Eddie Kramer, South African producer and engineer, is celebrating his 77th birthday today. Regarded as a true rock icon, Kramer is known for working with some of music history’s biggest names including The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, David Bowie, Bad Company, The Beatles to name but a few. He is also celebrated for his long-term associations with Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and Kiss. The South African moved to London where he began his recording career at legendary studios including Pye Studios, Regent Sound and Olympic Studios. Kramer engineered Jimi Hendrix’s “Electric Lady Land” LP in 1968 at the Record Plant in NYC where he also worked with Joe Cocker, NRBQ and The Vanilla Fudge. Kramer and his crew are also famous for recording the whole 1969 Woodstock festival. The studio became known as one of the world’s most popular recording studios. In 1969 he went independent where he produced Johnny Winter’s first LP and engineered “Led Zeppelin II”. In the same year, Hendrix hired Eddie to build an exquisite art studio, Electric Lady Studios, where he served as Director of Engineering from 1970 -1974. He has also worked on live recordings by Kiss, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Joe Cocker, Curtis Mayfield, David Bowie and Peter Frampton. Kramer has won several Grammys for his audio production of the video Jimi Hendrix live album The Band of Gypsies, “The Game of Love”, with Carlos Santana and vocals by Michelle Branch, Martin Scorcese presents- Jimi Hendrix –“The Blues” which Eddie produced and engineered, Jimi Hendrix –“Live at Berkley,” Led Zeppelin- “How the West was Won”. Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, The Cure, Buddy Guy and the Pixies also owe their thanks to Kramer for producing and engineering some of their best-selling albums. He is currently working on Acoustic Experience- a contemporary acoustic remake of Hendrix’s songs with artists Jason Mraz/Crosby and Nash, Mike Mc Cready and Brandi Carlisle, Grace Potter, Rafael Saadiq, Heart, Shinedown, etc. As a skilled photographer, his work is regarded as a highly valued collector’s items that have been exhibited in some of the world’s most prestigious galleries and museums.
Beatles single “Ticket to Ride” was released on Capitol records today, 54 years ago. Written by John Lennon and credited by both Lennon and Paul McCartney, the song quickly became the band’s seventh consecutive number 1 hit in the United Kingdom and their third consecutive number 1 hit in the United States. As stated by the single’s label, the song was from the film ‘Eight Arms to Hold You’ (the original name for the movie ‘Help!’). Well-known music critic, Ian MacDonald, described the song as “psychologically deeper than anything the Beatles had recorded before” and “extraordinary for its time”. The Carpenters covered the song and 1969 and managed to peak at #54 on the Billboard Hot 100 with their version.
This day in 1969 the Beatles released Abbey Road in the UK. The final recordings featured two George Harrison songs including ‘Something’ and ‘Here Comes The Sun’. The band members stated in their interviews for The Beatles Anthology that, although no-one ever confirmed the album being their last, they all felt at the time this would very likely be the final Beatles product. Therefore, they agreed to set aside their differences to “go out on a high note”.
Today, 52 years ago, The South African Broadcasting Corporation banned all Beatles records in response to John Lennon’s remark about the band being bigger than Jesus. Lennon stated: “Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue with that; I’m right and I will be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now; I don’t know which will go first – rock ‘n’ roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It’s them twisting it that ruins it for me.” The comment was ignored in Britain as it was seen to be typically provocative. Five months later, however, the statement was reprinted in an American teen magazine, Datebook, and erupted great controversy. In the conservative southern and Midwest states, Beatles records and memorabilia were burned, radio stations refused to play their music and concerts were cancelled. Also on this 8th day of August 1966, The Beatles LP, Revolver, was released in the US. This was the band’s seventh album and featured songs like ‘Taxman’, ‘Eleanor Rigby’, ‘I’m Only Sleeping’, ‘Here, There and Everywhere’, ‘She Said She Said’, ‘And Your Bird Can Sing’ and ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’. The album spent 77 weeks on the Billboard chart on the #1 position.
Bob Dylan made his first appearance at the Royal Albert Hall in 1965 right on the heels of the release of his 5th studio album, ‘Bringing It All Back Home’. The concerts on the 9th and 10th of May, noted as being his last ever solo acoustic tour, marked the final dates of Dylan’s England Tour in 1965. All four members of The Beatles were in the audience.
A selection of songs from these performances can be seen in D.A. Pennebaker’s documentary film Don’t Look Back:
VIDEO: Dylan leaving the Hall in 1965 (from Dont Look Back)
In May 1966, Dylan made an electric return to the Hall performing the final two shows of his full tour with a full electric band backing him. A recording titled, The Bootleg SeriesVol 4: Bob Dylan Live 1966, The Royal Albert Hall Concert, was released in 2008, however, the recordings were made at Manchester’s Free Trade Hall. The album even contains the artist’s confrontation with an audience member who shouted “Judas”, referring to Dylan’s “betrayal” to his acoustic sound. Another individual in the audience exclaimed “I’m never listening to you again” and got the famous “I don’t believe you … you’re a liar” response from the artist.
Similar to other tour dates, Dylan opened with an acoustic set which his fans were familiar with before hitting the electric set in the second half. Audiences’ reaction to the artist’s major shift was split in half and it took the artist quite some time to get fans accustomed to his new sound.
From the 1966 UK Tour programme
The day after his show in 1996 The Times commented:
‘There was a marked and disturbing contrast between the two parts of the concert given by Bob Dylan, the American folk singer, at the Albert Hall last night. In the first, and infinitely better, half of the evening, Mr Dylan gave an agreeable solo rendering of some of the songs for which he is best known: in the second half he was accompanied by the thunderous quintet who made it virtually impossible to distinguish a single line of the lyrics.’
The Times, 27 May 1966