Tag Archives: Music et al

101st Airborne Jimi Hendrix Discharged

101st Airborne Jimi Hendrix Discharged

The military is not for everyone and thinking about the incredible places Jimi Hendrix took playing guitar, it is easy realize that Jimi was one of those ill-suited people.

Jimi’s music was never as political as other musicians of his time, though many call his iconic rendition of the  Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock a counter-cultural anthem.

True. And his 1970 “Machine Gun” is an equally powerful alternate perspective of the times.

Becoming Jimi Hendrix

In 2010, DaCapo Press published Becoming Jimi Hendrix: From Southern Crossroads to Psychedelic London, the Untold Story of a Musical Genius by Steven Roby and Brad Schreiber. [NYT review]

The musical part of Jimi Hendrix’s sadly short life is well known, but less known is his path to fame, particularly his time in the military.

This post uses information gathered from Roby and Schreiber’s book.

101st Airborne Jimi Hendrix Discharged

Guitar fascination

Growing up in a disruptive, disheveled,  and often overwhelming life, the child Jimi had found solace with a broom stick that was his make-believe guitar.

Later he made a guitar out of a cigar box.

Jimi’s first actual instrument was a broken worn down one-stringed ukulele his recalcitrant  father had found.

Then a friend of his father cajoled a still stubborn Al Hendrix to buy a used acoustic guitar for $5.

Eventually Jim was able to purchase an electric guitar and played in various bands. He, like many musicians before him, faced the dilemma of playing popular covers or playing his own compositions.

101st Airborne Jimi Hendrix Discharged

The law steps in

May 2, 1961:  police stopped a car with four black kids in it. Among them was  18-year-old high school dropout Jimi. The car was stolen. Jimi said he didn’t know that. Police released him to his father.

May 5, 1961:  similar arrest. Jimi locked up for 7 days.

On May 16, 1961, at his hearing, Jimi accepted the judge’s plea bargain: a suspended 2-year sentence in exchange for enlisting in the military.

May 29, 1961: looking forward to a change, Jimi departed Seattle on a southbound train toward Fort Ord, near Monterey, California for eight weeks of basic training. He decided he wanted to earn the 101st Division Screaming Eagle patch.

101st Airborne Jimi Hendrix Discharged

Fort Campbell

November 8, 1961: having gotten through Basic, Jimi arrived at Fort Campbell in Kentucky.

101st Airborne Jimi Hendrix Discharged

Billy Cox

Jimi wrote to Betty Morgan, his girlfriend and apparent fiance, requesting she send his Danelectro guitar: his true love and what kept him from developing any camaraderie with his fellow soldiers .

Except one.

Billy Cox who heard Jimi playing and was instantly enthralled. Billy knew how to play bass. Together they began to play local gigs–still in the Army Airborne.

Billy and Jimi’s constant search for time to play and practice obviously interfered with their military obligations. Despite cleverly designed maneuvers they used to evade military duties,  late night gigs often meant sleeping on the job.

In January 1962, Jimi and Billy formed the King Kasuals. Gary Ferguson (drums) and occasionally Major Charles Washington on Sax. The played at service clubs and occasionally in Clarksville, Tennessee.

101st Airborne Jimi Hendrix Discharged

GED & some military successes

101st Airborne Jimi Hendrix Discharged

January 11, 1962: a proud, but increasingly homesick Jimi received his 101st Division Screaming Eagle patch.

Because he’d dropped out of high school, Jimi had to take the General Equivalency Diploma exams. He began on the 11th.

January 12: Jimi took the second round of GED.

January 15: the third round.

January 16: the fourth round.

January 22: the fifth and final round of the GED.

January 30: Hendrix is promoted to private first class.

February 7: Jimi has a successful parachute jump.

101st Airborne Jimi Hendrix Discharged

Military reversals

February 16, 1962: Captain Gilbert Batchman requested an evaluation of Hendrix. Part of that report read that, “Individual is unable to conform to military rules and regulations.”

The warning that the Army might discharge him did not worry Hendrix.

March 22:  another successful parachute jump.

March 31: Jimi missed bed check after a late night gig. Rank reduced to general private status. His excuse was: “delay due to payday activities and weekend.

April 14: another late gig, another missed bed check. Restricted for 14 days from April 16 to 29.

May 22: a mental hygiene consultation done. Report included that Hendrix “There are no disqualifying mental defects sufficient to warrant disposition through medical channels…”

May 23: Hendrix missed bed-check. Again restricted. May 24 – June 6. That same day, Pvt. James Mattox, a fellow soldier, filed a report on Hendrix alleging dereliction of duties.

May 24: Jimi’s platoon Sgt James C Speers filed a report which included: He has no interest whatsoever in the Army.

May 28: Sgt Louis Hoekstra filed a statement against Hendrix for missing bed check and being obsessed with his guitar.

May 31: Capt. John Halbert wrote in a report that, “The individual’s behavior problems are not amendable to hospitalization and or counseling. Unit punishment has no effect…”

101st Airborne Jimi Hendrix Discharged

Discharged

June 1: supply officer Lyndon Williams filed a report against Hendrix for lack of interest and inability to concentrate.

June 2: Sgt William Bowman filed a report against Hendrix for sleeping on duty, masturbating in the latrine, and owning money for a laundry bill.

June 27: Jimi received his general discharge certificate. The reason given was “unsuitability–under honorable conditions.”

June 29: the honorable discharge approved.

101st Airborne Jimi Hendrix Discharged

Gone

July 2: Jimi left Fort Campbell with $400 in his pocket. He decided to go to Clarksville, TN and visit the Pink Poodle, a place he and Billy Cox had played.

He bought drinks for himself and others and enjoyed himself.  He rented a room nearby and started to work odd jobs.

October 18: Billy Cox was discharged and joined Hendrix in Clarksville.

November 13: Hendrix meets guitarist Larry Lee.

101st Airborne Jimi Hendrix Discharged

2,470

101st Airborne Jimi Hendrix Discharged

2,470 days later Hendrix, Cox, and Lee played together at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair.

101st Airborne Jimi Hendrix Discharged
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Grateful Dead Barton Hall Cornell 1977

Grateful Dead Barton Hall Cornell 1977

Grateful Dead Barton Hall Cornell 1977

Getting the Dead

While this blog typically orbits around the Sun of the 60s, obviously there is much noteworthy beyond that famous decade centuries before and decades after.

Full disclosure:  in the beginning, I liked the Dead, but didn’t get the Dead. I bought  Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty.  All the songs seemed accessible.

Grateful Dead Barton Hall Cornell 1977

Woodstock

My first opportunity to see the Dead was in 1969 at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. If Barton Hall 1977 is considered an apogee of live Dead, then many think of Woodstock as a nadir.

I could not tell you as I fell asleep for the Woodstock Dead. My excuse is that I’d gotten up around 6 AM Friday, went to my summer construction job, got home, drove to Monticello, slept a few hours in my friend’s car, hiked 8 miles, found no food, and simply fell asleep.

Grateful Dead Barton Hall Cornell 1977

East Rutherford

In 1991 the Dead were playing at Giant Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. Our 15-year-old son wanted to go. So his 41-year-old parents went to their first Dead concert. Interesting and good, but no conversions.

Grateful Dead Barton Hall Cornell 1977

Internet Archives

Around 2004, George, my brother-in-law and early-60s Deadhead aficionado, told me about the Internet Archive site: free legal downloads of live music. He’d gotten a lot of Dead from there.

By the way, as of May 2018, the Grateful Dead live recordings at the IA site have been viewed nearly 131 million times!

Anyway, free has always been an attractive word and I started to listen.

Grateful Dead Barton Hall Cornell 1977

Epiphany

I finally got it. The Dead did albums contractually. The Dead did shows enthusiastically. The show was the thing. The whole show. And while there may be great songs within any one show, the way the Dead played with each song (not just played each song) was where the anticipation and wonder emanated from.

Grateful Dead Barton Hall Cornell 1977

In for a penny...

At first I selected shows based on comments and ratings by listeners. I learned the differences between AUD, SBD, BBD, and Matrix. I learned that certain audience tapers like Jerry Moore and Charlie Miller were considered gold and that the goddess Betty Cantor’s soundboard recordings were the best.

Grateful Dead Barton Hall Cornell 1977

Grateful Dead Barton Hall Cornell 1977

1977

I gradually discovered the esteem that many Deadheads held 1977 and that within that revered year, May was held high and within that sacrosanct month, May 8 was held highest.

Jay Mabrey, Cornell class of ’77,
designed this poster
for the show.
Grateful Dead Barton Hall Cornell 1977

Sauseach their own

I do love 1977 and May 8 certainly is a great show. The greatest? I’m not sure how to make that decision.

Having said that, in 2011 the  National Recording Preservation Board included the concert in its National Recording Registry as part of its mission to  demonstrate the range and diversity of American recorded sound heritage in order to increase preservation awareness.”

Grateful Dead Barton Hall Cornell 1977

Jerry Moore

It was a cassette recording by Jerry Moore that first circulated. Keep in mind, this was well before the internet era when word of mouth and who you knew meant so much in discovery.  Copied and recopied, the show began its journey to the top.

Grateful Dead Barton Hall Cornell 1977

Betty Cantor

Grateful Dead Barton Hall Cornell 1977

Betty Cantor was one of the Dead’s recorders and held many of her reel-to-reel tapes until the mid-1980s when they were sold at an auction.  May 8, 1977 was among them.  Eureka!

Grateful Dead Barton Hall Cornell 1977

Millions

Grateful Dead Barton Hall Cornell 1977

How many different recordings of Barton Hall are available? Deadlists shows the following:

Grateful Dead Barton Hall Cornell 1977

How many times has the show been downloaded? Blair Jackson’s Golden Road blog states, “ I added up the numbers beside each version: 928,006 as of May 23 ! I’m guessing that adding in all the copies that were made (tape and digital) in the years when the Grateful Dead was actually around, and when collecting was at its apex, the number could easily reach 2 million. Incredible for a so-called bootleg recording!

Grateful Dead Barton Hall Cornell 1977

664,000 downloads

Fans have downloaded Rob Eaton’s creation nearly 664,000 times. I write creation because I’ve copied and pasted his notes below:

Freshly remastered Betty Board with AUD splices, by Rob Eaton;

Betty Board Portion — Master 7″ Nagra reels 1/2 track @ 7.5ips>Sony PCM 501. Playback on Sony PCM 701>DAT (Digital Transfer) — Rob Eaton DBX Decoding (Spring ’99) Playback on Panasonic 4100 DAT>DB 924 D/A>Dolby 361’s w/dbx K9-22 Cards>DB 124 A/D>Neve Capricorn (Digital mixing console)>DB 300S>Panasonic 4100 DAT>DAT>Digi Coax Cable>Tascam CD-RW 700>CDR (x1)>SHN (Rob Eaton remaster)

Audience Portion — Steve Maizner’s Sony ECM-990>Sony TC-152 aud master>First Gen Reel>played directly to hard drive. The excellent aud splices were normalized and patched using ProTools by Karen Hicks

Grateful Dead Barton Hall Cornell 1977

Now it’s your turn

See what I mean.

I suggest you open this Pandora’s box of golden eggs and enhance your life.

Rob Eaton’s recording.

Grateful Dead Barton Hall Cornell 1977

 

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Early 20th Century News Music

Early 20th Century News Music

Early 20th Century News Music

I once did a project on what is usually called protest music of the 1960s. What I quickly discovered was that protest music is not limited to the 1960s (as much as we Boomers would like to think it is since we “invented” it–insert funny face emoji).

Eventually, I also realized that protest music comes in a variety of approaches. The 1960s protest music was typically obvious in its approach: Masters of War, I Ain’t a’Marchin’ Anymore, Eve of Destruction, et cetera.

Earlier versions were equally powerful in their own way and I eventually settled on the term “News Music” to describe the genre. I’m not sure whether it is be best description, but one of the things that the songs and songwriters seemed to share was a reaction to current conditions. In other words, they were reacting to a current situation far more often than a past occurrence. Thus “News Music.”

Here are some examples of what are early 20th century news music:

Early 20th Century News Music

Harry Dixon

Around 1920:  Harry Dixon (1895 – 1965) wrote “This Little Light of Mine” as a gospel song. It became a common one sung during the civil rights gathering of the 1950s and 1960s. It continues to be a song of hope today. (BH, see January 4, 1920)

Early 20th Century News Music

Fats Waller

Early 20th Century News Music

In 1929: composed by Fats Waller with lyrics by Harry Brooks and Andy Razaf, Edith Wilson (1896 – 1981) sang “(What Did I Do to Be So) Black and Blue.”. It is a protest song that did not speak of how something should change so much as it spoke of what life was like for those who suffered inequities.

Early 20th Century News Music

Blind Alfred Reed

Early 20th Century News Music

In 1929: Blind Alfred Reed (1880 – 1956) wrote “How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live?” The song describes life during the Great Depression.

Early 20th Century News Music

Florence Reece

In 1931: Florence Reece (1900-1986) “was a writer and social activist whose song ‘Which Side Are You On?’ became an anthem for the labor movement. Borrowing from the melody of the old hymn ”Lay the Lily Low,” Mrs. Reece wrote the union song…to describe the plight of mine workers who were organizing a strike in Harlan County, Ky. Mrs. Reece’s husband, Sam, who died in 1978, was one of those workers. Pete Seeger, the folk singer, recorded the song in 1941. It has since been used worldwide by groups espousing labor and social issues.” New York Times Obituaries, August 6, 1986. (Labor, see March 3; Feminism, see Dec 10)

Early 20th Century News Music

Brother Can You Spare a Dime

In 1931:  “Brother Can You Spare a Dime” by lyricist E. Y. “Yip” Harburg and composer Jay Gorney., the song asked why the men who built the nation – built the railroads, built the skyscrapers – who fought in the war (World War I), who tilled the earth, who did what their nation asked of them should, now that the work is done and their labor no longer necessary, find themselves abandoned, in bread lines.

Harburg believed that “songs are an anodyne against tyranny and terror and that the artist has historically always been on the side of humanity.” As a committed socialist, he spent three years in Uruguay to avoid being involved in WWI, as he felt that capitalism was responsible for the destruction of the human spirit, and he refused to fight its wars. A longtime friend of Ira Gershwin, Harburg started writing lyrics after he lost his business in the Crash of 1929.

Early 20th Century News Music

Jimmie Rodgers

In 1932: Jimmie Rodgers (1897 – 1933) was born in Meridian, Mississippi worked on the railroad as his father did but at the age of 27 contracted tuberculosis and had to quit. He loved entertaining and eventually found a job singing on WWNC radio, Asheville, North Carolina (April 18, 1927). Later he began recording his songs. The tuberculosis worsened and he died in 1933 while recording songs in New York. In 1932 he recorded “Hobo’s Meditation.”

Early 20th Century News Music

Lead Belly

in 1938: Lead Belly (born Huddie William Ledbetter) (1888 – 1949) sang about his visit to Washington, DC with his wife and their treatment while in the nation’s capitol in his song, “Bourgeois Blues.” (BH, see Nov 22)

Early 20th Century News Music

Woody Guthrie

“Do Re Mi”

In 1939: During the Great Depression, Woody Guthrie (1912-1967) wrote many songs reflecting the plight of farmers and migrant workers caught between the Dust Bowl drought and farm foreclosure. One of the best known of these songs is his  “Do Re Mi.”

Tom Joad

In 1940: Woody Guthrie wrote Tom Joad, a song whose character is based on John Steinbeck’s character in The Grapes of Wrath. After hearing it, Steinbeck reportedly said, “ That f****** little b******! In 17 verses he got the entire story of a thing that took me two years to write.” * (see Feb 23)

Early 20th Century News Music
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