The Beatles at the Chicago International Ampitheater

50 years ago today, the Beatles took to the Chicago stage. This was no ordinary concert; in fact it was one of the most bizarre shows that Beatles reporter Larry Kane had ever seen! How many time have YOU seen cuts of beef thrown at a concert? Larry recounts his experience in his book, Ticket to Ride:

Chicago: What a city! Clean, organized, another great American melting pot, glistening on the shores of Lake Michigan and, with its great Midwestern flair, absolutely ready for the Beatles.

The flight from Milwaukee was the shortest on both tours, but we didn’t land where we expected. Scheduled to land at O’Hare Airport, the American Flyer’s turboprop touched down instead at Midway Airport. But the airport switch didn’t fool several thousand fans who had 00128670been alerted by a local radio station. The Beatles, all nursing sore throats and looking wan and exhausted, moved quickly down the steps to the waiting limousines. Our motorcade moved swiftly to the Stockyard Inn, a restaurant famous for its steaks. The inn was an old building with a variety of rooms. Four of us from the press corps enjoyed a meal down the hall from the Beatles’ private dining room. For once, we got to avoid the hot dogs and French fries of the concert halls.

It was looking like a pretty good day in Beatle-land until we arrived at the stage entrance to the Chicago International Amphitheater, which was adjacent to the restaurant. By September 5, it was obvious that jelly- beans, stuffed animals, flowers and stick pins were the most likely objects to fly in the direction of the Beatles. But how often do you get struck in the chest by a slice of raw filet mignon thrown by a young hurler in the tenth row? At least Paul McCartney saw the beef missile coming at him and avoided the surprise, if not the impact.

Correspondent Art Schreiber remembers the beef incident: “McCartney was just standing there, doing his thing, when the meat hit the left side of his jacket, splattering a bit of beef juice but falling to the floor, where George sort of kicked it out of the way. The most dumbfounded of all was Ringo, who stretched his neck out over the microphones on the drums to see what the hell it was. It was funny, and it was weird.”

The kids in the crowd were too occupied shrieking and crying and pulling their hair out to see the UFO (unusual flying object). In the crowd, people like Barbara Singer were swooning with delight:

“I had just turned fourteen. Miraculously, my father managed to snare a pair of tenth-row tickets to that concert for my sixteen-year-old sister and me. My sister and I were ecstatic when we took our seats on the night of the show. We were so close to the stage that we could almost touch the microphones that had been set out in front for John, Paul and George. The air was thick with anticipation as we waited impatiently for the music to begin. Finally, the Beatles took the stage to a chorus of screams thirteen thousand strong. My sister joined the frenetic crowd and began to shriek loudly into my right ear. I realized with dismay that the pandemonium around me was drowning out the sounds coming from the stage. Frantically, I begged my sister to stop screaming so that I could hear the Beatles. My pleas fell on deaf ears. My sister continued to squeal with the crowd throughout the set. Fortunately, somewhere between ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ and ‘Twist and Shout,’ my sister overcame her frenzy just long enough to take a photo of the Fab Four with her Instamatic camera. We still have treasured copies of that singular snapshot, reminding us of the great- est concert that we never heard!”

Barbara’s sister and the thousands around her provided us with the loudest reaction yet to the Beatles. The amphitheater was small, and the screaming seemed to resonate as if it were projected into a canyon. I heard not a word of lyrics. I did get an eyeful of Beatles— though I had to venture into the crowd to get it. But soon I found myself pinned between the crowd and the stage. The situation was so very tight that I had no choice but to stand in place and watch. It actually turned out to be a wonderful opportunity to take in the scene. Here are my notes, which I scribbled on the plane later that night:

“Ringo. Beating the drums so hard. Wonder how he can hear what’s going on with the crowd noise. He keeps on putting the stick to the drums. Looks around. Smiling. George kicks the slab of meat off the stage. McCartney and Lennon face-to-face, cheek-to-cheek, almost in perfect harmony on “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.” Girl behind me puts arms over my shoulders, reaching out to try and grab Paul’s shoes. Her face is pressed against the strap of the tape recorder. Cop has arms spread out to prevent movement toward stage. Paul looks down at me with an expression that reads, “What are YOU doing down there?” He smiles. Wonder if I’ll make the motorcade or get squeezed to death here. Breathing difficult. Sweating loads. Girl in rear crying. Is it pain or pleasure? “Hard Days Night” playing. This was a hard night. Being in the middle, between Beatles and fans, makes me feel closer to it—what- ever “it” is. Clarence Frogman Henry is standing near the stage, taking it in. When “Hard Days Night” is over, I start pushing and shoving to get out, but some private guard holds me back. I move to the other side and reach rear entrance. No chances here. I get to the cars before the Beatles. Neil brings boys to limo. Ringo jokes about flying meat. Derek looks pissed. Hope I never see this place again. It’s too hot and sticky.”

Coming this Fall – 108 Rock Star Guitars

Jack White - 1963/64 Airline Guitar

Hal Leonard Books will release a softcover edition of 108 Rock Star Guitars by photographer/author Lisa S. Johnson on November 11, 2014. This exquisite book, originally issued as an embossed, red leatherette-bound hardcover in limited quantity that USA Today called, “…a monster of a coffee table book…” will now be available to a much wider audience at a more affordable retail price of $54.

Hailed as “impressive,” “jaw-dropping,” “masterpiece” and “elegant” by media and artists alike when it was released in October 2013, 108 Rock Star Guitars received widespread accolades for its overall design and the artistry of the images—up-close portraits of the cherished guitars belonging to some of the world’s most iconic players. American Photo magazine named it one of the “Best Photo Books of the Year” for 2013, while Brian Setzer called it, “The classiest guitar book I have ever seen.”

Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, Jimmy Page, Keith Richards, Jeff Beck, Nancy Wilson, Bonnie Raitt, Slash, Carlos Santana, Jack White, Ronnie Wood, Lou Reed, Ace Frehley, Billy Gibbons, Don Felder, Joe Walsh, Robby Krieger, Willie Nelson, Johnny Winter, and Les Paul, who also wrote the foreword, are among the rock stars whose instruments are featured.

The softcover, with French flaps, includes many of the same features of the original book in a slightly smaller size (9”x10.5”): 396 pages, 486 gorgeous color images, reproduced using a six-color printing process, on high quality paper, and cover art that replicates the hardcover’s award-winning design.

“I am thrilled that Hal Leonard, with its global distribution channels, will publish the softcover edition of 108 Rock Star Guitars,” Johnson commented. “Even at a lower price, it was essential that this version maintained the style and beautiful quality of the hardcover edition, and I think anyone who sees this book will appreciate the care and detail that went into the new presentation.”

 

In 108 Lisa Johnson by Ewasko TIFF format (135 of 229)Rock Star Guitars, Johnson’s extreme close-up images capture the intimate details of her six-string subjects in a fresh and distinctive way revealing the beauty and art in these magnificent instruments, and giving insight into the personality of the musicians who play them. Additionally, she provides personal anecdotes describing her 17-year quest to photograph these guitars and documents her travels from the backstage hallways of some of the world’s most famous venues to the artists’ private homes.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lisa S. Johnson grew up in an artistic family, where she fell in love with melody and imagery and pursued a career in photography. After a successful 10-year stint working at Eastman Kodak, she met the owner of a vintage guitar shop in Memphis, Tenn., and began exclusively photographing guitars. She lives in Las Vegas.

 

Win Bill Wyman’s Framus Star Bass

Contest Slide 770x420Guitar Player and Rolling Stones Gear have teamed up to give you a chance to Win the Brands of the Rolling Stones! Now you can own some of the major brands of equipment the Rolling Stones played including Fender, Martin, Framus, Zemaitis, Gretsch, and Vox in this exciting new sweepstakes! They are also giving away the new book Rolling Stones Gear: All the Stones’ Instruments from Stage to Studio by Andy Babiuk and Greg Prevost. Now you have a chance to win this stunning Framus bass! Andy and Greg wrote about Bill’s decision to play a Framus in Rolling Stones Gear.

 

BILL WYMAN’S FRAMUS STAR BASS

During August and September, the group began doing more shows on the ballroom circuit. Crowd hysteria and chaos grew with their popularity. Bill was no longer comfortable using his customized fretless Dallas Tuxedo bass onstage, fearing that it might be damaged or, worse yet, stolen. So, he went to the Art Nash music shop in Penge on September 2 and purchased a Framus Star F5/150 bass. He 152147-FR05150 STARB SH V11remembered: “I decided to buy a new bass guitar. I helped finance my purchase by selling my old bass cabinet and amp to Tony Chapman for £25. He had put together a new band with Steve Carroll and some friends. They called themselves the Preachers.”

On why he decided to go with a Framus Star bass, he explained: “I never really settled on
anything. About the only thing around at that 
time that was suitable was a Framus Star—you know, with the big cherry body. I played it
 upright because it was still quite a long guitar and 
my arms are short as well. I found it physically 
easier to stretch up and down than sideways. I
 played one of those up through 1968. I tried a 
few Vox guitars, some Gibsons, and various
 Fenders, because of the sound. The boys always 
used to say, ‘Why don’t you try a Fender—you
 get a really good sound and it’s easy to record 
and all that. I would agree, but I could not play
 the bloody things. I tried the Mustang, the
 smaller version, and there were a couple more I
 can’t remember. I actually did an album with the
 Mustang, though I can’t remember which one.
 After that I tried a Gibson for onstage, but the 
bottom strings were really dull sounding.” He
added that, “It was better for what we were doing then. My bass [the Dallas] was wonderful for the blues—you know the real down-home, earthy blues—, because I got a fantastic sound with that. When I went on to the Star Bass, it became more R&B, when the Stones became more R&B as well. I got that in the when we started to do ballrooms. The endorsement came after we started to become popular.”

Bill’s Framus Star F5/150 bass was a single-cutaway, 18-inch wide, thin hollow body with two white-bound ƒ-holes. The bass was finished in a red-to-black sunburst and had white binding, two pickups, and a black pickguard, on which the Framus logo was embossed in white. The white volume and tone controls were mounted directly on the pickguard instead of the body of the bass. The adjustable bridge was made of rosewood, with a Framus trapezes tailpiece engraved with “Star Bass.” The bass was fitted with a very thin, multi-laminated, long-scale, bolt-on neck with a bound rosewood fingerboard and a two-per-side headstock with white plastic-shaft tuning pegs.

Fred Wilfer founded Framus in Germany in 1946, at first concentrating on acoustic instruments. By 1954, Framus had started adding pickups to their guitars and was making thin body, semi-acoustic guitars and basses by 1958. Framus was known for their multi-laminated necks and their unique pickups and electronic designs. With the help of the escalating beat boom, the instruments became very popular and were distributed in Great Britain through the London-based Dallas company.

Bill first used his Framus Star bass on stage the same
day he bought it, at Studio 51, the group’s Monday 
evening residency. He remembered, “That night I used it
at Studio 51 and had to admit it was much better than my
homemade bass.” He used it for the first time on television when the Stones mimed “Come On” on ABC-TVs “Lucky Stars Summer Spin,” which was filmed on September 8, 1963, and aired on September 14.

A Very Verdi Fall

This Autumn, Amadeus Press will release Verdi: The Operas and Choral Works as part of the Unlocking the Masters Series. Read this glowing, exclusive excerpt from the introduction of the book below.

Verdi and the Culmination of Italian Opera

Sooner or later we learn that in this world popularity and quality do not go hand in hand—far from it, in fact. But in the case of Verdi, they do. Giuseppe Verdi, probably the most popular operatic composer of all, brought Italian opera to its peak, single-handedly saving and reanimating this beloved musical genre for the better part of a century. Italian opera of the 1840s, when Verdi came on the scene, was a hodge- podge of formulas spun out by mostly forgotten composers who were at the mercy of fickle audiences, self-promoting singers, and impresarios whose chief personal quality was greed. A few fine composers—Rossini, Bellini, and Donizetti—had by their individuality and hard work carved out niches for themselves, achieving popularity that spread beyond Italy, over Europe, and across the Atlantic. But with the arrival of ambitious new ideas about musical drama, chiefly those of Wagner, German opera had become the avant-garde, what the cool kids, even in Italy, wanted to see. While even the finest works by Italians still sounded beautiful, they were rarely daring. With his musical and dramatic genius and force of character, Verdi gave Italian opera’s tired conventions new life, while continually raising its standards, ultimately adding sixteen indestructible operas (of the twenty-eight he composed) to the repertory.

Verdi’s music combines lyricism with power, helping it reach its vast and well-deserved popularity. His operas grab you by the throat, demanding your attention and making submission to their beauty and force your only course. They’re not always subtle, but that’s not generally a quality associated with Italian opera. Verdi refined his style continually, though, and his final opera, Falstaff, is nothing if not subtle. Opera, the Italian variety in particular, may be unsubtle, but it is the best musical formfor the direct expression of emotions, at which it is unsurpassed. By any analysis, it’s one of the most important limbs of the Western musical tree; you can perhaps think of it as standing opposite to German-Austrian instrumental music, which runs to the abstract and intellectual. German opera, the fruit of the romantic era, is moody, grandiose, often mystical. But the goals of Italian opera are the expression of emotions, often in showy ways, and sheer entertainment.

To say that opera in Italy fills a much wider position in the national culture than it does in 00118902the United States seems a truism; it’s also safe to say that nothing in American culture, where the boundaries between “high” and “low” are written in stone, is analogous to opera in Italy, where it’s accepted by millions as an essential element of their upbringing and national heritage. While Americans and others seem irritated or amused up to a point, or bored by opera; others feel intimidated, and many seem to be put off by its artificiality. But of course, placed in the proper light, any art—and any sport—can appear unnatural. There’s more than a bit of blood sport in being an opera fan in Italy, where fine performances are cheered, and bad ones booed enthusiastically; and where the ability of tenors and sopranos to execute fast passagework and hit high notes with ease and power—or their failure to do so—are applauded or condemned vigorously during performances. Verdi’s popularity in Italy arises, as we’ll see, not only from his role as perhaps Italy’s greatest composer, but also as a symbol of the national spirit during the unification struggles of the mid-nineteenth century.

Opera’s noble purpose is to say in music what everyone feels—no more, no less. The big solo numbers, or arias, typically express an emo- tion that the character is experiencing. In a duet, each character’s emotion should be clarified and heightened by the music. Termed affects, these are the feelings we’ve all known from early in our own lives: happiness, grief, anger, fear, and all the others. (It seems curious that opera should not gain a wider response in an age and a society in which open emotional expression is accorded high value.) By Verdi’s time, emphasis had begun to shift toward the expression of more complex psychological and dramatic truth, an art Verdi excelled at and brought to transcendent levels of mimesis.

The voice dominates Italian opera, and it is the dominant element of Verdi’s style. His works are written for singers, who at best inhabit their roles and hope to become known as great Lady Macbeths, Rigolettos, or Aidas. Verdi’s mastery of the orchestra was immense, as well, and three of the operatic overtures (Luisa Miller, I vespri siciliani, and La forza del destino) are played in the concert hall. With the exception of a few piano fantasies on Verdian themes by Franz Liszt, there are no suites of material lifted from the operas and played by the orchestra without a singer: the idea itself is preposterous. The opposite holds true for Verdi’s contempo- rary and fellow operatic titan Richard Wagner, whose music has always been excerpted and transcribed for orchestra without voice, and Wagner’s music generally stands up well to the treatment. Verdi came to maturity in an era in which the bel canto style dominated; the phrase means “beautiful singing,” and it’s characterized by elaborate and difficult vocal parts, with lots of high notes for the high voices and decoration of all vocal parts. The voice is what’s on display in bel canto operas, and much of what singers are asked to do requires not only vocal power, but also agility and subtlety. The popularity of singers in Italy, entirely comparable to that of professional athletes, typically rewards those who have mastered this difficult style of singing. As we’ll see, some of Verdi’s operas display bel canto characteristics, though he came into his prime as the style was losing its hold on the public. But even if he had been born a few years earlier, his development as a composer of musical drama would have strained the inherent limitations of the style.

 

But there is more for all of you Verdi fans! This October, Amadeus Press will also release Verdi’s Operas, which studies in detail each of Verdi’s 26 operas, from Oberto to Falstaff. Visit the website for more information about this publication.

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Q&A with Harvey Kubernik (Part 2)

Here is Part 2 of an interview with Harvey Kubernik, author of Leonard Cohen: Everybody Knows at Heck of a Guy — The Other Leonard Cohen Site.

00126365Q: Of all the stories you’ve heard through the years about Leonard Cohen, which strikes you as the most moving? funniest?A: To this day I still find it strange and funny, and still can’t comprehend on some level that in 1967 Leonard Cohen had a full length mirror in the Columbia recording studio so he could watch himself play and sing during his initial LP sessions. If he got lost in the creative process he could employ the mirror to keep him on track or remember lyrics or chords.

I also found the quotes from Nick Cave on Leonard very moving. In the mid-eighties I produced a Nick Cave spoken word reading at the Lhasa Club in Hollywood and we talked about Leonard Cohen around settlement. We were all in same frame game together. The impact an early Cohen LP had on him four decades ago was immense.

Q: You wrote that “this book is neither definitive nor encyclopedic.” How did you decide which content made it into Everybody Knows and which didn’t make the cut?A: Many of the choices were influenced by the supportive working relationship that developed among myself,  publisher Colin Webb, and UK editor  James Hodgson.  After I put together a formal proposal with areas of interest and interview subjects, we had many discussions. Both Colin and James were easy to work with. They were pleased to see names that had never been in a Cohen book and often emailed me about getting a photo to accompany a given quote or section of text. Sometime a photo would trigger a text to be written or a pull quote or a sidebar I would want inserted. Or they would ask if I was interviewing someone and I’d respond, ‘just ran tape on them.’

I also made the musicians a top priority way over the women or lovers in Leonard’s life, none of whom I even spoke to. It wasn’t that sort of biographical examination. If organically something is revealed, fine. But on this Cohen book I felt Leonard’s creative life needed to be re-defined partially by my own hand-picked west coast team of friends and musical associates as well as worldwide interview quotes I gathered to inform the text and enhance the visuals. “This is not your father’s Oldsmobile.”

After my brother Kenneth, my regional editor, reviewed the initial large sections, he made some first look observations, namely that my manuscript had to be condensed from 100,000 words to 60,000. That was a stressful and exhausting process for me. You edit alone.

Authors, including Andrew Loog Oldham, gave me some important interior editing tips. Poets and writers Harry E. Northup and Jimm Cushing provided especially helpful feedback, reinforcing that the new data and photos were as potent as I hoped.

I wouldn’t have bled for this book if its pages didn’t contain extraordinary, important insights and observations.

Any major Leonard Cohen project demands certain essential voices and interview subjects. There are, as well, specific subjects and a biographical chronology the reader has to know. That being acknowledged, it was my responsibility to incorporate these obligatory elements with new material to create a portrait of the man from a unique perspective.

There is a bit of redundancy, such as citations and quotes from other publications, but as UCLA basketball coach John R. Wooden once explained to me, life, like hoops, is a game of repetition – as long as it moves the ball to the basket it’s OK.

View the rest of the interview HERE!

Listen: Cary Ginell on Inside Art

Cary Ginell spent a half-hour with Dave Drexler on “Inside Art” on KSDS in San Diego talking about The Evolution of Mann. Cary never lets us down with his great interviews. Give it a listen!

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>>LISTEN HERE<<

More than any other musician, Herbie Mann was responsible for establishing the flute as an accepted jazz instrument. Prior to his arrival, the flute was a secondary instrument for saxophonists, but Mann found a unique voice for the flute, presenting it in different musical contexts, beginning with Afro-Cuban, and then continuing with music from Brazil, the Middle East, the Caribbean, Japan, and Eastern Europe. As Mann once said, “People would say to me, ‘I don’t know where you are right now,’ and I would respond, ‘And you’re not going to know where I’m going to be tomorrow.’” A self-described restless spirit, Herbie Mann also was a master at marketing himself. His insatiable curiosity about the world led him to experiment with different kinds of sounds, becoming a virtual Pied Piper of jazz. He attracted thousands to his concerts while alienating purists and critics alike. His career lasted for five decades, from his beginnings in a tiny Brooklyn nightclub to appearances on international stages. “I want to be as synonymous with the flute as Benny Goodman is for the clarinet,” he was fond of saying. By the time he died of prostate cancer in 2003, he had fulfilled his desire.

Q & A with Harvey Kubernik

Harvey Kubernik met up with One Heck of a Guy for a long interview about his new book, Leonard Cohen: Everybody Knows. Stay tuned for part 2 of the interview later this week!

 

Music means everything because it informs everything if you let it. ~ Harvey Kubernik

Harvey Kubernik is to music journalism what Shane Battier was to Duke basketball. Harvey is also one of the few individuals likely to read this post who will understand that analogy without an explanation: Harvey and Shane have achieved distinction in their respective fields because of their hard work, energy, enthusiasm, dedication, perseverance, and commitment. They are both hustlers.

00126365Harvey Kubernik is the kind of guy who knows 97% of the individuals associated with popular music and knows folks who know everybody in that other 3%. During his 40+ years career, he has authored six books, including This Is Rebel Music (2002), Canyon of Dreams: The Magic and the Music of Laurel Canyon (2009), and, most recently, Turn Up the Radio! Rock, Pop and Roll in Los Angeles 1956-1972. He has written liner notes for Carole King and Allen Ginsberg, appeared on documentaries about Bobby Womack and Queen, collaborated with Brian Wilson on a limited edition volume, and published multiple articles in Melody Maker, The Los Angeles Free Press, Crawdaddy!, Musician, Record Collector, Goldmine, MIX, The Los Angeles Times, MOJO, Discoveries, UNCUT, Music Life, Classic Rock, HITS, and Record Collector News. In addition, he has worked as a broadcaster, producer, and musician.

Harvey has a knack for turning up in the right place at the right time. He was, for example, in the studio during some of the sessions of the Leonard Cohen-Phil Spector collaboration that spawned Death Of A Ladies’ Man. That experience resulted in two classic Harvey Kubernik articles: What Happened When Phil Spector Met Leonard Cohen? and The Great Ones Never Leave. They Just Sit It Out Once In A While.

Most significantly for our purposes, Harvey Kubernik is the author of Leonard Cohen: Everybody Knows, which I described in my review of the book as “either the most textually substantive coffee table book ever published or the most lavishly illustrated narrative about a Canadian poet-novelist-singer-songwriter-icon on the market” and the subject of today’s Q&A.

THE HARVEY KUBERNIK Q&A

How did you come to write this book about Leonard Cohen?
A couple of years ago I was contacted by Colin Webb of Palazzo Editions, an England-based book company and packager. He has read my three interviews I conducted with Leonard from the mid and late-seventies, and was mulling over a Leonard Cohen book. He was preparing a sample text which would include all my archive quotes along with photos for a presentation at a book fair he was visiting.

Colin asked me for permission to utilize my archive, and, if things went further, would I be receptive to writing a book on Leonard? A year later his name showed up on my computer screen and we put it in motion. I did stress the aspect of a multi-voice narrative for the book and he was receptive.

How would you describe the readers you view as the primary audience for Leonard Cohen: Everybody Knows?
That’s a good question but early in the game, like a basketball match, before the opening tip off, I decided it would be a book I wanted to do for myself. Yes, it would be geared a bit to readers who already know lots of things about Leonard’s work, books, recordings and his road work, as well as the uninitiated, or new potential readers who might have just Greatest Hits package or checked him out only after hearing ‘Hallelujah” in some capacity.

Always ticking just a little in the back of my mind are the hardcore collectors and “Cohen Heads,” including website principals, previous Cohen book authors and pop music history book buffs that I knew would relish the information and data I would present.

Why even bother with the gig if I don’t deliver some new “voices” and observations as well as photos with visuals never displayed before. For a well-documented artist like Leonard Cohen I know I tossed in plenty of three-point baskets.

Even without this Cohen book scheduled. I have written and conducted interviews for decades without formal assignments or the security of publication. I like the education, the fun, the struggle, and the results. The last ten years book publishers have come to me about potential titles and suggestions for books. They are also mining Los Angeles and Hollywood for literary subjects or regional studies and not exclusively possessed or obsessed with New York subject matter or New York authors.

Secretly a lot of publishers and literary agents love and worship the lore and lure of L.A. and Hollywood, but most won’t admit it, let alone fund it. But the literary game has now changed and I’m in the league as team Kubernik.

View the rest of the interview HERE!