Wednesday, February 13, 2008

music hath charms

charlie appel
Charlie Apple from the Applecorp

Since we're on the subject of oldies, here's an interesting take on the 'Burgh's soul heritage from the Mon Valley's Tube City Almanac blog:

"Local oldies disc jockey and rector the Rev. Charlie Apple, former pastor of Good Samaritan Episcopal Church in Liberty Borough, told me years ago that Pittsburgh had comparatively fewer riots after King's assassination than other Northern cities of its size.

Apple contends that's due in part to the fact that white and black Pittsburghers shared so much of their music.

Unlike other cities, where there were exclusively "black" radio stations and "white" radio stations, in Pittsburgh, suburban DJs like Porky Chedwick, Bob Livorio, Zeke Jackson and McKeesport's Terry Lee were spinning soul and R&B long before the music crossed into the mainstream. Whites and blacks also mingled at record hops and nightclubs; don't forget that one of the most popular nightspots of the 1960s was Walt Harper's Attic."

Hmmm...funny, but I seem to recall the National Guard with their M-14s patrolling the Hill District after Martin Luther King's assassination in 1968. A lot of them, too. There were so many soldiers that they had to bivouac at Pitt Stadium in tents. But I suppose compared to Detroit our little riot was just a romp in the park.

The right reverend Charlie Apple is correct about the reaction being a little less violent than other towns, but the rage ran just as deep. It would be nice if he was right about blacks and whites mingling together in 'Burgh society, but music is about all the races shared back then. And I don't think it's gotten any chummier since. We don't even share sounds any more.

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