“HAVING A WILD WEEKEND” – CHAPTER 17 – from HORSE-DOGGIN’ the morrell archives volume one.

CHAPTER 17

HAVING A WILD WEEKEND

I was now working on the weekends and enjoying every minute of it. In February it was raining free tickets to all who wanted to attend. Alice Tully Hall presented John Prine, Carnegie Hall had Mary Travers, and America was playing the Felt Forum.

John Prine was the artist to watch. He was deep, dark and shattered. When you heard him sing “Sam Stone,” you got the blues instantly.

America had just scored with “Ventura Highway” and were at the pinnacle of their career. FM stations loved them and played them in heavy rotation.

In March it was the Bee Gees at Lincoln Center. I loved these guys since I first heard the “New York City Mining Disaster- 1941.” One time I took off school and stood in line to get the best tickets. I sat close and even got a handshake from Robin Gibb. Now Atlantic was giving us free tickets for both nights.

The shows kept coming. Bette Midler at the Capitol Theater in Passaic. Roberta Flack and Quincy Jones at the Felt Forum, Focus at Lincoln Center and finally the Kinks over at St. John’s University in Long Island.

I loved the Kinks and remember getting their first album on my eleventh birthday, along with an electric guitar. I stood with that guitar and pretended to play that debut album over and over. On this evening, Ray did a version of “Celluloid Heroes” with a screen behind him playing old B&W Hollywood movie clips.

“Grand Hotel” was the name of the new Procol Harum album. WB went over the top to promote the record. They held a black-tie party at the Plaza Hotel. Both Joe Smith and Mo Ostin from WB greeted everyone at the door. At one point a Russian Dance Company came out and cleared the floor to perform the Saber Dance. The guest list included Alice Cooper who wore a three piece plaid suit, Todd Rundgren who wore a gold lame’ suit, Bette Midler and Carly Simon.

When it was time to go, I was walking with a few of the WB folks to get my car and we walked by the Copacabana Club. Don Rickles was performing but it was sold out. Don had done an album for WB called “Hello Dummy” so within minutes, after a few front door meetings, we were led inside. The Copa crew was adding a new table right up front for us. Don Rickles started calling all the spouses hookers and it was pissing off the guys. I could see these guys wanted to laugh, but their wives were squeezing their hands. I never laughed so hard in my life.

The WB promotion team was the most creative when it came to breaking new artists. They put together a series of live shows for Long Island’s WLIR-FM Tuesday Night Concert Series. They were broadcast from Ultrasonic Recording Studios and the shows included Little Feat, Graham Central Station, The Good Rats, James Montgomery Band, Grinderswitch, Marshall Tucker Band and Tower of Power. WLIR-FM was playing the greatest music and treating their listeners to some of the finest recordings ever captured. Great looking T-shirts were made up and given away.

Terry Reid came to play a club in the Village in support of his new album. Someone at Atlantic called and asked me if I’d go down to say hello to him and check out the show. Terry was working a new laid-back disc called “River” which was the opposite of what his first two albums sounded like. They called Terry ‘superlungs’, but the week I saw him play he kept it mellow. The record didn’t do well at radio, but the critics liked it. The entire week I saw him play, I think he only did one song from those two early albums.

Lillian Roxon, the rock writer called and asked me if I wanted to go see T.Rex open for Three Dog Night and I said yes. On my way to her place, I stopped at Manny’s Guitar Store and ran into Marc Bolan who you couldn’t miss. It was a very hot afternoon and he was wearing a gold lame’ sports coat. I was wearing my home made Beatle Butcher T-shirt and asked if we could take a photograph together. He said it was cool. I loved his records and told him I worked in the warehouse where all his records were. He said, “I hope by touring America, my albums sell out!”

One of the strangest pairing for a show was Atlantic’s Black Oak Arkansas opening for Slade. Slade put on a great show that was full on power chord anthems. “Mama Weer All Crazee Now” is a classic in my book. Black Oak Arkansas tried but couldn’t crack the New York market. I went backstage to say hello to both bands and we got along great. The guys from Black Oak Arkansas invited me down to Bull Shoals Lake, Arkansas for the weekend. I went down and had a great time swimming and fishing off their houseboat.

There was so much activity, I began to write a ‘”Weekend Promotion Roundup” and send it to my boss, the branch manager. Here are a few of them.

Weekend Promotion Roundup-March 4, 1973:

Friday evening I enjoyed watching “The Midnight Special,” a late night rock show featuring many of today’s top artists. Badfinger, one of Warner Bros. new acts, appeared playing new material from their upcoming album.

WCBS-FM (the station has the largest audience of any FM station in America) has adopted a ‘solid gold’ musical format, featuring million-seller hits from 1955 to the top hits of today. In January they went on a play list of 14 records. I am happy to report we hold the Top 3 slots with:

#1 “Killing Me Softly With His Song”/Roberta Flack

#2 “Dueling Banjos”/Deliverance Soundtrack

#3 “Could It Be I’m Falling In Love”/ The Spinners

Saturday afternoon I worked with our salesman on his successful Judy Collins promotion at S. Klein’s in Union Square. To coincide with “Cook With Honey” from her new Elektra release, “True Stories and Other Dreams,” we hired a model in a chef’s outfit to stand behind a stove with jars of honey and give away free cookbooks to all who buy a copy between 10am and 2pm.

On Saturday evening, I attended a concert by the Spinners. With hit singles on Atlantic and nine years experience behind them, the future for the Spinners certainly looks good.

On Sunday evening the Bee Gees gave one of their rare appearances at Philharmonic Hall in New York. Featured on the bill was Jimmy Stevens, a newly signed RSO artist. Jimmy is a cross between Cat Stevens, Ray Charles, and Randy Newman, if you can imagine that!

The Bee Gees along with a 30-piece orchestra, showed what true professionals they are. With a long line of hits behind them, the Bee Gee’s performed them well, including a 10-minute medley of their new album. I look forward to seeing the Bee Gee’s again this evening.

My report wouldn’t be complete without mentioning that the Best Record of the Year at the Grammy awards was presented to Roberta Flack for “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” Atlantic 13054. I predict that Miss Flack will be the first artist to win the honor two years in a row. Also worth mentioning is that America won a Grammy for Best New Artist in 1972.

 

Weekend Promotion Roundup- March 12, 1973:

After seeing the incredible Alice Cooper so many times in the past, I wondered why I was so eager to drive all the way to Philadelphia to see them again. After all, they are coming to New York in June. After a long delay we were ready. When the show was finally over we were still ready, to throw up! WHEW!! What a show. The highlight of the new show is to have Alice decapitated and have the killer hold his bloody head up for all to see! Stay away from this tour if you have a weak stomach.

Saturday I went back to the S. Klein’s on Fourteenth Street in New York for the finale of the Judy Collins promotion. This week with the album on sale and an ad in the paper, we had a much bigger turnout than the previous week.

Saturday evening I attended the Bette Midler concert at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, NJ. Yes, Passaic, NJ. As the Divine Miss M said, “On this tour we’re only playing the tackiest towns in the United States.” This show, unlike her New Year’s Eve show, featured many tracks from her next LP. New tunes included “Chattanooga Choo-Choo,” “Da Do Ron Ron,” “Do You Love Me” and “Auld Lang Syne.” If you have never seen the Divine Miss M please do, don’t hesitate.

Quick Flashes. Biggest thing on the FM radio all weekend was the new Procol Harum LP. The new Chris Rush LP looks like a winner for late night programming. Mickey Newbury was heard almost everywhere else this weekend and from across the ocean in England, The Faces “Cindy Incidentally” went from 21 to 3!

 

Weekend Promotion Roundup- March 19, 1973;

Friday evening I had the great pleasure of meeting the Spinners. I had seen them a few weeks ago, but after receiving a couple of backstage passes Friday morning, I was in great anticipation of meeting them. They enjoyed talking about the old days and some of the clubs they played in the early part of their career. Their first album on Atlantic Records should put them in the superstar category.

Miss Roberta Flack headlined the gala event with Quincy Jones at the Felt Forum Saturday evening. At my last count there were over 30 musicians gathered on stage. The first half of the show reached a high point when the group, with Quincy Jones, performed the TV theme of “Ironsides.” When Miss Flack joined the entourage midway through the second half of the show, the crowd was ecstatic. The climax naturally was “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” and “Killing Me Softly With His Song,” however, her take on “Suzanne” proved to be strong and may follow her last #1 right up the charts.

  1. Manassas on “In Concert” Friday evening more than made up for their absence from the public the last few months. Randy Newman also made a rare appearance on the same show. See you all at the Grateful Dead concert tonight.

I was taking my job seriously and wanted to succeed. I started coming up with suggestions that could improve the department and now I was working more closely with the sales and promotion staffs.

For the King Karol stores in Manhattan, we came up with a plan for the new WB release of Captain Beefheart’s “Clear Spot.” On Tuesday, March 6th, all personnel of the King Karol stores and warehouse will be wearing Captain Beefheart turtleneck shirts. (They were bright red). This, along with the Captain Beefheart posters already on display, will make for a worthwhile effort to push this fine album.

Meanwhile, awaiting me at the post office was a large envelope from Godzilla. The new catalog arrived and it had 100 albums that were legit on the front and the ‘Trademark of Quality” bootleg releases on the back. The new releases for the month were the Beatles “Hollywood Bowl 1964,” the Beatles “The Get Back Sessions, Volume 2,” David Bowie “In America,” Crosby & Nash “A Very Stoney Evening,” Deep Purple “Purple for a Day,” Bob Dylan “BBC Broadcast,” The Grateful Dead “Hollywood Palladium,” Led Zeppelin “BBC Broadcast,” the Rolling Stones “Winter Tour 73,” the Who “Fillmore East” and Neil Young “Boulder, Colorado.” What a list. I wanted all of them.

At work nobody ever spoke of bootlegs. Occasionally, if I was with a DJ, I’d ask him about playing bootlegs and he said it was taboo.

I remember when I went to see the Who’s two shows at Flushing Meadows in Forest Hills, NY back in ‘71. I taped one show with a cassette player, then I transferred it an 8-track so I could listen in my car. I took a review of the show from the New York Times, cut it out and pasted it on the 8-track. I played that tape thousands of time, not caring at all about the quality. It brought me instantly back to the experience I had with the Who.

I enjoyed listening to tapes of shows that I had attended. I taped a 10 Years After show, a Kinks show, a Faces show and I’d trade them with other fans. Once I had a good quality tape of the Who’s afternoon show at the Metropolitan Opera House doing their rock opera “Tommy” for what was supposed to be one of their final performances. I was a fan.

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“Post Office Box E Kearny, NJ”

New excerpt from the new book HORSE-DOGGIN’ – the morrell archives volume 1, available at amazon:

 

 

Post Office Box E Kearny, NJ

GOSSIP COLUMN – OKLAHOMA JOURNAL, Tuesday, May, 2 1972

Q. Though the Beatles as a group are no more, I wonder if there are others like me who still groove on them, like to collect stuff about them, and feel deserted since there are no more fan clubs?

A. Yes, there are many Beatlemaniac’s, the leading one being Dave Morrell, who recently held a Beatle freak convention at his home. Collectors and fans came to trade treasures, for Morrell’s amateur inter- est in the subject is unending. He spends all his time corresponding with other Beatle fans, telling them what’s for sale, where the rare shops are, and what’s to be traded. Morrell’s address is Post Office Box E, Kearny, NJ.

 

Now I was getting 50 letters a day. I would call those that were close by and included phone numbers. One of them was from a kid a few miles away in Clifton, NJ. His name was Ron Furmanek.

Ron was fifteen years old and moments away from dropping out of high school. He couldn’t drive so I went to meet him. He told me to meet him at a pizza joint across from the firehouse. First thing he did was point to the jukebox and tell me how he’d leave little notes on the back for the man who would come to change the records each month. Ron would ask the man to save him the rare ‘made only for jukebox’ records. He said it worked and when we got to his home he showed me a few that you could never buy in a store. They were fantastic. One was a mini album of “Beatles Second Album” that I’d never seen.

Ron’s home was normal. A loving mom with a huge smile in the kitchen, dad in the living room, engaging, easy going, and friendly.

Then we got upstairs.

First you had to go through Ron’s big brother’s room to get to his. His brother’s room looked like a record store. The posters on the wall were the kind you would only see in a record shop. You couldn’t buy posters like these. The Faces, Neil Young, Gordon Lightfoot and Frank Sinatra covered his walls. Then I began to enter Ron’s room. It was unbelievable. Head to toe, every square inch of the entire room, including the ceiling was covered with Elvis and the Beatles. Even the light switches were covered, from large 6-foot posters to tiny cutouts from old newspapers.

Ron had a huge blow up of the cover of Life magazine from Asia with the Beatles on the cover. The text read “The New Far-Out Beatles” and “Marijuana’s Turned-on Millions.” It was stunning. John was wearing a cape in the photo. Ron also had the American version of Life magazine for that week, but the picture of the Beatles was on the inside. I wondered how on earth he could get something like that all the way from Asia. Then he showed me a Beatles 78 r.p.m. official record from India. It was a beautiful sight but how did he get it? Where do you buy 78’s? And if you could find them, how did one from India show up in America?

He showed me two copies of “Introducing the Beatles” on Vee-Jay Records. They looked the same to me on the cover, but when he turned them over, both records had a few different track listings. I would have never noticed it without it being pointed out.

The highlight of his collection was the ‘Meet the Beatles” motion display. It was large and the Beatles heads would move from side to side. I had never seen it before. He even had a mint unused one in it’s original box in his closet. He also showed me what he considered to be the second greatest promotional piece ever made. It was the HELP! display. It was a motorized box that opens with hands popping out, and then closes. There were Beatle photographs on all four sides and on the top. It was large!

Turns out Ron had been collecting records since he was a very little boy. He kept exceptional care of his records. He’d not only have the picture cover in plastic, but the disc too. These were mint records.

Ron’s collection at that young age was incredible. With every new gem came a story that left me speechless and my jaw dropped. He didn’t even drive, but he was driven to collect the rarest records I have ever seen.

Ron & I began a journey together. We were all over the city scouting places for rare records and any Beatle memorabilia. We started meeting on Saturday mornings on the corner of Fourteenth St. and Broadway and making the rounds through all of Greenwich Village, East Village and West Village to every record store, book store, movie memorabilia store, second hand junk store we could find and there were many of them in those days.

The original Golden Disc on W. Tenth St. was the last stop in the Village on our route and guess what? Ron had a job working there. His hands were on the rarest records and he knew the subject well.

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“YELLOW MATTER CUSTARD” – The Morrell Archives Vol. 1

CHAPTER 3 – from the JUNE 2014 release of “HORSE-DOGGIN'”- The Morrell Archives Vol 1.

 

 

I was at the tail end of the recent Rolling Stone magazine, when I saw an ad in the back that looked interesting. It was a mail order company out of Glendale, CA called Godzilla. They had a Beatle album they were calling “Yellow Matter Custard” and it had songs on it I never heard of. They included “I Got a Woman,” “Glad All Over,” “I Just Don’t Understand,” “Slow Down,” “Don’t Ever Change,” “A Shot of Rhythm & Blues,” “Sure To Fall,” “Nothin’ Shakin’ (But the Leaves on the Tree),” “Lonesome Tears In My Eyes,” “So How Come,” “I’m Gonna’ Sit Right Down and Cry,” “Crying, Waiting, Hoping,” “To Know Her Is To Love Her” and “The Honeymoon Song.”

The only song I knew was “Slow Down” and I wondered how could this album have a dozen songs that I never heard of before? I never read about the Beatles recording these titles. One song title was “Glad All Over,” which I immediately thought was the Beatles singing a Dave Clark Five hit.

I sent the money and the record came with Godzilla’s list of bootleg albums. This was serious reading material for a kid like me. Bootleg albums were hard to find and this place had a huge list that I was interested in.

I busted the album open and ran to the record player. The disc was red vinyl with no song titles. I got it on the turntable and immediately stood back, not knowing what was coming on. I jacked up the volume and began to listen. “I Got a Woman” was the first track and John Lennon started singing. I was convinced it was John, but was it the Beatles? Yes! It was the Beatles. There was no doubt in my mind.

This was too good to be true. I was listening to a brand new Beatle album that I never heard about and it was thrilling. By the time “I Just Don’t Understand” came on, the record changed quality. It was like the music was taped off a radio and someone was playing with the tuning knob. I knew right away this was a copy of something that had been played on the radio, taped, and then made into a disc, but I didn’t care, the track sounded like a hit Beatle song to me.

“Slow Down” came on and was running a little fast, but I got real close to the speaker to hear if this was the original version, an outtake, or a live version with no audience. It wasn’t the exact recording my ears were used to but it was close. John’s screams were there, George’s guitar was close to what I was used to hearing. To me, this was a professional recording, just not finished. It even had a cold ending.

“A Shot of Rhythm & Blues” came on and it made me dance around. My arms were flailing. I turned the volume up as high as I could. I could only imagine how great the master of these songs must sound. This could have been a hit for the Beatles. I was excited. This was a gem. I wondered if this was original material or a cover. I knew the only way to find out was to try to find someone to ask John Lennon and that man was Howard Smith, who often had written about John & Yoko and had them up to his radio show on WPLJ-FM.

I got into action. I looked for a pen, grabbed a sheet of paper and started scribbling. I told Howard the story and was firm about this being a Beatles album. I put a self addressed stamped envelope in there in case he wanted to reply. For the next week I played the “Yellow Matter Custard” album over and over and over. I asked everyone I knew about the songs. No one had a clue. There were no research books on the Beatles back in ‘71.

Meanwhile, out of the blue, the local paper, the Newark Star Ledger, ran a story on John & Yoko in their Sunday section. The date was November 7, 1971. It had a great big picture of the two of them at the top.

One thing stood out in the article. It said: “The Lennons’ have been living in New York now for several months, in a seventeenth floor suite at the St. Regis Hotel. Their room contains a complete 16 mm editing room, a powerful stereo system, Chuck Berry albums everywhere you look, assorted books by authors including Realist editor Paul Krassner and the Reverend Daniel Berrigan, several paintings of skulls, a large rack of clothes, a glowing color TV, two acoustical guitars, a vase with yellow roses, and walls covered with posters, plus a rare copy of a withdrawn Beatles album cover of boys dressed as butchers and holding bloody, decapitated dolls and slabs of meat.”

I was salivating when I read that. To me, the Beatles Butcher cover was a holy grail. A real Beatles album cover that was used and then taken back due to poor taste. To the Beatles and the designer, it was art. I didn’t even see a real Butcher cover until the 70’s.

Thirty days later, on December 7, 1971, a month to the day I read about John having his Butcher cover, I was holding it in my hands.

“CLASS OF ’71” – the morrell archives volume 1

The last day of high school arrived. I was floating on air. All those years of getting up and going to school were finally over. Now I could stay up late and never get out of bed.

The radio was tuned to the FM dial and it was playing static free music in stereo where the DJs would whisper instead of shout at us, where they didn’t talk over the records and they played the kind of music we liked, the Beatles, The Rollin’ Stones and Bob Dylan.

I went from playing 45’s on the record player in my room to playing double albums while lying on the bed with headphones. I was out-of-touch with the real world. The only appetite I had was for more music, concerts and magazines that wrote about the rock & roll scene.

June of 1971 was a great time to be eighteen years old. “I’m Eighteen” by Alice Cooper was my anthem. It was new and fresh and against everything that was proper. Parents hated it. Alice was a boy with a girl’s name. Their sound was brash. I used to play “I’m Eighteen” over and over and louder and louder till my fist got tighter and tighter.

The Fillmore East was the place to see concerts and now Bill Graham announced it was closing, but lucky for me, one of those last shows was Alice Cooper. I stood in line and had great seats. When they hit the stage, it looked like the guys were wearing silver lame’ costumes and I started to laugh until those power chords were blasting me out of my chair. I was rubbing my eyes when Alice came out dressed in black with mascara on his eyes and torn up clothing.

This combination of a madman leading a group of really long hair creatures and performing songs from my favorite album was way beyond compare. It was a joyous rapture in my ears. When the show was almost over, the band grabbed fire extinguishers and let loose. We all stood and cheered. This was my first Alice Cooper show, but not my last.

You felt like the king of the hill going to shows in New York City with your friends, especially the Fillmore East. Half the people I knew in Kearny, NJ wouldn’t set foot in New York, to them it was like going to California. My biggest challenge was getting people to go with me.

The following week, the Fillmore was going to present the great guitar player Johnny Winter, billed as Johnny Winter And, with his brother’s band, Edgar Winter’s White Trash opening, but when we arrived they said Johnny wasn’t going to be performing. People were pissed and some of them wanted refunds. We were already in the city, at the venue, and it was close to midnight, so we went anyway. To the surprise of our lives, we got to see Albert King and B.B. King.

We were young white kids from the suburbs who had dipped our toe in the blues, and had seen B.B. open for the Rolling Stones back on Thanksgiving ’69, but tonight we were getting a lesson from the true masters.

At 5 o’clock in the morning, after a long set, a sweating B.B. came back out on stage, but this time his guitar ‘Lucille’ was in her case, and his jacket was on his arm. He told us it was time to go and then he bowed and thanked us and wished us a good day.

After a long standing ovation, B.B. left the stage and security opened the side doors. It was dawn and we were drained too. We marched our crooked little bodies back up Second Avenue, along St. Marks Place, crossing over Broadway to Eighth Street, past where Buddy Holly lived back in late ‘58 and then down the stairs to take the train home.

I made it to my room and put on the FM radio. It was 7:00am and the DJ was taking calls so I dialed him up and got on the air. I let everyone know what happened at the Fillmore. I said it was a shame people wanted to leave when they heard Johnny wasn’t going to be performing. I told them how B.B. blew us away and gave us 100% of his time and effort. I hung up the phone got under the covers and slept the day away.

It was summertime, and the living was easy.

The radio was my best friend when I was alone in my room and late one Sunday evening in June, I put it on and instead of the usual show, it sounded like John & Yoko were at the station and had taken over. I stopped what I was doing and began to listen to what was going on. It was John & Yoko screaming, crying, whispering, shouting, asking questions, getting into different characters.

For an hour, I’d never heard anything like this on a radio station. There were no commercials, no DJ in charge, it was pure wonderful chaos. Then John started answering the telephone and people were saying the wildest things to him. John was playing along and digging it. The crazier the caller, the further he took it.

At that moment, I knew I had to try to get through. All the while, my head was spinning trying to figure out what to say if John Lennon answered the telephone. I had to come with a gimmick. After much thought I came up with a doozy. I needed to get my name in there, and I wanted to say something about bootlegs to see if he’d bite and comment, and I thought it would be a good idea to throw in a reference to the Bob Dylan bootleg, “The Great White Wonder.”

After a few tries, I could hear the phone ringing on the other end. Out of the blue, (the radio show was on tape delay), in my ear, on the phone in my room, in real time, I heard John Lennon whisper to me, “Could you say that again?”

He was so close to me, I opened my eyes to see if he was standing there. I came out with the nuttiest, strangest thing. I said, “DAVE MORRELL KISSED THE GREAT WHITE WONDER.”

John: “Could you say it again, a bit deeper?”

Dave: “Dave Morrell kissed the great white wonder.”

John: “A little deeper please?”

Dave: “Dave Morrell kissed the great white wonder.”

John: “Could you possibly, just a little deeper?”

Dave: “Dave Morrell kissed the great white wonder.”

John: “If you could just go possibly just go one more, a little deeper I think we’re really getting there.”

Dave: “Dave Morrell kissed the great white wonder.”

John: “One more and we’ve really got it.”

Yoko: “John, I don’t think he’s deep enough.”

Dave: “Dave Morrell kissed the great white wonder.”

John: “You’ve won Mayor Lindsey’s legs, thank you, good night.”

When I heard the phone hang up in my ear, I turned to the radio and cranked it up to hear the tail end of John speaking with me. It was the beginning of my relationship with him. Months later when I met him, he remembered that call.

 

“JOHN WANTS TO MEET YOU”- the morrell archives vol. 1

excerpt from the new book HORSE-DOGGIN’ – the morrell archives volume 1, available at amazon:

Chapter 4

“JOHN WANTS TO MEET YOU”

I got home from horsing around and there was a message for me. It said a man named Howard Smith from the Village VOICE called you, call him back. I was dazed.  I was a fan who read his “scenes” column and listened to his radio show. To me, Howard was a star and this was the most important call I ever got. I didn’t even ask permission to call New York City from New Jersey, I just called the number.

A woman answered and said, “The Village VOICE, may I help you?” I asked for Howard and he immediately picked up and was full of excitement.  “Dave, it’s Howard. I showed your letter to John and he wants to meet you! When can you come in?” I told him I was free anytime. He suggested the following evening.

It was time to do some heavy thinking. What will this be like? What should I bring? Should I bring a camera and take pictures? Will I be able to ask for an autograph? Is this a quick in and out?  My mind was relentless thinking up dumb stuff. I grabbed a suitcase that was small and compact and could hold some memorabilia.

Howard said to pick him up at the Village VOICE office and we’d drive over to the studio and get to know each other. I got to the city, parked the car, and told the receptionist I was here. Howard came down and shook my hand. We hit it off immediately. He said, “I want you to know, I feel comfortable bringing you to meet John. He meets many people and they all hang on him, but I think this is gonna work out fine.”

He directed me up Eighth Avenue to 44th Street, home of Record Plant East, one of the great recording studios. We arrived, parked, walked in and opened a thick, large door on the first floor and before I could watch my step, I saw John Lennon standing there to greet us. He was the first to extend his hand and say, “Hello, come on in.” My first thought was how much bigger I was standing next to him. When did I get so tall? He said, “We’re recording now, sit yourself down, and we’ll talk at the break.”  So I sat down in front of the recording console and peered into the studio.

Inside were David Peel and his band, the Lower East Side. They were working on a song called “The Ballad Of New York City/John Lennon-Yoko Ono.” I must have heard it ten times, repeatedly, and each time John was trying his best to nail down the sound that he heard when he first saw them playing in Washington Square Park. John loved their busking sound and he said it reminded him of his Quarrymen group when he first got started in Liverpool. John would even be playing with Peel and his gang the following week on the David Frost TV show. He was committed to producing a great record for David.

While sitting there, a joint was being passed around and everyone shared it.  They worked for half and hour and then something unusual happened.

John pushed the button to talk to David in the studio, “That’s it, we got it, what’s next?” At that moment, Peel said, “We can’t start the next one yet, I forgot the words at home.”  John said, “All right, go get them and hurry, we’ll wait.”

Peel said he’d grab a cab and be right back.

Everyone behind the console stood up to stretch and that’s when John said to me, “What have you got tonight?”  With both hands and a little bow, I graciously handed him the Yellow Matter Custard bootleg and gave him the Godzilla catalog and told him it was where I found the record and some other great bootlegs. I was hoping he wouldn’t be mad and start screaming about people who rip off artists this way, but he was the opposite, and wanted to know all about the Dylan and Rolling Stones bootlegs. I told him Godzilla was in California so he ought a think about ordering them.

John was now holding the bootleg in his hand and looking over the song titles I had written out. Without hearing it, he said he couldn’t be sure, but he knew the songs and said they were from 10 years ago and looked like they could be the Decca audition tape. I asked him about “Glad All Over” since I was only aware of it at the time by the Dave Clark Five. He laughed and said it was a song George found and brought to the group. When he saw “To Know Him Is To Love Him” he flipped. “PHIL SPECTOR!” he yelled and asked me if I’d heard the Teddy Bears version.

We spoke about the Beatles doing their version of “Slow Down” and John went bonkers teaching me all about Larry Williams, one of the greatest rock & roll singers, who he loved as much as Chuck Berry.  John even told me to listen very close to the way Larry cries out some of his lines with a gravelly grind just like he did on “This Boy” at the part when he sings “’til he sees you cry-y-y-y.” John said that was pure Larry Williams’ influence on him.

John was really lit up talking about the titles and was hoping we could play them, but the engineer said there was no record player. As we were talking, I pulled out the “Savage Young Beatles” album and he screamed, “WE WERE SAVAGES!” I told him that ‘SAVAGE’ was the name of the record company. So it was like saying THE VEE-JAY YOUNG BEATLES. He shrugged and said he loved it and wanted it, so I gave him the album.

Next up, I yanked out “Best of the Beatles” the Pete Best album with the old Hamburg photo of the Beatles with Pete. At first John looked at it and said he knew nothing about it.  I told him, “Look, they circled Pete’s head, so it’s ‘(Pete) Best of the Beatles.” He howled while we all laughed.

John was in such a playful mood. He was sarcastic and witty and enjoyed seeing all the Beatle goodies. He looked great too. He was wearing a white shirt, blue jeans and brown boots. He was very comfortable and stoned.

This was the same week Capitol Records released “Happy Christmas (War is Over).” At first he said he was miffed Capitol got it out so late, but was relieved it was finally on the radio.

Early in my collecting days I knew a place in the Village that sold the English music papers, Sounds and Melody Maker, but the newspapers had to come by boat and were always six weeks behind, but it was still a good rock & roll read with super photographs.

One day, I came upon a classified ad that some girl posted. She said she was selling two pictures of the Beatles ‘taken’ at the Cavern Club, and one later photograph that was autographed by all of them. The price was expensive. A whopping 90 bucks! That was like nine grand to me! A few things crossed my mind. Were they photos someone took at the Cavern that no one had ever seen? Were the autographs real? Since the newspaper was six weeks old, were they still available?

I took a shot and sent her the money. When the stuff came, I was blown away. Yes, the two photos were taken from the Cavern. I mean taken, like stolen. These were professional shots with the photographer’s name stamped on the back.  It’s the Beatles rehearsing at the Cavern Club with Ringo on drums and his name on the drumhead in black masking tape. They were from August of 1962.

The photo with the autograph on the back was a picture from late 1964 and was signed by all of them, but not to anyone, just four generic signatures and was beautiful to look at. I brought these to show John.

When I took out the Cavern pictures he fell in love with them and asked me if I brought them for him. I had to gulp and tell him that I just bought them and wanted to know if he’d ever seen them.  He said he loved seeing these old photographs when they were just a great rock & roll band. I told him I’d give him the originals, but I’d like to make myself copies first and he was cool with that.

Then I showed him the autographs and asked him if he thought they were real and he said yes.  Then I took out the Beatles Bubblegum card that shows the boys with no hair. John went ape and he laughed out loud, “I LOOK JAPANESE!” You’ve got to show this to Yoko. Yoko had been sitting outside on a hard chair reading a book. I walked over, she looked up, and I said, “John wanted me to show this to you.” She grabbed it from my hand and took her pen and quickly autographed it without looking at it. I retreated back inside the studio.

I had a can of Pepsi from Japan with a picture of the Beatles from 1968 on it. It was rare to see the Beatles image on a soda brand so I wanted to show John. He knew nothing about it and had never seen it. I also had a can of the Beatles Talc from England and he loved the smell and opened it and ran around putting in down everyone’s back. In the room was Howard, John, the engineer, and me.

I also had some very piss poor photos I had taken of the Beatles at Shea Stadium and wanted to show him and talk to him about that show. Did the Beatles ever rehearse for an upcoming tour? Did they ever think to change the set list?  Did they think about dropping some of their biggest hits in favor of the new material?

In 1965 and 1966 when I saw them, they didn’t do “I Want To Hold Your Hand” or “She Loves You.” In 1966, “Yellow Submarine” was the big hit at the time but they didn’t play that either. Could they perform something new that we hadn’t heard?  The Revolver album was 90 days away.

John said they were always busy and couldn’t rehearse, and it was too hard to include the newer songs because he couldn’t remember the words and besides, they were too complicated to play live.

John then asked me what I was looking for and I told him the Beatle Butcher album cover.  I told him I read that he had one at his apartment. Howard Smith wanted to know what I was talking about as he wasn’t a Beatles fan and never heard of it.  John began to talk about it and Howard was getting more interested and began asking more questions.  John picked up the phone, called his apartment and spoke to someone and told him where to find it and to bring it over to the studio. The guy brought it over and John showed us. He handed it to me to look at. I held it in my hands for a moment and gazed at it. The very record I read about a month ago was in my hands. I handed it back to John who saw how turned on we all were.

John was a Beatle fan and encouraged me to look for more rarities.  He egged me on. He told me to be looking for “What a Shame Mary Jane.” He said it was a happening and a must hear! I asked him what else was in the can, and he shouted “She Loves You” in German. I told him Capitol released it already and we laughed. He told me the only unreleased tapes he knew of were the Hollywood Bowl shows, Shea Stadium and something from Italy. I said thanks, and that I’d be on the lookout.

Peel had returned and it was time to pack up the show & tell. Honestly, I didn’t want to ask for a photograph or an autograph. Things went so well, I just had a feeling we’d meet again and we did.

As I packed up and got ready to leave, John took a pen to the Butcher cover. He drew a big bubble above his head and wrote: To Dave, From John Lennon, Dec. 7, ‘71, then he smiled and handed me his own personal copy of the Beatles Butcher cover.

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