October 27 Peace Love Activism

October 27 Peace Love Activism


October 27 Peace Love Activism

October 27, 1659: during the late 1650s, the government of colonial Massachusetts felt deeply threatened by the Quaker religion. Puritan leaders thought it could destabilize society by undermining their culture and religion. Laws were passed that outlawed Quakerism. Being a Quaker, meeting with or aiding a Quaker, or publishing Quaker material was punished by banishment from the territory, on pain of death.

The first Quakers to break the laws were Marmaduke Stevenson, William Robinson, Mary Dyar, and Nicholas Davis. On September 12, 1659, they were banished from Massachusetts, and told that if any of them returned, they would be put to death. Dyar and Davis left Massachusetts. Stevenson and Robinson ignored the ruling, and went to Salem, MA to spread their gospel. The pair were quickly apprehended and imprisoned in Boston. Dyar left Massachusetts but was compelled to return, and she was also locked up.

On October 27, 1659, Stevenson, Robinson, and Dyar were paraded by 200 armed men through the town of Boston to the place of execution at Boston Neck. They tenderly hugged each other, and each cheerfully climbed the gallows-ladder while praising the Lord. Stevenson and Robinson were executed, but Dyar received a reprieve. She demanded to be hanged like her brethren, but was not executed. Dyar was banished once again, and was eventually hanged in 1660 for returning to the colony. (see May 27, 1668)
Technological Milestone & US Labor History
October 27, 1904: New York City Mayor George McClellan took the controls on the inaugural run of the city's innovative new rapid transit system: the subway. While London boasts the world's oldest underground train network (opened in 1863) and Boston built the first subway in the United States in 1897, the New York City subway soon became the largest American system. More than 100 workers died during the construction of the first 13 miles of tunnels and track (TM, see December 24, 1906; Labor, see January 2, 1905) (NYT subway)

The Red Scare

October 27 Peace Love Activism
October 27, 1947: the famous confrontations between the “Hollywood Ten” and the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) began on this day. The first “hostile witness” was the screenwriter John Howard Lawson, who like the other members of the Hollywood Ten who followed, was aggressively confrontational with the committee, refusing to answer questions and challenging the committee’s legitimacy.

HUAC had launched an investigation into alleged Communist influence in Hollywood that is probably the most famous event in the entire history of the committee. The hearings had begun on October 20, 1947, with a series of “friendly” witnesses who testified that there was Communist influence in Hollywood. Beginning on this day, a group of so-called “unfriendly” witnesses who refused to testify about their beliefs and associations resulted in stormy confrontational hearings. This group of directors and screenwriters became known as the “Hollywood Ten.” In retrospect (and for many people, almost immediately), it was apparent that the aggressive, confrontational tactics of the Hollywood Ten only alienated potential support across the country.

The hearings ended on October 30, but HUAC conducted another set of hearings in 1951, which resulted in more blacklisting. (see Nov 24, 1947) (NYT article)


US Labor History
October 27, 1951: the National Labor Council was formed in Cincinnati to unite Black workers in the struggle for full economic, political and social equality. The group was to function for five years before disbanding, having forced many AFL and CIO unions to adopt non-discrimination policies. (BH, see Dec 25; Labor, see Dec 21)
October 27, 1960: King released from jail. Word about President Kennedy’s call circulated widely in the African-American community. Some political commentators believed the publicity gained Kennedy enough African-American votes to give him victory in the November presidential election, but others dispute this interpretation.. (BH, see Oct 29; MLK, see Nov 26)
Ruby Bates
October 27, 1976: Ruby Bates died at age sixty-three. (see Scottsboro Travesty for whole story)

Cuban Missile Crisis

October 27 Peace Love ActivismOctober 27, 1962: Radio Moscow began broadcasting a message from Khrushchev. The message offered a new trade, that the missiles on Cuba would be removed in exchange for the removal of the Jupiter missiles from Italy and Turkey.  Cuba shot down a US U2 plane with surface to air missile killing the pilot, Rudolph Anderson. U.S. Army anti-aircraft rockets sat, mounted on launchers and pointed out over the Florida Straits in Key West, Florida. (see Cuban missile crisis; Anderson, see Nov 6)

October 26 Music et al

Love Me Do
October 27, 1962, The Beatles before their US appearance:  “Love Me Do/PS I Love You” #48 on UK Melody Maker hit parade. (see November 26)
Future Woodstock Performers
October 27, 1967: Ten Years After released its first album, Ten Years After. Alvin Lee, age 22. 
In 1968 these artists will release their first albums: 
  • Johnny Winter (age 22) released  The Progressive Blues Experiment
  • Sweetwater released Sweetwater
  • Bert Sommer (age 18) released , The Road to Travel. It was produced by Artie Kornfeld. Sommer was a schoolmate of Leslie West. (see Feb 21)
October 27, 1970: The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act  passed. Part II of this is the Controlled Substance Act (CSA) which defined a scheduling system for drugs. It placed most of the known hallucinogens (LSD, psilocybin, psilocin, mescaline, peyote, cannabis, & MDA) in Schedule I. It placed coca, cocaine, and injectable methamphetamine in Schedule II. Other amphetamines and stimulants, including non-injectable methamphetamine were placed in Schedule III. (see September 3, 1971)
October 27 Peace Love Activism


October 27, 1968: in London, 50,000 protest the Vietnam war. (NYT article)(see Oct 30)


October 27 Peace Love Activism

October 27, 1979: Saint Vincent and the Grenadines independent of the United Kingdom. (see April 18, 1980)

October 27, 1991, Dissolution of the USSR: Turkmenistan declared its independence from the Soviet Union. (see Dec 16)

Crime and Punishment

October 27 Peace Love Activism

October 27, 1986: President Ronald Reagan signed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986. The law created a significant disparity in the sentences imposed in federal courts for crimes involving powdered cocaine versus the sentences imposed for crimes involving crack cocaine. The law imposed certain mandatory minimum sentences for crimes involving certain quantities of powdered cocaine, but those mandatory sentences could also be triggered by crimes involving only one percent of that quantity in cases of crack cocaine. For instance, a drug crime involving five grams of crack cocaine resulted in a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison, but crimes involving less than 500 grams of powdered cocaine would not trigger the five year minimum sentence.

This one hundred-to-one sentencing disparity, which was not based on credible scientific evidence about differing biological impacts between cocaine in powder form versus crack form, has had a significant impact on the mass incarceration of African Americans. In the years following the enactment of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, admissions of African Americans to federal prison spiked from approximately 50 admissions per 100,000 adults to nearly 250 admissions per 100,000 adults, while there was almost no change among whites. Disparities in sentence lengths also increased. In 1986, African Americans received drug sentences that were 11% longer than sentences received by whites, on average, but that disparity increased to 49% in the years following the law's enactment. This law, and similar laws, had a significant role in increasing the incarcerated population from approximately 500,000 in 1980 to nearly 2.3 million in 2013. (see May 26, 1987)

Jack Kevorkian

October 27,  1997: the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, which was approved by referendum on November 8, 1994, and which allows voluntary end of life, took effect on this day. The law allows individuals to voluntarily end their own lives by ingesting a life-ending drug that is prescribed by a licensed physician. The law has survived two challenges. Oregon voters rejected a repeal measure by a margin of 60 percent in 1997. And in 2006, the Supreme Court upheld the law, in Gonzales v. Oregon. (see March 14, 1998)


October 27, 2014: the Judicial Council of the nation's second-largest Protestant denomination ruled that a Pennsylvania church jury was wrong to defrock Frank Schaefer last year after he would not promise never to perform another same-sex wedding.

 The council ruled on technical grounds and did not express support for gay marriage in general. Its decision was final. (see Nov 6)

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Woodstock Ventures John Roberts

Woodstock Ventures John Roberts

Remembering and appreciating him on his birthday
January 26, 1945 – October 27, 2001
Woodstock Ventures John Roberts
Clockwise from top left: John Roberts, Joel Rosenman, Michael Lang, and Artie Kornfeld

E pluribus unum

Each of the four Woodstock Ventures partners contributed to the Woodstock Music and Art Fair and it would be silly to say any one of them meant more than any other, but I think it is fair to say that the idea, however great, would never have gotten off the ground if not for the financial backing, patience, and endurance of John Roberts.

It may be a stereotype, but the personalities of each Woodstock Venture partner was predictable. Lang and Kornfeld, the originators and instigators of the event, are best described as hippies and idealists. Lang in particular. 

Joel Rosenman and John Roberts were the business guys in business suits who business acumen helped navigate the venture through the choppy cultural waters of the late 1960s.

John Roberts, in particular.

Woodstock Ventures John Roberts

John Roberts

John Roberts was a nephew in the Block Pharmaceutical family. Alexander Block had founded the company in 1907. In 1969 John Roberts was 24 and had recently graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and with friend Joel Rosenman delved into writing for TV. They wanted to pitch the idea of two young men with money looking to make a TV program. 

To get ideas, they placed a newspaper ad in the Wall Street Journal which read, that they were ”young men with unlimited capital.” Though they received thousands or responses, the TV idea died.

Instead, Roberts and Rosenman went into business with a recording studio in Manhattan, Mediasound. Since Lang and Kornfeld’s original idea was to build a recording studio in the town of Woodstock, NY, Fortune and fortuitousness brought the four together.

Woodstock Ventures John Roberts

Woodstock Ventures

The four formed Woodstock Ventures and they would (“they” is a funny word to use here) finance the project with profits (another funny word in retrospect) from a festival with an inheritance John Roberts had just received from the Block fortune.

The Woodstock Music and Art Fair story is John’s and it is not John’s. The vision and thrust was Lang’s. John Robert’s patience, persistence, and, obviously, money made the idea a reality despite huge initial losses.

After the event, it was John’s family who strongly recommended that John buy out Lang and Kornfeld from Ventures and also to sell the movie and music rights to Warner Brothers to begin to recoup those huge losses.

It was not until a dozen years later that the still extant Woodstock Ventures made its money back. By that point, Lang had gotten back into the company and remains there, with Joel Rosenman, and the Roberts family to this day.

Woodstock Ventures John Roberts


John Roberts

John Roberts died from cancer on October 27, 2001.

Ben Sisario wrote in the New York TimesEven as a producer of Woodstock ’94, Mr. Roberts made it clear that his interests were in maintaining the peaceful legacy of Woodstock rather than in making money, said John Scher, another producer. ”John was a smart businessman,’‘ Mr. Scher said, ”but he had a lot of heart.

Thank you John

Woodstock Ventures John Roberts
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Ten Years After

Ten Years After

October 27, 1967

Happy premier album anniversary

Ten Years After

“I Wanna Know” first cut, first album
Ten Years After released its first album, Ten Years After, on October 27, 1967.  The band consisted of Alvin Lee (guitar), Chick Churchill (organ), Ric Lee (drums), and Leo Lyons (bass).

Here was another example of a British band bringing American blues back to us. The band did write most of the album's material, but their sound and the song's they covered clearly showed those roots.

Side one

Ten Years After

Here's side one:
Side one
  1. “I Want to Know” (Sheila McLeod as pseudonym Paul Jones) – 2:11
  2. “I Can’t Keep from Crying Sometimes” (Al Kooper) – 5:24
  3. “Adventures of a Young Organ” (Alvin Lee, Chick Churchill) – 2:34
  4. “Spoonful” (Willie Dixon) – 6:05
  5. “Losing the Dogs” (Alvin Lee, Gus Dudgeon) – 3:03

Side two

And side two:
Side two
  1. “Feel It for Me” (Alvin Lee) – 2:40
  2. “Love Until I Die” (Alvin Lee) – 2:06
  3. “Don’t Want You Woman” (Alvin Lee) – 2:37
  4. “Help Me” (Ralph Bass, Willie Dixon, Sonny Boy Williamson) – 9:51
Note how short the majority of the songs were, the single-size under-three-minute good-for-radio-play type. Of course, there are those few where the band gets to stretch it out.


Ten Years After

Ten Years After

Alvin Lee

Alvin Lee was the heart of the band and for better or worse the inclusion of the band's "Goin' Home"  into the film and onto the record of Woodstock brought fame. 

Fame from a single song’s performance that likely sounded like dozens of others performed that summer likely surprised Alvin Lee. An albatross that laid a golden egg. He was already a great guitarist when he began his trek along the summer of 1969’s festivals. June 28, 1969: Bath Festival of Blues. July 3 – 6, Newport Jazz Festival. July 11 – 12, Laurel Pop Festival. July 25 – 27, Seattle Pop Festival, Aug 15 - 18 – Woodstock Music and Art Festival. 30 – Sept 1: Texas International Pop Festival.

How many times did Alvin Lee play “I’m Going Home” that summer? It’s filming in August at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair preserved it and sent it worldwide. His name was and will forever be associated with that song and that performance.

Here are some factoids about Lee:
  • originally influenced by his parent’s collection of jazz and blues records
  • began playing guitar age 13
  • by aged 15 his Jaybirds band formed the core of Ten Years After
  • moved to London and changed the band’s name to Ten Years After in 1966
  • the band’s performance at the Windsor Jazz & Blues Festival in 1967 led to their first recording contract.
  • concert promoter Bill Graham who invited the band to tour America for the first time in the summer of 1968. Ten Years After would ultimately tour the USA 28 times in 7 years, more than any other U.K. band. 
  • After the breakup of Ten Years After, Lee continue to form bands and record music.
  • Lee’s overall musical output included more than 20 albums.
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