introduction Necessary Yes
Téléphone 1984 Un Autre Monde Yes Yes Yes
Bob Dylan 1984 Real Live Yes Yes Yes
Immaculate Fools 1985 Hearts of Fortune Yes
Téléphone 1986 Le Live Yes Yes Yes
Roaring Boys 1986 Roaring Boys Yes Yes Yes
The Big Dish 1986 Swimmer Yes Yes Yes
New Model Army 1986 The Ghost of Cain Yes Yes Yes
Joolz 1987 Hex Yes
Spooky Tooth 1987 Spooky Tooth Yes Yes
Helen Watson 1987 Blue Slipper Yes Yes
Labi Siffre 1987 (Something Inside) So Strong Yes Yes Yes
John Hiatt 1988 Slow Turning Yes Yes
Nancy Griffith 1989 Storms Yes Yes
Green on Red 1989 This Time Around (Green on Red album) Yes Yes
John Hiatt 1990 Stolen Moments Yes Yes
Summerhill 1990 West of Here Yes
Del Shannon 1991 The Liberty Years Yes
Energy Orchard 1992 Stop the Machine Yes Yes
Ethan Johns 1992 Independent Years Yes Yes
David Crosby 1993 Thousand Roads Yes Yes Yes
Crosby, Stills, & Nash 1994 After the Storm Yes Yes Yes
The Subdudes 1994 Annunciation Yes Yes Yes
Jackopierce 1995 Bringing on the Weather Yes
Bruce Cockburn 1994 Dart to the Heart Yes
Joe Satriani 1995 Joe Satriani Yes Yes
The Beatles 1996 Anthology 3 co-eng.Yes
Eric Clapton 1996 Crossroads 2: Live in the Seventies Yes Yes
The Rolling Stones and various artists 1996 The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus Yes Yes
Warm Jets 1997 Future Signs Yes Yes
Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings 1998 Struttin’ Our Stuff Yes
Linda Ronstadt 1998 We Ran Yes Yes
Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings 1999 Anyway the Wind Blows Yes
Emmylou Harris & Linda Ronstadt 1999 Western Wall: The Tucson Sessions Yes Yes Yes
Various artists 1999 Return of the Grievous Angel: A Tribute to Gram Parsons Yes Yes Yes
John Hiatt and various artists 20o2 Disney’s The Country Bears musical dir.
Bruce Cockburn 2005 Speechless Yes
Andy Fairweather Low 2006 Sweet Soulful Music Yes Yes Yes
The Clash 2008 Live at Shea Stadium Yes
Ian McLagan & the Bump Band 2008 Never Say Never Yes+ mastering
Ryan Adams 2011 Ashes & Fire Yes Yes Yes
Ben Waters 2011 Boogie 4 Stu: A Tribute to Ian Stewart Yes
The Rolling Stones 2012 Charlie is My Darling: Ireland 1965 Yes
The Staves 2012 Dead & Born & Grown Up & Live co-prod.Yes Yes Yes
The Rolling Stones 2012 GRRR! Yes
Band of Horses 2012 Mirage Rock Yes Yes Yes
Ethan Johns 2012 If Not Now Then When? Yes
Aaron Neville 2013 My True Story Yes
Patty Griffin 2013 Silver Bell Yes
Stephen Stills 2013 Carry On co-prod.Yes co-eng.Yes co-mixYes
Bob Dylan 2013 Another Self Portrait (1969-1971: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 10) co-eng.Yes
Benmont Tench 2014 You Should Be So Lucky Yes Yes Yes
Ian McLagan & the Bump Band 2014 United States Yes
Joe Satriani 2014 The Complete Studio Recordings Yes Yes
Bruce Cockburn 2014 Rumours of Glory (True North) Yes
David Bowie 2014 Nothing Has Changed co-eng.Yes
The Small Faces 2014 Here Come the Nice: The Immediate Years 1967-1969 Yes
The Small Faces 20.. Greatest Hits: The Immediate Years 1967-1969 Yes
The Faces 2015 You Can Make Me Dance, Sing or Anything: 1970-1975 Yes Yes
Various artists 2015 Truckers, Kickers, Cowboys Angels: The Blissed-Out Birth of Country-Rock , Vol. 7: 1974 Yes Yes Yes
Various artists 2015 Songs: The Very Best of Acoustic – The Collection co-prod.Yes
The Rolling Stones 2015 From the Vault: The Marquee Club Live in 1971 Yes
Paul McCartney 2016 Pure McCartney Yes
Eric Clapton 2016 I Still Do Yes Yes
Eagles 2017 Their Greatest Hits, Vols. 1 & 2 Yes Yes
Jesse Ed Davis 2017 Red Dirt Boogie: The Atco Recordings 1970-1972 Yes

Shell Shocked: My Life with the Turtles

One of the most self-deprecating books I’ve ever read. Howard Kaylan goes through his career with the Turtles who never really took themselves too seriously. They wanted to be the American Beatles…just like every other band at the time but did it with a sense of humor. They were a singles band that had quite a number of top 40 hits. According to Howard, they lucked into most of it. They only wrote a couple of their hits.

Their hits included “Happy Together” #1, “It Aint Me Babe” # 8, “She’d Rather Be With Me” #3, Eleanor #6, “You Showed Me” #6 and many more.

After the Turtles broke up, he and Mark Volman went by the name “Flo and Eddie,” for legal reasons and made a career of unusual rock-comedy albums and developed a following. They immediately began playing with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention and was there when Frank was pushed off the stage at the Rainbow. They were also in the Zappa movie 200 Motels.

After Zappa, they worked as a duo and released a lot of albums for many different labels.  They were more known for their live performances and they were a good opening act. Howard and Mark were columnists, radio hosts, session backup singers, talk show hosts, actors, composers, and anything else to make ends meet. They did the background vocals on Hungry Heart by Bruce Springsteen.

Howard and Mark wrote the Strawberry Shortcake theme and they wrote music for the Care Bears.

Another rock autobiography…big surprise! But unlike some of the others…Howard wasn’t rich and could not live off of royalties or constant touring like many of the other rock stars that have spilled it all recently.  After the breakup, The Turtles could not even tour as the Turtles until later on because of their label. They were broke many times but opportunities would pop up like being radio hosts and would help them make it to the next big thing.

Now they tour on the Happy Together tour with other artists and have been doing it since the eighties off and on.

They ended up owning their name and the master recordings from the 1960s because the label went broke and they were smart enough to get the rights… Howard and Mark were the first to sue rap artists for sampling their material without paying for it. They won and now everyone has to pay to sample anything from another artist. The Turtles were the first big artists with a catalog to sign with Rhino Record and helped the label to take off.

It may be the funniest of all the recent biographies. He ran into a lot of famous people and even made a movie out of meeting the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix in 1967 at the Speakeasy in London called “My Dinner With Jimi.”

It is a funny book with a lot of laughs but you have to scratch your head while reading about Howard making the same mistakes over and over. For Howard, it was drugs, women, marriage, drugs, a girlfriend, divorce, marriage and more drugs…maybe it’s not that much different from the richer stars after all.

I was never a big Turtle fan. I have an account with Audible and this was recommended. Overall I did enjoy it.

Below is an excerpt from the book about meeting The Beatles in 1967 and John Lennon being vicious toward Turtle rhythm guitar player Jim Tucker… Today Jim Tucker denies this ever happened. He said that John didn’t even say a word to any of them so who knows?

Paul said, “I really enjoyed your record.” And then, to me, “Great voice, man. Nice set of pipes.” I was bursting.
Then Lennon. “Yeah, that’s a lovely bit of Flower Power in the middle there with those ba-ba-bas.” And then all three of them sang the ba-ba-bas. And we were all beside ourselves with swollen pride.
“So, where did you learn to sing?” Paul asked me.
“High school choir, I guess. Then we formed the band and started playing local clubs, you know, a little bit of R&B stuff—”
“What kind of R&B stuff.”
“Oh, you know, ‘Money,’ ‘What’d I Say,’ ‘Justine’…”
“‘Justine’ by Don and Dewey? I love that song.”
And then Paul began to sing the Crossfires’ trademark soul song. I joined in on the answers and the chorus. Ringo played spoons on the tabletop while the customers watched and Lennon looked on as if bored to death. When we were done, there was a smattering of applause and Paul said, “That was great. I’d love to do that with my band some day. You sing great.”
“Oh my God, thank you,” I gushed.
“Still, it is a bit sappy on your record there when you sing ‘invest a dime’ with that cry in your voice. A bit light in the loafers, if you ask me.”

“What?” Yeah, I became defensive all right. “We’re just trying to be the American version of you!”
“Touché” said McCartney.
“Well, that’s not bloody likely, is it?” Lennon piped in. His eyes skipped from Turtle to Turtle, checking us out for the first time. “And what do you call that guy over there?” John pointed at Tucko, who was cowering in his wrinkled brown suit, thrilled just to be noticed.
“That’s Jim Tucker, our rhythm guitar player “
“Bad suit, son. And an even worse haircut. Did you tell your barber to give you a Beatle cut? It’s awful, man. You give rhythm players a bad name.”
Tucko, oblivious, stumbled for words. “You’re like a god to me, man. You guys changed my life.”
Much to his credit, Pons tried, in vain, to turn the conversation around. “We just heard Sergeant Pepper and I’ve got to thank you on behalf of the entire world for the greatest album of all time!”
Paul graciously nodded thanks and toasted us with his beverage. But John was not to be denied.
“Tucko, is it? I could have a lot of fun with that name. Let’s see… Tucko Tucko, bo bucko, banana fanna fo fucko…”
Tucker winced and Lennon saw the weakness and went in for the kill.
“There was a boy named Tucko, a very stupid fellow—”
Finally, Jim realized that he was the butt of Lennon’s abuse and could hold back no longer.
“What is your problem, man? You’re supposed to be the Beatles! I fuckin’ loved you guys and you turn out to be assholes.”
Lennon feigned shock and recoiled at the words.
“Tsk, tsk … such language. What would your mum say?”
“She’d say you were a dick, that’s what! Man, was I wrong. You’re a total shit! I’m sorry I ever met you!”
Lennon shook his head slowly, savoring every syllable. “You never did, son. You never did.”
And with that, Jim Tucker walked away from the table, up the stairs, and into a cab. And, following the few British shows we had lined up, Jim flew home and never played music again. The Turtles would continue on as a five-piece band from that time forward. The other guys followed Jim upstairs, and our goodbyes were a lot sadder than our hellos had been.

 

 

Brian Jones: The Making of the Rolling Stones

A biography about Brian Jones who founded the Rolling Stones written by Paul Trynka. This is more of a sympathetic look on Brian than other books I’ve read. Trynka digs deep with meticulous research. He tries to be fair and Brian isn’t always shown as the nicest guy in the world but he also isn’t always the person that Mick and Keith seem to remember when they actually remember him at all.

This book is not just a rehash of the best-known things about Jones and the Stones. Some instances that Stones fans know like the period where Keith ran off with Brian’s girlfriend Anita Pallenberg, we get more information on what happened. He researched Brian’s childhood and adult life thoroughly and you feel like you know the man before the book is over.

This is not only a good book on Brian but also the birth of the Stones. After reading what I’ve read about Brian in past books, I had to wonder to myself, is this author trying to make Brian look better than he was? After reading more I didn’t think so. He interviewed over 100 people for this biography and many of them were either close friends or knew Brian. He was fair about the good and bad.

When you think of Brian Jones you can’t help but think of the way his life ended. Paul Trynka doesn’t miraculously find the definite answer to Brian’s death but he gives you the most recent events that have been uncovered and basic common sense answers to a mystery that probably will never be solved.

The Rolling Stones had three different lead/rhythm guitarists. Brian Jones, Mick Taylor, and Ronnie Wood. I make no secret of loving the Taylor period of the Stones. Saying that I will admit during the Brian Jones era they were more creative and tried different things. He was very important to their sound. Under My Thumb, Paint It Black, No Expectations, The Last Time, and Ruby Tuesday would not have been the same without Brian.

The book deals with the complicated relationship between Brian, Mick, and Keith. George Harrison and Brian Jones became friends and they had a lot in common. They were in a similar situation in their respective bands. The big difference was George had more of a support system than Brian did in his band. John and Paul had a monopoly on the songwriting but they would help George and he was given a chance to grow as a songwriter within the group. The Stones didn’t work that way.

Brian could be his own worst enemy and had a hard time handling fame but he was a very talented musician. Maybe the best musician in the band. Keith and Mick learned a lot from Brian. His musicianship, image, and outlook on life rubbed off on the more inexperienced Mick and Keith.

I would recommend this book to any Stones fan. You get a better picture of the earlier days. It is a reminder that it took more than Keith and Mick to get the Stones rolling.

 

A very good professional review of the book by Larry Rohter of the New York Times

Brian Jones is to the Rolling Stones what Leon Trotsky was to the Russian Revolution: organizer, ideologist and victim of a power struggle. Jones founded the group, gave it its name and recruited the schoolboys Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, who then marginalized him, eventually expelling him from the band. Since his death in 1969, a month after he was forced out, Jones has largely been airbrushed from the group’s history.

Paul Trynka’s biography “Brian Jones: The Making of the Rolling Stones” challenges the standard version of events, focused on Mr. Jagger and Mr. Richards, in favor of something far more nuanced. Though Mr. Trynka sometimes overstates Jones’s long-term cultural impact, his is revisionist history of the best kind — scrupulously researched and cogently argued — and should be unfailingly interesting to any Stones fan.

Specifically, “Brian Jones” seems designed as a corrective to “Life,” Keith Richards’s 2010 memoir. Mr. Trynka, the author of biographies of David Bowie and Iggy Pop, and a former editor of the British music magazines Mojo and Guitar, has interviewed Mr. Richards several times over the years and obviously likes him, but also considers his memory of events highly unreliable.

“History is written by the victors, and in recent years we’ve seen the proprietors of the modern Rolling Stones describe their genesis, their discovery of the blues, without even mentioning their founder,” Mr. Trynka remarks in the introduction. Without naming Mr. Richards, he also expresses his distaste for an assessment that appears in “Life,” that Brian Jones was “a kind of rotting attachment.”

The portrait of Jones that Mr. Trynka offers here is bifurcated. Though he is impressed with Jones’s “disciplined, honed sense of musical direction” and his dexterity on guitar and many other instruments, he does not hesitate to point out his subject’s more unpleasant personality traits: He was narcissistic, manipulative, misogynistic, conniving and dishonest about money. It’s not accidental that this book is called “Sympathy for the Devil” in Britain.

Mr. Trynka attributes Jones’s downfall to a conjunction of factors, some related to those character flaws but others external to him. Much has been written about the drug busts that swept up Mr. Jagger and Mr. Richards in the mid-1960s and their court battles, though Jones seems to have been even more of a target, because he was such a dandy and so successful with women.

But as Mr. Trynka tells it, Jones did not receive strong legal advice or fight charges as hard or as successfully as the Jagger-Richards team. After his first arrest, he pleaded guilty, which drove a wedge between him and other band members, who feared it would mean they could no longer tour abroad, all of which left him feeling crushed, isolated and vulnerable. That, in turn, increased his consumption of drugs and alcohol and made him less productive as a musician.

Nevertheless, Mr. Trynka demonstrates convincingly that the original Rolling Stones were Jones’s band and reflected his look, tastes and interests, not just the blues but also renaissance music and what today would be called world music. (He recorded the master musicians of Joujouka in the mountains of Morocco.) In “Life,” Mr. Richards describes his discovery of the blues-tinged open G guitar tuning, familiar from hits like “Honky Tonk Women” and “Start Me Up,” as life changing, and says it came to him via Ry Cooder in the late 1960s. But Mr. Trynka notes that Jones often played in that tuning from the band’s earliest days and quotes Dick Taylor, an original member of the Stones, as saying, “Keith watched Brian play that tuning, and certainly knew all about it.”

Some of Mr. Trynka’s account is not new, having appeared in “Stone Alone,” the often overlooked 1990 memoir of the Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman, or other books written by band outsiders. What makes Mr. Trynka’s book fresh and interesting, and gives it credibility, is the length he has gone to find witnesses to corroborate and elaborate on those stories.

It’s not just that Mr. Trynka has sought out those who worked with the band on the creative side, such as the singer Marianne Faithfull, the arranger Jack Nitzsche and the recording engineers Eddie Kramer, Glyn Johns and George Chkiantz. He has also interviewed those with more of a worm’s-eye view: drivers, roadies, office staff, old girlfriends and former roommates like James Phelge, whose surname the band would appropriate to designate songs that were group compositions rather than Jagger-Richard numbers.

“Brian Jones was the main man in the Stones; Jagger got everything from him,” the drummer Ginger Baker, who played in the band at some of its earliest shows and went on to become famous as a member of Cream, says in the book. “Brian was much more of a musician than Jagger will ever be — although Jagger’s a great economist.”

Citing those present at the creation, Mr. Trynka contends that Jones had a hand in composing some well-known Stones tracks, including “Paint It, Black” and “Under My Thumb.” He also claims that “Ruby Tuesday,” a No. 1 hit early in 1967, is actually a Jones-Richards collaboration — written not by Mr. Richards in a burst of inspiration and heartbreak in a Los Angeles hotel room, which is how the story is told in “Life” and elsewhere, but, according to Ms. Faithfull and Mr. Kramer, “labored over” by the pair in London for weeks.

“I used to say to Brain, ‘What on earth are you doing?’ ” Stan Blackbourne, the accountant for the Rolling Stones at their mid-1960s peak, recalls in the book. “ ‘You write some of these songs, and you give the name over as if Mick Jagger has done it. Do you understand, you’re giving ’em thousands of pounds!’ All the time I used to tell him, ‘You’re writing a blank check.’ ”

Mr. Trynka also looks into the circumstances of Jones’s death, on July 3, 1969, in the swimming pool at his home in East Sussex, once owned by A. A. Milne, but after all the Sturm und Drang that has come before, the subject is somewhat anticlimactic. In numerous books and in films like “Stoned,” it has been suggested that Jones was murdered, but Mr. Trynka painstakingly examines the flaws in each of the theories, and ends up close to the official verdict, “death by misadventure,” because of drug and alcohol consumption.

“The official coroner’s verdict on Brian’s death was perfunctory and lazy,” Mr. Trynka concludes. Nonetheless, “I’ve come to share their belief that Brian’s death was most likely a tragic accident” and to believe that “many of the existing theories that his death was in fact murder rely on unreliable witnesses.”

In the end, with the advantage of 45 years’ perspective, Mr. Trynka maintains, it is Jones’s music that matters. “It’s understandable why the survivors resent Brian Jones beyond the grave,” given his founder’s role, he argues, and also writes: “Brian Jones got many things wrong in his life, but the most important thing he got right.”

 

 

 

 

 

Raised Eyebrows: My Years Inside Groucho’s House

Steve Stoliar wrote this book about being a student at UCLA and working at Groucho Marx’s house starting in 1974. This book is not about the peak years of The Marx Brothers or Groucho…just the opposite. It’s the decline of Groucho Marx’s health and his eventual death.

Steve was in UCLA heading up a petition to get “Animal Crackers” released again to theaters for which he was successful. The Marx Brothers popularity was on the rise again. Groucho traveled to the campus to help out. Groucho’s PA Erin Fleming eventually hired Steve as a secretary and archivist. Steve worked in Groucho’s house for a little over 3 years. He was a huge fan not only of Groucho but of old Hollywood.

The number of famous people that passed through Groucho’s house was incredible. Old Hollywood stars and also new ones at the time. Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Bud Cort (Harold and Maude), Alice Cooper, Dick Cavett, Woody Allen, Mae West, Queen (they are not in the book though), and many writers from the early days of motion pictures.

The sad part of this story is Erin Flemming (no relation to Harpo’ wife Susan Flemming). She was mentally unstable and both helped Groucho and hurt him. She would scream, berate, and push Groucho to make appearances he had no business doing in his condition. She convinced Groucho that his kids were terrible and she actually tried to get him to adopt her as his daughter. She would fire people for any reason and be very unpredictable.

After Groucho passed on it took years before the court case between Erin and Groucho’s son Arthur Marx to settle. Erin ended up losing and she was in and out of mental hospitals and wandering the LA streets for the rest of her life.

Steve slowly builds a friendship with Groucho and many of the celebrities that passed through the house. Steve didn’t seem to embellish anything in the book. There is only a couple of celebrities he said anything bad about. One was Barbara Streisand.

As a matter of fact, there’s really only one time that I can recall being officially snubbed at Groucho’s house. It was when Elliott Gould arranged for his ex-wife, Barbra Streisand, to come with him one Sunday afternoon along with their young son, Jason. Streisand never made eye contact with me the whole time she was there nor acknowledged my presence in the room even when I was speaking. It was as though I didn’t exist. Others spoke to me and Streisand made comments to the people around me, but to her I was, apparently, invisible.

Groucho had a number of mini-strokes and year by year he worsened. He would have good days and bad ones but he never lost his wit.

Steve was/is a true fan. He relished working there with his hero. Imagine being nineteen years old and working for a celebrity you really admire.

Groucho’s health was fine until around 1972 and he had his first stroke. That is when he started to really age. In the early seventies, he would appear on talk shows with his quick wit and singing songs. After the stroke, you could tell a difference.

Steve was there until the very end and ended up as a television writer and a cartoon voiceover actor.

This is a very interesting book. I will say again that Steve is about a fair as you can get retelling stories. Groucho’s daughters would go on to say that he was very truthful. Some say he was too easy on Erin and some said he was too hard on her… I would say it’s only for Groucho fans but you get a lot of Marx Brothers stories and some information about old Hollywood.

Steve and Groucho

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Rob Zombie wants to make a movie out of this book. That kind of takes me by surprise…not that a movie could be made…but that Rob Zombie wants to do it.

https://1428elm.com/2018/06/16/waiting-for-groucho-marxs-raised-eyebrows-from-rob-zombie/

As it just so happens, in an interview Zombie mentioned that his favorite book was Raised Eyebrows written by Groucho’s former assistant, Steve Stoliar. It details the last years of the comedian’s life through Stoliar’s eyes.

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Harpo Speaks

I have mentioned this book before but not in detail. It is my favorite autobiography I’ve ever read. He starts off in his childhood in the late 1800s and ends up in the 1960s. I have read this book at least 7-10 times. It’s always my traveling companion on trips just in case I need something else to read. I’ve read books by and about Groucho and others written about the Marx Brothers but this book that Harpo and Rowland Barber wrote tops them all. He doesn’t go through all of the movies by detail but he packed so much living in his life that his life was full enough without much info about the movies.

He was always himself no matter what. The Brothers never would conform to anyone’s standards. He was counterculture before counterculture. Harpo jumped out of the window in 2nd grade and never came back but ended up hanging out with some of the best-known intellectuals of the 20th century and was a member of the Algonquin Round Table but yet he could hardly spell. He frequently stayed at William Randolph Hearst’s super-estate San Simeon. He called himself a professional listener…the only one of the bunch.

He taught himself the harp and played with an unorthodox style. Professional harp players would ask him to show them how he played some of the things he did…

Harpo was a good friend of Alexander Woolcott and Wolcott would invite Harpo and a select few to Neshobe Island in Lake Bomoseen in Vermont that Woolcott owned for the summers to play games and hang out every day. Harpo could make life interesting in the dullest of surroundings. He was friends with Robert Benchley, Salvador Dali, Dorothy Parker, Charles MacArthur, Alice Duer Miller, George Bernard Shaw,  Beatrice Kaufman, and Ruth Gordon.

Wolcott also arranged for Harpo to tour Russia in the 1930s. Harpo actually did a bit of Spy work for the American government at the time…transporting some papers on his leg out of Russia to America.

If you read this just to read about the Marx Brothers movie career…don’t…if you want to know what they went through to get where they did…then yes read it. This book tells what old-time Vaudeville was really like. Not a romantic version of it by some old timers that told their story after they retired. Awful boarding houses, spoiled food, and harassment by promoters.

He never seemed to age in spirit. He kept up with new things and was not stuck in the past.

His son Bill Marx wrote a book later on about his life with Harpo. When the Beatles came out Bill…who studied jazz and played piano, hated them. Harpo told him in 1964 that he better start liking them because their songs would last through time. He said this in 1964 before the Beatles matured. The guy had been around George Gershwin, Oscar Levant, and Irving Berlin. Bill said in 1970 he was playing piano in a club somewhere and what was he playing? Let It Be… “Dad was right.”

Harpo married Susan Flemming when he was 48 in 1936. George Burns asked him in 1948 how many children did he want to adopt? Harpo said “I’d like to adopt as many children as I have windows in my house. So when I leave for work, I want a kid in every window, waving goodbye.”

Harpo was known to wake one of his children up in the middle of the night if he worked late just to play games with them.

They ended up adopting 4 children…below was the house rules for the kids…

  1. Life has been created for you to enjoy, but you won’t enjoy it unless you pay for it with some good, hard work. This is one price that will never be marked down.
  2. You can work at whatever you want to as long as you do it as well as you can and clean up afterwards and you’re at the table at mealtime and in bed at bedtime.
  3. Respect what the others do. Respect Dad’s harp, Mom’s paints, Billy’s piano, Alex’s set of tools, Jimmy’s designs, and Minnie’s menagerie.
  4. If anything makes you sore, come out with it. Maybe the rest of us are itching for a fight, too.
  5. If anything strikes you as funny, out with that, too. Let’s all the rest of us have a laugh.
  6. If you have an impulse to do something that you’re not sure is right, go ahead and do it. Take a chance. Chances are, if you don’t you’ll regret it – unless you break the rules about mealtime and bedtime, in which case you’ll sure as hell regret it.
  7. If it’s a question of whether to do what’s fun or what is supposed to be good for you, and nobody is hurt whichever you do, always do what’s fun.
  8. If things get too much for you and you feel the whole world’s against you, go stand on your head. If you can think of anything crazier to do, do it.
  9. Don’t worry about what other people think. The only person in the world important enough to conform to is yourself.
  10. Anybody who mistreats a pet or breaks a pool cue is docked a months pay.

 

If you are looking for an autobiography…get this book.

Here is a small portion of Chapter 1 of Harpo Speaks!

I’ve played piano in a whorehouse. I’ve smuggled secret papers out of Russia. I’ve spent an evening on the divan with Peggy Hopkins Joyce. I’ve taught a gangster mob how to play Pinchie Winchie. I’ve played croquet with Herbert Bayard Swope while he kept Governor Al Smith waiting on the phone. I’ve gambled with Nick the Greek, sat on the floor with Greta Carbo, sparred with Benny Leonard, horsed around with the Prince of Wales, played Ping-pong with George Gershwin. George Bernard Shaw has asked me for advice. Oscar Levant has played private concerts for me at a buck a throw. I have golfed with Ben Hogan and Sam Snead. I’ve basked on the Riviera with Somerset Maugham and Elsa Maxwell. I’ve been thrown out of the casino at Monte Carlo.
Flush with triumph at the poker table, I’ve challenged Alexander Woollcott to anagrams and Alice Duer Miller to a spelling match. I’ve given lessons to some of the world’s greatest musicians. I’ve been a member of the two most famous Round Tables since the days of King Arthur—sitting with the finest creative minds of the 1920’s at the Algonquin in New York, and with Hollywood’s sharpest professional wits at the Hillcrest.
(Later in the book, some of these activities don’t seem quite so impressive when I tell the full story. Like what I was doing on the divan with Peggy Hopkins Joyce. I was reading the funnies to her.)
The truth is, I had no business doing any of these things. I couldn’t read a note of music. I never finished the second grade. But I was having too much fun to recognize myself as an ignorant upstart.
 
 I can’t remember ever having a bad meal. I’ve eaten in William Randolph Hearst’s baronial dining room at San Simeon, at Voisin’s and the Colony, and the finest restaurants in Paris. But the eating place I remember best, out of the days when I was chronically half starved, is a joint that was called Max’s Busy Bee. At the Busy Bee, a salmon sandwich on rye cost three cents per square foot, and for four cents more you could buy a strawberry shortcake smothered with whipped cream and a glass of lemonade. But the absolutely most delicious food I ever ate was prepared by the most inspired chef I ever knew—my father. My father had to be inspired because he had so little to work with.
I can’t remember ever having a poor night’s sleep. I’ve slept in villas at Cannes and Antibes, at Alexander Woollcott’s island hideaway in Vermont, at the mansions of the Vanderbilts and Otto H. Kahn and in the Gloversville, New York, jail. I’ve slept on pool tables, dressing-room tables, piano tops, bathhouse benches, in rag baskets and harp cases, and four abreast in upper berths. I have known the supreme luxury of snoozing in the July sun, on the lawn, while the string of a flying kite tickled the bottom of my feet.

I can’t remember ever seeing a bad show. I’ve seen everything from Coney Island vaudeville to the Art Theatre in Moscow. If I’m trapped in a theatre and a show starts disappointingly, I have a handy way to avoid watching it. I fall asleep.
My only addictions—and I’ve outgrown them all—have been to pocket billiards, croquet, poker, bridge and black jelly beans. I haven’t smoked for twenty years.

The only woman I’ve ever been in love with is still married to me.

My only Alcohol Problem is that I don’t particularly care for the stuff.

Deal by Bill Kreutzmann

The book is called Deal: My Three Decades of Drumming, Dreams, and Drugs with the Grateful Dead.

This book is what you would imagine from the drummer (one of them) of the Grateful Dead. Music, drugs, women, drugs, travels, guns, drugs, death, drink and more drugs. Actually, I really enjoyed the book. He is very open and very honest about his actions good and bad.

He is not a shy guy whatsoever. He shares his feelings about any subject that comes up. He does go into the music and how he feels about his bandmates. Most are positive but he does not hold back.

He covers the complete career of the band. He openly said he was very happy being the only drummer of the band when Mickey Hart quit and didn’t like it one bit when Mickey rejoined the band…at first anyway.

He goes into his relationship with Jerry Garcia. He also admits the guilt the band share in not trying to help Garcia more…but Jerry was his own man. He writes about the so-called keyboard player curse the band had in their career.

He tells us about the 72 European tour, shows they played near the pyramids and the Festival Express. I will say this…this band had fun. They were like a family and treated their employees well for the most part.

The only thing that I wish he would have shared more about was Pigpen. The band was apparently in the dark about how bad Pigpen was doing before he died. Maybe he didn’t share it with them.

I learned a lot about the Dead that I didn’t know about.

The book keeps going at a good pace. With the Dead’s long career he never lacks for stories. A lot of rock autobiographies are coming out and again this one takes the template that Keith Richards made with his book “Life” and fills it in.

Bill Kreutzmann from Deal about Garcia and heroin:

I’m pretty sure Jerry wasn’t into heroin during the making of Garcia; as far I know, he hadn’t even discovered it yet. But when he did, during subsequent Grateful Dead albums, it could become difficult just to get him to show up, unfortunately. That got to be really old, really fast, for all of us. We wanted to play music with him so badly that we’d put up with it, which—in hindsight—was crazy. Nobody else in the band would’ve been able to get away with it; at least, not to the extent that he did. But Jerry Garcia was the exception.
It also opens up a moral question that we can talk about now, but we can never truly answer, since he’s not with us. There was a certain feeling, toward the end, that Jerry was using the Grateful Dead to finance his drug habit. That’s a sad thought. I don’t think he ever intended it to be that way or for it to get to that point or to hurt anyone. He was as pure of a musician as they come. But heroin addiction will change a person in ways that are tragic and discouraging.