Part Seven 2004-2006
Fifteen minutes of fame
As the new year began, my basement studio was complete. While it was fully functional, with a few more additional tricks than The Womb had (no new gear, just a better application), it just wasn't condusive to creativity. First of all, it was very tight quarters. It was essentially an average size room with a wall in the center. In my haste to assemble it, I chose to not paint the already blue walls which evoked a very cold environment. It simply wasn't warm like The Womb. Volume was also an issue
(I had neighbors). And, having no windows, it really felt disconnected and dungeon-like. Like I said, it was quite functional but just not creative. I soon began a new project which gave it considerable use but I did little more than dub my older vinyl records and do some mixing of older recordings from The Womb.
The basement studio circa 2005
As 2003 ended, since I hadn't played music in a few months, I had much more free time. More time for my musical focus to old reliables, The Beatles. Although I haven't mentioned them too often over the past few parts of this bio, The Beatles continued to be a major force in my life and, in fact, the force was fueled by the internet.
To recap, The Beatles have been a major part of my life since 1964. In 1970, I took my first baby-steps at researching them. Things have continued to showball from then on. Today, modesty aside, I would consider on the lower rung of the ladder that is the world's top Beatles researchers. With that in mind, I had often thought about making a Beatles website. But, I didn't know how to create websites and even if I did, there are so many Beatles sites out there, what would I use as content and how could I distinguish it from the hundreds of other sites that existed?
Through the past few years, I had gained a strong affinity for two aspects of The Beatles - acetates and their early career as a simple club band. Some might ask, "What is an acetate?". An acetate is essentially a record with a metal core which is coated with a soft vinyl material then, litterally cut on a lathe in a recording studio to produce a music record which can be played. With the advent of the CD, acetates are rarely used today but their original purpose served as a demo for artists and producers to take home and listen to a work in progress or even a finished recording. Acetates are also the first step in the record manufacturing process. They serve as the original template, so to speak, that all the commercial records will be made from. Acetates are VERY rare and usually no more than four or five exist of a particular recording. Often times, only one exists and even more rare, sometimes that one contains a recording that no longer exists anywhere else. Acetates are one of the top Beatles collectable and valuable items. sometimes known to bring in as much as $30,000-40,000 for a single disc. The average price can easily be $10,000 a disc.
The Beatles' early years have always been a vague part of their history. For those who lived it, memories fade or manifest themselves in embellished and fictional accounts. Photos of that era have circulated for well over forty years but much of the info is incorrect or misleading. Always, as I would read Beatles facts and history of those days, I tried to visualize what it was really like. But I could rarely fit some of the photos to the history.
As time went on and I became more intrenched in computers and the internet, I began to realize that info for these two topics was scattered here, there and everywhere and could prove to be the proverbial needle-in-the-haystack. There was no complete and concise resource for either topic. Ah ha!!! Those are the website I should create. I had already done much of the research and knew the directions to other resources. Now, all I needed to do was learn how to create web pages.
To learn how to create websites, I went to my friend Seraph who had been designing websites for a few years. She gave me a brief, just the basics, tutorial and a good software to use. That was all I needed. It took a few months to assemble everything into a presentation then, in February 2004, I clicked that upload button and TheBeatleSource was launched. Within a few months, The Savage Young Beatles followed.
Previously, my name was reasonably known throughout Beatles internet circles. So I knew, at least, folks who were familiar with me would check out the sites but I was not prepared for the rave reviews I received and how fast and far reference to the sites would spread. Before long, I was hearing from people all over the world. I even heard from such Beatles' associates as Bill Harry. For those of you who don't know, Bill Harry is an old Beatles' school chum (who has remained friends with them) who created the famous Liverpool, England entertainment newspaper called Mersey Beat which served as the foremost vehicle for promoting The Beatles during the early years as well as their entire career. Today, Bill utilizes me a a researcher on his Mersey Beat website and . His reference to me can be read here.
I also heard from Sam Leach. Sam was an early Beatles promoter in the early years. Sam continues to maintain a friendship with The Beatles and has contributed considerable to my sites. However, the most surprising contact (outside of Paul or Ringo) was The Beatles' original drummer, Pete Best. Pete was creating a documentary about his years with The Beatles and contacted me regarding some bits of info and, in turn, provided some bits of info for my site. A short time later, Pete and his current band played in Toledo, Ohio. I attended the show and afterwards had the opportunity to meet him. Interestingly enough, when I told him my name, he recognized it and some of his bandmates were familiar with the site.
I've also heard from many other folks who had association with The Beatles in those early days such as friends, Rod Davis (from Lennon's original Quarry Men), the photographers who took some of the photos, high-end collectors, other Liverpool musicians, renowned Beatles researcher Mark Lewisohn, dozens of other researcher and media producers along with hundreds of general folks from all over this planet who are simply sending praise. Sometimes I receive so much email that I can hardly keep up with it. I even have folks sending me tons of free stuff such as CDs, albums, photos and documents. I've also been credited for my research in three books, Lifting Latches by John Winn, The Beatles Film & TV Chronicle by Jörg Pieper and Volker Path, and All I Want Is The Truth by Elizabeth Partridge who even writes...
As a result of my research for the websites, I even made a considerably important discovery regarding an old film of The Beatles performing at the famous Cavern Club in 1962. Previously, it was believed to exist on the performance of one complete song and a few minutes of silent outtakes. But I noticed that there was, in fact, two versions of the one song (albiet, the second version utilized the audio from the first). I presented the info on my site and soon it was being utilized in Beatles reference books such as Lifting Latches and the Film & TV Chronicle.
Clearly, I had found my fifteen minutes of fame. My sites, especially The Savage Young Beatles, have become a couple of the tops Beatles sites. In 2005, I began work on a Beatles audio/video reference book which is taking much longer than anticipated but it'll be finished someday. Meanwhile, I've had many requests for me to write it.
I've finally found my noted niche in Beatledom.
As 2004 progressed, I was employed with a fellow who had recorded a rap album and we frequently talked about music.
Before long he asked me to record and produce his next album. With the exception of a couple of fellows who had attempted to record one song in The Womb in 2003, I had never recorded or played rap before and, although I had certainly heard plenty of it, I hadn't really examined it whenever I did hear it. In fact, I wasn't terribly fond of too much of it. "D" was highly inspired the Detroit heavy-rap band, Insane Clown Posse. I had certainly heard ICP and thought it a bit interesting. I found it very similar to punk as opposed to something like gangsta-rap. "D" is also a big fan of old "B" horror movies (as am I) and he sets a similar scene in his songs. I needed to get back into making music, liked his approach so, I decided to do it.
Enter... Deadly-D !!!
"D" had been writing a trilogy about a good cop who was framed then murdered by his fellow officers. I would be recording Part Two of the triology. The cop returns from the dead as "Menace" and is hell-bent on terrorizing the crooked city establishment which caused his death. While the lyrics are as profane, vile and graphic as you might think, the images are that of the old "B" movies, full of gouls and zombies. During one session, we even had the classic Night Of The Living Dead on repeat play for inspiration as we recorded.
As the 2000s progressed, three other female artists entered the world of my listening favorites. After The Womb, three new ones found their way to my ears. Carina Round rocks my world and gives PJ Harvey a good run for her money as my choice of listening. Uzeda sounds like Shellac with a female vocalist (Giovanna Cacciola). Her trance-like wails send chills up my spine. And Regina Spektor is just so fuckin' cool! After losing The Womb, Carina Round was the first thing I heard that really provoked me to make music again.
Late one night early in 2006, I was driving home from Seraph's when WDET played a song by one of my top favorite bands who had only made three album back in the mid 1980s, Mission Of Burma. But this wasn't an old song! As the DJ stated, it was from their NEW album and it sound fuckin' brilliant!!! I simply couldn't believe my ears. They had actually made a new album. Upon my arrival home, I immediately checked the internet and, indeed, they had just released the record. As an added bonus, I learned that they had already released a new album in 2004 that, somehow, I had missed. Within days, I had both albums. The band even included the original members along with Shellac's bass player playing tape-loops on the recordings. Unlike many other "reunions" which tend to fall flat or are even a joke, MOB hadn't missed a beat as if they had never quit. Next to The Beatles' "reunion" in the mid 1990s and The Stooges reunion in 2003, this was the best musical news I had heard in many years. I just hope they continue to make music.
Mission Of Burma
A major setback would occur in June 2006. Heavy summer rainstorms that swept through the midwest United States caused sever damage to my home, notably my basement where the studio was (the basement was flooded). Luckily, I was home at the time so there was nearly no damage to the gear and other belongings, which I was able to remove as the water rose) but the studio had to be dismantled yet again and the basement completely gutted. Doing all the work myself, it would probably take about a year to rebuild it all. So, at the time of this writing, things are getting back together but are far from complete.
Hopefully, by the end of the summer 2007, things should be near completion.
Hot on the heels of the basement event, our family cat became deathly ill. This consumed much time and money. The cat survived the illness with flying colors and is alive and well today but it caused a major set-back to the basement prolonging the time it took to make repairs.
In late 2006, I FINALLY got to see Steve Albini and Shellac in person at The Beachland Ballroom (a very small club) in Cleveland. After the show, I managed to meet and talk with Steve Albini for quite a while. He spoke of a new Shellac album in early 2007 (which at the time of this writing, has yet to be released) but more surprisingly, he had recorded a new, full album for The Stooges. Could this be true? The Stooges and Steve Albini!!! I must have died and gone to heaven!
Meeting Steve Albini after the show.
Sorry about the quality. These are cell phone pics.
In March 2007, The Stooges album arrived. Although I was a bit disappointed (I had hoped for "Funhouse Part 2" which it isn't), it still rocks with all the spit and bile that was present on the first Stooges album. At the time of this writing, Iggy turns sixty years old in a month and he still has more balls than all his copy-cats combined could ever hope to have.
Iggy and the boys
On to Part 8