Friday, March 24, 2017

Don't FIX Somethin' (If It Ain't Broke!)

Ahhhh, the good old days ...
It was my very first car -- just like you see it here. Except green. And dull. And with rust spots. And with someone's cigarette burn in the back seat.

But it ran great ... until the day my family told Ol' Fimblefingers (now known as me ...) to go out and put the oil and water in it!
Now, I knew more about brain surgery than I did about cars, but ...

Chuck, circa 196something: "W-well (gulp!), h-here goes: First, ummm, open the hood. Okay, now (tremendous crash, followed by searing pain) ... RAISE the hood and extract my fingers from the front."
A few hours later ...
"The doc said they're alright, just bruised. Now ... where were we? Ahhh, yes! Up with the hoodANDPUTUPTHATBARTOHOLDIT THERE!
Now ... ummm, that ... that fan in front can't afford to rust, soooo ... the oil goes ... I guess in ... that radiator hole! THERE! That'll keep it from jamming up!"
"And since the motor gets hot -- wellll, it'll have to cool down, and what better than water, right?? So the waterhose goes into that shiny-capped hole on the engine block!"

After a few minutes, Curly ... er, Shemp ... er, I went into the house and proudly announced that I'd done it! I'd filled it with water and oil!

(HEY!! Stop snickering, okay?? I'm older now and know better. Besides, you get a lot of fresh air by walking!)

Yeah, I took it for a spin. Of about fifty yards ...
and after the laughter subsided (a few hours later), my dad told me, Son, if it ain't broke, don't FIX it!"

And, Mousers, that's why I look so studious and pensive whenever I watch The Three Stooges now. I can identify!!

In a way, it reminds me of when some stations wanted Uncle LL to make his show more "sophisticated" (read: uppity). According to the MetTimes, they also meant cutting the lip-synching and "goofing off". Fortunately, Lloyd just kept on doing what he did best -- being himself -- and never changed what he did!

Y'see, just like my daddy said about the now-deceased BoltBucket, If It Ain't Broke, Don't FIX It!" Our Head Cheeser proved, time and again, that if you've got a winning combination in your career, life or both, stick with it! Don't let anybody tell you how to change it! Maybe they're good at their thing, but that doesn't mean they're experts at yours!
And Lloyd -- well, if anybody knew how to bring good vibrations to both the KCOP stage, the small screen and to hearts around the country, it was him!

Stay tuned ...

Monday, March 13, 2017

TODAY IN ROCK (It's March 13, btw)

Beginning with this post, we're gonna add some new segments to keep it fresh (now, if I could just do that with my store-bought bread, I'd be set ...)

Actually, I've cranked up the Way-Back Machine to (awww. if ya don't remember, I'll refresh your memory in a minute) to see what happened in R&R decades (or so) ago.

On this date in 1971, for example, a controversy surrounded one of the most tightly-harmonic top-charters of the decade.  Michael Brewer and Tom Shipley (collectively known, of course, as Brewer & Shipley) released a fantastic folk-rock tune called One Toke Over The Line.
Almost as soon as the song was released, a lot of ultra-conservatives (read: older folks) said that they were talking about drugs (ie, "toke" being slang for a hit from a marijuana joint).

But, people, I'd been bus/train human-cargo for some time, and can tell ya "'Tain't so!!"  You see, when you were thinkin' about going somewhere by either conveyance, you were coming close to "drawin' the line".  When I was actually sittin' in the railway station, got a ticket for my destination (whoops!  Heh-heh ... sorry.  Wrong song ...), I'd already gone (ready?) "over the line".  Meaning: I'd gone beyond deciding, and was on my way, having already bought the ticket!
Here .... listen for yourself, then I'll be back with more:

Now ya see? btw, if you hear a little steel guitar in the mix, thank the musician - a chap named Jerry Garcia!

DANCIN' WITH THE BB's: On this date in 1965, the Beach Boys released a cover of "Do You Wanna Dance?", the Bobby Freeman classic that hit #12 in the Billboard charts. The lead singer on this one was drummer Dennis Wilson. In his place on the skins was Wrecking Crew member Hal Blaine - with Leon Russell on organ and future Bread winner Larry Knechtel on bass.

OH, WHAT A NIGHT: And coming in at #1 on this date in 1976 was The Four Seasons with their hit December 1963 (Oh, What A Night) - a song originally written about the Prohibition era (ergo, "1963" was to be "1933". The producers thought it'd flop, though, so the crew got new lyrics and did a date-change on it). Unfortunately, it was the last hit of the FS.

THE WAYBACK MACHINE? Okay ... who remembers Rocky and Bullwinkle? Then you probably know about the eclectic, professorial and smart-as-all-get-out bowwow Mr. Peabody who, along with his hyoo-min sidekick Sherman, rode the time-space continuum (man, I love those Trekkie words!) to wherever they wanted. Preceded Marty McFly''s Delorean by a quarter-century!

Oh ... one more thing: In England, a chap by given name Peter Blair Denis Bernard Noone decided to take that hyoo-min's name and call himself Herman. Then he hooked up with a fledgling band known as The Heartbeats and, voila - Herman's Hermits came to pass!
So now ya know!

Okay ... more coming up in a day or two, so stay tuned ...

Friday, March 3, 2017

High "Noone" At the HH Corral

Awhile back, I had the distinct privilege of talking at length with Peter Noone (he of Herman's Hermits, who, you might remember, played The LT Show). An amazing young man (well, he is! I'll explain in a minute ...), he still retains the lively, witty personality that made him a star to begin with.

But wait ... there's more!

"Herman" (named after the cartoon dude "Sherman" of Mr. Peabody's "way-back-machine" fame) has grown into quite a rock historian as well as savvy philosopher. He still has the looks that charmed millions of girls and some rabbits back then.

The last I'd heard of the other four: Karl Green (bass and left-handed, bless him) is now doing sound and keyboard installations; Keith Hopwood (rhythm guitar) is still performing and producing; Derek ("Lek") Leckenby (lead guitarist), sadly, lost a battle with cancer back in 1994.
Now, I'll share some of my interviews with him soon, but, for now. I'll ...

wait! I forgot their drummer, Barry Whitwam ...

Barry's now fronting the band, Herman's Hermits!

Ummmm ... WHAT?!?!?

Actually, there are two HH bands making the circuits! One is Barry's band, which is pretty much limited to UK (Britain, not that Kentucky university) gigs, and the other is Peter's band, which is actually a group of very coordinated and talented backing musicians.
The dig is that Herman Himself can't use the name of his old band over in England and, if Barry wanted to bring his troupe to America, he can't use the Hermits moniker.

But there's only one real Herman ... and, when you look at his "spunk" (that's allowed here in the states. Dunno about the UK ...), his creativity, his fan-friendly personality, and the fact that he's kept his hair, you'll see a guy who was more like Uncle Lloyd than most other rockers (Freddie Garrity excepted. More about this amazing "court jester of rock" later. RIP, mate ...).

And he and LL had one other trait: Due to their lively, optimistic and creative personalities, their fame has lasted lonnnnnnng after the British Invasion. In other words, they proved Andy Warhol wrong when he said that everybody has their 15 minutes of fame.
They took that "15 minutes" ... and extended it to fit a lifetime!

I'm checking the old Relic-box to find the interview I had with Peter himself. As soon as I find them, I'll post the gabfest (actually, more a Q&A) right here ... so

Stay tuned ....

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Not EXACTLY A "Masterpiece"!

Sometimes, ya just have to wonder about this "music" business ...

Just a couple of hours ago, I was listening to the radio when, suddenly, a song by the popular British performer Jessie J blasted across the speakers.  Granted, she has an amazing voice ... some pretty good looks ... but a potty mouth!!  Her song, "Masterpiece", could've been a pretty inspirational number - except that it blantantly included the "sxxt" word in the lyrics a couple of times!
After checking the lyric sheet, I was kinda glad that's the only slime-word they let in it!  There was another one ...

Y'know, for years, the broadcast media had standards that kept obscene junk like that off our radio and TV. (Sigh) but, of course, this is the age of "hip-hop" (not my cat; the "music"), rap and all sorts of attorneys who'll go to bat for composers and performers (they whine that their "First Amendment" rights are being breached). Fortunately, I had a young heavy-metalist from N.C. explain it to me: "Man, it all comes down to the money!  If they can make more by rattling some brains and shaking a few hormones, they'll do it!"

Now, back-in-the-day - when there was a moral code (remember??) - we were hoppin' and boppin' to the best music on the planet.  We didn't need the nasty-talk to make a hit, and the censors were pleased with that.  But there were some acts they could pick on - and, my, look how nasty these songs were (??? yes, I'm being sarcastic!) . For example:

Wear My Ring (Around Your Neck Elvis' song was panned and banned by many Catholics because -- it promoted "going steady"! (by the way -- do kids do that anymore?? Ya never hear of it ...)

D. O. A. Bloodrock's 1971 (and only) hit was banned almost across-the-board, because it described the death of a teenaged girl in a plane crash - despite the fact that it described an actual news report!  (But J. Frank Wilson's  Last Kiss and Ray Peterson's Tell Laura I Love Her were alright, right? And Dickey Lee's Patches as well?).

ROCK MUSIC The BBC banned the whole genre from its airwaves until 1966 (partly. 1971, fully). Part of the reason: Promoters Jack Good and Larry Parnes promoted a stable of performers whose stage names were based on their ... ahem! ... sexual performance.

BAD BOY The Beatles' rocker (from Beatles '65 here in the States) was banned from AOR stations because it promoted "juvenile delinquency."

was banned in some markets because the original dealt with teenaged pregnancy. So Van Morrison recorded an alternate version to please the stations.

Listen to this: In El Paso, a radio station stopped playing all records by Bob Dylan because ... they couldn't understand his lyrics! (hey ... what's so hard about understanding peace??)

PICTURES OF LILY by The Who was banned in most markets because execs said it referred to masturbation. Funny ... years later, those same execs freely played Imaginary Lover by the Atlanta Rhythm Section.
What's the diff?

Record mogul Mike Curb, who was president MGM records in 1970, cancelled the recording contracts of 18 of the label's acts because he believed they promoted hard drugs in their songs. Among them: Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme! (sure ... and I guess his hit, Don't Be Afraid, Little Darlin', was a tempting lure into the psychedelic world! L-O-L!!)

In the aftermath of the Kent State shootings in 1970, the Ohio governor banned Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young's OHIO from being played. He was afraid it'd cause more violence (ummm ... wasn't it ... the National ... Guard ... that brought on the shootings?).

So, does it make sense that some of these songs (and their legendary artists) would be banned, while a song with open vulgarity, from a singer who few know yet, can not just be admitted to the airwaves, but promoted so heavily it became a favorite in some markets?

UPDATE:  I have just been informed that Jessie J has "cleaned up" the live version of the song, reducing the vulgar words to "sh" and "effing" rather than the full version.  I'm gonna take it as truth; the girl's still young, and has too much talent to mess up her career (ya don't see Adele doing that, do you?   Point made ...).

It's a weird world ...

Stay tuned ...

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Beatles and Hinson TV

February 9, 1964 - It really was a day like any other day in the old Hinson bunkhouse.
The family had gone to church in the morning, as most of us did down there in Pineville.  Mama'd fixed a great Sunday dinner of fried chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans (fresh from the garden).. And (I meant the beans and 'taters.  The chicken was store-bought ...) we knew that (I ... think ...) there was going to be something rrrrreallybig on the Ed Sullivan shhhhewwww that night.

Sure, we'd heard about a popular band from England - one calling itself "The Beetles" or something (my mind went directly to Buddy Holly's Crickets when I first heard of them) - coming into LaGuardia Airport in New York on Friday.  But what, exactly, were they like?

Well, we kids wanted to stay home and watch it - just because we heard they sounded really cool. Oddly enough, daddy was in total agreement!!  He wanted to know what all the fuss was about.

Sooooo,  at 8:04 PM on that magical evening, Ed introduced, "And now .... THE BEATLES!!" to an audience full of screaming youngsters.  Daddy broke out laughing at it, while Mama gave her quizzical "What-in-the-FARRR....???" and went back to the kitchen.

Sure, they looked kinda neat - and almost impish with that long hair and .... wait: that guy on the left?  Why ... he ... he's left-handed, just like me!!  Extra cool, to me!
Wish I could hear 'em better, though.  Those girls screamin' like that made it hard to hear.
The song, All My Loving?  Sounds sorta average.  I mean, Buddy could've done that one.  Kinda sounds like his style.
She Loves You?  Man, I'm swaying with it and, for some reason, my hands are gettin' sweaty!!  I'm watching that guy in the middle working the fingerboard of his guitar.  God, I want to play one of those things so bad  (read my guitar story).  And why does that guy on the end look like he's chewing gum or something?  Can you do that and sing, too??

They did a couple more songs (meanwhile, I was tugging at the hair over my ear, hoping it would grow like that.  Today, I'm tugging at my ear-hair, hoping it will stop growing), then Daddy reached over and, while laughing sort of like he was making fun of 'em, turned off the set.
At that time, he made his famous comment:
"Boys if I ever see you try to look like that, I'll get with you like Karo got with syrup!"  He never thought they'd get anywhere - just a "flash-in-the-pan" that Sullivan had dug up to get a rise out of his viewers.  Mama thought they looked silly ...

But ...

it wasn't long before Daddy got me an old guitar to practice on.  He'd take us to K-Mart to buy records from The Beatles and bands like The Dave Clark Five, The Kinks and others.  My favorite at the moment, next to these, was Del Shannon.  And he was (gulp!) American!!  When I started performing, Mama even arranged for my first two gigs.  A family friend, James White, arranged for me to audition for a talent scout.  And three men - Marshall Lemmond, our laundryman; Rick Tucker, who used to play with Chet Atkins (guitar I mean) and my Uncle A.L. Hinson - taught me more about the guitar and how to work it onstage.  But (referring to the link above), Daddy was the one who taught me the real meaning of the guitar.

Still, it all started on a Sunday night .... 1964 ... February 9 ... on an old Zenith black-and-white TV that was infested with ... Beatles!!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Remember? Oh, What A Feeling ...

He was my own little DAWK® ...

Actually, I bought this little number for my son, Mike, on his tenth birthday. The kid was wild about the Star Wars phenomenonemoennon and just had to have one of the little green dudes. Little did I know that I'd grow up to look like that character (minus the green skin. I'd stopped smoking ...)!
But, upon hitting the local toy supermarket and finding this much-in-demand squirt, I thought of Uncle Lloyd's famed mini-protester and figured, "One day, Mike'll be allll grown up ... and this little gem's gonna be MIIIIIIINE!HAHAHAHAHAAA!!"

Or so I thought ...

Years later, when Mike had discovered girls and turned sixteen (I'm not sure which came first), he hit me up with the same request. But, for some reason, the name had changed: gone was the Toy Yoda, the little Gremlin character from SW (a toy Yoda/Gremlin? Don't they call that a hybrid now??). The second "Y" was dropped, the "d" turned into a "t", it grew four wheels and a V6 engine, and was wayyyyy more expensive.
Yup ... he got it. And I've got my little DAWK® wannabe.

Guess which one's gonna be recalled??

Now, this little dude was the main-eventer in rock dolldom! Let's face it ... he (it ... was a "he", wasn't it?? Never bothered to check ...) actually epitomized everything about Uncle LL, his fans -- and, really, our generation in general: Lively, outspoken, a little rebellious/a little impish, cute-as-a-bug's-ear.
WE INTERRUPT OUR REGULARLY-SCHEDULED MADNESS FOR AN E-MAIL UPDATE: Dateline: RockVille -- We received word no less than two minutes ago that one reader considers baby-boomers too old to act like a bunch of (quote), "overexcited teenagers on, as you said in your last post, 'Gerital'"!
Ummm, careful with how you spell that last word, pardner! You came mighty close to ... well, it sounded like you were spellin' something else.
Mr. Fancy Pants continued, "At your age, you are all dichotomies."

Look: You can't tell what we, as boomers (including a few pre- and some pro-), have by just looking at us anymore than you can tell the value of a gift by looking at the box it came in.
What Lloyd Thaxton did was plant a few seeds of inspiration, happiness and hope within us. He knew how to push just the right buttons to get our creative engines started. His zaniness influenced our own attitudes. We felt that we really had a friend there on the screen -- and we did!
We carry that -- and memories of him -- inside us ... and we're all the richer for it.
So it shows up during those 1440 minutes of every day. After the bill-paying, timeclock-punching, drivetime madness of everyday life, we deserve the break that remembering Lloyd Thaxton gives us! Unlike you, Mr. Poison Pen, he really cared and appreciated us!
Okay, so we, in our minds, still have the liveliness we felt as "overexcited teenagers". To borrow from a very familiar phrase: "SOOOOOO WHAT??"

TICKLING THE IVORIES (kid version) ...

While a number of us still remember the piano lessons that our mothers signed us up for, we still love those videos of little kids tickling the ivories (aka playing the piano) for the first time.  And, when we see them on shows like America's Got Talent and the like, we're spellbound by how well they've learned their craft.
Today, there's a renewed interest among youngsters in learning how to play the keyboard.  Chalk it up to its domination on their favorite Top 40 hits, the actual sound of the pianos themselves, or even their awe at the sounds created by synthesizers, but children are turning to the "88's" again.
Of course, if a child in your family is interested in learning how to play, the very best place to start is just behind the link you're about to see.  First, you have a magnificent and affordable kids keyboard selection at MF .  But there's more!  They also teach you how to shop for the best one - the keyboard that could be tailor-made for your child!
So why not click that link now?  You never know - your child/grandchild could be an impresario one day, and it could start with that one little step!!

Stay tuned ...

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Bonanza of Baby-Boomers

Ah, the Sixties! With the present world in turmoil over situations as diverse as war in Sudan, immigration bans and Madonna wanting to bomb The White House, we long for a return to those thrilling days of yesteryear. It was certainly a simpler era for most Americans…
at least until mid-decade, when a remarkable group of youngsters that soon became known as “hippies” and “peaceniks” began appearing in American society. Considered “freaks” by many in the older, often hawkish, generation, they believed in such absurd ideas like peace, love and equality. Sit-ins, peace rallies and even a Woodstock wouldn’t change the opinions of the “establishment”. But little did that generation know that the actions of these mid-1960s “freaks” would create a much better world for all of us here in the 21st Century.

To prove the point, we have to go back in time for a quick history lesson. Now, we know The Beatles, The Byrds, Sonny and Cher, The Grateful Dead, Woodstock, Jimi, and a zillion other musical talents marked the landscape of those years.
But who'd ever forget the great #1-with-a-bullet (or more) hit called VIETNAM? While the fighting and subsequent death toll seemed to escalate, there was no real strategy for lasting peace from either Washington or Saigon.

We were apprehensive about a foreign country having “the” bomb, and its apparent capacity to use it on us. Various parts of the country sweated through near-famine heat waves, and New York City went powerless at one point. Other areas were well-lit, but by fires started in the heat of racial violence and riots that seemed to be endless. Parents wrestled with their kids about the dangers of “experimenting” with various drugs, but it seemed as if they were turning a deaf ear.

But, just as it seemed that Washington had turned its back on the voice of mainstream America and we were heading for an enormous, collective breakdown in society, the youth of America showed its collective power. From flower children to serious scholars, their voices helped to influence the end of the Vietnam War.
 As they gathered together for philosophical lectures and rock concerts, one could see the beginning of voluntary racial integration.
Whether living in communes or small communities, they worked together to build houses, plant and harvest gardens and more. Their burgeoning interest in religion (Christian or not) influenced young and old alike to either look within or to the heavens for support and protection.
Through it all, the older generation still thought it all repulsive; how dare these young upstarts, with their long hair and peace symbols, to challenge what was happening in “their” America?

Today, the “old fogies”, for the most part, have passed on. And these same “upstarts", now part of an elite group known as “baby-boomers”, are working through the establishment they once spurned to bring an end to a not-so-different war. They work side-by-side, Americans of all colors and creeds, as friends, associates and peaceful neighbors. These same people act, often spontaneously, for the good of others, whether it’s helping to get someone’s car running or lending their hands to rebuild a city destroyed by a hurricane or tornado. Their faith has passed the test of time and has spawned a number of today’s most dynamic evangelists and preachers.
They use the experience of their own past to teach their children and grandchildren the dangers of substance abuse, the wholesomeness of nature and the warmth felt by having a true fellowship with mankind, no matter what color or creed is represented. They empathize, sympathize and counsel more readily and with more impact than their predecessors because that’s what they learned by true communion with each other.

Whether they’re in Congress, a seat of a local town council or just a voting citizen, they know that to listen to one’s conscience is the better way to handle things if that conscience is acted upon. Gone are the days of siding with someone simply due to party affiliation or favoritism. Thanks to them, this country has a fighting chance to shine, once again, on the world stage – and bring peace, once more, to its people.

That’s pretty good for what was once considered a bunch of “long-haired” freaks, right?