Dick Curtis: Dylan [IV]

Sinatra I Sinatra II Sinatra III Dylan I Dylan II Dylan III Dylan IV Dylan V Dylan VI The Eagles Leon & Jackson Led Zeppelin

Copyright © 2006 by Dick Curtis

It felt good to be back home for a while. Of course, while at home I had to put my other hat on and perform not only for Jerry Weintraub but Concerts West as well. After all they were still the ones signing my checks. That meant occasionally checking out a new act at the Roxy in Hollywood or handling an appearance of a Concerts West act passing through Los Angeles. While I was away, my wife at the time, Karen or Kay as she liked to be called, had become friends with Mary Alice Artes, Dylan’s girlfriend. I wasn’t sure this was healthy and I was right. Later on it would develop into a wart on my relationship with Bob. But that would be later; for now everything was rolling along on schedule. Weintraub was pleased with my work. Life was good. Dylan was about to record with his new group – then there would be a week at the Universal Amphitheatre.

One day Bob ask me, “When a hot rod is licensed to be driven on the street, isn’t that called, street legal?” I really wasn’t sure but it sounded plausible and I said, “Yes, I think so.” Dylan and the band recorded in April at Rundown Studios in Santa Monica rather than in a recording studio. No frills for this group. I guess Bob felt that he and everyone else were most comfortable there where they’d rehearsed the same songs for so many weeks. And it cost nothing. The name of the album, imagine my surprise, was going to be called “Street Legal.” I spent that first day of recording at the studio and into the night. I went into the office the next day and told Jerry, “Bob got four songs down last night.” I thought Weintraub would fall off his chair. I also said, “I think he’ll knock it out this week.” Jerry didn’t believe me. He was use to Neil Diamond taking six months to record an album. Street Legal took four days to record. It would be released in mid-June following Bob’s week at Universal – then we would head for Europe. A second Dylan album in which I received album credits. I don’t believe I ever had any others from anyone.

album

I didn’t see too much of Bob’s Universal shows. We were back in L. A. and it was easy for Weintraub to be in attendance and of course be very visible as “Dylan’s Manager.” I remained in the background. Besides I looked forward to a little less pressure for the week or so at Universal. I was about to spend the rest of the year with Dylan. That would be more than enough. The concerts at the Universal Ampitheatre had mixed reviews. To be honest, more negative than positive. I could tell it bothered Bob but he didn’t let on.

amphitheater ad

The shows, June 1st through June 7th had gone on sale May 1st at 9am. They had completely sold out by 1pm. Some fans had camped overnight hoping to get tickets. More than five-hundred disappointed Dylan followers were turned away Monday afternoon. Scalpers were already selling tickets in the parking lot for four times the face value. A month later, on opening night, the Amphitheatre was packed with celebrities and Dylan played to the audience. Much of the performance, in this intimate setting, came across like he was performing a Las Vegas act; ala Neil Diamond. Introducing movie stars in the audience, taking the mike and moving around touching fans, “here’s a song I recorded with the Band” and launching into “Going, Going, Gone.” The audience was polite but many sat stunned. This wasn’t what they had expected. The up tempo arrangements, the background singers, it was all more than they were prepared for. This west coast, Southern California audience was reacting just the opposite as those in Australia. Brisbane now seemed a million years away. As I read the mixed reviews I somehow felt fortunate that I wasn’t there alone for this week’s worth of shows. I thought to myself, I’m sure Weintraub will dig down into his deep sack of bull-shit and convince even Bob that this was to be expected and change takes time. Before it’s all over you’ll be even bigger than ever. A week later, “Street Legal” was released. Many critics treated the album just the same as the show. Rolling Stone magazine went so far as to headline the review, “Never So Utterly Fake.” Later, in a follow-up issue, publisher, Jann Wenner, reviewed “Street Legal” himself and gave it a favorable review. Wenner remained one of the few in the business of reporting that had access to Bob Dylan. That wasn’t about to be jeopardized by one stinking review.

We were now headed to Europe and it seemed like an appropriate time to flee the country. First stop, England.

We were opening at Earl’s Court in London on June 15th for a six-day run. According to our English promoter, Harvey Goldsmith, the 100,000 tickets had sold out in record time. Everyone in London was talking about Bob Dylan’s upcoming concerts. I had never been to London before and between shows I did the tourist thing, taking in the sights. After the sound checks and prior to the shows, I was introduced, by our English drummer Ian Wallace, to an English pub near Earl’s Court. There I learned that everything I’d heard about the English pub was for real. People really were playing darts and singing songs. There was a piano player and everyone around was a frustrated singer and weren’t afraid to show it; most times quite loudly. The English beer, with much more alcohol content than in the states, kicked in and I felt an uncomfortable buzz as we headed back to Earl’s Court for our opening night. I wanted to be in full control and was disappointed that I hadn’t watched myself better at the pub. It had snuck up on me. I wasn’t out of control or slurring or anything like that but to myself I knew I wasn’t at the top of my game.

Anyway, the show was underway and as I walked from the dressing room to the backstage area, there stood Jerry Weintraub and Tom Hulett. They’d flown from Los Angeles to catch the opening night in London. I’m sure Jerry was very aware of Dylan’s feeling following the Los Angeles performances and this gave him a chance to again make an appearance, show his concern and buoy up Bob’s feelings. Weintraub most likely wanted company and told Tom to come along. A good time would be had by all. As I passed by I got the glad hand from Jerry. “How’s Bob?” “He’s doing great,” I told him. I meant it. I think Bob was very relieved to leave L-A and was feeling good in London. Tom said very little aside from hello. Damn, it was always so hard for me to accept that I was responsible for this bastard being in the business to begin with and always felt that he looked down on me. I swear it wasn’t jealousy or anything like that. I just didn’t like his “I’m a star and you’re a peon” attitude. I spent very little time with the pair and went to the apron of the stage where I could immediately sense this was going to be much better than Los Angeles. The crowd was loudly applauding, cheering and giving Bob his due. Not as boisterous as Brisbane but he was going over big time, new arrangements and all.

Our concerts at Earl’s Court were accompanied by celebrities backstage all wanting to see Bob. Robert Shelton was writing a book about Dylan which he released in 1986 titled “No Direction Home – The Life and Music of Bob Dylan”. Bianca Jagger was flitting about with some guy whose main occupation was “being seen with Bianca” – most likely his only occupation. Actually Bianca came off like a very nice person. Jack Nicholson was there along with several others I didn’t even know. A couple of guys that were musicians and had played on the bill with Dylan years earlier at Gerde’s Folk City in New York during the beginning of Bob’s career were hanging around. Nicholson by the way was in London filming the Stanley Kubrick movie, “The Shining.”

Following the concert that second night we were all outside on the bus that would take us back to the hotel. Last to arrive was Dylan. After he jumped on the bus he said to me, “We’re going to a party.” I said, “Okay, where is it?” “Soho,” he explained, “only they don’t know we’re all coming.” The bus pulled up in front of the house and I could tell by the look of surprise that they weren’t expecting us. You see, Nicholson and Bianca had invited “Bob” to this party. Dylan took it upon himself to include the rest of us on the bus. The get-together was co-hosted by Nicky Haslam and Bubbles Harmsworth. It was at the home of Bubbles. I’m not making this up. She had planned on a cozy little gathering of 400 people. We inflated that figure a bit. Anyway, I had a good time and made a fool of myself. You see, Princess Margaret’s boyfriend for many years, Roddy Llewellyn was there. And it was in Bubble’s kitchen that he introduced me to Polish vodka. I apparently took a great liking to it. Margaret Trudeau, the former first lady of Canada and I had a lengthy conversation about the difficulties of being a celebrity. Something I knew nothing about but fortified with Llewellyn’s vodka I could carry on with the best of them. Margaret told me several stories of her escapades with the press and others when she was married to Prime Minster Pierre Trudeau. She said she was staying in London to write her memoirs. Then I walked over to Jack Nicholson and proceeded to tell him about this guy I knew in Los Angeles. I have to backtrack to tell the story. It was the day Elvis died and I’m at work in the Weintraub offices in Beverly Hills. In comes Tom Murphy, an L-A DJ. We were both disk jockeys together in Seattle at KJR. He’s standing in the reception area and shouting something like, “The king bought it huh?” I came out and shushed him up telling him it’s not a funny thing to say in these offices. Elvis made up large share of Weintraub’s income. Elvis’s death isn’t something to joke about and I hustled him out to lunch. Murphy was living in the San Fernando Valley and working at a station in the Los Angeles area. He tells me about his friend, who I also knew, Jeff Thomas. Jeff is a very funny guy and had a rock group called “The Fastest Group Alive.” Jeff ended up married to actor and dance man Donald O’Conner’s daughter. If you ever watched the old situation comedy “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman” Jeff was the piano player on Mary’s recording sessions. Since I’m working with Bob Dylan, Tom thought he’d sing to me Jeff’s impression of Jack Nicholson doing Bob Dylan. It was funny. So I couldn’t resist myself that evening at Bubble’s London party doing my impression of my friend Jeff Thomas doing Jack Nicholson doing Dylan. Nicholson looked at me like I was crazy and said, “Oh ya, tell him he was second” and he left me standing there and headed for the living room. I guess he HAD done the Dylan impersonation before; perhaps in the shower. Who knew? After a couple of hours it was time to escape with the band. We all once again boarded our bus and headed back to Kensington where we were staying.

“Street Legal” had just been released in Great Britain and while in London Bob was often occupied with people from the record company and busy with interviews. Elle Smith was the CBS publicist that was with Bob constantly during those days. He seemed to enjoy the company of the transplanted American and their work was paying off. “Street Legal” was getting favorable reviews and was selling at a good clip. A week’s appearance in London would help spur sales and at the conclusion of our European tour we’d be back in England for a huge outdoor concert with Eric Clapton at the Blackbushe Aerodrome in Camberley.

Womens Wear

The above article appeared in Women’s Wear Daily

We next flew to Amsterdam in The Netherlands. Bob would be performing an outdoor concert in a city about thirty miles away, Rotterdam. My wife Karen had now joined me and we were both seeing Amsterdam for the first time. I was very intrigued by this city. We walked the streets at night through the area where prostitutes display themselves in windows like store-front mannequins, most wearing lingerie in the dim red lit rooms. We visited the Rembrandt Museum and then on to the museum of another famous Dutch painter, Vincent Van Gogh. We toured the house of Anne Frank at Prinsengracht 263 in Amsterdam. She, her family and some friends hid in this house for over two years, avoiding the Nazi’s before they were finally betrayed. It was here she wrote in her famous diary. It gave one an eerie feeling to just be inside this very same building.

House Amsterdam

The Anne Frank House In Amsterdam

The Rotterdam concert would be on a Friday night at the Feyenoord Stadium. Eric Clapton was also on the bill. While Rotterdam boasts of cutting edge architecture, the bustling port and factories mark it as one of the most industrialized areas in Western Europe. We decided to have a sound check at the stadium the night before the concert. So on this Thursday night, riding on the bus from Amsterdam to Rotterdam past the windmills and Dutch countryside; I had a similar feeling as I would have had driving from Seattle to Tacoma. Not that there’s any comparison to the surroundings but the sizes and different make-up of the cities caused me to feel that way; Seattle the larger, more metropolitan city like Amsterdam – Tacoma the smaller, industrialized city like Rotterdam. The next night Dylan, with Eric Clapton opening the show, played to about thirty-thousand in Feyenoord Stadium. The fans, most of them in their twenties and thirties, seemed to enjoy themselves and showed their approval with screaming applause after every number. Clapton played Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” during his set. The next time we would see Eric would be in about a week at another outdoor venue in Nuremberg. We were on our way to Germany.

The last time I’d been to Germany had been while I was in the U.S. Air Force in 1953. I spent nearly a month in Bremerhaven and Frankfurt before the military decided to send me to North Africa. We were going to travel in style through Germany and France. The tour was using the Keiser Wilhelm railroad cars dating back many decades; four cars that we had rented for the tour. Bob and I had two suites with showers which made up one car. The band had their car. There was a lounge and restaurant car and the fourth railroad car was for luggage and equipment. The train cars would be hooked up to an engine pulling other cars in our direction. Patrick Stansfield had come up with the idea of using the railroad cars. I’m sure it was something Neil Diamond had done in the past. So we headed out of Amsterdam by train toward Dortmund, West Germany. The distance was only about 125 miles so our trip was quite short.

We played two nights at the Westfalenhalle in Dortmund. Because of the language barrier it was hard to judge the audience but it seems like things went well. None of these European crowds compared in enthusiasm to what Dylan experienced during the week at Earl’s Court. However one reviewer did write, loosely translated, “its appearance did not have the force of expression like the interpretations on record from the sixties.” The review was titled “It’s All Over Now.” I would compare the Dortmund audience acceptance to being slightly better than the Los Angeles reception at Universal. We then went into East Germany and on to West Berlin.

The trip was a little less than three-hundred miles. Passing through the border guards in and out of East Germany would take some time which meant we most likely would be on the train for about ten hours. After a couple of hours the train came to a halt. It was time to cross into communist East Germany and I had no idea what to expect. I had envisioned being kept there for some time while they investigated every piece of luggage and equipment. Quite the contrary. Once again Stansfield had taken care of the guards by loading them down with Bob Dylan albums. It was a sight to see – these communist border guards walking down the tracks next to our cars happily carrying their Dylan albums. I would have given anything to have had a camera handy. That picture was worth the proverbial thousand words.

The day of the show in West Berlin, Mike Crowley and I, along with my wife, hired a cab driver to take us into East Berlin. That was some experience. Crossing over was like going from day to instant night. While West Berlin was a bustling city, East Berlin was dead. It looked depressed everywhere you turned. I gazed at some of the apartments and thought about the people that lived there; a brother on one side, another on the other side. One can even see the other’s house but they may never meet again. How sadly we treat one another. The driver took us around town and eventually to the famous Hansel and Gretel Park. When we returned I was happy to be back in western civilization. That is until the concert that night.

There was a lot of apprehension in the audience. After all, Bob Dylan’s poetry is taught in German schools. That was quickly forgotten, because as the show began and Bob appeared on stage with the eight-piece band and backup singers, I knew we had problems. The boos began almost immediately. They wanted “acoustic Bob” not what Dylan had prepared for them. As the concert continued, the crowd got louder and Dylan launched into “Ballad Of a Thin Man,” “You walk into the room, with your pencil in your hand; you see somebody naked and you say, who is that man? You try so hard but you don’t understand; just what you’ll say when your get home.” I rounded up the truck drivers, large guys for the most part; had them stand in front of the speakers and by the mixer board. I wanted to make sure if we didn’t get out alive at least our equipment did. “Because something is happening here but you don’t know what it is; Do you Mister Jones?” Dylan took his intermission on schedule and then went back for more. I was hoping he would play right through. It was then that the eggs started flying. These folks came armed. Still no acoustic and there wouldn’t be any either. And then it was over. I was never so glad to have a concert conclude as this one. We all were gathered backstage. I was ready to bolt but Dylan didn’t seem to be in a hurry. I said, “Bob, let’s get the hell out of here.” He blurted out, “Why, I’m going back” and he did! Dylan went back on stage and performed TWO more encores. The first was, “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight.” Then amongst the boos Bob lay flat on his back at the front of the stage and launched into “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” “Come gather ‘round people wherever you roam, And admit that the waters around you have grown; And accept it that soon you’ll be drenched to the bone.” Dylan was actually singing the song lying down. “The line is drawn, the curse it is cast. The slow one now will later be fast. As the present now will later be past. The order is rapidly fadin’; And the first one now will later be last. For the times they are a-changin’.” The booing ceased and turned into cheers. The audience was totally taken by surprise. Bob Dylan was a master. I had looked for the easy way out; running away. Dylan instead chose to play with their heads. With that, the concert was concluded. I thought to myself; NOW let’s get the hell out of here!

Cross discusses KBES changes

RadioTVNews2–(1973) Dick Cross was smiling, a walking antithesis to his surname. His wife was taking her real-estate license test. He was taking Saturday off, planning to slow down on Sunday so he would wake Monday bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
Cross clicks on the KBES microphone at 5:30 tomorrow morning, marking his return to the air after one year pounding the streets at the unemployment office and/or pacing the dimensions of a parcel of real estate.
Cross will be morning personality and program director. A. Stuart Ballinger, general manager, also named a new afternoon disc jockey, Rich Osborne, and a new music director, Chuck Mahaffey.
“I’m going to start slow. But this station is going to be one that everybody on the Eastside is going to know about, that’s for sure,” Cross said. He expects more awareness of community events on the air and a uniform musical sound. He will introduce a playlist–specific selections that must be aired by each disc jockey.
Cross was a program director, at KUGN, Eugene, Oregon, before coming to KVI as afternoon disc jockey.
The 12-month KVI experience left some bitterness with Cross, “mostly because I got used to a big city radio salary and then found myself out of work-at my age-looking at a career change.” He had worked in Oregon radio for 17 years.
“The old bug has got me again,” Cross said. “I’ve learned a lot about Seattle and Bellevue people. I’m very excited about the possibilities.”

Changes at KOL

In the past two years there’ve been two coup d’état at KOL. Something is happening there again but it looks like whoever is stirring up the mud on Harbour Island isn’t leaving clear tracks.
Don Wade, morning personality, Bobby Simon, afternoon disc jockey, and Ken Mattler, news director, were fired within eight hours of each other.
Ostensibly the reason given was “economic cutback.”
“Baloney,” Wade reacted. “They could have offered me half the money I was making and I’d have stayed. I want to stay in Seattle.”
Wade was too stunned to make the offer himself. Mattler said he had: “I told the manager that if money was the problem I would take a cut in pay.” Mattler said the three persons fired were the only ones who offered constructive criticism.
Jack Bolton, program director, said “more exciting changes,” which he would announce in October, were coming at KOL.
Automation equipment has been ordered.

Twisting the dial

Frank Taylor, music director and afternoon disc jockey, left KBES Friday… The three new disc jockeys at KING-AM are Stu Collins, new morning man from Ft. Wayne Indiana, by way of Atlanta, Georgia, and Joe Kelly, midmorning disc jockey, who has worked in Milwaukee, San Francisco and Atlanta… Joe Cain has replaced Richard Valiance as moderator of KRAB’s Saturday-night talk show… Jim Bach is back at KOL.

Robin & Maynard reprise a KAYO contest

Robin & MaynardIn one of the clips found in the grab bag of whimsy at the Robin & Maynard site, you’ll hear the duo run a contest that originally took place on KAYO in 1959. Did they ever have an original idea between the two of them??? ((LINK)) Hear clips of other bits Robin & Maynard stole from other great radio personalities. You are likely to hear something originally done by Dick Stokke among the clips at Robin & Maynard dot net

‘Magic’ and KIXI Sold to California Radio Chain

radio notes_smTwo Seattle radio stations, KMGI(FM) and KIXI-AM, have been sold for $16 million. Noble Broadcast Group, an aggressive chain based in San Diego, is the new owner, taking control from Sunbelt Communications.
The sale is subject to approval from the Federal Communications Commission.
In 1985 Sunbelt introduced the adult-contemporary KMGI, promoted as “Magic 108,” on the 107.7 spot previously held by KRAB. [Related: New KMGI Features Favorites of the Past] The operating board of KRAB had sold the commercial frequency, expecting to find an alternate dial setting in the noncommercial part of the FM band. Purchase price for the FM station, with little more than a tower site, was $4 million. It took a year to get KMGI on the air.
Sunbelt acquired KIXI in October for $4.8 million. Both KIXI, with a nostalgia format, and KMGI are consistently in the top dozen radio stations in Seattle.
Noble Broadcast Group is a new chain that, with this purchase, becomes the largest radio-only owner in the country with 17 stations.
In the past month alone, Noble has acquired five radio stations and a Muzak franchise. The next largest broadcast chain owns 15 radio stations. Noble’s stations are in such cities as San Diego, Boston, New Haven, Denver, Kansas City and Houston.
John Lynch, a founder of the group, expects to expand to the full complement of 24 stations, with future cities of license including San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Festival broadcast
Segments from the Folklife Festival will be broadcast each afternoon of the festival, on KUOW, 94.9 mHz.
Other radio stations sponsor some musical and stage events on the fairgrounds.

He’s up there
Bob B. Scott, afternoon disc jockey, plans to broadcast today from the top of Mount Rainier to listeners on KRPM-AM-FM, 770 and 106.1. Scott said he climbed the mountain last August as a personal challenge. This time he’s just like the big climbers – he has a sponsor, a sporting goods store – and in May expects to encounter more snow.
He is carrying a two-way radio, which the station will intercept. He was to be at Camp Muir level Saturday and the summit at noon Sunday.

Across the dial
— Another Sunday-morning mostly instrumental “environmental sound” program airs from 8-10 a.m. on KSEA, 100.7 mHz. Called “Over Easy,” it includes a modest amount of new-age music with the lighter jazz sounds already heard on the station.
— Famous names in Northwest rock will be on the KVI, 570 kHz, morning show beginning Monday. It’s part of a promotion culminating in “The History of Northwest Rock,” a marathon history lesson to be broadcast starting at 10 a.m. Memorial Day. “The History of Northwest Rock,” produced by Mike Webb and Peter Blecha, originally aired in 1987. Dick Curtis’ Monday program features Nancy Claire, singer with the Viceroys, Little Bill of the Bluenotes, and Jim Valley, who was Harpo with Paul Revere and the Raiders.
— A somewhat-public private-label ale was introduced this month, “Z Original Ale.” It is brewed by Hale’s Ale in Kirkland for Seattle’s KPLZ – “the Z.” The brew will be available only through the month at only a dozen outlets, including the Latona Tavern and FX McRory’s.
— KOMO is scouting sites for a series of remote broadcasts from the Wimbledon tennis tournament in London in June.
— Joe Abel, executive vice president and general manager of KIRO Newsradio 71, has added the duty of supervising Kansas City sister stations KMBZ and KMBR.
— “Sounds of Sinatra,” a two-hour weekly syndication program with Sid Mark, is now heard at 5 p.m. Sundays on KSEA. The series was heard only briefly in this area but has been presented in Philadelphia for 25 years or so. This Sunday’s program includes Columbia recordings from 1947 to 1953.
— “Music Weekends” begin running from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend on KLSY-AM-FM, 1540 and 92.5. The hours after 10 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays offer “highlights” (at least a song an hour) by different music groups.
— Susan Glass, formerly with KLTX, is the new weekend announcer at KLSY-AM-FM, 1540 and 92.5.

Advertising & Programming: G. Michael, David Field & Bob Rivers Opine

G Michael1996 – G. Michael Donovan, Regional VP for Entercom owned KMTT FM (The Mountain) “One thing we do is let prospective clients view our current client base. When they see banks, airlines, and art galleries, we are able to infer that this is a station that must represent their own psychographic targeting. Clients may not understand the nuances of the music, but they do understand the advertising company that they keep.”

Typically, the area of greatest concern for programmers during 1996 was whether group ownership consolidation would eliminate their jobs. Most group executives remained upbeat on the matter. “On the programming side, we see additional opportunities for our PDs,” Entercom COO /CFO David Field remarked “A lot of them had glass ceilings in the old paradigm. However, there is much greater opportunity for career expansion for individuals who are capable of climbing the ladder further in today’s world.”

KISW morning host Bob Rivers discussed how show prep works for his “Twisted Radio” show. “I’ve heard it said by others and it’s true for me, too. My whole life is show prep. Whether my dog is having puppies, I’m building a chicken
coop, or talking to my sons about rude song lyrics – it can all end up as observations in the next day’s show.”

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