Friday, November 10, 2023

Insight: Rock n’ Roll everlasting

By Ed Pierce
Managing Editor

Time marches on for devoted fans of the rock n’ roll music genre, that is, unless you’re a fan of the Rolling Stones or The Beatles. Both the Stones and The Fab Four are back on the charts with new music this month and paying no mind to the fact that the heyday of both legendary bands from Great Britain was nearly 60 years ago.

In February 1965, I was in seventh grade and was waiting for the school bus when a classmate walked up to me and asked me what I thought of the Rolling Stones. I informed him I had never heard of them, and he said if I had $3, he’d sell me their “12x5” record album. The next day I gave him $3 in quarters that I had been saving for a Hardy Boys book and he handed me a paper sleeve containing the vinyl album without its album cover.

After listening to the album, I liked the song “Time is on my Side” the most on the album and it made me want to know more about Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts, and Brian Jones of the Stones.

From listening at night to my AM transistor radio, I knew who The Beatles were. I saw their record albums for sale at Woolworth’s but never had enough money to purchase one. That all changed once I began my paper route on my 13th birthday in 1966 and I had limited cash of my own, usually in the range of $8 to $12 a week, to spend or save.

After hearing many of the songs by The Beatles on their “Rubber Soul” album and knowing the words to the songs by heart, I chose to make “Rubber Soul” the first album by Beatles’ members John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr that I would add to my growing music collection that also included “Turn, Turn, Turn” by The Byrds, and “Let’s All Sing With The Chipmunks” by Alvin and The Chipmunks.

The “Rubber Soul” album happens to be among my all-time favorites and features such classic songs as “Norwegian Wood,” and “In My Life” and “Michelle.” My personal favorites on that album are “Girl” and “I’m Looking Through You.”

My fascination with The Beatles began in February 1964 when my father wouldn’t let me watch their appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on television because he disapproved of their long hairstyles. To make it up to me, he offered a few weeks later to let me watch a rival band to The Beatles called The Dave Clark Five when they appeared on Ed Sullivan’s program.

By the time I was a sophomore in high school in September 1968, my record collection was thriving and filled with quite a few Rolling Stones and Beatles albums. When The Beatles decided to go their separate ways following the “Let it Be” album in 1970, I clung to the hope that someday the group would reunite for more music. At a college fraternity party in December 1972, I remember the crowd dancing to every song from the “Hot Rocks 1964-1971” album by the Rolling Stones.

I was watching a Monday Night Football game in December 1980 when sportscaster Howard Cosell announced to viewers that John Lennon had been shot and killed outside his apartment building in New York City. I was devastated and thought that the Beatles reunion would now certainly never happen.

Just a year later in December 1981, I attended a Rolling Stones concert in Tempe, Arizona and I thought that it might be one of their last shows ever in America. Was I ever wrong about that notion and about The Beatles.

In 1994, Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, gave the surviving members of The Beatles three tapes of songs John had written before his death. Using John’s vocals, two of the songs were recorded by McCartney, Harrison and Starr in 1995 and released as Beatles’ singles “Real Love” and “Free As A Bird.” But the third cassette’s quality was bad, and they abandoned the idea of trying to record it.

The Rolling Stones have kept on recording and touring and now after more than 70 years of playing together and despite the deaths of Brian Jones and Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood joining the band in 1976, they continue to make music, releasing a new album in October called “Hackney Diamonds” which is topping the music charts worldwide. Now in their 80s, Jagger, Richards and Wood will embark on a new tour promoting the album early next year.

As for The Beatles, McCartney never forgot about that remaining cassette tape from Lennon. Back in 1995, Harrison had laid down some guitar tracks for the song, but he died in 2001. Harnessing 2023 technology, John’s voice was finally able to be extracted crystal clear from the tape and McCartney and Starr were able to finish recording “Now and Then,” featuring Lennon’s vocals and Harrison’s unmistakable guitar performance. It was released last week.

Everything old is new again is truly more than just an expression. When it comes to the Rolling Stones and The Beatles, it’s a fact.

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