My Cross To Bear

I was never a huge Allman Brothers Band fan. I always respected them and I liked their radio songs and heard enough of Duane Allman to know he was a great slide guitar player. I also knew Gregg could make any song his song because of his vocals. I never really wanted to know more about them.

A friend of mine recommended Gregg Allman’s autobiography My Cross To Bear. I have a 72-mile round trip car ride to work every day so I downloaded the audio version. I took a  chance on this one a couple of years ago and I really enjoyed it.  I also downloaded the E-book after I finished it.

The Allman Brothers have always been known as the Godfathers of Southern Rock. I never considered them Southern Rock…like Gregg himself said… they were a blues band with some jazz thrown in and they were from the south.

The audiobook is narrated by Will Patton who does a great job of channeling Gregg.

It is like having Gregg over on your back porch telling you these great stories. He is very down to earth and does not try to make his mistakes sound like someone else’s fault. If you want to know about Duane Allman get this book. He is honest about his brother…warts and all. He doesn’t try to whitewash himself either.

He starts at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction where he was sick, miserable, and bloated because of his drinking problem…from there he starts going back through his personal history and the many ups and downs of the Allman Brothers. He covers the bands that Duane and he formed…The Escorts, The Allman Joys (which I would have kept that name) and Hourglass.

Hourglass made a couple of albums of original material and covers but the record company made them “pop” everything up. They would not let them play with an edge. The Escorts and Allman Joys were cover bands… very good cover bands.

After reading the book I have started to listen to the Allman Brothers more. He gives you some funny stories and you see how close that band was in the early days before Duane and Berry Oakley died. He mentions his struggles with Dickey Betts, alcohol, drugs and wives. You also read about a “foot shooting” party…

He also talks about being on stage noticing Eric Clapton among the audience. That led to the Layla sessions. Eric was a big fan of Duane’s slide playing.

You learn some history about a cover band’s travels, trials, and tribulations in the mid-1960s…youtube has a few crude recordings of the Allman Joys live in the mid-60s. Below is The Allman Joys version of Help. I would have never thought it was Gregg Allman singing.

If you are a music fan you will probably enjoy this book.

 

Help by the Allman Joys in 1966

 

 

 

 

Adam 12

I watched this in syndication in the mid-seventies. I never thought much of it at the time. When I started to watch it as an adult I was surprised at how good this show was. I couldn’t believe how realistic it was for that time. They covered subjects like child pornography, drug addiction, and everything else criminally related.

It was on 7 seasons from 1968 through 1975.

Sometimes as an adult and you watch shows or movies you did as a kid you think wow…how did I like this? Now I’m thinking why didn’t I like it more?

The show starred Martin Milner as Officer Pete Malloy and Kent McCord as Officer Jim Reed. The show was created by Jack Webb and Robert Cinader. The pair also created a spinoff from Adam-12…Emergency. Jack Webb also created Dragnet.

They wanted to capture a typical day in the life of a police officer. There was no Dirty Harry on this force. These officers went by the book even if it would have benefitted them at times not to.

Some of the guest stars were… Tony Dow, Willie Aimes, Ed Begley Jr, Karen Black, David Cassidy, Micky Dolenz, Tim Matheson, Ozzie Nelson and many others. It was odd seeing Robert Donner…who played Yancy Tucker on The Waltons a few years later…playing a heroin addict-informant.

The episodes were written around actual police cases to add some realism. The showed all that the censors would allow.

Reed is happily married and Malloy is the happy bachelor. The interplay seems natural and not forced. The one big thing I like about the show is the continuity from beginning to end. You see a raw rookie in Jim Reed and Malloy slowing training him up and eventually both becoming friends as seasons past by.

 

 

Alone in the Wilderness

When someone brought a DVD of this for me to watch. I thought it was going to be boring. I ended up watching it twice in one sitting. It will draw you in.

A 50-year-old man named Dick Proenneke is in Twin Lakes Alaska in 1968 and films himself building a retirement cabin. He starts out by staying in a friends cabin. He starts gathering wood and making some of the tools he uses on the way.

This man…is a real man. if he needs a spoon…he starts carving himself out one. He builds this cabin and makes everything including wood hinges for the door. He gathers rocks from somewhere down the lake and brings them back…at then he starts building his chimney.

He is by himself and sets up the camera everywhere he goes. He goes out fishing when he is hungry and hunting for meat for the winter only taking what he needs.

He makes most every from scratch. He uses his tin canisters for different things. He buries one and covers for a refrigerator. The only help he receives is a pilot friend of his that lands every now and again to deliver supplies. He is a master craftsman, to say the least.

It doesn’t sound that special but I have watched it 2 more times since the night I watched it twice. He makes it look so easy.

He filmed enough to have a few more short documentaries which were released but nothing matches that first one. This man made me feel like a mouse. He is so talented and tough.

He ended up staying there until 1999 and then left to live with his brother at age 82. Dick passed away at 86 in 2003. The cabin is still there and is in the National Register of Historic Places.

Oddest Concert Pairings

I have always liked odd mixtures. Anything out of the norm and I pay attention. That is why I blog about the past more than today. I liked the 60’s and 70’s era because houses, cars, and music were for the most part unique. I couldn’t tell a Ford from a Chevy today. A lot of new houses look just alike in cloned neighborhoods.

I would have loved to have been at one of these concerts.

Jimi Hendrix / Monkees 1967 – This is number one on my list. Can you imagine the young Monkee fans hearing the sonic volume of Jimi Hendrix? Jimi had to play while a bunch of 12-year-old girls screamed “We want the Monkees” and “We want Davy. ” It was the sixties and Peter Tork said: “It didn’t cross anybody’s mind that it wasn’t gonna fly.”

The Who / Herman Hermits 1967 – Smash your guitars and drums and Hope I die before I get Old and then Mrs Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter?… You can imagine Peter Noone tripping over shards of guitars every night.

Lynyrd Skynyrd / Queen 1974 – This one is a head-scratcher. The theatrical Queen and the southern boys from Florida just don’t seem a great match. Roger Taylor of Queen had some ugly things to say about Lynyrd Skynyrd later on.

Bruce Springsteen / Anne Murray 1974 – This one is baffling. Anne Murray’s managers demanded that Bruce open the show for Anne in NYC! They argued she was more successful and she was…but this was New York and Bruce Springsteen…what a fatal mistake…halfway through Bruce’s set Anne’s managers regretted their decision. Many of the audience had left by the time Anne took the stage.

The Ramones/Toto 1979 – This one doesn’t make sense at all…what promoter thought this through? The laid-back ToTo fans sat through the Ramones but Toto singer Bobby Kimball, came out and apologized to the crowd for the “horrible band” they had to sit through.

Cher/Gregg Allman 1977 – Yes they were married but what an odd concert to go to. You have Gregg who was one of the best blues singers at that time and Cher…who was Cher…Gregg Allman mentions in his book “My Cross to Bear” that the audience was mixed…some with tuxedos and some with denim jackets and backpacks and there were fights at each show on the tour between the two sets of fans.

Gregg Allman

“It was right after that—the tuxedos against the backpacks, because I think the Allman Brothers outnumbered the Sonny and Chers—that Cher came to me, and the poor thing was just crying. I asked her what was wrong, and she told me, “We’ve got to cancel the rest of the tour, because I can’t stand the fighting.” So we ended it right then, which was about halfway through it. We went home the next day, and that was the last time I ever played with her.”

The Ramones / Ted Nugent, Aerosmith 1979 – Bottles and debris were thrown at The Ramones from the crowd as Johnny Ramone was shooting birds at the audience. 

Johnny Ramone about this concert…

“About five or six songs into the set, the whole crowd stood up, and I thought it had started to rain. Dee Dee thought the same thing, but they were throwing stuff at us – sandwiches, bottles, everything. Then, all of a sudden, I broke two strings on my guitar in one strum. I thought it was a sign from God to get off the stage, because I’d rarely break a string, maybe once a year. So I just walked to the front of the stage, stopped playing, and gave the audience the finger – with both hands. I stood there like that, flipping them off, with both hands out, and walked off. The rest of the band kept playing for another ten or fifteen seconds until they’d realized I was walking off, and then they did too. I wasn’t gonna stand there and be booed and have stuff thrown at us without retaliating in some way. We had to come off looking good somehow, and there was no good way to get out of that.”

Johnny Ramone.jpg

 

 

 

 

The Small Faces

The Small Faces were one of those British groups that just never could break America. Some say it was their manager Don Arden who would not budget for touring America but they could have been just a little too British for America…

They were indeed small… all of them were between 5’4 and 5’6″…

They had one of the best if not the best lead singer of that time in Steve Marriott. The guy had a huge voice. They had a talented lineup of Steve Marriott (Guitar and Lead Vocals), Ronnie Lane (Bass), Kenney Jones (drums) and Ian McLagan (Keyboards)… Ian replaced Jimmy Winston.

They were a mod group that was together from 1965 to the beginning of 1969 when Steve left to form Humble Pie.

The had some very good singles like All or Nothing, Itchycoo Park, Lazy Sunday, Tin Soldier, Sha-La-La-La-Lee and more.

The Small Faces also recorded a critically acclaimed concept psychedelic album in 1968 called Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake with their new record company Immediate Records. They never followed it up and only performed it once live in its entirety on a television show called Colour Me Pop. It spent 6 weeks at number one on the UK Album Charts.

Steve Marriott wanted to do heavier and more sophisticated music and quit at a 1968 New Years Eve gig to join Peter Frampton in Humble Pie.

When Mick Taylor quit the Rolling Stones in 1974 it left a big hole in their sound…  According to Ronnie Wood, Steve Marriott was Keith Richards first choice to replace Taylor…Mick Jagger vetoed the idea. Steve was a great guitar player and writer. It would have been interesting but he could not have sung lead. There is no singer that could take Mick’s place in the Rolling Stones.

The Small Faces were not finished. They replaced Marriott with Rod Stewart and Ron Wood and became the Faces. The Small Faces did reunite in the mid-70s with Ronnie Lane on bass again but he quit and was replaced.

Marriott and Lane did most of the writing. Their songs were clever and catchy. I was a very young in the sixties and don’t actually remember them but Itchycoo Park puts me there. This band should have been bigger than what they were… With the right record label, manager and push, they might have broken through.

The Zombies

Since the first time I heard this band, I loved their sound. I liked their hits but a few years ago I bought their album Odessey and Oracle and was blown away. The Beatles were big fans of them in the sixties.

They formed in 1961 by Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone. The hit big in 1964 with singles She’s Not There that went to #2 in American and the follow up Tell Her No that went to #6 on the charts. After that, they released some more singles but nothing hit.

They went into Abbey Road studio right after The Beatles recorded the Sgt Pepper album. When recording the album they even used The Beatle’s Mellotron they left there. They recorded it in Abbey Road and some in Olympic Studio in London.

By the time the album came out they had already broken up. In 1968 CBS records were not going to release it in America at all but a young  A&R man at the time named Al Kooper who worked for CBS told Clive Davis (President of CBS Records) that there were hit singles on the album. The album was released and the single “Time of Season” went to number 1 on the Cash Box Top 100 and number 3 in US Billboard Hot 100…

The album contains much more than that though. Personally, I think “Care of Cell 44” is one of the best pop songs I’ve heard. It’s as if mid-60s Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson had a baby…and Care Of Cell 44 is it.

A Rose for Emily is another good pop song. “This Will Be Our Year” is another one. This album is one of my favorite pop albums of all time. The songs have well-crafted melodies and the sound is wonderful. Time of Season is a classic and has a mood, unlike any other song.

Colin Blunstone has a unique voice all his own. He did have a few solo hits in the UK charts during the 1970s.

Rod Argent went on to form the band Argent… they had a hit with “Hold Your Head Up” and “God Gave Rock and Roll to You” later covered by Petra and KISS with modified lyrics.

The Zombies regrouped in the 90s and are still touring. Get a good pair of headphones and listen to Care of Cell 44.

From the Al Kooper book, Backstage Passes… Talking about Odessey and Oracle

I made an appointment with Clive Davis and put the album on his desk. “I really think we should purchase the master rights to this album for the U.S.,” I aggressively suggested. He took one look at the cover and replied, “We already own this album. I was just about to sign off on our option to release it domestically.”
Now, it got good to me—
“I think that would be a huge mistake Clive. Why there’s at least two hit singles here.” He told me he would sleep on it and thanked me for bringing it to his attention. Two weeks later I got an interoffice memo saying they were gonna put it out, with instructions to rewrite the liner notes and pick a single. Cautiously, Clive released it on a little subsidiary label CBS had called Date Records, in case I turned out to be wrong. But my lucky streak was goin’ strong and that is how the single “Time of the Season” by The Zombies came to be number one. The album Oddesey [sic] and Oracle had been out quite awhile in England. (In fact, the band had already broken up and metamorphosed into a new band called Argent that CBS had signed before “Time” was released.) A buncha Zombies crossed the ocean to take photos and get gold records. No one at CBS thanked me for this; I received no gold record or cash recompense. But The Zombies, who knew what really happened, made sure to come to my office and thank me profusely. That was worth it all to me at that time.