Changes in attitudes

My memories are hazy, but 42 years ago tonight, on March 31, 1978, I saw Jimmy Buffett play at the St. Paul Civic Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Because my memories of that night are hazy, I emailed my friend Doug this morning: “What are your memories, if any, of seeing Jimmy Buffett at the St. Paul Civic Center 42 years ago tonight, March 31, 1978?”

Doug and I had been friends and co-workers for little more than two months back then, but he asked me to go along. Sure, it sounded like an adventure. However, Doug’s memories also are hazy. “Did Linda Ronstadt open?”

No, man, it was Emmylou Harris, and I had look to that up some years ago. I remember nothing from her performance.

Our memories are hazy because both Doug and I are older than dirt, and because way too many substances legal and illegal were enjoyed that evening.

Man, how long ago was that night? I was still almost a year away from dating the young lady I eventually married. So long ago that she and I have since seen two Jimmy Buffett shows together but both were almost 30 years ago.

What I can tell you about that night, having found a review of that show:

— The Concert Bowl was set up in the Civic Center — a hockey rink — by hanging a huge black drape across one of the blue lines, cutting the place in half. There were about 6,000 of us in the place.

— The sound was terrible, especially for two acts with solo acoustic sets.

— It was the first stop on Emmylou’s American tour. She’d just wrapped up a six-week European tour and had a new version of her backing band, the Hot Band. She covered Chuck Berry’s “C’est La Vie” and the Beatles’ “Here, There and Everywhere.”

— Buffett played for almost two hours. Here’s the set list from two nights before at the Riverside Theater in Milwaukee. Guessing the St. Paul show was much the same. I imagine 21-year-old me got pretty fired up when Buffett played “Margaritaville” and “Why Don’t We Get Drunk” and “Cheeseburger In Paradise.” But I really don’t remember.

42 years on, give me the more thoughtful songs that 21-year-old me almost certainly didn’t appreciate.

Like this one, co-written by Buffett’s friend, the late, great Steve Goodman.

“Banana Republics,” Jimmy Buffett, from “Changes In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes,” 1977.

It’s said to be from another show on the Cheeseburger In Paradise tour, from June 1978, a little more than two months later, at the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles.

Somehow, it seems timely to still be singing about banana republics all these years later. Doesn’t seem that it’ll be too long before we have a bunch of soon-to-be expatriated Americans fleeing to the tropics, one step ahead of the law.

Late at night you will find them
In the cheap hotels and bars
Hustling the senoritas
While they dance beneath the stars

One more fun fact: The night before, Journey played the same venue with Van Halen and Ronnie Montrose as opening acts. Tickets were $6.

Van Halen was just a month into its first national tour.

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Filed under March 2020, Sounds

The smoker you drink …

50 years ago last night, on Tuesday, March 10, 1970, The Association played a show at the old Brown County Arena in Green Bay. I posted that music history tidbit to our local Facebook history groups last night.

Which led my friend Kim to ask …

“No idea if it’s true or not, but I had heard many years ago that the original James Gang with Joe Walsh was the opening act at this show. AND that the illustrious Mr. Walsh got arrested at the Midway Motor Lodge for possession of pot. After all these years, can anyone confirm or deny this story for me?”

Well, now. Can’t resist that one. It is mostly true.

The James Gang did not open for The Association at the Arena that night. However, the James Gang was on a bill with the Youngbloods at the Arena roughly 6 months later, on Friday, Sept. 18, 1970.

And, yes, Joe Walsh, 22, of Kent, Ohio, was busted for possession of marijuana after the Brown County Sheriff’s Department raided his room at the Holiday Inn on Friday, Sept. 18, 1970. He was freed on a $500 bond so the James Gang could begin a month-long tour of the UK three weeks later.

Joe Walsh — thereafter referred to as “Joseph F. Walsh” in the Green Bay paper’s court stories — apparently never returned to Green Bay to face the music.

On Monday, Nov. 2, 1970, Walsh missed his arraignment date. That day, the James Gang was off between shows in Dania, Florida, and Atlanta.

Four days later, on Friday, Nov. 6, 1970, Walsh was arraigned, represented by two attorneys from Milwaukee. That day, the James Gang played two shows at the Westbury Music Fair in Jericho, N.Y.

In late April 1971, Walsh’s lawyers were still arguing their case. Walsh’s case was continued to May 20, but there’s no further mention of it in the Green Bay paper. That day, the James Gang was off between shows in New York and Cincinnati.

Three local college students — a 19-year-old man, a 19-year-old woman and an 18-year-old woman — also were charged with possession in the wake of the bust at the Holiday Inn. Their cases were dismissed.

My guess, having covered the courts in the late ’70s: Either Joe Walsh’s case also was dismissed or the judge simply forfeited Walsh’s $500 bond and called it a day. $500 was a lot of money back then — $3,300 in today’s dollars.

Now, about that Youngbloods/James Gang show. According to the Green Bay Press-Gazette, it was a …

Weird Night at the Arena

Melanie, the pop-folk singer, was to have been the headliner. She didn’t show. She was said to have had “a bronchial ailment.”

So the Youngbloods took her place. They rehearsed on stage, then started the show, playing first. “The Youngbloods were plagued by electronic breakdowns, feedback and tuning troubles,” my friend Warren Gerds wrote in the next day’s paper. That, and the Arena’s poor acoustics swallowed up their sound.

Then the James Gang came on stage.

“The James Gang is a head band. Upon finding that out, about 100 listeners headed for the door. Others left in a steady, strong trickle,” Warren wrote. “The James Gang had no problems with acoustics because they overpowered the arena’s echoing traits.”

At the time, the James Gang was still touring behind its 1969 debut LP, “Yer’ Album.” Here’s a cut that “head band” may or may not have played that night in Green Bay, clearing the house on a night when only 500 people came out to a show in a 5,000-seat venue.

“Funk #48,” the James Gang, from “Yer’ Album,” 1969, which I saw while record digging not too long ago. All three band members — Joe Walsh, bass player Tom Kriss and drummer Jim Fox — are credited as co-writers.

This is the only James Gang LP on which Kriss plays. Dale Peters took his place for the next record, “James Gang Rides Again.” On which, of course, “Funk #49” was the first cut.

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Filed under March 2020, Sounds

Loitering in the driveway

Yesterday was one of those long days that turned into a long night.

As I pulled into the driveway 14-plus hours after I’d left for work, a cool old song came on the radio. At first I thought it was Wilson Pickett. Then I realized, no, he didn’t cover that Beatles song.

It was Otis Redding doing “Day Tripper,” from 1966. So I sat there under the garage light, tired and wanting to go into the house, but hey, it’s Otis.

Today, we had king cake and paczki at work for Fat Tuesday, so I brought some home for Janet over the noon hour. Another cool old song came on the radio.

So I sat there in the driveway in the middle of the day, listening to Nancy Sinatra doing “Drummer Man” with the great session man Hal Blaine on the drums.

Been looking for that song, but it’s not on the LP shown above, at least not the original 1967 version. They did stick it on a 1996 CD reissue as one of the three extra tracks. Guess I’ll just have to keep digging.

Sometimes, it’s just that simple. You sit in the driveway and listen to one more song.

Today, by the way, is the 13th anniversary of this blog.

I wrote the first post on AM, Then FM on this day in 2007.

More to come, including the rest of a story started here not too long ago and what I hope will be an enjoyable new series of posts.

Thanks as always for reading!


Filed under February 2020, Sounds

The rise and fall of Stiller’s Top Ten

On Memorial Day weekend in 1965, the folks in the music department at the Stiller Co. in downtown Green Bay, Wisconsin, launched a Top 10 singles chart just as summer started.

They put it in an ad, which was published in the Green Bay Press-Gazette on Friday, May 28, 1965. The Stiller’s Top Ten singles chart appeared in the Green Bay paper every Friday evening for the next 245 weeks, give or take a week or two when it was left out for some reason.

The last Stiller’s Top Ten chart appeared 50 years ago this week, on Friday, Feb. 6, 1970. It’s on the right, opposite the first chart.

The first and last Stiller Top Ten singles charts from the Stiller Co. in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

The Stiller charts are a fascinating look into pop music tastes in a conservative Midwest town during the latter half of the ’60s.

Though the early charts say the Top Ten was based on record sales, the first Stiller Top 10 chart is exactly the same as the Top 10 chart from WDUZ radio in Green Bay for that week. That practice continued well into 1966. After that, and until the end of the run, the Stiller charts and the local radio charts are similar but not mirror images of each other.

The “By Actual Sales” notation eventually disappeared from the ads in the paper. In fact, actual sales may rarely have been a factor. I’ve been told that young women who worked at the store were influential in shaping each week’s Top Ten, picking their favorite records. For that reason alone, the Stiller charts may not be representative of what Green Bay listeners really liked.

The Stiller charts were flawed in another, more culturally significant way. Though the Supremes and the Dixie Cups show up in the first chart and Eddie Holman in the last chart, black artists were underrepresented.

That said, black artists also were underrepresented on the playlists at WDUZ radio and WBAY radio, Green Bay’s Top 40 stations. The Stiller store was tight with both stations throughout the Top Ten’s four-year-plus run, sponsoring radio shows that almost certainly hyped records the store wanted to sell.

The great value of the Stiller charts is when local and regional groups turn up with singles in the Top Ten.

The first chart has one such entry at No. 4 — “Baby Doll” by the Dupries. They were a local group featuring three Duprey sisters — Annie, Joanie and Carol — along with three guys. The band’s name was a play on their last name.

In early May 1967, “Rapid Transit” by the Robbs, a Milwaukee group, was No. 1 on the Stiller chart for two weeks.

In November 1967, just before Thanksgiving, “Stop and Listen” by the Shag, another Milwaukee group, was No. 1 on the Stiller chart for a week.

The arc of the Stiller charts sort of parallels the Beatles’ career arc. The chart debuts as the summer of 1965 begins, with Beatlemania going strong in America for at least a year. From 1965 to 1969, at least 10 Beatles singles reach No. 1 on the Stiller charts. In the last chart, the store hypes a new Beatles LP as “coming soon.” That record is “Let It Be,” the Beatles’ last LP.

As the ’60s give way to the ’70s, the Stiller’s Top Ten chart seems to be staggering to the end. Is it still relevant? The editing gets sloppy. Does anyone care?

Led Zeppelin is listed as “Leo Zepplin” and remains that way for three weeks before being corrected to “Led Zepplin.” Not getting a whole lotta love there. “Creedance Clearwater Revival” has a new LP, “Willy Poor Boy.” “Laura Nyrol” and “Rod McKuern” have new LPs, too.

In the final chart, there are four typos in artists’ names — “Vanity Fair” instead of Vanity Fare, “By Jefferson” instead of Jefferson, “Lenney Welch” instead of Lenny Welch and “The Bad Finger” instead of Badfinger — and an extra S tacked on to “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”

The last Stiller’s Top Ten chart seems to be sending a farewell message. It’s right there, at No. 6 and No. 7.

Oh, well. Breaking up is hard to do.


Filed under February 2020, Sounds

The wish list, sort of

After posting here last month that I’d found the record that had been No. 1 on my wish list for 10 years, my friend Jim dropped me a note from across town. We had this exchange on New Year’s Day:

Jim: How cool that you found the Larry Williams & Johnny Watson LP. Glory be. You got the soul, brother. 

Me: Yeah, I finally found that record. What do I do now? Don’t think I’ll quit digging, though. Still a handful of records left on my wish list.

Jim: I would like to see what’s left on your “wish list.” Must be some rather hard-to-find albums. 

So I thought for a while and sent Jim this list toward the end of the evening:

  • “Noah” by the Bob Seger System
  • “Brand New Morning” by Bob Seger
  • “Music from National Football League Films,” Vols. 2, 3 and 4
  • “Merry Soul Christmas — George Conedy at the Hammond Organ”
  • “Shaft” by Bernard Purdie
  • “David (Unreleased LP and More)” by David Ruffin
  • “Lady Lea” or “Excuse Me, I Want to Talk To You” by Lea Roberts
  • Late ’60s/early ’70s Little Richard: “The Explosive Little Richard,” “Every Hour With Little Richard,” “King of Rock and Roll,” “The Second Coming,” “Right Now!” (Though I have seen a couple of these but passed for budget or quality reasons.)
  • Late ’60s/early ’70s Mongo Santamaria: “Soul Bag,” “Workin’ on a Groovy Thing,” “Stone Soul,” “Feelin’ Alright,” “Mongo ’70”
  • Anything by black college marching bands with rock/soul/R&B covers

It didn’t take long before I realized the list was incomplete. Also looking for stuff by the Easybeats … another record by the Foundations … another Lionel Hampton record on Brunswick … and, well, you get the idea. It’s a fairly fluid list. That opens up possibilities for finding records I’m not looking for while digging. Which explains why the last three records I bought were:

  • “Baby Dynamite” by Carolyn Franklin from 1969.
  • “Heart & Soul” by Johnny Adams from 1969.
  • “Candy” soundtrack featuring the Byrds, Steppenwolf and Dave Grusin from 1968.

But back to the list I sent to Jim. Why, for example, am I looking for records from black college marching bands? Because “Tiger Time” by the Grambling University Marching Band is one of the coolest records I ever found, and I wasn’t looking for it. Now I’m looking for more, if they exist at all. Here’s why. Dig this!

“Ode To Billie Joe,” the Grambling University Marching Band, from “Tiger Time,” 1971. Yep, a marching band covering Bobbie Gentry.

Check out my original post about finding this record — a $2 record — to hear some cool soul covers. Dig the scintillating action they’re putting down!



Filed under January 2020, Sounds

Gone in threes: 2019

They go in threes. They always go in threes.

Badasses: Richard Cole (the last of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders of World War II), Al Haynes (United pilot crash-landed a crippled DC-10 –“a cartwheeling ball of flame” — in Sioux City, Iowa, in 1989, saving 185 of 296 people on board), Paul Krassner (Yippies, Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters, “The Realist”)

Badasses, too: Leah Chase (New Orleans chef who hosted secret civil rights strategy meetings at her restaurant during the ’60s), Dorothy Fontana aka D.C. Fontana (writer and story editor on original “Star Trek” TV series), Dorothy Olsen (ferried fighter planes across the country during World War II)

Baseball trailblazers: Pumpsie Green (integrated Red Sox, the last team to do so, in 1959), Don Newcombe (first black to start a World Series game, 1949), Frank Robinson (first black manager, 1975)

Basketball trailblazers: Wat Misaka (broke pro basketball color barrier, 1947), Johnny Neumann (first player to sign under hardship clause, 1971), Carl Scheer (invented ABA slam dunk contest, 1976)

“Batman” bad guys: Seymour Cassel (Canceled, TV show, 1967), Sid Haig (Royal Apothecary, TV show, 1966), Rutger Hauer (William Earle, “Batman Begins”)

Beatlemania: Robert Freeman (photographed five album covers — “With the Beatles,” “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Beatles For Sale,” “Help!” and “Rubber Soul”), Johnny Hutchinson (drummer filled in with Silver Beetles and early Beatles, once considered as Pete Best’s replacement but passed on joining the band), Terry O’Neill (photographed Beatles in early ’60s),

Black queens: Diahann Carroll (actress and singer), Toni Morrison (writer), Jessye Norman (opera)

Brow-beaten ballplayers: Andy Etchebarren, Tex Clevenger, Don Mossi

The Bucks stop here: Chet Coppock (broadcaster), Tom Nissalke (assistant coach), Bob Rule (played one game with Milwaukee in 1974; it was his last NBA game)

By the numbers: Jerry Merryman (helped invent handheld electronic calculator), Dan Robbins (invented paint-by-number kits), Seymour Siwoff (Elias Sports Bureau)

Composers: Jerry Herman, Michel Legrand, Andre Previn

Cool chicks: Susan Bernard (“Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!”), Peggy Lipton (“The Mod Squad”), Sylvia Miles (pretty much everything she was in)

Covered: Pedro Bell (Funkadelic album art), Raeanne Rubenstein (Steely Dan’s “Pretzel Logic” cover photo), Guy Webster (“The Doors” and many memorable late ’60s LP cover photos)

Fast company: Lee Iacocca (Ford, Ford Mustang, Chrysler), Junior Johnson (NASCAR), Niki Lauda (Formula One)

Filmmakers: Stanley Donen (musicals), D.A. Pennebaker (documentaries), John Singleton (black cinema)

FYI, they guested on N.Y.P.D.: Verna Bloom (1967), Robert Forster (1967), Bill Macy (1969)

Globetrotters: Jumpin’ Jackie Jackson, Fred Marberry, Jumpin’ Johnny Wilson

Gone viral: Pete Frates (ALS patient who popularized ice bucket challenge), Bruno Ganz (Swiss actor’s Hitler bunker scene in “Downfall” inspired many YouTube parodies), Grumpy Cat

Godfathers, Part 2: Danny Aiello (Tony Rosato), Carmine Caridi (Carmine Rosato), Barry Malkin (editor)

Hasta la bye bye: Nuon Chea (Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge), Juan Corona (California serial killer), Li Peng (China’s Tiananmen Square crackdown)

Heard, but not seen: Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca of “Star Wars”), Maria Perego (created Topo Gigio), Caroll Spinney (Big Bird and Oscar of “Sesame Street”)

Here come the judge: Red Cashion (NFL referee; “First dawwwwwwon!”), Jim McKean (MLB umpire), John Paul Stevens (Supreme Court)

He was in the band? Mike Grose (Queen’s first bassist), Doug Sandom (Who’s first drummer), Larry Wallis (Motorhead’s first guitarist)

Hey, hey, they were Monkees: Gerry McGee (guitar on “The Monkees” theme, “Last Train to Clarksville,” “Valleri” and more; also in the Ventures), Larry Taylor, bass on “The Monkees” theme and “Last Train to Clarksville” and more; also in Canned Heat), Peter Tork

High society: Lee Radziwill, Gloria Vanderbilt, Claus von Bulow

Hollywood royalty: Carol Channing, Doris Day, Peter Fonda

Hosts with the most: Bob Dorian (American Movie Classics), Robert Earle (“GE College Bowl”), Jim Fowler (“Wild Kingdom”)

Hosts with the most, sports division: “Mean” Gene Okerlund (AWA, WWF, WCW, WWE wrestling), Lou Palmer (ESPN), Jack Whitaker (CBS and ABC)

Inventive: Fred Cox (Vikings kicker helped invent Nerf football), George Laurer (helped develop UPC bar codes), Alan R. Pearlman (ARP synthesizers)

Irreverent writers: Jim Bouton (“Ball Four”), Dan Jenkins (“Semi-Tough”), Nick Tosches (Jerry Lee Lewis, Dean Martin, Sonny Liston biographies)

Last laughs, the men: Tim Conway, Arte Johnson, John Witherspoon

Last laughs, the women: Kaye Ballard, Georgia Engel, Valerie Harper

Lovers, American Style: David Hedison (one episode, 1969), Sue Lyon (two episodes, 1969, 1974), Louisa Moritz (three episodes, 1971, 1972)

Movie inspirations: Herman Boone (“Remember the Titans” coach), James “Radio” Kennedy (yes, that “Radio”), Chuck Kinder (“Wonder Boys” professor)

Muscle Shoals session men: Jerry Carrigan (drums), Donnie Fritts (keyboards), Reggie Young (guitar)

‘Nawlins legends: Dave Bartholomew, Dr. John, Art Neville

Notorious: Scotty Bowers (Hollywood pimp and fixer), Rosie Ruiz (faked Boston Marathon victory), Charles Van Doren (’50s TV quiz show scandal)

Obit desk: Fred Berner (Wisconsin publisher who died at his desk on the week he was to retire), Robert Elkin (New York journalist), Jim Nicholson (Philadelphia Daily News obit writer)

Packers from the Glory Years: Zeke Bratkowski, Forrest Gregg, Bart Starr

Producers: Robert Evans (films), Lee Mendelson (Charlie Brown specials), Harold Prince (Broadway)

R&B brothers: James Ingram, Harvey Scales, Andre Williams

R.I.P., Rip: Steve Ripley (The Tractors), Rip Taylor, Rip Torn

Representative of America: John Conyers, Elijah Cummings, John Dingell

Rolling with the Stones: Robert Frank (“Cocksucker Blues”), Jimmy Johnson (engineered three tracks on “Sticky Fingers” at Muscle Shoals), Michael Putland (tour photographer)

Songwriters: Robert Hunter (Grateful Dead), Les Reed (co-wrote “It’s Not Unusual” and “Delilah” for Tom Jones, “There’s a Kind of Hush” for Herman’s Hermits), Allee Willis (co-wrote Earth, Wind & Fire hits, “I’ll Be There For You,” Rembrandts song that became theme for “Friends” TV show)

Soul brothers: Chuck Barksdale (Dells), Willie Ford (Dramatics), Jerry Lawson (Persuasions)

Soul sisters: Doris Duke, Clydie King, Jackie Shane

Space, the final frontier: Mickey Kapp (made mixtapes, chose music for Apollo astronauts), Chris Kraft (NASA’s first flight director, created Mission Control), Alexei Leonov (first person to walk in space)

Star Trek, stardate 1966: Michael J. Pollard (Jahn, “Miri”), Robert Walker Jr. (Charlie Evans, “Charlie X”), Morgan Woodward (Dr. Simon van Gelder, “Dagger of the Mind”)

Subversive humor: Russ Gibb (“Paul is dead” prankster on Detroit radio), Neil Innes (Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, Monty Python, “The Rutles”), Gahan Wilson (macabre cartoonist)

Trailblazers: Patricia Bath (first black woman doctor to get medical patent), Jerrie Cobb (first woman to complete the same preflight testing as the Mercury Seven astronauts), Edith Irby Jones (first black woman at all-white medical school in the South)

Truth seekers: Wallace Smith Broecker (climate scientist who helped popularize “global warming” term), Robert Morgenthau (longtime New York federal prosecutor and Manhattan district attorney), William Ruckelshaus (quit as Nixon’s deputy attorney general rather than fire Watergate special prosecutor)

Voices of Americana: Sleepy LaBeef (about whom I once did 52 blog posts, one a week, here at the blog), Leon Redbone, Russell Smith (Amazing Rhythm Aces)

“The White Shadow” fades to black: John Falsey (writer), Jerry Fogel (Bill Donahue), Larry “Flash” Jenkins (Wardell Stone)

Witness to history: Werner Doehner (last survivor of 1937 Hindenburg crash), Jim Leavelle (Dallas police detective escorting Lee Harvey Oswald when he was shot in 1963), George Mendonsa (kissing sailor in Alfred Eisenstaedt’s famous V-J Day photo in 1945)

World music: Irving Burgie (Caribbean composer), Beth Carvalho (Brazil’s godmother of samba), Joao Gilberto (bossa nova)

Wrecking Crew session men: Hal Blaine (drums), Dick Hyde, (trombone), Emil Richards (percussion; the finger snaps on “The Addams Family” theme and the bongos on the “Mission: Impossible” theme)

Gone in Threes, the band

Front men: Jules Blattner (Midwest roadhouse fave with the Warren Groovy All-Star Band), Roky Erickson (13th Floor Elevators), Ric Ocasek (Cars)

On guitar: Paul Barrere (Little Feat), J.R. Cobb (The Classics IV, Atlanta Rhythm Section), Dick Dale

On bass: George “Pops” Chambers (Chambers Brothers), Eric Haydock (Hollies), Larry Junstrom, (Lynyrd Skynyrd, .38 Special)

On drums: Ginger Baker (Cream), Dick Richards (Bill Haley & The Comets), Paul Whaley (Blue Cheer)

On keyboards: Daryl Dragon (Beach Boys, Captain and Tennille), Lenny Pakula, keyboards (MFSB), Larry Willis (Blood, Sweat & Tears)

On winds: Steve Cash, harmonica (Ozark Mountain Daredevils), Malcolm “Molly” Duncan, sax (Average White Band), Steve Madaio, trumpet (Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Stevie Wonder)

Special mention

The stunners: There always is one death that takes your breath away. In 2019, there were two.

The stunner among a bunch of friends on the local music scene was the passing of Kim Shattuck, the lead singer and guitarist for the Muffs. She’d played gigs in Green Bay — the video above is from the Muffs’ show here on Aug. 27, 2016 — and by all accounts she was a wonderful person and a tremendous musician, one of the all-time great rock chicks.

The stunner closest to home was Emmanuel. He was our son’s college roommate for a brief time in late 2013. Then, after staying in his dorm room until the last possible second, Emmanuel became homeless. He was separated from his Latino family, could no longer afford college and was, as he told Evan, “a U.S. citizen but not the right kind of U.S. citizen.” So Emmanuel lived in our basement rec room for the first half of 2014, working at Sears and saving money to get back on his feet. He accomplished that and moved to Chicago, where he died in late October. Emmanuel was 24.

The last word

Some memorable obits: William C. Ebeltoft from Montana (“He died 50 years after he lost, in Vietnam, all that underpinned his life.”), Katy Lynn McDonald from Georgia (The family believes she did it on purpose to avoid having to cast another vote in the American elections.”), Tim Schrandt from Iowa (“We are considering establishing a Go-Fund-Me account for G. Heileman Brewing Co., the brewers of Old Style beer, as we anticipate they are about to experience significant hardship as a result of the loss of Tim’s business.”)


— This is not intended to be an inclusive list of all who passed in 2019. This is my highly subjective list. Yours will be different.

Nipsey Hussle isn’t on this list. Nor is Juice Wrld. That’s because I’m of a certain age, having grown up in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Nothing illustrates this better than the passing of Jack Sheldon in late December. Mention his name, and many go right to “Schoolhouse Rock!” and rightly so. But that came after my childhood, so I have no connection to it. Nor largely, any connection to his work as a jazz trumpeter. No, I know Jack Sheldon from an obscure, long-ago sitcom, “Run Buddy Run.” We watched sitcoms at our house, and that was one.

— This year was harder than most for organizing actors. It pains me to put Robert Forster, one of my favorite actors, and Verna Bloom and Bill Macy, who were in two of my favorite films, together in a reference to “N.Y.P.D.,” another late ’60s TV show that few remember.

The credits

— Each year, I use three prime sources for this list.

First, the Wikipedia contributors who compile month-by-month lists of prominent deaths. That’s where we start.

Second, our friend Gunther at Any Major Dude, who compiles lists of notable music deaths each month, along with a year-end roundup. Each of those is more thorough than this roundup. Highly recommended.

Third, the folks at Mojo magazine, whose “Real Gone” and “They Also Served” features are wonderful.

Other sources include comics and animation writer Mark Evanier’s blog News from ME, Ultimate Classic Rock and the Washington Post.

Previous “Gone in threes” entries

20182017 * 2016 * 2015 * 2014 * 2013 * 2012 * 2011 * 2010

Plus similar year-end posts in 2008 and 2009.


Filed under January 2020

Here’s hoping Santa is cool with this

Now that Christmas has come and gone, I can come clean.

Six days before Christmas, my son and I took a quick overnight trip to Minneapolis. For Evan, it was an opportunity to do some research at one of the University of Minnesota libraries.

For me, of course, it was a chance to go record digging. For the record, so to speak, I went record digging while fully mindful that it was a time to be looking for a few last things for other people, not for myself.

After dropping off Evan at the library, I made a bee line for Mill City Sound in suburban Hopkins. My friend Todd tipped me to it a couple of years ago. It’s one of the best record stores around. Highly recommended.

When I walked in, there was a guy looking at the new arrival bins. He was taking his time, which is fine, so I headed for the soul and R&B bins. Along the way, I glanced at the collectible records on the wall. Always interesting to see what they have up there.

So I dove in, flipping through the letter A soul and R&B records. Nothing for me. I took a couple of steps to my right, and started flipping through the letter B soul and R&B records. About a dozen records in, I glanced up at the wall in front of me. What I saw took my breath away.

There, among the collectible records on the wall, right smack in front of me, was the LP that has been No. 1 on my wish list for the last 10 years. I immediately took it off the wall. Never mind that it cost about four times what I’d planned to spend on records on this trip.


“Two For The Price Of One” is a soul scorcher by Larry Williams and Johnny Watson, released on Okeh in 1967. The title cut is proof.

My friends Larry and Derek tipped me to Larry Williams and Johnny Watson on their blogs way back in 2009. The closest I’d come to finding that record was coming across a CD re-release while digging at Amoeba Records in Berkeley, California, in the summer of 2010. I’d never seen a vinyl copy in the wild.

I found no other records that day at Mill City Sound, nor at either of the other Minneapolis record stores we visited. Finding that one kinda negated the need to look for anything else.

Now, with Christmas come and gone, I can fess up.

That record has been sitting in a Mill City Sound bag for the last nine days. I didn’t say anything about it to Evan during our trip, nor to Janet when we got home, nor have I put it on the turntable. Until tonight, that is.

Santa’s listening, you know.

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Filed under December 2019, Sounds