In 1951, photographer Bob Willoughby took a now-iconic photo of jazz saxophonist Big Jay McNeely and some fans in the clutch of the music during a concert at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles. In 2009, Marc Myers of JazzWax contacted Willoughby to discover the story behind the photo. "You could taste the energy in that air. To this day I have never seen or heard anything to match it."
When the Andean exotica singer Yma Sumac became famous in the United States for her supposed Inca heritage and five-octave voice, her fellow Peruvians called her a sellout. UC Davis professor Zoila Mendoza, however, knew Yma Sumac as her mother’s childhood friend.
In the 1950s, Club Hangover was the place to go in San Francisco to hear Dixieland and New Orleans jazz. Thanks to tapes from KCBS being preserved and passed on, you can now listen to 25 complete and unedited half-hour broadcasts from Club Hangover, with recordings of Louis Armstrong, Earl "Fatha" Hines, Kid Ory, Muggsy Spanier, Ralph Sutton, and Jack Teagarden, all from 1954-58.
In the mid-1950s, Dickie Goodman was a struggling song writer working with song publisher Bill Buchanan, when the two men came up with the idea of a fake radio program interrupted by a UFO attack (similar to the hoax Orson Welles broadcast of War of the Worlds), except in this case, the aliens spoke the language of rock 'n' roll. The result was Flying Saucer, Parts 1 and 2 on Luniverse Records, the first novelty break-in record and a forerunner to the modern mashup. [more inside]
Fender Factory Tour 1959 - Leo Fender in the second shot. Freddie Tavares at 7:26. A day when "everything was done by hand... It is amazing to realize that every guitar made that year is now worth a small fortune." The 1959-63 era Stratocaster is called one of the 50 guitars to play before you die. (via the q-ster)
In August 1990, when Spin magazine was still an edgier cousin to Rolling Stone, it published a list of the 35 Greatest Moments in Rock 'n' Roll Television. [more inside]
The Jazz Loft Project - From 1957 to 1965, celebrated photojournalist W. Eugene Smith made 4,000 hours of surreptitious recordings and took 40,000 photographs in a loft in Manhattan's wholesale flower district where Roland Kirk, Thelonius Monk, Hall Overton, Charles Mingus and other jazz greats jammed until dawn. Archived in the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, the project is now accessible via a book, a traveling exhibit, a 10-part Jazz Loft series on WNYC, NPR's Jazz Loft Project Sights & Sounds, and an interview with JLP author Sam Stephenson, which includes some images from the book. Via a Grain Edit post, which also has some great images. [more inside]
It's been 50 years (on Tuesday) since Buddy Holly died. He still has some rabid fans who will be celebrating his life and work, but should the rest of us still care? [more inside]
"If Communists liked what we did, that was their good luck," said Lee Hays, founding member of the Almanac Singers. A fascinating portrait of one of the linchpins of the politically engaged folk movement of the '40s and '50s. Hays sang beside the more celebrated (and, on one important day in Bob Dylan history, infamous) Pete Seeger on such classic Almanac albums as Talking Union. [Listen here.]
Hey daddy-o, when you hear that big brash horn section pump out that oddly familiar riff, only to stop cold and make way for that that prescient single note from an electric guitar, followed straightaway by a twangy voice in perfect rockabilly delivery proclaiming "well, she's got a dress that looks like a sack!", then brother, you're listening to the hoppin' boppin' sound of Wally Deane's Drag On. Once you hear it, you'll wonder why Quentin Tarrantino never put it in a movie. Wally Deane: one of the greatest rockabilly acts you never heard of.
All that's cat, all that's hep? Huh? I am
utterly mystified by not quite sure about the website, which seems to be Italian, but the pictures are cute and the music snippets that you get when you click on the covers sure are strange and funny and sweet...and I wish I understood what it's in aid of! Can anyone here tell me what these Old Woogie guys are up to? Are they evil? Are they devious? Or are they just tragically enthusiastic?
European music copyrights from the '50s due to expire this year, and to grossly oversimplify things, RIAA is on the warpath, saying that imports from there would be acts of piracy. Considering that there's a gold mine's worth of material begging to be shown the light again (the Maria Callas material mentioned in the article, for example), no doubt there will be some great releases...but will EMI's actions be more the exception than the rule? (NYT link, yadayada)