Category Archives: Today in history

Eric Burdon Animals House Rising Sun

Eric Burdon Animals House Rising Sun

One of the goals of my Bethel Woods Museum tours is to more accurately present the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. Clear up that Woodstock haze.

A common misconceptions is that the 400,000 there were a bunch of hippies. Using a picture I took the Saturday of the festival, I half-kiddingly point out that the majority of young people there were “white kids getting sunburned.”

Eric Burdon Animals House Rising Sun
photo by J Shelley

Guests typically chuckle and I add, “Look at the rest of the pictures and find the hippies. Find tie-dyed clothing.” Picture perusal yields little of either.

Eric Burdon Animals House Rising Sun

#1

On September 5, 1964 “House of the Rising Sun” by the Animals hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. They had recorded it on May 18 and released it in the UK in June and in the US in August. At 2:58, the song barely made it under the AM radio de rigueur  3 minute limit.

Animals House of the Rising Sun

British Blues Invasion

When songs by British invaders like the Rolling Stones and the Animals started playing on American radio airwaves, many teenagers loved their gritty soulful feel. Little did we innocent and naive white segregated American teenagers realize, as the Stones and Animals did, that the songs were American.

Animals House of the Rising Sun

Not Hello Dolly

“House of the Rising Sun” is such an example. The song’s origins may go as far back as the 1700s. The classic American bluesman, Leadbelly, recorded two versions in the mid-1940s.

As with many musical genres, the Animals adapted the song’s story to their own way by changing the viewpoint from that of a woman to that of a son whose father is satisfied only when he is drunk.

This was not She Loves You, Hello Dolly, Everybody Loves Somebody, or any other of 1964’s #1 songs. Its intensity and darkness set it apart.

You can find more about the song’s history via a American Blues Scene link.

Eric Burdon Animals House Rising Sun

Charles Mingus Fables Faubus

Charles Mingus Fables Faubus

On September 4, 1957 Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus had called out the National Guard to prevent nine black students from entering Little Rock’s Central High School. The Soviet Union used the event to  propagandize tales of the horrors suffered by African Americans.

Columbia rejects

Jazz bassist Charles Mingus composed “Fables of Faubus” in reaction. It is one of his most explicitly political works. He recorded it for his 1959 album, Mingus Ah Um, but his label, Columbia, refused to include the lyrics. so he recorded song  as an instrumental.

Candid accepts

On October 20, 1960 he recorded Fables of Faubus with lyrics for the album Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus with the more  independent Candid label. Contractual issues with Columbia forced Candid to re-name the song Original Faubus Fables.

Rapier-thrust

The personnel for the Candid recording were Charles Mingus (bass, vocals), Dannie Richmond (drums, vocals), Eric Dolphy (alto saxophone), and Ted Curson (trumpet). The vocals featured a call-and-response between Mingus and Richmond.

Critic Don Heckman commented of the unedited “Original Faubus Fables” in a 1962 review that it was “a classic Negro put-down in which satire becomes a deadly rapier-thrust. Faubus emerges in a glare of ridicule as a mock villain whom no-one really takes seriously. This kind of commentary, brimful of feeling, bitingly direct and harshly satiric, appears far too rarely in jazz.” See this Musiqology article for more.

Lyrics
Oh, Lord, don’t let ’em shoot us! Oh, Lord, don’t let ’em stab us! Oh, Lord, don’t let ’em tar and feather us! Oh, Lord, no more swastikas! 

Oh, Lord, no more Ku Klux Klan!Name me someone who’s ridiculous, Dannie. Governor Faubus! Why is he so sick and ridiculous?

He won’t permit integrated schools. Then he’s a fool! Boo! Nazi Fascist supremists!

Boo! Ku Klux Klan (with your Jim Crow plan) Name me a handful that’s ridiculous, Dannie Richmond.

Faubus, Rockefeller, Eisenhower Why are they so sick and ridiculous?

Two, four, six, eight: They brainwash and teach you hate. H-E-L-L-O, Hello.

Charles Mingus Fables Faubus

Photographer Baron Wolman

Photographer Baron Wolman

June 25, 1937 – November 2, 2020

Photographer Baron Wolman

Being in the right place at the right time is luck. Being talented and in the right place at the right time is fortune.

Baron Wolman was the very talented photographer whose pictures help us know American life far better than had he not taken them.

Photographer Baron Wolman

Rolling Stone magazine

After getting a taste of photography while in the Army, Wolman lived in (the right place) San Francisco. Wolman was no Boomer (he was born in 1937), but Jann Wenner was when the two met in April 1967.

The 21-year-old Wenner wanted Wolman to be the photographer for a rock music magazine Wenner had in mind. Wolman said he’d work for free if he could keep ownership of his pictures. A wise quid pro quo.

Cover after cover

Rolling Stone magazine would not have been the same without Wolman’s pictures.

Photographer Baron Wolman

Baron was Rolling Stone’s photographer from 1967 to 1970, a  short time, but perhaps no better stretch to be a part of the scene Rolling Stone wanted to cover. He says that he “shot his best stuff in ’68 and ’69…those were the halcyon days.”

Photographer Baron Wolman

His photos graced cover after cover of the magazine revealing the famous, the emerging, and behind the scene.

Woodstock Music and Art Fair

He photographed, not surprisingly, the Woodstock Music and Art Fair and those photos are perhaps the best of any taken there. While shooting Santana that hot Saturday afternoon, Bill Graham took Wolman’s camera to shoot a picture of Baron. No selfies then.

Photographer Baron Wolman

Photographer Baron Wolman

True fashion starts on the street

Photographer Baron Wolman

After Rolling Stone, Baron Wolman changed direction slightly and started to concentrate on fashion with his Rags magazine. As many knew, fashion trends often begin outside of actual fashion studios when someone decides that “others may think this combination odd, but it looks good” and a year later models are walking the runways with it.

Photographer Baron Wolman

Embedded photographer

He followed the Oakland Raiders in 1974 and produced Oakland Raiders: The Good Guys.

Learning to fly

Wolman learned to fly and took pictures of California from his plane ( California From the Air: The Golden Coast (1981)) or pictures of Israel (The Holy Land: Israel From the Air (1987))

Santa Fe/Passing

Wolman settled  in Sante Fe, New Mexico and continued to photograph and be a beacon of light both toward the future and from the past. He regularly posted on his musings and observations on his Facebook page as well as Instagram.

On October 4, 2020 he postedSad to say I’m now in the final sprint to the end. I go forward with a huge amount of gratitude for the many blessings bestowed upon me (family, friends, travels and more), with no regrets and appreciation for how my photographs — my life’s work — have been received.

Less than a month later, his rep, Dianne Duenzl, announced his death: “It is with a sad heart that we announce the passing of Baron Wolman on November 2, 2020. Baron died peacefully at the age of 83, after a battle with ALS. Baron’s pictures gave us a rare, comprehensive, and accurate reflection of that time executed by a gifted artist whose visual intelligence is unsurpassed.” [Rolling Stone obit]

Photographer Baron Wolman