SAINT PAUL, Minn. -- Members of the honorary Hartbeat Staff and the followers of this free-falling blog have procured their music in many ways over the years. The formats changed: 78, 45 and 33 1/3 rpm records, reel-to-reel, cassettes and eight track tapes; compact discs, mini-discs and computer files. But the desire to own the music that evoked feelings has not changed and holds a special place in the personal life journey of Hartbeaters.
This edition of Hartbeat will give you the results of a question posed to the Staff and Facebook flock: When and where did you purchase the first piece of your own musical history? The results should give you food for thought the next time you download a musical file and recall how your own musical appreciation journey began.
Catch your dreams before they slip away (Ruby Tuesday)
For a fourteen year old boy, the record racks of F.W. Woolworth's in Duluth, Minnesota provided a treasure chest of opportunities. While waiting for the bus after school, one could go inside and look at the 45's and LP's and still see when your public transportation arrived outside. This early version of multi-tasking came long before we even knew we would one day have to concentrate on several technical tasks at once. The first album that I bought in the pivotal summer of 1967 at the "dime store," was the Beatles', Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Though the record was viewed as a landmark of studio recording using the four track recording process and the "bouncing down" process where multiple instruments were dubbed down to single tracks, I needed it in mono, not stereo. I had a mono record player and mono records were cheaper than stereo. I recall that a mono record cost $3.88. In addition to great music, Sgt. Pepper had the unique feature of printing the lyrics on the album cover.
That summer, The Beatles started my music buying history; the Rolling Stones were the second installment on my road of acquiring recorded music. Woolworth's again provided the shopping experience and Flowers was the album that I purchased. In the realm of popular culture history, purchasing my first two albums by members of the British Invasion must have some significance.
One last bit of my own Hartbeat musical saga, in between the purchase of these two albums, I started recording music on reel-to-reel tape, opening the door to a whole new method of collecting life shaping sounds.
I used to play around with hearts that hastened at my call (Poor Little Fool)
When Vivian Hart, Hartbeat co-curator, was still in elementary school, she fell in love with Ricky Nelson, the Everly Brothers, Fats Domino, the music of the Saturday Night Hit Parade and her transistor radio. She remembers hearing the Everly Brothers rockabilly music for the first time; her ear was pressed up to the speaker of her girlfriend Marie's mono radio. They both cried when they heard Don's and Phil's harmony. But it was Ricky Nelson who really stole her heart. She was born a Nelson, too, and when she watched Ricky on his parents' television show, she knew that when she grew up, he would marry her and she would not have to change her name. She must have been a poor little fool, for that marriage never happened. However, Poor Little Fool was the name of the first single, a 45 rpm, that she purchased by dipping into her allowance
savings. Since she was still a student at Grant Elementary in Duluth, her Dad had to drive her to the S.S. Kresge store (another dime store) to purchase the musical gem. Vivian played it over and over. She cried when she heard it, too, just like when she listened to the Everly Brothers, but the tears were not because she was sad. She felt the emotions of a newly-awakened baby boomer who, like many in her generation, loved rock 'n' roll.
It just aint' no way (Ain't No Way)
Hartbeat Los Angeles Bureau Chief Lloyd Mc Cloud started his trip on the road of soul with Aretha Franklin's, Ain't No Way. He recalls two very memorable albums on the journey: Love Supreme by John Coltrane and Electric Ladyland by Jimi Hendrix. He currently shops at a record store on Sunset Strip, but when I first met Lloyd he was obtaining his soul music in Duluth (soul records were difficult to find) at Young At Heart Records, located on First Street. The store offered the opportunity to special order music (sounds old fashioned in these internet days) and you had a card with little hearts that were punched with a heart shaped device. After ten punches you qualified for a free 45 rpm single. I wish I had one of those cards now so I could be officially young at heart.
This happened once before, when I came to your door, no reply (No Reply)
Hartbeat Director of Research Greg Lew bought his first record, Beatles 65, at a drugstore in Brewster, New York. He believes the price of that classic piece of vinyl was $3.98. Fascinated by the cover art of albums, Greg would spend hours pouring over the details of each LP. The first "real" record store he patronized was Honest John's in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Greg keeps Hartbeat World Headquarters well stocked with the many records he bought over the years and had sense enough to keep.
We go down the calming streams (To Be Over)
Relayer by Yes was the first record purchased by Hartbeat Northland Bureau Chief, Eric Olson. Young Eric listened to Fragile by Yes through his friend's Koss headphones and was so impressed that he had to have an album by the group. He made his historic purchase at the Inner Sleeve in Wausau, Wisconsin in 1976. Eric recalls that the album cost $4.97 and was enclosed in a plastic sleeve, hence the name of the shop. In an interesting twist of fate, Eric later in life recorded his own 45 rpm record that was a hit on jukeboxes in parts of Wisconsin.
Carry it home in a tote sack (Polk Salad Anne)
Northern California correspondents Conrad and Carol Nelson weighed in with their stories. Carol heard Tony Joe White singing Polk Salad Annie on her friend's am/fm radio while at the beach. She purchased the 45 rpm at Woolworths in New Bedford, MA. She spent between 50 and 75 cents for this classic by the Swamp Fox.
Multi-instrumentalist Conrad Nelson, who is presently concentrating on Western Swing bass playing bought Bob Dylan's, Like a Rolling Stone at a drug store in Duluth, Minnesota. Word around the campfire is he rolled to the store on his bike and threw eight dimes in his prime for the sounds of another Duluth born musician.
Tommy's got his six string in hock. Now he's holding in what he used to make it talk. (Livin' On a Prayer)
In an experiment with social networking contributions to this blog, the Hartbeat Facebook Flock also added memories of their first purchases of music that mattered to them.
KARE Reporter Jana Shortal bolstered the careers of the New Jersey lads, known as Bon Jovi, when she plunked down her allowance money at a St. Louis mall to buy a cassette tape. The name of the album: Slippery When Wet.
The Mariner Mall in Superior, Wisconsin was where Fairview Health Services Media Consultant, Jennifer McLeod Amundson bought the Go Go's Beauty and the Beat. She fondly remembers dancing to You Got the Beat in a gym while in junior high.
Fellow school band member (I played trombone and he played French horn) and retired art teacher Tom Rauschenfels bought the Dave Brubeck, Take Five album and then a few weeks later had a front row seat at their concert at the Duluth Arena Auditorium. This was a cool experience for a young music lover in 1965.
Babysitting money fueled the love of music for Greyhound (the dog) aficionado, Victoria Jones. She purchased a 45 rpm of Chain of Fools by Aretha Franklin for under a dollar. Looking for an acoustically perfect environment, she listened to the song for hours in her bedroom closet.
Hockey parent and award-winning KARE Field Producer Dana Thiede was an under assistant record promo man at age eight. In addition to a stack of promotional 45 rpm discs which included an early effort by Steely Dan, Dana purchased Let it Be for three dollars. Even at a young age, Thiede got a feeling that it was a classic upon his first listen.
James Dowling, a fixture on the Tulsa music scene since the 60's, bought You Can't Sit Down by the Dovells. Surfin' USA by the Beach Boys was his first LP purchased at Jubilee City in Tulsa for $2.97. He was so impressed with the record he went out and bought a bass guitar. The hook was set for his musical career with Lonnie Mack whom he saw in 1963. After that he played in bands for decades and continues to do so.
We'll end this careening ride down the mountain road of first musical buys with a memory from a former colleague I worked with at a local television station. Thomas Olson bought a Buddy Holly album when Buddy was still alive. He doesn't even want to think how long ago that was.
The Hartbeat goes on...
The Musical Notes
Roll Over Beethoven was a 1956 hit for Chuck Berry. It was released on the legendary Chess label. An article in Rolling Stone claims that Berry wrote the song in response to his sister, Lucy, playing classical music on the piano when he wanted to play popular music. The song has been widely covered and was a favorite of the Beatles who recorded it in 1963 for their second British LP.
Ruby Tuesday was the flip side of the single, Let's Spend the Night Together, and reached number one on the charts in the U.S. in 1967. Flowers was a compilation album that included material that had appeared previously as singles on other albums, tracks from British albums and three new songs. The album reached number three status on the charts in the summer of 1967.
Besides being Vivian Hart's first record purchase, Ricky Nelson's Poor Little Fool was the first number one record on the newly created Billboard Magazine Hot 100 chart in 1958. The song was written by a teenager, Sharon Sheeley, who at that time was the youngest female songwriter to have a number one hit. Vivian's love of the Everly brothers was also shared by Sheeley, who wrote Poor Little Fool about her failed relationship with Don Everly.
There is a Minnesota connection to Sharon Sheeley through Albert Lea native, Eddie Cochran. Sheeley was a passenger along with Cochran and rocker Gene Vincent in the taxi that crashed on the way to the London Airport in April of 1960. Cochran was killed and Vincent suffered serious injuries. Sheeley broke her pelvis in the accident and when she was well enough to return to the United States, she continued songwriting. Sheeley wrote hits for Jackie DeShannon and Brenda Lee. An album of her previously recorded songs was released in 2000. The album, Songwriter, does not have any vocals by Sheeley, but does feature future stars, Glen Campbell, Mac Davis, P.J Proby and Herb Alpert as singers. Among the studio musicians on this record were Leon Russell, Hal Blaine and Delanely Bramlett who had successful musical careers as well.
Ain't No Way, was written by Aretha Franklin's sister, Carolyn Franklin and was the B side of Aretha's 1968 hit, Baby, Baby, Sweet Baby (Since You've Been Gone). Carolyn, Aretha's older sister, Emma and Cissy Houston were the background vocalists on the recording. Cissy Houston's daughter, Whitney sang the song during live performances, including a VH-1 Diva television show with Mary J. Blige.
No Reply, was the first song on the British release, Beatles For Sale and the U.S. album, Beatles 65. In the U.S. the Beatles 65 was a huge hit entering the charts at #98 and jumping to #1. This was the biggest jump for an album on the Billboard album charts up to that time. Greg Lew helped in that historic musical leap.
Relayer was the seventh studio album released by Yes. It is the only Yes album which did not include keyboard player, Rick Wakeman.
Tony Joe White wrote and recorded Poke Salad Annie in 1969. It combined the life of a southern girl with a plant that many scientists believe is toxic to mammals. Despite warnings, poke has been a staple of U.S. southern cuisine. To reduce the toxins, young poke weeds are boiled three times with the water discarded after each boil. The resulting product is used to make poke salad. This tune was not poisonous for Tony Joe White or for Elvis, who immediately recorded it and featured it in his live shows. Tony Joe White also wrote Rainy Night in Georgia, a hit for Brook Benton.
Slippery When Wet was the third album for Bon Jovi and featured three big singles we now regard as their signature songs: You Give Love a Bad Name, Wanted Dead or Alive and Livin' on a Prayer. The album spent eight weeks on the Billboard charts in 1986.
What's Cooking on the Hartbeat Grill?
The Northern California Bureau sent me a birthday gift that will provide nuggets of information for future Hartbeats. Rock 'n' Roll Chronicles, 1955-1963, by Steve Monnery and Gary Herman, tells the story of rock 'n' roll from Elvis through the Beatles. The book chronicles the years month by month and is well illustrated with photos, facts about key records, significant events and Billboard charts from the U.S and U.K. With the information in this book one can amaze or bore their friends with facts such as: Travelin' Man was the number one hit on the U.S. charts in June of 1961 while Elvis ruled the number one position across the pond in England with Surrender.
A visit to the library again provided a useful reference book, The Encyclopedia of Heavy Metal Music by William Phillips and Brian Cogan. Groups from Accept to Rob Zombie are covered with histories of the bands, highlights concerning individual members and discographies. Little known facts including the names of Alice Cooper's early bands in Phoenix (The Earwigs and The Spiders) and what groups Ronnie Montrose left to form his own group (Edgar Winter) are contained in this 285 page book. If you are ever in need of Metal trivia, this is a great place to turn up the volume on your data seeking amplifier.
The Photo Notes
The image of Tony Joe White was taken in 1972 at the Duluth Arena. A Canotn FT with an 85mm lens, Tri-X film at ASA 1600 was used. The picture of Rick Nelson was taken at a concert in the University of Minnesota Gym in the early 70's using the same equipment.