‘American Sabor’ brings Latin ‘flavor’ to Cal State L.A.
Smithsonian exhibit presents musical contributions of U.S. Latinos from
1940s to the present
From cha-cha-chá to rumba, these distinctive musical styles have influenced
American popular music for decades. Bringing with them a diverse array of
rhythms and regional styles, Latino artists have contributed extensively to U.S.
Los Angeles is a hub for Latino culture and music, so it’s fitting for the
Smithsonian to bring “American Sabor: Latinos in U.S. Popular Music,” to
California State University, Los Angeles.
The traveling exhibition celebrates the true flavor, or “sabor,” of Latin music
in the United States from the 1940s to the present. And it focuses on Los
Angeles as one of the five major centers of Latino popular music production,
representing the remarkable diversity of this music.
“As a result of the infusion of immigrants in Los Angeles from Mexico and
Central America, the dynamic music scenes in this great city have helped shape
American popular music, such as rock and roll, jazz, punk and hip-hop,”
explained CSULA Professor John Kennedy, one of CSULA’s committee members
organizing the exhibit on campus.
As the world’s entertainment capitol, Los Angeles is home to many Latino
artists. Cal State L.A. is particularly proud of those artists who began their
careers here, and in the surrounding communities.
Sonia Marie De León de Vega.
For example, noted symphony and opera conductor Sonia Marie De León de
Vegahoned her talent and
began conducting at CSULA, while pursuing her academic degrees in music.
“Cal State L.A. was a very important aspect of my life. I started out as a music
major with a focus on piano performance, but after taking a class with Professor
David Buck, I was inspired to train as a musical conductor,” said De León de
Vega, who grew up listening to pop music in Echo Park but fell in love with
classical music when she first heard Beethoven’s symphony as a little girl. “The
CSULA conducting professor was wonderful in helping to develop the skills needed
for me to pursue a professional career in music. I am still in touch with him
and will always consider him my mentor.”
De León de Vega was instrumental in forming the Santa Cecilia Orchestra in Los
Angeles in 1992 in an effort to bring classical music to the Latino community.
She has achieved distinction as a creative and consummate musician and as a
leading influence in the growing Latino culture in the United States. Her
musical talents have inspired a large following in Southern California through
live orchestral presentations, as well as an international audience through
televised performances in the United States, Latin America and Europe. De León
de Vega has also been a guest conductor for many orchestras and opera companies
and has developed concerts and children’s music workshops for the Cultural
Affairs Department of the City of Los Angeles.
De León de Vega, who was the first woman in history to receive a Vatican
invitation to conduct a symphony orchestra at a Papal Mass, is recognized as
part of the “American Sabor” exhibit for her accomplishments and career in
“It’s great to be part of such an exhibit. One that is important to our city and
its huge population of Latin Americans,” she said. “This will be a remarkable
way to offer the public a deeper cultural understanding of the history of Latino
art and music.”
Another CSULA alum featured in “American Sabor” is singer, songwriter and
who earned a bachelor’s degree in Chicano studies.
“It is amazing how things work in life,” said Guerrero, who has music in his
blood. He started playing in a band at 13 and was heavily influenced by his
father, the late legendary singer/songwriter Lalo Guerrero.
“I was fascinated to delve into my cultural and family history as a Chicano
studies major at CSULA,” he said. “So, the more I learned about my Mexican and
Chicano heritage, the more it got infused in my music. In order to chronicle and
preserve the rich history of East L.A. and Chicano rock, I developed a website,
markguerrero.com, which is now referenced by colleges and universities around
Guerrero, who led the popular East L.A. band Mark & the Escorts, recorded two
singles for GNP Crescendo Records: “Get Your Baby” and “Dance With Me.” He also
recorded as a solo artist for Ode Records (produced by the legendary Lou Adler),
Capitol Records, and with his group, Tango, for A&M Records. He has performed on
stage with a variety of renowned performers, such as Redbone, Eric Burdon, El
Chicano, Tierra, Lalo Guerrero, and many others. Guerrero also has written more
than a hundred articles, hosted an internet radio show called “Chicano Music
Chronicles,” been a guest on numerous radio and television programs, consulted
for museums, and lectured at universities.
For his distinguished musical career and expertise in Chicano and East L.A.
music history, Guerrero was invited from the onset to be part of the advisory
board for the original Experience Music Project (EMP) exhibit on “American Sabor,”
helping to provide artifacts and to conduct oral interviews.
“It is notable of the Smithsonian to take this EMP exhibit further, so others
can explore and appreciate the Latin musical culture and genre of the U.S.,”
said Guerrero. “I am deeply honored to be included among other illustrious
Latino musicians, and to be able to share my life’s experience and contributions
in American music history through the exhibit.”
The exhibit also plays tribute to legendary Latin jazz bassistEdward
Resto, who completed his bachelor’s degree in jazz studies and
performance, and master’s degree in Afro-Latin music at CSULA.
“Here, I found that I had so much to learn,” said Resto. “I had been a
professional, accomplished musician for most of my life, yet I always knew that
the life of a true artist is a never-ending process of growth, knowledge and
creative development. I was able to embrace this educational environment and
re-ignite the passion that lives inside of me as an artist and as an academic.”
Resto, who enjoyed a celebrated career with the Grammy award-winning Eddie
Palmieri Orchestra, is recognized as a first class bassist for his extensive
experience in a broad range of musical styles. He had his start at 15 in New
York, playing bass at a wedding celebration. From there, he began performing,
touring, teaching, and recording around the world. This helped him to develop
rapidly as a versatile bassist and was immediately sought after to perform by
major performers and music groups, such as Rene Touzet, Tito Puente, Chick Corea,
Kenny Burrell, Rita Moreno, Francisco Aguabella, Poncho Sanchez, Paul Simon, Don
Tosti, Shakira, Celia Cruz, Freddie Fender and Flaco Jimenez, Jennifer Lopez,
The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lalo Guerrero and many others.
Resto is acknowledged in the exhibit at CSULA for his bassist career, which
captured the New York City Afro-Latin music scene of the 1970s and 1980s, and is
still making a major impact to the music of today.
“This exhibition provides a huge Latino melting pot of music that can be
explored, researched, appreciated and enjoyed. Thanks to the Smithsonian, lovers
of this wonderful Latino culture and music can find a place to flourish and grow
in their quest for exploration of this rich music,” said Resto. “I am proud and
excited that the Smithsonian’s ‘American Sabor’ exhibit included my grandfathers
and my own personal Afro Latino genre, demographic and musical contributions,
but also integrated the numerous Latino musical cultures scattered across the
“American Sabor: Latinos in U.S. Popular Music” exhibition will be on
display in the Fine Arts Gallery at CSULA from Nov. 16 through Feb. 9, 2014.
“American Sabor” is a 2,500-square-foot learning experience with engaging
bilingual (English and Spanish) text panels, striking graphics and photographs,
a dance floor and compelling listening stations and films. The exhibit’s open
house will take place on Saturday, Nov. 16, 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Developed by EMP Museum and the University of Washington, and organized for
travel by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Services (SITES), the
exhibition, its national tour and related programs are made possible by Ford
Motor Company Fund.
October 31- November 6, 2013
Palm Springs, CA
Text of above article by Claudia McVeigh
Mark Guerrero is an interesting man. Not just an
accomplished musician, singer and songwriter, he is also an
expert on Chicano music and culture, having earned a B.A. in
Chicano Studies. Born and raised in East L.A., Mark came
to the Coachella Valley in the 1980s, and has been playing music
at local venues ever since. Currently he's performing for
patrons at three different restaurants in the valley-
Margarita's in Palm Springs, and in La Quinta, Arnold Palmer's
and Lavedner Bistro.
Mark comes by his musical talent honestly. His father was
famed musician and Coachella Valley icon, Lalo Guerrero, known
as the Father of Chicano Music. Mark started playing music
at a young age- by the age of 14 he was recording singles with
his popular East L.A. band, Mark & the Escorts. He
recorded for major labels in the 1970s, and his music was
recorded by famous musicians such as Herb Alpert, Trini Lopez,
and his own father, Lalo. Mark and his father played
together in Paris, France and were guests at the White House
where Lalo was given a National Medal of Arts from President
Mark recently had the opportunity ot tour with Redbone and
Cannibal & the Headhunters Band. They played different
venues and one of the highlights was backing Denny Laine,
formerly of Wings and Joey Molland from the British band
Besides making music, Mark is passionate about Chicano music and
culture. His website, markguerrero.com is dedicated to
promoting Mark's music as well as the history of Chicano music
in general. In late January, he will be teaching a class
on the history of Chicano rock at CSUSB, Palm Desert campus.
Mark recently was a guest at fellow Desert Entertainer columnist
Gary Walker's English class at C.O.D., discussing the soundtrack
to the movie "Zoot Suit," which featured his father's music.
Mark will be giving a concert with his six-piece band at his
alma mater, Cal State L.A. in December.
We've just scratched the surface of the life of Mark Guerrero.
For more, check out his website, visit him in person at one of
the restaurants where he performs, or sign up for his upcoming
class. You're bound to be entertained.
Arnold Palmer's on Wednesdays and Thursdays 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.
with Paul Villalobos
Lavender Bistro on Sundays from 6 to 10 p.m.
Margarita's on Fridays and Saturdays from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m.
Many people know rock
‘n’ roll as the offspring of country-western and blues.
But not many people know Latino rhythms were also present at
“In the postwar United
States where you start to have what’s recognized as youth
culture, a lot of the popular music that was going on had
Latino rhythms coursing through it,” says Michelle
Habell-Pallan, co-curator of “American Sabor: Latinos in
U.S. Popular Music,” a traveling exhibition on view through
Feb. 9 at California State University, Los Angeles.
The free, bilingual
exhibition developed by the Explore Music Project Museum and
the University of Washington and organized by the
Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Services,
explores the musical influence and creativity of Latino
artists on popular music genres from the 1940s to the
present. Historic photographs, album covers, video oral
histories from Latin music stars, a mixing board interactive
activity and a jukebox fills the gallery with full-length
songs near a dance floor where visitors can cut loose.
Along the way visitors
learn about key musical figures — including Tito Puente,
Ritchie Valens, Celia Cruz, Carlos Santana, Selena — from
the five major Latino cities, including New York, Miami, San
Antonio, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
“People like me that
are born here, we’re Americans but we create our own music,”
says Mark Guerrero, a Chicano rocker and son of bandleader
Lalo Guerrero, who got his start in the Eastside Sound as a
teen and has since gone on to document the era atwww.markguerrero.com.
As part of the
exhibition’s programming, Mark Guerrero will perform both
his and his father’s music at a free concert scheduled for
7:30 p.m. Dec. 7 in the State Playhouse at Cal State L.A.
Guerrero and jazz
musician Don Tosti popularized an early jump blues mixed
with Afro-Carribean and Latino rhythms known as Pachuco
Boogie — the hottest sound coming from L.A. dance halls in
the 1940s. Pachuco Boogie would influence what became the
Eastside Sound of the 1960s.
This mix of rock, R&B
and Latino rhythms and instruments was heard across the
globe. In 1965, The Beatles invited Cannibal and The
Headhunters — best known for its cover of “Land of 1000
Dances” with the “na na-na-na na” hook — to tour with it.
A photograph of
Cannibal frontman Frankie Garcia and Paul McCartney is
featured in the exhibition.
“The Eastside Sound was
so popular that even The Beatles were listening to it,”
Habell-Pallan says. “But the Beatles always connected to
Latin rhythms from their earliest work if you think about
the song ‘And I Love Her.’ Its got the clave in there. In
many ways, we’re showing the hidden history of the Latino
influence and interaction on rock and roll.”
Cal State L.A.’s
exhibition features an additional Los Angeles section
representing the community cultural spaces that gave rise to
new Latino-led sounds from the 1990s on. It includes Zach de
la Rocha’s Public Resource Center/Centro de Regeneracion in
Highland Park as well as downtown L.A.’s Peace and Justic
Center out of which came the Black Eyed Peas and Ozomatli
and Belmont Tunnel graffiti yard to represent Latino rappers
Kid Frost and Mellow Man Ace.
“We wanted to
represent, very specifically, the place that East L.A. has
had not only in the past, which is represented by the
Smithsonian exhibit, but into the present,” says Victor Hugo
Viesca, onsite curator and Cal State L.A. professor, who put
together the L.A. companion portion of the exhibition. “So
no matter what kind of music you like, it’s probably
In addition to the
experience, the exhibition is complemented by an interactive
that includes expanded exhibition content. A link called
Share Your Story allows people to upload their stories,
photos and memorabilia.
At the end of the
exhibition, those stories will be downloaded and archived by
the U.S. Library of Congress for posterity.
A companion book is
also in the works.
The Desert Sun
Palm Springs, California
July 14, 2014
As a soloist and leader of his own pop-rock band at Las
Casuelas Terraza in Palm Springs, Mark Guerrero was a
virtual tourist attraction from the late 1980s through much
of the 2000s.
The restaurant enticed him to stay by paying him benefits in
addition to a salary. But when he wasn't covering the hits
at Las Casuelas, he often accompanied his dad — "the father
of Chicano music," Lalo Guerrero — at gigs from Mexico City
to Paris, not to mention the McCallum Theatre.
But a funny thing happened after his father died in 2005.
Guerrero says he was dismissed from Las Casuelas after a
change of management, and he started spending more time
playing outside of the desert.
He performed on two PBS specials — one with long-time family
friend Trini Lopez hosting "Trini Lopez Presents Latin
Legends" and another in Pittsburgh with 56 oldies acts,
including the late Davy Jones of the Monkees, Paul Revere
and the Raiders, Roger McGuinn, The Miracles, Chad & Jeremy
and the Latino band, and ? & the Mysterians.
He recently did a tour called Retro Rock with the remnants
of Cannibal and the Headhunters, an East L.A. band that
toured with The Beatles in 1965 and had a hit with "Land of
A Thousand Dances" before Wilson Pickett. They'd also back
up other oldies artists, including Denny Laine of the Moody
Blues and Wings, Joey Molland of Badfinger and Terry
Sylvester of the Hollies.
Guerrero toured with the Native American band, Redbone,
famous for "Come and Get Your Love," and was featured along
with Little Willie G of Thee Midnighters in a Los Angeles
play by Louie Perez of Los Lobos, titled "Evangeline: The
Queen of Make Believe."
Guerrero still plays Fridays and Saturdays at Margarita's in
Palm Springs and at other clubs during the season, but his
dismissal from Las Casuelas Terrazas also gave him time to
perform solo concerts and participate in Chicano music
"It kind of freed me up, so I did a lot more traveling,"
said Guerrero, 65, of Cathedral City. "I got to do these
lectures and shows out of town. They just come up. It's kind
To friends who have known him and benefited from his
scholarly writing on Chicano music, it's not really amazing.
"Mark really deserves the recognition and I think he's
starting to get it," said Chan Romero, a Palm Desert
resident who is best known as the composer of The Beatles'
early hit, "Hippy-Hippy Shake."
"He didn't get the break he should have. He's one of those
guys who has got the talent. He's as good as any of these
guys who have made it big, especially the East L.A. groups.
He worked with a lot of them. He didn't get the recognition,
but he's starting to get mentioned in these books and
they're starting to recognize that he's quite a talent."
In 2009, Guerrero's early '70s Chicano anthem, "I’m Brown,"
was included in an exhibition at the Grammy Hall of Fame in
Los Angeles titled "Songs of Conscience, Sounds of Freedom."
Others in the exhibit included Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger and
Most recently, Guerrero was quoted in two new music books
chronicling much of the Southern California music scene,
including the Beatles' influence on it.
He's identified as a "Chicano rocker and East Los Angeles
music scholar" in "It Was Fifty Years Ago Today: The Beatles
Invade America and Hollywood," by Harvey Kubernik.
In "Turn Up the Radio! Rock, Pop and Roll in Los Angeles,
1956-1972," also by Kubernik, he's quoted about the origins
of the East L.A. Chicano rock scene, Neil Young and the
"Mark, in my opinion, is one of the most talented
songwriters in any language," said Manuel Montoya, a Palm
Springs-based record producer and talent manager
specializing in Latino artists. "(He) was part of the artist
roster at Capitol Records and A&M. Herb Alpert recorded
(his) 'Pre-Columbian Dream.' Just listen to 'On the
Boulevard,' 'The Great Mango,' 'Latin Quarter' — lyrically
and musically fantastic. He is definitely a talented dude."
Guerrero's father is one of the most celebrated
singer-songwriters in Latino music history. He received the
National Heritage Award from the National Endowment of the
Arts in 1992 and the National Medal of Arts from President
Bill Clinton in 1996. The street leading to the Cathedral
City city hall is named after him and he has a place on the
Palm Springs Walk of Stars.
Mark Guerrero sang on, performed and arranged six of his
father's "Las Ardillitas" (little squirrels) children's
albums, which are arguably Lalo Guerrero's most lasting
legacy in Mexico. He also compiled his father's 1995 album,
"Early Classic Recordings 1950-1955," and played on many of
his recordings from 1964 on. He wrote and performed "The
Ballad of Lalo Guerrero," which appears on the documentary
produced by his brother, Dan, "Lalo Guerrero: The Original
But Mark Guerrero was enamored by early 1960s rock 'n' roll.
He formed Mark and the Escorts in 1963 and played surf music
inspired by current Twentynine Palms resident Dick Dale.
When The Beatles invaded in 1964, Mark and the Escorts
dressed in Beatles-type attire and began playing British
Invasion-type music with a Chicano twist.
Mark and the Escorts became an integral part of the emerging
East L.A. scene, sharing the same manager as Cannibal and
the Headhunters, the Premiers (who hit with Don & Dewey's
"Farmer John") and the Blendells (who broke out with Stevie
Wonder's "La La La La La"). They had a regional hit with
"Get Your Baby," which has since been featured on six
compilation albums chronicling the revival of what has been
called "the Eastside sound" and the "garage rock exotica"
The band's nucleus, including Guerrero on guitar and vocals,
bassist Richard Rosas and drummer Ernie Hernandez, evolved
into The Men from S.O.U.N.D. and Nineteen Eighty Four and
then supported Guerrero as a solo artist on Capitol Records
and then A&M Records.
But the labels never really grasped that a Mexican-American
like Guerrero could create folk rock sounds as American as,
say, a Canadian like Young.
"When I was with Capitol, I did a few country rock tunes and
the label said, 'Why is this Chicano guy in L.A. doing
country music?' They were like baffled," said Guerrero. "I'm
thinking, 'Well, why not?' But they couldn't think of me as
just an Anglo-American who can do country."
He recorded "I'm Brown" as a single for Capitol. It was
essentially a protest song, said Guerrero. The chorus
asserts that "first I'm a member of the human race." He
proudly wrote in one of his blogs that "I'm Brown" "can
stand alongside James Brown's 'Say It Loud (I'm Black and
I'm Proud)' and Helen Reddy's 'I Am Woman' in that they're
all anthems about positive self-image and identity."
But the 11 songs Guerrero recorded for Capitol never got
released as an album. He concluded, "Capitol didn't think
America was ready for a Chicano band sounding like a country
A&M, which was co-owned by Jerry Moss and Herb Alpert,
leader of the Tijuana Brass, bought the masters in 1973 and
had Guerrero record four more songs. But, even though this
was the height of the singer-songwriter era, they decided
Guerrero and his backing musicians should be a Latino band.
"I really kind of regret that I agreed to it," Guerrero
said, "because they said, 'You've got to come up with a name
now.' I said, 'Well, we're the Mudd Brothers.' I thought
that was a cool name. But they said, 'No, no. That's no
good. Come up with something that sounds Latino.'
"What we were doing was very Buffalo Springfieldish —
Southern California country rock. But they insisted, so I
came up with Tango, which is Latin and 'Last Tango In Paris'
was out. But it was one of the biggest mistakes of my life
because, when the album came out, all it said on the cover
was 'Tango.' We weren't even on the cover. So if someone
went to a record bin they'd think it was Argentinian tango
music. Why would you think it was rock 'n' roll? It really
hurt. But, when you're young like that I wasn't strong
enough to say, 'I refuse.' "
In addition to "I'm Brown," Tango's self-titled album
featured the bilingual song, "Allesandro." But it featured
such country rock musicians as John Hartford on banjo and
fiddle, and Sneaky Pete Kleinow of the Flying Burrito
Brothers on pedal steel guitar.
Moss sat down with Guerrero after the album came out and
laid out his marketing plans.
"He said to me, 'How would you describe your music? What
genre would you say it fits into?' " Guerrero recalled. "I
said, 'Kind of like Buffalo Springfield.' He said, 'I
disagree.' " 'Oh, what do you think?' He said, 'Tony
Orlando.' I go, 'Oh my God!'
"That shows you how off they were. Guerrero. Orlando.
Latino? That's the only thing I could think of (connecting
the two artists) because it was nothing like it. So they
didn't understand what I was trying to do."
Chicano rock came to be epitomized by the rhythmic sounds of
El Chicano, Tierra and Los Lobos, who toiled in East L.A.
for most of the 1970s, and later Ozomatli. Today, Montoya
prefers the terms "Latino, Hispanic or rock en Espanol" to
"Chicano bands." He says industry labels placed an obstacle
to Mark that forced him to retreat to the security of local
"Mark has trust issues that have held him back," Montoya
said. "He felt comfortable in his little gig and he was OK
with that. (But) he is a unique talent and deserves to be
heard beyond Palm Springs."
But Guerrero began writing about the history Chicano music
on his website, markguerrero.com, in the late-'90s. He's
written about the East L.A. scene and other Latino artists
such as Lopez and Romero.
Romero says those articles have helped his subjects gain
"He has helped a lot of musicians," said Romero, who also is
mentioned in Kubernik's new books. "I've had contacts from
people who have called me from overseas who wanted me to do
some concerts overseas through Mark."
Guerrero now frequently lectures about Chicano music at
colleges around the country and always sings some of his
father's music, besides his own. He was recently asked to
collaborate on a book on the Chicano movement after giving a
lecture performance at Ohio State University.
Romero calls him a Chicano culture scholar.
"I went with him to the (California State) university over
here a couple months ago in Palm Desert and he put on quite
a talk and then he performed," he said. "He had some amazing
videos that he showed and a lot of those university students
were really impressed with him and his music and what he's
done. The young people are really starting to realize who he
below in Desert Post Weekly- July 31-August 6, 2014
Scan of Desert Sun newspaper, page one only
Record Collector Magazine
March 21, 2014
March 21, 2014
by Jim Kaplan~
Los Angeles native and pop and rock music historian Harvey
Kubernik has been an active journalist for over 40 years,
published six books, penned over a thousand articles and has
been acknowledged in over 150 books.
For the last few years, Harvey has written just about every
cover story in Record Collector News. I’m constantly
receiving fan letters and emails lauding his work and
praising his diligent and factual research evident in his
interviews and profiles in our pages.
The book company Otherworld Cottage Industries in February
just published Harvey Kubernik’s book It Was Fifty Years Ago
Today: The Beatles Invade America and Hollywood.
In it, Harvey discusses the Beatles and their unquestionable
Southern California bond with Clem Burke, Richard Bosworth,
Roger McGuinn, Dino Danelli, Chris Darrow, Ram Dass, Johnny
Echols, Kim Fowley, Allen Ginsberg, Mark Guerrero, George
Harrison, Rodney Bingenheimer, Gene Aguilera, Jim Keltner,
Dan Kessel, David Kessel, Paul Body, Albert Maysles, D.A.
Pennebaker, Andrew Solt, David Leaf, Ravi Shankar, Don Peake,
Phil Spector, Andrew Loog Oldham, John Van Hamersveld, Ken
Scott, Doug Fieger, Ringo Starr, Sir George Martin, Giles
Martin, Berry Gordy, Jr., James Cushing, and many more
musicians, DJ’s, writers and pundits.
Harvey’s book is a very important look at the Beatles and
the band’s previously unexamined relationship to the musical
heritage of Los Angeles and Hollywood from the late-1950s to
Los Angeles Times
November 8, 2014
Inland Empire Weekly
San Bernardino, California
March 19, 2015
Article also appeared in
El Chicano- Rialto Record- Colton Courier
Guerrero employs various avenues to advance history of East
a lecture, performs or teaches at one of the two Cal
State University San Bernardino campuses,
he has some of the best first-hand knowledge to draw from.
At a moments notice, Guerrero can conduct a two-hour,
multi-media presentation about the history of East Los
Angeles music of the 1960’s or about the Beatles.
Guerrero fronted the group, Mark and the Escorts from East
L.A. in the 60’s and was a part of a style of Chicano music
that was heard from Whittier Boulevard to New York City.
Although Guerrero has appeared on many recordings with
fellow chart toppers, he never received the international
notoriety like neighbors, Cannibal & The Headhunters, Thee
Midniters, the Premiers or the Blendells. He did have top
notch producers and managers like Billy Cardenas and rock
and hall of famer Lou Adler.
“It was amazing and exciting to be witness to that huge
music scene coming from such a small, low-middle class area
of unincorporated Los Angeles. It was like the music boom in
Liverpool that was happening simultaneously in the music
hotbed of East L.A,.” said Guerrero. “It promoted our
culture and gave us a sense of pride.” He listed others from
the area like Los Lobos, Tierra, and El Chicano who had
million sellers a few years later. Guerrero named a lot of
others with great talent from the area but who never had big
hits such as “Little Ray” Jimenez.
Guerrero feels that his generation of revolutionary East
L.A. musicians and those just prior had the benefit of
living in a prime location at a prime time. “Rock was still
young in the early 60’s. We were a half hour away from
Hollywood recording studios, TV and radio stations and there
were plenty of places to play. Bands could get gigs at teen
night clubs, parties, or dances. There are hardly any
teenage venues today,” said Guerrero.
He told of a whole new wave of Chicano musicians who are
carrying on the tradition of East L.A music. “There are many
new bands who are representing East L.A. very well such as
Guerrero is considered the leading historian on the 1960’s
East L.A. sound. It was his famous father, Lalo Guerrero who
created the sounds preceding the East L.A. rock music
The late Lalo
whose career started in 1939 is nationally recognized as the
“Father of Chicano Music.” Lalo Guerrero originated a style
of Chicano music that honored his Mexican heritage through
many styles including ballads, parodies and children
classics. He composed music that used pachuco slang on tunes
like Marihuana Boogie and Los Chucos Suaves.
Much the same, the younger Guerrero performs concerts,
benefits, tributes and lecture/performances. He was in Santa
Cruz last month for a benefit show at the Resource Center
for Non-Violence for the local day worker center. There, he
screened the documentary, “Lalo Guerrero-The Original
Chicano” and performed a concert of his and his father’s
Mark Guerrero feels
there are pros and cons from being the son of an icon to
Chicanos. At first, he never mentioned it because he didn’t
want to use his father’s name to advance his own career. “I
am proud of my father and his talents but I never wanted
people to minimize my accomplishments because of who my
father was. As I got older there was no way to separate us.”
At his lecture on race and racism at Cal State University
San Bernardino, he lets his songs tell some of the story
such as his Capitol Records release, “I’m Brown,” and some
of his father’s like, “No Chicano’s on TV.” At the CSUSB,
Palm Desert Campus he just finished teaching a class on the
History of the Beatles Part 1, for the school’s Osher
Lifelong Learning Institute.
He is preparing to teach Beatles Part II. “The Beatles
revived rock and roll and made it into an art form. They did
everything well,” said Guerrero.
In his bio, it lists that Guerrero had “I’m Brown” included
with songs of Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, and Pete Seeger,
etc. at the Grammy Museum in a 2009 exhibit called Songs of
Conscience, Sounds of Freedom. He earlier consulted and
contributed material to an exhibit for the Smithsonian
Institute entitled American Sabor: Latinos in Popular Music.
Guerrero has been a performer non stop since 1963. Now
approaching an age when most think retirement, he’s got the
stamina to do shows six nights per week at Lavender Bistro
in La Quinta, plus all of his other ventures.
He recommends to younger musicians to play everywhere you
can even if it’s for free. “Never dog it and don’t let your
ego get in the way.”
He said he never liked hard drugs, cigarettes or alcohol and
thinks that is why he’s still going strong. Like other’s who
lived in the 1960’s, he witnessed the already well
documented story of drug abuse. He tells serious musicians
that drugs will hurt their career. “It’s hard to remain
dependable if you become a drug user or an alcoholic. To
keep working you have to be disciplined.”
Record Collector Magazine
Mark Guerrero is one of the
contributors offering his thoughts on The Beatles' classic
album "Revolver." Other contributors include Michael
McDonald, Burton Cummings, and Steven Van Zandt.
Beatles remain evergreen with this month’s
celebration of the album Revolver on its 50th
anniversary; Eight Days a Week, Ron
Howard’s new documentary about the band’s
touring years; and a new CD release: The
Beatles Live at The Hollywood Bowl
heard “Love You To” from the Beatles’ Revolver LP
in July 1966 previewed on radio station KRLA
from Pasadena California during deejay Dave
He back announced the album selection and touted
George Harrison’s vocal and sitar instrument on
the Harrison-penned tune, along with referencing
the Indian classical musician Ravi Shankar.
To” was very spooky. This was by the Beatles? It
sounded like something from the 1952-1954 black
and white television series Ramar of the
Jungle starring Jon Hall.
The first week of August ‘66 I purchased my
monaural copy of the album at the legendary
Frigate Record shop at the corner of Crescent
Heights Blvd and 3rd Street in L.A.
George Harrison discovered the sitar around the
set of Help! Later that same year, he
would record with it on John Lennon’s “Norwegian
In 1997, I
conducted an interview with Harrison published
in HITS magazine. George recalled his
earliest attempt at playing the sitar with the
Beatles as “Very rudimentary. I didn’t know how
to tune it properly, and it was a very cheap
sitar to begin with. So ‘Norwegian Wood’ was
very much an early experiment. By the time we
recorded ‘Love You To,’ I had made some
any other record of the time, Revolver was
responsible for turning millions of people onto
LSD,” concludes Roger Steffens, author of The
Family Acid and the forthcoming So Much
Things to Say: The Oral History of Bob Marley.
“If you wondered what a trip would be like, all
you had to do was put on earphones and close
your eyes and wonderment abounded. Stunning new
instruments inserted into the pop panorama;
harpsichord and tablas and sitars and tapes spun
backwards into a Delhi rave up. Prompting acidic
reflections, feeling hung up but not knowing
why, who cares as long as we can drift in this
pill-shaped undersea craft and maybe find some
of that Sunshine acid, John closing it all out
in his submarine skipper voice. No doubt this is
their finest most consistent and innovative
work, a quantum leap forward.”
White, who just published the book, Come
Together: Lennon and McCartney in The Seventies,
summarizes the Revolver period Lennon and
“While The Beatles clearly had no real interest
in replicating or writing with their live sound
in mind in the studio, the Revolver sessions
began with one eye clearly on the future with
‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ and ended with another
of Lennon’s partly nostalgic ‘She Said She
Said.’ Lennon was still pouring energy and
invention into his music, whilst beginning to
confront or drawing on his pain for the good of
his art. Despite McCartney’s superior
compositional phase of songs of string-laden
astringency nestled beside warm amorous
classicism, the previously strong bond in Lennon
and McCartney’s song writing relationship was
now showing signs
of tension: Revolver would provide a final full
gasp of old-fashioned Beatle unity.”
David Leaf, an adjunct professor at UCLA’s Herb
Alpert School of Music, was the writer and
producer of the documentary, “You Can’t Do That:
The Making of ‘A Hard Day’s Night” and
co-wrote/directed/produced the feature
documentary, “The U.S. Vs. John Lennon.”
David Leaf: Less than a year after 1965’s
landmark Rubber Soul, which remains the Beatles
album that changed my life the most, came
Revolver, a record that unlike its predecessor
was much more diverse sonically (ranging from
the classically infused ‘For No One’ to the
experimental ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’), an album
that in retrospect is a microcosm of what would
come next (meaning Sgt. Pepper) and
perhaps indicative of the creative directions
(and differences) the group would fully express
two years later on The White Album.
“That said, in 1966, before there was a national
American rock press, we were all way too
innocent to know or understand that at the time,
the Beatles were growing up, not to mention
ingesting the mind-altering substances that
would come to define the rock world in the
“As a 12 or 13-year old, that was all beyond my
experience. I only knew how the music made me
feel, and I loved it. A lot. With their
touring/live performing days almost completely
behind them, on the verge of beginning to grow
apart personally, the Beatles were still
artistically in sync as a group, especially in
their desire to fully explore new musical
worlds, to truly embrace the recording studio as
an instrument to be mastered and used to express
the ideas swirling around their fertile creative
brains. Producer (Sir) George Martin and
engineer Geoff Emerick (his first album with the
Fabs) were only too happy to do everything
within their power (and that of the new
electronic gear) to bring those sonic
explorations to fruition.
benefit of hindsight, it’s also easy to hear
that Revolver’s diverse song and
soundscape was the key step from the
instrumentally almost-folkish, stripped-down Rubber
Soul to Sgt. Pepper, which all sounds
of a piece. And with the knowledge we now have
of the division of duties within the group, the
album also reveals the different musical
directions that John and Paul were exploring as
songwriters, the change in the balance of
writing (Paul becoming equally if not more
prolific than John) and with its lead-off track
(‘Taxman’) by George, an indication that he was
beginning (with two songs!) to really come into
his own as a songwriter.
“With Revolver at
its center, these three albums (remarkably
composed, recorded and released in less than two
years) remain the Beatles most musically
influential, important and arguably greatest
three consecutive albums. That kind of states
a turning point, released in the wake of the
Brian Wilson-produced classic Pet Soundsand
Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde, the
hallmark of an era of growth in popular music
where the industry itself was evolving from the
45 RPM single as the most commercially important
format to the moment when the album (as
represented by 1967’s Sgt. Pepper) became
the key frame for artistic expression in popular
“For me, as
I’ve grown up and older, my love for and
appreciation for Revolver has
exponentially expanded. The compositions,
arrangements and recordings have more than stood
the test of time. I now get how great this album
is. Still, regardless of what your favorite cuts
were/are on Revolver (my Top 5 have
basically remained the same for decades: ‘Got To
Get You Into My Life,’ ‘Eleanor Rigby,’ ‘I’m
Only Sleeping,’ ‘For No One,’ and ‘Here There
and Everywhere’), the album finds the Beatles on
the brink of bringing their musical revolution
to the masses.”(copyright DLP, Inc. 2016)
my favorite album by the Beatles. ‘And Your Bird
Can Sing’ is the track I love the most. It
reminded me of the Byrds.”
re-visiting Revolver 50 years on, I asked
authors, poets, musicians, writers, filmmakers,
engineers, recording artists, and deejays to
comment on it.
something important that’s easy to forget: in
1966, in the USA, Yesterday and Today came out
on June 20 and Revolver came out August
8. Revolver, that is, entered the world
while Yesterday and Today was just coming
off from five weeks at #1.
impossible in 1966 to hear Revolver outside
the context Capitol had established for it by
releasing this earlier package, now remembered
more for the ‘butcher cover’ controversy than
for its effect on its millions of American
an 11-track mishmash LP cobbled together by
Capitol from tracks that had been released as
singles and that appeared on the UK editions of Help!, Rubber
Soul and Revolver — yes, American
turntables spun ‘I’m Only Sleeping,’ ‘And Your
Bird Can Sing’ and ‘Dr. Robert’ seven weeks
before British turntables did. However, this
honestly-titled hodgepodge almost makes sense as
an album when heard as a companion piece to the
far more important, band-authorized Revolver. Y&T jumps
between genres almost as easily as the later
album would, mixing hard rock, soft rock,
psychedelia, country-western, and a string
quartet on one 27-minute platter.
“Even as a
teenage Beatle fan in 1966, I heard Y&T as
transitional, a souvenir of last year’s hits
(‘Day Tripper’) and a sign of things to come. Revolver made
the transition sharply clear even before I slit
the shrink-wrap: here was a black-and-white
art-collage on the front cover, on the back
cover an inky-black photo of the band wearing
shades indoors, no promo man’s liner notes, no
little ads for “Something New” or “The Beatles’
Story.” Then, despite the familiar Capitol
rainbow label, the disc delivered lyrics about
income taxes, lonely people dying, making love
all day long, knowing what it’s like to be dead.
There’s something that sounds like a children’s
record in there too. And that’s just side one.
“The teen I was couldn’t know, of course, that
1966 was the year the three creative forces in
the Beatles developed their own musical
identities to the point that only the eclectic
could be reasonably expected.
later, ‘this same group’ gave us a self-titled
double album with ‘Honey Pie’ and ‘Revolution 9’
on the same side. But who was this group, these
formerly lovable mop-tops we thought we knew,
who seem now to be in the middle of so much
controversy? Revolver is remembered as
the first time this question became relevant,
and that album performed a miracle. But
Yesterday and Today was the dress rehearsal for
Van Zandt: It
was extra notable by being the first album to
have three George songs while we in America (as
usual) lost three of the coolest tracks (‘I’m
Only Sleeping,’ ‘And Your Bird Can Song,’ and
‘Dr. Robert’-the second coolest after ‘She Said
She Said!’) as the American company continued to
turn every two albums into three. Oh, and one
more thing we should mention, they wouldn’t
decide to stop performing live until the next
disastrous tour a few months later but they may
have had a premonition at that point which
undoubtedly opened their minds to even more
adventurous artistic exploration.”
I sit here in my office listening to the
Beatles’ album Revolver on my laptop
while holding the vinyl in my hand. Yes it
occurs to me that just by looking at the cover
art you already knew the LP would be different,
and it was! As much as Rubber Soul influenced
everyone from Brian Wilson to The Byrds and on, Revolver was
the real experimental leap forward for the
Beatles. Here is where they really began singing
about things other than love and girls. Songs
like ‘Taxman,’ ‘Eleanor Rigby,’ and yes ‘Yellow
Submarine’ were taking their inspiration from a
very different place. Both lyrically and
musically they were provocative, and who exactly
was ‘Dr. Robert?’
“Having Ringo play along to a tape loop for
‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ was extremely inventive
and unheard of at the time, not to forget the
use of horns and strings and sound collage as
well. This is the Beatles pop art album, from
the multimedia cover to the eclectic points of
reference in the sound and lyrics it is in my
opinion the sound of things about to change not
only in music but in the world as we knew it.”
got to remember that Revolver starts with
George’s ‘Taxman.’ The album rocks hard. There
were more ballads on Rubber Soul. We
[Guess Who] did a television show 1966-1968 for
the CBC [Canadian Broadcasting Company] Let’s
Go. Sometimes we had to learn 12 covers in
an adjacent radio studio that were then
broadcast. We did ‘Got to Get You Into My Life.’
Later I sang ‘Yellow Submarine,’ complete with a
megaphone. We later did ‘Hey Jude’ and some of
our originals like ‘No Time.’”
let the cover art fool you. Klaus O.W.
Voormann’s perfectly pop-artfully
black-and-white bandscape houses sounds inside
which are absolutely nothing but
full-sonic-scale widescreen Technicolor in their
breadth, depth and scope. Thanks in no small
part to newly-hired recording engineer — make
that recording pioneer, in fact! — Geoff Emerick,
George Martin was suddenly able to refine then
enhance Paul McCartney’s, and especially John
Lennon’s aural imaginations as never ever
“No less an
authority as G. Harrison always claimed Rubber
Soul and Revolver as Parts One and
Two of the same album. But while the former was
certainly a giant step for mankind as the once
mop-tops wound down their big bang, one listen
to the first ten seconds of, for example
‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ — the first track the
band tackled in ’66, believe it or not! — we
realize that, once again, those Beatles were
leading us down all new paths.
marks the start of Lennon and McCartney — and
yes, Harrison now too — establishing their own
individual, not to mention highly
individualistic approaches to not only song
writing, but song crafting. The lilting Spoonful
of ‘Good Day Sunshine’ and the wholly Pet
Sound-ing ‘Here, There and Everywhere’ must
surely be our old pal Paul, through and through.
But the tart, sharp, cynically trebly ‘She Said
She Said’ and ‘And Your Bird Can Sing?’ That can
only be the Chief Beatle …post some heavy Psychedelic
Experiencereading, that is. Oh! And lest we
forget, the hitherto Quiet tax-evading Beatle
brings all things Indian finally to the fore on
‘Love You To’; the sitar no longer being mere
Norwegian wall decoration.
“All in all? Not at all bad for a band who not
that many months earlier, were still content
with Merseybeating the world into submission.
younger and/or less adventurous listeners out
there, none other than The Monkees magically
appeared scant weeks after Revolver’s
release to keep that happy-go-spunky spirit of A
Hard Day’s Night alive and well up the
charts. But for those ready and willing instead
to float upstream as it were, the Beatles’
latest thirty-four-minutes-forty-three served
notice that the future was to come in
twelve-inch as opposed to seven-inch slices,
songs were to sing more — much more — than
strictly 4/4 girl/boy, and you just might want
to leave Shea Stadium far, far behind in
preference to the nearest private, darkened room
and a set of quality headphones.
it is knowing.”
Beatles leapt to the future with the release of Revolver.
During this period they began utilizing studio
technology and orchestral instruments to expand
their sound beyond the standard electric and
acoustic guitars, bass guitar, drums and vocals.
string quartet had been introduced on
‘Yesterday’ (U.S. single release) and flutes
complement ‘You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away’ (Help! LP)
the Beatles embraced symphonic musical
instruments and world music elements in a big
way during sessions for Revolver and
continued to do so with every subsequent album
they created. Paul McCartney’s songs got the new
approach with the heavy brass of ‘Got To Get You
Into My Life’ and French horn as the solo
instrument enhancing his ‘For No One.’ McCartney
and George Martin doubled down on the strings
using an octet for ‘Eleanor Rigby,’ the first of
the group’s recordings not to include a Beatle
on musical instrument.
Harrison had gained much proficiency playing the
sitar since it’s ‘Norwegian Wood’ debut from
the Rubber Soul LP and his ‘Love You To’
features the sound of classical Indian music,
musicians and instruments (tabla, tamboura) for
the first time in the group’s canon. Harrison
had made great strides as a songwriter since his
first composition ‘Don’t Bother Me’ from the
‘With The Beatles’ LP and on Revolver he
has an unprecedented three songs with ‘Taxman’
as the stunning album opener.
“Technically Revolver added a much more
liberal usage of the audio compressor via the
Fairchild 660 and Altec 436 (both American
manufactured). Electric guitars, bass guitar and
vocals, pretty much everything but particularly
the drums were intensely compressed and limited.
Ringo Starr did some of his best work onRevolver. Highlights
include ‘Paperback Writer’ (US single release),
‘Taxman’ and my personal favorite ‘She Said She
Said.’ Ringo always mentions ‘Rain’ as his
interesting to note that the first song recorded
for Revolver was ‘Tomorrow Never Knows.’
John Lennon always set the direction and tone of
Beatles albums as his songs were invariably
attempted at the initial recording sessions.
“I worked with The Hollies at Abbey Road Studios
and Studio Manager Ken Townsend personally
walked me through how he invented ADT (automatic
double tracking) while he was Chief Technical
Engineer at Abbey Road during the bands entire
recording career. This was first implemented on
Lennon’s vocal track and on the final verse the
vocal was additionally processed through a
Leslie rotating speaker (normally used on the
Hammond organ) giving the performance an
otherworldly quality. The first time in history
the device was used for this purpose.
gadget introduced on Revolver was the VSO
(variable speed oscillator) and the Beatles used
this to great effect for the duration of their
recordings. It involves adjusting the speed of
the capstan motor of a tape machine during
recording, playback or both and it greatly
changes the timbre of the music. On ‘Tomorrow
Never Knows’ it can clearly be heard on John’s
vocal to give a thinner boyish sound. This was
also used to an even greater degree on ‘Rain’
(single release from the Revolver sessions).
“The use of
backwards recording made its first appearance on
the band’s records during Revolver as
well. George Harrison’s brilliant backwards
recorded lead guitar solos on ‘I’m Only
Sleeping’ and ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ and the use
of tape loops (both forward and backward
recordings) during the mix down process on a
typically recorded Beatles basic track made
‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ and Revolver their
most innovative pop record to date.”
warmth of Rubber Soul — cover art and
music — replaced with cold, hard, pen and ink,
black & white psychedelia-evoking isolation and
alienation on the front cover (other than
George’s out of synch cowboy get up) and an acid
trip eavesdrop on the back one, signaled an
album of schizophrenic impulses. What other ‘60s
rock group could start an album with a rich
man’s complaint about the British tax code,
follow it up with a string drenched song about
old age and loneliness and then move seamlessly
on to a trippy, dreamy, ground shifting one
infused with disorienting, backwards guitars ,
followed by a sitar and tabla slathered call to
love making? What other group could then latch
together a sublime ballad lifted by McCartney’s
finest melody (‘Here, There and Everywhere’)
with a delightful, child’s fantasy (‘Yellow
Submarine’) followed by a side-ending song
describing what it’s like to be dead?
“And that’s just the first side of the Beatles
best album (U.K. tracking). The second side is
equally epic and brilliantly at odds with
itself, beginning with another slyly trippy
number, centered with another song of alienation
followed by a bitch about the British health
care system! (who else could manage this and
keep the feet tapping?) and ending with a song
that leaves one in a cold, disorienting sweat
every play, even after fifty year’s worth! And
please let’s not forget one of George’s most
intriguing songs that also served as a shout out
to be heard above the Lennon-McCartney duopoly.
“1966 was the year when the ground gave way, the
old order crumbled and as usual during that
decade, Beatles led the way musically and
personal note, I was struggling to not get
thrown out of Cornell, trying to switch colleges
under a tension filled ‘you have one semester in
the division of unclassified students to get at
least a B average or you are out proviso,’
overseen by a dean whose last name was Rideout.
I was living with two kids I didn’t particularly
like, in the living room of their apartment, not
because they wanted me there, but because they
couldn’t afford the rent themselves. Though at
that point my life sucked on every level, Revolver provided
the barbed musical salve that got me through a
for me, is still the musical door that swings on
one side to the joyous, post-Kennedy
assassination release provided by The Beatles
and on the other side, to the darker, drug
drenched post ‘Summer of Love’ era that was
still a Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band away.”
Lennon once said that Rubber Soul was the
pot album and Revolver the acid. Whatever
part the psychedelic substance played it’s
obvious the Beatles’ music and consciousness
took a quantum leap on the latter record.
many sonic and musical innovations such as
Lennon’s voice through a Leslie speaker,
backwards guitars, tape loops, microphones
placed deep into the bells of horns, and a track
using all Indian instruments and musicians on a
pop record. The songs and performances on Revolver are
fantastic and so is the sound of the album. I
love the tone of the guitars and bright
splashing cymbals on ‘She Said She Said,’ as
well as the unorthodox time changes. Some of
McCartney’s greatest songs were on Revolver such
as ‘Here, There, and Everywhere,’ ‘For No One,’
and ‘Eleanor Rigby.’ George Harrison’s harmony
guitar parts on ‘And Your Bird Can Sing’ that
weave their way through the chord changes are
brilliant. George also asserted himself with one
of my favorite Beatle songs, ‘Taxman,’ which
powerfully opens the record.
mind-boggling that in a mere three years the
Beatles evolved from the innocence of ‘I Want To
Hold Your Hand’ to mature songs even profoundly
confronting the subject of death. Their previous
album Rubber Soul gave us a first glimpse
of the rock & roll album as an art form. Revolver brought
the concept to fruition.Revolver is the
album that set the stage for Sgt. Pepper widely
regarded as the Beatles’ greatest album. For me Revolver reigns
inside my primary memories of the Beatles’ Revolver,
which I came to as a teenager in the mid-70’s,
is an image of a brightly colored portable
turntable sitting on a chair in the bedroom of
my brother’s best friend. In the autumn of 1966
I was five, and some clear-sighted person in
marketing had realized the sales potential of
releasing ‘Yellow Submarine’ as a single aimed
at the hipper parents of the under-12
demographic. My little friends and I listened to
this track repeatedly, with relish, (but never
to my recollection turned it over to hear
“I was a
late bloomer in the ‘inner exploration’ realm,
but once in high school, Revolver’s
surreal collage cover was a clear invitation to
utilize it as a soundtrack for such journeys of
the head. What a departure from Yesterday and
Today’s bored, put-upon Beatles in a cheesy
pose they clearly thought was rubbish. The fuse
is lit in Revolver for the artistic,
creative individuating bomb that would carry
them, and us, both deeper into our own trips and
further out into the wider world. It’s
impossible for me to listen to Revolver now
without recalling sunny mornings in my first
apartment at the time of one’s life when
everything is better with a toke, and without
feeling especially grateful for George Martin’s
adventurous arrangements — hello, backward lead
guitar and electric sea birds!”
maybe Eleanor Rigby is really my favorite
Beatles song. McCartney ups the ante on the
meaning of loneliness, which takes me to the
graveyard every time. Ray Charles’ version is
just as good as the original, which is not an
easy thing to do. ‘The Quiet Beatle’ George
Harrison gets a bigger taste this time around —
more vocals and more sitar. And when did the
Beatles ever open up an LP with a George
Harrison song? You can hear the Beatles maturing
lyrically and musically on Revolver,
setting the stage for Sgt. Pepper’s
arrival the following year.”
remember hearing Revolver for the first
time the week it came out, when I was 12, and
being thrilled by the exuberance of ‘Taxman,’
‘Got To Get You Into My Life’ and ‘Good Day
Sunshine’ but now — five decades later and so
familiar with the overall picture — my ear tunes
to the tiny mesmerizing details, the sitar and
tambura, the harmonium, the clavichord, the tape
loops, the inward-looking mysteries of tracks
like ‘I’m Only Sleeping’ and ‘Tomorrow Never
Knows’: still fresh, comforting and wildly
Paul Body: Revolver is
50. Talking about the Revolver import
with extra songs. Came out the Summer of Love,
the band of course on the Sunset Strip. The
Beatles growth period had really started with Beatles
For Sale then Help! then Rubber
Soul and now an album named after a gun. It
was a louder than Rubber Soul. There were
always these rumors that the Beatles were going
to record in Memphis, that never happened but
there were soulful horns on ‘Got To Get You Into
My Life.’ The horns were cool but Macca’s bass
line was something else.
lot more sexy than Rubber Soul. Just
listen to ‘I’m Only Sleeping,’ slinky like
Monica Vitti walking near the Trevi Fountain,
all backwards guitars and stuff with Ringo’s
steady drumming. Revolvermight have been
George’s album. It was the album in which he
bloomed. ‘Love You To’ was World Music before it
had a name.
reason why Revolver was cool was because
it came out the year I graduated high school. I
wasn’t an adult but I wasn’t a school kid
anymore either. ‘Here, There and Everywhere’
always made think of one of my major crushes,
man did I have it bad for Evelyn Grimes. SUMMER.
Then there is the jingle jangle of ‘She Said She
Said,’ very Byrds like.
on Revolver has always been ‘And Your
Bird Can Sing.’ It’s perfect, more jungle jangle
but you can just about do the Funky Chicken to
it, propelled once again by Macca’s bass line.
Of course the Summer of ’66, will also be
remembered because that was when they did their
last shows. At this point, they weren’t
following, they were laying the road map for
others to follow. What great song ‘For No One
was.’ So was the Rockabilly bounce of ‘Dr.
Robert.’ We found out later that Dr. Robert had
those special pills.
time I heard ‘I Want To Tell You,’ George’s
song, it knocked me for a loop. By this time the
Beatles were out of the suits, they were totally
Carnaby Street. Just check out the back cover
of Revolver, granny glasses, puffed
sleeve shirts and George looking a bit like
Keith Richard. ‘Tomorrow Never Knows,’ more
world music from the Beatles, Indian influence.
My dear old great aunt couldn’t wrap herself
around ‘Tomorrow Never Knows.’ It wasn’t mop-top
everything. Again. As the Beatles had been doing
on a regular basis for a few years already. I
bought the album for $2.83 from Ben who owned Do
Re Mi Records on Pico Blvd in West LA. I rode
there on my purple Schwinn Stingray bike.
“The Klaus Voorman cover was stunning and led to
hours of close inspection. The photo on the back
of the Fab all wearing sunglasses was somewhat
spooky yet full of positive vibes at the same
time. Those DRUM SOUNDS! The punchy BASS SOUNDS.
The swirling vocals and biting guitars… George
Martin’s arrangements and production… All FAB to
“But it really boils down to the songs. And I
can’t think of another album in history that has
better ones! To this day it shines as a
brilliant project by the greatest and most
magical band in the history of the universe! It
is, in my opinion, quite probably the best album
was born in ‘67 and pushed on the swings to Revolver —
back then I thought their hair on the cover was
spaghetti! But now it doesn’t seem like a
coincidence that Revolver has that black
and white neo-realist album cover. The album —
which starts with ‘Taxes’ and ends with
‘Eternity’- — faces adulthood head on, and plays
like little black and white vignettes of Kitchen
“Death is ever-present here, from ‘Eleanor
Rigbys’ lonely urban graveyard scene to the
death-wish come-on in ‘Love You To’ to the final
repudiation of death itself on ‘Tomorrow Never
Knows.’ ‘Yellow Submarine’ is WW2 turned inside
out, and ‘She Said She Said’ introduces a whole
new kind of masculine wound — unbirth without
even the knowledge of death. You’re even advised
to declare the pennies on your eyes before you
hit the casket — yeah it’s wit, but it’s also
the recognition of civilization’s grave
demands. Then there’s the title of the album, a
play on the LP and the pistol, an instrument of
Life and an instrument of Death.
“The Beatles would always be great, of course,
but for my money they struck a daring balance
between Hard Truths of Reality and the Visionary
Beauty of Soul here that they never top.”
Harvey Kubernik has been a music journalist for
over 44 years and is the author of 8 books.
During 2014, Harvey’s Kubernik’s Turn Up the
Radio! Rock, Pop, and Roll in Los Angeles
1956—1972 was published by Santa Monica Press.
His 2015 and 2016 titles on BackBeat Books have
chronicled Leonard Cohen and Neil Young.
Select portions of Kubernik's work can be viewed
Earlier this century Kubernik was a featured
speaker discussing audiotape preservation and
archiving at special hearings called by the
Library of Congress. This decade he has been
seen in BBC-TV music documentaries on Queen,
Bobby Womack and Meat Loaf reaching a worldwide