Last Saturday afternoon, over 500 fans gathered at the Casino Theatre to attend a Symposium, sponsored by the Catalina Island Museum, on the British Invasion of Rock `n` Roll music in the 1960s. Many people traveled to the island just for this event, and the 4th of July British Invasion Concert, while others just happily stumbled upon it during their visit to the island, and of course a few local residents were in attendance - and all came away with a little bit more knowledge and a better perspective of the British Invasion of American Rock `n` Roll music.
Featured in the symposium were: Avalon`s own British rock and roll star (formerly of Great Britain), Spencer Davis, who started his music career in England when he was attending a university in Birmingham and purchased a 12-string guitar with the money that was intended to buy his books; Micky Dolenz, member of the Monkees band, or actually a cast member of the 1960s hit television sitcom about a rock and roll band, The Monkees, trying to make it big; Peter Asher, an English guitarist and singer and half of the talented vocal duo Peter and Gordon, before his successful career as a record producer; Pirate Radio`s Emperor Rosko, who sent American rock and roll through the air waves to England, where all that was on radio was regulated by the British government and they for sure weren`t broadcasting American rock `n` roll (and probably not even Lawrence Welk), he broadcast from his "Radio Caroline" located onboard the safety of a boat moored just outside British territory, which became known as "the ship that launched a thousand hits:" and as emcee, Martin Lewis who is an expert on the Beatles.
It was well discussed by the four, that in the early `60s British bands would get America records from sailors or someone they knew who traveled to the USA, and then in some clubs bands were beginning to play American influenced music, and soon more and more British bands were being influenced by American blues, bluegrass, country, early rock `n` roll. Emperor Rosko began broadcasting American rock `n` roll hist for England`s youth to hear. The Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show and got a contract with Columbia Records, and the flood gates were open and the British Invasion began as British bands began performing in America and their records began reaching the top of the charts.
Spencer Davis met 15 year old Steve Winwood, who was performing in a Birmingham pub, and formed the Spencer Davis Group in 1963, a group that went on to record classic hits such as "Gimme Some Lovin`" and "I`m a Man." Fabulously successful in England, the Spencer Davis Group was just about to invade the USA on a college tour, when Steve Winwood decided to leave the group. When asked about that at the symposium, Spencer said he had no hard feelings toward Winwood, but it left the group in an impossible situation for the USA tour, and he felt that the Spencer Davis Group would have been better known in the USA if Winwood hadn`t left at that time.
After the Symposium, there was a chance for people to meet the four participants and get autographs. Also, the opening of the Catalina Island Museum`s new exhibit "Gimme Some Lovin`: The Spencer Davis Group." In 1964 the "British Invasion" was in full swing and British groups dominated the pop charts on both sides of the Atlantic and the Spencer Davis Group was one of the most respected and imitate bands of their time.
On the 4th of July, the Catalina Island Museum and the Santa Catalina Island Company continued the salute to the British Invasion with a concert featuring Spencer Davis and the Catalina Island All-Stars.