Archive for the Buzzard Audio Category

The First WMMS “End of the Decade” special – the Seventies!

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Audio, Buzzard Media on December 26, 2009 by John Gorman

A WMMS print ad by David Helton from early 1975

Since we’re commemorating the end of a tumultuous decade this week, it’s only fitting that we turn back the clock thirty years ago this week and present a review of an equally tumultuous decade – the seventies!

Though decades actually end on their tenth year, which end in 00, following World War II media began to review the prior ten years and observe the new decade a year earlier – so we did the same.

For weeks leading up to the end of 1979, the WMMS staff collected and compiled the music, the pop culture, and the newsworthy events of the seventies for a special presentation, which we ran at the end of the year.

Ed “Flash” Ferenc, Denny Sanders, Betty Korvan, and Al “The Bear” Koski provide the commentary.

Though the original masters of the 1979 decade review were lost, we owe special thanks to one of our WMMS listeners, who prefers to remain anonymous, for taping and saving the original broadcast.

The original special ran commercial-free for twelve hours on  Sunday, December 30, 1979.

Due to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, we cannot feature the music played during the special.

Here it is for your downloading pleasure:

WMMS 1970s Decade special, tracks 1 -20 – click here.

WMMS 1970s Decade special, tracks 21-40 – click here.

WMMS 1970s Decade special, tracks 41-62 – click here.

WMMS 1970s Decade special, track 63 – click here.

The WMMS Christmas Carol – 34th Anniversary!

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Audio, Buzzard Media on December 23, 2009 by John Gorman

We closed out 1975 with a project that became one of our crowning achievements, a contemporary version of A Christmas Carol.

Denny Sanders and promotion and marketing director Dan Garfinkel scripted the adaptation from Charles Dickens. Murray Saul was Iggy Scrooge, and he played it to the hilt.  David Spero was his ghostly partner, steel magnate David MarleyKid Leo was Little Leo, Matt the Cat played Matt the Crachit, and Shelley Stile was Mrs. Cratchit, with Betty Korvan as daughter Martha.

The three spirits – of Christmas past, present, and future – were Len “Boom” Goldberg, Charlie Kendall, and Steve Lushbaugh. Our “world’s greatest” receptionist for WMMS, WHK, and Malrite corporate Verdelle Warren played Scrooge’s fianceeSteve Lushbaugh, Jeff Kinzbach, and Ed “Flash” Ferenc were various men about town.    Denny Sanders narrated. Guests from outside the staff included Michael Stanley and Alex Bevan.  It was directed and produced by Jeff Kinzbach and Steve Lushbaugh.

We recorded it during the busiest production time of the year and its recording and production had to be  worked around the commercial production schedule, which, during the Christmas season, was limited to late Saturday and Sunday afternoons and evenings. Since we hadn’t budgeted in advance for the project, no one could claim overtime for participating. It was a true labor of love.

The entire production was done with antiquated equipment and recording tape at our decrepit studios at 50th and Euclid, and took hundreds of hand-made tape splices to complete.

We called it a production of the Buzzard Theater of the Air, a satirical take-off on Orson Wells’ 1930s radio series, the Mercury Theater of the Air.


Murray Saul on A Christmas Carol

My first thought is how much the production reflects the mood we’ve been talking about of all being on the SAME TEAM and enjoying it.  From the Dan Garfinkel script to Jeff Kinzbach in the control room.  Denny Sanders keeping his eye on the whole project. To call it a labor of love is not hype.  Me, being Scrooge was a great kick.  It was very much like being in your high school play Buzzard-style.

Denny Sanders on A Christmas Carol

I remember that it was taped over two consecutive weekends in December, and edited on the third in time for broadcast on Christmas Eve, 1975.  It was all manual cuts, and fly-in dubs from second and third machines.  Here’s a story:  In the final scene before Murray wakes up everything went quiet.  There was a pause and then the next taped segment (waking up) was to be inserted.  Because it was dead quiet, you heard the electronic relay click of the tape machine starting.  I remember that this drove me crazy, so either Steve Lushbaugh or Jeff Kinzbach (I forget who) backed the tape way up, timed the insert, and rolled it early so that the click was buried in the music bridge just before it went quiet.  When working manual and with old gear, you just had to be resourceful!

To  hear A Christmas Carol, click here

For more info on A Christmas Carol and the Buzzard Theater of the Air – see Chapter 11 of The Buzzard

WMMS TV simulcasts

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Audio, Buzzard Media, Buzzard Photos, Buzzard Video on December 13, 2009 by John Gorman

Here are a couple of David Helton ads promoting our stereo simulcasts.

Back in the seventies and much of the eighties, television audio was delivered in monaural sound.

We knew technology would eventually change that – but until then we took full advantage of providing the stereo soundtrack to musically-oriented television shows.

We did a number of network – and even early cable and pay-TV (remember Preview?) – stereo simulcasts.  It was a boon for us since television, which had a much larger audience than radio, would run a crawl on the screen inviting viewers turn to WMMS’s 100.7 frequency to hear the audio in stereo.

Locally, we also did a series of Live at the Agora concerts with WJW-TV, featuring artists from WMMS Nights Out at the club.

Note the hemostat, joints, and talon styled sneakers in the first ad and the two slightly hidden joints in the second.

Here’s Todd Rundgren from a Live at the Agora TV show.

The WMMS Fleetwood Mac Attack!

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Audio, Buzzard Media, Buzzard Photos, Buzzard Video on December 5, 2009 by John Gorman

It was September 1973. We had just added the Buckingham-Nicks album and the track “Long Distance Winner” was picking up a few curiosity calls and requests.  At that time we did not have a relationship with the Agora, so we called Rodger Bohn at the Smiling Dog Saloon, where we sponsored “nights out” at and mentioned the act as a possible WMMS-sponsored show.   Rodger put in a few calls to see if they were touring.  They were – but their label Polygram, wasn’t really supporting the act because the album was getting only spotty airplay in a couple of cities.  Logistics for a “night out” didn’t work out. We played a couple of other tracks from the album (“Crying in the Night” and “Don’t Let Me Down Again”) before it faded into that limbo land of forgotten albums.

That same month Fleetwood Mac released the album Heroes are Hard to Find, whose title cut ended up being one of the most played and requested tunes on WMMS.  Fleetwood

Fleetwood Mac's mirrors designed and hand-painted by David Helton

Mac formed as British blues-based group that eventually evolved into the mainstream, but suffered from a steady stream of personnel and musical style changes.  Though it got extensive play, the track was largely a turntable hit and never translated into sales.

John Gorman, Mick Fleetwood, Rhonda Kiefer at WMMS

Fast forward to July 1975.  The Fleetwood Mac album is released – and we noted that Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, whom we remembered from that Buckingham-Nicks album, were now band members.

Fan banner at the Coliseum

The band went on tour in support of the album and played Kent State on a Sunday night.  As was customary at the station, our airstaff took turns on m.c’ing WMMS-sponsored concerts – and Kid Leo did Fleetwood Mac. Though I planned to go I had to bow out because of an early Monday morning department head meeting.  Later that day, Leo told me Fleetwood Mac live

Mick Fleetwood just returned from a vacation in Bora Bora and flew to Cleveland to surprise Christine McVie and Bob Welch. Christine was touring with Bob Welch as a surprise guest singer on "Sentimental Lady."

were nothing like the softer version on the album – and that the Buckingham-Nicks material rocked, citing a balls-out version of “Rhiannon” and a reworked “I’m So Afraid” that showed Lindsay as a guitarist to be reckoned with.

Around the same time, The King Biscuit Flower Hour, a syndicated concert show we carried on Sunday nights featured a live Fleetwood Mac performance – and like Leo said – it rocked. We swapped the softer studio versions for the live rock versions – and within days the live “Rhiannon” became our most-requested song on nights and weekends – and the other live Macs from that

All that Jazz: Bruce Ravid (Capitol), Len "Boom" Goldberg, Steve Lushbaugh, Dan Garfinkel, Bob Welch, Denny Sanders, John Gorman, David Helton, Barry Haughin (Capitol), Matt the Cat

concert were also in our requested top 15.

Mick checking out the artwork in my office

That set the stage for Rumours. Shelley Stile was music director and pulled off a daylong exclusive of the album in February 1977. The immediate reaction gave little clue of how huge the album would be.  But we new it was something unique and special – product that would draw more audience from AM to FM, and from other stations to WMMS. We cemented our relationship with the band, getting to know everyone in it and connected to it.  What gave us a solid edge with the band was our airplay of their pet side projects, which

Dan Garfinkel, Jeff Kinzbach, Denny Sanders, Bruce Ravid (Capitol), Mick Fleetwood, Bob Welch

were all gems – but usually neglected in other markets.

Walter Egan, formerly of the cult surf band the Malibooz, had one hit song nationally, “Magnet and Steel,” a duet with Stevie Nicks, off the Not Shy album coproduced by Buckingham and Nicks, who also played on it; in Cleveland he was a superstar, with a half-dozen tracks receiving airplay. Buckingham and Nicks also played on John Stewart’s Bombs Away, Dream Babies, with the song “Gold,” which was a major hit in Cleveland months before it broke nationally.  Rob Grill, the former lead singer of the Grassroots,

Another day, another penguin: John McVie, Cleveland Metropark Zoo official, John Gorman, Rhonda Kiefer

was a fishing buddy of John McVie, who produced his one solo album, Uprooted - with guest appearances by Buckingham and Mick Fleetwood. Most successful of all was Bob Welch, a former Fleetwood Mac guitarist, who scored three hit singles off his 1977 album, French KissCleveland was also one of the few markets that supported Welch’s earlier project, Paris, which had a popular track, “Big Town 2061,” in 1975.

At the zoo: Jeff Kinzbach, Matt the Cat, Steve Lushbaugh, David Helton, Debbie O'Donnell, Dan Garfinkel, Betty Korvan, Denny Sanders, John Gorman, Dave Lucas (Warner Bros.), John McVie, Christine McVie. Front: Unknown , Rhonda Kiefer

By the time Fleetwood Mac played the Coliseum in September 1977, the band supposedly sold a million copies of Rumours from the Cleveland distribution branch alone.  We launched what we called our “WMMS Fleetwood Mac Attack,” and took full ownership of what had become the biggest act in the world.   We landed exclusive interviews, and we had them cut station IDs. The day after Stevie Nicks flubbed on stage and accidentally thanked Cincinnati instead of Cleveland, she cut a humorous ID, which said, “When I’m not in Cincinnati, I’m in Cleveland, and listening to WMMS.”

John & Christine at the Cleveland Metropark Zoo with the donated penguin

We also landed an exclusive with advance tracks from the Tusk album, early fall 1979. That one came on cassette, from a  New York record executive, whose identity I promised I would never reveal – and never will.  I had to buy a seat for it on a commercial

Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks at the Bond Court Hotel press conference

flight.  When it arrived at Hopkins, I drove it to the station where it was transferred for broadcast and Denny Sanders immediately put it on the air.  We played one cut every half-hour, inserting “WMMS exclusive” in case a rival station tried to tape it.  Warner Bros. was furious because Fleetwood Mac was the label’s most important act, and they worried about Tusk being a somewhat experimental double-album, which sounded nothing like its predecessor.

Stevie Nicks and Mick Fleetwood at Bond Court Hotel press conference

Fleetwood Mac and WMMS donated penguins (the Fleetwood Mac mascot) to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. We

At WMMS: Denny Sanders, Marty Schwartz (Elektra), Lindsay Buckingham, John Gorman, Matt the Cat, Murray Saul. On table: Kid Leo

outfitted the band with WMMS merchandise and paraphernalia.  For months to come, it wasn’t usual to see a band member or associate of Fleetwood Mac sporting a WMMS item on national TV.

When a WMMS World Series of Rock concert at Cleveland Stadium was postponed due to a spinal problem suffered by Lindsay Buckingham, the other members of the band, plus Bob Welch, flew to Cleveland to do a press conference at the Bond Court Hotel, we strung up lines and carried it live.

A few weeks later, backstage at the rescheduled WMMS World Series of Rock concert, we presented the band with personalized, hand-painted mirrors individually created by David Helton. By that time they were consuming massive quantities of cocaine.  Christine McVie, who got the first one, commented, “I’m afraid we’ll scrape the mirror down to the paint.”

More on Buzzards and penguins in The Buzzard

Photos by Bob Ferrell except mirror photo by David Helton

Click images multiple times to enlarge size and click on song titles to hear the music.

The Buzzard Blog celebrated its second year.  For those new to the blog, you can use the search engine or reference the archives for hours of audio (including original airchecks and music) and video and hundreds of photos and documents covering WMMS from 1973 to 1986.

Robert Gordon sings for his Buzzard

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Audio, Buzzard Media, Buzzard Photos on November 10, 2009 by John Gorman

robert-gordon-1 wmms-archives-print-ads-articles-1975-126

Being associated with up-and-coming acts was a tremendous asset for WMMS. We listened to virtually every album release, and we didn’t limit our listening to what the promo guys were hyping.

We strived to to get artists to cut personalized IDs for WMMS – and tried to make them distinctive to stand out from the plain “Hi, this is (artist) and you’re listening to (station).” Generally, prior to or after an on-air interview, we’d invite an artist to our production studio to cut some IDs – including specialty versions for Christmas, New Year’s, and, if time allowed, individual IDs for our airstaff.

We had our motives.  The ID was an endorsement by the artist for WMMS - and served as a station identification bridge between two songs in a music set without interrupting our music flow.

Occasionally, artists come up with something inimitable and original, like Bruce Springsteen’s “I don’t have a radio but Miami Steve does…” Or U2’s Bono and The Edge who heard Springsteen’s and one-upped it with, “I’m the singer, he (Edge) is the guitarist, and we both listen to WMMS.” Then there was Sting’s “I get a buzz out of the Buzzard” and Joe Walsh claiming he listened to WMMS even when the radio wasn’t on. On a few rare occasions we got an artist to sing their WMMS ID. This is one from rockabilly artist Robert Gordon, a WMMS favorite.

The idea actually came from top 40 radio.  It always stuck in my mind that Boston’s WMEX had Eric Burdon of the Animals do one.  When I was fourteen, I thought the Animals were cool, and WMEX was cool for having the Animals say the station was.

Special thanks to Dusty Basmagy for this ID.

MP3 Download here: http://www.mediafire.com/file/yammtiwno2l/14

…and with the Boss coming to town, here’s the classic Bruce Springsteen WMMS ID, click here

Click images multiple times for a viewing size of your choice

BUZZARD BOOK COVER SMALLMore on bizarre Buzzard programming plans can be found in Chapter 10 of The Buzzard


Sweet, Seger and WMMS photos

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Audio, Buzzard Media, Buzzard Photos, Buzzard Video on October 26, 2009 by John Gorman
Back row, L to TR: Brian Connolly, guitar player Andy Scott, bass player Steve Priest, and drummer Mick Tucker of Sweet, Jim Hawn, branch manager, Capitol Records/Cleveland; John Gorman, Kid Leo.  Front: Matt the Cat, Bruce Ravid, Capitol Records, Steve Lushbaugh.  Photo taken at Swingo's Keg & Quarter after Sweet's Allen Theater concert in 1975.

Back row, L to TR: Brian Connolly, guitar player Andy Scott, bass player Steve Priest, and drummer Mick Tucker of Sweet, Jim Hawn, branch manager, Capitol Records/Cleveland; John Gorman, Kid Leo. Front: Matt the Cat, Bruce Ravid, Capitol Records, Steve Lushbaugh. Photo taken at Swingo's Keg & Quarter after Sweet's Allen Theater concert in 1975.

L to R - Back row: David Helton, John Gorman, Bob Seger, Kid Leo, Alto Reed, sax, Silver Bullet Band; Robyn Robins, keyboards; Silver Bullet Band; Matt the Cat .   Second Row: Barry Haughin, Capitol Records; Bruce Garfield, Capitol Records; Bruce Ravid, Capitol Records; Ray Tuskin, Capitol Records; Dan Garfinkel.  Front Row: Drew Abbott, guitar, Silver Bullet Band; Chris Campbell, bass, Silver Bullet Band.  Photo taken backstage at the Richfield Coliseum in 1978.

L to R - Back row: David Helton, John Gorman, Bob Seger, Kid Leo, Alto Reed, sax, Silver Bullet Band; Robyn Robins, keyboards; Silver Bullet Band; Matt the Cat . Second Row: Barry Haughin, Capitol Records; Bruce Garfield, Capitol Records; Bruce Ravid, Capitol Records; Ray Tuskin, Capitol Records; Dan Garfinkel. Front Row: Drew Abbott, guitar, Silver Bullet Band; Chris Campbell, bass, Silver Bullet Band. Photo taken backstage at the Richfield Coliseum, December 23, 1978.

Here are a couple of recently-found group photos of members of the WMMS staff with Sweet and Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band.

Cleveland figures significantly with the national success of both acts.

The_Sweet-Desolation_BoulevardWe did not played Sweet’s first hit, “Little Willy.” It was too bubblegum-sounding for us.   Sweet, taking advantage of the popularity of glam/glitter rock gradually and cautiously evolved into a band that appealed to an adult rock audience and broke out of Cleveland and Los Angeles with their Desolation Boulevard album.

The U.S. version was more pop-oriented than its European release, which led us to play the less poppier-version of “Fox on the Run” from the import on WMMS.

I remember that evening with Sweet, post-concert, as a heavy-drinking night, which can be attested by the condition of some of those in that photo.

Bob-Seger-Beautiful-Loser--436309Bob Seger’s bond with Cleveland goes back to the sixties – long before WMMS – when the he and his earlier bands, the Last Heard and the System, would play Cleveland area clubs and perform on Upbeat.

Cleveland was one of the first cities that provided Seger the traction to break nationally.  Tracks like “Heavy Music” and “Get Out of Denver” established Seger to the WMMS audience but it took 1975’s Beautiful Loser album to transform him from cult favorite to a most-requested, mainstream artist. By summer, “Beautiful Loser,“Katmandu,” “Travelin’ Man,” and his cover of Ike and Tina Turner’s “Nutbush City Limits” were among our most requested and played album tracks.  Though the album hit #131 nationally, it was a top-ten selling album in Cleveland from spring through fall.

Shortly after that photo was taken, Seger poured the contents of the bottle of wine he was holding down Leo’s back.  Somewhere a photo exists of that, too, though it hasn’t been unearthed yet.

bruceraveorigOur label connection with both acts was Bruce Ravid, who managed regional promotion for Capitol Records, which included the Cleveland market, prior to his best-known position as an Artist & Repertoire executive for the label.  Bruce was instrumental in signing Duran Duran, Missing Persons, the Motels, The Church, and Thomas Dolby, among others.

Today, he produces and hosts Rave’s Raves, a nationally syndicated radio show, which features new and up and coming talent.

Click on photos multiple times for viewable sizes

Inspired by….

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Audio, Buzzard Media, Buzzard Photos on October 18, 2009 by John Gorman

barflies2009-05-02

I knew The Buzzard book would spark memories of Cleveland rock and the role this region played during the seventies and eighties in the music and radio industries.

What I didn’t expect was that The Buzzard and WMMS of that era would also inspire a regional band to write and record a song.

A few weeks back, I heard from Jerry Camerlengo, bass player for The Barflies, a four-piece modern rock band from the Youngstown-Western, Pennsylvania area.

Jerry and lead singer Paul Sheehan grew up in Youngstown, which is on the fringe of the WMMS signal.

I’ll let Jerry tell the story:

When I was a kid growing up in Youngstown in the 70’s, I thought that Cleveland must be a pretty cool place since all of my favorite TV shows downtown-youngstown(Ghoulardi, Superhost, etc.) were only broadcast on the Cleveland stations.

By 1980, I was a teenager listening to WMMS and was convinced that Cleveland must be the coolest city on earth! The larger than life on-air personalities and the life changing rock-n-roll that emanated from the North Shore became an indelible part of my coming of age years.

So, when my bass player Jerry Camerlengo told me about John Gorman’s book last year, I picked it up and couldn’t put it down. Not only is “The Buzzard…” a great read for those of us who were fans of WMMS in the 70’s and early 80’s, it’s also a snapshot of what radio was like at the height of the rock-n-roll era, before Clear Channel.

While reading John’s book, I was trying to come up with lyrics to put to music that my guitarist Gary Jones had written. As I was listening to a section of the song over and over again, the phrase “You’re a Zero on the Dial / A Part of the Evil Empire” popped into my head during what would become the chorus to “Broken Radio.” I knew immediately that the song had to be about Clear Channel and how that corporation has devalued and homogenized something that meant so much to me and to so many other people as well.

WMMS Buzzard Bus 3There’s a section in the bridge of the song that we knew would be a perfect spot for a vintage WMMS audio sample. Murray Saul’s “Get Down” was the first thing we tried and it fit perfectly! Not only did the timing match up, but Murray also embodies the spirit of freedom and creativity that, thanks to Clear Channel, can’t be heard on terrestrial radio today. Enjoy!

Here’s a good chunk of the song.  I’m not including the full version because it’ll be available on-line from iTunes and Amazon.com on October 31 and I’d like to see the band make a few bucks for their time and effort.

Click here for “Broken Radio” by the Barflies

Superstars in Cleveland – the Sensational Alex Harvey Band!

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Audio, Buzzard Media, Buzzard Photos, Buzzard Video on October 14, 2009 by John Gorman
Photo by Janet Macoska

Photo by Janet Macoska

Years ago Bob Dylan mentioned that there was a time when he could tell what city he was in by listening to the local radio stations.

One of the most regionalized music markets was Cleveland - and radio provided the soundtrack to its distinctive musical tastes from the late forties to the mid nineties, when deregulation homogenized radio into a dull national blend.

In the seventies Cleveland was the proving ground for dozens of artists – and a bellwether market for rock and roll.  If you made it in Cleveland, you had a fighting chance for your music to catch on elsewhere.

Then there were the many acts that were superstars in Greater Cleveland – but barely known beyond its borders.

Take the astounding popularity of the Scottish rock act, the Sensational Alex Harvey Band.

From the release of their first album in the U.S., Next, and their second album as a band, the Sensational Alex Harvey Band quickly grew to be one of our most requested artists of the seventies.

Within the first week of airplay, five tracks from the Next album became top requests on WMMS, including “Faith Healer,” “Vambo,” and the controversial “Gang Bang.” It was a top five selling album in Cleveland for close to a year.   In fact, the majority of albums pressed in the U.S. were sold in Cleveland.

Their popularity grew so rapidly that we got a hold of the first SAHB album, Framed, which was only released in Europe, and started playing tracks from that one, too.

Because of their limited U.S. airplay, the SAHB did only two abbreviated U.S. tours. Their first Cleveland appearance, one of only four U.S. dates, was a WMMS Monday Night Out at the Agora, which sold out in advance.   The second date SAHB played in Cleveland, in support of the Impossible Dream album – and part of a seven city tour – was on March 3, the following year at the Allen Theater. That show also sold out well in advance.

Harvey used to refer to WMMS as the next best thing to sex and beer – and even cut an ID stating that fact.

You couldn’t define the SAHB as being in any one rock genre.  In concert they’d shift from a ‘50s oldies cover song (“Framed”) to Jacque Brel (“Next”) to a staged performance (“Man in the Jar”).

The SAHB switched labels from Mercury to Atlantic for their third U.S. release, Live, whose only U.S. airplay was on WMMS.  Due to lack of airplay throughout the rest of the U.S. and Canada, the label canceled plans for a third SAHB U.S. tour.

Through the years we kept in touch with Alex Harvey, hoping to bring him back to the states – and even lobbied to get him on a WMMS World Series of Rock concert.

Alex Harvey passed away on February 4, 1982, the day before his 47th birthday.

alexcard1

alexcard2aalexcard3

alexcard4Click photo and cards multiple times to enlarge to viewable size

Though there are no known videos of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band’s appearances in Cleveland, here are a few videos that capture their unique live show:

Thirty One Years Ago in Cleveland, Ohio…..

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Audio, Buzzard Media, Buzzard Photos on August 8, 2009 by John Gorman

bruce-springsteen-agora-posterClick here for more

More from Addicted to Vinyl here

Choosing one favorite WMMS memory is a nearly impossible task – but way, way up there, where the air is rare, has to be Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band playing our 10th Anniversary Concert at the Cleveland Agora. It was also carried on an ad hoc network of seven rock stations in Detroit, Pittsburgh, Chicago, St. Louis, Columbus, and Cincinnati.

E Street Band drummer Max Weinberg called it the best show the band ever did.

One of the best complements I received about that show came a few years later from Bob Seger, backstage at an Eagles concert at the Coliseum. He said, “Man, I heard the concert you guys put on with Springsteen.  That was the greatest rock and roll show I ever heard.”  He told me he was one of the many listeners who ran to his tape machine to record his own copy.

Murray-juana

Posted in Buzzard, Buzzard Audio, Buzzard Media, Buzzard Photos on August 6, 2009 by John Gorman
Murray Saul preparing to roll a joint in 1975 at the Mistake - the basement club at the Cleveland Agora on East 24th Street

Murray Saul preparing to roll a joint in 1975 at the Mistake - the basement club at the Cleveland Agora on East 24th Street

Murray Saul was never shied away from expressing his opinions on the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana on or off the air at WMMS.

Murray had many opportunities to speak his mind on not only the Friday night Get Down – but the two public affairs programs he hosted, Sunday morning’s Jabberwocky and the Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoon We, the People.

Louis_Armstrong_NYWTS2-1He smoked his first joint in 1949.  Today, at 81, he still tokes and quotes Louis Armstrong’s line about smoking weed: “I’ve been smoking marijuana for over fifty years so I know it’s not habit forming.”

“…and I smoke dope.”  Murray told then-sales manager Dave DeCapua in his interview for a WMMS sales position.  That assertion, Murray believed, convinced DeCapua he could sell the format in spite of being twenty-eight years older than the median age of the typical WMMS listener.

His Friday night Get Down made frequent references to the herb – and even featured an ever-so-slightly veiled market report on its availability, quality, and price.  He’d take a hit off an imaginary joint and say, “That’s good stuff and there’s a lot of it around – but the price ain’t as nice.”

Much of Murray’s Get Down marijuana slang came from friends he partied with in Kent, Ohio. “Twist those tunahs,” translated to “roll a joint.”

marijuanaThe Get Down had evolved into a Friday night after-work institution by November 1975 when the state of Ohiodecriminalized marijuana for personal use. Ohio’s law became the most liberal of any marijuana decriminalization legislation in the U.S. First time offenders were fined $100 for the possession and/or cultivation of 100 grams (3.5 oz.) or less of marijuana (roughly three joints’ worth) with no jail time and no criminal record.   The trade-off for the revised law was that possession of drug paraphernalia – a bowl or bong (but not rolling papers) – remained a misdemeanor with a maximum of 30 days in the crowbar motel.  Dealing pot was a felony.

Murray celebrated the law by proclaiming in a Get Down, “I’m gonna have a bag of dope in my pocket and a $100 bill pinned to my shirt.  Yayza!”

At midnight, when the new law went into effect, Murray read its specifics on-the-air and doing double-duty as a WMMS salesman sold the first adjacent radio commercial to a head shop on Lee Road in Cleveland.

We learned, years later, that some enterprising dealer in the Hiram area was doing a brisk business selling highly potent hydroponically-grown marijuana under the brand name Murray-juana with artwork of a Rastafarian-looking Murray smoking a gigantic spliff with the WMMS Buzzard on his shoulder taking his own hit from a bong.

Parting Red Sea.JPGAt personal appearances, Murray was showered with joints.  At the WMMS World Series of Rock concerts at Cleveland Stadium, we’d watch Murray from up above, in the press box as he walked through the crowd.  It reminded us of that scene in the Ten Commandments when Moses parted  the Red Sea as those on the field would stand to make a pathway for Murray to walk through.  He’d return to the press box from his stadium walk-around, like a kid returning home from Halloween “trick or treat” with dozens of joints and other goodies given to him by fans.

It does make one wonder what kind of booty would be enjoyed by someone dressed up as Murray Saul for Halloween.

Those that have observed Murray’s marijuana intake comment on how he savors a joint much like others enjoy a fine wine.

BUZZARD BOOK COVER SMALLMURRAY SAUL CDMuch more on Murray and marijuana in The Buzzard - and all Murray all the time with the Get Downs Vol. 1 CD


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