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Johnny Rivers: When Everything Went a Go-Go

Mitchell Cohen, Music Aficionado, November 2019

IT WAS EARLY 1964, a couple of months after JFK was killed, and everyone just wanted the heavy clouds of mourning to lift. A new year, a fresh start, and the music that was pulsating was, in a lot of ways, a throwback. At its core, it was reminiscent of the pared-down instrumentation of outfits like Buddy Holly's Crickets, Johnny Cash's Tennessee Three, Johnny Burnette's Rock 'n Roll Trio, just guitar, drums and bass, and the repertoire was pulled from familiar sources: Chuck Berry primarily, but also things like 'Twist and Shout', 'Lawdy Miss Clawdy', 'Walkin' the Dog.' It was so very simple and infectious; it sounded like a party was going on; there was whooping, and singing along, and at the center of this whole thing was an eager-to-please kid from New York City by way of Baton Rouge named Johnny Rivers. He was playing live, night after night, at a club on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles called the Whisky a Go Go.

Total word count of piece: 2717


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