Let It Be movie 1970

This movie was released in May of 1970.

All of the Beatle movies have been remastered, cleaned up, and released except this one. Let iT Be was released on Laserdisc, Betamax, and VHS in the 1980s but that is it. It’s frustrating that all we have are old grainy copies of it.

I wrote briefly about this movie earlier but now that Yellow Submarine is being released in theaters…it’s past time for Let It Be to at least be cleaned up and released on Blue-Ray. I’ve read where there are thousands of feet of the film that has never been seen. This is historical now. From what I’ve read the Harrison and Lennon estate have held it up because of the acrimony between the members at that time. They act as if this is some secret not known to the public.

The acrimony in the movie is apparent between Paul and George during one scene, especially where Paul is directing George on how to play something. John is pretty laid back throughout the film with the presence of Yoko by his side. Ringo is…Ringo. All in all the film leaves out most of the bad feelings. Behind the scenes, George quit and John Lennon supposedly said they should call Eric Clapton to take Georges place or fill in because ““He’s just as good and not such a headache.” Of course, if this is true we don’t know for sure.

George did come back and participate and brought Billy Preston. That was a brilliant move on George’s part. You always act a little better when guests come over. Everyone was probably on their best behavior. Billy also added some great organ parts to their songs.

I have mixed emotions watching this as a Beatle fan. Yes, the end is coming but they would get together again in a few months and make one of the Hallmark albums of their career and one of the best albums ever with Abbey Road.

The film is not all doom and gloom. The first of the film was shot at Twickenham Studios starting each day early in the morning and you can tell the mood wasn’t good. After a little over 20 minutes into the film, they moved out of Twickenham to Apple and things picked up quite a bit.

The music. The soundtrack is not the Beatles best album but it is still a good album. When you have Let It Be, Get Back, The Long and Winding Road, Don’t Let Me Down and Across the Universe on an album how bad can it be? It would make another bands career to have 2 of those songs on their album. That is the quality of the Beatles.

You will hear the Beatles very raw. That was the whole idea of the movie in the first place.

The payoff of the film comes via the rooftop of Apple at the end. They all got together and played a mini-concert on the roof. We do not see everything they actually played on the roof. This would be the Beatles last public performance. It was a good performance considering it was cold in January in London at the time. They all seem to be having a good time. The performance was at lunchtime and stopped traffic and drew the police up to the roof to stop the music. If they sounded this good on the roof in January I can’t imagine what a tour what have sounded like…

Just release the movie guys. It’s past time to do it.

Paul McCartney interview for Rolling Stone magazine in 2016

You mentioned the Let It Be film. Is there any chance it will ever be rereleased?
I keep thinking we’ve done it. We’ve talked about it for so long.

What’s the holdup?
I’ve no bloody idea. I keep bringing it up, and everyone goes, “Yeah, we should do that.” The objection should be me. I don’t come off well.

Ringo Starr interview for Rolling Stone magazine in 2012

Are you thinking about releasing the Let It Be movie on DVD?
I think that’s also a possibility. One day that will come out. But we’re not talking about it right now. As you know, there’s very little that hasn’t come out. I’d forgotten that one though. You just mentioned the one thing that hasn’t come out. I’m too busy living now.

Loyal Roadies

Roadies have always been an important part of a band. Occasionally some will be rise above and become well known and some will end up as an executive in the band’s organization. Some will burn out like their bosses and below are a few famous roadies.

Neil Aspinall – Beatles

The first roadie the Beatles employed. He started to help the Beatles out by driving their van from gig to gig. He was soon their road manager and personal assistant. He ended up being the Chief Executive of The Beatles company Apple Corps until 2007. He passed away in 2008.

He was a trained accountant and knew George and Paul when they were kids. He was well trusted by all members. He stayed neutral in all of the arguments while he continued to run a prosperous Apple Corps to the end.

Mal Evans – Beatles

He was hired to help out Neil Aspinall as a roadie. Mal became their personal assistant after they stopped touring. After the Beatles broke up he did some producing…he produced the Badfinger’s single “No Matter What”. He also produced Keith Moon’s first album “Two Sides of the Moon” but was replaced midway through.

In the seventies, he still did work for some of the Beatles accompanying them on trips and odds and ends. He then separated from his wife Lil and after that, he started to have bad depression. While depressed and reportedly using downers, he was shot by LAPD while holding an air rifle and refusing to put it down. He was thought highly of by all the Beatles…See George’s quote below.

George Harrison on Mal Evans

, “Mal loved his job, he was brilliant, and I often regret that he got killed. Right to this day, I keep thinking, ‘Mal, where are you?’ If only he was out there now. He was such good fun, but he was also very helpful: he could do everything…He was one of those people who loved what he was doing and didn’t have any problem about service. Everybody serves somebody in one way or another, but some people don’t like the idea. Mal had no problem with it. He was very humble, but not without dignity; it was not belittling for him to do what we wanted, so he was perfect for us because that was what we needed.” 

Red Dog – Allman Brothers

Duane Allman befriended Joe Campbell (Red Dog) a Vietnam vet and Red Dog stayed with the Allman Brothers for three decades. He gave the band his disability checks to help them stay afloat at the beginning. He soon became a trusted member of the team. His picture with all the roadies is on the back cover of the At Fillmore East album.

Here is a quote from Cameron Crowe on Red Dog when he published his book.

“I’ll admit it right now. I am a big fan of Red Dog, and have been even before he allowed me to interview him back in 1973 for a story in Rolling Stone. Hell, he was already legendary back then. But now I just have to say that I am extremely jealous of the Great Dog, because I’ve just finished reading A Book of Tails. True rock, the kind that lasts forever, is about honesty and humor and love and chasing the elusive buzz of greatness.

Ramrod – Grateful Dead

Lawrence Shurtliff (Ramrod) joined on the Grateful Dead in 1967 and in the seventies became the President of the Grateful Dead board of directors until Garcia’s death in 1995.

Bob Weir on Ramrod

“When he did join up, it was like he had always been there. I won’t say he was the missing piece, because I don’t think he was missing. He just wasn’t there. But then he was there. And he always will be. He was a huge part of what the Grateful Dead was about.”

 

 

Juinor’s Farm/Sally G. by Paul McCartney and Wings

Juinor’s Farm/Sally G. single by Paul McCartney and Wings.

I had this single as a kid. Juinor’s Farm and Sally G were both partially recorded in Nashville during Paul’s six-week stay there in 1974. Juinor’s Farm is one of my favorite songs by Paul McCartney. The song rocks and the solo was performed by a 21-year-old Jimmy McCulloch. The song reached #3 in America. The band stayed at a farm in Lebanon TN around 30 miles from Nashville. I remember at the time it being big news that Paul McCartney was going to record in Nashville. I was seven years old and remember seeing Paul on the local news.

Jimmy McCulloch was a guitar prodigy… He was playing in a band when he was 11. He was in a band supporting The Who when he was 14 and in the band Thunderclap Newman in 1969 when he was 16. He went on to play with John Mayall (That guy knew how to pick guitar players) and Stone the Crows… He then went to play with Paul McCartney and Wings in 1974. He gave Paul’s songs an edge and I wish he would have stayed in Wings longer.

He left Paul to play with the reformed Small Faces in 1977.  In 1979 died of heart failure due to morphine and alcohol poisoning. You have to wonder how much better this guy could have been…

The B side was Sally G. and it hit #17 on the Billboard charts and even #51 on the country charts. This song has stayed with me through the years. When I listen to it…I think, now this is more of a what a country song should sound like. I really hate modern country music. No pickup trucks or tractors in this song. Modern country music could learn a lot by listening to country songs in this period and earlier. Paul composed the song after visiting a club in Printer’s Alley in Nashville.

This was McCartney’s last release on Apple Records

sallyg.jpg

This is from the Tennessean about Paul’s 1974 visit to Nashville. It was written by Dave Paulson

1974
Paul McCartney touched down at Metropolitan airport with his family on the evening of June 6, 1974, emerging from the plane wearing a green battle jacket and flashing a peace sign. The Tennessean reported that Paul answered questions “briefly but willingly” and even humored a group of kids who were amused by his British accent (he said the word “elevator” at their request).
The music superstar told a crowd of about 50 fans and members of the press that he’d come to Nashville for his three Rs — rehearsing, relating and riding. Music producer and executive Buddy Killen, who would act as the McCartneys’ Music City guide during their six-week stay here that summer, greeted the family upon their arrival.
The McCartneys rented a 133-acre farm just outside of Lebanon from songwriter Curly Putman (“Green, Green Grass of Home”) for $2,000 a week. They had requested a farm within 50 miles of Nashville that had horses and swimming facilities.
“I’ve got a farm in Scotland,” McCartney told reporters during an informal press conference on the farm. “You’re not the only people who have farms, you know. Back in Scotland, we’re country people in our own way.”
During their stay, the family visited the homes of Johnny Cash and Chet Atkins and even took in a few movies at their local drive-in.
McCartney and his family caused quite a stir when they joined the audience at Opryland for the third annual Grand Masters Fiddling Contest on June 16, 1974. During the intermission, Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton performed their final show together before Parton embarked on her solo career. Linda McCartney got out of her seat several times to take photos of the duo. The McCartneys went backstage to meet with Wagoner and Parton, and then escaped into a waiting automobile.
McCartney told Nashville reporters that he was raised on country music, and he tried his hand at a bit of country songwriting while he was in town: He wrote the song “Sally G.” after a trip to Printer’s Alley.
McCartney drove around on a newly purchased motorcycle during the family’s Nashville visit. When a group of reporters waited at the Putman farm gate for a “highly informal” press conference, Paul and Linda rode past, smiling and waving.
Linda told The Tennessean she was “not much into materialism anymore,” though she had made a recent trip to Rivergate to purchase gifts for her family. Another big machine Paul loved — the Mellotron synthesizer — was not readily available in Tennessee at the time, to his chagrin.
As his time in Tennessee came to a close, McCartney told a group of local reporters that he hoped to mount a U.S. tour the following year, and that if it happened, Music City would definitely be on the itinerary.
“We just couldn’t skip Nashville,” he said. “We have too many friends here.”
McCartney continued to skip Nashville for the next 36 years.

When Paul did come I was there in 2010… he also came back in 2013 and I was there again. Three hours of one favorite after another…

New Musical Express Winners 1965 Concert

I have the video of this show. First, the lineup to this event included

  • The Moody Blues
  • Freddie and the Dreamers
  • Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames
  • The Seekers
  • Herman’s Hermits
  • The Ivy League
  • Sounds Incorporated
  • Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders
  • The Rolling Stones
  • Cilla Black
  • Donovan
  • Them
  • The Searchers
  • Dusty Springfield
  • The Animals
  • The Beatles
  • The Kinks

Think about the talent on that stage. To see the Stones, Animals, Van Morrison with Them, The Kinks and The Beatles all in the same day on the same stage. This would be a dream concert. Jimmy Saville hosted the event. It’s hard to watch the guy knowing what we know now about him.

It’s great to see The Rolling Stones with Brian Jones but you can tell the Beatles were THE Band of the day and were clearly the most anticipated.

You see a young Van Morrison fluff a line in “Here Comes The Night” but his voice comes through loud and clear. It’s a wonder you have a sound at all. In between songs you see roadies roll out amps and drums for the next band. They did quite well and it was never a long break between bands.

The sound quality is not the greatest but it’s good enough to watch considering the hectic way they had everyone perform.

The next year the Who, Rolling Stones, and the Beatles would play but The Beatles and Stones would not let their segments be recorded.

As far as I know, there is not an official release of this video…You can watch it on Youtube or order a bootleg DVD on various sites.

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.

 

 

 

Ooh La La 1973

What a great song from The Faces. The song was written by Ronnie Lane and Ronnie Wood and sung by Wood. That is strange because The Faces had one of the best lead singers around at the time…Rod Stewart.

Stewart by this time was soaring as a solo artist and his interest in the Faces was waning. He claimed the song was not in his key to sing. He did do vocals for it then and Lane but Wood ended up singing the released version.

The Faces had one big hit…Stay With Me but this song is their greatest song to me. Rod Stewart finally covered the song in 1998 for a tribute to Ronnie Lane. Ronnie Lane did his own version with his band Slim Chance. Ronnie Wood also does it live in solo shows.

A song between Granddad and Son about the ways of love. The song never ages because the subject matter never changes and it is continually passed along. The song creates an atmosphere and Wood not known for his singing ability did a great job on this one.

The song was included in the 1998 film Rushmore and enjoyed renewed popularity.

It’s one of my favorite songs of all time. Just a beautiful melody and words.

Poor old granddad
I laughed at all his words
I thought he was a bitter man
He spoke of woman’s ways
They’ll trap you, then they use you
Before you even know
For love is blind and you’re far too kind
Don’t ever let it show
I wish that I knew what I know now
When I was younger
I wish that I knew what I know now
When I was stronger
The can can’s such a pretty show
They’ll steal your heart away
But backstage, back on earth again
The dressing rooms are gray
They come on strong and it ain’t too long
Before they make you feel a man
But love is blind and you soon will find
You’re just a boy again
When you want her lips, you get a cheek
Makes you wonder where you are
If you want some more and she’s fast asleep
Then she’s twinkling with the stars
Poor young grandson, there’s nothing I can say
You’ll have to learn, just like me
And that’s the hardest way
Ooh la la, ooh la la la yeh
I wish that I knew what I know now
When I was younger
I wish that I knew what I know now
When I was stronger

 

Wild Tales: A Rock and Roll Life

This is Graham Nash’s autobiography.

Graham narrates the audible version and does a good job weaving through his personal history. He starts with his blue-collar family and how Alan Clarke and he knew each other since school and formed The Hollies. The most interesting part to me was the mid-sixties era living in swinging London.

He wrote about his friendship with the Beatles and him getting an advance tape of Sgt Pepper from Brian Epstein. He had a great hi-fi system at his flat and he would show it off to anyone that came over. When the Turtles came over from America they were blown away by Sgt Peppers at top volume. He went on about how Sgt Peppers changed everything and it would eventually lead him to leave the Hollies.

Graham describes being a pop star in the mid-sixties in London. Shouldn’t we all live that life? Paul McCartney calls him up and invites him over to the All You Need Is Love session for the “Our World” program to be broadcast to millions.

He talks about how his friendship with Mama Cass led to meeting David Crosby and eventually CSN being born. Graham covers the CSNY period and his romantic relationships including  Joni Mitchell. He does cover the drama associated with CSNY and the troubled David Crosby. What kind of Rockstar bio would it be without drugs… Graham did his share and Crosby did our share. Graham handled them better than some.

Graham would write simple songs compared to Crosby, Stills, and Young but many times his songs would be the hits that drove some of the later albums…songs like “Just a Song Before I Go” and “Wasted on the Way.”

One thing I can say is he didn’t hold back or pull punches…but he still comes off as a really nice guy but it is his book.

This book helped sever his relationship with Crosby…for now anyway but Nash stressed through the book how much he cared for Crosby.

I would recommend this book to not only Hollies and CSNY fans but fans of 60’s and 70’s music and culture. After reading this I listened to more Hollies songs and I really began to appreciate their psychedelic period with songs like King Midas in Reverse.

 

 

 

The Traveling Wilburys

In the eighties, I made no secret of my dislike for a lot of music during that period. When I heard The Traveling Wilburys in 1988 it was like an oasis in the desert. A band that contained George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty. I went out and bought the album Traveling Wilburys Volume 1 and wore it out. There is not a song on that album that I didn’t like.

George Harrison started the group with Jeff Lynne and eventually, they picked up Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, and Tom Petty…not a bad choice of additions. Just hearing Bob Dylan sing lines like “You don’t need no wax job, you’re smooth enough for me If you need your oil changed, I’ll do it for you free” was the worth the price of the album.

Handle with Care was the first single and it went to #2 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs charts. I was surprised when I researched the other charting songs of The Wilburys first album… End of the Line went to #2 on Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs, “Last Night” #5, “Heading For The Light” #7 “Inside Out” #16

Tweeter and the Monkey Man is my favorite song off of that album. Bob taking playful jabs at Bruce Springsteen. The song reminded me of some of his earlier work.

Hearing Roy Orbison and Bob Dylan singing together was something I never thought I would ever hear. Roy’s voice was magnificent as always and it is sad that he died two months after the album’s release.

On the second album, Vol 3 of course… the songs as a whole were not as strong but I still like the album. They did miss Roy’s vocals and presence. Again Dylan sang my favorite song on the album with “If You Belonged To Me” with Dylan sounding vulnerable.  She’s My Baby went to #2  and The Wilbury Twist got some radio play but nothing like Handle With Care.

They also recorded two other songs Runaway and Nobody’s Child which was recorded for a benefit album. They did an excellent job of Nobody’s Child.

This helped revive the career of Orbison…unfortunately he didn’t get to enjoy the success of his solo album and hit “You Got It.”

Two bright spots in the late eighties for me was The Traveling Wilburys and Keith Richard’s solo album Talk Is Cheap.

I really wish older rockers would try to do this sort of thing now. Let’s say Fogerty, McCartney, Young, Richards, and throw in a younger David Grohl…or fill in your own names…No it wouldn’t be the same but I would like to hear the results.

You Know My Name (Look Up The Number) Beatles

I bought the Let It Be single by the Beatles in the mid-1970s from a relative’s yard sale. I loved Let It Be and then I flipped it over. The song started off with a catchy piano riff and then took a left turn never coming back.

I won’t even attempt to describe it because it would lose everything in words. It is a funny record (I don’t mean “My Love” bad funny… wo wo wo wo, wo wo wo wo…sorry Paul) it’s a comedy record. You could tell they were having a great time doing it.

Brian Jones played saxophone on the recording. Yes, that Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones. He dropped by the studio and John and Paul thought he would play some guitar but he had a sax so they thought of this tune and he played on it.

My friend and I would listen to this over and over. We would quote from it…”Welcome to Slaggers” at school. Sometimes…and this is probably sad but we still do.

The song was recorded in May of 1967 and June of 1969 and was released as the B side of Let It Be in 1970.

It’s just so off the wall. The thing that surprises me isn’t the 1967 sessions…it’s John and Paul working on this in 1969 when they were not exactly best mates anymore. How could you not get along and make this? I guess they went through bad and good periods like any friendship or partnership…

The original version was 6:08 long but John edited it down to 4:19 for the single release.

Here is a quote from John Lennon

“That was a piece of unfinished music that I turned into a comedy record with Paul. I was waiting for him in his house, and I saw the phone book was on the piano with ‘You know the name, look up the number.’ That was like a logo, and I just changed it. It was going to be a Four Tops kind of song – the chord changes are like that – but it never developed and we made a joke of it. Brian Jones is playing saxophone on it.”

 

Paul McCartney on Brian Jones

“I naturally thought he’d bring a guitar along to a Beatles session and maybe chung along and do some nice rhythm guitar or a little bit of electric twelve-string or something, but to our surprise, he brought his saxophone,”

“He opened up his sax case and started putting a reed in and warming up, playing a little bit. He was a really ropey sax player, so I thought, ‘Ah-hah. We’ve got just the tune.”

“It’s not amazingly well played but it happened to be exactly what we wanted. Brian was very good like that.”

Gower Guitars

I have three Gowers and one Grammer Guitar and I’m really proud to have them. They are part of my family heritage that I had nothing to do with…My family built guitars (Gower Guitars and Grammer Guitars) starting in the 1950s and made them until the 1970s. Country artists such as Johnny Cash, Leon Rhodes, Gordon Terry, and George Jones played Gower and Grammer Guitars.

I keep my eye out for them but on eBay, they are anywhere between $1500 – $5000 and more. They are rare…if you run up on one for a good price grab it. I don’t want them only for the family connection…they sound great.

I have two acoustics and two electrics. They didn’t make a lot of electric guitars. They all play great and the acoustics have the feel of a Martin. I asked my dad once why they didn’t make more electric guitars. He said because acoustics took craftmanship and electrics were basically “2 x 4’s with strings.”

Well, the electrics I have are more than that. The Green sunburst hollow body electric I have has a Gibson 335 feel and the mahogany solid body electric I have with original DeArmond pickups I would put it against any Gibson SG…

In the sixties, my family also built a studio where singer-songwriters Joe South, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Ray Stevens, Johnny Bragg and drummer D. J. Fontana recorded demos there.

I remember when I was 4 or 5 and walking into the Grammer guitar shop in the early 70s around the time it ended. I will never forget that smell of wood and glue…I also remember the studio and walking in with my cousin Ricky and seeing egg crates on the wall. I do wish they would have continued.

I will let two of my relatives who were there at the time and remember, tell the history…one being Randy Gower who’s father was J.W. Gower and Ricky Moore who’s mother was Alma Moore. My father was Bobby Max Gower.

The below is some history by Ricky Moore and Randy Gower

Ricky Moore

In 1955 J.W. Gower and his sister Alma Moore started the Gower Company. The first guitar was made by bending the sides on a tree. This did not work well but they still got the Guitar together. After a few months, they had purchased some woodworking equipment and had a brick building built by their duplex where they lived.

They built acoustics and electrics from 1955 until the early 1960’s. They made their own guitar pickups. Alma Moore’s husband Kellice Moore built a machine out of an old sewing machine and an old part from a car to wind the pickups.

Randy Gower

Then one day, out of nowhere, dad (J.W. Gower) decided he wanted to build guitars. He went and visited a violin maker in town and picked his brain and as George Jones would say “The Race Was On”. The beginning of the guitar business was slow. If you had seen the first one you would have known why, uglier than a bowling shoe.  Made out of maple it was a big jumbo guitar.  The sound was good but it looked rough. He made the beast and he did not stop there. He made another one that looked better. Dad and his sister (Alma Moore) decided they could do this for a living so he and Alma’s husband Kellice Moore got together to build a brick o block shop in the back of the house where they could build guitars and do repair work on others. Gower Guitar began. It wasn’t long until he had the shop going. Alma and him would make a guitar on occasion. To help pay the bills they did a lot of repair work for the guys at the Opry. Paying the bills proved to be a challenge. I was only ten years old and I could tell for the time he was putting in on some of these jobs he was not charging enough. He would work 2 hours on a job and charge .50 cents. Granted this was 1958 and .50 was worth much more then than it is today but he was never going to get ahead. The shop was a who’s who of country music stars. Stonewall Jackson, Faron Young, Sonny James, Earl Scruggs, Eddie Arnold, Harold Bradley, Pete Wade and many more would hang out or pass through over the years.

I can remember being in the shop with a fire going in the old pot belly stove in the shop when Faron Young came by to pick up a job. He told dad he had just left the studio where he thought he had cut another hit. He reached down to pick up a guitar that was laying there, strummed a cord and said, “Hello Walls how’d things go for you today”. He was right it was a hit, a big hit.

Then there was Eddie Arnold. I came in from school one day and dad was on the phone with Mr. Arnold. As usual, I went over and ask for a nickel. For all of you, youngsters a nickel would buy a soda or candy bar back in the day. I regressed, he waved me off but I was persistent, I said give me a nickel, once again a wave off. I tried once more with the same response at which point I ran my hand down into his front pocket. I did n’t reach the bottom when out of nowhere a hand came flying across my face. He had smacked the shit out of me. I bounced off the block wall and stood there stunned in disbelief. That was the only time he ever smacked me but I will say I never really gave him a reason again, nor did I ever put my hand in his pocket again. To this day, if I hear or see Mr.  Eddy Arnold the hair will stand up on the back of my neck. Life lesson learned.

At some point in the early 60’s J.W. Gower and Kellice Moore decided to build a recording studio in the building they were making guitars in…no Gower guitars would be made again until the mid-1960’s. Around 1964 Billy Grammer came to the house and ask dad if he wanted to go into business with him making guitars. They went and got a third partner in Clyde Reid to help sell stock and raise money. The start of Grammer Guitar had its start.  They brought in a man named Fred Hedges who was an outstanding machinist to build equipment for the manufacturing process. It wasn’t long until dad realized the thing was not going to work out.  Billy and Clyde wanted to go to a laminated Rosewood for the backs and sides. Like most companies, this was just a cost saving and nothing more. However, dad contention was it affected the sound of the instrument and would not go along with the change.  They could not agree so dad left the company in ’66.

There was a gap between Grammer and the new Gower Co.

At some point, Hatch Reid approached dad about starting up Gower Guitar. Hatch was Clyde’s uncle and there again the money man.

J.W. Gower and his sister and brother Max started manufacturing acoustic guitars around 1966. The company was in business until sometime around 1969 when they went bankrupt. A salesman that worked for the company took orders for guitars and pocketed the money…

Alma Moore and her brother Max went back to Grammer Guitars and worked there until Grammer went out of business. Tut Taylor bought all the equipment at auction and leased the same building Grammer used. Alma Moore and her brother Bobby Max Gower worked for Tut Taylor until he also went out of business. She would go on to work for Gibson Guitars for 11 years until she retired. Max went on to work with Tut Taylor’s son Mark for a few years building wooden instruments.

J.W. Gower moved to Franklin, TN and made more Gower Guitars with his son Randy.

 

I’m proud to be associated with these guitars and studio if only by family. Not long ago I met the great guitarist Leon Rhodes before he passed away. We were introduced and when he heard who I was he started to tell me some stories about the old days and my family that I didn’t know.

All in all, I have 12 guitars… I like playing vintage guitars through vintage amps because I like the instruments to have a history. I like knowing I can get the exact sound now that someone got in 1970…I have some older guitars but the Gower guitars have part of my history.

This guitar was given to me by Randy Gower that J.W. Gower made. I wouldn’t take anything for it. My guitar guy installed humbucker pickups and I can get about any tone I want out of it.

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This one plays like a Martin. It is the best acoustic I have. It was made in the early sixties.

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An American Werewolf In London 1981

I always come back to this movie. This is a horror-comedy movie that works. It’s not a parody. It’s a horror movie that happens to have funny moments.

Two Americans (David and Jack) are traveling through Europe. They go to a pub (The Slaughtered Lamb) and it’s strongly hinted for them to stick to the main roads on their way out by the unfriendly locals…well guess what? They don’t and soon Jack is ripped to shreds and David is badly scratched by a werewolf. David wakes up in a hospital with Nurse Alex Price taking care of him. That is the nurse I would want.

David starts having horrific nightmares. In the hospital, Jack reappears to David as a decomposing corpse. He keeps telling David that he should kill himself because David will turn into a werewolf and kill others. David goes home with Alex and Jack keeps reappearing and eventually, David does turn into a werewolf.

He ends up killing bystanders as the werewolf and now Jack comes back and is decomposed more and this time brings the new kills to meet David.

Jack cares about David and hates the situation but he will be left to wander like this unless the werewolf curse is broken…

When the movie came out on VHS I bought it. It was one of the first movies I bought on DVD. It is very effective as a horror movie with comedy. That can be a hard thing to do without it becoming an outright parody.

John Landis had just finished The Blues Brothers and Animal House when he directed this. In two years he would hit again with Trading Places. Then came the Twilight Zone with the Vic Morrow tragedy. After that Landis’s career was damaged.

Rick Baker did the special effects for this movie. The transformation is great and the wolf is effective. The effects look good today.

The music is great. Bad Moon Rising, Blue Moon, and  Moondance are featured.

The cast is David Naughton, Griffin Dunne, Jenny Augguter, and Rick Baker makeup effects.

If you like horror movies you should like this. I would not recommend the sequel An American Werewolf in Paris…that one doesn’t stack up against the original.

Supposedly Max Landis, John’s son is planning to remake this movie. Personally, I don’t think it needs it. It’s hard to remake a classic.

Waging Heavy Peace

An Autobiography by Neil Young. Neil is one of my favorite artists. He tells some history about Buffalo Springfield and CSNY and also the Mynah Birds with Rick James. Neil Young and Rick James in a band together…its just hard for me to imagine that.

He gets into how he started his music career with his first band and how he loves Crazy Horse.

Now all of these stories are great but… this is during the period he came up with PONO music… a high-end music player that plays music with much more quality than CDs or mp3s. This venture eventually failed years later but he is very excited about it in the book. That is great but sometimes it seems forced. I honestly don’t think he was plugging PONO…I think he was just that excited about it. His enthusiasm is unquestionable.

Cars…the man loves cars. I admire that in him but again he talks A LOT about electric cars and hybrids. Then he combines the two…PONO music systems being installed into…fuel efficient cars. I will admit it is interesting and you get to see what makes the man tick.

Some of it reads like a diary because that is the way he wrote a lot of it. He will say he is going to Hawaii and then a page or two later…he will tell you he made it there. It’s like being in conversation with someone who will just switch subjects on a whim. Neil tends to ramble.

He is part owner in Lionel Trains and you can feel his love of trains coming through the pages. He also talks about his quadriplegic son and the Lionel Train control he designed for his son to operate the trains. That I found really heart touching. He really tries to connect with his son and that is what the album Trans is all about.

He goes through his drug and drinking problems, medical problems, marriage problems, and every single car or bus he has had in his life…which again he just loves any kind of vehicle.

The disappointment for me was Neil didn’t talk enough about the music. Yes, you will learn more about Neil Young. I did learn many things about him that I didn’t know. The problem is he spreads the music sections out and just when he gets on a roll, you are thinking… cool he is writing about playing with Buffalo Springfield and also where they hung out…here comes the PONO Music bit or more car information.

I guess the best way to sum it up is yes you will get a lot of the musical info you are looking for but you have to wade through a lot of rambling.

Overall if you can find this book 2nd hand, get it. If you are looking for a definitive Neil Young bio this is not the one… He does have great things to say about the members of CSNY, Buffalo Springfield, and Crazy Horse. Maybe I wanted another Testimony or My Cross to Bear…this wasn’t it…but what did I expect? It’s Neil Young and he is going to do what he wants to do… that is the reason we love him.

I will admit this…after he mentions all the vintage cars and busses he has owned his enthusiasm rubs off…I started to look these models up and reading about them… but it wasn’t what I had in mind going into the book.

The Kids Are Alright 1979

Besides the Beatles Anthology, this is my favorite rockumentary for the lack of a better word. Jeff Stein the director did a great job on this film about The Who.

Jeff was a fan of the band and pestered them until they let him do this. He had no prior experience in filmmaking but this was the 1970s and he got the gig. His timing was eerily perfect. He caught the original band at the very end of their tenure with the great Keith Moon.

He searched high and low for clips of the band in earlier years. Stein keeps the appearance mostly in order. There is sadness in this. You see the band through the years from 1964 to 1978… you see all of them gradually age of course but Keith Moon ages faster than any of them. I’ve read where it hit him hard while watching the rough cut right before he died. His drinking and drug taking had taken its toll on him. He saw a young energetic kid that looked like Paul McCartney’s younger brother to a man who was 32 and looked like he was in his 40s.

This may be the first or one of the first video bios on a major rock group. Led Zeppelin had The Song Remains the Same but it focused on one concert in New York… The Beatles had Let It Be but those films didn’t show their history like The Kids Are Alright.

It this film you see a band that is fun… unlike Zeppelin the Who were more open to their audience and didn’t have a dark mystique hanging over them. They would crack jokes from the stage and Moon treated it like a High School talent show until he started to play…then he got serious.

You see film segments that were fun like the video of Happy Jack, the interview on the Russell Harty show, Keith with Ringo, and Keith and Pete sharing a joke that only they could understand. One of my favorite segments is The Who playing Barbara Ann with Keith singing and the band having a good time. They also played I Saw Her Standing There but it didn’t make the film…you can watch it in the outtakes. I can’t imagine Zeppelin doing Barbara Ann and goofing for the camera.

The Who did a couple of live shows for the film besides being interviewed. Stein mostly used old clips but he convinced the band to do a couple of concerts where he could get a definitive version of Won’t Get Fooled Again… which personally I think is the greatest rock song live you will ever hear. You see Keith’s last performance as he is looking pudgy, older, and slower but still pulls it off. Pete wasn’t too thrilled about doing the concerts for the film but it turned out good. They ended up only using a version Won’t Get Fooled Again and Baba O’Riley.

Keith died a few months before The Kids Are Alright debuted. The film showed The Who at it’s best. Kenney Jones from the Faces replaced him but it was never the same. You cannot replace Moon…he was the engine that drove the Who. The only drummer that has worked well with the Who since Keith has been Keith’s Godson Zak Starkey…Ringo’s son.

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I acquired a VHS copy of this in the mid-eighties. It wasn’t a great copy but my friends and I wore it out. One of them worked at a small cable station. The station was in a small county that usually aired farm reports and advertisements. Basically, it was a very small building in the middle of nowhere. All they would do there is broadcast videos.

We had the tape in hand and wanted to see it so we went there one afternoon. He popped it in the VHS player and played it. He had no idea but it was going out live. Near the end of the film, he took a phone call from his boss. I didn’t think anyone ever watched that station…but it turns out they did and they were not fans of The Who. He didn’t get fired but they took his key for the door. It was a big subject the next day at school as some teenagers loved it but their parents didn’t appreciate their videos on farming being interrupted by My Generation and Keith Moon in bondage.

This film covers the original Who and being such a Who fan I’m glad Jeff Stein was so persistent in doing this because many of the tapes he was able to borrow probably would have been erased and used again by the BBC as was their policy.

 

 

Roller Skating and Music

In the mid-seventies, my big sister would take me to the skating rink. I would go in as a little kid and trade my shoes for skates. I never understood why my sister went there and hardly ever skated. She would be in the corner with her girlfriends talking to guys while I was out there falling down. There was not a lot to do in a small town so this was a lot of fun.

I remember being exposed to a lot of music while skating. Someone would say over the intercom “All Skate” and they would blast a song at ear-splitting volume. Songs like “Juniors Farm”, “Sally G”, “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love”, “Rocky Mountain Way” and Free’s “All Right Now” would play while I learned how to skate decent soaking up the atmosphere.

They would play the 4 corners. You would skate until the music stopped. You would then go to a corner and they would call a corner number and those people in that corner were eliminated. This would go on till there was only one person left.  I won one time. The song that was playing and then stopped as I went to my corner on that night was Frankenstein. What I won was a single by Wings called Silly Love Songs. It was the first thing I ever won…I earned that single and still have it today and also bugged my Mom till she bought me the Wings at the Speed of Sound album…not Pauls best to say the least but it brings back too many good memories to be that bad.

In the seventies skating and going to rinks was huge. It was a place to gather and have fun with your friends. No texting or emails or blogs…Some were great at skating backward, doing tricks, and sabotaging other skaters…I was just a simple skater…As time went by I would find my own way down to the rink…as I got older I was the one that hung with friends and wanted to talk to girls instead of skating. I kept going to the rink until I was around 15 and then all of my friends and me just stopped at once. We had moved on to other things by then.

I did go again after my son was born in 2000…we had fun but the music sucked…no loud guitar music at all…just programmed electronic dance music… I guess you really can’t go back home.

I’ll never forget my friends and the music in that period of my life…That is why music is so important…it can transport you back through time and you are at that place again.

 

 

Testimony

The autobiography of Robbie Robertson. I read this right after My Cross To Bear by Gregg Allman. The only surprising part is it stops at 1976 and doesn’t cover Robbie’s solo career.

Robbie is 33 when the book ends. It ends at a recording session where only Robbie shows up after The Last Waltz.

If you have read Levon Helm’s This Wheels on Fire you know that Levon was pretty hard on Robbie. He rips him for songwriting credits and The Last Waltz. Robbie takes the high road in his book. He talks about the brotherhood they all shared. He mentions that Levon was his best friend he ever had in his life.

Robbie was in the middle of musical history throughout the book. He talks about joining Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks and befriending Levon…they eventually picked up Richard Manuel, Rick Danko, and Garth Hudson. After they split with Ronnie they get busted and gigged at various bars while meeting music legends Sonny Boy Williamson II, Paul Butterfield, Mike Bloomfield and then Bob Dylan. After meeting Dylan they start backing him on his first electric tour.

They are in the middle of the chaos of Dylan’s electric tour…Levon quits a few shows into it because of the booing and the people that surround Dylan. The rest of the Band (still called the Hawks) continue to back Dylan around the world. Along the way, they make friends with Brian Jones, The Beatles, Johnny Cash and eventually Jimi Hendrix (Jimmy James at the time).

He also mentions about living at the Chelsea Hotel, Big Pink, Levon coming back, living in Woodstock, playing Woodstock, and being friends with Dylan. This is one book that gives you a side of Dylan you never read much about. Robbie humanizes him while keeping respect. The Band much like the Allman Brothers valued brotherhood. They stuck together and got along really well until heroin started to enter the picture.

He goes into his songwriting and where he got the ideas. A lot of his ideas came from hanging out with Levon at Levon’s home in Arkansas. Robbie enjoyed the area and the southern culture that surrounded him.

Robbie is big foreign film buff who read many screenplays and would have people to pick them up when going through New York. After reading those he said it helped him to express what he felt in lyrics.

You get such a mix of personalities in the book… Edie Sedgwick, Carly Simon, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, to smoking pot with John Lennon in the sixties with John’s special made “cigarettes.”

All of the Band had street smarts and mixed with killers, thieves and mafia members before they made it. They were without money at one point and Robbie and Levon were actually going to wear masks and hold up a high stakes poker game. It’s a wonder one of them wasn’t killed before the band met Dylan.

I’ve read both Levon’s and Robbie’s books. I liked them both. Robbie is more consistent in his telling. There is a reason Robbie wanted to get off the road. Richard Manuel was not in good shape…even on The Last Waltz and Robbie was no angel himself. The road brought temptations that were hard for them to resist.

If you are a Band fan and/or Dylan fan…get it. I would place this book up there with Keith Richard’s book Life. That is about the highest praise I can give…