The Classic Rock Chronicle

Issue #6 May 12, 2024

Everything Classic Rock... the CRocker's Voice

Issue #6 - Update on voting for the Top 10 Classic Rock Songs. Boston's Proto-Punk Scene...Chicago Sounds

Issue #7 - Boston Blazz Trip... Led Zeppelin #3, Jethro Tull, Chicage, J.Geils Blues Band,Velvet Underground and Allman Brothers Band. The early trip to Woodstock to see if all this was real.

Issue #8 - Santana Part #2... The Road to Woodstock 1969 and the San Francisco Sounds and the relationship to the Boston Sound evolution

The Classic Rock Chronicle was created to provide regularly updated Content about the "Goings-on" of the vast, eclectic, and important period of Classic Rock from 1964 to 1984... Come along and enjoy the ride, Mates HOORAH Rock On ♪♪♪

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This Issue is an attempt to explain the Sounds that I heard at the Blues and Jazz Clubs in Boston that were evolving into new approaches to Blazz innovation... moving from multi-part Harmonies toward the use of Riffs and Vamps. We will deal with the Sounds of "Proto-Punk" evolution by the Bands that started it and a list of the Major Rock Bands who fiddled with it.

Update on Finding a Site

My first venture to Woodstock was in April 1969 after I received a call from my Engineer Friend, Butch, who worked for the Telephone Company in Boston... Someone from New York Telephone Co. had called him to see if he knew where I was and if we could come up there to discuss something about a Concert to be held there in August.

Woodstock was an Artist Colony started in the early nineteen hundreds as a getaway for wealthy Artists... apparently, the Promotors of the Miami Pop Festival in 1968 had made a plan to build a recording Studio there to satisfy Bob Dylan and friends.

All he knew was that the Elders of Woodstock had nixed it and there was much opposition by the Citizens... the Promotors had already starting selling tickets and we were in a monstrous Pickle.

As there was nothing we could help engineer so we spent the night with a relative and really enjoyed the atmosphere of the Town... we did not get to see Bob but the Jazz was great at the Hamlet of Zen. To be continued in Issue #7.

Thoughts About the Sounds I Heard in Boston and Chicago January 1969

FLASHBACK... From The Chronicle Issue # 3

The Concert on Sunday, the 26th, started with the Boys weaving their way through the frenzied crowd that turned into a nightmarish experience of wild Youth going crazy over Led Zep… I felt like Jimmy Page's opening salvo solo would go on forever. When they played "Communication Breakdown", the Crowd went absolutely berzerk (we were surprised that no one seemed to get hurt) and many young Boys were bashing their heads against the stage. We could feel the whole building shaking... like it was going to disintegrate. After a break from the 1st set, the Crowd harmonized "More, More, More" at a sound level that should have broken vocal cords. This continued all through the 2nd set which was quite different with more improvisation... and the crowd forced them to do a 3rd... Holy mollie, we were worn out and sweated through our underwear... really!

The show ran for 4½+ hours with many still banging their heads against the stage goading the rest who were still berserk. Anyway, I had not felt this wasted since my Graduation 3-day adventure and it was time to go home and see my Baby Girl. We wandered around in a daze not feeling any of the cold and crawled into bed around midnight... damn, why did I schedule a 6 am flight (stupid nutcake).

The plane ride home Monday at 6 am was a blur, but I was able to transcribe my crumpled pile of beer-stained notes and fell into a deep sleep. I awoke, looked out the window, and knew it was not Milwaukee... OMG, that is Chicago. I asked my seat neighbor, what was up? He said we were diverted about an hour ago. After I had a Bloody Mary, we struck up a conversation about Boston... he said that my notes had fallen on the floor and he had picked them up and noticed the words Led Zep. I told him about the craziness there... he remarked how serious the Drug problem was getting in Boston (no F'ing Shite)... he said the Boston Music Scene was deafening and would not allow his Son to play that crap at home!

When I landed, I called Tommy, another Friend from my 3rd Rock Band at U of Wis... he picked me up and we almost got in a wreck while I was pontificating about the adventure. I took a long shower at his place 3 blocks off Michigan Avenue downtown. After lunch at the Playboy Club, we toured Rush Steet which was a Rockin' good time. The weather was shitty and I decided to stay the night and drive to Madison in the morn... we had "Deep Dish" (not my Fav) pizza at the Uno that night and hung at Mr. Kelly's until midnight when I finally shut down my Music adventure for January 1969... however, it was just the beginning, to say the least!


My Thoughts about What I Learned from the Sounds of Boston and Chicago

Let me be very clear as to why I am writing this epistle about Punk Rock. I had managed Bands since I was 13 years old tagging along with the growth of Rock Music as it evolved from the influence of Blazz and the great Black Musicians who showed us White Boys the way to go. One thing that I also clearly understood was the Technology Revolution that was underway and how the Sounds that came from the Electric Guitar had evolved so far... I, seriously, could not get the Sounds out of my mind from Jimmy Page's famous "Dragon" Telecaster, which was the main Guitar used on Led Zeppelin's debut album in 1969. It was a 1959 FenderTelecaster that he had decorated with a mirrored finish and a dragon painted on the body.

Next, listening to the Sounds of the Blazz Guitarists, I could hear the evolution of their Sounds as the genesis of Page's outrageous Booms, Chimes, and Fit... I spent hours listening to Butch's frivolous attempts on his Tele to recreate some of them. My notes of this session included the terms to describe the Sounds: impossible, clear, crisp... having a sharp, biting, rich, organic, and resonant Sound... dynamic, textured, and overdriven.

Note: Hearing the Lyrics is another Issue... I could barely hear them over the Noise that was "Biting my Ears"

Now, here are my notes on the Sounds I heard on Rush Street and the Southside of Chicago... no, Jimmy Page was not there but hearing the depths of what is called "Chicago Blues" Sounds was just as astounding. Key characteristics of the Chicago blues scene include: the heavy use of Electric guitars, Basses, Drums, Pianos, and amplified Harmonicas, giving it a more raw, more powerful Sound compared to Acoustic Blues style... an incorporation of influences from Jazz, Gospel, and Urban Life (Sounds of the City) into the lyrics and musical styles.

Rush Street Blazz Clubs moved off of central Chicago Loop with the exception of the Playboy Club which hosted numerous Wannabee Groups that played mostly during the daytime. I had heard the Chicago Transit Authority at the Club "Rush Up" in 68 (the name changed to Chicago after migrating to the LA scene)... but many new Clubs were playing the likes of The Kinks, Todd Rundgren, Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention, Uriah Heep, and the Jeff Beck Group who would stop by the Rush Up Club to party and hang out when playing in Chicago. We had dinner at Mister Kelly's where the food was enhanced by Blazz Fusion which reminded me of Boston.

Time to sum up the music Scenes of Boston and Chicago in January 1969... on my way to the Summer of 69.

  • Drugs were a serious part of the Youth of Boston whereby the large masses were clearly open containers... Chicago was much more straight on my second visit (I was there for the for the 68 Convention Riots) and there were Police everywhere on Rush Street... I saw no visible use of open drugs, but there were definitely Cocaine users at the Playboy Club (without incidents).

  • Boston Clubs were more located throughout the City while Rush Street was more concentrated and a definite tourist destination... The Blazz Sounds of Boston were leaning more towards innovative Fusion while Chicago seemed more traditional, but certainly had the Fusion Bug. Pop Music was more prevalent on Rush Street but the combination of Proto-Punk (see below) and Blazz was the scene in Boston.

  • Without a doubt, Boston's Charm was still the predominant theme for its Music Scene while Rush Street was much more commercial with a big City atmosphere... they both had Playboy Clubs but Chicago's was rated to me as a 9 while Boston's was a 7. All in all, Boston was my choice to hang out while Chicago was a stopover visit.

  • Regardless, I had 2 or 3 more visits planned to Boston as the Strike was kept alive and nasty... I had no worries about my family as the grandmothers were always there to help out. Little did I know at the time that the BIG event in August would affect my view on the Music evolution that was peaking in the Summer of 69.

Boston's Proto-Punk Movement of the late 60s

I have to admit that at this stage of my Music Appreciation level was one of confusion... where in the Hell was all this innovation of Sounds going... apparently I was at a serious turning point of innovation that was the result of the Beatles and the British Invasion. it seemed like all of the natural Bands were adapting to Blazz, even Country taking the Guitar to exceed what had ever been done before. (I will cover all this in detail later)

So let us start by covering "Proto-Punk" and its impact on what would become Classic Rock... what I first heard with the "Unbridled Youth" in Boston.


The invention of the term “Punk Rock” is credited to critic Dave Marsh who used it in 1970 to describe the Band “Question Mark and the Mysterians”, who scored a major hit with their song “96 Tears.” Over the next few years, the term was used occasionally to describe several American bands, mostly active in the mid-to-late ‘60s, playing music that today would then be classified as Garage Rock: a ragged, highly energetic and often amateurish style of raw, loud and energetic Rock Music.

Proto-Punk is a term used to describe several Performers who were important precursors of the Punk Rock movement and influential to those who followed. Their varieties of Music span the spectrum from the Avant-Garde Pop of the Velvet Underground, the dirty Detroit Rock n Roll of The Stooges and the MC5, to the political messages of Patti Smith.

Typically, people did not consider Proto-Punk bands themselves as Punk, and they rarely regard it as a distinct musical genre, as the precursors of punk rock came from an array of backgrounds, styles, and influences.

Most Proto-Punkers are Rock and Roll Performers with the Garage Rock cited as a foundational influence. Some Proto-Punk Bands, particularly in the United Kingdom, also incorporate elements of Glam Rock, UK Pub Rock, or even Prog Rock into their music. (For example, Roxy Music, who were recognized as both Glam and Prog Rock, belonged to this category.) Also, there were German Artists who influenced Punk Rock called “Krautrock.”

In other words, Wannabee Bands in America and Europe were influenced by Sounds from outside Rock and Roll. Genres such as Classical Music, Avant-Garde, Reggae (especially influential on English Punk), traditional Irish music (especially Rebel songs), and Blazz Rock Fusion influenced the evolution of Punk Rock’s wide range of Sounds.

The Relationship of Punk and Blazz

But, it all began in San Francisco and Boston with what Critics call “Proto-Punk” that grew out of “Garage Rock” Bands such as Velvet Underground, MC5, and the Stooges

Early Proto-Punk Rockers incorporated elements of Blazz into their music in several key ways:

  • Moving from traditional rock multi-chord progressions to riffs and one- or two-chord vamps, which have roots in blues compositions based on short cycles and vamps.

  • Taking an alternative approach to vocal performance styles influenced by Blues vocalists. Punk singers often adopted a rawer, more aggressive style akin to blues shouters.

  • Keeping certain melodic approaches from Blues, such as use of Pentatonic Scales and monophonic textures. Punk melodies and Guitar lines frequently drew from the Blues scale and single-note Riffs.

  • Imitating jazz musicians through extended guitar solos and improvisational sections, as practiced by groups like the MC5, Stooges, and Television, Jimi Hendrix, and Jerry Garcia were key influences.

  • Incorporating Jazz instrumentation like Saxophones, as heard on recordings by the Stooges, X-Ray Spex, and James Chance.

The key aspects of Proto-Punk Rockers include:

  • A raw, very aggressive and simplistic Rock Songs that are somewhat Amateurish and Unpolished Sounds

  • A truly attitude of “Anti-establishment” using Lyrics dealing with current subjects that are not acceptable by the Elders of the Youth

  • Bands with a conscious “Subversiveness” and Awareness” of their “Outsider” status… clearly they did not fit into the perceived Mainstream Culture

Proto-Punk simplified Song structures into Riffs and Vamps, Melodies, Vocals, and Improvisational Elements... short, fast, aggressive Song structures with distorted Riffs following specific patterns, simple shouted Melodies, and an intentional rejection of musical complexities. Its connections to the Blues and Jazz inspired many early Porto-Punk Musicians... the relationship between Punk’s Blazz Roots and its Strategies is central to the eventual Punk aesthetic.

Who were the early Rock Bands that dabbled in what would be called Punk:

Ritchie Valens 1958 version of the Mexican folk song "La Bamba", due to the Song's simplistic three-chord structure and the aggressive Vocals relative to the

The Kingsmen "Louie, Louie" (1963) uses "Stop-Time" Rhythm

The Kinks "You Really Got Me" (1964) is built around "Power Chords" (Perfect fifths and Octaves)

The Stooges "No Fun" (1969) Album with Avant-garde, free-form songs

Pink Floyd "Interstellar Overdrive" features long sections of "Free-form" improvisational Instramentals

The Who "My Generation" (1965) Song's lyrics comprise a distilled statement of "Youthful Rebellion"

The Rolling Stones "Got Live If You Want It" Album

In Summary... The first Proto-Punk group was the Velvet Underground, for a variety of reasons: their boundary-shattering lyrical content, their use of feedback, distortion, and white noise, their unpredictable (yet song-centered) experimentalism, and their amateurish technique. Emerging around 1969, the raucous, almost melodic rock of the MC5 and the Stooges did more to set the sonic blueprint for punk than any other bands.

In the early '70s, the New York Dolls kickstarted what would become the New York punk scene with their raw, Stonesy rock and glammed-up image; around the same time, some small-scale recordings featured soon-to-be-Punk Poets Patti Smith, Richard Hell, and Television's Tom Verlaine.

Most of the British artists who could be considered proto-punk were also part of the Glam Rock scene in Liverpool... which inspired many future Punks with its simple, crunchy Guitar Riffs, its outrageous sense of style, and its Artists' willingness to sing with British accents (not to mention the idiosyncratic images of David Bowie and Roxy Music.

Willie’s Top 10 Personal Classic Rock Songs:

1. “Take it Easy” (1972) Eagles - Jackson Brown and Glen Fry

2. "(I Can't Get NO) Satisfaction" (1965) Rolling Stones - Mick Jagger and Keith Richards

3. "Free Bird" (1974) Lynyrd Skynyrd - Allen Collins, Ronnie Van Zant

4. “Proud Mary” (1969) Credence Clearwater Revival - John Fogerty... covered by Tina Turner

5. "Roll Over Beethoven" (1956) Chuck Berry - Chuck Berry... covered by ELO

6. "Kashmir" (1975) Led Zeppelin - Jimmy Page with Robert Plant and Jon Bonham

7. “Evil Woman” (1975) Electric Light Orchestra - Jeff Lynne

8. "American Woman" (1970) Guess Who - Band Members with Randy Bachman

9. "Hotel California" (1977) Eagles - Don Felder, Don Henley, Glenn Frey

10. "Layla” (1971) Derek and the Dominos - Eric Clapton, Jim Gordon

Community Voting as of 5/12/2024

1. "Stairway To Heaven" (1971) Led Zeppelin Jimmy Page and Robert Plant

2. "Hotel California" (1977) Eagles - Don Felder, Don Henley, Glenn Frey

3. "(I Can't Get NO) Satisfaction" (1965) Rolling Stones - Mick Jagger and Keith Richards

4. "Bohemian Rhapsody" (1975) Queen - Freddy Mercury

5. "Free Bird" (1974) Lynyrd Skynyrd - Allen Collins, Ronnie Van Zant

6. "Won't Get Fooled Again" (1971) The Who - Pete Townshend

7. "Dream On" (1973) Aerosmith - Steven Tyler

8. "Smoke On The Water" (1973) - Ritchie Blackmore and Band

9. "Purple Haze" (1967) - Jimi Hendrix

10. "Comfortably Numb" (1980) Pink Floyd - David Gilmore

Now, never in my wildest Dreams do I expect ANYONE to agree with my List... and that is the Point!

So, here is how to play this Game... you must sign up for the free Chronicle Newsletter... you will receive a form to submit your Classic Rock Profile to get a password that will be used to access future Member Content... you will then receive a form to enter your Top 10 personal Classic Rock Songs to submit.

My system will collate all submissions and publish a new List weekly for 4 weeks until the final List is tabulated and placed in the List Archives where new Members can post theirs and I will repost it in a future Newsletter so we all can see how it evolves. Also, in a June Issue, I will post my Top 10 Classic Rock Bands to all existing subscribers to repeat the process... I will do one a Month after that to build a File for all Members to access.

I am certain there will be discussions in the Newsletter Blog that is planned to be ready by July I... Enjoy, Mates...

Willie Rock On ♪♪♪

Upcoming Issues of the C hronicle

This a partial list and by no means final... send your request over Messenger on my Facebook page... William W. Nelson

  • The Woodstock Series

  • The J. Geils Blues Band evolution

  • The Eagles Series

  • The Santana Series

  • The Led Zeppelin Series

  • The Aerosmith Series

  • Credence Clearwater Revival

  • Lynyrd Skynyrd

  • The Allman Brothers

  • Fleetwood Mac

  • Blues/Jazz Rock (Blazz) Fusion Evolution

  • Proto-Punk Evolution

  • The History of Modern Music

  • Country Rock/Christian Rock/Souther Rock Fusion

  • Music Theory III (Listening)

  • How Wannabee Musicians Deal with the Music Industry

  • The Elements of Good Songs

  • How to Remaster a Song by Listening

  • Top 10 and Top 40 All-time Classic Rock Themes (Voting)

  • The Electric Light Orchestra

  • George Harrison and the Traveling Wilburys

  • Eric Clapton

  • The Guess Who

  • Steely Dan

  • Buddy Holly

  • Chuck Berry and the Influencers of Classic Rock


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