I just learned Len Barry died a month ago on November 5, 2020. It reminded me of a post I wrote for the SotW back on July 10, 2010, before Rock and Roll Remnants began. I’m posting it here now in tribute to Barry.
Ignored Obscured Restored
A few year’s ago my brother told me he had just seen a very interesting documentary on PBS about John Lennon’s Jukebox. Since I consider myself a pretty knowledgeable Beatles fan, I was surprised to learn a documentary was made on a subject I didn’t even know existed. I was able to catch the show a few days later on a rebroadcast.
Here’s the skinny. Apparently Lennon found a Swiss made “portable” (33 lbs.) jukebox and bought one around 1965. He stocked it with forty-one 45s and took it on the road when he toured. In 1989, the juke showed up in a Beatles memorabilia auction at Christie’s and some dude (John Midwinter) bought it for about $5 grand.
But the best part is that it still had the forty-one records in it, complete with title strips in Lennon’s own handwriting! The song selection gives a great insight into the music that influenced Lennon’s own early compositions. Here’s a link to the complete list of records:
It’s hard to pick a single song from this list but I’m going with “1-2-3” by Len Barry, partly because I’ve always liked the song and partly because I have a personal connection to it. “1-2-3” was a #2 hit in the U.S. in 1965 when I was a nine year old boy. At the time, my father was dabbling in concert promotion, bringing national acts to upstate New York and using his roller skating rink as the performance venue. When he booked Barry I was excited and asked if it would be possible to get his autograph. Well, being a young boy I fell asleep before the concert was over but my father woke me up at the end of the night to meet Barry and collect the autograph. Barry couldn’t have been nicer, scribbled his autograph and handed it to me. Still in a stupor, I took it from him – and tore it in half!
I really didn’t mean to insult the poor guy. Hopefully the incident didn’t bruise his ego too deeply.
Enjoy… until next week.