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A wee drive to Paul McCartney’s Mull of Kintyre

Mull of Kintyre — you either hate the Paul McCartney folk song, or you’ve never heard of it (in which case you can sample it here.) These may seem strange options for one of the biggest pop hits of all time. I should clarify that “Mull of Kintyre” haters are likely closet fans and self-loathing Brits, while those who’ve never heard it are mainly Americans.

Of course I’m conveniently ignoring the middle ground: the millions of us who love the best Scottish song not written by a Scotsman. Another admission: I briefly fell out of love with “Mull of Kintyre” after my grandmother bought the single—possibly the only music purchase of her life—and danced around the house. Not cool. But those bagpipes are like a siren, in the classical sense rather than the annoying sense.

Mull of Kintyre

Granny rock?

“Mull of Kintyre,” which Paul co-wrote with Denny Laine and is credited to their band Wings, replaced the Beatles’ “She Loves You” to become the biggest selling UK single of all time upon its 1977 release. It held the title until the Band Aid charity single “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” came out in 1984. “Mull of Kintyre” topped the UK charts for nine weeks, and also went to No. 1 in such countries as West Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Australia, and New Zealand. Its charm was lost on those in North America, who preferred the flip-side, “Girls’ School.” Well, their loss.

I’ve made it my life’s work to travel to historical music sites around the world, including the Australian outback pub where David Bowie filmed his “Let’s Dance” video. The Mull of Kintyre has long been on my wish list, and I finally made it out there in June 2018 while touring the UK with Paul’s favorite group, the Rolling Stones. I grabbed a rental car in Glasgow and set off on my five-hour trip, stopping along the way for a tour of Inveraray Castle, the magical ancestral home of the Clan Campbell.

But first, what is a Mull and what is a Kintyre? A mull is a Scottish word for a headland or promontory, the latter word defined by Merriam-Webster as “a high point of land or rock projecting into a body of water. Kintyre is the name of a 30-mile-long peninsula in western Scotland. And the Mull of Kintyre is the most southwestern point of Kintyre. On a clear day you can see the coast of Ulster at County Antrim, about 12 miles away across the North Channel of the Irish Sea. I was fortunate to visit during a bit of a drought, so no “mist rolling in from the sea” for me.

After checking in at the excellent Ashbank Hotel in Carradale, I continued about six miles to Saddell Beach. This is where Paul, his wife Linda, and Denny filmed the “Mull of Kintyre” video with the help of the Campbeltown Pipe Band and assorted locals. It’s a beautiful location, but it’s nowhere near the actual Mull of Kintyre, which is about 26 miles and a good hour-long drive away. For my money the beach is a prettier site than the Mull. Approach slowly along the B842 as the entrance is easy to miss.

Saddell is a tiny settlement. Park where designated and walk the same trail to the beach as you see the locals doing in the video.

A screengrab showing Paul in front of the cottage and Linda walking towards him. The fence is no longer there.

The same cottage today.

Another screengrab shows the first appearance by the Campbeltown Pipe Band. Saddell Castle is in the background.

A similar perspective today

Saddell Castle today

Then it was off to the Mull itself along some mercifully empty, one-lane roads. The Mull of Kintyre is a large geographical area. It is not a specific spot or address. So don’t get paranoid that you can’t find the Mull. You’re probably already there. I took a million photos of this sign en route.

And here is the Mull, or the view from the Mull. A popular trail leads down to the lighthouse. I walked down a bit of the way, but was short on time, and the view was better from the top anyway. Click on the panorama:

Beatle fans guarding the trail at the Mull.

The thistle, the appropriate national flower of Scotland.

Car park at the top. The Kintyre roads are country lanes, and the road to the Mull is particularly tortuous. Pick a small car and drive slowly.

Campbeltown is worth a quick stop, but don’t expect to buy any Mull of Kintyre-related souvenirs. The quaint fishing village has completely missed the boat. You can visit a memorial garden dedicated to Linda McCartney. Click on the link for opening hours. I also took an informative tour at the Springbank distillery. There’s not much else to do.

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NOTE: My gossipy rock bio Strange Days: The Adventures of a Grumpy Rock ‘n’ Roll Journalist in Los Angeles is available here. For more info, go to strangedaysbook.com

Copyright © 2019 by Dean Goodman. PLEASE DO NOT CUT AND PASTE THE WHOLE THING.

Rolling Stones: Exile on Main St. – Extreme Trivia Edition

exile on Main St

I’ve officially hit rock-bottom trying to find something new to write about the Rolling Stones. While perusing the back cover of Exile on Main St. the other day, for only the millionth time, I wondered about the photo of the newspaper headline that appears to read: “Father of Five Aids … Rescuer.” Read more

Down and out with the Beatles in Liverpool

Welcome to the world, Beatles! An unexploded bomb in a Liverpool garden, two miles from the home of John Lennon’s Aunt Mimi, November 1940. Courtesy: Merseyside Police.

Quick! Name the pub on the cover of Ringo Starr’s Sentimental Journey album (at right). Or, the venue where Ringo played his first official gig with the Beatles. Thanks to a recent trip to Liverpool, I know the answers—although it would have been cheaper to stay home and do an Internet search.

Liverpool

The Empress, 230 feet from Ringo Starr’s childhood home at 10 Admiral Grove (and next door to a mosque)

Hulme Hall, at the Port Sunlight model village in Wirral—across the Mersey from Liverpool. Ringo played here with the Beatles on Aug. 18, 1962, two days after Pete Best was fired.

But then I wouldn’t have experienced the most important music city in the world. People debate the so-called “Fifth Beatle”—George Martin? Billy Preston? Neil Aspinall? But I would posit, a little poetically, that the Fifth Beatle is Liverpool herself. As Mecca is to Muslims, so is Liverpool to discerning music fans. Only after walking the streets, soaking in the atmosphere, taking a ferry ‘cross the Mersey, and trying to decipher Scouse, etc., etc., can one begin to understand the essence of these working class kids.

Poor bastards taking photos of John Lennon’s home on a quick drive-by. Avoid this sort of tour.

Some pilgrims—especially those on drive-by bus tours—will inevitably get the wrong idea and romanticize the Fab Four’s humble beginnings, forgetting that Liverpool was a war-torn wasteland in the ’40s and ’50s (and a socio-economic disaster zone in the ’70s and ’80s). Thanks in part to Beatles-related tourism, it is now a fairly interesting town by modest English standards. But I’ll bet John and Paul were kicking themselves for not writing “We Gotta Get out of this Place.”

This house in the Childwall district was less than a mile from Aunt Mimi’s place. Liverpool, a vital port city, was the second-most-bombed UK target. Courtesy: Merseyside Police.

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Ringo has made no secret of his disdain for the Liverpool myth. I wonder why. What’s not to love about terraced housing and outhouses?

Ringo was born at this now-derelict rental flat (closest to the camera), at 9 Madryn Street, Dingle. All the houses on both sides are boarded up. The area was bombed during WWII.

No. 10 Admiral Grove, Dingle. Ringo lived in this “two (rooms) up, two down” with his mother and stepfather for 20 years until 1963. It’s a 2-minute walk between the two homes, via the Empress.

George Harrison didn’t have it much easier.

No. 12 Arnold Grove, Wavertree. George Harrison was born in this “two up, two down,” and lived here with his parents and three older siblings for the first six years of his life. The toilet was in the backyard.

No. 25 Upton Green, Speke. George Harrison and his family moved to this new council estate near the airport in about 1950. Still bleak.

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John and Paul had better digs in the nicer suburbs of Woolton and Allerton, respectively. Their well-preserved childhood homes, separated by a 25-minute walk along the golf course, are managed by the National Trust on behalf of the British people. It’s no exaggeration to describe Aunt Mimi’s Mendips and the McCartney residence on Forthlin Road as two of the most significant buildings in rock ‘n’ roll—in England, even. Attendance is compulsory. Book an official tour with the National Trust. There is no other way to get inside.

No photos are allowed in the houses, so you’ll just have stand in quiet solitude in John Lennon’s bedroom overlooking Menlove Avenue and imagine how he plotted world domination. Over at the home of Jim, Mary, Paul and Mike McCartney, sit in the living room where John and Paul wrote many of their early songs. I appreciated the austere childhood homes of Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash, but 251 Menlove Avenue and 20 Forthlin Road are simply sacred.

The McCartneys relocated to this council estate from a less-favorable one in Speke, in 1955. There are three bedrooms upstairs, a bathroom, and a toilet—a new luxury for the family. They also had a telephone, which was a rarity. Paul moved his widowed father to a new house 15 miles away in 1964. It was bought by the National Trust in 1995.

View from the front garden

The McCartneys’ living room, depicted on the cover of the National Trust souvenir booklet. Photo: Dennis Gilbert.

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The semi-detached house was built in 1933 with art deco, art nouveau and Olde English trimmings; it takes its name from the Somerset countryside. John’s maternal aunt Mary “Mimi” Smith and her husband George moved here after they were married in 1939. John joined them in 1945. He and Paul often practised in the porch, which was enclosed in 1952. The house was sold in about 1965, after Mimi retired to Poole, Dorset, where John bought her a bungalow.

John’s bedroom! He looked out these windows! John lived at Mendips until 1963. After moving to New York, he never returned to Mendips. Yoko Ono bought the house in 2002 and donated it to the National Trust

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NOTE: Since you made it this far, reward yourself with my gossipy rock bio Strange Days: The Adventures of a Grumpy Rock ‘n’ Roll Journalist in Los Angeles, available here. For more info, go to strangedaysbook.com

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Apud McCartney. “Keep a knockin’ but you can’t come in.”

Underneath John’s bedroom.

Copyright © 2019 by Dean Goodman. PLEASE DO NOT CUT AND PASTE THE WHOLE THING

Artimus Pyle Band hits the West Coast

It’s not often that Artimus Pyle performs on the West Coast. Based in North Carolina, the former Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer plies a thriving trade along the eastern seaboard with his astonishingly adept and clean-cut band. The last time I saw him play in southern California was in September 2013, and that may well have been his last gig in the state. Until January, 2019, when the Artimus Pyle Band (APB) ventured out West for five shows—a tour opener in Las Vegas, and four in California.

Artimus drove his van nonstop from Asheville to California, and back again.
Read more

Literary agent Jennifer De Chiara to author: Drop dead


I’m not responding to anymore emails from you, so don’t bother responding. — Jennifer De Chiara, literary agent, New York.

I’m not disappointed that my literary agent, Jennifer De Chiara, fired off an unprofessional email to me. I am disappointed that she didn’t do it with more literary flair. This is a brassy New Yorker who works on the periphery of the publishing industry. Am I not deserving of some artful bons mots? All I got was a typo and some awkward syntax.

The timing was awkward, too. The email was sent on Jan. 8, 2019. As I write this, my publisher is working hard to release a wonderful memoir I co-authored with Artimus Pyle, the former drummer with Lynyrd Skynyrd. Things are in in flux, and Jennifer De Chiara (also confusingly spelled as DeChiara) has gone AWOL on us. Notwithstanding her edict, I did send some follow-up emails reminding her that she is contractually obligated to make her “best efforts” to represent the book “enthusiastically.” No response. Read more

UPDATE: Lynyrd Skynyrd Memoir – Coming in 2019 (No, Seriously!)



Former Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer Artimus Pyle, the “Wild Man of Southern Rock,” is publishing his memoir in early-summer, 2019, through Backbeat Books/Hal Leonard. Street Survivor: Keeping the Beat in Lynyrd Skynyrd will be available in all good book stores, and at Amazon. The book was originally scheduled for publication in October 2017, but it has been delayed pending resolution of unrelated litigation pitting Artimus and Cleopatra Films against Judy Van Zant.

Artimus Pyle Read more

Someone tell Cameron Crowe that Florida has no hills …

… and that Lynyrd Skynyrd had a drummer (two of them).



While it was refreshing to see Lynyrd Skynyrd get its own episode of the recent Showtime series Roadies, the show’s creator Cameron Crowe made a couple of boo-boos. Cameron should know better. He toured with Skynyrd in Japan in 1977 and hooked up with the band’s accountant, Marybeth Medley. (Let’s just say that Nancy Wilson was a definite improvement.)

Skynyrd's Hell House? Hell, no! What the hell is that mountain range doing in a Florida swamp?

Skynyrd’s Hell House? Hell, no! What the hell is that mountain range doing in a Florida swamp?

Check out two screenshots. The band’s practice shack, the Hell House, is shown above with a mountain range in the background. In fact, the Hell House was located near an alligator-infested swamp in Green Cove Springs, Florida, the flattest state in the USA. In Cameron’s world, Skynyrd must have been a West Coast act.

Step right up! Buy a lot on the site of Lynyrd Skynyrd's old practice shack, the Hell House. Alligators and creepy-crawlies not depicted.

Step right up! Buy a lot on the site of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s old practice shack, the Hell House. Alligators and creepy-crawlies not depicted.

Incidentally, the site of the long-gone Hell House is currently being turned into a residential development. It includes a Free Bird Way and a Tuesday’s Cove.

Where's Artimus? Front row (l-r): Allen Collins, Ronnie Van Zant, Gary Rossington (mostly obscured), Leon Wilkeson, Billy Powell, the Honkettes. Top (l-r): Steve Gaines, fictional character, Dean Kilpatrick

Where’s Artimus? Front row (l-r): Allen Collins, Ronnie Van Zant, Gary Rossington (mostly obscured), Leon Wilkeson, Billy Powell, the Honkettes.
Top (l-r): Steve Gaines, fictional character, Dean Kilpatrick

More importantly, Cameron chose not to hire an actor to play the band’s drummer. Skynyrd had two drummers, band co-founder Bob Burns and his successor Artimus Pyle. Both were just as important as Ronnie Van Zant & Co. The rest of the band is portrayed by actors—with varying success. Cameron even cast actors to play tour manager Ron Eckerman, longtime roadie Dean Kilpatrick, and the three backing singers. But no drummer. Very strange. And quite offensive to Artimus and Bob, and to drummers in general.

Furthermore, a fictional roadie relates how he wishes he could have rescued the guys after their plane crashed on October 20, 1977. Well, somebody did. That was Artimus Pyle. His omission from Roadies is a great injustice to the man, and to the historical record. Stay tuned for more info on Artimus’ plans to reveal the true story of Lynyrd Skynyrd, America’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band.

Free Rolling Stones tickets in Seattle


… for the Stones’ first visit to Seattle, on Dec. 2, 1965 … As long as you were a parent accompanying your screaming teen.

Seattle Times, Dec. 1, 1965 Read more

Prince: “I don’t believe in contracts”


Prince answers my question - "One" - after I asked him how many albums he would record under his new deal

Prince answers my question – “One” – after I asked him how many albums he would record under his new deal

It took me a while to find this report that I wrote after attending a small press gathering with Prince at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on December 13, 2005. I think it was the only time I got up close and personal with him. He looked exquisite, like a beautifully crafted artwork. He had just signed a new deal with Universal Records.

I asked him a few questions at the outset, and got a laugh with my first one:

YOU ONCE LABELED YOUR TIME AT WARNER BROS. AS SLAVERY. WHY ARE YOU JUMPING ABOARD THE BIGGEST SLAVE SHIP OF THEM ALL? Read more

Ahmet vs. Dweezil Zappa

Ahmet and Dweezil Zappa, in 1993 (Photo: Steve Appleford, originally published in Strobe magazine)

Ahmet and Dweezil Zappa, in 1993 (Photo: Steve Appleford, originally published in Strobe magazine)


It’s sad to see the two sons of Frank Zappa engaging in a bitter public battle over money and birthright. The New York Times detailed the feud in April, sparking an open letter from Ahmet to his older brother, and an angry response from Dweezil. Frank must be spinning in his unmarked grave in Westwood, although his estate planning and marital choice could have been more rigorous.

Ahmet vs. Dweezil ZappaI interviewed the brothers in July 1993, at Joe’s Garage, the Zappas’ recording studio underneath the Burbank Airport flight path in North Hollywood. Under the moniker of “Z,” the brothers had just recorded an album called Shampoohorn, which I vaguely recall was pretty good, although it didn’t have any commercial success. (Z also included bassist Scott Thunes and guitarist Mike Keneally). I must dust it off one of these days. Read more