Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland–The Final Word On First Pressings and The Blue Text Hype

Last year I posted Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland—Exposing the ‘Blue Type’ Hype, about people’s mistaken notion that the UK version of Hendrix’s masterpiece with the blue type was the true first pressing.  If you’re one of the 98% of collectors who couldn’t care less about this, I invite you to move on to something more interesting.

If you care about this arcane issue read on, because the answer has emerged.  To recap, there are two major variations of the UK Electric Ladyland album cover.  Most copies have white type and small photos of Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell inside the gatefold, but some have blue type and larger photos of Mitch and Noel.  On the “blue” copies, the type is a mottled blue, which looks like a printing problem of some sort.

Since the advent of Ebay, some have maintained that the blue text copies are the true first pressings. In my previous post, I disputed this for a variety of reasons.  The vast majority of copies have the white type.  Hendrix was a superstar when Electric Ladyland was released, and it was a immediate best seller.  If the blue copies were the first, there would be far more blue than white ones.  As I wrote last year, I own Hendrix’s personal copy of Electric Ladyland–surely he would have had an original–and his is the white type version.  And well known English illustrator Edwin Pouncey (aka Savage Pencil) still has the copy he had special ordered prior to the album’s release—and it too has white type.

         

In late October, I had the good fortune to visit David King, the art director who designed the UK Electric Ladyland cover, as well as the covers for the single disc versions, Electric Ladyland Part 1 and Part 2.  David is a hero of mine, and also designed the covers for Axis:Bold As Love, The Who Sell Out and The Crazy World of Arthur Brown–in my opinion some of the greatest album covers ever created (I look forward to writing more about my visit with David at his London home.)

Obviously David was the man who could solve the blue/white mystery for once and for all.  He told me that in the 60’s recording artists were rarely involved with their album covers.  They were usually on the road or in the studio, and he typically had only a few days to come up with an idea and create the artwork.  In the case of Electric Ladyland, the Hendrix Experience had been touring the US for three months prior to the album’s October 25, 1968 UK release, and didn’t return until after the album was out.

King, the Arts Editor at the Sunday Times Magazine was a friend of  Track Records co-owner Chris Stamp (also co-manager of The Who.) Stamp liked King’s aesthetic and hired him to design various album covers for Track.  For Electric Ladyland, King recalls having only three days from concept to turning in the finished art.  Stamp was enthusiastic about King’s idea to picture nude girls on the cover, and happily anticipated the controversy it would undoubtedly cause.  King told me Hendrix had no involvement with the cover, and even disavowed it after its release, saying “I don’t know anything about it.  I didn’t know it was going to be used.”
King hired photographer David Montgomery to shoot the nineteen nude models, and on the inside used an existing photograph of Hendrix (he’d previously hired Montgomery to shoot the photo for a Sunday Times Magazine article that never ran.)  King added the small photographs of Mitch and Noel as an afterthought.  His original design had the white type and smaller photographs of Redding and Mitchell; in fact King showed me his white type printed samples, stored in his flat files since 1968.

So why was there a blue type/larger photos version ?  It turns out the problem was the size of the photos.  King told me that when Redding and Mitchell saw the finished cover, they were very upset that their photos were so much smaller than Hendrix’s.  Consequently, Chris Stamp had the printer to enlarge their photos for the next run.  The printer mistakenly used blue type instead of white—perhaps because the text on the Part 2 album cover was the same shade of blue—but in the process of “fixing it” created the blotchy blue type on the blue versions.  King was not involved in the “fix” and would never have approved it the way it was printed; he told me “until you mentioned it a few weeks ago, I’d completely forgotten about the blue type, that it ever existed even for a moment.”

Chris Stamp died last year, so there is no way to definitively know what happened next, but we assume that since the printing job turned out badly, and the Experience broke up in mid 1969, Stamp made the decision to go back to the original version—which at least was printed properly.  The white type version on Track was still in print in the early 1970′s, and was the version later reissued on Polydor.  Last month, an ‘interm version’ was sold on Ebay, with white type but bits of blue, particularly in the slashes between songs.

So for those who share my obsession with things like this, we now know the pressings were-

  1. White type/smaller photos
  2. Blue type/larger photos
  3. White type/smaller photos (with a bit of blue)
  4. White type/smaller photos (Same as #1)
  5. Polydor reissue; White type/smaller photos.

And there you have it—case closed !

-Jeff Gold

 

 

Lou Reed & Exactly How Many Albums The Velvet Underground Sold

I was in London two weeks ago when my daughter texted the sad news that Lou Reed had died.  She was very upset, which was surprising as I never knew she was a fan.  But the real surprise was how the rest of the world reacted.

As a huge Velvet Underground fan, I know how important Lou’s contribution to music was.  He changed music forever.  But it was absolutely stunning to see the amount of press generated–not just music press, but mainstream press–by the death of someone most people thought of as a cult figure.  As a friend who had worked closely with Lou emailed, “you’d think he was John Lennon.”

I worked with Lou in the 90′s when he recorded for Sire/Reprise, and found him to be as portrayed in most of what I’ve read– hyper intelligent, complex, charming and sometimes difficult.  When the Velvet Underground reformed in 1993 a few co-workers and I headed to Edinburgh for the first show.  We went backstage before the show and for me it was a surreal experience.  While I was a music business executive,  first and foremost I was a Velvets fan.  I couldn’t believe I was backstage with Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison and Moe Tucker, about to see them play.  I’d listened to those records hundreds of times, but never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d get to see them live.  Or meet them.  Or work with them.  I had them all sign my pass.

And when Lou got together with the absolutely wonderful Laurie Anderson, another Warner Bros. artist and soon the love of Lou’s life, I was fortunate  to spend a bit of time with them together.

While I don’t have much to say about Lou that hasn’t been said, I can add to the discussion of the Velvets.  As John Jurgensen wrote in the Wall Street Journal,  “Almost every obituary for Lou Reed has cited a variation of the same quote by composer and producer Brian Eno, who said that the Velvet Underground’s 1967 debut album didn’t sell many copies, but everyone who bought one started a band.”

In his article, Jurgensen identified the journalist Eno made the remark to, Kristine McKenna (an old friend, I had no idea !) and quoted Velvets lawyer Christopher Whent as saying the exact number of albums the Velvet Underground’s debut album sold is lost to time.  Whent told him “My best guess as to pre-1984 domestic sales…is that the album sold perhaps 50,000 units.  More is unlikely, and I would be surprised if it were as little as 10,000, but I cannot be accurate.”

Jurgensen contacted me, having heard that I might know the exact number, and in fact I do.  Many years ago I purchased some documents that had been sent to Nico, including her royalty statement for that album, The Velvet Underground and Nico.  In just under two years, it sold…drum roll… 58,476 copies in the U.S.

According to Wikipedia, the album was released March 12, 1967.  The royalty statement is for sales through February 14, 1969.  It lists sales of mono copies (V 5008) as 13,336 and stereo sales (V6 5008) as 45,140 (77% of copies sold were stereo.)  Note that the Velvets received 29 cents for each mono and 36 cents for each stereo copy (plus songwriter’s income which would have been paid separately by the publisher.)  In addition it notes royalty income paid by MGM’s affiliates in Germany, England, Canada and income for sales on tape (reel-to-reel, 8-Track) by the Ampex Corp.  With complicated royalty rates and deductions, it’s impossible to know how many copies were sold in these countries and on tape.

Below is the royalty statement–the definitive solution to this long debated mystery. I hope Velvets Fans enjoy seeing this true piece of history.

And goodbye Lou.  I’m sure you would have enjoyed all the tributes, and knowing how important your music was to so very many people.  Myself very much included.

smaller WM Velvet Underground Royalty StatementJeff Gold

November 10, 2013

 

 

And While We’re On The Subject of Record Collectors…

If you’re a record collector and don’t know Dust and Grooves, you should.  Eilon Paz’s site documents record collectors from around the world, telling their stories via interviews and his fantastic photographs.  I’m a huge fan of Dust & Grooves, and was honored to be featured this month.

And here are a few more links I’ve been remiss in posting– my friend Zach Cowie’s megamix of songs from my recent book 101 Essential Rock Records.

And the History Detectives episode where my friend Andy Babiuk authenticates the guitar Bob Dylan played at Newport when he went electric, and I authenticate Dylan song manuscripts found in the guitar’s case.  OK, enough self-promotion.

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Craig Kallman – Record and Memorabilia Collector Extraordinaire

If you’re a record or memorabilia collector, don’t miss last month’s Wall Street Journal article on Atlantic Records chairman Craig Kallman.  Craig, who I first met in the 90′s when I was an executive at Warner Bros. Records, has 750,000 records.  That’s right, three quarters of a million albums.  That’s got to be the largest record collection in the world.  If your significant other thinks your collection is out of control,  send them a copy of this article for a reality check.

 

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And while quantity doesn’t often equate with quality, Craig’s collection is amazing.  For many years, he only wanted sealed original pressings, or absolutely perfect examples of the records he sought.  In the past few years, he’s relaxed his standards a tiny bit to simply mint, “to create a working library for his artists, songwriters and producers.”  He’s also got exacting standards for his incredible memorabilia collection.

And none of this would impress me if Craig didn’t love music as much as anyone I’ve met.  This is a man who lives and breathes music.  Whenever he comes to Los Angeles, he calls to see if I have anything new.  If he visits, we’re talking music when he’s not on the phone talking to an artist or executive.  He’ll leave late on a Saturday night, heading off to visit an artist or two in the studio, then waking up early for a Sunday morning breakfast with another artist.  I worked at major labels for twenty years and rarely if ever did I meet anyone as obsessed with music as Craig.

He’s converted the Manhattan apartment next to his into the ultimate listening room/recording studio/office/record haven (see it in the Journal article’s accompanying slide show.)  Craig’s got 40,000 records there — about 2% of his collection.  He often takes meetings with musicians there, as well as recording tracks with Atlantic artists in the studio.  When I visited earlier this year, he was talking private press Hip Hop records with a mutual friend.  During a lull in the conversation, I asked him to play us something, and he put on the first Hot Tuna album.  Now that’s eclectic.

If I was a young recording artist, this is the guy I’d sign with !

Jeff Gold

 

 

Fake Acetates Everywhere !

Every morning I check CollectorsFrenzy.  That’s the site where you can see the 25 most expensive records that sold on Ebay the previous day.

There’s a LOT of discussion these days about the records on Collector’s Frenzy.  That’s because in my opinion* there’s been a rash of fake acetates selling for big money.  Hundreds and thousands of dollars paid for fake Led Zeppelin, Doors, Beatles, David Bowie, Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan acetates.  Every time one sells, I cringe for the person who bought it.  People paying hard earned money for a worthless fake, and probably none-the-wiser until they try to sell it, years later.

Just this week I received an email from someone wanting to sell five Beatles acetates they had bought on Ebay. I told him unfortunately they were fakes, and never heard back.  I forwarded the email to a fellow dealer, who it turns out had told him the same thing the week before. The acetate owner told him he was going to try to consign them to an auction house.  Oh boy.

As a collector and dealer of high end music memorabilia, I get lots of inquiries for people selling music collectibles.  Most of it is authentic, but I do get the occasional fake autograph, second printing poster sold as a first, or fake acetate.  But it’s crazy time for acetates now.  With scanners, color printers, photoshop and access to acetate cutters, a few bad apples have gone wild.

I won’t write about how I know that these are obvious fakes.  It would be akin to giving crooks an instruction book on making better forgeries. Suffice to say I’ve been collecting and dealing in rare records (and acetates) for 42 years.  I worked for A&M and Warner Bros. Records for nearly 20 years, and got many real acetates in the course of my job.   So I’ve got a very good idea of what a genuine acetate looks like.  And I’ve never seen anything that looks like these.

Most of the classic rock acetates offered on Ebay now, especially the ones advertised as being from–ahem, a country in the Southern Hemisphere–look, in my opinion, ridiculous.  I’ve also seen fake acetates sold by Italian dealers, and a large collection of fake Beatles acetates were sold by an American seller, which Richard Morton Jack has written about on his blog Galactic Ramble.

I love collecting records and music memorabilia.  It’s a great hobby, the people are interesting, and you get to enjoy owning things that often appreciate in value.  The dishonest people are few, happily.  But the times seemed right to once again post some tips that anyone buying rare records, memorabilia or acetates or any collectible might want to follow.

1)  If it sounds too good to be true, it almost always is.  Nobody has an endless supply of ultra rare collectibles.  Or acetates.  These things are rare, folks.  People like me literally travel the world and spend fortunes acquiring them.  And with the internet, people know the value of truly rare things.  You may find a bargain here and there, but an endless supply should be a huge red flag.

2) Buy from known and respected dealers who will give you a lifetime money-back guarantee of authenticity, in writing.  Period.  If they won’t do it, run the other direction.  A good dealer has the expertise and does the research for you.  It’s simple.  I guarantee everything forever.  So if I have any doubt about something, no matter how small, I don’t buy it.  My reputation is far more important to me than any deal I might make.  So I make sure that anything I offer is absolutely authentic and extensively researched–and any good dealer should. My friend  Gary Greenberg has written about this on his blog Gary Rocks.  Check it out.

3) A COA or letter of authenticity is worthless.  If someone is dishonest enough to sell you a forgery, they’ll happily include a COA certifying the fake is authentic.  The only thing that means anything is that written lifetime money-back guarantee (from someone who is well established and will take your call should there ever be a problem.)

4) Auction houses make mistakes too.  People assume that if something that comes from an auction house, it must be genuine.  And it is most of the time.  But auction houses are generalists, not specialists.  They sell what comes through the door.  Some may know rock memorabilia, but they aren’t Bob Dylan handwriting experts.  That’s why the better ones consult experts.  I regularly get calls from auction houses wanting to know if Dylan handwritten items are authentic.  Yet I still see fake Dylan items showing up in auction house catalogs.  It’s not that they’re dishonest–they just may not have the resources or inclination to do their own research.   The biggest auction houses only guarantee the authenticity of what they sell for five years.  Some smaller houses don’t guarantee authenticity at all.   Read the fine print.  Do your own research.  Ask questions.

*(I qualify this as my opinion as I don’t want to become involved in litigation that may erupt around this issue.  Obviously everything on this blog is my opinion, but in the case of the fake acetates,  this is also the opinion of every record expert  and dealer I’ve spoken to about this.)

Rave Review in Mojo Magazine: 101 Essential Rock Records

It’s been a crazy few months with the holiday season and the release of my book 100 Essential Rock Records: The Golden Age of Vinyl, From The Beatles to the Sex Pistols.   Below is a just-in review from my favorite music magazine, Mojo, which happily gave the book four stars (their highest rating) and made it the lead review.  Below that are some other great quotes, from Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and others.  The first printing sold out on publication date and happily the second printing has arrived, and it’s back in stock at Amazon and other fine booksellers.  Forgive the hype, but it was great to see people’s enthusiasm for vinyl records is alive and well.  Thanks to everyone who bought it.

 

My New Book : 101 Essential Rock Records: The Golden Age of Vinyl, From The Beatles to the Sex Pistols

It’s been a while since I posted, but I’ve got a good reason.  I’ve been consumed with finishing and now  launching my first book, the just released 101 Essential Rock Records: The Golden Age of Vinyl, From The Beatles to the Sex Pistols.  It’s a coffee table sized celebration of vinyl’s Golden Age, beginning with Please Please Me and ending with Never Mind The Bollocks–soon after which the Walkman was introduced, and cassettes took over as the dominant format.

It includes large photos of first pressing albums, some extremely rare, essays on vinyl records and favorite albums from Iggy Pop, Graham Nash, David Bowie, Peter Buck (R.E.M.), Robyn Hitchcock, Johnny Marr (The Smiths), Suzanne Vega, Devendra Banhart and producer Joe Boyd.  There’s also a history of the LP from Elektra Records founder Jac Holzman, a pictorial exploration of Jimi Hendrix’s personal record collection, and a history of censored album covers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rolling Stone called it “Record-nerd eye candy, and an insight-filled look at how great art begets great art,” while Spin profiled it as “A loving tribute to the long lasting cultural importance of the Vinyl LP.”  In the next few weeks, I’ll post some selections from the book–staring off with a few  Bob Dylan entries.  More information and spreads from the book can be seen at 101EssentialRecords.com.

Bob Dylan/History Detectives Guitar – It’s Authentic !

On Sunday I wrote a post about helping Public Television’s History Detectives investigate a Fender Stratocaster guitar allegedly played by Bob Dylan at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, when he famously “went electric.”  The people at History Detectives had asked me not to reveal the results of the investigation before the show airs, next Tuesday, July 17.  But yesterday Rolling Stone, The New York Times, and the Associated Press revealed the results–so here goes…

Late last year, I was contacted by a History Detectives producer who told me a viewer had approached them about a guitar that had purportedly belonged to Bob Dylan–and was possibly the Newport guitar.  The woman’s late father had been a private pilot who had flown Dylan to concerts in the mid-60′s, and she told the producers that the guitar had been left in her father’s plane after a trip.  She claimed he’d tried to return it, but never got a call back from Dylan’s office.  She also had her father’s phone book with Dylan’s phone number in Woodstock, and few snapshots he’d taken of Dylan at an airport.

The guitar case was stenciled “Property of Ashes & Sand”–Dylan and his manager Albert Grossman’s touring company during the era (and a little known name)– and there were some typed and handwritten lyrics and manuscripts in the case. Howard Kramer, curatorial director at the Rock and roll Hall of Fame had recommended me as someone who could tell them whether these were actually by Dylan.  Andy Babiuk, the guitar expert for the Hall of Fame and author of  Beatles Gear (the definitive guide to the Beatles equipment,) had agreed to evaluate the guitar, and so I agreed to take a look.

The History Detectives producer emailed me high resolution scans of thirteen pages of manuscripts, and very soon after opening them, I felt confident these were the real deal.  Over the years, I’ve examined a lot of Dylan handwriting and manuscripts, some real, a lot of it forgeries.  And some of the forgeries were quite good, with a very compelling back story.  So you really have to do your homework with this kind of thing. But these just looked good.  And had a lot of similarity to a collection I’d seen a few years ago.   So I set to work.

After a few hours of examining the pages carefully, I was convinced these were indeed authentic.  Dylan’s typing and handwriting are very idiosyncratic, and I saw many things I’d seen before.  His handwriting is ever changing–just like his music.  Years ago, I hired a former Treasury Department forensic document examiner to evaluate some Dylan documents for a lawsuit I filed.  He told me he’d never seen anyone who’s handwriting changed so dramatically over time; and instilled in me the need to compare “questioned” documents to “known” writings from the same time period–and that this was essential in Dylan’s case.  Fortunately, I had some authentic “exemplars” from the Newport era.

It was immediately clear these weren’t lyrics for well known songs.  There were phrases I recognized, though, so I  typed each line into Google, one at a time.  I found there were three fairly complete lyrics, all for unreleased songs recorded in the Blonde on Blonde era–”Jet Pilot,” “I Wanna Be Your Lover,” and “Medicine Sunday” (an early version of “Temporary Like Achilles.”)  But the eureka moment came when I notice the line “watching the six white horses pass.”  Dylan sings the lyric “Well, six white horses, that you did promise” in his classic song “Absolutely Sweet Marie,” from Blonde on Blonde.  I’m fortunate to own his manuscript for that song.  So here was an opportunity to do a direct comparison.

 

In the “Absolutely Sweet Marie” manuscript, Dylan writes “Six flying horses” and above the word “flying,” writes “white” and “the,”refining his lyric.  Though the words weren’t in exactly the same order, the two examples of “Six white horses”–both written during the Blonde on Blonde era were a Rosetta Stone moment.   I photoshopped the phrase from my manuscript to put the words in the same order and it was a perfect match.  The producer had asked if I could come up with a way of illustrating to viewers why I felt these lyrics and manuscripts were written by Dylan, and this was surely it.

I filmed my segment in New York City at the end of last year, and it in early January it was Andy Babiuk’s turn.  To determine if this guitar was the guitar played by Dylan at Newport, Andy needed a very clear photograph of Dylan onstage with the guitar.  And that was a problem.  We’d seen many photos and the film of Dylan at this legendary show, but everything was in black & white and shot from a distance–you really couldn’t see much detail.  Here, History Detectives really shined.  Pulling off a near miracle, producer Tom McNamara discovered some previously unknown color photographs of Dylan at Newport, on the Flickr site of a fan who attended the festival, John Rudoff.  Rudoff, a teenager at the time, had been up right up against the stage that night, and his photographs were extremely clear and detailed.  Tom contacted Rudoff and obtained large blow ups of the photographs, and brought them to Andy’s shop in Rochester, NY, along with the guitar.

Andy took the guitar apart, confirmed it was built in 1964 and was all original, and then carefully compared the wood grain on the guitar’s body and neck to Rudoff’s photographs.  Andy explained that wood grain is like a fingerprint–no two pieces of wood have identical grain.  And he found the grain on the guitar and the neck matched the guitar in the photographs perfectly.  This was indeed the Dylan Newport Stratocaster.

Last week when Andy and I saw the program for the first time, we learned the pilot’s daughter had written to Dylan’s management in 2005, asking that he release all claims to the guitar.  Dylan’s lawyers had written back declining and asking for it to be returned.  History Detectivesexplains all this in the program, even showing the correspondence, and notes that it’s unclear after all this time exactly who owns the guitar.  That takes us to…yesterday, when Dylan’s lawyer, Orin Snyder, issued the following statement:  “Bob has possession of the electric guitar he played at The Newport Folk Festival in 1965. He did own several other Stratocaster guitars that were stolen from him around that time, as were some handwritten lyrics.  In addition, Bob recalls driving to the Newport Folk Festival, along with two of his friends, not flying.” (This last part is irrelevant, as Dylan was pictured a month later at Forest Hills, NY playing an identical Stratocaster.)

It’s unclear if Dylan or his attorney have actually seen the History Detectives segment, but a number of writers have previewed the segment and wrote about it today (links below.)  The consensus seems to side with the History Detectives‘ assessment–that this is indeed the Newport guitar.  The New York Times reported “The evidence the guitar may have belonged to Mr. Dylan during that period is strong: the case is stenciled with the name of his touring company, Ashes and Sand Inc., and lyrics found inside the case appear to be in his handwriting.  But the crucial evidence is an appraiser’s assessment that the wood grain on the guitar’s body matches the wood grain visible in photographs of the guitar taken at the historic concert.”  “The producers of the show, however, say Mr. Dylan must be mistaken…They added that those working on the show would “welcome the opportunity to examine the guitar which is currently in Mr. Dylan’s possession.”

It’s ironic and yet somehow fitting that the controversy and intrigue surrounding Dylan’s “going electric” at Newport, 47 years ago, continues.  Don’t miss the show.  I think you’ll be convinced.

History Detectives, Season 10 Premiere.  Tuesday July 17.  9:00/8:00 central.    (According to one online article, History Detectives will be available for viewing the day after broadcast on the PBS Video site and PBS mobile apps for iPhone and iPad.)

And don’t forget to check out our music collectibles and other other blog posts

–Jeff Gold

The Rolling Stone and New York Times stories, and Dylan  manuscripts

 

Bob Dylan’s Newport Guitar and Lyrics Discovered ? Stay Tuned…

The July 17 episode of Public Television’s History Detectives will be of great interest to Bob Dylan fans–and anyone interested in 60′s music and rock memorabilia.  The show, the first in History Detectives’ 10th season, is devoted to solving three mysteries involving potentially historic music artifacts.

On History Detectives, a group of researchers from various backgrounds help people answer historical questions, usually involving a family heirloom or historic object.  The show devotes itself “to exploring the complexities of historical mysteries, searching out the facts, myths and conundrums that connect local folklore, family legends and interesting objects.”

A producer from History Detectives contacted me in late 2011, asking for help with one of their “cases.”  He explained that a viewer had contacted the show about a guitar they claimed had been used by Dylan, possibly at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival when he famously “went electric.” The owner was the daughter of a pilot who had allegedly flown Dylan and other clients of his manager, Albert Grossman, including The Band and Peter Paul and Mary.  Some handwritten lyrics had been found in the guitar case, and they asked if I would inspect them to determine their authenticity.  A friend, vintage guitar expert Andy Babiuk, had agreed to examine the guitar to see if it was indeed Dylan’s, and I agreed to do the same with the lyrics.

At the end of last year, I examined the lyric sheets and filmed my interview, and a few weeks later Andy examined the guitar and filmed his segment.  History Detectives also interviewed Rolling Stone associate editor Andy Greene and former Dylan road manager Jonathan Taplin for the episode.

History Detectives asked Andy and me not to discuss the results of our investigations for now–sorry–but after the show airs, I’ll post a detailed explanation of what I found.  In the meantime, I can assure all Dylan fans this is a program you won’t want to miss.  The episode also includes investigations into a painting possibly created by Frank Zappa, and autographs allegedly signed by The Beatles during their second Ed Sullivan appearance.  The research done by the History Detectives team is top notch, and there are many surprises along the way.

History Detectives, Season 10 Premiere.  Tuesday July 17.  9:00/8:00 central.    (According to one online article, History Detectives will be available for viewing the day after broadcast on the PBS Video site and PBS mobile apps for iPhone and iPad.)

See our music collectibles

See our other blog posts

–Jeff Gold

 

An Original “Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” With 4 Withdrawn Tracks Surfaces

The original “Freewheelin’.”  One of–if not the–rarest and most valuable records in the world.  A stereo copy sold for $35,000, and a mint mono copy would likely bring $15,000.  So it’s big news when a previously unknown copy surfaces.  And I’m happy to report one just did.

“The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” is Dylan’s second album, released in late May, 1963.  While his self-titled debut  featured only two original compositions, eleven of  the thirteen tracks on “Freewheelin” were written by Dylan.  For reasons still not completely clear, just prior to the album’s release four of the songs were replaced with four newly recorded tracks.  Some speculate that because CBS television’s censors wouldn’t let Dylan perform “Talkin’ John Birch Blues” on the Ed Sullivan Show,  the CBS-owned Columbia Records pulled it from the album.  Others note that the four “replacement” tracks were recorded after the album was completed, and were simply too good to be left off (they included Dylan classics Masters of War and Girl From The North Country.)

In any case, replacement masters featuring the new songs were made, the artwork was changed, and Columbia released the revised album.  Except–and this later turned out to be a very big deal–someone at one of the pressing plant didn’t get the message, and a small number of copies were pressed using the old stampers.  In the 49 years since the release of “Freewheelin’,” a very few copies have surfaced that play the four “withdrawn” tracks–only two stereo copies are known, and fewer than 20 mono copies.  No one has yet solved the mystery of why so few copies escaped Columbia’s pressing plants.

I searched for a copy for nearly 10 years, finally buying one in the early 80′s for $1000–a huge amount for a record at the time.   Last month I finally found a second copy–or it found me.  An Arizona woman, Lori, emailed to say she had an original “Freewheelin’” for sale, wondering if I’d be interested.  I replied that I was extremely interested, and a few hours later Lori and her husband Ray arrived with the album.

Lori told me that she’d been given a box of old albums by her uncle in 1980, and in 1994, while pricing them for a garage sale, she discovered this was no ordinary Bob Dylan album.  She was using a “Goldmine” price guide, and saw notations on the back of the album cover suggesting the songs on the album differed from those on the album cover.  She noticed that there was a very rare version of “Freewheelin’” and checked the matrix number and confirmed that, incredibly, this was indeed the ultra rare original.  In the years since her discovery, she’d made a few half-hearted attempts to sell it, but never followed through–she lived in a rural area, and  figured it would just keep increasing in value.  She packed it away in a box from a cake tin, and figured some day she’d cash in.  But now she was moving to a different state, and decided it was time.  She’d found Recordmecca online, was coming to LA for a family visit, and decided to bring the album along, and see if she could find a buyer.  Happily, I was her first stop, and we quickly made a deal.  And now, the newly discovered “Freewheelin’” is for sale on the Recordmecca site.

In the last 40 years, I’ve checked thousands of copies of “Freewheelin’”–but have never found an original.  If you want to check yours, here’s what to look for:

Original copies have matrix numbers ending in -1A on both side (see photo below,) and include these four songs: Rocks and Gravel/Let Me Die In My Footsteps/Gamblin’ Willie’s Dead Man’s Hand/Talkin’ John Birch Blues.  Stereo copies list the rare tracks on the labels; mono copies list the replacement tracks. In either case, the record must play these four songs, not just list them on the cover or labels.

Regular copies have matrix numbers ending in -2 or a higher number, and include these four songs: Girl From The North Country/Masters of War/Bob Dylan’s Dream/Talkin World War III Blues.  The labels list the correct tracks and the disc plays these four songs.

(Note: Original Canadian copies and some promo copies of “Freewheelin’” list the rare tracks on the cover or labels but play the regular tracks.  For more details, check the excellent Dylan discography site “Searching For a Gem” – scroll down 1/3 of the page.)  If you find one, let me know !

-Jeff Gold

 

Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland – Exposing The “Blue Type” Hype

Since the advent of eBay, sellers have been hyping UK versions of the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s Electric Ladyland with blue type and larger photos of Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell as “true first pressings.”  We have long disputed this claim, and now we have evidence to refute it.  For those obsessed with minutiae like this, read on.  For the rest of you, we’d suggest listening to this album—Hendrix’s masterpiece—instead.

When “Electric Ladyland” was released, Jimi Hendrix was an international superstar, and the album sold huge quantities from the outset– yet there are very few examples with blue type.  If these were first pressings, logic would dictate there would be far more blue type copies than ones with white type.

Furthermore, I’m lucky enough to own part of Jimi Hendrix’s personal record collection, including his own copy of Electric Ladyland (sold at auction by his girlfriend Kathy Etchingham.) It’s not much of a leap to assume that Jimi’s copy would be a first pressing, yet it has the white type.

The streaky blue type on the covers in question is actually a result of a printing error—it’s made up of two shades of blue, a whitish-blue and a solid blue. This is the result of what’s called a “stripping error.” Without getting too technical, printing a full color image uses a process called “four color process printing,” which creates a color image by combining tiny dots of four different color inks. When the dots don’t line up perfectly, you get an error such as the streaky printing here. An imperfect print job like this would never have been approved and would surely have been corrected immediately (as former creative director at two major labels, I have first hand experience with this.)

Electric Ladyland  was originally issued in the UK as a double album and on two individual discs, Part 1 and Part 2.  The back cover of Part 2 has similar larger photos of Mitch and Noel and a solid blue type—strongly suggesting the error originated with confusion between this and the double album’s gatefold.

Now comes the interesting part.  Last month’s Record Collector magazine featured an interview with Edwin Pouncey, the English music journalist and artist also known as Savage Pencil.  Pouncey, an occasional Recordmecca client, mentioned buying Electric Ladyland on the day of release—so we contacted him to find out what color the type was on his copy, indisputably a first pressing.

He replied “Regarding my copy of Electric Ladyland. As I wrote in the RC article, I had ordered my copy in advance and it was bought on the day of release. The writing inside this copy (that I still have) is white with the two small photos of Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding underneath the larger photo of Hendrix – which in my copy is positioned on the left hand side of the gatefold cover. Until a few years ago I didn’t know that the blue text version existed.

Here’s something else to muddy the water still further.  A local record dealer I know once told me that he too bought a white text version on the day of release. In the shop that he bought his copy there were several empty blue text/large photo sleeves in the window. When he asked why the covers were slightly different, the shop owner replied that they had been supplied by the record company for promotional purposes. He asked if he could have one when the display came down, and the shop owner happily agreed. Unfortunately, through the passage of time, he has since lost this “promotional” sleeve, but it is an interesting story.

I also couldn’t help noticing that the UK single LP edition of EL2 is a version of the blue text inner gatefold.  The tale about the record shop does suggest that the blue cover/larger band member photos version was a printing error and that Track were giving them out as publicity items to get rid of them.”

Pouncey’s account leaves little doubt that the white type version was the original first pressing—sold on the day of release—and highly suggests, as we have long maintained, that the blue type is nothing more than an unintentional printing error.

There are many examples of insignificant printing variations or errors being hyped on eBay as true first pressings to boost the price—such as the ridiculous Sgt. Peppers “Fourth Proof” cover.  We’re happy to debunk one here.  If you want a true first pressing of Electric Ladyland, get one with white type.  And enjoy one of the greatest albums ever made.

-Jeff Gold

And by the way, have you noticed that “Electric Ladyland” has the word “Dylan” in it ?  Jimi certainly idolized him.

 

New Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Library and Archives

On April 9, I was thrilled to attend the opening of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s new Library and Archives in Cleveland.  Many years in the making, the Rock Hall has opened a truly world class (I know it sounds crazy) study center dedicated to Rock and Roll.  The opening featured a panel discussion with academics (and the great Lenny Kaye), as well as a gala party.  But the highlight for me was touring this state-of-the-art facility.

The 22,500 square foot library and archives shares a brand new building with the Cuyahoga Community College’s Center for Creative Arts in downtown Cleveland, two miles from the main Hall of Fame building.  The archive hosts a vast collection of books, periodicals, audio and video recordings, and important archival collections (including the personal papers) of some of popular music’s most important figures, including pioneering DJ Alan Freed, Atlantic Records founders Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler, Sire Records founder Seymour Stein, Commodore Records’ Milt Gabler, Warner Bros. Records longtime chairman Mo Ostin  and former Warners and Capitol head Joe Smith.

         

In 1992, I donated my Jimi Hendrix collection, at that time perhaps the largest in the world, to the Hall of Fame.  My younger daughter was about to be born, and the collection filled much of what was to become her room–so I sent 26 boxes of Jimi records and memorabilia to Cleveland (it was their first donation.)  The Hall of Fame building wouldn’t open for another 3 years, but I’d attended the induction dinners since 1986 and knew it was going to happen.  Since then, I’ve donated thousands of items to the Rock Hall, and have worked with them to help further their mission to document, preserve and exhibit the history of popular music.

       

It was wonderful to see the library and archives open for business–and an emotional experience to see my Hendrix collection for the first time in 20 years.  As I explained to the staff, collecting was a far different enterprise in the pre-internet era.  You wrote letters to people who answered your classified ads in Melody Maker or The Rock Marketplace, posted “wanted” note cards on bulletin boards in record stores, prowled thrift shops, swap meets, flea markets, junk stores…anywhere where you might get your fix.  It was hard work.  And so it was great so see those old vinyl friends again, and know they were someplace they’d be well cared for–and available for future generations.

The library and archive is open to the public, though some of the collection is accessible only to qualified researchers, scholars and students, by appointment.  The library and archives website has a searchable database and overviews of their archival collections.  Congratulations to director Andy Leach and his team; though they’ve just opened, the library and archives is already an invaluable resource.

And it goes without saying–but I’ll say it anyway–if you’re anywhere near Cleveland, by all means, visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum too.  They have just completed a redesign and it has never looked better.  Literally thousands of the most unusual and extraordinary music artifacts you’ll ever see — John Lennon’s Sgt. Peppers suit, Hendrix’s Stratocaster, Otis Redding handwritten lyrics, Elvis’s car, Mick Jagger’s stage outfits, The Doors instruments…it just goes on and on.  And they’ve just opened a superb new Grateful Dead exhibit  (put together by their curatorial director, Howard Kramer.)  For music obsessives like myself, a trip to Cleveland is a must.

Jeff Gold   5/6/12

SOME INTERESTING LETTERS…AND MORE BOB DYLAN

I love collecting letters and documents that help tell the story of popular music, and thought I’d start posting a few of my favorites.  I buy this kind of thing whenever I can, keeping those that interest me most, donating the rest to archives that will preserve and share them–most often, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum (which is opening their Library and Archives on April 9.) Here are two great ones, both with some insightful Bob Dylan content.

The first was sent by folk singer Malvina Reynolds (best known for her song “Little Boxes”) to San Francisco Chronicle music critic and Rolling Stone magazine co-founder Ralph J. Gleason, on May 23, 1963.  Written in response to what must have been a negative review of the Monterey Folk Festival, she notes “There were some good things at the Monterey Folk Festival–you must have missed them, or they didn’t appeal to you anyway.  A young fellow by the name of Stewart Clay, with a home made railroad song; a girl named Janis Joplin, square built, impassive, singing blues in a high, skin-prickling voice like a flamenco woman; Bob Dylan, and some others.”  She goes on to argue that Gleason missed the point of the festival, ending “When thousands of kids are doing something with diligence and devotion, there are going to be some geniuses amongst them–it figures mathematically.  And something is coming of this.  Bob Dylan is a sign.”

Boy, did she ever get that right.  At the time this was written, Janis Joplin was (forgive me) a complete unknown; she didn’t move to San Francisco and join Big Brother & The Holding Company for another three years.  I can’t imagine this wasn’t her first trip West.  And Dylan’s May 18 Monterey spot was his first West Coast appearance; according to Clinton Heylin’s excellent “Bob Dylan: Life In Stolen Moments” Dylan drove to Monterey with Elektra Records founder Jac Holzman and producer Jim Dickson; performing 3 songs at the Festival; almost surely “Talkin’ John Birch Society Blues,” “Masters of War” and “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall,” then dueting with Joan Baez on “With God On Our Side.”  Remember, this was 9 days before the release of “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.” He too was almost completely unknown, and for Reynolds to invoke the genius-word was pretty prescient–and daring, indeed.

While I haven’t yet found Gleason’s review of the Festival, he later wrote that at first he didn’t get Dylan, thinking him a Woody Guthrie wanna-be.  But very soon after this was letter was written, Gleason embraced Dylan in a very big and public way, becoming a friend, confidant and very vocal and important early supporter.

The second letter was also written to Ralph Gleason, this one on a “Monday evening” in December, 1965, from an unknown “Donna.”

She writes in response to Dylan’s legendary KQED Press Conference on December 3, 1965.  Gleason organized and hosted what became Dylan’s first and only televised press conference.  It’s available on home video and I’m sure online, and is a fascinating glimpse into Dylan’s psyche.  Donna writes to Gleason with her insightful take on Dylan and the press conference, and rather that excerpting her letter, I suggest reading it.  There’s an excellent and comprehensive website I can’t recommend enough for those interested in the press conference.

While letters and documents such as these might not have a great deal of monetary value, I think they’re  important in charting the arc of popular music.  If anyone reading this has any interesting letters, documents or files they are interesting in parting with (or any rare records or music memorabilia) please do email me.

VIRTUAL MUSEUM: An Amazing Jazz Collection

 

Just before the end of the year, I was fortunate to purchase an amazing collection of classic Jazz memorabilia and autographs, some of which I’d originally sold years ago–and never thought I’d see again.  This post shows off some of the most interesting and unusual items, many of which are for sale at Recordmecca.   But beyond the commercial aspect, I thought readers might enjoy seeing some truly rare and amazing artifacts from an era long passed.

To the left is a large poster advertising two November 1962 shows in Stockholm, Sweden by the “classic” John Coltrane Quartet–with Elvin Jones, McCoy Tyner and Jimmy Garrison.  These shows were later issued on CD as “The Complete Stockholm Concerts.”  Coltrane posters are extremely rare, and we can find no other surviving example of this bold beauty.

John Coltrane is probably my favorite jazz artist and the next item is truly extraordinary–Coltrane’s own Grammy Nomination plaque awarded to him in 1965 for “Best Original Jazz Composition: A Love Supreme.”  Coltrane was nominated for only two Grammy’s during his lifetime, this one and “Best Jazz Performance: Small Group Or Soloist” the same year.  He didn’t win either, so this award–owned by Coltrane himself, is as close as he got.  The fact that it’s for his most important work, “A Love Supreme,” and that it was consigned by Coltrane’s family to the legendary 2005 Guernsey’s Jazz Auction make this as desirable a piece of Coltrane memorabilia as you’re ever likely to see.  From the same auction, we also here have Coltrane’s own Downbeat Reader’s Poll Award for 1966 (First Place: Tenor Saxophone.)

Next are some great jazz handbills–first, a truly rare handbill for two performance by Charlie “Bird” Parker at the Open Door, a club in New York’s Greenwich Village where jazz writer and Brooklyn College teacher Bob Reisner held a weekend jazz club.  These shows took place in early January, 1955–only two months before Parker’s death, at age 35.  Charlie Parker memorabilia is impossibly rare, and this handbill, while simple, says it all–”The Greatest In Modern Jazz.”  And along the same lines, another Open Door handbill, this one from 1954 for Thelonious Monk and His All Stars.  What a scene that must have been.  And finally, a 1966 handbill for the “Titans of the Tenor !” show at New York’s Philharmonic Hall, featuring John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Coleman Hawkins and Zoot Sims on the same bill.

And now some autographs.  First, a framed Charlie Parker “cut” (a small piece of paper with a signature,) framed with a famous William Gottlieb photograph of Bird (also signed.)  As you might imagine, an authentic Bird autograph is the rarest and most sought after signature in jazz.

And here are the very rare autographs of Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane, both signed on photographs (making them all the more desirable,) and a later signed Miles Davis postcard.  All highly collectible, and rare (at least authentic ones are.)

Here’s a great framed Sun Ra handbill with the autographs of his Arkestra (more signatures than appear on the typed legend.)  Sun Ra is a scarce signature, but this is the only set of Arkestra autographs we’ve seen.
And finally, here are two handwritten John Coltrane musical manuscripts, from the hand of the great man himself.  These were also sold by his family at the Guernseys 2005 Jazz Auction, so in addition to being rare, they have unbeatable provenance.
While our main focus is on rock, blues, soul, and folk memorabilia and records, we’re very proud to be able to offer these special Jazz collectibles at Recordmecca .  And as always, we’re looking for high end music collectibles and rare records–so let us know if you have anything to sell.

Bruce Langhorne’s Debut Album-50 Years After His Recording Debut

Fifty years after his recording debut (on the 1961 album “The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem”) the great Bruce Langhorne has released his debut solo album, the appropriately named “Tambourine Man.”  Bob Dylan, in the liner notes for his “Biograph” box set said ““Mr. Tambourine Man,” I think, was inspired by Bruce Langhorne. Bruce was playing guitar with me on a bunch of the early records. On one session, (producer) Tom Wilson had asked him to play tambourine. And he had this gigantic tambourine. It was like, really big. It was as big as a wagon-wheel. He was playing, and this vision of him playing this tambourine just stuck in my mind. He was one of those characters…he was like that. I don’t know if I’ve ever told him that.”

Bruce played guitar on Dylan’s “Freewheelin’” and “Bringing It All Back Home” albums, later reuniting with Dylan in 1973 to play on the soundtrack to “Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid.”  In the past 50 years, Bruce has backed up some of the most important folk artists ever, including Odetta, Richard and Mimi Farina, Joan Baez, Tom Rush, Gordon Lightfoot, Buffy Sainte Marie, Richie Havens, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Fred Neil, John Sebastian, Eric Andersen, David Ackles, Mike Bloomfield, Babatunde Olatunji, Mickey Hart, and Carlos Santana (ok, not a folk artist), as well as composing film scores for Jonathan Demme and Peter Fonda (the legendary soundtrack to “The Hired Hand.”)  And in his spare time ?  Bruce became a hot-sauce maven, with his highly regarded “Brother Bru-Bru’s African Hot Sauce.” 

In the past few years, Bruce has endured some serious health problems, and so his friends Debbie Green and George Madaraz decided it was high time for Bruce to take the spotlight.  And so with Bruce, they have released “Tambourine Man,” “to preserve and present this unique and joyous music composed by a guy with definite legendary status.  The compositions represent the third stage of his creative career and have been only heard by a small circle of friends.”

The CD pictures Bruce’s legendary Turkish tambourine, and album artwork (under the CD tray) reproduces Bob Dylan’s message to Bruce, written inside his copy of Dylan’s “Chronicles”:  “To Bruce, “Mr Tambourine Man”  Back there was something else !  Like they say, it was better to be in chains with friends than in a garden with strangers.  So true, huh ?  Stay well and all the best, Bob Dylan.”

All proceeds from the album’s sales go directly to Bruce, and it’s available through Amazon.
Bruce is a wonderful man and a great talent, who I’m proud to call a friend.  Check it out and support one of the greats.

VIRTUAL MUSEUM: A GREAT BYRDS MANAGEMENT CONTRACT

Here’s something I thought people might enjoy seeing; a 1967 management contract for The Byrds and The Jet Set, their previous incarnation, which included Jim McGuinn, David Crosby and Gene Clark. This 10 page document is signed by the original Byrds lineup–David Crosby, Jim McGuinn, Chris Hillman, Michael Clarke, and Gene Clark (who signs using his legal name, Harold E.  Clark.) This document unravels the Byrds and Jet Set’s original management contracts with managers Eddie Tickner and Jim Dickson and formalizes a royalty arrangement with Naomi Hirschorn, who had  provided cash to the band in their earliest days, so they could buy stage clothing and equipment. 

There is a tremendous amount of detail here regarding royalties, outstanding loan repayment, their record contract with Columbia Records, and the Byrds and Jet Set’s business affairs.  We have never before seen any documentation of the Jet Set, which makes this a bit more special. The contract is signed on the final page by all 5 band members (though at this point, Crosby and Clark were no longer members–but shared in past royalties and the Byrds partnership,) Eddie Tickner, Jim Dickson, and Naomi Hirshhorn.   Hirschorn deserves to be better known; according to music writer Richie Unterberger, she invested $5000 for a 5% share in the then-unknown Byrds, enabling them to buy state-of-the-art equipment including a 12-string Rickenbacker guitar for Roger McGuinn, a Fender bass for Chris Hillman (who was previously using a cheap Japanese bass) and a full drum kit for Michael Clark (who was previously using cardboard boxes!)  

         The contract is for sale at Recordmecca.
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