Monday, March 11, 2013

This is number one, and it's 3-11-13

This could be pretty interesting.  On the other hand, it may be a great new outlet, and people might be able to, or want to, read it.  I could do an entry everyday.  There is a thought for you.  Many things inspire me, and I've written  many stories in the past, but lately I don't seem to have had the time.  And now I'm starting a blues band, which should prove pretty interesting.  No one anywhere around here has a blues band like the one I'm putting together - and maybe nobody anywhere.  I used to have a webpage, a bit like having a blog, but I only entered stories once a month.  That went on for years.  Wonder if I can find all that old stuff?  I was not organized in keeping track of it.
       I'll just finish up here with starting by including an old story.  Thanks, if you're a human, for reading this.

Classic Shows I Have Seen:

               The Who

               I saw the Who the first time in the Murray the K Summer Spectacular, which happened to take place at a theater within walking distance of Sheep Meadow in Central Park, where the first Be-In was held; I remember walking over, from the park to the show.  There were many acts, including the Shirelles, maybe Jan and Dean or some other sort of pop pap, Mitch Ryder, Cream and The Who.  I think Mitch Ryder was the headliner.  The Who had a fifteen minute spot, which they ended with “My Generation.”  They did various songs in different shows - I saw two or three shows that first day, and came back on another day for a few more.  I remember “Can’t Explain,” “Happy Jack,” “So Sad About Us,”  and there were a few others - maybe “The Kids are Allright,” and I think they did “A Quick One.”  They were magnificent.  I couldn’t believe the moment when the harmony voices came in during “Can’t Explain.”  These two tall, aggressive guys on opposite sides of the stage both took a step forward to the mike at the same time, and sang in perfect falsetto harmony.  Whoa!  Roger sent the microphone out on its wire, twenty feet over the audience’s heads, yanking it back in exact time for his next line.  As the main singer, I would have expected him to do the talking between songs, but instead, Townshend did all that, and Roger just stood there ready to sing.  Keith Moon amazed us on the drums, Townshend adjusted the sound on his amp more than anyone I’ve seen before or since, and Entwhistle filled the hall with thunder.  The end of “My Generation,” a visual display of destruction and chaos, was played entirely on the bass.  The guitar and drums were just crazy noise at that point, because they were breaking the instruments.  Keith tossed a tom tom twenty feet up in the air.
               Cream also had fifteen minutes.  They did “I Feel Free,” “Crossroads,” and another.  They were remarkable - Clapton often turned his back to the audience, to be absorbed in his guitar.  Baker took a long drum solo.  They were kind of loud and fuzzy, but intriguing.  I would never have suspected that for ten years after, almost every band I ever jammed with would try to play like Cream.  They had a very big influence. 
               I saw the Who again at the Village Theater, in 1969, in a hall which became the Fillmore East a year later.  The Village Theater was not well managed, and when The Who, who had to make their way through the crowd to the stage, went on, the microphones didn’t all work.  I’ll never forget Townshend kicking over his mikestand in frustration, wham!  He got fed up a few songs in, and signaled “My Generation.”  Roger looked puzzled, but accepted it.  They played it, smashed their stuff, and left to a roaring crowd.  They had played only about twenty minutes.
               I went to see them at the new Fillmore East, and it turned out to be the day Martin Luther King was assassinated.  Crowds of angry kids filled the streets, and Bill Graham decided to let people without tickets into the show, to get them off the streets.  Consequently, the hall was extra crowded, and the two shows were combined into one.  The Who were playing when we got there, though another band was supposed to be opening the show then.  They did a great show as usual, including the cigarette commercial they did that was never used, “Little Billy.”  They did a nice long set, and then Buddy Guy tried to follow them.  He did everything he could think of, including crawling down the aisles on his back while he played a solo, his long guitar cord being kept out of trouble by a dedicated roadie.  But after his set, the crowd was unsatisfied.  Bill Graham got on stage and harangued the crowd, saying we were spoiled kids, which we were.  My wife, from beside me, yelled, “What a deal!”  The crowd yelled in response.  I cringed.  Things quieted down and everybody left, finally.  After all, the show was over.
               The next time I saw them, it was again at the Fillmore East, two days after “Tommy” came out.  They warmed up with about ten other songs, and then did all of “Tommy” for us.   I’ll tell you the most amazing thing I saw at this show.
               Keith Moon didn’t have to play at the beginning of “Tommy,” it was just guitar stuff.  He wiggled about on his drum stool, chewing the scenery, being impatient.  Then he suddenly stood up, turned sideways, and slowly fell into his drums, scattering them off the drum riser, and hitting the riser on his shoulder.  He immediately leaped up, ran around the riser, and set his drums and cymbals back up.  He put the microphones back on them, too.  He did this at lightning speed, and when he was done, he ran back around to his spot, set up his stool, sat down, grabbed his sticks, lifted them over his head, and played both cymbals perfectly at his first cue.  It was breathtaking.
               I saw them again, at the Summertime Concert Series at Central Park Skating Rink.  Almost all I remember of this show is the end, when Townshend, after breaking his guitar and knocking his amp over, jumped up on his amp and wiggled his butt at us, then left the stage.  At the top of their form, delivering consistently mind-opening shows, they were perfect.  Guitar, bass, and drums.  Best trio I’ve ever seen.

               Jimi Hendrix Experience

               I heard about Hendrix when his first album came out in England, and one of the import copies came into my hands.  It was astoundingly good.  The Experience came to town, to work up some word of mouth before the record was released in the States.  They opened for a half-dozen acts at different clubs around NYC.  Dave Garber, who’d lent me the album, told me about a show that night, at the Cafe au Go Go in the Village.  I sat at a table about seven feet from the stage, in the front row.  Wow.  It was hard to believe this guy could get those sounds out of a guitar.  They were incredibly loud in the tiny club.  They were kind of jet-lagged, and at the end, Noel Redding was so weary, he simply unhooked the strap from his bass and it crashed to the floor, and provided their exit thunder/feedback.
               I also saw them open for the Young Rascals at Central Park, but we couldn’t get tickets so we sat on a hill overlooking the arena.  He put on basically the same show we’d seen, with a long “Wild Thing” and a long “Like a Rolling Stone” and all.  It was good, and the Rascals were good too.  The guitar player had great fancy footwork.  No bass player, just organ pedals.
               The next Experience show I saw was at Hunter College, on the east side.  It was a nice big auditorium.  The opening act was the Soft Machine, a wild jazzy trio with the drummer, Robert Wyatt, wearing the briefest of swimming trunks.  Then Hendrix, who had just released his second album, “Axis Bold as Love.”  He did only one song from the new album, “Up from the Skies,” and the rest of the show was the same as I’d seen the previous year.  One of the songs was his hit, “Purple Haze.”  He had some amplifier trouble, which stalled the show, then the police were hassling the front row people and Hendrix taunted them, then the show continued.  At the end, everybody clapped and yelled for an encore.  After a long while, the band came back and they did “Purple Haze” again, and left the stage.  The crowd went wild again, and after a while the band returned.  Believe it or not, they did “Purple Haze” again, and left for good.  I think that proved that his attitude was already suffering some sort of breakdown.  I heard that a few years later, he sat and watched TV in the dressing room before the shows.  He and John Lennon were the only singers I knew that would always play and sing while chewing gum.

               The Doors

               I saw the Doors twice: once at the Fillmore East, and then out in San Francisco at Winterland.  I was pretty close in NYC, and Jim Morrison made more faces than any singer I’d ever seen before or since.  He was something.  The stage set was something too - it was just amps and drums, but it was a unique stage set.  They used Acoustic amplifiers, which were huge and distinctive looking, and they stacked them three high, totaling fifteen feet, on both sides of the drummer.  One stack was for the organ and keyboard bass, the other side for the guitar.  There was a lot of room for Jim to wander and careen.  The sound was great, much better than the records, because there were more dynamics: when Ray Manzarek lifted his hand from the organ, it was quiet - when he came down, it was loud as thunder.  The records don’t reflect that at all.
               What I remember most about the Winterland show, actually two shows, early and late, is how Jim acted.  For instance - in the beginning, while the audience was waiting, giant beach-ball balloons were introduced for the crowd to play with.  You could punch that thing hard and send it all the way into the balcony.  It flew all around the giant stadium, and then it was bounced onto the stage.  Everyone expected to see Jim hit it out into the audience; he was smoking a cigarette, and when the balloon came near him, he popped it.  Really loud.  Wise guy.  Later on, before the second set, we had to watch him smoke a whole joint onstage before he was ready to sing.  But he was good when he finally did.  They were great back then (1967). 

               The Band

               I saw the Band in their first NYC show, at the Fillmore East.   Everybody was talking about the Band, they were the best thing to come along in a long time.  They’d just played the Fillmore West the week before, and got a lot of strange reviews because Robbie Robertson was so ill he had to be hypnotized to get him onstage for the big gig.   So I went to see them, and they were amazing.  For one thing, they had a different stage setup than I’d ever seen.  Levon Helm, the drummer, was on the side, at an angle, instead of in back, and he sung a lot of the songs.  Sometimes he sang while he played drums, and sometimes they’d change instruments - the piano player would get on the drums, and Levon would play the mandolin.  In front was Robbie and Rick, the guitar and bass, center stage.  On the right was Levon; on the left, facing backstage at an angle, was Richard Manuel on piano.  In back, where the drummer usually was, was Garth Hudson on organ.  They all looked at each other all the time, except for the two front guys, who’d spin to give or get signals at times.  Richard Danko did a lot of the squeakier vocals.
               All the music from “Big Pink” sounded great, just as good as the record but not exactly the same.  And they had so much character in their voices, it was great to see them sing.  They did four part harmonies.  I guess Garth was the fourth, cause Robbie didn’t sing at all, though he wrote most of the songs.  They all came to the front, in a line, without organ or drums, to do “Ain’t No more Cane on the Brazos,” an old southern song.  I think Garth played the accordion.  It was funny how I sat there kind of anticipating a change that never came - they did it very straight and beautifully, and when it was done, I thought something like, “So that was it - wow!”  When they were called for a second encore, after doing three songs in the first one, they did Little Richard’s “Slippin and Slidin” in four part harmony, floored us all, and left.
               I saw the Band a week before I saw the Who’s “Tommy” show.  The Who blew the Band right out of my head. 
               I saw the Band again when they did a big tour with Bob Dylan and played with him, after doing their own set.  I saw it at a big arena somewhere in the NYC area, and that was the first show I remember where the audience, for the encore, all pulled out lighters in tribute. 

               Rolling Stones

               I was a big Rolling Stones fan from the first time I saw them on TV, I think it was the Dean Martin show.  They did “I Just Want to make Love to You,” with Brian Jones wailing on the harmonica.  They were wild, and even though Dean didn’t like them, and made patronizing remarks, it was great.  I heard their records on the radio, starting with “Tell Me,” since I’d missed “Not Fade Away” somehow, their first American hit.  I bought their first album, and liked it a lot.  Then I saw an ad for them - they were coming to Carnegie Hall, just as the Beatles recently had, so I got tickets for me and my best friend to go see them.  The tickets were $3.50, for the second or third balcony.  The show started at 7:30, and the first act was Bobby Goldsboro doing his sappy ballads.  Then came Jay and the Americans, who weren’t bad, though I found them strident and white.  Then came the Rolling Stones, who played loud enough to drown out the vocals.  Brian Jones moved around the most; he really liked the big stage.  He was great at getting the crowd exited.  Mick just stood around near the mike, and danced in a small area there.  Keith mostly just bobbed and grinned.  Bill Wyman stayed to the side, sort of hiding bashfully.  The two guitars sounded a lot alike, both being Gibsons or Epiphones.  I couldn’t tell which songs were which, except for the two with a Bo Diddley beat, which obviously were “Not Fade Away” and “Mona.”  All the others were fast, except for “Tell Me.”  They played for a half hour, and the show was over.  As the curtain closed, Brian rushed to the front of the stage and laid his guitar exactly where the curtains met, so the bottom of the guitar was sticking out, right in center stage.  It looked a little like a penis peeking out from trousers, and it stayed there as we all left the hall.  It was about 8:30.
               I saw the Stones again when their third album was out, “The Rolling Stones Now.”  Their big hit from that album was “Heart of Stone.”  It was at the Palladium, on 14th Street.  I went with my younger brother, Ken, who has turned into a much bigger Rolling Stones fan than I ever was.  He’s seen them about twenty times now, and I’m happy that I took him to his first, and helped him get to see them with Brian Jones.  Brian was subdued this time, with one arm in a cast, I think.  He didn’t smile.  But he was as loud as the rest of the band put together.  He didn’t play as much harmonica, but he played more slide guitar this time.  Keith was smiling the whole time.  People threw presents onstage while they played, and they dodged them.  One big gift, giftwrapped, flew spiraling through the air at Keith’s head, and he dodged it with a big grin as it sailed past.  His guitar came unhooked from its strap as they started “Off the Hook,” and he chuckled at that too.
               The crowd was wild for them, and they were terrific, and the authorities running the show got nervous.  They stopped the show because all the people were coming down front and making a mob of standing screamers, instead of staying in their seats.  The management made the band stop playing, the curtain closed and they were hidden.  A man came onstage to quiet everybody down.  “The show will not continue until everyone is in their seats!”  All the hundreds of people who were now down front started to mill around, and gradually the area got less dense, and the aisles were full of people moving back away from the stage.  It was about halfway cleared up, when from behind the curtain came Brian’s slide guitar, really loud, playing “Little Red Rooster,”  and a whoop went up from the crowd, and the mob came running back down the aisles, and the curtain opened, and the show went on, with all the people right back where they’d been, and it stayed that way.  We won.
               I couldn’t afford to see them the next time they came, when they played at Forest Hills Tennis Stadium, and a few years after, Brian Jones was gone forever.  That kind of ended it for me - I never loved them after he left.  Poor guy.  Great rhythm player, with lots of revolutionary ideas - have you heard the flute on “Ruby Tuesday” or the dulcimer on “Lady Jane” or the sitar on “Paint it Black”?  Wow.  And the guitar figure he plays on “Last Time,” for instance. 

               Elvis Costello

               I saw Elvis at the Bottom Line when his first album was out, the first time he played NYC.  He was astounding, and his band, the Attractions, was superb.  They played for an hour and a half, and he never took his hands off the guitar, never mind having a drink or smoking a cigarette.  The energy was very strong.  The keyboard player had a Farfisa organ, and it gave them a great sound.  The set ended, and when everyone applauded and yelled for an encore, Elvis came back and ran up and down the stage, screaming “Get up!  Get up!” until everyone was standing, and then they played a few encore songs.  Most of the set was fast, and so were the encores.  I, an aspiring songwriter, sat there thinking, “This guy is better than me.”
                I saw him a few more times, first at a big show in the Palladium.  Mink DeVille opened, then Rockpile played a half hour set, then came Elvis and the Attractions.  They now had a good light show - Elvis was often in green light, looking like a mad scientist.  The songs were still mostly fast.
               Years later, I saw him at the Pier.  The Summer series was run by the same promoter as the Central Park shows, but it had been moved to a giant pier.  I saw a bunch of people there.  Anyway, Elvis was into the slow ballads on this tour, and when he did his old favorites for the people, he rushed through them, and they didn’t really work right.  He was into the other stuff by then.
               I saw him do a solo show, with solo Nick Lowe opening, at Patrick Gym, up in Burlington, Vermont.  It was interesting to see him solo, but his guitar work was just strumming, and it was nowhere as interesting as his band.  I got to shake his hand, though, after the show, and my friend got his autograph on an early picture-sleeve single, and now I have that.

               Black Flag

               I saw Black Flag in 1984, at a silly club near CBGB named The Great Gildersleeves.  It was the kind of club that had handsomely dressed cover bands usually.  But for some reason Black Flag played there.  It was very crowded, and I stood on a balcony overlooking the dense mob.  I’d heard good things about this band, and their posters were stupendously weird: pen and ink drawings of Manson related folk; way later I discovered they were drawn by Greg Ginn’s brother. 
               The crowd was rowdy - lots of skinheads looking to bash each other in the mosh pit.  When the band hit the stage, Henry Rollins made an announcement, asking the people who jumped on stage not to crash into the band or the equipment, or kick out the wires.  Then they played, furiously.  Rollins roared and yelled, the rhythm section thundered, and Greg Ginn played some amazing guitar.  I could tell he had a bad cold, because his nose was dripping snot, and he couldn’t take the time to wipe it.  He was the whole top end up there, and he had to keep pounding away, his head down, a foot-long string of snot waving as he played.  It’s hard to forget an image like that. 

               Procol Harum

               They were one of my favorite groups; their music had such majesty and grace.  Terrific drummer, wonderful keyboard work, and Robin Trower on lead blues guitar.  I saw them four times, and once I stood outside the stage door so I could hear them when I couldn’t afford to get in.
                The first time they came to the Fillmore East, I went.  Gary Brooker, the piano player and singer, was dressed in overalls.  When they were all set up, he came from the side of the stage with a broom.  Nobody knew who he was.  A little spotlight shown on the floor in front of him, and he pretended to sweep it across the stage, the light guy moving it before him.  When he got to the piano, on the far side, he swept the light a final sweep to the side, and it went out, and he sat down and they did “Shine On Brightly.”  The next time I saw them, he wore a purple tuxedo.  He had a great voice - there were no backup singers in the group, just lots of keyboards.  For an encore, that second time, they did Little Richard’s “Keep a Knockin” and tore the place up.
               I saw them twice out in San Francisco.  They played the Fillmore West two weeks in a row, the first as a headliner, and the second week they opened for Pink Floyd.
               Then I saw them back in New York, at Central Park.  Gary Brooker pointed up at the full moon overhead, and they swung into “Shine On Brightly” again.  They were great every time.

               Pink Floyd
               I saw the Floyd in 1967, so it was with Syd Barrett.  He tuned Roger Waters’ bass for him.  Roger Mason had the biggest drumset I’d ever seen.  They were great - every song from their first album was fifteen minutes long, starting recognizably, drifting into chaos for ten minutes, and rounding the curve back into the song by the end.  They were the most psychedelic band ever.  Syd played as if he’d never touched a guitar before, but was brilliantly inspired.
               Otis Redding and MGs

               My friends Desmond and Peter let me know about this show.  It was in a high school auditorium, and somehow we got in.  The opening act was the Critters, who had a hit with the Lovin Spoonful’s “Younger Girl.”  They were okay, and then Booker T and the MGs came on.  They were mean looking - wild southern cats with attitude.  Booker T looked like he wasn’t getting paid as much as he’d been promised or something.  The music was great, though, and after they’d been on a half hour or so, one of them announced a special guest - Otis Redding!  Otis came on, like a star, and they did only “Have a Little Tenderness.”  It was great to see Otis wave his hand behind his back to signal the band to go down in volume, then back up.  Just one song.

               Jeff Beck
               I knew Jeff Beck from the Yardbirds - I’d read English music newspapers, and knew all about them, listened to all their records.  They were great.  Then Jeff left and formed a new band and they came to the Fillmore East.  I knew about them to begin with, and was ready when tickets went on sale, and got four of us tickets in the seventh row, center.  It was a trio and a singer - I don’t think Jeff has worked with another guitar player since the Yardbirds.  When they started the first song, the singer was nowhere to be seen.  At the end of the song, when everyone applauded, Rod Stewart shyly stepped out and nodded his thanks, and they went into another song.  Rod was wearing pink bellbottoms.  Whoa.  Nobody in NYC had those.  He was great.  Jeff was great, of course - the only guitar player I’ve ever seen keep his picks on the floor around him.  He’d play with just his fingers, and then kneel part way down and swoop one off the stage and play instantly with it.  He wore jeans and a t-shirt, as he always has.  Ron Wood was a good bass player, and Micky Waller was amazing on drums.  It was a great show, and all over town that year you could hear “Truth,” the album, in clothing stores and bars and out of windows.  That was just before Led Zeppelin hit. 
               Of course, Led Zeppelin became a lot more popular than Jeff Beck, and I had tickets to see them the first time they played New York, at the Fillmore of course, but a strange thing happened.  At first it was a double bill with Canned Heat, another band I desperately wanted to see, so that was just great.  Then the program changed, announcements were made, signs were posted, and we had to exchange our tickets for either the show with Led Zeppelin or the show with Canned Heat.  I chose Canned Heat, and though I missed a classic terrific show (my brother changed his tickets for them, and told me about the show), I guess I can live with it.  I was able to see Al Wilson, a great guitar and harmonica player who didn’t live a whole lot longer.

               Canned Heat
               When Canned Heat hit the Fillmore East, they had already played all day somewhere uptown.  They had played that gig with the provision that they could play as long as they wanted, and they had played a long time.  So in some ways they were pretty worn out for our show.  But they were on acid, as were many of us in the audience, and seemingly full of energy.  Al Wilson played a gold Les Paul with his fingers, and was really great.  The singer was fine, had a good attitude, sort of an extrovert.  He gave a blustering intro, ending with, “The acid’s good, and we’re gonna play all night.”   At least I think that’s what he said.  They were a good blues band, maybe a great one.  The acid had a strange effect - though at times you couldn’t tap your feet to the music, they were always in time with each other, and though it lurched around, the music stayed together.  The other guitar player, who took most of the solos, Henry Vestine, had one amplifier head and eight speakers, big ones, connected to it.  A rotating fan blew on the back of the amp.  They didn’t play all that long, actually, but it was a good show.  They ended with their half-hour Boogie, based on John Lee Hooker’s riff, and they all took long solos.

               Janis Joplin
               We first saw Janis at Chocolate George’s funeral - well, it was called that, but it was really the party afterwards.  He was a Hell’s Angel who had been chased by the police till he crashed his motorcycle.  The party was in Golden Gate Park, and there were at least a thousand people there.  From a flatbed truck, Big Brother and the Holding Company played a great set.  Janis was terrific, as you must know, and the band was great too.  James Gurley, the wilder guitar player, picked up his amplifier and clasped it to his guitar, which he had been playing, and spun in circles with it, embracing the howling feedback which climaxed his solo.  I was amazed he didn’t tie himself in a knot and tumble from the truck.  Was the cord thirty feet long?
               Then we met Janis in Panhandle Park, where she was sunbathing and we were having some breakfast.  She came over to ask for a piece of bread and cream cheese, and we gave her one.  I asked if she was Janis Joplin, and she demurely said yes.  I recognized her from the show, and we told her she was great.  She invited us to her show that night at the Straight Theater on Haight Street, and said she’d put us on the guest list.  She did, and we went, and saw her there.  She waved to us from the stage, crinkling her forehead as she squinted in the lights. 
               We saw her one more time, back in NYC, in Central Park.  She was great there too, and we went to try and find her at the Chelsea Hotel, where she was staying, but she wasn’t in.

               Iron ButterflyBlueCheerTraffic
               In a way, this was a typical Fillmore show - three bands, best last, least first, etc.  And they were well matched here.  Iron Butterfly was getting popular, but they hadn’t yet put out “In a Gadda da Vida,” which was the big number at this show.  He sang “In the garden of Eden,” but his accent was so affected that it became known for what it sounded like instead of what he sang.  They were sort of puerile, and the drum solo was sort of awful.
               Blue Cheer, who had the reputation of being the loudest band ever, certainly had the most amplifiers - it was the start of the giant stage setups that plagued the 1970s.  Both the guitar player and the bass player had about eight giant amps behind them, like a monster screen of matching rectangular boxes.  And they sure were loud.  The guitar player had to step away from his amps to hear the other guys at one point.  They also had a drum solo, which was a bit better.
               Then came Traffic, a wonderful band from England, with Steve Winwood, who I’d never seen before - his first band, with “Gimme Some Lovin,” had never made it to the States.  Now they had a great album, “Dear Mr. Fantasy,” except it had been made with four people and now there were only three.  Dave Mason, who had been a big part of it, had left.  So now they were just a jazzy trio, and less bluesy than the album, I thought.  Then after a half hour or so, Steve announced a special guest - Dave Mason!  He came out and they sounded more like the record.  Dave Mason was really great, as were they all.  Chris Wood, the sax and flute player, and Jim
Capaldi, on drums, were fantastic.  And Steve Winwood, you must know was great.  Jim’s drum solo was by far the best of the three that evening.

               The Animals
               I didn’t get to see the original Animals when they first came to NYC - they were part of a Murray the K show that played for a week somewhere; they played for a half hour in the middle of it.  I heard that somebody threw a golf ball and hit Alan Price in the head, and he hid behind his organ for the rest of the show. 
               Then the original Animals broke up, and Eric Burdon and the Animals came into being.  The drummer, not the original drummer, who’d left years before, was the only one to make it into the new band.  And there were two guitars and no keyboard.  One of them, John Weider, also played electric violin.  The other one was Henry McCullough.  I saw them at Hunter College.  I had their first album, “Winds of Change.”   Eric Burdon, I had heard, was great in person. 
               The band started playing, and Eric came out and stood in front of the amps, absorbing the music and working himself up.  He wore flip-flops, a Hawaiian shirt, and shorts.  Then he danced over to the mike and started singing.  He was terrific, a great rock and roll singer, with a controlled passion and no virtuoso stuff.  The band sounded like it hadn’t been together too long, but they were all great musicians, and made a good effort.  There was a mike in front of each guitarist, but they didn’t sing anything until way into the set, in Ike and Tina Turner’s “A Love Like Yours,” they both looked at each other and took one big step forward to the mike and sang one word, “consideration,” in perfect harmony, and stepped back again.  It was impressive.  When they got the violin going, it got psychedelic, rather than bluesy - that is to say, it veered into a raga.  They hardly did any of the old hits, they had a whole new style, and when they did one, the arrangement was very different.  They were really unique, and all their albums had some great songs.  They also had some very silly ones - there was no getting around it, Eric Burdon and the Animals’ albums were chancy.  They were better live.

               New York Dolls (2)
               I knew about the Dolls early on because two old friends of mine, Desmond and Peter, were working for them as their roadies.  The singer, David Johansen, was a guy I’d known years ago, hanging around in the east village.  Desmond told me the band was great, so my wife and I went to see a show at the Mercer Arts Center.  The Dolls had played there regularly for a while, and they had already gone to England, where their first drummer had died in a strange party incident.  Now they had a better drummer, and were getting famous.  The show was late getting started; Desmond said that happened every time.  All I remember of the audience, which was pretty wild, was a guy with a long beard in a dress.  The band attracted the biggest freaks in town, anywhere they played, said Des.  I could sort of see why - all the guys in the band were dressed up in an original way - scarves, real tight pants, platform shoes or women’s shoes, sort of like a femme Keith Richards look.  They were skinny little guys, though David was tall, and the bass player was really tall, like a glam Frankenstein in platform boots.  They were as dressed up as somebody without money could get.  The show was great, and I was impressed.  Their album, when it came out, was also good, but not as good as they were live.  The big breakthrough had not happened yet for rock and roll recording - loud guitars couldn’t be captured in their giant crunchiness.
               We saw them again a year or so later, out on Long Island, where we lived at the time, at My Father’s Place in Roslyn.  Great show, even though David’s voice was kind of blown - he kept spraying Chloraseptic down his throat between songs.  The locals resisted their charm, probably because the band was so androgynous and freaky looking.  David Johansen taunted them in response, inviting any “Long Island pussies” who dared to meet them in the parking lot, where the band would kick their asses.  That didn’t happen, but it was a nice gesture on David’s part.

         Parliament Funkadelic All Stars
               In the year before I left New York, I had a girlfriend who loved George Clinton.  He was her guy; she had about twenty albums of his stuff: Parliament, Funkadelic, Brides of Funkenstein, everything he did.  So I got to know some of the stuff, and then George came to town and we went to see him.  I think it was at the Ritz, on 11th Street.  There were about fourteen people on stage - dancers, horns, and singers.  There were so many of them onstage that it seemed obvious that some of them either paid for their own rooms, or slept on floors.  Also obviously, they were all on coke.  They played for a while, then George came out, with a huge headdress, looking like some kind of idealized native American chieftain.  People went nuts.  They played all their hits, and all their recent ones.  Bunches of people went offstage during some songs, and when they came back, they were pretty high.  The guitar player, whose name I can’t recall, who wore only a diaper, came back one time so high he could hardly walk.  The bass player was great, a sober little chunky guy who was the one guy to stay on stage the whole time.  When he took a solo, near the end of a long long show, George urged him to play another verse, and the bass player looked at his watch and sassed George back, and George laughed - here was this guy getting an ovation, loved by the crowd, who was just thinking it was a job...let’s stay on schedule, was a great moment.  It was a great dance show. 

               Lou Reed
               Lou Reed was one of my heroes, from back when I finally heard the Velvet Underground in 1970 or so - I especially liked the deadpan “Femme Fatale.”  His rhythm guitar playing stressed elements which no one had stressed before.  And he’d written an article about the death of Brian Jones which had good original thinking.  I bought his first solo album when it came out, and liked it a lot.  The production was a little odd at times, but Lou was brilliant.  I heard he was coming to My Father’s Place, in my part of Long Island, but he canceled and went to England, where he met David Bowie and they did his terrific second album, “Transformer.”  He sort of married French cabaret to rock and roll, and included all sort of references to drugs and kinky sex.               I saw him at Alice Tully Hall, before “Transformer.”  The crowd cheered as Lou toddled out in sandals, obviously loaded.  He had some young band from upstate New York with him, and they didn’t seem to have rehearsed enough.  It was kind of a diffuse show.  The show was okay, not stupendous.
               The next time I saw him was at the Bottom Line, around the time of “Street Hassle.”  Don Cherry was on trumpet.  Lou had an amazing guitar sound, and the show was great too.

               The Clash
               The Clash were the first band I’d seen in years for which everyone in the audience stood on their seats from the first moment they walked on stage.  And this was in the Palladium, with comfortable cushioned velvet seats, unlike the standing-only clubs of later years.  It was 1979, the first time they hit NYC.  I got a ticket to both shows, two nights in a row.  You could never have gotten the lyrics from a live show - they were too loud, and drowned Joe Strummer’s voice beneath all the guitars.  But if you knew their stuff, you were all right. 
               At that first show, the bass player broke his bass against the stage at the end of the show, and a photographer onstage captured it for the cover of their next album, “London Calling.”  I saw the whole thing - he tripped over his cord, and decided that the bass had ruined his exit, and he looked at the bass as if he wanted to kill it.  Then he turned away, then he stopped and turned back.  He broke free of the fellow guiding him offstage, and ran back, and picked up the bass, and swung it in a wide arc, making well-wishers who now crowded the stage jump back, and he smashed it over and over.  Then he threw it down and stalked off.  Joe Strummer had stopped to look, and now he came over and picked up the pieces, shaking his head.  Then he set it down and left.  The following night’s show was great too, but not as intense as the first.
               A year or two later, when “Sandinista,” their triple album, was out, they came to Bond’s Casino, a gigantic new club on Times Square.  They were going to play there a week, and sold a lot of tickets, but then the fire department closed them down, saying there wasn’t enough room for that many people each night.  So they made the decision to play for two weeks for less people each show, because they were so responsible and dedicated to their fans.  I saw two or three of those shows, because a friend of mine, Dennis, the lighting guy at CBGB, was hired by the Clash for the engagement, and he got me free tickets. 
               The Bond shows were pretty amazing.  First of all, Bond’s was like an airplane hanger.  Painted black, with mirrors and such, it was the biggest bare-floor club in town.  The opening acts were varied - Bo Diddley and such - all roots music the audience didn’t really know.  As usual, there was a big surge of excitement when the Clash hit the stage.  Big big sound.  Strummer would flail madly at his guitar, really fast until he got exhausted, and then his arm would just hang as he sang.  They started with “London Calling.”  And at the end, when they set down their instruments, Topper Headon, the drummer, put his hands on either side of his snare, up on the three-foot-tall drum riser, and vaulted up in a beautiful arc, feet first over the drums, through the air about five feet off the stage, and landed perfectly, feet together, to line up with the other three guys, and they took a bow.  He did this every time I saw them. 

         Bob Marley and the Wailers
               I first heard the Wailers in 1970, when I was living on Long Island.  The local paper was Newsday, and Robert Christgau was then writing for them.  He talked about Reggae, and how great it was, and on his recommendation I got the soundtrack to “The Harder They Come,” which was the first reggae album widely available.  It was a good cross-section of the field, and got me intrigued.  Then he recommended the Wailers’ album, “Catch a Fire,” and I got it.  It was terrific.  I got “Burnin,” the second album, when it came out, and it too was great, though it didn’t impress me as much.  When I got in a band, in 1975, I managed to work some reggae rhythms into my folk-rock group (The Unholy Modal Rounders).  And by then, Bob Marley was getting popular.  I tried to see him at a big group show at the Felt Forum, sponsored by Jamaican Airways, but customs had held him back because of some drug issues.  (As you must know, the Rasta religion specifies smoking pot.)  So he didn’t get to the show, but Big Youth was there.  I had one of his albums, also recommended by Christgau, named “Screaming Target.”  It’s great.  Anyway, Big Youth was a rabble-rouser, and the promoters got nervous and pulled him offstage when he took off his big wool hat and his two foot long dreadlocks came down, and the crowd went crazy.  The host said, “He’ll be back,” to soothe the crowd.  But he didn’t return.  Pretty clever.
               I saw the Wailers at the Beacon Theater in 1976, the first time they’d played NYC since becoming big.  I was one of the only white people in the audience.  It was more like a church service than a rock and roll show.  The band started playing, and there were two conga drums out by the center mike.  They vamped to the “Rastaman Chant” off the “Burnin” album.  Then Bob came out, and he was so stoned that all he could do for a minute or two was stand there and hold his head.  Then he started on the congas, and the chant began.  He was charismatic, but I couldn’t understand a word he said in-between songs, though the rest of the crowd seemed to get it fine.  It was a beautiful show, with Rita Marley and the other two singers, Al Anderson on guitar, and the amazing rhythm section of the Barrett brothers. 
               I liked the show, but I realized I didn’t really know what Bob was saying.  I had dreadlocks at the time, I’d had them for six months.  I was maybe the only white guy in NYC who had them.  It was fun at the time, and I didn’t have a straight job, so it was no problem, but the day after the show, I cut them off.  I decided that he knew what he was talking about, and I didn’t. 

               I saw Devo at one of the best possible times, at Central Park, on the tour promoting “Freedom of Choice,” the album where they sort of did robot love songs.  It had their big hit, “Whip It.”  I’d missed them when they were first at CBGB, with their homemade guitars, and now they had mostly synthesizers.  We saw their trucks parked outside the grounds as we walked to the concert - one for sound equipment, the other two for lights.  Each band member was in front of a bank of lights, silhouetting them.  The drummer was on one side, facing the band.  He was great, much better than you could tell from the records.  It was a great show.  At one point in the song “Freedom of Choice,” they pulled up a banner which was lying on the stage.  It showed a donkey and an elephant, with a big “equals” sign between them.  For his big solo in one song, perhaps “Girl You Want,” the guitar player climbed up into the rigging, and swung all the way across the stage, hand to hand, his heavy Les Paul dangling from his neck, finally descending safely on the other side, to take a bow.  He hadn’t played a note during his solo.  Later I heard about a show they did at the Palladium where Mark Mothersbaugh disappeared from the stage to reappear spotlighted, up in the balcony, where he tied a big rope to the handrail and descended to the orchestra, where he ran back to the stage on the tops of the seats, people dodging his feet as he ran. 

               Patti Smith
               Patti had gotten famous for playing CBGB, and my girlfriend, who’d seen her, took me  there.  The crowd loved her, and a lot of the show was great, but some of it was just odd and mystifying.  Or should I say mystic.  What a great voice.  A year or two later I saw her at Central Park, and she was still great, but the sets were still wildly uneven.  A great song would alternate with one that didn’t seem to go anywhere, or do anything.  And at that show it was pretty obvious that drugs were involved: Patti was full of energy, wild energy, and as the show went on, she slumped at the mike, and her roadies came onstage and led her off.  The band tuned a lot, and they did that some after Patti left the stage.  Then they started a new song, and she returned, punching the air with enthusiasm.  I figured the coke had worn off, and the heroin had taken over.  More coke, no problem.  Then they started one of the long mystic ones, and she took out a clarinet.  Someone in the audience yelled, “No, Patti, not the clarinet!”  But she went right on and played, noodling aimlessly for five or ten minutes as we sat in the rain.  Yes, it rained that show, and we all got wet. 

               Talking Heads
               The same girlfriend took me to see Talking Heads at CBGB, just after they’d gotten their fourth member, Jerry Harrison, on guitar and keyboard.  David Byrne looked so odd, up there with his neck stretched, looking kind of insect-like.  And his voice - he was the only guy I’ve seen who addressed the crowd as if there were no microphone, yelling in his high range, “Thank you very much!”  They were great, really original.  The three others looked at David the whole time.  They had a lot of concentration compared to most bands.
               I saw them again at NYU, and again they were great.  They were doing songs from their second album, “More Songs about Buildings and Food.”  The high point was Al Green’s “Take Me to the River.”

               The Cramps
               I heard about the Cramps from Alex Chilton, who I knew from mutual friends.  We were walking along the Bowery in opposite directions, and he stopped to tell me to see the Cramps at CBGB that night.  He said they were great - the way they had no bass player made them sound ominous, he said, because you were always waiting for the bass to kick in, and it never did.  I went to see them, and he was right.  They dressed like a horror movie or something, and Brian had a polka-dot Gibson flying - V guitar.  He was smoking a cigarette, and they waited for Lux, the singer, to give the cue for the first song.  When Lux gave the signal, and they hit the first note, Brian spit out his cigarette about ten feet into the audience, deadpan.  They did “Human Fly” and “TV Set” and “Garbageman” and all the other early stuff.  Lux didn’t have muscles yet.  They had replaced their original drummer, Miriam Linna, and the new guy was really good.  He played a lot of tom toms, to fill in for the missing bass.  They were funny.  None of them ever smiled, especially Ivy.

         John Entwhistle
               I saw Entwhistle about a year before he died, when he came up to Vermont in 2002.  His band mostly did Who songs, with a lot of the ones written by Entwhistle.  He looked like an aging professor, long gray hair and regal bearing.  His hearing was mostly gone, so he couldn’t take requests or anything, but put on a great show - he was great as ever.  He played a few basses that were custom-made with purple LEDs on the edge of the neck closest to him, showing           where the frets were, in the dark. 

               John Cale
               I saw John Cale a few times, once at CBGB and once at Folk City.  He played unbelievably loud at both shows, and everyone who’d seen him said he always did.  His songs were dark and gloomy and drony, with a real abrasive edge.  He was a heavy drinker, and it was hard to appreciate his music without being drunk or drugged.  (A lot of the very avant-garde were like that.  I saw Rhys Chatham, DNA, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, the Bush Tetras, and they were all that way.)  Cale was a hard nut.  I tried to talk to him between shows, when he was standing around drinking with some guys, and I said to him, “You’re great,” and he said, “Say no more,” and turned away.  Nice guy.

               Five Satins
               I saw Fred Parris and the Satins at a supper club out on Long Island, when I lived there in the early 1970s.  Fabulous five-part harmonies.  They were just as good as ever, and they had a great show, a little corny in a few spots.  It was all about nostalgia, after all; it was the music of a world long gone.  Afterwards, I went backstage and got Fred’s autograph on my original first Five Satins album.  He was impressed that I had it.  So were the other guys.

               James Taylor/Carole King
               I only liked James Taylor when his first two albums came out.  I still have the first one.  At the time, everybody thought he was great.  Unfortunately, his rise signaled the rise of a lot of crummy stuff that was similar, which took over the charts from the better music being made.  I saw him in Louisville in 1970, when Jo Mama and Carole King opened.  Jo Mama had some of his  old friends from the Village, like Danny Korchmar on guitar.  I didn’t get them.  But Carole King, who had just recorded “Tapestry,” was pretty amazing.  If there had been any copies of “Tapestry” in Louisville, they would have been gone the next day.  I know, I tried to get one. 
               James Taylor impressed me - he played perfectly, not one wrong note the whole show.  And he sang well, and was comfortable with the crowd.  A year later, I was disgusted with him, but actually he’s pretty amazing.

               First, I saw them as the middle act of a triple show: Elvis Costello, Rockpile, and Mink DeVille.  They came on and blasted through a half-hour that was just beautiful.  They were a well-oiled machine, and each of them had a lot of personality, especially Nick Lowe, the bass player.  He sang about half the songs, Dave Edmunds sang the other half.  Dave was great on the guitar, and so was Billy Bremner.  The set whizzed by, and they didn’t play an encore.  Someone at the show said that that was because they were coming soon as a headliner, and wanted to leave everyone wanting more.  And that they did.
               I saw them at the same place as the headliner a few months later, and they were great again, and for longer.  They had all the energy of the finest rock and roll of the 1950s.  No fancy special effects, just guitars, bass and drums.

               The Blasters
               Another band reminiscent of the 50s, with two brothers on guitars.  They had bass, drums, piano, and a horn player - Lee Allen, famous New Orleans musician who had played on hundreds of hits.  I was in the band that opened for them, so I was backstage.  Their dressing room was off limits, with huge guys standing in the doorway solemnly guarding it.  So we didn’t see them until the show.  They filled the little stage.  Phil Alvin, the singer, was up front, and next to him, sort of pinned against a brick wall, was Dave Alvin, the lead guitar player.  They were fast and loud, really good and rootsy.  When it came time for a piano solo, Dave leaned towards the piano and yelled at the top of his lungs, over the thunderous din, “Play that fucking piano!”

               Rod Stewart

               I hadn’t seen Rod since his days with Jeff Beck, and now he had his own hits, starting with “Maggie May,” a tune on his second album that I got sick of fast.  I drifted away from him about four albums into his solo career; he was getting schlocky.  Then I heard on the radio “The First Cut is the Deepest,” an old Cat Stevens song, and it was great.  Soon after, he did “Tonight’s the Night,” and that was about the time I saw him.
               My girlfriend Fran, who worked for Leber and Krebs, an outfit that managed a number of bands including Aerosmith, Artful Dodger, and the New York Dolls, got free tickets to see Rod at Madison Square Garden.  As you can see, he had grown quite popular.
               The new band was big - three guitars and a keyboard, bass and drums.   Rod was debonair, suave, and carefree.  He was doing well, and he knew it.  There was some corny stuff, like all three guitarists getting together up front to nod their guitar necks together during some easy-going rock-boogie song, and the streetlamp Rod stood beneath for “The Killing of Sister Georgie.”  But it was a good show, and by the end, someone started feeding Rod soccer balls from stage right, and he’d serve them to himself and kick them into the audience.  He was a good former soccer player, and they went all the way to the back of the stadium.  The last song was “Tonight’s the Night,” the one currently on the charts.  I wondered - where is “First Cut?”  Then I realized it must be the encore, and sure enough, when they came back, that’s what they did.  Nice job - a thoughtfully paced show.

               Ted Nugent

               I wasn’t a Ted Nugent fan; he’d never done anything I’d really liked, but he was at the top of his fame then, and when my girlfriend again got free tickets to the Garden, we went.  I wanted to see what the fuss was about, and I liked hard rock, but I wasn’t crazy about some of it - I basically liked introvert rock, rather than extrovert.  Ted was a wildman, a braggart and a gun nut, so an extrovert is what he was.  He was no intellectual.
               Everyone in the management office was given earplugs for the show, and we got two pairs.  Later I heard that everyone on stage had them too.  And they sure were loud.  Ted had a trio, as he always did, and he changed musicians a lot, it was said. 
               When we got to the Garden, there was more than excitement in the air - the crowd was crazy, and it hated itself.  I’ve never seen as wild a crowd.       Firecrackers went sailing through the air to land on unsuspecting people.  Cigarettes flew about.  We looked at each other in amazement.  We pulled our collars up, kept our eyes open for flying things, and waited for the show to begin.  Opening acts came and went, and finally it was time for Ted.
               Ted was all fired up, shouted something about rock and roll, and the crowd yelled like crazy.  Off we went into the maelstrom.  The music was of a type: roaring blues-based pop with shifting time-signatures and plenty of braggadocio guitar solos.  It wasn’t anything I’d take home.  The show roared on though, and finally it was over, encores and all.  We made our way out with the fifty thousand other lucky people who’d seen the show, and then we went backstage.  We stood in an antechamber, a large room next to the dressing rooms.  A buffet stood on one side of this room, and we met all the people from Fran’s job, who had also witnessed the show - they were all there to support their client, their boy, their dynamite rock and rollers who’d just played the Garden.  We had to wait a while to congratulate Ted and his two bandmates, and an aide came by to explain: Ted was in the dressing room yelling at his guys - he did it every show.  He went on and on in there - unfortunately, we couldn’t overhear him.  Too bad, it would have been funny.  Anyway, we finally got tired of waiting and went home. 

               The Kinks
               I saw the Kinks only once, in Cincinnati in 1970.  My wife and I got a baby sitter and took the bus up from Louisville, a hundred miles, to see them.  I had loved the Kinks a long time, and had all their albums except the first, which had hardly any Ray Davies songs.  I had their latest album, “Arthur.”  It was ignored in the States, but we thought it was great.  They hadn’t been to America since about 1964, when they’d briefly toured with their earliest hit, “You Really Got Me.”  Somehow they’d run afoul of the Musician’s Union, and they couldn’t resolve the issue until 1970. 
               They played in a medium-sized club, with a big floor in front of the stage.  Opening was Humble Pie, when it still had Peter Frampton.  They were good, though I didn’t know any of their stuff.  Then the Kinks played.  They had a great tough sound, and the two Davies brothers had tight, hard-edged harmonies that were beautifully unique.  Each song became about ten minutes long, with a big jam in the middle.  They were basically a charged-up English blues band, doing stuff like “Last of the Steam-Powered Trains,” and “Milk Cow Blues.”  “Victoria,” from “Arthur,” was terrific.  Better than the record. 
               My brother Ken saw them on a later tour, and got hooked.  He went to see them about ten more times, all through the 1970s when they had big productions to support their concept albums: “Preservation,” “Schoolboys in Disgrace,” and “Everybody’s in Showbiz.”  He got to see the concert when Ray drunkenly careened backwards towards Dave, and Dave disgustedly stepped out of the way, and Ray crashed into the amplifiers.  This was not a high point in their career. 
               But of course, later Ray stopped the boozing, and by now they must have thirty albums.  The brothers don’t play together anymore, and for a rocking show, I hear Dave is the one to see.
               I went with Fran to see them at the Garden, another show subsidized by Leber and Krebs.  I think Artful Dodger opened for them - a band that had it together in any number of ways, but they bored me silly.  Then came our boys, and it was pretty funny and stylized.  Two giant floor fans kept the band cool, and also blew the scarves they liked, which they all wore and which were elaborately draped from the microphone stands.  And it blew their beautiful long hair, too.  They were good, but I never really got a kick out of them, except for a few songs. 

               Bill Evans
               Bill brought his trio to Bard College in 1965, and I was there to see them.  I heard about the show that day, and showed up at the little hall on time.  I didn’t know anything about his music.  I had heard only that he was a great piano player who was a junkie.  Bill was a little late - his drummer and bass player were all set up, and we all waited a little while in silence.  Then a car pulled up, and Bill Evans walked in.  He was skinny and pale and slow-moving.  He went into the bathroom just offstage, and ten minutes or so went by.  Then he came out, and sat down at the piano.  They played brilliantly for an hour and a half.  I became a fan.

               Joe King Carrasco and the Crowns

               Somebody told me this guy was great; I think maybe it was Lester Bangs, in the Voice.  It was Tex-Mex music, a style that had been around since the 1960s.  Joe’d just played near where I lived, and I’d missed him.  Now he was playing at a club in the 80s somewhere, and I went uptown to see him with some friends.  I’d never been there before - it was sort of bare and black, like most rock clubs.  Joe did two shows, and they were wild.  He had a Farfisa player, Kris Cummings, who was great.  She was a good keyboard player, and the cheesy sound was like nothing else at the time.  Joe was good too, but what was great was the combination of the band: basic rhythm section, nothing fancy, but driving, with Joe’s guitar and the organ.  Every guitar solo was nothing much, sort of Chuck Berry style, but he had a lot of energy and put that across well.  He wanted us to dance, and we did.  He had a long guitar cord so he could go out in the audience, all around the club, with his manager keeping the line untangled. 
               Between shows, Joe kept going out to his car and changing into different retro outfits.  He’d pass us wearing one thing, and then a few minutes later, wearing another.  He finally decided what to wear for the second show, and the show was equally good as the first.  He also wore a big plastic crown for part of the show, because he was the “king.”  It was pretty funny.
               I saw them again at TR3, a sort of underground club in Tribeca.  The opening act was someone I’d played with in a rock and roll band, Elodie Lauten, who had now metamorphosed  into a sombre, mysterioso piano soloist.  She slunk off before I could speak to her.  She didn’t speak to anyone, I think.  I got there pretty early, when the place was kind of empty, and Kris Cummings came up to me and asked if I had change for a dollar, because she needed fifty cents for a phone call.  I had fifty cents, and handed it to her, trying to wave off her dollar, but she gave me the dollar anyway.  I got change when I got a beer.  A half hour later, I started talking to Joe as he was setting up, since I was one of the only people in the room.  We talked about this and that, and then Kris walked up and Joe introduced us, and when she put out her hand, I put her other fifty cents into it.  She stared for a second, then it dawned on her that I was the same guy, and she smiled.  It was nice.  She was nice.  If the manager hadn’t been her husband, maybe I could have gotten somewhere with her.  But who knows - she lived in Texas, after all.
               One of my fondest memories of this show was seeing two of the Clash hanging around drinking at the club.  It was Topper, the drummer, and Mick Jones.  They were really drunk, and they had walkie-talkies on their belts so they could call their chauffeurs or bodyguards if something got tricky.  I told them they were great, and we slapped each other’s hands.  They were nice guys.
               I saw Joe and the Crowns at the Bottom Line a few years later, when they had a major label album.  Kris had both the Farfisa and a synthesizer.  She had a problem with the organ, and they had to play “Louie Louie” with the synthesizer, which seemed to unsettle Joe a bit.  The equipment trouble messed up the momentum, and the show was only decent.  I forgave them.

               Iggy Pop

               I had heard the Stooges back in the early 1970s, I had their first album, one John Cale produced.  It was pretty good, kind of  purposefully awkward and edgy.  A friend of mine had seen them live, and had quite a story to tell.  It had been at Max’s Kansas City, a famous club downtown which had been a hangout for Andy Warhol’s gang.  First of all, the show was upstairs, in a place which held about a hundred people, and Iggy put ninety people on the guest list.   Then at the show, which was insanely packed, Iggy had a big tank of oxygen, which he kept going over to and inhaling from.  He got crazy to the point that, after some idiot smashed a glass on the stage, he rolled around on top of it and got some really bloody wounds on his chest.  Off he went to the hospital, ending a wonderfully typical gig.
               Then early in the 80s, living back in New York, I heard his new stuff, “The Idiot” and “Lust for Life,” which David Bowie produced.  They sounded great.  Iggy had a wonderfully deep voice, and his writing had a lot of deadpan humor, similar to Lou Reed.  He did a tour opening for Blondie which I missed, with David Bowie himself on keyboard.  Then he came around again, and for some reason I was ready, so I got tickets.  It was at the Palladium.  I don’t recall who opened.
               The thing that struck me from the first was the drum sound.  The drums and bass started, and no one else came in for a long time.  I had read about the tour, and knew it was the Sales brothers, two of Soupy Sales’ sons, dressed in black leather, with boots.  It sounded like a whole band already - the snare was the crack of lightning, the bass drum was thunder.  It was a great drum sound, and anything played or sung over it would have an easy time.  I figured Bowie had something to do with it.  Then Iggy came out, with no shirt, and entertained us for an hour or so.  He alluded to unleashing our hidden sexual energies, as he rolled on the floor and clambered up on things, going back and forth.  He writhed well, sang well, and it was a rousing show.
               I saw him again a few years later at the Peppermint Lounge.  He was then supporting one of his so-so albums, maybe “Soldier.”  He started out by rousing the crowd directly surrounding the stage, asking them if they wanted to see his cock.  Everyone said yes.  He was again wearing no shirt, just some sweatpants and a jockstrap.  To a group at one end of the stage he pulled his pants down and the crowd went “Whoo,” and then he went on to another group at centerstage and pulled them down and the crowd went “Whoo,” and then he went to the far end of the stage and did it again.  “Whoo.”  So, now having the crowd firmly on his side, he went on with the show.  It wasn’t as tightly focused as the one I’d seen, but it was pretty good.  He always made sure to have an impressive band, one that could put across his apocalyptic shtick.  Yea, Iggy.

 Well, there are some old rock and roll show stories.  The best to you all.  3-11-13

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