Imagining Legendary Moments

lennon

Today marks the 32nd anniversary of John Lennon’s murder: the passing of a legend and also of a generation. For those of us who grew up in the Sixties, we’d thought that Lennon and the Beatles were somehow immortal. Despite the tragedies of Vietnam, the Kennedys, King, as well as our own private losses and despairs, we assumed (however unconsciously) that our rock-and-roll heroes were somehow immune to life’s harsher realities; and if they could die, so could we. Even though the like of Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin and Elvis Presley had already departed, theirs was a self-imposed trip; an end result to their own unrestrained lifestyles. Not one, of all the legends that commercialism and escapism had created in our own image, had ever been murdered.

The BBC reported, in 2008, that a Vatican newspaper had finally “forgiven” John Lennon for his remarks to a British newspaper in 1966. An off-the-cuff response to a question concerning the band’s popularity, Lennon stated that the group was more popular than Jesus and wasn’t sure if Christianity or the Beatles would die out first. “In an article praising the Beatles, L’Osservatore Romano said Lennon had just been ‘showing off.'”

Both Lennon and Jesus continued to be equally cool and respectively controversial for millions of people. Lennon later apologized for his statement, but, in the course of his apology, added that he wasn’t suggesting that the Beatles were greater than Jesus or bigger than Christianity, but that they were, at the time, more popular. This, in fact, was the truth: in 1966, one would’ve been hard-pressed to find many teenagers willing to pass up tickets to a Beatles’ concert in exchange for an audience with Pope Paul VI.

We take the various phenomena seriously that, by chance or circumstance, arise as celebrity and descend as legend. Temporal beings, enacting our vicarious deeds and evincing our sincerest hopes, for which we grant them an eternity that we ourselves aspire towards.  Indeed, whether they’re nailed to a cross or gunned down in an alleyway, they transcend the fleeting moments of a generation to the loftier heights of our fleeting existence…we all tend to show off, at times.

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Manny’s Coda

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Manny’s Musical Instruments, a Midtown landmark since 1935, is now defunct. The store, located in New York City‘s fabled Music Row (West 48th Street and Sixth Avenue) closed its doors forever in 2009, yet another victim of the city’s insatiable tide of gentrification.

However, the last of Manny’s may only be a harbinger for the last of Music Row entirely. Rockefeller Center kingpins have been purchasing portions of the block and may be aiming to expand the Center from across Sixth Avenue and over Music Row. Paul Ash, president of Sam Ash Music (who had bought up Manny’s in 1999), perceives the sands of time running out on the Row. “It’s inevitable that Music Row is going to end…we’re just waiting for the shoe to drop.” Indeed, Ian Goldrich, Manny’s grandson, says that he receives “at least a call a day” from someone who wants to buy the building owned by the founding family.

The legions of notable musicians who, over the decades, frequented Music Row in general and Manny’s in particular could fill volumes. Benny Goodman and Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix and the Beatles, among countless others, were known to have been regular Manny customers.

Even lesser known musicians, such as this aging blogger, once saved up his wampum and bought a used Fender STRATosphere, through the auspices of Manny’s, when he was just a left-handed guitarist (my only similarity to Hendrix) in his own rock ‘n’ roll band. However, that was a long, long time ago when everything, including youth, seemed forever …as a matter of course.

Source: Lost City

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Play On, Electric Lady

Electric Lady Studios will celebrate its 42nd anniversary this August. Situated amid a row of down-scaled Greenwich Village shops at 52 West Eight Street, this is the famed music studio founded by Jimi Hendrix in 1970. An oddity in its day because of its (very psychedelic) originality, it’s now an oddity due to its staying power. While other big name NYC studios have long since shut down (the Hit Factory, the Record Plant, Sony Music Studios, etc) the Electric Lady is alive and well and going strong.

Eddie Kramer, Hendrix’s favored engineer and a force in the studio’s creation, has a simple explanation for its longevity.

“In a word: vibe,” he said, sitting in a small lounge by the control booth for one of Electric Lady’s three recording rooms. We wanted to create an environment where Jimi could feel really happy, and feel that he could create anything.”

And I’m sure that Jimi felt extremely happy in his Electric Lady; its ambiance was guaranteed to evoke his electrified impulses.

“Instead of following the usual studio model — a big, impersonal box tended by buttoned-down staff engineers — it was a psychedelic lair, with curved walls, groovy multicolored lights and sci-fi erotica murals to aid the creative flow.”

Unfortunately, Jimi’s gig at his beloved Electric Lady was very brief indeed: the legendary guitarist died a few weeks after the opening gala on August 26, 1970. Nevertheless, he left a considerable library of tapes from sessions at the studio. The roster of fellow music legends who have worked there (such as the Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder and Led Zeppelin) have further complemented the memory of Jimi Hendrix via the Electric Lady.

Source: NY Times

Jimi Hendrix 1942-1970