Category Archives: Music et al

Mysterious Bassist Greg Reeves

Mysterious Bassist Greg Reeves

Mysterious Bassist Greg Reeves

There is a sufficient Wikipedia entry  and an interview at the 4WaySite to suggest that a blogger could create a worthwhile post about Greg Reeves.

Mysterious Bassist Greg Reeves

One would think.

Reeves, as most 60s rock fans remember, was the bassist for Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and played with them at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair.

Solid.

After that, things are a bit hazy, but we are talking about the 60s and Woodstock alum.

Mysterious Bassist Greg Reeves

A few grains of salt

In the 4Way interview, Reeves says that, “…the very first instrument I learned to play was a miniature guitar… I taught myself from a book that came with the guitar. I was six-years-old and in the first grade.

His Wikipedia entry also states that “he may have graduated from Warren Western Reserve High School in Warren, Ohio in 1968.” If so, he graduated at the age of 13.  He must have skipped a few grades between first grade and high school.

Certainly not impossible, but implausible.

If his Wikipedia birth date  is correct (April 7, 1955) then Reeves was certainly the youngest performer at Woodstock: 14 years old!

In Reeves evasive words, “I was very young, very young!

Having said that, a December 1969 Rolling Stone article describes a “Greg Reeves, a quiet, 19-year-old .” Seems more likely, eh?

Mysterious Bassist Greg Reeves

Motown

Before Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Reeves had a Motown connection via Rick James and Motown producer and writer Norman Whitfield may have recruited Reeves.

All Music states that “The bass player in the recording [Cloud Nine by the Temptations] is Greg Reeves, who was soon to join Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.” Reeves says that while he was slated  to play bass on that song, he (with Whitfield’s suggestion) switched to tambourine.

Mysterious Bassist Greg Reeves

Mynah Birds

Rick James’s wandering music path led him to Canada in the early 60s. There is a story of James getting into a fight there and Levon Helm and Garth Hudson rescuing him. Another story, another time.

In any case, James formed the Mynah Birds and  one of the players in that band was a young Neil Young.

Mysterious Bassist Greg Reeves

Los Angeles with Rick James

So that it would seem that James introduced Reeves to Young when all three were in Los Angeles in the late 60s…but in the 4Way interview, Reeves explains things this way.

He’d been living with Rick James. Neil Young invited Greg to a party at the house Stephen Stills was renting from Monkee Peter Tork. The next day, “David [Crosby] and Graham [Nash] drove up to the apartment where we lived on Olive Drive at the time, right behind the Playboy Club on Sunset Blvd. From the pool I saw them knock on the door, and Rick yelled for me. They asked Rick James who I was and Rick came, got me and brought me out front to the limousine that Graham Nash and David Crosby were in and asked me in front of them, would I mind going with them to jam. I asked Rick James “Aren’t you coming too?”. He said “They want you to come alone”. I went back to the house, grabbed my Fender precision bass guitar and Gibson acoustic guitar, climbed into the limousine and never came back to Rick’s house again. They would not let me go. From the first time jamming with me, they would not let me leave. I stayed with Stephen Stills, Dallas Taylor and Graham Nash at Peter Tork’s mansion in Studio City.

To this day I don’t how Graham and David knew where Rick and I lived. 

Mysterious Bassist Greg Reeves
Mysterious Bassist Greg Reeves

Here and gone

Reeves recorded and toured with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young from August 1969 to January 1970, including obviously the Woodstock Music and Art Fair.

His account of that event is unique. I have read much about Woodstock but had never heard that, “When Graham Nash and me [and Dallas Taylor] arrived at Woodstock, it was raining buckets of water. We came via helicopter. The helicopter crashed landed on the main power line, that was supplying all of the electric power for the concert!

After the crash landing the pilot instructed us not to touch anything in the helicopter and sit still. We did this and it seemed at the time forever. It was hairy scary to say the least! To top off the misery, when it was our turn to play live, we discovered Chris (our roadie) had not flown our equipment to Woodstock correctly. I used Jim Fielder’s bass from Blood Sweat & Tears to play “Sea Of Maddness” with Neil and Dallas Taylor. It was pouring down rain when we performed. Jimmy Lee Marshall Hendrix was on stage with us laughing his ass off at us playing in the rain.”

In September 1969, the band played at that year’s Big Sur festival. You can see Greg in the background during their playing “Down By the River.”

Mysterious Bassist Greg Reeves

Stills v Reeves

For various reasons that come at different angles depending on who is doing the talking,  Reeves was asked to leave/was fired in April 1970. One side says Reeves was unreliable and into odd things. Another side says that Stephen Stills had ego issues. In any case, Reeves was gone.

Mysterious Bassist Greg Reeves

Life post CSN & Y

Mysterious Bassist Greg Reeves

Neil Young was his best friend in the band and invited Reeves to play on Neil’s classic 1970 After the Gold Rush album.

Neil was also instrumental in getting Greg out of a Mexican prison. Reeves was there from September of 1977 through April 1978: I spent time in a Mexican jail with the Mexican president’s nephew as a political prisoner, because we had tried to smuggle marijuana across the border. True story! Neil Young sent me money (via Western Union) to pay the Mexican police (Judicial Government Police) for my freedom…

He stayed with music and then went away from music. Again from the (excellent) 4Way interiview: I went back to school and got an associate degree in Mandarin Chinese here in Orange County, Ca. at Coastline College. My transcript shows a 4.0 average – honest injun [smile]. I also got my head together serving God and being, as I am now, totally obedient to God.

The All Music site lists a long credit list. We can finally hear some of the music Greg has been writing all these decades now that he has released a single, Workin’ Man.

Happy birthday Greg. Whenever it is!

Mysterious Bassist Greg Reeves

 

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Grateful Dead Barton Hall Cornell 1977

Grateful Dead Barton Hall Cornell 1977

Grateful Dead Barton Hall Cornell 1977

Getting the Dead

While this blog typically orbits around the Sun of the 60s, obviously there is much noteworthy beyond that famous decade centuries before and decades after.

Full disclosure:  in the beginning, I liked the Dead, but didn’t get the Dead. I bought  Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty.  All the songs seemed accessible.

Grateful Dead Barton Hall Cornell 1977

Woodstock

My first opportunity to see the Dead was in 1969 at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. If Barton Hall 1977 is considered an apogee of live Dead, then many think of Woodstock as a nadir.

I could not tell you as I fell asleep for the Woodstock Dead. My excuse is that I’d gotten up around 6 AM Friday, went to my summer construction job, got home, drove to Monticello, slept a few hours in my friend’s car, hiked 8 miles, found no food, and simply fell asleep.

Grateful Dead Barton Hall Cornell 1977

East Rutherford

In 1991 the Dead were playing at Giant Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. Our 15-year-old son wanted to go. So his 41-year-old parents went to their first Dead concert. Interesting and good, but no conversions.

Grateful Dead Barton Hall Cornell 1977

Internet Archives

Around 2004, George, my brother-in-law and early-60s Deadhead aficionado, told me about the Internet Archive site: free legal downloads of live music. He’d gotten a lot of Dead from there.

By the way, as of May 2018, the Grateful Dead live recordings at the IA site have been viewed nearly 131 million times!

Anyway, free has always been an attractive word and I started to listen.

Grateful Dead Barton Hall Cornell 1977

Epiphany

I finally got it. The Dead did albums contractually. The Dead did shows enthusiastically. The show was the thing. The whole show. And while there may be great songs within any one show, the way the Dead played with each song (not just played each song) was where the anticipation and wonder emanated from.

Grateful Dead Barton Hall Cornell 1977

In for a penny...

At first I selected shows based on comments and ratings by listeners. I learned the differences between AUD, SBD, BBD, and Matrix. I learned that certain audience tapers like Jerry Moore and Charlie Miller were considered gold and that the goddess Betty Cantor’s soundboard recordings were the best.

Grateful Dead Barton Hall Cornell 1977

Grateful Dead Barton Hall Cornell 1977

1977

I gradually discovered the esteem that many Deadheads held 1977 and that within that revered year, May was held high and within that sacrosanct month, May 8 was held highest.

Jay Mabrey, Cornell class of ’77,
designed this poster
for the show.
Grateful Dead Barton Hall Cornell 1977

Sauseach their own

I do love 1977 and May 8 certainly is a great show. The greatest? I’m not sure how to make that decision.

Having said that, in 2011 the  National Recording Preservation Board included the concert in its National Recording Registry as part of its mission to  demonstrate the range and diversity of American recorded sound heritage in order to increase preservation awareness.”

Grateful Dead Barton Hall Cornell 1977

Jerry Moore

It was a cassette recording by Jerry Moore that first circulated. Keep in mind, this was well before the internet era when word of mouth and who you knew meant so much in discovery.  Copied and recopied, the show began its journey to the top.

Grateful Dead Barton Hall Cornell 1977

Betty Cantor

Grateful Dead Barton Hall Cornell 1977

Betty Cantor was one of the Dead’s recorders and held many of her reel-to-reel tapes until the mid-1980s when they were sold at an auction.  May 8, 1977 was among them.  Eureka!

Grateful Dead Barton Hall Cornell 1977

Millions

Grateful Dead Barton Hall Cornell 1977

How many different recordings of Barton Hall are available? Deadlists shows the following:

Grateful Dead Barton Hall Cornell 1977

How many times has the show been downloaded? Blair Jackson’s Golden Road blog states, “ I added up the numbers beside each version: 928,006 as of May 23 ! I’m guessing that adding in all the copies that were made (tape and digital) in the years when the Grateful Dead was actually around, and when collecting was at its apex, the number could easily reach 2 million. Incredible for a so-called bootleg recording!

Grateful Dead Barton Hall Cornell 1977

664,000 downloads

Fans have downloaded Rob Eaton’s creation nearly 664,000 times. I write creation because I’ve copied and pasted his notes below:

Freshly remastered Betty Board with AUD splices, by Rob Eaton;

Betty Board Portion — Master 7″ Nagra reels 1/2 track @ 7.5ips>Sony PCM 501. Playback on Sony PCM 701>DAT (Digital Transfer) — Rob Eaton DBX Decoding (Spring ’99) Playback on Panasonic 4100 DAT>DB 924 D/A>Dolby 361’s w/dbx K9-22 Cards>DB 124 A/D>Neve Capricorn (Digital mixing console)>DB 300S>Panasonic 4100 DAT>DAT>Digi Coax Cable>Tascam CD-RW 700>CDR (x1)>SHN (Rob Eaton remaster)

Audience Portion — Steve Maizner’s Sony ECM-990>Sony TC-152 aud master>First Gen Reel>played directly to hard drive. The excellent aud splices were normalized and patched using ProTools by Karen Hicks

Grateful Dead Barton Hall Cornell 1977

Now it’s your turn

See what I mean.

I suggest you open this Pandora’s box of golden eggs and enhance your life.

Rob Eaton’s recording.

Grateful Dead Barton Hall Cornell 1977

 

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Fred Lincoln Link Wray Rumble

Fred Lincoln Link Wray Rumble

Fred Lincoln Link Wray Rumble

Contributed the power cord to rock and roll

Native Americans Rock

May 2, 1929 – November 5, 2005

When speaking about “Dark Star,” members of the Grateful Dead said that the song is always playing and they simply wade into its river, swim in it, and wade back out after awhile. Put another Grateful Dead way: the music never stopped.

I recently had the good fortune to watch RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked the World, a feature documentary about the role of Native Americans in popular music history.

Among the Native Americans featured in this excellent film is Link Wray.

I sometimes fool myself into thinking that I know a lot about rock and roll. After all I’ve been listening to it my whole life, but like any interest, there is always something new to find.

Link Wray was, much to my embarrassment, something new to find.

Fred Lincoln Link Wray Rumble

Link Wray

Wray was born in North Carolina. Both his parents were Shawnee. He served in the US Army during the Korean War. He lost a lung  there to tuberculosis and  doctors said he’d never sing again.

Perhaps he didn’t sing that much, but he did play.  In 1955 recording for the Starday label as a member of Lucky Wray & the Palomino Ranch Hands.  Brother Vernon sang, brother Doug played drums, and Link played guitar. Hillbilly rock.

According to a Guardian article, Wray said, “I was looking for something Chet Atkins wasn’t doing, that all the jazz kings wasn’t doing. I was looking for my own sound.”

Fred Lincoln Link Wray Rumble

Fuzz tone

According to a Rolling Stone magazine article, “…legend has it, [that] Wray poked a pencil through the cone of his amplifier to achieve the …groundbreaking fuzz tone. 

In 1958, challenged to play a “stroll” for a teenage audience, his drummer began the beat and Wray improvised and began to fuzz tone. Initially referred to as “Oddball,” the song eventually took on the threat of the times and became “Rumble.”

Fred Lincoln Link Wray Rumble

Fear of Youth

In 1958, American adults feared two things: Communism and juvenile delinquents.  Perhaps “JD”s even more with their duck-tail haircuts, knives, and rumbles. Many radio stations, fearful that the song rumble might actually incite a riot, banned the song. One of the only times that an instrumental was banned. Keep in mind the hit play,  West Side Story, that reigned on Broadway at that time with it’s Jets and Sharks.

Rumble’s chords are the fountainhead of heavy rock.  Pete Townshend stated about Wray, “”He is the king; if it hadn’t been for Link Wray and “‘Rumble,‘” I would have never picked up a guitar.

The follow-up to Rumble was, what else, Rawhide. More distortion.

Fred Lincoln Link Wray Rumble

Sanitized…temporarily

As young musicians with a hit have always found, the companies that surrounded them wanted to find a way to monetize their music.  Add strings and a classic tune like Moonlight Love (Claire de Lune)

Fred Lincoln Link Wray Rumble

Rumble Records

It didn’t sell because Wray’s audience didn’t want it. Link and his brother Vern formed Rumble Records.

Jack the Ripper came out of that venture.  The 1983 movie Breathless with Richard Gere featured the song. John Waters’ Pink Flamingos, and  Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction also used Wray’s music.

Fred Lincoln Link Wray Rumble

Lifer

Wray continued to play, but the backwaters of rock music and never got the recognition that so many guitarists like Townshend said he deserved. Just look at Jimmy Page’s face as he listens to Rumble.

Wray married and moved to Denmark in 1980. He did not find much success there. The world of rock occasionally woke up, realized the gem Wray was in rock’s crown, but fell back asleep.

As Cub Koda wrote in an AllMusic bio of Wray, “Link Wray may never get into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but his contribution to the language of rockin’ guitar would still be a major one, even if he had never walked into another studio after cutting “Rumble.”

Fred Lincoln Link Wray Rumble

Reprise

In the 2000s, he returned to live playing and had performed forty North American dates before he returned home and died in Copenhagen.  He was seventy-six. Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen both performed “Rumble” onstage in tribute

Link Wray discography via All Music 

Fred Lincoln Link Wray Rumble
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