Tag Archives: Birthdays

Animal Eric Burdon

Animal Eric Burdon

The music I love was created by the sons and daughters of slaves. My life’s work has always been about honoring those people who suffered and thus, created a language of peace and salvation through music. 

Everything we believed in during the ’60s, everything people fought and died for, is being jeopardized today. [Eric Burdon]

May 11…Happy birthday and many more!
Animal Eric Burdon
photo from Eric Burdon site

In 1966, friend Rob who attended Fordham Prep in the Bronx, NY asked me if I’d like to go to a concert there. The Animals were playing.

1964’s British Invasion did far more than introduce the Beatles to the Boomers.  On September 5, 1964 The Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun” became Billboard’s #1 single. It was likely the first time we’d heard of these Animals (what a great name!).

Sadly, most of us young Americans thought it was the Animals’ song.

Animal Eric Burdon
source: YouTube

We didn’t realize it may have had roots centuries deep–or at least decades deep in our own American history. And as few of us realized (as I assume few radio stations realized) that the song was about a whore house.

Animal Eric Burdon

Eric Burdon

Animal Eric Burdon

In any case, the voice of Eric Burdon became part of the 1960s soundtrack. For me, their Best of the Animals album was my introduction. I didn’t realize that they had produced the album because of personnel changes. I did notice that it seemed every time I bought a new Animal album, there seemed to be a replacement. Eric was there though. That was the main thing.

Animal Eric Burdon

Even the 1967 Eric is Here album with its departure from rock and blues was OK. New way to hear stuff.

Burdon, like any rock musician, could read the Beatle writings on the wall, and when they went psychedelic, he did, too. He made politically-influenced music, well, that was OK, too. And there was that “New York 1963 — America 1968,” an 18-minute l track featuring vocals not by a group member, but a black engineer named Cliff, who recalls his experience as a fighter pilot during World War II.

Patience James. Patience.

Animal Eric Burdon

Drifted apart

Eric and I slowly drifted apart. More because of new responsibilities on my part than any disenchantment.

Eric forged ahead and continues to perform. To list the dozens of albums and songs and groups he’s been with for 50+ years is for Wikipedia or AllMusic.

He and the other original Animals (Chas Chandler, Alan Price , John Steel, and Hilton Valentine) were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. Eric had a gig in Dusseldorf, Germany. Jancee Dunn in Rolling Stone asked “Artist of principle or crazy man?”

Suffice to say that Eric Burdon is still going, still singing, and we can still enjoy his presence.

Oh, yea. That concert at Fordham. It was pretty good. I think I remember that the Lovin’ Spoonful opened for them.

Animal Eric Burdon
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Bernard Alfred Jack Nitzsche

Bernard Alfred Jack Nitzsche

Arranger/composer/producer
April 22, 1937 — August 25, 2000

Jack Nitzsche

Jack Nitzsche – “One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest (Opening Theme)” 
Bernard Alfred Jack Nitzsche

Jack Nitzsche

Jack Nitzsche. Where have we heard that name? Album cover readers know that they saw the name regularly on the album credits. As my father sometimes joked, “He’s like horseshit. He’s everywhere.”

What I gradually realized was that Jack Nitzsche was associated with many of my favorite albums.

Born Bernard Alfred Nitzsche in Chicago, he grew up in Michigan, and moved to California as a teenager. Like many people who have moved to California, Nitzcshe hoped to become an entertainer. A saxophonist specifically.

Bernard Alfred Jack Nitzsche

Needles and Pins

Bernard Alfred Jack Nitzsche

His story is familiar. When the saxophone school didn’t worked out, he found a job at Specialty Records copying music scores. While doing that he met Sonny Bono who was chief of A & R there. Their friendship led to songwriting. You’ll likely recognize an early hit:

Bernard Alfred Jack Nitzsche

The Lonely Surfer

He had a minor hit on his own with “The Lonely Surfer” in 1963. It’s a pretty good song!

Bernard Alfred Jack Nitzsche

Phil Spector

In the meantime, Nitzsche met and started working with Phil Spector and eventually helped create the Wall of Sound while working with session musicians famously known as the Wrecking Crew.

If you’ve ever heard  “River Deep, Mountain High” by Ike and Tina Turner you’ve heard Nitzshe. Bob Lind’s “Elusive Butterfly”? Nitzshe.  Darlene Love? May have been Nitzsche.

Bernard Alfred Jack Nitzsche

Rolling Stones and more

In 1964, he met the Rolling Stones. When you hear “Paint It, Black” and “Let’s Spend the Night Together” or “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”? Nitzsche.

Buffalo Springfield’s “Expecting to Fly”? Nitzsche.

Do you like Lesley Gore? Jackie DeShannon? The Righteous Brothers? Beach Boys? Searchers? Rip Cords? Bobby Vee?  Tim Buckley? Gary Lewis and the Playboys? The Monkeys? The Ventures? James Gang? Graham Parker? Willy DeVille?

It may have been Jack Nitzsche’s handiwork. Sometimes producing. Sometimes keyboards.

Bernard Alfred Jack Nitzsche

You say you want more?

Neil Young and Crazy Horse, solo or together.

Bernard Alfred Jack Nitzsche

Performance

Bernard Alfred Jack Nitzsche


And that’s just some of the music. He also worked on movie music. Here is a partial list:

  • He won an Oscar for Best Song with “Up Where We Belong” co-written with his wife Buffy St Marie and Will Jennings from Officer and a Gentleman.
  • Performance which stared Mick Jagger
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
  • Hardcore
  • The Razor’s Edge
  • Starman
  • The Exorcist
  • Breathless
  • 9 1/2 Weeks
Bernard Alfred Jack Nitzsche

Poor Health

His health deteriorated in the mid-90s and his career followed.  He died on August 25, 2000.

REM wrote “2JN” in his memory.

Bernard Alfred Jack Nitzsche
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Timothy Francis Leary

Timothy Francis Leary

October 22, 1930 — May 31, 1996leary.1

When hearing the name Timothy Leary a person’s next thought will likely be LSD. Though his life began far from researching the possible use of LSD and other psychedelic substances in treating mental illnesses, his (and then Richard Alpert) Harvard Psilocybin Project forever connected him to those three letters.

Timothy Francis Leary

Pre project

Leary was born in Springfield, Massachusetts and was a happily rebellious student at all levels.

In high school he wrote controversial articles for the school newspaper.

The College of the Holy Cross dismissed him for repeated rule infractions.

From Holy Cross, he went to, of all places, the West Point Military Academy where, not surprisingly, he continued to ignore rules. Within a few months, the Academy’s Honor Committee asked him to leave, but he chose to remain. The Academy silenced him, that is, no one spoke to him, shunned him, ignored him.

Leary remained until the Academy revised its decision and Leary left.

Timothy Francis Leary

Meets Psychology and the Army

His next academic stop was the University of Alabama  in 1941 where he first began his studies in psychology.  Broken rules again led to expulsion.

The Army drafted him in 1943 and while in the service, he continued his education as his various postings, all of which were state-side.

While in the Army, he married Marianne Busch and they married in 1945.

Timothy Francis Leary

Doctorate

After leaving the Army with an honorable discharge, Leary continued his education at various institution at various levels. He eventually received his doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of California, Berkeley in 1950.

The rest of the 60s was an uneasy time for Leary. His wife committed suicide in 1955 and he began to raise his son and daughter alone while teaching at various institutions. He had academic success in terms of his reputation.

He became part of the Harvard faculty in 1959. In 1960, he and Richard Alpert (now Ram Dass) began to explore the effects of psychotropic substances on the human mind via their Harvard Psilocybin Project.  At the time, neither LSD nor psilocybin were illegal.

Because of the research’s methods (for example, Leary and Alpert were sometimes under the influence while doing their research), “Leary and Alpert’s colleagues challenged the scientific merit of their research, as well as the seemingly cavalier attitude with which it was carried out (e.g. poorly controlled conditions, non-random selection of subjects).  Editorials printed in the Harvard Crimson accused Alpert and Leary of not merely researching psychotropic drugs but actively promoting their recreational use. (Harvard site)

By the spring of 1963, Harvard dismissed both Leary and Alpert.

Timothy Francis Leary

Millbrook, NY 1963 – 1967

Timothy Francis Leary

The wealthy heirs Peggy, Billy, and Tommy Hitchcock found Leary’s work interesting and offered him a mansion in Millbrook, NY. There Leary and Alpert continued their unorthodox research under the aegis of the Castalia Foundation.

It was at this same period that California’s Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters had also began their exploration of the psychedelic state. While strict researchers criticized Leary and Alpert’s methods as unscientific, the Pranksters had no scientific aims to begin with. Theirs was a recreational use that had mind expansion as a wonderful side effect.

The the two coasts met at the half-way point of the Pranksters famous bus ride across the US in 1964. Because of the two groups difference in approach, the meeting was brief and not nearly the historic uniting one might have expected.

They agreed amicably agreeing to disagree.

Timothy Francis Leary

Leary spreads his gospel

In the mid-60s, Leary began touring colleges during which he spoke of starting one’s own religion. (pamphlet), but it was at the January 14, 1967 Human Be-In that Leary spoke his famous phrase–Turn on, tune in, drop out.”

Timothy Francis Leary

Legal encounters

Leary regularly had drug-related run ins with authorities.

  • December 20, 1965, police arrested Leary for possession of marijuana and on March 11, 1966,  the court sentenced him to d to 30 years in prison, fined him $30,000, and ordered him to undergo psychiatric treatment. He appealed the case on the basis that the Marihuana Tax Act was unconstitutional.  On May 19, 1969, The US Supreme Court concurred with Leary in Leary v. United States, declared the Marihuana Tax Act unconstitutional, thus overturning his 1965 conviction
  • December 26, 1968, Leary was arrested again in Laguna Beach, California, this time for the possession of two marijuana “roaches.” On January 21, 1970, the Courts gave Leary  a 10-year sentence for this 1968 offense, with a further 10 added later while in custody for a prior arrest in 1965, for a total of 20 years to be served consecutively. He escaped in September 1970 from the low-security prison in which he was held. The anarchist group the Weathermen helped his get out of the country and Leary fled to Algeria. He later went to Switzerland where in 1972, at the behest of US Attorney General John Mitchell, the Swiss government imprisoned Leary for a month, but refused to extradite him.
  • In 1972, the US government succeeded in arresting Leary while he was on a US airline in Afghanistan. Upon his return to the US, California authorities put him in solitary confinement in Folsom Prison.  Leary continued his writings while in prison. California Governor Jerry Brown released Leary on April 21, 1976.
Timothy Francis Leary

End story

Timothy Francis Leary

End story

Timothy Francis Leary

After prison, Leary lessened his proselytizing of if not his personal use of psychoactive drugs.  In the 80s he said that computers would be the LSD of the 90s and said to “turn on, boot up, and jack in.”

That phrase remains in obscurity.

His life took on a semi-religious, albeit unorthodox, tone. yet in 1992 he said that he’d always considered himself a pagan.

Leary died on may 31, 1996 from prostate cancer.

Timothy Francis Leary
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