Saturday, January 23, 2021

What were they up to in 1970?

So many incredible bands and artists got their start in the late 60s and early 70s. 1969 saw the first LPs from Led Zeppelin, Badfinger, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Hall and Oates, Faces, Crazy Horse, King Crimson and Kraftwerk. 1970 saw the first recordings by Supertramp, Leon Russell, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Stephen Stills, Sparks, and Black Sabbath. We don't have to dig too deeply to see where things were going. But how about those artists who weren't yet a blip on the horizon?

In early 1970, Patti Smith was dating Robert Mapplethorpe, living in the Hotel Chelsea and writing and performing. She would often be seen with Mapplethorpe at CBGB's and at Max's Kansas City.

Bryan Ferry was performing occasionally, but, as many of us have to do, he was forced to work for a living. In Bryan's case, he was teaching pottery at the Holland Park School. He would form Roxy Music in November 1970.

Stephen Morrissey was just a lad but he had already started a campaign of writing to Smash Hits and other British music magazines with his opinions. Some things don't change.

Walter Becker and Donald Fagen met in 1967 and moved to Brooklyn in 1970 where they spent a year trying to sell their songs and themselves to the Brill Building set. It was Kenny Vance of Jay and the Americans who gave them a shot. They played with Jay and the Americans on tour for a hundred dollars per night. Other artists would start to perform their songs, such as Barbra Streisand, but it would be in 1970 that friend and associate of Kenny Vance, Gary Katz, would move to L.A. and hire Becker and Fagen as songwriters for ABC Records. Katz would go on to produce most of Steely Dan's LPs.

Glenn Frey of Long Branch Pennywhistle, alongside J.D. Souther met Don Henley in the spring of 1970. The relationship that would encompass Eagles (official name; not The Eagles) would last until 1980.

For his 1970 cult-classic, self-titled album, Emitt Rhodes recorded in a makeshift recording studio he set up at home in his bedroom. Rhodes taped the instruments on a four-track recorder.

Marvin Gaye was composing the compositions for this writer's number 1 soul/pop LP, What's Going On. Without it, there would be no Innervisions, no Superfly, it was that influential.

There was indeed a lot going on that is difficult to research but fun to speculate. Imagine, as we speak, 50 years ago, Carole King and Joni Mitchell sitting with their pianos (or Joni most likely her guitar) finishing up the tracks that would become Tapestry and Blue. Not hard to get that visual.

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