It’s funny how a person perceives fame throughout their lifetime. When I started in the music business in the mid 60s I thought fame was the be-all-to-end-all. I wanted fame more than I wanted money. I wanted my name to be a household word. I wanted people to know me on sight and to whisper as I passed them on the street, not sure if they dare ask for an autograph.
A few columns ago I vented my frustration regarding amateur singers from the audience wanting to horn in on my act. You know the kind—they warble a little in the shower and think they can do in a day what I’ve been perfecting for forty years. Occasionally I allow some Tom Jones wannabe to come up and give it a try. Sometimes I do it out of curiosity to see if they really can sing. Sometimes I do it because I know they can’t and I just want to see them make a total ass of themselves and have a good silent laugh. Sometime I have no choice—the guy wanting to sing is the same guy who’s paying me. But most of the time I’d just as soon the audience members stay where they are and let me do my show by myself.
Imagine this scenario, if you will. I’m sitting in my dentist’s chair getting my teeth cleaned. When I find a gap in the work where I can talk, I tell him, “Say doc, when the next patient comes in can I pull his tooth?” You can just about imagine what my dentist would say to me.
2002 was a good year for me in a lot of ways. That year I left a job that I wasn’t really crazy about, I bought a new guitar, I split off from my duo to do a solo act and Cybermidi began operation on the web. Now, these last three events were linked together quite well. My solo act required quality MIDI files and Cybermidi fit that bill perfectly. SO, just to be silly for a moment, let’s imagine all the tunes Flash could sequence, if he had a mind to do so, and tie them in with anniversaries. How about…
Sears, Harley-Davidson, The Beatles, Abbott and Costello—what do any of these have in common with the others? I’ll tell you. When was the last time you heard a die-hard biker say he was going to hit the road on his Davidson? Does anyone ever say they’re going to the Roebuck Store for a kitchen range and three pairs of wool socks? Ever hear anyone at a video store ask for a Costello movie? No to all of the above.
Very early in The Beatles’ career, they were just beginning to spread their wings as songwriters but didn’t have enough material to cover a whole live show, let alone their first album. They relied on cover versions of songs that they’d honed in their stage act over many years. As their career progressed, cover tunes declined on their albums until there was nothing but original material on their recordings. This article covers only the American albums and only up until their Yesterday…And Today album. I realize that on their Let It Be album they covered “Maggie Mae,” an English folk standard, but that was more or less a studio jam or filler.
April 23, 1995 was the day that I can truly say was the turning point for me in music. To explain fully, I have to go back five years to 1990. That’s when I first ditched the four-piece band in favor of a duo. By 1990 I’d had twenty-four years of playing with bands and frankly the stress was just not worth the effort. There were always four or five or six different personalities pulling the band in as many directions musically and career-wise. While I personally wanted to record some 45s and albums, others in the band didn’t want the responsibility of touring that accompanied the records.
I was a teenager in the sixties so naturally I’d have a fascination with The Beatles, more so than, let’s say, someone ten to fifteen years younger than myself. Occasionally I’ll run into one of these people and the conversation will roll around to The Beatles and their contributions to the music scene. They’ll usually say something about how The Beatles were overrated or hyped beyond reality or some other comment meant to minimize the accomplishments of these lads from Liverpool. Well, being the Beatle enthusiast that I am, this is one topic where I can debate intelligently with just about anyone. Just so we can put this subject to rest once and for all, I’ll present this column to all you naysayers so you will have the facts before you try to put down the most successful rock group of all time. For example…