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Woodstock Performers First Album

Woodstock Performers First Album

Though many of those who performed at Woodstock were famous already [at least to their fans they were], in terms of having a recording contract and releasing an album, most of them had been in the music business (as opposed to performing) for a short time. If fact for a few, their first album release came after the Woodstock Music and Art Fair.

Listed below are all those who performed at the festival in the order that their first album was released. I’ve also included the age of band members (if available) at the time of the album’s release.

There were 32 music performances at Woodstock, but Country Joe performed twice: once solo and once with the Fish. I have counted him as one and with the Fish, so I’ve listed 31 albums below.

To the point of “being in the business,” the large majority–25–of the bands had released their first albums from 1967 and after. Or, only 6 had released an album before 1967.

And three in that majority released an album after 1969.

Woodstock Performers First Album

Ravi Shankar

Woodstock Performers First Album

Ravi Shankar released his first album, Music Of India – Three Classical Ragas On Sitar, in 1956. He was 36.

Woodstock Performers First Album

Joan Baez

Woodstock Performers First Album

October 1960: Joan Baez (age 19) released her first album, Joan Baez.

Woodstock Performers First Album

1965

Paul Butterfield Blues Band

October, 1965: The Paul Butterfield Blues Band album released. Paul Butterfield was 22. No other personnel for the album performed at Woodstock.

The Who

Woodstock Performers First Album

December 3, 1965: The Who [Pete Townshend, 20; Keith Moon, 19; Roger Daltrey, 21; and John Entwistle, 21] released My Generation album.

Woodstock Performers First Album

1966

Incredible String Band

Woodstock Performers First Album

June, 1966: Incredible String Band (Robin Williamson, age 22 , and Mike Heron, age 22 ) released first album, The Incredible String Band.

Tim Harden

Woodstock Performers First Album

July 1966: Tim Hardin (age 25) released first album, Tim Hardin 1

Jefferson Airplane 

Woodstock Performers First Album

August 15, 1966: Jefferson Airplane released their debut album, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off. The personnel differs from the later “classic” lineup and the music is more folk-rock than the harder psychedelic sound for which the band later became famous. Signe Toly Anderson was the female vocalist and Skip Spence played drums. Both left the group shortly after the album’s release and were replaced by Grace Slick and Spencer Dryden, respectively. (Jorma Kaukonen (age 25), Paul Kantner (age 25), Jack Casady (age 22), Marty Balin (age 24), Grace Slick (age 26), Spencer Dryden (age 28).

Richie Havens

Woodstock Performers First Album

Late 1966: Richie Havens (25) released his first album: Mixed Bag

Woodstock Performers First Album

1967

Grateful Dead

March 17, 1967: the Grateful Dead released their first album: Grateful Dead. Jerry Garica (25), Bob Weir (19),  Pigpen (21), Phil Lesh (27), and Bill Kreutzmann (21).

Country Joe and the Fish

April 1967: Country Joe (25) and the Fish released first album, Electric Music for the Mind and Body.

Jimi Hendrix Experience

May 12, 1967: the first Jimi Hendrix Experience album, Are You Experienced, released in the UK. Jimi Hendrix (24), Mitch Mitchell, (19), and Noel Redding (21) .

Canned Heat

July 1967: Canned Heat released first album, Canned Heat. The three members who played Woodstock were Bob “The Bear” Hite, age 24, Alan Wilson, age 24, and Larry Taylor,  age 24)

Big Brother and the Holding Company

August 1967: Big Brother and the Holding Company released first album with Janis Joplin (23).  The other band members, none of whom played at Woodstock, were: Sam Andrew, James Gurley, Peter Albin, and Dave Getz.

Arlo Guthrie

September 1967: Arlo Guthrie (20) released first album, Alice’s Restaurant.

Sly and the Family Stone

October 1967: Sly and the Family Stone released first album, A Whole New Thing. Sly Stone (25), Freddie Stone (20),  Larry Graham (19), Cynthia Robinson (21), Jerry Martini (25), and Greg Errico (19).

Ten Years After

October 27, 1967: Ten Years After released its first album, Ten Years After. Alvin Lee (22), Chick Churchill (21), Leo Lyons (23), and Ric Lee (22).

Johnny Winter

Woodstock Performers First Album

1968: Johnny Winter (age 22) released first album, The Progressive Blues Experiment with John Turner (24) and Tommy Shannon (22).

Woodstock Performers First Album

1968

Blood, Sweat, & Tears

February 21, 1968: Blood, Sweat, & Tears released its first album, Child is Father to the Man. The album personnel who also played at Woodstock were: Bobby Colomby (23), Jim Fielder (20), Dick Halligan (24), Steve Katz (22), and Fred Lipsius (24).

The Band

July 1, 1968: The Band released its first album, Music From Big Pink. Rick Danko, age 26; Robbie Robertson, age 25; Levon Helm, age 28; Richard Manuel, age 25; Garth Hudson, age 31.

Creedence Clearwater Revival

Woodstock Performers First Album

July 5, 1968: Creedence Clearwater Revival released first album, Creedence Clearwater Revival. John Fogerty (23), Doug Clifford (23), Stu Cook 23), and Tom Fogerty (26)

Melanie

November 1968: Melanie (age 21) released her first album, Born to Be.

Sweetwater

1968: Sweetwater released its first album entitled Sweetwater. Birth dates for the band members are not available. They were: Nansi Nevins, Frank Herrera, August Burns, Elpidio Cobian, Alan Malarowitz, Albert Moore, and Alex Del Zoppo.

Bert Sommer

Woodstock Performers First Album

1968: Bert Sommer (age 18) released his first album, The Road to Travel. It was produced by Artie Kornfeld. Sommer was a schoolmate of Leslie West. None of the several other musicians on the album played at Woodstock.

Woodstock Performers First Album

1969

Keef Hartley Band

1969: Keef Hartley Band (Keef Hartley age 25 whose career began as the replacement for Ringo Starr as drummer for Rory Storm and the Hurricane) released first album, Halfbreed. The other album personnel who also played at Woodstock were: Miller Anderson (24), Gary Thain (21), and Henry Lowther (27).

Joe Cocker

April 23, 1969: Joe Cocker (age 24) released first album, With a Little Help from My Friends. The only other album personnel who also played at Woodstock were: Henry McCullough (25) and Chris Stainton (25).

Crosby, Stills, & Nash

Woodstock Performers First Album

May 29, 1969: Crosby, Stills, & Nash released first album.  (David Crosby age 28; Stephen Stills age 24; Graham Nash, age 27)

Santana

Woodstock Performers First Album

August 30, 1969: Santana  released its first album, Santana. Carlos Santana (22), Gregg Rolie (22), David Brown (22), Michael Shrieve (20), Michael Carabello (21), and José “Chepito” Areas (23).

Sha Na Na

1969: Sha Na Na released its first album, Rock and Roll Is Here to Stay! Since it was released after Woodstock, I will give the personnel who performed at Woodstock (most birth dates are unknown): Alan Cooper (?), Bruce Clark (?), Dave Garrett (?), Donny York (?), Elliot Cahn (?),  Jocko Marcellino (29?),  Joe Witkin (?), Richard Joffe (?), Rob Leonard (?),  Scott Powell (21), Dennis Greene (20),  and Henry Gross (18).

Woodstock Performers First Album

1970

Quill

January 1970: the band Quill released album: Quill. The personnel: Dan Cole (?), Jon Cole (?), Norman Rogers (?), Phil Thayer (?), and Roger North (?).

John Sebastian

January 19, 1970: John Sebastian (25) released his first solo album, John B Sebastian. He had, of course, had great success with the band Lovin’ Spoonful. Sebastian was 21 when that band released the ablum, Do You Believe In Magic.

Mountain

Woodstock Performers First Album

March 7, 1970: Mountain released its first album, Climbing! [also known as Mountain Climbing!] The album personnel who had played at Woodstock were: Leslie West (24),  Felix Pappalardi (30),  and Steve Knight (34).

Woodstock Performers First Album
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Unknown Legend Peter Walker

Unknown Legend Peter Walker

Walker’s “Improv in A-minor” live in the Bronson Caves Griffith Park, LA

When my son recommended that I listen to Karen Dalton, I didn’t realize how much I’d like her and (again) be disappointed with myself that I hadn’t known of her already.

As often happens, the “discovery” of one thing leads to another and Dalton led to Peter Walker, someone who was also part of the folk revival of the early 1960s.

With Peter Walker the wonderful thing is, beside his own peripatetic story, is how many other well-known 60s musicians he crossed paths with.

This little blog post isn’t meant to be a biography, but merely an overview. I will include several links in this piece if you’re interested in more.

Unknown Legend Peter Walker

Boston > San Francisco

Walker was born in Boston in 1938 into a musical family. His father played folk guitar, his mother a classical pianist. He didn’t play guitar in public until 1959, when he traveled to San Francisco.

Unknown Legend Peter Walker

Intersections

Here is an example of one of those musical intersections. In San Francisco, he taught some guitar to Jim Gurley who later became guitarist with Big Brother and the Holding Company.”

And it was there that Walker first heard Ravi Shankar play and became fascinated with raga.

Walker later he studied with Ravi Shankar (alongside George Harrison and Donovan–more intersections) and with sarad virtuoso Ali Akbar Khah.

Unknown Legend Peter Walker

Flamenco

A musician with his ears open to all sounds, Walker “discovered” flamenco. He traveled to Spain to learn. He found that the Indian raga and the flamenco had similarities.

In a Jennifer Kelly interview for the Dusted Features site, Walker said,  In both raga and flamenco, the music creates an effect. If you play a predetermined series of notes, it will have a predetermined effect. So it was the process of creating that effect that fascinated me,” he says. “You get a drone, you get a wall of sound going, and then you play melodies into it, which are entertaining or rhythmically changing.

Islam’s influence in both places also connects the styles.  Muslim conquerors in Delhi sent musician captives back to their outposts in Granada.

Unknown Legend Peter Walker

Timothy Leary

Another intersection was Timothy Leary.  In 1965, Timothy Leary felt that Walker’s music would dovetail nicely with the LSD experience and Walker became the music director at a the estate Leary rented in Millbrook, NY.

The site was 2,500 acres and included a 64-room Bavarian baroque mansion and gatehouse that wealthy William “Billy” Mellon Hitchcock (benefiting from a trust fund that in 1963 was giving him $15,000 a week) had bought for $500,000

Unknown Legend Peter Walker

Rainy Day Raga

Unknown Legend Peter Walker

Vanguard released Walker’s first album, Rainy Day Raga, in 1966.

Matthew Greenwald’s AllMusic review states, “Exploring a tonal range that would be best described as the perfect L.S.D. soundtrack, this album is a gentle, evocative affair, and often recalls some of the passages that Stephen Stills would use for “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” among others. Aided by Dylan session veteran Bruce Langhorn on percussion (and by others as well), this is a fine document of a space in time when ragas were just becoming popular in Western music. In a certain way, Walker was a visionary, and this album shows it.”

Second Poem to Karmela or Gypsies Are Important album came out in 1968.

Unknown Legend Peter Walker

FBI

As is too often the case, activists come under the undercover scrutiny of government agencies. In the aftermath of the Robert Kennedy assassination, Walker had volunteered to be the caretaker of the White House photo collection that that Jacques Lowe had done for the Kennedy family. At the same time, Walker was involved in the “Americans for Biafra Relief” committee formed by Ted Kennedy.

At one point, an overly ambitious agent looking to score some points planted drugs in the loft. Luckily, Walker found them (and flushed them) before anyone else did and Walker’s friendly connections vouched for his integrity when the planted accused Walker of the drug stash anyway.

Unknown Legend Peter Walker

William Kunstler

Unknown Legend Peter Walker

In 1970, Walker was living (insert briefly again) in Detroit where he lived at the Garwood Mansion. He met radical lawyer William Kunstler who was in town to speak about in injustices of the American justice system, particularly as it related to the then-recently imprisoned John Sinclair who had been given a 10-year sentence for giving an undercover agent 2 joints.  (At the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, Abbie Hoffman had famously bolted on stage during the Who’s set in an attempt to rouse the crowd to Sinclair’s cause.)

In 2013, Delmore Recording Society released Has Anybody Seen Our Freedoms?, a album Walker had recorded in 1969, but “lost” for decades. Kunstler and Walker appear together on the album cover in a picture taken at Garwood Mansion.

Unknown Legend Peter Walker

Family

Unknown Legend Peter Walker

Getting out of the counter-cultural limelight, Walker moved to Woodstock, NY. He married and began to raise a family. He left the traveling performance scene behind, only playing locally, particularly Ron Merians’s the Joyous Lake.

A “few” others played at the Joyous Lake as well…

Walker did not leave the learning scene, particularly the flamenco.

Jennifer Kelly again quoted Walker: So much of music is an expression of feeling. You tell a story with the music but you really, unless it’s an empty character study, it’s more about your feelings. Some guy in Mexico told me, ‘You make me feel the way you do when you play.’ Well, that’s part of the magic of it. That’s what makes it so worthy of pursuit, to be able to do that.

And traveling didn’t end. He designed campers for pick up trucks and with one drove through out the country and often into Mexico.

Using those same mechanical skills, at another point, he lived in Aspen, Colorado in charge of a taxi fleet.

When his children were school age, he moved to NYC. He also went to school and earned a paralegal certificate.

He went to Spain to continue to improve his guitar skills.

Unknown Legend Peter Walker

2008

Fortunately for Walker, he was still alive forty years after his second album and Tompkins Square Records released his third album, Echo of My Soul. So many other “unknown” master guitarists like John Fahey and Robbie Basho had died.

Pat Sullivan’s AllMusic review said that the album “… represents a break with the eastern influences of Walker’s ‘60’s output and heralds his latest obsession with flamenco. With the same dedication he brought to earlier collaborations with Ravi Shankar, the New Yorker has immersed himself in the Spanish guitar idiom and has come to be accepted by its vanguard musicians. This new-found mastery resonates throughout ECHOES OF MY SOUL, a beautifully played opus perfect for any fan of flamenco or avant acoustic music.”

Unknown Legend Peter Walker

Karen Dalton/2015

As I mentioned at the top of this entry, it was Karen Dalton’s story that led me to Peter Walker. They had met in Greenwich Village. Dalton’s story is a sad one.  One that ended with her dying of AIDS, but being cared for by Peter Walker at his Woodstock, NY home in  1993.

Dalton gave Walker intellectual property rights, among which was Dalton’s books of lyrics, which was also stuffed with illustrations. It took a long time before her writings found voices, but in 2015 Tompkins Square Records released Remembering Mountains. On it several songwriters put Dalton’s haunting words to music.

Walker wrote the liner notes.

Unknown Legend Peter Walker

Catastrophe

On October 22, 2018 fire destroyed Walker’s home, the Ark. Despite trying to rescue his dog (and nearly dying in the attempt), the dog died. The fire destroyed all his belongings including guitars and memorabilia.

Investigators determined an overturned candle caused the fire.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to assist Walker.

Unknown Legend Peter Walker
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Mid 20th Century News Music

Mid 20th Century News Music

Mid 20th Century News Music

This is the second post on 20th century songs that I’ve come to call “News Music.” As the name hopefully implies, the songs’ intent  was to implicitly or explicitly comment upon, challenge, or simply point out a social problem.

These examples are from 1941 up to the more famous 1960s.

“Freedom’s Road”

In 1942…Langston Hughes wrote the lyrics, Emerson Harper wrote the music, and Josh White sang “Freedom’s Road” in which they attempted to link the war abroad to the struggle for racial justice at home. (next BH, see Jan 17)

Mid 20th Century News Music

This Land Is Your Land

In 1944…Woody Guthrie wrote the lyrics to This Land Is Your Land (initially titled God Blessed America for Me) in 1940, but not record it until 1944. It was Guthrie’s parody of Irving Berlin’s God Bless America (1938), a song Guthrie felt didn’t express the right sentiment. Guthrie stated: “I am out to sing songs that will prove to you that this is your world…that make you take pride in yourself and your work. And the songs that I sing are made up for the most part by all sorts of folks just about like you.”

Mid 20th Century News Music

The House I Live In

Abel Meeropol, writer of “Strange Fruit,” was an active member of the American Communist Party. [In 1953, he and his wife would adopt Michael and Robert Rosenberg, the sons of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg who were executed in 1953.]

Meeropol taught at the De Witt Clinton High School in the Bronx for 27 years, but continued to write songs, including Frank Sinatra’s 1945 hit, The House I Live In with Earl Robinson.

The House I Live In” was a 1945 short film written by Albert Maltz and made by producer Frank Ross and Frank Sinatra (as an actor) to oppose anti-Semitism and prejudice at the end of World War II.

It received a special Academy Award in 1946.

Mid 20th Century News Music

People’s Songs

December 31, 1945: Pete Seeger wrote in the People’s Songs newsletter No. 1: “The people are on the march and must have songs to sing. Now in 1946, the truth must reassert itself in many singing voices. There are thousands of unions, people’s organizations, singers and choruses who would gladly use more songs. There are many songwriters, amateur and professional, who are writing these songs. It is clear that there must be an organization to make and send songs of labor and the American people through the land. To do this job we formed People’s Songs, INC. We invite you to join us.”

Mid 20th Century News Music

I Wonder When I’ll Be Called A Man

In 1946…even though serving in World War I, Big Bill Broonzy (1903 – 1958) realized his country was not yet ready to treat him equally. He wrote, “I Wonder When I’ll Be Called A Man.”

Mid 20th Century News Music

We Shall Overcome

In 1947…Zilphia Horton (1910 – 1956) was music director of the Highlander Folk School of Monteagle, Tennessee, an adult education school that trained union organizers and a place committed to democratic principles. Seeger learned “We Shall Overcome.”  there. Seeger included it in a People’s Songs booklet. Martin Luther King, Jr used the phrase in several of his speeches. (see December 10, 1964)

By the mid-1950s, the support of unions and pro-socialistic ideals had so fallen from public disfavor that artists like Seeger looked for another cause to support and effect changes. They found that cause in the civil rights movement.

Mid 20th Century News Music

Finian’s Rainbow

January 10, 1947: Finian’s Rainbow opened on Broadway. Among its songs was “When the Idle Poor Become the Idle Rich” written by Yip Harburg.

Mid 20th Century News Music

Talking Atom (Old Man Atom)

In 1948…Pete Seeger recorded the 1945 Vern Partlow song “Talking Atom (Old Man Atom)” which expressed a fear of atomic energy and its possible consequences based.

Mid 20th Century News Music

Deportees

In 1948: Woody Guthrie  wrote the words to “Deportees” or “Plane Wreck At Los Gatos” in response to an airplane crash which resulted in the deaths of 32 people: 4 Americans and 28 migrant farm workers who were being deported to Mexico from California. The news media reference to the workers as simply deportees, never mentioning their names, outraged Guthrie. The Mexican victims were placed in a mass grave at Holy Cross Cemetery in Fresno, California. There were 27 men and one woman. Only 12 of the victims were ever identified. In deteriorating health due to Huntington’s Disease, it is considered Guthrie’s last great song. In 1958 Martin Hoffman added a melody to Guthrie’s words.

Mid 20th Century News Music

If I Had a Hammer

In 1949: Pete Seeger wrote and the re-assembled Weavers sang “If I Had a Hammer.” Pete Seeger and Lee Hayes first sang it in New York City at a testimonial dinner for the leaders of the Communist Party of the United States, who were then on trial in federal court. In 1962 Peter, Paul, and Mary’s version became a top ten hit.

During the 1950s, protest was coupled with Communism and suppressed particularly during the McCarthy hearings which investigated the purported infiltration of Communism into all areas of American life. Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-Wisconsin) held these investigations from 1953 to 1954. In 2003, his hearings’ transcripts were released. At that time Carl Levin (Chairman) and Susan Collins (Ranking Member on the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations), wrote in their Preface to the release of the investigation’s transcripts:

The power to investigate ranks among the U.S. Senate’s highest responsibilities. As James Madison reasoned in The Federalist Papers: ‘‘If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels governed men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: You must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place, oblige it to control itself.’’ It is precisely for the purposes of government controlling itself that Congress investigates.

They continued: The phase of the Subcommittee’s history from 1953 to 1954, when it was chaired by Joseph McCarthy, however, is remembered differently. Senator McCarthy’s zeal to uncover subversion and espionage led to disturbing excesses. His browbeating tactics destroyed careers of people who were not involved in the infiltration of our government. His freewheeling style caused both the Senate and the Subcommittee to revise the rules governing future investigations, and prompted the courts to act to protect the Constitutional rights of witnesses at Congressional hearings. Senator McCarthy’s excesses culminated in the televised Army-McCarthy hearings of 1954, following which the Senate voted overwhelmingly for his censure… These hearings are a part of our national past that we can neither afford to forget nor permit to reoccur.

Mid 20th Century News Music

Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream

In July 1951: folk-music magazine “Sing Out!” published Ed McCurdy’s song, “Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream.” McCurdy had written the song in 1950 and Pete Seeger first recorded it on his 1956 album “Love Songs for Friends and Foes”

It has been recorded in seventy-six languages (including covers by The Weavers in 1960, the Chad Mitchell Trio in 1962, Simon & Garfunkel in 1964, Cornelis Vreeswijk in 1964 (in Swedish), Hannes Wader in 1979 (in German), Johnny Cash in 2002, Garth Brooks in 2005, Serena Ryder in 2006, and Charles Lloyd in 2016.

Mid 20th Century News Music

Get That Communist, Joe

In 1954: the Kavaliers sang “Get That Communist, Joe” in which they poked fun at McCarthy’s passion to find Communists everywhere.

Mid 20th Century News Music

Sixteen Tons

In 1955: Tennessee Ernie Ford released “Sixteen Tons,”  a song about the hardships of coal mining. The song’s author is generally credited to Merle Travis who first recorded it in 1946.

Mid 20th Century News Music

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

In 1956: Alice Wine wrote lyrics called “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize” based on “Old Plow,” a traditional song. It is another example of a musician applying a new meaning to an old song.

Mid 20th Century News Music

Oh Freedom

In 1956: Odetta recorded a Civil War era song called Oh Freedom. The song would become one of the many songs that civil rights activists sang during the 1960s.

Mid 20th Century News Music

Tom Dooley

November 17, 1958: the Kingston Trio’s “Tom Dooley” hit #1 on the Billboard pop chart. While not a protest song, protest folk probably owed its commercial success to the Kingston Trio, three guys in crew cuts and candy-striped shirts who honed their act not in Greenwich Village cafes, but in the fraternities and sororities of Stanford University in the mid-1950s. Without the enormous profits that the Trio’s music generated for Capitol Records, it is unlikely that major-label companies would have given recording contracts to those who would challenge the status quo in the decade to come. Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, for instance, may have owed their musical and political development to forerunners like Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, but they probably owed their commercial viability to the Kingston Trio.

Mid 20th Century News Music
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