Once again a person one would think that information about someone who played in a well-known band--Paul Butterfield Blues Band--and played at what many think is the most famous festival of all time--the Woodstock Music and Art Fair--would be easy to find.Not true, of course, and even in the 21st century one can apparently minimize their internet footprint. Perhaps old school research in a brick and mortar library would yield more, but my laziness trumps (sorry, but it's an old word with a new meaning) such research.Most of today's information came from the wonderful AllMusic site which so often rescues inquisitive music fans, but even it doesn't show Johnson's birth date. Thus, I am placing him today with plans to do the other "birth-less" Woodstock Butterfields over the next several days.
Trumpeter Keith Johnson
Keith Johnson was mainly a trumpeter, but as so often happens on the musician's path, other instruments come into play. Jazz was his niche.
He became part of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band in time to perform with them a the Monterey International Pop Festival in June 1967.Released in December 1968, The Resurrection of Pigboy Crabshaw was the first Butterfield album Keith appeared on. He stayed with the band for their next two albums: In My Own Dream (1967) (an album cover I stared at for many hours) and Keep on Moving (1969). A team player, at times Johnson played organ, but the trumpet was always his first and best instrument.
Despite the success of "horn" bands such as Blood, Sweat and Tears and Chicago, the Butterfield band did not enjoy the same success. In 1970 he left the band and played with the Elephant's Memory, the band that (without Johnson) became associated with John Lennon. Johnson also played with Van Morrison. Moogiy Klingman, Etta James, and Martha Velez. Velez also played with Van Morrison and later married Johnson.
Professor Keith Johnson?
It seems that Keith became Professor Keith Johnson and taught at the college level, including the University of North Texas. If so, in May 2012 he received the “Award of Merit” from the International Trumpet Guild which recognized his substantial contributions to the art of trumpet playing through performance, teaching, publishing, research, composition, and support of the goals of ITG. Oddly, in the report from that conference, much is said about Johnson's musical life, but nothing about his early career with 60s music.
Other have indicated that the UNT Doug Johnson is not the same as the Woodstock one. Kudos to both men for their musical accomplishments.
Remembering Sri Swami Satchidananda on his birthday
Woodstock Music and Art Fair
The discussion of the Woodstock Music and Art Fair rarely includes the presence of Sri Swami Satchidananda, but his presence helps describe the intent of Woodstock Ventures.
We know of Woodstock because of it’s overwhelming size, it’s original triple-album, and Oscar-winning film, but other things set it apart from the dozens of other festivals in 1969 (1969 Festivals)
Of the four organizers, Michael Lang in particular wanted the festival’s atmosphere to reflect the 60s zeitgeist. The town of Wallkill had offered the Orange County Fairgrounds as an alternate venue, but Lang envisioned a countryside filled with revelers, music, and art. Not an enclosure.
When Max Yasgur presented his big grassy bowl to Lang, his dreams became real.
The initial influence of Indian philosophy on American youth came about, not surprisingly, through the George Harrison’s use of the sitar on Rubber Soul. Later when Beatles met Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and found his world view more comforting than the one they had grown up with, meditation and connectivity with the world around us gained acceptance.
Earthlight was a New Age theater company that founded by Allan Mann and Jane Richardson in April of 1969.
Those who have seen the movie “Taking Woodstock” will likely remember Earthlight. Elliot Tiber, whose parents owned the El Monaco Motel, gave theater space in a barn to Earthlight for free in return for their renting a nearby six bedroom Victorian for $800 for the season.
Mann’s and Elliot’s agreement preceded the eviction of Woodstock Ventures from Wallkill, but once that eviction occurred Mann, who knew Stan Goldstein, the festival’s Chief of Staff and Primary RecruiterlHeadhunter.
There may be some confusion about the connection between Woodstock Ventures, Mann, Elliot, Goldstein, and Max Yasgur, but in the end Woodstock Ventures came to Bethel and rented Max’s field.
Woodstock and Earthlight
The connection between Mann and Goldstein also led to Woodstock Ventures hiring Earthlight to perform at the festival as well as participating at the Free Kitchen and at the “freakout” tents.
Mann and Richardson were disciples of Sri Swami Satchidananda and presented the idea of his opening the festival to Goldstein and Woodstock Ventures. (see Earthlight for more)
Including a swami as part of the first day’s schedule made perfect sense to an event that included in its title, …an Aquarian Exposition.
It was not until decades later that Goldstein wrote a letter to Mann that confirmed his role in the Swami’s appearance: To my knowledge you were never thanked for nor were you ever acknowledged as having been responsible for Swami Satchidananda’s appearance and participation in the festival, though you and some other Earthlight members were and are seen as his attendants in the Warner’s film. (PDF of entire Goldstein letter)
Sri Swami Satchidananda
C. K. Ramaswamy Gounder was born on December 22, 1914. From the time he was a little boy, Gounder (only later known as Swami Satchidananda) was deeply spiritual. Yet his adult life did not begin along the path of a Swami, but as a businessman and a husband. After his wife’s death, he decided to follow a spiritual path.
He traveled throughout India, meditating at holy shrines and studying with spiritual teachers. Years of study, sacrifice, and good deeds followed. In 1949, guru, Sivananda Saraswati, ordained him and gave him the name Satchidananda Saraswati.
United States and Woodstock
He visited New York City in 1966 and soon after moved to the US permanently and became a US citizen. He continued to teach service, ecumenism, and enlightenment.
His motto was: “Truth is One, Paths are Many.” He believed that we are all one in Spirit and that throughout history great spiritual masters, such as Buddha, Moses, and Jesus, have come forward to teach the people of the world how to experience this spiritual oneness.
His presentation at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair reflected that belief. He began with:
I am overwhelmed with joy to see the entire youth of America gathered here in the name of the fine art of music. In fact, through the music, we can work wonders. Music is a celestial sound and it is the sound that controls the whole universe, not atomic vibrations. Sound energy, sound power, is much, much greater than any other power in this world. And, one thing I would very much wish you all to remember is that with sound, we can make—and at the same time, break. Even in the war-field, to make the tender heart an animal, sound is used. Without that war band, that terrific sound, man will not become animal to kill his own brethren. So, that proves that you can break with sound, and if we care, we can make also. (complete text)
Satchidananda Saraswati left his body on August 19, 2002, after speaking at a peace conference in south India. His funeral took place in Buckingham, Virginia on August 22. (his site)
I am (and most of you are) certainly aware of and love Ten Years After's "I'm Goin' Home" performance at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair (I didn't hear it as I had already gone home). And we know that it was Alvin Lee up front on guitar, but how many of us know and could name the other band members: Ric Lee on drums, Chick Churchill on keyoards, and Leo Lyons on bass.I should. We should.
Bassist Leo Lyons
David William "Leo" Lyons was born in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire. grew up in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire England, a mining town where most of his male relatives worked in those mines. An uncle and aunt had a wind up gramophone and he played all their collection. He loved country music legend Jimmy Rogers and blues legend Leadbelly.His first instrument was his grandfather's old banjo. He did take guitar lessons later and played with friends with his guitar's four bottom strings. He became a bassist.When he was 16, the manager of a local band called the Atomites (it was the dawning of the nuclear age remember) asked Lyons to join the band. His first gig was a local dance hall and the experience hooked him.Alvin Lee replaced the Atomite's guitar player and later the band changed its name to the Jaybirds. In 1961 the Jaybirds went to London seeking success. They didn't find it and most of the band members left. Later drummer Ric Lee joined, then Chick Churchill. From 1963 to 1966 Leo did it all. He played and managed the Jaybirds, worked as a session musician, toured as a sideman with pop acts, appeared in a play in London's West End, and played a residency with British jazz guitarist Denny Wright.
Ten Years After
In 1967 the Jaybirds became Ten Years After and began a residency at London's Marquee Club. Their debut album followed. Bill Graham heard that album and invited them to play at his venues. They were also one of the first rock groups to be part of the Newport Jazz Festival. That experience led them to play with such luminaries as Nina Simone, Roland Kirk, and Miles Davis.
Woodstock Music and Art Fair
It is likely that Ten Years After would have had its great success even without its performance at Woodstock and its inclusion on both the album and movie, but those inclusions supercharged that likelihood. The band broke up (temporarily) after their final recording, Positive Vibrations, in 1974.
In 1975 Chrysalis Records hired Lyons as studio manager to re-equip and run Wessex Studios in London. He was later to go on and build two commercial studios of his own. He has produced dozens of records.
Other projects include stage musicals, cartoon soundtracks, film and music videos. Aside from writing and producing, Leo has been guest bassist on CDs by Savoy Brown. Leslie West, Fred Koller, Danny Johnson and has toured extensively with former Buddy Guy guitarist Scott Holt.He played with Ten Years After when that band occasionally reformed but left again in 2013 to remain full time with the band he'd helped form in 2010: Hundred Seventy Split.Lyons now lives in Nashville, Tennessee. Lyon's site
Bassist Leo Lyons, Bassist Leo Lyons, Bassist Leo Lyons