Tag Archives: 1970

No stickers? Hey, no problem

“Oh, man! I don’t even have any stickers to give you!”

“Don’t worry about it. I took some pictures.”

Friends of Sound Records, San Antonio, Texas

That was my final exchange with one of the friendly gents as I checked out here, at Friends of Sound Records in San Antonio, Texas, earlier this month.

We were in town for our nephew’s wedding, and I took a couple of hours to go record digging on the day before the wedding. It was quiet at Friends of Sound early that Friday afternoon. A couple of guys were doing a photo shoot, perhaps for a local magazine, so I worked around them as they worked.

Friends of Sound Records, San Antonio, Texas

All along that beautiful back wall are 45s. I sent a couple of pictures to my friend Larry in New Jersey. “That looks like a place where I could have some fun,” he said. Indeed.

But I’m not a 45 guy. I like LPs, and I had the time to look at a lot of them.

“Wow, you’re really checking everything out,” the same friendly gent said.

“Yep, I’m from Green Bay, Wisconsin. Doing a little record store tourism.”

He found that an interesting notion. I said traveling gets me into the neighborhoods and often offers chances to see records I don’t usually see.

Sure enough, I found one at Friends of Sound.

Then I stopped at one more place.

Janie's Record Shop, San Antonio, Texas

Everything I read about San Antonio record stores said Janie’s Record Shop was a must stop. Janie’s is a little roadside storefront about 3 miles west of Friends of Sound, more or less right on the way back to my hotel, as it turned out.

Juanita “Janie” Esparza, who died last fall at 94, put her 14 kids through high school, then in 1985 realized her dream of opening a record shop. Janie and the shop became south Texas legends. She sold a rich selection of regional music genres — among them Tejano, conjunto, ranchera and the Westside Sound (aka Chicano soul) — supported the artists and preserved and shared its history.

It was cool to see a shop full of those styles of music — even if I know only a little about them — and the people running the shop were really nice. They also had rock, R&B and soul records and soundtracks, so I dug through those. I found these records.

5 Stairsteps, Billy Williams and Ernie Banks record albums

Went all the way to San Antonio, Texas — 1,400 miles from home — to find four records from Chicago. At Janie’s, I found a copy of this Five Stairsteps LP without its jacket and these baseball instructional records with the Cubs’ Billy Williams and Ernie Banks on the covers.

Back at Friends of Sound, I found this one. Had never seen it before.

Willie Henderson and The Soul Explosions "Funky Chicken" LP cover

Willie Henderson is a sax player who started leading the studio band at Brunswick Records in Chicago in 1968, working there until 1974. He also did arrangements for Tyrone Davis, Barbara Acklin, Jackie Wilson and the Chi-Lites and produced Davis and Acklin.

Here’s a cool cut.

“Off Into a Black Thing,” Willie Henderson and the Soul Explosions, from “Funky Chicken,” 1970.

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Filed under February 2022, Sounds

The Record Event Of The Year!

Rare Earth record ad, Green Bay Press-Gazette, Sept. 1, 197150 years ago today, on Wednesday, Sept. 1, 1971, this long, tall ad in the Green Bay Press-Gazette proclaimed that “The Record Event Of The Year” was happening at Woolworth’s.

For just $3.68, you could get any one of these three record albums by Rare Earth. (That’s $24.62 in 2021 dollars, and some new records go for that these days, so not much has changed for record buyers in 50 years.)

In the newspaper business, this was known as a co-op ad. In this case, the record company — the Rare Earth label — ponied up the money to hype its records via an ad from Woolworth’s. The label may have paid for part of the ad or all of the ad. Fairly common stuff.

Even though Rare Earth was mostly a singles band as September 1971 began, and even though free-form FM radio was in its infancy, the ad hyped some of Rare Earth’s popular long jams.

Let’s listen!

“#1 One World contains the hit single ‘I Just Want To Celebrate’ and a seven-minute version of the incredibly funky ‘What’d I Say.'”

This was the newest Rare Earth album featured in the ad. “One World” had come out three months earlier, at the beginning of the summer of 1971. It eventually went gold, but didn’t chart as high as the other two albums hyped here, peaking at No. 28 on the Billboard 200.

“#2 Get Ready contains the full 21 minute version of the hit ‘GET READY.'”

“Get Ready” had been released two years earlier, in July 1969, went platinum and reached No. 12 on the Billboard 200. “What’d I Say,” of course, was a Ray Charles cover.

“Get Ready,” the single, also appeared in slightly different form on “Dreams/Answers,” Rare Earth’s obscure debut album from 1968. I wrote about that record last year. Rarest Earth, you might say.

“#3 Ecology contains the complete 10 minute version of the hit ‘(I Know) I’M LOSING YOU.'”

“Ecology” had been released in the winter of 1970, so it was a year and a half old. It went gold and reached No. 15 on the Billboard 200. “(I Know) I’m Losing You,” of course, is a Temptations cover.

Rare Earth’s next record? The mighty “Rare Earth In Concert,” a double LP released in December 1971. It features LONGER versions of everything here except “What’d I Say.” Whether the studio version or the live version, all were free-form FM radio staples in the ’70s. I dug them then and I dig them now.

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Filed under September 2021

Stiller’s final closeout

Our story so far: In February 1970, the Stiller’s Top Ten singles chart suddenly disappeared from the Green Bay Press-Gazette after running in the paper every Friday for almost five years.

The Stiller Co. had sold records in downtown Green Bay for years. It was the place to go digging for 45s and LPs, a place where performers made in-store appearances, a place from which local radio stations did shows and remotes.

But the Stiller family, which had run the store since the turn of the century, was retiring. New owners were taking over. New owners with new ideas.

May 21, 1970 — a week shy of five years since the first appearance of the Stiller’s Top Ten chart — saw this offer from “Green Bay’s moving and grooving house of music!”

Stiller Co. record ad, May 21, 1970

July 14, 1970 — The Stiller Co. was blowing out “really bad” 45s — a grab bag of 10 for a dime — at the summer sidewalk bazaar in downtown Green Bay.

Stiller Co. record ad, July 14, 1970

Sept. 8, 1970 — “Every record must be sold.” The closeout begins.

Stiller Co. record ad, Sept. 8, 1970

Oct. 11, 1970 — The final closeout, slashing prices on LPs to $2.

Stiller Music record ad, Oct. 11, 1970

A month later, as the store marked its 72nd anniversary, the records were gone.

“A new sound department has opened, replacing the former record department,” the Press-Gazette reported on Nov. 8, 1970. “The department will feature sound equipment and components for stereos, radios and tape recorders.”

Two years later to the day — Nov. 8, 1972 — the new owners of The Stiller Co. filed for bankruptcy.

They blamed their predicament on having lost business to suburban shopping centers, on having too many people on the payroll, on high overhead and on “creditors that were too easy on the firm.”

Before the year was out, in the days just before and after Christmas 1972, everything in the store was sold at a bankruptcy auction.

If you want it, here it is, come and get it
But you’d better hurry ’cause it’s goin’ fast

Which, fittingly, was the last song on the last Stiller’s Top Ten chart.

“Come And Get It,” Badfinger, from “Magic Christian Music,” 1970.

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Filed under June 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 canceled. 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

The gift that keeps on keepin’ on

Christmas has come and gone for another year, but some gifts you never forget.

50 years ago, for Christmas 1969, Santa brought a radio. Yep, that Panasonic RF-930 AM-FM radio. It changed and shaped my life.

I took it upstairs to my bedroom and set it on top of my filing cabinet. I tuned in WOKY, the Mighty 92 out of Milwaukee, one of the great Top 40 AM stations of the era, and started digging all kinds of pop, soul, R&B and rock. I can’t think of many more exciting times to listen live to the Top 40 than 1970 and 1971.

— One night, without asking my parents’ permission, I quietly made a long-distance call to WOKY because I could win a record if I was the right caller and knew the answer to a certain question. I knew that Creedence Clearwater Revival started out as the Blue Velvets and the Golliwogs. I won the record. A couple of weeks later, my record arrived. It was an obscure record sent to DJs. I had never heard of Bob Summers. Certainly not on WOKY. Yeah, just slightly disappointed. I no longer have the record I won, but I did buy another copy years later.

— WOKY ran a contest to get petitions to try to persuade the Beatles to not break up. One of my junior high classmates gathered signatures for one such petition. If memory serves, she won some kind of prize for her efforts.

— WOKY’s morning DJ, whom I could listen to only during the summer and during school vacations, was Bob Barry. It was quite a kick to hear some of his stories and meet him at a book signing last year.

My other regular stop was WTMJ, Radio 620. “Packers, Badgers, Brewers, Bucks! Hear ’em all on WTMJ, Milwaukee.” At night, when the clear channels were crystal clear, I’d surf the AM dial for distant baseball and basketball games.

Not long after Christmas 1971, we moved, and I switched over to FM — yep, it was AM, then FM.

WIFC, the Big 95 out of Wausau, Wisconsin, was a tremendous small-market station during the ’70s, Top 40 during the day and free form after 9 or 10 p.m. Those free-form hours, jam-packed with deep album cuts, introduced me to so much great rock and, yes, even some pretty cool jazz.

When I was a high school senior in 1975, I spent a cold February morning with WIFC’s morning DJ. I sat in on his show to write a feature for the school paper. Ten years ago, I reconnected with Bruce Charles and interviewed him again. That three-part story is here, here and here.

From 1970 to 1977, that radio was my constant companion while at home.

Then I got my first stereo system, and its receiver pretty much took the radio’s place. (For the record, that stereo consisted of a BIC 940 belt-drive turntable, an Akai AA-1010 receiver and Atlantis speakers.)

In the late ’70s, I took that radio with me when I went to shoot baskets. I’d set it at the base of the hoop while I played. It took a few shots from balls that came straight down off the rim. One such wayward shot bent the antenna. It eventually broke, so there’s long been just a stub of an antenna. I’ll forever associate the Rolling Stones’ “Some Girls” LP with that radio. In the summer of 1978, it sat at the base of the hoop at the park and the Stones poured out of it.

50 years on, I still have that radio, and I still listen to it.

On fine summer days, I set it out on the patio, sit in the sun and listen to the Brewers. During football season since at least the ’90s, I set it next to me in the rec room during Packers games, turn off the TV sound and tune in the Packers Radio Network.

If there’s one song that demonstrates how that radio changed my life, it’s the Jackson 5’s take on “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town.” It blew my 13-year-old mind when I heard it for the first time on WOKY at Christmas time in 1970. I had no idea there were pop, rock, R&B and soul versions of Christmas songs, all played only at a certain time of year. What a magical thing.

“Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town,” the Jackson 5, from “A Motown Christmas,” 1973. Originally released on “Jackson 5 Christmas Album,” 1970.

Truth be told, though, I haven’t listened to music on that radio for a long time. But I still hear it.

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Filed under December 2019, Sounds