Thursday, July 24, 2008

Will oil prices sink the vinyl record boom?

With the vinyl record sales continuing their upward trend, is there a potential problem looming? Material and production costs are going up as well and will be passed along to the consumer. Read about this interesting dilema in a recent article here:

Album Cover Art Stories-Santana

This is the second article in a series of Album Cover Art Stories, a behind the scenes look at the art and the artist. I want to thank Michael Goldstein of for allowing the reprints of this fascinating material. There are many others to come and if you want to read more, please feel free to stop by Michael's site ( see more!

Cover Story - Santana's "Santana", with illustration by Lee Conklin

Cover Story for March 14, 2008

Subject: Santana, a 1969 release (on Columbia Records) by Santana, with cover art & design by Lee Conklin

The cover of Santana’s debut record was adapted (at Santana’s request) from a poster design originally done for a concert performance at Bill Graham’s legendary San Francisco venue, the Fillmore West. This iconic image done in pen and ink was certainly one of the best examples of early psychedelic art.

Both guitarist Carlos Santana and artist/illustrator Lee Conklin hit their stride in San Francisco’s mid-60’s cultural scene, with Santana finding a wide variety of music being played in the clubs (Tito Puente’s salsa, folk, Gabor Szabo’s jazz and in 1966, a concert by the great blues guitarist B.B. King at the Fillmore West that would greatly influence the development of his own personal style) and Lee Conklin meeting a number of aspiring artists – Victor Moscoso, Alton Kelley, Stanley Mouse, and many others – who were producing the promotional posters and related graphics for events at the Fillmore and at Family Dog’s Avalon Ballroom and other venues.

Soon after his B.B. King-inspired epiphany, Santana formed The Santana Blues Band (later shortening it to simply “Santana”) and the band made its debut at the Fillmore in June, 1968 (playing a 4-nite stand that was released in 1997 by Columbia/Legacy in a set titled Live at the Fillmore 1968). Santana impressed Bill Graham so much that the band became a regular act at the Fillmore, packing the auditorium regularly.

And then came the Summer of Love, Woodstock, and the band’s legendary performance there on 8/15/69...

Santana’s debut album was released the same month and featured great examples of what would be both “the hits” (“Evil Ways” and “Jingo”) and well-known examples of the band’s musicianship – particularly after their performance at Woodstock – such as the powerful “Soul Sacrifice” (written to be premiered at Woodstock and a particularly impressive showcase for drummer Michael Shieve, I must say). The record peaked in the Top 5, going on to remain on the charts for over two years and ultimately selling over four million copies. Rolling Stone Magazine ranked the album #150 in their 2003 list of the “Greatest Albums of All Time”.

This album featured a classic line-up including Carlos Santana on guitar/vocals, Gregg Rolie on keyboards and vocals, and the awesome rhythm section consisting of David Brown on bass, Michael Shrieve on drums, and Michael Carabello and Jose “Chepito” Areas on percussion.

Lee Conklin also became a favorite of Mr. Graham and produced a particularly trippy poster (aka "BG-134" to collectors) promoting two multi-day shows at the Fillmore (8/27-29/68 featuring Steppenwolf, the Staple Singers and Santana; 8/30-9/1/68 featuring The Grateful Dead, Sons of Champlain and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band – amazing!), with the resulting pen and ink image so impressing Santana that Lee was asked to create the cover for Santana’s debut, the details of which are presented here in today’s Cover Story. So grab a pick, practice your Sustain, and read on…

In the words of the artist, Lee Conklin – (interviewed February, 2008) –

I didn’t start out initially to be an artist, but while I was studying History and Philosophy at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, I took on the role of cartoonist for the college paper called the “Calvin College Chimes”. I met my wife Joy there, left school, got married and moved to Florida. The Army grabbed me and I cooked for a year in Korea. They let me out in 1967 and we moved to Los Angeles.

In L.A., I did some pen and ink work and some of it was published by the Los Angeles Free Press (remember “Don’t be a creep, buy a Freep”?), which was cool, and I read an article in Time about the “Summer of Love” and that San Francisco was becoming the center of the Universe for music and art and since I wanted to be a cartoonist, my wife and I decided to move up there to see what we could find.

I heard about the Fillmore and that Bill Graham was hiring artists from the area to make posters for his upcoming shows, and so one Friday night I went there with some drawings and showed them to him. He must have liked what he saw because he asked me if I could do a poster over the weekend for the following week’s show! He chose one of the drawings I had already done and I spent the weekend doing all of the lettering.

From then on for the next two years, I had a pretty steady gig doing posters for Bill and the Fillmore West (Ed. note – he did over 30 posters in 1968-69). At the same time, the Santana band was playing there pretty frequently and I was well aware of their music, both from performances and their demos, which received extensive airplay on FM radio in San Francisco. One day, Bill asked me to do a poster for a show that Santana was headlining and so, with a little inspiration from a Muse named MaryJane, I remembered seeing a picture of a lion in a book of animal picture I had and used that image as the basis of my drawing. Even then, I knew that I was making art for future generations and so even though Bill usually liked posters in color, I detailed this one in pen-and-ink. I only made one image, and the next morning he told me that he was going to print is as it was, so he must have been happy with the results.

Santana also thought that the image was really great, so afterwards he contacted me and asked me to redraw the image for the cover of his debut record. Although the drawing I created really was not inspired by Santana, I guess that the details and the nature of the images impressed him and the people at the record label. My challenge has always been to subvert the poster form to whatever my muse insists on and then to convert my psychedelic experiences to any medium I’m working in. I made it my mission to translate my psychedelic experience into paper. Later on, in the early 70’s, I took acid and when I went to art class, all I could do was sit and stare at the teacher…LSD had little to do with my most-creative efforts (as a druggy, I am over-rated)!

About the artist, Lee Conklin –

Lee Conklin was born July 24, 1941 in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, and grew up mostly in Monsey, New York. Lee's dad was a house builder, his mom was a nurse and he was the youngest child in a family of three brothers and three sisters. Lee graduated from Spring Valley High School in 1959 and attended Calvin College in Grand Rapids Michigan for several years, where he studied philosophy and history and met his wife Joy. In 1972, Lee and Joy had a son, Quinn, and in 1979 a daughter, Caitlin. They have lived in various parts of Northern California over the years.

Lee is now a fulltime artist working out of his home studio in Columbia, California where he continues to create his incredibly-detailed works of poster art (which, according to Lee, he calls “New Age cheesecake”!).

Conklin’s Fillmore posters remain amongst the most-popular and highly-prized with today’s poster collectors - a true testament to his prodigious talents.

To see more of Lee Conklin’s current work, please visit his website at

To see Lee’s “Lion” print in the RockPoP Gallery collection, please click on this link -

To see all of the Santana-related items in the RockPoP Gallery collection please click on this link -

Santana philanthropy update – Santana and his ex-wife Deborah founded their Milagro Foundation in 1998, which has distributed nearly $2 million to date to organizations that “promote the welfare of underserved children in the areas of health, education, and the arts.”

To learn more, please visit the Milago Foundation’s website at –

In addition, Santana has joined the fight against AIDS in Africa through a partnership with ANSA – Artists for New South Africa (in 2003, all of the proceeds from Santana’s U.S. tour were donated to this cause). To learn more about ANSA, please visit their web site at .

Other organizations he has championed include Hispanic Education and Media Group, Doctors Without Borders, Save the Children, Childreach, Rainforest Action Network, Greenpeace, American Indian College Fund, Amnesty International, and the LA-based Museum of Tolerance.

All images featured in this Cover Story are Copyright 1968 and 2008, Lee Conklin - All rights reserved. Except as noted, all other text Copyright 2008 - Mike Goldstein & RockPoP Gallery ( - All rights reserved.

Billy Bob goes Mod


Billy Bob Thornton forms retro trio The Boxmasters

By: Brent Thompson

There is no shortage of actors that have attempted side careers as musicians – Keanu Reeves (Dogstar), Russell Crowe (30 Odd Foot of Grunts) and Kevin Bacon (Bacon Brothers) to name only a few – but few people realize the role that music has played throughout Billy Bob Thornton’s life. In addition, Thornton’s musical career has ties to Alabama that some may find surprising.

“I made my first recording in 1974 in Muscle Shoals,” Thornton recalls, speaking by phone from Santa Fe, New Mex. “I was just a kid and I couldn’t believe that we were really in Muscle Shoals. That whole group of guys – Dan Penn, Spooner Oldham, David Hood, Roger Hawkins and Jimmy Johnson – is just incredible.”

On Tuesday, July 29, Billy Bob Thornton & The Boxmasters will perform at Zydeco. The 18-and-over show begins at 9 p.m. Thornton and bandmates Mike Butler and J.D. Andrew are touring in support of the trio’s self-titled album, released earlier this year on Vanguard Records. The Boxmasters musical vision combines a hillbilly-influenced sound alongside the British Invasion “Mod” sound of the 1960s, a mix Thornton describes as “Mod-Billy.” The trio’s latest release features an original CD and a disc of cover songs.

“We’re very proud of this record. Two of the songs on the original side are older songs – I wrote one called ‘That Mountain’ with Marty Stuart about nine years ago and it was on my first solo record. We just Boxmaster-ized it and put it on this record – it just belonged on here. The song ‘Build Your Own Prison’ I actually wrote with one of your countrymen down there, Donnie Fritts. All the rest of the songs were written in the studio specifically for the album. The idea was to write songs about the lower-middle class lifestyle that we all know so well and the problems we all go through. The covers side was really just a tribute to all the people that have inspired us to even create The Boxmasters,” Thornton says.

An Academy Award-winning actor and screenwriter known for his roles in Sling Blade, Primary Colors and Monster’s Ball among others, Thornton received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2004. Off screen, his private life has been a recurring topic of discussion, most notably during his marriage to actress Angelina Jolie. As a musician, Thornton enjoys the live interaction that film acting does not provide.

“Music’s more immediate – you make a record and it comes out fairly soon and then you go out and play for the fans. In a movie, there’s a certain distance between the actor and the audience because you’re never there when they’re seeing the movie. There’s not a real sense of completion when you’re making a movie because you’re doing bits at a time every day, whereas you do a concert and it’s a full thing in one night. But they both have their ups and downs. I find the movie business to be a little more accommodating sometimes,” he says.

Anyone that speaks with Thornton quickly learns that he is a musical historian with a tremendous depth of knowledge and passion on the subject. An admittedly old soul when it comes to music and movies, Thornton finds that technology and the modern media have taken the mystique out of the two art forms.

“I grew up around music as a musician and a roadie and there’s no mystery anymore. If you see HBO’s ‘Behind The Scenes’ and you see an actor sitting there in his costume talking about his role, then it kind of destroys the magic of it. When we were growing up, the only time you saw Jimmy Stewart or Robert Mitchum was in the movie and musicians weren’t all over the Internet and you didn’t know everything about somebody. When you went to a concert, you couldn’t believe that John Fogerty was standing right in front of you. The Boxmasters’ record is out on limited-edition vinyl as well. Just to look at that artwork and to be able to read the lyrics without a magnifying glass is pretty incredible. Vanguard’s a classy old label - it’s a label that I wanted to be on since I was a kid,” he says.

Later this year, The Boxmasters will release a Christmas album that includes original material and Christmas classics recorded in Boxmasters’ fashion. Fans attending shows on the current tour will get a double-dose as Thornton and his band perform two shows nightly.

“One thing that’s important to mention is that we are the opening act - The Boxmasters open the show. We open as The Boxmasters with the whole ‘Mod’ look because that was the idea behind The Boxmasters. So we look like The Kinks or The Beatles and yet we play hillbilly music - the stage set is very Hullabaloo looking. The second show is my solo show and it’s a big rock show. We come out and it’s a little heavier and louder and the songs go on longer. A lot of people ask, ‘How can you do two shows a night for the whole tour as two different bands?’ But when you go out for the second show, it actually feels like another night.”

This Date In Music History- July 24


Barbara Jean Love (Friends of Distinction) 1941.

Heinze Burt (The Tornadoes) 1942.

Born on this day in 1970, Jennifer Lopez, singer, actress.

Born on this day in 1961, Gary Cherone, vocals, Extreme.


Nervous Norvus ("Transfusion"-- his real name was Jimmy Drake) died of liver failure in 1968.

The film version of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" (starring Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees) debuts in New York in 1978. It bombed at the box-office and the critics hated it.

Today in 1971, the song "Indian Reservation" by the Raiders topped the charts and stayed there for a week. The song was actually recorded by Mark Lindsay alone, but he chose to put the group's name on the label as a sign of friendship for his old buddy Paul Revere.

In 1982, "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor topped the charts and stayed there for 6 weeks. Over the next four years, the band would place six more songs on the Billboard Top 40.

A riot broke out in 1964, when the Rolling Stones play the English city of Blackpool, contributing to their bad-boys-of-rock image.

At the Newport Folk Festival today in 1965, Bob Dylan performed"All I Really Wanna Do" at an afternoon workshop. The following day he scandalizes the festival when he makes his electric debut.

La Bamba, the Ritchie Valens biopic, opened in theaters in 1987. The film stars Lou Diamond Phillips and has appearances by Brian Setzer and Marshall Crenshaw. The production had the full support of the Valenzuela family and Bob and Connie Valenzuela even came to the set to help the actors portray their characters correctly. The music was performed by Los Lobos.

The case against Judas Priest opened in Reno, Nevada in 1995. The band members are accused of planting subliminal messages in their album Stained Class that led two young fans to attempt suicide. The group was later cleared of wrongdoing.

Jefferson Airplane’s second album, the classic “Surrealistic Pillow” went gold in 1967. The record contains two Airplane classics “White Rabbit” and “Somebody To Love.” Both songs were originally recorded by singer Grace Slick’s previous band, The Great Society. Good idea to bring her on board.

The Beach Boys' "California Girls" was released in the US in 1965, where it will reach #3 in September.

The trio of Dino, Desi and Billy achieved their first US chart entry in 1965 with "I'm A Fool", which will rise to #17. Dino, the son of Dean Martin, Desi, the son of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, along with Billy Hinsche would also crack the Top 40 with "Not The Lovin' Kind" later in the year.

Paul McCartney recorded a demo of his new song ‘Come and Get It’ at Abbey Road studios in London in 1969. McCartney gave the song to The Iveys, (soon to become known as Badfinger). The song was later used as the theme for the movie The Magic Christian. The Beatles also recorded ‘Sun King/Mean Mr. Mustard’ for their forthcoming Abbey Road album.