I Pick a Moondog, where you can radiate anything you want…
And so it was, back in 1954 that a disc jockey on a radio station in Cleveland, Ohio dubbed the music that had begun to affect unsuspecting teenagers with a chronic tapping of the feet and gyration of the hips –“ Rock n’ Roll”. No one is really sure exactly when he began using the term but it is pretty much acknowledged as fact that Alan Freed was the man who coined the phrase. And the name of the show that he broadcast was “The Moondog show”.
The Moondog moniker attained historical notoriety throughout the ensuing decades. Within a few years across the Atlantic a young man in Liverpool named Johnny Lennon had put together a band that he dubbed “Johnny and the Moondogs”. I have looked high and low to find some reference as to how he arrived at the name but it remains a Beatle mystery.
Meanwhile back in New York City, a man of great physical stature appeared as a regular on the street outside of the CBS building at 53rd Street and Sixth Avenue, then known as “Black Rock”. He was dressed in full Viking regalia: Metal helmet with horns, a long dark tattered cape, wrapped leggings and a six foot long staff to which he held steadfastly. He was quite a site, Moondog was. Within a few years an album of his music was released and it actually achieved some degree of critical praise in the music publications. Unfortunately for Moondog the album never took off and he has since passed on. His presence on that street corner for so many years has become legendary for those who remember Moondog.
A few years ago, while browsing the bargain bin at one of the last surviving record stores, I came across the CD of an album that had been released quite a few years earlier by The Band, that was not one of their big sellers. It was an entire album of covers of songs from the fifties, some well known like “The Great Pretender” but most of the rest were pretty obscure. This music was an epiphany for me. A collection of music dating back forty years or more, yet The Bands arrangements made them sound as contemporary as if they were written yesterday.
We began playing music in the sixties after the Beatles hit our little transistor radios. But our roots go deeper, New York Rock n‘ Roll; Dion, Jackie Wilson, The Drifters and on and on. We decided that our music should appeal to a wide audience and at the same time draw from our extensive reserves of classic songs. The thought of bringing this to new audiences as well as Rock & Roll Roots music aficionados appealed to us, a lot. It was time to get out of the garage and into the clubs and start playing again.
And so it was that we became Moondog. We play Rock & Roll and we have a great time doing it. Come to see us at our next gig and bring your dancin’ shoes. We guarantee you’ll have a great time. You may even want to be a Moondog too.
Roy (Moondog) Temkin