Month: August 2015

Capitol Tower Transforms LA Landscape

On Friday, April 6, 1956, fourteen years after its founding in 1942, Capitol Records celebrated the grand opening of its new, state-of-the-art, centralized headquarters at Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street.  As searchlights crisscrossed the LA sky, Capitol and E.M.I. executives gathered to show off their new corporate headquarters.  The Capitol Tower, now a worldwide symbol of Hollywood and the music industry, was built by the architectural firm Welton Becket & Associates, and designed by Lou Naidorf. As Angelenos watched the construction progress while driving along the Hollywood Freeway, they joked construction was delayed because workers didn’t know whether to “put it on at 33⅓ or 45.”  Others joked “you can’t corner girls in a round building.”  Although the unique circular structure resembles a stack of records loaded onto the spindle of a turntable, that was a happy accident.  During a construction tour, Capitol co-founder and president Glenn E. Wallichs told reporters, “We don’t want people to think it’s supposed to look like a stack of records.  The round design was the idea of the architect, …

Capitol Hill Veterinarian Pens Book on Beach Boys

Review by Sean Meehan — August 14, 2015 at 5:15 pm A Capitol Hill veterinarian is now the published author of a book about the formation and early years of the Beach Boys. James Murphy, an associate veterinarian at Capitol Hill Animal Clinic at 1240 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, said he wrote his first book, “Becoming the Beach Boys,” to give a deeper look at the rock band’s origins. “Origin stories have always kind of fascinated me,” he said. “I wasn’t interested in the career-spanning books, those things have been done. I wanted to zero in on what had been lacking. Nobody had written a cohesive, common-sense account of how they started out.” The book grew out of a lifelong passion for the Beach Boys that started when he first heard the band’s hit, “Good Vibrations,” as a 10-year-old boy in 1966. For the past 50 years, Murphy’s interest in the Beach Boys never waned, leading him to start collecting their records and memorabilia and reading everything that he could find about them. “I read every book about …

A Word About Podcasts

The website is my way of sharing research that didn’t make its way into the book and the experience of writing Becoming the Beach Boys, 1961-1963.  Additional posts are in the works and will appear soon.  Some of the site’s posts expand on stories that appear in BBB61-63; others are Beach Boys-related but outside the purview of the book. It occurred to me some additional stories are better served by the telling rather than the reading.  Accordingly, I’ve added a Podcast menu page that initially will contain radio interviews I’ve participated in, but that will later include discussions of Beach Boys-related events and people back in the day.  First up on the Podcast page is a radio interview with WFDU that aired August 23, 2015:  Third Annual Beach Boys Bash on “The Vintage Rock & Pop Shop,” conducted by Ghosty.  There are also links to Ghosty’s interviews with David Marks, David Beard, and Barbara Eden. Does anyone want to hear what it was like for me to pull the book together (the research, interviewing the folks behind the …

AXS Entertainment Book Review

Review by James L. Neibaur August 23, 2015 There are many groups who have achieved classic status in the history of rock and roll, but only a few are truly iconic. The Beach Boys are one of those few. In James B. Murphy’s new book, the group’s early trajectory is traced and examined, pointing out how their ideas, essentially the ideas of Brian Wilson, evolved into what eventually defined them as a unit. There are several books that try to understand the creative process of The Beach Boys once they achieved hit status with their first record. But Murphy’s book offers the most in-depth look at what transpired beforehand. Three brothers, a cousin, and a friend, with passion and spirit, but no musical training, managed to learn to play rented instruments, learn to sing, cut a record for an indie label, watch it climb the charts, and then sign with a major company. Their initial songs helped create the fun loving sunshine, surfing, and fast car mythology of California life in the post-Elvis, pre-Beatles 1960s. …

Dorinda & Hite Morgan Discography

Dorinda Morgan was a prolific songwriter. While this discography is a good beginning, it is likely not comprehensive. For example, it seems certain she composed more songs during the 1930s. The discography is drawn from documents with Broadcast Music, Incorporated (BMI), the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), the Copyright Office at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., interviews with Bruce Morgan, and my personal collection. Images, where available, accompany the records below and will be added as available. Check back. [Last updated October 1, 2016 – details at bottom] Please contact me with any additions, corrections, or images. September 9, 1931 “Cabaret Lady” written by Dorinda Morgan copyrighted by H. Bowman Morgan September 30, 1941 “V Is for Victory” written by Dorinda Morgan copyrighted by Hite Bowman Morgan (Brookhaven, Georgia) December 31, 1941 “Anthem of the Allies” music by Dorinda Morgan words by Hite Bowman Morgan copyrighted by Hite Bowman Morgan (Brookhaven, Georgia) July 1945 “All Clear in My Heart” written by Hite Bowman, Robert T. Chestnutt, and Dorinda Morgan published …

Surf Cinema and George Freeth, Jr., the Father of California Surfing

B ud Browne was the originator of the surf film genre and the first to make surf films for a commercial market.  His first surf film, Hawaiian Surfing Movie, debuted in 1953 at Adams Junior High School in Santa Monica.  Tickets were sixty-five cents.  “After introducing the film on stage,” recalled Browne, “I hurried up to the projection room to join the operator of an arc projector I had hired.  I could see the screen from a small window.  I had a microphone in hand and a tape player with music.  It was a nervous time, trying to coordinate telling the projectionist when to switch from sound to silent speed and vice versa, playing music in some places and not in others, and narrating when needed.  Sometime during the show, I remember the take-up reel quit turning and much of the forty-five minute reel of film piled up on the floor.  Although this was sort of a nerve wracking experience, I’ve always thought of the overall event as going very well.” Browne filmed in Hawaii …