Eddie Cochran and Gold Star Recording Studio

by admin  11th Mar 2022 Comments [0]

By Harvey Kubernik

 

A 1957 photo of American singers Little Richard, Alis Lesley and Eddie Cochran in Australia grace the cover of Bob Dylan’s next book The Philosophy of Modern Song, which will be published by Simon & Schuster in November 2022. Both Bob Dylan and Eddie Cochran recorded at the landmark Gold Star Recording Studios in Hollywood, California.

Paul McCartney, as a 15 year-old, performed a version of Cochran’s record “Twenty Flight Rock” as the first song when he auditioned for John Lennon on July 6, 1957 in Liverpool.

Time to examine Gold Star’s audio legacy and Eddie Cochran.

There it sat, another anonymous cinder block facade in the working class section of Hollywood, far off the map of celebrity homes. But discerning eyes and ears knew that, behind this unprepossessing veneer, there lurked an authentic powerhouse of star-making capacity. This was Gold Star Studios, ground zero for transforming the fervid imaginings of pop music’s visionaries into three intoxicating minutes of backbeat and hum.

Like Merlin’s apprentices, Gold Star co-owners and engineers Stan Ross, Dave Gold, and Larry Levine presided over this exercise in alchemy, where inspiration and perspiration produced hit after hit. Their clients included Eddie Cochran, Ritchie Valens, Jack Nitzsche, Phil Spector, Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, Sonny & Cher, Cher as a solo artist, Buffalo Springfield, Charles Wright, Ike & Tina Turner, Stewart Levine, Hugh Masekela, Gloria Jones, the Righteous Brothers, Chan Romero, Brian Wilson with the Beach Boys, Iron Butterfly, the Cake, Harry Nilsson, Arthur Lee, Jimi Hendrix, Dr John, the Chipmunks, Chris Montez, HB Barnum, Buffalo Springfield, Dick Dale, Bobby Darin, Johnny Burnette, Dorsey Burnette, Bob Dylan, Clydie King, record producers Charlie Greene and Brian Stone, Thee Midnighters, Boris Karloff, Harold Batiste, Ronnie Spector, Darlene Love, Donna Loren, the Sunrays, Mark Guerrero, the Murmaids, Jackie DeShannon, the Runaways, the Ramones, the Go-Go’s, Concrete Blonde, the Watts 103rd Street Band, Shel Talmy, Led Zeppelin, Duane Eddy, Kim Fowley, Marlon Brando, the Band, the Seeds, the Monkees, the MFQ, and the Turtles.

Gold Star was also the primary studio where the instrumental music tracks and background vocals were pre-recorded for the monumental ABC-TV series Shindig! produced by visionary Jack Good.

“Gold Star felt and sounded different from any other Los Angeles studio,” explained Howard Kaylan, Turtles’ co-founder, to me in a 2013 dialogue. “You could literally smell the tubes inside the mixing board as they heated up. There was a richness to the sound that Western and United, our usual studios, never had. Those two rooms sounded clean, while Gold Star felt fat and funky. Perhaps we were all reading too much of the Spector legacy into the room, but I don’t think so. Our recordings from Gold Star always just sounded better to me. I miss that room.”

In the late seventies I supplied some percussion and handclaps on a handful of Spector-produced dates at Gold Star on sessions on Leonard Cohen, the Ramones and the Paley Brothers. In 1982 I produced my own session at Gold Star one afternoon. I was back in a candy store hearing playback results drenched with reverb and echo as the clock ran…

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The Monkees. From One Who Was There…

by admin  6th Jan 2022 Comments [0]

By Harvey Kubernik

 

MICKY DOLENZ, who is now booking himself as “The Voice of the Monkees,” and Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals are scheduled for live shows in 2022. Their tour begins January 22nd at The Palladium in New York City.

It was just announced that Dolenz’s re-imagined recording of Michael Nesmith’s “Circle Sky” was voted Little Steven’s Underground Garage’s Coolest Song of the Year. The track is from Dolenz’s solo album Dolenz Sings Nesmith on 7a Records; a tribute to the songs of Mike Nesmith.

I have my own bio-regional relationship with the Monkees that began in Hollywood during late 1965.

My mother Hilda was employed at Columbia Pictures on Sunset Blvd from 1962-1972, and primarily during 1965-1968 for Raybert Productions, helmed by producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider, overseeing The Monkees at the studio in Gower Gulch. Paul Mazursky and Larry Tucker had developed it for TV adaptation.

Hilda helped type the television scripts for The Monkees, was in the stenography pool on the lot, and did dictation for author and screenwriter Lillian Hellman. Previously, watching these shows was a solid experience.

It used to be a big deal to have televisions and cable to watch such shows. But now it is so simple to access all of the channels. People simply need to purchase Directv packages that are linked to their televisions in order to watch their favorite shows in the comfort of their own homes.

Anyway, I first encountered the four members of the Monkees when they held their first press conference in 1966 before the series was broadcast. I remember two events introducing The Monkees, one in Hollywood at the Columbia Pictures studio and in Burbank at the Columbia Pictures ranch.

During 1966 my brother Kenny and I along with our mom assembled the first-ever yellow colored press kits introducing The Monkees on our 5th Street kitchen table that unit publicist Howard Brandy created. Howard had worked on the Beatles’ movies Hard Day’s Night and Help! Artist Nick LoBianco designed the guitar logo of the Monkees.

Long before it was fashionable, I acknowledged and touted the Monkees’ recorded catalog in a few multi-voice articles and three dozen books. Last century I never found outlets for my own real-to-reel memories of The Monkees. Now I’m asked about them on a regular basis.

What a devoted and ever-growing following they have. And, this commercial and critically-acclaimed outfit isn’t in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? It’s a shonda.

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Motown Founder Berry Gordy Jr. Honored and Interviewed

by admin  29th Aug 2021 Comments [0]

By Harvey Kubernik

 

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts today announced last month that Motown founder, songwriter, producer, music publisher, and director Berry Gordy Jr. would be one of five Honorees who will receive the 44th Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime artistic achievements.

The other Honorees are: operatic bass-baritone Justino Díaz, Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels, stage and screen icon Bette Midler, and singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell.

“This year’s Honorees represent the unifying power of the Arts and surely remind us of that which binds us together as human beings. These artists are equal parts genius, inspiration, and entertainment,” said Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter. “After the challenges and heartbreak of the last many months we celebrate 50 years of the Kennedy Center in DC on December 5th, feting these extraordinary people. We look forward to shaping an even more exciting Honors program and broadcast with CBS-TV.”

“Growing up in Detroit, I was not only Black but the ‘black sheep’ of my family,” said Berry Gordy. “I was a failure at everything I did until I was 29 years old. Throughout the years I’ve been blessed with many wonderful memories, but this—the Kennedy Center Honors—is one that will be forever in my heart.”

A man of vision, drive, talent, and determination, Gordy became a boxer, songwriter, producer, director, entrepreneur, and founded Motown—the hit-making enterprise born in Detroit, Michigan. Berry discovered and nurtured the careers of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye, Lionel Richie and the Commodores, Martha Reeves & the Vandellas, the Temptations, Gladys Knight & the Pips, and other music greats and is responsible for the “Motown Sound” that reached out across a racially divided, politically and socially charged country, to transform popular music.

Actively involved in the Civil Rights movement, he released the recorded speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Expanding to films, his movies include Mahogany, his directorial debut, and Lady Sings the Blues, which garnered five Academy Award® nominations.

I witnessed several of the mid-1960s Motown Revue live road shows in Los Angeles and Hollywood. I danced on a couple of music TV shows when the Motown acts would be booked on the Sam Riddle-hosted 9th Street Weston Melrose Avenue and Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Vine Street location.

In 1966, I saw the Temptations on Shindig! at the ABC-TV studios on Prospect Avenue. They sang live vocals on “My Girl,” mixed with a pre-recorded music track. They were clad in matching powder blue outfits in front of me. That was living color even though the series was taped and televised in black and white.

My brother Kenny and I attended the KHJ Second Annual Appreciation Concert at the Hollywood Bowl on April 29, 1967, for the United Negro College Fund and the UCLA School of Music, headlined by the Supremes with Buffalo Springfield, the Seeds, Brenda Holloway, Johnny Rivers and the Fifth Dimension.

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