Just an Almost Local Band From Macon

Vanderbilt University had a concert during Homecoming on October 30, 1970, that featured the Youngbloods as the headliner.  The Youngbloods had a stalled career that flamed up briefly and then died out, and that concert was close to the end.

After playing in clubs for a few years, the group hit the pop charts with Grizzly Bear, a song that fought up to number 52 in the national charts near the end of 1966.  While that doesn’t sound like much, it was enough to get them booked on American Bandstand in 1967 ( here’s Dave Clark interviewing them before they sing their almost-hit record).  The album they released also contained the single Get Together which charted all the way up to 62, but they had little chart success with their follow-up album and singles.

And then, in 1969, a disc jockey at WABC-AM radio in New York City used parts of the song Get Together as background music for a public service announcement.  Awareness of the song followed, and the National Council of Christians and Jews used the record as their theme song on numerous national commercials.  The sleepy single was rereleased and was an overnight success in the Summer of 1969, and the Youngbloods were able to line up a string of concert appearances based on its success.

I bring them up not because of anything special, but because of their warm-up act.  Before the concert, news leaked out that a band that was playing at a club in downtown Nashville would be the warm-up act.  The band was fronted by a pair of brothers who were born in Nashville, although the band had coalesced in Macon, Georgia.  It was Duane and Gregg Allman and the Allman Brothers Band.

Note to self: I really do need to do a list of my top ten favorite concert warm-up acts.

After playing together and recording their first album in New York City in November 1969, the band decided that part of the country was nowhere they wanted to be and relocated to a small building near Macon to work on their career.  Our radio station at Vanderbilt had a copy of their first album, but I don’t recall anybody playing anything from it on the air before they showed up on campus.  Part of the reason we missed the album may have been the single the record company sent us: Black Hearted Woman was the release instead of Tied to the Whipping Post.  The real reason was something different: the studio albums failed to capture the sound of the live band.

A little more than a month before the concert, the band released their second album, and their record company released Revival (Love is Everywhere) as a single, ignoring two standards that were on the album as well: Midnight Rider and In Memory of Elizabeth Reed.  We were fortunate at that concert to watch the band all but invent Southern Boogie as they played a number of long versions of their songs.

And it was live performances that finally helped the band achieve the success they so justly deserved.  When they performed at the Fillmore in February 1970, a few of the songs were recorded, but those recordings were not released until 1996.  Fortunately, in March 1971 band returned to perform at the Fillmore East in New York, and this time the performances were recorded and several of them were put onto a double album that is included on many lists of the top ten live albums of all time.  Top 40 success eluded them for a few more years (their sole top ten single was Rambling Man in 1973), but they were one of the most influential bands throughout that decade and dominated radio airplay in at least the southern states.

The Youngbloods?  They were okay to listen to, but when fans called out for Grizzly Bear they refused to sing it, with one of them telling the audience they had outgrown the song.  Apparently, they had also outgrown Get Together, as they refused to play it until the end of their set, telling the audience, “Don’t worry, we know why we’re here.”  Wikipedia tells a story of them losing a chance to perform on the Tonight Show because they wanted to play a new song but the show only wanted to schedule Get Together.  I played their singles Darkness, Darkness and Sunlight on the air on my afternoon show, but almost nobody else in the country did and their group had no real success after 1970.

Gregg Allman wrote and sang lead on many of the Allman Brothers cuts, and with Duane Allman and Dickie Betts around to play guitar it’s easy to understand why Gregg was playing the organ.  It turns out he is also talented on the guitar himself, as demonstrated in live concerts.  Here’s the band in 2011 performing Van Morrison’s Into the Mystic.  They could make anything sound special live!

Once in a Lifetime Comic Sale

Every now and then a really nice comic comes into the store – a Giant-Sized X-Men #1 or the first Batman appearance of Ras Al-Ghul or maybe one of the old Tales of Suspense or Tales to Astonish or an early Justice League of America comic.  Not this time:

  • Amazing Fantasy #15 (first Spider-Man) CGC 3.0 Off-White Pages $12,000
  • Avengers #1 Off-White to White pages $2,500
  • Amazing Spider-Man #1 Off-White to White pages $6,000
  • Tales of Suspense #39 (first Iron Man) Slightly Brittle pages (beautiful cover)  $3,200

The comics will be on sale direct for the next week or so (shipping will be extra), and after that, they’ll be on eBay at higher prices (due to listing fees).  Contact the store directly if you are interested Reader Copies  The comics are back in the safe deposit box downtown, so if you need to see them in person or need more photos let us know.

large comic sale

How A Teacher Helped Me Break An Addiction

Teachers can have an impact on students, and often they don’t know just how much of an impact they’ve had.

When we showed up for our class back in 1958, our second-grade teacher had a strange assignment for us.  Mrs. Powers handed each of us a blank piece of paper.  We were instructed to write down the day and time of each television show we watched each week.  I dutifully racked my brains and did my best, carefully covering each half hour from morning to night, giving special attention to the dessert that was Saturday mornings.  Since school was in session I didn’t get to cover the shows I would watch during the day in the Summer, but it was still an impressive list: I had to use both sides of the paper, and not just because my handwriting was so large at that age.  Mrs. Powers collected the pages and went back to her desk to face us.  With a voice that had the chill of death, she pronounced our fate: she had already conspired with our parents, and for the next month we were not going to watch television.  At all.

I don’t remember much about the rest of that day, I was too shaken up.  What were we supposed to do without television?  Sure, I spent some time playing with friends outside or playing simple board games, but the bulk of the day outside of school was spent plopped down in front of our 15-inch black and white television.  That afternoon and night I was miserable when I was banished to a bedroom while I could just barely hear my brothers watching shows.  It was small consolation that I could go into my parents’ bedroom and listen to their radio, but by that late in the fifties, most of the old radio shows had been replaced by music (I can still remember listening to the Lone Ranger on the radio before we got our first television).

My Mother could tell I needed help, and the next day she left my brothers at home with our Dad and took me back to the school where miraculously the library was open.  No doubt this was all part of the no television plan since I can’t recall a single other time the school library was open outside of school hours.  She helped me pick out a small stack of books to read.  Sadly, the books we took home were all pretty simple, and within a day or two, I had read them all and was miserable again.

Mom always seemed to have books around to read, even though three kids under the age of eight didn’t leave her much time to read.  The next day I found out where the books came from.  We piled into her shiny blue Impala and traveled to a small building on Jackson Avenue, the closest thing Syosset had to a downtown.  We were greeted by the musty smell of old books when we went inside, and that was my first introduction to the Syosset Public Library.  Mom dropped me off in the kiddie section, and I was less than pleased to find more of the same picture books that the school library had.  I enjoyed reading comic books, mostly the birth of DC Silver age comics at that time, but there were no comics at the library and I was not interested in swimming in the kiddie pool of picture books.  She came back after finding a few books for herself, and I complained (whined?) about not finding anything to read.  She explained that she usually read mysteries, and led me over to the Juvenile section of the library.  She pulled down one of the Hardy Boys books and asked if I thought I could read that.  The book had a colorful wraparound dust jacket, and the inside cover had orange pictures that were reprinted from older copies of their books.  There was another picture across from the title page, but the inside was almost all text.  Ick.  Reading the words was no problem, so I shrugged and told her I’d take it home and read it.

And my life changed.

It took me a few days to read that first Hardy Boys book, but I quickly got better at reading.  I continued reading the Hardy Boys series.  Near the end of each book, there was always a teaser sentence that contained the title of the next book, and I quickly decided that the books had to be read in order.  It was a challenge to track them all down, and at times I had to actually buy the books (which cost all of $1.95 at the time).  I branched out into Tom Swift Junior books (the senior books were too dated), and that led me to science fiction and I found Asimov and Bradbury and Clarke and eventually all the rest.

Sure, after a month I watched television again, but not nearly as much, and from that day on I probably read a few books every week until College came along and destroyed reading for me…but that’s a tale for a different time.

Perhaps before I’m done I should try to put this in context for you.  Imagine if you showed up at school one day and you were told that for the next month you would not be allowed to use your phone or view the internet or play computer games or watch television.  Do you think your life might feel disrupted?

Here’s Jimmy Buffett finding his own  Love in the Library.