Saturday, April 18, 2020

We Were Brothers - Robbie Robertson and The Band

Were Brothers – New Documentary on The Band

I was looking forward to seeing this film in a real movie theater, but fate intervened. So I put out $7 to rent it for 48 hours and listened to it on my phone and then watched it on my laptop via Youtube, and needed the diversion and distraction from the current reality.

It’s a very good film for those who are familiar with The Band and their story, but it was kind of sad for me because of my personal association with them, that is all of them except Robbie Robertson, the only original member of this Band of Brothers who I have not met.

This is basically Robbie Robertson’s side of the story, a sort of prequel to Martin Scorese’s The Last Waltz, some say the best concert movie ever produced.

The first article I had published in the now defunct Atlantic City Sun newspaper was about how Levon and the Hawks, before they were The Band, played Tony Marts nightclub in Somers Point, NJ for six weeks in the summer of ’65. It was at the time they hooked up with Bob Dylan, then went on his first “electric tour,” were soundly booed at every venue, and then retreated to the artists colony of Woodstock, New York, before it was famous.

I first saw The Band in downtown Cleveland in 1969, then at the Spectrum in Philly a few times, and then more than once when they backed Dylan. I also caught them at a small club off the Black Horse Pike in Berlin and at a Bowling alley in Pennsauken when Blondie Chaplin and a blues harpist Paul Butterfield joined them.

Then after the Last Waltz, I booked them myself (for $7,000) in the mid-1980s to play a Tony Marts Reunion concert at Egos nightclub, the site of the former Tony Marts.

Attorney and former Camden prosecutor Harris Berman and his brother apparently sold a Florida hotel and had a few million they had to burn, so they purchased the old, dilapidated Bay Shores, tore it down and built the Waterfront. Then went across the street and purchased Tony Marts, tore it down and built Egos, a classy disco.

Jody Kish owned Mark’s News on the corner of 8th and Central Ave. in Ocean City, a central community junction for decades. In 1985 Jody and I decided to bring The Band back to Somers Point, and asked Berman if we could use Egos, as the former site of Tony Marts. He wanted to see The Band for himself, so a bunch of us piled into his limo and drove to New York City where we caught The Band at The Lone Star Cafe, a Country-Western bar in the East Village.

Renoun jazz bassist Jaco Pastoris was there, and I got a good picture of him with his guitar covering one eye, but he was too drunk and high to jam with The Band that night. But Berman liked the music, and agreed to let us four wall it, and we got Levon and the boys to agree to play for us a few months later for $7,000. And I got to know Rick Danko better as we sat and had a few beers together and talked.

A few weeks later I caught Rick and Richard Manual do a duo show at the Chestnut Cabaret in Philly, and helped them carry their equipment out to the curb. Richard said he was really looking forward to returning to Somers Point, as he had some good times there, and seeing Tony again. Rick then imitated Tony Marotta’s deep husky Tom Waits type voice, “You boys stay away from the dance girls now….”

Then we all laughed.

But as Robbie Robertson says in Once Were Brothers, - “It was a beautiful thing. It was so beautiful it went up in flames.”

Between the Chestnut Cabaret show and the Tony Marts reunion, Richard hanged himself in a Florida motel shower, The Band’s manager Albert Grossman, who took Dylan and them to Woodstock, and Tony Marotta, Sr. himself died.

But the show went on. Garth needed a Hammond B3 organ that we rented, and drove down in a rented car from Woodstock. The rest of The Band showed up, and despite Harris Berman’s agreement to put them up in one of his boardwalk motels, I had to put their rooms on my mother’s credit card. Rick stayed at my house, and when I was driving him over the Ocean City-Somers Point causeway he asked me to write the true history of The Band.

And while I thought seriously about it, the story is too sad for me to put into words. And Robbie’s film Once Were Brothers reaffirms that opinion.

As Robbie Robertson put it, “I was an only child, and this brotherhood thing was so powerful.”

His mother, Dolly, was an Indian from the Six Nations and his father Alexander Klegerman, who died before he was born, was Jewish, and he was raised by an abusive step father. When he went to visit his mother’s family on a reservation, he says, “When the sun went down the instruments came out.”

Robbie got a little guitar with a cowboy on it and learned to play, then rock and roll exploded – Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis – “For me it was a life altering moment. A revolutionary moment.That’s it. I don’t know what you people are going to do, but I know what I’m going to do. Within a week I was in a band. It was like having your own bowling alley.”

Opening for Rockabilly Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks, Robertson was totally impressed, especially with drummer Levon Helm. After the show Robbie says, “I just hung around to let them rub off on me.”

After overhearing Hawkins say, “I got to do a record and need some new songs,” Robertson ran home and locked himself in a room until he had written two songs that he gave to Hawkins.

When a guitar slot opened in the Hawks, Robertson sold his prized ’56 Stratocaster and took a train to Arkansas in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, the fountainhead of rock and roll and home to Robert Johnson, Sonny Boy Williamson, James Cotton, Levon Helm – “so many great musicians came out of there, down and dirty and heavy, just like the air.”

And he got the job, telling Hawkins that “you will never have to tell me to work harder.”

As for money, Hawkins said, “Don’t worry about money, you will get more pussy than Frank Sinatra.”
The fifteen year old Robertson bonded most closely with drummer Levon Helm, and they became like Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.  Robbie wrote many of the songs, while Levon arranged them. They were soon joined by other Canadians – Rick Danko on bass, Richard Manuel on keys and Garth Hudson on organ. Garth was the best musician of the bunch, and Danko, Manual and Helm all sang.

When they finally got jammnig, Hawkins said, “They hit me like a bolt of lightning.”

They went on the road, mainly playing the Southern “Chitlin’ Circuit,” and continued on the road for years. Finally, in 1965, Hawkins got married and went home to settle down as the group continued on the road as Levon and the Hawks.

Eventually they told their Canadian manager, Colonel Kutlets, that they wanted to settle down too, and needed a steady gig, and he arranged for them to be the house band for the summer at Tony Marts in Somers Point. Just across the bay from dry Ocean City, N.J., Somers Point had over a dozen bars and most of them featured live music. The two biggest bars were Bay Shores on the waterfront and across Bay Avenue was Tony Marts CafĂ© – A photo of place is in the movie Once Were Brothers – around 26 minutes into the film, and there’s also a photo of them sitting on stools by the bar, dressed in black suits and ties.

They played three sets a night, six days a week, and had Mondays off, when most of the bartenders and musicians from the Bay Avenue juke joints played a game of softball with the local policemen – the Hangover League they called it. And when Conway Twitty was the headliner while the Hawks were there, he was a ringer as a former professional ballplayer.

Rather than play ball, Robbie Robertson went to New York City where he went to Tin Pan Alley, the home of songwriters, and hooked up with John Hammond, Jr., a white blues player who took Robertson to the Columbia recording studio where his father, John Hammond, Sr. worked as a talent scout. Having “discovered,” Robert Johnson, Billie Holiday, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, Hammond, Sr. had four aces in his hand.

At the studio, Robertson heard Dylan play a recording of his new song, “Like A Rolling Stone,”  and a few weeks later Dylan decided he wanted to go on the road with a real rock and roll band as that song requires. Sitting in his manger Albert Grossman’s office, Dylan asked about putting a band together, comlete with drums, electric guitars and keyboards. Grossman’s secretary, who happened to be from Toronto, recommended the Hawks, and John Hammond, Jr. reminded Bob that he had met Robbie Robertson from the Hawks.

Dylan called Tony Marts and talked to Levon, who was not familiar with folk music or Dylan, though he had heard the Byrd’s version of “Mr. Tambourine Man,” and liked it. Before “Murder So Foul,” the Byrd’s version of Dylan’s song was the only number one hit Dylan had.

Robertson returned to New York and jammed with Dylan, and when Dylan asked him to go on tour with him, Robertson explained that he was in a band, and they had to stick together.

So Robertson returned to Somers Point and explained to Tony that they had a big opportunity in New York and wanted to get out of the last week of their contract – Labor Day week, the biggest week of the summer. Tony said that they were the best band he’s ever had, and later said, “they were the last of the gentlemen.”

Tony called Colonel Kutlets and asked for another good band for the Labor Day week and Kutlets sent him Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, who had a hit on the charts at the time – “Devil with the Blue Dress.”
Dylan was roundly booed at the Newport Folk Festival when he brought out his electric guitar, Levon and the Hawks  - Levon and Robbie backed Dylan in New York, where they played outdoors at a tennis stadium, and were booed again.

As Robertson put it, “We would go in and set up and play and they would boo. Everywhere we went.I thought it was a strange way to make a buck.”

Levon got tired of it, quit playing and went down to Louisiana to work on an off shore oil rig, being replaced by Micky Jones of The Monkeys fame.

They did a tour of Europe, and were booed again, mainly by the folk music crowd, but the general public bought “Like a Rolling Stone” and it shot up the charts to Number Two, cut off from the top spot by the Beatles.

Then when they returned to the States, Dylan went to Woodstock to stay at Grossman’s house, and had a motorcycle accident, so he stuck around there to recuperate. Meanwhile, Dylan and Grossman had put Robertson, Manuel and Danko on permanent retainer, so they didn’t have to work, and Danko rented a large pink house in West Saugerties, just outside of Woodstock they called “Big Pink.”

Robertson had met a fellow Canadian in Paris, the vivacious Dominique, and they lived in Woodstock together, and they all began to meet at Big Pink where they would write songs on a type writer they put out, and Garth set up a recording studio in the garage-basement where they would jam and record new songs, and eventually Levon returned to fill out The Band, the name that the local townsfolk called them.

Big Pink 

As Bruce Springsteen says, “There is no band greater than the some of the parts than The Band. Just the name says it all.”

They went out on the road together, introduced as, “Ladies and Gentlemen,” The Band to promote their first two albums that included “The Weight,” “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” “Up on Cripple Creek,” et al., and then backed Bob Dylan on a number of tours that really rocked.

They played the first Woodstock festival in 1969 without Dylan, but Grossman their manager wouldn’t let them be included in the film. The song “The Weight” became a big hit after it was included in the film “Easy Rider,” but once again, it was a cover version as Grossman didn’t want them in the popular record of that cult movie.

Eventually, at some point, as Robertson puts it, “Then it was broken, fractured, like glass, and it was hard to put back together.

Alochol, drugs, cocaine and heroin did them in, except for Garth, the musical mainstay of The Band, and with Robertson, the last survivor.

Garth’s classic song “Chest Fever” includes the lines “Going down to the Dunes with the Goons,” that I think is a reference to the old all night rock joint The Dunes, where the bouncers were known to be brutal.

Robertson wanted out, and wanted to go out with a bang, so he arranged for Martin Scorsese to film a concert at Winterland in San Francisco, where Bill Graham had arranged for them to play their first show as The Band, and  they called it “The Last Waltz.”

For Robertson it was, but for the rest of The Band, they eventually kept going. I saw them with and without Robertson, dozens of times over the years, besides booking them myself for the Tony Marts Reunion.

In 1990 I saw them practice and then play in Roger Walter’s The Wall at the Berlin Wall when they were dismantling it. I got a picture of Rick and me, and me and Ronnie Hawkins – the original Hawk, but they are color slides and I don’t know how to convert them to digital, yet.

It was quite sad though, because Rick had a babysitter that wouldn’t let him have a drink with us, or even socialize with anyone. A few years later Rick brought his own band to Somers Point to play the Good Old Days Picnic on the Saturday after Labor Day and my brother stopped by on his bicycle as he was riding in the Maloney’s bike a thon. We stood next to the stage, and Rick played and sang well, as a video of the show indicates, but Rick looked terrible, overweight and puffy, and I felt sorry for him, though we hugged each other like old friends.

Rick’s teenage son had died of an overdose, Richard hung himself, Rick drank himself to death.

Levon continued on however, and played Somers Point’s Bubba Mack Shack often, bringing along his daughter. After a bout of cancer when he couldn’t sing, he came out on the road again like the good old days, playing and singing, and even got a headliner gig at an Atlantic City casino, opening for the Black Crows that I caught.

I took this photo of Levon with a Tony Marts T-shirt I gave him at Bubba Mack Shack 
That's Howlin' Wolf's guitarist Hubert Sumlin sitting behind him 

Levon also wrote a book, “This Wheels on Fire,” in which he berated Robbie Robertson for copyrighting most of the songs, when he arranged them and the whole band played and sang and deserved some of the royalties that only Robbie was getting.

That’s the way the music copyright law works – whoever writes the song gets the dough. When organist Gary Booker – who makes Procol Harum’s “A White Shade of Pale” a classic song sued to get some of the royalities, a judge agreed his original instrumental organ is a defining part of the song, and gave it to him.

When Kris Kristopherson wrote “Me and Bobby McGee” while he was working as a janitor at the Columbia studios in Nashville, he overheard one of the session musicians Fred Foster mention Bobby McGee, wrote the song, and then gave Foster co-author credit and half the royalties just for saying “Bobby McGee.”

While Levon may have been right in that songs were a group effort, Robbie penned most of the words, and he gets the credits and royalties. 

And now with Levon dead, Robbie gets to put out his side of this story, which is beautiful, yet sad.

When I get out of isolation and my Honda Odyssey is back on the road, and I have a few bucks to play with, I'm going to take a ride up Highway 9 to New York State and visit Woodstock, the artists colony that's thirty miles from the site of the original Woodstock Music and Arts Festival in Bethel. I hope to visit Big Pink, Garth and Levon's daughter Amy, and get their side of the story. 

Seeing this film stimulated me to go back and revive a Roman a Cleff novela I wrote in 2015, fifty years after the events occurred – Waiting On the Angels – the Long Cool Summer of ’65 Revisited, which includes the story of Levon and the Hawks at Tony Marts and how they hooked up with Bob Dylan, all based on real people and true events. Coming soon, so stay tuned.

Bill Kelly -
Video of Robbie singing his new song We Were Brothers 

We Were Brothers - Song Lyrics 

When the light goes out
And you can't go on
You miss your brothers
But now they're gone

When the light goes out
We go our own way
Nothing here but darkness
No reason to stay

Oh, once we're brothers
Brothers no more
We lost a connection
After the war

There'll be no revival
There'll be no one cold
Once were brothers
Brothers no more

When that curtain comes down
We'll let go of the past
Tomorrow's another day
Some things weren't meant to last

When that curtain comes down
On the final act
And you know, you know deep inside
There's no goin' back

Waiting On the Angels - Part 1

Monday, April 13, 2020

Preparing for the Post Apocalypse World

Preparing for the Post Apocalypse World

Jon Bon Jovi talks Jersey 4 Jersey benefit, ‘Do What You Can,’ and being a social-distancing memeBruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi Holding Coronavirus Fundraiser For NJ
  Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce - The Boss

Bruce Springsteen, Danny DeVito, Whoopi Goldberg, more join forces in ‘Jersey 4 Jersey’ coronavirus relief show. How to watch.
Others committed to the show

By Bill Kelly

If you would have told me two months ago that there would be no St. Patrick's Day Parade, March Madness, Broadway plays, the boardwalks, beach, live music and the bars, restaurants and most businesses would be closed, including the State Parks, where I had been taking refuge, I would have only thought that there must have been a nuclear holocaust.

I never considered a biological virus attack on our whole society, though one hundred and three years ago my grandmother, my mother's mother, died of the Spanish Flu epidemic in 1918, a year after my mother was born.

And while  compiling a 100 year history of Camp Dix - now Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst (JBMDL), I edited reports that indicated that flu ravished the base for about a year, killing more soldiers than those who died in combat in World War I. So I was quite aware of what such an epidemic could do.

I had also wrote about the U.S. Army Inspector General's Report on the Use of Human Subjects in Chemical Agent Research, which detailed how they tested different chemicals and biological agents on soldiers, students and prisoners. One major Army contract for such testing went to Hannahaman Hospital, which is now closed. Just last week, when they asked the owner of the building to reopen to handle Corona19 cases, he wanted a million dollars. So much for greed and human kindness.

The year I got that report, the Bicentennial summer of '76 - I worked with Bill Vitka, New Director of WMMR radio, who interviewed those in Philadelphia who were named in the report, and I think he won an award for his work.

That same  year I read a short item in the newspaper that said some biological warfare agents were missing from Fort Detrick, Maryland, where they do most of the chemical-bio warfare testing for the military, and shortly thereafter the Legionnaires Disease broke out at a veterans convention at the Bellview Stratford Hotel, the swankiest hotel in town at the time. It has symptoms very similar to Corona19 and attacks the lungs through the air.

I also worked with the Army at Fort Dix helping to train the soldiers before they are deployed overseas, and three of the dozens of scenarios we ran involved responding to chemical and biological warfare, and some units are trained and designated just for those types of operations.

The military has a contingency plan for every conceivable type of scenario, and they must have one for this pandemic, which is a foreign agent attack on our entire system and society.

I'd like to know if Corona19 is a naturally produced product or man made?

I find it strange that the city in China where the disease first surfaced is the home of one of only a few Level Four Labs that are built to study such harmful biological toxins.

During this crisis I thought of three movies that are worth mentioning - Bruce Willis in 13 Monkies, Andromeda Strain and On the Beach.

12 Monkies was filmed in Philadelphia and some of my old Camden neighborhood and features Willis as a time traveler sent back to Philadelphia to try to prevent the accidental release of biological toxins developed in a lab. It includes some interesting scenes of old Admiral Wilson Boulevard in Camden including some of the whore house motels and bars that are no longer there - thanks to Christie Whitman, who thought them obscene as the first thing you see when driving into New Jersey.

Then there's the old Met - Metropolitan Opera on North Broad street, where the Philadelphia Orchestra recorded, but in the film it is all falling apart, as it was for real, but only recently restored into a magnificent theater it once was, a musical venue that I hope we will be able to enjoy again soon.

Andromeda Strain is about a doctor and scientist who is called from his black tie party by some MPs who merely tell him "We have a fire," the key words that requires him to get a Hazmat Suit on and retrieve an airborne biological toxin that a military satellite brought back from outer space, crashed in the Nevada desert and was opened by a country doctor killing everybody around except an old man and child.

The movie gives a good view of a Level Five Lab, and how it is run - under an Agricultural Research Station and reached through an elevator disguised as a janitor closet.

I hope our Level Five Labs are all busy trying to figure out how to deal with Corona19, as I am sure they are at Fort Detrick.

And finally, On the Beach stars Gregory Peck as a 1960s era nuclear sub captain who retreats to Australia in a Post-Apocalyptic world to get away from the radio active fallout after a nuclear war, that nobody seems to know how or why was fought. How you live and what you do with the knowledge that eventually you are doomed, seems too much like today.

The Aussie outback song "Waltzing Matilda" can be heard throughout the film, which made me look it up and it just happened to be "Waltzing Matilda Day" as the song was first performed in April 1895, and I've been playing Tom Waits song, "Tom Traubert's Blues," that's based on the Waltzing Matilda melody.

As prolific Ocean City music hall concert promoter recently posted, music being recorded at home by musicians and singers is one of the highlights of being stuck in this rut.

I am Facebook friends with a number of musicians who have been gathering large followings by posting their performances on line - Hillary Klug, the Nashville fiddle player and Buck Dancer in boots is one. A young violinist who isn't a teenager yet is another.

And Billy Walton is the best. He has been presenting makeshift songs from his living room at home for a while now, placing his cell phone on a table, playing guitar and piano (I didn't know he could play the piano so well!), and sometimes having his son and daughter accompany him on drums and keys. Billy had to postpone a UK Tour because of this shit, and I know he is anxious to get back into performing live again with his full band.

Carmen and Nancy Marotta of Tony Marts fame are also doing a bang up job of booking really great talent for the Somers Point Beach Concerts and at Kennedy Park on the Atlantic City Boardwalk, just across from the old Convention Hall. I hope they can keep these acts together, and by summer we can get these shows underway.

But at this point in time I am very pessimistic, as things appear they will get worse before they get better, and we all have to stay healthy to live in the Post-Apocalypic World, whenever that comes and whatever it brings.

I'm pretty sure that before we will be all out and about, and go to bars, restaurants and concerts again, we will have a lot more of the remotely produced live streamed from home shows that we can only enjoy on our home computers, laptops and cell phones.

I think that the Casino Reinvestment Authority should financially back all of the casinos in making every theater in the city remotely accessible over wifi, so people can enjoy the shows from home or their phone and car, after all people now gamble from home and their phones, why not create remote entertainment venues that anyone can enjoy.

One problem will be to figure out how to make money from such remote shows - as I used to get paid for writing my Nightbeat Column for print, while  now I just post this blog without any income, even though I get hundreds of hits a day. How do you convert those hits to cash, that is the question?

One way is to buy their albums and CDs, as Billy Walton has a new one out that is really fantastic.

I'm sure we will figure it out, once the wildfire is out, but while we have so much time on our hands we can at least think about it, and give a hats off and salute not only to the health care workers on the front lines, and store clerks, but the musicians and entertainers who are trying to continue to make us happy, as we were before.

And next Wednesday, April 22 at 7 pm . New Jersey rockers will put together a benefit concert to raise money to fight the Corona 19 virus - a show that should include Bon Jovi, Bruce the Boss, Southside Johnny and probably Billy Walton, and other stars and celebrities - all live streaming from their homes, the new norm.

Organized by Governor Murphy's wife Tammy - a friend of Bon Jovi, the Fund has already raised $18 million that is being distributed to non-profits in the state. To contribute go to:
Home - NJ Pandemic Relief Fund

Bon Jovi's whose album 2020 and tour has been delayed by fate, wrote a new song - Do What You Can 
Jon Bon Jovi talks Jersey 4 Jersey, ‘Do What You Can,’ and being a social-distancing meme

JERSEY 4 JERSEY FUNDRAISER For NJPRF - New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund

Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Halsey to Perform for New Jersey Benefit

Jon Bon Jovi talks Jersey 4 Jersey, ‘Do What You Can,’ and being a social-distancing meme

Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Danny DeVito, more to play big Jersey 4 Jersey special

BK NOTES: I will try to add more links to this when I can

Friday, March 13, 2020

The Parkway Murders - A Cold Case Mystery

The Parkway Murders – A Cold Case Mystery by Christian Barth (2020 WildBlue Press, Colorado)

Seldom is a book published that can really make a difference and this one can, if people will read it, someone makes a documentary film of it, and those responsible officials review the case with the latest information Christian Barth has assembled here in the definitive book on the case of the coeds murdered on the Garden State Parkway.

As I mentioned in a luncheon talk to the Atlantic County Historical Society, there are a number of unsolved cold case homicides that can and should be legally resolved – specifically mentioning the 1964 Labor Day murder of Ocean City businessman Harry Anglemeyer, and the Memorial Day 1969 Garden State Parkway murders. To them I add the mob murder of former Atlantic County judge Helfant. These murders can be legally resolved because the killers are known, some well-known, like mass murderer Ted Bundy, a chief suspect in the Parkway case.

When Christian Barth wrote a fictional novelized version of the Parkway murders some years ago, I told him to write the true story, as it is much more interesting than anything you can make up or imagine, and now he has done that.

No one who was at the Jersey Shore that summer of ’69 will forget the Memorial Day disappearance of college coeds Elizabeth Perry and Susan Davis, who were last seen driving their blue Chevy convertible towards the Parkway north after leaving the Point Diner in Somers Point early that morning.

As I just ate breakfast there last Saturday, you can’t help but think back to those days. I had just graduated from high school, Class of ’69, and was working at Mack and Manco Pizza on the Ocean City boardwalk, getting ready to go to college. After work at midnight, we’d often cross over the bay to go to the Point Diner, that was then open all night. We'd have breakfast with the predominately young crowd that were kicked out of the Bay Shores, Tony Marts and the Bay Avenue bars that closed at 2 a.m. There were juke boxes in the booths back then, and it was easy to mingle with the crowd, as the girls did, offering seats at their table to some other young college kids who bought them breakfast.

An off duty police officer, exiting the Jolly Roger bar across the street, saw the girls in the blue convertible stop and give a lift to a clean cut young man – not a hippie, who had his arm in a sling - Bundy's MO. 

A few hours later a N.J. State Trooper saw the car parked on the side of the road as he drove north on the Parkway from his Avalon barracks. He checked with a national stolen car database and determined the car wasn’t reported stolen, then he considered it abandoned and had it towed to Blazer’s auto on Tilton Road, a few miles up the highway. Then the Trooper took the weekend off and Blazer went fishing, neither learning that two girls had gone missing along with their blue Chevy convertible, until after they returned to work from the holiday weekend.

When the girls failed to return home from the Shore their fathers leased an air plane and were following the path the girls would have gone, looking for the car in the brush off the side of the road if they had an accident.

A few days later, when Blitzer and the Trooper returned to duty, and put two and two together, they realized the girl’s car was the one they towed from mile marker 31.9, just off the Ocean City-Somers Point exit where they got on. Their bodies were found near one another, covered with leaves two hundred feet from the highway in the thick underbrush, having been stabbed to death. But whoever committed this crime had a three day getaway before the investigation actually began.

Unlike Barth’s fictionalized account, this story does not blame Ted Bundy for the Parkway murders, though he was here at the time, it’s his MO – Modus Operandi, and he confessed to the killings. Barth has even discovered that Bundy’s Philadelphia based family owned property in Ocean City and he visited there often as a kid. Barth has also discovered dozens of new witnesses and leads that official investigators should be following, where ever they go.

But the official investigators understandably don’t want Bundy to be the killer, because if he did it, and they hadn’t screwed up the investigation from the beginning, Bundy wouldn’t have gone on to kill fifty other, beautiful young women, with their hair parted down the middle.

After Bundy was executed in Florida, the New Jersey State Police didn’t even bother to send a representative to the Bundy Conference of law enforcement investigators at Quantico, Virginia to see what other crimes could be attributed to him.

Once Bundy was dead however, his prison psychiatrist Dr. Arthur Norman, an Oregon clinical forensic psychologist was free to discuss what Bundy had told him, including the fact that he took two girls out at the Jersey Shore, and it was the first time he did it. “You know,” Bundy told Norman, “it’s like an overwhelming kind of vision, eventually found himself tearing around that place for a couple of days. And eventually, without really planning anything, he picked up a couple of young girls. And ended up with the first time he had ever done it. So when he left for the coast, it was not just getting away, it was more like an escape.”

As a chronology of the crime, compilation of media reports and what is known about the official investigations, Barth has done a remarkable job of gathering all of the information on the case that’s in the public domain, putting it into a readable narrative, and with holding any definitive conclusions.

When Barth asked the NJ State Police access to their case file, they refused, saying the investigation remains “open,” though it’s no longer active.

Even from just the public record, and what information he has gathered from those living who were involved, Bundy stands out like a sore thumb, and you would think it pretty simple to match Bundy’s fingerprints to those found on the car, or match his DNA to their clothing, but there’s a peculiar and understandable reluctance for them to do so.

As it’s been over fifty years – a half century, there’s no chance justice will ever be served, though determining the truth is another matter, not only for the victims and their families, but for the community and the public, who really do want to know that a homicidal maniac and mass murderer isn’t still out there.

When the federal Justice Department refused to investigate the civil rights murders of the fifties, sixties and seventies, even after Congress under the Emmitt Till Bill ordered them to do so, Stu Wexler's New Jersey High School students wrote and got Congress to pass a new law releasing to the public the investigative files of the unsolved cold case civil rights murders. While the Parkway murders were not racially motivated, the civil rights of the two murdered girls were certainly violated, and the Parkway murders case files could fall through the legal cracks under this law, as it does just what Barth wants – a public review of the case files.

In addition, the Atlantic County and Cape May County Prosecutors Offices, Ocean City and Somers Point Police Departments, New Jersey State Police and the FBI should what they normally do when confronted with complicated, unresolved investigations, especially homicides – and that’s to form a Cold Case Task Force and assign manpower to investigate the many outstanding leads Barth has come up with. Barth, an attorney, should be included in any such Task Force.

The New Jersey Attorney General has threatened to create a state wide cold case task force dedicated to resolving such crimes.

One thing in favor of a new investigation is the fact that the current detectives responsible for investigating such major crimes were not around in 1969, and so they aren’t responsible for the early screw ups, and could begin a serious review of the case with new eyes.

For that to happen however, Barth’s book has to be widely read by the public as well as the official investigators, and the public must put pressure on them to reopen the case. Perhaps a paperback version of this book can be published for easy beach reading this summer.

In addition, since the post-literate society doesn’t really read books anymore, someone with the wherewithall to make a documentary film of this book could put the public and media pressure over the top, and force the authorities to properly re-investigate this crime, and determine who was responsible to a legal and moral certainty. 

While this may be a good read during the current crisis, and you can get it on line, hopefully you will soon be able to walk into the SunRose Bookshop on Asbury Avenue in Ocean City and pick up a copy, and if you do say hello to the girls there who helped sell out three printings of my book 300 Years at the Point.  

Bill Kelly is the author of 300 Years at the Point – A History of Somers Point, N.J.; Birth of the Birdie – a 100 Years of Golf at Atlantic City Country Club; and Waiting on the Angles – the Long Cool Summer of ’65 Revisited. He can be reached at

Friday, January 10, 2020

The Billy Walton Band - The Best at the Jersey Shore

The Billy Walton Band - The Best at the Jersey Shore - Bar None 

Today - Friday Jan. 10, 2020 - at Union Station solo 4pm 
Tonight - Josie Kelly's in Somers Point. 

By Bill Kelly 

The Billy Walton Band is the best rock and roll band to come out of the Jersey Shore in years, and there is no second, no challengers to the title Billy has held for the past few years, no one on the horizon to give him any competition. 

I’ve been following the wayward Jersey Shore rockers for five years now, and despite changes in some of the personnel, they’ve maintained a steady balance of really putting out from the first note to the last, and in no small part to the orchestration of Billy, formerly best known as South Side Johnny’s leading guitarist.

Since heading out on his own it’s quite clear that Billy has the talent, experience and visual charisma to take his music to another level, and break out of the seasonal Jersey Shore music scene, but he’s done that in a route that’s different than the Boss, Southside, Bon Jovi and the rest. Instead of trying to take New York or the major markets by storm, he’s going through the back door via Europe. 

Having played the UK, Netherlands and Germany twice a year for the past few years, at least a dozen times, he’s got the European tour thing down to a routine, and has built up a strong following overseas – a sort of reverse British Invasion.

Billy sort of reminds me of the classic jazz and blues artists who, when pop music drowned them out, found a friendly audience in Paris and London, or as the late, great Hubert Sumlin put it, “They like me better in Yope,” – and it took me a minute to realize he meant he was better appreciated Europe than at home.  

So after Billy Walton was away for awhile, I needed some rock and roll therapy, a good fix of Billy’s adrenalin fueled music and knew where to get it. Billy plays solo and with his band at a number of popular venues, mainly at the Jersey Shore – the Somers Point Beach, Mott's Creek, Sweetwater, Josie Kelly’s in Somers Point, a couple of Atlantic City casinos (Hard Rock), the Stone Pony and Wonderbar (Jan. 18) in Asbury Park, Lizie Rose Music Room in Tuckerton (Jan 31) and Union Station in Mt. Holly.

Starting the new years off on a good note, and for the third year in a row, I caught Billy and the band at the Laguna beach grill in Brigantine, for the annual Polar Bear plunge, though it has been more like a beach day in March, they really made the joint rock. 

I had previously caught Billy and the Waltons on their first gig back from "Yope" at Union Station a few weeks ago, and got a small table against the wall close to the stage. From there I got a good impression of why Billy is the Number One Jersey Shore Band not only at the Jersey Shore today, but in some parts of Germany, the Hague and UK, where their gigs are witnessed by enthusiastic fans that form a solid international base they are building on.

The Union Station is an old downtown Mt. Holly fire station that has been converted into an entertainment venue, a large hall with a bar against the close wall, tables and a large stage against the back wall. While there was a nominal cover charge, the $4 beers were like the local pub, and there was some good food being served around, though the crowd outnumbered the servers.

A relatively new enterprise, the second owner is organizing the place properly and has taken a shine to Billy, who booked the band not only for their first gig back from across the pond, but also for a few solo gigs where Billy comes in and plays guitar and sings all by his self.

From the very first note, I was waiting for a break to go get another beer, but it never happened, as the entire first set went on like a tornado, with lightning, and showed me how and why the Billy Walton Band is the most popular Jersey Shore band in Europe – if not the Jersey Shore, as they don’t let up.

That’s a nod of the head to Billy Walton, who I have nicknamed the Director, who has not only put together a series of great sets, but has choreographed them into a show that keeps you mesmerized from beginning to end. There’s no let up, not even between songs, like with most cover bands, who talk among themselves, “what do we play next?,” – “Any requests?”

Forget it, the Billy Walton Band does not do requests, or weddings, as they don’t do the macarena, but they do compile a handful of uniquely refined and rehearsed classics (“Papa Was a Rollins Stone,” Little Feat’s “Spanish Moon,” “Light My Fire,” and their growing litany of original tunes, ala “Hell N’ High Water,” that keeps your interest and by the second set, has the dance floor rockin’.

Like all of the best Jersey Shore rockers, Billy does extend some songs by keeping a steady beat, telling a story before whaling out, and giving each of the musician a solo  – drums, bass, keys, sax and trumpet, in which they all shine to let you know whey they’re there.  While the horns make it happen, Eric is hot on the keys, it is bassist William Paris – (there’s only one Billy in this band) who is the backbone of this band. He takes the lead vocals on a few songs, and stands out, with the rest of the crew now as tight as I’ve ever seen them, effortlessly moving from one song to another without instructions.

After a few really good CDs – “Soul of A Man,” “Live in UK,” “Live at the Stone Pony,” and “Crank It Up,” they now have another studio recording “Wish For What You Want,” that was produced by Eric Burdon’s drummer and award winning producer Tony Braunagel. And they recently spent time in the studio so there might be another one on the way. Though the recordings are good for the car, Billy is best appreciated live, and he never lets you down.

After the first gig back in the States at Union Station I just happened to be passing by a week later when Billy was doing a solo gig there, late Friday afternoon happy hour, and while it wasn’t promoted there were a dozen witnesses to Billy’s one man show,

I caught Billy unloading his equipment by himself, no roadie, and thought I caught him doing a menial job he didn’t want to do, but he gave me a Jack Nicholson grin – Here's Billy! - just for me – and says, “I’m livin’ a Dream!.”

And there’s a song there Billy, and indeed you are livin' a dream.

After following his mother into Long Beach Island bars with bands in the 70's, learning music and taking the guitar to the limit with South Side Johnny, Billy Walton is now taking a crew of musicians with him on a musical journey that’s still just getting started.

As my college logic teacher told me that it was great that I was a professional journalist and getting paid to write, it is truly great that Billy and his band are making a living doing what they love best – playing Jersey Shore rock and roll, and getting others to appreciate it.

As someone else remarked, solo Billy was playing as strong and as hard as if it was full house at Carnegie Hall instead of just a dozen people in a backwater pub. He even played a request, though he mocked it to emphasize his distaste for over-appreciated songs.

Billy began his first set with his vehicle still parked in front of the joint, that you could see through the big window, as a cop car was about to give it a ticket, so in the middle of a song he put his guitar down, moved the car, and returned to the mic, picked up his guitar and carried on as if he didn’t miss a beat.

His engaging smile makes you smile, his intensity makes you want to dance, and his continuity full fills you to the point that at the end of the show, you not only got your money’s worth, but you want more, or at least a CD to take home with you.

In looking at the Billy Walton calendar for 2020, I see that Billy is playing solo again today at the Union Station in Mt. Holly (from 4pm – 7pm) and then joining his band mates afterwards and playing tonight at Josie Kelly’s Public House in Somers Point, my old stomping grounds. It could be a double header.

Josie Kelly's is a new joint in the Point, an Irish Public House run by Kathleen and Dermott Lloyd and the boys from Limerick, that features live music almost every night, the new Tony Marts and Bay Shores, and the word on the street is that there will be a couple special guests sitting in with the Billy Walton Band tonight - Jeff Bugden and Sunday Grasso.

I'm going to try to make both shows, but I’m also starting to save up for March to follow them to Europe and catch the Billy Walton Band in Germany, where the boys from Liverpool had to go to make it, and UK, where they line up outside the pubs to see the boys from the Jersey Shore, and they don’t let them down.

From LBI, Mt. Holly, Somers Point and Asbury Park to Dorphof, Bedford, Cheltenham and Southhampton, the Billy Walton Band is on a roll, a Jersey Shore rock n’ roll wave that is really catching on, “Come Hell N’ High Water.” 

Friday, October 11, 2019

Remarks Before the Atlantic County Historical Society

William Kelly- Remarks before the Atlantic County Historical Society Luncheon – October 12, 2019

It is an honor to be invited to address this distinguished group of historians and people interested in our local regional history, and I don’t want to lecture you about things you are already well acquainted with. So I will briefly address a number of interesting issues that are not included in 300 Years at the Point, and hope to inspire you to research them further.

A history buff may read a lot of history, but a researcher takes what is known and takes it further, and there are plenty of areas that are in need of more research.

I will be talking about two murders, two mayors and two brothers. The murders of Harry Anglemeyer and the Parkway Coeds are considered cold case homicides, but they can and should be solved to a legal and moral certainty, though justice will never be served.

Harry Anglemyer was the Boardwalk Fudge King who owned a chain of Copper Kettle Fudge Shops in Sea Isle City, Ocean City and Atlantic City. He lived above his shop on the Ocean City boardwalk, was an active civic association member and was an advocate of doing away with the city’s blue laws that forbade him from selling fudge on Sunday. He was also somewhat flagrantly gay, and an embarrassment to other civic leaders who didn’t appreciate his lifestyle, that included a nightly swirl through Somers Point bars, until Labor Day, 1964. That’s the night that he said he was supposed to reluctantly meet someone at the Dunes after hours nightclub on the Longport Blvd. There he met his death when a man in a black suit punched him and he hit his head on a concrete bunker. Three men then lifted him into his car, took his diamond ring, and left him to bleed to death. I write about Anglemeyer’s murder in my Roman a Cleff novela – Waiting on the Angels – the Long, Cool, Summer of ’65 Revisited, which you can read on line – - allposts/src=sidebar                                          
The Anglemeyer murder can be solved, but the Ocean City police have obstructed the investigation because some of their relatives are involved.

Then there’s the Memorial Day 1969 Parkway Co-ed Murders of two young college girls whose car was towed off the Parkway and they were found dead in the woods a few days later, a cold trail that today, leads directly to mass murderer Ted Bundy. Bundy was here at the time, and his MO – Modus Operandi was used and he actually confessed to the crime to his prison psychologist – saying it was the first time he “did it.” And because the State Police failed to call in the car they towed, the murders went undetected for a few days, long enough for the killer to get away. And the fact that the police made mistakes in their investigation, they refuse to consider Bundy a suspect because if he did do it, then they could be responsible for the thirty some murders he committed afterwards.

Now my father was a policeman for 47 years, and I understand that, but Bundy’s fingerprints should be compared to those found on the car, and his DNA should be checked against those found at the scene.
And both of these cold case homicides can be taken off the books.

The two mayors of Somers Point I want to mention are John McCann, Jr. and George Roberts. John McCann, Jr. was the son of the John McCann, prohibition bootlegger who specialized in beer – and was considered a Beer Barron who owned Bay Shores and built the Dunes nightclub.

When he was elected Mayor, McCann actually lived in Pittsburgh and traveled to Somers Point council meetings by helicopter. Then one day he picked up his teenage daughters in school and with his wife disappeared. It turns out that, like his father before him, McCann got heavily involved in smuggling drugs – cocaine, bringing it in by the ton by plane, until one of his planes crashed in Mexico. That’s when he disappeared.

McCann was then spotted in Canada, stocking shelves in a convenience store, recognized by a Somers Point local on vacation. McCann was then arrested reentering the United States from Canada, and he pleads a bargain to make sure his wife and family was protected. His wife then married his lawyer and McCann was called to testify before the Kerry Congressional Committee where he told of his experience with Manuel Noriega, the dictator of Panama. McCann visited Noriega and gave him a suitcase full of cash in exchange for his planes to be allowed to refuel in Panama. Noriega showed McCann the file the CIA kept on Somers Point mayor, clearly indicating his own ties to the agency. After corresponding with me a number of times by mail, McCann died of cancer in prison. His Senate testimony however, should be obtained and archived for those who want to advance the research in these areas.

Then there was Mayor George Roberts, whose real estate office was across the street from City Hall and Charlies bar. Roberts had the listing for the Anchorage Tavern, and while on vacation in Florida, accepted a down payment for the Anchorage from Bill Morris. When Morris came to Somers Point to inspect the property, Andrew Corneglia the owner was surprised as Roberts never told him about the sale or the down payment, a six figure sum that Roberts kept. While Andrew fought the sale in court, he lost and had to sell the property, but the news reports of Roberts’ treachery brought a number of other local people out to reval how Roberts had also done some unsavory things to them involving mortgage fraud and false sales. And while there have been periodic news reports, someone should put this story together in one place.

Now as for the two brothers, I’m quite confident you never heard of them, because I am still learning about them. This story stems from the little yellow booklet of photos of homes from the 1920s. Back in the late 1970s when I first came across the booklet, I traveled around town taking photos of the homes that appeared in the book to compare and contrast them after fifty years. One of them is the house on the north east corner of Fifth Street and New York Avenue, which the booklet shows was once a very large mansion that took up the entire block. While the Carriage House in the back on the alley is a good example of the type of original architecture, much of the mansion apparently burned down in a fire, but what remains has been restored and divided into a number of apartments, where a friend of mine now lives.

Spending time there, I took an interest in the original owner and found that Willard Huntington Wright was a distinguished New York literary editor who wrote early detective novels under the pseudonym S.S. Van Dine, popularizing fictional detective Philo Vance, and setting the style for    Sam Spade, Columbo and other similar detective novels that were made into radio shows and movies, which is where Wright made his money. Apparenly he spent some of it on his Somers Point mansion, where he was known to throw lavish parties. Willard Wright’s brother Stanton Wright was an artist – a modern artist in the Picaso tradition, and they wrote an important book together – From Manet to Cubism, and Stanton painted a realistic portrait of his brother Willard that hands in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. 

Monday, August 19, 2019

Ritchie Havens at Woodstock Remembered

Richie Havens at Woodstock 42 Years Ago Today

BK Notes: This was written in August 2011 

Jerry, my friend from the old neighborhood emailed me to remind me that this was the anniversary of Woodstock, and was recollecting our trip there.

I remember how I tracked high school mates Jerry and Marc down in Wildwood, where they lived in a motel room and worked as short order cooks at a boardwalk grill. Sitting in their motel room they were excited about a new album by Santana, and played it for me.

Then they said Santana was going to be playing at this festival at Woodstock in upstate New York, where Dylan and The Band were holed up, and The Band was playing the festival too. They were planning to go and wanted me to go with them, even though I was committed to working for the summer, especially weekends.

A few years ago, on another anniversary, Jerry wrote what he remembered. How him and me and our high school mates Mark and Bob left Ocean City in my father's car as soon as I finished work at Mack & Manco's around midnight.

It was the weekend or so before Labor Day, and I had gotten a letter from school - I was to be a freshman at the University of Dayton, Ohio in September, but they sent me a letter saying I had to be at a special "orientation" class the same weekend as Woodstock. I showed the letter to my boss, Mr. Mack, and he said my education came first and I had to go, but be sure to be back on Monday because I was needed for the busy upcoming Labor Day holiday.

We were going to take my '59 Jeep that had no doors or side windows, but it wouldn't start and my mother said to take dad's car and we didn't argue with her. I fell asleep in the back and someone else was driving when we got pulled over and a State cop shined a flashlight in my face. He had seen the "County Detective" sign on the visor and asked me if my dad knew I had the car and if we were going to that rock concert, but he didn't give us a ticket and said to have a good time.

Woodstock the Festival, as everyone who was there knows, wasn't really at Woodstock the town, the artist community where Albert Grossman, Dylan and The Band lived. They were going to have it there, but when the community decided it didn't want all those people coming in, they got Max Yasker's farm near Bethel, New York, about 30 some miles from Woodstock.

As we got closer and the traffic was backed up, they set up road blocks and turned people away, but the "County Detective" sign got us past a few checkpoints. As Jerry remembered, it, he was driving when we picked up a hitch hiker who had already been to the concert site but left to get some supplies. We drove on the side of the road full of stalled traffic and then the hitch hiker told us about a small, dirt side road that led right to the stage and showed us where it was. Before long we had pulled up about 30 yards from the back of the stage, and within an hour we were blocked in so we just made camp right there.

It wasn't rainy or muddy at first, and I think we all went to together to near the front of the stage, which was pretty huge. I think Mark may have stayed behind, but me and Jerry and Bob were right down in front. Jerry now only remembers him and Bob in the front row, but I was there with them for the first half of Richie Havens set, which really was remarkable. He was on for a long time, and since few people paid admission - we didn't have tickets and nobody asked for any - the rumor was that the other acts wouldn't go on without getting paid. So Richie Havens had to play an extra long set.

After awhile I left them at the front of the stage and went for a walk about, to the back on the hill where they had food concessions and a makeshift hospital.

Thousands of more people had arrived so there was no way I would ever make it back to the front row again, though I later learned that Jerry and Bob hung out there for quite some time.

Occasionally we would meet back at the car, but Mark didn't like it at all, especially after it started to rain, and he wanted to go get a motel room somewhere.

While I don't remember too much else, there was the time on Saturday night, I think it was while The Band was performing, when I climbed a tree and laid across a big branch to stay off the wet ground. While up there Jerry was walking by and yelling my name, and was quite surprised to find me at all let alone up in a tree.

I remember taking a dip in a muddy lake with a bunch of naked hippie chicks, but I don't remember many of the acts, even the ones we went there to see, like Santana and The Band.

By Sunday afternoon, enough room had been cleared around the car that we could move it out, and at Marc's insistence, we left early, so we didn't see or hear Hendrix.

I will never forget the smile on my father's face as he stood on the porch at 819 Wesley when we pulled up in his car, totally covered with mud. He was just glad to see us and his car.

Then, still in our muddy jeans and t-shirts, Jerry and I went around the corner to the local hippie coffee house - The Purple Dragon, and were celebrities for day for being Woodstock veterans. But the next day when I went to work at Mack & Mancos I couldn't tell anyone where I was because I was supposed to have been at college orientation.

I guess that's one of the reasons why I've been a bit disoriented.

And no, I didn't do any drugs at Woodstock, though we did have some wine, and I think Bob did some acid though I'm not even sure about that.

Then later that winter when I was at school in Dayton, Richie Havens did a concert at the basketball arena and I found myself down front in the first row again. After the concert was over I wrote down the address of a house where we were going to a party and gave it to Richie on stage. He smiled and winked at me. Then an hour or so later a limo drives up to the party house and Richie Havens gets out. I was back in the kitchen, and in walks Richie Havens, looking for me, and when he sees me he smiles. 

Richie Havens changes strings on stage at Dayton, Ohio, circa 1970

Can he light up a joint? Sure we're all in college, and he proceeded to roll a joint like he was a cowboy on a horse, twisted it up with one hand and then lit it up.

I think Richie now lives somewhere in Jersey not far from where I am though further north. I was thinking about taking a drive someday and paying him a visit.

Then I'd like to visit the real Woodstock, the town of Woodstock and visit with Levon and Garth and the boys from The Band.

1 comment:

sdt (a.k.a. stevil) said...

Hello, I was just reading your post about Richie Havens at Woodstock. It was of special interest to me as you mentioned the Purple Dragon coffeehouse in Ocean City. I was one of the people who ran it. Would you by any chance have a picture of the building showing the dragon's head hanging from the balcony? I've been trying to find one for many years. (There was one in the Sentinel, but I don't have a copy.)

As an aside to your story, at the beginning of that August, we closed the coffeehouse for the weekend of the Atlantic City pop festival. The coffeehouse was a project of the Methodist Church, and they weren't happy with that choice. As the weekend for Woodstock approached, it seemed like all the kids were going. We couldn't close again, so it was decided that two of us would stay behind. We drew straws. I got one of the two short ones and that's why I didn't get to Woodstock.