As summer arrived in June 1970, the Beatles were leaving.
At this time 40 years ago, “The Long and Winding Road,” the last in an eight-year-long string of singles, was near the top of the charts in America. The Beatles were unraveling. It had been almost a year since John, Paul, George and Ringo had worked together in the studio.
It was the end of one era and the beginning of another.
As summer arrived in June 1970, school was out. There were, simply, more hours in the day (and night) to take in the Top 40 tunes pouring out of the Mighty 92, WOKY in Milwaukee. It was my first summer with the radio as my constant companion.
Songs linger in memory for all kinds of reasons.
Few songs fire up the imagination quite like “Ride Captain Ride” by Blues Image. What does that mystery ship look like? Where are those 73 men sailing? If I can get to San Francisco, can I ride along? What’s in that world others might have missed? And, hey, is this a hippie anthem?
One of my favorites then and now.
“Ride Captain Ride,” Blues Image, from “Open,” 1970. This is the slightly longer album cut, with a guitar solo at the end.
This smash single was the only single for Blues Image, a five-piece group that started in Tampa, Florida, in 1966. They became a big draw in Miami by 1968 and wound up in Los Angeles a year later. Atco Records signed them, and they put out a self-titled debut album in 1969 and “Open” in 1970.
“Ride Captain Ride” was written by guitarist Mike Pinera and keyboard man Skip Conte. That’s Pinera soloing at the end of the song.
Kent Henry did the other guitar solos and fills, but went uncredited on the album. He had stepped in to help finish the album after Pinera left to join Iron Butterfly.
Blues Image released a third album, “Red, White and Blues Image,” then broke up in 1971. Henry went on to play with Steppenwolf. Conte went on to play with Three Dog Night. Joe Lala, the percussionist, went on to play with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Pinera also played with Alice Cooper in the early ’80s.