Sound Magician Joe Meek

Sound Magician Joe Meek

Chas Hodges from the Outlaws talks about Joe Meek

Telstar the song

On December 22, 1962, more than a year before the Beatles arrived in the United States and became the British Invasion’s avant garde, the Tornados became the first British band to have a #1 hit in the US.

“Telstar” remained as the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart until January 11, 1963.

Sound Magician Joe Meek

Rudy Van Gelder

Joe Meek was both the composer and recording engineer for the song. By 1962 the recording studio had become an instrument as much as simply a space in which to record sound. In the US, the first most famous recording engineer was Rudy Van Gelder. He is best known for his work with jazz musicians in his Englewood Cliffs, NJ studio.

Van Gelder explained that he was an engineer and not a producer. He was not in charge of the sessions he recorded; he did not hire the musicians or play any role in choosing the repertoire. He did have the final say in what the records sounded like.

Sound Magician Joe Meek

Joe Meek

Sound Magician Joe Meek

Joe Meek was born on April 5, 1929 to a farming family in Newent, England. From the beginning his interests revolved around music. He loved tinkering with electronics, even recording and cutting discs in his backyard shed and creating sound effects and music for plays.

Early on Meek moved to London and got a job at IBC, one of the UK’s major recording studios.

Sound Magician Joe Meek


Sound Engineer Joe Meek

Meek became one of the UK’s most popular engineers, but his style demanded independence and independence was not what a studio like IBC was in the habit of giving.

He left IBC when presented with the opportunity to design and run Lansdowne studios. Despite successes there as well, Meek wanted more and ambition met opportunity in July 1958 when popular American artists Les Paul and Mary Ford had a hit “Put a Ring On My Finger,” a Meek composition.

Meek created a recording studio at 304 Holloway Road, basically an apartment.  (Interestingly, Van Gelder’s first recordings were done in his parents’ home.)

Sound, not decor, mattered to Meek.

From an Independent article: One of Meek’s recording artists, Screaming Lord Sutch, used to tell stories about recording conditions inside 304 Holloway Road. In the cramped little flat, there would be a bass player on the stairs. Meek would be at his homemade controls. The guitarist would be strumming away in the front room. The vocalist would be somewhere else and – to round it off – extra percussion would be provided by somebody stamping up and down in the bathroom.

Sound Magician Joe Meek

Influence on musicians

Like himself, there were musicians who wanted more independence than the established studios provided. Meek’s studio was the place for them and Meek wanted them there.

Meek gave guitarists Jimmy Page, Steve Howe, Ritchie Blackmore, and others the opportunity create their own sound and style.

From the Meek siteJoe pushed the very limits of imagination, innovating such techniques as close miking instruments, dampening a bass drum with blankets, direct injecting electric guitars, using compression aberrations (pumping and breathing) like an instrument, blowing the EQ high into the red as a practice of embracing artifact noise and rhythms, and the incorporation of sound effects that painted a wide array of atmospheres and aural landscapes.

Sound Magician Joe Meek

Meek Sued

In March 1962, Jean Ledrut, a French composer, accused Meek of plagiarism, claiming that Meek had copied  “Telstar” from “La Marche d’Austerlitz”, a piece from a score that Ledrut had written for the 1960 film Austerlitz. The a lawsuit prevented Meek from receiving royalties from the record.

Austerlitz was not released in the UK until 1965 and Meek was unaware of the film when the Ledrut filed the lawsuit. The courts sided with Meeks in January 1967, three weeks after Meek’s death.

Sound Magician Joe Meek


The so-called good ol’ days of the 1960s were good for many, but not all. Being gay,  likely bipolar, and a workaholic who slept perhaps one day a week facing increased pressure from larger studios trying to minimize Meeks’ success created a situation that was beyond Meeks’ ability to manage.

On February 3, 1967 Meek shot and killed his landlady and then himself.  February 3, 1959 was the day Buddy Holly died in that infamous plane crash. On February 3, 2003, the most famous American recording engineer, Phil Spector, shot and killed Lana Clarkson.

Today a plaque in front of 304 Holloway Road commemorates his presence. It is on the wall between the Holloway Express Grocery Store and the Titanic Café and Restaurant (noted for its “all day English breakfasts”).

Sound Magician Joe Meek

Sound Magician Joe Meek

December 22 Peace Love Art Activism

December 22 Peace Love Art Activism

Pledge of Allegiance

December 22 Peace Love Art ActivismDecember 22, 1942: Congress amended the Flag code to replace the Bellamy salute with the the hand-over-heart salute. The Bellamy salute  had been the salute described by Francis Bellamy to accompany the American Pledge of Allegiance, which he had authored. During the period when it was used with the Pledge of Allegiance, it was sometimes known as the “flag salute”. During the 1920s and 1930s, Italian fascists and Nazis adopted salutes which were similar in form, resulting in controversy over the use of the Bellamy salute in the United States. (see PoA for expanded chronology)

December 22 Peace Love Art Activism



French propaganda film:

December 22, 1950: the French use napalm against Viet Minh forces for the first time. (see February 25, 1952)

James T. Davis

December 22 Peace Love Art Activism

December 22, 1961: one of the first American battlefield fatalities in Vietnam–Specialist 4 James T. Davis died. He served as a 3rd Radio Research Unit advisor to elements of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). Davis is honored on Panel 1E, Line 4 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. See James T Davis for expanded story.(see Davis for more about him)

Peace delegation to Hanoi

December 22 Peace Love Art Activism

December 22, 1972: a peace delegation that included singer-activist Joan Baez and human rights attorney Telford Taylor visited Hanoi to deliver Christmas mail to American prisoners of war (they will be caught in the Christmas bombing of North Vietnam). (see Dec 25)

December 22 Peace Love Art Activism

December 22 Music et al

December 22, 1962 – January 11, 1963: “Telstar” by the Tornados #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Joe Meek wrote it. Jean Ledrut, a French composer, accused Meek of plagiarism, claiming that the tune of “Telstar” had been copied from “La Marche d’Austerlitz”, a piece from a score that Ledrut had written for the 1960 film Austerlitz. The a lawsuit prevented Meek from receiving royalties from the record.  Courts resolved the issue in Meek’s favor, but not until three weeks after his suicide in 1967. Austerlitz was not released in the UK until 1965 and Meek was unaware of the film when the lawsuit was filed in March 1963. (see February 10, 1968)

December 22 Peace Love Art Activism


University of Alabama

December 22, 1963: Tuscaloosa, Alabama Police Chief William M. Marable said that he had both statements and physical evidence to support charges that five National Guardsmen set off explosions near the University of Alabama. (BH, see Dec 23; UA, see January 8, 1964)

Sam Cooke

December 22, 1964:: Sam Cooke’s A Change is Gonna Come released. (see Change Is Gonna Come) (see In February 1965)

George Whitmore, Jr

December 22, 1972: Brooklyn DA Eugene Gold announced he was reopening the case in view of an affidavit obtained by TV journalist Selwyn Raab from Elba Borrero’s sister, Celeste Viruet, who lived near Borrero at the time of the assault but had since returned to her native Puerto Rico. The affidavit stated that before Borrero identified George Whitmore, Jr. police had shown her a photo array and she had identified another person as her assailant. (see George Whitmore for expanded chronology)

Howard Beach incident

December 22, 1986: three arrests were made of local teenagers in the Michael Griffith December 20 Howard Beach incident; the accused were Jon Lester, Scott Kern and Jason Ladone. (BH, see In February 1987; Howard Beach, see February 10, 1987)

Byron De La Beckwith

December 22, 1997: The Mississippi Supreme Court upheld the conviction of Byron De La Beckwith in the 1963 assassination of the civil rights leader Medgar Evers. The court said the 31-year lapse between the ambush slaying and Mr. Beckwith’s conviction did not deny him a fair trial. (Evers, see January 21, 2001)

Rainey Pool murder

In 1998: after more than twenty-eight years, five men were indicted for the murder of Pool (April 12, 1970).   Two of the five men had severed trials. (Pool, see June 30, 1999; BH, see Mar 12)

Murders of Three Civil Rights Workers

December 22, 2014: the Associated Press interviewed Edgar Ray Killen inside the Mississippi State Penitentiary, his first interview since his conviction on state charges of manslaughter in 2005. He steadfastly refused to discuss the “Freedom Summer” slayings of three civil-rights workers. He said he remained a segregationist who does not believe in race equality but contends he bears no ill will toward blacks.

Killen had first contacted an AP reporter 18 months earlier. In his first letter on March 3, 2013, he made clear that no conversation with a reporter would result in a confession.

“That is not where I am coming from after 50 years of silence,” Killen wrote. “I have never discussed the 1964 case with anyone — an attorney, the FBI, local law nor friend — and those who say so are lying.”(BH, see January 28, 2015; Murders, see May 26, 2016)

December 22 Peace Love Art Activism


December 22, 1966:  Lucy Burns died in Brooklyn, NY.(see August 30, 1967)

December 22 Peace Love Art Activism

Cultural Milestones

December 22 Peace Love Art Activism

December 22, 1967: Chicago businessman Michael Butler was planning to run for the U.S. Senate on an anti-war platform. He watched the Public Theatre’s production of Hair several times and joined forces with Joe Papp to reproduce the show at another New York venue after the close of its run at the Public.

Papp and Butler first moved the show to The Cheetah, a discotheque at 53rd Street and Broadway. It ran for 45 performances. (CM, see January 22, 1968; Hair, see April 29, 1968)

Beavis and Butthead

December 22, 1992: MTV first broadcast Beavis and Butthead.  One of the most well-known aspects of the series was the inclusion of music videos and the negative criticism by the characters of those videos.(see July 15, 1995)

December 22 Peace Love Art Activism

Native Americans

December 22, 1969: native-American civil rights activists had occupied Alcatraz Island on November 20, 1969, and held it for 18 months, until June 1971. One month after the occupation began, on this day, the protesters launched a pirate radio station called Radio Free Alcatraz.

Alcatraz Island had been the home of a federal penitentiary until President John Kennedy ordered it closed in 1963. At that point, Native-American activists argued that it was traditional Native-American land and launched several protests around it. The island became a national park in 1972. (see Feb 22)

Native American Rights Fund

In 1970: the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) founded. It is the oldest and largest nonprofit law firm dedicated to asserting and defending the rights of Indian tribes, organizations and individuals nationwide.

December 22 Peace Love Art Activism

Falklands War

December 22, 1981: General Leopoldo Galtierirose rose to the Presidency of Argentina in a coup that ousted General Roberto Viola. (see April 2, 1982)

December 22 Peace Love Art Activism

Dissolution of the USSR

December 22, 1989: the Romanian army defected to the cause of anti-communist demonstrators, and the government of Nicolae Ceausescu was overthrown.

Ceaușescu and his wife Elena fled.

Brandenburg gate

December 22, 1989: the reopening of Berlin’s Brandenburg gate. [NYT article] (see Dec 25)

December 22 Peace Love Art Activism


December 22, 2001: a Paris–Miami flight was diverted to Boston after passenger Richard Reid attempted to detonate explosives hidden in his shoe. (see Dec 27)

December 22 Peace Love Art Activism

Jack Kevorkian

December 22, 2005: Kevorkian was again denied parole by a board. (see JK for expanded chronology)

December 22 Peace Love Art Activism

Immigration History

December 22, 2009:  Brandon Piekarsky, 18, and Derrick Donchak, 19 pleaded not guilty in federal court to a hate crime in the death of Luís Ramírez, an immigrant. Piekarsky and Donchak were arraigned in Wilkes-Barre on charges stemming from the July 12, 2008 beating death of Ramírez. (next IH, see January 5, 2010; see Ramirez for expanded chronology)

National Security Entry-Exit Registration System

December 22, 2016: the Obama administration dismantled a dormant national registry program for visitors from countries with active terrorist groups — a program that then President-elect Donald J. Trump had suggested he would resurrect. The government had created the registry after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but it  had not been in use since 2011, so the move was largely symbolic and appeared to be aimed at distancing the departing administration from any effort by the new president to revive the program, known as the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, or Nseers. (see January 11, 2017)

Travel ban exceeds scope

December 22, 2017: a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Seattle ruled against President Trump’s latest travel ban, saying that the ban had exceeded “the scope of his delegated authority,” but that it was ultimately for the Supreme Court to decide.

The ruling affirmed the decision of a federal judge in Hawaii who ruled on October 17 that the order was unlawful on statutory grounds.

The ruling was a procedural but important step. On December 4, the Supreme Court allowed the ban — the third version issued by the Trump administration — to take effect and encouraged the appeals courts to rule on the case, a sign that it intended to take up the matter. The Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit is considering a similar ruling out of Maryland.

Neal Katyal, who argued the case before the Ninth Circuit court for the state of Hawaii, hailed the decision. “We are very pleased the Court of Appeals recognized that the president’s latest travel ban is flatly illegal,” he said, “and that his order defies the law Congress has laid down.”  [NYT article] (see Dec 23)


December 22, 2018: with Democratic leaders refusing to provide funds for President Trump’s wall project, Trump refused to negotiate a budget impasse and the a partial shutdown of the federal government began. (CNN article) (IH & TW, see Dec 25)

December 22 Peace Love Art Activism


Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

December 22, 2010: President Obama signed the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal into law. (see January 31, 2011)

North Carolina stalemate

December 22, 2016: North Carolina Republicans, who controlled both houses of the legislature, could not agree on a way to repeal House Bill 2.

The  law, signed by Governor Pat McCrory on March 23, curbed legal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and requires transgender people in public buildings to use the bathroom that corresponds with the gender on their birth certificate. The law had prompted economic boycotts, lawsuits, political acrimony and contributed to the McCrory’s defeat in November. (LGBTQ, see Dec 29; North Carolina, see March 15, 2017)


December 22, 2017: two courts ruled against the Trump administration’s order regarding transgender persons and the military.

  1. the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Washington handed down an order that set aside another attempt by the Trump administration to prevent transgender people from joining the United States military.

The order, detailed in a six-page document, stated that President Donald Trump’s administration had “not shown a strong likelihood that they will succeed on  the merits of their challenge” to earlier court orders that had rejected the ban.

  1. The District Court for the Central District of California became the fourth court to issue a nationwide preliminary injunction against the president’s ban. The first such order was issued on October 30 in Doe v. Trump.

“Finding the Plaintiffs have established injury-in-fact as it pertains to the Accession, Retention, and Sex Reassignment Surgery Directives, and finding this case      ripe for adjudication, the Court DENIES Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss,” the court wrote. “Additionally … the Court GRANTS Plaintiffs’ Motion for Preliminary  Injunction.” (LGTBQ, see Dec 28; transgender military, see Dec 29)

December 22 Peace Love Art Activism

Beat Generation

December 22 Peace Love Art Activism

December 22, 2014: James Irsay, the owner of the Indianapolis Colts, donated $10,000 for the Lowell Celebrates Kerouac Committee, a Massachusetts organization that keeps Beat Generation writer Jack Kerouac’s legacy alive.

Treasurer Steve Edington said the organization reached out to Irsay knowing he was huge Kerouac fan. Irsay paid $2.4 million for Kerouac’s original “On the Road” manuscript in 2001, and in 2007 allowed it to be displayed in Lowell, Kerouac’s hometown.  (see February 11, 2015)

December 22 Peace Love Art Activism

Birth Control & FREE SPEECH

December 22, 2014: U.S. appeals court Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III wrote that a North Carolina law requiring women seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound of the fetus performed and described to them was unconstitutional because it forced doctors to voice the state’s message discouraging the procedure.

Wilkinson, of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, upheld a district judge’s decision striking down the 2011 law, which was passed by North Carolina’s Republican-led legislature over a veto by then-Governor Beverly Perdue, a Democrat.

“The state freely admits that the purpose and anticipated effect … is to convince women seeking abortions to change their minds or reassess their decisions,” Wilkinson wrote in a unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel in Richmond, Virginia.

The state cannot commandeer the doctor-patient relationship to compel a physician to express its preference to the patient,” the appeals court ruled, stating that “this compelled speech provision” violated the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment. (NYT article) (WH, see March 9, 2015; FS, see March 30, 2015)

December 22 Peace Love Art Activism


December 22, 2023: President Joe Biden on Friday issued a proclamation expanding a marijuana pardon initiative he began last year by including for the first time people who committed cannabis possession offenses on federal properties.

“Criminal records for marijuana use and possession have imposed needless barriers to employment, housing, and educational opportunities,” Biden said in a statement. “Too many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana. It’s time that we right these wrongs.”

“Just as no one should be in a federal prison solely due to the use or possession of marijuana, no one should be in a local jail or state prison for that reason, either,” the president continued. “That’s why I continue to urge governors to do the same with regard to state offenses and applaud those who have since taken action.” [MM article] (next Cannabis, see January 12, 2024, or see CAC for expanded chronology)

December 22 Peace Love Art Activism

Woodstock Sri Swami Satchidananda

Woodstock Sri Swami Satchidananda

Sri Swami Satchidananda
photo w permission of Rev. Prem Anjali, Ph.D. Director, Integral Yoga Media & Archives
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 its overwhelming size, its original triple-album, and Oscar-winning film, but other things set it apart from the dozens of other festivals in 1969.

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.

Woodstock Sri Swami Satchidananda

The Beatles

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.

Woodstock Sri Swami Satchidananda


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 Recruiter/Headhunter.

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 Sri Swami Satchidananda

Muruga Booker

Muruga Booker performed percussion with Tim Hardin at Woodstock. It was there that he met Sri Swami Satchidananda.

For July 31, he posted the following on his Facebook page:

A Special Day! Precisely 56 years ago today, our Guru arrived in America–New York, to be exact–at the invitation of artist Peter Max. Young people were so eager to study his lifestyle and philosophy–Yoga–that money was collected to keep him here after what was supposed to have been a two-day visit.

That visit by Swami Satchidananda set off first the introduction, and then the mainstreaming, of Yoga in American culture. 56 years later, the benefits are innumerable and the lives changed, including mine, are beyond count.

And that is why July 31, 1966 has always been a sacred day to me. This date should also someday be recorded as an American Yoga birthdate of sorts. Others came before him, and others have since followed, but none have been so instrumental in spreading what today is known as Yoga.
Peace to all beings.

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)

Woodstock Sri Swami Satchidananda

C K Ramaswamy Gounder

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.

Woodstock Sri Swami Satchidananda

United States and Woodstock

Woodstock Sri Swami Satchidananda

He first 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)

Woodstock Sri Swami Satchidananda


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)

Woodstock Sri Swami Satchidananda