Music History 102 

Today may be one of those rare days that Microsoft Co-founder, Paul Allen is NOT thinking about music. 

Since his Portland Trailblazers won the NBA lottery last Tuesday, entitling the team to the #1 draft pick,*   Allen has probably been a little distracted, lost in thought, a million miles away from those posh Cannes parties he’s been attending lately. 

No doubt he is wondering how in the world he will be able to keep up with all of those post-game parties if his Seattle Seahawks go to the SuperBowl again AND the Blazers make it to the NBA Finals all within the next year……

 But I’m sure he’ll muddle through somehow…. And we were, after all, right in the middle of a music history lesson, on our way to linking Paul Allen with architect Frank Gehry, so we just can’t stop now, you know?

 So let’s get on with it—Music History 102, post 1965 songs…. 


The Sixties were a time of enormous cultural change, and nowhere was this transformation reflected more profoundly than in the world of music:   Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards, in a recent interview with Rolling Stone Magazine’s Anthony DeCurtis, said this about the 60’s—- “It was pretty crazy; you kind of made them up as you went along, really. Somewhere in 1963, 64, 65 our generation came of age, so to speak.   In England, there was a definite feeling that either this place is going to go right down the tube, or something has to be regenerated…
England was bloody boring, and something had to happen.   Rock & roll happened, basically.”*1

According to Beatles’ Paul McCartney (again speaking to Rolling Stone’s Anthony DeCurtis) — “Times were a-changing, as Mr. Dylan said. We were just following our instincts, but there was a big spurt of energy.   The ideas were coming fast and thick. All sorts of new ideas—artistic, political, musical.  We started writing stuff that was different because we were talking and thinking and feeling different.”*1


The mid-60’s were a pivotal time for rock n roll music, which evolved dramatically between 1964 and the years that followed: 

Per Sir Paul McCartney,  

“So much had happened so quickly, certainly since the Beatles had come to America in 1964.   Essentially those three years (between 64 and 67) were the difference between “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and Sgt. Pepper.”……”It was pretty far out.  We’d kind of gotten used to part of that just by being the Beatles. Even “I Want to Hold Your Hand” had driven people crazy.  “Twist and Shout” had grooved them.   But now you were taking it to this other level.  You were getting into their hearts and their minds, inside the center of their brains….”*1  


The Beatles–  I Wanna Hold Your Hand     Twist and Shout— Shea Stadium 1965   The Making of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band  

 So let’s start out by linking one of the iconic groups of 60’s rock—The Beatles.   

Link to Paul Allen:   

 Among other things, Beatles’ Paul McCartney was a guest at Paul Allen’s lavish
St. Petersburg party in 2001.

Another group that defined 60’s music was the Rolling Stones. 

Rolling Stones—“Gimme Shelter” 


“Gimme Shelter” was the lead track from the Rolling Stones’ 1969 album, “Let it Bleed.”  A commentary on the Vietnam War, the song’s title was also used for a 1970 movie about the Rolling Stones’ Altamont Speedway Concert in which a fellow performer, Jefferson Airplane’s Marty Balin was knocked out by a Hell’s Angel, and another man was stabbed to death during the performance.  See…     Said lead Stones’ singer, Mick Jagger about the song itself, “That’s a kind of end-of-the-world song, really. It’s apocalypse…” (From 

 Link to Paul Allen:

Mick Jagger has several ties to Paul Allen  (See… “Fifteen Minutes of Fame, Part Two”    The most recent connection was at Allen’s Beverly Hills party for the Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games in March of this year, where Jagger was one of the guests. See …. “Going for the Gold”  

And finally, here are a few other great songs from this era and their links to Microsoft Co-founder, Paul Allen….. 

Mustang Sally (Wilson Pickett)      


 Mustang Sally is a rhythm and blues song written and performed by Mack Rice and best known through a cover by Wilson Pickett. According to music historian, Tom Shannon, Mack started the song as a joke in 1965 when Della Reese‘s band leader wanted a new Ford Mustang . Mack called the early version “Mustang Mama,” but changed it after Aretha Franklin suggested “Mustang Sally”. Rice’s version made it to #15 on the R&B Charts. Pickett’s version made it to #23 in 1966. (Excerpt from Wikipedia. See… )   

 Link to Paul Allen:

Paul Allen, CEO of Charter Communications, one of the nation’s top cable companies, performed a rendition of this Wilson Pickett song before a crowd of his peers at a party he threw aboard his megayacht Octopus in New Orleans during the 2004 Annual Cable Industry convention.   


Layla (Eric Clapton)   


Layla, written by Eric Clapton in 1970 and originally performed by Derek and the Dominos, is considered one of rock music’s definitive love songs.  There is an interesting story behind the song:   Eric Clapton fell in love with Patti Boyd, the wife of Beatles’ George Harrison. Eric and George were close friends who collaborated on a number of songs, including “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” and Cream’s “Badge.”  But after a number of years, Eric broke down and expressed his feelings to Patti–to no avail. Boyd would not leave her husband George, the man who wrote the song “Something” for her.  Later when people asked Eric about the song, he said that “Layla” was about a woman whom he felt deeply about who turned him down.” Clapton took the name Layla from a Persian love story called “Layla and Mashoun.”  Several years later, the Harrison couple did divorce, and in a secret ceremony in
Tucson, Arizona in 1979, Patti Boyd finally married Eric Clapton.

  Link to Paul Allen:

Among other connections to Paul Allen, Eric Clapton also was featured in the discography for PBS’ “The Blues,” produced by Allen’s Vulcan Productions.   ————————————————– 

 Less than 10 years and too, too many good songs…….so hang on—we’ll continue our music history lesson in the next post…



*O.k., so maybe he IS the luckiest guy on the planet….. *    *1 Rolling Stones Magazine, The Fortieth Anniversary issueMay 3-17th, 2007