The Vinyl Dialogues Blog

Stories behind memorable albums of the 1970s as told by the artists

Doobie Brothers share the backstories of their 1970s songs and albums

Between recording their second and third albums, the Doobie Brothers had been on a roll. The band’s 1971 debut studio album, self-titled The Doobie Brothers, wasn’t met with great success, selling maybe 40,000 to 50,000 copies, according to guitarist Pat Simmons.

But their second album, Toulouse Street, released in 1972, was the band’s entry into the national marketplace, and secured the Doobie Brothers their first major national tour, opening for Marc Bolan and T. Rex.

Pat Simmons

“That was a big moment for us because we were sort of the new kids on the block and that introduced us to a much larger audience,” said Simmons, one of the original co-founders of the band. “We had these hits off Toulouse Street — ‘Listen to the Music,’ Jesus Is Just Alright,’ and ‘Rockin’ Down the Highway,’ — that got played quite a lot.”

Simmons and fellow original Doobie Brothers … Read more

The song that crossed genres and connected generations

Nearly every school day in 1975, my sophomore year at Pekin Community High School in Central Illinois, I would rush through lunch in the cafeteria with my pals Gary and Jim to get to the “Leeway” where I would plop a quarter into the jukebox for my two favorite songs — “China Grove” by the Doobie Brothers and “My Maria” by B.W. Stevenson.

The Leeway at Pekin Community High School.

The Leeway was a long corridor that connected the “old building” of what was called West Campus and the new addition, which was called the English building or “Red Building” because of its exterior red panels. The West Campus hosted freshmen and sophomores while the East Campus, on the other side of town, was where the juniors and seniors attended classes.

More importantly, though, the Leeway was the social epicenter of the West Campus, a place where students could gather … Read more

It’s been a while, but the love still flows from the Bellamy Brothers

There’s a reason for the sun-shining sky

And there’s a reason why I’m feeling so high

Must be the season

When that love light shines all around us

“Let Your Love Flow” — The Bellamy Brothers

Every once in a while, I need a little yay-hoo in my yee-haw. Thanks to the Bellamy Brothers — Howard and David — that itch was scratched for the first time in quite a while.

Howard and David Bellamy perform Aug. 19, 2021, at the American Music Theater in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
(Photo by Mike Morsch)

It’s been 18 months since I (and the rest of the world) have had the opportunity to attend a concert at an indoor venue (thanks pandemic, you rat bastard) and that’s a long time to go without live music. But I finally got the chance Aug. 19, 2021, at the American Music Theater (AMT) in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. (By the … Read more

Looking back 50 years: Jim Messina revisits a better sounding Poco album

As a producer, Jim Messina became very aware while working at CBS studios that most of the engineers at the Epic Records label there were quite competent at what they had been doing, which was jazz, pop and classical music. 

But when it came to rock and roll, Messina believed it just didn’t register with those engineers. They had been educated in a different way.

So when Buffalo Springfield split up in May 1968 before the release of its third and final studio album, Last Time Around a few months later, Messina and Richie Furay — who had been members of the Springfield at the end — joined with Rusty Young, George Grantham and Randy Meisner to form the band Poco.

Jim Messina
(Photo by Mike Morsch)

Poco’s first album, Pickin’ Up the Pieces, released May 19, 1969, on the Epic Label — which Messina would produce — was … Read more

The traumatic experience that inspired the hit ‘Dancing in the Moonlight’

I was supposed to be at a concert this weekend, one that I was really looking forward to — a triple bill featuring Pure Prairie League, Poco and Orleans.

Sherman Kelly onstage in the 1970s.
(Photo courtesy of Sherman Kelly)

But that didn’t happen because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, there’s still a question here in early May 2020 if we’ll get back to having any concerts at all this year.

Nevertheless, in the weeks leading up to this show, I had been watching YouTube videos of all three bands, particularly the Orleans cover of the great King Harvest song, “Dancing in the Moonlight.”

That song, written by Sherman Kelly, has always been one of my favorite tunes from the 1970s. Released on July 9, 1972, it became a big hit for King Harvest, reaching No. 10 on the Cash Box Top 100 singles chart, No 13 on the … Read more

An inside look at the humility and humanity of Carl Wilson from one of his co-writers

Robert White Johnson’s parents had a cottage on a lake about an hour away from where he grew up in Moline, Illinois. On those weekend drives in the 1960s, Robert and his brother Gary would pass the time in the car listening to Beach Boys records on a battery-operated 45 rpm record player, singing harmony along with the voices on the records.

Carl Wilson
(Photo courtesy of the Beach Boys)

Two decades later, Robert would be writing songs with Carl Wilson, who along with his brothers Brian and Dennis, cousin Mike Love and high school friend Al Jardine founded the Beach Boys in the early 1960s.

Two songs that were co-written by Johnson and Carl Wilson — “It’s Getting Late” and “Where I Belong” — ended up on the Beach Boys’ 25th studio album titled The Beach Boys, which was released on June 10, 1985. The album got to … Read more

The Beatles took the U.S. by storm, and then almost got taken by a storm themselves

The Beatles – John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr (pictured here during a solo show at the Tower Theater in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, in 2015) – first appeared in the United States on Feb. 9, 1964, on the “Ed Sullivan Show.”
(Photo by Mike Morsch)

In February 1964, a snowstorm had blasted the northeast. The region was paralyzed and air travel had virtually shut down.

Sandy Yaguda was at his home in Brooklyn, waiting out the storm. 

Yaguda — stage name Sandy Deanne — was one of the original members of the group Jay and the Americans, which by winter of 1964 had recorded a couple of hit songs, most notably “She Cried,” which reached No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1962.

And then the phone rang Feb. 10 at Yaguda’s house. It was the band’s manager.

“He called and said, ‘Listen, you guys … Read more

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