Monday, December 26, 2011

Occupy Grammys - Who The F%*K is Linda Chorney?

For your consideration… Linda Chorney - EMOTIONAL JUKEBOX - Best Americana Album Grammy

I have been a voting member of NARAS since 1994. As a music historian I have studied the sometimes strange Grammy victories of the past. Equally strange are the silent, hidden voting blocks of music industry corporations. For example, could the Anita Kerr Quartet have really beaten out The Beatles in 1965 for a Grammy without the Nashville voting block quietly getting together for a few beers? I think not. By the way, we haven’t heard much from the Anita Kerr group lately have we? Well at least we all recall that her “hit” We Dig Mancini was far better than The Beatles’ Help!

Lately, the powers that be in the Americana Association are up in arms because Linda Chorney has been nominated for a wonderful new album Emotional Jukebox in the BEST AMERICANA ALBUM category of the Grammys.

Emotional Jukebox by Linda Chorney

So, why is the “Southern Man” so upset about Linda? One claim is that she doesn’t fit in the Americana category. Oh so Jethro Tull got a Grammy for Best Heavy Metal artist. No one seemed to have a problem with that, did they? Perhaps if they listened to the album first, they would see that Linda’s music is pure Americana! FYI Americana is not defined by Southern Corporate music alone. Or by some Association!

Another claim is “Who the F@#k is Linda?” Never heard of her. Oh I see, Grammy voters can only vote for Corporate Machine candidates that the Americana Association has “created” with questionable radio record spin reporting and ginned up articles with their favorite newspaper hacks?

The machine is telling Grammy voters they made a mistake nominating Linda Chorney for Best Americana album. Well, I listened to Linda’s entire album when she connected with me out of the blue. And it was, in my opinion, Fantastic. So I voted for her nomination.

Now I am voting to give her a well-deserved Grammy. I have worked for artists such as The Beatles, George Harrison, The Traveling Wilburys, Butch Vig and Garbage. So I think I know enough about good music when I hear it. I don’t need to be told who to vote for by Nashville or the Texas Americana mafia.

So, please consider listening to Linda Chorney’s new album and consider voting for her for Best Americana Album. Let your ears decide for themselves. Be independent, like Linda, not a corporate sheep.

Grammy Voters can hear most of the album here:

Check out her website and listen to some tunes at:

Jim Berkenstadt, The Rock And Roll Detective®.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Guitar Strings Used By Clapton, Santana and many more...

There is a cool web site out there that you collectors should check out called Wear Your Music (

Pete Who?

It features guitar strings used on the guitars of your favorite Rock And Roll heroes. The strings are donated to this organization and the proceeds from sales goes to benefit charities of the artists and to environmental causes. And of course the steel strings don't end up in the landfills. It is a win-win for charitable causes, collectors of rock memorabilia and the enviroment.

 The site also features other recycled products like bowls made out of vinyl LPs. There are over 150 artists who are participating at the site with their Ax strings.

Carlos Santana

You can even add jewels and clasps to the bracelets. And they make great Christmas gifts. Check it out.

Bob Weir (Grateful Dead, Bobby & the Midnights, Rat Dog)

Rock and Roll Detective (r) is a registered trademark of Rock And Roll Detective, LLC. (c) 2011.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Frank Zappa Meets John Lennon on stage

John Lennon (Sitting with Guitar) Music Poster Print - 24x36 Poster Print, 24x36 Poster Print, 24x36 Frank Zappa - 1974, Art Poster by National Archive

Once upon a time, Frank Zappa and the Mothers collaborated with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. It was in the early 1970s when artists worked together without checking with their record labels or attorneys. They just experimented together… musically that is. And the results were very joyous at times and a little tough to listen to at other times. This recording might fall into the latter category for most folks.

In the summer of 1969, Frank Zappa had broken up a previous incarnation of the Mothers and decided to form a new version of the group. The new band contained the core of the old Turtles – vocalists Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan, along with their bass player Jim Pons. The Turtles, you will recall had a streak of hits including Happy Together and Elenore . Their streak of hits came to an abrupt halt around the time they played Tricia Nixon’s masked ball Inside the White House in 1969, only to be allegedly caught smoking weed in the Lincoln Bedroom and tossing equipment around. I wonder if President Nixon had anything to do with the Turtles removal from radio’s Top 40? Can you say political backlash? Anyway, by August, 1970, these Turtles were available to start a new gig with Zappa. 

The new lineup recorded several albums with Frank Zappa. The first one was called Chunga's Revenge
Chunga's Revenge 
Due to legal problems and royalty issues that embroiled Volman and Kaylan, the “suits” said they would have to be credited under different names. The names chosen were “Phlorescent Leech and Eddie”. This eventually got shortened to their more famous nicknames, “Flo and Eddie”.

In June of 1971 Zappa’s Mothers appeared in concert at New York’s Fillmore East. They played a set of Zappa classics and even made room for the Turtles’ “Happy Together”. The concert was eventually released as: Fillmore East - June 1971
Fillmore East - June 1971But the album was missing some of the tracks from that show.
The reason? Towards the end of the show, Zappa brought on John Lennon and Yoko Ono (and additional bass player Klaus Voormann) to jam. 
John Lennon and Yoko Ono Peace - Love In 24"x36" Art Print Poster 
They played either four songs by Lennon’s account or five by Zappa’s. Here is where it gets interesting. Lennon decided to release an album called Sometime in NYC, which contained a bonus live disc. 
Sometime in NYC 
The live disc contained tracks from two different concerts. Confused yet? 
Lennon released the jam set at the Fillmore with Zappa as the following:
1.      Well, (Baby Please Don’t Go)  (Walter Ward) 4:41
2.      Jamrag  (Lennon/Ono) 5:36
3.      Scumbag (Lennon/Ono/Zappa) 4:08
4.      Au (Lennon/Ono) 6:23

Lennon’s album of this collaboration was released June 12, 1972 in the US.

However, 20 years later in 1992, Frank Zappa decided to release his version of this concert collaboration. The album was called Playground Psychotics and contained this concert as well as other Zappa concerts all on a 2 cd package. 
 Playground PsychoticsZappa digitally remixed the concert with Lennon and Ono and changed some things along the way to fit with his reality of the concert. Can you spot the differences?

1.      Well (Ward) 4:43
2.      Say Please (Lennon/Ono/Zappa) 0:57
3.      Aawk (Lennon/Ono/Zappa) 2:59
4.      Scumbag (Lennon/Ono/Howard Kaylan/ Zappa) 5:53
5.      A Small Eternity with Yoko Ono (Lennon/Ono) 6:07

It is interesting to see Zappa’s title changes, especially the last one. And even the publishing credits changed. Also of note, Howard Kaylan can be heard in the Zappa remix version commenting about Yoko who gets in and out of her “bag” during the performances. 

For the record collector who has to have it all, you will need to track down all three albums to recreate this piece of live music history: Fillmore East for the part of the Zappa show prior to the Lennon’s coming on; Sometime In New York City   to hear the Lennon mix of their jam; and Playground Psychotics to hear Zappa’s remix of the jam. 

However, you may only listen to this concert one time before deciding to file it away for a long time.
Happy hunting from the Rock And Roll Detective…

Saturday, July 2, 2011

On The Trail Of The Beatle Who Vanished: Knocking On Jimmie Nicol's Door

Camden/ Kentish Town Tube Station
I decided that it was finally time to visit Jimmie Nicol’s neighborhood in Camden/ Kentish Town. Getting off the Tube at Kentish Town, I walked down Kentish Road, observing a very young population of 20 and 30-something people who had turned the area into their own version of Chicago’s trendy Lincoln Park. Everything seemed to be called Kentish here. 
Camden/ Kentish Town

Within a block of Jimmie’s small street, I saw what was likely to be his regular pub nearby. O’Reilly’s was populated with 60-70 year old guys spending the afternoon drinking and talking together. This is a classic old London neighborhood pub; probably over 100 years old. I asked around to see if anyone knew Jimmie, but they honestly did not seem to know him. It would not be surprising if they did not know Nicol, because his reputation had been that of a loner for many years. 

O'Reilly's Pub

After lunch and a Jack Daniels, I decided the time had come to knock on the door of Jimmie Nicol. I had been given his address by an Australian reporter who had come over to do a story in honor of The Beatles’ 40th anniversary of touring down under. He indicated Jimmie lived on the first floor based upon London’s Electoral Roll records.

Jimmie Nicol's Alley. Notice the Abbey Road Shadows.

            I approached the street with some trepidation as it looked like an alley. As I walked down it, I thought I had gone to the wrong place. Where are the flats? All I saw was one back door to a store and a fenced area for garbage storage. I kept walking until the alley turned sharp right. There I saw a big pile of dirt on my right and a big wall with greens on the left. After I took the photo above and looked at it, I noticed a strange image created by the sun's rays on the green vines hanging down on the wall at the end of the alley. Was it me or was I seeing a shadow image of The Beatles crossing Abbey Road? How strange was this image of The Beatles seemingly walking over to Jimmie's flat? Must have been too much Jack Daniels at lunch, I thought... Of course, some folks think they see the image of Jesus Christ on their burnt toast.
Abbey Road

           I walked down the alley that turned into a dead end in 100 yards. As I did, I marveled at how Nicol had found a very quiet, impossibly hidden, end-of-the-world, dead end in which to live. Finally, at the end of the street on the right, I found the number. I took a deep breath and knocked on the door and waited; nothing.  I knocked again, and just then the door began opening....

          What happened next? Well, you will just have to wait until I finish writing my next book, The Beatle Who Vanished coming soon. Sign up for this blog to receive the latest news on the forthcoming book or send me an email at to be put on the New Release email list.

(c) 2011 Rock and Roll Detective(R), LLC.
All rights reserved.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

On The Trail of The Beatle Who Vanished: Lunch with a Beatle in London

My trips around London in search of the lost Beatles drummer Jimmie Nicol made me quite hungry. So I decided that it was time to ask a Beatle to lunch one day. Many of you are probably thinking that it was Jimmie Nicol, which would be a logical guess, considering I have been searching for him here in London. I can tell you that the lunch was not with some of the more common Beatles, such as Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney or Pete Best. So, you may at this point be wondering, are there any other Beatles left alive? Yes there is. Here is a clue for you...

Notice this Beatle, seen here circa 1960 is playing left-handed. Assuming you have not yet guessed, I will give you some more clues. This gentleman played bass guitar with The Beatles in December, 1960, at the Casbah after they had returned from Hamburg without regular bass player Stu Sutcliffe. Stu remained behind to live with his girlfriend and future fiance Astrid. So this gent is the bass player after Stu but before Paul. Give up?

Upon their return from Hamburg, The Beatles needed a bass player for the December gigs. Pete Best suggested his friend Chas Newby. Newby had played in Pete Best's earlier band, The Blackjacks. Chas was home for winter break from college where he was studying to be a chemical engineer. He joined The Beatles for about 3 gigs in December of 1960. Over lunch he told me about one rehearsal where George asked him for help with the chords to "Hallelujah, I Love Her So". Chas recalls, "George wanted to play the same part I was playing on the bass at the same time. So I worked out the chords with him." Below, you can hear an early rehearsal of this song by The Beatles (without Chas).

At the end of December, 1960, John Lennon asked Newby if he wanted to join the group. Chas politely declined. The Beatles were making about one pound each per night. And that is when they had a gig. Maybe 12 pounds per month. "I was getting my entire college paid for by an outside firm and they were additionally paying me 500 pounds per month," says Newby. He had a good deal. Lennon agreed. So Newby went back to college and became a chemical engineer. He would go on to develop the windscreens used to protect our US fighter pilots that are still used today. After retirement from chemical engineering, Chas became a teacher to high school students. In the 2000s Chas built his own custom bass guitar and became a member of the pub rock group The Racketts.
Chas Newby in concert today

We spent about an hour and a half chatting and laughing. Chas, who had heard about Jimmie Nicol, was very interested in my research for the forthcoming book, The Beatle Who Vanished.  This led to my final question for Chas. Do you ever regret that you didn't take up John Lennon on his offer to be a Beatle? Chas said, "No, I have enjoyed my life and have done what I always wanted to do. He continued, "I have to tell you, my prospects looked a lot better than theirs in December, 1960 (lauging).
We said our goodbyes and took a photo together.
Chas Newby (L) and Jim Berkenstadt (R) London 5/19/2011
Oh yes, here is a very rare 1960 Hofner Presidential Bass like the one played by both Stu Sutcliffe and Chas Newby in 1960. Only this one is signed by Beatle Chas Newby!

1960 Hofner bass signed by Chas Newby
Next time, the Rock And Roll Detective takes you on the hunt for the flat where The Beatle Who Vanished is located. Stay tuned.

2011 (C) Rock And Roll Detective(r), LLC.
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Sunday, May 29, 2011

On the Trail of The Beatle Who Vanished: The Recording Studios

Back on the Tube, I found myself in St. John’s Wood, an upscale London neighborhood that houses EMI’s Abbey Road Studios. The place made famous by The Beatles, Pink Floyd and many more. Crossing the magical zebra crosswalk that The Beatles used for the cover photo of their album Abbey Road, I made my way over to this venerable old studio. 

It was easy to envision a very nervous, yet determined Jimmie Nicol striding up the stairs, with his friend John Hodkinson in tow, moving through the throngs of newsmen into Studio 2 for his rehearsal/tryout with The Beatles. A 20 minute session that would change his life forever. At the end of the audition, John Lennon said to Nicol, "You're in." What happened before and after that momentous occasion will be revealed in detail with the release of The Beatle Who Vanished, coming soon.

Lost Decca SessionsFrom one studio to another, I traveled to where Decca Studios used to be located at 165 Broadhurst Gardens. This was scene of The Beatles January, 1962 recording test where Decca A & R man Dick Rowe famously turned down the group for a record contract. Many a bootleg has been released from the Lost Decca Sessions.

A few years later, this studio was the place where Brian Epstein brought his protégé Tommy Quickly to record “You Might As Well Forget Him”. One of many recording dates Jimmie Nicol would play in the first half of 1964 before becoming a deputy Beatle. Today, the building looks every bit the same as it did in the 1960s, with one exception. Rock and Roll has died at this site only to be replaced by Opera! The studio is long gone, but today the building serves as the location housing the English National Opera. Give me the Kinks any day! Oh well, I guess that is what they call progress. 

Decca Studio today
Next stop, the former Pye Studios. Pye was the place where, among other things, Nicol  recorded his own Jimmie Nicol & the Shubdubs singles and his famous Ska records with Cyril Stapleton and Chris Farlowe under the fictitious band name The Beazers. Their night club hit song was called The Blue Beat. Take a listen back to swinging 1964.


Walking through London’s famous Marble Arch to get there, I was not surprised to find Pye studios gone. 

This is valuable upscale real estate located in the heart of London tourism. Pye has now been turned into a huge, upscale Gentlemen’s Casino that takes up the entire block on Bryanston Street. 

Pye Studios building today
Eddie Kramer and Jimi Hendrix at Pye 1960s

Next time, the Rock And Roll Detective meets and has lunch with a Beatle in Kensington! Is it The Beatle Who Vanished? Stay tuned.

2011 (C) Rock And Roll Detective(r), LLC.
To sign up for book release information on The Beatle Who Vanished, email: