No matter how fast you run, you can’t outrun the responsibilities of your young life. “Responsibility” is a dirty word in the vocabulary of many kids who think it can be postponed until adulthood. Parents are responsible for the feeding and rearing of their young, therefore there’s no need to accept it until they’ve flown the parental roost to make their own way in the cold, cruel world.
That’s not how it is, however.
“Responsibility is nothing more than loyalty, dependability and honesty to your family, friends or tribe,” is Sonny Bono’s interpretation. “Unreliable, irresponsible people of any age are losers. Sooner or later they cop out and let everyone down. Nobody can trust or respect them.”
“In these changing times, youth is questioning the morals, ideals and standards of the past,” says Bobby Vee. “That’s good. Teenagers today don’t just look and act different. They are different! I think responsibility and honesty in human relationships will survive the youth revolution.”
No tribe, team or clan can exist if every member does his own thing. Three Byrds were concerned more with their personal than the group welfare, and couldn’t submerge their own hangups for the good of the team. Now the Byrds are practically disbanded; only two of the original five are there to answer roll call now.
Davy Jones is a fine example of a good guy who puts aside his personal needs and desires out of loyalty to the Monkee menage. He would love to split and strike out on his own. Nobody around here has more untapped resources and unused talents than Davy. Sometimes he feels frustrated as a flea on a porcelain pooch. His contract with Screen Gems is long term, but any contract is only as good as the parties make it. Davy’s sense of loyalty and responsibility is what keeps him from copping out.
What does a public figure, an actor or entertainer owe his public? A lady editor once scolded Humphrey Bogart for failure to cooperate with the fan magazines and accept his “responsibility to the fans.”
“I don’t owe the public anything except a good performance,” Bogey snorted.
A good performance is what some pop headliners don’t give concert goers out there where you are. They don’t half try to present a complete show. On stage for about half an hour they fake through a few numbers. As one explained to us: “Our fans are familiar with our music. They pay to see us, so why should we knock ourselves out?” Such cynicism is sickening.
There was a revealing dialogue of conflicting viewpoints when Mick Jagger went before the English judge, Lord Parker, on that pep pill rap last year.
“Whether you like it or not,” the lord judge pronounced, “you carry a great responsibility because you are an idol to a large number of people.”
“Rubbish!” snapped Mick later—out of earshot of the judge. “In private life my responsibility is only to myself. Responsibility for these sensational newspaper stories is on the gentlemen of the press who publish lurid details of a person’s private life.”
There are more folk singers today than there are folks, so it seems. It takes less talent to be a self-styled folk singer than any other kind of singing being, but a true folk star is what is rare. You don’t see many on the star roster.
Janis Ian, Joan Baez, Tim Buckley, Judy Collins and Bobbie Gentry are stereotypes. Most minstrels who started in folk—Bob Dylan, Mamas and Papas and Glen Campbell, for instance—had to expand their style, range and repertoire.
Folklorist Glen Campbell, seventh son of a seventh son of a farm family in Delight, Arkansas, later in rural Texas, floundered in folk from his 6th to his 20th year. He migrated to California where the action is, recorded batches of disks on inky-dink labels which nobody bought. Then he began to tinker with other types of tunes from country-western to hot rock. For eating money Glen played guitar for Elvis Presley, Sonny and Cher, Rick Nelson and Phil Spector recording sessions, and toured with the Beach Boys after Brian Wilson quit and before Bruce Johnston joined.
During these months when we knew him best Glen impressed us as a good-looking, good-natured, easy-going lazy dude whose favorite pasttimes were girl chasing, gin rummy playing and sleeping. He slept a lot. What changed him from an amiable but aimless tomcat to a heavy happening tiger was marriage and fatherhood.
Glen’s first major musical breakthrough was By The Time I Get To Phoenix, written by Johnny Rivers, but he now has 50 self-writ songs ready to etch on the spinning wax. Pranks, practical jokes and tricks enliven long oft-boring hours on road tours by traveling musicmen. Anything for a laugh on somebody else.
In Toronto, Canada, at the tail end of a lengthy concert safari, the Standells were sitting around the hotel room with no place to go and nothing to do.
Jon Fleck, bassist, a health food addict, finished drinking a quart of prune juice and announced that he was too tired to sit around, stay awake, and do nothing. He said goodnight. The guys remembered a bag of itching powder they’d bought in a magic store. Dick Dodd got Jon out of his room on some pretext long enough for Larry Tamblyn and Tony Valentino to sprinkle the powder between the sheets of Jon’s bed.
One hour later to be exact Jon ran roaring out of his room and pounded on their door which was locked. The fellows were laughing so hard they didn’t get to the door in time before the usually mild Jon went wild, charged the door like a bull and broke it in half. The three wrassled him into the shower to cool him down. To this day Jon starts scratching when someone reminds him of the ha-ha.
The musicians spurt their earsplitting beatsongs through the hopped-up amplifiers on the unguarded flanks of the bandstand. On the dancefloor wall-to-wall kids squirm, wrench, shudder, shake, jump and jerk in dancing mania. Sweat streams down their faces and soaks their threads. They become sightless, senseless and unconscious of everything but the relentless beat of the drums, the rhythms of the electric guitars and the hoarse voices of the songmen…
That was three years ago, two years ago, even a year ago, but not now. Gone are the fabulous years of the slop, mashed potatoes, surfer’s stomp, monkey, bird, fly, roach, frug, swim and other spin-off variations of the Watusi. The life of the boogaloo was shorter than a snit.
“Teen-agers are not coming to hops to dance nowadays,” complained Jerry McGeorge, bass plunker of the H.P. Lovecraft. “They come to watch; they want to be entertained. Sometimes 300 people stand in front of the stage all night. They never move! They don’t dance! They just look and listen.”
You see it at the Cheetah, Magic Mushroom, Whiskee-a-Go-Go, Hullabaloo in L.A., the famous Fillmore and Avalon in S.F., and other Temples of Terpsichore. When a favorite group takes the stage or bandstand, the audience merely squats on the floor or anywhere, motionless, with expressionless faces, like cast-iron Buddhas.
Dedicated danceniks who freak out to the pounding beat are welcomed to all the clubs and discos free of charge because they add life and excitement to the scene. Dance is dormant but not dead; maybe it’s waiting a new kind of craze not yet invented.
Micky Dolenz is a very relaxed cat… er… Monkee. He flows with the happening moment and rarely lets negative thoughts rattle around in his head. One thing that turns him off is the attitude of some snob slobs.
“I know when I go out on the Sunset Strip a lot of people just run down that Plastic Monkee thing in their heads,” he says sadly.
“The Monkees are idolized by junior teens and mocked by senior teens who have acquired a veneer of phony sophistication. Neutral territory is very tiny.”
The later Monkeesongs are winning the sincere praises of many top-ranking musicritics.
When Linda Ronstadt, winsome warbler of the Stone Poneys, received her first royalty check of $1,000 from Capitol Records, she disappeared for a week. Her discoverer and producer, Nick Venet, nearly lost his mind. What should he do, file a missing persons report? He left messages with her answering service and friends to call him at once about an upcoming recording session. On the hour on the date of the session, Linda walked into the studio, ready to sing, wondering what all the fuss was about.
Recording artists don’t usually see a dime until three to six months after the disk is released. A songman may have a No. 1 hit already yet be too broke to get a haircut or steak. When the checks start rolling in, he may soon have a lot more money than he needs—but not as much as he wants.
Those “Golden Hits,” “Greatest Hits” or “Best Of” albums bring bonus bread to the hit-makers, but not always pleasure.
“The Hollies Greatest Hits” is where we were at three years ago and it embarrasses us now,” says Hollies leader Graham Nash. “Our latest, Butterfly, is far and away the best we’ve ever done.”
The Turtles Golden Hits is museum stuff now, according to Howard Kaylan, the Big-T’s spokesman. “We couldn’t record a song like It Ain’t Me Babe now and get into it seriously. It’s not a bad song by any means but it’s badly dated. The Turtles are changing our music, not only to fit the times but also to fit where our heads are now.”
Brian Wilson is looking for vocalists and bands to produce on the Brothers label, owned by the Beach Boys. Dino, Desi and Billy tried to switch to Brothers but couldn’t get away from Reprise. Meanwhile Brian has put together a new trio of songsters, Corey Wells, Chuck Rondell and Danny Hutton, on a harmony trip, Time To Get Alone.
I heard it through the grapevine: All you need is love!