NYC’s rock Apocalypse: ‘The Day The Music Died’ (with Jimi Hendrix, Van Morrison)
09:17 am

Altamont wasn’t the only hippie rock festival that started with a groovy idea and ended up impacted in the poop chute of the Aquarian Age. 1970’s New York Pop Festival was intended to be three days of fun and music. The result was about as much fun as a weekend with Squeaky Fromme at the Spahn Ranch.

The producers of the festival, appropriately named Brave New World, had put together a truly impressive roster of bands with headliners like Jimi Hendrix, Joe Cocker, Ravi Shankar and Van Morrison. But they immediately ran into problems when The Black Panthers, White Panthers, Young Lords and a dozen-plus activist groups wanted in on the action. The feeling among many in the radical community was that rock festivals had made millions of dollars off the counter culture and it was now time for some payback. Among the demands being made was 10,000 free tickets and $100,000 in bail money for an incarcerated Black Panther. There were other causes, other concerns, other demands. Despite attempts by Brave New World to find some common ground the whole thing turned into a fiasco. But the festival did go on. Though there were some musical no shows that angered an already tense audience, including 30,000 who got in free when fences were kicked to the ground. The most notable absence was Sly and the Family Stone. Sly lived up to his name and was smart enough to pull out when no money was forthcoming.

Bert Tenzer’s Free is a film of the New York Pop Festival that combines documentary footage with scripted sequences. For instance, DJ Murray The K adds some goofy commentary even though he was nowhere near Randall’s Island at the time. The film was released in 1974 and made little impression. Tenzer even went so far as booking the film with unknown bands performing in the cinema. No one cared. Tenzer then re-edited Free and released it as The Day The Music Died in 1976. Doing what he could to try to recoup his investment, Tenzer added clips of Marvin Gaye, The Beatles, The Doors and more, none of whom were actually at the festival. Archival footage of Angela Davis, The Vietnam War, Richard Nixon and Malcolm X was also tossed in to the mix to give the film some political and sociological context. Still no hit.

Despite its boxoffice failure, The Day The Music Died has a lot going for it, capturing a period of time when doing the right thing often ended up a casualty of good intentions gone bad, a time when revolution often spun out of control because of a failure to see the bigger picture. By 1970 the idealism and hope of the Summer Of Love was replaced by cynicism, weariness and the realization that even the purest of Owsley’s acid wasn’t enough to flush the toxins out of the collective consciousness that had accrued over thousands of years of bad karma. The flower children had gone to seed and our heroes were dropping like flies. Mission aborted. We needed to re-group and think things out. We needed to get real.  “You say you got a real solution / Well, you know / We’d all love to see the plan.”

The Day The Music Died echoes the chaos that erupts when the mistrust between political groups, anarchists and street gangs grows unmanageable. The bottom line is capitalism and revolution is a volatile combination, both determined to destroy the other. The ideas that radical movements should get a free ride on the artistic and cultural products of others isn’t revolutionary, it’s parasitic.  As long as artists expect to be paid (as they should) it might be a good idea for political movements to throw their own fucking festivals. Power to the people means all the people, not just the ones that get the Panthers’ seal of approval. I remember when the movie Woodstock opened in Berkeley in 1970 and hippies were picketing outside of the theater where it was being screened.  Warner Brothers was banking millions off the counter culture and the longhairs were pissed. Even back then I thought the protest was silly… and I had hair down to the crack of my fucking ass. I didn’t go to the movie. Altamont had left a bad taste in my mouth and I had an Aquarian Age size hangover.

Towering over all the bullshit that happens in the The Day The Music Died is Jimi Hendrix who started a revolution without dogma, without arrogance and without rules. But he did have a plan and it was called music. There’s an argument to be made that rock and roll did more to positively change the world than any political movement, radical or otherwise. I may be wrong, but it’s an argument worth having. Whatever the case, I ain’t interested in any revolution that doesn’t include a sense of humor and monster guitar licks.

Watch in HD mode. It ain’t great but it looks a bit better.

Posted by Marc Campbell
09:17 am
‘Born to be Wild’: Slade perform ‘another raver’ from 1971

Sadly, Slade got lost somewhere in the mid-seventies. A car crash, a tour of the U.S.A., and misunderstood movie Flame, saw the band lose much of their following to Punk, Queen, Heavy Metal and Disco. A shame, as Slade were a far greater band than the critics and even the fans allowed them to be. Here, for no other reason than it is a fan-bloody-tastic cover, is Slade’s version of Steppenwolf’s “Born to Wild” - the final track from the classic Slade Alive! album - as performed live on Pop Shop from 1971.

Previously on Dangerous Minds

Slade: Proto-Punk Heroes of Glam rock

Bonus track ‘Hear Me Calling’, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher
07:46 pm
The sustaining power of rock and roll: A compendium of rarely seen music vids

Revolution is in the air and we’re all feeling the first rumblings of what may become a long hard winter of discontent. Destiny is kneeling at the hem of absolute reality altering the 13 inch pegged pants that Jesus wore to Elvis’s and Priscilla’s wedding. Gene Vincent’s blue suede shoes have turned a whiter shade of pale and Lou Reed is breaching the tight tangle of his own decadent and decaying bunghole only to discover there’s little velvet left in his underground. At the outer rim of what we have come to accept as the entirety of our little world there’s a fluttering of moth-like wings which, to everyone’s surprise, is the hypnogogic light show palpitating on the moist pink plasma of our eyelids. As we lay dumbstruck on a bed of lavender-scented panty shields, a large shadowy figure hovers above us: the ghost of Canned Heat’s Bob “The Bear” Hite in coitus with a giant rubber replica of Timothy Leary’s pineal gland. Our silent awe is violently interrupted by the lower intestinal flubbering of Mr. Kurt Cobain sucking the last sustaining droplets of Lil Wayne’s bottle of drank while Thom Yorke, wearing a thong made of Gypsy foreskins, cowers in a dark, dank, moldering corner cluttered with the remains of Bob Guccione, Miles Davis and Stiv Bators. As a thousand angels weep, Pete Townshend fumbles for his eyeglasses, slaps them to the bridge of his nose, and places his long calloused fingers upon his computer’s monitor screen where an image of a young Bob Dylan in flannel pajamas sullenly strokes the head of a tattered Teddy bear.

At times like these I always turn to music to recharge the cells that fire the cylinders of change, renewal and transformation. Rock and roll is the soundtrack of my life, perhaps it’s your’s as well.

Here’s a fistful of musical dynamite to detonate within the circle that encloses our dreams, hopes and desires. Let the walls dissolve as our flesh extends into eternity like infinite tendrils of meat, sweat and cum.

Squares, you’ve been warned. Stand clear, run for your lives, or loosen your belts and join the party.

Rarely seen videos from The Music Machine, Baris Manco, Steppenwolf, Fleetwood Mac (with Peter Green), Frumpy, MC5 and Iggy Pop.

Posted by Marc Campbell
02:41 am