Mon 21 Mar, 2005 12:00 pm
T. J. is a man who looks to be about 30 years old who is a sort of rock n roll wannabe: he produces those nostalgic pieces for fund raising time on PBS.
His latest is the 60s Experience. I watched it with mixed feelings. While he said he was doing a "deeper" program and not just a "bubble gum music" show, some of his acts were considered bubble gum during the 1960s.
Of course, each era is what we experience in our own intellect, imagination and feelings. My 60s music experience was more highly colored by British folk rock, Renaissance music, acid rock and the blues than the program T. J. presented. I'm from Detroit and used to hang out at the Grande Ballroom!
One night at the Grande was made special by T.J's show: co-hosted by Roger McGuinn and Chuck Negron, the show was stolen by John Kaye and a hot band that bears the name Steppenwolf, although the musicians on stage couldn't have been born when Kaye and Negron played on the same night late in 1968 or early 1969.
I was pursued by someone I didn't want to date. I had successfully avoided talking to him alone since September, 1968. However, we were both cast in a student television play at the University of Detroit and he came and sat down next to me in the Green Room. "Hey! Steppenwolf's at the Grande Saturday!" he said. "Great," I replied. "Pick you up at eight," he answered. Somehow, he knew where I lived and I was stuck.
Opening for Steppenwolf that night was a new band, Three Dog Night, touring under their first album, which was totally unheard by the crowd in the Grande that night. Three Dog stole the show and Steppenwolf took almost an hour to set up. The crowd murmured, "They're afraid to come out." When Steppenwolf emerged, they were without energy and subdued.
People were blown away by Three Dog Night. My date and a former boyfriend who was also there for the show talked about how exciting it was to see a rock band with stage presence: something new at the time. (Just watch some of TJ's historic footage of bands like the Moody Blues to see what was meant!) However, they were -- to my mind -- a one album band. It was down hill from there. But John Kaye put on a powerful performance and stole the show on PBS.
Interestingly, I found a copy of a January New Yorker on a table at the high school where I teach. An editorial commented on how many of the old rockers are putting on better shows than much younger acts and better shows than they ever did in their lives because they have learned stage craft.
What do you think . . . about TJ . . . one album bands . . . late blooming charisma?
What did you listen to in the 1960s?
I am fully aware that licensing and contracts prevent some acts from appearing. For example, Chuck Negron (who made me sick with his over acting and his shirt designed to hide his gut) was totally divorced from any mention of Three Dog Night.
While it makes me sad to see former sex symbols like Barry McGuire looking like my father, it is nice to hear that folks like Eric Burdon still have it.
Anyone a fan of Amazing Blondel?
Read some interesting things about John Kay: born in Germany during WWII, he is totally color blind and legally blind. There are things he can't do because of this so he concentrates on things he can do. Dropped out of music for 10 years beginning around 1971 because of the price of fame; drugs; bossy record companies, and the fact that he had married and had a daughter. Returned to music when he felt his daughter was old enough for him to be away from home.