50 years on, at the closing of Woodstock, Hong Kong Beat offers ‘Woodstock 69 – Missing In Action’

It’s said that Woodstock was remarkable, not for what happened but for what didn’t happen, the expected mayhem. As the festival closed to Hendrix’s never- to-be-equalled free jam of the ‘Star Spangled Banner’, nobody was thinking of what else didn’t happen, such as the huge bands that didn’t make it.

So, for your pleasure, Hong Kong Beat offers the Woodstock 69 MIA Festival of bands who were invited (or might or might not have been invited, some of the memories of organizers are a little fuzzy from back then) but either turned it down or didn’t make it. The song choices are of course mine, but as these were all songs in their catalogues from before Woodstock, it’s a good bet they would have been played, if they had been there. Continue reading to the end and click on Max Yasgur’s farm to go to the mix-tape.

The Young Rascals – They were big at the time and ‘Grooving’ was a summer of love anthem, but turned it down to work on their new album.

Tommy James & The Shondells – Another big summer of love band with ‘Crystal Blue Persuasion’, but turned it down when they were told “Yeah, listen, there’s this pig farmer in upstate New York that wants you to play in his field.”

Chicago Transit Authority – Were billed to play but their promoter pulled them out for a gig at Filmore West the same weekend, and substituted new act Santana instead. I loved CTA in those days, but thank you Bill Graham for pushing Santana’s breakout that weekend. I’ve seen Chicago twice, and Santana three times since then 😀

Blues Image – Another big band of the summer of love, but their manager convinced them not to play because of the rain and chaotic roads.

Jeff Beck Group – Booked but broke up week before apparently because he didn’t want Woodstock to be a memorial for the band.

The Byrds – Felt burned out by festivals already that summer and didn’t think it was going to be a big issue, together with concerns over payment. Later said they regretted their decision.

Jethro Tull – Ian Anderson had an aversion to “drugged out hippies” and was “put off by naked women, unless the time is right”, also saying he didn’t want to “spend the weekend in a field full of unwashed hippies.” Played Isle of Wight two weeks later though…

The Moody Blues – Were originally billed to play but had a clash with a gig in Paris.

James Taylor – Was considered but was under contract to the Beatles label, Apple, and his appearance didn’t pan out when the Beatles hoped for appearance fell through.

Joni Mitchell – Wanted to be there and was originally planned to play but her manager advised against it in case she missed the Dick Cavett TV show a few days after.

Simon & Garfunkel – Were invited but turned it down as they were too busy. Art was in the middle of filming Catch-22 and the duo were busy getting songs together for Bridge Over Trouble Water. They can be forgiven for missing Woodstock on both counts.

The Doors – Jim Morrison was reported to have agoraphobia and a fear of being shot. Later the band said that it was because they thought it would be a second class Monterey Pop Festival.

Spirit – They were an influential West Coast band of the 60s, who were headlining supported by Led Zep just a few months before (and who may have been the “inspiration” for ‘Stairway to Heaven’). Were invited but declined to instead launch a promotional tour.

Rolling Stones – Some reports say they weren’t invited because, when first approached, Mick said he was too busy filming ‘Ned Kelly’ in Australia. A huge mistake, on both counts.

Iron Butterfly – Billed and were on the way, but got stranded at the airport because of the roads to Woodstock being closed. Asked for a helicopter but the organizers didn’t want to pay for it, probably in case every other band wanted one (and by day one, they reportedly already knew they were in the hole for about US$1m!)

Frank Zappa – “A lot of mud at Woodstock…We were invited to play there, we turned it down.” Zappa later said he never regretted it as he loathed hippies. My selection of ‘Willie The Pimp’ was only recorded some time in July or August of 69 and wasn’t released until October that year, but it’s my bet that a raw free jam of the 9+ minutes song would have been one of the highlights of the festival, if Frank had taken the Mothers there.

Free – Turned it down for no known reason, but played Isle of Wight two weeks later instead. My theory is it might have been because they almost needed parental permission, as bass player Andy Fraser had only just turned 17 at the time!

Procul Harem – Were invited but were tired out after their own long tour, plus the impending birth of Robin Trower’s first child.

Pink Floyd – A bit of a mystery, were they invited or were they not? Accounts differ, even from reliable sources. Several reasons for not being there, first they weren’t invited (as they weren’t yet known in the USA); they were invited but were touring Europe at the time (true); they were invited but turned it down because as a band they were suffering issues, like Syd Barrett’s mental condition (also true); not invited because their kind of music didn’t seem to fit the billing, but I reckon 9+ minutes of  ‘Interstellar Overdrive’ would have made some of the “bad brown acid” pretty unnecessary.

Led Zeppelin – Were invited but were also headlining at a nearby festival that same weekend, and it’s said that their manager didn’t want them to share the line up with other bands. Rock stars? Egos? Nah…

Bob Dylan – Lots of reasons given, sick son, hated the chaos near his home near the actual Woodstock, originally intended festival site, but actually he set sail for UK on Aug 15th to play the Isle of Wight festival two weeks later.

The Beatles – Were supposedly asked (through John Lennon it seems), but as they had all but broken up and hadn’t performed in concert together for 3 years, it’s unlikely in the acrimony between them, that they would have reformed just for this. Other suggestions say Lennon was invited but thought his drug convictions would get in the way, whereas another theory suggests it was because his request for Yoko Ono’s Plastic Ono Band to perform was turned down. As Lennon might have said “Imagine nearly half a million people singing ‘Give Peace a Chance’” What a missed opportunity.

(click on the photo to go to the music link)

Max Yasgur’s farm.

Hong Kong Beat tripping with the Summer of Love at Woodstock 50 years on!

1969, The Summer of Love and Woodstock, 50 years on. Wow!

In this blogcast, Hong Kong Beat brings you a selection of tracks from the band set lists, in appearance order, from the three days of music and a dawning of a new age that, even though it wasn’t the biggest, best, or even the first music festival of its kind, it set down a marker in modern history of music and human culture.

At 14, it marked something in my life too, when on 15 August 1969 in UK, a friend of mine said he wanted to hitchhike there and I asked him how he hoped to get there in time and over the ocean. “Don’t be daft” he said, or something similar, “it’s at Woodstock, over near Oxford” (about 20 miles away from where we lived) – so, I learned that some people are dimmer than a burned out light bulb!

While it was all a bit mysterious to me at the time, it sent messages about music and its power to move people, something that struck a note with me as I had just had my first DJing experience a few months before, which led to my first kiss!

Peace out ✌️

(Click the picture for the music link)

proxy.duckduckgo.com

To the Moon and Back – Hong Kong Beat’s musical tribute to the Apollo 11 moon landing

Whether you believe what was broadcast around the World to billions of people fifty years ago today, or believe it was just a huge hoax, what can not be disagreed upon, mankind changed this day, July 20th 1969.

The human race had stepped away from its home and planted feet on an extraterrestrial body (okay, I’m with the it happened crowd, but even if we didn’t, mankind has the belief that we did, a belief that has forever changed us).

In selecting music to mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, it was tempting to do what many others are no doubt doing, going for catchy tunes about space and the moon, but which owe nothing to the extraordinary exploits of the men, Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins, who went there. So while it hurts to leave out ‘Space Oddity’ (it was inspired by Kubrick’s 2001 Space Odyssey, not Apollo), ‘Rocket Man’ (inspired by a 1950s science fiction story), Police ‘Walking on the Moon’ (a drunken night in a room in Munich), and REM’s ‘Man on the Moon’ (about comedian Andy Kaufman, not Armstrong), I’ve selected some of the actual songs that they suggested to a music producer friend to put together for a small pre-Walkman type cassette player, intended for them to make spoken notes, and which they played while on the journey, or on the moon itself.

Okay, I’ve allowed myself some artistic license with the opening selection, Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight Sonata’, because there is no evidence that I’m aware of that they took it on their playlist, nor that it was actually written about the moon, but instead to me, the song has all the right gravitas one might expect of the situation in those final moments before launch. Also, The Byrds selection and John Stewart’s tribute ‘Armstrong’ were released after the epic journey, but have direct relevance; and Zager & Evans apocalyptic song spent most of July and beyond, at the top of the charts, no doubt receiving considerable boost from the events being relayed from Houston.

All of the other songs were choices made by the three astronauts, as suggestions to their friend for what else to include. They reflect emotions of the time such as patriotism, equality, and war; thoughts of humbleness, as well as a good deal of romance and fun, including the oddest of all, Armstrong’s personal choice of the 1940s jazz-exotica piece ‘Music Out Of The Moon’ that, if some accounts are to be believed, he played over the radio as they returned to Earth, eliciting an ironic ‘thanks for ending that’ comment from Houston. His sense of humour, or really his taste in music? We don’t know, but it was just an example of how these men undertook the greatest leap of exploratory faith that man has made since the development of the sail, with a dash of flair, a touch of humour, and a huge helping of humility.

RIP Ranking Roger

Sad to hear today of the death of Ranking Roger, singer with the two-tone band The Beat (aka The English Beat in the USA, and The British Beat in Australia).
The blending of youth culture in music and race, through British two-tone and ska of the 70s and early 80s, seemed to be a beacon for racial integration in an increasingly divided UK at the time.
As a party DJ, it’s always a thrill when you get to play tunes and genres that, these days, are far from mainstream, and so it was when a small group of American lawyers and bankers in their 50s (one very senior in the firm), having their annual staff dinner in a smallish Hong Kong bar, asked if I could play some two-tone.
The bar wasn’t big enough for dancing, but tables and chairs were rapidly pushed aside for them to indulge in a bit of skanking and pogoing in their immaculate tailor-made suits.
To me, seeing that group of well-educated Caucasians embracing a British inter-racial youth culture that, itself, emanated from the poorest parts of Jamaica, was something of a legacy of a movement that almost was.

Roger has to be regarded as one of the pioneers of that movement, and I have to thank him for helping bring the joy of Jamaican music to white rude boys everywhere.

RIP Ranking Roger.

Watch him ranking on YouTube here

Hong Kong Beat mobile disco celebrates summer birthdays with chilled funk, jazz and soul

A little set of summer tunes to chill-out to for Midsummer’s Day 2018

Hong Kong Beat

If, like me, you have a summer birthday, it was often a bummer when you were a kid – school’s out, friends are maybe away on holidays, ice cream melts too quickly and dribbles all over the floor…

But the one thing that makes summer birthday’s better than any those at any other time of the year is when you are at a ‘real’ party age – there are so many great tunes to party or chill-out to 🙂

So, as it’s my birthday on Tuesday Chill-out today, I offer an extended selection of some of my favourite summer chill out songs.

View original post

Cantopop All-stars 80s Dance Party with Hong Kong Beat wedding and party disco

Music in Hong Kong in the 1960s was mostly a choice between Chinese folk, and western pop and rock from the likes of the Beatles, the Carpenters, and such like.

Then, in the 70s, the advent of what was to be termed ‘Cantopop’, Cantonese language songs, mostly written for the city’s burgeoning TV and film industry, brought new stars, as well as crossovers from traditional Chinese music and opera, to the popular market.

Most songs in the 70s were still strongly influenced by pop and folk, as ballads or mid-tempo two-step, jive, and cha cha, however the end of the decade saw the birth of music for a younger generation, the ‘late boomers’, who demanded dance music like the disco, synth pop, and hi-nrg of the West.

Many of the songs were covers of Western hits, but there was creativity and showmanship among the talent as well, and this created new idols, leading to the Four Heavenly Kings of Cantopop, and more Queens than you could shake a sceptre at.

Here are just some of the hot tunes Hong Kong Beat played back then.

 

Hong Kong Beat wedding and party DJ wishes all my Irish friends, followers and clients a great St Patrick’s Day!

“May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow,

And may trouble avoid you, wherever you go.”

Have a great St Patrick’s day listening to this selection of great rock, pop and reeling tunes from some of the Emerald Isle’s finest artists.