Maybe a week or so ago, I wrote about the central role a Beach Boys-Chicago concert played in the life of a high school graduating class in Massachusetts.
While I wait for dinner to digest so I can go running, I’m gonna toss out a couple other tidbits related to that particular concert.
The absolute final song of the night? “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” I wonder who sang lead on that one; Terry Kath was about the only guy in either band I could imagine doing it justice.
I’ve always been surprised at the number of artists who covered “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” within a decade of its release — Johnny Winter, Peter Frampton, Leon Russell and a young Billy Joel, to name a couple more.
It’s not one of those Joe South or Jimmy Webb songwriter-for-hire songs that people can easily put their own stamp on. It’s pretty heavily freighted with the tone and attitude of the guys who wrote it, not to mention the increasing social and political tensions of its time.
In short, I have trouble imagining it sounded convincing being played by two soft-pop bands on a school’s-out night in Foxboro in ’75.
But, the kids of Norwood High would probably disagree with me.
– The Beach Boys-Chicago collaborations of the ’70s were made possible, in part, through donations from viewers like you. (I’m sorry; once I started to write that sentence I couldn’t steer it away from the obvious ending.)
They were made possible, in part, because both groups were briefly under the wing of manager-producer James William Guercio.
Guercio was a former professional musician himself, with a stint in Frank Zappa’s early Mothers of Invention on his resume.
And on the big summer tour of ’75, he got into the act, serving as the Beach Boys’ onstage bass player. (The Boys’ nominal bass player was hors de combat that summer, and his once and future replacement, Bruce Johnston, was on several years’ leave.)
I don’t know what that experience was really like; it could be Guercio had two separate headaches every day.
From afar, it seems like a rare simultaneous triumph on the business and artistic sides of music. By day, Guercio was a doer of million-dollar deals; by night, he was sweating under the footlights in front of tens of thousands of fans.
I can’t imagine too many people doing that. Jay-Z, maybe, but not most of your well-known ’70s and ’80s rock types.