September 2, 2017


Happy Saturday, Spy Vibers! One of my greatest passions is looking at music history, and a particularly favorite pastime is tracing the musical and cultural roots of Rock, Jazz, and Blues. If we travel back through the breadcrumbs to see where most of the major British bands of the 1960s originated, we come to one of the most interesting periods in the 1950s when traditional jazz (Trad), blues, and folk music shared a time of popularity and cross pollination. Trad musicians like Ken Colyer, Chris Barber, and Lonnie Donegan famously devoted time in their sets to exploring American roots tunes by Leadbelly and others. Dubbed "Skiffle" music, Donegan's hit with Rock Island Line launched a major boom in the UK. As Billy Bragg points out in this clip below, Skiffle empowered a new youth generation that suddenly found themselves free of rationing, earning pocket money, and ready to express their identities through a DIY sensibility and a new symbol of independence- the guitar. Sales of acoustic guitars went from about 5,000 per year to 250,000 per year. Among those kids playing Skiffle were the likes of Van Morrison, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, George Harrison, Jimmy Page, and the list goes on and on. I recently visited The British Music Experience in Liverpool where I got to see many artifacts from this era. The most impressive breadcrumb was John Lennon's personal copy of Donegan's Rock Island Line 78 record. Lennon had given it to Rod Davis, one of his fellow Quarrymen skiffle group members (see my photo below) back in the day. And there it was! The stuff of legends. The record that launched Lennon (and The Beatles). The evolution of 1960s pop culture would have been dramatically different without these roots in Trad and Skiffle. I'll dive further into the era soon. In the meantime, check out this great clip and pick up Bragg's new book about Skiffle, Roots, Radicals and Rockers: How Skiffle Changed the World. I think you can still order signed copies from Bragg's website. Photo trivia: the guitar next to Lennon's record below was owned by Lonnie Donegan. The cover image of the Youtube clip shows Leadbelly with New Orleans trumpeter Bunk Johnson (1940). Enjoy! In other news, check out my episodes of the Cocktail Nation radio show, where I introduce classic spy films/TV series and play soundtracks and rare cuts: Episode #1 (Danger Man) and Episode #2 (The 10th Victim), Epsiode #3 (On Her Majesty's Secret Service), Episode #4 (Roger Moore/The Saint), and Episode #5 (The Avengers). Episode #6 (The Prisoner).

Selected Spy Vibe Posts: Elvis 68Jack Kirby The PrisonerCasino Royale ConcertReview: The Prisoner Vol 2Interview: The Prisoner Essential GuideMaud Russell MottisfontSpy Vibe Radio 4Batman GallantsAdam West R.I.P.Village TriangleRoger Moore R.I.P.Spy Vibe Radio 3Sgt Pepper 50thSatanik Kriminal OST60s OverdriveMake Love in LondonSpy Vibe Radio 2Spy Vibe Radio 1James Bond StripsPropaganda MabuseInterview: Police SurgeonXTC Avengers1966 Pep SpiesBatman Book InterviewExclusive Fleming InterviewAvengers Comic StripsRobert Vaughn RIPUNCLE FashionsThunderbirds Are Pop!, Interview:Spy Film GuideLost Avengers FoundThe Callan FileMission Impossible 50thGreen Hornet 50thStar Trek 50thPortmeirion Photography 1Filming the PrisonerGaiman McGinnins ProjectIan Fleming GraveRevolver at 50Karen Romanko InterviewMod Tales 2Umbrella Man: Patrick MacneeNew Beatles FilmThe Curious CameraEsterel Fashion 1966Exclusive Ian Ogilvy Interview007 Tribute CoversThe Phantom Avon novels returnIan Fleming FestivalArgoman DesignSylvia Anderson R.I.P.Ken Adam R.I.P.George Martin R.I.P.The New Avengers ComicsTrina Robbins InterviewThe Phantom at 80007 MangaAvengerworld BookDiana Rigg Auto ShowThe Prisoner Audio Drama Review.

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