The legendary Elvis Presley is showing signs of being restless and wanting to split his deep dark rut and join the world again.
When he faced that flipping audience of real live girls on his recent NBC-TV Special, the Grand Old Man of Rock began to realize that he’s been missing most of the thrills and satisfactions of being an entertainer during the past 12 years.
Working behind locked doors of movie and recording studios with spectators barred had bored him bad and bent his psych out of shape.
Last October he opened his eyes and took a long look at what he is and where his head’s at: A pioneer of popsong but on the wrong side of 30, rich and famous but sunk in a work rut as deep as the Grand Canyon, threatened with tired blood, clogged pores and nagging backache, and sitting in a rocking chair watching TV. sports, serials and old movies with his wife and kid.
A girl of 14 was only two years old when Elvis performed his last show before a live audience, the Honolulu premiere of his film, Blue Hawaii. The teen-agers of Now saw him as a relic of rock’s stone age. These thoughts shook him up and he agreed to do the telly special to find out how he rated with the current kidset. He found out. They dug. Man, he really socked it to ’em that night and the audience saw him as he used to be, an earthy, gutsy, funky singer and gee-tar man whose voice, looks and personality exuded magic and sex appeal.
People who thought he’d become a stuck-up snob were tickled to hear him laugh at himself—the way he curled his upperlip, hooded his eyes, spun his hips and shocked the squares back in 1954–60 when he earned the name, “Elvis the Pelvis.” In Miami, he remembered, the fuzz stood at the foot of the stage with cameras to record his “obscene” hip-swivels and take him to the local jailhouse. Network cameramen on a Ed Sullivan show were ordered not to photograph guest star Presley’s body below his rib cage. Yeah, the times they are a-changin’.
Teen-age audience response blew the Presley mind, turned him on and steamed him up so high he told Colonel Tom Parker that he wants a road tour in the summertime of ’69.
The rockin’ Rolling Stones need the bread, have booked concerts in 27 U.S. cities between March 21 and May 3, followed by tours to Japan, Australia and European continental capitals. Bob Dylan and the Beatles may travel the concert circuit again this summer, though no dates are yet set.
Music trade mags quote Paul and George as saying the Beatles wouldn’t mind playing several charity performances in England and the United States. That would suit George Harrison’s Pattie to a T.
“I wish the Beatles would do more for the poor,” she said. “They ought to be happy to perform a few benefit concerts for people who need help.”
We acclaim and applaud the Jefferson Airplane for giving more free shows and charity concerts than any other top-ranking music group. The Gracie Slick chick and Marty Balin’s hairy crew have loaded their equipment and an electric generator on flatbed trucks and driven around the streets and slums playing for the little brown and black people. They make it to the love-ins and happenings where the hippie tribes gather. These are free shows; full prices are charged at benefits with proceeds earmarked for local charities. They can’t stand the thought that poor kids without ticket money shouldn’t be allowed to hear them.
“It’s part of our philosophy to give benefits and free shows,” explained Marty. “Our regular gigs at top prices are sell-outs but we don’t want to be limited to commercialism. Playing for pleasure instead of bread is a gas.”
This attitude is too weird for many establishment straights to understand or believe. City cops have chased them out of parks and off the streets. There being no profit in free shows, promoters deny them the use of halls.
On their recent visit to the United Kingdom across the Big Pond, the Jefferson Airplane planned to contribute two free benefit bashes. In Edinbergh, Scotland, however, the City Council refused to let them play-for-free at Princes Street Gardens and contribute 100 per cent of the take to local charities. Here’s a good place to stick in a plug for another rock group, the Pacific Gas and Electric who do free dates for any helpful cause: Their LP, Get On With It Blues (Power P-701) is finger-lickin’ good.
Has the nature of the human shemale changed so much since mommy was a kiddie? Maybe it has and maybe it hasn’t. Anyhow—
A bunch of us were lipping about wild young girls mauling, manhandling and messing up their music idols and movie stars.
One of the girls pointed to her head and said, “I got that scar, look at it, when I was a baby. My father was carrying me home in his arms when a mob of movie fans recognized him and began screeching, cackling, clawing and tearing him to pieces. In the melee I was thrown to the pavement on my head and stomped under the feet of those star-crazed women. I’m lucky I’m alive, I guess.”
The girl with the scar was Colleen Lanza, daughter of Mario Lanza (1921–1959), opera tenor-movie actor whose memory is still shiny bright for many old dolls. Colleen, 18, is now a budding disk queen with huge brown eyes, waist-length raven hair, mini-micro frocks and creamy voice.
An earlier tenor, Enrico Caruso could sustain a certain high shrill vocal note that would create vibrations powerful enough to shatter a drinking glass. When the late Hedda Hopper told dinner guests she’d seen him do the trick, Lanza bragged that if Caruso could do it so could he. A glass was set on the table in plain sight.
Lanza breathed in and blasted out a powerful piercing note that pained the ears and caused the glass to jiggle dance on the table. It didn’t break—Instead a complete set of expensive, Florentine crystal goblets in a nearby China cabinet shattered, disintegrating into a trillion tiny shards and slivers.
The Blue Cheer, a San Francisco trio with two well-sell albums. (Vincebus Eruptum and Outsideinside) perpetrate the loudest (if not the worst) noises heard in the Realm of Rock.
Lanza’s voice in an enclosed room would measure about 70 decibels, the scientific measurement of sound, and rock bands such as the Monkees and Doors register about 110 decibels at a distance of six feet. And here come de Blue Cheer blasting up to 125 decibels into nearby eardrums. They don’t actually sing and instrumentalize all that loud, what they do do is use six to eight power-packed electronic amplifier-speaker combinations at full volume, enough to numb the brain and assault the hearing apparatuses of 8 to 10,000 listeners in a vast auditorium.
Otologists (“ear doctors” in your Funk and Wagnalls) predict that pop musicians and their constant listeners are quite likely to be deaf at the age of 40. Huh? Eh what?
Le Monkees are keen to do their own fling, individually as well as grouply. Now that they have time to spare they don’t want to throw it all away on illness, idleness and frivolity. Peter, Mike and Micky want to become separate identity movie and music stars, and Davy is reading scripts for stage shows.
While school and job bosses fight it, hair is still glorified in song as in the musical monster hit, Hair—“Long, beautiful, gleaming, steaming, flaxen, waxen, curly, fuzzy, snaggy, shaggy, ratty, matty, oily, greasy, fleecy down-to-there hair, hair like Jesus wore it, hallelujah, I adore it, hair…”
Beards are big all over. The lushest crops of alfalfa west of the Missipp are growing on the grinny faces of Dennis Wilson and Mike Love, Beach Boys; Paul Simon, S & Garfunkel; Peter Tork, Monkees; Felix Cavaliere, Rascals; Pig Pen McKernon, Grateful Dead; Bob Hite, Canned Heat; and producer Lou Adler.
The winds of change are blowing strong in rural America, says Gary Puckett, 12-star general of the Union Gap troop.
Two years ago on their first coast-to-coast tour, Gary and the Gap were being insulted, cussed out and sometimes attacked physically when they walked the streets in conservative midwest and backward southern towns.
“The hostility was unbelievable,” Gary says. “Only the young girls understood that our long hair, beards and mod clothes had nothing to do with our political views or personal habits. Other people associated our looks with war protesters, draft dodgers and drug addicts. Young guys tried to pick fights with us. Parents with sons in Viet Nam laid curses on us.
“These attitudes have changed. The anti-war sentiment is heavy. There can’t be many hawks in the boondocks today. Small towners have become friendly. Young guys don’t want to be drafted and sent to Asia, and older people want their sons and relatives home now.”
The English Cream, a trio who emerged overground in 1968 after two years underground, is only the second hard rock group to earn a platinum record for an LP sale above $2,000,000.00. Wheels of Fire which was slammed, whammed and rammed by some self-important smart-alec critics, was the winner.
Neil Diamond (Sunday Sun) echoed our sentiments: “I really hate so-called rock music critics who dissect songs that were meant to please the ear of 14-year-old kids in Wichita. These guys sound like someone trying to explain a joke after it’s over. Why bother?”
These croaking clowns are able to dissect, analyze and intellectualize any beautiful song or poem or story until it’s dead. In music the heart and soul should rule the head.
One more crisis and another siege of chaos left Roger McGuinn as the sole survivor of the original high-flying Byrds.
As soon as the neato Nitty Gritty Dirt Band found a word to rhyme with harmonica, they wrote a song, Fat Boys Can Make It In Santa Monica.
Eric Burdon is abandoning the Animals in Hollywood to write a movie script in which he can play the starring role.
“Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” What’s-his-name said that. You tell ’em, kid!