The Mercury from Pottstown, Pennsylvania on June 5, 1970 · Page 16
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The Mercury from Pottstown, Pennsylvania · Page 16

Pottstown, Pennsylvania
Issue Date:
Friday, June 5, 1970
Page 16
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16—The Pottstöwn Mercury • Friday, June 5, 1970 First Rock Superstar Makes Blazing Comeback LITTLE RICHARD By JOAN ENGELS Seivstceek Feature Service Little Richard plinked out the last staccato chords of “Good Golly, Miss Molly,” climbed onto his piano and beckoned for protection. Two bodyguards sauntered to the edge of the stage, and then — mascaraed eyes gleaming, huge pompadour reflecting the lights in Madison Square Garden’s Felt Forum — the star of the evening lofted his shocking-pink serape and his white kid boots into the screaming, scrambling audience. Little Richard Penniman, the man most responsible for making black ‘’race” music a part of the white pop scene, is back from the land of forgotten performers. After years of secular silence, broken only by occasional gospel singing, Little Richard retains his magic, his sales figures (over 60 million records) and his vast influence. Otis Redding, Bill Haley, the Creedence Clearwater Revival. Tom Jones and many more owe much of their style to him. Even The Beatles have a debt. He taught Paul Mc- Cartnev how to wail. EUROPEAN TOUR "I took The Beatles, who were unknowns at the time, on a European tour with me. Every day I'd sit down with Paul and teach him to make my kinds of sounds.” And what sounds! With barely a breath in between. Little Richard can range from a double bass grunt to a keening soprano. He learned his art early, in Feminist Says Men Guilty, but Still Have Place By WADE GREENE Newsweek Feature Service Betty Freidan is a short, chunky woman who makes strong men turn pale and cuddly little women go in for careers and karate. And that’s only the beginning. For if the amorphous, divisive, but furiously' expanding women's liberation movement achieves only half its goals, Mrs. Friedan, 49. the movement's chief strategist and founding mother, may come to be recognized as one of the most influential figures of the era. Her message is clear and simple: down with the male- dominated society. “Men now bear an intolerable burden of guilt for the destiny they’ve forced upon women.” says Mrs. Friedan. “Women have neither freedom nor dignity until they assert, demand and control their own bodies and reproductive forces.” Those who march most directly to the drum of Betty Friedan rally under the banner of NOW. the National Organization for Women, the largest and one of the earliest of the proliferating women's rights groups. Mrs. Friedan was the principal organizer of NOW, four years ago, and until recently its president. She has watched it grow from a relative handiful of New Yorkers to a national organization that claims thousands of members. NOW’s newest project is a general strike for women in August, on the 50th anniversary of the women’s suffrage amendment. The purpose of the strike, and one of the driving goals of Betty Friedan. is to achieve more and higher job opportunities for women and better salaries. Nothing so infuriates Mrs. Friedan as the traditional concept of “womanly” matters. Recently, the chic, graying activist found that a television show she had agreed to appear on was being devoted largely to fashions. A live tv explosion ensued. “I take outrageous exception to this program.” she said at her very first opportunity to speak. “I am considered the leader of a serious movement that concerns 53 per cent of the population. To ask me to appear on a fashion show is like at the beginning of the civil- rights movement to have had the temerity to ask Martin Luther King to appear on a minstrel show.” The outburst says a lot about how Betty Friedan views her role. It also happens to coincide with many other feminists’ estimation of Betty Friedan. To a devoted number, she became the Martin Luther King of their cause with the publication seven years ago of “The Feminine Mystique,” an impassioned book that exhorted women to seek fulfillment as individuals and to shake off the narrow confines of motherhood and wifedom. “After I wrote my book,” she explains in tracing her switch from author to activist, “I was so bombarded with letters from women, who were having difficulties going back to school or getting a job because of unspoken discrimination. . . But nobody was protesting. So several professional women, who were also aware of the problems, got together and formed NOW.” Before “Mystique” and NOW, there was little, on the surface at least, to suggest the future feminist leader. Born in Peoria. 111., to a jewelry-store owner and an unassertive mother, she seemed cut out for a ouiet academic life. After graduating sutnma cum laude from Smith in 1942, she accepted a fellowship to study psychology at Berkeley, then gave it up to come to New York. There she met and married Carl Friedan. a summer-stock producer, and settled into the life of a suburban housewife and mother, bearing at four-year intervals Daniel. Jonathan and Emily. For years. Mrs. Friedan was able to compartmentalize her personal and public lives. In the end. however, the upheaval she stirred in other women's lives was reflected in her own. GOOD WIFE “I kept vacillating between being a good wife and mother and playing Joan of Arc of the movement,” she says. Last year, she gave up trying to be a good wife. She and her husband were divorced after 22 years of marriage. She now resides, between frequent travels, in a duplex apartment on Manhattan’s upper West Side. She gives parties and goes bicycling in Central Park when time permits. But time does not often permit. In recent months. NOW and Mrs. Friedan have been in the forefront of agitation for abortion-law reform and for Congressional action on a 26th amendment that would guarantee equal rights, regardless of sex. “On abortion,” says Mrs. Friedan. “there is only one voice that is important — the voice of the woman who must bear, care for and love the child.” As for the 26th amendment: ‘‘Pakistan guarantees constitutional equality for women, and we shouldn't be behind Pakistan in this.” MERE REFORMER Activist as she is, Mrs. Friedan is nevertheless not active enough for some of the younger, more militant women’s lib leaders. To them, she is a mere reformer and her organization too patient, too well-behaved. Friedan, of course, disagrees. “We’re the real radicals,” she declares. “We’re changing things.” She also disagrees with those ultra-feminists who want to disassociate completely from men. “That,” says Betty Friedan, who still likes men in their proper place, “is for the birds.” The Jackson 5 the same Macon, Ga., breeding ground that produced James Brown and Otis Redding. By 14, he has already picked up an influential detractor: his father didn't like his style, showed him the door. “He wanted me to sing like Bing Crosby, but I wanted to sing rhythm and blues.” Richard was taken in by a local white woman, Ann Johnson, who still runs Ann's Tic-Toc Tavern on Macon's Broadway. She was later immortalized in his blues ballad “Miss Ann.” In 1955. he went down to New Orleans where his career stagnated until his current manager. Bumps Blackwell, heard one of his demo tapes. OPENING LINE Blackwell flew to New Orleans and recorded Richard's “Tutti Frutti” in one 15-minute session. The world has never recovered from its opening line. “ AOPBOP ALOOBOP ALOP- BAMBOOM,” which blew “Pennies From Heaven” right into the sea. For the next four years Richard blazed the rock trail from New York to Australia carrying his simple message: But his gospel roots overcame his secular writhings. Ten vears ago, after an Alan Freed extravaganza in Sydney, Little Richard abruptly retired from show business. Leaving concert dates unfilfilled, he enroled in t h e Oakwood Theological College, a Seventh-day Adventist school in Huntsville, Ala. For the next five years. Richard cut only gospel-songs and appeared only at evangelical meetings. Of this period all he will say is: “I was always interested in God. There were three ministers in my immediate family. After I studied, I learned more about God, and I learned love for all people. We are all God’s bouquet of flowers.” Yet Richard was not destined for the cloth. Now, once again, rock comes first. BEST FEELING “The kids can see I’m dedicated to what I do. Oh Lord! When I sing it's the best feeling I ever have.” Richard is tough on himself. He analyzes his own performances minutely, and his standards are high. Sometimes this costs him. For example, he carries his own 12-piece band, refusing to hire a pick-up group, even when it means the difference between making and losing money on a gig. He also is tough on his band. “They’ve got. to get it together, if they want to stay,” he says. Sometimes this takes the form of late-night critiques on the telephone. Occasionally the strictures are sartorial, for no one solos but Little Richard, even in matters of dress. Years ago. Jimi Hendrix — then an unknown back-up man in the band — turned up for a performance in a spangled, diaphanous shirt. The boss was displeased. “I am Little Richard.” he said. “I am the only one around here allowed to be pretty.” Nowadays. Richard claims he had to fire Hendrix, whom he admires, “because he kept burning up my amplifiers.” Richard travels constantly. His family lives in Riverside, Calif. The clan consists of his mother and her 12 other children, his divorced wife and their 7-year-old son. He plays a wide range of dates from rock festivals, to supperclubs to rock ’n roll revivals. But Las Vegas is the supreme test. “Those audiences have seen everything,” he says. “They’re jaded. If you can win them over, you’re really someone.” • V 'ÿy, * 'f f ' ' 1 •></ - * Jitfliiipp M3 ™,. Mi: Ä lu 11»% ■; : e I'SU... . v ÏV THE JACKSON 5. The Croup With the Bubble-Gum Beat BETTY FREIDAN BY NICHOLAS C. PROFFITT Sewsteeek Feature Service Someone listening to the hit record, “ABC.” for the first time without knowing anything about the singers that recorded it might well think the group included a couple of cast-offs from the Vienna Boys Choir. Over the swinging, bouncy background comes a voice, wailing lines like “I’m gonna teach you all about love,” that couldn't possibly belong to anyone over 9. In fact, the lead singer of the Jackson 5. Michael Jackson, is almost 10. But though this mini- James Brown is definitely the pup of the group, his four brothers aren't all that decrepit, either. Taken as a bunch, the Jackson Brothers have accumulated only 68 years (an average of 13). The oldest. Jackie, is 13. The youngest, next to Mike, is 11-year-old Marlon. STASHING AWAY And at a time when other kids might be content pitching pennies, the Jacksons are stashing away mountains of dollars. In the past year, the young quintet has become one of the hottest singing groups in the land. Since its release, their first single. “I Want You Back.” has sold 2 million copies. Their first album. “Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5.'’ has sold half a million copies and quickly- vaulted into the top 10. No group in the history of Motown Records — not the Supremes (with or without Diana Ross), not the Tem- pations or the Four Tops — has ever sold so many records so fast. Still, it's been a long grind from the Gary, Ind.. ghetto where the Jacksons started to the plush 10-room house the family now occupies high in the Hollywood hills above Los Angeles. For the success of the Jackson 5 has been no overnight phenomenon. They have been performing together since Michael was 3. and they have plugging away inthe business for nearly five years, mostly in grubbv dives in the Midwest. SERVED MUSIC The Jackson boys were served music with their Pablum, Their father, Joe, a crane operator, played guitar with a local Gary group in his off-hours, and he saw music as a possible way out for his suns. He began to tutor them with rigid discipline: two hours of practice a day as soon as they could talk. •'I thought that if I could keep them together and if they were serious and like the music, just maybe they could do something as a group,” he recalls. “It was also a pretty clever way to keep them from running the streets. And we had some pretty rough streets.’’ The group started with local talent shows, moved to club dates in Gary, then to more prestigious joints in St. Louis, Chicago and New York, where they played the famed Apollo Theater in Harlem. They did well, but the element of magic that transforms journeymen into stars didn't come until last year. Diana Ross was in Gary for a benefit where she saw them and was so impressed that she arranged for an audition with Motown. Once Motown agreed to take them under its hugely successful corporate wing, suddenly the magic was there. Motown is more than just the Jacksons’ employer. It is an all- powerful. though completely benevolent, dictator, a surrogate parent. It provides what it likes to call “total career guidance.” “We determine what they will record, where they will perform and when,” says Motown chief Berry Gordy Jr. “They will continue with records and probably some one-nighter contracts — things that won’t interfere with their education.” The Jacksons’ songs are written by four Motown writer- producers known as The Corporation. Their sound — the immensely popular “soul- bubblegum” beat — and their choreography are both worked out with meticulous foresight. “We have what we call a five- year plan,” says Motown vice president Mike Roshkind, “where we keep them working in the same style, then see what new trends are coming up and adjust accordingly.” Looking ahead, the company has set up trust funds for the boys and invested their money with a professional concern what assures them long-term riches. But Motown has hardly replaced the senior Jacksons, whose affection and discipline have kept the family close and the boys’ lives as nearly normal as possible. > t

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