Monday, June 24, 2013

My First Time


During which I put the chewing gum on the bedpost overnight. That leads The Lonely Beats, to evolve into scarecrows.
       The first time I was in a band was in the Lutheran boy scouts. The band was called the Lonely Beats. We played skiffle, which was big in England before the Beatles hit. Lonie Donogan was one of the proponents of skiffle and one of his songs was Does the Chewing Gum Loose its Flavor on the Bedpost Over Night. Traditionally skiffle bands had a guitar or banjo and either a tea-box bass or a washtub bass. Another feature was the washboard. In this picture I am on the lower right with some sort of folded metallic piece of plastic that served as a washboard. Check out the drum kit. 

Lonely Beats. Author at front right.
       The only song I remember was Michael Rows the Boat to Shore, Hallelujah. This didn’t last very long once the Beatles and Stones hit the scene and The Lonely Beats were done with and we turned into The Scarecrows, which lasted a bit past highschool and went through some personnel changes besides the two guitarist brothers (left and right in the Lonely Beats pic) and me. I switched to playing drums. How come I played drums?  Even though my mother came from a family of musicians, I was always told that I wasn’t musical, yet since I danced in front of a radio as a two year old waving my hands like I conductor I was considered having a talent for rhythm. 
Playing drums with The Scarecrows.

The Scarecrows ca 1967.
          When you look at these pictures consider that we were about 4-5 years younger than the performers we were trying to emulate.
       The Scarecrows played school parties, soccer or rowing club parties, and other teenage events.  For a while we rehearsed in a sorority house next to where I lived. As exchange we played their parties. The two Scarecrow pictures are all taken there. Here are some songs I remember playing: The Stones I’m free, Paint it Black, Satisfaction, The Kinks Tired of Waiting, The Beatles Michelle, The Yardbirds For Your Love, The Pretty Things LSD (we had no idea what that was), the fabulous Hang on Sloopy by the McCoys and songs by other mostly British bands like the Animals, The Troggs, Herman’s Hermits, Donovan and just to remember for the great names, Dave, Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mitch and Tich. Here is a clip of them at the German TV show Beat Club, where every Saturday afternoon mostly Britsh bands played actually live. This was pretty much our only source of seeing the new Beat groups, as the movement was called, on TV. There was no Rock’n Roll on German radio whatsoever at the time. We would listen to the allied armed forces radio stations whenever we could, British or US, depending where you lived in Germany. Once a week there was the hit parade and I remember listening with a transistor radio under the bedsheets with or without a single earplug. These radios were not much bigger than today’s smartphones and you could get just a couple of stations. Then there were reel to reel players, with which we recorded some of those radio shows and of course record players, but we didn’t always have the money to buy records. The tapes fit about an hour or more of music and you could just record over and over. We always rushed to whoever of our friends had the newest Stones of Beatles LP, and we would listen over and over, while excitedly reading the liner notes and staring at the artwork.

Scracrows out side a Carneval show. Author front left.
Dancing to the Dave Clark 5 on my 15th b-day.

       This picture shows me dancing at my birthday, all dressed up. I remember that we played The Dave Clark Five’s Bits and Pieces all afternoon long. Since the song came out in 1964, it must have been my 15th birthday. Dancing was big, you could rock out and the best way to get close to a girl was the slow dance, like the Beatles Michelle. 
Scarecrows meet the Beatles in front of the Star Club Hamburg.

       There were bands forming and playing all over the place. Remember that the Beatles got their 
10 000 hours for mastery at the Star Club in Hamburg, were they played several times for week-long engagements, playing three to five sets every night in the middle of Hamburg’s famous red-light district the Reeperbahn. This is before they got big and this is how they honed their skills and learned what works in front of the tough locals and sailors from all over the world. This is also before they slipped into their suits and got the existentialists haircuts by one of their German girlfriends, made famous almost instantly as the Beatles cut.Talking about haircuts. You might find our hair kinda short and it is by what we are used to know. At this time though, when your hair touched your collar you had to go to the principal every time.
Early Beatles LP.
The Beatles in Hamburg, 5 piece, no Ringo yet.
   So, before combing their hair forward it was
greased back and  black leather. Check it out for more pics. They are sitting on a trailer that probably carries the parts from the roller-coaster in the back; notice the wagon is owned by a company from Hannover, where I was growing up at the time.
       Every German city had at least one club where British bands played on the weekend and German bands filled in the weekday slots. Once I was a bit older I went of course. Drinking beer was never a problem in Germany and I think I started going to clubs around 16-17. Before that it was sport-clubs or youth centers were we saw bands and danced. Here are a few attempts at stretching beyond the drums, but this wasn't really happening for me until the 70's
Early guitar attempts
and bass.
       Yeah, the 60's were all about change and the new possibilities, but there were still plenty traditional structures set deep within society as well as the individual. One of the more pleasant customs was to go to the Tanzschule (dance school) during your later teenage years. It was actually real fun. We learned everything from the Waltz, to Foxtrot and Rhumba. Once a week the different dance schools had so called beat parties, where the newest hits were played and no traditional dances done. There was even one school with a band on Saturday night. These were great ways to meet and dance, before we all descended into the world of bars and clubs and alcohol. After the 3 month dance course each school had a final ball. Everybody wore suits and I had to hold a speech. It was kinda like a prom, maybe a bit more formal and with students from different schools. Below a pic of my date and me dancing.
Abschlussball. The formal ball at the end of dance school.
       And then there was Diana Rigg as Emma Peel in the great British TV series the Avengers. Not that I didn't love my beautiful dance partner, but I also loved Emma Peel. She defined the modern powerful woman, who could talk quantum physics, kicked your butt with her karate skills, charmed you to no end and wore the coolest clothes by the likes of Coureges and other contemporary designers, op-art inspired; or the most amazing leather jumpsuits. Plus she drove a Lotus Elan. Mind blowing for a 16th year old German youth. The first seasons are in black and white and the German title was Mit Schirm, Charme and Melone, which means With Umbrella, Charme and Bowler.
 On a school trip.

1 comment:

Hans Jörg Filmi said...

Hallo Dieter,
erinnerst du dich noch an alle, die bei den Scarecrows mitgemacht haben? Mich interessieren vor allem die folgenden auf dem Bild: Scarecrows meet the Beatles in front of the Star Club Hamburg. Wer spielt auf dem rechten Bild Bass - das ist doch nicht Jürgen Rode? Und wer sitzt auf der Schulter des Bassisten, ist das Klaus Erler? Von wem stammt das Foto? Gibt es das in noch besserer Auflösung? Ich möchte meinem Bruder zu seinem 70. Geburtstag im nächsten Jahr ein Buch machen und dabei auf die Fotos zurückgreifen.
Schreib mir mal an meine email-Adresse, du kannst auch benutzen.
Liebe Grüße