rolling stone magazine

Flashback Friday: Altamont Concert 1969

Posted on Updated on

Grace Slick Image Three
Grace Slick
Photo Credit: Bill Owens

[Note: I originally posted this, yesterday, just before midnight. In researching the data, I stumbled across Bill Owens, a photographer that was at Altamont. He was hired by the Associated Press to cover the concert. I emailed him, reference the two photos of his I posted. I hit ‘publish’ before I found his contact page and statement about photos for sale. In my haste to get this up while it was still Friday, I jumped the gun and quickly made the post private. I asked Bill what the price would be to use two of his pictures. As a photographer myself, I understand copyright issues but, I also recognize the gray area that many a blogger operate in, in the blogosphere….Fair Use (link on that, below). Anyway, this very kind gentleman has allowed my one-time use for this 50th anniversary post. He also provided me with a copy of an interview, conducted by Tony D’Souza in April 2019, covering his Altamont experience and other questions regarding his career. I will post an excerpt and attach the full interview, below. ~Vic]

Fifty years, ago, today, a free rock concert was held at the Altamont Speedway in Tracy, California. Described as “rock and roll’s all-time worst day, […], a day when everything went perfectly wrong“, the event saw violence and four deaths, the most notable being the stabbing of Meredith Hunter.

The concert featured (in order of appearance): Santana, Jefferson Airplane, The Flying Burrito Brothers and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, with the Rolling Stones taking the stage as the final act. The Grateful Dead were also scheduled to perform following CSNY but, declined to play shortly before their scheduled appearance due to the increasing violence at the venue.

Approximately 300,000 attended the concert, and some anticipated that it would be a “Woodstock [West Coast verson]”. Woodstock was held in Bethel, New York, in mid-August, less than four months earlier. Filmmakers Albert and David Maysles shot footage of the event and incorporated it into the 1970 documentary film titled Gimme Shelter.

[Source]

Naked Guy Image Two
The naked guy.
Photo Credit: Bill Owens

[It’s] not every day that a rock and roll band’s performance, let alone the Rolling Stones’, is accompanied by a knifing, stomping murder within a scream of the stage.

“The violence,” Keith Richard told the London Evening Standard, “just in front of the stage was incredible. Looking back, I don’t think it was a good idea to have [Hells] Angels there. But, we had them at the suggestion of the Grateful Dead. The trouble is, it’s a problem for us either way. If you don’t have them to work for you as stewards, they come, anyway and cause trouble. But, to be fair, out of the whole 300 Angels working as stewards, the vast majority did what they were supposed to do, which was to regulate the crowds as much as possible without causing any trouble. But, there were about ten or twenty who were completely out of their minds…trying to drive their motorcycles through the middle of the crowds.”

The Maysles Brothers, the film company which had shot the whole Stones’ tour, complete with its violent climax at Altamont, had gotten some remarkable footage of Hunter’s killing.

[Source]

Robert Hiatt, a medical resident at the Public Health Hospital in San Francisco, was the first doctor to reach 18-year-old Meredith Hunter after the fatal wounds. He was behind the stage and responded to Jagger’s call from the stage for a doctor. When Hiatt got to the scene, people were trying to get Hunter up on the stage, apparently in the hope that the Stones would stop playing and help could get through quicker.

The Stones & The Hells Angels Image
Stones on stage with Hells Angels.
Photo Credit: allthatsinteresting.com

Three others […] died (two in a hit-and-run accident, another by drowning) and, countless more were injured and wounded during the course of this daylong “free” concert. It was such a bad trip that it was almost perfect. All it lacked was mass rioting and the murder of one or more musicians.

All these things happened, and worse. Altamont was the product of diabolical egotism, hype, ineptitude, money manipulation and, at base, a fundamental lack of concern for humanity.

[Source]

Interview with Bill Owens:
bill@billowens.com
Bill Owens: Altamont 1969 (Amazon)
50 Years After Altamont: The End of the 60s (The New York Times April 15, 2019)

Bill Owens took iconic photos of the Hells Angels beating concertgoers with pool cue sticks at the Rolling Stones’ performance during the Altamont Speedway Free Festival four months after Woodstock on December 6, 1969. Altamont, which included violence almost all day and one stabbing death, is considered by historians as the end of the Summer of Love and the overall 1960’s youth ethos. This series of photos include panoramas of the massive, unruly crowd, Grace Slick and Carlos Santana on stage with the press of humanity so close in, they’re clearly performing under duress.

Of that day, Owens has written: “I got a call from a friend, she said the Associated Press wanted to hire me for a day to cover a rock and roll concert. I road my motorcycle to the event. I had two Nikons, three lenses, thirteen rolls of film, a sandwich, and a jar of water.”

Owens was so fearful of retribution by the Hells Angels that he published the photos under pseudonyms. Some of the negatives were later stolen…Owens believes by the Angels. He continues to have conflicted feelings about Altamont. He had no interest in violence and took no pride in photographing it.

In 1972, Owens released a book of black and white photography called Suburbia, also, now, an American icon. Irascible, stubborn, funny, grouchy, ornery and deeply rooted in small town life, Owens is built like a middleweight puncher and wears his hair as though he was a Marine. Indeed, Owens was never a hippie but, a clean-cut newspaper photographer, husband and father, who joined the Peace Corps to serve his country and “do good.” Turning 80 this September, Owens has also had noted careers as a craft beer brewer and pub owner, a magazine publisher many times over and, is now a distiller. His books include Suburbia, Working, Leisure and many others. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim and two NEAs. His work is collected in leading museums the world over, including the Smithsonian. Recent coverage of Owens includes an April retrospective in the New York Times (link above) of his Altamont photos for the event’s impending 50th anniversary. The photos are available for viewing at Owens’ website (link above and below).

I first met Owens at the defunct Rostel Gallery in remote and far northern Dunsmuir, CA, in late August or early September of 2008 (I remember because my daughter had just been born and the event was the first outing of her life), where they were showing images from Suburbia. These are images of people embarking on a new, modern way of life that they look excited by, but also confused, as though technology and the modish styles of the time were costumes they were still getting comfortable in. Owens’ photograph of a young suburban boy wearing cowboy boots, carrying a toy rifle and riding a Big Wheel, “Ritchie,” has always haunted me, though I couldn’t say precisely why.

Continue reading the interview HERE (PDF)

Set List
Death of Meredith Hunter
Reactions
Let It Bleed (Rolling Stone Magazine January 21, 1970)
Rock & Roll’s Worst Day (Rolling Stone Magazine February 7, 1970)
Altamont Rock Festival: ’60s Abruptly End (Livermore History March/April 2010)
Altamont Rock Festival of 1969: The Aftermath (Livermore History January/February 2011)
Biggest Rock Concert Ends (The Bulletin December 8, 1969)
Bill Owens Site (Associated Press Photographer at Altamont)
Ruling On Fair Use (American Photography May 3, 2019)


 

Music Monday: Pearl Jam 1994

Posted on Updated on

Pearl Jam Image One
Photo Credit: vinylthriftchaser.wordpress.com

Twenty-five years ago, this week (November 19/25, 1994), the song Spin the Black Circle by Pearl Jam debuted on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart (Page 79/ called Album Rock Tracks in 1994), entering at #16 (also its peak). Released November 8, it was the first single from their third album Vitalogy. Produced by Brendan O’ Brien, it was written by Eddie Vedder and Stone Gossard.

Mike McCready had difficulty with the leads and Jeff Ament didn’t like the punk sound at the time. Per Vedder, the lyrics reflect a love of vinyl records but, there could be interpretations of similarities with drug addiction.

From Jon Pareles with The New York Times (December 4, 1994):

The most [Vedder] will do is proselytize against the extinction of the LP, as he does in “Spin the Black Circle,” one of the few songs from Seattle in which a needle has nothing to do with heroin.

From Al Weisel with Rolling Stone (December 15, 1994):

Vitalogy has a number of gripping songs that match the soaring anthems of Ten. The first three tracks are a promising start: “Last Exit,” “Not for You” and especially “Spin the Black Circle,” a revvedup thrash tribute to vinyl, rock harder than anything Pearl Jam have ever done.

Pearl Jam Image Two
Image Credit: pinterest.com

From David Browne with Entertainment Weekly (December 9, 1994):

Pearl Jam still hasn’t developed an individual style to match that of its profoundly uptight singer, Eddie Vedder. Guitarists Stone Gossard and Mike McCready continue to play sloppy, characterless riffs. [T]heir punk song, ”Spin the Black Circle,” is a little flabby, like dinosaur rockers trying to prove they’re into Green Day.

The song peaked at #18 November 26 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was the first Pearl Jam single to enter this chart. It also peaked at #11 on the Billboard Alternative chart (called Modern Rock Tracks in 1994). It peaked in the top five in Australia, New Zealand and Norway.

The single won Best Hard Rock Performance at the 38th annual Grammy Awards. Vedder famously remarked:

I don’t know what this means. I don’t think it means anything.


 
Lyrics (From LyricFind)
See this needle
Oh see my hand
Drop, drop, dropping it down
oh so gently
here it comes
touch the flame
Turn me up
won’t turn you away

Spin, spin
spin the black circle
Spin, spin
spin the black, spin the black
Spin, spin
spin the black circle
Spin, spin
whoa

Pull it out
a paper sleeve
Oh my joy
only you deserve conceit
Oh I’m so big
and my whole world
I’d rather you
rather you, than her

Spin, spin
spin the black circle
Spin, spin
spin the black, spin the black
Spin, spin
spin the black circle
Spin, spin
whoa

Oh you’re so warm
oh, the ritual
as I lay down your crooked arm

Spin, spin
spin the black circle
Spin, spin
spin the black, spin the black
Spin, spin
spin the black circle
Spin, spin

[Repeat: x5]
Spin the black

circle

Spin the black circle
Spin the black circle

Tune Tuesday: Cyndi Lauper 1984

Posted on Updated on

Cyndi Lauper Image One
Photo Credit: rollingstone.com & wennermedia.com

Thirty-five years ago, today, the #1 song on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart (and, simultaneously, on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and Canadian Singles chart) was Time After Time from the album She’s So Unusual by Cyndi Lauper. Co-written by Lauper and Rob Hyman (The Hooters), it was released on January 27, the second single from the album. The title came from the 1979 movie Time After Time:

“We started by putting together a list of song titles. I thumbed through a TV Guide magazine. One movie title seemed good—a sci-fi film called “Time After Time” from 1979. I never meant for it to be the song’s real title. It was just supposed to get me thinking.” (Quote from Lauper)

It was her first #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100.

The video for “Time After Time” was directed by Edd Griles and, its storyline is about a young woman leaving her lover behind when she becomes homesick and worried about her mother. Lauper’s mother, brother and then-boyfriend, David Wolff, appear in the video and Lou Albano, who played her father in the “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” video, can be seen as a cook.

The video opens with Lauper watching the 1936 film The Garden of Allah and the final scene, where she gets on the train and waves goodbye to David, has Lauper crying for real.

[Source]

Cyndi Lauper Image Two
Image Credit: discogs.com

Cover artists include Miles Davis, Eva Cassidy and Lil Mo. Lauper made an acoustic version with Sarah McLachlan and performed live with McLachlan at the 2005 AMA Awards. Other live performances have been with Patti LaBelle and Lil’ Kim.

Critical Reception
Accolades
Awards & Nominations
Greatest & Best Songs
Other Cover Versions
 


 


 
Lyrics:
[Verse 1]
Lying in my bed, I hear the clock tick and think of you
Caught up in circles, confusion is nothing new
Flashback, warm nights almost left behind
Suitcases of memories, time after…
Sometimes you picture me, I’m walking too far ahead
You’re calling to me, I can’t hear what you’ve said
Then you say, “Go slow.” I fall behind
The second hand unwinds

[Chorus]
If you’re lost, you can look and you will find me
Time after time
If you fall, I will catch you, I’ll be waiting
Time after time
If you’re lost, you can look and you will find me
Time after time
If you fall, I will catch you, I’ll be waiting (I will be waiting)
Time after time

[Verse 2]
After my picture fades and darkness has turned to gray
Watching through windows, you’re wondering if I’m OK
Secrets stolen from deep inside
The drum beats out of time

[Chorus]
If you’re lost, you can look and you will find me
Time after time
If you fall, I will catch you, I’ll be waiting
Time after time

[Instrumental break]

[Bridge]
You said, “Go slow.” I fall behind
The second hand unwinds

[Chorus]
If you’re lost, you can look and you will find me
Time after time
If you fall, I will catch you, I’ll be waiting
Time after time
If you’re lost, you can look and you will find me
Time after time
If you fall, I will catch you, I’ll be waiting (I will be waiting)
Time after time

[Outro]
Time after time
Time after time
Time after time
Time after time
Time after time
Time after time
Time after time
Time after time
Time after time
Time after… time…

Tune Tuesday: Let’s Hear It For The Boy 1984

Posted on Updated on

Footloose Image One
Photo Credit: rollingstone.com

Thirty-five years ago, today, the #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot R & B charts (plus Cash Box) was Let’s Hear It For The Boy by Deniece Williams from the soundtrack of the movie Footloose. This was Williams second number one hit on the Billboard 100.

Composed by Tom Snow and Dean Pitchford, country singer Jana Kramer performed the song for the 2011 Footloose remake.

Deniece Williams Image Two
Image Credit: classic45s.com

From Songfacts [no citations]:

This was the second single from the Footloose soundtrack, following the “title track,” which was recorded by Kenny Loggins. In the film, the song was used in a scene where Kevin Bacon tries to teach Christopher Penn how to dance and Penn is having a hard time.

Once the song was written, Pitchford asked Deniece Williams and her producer George Duke to record the song. Kenny Loggins was onboard for the title track, which gave the project credibility and, Williams loved the song and the story idea for the film. She grew up in a small Indiana town with a religious environment similar to the one described in Footloose. When she saw the film, she thought the scene where they used her song was incredible. “If I had come to the film without the music in and they asked me what segment I wanted my song to be in, I would have chosen that segment.” said Williams.

Best Original Song Academy Award Nomination
Best Pop Vocal Performance (Single) Grammy Nomination
Best R & B Vocal Performance (Album) Grammy Nomination

Lyrics

Tune Tuesday: Blondie 1979

Posted on Updated on

Blondie Image One
Frank Infante, Chris Stein, Jimmy Destri, Debbie Harry, Clem Burke & Nigel Harrison
Photo Credit: recort.nl

Forty years ago, today, the #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 chart was Heart of Glass by Blondie. Written by Harry and Stein in 1974-75, its working title was Once I Had A Love. The inspiration for its writing came from The Hues Corporation‘s song Rock the Boat.

From The Guardian:

Heart of Glass was one of the first songs Blondie wrote but, it was years before we recorded it properly. We’d tried it as a ballad, as reggae but, it never quite worked. At that point, it had no title. We just called it “the disco song”. Back then, it was very unusual for a guitar band to be using computerised sound. People got nervous and angry about us bringing different influences into rock. Although we’d covered Lady Marmalade and I Feel Love at gigs, lots of people were mad at us for “going disco” with Heart of Glass. There was the Disco Sucks! movement, and there had even been a riot in Chicago, with people burning disco records. Clem Burke, our drummer, refused to play the song live at first. When it became a hit, he said: “I guess I’ll have to.” The lyrics weren’t about anyone. They were just a plaintive moan about lost love. At first, the song kept saying: “Once I had a love, it was a gas. Soon turned out, it was a pain in the ass.” We couldn’t keep saying that, so we came up with: “Soon turned out, had a heart of glass.” We kept one “pain in the ass” in – and the BBC bleeped it out for radio. ~Debbie Harry

*************

As far as I was concerned, disco was part of R&B, which I’d always liked. The Ramones went on about us “going disco” but, it was tongue-in-cheek. They were our friends. In the video, there’s a shot of the legendary Studio 54, so everyone thought we shot the video there but, it was actually in a short-lived club called the Copa or something. I came up with the phrase “heart of glass” without knowing anything about Werner Herzog or his movie of the same name, which is a great, weird film. It’s nice people now use the song to identify the period in films and documentaries. I never had an inkling it would be such a big hit, or become the song we’d be most remembered for. It’s very gratifying. ~Chris Stein

Blondie Image Two
Photo Credit: nypost.com
An Oral History of Blondie

From CityBeat:

In season one, DJ Johnny Fever not only plays Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” on his broadcast but, home audiences actually hear him announce the band’s, and the song’s, names. It was fantastic promotion for the up-and-coming Blondie, whose huge breakthrough album, Parallel Lines (with other seminal singles like Hanging on the Telephone and One Way or Another), came out the same month WKRP in Cincinnati debuted. The band reportedly gave the show a Gold record plaque celebrating the album’s major sales numbers as a “Thank You” card. It can be seen in the background as set design on several episodes in later seasons.

From NPR:

Unlike many DJs from that era, Fever played punk as well as rock and soul. The range of music on the show gave this fictional radio station a better playlist than most of the era’s real ones. […] although the show helped break Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” big, the exception, in Fever’s case, was disco. “I asked him to play one disco record and he threatened to throw himself in front of Donna Summer‘s tour bus,” Travis complains in “Baby, If You’ve Ever Wondered,” from season two.

As of April 20, 2011, Heart of Glass is #259 of Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Awards & Nominations
Best Selling International Single (Juno 1980)
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (2006)
Grammy Hall of Fame (2016)

Lyrics:
[Verse 1]
Once I had a love and it was a gas
Soon turned out had a heart of glass
Seemed like the real thing, only to find
Mucho mistrust, love’s gone behind

Once I had a love and it was divine
Soon found out I was losing my mind
It seemed like the real thing but I was so blind
Mucho mistrust, love’s gone behind

[Chorus]
In between
What I find is pleasing and I’m feeling fine
Love is so confusing, there’s no peace of mind
If I fear I’m losing you, it’s just no good
You teasing like you do

[Verse 2]
Once I had a love and it was a gas
Soon turned out had a heart of glass
Seemed like the real thing, only to find
Mucho mistrust, love’s gone behind

[Chorus]
Lost inside
Adorable illusion and I cannot hide
I’m the one you’re using, please don’t push me aside
We could’ve made it cruising, yeah

[Bridge]
Yeah, riding high
On love’s true bluish light

[Verse 3]
Once I had a love and it was a gas
Soon turned out to be a pain in the ass
Seemed like the real thing only to find
Mucho mistrust, love’s gone behind

[Chorus]
In between
What I find is pleasing and I’m feeling fine
Love is so confusing, there’s no peace of mind
If I fear I’m losing you, it’s just no good
You teasing like you do

Movie Monday: The Cat in the Hat 2003

Posted on Updated on

Cat In The Hat Image One
Photo Credit: tribute.ca
Cat In The Hat Image Two
Photo Credit: rogerebert.com

Fifteen years ago, today, the #1 movie at the box office was The Cat In The Hat, starring Mike Myers, Alec Baldwin, Kelly Preston, Dakota Fanning, Spencer Breslin and, Sean Hayes with cameos from Clint Howard and Paris Hilton. Dan Castellaneta did Thing One and Thing Two voice work.

IMDB Summary:

“Conrad and Sally Walden are home alone with their pet fish. It is raining outside and there is nothing to do until The Cat in the Hat walks in the front door. He introduces them to their imagination and, at first, it’s all fun and games until things get out of hand and, The Cat must go, go, go, before their parents get back.”

Interesting Trivia:
Tim Allen was originally cast as The Cat but, had to drop out due to a scheduling conflict for The Santa Clause II.
♦ There was so much smog during the shoot that the sky had to be digitally replaced.
Audrey Geisel, Dr. Seuss’s widow, was appalled by this movie and decided to reject any future adaptations of her late husband’s work. She was so furious after she saw the film that she legally forbade Hollywood from making anymore live-action stories (all subsequent films have been animated).
♦ Mike Myers said that the Cat’s personality is a composite of director/producer Bruce Paltrow, his Saturday Night Live (1975) character “Linda Richman” and, actor Charles Nelson Reilly.
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone Magazine had a different take:

“I hated How The Grinch Stole Christmas, which was a smash for Jim Carrey. Cat, another over-blown Hollywood raid on Dr. Seuss, has a draw in Mike Myers, who, inexplicably, plays the Cat by mimicking Bert Lahr as the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz.”

Awards:
Film Music (David Newman/2004 Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) Film & TV Awards)
Worst Excuse for an Actual Movie (2004/Golden Raspberry (Razzie) Awards)
Worst Film (2004/Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association (DFWFCA) Awards)
Worst Picture (2003/The Stinkers Bad Movie Awards *Site Defunct July 1, 2007*)
Worst Screenplay for a Film Grossing More than $100 Million Using Hollywood Math (Alec Berg, David Mandel & Jeff Schaffer/2003/The Stinkers Bad Movie Awards)
Most Annoying Non-Human Character (2003/The Stinkers Bad Movie Awards)
The Spencer Breslin Award for Worst Performance by a Child (Spencer Breslin/2003/The Stinkers Bad Movie Awards)

21 Nominations [Not all bad. The kids & teens liked this and, the hair & makeup was noticed by the Guild. The Teen Choice Awards nominated Sean Hayes for Choice Movie Hissy Fit, which I found amusing. ~Vic]