Posts Tagged ‘beatles


Johanan Vigoda – Who knew?

Johanan_VigodaFirst of all I must apologize for this blog coming to an abrupt halt a few years ago; we here at Hi-Fi Central just became pre-occupied in our lives and finding time to write for the blog, well…ok, that’s a bunch of bullshit.  We just didn’t take the time to keep it going, myself included, so now that that’s been said, let’s get back into writing about all things related to music in some form or another, shall we?

Recently I was thinking back about being a kid growing up in the suburbs of Schenectady, New York and all the hippie type characters my parents would run into during the mid-1970’s.  One unique individual was this guy named Johanan Vigoda.  I don’t remember Johanan very well, but from what I do recall he was a very kind man, who was incredibly soft spoken and ate frozen peas from a satchel bag.  My father father always remembered the frozen peas when recalling his initial meeting with Johanan.  I only met  him once when I was about 7 or 8; my father was selling either a BMW RT75 or RT100, it was metallic cherry red, many fond memories of my father taking me out for night rides when I was young.

My father had put the motorcycle up for sale, but after a few weeks had taken the bike out of the listings since he didn’t have any bites of interest, and then one day at random this guy and woman come riding down the driveway on a motorcycle interested in the bike.  My father came down and chatted for a bit; somewhere during the conversation it was discovered that Johanan was an entertainment attorney living downstate; he didn’t really elaborate, nor did my parent pry.  It was just a cool feeling out process, and clearly my parents and Johanan felt comfortable with one another.  After a bit of chatting Johanan asked if he could take the bike out for a test ride to see if it was what he wanted, my father obliged and off Johanan went down the road.  A short while later, Johanan returned with what appeared to be some minor scratches and damage to the bike.  The fairing was cracked and the left mirror and turn signals were gone;  apparently due to some slick conditions on bridge up the road he dropped the bike but was luckily Johanan unhurt.

My mother recalls that Johanan was incredibly apologetic and offered my father to pay all expenses incurred from the damage, and that he would purchase the bike once repaired, just give him the bill.  The bike was fixed a week later and Johanan asked if my father could bring the bike down to his house in Woodstock, New York, my father was more than willing to deliver the bike no problem.  As Johanan promised he asked my father what the final damages were with the repair and the purchase of the motorcycle, and without hesitation or discussion paid my father what he asked.  That was the last time we saw Johanan Vigoda.

A few months later my mother was watching the Grammy’s and as they focused the camera down the aisle who was sitting there, Johanan!  My mother never forgot seeing him and recalling what a kind soul he was and clearly, not that she doubted what he said, was a legit music attorney.

It’s been years since I remembered that story and recently Google’d “Johanan Vigoda” just to see what I could find out about him.  Sadly the first thing I came across was an obituary from 2011, apparently he died after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer; although sad to see, there was some humor in his obituary since it mentioned that he was known for his “exotic diets” and eccentric behavior.

Johanan was responsible for negotiating The Beatles first record deal in the United States with Vee-Jay Records, and was Stevie Wonders lifelong attorney.  He apparently lived months at a time at the Continental Hyatt Hotel on Sunset Boulevard, a hotel made famous by the antics of Led Zeppelin in the 1970’s.  I was amazed to discover this much about him, and just adds to the “cool factor” of crossing paths with him unbeknownst to parents and myself on who he really was in the music world.


Gretsch Guitars – George Harrison Duo Jet Contest

I thought this was a cool thing to post since many people would be interested; well, at least I hope a few.  As many would agree, Gretsch guitar’s are probably one of the most well-known and respected instruments in the World.  Nearly every musician I know has always mentioned that owning one would be the sole “prized possesion” of their collection.  Whether you play Rockabilly, Punk, or Jazz, Gretsch guitars are the “holy-grail” of the hollow-body guitar World and the sound they create many would say is impossible to replicate.  Regardless of how well they sound they are also visually striking curves and colors, not to mention that they use top end materials and the attention to detail truly make a Gretsch guitars highly collectible. As result hey are also priced accordingly; often a base models selling for around $2,000 or more.

Cool artists like Chet Atkins, Brian Setzer (ex-Stray Cats), Jim Heath (Reverend Horton Heat), Eddie Cochran, and even Tim Armstrong  (Rancid) all play Gretsch guitars (and even have their own personal models, how cool!); it would be fair to say that many of them owe their sound and ability to play with ease thanks  the Gretsch instruments.  This month Gretsch has decided to pay dubious homage to Beatle great George Harrison and create a model in his memory, for a mere $20,000!   Doesn’t leave you much left to afford lessons, eh?  Perhaps the price is due to you getting one of George’s personal guitar picks with the guitar, hmmmm, still seems like a rip of a thrown in for $20,000.  Perhaps, say, it included one of his personal guitar cases it might be somewhat better, but a guitar pick?


Oh, and you also get an original 1987  7-inch pressing of his hit “I Got My Mind Set On You”, uh, I think I can get this at a used record store for about $1.00???????????????  C’mon Gretsch, you can do sooooo much better than that, no?

Perhaps the real reason is the amount of time and attention that was put into re-creating the model he actually played to exact specifications, and I guess it would be important to add that on 60 are being made.

Well, for most of us average blue collar, tight budgeted folks, the best we can hope to demo a Gretsch in our lifetime would be at Guitar Center under the watchful eye of management giving us about 10 seconds.    Luckily, the company has created an open contest to win one of these incredible Harrison creations.  Regardless whether you know how to play or not doesn’t matter, the thought of owning this righteous guitar more than makes up for my ability to play a note.

If you are interested in entering the contest click here, and hey, if you win you’ve got let us know!


the beatles are a rock band

Seeking to expand the scope of this blog (at the request of its creator), I present a review of the video game “The Beatles: Rock Band.”  For those unfamiliar, Rock Band is an extension of the Guitar Hero game, in that you try and play along with songs using a guitar, bass, drums and vocals.  There are varying degrees of difficulty for each song, both overall and with each individual component (for example, you can set the drums to “easy” on an overall “difficult” song, etc).

The Beatles version of Rock Band contains a wide variety of tracks to choose from, spanning their short but prolific career.  It has early stuff like “I Saw Her Standing There,” “Twist and Shout,” and “I Wanna Be Your Man.”  It has well-known songs like “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” “Yellow Submarine,” and “Ticket to Ride,” but also delves into the deeper album cuts like “I Me Mine,” “Within You Without You,” and “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).”  It’s a well-rounded selection of tunes of varying degrees of difficulty to play, from the relative ease of “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” to the very tough “I Am the Walrus.”  Of course some people will be disappointed that their own personal favorite Beatles song isn’t on here, but there’s no way they could include their whole catalog.  I’m sure some sort of expansion pack with more songs will eventually be made available, or certainly you will be able to download (for a fee) other songs.

A cool aspect of the game is the numerous computer-generated background videos that accompany each song.  Some are depictions of the Fab Four recording in a studio, some feature their appearance at Shea Stadium in 1965, and some are imaginary representations based on the atmosphere of the song; “Here Comes the Sun,” for example, shows the band playing in a flowery meadow in the sunshine, and for “I Am the Walrus,” we see the group in their trippy animal mascot costumes from the “Magical Mystery Tour” film.

I enjoyed playing this game, partly because of the song selection and partly because of seeing John, Paul, George and Ringo represented digitally, playing their tunes.  It definitely takes practice to get good at the instruments, which is why I enjoyed the vocals better than anything else, but that’s just me.  Essentially, Rock Band is karaoke on steroids…in a fun way.

The Beatles: Rock Band gets 4 out of 5 stars.

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