Released 58 years ago — the Byrds' debut album, Mr. Tambourine Man, marked a critical beginning of the folk-rock revolution
Released on this day in 1965 — 58 years ago — the Byrds' debut album, Mr. Tambourine Man, marked a critical beginning of the folk-rock revolution.
In just a few months, the Byrds had become a household name, with a #1 single and a smash-hit album that married the ringing guitars and backbeat of the British Invasion with the harmonies and lyrical depth of folk to create an entirely new sound.
Perhaps someone else could have listened to the bright guitar lines of the Beatles' "Ticket To Ride" and to Bob Dylan's original "Mr. Tambourine Man" and had the idea of somehow combining the two, but neither of those recordings existed when the Byrds' Roger McGuinn devised his group's new sound.
Newly signed to Columbia Records, the Byrds had access to an early demo version of "Mr. Tambourine Man" even before their label-mate, Bob Dylan, had a chance to record it for his own upcoming album.
On January 20, 1965, they entered the studio to record what would become the title track of their debut album and, incidentally, the only Bob Dylan song ever to reach #1 on the U.S. pop charts.
Aiming consciously for a vocal style in between Dylan's and Lennon's, McGuinn sang lead, with Gene Clark and David Crosby, providing the complex harmony that would, along with McGuinn's jangly electric 12-string Rickenbacker guitar, form the basis of the Byrds' trademark sound.
That sound, which would influence countless groups from Big Star to the Bangles in decades to come, had an immediate and profound impact on the Byrds' contemporaries, and even on the artists who'd inspired it in the first place.
"Wow, man, you can even dance to that!" was Bob Dylan's reaction to hearing what the Byrds' had done with "Mr. Tambourine Man."
Just days before the hugely influential album of the same name was released to the public on June 21, 1965, Dylan himself would be in a New York recording studio with an electric guitar in his hands, putting the finishing touches on "Like A Rolling Stone" and setting the stage for his controversial "Dylan goes electric" performance at the Newport Folk Festival just one month later.
Roger McGuinn, New York City, February, 1995
Photo by Frank Beacham
Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney were killed by a Ku Klux Klan lynch mob near Meridian, Mississippi in this day in 1964 — 59 years ago.
The three young civil rights workers were working to register black voters in Mississippi, thus inspiring the ire of the local Klan. The deaths of Schwerner and Goodman, white Northerners and members of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), caused a national outrage.
When the desegregation movement encountered resistance in the early 1960s, CORE set up an interracial team to ride buses into the Deep South to help protest. These so-called Freedom Riders were viciously attacked in May, 1961 when the first two buses arrived in Alabama.
One bus was firebombed. The other was boarded by KKK members who beat the activists inside. The Alabama police provided no protection. Still, the Freedom Riders were not dissuaded and they continued to come into Alabama and Mississippi. Michael Schwerner was a particularly dedicated activist who lived in Mississippi while he assisted blacks to vote.
Sam Bowers, the local Klan's Imperial Wizard, decided that Schwerner was a bad influence, and had to be killed. When Schwerner, Goodman and Chaney, a young black man, were coming back from a trip to Philadelphia, Mississippi, deputy sheriff Cecil Price, who was also a Klan member, pulled them over for speeding. He then held them in custody while other KKK members prepared for their murder.
Eventually released, the three activists were later chased down in their car and cornered in a secluded spot in the woods where they were shot and then buried in graves that had been prepared in advance.
When news of their disappearance got out, the FBI converged on Mississippi to investigate. With the help of an informant, agents learned about the Klan's involvement and found the bodies.
Since Mississippi refused to prosecute the assailants in state court, the federal government charged 18 men with conspiracy to violate the civil rights of Schwerner, Goodman and Chaney. Bowers, Price and five other men were convicted; eight were acquitted and the all-white jury deadlocked on the other three defendants.
On the forty-first anniversary of the three murders, June 21, 2005, Edgar Ray Killen was found guilty of three counts of manslaughter. The 80-year-old Killen, known as an outspoken white supremacist and part-time Baptist minister, was sentenced to 60 years in prison. He died in prison on January 11, 2018 at 92 years old.
Freedom Summer was a campaign in the United States launched in June, 1964 to attempt to register as many African-American voters as possible in Mississippi, which had historically excluded most blacks from voting.
The project also set up dozens of Freedom Schools, Freedom Houses and community centers in small towns throughout Mississippi to aid the local black population. It was organized by the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO), a coalition of the Mississippi branches of the four major civil rights organizations, SNCC, CORE, NAACP and the SCLC.
Most of the impetus, leadership and financing for the Summer Project came from the SNCC. Robert Parris Moses, SNCC field secretary and co-director of COFO, directed the summer project. Many of Mississippi's white residents deeply resented the outsiders and any attempt to change their society.
Locals routinely harassed volunteers. Newspapers called them "unshaven and unwashed trash." Their presence in local black communities sparked drive-by shootings, Molotov cocktails and constant harassment.
State and local governments, the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission (which was tax-supported and spied on citizens), police, the White Citizens' Council and the Ku Klux Klan used murder, arrests, beatings, arson, spying, firing, evictions and other forms of intimidation and harassment to oppose the project and prevent blacks from registering to vote or to achieve social equality.
On June 21, 1964, James Chaney (a black CORE activist from Mississippi), CORE organizer Michael Schwerner and summer volunteer Andrew Goodman (both of whom were Jews from New York) were arrested by Cecil Price, a Neshoba County deputy sheriff, and a member of the Ku Klux Klan. They were held in jail until after nightfall, then released.
They drove away into an ambush on the road by Klansmen, who abducted and killed them. Goodman and Schwerner were shot at point-blank range. Chaney was chased, beaten mercilessly and shot three times.
When the men went missing, SNCC and COFO workers began phoning the FBI asking for an investigation. FBI agents refused, saying it was a local matter.
Finally, after some 36 hours, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy ordered an investigation. FBI agents began swarming around Philadelphia, Mississippi, where Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney had been arrested. For the next seven weeks, FBI agents and sailors from a nearby naval airbase searched for the bodies, wading into swamps and hacking through underbrush.
On August 4, 1964, the bodies of Chaney, Schwerner and Goodman were found buried beneath an earthen dam.
Al Hirschfeld in his studio on the top floor of his Manhattan townhouse on December 4, 1991
Photo by Jill Krementz
Al Hirschfeld was born 120 years ago today.
Hirschfeld was an American caricaturist best known for his black and white portraits of famous people.
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, he moved with his family to New York City, where he received his art training at the Art Students League of New York. In 1924, Hirschfeld traveled to Paris and London, where he studied painting, drawing and sculpture.
When he returned to the United States, a friend and Broadway press agent, Richard Maney, showed one of Hirschfeld's drawings to an editor at the New York Herald Tribune. This got Hirschfeld commissions for that newspaper and then, later, The New York Times.
Hirschfeld's style is unique and he is considered one of the most important figures in contemporary drawing and caricature. He influenced countless artists, illustrators and cartoonists. His caricatures are almost always drawings of pure line in black ink, into which Hirschfeld dipped not a pen, but a genuine crow’s quill.
Readers of The New York Times and other newspapers prior to the time they printed in color will be most familiar with the Hirschfeld drawings that are black ink on white illustration board. However, there is a whole body of Hirschfeld’s work in color. Hirschfeld’s full-color paintings were commissioned by many magazines, often as the cover.
Hirschfeld resided at 122 East 95th Street in Manhattan. He died, at age 99, of natural causes at his home on January 20, 2003.
Al Hirschfeld’s sketch of filmmaker Stanley Kubrick
Jean-Paul Sartre was born 118 years ago today.
A French philosopher, playwright, novelist, screenwriter, political activist, biographer and literary critic, Sarte was one of the key figures in the philosophy of existentialism and phenomenology and a leading figure in 20th century French philosophy and Marxism.
Sarte’s work has also influenced sociology, critical theory, post-colonial theory and literary studies. He continues to influence these disciplines. Sartre has also been noted for his open relationship with the prominent feminist theorist, Simone de Beauvoir.
He was awarded the 1964 Nobel Prize in Literature but refused it, saying that he always declined official honors and that "a writer should not allow himself to be turned into an institution."
Sartre died in Paris in 1980 at age 74.
Nils Lofgren and Bruce Springsteen
Nils Lofgren is 72 years old today.
A rock musician, recording artist, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Lofgren
has been a member of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band since 1984, a former member of Crazy Horse and founder/frontman of the band, Grin. He is also a solo artist.
Born in Chicago, Lofgren moved to the suburban town of Garrett Park, Maryland, near the northern border of Washington, D.C. as a very young child. His first instrument was classical accordion, beginning at age five, which he studied seriously for ten years.
After studying classical music and jazz, throughout his youth, Lofgren switched his emphasis to rock music. It was then that he focused on the piano and the guitar.
By 1968, Lofgren formed the band, Grin, originally with bassist George Daly (later replaced by Bob Gordon), and drummer Bob Berberich, former players in the DC band, The Hangmen. The group played in venues throughout the Washington, D.C. area. Lofgren had been a competitive gymnast in high school, a skill that popped up later in his career.
During this time, Lofgren met Neil Young and played for him. Young invited Lofgren to come to California and the Grin trio (Lofgren, Daly and Berberich) drove out west and lived for some months at a home Neil Young rented in Laurel Canyon.
Lofgren joined Neil Young's band at age 17, playing piano and guitar on the album, After the Gold Rush, Lofgren worked on his parts around-the-clock when recording was not in session.
He maintained a close musical relationship with Young, appearing on his Tonight's the Night album and tour among others. He was also briefly a member of Crazy Horse, appearing on their 1971 LP and contributing songs to their catalog.
In 1984, he joined Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band as the replacement for Steven Van Zandt on guitar and vocals, in time for Springsteen's massive Born in the U.S.A. Tour.
Following the tour, he appeared on Late Night with David Letterman, to promote his 1985 solo release, Flip. The E Street Band toured again with Springsteen in 1988 on the Tunnel of Love Express and Human Rights Now! Tours.
In 1989, Springsteen broke up the E Street Band, but Lofgren and Van Zandt rejoined when Springsteen revived the band in 1999 for their Reunion Tour, followed by The Rising and another massive tour in 2002 and 2003, then again for the Magic album and world tour of 2007/2008. They re-upped in 2012 for the Wrecking Ball Tour, 2014 for the High Hopes Tour and 2016 for the River Tour.
Lofgren continues to record and to tour as a solo act, with Patti Scialfa, Neil Young and as a two-time member of Ringo Starr's All-Starr Band. Many of the people he worked with on those tours appeared on his 1991 album, Silver Lining.
Here, Lofgren performs “No Mercy” in Germany, 1991
O.C. Smith, whose “Little Green Apples” sold over a million records in 1968, was born 91 years ago today.
Born Ocie Lee Smith in Mansfield, Louisiana, Smith moved with his parents to Little Rock, Arkansas and then moved with his mother to Los Angeles after his parents divorced. After completing a psychology degree at Southern University, Smith joined the Air Force. He served throughout the U.S., Europe and Asia.
While in the Air Force, Smith began entering talent contests and toured with Horace Heidt. After his discharge in July, 1955, he went into jazz to pay the bills.
Smith gained his first break as a singer with Sy Oliver and made an appearance on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts. His success on that show led to a recording contract with Cadence Records. In 1961, Smith was recruited by Count Basie to be his vocalist, a position he held until 1965.
His hits, "The Best Out Of Me" and "After All Is Said And Done," established Smith as a Carolina Beach Music star. Nominated for six awards at the third Beach Music Awards, Smith captured five.
Smith became pastor and founder of The City Of Angels Church in Los Angeles, where he remained for 16 years. One of his last recordings, "Save The Last Dance For Me," reached the #1 position on the Rhythm n' Beach Top 40 chart.
After his death from a heart attack on Nov. 23, 2001, Gov. Jim Hodges proclaimed June 21, 2002 “O.C. Smith Day” in the State of South Carolina. Smith was posthumously elected to the Carolina Beach Music Hall of Fame in November, 2002.
"You don't lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case."
— Ken Kesey
Kesey, Neal Cassady and other friends called the "Merry Pranksters" took a cross-country trip in 1964 on a school bus named, "Furthur."
This trip, described in the late Tom Wolfe's The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (and later in Kesey's own screenplay "The Furthur Inquiry") was the group's attempt to create art out of everyday life.