- I'm the co-host of THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO with Dana & Carl (Sunday nights, 9 to Midnight Eastern, www.westcottradio.org). As a freelance writer, I contributed to Goldmine magazine from 1986-2006, wrote liner notes for Rhino Records' compilation CD Poptopia! Power Pop Classics Of The '90s, and for releases by The Flashcubes, The Finkers, Screen Test, 1.4.5., and Jack "Penetrator" Lipton. I contributed to the books Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth, Shake Some Action, Lost In The Grooves, and MusicHound Rock, and to DISCoveries, Amazing Heroes, The Comics Buyer's Guide, Yeah Yeah Yeah, Comics Collector, The Buffalo News, and The Syracuse New Times. I also wrote the liner notes for the four THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO compilation CDs, because, well, who could stop me? My standing offer to write liner notes for a Bay City Rollers compilation has remained criminally ignored. Still intend to write and sell a Batman story someday.
Monday, June 12, 2017
This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio # 876
TV heroes aren't real; we all know this. The fantastic champions we see on the tube, as well as in the movies, and in the pages of comic books and pulp novels alike, are mere flights of fancy, flickers of imagination, capable of diversion and amusement, but no more bona fide a savior than the Tooth Fairy or the Great Pumpkin. Parents and teachers are real heroes. The men and women of our armed forces, law enforcement, emergency service providers, friends and neighbors and even total strangers who lend a helping hand in a time of need...those are heroes, all of 'em.
The above is true. And it misses the point.
Because the dreams we dream--the legends we cherish, the folklore we hold dear--help to define the best within us. If we can conjure visions of heroism in our minds--if we believe in ideals--we can aspire to be better. Whether a cartoon crusader to amuse children or an archetype to thrill the inner child within an adult form, our heroes inspire us. Our heroes matter.
Adam West was an actor who played a comic book hero on TV and in a movie, who voiced him in cartoons, and appeared as him in person at car shows and conventions. The character he played was my hero; for playing Batman, West was my hero, too. Still. Always. The Batman series led me to superheroes, and to comic books; exposure to Superman and Flash Gordon predated my discovery of Batman on ABC-TV in 1966, but it was the Dynamic Duo of Batman and Robin that transformed hero worship into a prevailing passion. I would never have wanted to write if not for the spark that Batman ignited within my young soul. If not for Batman, my life would be completely different--and poorer, I think. I am so grateful for all that Batman has meant to me.
The character of Batman predates West's portrayal, of course; Batman debuted in 1939, the creation of Bob Kane and Bill Finger. Batman was played by actors Lewis Wilson and Robert Lowery in 1940s movie serials (and on radio by Gary Merrill), and the role has been taken over by many others since West retired his cape and cowl. The comics have never stopped, published continuously for more than 75 years, reflecting varying interpretations of a durable character. The campy crusader played by West fell into disfavor, but was eventually rediscovered and embraced.
West struggled with the typecasting caused by his most famous role. He was a talented and amiable personality, but his career suffered from his success as Batman. I'm happy that he seemed to have come to terms with it in later years. Because the role that cast such a large bat-shaped shadow across his life also made him immortal, in ways few of us will ever be able to fully understand. He wasn't really Batman. Except that he was. And he was my hero. Thank you so much, Mr. West. This citizen salutes you.
We began and ended this week's TIRnRR with tributes to TV's Batman, the late Adam West. Figuring B is for Batman, we took the cue to devote much of the proceedings to that letter, as B also stood for Badfinger, "Birth Of An Accidental Hipster" by The Monkees, B-sides by The Beach Boys, The Ramones, Shaun Cassidy, Lulu, and The Trend, and BRAND-NEW MUSIC from Richard X. Heyman, among other B treasures. For Batman. For believers. For the best memories of Adam West. This is what rock 'n' roll radio sounded like on a Sunday night in Syracuse this week.
And the people are safe.
This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio with Dana & Carl streams on Sunday nights from 9 to Midnight Eastern, exclusively at www.westcottradio.org
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My immediate thoughts upon hearing of Adam West's death appear here.
TIRnRR # 876: 6/11/17
ADAM WEST: Miranda (Varese Sarabande, VA: Batmania)
P. P. ARNOLD: God Only Knows (Sanctuary, The First Cut) [Beach Boys cover]
THE BEACH BOYS: Don't Worry Baby (Capitol, Surfer Girl & Shut Down Volume 2) [B-side of "I Get Around']
SUBURBAN LAWNS: Janitor (Futurismo, Suburban Lawns)
THE MONKEES: Birth Of An Accidental Hipster (Rhino, Good Times!)
NICK LOWE: I Love The Sound Of Breaking Glass (Yep Roc, Quiet Please...) [Basher]
BADFINGER: Baby Blue (Apple, Straight Up)
THE BEVIS FROND: Flashy (Fire, Superseeder)
BLACK SABBATH: Paranoid (Warner Brothers, We Sold Our Soul For Rock 'n' Roll)
BLONDIE: Heart Of Glass (Chrysalis, Parallel Lines)
THE BYRDS: The Bells Of Rhymney (Columbia, Mr. Tambourine Man)
GENE CLARK: Austin (Columbia, Echoes) [Byrds]
THE HIT SQUAD: Best Of Me (Kool Kat Musik, VA: This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 4)
BOW WOW WOW: I Want Candy (Sony, Playlist)
THE NEW YORK DOLLS: Babylon (Mercury, Rock 'N Roll)
THE TOURISTS: I Only Want To Be With You (Epic, Should Have Been Greatest Hits)
THE BEATLES: The Night Before (Parlophone, Help!)
THE BOX TOPS: The Letter (Raven, The Original Albums 1967-1969)
RICHARD X. HEYMAN: A Fool's Errand (Turn-Up, Incognito) [Brand-new!]
FREDDIE & THE DREAMERS: I'm Telling You Now (EMI, The Definitive Collection)
COTTON MATHER: The Book Of Too Late Changes (Star Apple Kingdom, Death Of The Cool)
MARMALADE: Reflections Of My Life (Salvo, Fine Cuts)
THE KINKS: Better Things (Velvel, Give The People What They Want)
THE FOUNDATIONS: Baby Now That I've Found You (Sanctuary, The Very Best Of The Foundations)
THE RAMONES: Babysitter (Rhino, Leave Home) [B-side of "Do You Wanna Dance]
BRAM TCHAIKOVSKY: Girl Of My Dreams (Polydor, Strange Man, Changed Man)
MARSHALL CRENSHAW: Better Back Off (Rhino, This Is Easy)
BRINSLEY SCHWARZ: (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding (Yep Roc, NICK LOWE: Quiet, Please...)
BLUE OYSTER CULT: This Ain't The Summer Of Love (Columbia, Workshop Of The Telescopes)
CLOCKWORK FLOWERS: Uncle John [single]
BRENYAMA: Things That You Do (Jem, Euphoria Love)
SUBURBAN LAWNS: Anything (Futurismo, Suburban Lawns)
THE FLASHCUBES: Boogie City (Northside, single)
JOHNNY CASH: A Boy Named Sue (Sony, VA: The 60s Summer Album)
CHUCK BERRY: Promised Land (MCA, The Anthology)
THE BRAINS: Money Changes Everything (Universal, VA: New Wave Gold)
SHAUN CASSIDY: Teen Dream (Curb, Greatest Hits) [B-side of "Do You Believe In Magic"]
HARRY NILSSON: Everybody's Talkin' (Capitol, VA: Midnight Cowboy OST)
THE FOUR TOPS: Baby I Need Your Loving (Motown, The Ultimate Collection)
DAVID BOWIE: I Dig Everything (Castle, I Dig Everything)
LULU: The Boat That I Row (Rhino, From Crayons To Perfume) [B-side of "To Sir, With Love"]
ALAN PRICE SET: I Put A Spell On You (Sanctuary, VA: British Are Coming)
THE BAY CITY ROLLERS: Rock And Roll Love Letter (Arista, The Definitive Collection)
BANANARAMA: Really Sayin' Somethin' (Edsel, Deep Sea Skiving)
THE RONETTES: Be My Baby (Abkco, The Best Of The Ronettes)
DR. FEELGOOD: She's A Wind-Up (EMI, VA: Pure 70s)
ADAM WEST: The Story Of Batman (Varese Sarabande, VA: Batmania)
OSCAR & THE MAJESTICS: House Of The Rising Sun (Arf! Arf!, VA: A Deadly Dose Of Wylde Psych)
THE HANDCUFFS: Baby I Love You (OOFL, Waiting For The Robot)
THE ONLY ONES: Another Girl, Another Planet (Sony, Another Girl, Another Planet)
THE TREND: Band Aid (Hate, Batman Live At Budokan) [B-side of "Electric Chair"]
VAN MORRISON: Brown Eyed Girl [original edited mono single mix] (Legacy, The Authorized Bang Collection)
THE RARE BREED: Beg, Borrow And Steal (Rhino, VA: Nuggets)
P.P. ARNOLD: (If You Think You're) Groovy (Sanctuary, The First Cut)
THE BOOKENDS: A Girl Like Me (unreleased)
THE HOLLIES: Bus Stop (EMI, Clarke, Hicks & Nash Years)
NELSON RIDDLE: Batman Theme (Stateside, Batman: Exclusive Original Television Soundtrack Album)