In Memory of Peter Sarstedt and the Beautiful People of the 1960s

1969 . . .  the cusp of a new Golden Age . . .  the era of ‘free love’, the Flower children, and Where Do You Go To My Lovely.

By RAY CONNOLLY

Abridged by Lasha Darkmoon
(Includes one of the most unforgettable hit songs of the 1960s)

PETER SARSTEDT, defined by one classic song released in 1969; he died a few weeks ago at the age of 75.

Many popular songs catch the feeling of the time. That’s why they become popular. But few songs are able to freeze that moment to the extent that nearly half a century after we first heard it we can sing along to the lyrics.

That was what Peter Sarstedt, who died on 8 January, aged 75, achieved with his No 1 smash Where Do You Go To (My Lovely). And what a song! Sounding unlike anything else that was around in 1969, it topped the charts all over Europe and in Australia, and was a hit even in Japan.

Just to hear that opening French-sounding accordion, at the very height of the Sixties, should have condemned it to everlasting obscurity. But the very opposite happened. It touched an international nerve. Because Where Do You Go To (My Lovely) was more than a song. It was a story, and a mystery. Who was this beautiful woman that Sarstedt was singing about? Was she real?

Was she based on someone we all felt we knew, a film star such as Sophia Loren, perhaps, or Nina Van Pallandt from the singing duo Nina and Frederik? She wasn’t. Sarstedt never met either.

Or was she an ex-lover who had dumped him, and was the song a litany of clues about her? Surely it couldn’t simply be a total piece of musical fiction?

Sarstedt had come up with the idea busking in Copenhagen in 1966. And, while living in a student hostel, in just a few minutes he jotted the lyrics down to create a string of images of a beautiful fantasy girl. Except that she wasn’t a complete fantasy. His girlfriend at the time (and later his first wife) was a very beautiful, blonde Danish student called Anita Atke. And, with her Danish accent, she may well have sounded a little bit to him like Marlene Dietrich.

ANITA ATKE (pictured), the beautiful Danish blonde who inspired Peter Sarstedt to write his iconic 1969 classic song Where Do You Go To My Lovely. She became his first wife. 

Anita looked the sort of girl to give any writer inspiration — although the legacy of Sarstedt’s triumph was far from the “passport to riches and stardom” most would imagine.

What is striking about the song is the stream of references to glamorous people and locations which infuse it with such a flavour of adventure and sophistication.

LD: It is indeed the evocative name-dropping that give Sarsted’s song its aura of magic—a magic inseparable from money, exotic locations, and the glittering high life of the Beautiful People. In the words of Daily Mail columnist Richard Littlejohn, this song “has the ability of all great music to transport you back to a specific time and place.”

Whether Anita danced like French ballet dancer Zizi Jeanmaire—as the girl in the song does—is unlikely, but she probably did look pretty good on the dance floor.

What is even more unlikely is that her clothes were made by Parisian designer Pierre Balmain. But Sarstedt had met Anita in Paris when he’d been playing on the streets there, so the connection with Paris and her would have been firmly in his head.

Sticking with his image of Paris as the city of romance it’s unlikely, but not impossible, that Anita would have lived “in a fancy apartment on the Boulevard Saint-Michel”—for the Sorbonne, where the girl in the song got her “qualifications”, is nearby on Paris’s Left Bank. Was Anita doing a summer course there when they met, we might wonder.

And did she have Rolling Stones albums? Lots of other girl students in Paris would have had them, even if she hadn’t — the Stones always being somehow more chic to the French than the homelier Beatles. It was an inspired line, giving the girl a free-living, sexy allure that The Beatles never suggested.

If Danish Anita was the initial spark, by the time the song was finished, she had evolved into Marie-Claire, named after the French women’s magazine which then, as now, always had a beautiful girl on the cover.

No longer a student, she had become a rich jet-setter, with a career built on her beauty. A habituee of the gossip columns with perhaps a capricious nature, she steals a painting from Picasso, whom she probably knows from holidaying in Juan-les-Pins on the Riviera where the artist lived.

That, of course, would be where she wore her “carefully designed topless swimsuit”, showing once again what a free-spirit she was. Not every girl had the bravery to go without a bra on the beach in the Sixties.

A “friend of a friend” of French singing star Sacha Distel (who, incidentally, told Sarstedt he was thrilled to be mentioned in the song), she is also given a racehorse for Christmas by the super-rich Aga Khan—”for a laugh”.

To say this girl is well-connected would be something of an understatement. But there are always questions about her.

“Where do you go to my lovely, when you’re alone in your bed,” sang Sarstedt between the verses, relentlessly building the mystery about her. “Tell me the thoughts that surround you, I want to look inside your head.”

Who exactly is this girl, we now want to know. The reveal comes at the end of the song. The singer remembers her from before her fame and wealth when they were both “children begging in rags” on the back streets of Naples, both “touched with a burning ambition”, but scarred for life by their childhood poverty.

She spends her rich life trying to forget it. But he knows that “alone in her bed” she can’t, because he “can look inside” her head.

As a song it might have been mocked and parodied by some, but for me, Where Do You Go To (My Lovely) was a brilliant piece of songwriting by Sarstedt. To the writer, it wasn’t “special”. But its portrayal of a model who drinks Napoleon brandy but never gets her lips wet could have been based on any of a number of dazzling beauties then, the models who represented a new breed of international celebrity.

Peter Sarstedt—who was born in India and came to Britain with his family when he was 13—continued to perform his best-known song for decades, and referred to it as his pension plan. Indeed, there were reports of Sarstedt earning £60,000-a-year royalties from it.

However, the song did not enable him to live like a millionaire. As he explained, his then record company, EMI Music, owned the rights—while copyright is now with Sony/ATV Music Publishing.

He told one interviewer: “They decide whether it’s used or not. Actually they’re very jealous of it. It’s like their family silver which they keep on a shelf and will not let out—certainly not for advertising—and probably won’t until I’m dead, when the floodgates will open.”

Sarstedt was not part of the jet-set like Marie-Claire. He never became super-rich as a result of his song’s success, awarded the title of the Best Song of 1969. Nor did he ever write another song that gripped the public imagination.

“Marie-Claire was meant to be a generic European girl,” Sarsted said, “but if she was based on anybody, it was my Danish girlfriend. I’d been introduced to her in Paris in the summer of 1966 and it was love at first sight. She watched as I composed because I was in her room most of the time.

“We got married in 1969 and divorced in 1974. But I still see her. We have a daughter, Anna, and son, Daniel.” Anita went on to marry a surgeon, while she became a dentist and has now returned to live in Denmark. “She still claims the song is about her,” Sarstedt said. “And she could be right.”

Where Do You Go To My Lovely was more than a hit. It was a story and a song that captured the hearts of millions. Anyone who lived through the 1960s will live again when listening to these magical sounds of a lost golden age.

VIDEO : 4.42 mins

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57 thoughts on “In Memory of Peter Sarstedt and the Beautiful People of the 1960s

  1. Thanks, Lasha. It certainly evoked 1969 for me: CCR were big that year as well. Also my first steady girlfriend, a luscious Afrikaner brunette called Maud Ferreira. Brings to mind the lyrics of another song of the 60s, “Those were the days, my friend!” Mary Hopkin, 1968. Looking back I wouldn’t have changed it for anything.

  2. They say when you get married,
    it will be to a millionaire
    🙂 … no sh1t 😮
    50 years from now, a mere billionaire will die in poverty.
    But the usura marches on, ever victorious.

    and the lyrics of the day (the charts will be limited to 3, the upper limit of average counting ability): “unh-hyunh-gunga-hoo-grunt-grrrah”, it will bring tears to people’s eyes, lit candles and teddy bears witness to their emotional power.

    1. obviously no disrespect to this fine song, redolent of class when europe was actually Europe, marcello mastroiani, lino ventura, jp belmondo, fellini, jean seberg, chet baker, steve mcqueen but i need to mention it for those to whom obvious is anything but.

      I was merely milestoning the path of progress having witnessed some of it in my own time.

  3. Good points, Lobro
    Yes, we are hurtling, helter skelter, back to the trees. Glad I won’t be around to see it. Perhaps the Earth will suffer it’s 6th Mass extinction and we’ll be hit by a comet, or maybe a series of volcanic eruptions. At least it will solve the Jewish problem.

  4. Good little song, I didn’t know that one. The post WWII baby boomers and their utopia of a peaceful world without frontiers leading us to a Global Apartheid. As Sacha Distel said, my only homeland, the one I had before I was born, is music.

    The only beautiful sixty people still standing tall in France is Brigitte Bardot. She only cares about animal protection and dolphins.

    Here is the truth about the sixties by Clouzot.

    1. just started watching la verite, i am by no means a movie buff, don’t consider them an artform except on rare occasions.
      but this looks good.
      and the lady certainly has an uncommon capacity for clear thinking

      Famous French actress Brigitte Bardot told Sputnik she thought Russia was lucky to have President Putin over his stance in environment an animal rights, yet more work on these issues remained to be done.

      “You’re really lucky to have a president as remarkable as Vladimir Putin. But even here work remains to be done in what concerns protection of animals. I am counting on the help of the Russian people to help me in this,”

      Bardot said.

      The actress said that even though she was French, she no longer recognized the country as it had changed so much.
      “So my heart and my being reach out for Russia, because I love its language, music, dance, laughter, tears, and most of all its Slavic spirit,” Bardot added.

      Bardot is famous for her animal rights and environment activism, and has previously praised Putin for his animal rights protection. In 2013, she said that the Russian president had done more to protect animals than all of his French counterparts.

      hm, no wonder they (pronounced “zey”) consider Putin a new Hitler.
      But then, judaists have a long road to travel in moral evolution before they can be considered animals.

      1. Watch it in full Lobro if you have time, it’s a brilliant movie but ESP don’t like subtitles. If you like it, then watch And God Created Woman. Hollywood production is just remake of European movies which now completely suck.

    2. One of the things that impresses me most about Brigitte Bardot is that, unlike most retired celebrities who looked fantastic when they were young, she has made no attempt to turn the clock back by cosmetic surgery. She would rather spend her money on animal welfare than on facelifts. She has no vanity, no desire to look younger than she is.

      Take a look at this sobering ‘THEN AND NOW” pic of Brigitte and reflect on the ravages of time:

      http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-5hv9q97ADo4/VCsUZT3bNJI/AAAAAAAAA9g/Sbd5amUwJ5A/s1600/bardot-then-today.jpg

      1. She looks fine to me, Lasha, the eyes are kind and alert.

        trading meat for wisdom is a fair deal, actually what it’s all about.not everyone pulls it off successfully.

        (what’s the name of that guy who used to host “the price is right” tv show, my parents loved that show above all others, he also devoted his retired life to animal welfare, spent tens of millions … he’s got Jesus in his corner, that’s for sure)

      1. his name is bob barker , hosted the price is right until a jew named Drew Carey took over
        he is like bob barker a member of PITA which stands for:
        people for the ethical treatment of ARABS . laugh out loud.

      2. JFC,

        Well, I disagree despite the classic beauty and acting skills of Catherine Deneuve but it is purely subjective, I have always found Deneuve very cold and her movies boring, i’d rather watch a nice Asian movie with Gong Li. There is no Gossip about Catherine since she is an artistocrat, lecturing people from her ivory tower.
        She tried to take the defense of François Hollande recently with an artistocratic petition, the ridiculous précieuses.
        http://resistancerepublicaine.eu/2016/11/21/stop-au-hollande-bashing-deneuve-and-co-signent-un-requiem-pour-un-con/
        Catherine lecturing Hungary about migrants
        http://www.lefigaro.fr/cinema/2015/09/03/03002-20150903ARTFIG00094-catherine-deneuve-denonce-la-cloture-contre-les-migrants-en-hongrie.php
        And many more, actors are stakeholders of the propaganda but you rarely bite the hand that feeds you.

        Deneuve should stop acting once in a while and speak her mind instead of reading a script she doesn’t even understand, like Bardot who looks very nice for an 80 years old Lady or good old Depardieu hiding in Bielorussia.
        Bardot thinks Marine Le Pen is the new Joan of Arc, we will see.
        https://www.theguardian.com/film/2003/may/16/news.gwladysfouche

  5. This post is not about Peter Sarstedt. I’m not bashing him. I don’t know anything about him. Just talking about the 60s generation in general.

    The hippies in the 60s always said it doesn’t matter how a person dresses, but if you weren’t dressed like a hippie they would laugh you to scorn and disdain and let you know you were not wanted and were told in no uncertain terms to get lost.

    At least the older generation said clothes and how we dress does matter. The hippies said clothes doesn’t matter, but they sure as fuck behaved as if clothes and the way one dresses very much do matter, and how you were dressed mattered A LOT to the hippies. They also said it doesn’t matter if a man has short hair or LONG hair, but if a man came around had short hair, the hippies would laugh him to scorn and disdain and let him know in no uncertain terms he was not wanted and to get lost.

    The hippies were so full of shit. We see that today especially. The 60s generation is in power now and they are the most ruthless totalitarian generation in American history. They hate Freedom of Speech, hate Freedom of Religion, hate Freedom of Association, they hate Liberty. They’re also not ANTI-WAR as they always claimed to be. The 60s generation support Hillary, biggest warmonger around. Most totalitarian one around, Hillary, the 60s generation types love their Hellary.

    I’m still waiting for the 60s generation types to tell the Jews and to tell the Muslims it doesn’t matter how you dress when you go to your jew synagogues or Islamic mosques, when you go to your jew synagogues and islamic mosques dress as if you just finished cleaning your garage or attic or just went to your local 7-11 to buy a six-pack. God loves you anyway you dress. Though if you dress nice to go to a Christian service, they have lots of very negative things to say. If God loves us anyway we dress, than God loves us if we dress nice also.

    My problem here is not with Jews and not with Muslims. It was the hippies from Christian backgrounds who were/are always crying and complaining about having to dress up nice to go to church. A great injustice and great bane on the human spirit, not to be able to wear dirty filthy clothes and look like a bum and look like shit when you go worship the God you claim to love and appreciate.

    1. 🙂
      TROJ and hypocrisy don’t mix.

      quite right about the counterculture fashion, headbands, beads, tasseled injun vests – heavy, man, heavy.
      even motown music was looked down on as corny.

      but the greaseballs got even in that arena, with disco music, platform shoes, mullets and bellbottoms and travolta+olivia newton john in saturday night fever – that hurt the hippies big time, sent them scurrying into daddy’s brokerage firm on wall street, abbie hoffman and the jews invented YUPPIES as protective shield against street virus.

      1. Lobro
        Being a frequent traveller to India I’m sure you encountered the remnants, or should that be dregs, of the so called beautiful people in Goa in the late 70’s and early 80’s. I had a few encounters when I was in Goa in 1984. Apparently they’d gravitate between Baga Beach, Anjuna and Formentera in the Balearics. They could never let go of the 60’s!

      2. I was there last in 1997 and it was like an Israeli ghetto.

        they squatted on the beach clustered like roaches, marked by that peculiar unwashable grime, slurping their unidentifiable food, said to be the post-IDF detritus.
        the locals loathed them as cheap, arrogant, condescending and immoral.
        apparently it got worse since then.

        i was also further down at kovalam town a few years ago and didn’t see real hippies, more like old army vets gone to seed and lots of northern europeans.
        not that i would ever search for hippies … when in orient, the last thing I want to see is intruders who insist on their food from back home and western style hangouts with asian hookers.
        I am perfectly at home with locals who don’t speak a word of english and all signs are in thai script.

        smile+point will get you whatever you need.

      3. @Felix

        “They could never let go of the 60’s! “

        Uhh…, I take it you’ve never been to Arcata California, or Eugene Oregon.

      4. Rebar!
        No I’ve never been to Arcata or Eugene, although I did visit the Land of Fruits and Nuts in the mid 80’s. I met some Yuppified Hippies in Topanga Canyon just off the PCH north of LA. During the latter part of the Hippie era, I was in uniform serving in South Africa and then South West Africa. Aah, the good old days of OOPS, Organization Of Pariah States. They comprised, South Africa, Rhodesia, Portugal and her overseas provinces of Angola, Mozambique and Guinea Bissau. The South American members were Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay and joined by Chile in 1973, when Pinochet took over. So even though I enjoyed the music of the 60s, I was never a long haired Flower Child.

      5. @Lobro
        “abbie hoffman and the jews invented YUPPIES…”
        Haha not sure if you’re joking but they were called Yippies ie militant hippies. Hoffman and Jerry Rubin were big players in that scene – both dead now. I had a copy of their book called ‘Do It!’
        Rubin, Jerry (1970). DO IT!: Scenarios of the Revolution. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0671205355.

        Rubin became a business man and ran for Mayor of Berkeley.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerry_Rubin

    2. @Troj

      “The hippies were so full of shit.”

      You, and others here, may have missed this little cultural dichotomy. Since 99 percent of that loving, tolerant generation was a participant in the drug scene, if you did not partake you were often forgotten, ostracized, distrusted and accusingly referred to as a narc.

      1. @Pat

        “It was really good shit”

        Got a friend who was born and raised a couple blocks from Haight-Ashbury. She said it was a safe and wonderful working class community to grow up in and she’d take public transportation across town to school and never felt endangered. Then the white hippies started moving in and in 5 years the whole neighborhood went to hell. While hoards of runaways from across the country were heading to H-A, she’s the only person I know of who, in 1969 at the age of 16, became a runaway FROM San Francisco, and didn’t go back for years.

      2. Rebar –

        It was a zoo for sure in 69.

        I took a month leave in San Francisco in 1966. Notice I wrote “contact high” since I did not want to jeopardize my Top Secret clearances in several areas.

        By 69 I had been married a couple years… to a girl from Texas… working in Hawaii, where I met her. We shared a penthouse on Piikoi St in Honolulu.

        Hawaii was even more of a zoo than in H-A in the 60s. Great experiences. Lots of nights sleeping on the beaches. Jimi Hendrix’s concert was a bummer. More ‘contact high’ as usual… 🙂

        Mild stuff happening today. Calm. No worries.

      3. Pat

        “Mild stuff happening today.”

        Absolutely. As Troj alluded, the group-think of that whole era was a pathetic load of hogwash, thanks to phony pied pipers like Tim Leary and Ram Dass. Group-think isn’t much different today except that it’s way less chaotic. Human condition never changes much. It’s still monkey see, monkey do.

    3. Well….you must have had one nasty look on your face during the movement. I saw a generation who found God and spread Love for all races; brotherhood; sisterhood. All from the family of mankind. I wish the Love children WERE in power but as it was in the 60s you see everything backwards. The only hateful people I know are republicans who steal from their own siblings; who are jealous of a child of God and their creativity that springs from love and understanding. Yes, my sisters and brothers have made quite an impression on each other stealing and destroying creations of generosity and love and claiming hate at the same time. Whoa to the suppressors who have wasted years paving a road to hopelessness.

  6. They say Miracles don’t happen anymore, but today, on this day of Feb. 10th on the traditional Catholic of The Ages calendar of the liturgical year We honor Saint Scholastica, she was a Catholic Nun like Our “Catholic” Sister Monica is a Nun, a Miracle has taken place and Sister Monica finally finally finally checked the Spam folder and set one of my posts ¡Free!. I guess Our DM Sister is a Benedectine Nun, I didn’t know that, but now I do!

    1. @ TheRealOriginalJoe

      It’s not my job to check the Spam folder all day long. You expect me to sift through 600 garbage posts every day in order to find one or two “gems” offered up by yourself? Get a life. I’ve more important things to do than read through 20,000 words of spam trash every day.

      A tip. More of your comments would be posted if you kept them short, on-topic, and polite.

      If people on this site knew that 99% of your posts were full of vitriolic abuse and pornographic obscenities featuring “yeast-infected vaginas” and “mandingo dildos” thrust up people’s asses, they would be less inclined to praise you when you actually said something sensible.

  7. Women need their privacy. ‘Personal’ diaries are proof.

    Peter Sarstedt even wanted to invade Anita’s head.

    They got a divorce.

  8. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way…..

    1. It was a second childhood, extended immaturity, ahistorical, tawdry, asinine, and a pathetic and turdly embarrassing excreta.

      1. Poupon,

        How many times do you need to be told that if our software was to blame, every single poster on this site would be complaining of an identical problem? Is anyone else complaining? No, you are the only complainer!

        Draw your own conclusions from that.

  9. If this song represents the Golden Age of the 60s, God help us!

    Marlene Dietrich?!? Beautiful people?!?

    This song is about the ultra 1% and the glorification of their lifestyle.

    I am really glad I never have ever hear this song before and after hearing today for 2 minutes, it will go back into the memory hole where it properly belongs!

    1. @ David Chu,

      Rubbish! It’s an absolutely beautiful song. If it wasn’t, it wouldn’t have lived on in the memories of so many people over the years and conjured up the lost “Golden Age” of the 1960s.

      It’s all about nostalgia.

      As a Chinese person who is totally alien to the European culture of the 1960s, you are in no position to pontificate on this matter. Lecture us on Confucius if you wish, but not on the music of Peter Sarstedt! 🙂

    2. This is a Beautiful Person from the 60’s and early 70’s who is still true to herself and to truth: http://t.co/glstOeNTBU

      And as for Beautiful Music from the 60’s, I suggest this one from the Beatles (just look how happy and joyful these beautiful people are from the 60’s!): http://t.co/pXPef4ZBrw

      1. They’re happy because they’re high!!!! They weren’t true to themselves, they were true to Tavistocks brainwashing.

  10. Sufi’s have written that a beautiful woman is the physical image of the Beloved’s perfection. The Nordic woman is the pinnacle of that perfection, just ask any dusky immigrant in Nordland.

    Take a look at Maria Orsic. The colorized version is Here

    No wonder German’s were willing to die for their race. Of course the traditional enemy has turned this woman into just another crazed, nasty Nhadzee.

    We used to have a ribald saying in the Marines about the extremes one might go simply to be near such a women. However, it is simply to ugly to repeat.

  11. https://youtu.be/deeBQZ8Aklc …Here is something REAL
    I’m sick to death of phonys being promoted, all a sham. The biggest sham of all being Bruce Springstein. The BOSS, Mr. Blue Collar…hahahaha…he’s worth millions . The boss of mediocrity glorifying soul destroying manual labor while he’s never lifted a hammer or changed a light bulb. Typical Jew. Even John Lennon had the honesty to admit that all his ‘lefty’ crap was just that, crap. But oh! Lennon was a Gentile!

    1. I can’t believe that anyone still buys the soul destroying crap foisted upon us as “beautiful’ or ‘truthful’ or ‘enlightening’ . It’s money making crap which serves the dual purpose of weakening us. By the way, I never liked the beatles, I was a stones’ fan.

      1. Then again the Stones were simply another product…Prince Loewenstein. But better a German Prince than Epstein. Right NS Lobro?

  12. Toejam can’t say to much about the lyrics. They are fair. However the music is trash with the tune repeated over and over like a broken record. Don Mclean’s “American Pie” is far superior musically, lyrically and emotionally. As a student of the 60’s my taste ran more along the lines of Stravinsky, Bartok, Hindemith, etc. of the 20th century and the master composers of the 14th through the end of 19th century. And do not forget the American musical visionary Charles Ives of whose 2nd string quartet ranks up there with Alban Berg’s “Lyric Suite” and the 6 quartets of Bartok.

    1. Toejam

      Glad you mentioned Don Mclean. He wrote a beautiful song about Vincent Van Gogh titled “Starry Night”, A real diamond in the rough when you consider the majority of songs that came out of that Era.

      When the lyrics sing of his taking his life and of how he was just too beautiful for this world, it doesn’t get any more poignant.

  13. I guess if there is a genre of music I love the most, it is the solo, singer-songwriter from the 60’s and 70’s. What an exotic herd they were. Many of them coming out of the coffee house circuits that criss-crossed the country from Boston to San Diego to Chicago to New Orleans to Key West to Seattle. I was personally somewhat addicted to their ambiance, their coziness, the easy-going, attentive audiences and THE MUSIC. I’d say I’d go to a new coffee house weekly and nightly once I graduated from college and was working as a traveling salesman.

    Then, I got to go to Europe and my searches for great coffee houses featuring solo singer-songwriters still consumed my spare time and off hours. I have an extensive record collection of these songwriters and won’t begin to start laying down a list of favorites because the list is wa-a-a-a-y too long.

    But, there is one songwriter who I saw at the Bitter End in New York that destroyed me. I had gone to catch Linda Ronstadt, who was playing there for a week. She had a solo songwriter leading off the show, named Chet Nichols. He had a laid back vib and quietly said, “Hello, my name is Chet Nichols. I come from Kansas. I hope you enjoy my songs”. I will never forget the first 16 bars of song he played. It sounded like there were three guitarists on stage and then he started to sing. Wow…..the place went quiet and stayed that way for his whole show. We were all totally blown away by his songs. I had never heard anything so unique or lyrics so poetic and visual. He was like a male version of Joni Mitchell. Songs that touch on the American Heartland, but also had a foot planted in the British Romantic Poets. His guitar was a freaking orchestra, a feat I later found he created with special guitar tunings. He played 35 minutes, quiet said, “Thanks, I’ll come back a play another set later”…. then he disappeared. I looked around and saw that many were still in a quiet state of reflection. I stuck around for Linda Ronstadt’s show which was great, but I was still haunted by the first act’s performance.

    I wanted to stick around for the second show, but the place was booked and everyone had to leave.

    I went back the second night and a third night. That last night I went there early wanting to talk to Nichols, but he wasn’t coming out as he was “preparing for the show”.

    I got a seat in the second row of tables. But, I was somewhat startled when I looked around and saw John Fahey, Robbie Robertson and Dylan sharing a table, Judy Collins and Don Campbell were at another table and other tables had musical notables in attendance. Worth mentioning was that every night I was there, John Fahey was sitting at a front table taking notes when Nichols played. After Nichols played Fahey would get up and leave.

    I don’t want to ramble on about this gent, but when I have referred people to him, they have thanked me. I bought his first album, “Time Loop” and wore it out. He has others and don’t know where he lives but he is still writing and recording. His first album, “Time Loop” has been recently re-mastered and digitized and re-named, “Beetles Are Coming”. Still Nichols seem to stay below the radar, which adds to his mystic, I guess. Kind of refreshing actually and kind of romantic. But close to, I am guessing, 70, he is still writing inspiring tunes and beautiful instrumental albums.

    Anyway, the title song, “The Beetles Are Coming” is THE SONG I recommend you all listen to, as it has spiritual-prophesy angle to it that is haunting, as if it is a warning of “things to come”. Moreover, the guitar work is amazing. Even more amazing is that he wrote the song in 1969.

    He has a lot of prophetic-types of songs on most of his albums, especially, the newest one, “Apocalypse”.

    Here is a link…if you like this kind of songwriting, ’tis my gift to you.

    https://www.chetnichols.net/cd-beetles-are-coming

    Long live “parts of the 60’s”…… Red

    1. I did like Fahey and even tho these individual crooners were not my bag, I would watch Ry Cooder whenever he came to Toronto (Riverboat), also got to know Taj Mahal, met him on the ferry to Central Island for his Mariposa festival performance, he was friendly to us kids, there was James Taylor, Doug Kershaw, Joni Mitchell … though for me, music was an accessory to acid, Deep Purple, King Crimson, Hendrix, Jethro Tull, Iron Butterfly, Pink Floyd … but when my dope days ended one morning, the pop music went by the boards and was replaced by German Romanticism mostly … mostly piano sonatas.
      Now I don’t listen to anything. Or anybody.

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