How the first Beatles bootleg material was leaked – The Great Elusive “Get Back” Radio Search, Part One

Since I spent so much time researching the last post and a. it’s the Beatles! and b. this is part of earliest bootleg & US radio broadcasting history, I would like to include this long description here and hope that its well chosen words will entice some of you non-Beatles fans to keep reading. Many thinks to the original writer and the researchers.

Hey, kids — this last weekend I invited our wonderful and patient host to accompany me on a trip through uncharted radio terrain in an effort to finally discover the correct Question to that Legendary Jeopardy Answer, “This person provided the Get Back tapes to WKBW and WBCN in September, 1969.”

I’m here to proudly report that we’ve put new meaning into the expressions “blind alley,” “dead end,” and “cul-de-sac.” As for John, well, he never returned. Let’s all bow our heads for a few
moments and pay tribute to the man who never met an Internet Search he didn’t like. As for myself, I was able to create more theories and scenarios — practically all of them shot down (my
personal fave being a possible mistaken identity involving famous radio personality Bud Ballou) — than Google could handle. That worldwide shutdown from overuse Saturday night? My bad.

But while John is still in parts unknown, probably buried underneath stacks of NME issues, allow me to divulge what we have learned besides the loss of our collective sanities and brain stems:

(1) John was able to locate Don Berns, who some here believed was the deejay who had played the GB material on KBW in Buffalo. We discovered, however, shortly before Don responded,
that Berns hadn’t arrived at the station until the following Fall. Blind Alley #1.

(2) I found Dick Summer — a deejay at WMEX in Boston (formerly at WBZ, also in Boston) who was mentioned on the WBCN broadcast as a familiar name with intimate knowledge of the GB
material — who told me that he and Murray Kaufman (Murray the K, in NYC) used to swap Beatles material throughout Dick’s tenure at WBZ. He said that Murray and the Beatles were “tight.”
Oooh — Potential Lead #1.

He could remember little else except this after some prodding: he doesn’t recall receiving anything from Murray after he left WBZ for WMEX (mid-1968). Potential Lead #1 –> Dead End #1.

(3) John discovered the identity of one of the announcers on WBCN — Joe Rogers, aka “Mississipi” — who was in the studio with the thus-far-unidentified announcer who actually aired the GB material. Joe remains hidden from public view, as does the mystery announcer. Presently Dead End #2 but Possible Potential Lead #2.

(4) The deejay who _did_ broadcast the GB material on WKBW was Tom McKay. I found and e-mailed him. Potential Lead #3.

At first, after owning up that it was indeed him on the radio 35 years ago, he initially had no memory of it. But when I offered some details about the program (such as a taped OZ-like
creature announcing before, during, and after each track, “KBW Exclusive!!”), it triggered some long-dormant memory cells, but little else. Dead End #3.

He recommended we get in touch with then-WKBW Program Director Jefferson Kaye (the OZ voice), who had come to the station directly from WBZ in March 1966, and who Tom
suspected might be an important link between Buffalo and Dick Summer and, by extension, the GB material in Boston (even though I tried to explain to Tom that KBW and BCN aired different
mixes of the GB material — KBW broadcast Glyn Johns’ May ’69 mix, while BCN the January ’69 mix [thanks to Mr. Winn for this fine scholarship], more commonly but perhaps inaccurately
known as Johns’ March ’69 mix).

At any rate, Dick Summer then told me that he had lost contact with Kaye when Kaye moved to Buffalo. Dead End #4.

John is awaiting word directly from Kaye, though (via e-mail that Don Berns was kind enough to forward to him) as well as from Danny Nevearth, who was also at KBW in ’69. I’m hoping to hear
from Charles Laquidera, who was at BCN at that time but likely wasn’t the announcer that night. Possible Potential Leads #3, 4, and 5.

(5) Both stations aired tapes, not records, of their respective GB material. Tom at KBW specifically recalled playing a tape, and the BCN announcer let it known that he, too, was airing a tape. So these are dubs provided to them. Barely Possible Lead #6.

(6) Towards the very end of Tom’s broadcast, he spoke as though he were reading copy — a commentary about the collection of songs he had just aired. (He actually said at one
point, “it says here,” reminding me of Lennon’s 1964 Christmas Message).

At first I was convinced that Tom had Capitol promotional material and actual Capitol test LPs (two one-sided discs — he says “double LP”) in hand, but after John slapped me back to
reality, I leafed through my collection of old “Rolling Stone” issues and, to my surprise and John’s vengeful yet delightful “I told you so” glee, located precisely from what Tom was reading:
a September 20, 1969 article about the GB record from an unsigned author in London. (The issue was available on newstands three weeks earlier, August 27.)

It’s highly likely that the unsigned author was either RS London writers Jonathan Cott or David Dalton. (Among many assignments, Cott had interviewed Lennon for RS in November ’68.) Both were mentioned just a few issues earlier as the writers behind the just- completed and -reported GB book (with photographs by Ethan Russell) that was to be included in the
then-soon-to-be-released GB album (but then later postponed for December, it says here). These were the two who were given legitimate access by Apple to some of the 1/69 Nagra reels from
which they had included transcriptions in the said GB book.

Here, in the September 20 issue, the author (again, presumably Cott or Dalton) offers a track-by-track analysis of each song from what’s easily discerned as the May ’69 mix. After I pull out
“Frederick James”‘s likewise track-by-track commentary in the August 1969 issue of “Beatles Monthly,” it becomes clear that the RS article is not a lift from BM; it includes specific song details not mentioned in the BM article.

I then learn that Dalton, born British, lived in NYC in the ’60s and returned to England in December 1967. He’s not just a writer; he’s a photographer. He’s deeply immersed in the pop/rock
music scenes in both NY and England. In fact, he sends photographs of rock stars in concert to RS founder Jann Wenner, who suggests he put some writing behind these pictures. He does, and a rock writer legend is born.

Also, and someone help me out here — my memory, as scattered as it’s become by now, has it that some of those Nagra B reels that were transcribed in the GB book and appeared in what was later collected in the GB Journals CD set have since disappeared and aren’t included in the grand Day-By-Day/Yellow Dog/Unicorn series. Is that halfway correct?

Regardless, we’ve got legitimate access to both the Nagra reels and the May ’69 mixes by two London journalists working for Rolling Stone, one of whom lived in the States less than 2 years
before. What does this tell us? Who the hell knows. But a possible Potential Lead Lucky #7, I say.

Meanwhile, John and I are ruminating over the long-assumed connection between Lennon’s appearance in Toronto in mid-September and the initial airings of both GB mixes a week later. I submit that the thought of Lennon carrying around with him acetates of both mixes made little sense; he could have cared less about those sessions. “And,” I rambled on, “the only Beatle who _did_ give a hoot about them, who carried the ball during those recordings, was Paul.”

Surprisingly, no by-now-feared slap from John. (Though I ended up having to slap him a few times after he suggested Toronto journalist Ritche Yorke as a potential source. Sillly, sad, lost
soul, that John.)

Paul and Linda had traveled to NYC shortly after their wedding in March. Paul could have certainly carried with him the 1/69 acetate, being the only one in the band who cared about them.
After all, two years earlier he brought his “A Day in the Life” acetate to the States in April, 1967, and it’s documented that he played the acetate for both Jefferson Airplane and the Beach
Boys while in L.A. And it was only a week later when a tape of that acetate found its way on the air on both WBZ and WKBW. So Paul’s involvement with at least the 1/69 mix might not be as
far-fetched as first imagined. What _is_ troublesome is why it might have taken half a year for that acetate to finally get broadcast. Could he have left the acetate in NY, and someone from the Eastman (or other) household later gotten his/her hands on it and then sent a dub to Boston? Potential lead #7 but hardly smoking-gun material.

[Big Aside — can anyone here recall if WOR-FM in NYC also aired ADITL that April? This relates to Murray the K and Dick Summer swapping Beatles material. Mr. Winn mentioned that Brian
Epstein was in NYC in either late February or early March 1967 and was interviewed by Murray the K on the air on WOR-FM. He was also in NYC then to coordinate with Murray a week-long
music extravaganza at the RKO Theater in April, with Cream making their U.S. debut. (The Who also performed; I don’t remember if this was likewise their U.S. debut.) Perhaps Brian also brought with him an acetate of ADITL and provided Murray with a copy. Thus the question of whether anyone remembers Murray airing it on WOR-FM a month later. If he did, it might help
provide that link between Murray and Dick Summer, who was the first to air the song on WBZ that April.]

Mr. Winn then reminded me that we shouldn’t forget perhaps the one non-Beatle who without a doubt had access to both mixes — Mr. Glyn Johns himself. John further mentioned that Johns was working on Steve Miller’s LP in London that Spring ’69, and so it seemed reasonable to suggest that he came to the States for further recording work and brought with him both acetates to play and perhaps allow dubs to be made for others. Imaginary but Potential Lead #8.

So here’s what we do know: mid-September 1969, KBW airs a tape of the 5/69 mix, believing it has an album’s worth of songs known about and fully described (including its cover) in both
Rolling Stone and — perhaps not to the station’s knowlege at the time — Beatles Monthly, and not due for official release until December.

Meanwhile, just shortly after, BCN airs a tape of the 1/69 mix but acknowledges that Buffalo “got it first” (without evidently realizing that what Buffalo has is different from what Boston has). BCN
also implies that they got their tape copy from WMEX, where Dick Summer works.

Beyond that, lots of gaps but several not-improbable scenarios:

(1) McCartney’s a passive source for the 1/69 mix for Boston, while Dalton and/or Cott are an active source for the 5/69 mix for Buffalo. I’m personally liking the Cott/Dalton scenario more and
more for the 5/69 dissemination (see more below).

(2) Johns is a source for both the 1/69 and 5/69 mix.

(3) Lennon had no involvement in the dissemination of either mix.

How these tapes fell into the hands of KBW and BCN remains unknown. (Which, naturally, was the point of this weekend project to begin with, thus reaffirming the altered adage, “That’s
three days I’ll never get back.”)

However, I’m beginning to suspect the tentacles of the “Rolling Stone” folk. It seems unimaginable that Jann Wenner didn’t “request” a copy from either Cott or Dalton. And, let’s recall, Tom McKay at KBW is reading from the RS article; what’s not clear is whether he’s reading it directly from the 9/20/69 issue or if a copy of the article has been included in the GB tape sent to the station, provided as sort of “liner notes.”

Meanwhile, John just informs me from his undisclosed location that, according to Clinton Heylin in his book _Bootleg,_ “California FM radio stations were to the fore of breaking the
[George] Martin [1/69] tapes [within the Fall of ’69]. … Within weeks the first bootleg version of “Get Back” was available in Berkeley, pressed (in L.A., as there were no plants in San
Francisco) by an unknown small-time entrepeneur.” (p. 57 — this was the 1/69 “Kum Bach” boot.)

The FM radio stations were likely those that Heylin had identified earlier in his book when discussing the history of Dylan’s “Great White Wonder” bootleg (p. 46) — KMET-FM and KPPC-FM, both in L.A.

And — John kindly reminds me — Who worked at KPPC-FM before he went to BCN in Boston in ’69? Charles Laquidera. Here’s a guy who in 1971 sent me, a total stranger who was working at my college radio station, a pristine dub of Buffalo Springfield’s unreleased 9.5-minute version of “Bluebird.”

And so we finally reach Cul-de-sac #1.

More to come should events warrant. Everyone here welcome to add, subtract, multiply, or subdivide. English translation available upon request.

Thank you, god speed, and drive safely.

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