Poetry for the Beat Generation

Jack Kerouac & Steve Allen: Poetry for the Beat Generation

Hanover Records, 1959
Black vinyl, original mono

In 1957, Jack Kerouac was booked for a jazz-accompanied performance at the Village Vanguard, which lasted about a week. On the inaugural night, Kerouac, nervous and awkward, didn’t mesh well with the band, and gave a disastrous performance. The second night, Steve Allen (of The Steve Allen Show) offered Jack impromptu accompaniment on piano. Their collaboration was so successful, Allen, who had connections at Dot Records, suggested they cut a record. Kerouac showed up with a bottle of rotgut, and after the engineer congratulated Kerouac on an excellent first take, Kerouac, wanting to capture the spirit of their earlier collaboration, insisted it would be the only take.

However, these recordings almost never saw daylight. On hearing of the album’s impending release, Dot president Randy Wood declared Kerouac’s frank language and subject matter obscene and unsuitable for children, thus unbefitting his label’s catalogue. Wood ordered every copy destroyed. Steve Allen and producer Bob Thiele then took the tapes, and left Dot Records to found Hanover Records, which then released Poetry for the Beat Generation. This record is one of three comprising The Jack Kerouac Collection. Blues and Haikus with Al Cohn and Zoot Sims, and Readings by Jack Kerouac on the Beat Generation were released subsequently.

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