Andy Roberts Music: Adrian Henri
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This is an extract from my 1969 diary.

"It is certainly full of opinions which I find hard to credit, but that’s what I wrote.   It’s hard to understand now that this was before the days of cheap, affordable air travel.   No-one went to the US except rich people – it was a really big deal to us.   You can almost smell the fear – will the food be too expensive, what if someone pulls a gun on us?   Fascinating to relive it.   And I’d forgotten about the Al Kooper thing – I was well impressed to meet the man who played organ on
Like A Rolling Stone."

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Bandana Poster from the USA

Liverpool Scene suported The Steve Miller Band


USA DIARY - 1969


Friday 12th September 1969

Arrived at Heathrow 12 noon.   No sign of Ade.   Paid £15/13s  for excess baggage (10 kilos), could have avoided this if maximum weight allowance was known.   Anyway Ade didn’t arrive by 12.35pm & after hurried conference with a panicking Sandy it was decided that I should travel alone should Ade not arrive in time for the 1pm flight.   Went thru’ ticket checks & boarded bus to plane.   Seat by window in the Boeing 707.   Settling in when Ade arrived, at about 10 to 1.   Apparently he had been rushed thru’ by T.W.A. in order to make the flight.

During the flight (7hrs 20 mins) we had lunch, a snack, several beers, scotches, etc., and watched Camelot, the in-flight picture.   Didn’t bother to purchase earphones ($2.50) so we could hear it.   Probably just as well as film broke down twice.   Made landfall over Nantucket Island, & landed at J.F.K. without having to circle at all (apparently sometimes the wait can be 2-3 hours).   The descent finally got the better of the cold I had nursed for the last 2 days.   I arrived deaf in both ears.

Myth no. 1 exploded: immigration and customs made only cursory inspections and were very pleasant!   Safely thru’, we looked for Dee Anthony but no sign.   Ade went to T.W.A. to enquire, and returned with Bill Anthony, Dee’s brother.   Bill is sharp, small, voluble, anxious to impress, maybe a bit unsure of himself.   Describes himself as Dee’s troubleshooter.   Bill has car with driver: electrically-operated windows, air-conditioned, individual cigar lighters.   This is a different world.   Going into midtown Bill talks of the scene for British groups: Ten Years  After, Savoy Brown (both in our hotel), Joe Cocker, Spooky Tooth; beware the groupies, many are unclean.   The roads are not as massive as I expected (altho’ from the plane we saw some very big ones).   We went across the Hudson thru’ the Midtown Tunnel.   Bill shows us the Empire State Building, and 59th Street Bridge (Feeling Groovy!).   the N.Y. skyline is not so impressive as in books, & the streets are full of litter.   Today is Jewish New Year, & there is hardly any traffic at 1/4 to 6:  we had landed at 4.30pm.

Bill has booked us in at Loew’s Midtown Motor Inn:  he apologises for it, saying it is fairly cheap & doesn’t mind groups.   Why does he apologise when our room has 2 double beds, own bathroom with bog, shower, bath, basin, etc., television set, telephone & fitted carpet?   We discovered the next day that the service includes clean towels, clean sheets, & brand new soap everyday.   But Bill apologises.   New York is full of extremes.

Bill leaves, says he will call at 8 on the phone to arrange to take us to Fillmore East to see Ten Years After.   Ade & I decide to stay in & clean ourselves up:  Bill suggests a visit to the Haymarket bar if we want a drink, as it is only a block away.   Loew’s is on 8th Ave at 48th Street.

I want a shave, but my razor will not fit socket.   I go downstairs to see if they can help.   They say try hardware store, one block to the right, or drug store on Broadway.   I make first solo sortie into the jungle.   Finding my way is easy, the shopkeepers are nice, no-one stares, makes comments, pulls a gun on me, mugs me:  illusion no.2 shattered, American people are basically nice, and if you don’t look for trouble, you don’t find it.

I returned to Loew’s with no adaptor:  the jewish holiday has closed most stores.   Upstairs I wash, & then Ade & I go out about 7.30pm, for a drink.   The Haymarket looks a bit straight so we go to Pat Murphy’s for our first American beer.   It’s just like lager & is served in 1/3 pint glasses.   Not really a patch on our stuff, altho’ Adrian likes it.   There is a colour telly in the bar, showing “Divorce Court”.   We have already by now formed the opinion that American telly is rubbish, except for the news which is comprehensive & independent (it is only here that you realise what a joke government-owned mass media like the B.B. C. are in the field of news.   The B.B.C. keeps up the standard of the ordinary programme, but the Americans are way ahead in news reporting:  The local in-depth news is very stimulating & impressive.   American politicians don’t mince words.).

We return to Loew’s for 8 & Dee, not Bill, calls.   Dee is great:  he is really the father figure for all the British bands out here.   We arrange for Bill to pick us up at 9.15, & then we go out to eat:  at a pizza parlour, where we find that pizza is so cheap.   By this time we have realised that American money is easy, as 1¢ = 1d.   Thus $2.40 = £1 (or 240d.).   Pizza costs us 25¢ & 30¢ = 2/1d. & 2/6d., for a stomach filling slice.   This is the first  (& pleasant) gastronomic surprise.   After the pizza we go to the Haymarket, determined this time to enter.   Outside I successfully foist off a drunk but harmless Italian who wants 15¢ for his subway fare.   I plead English.

When we get in the Haymarket we suddenly realise why Bill & everyone suggests it:  Watney’s Red Barrel on draught, fish & chips, shepherd’s pie, and a curious olde-worlde aspect to the place, complete with brass foot-rail.   A black guy buys us a drink each, and invites us to a party at the weekend, after enquiring if we smoke grass, & taking our hotel address.   After we leave we decide to disown the guy if he phones, as he may be fuzz.   1st sign of the American uptightness is in us.   No-one really trusts each other, but it is not as bad on the surface as everyone had claimed.

Bill is at the hotel, & we go in a cab to Fillmore East.   It is a converted cinema, & the shows are 2 houses on Friday, & 2 on Saturday, with the same bill on both days.   Today the bill is The Flock, Mother Earth, & T.Y.A.   We arrive halfway thru’ Mother Earth’s set in the 1st house.   The P.A. is good, & the band is good, & the light show, called the Joshua Lightshow,  is incredible, the first I have seen that is not detrimental to the music, it does nothing but enhance what is on stage.

My hearing returns slightly.   Dee is there.   Chris Wright is there.   T.Y.A.’s first set is full of hype – drum solo (good one), + Alvin Lee flashing himself & his guitar-playing.   It goes down with the audience.   Beware the male groupie!   Audience is 95% male, and they all want to be able to say “I know ………….”   The powers that be at the Fillmore (tonight at any rate) are pleasant & give us passes for both nights.   In the interval, between 1st & 2nd house, everyone is cleared from the building by very hip stewards.   One kid (male) is helped out:  he has bitten a finger off, either stoned or male groupie ecstasy.

Ade & I left during the interval with Chick from T.Y.A. & Andée, his girl.   Outside many kids were queuing for the 2nd house, & as we passed there were low offers of “acid?”, “marijuana?”, “Mary Jane?”.   We got a cab & went to see Al Kooper at the John Adams apartments  (a sort of residential hotel).   Al was quiet, uptight, and had a slipped disc, but he was very hospitable and sweet.   He played us his new album “You Never Know Who Your Friends Are”, and made organ-chat with Chick.

We left about 1am & went back to the Fillmore.   Chatted to Dee & Chris Wright about things in general, & then left in taxi for hotel.   Back at about 2am.

Had a bath, watched the end of a Chicago gangster movie, went to sleep.

more soon....