Jim Guittard’s Place

Rodney Bingenheimer

Posted in Music, Rock and Roll History by guittard on May 14, 2008

Mayor of Sunset Strip
From my journal on May 5, 2004 – Dallas Texas

I went to see the movie about Rodney Bingenheimer called “The Mayor of Sunset Strip.” He is a guy that hung with many of the core music people of the 1960s and 1970s. Rodney was Davy Jones’ double for the Monkees Television series. Rodney knew Sonny and Cher and the Beatles.

He is most known for being the groundbreaking radio DJ for KROQ 106.7 in Los Angeles. He was first in putting on “the Runaways, Blondie, the Ramones, Social Distortion, Van Halen, Duran Duran, Oasis, the Donnas, No Doubt, Coldplay, Dramarama, the Offspring, the Go-Go’s, the B-52’s, X, the Vandals, and others.”1

The movie is a nostalgic documentary that shows much of my old stomping ground: the Tower Records on Sunset Blvd., Canter’s Deli on Fairfax Avenue, and the Denny’s Restaurant on Sunset Blvd. near the Guitar Center. There’s even a bit showing a crippled guy who polishes the stars along Hollywood Boulevard.2

Rodney also made his own English Disco Club that operated for awhile in Los Angeles. To me, Rodney’s a strange guy. I’ve never met him but I had a friend in L.A. that knew him well. Some people have talked bad about him but my friend said he was nice. I respect his great knowledge of music.

It seems that music was and still is his salvation. I can relate a bit. As a kid, I often locked myself in the bedroom and listened to the Beatles or Elvis. They were my heroes and took me to different places. At school, I was a freak and even loner, I suppose: the only guy with sideburns when I was sixteen years old. That was in 1990. Sideburns weren’t very in style then.

There was one time in the school cafeteria when I was sitting at the table alone and this bully behind me at the next table made fun of me. He yelled and got my attention. I looked over and he was holding two napkins up to both sides of his face like they were sideburns and laughing. I just ignored him. He was some punk clown.

In my high school days, I read biographies about rock and roll. I read one called Life With Elvis by his kid step-brother David Stanley.

At the age of sixteen, David Stanley found himself at the top of the world, traveling from city to city as a personal aide to his stepbrother Elvis Presley. Touring with the king of rock ‘n’ roll, Dave lived life in the fast lane – a way of living most people only dream about. On August 16th, 1977, tragedy struck when Dave found the king of rock ‘n’ roll lying facedown on his bathroom floor, dead at age forty-two. Life With Elvis tells Dave Stanley’s compelling story about growing up with Elvis, the dangers and disillusionment of life in the fast lane, and how he discovered true meaning in life through faith in God. — from book’s dustjacket.

It’s an interesting read. The book has a bit about how hoods often hastled Elvis about his sideburns in the boys’ room. One time at Humes High in Memphis, Elvis’ future bodyguard, Red West, stepped in to help Elvis. This was the time when short hair and flat tops were in style. Elvis styled his hair after truckdrivers. Elvis eventually became a truck driver for awhile before recording “That’s Alright Mama.”

From Elvis’ ’68 Comeback Special

It was natural that I picked up the guitar in the 9th grade and never looked back. Music was my way of relating to the chaotic world around me. Things would explode and erupt but the music remained with me. It is proof that music is power. I really hope that the kids these days can put good stuff in their heads to empower. Elvis, along with many others, instilled in me a philosophy of hope and trust.

I don’t think the kids are getting this message today. What do you think?

Me – With the Highlander Band 1991
Jim Guittard - Highlander Band 1991


up1Wikipedia contributors. Rodney Bingenheimer. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. May 9 2008, at 15:05. Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rodney_Bingenheimer. Accessed May 14, 2004.

up2I spoke to him a few times en route to the Musicians’ Institute that I was attending.

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Time Between

Posted in Change, Family, Music, Risk and the Unknown, Society by guittard on May 9, 2008

From my journal on March 21, 2004 Dallas, Texas:

I am out on the balcony of my grandparents 2-story home smoking an Indian Bidis cigarette in the dark sneaking around like I am a child. I am 30 years old with nothing concrete to show.

As I sit and breathe in and out, I feel that familiar sinking, pushing down feeling on me. The fear and anxiety grips me along with the regret of much of my life. The feeling is that I should have spoken up for myself and not pretended that all was fine.

I’ve been in my current living situation for about seven months. I have never wanted to be like everybody else, to live an insignificant life of mediocrity. I just never knew my thing or felt confident enough to express it.

I think back on my college days in Colorado and the years I wasted going through the motions. I remember watching on late night cable “The Lost Weekend” where the actor locks himself up in his apartment to try to shake the booze cravings and to be a writer. Shame and fear or whatever else always kept him down. For me it was the fear of the unknown that got me caught up or the fear of breaking from tradition or the mold.

Fastforward to today 2008.

I guess, enough is enough, right?

Well, I have been in Bulgaria for the past two years with the Peace Corps teaching English at a high school. Not really teaching, mostly supervising. Ha, ha, ha….

Jim - Sofia, Bulgaria

I told you I wanted to do things different. I have been writing songs and posting about my experiences in a foreign culture. It is pretty foreign. I have even written some songs in the Bulgarian language.

Gangster by Jim Guittard

Stachkata by Jim Guittard

Blog title comes from Chris Hillman’s song on The Byrds 1967 Album “Younger Than Yesterday”

My Connection With Rock & Roll History

Posted in Rock and Roll History by guittard on April 18, 2008

February 2000, Los Angeles, California

I drove up to the Sherman Oaks, California Guitar Center on Ventura. I had grown tired of the Guitar Center on Sunset Blvd and all the tourists. It was so loud. On this particular day, I walked in wearing my John Lennon T-Shirt that said New York City.

John Lennon - New York City

I had gone in to look for a new amplifier. I looked around the store quickly and decided that I had seen enough. I walked out the front door and down the street and decided, no I was going back in.

Inside I found a white Fender Stratocaster and got a power cord and plugged into a Fender amp. I began playing jazz chords. After a few minutes and while I was still playing a guy came up to me.

This was Henry McGuinn. He said, “Hey man. I like your playing. What’s happening? Do you like the Byrds?”

I said, “Yeah, I guess so. I don’t have any of their albums but I like Mr. Tambourine Man and Eight Miles High. That’s all I know.”

Henry said, “My dad’s Roger McGuinn, who started the Byrds.”

I said, “Yeah, man, that’s cool. Can I see your ID?”

Roger McGuinn - Rock and Roll Hall of Famer

We talked in the store for about twenty minutes. We spoke about the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and the Rolling Stones. I finally found someone I could relate to with this type of music. My meeting with Henry left me with renewed purpose. I seemed that I was just waiting around a bit in Hollywood to find the right people. I figured sooner or later I would find someone. I left the Guitar Center stoked, thinking of the possibilities. I guess I was a bit star-struck, too.

The next day, I went to the Warehouse on Sunset Blvd. to look for some Byrds music. I found and bought 5D. It was the Byrds 1966 album that had Eight Miles High, Mr. Spaceman, and I See You on it. I listened to the album a few times and decided to call Henry.

I left a message and an hour or so later he called from a pay phone.

Henry, “Hey, what’s happening? This is Henry McGuinn.”

I said enthusiastically, “Hey, Henry, yeah this is Jim. I met you at the Guitar Center.”

Henry said, “Yeah cool. I’m out by the beach just loving it.”

I said, “I bought 5D. It’s really cool. I haven’t ever really listened to the Byrds but they are really hip.”

The Byrds - Fifth Dimension

Henry said, “Yeah, they’re all good, especially ’65-’68 era. Well, so you want to get together?”

I said, “How bout tomorrow? We could have lunch and then jam.”

Henry, “Yeah, I just want to meet and see if we have chemistry, you know.”

Boy I was excited, the chance to play with someone that liked the same music I did and the fact that his dad is a rock star is totally rad!

The next day I met him outside at his truck. We brought up his guitar and then we walked to a Sandwich shop right up Las Palmas in Hollywood. We ate and talked music and began to get to know each other. We seemed to be on such a similar wavelength. It was kind of amazing chemistry really.

After lunch, we opened up our guitars. He brought out his acoustic 12- String Martin guitar. At first, I just listened to him. He sang a few Byrds tunes. He sang Tambourine Man and You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere and I believe he sang the Christian Life as well. At the time I had never heard the Christian Life and I was stoked on it. I was really inspired to start playing.

The next few times that we met, we listened to Byrds music. At the Tower Records, I loaded up on all sorts of music that he recommended. I was really into it. I bought several Flying Burrito Brothers albums, some Gram Parsons and Lovin’ Spoonful.

Our music was finally coming together. We were playing some Beatles, Byrds, and Dylan covers and some of our new stuff. He played me his cool song called Summertime that he wrote at the beach inspired by George Harrison and What You Say a song about running away and pure Byrds. I loved it. I added some rhythm guitar to it while he did his fingerpicking style soloing inspired by his father.

One day Henry brought over his 12-String Guitar Instructional Video that his dad had done. On the video his dad went wild on the 12- String Rickenbacker playing his old classics. I was again blown away.

McGuinn 12-String Instructional Video

Now prior to that point I had always thought that the Beatles were my number one group but I now believed that the Byrds were up there with them. It was great to learn more about music. I did not feel bad about buying a lot of records. I considered it an investment: The Who ’65, The Zombies, The Association, Beach Boys Pet Sounds, The Kinks, Gram Parsons, and the Flying Burrito Brothers.

The next thing I did was to buy the Johnny Rogan Byrds biography. Henry had been talking about it. It was the only complete Byrds biography written. I found it at the Book Soup book store on Sunset Strip right across the street from Tower Records. Henry and I considered it our manual on how to live a Byrdsian lifestyle.

I met Henry in February 2000 and in March South by Southwest music festival raged in Austin, Texas. We found out that Roger was playing at the Cactus Lounge on the University of Texas Campus. We felt it was a good excuse for a road trip.

Before we left, Henry and I made a trip down to the Rickenbacker factory in Santa Ana. At Rickenbacker, we both waited in the reception area. Shortly after, John Hall, the CEO, came out and I was introduced.

Henry told me stories of John Hall and the Beatles. John Hall had been to the Beatles’ Hollywood Bowl show in 1965 as a teenager and had met all the Beatles and the Byrds. John Lennon and George Harrison both played guitars that were given to them by Rickenbacker and Crosby and then Jim McGuinn would run down to S.A. for Rick customizations . Needless to say, Rickenbacker has had great influence on Rock & Roll. Henry’s father worked with Rickenbacker in designing a custom signature 12-String guitar with an on board compressor. What resulted was the wood colored (Maple Glo) Rickenbacker 370 Model. Henry is totally proud of his father.

While Henry talked with John in his office, I sat down and looked at magazines. We were there for Henry to interview for a job with Rickenbacker. I sat and waited for fifteen minutes and then Henry returned, full of hope for the future. We said our good byes to John Hall and Henry told John that he would get back in touch after our trip to Austin.

I felt on the in-crowd a bit. Rickenbacker had worked with all sorts of artists: REM, Tom Petty, Susana Hoffs, Carl Wilson, etc. I have a Rickenbacker FG 330 from those days. Henry on the 325Byrd and me on the 330 is some of the best noise ever! All the best bands play Rickenbacker.

Hope you enjoyed the read.

Henry McGuinn and Jim Guittard - Austin, Texas SXSW 2000

Henry and I put up a website for our band the Ragas. You can check it out at:

www.myspace.com/theragas

The Ragas Approved Fab Movie List

Posted in Movies, Music, Society, The Arts by guittard on May 23, 2007

Easy Rider,
Blow-Up,
The Kids Are Alright,
Monterey Pop Festival,
Woodstock – 3 Days of Peace & Music (The Director’s Cut),
Altamont,
Concert For Bangladesh,
The Band’s Last Waltz,
Harold And Mod,
This Is Spinal Tap!
The Graduate,
Alfie,
007,
To Sir With Love,
The Beatles Anthology,
The Beatles – Let it Be,
The Beatles – Help,
The Beatles – Hard Day’s Night,
The Beatles – The First U.S. Visit,
The Beatles – Yellow Submarine,
The Beatles – Magical Mystery Tour,
The Beach Boys – Endless Harmony (2000),
Shindig! Presents: Sixties Superstars (1964),
Shindig! Presents: British Invasion, Vol. 1 (1964),
Shindig! Presents: The Kinks (1964),
The Trip,
The Monkees – Head,
Riot On Sunset Strip,
Gimme Shelter,
Midnight Cowboy,
Stephen Stills and Manassas: The Best of Musikladen Live,
Mayor Of The Sunset Strip,
Dig!,
The Party,
Alice’s Restaurant,
Don’t Look Back,
Bob Dylan: No Direction Home,
I Love You, Alice B. Toklas!,
Gimme Some Truth,
John Lennon’s Imagine,
Pink Floyd: Live at Pompei
Wilco: I Am Trying To Break Your Heart
The Forever Changes Concert,
The Rolling Stones – Rock and Roll Circus,
Psych-Out – 1968