Tag Archives: Woodstock Birthdays

Bill Hanley Soundman Extraordinaire

Bill Hanley Soundman Extraordinaire

Who is this guy?

Early Bill

Bill Hanley was born in Medford, MA on March 4, 1937.  

In 1937 radio still ruled the airwaves. Like some other young people of his time, listening to the radio evolved into looking inside and discovering the world of electronics.

During the early 60s, a childhood friend of mine showed me how easily we could hook up an extra speaker or two to my simple record player to enhance the sound. Such “simple” reconstruction can lead to the love of sound.

Such was the case with Bill Hanley and his brother Terry.

Bill Hanley Soundman Extraordinaire

Outdoor sound

Keep in mind that for most outdoor sound at this time, the phrase was PA, as in “public address.” That is, the group or individual that needed outdoor sound concentrated on sending the speaker’s voice out into the audience.

The Hanley brothers loved good sound and their love coincided with a time of increased outdoor music events and musicians needed more than simply sending the singer’s voice, musicians needed their instruments to be heard as well.

Bill Hanley Soundman Extraordinaire

Hanley Sound

Bill Hanley Soundman Extraordinaire

In 1957 Bill Hanley began a relationship with the Newport Jazz Festival and its organizer, George Wein.  Remembering that difference between what a PA can do versus what a good “sound system” can do, think about how important quality sound production would be to jazz musicians.

Shortly after that Bill and Terry Hanley began Hanley Sound Inc, at 430 Salem St. in Medford, MA.

Bill Hanley Soundman Extraordinaire

Good timing

Bill Hanley Soundman Extraordinaire

In 1964 Baby Boomers experienced Beatlemania and the British Invasion. Like all stories, being in the right place or knowing to be in the right place at the right time can make all the difference.

In 1966 Hanley Sound was working with The Ramains, a Boston band (“the greatest band you never heard of”) and while the Remains were not a household name outside of Boston, they were good enough to land quite a gig: the 1966 Beatle tour.

Bill Hanley Soundman Extraordinaire

Epstein meets Hanley 

On that tour Brian Epstein recognized the quality that Hanley Sound could produce and used them.  Next came the Beach Boys. And by the end of the 60s, Hanley sound was doing outdoor concert after outdoor concert.

The most famous one was the Woodstock Music and Art Fair.

Bill Hanley Soundman Extraordinaire

Last Seat In the House

Bill Hanley continued his golden touch on sound. One person in particular who has tried to get the recognition for Bill Hanley that he so deserves is a John Kane.  John has been working on a film about Hanley called “Last Seat In the House.” 

The title reflects the goal that Hanley Sound always aimed at: that the people in the last row could hear the music as well as anyone seated anywhere else.

Bill Hanley Soundman Extraordinaire
Here are some words from John Kane:

I am a post grad doctoral student and for the past three years I have been researching the life/career of pioneer sound engineer Bill Hanley. Since the beginning of this research, until now my discoveries have been overwhelming.

Collectively, sound reinforcement is an area of technology that is often overlooked. It is my hope that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame acknowledges, considers, and/or inducts Bill Hanley and his pioneering sound company into their institution. If the RRHF leadership were to peel away the layers of popular music as we know it today, they would surely realize that the area of “sound” owes much to Hanley’s pioneering work. An acknowledgment like this would bring light and significance to an era innovation where quality sound in popular music mattered most…the 1960s and 1970s.

In my view (and others) Hanley was a primary force in bringing quality sound to the forefront of the evolving music and political arenas. When primitive public address technology was the “norm” for various events, the influence of Bill Hanley elevated the quality of sound via his innovative methods and application.

Lastly, if you choose to sign this petition would you kindly forward this email to your network of friends and colleagues? This will allow us to reach our rather ambitious goal.

Bill Hanley Soundman Extraordinaire

So…

Help Induct Bill Hanley of Hanley Sound into the
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!
Click here and please sign petition

Bill Hanley Soundman Extraordinaire
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1935 Kenneth Elton Ken Kesey 2001

1935 Kenneth Elton Ken Kesey 2001

The man who discovered the 60s

September 17, 1935 – November 10, 2001

1935 Kenneth Elton Ken Kesey 2001

1935 Kenneth Elton Ken Kesey 2001

The jock

As the counter-cultural view expanded during the 60s, one of the divides between the status quo and those who supported new views was between athletes (who typically sided with the status quo) and, for lack of a better word, nerds. By nerd, here, I mean anyone whose views and preferences put them outside the views and preferences of those around them.

Ken Kesey was a bright and athletic person. Those two characteristics are often and unfairly viewed as opposites of each other. He was a great wrestler in college who won several awards as a wrestler.  He’d even qualified for the Olympics, but an injury prevented his participation.

1935 Kenneth Elton Ken Kesey 2001

The nerd

At the University of Oregon, Kesey majored in speech and communication. He loved literature as well. His preference for Ray Bradbury’s science fiction expanded to include Ernest Hemingway and other modern fiction writers.

1935 Kenneth Elton Ken Kesey 2001

Non-grad grad student

After his graduation from Oregon, Kesey began a non-degree program in creative writing at Stanford University. He lived most of that time on Perry Lane, an enclave of cottages near the university and where many “outsiders” lived. Also living there was Ken Babbs and Larry McMurtry, two people who would play a huge part in Kesey’s future adventures.

Though some faculty members saw Kesey as an emerging talent, others thought him a threat. A typical reaction by the status quo to a non-traditional view.

Despite the intolerance, Kesey continued taking classes.

1935 Kenneth Elton Ken Kesey 2001

Project MKULTRA

Anyone who has taken graduate courses knows that finding a source of cash always hums in the background.

Ken Kesey began to volunteer in a drug testing program. It was the top-secret Project MKULTRA, a federal government program aimed at discovering and developing drugs to use in the Cold War. Psychoactive drugs such as LSK, mescaline, and psilocybin were part of the protocol.

Kesey’s use of these drugs, his job at the Menlo Park Veteran’s Hospital, and creative ability led to his final draft of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, the book that put Kesey’s name on the literary map.

1935 Kenneth Elton Ken Kesey 2001

Further or Furthur

As anyone who has the wonderful tool of Spellcheck knows, our ability to spell correctly runs up against the English language’s failure to pronounce words as spelled.   Roy Sebern learned that when he first spelled the bus’s name. The bus was a 1939 International Harvester school bus.

Kesey had written a second book, Sometimes a Great Notion, and he decided to combine business with pleasure and travel cross-country to New York for the publication party.

Kesey’s crew, known as the Merry Pranksters, fixed the bus with video and audio equipment. On the Road hero Neal Cassady was the driver. The story became part of Tom Wolfe’s famous Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. Not until  2011 were the disjointed audio and filmed pieces put together and released as the documentary Magic Trip. 

1935 Kenneth Elton Ken Kesey 2001

7940 La Honda Road

After the demolition of the Perry Lane cottages, Ken Kesey moved to La Honda. It was there that the so-called Acid Tests emanated.   With LSD as the cocktail, black lights, strobe lights, fluorescent paint, video cameras, tape recorders, and the music of the Grateful Dead combined to make a grand experiment.

1935 Kenneth Elton Ken Kesey 2001

Ken Kesey

1935 Kenneth Elton Ken Kesey 2001

Kesey gradually exited from the public eye.  An Acid Test graduation, a marijuana conviction, a faked suicide, and escape to Mexico, his return to the US and arrest (NYT article), a 5-month imprisonment, and a return to Oregon where he became a family man raising children and writing.

In 1992 doctors diagnosed Kesey with diabetes.  He continued to be an active writer and activist, but mainly from his Oregon home.

In 1998, he had a stroke and in October 2001 Kesey had surgery to remove a tumor. He died of complications on November 10, 2001,  at age 66. [NYT obit]

Ken Kesey

1935 Kenneth Elton Ken Kesey 2001
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Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart

Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart

Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart

born September 11, 1943

Synopsis

The opening description of Mickey Hart from his site reads that he “is a pivotal innovator, chronicler, and influencer in percussion and rhythm. Best known as a drummer in the renowned expedition into the soul and spirit of rock and roll, The Grateful Dead, the multi-Grammy award winner is also an energetic painter, accomplished writer, restless explorer, and an acclaimed expert on the history and mythology of drums. A true original armed with an inventor’s audacious curiosity, Hart boldly seeks to break the rhythm code of the universe and investigate its deepest vibrations.”

Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart

To the beats…

Michael Steven Hartman was born in Brooklyn. Leah, his mother, raised Mickey. Leonard, his father, had left Leah before Mickey was born. Mickey and mom moved to Long Island (NY) soon after his birth. Later he attended Lawrence High School there,  but dropped out as a senior. He went to Europe and later joined the Air Force.

Hart was in the Air Force’s drum and bugle corps.  After the Air Force, Hart became a session drummer in NYC. While there, he received a letter from his father inviting him to work at his music store in San Carlos, California. Mickey went and it was a good thing for him, a great thing for us.

Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart

Rhythm Devils

Of the Grateful Dead members, Mickey first met Bill Kreutzmann who invited Hart to sit in with the band. On September 29, 1967 he did just that for the band’s second set.

Having two drummers was a rarity, but he and Kreutzmann became known as the Rhythm Devils because of their unique interplay.

Leonard Hart became the band’s money manager, but  in March, 1970, he and an estimated $70,000 to $150,000 of band money disappeared. A detective eventually located him and a jury found him guilty of embezzlement. Hart served a six month sentence; he and his son never saw each other again.

Lenny Hart died of natural causes on February 2, 1975. According to Dennis McNally “Mickey went to the funeral home, cleared the room, took out the snakewood sticks that had been his inheritance, played a traditional rudimental drum piece, “The Downfall of Paris,” on Lenny’s coffin, and split. 

Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart

Hart leaves; returns

Because of his father’s actions, Hart left the band in February 1971 and in 1972 released Rolling Thunder. Not bitter about Lenny Hart’s crime, Jerry GarciaPhil Lesh, and Bob Weir all played on the album.

Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart

Hart returned to the Dead in October 1974 at Winterland for the band’s final shows on its tour. The Dead cut back touring in 1975 doing only four shows: one each in March, June, September, and October. Mickey did contribute to their 1975 studio album, Blues for Allah. In 1976 Hart was in again and continued to be in the band.

Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart

Mickey Hart

Outside on his own both during and after the Dead’s last show with its Jerry Garcia line-up, Hart remained and remains active.

You can check out his live appearance schedule here.

Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart

Discography

  • 1976, Diga Rhythm band
  • 1979, music from the movie Apocolypse Now, much of which he contributed.
  • 1989, Music to Be Born By, an album based on the heartbeat of his son in the womb,
  • 1990 his first book, Drumming at the Edge of Magic
  • 1990, At the Edge album
  • 1991, both book and disc, Planet Drum,
  • 1998 Supralingua album
  • 2000, Spirit into Sound album
  • 2007 Global Drum Project, with Hart,  Zakir Hussain, Sikiru Adepoju, and Giovanni Hidalgo. It won the Grammy award for Best Contemporary World Music Album.
  • 2012 the same group on Hart’s Mysterium Tremendum,
  • 2013, Superorganism, with long-time Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter.
  • 2017, RAMU

Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart
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