The Rocking Chronicles
by Tim Van Schmidt
In Phoenix in 1967, there weren’t any little shop like Leo’s in Harvard to buy records at. Instead, you had to go to the shopping mall. Many department stores at the time- Sears and Penney’s- had record departments and there were also franchise music stores that might also sell equipment or even pianos, sheet music and instruments.
The funkiest record stand we knew of in 1967 was in a place called the Food Bazaar. Once my parents discovered the Food Bazaar, we frequented the facility. It was a big food court with stands offering all different kinds of food. It was a great place to take us boys, give us each an amount of money and let us get what sounded good to us.
At the far end of the Food Bazaar was a little newsstand, boutique type stand. I’m not sure how many records we bought there- or that they had much of a selection- but we always made sure we picked up the latest record surveys from our favorite radio stations.
In Illinois, I remember only one radio station- WLS. But in Phoenix, there were two Top 40, youth-oriented radio stations on the AM dial, KRIZ and KRUX. There seemed to be a friendly competition between the two and it seemed kids kind of divided themselves between KRIZ and KRUX listeners.
I couldn’t tell you what was the difference between the two radio stations. Maybe KRUX was just a little more mainstream. KRIZ was a little wackier perhaps. One of the DJs on KRIZ was Pat McMahon, who was also heavily involved in the Phoenix kids’ show Wallace and Ladmo.
Both KRIZ and KRUX played basically the same songs. However, KRIZ might go out on a limb for a non-Top 40 artist. An example of that in 1967 would be Frank Zappa’s early single “Lonely Little Girl.” Thanks to KRIZ, I thought Frank Zappa was a Top 40 artist along with the Beatles, the Bee Gees and the Rolling Stones.
I had a radio in my room in the house, but my best friend in 1967 was my transistor radio. There was a real reason for this. In our new home in Phoenix, we didn’t have a yard around our house like anything we had in Illinois. In Arizona, we had a dry, pink granite lot, with prickly pear and ocotillo cactus planted throughout.
The problem was that this yard needed constant attention- not because it needed mowing often, but because the relatively open ground was an open invitation for weeds to grow. Instead of having to mow the lawn, one of our constant chores became weeding the yard. The only thing that made that weeding chore bearable was the transistor radio.
So that’s how I heard a lot of the hits of 1967- outside in the hot sun clearing away the nasty, prickly desert weeds that grew everywhere.
When it came to buying records in Phoenix in 1967, I not only stepped up and bought one of the Beatles’ current hits- “Hello Goodbye”- but I also bought a copy of what I considered a “classic” at the time- “I Want to Hold Your Hand” with “I Saw Her Standing There.” The record was already four years old, but if I was going to invest in anything old, it would have to be the Beatles. While “I Want to Hold Your Hand” delivered everything the early Beatles were all about- a kind of aggressive innocence- I found the flip side “I Saw Her Standing There” much more exciting.
Still, the old Beatles record did not receive as much play on my 45 player as the new song “Hello Goodbye.” The song had a simple twist on simple words and its melody made it instantly memorable. I liked its upbeat, positive slant.
But for real excitement, I had to go no further than my single purchase of the Who’s 1967 hit “I Can See for Miles.” I instinctively knew what to do with the Who’s music- kind of jump around and swing your arms. The song had a little bit of a creepy edge to it.
There was nothing creepy about the Monkees’ music and I followed along by buying my first picture sleeve- “Pleasant Valley Sunday.” This also may have been the first time I bought the same record as my older brother because I wanted one of my own.
The purchase of “Pleasant Valley Sunday” also marked a return to my hometown, Harvard. To celebrate returning, I bought the Monkees record at Leo’s and I would have a very interesting experience after buying the record.
I went to look up a chum from “the old days” and I was shocked when my friend- we had been in Cub Scouts together- took me into one of the stores and demonstrated just how easy it was for him to shoplift. He swiped a car magazine and I was horrified.
My favorite record purchase in 1967, however, would be “Itchycoo Park” by the Small Faces. I really didn’t know what they were talking about- the “getting high” part that is- but I loved the progress of the song and particularly the sound effects on the drums.
The radio, however, supplied most of my music listening at this time. The most exciting record on the air in 1967 was the Doors’
“Light My Fire.” I remember some controversy over whether or not the DJ would play the “long version”- with full instrumental jam section- or the shorter radio edit each time it came on.
But, see, I also liked the Association’s 1967 hit “Windy”- really, just another sing-songy pop song. One afternoon, while waiting for the school bus, my older brother, a friend and I were trying to tap out the rhythms of our favorite songs- and see if the other guys could guess which song it was. My attempt at imitating a pop song by the rhythm was “Windy.”
The spooky hit by Bobbie Gentry, “Ode to Billie Jo,” was always a favorite when it came on during weed picking time- also hits by the Hollies and the Buckinghams.
My transistor radio also went with me and my older brother to a summer wood shop session he and I teamed up together to attend. I think we would get a ride to the school and walk back, transistor radio in hand.
On one of those walks back, my brother and I were accosted by some rough kids who had been swimming in one of the irrigation canals that threaded through the city. They wanted us to drop our drawers and go jump in the canal, but somehow we escaped. The song that came on the transistor radio right when we gained our freedom was The Music Explosion’s 1967 hit “Little Bit O’ Soul.” Perfect timing.
1967- Play List
Buckinghams- Kind of a Drag
Rolling Stones- Ruby Tuesday
Seekers- Georgie Girl
Johnny Rivers- Baby, I Need Your Lovin’
Beatles- Penny Lane
Turtles- Happy Together
Four Tops- Bernadette
Monkees- Daydream Believer
Young Rascals- Groovin’
Aretha Franklin- Respect
Association- Never My Love
Scott McKenzie- San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)
Frankie Valli- Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You
Procol Harum- A Whiter Shade of Pale
Box Tops- The Letter
Lulu- To Sir, With Love
Strawberry Alarm Clock- Incense and Peppermints
Cowsills- The Rain, The Park & Other Things
Sam and Dave- Soul Man
Dionne Warwick- I Say a Little Prayer
Smokey Robinson and the Miracles- I Second That Emotion
Union Gap- Woman, Woman
Otis Redding- Try a Little Tenderness
Lovin’ Spoonful- Darling Be Home Soon
Eric Burdon & The Animals- When I Was Young
Bee Gees- To Love Somebody
The Doors- People Are Strange
Bee Gees- Holiday
Donovan- Wear Your Love Like Heaven
Stone Poneys- Different Drum
Eric Burdon & the Animals- Monterey
The Beach Boys- Heroes and Villains
Bee Gees- New York Mining Disaster 1941
Glen Campbell- By the Time I Get to Phoenix
Donovan- There is a Mountain
The Moody Blues- Nights In White Satin –
Janis Ian- Society’s Child
The Monkees- (I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone
Dusty Springfield- The Look of Love
Simon & Garfunkel- The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)
The Who- Happy Jack
Jimi Hendrix 1967
The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Live at Monterey ****
When the Monterey Pop Festival happened in California in 1967, I was 11 years old, living in a hot housing development in Phoenix just down the road from Barry Goldwater’s house and probably still sporting a crew cut. It was a long way away from the peace and love explosion in California- and this apparently great music festival.
More than 40 years later, I’m middle-aged, living in Colorado and, thanks to “The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Live at Monterey” and other disks like it, I’m able to sit down in my living room and see up close what happened so long ago in Monterey. In this case, what happened was a feisty, edgy American debut for the Jimi Hendrix Experience, who had already become a sensation in England. This particular performance still creates a sensation today.
This disk begins and ends with some documentary style interviews with people who had been intimately involved with Hendrix and the Pop Festival. In some ways it’s kind of sad seeing these aging musicians and managers talk about the old days, especially when their heyday had been so flamboyant. This leads to a dark observation that because of his early death, Hendrix will always be thought of as a young man, as a boundary breaking artist, never to grow old and sit in front of a camera to recapture what has long gone by.
Fortunately, the Hendrix performance at Monterey was captured on film and it is an eye-opening one indeed. After all the old geezers get done talking about it in “The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Live at Monterey,” they just go away and, thankfully, the performance itself is given its own space.
Hendrix does it all on “The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Live at Monterey”- raw revved up blues, trippy electric ballads, brazen feedback and instrumental violence. He plays his guitar behind his back, on his neck and with his teeth. He is so attached to his guitar as an instrumentalist that apparently he could take any position, any pose and still play. Hendrix also runs his arm up and down the strings at random and steps up and humps his amplifier with his guitar.
But the sound and the action aren’t all there is to it. Hendrix and his group- bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell- are decked out in outlandish costumes with puffy shoulders, feather boas and exaggerated hair dos. Even in the height of the Summer of Love, these guys looked even wilder and stranger than the audience. In the ever-changing spotlights and thanks to Hendrix’s big exaggerated guitar moves, there was plenty to look at- not like most bands today who think jeans and a t-shirt are sufficient.
While criticizing the interview portions of “The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Live at Monterey,” I also appreciate some of the information that was presented. One of the points that was hammered on again and again in the production was that while Hendrix came back to America from England as such a new artist that many people had no idea who he was, he did come with some important recommendations- the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. In fact, Hendrix was introduced at Monterey by the Rolling Stones’ Brian Jones.
An interesting comparison brought up by “The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Live at Monterey” is between Hendrix and the Who. I see a real similarity in what Who guitarist Pete Townshend was doing and what Hendrix was doing- mixing nimble fretwork with electric mayhem. Both bands also end up destroying instruments at the end of their sets. Hendrix does the Who one better by lighting his guitar on fire in a hedonistic ritual before destroying it completely. This brings up an ironic observation that the most exciting acts in rock exhibited sheer violence on stage for crowds that were supposed to be all about peace and love.
I found the Hendrix performance at Monterey exhilarating. Hendrix was all over his guitar, all over the stage- confident, cool and wild. The scene where he sets his guitar on fire- after a raw, loose version of “Wild Thing”- is outrageous even now. Today there would be a safety crew on hand to put the fire out in case it got out of control- or the act would be so scripted that it would be like starting up the grill. Then, it was an act of danger, of defiance, of disregard.
Directed by DA Pennebaker…2008…116 min…featuring Jimi Hendrix, Noel Redding, Mitch Mitchell, Pete Townshend, Brian Jones, John Phillips, Michelle Phillips, Derek Taylor, Chas Chandler, Dave Mason.
My strongest 1967 movie memory isn’t really about a movie itself, but of what the movie inspired. The movie I’m talking about is the 1967 hit “Bonnie and Clyde,” featuring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway as the legendary crime couple. Apparently, Bonnie and Clyde were legendary in their own time and the movie in 1967 made them legendary all over again to a new generation.
I didn’t get to see the movie until many years later, but some time after the movie had come out, the song “The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde” by Georgie Fame hit the radio. Reportedly, the song was directly inspired by the movie. The recording told a harrowing tale of career criminals thumbing their noses at the authorities and paying the ultimate price for it, using garish sound effects to illustrate the action and a retro style of singing.
Other music was also inspired by the “Bonnie and Clyde” movie. My Dad picked up an album of “Bonnie and Clyde” music at a gas station- a unique promotion.
The whole “Bonnie and Clyde” thing caught my attention and I became fascinated with stories of gangsters in general. I bought magazines at the local Circle K store that were jammed full of gory gangland murder photos and I read books about bad people like Dillinger and Ma Barker and sons. This was a taste of a horrible wickedness from history that was somehow irresistible.
But I wasn’t watching any movies anywhere near “Bonnie and Clyde” in 1967. I’m not sure how my parents found the time, but on occasion they would go out to a movie and I would sometimes go along. In 1967, we saw two major movies in the theater in Phoenix.
The first was the grand musical, “Camelot,” featuring Richard Harris, Vanessa Redgrave and Franco Nero. The songs were plenty memorable and the Knights of the Round Table time period was imaginative. I enjoyed the movie so much that I bought the souvenir booklet.
The other 1967 movie I remember seeing in the theater with my parents was “The Taming of the Shrew,” directed by Franco Zeffirelli and starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. I’m not sure we knew what we were getting into with this big star treatment of the Shakespeare play. The time period sparked imagination but the constant yelling and conniving by the characters wore thin compared to the more audience-friendly “Camelot.”
Of course, the television would become the main outlet for experiencing 1967 movie releases. Some of these movies included “Cool Hand Luke,” starring Paul Newman, and “The Dirty Dozen, starring Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine and Charles Bronson. Both movies especially caused a stir among the boys at school whenever they were broadcast.
I would have to wait until my high school years, after we moved to California, to experience the ridiculous horror of the 1967 blood-fest “The Gruesome Twosome.” It was just silly- a woman with a wig shop lures young women into a back apartment where her son scalps the poor lasses to restock the shop. Still, I spent more than half of the movie in the lobby, occasionally peeking in through the door to see something creepy, but just scared to death.
In college, I would get to experience 1967 classics such as “Belle de jour,” directed by Luis Buñuel, starring Catherine Deneuve. Friends and I drove all the way from Santa Barbara to see the movie in an LA art film house.
On campus, I would also catch up to the 1967 classic “The Graduate,” directed by Mike Nichols, starring Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft and Katharine Ross.
Valley of the Dolls ***
Drugs get the better of young, pretty and talented women. Tenuous relationships are the results of a freewheeling celebrity lifestyle that turns ambition into need.
Directed by…Mark Robson…1967…123 min…featuring Barbara Parkins, Patty Duke, Sharon Tate, Paul Burke, Martin Milner, Lee Grant, Jacqueline Susann, Joey Bishop, George Jessel, Tony Scotti, Charles Drake, Naomi Stevens, Susan Hayward, Richard Dreyfuss.
The Marquis De Sade directs inmates in an insane asylum in a play about the French Revolution. This can do nothing but spin out of control, the shrill music and aggressive action surging toward a violent outcome.
Directed by…Peter Brook…1967…116 min…featuring Glenda Jackson, Patrick Magee, Clifford Rose, Ian Richardson, Freddie Jones
A stoic half-breed finds himself in command of a bunch of white folks when their stage is robbed. It’s rugged, but slow- like a trickle of sweat easing down your neck on a blistering hot day.
Directed by Martin Ritt…1967…111min…featuring Paul Newman, Fredric March, Richard Boone, Diane Cilento, Cameron Mitchell, Barbara Rush, Martin Balsam, Val Avery.
More 1967 Movies
Magical Mystery Tour
Gamera vs. Gyaos
2 or 3 Things I Know About Her (2 ou 3 choses que je sais d’elle)
A Countess from Hong Kong
The Andromeda Nebula
Barefoot in the Park
The Battle of Algiers
The Big Mouth
Billion Dollar Brain
La collectionneuse (The Collector)
Divorce American Style
Far from the Madding Crowd
The Fearless Vampire Killers
The Firemen’s Ball
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
A Guide for the Married Man
The Happiest Millionaire
Hells Angels on Wheels
I Am Curious (Yellow)
In Cold Blood
In Like Flint
In the Heat of the Night
The Jungle Book
King Kong Escapes
Monster from a Prehistoric Planet
The Night of the Generals,
Quatermass and the Pit
The Reluctant Astronaut
The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre
Son of Godzilla
The Thief of Paris
This Night I Will Possess Your Corpse
Thoroughly Modern Millie
To Sir, with Love
Two for the Road
Up the Down Staircase
Wait Until Dark
The War Wagon
Who’s Minding the Mint?
Who’s That Knocking at My Door
You Only Live Twice
The most prominent of the television shows that debuted in 1967 would be the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. We had some Smothers’ Brothers records, their smart bro-dumb bro routine striking a familiar chord in a house full of three boys. Their TV show played off of that wry sense of humor, and then some. The show also had a knack for not only attracting hot live acts, but also for tweaking contemporary culture in the nose.
Other new shows in 1967 included The Flying Nun, featuring actress Sally Fields. Fields played a little, young nun whose stature and habit gave her the unusual ability to catch the wind and fly. This lead to all kinds of adventures- and various scenarios among the nuns. As improbable as the premise was, it worked thanks to Fields’ cheery, perky disposition.
Another new show in 1967 was Ironsides, featuring Raymond Burr. Burr was back on TV in a familiar place- in the courtroom. But unlike his previous starring role as Perry Mason, Burr was confined to a wheelchair in “Ironsides.”
Also new in 1967 was the lively Western, “The High Chaparral.” It was another family saga- following in the footsteps of “Bonanza” and “The Big Valley”- but with its own unique elements- like a young Mexican bride for the Big Daddy rancher. “Mannix,” featuring Mike Conners as a detective, also premiered in 1967.
Wallace and Ladmo continued to be our favorite local show. Things certainly got interesting on the show following the 1967 release of the Beatles’ “Sgt Peppers” album. Singer Mike Condello and the Wallace and Ladmo cast made a recording of Beatles-based songs from the album, but telling Wallace and Ladmo stories about various characters. These pieces ended up being acted out on the show- often with trippy results.
I do not remember school ever being a problem. Somewhere in First or Second Grade, I received some extra reading lessons from my Grandma Schmidt, but from then on I pretty much did fine on my own.
The move to Phoenix, however, introduced me to big city schooling. The work itself was not much different from the schools in Harvard, but at my new school- named Madison School Number 1- there were so many kids that the classes were carefully divided into ability groups- from the brightest to the not so bright. I think that the theory was that kids of like abilities could progress together at a common pace, rather than bright ones being “held back” by the not so bright
Since I was an unknown quantity as a student when we moved to Phoenix in 1966, I was placed in one of the intermediate- or lower- classes. It was well known among the kids which classes were the “smart” ones, and which were the “dumb” ones. I know that there was at least one class that was “dumber” than mine when I entered the school system there.
By the time 1967 had rolled around, I think I had impressed my 5th Grade teacher and my grades went up with each grading quarter. I was awarded a certificate as the winner of the Boys Spelling Bee at some point.
My fifth grade teacher also seemed to think I was a pretty good writer. I very vaguely remember her telling me she would like to submit one of my papers to the Creative Writing contest. I think it was some kind of opinion piece she asked us to write- with a patriotic theme, I believe. But I forgot about it until during the end of the year awards ceremony when I was called up to receive an “Honorable Mention” in Creative Writing for my “Non-fiction” piece. I was surprised.
Apparently so was one of my classmates who buzzed up to me after the classes were let out of the auditorium and immediately insinuated that I was a homosexual because I won a writing award.
This would be the first inkling I would have of a life-long gift for writing.
Also in Fifth Grade, in 1967, I made a mark in my music class by being a pretty good singer (I had been in the church choir in Harvard) and by scoring well in the annual Music Memory Contest. The contest consisted of listening to various classical music recordings and then later on identifying them in a “blindfold” test.
The honor of being a “winner” in the Music Memory Contest included a certificate as well as a field trip to the great Grady Gammage Auditorium on the campus of Arizona State University. I clearly remember the hot bus trip through the city to Tempe, and the strange image of this round concert hall, dressed in desert tones. All of us “winners” filed dutifully into the concert hall and then were treated to a full symphony orchestra concert.
Also, about this time, I found myself lugging around an old trombone at school. Apparently I had been enrolled in music classes- I don’t ever really remember expressing an interest- and it must have been decided that I should take up my oldest brother’s used instrument. I didn’t really mind- it was just another thing everybody was doing too in one way or another.
Besides school, I had also made the jump from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts in 1967. According to my “Tenderfoot” badge card, I accomplished the initial tasks of becoming a Boy Scout- being able to recite the Boy Scout motto as well as other important points- in July 1967.
So, in 1967, I was doing pretty well in a new school, learning music and I became a Boy Scout. I was still collecting baseball cards- even more so because the 1967 design has always been my favorite. There’s something really clean about that year’s design.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the country, the first Super Bowl was played- Green Bay over Kansas City 35-10- Be-ins occurred, race riots raged and huge crowds protested the Vietnam War. The first man was frozen for reanimation, pre-human fossils were discovered in Kenya, boxer Muhammad Ali refused Military Service, the Beatles released their landmark album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and The People’s Republic of China successfully tested a hydrogen bomb.
The Temper of Our Time
by Eric Hoffer
Hoffer presents a long view of cultural elements that produce behavioral trends. His historical and literary references support a primal approach to what moves society- survival comes first in a contest against Nature and our own appetites. Hoffer muses on the strengths of America in general as well as analyzes the “Negro” revolution.
Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung
An eye-opening encounter with the cultural power of the Communist leader. Certainly Tse-Tung lays out specific Party action, but he also talks about love, respect and democracy.
The deepness of these tracts indicate a reason to pay attention- the dedication Tse-Tung called for to accomplish Party objectives- and to survive as a nation- has apparently served the Chinese people well.
One of the hot topics of the 2012 Presidential election was the power of China in the contemporary world- and that they should play by the same rules as everybody else. Looking back 45 years to these excerpts from speeches, interviews and writings, first published in English in 1967, it looks like China was way ahead of everybody else because Tse-Tung- and I’m sure many others- tried to write the rules himself.
by John Tiger
It’s just action- and there’s nothing wrong with that when there is plenty of stealth, deception, split-second timing and an intense dedication by diverse characters to get an “impossible” job done.
It’s especially sweet when the target is a pair of death-dealing Nazis, protected by a ruthless South American country bent on obliterating the minds of their neighbors. There’s enough of a resemblance between this simple read and the TV show to illicit some sense of the show’s allure- bad guys being tricked out of their skulls by smart good guys (and gals.)