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The Stones & Alice Cooper add zest to vintage documentary on Canadian music scene from 1973

During the opening sequence of this documentary on the Canadian music industry from 1973, The Rolling Stones rip through “Jumping Jack Flash” as the crowd at the Montreal Forum go wild. Mick Jagger struts across the stage, before dousing the audience with a bucket of water and handfuls of rose petals—why? I dunno, each to their own, I suppose…

Not to be outdone, Keith Richards plays his guitar as if each chord struck will bring pestilence, plague, death and disaster down on some faraway land. Richards plucks at his guitar with great gothic dramatic posturing—while in the background Mick Taylor plays the tune.

By 1973, the rock ‘n’ rollers of the early 1950s were middle-aged, mostly married with kids. The new generation of youth who filled their place were long-haired, turned on, tuned in, many believing that music could change the world. Where once rock had been about having a good time, now the feelings it engendered were the driving force for political change. Pop music made the kids feel good—and that feeling was how many thought the world should be.
Well, it never happened, as music—no matter how radical—is in the end… entertainment. Those who took their political education from twelve-inch vinyl platters were quickly disappointed and soon awakened by pop’s utter failure to liberate the world, bring peace and harmony and all that. Nice though this idea certainly was, it was all just a pantomime—like Keef having fun hamming up his guitar playing.

Of course, the music industry is a far more sinister business than this—as this documentary Rock-a-Bye inadvertently points out. From the start, our choice of music was manipulated by long hairs with no taste in fashion as shown by their suits and ties and ill-fitting tank tops. These men picked the records that received the necessary air time to guarantee their success—thus making billions for the music industry. As Douglas Rain quotes one cynical record plugger in his commentary, who claimed if he played the British national anthem “God Save the Queen” on the radio often enough it would be a hit. The youth were only there to be manipulated and sold product—plus ça change….

This is a good illuminating documentary and apart from The Stones, there are performances from Ronnie Hawkins (plus interview), Muddy Waters and Alice Cooper. There’s also an interview with Zal Yanovsky of the Lovin’ Spoonful who lets rip a four-letter word (mostly bleeped out) tirade on the state of music in the 1970s. What Yanovsky forgets is that music is a business and only the amateurs and the rich will play for free.
Watch the entire documentary, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Take a look at The Rolling Stones 1966 tour program

The even numbered years seemed to have been more successful for the Rolling Stones than the odd. The band formed in 1962, had their first number one album and number one single in ‘64, made their breakthrough album in ‘66, released Beggar’s Banquet, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and “Street Fighting Man” in ‘68, released Exile on Main St. in ‘72, Black and Blue in ‘76 and Some Girls in ‘78. While the odd numbers came at a price—in 1965 Richards was nearly electrocuted onstage, then came the drugs bust, chaos and disintegration of Their Satanic Majesties Request in ‘67, Brian Jones’ death and the murder of Meredith Hunter at Altamont in ‘69, the fires at Richards’ homes in ‘71 and ‘73, or his arrest for heroin in Canada in 1977—it’s all enough conspiracy to make a numerologist’s head spin.

1966 was a good year for the Stones—they released their fourth studio album Aftermath, which was their first album to be compiled of songs written solely by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards; they had successfully toured Australia, Europe and America before returning to England for a tour of the UK and were well out of the shadow of their rivals The Beatles. 

The band was also in negotiations to make a movie, Only Lovers Left Alive, adapted from the novel by Dave Wallis, and to be directed by Nicholas Ray of Rebel Without a Cause fame.
According to the Stones, they had “waited a long time and spent a lot of time trying to find the right story for [their] first film,” and seemed to have hit on the right subject with Wallis’s sci-fi tale of tribal youth gangs terrorizing London. It was topical, apt, and tapped into both the hopes and fears of what the swinging sixties’ youth revolt may bring. Alas, the deal fell through and no movie was made until Jean-Luc Godard’s One plus One (aka Sympathy for the Devil) or The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus both 1968.

The Stones’s ‘66 tour had incredible support from the Ike and Tina Turner Revue, The Yardbirds (with Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page) and Long John Baldry, whose band around this time had included Elton John on keyboards. It was a lineup worthy of a mini-festival. A copy of the tour program can fetch $125 a copy, but why pay that when you scan through the pages here?
More pages from the Rolling Stones’ past (darkly), after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
High schoolers take teacher to his very first rock show—the Stones in ‘78: Here are his photos
10:07 am


The Rolling Stones

Photographer Joseph Szabo is not one of the bigger names in photography, but his work is nonetheless influential. His book Teenage is a collection of photos of students from Malverne High School in Long Island where he taught photography from 1972 to 1999. A beautiful record of 70s and 80s adolescence, Teenage captures students in class, at home and “at play,” sometimes in fairly sexual situations. The anthology contains an introduction by writer/director Cameron Crowe, and I’d say you can see some of Szabo’s eye in Crowe’s film Almost Famous.

The work you see here is actually from Szabo’s lesser known series, Rolling Stones Fans, a document of his first-ever rock concert. If Teenage seems like the sort of thing that would get a teacher in hot water today, know that Szabo got these pictures after students offered him a ticket (and themselves as subjects) in exchange for a ride. Szabo considers his work a collaboration, with the kids posing and mugging for the camera, so the “staged spontaneity” is a lively theme to his work.

This was from The Stones’ ‘78 tour, promoting Some Girls


Continues after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
The Rolling Stones take over ‘Ready, Steady, Go!’ 1965-66

“The weekend starts here!” was the opening catchphrase for Ready, Steady, Go!—the preferred pop show of choice for millions of British youth between 1963 and 1966. Filmed in a small studio in central London, Ready, Steady, Go! was the first pop show (from 1965 onwards) to present bands playing live—unlike its rival Top of the Pops that continued with predominantly mimed performances until the late 1990s.

Though it may not seem it now, Ready, Steady, Go! was revolutionary television when first broadcast, leading one TV historian to see the program as “a line of demarcation drawn between one kind of Britain and another.”

The “Queen of Mods,” Cathy McGowan was the program’s best known host, who had originally been hired as a production advisor after replying to an advert looking for “a typical teenager.” Other presenters included the (middle-aged) Keith Fordyce and (briefly) singer Sandie Shaw. Unlike most music shows at the time, Ready, Steady, Go! brought in a live audience that could be seen dancing, cavorting and occasionally mobbing the acts.

The show also benefited from allowing artists to play full versions of their songs, and one of the highlights was the specials featuring bands like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Animals showcasing recent hits.  Between ‘65 and ‘66, The Rolling Stones made two showcases performing a variety of tracks including “Under My Thumb,” “Paint It Black” and “Satisfaction.” These sets have since been edited together as a Ready, Steady Go!: Rolling Stones Special which was aired on Channel 4 some thirty-odd years after first broadcast.

Watch the Rolling Stones on ‘Ready, Steady, Go!’ after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The Rolling Stones, Phil Spector and Gene Pitney get drunk and record the X-rated ‘Andrew’s Blues’

Boozing it up
Boozing it up (L-R): Phil Spector, Gene Pitney, Brian Jones, Andrew Loog Oldham, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman, and Mick Jagger

On February 4th, 1964, the Rolling Stones entered Regent Sound Studios in London for a session. The group had released a couple of singles at this point, and the studio was quickly becoming their go-to spot. For this recording, the band was joined by some special guests: singer/songwriter Gene Pitney, Graham Nash and Allan Clarke from the Hollies, as well as genius record producer Phil Spector. By night’s end their combined efforts resulted in a few completed tracks, including one called “Andrew’s Blues,” which is quite possibly the raunchiest song the Stones have ever committed to tape—yes, rivaling even this infamous number.

In his autobiography, Stone Alone: The Story of a Rock ‘n’ Roll Band, bassist Bill Wyman wrote about the wild session, which was produced by their manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, the subject of “Andrew’s Blues”:

We’d become friendly with Phil Spector and attended a star-studded party in his honour thrown by Decca a week earlier; so he continued the friendship by dropping in our recording. Graham Nash and Allan Clarke of the Hollies also came and later Gene Pitney arrived direct from the airport, with duty-free cognac. It was his birthday, and his family custom was that everyone had to drink a whole glass. Pitney played piano while Spector and the Hollies played tambourine and maracas and banged coins on empty bottles. We recorded three songs, ‘Little by Little,’ ‘Can I Get a Witness’ and ‘Now I’ve Got a Witness,’ which we invented on the spot. The session then degenerated into silliness, but everybody had a great time cutting ‘Andrew’s Blues’ and ‘Spector and Pitney Came Too’-—both of which were very rude.

Though officially unreleased, “Andrew’s Blues” changed hands for years before the Internet and is now readily available via YouTube. The tune is a twelve-bar blues and very much resembles another number with the same structure, Tommy Tucker’s “Hi-Heel Sneakers,” which had been released just weeks earlier (the song was part of the Stones’ live sets for a time, and a studio take has been leaked).

The main vocalist on the track is Gene Pitney, who became the first artist to cover a Jagger/Richards composition when his version of “That Girl Belongs to Yesterday” was released as a 45 in January of ‘64. Pitney was introduced to the Stones by Oldham the previous November and promptly demoed the song with the band. Oldham, in addition to his duties managing the Stones, would soon become Pitney’s publicist.

The boys lovingly take the piss out of Oldham in “Andrew’s Blues,” but they also mock the hell out of Sir Edward Lewis, the founder and chairman of Decca Records—the Stones’ label—and the track as a whole can be seen as a commentary on the music business. Or just a drunken lark.

Here’s a lyrical sample:

Yes now Andrew Oldham sittin’ on a hill with Jack and Jill (Jack and Jill)
Fucked all night and sucked all night and taste that pussy till it taste just right
Oh Andrew (yes Andrew), oh Andrew (yes Andrew)
Oh suck it Andrew (go on Andrew), fuck it Andrew (go on Andrew)
Oh Andrew Oldham (yeah), a guy who really know his way around (down down down down)

In his book Phil Spector: Out Of His Head, author Richard Williams called the track “startlingly obscene,” and fifty years on it still manages to shock. This is partly to due the fact that the lead vocals are largely handled by Pitney, who had a very straight-laced public image.

As for “Spector and Pitney Came Too,” a song with that title has been bootlegged, but is essentially an instrumental version of “Andrew’s Blues” with some hot lead guitar added.

Okay, escort your mom out of the room, ‘cause here comes “Andrew’s Blues”:

Posted by Bart Bealmear | Leave a comment
A Dark Korner in the Blues Room: Another view of the ‘Founding Father of British Blues’ (Part 2)
05:17 pm


The Rolling Stones
Alexis Korner

This is a guest post by Stephen W Parsons. Read part one of A Dark Korner in the Blues Room: A dissenting view of the ‘Founding Father of British Blues.

By 1961 Alexis Korner had created a successful Trojan-horse musical outfit with a floating roster of talented players including Jack Bruce and Charlie Watts. In order to get plenty of work they sometimes masqueraded as a New Orleans jazz band but Korner knew which way the wind was blowing and made sure the band kept one foot in the blues.

When Brian Jones saw them play in his home town he realized that it was actually possible to play blues music and make money while doing so. He made a beeline for the suave and charismatic bandleader at an after-gig drinking session and pestered him with questions. Korner responded by inviting the young man to stay with him in London. The historical narrative is that Korner helped to create a stage character for Jones as a slide player named “Elmo Lewis” who opened shows as a solo performer and then introduced him to a couple of other blues crazy lads named Mick and Keith. He also generously donated his drummer to Brian’s new outfit: The Rolling Stones. This would all have been contemplated and planned during late night jamming sessions fuelled by hashish and vintage wine. Korner considered himself to be a connoisseur of both relaxants.

The older man had clearly seen something of himself in his young apprentice’s cultured manner and slightly shifty sense of mischief. As an amateur psychologist he must also have noticed the swarm of unresolved complexes beneath Jones’s polite veneer. Nevertheless he took the time to instruct his protégé on the subtleties of running a profitable blues band and I suspect he found it an interesting experiment. But there was a profound difference between the two men. Jones had talent, an abundance of it, and a face for the sixties. Despite a disgraceful four decades-long campaign by the remaining Rolling Stones to denigrate his abilities, both the records and surviving footage tell a different story. He also looked the business when the Glimmer Twins were still pimply young wannabees impersonating their American heroes such as Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley. In the live arena he projected a concentrated sexual atmosphere that would set young girls squirming in their seats.

No wonder the others resented him, exploited his personality defects and got rid of him at the earliest opportunity.

We now enter the thick fog of Pygmalion territory, of stewardship and responsibility, accompanied by Henry Higgins, Charles Manson, Svengali, Lermontov from The Red Shoes, and Hannibal Lecter, whose most terrible achievement was the manipulation of his psycho-analytical client roster to create other serial killers. It’s a place where nothing can be verified, only inferred, because the bond between sorcerer and apprentice is unspoken. In my own experience the best musical mentors teach mostly by example, make a few pertinent critical comments and stay well-clear of giving advice on personal matters. To step further is to invite what mind doctors call transference and unless the mentor is of sound and balanced character then this is very dangerous territory indeed. 

Korner’s experiment with Jones and company was an undoubted success, but I suspect that the meteoric rise of his young acolytes actually shook him to the core. Imagine being in the right place at exactly the right time without the talent or the image to really get in the game, never mind profit from it. Condemned to be, at best, a “talismanic figure” to the real stars, sidelined and footnoted by history—always a bridesmaid never the bride.

Korner was intelligent and self-aware enough to see it all coming. The music he had preached and championed as a youthful outsider was suddenly mainstream entertainment. It was confirmed in 1964 when the Stones topped the pop charts for the first time with a slice of raw blues. “Little Red Rooster,” featuring the moaning slide guitar of Elmo Lewis, blared out from every juke box and transistor radio in the land. Overnight Alexis Korner, at 33 years of age, had become a respected veteran.

How that must have hurt.

By 1969 Brian Jones was dead in the swimming pool, but the blues explosion was continuing to reverberate. It had also cast a beneficial spotlight back on the surviving American blues legends who were finding new audiences, and better paydays, in Britain and Europe. Alexis Korner played generous host and “fun guide” to these veteran performers when they came through London. One time the Muddy Waters’ whole band spent the night at his Bayswater flat.

Domestically his reputation as the godfather of the blues scene was now under threat. It was his sole medal from the revolution he had put so much energy into and a new contender, with more musical ability, was emerging. His name was John Mayall and he had assembled a star-studded blues band that actually sold records. Jack Bruce had jumped ship from Korner’s outfit in 1965 putting his considerable talent behind Mayall and his new guitar hero, Eric Clapton, before forming the first ever supergroup: Cream.

Jack, Eric and Ginger Baker, who also had a brief stint with the Korner roadshow, took a pocket storm of dynamic blues back to America and broke every box office record as they did so. The previous arrival of British beat groups such as The Rolling Stones and The Animals had provided an interesting hybrid of pop/rhythm and blues for the US teens but nothing to match the scale and solemn intensity of Cream in full flow.

While his ex-sidemen were busy tearing up the world, Alexis Korner was still playing the same round of pubs and clubs and the hot young players were now looking elsewhere for career platforms. Mick Taylor had gravitated to Mayall’s band before moving on and up to The Rolling Stones. Fleetwood Mac with Peter Green on guitar and vocals were adding a strangely dignified lyricism to the 12 bar cannon and Jimmy Page was envisioning an outfit that would expertly blend hard rock, eastern scales and psychedelic music with the dirty soul of the blues. It would be an outfit that rendered all sterile arguments about “the real thing” totally redundant.

Korner woke up one morning and found a 15-year-old boy of mixed race sleeping on his sofa. Andy Fraser was a musical prodigy, who was already playing bass guitar in John Mayall’s band and dating Korner’s daughter Sappho. In his recent autobiography Fraser writes that Korner was ‘almost a father figure’ to him. I am sure Brian Jones would have said the same if he’d lived long enough to write a book about himself.

Korner took the boy under his wing and, as with Jones, introduced him to other brilliant teenage talents who had come under his tutelage: Paul Rodgers, Simon Kirk and Paul Kossoff. He blessed this outfit with the inspired band name Free. It was the Rolling Stones story all over again. The young band members were bound for glory, but like all aspects of the Korner narrative there was a curse alongside the blessing. His professional advice ladled out between fat hash joints was now tainted with a bitterness: there were “breadheads” everywhere, musicians were selling out, becoming pop stars rather than soulful players and, after Plant left him in the lurch, blaming much of the decline on the all-conquering Led Zeppelin. He was filling the impressionable young man’s head with impossible notions of purity which have troubled him, and dogged his career ever since.  The kid had it all. He could compose hit songs, arrange like a musician twice his age, play piano and was a bass giant with a firm reductive style. Check out Free’s biggest hit “All Right Now,” where he has the steely nerve to lay out of the song’s verses then come thundering in with an irresistible bass line on the chorus. 

Free should have been superstars, but Andy Fraser carried his Korner-nurtured demons into the Free camp. They played magnificently and fought like alley cats–broke up–reformed –broke up again and reformed without Frazer before mutating into Bad Company, which signed with Led Zeppelin’s record company and prospered. Their original guitar player Paul Kossoff didn’t live to see the good times. He died on an aeroplane from a heart attack brought on by hard drug abuse.

I first met Korner in 1973 when I sang in a band formed by Andy Fraser: The Sharks. Fraser was heavy company to say the least. I lived in his country cottage for a few months. The House of Usher must have been a more pleasant abode; long silences, abrupt mood swings and a superior air were the hallmarks of the Fraser experience. He was twenty years old at the time, a year younger than me, and acting out like an embryonic Phil Spector.

Every so often we would swing over to Korner’s London flat to pick up a block of black hash. I loathed that place. It had a fusty quality, with Korner radiantly charming at its center. He monopolized the conversation and what used to be known as “mind games” were the order of the day. Even casual, offhand remarks were loaded traps for the unwary. Kossoff was present a couple of times but in no state to chat. Korner’s two teenage sons Nico and Damien were also usually in attendance. It seemed obvious to me that the father of British Blues was keen surround himself with younger men who were easily impressed by his undoubted intelligence and ability to express himself with a sage-like clarity. I had met a few sophisticated bullshitters before so I was impervious to his cultured performance. Others didn’t seem to be so lucky.

Fraser didn’t last long with The Sharks and, despite my enormous respect for his talent, I wasn’t sorry to see him go and, as far as I was concerned, Alexis Korner went with him.

Five years later Korner reappeared in my life when, by coincidence, we were both signed to the same management company. The financial success of his unmusical activities on radio and television had mellowed him somewhat; he seemed less imposing and a little fragile. A long term combination of drink and dope will do that to a person. His musical ventures from that period to the end of his life consisted mainly of profitable European tours in a series of duos with highly talented younger players such as Peter Thorup and Colin Hogkinson.

When I sang with Ginger Baker in the 1970s, Alexis Korner played at Ginger’s 40th birthday party in a duo with Steve Marriott. Despite Marriott’s spine-tingling voice, they were sloppy and disappointing. I remember asking my own mentor, the Grand Master of Percussion, for his view on Korner and it is the pragmatic Ginger who gets the last word on the matter:

‘Musical tosser who surrounds himself with talent so he can look cool’

This is a guest post by SWP aka Snips/Stephen W Parsons/Steve, the founder of the Scorpionics self-improvement system. He sang for various beat groups until 1982 and then pursued a more successful career as a composer for hire until 2004. Since then he has voyaged into peculiar seas. His latest musical adventure is The Presence LDN which will be releasing product in October 2013. His younger, and more handsome self can be seen singing with Ginger Baker in the video below:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Who the hell are these people?: Rolling Stones jigsaw puzzle is puzzling
02:33 am


The Rolling Stones

The puzzle is in trying to figure which, if any, of these guys look like a member of The Stones.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Stones in the Park: Sit and watch as time goes by?
04:28 am


The Rolling Stones

A still from Kenneth Anger’s Invocation of My Demon Brother, which has a solo Jagger soundtrack

Might the Rolling Stones be about to… finally retire?

The name of their current tour, “50 & Counting,” may suggest otherwise, but they are looking at a perhaps irresistible opportunity to go out on a relative high. After all, not only are Mick and Keith pushing seventy—with the latter really starting to seriously lose it on guitar—but they’ve just had a widely celebrated (and long awaited) appearance at Glastonbury, and only this weekend returned to Hyde Park for the first time since their famous free concert in 1969. It’s only rock-n-roll, but surely no future tour can hope for any greater poignancy, unless, I suppose, one of them drops down dead “right on the stage.” You kind of suspect that Mick, for one, might be thinking along these lines.

Anyhow, given the weekend shenanigans at Hyde Park (where tickets were this time weren’t free, but £90 because, you know, the Stones need the money), what better time to watch or re-watch Grenada’s entire 1969 Stones in the Park documentary, a suitably impressionistic portrait of one of London’s hazier days? Besides Jagger’s white dress, his butterflies and his Shelley poetry, there’s Mick Taylor’s unveiling, and plenty of UK Hell’s Angels—a scrawny, malnutritioned bunch who look the obvious inspiration for Billyboy’s gang in A Clockwork Orange. These UK Angels handled the Hyde Park security, but thankfully made a rather less lethal meal of it than their beefier US cousins, who would of course man Altamont’s notorious barricades later that same year.

As for the Stones, I can’t tell if they’re shit here or great. Bit of both, probably. I am, however, suddenly quite daunted by the thought that they won’t be around for ever.

Posted by Thomas McGrath | Leave a comment
The Rolling Stones continue their long march toward self-annihilation
05:23 am


The Rolling Stones
Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift may look the part but but she’s no Marianne Faithfull. Not by a long fucking shot. Not only can’t Swift sing, she has no emotional grasp of the song she’s singing. “As Tears Go By” is one of the most beautifully melancholic songs ever written. Swift and the increasingly pathetic Jagger do a staggeringly insensitive and clueless rendering. Tears? Indeed.

Rolling Stones, you’ve managed to wipe out your own fucking legacy. You’ve stomped it into the ground and turned it into something that no longer remotely resembles the rock ‘n’ roll you once made that changed my life. Go fuck yourselves!

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Don’t Mess With Keith Richards

Don’t mess with Keith Richards: The Stones legendary guitarist doesn’t hesitate or flinch when dealing with a “rogue” fan during a concert. Mick Jagger meanwhile…

With thanks to Carl Hamm

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The Weekend Starts Here: The Best of ‘60s Brit Pop from ‘Ready, Steady, Go!’

This is what cultural revolution looked like in the early 1960s: youngsters dancing in a cramped television studio, as smartly dressed men and women mime love songs.

From its opening line: “The weekend starts here!” Ready, Steady, Go! was one of the most revolutionary and influential programs on British TV.

Between 1963 and 1966, Ready, Steady, Go! brought pioneering performances by the biggest pop names to millions of homes across the country. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Dusty Springfield, Lulu, The Animals, Cilla Black, Gerry and The Pacemakers, The Searchers, and even Peter Cook & Dudley Moore—who later parodied the show in their film Bedazzled.

The miming eventually stopped in April 1965, after the show moved to a bigger studio and artists were asked to play live—most notably now legendary sets by The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Manfred Mann and The Walker Brothers. It gave the show an immediacy and power its rivals could only dream about, but by 1966, as the beat revolution moved on, Ready, Steady, Go! was canceled.

Ready, Steady, Go! had an unprecedented influence on shaping musical taste, and youth fashion, and in 2011, The Kinks’ Ray Davies paid homage to RSG! with a recreation of the show at the Meltdown Festival.


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Andy Kershaw: The Rolling Stones Guide to Painting & Decorating

Andy Kershaw is a writer, a multi-award-winning broadcaster (he once shared an office with John Peel for 12 years, and has won more Sony Radio Awards than any other broadcaster, and was one of the presenters on Live Aid). He is also a foreign correspondent, who eye-witnessed and reported on the Rwandan genocide. His fearlessness as a reporter saw him banned from Malawi under the dictatorship of Dr Hastings Banda.

But that’s only part of this Lancastrian’s incredible story.

Kershaw has worked for Bruce Springsteen; was Billy Bragg’s driver, roadie and tour manager; went on a blind date with a then unknown Courtney Love (to see Motorhead); was propositioned by both Little Richard and Frankie Howerd; spent a week riding out with Sonny Barger and the Oakland Hell’s Angels; went with Red Adair and Boots Hansen to the burning oil well-heads in Kuwait in 1991; and was immortalised by Nick Hornby in High Fidelity, which was later filmed with John Cusack.

This has made Andy Kershaw a bit of a legendary figure—a kind of distant British relative to Hunter S Thompson. This and much more can be found in Kershaw’s excellent autobiography No Off Switch, which I can thoroughly recommend.

But let’s go back to 1982, when Kershaw was working for The Rolling Stones, as Andy explains by way of introduction to this extract from No Off Switch:

I had been, for the past two years, the Entertainments Secretary of Leeds University, booking all the bands and organising and running the concerts, at the largest college venue in the UK. Although non sabbatical and unpaid, I devoted all my time and energies to the job. We enjoyed a reputation - among bands, booking agents and management companies - as a highly professional operation with a long and rich history of running prestigious gigs. I had built up a good working relationship with the major UK concert promoters and, with my Leeds University stage crew, I was often hired by those companies to work on big concerts elsewhere. In the spring of 1982, I took a call in the Ents Office in the Students’ Union, from Andrew Zweck, right-hand man to Harvey Goldsmith, the UK’s biggest concert promoter at the time. “Andy,” said Andrew. “Would you like to work for the Rolling Stones this summer? And could you bring Leeds Uni’s stage crew with you?” Al, referred to in this extract, is Al Thompson, my friend and right-hand man in running the Leeds University concerts. Now read on…

The Rolling Stones Guide to Painting & Decorating

Already the size of an aircraft carrier, the stage was only partially built when we arrived.

Members of Stage Crew, like the remnants of a rebel patrol, were threading their way down through the trees, into the natural bowl of Roundhay Park, and gathering behind the vast scaffolding framework.

A couple of dozen articulated lorries, and a similar number of empty flat-beds were parked up in neat lines. More were rumbling into the park.

We squinted up at the riggers, chatting and clanking, swinging and building, climbing higher on their Meccano as they worked.

“Fuck,” said Al. And we all concurred with his expert analysis.

It was an impressive erection, even for Mick Jagger. And, at that time, the biggest stage that had ever been built, anywhere in the world.

Roundhay, in Leeds, in front of 120,000 fans, was to be the final date on the Rolling Stones European Tour, 1982, which broke records, set standards and established precedents on a scale never seen before. The logistics alone were mind-boggling.

If the scale of the infrastructure being unloaded before our eyes in Roundhay was extraordinary, there had to be - for the Stones to play a handful of consecutive dates in new locations - three of these set-ups on the road, and leap-frogging each other, at the same time: one under construction, a second ready for the gig; and a third being dismantled following the previous performance. We were just a fraction of the total operation.

To meet the backstage requirements at Roundhay, I was to be in charge of those logistics and grandly titled, for the next three weeks, Backstage Labour Co-ordinator.

It was reassuring to find a couple of familiar and friendly faces in the Portakabin offices which had been plonked down overlooking the grassy slope of what would become the backstage area. Andrew Zweck from Goldsmith’s office, and Harvey’s earthly representative during the build-up at Leeds, is a bluff, blond Australian with a reputation for getting things done. Uncommonly, for the music business, Andrew is good-humoured and devoid of self-importance. Similarly, Paul Crockford – Andrew’s assistant for the Roundhay gig.

Dear old Crockers was about the only bloke in the music industry that I actually considered to be a pal. Just a few years old than me, and a former Ents Sec at Southampton, he was now working in a freelance capacity for Harvey Goldsmith’s concert promotion company.

A tour of the Rolling Stones magnitude had required the UK’s biggest promoter to be co-opted as the British servant of the the overall mastermind of the enterprise, the legendary hippy impresario and pioneer, Bill Graham. In fact, this Rolling Stones adventure – taking in Europe and the States over two years - was the first time one promoter had staged a whole tour, globally. Graham’s experiment with the Stones, in 1981-2, would become the model for the industry in years to come. For the moment, however, in this previously uncharted territory, Graham and Goldsmith were making it up as they went along.

Crockers - even when he was ripping me off, selling me bands for the University - is always huge fun. Like Andrew Zweck, he doesn’t know how to be pompous. And like me, Crockers is amused most by the ridiculous and the absurd. This was to be a quality we would find indispensable over the following couple of weeks.

“That’s your desk,” said Andrew, pointing to a freshly-acquired bargain, in simulated teak finish, from some second-hand office supplies outlet. My position was in the middle of our HQ, handily by the door, and with a window overlooking the side of the stage and the slope leading down to where the dressing rooms and band’s hospitality area hadn’t yet been built. I could keep an eye on everything.

Crockers dumped in front me a telephone, a heavy new ledger and a cash box containing five hundred pounds before briefly outlining the mysteries of double-entry book keeping.

It started to rain.

A stocky, bearded little bloke soon popped up at the door.

“Hey, you,” he said. “Who’s the guy around here in charge of all the purchases.” The accent was American.

“Me,” I said. “Mine name’s Andy. Who are you?”

“Magruder,” he snapped, as though he was a brand. And one that I should recognise.

“What’s your job here?” I asked.

“Site Co-ordinator, Rolling Stones.” It crossed my mind it was unlikely he’d have been there for The Tremeloes. “Get me fifty pairs of Hunter’s boots and fifty waterproof capes,” he snapped.

And he was gone.

More from The Rolling Stones Guide to Painting & Decorating, after the jump…
With kind thanks to Andy Kershaw

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Where’s Kenneth?: Anger films The Rolling Stones

Kenneth Anger filming The Rolling Stones at their Hyde Park concert, for his film Invocation of My Demon Brother, in 1969.
Via and with H/T to Making Light Of It

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7 Inches of Pleasure: ‘The Joy of the Single’

The first single I bought was “Snow Coach” by Russ Conway. It was at a school jumble sale, St. Cuthbert’s Primary, sometime in the late 1960s. I bought it because I loved winter, and Christmas, and the idea of traveling through some snow-covered landscape to the sound of jingling sleigh bells . I also knew my great Aunt liked Russ Conway, so if I didn’t like it….

I bought it together with a dog-eared copy of a Man from U.N.C.L.E. paperback (No. 3 “The Copenhagen Affair”). These were the very first things I had chosen and bought for myself, with a tanner (6d) and thrupenny bit (3d). I played the single from-time-to-time on my parents’ Dansette Record Player - its blue and white case and its BSR autochanger, which allowed you to play up to 7 singles one-after-another. My brother had a selection of The Beatles, The Stones, The Kinks, The Who, Elvis and The Move, which he played alternating one A-side with one B-side like some junior DJ. It meant I didn’t have to buy singles, as my brother bought most of the things I wanted to hear, so I could spend my pennies on books and comics and sherbert dib-dabs. It was a musical education, and though Conway was a start, the first 45rpm single I really went out and bought was John Barry’s The Theme from ‘The Persuaders’, which I played till it crackled like pan frying oil.

As this documentary shows 45rpm singles were an important part to growing up: everyone can recall buying their first single - what it looked like, its label, its cover, the signature on the inner groove - and the specific feelings these records aroused. With interviews from Norman Cook, Suzi Quatro, Holly Johnson, Noddy Holder, Richie Hawley, Paul Morley, Jimmy Webb, Jack White, Neil Sedaka, Trevor Horn, Miranda Sawyer, Brian Wilson, The Joy of the Single is a perfect piece of retro-vision, that captures the magic, pleasure and sheer bloody delight of growing-up to the sound of 45s.


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1967: Documentary on ‘The Summer of Love’

The joyful hedonism of the 1960s was in part a response to the trauma to the Second World War. The same way the twenties swung after the first great conflagration. And like that decade, it was primarily the white, upwardly mobile, metropolitan, middle class that enjoyed the sex, the drugs and the rock ‘n’ roll.

London may have been swinging in 1967, but for the rest of the country not a lot changed. It would take until the 1970s for most of the country to get a hint of what London experienced. The most important changes, apart from pop music and American TV shows, were the legalization abortion and de-criminalization of homosexual acts between consenting adults - both of which set the scene for bigger and more radical changes in the 1970s.

Yet, as so many of the media are Baby Boomers, the love of all things sixties ensures TV fills its schedules with documentaries on that legendary decade. 1967: The Summer of Love is better than most, as it covers the cultural, social, and political changes that the decade brought. With contributions form Germaine Greer, Donovan, Nigel Havers, Bill Wyman, John Birt and Mary Quant, together with some excellent color archive, this documentary is a cut-above the usual retro-vision.


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