Feb 26, 2009

The Drama of Cesar Cedeno's Baseball Career

Cesar Cedeno was born February 25th, 1951 in Santa Domingo. He played a 17 year career most notably with the Houston Astros (1970-1981). He was dubbed the "next Willie Mays" with his speed, defensive skills & power by then Astro skipper Leo Durocher. He batted .310 his rookie season, making a close bid for Rookie of the Year & then hit .320 the next two seasons. From 1972-1974 he hit 20 HRs & stole 50 bases each season. He would steal over 50 bases through 1976 and be in the top four of the league leaders in steals six straight years. He led the league in doubles twice (1971-1972) won 5 straight gold gloves in center field and played in 4 All Star Games. He spent 4 years with the Reds before closing out his career with the 1985 St. Louis Cards.

But with all his glory early on in his carer he would never develop into the super star he was tagged to be. After 1973 he would only hit over .300 once more and only have one 100 RBI season. Cedeno's career would be over shadowed by drama, a bad temper & brushes with the law.

In December of 1973 Cedeno was spending the off season with his wife at his winter home in Santa Domingo. He went out to a cheap motel on the poor side of town with his 19 year old mistress; Alta. The two were drinking & getting high when Alta began playing with Cedeno's gun. She wouldn't give it back and the two wrestled for it. The gun went off, putting a bullet in Alta's head & killing her. Cedeno panicked and fled the scene. The next day he turned himself in & was charged with involuntary manslaughter and spent 20 days including Christmas in jail. He managed to get off by paying a fine of 100 pesos and was free. By March of 1974 he was reporting to Astros Spring Training, as if nothing had happened. Some fans who knew of the drama never let him forget it as they shouted "Murderer" & 'Who ya Gonna shoot next" through out the season.
More drama followed Cedeno as his demons resurrected in 1985. He had an argument with a new girlfriend in Houston and ran his Mercedes into a tree. He then got violent with the police, trying to kick out a window of the squad car & refusing a breathalyzer.

In 1986 a man bumped him accidentally in a bar. Cedeno smashed a glass into his face. He was charged with assault and resisting arrest.

In 1988 he attacked his latest girlfriend also in Texas. As she tried to run away Cesar took their four month old baby and drove away. He returned, beat the girl up again and was charged with assault and resisting arrest.

Feb 18, 2009

The Passing of a Giants Legend : Brad Van Pelt (1951-2009)

On Tuesday morning former Giant legend Brad Van Pelt passed away of an apparent heart attack. His body was found by his fiancee at his apartment in Owosso, Michigan. He was 57 years old.

Brad Van Pelt was born April 5th, 1951 in Owosso, Michigan. He was a two time All American at Michigan State and voted “Player of the Year” in his 1972 senior year. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2001. The Giants drafted him in the second round of the 1973 draft. Second round because he was offered a baseball contract with the St. Louis Cardinals and many believed he was going to take it. He wore #10 in college and was suppose to take a higher number in the NFL due to league rules, but because he was also the teams back up kicker, he was allowed the low number.
Unfortunately the Giants only had only one winning season in Van Pelts playing days. He still managed to go to five straight Pro Bowls (1976-1980) and was voted the Giants “Player of the Decade” for the seventies. In those years of Giants turmoil Van Pelt called 4 Stadiums his home; Yankee Stadium, (1972) The Yale Bowl (1973-1974) Shea Stadium (1975) & the new Giants Stadium in 1976.
The 1981 Giants line backers are considered one of the best units in NFL history. Van Pelt along with team mates Harry Carson, Brian Kelly & rookie Lawrence Taylor, were known as “The Crunch Bunch” and led the team to their first Playoff berth in 18 seasons. After Bill Parcells drafted Carl Banks in 1983 Van Pelt left and signed on with the Raiders. After two seasons he finished his career in Cleveland in 1986.

In a 14 year career Van Pelt played in 184 regular season games, had 20 interceptions and 24 1/2 sacks.

Upon news of his death, two of his former team mates made statements: George Martin: "He was one of the main reasons why the Giants always had a signature defense. He will be fondly remembered and he will be missed, His impact on our lives was greater as a person than it was as a ballplayer."

Harry Carson: "He was a classic teammate who was always there for you. That's the thing I will remember more than anything else was his friendship and the times we spent together after football. "

Van Pelt at Giants Stadium in 2007 with former team mates Harry Carson & Lawrence Taylor

Last Goodbye to the Memory We Called Shea Stadium (1964-2009)

After 45 years the final piece of Shea Stadium was leveled today. I passed by this morning at around 9:15 and saw the last ramp way section of Sections 5 & 7 still standing. As I passed again this afternoon by 2:00 PM it was gone. A small crowd gathered taking video & still photos.

I often drive by on the Van Wyck Expressway and have been witnessing the dismantling all winter long. As much as I am excited about the new Stadium and feel it's time to move on, there is some nostalgia left behind.

Through the years Shea had become very out dated and that became more noticeable with each new ball park I visited across the country. I strongly wanted a new Stadum for years, and feel we the fans desere it. But Shea was all I knew as my teams home ball park. I grew up there and as I look back and pay tribute to past Mets on the centerfield maz site, the back drop is always Shea Stadium. There were alot of great memories there in my life time. Now all that stands in the horizon is our new home Citi Field.

Here are some of my memorable moments at Shea that I can remember and was in attendance for.

*The Rolling Stones "Steel Wheels Tour" 1989- 1st time I had ever seen the Stones. Awesome.

*Billy Joels Last Play at Shea 2008 (Special surprise guests Roger Daltrey, Steven Tyler, Garth Brooks, Tony Bennett & the man- Paul McCartney)

*2003 Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band finish off The Rising Tour.

Met Games:
*1971: Tommie Agee hit a home run off the scoreboard on a beautiful sunny day. One of my 1st memories of Shea Stadium.

*1973 Mets beat their cross town rivals in the Mayors Trophy game. Great early memory of me & my dad at a baseball game.

*1976 Tom Seaver pitching against the Cubs
on Mets Medallion Day. Seaver was & still is my favorite player of all time. Mets won 3-2.

*2003 Mike Piazza Night. Piazza honored by the Mets. Catching greats Gary Carter,Carlton Fisk, Johnny Bench, & Yogi Berra on hand to honor Piazza.
*2006 NLDS Game # 2: Mets beat Dodgers 4-1 to go up 2 games to none.

*2000 NLCS Game #6: Mets Win the Pennant & advance to the World Series. Mike Hampton pitches a 3 hit shutout.

*2002 Mets beat Clemmens 8-0 as Piazza HRs & Sean Estes throws behind Steroid boy. The hype was awesome & beating up on those bums made it a great beer drinking good old heckling time for me & Darren.
*1984: Dwight Goodens 1 hitter against Chicago Cubs in the heat of the pennant race.

*1984 Dwight Gooden strikes out 16 Pirates setting Rookie record. Maybe the best pitching performance I ever seen live.
*1985 Dwight Gooden wins his 20th game.

*1986 Mets clinch 1st Division title in 17 years. Yes its terrible looking back at all the damage we caused tearing up the field, but I will never forget jumping on to the field for the 1st time and partying with 50,000 people. I still have a piece of the centerfield wall from that night!

*1986 NLCS Game #5 : Dwight Gooden (10 innings pitched) vs Nolan Ryan (9 innings picthed)Gary Carter's base hit wins it in the 10th inning. Mets lead Series 3-2.

*1986 World Series Game #7: Mets finally win the World Series. Used my stub from Game #6 and drew a #7 on it. Paid off the usher a $13, a bunch of singles with a ten dollar bill wrapped around it to get in. Found the only empty seast in the Upper Deck to sit in.

*1986 World Series Game #6; The greatest comeback ever and the biggest swing of emotions ina half hour period I ever experienced. This night was truly Amazing. Probably won't ever be topped.

Remembering Bon Scott of AC/DC (2/19/80)

Bon Scott was the original lead singer of the hard rock band AC/DC. Scott was born in Scotland & migrated to Australia. He was in various bands, mostly as a drummer, through out the sixties and joined AC/DC in 1974. The band released six great albums with Bon Scott as the lead singer: High Voltage (1975) -T.N.T (1976)
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (1976) -Let There Be Rock (1977)
Powerage (1978) -Highway to Hell (1979)

They grew popular in Australia eventually making their big break through in America in 1979 with the release of "Highway to Hell" which broke the Top 20 album charts. Scott is considered one of the great frontman in Rock & Roll history and a pioneer in the Hard rock/ Heavy Metal genre.

On February 19th, 1980 Scott was drinking heavily at a London Club called the Music Machine. He was taken home but could not be awoken as he passed out in his friend Alistair Kinnear's car. He was left overnight to sleep it off. The next afternoon he was found lifeless in the car by his friend. He was rushed to the hospital but pronounced Dead on Arrival. The cause of death was alcohol poisoning & choking on his own vomit. He was just 33 years old.

His body was cremated and sent back to his family in Australia. His ashes interred in Fremantle Cemetery and his grave site has become a cultural landmark & is reportedly the most visited grave in Australia.

The band thought about breaking up but decided that Scott would want then to carry on. Angus & Malcolm Young met with Scott's family & they felt the same way & the band got their blessing to continue. AC/DC hired Brian Johnson to replace Scott and recorded the album "Back In Black". The albums all black cover was a tribute to Scott as was the songs "Hells Bells' & " Back In Black". The album is one of the top five selling albums of all time going 22 times platinum.

Feb 17, 2009

KISS First Album Released- 35 Years Ago This Week (Feb.1974)

On February 18, 1974 Kiss released their first album simply called KISS. The songs were mostly Gene Simmons/ Paul Stanley songs from their former band Wicked Lester. The classic Kiss line up featuring Ace Freehley & Peter Criss had only been formed since 1972. The album took only three weeks to record during October/November 1973 at Bell Sound Studios.

The album cover showed the bands faces against a black background, and was meant to imitate the Meet the Beatles album cover. Kiss were huge Beatles fans. Gene, Paul & Ace all did their own make up as usual but Peter Criss had a make up artist put his on and it was done in a different style than he was donning on stage.

The album certainly wasn't an immediate classic, it only charted at #87 in the US but did sell 75,000 copies even though it didn't feature any hit singles. By the time Kiss hit their peak in 1977 the first Kiss album had gone gold.

The album features some Kiss classics that became staples of their live shows.

"Strutter"- one of my favorites was an old Gene Simmons song from his Wicked Lester days. The lyrics were written by Paul Stanley later on.

"Cold Gin" is a classic Ace Freehley song. Ace was so insecure about his singing he gave the lead vocals up to Gene. At concerts later on in Kiss' career they both shared the lead vocal duties.

"Fire House" was written by Paul Stanley when he was still at Music & Art high school in NY.

"Deuce" became the opening song for most Kiss shows until the 1976 Destroyer Tour & then again on the 1996 Reunion Tour. Gene Simmons wrote the song and claims even he doesn't know what the starnge lyrics mean.

"Black Diamond" was a story about a 42nd St. prostitue and became another live staple for the band as did "100,000 Years" featuring Gene's bass solo intro and Peters drum solo.

The strangest song on the album has to be "Kissing Time". This was not on the original albums release but was added the following year by the record company against Kiss' wishes. The record company tried to boost sales by releasing "Kissing Time" as a single then throwing it on the album. It was a cover of a 1959 Bobby Rydel song & recorded during the albums sessions. The song was used to promote a Kissing contest for a radio station, the single only charted at #83.

Feb 15, 2009

1973 Topps Baseball Cards- An Amusing Closer Look Into the Set

As a huge baseball card fan I have always admired the whole scene living on a baseball card. To me they are like a true work of art, an image caught in time forever secured in a plastic case. All the details from the players expressions, the uniform colors, to the back drop, the stadium, the fans, team mates & what ever else might be visible in the photo. Lets take a closer look at some great ones from one of my all time favourite sets the 1973 Topps. Dont you just love the little icons for the players positions?

Topps baseball cards didn't start using action shots until 1971. By 1972 they had those special Red "In Action" cards & in 1973 they again issued random action cards in the regular set. Many of the action shots in the set were landscaped photos, where you had to turn the card sideways to view the whole picture.

1973 Topps #360- Joe Rudi: This card is a classic case of mistaken identity. The player pictured is NOT Joe Rudi but of fellow moustached team mate Gene Tenace. Tenace has just hit one of his 5 regular season HRs of 1972. He would go on to World Series fame as the hero of the 1972 Fall Classic vs. Cinncinati belting 4 HRs in that Series alone.
It's a Sunday afternoon at the Oakland Coliseum because the A's only wore their home whites on Sundays. There's a big crowd on hand for a game vs. the California Angels. Notice the cap of the catcher behind the three A's.
The A's used 47 different players in 1972 & the two players congratulating Tenace are obscure themselves. Bill Voss (left) was a journeyman outfielder acquired from the Brewers. He played some right field from June to August of 1972. The other player patting Geno on the butt, is the on deck batter, utility infielder Orlando Martinez. He was soon traded to the Rangers for Don Mincher.

Where the hell is Joe Rudi?? Pictured or not- Rudi was one of the best defensive players in the AL throughout the 1970's. He won 3 Gold Gloves & made 3 All Star teams. He made a game saving catch in the 1972 World Series, that's still considered one of the best ever. Rudi batted over .290 & drove in over 75 runs three times. He also hit a game winning HR in Game #5 of the 1974 World Series to clinch the A's 3rd straight title.

1973 Topps #420- Tommie Agee: This is another great landscaped action card. It's also unique for its touch up air brush paint job. Back in the early seventies Topps would air brush a new color, or sometimes a logo over a players picture. They would match his new teams colors if the player was traded in the off season & no other photos were available.

This picture was taken on a beautiful sunny afternoon game at Shea Stadium during the 1972 season. Notice the green fence with the 371 numbers on it. The caps, sox & sleeves of the players were air brushed Houston Astro reddish/orange. The players pictured on the card are second baseman Ken Boswell back peddling and moving out of the way, as Agee comes in to catch a shallow fly ball. The right fielder jogging in to back up the play is Rusty Staub. 1972 was the only season the three players were Mets teammates. Agee was traded on November 27, 1972 to Houston for Rich Chiles & Buddy Harris.

1973 Topps # 550 -Dave Johnson: Another landscaped action, air brush Topps classic. Johnson's uniform has been colored bright early seventies Atlanta Brave blue. Complete with the logo on the sleeve. Davey is stepping on a player who has just slid into second base. The game is being played on a sunny afternoon at the old Yankee Stadium. The old rightfield scoreboard is visible behind the umpire, and if you look real close you can see the teams (Balt & NY) blacked out on the right side of Johnson.

The player being stepped on is the most Famous of the Alou brothers, #24 Felipe. Felipe spent parts of three seasons with the Yankees from 1971-1973. 1972 was his only full season, hitting .278 with one stolen base. Could this have been that one steal? Felipe had a good career batting .286 life time and then going on to become the winningest manager in Montreal Expo history. At the time of this photo his little son Moises was six years old.

Dave Johnson was second baseman of the mighty Orioles Dynasty teams until the end of the 1972 season. That winter he was traded along with Johnny Oates & Pat Dobson to Atlanta for Rookie of the Year catcher Earl Williams. Johnson would have his best offensive year in 1973 hittting 43 HRs and joining Hank Aaron & Darrell Evans as the first three team mates to hit 40 or more HRs.

1973 Topps #542- Pat Corrales: Poor Pat Coarrales is pictured getting leveled at the plate in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field. To add insult to injury its by non other than the Chicago Cubs Hall of Fame pitcher Ferguson Jenkins. Coarrles is shouting in pain but has held on to the ball in his right hand, as the ump is ready to call out Jenkins.

On top of everything Coarrles in doning the bright yellow San Diego road uniform of the early seventies. Padres owner Ray Kroc (also owner of the McDonald's franchise) possibly had cheeseburgers on his mind when he designed these babies! At least you could see the players clearly at night games. This would be Coarrales last player card as his career ended in San Diego after the 1973 season.

Pat's baseball career started in 1964 as a catcher. He was Johnny Bench's back up from 1968-1972 with the Reds. He ended his carrer with a .216 average. After his playing days he managed the Rangers, Phillies & Indians from 1978 to 1988. He then was a bench coach in Atlanta & Washington up until last season.

1973 Topps #236- Tito Fuentes: In this photo Tito has just taken out Astros second baseman Tommy Helms, as short stop Roger Metzger comes running over to survey the scene. Cesar Cedeno is also seen jogging in from center field. The game takes place on a sunny afternoon at Candelstick Park. Many cards were photographed at the Stick & across the Bay at Oakland's Coliseum in those days. Probably because it was a two team market, just like New York.

The Cuban born Fuentes led all 2nd baseman with a recod .993 fielding % in 1973 after leading the league in errors the two seasons prior. He was traded to San Diego in 1974 for Derrell Thomas. Three years later he landed in Detroit batting .309 but was let go due to the arrival of Lou Whitaker.

Tommy Helms was the 1966 Rookie of the Year. Famous for big side burns, being Wes Helm's uncle and a two time All Star & Gold Glover. He was involved in a huge trade that completed the Big Red Machine. On November 29, 1971: the Reds traded Helms along with Lee May and Jimmy Stewart to the Houston Astros for Joe Morgan, Denis Menke, Jack Billingham, Cesar Geronimo, and Ed Armbrister.

1973 Topps #45- Ellie Rodriguez: Ellie gets jipped here because the main object of this photo is the umps big butt! What was Topps thinking? You gotta love the old puffy chest pad the ump is holding. Theres alot of confusion on the play as Ellie is ready to fire the ball some where, even though most of his team mates are next to him. My guess is that to the left of Ellie is future Met reliever Skip Lockwood & in front of him is "The Boomer" George Scott. It does't matter because according to the huge sign beyond the fence, "It's Miller Time" and the packed bleachers agree.

Ellie was a two time All Star that didn't get to play in either game. He was an original Royal,& the main Brewers catcher (1971-1973) until Darrel Porter arrived. He then was traded to the Angels where he caught Nolan Ryans 4th no hitter in 1974.

1973 Topps #35 Willie Davis: Another crazy idea for a card was this Willie Davis photo. Wille looks like he was either just beaned or thrown out at close enough to having his head torn off. It's a dangerous situation because his helmet has flown off his head too. The catcher is Phillies Tim McCarver and he is turned sideways. Either the ball is no where near him or it's possible that he caught the ball to the right of his body. The Dodger faithful look like they too are concerned on a beautiful Los Angeles afternoon.

Davis replaced Duke Snider as the Dodger centerfielder in 1961 and stayed for over a decade. He won 3 gold gloves, led the league in triples twice, & stole over 20 bases 13 times. He hit over .285 ten times in his 20 year career, including 4 times over .300. He ended his career 7th all time in put outs & chances, also 3rd in games played in center field. He still holds the L.A. Dodger record for career hits (2091), runs (1004), triples (110), at bats (7495), total bases (3094) and extra base hits (585). His 31-game hitting streak in 1969 remains the longest by a Dodger.

Speaking of Tim Mcarver he sure made some cameos in the 1973 set. Besides his own card & the Willie Davis card he is pictured on two Hall of Famer cards: Topps #300 -Steve Carlton to whom he was "Lefty's" personal catcher & Topps #175 -Frank Robinson. Tim is behind the plate as Robinson rips one at Doder Stadium. Notice how Topps whited out the Dodgers logo on Robby's uniform?

There are approxiamtley 75 cards photographed at Shea Stadium in the 1973 set. Some show the stands,dug out, the outfield or the score board behind the player.Here's a few examples.

Here are two great cards with Mets players making cameo appearances:

Topps #50-Roberto Clemente: This was Clemente's last card issued. It was released in his honor after the 1972 New Years Eve plane crash that took his life. Clemente is shown at bat with Mets catcher Jerry Grote behind the plate ready to catch the pitch. The umpire is also on top of the action. I cant tell where this photo is taken. The green wall in the outfield looks to high to be at Shea. I assume the Mets are home because Grote is in his Met whites. Possibly a spring training game? Notice how Grote was still only wearing a cap under his mask, it wasn't mandatory for catchers to wear helmets yet. And put that hand dpwn Jerry before you get hurt!

Topps #574 Bob Didier: In this landscaped action photo, time definatley stands still as everyone awaits the umpires call at home plate. Mets outfielder Cleon Jones #21 has just slid into home plate in a cloud of dust, and still has his leg resting on Dider's shoulder. Dider has shed the mask and seems confident as he looks at the umpire. The game is at Shea as Cleon is in Mets home whites. There are still no names on the back of the Mets uniforms & notice the Mets logo on the left sleeve. On deck is a Mets catcher (either Jerry Grote or Duffey Dyer) wearing the shin guards, also awaiting the call.

Didier was a good catching prospect who's career was ruined by injuries. He was 4th in the 1969 Rookie of the Year voting and led Atlanta to their 1st NL West title, losing to the Mets in the playoffs.

Feb 14, 2009

The Passing of Ronette- Estelle Bennett

centerfield maz is a fan of Ronnie Spector & the Ronettes, and it is with sad regret to report the passing of Estelle Bennett. Estelle was Ronnie's sister and a back up singer in the group, along with cousin Nedra Talley.

Estelle was born and raised in Washington Heights, New York city on July 21, 1941. Ronnie described her sister as 'prim and proper' and studious during their childhood, graduating as valedictorian of her high school class. The girls were encouraged to sing at a young age and eventually won a talent show at the Apollo Theater. They were discovered while they were the back up singer/dancers at New York's Peppermint Lounge. By 1963 they hit it big with "Be My Baby" starting the girl group explosion. They had a string of hits until 1966 including "Walking In The Rain" "Do I Love You" "I Can Hear Music' "Why Dont they Let Us Fall In Love" 'Best Part of Breaking Up" & the Christmas classics "Sleigh ride" "Frosty" & "Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" which are still played regularly today. They toured England in 1963 & became friends with the Beatles & Stones who were big fans. After ward Ronnie married Phil Spector, his jealousy kept the group under wraps and he pulled them from the lime light. They began to fade right after they opened for the Beatles at Shea Stadium. A close friend said Estelle was broken hearted over their split.

She attended The Institute of Fashion & Design in New York. Estelle & her sister were very involved in the look of the group. The fashion, hair & make up were all very important to the bands success. Her cousin Nedra said: 'She was quiet. She was not pretentious at all, but she carried herself with a sophistication that a lot of guys thought was really sexy.' During the group's heyday, Estelle dated Mick Jagger, George Harrison, Johnny Mathis and George Hamilton.
She recorded one single in 1966 after the Ronettes broke up- "The Year 2000". Since then she has remained out of the spot light. It is believed she suffered from anorexia & schizophrenia at times. She was married & became Estelle Dong. She has one daughter & three grand children. Estelle chose not to perform with the Ronettes at the 2007 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductions. She did appeared at the podium and spoke a few brief words during the acceptance speech, "I would just like to say, thank you very much for giving us this award. I'm Estelle of the Ronettes, thank you." A friend said she loved the attention & paparazzi of the nights events.

The police were contacted earlier this week, after Ronnie & her husband Jonathan Greenfield were unable to contact her. She was found dead in her apartment in Englewood, New Jersey on Wednesday. One report says the cause of death was colon cancer, others state unknown, she was 67. RIP Estelle.
Ronnie Spectors web site states "Estelle is Gone- to my beloved sister, Rest in Peace, you deserve it".

Feb 8, 2009

45 Year Anniversary of the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show

In October of 1963 Ed Sullivan & his wife were at the London Airport with hundreds of teenage girls creaming for the Beatles. Sullivan asked "Who the hell are the Beatles. Shortly after this Sullivan's London contact got in touch with a Brian Epstein connection and went to see a Beatles show. As they got bigger & bigger in England word got to Sullivan. He agreed to meet Brian Epstein in NY at Delmonico's Hotel & Restaurant. A deal was made to have the Beatles appear on the Ed Sullivan show three time in February for $10,000. Epstein wanted more but realized how big the exposure in America would be & accepted, asking the Beatles be the headliners.

On February 9th, 1964 rock & Roll history was made in 73 million households as the Beatles made their live TV debut. The press had jumped on the Beatles American arrival two days earlier after some great promoting by Epstein warning America "The Beatles Are Coming". By now everyone wanted to see who these Beatles were.

Shortly after 8 PM Sullivan made the famous announcement: "Now yesterday and today our theater's been jammed with newspapermen and hundreds of photographers from all over the nation, and these veterans agreed with me that the city never has the excitement stirred by these youngsters from Liverpool, who call themselves The Beatles. Now tonight, you're gonna twice be entertained by them. Right now, and again in the second half of our show. Ladies and gentlemen, The Beatles. Let's bring them on."

The theater erupted in loud screams as the largely female audience went wild. The band broke into "All My Lovin" with Paul leading the vocals, then he sang the slow ballad "Till There Was You". During the song, the camera focused on each member of the group, with his first name superimposed on the screen. When it came to John Lennon, "SORRY GIRLS, HE'S MARRIED" appeared below his name. Lennon despised this, & tried keeping his marriage a secret. All in all the Beatles were kool, never showing signs of pressure. They just did their thing & took over the show.

Next up the boys rocked the country with "She Loves You" which summed up their new big beat sound. The loudest screams occurred each time John, Paul, and George went "Woooo" and shook their heads. When it was over, The Beatles took their customary bow. For the first time ever, British entertainers had conquered America. The likes of these guys were never seen before. Their hair was considered long at the time, their music very different & new, their look totaly English & kool, they were four individuals instead of a solo guy with back up singers, and yes they could sing.

Thirty five minutes later Sullivan again introduced The Beatles. They rocked out to "I Saw Her Standing There" & "I Want To Hold Your Hand". The camera man couldn't hear the commands from the director in his head set due to the screams & loud music. But they did a great job of scanning closeups of the band & the crowd. After it was over, Ringo jumped off the drum kit & the Beatles went over shaking Sullivan's hand & waving to the crowd.

History was made on both the television & Rock & Roll fronts. The door was now open for rock musicians to be accepted by main stream media & TV. Thousands of future musicians were enlightened and realized this was what they wanted to do. It was one of the most important & influential moments in the history of American Art & culture. The famous question is still asked today by those who were around as it happened "Where Were You the night the Beatles were on Sullivan"?

Feb 6, 2009

The Beatles Conquer America - 45 Years Ago Today

A man named Sid Bernstein kept hearing about a huge Rock & Roll band in England called the Beatles. He finally met a Brian Epstein (the Beatles manager) contact & booked the Beatles to play Carnegie Hall on Lincolns birthday 1964, almost a year away. As the legend goes the Beatles didn't want to come to America until they hit Number One. But Epstein jumped at the chance to get the Beatles to play in New York, especially since they hadn't even charted yet in America. All fell into place as Epstein got the Ed Sullivan show booked as well. "Introducing the Beatles" & "Meet the Beatles" LPs were released in January 1964 and with a great 'The Beatles Are Coming!! promotion, the hype began to build. As fate would have it " I Want To Hold Your Hand" hit number One by February 1964.

On February 7th 1964 the Beatles left England not knowing what would happen when they arrived in America. As it worked out almost according to plan, they had the number one song in America "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and two other huge hits "Please Please Me" & "She Loves You" climbing up the charts.

By the time they landed at JFK airport it was a total madhouse. Every transistor radio station in New York was playing Beatles songs, counting down the moments of their arrival. It was "thirty eight Beatle degrees". "Eight thirty Beatle time" all over the airwaves. Recorded Beatles responses to generic questions were played over & over. The hype was incredible.

No one had seen the likes of any kind of freak show like this. Remember in 1964 the Beatles had the longest hair on the planet, their tailored suits were total English mod fashion, nothing like what was happening in America. These guys were playing a new kind of Beat music that made Rock & Roll of its time sound tame. Previously a pop star would front a group with four back up guys behind him, and some one behind the scenes calling the shots. The Beatles were four individuals with their own opinions, very witty & full of humor. They drank, smoke, & swore. They were confident, wrote their own music & played their own instruments.

Thousands of fans had gathered at JFK airport cutting school to greet their new heroes. NYPD had 110 of its finest in preparation of the arrival. One official stated "We've never seen anything like this, not for kings, presidents or anyone". The Pan Am jet landed on American soil to a roar of 4000 plus screaming fans. The boys were whisked through customs then put into a press room to face the older press, ready to devour them. But quickly the Beatles won over the press with their humor & charm.

Will You sing for us?- "We need money first"- John Lennon

What is your message to American teens?- "Buy more Beatle records"- Paul McCartney

What Do You think of Beethoven? "Love him, especially his poems"- Ringo

Don't you guys ever get a haircut?- "I got one yesterday"- George Harrison

What Do You hope to take home with you from America? "Rockfeller Center."

How Do you find America -"Turn left at Greenland"

What Do You Call Your haircut? "Arthur"

After the airport the Beatles motorcade proceeded into Manhattan & began their stay at Central Park Souths Plaza Hotel. They were booked a few months prior under their real names as English businessman. The Plaza was under siege as thousands gathered on the streets outside screaming, singing and holding up signs of their favorite Beatle. Mounted Police were were quickly dispatched to take over crowd control, it was utter chaos. In their suites Brian Epstein conducted business with his small staff. The Beatles did radio interviews by telephone to America & London radio stations. New York City went wild in what was to become Beatlemania. Everyone jumped on the band wagon. Woolworths was selling the "Meet The Beatles" album for $3.98. The stores became flooded in what was the first huge Rock & Roll marketing campaign. Everything from Beatle wigs to trading cards, talcum powder, to candy, to dolls were sold. Many unauthorized rip off items also flooded the market at first until they were rounded up & removed.

Next up was a photo shoot in Central Park and the Ed Sullivan Show for American television on February 9th. Stay tuned................................

Fleetwood Mac Releases the Classic Album "Rumours" this Week in 1977

By 1976 the classic line up of Fleetwood Mac were in a very strange situation. Stevie Nicks & Lindsey Buckingham had just broken up, as did bassist John McVie & his wife pianist/vocalist Christine McVie. On top of that Mick Fleetwood the leader & drummer of the band had just divorced his wife Jenny, who was the sister of Patti Boyd. (George Harrison & Eric Clapton's ex).

They decided to stay together as a band and do their second album together. They recorded the album in California, around the San Francisco & Hollywood areas. There were alot of awkward times in the studio but from February to August 1976, they would put together a masterpiece album. The songs were mostly written about each other, which is why the album was called Rumours. The music they were making made everyone feel better about the personal situations they were in.

Rumours opens with a Lindsey Buckingham song with a catchy sing a long beat, "Second Hand News" a term fitting for the album title.

It segues into the Stevie Nicks classic "Dreams". Stevie wrote the song very quickly on a piano, in between studio time recording the album. It was her more positive view on her & Lindsay's breakup. The band decided to record it the next day. Her seductive angelic voice takes the listener away to far off place, as Fleetwood's drums leads the songs back ground. The song was released as the first single off Rumours and stayed all summer long hitting #1 in June. It was Fleetwood Macs only #1 single.

The second single off the album was Christine Mcvie's "Dont Stop". It was her song about moving on after eight years of marriage to John Mcvie. "Yesterdays gone" she sang, as the song went all the way up to #3 on the US charts.
Buckinghams "Go Your Own Way" was another single off the album & reached #10 on the charts. Its Lindsey's version of his breakup with Stevie Nicks. A little more colder & harsher version of the story. It's regarded a classic and maybe his best commercial work.
Side One of the album closes with McVies beautiful "Song Bird" which use to be the final number at many Fleetwood Mac shows.

Side Two opens with the great "The Chain". The song is credited to all five members of the band and although not a single, has received huge airplay on FM radio over the years making it another Mac classic. The dueling of the vocals between Nicks & Buckingham seems to be both taking out their aggressions on one another. The music is fantastic right through to its climatic jam ending, with John Mcvies bass lines leading the charge.

"You make Loving Fun" was another Christine Mcvie song, and the most positive upbeat romantic song on the album. It was the fourth & final single off the album and it to was a top 10 hit, peaking at #9.
"I Don't Want to Know" is a Stevie Nicks song with a nice beat that I always liked, telling her ex lover to move on & not drive her crazy.

The album comes to an end with another Stevie classic "Gold Dust Woman". It's about Stevie's struggle with drugs, cocaine mainly "take your silver spoon & dig your grave". The music takes us on a mystical hazy trip as the lyrics tell us to "pick up the pieces & go home", after the illusions of love have been shattered. Great stuff. Along with "Dreams" & "Rhiannon" this is some of Stevie's most popular work during her Mac days.

Rumors was released in February 1977 and spent 31 weeks (8 months) at #1 on the US album charts. Overall it was on the charts for over 2 1/2 years- 130 weeks. It won a Grammy for album of the year & is one of the top selling albums of all time. It has sold over 30 million copies world wide and is considered one of the best Rock albums of all time.