Music, March 1971: Humble Pie

He saw himself as a budding black militant, but he thought of me as a hippy-dippy, flower-power type.

More random music recollections based on the book Never A Dull Moment.

It was Woodstock, the March 1970 movie, that was the greater watershed than the August 1969 concert, the author posits, and I tend to agree. If a third of a million people actually went to Max Yasgar’s farm in Bethel, NY, after seeing the Academy Award-winning documentary, millions would say they were there.

I recall going to the film with a bunch of my anti-war, socially activist friends – Holiday Unlimited: “a splendid time is guaranteed for all”- shortly after the film was released. We sat through it TWICE, back in the days when you could actually do that sort of thing, and it was LONG, about three hours.

My most specific recollection was looking back at the light stream that was projected image that was showing during Sly and the Family Stone’s performance and noticing how purple it was. And, seriously, I had never taken any drugs at the time.

The Woodstock soundtrack propelled my listening for at least the next half-decade, really introducing me, and much of the country, to Joe Cocker and Santana, and solidified my listening to Arlo Guthrie, CSN(&Y) and The Who, among others.

Unlike earlier live albums, such as The Who’s Live at Leeds, which captured the performance and nothing more, producers in 1971 realized the “sound of the crowd was a key element” in transferring the excitement to the listener who had not been present. I always had mixed feelings about live albums for that reason.

Bill Graham closed both Fillmore East in New York City and Fillmore West in San Francisco in 1971. Agents such as Frank Basalona realized that some bands, such as Led Zeppelin, would sell out the venues based on their names, and weren’t willing for the flat rate someone such as Graham would offer.

Basalona signed groups such as Humble Pie from London and J. Geils from Boston. I listened quite a bit to cuts from the live Humble Pie album Rocking the Fillmore on the radio, featuring Peter Frampton, who would go on to have even greater live album success.

The groups’ common manager was Dee Anthony, who, in addition to worrying about the money, instilled in the band a sense of showmanship. Producer Tom Dowd got the Allman Brothers to dump their out-of-tune horn section and made them a much better band.

The other live music album I recall from this period was the one by Grand Funk Railroad, which came out in November 1970. I received it for my birthday in March 1971 from my sister’s boyfriend George. He saw himself as a budding black militant, but he thought of me as a hippy-dippy, flower-power type, and thought, incorrectly, that this would have been “my” type of music. But I did listen to it a few times, and it’s probably still in the attic.

Listen to:
Black Dog – Led Zeppelin. It was first played live at Belfast’s Ulster Hall on 5 March 1971.
I Don’t Need No Doctor – Humble Pie
Aqualung – Jethro Tull
Rock and Roll, Hootchie Koo – Johnny Winter
Mean Mistreater – Grand Funk Railroad

Music Throwback Saturday: I Don’t Need No Doctor

It’s quite likely that I heard the Humble Pie version before I heard the Charles iteration,

ashford-and-simpsonAs is my custom, I was playing a bunch of the music of Ray Charles, in honor of his birthday on September 23. (It was also Bruce Springsteen’s birthday that same day.)

One of the songs on a greatest hits album was I Don’t Need No Doctor, written by the great Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson, with Jo Armstead. But I remembered a very different version in my LP collection.

Humble Pie was “an English rock band… during 1969. They are known as one of the… first supergroups… The original band lineup featured lead vocalist and guitarist Steve Marriott from the Small Faces, vocalist and guitarist Peter Frampton from The Herd, former Spooky Tooth bassist Greg Ridley and a seventeen-year-old drummer, Jerry Shirley.

“In 1971 Humble Pie released… a live album recorded at the Fillmore East in New York entitled Performance Rockin’ the Fillmore. The live album reached No. 21 on the US Billboard 200 and was certified gold by the RIAA… But Frampton left the band by the time the album was released and went on to enjoy success as a solo artist.”

It’s quite likely that I heard the Humble Pie version on college radio, or some other FM radio hit before I heard the Charles iteration when I was listening primarily to Top 40 back in my hometown, since Ray’s take didn’t chart high enough.

There are several more versions of the song – The Sonics, The Chocolate Watch Band, New Riders of the Purple Sage, metal bands W.A.S.P. and Great White, The Nomads, Styx, John Scofield, John Mayer, and jazz singer Roseanna Vitro, among others.

I Don’t Need No Doctor:
Ray Charles, #72 US pop, 45 R&B, 1966
Humble Pie, #73 US pop, 1971 (Billboard Hot 100)

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