The musical shifts towards the end of the 1960s have always been intriguing to me. Psychedelia, music experimentation and the emergence of garage rock against a social-political backdrop has made for many a film and book. But here is a little story I only heard of lately.
It concerns a four-piece called Public Nuisance who had become a successful support band to the like of Buffalo Springfield, The Doors and Grateful Dead. Formed, 1964 and like so many pop bands of the time, Public Nuisance changed and adapted throughout the decade to a more Psychedelia/heavy rock format.
Towards the end of 1968 and early 1969, they recorded an album’s worth of material with producer Terry Melcher.
During 1969 Melcher had sub-let his house to director Roman Polanski and Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys and went on to suffer a breakdown after Polanski’s wife Sharon Tate, along with another four people were murdered by Charles Manson and his cult. Dennis Wilson had been socialising with members of the Manson Family cult.
Melcher closed down his label and basically retreated from sight. Public Nuisance played several gigs but went on to disband in 1970. The band and their recordings for many years went virtually unknown, but for a few people who survived the end of the drug-fuelled decade. Their music was not to see the light of day until 35 years with the release of a complete anthology double-CD entitled Gotta Survive.
Whilst all-female rock bands during the 1960s were generally being ignored Goldie & The Gingerbreads were signed to Decca Records in 1963. The band consisted of Genya Ravan (vocals, percussion and sax), Ginger Bianco, (drums, percussion), Margo Lewis, (organ, keyboards) and Carol MacDonald, (guitar, background vocals). In the UK the band went on to tour with The Rolling Stones, The Animals, The Beatles, Manfred Mann, The Yardbirds, The Hollies and The Kinks. The band became resident in the UK for a 2 year period and through their hard work and determination managed to secure a minor hit in 1965 “Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat” that reached No. 25 on the singles charts. Although extensively touring North America the band failed to achieve similar success in the U.S. where they were generally viewed as a novelty. When “Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat” was released in the U.S. a recording of the same song by Herman’s Hermits was also released with great fanfare the impact of which fatally undermined the chances of them achieving a hit single in their native U.S. A lesser known fact is that Goldie of Goldie & The Gingerbreads (Genya Ravan) was the first person to record the song “Going Back” which was written in 1966 by Gerry Goffin and Carole King. Over the years “Going Back” has been recorded by many artists, although it’s the Dusty Springfield version most people take as the authentic benchmark.
The Goldie version, which was produced by Andrew Loog Oldham (manager and producer of the Rolling Stones 1963-1967) was withdrawn a week after its release following disagreements between Gerry Goffin and Carole King over lyrical content. To give the lyrics of the song more potency lead singer Genya Ravan, born Genyusha Zelkovicz April 19th, 1940 in Poland, arrived in the U.S. during 1947, accompanied by her parents and one sister. They were the only family members to survive the onslaught of Hitler’s Holocaust.