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

Summary of Part I and the Followup Debunking

Ok — let’s recap what was determined, imagined, and posted here last December (12/7/04):

(1) WKBW

Sometime in mid-September 1969, WKBW in Buffalo broadcast Glyn Johns’ 5/69 mix, which was at that time slated for commercial release in December. The show had been taped by a listener; that tape was found decades later by someone else who then burned it onto CD and made copies for others; one of these others then made it available as a beatleg.

The broadcast occurred just a week or less after the station had aired a pre-release copy of “Abbey Road.”

On the broadcast, the announcer identified himself as Tom McKay. I located and contacted him, then sent him a copy of the broadcast.

On the program, Tom read the top few sentences of an article from the September 20, 1969, issue of Rolling Stone, which had been available on newsstands August 27.

It was my speculation then that the article had been written by either Jonathan Cott or David Dalton, the co-authors of the by-then-finished booklet “Get Back,” which consisted of photographs and transcripts of selected 1/69 Nagra reels and which was to be included as part of the “Get Back” LP release. (It subsequently was in May 1970, but only in the UK edition of the “Let It Be” LP.)

Which led to further speculation that either Cott or Dalton may have had a hand in disseminating a copy of the forthcoming “Get Back” LP to Rolling Stone, which then arranged for the
manufacture of the first bootlegs. Talk about traveling down the wrong fork in the road. More on this below.

(2) WBCN

In the early evening of September 22, 1969, WBCN in Boston broadcast Glyn Johns’ 1/69 mix. Also taped off the air, this broadcast has since appeared on both the vinyl and CD bootlegs, “Posters, Incense and Strobe Candles” (the CD version — Vigotone 109 — is complete with ads and “Abbey Road” tracks, again, before that album’s commercial release). (Yellow Dog also bootlegged the broadcast (YD 035), but the Vigotone CD remains the definitive version.)

[The first 300 copies of this 1993 LP included a package of Strawberry incense! I guess Apple ‘flavor’ was unavailable.]

The unidentified WBCN announcer mentioned Dick Summer (then at local station WMEX*) in a manner that suggested Dick’s familiarity with the tape, leading me to speculate that BCN got
their tape from WMEX. Another wrong fork, it turned out.

(* The transcript included in the vinyl edition of “Posters…” identifies the call letters as WNEX, which is a station in Macon, Georgia. But the deejay is clearly heard referring to WMEX, a station in Boston. He actually says “weh-mex,” using the shorthand abbreviation of the letter “W.” And Dick Summer is definitely at WMEX at this time.)

The announcer also said that “Buffalo had it first,” evidently referring to WKBW (even though he wasn’t aware that both KBW and BCN had aired different mixes).

And he referred to someone else in the studio with him at the time who he addressed as “Mississippi,” which co-researcher John Winn had determined was fellow BCN announcer Joe
Rogers. In the end, this turned out to be the key that eventually opened the floodgates.

All of which led me down these speculative theories last December: Paul McCartney the source for the 1/69 mix for Boston (this was a stretch) and David Dalton or Jonathan Cott the source for the 5/69 mix for Buffalo (a possibility — then); John Lennon had no involvement whatsoever (a near-certainty); Glyn Johns the source for both mixes (a slender possibility).

We left these speculations with the tantalizing information provided in Clinton Heylin’s book _Bootleg_: “California FM radio stations were to the fore of breaking the [George] Martin [1/69]
tapes. … 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
entrepreneur.” [p. 57 — this was the “Kum Back” boot that included tracks from the 1/69 mix.]

(*The “within weeks” timeline might be off by a few months; this is a topic for an entirely separate but major avenue of research that John’s just begun. More on this way later if at all in this saga.)

The FM radio stations were thought to be 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, the former in L.A. and the latter in Pasadena.

What connected the thread at this stage of the hunt was Charles Laquidara, who had worked at KPPC but, by September ’69, was at WBCN.

* * *

That’s where Part I ended. John was waiting to hear back from two announcers who were also at Buffalo’s KBW in September ’69, and I was still waiting to hear back from Tom McKay — the
voice behind the KBW 5/69 broadcast — after he had received a copy of the show, and Charles Laquidara, then at BCN in 9/69. And both of us were still looking for Joe Rogers, aka “Mississippi.”

First things first — let’s debunk the December ’04 speculations:

1. McCartney as the source for the 1/69 mix — this was an admitted stretch, based on nothing but an overactive yet flawed imagination. Nothing ever came to light giving any credence to Paul’s possible involvement.

2. Glyn Johns as the source for both the 1/69 and 5/69 mixes — this was John’s speculation and, thus far, nothing credible has turned up that would add to it.

(John and I were also entertaining the idea of Billy Preston as the source, since his debut Apple album was released September 10, and we were thinking he’d be promoting the LP with radio interviews and perhaps providing one of the deejays with a copy of an acetate perhaps given to him by Glyn Johns 8 months earlier. But, again, we could find nothing beyond our imaginations.)

3. Lennon as the source for neither mix — well, it’s tough to prove a negative, but for all the reasons cited in Part I, this still rings true.

4. David Dalton and/or Jonathan Cott as the sources for the 5/69 mix — I searched for Dalton’s e-mail address, thought I may have found it, wrote whom I hoped was him, but got no response. Then asked Ben Fong Torres, who I know via a friend. He didn’t know.

Never could find Jonathan’s e-mail address, either, but then I had a crazy thought: maybe he’s in the Manhattan phone book. Looked him up and there he was. So I gave him a ring. He picked up the phone, we chatted, and here’s what he told me:

– He didn’t write the 9/20/69 Rolling Stone article/review of the “Get Back” album and doesn’t know who did.

– He has no idea where David Dalton is, nor does he know whether or not David had written the article.

– He and David were _not_ given access to the Nagra reels when they edited the selected transcripts of those reels for the _Get Back_ booklet. With what they were provided were the
transcripts themselves only. Which means that someone at Apple was given the chore of listening to the Nagras and write or type up the transcripts.

– He didn’t have a clue how the earliest Get Back tapes had spread. He said perhaps Dalton might but he didn’t know for sure.

At this point I decided to scratch Rolling Stone off as the initial dissemination of the bootlegs. And what I suspect now is this: the writer of the 9/20/69 article on the Get Back LP — be it Dalton
or someone else (but not Cott) — was probably invited to Apple and offered to listen to the record (either an acetate or tape) in the Apple offices. That was it. No possibility of making a copy either in the office or elsewhere.

So much for those theories.

Part III to follow (it’ll be devoted to the KBW branch) after I do a bit of digital A/B comparisons this weekend.

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