Has it really been that long since my last post? Moving house seems to be a process that never quite finishes. With only a few boxes left to unpack, I don’t feel too guilty visiting the 60’s again.
27 September 1969, Mt Eden, Auckland, New Zealand – a boy celebrates his first birthday, blissfully unaware of his parents’ lack of interest in the Beatles or the Stones. There’s no Sgt Pepper or Satisfaction here. Mum prefers Nana Mouskouri, and she sings over and over….even her record cover admits it.
In the Studio…with the Velvet Underground
Following their first two records and having replaced John Cale with Doug Yule, the Velvet Underground moved from Verve Records to parent company MGM Records, releasing their self-titled third album The Velvet Underground in March 1969. A management change resulted in MGM releasing less profitable bands from their roster, and the Velvets found themselves without a label. The band had already recorded tracks for their second MGM album, but these were forgotten until a resurgence of interest in the Velvet Underground several decades later. Among these was an instrumental track recorded on 27 September 1969 named “I’m Gonna Move Right In” and finally released in 1986 on “Another View“.
Other albums that were being recorded in September 1969, but without any evidence of activity on Saturday 27th, include the Rolling Stones’ “Let It Bleed“, “Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water“, David Bowie’s “David Bowie“, and Van Morrison’s “Moondance“. Perhaps the lack of activity was due to a late night listening to the Beatles’ “Abbey Road“, released on 26 September.
On the Road…with Jimi Hendrix
Well….almost. Following the final show by the “Jimi Hendrix Experience” in June 1969, Hendrix performed at Woodstock in August with a shortlived band – “Gypsy Sun and Rainbows”. Hendrix was then scheduled for further dates across the US in September, including this show on September 27 at Will Rogers Coliseum, Fort Worth. This and other shows were cancelled while Hendrix recorded new material and auditioned members for his “Band Of Gypsys”. Fort Worth would have to wait until May 1970 for their Hendrix show – one of Jimi’s last. On 18 September 1970, Hendrix was found dead in an apartment at the Samarkand Hotel, London.
On the Road…with Dr. John
Dr John’s interest in voodoo was a major influence on his stage performance in the late 60’s and early 70’s, as well as on the music of his first four albums. The band selected by Dr John to play at the Whisky A Go Go on 27 September 1969, and five other nights, were soon to record Dr John’s third album,”Remedies“, the following month in New York. The cover photo for “Remedies” was taken at one of the September shows at the Whisky.
On the Road…with the Grateful Dead
Originating in San Francisco and quickly becoming one the West Coast’s leading examples of psychedelic rock in the late 60’s , the Grateful Dead were equally at home at New York’s Fillmore East, playing at least 45 times between 1968 and 1971. Replacing Mountain, the Dead performed early and late shows on both 26 and 27 September 1969, playing a selection from their first two albums, along with a range of covers and tracks later to be released on “Workingman’s Dead”.
In an April 2014 article for New Yorker, Alec Wilkinson recalled the late show on 27 September 1969 as his first experience of the Grateful Dead. It clearly left a lasting impression, as he describes “tie-dyed fabric…like something from a bazaar in a country it was difficult to reach and a little scary to visit…the spooky flames, the disorder that seemed only half under control, the carnival atmosphere….the powerful, serpentine music”.
To complete the documentation, the early show can be heard here:
On the Road…with Santana
September 27 1969 was a busy time for Carlos Santana. On the same day that the fourth line-up of Santana played the Santa Rosa Fairgrounds in California, their debut album entered the Billboard album charts, eventually reaching number 4, and staying in the charts for two years. It was also a success in Europe, reaching number 5 in France and the Netherlands.
On the Road…with Black Sabbath
Heavy Metal pioneers Black Sabbath didn’t always sound too threatening. They first performed in 1968 as Polka Tulk; history isn’t clear whether they were named after an Indian /Pakistani clothing shop or a brand of talcum powder. Later in 1968, they changed to Earth, until they found another gigging band had already taken that name. On 27 September 1969 at the Drill Hall in Dumfries, Scotland, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Bill Ward and Ozzy Osbourne performed as Black Sabbath for the first time.
On the Road…with Pink Floyd
1969 saw Pink Floyd adjusting to life without Syd Barrett. As well as regular touring around the UK and Europe, they started recorded the studio tracks for Ummagumma in January, and the soundtrack to Barbet Schroeder’s film “More” in late January-early February. They also contributed to the BBC’s coverage of the moon landing in July with “Moonhead”, and in December recorded background music for the soundtrack of “Zabriskie Point”.
On 17 September 1969 Pink Floyd began a nine-date tour of the Netherlands and Belgium, which started in Amsterdam and ended with three shows at the Theatre 140 in Brussels on 26, 27 and 28 September.
On the Road…with Fleetwood Mac
Apparently organised by the local Rugby club, 10,000 people were believed to have attended this indoor all-night festival. This was the blues era of Fleetwood Mac, lead by Peter Green, with Jeremy Spencer and Danny Kirwan joining Fleetwood/McVie to complete the band, and with no hint of the commercial direction that would follow. The festival began promptly at 8pm, with Fleetwood Mac scheduled to appear at 2.30am, the early hours of 27 September.
There are many recollections of the festival and Fleetwood Mac’s performance here. Apparently John Peel’s jokes were too long and not very funny, and the floor was very hard to sit on all night. Fleetwood Mac didn’t come on until 3am, and played their soon to be released single “Oh Well”, as well as some blues covers and tracks from their recent album “Then Played On”. Peter Green is reported to have worn orange pants, and one audience member recalls a conversation with rhododendrons in the gardens outside the hall. Many attendees mention how cold it was when the festival finally finished on the Saturday morning.
On the Road…with The Who
Meanwhile in Germany, The Who were performing in Bremen on Beat Club, the first German TV show dedicated to popular music. Footage of The Who’s performance can be seen from 6.10 into the video below.
And at Number One this week on the New Zealand charts…
Topping New Zealand charts on 27 September 1969 was “Saint Paul” by Shane. Written by US Producer Terry Knight about his failure in auditioning for The Beatles Apple label, the song contains numerous musical and lyrical phrases copied directly from The Beatles. Initial copies of the single listed Terry Knight’s Storybook Music as the publisher of “Saint Paul.” After receiving a cease and desist letter from The Beatles’ publisher, the record was initially pulled from distribution. In May 1969 “Saint Paul” was re-issued with a publishing credit to the Beatles’ publishing company.
When Shane rerecorded the song later in 1969, it became an instant success, reaching number 1 on the New Zealand charts for six weeks, replacing the Rolling Stones’ Honky Tonk Women. Despite follow-up singles and tours of the United States and Europe, further success eluded Shane.
An arguably more globally enduring song received its first broadcast on 27 September 1969. Replacing the original theme song, the more notable “Scooby-Dooby-Doo” version was recorded on Wednesday 24 September and aired the following Saturday, 27 September.