The Beatles needed a place to play, David Bowie needed a place to crash, and Frank Zappa needed a place to...well, there’s no elegant way to put it: Frank needed a bathroom break.
The place was Washington, D.C., and environs, the time was rock ‘n’ roll’s second and third most formative eras (1964-‘67, ‘67-‘73, not necessarily respectively—name yer poison!), and on hand to take it all in were the Oberman Brothers, successive popular music writers for the Washington Evening Star.
Between them, the Obermans — Ron the elder, Michael the younger —interviewed and/or witnessed, in action, every important pop musical artist or act of those fruitful eras.
That’s because, in spite of the Capital Region’s reputation as a one-trick pony town, no one skips D.C.
Back in the day, some aspiring rockers even showed up before even going on tour, just to get the lay of the land.
One such aspirant was David Bowie, and on the first night of his first U.S. visit, he crashed at the Oberman lads’ parents’ home in Silver Spring, Maryland.
There is so much to this and the brothers’ other adventures, I cannot even begin to describe them in this blog. I recommend starting with this recent episode of Let It Roll and then maybe check out Michael Oberman’s new book, a collection of his music writings for the Star that he discusses in the podcast with Our Man Nate.
Only then will you learn the true nature of Francois Zappa’s restroom experience when he and the Muthas performed at the U. of Maryland. . .
I can’t remember if they talk about the Beatles’ first live U.S. concert, but rest assured both Oberman bros were there.
Ed Legge (@freebirdyeller) is a life-long musician, long-time journalist and sometime corporate dweeb who’s writing a book about originating rock ‘n’ roll’s most absurd tradition.