Friday, August 22, 2008
A VISIT TO THE PAST
This is the present day Santa Monica Pier and the new Pacific Park amusement comple. It should not be confused with the classic Pacific Ocean Park that oopened on July 27, 1958 and was on a totally different pier a mile south of this. For a while Pacific Ocean park really competed with dear old Disneyland. This park although much smaller has a lot of charm and color.
Yesterday, August 21st, John Nugent and I decided on a day at the Santa Monica Beach. It was a beautiful summer's day on the sand and on the pier which is pretty damn amazing. It simply has more life and more color and more characters than you will ever meet anywhere. We had packed a really nice lunch and cold drinks and sat out in the sun for a couple of hours. Then we walked to the pier and played some amusement games and actually played 9 holes of miniature golf. I hadn't played miniature golf in at least 6 years. The concert that evening was really wonderful. First there was Gerry & The Pacemakers who's amazing hits from the 1960's were "A World Without Love" and "Don't let the Sun Catch you Crying. As unfathomable as it seems from the distance of over 30 years, for a few months, Gerry & the Pacemakers were the Beatles' nearest competitors in Britain. Managed (like the Beatles) by Brian Epstein, Gerry Marsden and his band burst out of the gate with three consecutive number one U.K. hits in 1963, "How Do You Do It," "I Like It," and "You'll Never Walk Alone." If the Beatles defined Mersey beat at its best in early 1963, Gerry & the Pacemakers defined the form at its most innocuous, performing bouncy, catchy, and utterly lightweight tunes driven by rhythm guitar and Gary Marsden's chipper vocals. Compared to the Beatles and other British Invasion heavies, they sound quaint indeed. That's not to say the group were trivial; their hits were certainly likable and energetic and are fondly remembered today, even if the musicians lacked the acumen (or earthy image) to develop their style from its relentlessly upbeat and poppy base. Gary formed the group in the late '50s featuring himself on guitar and lead vocals, his brother Fred on drums, Les Chadwick on bass, and Arthur Mack on piano (to be replaced in 1961 by Les McGuire). They worked the same Liverpool/Hamburg circuit as the Beatles, and ran neck and neck with their rivals in local popularity. They were signed by Epstein in mid-1962 (the first band to do so besides the Beatles), and began recording for the EMI/Columbia label in early 1963, under the direction of producer George Martin. Their first single was a Mitch Murray tune that Martin had wanted the Beatles to record for their debut, "How Do You Do It?" The Beatles did record a version (found on the Anthology 1 release), but objected to its release, finding it too sappy, and in any case more interested in recording their own, gutsier original compositions. It suited Gary's grinning, peppy style well, though, and went to number one before it was displaced from the top spot by the Beatles' third 45, "From Me to You." But there was more: next came Peter & Gordon-- wow do you remember "Lady Godiva" "A Knight In Rusty Armor" and "Woman" which was really written by Paul McCartney under a pseudonym. Then surprises: The Tremeloes performed "Silence is Golden" and Joan Baez made a special appearance. It was really a wonderful day.