Tag Archives: Radio

Rodney on the ROQ

If Phil Spector was LA’s ’Tycoon of Teen’, scenester, DJ and die hard music fan Rodney Bingenheimer was it’s ’Mayor of the Sunset Strip.’

Anyone with an in-depth interest in the rich musical heritage of Los Angeles, will know the extent to which Bingenheimer has championed local acts since 1976 on his legendary ‘Rodney on the ROQ’ show on local station KROQ. Sadly, this safe haven of cool music on the airwaves is no more with Bingenheimer’s final show having aired on Sunday; apparently, his show was put to rest due to changes at the station that inexplicably didn’t leave room for him and his wide-ranging musical taste.

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Rodney and crew at the Strip during the 70s

My reason for writing about the show’s cancellation is of course the fact that Bingenheimer is a long-time champion of California-based 60s pop & rock, with songs produced by Phil Spector being especially close to his heart. For many years he used the Modern Folk Quartet’s bouncy ‘This Could be the Night’ as the show’s signature song and the show was also featured heavily in filmmaker Binia Tymieniecka’s 1983 documentary about Spector.

Rodney Bingenheimer left, Phil Spector right.

Off the air, Bingenheimer seems to have been within Spector’s very limited and close-knit inner circle during the 70s and all the way up until the Lana Clarkson case. Even as far back as 1966 Bingenheimer had the possibility of keeping a close eye on Spector’s sonic adventures, famously being present at the recording of ‘River Deep, Mountain High.’ Here is an excerpt from Bingenheimer’s recollection of the session as told to music journalist Harvey Kubernik:

“I was in Hollywood and went to Wallich’s Music City [a record store] on the Sunset Strip. I was listening to records in one of their booths and ran into Brian Wilson, who was also in the store. I told Brian that Phil was doing a session at Gold Star down the street. He said ‘Let’s go!’ We walked to Gold Star. (…)

Brian and I never left the studio booth during the recording of ‘River Deep.’ You don’t leave when you’re at something like this. We were transfixed. Jack and Phil were very tight. They were like co-pilots on the Concorde from a flight from France. (…) Phil was screaming like a madman during the sessions. Tina was loud and sexy. She was wearing a wig and go-go boots. Very 60s. The engineers were Larry Levine and Stan Ross. Phil was in control!

Brian didn’t say a word. He soaked it in and sat there stunned. Tina’s vocal kept on soaring. Some of the musicians wore Alpaca sweaters. Phil and Jack dressed like kids. They wore clothes from deVoss and Beau Gentry, where the Beach Boys, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones shopped. And everyone wore Caesar cologne (even the bottle looked great!), diamond-shaped dark glasses, puffy-sleeve shirts and boots. They didn’t look like record company people. They were listening to the song as it was played over and over. It was in the pocket. (…) Phil Spector is rock’n’roll. After the session, I walked home and couldn’t sleep.”

Aaah, the glamorous days of 60s Los Angeles; imagine bumping into Brian Wilson and then, at a whim, crashing a Spector session. Mindblowing! No wonder Bingenheimer has devoted his life to music after experiences like this one.

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Seems like Rodney got his foot in the door everywhere in LA in the 60s. Here he’s featured in a mid-60s fashion spread.

I would have imagined him to have spun at least one Spector cut during his final show, but he instead opted to go with the times and play more recent material, although including a few songs with a heavy nod towards the Wall of Sound such as ‘Just like Honey’ by Jesus & Mary Chain and ‘7/11’ by the Postmarks.

It’ll be interesting to see what’s in store for the Mayor of the Sunset Strip – hopefully, his musical choices will grace Los Angeles air waves once again in the near future.

You can read more about Rodney and the show’s history here:

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/music/la-et-ms-rodney-bingenheimer-20170602-story.html

You can check out the final show’s playlist here:

http://kroq.cbslocal.com/2017/06/05/rodney-on-the-roq-playlist-6517-rodneys-farewell-show/

And let’s conclude with this extremely cool, must-hear tribute to his show by none other than Brian Wilson:

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KRLA Beat

The airwaves were where Spector’s Wall of Sound blossomed into its full impact, mesmerizing listeners with otherworldly sounds unlike most other hits of the day.

In time, of course, many other producers would succesfully copy the Wall of Sound making sure that car stereos in Los Angeles and beyond blasted out galloping castanets and thunderous drums.

If you were cruising around LA in Phil Spector’s 60s hey day, you’d probably be tuned into one of the city’s hippest radio stations, legendary KRLA. And if that was the case, you would undoubtedly hear a lot of Philles hits.

Imagine – if you will – driving around, top down, cruising these streets…

KRLA had originally started as KPAS in 1942 based in Pasadena, but come 1959 the KRLA station name was in place and ready to battle KFWB as the second AM-top 40 station in LA.

In a time with watered-down, playlist-dictated corporate radio we can only long for that era’s jive-talking, hyperactive deejays presenting the latest hip recordings to teenagers.

Here’s an aural chronology made up of old clips from the station that should give you an impression of the atmosphere on air.

What was interesting about KRLA is the fact that the station put out it’s own newsletter & ‘teen newspaper’, KRLA Beat.

Although a bit uneven and haphazardly put together, the issues make for fine reading for anyone who wish to get a sense of the enthusiasm of the 60s pop scene.

krla-beat
Any paper that hypes sunshine pop mavens the Yellow Balloon is alright with me!

Luckily for us, some helpful collectors have worked up a website where each and every issue of KRLA Beat is readable as scans. It’s very cool and I’ll bet that scattered throughout the various issues are all sorts of mentionings of Spector and the Philles acts as well as other local acts of interest to Cue Castanets readers.

http://krlabeat.sakionline.net/

I’ve only had time to read a scant few issues myself but if you come across any interesting stories in some of these newspapers, please let me and Cue Castanets readers know in which issues to look for them by leaving a comment here.

KRLA
Sonny & Cher must have been pleased with their extensive coverage in KRLA Beat!

Allow me to get the ball rolling with issue 10 out of volume 2, May 21st 1966 – the one with the Young Rascals on the cover.

Here you’ll find a profile article on the Righteous Brothers which must undoubtedly have infuriated Phil Spector as he isn’t mentioned anywhere(!!!), as well as a similar article on Ike & Tina Turner – though this time with the mention of their involvement with Spector and ‘River Deep Mountain High.’

For Beach Boys fans there’s also an interesting article about Beach Boys copycats the Sunrays, masterminded by Brian Wilson’s dad Murry. I should add though, that the Sunrays recorded some really cool sides! Very good and underrated group!

Find it all – and more – here in the ‘Rascals’ issue:

http://krlabeat.sakionline.net/issue/21may66.pdf

Happy reading

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