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Friday, October 24, 2008

Punks Dissed Him, But...


Yes... that's Paul McCartney & Wings you see pictured above from their Wings Over America tour, summer 1976. 1976 was a funny year. It was the year punk hit me hard, what with seeing Patti Smith at the beginning of the year, and fervently following the exploits of the Sex Pistols while avidly collecting their singles...

Johnny 2

1976, the year of our Bicentennial... the year The Ramones showed the UK what American punk rock n roll was, and on July 4 to boot... 1976... Paul McCartney toured the USA for the first time without the Beatles, and I saw him play every night that he was booked in LA (I hear a Mastercard commercial percolating "priceless").

If you are a rock n roller, there is no denying the impact The Beatles had on your life. Love 'em or hate 'em (and believe it or not, I meet some people who do), The Beatles changed everything forever.

chuck berry 1979

Well, let me qualify that.... Chuck Berry changed everything forever, but the Beatles made it XTRA LARGE, and between them and the Rolling Stones, raised Chuck Berry's profile a LOT. Without Chuck Berry songs to perform, neither Beatles nor Stones would have had a foundation to build their own tunes upon. And that goes for Brian Wilson/Beach Boys too.

joey 4

While The Ramones had a healthy love of The Beatles (legend has it their name is derived from the psuedonym McCartney used for checking into hotels), nearly all the rest of the punk voices had pure venom for the likes of Sir Paul McCartney. Its rumored that original Sex Pistols bassist (and chief songwriter) was tossed out for his love of the Beatles, and being a bass player... by extension, his respect for Paul.

McCartney was considered a member of the Old Guard, and being world-famous and successful and likely happy didn't sit too well with the nascent nihilistic punk movement.

Sex Pistols

Well, be that as it may... I still loved the Beatles, and I enjoyed seeing Paul McCartney in concert. Years later, I would learn directly from Linda McCartney, that they listened to punk rock! In an interview we did for the USA Network series, "Cover Story," Linda remarked on listening to punk rock with her kids. The Damned in fact.

In 1977, when power pop was an accepted genre for punk rockers, Cheap Trick was on the rise and found fans within the punk rock fold, me included. They were one degree of separation from John Lennon through their producer, Jack Douglas. But even before making an album with Douglas crossed Rick Nielsen's mind, he was writing Beatle-esque songs that showcased Robin Zander's remarkable vocal range that could bring to mind a Lennon or a McCartney, given the type of tune.

Cheap Trick's Tom Petersson, 1977

So, why you might be asking yourself, is she going with this Beatles, Cheap Trick thing in 2008?

This weekend, Nashville holds its annual Fab Four Festival. There's a Beatle Fest or Convention in just about every city in the world... Tomorrow night, Bill Lloyd wrangles his friends, all of whom are accomplished players and some of them superstars in their own right... and together, they are The Long Players. For the Fab Four Fest, they are playing Abbey Road in its entirety. Oh! Darling!!! Tom Petersson will be on that stage and so will Badfinger's Joey Molland. And my friend, Hans Rotenberry, founder and frontman of my favorite current power pop rock n roll band The Shazam will be performing too.

Hans Rotenberry
Hans Rotenberry

Admit it. You like the Beatles. No... you LOVE The Beatles. You do, you really do.

Besides... it was Rod Stewart, whose recent Atlantic Crossing and celebrity playboy lifestyle who truly offended the likes of punk's inadvertent spokesman, Johnny Rotten.

rod stewart 79

Funny how Rotten's ginger colored rooster haircut isn't too far from Rod's... and the rich foreign wife... cushy LA lifestyle.... can we say, "Pot? Kettle... BLACK!"

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