Cultural Archeology: ’60s Radio Station Record Jacket Graffiti (more added June 15)

UPDATE: June 10,  contributions from David S, Tony, and Dubmart

UPDATE: June 11, contributions  from Doom Girl and Milan

UPDATE : June 13 great contribution from Joe L

Update June 14: all the way from Tokyo, contributions from Hiromasa N, a must see. More on Dick Buckley, and  legendary NYC  jazz  DJ Ed Beach. When you know whose hand is behind the jacket annotations, it takes on a whole new meaning.

update-1June 15: First Pressing Fundamentalist H.N. strikes again: Gigi Gryce/Signal misss-attribution to SAVOY

Ben L has sent me a great idea – build a collection of radio station jacket graffiti. Ideally with radio station stamp, track timings and hot picks marked up. Below Ben’s starter, radio station WHAT – What a great call sign – Finger Poppin’ is the DJ’s “COOKER”, followed by Cookin’  At The Continental. (my choice) Which would also be a COOKER were it not already COOKIN’. And who was Willis Perry?

A Trifecta – a betting term, successfully identifying the horses placed 1st, 2nd and 3rd, according to Ben:

  • Radio station stamp? Check. And what call letters, literally. WHAT, somewhere east of the Mississippi by the evidence of that initial “W,” but that’s as far as we’re getting with an ID on where this station broadcast from. I like to imagine a cool, beatniky voice intoning over the air, “You’re listening to W-H-A-T…[drag on cigarette or something else smokey]…and how…”. 
  • Name written on jacket in black marker? Check. (And why hasn’t LJC started an open source spreadsheet allowing readers to contribute which name scrawlers owned which records?)
  • What appears to be a faux autograph? Check, maybeA bit too spiderweby to tell what’s written in the pink ink exactly, but we’ll have to let the judges decide if the landing was nailed

It’s a perfect Trifecta You can smell 1960s, Ben gets it.

In the Blue Note promo review we also had these radio station scribblers: KUSP is a great name, always on the KUSP of something good. But how could they draw a red spiral over Washington’s face? Because it’s radio, like somone has a perfect face for radio, no one can see the cover. What matters is the voice.

Now this one, it is difficult to decide if its a radio station, or someone being vulgar, probably the first. But if WHAT is a great call sign for a radio station, KNOB certainly isn’t. (LJC Correction! a GREAT name  for a station- “Don’t Touch That KNOB!”)

The Review Copy below all but broke my heart. It’s my favourite most loved most expensive record, Freddie Hubbard, Going Up. When I go, it’s going with me, Tootin’ Khamen, prise it out my cold fingers.  And it’s chosen mostly for “BKGND”. Background FFS, criminal. Karioka is the “Second Best Cut”, but which is the best?  Asiatic Raes of course, everyone knows that, except it seems this DJ. Freddie’s best album, “background”, sheesh.

What is interesting is the casual way these covers were treated, merely tools of the trade. They were free, not collector’s items, working vinyl. Your listeners needed to know what’s new. DJs pick the killer tracks.

More  ADDITIONS since added to the original post:

David S has sent in this Van Gelder engineered copy of Soul Cookin’, defaced by the University of Southern California campus radio station. The sinister comment added by the DJ – “Jazz Only”, – “which gives you a flavor for the mix of music that a college radio station was/is expected to play.” says David.

The track pick , ticked, is “Theme From Mutiny On The Bounty”, which I sound-checked: film released 1962, opening theme, dramatic  scene-setter not  unlike opening theme in the Star Wars movies, only on water. Avast and belay – this is mutiny,  Mr Christian!  Seems an unlikely soul cooker from Jimmy Smith’s one time guitarist, Thornel (Club Baby Grand (1956) and others) but who knows. Perhaps like Spartacus, there’s a Love Theme from Mutiny On The Bounty lurking inside the movie, though I recall it was an old nautical superstition that  it was  bad luck to have a woman on board a ship. No problem to Hollywood: the boyish looking girl stowaway.

Next, Tony has thrown in our old friend Jacke McLean’s Let Freedom Ring, defaced by WESU,  Wesleyan University campus radio station, basement of Clark Hall, Middletown, Connecticut.

Three of four tracks are bulleted, (make up your mind, Weslyan!) Melody For Melonae, with a slightly bigger bullet. Red Felt pen shows  promising DJ behaviour, repeats artist name on the side, possibly to support a playlist queueing system by the turntable in a darkened studio. Coming up next, Jackie McLean’s new album . . . released April 1963,  Weslyan students show a modicum of good taste.

 

Dubmart has an intruiging contribution, also with a sea-going angle but without the mutiny. In addition to US commercial radio stations, and student campus radio stations, there were armed forces radio stations. In this case our pond was the Mediterranean, whose westerly point of entry from the bigger pond, the Atlantic, was guarded by Gibraltar off the tip of Spain. 1966 vintage.

Gibraltar Command DubmartSoul Station 1000px LJC

Dubmart notes of this stash: “I’d like to think they were playing tons of great black music to our service personnel in the sixties, but as they are all near mint including the Mobley I’m not sure they were actually played much” .

Forget “Storage Find!” Sealed!“, how about “‘W63rd DG, 60s British Armed Forces radio station copy, seems hardly played!” Not very complimentary of our boy’s musical tastes, It Ain’t ‘Alf Hot, Mum! – but one hell of a  find.

Doom_Girl has this little –  I nearly said “beauty”. Columbia Records service to radio stations, a ready-made pick-list pasted on the front for the DJ to check, complete with track timings. It is very professional, as you expect from Columbia, maybe a bit organised for a radio station DJ with red marker pen in hand, doodling during airplay.

Doom_Girl_Basie-KCFR-LJC-IMG_1305[8769]

Radio station KCFR – Kentucky Fried Ch. . ?  No, Colonel Sanders!:  Colorado Free Radio, for a time University of Denver, Colorado.  The hinterland of Wyoming and Utah, residents seem to have mistaken social distancing of 1m to mean 1 mile.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Milan has a collection below  from a Brussels DJ or prior owner with a very cryptic filing system. I put them side by side, to find three have the same code, initials and date.  A second commonality is a boxed stamp, simply  “N.U.F.” , the initials GP (four times) GC, and a  name G/ de Block.   But most important of all, thick red marker pen and willingness to write in large letters disfiguring  precious Blue Note jackets, true mark of a radio station disk jockey. Thank you Milan btw I’m jealous, what a collection!

Milan DJ Brussels LJC 1920px

qWhya_o[1] G de Block is not finished defacing precious records – there’s writing on the label to be done, dated 1968.  None of these record jackets  bear any promo stamps, and I can’t see any import duty or royalty stamps, so Mr De Block’s sources remain unknown.

UPDATE June 13: Joe L has some fascinating LPs from the collection of Chicago Jazz DJ Dick Buckley, who died just last year. Buckley’s collection amounted to over 8,000 LPs, and was auctioned by the family in alphabetically sorted boxes. As someone with an alphabetic filing system, I recognise the dilema of bidding a box of artists by lettter of the alphabet.  The richest seam in jazz should by rights be “M” (Mingus Mobley McLean, Morgan…many more) but other bidders would know that. Joe managed to bag a box of”B”, which is a good letter too.

“Broadcasting on  WAAF-AM, WAIT-AM, WBEZ-FM and others, Dick Buckley built a lifetime of programming on his massive inventory,  tracks embedded in his memory . Routinely, he would rattle off the names of sidemen on this recording or that one, then reach for the record and spin it, before soliloquizing on other sessions, famous or obscure, “

Dick-Buckley-2-Joe-L-1920px-LJCBuckley had an eccentric method of  marking his picks, with multiple colour highlighting, tick-marks, and symbols, some possibly with meaning, some perhaps just decorative, adding a splash of colour to austere black and white jacket liner notes.

Dick-Buckley-3-Joe-L-1920px-LJCThis is no sophomore scribbling, this is a lifetime of knowledge and love of the music,  a living diary of play-dates, track picks and  memory-joggers.  No museum-piece “Do Not Touch”,  but an extension of his programming and thinking,  covers at work, helping him keep track of 8,000 albums and the music within,  Writing On Cover but with a purpose.  Nice find, Joe, an interesting angle.

Buckley, The Influencer

Billboard reported on the radio stations and air personalities who had comparative ability to influence listeners to buy the singles and albums played on air.. The rating was in a different geographical group of stations, such as Atlanta, Cleveland Ohio, Providence R.I, Syracuse N.Y., San Diego, and Nashville among many others. Since the 1950’s manufacturers fitted radios into cars, drive time programming captured the working demographic that would afford home music players and buy LPs. Dick Buckley figured among the top influencers with WKDA station.

UPDATE June 14 –  London Calls, Tokyo Anwers! Hiromasa N has another Dick Buckley album to share: promo stamo, and Buckley’s signature multi-coloured track highlighting, Savoy 1201 Gigi Gryce – Monk, Gryce, Art Blakey, Percy Heath, some quartet:

H.N. notes that Buckley miss-attributed this album to SAVOY. As seen below, the 1st edition was on Signal Records S1201 and only later reissued by Savoy with a different cover.

Hiromaso has another rare beauty, BLP 1579 Sonny Clark Trio,  released in March 1958, this one stamped radio station VOICE OF JAZZ – KBLA 1490 KC 12 to 6 A.M. MON-SAT . If you knew who the DJ was for KBLA in March 1958, you could know who annotated the track list. What could the codes mean –  F, M+, MF, SS? The MF could be the cooker.

I thought to track down the MF-er DJ, but  the KBLA Voice of Jazz station identity trail disappears, as stations were bought and sold over the years, changed programming  and air personalities, call signs, AM and FM wavelength and music specialism. KBLA today is a Hispanic language broadcaster near LA, no relation to this KBLA.

Hiromasi also has two DJ embelished covers, which this time leave no doubt about the author of the encyclopaedic annotations – Ed Beach. Prestige US 1st issue of Tommy Flanagan’s Overseas, my god, what an album to have in your collection.

A guest post on Al’s wonderful Jazz Collector site in 2011 makes a tribute to Ed Beach. It is such a good story that I respectfully reprint a short section of the guest post here, as links so often disappear over time. You can read the whole guest post here.

A Tribute to Ed Beach, or How I Got Hooked into Jazz and Vinyl Collecting, By Dan Forté

Time: Mid-Late 1960s, Weeknights, live from 6-8 pm
Place: The Big Apple/ WRVR, 106.7 on the FM Dial
Cue-Up Opening Theme Music:  Wes Montgomery’s “So Do It” from his Oct. 12, 1960 Riverside LP Movin’ Along, RLP 342; 9342 Stereo
About 30 seconds into the theme, the imposing voice of our subject lets us know we’re listening to “Just Jazz, Ed Beach with you, for the first part of a two part feature on….”

And, like magic, we knew we were in capable, swinging hands and all was well with the jazz world. Unlike some other long-winded jazz jocks who liked to impress their listeners with their knowledge of jazz minutiae and didn’t know when to shut up and just play the music, Ed always knew it wasn’t about him. Rather, it was ALWAYS about the music.
Ed Beach passed away quietly on Christmas Day 2009 in Eugene, Ore. just three weeks shy of what would have been his 87th birthday.  If you dug jazz and lived in New York City from 1961-1976, you were blessed to hear “Uncle Ed” and his Just Jazz program on radio station WRVR, call letters standing for Riverside Radio, as in the Riverside Church, with studios located in upper Manhattan at 85 Claremont Avenue.
Ed was trained as an actor and he also had an encyclopedic knowledge of jazz. Every time you listened to his meticulously researched show, you knew you were in for a treat.  For every live, two-hour program that Ed produced,

He put in more than six hours of research, air checking and timing-out each and every track, always giving credit where credit was due, mentioning track names, recording dates, sidemen, album titles, and record labels. His shows were such a huge hit among the NY jazz cognoscenti, that legions of Ed’s listeners took to taping his two-hour JJ broadcasts instead of buying the vinyl he played, thereby depriving jazz musicians of income.  As a result, Ed, interviewed in an April 12, 1964 piece by Sherwin Smith in The New York Times Magazine, implored his listeners to continue supporting jazz and its musicians by buying their LPs and to refrain from taping his shows.

The Just Jazz phenomenon was an exhaustive audio archive culminating in more than 570 shows totaling 2,112 hours and covering artists literally from A-Z:  from bassist Ahmed Abdul-Malik through pianist-composer, Denny Zeitlin and of course, everyone in between, with “Old Uncle Gabchin” at the helm of each and every broadcast.

Personally, when it comes to jazz, I always like to say my father planted the seed but Ed Beach was my on-air professor of continuing education.  Now in my mid fifties, I stumbled upon Ed and WRVR quite by accident.  It was 1968, and, as a teenager, having become disillusioned with the acid-rock movement, began to channel surf on my hi-fi and came across the opening theme of Beach’s show by guitarist Wes Montgomery as well as the show’s under theme (also by Wes:  “D-Natural Blues” from The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery:  January, 1960; Riverside RLP 320; 1169 Stereo). I was floored by Wes’s unorthodox octave and single-note playing with his thumb and shot-off a quick letter to Uncle Ed inquiring about Wes’s recordings.  Wes tragically passed away in June of 1968 of a heart attack at age 45.  In his own inimitable way, Ed, not knowing I was a teenager, responded on WRVR stationery (I still have his letter) stating the following:

“Dear Mr. Forté:
I don’t know where you buy your records, but the Schwann Record catalog lists numerous LPs by Montgomery from Riverside to Verve to A&M.  Hope this helps.
Sincerely,
Ed Beach”

Unbeknownst to Ed, this was the start of my over 40-year, jazz vinyl collecting odyssey.  I began to spend hours (and money) scouring the dusty LP bins in Sam Goody, King Karol, EJ Korvette and of course, the out-of-print Mecca for jazz in NYC, Dayton’s, for Wes Montgomery albums. Once I collected all of his vinyl output, I began to jot down more and more choice LPs that Uncle Ed played on his Just Jazz shows and my jazz record collection began to multiply quicker than rabbits. As for WRVR, the station eventually went to an all-country music format in September 1980 (the changeover was shocking because no one expected it).  One moment, jazz DJ Batt Johnson was playing Mingus’s “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat,” the next moment the station was spinning Waylon Jennings’s “Are You Ready for the Country.” The station’s call letters also changed to reflect the switch: WKHK.

(The post continues, and concludes below)

Before Ed died, I told him that countless jazz lovers owed him a huge debt of gratitude for his dignity, integrity, irreverent, dry humor and most important, for instilling in us a lifelong love of jazz.  Amazingly, although he was behind a microphone continuously for 15 years in a major market like New York City, Ed never really knew how many lives he touched and inspired.  Mine, of course, being just one of them….
Whether known by his many nom de plumes as “Ashley Seadrift,” “Sacheverell Seaworthy,” “Old Uncle Gabchin” or “Sam Seashore,” Ed Beach will always be a special part of my life. On behalf of all the others whose lives he touched, we will be forever grateful.  Thanks, Ed, rest in peace.  To paraphrase his immortal words as he went into a dreaded on-air commercial:  “Yeah, let’s break it right ‘ere….”

Keep them coming, and thanks for these.

Collector’s Corner

It’s not easy being a real DJ (or even a pretend one, from recent comments ) In this performance-killing world today. it may be some time until you pick up another 10k spinning a celebrity evening yacht party in Cannes, the fall-out of winners and losers is all so unexpected. Airline pilot retrain as a home delivery driver, I see a great future.

If you have any ’60s radio station graffiti jackets in your jazz collection, the worse the better, email me pictures (address in banner under “Contact LJC”), and I’ll add them. Otherwise this collection is going to be very very small. This is not prissy mint minus in  shrink! territory, this is cultural archeology.

American Radio is one of the big reasons jazz happened, something to celebrate. It takes a lot of knowledge and judgement  to write the word “COOKER” next to one track. That’s a real skill, almost as important as knowing which way to twist your cap.To turn people on to artists and their new releases, so those artists could eat – or in some cases, at least afford their next fix. That’s essential work.

We need more source material of this a neglected field, Ben L gets it, may be you can contribute some knowledge and pictures of its history, before it all disappears. Now, whre did I put the big red marker pen?

LJC

 

15 thoughts on “Cultural Archeology: ’60s Radio Station Record Jacket Graffiti (more added June 15)

  1. Without digging out my copy of 1579 to check the codes F, M, MF, SS could be the tempo, in a past life as a funk DJ I used to write similar on 7″ sleeves and still use a similar system when compiling albums, fast, medium, medium fast, not sure about SS, slightly slow? I guess I need to listen and see if that makes sense now.

  2. Regarding De Block/N.U.F.: these records originate from the collection of Walter De Block, who was not from Brussels but from the Antwerp area. He did compile jazz radio broadcasts in the 1970s for the Belgian Radio (BRT), I have some of his playlists in old magazines. This is also where the mysterious cataloguing system comes from, I believe that the N.U.F. was the in-house music library service of the BRT. De Block was also a notorious record dealer, who built an incredibly big collection by trading new Japanese and OJC reissues for original pressings. I’ve heard some incredible stories from older collectors who used to visit his house to buy records. His collection was apparently sold to Japan very quickly after his death.

    • Fabulous insight, thank you, Jazztimeeurope. The untold story is how in the 80’s and 90’s US and European radio station libraries disposed of their promo vinyl , seen as redundant and occupying valuable space. Dealers must have bought them up for a song as a job-lot, and filtered them out to thevinyl collector market. I have a few British BBC Radio Library stamped records which followed that route. Collectors often mention the role of certain London record store, Mole Jazz, that exported all originals to Japan, in return importing Japanese reissues. Are you out there, Andy W.?

      • I believe that a large part of the BBC library sold via a certain London shop, (not necessarily the one you refer to), was stolen, I hit a couple of small local radio stations, nothing exciting and one had written across the entire front of every sleeve, vinyl was mint though. Perhaps the biggest library disposal was Thames TV, people who went said it was insane, entire label runs, I did get some nice soundtracks from my local BBC library, no idea where the rest of it went and when my local public library sold off their vinyl I didn’t see any of their Mosaic box sets, did get some soundtracks and world music though.

  3. I don’t mind some radio station scribbling on the rear, as long as the structural integrity of the cover is preserved. I am much more concerned about sharp corners and lack of heavy ringwear than some writing on the (back) cover.

  4. I bought a chunk of the lps from one of the London hospitals in house radio stations when they went all digital, probably Barts in 1999ish. One of the black patients requested a Coltrane track whilst I was rifling through the records. I wished I’d gone up to his ward to say hello.
    The excessive scribbling is surely to stop people stealing the lps to sell no?

  5. I once held a copy of Nina Simone – In Concert on Phillips and it would have been a stellar addition to this conversation. The tracklisting comments went something like this:

    I Loves You, Porgy 2:18 — OK to play
    Plain Gold Ring 5:30 — OK
    Pirate Jenny 6:42 — NO
    Old Jim Crow 2:10 — Not to be played
    Don’t Smoke In Bed 5:30 — OK
    Go Limp 6:55 — Not to be played
    Mississippi Goddam — Do not play

    The reason I did not buy it was because the store owner wanted $40-50 for it.

    • Ah, the inked comments alerting DJs what tracks would get your station’s license pulled for airing cuss words. Good stuff.

  6. So you made me look. I have a bunch of promos, but most of them are clean, aside from the promo stamp. I do have an original pressing of 1513 that someone apparently lost or destroyed the jacket and drew a new cover for in ballpoint pen, but that’s more sad than anything else. I hope you get some pictures. I know collectors hate this stuff, but I think it’s an interesting part of history.

  7. i like records like this, though the swirl i could live without. it puts them in the appropriate context.

  8. Hi LJC
    Tough one.. know i must have some more and if so i will send pics later
    And i hope KRHM was a radiostation afterall
    Best regards Viktor Dongelmans
    [Image]

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    Verzonden vanuit Outlook Mobile

    ________________________________

  9. I just discovered that the FCC – the U.S. agency in charge of regulating the airwaves – has on their Web site a search function for radio station call letters past and present (http://licensing.fcc.gov/prod/cdbs/pubacc/prod/sta_sear.htm) . Using that, I found that WHAT was an AM station broadcasting out of Philly and had a fairly interesting history, though one that ended up being typical. It was pioneering white-owned station that hired black Americans as on-air voices at the station in the 1940s, but and then ended up squashed in the media mergers of the 2000s. More here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WHAT_(AM)

    There were, oddly enough, multiple radio stations with the KNOB call letters. “You’ve got your hands on the KNOB – now don’t change that dial.”

    As a former high school/college radio DJ decades ago who still loves local radio (when it’s available), the history of jazz radio is fascinating to me. I can imagine some late-night DJ, maybe stoned, idly in the space of 30 seconds while waiting for the song to end, making Lou Donaldson a little more psychedelic. And whichever DJ termed Freddie Hubbard as “background” was probably so soul-deadened he probably went on to management.

  10. I know Willis Perry. He was a deejay in Atlanta, bought a bunch of records from him for my little used LP shop. A lovely, lovely man. Customers knew they were buying a quality record in excellent shape when they bought a Willis Perry.

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