Bob Dylan finished recording one of the most pivotal songs of his career, Like a Rolling Stone, 58 years ago today
Bob Dylan in the studio recording “Like a Rolling Stone,” 1965
Photo by CBS News
By the spring of 1965, Bob Dylan's presence in the world of music was beginning to be felt well outside the boundaries of his nominal genre.
Within the world of folk music, he had been hailed as a hero for several years already, but now his music was capturing the attention and influencing the direction of artists like the Byrds, the Beatles and even a young Stevie Wonder.
With Dylan as a direct inspiration, popular music was about to change its direction, but so was Dylan himself.
On June 16, 1965 — 58 years ago today — on their second day of recording at Columbia Records' Studio A in Manhattan, he and a band featuring electric guitars and an organ laid down the master take of the song that would announce that change: "Like A Rolling Stone."
It would prove to be "folksinger" Bob Dylan's magnum opus and, arguably, the greatest rock and roll record of all time. It was the fourth of 11 takes that day that yielded the six-minute-and-34-second recording that very nearly didn't become a revolutionary hit single.
Returning to the CBS studios to hear "Like A Rolling Stone" several days after the recording session, Dylan and his manager, Albert Grossman, were thrilled by what they heard, but the sales and marketing staff of Columbia Records — the gatekeepers who decided what songs would and wouldn't be released as singles — did not agree.
At 6:34, "Like A Rolling Stone" was nearly twice as long as the average single, and its raw rock sound was way outside the comfort zone of a label best known for artists like Andy Williams and Johnny Mathis.
As Shaun Considine, the coordinator of new releases for Columbia Records at the time, recounted 40 year later in a New York Times Op-Ed, Dylan's magnum opus was rejected as a single and resurrected only after Considine slipped a studio acetate to a DJ at a prominent Manhattan nightclub in mid-July.
Two well-known radio DJs in the audience heard "Like A Rolling Stone" and the overwhelming crowd reaction to it that night and called Columbia the next day, demanding their copies of "the new Bob Dylan single."
Sales and marketing got its last dig in by chopping "Like A Rolling Stone" in half and putting it on separate sides of 45, but a re-spliced full version was what radio stations played and what climbed very nearly to the top of the Billboard pop charts.
The song peaked at #2 in the week of September 4, 1965, blocked from the #1 spot by the Beatles, "Help."
The most important impact of "Like A Rolling Stone" was not commercial but creative. As Bruce Springsteen said of the first time he heard it, "[it] sounded like somebody'd kicked open the door to your mind."
Here, Dylan performs “Like a Rolling Stone” from No Direction Home, the documentary on his life.
Photo by Frank Beacham
Fifty-eight years ago today, Bob Dylan recorded “Like a Rolling Stone”
By Al Kooper
On June 16th, 1965 the complete take of "Like A Rolling Stone" was recorded (Take 4) at approximately 3:30 p.m. in Studio A at Columbia Recording Studios on Seventh Avenue in New York City.
Ten more takes were recorded until they realized that #4 was the one. It was the first take to be played all the way through the six minute plus lyric.
At it's conclusion, Tom Wilson, the producer, suggested a playback and the picture above shows left to right: Engineer Roy Halee, Producer Tom Wilson, Assistant engineer Pete Duryea (behind Wilson), manager Albert Grossman, publisher Artie Mogul, Bob, photographer Sandy Speiser, assistant Vinnie Fusco (partially blocked) and yours truly smoking a Marlboro.
I was a songwriter at the time and also a studio guitarist. I knew Tom Wilson pretty well and we were good friends.
When he found out I was a Dylan fan, he invited me to this session as a guest to watch. I was 21 at the time. A song I had co-written had six months previously been the #1 song in the country (This Diamond Ring by Gary Lewis & The Playboys) for about a month.
I also got calls as a studio guitarist to play on recording sessions. Me and my neighbor from Queens, NY, Harvey Brooks played a lotta Top 40 club dates in various bands as well.
We had previously played a place called Carousel Park at The NYC Worlds Fair about a year before six nights a week and made a nice pile of change for those days. Harvey got me that gig and I owed him big.
At the time, I was trying to make it big in the music biz and I was about ten percent talent and ninety percent ambition. I decided immediately I was gonna get to the Dylan session early with my guitar, plug in and tell Tom Wilson I had misunderstood his invitation and thought he meant to hire me as a guitarist.
The session was called for 1 p.m. and so I showed up about noon to pull off my ambitious caper. The other musicians knew me from other sessions and nothing seemed amiss to them.
I was warming up when Dylan burst through the door with another guitarist in tow and that guy sat down next to me said hello and plugged in his guitar and started warming up as well.
He looked to be about the same age as me and so I was quite surprised and disappointed to hear what an amazing player he was as he warmed up. I immediately took a cigarette break, put my guitar in it's case and went in the control room where I actually belonged.
This happened before Tom Wilson arrived, so he hadn't seen my failed ambitious caper go up in smoke. The guitarist was, of course, Mike Bloomfield from Chicago who I had never heard of or met before.
He had just joined The Paul Butterfield Blues Band and their first album was due to be released soon.
An hour into the actual session. they moved organist Paul Griffin over to piano instead. Here was another chance for me. I played keyboards early in my life, but switched to guitar when Elvis Presley came along because by then it was hipper to play guitar.
But I always still played keyboards i.e. for songwriting, sometimes on sessions, etc.
So I went over to Tom Wilson and said: "Tom, why doncha let me play organ on this? I gotta great part to play on this!"
Actually, I had nothing but that ninety percent ambition. Wilson looked at me and said "You're not an organ player — you're a guitarist!" and then they called him away to take a phone call.
I thought to myself — he didn't actually say NO — and so I walked into the studio and sat down at the organ.
A Hammond B3 organ is very complicated to start up and I didn't yet know how to turn it on. Fortunately, Paul Griffin had left it on.
Tom Wilson hadn't seen me go back in the studio and sit behind the organ. When he finished his phone call he said over the talkback mic — " Okay Bob...we got everybody here. Let's do one and I'll play it back to you and you can pick it apart.
(Pause as Tom sees me sitting at the organ)
What are you doing out there? (all the other musicians start laughing cause they knew me as a guitarist). Wilson laughs as well. This is where he should have said "Would you get your white ass back in the control room where you belong please?"
But because he was a kind man and also because he would have had to explain what I was doing there, after he laughed he said: Okay - stand by - This CO86446 is Like A Rolling Stone remake Take 1."
And so began my career as an organ player. Three takes later, I did miraculously come up with a part and the first full take of the song was recorded and everyone went back into the booth to listen to all six minutes and thirty five seconds of it.
About a minute into the playback, Dylan said to engineer Roy Halee, "Turn the organ up louder." Tom Wilson quickly replied "Bob, that guy is NOT an organ player."
Bob said "I don't care — turn the organ up!" — thus cementing my career as an organ player.
Another ten takes were taken but they were all much faster than Take 4 and so it was decided to return to Take 4 and use that as the final master.
Nothing else was recorded that day, but Bob came over to me and asked me to return the next day and play on the rest of the album. Within a coupla days, I talked Dylan into hiring Harvey Brooks on bass to join us.
Years later, Miles Davis had Harvey play on his Bitches Brew album. So we were finally even for that great World's Fair gig he had gotten me!
Unfortunately and mysteriously, Tom was replaced the next day as producer by Bob Johnston, and never produced another Dylan track.
But he did sooo much more - produced "Sounds Of Silence" by Simon & Garfunkel, discovered and produced The Mothers Of Invention and The Velvet Underground.
And signed and produced The Blues Project with me playing keyboards as a session guy and I was asked to join their band, which I did for three years.
So today I sit here … and am amazed at what a lucky and bizarre career I have had as well and bless Tom Wilson for inviting me to that Bob Dylan session because he was my friend and thought I would enjoy it.
The Monterey Pop Festival opened 56 years ago today.
The festival was a three-day concert event held June 16 to June 18, 1967 at the Monterey County Fairgrounds in Monterey, California.
Crowd estimates for the festival have ranged from 25,000 to 90,000, who congregated in and around the festival grounds. The fairgrounds’ enclosed performance arena, where the music took place, had an approved festival capacity of 7,000, but it was estimated that 8,500 jammed into it for Saturday night’s show.
Festival-goers who wanted to see the musical performances were required to have either an “all-festival” ticket or a separate ticket for each of the five scheduled concert events they wanted to attend in the arena. Ticket prices varied by seating area, and ranged from $3 to $6.50.
The festival is remembered for the first major American appearances by The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Who and Ravi Shankar, the first large-scale public performance of Janis Joplin and the introduction of Otis Redding to a large, predominantly white audience. The festival embodied the theme of California as a focal point for the counterculture and is generally regarded as one of the beginnings of the "Summer of Love" in 1967.
Because Monterey was widely promoted and heavily attended, featured historic performances and was the subject of a popular theatrical documentary film, it became an inspiration and a template for future music festivals, including the Woodstock Festival two years later.
The festival was planned in seven weeks by John Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas, record producer Lou Adler, Alan Pariser and publicist, Derek Taylor. The Monterey location had been known as the site for the long-running Monterey Jazz Festival and Monterey Folk Festival.
The promoters saw the Monterey Pop festival as a way to validate rock music as an art form in the way in which jazz and folk were regarded. The organizers succeeded beyond all expectations. The artists performed for free with all revenue donated to charity, except for Ravi Shankar, who was paid $3,000 for his afternoon-long performance on the sitar. Country Joe and the Fish were paid $5,000 not by the festival itself, but from revenue generated from the D.A. Pennebaker documentary.
Monterey's bill boasted a lineup that put established stars like The Mamas and the Papas, Simon & Garfunkel and The Byrds alongside groundbreaking new acts from the UK and the USA. The line included Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Deal, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Janis Joplin, Eric Burdon and the Animals, Otis Redding and The Electric Flag.
Here, Jimi Hendrix performs “Hey Joe” at the festival
Electric Flag with Mike Bloomfield and Harvey Brooks at Monterey Pop, 1967
Harvey Brooks, bassist for The Electric Flag, Remembers Monterey Pop
In 1967, The Monterey Pop Festival was the first documented international rock festival. The producers were Lou Adler and John Phillips, with Alan Pariser and Derek Taylor. It included Ravi Shankar, the Who, Otis Redding, Jimi Hendrix, The Mamas an the Papas, Simon and Garfunkel, and of course the Electric Flag.
50,000 music lovers came together to watch The Who destroy their instruments and Jimi Hendrix burn his guitar two years before the Woodstock Festival in 1969.
I drove to the Monterey Fairgrounds from Mill Valley early on Saturday, June 17, 1967 after taking some Owsley acid in a cup of coffee. When I arrived, I started walking the grounds, checking out the food, crafts, headshops and most of all, the people.
Strolling the grounds, I saw familiar faces of musicians I knew and didn’t know, hippies, movies stars, Hells Angels and old and young concert goers high on acid and pot just enjoying the feeling of peace and love that was filling the air.
After my tour around the grounds, I headed backstage and ducked into a tent in the middle of a conversation between Brian Jones, Michael Bloomfield, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin about how having musicians play these kind of festivals all over the world would result in a more peaceful planet.
I asked Jimi if he was coming out to Mill Valley and he gave me one of those smiles. At that moment, I began to notice the Owsley acid was kicking in. I had a slight tingling sensation and everything around me was in vivid color. The combined vibrations of the previously mentioned musicians was so intense, I had to move on. Right about that time, the crowd started arriving through the main entrance.
Before The Electric Flag went on, Al Kooper, who was stage manager for the show, invited the guitarist, Elvin Bishop, from Butterfield’s band and myself to jam in a short set. After the set, I went backstage to sync up with the Flag, leaving my bass on stage for the roadies to take.
When I asked our roadie to bring my bass backstage, he went back on stage to get the bass, which was supposed to be on its stand. But it was gone. Someone had pilfered my bass right off the stage in front of everyone. The stage manager said don’t worry about it — I’ll take care of it. I knew then I should be worried. Fortunately, I had back up basses. We were to go on shortly after the Kooper’s set and I had no time to worry about my missing instrument.
Most of the band members were warming up their hands, lips and instruments. I was having a conversation with Buddy Miles who was telling me how important it was to kick ass. Bloomfield came over and hugged us, saying what a pleasure it is playing in this great band and how groovy everything is.
The smell of reefer has replaced all other odors in the air and we were all feeling nervous and mellow at the same time. The next thing I knew, I was standing on the stage looking out at the audience filled with hippies, tourists and Hells Angels. I’m thinking, “This is amazzzzing.”
Michael cued Buddy, Buddy counted off Groovin Is Easy, the horns played the intro theme and then the band kicked in. I looked over at Nick Gravenites, whose head was bobbing as he lifted the mic to sing. He glanced over at Mike and me with a big smile on his face. “Groovin’ is easy, if you know how...”
We were a tight band, we knew what we were doing and played it as we rehearsed. It worked. The audience went nuts. Though we did very well, we were not a seasoned band. Bloomfield came on stage with a huge reputation, but Buddy Miles was our secret weapon. He really won over the crowd. The band was tight and powerful .the audience loved us!
In the evening, after our set, I was hanging out with Keith Moon waiting for Otis Redding to perform. Keith was the drummer with The Who, he was a warm and funny person who I had first met at the “Murray the K” show at the RKO Theatre in New York City back in March, at the Who's" first American concert.
He told me that automobiles would motor on air cushions and be powered by the sun in the very near future. It was an interesting comment from a maniacal monster drummer who happened to collect cars. The show they did in New York was restrained compared to what I saw the next night at Monterey Pop. The gear and microphones went flying. It was a total demolition derby.
Otis Redding, who closed the Saturday line-up, literally got there just in time for the show, exploded onto the stage and mesmerized us. I got to shake his hand and say hello, but it was in passing. I did, however, talk to Duck Dunn, Otis’s bass player and a member of Booker T. and the MGs. We traded compliments and stories. Duck was really my role model for The Electric Flag. He played solid, simple bass lines that created nice spaces for a vocalist to sing in. Nice man, great bass player!
On Sunday, I knew Jimi Hendrix would be sound checking in the afternoon. Jimi and I were old friends from my Greenwich Village days. He was looking to express himself in the United States and I knew he was going use this show to make his impact.
He saw me backstage after his sound check and walked over. We started talking about Greenwich Village, the clubs and Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” and what a cool song it was. We talked about the deal I got him with Verve Folkways Records that he turned down because he signed with Chas Chandler and Michael Jefferies earlier in the week and how the English pop music world loved him immediately. In New York City, he was just another local guitar player.
Jimi would launch his career that night at Monterey. You can read about it in the history books. After the festival, Jimi came to visit me in Mill Valley where I was then living. After partying for a few hours, Jimi, Michael, Buddy and I went over to the heliport and jammed through the night. To my knowledge, that was the only time Michael and Jimi ever jammed together.
Katharine Graham, Carl Bernstein, Bob Woodward, managing editor Howard Simons and executive editor Ben Bradlee at the Washington Post in 1973
Katharine Graham — A Personal Remembrance
Katharine Graham, former publisher of the Washington Post, was born 106 years ago today.
Publishers are normally not the creative people that I celebrate on these pages, but Graham was special and unique. In early 1974, I went to work as an investigative reporter for Post-Newsweek Television, which was owned by the Washington Post.
This was the period during the Watergate scandal, in which Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein had an integral role in bringing about the resignation of President Richard Nixon that summer. Unlike newspapers and other news outlets today, Graham supported real, hard hitting reporting.
When Woodward and Bernstein brought the Watergate story to Post editor, Ben Bradlee, Graham supported their investigative reporting and Bradlee ran stories about Watergate when few other news outlets would touch the story. As a result, Graham was the subject of one of the best-known threats in American journalistic history.
It occurred in 1972, when Nixon's attorney general, John Mitchell, warned reporter Carl Bernstein about a forthcoming article: "Katie Graham's gonna get her tit caught in a big fat wringer if that's published." As an act of intimidation, the Nixon administration also set its Federal Communications Commission onto the Post’s broadcast properties. Graham was under severe pressure in those years and she rose to that pressure.
On my first day at work at the Post’s WJXT-TV in Jacksonville, Florida, I was surprised to get a personal phone call from Katherine Graham. She welcomed me and acknowledged the pressure we were under at the time.
But her real message was clear. “If you receive pressure from anyone — anyone at all — not to do your job, I want you to call me directly,” she said. “That’s very important.” She made me promise to call and gave me her direct number.
I never did call, though the next year at Post-Newsweek I was threatened, sued and publicly called every name in the book. The station defended every lawsuit and we won them all. We worked hard and got it right. It was the era of good, tough journalism — long gone today.
It was always comforting to know in those days that I was backed by the real iron lady, Katherine Graham.
Tom "Bones" Malone is 76 years old today.
Malone is a jazz musician, arranger and producer. As his nickname implies, he specializes on the trombone, but also plays trumpet, tuba, tenor sax, baritone sax, flutes, piccolo and other instruments.
Malone is famous for being a member of The Blues Brothers band, Saturday Night Live Band (served as leader of the band from 1981 to 1985), and a member of the CBS Orchestra, the former house band for the Late Show with David Letterman.
Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, Malone’s father, Cdr. Odie Malone, was a U.S. Navy pilot who survived Pearl Harbor. He graduated from North Texas State University (now the University of North Texas) along with fellow Blues Brothers bandmate, Lou Marini. Both were members of the school's world renowned, One O'Clock Lab Band.
He began playing professionally as lead trumpet with Brenda Lee at a club in Jackson, Mississippi while enrolled at The University of Southern Mississippi. In response to a call from Warren Covington, leader of The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, he expanded into contracting musicians. After transferring to North Texas State University, Malone continued working as both a player and a contractor for a variety of groups.
Upon graduation, Malone worked in bands of Woody Herman (1969), Duke Pearson (1970), Louie Bellson (1971), Doc Severinsen, Frank Zappa (1972) and Blood, Sweat & Tears (1973).
In 1973, Malone began a close, 15-year association with Gil Evans, who exerted considerable musical influence on him. With Evans, Malone recorded seven albums and toured Europe, Japan and the Far East. In 1975, Malone toured with Billy Cobham and in 1976 with The Band.
In 1970, after he was heard performing with Ten Wheel Drive and Genya Ravan, he received a call from Saturday Night Live (SNL), a new late-night comedy show on NBC. Malone arranged for the show from 1975 to 1985 and served as musical director from 1981 to 1985.
A single SNL comedy skit which featured John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd mushroomed into The Blues Brothers. Malone wrote the chart for that first skit, then continued as an integral member of the Blues Brothers musical organization. His writing and performance may be found on all Blues Brothers recordings and in The Blues Brothers film score. In the movie, he appears as a fictionalized version of himself.
In 1993, Malone reunited with SNL veterans Paul Shaffer (keyboards) and Will Lee (bass) in the CBS Orchestra. In 1997, Blues Brothers 2000 and the film score includes considerable contribution by Malone. He joined the CBS Orchestra on November 1, 1993, and contributed more than 1,600 arrangements to the Late Show.
As a studio musician, he has been heard on more than 1,000 records, more than 3000 radio and television commercials and over 4,000 live television shows. Malone has also played themes for CBS This Morning, Murder, She Wrote and the 1992 Olympic Winter Games — all on the CBS Television Network.
His solo album, Soul Bones, features guest appearances by Paul Shaffer and Blues Traveler's John Popper. Malone's additional feature film credits include The Last Waltz, Blues Brothers 2000 and Sister Act.
In 2007, Malone was invited by Music Director Geoffrey Moull to arrange and perform a concert with the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra. In 2011, Malone was guest artist with the Unuversity of Southern Mississippi Symphony Orchestra.
He frequently performs with Beatles tribute band The Fab Faux (as part of The Hogshead Horns) along with fellow CBS Orchestra member, Will Lee. He also plays with The Blues Brotherhood, a Blues Brothers tribute band based in Pennsylvania.
Here, Malone performs with The Blues Brothers on “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love”
First place, children category, 2014 iPhone Photography Awards
Photo by Danny Van Vuuren