Wednesday, March 31, 2010

It's A Beautiful Day: White Bird

They were a band that didn’t own their name – never received royalties from their recordings – and had no say in the reissuing of their classic albums from the late 60s and early 70s. The name of the band was “It’s A Beautiful Day,” and the name was inspired by a young girl who was describing the day’s weather. When manager Matthew Katz heard it, he thought it sounded like a great name for a band. While their best known song only charted at 118, “White Bird” became an underground classic.

This band led by David LaFlamme would later come under Matthew Katz’s fold. He christened them “It’s A Beautiful Day” and they joined the likes of Jefferson Airplane and Moby Grape in his stable of artists. Unknown to “It’s A Beautiful Day,” the other two bands were experiencing problems with Katz’s management style and were attempting to get out from under his control. All three were finding it difficult in herding Katz; however, Jefferson Airplane was successful in maneuvering out of their contract with minimum damage. Unfortunately, Moby Grape and It’s A Beautiful Day were not. In the litigation that would follow, Katz landed on his feet.

During the period of the strained relationship, the band began recording their first of six albums for Columbia – one being a live album and the other a compilation. “It’s A Beautiful Day,” now under the management of Bill Graham (of Fillmore West/East fame), began setting their own direction; however, Katz had trademarked the name and sued. The outcome was in Katz's favor and the band was prohibited from using the name. Soon the Columbia albums quickly went out of print and Katz, being the owner of the band per se gained control of their musical catalog.

It’s A Beautiful Day – Live 1971 at the last Fillmore show

During this period, band leader David LaFlamme (on violin) and his wife Linda (keyboards) divorced and the band went through numerous personnel changes until they could perform no longer under the moniker they had used for years. In 1977, David LaFlamme rerecorded “White Bird” on his first solo album under the same name. I bought a copy of the cassette of this LP in the late 70s and enjoyed it thoroughly; however, it is hard to top the original recording.

David LaFlamme Solo Version from 1977

“White Bird” was written by David and Linda LaFlamme when the band was sent by Katz to perform in Seattle. Feeling that they were caged in the small house that Katz rented for the band, their feeling of being caged at the time inspired today’s feature song. The original debut album was eventually re-released by Katz on his own San Francisco Sound label.

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