Op 24 september kon ik wegens het wereldkampioenschap wielrennen geen aandacht besteden aan de twintigste verjaardag van het overlijden van de Amerikaanse singer-songwriter Tim Rose. Maar zie, vandaag krijg ik een herkansing, want vandaag is het precies 55 jaar geleden dat Pink Floyd optrad in het Saville Theatre van Brian Epstein en met zijn alcoholdia’s een revolutie veroorzaakte in het popwereldje. Maar in het voorprogramma stonden toen Keith West, die op dat moment een enorme hit had met “Excerpt from a teenage opera” (beter gekend als “Grocer Jack”), en onze vriend Tim Rose.
Tim Rose (die overigens een dag na zijn 62ste verjaardag is overleden) is vooral bekend voor twee songs, waarvoor hij bij leven en welzijn steeds het copyright heeft geclaimd, maar die zeker niet van hem zijn. Het gaat over “Hey Joe” en “Morning dew”. Dit gezegd zijnde waren zijn uitvoeringen van deze nummers wel van doorslaggevende invloed op de latere succesversies ervan. Maar laten we beginnen bij het begin…
Rose was born in Washington, D.C., and raised in Arlington, Virginia, where he was to meet Scott McKenzie, who lived nearby. Rose learned to play the banjo and guitar, and won the top music award in high school. Rose graduated from Gonzaga College Prep School, a noted Jesuit institution in DC, class of 1958. From there he joined the United States Air Force (in the Strategic Air Command), in the pre-Vietnam era, and was stationed in Kansas. He later worked as a merchant seaman on the S.S. Atlantic and in a bank, before becoming involved in the music industry.
His first band was The Singing Strings, which included his friend McKenzie, who later joined with John Phillips (eventually of The Mamas & the Papas) in a local group called The Abstracts, later The Smoothies and eventually The Journeymen.
In 1962 Rose met singer Cass Elliot (also eventually of The Mamas & the Papas) at a party in Georgetown and formed a folk trio with her and singer John Brown called The Triumvirate. Later, after Brown was replaced by James (Jim) Hendricks, they changed the name to The Big 3. They soon landed a job at The Bitter End, a folk club in New York’s Greenwich Village.
Their success grew, with appearances on national television programs, and they recorded two albums: The Big 3 (1963) and The Big 3 Live at the Recording Studio (1964). Songs included “Grandfather’s Clock”, and an anti-war dirge written by Fred Hellerman and Fran Minkoff, “Come Away Melinda”, a re-recorded version of which was one of Rose’s most successful solo singles several years later. Rose and Elliot had musical differences – both were inclined to want things done their way – and the band fell apart after Elliot and Hendricks secretly married.
After The Big 3, Rose went solo, and by 1966, his prospects had improved. In November of that year, he played two gigs at the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco; headlining were the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. CBS Records signed Rose to a multi-album record deal; the first album, Tim Rose, came out in 1967. It featured a new version of “Come Away Melinda” and “Long Time Man” (a version of the traditional “It Makes a Long Time Man Feel Bad”, which was also previously recorded with The Big 3) as well as his versions of two songs that would become standards: Billy Roberts’ “Hey Joe” and Bonnie Dobson’s “Morning Dew”. Both were released as singles, and would be further covered by many artists.
In 1966, he was getting a lot of airplay with his single of “Hey Joe”. It was copyrighted in 1962 by singer Billy Roberts, but Rose claimed he heard it sung as a child in Florida, and as of 2009, Rose’s official website still claims the song is “traditional”. As of 2009 no documentary evidence from US archives or elsewhere has been provided to support the claim that the song is “traditional” (though country singer Carl Smith did have a hit in 1953 with a song of the same title written by Boudleaux Bryant). Prior to Rose’s recording, The Leaves, The Surfaris, Love and The Byrds had all recorded fast-paced versions of the song. Rose’s version (crediting himself as author), unlike the others, was a slow, angry ballad, which received US radio airplay and became a regional hit in the San Francisco area in 1966, as well as upstate New York cities like Buffalo and Albany. Jimi Hendrix had seen Rose performing at Cafe Wha? in New York City, and released a similarly slow version in 1966 which became a huge hit, first in the UK, then worldwide. It was Linda Keith, Keith Richards’ girlfriend at the time that played Rose’s recording of “Hey Joe” to Chas Chandler (Hendrix’s manager and former bass player for The Animals). Rumour has it that Jimi Hendrix was present during his appearance at The Saville Theatre (a week later he took the stage himself), but his own version was already released December 16, 1966. It might be, however, that there he heard Tim Rose for the first time in a live appearance.
“Morning Dew” was also to go on to become a rock standard. Rose heard Fred Neil singing a version of the song penned by Canadian folk singer Bonnie Dobson, arranged it with a harder, rock feel and added his name to the songwriting credit, although Dobson consistently questioned his right to a credit.
Another rumour was that in 1968, while his song “Roanoke” was getting some airplay in the UK, Rose was considered as a replacement for Brian Jones in The Rolling Stones.
Another CBS album, Through Rose Colored Glasses, followed in 1969. It met with critical disappointment and did not sell well. Love: A Kind of Hate Story was recorded at Island Studios in London and released in 1970. In addition to his musical career, by now Rose had moved to London and would spend much of his life there. Other albums followed in the decade: Another, different album titled Tim Rose (1972) and The Musician (1975).
By the mid 1970s, his career had stalled. In an attempted comeback Los Angeles music publisher/songwriter Richard D.Kaye, acting as Tim’s manager in 1976, arranged studio time for Tim to record the album Unfinished Song featuring seven new Rose compositions and the title track “Unfinished Song” written by Kaye. He recorded The Gambler in 1977, with a group that included guitarist Andy Summers (later of The Police fame), only to find that the record company refused to release it. He returned to New York for a number of years, living as a construction laborer until an opportunity arose to sing jingles for TV commercials in early 1980. He also battled with alcoholism.
In 1986, Nick Cave included “Long Time Man”, a version very close to Rose’s, on the album Your Funeral, My Trial. Cave went on to assist Rose in recovering his career, and encouraged him to play live shows again.
In 1991, The Gambler was finally released. In 1996, encouraged by Cave and by Dutch film makers Suzan IJzermans and Jacques Laureys, he returned to Europe. Rose performed at the Guildford, and Glastonbury Festivals. He went on to perform at the Royal Albert Hall opening for Cave. A new album, Haunted, was released with recordings from these performances as well new studio material produced by Cave. He also appeared on the BBC Television show Later with Jools Holland, and performed with Robert Plant’s folk-rock band, Priory of Brion.
In 2001, Jacques Laureys’ biopic about Rose, Where Was I?, was premiered at the Rotterdam Film Festival. His final solo album, American Son, was released in February 2002.
Not Goin’ Anywhere by Norwegian band Headwaiter, featuring four songs with lyrics by Rose and a duet with the lead singer Per Jorgenson, was released in Norway in September 2002. A few days later, however, Tim Rose died at Middlesex Hospital, London of a heart attack during a second operation for a lower bowel problem. In November 2011 he was the subject of BBC programme Heir Hunters, where investigators look for descendants of deceased people who did not leave a will. [Wikipedia]