woensdag 19 juni 2019

Artists' fees in 1969. A conversation

Today another conversation between Gary, Mark and Wout. It started with a photocopy of a document that does make one wonder what happened to prices in the past 50 years and whether price correction has kept up for us ordinary citizens.... 

Gary, 7-5:
Had this photo of a document sent to me by a friend….. 

Wout, 7-5:
This is quite a price, Gary. Would love to put that on the blog. Can you ask your friend? It would be nice to know what the same bands (that still exist) cost today.

Mark, 7-5:
Interesting to see the relative state of play of some of the top bands shown by the fees they could command. At the top end, The Small Faces had had the most pop profile on British TV during 1968 following their string of hits culminating in Lazy Sunday. Fleetwood Mac were riding high with chart-topping Albatross in November/December. The Pink Floyd, however, were on a par with now largely forgotten Love Sculpture and at this juncture in their career were still trying to find their new direction following the departure of Syd Barrett after the second lp Saucerful of Secrets and singles such as Let There be More Light and Point me at the Sky that had fizzled in the latter part of 1968. After reaching the dizzy heights of psychedelia under Syd's charismatic but doomed leadership the band were now mainly playing the college circuit and were about to give up the pop market altogether under Roger Waters' more earnest leadership.

What else of note? The Moody Blues and Joe Cocker were now established big names but a more modest fee for Deep Purple who were just starting out really at this time and still with their original vocalist before Ian Gillan was recruited later that year to steer them in a heavier direction. Alvin Lee's Ten Years After were about the heaviest band going at this time boosted by a phenomenal performance at Woodstock later that year - so a fair price I think. Fairport Convention had just recruited their second lead vocalist, Sandy Denny, who with Richard Thompson would later that year turn them into the biggest folk-rock band of all time. Rory Gallagher was like the Fairports a stalwart of the European concert circuit for many years and here is making an early appearance in the guise of his first real blues outfit (The) Taste. Marmalade had had an enormous hit with Ob-la-di off the White Album so could command a high price but they soon fizzled out without much to offer in terms of original material. I have to confess The Bakerloo Line and Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera passed me by completely: you got me on them!

I am in Tokyo by the way - about to hit Shibuya to check out some of the best record shops in the world!

Mark, 7-5:
Info about Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera here John Peel liked them and there were links to The Strawbs after lead members shed their psychedelic colours. Timebox (sic) were another second division psychedelic singles outfit who would evolve into progressive band Patto whose l.p. Roll'em Smoke'em Put Another Line Out is highly sought after - and must hold the record for the number of explicit drug references you can cram into an album title. My brother had a copy which I regrettably sold when I was broke.

The agent is rather careless with the names of the artists he's supposed to be promoting! The father of British blues and mentor for the early Stones is Alexis Korner with a 'K' (I used to listen to his blues programmes on the BBC) and 'Easy Beat' is presumably The Easybeats - an Australian beat combo who had had a huge hit with Friday on My Mind. I see from a bit of online digging that 'Baker Loo Line' must be The Bakerloo Blues Line who according to  The Audiophile Man supported Led Zep at gigs and members jumped around various bands of that ilk like Humble Pie. The Gun led by two brothers named Gurvitz  had a hit the previous October with Race with the Devil and they later joined up with Ginger Baker after Cream split as The Baker-Gurvitz Army. Chicken Shack were another British blues staple but with a  female lead singer with the wonderful name Christine Perfect who would become more famous as Christine McVie after marrying the Fleetwood Mac member. Traffic's history is also complicated - Dave Mason, Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood must have lost the rights to keep the band name after Steve Winwood left around this time to join Clapton in Blind Faith.

Early 1969 was a fascinating time in the history of British rock as out and out blues gave way to 'progressive music' as the dust settled on an uncertain phase of post-psychedelic experimentation. Some great music to come therefore but some of the fun, wit and colour went out the window in the process.

Mark, 8-5:
And if you are curious about late addition to the roster Carley Hill - another blues band but really close to the edge of obscurity! -  I found some info here  

And crikey Wikipedia tells me Eire Apparent featured Henry McCullough who was the Wings guitarist on My Love and the Red Rose Speedway album - and also that none other than Jimi Hendrix played on their l.p. Sunrise recorded and produced by him in LA after they had supported him on a US tour. One for me to look out for in Shibuya!

Alan Whitehead family photo
Gary, 8-5:
Yes of course, Wout, although I don’t think it is her property… I believe that she got this from another friend. I don’t think it will be an issue putting it on your blog, so please do!

Yes a lot of these names bring back many memories including my band Monolith once supported Chicken Shack at the Tramshed in Woolwich ( https://www.glypt.co.uk/tramshedhistory/ ) around 1980… although Christine Perfect/McVie had long left it had become a male only outfit. Also my first drum tutor was Alan Whitehead of Marmalade who used to give me lessons in 1966/67 (see photo that his Mum gave me a few years later!).

Wout, 4-6:
To return to this conversation. Coming weekend the Pinkpop festival has its 50th edition. Still under the management of the same guy, Jan Smeets. Oor Magazine, my Dutch music magazine, had an overview of all the festivals of the past years. The first festival charged 2,5 Dutch guilders as an entrance fee. Now the prices mentioned in the overview we started our conversation with are put in perspective. The same goes for some of the ticket stubs I saw from one of you a while back from early 70s shows. In the same line I was able to enter a football match between NAC Breda en Feijenoord for 1,25 guilders in 1971.

The Pinkpop festival for years is a multi million dollar affair and sometimes no money in the world can seduce a band to come. The entrance fee now is something in the order of €225. For three days, where the original festival was 6 acts on one stage. Traditionally there was one Dutch band, always the opener. That changed but only quite late on in the editions.

Were shows at the time a way to sell more units, where everyone profited more from than the artists. Sure they got rich, at least the top segment was, but most of the money of one album goes to everybody except the artist. So low entry prices were a double setback. Nowadays the album is an excuse to tour, where older big bands even tour without them as people will show up. New songs are seen as a nuisance stopping them from hearing their old favourites. Something stopping me from going sometimes truth be told. How many times do I need to hear 'Satisfaction' live?, just to mention an example. Yes, I did go two years ago. My girlfriend had never seen them and I shared the experience. In quality there's no comparing to Rotterdam 1990. Band and audience were ablaze that evening in May.

I have never been to Pinkpop by the way. Somehow festivals are not really my thing. Although I have been to a few through the decades. Always one day affairs. That's more than enough. Highlights from Pinkpop are shown on television. That's enough for me.

Mark, 4-6:
I remember Pinkpop from my time working in Rotterdam in the mid-seventies. I went to one festival near Amsterdam but can't remember anything about it other than sitting in the sun - not even who played - so I must have had a good time!  I may have a note somewhere in my ramshackle archives.

I remember by the way Boudewijn de Groot from that time as a Dutch Dylan. As Trump overwhelms us with his visit to the UK this week, perhaps we can dig out  Welterusten Meneer de President . Did he sing in English at all?

Times have indeed changed. Concert tours and festivals used to be loss-makers for the artists but were crucial in helping to sell records in those days of very few media channels. Now the situation seems to be reversed: artists make more money out of performing live including festivals which have proliferated and become big business while sales of physical recordings have collapsed in the digital age.

Are you following the Morrissey saga at all? He seems now to be supporting right wing politics and his once fond twists in English nostalgia have evolved into unhealthy nationalistic arrogance. Bona drag indeed. Very strange it's turned out this way but we can still enjoy The Smiths and his early solo albums with a clear conscience though. 

Wout, 4-6:
Boudewijn de Groot's famous 1966 protest song may be very relevant indeed. I'll refrain from further comment. Let's suffice with noting there seems to be no end to how a politician can surprise me nearly every day. Probably because he isn't a politician.

De Groot always kept to his native language, with one exception. Late in 1968 he recorded the song 'In Your Life' under the name Tower. I am proud to say that I have the single in my possession since somewhere in the very early 70s. It was only a mild chart success. Years later I found out that there was a second single, but I never heard it. De Groot remained silent for over three years to return with a fabulous single called 'Jimmy' named after one of his sons. Although he scored two minor hits in between because of lp tracks turned single at a later date.

Looking it up, 'In Your Life' is on Spotify and the name of the second single is 'Captain Decker' and yes I did know that. 'In Your Life' is dated, but still has some great features in the music that I can still appreciate. It is one of those songs from the months that I truly started to discover music and not as something that came by or not because others played it for me. My all time favourite De Groot song is 'Prikkebeen'. Perhaps the best Dutch language song ever.

Last Friday a Dutch band called The Kik released a double live album. A recreation of Boudewijn de Groot's two most famous albums of the 60s. See my review last week and certainly worth a listen.

Morrissey is someone who is not so well known here as in the U.K.. The Smiths never were big here and Morrissey solo certainly not. They both have fans for sure. I am not one of them. I like some songs but that is it. So his "messages" do not reach these climes.

Wout, 12-6:
As an annex. First The Marmalade. The band actually scored a few hits here after the 'Ob-la-di - Ob-la-da' cover hit. They scored a hit first, late 1968, perhaps inspiring The Beatles to release a single from the White Album any way, entering the Dutch charts early in 1969. In 1970 and 1971 the band scored hits with 'Reflections Of My Life', a song I rather liked at the time but for the life of me can't get into my head without a prompt, 'Rainbow', 'My Little One' and 'Cousin Norman'. Of the original band singer Dean Ford (Thomas McAleese) is not around any more. Alan Whitehead turns 72 next month.

Pinkpop was last weekend. According to my newspaper it was The Cure who was the real big star of the festival. The band played for 2,5 hours with a long list of hits and seemed to have surprised the reporter of duty in a major way. There is a lot more of Robert Smith these days I noticed, but then, so is there of me.


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