Category Archives: Shea Stadium

#204 – I Got You Babe

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#204 – I Got You Babe by Sonny & Cher

– It was all about the look when this duo hit the pop scene in 1965. Yes, they had a very catchy number one pop song with I Got You Babe, but the look was a publicist dream and what landed them not only on the covers of teen magazines, but also featured in mainstream newspapers and magazines.

Their attention grabbing look – or in showbiz terms, hook – happened because no one else looked like Sonny and Cher.

In this era of The British Invasion, if someone wasn’t tuned-in to the pop music scene (think older generation or too young to really know or care), it was easy to confuse one group with another. The look for most of the British groups included mop top hair, matching suits, Beatle boots and guitars.

I’m pretty sure even my dad, who was cool enough to take me to a Beatles concert in 1966, had a hard time figuring out what group I was watching on The Ed Sullivan Show, Shindig or Hullabaloo. It could the The Hollies, Herman’s Hermits or The Animals. Was that Peter and Gordon or Chad and Jeremy? A lot of adults weren’t exactly sure.

If you lived through it – you know what I’m talking about.

Borscht Belt comics (think Jackie Mason, Milton Berle and Jack E. Leonard) and television hosts (think Dean Martin introducing The Rolling Stones on The Hollywood Palace TV show) made jokes about all of the pop stars looking alike. They couldn’t tell one group from another and they all made the same “noise.”

Then they got a look at Sonny & Cher.

sonny-and-cher

They got the look!

I’ll go ahead and call them the first hippies, even though the term (derived from being hip or hep in the 1940’s) hadn’t even been used to define the counterculture when I Got You Babe was topping the music charts in August 1965. Sonny’s hair was shaggier than even The Stones or The Kinks (noted for being shaggier than the combed and blown-dried Beatles) and Cher fit the Carnaby Street look with bangs to her eyes and straight hair over her shoulders. But the look went way beyond that.

The first time I remember seeing bellbottoms, other than my dad’s Navy uniform or in WW2 movies, was either in a photo or television appearance by Sonny & Cher. There were no suits or “party dresses” that talent managers convinced their acts to wear to attract a larger audience (think Brian Epstein getting The Beatles out of their leather gear). They wore fuzzy sheep wool vests, striped pullover shirts, silky bellbottoms, wide belts and whatever other accessories you might find wandering around thrift shops and beach shacks in Southern California.

Their outfits were certainly nothing we would ever find in a department store in the Midwest.

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The story behind their greatest concert and making the TV special

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For comics their names became the punch lines. For adults they could finally pick out Sonny & Cher from the other acts. And for boomers, they signaled a new trend. Within two years the newly-named hippies took S&C’s look and added on.

I Got You Babe had the necessary music and lyric hooks to compete with The British Invasion and the oncoming American groups like The Lovin’ Spoonful and The Byrds. The song was constantly on the radio during the late summer of 1965 and impossible to ignore. And once it was in your head, it stayed there for awhile, which is how it landed on this Dream Song List on April 21st. I hadn’t heard it in a long time so it’s one of the subliminal tunes and has made a lasting impression.

It also has a lasting memory…

For a week in August 1965 my 14-year old cousin Johnny and I “camped out” in a large tent my dad’s cousin had set up for us in the backyard of his house in Sandusky, Ohio. I’ve been fortunate because most of my relatives are “colorful” people. That’s a term of endearment for me. I’ve always enjoyed being around people who are different, adventurous, opinionated, and in some ways a bit “crazy.” It seems my family has handed down those traits through generations, which makes reminiscing or eventually confessing to past discretions just as funny as a night in a comedy club.

Sign here please!

Sign here please!

I was only 12 years old and Cousins Carl and wife Melba were older than my parents – and at the top of my list when it came to “colorful.” I can’t remember ever being bored or not laughing when they were around. Their daughter and my cousin Mimi was a Rockette at Radio City Music Hall in New York, which always added more “colors” to our get-togethers. If you’ve read my book The Beatles At Shea Stadium, Mimi had dinner with The Beatles the night before the concert in The Rainbow Room at the top of 30 Rockefeller Center.

We were at their house in Sandusky when she told me the story and gave me Ringo’s autograph on the back of a Rockette rehearsal schedule.

Carl had set up a huge canvas tent in their backyard. I noted it as “camping out” earlier because it was nothing like that in reality. Yeah, Johnny and I slept in sleeping bags on army cots, but we had electricity through an extension cord plugged into the house and full use of the kitchen, bathroom, record player and television. There was no “roughing it” when we “camped out.”

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Since I don’t have an older brother, John (we’ll drop the “ny” for now since we’re both a few decades older) was given that position in my mind. Our families are close and I can’t remember a Christmas night we didn’t spend together while growing up. And since we only lived a couple miles from each other (and still do) we shared many adventures. One includes the Beatles concert mentioned earlier.

John taught me the fine art of being an “all-nighter.” We’d have sleepovers at each other’s houses, which included mini “vacations” each summer. At those events bedtime was nonexistent. Parents would go to sleep and we’d sit up playing board games and watching old black and white movies until the channels signed off. There was no such thing as 24-hour television in the mid-60’s and it took years of mental reprogramming to not think The National Anthem ended with an electronic signal and TV test pattern.

To understand what I’m talking about, here’s a video of a channel sign-off from the 60’s.

In the summer these all-nighters would be outdoor adventures. Either walking or riding our bikes we could be cruising through our hometown anytime between midnight and dawn. In the 1960’s it was safe and that’s undoubtedly why I still find the nighttime much more interesting and exciting. I’ve never reprogrammed from that mental state and there’s a good chance it will be closer to sun-up than sundown when I post these ramblings.

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Cedar Point postcard

But we didn’t limit ourselves to nocturnal travels. One great adventure included taking a ferry from downtown Sandusky to the world famous “roller coast” of Cedar Point Amusement park. We stayed until closing and while taking the last ferry back we were caught in the middle of a loud and wild, Lake Erie wind-blown thunderstorm. I still remember the lightening and heavy rain as the large boat rocked through the waves. But we didn’t see it as any big deal since we grew up on the lake and after walking the couple miles through the damp darkness to Carl’s tent we spent a few more hours playing Monopoly under electric candlelight and listening to AM Top 40 radio.

And speaking of Cedar Point, the next year John and I finagled our way into a Dick Clark television special and rode go-carts with Chad and Jeremy for a couple hours.

But since that duo doesn’t finagle their way onto this Dream Song List until later, I’ll save the story for now.

During one of our daylight treks we walked a few miles to a shopping center where I bought the LP The Early Beatles on Capitol Records. It was the same as Introducing The Beatles on VeeJay Records, which I’d had since February 1964. But as a dedicated fan I needed this version for my collection.

sonny and cher fur

I got fur babe!

I also picked up I Got You Babe. The look may have caught my attention at first, but the catchy tune got my money. And since I’d had every song on the “latest” Beatles album memorized for a year and a half (Capitol Records also had a way of getting our money), it was good to have something actually new.

“They say we’re young and we don’t know…”

That first lyric by Sonny Bono says a lot to the Baby Boomer Generation. But my best memory is that we were still very young when I Got You Babe came out – and were in the process of learning. It brings back the first real feelings of freedom and independence that continued to grow during our teenage years. Sonny & Cher never made an impact on our generation like The Beatles and The Stones, but at this moment in 1965 they had the look and the sound of being different. And that’s a big part of how many of us remember the 1960’s.

Here’s a video of Sonny & Cher performing I Got You Babe from 1965…

 

 

To purchase The Best of Sonny & Cher with I Got You Babe visit Amazon.com

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Dave Schwensen is The Classic Rocker and author of The Beatles At Shea Stadium and The Beatles In Cleveland. Visit Dave’s author page on Amazon.com.

Copyright 2017 – North Shore Publishing

#205 – She’s A Rainbow

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#205 – She’s A Rainbow by The Rolling Stones

Satanic Majesties Cover – Was it just me, or did everyone know the album Their Satanic Majesties Request was already outdated when it was released in December 1967? I don’t mean that as any kind of anti-Stones thing since I’m a huge fan of the group. But seriously, the psychedelic Summer Of Love had hit auto drive with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club band more than six months earlier and by Christmas shopping season boomers were coasting into the pre-Woodstock era.

The pop/rock music scene was all over the place as we entered 1968 and The Stones would play a major role as they morphed into “The Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band In The World,” according to Mick Jagger’s self-proclaiming introduction kicking off one of the greatest live albums of all time, Get Yer Ya Ya’s Out. But with this release at the end of 1967 they were setting themselves up to have their rock and roll guitar licks thrown back in their faces by The Who, The Doors, Cream, Iron Butterfly and Jimi Hendrix. I didn’t even mention The Beatles since they were in a class by themselves. They hit their own speed bump with Magical Mystery Tour as their Christmas product that year, but they were the ones that set the standard with Sgt. Pepper in the first place. They could be excused even when the follow-up LP (in the U.S.) filled up side two with months old psychedelia (Strawberry Fields Forever) but also included future mega classics like I Am The Walrus and Fool On The Hill.

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Back on track

Lucky for all of us The Stones got back on track in May 1968 with Jumpin’ Jack Flash. But at the tail end of Flower Power they gave us Their Satanic Majesties Request with She’s A Rainbow. I’m not going to say it’s a bad song, but along with the album it doesn’t go down as one of the band’s highest moments.

On second thought, it was probably the result of some higher moments. One of the reasons the album didn’t make it into the actual soundtrack of The Summer Of Love was because of the group’s various drug busts, court appearances and jail time. Guess you could say the legal itinerary disrupted their scheduled recording dates and deadlines.

I remember seeing the album in stores that winter and picked it up only to watch the 3D photo on the cover. When you moved it around The Stones’ heads would turn. That was cool for a couple times, but then just as boring as any child’s game and definitely not as cool as the Sgt. Pepper cover.

We also heard the music that way.

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The Beatles At Shea Stadium

The story behind their greatest concert and making the TV special

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The album scored on the charts, but dropped out of sight fast. I never met anyone in my life that actually owned a copy until I went to college years later. One of my best pals was a Stones freak and owned every album, including the early ones before Satisfaction and Get Off My Cloud pushed them ahead of the other British Invasion acts, but still second tier to The Beatles. I wrote earlier about a road trip I made with college pals from Northern Ohio to New Orleans, through Texas and back in three days with Satanic Majesties as one of our few 8-tracks. We listened way more than a few times and dug it, but after that weekend as a captive audience in a Vega station wagon, my immediate reaction was similar to the music charts.

The album had been a hit for a few days and then done and gone. But not forgotten…

She’s A Rainbow joined this Dream Song List on April 17th. And as mentioned above, I’m a big Stones fan so – of course – I own a copy (but not the album). I had just heard it the day before, so this one goes into the recent memory list.

Steel Wheels Tour

Steel Wheels Tour

Though She’s A Rainbow is probably the best known song from the album, I rank 2000 Light Years From Home as one of my favorite all-time Rolling Stones songs. So it was a thrill to see them perform it live…

After about a decade of hard feelings between Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, The Stones regrouped for a new album and tour in 1989 both titled Steel Wheels. Since their solo careers had not reached the same heights as The Stones you could say they were watching each other’s backs (and bank accounts).

I was living in New York City and when it was announced they would play the legendary Shea Stadium not once or twice – but for six concerts – my pals and I joined forces to score tickets. In those ancient times of rock and roll there were no online sales. You went to the nearest Ticketmaster in a neighborhood record store and hoped the line moved fast enough to purchase seats before all the outlets working in combination sold-out.

After the first two concerts on October 10 and 11, they would play four shows in Los Angeles and then back to Shea for four more. With a few of us working Ticketmaster outlets in Manhattan and Queens, we grabbed blocks of seats for three Shea Stadium shows.

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Of course every song at a Stones concert is a highlight and these shows were like a greatest hits rundown. Steel Wheels was a popular LP, so even when they played the new songs we listened. Based on Stones’ concerts I had seen in 1972 and 1975 I never would’ve expected a song from Their Satanic Majesties Request. So when 2000 Light Years From Home was played between Paint It Black and Sympathy For The Devil it really came out of nowhere. Wait… I’ll rephrase that.

With the fog and strobe lighting stage effects it could’ve been from outer space. It was a very psychedelic musical and visual trip back to 1967. All that was missing was a drug bust.

Here’s a video of the live version from the Steel Wheels Tour with added 3D effects.

When The Rolling Stones end a show, no one working today outside of Paul McCartney has a catalog of rock standards that can match. Following Sympathy For The Devil they worked the crowd into a frenzy with Gimme Shelter, It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll, Brown Sugar, Satisfaction and (encore) Jumpin’ Jack Flash.

Are you kidding me?? My head almost exploded just typing out the titles of those songs. Put those on your playlist one after another and for dedicated Classic Rockers it’s impossible to sit still.

And it was also impossible to sit still at Shea Stadium in 1989.

For two of the concerts we were in the middle (mezzanine) section. But for one of those classic rock ‘n’ roll nights we were in the upper deck facing the stage. And anyone that’s ever been in the upper deck of a stadium during an important sporting event or rock concert knows, the steel structures act differently in that higher atmosphere.

rolling-stones-1989

Know how to close!

Once The Stones started bringing in the big guns to close the concert, everyone was on their feet and acting like they were Jumping’ Jack Flash. The effect made the upper deck bounce up and down like we were standing on the end of a diving board.

I knew what it was like to stand on the end of a diving board, but I had never felt this effect in the upper deck of a huge baseball stadium until that night. It was really intense, but none of us were about to sit down. But since we were seriously bouncing around so much it was hard to stay balanced and I remember my best pal Chris grabbing onto the back of my jacket to keep me from disaster. I’d grab my girlfriend (at the time) and we all felt like we were on an amusement part ride.

Honestly, I was glad he grabbed me. A few times it felt like we’d rock ‘n’ roll over the railing.

After the concert we were walking to catch the train back to Manhattan and I thanked him for hanging onto me. Then I asked why he would’ve saved me but left my girlfriend (at the time) to bounce around on this major league scale trampoline. “Because I can’t stand her,” he said. We laughed, but as guys we both knew he wasn’t lying.

When she dumped me a few months later (she wanted a wedding ring for Christmas and I probably gave her a Stones album) I knew what he meant. She was gone but we were still buddies. Sort of like Mick and Keith, it was good to know he had my back.

It doesn’t seem The Rolling Stones ever made an “official” music video for She’s A Rainbow.

I searched around online and found one that’s a bit strange, it’s labeled “1966” (release wasn’t until December 1967), but includes the song with video snippets from the band’s entire career. Included are shots of Brian Jones who was still the band’s master musician at this point, but would soon be spiraling out of control and eventually, out of the band and out of this world.

 

To purchase Their Satanic Majesties Request with She’s A Rainbow and 2000 Light Years From Home – which are also both on a lot of Rolling Stones compilation releases – visit Amazon.com

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Dave Schwensen is The Classic Rocker and author of The Beatles At Shea Stadium and The Beatles In Cleveland. Visit Dave’s author page on Amazon.com.

Copyright 2016 – North Shore Publishing