“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.

 

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

  1. Dave, where can the book be purchased? It was available briefly on Amazon and its available on Kindle but it seems crazy that a hard copy can not be purchased.

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