Tulsa Race Massacre

Tulsa Race Massacre

The Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma had earned the nickname America’s Black Wall Street. By 1921, it was a 35-block neighborhood with a bustling retail scene, as well as two schools, two newspapers and a hospital. Dozens of successful black-owned, black-run businesses were there. Hundreds of Blacks lived within walking distance of  grocery stores, hotels, nightclubs, billiard halls, theaters, doctor’s offices and churches.

It was a city within a city.

Tulsa Race Massacre

Post Civil War

According to a New York Times article, “Many African-Americans migrated to Tulsa after the Civil War, carrying dreams of new chapters and the kind of freedom found in owning businesses. Others made a living working as maids, waiters, chauffeurs, shoe shiners and cooks for Tulsa’s new oil class.

In Greenwood, residents held more than 200 different types of jobs. About 40 percent of the community’s residents were professionals or skilled craftspeople, like doctors, pharmacists, carpenters and hairdressers, according to a Times analysis of the 1920 census. While a vast majority of the neighborhood rented, many residents owned their homes.”

Though Blacks enjoyed success within Greenwood,  as with all areas in the United States, the majority white Tulsa community continued to deny them access to society in general.

Tulsa Race Massacre

May 30 and June 1, 1921

On  May 30, 1921 there was an elevator incident. As with nearly all such incidents, the truth is likely not close to the stories that were told.

The incident involved Dick Rowland, 19, a young Black shoe shiner, and Sarah Page, 17, a white elevator operator and likely was that Rowland tripped and grabbed onto the arm of Page while trying to catch his fall. She screamed, and he ran away, according to the 200-page 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission  report released on February 28, 2001.

Tulsa Race Massacre

May 31, 1921

Authorities arrest Dick Rowland the following day and jailed him in the Tulsa County Courthouse. As usual, the white-owned newspapers inflamed white Tulsa residents with the headline: “Nab Negro for Attacking Girl in Elevator.”

While any report, however spurious,  of any Black person’s “disrespect” of a White  person was cause for revenge, the interaction between a Black male and a White female was particularly provoking.

A lynch mob showed up outside the Courthouse. Twice, a group of armed Black Tulsans, many of them World War I veterans, offered to help protect Rowland but the sheriff turned them away.

As the men left the second time, a white man tried to disarm one of the black men. His weapon discharged and that sparked the always-simmering excuse to teach “them” a lesson.

Later, authorities would drop the charges against Rowland and concluded that he had most likely tripped and stepped on the Page’s foot, but that conclusion came far too late.

Tulsa Race Massacre

2-days of Destruction

A white mob descended on Greenwood.

Again according to the NY Times article, The mob “…indiscriminately shot Black people in the streets, ransacked homes, stole money and jewelry.

“They set fires, “house by house, block by block,” according to the commission report.

“Terror came from the sky, too. White pilots flew airplanes that dropped dynamite over the neighborhood, the report stated, making the Tulsa aerial attack what historians call among the first of an American city.

“The numbers presented a staggering portrait of loss: 35 blocks burned to the ground; as many as 300 dead; hundreds injured; 8,000 to 10,000 left homeless; more than 1,470 homes burned or looted.”

Another article speaks about members of the Oklahoma National Guard arresting Black victims and detaining 6,000 Greenwood residents at the Convention Hall and the Fairgrounds, some for as long as eight days.

Tulsa Race Massacre

Silent Aftermath

Though some Black residents attempted to stay and rebuilt, it never again was America’s Black Wall Street.

Tulsa passed a fire ordinance intended to prevent Black property owners from rebuilding on their own and insurance companies that refused to pay damage claims.

Tulsa hid the story.  Decades later when some young Black college students from Tulsa learned of the Massacre, they responded with disbelief how effective the secret keeping had been.

No one was ever prosecuted or punished for the Massacre and in 2005, the Supreme Court declined to hear a case brought by massacre victims, who appealed the decision of two federal court judges who said the victims waited too long to file their lawsuit.

There is a lawsuit regarding compensation.

Here is a link to many photos related to the Massacre.

And here a link to an excellent Smithsonian Magazine article entitled Artifacts From the Tulsa Race Massacre.

Tulsa Race Massacre

The Who Woodstock

The Who Woodstock

But first Abbie Hoffman.

Sly and the Family Stone had finished one of the festival’s most memorable set (for some the most memorable set) thus far. Chip Monck had reminded the crowd that The Who were next.

Woodstock Ventures never intended that the festival be a political event, but it was 1969 and no one could avoid the presence of Vietnam, assassinations, civil rights, and injustices. Especially if 500,000 young people showed up at the same place at the same time.

PBS described Abbie Hoffman as, ” a radical, revolutionary, political activist and social clown, if somebody is against something, odds are good Hoffman is against it too. Although his fame is cemented in the ’70s, his revolutionary bona fides are established in the ’60s”

Woodstock Ventures had permitted Hoffman to be a part of the event, albeit a minor part. Before The Who came on, he blew into the mic and spoke of the arrest and imprisonment of White Panther John Sinclair who was facing “ten fucking years for two joints of marijuana while we’re all sitting here digging rock music.”  He spoke for 30 seconds.

5 AM

It was 5 AM. Sunrise was about an hour away. Woodstock’s second day of music was 17 hours old.

My favorite album that summer was The Who’s Tommy. Not only was it a great album, I had gotten it for free by re-subscribing to Rolling Stone Magazine. I hoped the band would do some of Tommy. 

Wish completely fulfilled.

Below right is The Tommy album track listing. I have asterisked those songs that The Who did not perform at Woodstock. On the right is their Woodstock setlist.

  1. Overture *
  2. It’s a Boy
  3. 1921
  4. Amazing Journey
  5. Sparks
  6. Eyesight to the Blind/The Hawker
  7. Christmas
  8. Cousin Kevin *
  9. The Acid Queen
  10. Underture *
  11. Do You Think It’s Alright
  12. Fiddle About
  13. Pinball Wizard
  14. There’s a Doctor
  15. Go To the Mirror
  16. Tommy Can You Hear Me? *
  17. Smash the Mirror
  18. Sensation *
  19. Miracle Cure *
  20. Sally Simpson *
  21. I’m Free
  22. Welcome
  23. Tommy’s Holiday Camp
  24. We’re Not Gonna Take It
  1. Heaven and Hell [not Tommy]
  2. I Can’t Explain [not Tommy]
  3. It’s a Boy
  4. 1921
  5. Amazing Journey
  6. Sparks
  7. Eyesight to the Blind
  8. Christmas
  9. Acid Queen
  10. Pinball Wizard
  11. Abbie Hoffman incident
  12. Do You Think It’s Alright?
  13. Fiddle About
  14. There’s a Doctor
  15. Go to the Mirror
  16. Smash the Mirror
  17. I’m Free
  18. Tommy’s Holiday Camp
  19. We’re Not Gonna Take It
  20. Summertime Blues [not Tommy]
  21. Shakin’ All Over[not Tommy]
  22. My Generation[ not Tommy]

Even with Abbie Hoffman’s surprise second brief appearance, the Who are only on stage a bit over an hour.

Personnel

The Who Woodstock

Heaven and Hell

The Who Woodstock

Even with only three people in the band typically played an instrument, bassist John Entwistle remained behind the scene to the perpetually moving Pete Townshend, Keith Moon, and Roger Daltry.

Heaven and Hell had been the B-side of the Who’s single, Summertime Blues, but had been on an album.

On top of the sky is a place where you go if you’ve done nothing wrong
If you’ve done nothing wrong
And down in the ground is a place where you go if you’ve been a bad boy
If you’ve been a bad boy
Why can’t we have eternal life
And never die
Never die?
In the place up above you grow feather wings and you fly round and round
With a harp singing hymns
And down in the ground you grow horns and a tail and you carry a fork
And burn away
Why can’t we have eternal life, and never die
Never die?
The Who Woodstock

I Can’t Explain

I Can’t Explain had been the Who’s first single as the Who (they’d released a single with  “Zoot Suit”/”I’m the Face” as the High Numbers. In a 2015 interview with Rolling Stone, Townshend referred to “I Can’t Explain” as “a song, written by some 18-year-old kid, about the fact that he can’t tell his girlfriend he loves her because he’s taken too many Dexedrine tablets.

The Who Woodstock

It’s a Boy

Their performance of Tommy did not have the overture the album contained, but as soon as the crowd hears the opening of “It’s a Boy” they knew what was coming.

It’s a boy, Mrs. Walker, it’s a boy
It’s a boy, Mrs. Walker, it’s a boy

A son
A son
A son

The Who Woodstock

1921

The story continues…

[Lover]

I’ve got a feeling twenty one
Is going to be a good year.
Especially if you and me
See it in together.

[Father:]

So you think 21 is going to be a good year.
It could be for me and her,
But you and her-no never!
I had no reason to be over optimistic,
But somehow when you smiled
I could brave bad weather

[Mother:]

What about the boy?
What about the boy?
What about the boy?
He saw it all!

[Mother and Father:]

You didn’t hear it
You didn’t see it.
You won’t say nothing to no one
ever in your life.
You never heard it
Oh how absurd it
All seems without any proof.
You didn’t hear it
You didn’t see it
You never heard it not a word of it.
You won’t say nothing to no one
Never tell a soul
What you know is the Truth.

The Who Woodstock

Amazing Journey

Deaf, dumb and blind boy
He’s in a quiet vibration land.
Strange as it seems, his musical dreams
Ain’t quite so bad.
Ten years old with thoughts as bold as thoughts can be.
Loving life and becoming wise
In simplicity.
Sickness will surely take the mind
Where minds can’t usually go.
Come on the amazing journey
And learn all you should know.
A vague haze of delirium
Creeps up on me.
All at once a tall stranger I suddenly see.
He’s dressed in a silver sparkled
Glittering gown
And his golden beard flows
Nearly down to the ground.
Nothing to say and nothing to hear
And nothing to see.
Each sensation makes a note
In my symphony.
Sickness will surely take the mind
Where minds can’t usually go.
Come on the amazing journey
And learn all you should know.
His eyes are the eyes that
Transmit all they know.
Sparkle warm crystalline glances to show
That he is your leader
And he is your guide
On the amazing journey
Together you’ll ride.
The Who Woodstock

Sparks

An amazing instrumental.

The Who Woodstock

The Who Woodstock

Eyesight to the Blind/The Hawker

The Who used the lyrics written by Sonny Boy Williamson for the rock opera’s next song.

You talk about your woman
I wish you could see mine
You talk about your woman
I wish you could see mine
Every time she starts to lovin’
She brings eyesight to the blind
You know her daddy gave her magic
I can tell by the way she walks
Her daddy gave her magic,
I can tell by the way she walks
Every time she start to shakin’
The dumb begin to talk
She’s got the power to heal you, never fear!
She’s got the power to heal you, never fear!
Just a word from her lips
And the deaf begin to hear
The Who Woodstock

Christmas

The story continues and we hear for the first time the heart wrenching lines, See me, feel me, touch me, heal me!

Did you ever see the faces of the children
They get so excited
Waking up on Christmas morning
Hours before the winter sun’s ignited
They believe in dreams and all they mean
Including heaven’s generosity
Peeping round the door
To see what parcels are for free
In curiosity
And Tommy doesn’t know what day it is
He doesn’t know who Jesus was
Or what praying is
How can he be saved
From the eternal grave?
Surrounded by his friends
He sits so silently
And unaware of anything
Playing poxy pinball,
Picks his nose and smiles and
Pokes his tongue at everything
I believe in love
But how can men who’ve never seen
Light be enlightened
Only if he’s cured
Will his spirits future level ever heighten
And Tommy doesn’t know what day it is
He doesn’t know who Jesus was
Or what praying is
How can he be saved
From the eternal grave?
Tommy, can you hear me?
Tommy, can you hear me?
Tommy, can you hear me?
Tommy, can you hear me?
Tommy, can you hear me?
Can you hear me?
How can he be saved?
See me, feel me, touch me, heal me!
See me, feel me, touch me, heal me!
Tommy, can you hear me?
Tommy, can you hear me?
Tommy, can you hear me?
Tommy, can you hear me?
Tommy, can you hear me?
Can you, can you, can you hear me?
How can he be saved?
Did you ever see the faces of the children
They get so excited
Waking up on Christmas morning
Hours before the winter sun’s ignited
They believe in dreams and all they mean
Including heaven’s generosity
Peeping round the door
To see what parcels are for free
In curiosity
And Tommy doesn’t know what day it is
He doesn’t know who Jesus was
Or what praying is
How can he be saved
From the eternal grave?
The Who Woodstock

Acid Queen

[Gypsy:]

If your man ain’t all he should be now
This girl will put him right.
I’ll show him what he could be now
Just give me one night.
I’m the Gypsy – the acid Queen.
Pay before we start.
I’m the Gypsy – The acid queen.
I’ll tear your soul apart.

Give us a room and close the door
Leave us for a while.
Your boy won’t be a boy no more
Young, but not a child.
I’m the Gypsy – the acid queen.
Pay before we start.
I’m the Gypsy the acid queen.
I’ll tear your soul apart.

Gather your wits and hold on fast,
Your mind must learn to roam.
Just as the Gypsy Queen must do
You’re gonna hit the road.

My work is done now look at him
He’s never been more alive.
His head it shakes his fingers clutch.
Watch his body writhe
I’m the Gypsy – the acid queen.
Pay before we start.
I’m the Gypsy – I’m guaranteed.
To break your little heart.

The Who Woodstock

Pinball Wizard

Playing a pinball machine was a common entertainment. It was for Boomers, the Game Boy before the Game Boy. The band skips the album’s Underture and jumps Pinball Wizard in front of Do You Think It’s Alright

Ever since I was a young boy
I’ve played the silver ball
From Soho down to Brighton
I must have played them all
But I ain’t seen nothing like him
In any amusement hall

That deaf, dumb and blind kid
Sure plays a mean pinball!

He stands like a statue
Becomes part of the machine
Feeling all the bumpers
Always playing clean
Plays by intuition
The digit counters fall

That deaf, dumb and blind kid
Sure plays a mean pinball!

He’s a pinball wizard
There has to be a twist
A pinball wizard’s got such a supple wrist

‘How do you think he does it?
I don’t know
What makes him so good?’

Ain’t got no distractions
Can’t hear no buzzers and bells
Don’t see no lights a-flashin’
Plays by sense of smell
Always gets the replay
Never seen him fall

That deaf, dumb and blind kid
Sure plays a mean pinball!

I thought I was The Bally table king
But I just handed my pinball crown to him

Even on my favorite table
He can beat my best
His disciples lead him in
And he just does the rest
He’s got crazy flipper fingers
Never seen him fall

That deaf, dumb and blind kid
Sure plays a mean pinball!

The Who Woodstock

Abbie Hoffman interruptus

This is the Abbie Hoffman that Woodstock remembers. For whatever reason Hoffman felt he needed another moment to emphasize John Sinclair’s plight. Townshend reportedly didn’t know who Hoffman was and tells him to “Get off my fuckin’ stage.” The crown enthusiastically endorses Townshend’s view, but then he says, “I can dig it.”

The Who Woodstock

Do You Think It’s Alright?

Getting uncomfortable now both lyrically and after the brief Do You Think It’s Alright Townshend says that the “the next fuckin’ person who comes on the stage is gonna get fuckin’ killed [applause]. I mean it.” Apparently he’s had a change of heart.

Do you think it’s alright
To leave the boy with Uncle Ernie?
Do you think it’s alright
He’s had a few too many tonight
Do you think it’s alright? I think it’s alright

The Who Woodstock

Fiddle About

Uncle Ernie babysits.

I’m your wicked Uncle Ernie
I’m glad you won’t see or hear me
As I fiddle about, fiddle about, fiddle about

Your mother left me here to mind you
Now I’m doing what I want to
Fiddling about, fiddling about, fiddle about

Down with the bedclothes
Up with your nightshirt
Fiddle about, fiddle about, fiddle about

Fiddle about, fiddle about, fiddle about

You won’t shout as I fiddle about
Fiddle about, fiddle about, fiddle about
Fiddle about, fiddle about, fiddle about

Fiddle about, fiddle about, fiddle about
Fiddle about, fiddle about, fiddle about

Fiddle, fiddle, fiddle

The Who Woodstock

There’s a Doctor

There’s a man I’ve found
Could bring us all joy!
There’s a doctor in town could cure the boy!
There’s a doctor in town could cure the boy!

There’s a man I’ve found could remove his sorrow,
He lives in this town let’s see him tomorrow,
He lives in this town let’s see him tomorrow!

The Who Woodstock

Go to the Mirror

The return of the refrain, See me, feel me, touch me, heal me

[Doctor:]
He seems to be completely unreceptive
The tests I gave him show no sense at all
His eyes react to light the dials detect it
He hears but cannot answer to your call

[Tommy:]
See me, feel me, touch me, heal me
See me, feel me, touch me, heal me

[Doctor:]
There is no chance no untried operation
All hope lies with him and none with me
Imagine though the shock from isolation
When he suddenly can hear and speak and see

[Tommy:]
See me, feel me, touch me, heal me
See me, feel me, touch me, heal me

[Doctor:]
His eyes can see
His ears can hear his lips speak
All the time the needles flick and rock
No machine can give the kind of stimulation
Needed to remove his inner block

Go to the mirror boy
Go to the mirror boy

[Father:]
I often wonder what he’s feeling
Has he ever heard a word I’ve said?
Look at him in the mirror dreaming
What is happening in his head?

[Tommy:]
Listening to you I get the music
Gazing at you I get the heat
Following you I climb the mountain
I get excitement at your feet

Right behind you I see the millions
On you I see the glory
From you I get opinions
From you I get the story

[Father:]
What is happening in his head
Ooooh I wish I knew, I wish I knew

The Who Woodstock

Smash the Mirror

Skipping Tommy Can You Hear Me? the band jumps to Smash the Mirror.

[Mother:]

You don’t answer my call
With even a nod or a twitch
But you gaze at your own reflection!
You don’t seem to see me
But I think you can see yourself.
How can the mirror affect you?

Can you hear me
Or do I surmise?
That you fear me can you feel my temper
RISE.

Do you hear or fear or
Do I smash the mirror.
Do you hear of fear or
Do I smash the mirror? SMASH!

The Who Woodstock

I’m Free

Skipping Sensation, Miracle Cure, and Sally Simpson the band jumps to I’m Free.

[Tommy:]

I’M FREE- I’m free,
And freedom tastes of reality,
I’m free-I’m free,
AN’ I’m waiting for you to follow me.

If I told you what it takes
to reach the highest high,
You’d laugh and say ‘nothing’s that simple’
But you’ve been told many times before
Messiahs pointed to the door
And no one had the guts to leave the temple!

I’m free-I’m free
And freedom tastes of reality
I’m free-I’m free
And I’m waiting for you to follow me.

[Chorus:]

How can we follow?
How can we follow?

The Who Woodstock

Tommy’s Holiday Camp

Skipping “Welcome” the band goes directly to camp.

Good morning Campers!

I’m your Uncle Ernie
and I’ll welcome you to Tommy’s Holiday Camp
The camp with the difference
Nevermind the weather
When you come to Tommy’s
The holiday’s forever

The Who Woodstock

We’re Not Gonna Take It

The band closes Tommy with what is also the album’s last song and for many one of the most plaintive songs ever written.

Welcome to the camp
I guess you all know why we’re here
My name is Tommy
And I became aware this year
If you want to follow me
You’ve got to play pinball
And put in your ear plugs
Put on your eye shades
You know where to put the cork

Hey you gettin’ drunk
So sorry, I got you sussed
Hey you smokin’ mother nature
This is a bust
Hey hung up old Mr. Normal
Don’t try to gain my trust
‘Cause you ain’t gonna follow me
Any of those ways
Although you think you must

We’re not gonna take it
We’re not gonna take it
We’re not gonna take it
We’re not gonna take it
We’re not gonna take it
Never did and never will
We’re not gonna take it
Gonna break it
Gonna shake it
Let’s forget it better still

Now you can’t hear me
Your ears are truly sealed
You can’t speak either
Your mouth is filled
You can’t see nothing
And pinball completes the scene
Here comes Uncle Ernie
To guide you to
Your very own machine

We’re not gonna take it
We’re not gonna take it
We’re not gonna take it
We’re not gonna take it
We’re not gonna take it
Never did and never will
Don’t want no religion
And as far as we can tell
We ain’t gonna take you
Never did and never will
We forsake you
Gonna rape you
Let’s forget you better still

We forsake you
Gonna rape you
Let’s forget you better still

See me, feel me
Touch me, heal me
See me, feel me
Touch me, heal me
See me, feel me
Touch me, heal me
See me, feel me
Touch me, heal me

Listening to you, I get the music
Gazing at you, I get the heat
Following you, I climb the mountain
I get excitement at your feet
Right behind you, I see the millions
On you, I see the glory
From you, I get opinions
From you, I get the story

The Who Woodstock

Summertime Blues

Tommy is over, but not The Who. “Summertime Blues” is a song co-written and recorded by Eddie Cochran.

Well, I’m gonna raise a fuss
I’m gonna raise a holler
‘Bout workin’ all summer
Just to try to earn a dollar
Well, I went to the bossman
Tried to get a break
But the boss said ‘No dice, son,
You gotta work late’
Sometimes I wonder what am I gonna do
‘Cause there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues
Well, my Mom and Poppa told me
Son, you gotta earn some money
If you want to use the car
To go riding next Sunday
Well, I didn’t go to work
I told the boss I was sick
He said ‘You can’t use the car
‘Cause you didn’t work a lick’
Sometimes I wonder what am I gonna do
There ain’t no cure for the summertime blues
Gonna take two weeks
Gonna have a fine vacation
Gonna take my problem
To the United Nations
Well’ I went to my congressman
He said ‘quote’
‘I’d like to help you son,
But you’re too young to vote’
Sometimes I wonder what am I gonna do
‘Cause there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues
The Who Woodstock

Shakin’ All Over

“Shakin’ All Over” is a song originally performed by Johnny Kidd & the Pirates. Johnny Kidd wrote it and his original recording reached No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart in August 1960.

 

When you move in right up close to me
That’s when I get the shakes all over me
Quivers down my back bone
I’ve got the shakes down the kneebone
Yeah havin’ the tremors in the thighbone
Shakin’ all over
Just the way you say goodnight to me
Brings that feeling on inside of me
Quivers down my back bone
I’ve got the quivers down the thighbone
Yeah the tremors in my back bone
Shakin’ all over
Quivers down my back bone
Yeah I have the shakes in the kneebone
I’ve got the tremors in the back bone
Shakin’ all over
Well, you make me shake and I like it, baby
Well, you make me shake and I like it, baby
Well, you make me shake and I like it, baby
The Who Woodstock

My Generation

The song was released as a single on 29 October 1965, reaching No. 2 in the UK, The Who’s highest charting single in their home country[8] and No. 74 in America.[9] “My Generation” also appeared on The Who’s 1965 debut album, My Generation (The Who Sings My Generation in the United States),

People try to put us d-down (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Just because we get around (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Things they do look awful c-c-cold (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I hope I die before I get old (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
This is my generation
This is my generation, baby
Why don’t you all f-fade away (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Don’t try to dig what we all s-s-s-say (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I’m not trying to ’cause a big s-s-sensation (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I’m just talkin’ ’bout my g-g-g-generation (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
My generation
This is my generation, baby
Why don’t you all f-fade away (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
And don’t try to d-dig what we all s-s-say (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I’m not trying to ’cause a b-big s-s-sensation (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I’m just talkin’ ’bout my g-g-generation (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
This is my generation
This is my generation, baby
My my my generation
People try to put us d-down (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Just because we g-g-get around (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Things they do look awful c-c-cold (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Yeah, I hope I die before I get old (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
This is my generation
This is my generation, baby
My my my generation
this is my generation
(Talkin’ ’bout my generation) this is my generation
(Talkin’ ’bout my generation) this is my generation
(Talkin’ ’bout my generation) this is my generation
(Talkin’ ’bout my generation) this is my generation
(Talkin’ ’bout my generation) this is my generation
(Talkin’ ’bout my generation) this is my generation
The Who Woodstock

Sunday Sunrise

The sun rose and it was good.

The Who Woodstock
Sunday morning August 17, 1969. Photo by J Shelley
The Who Woodstock

Canadian Bassist Brad Campbell

Canadian Bassist Brad Campbell

Canadian Bassist Brad Campell

Brad Campbell played at Woodstock as part of Janis Joplin’s Kosmic Blues Band. Of course, like all musicians, he’d had things happen before and many things following.

Canadian Bassist Brad Campbell

Last Words

Canadian Bassist Brad Campell

Though little known in the US, the first big band Brad Campbell would play with was the Canadian band, The Last Words. The original group was comprised of Graeme Box (lead guitar), Ron Guenther (drums) and Noel Campbell (piano).

According to a Barbed Wire Design article, The Last Words began in Clarkson, Ontario in 1961 as the The Beachcombers.  Began and ended after two gigs.

Then, liking Ronnie Hawkins, they became the Nighthawks.

In 1964 Noel Campbell left the band, but before leaving invited brother Brad to join. Brad played bass.

Now they were The Smamokins band, but that soon changed to The Last Words.

Canadian Bassist Brad Campbell

I Symbolize You

Their first single in 1965, The Laugh’s On Me / She’ll Know How, for RCA Canada received very little air play, but in 1966 they hit the Canadian charts with a Columbia release, I Symbolize You / It Made Me Cry.

In late 1966, they released their last charted single, Give Me Time / Drive A Mini Minor, again on Columbia.

Bill Dureen left the group in 1967 and the remaining members continued with three others until 1968. Next was joining “The Paupers” with Skip Prokop (Lighthouse).

Canadian Bassist Brad Campbell

Janis Joplin

In 1968 he went to New York.

He auditioned for Janis Joplin and she instructed her agent Albert Grossman to hire Brad.

He the Kosmic Blues band in late 1968. He’d eventually join Janis Joplin’s Full Tilt Boogie Band.

A Know Your Bass Player article wrote: To my ears, the Kozmic Blues Band and Full Tilt Boogie Band, with bassist Brad Campbell, were the perfect match to advance Janis’ groundbreaking artistry after she departed Big Brother & The Holding Company.

Throughout I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama (1969), Pearl (1971),  and tracks on the archival In Concert (1972) [Campbell} fortified Ms. Joplin’s forays into soul and rhythm and blues on such classic tracks as “Try,” “Move Over,” “Half Moon,” and “Me and Bobbie McGee” with harmonic and rhythmic passages evocative of the Motown, Stax, and Atlantic Records session masters – who, at the time, were his peers.

Canadian Bassist Brad Campbell

Post Janis

Brad returned to Canada after Janis’s death.

He’d married and begin a family.

Canadian Bassist Brad Campell

Over the past two decades he has played with several bands, one of which was Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver. Campbell played banjo and did vocals for Lawson from 1993 to 1994 and played on their album Never Walk Away.

His All Music credit list.

Brad lives in Milton, Ontario.

Canadian Bassist Brad Campbell