Miss O’Dell: Hard Days and Long Nights with The Beatles, The Stones, Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton… by Chris O’Dell and Katherine Ketcham

I enjoyed this book immensely. It’s almost like a fantasy book. You are a fan and suddenly you get thrown into the world with The Beatles as friends and co-workers. You move from the Beatles to the Stones, CSNY, Bob Dylan and the list kept growing. 

I will say this… as a Beatle fan, this book gave me insight that I never had before. Chris O’Dell happened to meet Derek Taylor (press officer of the Beatles) in Los Angeles in 1968…she worked for him for a few weeks in LA as a PA. He told her she should come over to London to check out the new company that The Beatles were starting called Apple. He didn’t promise her a job but she took a chance and sold her records and borrowed from her parents to go to London. She was like Alice down the rabbit hole, O’Dell stumbled upon a life even she could not have dreamed of.

She took a chance and went over and that started her career working at The Beatles record company Apple. It took her a few months to get hired full time but after the Beatle’s inner circle knew she could be trusted she was there. She met Paul on her very first day. She said all of them were extremely nice and made her feel welcome. She spent the first few months showing up at the office and making herself useful and securing her place. She was especially close to George as a friend and later Ringo as a little more. 

Chris O'Dell George

After all was said and done…she had 3 songs written about her. Two by Leon Russell called Hummingbird, Pieces Apple Lady, and George Harrison’s Miss O’Dell. She was also the “Mystery Woman” on the Rolling Stones Exile on Main Street cover. She was in the Joni Mitchell song “Coyote” with the line He’s got another woman down the hall…the song about Sam Shepard who Chris O’Dell and Joni Mitchell were seeing. She ended up singing on the Hey Jude recording in the final Na Na chorus.

She was one of the first if not the first female tour manager in rock. The tours she worked on were The Rolling Stones, CSNY, Santana, Bob Dylan, Earth Wind and Fire, Jennifer Warnes, Fleetwood Mac, Linda Ronstadt, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Led Zeppelin, Phil Collins, Echo and the Bunnymen, ELO, and more.

We also get a glimpse into the personalities of Bob Dylan, Jagger and Richards, CSNY (and the disfunction), Eric Clapton, and more. 

Chris O'Dell's Rockstar Life Revealed

Like all of us through life…she made some cringe-worthy decisions. I’m not trying to play it down but most of the time everything worked out in the end. She was in the right place at the right time and took advantage of that. She remains close friends with Pattie Harrison, Ringo Starr (her son’s Godfather), and many of her old famous acquaintances.

This is not a kiss-and-tell book and she doesn’t trash people which made me happy. The only person to come out of this book bad at all is Eric Clapton who was admittedly jealous of Pattie and Chris’s friendship. After the Stones tour, she got into drugs really bad but managed to quit them only to start up again. She, later on, became a drug counselor and helped people. 

This book is for more than just Beatle fans…it gives you what life was like on the road in the 1970s. Some of the highlights in the book for me were: 

  • How the Apple Office worked including the Hell’s Angels visitors
  • How even the biggest stars had deep insecurities
  • Bob Dylan forgot his harmonicas before the Isle of Wight concert and Chris O’Dell arrived by helicopter to give them to him.
  • Keith Richards sending her to pick up a “package” in LA in the middle of a tour
  • Reading about David Crosby’s complaints of no “cross ventilation in his hotel room”
  • When Roger Taylor of Queen realized that she was Miss O’Dell from George’s song.
  • Insight into Pattie Boyd and Maureen Starkey who is hardly covered in Beatles books
  • Reading about how Bangledesh started and how George got his musician friends to participate. 
  • Being on the roof during Get Back brief concert

Chris O’Dell: I think being a Beatle became very difficult for them. They had a different set of problems than the Stones and CSN&Y.  They didn’t tour that much, they couldn’t go out of their hotel rooms, and they lived in a bubble. I think breaking up for them, and I can only guess, was a relief and very difficult at the same time.

Chris O’Dell:  It was like being let go in Disneyland. That’s what it felt like. It’s like here are the keys to Disneyland, go and enjoy yourself. And I was constantly aware that I was watching history in the making and that was exciting. So every day had some, or certainly every week, had something, a twist to it that made it really exciting

Chris O’Dell now: I am happily remarried to a wonderful man who supports me and accepts me as I am. My twenty-three-year-old son is amazing and gives me some credibility as a parent! I have a private practice in Tucson, specializing in addiction and mental health counseling.  My two dogs are happy and life is just better than I would have expected. 

Excerpt from the book: On being in a room with Mick and Keith before the 72 tour. 

“Listen to this fucking article in Rolling Stone about Harrison’s Bangladesh concert,” Keith said. He started reading from the article.
“The Concert for Bangladesh is rock reaching for its manhood.” Keith raised an eyebrow. “Under the leadership of George Harrison, a group of rock musicians recognized, in a deliberate, self-conscious, and professional way, that they have responsibilities, and went about dealing with them seriously.”
Keith looked at Mick and then at me. “Do you believe this shit? But wait, it gets better. Harrison is “a man with a sense of his own worth, his own role in the place of things… with a few parallels among his peers.”
“Bollocks.” Keith laughed, tossing the magazine on the coffee table. “What a fucking load of shit.”
I knew that Keith wasn’t really amused. He could be terribly insecure.
What a paradox Keith was- a sweet sensitive soul who wrote songs about needing love to be happy and yet he lived his life as if he couldn’t give a shit about anything.
But at that moment I wasn’t too interested in Keith’s feelings. I sat at the far end of the sofa, my legs and arms crossed, smoking a cigarette and drinking my Scotch and Coke as if it were straight Coke. I was pissed. Sure, I knew they were just being competitive, but I couldn’t stand listening to them make fun of George. I wanted to jump into the conversation and tell them to leave him alone. But what could I do? I worked for the Stones now, not the Beatles. This is weird, I know, and particularly strange in the context of the Stone’s remarkable longevity, but at that moment I had a sinking feeling that I was beginning my climb down the ladder. I’d started at the very top with the Beatles and now I was on the rung below. I found myself thinking at that moment that the Stones were sometimes a little too raw, too raunchy, too negative. I liked their music, and I liked each of them individually, but if I had to choose, the Beatles would win.
“You know,” I said, trying to smile but having a hard time of it,
“George is my friend.”
Mick looked over at me as if he had forgotten I was there. “Oh yeah, Chris, you’re a Beatle person, aren’t you? Sorry about that”
We let it go, then, but after I dropped Mick at his house and headed home through the dark canyons, I felt a sudden, intense longing to see Pattie and George. Mick was right. When it came right down to it, I was a Beatle person.”

Miss O’Dell

I’m the only one down here
Who’s got nothing to say
About the war
Or the rice
That keeps going astray on its way to Bombay.
That smog that keeps polluting up our shores
Is boring me to tears.
Why don’t you call me, Miss O’Dell?

I’m the only one down here
Who’s got nothing to fear
From the waves
Or the rice
That keeps rolling on right up to my front porch.
The record player’s broken on the floor,
And Ben, he can’t restore it.
Miss O’Dell.

I can tell you
Nothing new
Has happened since I last saw you.

I’m the only one down here
Who’s got nothing to say
About the hip
Or the dope
Or the cat with most hope to fill the Fillmore.
That pushing, shoving, ringing on my bell
Is not for me tonight.
Why don’t you call me, Miss O’Dell?

Why don’t you call me, Miss O’Dell?

Billy Preston – Outa-Space

This is a cool funky instrumental by Billy Preston from 1972.

This instrumental was a track from Billy Preston’s sixth album, I Wrote a Simple Song, his first for A&M Records. Preston had faith in the song but A&M placed it on the B side to I Wrote a Simple Song. The same old story here…when the disc jockeys turned the single over they played it more than the A side.

I Wrote a Simple Song,” only peaked at #77 on the Billboard 100 Chart. I’m sure Billy Preston felt good about that.

Like Stevie Wonder was using at the time, Preston used a Clavinet for this song.

Vintage Rhodes Mark II Stage 73 Electric Piano fender Worldwide Shipping--See Video! image 1

Three years before this, Preston played with the Beatles on the Let It Be album. John even suggested that they add him to the band. George Harrison kept working with Preston, using him on his 1970 solo album All Things Must Pass. When Harrison embarked on his only solo tour in 1974, Preston was in his band, but a big enough star in his own right to get some of his own songs in the set, including Outa-Space.

Preston was a top session keyboardist in the 1960s. He ended up backing artists such as Little Richard, Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, the Everly Brothers, Reverend James Cleveland, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.

The song won the 1972 Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance.

This was used in several movies, including the 1973 TV movie Go Ask Alice, Muppets From Space, Rush Hour 2, and The Look of Love.

From Wiki: Preston had suffered kidney disease in his later years. He received a kidney transplant in 2002, but his health continued to deteriorate. He had voluntarily entered a drug rehabilitation clinic in Malibu, California, and suffered pericarditis there, leading to respiratory failure that left him in a coma from November 21, 2005. Preston died on June 6, 2006, in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Outa-Space

Groove on the clavinet

….

Rolling Stones – Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)

One of my favorite intros to any song.  Billy Preston did a  funky clavinet intro that sounds dark and huge. Mick Taylor’s solo on this song is perfect…without Mick Taylor they would have made those stretch of albums in the late sixties and early seventies but they would have sounded different. When Mick Taylor quit…they lost their sound from this period.

The song peaked at #15 in the Billboard 100 in 1974. It was on the great album Goats Head Soup which peaked at #1 in 1973.

 

From Songfacts

This tells two stories, a young man shot by police in a case of mistaken identity, and a 10-year girl who dies in an alley of a drug overdose. Neither is based on a true story, but is a commentary on urban America.

The horns were arranged by trumpet player Jim Price, who along with Bobby Keys on sax, provided the brass on records and tours for The Stones in the early ’70s. This was the last time Price recorded with The Stones. He went on to produce other artists, including Joe Cocker.

Keith Richards played bass and shared lead guitar duties with Mick Taylor.

Billy Preston played the piano.

The Stones played this on their 1973 European tour, even though it describes events in America.

Chuck Findley played trumpet on this. Other artists he worked for include George Harrison, Quincy Jones, Diana Ross, the Carpenters, Julio Iglesias, Rod Stewart, Robert Palmer and Madonna.

Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo Heartbreaker

The police in New York City 
They chased a boy right through the park 
And in a case of mistaken identity 
The put a bullet through his heart 

Heart breakers with your forty four 
I want to tear your world apart 
You heart breaker with your forty four 
I want to tear your world a part 

A ten year old girl on a street corner 
Sticking needles in her arm 
She died in the dirt of an alleyway 
Her mother said she had no chance, no chance! 

Heart breaker, heart breaker 
She stuck the pins right in her heart 
Heart breaker, pain maker 
Stole the love right out of you heart

Oh yeah, oh yeah
Want to tear your world apart
Oh yeah, oh yeah
Want to tear your world apart

Heart breaker, heart breaker 
You stole the love right out of my heart 
Heart breaker, heart breaker 
I want to tear that world 
I want to tear that world 
I want to tear that world apart

Heart breaker, heart breaker 
Stone love, stone love
Oh yeah, oh yeah

Heartbreaker, heartbreaker
Want to tear that world apart

Doo, doo doo doo doo doo doo, doo doo doo

Billy Preston – Nothing From Nothing

Billy Preston played with and toured with a lot of artists. Mahalia Jackson, Ray Charles, Little Richard, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, and more. He had 17 songs in the Billboard 100, six top ten hits, and three number 1’s… One of the #1’s was with the Beatles with Get Back.

This song peaked at #1 in the Billboard 100 in 1974. Preston performed this song on the very first episode of Saturday Night Live. He and Janis Ian were the musical guests on the October 11, 1975 debut.

From Songfacts

Preston started writing this one night in the dressing room of an Atlanta nightclub where he was performing. He wanted to write a song based on the saying, “Nothing from nothing leaves nothing.”

“The saloon piano gave it character,” Preston explained, “and I had a feeling it would be a hit because it was a sing-a-long kind of thing.”

Bruce Fisher, who was Preston’s songwriting partner (he co-wrote his previous American chart-topper, “Will It Go Round In Circles”), added a second verse.

The B-side of the single was another song Preston wrote with Fisher: “You Are So Beautiful,” which was later a hit for Joe Cocker.

Preston started off at the age of 10 playing keyboards for gospel legend Mahalia Jackson. Later he joined Ray Charles’ touring band before recording with The Beatles on several of their tracks including “Get Back” and “Let It Be” (The Beatles considered him to be the fifth Beatle). He also played on a number of Sly & The Family Stone recordings. Preston went on to have a successful solo career with five Top 10 US hits. In 1997 he was sent to prison on drug charges. He died in 2006 at age 59.

In the US, this was used in a TV commercial for Fidelity Investments. >>

This was used in several movies, including the 1995 thriller To Die For, starring Nicole Kidman, the 2003 comedy Elf, starring Will Ferrell, the 2008 comedy Be Kind Rewind, starring Jack Black and Mos Def, and the 2011 comedy Bad Teacher, starring Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake.

Nothing from Nothing

Nothin’ from nothin’ leaves nothin’
You gotta have somethin’ if you want to be with me
Nothin’ from nothin’ leaves nothin’
You gotta have somethin’ if you want to be with me

I’m not tryin’ to be your hero
‘Cause that zero is too cold for me, Brrr
I’m not tryin’ to be your highness
‘Cause that minus is too low to see, yeah

Nothin’ from nothin’ leaves nothin’
And I’m not stuffin’, believe you me
Don’t you remember I told ya
I’m a soldier in the war on poverty, yeah
Yes, I am

Nothin’ from nothin’ leaves nothin’
You gotta have somethin’ if you want to be with me
Nothin’ from nothin’ leaves nothin’
You gotta have somethin’ if you want to be with me

You gotta have somethin’ if you want to be with me
You gotta bring me somethin’ girl, if you want to be with me