Transcript (unedited)

Hello, Welcome to Deep Tracks. It's another special interview episode. This time I am interviewing my parents, having been teens slash young adults at the time of Rock's birth. I thought it would be interesting to hear them reminisce about their memories of what things were like, what their thoughts and feelings were, uh, you know, all that stuff at the time of rock's birth.

Uh, what's especially fun is they had very different experiences and viewpoints with music from that time period. Uh, my mom loved rock music and my dad hated it. , as I've mentioned before, I have a rich swing band legacy on my dad's side. His father, my grandpa McCullough, uh, took piano lessons as a kid and was self-taught on the clarinet and saxophone.

And then he began playing with a band in the early 1920s, around age 16, and then continued through the depression, working at least three nights a week. And then in December of 1940, . He moved to Ventura, California, which is where I grew up, and he joined a band as soon as. . He was a student playing at least, uh, two nights a week, and he was actually the main element in creating the Musicians Union 9 81 in Ventura County, and held different offices in that organization.

Um, he began playing dances for the American Legion on Friday and Saturday nights, and then this was so successful the Legion was able to build up or to, was able to build a new building for these dances. Um, unfortunately, after about 10 to 15 years of late nights, my grandpa had a physical breakdown and was forced to quit for a couple of years.

But then he and his band auditioned for the 50 plus Club at the Poinsettia Pavilion in Ventura, uh, somewhere around the mid 1960s. And they initially agreed to try his band on, uh, on a six month trial basis. Six months turned into more than 25 years of great success with a crowded hall every Monday night.

Um, but then eventually, you know, he finally laid down his instruments, uh, cuz he felt he couldn't depend on his fingers doing what they, what he needed them to do. , um, nevertheless, swing music and Bing band. It's, it's always been a big part of my family's musical tradition. And you'll notice in the interview that by the time Rock rolled in, uh, my dad, as he put it, didn't have any use for it.

Um, you know, he was already enamored with the musical world of his father. As for my mom, uh, and her musical backstory actually learned something about. In doing this interview, , you may or may not remember, but in episode zero in which I'd interviewed myself, I had mentioned that I wasn't raised on rock music.

However, it didn't dawn on me until after this interview with my parents that I had grossly misspoken. You see, I had been raised on rock music. My mom often listened. To Elvis Presley, buddy Holly, Richie Valens, Roy Orson, the Beach Boys. And yet, when recording Episode Zero, I'd said that I hadn't really been exposed or gotten into rock until I was about 11 or 12.

And of course, in episode three on the origins of country music, you know, I brought up the country artist. I'd remembered my mom listening to because that was the genre of music I was focusing on. But even then, I, I knew in the back of my head that she also had these other artists that she enjoyed. But then after the interview with my parents, I was, I was talking to my kids about it, you know, and telling them how grandma had enjoyed Elvis Presley when she was a little teenybopper.

And both of my kids remembered what I'd said in episode zero. They like near simultaneously pointed out, I thought you said you weren't raised on rock music. So I, I realized that this revealed a blind spot in my thinking. I realized that the rock music I was thinking of while recording my episode zero had been stuffed more akin to heavy metal and alternative rock.

I had apparently delineated oldies rock as something else entirely, which as a music academician, that's a little embarrass. Anyway, this interview with my parents is a rich treasure trove of experience and perspective from people who saw a lot of this stuff happening that I have talked about and will talk about, and, and the fact that they have two different perspectives on the topic also makes it that much more fascinating.

I hope you enjoy listening to me interview two of my most favors people on the planet. And now here is the interview. All right. I am excited to welcome to the show the People Who Spawned Me, my parents Dick and Denise McCullough. Hello. Welcome . Hello, . . Um, I figured what we could do is start off and maybe you guys could just share briefly, um, a little bit about yourselves, where you're, where you grew up, and, um, , I don't know what you're up to these days, I guess.

Well, I grew up all over because we moved around a lot, so I can't say I'm from any place. I lived in California the longest of any place I've ever lived. And that's cuz your dad was, was worked on the oil rigs, right? Right, right. Yep. And Dad wanna share where you grew up? Well, I was, I was born and bred in California.

Lived there for. most of my life until we retired and then we came to Utah after that. Yep. Yeah. You guys, you guys left the, um, the chosen land for the land of cold and snow . Uh, that's okay. I forgive you. I forgive you. Um, so I, something's kind of cool and I kind of mentioned this in a couple of my episodes.

My, my parents, um, on my dad's side, I can have like, Uh, I grew up with big band music and a love for big band music and, uh, kind of a big band heritage. And on my mom's side, um, is kind of more cowboy. Type deal. Western. Yes. Yes. Very Western. Um, I even, I even mentioned, I can't remember which episode. I think it's episode three.

I, I mentioned Grandma Betcha Boots , if you remember that. ? Yeah. Um. Anyway, so I, I, I am getting close in, in the show where I'm gonna be talking about, uh, big band and some of those things. So, dad, I, I thought it'd be kind of cool to talk about Grandpa a little bit and his big band. Do you mind sharing some memories about, about your dad's, um, band that he had?

Well, he was never in a, a literal big band, like the 20 year, so musicians, but he always had his own dance band. between three and six, uh, musicians. He started off, uh, on the piano when he was 16 cuz he took lessons on the piano. But he was self-taught on the clarinet and learned the, the clarinet and the sax and baritone.

So he was a music musician. From 16 until almost 80 years old when he figured he wasn't sure his fingers would do what he wanted them to. And so he had to set his horns aside. , it was really hard for him cause he, he loved his music. Yeah. Yeah. And there's still, um, I know we still, you still have a lot of his old lead sheets, right?

Yes. Yeah. Yeah. Well, and also I, is it his saxophone that you, that you have? I have, uh, one of his or, uh, original altos. Yes. Yeah. And your brother Dave has his baritone. Oh yeah, that's right. That's right. Yeah. I'm, I've never really taken up with wind instruments. Will you guys remember me practicing saxophone a little bit at the house that one time?

I, I prefer to be able to breathe whenever I want to. That's why piano and drums are kind of my, my two favorites. . I like You're good at it, . Well, I like, uh, yeah, the whole thing about having to, like, think about when you breathe and, and trying to sneak in breath in between notes is, is too much for. So, do you remember, um, do you guys, what are some of your memories, since this is a podcast about the history of rock, I thought it'd be kind of cool to ask you some of your memories about when rock music first came on the scene.

Do you remember that time, what that was like? Um, just when the whole thing first kind of happened? Well, I remember before rock and roll. Actual Rock and roll was a movie, it was called Rock Around the Clock, and that was kind of like the, to give you a, a taste of what rock was like. And then after that, Elvis Presley came on the scene.

and everybody, if you were the young kids, you were, you know, drilling at his feet. If you were the older generation, you couldn't, you know, you couldn't watch him do gyrate on the stage. And so a lot of times on television, they wouldn't even show the bottom part of Elvis Presley . Nowadays it's no big deal, but back then it was a scandal.

The older generation. Yeah. But I really, I really liked, um, Elvis Presley and at that time there was two, two, um, stars, Elvis Presley and Pat Boone. And they were kind of a, you know, either you were on the Pat Boone side or you were on the Elvis Presley and I was on the Ellis Presley. And I really liked, I, I really liked Ellis Presley and I.

respected him because he wasn't too big of a star to sign up and defend his country. Yeah. Yeah. Well, and um, It's kinda, it is just really fascinating. I, I'm realizing that I guess we've never really had this conversation cuz as you're, as you're sharing all this, and it's funny cuz I'm, I'm like reading different books right now, like preparing for, you know, these episodes that I wanna do and, and reading about like exactly what you're talking about.

And it's just kind of funny. I'm like, oh my gosh, I have like, A primary source, right? Like I grew up with a primary source, . Why am I reading these books? I could be asking my parents . So I'm glad, I'm glad we're doing this interview. That's really cool. Um, how, how old were, so you guys were, how old were you in, in, uh, the mid fifties?

That, was that your, you were in high school, like what, late forties, early fifties? Well, dad, you were, yeah. But mom, you were in high school. Mid fifties maybe, right? Yeah. . I graduated in 59, so I went through the fifties. Okay. Okay. And I had no use for Elvis, myself, , . It took me years and years to finally accept music that we listened to today.

Yeah. Well, I mean, I, I think even now though, you're still, you're still big band at at heart, right? Yes. Oh, I am. I definitely am. Yeah, I remember, um, cuz I mean like, you know, all of us kids grew. Uh, listening to, you know, like Glen Miller and, and Tommy Dorsey and, um, Benny Goodman, all these artists that, um, were like most people just, I don't know.

Most kids my age didn't really, they never thought about, never heard of, never cared about. And I remember in the nineties there was that like spike, you know, with, with. Swing music and swing bands and big bands. And that really became, so, it was like, I was like, it was kind of cool because I felt like popular culture kind of came to us , you know, it kind of moved towards us for a moment, you know, cuz I, it was all stuff that I'd grown up with with you and, and it was like, all right, finally, like, I'm, I'm part of the cool kids now.

This is kind of nice.

um, dad, what I guess. were your impressions when you first kind of saw rock music, so it, it wasn't really, um, wasn't something you really enjoyed. Was that mostly cuz you had grown up on like a different kind of music or just aesthetically just never really appealed to you or all of the above? Really , but really basically, uh, there was always.

Big band music of some kind in the home. Yeah, I had a kid growing up, uh, starting from well before my birth and into the fifties. That's when the big band was really moving and they died out after that. So, uh, I was in, in high school. When the big bands were phasing out and the other stuff was coming in.

So yes, I was very engrossed in very enta in big band music and I still love it today. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Mom's, I think what made rock and roll just kind of burst on the scene like that was, that was about the time that TV really. , you know, completely over the, the whole United States. And so a lot of the, these, you know, um, artists were able to debut on television and get more exposure than what with the ba big band era.

They, you know, it's in the big cities and stuff like that, where they were, or you heard over the radio. Yeah. Yeah. That's true. I mean, I, I, you know, like I've watched some. Well, obviously you like read a lot about a lot of those kind of movies that they would make that were essentially just elongated music videos.

I mean, they were like showcasing just different artists, but then Right. Watched a few of them as well and that Yeah, that's actually a really good point. I hadn't really thought about that as well, that um, that really, like before that artists were, it was just, you had to see 'em live, you know, there wasn't like this way to really get him.

And then with television that's like kind of part of that transitional time where finally you get to see. Literally broadcast these artists out to a broader audience. Right. Um, yeah. Yeah. That's a really good point. Mom, do you remember, um, did you ever buy any records, like any rock and roll records or any records when you were, when this was happening?

Yeah, I bought, I bought Elvis Presley once, um, mostly. That was what I bought. . Yeah. . I, you know, if only you still had those records, they'd be worth . I know. Oh, I, it is funny, like we've come full circle with that as well. Recently Keenan bought me a, um, He actually bought me like a record player. I mean, it does, like, it also does CDs and cassette tapes.

Oh, yeah. And everything. But, but it's just kind of funny how vinyls are, you know, they're kind of like this, this, they've made a comeback, you know, it's like a cool thing to mm-hmm. . So I've gotten a bunch of vinyls. You wanted to talk about the Beatles too? Oh yeah, that's right. Oh my gosh. I totally, I forgot about that.

Um, yeah, did, what was it like when the Beatles first kind of popped on the scene? I wasn't impressed with them, um, because from one thing they were from, from England, but, um, I. Didn't ha I, when they compared themselves to Jesus Christ , they kinda lost me there. But in retrospect, they did have a lot of good music.

Um, I like the Beatles, like, it's kind of funny, like they, you know, aesthetically I enjoy a lot of their music, but they're, they're also one of those artists where, I, I can dive into like just the theory behind the music as well and just, it's super fascinating. The, the, a lot of things they did were really, um, very complex or groundbreaking or it was just mm-hmm.

they add like an interesting complexity that, that wasn't really there in a lot of rock music beforehand. That's, I'm glad they've lasted so long. Oh yeah. I, I think so. They just, they kind of have a one from the beginning. Yeah. I, I felt leave them in England.

Uh, any other artists you guys remember just kind of through, from that time period that was just kind of, uh, they seemed like a big deal or any artists that you thought would be big that never stuck around? Actually, did you think the Beatles would be around as big as they, they end up being No, I didn't, but I'm surprised cuz since I didn't listen to a lot of their music, I'm surprised to hear music and find out it's The Beatles.

Oh yeah. The their Ren the other, you know, bands or stuff have done renditions of their songs and so that's kind of. enlightened my mind about how, how, like you said, unique they were in, in their music. I mean, he had a good arranger and he can make, uh, any of the Beatles stuff sound really great. They've, they've done some great stuff with the Beatles music.

Well, that's kind of the funny thing about, um, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, that was actually kind of their plan was eventually they, like doing the Beatles was initially kinda like this temporary thing, and then they wanted to down the road be like a, a songwriting pair, you know, like, um, Goffin and King or.

Uh, Jerry Lieber and, and, um, oh my gosh, I'm having a total brain fart. Lieber and Stoler. Oh man. Uh, anyway, like, just kinda those famous songwriting pairs, you know, that, that, um, almost like a tin pane kind of thing, you know, where they would just write songs and other artists would perform them and. and then of course, obviously they didn't, they didn't go that direction, but, but it's kind of funny that they, um, they were definitely saw themselves like kind of more so as songwriters rather than, you know, like some people, like, they see themselves as rock stars.

They want to be out there performing on the road or just on stage. And, and they, they were really more interested in just kind of writing cool tunes and doing whatever with it. Um, it's interesting to know. Clear back. Frank Sinatra was an idol and where girls would, you know, he had huge, you know, entrees of girls that would swarm when he'd, when he'd sing.

Not, you know, not like Elvis Presi obviously, but they, you know, he had his own following now, his style when he first started. Yeah, his started with the big bands. They overlapped each other. Yeah. Big mans were working. He worked in with the big bands and then he kept on going when the big bands started to fade away a bit.

Yeah. He was able to kind of bridge that gap. Yeah. Yeah. It does seem like there's always those artists that are, um, or there were, I don't know if it's like that so much anymore, but, but there is this period where you have these. Kind of common occurrence or recurring sort of thing with these popular like male performers who have like these, you know, flocks of women Yeah.

Fawning over them. Right. Which with, actually, that's, a lot of people have written a lot of things about, um, all kinds of things about that, especially in gender studies. But like, I, you know, it's, it is kind of interesting. You know, you have El or sorry, you have, you know, Frank Sinatra and then Elvis and of course the Beatles.

They had like tons of women flying over them. Kitty boppers. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's kind of part of the, like, the whole image of it. Um, but yeah, it's funny, like you don't really have that anymore actually. It doesn't seem like people react as much as viscerally to music as they do as used to. Like, I, I watch old video clips of, well, just, of people watching like, you know, like Elvis or the Beatles performing and just people are just losing their minds, right?

They're just, oh yeah. You know, it's almost like a. Um, they're possessed or something, you know? And then, and now, you know, I mean, you watch Yeah, I've, I've gone to a lot of concerts and, um, it just doesn't, it doesn't seem like there's any, I I just, um, maybe I just haven't gone to big enough shows, but it seems like you don't have that same kind of thing where people are just.

It's like, almost like an out of body experience for them or something where they go, you know what I mean? Because it's just, you see these things, you see like women crying or you know, it's just like these , very emotional, visceral response and it doesn't seem like that's like that anymore. I kind of wonder why that is.

Well, just, I think it's because it's gotten to be such a common thing, you know, with every group and, um, mentally adjusted, Elvis Presley was essentially. That new, new, um, way of, you know, singing that, you know, it, so it was something new and that's why probably he had all this following like that, but now it's so common.

It's, they don't do that anymore. That much. Not that I've gone to that many concerts. Yeah. I, yeah, I mean, I think we are definitely, um, we're so exposed to so many things now. Yeah. I mean, I think. Like my kids, they have their Spotify playlists that are, I don't know, when I was, you know, like when I was in high school, I had like very, I was kind of very narrow in like the, the genres of music that I listened to and I just, I had like just a very.

Specific handful of artists that I liked and I wasn't really that open-minded. And then I see my, my, I see what Keenan and Reese have on their, um, on their Spotify playlists and, and it's like all kinds of genres, which is kind of cool. I mean, like, it's, they're exposed to musical genres that, like when I was their age, I had never heard of or just maybe wasn't as exposed to.

So, I mean, it's kind of a cool thing, but I, yeah, I don't think we'll ever see anything like that again. Like you saw. Like Elvis or the Beatles or just these artists for, or even led Zeppelin, like just different artists who were like these huge icons, you know, for a while that kind of seemed to dominate everything.

I don't know if we'll ever, we'll ever get that again. I feel like Nirvana is kind of the last, the last of that breed. Um, I mean, I guess there are big pop stars nowadays, but they're not, it's just not the same, I don't think. No, I don't think so either. Yeah, I don't know. Maybe. Maybe my podcast will just totally blow up and then I will be the next next.

Alright, then we can hope. Yeah, we hope people will be weeping as they listen.

former expression, garage bands. . Yeah. That's, Hey, that's, well that's what, that's what me and, and Jeremy. And Chris and Curtis and Yeah, that's what we had. . Uhhuh. Except we never got out of the garage. We , we, I think we did one show. We did. We did. Wedding reception and we did one song and then they closed the curtains on us after After one song.

Yeah. Yeah. Big debut. Yeah. . Yeah, that's right. They couldn't handle us. All right. Well, I love you guys. One more note on big bands. Yeah. You remember Spike Jones and the City Slickers ? Oh yeah. Yeah, I do. Yeah. You might put an expression in there about those idiots, . Uh, I remember listening to those records as a kid and they.

Cracked me up actually, they were, they were a band that didn't make it as far as big bands, so they went the other way. Yeah. , they, yeah. They were not, they were not really popular, but they were very entertaining. Yeah. They're hilarious. Actually, that might be kind of a fun episode, is to do an episode just on artists who kind of, oh, yeah.

They, they use humor or, or do spoofs, you know, like them and um, like weird al or just different artists like that. Right. Who just kind of do like, Comedy and music. Oh yeah. Are you thinking of the pianist? Um, yeah. Yeah. I literally just saw a video of him on Instagram the other day and like suddenly I'm having a, another brain far, I can't think of his name.

Yeah. Victor Borga. Yes. Yes. Victor Borga. Man, I cannot think of names tonight. Uh, this is what I get for, for doing this after having eaten a big meal and trying to try to digest . Yeah, you're gonna do a lot of editing too. . Yeah. a lot. Yeah. Thank you so much for coming on Deep tracks with me today and thank you for.

Just being, um, my two, just always supporting me and, um, instill in me a love of music. I don't think I would, um, for, I, I should actually, I'm in my autobiographical moments. In my episodes, I will probably at various times share stories about piano lessons and. Not being able to do anything else other, you know, piano lessons first play later.

Right. just, maybe I'll even share the time I broke the piano when I got really mad.

Or the time your teacher had fainted on you. Yeah, yeah. When , when Mrs. Koff passed out in the middle of my lesson. Oh my goodness. Yeah. Lots of good stories there. But yeah, thank you for, for just being my, um, Instill in me a love of music and then being my two of my musical and personal heroes. I love you guys.

Love you too. Well, thank you for developing your music. into a podcast for one thing and all the other things you've done with it. , we're very flattered that you've done such a great thing in your life with your music. Yeah. Thanks dad. Yeah. Even though mom wanted me to be a dentist, I am a doctor. Doctor.

That's right. Yeah. You'll be a doctor of music. There we go. Yeah, that's right, . Then when I could say, when somebody says, is there a doctor in the house? And I'll be like, not that kind of Doctor

All right. That was my interview with my parents. Hope you enjoyed it. Next episode, we will resume the timeline and we will be talking about. Um, some of the artists I mentioned at the end of last episode, right? So we'll be talking about Elmore James Bo Didley, muddy Waters, how Wolf. We'll be talking about Aristocrat records and chess records, and, uh, it's gonna be a lot of fun.

It's some of my favorite artists, some of my favorite music. And, um, I'm super excited about it. Until next time, keep it deep.

Show Notes

  • My mom made passing reference to the controversy surrounding a comment John Lennon had made, comparing the popularity of the Beatles to Jesus Christ.  Many people at the time misunderstood Lennon's remarks and this article in Rolling Stone does a great job of telling the whole story.