Tag Archives: Jimi Hendrix

Monterey Pop – “The greatest pre-Woodstock rock music festival”

Jimi Hendrix sets fire to his guitar, The Who leaves no equipment undestroyed – Yeah man! Those were the days.

Think about history’s first legendary rock festival and you’ll probably see a picture of Woodstock 1969 in front of your mind’s eye. But, there’s a precursor. While it was similar in its outlandish atmosphere, it’s not the least bit as well-known as Woodstock.

Monterey International Pop Festival took place in 1967 and it’s an archetype of music festivals. To compare: the first festivals in Europe, like Pinkpop (Netherlands) or Ruisrock (Finland), popped up in 1970. The Danish Roskilde followed just one year later.

Monterey International Pop Festival was a stepping stone for Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Janis Joplin, Otis Redding, and many others who we now consider legends. It’s about time we take a look at one of the apogees of the summer of love.  

The art of rock ‘n’ roll

It all started with an idea of John Phillips, singer with the Mamas & the Papas, and his record label executive Lou Adler. They figured that rock ‘n’ roll should be given the status of art –  just like jazz. They also thought rock ‘n’ roll deserved a bigger stage. Together with a board of recommendation – that seated the all-star cast of Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Brian Wilson and Paul Simon – they worked out a lineup within a few weeks.

Simon & Garfunkel, Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Canned Heat, The Steve Miller Band, The Byrds, Otis Redding, The Who, Scott McKenzie, Jimi Hendrix, Big Brother and the Holding Company with Janis Joplin, and so many more artists, agreed to play for nothing. Lou Adler says: “ We were just there at the right time.”

The Who and Jimi Hendrix

The story goes that Jimi Hendrix and The Who decided who would play first with a coin toss. Jimi lost and The Who stole the show by completely wrecking their instruments on stage. This instigated Jimi’s competitive side and he wanted to blow the crowd’s mind even more. People say he’d set fire to his guitar once before in London, but at Monterey International Pop Festival it was recorded on film for the first time.

 

Monterey vs. Woodstock

Jefferson Airplane’s front woman, Grace Slick, knew the location for Monterey International Pop Festival from the jazz festivals that were held there. She looks back with a free spirit’s nostalgia: “The entire area in back of the stage was people wandering around. There were drinks and marijuana and blow and whatever else everyone was interested in. Everything worked.”

Monterey proved to be a totally different experience than Woodstock, two years later. Jefferson Airplane were scheduled to play at nine o’clock in the evening, but due to programming delays they ended up playing at seven in the morning.

International breakthrough

Acts known in the vicinity of San Francisco, like Jefferson Airplane, Simon & Garfunkel, and The Grateful Dead now amassed fame from an even larger audience. The Beach Boys couldn’t make it, which meant Otis Redding joined the ranks at prime time Saturday evening, which afforded him a whole new fan base.

Monterey forbidden

A second edition of the Monterey International Pop Festival, planned for 1968, was forestalled by authorities and local residents. They weren’t waiting for a bunch of hippies to spread a message of hedonism, free love, mood stimulators, and rock ‘n’ roll in their backyard. So, as it goes, they forbid it. Fifty years later, in June 2017, there was a follow up to the first edition.

Monterey Pop the movie    

Director D.A. Pennebaker – also known for “Dont Look Back,” a documentary about Bob Dylan and the live recording “Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” – eternalized the legendary performances of the festival in his 1968 film “Monterey Pop.” Thanks to these images we can catch a glimpse of how fetterless the festival business once started.

“Monterey Pop” is one of the nostalgic windows on ‘60s and ‘70s counterculture. As time goes by the photogenic celluloid images of this prototypical music festival seem to become ever more special.

If you live in the Netherlands you can see the concert film at the open air film festival Zienemaan & Sterren: September 8, 2018.

How to choose an electric guitar for beginners

Choosing a new guitar is a beginner’s first important step. After all, you’re at the advent of an infinite adventure. So, choose wisely, efficiently and make sure you ‘inform yourself before you wreck yourself.’ Just like in part one and two of this series we’ll focus on choosing your first guitar. In this case an electric six string.

An instrument is like a tool, so it’s important that you know what you want to use it for. It’s counterproductive, at the least, to use a sledge hammer to straighten out thin nails in a spongy wooden board. Just as demolishing a brick wall with a screwdriver is quite a challenge. As we’ll see learning to play guitar adheres to comparable rules. So, think carefully about what you want to learn and choose the instrument that best suits your needs.

Why an electric guitar?

Why choose an electric guitar at all? You can also tinker with and sing along to an acoustic specimen. Right? No. Well, to follow the ‘what suits your needs’ dictum; if you want this, then an acoustic instrument is for you. But that’s a story for another article.

So, what’s your incentive? Maybe you aspire to be the next Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton or Dimebag Darrell. Then this post is for you. We briefly explain how an electric guitar works, we’ll get you acquainted with the basic models and which brands are preferred by which genre. See this article as a convenient starting point for your search.

Difference between acoustic and electric guitars

There’s an obvious, yet essential difference between an acoustic six string and an electric six string. The first amplifies the strings’ vibrations through the hollow body of the guitar, that functions as a sound box. The latter’s functioning is a little more complicated.

An electric guitar has magnets attached to the body that pick up mechanical vibrations, which is why these parts are called pickups. They transmit the vibrations as an electrical signal through the guitar’s jack output, and via a cable into your amplifier. This whole process depends on electric power and signals. That’s why it’s called an electric guitar, and of course the sound is electrifying.

Sound

The sound of the electric guitar does not solely rely on power. Below we will discuss the other important factors that make up the sound. This will give you a good idea of what an electric guitar does and what you need to pay attention to when you choose one.

We’ll discuss the impact of the type of wood that is used to produce the body and neck. This is not as decisive as with an acoustic instrument, but it still plays an important role. Another factor to be aware of are the guitar’s pickups, which can alter the sound in different ways. And last but not least, of course, there are the different brands and models that match the sound of particular genres.

Body

Let’s start with the body. Different electric guitar models have different types of sound boxes. These are almost always made of wood. The type of wood is important when it comes to the weight of the instrument and the tone and color of the sound. For example, mahogany has a full and thick sound, but it’s fairly heavy in terms of weight. Essen wood is light and the sound is clear and higher than other woods. This way every type of wood has its own characteristics, as you can see here.

In addition to the material, it’s also important to note that there are three types of body shapes. The solid-body means that the sound box consists of a solid piece of wood. In contrast, a semi hollow-body has a small hollow space between the front and the back of the sound box, similar but slightly smaller than that of an acoustic guitar. In the case of the hollow-body this space is even larger. Both often have a carved-out F-shaped figure in order to enhance the resonation of the sound.

Single coils

The body of the guitar houses most of its electronics, i.e. the pickups, switches and wires. These are essentially copper-wound magnets that absorb vibrations of the strings, making it possible to amplify the sound. There’s many different pickup brands. But in the end, you can divide them all into two groups: single coils and humbuckers.

The single coils produce a clear and thin sound. They are often used in funk, blues and grunge. If you’re looking for that Jimi Hendrix sound, keep in mind that he mainly played on guitars with single coils. Also remember that the advantage of a thinner sound is that you can always make it thicker with effect pedals. The other way around is much more cumbersome.

Humbuckers

At first glance humbuckers look like two single coils that are glued together. That’s true to a certain extent, but because of the way they are wired, a humbucker is really one independent element and not two.

You can test the different sounds by using the switch, also on the body, to alternate between the different pickups. Depending on the guitar, you can switch both single coils on at the same time or one at a time. Compare the sound with that of a humbucker.

The humbucker sound is thicker and fuller than a single coils’. This makes it ideal for heavier genres like rock, hard rock and metal. From Slash to Dimebag Darrell, humbuckers all the way. Do you like John Mayer? Than you shouldn’t pick a guitar with humbuckers.

Stratocaster

John Mayer plays – just like Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix – on a Fender Stratocaster. This is one of the most iconic models. It’s probably the first model you think of when you try to picture an electric guitar.

The instrument is classically equipped with a solid-body and three single coils, although some deviant versions are equipped with humbuckers. It has twenty-one frets, two tone controls, one master volume and a pickup switch. Want a bluesy, funky sound? Then this is your guitar. It has a typical screeching sound that’s still recognizable when you thicken it with effects.

Les Paul

Just like the Stratocaster, Gibson’s Les Paul model is a classic. It’s a solid-body equipped with two humbuckers, two tone controls, two volume buttons and a three-way pickup switch. You can send the signal through the upper, lower or both humbuckers.

You could say that the Les Paul is exactly on the other side of the spectrum, opposite the Stratocaster. A Les Paul model has a heavy, full and deep sound and is also heavier in terms of physical weight. Not that fitting when you want to play crystal clear tunes, because they sound a bit woolly. But, it’s perfect for heavy riffs, full chords and thick solos. Slash, Zakk Wylde, Lenny Kravitz and Jimmy Page use this monster for good reasons.

Streamliner

To reproduce that ol’ growling rock ‘n roll sound of Chuck Berry, or the fine sound of Chet Atkins, you need a hollow-body. Gretsch’s Streamliner is one of the best-known guitars in this category. The humbuckers give a specific heavy sound, but the high tones are a bit slenderer.

This guitar model also lends itself to blues. It’s for good reasons that Bo Diddley usually played on a Gretsch Streamline. The ‘king of rock ‘n roll’, Mr. Presley, was also fond of it. So, if you love that nice vintage sound, check out the hollow-body models.

Artcore

Ibanez is known for its heavy solid-body guitars, which are often used in the metal genre. But the guitar manufacturer also made the semi-hollow Artcore in the seventies. Together with Gibson’s ES-335 this is one of the most famous semi hollow-body guitars.

These guitars are perfect for country, blues and fusion. You can use it in any direction you want. The sound is full of crisp and clear mid-tones. This allows you to combine the warm and full characteristic of the hollow body with the tight sounds of the solid-body. These guitars are often equipped with humbuckers.

Many others

To keep it simple we will not go into too much detail, lest we deliver you a headache. The models discussed in this article constitute the basic designs for the various other electric guitars that came after. Still, we can’t ignore a number of other varieties of the electric six string.

If you’re a real metal head it pays to immerse yourself in brands like B.C. Rich and Dean, besides Ibanez and Gibson of course. As a rocker you should also check the Jaguar and Telecaster models from Fender. Gibson’s SG series are also a must to try out in a music store, it’s the favorite guitar of both Angus Young and Tony Iommi.

Choices, choices, choices

We understand, you read all this and think, “What is it all about? I just want to play on a good and not too expensive guitar. Just give me some concrete brands! It would be really nice to be able to do that, but as you might suspect it will not happen.

You have to work out for yourself what guitar fits your needs. For a cheaper alternative you can also look at what brands offer good copies of the more expensive ones that were mentioned above. Don’t buy a far too expensive Fender right away and never play on it!

Walk into a music store and start trying one guitar after another with this basic knowledge. Take your time with it, because the better your choice, the longer you’ll enjoy it. As with everything else in life, the following applies: ‘proper preparation prevents poor performance’. Happy jamming!

Covert covers – part one

Have you ever been in a discussion with people who claim that Joe Cocker wrote the song With a Little Help From My Friends? Or even better: have you ever seen the expression on the face of a Marilyn Manson fan when he finds out that Tainted Love is a cover? There are actually a lot of great hits that weren’t written by the artist that you think wrote them. That’s why we uncover a few of them.

With a Little Help From My Friends

Now that we’re talking about the king of covers – Joe Cocker had his big breakthrough with The Beatles’ song With a Little Help From My Friends. The track was released in 1964 and was the singer’s second single. His debut song was I’ll Cry Instead which wasn’t a great success, but also a Beatles cover.

If I Were a Boy

Not only hippies from the sixties do covers. Nowadays it can even be found in genres like  hip-hop and R&B. For example, the song that was originally written by BC Jean has become a Beyoncé number one hit. The story goes that BC Jean offered her version of If I Were a Boy to different labels. Nobody wanted it. A year later, Beyoncé’s song was released, which was a literal cover of the song written by BC Jean.

All Along the Watchtower

Depending on which generation you’re addressing, people will have their own view on All Along the Watchtower. Where one labels John Mayer as the author of the song, someone else will overturn this fact with the knowledge that Mayer has clearly covered the track from Jimi Hendrix’s 1968 album Electric Ladyland. What most people won’t tell you is that Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan wrote and recorded the track one year earlier in 1967.

Valerie

Amy Winehouse is a legend. At the age of 27, the young pop star died as a result of what can be described as a demanding lifestyle. With songs like Valerie Winehouse scored high in the 2006 pop charts. Still, against all expectations, the track is a cover. Indie-rock band The Zutons from Liverpool released the original song in the same year.

Hound Dog

It is a well known fact that Elvis Presley directly copied many of his songs from the R&B charts. This was very common in the fifties and sixties. Different groups listened to very defined musical styles. The song Hound Dog from 1969 is actually a cover of a Big Mama Thornton track from 1953.

Tainted Love

Anyone who claims that Tainted Love is a track by Marilyn Manson is right. The shock rocker released the song on his record The Golden Age of Grotesque in 2003. It is also a cover of… no, not Soft Cell. She conjured up the song in 1981, but this was also a cover. The original track is by Gloria Jones. Jones released the song in 1964.

Torn

Do you remember that video clip from the nineties by the Australian pop star Natalie Imbruglia? Natalie is standing in the center of a film set where the video is being recorded. Each time she has to adapt to the situation. Sometimes because the director wants her to, other times because something goes wrong. Torn marked Imbruglia’s breakthrough, however, it is a cover of the American grunge band Ednaswap.

Hurt

Country singer Johnny Cash scored his last big hit with Hurt in 2002 just before his death. The song goes through bone and marrow, because you hear Cash sing his life story. A life of pain, sorrow and love. It is therefore difficult to acknowledge that the track was written eight years earlier in 1994 by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails for the record The Downward Spiral. Yes we know, it hurts.

Jam along!

Did you get inspired by the fact that the songs mentioned above are actually covers? Time to jam along and create your own version. Now you can even enlighten your audience with the truth behind All Along the Watchtower, With a Little Help From My Friends and Hurt, Take a moment in between songs to feed your listeners some paradigm breaking trivia.

Pay particular attention to how people react when they find out that Torn, Tainted Love, Valerie, Hound Dog and If I Were a Boy were not written by the artists they had in mind. Happy jamming!