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

III. The WKBW Branch

For reasons to be elaborated in a future post, we’ve determined that WKBW probably aired their Get Back tape on or about Saturday, September 20, 1969.

Here are the contents of the broadcast as it survives on CD-R, the DJ’s comments dispersed throughout inbetween songs, and a taped announcement, “WKBW Exclusive!” popping up
continually.

1. One After 909 — aired twice, second time fades early
2. Rocker/Save the Last Dance for Me
3. Don’t Let Me Down
4. Dig a Pony — into the instrumental break, the track suddenly ends and is replaced with —         5. Across the Universe                                                                                                                                        6. Get Back — the song is first heard from its instrumental break, then fades near the end
7. For You Blue
8. Teddy Boy
9. Two Of Us/Maggie Mae
10. Dig It — longer 5-minute version
11. Let It Be (“take 27, sync to second clap”)
12. Long and Winding Road — into the second verse, a promo from CJRN, a Canadian station from Niagara Falls, suddenly cuts in, and then there’s silence; the KB announcer wonders out
loud if that’s the end of the tape. He assumes it is, begins recapping, but then, suddenly, the song quickly fades back in and resumes from near the second stanza of the first verse.

Finally, after this song ends, the tape ends, and the announcer recaps again, reading a small passage from an article on the then-forthcoming release of the “Get Back” album that appeared
in the September 20, 1969, issue of “Rolling Stone.”

Track 5, Across the Universe, is from a later broadcast. It’s from the “No One’s Gonna Change Our World” charity album, and it includes the birds s/fx intro and outro. The home taper had
recorded over the second half of Track 4 and the first half of Track 5 for this song, which would have been broadcast no earlier than December ’69. ATU was _not_ part of the “Get Back” tape that KBW aired that September.

The tape (minus ATU) represents a copy of Glyn Johns’ 5/69 mix. Tracks 1, 10, and 12 would be seen to contain clues as to the tape’s probable lineage. More on that in a future post.

* * * * * * * * *

Last week, John dug out these chestnuts from Belmo’s Beatleg News:

A letter from Rich Hannon in 1990:

– “I used to scour the east coast and Midwest radio stations for anything new on the Beatles. It was just days after the first playing of ‘Abbey Road’ that WKBW-AM in Buffalo previewd the ‘Get Back’ album. When they were playing it with ‘WKBW Exclusive!’ voices-over. I also heard a Canadian station’s call letters. WKBW was making a big deal about being the first ‘American’ station to play these songs, so maybe they got them from a station up north.” (published September 1990; Volume 4, Number 1/2, p. 17)

In a short reply, Belmo wrote, “I did write to the dj at WKBW you named but never heard back.”

Rich followed up two years later in ’92:

– “I had a chance to talk to Danny Nevereth [sic], who was a disk jockey at WKBW in Buffalo in ’69 when they played the ‘Get Back’ album. I asked him how they had obtained the material, and he said that they got it from Toronto via unofficial channels (he was too busy to elaborate). I think they must have taped the songs from a station in Toronto. I mentioned before hearing the Canadian call letters, and I’m guessing that John (or somebody with him; a dj? Ronnie Hawkins?) gave the songs to somebody when he was in Toronto for the ‘Live Peace’ concert.” (published August 1992; #32, Volume 5, Number 3, p. 7)

Quick reminder — John’s Toronto concert occured Saturday night, September 13.

Rich is, by his own admission, guessing, but it was nice to discover that someone else had once tried to make sense of this then-little-known broadcast.

Over a decade later, John and I had better success getting more information out of both the announcer who aired the tape, Tom McKay, and Danny Neaverth, who was referred to above by Rich.

* * * * * * * * *

First, how KBW acquired the tape:

Danny Neaverth is a mainstay at KBW. He’s been there, off and on, since the early ’60s. He’s there today, now doing the morning drive 6 to 10 am slot. In September 1969, he was the afternoon deejay.

John contacted him last December, and here’s Danny’s reply (punctuation cleaned up for clarity):

– “I was music director at the time. It was all very cloak and dagger. My wife, Marie, and I drove to Toronto where we were to meet a mysterious person who would, for money, hand over a copy of a tape of the album. It was actually pretty exciting, as he had a description of us and where we were to meet, and at what time, but we had no idea who we were dealing with; each person who passed our car became a possibility. Arriving about 15 minutes late we were handed the tape. We turned over the money — I believe it was something like $100 — and we were on our way back to Buffalo. [I] never did find out who the mystery person was. We were contacted by someone who knew someone who supposedly was able to make a copy out of the [Apple] studio. That’s really all I can tell you.”

In a followup, Danny continued:

– “Sorry, but I don’t remember who contacted the station regarding the Toronto meet. I also remember that we used to do a talkover on exclusives like this so other stations couldn’t record
off our air and use them; several times during the playing, an announcer voice would come on and say, ‘WKBW WORLD EXCLUSIVE.’ Boy, were we cool or what? I also remember that the quality of the tape was very poor, as if it had been secretly recorded, but because it was such a big deal no one cared. The whole exchange in Toronto was really like something out of a spy movie.”

Danny added a little more detail when I contacted him late last week:

– “Ok, here is what I remember. Jeff Kaye sent me to [Toronto] to get the tape. It was in an area out of the downtown. The guy who approached us was in his twenties, but I don’t believe he was actually the guy that Jeff dealt with, just a messenger. I didn’t hear the tape before it aired, and when I heard it, it sounded pretty crude, obviously snuck out of the [Apple] studio without the Beatles knowledge. [An] early bootleg.”

I’ve estimated that the car drive from Buffalo to Toronto and back totaled 190 miles (Buffalo to Hamilton to Toronto is around 95 miles.) Around a 90-minute trip to Toronto and a 90-minute trip
back to Buffalo, so approximately 3 hours total.

* * * * * * * * *

Contacting Jeff Kaye is our current quest. I called NFL Films last week (where he used to do voice-overs), but he no longer contributes. I talked to someone in the voice/over department who promised to forward my contact info to Jeff. But He hasn’t yet gotten back to me. To be pursued.

* * * * * * * * *

The story picks up with Tom McKay’s recollections. Tom had been working the all-night shift at KB for the past two summers while he was off from college at Notre Dame, Tom writes, “filling
in for the regular all-night guy, Roger Christian, who filled in for all the other jocks when they went on vacation. . . . Ironically, after a few weeks back on the all-nite shift, I was asked to fill in as the station copywriter and Production Director for ‘a few weeks’ — which turned into a year or two, and later an ad agency gig.”

It was during his second and last summer-stint as all-night fill-in when Tom came in one night and was instructed to play the tape that Danny Neaverth had appeared to have acquired just earlier that same day or perhaps even that very evening.

When I first approached him in December, Tom didn’t have much to contribute, his memory a blur:

– “You know, Don, when you mentioned that Jeff [Kaye] did a ‘KB Exclusive’ break between each cut,* I suddenly remembered playing the Beatles tape. Because that was the only time I remember us doing that. And the reason I don’t remember the event itself very much [is] because I probably just racked up the tape, hit ‘Start,’ and went off somewhere to ‘enjoy’ it properly — in the spirit of the times, if you know what I mean. 😉 (cough-cough)”

[*Actually, the break Tom describes wasn’t between each cut, it was within each cut and elsewhere as well. More on this below.]

– “I suspect the real reason for the ‘WKBW Exclusive’ drop-ins, by the way, was to keep competitors (other radio stations) from taping and airing it — not to stop listeners. Well, that and bragging rights.”

But later, his memories began to perk up:

– “That night I was handed a reel to reel tape as I walked into the studio and told to play it. There was no time to audition it beforehand and see what was on it. Hell, I’m not sure *anyone* at the station had listened all the way thru. This was the BEATLES, after all! Anyway, that’s why I sounded so well prepared and “in the know” when I played it on the air that night. ;-)”

[Tom’s being sarcastic here — he’s listening to the tape for the first time as he’s playing it live on the air, and he’s responding to it on the air thusly.]

– “I know as the all-night guy I was the first guy who got to play album cuts on KB, rather than just the 45s the daytime guys aired. (Did you know KB in those days had no formal format, per se? They trusted each jock to put together the music, within some general guidelines. It was even looser on the all-night shift, as you can imagine.)”

When I asked him about reading from the 9/20/69 Rolling Stone article (again, first available on newstands a month before, August 27), he couldn’t remember that actual moment:

– “Again, I have no recollection, Don, but I used to read RS religiously, so I might have just had it around.”

But he did offer a mental picture of the studio:

– “Well, the daytime jocks had an engineer, so there was plenty of room for our reading material. (It was set up for the jocks to stand, by the way — to keep the energy level up.) There was a large sloping desk for the log, misc.

“During the all-night show I ran my own board, and to the right were three giant 17” RCA turntables — what huge beasts. They took about two or three seconds to get up to speed. I usually only used two of them, so there would have been room for magazines, etc. (I can’t remember what was to the left of the console; maybe cart machines or extra space, too.) But if I was running a tape, like that night, at least two of the turntables could have been idle. Besides, there was a little stand in front of the
mike for ad copy and material like the RS article. We read a LOT of stuff! Besides, RS was pretty small in those days compared to today’s version.”

Two months later, after he had received a CD-R of his broadcast, Tom and I continued our e-mail conversation, and after more prodding, he recalled:

– “I suppose it was Jeff [who] handed me the tape to play. I suspect Danny would have been home in bed by then. 😉 Actually, Jeff might not even have been there. It was probably just left for me with a note. That’s probably what actually happened.”

I asked him about the CJRN interruption that was aired live over KBW’s airwave and wondered whether that might have been the result of someone at the station accidentally punching in the
Canadian Niagara Falls station:

– “No, it wasn’t a live feed – surely you jest. (But maybe whoever dubbed it opened a pot by mistake?)”

And then offered this:

– “No, I didn’t do anything to the tape but hit the start button, Don. All those annoying “KB Exclusive” voiceovers were already there, no doubt dubbed on by one of our engineers — the talent wasn’t allowed to touch the boards (except for overnights). You’d get your hand slapped…”

However, after listening closely to the broadcast tape, John was able to determine that the “KB Exclusive” voiceovers _weren’t_ already on the tape. John measured the distance between each interruption during each contiguous passage on the CD-R and found them consistently spaced apart. They’d pop up while the GB tape was rolling, and they’d pop up while Tom was talking in between songs, with the GB tape stopped for those moments.This means that there was a loop of the “KB Exclusive!” spot prepared for the broadcast, perhaps dubbed onto a cartridge, and that loop played throughout, regardless of whether the tape was being played or not. So that little mystery is solved. The tape couldn’t have had that voice/over on it when Tom played it on the air.

Back to Tom:

– “The CJRN ‘oops’ was no doubt added mistakenly by whoever made the dub for us, presumably at CJRN. He might not have known it happened, or he was too scared and didn’t want to start the whole dub over from the beginning. I imagine that might have been a firing offense for him. Of course, I don’t know for a fact. But it was definitely on the tape we got — it wasn’t me accidentally
opening a feed from somewhere.”

Tom acknowledges that he’s speculating here. He doesn’t know for a fact _how_ that CJRN “oops” made its way onto the tape. But one thing he’s clear about — the CJRN interruption was on the tape itself. This sounds right.

I asked him if there was a formal business relationship/connection between KB and CJRN.

Tom: “I have no idea, Don, but I doubt it. I think in those days KB was a Fairchild station. Was CJRN? That might explain it. I knew no one there. But I assume somebody at KB must have known somebody that knew someone at CJRN.”

Me: “It’s hard for me to imagine that KBW didn’t have its own dubbing facilities.”

Tom: “Oh, we had multiple recording studios, Don. We just didnt have the master to make dubs from – and no one in their right mind would have ‘loaned’ such a master to anyone. Especially if there was a cease and desist order floating about. I’m sure whoever possessed it made the dubs. Then KB copied the copy while adding the ‘WKBW Exclusive’ voice-overs on it. Hence, at least a 3rd or 4th generation dub, maybe later.

“Now that I think of it, no wonder the sound quality was so awful – it was at least a third generation dub, probably fourth or worse. Of course, it was played on AM, so…”

Again, Tom is theorizing out-loud here. First, he’s making the (false) assumption that the “WKBW Exclusive” voice/over was on the tape. It wasn’t. Second, I believe that he surmises that, for some reason, the tape was first sent to CJRN to be dubbed — and that’s when the CJRN “oops” spot occured — before it arrived at KB. But Danny Neaverth says nothing about carrying the tape to another station to be dubbed first (though I’ll ask him about this later this week). It just makes little sense to have done that, especially when Tom says that KB had “multiple recording studios.”

For the geography students: Buffalo and Niagara Falls on the Canadian side of the border is around 30 miles away.

In a later post, I’ll try to explain why I believe that the CJRN interruption was actually on the tape that Danny Neaverth had purchased from the mystery messenger in Toronto, before any dubs of dubs were made at the Buffalo station or anywhere else.

A more detailed analysis of the tape contents forthcoming.

Thus ends Part III. Part IV begins the WBCN branch.

* * * * * * * * *

P.S. — Off-topic for this discussion, but I think folks here might be interested — Tom wrote about his involvement in KBW’s “Paul Is Alive and Well … Maybe” special that aired October 31, 1969:

– “Jeff and I also collaborated on several music specials, including one you may recall: ‘Paul McCartney is Alive and Well… Maybe.’ … I remember sitting on the floor in Jeff’s office late into
the evening, playing every freaking Beatles track backwards, looking for more ‘clues’ and making notes for the script. What a time it was! Years later Gene Chennault (of Drake-Chennault fame) mentioned that program to me when we first met. Could have knocked me over with a feather. Didn’t know the West Coast was even aware of KB, much less that program.”

In a later e-mail exchange, Tom went into more detail over how that program was put together:

– “FYI, on that special, the first track was narrated by (cringe) Sandy Beach, who was (imho) the epitome of the jive ‘AM DJ.’ (This from the ultra-hip <g> overnight guy!) You could hear it in his careless delivery and how he mangled a few words. (‘Posthumously’ – sheesh!) God, we must have done twentytakes with him. He was a radio ‘personality’ but he couldn’t read copy worth a damn. He really struggled with his part — even after rehearsals. He used to regularly butcher my carefully-crafted commercials, too. Many DJs could (can) ‘sight read’ copy – like some musicians can sight read a lead sheet. Just pick up the copy and read it perfectly, cold. Not Sandy. I could never understand why Jeff left it, especially as the leadoff. Well, I think he wanted to include all the daytime jocks, and make it seem like a real ‘station production.’ And I’m sure he sure didn’t want Sandy’s part coming in later, during the ‘good parts.’ But the special was really 90% Jeff Kaye’s work. His writing, his narration.

“Track 2 (Paul’s imagined car crash) was narrated by Dan Neavereath [sic], longtime PM Drive and later AM Drive personality. Still on the air in Bflo, last I heard. So his is son. Someone else did Track 3 — I don’t recognize the voice. Maybe Stan Roberts, KB’s morning guy. But it really doesn’t sound like him. I wonder if Jack Armstrong had started doing evenings by then? No, I think that was later. Maybe it’ll come to me. (Maybe you don’t really care.)

“The bulk of the special was written and narrated – superbly, for the most part – by Jeff Kaye (aka Martin J. Krimsky, but you didn’t hear it from me. 😉 Jeff was blessed with a great set of pipes, a
great sense of drama and imagination (witness the stuff he made up for this program!), and was a good writer, too. (Tough guy to work for, though.)”

* * * * * * * * *

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