Atlantic 45 of the week: Kandeda Montgomery – Where Have You Been Today, James Rector? / July 5th (The Cuckoo) (Atlantic 2672 1969)

Every week I will print an entry from my forthcoming book “US Atlantic Singles 1947-77″. This week is the turn of protest folk singer Kandeda Montgomery’s solitary release for the label:

Where Have You Been Today, James Rector? (Montgomery) / July 5th (Montgomery)
Billboard Pop: none
Billboard R&B: none
Recorded: 1969.
Released: Oct 1969.
Other issues: none.
Available On: Currently unavailable.

Kandeda Montgomery was a folk singer/songwriter from Illinois. She has a couple of songs (not these) in the Vietnam War Collection of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. It was unusual for Atlantic to issue such an explicitly political single as “Where Have You Been Today, James Rector?”.

James Rector, 25, was a student who was shot dead by police during a demonstration against the Arab-Israeli war on May 15th 1969 at the People’s Park in Berkeley, California. Under the orders of State Governor Ronald Reagan, armed police were sent in to fence off the park. A riot ensued, and deputies from the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office used lead buckshot to fire indiscriminately into the crowd. 128 protestors were wounded including carpenter Alan Blanchard who was permanently blinded. Both Blanchard and Rector were watching the proceedings from a roof, and were not directly involved in the fracas. Rector had suffered internal injuries caused by his shotgun wounds and died on May 19th. By this time Berkeley was under occupation by the National Guard, and Rector’s memorial service was tear-gassed. On May 30th, 30,000 people – one third of the population of the city – marched in protest against Reagan’s occupation, and the murder of James Rector.


6 responses to “Atlantic 45 of the week: Kandeda Montgomery – Where Have You Been Today, James Rector? / July 5th (The Cuckoo) (Atlantic 2672 1969)

  1. I’m Kande’s daughter and, to let you know, the only African my mother has is a couple hundred years back. (Bantu.) She fought for religious freedom, women’s, and civil rights and still does, living in CA. She’s also from Illinois, not Arizona, though she did live in Arizona for awhile. I can put you in touch with her if you like.

  2. Maria. Thanks for the info. I got what information I could find from the net. Dumb I know, but it was really difficult tracking down any information about Kandeda. Still, since I’ve had zero interest from publishers, at least the misinformation hasn’t gone into print! I’m glad of your input and I’d be happy to get in touch with your mother. Let her get her own voice on the web so the truth is out there rather than tenth hand misinformation from the likes of me!

  3. Hi. Here I am. Thanks for remembering People’s Park and the brutes with whom we had to deal in those days, which are made secondary by the present brutes we’re dealing with today.

    (My name is Trefil because I couldn’t let a great pun like “Candy Truffle” go languishing, so I did the “lady thing,” taking my husband’s name…)

    Yeah, you picked a really esoteric piece of work. The pre-Atlantic recording was sent as a freebie to underground stations all over the US to break the news blackout in regard to People’s Park. After all, one would think that over 100 people shot at random (students, street people, professors, shoppers, etc.) would generate some news, right? Huh-uh. Reagan thought he could do anything to UCBerkeley, including spread gas from helicopter over the hospital and elementary schools after one of those shot died and another one was permanently blinded.

    There was so much illegal aggression from “authorities” at the time I couldn’t begin to tell it all here.

    Can hardly believe that Atlantic Recording CORPORATION helped us get the word out! GOOD FOR THEM!

    Kande Trefil (AKA Feloni S. S. Salt :D)

  4. Hi Kande
    Thanks for stopping by. This brief piece comes from an (unpublished) book I’ve written detailing the first 30 years of Atlantic – single by single. I was quite surprised when I discovered your record. It was so out of synch with the majority of what he label was doing at the time. Despite being a couple of blocks from Greenwich Village, the original folk revival completely passed them by at the beginning of the sixties. And Jerry Wexler was famously nervous about releasing anything with ‘political’ content – he even objected to the Rascals’ “People Got To Be Free” – hardly a radical call to arms.

    So I was very curious about “James Rector”. I did some digging, but found very little information about you, bar the existence of some recordings at the Library of Congress. But the whole People’s Park story was a new one to me. I knew about Kent State, Sunset Strip and Chicago and other instances of organized police brutality from the era, but not this story.

    It just goes to show the power of song – that even 40 years on it can inform and educate. And I’m more than happy to be a part of this process, helping to ensure stuff doesn’t get forgotten – both artistically and politically.

    Anyway, thanks again for your contribution. It’s really appreciated.


  5. I was there the day James Rector was shot. We were standing on the roof watching the police and demonstrators below. Suddenly the police turned around and with out warning began shooting at us. I was not hit but I climbed up to a higher roof and carried Alan Blanchard down while they continued to shoot at us. Alan was shot in the face and lost both eyes. Many people think Ronald Regan is a great man. I can never forget his behavior in those difficult days. He was not a hero then, he was the perfect example of a demagogue.

    Greg Harland

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s