Posts Tagged ‘The Who’
Pinball machines as we know them are descendants of 19th century bagattelle tables. Pinball emerged when, in 1871, British inventor Montegue Redgrave invented and patented “Improvements in Bagatelles”: he made the game smaller, inclined the playfield, replaced the large bagatelle balls with marbles, and most notably, took advantage of the recent (1857) development of steel springs to add a coiled spring-rigged plunger to launch the balls.
The first machines, table-top units, were not coin-operated; players rented the balls. Coin slots and legs were added in the early 30s; power and a “tilt” mechanism, in the mid 30s– the the games spread in mass. The bumper was born in 1937, but the flipper didn’t appear until 1947. In the 50s, lighted scoring and two-player games appeared. And in the 60s, drop targets and digital scoring debuted. The 70s– the pinnacle of pinball penetration– saw the introduction of the first solid-state, or electronic pinball machine. By the 80s, digital video arcade games had begun to threaten pinball’s place. Pinball added stereo sound; and the 90s, electronic flippers and ceramic balls. But by the turn of the millennium, pinball machines had fallen prey to arcade video games; indeed, in 2006, “digital video pinball machines” appeared, replicating the look and feel of traditional machines, and allowing gamers to play any of a dozen retro games…
The “Visible Pinball Machine” (source)
Readers can stroll– and pull and flip and bump and and jostle– down memory lane this weekend, at the 6th Annual Pacific Pinball Exposition at the Marin County Fair Ground, a benefit for the Pacific Pinball Museum. Those who can’t make it can wander through the Internet Pinball Database.
As we collect our rolls of quarters (and further to yesterday’s missive), we might recall that it was on this date in 1967 that The Who “exploded” onto the American music scene with an appearance on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. Three months earlier, the later-to-be-Pinball-Wizards had appeared at Monterrey Pop, where their set-closer– Pete Townsend’s guitar bashing and an flash charge under Keith Moon’s drum set, had inspired Jimi Hendrix (the act that followed them) to burn his guitar. The Who brought this same act to TV, closing their performance of “My Generation” with Townsend’s ritual destruction of his axe and an explosive charge that was apparently mis-rigged– so strong that it singed Townshend’s hair, left shrapnel in Moon’s arm, and momentarily knocked The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour off the air.
The action, of course, is toward the end, beginning at about 7:25…
The remnants of Townsend’s Vox Cheetah, destroyed that night, as auctioned by Christies in 2010 (source)
[TotH to Tyler Hellard, aka Pop Loser]
As we prepare to explore the teenage wasteland, we might spare a thought for Sophia Cecelia Kalos (who later became much better known by her stage name, Maria Callas); she died on this date in 1977. The pre-eminent bel canto soprano of the Twentieth Century, Callas was known by her legion of fans as “La Divina,” (“The Goddess”), a superlatively-specific appropriation of the approbation reserved by opera aficionados for the very finest female singers. The term “diva” (while it dates back to the late Nineteenth Century as a descriptor of a “fine lady”), emerged among Callas’ following as a shorthand for “divina”– making her the first singer who was a diva.
50 years ago this Spring, Eddie Cochran died in a auto accident while on tour in England; he was 21. Cochran had burst onto the scene four years earlier in a Tom Ewell musical comedy, The Girl Can’t Help It, with “Twenty Flight Rock.”
Cochran went on to chart with hits like “Summertime Blues,” “C’mon Everybody,” “Teenage Heaven,” and “Nervous Breakdown.” He was one of the first rock & roll artists to write his own songs and overdub tracks, and he’s credited with being one of the first to use an unwound third string, in order to ‘bend’ notes up a whole tone – an innovation (imparted to UK guitarist Joe Brown, who secured much session work as a result) which has since become an essential part of the standard rock guitar vocabulary.
His influence was vast: he was covered– and imitated– by artists including The Who, The Rolling Stones, The Clash, and The Beach Boys, and as various as Buck Owens and The Sex Pistols. But perhaps most historically: it was because Paul McCartney knew the chord and words to “Twenty Flight Rock” that he became a member of The Beatles; John Lennon was so impressed that he invited Paul to play with his band, The Quarrymen.
ToTH to the good folks at The Selvedge Yard, where readers can find more pix of Eddie.
As we paise famous men, we might recall that it was on this date in 1981 that Bob Marley, who had become the very avatar of Reggae, died of cancer in a Miami hospital; he was 36.