Turns Down the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival...
New York music attorney Miles Laurie represented many successful people in the
entertainment industry, including artists such as Ray Charles and Barry Manilow.
Before Raven signed a recording contract with Columbia Records in 1969, Laurie set up a
special meeting with Michael
Lang, one of the co-founders of the 1969 Woodstock Music
Lang wanted to produce Raven and offered the band a spot on his upcoming music festival but
only if they first signed a production contract with him.
Raven quickly turned Lang's offer down. The band felt they had a very good
Raven had played at the "Woodstock Sound Festival" in 1968 in Woodstock,
New York. Raven was one of the only electric bands on the bill.
Roots of the 1969 Woodstock Festival: The Backstory to "Woodstock"
- Weston and
Prior to the famous
1969 Woodstock Music Festival, annual events
(sometimes called "folk festivals", "soundouts" and/or
"sound festivals") were held strictly for acoustic folk singers
and groups. Many of the
Town of Woodstock's old beatnik type folk music lovers were still reeling from
"folk-hero" Bob Dylanís
sudden departure from that genre back in 1965 when he had suddenly "gone
The organizers of
1968 "Woodstock Sound Festival" made Raven wait until the very last minute
of the festival before they were allowed to perform. Once Raven hit the stage, they were booed and disrespected by the
strictly folk-music oriented audience.
Raven members felt it was not worth signing a production contract with Lang just to be a part of
his upcoming í69 music festival.
Michael Lang said
his festival was going to be different. His was special. History certainly
has proven just how "special" the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival truly
turned out to be. It celebrated its' 40th. year anniversary in 2009.
Marty Angelo writes more about this
experience in his book,
Life Matters: A New Beginning.
It was at
Ungano's Nightclub in New York City in 1968 where the notorious rock
legend, "the late Janis Joplin" made her
famous attempt to secretly tape record Raven, prior to the group's
signing of a major recording contract. Marty Angelo writes more about this
experience in his book,
Life Matters: A New Beginning.
"the late Richard Kermode"
liked Raven so much that after she split up with her first band, Big
Brother and the Holding Company she tried to hire Jim Calire, the group's
pianist, for her new band, Kozmic Blues Band. Calire
turned down her offer, however Joplin was later convinced to hire
"the late Richard Kermode" (1947-1996), one of Western New York's well known
and highly respected jazz organists. Kermode went on to become very successful
touring and recording with Janis Joplin, Ned Doheny, Jorge Santana's Malo,
and Carlos Santana's Santana. Richard Kermode died of cancer at the age of 49 on Jan. 16, 1996 in Denver, Colorado.
The above very short YouTube video shows Richard Kermode testing a Fender
traveled extensively throughout the United States, prior to signing a
major recording contract. They appeared at various renowned underground concert
clubs such as: New York's Fillmore East, Boston's The Boston Tea Party, Chicago's
Russo's Kinetic Playground, Chicago's Aragon Ballroom,
Detroit's Grande Ballroom, Cleveland's La Cave,
Toronto's Rockpile Club,
Detroit's East Town Theatre, Monticello's Revolution, Philadelphia's Electric Factory,
and many others.
on the set of Cleveland's popular "Upbeat" television show. 1969
also appeared nationwide at numerous other popular nightclubs, colleges, concert halls,
and on the prominent television shows, Cleveland's Upbeat
and Hershey Pennsylvania's The Show.
Raven performed at
Buffalo, New York's Kleinhans
Music Hall in 1970 which was recorded live but never publicly released.
Zeppelin and Jethro Tull
became so popular amongst established musicians that even English bands coming to the
United States asked for Raven to open their shows. Led
Zeppelin and Jethro Tull were two such groups.
Zeppelin's lead guitar player, Jimmy Page stated after a gig they did
together in Boston, "Raven's
John Weitz is one of the best guitar players in the world."
finally signed a five-year recording contract with Columbia Records in
turning down offers from "the late George Harrison" and Apple Records,
Electric Ladyland Productions, owned by "the late Jimi Hendrix" and Eddie
Kramer, T-Neck Records, owned by the popular R&B band, the Isley
Brothers and from Michael Lang, co-founder of the 1969 Woodstock Music
Ernie Corallo, Sandy Konikoff, and "the late Stan 'the man'
Szelest" - 1969
also turned down an offer from producer Lewis Merenstein, famous for his work with Van Morrison.
Merenstein eventually hired
Raven members, pianist "the late Stan Szelest," guitarist
Ernie Corallo, and percussionist Sandy Konikoff for his production of Garland Jeffery's
album, Grinders Switch.
Records' distinguished producer, John Hill was influential in signing Raven
to a recording contract. Hill took a special interest in the band and
produced their first and only album for Columbia. Raven did record
extra songs during their production sessions with Hill. However, those songs
were never released because the group disbanded before a second album could
Blacker, a popular booking agent working for Associated Booking Corporation and attorney Miles Lourie, also helped solidify
Raven's deal with
Columbia Records. "The late Bill Graham" (Fillmore East) and Steve Paul
(The Scene) played a special role by believing in and booking
live appearances of Raven
before they even had a major recording contract.
London, England - 1969 - (Weitz, Calire, Calandra, Galla and Mallaber)
Raven toured England in 1969 and performed at Lyceum
Ballroom, Marquee Club, Roundhouse, Bath Pavilion,
various concert halls.
split up in late 1970 due to personal reasons, walking away from five-year contracts
with manager Marty Angelo, Associated Booking Corporation and Columbia Records.
"the late Tony
did make one last-ditch attempt to keep Raven together. He was not
willing to accept the fact that such an outstanding group of musicians were
disbanding because they could no longer personally get along. Thinking
that making more money might solve Raven's problem, Angelo negotiated a
production agreement with
"the late Tony Stratton-Smith". Smith was the creator and chairman of
the board of Charisma
Records, one of the most influential independent record labels in
England. Unfortunately it was too late, Raven members turned down Smith's offer to
- (l to r) - Jimmy Calire, "the late Tommy Calandra," "the
late John Weitz,"
Gary Mallaber and Tony Galla
held reunion concerts in Buffalo, New York at the Tralfamadore Cafe on November
29, 1996. Both
concerts were digitally recorded. Special thanks to Sue Mahoney for
securing the tapes.
Calandra (1941-1998) passed away suddenly in
1998. The remaining members of Raven do not plan any additional public
appearances together. "I
doubt if we will ever play together again as Raven," Tony Galla said. "Tommy
was the sound of Raven and without him it will never be the same."
late John Charles Weitz" (1949 -2012)
late John C. Weitz"
John Charles Weitz, 63, died Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at home in Belmont, CA. He was born on May 1, 1949 in Buffalo, NY to the late John Walter Weitz and the late Ruth (Hartman) Weitz.
In his final days he was lovingly cared for by his cherished wife of 44 years, Jane (Davenport) Weitz and his daughters, Lynn (Robert) McCurdy and Sarah (Daniel) Hapgood.
John is survived and fondly remembered by his 5 grandchildren, Eli Scott Wallach, Nigel Jon Wallach, Moura Elizabeth McCurdy, Alison Mae McCurdy, and Emily Jean McCurdy.
He is predeceased in death by his sister, Marilyn (John) Boyle and is survived by his brothers, Thomas ďScottĒ Weitz and Paul (Sharon) Weitz and six nephews.
John grew up in Kenmore, NY and graduated from Kenmore West High School. He has lived in California for the last 39 years where he found his passion for the outdoors. He was an avid hiker, backpacker, cyclist, photographer, marksman and Corvette enthusiast He worked as an audio engineer for Digidesign and holds several patents in his name.
John was a gifted musician and began playing the guitar at age seven. He was a 1999 Inductee in the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame. Perhaps best known for his creative style and innovative sounds John played clubs around Buffalo through the 60ís.
He played lead guitar with the band, Raven. He continued his musical career in Northern California through the 1970ís. Raven reunited for several performances in the 90ís. John played his last reunion gig with Raven in June 2011.
Memorial to John Weitz
by former manager Marty Angelo - 08/10/2012
My heartfelt condolences go out today to the family and friends of John Weitz. He was a great man who was loved by many peopleÖ and not just for his musical ability. He had a way of making one feel uncomfortable when first meeting him but that quickly changed after understanding that was just Johnís way of getting you to see his slant on life knowing that once you experienced his special sense of humor you would be his friend for life.
I will always cherish the times we had working together right after John, Tony and Jimmy brought in Gary Mallaber and Tommy Calandra to restructure the Rising Sons then later known as Raven. After becoming Ravenís manager, I learned quickly John Weitz would be a critical and an extremely integral part of Raven. Though every member of Raven was highly talented, most people I dealt with in the business end always seemed to focus on Johnís great ability to play lead guitar.
When I first played the infamous live tape recording of Raven to guitarist Jimi Hendrix at Steve Paulís Scene back in the late 60s it was Johnís guitar solos that stood out to Hendrix. He loved the sound of Raven but he kept asking me, ďWho is the guitar player? This guy is good.Ē We rewound the tape back a couple of times so Hendrix could listen very closely to Johnís guitar rides. Hendrix would later remark, Raven was one of the best blues/jazz bands he ever heard. I know he was thinking of John when he made that statement.
In no time Raven became legendary and after a gig opening a show for Britainís Led Zeppelin in Boston lead guitar player Jimmy Page remarked to the clubís promoter that he felt John Weitz was one of the greatest guitar players in the world.
What talent! What character! What charm! John Weitz will truly be missed. After Raven split up and everyone was scurrying around trying to find their own way within the music business John had the sense to not just rely on a business that was notorious for only giving a break to a select few. No one was safe putting their entire life in a business where only some can make a living supporting a family.
John truly loved his family and proved it so many times. I always craved to have what John and Jane shared. They had something very special that few couples I met ever had. I remember one time when Raven was on the road and were hitting tough times and experiencing what most bands do with trying to keep five people on one page. John missed his family and knew stability was just a car ride home. He made his way back to Buffalo knowing his family would be there to welcome him with open arms and he could put his life in perspective.
I am thankful for the times we shared together. I only wish we could have stayed closer over the years since Raven split. When we did talk, he always lifted me up. He was a great guy and will always hold a special place in my heart.
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