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  1. The Bobby Darin Dream Car

    October 23, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

    Forget the Batmobile; I’ll take Bobby Darin’s Dream Car.

    Andy Di Dia was a clothing designer from Detroit who spent seven years and over $150,000 building a car that puts the Ford Futura concept car that evolved into the Batmobile to shame.  Di Dia’s  friend, singer Bobby Darin, bought the car from him in 1961 and drove it to the Academy Awards and in movies until donating it to the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis, MO in 1970.

    The car’s metallic red exterior is from 30 coats of paint with real ground diamonds for sparkle.  The body was made from hand-fashioned soft aluminum. There are hidden headlights and tail lights that swivel as the car turns. Inside, the seats each have their own ash tray, cigarette lighter, and radio speaker. On the dash are oversized levers that control the air conditioning, heater and defroster. The car has a 125-inch wheelbase and is powered by a V8 engine.

    Put someone like Bobby Darin behind the wheel and you’ve got nothing less than a double dose of cool!

     


  2. Dartford Station

    October 17, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

    Model of a planned statue for Dartford Station to commemorate the first meeting of Jagger and Richards.

    On the morning of  October 17, 1961, Mick Jagger, then 18, arrived at platform two of Kent’s Dartford Station on his way to the London School of Economics where he was studying. A few minutes later, 17-year-old Keith Richards arrived on the same platform to catch the train to Sidcup Art College. Jagger was carrying several old blues records and Richards had with him his hollow-body Höfner cutaway electric guitar.

    The two recognised each other from when they both attended Dartford’s Wentworth Primary School. That recognition and the presence of the records and guitar sparked a conversation that would lead to Jagger joining Richard’s band, Little Boy Blue and the Blue Boys. By the following year the two moved to London where they would share a flat and join a band being put together by Brian Jones and Ian Stewart. The Rolling Stones were born in 1962, but not yet the songwriting team of Jagger/Richards.

    It wouldn’t be until 1964 that the bandmates would begin their amazingly prolific and successful songwriting collaboration with the song, “As Tears Goes By”. 

    Jagger and Richards have different recollections about their first songwriting endeavours, but both credit manager Andrew Loog Oldham for suggesting a collaboration.

    KEITH RICHARDS: “ So what Andrew Oldham did was lock us up in the kitchen for a night and say, ‘Don’t come out without a song.’ We sat around and came up with ‘As Tears Go By’. It was unlike most Rolling Stones material, but that’s what happens when you write songs, you immediately fly to some other realm. The weird thing is that Andrew found Marianne Faithful at the same time, bunged it to her and it was a fuckin’ hit for her – we were songwriters already! But it took the rest of that year to dare to write anything for the Stones.”

    MICK JAGGER: “Keith likes to tell the story about the kitchen, God bless him. I think Andrew may have said something at some point along the lines of ‘I should lock you in a room until you’ve written a song’ and in that way he did mentally lock us in a room, but he didn’t literally lock us in. One of the first songs we came out with was that tune for George Bean, the very memorable ‘It Should Be You’.

     

    Little Boy Blue and the Blue Boys, 1961

     
     


  3. The Beatle Haircut is Born

    October 15, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

     It was fifty years ago today, Jürgen Vollmer taught the band how to do their hair.

    The traditional story has it that former Beatle bassist Stu Sutcliffe (living in Germany) was the first to wear the mop-top style haircut  thanks to the barbering skills of his artist-girlfriend Astrid Kirchherr. The myth continues that while performing in Hamburg, Stu’s look was copied by George Harrison and soon after by John Lennon and Paul McCartney (Drummer Pete Best kept his D.A .)  The problem with this story is that when the Beatles returned to Liverpool from Germany in July 1961, they all still sported  “duck-arse” haircuts.

    The true story was confirmed by both John and Paul in the Sixties and since then has been mostly ignored. In late September and early October, John and Paul decided to celebrate John’s 21st birthday by hitchhiking to Spain. They only made it as far as Paris where they met up with a friend from their frequent sojourns in Hamburg, Jürgen Vollmer (top-left with Paul McCartney). By this time Vollmer had been wearing the style for years since he apparently stumbled upon the look after going swimming.  During a visit to Vollmer’s Left Bank hotel room, the two Beatles convinced him to cut their hair in a similar fashion.  Vollmer wrote that after the haircuts, the trio visited a Paris flea market where John and Paul were tempted to abandon their old look completely for the mod French style of attire (collarless jackets, bell bottoms, etc.) . The two eventually decided that the haircut was about as much novelty as their home town of Liverpool and their rapidly expanding fan base was ready for. On their return to Liverpool they stopped off in London where they bought some Chelsea boots, which were later to become fashionable as ‘Beatle boots.’ During the trip, John and Paul also tried to incorporate bowler hats into their new look but abandoned them before returning to Liverpool.

    Vollmer took several photographs of the two during their stay in Paris:

    When they saw their bandmates’ new look, George was quick to adopt the hairstyle and, always the outsider, Pete Best kept his old haircut. The three haircuts grew a little longer until Brian Epstein took over management of the group near the end of the year and arranged for the Beatles to have their hair cut by a salon called Horne Brothers in Liverpool where the mop-top look was finally standardized. Pete Best insisted that his hair continue to be cut in a DA. When Pete Best was fired the following year, Ringo Starr dutifully showed up for his first day of work properly coiffed.

                                 

     


  4. Calling all Astrobillies!

    August 5, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

    Gene Vincent 1961

     

    A lot of the posts on this blog are about the beginning of a story; such and such first did this in 1961 and went on to do that in the years that followed.  Today’s post is about the end of a strange coupling of music and genre that began in the mid-50′s and kind of died out around 1961: Rockabilly records and outer space.

    The connection may not have been as strong as that which bonded electric guitar instrumentals with surfing, but the association between Rockabilly and outer space is no less interesting. Were Rockabilly musicians inspired by the dawn of the space age the same way Dick Dale was inspired by a perfect ride down a crashing wave? No. Were they particularly moved or excited about mankind traveling to the Moon, Mars and beyond? Probably not. Did they see rockets and spacemen and Martians as the perfect metaphors for sex? Bingo!

    Rockabilly records with outer space themes started popping up even before Sputnik was launched in 1957 and it was clear from the start what singers like Jimmy Grubbs and Skip Stanley meant when they sang about a rocket in their pocket and “shakin that asteroid”.

    By 1961, the theme was getting a little dated now that men were actually flying in space. That didn’t stop Gene Vincent and Butch Paulson from cutting two final records of a genre that would disappear until the Rockabilly revival of the early 1980s.

     

     

                    

     

       

       

       


  5. Music for Robots

    July 27, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

    Inside dozens of comic books in 1961 could be found the following advertisement:

    “Brand New – Created Just for You – the Most Amazing Half Hour on Record as FORREST J ACKERMAN himself time-travels to the 21st Century to bring back Music for Robots.  FJA talks to YOU for 18 minutes in a thrilling narration about RUR, Tobor, Gort, Robby…the automatons of Jules Verne, Edgar Allan Poe, Isaac Asimov, Leonardo da Vinci…the metalic Frankenstein…Hear weird vibrational multisonic effects, electronic melodies created for the ears of androids! ONLY $1.98″

    From all accounts the Ackerman narration on side one was the selling point of this LP. Side two is made up of a fifteen minute composition by a man named Frank Coe. I’m pretty sure this Frank Coe wasn’t the same one who rode with Billy the Kid in the 1880s, but there is the slight possibility that he was the same Frank Coe who is notable for being the first disgraced director of the IMF (for being “commie”, not “rapey”) in 1952.

    Have a listen to Coe’s Tone Tales of Tomorrow and then as an extra treat I offer the first song ever sung by a computer (the versatile IBM 7094).

     


     

     Daisy, Daisy
    Give me your answer do!
    I’m half crazy,
    All for the love of you!
    It won’t be a stylish marriage,
    I can’t afford a carriage
    But you’ll look sweet upon the seat
    Of a bicycle made for two.