Tuesday, 4 December 2012

THE BEATLES, THE STONES & MARY SCRUGGS

The Stones with Sally (left) and Mary (right)
As any Beatles nut will tell you, the crowded cover of Sgt. Pepper's, photographed by Michael Cooper, includes a nod to the Stones in the form of a Shirley Temple doll wearing a knitted sweater with the words 'WELCOME THE ROLLING STONES' stitched onto it. According to Wikipedia here, this item of clothing 'was provided by Cooper's young son Adam'. In fact, it seems to have been given to the Beatles by Mick Jagger himself, an earth-shattering discovery I made as I flicked through the packed August 1966 issue of Hit Parader (actually out in June).

As you can imagine, the Stones - like all touring bands in the mid-60s - were besieged by competition winners wherever they went. Two such were Mary Scruggs and Sally Ware from Memphis, Tennessee, who got to go backstage before the band's performance at the Mid-South Coliseum on November 17th 1965. Hit Parader - writing about the event some months after the show - made it clear that the Stones were not popular with the venue:



Nonetheless, the girls managed to meet the band after winning different sections in an art contest organised by a local radio station, WMPS (the sweatshirt does not say 'WMCA', despite what practically every source says). Sally's effort was a terrible charcoal portrait of Mick:



Mary, meanwhile, went down the knitwear route. According to the article, she was '17, a Senior at Immaculate Conception High School and an officer in a local Rolling Stones Fan Club':



As the extract above makes clear, Mary gave the sweater to Mick at his request. Far from dumping it as soon as she departed (the likely fate for Sally's drawing), he seems to have taken care to bring it back to the UK, ensuring its place in history when it was photographed in glorious technicolor on March 30th 1967. 

At the close of the year, the Stones repaid the Beatles' tribute by hiding their faces in the lenticular image on the cover of Their Satanic Majesties Request. You can read all about that here. As for Mary - well, she seems to have gone on to become an elementary school art teacher, under the name Mary Anne May. You can read a little more about her here.

Friday, 5 October 2012

FLASHBACK ISSUE #2

I'm delighted to announce that Flashback #2 will be available as of October 31st. Tomorrow are on the cover, and the accompanying feature includes full interviews with all the members, as well as several other figures close to the band. Also included are a jukebox from Ethan Miller of Howlin Rain, a study by Richie Unterberger of how old music papers are preserved, the Top 100 Overlooked Early Hard Rock LPs, and in-depth features on Dragonfly, Morgen, Judy Dyble, Influence, Harold McNair, Ray Russell, the 13th Floor Elevators and more, as well as music / book reviews and plenty of rare / unseen images and vintage music paper reprints. Enjoy! 

Monday, 10 September 2012

KALEIDOSCOPE: 'four born professionals'

Here's the rare press release that Fontana sent out in August 1967, to announce the imminent mega-stardom of Kaleidoscope. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

JOHN LENNON: 'dead gifted'

Ivan Vaughan was the guy who introduced John Lennon and Paul McCartney at the Woolton village fĂȘte on July 6th 1957. Born on the same day as Paul, he was a childhood friend of both, and known to them as 'Ivy'. Having graduated in classics from University College, London, in 1964 he and his wife Jan set off on a hitch-hiking honeymoon around America. At the same time the Beatles were busily conquering the country, so Vaughan gave this rare interview to Datebook (the San Francisco Chronicle's Sunday arts supplement) on August 16th. It contains no startling revelations, but there are a few interesting insights. Vaughan went on to become a teacher, and in 1968 discussed the idea of opening an Apple school (as detailed in Derek Taylor's autobiography). He died after a lengthy struggle against Parkinson's disease in 1993. [With thanks to Richie Unterberger.]

Monday, 6 August 2012

THE COMMON PEOPLE: 'bordering at times on the psychedelic'

I'm delighted to post what I suspect are the only two contemporary articles ever written about the enigmatic Common People. Both come from the reliably mindblowing World Countdown, and appeared in the summer of 1969, to coincide with their fascinating album. The first seems simply to be a reproduction of Capitol's press release, while the second is a gushing interview by Dodie Smith, the paper's latter-day editor (who came from Liverpool, and appears to have vanished without trace). It's interesting to learn how explicitly Christian their world view was, having gone through a biker / garage phase before a 'spiritual type sojourn in the desert', where they 'existed on bread and water for long periods of time'. Most intriguing is the fact that they tore down their rehearsal space and put everything in it 'in an immense box which they had constructed, and buried it in the ground'. Enjoy!

World Countdown 6:3 (June 27th 1969)

World Countdown 6:4 (July 10th 1969)
Incidentally, the portrait of Denny is credited to Nik Raceivic, who went on to make some interesting electronic albums in the 70s...

Thursday, 26 July 2012

DENIS PRESTON: 'a smooth operator'

He's largely forgotten now, but in the 1960s Denis Preston (1916-79) was Britain's pre-eminent jazz producer and entrepreneur. He recorded innumerable albums at his own expense in his Lansdowne Studio in Holland Park, then licensed them to EMI and others through his Record Supervision company. Without him, there would probably be no albums by Rendell-Carr, Mike Taylor, Joe Harriott, Stan Tracey, Indo-Jazz Fusions, Amancio D'Silva, Guy Warren, Neil Ardley and many others. The same can't be said of any individual in any other genre, as far as I can think. There's barely info on him available, so I thought I'd post a couple of rare Melody Maker articles that fill in a bit of background.


First, a tribute by Ian Carr, published on May 18th 1968:




Second, a profile by Bob Houston, published on September 14th 1968:


Friday, 29 June 2012

TAMAM SHUD: "Sounds OK to me"

Whilst I admit to never having met anyone who likes it as much as me, it's no exaggeration to say that I think Goolutionites & The Real People by Tamam Shud is one of the best rock albums of the early 70s. I was amazed to find this article in Go-Set (Australia's main music paper of the time), dated July 4th 1970. Despite its optimistic predictions, the LP appeared in October and sank without trace.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

FRED NEIL: Where Is It All Going?

As well as being one of the most talented singer-songwriters to emerge from America's mid-60s folk boom, the late Fred Neil was the most reclusive. There's next to no footage of him, and no substantial interviews seem to exist. It was therefore a surprise to discover this insightful piece in the January 1966 issue of Hit Parader magazine. At the time he was still gigging around Greenwich Village, often with the Seventh Sons (sadly their innovative collaboration went unrecorded), and had yet to record his finest album, Fred Neil, which appeared at the end of the year.

Friday, 1 June 2012

FLASHBACK #1 now available for download!

Flashback issue #1 can now be quickly and easily downloaded via this link:

http://www.flashbackmag.com/DV/download.html

Contents include Mad River, David Axelrod, Fanny, Montage, the Beach Boys, 1950s psych, the 100 most under-rated guitarists of the 60s and 70s, detailed reviews and much more.

Enjoy!


Friday, 25 May 2012

APPLE: the original logos

In December 1967 the following black and white credit appeared on the inside back cover of the Magical Mystery Tour EP set:


This seems to be the first-ever stab at an Apple logo, and Marijke from the Fool has confirmed that it was not designed by them. Perhaps worried that it looked more like a greengage, the Beatles (or, most likely, Paul) soon decided to scrap it.

The ad below appeared in International Times of January 5th-19th 1968, and shows a new design, which was designed by the Fool:


On March 23rd Disc & Music Echo announced that the image was 'the symbol of Apple, the firm run by the Beatles':


It was also used for the cloth patches sewn into many of the swingin' clothes flogged / shoplifted from / given away in in the Apple Shop (which was open for six months from December 1967). Andrew Sandoval kindly supplied this example from his collection:


However - perhaps because the Fool's effort didn't look much like an apple either - by the time the company was publicly launched in May, a more sophisticated and enduring logo had been devised by John Kosh (under close supervision from Paul, of course).

THE BEATLES IN INDIA: some rare pictures

The Beatles went to India in February 1968. Here are some rare pictures of them there (with original captions), taken from Disc & Music Echo of April 6th and April 13th 1968. I'm not sure if they've been reprinted since, but I've certainly never seen them elsewhere. No photographer is credited, incidentally. I know that gluttony is a deadly sin, but it's frustrating to think that there must have been many more taken at the same time...

Not exactly a scene from a cowboys and Indians film, but this shock picture WAS taken in India! Beatle Paul took part in a Hindu colour-throwing festival called Holi. He smeared his face - and some of the other guests' faces - with coloured powder. It makes the most shocking Beatle picture ever. 
It happened in Rishikesh a short time ago... George, Paul & Donovan help Shah Jahan, son of Indian magician Gogia Pasha, as he completely stops his assistant's pulse. The picture was taken at the Maharishi's meditation centre.
Disc's exclusive picture shows Pattie with a birthday cake given to her by the Maharishi. The Beatle, in flowing white robes, and his wife have matching garlands of flowers round their necks. 
Exclusive Disc colour picture from India of the Beatles and friends at the Maharishi's meditation centre in Rishikesh. From left: George, Paul, Shah Jahan (who entertains the star guests), Donovan, Pattie Harrison, John and flautist friend Paul Horn.
Paul, who has never gone into the sitar-playing field with quite as much energy as George, took time to brush up with a few professional lessons during his Indian trip. Paul is seen here with a look that can only be described as avid concentration giving a private recital to girlfriend Jane Asher.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

THE ESCORTS: with a little help from Paul McCartney

I wrote last week that Paul McCartney's contribution to The Family Way soundtrack was 'the first solo musical project by a Beatle'. However, at much the same time he served as  producer on this little-known 45. The connection was with his old Liverpool friend Paddy Chambers, who'd been a member of bands including The Big Three and Paddy, Klaus & Gibson (with Klaus Voorman). Brian Epstein managed (or mismanaged) the latter, and following his death Chambers joined pop-soul combo The Escorts. From Head To Toe was a Miracles cover, and isn't especially interesting but for the fact that - as is made clear in the article below (from Record Mirror of November 19th 1966) - Paul had his hands all over it, despite not receiving a credit.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

JIMI HENDRIX: the first press reports

Jimi Hendrix arrived in the UK with Chas Chandler at 9:00 am on Saturday, September 24th 1966. He spent the ensuing month dazzling the former Animal's musical contemporaries, as well as joining forces with Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell and supporting Johnny Halliday in Paris. He recorded his debut single, Hey Joe, on October 23rd, and on October 29th the great UK music paper Record Mirror published the first ever article about him. Written by Richard Green, it has a dubious tone (Chandler: "he's coloured but he doesn't think like a coloured person"), calls him 'Jim Henrix' and slashes three years off his age - but it also makes it clear how much of a stir he was causing.


As well as continuing to wow London's hipsters, in November Hendrix signed to Track, played some shows in Germany, hung out with the Stones as they recorded Ruby Tuesday at Olympic (and with the Who as they recorded at IBC), and began taping what would become Are You Experienced. On November 25th he spoke to Peter Jones, also of Record Mirror, and the resulting interview - his first - appeared on December 10th. By this time it was obvious that he was destined for major stardom, as the headline made clear:


Hey Joe / Stone Free was released a week later, on December 16th. It got rave reviews in the Christmas editions of the music papers and climbed to #6 in the British charts. As Chandler had predicted to Jones, Hendrix did indeed end the year 'a sensational success'.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

RAW MATERIAL: 'new musical directions'

In the course of assembling Galactic Ramble and Flashback, I've trawled a huge number of British music mags and papers. Very few bands seem to have received no press whatsoever, but the impressive Raw Material are one. Indeed (as far as I'm aware), they're one of the few remaining bands of the late 60s / early 70s who have yet to resurface and tell their tale.

Attached below is the only info about them I've ever encountered. I'll also post the only ads that I've found, to promote their October 1970 debut LP (and extracted 45) and their November 1971 Time Is LP. These snippets offer the bare bones of their history, but there is of course much left to be discovered. As ever, if you know more, please get in touch...




Having signed to the tiny Evolution label, their debut 45, Time & Illusion / Bobo's Party appeared in the autumn of 1969. Their second effort, Hi There Hallelujah / Days Of The Fighting Cock appeared in the spring of 1970. Here's a press ad for it:



In May Evolution sent out this press release and bio to promote their third 45, Traveller Man Parts 1 & 2:




Here's the scarce German picture sleeve for that release:


Their debut album appeared in the UK in December 1970. Here's an ad for it:



A few months later they cropped up in a Marshall advertising supplement in Sounds, dated May 1st 1971:


Their second and final album appeared in November 1971:


This article appeared in Sounds of May 27th 1972, and is clearly an incomplete reprint of a press release. I suspect they'd split by then.


If anyone knows more, please get in touch!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

FLASHBACK MAGAZINE #1 available now!

The first issue of Flashback is available as of this week, and can be seen and bought by clicking here.

- 212 pages 
- Full-colour
- Rare images 
- Exclusive interviews
- Original research 

Contents include:

- Mad River
- David Axelrod
- Linda Hoyle & Affinity
- Montage
- Beach Boys
- Fanny
- 1950s psychedelia 
- 100 under-rated guitarists of the 60s and 70s

Friday, 11 May 2012

PAUL McCARTNEY & The Tudor Minstrels

In the autumn of 1966 the Beatles had just finished touring, Revolver was in the shops, and the boys were having a break. George was getting to grips with the sitar in India, John was filming How I Won The War in Spain, Ringo was knocking around (and visiting John on set), and Paul was setting up house in St. John's Wood, as well as immersing himself in London's underground. He'd also let NEMS know that he would like to write some film music, so when the opportunity arose to compose for the comedy drama The Family Way, he brewed up a couple of tunes - the strident Theme From The Family Way and the pretty Love In The Open Air (click here to hear it). They were duly arranged by George Martin and recorded by studio musicians in time for a soundtrack album to appear on Decca in December. Having assured Martin that they had no intention of extracting a 45, Decca cheekily did just that, crediting it to The Tudor Minstrels (a nod to the Boulting Brothers' company, Tudor Films). By this time Martin had recorded different versions of both tracks to be released on United Artists, so the singles ended up competing with each other. Hey-ho, both flopped, as did the LP.

The Tudor Minstrels disc certainly makes for pleasant listening, and can be called the first solo musical project by a Beatle (albeit not actually featuring one). It carries sole writing credits for Paul, even though John helped with Love In The Open Air. Incidentally, the 45 that UA released in October 1967 to tie in with How I Won The War doesn't feature any Lennon involvement, despite being credited to his character in the film.

Here's the full story behind Paul's work on The Family Way:


Also on December 24th 1966, Eric Clapton reviewed the Tudor Minstrels' 45 thus (as part of Melody Maker's weekly Blind Date feature):

Monday, 7 May 2012

JOHN FAULKNER

The following comment was left earlier today by someone called John Faulkner, regarding my recent post about Simon Finn. Unfortunately Google put it straight into the 'spam' file, so I'll post it here.

'Perhaps if you were even one third as successful as Graham Cross, then you would save your "cheesy" comments for the lavatory wall - which is where they belong. We all "cut corners" hahaha. To use an overworked saying, get a life, and let those who know better than you get on with theirs. By the way your blog sucks.'

Friday, 20 April 2012

SIMON FINN: a mystery

On March 27th an eBay seller named echo*beach sold a copy of Simon Finn's Pass The Distance, complete with its insert, for £183 to a member named rememberthethetis. The insert, however, had what the seller described as 'a diagonal cut on the top left' and 'what appear to be signatures across the three band members'. Here's his picture:


Barely a week later, another eBay seller named xxxrecords sold a copy of Simon Finn's Pass The Distance, complete with its insert, for £399. Bizarrely, this time round the insert had the same signatures as the other copy, but the lower right-hand corner was also missing. Here's his picture:


The description contained no reference to the insert having writing on it or a corner chopped off. Now, xxxrecords is renowned for his meticulous interest in being precise in his listings, and for carrying out painstaking research into his items, so he clearly believed this insert with his copy to be complete and untampered with. Therefore this question arises: are there three different variants of the Simon Finn insert? One that is square with no signatures, one that has signatures but the top left corner missing, and one with signatures and both the top left and bottom right corners missing?

By the way, here's the insert with no corners missing:


UPDATE: The eBay username rememberthethetis was torpedoed by its owner very shortly after this post appeared. He has now switched to another username.