Amoeblog

Tuba's, Urban Spacemen and the Bonzos

Posted by Whitmore, August 2, 2007 10:35am | Post a Comment

I've never met a man I didn't mutilate. I only wish I had said that first.
I might be happier today.

A funny thing happened on the way to listening to some Bonzo Dog Band vinyl. I think I’ve finally found an answer to the ol’ question “When did the attitudes of the free wheelin’ 60’s shift in the 70’s, and is there an exact date when it was nailed into the proverbial American forehead?” I think the answer lies in the sound of a tuba.

Side Note: not only am I something of a record geek, I’m also a closeted history geek, and I kind of believe in what philosopher George Santayana once said: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to have it shoved up their friggin’ asses!” (Okay, maybe it didn’t go quite like that)

Of course there was a difference between the late 60’s and the early 70’s. Perhaps not a great defining difference (at least not until disco hit big), but let’s say as different as “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” compared to “Blue Bonnet” margarine, or olive oil to canola oil. Actually ignore that part. But there was a slight imperceptible change in attitude somewhere early on in the 70’s and I believe I‘ve uncovered, for my thesis, the linchpin date.

Of course it just dawned on me not everyone knows The Bonzo Dog Band. Created in the early 1960’s by British art-school students (art school, where all great bands begin!) the Bonzos started out playing mostly traditional jazz, early century novelty and British music hall songs.

Later they combined those elements with rock, adding touches of psychedelia and dadaism to confound the public at large. They released about 4 or 5 albums, and toured the US with The Who and The Kinks. Eventually they were aligned with Monty Python's Flying Circus, having met several future members on the set of the children's television show, Do Not Adjust Your Set, where the Bonzo’s were the resident house band. They disbanded in 1970 but had one reunion album released in 1972. There you have it … in a nutshell.

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July 30th

Posted by Whitmore, July 30, 2007 07:16pm | Post a Comment

Yes, brothers and sisters, it’s time once again to dry clean that Nehru jacket, re-string those beads …  on this date in 1968, the Apple Boutique closed due to extreme financial difficulties. Once located at 94 Baker Street, on the corner of Paddington and Baker in London, the Boutique was one of the first business ventures, albeit unsuccessful, made by The Beatles and Apple Corps. Paul described the Apple Boutique as "A beautiful place where you could buy beautiful things." The staff included Pattie Harrison's sister, Jennie, and Peter Shotton (He played the washboard in the Quarry Men and also, according to legend, helped Lennon with the lyrics to “I am the Walrus.” Shotton also co-authored the book The Beatles, Lennon and Me.

 

Tuesday morning, July 30, the staff was instructed to give away everything for free. Word quickly hit the streets. Within hours, an onslaught of buzzards attacked the store, picking it clean to the bone: shelves and livelihoods were trashed, plundered, and gutted by several hundred rabid and rioting patrons. Oh, the humanity! The night before, some of the Beatles and their wives and girlfriends paid their last respects to the ailing boutique and, before pulling the plug, grabbed what they wanted. And why not? The previous September the Beatles paid a Dutch trio known as “The Fool” (Seemon Posthuma, Josje Leeger and Marijke Koeger) over 100,000 pounds to design and stock the store.   

Ron Miller

Posted by Whitmore, July 28, 2007 08:50pm | Post a Comment

This week legendary Motown songwriter Ron Miller died at age 74.


The Associated Press obituary:

Songwriter Ron Miller, whose tunes included pop classics "Touch Me in the Morning" and "For Once in My Life," has died. Miller died Monday of cardiac arrest at Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center after a long battle with emphysema and cancer, he was 74.

Miller got his professional start in the music business in the 1960s, when Motown founder Berry Gordy saw him perform at a piano bar and invited him to Detroit as one of the label's first songwriters and record producers. His songs have been recorded by many leading artists, including Judy Garland, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross and Ray Charles. "For Once in My Life," written with Orlando Murden, is one of the most recorded songs in history, with more than 270 versions, according to All Music Guide. A rendition by Tony Bennett and Stevie Wonder won a Grammy award this year. In 2005, Charles' and Gladys Knight's version of Miller's "Heaven Help Us All" picked up the best gospel performance Grammy.

Born in Chicago, Miller was a die-hard Cubs fan, who wrote his first sad song as a child about his beloved but hapless team, his daughter said. Before meeting Gordy at the piano bar, Miller made ends meet by selling washing machines and taking odd jobs. He served in the Marines, as well, and was stationed all over the world. Throughout the 1970s, Miller wrote the book and lyrics to many musicals, including "Daddy Goodness" and "Cherry," based on William Inge's "Bus Stop." Barbra Streisand recorded "I've Never Been A Woman Before," from the musical, for her "The Way We Were" album.

"My father will be reborn every time someone sings one of his songs," Lisa Dawn Miller said. "When they feel joy or sadness or any emotion, that will be my dad and his words." Miller is survived by his wife, Aurora Miller, and six children. Here is a list of some of his songs:

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July 27th

Posted by Whitmore, July 27, 2007 12:35pm | Post a Comment

Here is an odd assortment of events that happened on this day in history, July 27th.

Charlotte Corday, the assassin of Jean-Paul Marat 1768, is born as is the great Leo Durocher, 1906, manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants.

Vocalist, producer and songwriter, Harvey Fuqua is born 1929, Doc Pomus in 1925 and Bobbie Gentry in 1944.



In 1586 Sir Walter Raleigh brings the first tobacco to England from Virginia, of course 30 years later his last reported words before being beheaded were "Strike man, strike!", I always thought he was trying to light a match. In 1977 John Lennon is granted a green card for permanent residence in the good ol’ US of A. In 1990 Zsa Zsa Gabor begins her 3 day jail sentence for slapping a cop after he stopped her for a traffic violation. In 1991 TV Guide publishes it's 2000th edition. If you hurry, there’s a copy on Ebay right now available for a $1.50! And also in 1991 Warrant lead singer Jani Lane marries model Bobbie Brown in Los Angeles, oh that cherry pie! In 2001, tenor saxophonist, educator, and local jazz icon, Harold Land, dies after a stroke at the age of 73 in Los Angeles. And in 2002 The Who's bassist John Entwistle, 57 years of age, is found dead in his Las Vegas hotel room. He had cocaine in his system, and the death is ruled accidental.

scattered to the winds

Posted by Whitmore, July 26, 2007 01:50pm | Post a Comment

Scattered … That’s where I am these days, early July. Completely to the wind all up and down the west coast.

If I’m not in the middle of packing up some 350 boxes of household items, toys, records, and books, and moving from an island in the Puget Sound back to my native Los Angeles, I ‘m sitting in a van doing a small tour back up the coast to the northwest with the band Listing Ship, this schedule is hell.

(We've been waiting on the uber-semi-truck filled with 11,000 pounds of personal possessions, finally it arrived, I bid a big hello to the movers and all my newly-arrived-to-LA crap … found a change of clothes, found some musical gear, kissed goodbye my wife and son and hit the 5 Freeway North in a cargo van with six other band members, first gig tomorrow night. It’s hardly a coincidence my life is so scattered. “Can I self-medicate now, please, Doctor, sir, please?”)

Truthfully ...  (yet not exactly), the biggest excuse for not getting around to this post until now -- ostensibly about my favorite subject, 7 inch 45’s, (I had promised something blog-like for the good people at Amoeba almost two weeks ago) -- touring was the first dent in responsibility, but the installation of the magic window that is cable TV in our new rental and just in time for the Tour de France was actually the culprit.

For me, July is inevitably about my birthday, BBQ’ed sausages on the 4th (just meat--none of this mango/pesto/tofu crap, save those ingredients for a smoothie) and bicycle racing in France. My money for the 2007 Tour was on Alexandre Vinokourov. He would have been my choice to win the Tour last year but his old team, Astana-Würth, was ripped to shreds after five of its riders were implicated in the “Operación Puerto” doping case and scandal, leaving Vinokourov with only three teammates and not even a pot to piss in (pun intended). Last year in 2006 Vinokourov wasn't implicated in the doping scandal, however as of this morning all that has changed. On Tuesday Alexandre Vinokourov tested positive for a banned blood transfusion after winning last Saturday’s time trial, prompting him and his team Astana to pull out of the 2007 Tour de France. I’m broken hearted once again. “So it ain’t so Vino.”

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