Influence Me
September 1, 2007 5:59 PM   Subscribe

John Lennon's Jukebox (BBC,Google vid,48min) wiki "In 1989, John Lennon's jukebox surfaced in an auction of Beatles memorabilia at Christie's, and was sold for £2,500 to Bristol-based music promoter John Midwinter. Lennon had apparently bought the jukebox – specifically a Swiss KB Discomatic – in 1965, and filled it with forty singles to take with him on tour. Midwinter spent several years restoring the box and researching the discs catalogued in Lennon's spidery handwriting. When Midwinter developed cancer, and his health began to deteriorate, his desire to see the player featured in some kind of documentary became all the more important." Guardian article,music.
posted by vronsky (61 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks for the post vronsky. I'm looking foward to watching this a little later.

My dad was Lennon's accountant during the period of time when he [Lennon] was fighting deportation. I've some pretty kick-ass souvenirs, but nothing as cool as this.
posted by Poolio at 6:05 PM on September 1, 2007 [2 favorites]

"Lesser artists borrow. Great artists steal."

A quote that has been attributed to Stravinsky, Picasso, and probably others.

Lennon is remarkably frank about this. (I would guess Stravisnsky and Picasso would be more coy about their sources.)
posted by kozad at 6:14 PM on September 1, 2007

Great storyline to hear this old music.
posted by jouke at 6:33 PM on September 1, 2007

Shame they left off the one Arthur Alexander song.

Looking forward to watching the docu. Thanks for the post.
posted by oneirodynia at 7:19 PM on September 1, 2007

Cool, vronsky, what an excellent time capsule ... I am only about 10 minutes into the video clip but wanted to say thanks.
posted by madamjujujive at 7:23 PM on September 1, 2007

MetaFilter: After a while it's kinda like masturbation. You fool around with it, you figure it out.
posted by Poolio at 7:42 PM on September 1, 2007 [4 favorites]

I remember digging this program when it first aired. Then I went onto iTunes, and whipped up this. (warning: iTunes redirect)
posted by ericbop at 7:55 PM on September 1, 2007

I just finished watching the video. Very enjoyable/interesting. Thanks again for the post, vronsky.
posted by Poolio at 8:03 PM on September 1, 2007

This is awesome.
posted by lazaruslong at 8:09 PM on September 1, 2007

So wait.

Little Richard created Rock and Roll?
posted by lazaruslong at 8:09 PM on September 1, 2007

Little Richard created Rock and Roll?

Yeah... that was news to me too.
posted by Poolio at 8:10 PM on September 1, 2007

Booker T and the MG's are f'in tight!
posted by vronsky at 8:24 PM on September 1, 2007

ericbop: Heh. Nice. I think I have most of these songs. I'll have to bittorrent buy the rest from iTunes. That'd be a great mix CD for my Dad.

And my older sister. And younger. And me.
posted by lazaruslong at 8:26 PM on September 1, 2007

"Because at the time we had rhythm and blues, and then we had the pop.....and when it went pop it meant that the whites were buying the record."

Someone else goes on to say " that time on the radio, when there was more than one culture per station..."

That type of stuff just reminds me how....different it must have been to be young and black in the late 40s-50s. I just fail to imagine what that kind of perspective must be like. I can only think that it would seem so surreal.
posted by lazaruslong at 8:33 PM on September 1, 2007

huh, I get 12 Russian themed songs when I click your link ericbop (good songs!). Am I missing something?
posted by vronsky at 8:40 PM on September 1, 2007

John Lennon: the New York Years
posted by KokuRyu at 8:41 PM on September 1, 2007

vronsky: Yeah, the link points to the wrong mix. Click on "all iMixes from this user", and then John Lennon's Jukebox.

The ending bit from John was...enlightening. All he really wanted to do was play some rock and roll and sing some Be Bop a Lula.

posted by lazaruslong at 8:43 PM on September 1, 2007

The Beatles' Apple rooftop concert (their last live performance)
posted by Poolio at 8:45 PM on September 1, 2007 [2 favorites]

You know poolio, I am not the biggest Beatles fan in the world (compared to some) but I have always thought, even when I was a little kid, that the rooftop concert was the coolest thing I have ever seen. Gives me chills.
posted by vronsky at 8:50 PM on September 1, 2007

vronsky and lazaruslong:

I did include as many songs from the original show as I could find in an iMix (which lazaruslong, er, resurrected), but above I linked to an offshoot done just for fun: "Lenin's Jukebox" (hence the assortment of Russian-themed tunes).
posted by ericbop at 8:51 PM on September 1, 2007

As far as I'm concerned, vronsky, it doesn't really get any better than that concert.
posted by Poolio at 8:52 PM on September 1, 2007

Contrary to what many people think, The Beatles were not the first band to play a rock concert on a city rooftop. The year before (1968), Jefferson Airplane played on a NYC rooftop.
posted by Poolio at 8:56 PM on September 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

Jefferson Airplane was also shut down by the cops (as you can see in the video).
posted by Poolio at 9:00 PM on September 1, 2007

Contrary to what many people think...

"It's been done."
posted by good in a vacuum at 9:08 PM on September 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

Oops, link for that snark.
posted by good in a vacuum at 9:11 PM on September 1, 2007

I knew exactly what you were referring to, good in a vacuum. :)
posted by Poolio at 9:13 PM on September 1, 2007

Ah, the venerable rooftop concert.
posted by basicchannel at 9:20 PM on September 1, 2007

Thanks for the post, I hadn't heard about this. Very interesting. I'll take this opportunity to repost my current favorite Beatles film: Some Other Guy at the Cavern Club in 1962.
posted by marxchivist at 9:29 PM on September 1, 2007

Let It "A", Let It "B"...
posted by Poolio at 9:33 PM on September 1, 2007

Hey Bulldog - one of the best, most under-appreciated Beatles tunes, IMO.
posted by Poolio at 9:44 PM on September 1, 2007

I also recommend the 2006 documentary film The U.S. vs. John Lennon (Google vid)
posted by Poolio at 10:52 PM on September 1, 2007

Fascinating story about the cute little portable jukebox (dang, that's one clunky iPod!) and nifty documentary. Poignant story that John Midwinter, who'd bought the jukebox, died days after the documentary came out. aww.


That is one sweet film! John Lennon picked such intense nuggets.

Learned all kinds of things like:

*Little Richard thinks he invented rock n roll. He's such a lovable whackjob;
*that Gary "U.S." Bonds wasn't considered black and that's how he got his R&B songs, usually played on black radio stations onto pop (white radio) in the very early 60's.
*really got a better feel about the core influence of black pop music on the Beatles
*Learned about Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller being rock n roll songwriters;
*that Bobby Parker riff in Watch Your Step 1961was a primordial heavy metal guitar riff, wow.

Hilarious comment by Delbert McClinton (such a cool name) about learning the harp, that's it's like masturbation, if you fool around with it, you figure it out. A line delivered so deliciously deadpan.

Fantella Bass was the only woman on the jukebox. Seems sad there was only one.

Man, that Booker T & the MGs' Green Onion sizzles, panther-like energy. Tight funk.

Poignant to see Donovan, my childhood heart throb now in his 60's and so interesting to see how Lennon's music then went from rhythm and blues to 60's folk influence at an ashram.

In the end Lennon yearned for the days when he could play for fun and not feel burdened by social responsibility of his role as a pop icon/influential social statesman in a time during major social changes...but there it was, he couldn't go back to Be Bop a Lula days. I don't think anyone can...maybe that's part of becoming a mature adult.

The song list.
posted by nickyskye at 10:55 PM on September 1, 2007 [4 favorites]

Here is another woman that John liked Nickyskye, Esther Phillips - And I Love Him

My older sis had a Delbert McClinton lp and it looked like a wallet. An lp sized leather wallet, with a ring in the middle. When I was 10 or so, I didn't get the joke. (condom that had been in there forever, from lack of use;) Delbert may be the best white soul singer in the world. Worth seeking out.

And I don't play an instrument, unless you count the french horn in 7th grade band, but even I could hear that Bobby Parker riff in everything from the Beatles to Led Zeppelin.
posted by vronsky at 11:28 PM on September 1, 2007

And here is a great Donovan vid that flapjax at midnight linked in an earlier thread. Donovan and the gorgeous Bobbie Gentry - There is A Mountain.
posted by vronsky at 11:45 PM on September 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

Thanks for your generous gifts dear vronsky. In 1966, as a 12 year old girl living in a harsh city I hated then, cold, mean NYC, I loved Donovan's exquisite gentleness. His music was forlorn, quietly affectionate and contemplative, just right for me at the time.

There is a Mountain has been a Donovan zen fave of mine since it came out as a poetic summary of the stages of enlightenment: before, during, and after.

That Delbert McClinton rascal seems like a fun guy.
posted by nickyskye at 12:23 AM on September 2, 2007

Great film.

The South Bank Show is always good value -- probably the best arts show in the world, consistently for many, many years now. Certainly since the demise of BBC's Omnibus. Great also to see the Liverpool of my childhood, which Delbert McClinton describes as 'biblically grim'. I suppose, in those days, when we burned a lot of coal, and still had factories, and maybe twelve miles of working docks and a busy river, and the city was still scarred by hundreds of derelict buildings from the blitz, it might have looked grim to an outsider, but it was our city and we loved it. And though it isn't blackened any more, and the old court and cellar dwellings are all demolished, and people own expensive cars and have indoor bathrooms and hot water and other such luxuries, I still prefer it then.

I'm old enough to remember '63 and the Beatles breaking through. There were two hot bands that played Liverpool at the time. The Beatles and the Chants. The Chants played R&B covers and their own stuff, much like the Beatles. However, they were never part of any Merseybeat explosion, because they were a band of Liverpool black men, but they played the Cavern at the same time, and Liverpool's teenagers tended to support one or the other. I think the girls tended to prefer The Chants. The wilder, sluttier girls, anyway. I'm guessing that they had a pretty big influence on the music The Beatles covered, moving them on from Rock and Roll to R&B and soul.

You think Donovan dies his hair? Its inconceivable to me that somebody as old as Donovan wouldn't have a single grey hair in his head. That made me a bit sad.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:47 AM on September 2, 2007 [3 favorites]

South Bank Show is ITV, not BBC
posted by MrMerlot at 4:09 AM on September 2, 2007

Yep--Donovan has been terrific, but he always comes off just a little square and a little sad. The dyed hair, definitely.


The guy has got most of his senses intact, can still play, never wrote a song that didn't have pretty straight, but cool, vocals (a la Marc Bolan), and has got a history and repertoire that almost anybody else would die for. Plenty others have died for.

So have the dude hire a bad-ass Musical Director, and a crack band, force him to watch some old videos of his, and put together a serious tour. And then watch the world fall at his feet.

Why the fuck won't he play ball? Is he really that Scottish?

Can you imagine seeing 'Atlantis' now with serious singers and players, a crack ensemble? (Dear god, people actually pay to watch Polyphonic Spree.)

I can't even find a decent live 'Hurdy Gurdy'--imagine this played with some fire, by some young cats who know about the history of rock n' roll. It'd be shooting fish in a barrel.

No one's re-inventing the wheel here: this is how you do it. This.
posted by toma at 4:37 AM on September 2, 2007 [2 favorites]

So wait. Little Richard created Rock and Roll?

Of course no single person invented Rock and Roll, but Little Richard, who wrote and recorded Tutti Frutti in 1955, fer chrissakes, can probably come a lot closer to accurately making that claim than just about anyone else I can think of. Little Richard is fuckin' right when he says he hasn't gotten the credit he desrves.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:42 AM on September 2, 2007

Here's the missing "e" from that last comment.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:43 AM on September 2, 2007

I've written and deleted about 6 comments for this thread over the past 10 hours; nickyskye I thank you for saying most of what I wanted to say* much more elegantly than I could've.

Excellent link, I really enjoyed that doc.
*Donovan's not my childhood heart throb.
posted by carsonb at 4:49 AM on September 2, 2007

Continuing with the "who created Rock and Roll" issue...

The year 1955 also saw the release of Maybellene by Chuck Berry. Also Bo Diddley by, of course, Bo Diddley.

I'd say that you could make a fairly strong case for Rock and Roll being invented by those three people: Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and Little Richard, in the year 1955. Now, some might argue that this RnR thing started in the year 1954, with the release of Elvis Presley's That's Allright (Mama). It's worth noting, though, that Elvis didn't write that tune: it was by bluesman Arthur Crudup. Of course, Presley did give it a bit of the RnR. Not any more so, though, than, for example, folks like "jump" blues great Louis Jordan did with any number of similar blues-based tunes. Elvis actually gave it a bit more of a country-ish twang...

For my money, Rock and Roll was born in the year 1955, and it had three papas: Little Richard, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley. And Little Richard's tune rocked the hardest of all of 'em.

Any thoughts on this, MeFi music history buffs?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:26 AM on September 2, 2007

Rock and roll was "born" no later than 1951, if you insist on that kind of bogus Venus-on-the-half-shell origin myth. But there are plenty of candidates. Truth is, "rock and roll" was just a side effect of jump blues and r&b; it could have gone on to be another niche taste, soon forgotten, but for whatever combination of social, economic, and godknowswhat reasons, white people suddenly went nuts about it in the mid-'50s and then it was Katie bar the door.
posted by languagehat at 6:56 AM on September 2, 2007

Oh, and all props to the amazing Little Richard, who in no conceivable universe could get as much credit/respect/money as he feels he deserves, but if anyone has been slighted in most tellings of the rock and roll story, it's Ike Turner.
posted by languagehat at 6:58 AM on September 2, 2007

Actually, I don't insist on the Venus-on-the-half-shell myth (though I can definitely see replacing Venus in Botticelli's famous painting with Little Richard), I know that the origins of any style are far too diverse and multi-tentacled to really pin it down like I did: thought it'd be fun to engender some discussion on the topic, though. And languagehat came through!

And speaking of Ike Turner, kids, you can check out some of what the old man's been up to lately at his MySpace page!

And at this time I'd also like to call your attention to Little Richard Miller. He didn't invent Rock and Roll.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:16 AM on September 2, 2007


Great, now I'm imagining tentacle porn starring Little Richard. Thanks a lot.
posted by languagehat at 7:38 AM on September 2, 2007

That's still gonna be better than imagining it with Little Richard Miller, though, right?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:40 AM on September 2, 2007

Little Richard is the Al Gore of Rock and Roll
posted by wheelieman at 7:42 AM on September 2, 2007

MrMerlot writes "South Bank Show is ITV, not BBC"

I didn't say it was. I said it was the best arts show on TV since the BBC stopped commissioning Omnibus.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:47 AM on September 2, 2007

Little Richard is the Al Gore of Rock and Roll

I don't know about that, but Little Richard Miller is the Spiro Agnew of Kyrgystani Folk Music.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:59 AM on September 2, 2007

And while we might not have the Beatles any more, we've got the next best thing:

posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:01 AM on September 2, 2007

Gee willikers, why can't I spell and write posts here with decent grammar? *drat

So it's Green Onions, with an s on the end of onion. and "that's it's like masturbation" should read, that it's like masturbation. Not enough s here, too much s over there.

Anyone remember that dumb Eddie Murphy joke in Trading Places? There was a snail who dreamed of having a car with a big s sign on the top, so when he drove by people would say, "See the s car go." (escargot, it's French for snail).

Anyway...oh shit, yeah, Donovan must dye his hair. Probably a good chunk of the aging rockers/musicians do, male and female. He was never macho in any case. Or he's courting a much younger babe and doesn't want to look like an old fart. Guys do that sometimes. I like him much more au naturel in 2005, graying nicely. *sigh.

toma, I so agreed with what you said! Damn, "he always comes off just a little square and a little sad". Ouch, too true. He also seems a bit pedantic about his choices, like playing arpeggio style or singing solo. Still, I'll always be a flower in his garden. That's how I signed a birthday telegram to him when I was 13, a million years ago. "From a flower in your garden". aww.

Donovan could rake in the big bucks, fame and glory with a nicely produced show now. There was that one window when he was on a roll with Season of the Witch, otherwise he never got the megabucks success thing together. (Here he is in 1970, playing at, I think, the Piper Club in Rome). It's not really him though to succeed like that, he seemed to always have a deep anti-materialist streak. Or something. The Stones are awesome in their ability to crank out huge productions, even in 2007, without looking like they need their Geritol.

Another thing I liked about the documentary is how much it revealed about the other musicians looking at, touching the jukebox, how they related to the song choices, their way of commenting. Ended up admiring John Sebastian even more. what a nice guy. And damn, Sting, whose music I love, seems stiff, bristling and pretentious.

John Lennon's choices were consistently on the cutting edge, innovative with traditional roots.

Holy shit flapjax, you mean that amazing space cadet, Little Richard, did invent rock n roll??!!!

"tentacle porn starring Little Richard"

Ha! that's funny. He'd like that, no doubt. Can imagine his "Woooooo!" and those eye bulges.

I'll up the ante and say rock n roll started with boogie woogie, earlier, in the 40's.

"Three different songs with the title "Rock And Roll" were recorded in the late-1940's; one by Paul Bascomb in 1947, another by Wild Bill Moore in 1948, and yet another by Doles Dickens in 1949, and the phrase was in constant use in the lyrics of R&B songs of the time period. One such record where the phrase was repeated throughout the song was "Rock And Roll Blues," recorded in 1949 by Erline "Rock And Roll" Harris. The phrase was also included in advertisements for the film, Wabash Avenue, starring Betty Grable and Victor Mature. An ad for the movie that ran April 12, 1950 billed Ms. Grable as "...the first lady of rock and roll" and Wabash Avenue as "...the roaring street she rocked to fame". However, the movie takes place in 1893 so it can't refer to rock and roll music. The first mention of rock and roll as a musical style was in 1951 by disc jockey Alan Freed, and the term referred to rhythm and blues music..." Thus spake Wikipedia.
posted by nickyskye at 8:35 AM on September 2, 2007

Little Richard stole rock 'n' roll from Esquerita.
posted by jack_mo at 9:01 AM on September 2, 2007

Donovan, live in the station 2004 wfmu
posted by hortense at 9:29 AM on September 2, 2007

I remember reading that Paul McCartney idolized Little Richard when he was a teen, and did an awesome impersonation of him. Paul's dad thought Paul was just acting like a spastic, until he finally saw Little Richard on the "telly." There really was a person who behaved that way on stage!
posted by Oriole Adams at 9:54 AM on September 2, 2007

Many thanks to everyone posting Donovan links!

I love Donovan madly, but... what a pompous ass. His interview segment basically says, "I taught John Lennon everything about folk, oh and p.s. I knew how to do it before Dylan did." I love how he will deny having any real feud with Bob Dylan...and then take little jabs at him like that. His attitude is exactly the same in his autobiography, which I think is why so many people disliked it - you have to get past the pompous ass thing to enjoy it, and the pompous ass parts are pretty significant. I will put up with a lot of bs from Donovan, though, because I love him that much.
posted by naoko at 10:36 AM on September 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

naoko, So well said. Love is...putting up with the pompous ass factor? Watching Scorsese's No Direction Home: Bob Dylan, I was also really disappointed by Dylan's character, in spite of Dylan's profound impact on my teen years. It seems like the amber of the mid-1960's has prevented these men from evolving when it comes to talking about their pasts. They seem stuck in ancient rivalries, making somewhat pathetic and arthritic attempts to grandiosely mystify their roles in history. The reality was they were historically important, all of those kids, each in their own way.

It's actually nice to talk about Donovan here and lovely to see others like him. I feel like it's a confession to admit how much I liked him as a kid, and still like him, er, love him.

Esquerita. Never heard of him before. Cool new info.

Boogie Woogie Dream, 1944. Caldonia sung by a really young looking kid, Frank 'Sugar Chile' Robinson, from the film "No Leave No Love" 1946.

"A small, youthful-looking boy, he was touted as a seven-year-old "child prodigy", until one night in 1957 at Harlem's Apollo Theater, a fan sneaked into his room after the show to try to meet him and saw him smoking a cigar. It turned out that he wasn't seven years old but 17 years old. The incident ended his career."

In 1946, that would have made "Sugar Chile" 6 or 7 years old, most definitely a child genius.
posted by nickyskye at 11:47 AM on September 2, 2007

I thought Little Richard's comment (something like "I created rock n' roll, and I didn't really know what I was doing") could be interpreted as meaning he created rock n' roll songs, not necessarily the entire genre. You know, just like John Lennon created rock n' roll (songs).
posted by good in a vacuum at 1:24 PM on September 2, 2007

Enthralling documentary!

Origins, perhaps some ... bah, rock ... Vivaldi, Pachelbel.
posted by phoque at 4:56 AM on September 3, 2007

Anyway to buy all this on one CD?
posted by xammerboy at 8:11 AM on September 3, 2007

The "music" link in the fpp is to the cd on amazon xammerboy, but I can't vouch for it. Also check out ericbop's iTunes link upthread.

Delbert McClinton - Austin City Limits

(needs more cowbell)
posted by vronsky at 12:39 PM on September 3, 2007

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