Infamous Rock and Roll Locations…Part II

I did a post earlier on Infamous Rock and Roll Locations and I wanted to do a follow-up on it. If you don’t want to click on the link…I mentioned the Riot/Hyatt House, The Edgewater Inn, The Rainbow Bar and Grille, Villa Nellcôte, and Rodney Bingenheimer’s English Disco.

To be honest….a few are infamous but the other are just cool. I love reading rock music bios and there are some places I would love to visit one day. A warning though…a few are very morbid.

The Highland Gardens Hotel…Ok…this one is a little morbid…well a lot morbid. On October 4, 1970, Janis Joplin stayed here and it was called The Landmark Motor Hotel. She died in room #105 of a suspected heroin overdose. The same hotel stands but it’s called The Highland Gardens Hotel now. Yes, you can rent room #105. She lived there for months while working on her last album Pearl. The closet has handwriting by visitors but the rest of the room is normal. Yes, I would love to go.

Band Pink House

Big Pink in Saugerties/Woodstock: This is the house where The Band and Bob Dylan recorded The Band’s debut album…Music From Big Pink…this house was pink then and is now. Now you can rent the house but you cannot go down to the basement where they recorded…what’s the fun in that?

The World Famous Whisky A Go-Go on the Sunset Strip, West Hollywood CA

Whisky a Go-Go on the Sunset Strip: The one on the Sunset Strip opened in 1964. So many bands played and visited there. The Doors, Van Morrison, Buffalo Springfield, Alice Cooper, The Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Chicago, Germs, Elton John, Oasis, Buffalo Springfield, Steppenwolf, Van Halen, Johnny Rivers, X, Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac, KISS, Guns N’ Roses, Death, AC/DC, Linkin Park, Metallica, Mötley Crüe Stryper, and many many more.

The Whiskey is still open now.

The Joshua Tree Inn | Joshua Tree National Park | Joshua Tree CA

The Joshua Tree Inn – Another morbid one but I would stay there. On September 18, 1973, Gram Parsons purchased liquid morphine on that night from an unknown girl and died of an overdose. This all happened in Room 8 of this Inn. Yes, you can rent room 8 today in fact..it’s decorated with posters of Gram.

curzon place cass elliot keith moon

Mayfair…Curzon Square – This apartment was owned by Harry Nilsson at the time. It was in this building, in the same apartment that both Cass Elliot (Mama Cass) and Keith Moon died 4 years apart. Nilsson liked the location because it was near Apple Records and nightclubs. It was decorated by  ROR…Ringo and Robin (Ringo Starr and designer Robin Cruikshank).

On July 29, 1974 after a performance…Mama Cass died of a heart attack. In 1978 Keith Moon wanted to rent it from Nilsson but he was afraid to rent it again because Nilsson remembered what happened to Cass. He ended up talking to Pete Townshend and Townshend told him that  ‘lightning does not strike in the same place twice’ so he let Keith rent it. On September 7, 1978, Keith Moon died because of an overdose of clomethiazole…a prescription drug for combating alcoholism in the same bedroom.

Flying Burrito Brothers – Hot Burrito #1

This song is my favorite of the Flying Burrito Brothers. It came off their great country album The Gilded Palace of Sin.  It didn’t chart at the time. It probably would have helped if they would have given it a proper name but regardless… it’s a great song.

Parsons wrote this song with Burrito bass player Chris Ethridge while the band was living in their San Fernando Valley house that was dubbed “Burrito Manor.”

This song, like the album The Gilded Palace of Sin, barely made a dent on the music world of 1969. They did develop a cult following after this albums release that included Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones. The band was more popular with other musicians than the public.

Gram joined the Flying Burrito Brothers after leaving the Byrds in 1968.

The Gilded Palace of Sin. One thing you notice are the “Nudie” suites on the front cover. Nudie Cohn was an American tailor who designed decorative rhinestone-covered suits. Parsons’ suit was hand-stitched by Manuel Cuevas, Nudie Cohen’s protégé, who has called the suit “a map for him to follow to his death.”

The green leaves featured in the design on the front of the jacket are a marijuana plant, and the red-petaled flowers above them are poppies, the natural source of morphine, opium, and heroin. Gram Parsons would die in 1973 and the cause of death was an overdose of morphine and alcohol

The Flying Burrito Brothers - The Gilded Palace Of Sin - Vinyl

This album was a major influence on the Eagles, Travis Tritt, Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, Clint Black, and Randy Travis.

Hot Burrito #1

You may be sweet and nice
But that won’t keep you warm at night
‘Cause I’m the one who showed you how
To do the things you’re doing now
He may feel all your charms
He might hold you in his arms
But I’m the one who let you in
I was right beside you in the end
Once upon a time
You let me feel you deep inside
But nobody knew, nobody saw
Do you remember the way we cried?
I’m your toy
I’m your old boy
But I don’t want no one
But you to love me
No, I wouldn’t lie
You know I’m not that kind of guy
Once upon a time
You let me feel you deep inside
But nobody knew, nobody saw
Do you remember the way we cried?
I’m your toy
I’m your old boy
But I don’t want no one
But you to love me
No, I wouldn’t lie
You know I’m not that kind of guy

Byrds – Mr. Spaceman

After I graduated, I purchased the Byrds Greatest Hits and this one caught my attention immediately. It continued to build my love for the Rickenbacker 12 string electric guitar.

Now, this is some cool hype. The release of the single was accompanied by a spoof press announcement from the Byrds’ co-manager, Eddie Tickner, stating that he had taken out a one-million-dollar insurance policy with Lloyd’s of London against his clients being kidnapped by extraterrestrial visitors.

This song was on their Fifth Dimension album. With this song, you could almost hear Sweetheart of the Rodeo coming around the corner. Mr. Spaceman was written by Roger McGuinn. This was their third album, and it was recorded shortly after Gene Clark left the band. When he left, it left a songwriting hole in the band. McGuinn and David Crosby tried to step up and fill the void, but they still had to have four cover songs on the album.

The album peaked at #24 in the Billboard Album Charts and #27 in the UK in 1966.  Mr. Spaceman peaked at #36 in the Billboard 100.

Despite its country-style backing with a touch of psychedelia…it was called “space rock” in the press. Some critics have said it was one of the earliest examples of country rock.

The first video below has Gram Parsons who didn’t join the band until 2 years after this song was released. It was filmed at the Roman Colosseum while the Byrds were in town to play the first International European Pop Festival in 1968.

In that video, we see original Byrds Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman joined by new members Gram Parsons, Kevin Kelley, and Douglas Dillard.

Roger McGuinn:I was interested in astronomy and the possibility of connecting with extraterrestrial life and I thought that it might work the other way round, if we tried to contact them. I thought that the song being played on the air might be a way of getting through to them. But even if there had been anybody up there listening, they wouldn’t have heard because I found out later that AM airwaves diffuse into space too rapidly.”

The Byrds with Gram Parsons video

Mr. Spaceman

Woke up this morning with light in my eyes
And then realized it was still dark outside
It was a light coming down from the sky
I don’t know who or why

Must be those strangers that come every night
Those saucer shaped lights put people uptight
Leave blue green footprints that glow in the dark
I hope they get home alright

Hey, Mr. Spaceman
Won’t you please take me along
I won’t do anything wrong
Hey, Mr. Spaceman
Won’t you please take me along for a ride

Woke up this morning, I was feeling quite weird
Had flies in my beard, my toothpaste was smeared
Over my window, they’d written my name
Said, “So long, we’ll see you again”

Hey, Mr. Spaceman
Won’t you please take me along
I won’t do anything wrong
Hey, Mr. Spaceman
Won’t you please take me along for a ride

Hey, Mr. Spaceman
Won’t you please take me along
I won’t do anything wrong
Hey, Mr. Spaceman
Won’t you please take me along for a ride

Long Ryders – Looking For Lewis and Clark

How can you not like a band who counts Gram Parsons and Punk Rock as their biggest influences? They have a great raw sound. This American band was very successful in the UK in the mid 80s. They had a chance to break big but broke up before they took an offer from one of their label mates.

The Long Ryders were formed Thanksgiving 1981 in west Los Angeles, California and fell in with the ’80s Paisley Underground scene (Red on Green, the Bangles, the Dream Syndicate, the Rain Parade), and widely considered as one of the forerunners of the alt-country genre.

They made their debut with the EP 10-5-60 in 1983, which had a strong garage folk-rock sound. After that they released 3 studio albums in the 80s and then they released Psychedelic Country Soul in 2019 after numerous reunions.

In 1986 they were in Spain headlining the Barcelona festival to over 100,000 which was broadcast live on national radio. In Canada, the Toronto Daily Mail called them “the best thing to happen to roots rock since The Band.” Then in Italy they played eighteenth century opera houses and the press and rock critics loved them.

They built a dedicated following…especially in Europe. However band members Tom Stevens and Stephen McCarthy left the band in 1987 despite the offer of an opening spot on tour with Island Records labelmates U2. The Long Ryders then broke up.

They released their second album State of Our Union in 1985 and Looking For Lewis and Clark became their signature song. It was written by guitarist Sid Griffin. Griffin also wrote books on Gram Parsons, Bob Dylan, and Bluegrass music.

Looking for Lewis and Clark peaked at #2 in the UK Country Chart and #59 in the UK pop chart in 1985.

Looking For Lewis and Clark

I thought I saw some diplomat hawking secret plans in the park
I thought I saw my President walking through Harlem late after dark
In a world of love where they burn like Nero
You write them a check and you then add zero
In a world of love where they burn like Nero
You write them a check and you then add zero
Looking For Lewis And Clark

I was standing alone in Mabuhay Gardens (looking for Lewis and Clark!)
I was thinking about the late Tim Hardin
Well, when Tim get to heaven hope he told Gram
About the Long Ryders and just who I am
Yeah, no one gave Tim reason to believe
So he just packed his bags to leave

Looking for Lewis and Clark
Looking for Lewis and Clark
Looking for Lewis and Clark

I thought I saw my government running away with my heart
I thought I heard Mubute anthems in Johannesburg after dark
You can find them in the yellow pages, baby
That’s where you get your kickbacks from the Navy
Looking for Lewis and Clark
Looking for Lewis and Clark
Looking for Lewis and Clark

I said a Louie-Louie Lou…
Looking for Lewis and Clark
Looking for Lewis and Clark
Looking for Lewis and Clark

….

The Byrds – Drug Store Truck Driving Man

This song is on the Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde album by the Byrds. The song is decent but the interesting part is the story behind the song. It was written in response to an on-air argument with Ralph Emery, at the time an all-night country DJ on a country radio station. It was written by Roger McGuinn and Gram Parsons.

In 1968 The Byrds were in Nashville promoting their new country album “Sweetheart of the Rodeo” and got a cool reception at the Grand Ole Opry. They got into an argument with Emery on air when he said that “You Ain’t Going Nowhere” wasn’t country and then proceeded to call them long-haired hippies and would not play the record. He also didn’t understand what the song meant and Roger told him that Dylan wrote it…that didn’t help.

Ralph Emery would not budge…It was the 1960s in a very fifties Nashville and Ralph could not get past the hair. It would open up a bit in the early seventies with Outlaw country music by Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, and Waylon Jennings.

This is from an interview with Chris Hillman.

“There was the funny story with Ralph Emery, the DJ in Nashville, where he had The Gilded Palace Of Sin tacked on the wall outside of his office, and with a big red pen it said, ‘This is not country music.’ Roger and Gram had gone to do an interview with him when we were all still with the Byrds, and Ralph was such a jerk to them then that they wrote that song “Drug Store Truck Driving Man”. A classic! I wish I’d written a part of that. But later, whenever I’d go on his show with the Desert Rose Band, Ralph would ask, “Did you write that song?” Finally, I had to say, “No, but I wish I had!” So when Roger was on later, Ralph would say, “Well, how is Gram doing?” and Roger would answer, “He’s still dead.” McGuinn was pretty darned quick in those situations!” 

Lyrics

He’s a drug store truck-drivin’ man
He’s the head of the Ku Klux Klan
When summer rolls around
He’ll be lucky if he’s not in town

Well, he’s got him a house on the hill
He plays country records till you’ve had your fill
He’s a fireman’s friend he’s an all-night DJ
But he sure does think different from the records he plays

He’s a drug store truck-drivin’ man
He’s the head of the Ku Klux Klan
When summer rolls around
He’ll be lucky if he’s not in town

Well, he don’t like the young folks I know
He told me one night on his radio show
He’s got him a medal he won in the War
It weighs five-hundred pounds and it sleeps on his floor

He’s a drug store truck drivin’ man
He’s the head of the Ku Klux Klan
When summer rolls around
He’ll be lucky if he’s not in town

He’s been like a father to me
He’s the only DJ you can hear after three
I’m an all-night musician in a rock and roll band
And why he don’t like me I can’t understand

He’s a drug store truck-drivin’ man
He’s the head of the Ku Klux Klan
When summer rolls around
He’ll be lucky if he’s not in town

He’ll be lucky if he’s not in town

This one’s for you, Ralph