EXPERIENCE ROCK HISTORY AND 1960’S CULTURE!
Shrine Auditorium, L.A. (Capacity: 6,442)
Another legend, John Mayall!
He was well respected by my group and any other self-respecting blues fan as the Legendary Leader of the original first wave of English Bluesman.
Ironically, the first cut on Mayall’s new instant classic “the Turning Point” Lp was, “The Laws Must Change” – and was he ever right!
At eighteen and a half I had graduated mid-term from high school, did a half-semester of Jr. College and by the time I was 19 I quit ‘cuz I got a job in a Government-sponsored art department. I moved out and into a kick-ass beach pad I shared with two good buddies.
I’ve stated this before but it’s always good to hear again: During this time period along with a bitchen pad and a bitchen job, I had a cool ’51 Buick (a big green toad, ready to leap with a backseat that was like a rumpus room), a motorcycle (a Honda 350, but I worked my way up to a classic ’69 Harley-Davidson Sportster a few years later), two girlfriends and all the drugs, weed, pharmaceuticals and psychotropics I wanted – and – I was experiencing Rock Legends live in concert!.
My life was so far out that I hardly remember working! Every night was a tribal gathering of the free-spirited souls of our group and their friends – it was blissful. Every day was magical, because magical things happened! I was passing through an alternate universe of seemingly endless possibilities and bliss.
But, observing the yin and yang of life, at the same time I and my extended Tribe across America had to deal with the very real threat of the Draft. This was a scary time as it had to do with life and death reasons – exactly what are we fighting and dying for – it certainly wasn’t about “freedom”.
The Vietnam war has since been diagnosed and found to be a horrible mistake as General Westmoreland (WasteMoreLand; to us) came out in a book long after the war had ended and said that, and I paraphrase, “the Vietnam war was wrong and we should never have engaged.”
We all knew our stance on this historically wrong “war” and yet were forced to be part of the Lottery of Death or go to prison.
It was Monday, July 1, 1970 and I remember listening to the radio at work and everyone in the art department was silent as everyone knew or was related to someone facing the draft. I was one of them; prime meat; cannon fodder.
The first lottery was held on December 1, 1969, this was the second lottery held and strictly for men (boys) born in 1951 – the year I was born. They held lotteries on up until 1973 when the draft ended.
Everyone knew the status of the numbers and anything under 150 was of major concern, below 130 and you were inducted.
As the announcer called off the birthdates and “lottery numbers” I sat on the opposite end of bliss as this was the reality of life in the late ‘60s.
If the establishment built a secure system, then we had to find a way over-under-sideways-down and around it and stay one or two steps ahead; our lives literally depended on it.
Although I pulled a 213 which supposedly put me in the clear temporarily, others were not so lucky and had to do fairly drastic maneuvers to avoid the draft and prison.
Temporarily came up quickly; I was summoned via mail to appear for a physical prior to induction. I freaked!
I knew this was totally wrong as we were not supposed to even be called for anything until we graduated high school and/or turned 19 – I had a couple months to go for both. So I went to a free draft counselor above the Papa Bach Bookstore on Santa Monica Blvd. We had such a communal bond for our brothers and sisters back then that there was an informed outlet for all of our needs to avoid and conquer the obstacles that were being placed on us without justification and on many levels, not just the draft.
As the Government’s and the Establishment’s lies mounted up, it was impossible and unwise to trust anything coming from them.
The counselor told me to write them that I will not show up for the physical as I have a pre-existing (high school football) knee injury – they eventually acknowledged and sent me to a military doctor. But then the counselor went on to also tell me to send them a change of address every three months, as it takes them three months to update their records and at that time another change of address needs to be, er, um, addressed – this creates a never-ending loop wherein they literally can’t reach you.
It worked – several years later a letter came for me at my parent’s house (address of origin) with a classification of I-H – “Registrant not currently subject to processing for induction.” I had won – I was officially not part of their war.
Back at the pad, we were hangin’ out when one of our group brought over a couple John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers LPs to listen to. I was familiar with the British Blues that emerged behind the success of the British Pop Invasion of the mid-‘60s so we eagerly spun the discs.
All I know is that I when I heard “Broken Wings” off the 1967 “Blues Alone” LP I was gone, I mean gone. It’s a beautiful, soulful, happy and painfully sad masterpiece – and performed entirely by Mayall – all instruments, vocals and the soulful organ – sublime.
Please listen to the link below. There are a few songs that touch me right to my core and this is one of them and I’d love to share this with you as he did with me and as I have done with so many LPs with so many people over so many years. It’s a Turn On.
After that I got deeper into the British Blues and found that other than electric they were pretty much purists of the Rhythm and Blues of the American South of the classic Bluesman days. It wasn’t until the Yardbirds and then Led Zep for sure, that the Blues jettisoned from the purists’.
Mayall’s genius extended from heartfelt vocals to a multi-instrumentalist and composer to his uncanny ear for recognizing amazing talent early on, evidenced by recruiting them into his group, the Bluesbreakers.
Here are just some of the talent that passed through John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers; Mick Taylor (Stones), Peter Green (original Fleetwood Mac) , Mick Fleetwood (original Fleetwood Mac), Harvey Mandel (solo, Canned Heat, sessions, Chicago Blues), Eric Clapton (Yardbirds, Cream, Blind Faith), Aynsley Dunbar (Retaliation, original Journey, Mothers), John McVie (original Fleetwood Mac), Jimmy McCulloch (Thunderclap Newman, Wings), Keef Hartley (KH Band), Larry Taylor (Canned Heat), Andy Fraser (Free) and Jack Bruce (Cream, West, Bruce and Laing, BLT; Bruce, Lorden, Trower) plus many others.
We loved “The Turning Point” LP and “Room to Move” was another instant classic, and it was played a lot at the pad, so it was a hoot and a pleasure to see him perform it live with the hip scat-percussion he somehow performed vocally while still playing the harp!
Mayall eventually relocated to Los Angeles from London around this time and Laurel Canyon specifically from ’69 to ‘79. He played the Shrine a lot and I don’t remember the date of this concert but it was definitely in the last half of ’69.
Lineup: John Mayall (vocals, harmonica, guitar, tambourine, mouth percussion) Johnny Almond (alto & tenor sax, flute, mouth percussion), Jon Mark (guitar), Steve Thompson (bass).
Setlist: Mainly songs from The Turning Point LP.