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Jul 162017

Bob Marley Short Biography
February 6, 1945-May 11, 1981

Born – St. Ann Parish, Kingston Jamaica. He died in Miami, Florida, on May 11, 1981 en route back to Jamaica.

Early Life in Jamaica

Born on February 6, 1945, in St. Ann Parish, Jamaica, Bob Marley helped introduce reggae music to the world and remains one of the genre’s most beloved artists to this day. The son of a black teenage mother and much older, later absent white father, he spent his early years in St. Ann Parish, in the rural village known as Nine Miles.
One of his childhood friends in St. Ann was Neville “Bunny” O’Riley Livingston. Attending the same school, the two shared a love of music. Bunny inspired Bob to learn to play the guitar. Later Livingston’s father and Marley’s mother became involved, and they all lived together for a time in Kingston, according to Christopher John Farley’s Before the Legend: The Rise of Bob Marley.
Arriving in Kingston in the late 1950s, Marley lived in Trench Town, one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. He struggled in poverty, but he found inspiration in the music around him. Trench Town had a number of successful local performers and was considered the Motown of Jamaica. Sounds from the United States also drifted in over the radio and through jukeboxes. Marley liked such artists as Ray Charles, Elvis Presley, Fats Domino, and the Drifters.Marley and Livingston devoted much of their time to music. Under the guidance of Joe Higgs, Marley worked on improving his singing abilities. He met another student of Higgs, Peter McIntosh (later Peter Tosh) who would play an important role in Marley’s career.

Founding The Wailers

A local record producer, Leslie Kong, liked Marley’s vocals and had him record a few singles, the first of which was “Judge Not,” released in 1962. While he did not fare well as a solo artist, Marley found some success joining forces with his friends. In 1963, Marley, Livingston, and McIntosh formed the Wailing Wailers. Their first single, “Simmer Down,” went to the top of the Jamaican charts in January 1964. By this time, the group also included Junior Braithwaite, Beverly Kelso and Cherry Smith.The group became quite popular in Jamaica, but they had difficulty making it financially. Braithewaite, Kelso, and Smith left the group. The remaining members drifted apart for a time. Marley went to the United States where his mother was now living. However, before he left, he married Rita Anderson on February 10, 1966.After eight months, Marley returned to Jamaica. He reunited with Livingston and McIntosh to form the Wailers. Around this time, Marley was exploring his spiritual side and developing a growing interest in the Rastafarian movement.
Both religious and political, the Rastafarian movement began in Jamaica in 1930s and drew its beliefs from many sources, including Jamaican nationalist Marcus Garvey, the Old Testament, and their Ethiopian African heritage and culture.For a time in the late 1960s, Marley worked with pop singer Johnny Nash.

Nash scored a worldwide hit with Marley’s song “Stir It Up.” The Wailers also worked with producer Lee Perry during this era; some of their successful songs together were “Trench Town Rock,” “Soul Rebel” and “Four Hundred Years.”The Wailers added two new members in 1970: bassist Aston “Family Man” Barrett and his brother, drummer Carlton “Carlie” Barrett. The following year, Marley worked on a movie soundtrack in Sweden with Johnny Nash.

The Big Breakthrough

The Wailers got their big break in 1972 when they landed a contract with Island Records, founded by Chris Blackwell . For the first time, the group hit the studios to record a full album. The result was the critically acclaimed Catch a Fire. To support the record, the Wailers toured Britain and the United States in 1973, performing as an opening act for both Bruce Springsteen and Sly & the Family Stone. That same year, the group released their second full album, Burnin’, featuring the hit song “I Shot the Sheriff.” Rock legend Eric Clapton released a cover of the song in 1974, and it became a No. 1 hit in the United States.Before releasing their next album, 1975’s Natty Dread, two of the three original Wailers left the group; McIntosh and Livingston decided to pursue solo careers as Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer, respectively. Natty Dread reflected some of the political tensions in Jamaica between the People’s National Party and the Jamaica Labour Party. Violence sometimes erupted due to these conflicts. “Rebel Music (3 o’clock Road Block)” was inspired by Marley’s own experience of being stopped by army members late one night prior to the 1972 national elections, and “Revolution” was interpreted by many as Marley’s endorsement for the PNP.
For their next tour, the Wailers performed with I-Threes, a female group whose members included Marcia Griffiths, Judy Mowatt and Marley’s wife, Rita. Now called Bob Marley & The Wailers, the group toured extensively and helped increase reggae’s popularity abroad. In Britain in 1975, they scored their first Top 40 hit with “No Woman, No Cry.”Already a much-admired star in his native Jamaica, Marley was on his way to becoming an international music icon. He made the U.S. music charts with the album Rastaman Vibration in 1976. One track stands out as an expression of his devotion to his faith and his interest in political change: “War.” The song’s lyrics were taken from a speech by Haile Selassie, the 20th century Ethiopian emperor who is seen as a type of a spiritual leader in the Rastafarian movement. A battle cry for freedom from oppression, the song discusses a new Africa, one without the racial hierarchy enforced by colonial rule.

Politics and Assassination Attempt

Back in Jamaica, Marley continued to be seen as a supporter of the People’s National Party. And his influence in his native land was seen as a threat to the PNP’s rivals. This may have led to the assassination attempt on Marley in 1976. A group of gunmen attacked Marley and the Wailers while they were rehearsing on the night of December 3, 1976, two days before a planned concert in Kingston’s National Heroes Park. One bullet struck Marley in the sternum and the bicep, and another hit his wife, Rita, in the head. Fortunately, the Marleys were not severely injured, but manager Don Taylor was not as fortunate. Shot five times, Taylor had to undergo surgery to save his life. Despite the attack and after much deliberation, Marley still played at the show. The motivation behind the attack was never uncovered, and Marley left Jamaica for England the day after the concert.

Dec 4, 2016 – It’s 40 years since would-be assassins tried to kill Bob Marley, the most famous reggae artist of all time. Nancy Burke, who was at the singer’s house in Kingston, Jamaica, as the shootings took place, recalls what happened.
During the 1970s, Marley led the way in the Caribbean island as it became the reggae capital of the world. Burke, who lived next door to him, was the girlfriend of his art designer and became part of his incrowd.
“I love the music, I love his lyrics, I love the beat, I love the band,” she says. “So it was a great privilege to be there, backstage, on the bus, going to shows.”

Marley may have been a potent symbol of the country’s musical success, but 1970s Jamaica was an impoverished and divided nation, with violent gangs fighting for control over the poorest neighborhoods.
The left-wing Prime Minister Michael Manley was a polarising figure and political tensions and violence were rife, especially when there were elections on the horizon.
In late 1976, a general election was due to be held. Marley had previously backed Manley, but this time the singer wanted to distance himself from the government.
To try to help calm passions, Marley suggested holding a free outdoor concert in Kingston in December. But when the prime minister publicly endorsed the idea, and even moved the date of the vote to coincide with the event, Marley was left looking like a government stooge.
Burke had been away in London, chaperoning one of Marley’s girlfriends, Cindy Breakspeare, at the Miss World contest. They arrived back on the island on the afternoon of 3 December 1976. After showering and changing, Burke went to see Marley at home.

“As I was walking towards the house, I just had this very quick moment of dread,” she says. “I just shuddered.”
She noticed the gate was closed, which was unusual. But inside the house, Burke recalls, everyone seemed relaxed. The band were taking a break from rehearsals.
Someone asked Burke to move her car to let Marley’s wife, Rita, take her own car out. As the front gates opened for Rita to leave, another car slipped in. Burke was by then in a back room chatting with some children and Marley’s lawyer, Diane Jobson.
“I had just entered that room and started talking to them about Miss World when this barrage of gunfire started, really close. I mean, right there,” Burke says.
“You could hear this gunfire going on and on and all these shots being fired. And it was so shocking because we couldn’t see it, but it was just a few feet away.
“I sank to my knees, I just didn’t know what to do. The light was on and we just thought they were going to come in and mow us down. It was scary, very scary. It was just a bedroom so there wasn’t anywhere to go. The kids went under the bed but I couldn’t.”

Three gunmen, who’d driven in as Rita was leaving, had rushed into the house, spraying the place with bullets. Marley and the musicians had dived for cover.
The shooters then sped off into the night, not pausing to survey the chaos they’d left behind.
“The silence after seemed like forever, which was even more terrifying,” Burke recalls.
“The next sound I heard was somebody calling out to Diane, saying: ‘Diane, Diane, come quick, Bob is shot.'”
Burke stayed in the bedroom with the children until the police arrived. “That was the first point I decided to step out of this room,” she says.
“While I was doing that I saw Bob walk out with the police and he was holding his left arm. It was fantastic to see him on foot – looking really, really angry.”

It had been a very lucky escape for everyone. Marley had been hit in the arm and chest. His manager, Don Taylor, had been hit in the groin. No-one else was seriously wounded.
Who’d carried out the shooting? Who’d sent the gunmen? Why hadn’t they finished off the job? These were all questions that hung in the air. The shooting remains shrouded in mystery and the gunmen were never found.
“I’ve heard rumours that they were taken care of, they’re not alive,” says Burke. “Somebody must know something. But it’s hard to know what the reality is.”
Two days later, an injured Marley turned up to play for more than 80,000 fans at the free open-air concert in Kingston. Burke was too scared to go.
“Nobody had been caught, nobody knew how or why. It was too frightening for me. I was too close it it the first time. I couldn’t face that so soon again.”
Marley spent the next two years in self-imposed exile in London, then touring, producing some of his best work. In his short life he released 11 albums, four of them live.
Burke kept close contact with Marley during the final years of his life, until his death from cancer in May 1981. He was just 36 years old.
“The last time I saw Bob before he died he had removed the locks, he had started to lose weight,” Burke says.
“He was very withdrawn, quite small. He was shrinking in front of us.
“When he died we were in New York when we heard. It was definitely one of the worst moments ever of my life. I still feel it’s part of my mission to make sure people won’t forget about Bob Marley. Which they won’t, he’s done that for himself.”

London, England

Living in London, England, Marley went to work on Exodus, which was released in 1977. The title track draws an analogy between the biblical story of Moses and the Israelites leaving exile and his own situation. The song also discusses returning to Africa. The concept of Africans and descendents of Africans repatriating their homeland can be linked to the work of Marcus Garvey. Released as a single, “Exodus” was a hit in Britain, as were “Waiting in Vain” and “Jamming,” and the entire album stayed on the U.K. charts for more than a year. Today, Exodus is considered to be one of the best albums ever made.
Marley had a health scare in 1977. He sought treatment in July of that year on a toe he had injured earlier that year. After discovering cancerous cells in his toe, doctors suggested amputation. Marley refused to have the surgery, however, because his religious beliefs prohibited amputation.

Redemption Song

While working on Exodus, Marley and the Wailers recorded songs that were later released on the album Kaya (1978). With love as its theme, the work featured two hits: “Satisfy My Soul” and “Is This Love.” Also in 1978, Marley returned to Jamaica to perform his One Love Peace Concert, where he got Prime Minister Michael Manley of the PNP and opposition leader Edward Seaga of the JLP to shake hands on stage.
That same year, Marley made his first trip to Africa, and visited Kenya and Ethiopia—an especially important nation to him, as it’s viewed as the spiritual homeland of Rastafarians. Perhaps inspired by his travels, his next album, Survival (1979), was seen as a call for both greater unity and an end to oppression on the African continent. In 1980, Bob Marley & The Wailers played an official independence ceremony for the new nation of Zimbabwe.
A huge international success, Uprising (1980) featured “Could You Be Loved” and “Redemption Song.” Known for its poetic lyrics and social and political importance, the pared down, folk-sounding “Redemption Song” was an illustration of Marley’s talents as a songwriter. One line from the song reads: “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; none but ourselves can free our minds.” A messenger with a beautiful soul.


On tour to support the album, Bob Marley & The Wailers traveled throughout Europe, playing in front of large crowds. The group also planned a series of concerts in the United States, but the group would play only two concerts—at Madison Square Garden in New York City—before Marley became ill. The cancer discovered earlier in his toe had spread throughout his body.

Death and Memorial

Traveling to Europe, Bob Marley underwent unconventional treatment by Dr. Josef Issels in Munich Germany, and was subsequently able to fight off the cancer for a while. Marley’s weight however had dropped to 77 pounds and after fighting the cancer without success for eight months, accepted his fate and left Germany to die in his homeland Jamaica. Sadly, Marley never made it back to Jamaica alive. After landing in Miami, Florida he was taken to Cedars of Lebanon Hospital (now University of Miami Hospital) where he passed away at 11:35 AM on May 11, 1981 at age 36. The spread of melanoma to his lungs and brain caused his death. His final words to his son Ziggy were “Money can’t buy life!”

Shortly before his death, Marley had received the Order of Merit from the Jamaican government. He had also been awarded the Medal of Peace from the United Nations in 1980. Adored by the people of Jamaica, Marley was given a hero’s send-off. More than 30,000 people paid their respects to the musician during his memorial service, held at the National Arena in Kingston, Jamaica. Rita Marley, Marcia Griffiths, Judy Mowatt sang and the Wailers performed at the ceremony.


Bob Marley achieved several legendary accomplishments during his lifetime, including serving as a world ambassador for reggae music, earning induction into the Rock and Rock Hall of Fame in 1994, and selling more than 20 million albums during his lifetime — making him the first international superstar to emerge from the so-called Third World.
Decades after his passing, Marley’s music remains widely acclaimed with album sales far beyond a 100 million copies. His musical legacy has also continued through his family and longtime bandmates; Rita continues to perform with the I-Threes, the Wailers and some of the Marley children. (Bob Marley reportedly fathered nine children, though reports vary.) Marley’s sons, David “Ziggy” and Stephen, and daughters Cedella and Sharon (Rita’s daughter from a previous relationship who was adopted by Bob) played for years as Ziggy Marley & the Melody Makers, later performing as the Melody Makers. (Ziggy and Stephen have also had solo successes.) Sons Damian “Gong Jr.” Ky-Mani and Julian are also talented recording artists. Other Marley children are involved in related family businesses, including the Tuff Gong record label, founded by Marley in the mid-1960s.
Marley’s commitment to fighting oppression also continues through an organization that was established in his memory by the Marley family: The Bob Marley Foundation is devoted to helping people and organizations in developing nations.

Oct 272013

2013 was a strange and scary year in my aging process. Mortality became real as friends and family were starting to move away to the great beyond and the soundtrack to my own life started to show serious holes. My personal musical frame is rather eclectic and covers many genres, all of them somehow touching on blues and rock. Even poetry takes a considerable place in my musical choices, which makes the creation of this website not only voluminous and time consuming undertaking, but also expansive from jazz rock to flamenco and from Delta blues origins to punk and grunge.

I know death is the Great Equalizer, but I still cannot stand there with wide open arms when the Grim Reaper comes and takes my idols away, one after another, sometime with so little time in between that it feels as if my whole generation is hit by a tidal wave of insignificance. So many of them have already gone to the stage beyond.

And every time another legend passes these days my second thought is: Damn there must be a magnificent concert playing  tonight.. I’m with George Harrison, who 4 years prior to his death from cancer, said: “We’re all so busy and pre-occupied with fake bullshit and drama that we have lost sight of trying to find answers to the most urgent question of all: “What happens when we leave this earth?”

Today Lou Reed moved on to that Rock and Roll Paradise stage in the Sky at age 71. The concert tonight will be minimalist, because it was the Velvet Underground front man who once claimed that a One Chord song was fine, using two chords was being on the edge of Rock and Roll and if you played 3 chords, you were into Jazz!

I don’t really know why Lou signified my reason for starting this personal legacy website, since I was much more hit by the sudden passing of legendary guitarist Alvin Lee (Ten Years After) this year. Fact is that Lou and Velvet Underground contributed greatly to our formative years.

As famous riffs go it is said that Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” is the world’s most recognized guitar riff. If you ask me that honor would have to go to Keith Richard’s “Satisfaction“, even though my personal favorite is “In-a-Gadda-da-Vida” by Iron Butterfly. BUT… I will always and anywhere and immediately recognize the opening lick for Velvet Underground’s “Heroin” in that monotone rhythmic beat of an open D tone.

As a teenager/guitarist in Holland in the early 60s my early preferences quickly moved from the Beatles, Stones, Yardbirds and Animals across the pond in search for different. Leonard Cohen brought some of the coffee shop poetry into my musical palette, Dylan captivated my political and societal formation process, the Summer of Love put my attention on the American West Coast, but Lou Reed filled a niche of darkness, carelessness and anger that expressed perfectly the mood of the sixties before flower power. His compositions were provoking and challenging and part of a mindset controlled by a deep need to be contrarian and unexpected. Rebellious if you like.

Lou Reed was never my greatest inspiration, even though I may have been a reclusive member of a very small and exclusive group in Amsterdam that had vinyl records by Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground. To Lou Reed’s credit, Brian Eno once famously noted about Lou Reed’s massive influence on grunge, punk and other musical forms: “Velvet Underground’s first album only sold 10,000 copies, but every one who purchased the album started a band.”

No doubt that New York’s Greenwich Village, the Andy Warhol pop art cult and the grandmaster ‘managing’ the Velvet Underground have largely contributed to Lou Reed’s long term rock status into the 21st century. Warhol was in my opinion more a visionary of human manipulation than a magically talented artist, but when he added beautiful German born model Nico (1938-1988) as co-lead singer to the album Velvet Underground & Nico, he established himself as an artistic genius and Lou Reed and Velvet Underground as a musical force.

Enjoy your welcome concert tonight Lou, we’ll miss you here, but you left us a great legacy of work to enjoy for the remainder of our years. The world has lost an original, but rock and roll paradise welcomed another rock God. Take a walk on the wild side, Lou.

Aug 272015

Janis Joplin Considered by many the best white female rock/blues singer of all time, Janis Joplin’s career was a short wild ride. Born and raised in the conservative town of Port Arthur, Texas, Janis was an outcast. Too wild and totally different than her peers in high school, she was mainly shunned by them. But she had a special, very powerful voice even at an early age and therefore decided to become a singer. Her first regular gig was at the Purple Onion Club in Houston. She sang both the blues and folk music, but her vocal style was like no others even then. Word slowly spread about her. That next year she joined her first group, Waller Creek Boys, an Austin based act that also featured Powell St. John, later of Mother Earth. In 1963 Janis made her first move to San Francisco where she became a regular attraction at the North Beach Coffee Gallery. She became addicted to amphetamines and in 1965 decided to return to Texas in an effort to clean up.

She decided that she would quit the business and settle down. She even got engaged and went back to school. After her recovery from pills, her fiancée suddenly left her and she again got the yearning to perform live. She moved back to San Francisco in 1966 and never looked back again.

Shortly after her return to the Bay area, Janis joined the band Big Brother And The Holding Company. The band, a psychedelic guitar band featured Joplin on lead vocals, and had four other members; Sam Andrew and James Gurley on guitar, Peter Albin on bass and David Getz on drums. At first Andrew also handled some of the lead vocals but it didn’t take long to see that Joplin was the band’s main kick and attraction. Their first self titled album was released on a minor label in 1967, but the sessions were too rushed and the production was poor. The album did contained a few powerful songs, including “Down on Me” and “Bye Bye Baby”, that when played live would sound so much better. It was at the Monterey Pop Festival where Janis made a name for Big Brother, but perhaps more so for herself. She blew the crowd away with her performance. Her stunning version of “Ball and Chain” was captured on film.

To say a star was born there was an understatement. But there were tensions within the band even before Monterey, and the fact that it was really only Janis that everyone wanted, did not play well with the rest of the band’s members. Their second album, Cheap Thrills, topped the charts in 1968, with the acid rock single “Piece Of My Heart” also a big hit. But Joplin quit the band shortly after its release, enticed by the prospects of stardom as a solo act.

Joplin’s first solo album was recorded with a band assembled just for her called The Kozmic Blues Band and included big Brothers’ lead guitar player Sam Andrew and also a horns section. “I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama!” sold well after its release and included one of her signature songs in “Try (Just A Little Bit Harder)”. But some fans did not care for the switch to soul-rock and again, like on the first Big Brother album, many of the songs sounded better live and many felt something was missing in the album’s production. The Kozmic Blues Band would not last too much longer.

In her personal life Janis was struggling. She became addicted to heroin while in Big Brother and would use the drug on and off from there on out. She also had a problem with alcohol and was known for drinking copious amounts of Southern Comfort daily. As far as the lifestyle of rock ‘n rollers goes – being known for sex and drugs, Janis was one of the first to live by that rule and seemed to embrace it. But deep down she wasn’t too happy. Those who knew her have said that even when she was at the height of her fame, she still spoke of her dream. Her dream was of finding the right man, settling down and raising a family in a small house far away from the madness of show business. Sadly that day would never come for her.

In early 1970 while off of the heroin, she formed a new backing band. The Full Tilt Boogie Band was a slimmed-down group compared to the Kozmic Blues Band. It featured John Till on guitar, Brad Campbell on bass, Richard Bell on piano, Ken Pearson on organ and Clark Pierson on the drums. This band was tight and just what Joplin needed. Finally the perfect fit for her music. They toured first with the Grateful Dead when she had a relationship of sorts with that band’s unofficial leader Ron “Pigpen” McKernan. Then they went to worked on their debut album. With Paul A. Rothschild producing, the sessions went great and Joplin’s voice was as strong as ever. Songs recorded included “Me And Bobby McGree”, “Cry Baby”, “Move Over” and “Half Moon”. On October 4 they were to record the final track for the album, “Buried Alive In The Blues” but Janis didn’t show for the session. She was found in her hotel room, dead, from a heroin overdose. The band recorded the track without her and it showed up on the album as an instrumental. Pearl was released posthumously that following December and was perhaps her best album. “Me And Bobby McGree” which Kris Kristofferson wrote for Janis to sing (but not about her), was a number one hit single in early 1971. The song starts out as a country rock number but ends as a almost upbeat pop tune. It would turn out to be the song most people would remember her by.

No other white woman sang the way Janis sang. She had one of the most powerful voices ever heard and to think how short her career and life was, is still today so very sad. I can’t help but think of all of the great music from Janis Joplin we never got to hear.

Born: January 19, 1943 in Port Arthur, TX, USA
Died: October 4, 1970 in Los Angeles, CA, USA
Years Performed: December, 1961 to October, 1970

Aug 162015

Freddie Mercury and Mary Austin“I lost somebody who I thought was my eternal love. When he died I felt we’d had a marriage. We’d lived our vows. We’d done it for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health. You could never have let go of Freddie unless he died – and even then it was difficult.”  – Mary Austin


Mary Austin was a woman who was the love and inspiration of one of Great Britain’s biggest celebrities. But she never tried to use that for her own personal gain or to take advantage of others. She grew up in a struggling working-class home in West London, where her father worked as a hand-trimmer for a wallpaper specialist and her mother was a maid. Under such circumstances, she had to grow up quickly. She dropped out of school at the age of 15 and became a receptionist, making a modest income. She moved up some shortly afterwords, when she got a job at Biba.

This was a very fashionable place, and the customers included some of the biggest celebrities of the time. She enjoyed it all. Then one night, she attended a rock concert at a nearby college. While there, she ran into a friendly acquaintance who worked nearby, Brian May. They hit it off and they began dating. The relationship was fun, but it never got serious and they broke up on friendly terms. May was a musician and was starting a band with some talented friends, and one day he introduced her to the band. Brian wanted to name the band Build Your Own Boat, which Mary supported. However, the majority of the band chose the name Queen. Though she wasn’t aware of it at the time, she attracted the infatuation of the group’s lead singer, a co-worker of May’s who called himself Freddie Mercury.

Mercury soon frequented the store she worked at and they became increasingly friendly. Six months later, he surprised her by asking her out on a date, which she accepted after some hesitation. Both were financially strapped, so they had to do things together that didn’t involve spending money. He was a flamboyant person in public, which she found intimidating, being a shy and unassuming person, herself. However, she eventually got to see the side of himself that he didn’t show others, a serious and quiet person who was mistrustful of others. They grew close and moved in together in 1973. Money was tight, but his band began to get some gigs and they were able to move into a larger apartment. One one occasions, he took her to a showcase at Eating College of Art. Mary was highly impressed by the quality of his work. So was everyone else there, and she knew then that he would go on to celebrity.

Feeling completely out of her element and ill-equipped for that rarefied world, she decided to end the relationship, but Mercury refused to let her go and pleaded that they were meant for each other. Reluctantly, she agreed to stay, but didn’t think he would stay interested in her. Mercury’s band Queen quickly took off and became one of the most popular bands, and Mercury had a presence on stage that commanded attention.

Mercury wrote a few songs about her, most notably “Love Of My Life.” However, he and Mary were beginning to grow apart and she suspected that something was now missing from the relationship. In 1980, he revealed to her that he had been increasingly unfaithful to her and that his partners were of his own gender. Being rather naive, she was astonished by that aspect of it, though she had long suspected that he had been unfaithful.

Shorty afterwords, she decided to move out and get her own place. However, although the break-up was hurtful, she wasn’t angry or bitter, and she took an apartment that was near their own place, and they remained close. He hired her to be the secretary to the the band’s publishing business, and she often toured with them, getting to see places and people she never imagined she’d see. She enjoyed it all, but never sought to cash in on it. She also began to have a life of her own outside the band, which Mercury wholeheartedly supported.

It all came crashing down for her in 1987, when he revealed to her that he had tested positive for the HIV virus. She was the first person he told, and she never repeated it to anyone through the remainder of his life. One of Mercury’s top priorities was making sure that Mary was financially secure, but she was interested in making sure he take care of his health. Mercury continued to perform off and on, but rumors about his health increased in the tabloid press.

Finally in 1991, his health deteriorated and he passed away near the end of that year at the age of 45. In the settling of his estate, Mary was left with the majority of his vast fortune, more than she expected.  Including in that was his palatial mansion, which she agreed to move in to. That turned out to be more complicated than expected, as the mansion had a large staff and the settling of Mercury’s estate took several months. After a period of mourning, Mary got on with her life and married. She also started a foundation in Mercury’s memory, and also continues to support Queen’s musical efforts. She continues to live quietly in the mansion, but occasionally grants interviews.

Mercury left her in charge of placing his ashes and never for no reason tell anyone where.

Aug 162015

Born: Johnny Allen Hendrix on November 27, 1942, in Seattle, WA, USA
Died: September 18, 1970 in London, England
Years Performed: 1963 – 1970

If there ever was a shooting star, it was Jimi Hendrix. In the four short years that he was a superstar, he did more with the electric guitar than any other guitarist before or after him ever would. He could get feedback to come out of his Fender Strat in ways nobody else could, and there truly hasn’t been a greater creative player as he built his solos around chord progressions, either. In showmanship he would play behind his back and with his teeth, and even set his guitar on fire as he made love to the instrument. But as some of his closest friends have noted, as great and as wild as he played live in front of thousands, his playing offstage to friends was decidely more awesome.

Jimi learned to play guitar at the age of 12, while growing up in Seattle, Washington, drawing influence from blues legends like B.B. King and Robert Johnson. At first he would play in local bands for Cokes and burgers. In 1959, at 17, he enlisted in the Air Force, where he served as a parachute jumper until an injury led to his discharge. By 1963 he was playing as a backup guitarist for the likes of Little Richard, the Isley Brothers, Wilson Pickett, Jackie Wilson and others. Though left handed, he used right handed model guitars and played them upside down.

He didn’t go it alone till 1965, after hearing Bob Dylan sing. He had held himself back up till that point, as he didn’t care for his own singing, but figured if Dylan could make it with his weird sounding voice, so could he. He first went by the name Jimmy James, his band was called the Blue Flames, and he first started playing the Blues in Greenwich Village, New York clubs. Word started to spread fast in town about this new guitarist, who could get sounds out of his Fender Stratocaster that no one had ever heard before. Rival guitar virtuoso Les Paul saw him playing a dump in New Jersey in 1965. Musicians from all over the City would stop in to see him play, and one of them, in town for a visit, was British bassist Chas Chandler of the Animals. Blown away like everybody else by what he heard, Chandler talked Hendrix into moving to England, where Chandler promised to make him a star.

In England, Chandler became Hendrix’s manager, had him go back to using his real name (which had been changed from Johnny Allen Hendrix, to James Marshall Hendrix by his father, when he was a boy). He also hooked him up with bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell, forming the Jimi Hendrix Experience. With both original material from Hendrix, and covers, they quickly became a hit in the UK, and were about to conquer the rest of the world, including America.

Jimi’s debut album with the Experience, titled Are You Experienced?, was released first only in England, in early 1967. This album showed that Hendrix was not only a great guitarist, but also a first-rate songwriter, and songs like “Purple Haze,” and “The Wind Cries Mary”, “Stone Free” etc. would all become top ten hits there. Later in June of ’67 he returned to America and played at the Monterey Pop Festival, (recommended by Paul McCarthey) where he had to follow the Who’s great performance. He watch Peter Townsend smash his guitar on stage, so to go one up on him, Hendrix closed out his set by burning his guitar. But it was his great mind blowing performance that day, that really was what would be remembered from that show, and in turn help make him a superstar. He first toured the US as a second-billed act to of all bands, the Monkees, but soon would tour on his own as an opener. Are You Experienced? was released in the US with some different cuts than what was found on the UK release, but still, it was a huge hit.

Hendrix would only record three fully conceived studio albums in his short lifetime, the other two being Axis: Bold as Love – his second album, released in 1968, and the double-LP Electric Ladyland, also recorded in ’68.

In early 1969 Jimi disbanded the Jimi Hendrix Experience. That May he was busted in Toronto, Canada, for heroin, but was later found innocent of the charges. In August of ’69 he closed out the Woodstock Festival with a temporary band he put together for the show, called the Electric Sky Church. There, his version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” would blew everybody away, the song had never been played in that style, nor would it ever again. After Woodstock, Hendrix formed a new band, The Band of Gypsies, with an old friend from the Air Force, Billy Cox, who played bass, and Buddy Miles on drums. The band’s New Year’s Eve concert at the Fillmore East in New York City provided them with material for their live album, Band of Gypsys. But this new lineup didn’t last long. In early 1970, the Experience re-formed again – only to disbanded once more a short time later. During this time Jimi was recording a lot of new material, but still no new studio album was planned, as he could not find the right group of musicians that he wanted to play and tour with. But by mid ‘ 70 Hendrix brought back Mitchell and Cox to back him on tour and to begin work on a new double album that Jimi had tentatively titled First Rays of the New Rising Sun. Several tracks were recorded for the new album, but sadly, the album was left unfinished when Hendrix died on September 18, 1970. The cause of death, noted on the coroner’s report was: “inhalation of vomit after barbiturate intoxication”.

Hendrix recorded a massive amount of unreleased studio material during his lifetime. Much of this (as well as entire live concerts) was issued posthumously. There were many claims placed on his estate, including one by his later to be legally recognized young son. After a lengthy legal dispute, the rights to Hendrix’s estate, including all of his recordings, was turned over to Al Hendrix, the guitarist’s father, in July of 1995. It was after this that many of the better posthumous albums were released, minus the 1970s overdubs use on some earlier releases. Hendrix’s family would also launched Dagger Records, an authorized bootleg label to supply hardcore fans with material that would be of limited commercial appeal, including several live concerts and a collection of studio jams and demos called Morning Symphony Ideas.

Even to this day, Jimi Hendrix is still rightfully known as the greatest player to ever lay his hands on a guitar, and I don’t think that will ever change.

Aug 312016

Pink FloydFormed: 1965 in Cambridge & London, England
Years Active: 1965 through 1983 & 1987 to 1995; 2005-
Group’s Main Members: Syd Barrett (passed 2006), Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Nick Mason, Rick Wright (passed 2008)

Most bands do not survive if their lead singer, chief song writer and leader leaves. But for Pink Floyd, this not only happened once, but twice and still they roll on. The origins of Pink Floyd developed at Cambridge High School in England in the early sixties. Syd Barrett, Roger Waters, and David Gilmour were all friends there and talked about forming a band. But after graduation Gilmour decided to go on to art school in London as Barrett wandered around the country side.

Waters meanwhile attended a architecture school in London where he met Nick Mason and Rick Wright. They formed a RNB band called Sigma 6. With Waters on guitar, Mason on the drums and Wright on keyboards, the band also consisted of bassist Clive Metcalfe and vocalist Juliette Gale (who later would marry Wright). That lineup didn’t last too long as Metcalfe and Gale left and Waters switched over to bass and Bob Close came on to play lead guitar. The band’s name changed several times and then Close quit. By the end of ’65, Waters, Mason and Wright joined up with Barrett who would become the band’s songwriter, lead guitar player and lead singer. He renamed the band Pink Floyd. He came up with the band’s name by juxtaposing the first names of Piedmont bluesman Floyd Council and South Carolina bluesman Pink Anderson. He noticed the names in the liner notes of a 1962 Blind Boy Fuller LP (Philips BBL-7512). The text, written by Paul Oliver, read: “Curley Weaver and Fred McMullen, (…) Pink Anderson or Floyd Council – these were a few amongst the many blues singers that were to be heard in the rolling hills of the Piedmont, or meandering with the streams through the wooded valleys.”

The Barrett era only lasted three years

Under Barrett’s guide Floyd would start out quite differently than the concept album kings they would later become known as. With their first two albums they were a psychedelic band. They recorded their first two songs in early ’66, one, Barrett’s “Lucy Leave” a combo RnB-pop song that got the band some attention. They began to play the London underground with experimental light shows and instrumental feedback that was still unheard of at the time. In early 1967 they signed with EMI Records and released their first single “Arnold Layne” which didn’t sound a lot like their live show, but nevertheless was a hit reaching the UK’s Top 20. Their next single “See Emily Play” was a even bigger hit and reached number 6 in June of ’67.

Later in ’67 their debut album The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn was released. The album did not contain their first two hit singles yet it became a Top Ten hit anyway. Many claimed it to be the greatest British psychedelic album next to the Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. It contained mostly Barrett penned songs that were far out experimental pop fantasies with lengthy riff-laden instrumental passages. With the album’s success they began to tour, first with Jimi Hendrix. But it was during the US tour where problems with Barrett started to show up. Syd was a truly gifted genius, but also just a step away from insanity. By this time he was a heavy LSD user and it started to take its toll on him. On the US tour he would start to play music out of the blue that wasn’t a part of the band’s set and at other gigs he would stand on stage and not play at all.

In interviews he would be incoherent. In late ’67 Floyd released a third single “Apples And Oranges” but two other recordings made at the time, “Vegetable Man” and “Scream Thy Last Scream”, were unsuitable for release and Barrett was at this stage too wasted to finish them properly. His fellow band members realizing they were about to see the band crash if they didn’t do something, hired their old high school friend David Gilmour as a fifth member in February of 1968. Gilmour was to take over the lead guitar. Plans would be for Barrett to stay in the band, but not play live any longer. However the five piece Floyd didn’t last long as Barrett’s mental instability grew worse and he left the band just two months later. With help from his former bandmembers, he did go on to record two somewhat successful solo albums shortly after his departure from the band, but then disappeared into oblivion, his mental problems totally taking over his life.

The Roger Waters Guidance

The new Pink Floyd would become even more of a hit. The next album Saucerful Of Secrets was still somewhat like the debut with one leftover Barrett song, “Jugband Blues”, but things would be changing. Waters took over most of the writing and lead vocals and Gilmour turned out to be an excellent guitarist, developing his own unique style of bending, hammering and harmonizing. The song ‘Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun’ was a clear sign of directional change. This hypnotic epic signposted the style the band would expand on in the Seventies, its vision at first more appreciated by an ‘intellectual’ and European audience, slowly conquering the masses across the Atlantic as well.

The band drew more than 100,000 fans for a free concert they did in London in ’69 and the next few albums showed a change in style with ’71’s Meddle getting the best of the reviews. Then in 1973 they released their first true masterpiece, Dark Side Of The Moon. The album would turn out to become one of rockmusic’s best selling albums, staying on the Billboard charts for more than a decade, while selling over 25 million copies. Waters’ writing was brilliant and the stereophonic sound effects had to make this album one of the best ever to listen to while wearing headphones and smoking herbs. Although Pink Floyd had been a big hit in England for years before Dark Side Of The Moon, it was this album that now made them superstars in the US and the rest of the rock world.

So how could the band follow up on their next album? Yes, it would take another monster effort and Waters and Company were up to it. Although it didn’t sell as many copies as Moon did, 1975’s Wish You Were Here was musically as great. Personally, this writer likes it even a bit more! The album’s songs blended together better than any other concept album. Wish You Were Here was dedicated to Floyd’s lost founder, Syd Barrett, especially the song “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” which was written entirely about him. Surprisingly during the album’s recording at Abbey Road studio, Barrett showed up to pay a visit. It was the first time anyone in the band had seen him since ’69.

The Divide Starts to Show

Their next album, Animals (1977) was another hit but not as well received and tensions were now starting to show in the band as members weren’t getting along and talk of a break-up was in the air. But in 1979 they released a double album, The Wall, it would go on to be their second biggest selling album. The tune “Another Brick In The Wall” would turn out to be their only number 1 single.

But relations within the band were getting worse. Waters and Wright hadn’t gotten along for years and Waters insisted on the band’s firing of Wright, which finally took place in 1980. Gilmour meanwhile was upset with Waters for the lack of credit he was given on The Wall and Mason took Gilmour’s side in the dispute. It didn’t seem there would be anymore new Floyd albums as the band seemed doomed, but to everybody’s surprise they released The Final Cut in 1983.

Truth being told, the album was more a solo project for Waters as Gilmour and Mason had little to do with it. Also with Wright gone now, little of the electronic innovation which was so typical on their previous albums showed on this one. The album was a disappointment to many. Shortly after its release the band split up. All the members did some solo albums and then in 1986 Gilmour and Mason decided to reform the band. Waters was totally against the whole deal claiming without him there could be no Pink Floyd and he went to court to stop his former band mates. He lost and in ’87 Gilmour and Mason joined up once again with Wright for the new Pink Floyd.

The second Coming of Pink Floyd

In 1987 they released the album A Momentary Lapse Of Reason which once again sounded like the old Pink Floyd.

With a bunch of session players helping out, this album may not have been as great as past Floyd albums, but still it was a terrific album. The band then hit the road for a successful world tour and the next year the live album Delicate Sound Of Thunder became a huge hit. The next studio album, 1994’s The Division Bell was a full group effort and once again held the band’s true sound. In ’95 they released yet another double live album, Pulse which also was very well received by fans.

Roger Waters revived himself successfully as well

Meanwhile Waters remained bitter towards his former mates and his solo career seemed to stall initially, until he revived The Wall in 1990 when he staged one of the largest and most extravagant rock concerts in history, The Wall – Live in Berlin, with an official attendance of 200,000.

As a member of Pink Floyd, Waters was inducted into the U.S. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005. That same year he released Ça Ira, an opera in three acts translated from Étienne and Nadine Roda-Gils’ libretto about the French Revolution. Later that year, on Saturday July 2, 2005, he reunited with Pink Floyd bandmates Mason, Wright and David Gilmour for the Live 8 global awareness event; it was the group’s first appearance with Waters since 1981.

He has toured extensively as a solo act since 1999 and played The Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety for his world tour of 2006–2008. In 2010, he began The Wall Live and in 2011 Gilmour and Mason appeared with him during a performance of the double-album in London. (Wright had passed away in 2008) As of 2013, the tour was the highest-grossing of all time by a solo artist.

Addendum 2 – In July, 2006, Syd Barrett passed away at the age of 60.

Addendum 3 – In September, 2008, Rick Wright passed away at the age of 65

Pink Floyd Timeline:

6 January 1967
Pink Floyd played ‘Freak Out Ethel’, a ‘happening’ at Seymour Hall, Paddington, West London. Eric Clapton and The Who’s Pete Townshend later claimed they’d been in the audience.

11 & 12 January 1967
Pink Floyd and producer Joe Boyd spent two days at Chelsea’s Sound Techniques Studios, recording and mixing Interstellar Overdrive and Nick’s Boogie for the Tonite Let’s All Make Love In London soundtrack.

13 January 1967
Pink Floyd, supported by The Giant Sun Trolley, played UFO, London. Film-maker Peter Whitehead recorded their performance. Some of the footage appeared in the video/DVD release Pink Floyd — London 1966-1967.

27 January 1967
Pink Floyd were filmed at UFO for a Granada TV documentary, ‘Scene Special’, which was broadcast on 7 March 1967.

29 January 1967
Arnold Layne and its B-side Candy And A Currant Bun were recorded at Chelsea’s Sound Techniques Studios.

28 February 1967
Pink Floyd signed to EMI Records.

1 March 1967
Recording session for Pink Floyd’s debut album, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, at Studio 3, Abbey Road Studios, London, with EMI producer Norman Smith. Songs worked on included Chapter 24 and Interstellar Overdrive.

10 March 1967
Pink Floyd’s debut single, Arnold Layne (B-side: Candy And A Currant Bun), was released in the UK, and reached No. 20 in the charts. The song was banned by BBC Radio London, who objected to the lyrics about a transvestite underwear thief.

21 March 1967
While recording in Studio 3 at Abbey Road, Pink Floyd were introduced to The Beatles, working on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

30 March 1967
Pink Floyd were filmed for an appearance on ‘Top Of The Pops’ at the BBC’s Lime Grove Studios in West London. The performance was never broadcast because Arnold Layne dropped three places in the charts the following week.

3 April 1967
Pink Floyd performed Candy And A Currant Bun and Arnold Layne for BBC Radio’s Light Programme, ‘Monday, Monday!’.

8 April 1967
Pink Floyd’s ongoing tour stopped off at London’s Roundhouse. Support acts included Sam Gopal.

30 April 1967
Pink Floyd performed at dawn at the ’14-Hour Technicolor Dream’ at London’s Alexandra Palace, sharing the bill with Soft Machine, The Pretty Things, and Social Deviants.

12 May 1967
Pink Floyd played the ‘Games For May — Space Age Relaxation For The Climax Of Spring’ concert at London’s prestigious Queen Elizabeth Hall. Here, they debuted a new musical gizmo which would later become known as the ‘Azimuth Co-ordinator’, a joystick-type device used to ‘pan’ the group’s sound around the venue. The band were immediately banned from ever playing the hall again after bubbles from a bubble machine and flowers distributed to the audience were blamed for staining the venue’s carpet and seats.

14 May 1867
Roger Waters and Syd Barrett were interviewed by musicologist Dr. Hans Keller for the BBC arts programme ‘The Look Of The Week’, which also included live performances of Pow R. Toc H.and Astronomy Dominé.

18 May 1967
Pink Floyd commenced recording their second single, See Emily Play, at Chelsea’s Sound Techniques Studios. Further sessions continued through May. David Gilmour, who was playing gigs in France with his own band, visited Floyd in the studio during a trip to London.

29 May 1967
Pink Floyd supported Cream and The Jimi Hendrix Experience at the Tulip Bulb Auction Hall, Spalding, Lincolnshire.

2 June 1967
Pink Floyd played UFO as part of a fund-raising gig for the club’s co-founder John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins, after his arrest for drug possession.

16 June 1967
See Emily Play (B-side: The Scarecrow) was released as a single in the UK and reached No. 6 in the charts.

6 July 1967
Pink Floyd made their live ‘Top Of The Pops’ TV debut performing See Emily Play at the BBC’s Lime Grove Studios, West London. The band appeared on the show on two further occasions in July.

24 July 1967
See Emily Play was released as a single in the US.

28 July 1967
Pink Floyd’s scheduled performance for the BBC’s ‘Saturday Club’ music programme was cancelled at the last minute when Syd Barrett walked out during the recording.

29 July 1967
Pink Floyd performed at the ‘International Love-In’ festival at London’s Alexandra Palace, sharing a bill with The Animals and Cream.

1 August 1967
Pink Floyd’s scheduled appearance on German TV’s ‘Beat Club’ was cancelled. The group’s managers explained: “Syd is tired and exhausted and has been advised to rest for two weeks”. Barrett took a holiday on the island of Formentera.

4 August 1967
Pink Floyd’s debut album The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn was released in the UK. The album reached No. 6 in the charts.

9 September 1967
Pink Floyd embarked on a five-date Scandinavian tour, beginning and ending in Denmark. The band’s set list included a new composition, Reaction In G.

9 October 1967
Recording ensued for Pink Floyd’s next album, A Saucerful Of Secrets, at De Lane Lea Studios, Holborn, London. Further sessions took place throughout October both here and at Abbey Road studios.

21 October
The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn was released in the US. It featured a different running order and a tracklisting which included the single See Emily Play. The album peaked at No. 131 in the charts.

4 November 1967
Pink Floyd made their US debut at San Francisco’s Winterland Auditorium supporting Big Brother And The Holding Company, featuring Janis Joplin.

6 November 1967
Pink Floyd released a US-only single, Flaming (B-side: The Gnome).

7 November 1967
Pink Floyd made their US TV debut, miming Apples And Oranges on the music programme ‘American Bandstand’.

14 November 1967
Pink Floyd began a 16-date UK tour, sharing the bill with Eire Apparent, The Outer Limits, The Move, The Nice, Amen Corner, and headliner The Jimi Hendrix Experience. When Syd Barrett went missing before a gig at Liverpool Empire he was replaced by The Nice’s guitarist ‘Davy’ O’List.

17 November 1967
The band’s third single Apples And Oranges (B-side: Paintbox) was released in the UK but failed to chart.

6 December 1967
Pink Floyd played London’s Royal College Of Art. David Gilmour was in the audience and was later asked to join the band.

12 December 1967
Pink Floyd were filmed at the North London home of their former landlord and occasional band member Mike Leonard for an edition of the popular science programme ‘Tomorrow’s World’, featuring Leonard’s sound and light experiments. The show was broadcast in January 1968.

22 December 1967
Pink Floyd played their final gig as a four-piece with Syd Barrett at London’s Olympia Exhibition Hall as part of the ‘Christmas On Earth Continued’ festival.


12 January 1968
Pink Floyd made their debut as a five-piece with Syd Barrett and David Gilmour at the University of Aston in Birmingham. This line-up performed together on at least three more occasions throughout the month.

26 January 1968
Pink Floyd played their first gig without Syd Barrett at Southampton University. They were supported by Tyrannosaurus Rex, featuring Marc Bolan.

1 February 1968
The band spent the day at Abbey Road studios working on what would become their second album, A Saucerful Of Secrets. Sessions had previously taken place with Syd Barrett and continued with David Gilmour throughout the rest of the month.

17 February 1968
Pink Floyd began a five-date tour of the Netherlands and Belgium. The trip also included a TV appearance for RTB in Brussels (performing new songs, Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun and Corporal Clegg, among others) and two performances for ORTV in Paris, including a mimed performance of the single B-side Paintbox.

1 March 1968
Pink Floyd’s partnership with management company Blackhill Enterprises was formally dissolved. The band acquired a new manager, Steve O’Rourke, who was initially employed by their booking agents, the Bryan Morrison Agency.

16 March 1968
Pink Floyd played London’s hippest nightspot, Middle Earth in Covent Garden. Syd Barrett was among the audience.

28 March 1968
Pink Floyd were filmed playing Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun for the BBC TV arts programme ‘Omnibus’. The documentary, about pop music and politics, was later released as a video/DVD entitled All My Loving.

4 April 1968
Pink Floyd began recording background music for the film noir The Committee, featuring former Manfred Mann singer Paul Jones.

19 April 1968
Pink Floyd’s debut single with David Gilmour, It Would Be So Nice (B-side: Julia Dream) was released in the UK but failed to chart.

6 May 1968
Pink Floyd were among the attractions at the ‘First European International Pop Festival’ in Rome, alongside Donovan, The Nice, and Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band.

13 May 1968
Syd Barrett began work on his debut solo album, The Madcap Laughs, at Abbey Road studios.

23 May 1968
Pink Floyd returned to the Netherlands for a further 12-date tour, including two nights at Amsterdam’s fabled hippie club The Paradiso. Their set list included new songs such as Let There Be More Light and A Saucerful Of Secrets.

27 May 1968
Recording sessions at Abbey Road continued for A Saucerful Of Secrets album.

12 June 1968
Pink Floyd played the May Ball at King’s College, Cambridge.

28 June 1968
Pink Floyd’s second album, A Saucerful Of Secrets was released in the UK and reaches No. 9 in the charts. The album sleeve was designed by Hipgnosis, a new company formed by the band’s friends Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey ‘Po’ Powell, who were paid £110 for their efforts.

29 June 1968
Pink Floyd headlined over Tyrannosaurus Rex, Jethro Tull, and Roy Harper at the ‘Midsummer High Weekend’ in London’s Hyde Park.

8 July 1968
Pink Floyd began a 22-date US tour, starting at Chicago’s Kinetic Playground and ending on 24 August at The Bank in Los Angeles.

19 July 1968
The soundtrack to Peter Whitehead’s film Tonite Let’s All Make Love In London, featuring Pink Floyd with Syd Barrett playing Interstellar Overdrive, was released in the UK.

26 September 1968
The Committee, featuring Pink Floyd’s music, premiered in London.

4 October 1968
Pink Floyd performed 10 dates in the UK and France, commencing at Mothers in Birmingham and ending at London’s Middle Earth on 26 October.

16 November 1968
Pink Floyd played their debut gig in Switzerland at Restaurant Olten-Hammer in Olten. The band played a further two shows in the country.

23 November 1968
Pink Floyd played London’s Regent Street Polytechnic, the alma mata of Roger Waters, Richard Wright and Nick Mason.

6 December 1968
Pink Floyd released a new single, Point Me At The Sky (B-side: Careful With That Axe, Eugene), in the UK. It failed to chart. The single was accompanied by a promo film of the band flying in a Tiger Moth aeroplane at Biggin Hill Aerodrome.

28 December 1968
Pink Floyd replaced advertised headliners The Jimi Hendrix Experience at the ‘Flight To Lowlands Paradise II’ festival in Utrecht, Netherlands.


10 January 1969
Jimi Hendrix pulled out of a planned gig at London’s Fishmonger’s Arms (as a warm-up for his Royal Albert Hall shows) and was replaced by Pink Floyd.

1 February 1969
Pink Floyd commenced work at London’s Pye Studios on the soundtrack to the French art-house movie More, directed by Barbet Schroeder.

14 February 1969
Pink Floyd’s 21-date UK tour began with a Valentine’s Day Ball at Loughborough University and ended at St. James’ Church Hall, Chesterfield. Support bands included The Moody Blues, Spooky Tooth, and Gandalf’s Garden. Floyd also performed one show in France.

10 March 1969
Syd Barrett restarted work at Abbey Road studios on his first solo album, The Madcap Laughs.

14 April 1969
Pink Floyd played ‘The Massed Gadgets of Auximines — More Furious Madness from Pink Floyd’ at London’s Royal Festival Hall. The band premiered two lengthy new compositions, provisionally titled The Man and The Journey, parts of which later appeared as Biding My TimeGrantchester Meadows and Green Is The Colour.

27 April 1969
Pink Floyd played Mothers in Birmingham. DJ John Peel’s review of the gig (“sounding like dying galaxies lost in sheer corridors of time and space”) was rewarded with a mention in the ‘Pseud’s Corner’ column of the satirical Private Eye magazine. Part of the band’s performance of A Saucerful Of Secrets and Astronomy Dominé were included on Floyd’s next album, Ummagumma.

15 May 1969
Pink Floyd’s 12-date UK tour began at Leeds Town Hall and ended on 23 June at Manchester’s Free Trade Hall. The tour included a benefit show at London’s Roundhouse for the band Fairport Convention, following the death of their drummer Martin Lamble in a road crash.

31 May 1969
The film More, complete with Pink Floyd’s soundtrack, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. The film was never released in the UK.

13 June 1969
Pink Floyd’s Soundtrack From The Film More was released in the UK and reached No. 9 in the charts. Tracklisting: Cirrus Minor; The Nile Song; Crying Song; Up The Khyber; Green Is The Colour; Cymbaline; Party Sequence; Main Theme; Ibiza Bar; More Blues; Quicksilver; A Spanish Piece; Dramatic Theme.

23 June 1969
Pink Floyd completed some of the final mixes for Ummagumma. The album contained two vinyl sides of live material and two sides of solo compositions by each of the band members that were recorded intermittently at Abbey Road since March 1969.

26 June 1969
Pink Floyd played ‘The Final Lunacy!’ show at London’s Royal Albert Hall. The show featured the Ealing Central Amateur Choir conducted by Floyd’s producer Norman Smith and performance art pieces that included a roadie dressed as a gorilla and band members sawing planks of wood on stage.

20 July 1969
Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first men to walk on the moon. Pink Floyd performed a live improvised jam (later titled Moonhead) in the BBC TV studios to accompany the moonlanding documentary ‘So What If It’s Just Green Cheese?’, which also featured actors Ian McKellan and Judi Dench.

8 August 1969
Pink Floyd appeared at the ‘National Jazz Pop Ballads & Blues Festival’ at Plumpton Race Track. Also on the bill: Roy Harper; and The Who.

9 August 1969
Pink Floyd’s Soundtrack From The Film More was released in the US, but failed to chart.

17 September 1969
Pink Floyd began a nine-date tour of the Netherlands and Belgium, which started in Amsterdam and ended in Brussels.

25 October 1969
Pink Floyd’s performance at the ‘Actuel Festival’ in Amougies, Belgium, was filmed for a TV documentary entitled ‘Music Power’. Compere Frank Zappa joined the band on stage for a rendition of Interstellar Overdrive.

7 November 1969
Ummagumma was released in the UK and reached No. 4 in the UK charts. The album was released a day later in the US and reached No. 74. Tracklisting: Astronomy Dominé; Careful With That Axe, Eugene; Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun; A Saucerful Of Secrets (recorded live at Mothers in Birmingham and Manchester College Of Commerce); Sysiphus, Parts 1-4; Grantchester Meadows; Several Species Of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together In a Cave And Grooving With A Pict; The Narrow Way; The Grand Vizier’s Garden Party.

15 November 1969
Pink Floyd commenced recording in Rome for the soundtrack to director Michelangelo Antonioni’s counter-culture movie Zabriskie Point, and completed the sessions at Abbey Road in January 1970.


2 January 1970
Syd Barrett’s debut solo album, The Madcap Laughs, was released in the UK, and reached No. 40 in the charts. Tracklisting: Terrapin; No Good Trying; Love You; No Man’s Land; Dark Globe; Here I Go; Octopus; Golden Hair; Long Gone; She Took A Long Cold Look; Feel; If It’s In You; Late Night.

10 January 1970
Pink Floyd began a 16-date UK and French tour, commencing at University of Nottingham and ending at Leeds University on 28 February. The tour included two gigs in Paris, and the set list included an early version of the piece later known as Atom Heart Mother.

1 March 1970
The band began a week-long recording session at London’s Abbey Road studios.

6 March 1970
Pink Floyd were filmed playing for the BBC arts programme ‘Line Up’.

11 March 1970
Pink Floyd’s eight-date European tour began at Stadthalle, Offenbach, West Germany, and ended on 21 March at Tivolis Konzertsal in Copenhagen, Denmark. The set list included Atom Heart Mother.

18 March 1970
Michelangelo Antonioni’s counter-culture movie Zabriskie Point was premiered in New York.

9 April 1970
Pink Floyd’s 18-date US tour commenced at New York’s Filmore East and ended at New Orleans’ Warehouse after the final two scheduled shows in Houston and Dallas were cancelled. The tour included an hour-long live performance filmed by the PBS TV Network in San Francisco.

29 May 1970
The soundtrack to Zabriskie Point was released in the UK, and failed to chart. The tracklisting included three previously unreleased Pink Floyd songs: Come In Number 51 Your Time Is Up; Crumbling Land; and Heart Beat Pig Meat.

27 June 1970
Pink Floyd headlined the second night of the ‘Bath Festival Of Blues & Progressive Music’. Their late-night set included Atom Heart Mother, which is introduced to the audience under the title of ‘The Amazing Pudding’. The band were augmented by The John Aldiss Choir and The Philip Jones Brass Ensemble. One of the brass players later recalled accidentally spilling a pint of beer into their tuba before the performance began.

28 June 1970
Pink Floyd appeared at the Holland Pop Festival in Rotterdam, arriving on stage at 4am.

18 July 1970
Pink Floyd headlined ‘Blackhill’s Garden Party’, a free concert organised by the band’s former managers Peter Jenner and Andrew King, in London’s Hyde Park. The band were, again, joined by The Philip Jones Brass Ensemble and The John Aldiss Choir; tracks played included Atom Heart Mother and Careful With That Axe, Eugene.

26 July 1970
Pink Floyd, their crew, friends and families rented a villa in St Tropez. The band were scheduled to play a handful of festivals in France, but many were cancelled due to civil unrest. Their final date took place on 12 August at a Roman amphitheatre in St Raphael, France.

26 September 1970
Pink Floyd’s North American tour began at Philadelphia’s Electric Factory and ended on 25 October at the Boston Tea Party.

2 October 1970
Pink Floyd’s fourth studio album Atom Heart Mother was released in the UK, and reached No. 1 in the charts. Tracklisting: Atom Heart Mother; If; Summer ’68; Fat Old Sun; Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast. The name of the cow on the album’s front cover was Lulubelle III.

10 October 1970
Atom Heart Mother was released in the US and reached No. 55 in the charts.

6 November 1970
Pink Floyd returned to Europe for a 13-date tour of Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, Germany, and Switzerland.

14 November 1970
Syd Barrett’s second solo album, Barrett, produced by David Gilmour and Richard Wright, was released in the UK, but fails to chart. Tracklisting: Baby Lemonade; Love Song; Dominoes; It Is Obvious; Rats; Maisie; Gigolo Aunt; Waving My Arms In The Air; I Never Lied To You; Wined And Dined; Wolfpack; Effervescing Elephant.

11 December 1970
Pink Floyd finished the year with a six-date UK tour beginning at Brighton’s Regent Theatre and ending on 22 December at Sheffield City Hall.


4 January 1971
Pink Floyd began a week-long stint at Abbey Road studios, with engineers John Leckie and Peter Bown, recording ideas for their next album, Meddle.

23 January 1971
Pink Floyd began a five-date tour of the UK’s university circuit, beginning at Leeds University and ending at Queen Mary College, Twickenham.

22 February 1971
Pink Floyd’s European tour commenced at Halle Munsterland, Munster, West Germany. The second half of the gig was nearly cancelled when the band discovered that the musical score for Atom Heart Mother (needed by their brass section) had been left behind in Dusseldorf.

8 April 1971
Pink Floyd returned to Abbey Road for a week’s recording session. Further recording sessions took place throughout the month.

14 May 1971
A Pink Floyd compilation album Relics was released in the UK, and reached No. 32 in the charts. Tracklisting: Arnold Layne; Interstellar Overdrive; See Emily Play; Remember A Day; Paintbox; Julia Dream; Careful With That Axe, Eugene; Cirrus Minor; The Nile Song; Biding My Time; Bike.

15 May 1971
Pink Floyd headlined ‘The Garden Party’ at London’s Crystal Palace Bowl, playing to an audience of 15,000. The band’s party-piece included the appearance of a large inflatable octopus in the lake in front of the stage.

4 June 1971
Pink Floyd’s six-date European tour commenced in Dusseldorf, West Germany, and ended on 20 June in Rome, Italy. The Rome date marked the last time the band performed Astronomy Dominé LIVE until 1994’s The Division Bell tour.

22 June 1971
Pink Floyd’s scheduled appearance at the ‘Glastonbury Fayre’ at Worthy Farm failed to take place because the band’s equipment was delayed in Europe.

17 July 1971
Relics was released in the US, and reached No. 153 in the charts.

19 July 1971
Pink Floyd decamped from Abbey Road to North London’s Morgan Sound studios to continue work on Meddle, including final mixes for the track Echoes.

6 August 1971
Pink Floyd played their debut gig in Japan at Hakone, on a festival bill that also included the 1910 Fruit Gum Company and Buffy Sainte Marie.

13 August 1971
Floyd made their Australian debut at the Melbourne Festival Hall. Part of the band’s performance at Sydney’s Randwick Racecourse on 15 August was filmed for an Australian TV show.

30 September 1971
Pink Floyd’s performance at London’s Paris Theatre was recorded for BBC Radio One’s ‘Sounds Of The ’70s’ show.

4 October 1971
Pink Floyd began four days of filming at the Roman amphitheatre in Pompeii. The film, directed by Adrian Maben, and eventually titled Pink Floyd: Live At Pompeii, went on general release in the UK in 1972.

15 October 1971
Pink Floyd began a 27-date North American tour at San Francisco’s Winterland Auditorium, ending at Cincinnati Ohio’s Taft Auditorium. The set list included their epic new composition Echoes.

30 October 1971
Pink Floyd’s album Meddle was released in the US, a week ahead of the UK. It reached No. 70 in the charts.

5 November 1971
Pink Floyd’s Meddle was released in the UK and reached No. 3 in the charts. Tracklisting: One Of These Days; A Pillow Of Winds; Fearless; San Tropez; Seamus; Echoes.

29 November 1971
Pink Floyd spent two weeks at Decca Studios in West Hampstead, writing and recording ideas for a new piece with the working title of ‘Eclipse’.

13 December 1971
Pink Floyd undertook a week of additional filming and recording in Paris for what became Live At Pompeii.


3 January 1972
Pink Floyd began two weeks of gig rehearsals at the Rolling Stones’ rehearsal facility in Bermondsey, South London.

17 January 1972
Pink Floyd spent three days in production rehearsals at London’s Rainbow Theatre. The band road-tested not only a brand new PA but also a new piece of music, titled The Dark Side Of The Moon, which they had been working on intermittently at Abbey Road.

20 January 1972
What should have been the live debut of The Dark Side Of The Moon at Brighton’s The Dome was cut short when technical problems led to the band abandoning the piece mid-way through the song Money. After a break, the group completed the gig with performances of: Atom Heart Mother; Careful With That Axe, Eugene; One Of These Days; Echoes. The encore was A Saucerful Of Secrets.

21 January 1972
Pink Floyd played 16 UK dates, featuring full performances of a work-in progress version of The Dark Side Of The Moon. The tour culminated with four nights at London’s Rainbow Theatre.

23 February 1972
Pink Floyd began a week-long recording session at Château d’Hérouville studios near Paris, working on music for the soundtrack to More director Barbet Schroeder’s next film, La Vallée.

6 March 1972
Pink Floyd began a whistle-stop tour of Japan beginning in Tokyo and ending on 13 March in Sapporo. Their set list included The Dark Side Of The Moon.

23 March 1972
The band spent four days completing the soundtrack to La Vallée at Château d’Hérouville. During downtime, Pink Floyd roadie Chris Adamson was challenged by Roger Waters to eat a stone (14lbs) of raw potatoes in one sitting. Waters later said that the stunt was abandoned after Adamson had consumed “around two and a half pounds”.

6 April 1972
Pink Floyd finished mixing the soundtrack to La Vallée, now called Obscured By Clouds, at London’s Morgan Studios.

14 April 1972
Pink Floyd’s 17-date US tour commenced at Fort Homer Hesterly Armory Auditorium in Tampa, Florida, and ended on 4 May at the Music Hall in Boston, Massachusetts.

21 May 1972
Pink Floyd headlined the second day of the three-day ‘2nd British Rock Meeting’ festival in Germersheim, West Germany. Other bands on the bill included The Kinks, The Faces, and Status Quo.

24 May 1972
Pink Floyd began a month-long recording session at Abbey Road. At this point, working titles for the songs that would make up The Dark Side Of The Moon included Travel (instead of Breathe), Religion (instead of The Great Gig In The Sky) and Lunatic (instead of Brain Damage).

2 June 1972
Obscured By Clouds was released in the UK, where it reached No. 6 in the charts. Tracklisting: Obscured By Clouds; When You’re In; Burning Bridges; The Gold It’s In The…; Wot’s… Uh The Deal; Mudmen; Free Four; Stay; Absolutely Curtains. The final track, Absolutely Curtains, included a vocal performance from members of the Mapuga Tribe of New Guinea.

17 June 1972
Obscured By Clouds is released in the US, where it reached No. 42 in the charts.

28 June 1972
Pink Floyd played the first of two shows at Brighton’s Dome, as a replacement for the abandoned show in January.

29 August 1972
La Vallée (Obscured By Clouds) is premiered at the Venice International Film Festival.

2 September 1972
Pink Floyd Live At Pompeii premieres at 26th Edinburgh Film Festival in Scotland.

8 September 1972
Pink Floyd returned to the US for a 17-date American and Canadian tour, opening at Austin, Texas’ Municipal Auditorium and ending with a matinee and evening performance at Vancouver’s Gardens Arena.

21 October 1972
Pink Floyd played a benefit gig for the ‘War On Want’ and ‘Save The Children’ charities, performing The Dark Side Of The Moon and More at the Empire Pool, Wembley.

10 November 1972
Pink Floyd’s seven-date European tour included five performances in Marseille, France. Here, the band accompanied choreographer Roland Petit’s Ballets de Marseille dance company, performing the four-movement Pink Floyd Ballet (featuring: One Of These Days; Careful With That Axe, Eugene; Obscured By Clouds; When You’re In; Echoes).

25 November 1972
The cinematic premiere of Pink Floyd Live At Pompeii, which was due to take place at London’s Rainbow Theatre, was cancelled, partly because the theatre’s owners discovered that the film had not yet been granted a certificate by the British Board Of Film Censors.

28 November 1972
Pink Floyd returned to France for a further nine shows, opening and closing at Toulouse’s Palais Des Sports.


21 January 1973
Session singer Clare Torry recorded her vocal for the song The Great Gig In The Sky at Abbey Road. The song was included on Pink Floyd’s next album, The Dark Side Of The Moon. Work continued on the album at Abbey Road throughout the month.

12 February 1973
Pink Floyd played the first of eight performances with Roland Petit’s Ballets de Marseille at the Palais des Sports in Paris. They performed One Of These DaysCareful With That Axe, EugeneObscured By CloudsWhen You’re In and Echoes to accompany Roland Petit’s choreographed ballet.

19 February 1973
Pink Floyd staged three days of full production rehearsals at London’s Rainbow Theatre in preparation for their forthcoming North American tour.

27 February 1973
EMI held a press reception for The Dark Side Of The Moon at the London Planetarium. Only Richard Wright attended the event; the other band members refused in protest at what they believed to be an inferior sound system brought in by EMI.

4 March 1973
Pink Floyd began a 16-date US tour at Dane County Memorial Coliseum in Madison, Wisconsin. The band were joined by saxophonist Dick Parry and backing vocalists Nawasa Crowder, and Phyllis and Mary Ann Lindsey. Their set list featured the whole of The Dark Side Of The Moonplus Obscured By CloudsWhen You’re In and Careful With That Axe, Eugene, with an encore of One Of These Days. The tour closed at Atlanta’s Municipal Auditorium, when the US promoter cancelled a scheduled show in Florida believing that a Santana show in town would drastically reduce Pink Floyd’s audience.

10 March 1973
The Dark Side Of The Moon was released in the US. Tracklisting: Speak To Me; Breathe (In The Air); On The Run; Time; The Great Gig In The Sky; Money; Us And Them; Any Colour You Like; Brain Damage; Eclipse. The album gave Pink Floyd their first No. 1 chart placing.

23 March 1973
The Dark Side Of The Moon was released in the UK. It reached No. 2 in the charts.

7 May 1973
Money (B-side: Any Colour You Like) was released in the US as a single and reached No. 13 in the charts.

18 & 19 May 1973
Pink Floyd played two nights at Earls Court Exhibition Hall, with additional personnel Dick Parry on saxophones and backing vocalists Liza Strike and Vicki Brown (mum of solo artist and future Floyd backing singer Sam Brown). The set list included the whole of The Dark Side Of The Moon.

16 June 1973
Pink Floyd returned to the US for their second American tour of the year. They played 13 shows, starting at New York’s Saratoga Performing Arts Center and ending at Florida’s Tampa Stadium. The band set a new record gross at New Jersey’s Roosevelt Stadium by making $110,565 for a single performance.

1 October 1973
Pink Floyd began an intermittent 20 days of recording at Abbey Road studios, working on what became known as the ‘Household Objects Project’. The group, assisted by engineer Alan Parsons, used elastic bands, wine glasses, matchsticks and sticky tape in place of conventional instruments to make music.

4 November 1973
Pink Floyd played two shows at London’s Rainbow Theatre, as a benefit for ex-Soft Machine drummer Robert Wyatt.

5 December 1973
The Australian cult surf movie Crystal Voyager premiered in Melbourne. The film featured Pink Floyd’s Echoes as part of its soundtrack.


18 January 1974
Pink Floyd’s first two albums, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn and A Saucerful Of Secrets, were re-issued as a double LP package titled A Nice Pair. It reached No. 21 in the UK and No. 36 in the US.

4 February 1974
Time (B-side: Us And Them) was released as a promotional single in the US.

18 June 1974
Pink Floyd began a seven-date French tour, starting at the Parc des Expositions in Toulouse and ending at the Palais Des Sports in Paris. Their set list included The Dark Side Of The Moon and two new compositions, an early version of Shine On You Crazy Diamond and Raving And Drooling. It also marked Pink Floyd’s first use of a circular projection screen, which became a trademark of all future shows.

20 July 1974
Syd Barrett’s solo albums, The Madcap Laughs and Barrett, were released in the US as a double package entitled Syd Barrett. The album reached No. 163 in the charts.

4 November 1974
Pink Floyd’s 20-date ‘British Winter Tour’ began at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall and ended at Bristol’s Hippodrome. The tour included four nights at London’s Wembley Empire Pool, London, one of which was broadcast on BBC Radio One. The amended set list included a third new composition, You’ve Got To Be Crazy. The tour programme, titled ‘The Pink Floyd Super All-Action Official Music Programme for Boys and Girls’, was printed as a comic and featured a band portrait by Gerald Scarfe and cartoon strips of the band members depicted as their alter egos ‘Rog Of The Rovers’, ‘Captain Mason R.N.’, ‘Rich Right’ and ‘Dave Derring’.

8 November 1974
The Syd Barrett double-LP repackage of The Madcap Laughs and Barrett was released in the UK.


6 January 1975
Pink Floyd began an intermittent three months of recording at Abbey Road studios for their next album, Wish You Were Here.

8 April 1975
The first 14 dates of Floyd’s North American Tour began at Vancouver’s Pacific National Exhibition Coliseum. The band were joined on stage by additional personnel: saxophonist Dick Parry, and backing singers Carlena Williams and Venetta Fields.

5 May 1975
Pink Floyd reconvened at Abbey Road for a month-long recording session on Wish You Were Here. Their former lead singer and guitarist Syd Barrett showed up, unannounced, in the studio during one of these sessions.

7 June 1975
The North American Tour continued with a further 15 dates, beginning at Atlanta Stadium, Georgia, and closing at the Ivor Wynne Stadium in Hamilton, Ontario. The band’s crew detonated an extra amount of pyro at the end of the Hamilton show, damaging the sports arena’s scoreboard and blowing out glass in neighbouring houses.

5 July 1975
Pink Floyd headlined Knebworth Park in Stevenage, Hertfordshire. Support came from the Steve Miller Band, Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band, Linda Lewis, and Roy Harper, who joined Floyd on stage as guest vocalist on a brand new song, Have A Cigar. The set list for the show was: Raving And Drooling; You’ve Got To Be Crazy; Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Parts 1-5; Have A Cigar; Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Parts 6-9; The Dark Side Of The Moon; Echoes.

7 July 1975
Pink Floyd continued three weeks of recording and mixing at Abbey Road studios.

12 September 1975
Pink Floyd’s new album, Wish You Were Here, was released in the UK. Tracklisting: Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Parts 1-5; Welcome To The Machine; Have A Cigar; Wish You Were Here; Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Parts 6-9. The album reached No. 1 in the UK.

13 September 1975
Wish You Were Here was released in the US, where it reached No. 1.


1976 Pink Floyd began eight months of continuous recording on their next album, Animals. The recording took place at their own studio facility, Britannia Row, in North London.

2, 3 & 4 December 1976
Album sleeve designers Hipgnosis arranged a three-day photo shoot at London’s Battersea Power Station. With a concept suggested by Roger Waters, the team photographed a 40ft helium-filled inflatable pig floating above the power station for the cover of the new Floyd album, Animals. On the first day, the marksman who had been hired to shoot down the pig if it escaped its mooring ropes was not needed, but it took so long to inflate the pig that the photographers could only get coverage of the building. On the second day the pig was installed but broke free and sailed away; the marksman hadn’t been rehired so it escaped, coming down in Kent. On the third day, Hipgnosis got their shot, but the final cover was a composite of Day 3 pig and Day 1 location.


19 January 1977
Pink Floyd’s new album, Animals, was played at a press launch held at Battersea Power Station.

21 January 1977
Animals was released in the UK. Tracklisting: Pigs On The Wing, Part 1; Dogs; Pigs (Three Different Ones); Sheep; Pigs On The Wing, Part 2. The album reached No. 2 in the charts.

23 January 1977
Pink Floyd’s 20-date European tour commenced at Dortmund’s Westfalenhalle and ended at Munich’s Olympiahalle. The band were joined by additional musicians: Dick Parry on saxophone and Terence ‘Snowy’ White on guitar and bass. Their stage show now featured a giant inflatable pig, suspended by a steel cable for indoor gigs; animated sequences designed by illustrator and satirical cartoonist Gerald Scarfe; and an inflatable ‘nuclear family’ of wife, husband and 2.5 children on a sofa, designed by Mark Fisher and Jonathan Park, who both went on to work on the Wall live production. The setlist now included: Sheep; Pigs On The Wing, Part 1; Dogs; Pigs On The Wing, Part 2; Pigs (Three Different Ones); Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Parts 1-5; Welcome To The Machine; Have A Cigar; Wish You Were Here; Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Parts 6-9; Money.

12 February 1977
Animals was released in the US and reached No. 3 in the charts.

15 March 1977
Pink Floyd’s nine-date UK tour kicked off at Wembley Empire Pool, and closed with four nights at Stafford Bingley Hall.

22 April 1977
Pink Floyd — In The Flesh North American tour opened at Miami Baseball Stadium and ended at Portland Memorial Coliseum on 12 May. The set list remained the same as in Europe, with an occasional encore of Us And Them and a one-off extra encore of Careful With That Axe, Eugene at California’s Oakland Coliseum.

15 June 1977
The second leg of the In The Flesh tour commenced at Milwaukee’s County Stadium and closed on 6 July at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium. The tour included a four-night stand at New York’s Madison Square Garden. The set list remained the same as in Europe. The crowd was so rowdy on the tour’s last night that Roger Waters, having reacted strongly to provocation, considers the relationship of rock stars to their audience and begins to construct the Wall project, which became Pink Floyd’s next album.


26 May 1978

David Gilmour’s debut solo album, David Gilmour, was released.
The album featured musicians from David’s pre-Floyd group Jokers Wild, bass guitarist Rick Wills and drummer John ‘Willie’ Wilson. The album was mostly recorded at Super Bear Studios, France, after Pink Floyd’s In The Flesh tour.

September 1978
Roger Waters began demoing ideas for the next Pink Floyd album, The Wall, and what became his next solo album, The Pros And Cons Of Hitch Hiking, at Britannia Row studios.

22 September 1978
Richard Wright released his first solo album, Wet Dream. The album was recorded at Super Bear Studios, France, between January and February 1978, and featured, among others, saxophonist Mel Collins and Floyd’s touring guitarist Snowy White.


January 1979
Pink Floyd began seven months of intermittent recording at Super Bear Studios and Studio Miraval in France on their next album, The Wall.

6 July 1979
Pink Floyd XI, a limited edition vinyl box set containing all of their albums to date, was released in the UK.

1 September 1979
Two months of work began on The Wall at New York’s CBS Studios with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor/arranger Michael Kamen. Floyd later work on The Wall at Los Angeles’ Cherokee Studios and Producer’s Workshop.

1 November 1979
Pink Floyd began a week’s recording and mixing at The Producers’ Workshop in Los Angeles.

23 November 1979
Pink Floyd’s single Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2 (B-side: One Of My Turns) was released in the UK. It was the group’s first UK single since Point Me At The Sky in 1968, and spent four weeks at No. 1 in the charts.

30 November 1979
Pink Floyd’s new album, The Wall, was released in the UK. Tracklisting: In The Flesh?; The Thin Ice; Another Brick In The Wall, Part 1; The Happiest Days Of Our Lives; Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2; Mother; Goodbye Blue Sky; Empty Spaces; Young Lust; One Of My Turns; Don’t Leave Me Now; Another Brick In The Wall, Part 3; Goodbye Cruel World; Hey You; Is There Anybody Out There; Nobody Home; Vera; Bring The Boys Back Home; Comfortably Numb; The Show Must Go On; In The Flesh; Run Like Hell; Waiting For The Worms; Stop; The Trial; Outside The Wall. It reached No. 3 in the charts.

8 December 1979
The Wall was released in the US and reached No. 1 in the charts.


January 1980
Pink Floyd began three weeks of rehearsals for The Wall live shows. The musicians’ rehearsals took place at Leeds Studios in Hollywood, and rehearsals for the show itself were held at MGM Studios in Los Angeles.

21 January 1980
Pink Floyd and crew commenced three solid weeks of full production rehearsals for The Wall at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena in Los Angeles.

7 February 1980
Pink Floyd played the first of seven consecutive nights at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. The show comprised The Wall album in its entirety plus an additional instrumental titled The Last Few Bricks. The band were supplemented on stage by ‘The Surrogate Band’ made up of Andy Bown (bass guitar), Snowy White (guitar), Peter Wood (keyboards), John ‘Willie’ Wilson (drums), backing vocalists John Joyce, Joe Chemay, Jim Haas, Stan Farber, and MCs Cynthia Fox (for the first four shows), Ace Young (on 8 February) and Jim Ladd (on 10 and 11 February). The stage set comprised 450 foldable cardboard bricks which constructed a wall 33ft high and 260ft wide, plus animated projections, inflatables and a replica Stuka dive bomber. The first night’s show suffered a temporary delay when a stage curtain caught fire during the first number.

16 February 1980
Pink Floyd started a week of rehearsals at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in New York.

24 February 1980
Pink Floyd’s The Wall was staged on five consecutive nights at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The MC for all nights was ‘Saturday Night Live’ comedian/impressionist Gary Yudman.

9 June 1980
Run Like Hell (B-side: Don’t Leave Me Now) was released as a single in the US. It reached No. 53 in the charts.

4 August 1980
Pink Floyd staged The Wall for six consecutive nights at London’s Earls Court Exhibition Hall.


13 February 1981
The Wall was performed live for eight consecutive nights at Wesfalenhalle in Dortmund, West Germany. Snowy White joined Thin Lizzy and was replaced by Roy Harper’s touring guitarist Andy Roberts. The MC was German actor Willi Thomczyk.

13 June 1981
The Wall was staged for a further six nights at Earls Court, specifically for the filming of a planned movie of The Wall. Gary Yudman was reinstalled as MC, and Nick Mason’s drum tech Clive Brooks took over from surrogate band member Willie Wilson for the first night after Willie was taken ill.

21 November 1981
Pink Floyd released the compilation album A Collection Of Great Dance Songs in the US. Tracklisting: One of These Days; Money; Sheep; Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Parts 1-9; Wish You Were Here; Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2. It reached No. 31 in the charts.

23 November 1981
A Collection Of Great Dance Songs was released in the UK, and reached No. 37 in the charts.

1 May 1981
Nick Mason’s solo album, Fictitious Sports, was released in the UK and US.


23 May 1982
Pink Floyd’s The Wall film premiered at the 35th Cannes Film Festival in the South of France.

July 1982
Pink Floyd began five months of intermittent recording on their next album, The Final Cut. The sessions took place at various studios, including Abbey Road, Olympic, Mayfair, RAK, Eel Pie, Audio International, and David Gilmour’s home studio, Hookend, and Roger Waters’ home studio, The Billiard Room. The band were minus Richard Wright, but worked with additional musicians: Michael Kamen and Andy Bown (keyboards); Raphael Ravenscroft (sax); Ray Cooper (percussion); Andy Newmark (drums); and the National Philharmonic Orchestra.

26 July 1982
Pink Floyd released a single, When The Tigers Broke Free (B-side: Bring The Boys Back Home), in the UK and US. The single charted in the UK at No. 39. The song featured on the movie of The Wall, but did not appear on any Pink Floyd album until the 2001 compilation, Echoes.


21 March 1983
The Final Cut was released in the UK. Tracklisting: The Post War Dream; Your Possible Pasts; One Of The Few; The Hero’s Return; The Gunner’s Dream; Paranoid Eyes; Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert; The Fletcher Memorial Home; Southampton Dock; The Final Cut; Not Now John; Two Suns In The Sunset. It reached No. 1 in the charts.

2 April 1983
The Final Cut was released in the US, where it reached No. 6 in the charts.

3 May 1983
Not Now John (B-side: The Hero’s Return, Parts 1 & 2 was released as a single in the UK. It reached No. 30 in the charts.


13 February 1984
David Gilmour released a solo single, Blue Light (B-side: Cruise), in the UK and US.

5 March 1984
David Gilmour’s solo album, About Face, was released in the UK and a day later in the US.

12 March 1984
Zee, a duo comprising Richard Wright and ex-Fashion guitarist Dave ‘Dee’ Harris, released their debut single, Confusion (B-side: Eyes Of A Gypsy) in the UK.

31 March 1984
David Gilmour began a 22-date UK and European tour at Dublin’s National Stadium, which included three nights at London’s Hammersmith Odeon.

9 April 1984
Zee released their debut album, Identity, in the UK. Roger Waters released a solo single, 5.01 AM (The Pros And Cons Of Hitch Hiking) (B-side: 4.30 AM (Apparently They Were Travelling Abroad)) in the US. It was released a week later in the UK.

24 April 1984
David Gilmour released a second single, Love On The Air (B-side: Let’s Get Metaphysical) from his solo album in the UK and US.

7 May 1984
Roger Waters’ solo album, The Pros And Cons Of Hitch Hiking, was released in the US, and released a day later in the UK.

8 May 1984
David Gilmour’s 50-date North American tour opened at Colisee Du Quebec, Canada.

16 June 1984
Roger Waters’ nine-date European tour opened at Johanneshovs Stadium in Stockholm, Sweden, and included two nights at London’s Earls Court Exhibition Hall.

4 July 1984
Roger Waters released a second single from his solo album: 5.06 AM (Every Strangers Eyes) (B-side: 4.39 AM (For The First Time Today, Part 2)) in the UK, and a week later in the US.

17 July 1984
Roger Waters’ 10-date North American tour opened at Hartford Civic Centre in Connecticut.

19 March 1985
Roger Waters began a second leg of his Pros And Cons Of Hitch Hiking tour at Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena. He played a further 17 dates, ending at the Civic Center Arena in Lakeland, Florida.


13 July 1985
David Gilmour was the only member of Pink Floyd to appear at ‘Live Aid’, playing guitar with Bryan Ferry’s band which also included future Floyd/Waters backing musician Jon Carin.

October 1985
Roger Waters announced his decision to leave Pink Floyd.


27 October 1986
Roger Waters’ soundtrack for the Raymond Briggs cartoon film When The Wind Blows was released in the UK and US. The soundtrack also featured tracks by Squeeze, Paul Hardcastle, Hugh Cornwell, and Genesis.

November 1986
Recording sessions began on the next Pink Floyd album at Britannia Row studios and on David Gilmour’s houseboat, Astoria.


January 1987
Pink Floyd began recording sessions for their album A Momentary Lapse Of Reason at David Gilmour’s studio Astoria. Further sessions continued at Britannia Row, Mayfair, and Audio International Studios in London and Los Angeles’ A&M and Village Recorder Studios with producer Bob Ezrin.

15 June 1987
Roger Waters released his solo album, Radio K.A.O.S. in the UK and US.

1 August 1987
Pink Floyd began four weeks of tour rehearsals at a warehouse facility at Lester B Pearson international airport in Toronto, Canada. The touring line-up now included David Gilmour, Nick Mason and a recently re-joined Richard Wright, plus additional players: Guy Pratt (bass); Jon Carin (keyboards); Scott Page (saxophone); Gary Wallis (percussion); Tim Renwick (guitars); and backing vocalists Rachel Fury and Margaret Taylor.

14 August 1987
Roger Waters’ Radio K.A.O.S. North American tour opened at Providence Civic Center. The tour played for a further 25 nights, closing on 29 September at the Expo Theatre, Vancouver. After a two-month break, the tour resumed at Cumberland County Convention Center on 3 November, and played for a further eight dates across America.

7 September 1987
Pink Floyd’s album A Momentary Lapse Of Reason was released in the UK (and a day later in the US). The tracklisting was: Signs of Life; Learning To Fly; The Dogs Of War; One Slip; On The Turning Away; Yet Another Movie; Round And Around; A New Machine, Part 1; Terminal Frost; A New Machine, Part 2; Sorrow. The album reached No. 3 in both the UK and the US.

9 September 1987
Pink Floyd’s North American tour opened at the 25,000-seat Landsdowne Park Stadium, Ottawa, Ontario. The tour took in a further 61 dates, closing at Vancouver’s British Columbia Place Stadium on 11 December.

14 September 1987
Pink Floyd released Learning To Fly (B-side: Terminal Frost) as a single in the US only.

21 & 22 November 1987
Roger Waters played two UK dates at London’s Wembley Arena.


22 January 1988
Pink Floyd’s A Momentary Lapse Of Reason tour continued with 22 dates through New Zealand and Australia, starting with one night at Auckland’s Western Springs Stadium, and ending on 24 February at the East Fremantle Oval in Perth.

2 March 1988
Pink Floyd played the first of eight dates in Japan, opening with two shows at the Budokan in Tokyo.

15 April 1988
Pink Floyd’s North American tour took in 28 dates, beginning at Los Angeles’ Memorial Coliseum and ending with three nights at the Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Bad weather led to the band shortening their set during a gig at Orlando’s Citrus Bowl.

10 June 1988
Pink Floyd’s European tour opened at Stade De La Beaujoire in Nantes, France. The tour took in 29 shows across the continent, including two dates at London’s Wembley Stadium in August.

13 July 1988
One Slip (B-side: Terminal Frost) was released as a single in the US.

12 August 1988
Pink Floyd began a second tour of North America with three nights at Richfield Coliseum, Cleveland.

23 August 1988
The final night of Pink Floyd’s North American tour took place at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in New York. This show (and the four earlier nights at the Coliseum) were recorded for the live album and video Delicate Sound Of Thunder.

21 November 1988
Pink Floyd released the live album, Delicate Sound Of Thunder, in the UK and US. The tracklisting was: Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Parts 1-5; Learning To Fly; Yet Another Movie; Round And Around; Sorrow; The Dogs Of War; On The Turning Away; One Of These Days; Time; Wish You Were Here; Us And Them; Money; Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2; Comfortably Numb; Run Like Hell. The album reached No. 11 in both the UK and the US.


13 May 1989
Pink Floyd’s Another Lapse European tour opened at Festivalweise in Werchter, Belgium. The tour included six nights at London’s newly built Docklands Arena. The touring party now included: David Gilmour; Nick Mason; Richard Wright; plus Guy Pratt (bass), Jon Carin (keyboards), Scott Page (saxophone), Gary Wallis (percussion), Tim Renwick (guitars), and backing vocalists Lorelei and Durga McBroom and Rachel Fury.

15 July 1989
Pink Floyd played a 90-minute set on a giant barge moored off Piazza San Marco in Venice. The performance was broadcast in over 20 countries worldwide, including the UK.

18 July 1989
The final night of the Another Lapse tour took place at Marseille’s Stade Velodrome.


30 June 1990
Pink Floyd performed at the ‘Silver Clef Award Winners’ charity show at Knebworth Park, Stevenage (where the band had last performed in 1975). The band played seven tracks, including Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Parts 1-5, Sorrow and Comfortably Numb. Also on the bill: Eric Clapton; Dire Straits; and Robert Plant with special guest Jimmy Page.

21 July 1990
Roger Waters staged The Wall — Live In Berlin at Potzdamer Platz, Berlin. The concert was held as a fundraiser for the ‘Memorial Fund For Disaster Relief’. The Wall album was performed in its entirety with special guests including Bryan Adams, Marianne Faithful, Van Morrison, and Albert Finney.

21 December 1991
La Carrera Panamericana was broadcast on BBC2. The documentary film covered the 1991 South American classic car race of the same name, in which David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Pink Floyd’s manager Steve O’Rourke participated.


13 April 1992
La Carrera Panamericana was released on video in the UK (and in the US in June). The soundtrack contained previously released Pink Floyd tracks, including Sorrow and Run Like Hell, and new pieces specifically recorded for the film.

2 November 1992
Pink Floyd released Shine On, a nine-CD box set containing the original albums A Saucerful Of Secrets, Meddle, The Dark Side Of The Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals, The Wall (on two discs), A Momentary Lapse Of Reason, plus The Early Singles. The package also contained a hardback book and a set of postcards.


January 1993
Pink Floyd began work on a new album at Britannia Row studios. Joined by bass guitarist Guy Pratt, recording sessions later took place at David Gilmour’s houseboat studio, Astoria. The sessions continued on and off until September 1993.

18 September 1993
Pink Floyd made a one-off appearance at the ‘Cowdray Ruins Concert’ in Midhurst. The show was a charity fundraiser for the local King Edward VII hospital. Pink Floyd were joined on the bill by members of Queen and Mike And The Mechanics. Pink Floyd’s headline set comprised Run Like Hell, Wish You Were Here and Comfortably Numb.


10 January 1994
Pink Floyd hold a press reception to announce the release of a new album at Weeksville US Naval Air Station in North Carolina. The highlight of the event is the launch of a custom-made Pink Floyd Skyship 600 airship which will promote the album with appearances in various cities across the US.

8 March 1994
Pink Floyd began two-and-a-half weeks of tour rehearsals at Norton Air Force Base in San Bernardino, California.

21 March 1994
Pink Floyd held a press reception in the UK with the appearance of a specially commissioned A60 airship at White Waltham Airfield in Maidenhead.

28 March 1994
Pink Floyd released a new album The Division Bell in the UK. Tracklisting: Cluster One; What Do You Want From Me; Poles Apart; Marooned; A Great Day For Freedom; Wearing The Inside Out; Take It Back; Coming Back To Life; Keep Talking; Lost For Words; High Hopes. The album reached No. 1 in the UK.

30 March 1994
The North and South American legs of Floyd’s The Division Bell tour opened at Joe Robbie Stadium, Miami, Florida. It included a further 58 dates, finishing with two nights at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, North Jersey. Pink Floyd’s touring party included David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Richard Wright plus Guy Pratt (bass guitar), Jon Carin (keyboards), Dick Parry (saxophone), Tim Renwick (guitars), Gary Wallis (percussion) and backing vocalists Durga McBroom and Claudia Fontaine.

4 April 1994
The Division Bell was released in the US, where it reached No. 1 in the charts.

16 May 1994
Pink Floyd released a one-track single, Take It Back, in the UK. It reached No. 23 in the charts. A limited-edition version of the single (B-side: Astronomy Dominé) was also released in the US, where it peaked at No. 73 in the charts.

22 July 1994
Pink Floyd’s The Division Bell 37-date European tour commenced with a show at Estadio De Alvalade in Lisbon, Portugal, and finished at Stade De La Pontaise in Lausanne, Switzerland. Sam Brown joined the band as an additional backing vocalist on all dates.

13 October 1994
Pink Floyd played 15 nights at London’s Earls Court Exhibition Hall. The planned opening night on 12 October was re-scheduled after a seating stand collapsed shortly before the band arrived on stage. Fortunately, nobody was hurt. On six of the nights, Pink Floyd adjusted the set list to perform The Dark Side Of The Moon in its entirety. On 28 October, the band’s friend and author Douglas Adams was invited on stage as a birthday present to play guitar during a version of Brain Damage.

17 October 1994
Pink Floyd released High Hopes (B-side: Keep Talking) as a single in the UK. It reached No. 26 in the charts.


5 June 1995
Pink Floyd released a live album, P.U.L.S.E., in the UK and US. The album artwork was notable for a flashing LED on the spine of the packaging. Tracklisting: Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Parts, 1-6; Astronomy Dominé; What Do You Want From Me; Learning To Fly; Keep Talking; Coming Back To Life; Hey You; A Great Day For Freedom; Sorrow; High Hopes; Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2; The Dark Side Of The Moon; Wish You Were Here; Comfortably Numb; Run Like Hell. The album reached No. 1 in the UK and US. A video release of the P.U.L.S.E. concert was released in the UK and the US a week later.


17 January 1996
Pink Floyd were inducted into the ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Fame’, during a ceremony at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York City. David Gilmour and Richard Wright were joined by Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan for a version of Wish You Were Here.


4 August 1997
Pink Floyd re-released The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn in the UK. The 30th anniversary edition was digitally remastered and issued on both vinyl and CD. A CD album box set included art prints and a limited edition bonus CD, The First 3 Singles, containing: Arnold Layne; Candy And A Currant Bun; See Emily Play; Scarecrow; Apples And Oranges; Paintbox.

18 August 1997
Pink Floyd released the 1997 Vinyl Collection box set in the UK containing the albums: The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, Atom Heart Mother, Relics, The Dark Side Of The Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals and The Wall.


6 September 1998
David Gilmour appeared as special guest with The Pretty Things at an invitation-only anniversary concert performing their album S.F. Sorrow at Abbey Road studios. The concert was broadcast live on the Internet and later released as a limited edition CD entitled The Pretty Things — Resurrection (Died 1968 Born 1998 At Abbey Road).


23 July 1999
Roger Waters’ In The Flesh North American tour commenced with a show at the Milwaukee Auditorium, Wisconsin. The tour played a further 23 dates, concluding on 28 August at the Kemper Arena, Kansas City, Missouri.

4 October 1999
Paul McCartney released an album, Run Devil Run featuring David Gilmour on guitars. As part of the subsequent promotional tour David performed with Paul McCartney’s band on the TV shows ‘Later… with Jools Holland’ and a Michael Parkinson TV special ‘Parkinson Meets Paul McCartney’, and concluded with a show at The Cavern Club in Liverpool on 14 December which was broadcast on BBC radio and TV.


17 March 2000
Pink Floyd released a live album, Is There Anybody Out There? The Wall Live: 1980-1981, in the US. The album included the entire live ‘Wall’ performance recorded across seven different nights at London’s Earls Court Arena. The album charted in the US at No. 19.

27 March 2000
Is There Anybody Out There? The Wall Live: 1980-1981 was released in the UK and charted at No. 15.

2 June 2000
Roger Waters’ In The Flesh tour recommenced with a show at the Ice Palace, Tampa, Florida. The tour played a further 24 shows, and concluded on 16 July at Providence Civic Center, Rhode Island. Many of the shows were recorded for the subsequent live album and DVD Roger Waters In The Flesh.


19 October 2001
David Gilmour appeared as special guest with The Pretty Things at the first ever public live performance of their classic album S.F. Sorrow at the Royal Festival Hall in London. Gilmour also played with the support band The Soft Boys for their rendition of Astronomy Dominé.


27 February 2002
Roger Waters began his In The Flesh world tour at Bellville Velodrome, Cape Town, South Africa. The tour included shows in Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, and Australia.

4 May 2002
Roger Waters’ European In The Flesh tour opened with two nights at Lisbon’s Pavilhao Atlantico.

29 June 2002
Roger Waters played the ‘Glastonbury Festival’ in Somerset.

15 November 2002
Pink Floyd released a compilation, Echoes: The Best Of Pink Floyd in the UK and US. Tracklisting: Astronomy Dominé; See Emily Play; The Happiest Days Of Our Lives; Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2; Echoes; Hey You; Marooned; The Great Gig In The Sky; Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun; Money; Keep Talking; Sheep; Sorrow; Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Parts 1-7; Time; The Fletcher Memorial Home; Comfortably Numb; When The Tigers Broke Free; One Of These Days; Us And Them; Learning To Fly; Arnold Layne; Wish You Were Here; Jugband Blues; High Hopes; Bike. The album reached No. 2 in the UK and No. 1 in the US.


24 March 2003
Floyd re-released The Dark Side Of The Moon to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the album. Engineer James Guthrie oversaw a new 5.1 mix of the original album.

11 April 2003
David Gilmour was interviewed by Sue Lawley for the long-running BBC Radio 4 show ‘Desert Island Discs’ during which he selected his favourite records: ‘Waterloo Sunset’ by The Kinks; ‘Ballad In Plain D’ by Bob Dylan; ‘I’m Still Here’ by Tom Waits; ‘Dancing In The Street’ by Martha and the Vandellas; ‘Anthem’ by Leonard Cohen; ‘A Man Needs A Maid’ by Neil Young; ‘For Free’ by Joni Mitchell; and ‘Rudi With A Flashlight’ by The Lemonheads. When asked what three items (record, book and luxury item) he would take on a desert island, he selected ‘Dancing In The Street’ by Martha and the Vandellas as his record, an English translation of the Koran as his book and an acoustic Martin D35 guitar as his luxury.


24 September 2004
David Gilmour performed Marooned, Coming Back To Life and Sorrow at the ‘Miller Strat Pack’ charity show at London’s Wembley Arena, which featured appearances by Ronnie Wood, Joe Walsh, Brian May, Hank Marvin, Phil Manzanera, Mike Rutherford, Paul Carrack, The Crickets, and Gary Moore, among others.

17 November 2004
Roger Waters’ opera, Ça Ira, premiered at Sala Santa Cecilia, Auditorium Parco Della Musica, in Rome.


28 June 2005
Pink Floyd with Roger Waters convened for three days of rehearsals at West London’s Black Island Studios in preparation for the ‘Live 8’ charity reunion concert.

2 July 2005
Pink Floyd performed at the ‘Live 8’ concert in London’s Hyde Park. The band again comprised David Gilmour, Nick Mason, Roger Waters and Richard Wright, joined by additional keyboard player Jon Carin, guitarist Tim Renwick and backing vocalist Carol Kenyon. The group performed Breathe, Money, Wish You Were Here and Comfortably Numb.

26 September 2005
Roger Waters released a new album, Ça Ira — There Is Hope — An Opera In Three Acts in the UK and US.

16 November 2005
Pink Floyd were inducted into the ‘UK Music Hall Of Fame’ in a ceremony at London’s Alexandra Palace. The group were inducted by The Who’s Pete Townshend. David Gilmour and Nick Mason attended the event in person, Richard Wright was unwell, and Roger Waters appeared via an on-screen video link.


6 March 2006
David Gilmour released a solo album, On An Island, in the UK (and a day later in the US). The album featured guest musicians including Richard Wright, Phil Manzanera, Guy Pratt, Jon Carin, Robert Wyatt, David Crosby, Graham Nash, and original Pink Floyd guitarist Rado ‘Bob’ Klose, among others.

10 March 2006
David Gilmour’s On An Island tour began in Dortmund, Germany. The tour included Europe, the United States, and the UK, with three nights at London’s Royal Albert Hall, where special guests included David Bowie and Nick Mason.

2 June 2006
Roger Waters’ The Dark Side Of The Moon tour began in Lisbon, Portugal. The 21-date pan-European tour, which concluded on 16 July at the ‘Moon & Stars Festival’ in Locarno, Switzerland, also saw Waters perform on 22 June at Latrun, Israel — a village of Israeli-Palestinian co-existence.

7 July 2006
Roger ‘Syd’ Barrett died at home in Cambridge. The cause of death was pancreatic cancer.

6 September 2006
Roger Waters’ The Dark Side Of The Moon tour continued in North America at the PNC Bank Arts Center, Holmdel, New Jersey. The 20-date tour, which concluded on 12 October at the Key Arena, Seattle, also saw Nick Mason join Waters on stage for three shows at the Hollywood Bowl.


25 January 2007
Roger Waters’ world tour opened in Sydney, Australia. The tour included New Zealand, China, India, United Arab Emirates, South America, United States, Canada, Europe, and the UK (including two nights at London’s Earls Court).

10 May 2007
‘Syd Barrett — Madcap’s Last Laugh’, a tribute concert to the late Floyd frontman, took place at London’s Barbican Hall. Performers included Kevin Ayers, Captain Sensible, and Chrissie Hynde. David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Richard Wright performed Arnold Layne; Roger Waters performed a solo composition, Flickering Flame.

17 September 2007
David Gilmour released Remember That Night, a live DVD recorded over three nights at London’s Royal Albert Hall.


15 September 2008
Pink Floyd keyboard player Richard Wright died at home. The cause of death was cancer.

22 September 2008
David Gilmour released Live In Gdańsk, a live concert recorded at the Gdańsk Shipyards, Poland, in August 2006.


11 November 2009
David Gilmour was made an Honorary Doctor of Arts by Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, in recognition of his “outstanding contribution to music as a writer, performer and innovator”.


10 July 2010
In an historic reunion, David Gilmour and Roger Waters appeared on stage together at an exclusive charity concert in aid of the Hoping Foundation at Kiddington Hall, Oxfordshire, England. They performed semi-acoustic versions of To Know Him Is To Love Him, Wish You Were Here, Comfortably Numb and Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2.

15 September 2010
Roger Waters commenced his Wall Live tour with three sold out nights at the Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Canada and concluded 55 shows later at the Palacio de los Deportes, Mexico City, Mexico.

4 October 2010
An Introduction To Syd Barrett is released in the UK, bringing together the tracks of Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett for the first time. It also includes the previously unreleased downloadable track Rhamadam.

11 October 2010
Special ‘booklet’ CD editions of Syd Barrett’s The Madcap Laughs, Barrett and Opel albums are released, restoring the original artwork and including bonus tracks.

11 October 2010
The Orb release Metallic Spheres, an album of ambient soundscapes featuring David Gilmour.


21 March 2011
Roger Waters commenced his 64-date Wall Live tour of Europe at the Pavilhao Atlantico, Lisbon, Portugal.

12 May 2011
David Gilmour joined Roger Waters on stage at the O2 Arena in London performing Comfortably Numb as part of Roger Waters’ Wall Live show. Nick Mason also attended the show, and both Nick and David joined Roger for the final song, Outside The Wall, on which Roger played trumpet, David mandolin and Nick tambourine.

As the story continues……

Sep 012016


Formed: late 1966 in London, England
Years Active: 1966 through 1968
Group’s Main Members: Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce (passed in 2015), Ginger Baker

Over a cup of tea at his mother-in-law’s flat, Jack Bruce agreed to let ‘bygones be bygones’ with Ginger Baker and the three of them got together for the first rehearsal in Ginger’s ground floor maisonette at 154 Braemar Avenue, Neasden in North West London, just a stone’s throw from Wembley Stadium where English football history was very soon to be made. It was an auspicious summer. The three musicians found that playing together was instant ‘magic’ & so good was the sound that kids from miles around could be seen dancing out in the fields that bordered The Welsh Harp Reservoir nearby. “Yeah, man we’re the Cream!” said Eric. Ginger’s last gig with The GBO was up in Bradford & he managed to write his new Rover 2000 off in an accident on the way back. It was the end of an era & the beginning of a new age.

The first Cream rehearsal proper, happened at St Ann’s Town Hall, Brondesbury, North London, with Liz, the journalist Chris Welch & a bemused Robert Stigwood (who had no idea of the phenomenon that was about to be unleashed upon the world) in attendance. In no time the story was leaked to The Melody Maker under the heading ‘Eric, Jack & Ginger Team Up’ and as neither Manfred Mann (Jack Bruce), The Bluesbreakers (Clapton) or The GBO (Baker) were aware of this new development, this caused some immediate friction within the embryo unit.

Nevertheless, The Melody Maker of Cup Final Day, 30th July 1966, reports that ‘Britain’s most exciting new group’ were frantically rehearsing from 18th July onwards in a ‘bizarre’ church hall setting of ‘Brownies & Caretakers’ to be ready for ‘the sixth national jazz & blues festival at Winsdor’ on the 31st.

Apparently fans were already ‘excitedly looking forward to their first chance to hear the fiery three’ and Eric Clapton said he was ‘nervous, very nervous’. But in fact their debut gig was actually at Manchester’s Twisted Wheel Club…some say on the 29th & other’s on Cup Final Day itself & this writer can testify that on that day the shouts of the England fans could be heard in Ginger’s back garden in Neasden!

On the 31st July at Windsor the Heaven’s opened, but no one cared about the mud & rain. England had triumphed and now was about to do so again when as The Melody Maker (of August 6th) reported, the moment came that ‘thousands had been waiting for’ & Ginger, Jack & Eric launched into ‘Spoonful’. This was followed by ‘Sleepy Time’ & ‘Train Time’ with Eric’s ‘incredible guitar’ causing the audience to ‘scream for more even when he was playing more’ & then Ginger’s solo ‘The Toad’ apparently ‘sent the crowd potty.’ They’d just witnessed the birth of Cream!

Cream-IFeelFreeUltimateCreamCream takes over from GBO

From that moment on Cream took over the gigs that had been previously booked for the GBO. On 1st August they played the famous Cooks Ferry Inn, Edmonton, North East London, & on the 2nd they were at West Hampstead’s legendary Klooks Kleek. Ginger got his booking agent to ask for an extra £5 per gig, bumping the fee up to £45 per night & Cream were off on a whirlwind tour, taking the UK by storm.

Friction did continue to be a part of their ‘electric’ dynamic however & before long Stigwood had them in the studio to record their first single ‘Wrapping Paper’. Ginger had invited his friend the beat poet Pete Brown along to help with the writing, but Pete disappeared with Jack & wrote this track that Ginger felt strongly ‘was the most awful song and had absolutely nothing to do with what Cream was doing.’

Immediately Ginger felt that the bands status as a true co-operative unit was being compromised by the song writing credits going to Bruce & Brown, with no mention of himself & Clapton. However, the single did ok & Nick Jones in The Melody Maker of November 5th crows..’Well they finally made it. The much publicised, talked-about, raved about, and listened to group – the Cream – are in the chart.’

Fresh Cream

The fact that the music was so good enabled them to put all differences aside & go into a studio in South Molton Street in London to record their first album Fresh Cream. Ginger remembers in his book ‘Hellraiser’ that overall ‘they were happy times’ & an occasion where they ‘tipped a box of cornflakes over Stigwood’s head, then Eric got hold of some scissors & cut his tie off’!

They continued their meteoric success on endless gigs around the UK for the rest of the year & such was their earning capacity by now that Stigwood even asked Ginger for a loan of £40,000 Cream money to avert his organisation’s ‘imminent’ financial ‘disaster’. This Ginger did without the other 2 band members even knowing & the money was soon reimbursed. Cream played their last gig of 1966 on December 30th at the Double Giant Freak-Out Ball, The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm in London & Stigwood now had his eye firmly on the USA.

History 1967

Cream’s UK tour

The New Year kicked off with Cream undertaking a gruelling UK tour; first stop, The Ricky Tick Club in Windsor on the 7th January. On the same day The Melody Maker featured a double page article by Chris Welch, a ‘Focus on the group they said would never make it’. The first page was entitled ‘Pop Think in with Ginger Baker;’ in which Ginger answered questions on the subjects of Modern Art (specifically talking about the fibre-glass sculpture pictured in his auto-biography ‘Hellraiser’) Cream, Graham Bond, Drummers, Health, Drum Solo’s, Beards, Punch-ups, Irish Tempers, Keith Moon, Cars, Hang-ups, Fear, Love, N.S.U & The Small Faces!

The second related article asked Eric how he felt when Cream’s detractors said they wouldn’t last because of ‘clashing temperaments’? “It’s true we do have rows,” replied Eric “But they are followed by really big embraces… afterwards it’s almost like falling in love again.”

Cream plays on BBC’s Top of the Pops

On January 11th they mimed their new (January released) single ‘I Feel Free’ for BBC TV’s ‘Top of the Pops’, when according to Jack Bruce, ‘Ginger got very upset about the rubber cymbals’. On January 21st, Disc Magazine had an article on page 10, entitled ‘Crowds like Cream’; in a not wholly successful attempt to understand the band’s phenomenal pulling power, the journalist describes “the floor around the stage” being “a mass of heaving bodies, girls jump on boys backs, boys edge forwards craning their necks.” “What’s the great attraction?” “They sing, they play, that is enough.”

Cream plays the Murray K Show

After three months of virtually non-stop dates in the UK, (the set-list including ‘Sweet Wine’, N.S.U. & ‘Spoonful’ with new songs being added as they got written), Cream were whisked off to New York, where between March 25th & April 2nd they guested on the Murray the K show, a stellar line-up, with amongst others The Who, Wilson Pickett & Simon & Garfunkel, playing one to two songs a day, one of which was, ‘I’m So Glad.’ Such were the high jinks on this occasion that Ginger remembers Murray finding him lying under the table with a bottle of Bacardi & saying ‘How the hell is he going to be able to play?’ But he did! Whilst there they recorded ‘Strange Brew’ in Atlantic Studios (they returned in the second week of May to finish The Disraeli Gears album).

Back on tour in the UK

Then quick as a flash they were back touring the UK again, such as The Daily Express record Star Show at Wembley’s Empire Pool with The Troggs, The Kinks & Paul Jones; The Brighton Arts Festival, with The Who and on May 29th, Barbeque 67, Tulip Bulb Auction Hall, Spalding, with Pink Floyd, The Move, Geno Washington & The Jimi Hendrix Experience. On June 15th they recorded for the BBC TV programme Top of the Pops at Lime Grove and on the 22nd they appeared on the trendy TV show ‘Dee Time’ hosted by Simon Dee. On the 24th of the same month, Record Mirror’s page 3 led with Norman Joplin’s piece, ‘Ginger tells of Cream’s strange American trip’! In which the recording ‘Strange Brew’ is at that time labelled as ‘Witches Brew’ and the release of the recently recorded, ground-breaking Disraeli Gears LP, ‘all of it recorded in the states’ is tipped to be out in the UK ‘reasonably soon’.

Cream blow US audiences away!

On July 8th Ginger & Eric had their famous race down Ben Nevis in Scotland whilst on a photo shoot for the album. Sometime between July 15th & August 4th Ginger found time to take his newly pregnant wife Liz & daughter Nettie on a much needed holiday to Mexico City & Acapulco. But by the 4th Cream were up in Perth, Scotland, followed by a string of northern dates, before the Windsor Jazz Festival on the 13th. On 17th August Cream played at The Speakeasy in London, where they were introduced by Frank Zappa and just five days later they were wowing audiences at The Fillmore on the West Coast of America. In a brief piece in the Melody Maker of 26th August, Nick Jones predicted ‘there can be no doubt that they’re going to blow the lovers of California out of their heads’!

Soon after, journalist George Almond wrote a glowing acid-fuelled piece entitled ‘Freaking out at The Fillmore’ in which he described ‘the first number’ exploding ‘into the auditorium’ as though it were ‘a musical megaton bomb’ & ‘for nearly an hour the message of 1967 roared out, everyone interpreting it in their own way.’ A wonderful evocation not only of the unique power of Cream’s music but also the twin themes of fear of nuclear destruction & the desire to rebuild the world anew….Cream..iconic & integral to the popular culture that shaped the ideology of the day.

In fact, dear George felt moved to say that the audience on that particular night had ‘felt some message from a realm beyond normal understanding.’ Cream had come to America!

They executed a lightning tour from coast to coast culminating at Detroit’s Grande Ballroom on October 15th.

The set list for this night was:

  1. Tales of brave Ulysses
  2. N.S.U
  3. Sitting on Top of the World
  4. Sweet Wine
  5. Rolling & Tumblin’
  6. Spoonful
  7. Steppin’ Out
  8. Train Time
  9. Toad
  10. I’m So Glad

BBC Radio recordings and more US gigs

Then by the 24th they were recording in London for BBC Radio One with John Peel, followed by more UK dates; then off to Denmark & Sweden between November 10-18th & back in Newcastle-upon-Tyne (UK) by the 23rd! On the 18th, record Mirror featured an article with Eric Clapton about the Disraeli Gears album, in which LP sleeve photographer Robert Whitaker gets mis-named Roger Whittaker (a very conservative UK singer!). On the 26th they recorded a show for BBC TV at London’s Lime grove Studios & this is when Ginger od’d on heroin; a story he tells in ‘Hellraiser’.

The Melody Maker of December 2nd reported ‘Ginger Baker Collapses – Doctors Suspect Ulcer.’ This caused Stigwood to make a few cancellations, but nevertheless, Ginger was back recording with Cream for Radio One again on December 3rd, followed by more UK dates, & ended up playing a debs ball in Chicago USA on 20th December, his daughter Nettie’s 6th Birthday. Cream’s last date of 1967 was on the 23rd December back at The Grande Ballroom in Detroit, after which they rushed home to spend Christmas with their families, before it started all over again in 1968.

History 1968

Cream takes the world by storm!

1968 continued in the same frenetic way as the previous two years since Cream had started out. January 5th saw them play The Industrial Club in Norwich, on the 9th they recorded the Top Gear show for BBC Radio One & the next night they played London’s Revolution Club, which was filmed for French TV. There was no let up as they hopped over to Amsterdam, back to Redcar in the North of England, down to Brighton, up to Leeds University, down to Twickenham, back up to Nottingham & down again to UCL in London before flying off to Denmark for four days where they were filmed for a movie (Det Var En Lordag Aften). By the 10th February they were back in Manchester, UK, before beginning their next massive US tour in Santa Monica on the 23rd.

Ginger was already settled in his US hotel room on 20th February & into the recording of The Wheels of Fire album, when his mother phoned to tell him of the home-birth of his baby daughter Leda. ‘I’ve got a sink full of dirty socks!’ was Ginger’s reply to the news! Producer Felix Papalardi wanted it to be a double album & Atlantic weren’t keen, but Cream themselves also thought it a good idea. Felix said, ‘the music is never discussed, it just happens.’ Whatever ‘happened’, it was the first album ever to go double-platinum after its release. Melody Maker’s review of it on August 10th, also rates Toad as ‘the best solo Ginger has ever recorded’.

An article written much later by Rob Lewis cites ‘Cream’s sustained success’ for the fact that this tour was ‘extended to last until June of 1968’, allowing only one break which ‘tested the interpersonal relationships.’ Ginger felt that ‘the constant gigging meant our performances weren’t always that good’ & the size & volume of the amps caused constant pain with his ears & led to many altercations with Jack Bruce about ‘turning up.’ Both Ginger & Eric have been quoted as saying that however badly they played they would get a standing ovation & this seemed to trouble them.

Cream smash box-office records

Yet for fans this was the band they wanted to see. Cream had a magic rarely experienced before. Kenny Bardoll, bass player of The Corporation, summed it up like this, ‘We were just flabbergasted by the whole thing…you know,…here they are, The Cream!’ 14 & 15 year old boys had the experiences of a lifetime & remember an awe inspiring Milwaukee evening when Eric’s amps blew!

Local Journalist Michael H. Drew reported that ‘unless someone learns to harness the atom instrumentally, it is likely that the Cream have reached the musical ultimate – in volume, style & sound.’ And in success… because by January 1969, The Robert Stigwood Organisation sent a letter to Cream’s fans stating that on this & their final tour later in the year, they ‘smashed all box office records currently held by The Beatles’!!

Cream want to disband

Ginger’s first wife Liz remembers driving to the gig at The Convention Centre, Anaheim CA on 17 th May, & the five-lane freeway was jammed with traffic. ‘Where are all these people going?’ she asked…‘to our gig’ Ginger replied! A fan from the Milwaukee gigs recalls Ginger getting 5 standing ovations for his solos on the first night & 11 on the second… & this scenario was repeated everywhere they played. Sadly no one stepped in to give the band a break & try at least to defuse the internal disputes. But by now the writing was on the wall & Ginger & Eric told Stigwood they wanted to disband; though Ginger remembers that he (Stigwood) ‘didn’t believe us.’

cream-want-to-disbandGoodbye Cream Then came the fateful Rolling Stone article that upset Eric by criticising his solos & asking presumptuously ‘Will Cream stand the test of Time?’ Well, we know the answer to that one! So the much heralded ‘fourth album’ planned to be recorded in the states in September, again with Papalardi, became, ‘Goodbye Cream.’ Ginger remembers a ‘too little, too late’ scenario where he finally felt all members were equally represented writing wise on the album. Cream returned to the UK mid-June & the July 13th 1968 issue of Melody Maker carried the headline that would devastate many, ‘Cream Split Up’, with a lead article on page 11 by Chris Welch, in which Eric stated tellingly that they ‘wanted a holiday.’

So the album was recorded and on October 4th Cream left for their ‘Goodbye’ tour of the states & in England the October 5th issue of The NME featured them on the cover. On November 26th 1968, Cream played their farewell performance at The Albert Hall….a gig filmed for posterity & which none of them rated musically. The protagonists were tired and glad to be free, never realising that so great was their influence, talent and inspiration that 37 years later they would grace the Royal Albert Hall stage again for four concerts – to a standing ovation that all three were happy to take.

In October 2005, they performed three further concerts at New York’s Madison Square Garden. The London shows were released on CD and DVD in late 2005.



It is really hard to believe that Cream was only together for a little more than two years. They were rock’s first power-trio and in their short history would sell millions of records and sell out concert halls everywhere. The band was formed as a blues-rock outfit in late 1966 with Eric Clapton on guitar and occasional lead vocals, Jack Bruce as its main songwriter, lead singer and bassist and drummer Ginger Baker.

Clapton was already pretty well known as a guitar hero in the UK and with Cream would soon be an international guitar playing superstar. He had been in bands like the Yardbirds and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers before Cream. Bruce also had been a member of the Bluesbreakers along with Clapton for a short time and had just left Manfred Mann’s band when he joined up. Baker was the drummer for the Graham Bond Organisation , yet another band that Bruce had also been a member of. All three Cream members were looking to expand their music experiences and play music other than what was standard for the time period. No question that was what they ended up doing, playing long blues jams and extended solos live including everything from blues, to psychedelic, to hard rock.

Their first album, Fresh Cream was released in December of ’66. Mainly a blues album, it was a hit reaching the British Top Ten in early 1967. Almost a year after their first release came the album Disraeli Gears. It was loaded with hits and made them big in the US, reaching number five. The hard rock song “Sunshine of Your Love,” was the album’s biggest hit with its great guitar and haunting vocals. “Strange Brew” was another hit and songs like “Dance the Night Away,” “Tales of Brave Ulysses” and “S.W.L.A.B.R.” all got substantial radio play. In June of ’68 the double album Wheels of Fire topped the American charts and they were now considered one of rock biggest bands. One disc of this double album was recorded in the studio, the second recorded on stage in San Francisco. On this live disc Clapton fans would get to hear the Robert Johnson cover “Crossroads” for the first time. The studio disc contained the top ten single, Bruce’s “White Room” (number 6 on the charts) as well as a grand cover of Albert King’s “Born Under a Bad Sign.”

It seem unreal that a band so hot would break up while at their peak, yet that is just what happened to Cream. Once again the three members wanted to break out and do something new. Cream played their last concert on November 26, 1968, at London’s Royal Albert Hall. There would be one last album after the breakup to be released in early 1969 , Goodbye, it consisted of three studio tracks and three live tracks. One of those studio tunes would be the Eric Clapton-George Harrison composition “Badge” which is the album’s best track. Goodbye may not have gotten the greatest reviews but it did hit number two on the charts.

Life after Cream was most rewarding for Clapton with a huge solo career. He did briefly belong to two supergroups, teaming up again in ’69 with Baker in Blind Faith and then in 1970 he formed Derek & the Dominos. Bruce went on to form several different bands with several big name musicians, notably Gary Moore in BBM and covered everything from blues, rock, folk and jazz. After Blind Faith, Baker formed a couple of bands including Ginger Baker’s Air Force which put out a couple of albums. He was later in a few other bands and then got back with Bruce in BBM in 1994. He retired from the business in late ’97 and bought a horse farm in Colorado which he ran until late ’99 when he was being force out of the country.

Jack Bruce passed away on October 25, 2014 at 71 from liver disease

Ginger Baker recently announced serious health problems, followed by a successful open heart surgery. He turned 77 on August 19, 2016

Eric Clapton lives with his wife and three daughters in Columbus Ohio. He likes Columbus. Says that people don’t bother him because they don’t know who he is!

Aug 092015

lynyrd skynyrdFormed: 1965 in Jacksonville, Florida
Years Active: 1965 through 1977 & 1987 to present
Group’s Main Members: Ronnie Van Zant, Gary Rossington, Allen Collins, Bob Burns, Billy Powell, Leon Wilkeson, Ed King, Artimus Pyle, Steve Gaines
Members that passed away: Ronnie Van Zant, Allen Collins, Bob Burns, Billy Powell, Leon Wilkeson, Steve Gaines

When you think of southern rock, the first band to come to mind is Lynyrd Skynyrd. More than the Allman Brothers, their blues-hard rock, three-guitar weaving line-up was a Southern image hard to forget. The band was formed by a bunch of high school friends in 1965, vocalist/songwriter Ronnie Van Zant, guitarists Gary Rossington and Allen Collins, bassist Larry Jungstrom and drummer Bob Burns. They played the first few years under various different names (Noble Five, Wildcats, Sons Of Satan and My Backyard), after they released a single in 1968, they changed their name to Lynyrd Skynyrd. The name came as a mock against their high school gym teacher Leonard Skinner, who was notorious for punishing male students with long hair and proclaimed that Van Zant and his friends would never amount to anything good in life. Shortly after they changed their name Leon Wilkeson joined the group on bass replacing Jungstrom and also around this time they added keyboardist Billy Powell. The group was discovered in Atlanta by Al Kooper in 1972 while they were playing a gig and he signed them to his Sounds Of The South label. As they began work on their first album, guitarist Ed King (formerly of Strawberry Alarm Clock) joined and their triple guitar attack lineup was now in place.

Their debut album, Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd, was a big hit, and was stronger than any other debut album released by any other band. Being the opening act for The Who’s Quadrophenia tour in 1973 also helped expose the band to a nationwide audience. But it was the song “Free Bird,” a tribute to Allman Brothers deceased Duane Allman, with it’s great three lead guitar-army attack ending, that really got the band going. The song is still today considered one of rock’s best ever. As great a song as “Free Bird” was, it would not turn out to be their biggest hit. The single “Sweet Home Alabama”, which appeared on their second album Second Helping in 1974, would. Although a tongue-in-cheek song, it would solidify their redneck image. In the song the lyric “I hope Neil Young will remember, southern man don’t need him around anyhow,” was a amusing shot at Young who had wrote the songs “Southern Man” and “Alabama”. But the band and Young were best of friends and Skynyrd even opened some shows for him.

After the release of Second Helping, Burns left the band and Artimus Pyle took over on the drums. By the end of ’74 King would also leave and for a time Skynyrd would be a sextet. They released their third album Nuthin’ Fancy in 1975 and it was a Top Ten hit. In 1976 they had a new producer, Tom Dowd for their next album Gimmie Back My Bullets and after heavy yearly touring, they now had a strong following on the road. This would lead to another album release in ’76, the live album One More For the Road, which also was a huge hit. This album also would feature King’s replacement, guitarist Steve Gaines and a trio of female backup singers, and it became Skynyrd’s second Top Ten album.

Things were going great for the band in 1977 as they recorded their next studio album, Street Survivors, which would turn out to be one of the band’s biggest hits. But only a few days after its release, on October 20, tragedy would hit. The band was on tour and on their way to a show in Baton Rouge Louisiana when their plane crashed, killing Van Zant, Gaines, his sister Cassie (one of the three backing singers) and road manager Dean Kilpatrick. The rest of the band was seriously injured. Lynyrd Skynyrd broke up after this devastating crash, until the surviving members got together during a Charie Daniels gig and found that the audience for their music was as strong as ever.

In 1980 The Rossington-Collins Band was formed, featuring four surviving Skynyrd members. But another tragic event would take place in 1986 when Collins was in a bad car crash which killed his girlfriend and left him paralyzed; four years later, he died of respiratory failure.

In 1987 Lynyrd Skynyrd would reform for a “reunion” tour featuring Rossington, Powell, Pyle, Wilkeson and King, with Ronnie’s brother Johnny Van Zant on vocals and Randell Hall added on guitar. Pyle would leave after the 1991 album Lynyrd Skynyrd 1991 with no real permanent replacement for the time being. They would regroup again in the mid 90s with former Blackfoot guitarist Rickey Medlocke replacing King, ex Outlaw Hughie Thomasson replacing Hall and new drummer Michael Cartellone. Hughie Thomasson passed away from heart failure in 2007. The band continues to record and tour to this day with a loyal following, but not quite like it was in the old glory days of Ronnie Van Zant and company.

Follow up: In July of 2001, Leon Wilkeson would also pass away, yet another free bird.
On January 28, 2009, Billy Powell died from heart failure.
Bob Burns was killed on April 3, 2015, after his car hit a tree while out on a late night drive.

It’s down to Gary Rossington now and his health is reported to be bad.

Oct 052017

tom petty and the heart breakers front manOctober 2, 2017 – Tom (Thomas Earl) Petty was born on October 20, 1950 in Gainesville Florida.

Growing up in the town that housed the University of Florida, music became the young Petty’s refuge from a domineering, abusive father who despised Tom’s sensitivity and creative tendencies—but would later glom on to his son’s rock-star fame for status.

In the summer of 1961, his uncle was working on the set of Presley’s film Follow That Dream in nearby Ocala, and invited Petty to come down and watch the shoot. He instantly became an Elvis Presley fan, and when he returned that Saturday, he was greeted by his friend Keith Harben, and soon traded his Wham-O slingshot for a collection of Elvis 45s.

Petty said in a later interview “The minute I saw the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show, I knew there was the way out. There was the way to do it. You get your friends and you’re a self-contained unit. And you make the music. And it looked like so much fun. It was something I identified with. I had never been hugely into sports. … I had been a big fan of Elvis. But I really saw in the Beatles that here’s something I could do. I knew I could do it. It wasn’t long before there were groups springing up in garages all over the place.” He dropped out of high school at age 17 to play bass with his newly formed band.

Don Felder, who late became the lead guitarist for the Eagles was Tom’s first guitar teacher. Shortly after embracing his musical aspirations, Petty started a band known as the Epics, later to evolve into Mudcrutch. Although the band, which featured future Heartbreakers Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench, were popular in Gainesville, their recordings went unnoticed by a mainstream audience. Their only single, “Depot Street”, was released in 1975 by Shelter Records, but failed to chart.

After Mudcrutch split up, Petty reluctantly agreed to pursue a solo career. Tench decided to form his own group, whose sound Petty appreciated. Eventually, Petty and Campbell collaborated with Tench and fellow members Ron Blair and Stan Lynch, resulting in the first lineup of the Heartbreakers.

Even through the end of Mudcrutch and formation of The Heartbreakers, there was a certain ethos that would form a foundation for the early days of Petty’s career and serve as guiding principles even decades later: a brotherhood with his bandmates in The Heartbreakers, and a defiant belief in the power of artistry and vision.

The rise to superstardom for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers came when producer Denny Cordell famously swayed the band en route to Los Angeles to sign with London Records, when he convinced them to sign with Cordell’s Shelter Records after they stopped in Tulsa at his offices.

“At the end of the day, he wasn’t going for the biggest deal he could possibly get,” Cordell said in the ’90s. “But he was going for the chance to make good records.” Shelter was co-founded by Tulsa native Leon Russell, and the label released Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers in 1975. The album flopped in America, but the band was a hit in the U.K.
Petty famously fought back against his label after Shelter Records’ distributor ABC Records was sold to MCA and he realized how much he was losing in a publishing deal he’d said he was forced to sign under duress. “My songs had been taken away from me before I even knew what publishing was,” Petty would later recall. And to free himself from the deal he filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, an unprecedented approach to battling his record company. Such a bold tactic meant that Petty wasn’t just fighting his label MCA; he was in a battle against the record business itself.
As he and Cordell’s relationship dissolved and The Heartbreakers’ second album, You’re Gonna Get It!, foundered, the battle raged in the media. The Heartbreakers embarked on “The Lawsuit Tour” and sold merchandise that included “Why MCA?” T-shirts.
“As soon as they thought my action might set an industry precedent,” Petty told Rolling Stone in 1980, “they rolled out the big guns. That’s when I realized these guys were mean. It was like they were after me just because I had the potential to do something. For that, they would destroy me—fuck up my brain to where I couldn’t do it anymore—before they’d let me do it for anyone else.”
Damn the Torpedoes (1979) would be Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers’ first platinum-selling album, but with status came another headache. Petty once again found himself at odds with the industry after realizing MCA was planning to sell his fourth album Hard Promises at a then-staggering $9.98, “Superstar Pricing” that was designed to make up for financial losses labels were enduring in the late 1970s. Petty fought against the price hike and won the hearts of fans, as Hard Promises would also be a platinum-seller.

Petty established himself as the sort of authentic rock artist whose ethics seemed almost antiquated at the dawn of the MTV era and amid the excesses of the 1980s. As punk, funk, and New Wave gave way to hair metal and dance pop, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers stayed surprisingly fresh in changing times.
The video for their 1982 single “You Got Lucky” featured a Mad Max-inspired, apocalyptic storyline, evidence that the group wasn’t as resistant to the music video format as many of their peers. This would be more evident by 1985, with the release of the popular Alice in Wonderland-themed visual for “Don’t Come Around Here No More”—a synth-driven hit by Petty and co-written and co-produced with Dave Stewart of Eurythmics.

“Don’t Come Around Here No More” was a major hit from the Heartbreakers’ 1985 Southern Accents album, but the LP was a source of tension within the band. Accents had originally been conceived as a concept record about Southern culture, but the inclusion of Stewart muddied the theme. Nonetheless, on the Southern Accents Tour, Petty included merchandise and stage dressing that prominently featured the Confederate flag. It was a move he would come to regret.

“The Confederate flag was the wallpaper of the South when I was a kid growing up in Gainesville, Florida,” Petty would say in 2015. “I always knew it had to do with the Civil War, but the South had adopted it as its logo. I was pretty ignorant of what it actually meant. It was on a flagpole in front of the courthouse and I often saw it in Western movies. I just honestly didn’t give it much thought, though I should have.”
“In 1985, I released an album called Southern Accents. It began as a concept record about the South, but the concept part slipped away probably 70 percent or so into the album. I just let it go, but the Confederate flag became part of the marketing for the tour. I wish I had given it more thought. It was a downright stupid thing to do.”

A sticking point for Petty was when fans began to bring Confederate flags to shows. In 2010, Fred Mills of BLURT recalled seeing Petty live in 1990 (with Lenny Kravitz opening, no less) when a fan tossed a Confederate flag onstage.
“A certain yahoo element had already been making its presence in the crowd known, emitting whoops and raising beer cups whenever Petty would make a regional reference. It was starting to feel like a NASCAR rally in the arena. Now, as the band eased into the song’s signature piano intro, somebody tossed a folded-up object onto the stage,” said Mills. “Petty walked over, picked it up, and started unfolding it: a rebel flag, symbol of the Confederacy—and of a whole lot more. He froze, uncertain as to what he should do. Well, wave it proudly at all your fellow Southerners, you could almost hear the collective thought ripple through the air. Instead, Petty walked back to the mic, still holding the flag, and slowly began to speak, talking about how on the Southern Accents Tour a few years ago they’d included a Confederate flag as part of the stage set, but since then he’d been thinking about it and decided that it had been a mistake because he understood maybe it wasn’t just a rebel image to some folks. As a low rumble of boos and a few catcalls came out of the crowd, Petty carefully wadded the flag up and concluded, ‘So we don’t do’—nodding at the flag—‘this anymore.’ Glaring at it one last time and then chucking it back down, he glanced at the band then launched directly into the next song.”

Petty’s success continued in the late 1980s with the multiplatinum Full Moon Fever (his first official solo album), which featured hits “I Won’t Back Down”, “Free Fallin'” and “Runnin’ Down a Dream”. It was nominally his first solo album, although several Heartbreakers and other well-known musicians participated: Mike Campbell co-produced the album with Petty and Jeff Lynne of Electric Light Orchestra, and backing musicians included Campbell, Lynne, and fellow Wilburys Roy Orbison and George Harrison (Ringo Starr appears on drums in the video for “I Won’t Back Down”, but they were actually performed by Phil Jones).

In 1988, Petty had joined George Harrison’s group, the Traveling Wilburys, which also included Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, and Jeff Lynne, a move that made him one of the more venerated “elders” of the MTV generation, and it also emphasized Petty as a conduit that connected three musical generations of rock.
The band’s first song, “Handle with Care”, was intended as a B-side of one of Harrison’s singles, but was judged too good for that purpose and the group decided to record a full album, Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1. A second Wilburys album, mischievously titled Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3 and recorded without the recently deceased Orbison, followed in 1990. The album was named Vol. 3 as a response to a series of bootlegged studio sessions being sold as Travelling Wilburys Vol. 2. Petty incorporated Traveling Wilburys songs into his live shows, consistently playing “Handle with Care” in shows from 2003 to 2006, and for his 2008 tour adding “surprises” such as “End of the Line” to the set list.

Petty and the Heartbreakers reformed in 1991 and released Into the Great Wide Open, which was co-produced by Lynne and included the hit singles “Learning To Fly” and “Into the Great Wide Open”, the latter featuring Johnny Depp and Faye Dunaway in the music video.

Before leaving MCA Records, Petty and the Heartbreakers got together to record, live in the studio, two new songs for a Greatest Hits package: “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” and Thunderclap Newman’s “Something in the Air”. This was Stan Lynch’s last recorded performance with the Heartbreakers. Petty commented “He left right after the session without really saying goodbye.” The package went on to sell over ten million copies, therefore receiving diamond certification by the RIAA.

Even as pop culture became dominated by grunge and gangsta rap in the 1990s, there was Tom Petty, consistently charting with hit singles like “Into the Great Wide Open” and “Mary Jane’s Last Dance.” And he and The Heartbreakers had toured with Bob Dylan, played with Johnny Cash, and written hits with George Harrison and Roy Orbison. Even his most famous producers—Jimmy Iovine, Jeff Lynne, and Rick Rubin—represented entirely different generations and approaches to rock music.

In the 2000s, Petty continued to rankle the suits—albeit more as a cantankerous elder statesman than brash upstart – most notably on 2002’s The Last DJ, which railed against commercial radio and the hollowness of the modern music industry. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002, he and The Heartbreakers continued as one of rock’s most successful institutions. Along the way, there had been scars (the 1994 firing of long time drummer Stan Lynch, Petty’s 1996 divorce from his first wife Jane, which catapulted him into becoming a heroin addict for several years and then bassist Howie Epstein’s death at age 47 in 2003 from a heroin overdose) but Tom Petty seemed to be a permanent fixture in the musical firmament, forever playing a gig and being on tour and reminding fans everywhere just how many of his songs had been a part of their lives.

Tom Petty’s journey came to an unexpected end on Oct. 2, 2017 just a week after finishing his 40th Anniversary Tour, and it may be hard for some to recognize why this old rocker meant so much to so many people across so many generations. Tom Petty was possessed of the kind of easygoing coolness that you took for granted until it was staring you in the face, his songs sounded simple but burst with ideas and subtext, and his band was fucking sick without ever seeming showy. He was ballsy enough to do things his way and honest enough to admit when his way had been flat-out wrong. We’ll always have the songs. But man… we are really going to miss having him.

Tom Petty seemed to embody something that has always been perfect about rock ’n’ roll music. The spirit of the songs, at its purest, is one of freedom and unpretentiousness. It’s there in Chuck Berry’s odes to adolescent thrills, the nervous energy of Eddie Cochran, and the aching earnestness of Roy Orbison. And it’s there throughout the best songs from Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers.


My dear friend Bob Lefsetz forwarded me this tribute to Tom Petty from his website this morning. I felt like sharing it as it explains perfectly how I also feel about rock music and his place in history.

“Oh, baby don’t it feel like heaven right now
Don’t it feel like something from a dream”

He’s in heaven, and we’re dreaming, but it’s a nightmare.

I woke up to the Las Vegas tragedy. And what’s so weird is I was with one of the touring honchos last night discussing this possibility and he said it was just a matter of when.

And I saw Tom Petty, live, in the flesh, JUST TEN DAYS AGO!

So I’m at lunch with my mother, at Brent’s Deli in Northridge. She came out for Yom Kippur. I’m hoping she’s written in the book of the living. With her marbles intact. And my phone, which I’d turned to vibrate, since I wanted my mom to know I was paying total attention, started to go berserk. And ultimately I told her to hold on a second, I slipped my plus-sized device from my pocket and was confronted with a text on the home screen, “Is Tom Petty now dead?”

Huh? There are people who are ill, people who are aged, but like I said, I just saw Tom last week, it did not compute!

I didn’t believe it. The internet is laden with rumors. I told my mother to give me a minute. I searched for news.

And then I found the TMZ story.

And TMZ never gets it wrong. They’d be sued out of existence. Tom had cardiac arrest, he was brain dead, and…

I still did not believe it.

I don’t know what your life is based upon. I don’t know what it’s about. The sixties were about sports, my transistor told the stories of Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford and Tony Kubek. I dreamed of playing in the big leagues.

And then the Beatles hit.

There’s been nothing like it since. I wasn’t the only one. It happened to Petty too.

Just like the nineties, when everybody bought a computer to play on AOL, everybody bought a guitar, formed a band, we were infatuated with the music.

And our heroes were British.

But in the seventies…

The Americans penetrated.

Petty wasn’t there first, but by time he broke through…

He had history, he had gravitas, he had insight, he was the antithesis of a prepubescent rocker, all poses and no substance. He’d lived, played bars, gone to shows, and when he finally put out a record…

It was the one he wanted to make.

Those are the ones that last. Not the ones made for a market, chasing a hit, but personal statements, of truth.

Have you ever heard “Luna”? It sounds like a steamy night on a rooftop, that’s what music does best, not tell a story, but instigate your own, set your mind free to remember, to think, to envelop yourself in this thing we call life.

But now Tom Petty is dead. How can this be?

We don’t know exactly why, but one thing’s for sure, most rockers don’t last into old age. John Lennon was killed. The Big C got George. And history is littered with O.D.’s and casualties of the lifestyle. They thought they were gonna live forever, but they really didn’t live that long.

And by time Tom’s second LP was released it was the heyday of AOR, with tracks codified to formula. Corporate rock killed the record business. But Petty was never corporate rock.

And then he stood up for low prices, he didn’t want to be the poster boy for ripping off the customer, and after declaring bankruptcy, taking too much time off, he exploded on the radio with “Refugee” and everybody had to own “Damn The Torpedoes” and suddenly he was the biggest star in the land. He didn’t come from nowhere, he just needed the timing to be right, to get his story across right, kinda like the Boss with “Born To Run,” but that single was never as big as “Refugee,” there was not another hit on Springsteen’s album, whereas Petty dominated the radio and sold tonnage and got little respect for it, because when you dominate, when you score, it looks easy.
Yet it’s anything but.

And how do you follow this up?
Frampton gave the public what it wanted and it killed his career.

Petty kept searching, kept mixing it up. And then came the solo album and the Wilburys.

Tom Petty? He wasn’t old enough to be in that concoction. He was a junior member, the JV, but Jeff Lynne, et al, knew something we did not, that Tom Petty was a superstar, just because he started in the seventies as opposed to the sixties didn’t mean he wasn’t worthy.

He was the worthiest, the only one who continued to have hits. The only one who continued to dominate. The only one who continued to reach the masses.

Sure, Roy Orbison died. As did George. And I don’t want to take anything away from Dylan, but if you think his work of the last twenty five years is equal to the twenty five years before it, you’re lying to yourself.

And Tom Petty never lied to himself, he was all about honesty.

And his shows were not nostalgia. He did that stand at the Fonda where he played deep cuts. And I’ll always remember him plucking a golden oldie from the country world and labeling today’s country music “the rock of the seventies.” And in most cases it is. I’ve been quoting him ever since.

But Tom won’t be uttering any more gems. He won’t be utilizing his drawl on Sirius XM. He’s gone.

But that can’t be! This is not Elvis, past his prime and decrepit at 42. I don’t even want to play the records, I don’t want to remember what once was, I still believe it can be.


How do I explain an era that was cottage industry, when the music business was built. When all the action was outside the home and you went to gigs with terrible PA’s to hear bands that oftentimes couldn’t replicate the records. Does anybody even remember Frank Barsalona? He deserves a hell of a lot more credit for building the modern concert business than Bill Graham, and my goal is not to piss you off, and I don’t believe art, never mind business, should be ranked, but Petty was the last person doing it the way they used to, sans attitude, with a smile on his face, with the band intact. He didn’t whore himself out to corporations. He didn’t take the easy, expedient money. You could believe in him! In an era where everybody’s doing it for themselves and the audience is the odd man out. You want to feel included, you want to believe the artist is doing it for YOU!

Not that Tom didn’t take risks, didn’t stretch, don’t you remember him dropping in on “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show,” on Showtime, when the classiest thing on HBO was “Dream On”? Tom didn’t play a song, he just lived in the neighborhood, it was so bizarre.

But now Shandling is gone and Bowie is gone and Frey is gone and Prince is gone but Petty?


You don’t want to outlive your children. Going on without Tom Petty is too painful, it wasn’t his time, he still had a lot of living to do. He wasn’t calcified, he was still pushing the envelope.

And he’d already surprised us so much. Solo albums bigger than band albums? The aforementioned Wilburys? When done right, music is a journey, you’re not a prisoner of your hits, Tom was on an endless hejira, all the way from Gainesville to the promised land, and if you don’t think Hollywood is that, the L.A. basin, you’re too scared to come out here and compete where who your parents are and where you went to school are irrelevant, where it’s all about the hustle and the talent, and some make it, very few, but almost nobody sustains.

Tom Petty sustained.

So it feels like a family member died. I’m numb. In shock. And eventually it will pass, and I’ll march on, it’s the nature of humanity.

And that’s what Tom Petty’s music had, humanity.

My girlfriend slept with another guy and I played “A Woman In Love (It’s Not Me),” over and over again.

And when I heard the drop in “Here Comes My Girl,” I felt powerful, like I had game, like I could impress the opposite sex, that’s what music does, ride shotgun, turn you into your best self, help you get through.

And I don’t want this piece to end. I want to keep on writing. Because as long as I do, Tom is still alive, I’m distracted, I don’t have to confront that giant hole inside me that can only be filled with music, too often not the music made today, pabulum, researched stuff for a market. Once upon a time music was art. Tom Petty made art.

Today I was in Reseda.
Tonight I drove down Mulholland.
But one thing’s for sure, I’m free fallin’. Out into nothin’.

But tonight Tom Petty didn’t leave this world for a while, but for all time.
And I just don’t want to accept that.
But I have to.

Now it’s down to us. We must carry on his vision. March into the future. Knowing that the music counts and not everything is right but when you build a catalog of hits you’re not only part of the firmament, you live forever.
In people’s minds. Where rock music resides.
Where Tom Petty forever shall be.

Oct 062017

Grant Hart of Husker DuSeptember 13, 2017 – Grant Vernon Hart (Hüsker Dü) was born in St. Paul, MN on March 18, 1961 and at the age of 10, he inherited his older brother’s drum set and records, after he was killed by a drunk driver. Hart described his family as a “typical American dysfunctional family. Not very abusive, though. Nothing really to complain about.” He soon began playing in a number of makeshift bands throughout high school.
Hart met Bob Mould while working at a record store. Mould, then a college freshman, would buy marijuana from Hart. At first Hart dismissed Mould as “an upstater pretending to be a Manhattanite,” but the two soon became friends and brought in Greg Norton and keyboard player Charlie Pine to start a new band. Pine did not last and the three moved forward under the name Hüsker Dü.

Their first single, “Statuses”, was a self produced affair and released on Reflex Records in 1981. Their touring brought them to the attention of such punk artists as Jello Biafra and Black Flagg’s Greg Ginn who spread the word about the new band. The band’s early material had them lumped in with the hardcore movement of the early 1980s. The band members received help from their parents in their early days. In Hart’s case, his mother let him use the copier machine at the credit union where she worked to make show flyers and the band added $2,000 to an existing loan at the credit union to release the band’s first single, “Statues,” on their own label Reflex Records in 1981. Success existed on a small scale for the band; by 1982 however Hart was unemployed and relied on support from friends and family.

Hüsker Dü’s music became more accomplished and melodic over time. By late 1982, Hart’s drumming “rushed the music along more precisely than ever” and he and Mould, who traded vocal duties, were singing more tunefully. While Mould was the band’s primary songwriter, Hart began writing more songs. Hart wrote two songs for 1983’s Metal Circus EP, the “perversely sing-along” “Diane” and the “impassioned speed-pop gem” “It’s Not Funny Anymore.” Hüsker Dü’s more melodic take on hardcore struck a chord with college students, and various tracks from Metal Circus, particularly Hart’s “Diane,” were put into rotation by dozens of campus radio stations across the US. Hart was tagged by observers as the “hippie” of the group due to his long hair and his propensity to drum with bare feet; biographer Michael Azerrad additionally noted that “the wide-eyed sincerity of his songs was far more San Francisco ’67 than New York City ’77,” which contrasted with Mould’s “incisively bitter” songs.

As Hart and Mould developed as musicians and songwriters, an unspoken tension and competition arose in the band between them. Tensions were heightened when Mould demanded that starting with 1984’s Zen Arcade that the band’s records contain individual songwriter credits. In spite of the creative tensions, Hüsker Dü garnered critical acclaim with the release of Zen Arcade and subsequent albums. Michael Azerrad stated that by 1985’s Flip Your Wig “the two songwriters were trying their level best to outdo each other, and with spectacular results”. Hüsker Dü had left the hardcore genre behind, which caused some discomfort with their label at the time, SST Records. In one interview, Hart hinted that SST thought Hüsker Dü were “soft” because they stayed in motels while touring and occasionally wrote happy songs. Hart elaborated, “We don’t have to convince the world that we’re suffering to convince them that we’re artists… There’s nothing wrong with being happy.” Hart designed most of Hüsker Dü’s album covers.

In 1986 Hüsker Dü became the first key band from the American indie scene to sign with a major label, inking a deal with Warner Bros. Records. However, tensions within the band worsened after signing with Warner Bros. Hart became addicted to heroin following the band’s tour behind their major label debut Candy Apple Grey in 1986, with Hart also being incorrectly diagnosed as HIV-positive in the middle of that year. Mould and Hart were feuding openly about Hart’s drug use and creative conflicts, with Hart accusing Mould of ensuring he could not have more than 45 percent of the songs on each of the band’s albums.

The band dissolved after a show in Columbia, Missouri, in 1987. Hart was trying to quit heroin using a supply of methadone, but the bottle had leaked. Hart played the show, but Mould and Norton were concerned Hart would soon be suffering from withdrawal and thus would be unable to play the next few shows. While Hart insisted he could perform, Mould had already canceled the dates. Hart quit the band four days later. Hart has said his drug use was not the reason for the band’s demise, rather, it was the tensions between the band members. Hart said, “It just became that it was easier to be around Bob if you were playing a part of Bob’s game,” and also said he felt Mould’s songs had become increasingly “square.”

Though it was often rumored during his Hüsker Dü days that he and bandmate Mould were an item (Hart was openly bisexual, Mould is openly gay, and both acknowledge taking partners on tour), both have flatly denied ever having been romantically involved.

In 1988, Hart released his solo debut, the EP 2541 and followed with the album Intolerance (1989) and the EP All of My Senses (1990) before forming the band Nova Mob. The band released two LPs and an EP before breaking up.

Hart would go on to release three more solo studio albums including 2013’s The Argument. He and Mould reunited in 2005 for a benefit for Karl Mueller of Soul Asylum. Grant was also the subject of the 2013 documentary Every Everything: The Music, Life & Times of Grant Hart.

Grant made his last appearance in July 2017 at an all-star concert in his honor in Minneapolis.

Grant died battling cancer on September 14, 2017 at the age of 56.

Founding band member Bob Mould wrote:

It was the Fall of 1978. I was attending Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. One block from my dormitory was a tiny store called Cheapo Records. There was a PA system set up near the front door blaring punk rock. I went inside and ended up hanging out with the only person in the shop. His name was Grant Hart.

The next nine years of my life was spent side-by-side with Grant. We made amazing music together. We (almost) always agreed on how to present our collective work to the world. When we fought about the details, it was because we both cared. The band was our life. It was an amazing decade.

We stopped working together in January 1988. We went on to solo careers, fronting our own bands, finding different ways to tell our individual stories. We stayed in contact over the next 29 years — sometimes peaceful, sometimes difficult, sometimes through go-betweens. For better or worse, that’s how it was, and occasionally that’s what it is when two people care deeply about everything they built together.

The tragic news of Grant’s passing was not unexpected to me. My deepest condolences and thoughts to Grant’s family, friends, and fans around the world. Grant Hart was a gifted visual artist, a wonderful story teller, and a frighteningly talented musician. Everyone touched by his spirit will always remember.

Godspeed, Grant. I miss you. Be with the angels.

Sep 182017

WALTER BECKER OF STEELY DANSeptember 3, 2017 – Walter Carl Becker (Steely Dan) was born February 20, 1950 in Queens, New York.

Becker was raised by his father and grandmother, after his parents separated when he was a young boy and his mother, who was British, moved back to England. They lived in Queens and as of the age of five in Scarsdale, New York. Becker’s father sold paper-cutting machinery for a company which had offices in Manhattan.

He graduated from Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan in the class of 1967. After starting out on saxophone, he switched to guitar and received instruction in blues technique from neighbor Randy Wolfe, better known as Randy California of the psychedelic westcoast sensation “Spirit”, a nickname he got from Jimi Hendrix while playing with him in New York in the mid sixties.

He encountered his future partner Fagen as a student at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, while playing a gig at the local club the Red Balloon. In his 2013 memoir “Eminent Hipsters,” Fagen – who studied music and English at the school — recalled, “His amp was tweaked to produce a fat, mellow sound, and turned up loud enough to generate a healthy Albert King-like sustain.”

The musicians bonded over their love of jazz and blues and the writing of such novelists as Vladimir Nabokov and humorists Bruce Jay Friedman and Terry Southern. They performed together in a number of campus bands, including one, the Leather Canary, which included classmate and future “Saturday Night Live” movie star Chevy Chase on drums.

Becker withdrew from Bard without a diploma; after Fagen graduated in 1969, the musicians moved to Brooklyn to find work in the professional music business. They served as studio members of the pop act Jay and the Americans. In 1971, the duo decamped to Los Angeles to serve as house songwriters for ABC/Dunhill, the publishing firm operated by the Americans’ record label.

Impressed by Fagen and Becker’s songwriting, label president Jay Lasker offered the pair a contract with the label. They organized a working group with New York guitarist Denny Dias, guitarist Jeff “Skunk” Baxter and drummer Jimmy Hodder; on early recordings with this lineup, Becker usually served as bassist.

Dubbed Steely Dan after a like-named sex toy in William S. Burroughs’ black-hearted novel “Naked Lunch,” the unit debuted in 1972 with the LP “Can’t Buy a Thrill.” Produced by Gary Katz (who shepherded all the act’s ‘70s releases), it spawned the massive radio hit “Do It Again,” which climbed to No. 6; the follow-up single “Reeling in the Years” peaked at No. 11.

The sophomore set “Countdown to Ecstasy” (1973) – which included “My Old School,” a backhanded tribute to Fagen and Becker’s alma mater Bard – was perhaps too bitter for most listeners and failed to produce any Billboard hits, although the album was definitely noticed by the insiders.

So no surprise when album rockers lofted the 1974 collection “Pretzel Logic” to No. 8. Driven mainly by the work of such jazz-bred sidemen as saxophonists Jerome Richardson and Ernie Watts and bassist Wilton Felder of the Crusaders, the album included the No. 4 single “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number,” which baldly lifted the keyboard hook of jazz keyboardist Horace Silver’s “Song For My Father.”

The group’s subsequent five albums during that decade — each more polished and ambitious than the one before it — reaffirmed Steely Dan’s status as the one of the most sophisticated and urbane in contemporary pop and rock. The fact that Becker and Fagen were both longtime jazz fans was reflected in the intricacy of Steely Dan’s twisting compositions, which featured advanced harmonies and modulations rarely attempted by other rock or pop acts. It also made touring a much more tense adventure. In the end they stopped touring, simply because it became too difficult to perform their challenging music well on stage.

“Originally we had a band known as Steely Dan. As we moved away from the band, we got whoever was appropriate for specific tunes,” Becker explained in a 1988 Union-Tribune interview. “In a lot of cases, we gravitated toward jazz players who had more sophisticated harmonic concepts… It’s a mystery to me why everybody doesn’t love jazz. I’ve never been able to figure that out.”

Growing tension within the band and Fagen and Becker’s antipathy for touring led to the dissolution of the touring Steely Dan configuration in 1974, and the duo would thereafter perform with a succession of studio musicians. Becker increasingly took on lead guitar chores, though such players as Lee Ritenour, Rick Derringer, Dean Parks, Elliott Randall, Larry Carlton and Mark Knopfler also contributed.

The albums “Katy Lied” (No. 13, 1975) and “The Royal Scam” (No. 15, 1976) bore no hit singles, but were lofted by FM radio play. The group’s biggest early hit came with “Aja,” a shimmering No. 3 set that included the top-20 singles “Peg” and “Deacon Blues.”

A confluence of difficulties led to the band’s 1981 dissolution. The prolonged  two year making of “Gaucho,” which contained Steely Dan’s final top-10 hit “Hey Nineteen,” witnessed burgeoning antipathy between the two long-running partners.

“It was the ‘Gaucho’ album that finished us off,’ Becker said in a 1994 interview with England’s Independent. “We had pursued an idea beyond the point where it was practical. That album took about two years, and we were working on it all of that time – all these endless tracking sessions involving different musicians. It took forever and it was a very painful process.”

The personality clashes were exacerbated by a lawsuit engendered by the drug overdose death of Becker’s girlfriend Karen Stanley and a serious injury Becker sustained when he was struck by a New York cab.

When Becker and Fagen went their separate ways in 1981, Becker retreated to the Hawaiian island of Maui, where he grappled with drug abuse and laid low. “I spent a couple of years not doing any music or anything, just here in Hawaii trying to get healthy and adjust to the new regimen I was setting up for myself,” he told England’s Mojo magazine in 1995.

He crept back to work as a producer, helming albums by China Crisis (“Flaunt the Imperfection,” 1985), Rickie Lee Jones (“Flying Cowboys,” 1989) and Michael Franks (“Blue Pacific,” 1990).

His work on Rosie Vela’s 1986 collection “Zazu” marked his first work with Fagen since the breakup of Steely Dan; five years later, he gigged informally with Fagen’s group the New York Rock and Soul Revue, which harbingered the partnership’s touring reunion in 1993 in support of the comprehensive boxed set “Citizen Steely Dan.”

In 1993, Becker and Fagen reunited for a Steely Dan tour, but on the solo front, Becker not only produced Fagen’s 1993 album KAMAKIRIAD but also finally got around to releasing his solo debut album, 11 TRACKS OF WHACK, in 1994.

After doing a few more tours and an extended period of studio work, Becker and Fagen entered the studio and recorded their first album in two decades, the self-produced “Two Against Nature,” which climbed to No. 6 and collected great kudos as it went on to win four Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year. The following year, Steely Dan was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 2003 the band released another new album, EVERYTHING MUST GO, which featured the first-ever lead vocal by Becker on the song “Slang of Ages.” That same year, Bard dropout Becker and partner Fagen received honorary music doctorates from the Berklee College of Music.

Although Becker and Fagen never got around to recording another Steely Dan album, they continued to tour together while for his part, Becker did manage to release a second solo album (2008’s CIRCUS MONEY) and continued to produce, write, and play for other artists, among them Krishna Das, Rebecca Pidgeon and jazzy vocalist Madeleine Peyroux’s “Half the Perfect World” (2006) and “Bare Bones” (2009).

Anecdote: The band’s wry sense of humor was reflected in its often devious song lyrics and in the names of its tours, which in 2013 included the “8 Miles to Pancake Day” tour. Explaining the name of that tour in a 2013 San Diego Union-Tribune interview, Becker said — with his tongue firmly in cheek — “ ‘8 Miles to Pancake Day’ is a reconciliation of the classic space-time dilemma. In other words, time vs. distance. In other words, like the Russian army sergeant says: ‘You will dig me a ditch from here to dinner time’.”

Concern for Becker’s health was raised earlier in the summer of 2017 when he missed both of Steely Dan’s July appearances at the Classic West and Classic East music festivals. During a press conference later, Fagen stated that Becker was “recovering from a procedure and hopefully he’ll be fine very soon.” He offered no further specifics on Becker’s ailment or condition.
Together with his longtime Steely Dan collaborator Donald Fagen, Becker brought revolutionary new levels of sophistication to rock and roll songwriting and studio production, incorporating elements of jazz, latin music, R&B, soul and traditional pop, reason why I have included him in the line up of legends. They were truly revolutionary.

Walter Becker passed on September 3, 2017 in Hawaii, from an undisclosed illness.

Donald Fagen: Walter Becker was my friend, my writing partner and my bandmate since we met as students at Bard College in 1967. We started writing nutty little tunes on an upright piano in a small sitting room in the lobby of Ward Manor, a mouldering old mansion on the Hudson River that the college used as a dorm.

We liked a lot of the same things: jazz (from the twenties through the mid-sixties), W.C. Fields, the Marx Brothers, science fiction, Nabokov, Kurt Vonnegut, Thomas Berger, and Robert Altman films come to mind. Also soul music and Chicago blues.

Walter had a very rough childhood — I’ll spare you the details. Luckily, he was smart as a whip, an excellent guitarist and a great songwriter. He was cynical about human nature, including his own, and hysterically funny. Like a lot of kids from fractured families, he had the knack of creative mimicry, reading people’s hidden psychology and transforming what he saw into bubbly, incisive art. He used to write letters (never meant to be sent) in my wife Libby’s singular voice that made the three of us collapse with laughter.

His habits got the best of him by the end of the seventies, and we lost touch for a while. In the eighties, when I was putting together the NY Rock and Soul Review with Libby, we hooked up again, revived the Steely Dan concept and developed another terrific band.

I intend to keep the music we created together alive as long as I can with the Steely Dan band.

 You loved music more than anyone I know. You’re always there bobbing your head to each beat,  doing a little dance here and there, or sitting over there with your big head phones on and swaying back and forth. I could see it, your dissecting the song — listening in closely for each beat, for each musical instrument — you know, whatever you musicians do. But I get it.

Every road trip without fail came The Pit Stop at some guitar store. Heck, dad, I keep telling you why don’t you just own your own store? Five hours go by as I sit watching you fiddle with a guitar here and there…yet you never end up buying one. I understand though; it was your fun place, like an arcade; playing all you can, and as loud as you can. Your candy shop.
Dad you’re kinda funny; sometimes I may not understand the meaning behind your witty highly intelligent comments or jokes, but for you to smile and make everyone  — or even thousands all at once — smile and laugh, then yeah you got something going for you pops… I get it. Your presence makes everyone’s day a little brighter. I love you for that.

Coast to coast. How is it that you know so many facts about every state or country we visit?  We would walk through Central Park Zoo and just randomly point out some little thing… and here it comes, some long historical fact about it. Dad, it’s a seal for crying out loud! It amazes me how intelligent you are.
    “Dad, I like that we understand one another”
    “Sa-girl, we are soul mates”
    “Dad I love you to the moon and back”
    “Girly face I love you more than that, to the next galaxy”
    “Wow, that’s far!”
    “Well it’s true”
    “…Thanks dad”
… for your love for music, your fatherly advice and devotion, your knowledge about the world and your blindingly sharp sense of humor … for all that, and more.
We had one hell of a ride. You are my world, my soulmate, my father, that  I love so much. 
It’s true your love is shining from the next galaxy. I could see it now; you got a whole galaxy of guitars to look at. Rock on dad, rock on until your heart is content.
I hear you.
I get you.
-Your only Pulama Ama Lama.

Aug 082017

glen campbell, country pop starAugust 8, 2017 – Glen Travis Campbell was born on April 22, 1936 in Billstown, a tiny community near Delight in Pike County, Arkansas. He was the seventh son of 12 children. His father was a sharecropper of Scottish ancestry.
He received his first guitar when he was four years old. Learning the instrument from various relatives, especially Uncle Boo,, he played consistently throughout his childhood, eventually gravitating toward jazz players like Barney Kessel and Django Reinhardt. While he was learning guitar, he also sang in a local church, where he developed his vocal skills. By the time he was 14, he had begun performing with a number of country bands in the Arkansas, Texas, and New Mexico area, including his uncle’s group, the Dick Bills Band. When he was 18, he formed his own country band, the Western Wranglers, and began touring the South with the group. Four years later in 1960, Campbell moved to Los Angeles, California, where he became a session musician.

In 1954, at age 18 Campbell moved to Albuquerque to join his uncle’s band known as Dick Bills and the Sandia Mountain Boys. He also appeared there on his uncle’s radio show and on K Circle B Time, the local children’s program on KOB television. In 1958, Campbell formed his own band, the Western Wranglers.

In October 1960 he joined The Champs. By January 1961, Campbell had found a daytime job at publishing company American Music, writing songs and recording demos. Because of these demos Campbell soon was in demand as a session musician and became part of a group of studio musicians later known as The Wrecking Crew. Campbell played on recordings by Bobby Darin, Ricky Nelson, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, The Monkees, Nancy Sinatra, Merle Haggard, Jan and Dean, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, and Phil Spector.

In May 1961, he left The Champs and was subsequently signed by Crest Records, a subsidiary of American Music. His first solo release, “Turn Around, Look at Me”, was a moderate success, peaking at number 62 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1961. Campbell also formed The Gee Cees with former bandmembers from The Champs, performing at The Crossbow Inn in Van Nuys. The Gee Cees, too, released a single on Crest, the instrumental “Buzz Saw”, which did not chart.

While he was tentatively pursuing a solo career, Campbell continued to play professionally, most notably for Elvis Presley and Dean Martin. Also in 1962, he played guitar and sang on “Kentucky Means Paradise,” a single by the one-off group the Green River Boys, who released an album, Big Bluegrass Special. “Kentucky Means Paradise” became a hit on the country charts, climbing to number 20. Instead of pursuing a full-fledged country career after the single’s release, Campbell returned to studio work, and over the next two years he played on sessions by Frank Sinatra (“Strangers in the Night”), Merle Haggard (“The Legend of Bonnie and Clyde”), the Monkees (“I’m a Believer”), the Association, and the Mamas & the Papas, among many others.

Following Brian Wilson’s breakdown and retirement from the road, Campbell became a touring member of the Beach Boys from December 1964 to early March 1965. At the end of his tenure as the group’s temporary bassist, the Beach Boys offered him a permanent spot in the band, but he turned them down when they wouldn’t allow him to have an equal cut of the group’s royalties.He later played guitar on the band’s Pet Sounds (1966) album, among other recordings. On tour, he played bass guitar and sang falsetto harmonies when a few months after rejecting their offer, the Beach Boys’ record label, Capitol, offered Campbell a full-fledged contract. His first release under his new long-term Capitol contract was a version of Buffy Sainte-Marie’s controversial ”The Universal Soldier,” which peaked at number 45. Asked about the pacifist message of the song, he elected to assert that “people who are advocating burning draft cards should be hung.”
For much of 1966, he continued to pursue studio work and joined Ricky Nelson on a tour through the Far East, again playing bass.
He released “Burning Bridges” toward the end of the year, and it climbed to number 18 on the country charts early in 1967.

From 1964 on, Campbell had also begun to appear on television as a regular on Star Route, a syndicated series hosted by Rod Cameron, ABC’s Shindig!, and Hollywood Jamboree.

During 1967, Capitol pushed Campbell as a country recording artist, and their breakthrough arrived in the late summer when his folky country-pop rendition of John Hartford’s “Gentle on My Mind” became a Top 40 hit on both the country and pop charts. By the end of the year, he had released a cover of Jimmy Webb’s “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” which reached number two on the country charts, and number 26 on the pop charts. Early in 1968, “Gentle on My Mind” won the Grammy Award for Best Country & Western Recording of 1967. Campbell’s success continued in 1968, as “I Wanna Live” became his first number one hit and “Dreams of the Everyday Housewife” reached number three. The following year, CBS television hired him to host the variety show The Glen Campbell Good Time Hour, which became quite popular and helped establish him as not only a country star, but a pop music superstar.

Throughout the late ’60s and early ’70s, Campbell continued to rack up hit singles, including the number one hits “Wichita Lineman” (1968) and “Galveston” (1969), plus the Top Ten singles “Try a Little Kindness” (1969), “Honey Come Back” (1970), “Everything a Man Could Ever Need” (1970), and “It’s Only Make Believe” (1970). In 1968, he began recording duets with Bobbie Gentry, and they had hit singles with their versions of two Everly Brothers songs: “Let It Be Me,” which reached 14 in 1969, and “All I Have to Do Is Dream,” which peaked at number six in 1970. Also in 1969, he began a film career, appearing in the John Wayne movie True Grit that year and Norwood the following year.

By 1972, Campbell’s record sales started slipping. After “Manhattan Kansas” reached number six that year, he had trouble having Top 40 hits for the next two years. Furthermore, his television show was canceled. As his career slowed, he began sinking into drug and alcohol addiction, which continued even through his mid-’70s revival. In 1975, he returned to the Top Ten with “Rhinestone Cowboy,” a huge hit that reached number one on both the country and pop charts. Over the next two years, he had a number of Top Ten country hits, including “Country Boy (You Got Your Feet in L.A.)” and “Don’t Pull Your Love”/”Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye,” which also reached the pop charts. In 1977, he had his final number one hit with “Southern Nights,” which topped both the country and pop charts.

Following the success of “Southern Nights” and its follow-up, “Sunflower,” Campbell stopped reaching the country Top Ten with regularity, yet he had a string of lesser hits and was an immensely popular performer in concert and television. His Tanya Tucker episode brought him again to the forefront of attention. During the mid-’80s, he experienced a brief commercial revival, as the singles “Faithless Love,” “A Lady Like You,” and “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle” all reached the country Top Ten. By that time, he had begun to clean up his act. Over the course of the mid-’80s, he kicked his addictions to drugs and alcohol and became a born-again Christian. Appropriately, he began recording inspirational albums, yet he didn’t abandon country music. As late as 1989, Campbell’s smooth, synth-laden contemporary country-pop was reaching the country Top Ten; his last two Top Ten country hits were “I Have You” (1988) and “She’s Gone, Gone, Gone” (1989).

Campbell began recording less frequently in the early ’90s, especially since he could no longer reach the charts and the radio, since they were dominated by new country artists. Over the course of the decade, he gradually moved into semi-retirement, concentrating on golf and performing at his Goodtime Theater in Branson, Missouri. In 1994, he published his autobiography, Rhinestone Cowboy. Campbell released a comeback album of sorts, the ironically titled Meet Glen Campbell, produced by Julian Raymond and Howard Willing, on Capitol Records in 2008.

In June of 2011, Campbell, by now 75 years old, announced that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. In spite of the ailment, he finished an album, Ghost on the Canvas, which was released in August that same year, and began a tour that was to be his farewell to the music business. A collection of outtakes from his last recording sessions, 2013’s See You There, featured Campbell performing new, more intimate versions of some of his best-known songs. A film crew, led by filmmaker James Keach, followed Campbell on his final concert tour, and the resulting documentary about Campbell’s life and music, Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me, began playing film festivals in the fall of 2014. The film’s soundtrack album was released February 2015, and included the poignant single “I’m Not Gonna Miss You.” While the single was billed as Campbell’s musical farewell, his longtime friend and accompanist Carl Jackson guided Glen though the sessions for a final album, 2017’s Adiós, which included four songs from Jimmy Webb.

Glen Campbell was a remarkably versatile musician who made music history in 1967 by winning four Grammys total in the country and pop categories. During his 50 years in show business, Campbell released more than 70 albums. He sold 45 million records and accumulated 12 RIAA Gold albums, four Platinum albums and one Double-platinum album. He placed a total of 80 different songs on either the Billboard Country Chart, Billboard Hot 100, or the Adult Contemporary Chart, of which 29 made the top 10 and of which nine reached number one on at least one of those charts.

He passed from Alzheimer’s on August 8, 2017 at the age of 81.

Aug 042017

Goldy McJohn - SteppenwolfAugust 1, 2017 – Goldy McJohn (Steppenwolf) was born John Raymond Goadsby in Toronto, Canada on May 2, 1945. He was raised by middle class parents in Toronto, Canada. They put him into piano lessons at a young age and with this foundation he became a pioneer in the use of the electronic organ in rock and roll.
“I was classically trained,” said Goldy. He also stated that no one else in rock and roll was doing was he was at the time. “I played on a Lowrey,” he said. And this is part of what he said gave songs such as “Born to be Wild” and “Magic Carpet Ride” their unique sound.
“I was up at 4 a.m. daily to practice from the age of seven until…I got stupid,” Goldy said.
While school in general was not his thing, (he was suspended from high school for three months,) he always did exceptionally well in music.
“I got 100 in music, which brought my average up to maybe 14,” Goldy said. His parents could not afford private school that could have catered more to the needs of a student like him.

By the mid-60’s, he was playing in the Canadian band Little John and the Friars and later moved on to The Mynah Birds which also counted as members Funk icon Rick James, Neil Young (after McJohn had left) and Bruce Palmer, the latter two of which would go on to Buffalo Springfield.

Next up was short stint with the Diplomats, after which he joined the Sparrows where he met John Kay who suggested he change his name to Goldy with Goadsby choosing the last name of McJohn. After securing a deal with Columbia Records, the Sparrows spent time in New York and then migrated west to the San Francisco Bay area and Los Angeles, where they broke up and reformed as Steppenwolf.

“I kept needling the guys. I said, ‘Man, I saw what’s going on out on the West Coast,” Kay recalled in an interview. Renaming their band Steppenwolf, they signed with ABC Records and released their self-named debut album in December of 1967.
By mid-1968, the band had a major hit on its hand with Born to Be Wild (1968/#2) and quickly followed with The Second which included the equally big Magic Carpet Ride (1968/#3). McJohn featured on both with his Hammond B3 Organ, one of the earliest cases of the instrument being used in metal rock. Born to Be Wild” is also accredited for being the first “heavy metal” song, and in the second verse of the song the words “heavy metal” appear for the first time in music.

We were the first heavy metal band, man! Other groups have tried to say they were, but you know where the words ‘heavy metal’ came from?” Goldy exclaimed, noting the line “heavy metal thunder.”
The name “Steppenwolf” came from the novel by Nobel Prize winning author Hermann Hesse.

They followed with Rock Me (1969), Move Over (1969), Monster (1969 ) and Hey Lawdy Mama (1970) but their popularity began to wane. They broke up in 1972 but ended up playing a farewell tour into the next year.

McJohn and band drummer Jerry Edmonton then formed the group Manbeast and, while there was never an album from the band, some of their recordings ended up on the 1974 reunion album Slow Flux.
Goldy was fired from the band in February of 1975 by John Kay and after another breakup, formed New Steppenwolf with fellow band member Nick St. Nicholas. McJohn was only in the band a short time.
McJohn went on to play with British rock voice Steve Marriott (The Small Faces) in a revived Humble Pie and later recorded a number of solo albums.

McJohn helped reform Steppenwolf in 1977 with Nick St. Nicholas and Kent Henry and played in several incarnations of the band.

Not unlike many other stars of rock and roll during this time, Goldy had his own battle with substance abuse; including LSD, acid and Quaaludes. But what really brought him down was being taken advantage of by agents and former bandmates. He went from being a well-off rock and roll star to being completely broke; at one point even being homeless.
Surprisingly enough, the person who helped him get clean was famous body builder Dave Draper.
Draper had won the Mr. America, Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia titles in the 1960s and just like Goldy, had been a victim of scheming agents, according to Goldy.
Draper encouraged Goldy to get himself back on track, and it took many attempts before it finally worked.
Going clean was an extremely difficult task, Goldy explained.
“For three weeks my heart pounded and I was curled up on the kitchen floor,” he described.

McJohn lived in Burien, Washington with his wife Sonja. His solo releases include New Visions, Fugue in D, Goldy McJohn & Friendz, Rat City in Blue, Set the World on Fire and Osmosis. Since 2008 Goldy performed with a national band under the names, Born To Be Wild Tour, Born To Be Wild, Magic Carpet Ride and Gm and Friendz.

He enjoyed playing golf for many years, was a painter, as well as a photographer.
“I really like texture,” he’d like to say.
If you look closely at his paintings, despite being abstract you can actually make out several faces of people.

In recent years, he put together a number of Steppenwolf related bands.

Goldy McJohn passed on August 1,  just two days before Steppenwolf would play their 50th Anniversary show at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. He was 72.

Goldy had been an active and enthusiastic mentor for Stand Up for the Music, working closely with HungryGenius managing partner, Anthony Spadaro.
“Goldy was an amazing soul and an incredible artist, and just plain fun. May his legacy live on forever.” – Anthony Spadaro

“I connected with him immediately, may his transition be smooth.” – Harold Brown

“Long live rock and roll. Love you Goldy.” – Terry Ilous

As Goldy would say, “It’s showtime.” Goldy got the ball rolling on a new chapter a year ago, when he posted this to his website: “STAY TUNED. The next chapter of my magic carpet ride has just gotten underway!
The train will keep on rolling, eh. Long live rock and roll. We love you, man!

Jul 212017

July 20, 2017 – Chester Bennington (Linkin Park) was born on 20 March 1976 in Phoenix, Arizona. The son of a police detective who worked with child sex abuse cases, Bennington had a troubled youth. “Growing up, for me, was very scary and very lonely,” he told Metal Hammer magazine in 2014.
“I started getting molested when I was about seven or eight,” he said, describing the abuser as an older friend. “I was getting beaten up and being forced to do things I didn’t want to do. It destroyed my self-confidence. Like most people, I was too afraid to say anything. I didn’t want people to think I was gay or that I was lying. It was a horrible experience,” he told the magazine.

His parents divorced when he was 11 years old, and he went to live with his father, whom he described as “not emotionally very stable then”, adding that “there was no-one I could turn to”. Soon after his parents divorced he began abusing marijuana, alcohol, opium, cocaine, methamphetamine and LSD. The abuse and situation at home affected him so much that he felt the urge to kill people and run away. To comfort himself, he drew pictures and wrote poetry and songs. He later revealed the abuser’s identity to his father, but chose not to continue the case after he realized the abuser was a victim himself.

After years of intense drug use as a teenager, he got sober and moved to Los Angeles, where he successfully auditioned to join Linkin Park.

An early line-up of Linkin Park was formed in 1996 and the band’s 2000 debut album, Hybrid Theory, surfed the popular wave of nu-metal, Rolling Stone magazine writes. The album’s canny mix of pop, hip-hop, and melodic alt-rock drove it to sales of more than 11 million copies early on, making it the top-selling rock record of the ’00s. Given the rapid changes to the music industry in the immediate aftermath of Hybrid Theory, it’s plausible to suggest that no rock record will ever come close to achieving those sorts of sales figures ever again. The album single-handedly initiated Bennington into a small (now rapidly shrinking) fraternity of arena-rock vocalists — Bennington was one of the few guys on the planet with the qualifications to front a big-time rock band.
Hybrid Theory eventually sold more than 30 million albums and became one of the top-selling albums since the start of this millennium.

The angst-ridden vocals of Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington helped lead the group to global critical acclaim.
The frontman’s brooding charisma – added to the group’s blend of rap, metal and electronic music – spawned a string of chart-topping hits.

Later in the 2000s, as the band’s success took off, he again began using drugs before returning to sobriety, telling Spin Magazine in 2009: “It’s not cool to be an alcoholic.
“It’s not cool to go drink and be a dumbass.
“It’s cool to be a part of recovery.
“Most of my work has been a reflection of what I’ve been going through in one way or another,” he added.

The band has sold 70 million albums worldwide and won two Grammy Awards.
Linkin Park had a string of hits including Faint, Numb, What I’ve done, In The End and Crawling, and collaborated with rapper Jay-Z.

Their latest music video for the song ‘Talking to Myself’ was released on the same day this father of six took his life. Another coincidence of his day of departure: Sound Garden’s Chris Cornell, who took his own life in May, would have turned 53. Bennington and Cornell were close for many years. The two had toured together and joined each other onstage, and Bennington even performed Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” at Cornell’s private Los Angeles funeral at Hollywood Forever Cemetery on May 26. He was also the Godfather to Cornell’s son Christopher.

Upon hearing the horrible news of Cornell’s death, the night before Linkin Park’s Kimmel tribute, Bennington posted a heart-wrenching open letter to Cornell, writing:

“I dreamt about the Beatles last night. I woke up with their song ‘Rocky Raccoon’ playing in my head and a concerned look on my wife’s face. She told me my friend has just passed away. Thoughts of you flooded my mind and I wept.

“I’m still weeping, with sadness, as well as gratitude for having shared some very special moments with you and your beautiful family. You have inspired me in many ways you could never have known. Your talent was pure and unrivaled. Your voice was joy and pain, anger and forgiveness, love and heartache all wrapped into one. I suppose that’s what we all are. You helped me understand that.

“I just watched a video of you singing ‘A Day In The Life’ by the Beatles and thought of my dream. I’d like to think you were saying goodbye in your own way. I can’t imagine a world without you in it. I pray you find peace in the next life. Send me love to your wife and children, friends, and family. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your life.”

With All My Love

Your Friend

In addition to working with Linkin Park, he also sang for Stone Temple Pilots from 2013-2015 replacing Scott Weiland, for his side project Dead by Sunrise, and Kings of Chaos.

Bennington leaves six children from two marriages and an early relationship as he moves on to another life at 41.

For millennials, who were in their teens when Linkin Park’s blockbuster debut Hybrid Theory was released in 2000, Bennington looms as a defining rock star of the era. A singer capable of both piercing bombast and pained sensitivity, Bennington’s nimble tenor initially played off the rapping of Mike Shinoda, but over time his versatility and soulfulness made him the band’s primary frontman. For kids who found solace in Linkin Park’s music, Bennington was the band member they were most likely to connect with.


May 282017

gregg allman passes from liver cancerMay 27, 2017 – Gregory LeNoir “Gregg” Allman was born December 8th, 1947 in Nashville, TN, a little more than a year after his older brother Duane. In 1949, his dad offered a hitchhiker a ride home and was subsequently shot and killed. After that tragedy his mother Geraldine moved to Nashville with her two sons, and she never remarried. Lacking money to support her two sons, she enrolled in college to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). State laws at the time required students to live on-campus and as a consequence, Gregg and his older brother Duane were sent to Castle Heights Military Academy in nearby Lebanon. A young Gregg interpreted these actions as evidence of his mother’s dislike for him, though he later came to understand the reality: “She was actually sacrificing everything she possibly could—she was working around the clock, getting by just by a hair, so as to not send us to an orphanage, which would have been a living hell.”

While his brother Duane adapted to his militarized surroundings with a defiant attitude, Gregg Allman felt largely depressed at the school. With little to do, he studied often and developed an interest in medicine—had he not gone into music, he hoped to become a dentist. He was rarely hazed at Castle Heights as his brother protected him, but often suffered beatings from instructors when he received poor grades. The brothers returned to Nashville upon their mother’s graduation. Growing up, he continually fought with Duane, though he knew that he loved him and that it was typical of brothers. Duane was a mischievous older child, who constantly played pranks on his younger sibling.

The family subsequently moved to Daytona Beach in 1959, though the brothers would spend considerable time back in Nashville over the years. What later became Music City, Nashville was an inspiration to Allman. He attended his first concert – starring Jackie Wilson, Otis Redding, B.B. King, and Patti LaBelle – and with the guidance of a mentally challenged neighbor named Jimmy Banes, fell in thrall to the power of a guitar. Nashville’s pull continued long after the family moved, with the brothers both hooked on local radio station WLAC’s legendary late night R&B broadcasts. He looked forward to summer vacations spent in Nashville.

Allman earned enough delivering newspapers in Daytona to afford a Silvertone guitar at the local Sears store, which he and his older brother then proceeded to fight over for years. (But it also brought them together in music). They made their on-stage debut as part of a YMCA youth group in Daytona Beach, uniting their first band – The Misfits – while attending Castle Heights Military Academy in Lebanon, TN. In 1963, the brothers returned to Florida, rocking Seabreeze High School with their next beat combo, The Shufflers.

The Allman brothers were less interested in school than they were in pursuing their own musical education, spending all their cash on records. The two began meeting various musicians in the Daytona Beach area. They met a man named Floyd Miles, and they began to jam and sit in with his band, the Houserockers. “I would just sit there and study Floyd. I studied how he phrased his songs, how he got the words out, and how the other guys sang along with him,” he would later recall.

They put together what Allman calls his first “real” band, The Escorts, and began gigging around the Daytona Beach area, proving so busy that Gregg skipped his Seabreeze graduation to perform with his band.
He grew undisciplined in his studies as his interests diverged: “Between the women and the music, school wasn’t a priority anymore.”

Having won over Daytona Beach, the band – now known as The Allman Joys – headed out into the world, beginning with a 22 week run at Mobile, Alabama’s Stork Club. An extended booking at Pensacola’s Sahara Club proved a milestone for Gregg, his first true lesson in stagecraft, as well as where he turned to and bought his first keyboard.

1966 saw The Allman Joys travel to Nashville for their first true recording session, with songwriter John D. Loudermilk producing. The band’s version of “Spoonful” proved enough of a local hit, that allowed them to return to the studio with producer/songwriter John Hurley, this time recording a number of Gregg’s increasingly sharp originals.

The Allman Joys eventually made their way west, sponsored in part by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band manager Bill McEuen. Reinventing themselves as Hour Glass, the band signed to Liberty Records and began making a name around L.A. by supporting such stars as Buffalo Springfield and The Doors. Two albums followed, 1967’s HOUR GLASS and 1968’s POWER OF LOVE, the latter highlighted by seven Gregg originals and liner notes by Neil Young, who also sat in on the album’s sessions. Hour Glass then traveled to Rick Hall’s FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, AL, hoping to finally capture their evolving blues rock sound. Unfortunately Liberty Records did not appreciate the band’s new direction and Hour Glass split soon after the sessions.

The brothers returned to Florida where they began collaborating with The 31st of February, a Jacksonville trio whose ranks included drummer Butch Trucks. Gregg soon headed back to Los Angeles, recording a solo album to fulfill both his and Duane’s remaining Liberty contract. Though the sessions ultimately proved fruitless, Gregg spent considerable studio time writing songs and working with his new favorite instrument, the Hammond organ. Meanwhile, Brother Duane had returned to Muscle Shoals where he became FAME Studios’ lead session guitarist, recording legendary tracks with such giants as King Curtis, Arthur Conley, Clarence Carter, and Wilson Pickett. Soon signed to a deal of his own, Duane began enlisting musicians including drummer/percussionist Jai Johanny Johanson and Chicago born, turned Floridian bassist Berry Oakley. They returned to Jacksonville, their extended jams luring in additional members including Trucks and Oakley’s former bandmate, guitarist Dickey Betts.

Gregg also finally returned to Florida and on March 26, 1969, Duane suggested he join the group for a run through Muddy Waters’ “Trouble No More,” encouraging his younger brother to “sing his guts out.” The Allman Brothers Band was born.

Signed to Phil Walden’s new Capricorn Records label, the Allman Brothers Band virtually invented Southern Rock, blending blues, boogie, country, psychedelia, R&B, jazz, and rock ‘n’ roll into their own idiosyncratic musical stew. The band relocated to Macon, Georgia where they began forging the intuitive musical bond that came to define them, spending infinite hours rehearsing and jamming while also growing a local following for their improvisational ingenuity and creative interplay. Elongated covers were paired with Gregg’s original songs, his songwriting voice fast proving as unique and inspired as his growing vocal power. Songs like “It’s Not My Cross To Bear,” “Dreams,” and “Whipping Post” exposed a gifted and evocative tunesmith, remarkably adept at reconstructing traditional forms into modern classics.

Released in November 1969, THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND album was immediately acclaimed if not an immediate commercial success. The band spent the next year on the road nearly non-stop, performing over 300 gigs across the country while also visiting studios in New York, Miami, and Macon to record what would be their second studio album. IDLEWILD SOUTH (named after a farmhouse on a lake outside of Macon they rented) arrived in September 1970, less than a year after the band’s debut. Recently named by Rolling Stone as one of the “40 Most Groundbreaking Albums of All Time,” IDLEWILD SOUTH is home to one of Allman’s defining songs, “Midnight Rider,” an immediate FM radio favorite later covered by artists spanning Joe Cocker, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Theory of a Deadman, UB40, and reggae singer Paul Davidson.

Having earned a reputation as a spectacularly inventive and expansive live act, The Allman Brothers Band decided to showcase their on-stage strength with their third album, the legendary AT FILLMORE EAST. With that album their fortunes began to change over the course of 1971, when the band’s average earnings more than doubled. “We realized that the audience was a big part of what we did, which couldn’t be duplicated in a studio. A lightbulb finally went off; we needed to make a live album,” said Allman later.
At Fillmore East, recorded at the Fillmore East in New York during two sessions produced by Tom Dowd in March of that year, was released in July 1971 by Capricorn. While previous albums by the band had taken months to hit the charts (often near the bottom of the top 200), this one started to climb the charts after a matter of days. At Fillmore East peaked at number thirteen on Billboard’s Top Pop Albums chart, and was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America that same October, becoming their commercial and artistic breakthrough and proved the Allmans’ world-changing breakthrough, seven songs over four sides culminating with a extraordinarily epic rendition of “Whipping Post.” (see video below)

Band Personnel:
Gregg Allman – organ, vocals
Duane Allman – guitar, vocals
Dickey Betts – guitar, vocals
Berry Oakley – bass, vocals
Butch Trucks – drums
Jai Johanny Johanson – drums
Tom Doucette – harp

A quick summary:
On this date, Bill Graham assembled a stellar roster of bands to participate in the filming of a television special called Welcome To The Fillmore East for broadcast on educational channels. Short sets were filmed by the Byrds, the Elvin Bishop Group, Sha-Na-Na, Van Morrison, and the Allman Brothers Band, as well as behind-the-scenes footage of Bill Graham and the Fillmore East staff at work.

The Allman Brothers performance is nothing short of spectacular and features the original lineup that included Duane Allman and Berry Oakley. Recorded six months prior to the legendary Live At Fillmore East double album set, this performance captures the Allman Brothers when they were a relatively new band, full of youthful passion and performing what would become classic original material when it was fresh and new.

Following Bill Graham’s introduction, they kick things off with a tight performance of “Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’,” which features the band’s friend, Tom Doucette, blowing harp over the group’s trademark sound. Gregg’s vocal is barely audible, but it’s obvious the group is full of fire. “Dreams,” which follows, slows things down a bit and the group establishes a relaxed groove that showcases their trademark sound, blending elements that would eventually come to define “Southern Rock.”

They hit their stride on the next number, Dickey Betts’ “In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed.” Here, the dual guitar attack of Allman and Betts is astounding. The two guitarists intertwine and synchronize in a manner nothing short of telepathic, creating a melting pot seasoned with elements of jazz, rock, country, and blues into a style utterly their own. The set ends with a ferocious take of “Whipping Post” that features outstanding melodic bass playing from Berry Oakley, with both Duane Allman and Dickey Betts soaring over the propulsive rhythm section. Shorter than the expansive versions that would develop in coming months, this is all the more fascinating for it, as they compress an incredible amount of energy into the time allotted.

Time constrictions and vocal microphone malfunctions aside, this is still a fascinating performance. This original lineup of the band was certainly one of the most innovative and captivating bands to ever play the Fillmore.
Whipping Post Allman Brothers Band 1971 Fillmore East
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AT FILLMORE EAST was a phenomenon, becoming platinum certified, and the album is a universally acknowledged milestone, a landmark American work selected in 2004 for preservation in the Library of Congress, deemed to be “culturally, historically, or aesthetically important, and/or inform or reflect life in the United States” by the National Recording Registry.

Suddenly very wealthy and successful, much of the band and its entourage got into the struggle with addiction to numerous drugs; they all agreed to quit heroin, but cocaine remained a problem. His last conversation with his brother Duane reportedly  was an argument over the substance, in which Gregg lied. In his autobiography, Allman wrote: “I have thought of that lie every day of my life […] told him that lie, and he told me that he was sorry and that he loved me.”

Shortly after Duane Allman was killed in a motorcycle accident October 29, 1971 in Macon. At his funeral on Monday, November 1, 1971, Gregg performed “Melissa”, which was his brother’s favorite song, written in 1967 during the Summer of Love. After the service, he confided in his bandmates that they should continue. He left for the island of Jamaica to get away from Macon, and was in grief for the following few weeks. And as the band took some time apart to process their loss, At Fillmore East became a major success in the U.S. “What we had been trying to do for all those years finally happened, and he was gone.” “I tried to play and I tried to sing, but I didn’t do too much writing. In the days and weeks that followed, I wondered if I’d ever find the passion, the energy, the love of making music,” he remembered in is autobiography.

And then they found out that mourning is a great inspiration, and learned to celebrate Duane’s accomplishments by returning to both the road and the studio, releasing EAT A PEACH three months later in February 1972. The album collected a number of studio recordings – both with and without Duane – as well as additional cuts from the 1971 Fillmore East performances. Highlights include the towering “Mountain Jam” as well as Gregg’s “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More” – penned in the wake of Duane’s passing – and the classic “Melissa,” beloved by Duane as his little brother’s best song.

In March 1972, Gregg tracked a series of songs at Macon’s Capricorn Studios with the goal of recording a solo album. Sessions continued, even as the Allman Brothers Band began work on its highly anticipated third studio album, BROTHERS AND SISTERS.
Then fate reared its ugly head once again in November 1972 when Berry Oakley was killed in a motorcycle accident just three blocks from where Duane had lost his life little more than a year earlier. Oakley had been visibly suffering from the death of his friend Duane – “Upset as I was, I kind of breathed a sigh of relief, because Berry’s pain was finally over,” Allman said.
Berry too was 24 years old and again The Allman Brothers Band carried on, finishing BROTHERS AND SISTERS in December of that year before returning to the road. The album proved the band’s most popular yet, topping the overall Billboard album chart for five consecutive weeks on its way to worldwide sales in excess of 7 million.

The Allman Brothers Band enlisted Lamar Williams on bass and Chuck Leavell on piano and took to the road once more, confirming their place as one of the most successful live outfits in rock ‘n’ roll history, consistently selling out arenas and stadiums across the country. July 1973 saw the ABB headline the historic “Summer Jam at Watkins Glen,” teaming with the Grateful Dead and the Band at New York’s Watkins Glen Grand Motor Raceway before a record-breaking crowd well in excess of 600,000.

During the recording of Brothers and Sisters, co-lead guitarist Dickey Betts had become the group’s de facto leader during the development process. Meanwhile, after some internal disagreements, Allman began recording a solo album, which he titled Laid Back. The sessions for both albums often overlapped and its creation caused tension within the rest of the band. Both albums were released in the autumn of 1973, with Brothers and Sisters cemented the Allman Brothers’ place among the biggest rock bands of the 1970s. “Everything that we’d done before—the touring, the recording—culminated in that one album,” Allman recalled later. “Ramblin’ Man”, Betts’ country-infused number, received interest from radio stations immediately, and it rose to number two on the Billboard Hot 100. The Allman Brothers Band returned to touring, playing larger venues, receiving more profit and dealing with less friendship, miscommunication and spiraling drug problems.

This culminated in a backstage brawl when the band played with the Grateful Dead at Washington’s RFK Stadium in June 1973, which resulted in the firing of three of the band’s longtime roadies. The band played arenas and stadiums almost solely as their drug use escalated. In 1974, the band was regularly making $100,000 per show, and was renting the Starship, a customized Boeing 720B used by Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones. “When we got that goddamn plane, it was the beginning of the end,” said Allman.

In between tours, Allman embarked on another tour to promote Laid Back. He brought along the musicians who helped record the album as his band, and hired a full string orchestra to accompany the group. A live album of material from the tour was released as The Gregg Allman Tour later that year, to help recoup costs for the tour. It went up against Betts’ first solo record, Highway Call, prompting some to dub their relationship a rivalry. Their relationships became increasingly frustrated, amplified by heavy drug and alcohol abuse. In January 1975, Allman began a relationship with pop star Cher (Sonny and Cher)— which made him more “famous for being famous than for his music,” according to biographer Alan Paul.

The sessions that produced 1975’s Win, Lose or Draw, the last album by the original Allman Brothers Band, were disjointed and inconsistent. Allman was spending more time in Los Angeles with Cher. Their time off from one another the previous fall “only exaggerated the problems between our personalities. With each day there was more and more space between us; the Brotherhood was fraying, and there wasn’t a damn thing any of us could do to stop it.”
Upon its release, the album was considered subpar and sold less than its predecessor; the band later remarked that they were “embarrassed” about the album.

From August 1975 to May 1976, the Allman Brothers Band played 41 shows to some of the biggest crowds of their career. Gradually, the members of the band grew apart during these tours, with sound checks and rehearsals “becoming a thing of the past.” Allman later pointed to a benefit for presidential candidate Jimmy Carter as the only real “high point” in an otherwise “rough, rough tour.” The shows were considered lackluster and the members were excessive in their drug use.

The “breaking point” came when Allman testified in the trial of security man Scooter Herring. Bandmates considered him a “snitch,” and he received death threats, leading to law-enforcement protection.
Herring was convicted on five counts of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and received a 75-year prison sentence, which were later overturned as he received a lesser sentence. For his part, Allman always maintained that Herring had told him to take the deal and he would take the fall for it, but nevertheless, the band refused to communicate with him. As a result, the band finally broke up; Leavell, Williams, and Jaimoe continued playing together in Sea Level, Betts formed Great Southern, and Allman founded the Gregg Allman Band, releasing PLAYIN’ UP A STORM in May 1977 to acclaim and chart success.

He also worked on an collaborative album with Cher titled Two the Hard Way, which, upon its release, was a massive failure. The couple went to Europe to tour in support of both albums, though the crowd reception was mixed. With a combination of Allman Brothers fans and Cher fans, fights often broke out in venues, which led Cher to cancel the tour. Turmoil began to overwhelm their relationship, and the two divorced in 1978. Allman returned to Daytona Beach to stay with his mother, spending the majority of his time partying, chasing women, and touring with the Nighthawks, a blues band. (In a 2011 interview with WBUR’s On Point, Allman told host Tom Ashbrook that he was also uncomfortable with his wife’s celebrity lifestyle.)

The Allman Brothers Band made a brief return in 1978, hiring two new members: guitarist Dan Toler and bassist David Goldflies. Betts had approached Allman during his time in Daytona regarding a reunion. Allman remembered that each member had their own reasons for rejoining, though he surmised it was a combination of displeasure with how things ended, missing each other, and a need for money. The band’s reunion album, Enlightened Rogues, was released in February 1979 and was a mild commercial success. But drugs remained a problem with the band, particularly among Betts and Allman. The band again grew apart, replacing Jaimoe with Toler’s brother Frankie. (“One of the real blights on the history of the Allman Brothers Band was that Jaimoe, this gentle man, was fired from this organization,” said Allman later.)

For their second and final album with Arista, Brothers of the Road, they collaborated with a “name producer” (John Ryan, of Styx and the Doobie Brothers), who pushed the band even harder to change their sound. “Straight from the Heart” was the album’s single, which became a minor hit, but heralded the group’s last appearance on the top 40 charts. The band, considering their post-reunion albums “embarrassing,” subsequently broke up in 1982 after clashing with record company owner Clive Davis, who rejected every producer the band suggested for a possible third album, including Tom Dowd and Johnny Sandlin. “We broke up in January ’82 because we decided we better just back out or we would ruin what was left of the band’s image,” said Betts. The band’s final performance came on Saturday Night Live in January 1982, where they performed “Southbound” and “Leavin’.” “It was like a whole different band made those records. In truth, though, I was just too drunk most of the time to care one way or the other,” Allman would recall.

Allman spent much of the early 1980s adrift and living in Sarasota, Florida with friends Marcia and Chuck Boyd. His alcohol abuse was at one of its worst points, with Allman consuming “a minimum of a fifth of vodka a day.” He felt the local police pursued him heavily, due to his tendency to get inebriated and “go jam anywhere.” He was arrested and charged with a DUI; as a result, he spent five days in jail and was charged $1,000. While he did not consider himself “washed up,” he noted in his autobiography that “there’s that fear of everybody forgetting about you.” Southern rock faded from popular culture and electronic music formed much of the pop music of the decade. “There was hardly anybody playing live music, and those who did were doing it for not much money, in front of some die-hard old hippies in real small clubs,” he later recalled. Nevertheless, he reformed the Gregg Allman Band and toured nationwide. He often went to Telstar Studios to rehearse and write new songs.

“No two ways about it, the ’80s were rough. […] It was seven years of going, “What is it that I do?” Being self-employed your whole life, that becomes a certain rock, a reinforcement. When that’s gone, not only are you bored stiff, but you just want to cry—”What do I do? I know I used to serve a purpose.”

By 1986, he felt tired of having little funds, and teamed up with former bandmate Betts for several performances together. It led to two Allman Brothers reunion performances that summer. Eventually, tension would arise and they would spend time apart again. After recording several demos in Los Angeles, Allman was offered a recording contract by Epic Records. He recorded his third solo release, I’m No Angel, at Criteria in Miami. Released in 1987, the title track became a surprise hit on radio. The album immediately returned Allman to the forefront of American popular music, boasting a pair of indelible hits in the chart-topping title track and the top 3 rock radio smash, “Anything Goes.”

Allman released another solo album the following year, Just Before the Bullets Fly, its title track co-written by future ABB guitarist Warren Haynes, though it did not sell as well as its predecessor, Haynes proved to be a catalyst for more ABB successes. Allman’s alcohol abuse however continued in the late 1980s, as he moved to Los Angeles and lived at the Riot House. He married one of his 6 wives, Danielle Galliano, in a midlife crisis wherein he felt he would one day be too “old and ugly” to get married. The marriage began with Allman overdosing at the Riot House—”so our marriage started off with a bang,” he said. He also dabbled in acting for the first time in those years, taking a small part in the film Rush Week (1989), and singing the opening track to the film Black Rain (1989)

In spite of all the controversies, The Allman Brothers Band celebrated its twentieth anniversary in 1989, and the band reunited for a summer tour, with Jaimoe once again on drums. In addition, they featured guitarist Warren Haynes and pianist Johnny Neel, both from the Dickey Betts Band, and bassist Allen Woody, who was hired after open auditions held at Trucks’s Florida studio. The classic rock radio format had given the band’s catalog songs new relevance, as did a multi-CD retrospective box set, Dreams. Epic, who had worked with Allman on his solo career, signed the band. Danny Goldberg became the band’s manager; he had previously worked with acts such as Led Zeppelin and Bonnie Raitt.

The group were initially reluctant to tour, but found it turned out that they performed solidly; in addition, former roadies such as “Red Dog” returned. The band returned to the studio with longtime producer Tom Dowd for 1990’s Seven Turns, which was considered a return to form. “Good Clean Fun” and “Seven Turns” each became big hits on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. The addition of Haynes and Woody had “reenergized” the ensemble. Neel left the group in 1990, and the band added percussionist Marc Quiñones, formerly of Spyro Gyra, the following year. The addition of percussionist Quinones finally brought to life the triple percussion ensemble his brother Duane had envisioned when first putting the band together. The ABB’s rhythmic expansion fueled 1991’s acclaimed tenth studio album, SHADES OF TWO WORLDS, recorded with Dowd at Memphis’ famed Ardent Studios. The group hit the road, including a 10 night run of fall dates at New York City’s historic Beacon Theatre, a preview of what would become one of rock’s greatest traditions. Specifically selected for being closest in spirit to Bill Graham’s long gone Fillmore East, the beloved Upper West Side venue became a second home for the band, with runs continuing semi-annually through 2014.

A series of acclaimed releases followed through the next decade, including 1994’s WHERE IT ALL BEGINS and such live albums as AN EVENING WITH THE ALLMAN BROTHERS: FIRST SET, showcasing 1992’s Beacon Theatre run, and 1995’s GRAMMY Award-winning AN EVENING WITH THE ALLMAN BROTHERS: 2ND SET.

Allman also found more time in the Nineties to try his hand at acting, with notable performances in 1991’s RUSH and HBO’S TALES FROM THE CRYPT.

For much of the 1990s, Allman lived in Marin County, California, spending his free time with close friends and riding his motorcycle. When The Allman Brothers Band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, honoring their extraordinary history and lasting influence, Allman was severely inebriated and could not make it through his acceptance speech. Seeing the ceremony broadcast on television later, Allman was mortified, providing a catalyst for his final, successful attempt to quit alcohol and substance abuse. He hired two in-home nurses that switched twelve-hour shifts to help him through the process. He was immensely happy to finally quit alcohol, writing later in his autobiography: “Did I get any positive anything out of all that? And you’ve got to admit to yourself, no, I didn’t. You can see what happened and that by the grace of God, you finally quit before it killed you.”

His own extraordinary solo discography then grew with 1997’s SEARCHING FOR SIMPLICITY, highlighted by an unplugged rendition of “Whipping Post.” which was quietly released on 550 Music. Despite positive developments in his personal life, things began declining among the band members. During their 1996 run at the Beacon, turmoil came to a breaking point between Allman and Betts, nearly causing a cancellation of a show and causing another band breakup. Haynes and Woody left to focus on their band Gov’t Mule, feeling as though a break was imminent with the Allman Brothers Band.

The group recruited Oteil Burbridge of the Aquarium Rescue Unit to replace Woody on bass, and Jack Pearson on guitar. Concerns also arose over the increasing loudness of Allman Brothers shows, which were largely centered on Betts. Pearson, struggling with tinnitus, left as a result following the 1999 Beacon run. Trucks phoned his nephew, Derek Trucks, to join the band for their thirtieth anniversary tour. The Beacon run in 2000, captured on Peakin’ at the Beacon, was ironically considered among the band’s worst performances; an eight-show spring tour led to even more strained relations in the group. “We had ceased to be a band—everything had to be based around what Dickey was playing,” said Allman.

Anger boiled over within the group towards Betts, which led to all original members sending him a letter, informing him of their intentions to tour without him for the summer. All involved contend that the break was temporary, but Betts responded by hiring a lawyer and suing the group, which led to a permanent divorce. That August, Allen Woody was found dead in a hotel room in New York, which hit Allman particularly hard. In 2001, Haynes rejoined the band for their Beacon run, setting the stage for over a decade of stability within the group and by 2001 ABB coalesced into what was hailed as one of the strongest line-ups in ABB history, with Allman, Haynes, Johanson, Quiñones, and Butch Trucks joined by bassist Oteil Burbridge and lead guitarist Derek Trucks.

Released in 2003, the Allman Brothers Band’s twelfth and final studio recording, HITTIN’ THE NOTE, drew critical applause as well as a pair of GRAMMY Award nominations. That same year’s LIVE AT THE BEACON THEATRE DVD also proved a classic, earning RIAA platinum certification and rave reviews for capturing the band at the peak of their on-stage powers. The 2003 Beacon run was further documented on ONE WAY OUT, hailed by rock critic Robert Christgau as “the best live album of band’s career.”

The Allman Brothers Band celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2009 with a star-studded Beacon Theatre residency that saw appearances from such friends and luminaries as Bob Weir and Phil Lesh, Eric Clapton, Trey Anastasio and Page McConnell, Buddy Guy, Levon Helm, Robert Randolph, Bruce Hornsby, Billy Gibbons, and Sheryl Crow. Allman underwent a liver transplant the following year, returning stronger than ever with 2011’s masterful solo landmark, LOW COUNTRY BLUES. Produced by T-Bone Burnett, the GRAMMY® Award-nominated album debuted at #1 on Billboard’s “Top Blues Albums” chart, ascending to #5 on the overall SoundScan/Billboard 200 as it drew unanimous critical acclaim around the world.

After undergoing a liver transplant in 2010, the Allman Brothers Band with Gregg Allman officially resumed active duty in 2012 with two sets at their own Peach Music Festival in Scranton, PA, now an ongoing summer tradition highlighted by annual sets from Allman and other ABB friends. The Allman Brothers Band wrapped up their storied forty-five year career in 2014 with their final Beacon Theatre run, culminating October 28th with a now legendary three-set marathon, their 238th consecutive sell out at the estimable venue.

That same year saw Allman honored by an array of fellow artists at “All My Friends: Celebrating the Songs & Voice of Gregg Allman,” a once-in-a-lifetime concert held at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta and later released on CD/DVD to great acclaim. Allman himself followed the Allman Brothers Band’s final bow with the 2015 release of “BACK TO MACON GA,” a live two disc CD/DVD set capturing Allman and his eight-member band blowing the roof off Macon, GA’s venerable Grand Opera House.

August 2015 saw Allman innovate the summer concert experience with the first ever Laid Back Festival, a one-day event held at Wantagh, NY’s Nikon at Jones Beach Theater and presented in partnership by Allman, longtime manager and friend Michael Lehman, and Live Nation. Named after Allman’s classic 1973 solo debut, the Laid Back Festival celebrated America’s rich musical heritage with performances from Allman, The Doobie Brothers, Bruce Hornsby and The Noisemakers, Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band, and more. Hailed as a new milestone on the increasingly busy summer concert circuit, the Laid Back Festival also showcased Long Island, NY’s diverse and delicious food and drink, with regional restaurants, food trucks, breweries, wineries, and other artisans represented at the festival.

2016 proved an extraordinarily eventful year for Allman, kicking off with sold out winter and spring tours as well as his acceptance of an honorary doctorate from Macon, GA’s Mercer University, presented by longtime friend, former President Jimmy Carter.

The Laid Back Festival also expanded to include regionally focused shows in five American cities. Once again headlined and curated by Allman, the traveling one-day event boasted a diverse lineup that featured such superstars as ZZ Top, Peter Frampton, and Jason Isbell, not to mention a mouth-watering menu of local food and drink.

The closing paragraph on his website states: As if their non-stop live schedule weren’t enough, Allman and his band also hit FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, AL to work on a new solo album, SOUTHERN BLOOD. Produced by GRAMMY® Award-winner Don Was, the album will arrive in 2017, supported, as ever, by a full tour schedule.

Sadly this won’t happen as Gregg Almann left us peacefully in his sleep on May 27, 2017 at his home in Savannah Georgia. He made it to 69.

A Message of Wisdom from Gregg on how to deal with death:

“When I got over being angry with my brother’s death, I prayed to him to forgive me, and I realized that my brother had a blast. Not that I got over it—I still ain’t gotten over it. I don’t know what getting over it means, really. I don’t stand around crying anymore, but I think about him every day of my life.  Maybe a lot of learning how to grieve was that I had to grow up a little bit and realize that death is part of life. Now I can talk to my brother in the morning, and he answers me at night. I’ve opened myself to his death and accepted it, and I think that’s the grieving process at work.”

Close friend and manager, Michael Lehman, who brought the news of Gregg’s passing to the world, said, “I have lost a dear friend and the world has lost a brilliant pioneer in music.  He was a kind and gentle soul with the best laugh I ever heard.  His love for his family and bandmates was passionate as was the love he had for his extraordinary fans.  Gregg was an incredible partner and an even better friend.  We will all miss him.”

May 312017

frontman Chris CornellMay 17, 2017 – Chris Cornell (Soundgarden) was born Christopher John Boyle on July 20, 1964 in Seattle, Washington, where he was also raised. He was the fourth of six children. His father, Ed, was a pharmacist; his mother, Karen, was an accountant. Cornell was a loner; he tried to deal with his anxiety around other people through rock music but during his early teenage years, he spiraled into severe depression and almost never left the house. His first favorite band were the Beatles. A noteworthy rumor later was that Cornell spent a two-year period between the ages of nine and eleven solidly listening to the Beatles after finding a large collection of Beatles records abandoned in the basement of a neighbor’s house.

At the age of 12, he had access to heroin, marijuana and prescription drugs and reportedly used them daily by age 13, before he stopped for a year. He dropped out of school at 14, after his parents divorced, and took his mother Karen’s maiden name Cornell. He relapsed at age 15 for another year until he turned to music. After dropping out of school he worked in a seafood warehouse and as a prep-cook at Ray’s Boathouse in Seattle to have some income, but at 16 Cornell turned to music for emotional release and subsequently picked up the drums as his instrument.

In the early 1980s, Cornell became a member of a cover band called The Shemps, which performed around Seattle. The Shemps featured bassist Hiro Yamamoto. After Yamamoto left The Shemps, the band recruited guitarist Kim Thayil. Cornell and Yamamoto stayed in contact, and after The Shemps broke up, Cornell and Yamamoto started jamming together, eventually bringing Thayil to join them. Cornell was the founding member of Soundgarden in Seattle in 1984, with him originally on drums and vocals. Soundgarden became the first band from Seattle’s grunge scene to get signed to a major label and the band became a template for grunge and helped pave the way for bands like Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains and Nirvana, three other bands from the same city. On a side note: Of the four famous Seattle bands from those days, Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam is now the only lead singer still alive today.

Their first effort with recording let to a little known album in 1988, soon followed by a major label release in 1989 of Louder than Love, leading to some music video work and several band changes. Bassist Yamamoto leaves the band to return to college. Jason Everman, formerly of Nirvana, joined the band briefly. He played bass on the band’s cover of The Beatles’ Come Together and appeared in the Loud Love video. Shortly afterwards, he was replaced by Ben Shepherd. In the early 1990s, along with Alice in Chains, Nirvana, and Pearl Jam, Soundgarden became one of the most successful bands from Seattle’s emerging grunge scene.  With Shepherd on bass, the new line-up recorded Badmotorfinger in 1991. The album brought the band to a new level of commercial success, and Soundgarden found itself amidst the sudden popularity and attention given to the Seattle music scene.

Badmotorfinger was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance in 1992. It was also ranked number 45 in the October 2006 issue of Guitar World on the magazine’s list of the 100 greatest guitar albums of all time.

As a result of the album’s success, they take off on a 1991 Tour with Guns N’ Roses, and later release the video compilation Motorvision filmed during that tour.

The next year Soundgarden appears in the Cameron Crowe movie Singles performing Birth Ritual and Chris Cornell solo song Seasons is also included on the soundtrack. From July on, the band joins the Lollapalooza tour alongside the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, and Ministry.
The next year Cornell covers Jimi Hendrix’s “Hey Baby (House Of The New Rising Sun)” along with Mike McCready, Jeff Ament and Matt Cameron under the name M.A.C.C. The track is released on Hendrix tribute album Stone Free, alongside tracks by Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Paul Rodgers and others.

And then in March 1994 the huge breakthrough sets in with the release of their next album Superunknown. It became the band’s breakthrough as it debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, supported by several successful singles, including “Spoonman” and “Black Hole Sun”. It was the album that brought Soundgarden international recognition. Superunknown achieved quintuple platinum status in the United States, triple platinum status in Canada and gold status in the United Kingdom, Sweden and the Netherlands.
All at once Soundgarden plays everywhere on on a worldwide tour, including in Australia and Japan for the first time. The music video for Black Hole Sun is a hit on MTV and wins Best Metal/Hard Rock Video at the 1994 MTV Video Music Awards. Soundgarden received two Grammy Awards in 1995; Black Hole Sun for Best Hard Rock Performance and Spoonman for Best Metal Performance.

The band’s fifth album was 1996’s self-produced Down on the Upside. The album spawned several singles, including “Pretty Noose”, “Burden in My Hand”, and “Blow Up the Outside World”. The album was notably less heavy than the group’s preceding albums, and marked a further departure from the band’s grunge roots. Soundgarden explained at the time that it wanted to experiment with other sounds. David Browne of Entertainment Weekly said, “Few bands since Led Zeppelin have so crisply mixed instruments both acoustic and electric.”

However, tensions within the group arose during the sessions, with Thayil and Cornell reportedly clashing over Cornell’s desire to shift away from the heavy guitar riffing that had become the band’s trademark. Despite favorable reviews, the album did not match the sales of Superunknown. In 1997, Soundgarden received another Grammy nomination, for the lead single “Pretty Noose”. Due to tensions within the band, Soundgarden announced it was disbanding on April 9, 1997. In a 1998 interview, Thayil said, “It was pretty obvious from everybody’s general attitude over the course of the previous half-year that there was some dissatisfaction.”

After Soundgarden broke up Cornell pursued a solo career for a handful of years and began writing and recording with guitarist Alain Johannes and keyboardist Natasha Shneider of the band Eleven. His first solo album Euphoria Morning was released on September 21, 1999 to much acclaim. The album’s single Can’t Change Me was nominated for “Best Male Rock Vocal Performance” at the 2000 Grammy Awards and the album’s bonus track Sunshower was featured on the soundtrack for the film Great Expectations, while a reworked version of the track Mission, retitled Mission 2000, was used on the soundtrack to the film Mission: Impossible II.

In 2001, just before going back into the studio for his next solo project, close friend and producer Rick Rubin asked Cornell to head up a new band named Audioslave — a project pursued by the 3 remaining members of Rage Against the Machine with Tom Morello (lead guitar), Tim Commerford (bass and backing vocals) and Brad Wilk (drums), following the departure of singer Zack de la Rocha.

Morello described their first encounter with Cornell as: “He stepped to the microphone and sang the song and I couldn’t believe it. It didn’t just sound good. It didn’t sound great. It sounded transcendent. And … when there is an irreplaceable chemistry from the first moment, you can’t deny it.”

The four bandmembers wrote 21 songs during 19 days of rehearsal and began working in the studio in late May 2001 resulting in such huge radio hits “Like a Stone” and “Cochise.”

The self-titled debut album, Audioslave, was released on November 19, 2002 and entered the Billboard 200 chart at number seven after selling 162,000 copies in its first week. Certified gold by the RIAA within a month of release, by 2006 the album had achieved triple platinum status. It became the most successful Audioslave album, having sold more than three million copies in the United States alone.

A week after the album’s debut, Audioslave performed live on the roof of the Ed Sullivan Theater on Broadway in New York City, for the Late Show with David Letterman. It was the first time any band has appeared on Letterman’s marquee. Like a Stone, the second single from Audioslave, was released in early 2003, and peaked at number one on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Tracks and Modern Rock Tracks charts. It was certified gold by the RIAA and becomes Audioslave’s most successful single. The band spend eight months of that year touring worldwide.

At the 46th Grammy Awards Like a Stone was nominated for Best Hard Rock Performance and Audioslave for Best Rock Album. Audioslave spend part of 2004 working on a second album and in March, Cornell married his second wife Vicky Karayiannis. Their first child, Toni Cornell (named after Vicky’s mom, Antonia) arrived September 18, 2004. Their son, Christopher Nicholas Cornell, was born 15 months later on December 5th, 2005.

Audioslave’s second album Out of Exile was released internationally on May 23, 2005, and a day later in the U.S. It debuts at the top of the Billboard 200 chart, the only Audioslave album to reach this position, and the band tours in support of it from April until November. On May 6, 2005, Audioslave becomes the first American rock group to play a free show in Havana, Cuba, in front of an estimated 50,000 people at the La Tribuna Antiimperialista José Martí. Audioslave also performs at the Live 8 benefit concert in Berlin on July 2, 2005, and tours North American arenas from late September to November. Audioslave’s second DVD, Live in Cuba, featuring the concert in Havana, is released on October 11, 2005, and becomes certified platinum in less than two months.

In December of 2006, Audioslave receives its third Grammy nomination in the Best Hard Rock Performance category for Doesn’t Remind Me. Audioslave spent the early part of 2006 in the studio. Revelations, Audioslave’s third album, influenced by 1960s and 1970s funk and R&B music, is released in September 2006. A special marketing campaign places the album’s art concept on Google Earth as a fictional island, Audioslave Nation, in the South Pacific. The album entered the Billboard 200 at #2 and sold 142,000 copies during its first week of release.

All of Audioslave’s lyrics were written by Cornell, whilst all four members were credited with writing the music. Their songwriting process was described by Wilk as “more collaborative” and “satisfying” than Rage Against the Machine’s, which was “a battle creatively”. Cornell, for his part, saw Soundgarden’s songwriting method as inferior to Audioslave’s. Cornell’s lyrics were mostly apolitical; Audioslave’s Morello referred to them as “haunted, existential poetry.” They were characterized by his cryptic approach, often dealing with themes of existentialism, love, hedonism, spirituality and Christianity.

Cornell’s ongoing battle with addiction to prescription drugs and alcoholism was always a defining factor in the writing and recording process. Even though the singer admitted that he was “never able to write effectively” while drinking and attended rehab after recording the debut album, Morello stated that Revelations was “the first record, Cornell didn’t smoke, drink or take drugs through the recording.” However, Morello said: “Chris was stone sober during the making of our Out of Exile album. Chris was also sober during the making of Revelations and prior to recording he gave up smoking as well. I apologize for any confusion or concern that was stirred up by the original article. Sobriety can be a matter of life or death and Chris’ courage in maintaining his health for years has been an inspiration.”

News about Cornell’s departure emerged first in July 2006, when insiders stated that after the third album he would leave to pursue for another solo career. The singer immediately denied the rumors, stating: “We hear rumors that Audioslave is breaking up all the time. … I always just ignore them.

Yet On February 15, 2007, Cornell officially announced his departure from Audioslave, stating that “Due to irresolvable personality conflicts as well as musical differences, I am permanently leaving the band Audioslave. I wish the other three members nothing but the best in all of their future endeavors.” As the other three members were busy with the Rage Against the Machine reunion with de la Rocha coming back, Morello and Cornell each released solo albums, Audioslave officially disbanded.

For a second time in 10 years Cornell returned to solo projects and for the next 3 years he immersed himself musically in solo work as he released his second solo album Carry On, produced by Steve Lillywhite, which includes a magnificent reinvention of Michael Jackson dance classic Billie Jean as a slow blues.
Cornell then writes and records a third solo album Scream with producer Timbaland and plays summer shows across the US with Linkin Park’s Projekt Revolution tour. In the fall, he plays solo shows in the US and Canada and appears in front of the President at the Kennedy Center Honors Gala in Washington DC, playing The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” in tribute to the band.

In the spring of 2009 “Scream” is released worldwide and Cornell continues to tour in North and South America and across Europe, taking in a total of 21 nations and including a triumphant open-air show in Tel Aviv, Israel. In December, he plays the first in his acclaimed “Songbook” series of solo acoustic shows at the Hotel Café in Los Angeles.

In early 2010 he continues with a series of collaborations with rock guitarists Slash (on “Promise”), Santana (on “Whole Lotta Love”) and Italian nu-jazz group Gabin (“Lies”), before reuniting in August with Soundgarden for new live dates and recording of what initially appeared to be their final album with Cornell as lead vocalist, 2012’s King Animal.

However Soundgarden’s historic return to the live stage as headliners for Chicago’s Lollapalooza festival, leads first to the release of their retrospective album ‘Telephantasm’ in September, followed by the March 2011 release of the live album ‘Live on I5’, taken from their 1996 US tour, and the band then enters the studio to begin recording new material. That Summer, following a sold-out ‘Songbook solo acoustic tour of the US, he releases “The Keeper”, an original song written for the Marc Forster directed film Machine Gun Preacher, released by Relativity in September 2011. The song is the lead track on the film’s soundtrack album and in December receives a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Song.
In 2013 he records his song ‘Misery Chain’, a duet featuring Joy Williams, for the movie soundtrack album ‘Music From and Inspired By 12 Years A Slave’.

In the fall of 2013 Soundgarden embarks on a tour of the US and Canada and from here on Chris keeps super busy with a myriad of projects and collaborations both with the band Soundgarden as well as solo tours to Europe, New Zealand, Australia and South America. Soundgarden Touring the World continues for the next four years.

In 2016, he rejoined the members of Temple of the Dog, in a live reunion with Pearl Jam members at the PJ20 Festival in Alpine Valley, WI.  The re-issued album became a certified million copy seller. (In 1990 Chris had formed side project Temple of the Dog as a tribute to his friend, the late Andrew Wood, lead singer of Malfunkshun and Mother Love Bone, who overdosed on heroin at age 24. Temple of the Dog saw Cornell experiment with a more soulful style alongside the future members of Pearl Jam. The line-up included Stone Gossard on rhythm guitar, Jeff Ament on bass guitar (both ex-members of Mother Love Bone), Mike McCready on lead guitar, Matt Cameron on drums and Eddie Vedder on backing vocals. On November 13 1990, Temple Of The Dog played its only live show at Seattle’s Off Ramp Club in front of 299 people.)

I think that I always struggled with depression and isolation, so those could come out. I think that the mood of Seattle to me, and the way that I always interpreted that mood was something that was always a little bit introspective and dark. And I wouldn’t say “depressing,” but introspective in a way that could be moodier and darker.No matter how happy you are, you can wake up one day without any specific thing occurring to bring you into a darker place, and you’ll just be in a darker place anyway. To me, that was always a terrifying thought, because that’s something that – as far as I know – we don’t necessarily have control over.

Blessed with the multiple talents of composing, lyrics writing and performing, Cornell continually redefined his sound and vision during his 3 decade career in music, even though he was best known as one of the main architects of the 1990s grunge movement. With his extensive catalog as a songwriter, his nearly four-octave vocal range, and his powerful vocal belting technique, he was naturally inclined to experiment with new musical directions. He released five solo studio albums, Euphoria Morning (1999), Carry On (2007), Scream (2009), Higher Truth (2015), and the live album Songbook (2011). Cornell received a Golden Globe Award nomination for his song “The Keeper” which appeared in the film Machine Gun Preacher and co-wrote and performed the theme song to the James Bond film Casino Royale (2006), “You Know My Name”. The last solo release by Chris was the charity single “The Promise”, written for the ending credits for the film of the same name.

He was voted “Rock’s Greatest Singer” by readers of Guitar World, ranked 4th in the list of “Heavy Metal’s All-Time Top 100 Vocalists” by Hit Parader, 9th in the list of “Best Lead Singers of All Time” by Rolling Stone and 12th in MTV’s “22 Greatest Voices in Music”.

According to Nielsen Music, across his entire catalog (Soundgarden, Audioslave, Temple of the Dog and solo career), Cornell sold 14,8 million albums, 8,8 million digital songs, 300 million on-demand audio streams in the U.S. and sold over 30 million records worldwide as of 2017.
His soundtrack work has spanned both big budget and independent cinema. He was the first male American artist to write and perform the theme song for a James Bond movie (“You Know My Name” for Casino Royale). He wrote the end title song “Live to Rise” for The Avengers, the third highest grossing film of all time.He duetted with Joy Williams on his song “Misery Chain” which appeared on the soundtrack of the Oscar-winning 12 Years A Slave and his song “The Keeper” from Marc Forster’s Machine Gun Preacher was nominated for a Golden Globe in 2012.
Cornell’s solo acoustic ‘Songbook’ tour attracted sellout crowds and critical acclaim worldwide. Jim Farber of the New York Daily News observed, “sometimes you don’t recognize the full power of a voice until you strip everything away from it.

Chris Cornell died on May 17, 2017 in his hotel room in Detroit, shortly after concluding his last Soundgarden concert. As the result of a depression medication overdose, he allegedly hung himself. He was 52 and full of plans to accomplish.

As is often the case with celebrity musicians who pass suddenly and unexpectedly, the interest in their work launches them back into the spotlight in the wake of their death. Chris Cornell, who committed suicide as the result of an overdose of prescription medication, saw 5 of his albums re-enter the Billboard 200 in the wake of his death.

Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell paid tribute to his friend Chris Cornell unveiled personal stories about them spending time together on the road and beyond, in a touching interview with Variety.

Farrell said he and Cornell first met when Soundgarden played Lollapalooza for the first time in 1992. Calling Cornell “one of the most talented singers of my life,” Farrell discussed Cornell’s charm and charisma during shows. “He stood there and the girls’ jaws would all be dropped, including my wife and the dancers we were traveling with,” he recalled.
Farrell also relayed a sweet story about running into Cornell at a Toys “R” Us on Christmas Eve several years ago, where Cornell scored an in-demand kids gift. “He says to me, ‘I got the very last Sleeping Beauty Castle. Sold out.’ He was so proud, he was trying to brag to me he got the very last fairy princess castle.”
“It’s such a bummer. There weren’t – and there aren’t still – very many that could sing the way Chris can. Certainly very few rock performers, and even pop performers. People just don’t have it, that’s a God-given talent,” Farrell also noted. Farrell concluded by advising people to listen to Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun,” which he said he always loved. “I don’t know what did Chris in, but I hope he’s in a good place now. He was a super talent and the world should be happy they got to hear him,” Farrell said.

Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington was also a friend of Cornell’s. Bennington and Cornell shared the stage when they toured together in the late 2000s. The pair sang with each other while performing a version of Temple of the Dog’s “Hunger Strike” and Linkin Park’s “Crawling” while on tour.
Bennington penned a heartfelt remembrance addressed to his late friend. “I dreamt about the Beatles last night. I woke up with Rocky Raccoon playing in my head and a concerned look on my wife’s face. She told me my friend had just passed away,” he wrote. “Thoughts of you flooded my mind and I wept.”
Expressing his gratitude for the time they had together, Bennington also addressed Cornell’s gifts. “You have inspired me in many ways you could never have known,” Bennington added. “Your talent was pure and unrivaled. Your voice was joy and pain, anger and forgiveness, love and heartache all wrapped up into one.”

Alice Cooper raved about working with Cornell. “We could pick a voice for each song, the way a guitarist might pick either a Fender Strat or a Gibson Les Paul,” the veteran rock star tells Billboard. “To go from Unholy War to Stolen Prayer (from 1994 album The Last Temptation) together, two entirely different songs, proved his range, his versatility, in both writing and singing.
“In every genre of music there are exceptional people, and whereas that Seattle movement had its own distinct sound, he could do that and so much more. Working with Chris was, for me, effortless. When we got together to write it seemed like either he was in my band or I was in his.”

Bush frontman Gavin Rossdale reveals he enjoyed his private chats with the quiet Soundgarden frontman “in dressing rooms at different festivals”, revealing they ran into each other quite a bit because Chris shared a manager with Gavin’s ex-wife Gwen Stefani.
“We had these parallel lives as parents with jobs as singers,” Rossdale says. “That’s really dominated my whole thought process, just thinking of his family, his great wife and children. You wish he had found a way to reach out to whoever there was in his life that could help him.”
“He was one of the greatest rock singers ever… and he was such a plaintive singer, that’s what I love about him. I suppose he found solace in music and in singing, which I relate to… He always found a way to put melody over hard riffs, and so much of the time, people play hard riffs and then they dog bark their way through it, scream and stuff. With Chris, there was this innate, beautiful melody and beautiful words that anyone with any degree of sensitivity could relate to and did.”

Jane’s Addiction star guitarist Dave Navarro is really struggling with Cornell’s death, because so many of his peers have now died: “I just can’t believe that all these people I came up with are gone: Scott (Weiland), Kurt (Cobain), Layne (Staley), now Chris,” he says. “All my friends are dying. How is it possible?”
“I remember in 2003 Jane’s Addiction was on tour with Audioslave for Lollapalooza, and Chris and I were both clean from drugs and alcohol and we invited kids from treatment centres at different spots in the country to hang out backstage and just show them you can do what we do and enjoy touring and the music without being loaded,” he adds.
“That’s what makes this so very hard to wrap my head around. This is a guy who was involved in making the world a better place for people.”


Apr 212017

April 15, 2017 – Allan Holdsworth was born on August 6, 1946 in Bradford, Yorkshire, England. Holdsworth was originally taught music by his father, who was a pianist. First a saxophone player, he gravitated to the guitar at the age of 17 and caught on quickly. Entirely self-taught, his protean, virtuosic style became a source of amazement even to his more famous peers. He began working professionally as a musician in his early 20s, inspired by the likes of Django Reinhardt, Jimmy Raney, Charlie Christian, Joe Pass and John Coltrane.

After playing in local Leeds outfits, he relocated to London, where he was taken under the wing of saxophonist Ray Warleigh. By 1972, Holdsworth had joined progressive rockers Tempest, appearing on the group’s self-titled debut a year later. There followed an association with Soft Machine (Bundles, 1974) before he joined Tony Williams Lifetime in 1975, appearing on the recordings Believe It and Million Dollar Legs. Through the ’70s, Holdsworth appeared on recordings by Gong (Expresso and Gazeuse! in 1976 and Expresso II in 1978), Soft Machine (1977’s Triple Echo, 1979’s Time Is The Key), Jean-Luc Ponty (Enigmatic Ocean, 1977), U.K. (U.K., 1978) and Bruford (1978’s Feels Good To Me, 1979’s One of a Kind) while also launching his solo career with 1977’s Velvet Darkness. There followed a spate of recordings a leader over the next decades, including 1983’s Road Games, 1985’s Metal Fatigue, 1986’s Atavachron, 1987’s Sand, 1989’s Secrets, 1992’s Wardenclyfe Tower, 1994’s Hard Hat Area and 1996’s None Too Soon. Most recent releases were 2000’s The Sixteen Men of Tain, 2002’s All Night Wrong, 2004’s Then! and 2005’s career retrospective, Against The Clock. In 2003, he also toured and recorded as a member of Softworks, which featured alumnae from different eras of the English experimental band, Soft Machine, including saxophonist Elton Dean, bassist Hugh Hopper, and drummer John Marshall.

An inductee of Guitar Player magazine’s Hall of Fame, Holdsworth was a five-time winner in their readers’ poll. His unconventional chord voicings, searing solos, and passionate melodic phrasess helped place Holdsworth near the top of Musician magazine’s ‘100 greatest guitarists of all time.’

Holdsworth forged a relentlessly exploratory approach to harmony, which he brought to bear on both the guitar and the SynthAxe, a guitarlike synthesizer that allowed him added control over his tone and flow. He had his own vocabulary of unorthodox chords, often involving far reaches across the fretboard. As a soloist, he executed lightning-fast melodies with remarkable fluidity.

Holdsworth was known for his advanced knowledge of music, through which he incorporated a vast array of complex chord progressions and intricate solos; the latter comprising myriad scale forms often derived from those such as the diminished, augmented, whole tone, chromatic and altered scales, among others, resulting in an unpredictable and “outside” sound. His unique legato soloing technique stemmed from his original desire to play the saxophone. Having been unable to afford one, he aimed to use the guitar to create similarly smooth lines of notes

Reviewing a performance by Mr. Holdsworth in 1983, The New York Times’ Jon Pareles wrote: “He pours out notes in a liquid rush without slurring a single one. His sense of harmony reveals itself in daring melodic extrapolations and in chords that are complex and impressionistic yet as transparent as folk music.”

Allan Holdsworth died from cardiac arrest on April 15, 2017 at his home in California.

Holdsworth has been cited as an influence by such renowned rock, metal and jazz guitarists as Eddie Van Halen, Joe Satriani, Greg Howe, Shawn Lane, Richie Kotzen, John Petrucci, Alex Lifeson, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Yngwie Malmsteen, Michael Romeo and Tom Morello. Frank Zappa once lauded him as “one of the most interesting guys on guitar on the planet”, while Robben Ford has said: “I think Allan Holdsworth is the John Coltrane of the guitar. I don’t think anyone can do as much with the guitar as Allan Holdsworth can.”

A 2005 interview with Allan sheds great light on his personality and approach to music and life’s demons.

Apr 122017

J.Geils, guitarist for the J.Geils BandApril 11, 2017 – John Warren “J” Geils was born on February 20, 1946, in New York City and grew up in Morris Plains, New Jersey. His father was an engineer at Bell Labs and a jazz and vintage car fan, two passions little John Geils’s took with him for the rest of his life. For his 10th birthday, his father took him to see Louis Armstrong. For his 13th birthday, he went with his father to see Miles Davis. Drawn to jazz early, he said he did not have the ”chops,” or jazz virtuosity, but discovered that he could play the blues. The chops are something he developed later in life, after the whirlwind years of touring with the J. Geils Band.

In 1964, he went to Northeastern University and was a trumpeter in the marching band. When he became busy absorbing the live music around him, he transferred to Worcester Poly-Technic Institute. “I wound up transferring to Worcester Tech…because I wasn’t doing too well at Northeastern…going to see all those guys,” he said. At the Worcester school he met harp player Magic Dick Salwitz and bassist Danny Klein and they formed what Geils termed “this little kinda acoustic folk blues group,” which they called the J. Geils Blues Band.
”Engineering just didn’t work out for us,” said Geils, so they began performing as an acoustic blues trio and in 1967, drummer Stephen Jo Bladd and vocalist Peter Wolf joined the group, and the band went electric.

Geils was trained as a mechanical engineer, which would serve him well decades later as he opened his own vintage auto restoration shop.

Before joining the J. Geils Band, Bladd and Wolf played together in the Boston-based rock revivalist band the Hallucinations. Both musicians shared a love of arcane doo wop, blues, R&B, and rock & roll, and Wolf had become well-known by spinning such obscure singles as a jive-talking WBCN DJ called Woofuh Goofuh. Wolf and Bladd’s specialized tastes became a central force in the newly revamped J. Geils Band, whose members positioned themselves as tough ’50s greasers in opposition to the colorful psychedelic rockers who dominated the East Coast in the late ’60s.

There’s a video from the early days of the Boston Blues Allstars with Billy Briggs on piano and Barry Tashian on vocals and drums, both from the Remains, along with Magic Dick, Danny Klein, and Geils, recorded by a friend of Tashian’s for a Boston University Communications Department senior project in 1969. Tashian turned Geils on to Billy Butler, a longtime guitar player with Bill Doggett, someone Geils calls “one of the great undersung players.”
The J. Geils Blues Band merged with two members of the Hallucinations, singer Peter Wolf and drummer Stephen Jo Bladd. After promotion man Mario Medious brought them to the attention of Atlantic’s Jerry Wexler, they recorded a bit with rock critic Jon Landau, but the project was abandoned. About a year later in 1968, organist/songwriter Seth Justman joined the group and they started to tour for the next few years, during which time The J. Geils band became one of Boston’s original party bands.

They landed a record contract with Atlantic in 1970 and their first album, The J. Geils Band was a regional hit upon its early 1970 release, and it earned favorable reviews, especially from Rolling Stone. The group’s second album, The Morning After, appeared later that year and, thanks to the Top 40 hit “Looking for a Love,” the album expanded the band’s following. However, the J. Geils Band continued to win new fans primarily through their concerts, so it was no surprise that their third album, 1972’s Full House, was a live set. It was followed by Bloodshot, a record that climbed into the Top Ten on the strength of the Top 40 hit “Give It to Me.” Following the relative failure of 1973’s Ladies Invited, the band had another hit with 1974’s Nightmares, which featured the number 12 single “Must of Got Lost.” While their live shows remained popular throughout the mid-’70s, both Hot Line (1975) and the live Blow Your Face Out (1976) were significant commercial disappointments. The band revamped its sound and shortened its name to “Geils” for 1977’s Monkey Island. While the album received good reviews, the record failed to bring the group increased sales.

While their muscular sound and the hyper jive of frontman Peter Wolf packed arenas across America, it only rarely earned them hit singles. Seth Justman, the group’s main songwriter, could turn out catchy R&B-based rockers like “Give It to Me” and “Must of Got Lost,” but these hits never led to stardom, primarily because the group had trouble capturing the energy of its live sound in the studio.

In 1978, the J. Geils Band left Atlantic Records for EMI, releasing Sanctuary later that year. Sanctuary slowly gained a following, becoming their first gold album since Bloodshot. Love Stinks (1980) expanded the group’s following even more, peaking at number 18 in the charts and setting the stage for 1981’s Freeze Frame, the band’s high watermark.

After 11 albums, the band’s 12th album, ”Freeze Frame,” ( the group tempered its driving rock with some pop) and the makeover paid off as the album went to Number One and remained on the chart for 70 weeks. As  MTV was just gaining momentum, the video shot to accompany the single ”Centerfold” exposed the band to a whole new generation of fans. A substantial departure from their earlier style ”Centerfold” spent six weeks at No. 1 on Billboard and the title track ”Freeze Frame” made it to No. 4.

”It didn’t happen overnight for us,” said Geils. ‘‘It was lots of hard work. Like the saying goes — success is 10 percent inspiration, 90 percent perspiration. Like with any band, a lot of positive forces got aligned at the same time, and it just happened for us.”

The live album Showtime! became a gold album shortly after its late 1982 release.

By the time the band prepared to record a follow-up studio album however, tensions had grown considerably, particularly between writing partners Justman and Wolf. When the group refused to record material Wolf had written with Don Covay and Michael Jonzun, he left the band in the middle of a 1983 recording session. Justman assumed lead vocals, and the group released You’re Gettin’ Even While I’m Gettin’ Old in late 1984, several months after Wolf’s successful solo debut, Lights Out.

The J. Geils Band’s record was a flop and the band broke up in 1985. After working for years to reach to top of the charts, the J. Geils Band couldn’t stay there once they finally achieved their goal.

In assessing the J. Geils legacy, Anthony DeCurtis, contributing editor at Rolling Stone, called the group ”a hard-working band.”
‘Did a single J. Geils record alter the course of popular music? No,” said DeCurtis, a member of the nominating committee for the Rock and Roll hall of fame. ”But they proved that you can go out night after night, set after set, win over audiences, and finally become successful.”
For DeCurtis, theirs is a classic rock and roll story. ”After all of those years of hard work, slogging it out and earning their stripes on the road to make it to the point where success comes, and then as a collective group they can’t handle it,” he said. ”There is strange bad blood. They should have been cruising along, but it all fell apart.”
No one in the band will comment on what happened, and when asked about the breakup, Geils said simply: ”Irreconcilable differences. Let’s leave it at that.”

After the break-up Geils put down the guitar to concentrate on auto racing and vintage car restoration. Geils claims he “didn’t even touch a guitar”. He opened KTR Motorsports, an automobile restoration shop in Carlisle, Massachusetts, to service and repair vintage sports cars such as Ferraris and Maseratis. He sold the shop in 1996, after returning to music 4 years earlier, though he continued to use the shop and participate in the company.

J. Geils formed Bluestime with Magic Dick in 1992, also playing with various musicians like Kevin Visnaskas in the Blood Street Band. Along with producing friend Danny Klein’s Stone Crazy band (Geils was a brilliant and underrated producer, having worked with Michael Stanley in 1972 on the Friends & Legends LP), Geils worked with Gerry Beaudoin and Duke Robillard in the New Guitar Summit (utilizing the Bluestime rhythm section). Geils and Beaudoin also performed in an acoustic trio, Gerry Beaudoin’s Kings of Strings, where Geils played rhythm guitar and Jerry Miller provided his mandolin. With all this musical output, Geils released his first solo record in 2003, a jazz CD which features many guest sax players. From the days when members of the J. Geils Band were on his case to learn more Jimi Hendrix riffs and he was off playing Charlie Christian instead, the founding member of a hugely popular and respected ensemble that opened for the Rolling Stones live and performed with Buddy Guy on record, now had his guitar singing the music of his heart, the sounds that inspired one of the most familiar names in rock music.In 2005, he released his first solo album, a jazz album.

The band had several reunion tours over the years, but Geils finally quit the band in 2012 and later sued his bandmates, claiming they were conspiring to tour without him and unlawfully using the band’s trademarked name.
In 2015, Geils was named to the Wall of Honor at his alma mater, Bernards High School in Bernardsville, New Jersey.

The band was nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the fourth time in the fall of 2016, but once again was not selected as part of the 2017 class.

“This is our fourth nomination, and going through that process, with its inherent disappointment, you’re not sure you want to take that ride again,” lead vocalist Peter Wolf told Billboard at the time. “It’s great to be recognized, but it’s a drag to be disappointed. I hope that we make it in. That would be great.”

A reunion on the stage of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will not be possible anymore, as John “J” Geils passed from natural causes at his home on April 11, 2017. He was 71.

Mar 192017

chuck berry rock and roll legendMarch 18, 2017 – Charles Edward Anderson “Chuck” Berry was born on October 18, 1926 in St. Louis Missouri. Chuck was the fourth child in a family of six. He grew up in the north St. Louis neighborhood known as The Ville, an area where many middle-class people lived at the time. His father, Henry, was a contractor and deacon of a nearby Baptist church; his mother, Martha, was a certified public school principal. His upbringing allowed him to pursue his interest in music from an early age.

He gave his first public performance in 1941 while still a student at Sumner High School.
In 1944, while still a student at Sumner High School, he was arrested for armed robbery after robbing three shops in Kansas City, Missouri, and then stealing a car at gunpoint with some friends. Berry’s account in his autobiography is that his car broke down and he flagged down a passing car and stole it at gunpoint with a nonfunctional pistol. He was convicted and sent to the Intermediate Reformatory for Young Men at Algoa, near Jefferson City, Missouri, where he formed a singing quartet and did some boxing. The singing group became competent enough that the authorities allowed it to perform outside the detention facility. Berry was released from the reformatory on his 21st birthday in 1947.

From there on Chuck Berry became rock ‘n’ roll’s founding guitar hero and storyteller who defined the music’s joy and rebellion in such classics as “Johnny B. Goode,” ‘‘Sweet Little Sixteen” and “Roll Over Beethoven.”

Berry’s core repertoire was some three dozen songs, his influence incalculable, from the Beatles and the Rolling Stones to virtually any group from garage band to arena act that called itself rock ‘n roll.

As a child he practiced a bent-leg stride that enabled him to slip under tables, a prelude to the duck walk of his adult years. His mother, like Johnny B. Goode’s, told him he would make it, and make it big.

A fan of blues, swing and boogie woogie, Berry studied the very mechanics of music and how it was transmitted. As a teenager, he loved to take radios apart and put them back together. Using a Nick Manoloff guitar chord book, he learned how to play the hits of the time. He was fascinated by chord progressions and rhythms, discovering that many songs borrowed heavily from the Gershwins’ “I Got Rhythm.”

He began his musical career at age 15 when he went on stage at a high school review to do his own version of Jay McShann’s “Confessin’ the Blues.” Berry would never forget the ovation he received.

“Long did the encouragement of that performance assist me in programming my songs and even their delivery while performing,” he wrote in his autobiography. “I added and deleted according to the audiences’ response to different gestures, and chose songs to build an act that would constantly stimulate my audience.”

Meanwhile, his troubles with the law began, in 1944, when a joy riding trip to Kansas City turned into a crime spree involving armed robberies and car theft. Berry served three years of a 10-year sentence at a reformatory.

A year after his October 1947 release, Berry met and married Themetta Suggs, who stayed by his side despite some of his well-publicized indiscretions. Berry then started sitting in with local bands. By 1950, he had graduated to a six-string electric guitar and was making his own crude recordings on a reel to reel machine.

On New Year’s Eve 1952 at The Cosmopolitan club in East St. Louis, Illinois, Johnson called Berry to fill in for an ailing saxophonist in his Sir John Trio.

“He gave me a break” and his first commercial gig, for $4, Berry later recalled. “I was excited. My best turned into a mess. I stole the group from Johnnie.”

Influenced by bandleader Louis Jourdan, blues guitarist T-Bone Walker and jazz man Charlie Christian, but also hip to country music, novelty songs and the emerging teen audiences of the post-World War II era, Berry signed with Chicago’s Chess Records in 1955. “Maybellene” reworked the country song “Ida Red” and rose into the top 10 of the national pop charts, a rare achievement for a black artist at that time. According to Berry, label owner Leonard Chess was taken by the novelty of a “hillbilly song sung by a black man,” an inversion of Presley’s covers of blues songs.

Several hits followed, including “Roll Over Beethoven,” ‘‘School Day” and “Sweet Little Sixteen.” Among his other songs: “Too Much Monkey Business,” ‘‘Nadine,” ‘‘No Particular Place To Go,” ‘‘Almost Grown” and the racy novelty number “My Ding-A-Ling,” which topped the charts in 1972.

Berry also appeared in a dozen movies, doing his distinctive bent-legged “duck-walk” in several teen exploitation flicks of the ‘50s. Richards organized the well-received 1987 documentary “Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll,” a concert at St. Louis’ Fox Theatre to celebrate Berry’s 60th birthday. It featured Eric Clapton, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis, who recalled being told by his own mother that Berry, not he, was the true king of rock ‘n’ roll.

Country, pop and rock artists have recorded Berry songs, including the Beatles (“Roll Over Beethoven”), Emmylou Harris (“You Never Can Tell”), Buck Owens (“Johnny B. Goode”) and AC/DC (“School Days”). The Rolling Stones’ first single was a cover of Berry’s “Come On” and they went on to perform and record “Around and Around,” ‘‘Let it Rock” and others. Berry riffs pop up in countless songs, from the Stones’ ravenous “Brown Sugar” to the Eagles’ mellow country-rock ballad “Peaceful Easy Feeling.”

Some stars covered him too well. The Beach Boys borrowed the melody of “Sweet Little Sixteen” for their surf anthem “Surfin’ U.S.A.” without initially crediting Berry. The Beatles’ “Come Together,” written by John Lennon, was close enough to Berry’s “You Can’t Catch Me” to inspire a lawsuit by music publisher Morris Levy. In an out of court settlement, Lennon agreed to record “You Can’t Catch Me” for his 1975 “Rock n’ Roll” album.

On his 90th birthday last year, Berry disclosed that he would release his first new album in 38 years in 2017, titled simply: “Chuck.” The announcement said it would be comprised primarily of new, original songs written, recorded and produced by him.

Berry himself was accused of theft. In 2000, Johnson sued Berry over royalties and credit he believed he was due for the songs they composed together over more than 20 years of collaboration. The lawsuit was dismissed two years later, but Richards was among those who believed Johnson had been cheated, writing in his memoir “Life” that Johnson set up the arrangements for Berry and was so essential to the music that many of Berry’s songs were recorded in keys more suited for the piano.

Openly money-minded, Berry was an entrepreneur with a St. Louis nightclub and, in a small town west of there, property he dubbed Berry Park, which included a home, guitar-shaped swimming pool, restaurant, cottages and concert venue. He declined to have a regular band and instead used local musicians, willing to work cheap. Springsteen was among those who had an early gig backing Berry.

Burned by an industry that demanded a share of his songwriting credits, Berry was deeply suspicious of even his admirers, as anybody could tell from watching him give Richards the business in “Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll.” For the movie’s concerts, he confounded Richards by playing songs in different keys and tempos than they had been in rehearsal. Richards would recall turning to his fellow musicians and shrugging, “Wing it, boys.”

Berry’s career nearly ended decades earlier, when he was indicted for violating the Mann Act, which barred transportation of a minor across state lines for “immoral purposes.” An all-white jury found him guilty in 1960, but the charges were vacated after the judge made racist comments. A trial in 1961 led to his serving 1 1/2 years of a three-year term. Berry continued to record after getting out, and his legacy was duly honored by the Beatles and the Stones, but his hit-making days were essentially over.

“Down from stardom/then I fell/to this lowly prison cell,” Berry wrote as his jail time began.

Tax charges came in 1979, and another three-year prison sentence, all but 120 days of which was suspended. Some former female employees later sued him for allegedly videotaping them in the bathroom of his restaurant. The cases were settled in 1994, after Berry paid $1.3 million.

“Every 15 years, in fact, it seems I make a big mistake,” Berry acknowledged in his memoir.

Still, echoing the lyrics of “Back in the U.S.A.,” he said: “There’s no other place I would rather live, including Africa, than America. I believe in the system.”

Chuck passed away at his home in the outskirts of St.Louis on March 18, 2017. He was 90 years old.

The Rolling Stones said they are “deeply saddened” by the death of Chuck Berry, describing him as a “true pioneer of rock ‘n’ roll and a massive influence on us”. “I am so sad to hear of Chuck Berry’s passing. I want to thank him for all the inspirational music he gave to us,” Mick Jagger said.

“He lit up our teenage years, and blew life into our dreams of being musicians and performers. “His lyrics shone above others and threw a strange light on the American dream. Chuck you were amazing and your music is engraved inside us forever.”

“R.I.P. And peace and love Chuck Berry Mr. rock ‘n’ roll music,” Beatles drummer Ringo Starr tweeted in reaction to Berry’s passing. “Just let me hear some of that rock ‘n’ roll music…” Starr added, quoting from one of Berry’s hits.

While Elvis Presley gave rock its libidinous, hip-shaking image, Berry was the auteur, setting the template for a new sound and way of life. Well before the rise of Bob Dylan, Berry wedded social commentary to the beat and rush of popular music.

“He was singing good lyrics, and intelligent lyrics, in the ‘50s when people were singing, “Oh, baby, I love you so,‘” John Lennon once observed.

Berry, in his late 20s before his first major hit, crafted lyrics that spoke to the teenagers of the day and remained fresh decades later. “Sweet Little Sixteen” captured rock ‘n’ roll fandom, an early and innocent ode to the young girls later known as “groupies.” ‘‘School Day” told of the sing-song trials of the classroom (“American history and practical math; you’re studying hard, hoping to pass…”) and the liberation of rock ‘n’ roll once the day’s final bell rang.

“Roll Over Beethoven” was an anthem to rock’s history-making power, while “Rock and Roll Music” was a guidebook for all bands that followed (“It’s got a back beat, you can’t lose it”). “Back in the U.S.A.” was a black man’s straight-faced tribute to his country at a time there was no guarantee Berry would be served at the drive-ins and corner cafes he was celebrating.

“Everything I wrote about wasn’t about me, but about the people listening,” he once said.

“Johnny B. Goode,” the tale of a guitar-playing country boy whose mother tells him he’ll be a star, was Berry’s signature song, the archetypal narrative for would-be rockers and among the most ecstatic recordings in the music’s history. Berry can hardly contain himself as the words hurry out (“Deep down Louisiana close to New Orleans/Way back up in the woods among the evergreens”) and the downpour of guitar, drums and keyboards amplifies every call of “Go, Johnny Go!”

The song was inspired in part by Johnnie Johnson, the boogie-woogie piano master who collaborated on many Berry hits, but the story could have easily been Berry’s, Presley’s or countless others‘. Commercial calculation made the song universal: Berry had meant to call Johnny a “colored boy,” but changed “colored” to “country,” enabling not only radio play, but musicians of any color to imagine themselves as stars.

“Chances are you have talent,” Berry later wrote of the song. “But will the name and the light come to you? No! You have to go!”

Johnny B. Goode could have only been a guitarist. The guitar was rock ‘n’ roll’s signature instrument and Berry’s clarion sound, a melting pot of country flash and rhythm ‘n blues drive, turned on at least a generation of musicians, among them the Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards, who once acknowledged he had “lifted every lick” from his hero; the Beatles’ George Harrison; Bruce Springsteen; and the Who’s Pete Townshend.

When NASA launched the unmanned Voyager I in 1977, an album was stored on the craft that would explain music on Earth to extraterrestrials. The one rock song included was “Johnny B. Goode.”

Mar 132017

Joni Sledge of Sister SledgeMarch 10, 2017 – Joni (Joan Elise) Sledge was born on Sept. 13, 1956, in Philadelphia to Edwin Sledge, a performer on Broadway, and Florez Sledge, an actress who oversaw her daughters’ careers as their business manager and traveled with them on tours.

Joni and her sisters, Debbie, Kim and Kathy, received voice training from their grandmother Viola Williams, a former operatic soprano, and gained early experience singing at the family church, Williams Temple Christian Methodist Episcopal.

Best known for their work with Chic in the late ’70s, siblings Debbie, Kim, Joni, and Kathy Sledge — collectively Sister Sledge — reached the height of their popularity during the disco era but had been recording since the early ’70s and were still active in the late ’90s. The group was formed in Philadelphia in 1971, when the sisters’ ages ranged from 12 to 16, and they recorded their first single, “Time Will Tell,” for the Philly-based Money Back label. (For the first few years, the group called itself Sisters Sledge.) In 1972, Sister Sledge signed with Atco and recorded its second single, “Weatherman,” which was followed by the Jackson 5-like “Mama Never Told Me” in 1973.

Sister Sledge’s first national hit came in 1974, when “Love, Don’t You Go Through No Changes on Me” reached number 31 on the R&B charts and the Philadelphians recorded their debut album, Circle of Love. Their second album, Together, was released in 1977 and contained the number 61 R&B hit “Blockbuster Boy.” It wasn’t until 1979, when Chic leaders Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards produced We Are Family, that Sister Sledge really exploded commercially. “He’s the Greatest Dancer” and We Are Family’s title song both soared to number one on the R&B charts, and the latter (a number two pop smash) was adopted as a theme by the World Series-winning Pittsburgh Pirates.

We are Family elevated their career to a new plane, but they could not sustain its enormous success. The follow up album, Love Somebody Today, was also produced by the Rodgers/Edwards team, but fell way short of its predecessor and delivered modest hits Got to Love Somebody and Reach Your Peak, which turned out to be enough to keep the sisters on the road for another 3 years of international touring.

They switched to producer Narada Michael Walden for All American Girls (1981).  The title song was a number three R&B hit, and in 1982, Sister Sledge had a number 14 R&B hit with a cover of Mary Wells’ “My Guy” that appeared on The Sisters.

In 1984, they enjoyed a fresh spurt of chart activity with a re-release of Lost in Music, which had been remixed by Rodgers and reached No 4 in the UK, and also had a UK No 11 hit with Thinking of You, belatedly extracted from the We Are Family album. In 1985 they topped the British chart with Frankie, from their album When the Boys Meet the Girls.

But after that, the foursome’s popularity faded, and it never had another Top 20 hit in the U.S. – although 1985’s “Frankie” (a number 32 R&B hit in the States) became a pop number one hit in England. Sister Sledge left Atlantic for good in 1985. Epic released Kathy’s debut solo album, Heart, in 1992, and 1997 found the sisters recording a risk-taking date, African Eyes, arguably one of the finest albums they ever recorded.

In 1996, Joni wrote the song Brother, Brother Stop after witnessing a shooting incident in Los Angeles, and it was recorded for a Sister Sledge greatest hits collection. She also wrote several of the songs on, and produced, their album African Eyes (1997), which was nominated for a best-production Grammy.

A younger generation became familiar with the group’s song, “He’s the Greatest Dancer,” when it was famously sampled in Will Smith’s 1998 hit “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It.”

In 2001, Sister Sledge (including Kathy, who had left to pursue a solo career in 1989) recorded an all-star version of We Are Family as a post-9/11 benefit disc. Joni and Debbie performed on the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury festival in 2005, with Kim, now an ordained minister, rejoining them to perform for Pope Francis at the World Meeting of Families festival in Philadelphia in 2015, alongside Andrea Bocelli and Aretha Franklin.

Even though their hit-making days were behind them, Sister Sledge remained active all the way up to the unexpected death of Joni on March 10, 2017. Their next show had been scheduled for March 18 and a series of European performances was planned.

The following deep introspection is what Joni wrote when Prince moved into the aftermath last year:

This morning, I woke up to the same sunlight pouring in to my bedroom window and I thought, the sun moves silently, like clockwork. Somewhere there are children laughing under it, while the sound of water rushes from rivers, showers, boiling tea pots, guitars.  All things beat to a life rhythm, over which we as humans have no control.

The same sun rises over Paisley Park today, but in the home of our Prince of Passion, there is silence. “Silence”. How could that be, God? Will you not explain the mystery of this deep silence? I am listening.

While I listen to the slow hum of my dishwasher, it is hard to fathom that this day, there is silence in the body of a man so animated with passion, that he lived compelled to share it through music. Blissful, provocative, symphonic, chocolate, creamy, dreamy, cacophonous, stimulating music. This is the artist, known as Prince, saturated with party, pathos and brilliance.

Why God are his hands so abruptly silent?
When describing Prince, “unresponsive male” doesn’t work for me, for any of us.  It has been made clear to me that our souls, our brilliance, our passions, have nothing to do with physicality. Without them we are silent.

Only God knows where you are sounding off now.
Prince, Michael, Bowie, Miles. I dream of Angel’s overwhelmed by your gifts. But thank you for sharing. Your music is the only instrument I have to forever assuage the deep silence within my heart.

Joni Sledge

Jan 252017

Butch Trucks, drummer for the Allman Brothers BandJanuary 24, 2017 – Claude Hudson “Butch” Trucks was born on May 11, 1947 in Jacksonville, Florida.

A drummer, one of Trucks’ first bands was local Jacksonville band The Vikings, who made one 7-inch record in 1964. Another early band was The 31st of February which formed and broke up in 1968. This group’s lineup eventually included both Duane Allman and Gregg Allman. They recorded a cover of “Morning Dew”, by 1960s folk singer Bonnie Dobson.

Trucks then helped form The Allman Brothers Band in 1969, along with Duane Allman (guitar), Gregg Allman (vocals and organ), Dickey Betts (guitar), Berry Oakley (bass), and fellow drummer Jai Johanny Johanson.
Together, the two drummers developed a rhythmic drive that would prove crucial to the band. Trucks laid down a powerful conventional beat while the jazz-influenced Johanson added a second laminate of percussion and ad libitum cymbal flourishes, seamlessly melded into one syncopated sound.

Said founding member and co-lead guitarist Dickey Betts of Trucks’ addition to the original band lineup, “…When Butch came along, he had that freight train, meat-and-potatoes kind of thing that set Jaimoe up perfectly. He had the power thing we needed.”

Trucks continued to record and perform with the Allman Brothers Band until they disbanded in 2014.

Along with band members Gregg Allman, Jai Johanny “Jaimoe” Johanson, and Dickey Betts, Butch Trucks was named as plaintiff in a lawsuit against UMG Recordings. The suit, initiated in 2008, seeks $10 million over royalties from CD sales and digital downloads services such as Apple’s iTunes. Trucks sees the license given to users for downloads as legally unsound. Trucks embraced Internet technology for the group and planned to use (now defunct) to make the Web a real venue for the Allman Brothers and other jam bands.

In 2015, Trucks performed at two festivals with a band billed as Butch Trucks & Very Special Friends. This band evolved into a band called Les Brers which was led by Trucks and also featured other former Allman Brothers Band members including his longtime drumming partner Jaimoe. He also performed with a band called Butch Trucks & The Freight Train Band, which still has an active tour schedule well into 2017 on its website.

Trucks had a long interest in philosophy and literature. In 2005, the New York Times Book Review published a letter from Trucks criticizing Roy Blount, Jr.’s reference to Duane Allman as “one of these churls” in a review of Splendor in the Short Grass: The Grover Lewis Reader. The letter further criticized Grover Lewis for his 1971 Rolling Stone article about the band, which Trucks wrote made the members look like uneducated characters who spoke in dialogue “taken directly from Faulkner.”

Trucks was related to other famous musicians. His nephew, slide guitarist extra ordinaire Derek Trucks,married to blues vocalist Susan Tedeschi, is now the frontman and bandleader of The Tedeschi Trucks Band after having been part of the Allman Brothers Band from 1999 until their final break up in 2014. Another nephew, Duane Trucks (Derek’s younger brother), plays drums for Widespread Panic and Hard Working Americans. Trucks’ oldest son, guitarist Vaylor Trucks, is part of a trio called The Yeti Trio based in Atlanta. He was also a nephew of Major League Baseball pitcher and coach “Fire” Virgil Trucks (1917-2013).

Butch Trucks died on January 24, 2017 in an apparent suicide from a gunshot wound to the head at the age of 69.

Butch Trucks, a founding member of The Allman Brothers Band, tragically died the night of January 24 in West Palm Beach, Florida.  His wife, four children, four grandchildren and all of the Allman Brothers Band, their families and Road Crew survive Butch. The Trucks and Allman Brothers Band families request all of Butch’s friends and fans to please respect our privacy at this time of sadness for our loss.  Butch will play on in our hearts forever.

The Freight Train, family and crew are greatly saddened by the passing of our leader and friend Butch Trucks. He will be missed terribly.

Gregg Allman, 69, took to social media to mourn his friend and bandmember. “I’m heartbroken. I’ve lost another brother and it hurts beyond words. Butch and I knew each other since we were teenagers and we were bandmates for over 45 years. He was a great man and a great drummer and I’m going to miss him forever. Rest In Peace Brother Butch.”


Jan 102017

January 8, 2017 – Peter Eardley Sarstedt was born on Dec 10, 1941 in Delhi, India where his parents Albert and Coral Sarstedt, worked in the British civil service as India was still a British possession in 1942.

The following year, his parents moved the family to Kurseong near Darjeeling, in the shadow of Mt. Everest, where Albert took over the management of a tea plantation. Sarstedt was one of six children and, like his siblings, was educated at boarding schools favored by the British living in India for much of his childhood. From the time he was five years old, the family relocated to Calcutta, and later — amid the turmoil and uncertainty following independence in 1947 — the family finally moved to England in 1954. Albert Sarstedt had passed away during the extended preparation for the relocation, and it was a truly new existence that they began in South London that year.

The family, which was very musical, and Sarstedt’s older brother Richard — who had seriously entertained notions of studying architecture — soon found himself sidetracked into music. Pop music was starting to undergo a decidedly youth-oriented boom around this time, with the advent of the skiffle explosion, followed by the new American export, rock & roll, which arrived in England in a serious way in 1955 with the release of “Rock Around the Clock” and the movie The Blackboard Jungle, and grew exponentially the following year, with the first of Elvis Presley’s releases in the U.K.

Richard Sarstedt was a serious Bill Haley fan, in addition to being a natural (and highly proficient) guitarist, and by 1957 he’d organized his own skiffle band which included Peter Sarstedt and younger sibling Clive Sarstedt. As the Fabulous Five, they played lots of local clubs and coffee bars, gaining experience and honing their sound, so that by 1961 Richard Sarstedt won a talent competition that got him a recording contract and a name-change, to Eden Kane. Peter Sarstedt and his brother Clive continued to accompany their brother as members of his band throughout the early ’60s.

Clive Sarstedt, billed at one time as Robin Sarstedt, also recorded in his own right, at first as a musical protégé of Joe Meek, who produced his debut single (released credited to “Clive Sands”). He subsequently scored a hit in 1976, as Robin Sarstedt, with the song “My Resistance Is Low.”

Peter Sarstedt eventually gravitated toward his own musical interests and sound, which differed somewhat from those of his brother. Following a musical career closer to folk than most traditional ‘pop’, Peter didn’t consider it necessary to undergo a name change like his older brother. Although lacking Richard’s good looks, Peter was blessed with superb songwriting skills. He’d already had some recognition- though not chart success- with ‘I Am A Cathedral’- before writing his great 1960s classic ‘Where Do You Go To My Lovely’.

The combination of folk and pop paid big dividends in early 1969, however, when his “Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)?” went to number one in the British charts, and copped the Ivor Novello Award (sharing it with David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”). A none-too-sympathetic portrait of a young female survivor of the slums of Naples turned into a Euro-jet-setter set to a faux European waltz tune, it reached the top chart position in 14 other countries, but was only a tiny hit in the U.S. Sarstedt did manage another creditable Top Ten single in his native U.K. with “Frozen Orange Juice” later that year. He also released a self-titled debut album that reached number eight on the British charts.

Sarstedt’s first two albums are some of the most peculiarly dated relics of their time, with a brazen eclecticism that seems to be firing for acceptance in both the underground and AM radio formats. James Bond soundtrack brass here, mournful pseudo-classical bombast there, chirping bassoons, straight acoustic heart-on-the-sleeve folky guitars: all were fair game, although as a singer/songwriter, Sarstedt’s ambitions often outstripped his talents. Even though he penned and recorded 11 more albums, he was never able to repeat these chart successes and for a time in the 1970s he worked with his siblings as one third of ‘The Sarstedt Brothers’.

Listening to Peter Sarstedt today, you might think he’s the creation of some TV movie producer who tried to build a story around a character based on Donovan and only got it 25 percent right. Sarstedt recalled Donovan, and to a slighter extent such other British pop/folk singer/songwriters of the era as Al Stewart and Cat Stevens, with his lilting phrasing and earnest ambition. Like those artists, he was also prone to being a bit fruity and smug. And if you thought Donovan’s production could be overly pop-conscious, Sarstedt’s arrangements were a far more determined admixture of wordy lyricism and bouncy commercialism, their brassy orchestrations often sounding like juiced-up refugees from easy listening sessions.

Since the 1980s, Sarstedt had been very busy on the oldies circuit, playing on package tours with other fixtures of British pop music from the late ’60s and 1970s. He continued to write and record new songs, and his classic sides received a boost in 2007 when “Where Do You Go” turned up in two movies by director Wes Anderson, Hotel Chevalier and The Darjeeling Limited in 2007.



Although he lived quietly in Denmark for many years he returned to England during the 1990s and regularly performs on the 1960s nostalgia circuit. Peter last performed live in 2010. His last album ‘Restless Heart’ was released in 2013.
He was diagnosed with dementia in 2013 and suffered from progressive supranuclear palsy in 2015.

He died peacefully, according to his family, on January 8, 2017 at age 75.

In the liner notes to his debut album, he said he wrote “Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)?” for a girlfriend who “tragically died in a hotel fire.” In 2009, he told the Daily Express the fire story was “completely untrue.” The girl of the song was “meant to be a generic European girl,” he said, but was based partly on a Danish student, Anita Atke, whom he married in 1969 and later divorced. Rumors circled when the song was released  that it was about Sophia Loren’s rise out of the ghettos of Naples.

Where Do You Go to My Lovely?

Dec 262016

December 25, 2016 – George Michael was born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou in Finchley, North London, England on June 25, 1963. His father, was a Greek Cypriot restaurateur, who moved to England in the 1950s and his  mother, was a dancer. Michael spent the majority of his childhood in Kingsbury, London, in the home his parents bought soon after his birth.

While he was in his early teens, the family moved to Radlett, Hertfordshire where he attended Bushey Meads School in the neighbouring town of Bushey, and where he also befriended his future Wham! partner Andrew Ridgeley. The two had the same career ambition of being musicians. Michael would busk on the London Underground, performing songs such as “’39” by Queen. His involvement in the music business began with his working as a DJ, playing at clubs and local schools around Bushey, Stanmore, and Watford. This was followed by the formation of a short-lived ska band called the Executive, with Ridgeley, Ridgeley’s brother Paul, Andrew Leaver, and David Mortimer (later known as David Austin). “I wanted to be loved,” said Michael of his start in the music field. “It was an ego satisfaction thing.”

Just 18, Michael formed the teenybopper duo Wham! with Andrew Ridgeley in 1981. Helped by their startling good looks and MTV, which was an emerging music industry force at the time, the cheerful duo easily crossed the Atlantic to become popular in the United States with Michael, as lead singer, usually the focal point. The band’s first album Fantastic reached No. 1 in the UK in 1983 and produced a series of top 10 singles including “Young Guns”, “Wham Rap!” and “Club Tropicana“. Their second album, Make It Big, reached No. 1 on the charts in the US. Singles from that album included “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” (No. 1 in the UK and US), “Freedom“, “Everything She Wants“, and “Careless Whisperwhich reached No. 1 in nearly 25 countries, including the UK and US, and was Michael’s first solo effort as a single. (he wrote the song at the age of 17).

Wham!’s tour of China in April 1985, the first visit to China by a Western popular music act, generated worldwide media coverage, much of it centred on Michael. Before Wham!’s appearance in China, many kinds of music in the country were forbidden. The audience included members of the Chinese government, and Chinese television presenter, Kan Lijun, who was the on stage host, spoke of Wham!’s historic performance; “No-one had ever seen anything like that before. All the young people were amazed and everybody was tapping their feet. Of course the police weren’t happy and they were scared there would be riots.” The tour was documented by film director Lindsay Anderson and producer Martin Lewis in their film Foreign Skies: Wham! In China.

In the mid 1980s he was a British pop icon who dominated the charts – and the headlines, all founded on an early passion for music and a prodigious song-writing talent.

Waving goodbye to Wham! in 1986, Michael went on to enjoy worldwide solo success with albums such as Faith, Listen without Prejudice Vol 1 and Older. As a solo artist, he developed into a more serious singer and songwriter, lauded by critics for his tremendous vocal range. He sold well over 100 million albums globally, earned numerous Grammy and American Music Awards, and recorded duets with legends like Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Luciano Pavarotti and Elton John.

Critics generally viewed his WHAM! songs as catchy but disposable pop and gave his solo efforts far higher marks. His first solo album, 1987’s “Faith,” sold more 20 million copies, and he enjoyed several hit singles including the raunchy “I Want Your Sex,” which was helped immeasurably by a provocative video that received wide air play on MTV. The song was controversial not only because of its explicit nature, but also because it was seen as encouraging casual sex and promiscuity at a time when the AIDS epidemic was deepening. Michael and his management tried to tamp down this point of view by having the singer write “Explore Monogamy” on the leg and back of a model in the video.

At the time, Michael had not disclosed his homosexuality, and much of his chart success was based on his sex appeal to young women. His look was raw and provocative, with tight jeans, tight T-shirts, black leather jackets and designer stubble, and his videos pushed the accepted limits with many lingerie-clad models vying for Michael’s attentions on screen.

Along with professional success however were crashing lows: in the early ‘90s Michael lost a highly publicized battle with his record company Sony (he accused them of ‘professional slavery’) and suffered debilitating bereavements.

For many years Michael’s drug use and taste for risky sex brought him into frequent brushes with the law, while his sexuality was in question before he was spectacularly ‘outed’, in 1998, by an undercover policeman in an LA public toilet and arrested for lewd conduct. The arrest received international media attention, and seemed for a brief time to jeopardize Michael’s stature as a top recording artist.

But instead of making excuses for his behavior, he went on to release a single and video, “Outside,” that made lite of the charges against him and mocked the Los Angeles police who had arrested him. (its video featured disco-dancing, kissing cops.)

Like all of his efforts at the time, it sold in prodigious numbers, helping him put the incident behind him. The arrest also prompted him to speak openly about his sexual orientation and the acknowledgment of his homosexuality made him even more popular with his fans.

He remained a strong musical force throughout his career, releasing dozens of records and touring to adoring crowds despite a growing number of run-ins with police, many of them stemming from a series of driving-under-the-influence-of-drugs incidents, including several crashes. Michael was an admitted user of marijuana and prescription sedatives and several times was found slumped over his car’s steering wheel after using both at the same time. His driver’s license was finally revoked for five years in 2010 after Michael drove his Land Rover into the side of a Snappy Snap photo shop with so much force that his vehicle dented the wall. A passer-by remembering Michael’s early career wrote the word WHAM on the spot his SUV had hit.

He was also arrested a second time in public toilets — this time in North London in 2008 for drug use, an incident that prompted him to apologize to his fans and promise to get his life in order.

He also offered an apology to “everybody else, just for boring them.”

A year earlier, he had told a television interviewer that his problems stemmed from a self-destructive streak and his attention-seeking nature. In later years, Michael suffered from creative block and he said at a press conference in 2011 that he felt he had let young people down with his misbehavior and had made it easier for others to denigrate homosexuals.

Despite these personal setbacks, Michael’s musical performances remained strong even as his material moved farther from the teen tunes that first brought him to stardom.

The Telegraph newspaper in 2011 described a London concert appearance as an impressive event, calling his voice, “A rich, soulful instrument, it’s capable of serious emotional heft, expertly matching the confessional tone of his own material.”

Michael was active in a number of charities and helped raise money to combat AIDS, help needy children, and support gay rights. He had a long-term relationship with Kenny Goss, but announced onstage in August 2011 that the two had broken up.

At the time of his death on Christmas Day 2016 a new album was reportedly underway, along with a documentary due in 2017. He died on 25 December, at the age of 53.

From the many tributes that flooded social media on Christmas Day, it’s clear that it’s Michael’s often underestimated song-writing genius for which he’ll be remembered. 

The man behind such ’80s classics as “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” when he was the lead singer of Wham!, and “Faith,” his first solo hit, amassed an enviable fortune from a career that spanned more than three decades. Those years of success resulted in a net worth of $200 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

With such a wealthy estate left behind by a celebrity known worldwide, an ensuing legal battle is all but a foregone conclusion. But Michael was not married when he died. In fact, he was never married in his life, according to Bustle. He never had any children, either.

However, he does have family involved in his affairs, according to the BBC, which published a brief statement by Michael’s publicist acknowledging the singer’s death on Sunday:

“It is with great sadness that we can confirm our beloved son, brother and friend George passed away peacefully at home over the Christmas period. The family would ask that their privacy be respected at this difficult and emotional time. There will be no further comment at this stage.”

One family member with whom Michael has had a contentious relationship is his sister, according to reports. She has alleged in the past that he would not financially support her to her likings, which she said led to her eviction from an apartment in London in 2004, Contact Music reported at the time.

While the nature of their relationship was not immediately clear shortly after Michael’s death was announced, if she had any lingering animosity toward her brother, those feelings could manifest themselves in a lawsuit for claims to the estate.

Dec 262016

December 24, 2016 – Rick Richard John Parfitt (Status Quo) was born in Woking, Surrey on 12 October 1948. His father was an insurance salesman “who was a drinker and a gambler” and his mother worked in cake shops. He described his upbringing as “wonderful”, and has described his childhood self as a “typical naughty boy”.

Parfitt first started to learn to play the guitar at the age of 11. He began playing a guitar when he was 11. In 1963 Parfitt was playing guitar and singing in The Feathers, a pub on Goodge Street in Camden, London, when his father was approached by an agent from Sunshine Holiday Camp on Hayling Island, who gave Parfitt a performing job. At the camp Parfitt joined Jean and Gloria Harrison, performing at the time as the double act The Harrison Twins, to form a cabaret trio called The Highlights.

Following the season, the Harrison Twins’ manager Joe Cohen—who had been one of the Keystone Cops—arranged for The Highlights to perform at Butlins in Minehead. It was at Butlins that Parfitt met future Status Quo partner Francis Rossi, who was playing with Alan Lancaster and John Coghlan in a band called The Spectres (soon to be renamed Traffic Jam) — a forerunner to Status Quo. After Parfitt became friends with the band, their manager Pat Barlow invited him to join the group as they needed another singer and, on leaving school at 15, got a job performing at Sunshine Holiday Camp in Hayling Island, Hampshire, earning £5 a week. Much of his new income went to his father however, who was a committed drinker and gambler.
“He was forever getting in trouble and coming to me crying,” Parfitt later recalled. “I probably ended up giving him a couple of thousand quid in total. Back then, that was a lot of money.”

His partnership with Francis Rossi became the core of Status Quo, one of Britain’s most enduring bands.
Their brand of boogie-woogie rock survived changes in musical fashion and made them one of the best-loved live acts of their generation.

In 1967, Traffic Jam changed their name to The Status Quo (they soon dropped the definite article and later still would often be known simply as ‘Quo’), beginning Parfitt’s almost 50-year career in the band. Early successes came with the Rossi-penned hit “Pictures of Matchstick Men“, which embraced the psychedelic movement of the time and went to number seven in the UK charts.
Their follow up, Black Veils of Melancholy, failed to chart but they did get to number eight with Ice in the Sun, written by Marty Wilde. The single became the group’s only Top 40 hit in the United States, peaking at number twelve on the Billboard Hot 100.

But the band became disillusioned with the direction they were taking and abandoned their flowery clothes, embraced denim and T-shirts and settled down to a more traditional style of rock.
Parfitt co-wrote two of the tracks on their breakthrough album, Piledriver, released on the Vertigo label in 1972.
In an interview in 2014, Parfitt said of the record. “You know what? I love every track on that album! I think All The Reasons is just such a beautiful song. I wrote that about my wife at the time.” Piledriver reached number 5 and spent a total of 37 weeks on the UK Albums Chart.

The album became the template for subsequent releases, with Parfitt receiving a number of writing credits.
Whatever You Want, co-written by Parfitt and Andy Bown, became one of the band’s biggest hits and a staple of their increasingly popular live shows.

The band’s more popular songs during the early 70s include “Paper Plane” (1972), “Caroline” (1973), “Down Down” (1975), “Rain” (1976), “Rockin’ All Over the World” (1977) and “Whatever You Want” (1979). “Down Down” topped the UK Singles Chart in January 1975, becoming their only UK number one single. In 1976, they signed a pioneering sponsorship deal with Levi’s.

The 1976 hit “Mystery Song“, co-written with Bob Young, was composed after Rossi had laced Parfitt’s tea with amphetamine sulphate during the sessions for the Blue for You album. Rossi later said: “He was playing the riff when we left the studio, and he was still playing it when we came back the next day!”

By the late seventies the rock musical landscape was changing, from prog to punk, and into the ’80s with the New Romantics. Inside the tent, Status Quo continued to play their 12-bar blues style maintaining an ever loyal fan base.
The band set off on a farewell tour in 1984 but decided to carry on after Bob Geldof persuaded them to open the Live Aid concert the following year. “God, I’m so pleased we did it now. Quo opening Live Aid, it was meant to be.”

Quo continued to be highly successful in Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand throughout the 1980s and 90s, and were the opening act for 1985’s Live Aid, and they continue to be successful in the present day. By February 2015 they had sold over 118 million records worldwide. With his flowing blonde locks, denim gear and Fender Telecaster, Rick Parfitt was one of rock’s most recognizable guitarists. As well as driving the Quo sound on stage, Parfitt penned and co-wrote many of the band’s biggest hits.

They also embraced the hedonistic rock lifestyle with gusto. Parfitt admitted spending £1,000 a week on cocaine and another £500 on vodka. His addictions, coupled with the tragic drowning of their two-year-old daughter, Heidi, led to the breakdown of his first marriage to Marietta Broker.
“It’s not buying the drugs that is the most expensive thing,” he later said. “It’s the divorce which taking drugs eventually leads to.”
He later married Patty Beedon, who had been his childhood sweetheart. The couple divorced and reunited again, before finally going their separate ways. It was an acrimonious separation, with Patty later describing him as “a selfish child who never grew up”.
Parfitt’s experience of paying millions in divorce settlements made him vow never to marry again, but he tied the knot again in 2006 with Lyndsay Whitburn, a fitness instructor.

Other band members came and went over the years but Parfitt remained, with Rossi, the definitive face of Status Quo. While Rossi officially remained the band’s frontman, the musical partners were hard to separate on stage. In contrast to the rows that are part of many rock bands, the two remained good friends throughout the decades. When Status Quo had embarked on what they hinted would be their final tour, Parfitt offered an explanation for the longevity of veteran rock bands.
“Why do you think all these bands like the Stones and Deep Purple stay on the road? We’re having fun and I love being up there on stage. Once the lights go down and the crowds roar, something magical happens. All your aches and pains go.”
He added: “It would be weird to just stop because I would have nothing to do.”

He had a throat cancer scare in December 2005. He suffered a second heart attack in December 2011 and underwent surgery on the following day.

In 2010, Parfitt and Ross were awarded the OBE ( Officers of the Order of the British Empire) for services to music, posing together with their gongs after the investiture ceremony.
By this time Parfitt had suffered a number of health problems including undergoing quadruple heart by-pass surgery in 1997. He made a full recovery and was performing with the band within a matter of months.
Doctors warned the musician that he would have to leave behind his rock lifestyle, although he admitted at the time that he still enjoyed “the odd pint”.

In 2013 and 2014, Parfitt and Rossi reunited temporarily with original Quo bandmates Lancaster and Coghlan for a series of reunion concerts on what would be called the “Frantic Four” tour. On 1 August 2014, while on the European tour leg, Parfitt was hospitalized in Pula, Croatia, forcing the cancellation of six shows on the tour. He had suffered another heart attack while on his tour bus after performing a concert in Austria, and had a stent inserted. He later told the Daily Mail he was pleased to have suffered another heart attack as it had forced him to stop smoking and drinking after 50 years.

By 2014 he was living a relaxed life in Spain. “I haven’t smoked a joint for 27 years and I haven’t done any cocaine for 10 years. I just do normal stuff – the kids keep me busy and I go shopping with the missus.

In April 2015, along with his wife Lyndsay and Julian Hall, Parfitt set up “Status Homes”, a real estate company based in Marbella, Spain.

On June 14, 2016, however, after playing with the band in Antalya, Turkey, he had another heart attack and was hospitalized. His management described his condition as serious. Parfitt was clinically dead for several minutes, resulting in mild cognitive impairments. The band announced that their ongoing tour would continue with Freddie Edwards, son of bassist John “Rhino” Edwards, as a temporary replacement. On 22 June it was announced that Parfitt had been flown home to the UK and was described as “comfortable” in hospital in London, where he was undergoing more tests. He had a defibrillator fitted into his chest.In September it was announced that he would not be well enough to tour in the autumn and he did not intend to tour with the band in future.

Parfitt died on December 24, 2016 in Marbella, Spain from septicaemia, after being admitted the previous day, following complications to a shoulder injury. He was 64.

In 1973, Parfitt married his first wife, Marietta Boeker, and in 1974 they had their first son, Richard, better known as sports car racer and musician Rick Parfitt Jr. The couple also had a daughter, Heidi, who drowned in the family pool at the age of 2.

This tragedy, combined with Parfitt’s cocaine habit, led to the couple divorcing, and Parfitt going on to marry his second wife and former girlfriend, Patty Beedon, in 1988. They had a son, Harry, in 1989. They divorced when Parfitt had an affair with Boeker, before reuniting in 2000.

Parfitt and Beedon split up again when he secretly became engaged to fitness instructor Lyndsay Whitburn, whom he married in 2006. The couple remained married for the remainder of Parfitt’s life, and had twins Tommy and Lily in 2008, although by the time of Parfitt’s death, the couple were apparently separated.

In July of 2017, Whitburn claimed that Parfitt’s death was mostly the result of medical negligence.



Dec 082016

December 7, 2016 – Gregory Stuart “Greg” Lake was born on 10 November 1947 in Poole, Dorset near Bournemouth, England. Lake was given his first guitar at the age of 12 and took lessons from a local tutor called Don Strike.
first learned to play guitar at age 12. After 12 months of guitar lessons, Lake ended his tuition as he wished to learn songs by The Shadows but his instructor “wouldn’t have any of it.” After he left school, Lake worked as a draughtsman for a short period of time before he joined The Shame, where he is featured on their single “Don’t Go Away Little Girl”, written by Janis Ian. Lake then became a member of The Gods, which he described as “a very poor training college”.

In the 1960s, Lake formed a close friendship with guitarist Robert Fripp, who was also from Dorset and had shared the same guitar teacher. When Fripp formed King Crimson in 1969, he chose Lake to be the singer and bassist. Lake had been a regular guitarist for 11 years and this change marked Lake’s first time playing the instrument.

“I am both a bass guitarist and guitarist,” Greg explains. “A lot of the really good bass players also play guitar. McCartney and Sting for example both play guitar and I certainly grew up on it. But, because King Crimson didn’t need two guitarists, I took over playing the bass.”

In taking on the instrument, he also pioneered a new way of playing it. “I derived a great deal of enjoyment playing bass partly – I think – because I played it in a different way from most people at the time. The style I developed was a more percussive and more sustained approach, which almost certainly came from all my years on guitar. I was frustrated by the normal dull sound of bass guitars at the time and was searching for a more expressive sound. I discovered the key was to use the wire wound bass strings, which have far more sustain, rather like the low end of a Steinway Grand Piano. I think I was the first bass player to really use them in this way.”
However, it was the acoustic guitar that provided the setting for the ballads ELP and Lake became famous for. Lake wrote and sang: “C’est La Vie,” “From the Beginning,” “Still…You Turn Me On,” “Watching Over You,” and “Lucky Man.” One of the most famous Christmas songs ever was penned by Greg Lake. “I Believe in Father Christmas” has been covered by artists ranging from classical to rock, among them Irish rockers U2, actress and singer Sarah Brightman, and Dream Theater’s Jordan Rudess. Greg has performed it with Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson frequently as a fundraiser. Greg Lake composed ballads, he says, so he could play the guitar with ELP and still contribute the electric bass that paired so well with Emerson’s fiery keyboards and Palmer’s explosive drums.

Though Peter Sinfield was the band’s lyricist, Lake had some involvement in the lyrics for their debut album In the Court of the Crimson King. After their contracted producer Tony Clarke walked away from the project, Lake produced the album. Released in October 1969, the album an immediate commercial and critical success, as Lake recalled: “There was this huge wave of response. The audiences were really into us because we were an underground thing – the critics loved us because we offered something fresh”. He won worldwide acclaim as lead vocalist, bass guitarist and producer.
The album featured such songs as 21st Century Schizoid Man. The album set a standard for progressive rock and received a glowing, well-publicized testimonial from The Who’s Pete Townshend, who called it “an uncanny masterpiece”.

King Crimson supported In the Court of the Crimson King with a tour of the UK and the US, with some of the shows featuring prog-rock band The Nice as the opening act. During the US leg, Lake struck up a friendship with Nice keyboardist Keith Emerson and the two shared similar musical interests and talked about forming a new group.

When King Crimson returned to the UK in early 1970, Lake agreed to sing on the band’s second album, In the Wake of Poseidon, and appear on the music television show Top of the Pops with them, performing the song “Cat Food”.

After returning from the USA tour, founding member Mike Giles quit, but Lake stuck around long enough to sing on their second album, In the Wake of Poseidon, which was criticized for treading old ground, but refused to work with the band on the promotional tours.

He was approached by Keith Emerson to be the bass player and singer for his new band. Introduced to Atomic Rooster and The Crazy World of Arthur Brown drummer Carl Palmer, by Robert Stigwood, very soon thereafter they formed Emerson Lake and Palmer and made their live debut at the Guildhall in Plymouth in 1970 before giving a career-making performance at the Isle of Wight Festival. That special concert propelled them on their path to become one of the world’s first “super groups.”

The 1971 debut album, Emerson Lake and Palmer went platinum and underscored their Super Group status. It was produced by Lake and featured a song Greg had written while still in school: “Lucky Man.” “Lucky Man,” performed on acoustic guitar, would become an iconic song for the band and a popular classic on radio. The song has become synonymous with Greg Lake and the title was chosen as the title for Greg Lake’s 2012 autobiography.

Unusually, the band combined heavy rock riffs with a classical influence and created a unique live theatrical performance which stretched the imagination and enthralled audiences. In the next several years they scored hit albums with Pictures at an Exhibition (a full rock-ified version of Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky’s famous 1874 piano suite), Trilogy and Brain Salad Surgery – many of them produced by Lake himself. They were commercially successful in the UK with five albums charting in the Top 10, while Lake contributed acoustic and electric guitar work to Emerson Lake & Palmer, and his voice had a wider and more diverse range than anything The Nice had recorded.

Tarkus, released in 1971, featured an opening track inspired by the fictional Tarkus character – a half-tank, half-armadillo creature that would appear on stage at gigs – that lasted more than 20 minutes. Emerson and Lake conflicted between Emerson’s interest in complex, classically-influenced music and Lake’s more straightforward rock tastes. During the making of Tarkus, Lake initially rejected the title track, but was persuaded to record it following a band meeting with management, which ended in the addition of an original Lake tune, “Battlefield”, into the suite.

In 1975, while still a member of ELP, Lake achieved solo chart success when his single, “I Believe in Father Christmas”, reached number two on the UK Singles Chart. It has become a Yuletide perennial.

The band went on to enjoy chart success in 1977 with their version of Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man.
ELP’s ambitious light shows and on-stage theatrics were the epitome of ’70s rock excess, and several punk acts cited ELP as one of the bands they were reacting against.
But the band sold more than 48 million records, and Lake continued to be an influential and popular touring musician even after the band wound down in the late 1970s and split in 1979, following the unsuccessful album Love Beach. The group reformed for a number of years in the mid-1990s before permanently disbanding, bar a one-off gig in 2010.

Lake briefly joined Asia in 1983, replacing fellow King Crimson alumnus John Wetton, along with Palmer, members of Yes and King Crimson—before joining with Emerson to form the slightly poppier ELP reboot Emerson, Lake and Powell (Cozy Powell on drums) in the late 80s, featuring the Hot 100 hit “Touch and Go.”

He also formed partnerships on stage, and off, in performances, writing, recording, and productions with musicians whose brilliance matches his own. Solo tours and recordings have been extremely successful as he continues to recreate hits, add to his vast repertoire and raise the bar for others in the industry. His collaborations are many and impressive: Sheila E; Ringo Starr (joining Ringo Starr’s All-Star Band to great acclaim and with great enjoyment); Led Zepplin’s Robert Plant; The Who’s Roger Daltrey (which led to a guest recording on a hit Who single); Procol Harum’s Gary Booker, and Gary Moore. Greg has joined his friend Ian Anderson onstage with Jethro Tull and performed with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Greg  also completed a successful and critically acclaimed tour  in 2010. That tour was the foundation for the unique and inventive format which relies on audience participation. It preceded the reunion performance of Emerson Lake and Palmer as the headliners of the first and much celebrated and awarded High Voltage Festival.
2012 sees a reimagining and expansion of his intimate, interactive musical event format with his autobiographical tour, Songs of a Lifetime, full of drama, pathos, and humor. That show was inspired by the writing of Greg Lake’s greatly anticipated autobiography, Lucky Man. Available in both audio (read by the author) and hard cover formats, the book is not a recording of the show; it is completely different.
Greg Lake was a formidable producer in his own right. He was one of the driving forces behind the now legendary Manticore Records, which he says, was built “with the noble ideal of helping other progressive artists, music we thought worth supporting, that weren’t getting help from the majors.”
Lake’s inventive production shaped the best selling ELP albums and his solo work.

In 2005, Lake toured Germany and the United Kingdom with his “Greg Lake Band” which included David Arch, Florian Opahle, Trevor Barry on bass, and Brett Morgan. Lake performed “Karn Evil 9” with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra at several shows. He was a special guest on the album Night Castle (2009).

In July 2010, Lake joined Emerson and Palmer for what was to be the final live concert by Emerson, Lake and Palmer, at the High Voltage rock festival, in Victoria Park, London. The entire concert was later released as the double-CD live album, High Voltage, and subsequently on DVD and Blu-Ray.

Most recently Greg worked with arranger, composer and keyboard artist David Arch (whose vast credentials include scoring and playing now-classic movies including three Harry Potter films, Star Wars, Bridget Jones’ Diary and Notting Hill).

On 9 January 2016, he was awarded an honorary degree in music and lyrics composition by Conservatorio Nicolini in Piacenza, Italy, the first degree awarded by the conservatory.

Greg Lake passed on after a long and troubled fight with cancer on December 7, 2016. He was 69 years old.

Lake’s death comes as a particular shock to ELP fans, coming just months after Keith Emerson’s tragic suicide in March.

‘Love not money’

“The greatest music is made for love, not for money,” Lake is quoted as saying on his official website.
“The early ELP albums were pioneering because there is no standing still; time is always moving forward.”
Greg says “There is a common thread throughout all the music. The forms may be different, but each one to some degree draws upon inspiration from the past. I am as proud to have been as influenced by people like Elvis and Little Richard as I am by composers like Copeland and Prokofiev and I’m honored when other musicians regard me as one of their inspirations.

“I love acoustic guitars. They’re delicate and light and yet at the same time are unbelievably powerful. They are really a strange instrument from that point of view, but there is something very special about them,” he explains. “You just have to look at some of the truly great songs written on acoustic guitar – “Scarborough Fair,” “Forever Young,” “Yesterday” – truly iconic songs that all came from a small piece of wood with thin steel strings tied to each end.”
The acoustics worked perfectly with Lake’s “golden” voice, which Record Collector magazine calls “extraordinary, altering comfortably between angelic and magisterial.”
Lake’s remarkable voice also powered ELP’s more electric pieces such as Karn Evil #9, one of the world’s most beloved songs. The opening line “Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends…” is an international favourite, globally used as a television theme.
To date Emerson Lake and Palmer has sold over 48 million records. Lake produced Tarkus, Pictures at an Exhibition, Trilogy, Brain Salad Surgery, Works Vol. 1 and 2, and two different live albums. All went platinum and featured a series of hit singles , most written and all sung by Greg, who credits their success to his constant search for perfection and his heart.

“The greatest music is made for love, not for money. The early ELP albums were pioneering because there is no standing still; time is always moving forward.”
It wasn’t just the albums, it was the performances. The band filled arenas and stadiums in record breaking numbers. They toured the world with an enormous assembly of technicians, musicians and artists to realize their spellbinding shows.

Nov 132016

leon_russellNovember 12, 2016 – Leon Russell was born Claude Russell Bridges in Lawton, Okla., on April 2, 1941. An injury to his upper vertebrae at birth caused a slight paralysis on his right side that would shape his music, since a delayed reaction time forced him to think ahead about what his right hand would play.

He started classical piano lessons when he was 4 years old, played baritone horn in his high school marching band and also learned trumpet. At 14 he started gigging in Oklahoma; since it was a dry state at the time, he could play clubs without being old enough to drink. Soon after he graduated from high school, Jerry Lee Lewis hired him and his band to back him on tour for two months.

He moved to Los Angeles in the late 1950s and found club work and then studio work; he also learned to play guitar. Calling himself Leon Russell — the name Leon came from a friend who lent him an ID so he could play California club dates while underage — he drew on both his classical training and his Southern roots, playing everything from standards to surf-rock, from million-sellers to pop throwaways. He was glimpsed on television as a member of the house band for the prime-time rock show “Shindig!,” the Shindogs, in the mid-1960s.

In 1967, he built a home studio and began working with the guitarist Marc Benno as the Asylum Choir, which released its debut album in 1968. He also started a record label, Shelter, in 1969 with producer Denny Cordell. Russell drew more recognition as a co-producer, arranger and musician on Joe Cocker’s second album, “Joe Cocker!,” which included Russell’s song “Delta Lady.”

By the time Mr. Russell released his first solo album in 1970, he had already played on hundreds of songs as one of the top studio musicians in Los Angeles. Mr. Russell was in Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound Orchestra, and he played sessions for Frank Sinatra, Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, the Ventures and the Monkees, among many others. He is heard on “Mr. Tambourine Man” by the Byrds, “A Taste of Honey” by Herb Alpert, “Live With Me” by the Rolling Stones and all of the Beach Boys’ early albums, including “Pet Sounds.”


When Joe Cocker’s Grease Band fell apart days before an American tour, Russell assembled the big, boisterous band — including three drummers and a 10-member choir — that was named Mad Dogs & Englishmen. Its 1970 double live album and a tour film became a showcase for Russell as well as Cocker; the album reached No. 2 on the Billboard album chart. Russell also released his first solo album in 1970; it included “A Song for You” and had studio appearances from Joe Cocker, Eric Clapton, two ex-Beatles and three Rolling Stones. But Russell’s second album, “Leon Russell and the Shelter People,” fared better commercially; it reached No. 17 on the Billboard chart.

With a top hat on his head, hair well past his shoulders, a long beard, an Oklahoma drawl in his voice and his fingers splashing two-fisted barrelhouse piano chords, Russell had his widest visibility as the 1970s began. His songs also became hits for others, among them “Superstar” (written with Bonnie Bramlett) for the Carpenters, “Delta Lady” for Joe Cocker and “This Masquerade” for George Benson. More than 100 acts have recorded “A Song for You,” a song Mr. Russell said he wrote in 10 minutes.He played the 1971 Concert for Bangladesh at Madison Square Garden with George Harrison and Bob Dylan; he produced and played on Dylan’s songs “When I Paint My Masterpiece” and “Watching the River Flow.” He toured with the Rolling Stones and with his own band. His third album, “Carney,” went to No. 2 with the hit “Tight Rope.” In 1973 his “Leon Live” album reached the Top 10; he also recorded his first album of country songs under the pseudonym Hank Wilson. The fledgling Gap Band, also from Oklahoma, backed Russell in 1974 on his album “Stop All That Jazz.” His 1975 album “Will O’ the Wisp” included what would be his last Top 20 pop hit, “Lady Blue.”

But he continued to work. He made duet albums with his wife at the time, Mary Russell (formerly Mary McCreary). And he collaborated with Willie Nelson for a double LP in 1979 of pop and country standards, “One for the Road,” which sold half a million copies.

The music Leon Russell made on his own, put a scruffy, casual surface on rich musical hybrids, interweaving soul, country, blues, jazz, gospel, pop and classical music. Like Willie Nelson, who would collaborate with him, and Ray Charles, whose 1993 recording of “A Song for You” won a Grammy Award, Russell made a broad, sophisticated palette of American music sound down-home and natural.

In 1979 Mr. Russell married Janet Lee Constantine, who gave him six children: Blue, Teddy Jack, Tina Rose, Sugaree, Honey and Coco. For the next decades, Mr. Russell delved into various idioms, mostly recording for independent labels. He toured and recorded with the New Grass Revival, adding his piano and voice to their string-band lineup. He made more country albums as Hank Wilson. He recorded blues, Christmas songs, gospel songs and instrumentals. In 1992 songwriter and pianist Bruce Hornsby, who had long cited Russell’s influence, sought to rejuvenate Russell’s rock career by producing the album “Anything Can Happen,” but it drew little notice. Mr. Russell continued to tour for die-hard fans who called themselves Leon Lifers.

A call in 2009 from Elton John, whom Russell had supported in the early 1970s, led to the making of “The Union” — which also had guest appearances by Neil Young and Brian Wilson — and a 10-date tour together in 2010. Russell also sat in on Mr. Costello’s 2010 album, “National Ransom.” Then Russell, who had bought a new bus, returned to the road on his own.

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011. At the ceremony, Elton John called him “the master of space and time” and added, “He sang, he wrote and he played just how I wanted to do it.”

His website announced on November 13 in the early morning hours that Leon Russell has passed on in his sleep. Russell had significant health difficulties over the past five years. In 2010, he underwent surgery for a brain fluid leak and was treated for heart failure. In July of this year, he suffered a heart attack and was scheduled for further surgery.

Nov 112016

leonard-cohen-marianne-ihlenNovember 7, 2016 – Leonard Norman Cohen was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on September 21, 1934 and raised in the English-speaking Westmount area. His father, who had a clothing store passed away when Leonard was 9.

In high school he was involved with the student council and studied music and poetry. He became especially interested in the poetry of Federico García Lorca, after whom he named his daughter (Lorca) with artist/photographer Suzanne Elrod.

Even though poetry and writing were his first interests, he learned to play the guitar as a teenager and formed a country–folk group called The Buckskin Boys. Although he initially played a regular acoustic guitar, he soon switched to playing a classical guitar after meeting a young Spanish flamenco guitar player who taught him “a few chords and some flamenco.”

In High School he was involved with the student council and studied music and poetry. He became especially interested in the poetry of Federico García Lorca. As a teenager, he learned to play the guitar and formed a country–folk group called The Buckskin Boys. Although he initially played a regular acoustic guitar, he soon switched to playing a classical guitar after meeting a young Spanish flamenco guitar player who taught him “a few chords and some flamenco.”

His first published book of poetry, Let Us Compare Mythologies (1956), was published by Dudek as the first book in the McGill Poetry Series the year after Cohen’s graduation. The book contained poems written largely when Cohen was between the ages of 15 and 20, and Cohen dedicated the book to his late father.

After completing his undergraduate degree, Cohen spent a term in McGill’s law school and then a year (1956–57) at the School of General Studies at Columbia University in New York. Cohen described his graduate school experience as “passion without flesh, love without climax.” Consequently, Cohen left New York and returned to Montreal in 1957, working various odd jobs and focusing on the writing of fiction and poetry, including the poems for his next book, The Spice-Box of Earth (1961), which was the first book that Cohen published through the Canadian publishing company McClelland & Stewart.

His father’s will provided him with a modest trust income, sufficient to allow him to pursue his literary ambitions for the time, and The Spice-Box of Earth was successful in helping to expand the audience for Cohen’s poetry, helping him reach out to the poetry scene in Canada, outside the confines of McGill University. The book also helped Cohen gain critical recognition as an important new voice in Canadian poetry. One of Cohen’s biographers, Ira Nadel, stated that “reaction to the finished book was enthusiastic and admiring…. The critic Robert Weaver found it powerful and declared that Cohen was ‘probably the best young poet in English Canada right now.'”

Cohen continued to write poetry and fiction throughout much of the 1960s and preferred to live in quasi-reclusive circumstances after he bought a house on Hydra, a Greek island in the Saronic Gulf, with a thriving Bohemian expat community of writers, musicians and artists. While living and writing on Hydra, Cohen published the poetry collection Flowers for Hitler (1964), and the novels The Favorite Game (1963) and Beautiful Losers (1966). His novel The Favorite Game was an autobiographical bildungs (development)roman about a young man who discovers his identity through writing. Beautiful Losers received a good deal of attention from the Canadian press and stirred up controversy because of a number of sexually graphic passages. In 1966 Cohen also published Parasites of Heaven, a book of poems. Both Beautiful Losers and Parasites of Heaven received mixed reviews and sold few copies. Yet at this time Cohen’s life turned massively after meeting and falling in love with Norwegian muse Marianne Ihlen on the island of Hydra, the immortal source of his famous song “So Long Marianne.”

In 1967, disappointed with his lack of financial success as a writer, Cohen moved to the small town of Leiper’s Fork, just south of Nashville Tennessee to pursue a career as a folk music singer–songwriter. Subsequently, Cohen published less, with major gaps, concentrating more on recording songs.  During the mid 1960s, he was a fringe figure in Andy Warhol’s “Factory” crowd. Warhol speculated that Cohen had spent time listening to Nico and Velvet Underground in clubs around New York and that this had influenced his musical style. His song “Suzanne” – with slight reflections of a friend’s ex-wife Suzanne Verdal, became a hit for Judy Collins (who subsequently covered a number of Cohen’s other songs, as well), and was for many years his most covered song. Cohen has stated in later years that he was duped into giving up the rights for the song, but was glad it happened, as it would be wrong to write a song that was so well-loved and to get rich for it also.

His first album in 1967, the self titled “Songs of Leonard Cohen” became a worldwide hit and turned him into an instant “rockstar”. The album became a cult favorite in the U.S., as well as in the UK and Western Europe, where it spent over a year on the album charts. Several of the songs on that first album were covered by other popular folk artists, including James Taylor and Judy Collins. Both the first and the second album had songs written on the island of Hydra and inspired by his love for Marianne Ihlen. (So Long Marianne, Bird on a Wire etc.)

Cohen became one of the most fascinating and enigmatic — if not the most successful — singer/songwriters of the late ’60s, who retained an global audience across six decades of music-making, interrupted by various digressions into personal and creative exploration, all of which have only added to the mystique surrounding him. If at all, second only to Bob Dylan and forming a triumvirate of Hebrew children with Paul Simon, he commanded the attention of critics and younger musicians more firmly than any other musical figure from the ’60s who was still working in the 21st century, all the more remarkable an achievement for someone who didn’t even aspire to a musical career until he was in his thirties.

Cohen was born a year before Elvis Presley, and his background — personal, social, and intellectual — couldn’t have been more different from those of the rock or folk stars of any generation. Though he knew some country music and played it a bit as a boy, he didn’t start performing on even a semi-regular basis, much less recording, until after he had already written several books — and as an established novelist and poet, his literary accomplishments far exceed those of Bob Dylan or most anyone else who one cares to mention in music.

It was his mother who encouraged Cohen as a writer, especially of poetry, during his childhood. This fit in with the progressive intellectual environment in which he was raised, which allowed him free inquiry into a vast range of pursuits. His relationship to music was more tentative. He took up the guitar at age 13, initially as a way to impress a girl, but was good enough to play country & western songs at local cafés, and he subsequently formed a group called the Buckskin Boys. At 17, he enrolled in McGill University as an English major. By this time, he was writing poetry in earnest and became part of the university’s tiny underground “bohemian” community. Cohen only earned average grades, but was good enough as a writer to earn the McNaughton Prize in creative writing by the time he graduated in 1955. A year later, the ink barely dry on his degree, he published his first book of poetry, Let Us Compare Mythologies (1956), which got great reviews but didn’t sell especially well.

He was already beyond the age that rock & roll was aimed at. Bob Dylan, by contrast, was still Robert Zimmerman, still in his teens, and young enough to become a devotee of Buddy Holly when the latter emerged. So was Paul Simon. In 1961, Cohen published his second book of poetry, The Spice Box of Earth, which became an international success, critically and commercially, and established Cohen as a major new literary figure. Meanwhile, he tried to join the family business and spent some time at Columbia University in New York, writing all the time.

Between the modest royalties from sales of his second book, literary grants from the Canadian government, and a family legacy, he was able to live comfortably and travel around the world, partaking of much of what it had to offer — including some use of LSD when it was still legal — and ultimately settling for an extended period in Greece, on the isle of Hydra in the Aegean Sea. He continued to publish, issuing a pair of novels, The Favorite Game (1963) and Beautiful Losers (1966), with a pair of poetry collections, Flowers for Hitler (1964) and Parasites of Heaven (1966). The Favorite Game was a very personal work about his early life in Montreal, but it was Beautiful Losers that proved another breakthrough, earning the kind of reviews that authors dare not even hope for. (Cohen found himself compared to James Joyce in the pages of The Boston Globe, and across the years, the book has enjoyed sales totaling well into six figures.)

It was around this time that he also started writing music again, songs being a natural extension of his poetry. His relative isolation on Hydra, coupled with his highly mobile lifestyle when he left the island, his own natural iconoclastic nature, and the fact that he’d avoided being overwhelmed (or even touched too seriously) by the currents running through popular music since the ’40s, combined to give Cohen a unique voice as a composer.

Though he did settle in Leiper’s Fork south of Nashville for a short time in the mid-’60s, he didn’t write quite like anyone else in the country music mecca or anywhere else. This might have been an impediment, but for the intervention of Judy Collins, a folksinger who had just moved to the front rank of that field. Collins had a voice just special enough to move her beyond the relatively emaciated ranks of remaining popular folk performers after Dylan shifted to electric music; she was still getting heard, and not just by the purists left behind in Dylan’s wake.

She added Cohen’s “Suzanne” to her repertoire and put it on her album In My Life, a record that was controversial enough in folk circles (because of her cover of the Beatles song that gave the LP its title) to pull in a lot of listeners and get a wide airing. The LP’s “Suzanne” received a considerable amount of radio airplay, and Cohen was also represented on the album by “Dress Rehearsal Rag.”

Songs of Leonard Cohen

It was Collins who persuaded Cohen to return to performing for the first time since his teens. He made his debut during the summer of 1967 at the Newport Folk Festival, followed by a pair of sold-out concerts in New York City and an appearance singing his songs and reciting his poems on the CBS network television show Camera Three, in a show entitled “Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Leonard Cohen.” It was around the same time that actor/singer Noel Harrison brought “Suzanne” onto the pop charts with a recording of his own. One of those who saw Cohen perform at Newport was John Hammond, Sr., the legendary producer whose career went back to the ’30s and the likes of Billie Holiday, Benny Goodman, and Count Basie, and extended up through Bob Dylan and, ultimately, to Bruce Springsteen. Hammond got Cohen signed to Columbia Records and he created The Songs of Leonard Cohen, which was released just before Christmas of 1967.

Producer John Simon was able to find a restrained yet appealing approach to recording Cohen’s voice, which might have been described as an appealingly sensitive near-monotone; yet that voice was perfectly suited to the material at hand, all of which, written in a very personal language, seemed drenched in downbeat images and a spirit of discovery as a path to unsettling revelation. Someone called it: Music to slit your wrist by.
Despite its spare production and melancholy subject matter — or, very possibly because of it — the album was an immediate hit by the standards of the folk music world and the budding singer/songwriter community. In an era in which millions of listeners hung on the next albums of Bob Dylan and Simon & Garfunkel — whose own latest album had ended with a minor-key rendition of “Silent Night” set against a radio news account of the death of Lenny Bruce – Cohen’s music quickly found a small but dedicated following. College students by the thousands bought it; in its second year of release, the record sold over 100,000 copies. The Songs of Leonard Cohen was as close as Cohen ever got to mass audience success.

Amid all of this sudden musical activity, he lightly neglected his other writing — but in 1968, he released a new volume, Selected Poems: 1956-1968, which included both old and newly published work, and earned him the Governor General’s Award, Canada’s highest literary honor, which he proceeded to decline. By this time, he was actually almost more a part of the rock scene, residing for a time in New York’s Chelsea Hotel, where his neighbors included Janis Joplin and other performing luminaries, some of whom influenced his songs very directly.

Songs from a Room

His next album, Songs from a Room (1969), entirely composed while in Leiper’s Fork, was characterized by an even greater spirit of melancholy — even the relatively spirited “A Bunch of Lonesome Heroes” was steeped in such depressing sensibilities, and the one song not written by Cohen, “The Partisan,” was a grim narrative about the reasons for and consequences of resistance to tyranny that included lines like “She died without a whisper” and included images of wind blowing past graves. Joan Baez subsequently recorded the song, and in her hands it was a bit more upbeat and inspiring to the listener; Cohen’s rendition made it much more difficult to get past the costs presented by the singer’s persona. On the other hand, “Seems So Long Ago, Nancy,” although as downbeat as anything else here, did present Cohen in his most expressive and commercial voice, a nasal but affecting and finely nuanced performance.
In all, however, Songs from a Room was less well-received commercially and critically. Nashville star producer Bob Johnston’s restrained, almost minimalist production made it less overtly appealing than the subtly commercial trappings of his debut, though the album did have a pair of tracks, “Bird on the Wire” and “The Story of Isaac,” that became standards rivaling “Suzanne.” “The Story of Isaac,” a musical parable woven around biblical imagery about Vietnam, was one of the most savage and piercing songs to come out of the antiwar movement, and showed a level of sophistication in its music and lyrics that put it in a whole separate realm of composition; it received an even better airing on the Live Songs album, in a performance recorded in Berlin during 1972.

Cohen may not have been a widely popular performer or recording artist, but his unique voice and sound, and the power of his writing and its influence, helped give him gain entry to the front rank of rock performers, an odd status for the then 35-year-old author/composer. He appeared at the 1970 Isle of Wight festival in England, a post-Woodstock gathering of stars and superstars, including late appearances by such soon-to-die-or-disband legends as Jimi Hendrix and the Doors. Looking nearly as awkward as his fellow Canadian Joni Mitchell, Cohen strummed his acoustic guitar backed by a pair of female singers in front of an audience of 600,000 (“It’s a large nation, but still weak”), comprised in equal portions of fans, freaks, and belligerent gatecrashers, but the mere fact that he was there — sandwiched somewhere between Miles Davis and Emerson, Lake & Palmer — was a clear statement of the status (if not the popular success) he’d achieved.

(Cohen’s performance of “Suzanne” was one of the highlights of Murray Lerner’s long-delayed 1996 documentary Message to Love: The Isle of Wight Festival, and his full set was reissued in 2009, both on audio and video formats.)

Already, he had carved out a unique place for himself in music, as much author as performer and recording artist, letting his songs develop and evolve across years — his distinctly non-commercial voice became part of his appeal to the audience he found, giving him a unique corner of the music audience comprising listeners descended from the same people who had embraced Bob Dylan’s early work before he’d become a mass-media phenomenon in 1964. In a sense, Cohen embodied a phenomenon vaguely similar to what Dylan enjoyed before his early-’70s tour with the Band — people bought his albums by the tens and, occasionally, hundreds of thousands, but seemed to hear him in uniquely personal terms. He earned his audience seemingly one listener at a time, by word of mouth more than by the radio, which, in any case (especially on the AM dial), was mostly friendly to covers of Cohen’s songs by other artists.

Songs of Love and Hate

Cohen’s third album, Songs of Love and Hate (1971), was one of his most powerful works, brimming with piercing lyrics and music as poignantly affecting as it was minimalist in its approach — arranger Paul Buckmaster’s work on strings was peculiarly muted, and the children’s chorus that showed up on “Last Year’s Man” was spare in its presence. Balancing them was Cohen’s most effective vocalizing to date, brilliantly expressive around such acclaimed songs as “Joan of Arc,” “Dress Rehearsal Rag” (which had been recorded by Judy Collins five years before), and “Famous Blue Raincoat.” The bleakness of the tone and subject matter ensured that he would never become a “pop” performer; even the beat-driven “Diamonds in the Mine” — catchy children’s chorus accompaniment and all, with a twangy electric guitar accompaniment to boot — was as dark and venomous a song as Columbia Records put out in 1971. And the most compelling moments — among an embarrassment of riches — came on lyrics like “Now the flames they followed Joan of Arc/As she came riding through the dark/No moon to keep her armor bright/No man to get her through this night…

Teenagers of the late ’60s (or any era that followed) listening devotedly to Leonard Cohen might have worried their parents, but could well have been the smartest or most sensitive kids in their class and the most well-balanced emotionally — if they weren’t depressed — but also effectively well on their way out of being teenagers, and probably too advanced for their peers and maybe most of their teachers (except maybe the ones listening to Cohen). Songs of Love and Hate, coupled with the earlier hit versions of “Suzanne,” etc., earned Cohen a large international cult following. He also found himself in demand in the world of commercial filmmaking, as director Robert Altman used his music in his 1971 feature film McCabe and Mrs. Miller, starring Warren Beatty and Julie Christie, a revisionist period film set at the turn of the 19th century that was savaged by the critics (and, by some accounts, sabotaged by its own studio) but went on to become one of the director’s best-loved movies. The following year, he also published a new poetry collection, The Energy of Slaves.

As was his wont, Cohen spent years between albums, and in 1973 he seemed to take stock of himself as a performer by issuing Leonard Cohen: Live Songs. Not a conventional live album, it was a compendium of performances from various venues across several years and focused on highlights of his output from 1969 onward. It showcased his writing as much as his performing, but also gave a good account of his appeal to his most serious fans — those still uncertain of where they stood in relation to his music who could get past the epic-length “Please Don’t Pass Me By” knew for certain they were ready to “join” the inner circle of his legion of devotees after that, while others who only appreciated “Bird on the Wire” or “The Story of Isaac” could stay comfortably in an outer ring.

New Skin for the Old Ceremony

Meanwhile, in 1973, his music became the basis for a theatrical production called Sisters of Mercy, conceived by Gene Lesser and loosely based on Cohen’s life, or at least a fantasy version of his life. A three-year lag ensued between Songs of Love and Hate and Cohen’s next album, and most critics and fans just assumed he’d hit a dry spell with the live album covering the gap. He was busy concertizing, however, in the United States and Europe during 1971 and 1972, and extending his appearances into Israel during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. It was during this period that he also began working with pianist and arranger John Lissauer, whom he engaged as producer of his next album, New Skin for the Old Ceremony (1974). That album seemed to justify his fans’ continued faith in his work, presenting Cohen in a more lavish musical environment. He proved capable of holding his own in a pop environment, even if the songs were mostly still depressing and bleak.
Greatest Hits The following year, Columbia Records released The Best of Leonard Cohen, featuring a dozen of his best-known songs — principally hits in the hands of other performers — from his previous four LPs (though it left out “Dress Rehearsal Rag”). It was also during the mid-’70s that Cohen first crossed paths professionally with Jennifer Warnes, appearing on the same bill with the singer at numerous shows, which would lead to a series of key collaborations in the ensuing decade. By this time, he was a somewhat less mysterious persona, having toured extensively and gotten considerable exposure — among many other attributes, Cohen became known for his uncanny attractiveness to women, which seemed to go hand in glove with the romantic subjects of most of his songs.

Death of a Ladies’ Man

In 1977, Cohen reappeared with the ironically titled Death of a Ladies’ Man, the most controversial album of his career, produced by Phil Spector. The notion of pairing Spector — known variously as a Svengali-like presence to his female singers and artists and the most unrepentant (and often justified) over-producer in the field of pop music — with Cohen must have seemed like a good one to someone at some point, but apparently Cohen himself had misgivings about many of the resulting tracks that Spector never addressed, having mixed the record completely on his own. The resulting LP suffered from the worst attributes of Cohen’s and Spector’s work, overly dense and self-consciously imposing in its sound, and virtually bathing the listener in Cohen’s depressive persona, but showing his limited vocal abilities to disadvantage, owing to Spector’s use of “scratch” (i.e. guide) vocals and his unwillingness to permit the artist to redo some of his weaker moments on those takes.

For the first (and only) time in Cohen’s career, his near-monotone delivery of this period wasn’t a positive attribute. Cohen’s unhappiness with the album was widely known among fans, who mostly bought it with that caveat in mind, so it didn’t harm his reputation. A year after its release, Cohen also published a new literary collection using the slightly different title Death of a Lady’s Man, as his relationship with the mother of his two children came to an end.

Recent Songs

Cohen’s next album, Recent Songs (1979), returned him to the spare settings of his early-’70s work and showed his singing to some of its best advantage. Working with veteran producer Henry Lewy (best known for his work with Joni Mitchell), the album showed Cohen’s singing as attractive and expressive in its quiet way, and songs such as “The Guests” seeming downright pretty. He still wrote about life and love, and especially relationships, in stark terms, but he almost seemed to be moving into a pop mode on numbers such as “Humbled in Love.” Frank Sinatra never needed to look over his shoulder at Cohen (at least, as a singer), but he did seem to be trying for a slicker pop sound at moments on his record.

Various Positions

Then came 1984, and two key new works in Cohen’s output — the poetic/religious volume The Book of Mercy and the album Various Positions (1984). The latter, recorded with Jennifer Warnes, is arguably his most accessible album of his entire career up to that time — Cohen’s voice, now a peculiarly expressive baritone instrument, found a beautiful pairing with Warnes, and the songs were as fine as ever, steeped in spirituality and sexuality, with “Dance Me to the End of Love” a killer opener: a wry, doom-laden yet impassioned pop-style ballad that is impossible to forget. Those efforts overlapped with some ventures by the composer/singer into other creative realms, including an award-winning short film that he wrote, directed, and scored, entitled I Am a Hotel, and the score for the 1985 conceptual film Night Magic, which earned a Juno Award in Canada for Best Movie Score.

I’m Your Man

Sad to say, Various Positions went relatively unnoticed, and was followed by another extended sabbatical from recording, which ended with I’m Your Man (1988). But during his hiatus, Jennifer Warnes had released her album of Cohen-authored material, entitled Famous Blue Raincoat, which had sold extremely well and introduced Cohen to a new generation of listeners. So when I’m Your Man did appear, with its electronic production (albeit still rather spare) and songs that added humor (albeit dark humor) to his mix of pessimistic and poetic conceits, the result was his best-selling record in more than a decade. The result, in 1991, was the release of I’m Your Fan: The Songs of Leonard Cohen, a CD of recordings of his songs by the likes of R.E.M., the Pixies, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, and John Cale, which put Cohen as a songwriter pushing age 60 right back on center stage for the ’90s.

He rose to the occasion, releasing The Future, an album that dwelled on the many threats facing mankind in the coming years and decades, a year later. Not the stuff of pop charts or MTV heavy rotation, it attracted Cohen’s usual coterie of fans, and enough press interest as well as sufficient sales, to justify the release in 1994 of his second concert album, Cohen Live, derived from his two most recent tours. A year later came another tribute album, Tower of Song, featuring Cohen’s songs as interpreted by Billy Joel, Willie Nelson, et al.

Ten New Songs

In the midst of all of this new activity surrounding his writing and compositions, Cohen embarked on a new phase of his life. Religious concerns were never too far from his thinking and work, even when he was making a name for himself writing songs about love, and he had focused even more on this side of life since Various Positions. He spent time at the Mt. Baldy Zen Center, a Buddhist retreat in California, and eventually became a full-time resident, and a Buddhist monk in the late ’90s. When he re-emerged in 1999, Cohen had many dozens of new compositions in hand, songs and poems alike. His new collaborations were with singer/songwriter/musician Sharon Robinson, who also ended up producing the resulting album, Ten New Songs (2001) — there also emerged during this period a release called Field Commander Cohen: Tour of 1979, comprised of live recordings from his tour of 22 years before.

Dear Heather

In 2004, the year he turned 70, Cohen released one of the most controversial albums of his career, Dear Heather. It revealed his voice anew, in this phase of his career, as a deep baritone more limited in range than on any previous recording, but it overcame this change in vocal timbre by facing it head-on, just as Cohen had done with his singing throughout his career. It also contained a number of songs for which Cohen wrote music but not lyrics, a decided change of pace for a man who’d started out as a poet. And it was as personal a record as Cohen had ever issued. His return to recording was one of the more positive aspects of Cohen’s resumption of his music activities.

On another side, in 2005, he filed suit against his longtime business manager and his financial advisor over the alleged theft of more than five million dollars, at least some of which took place during his years at the Buddhist retreat.

Live in London

Five decades after he emerged as a public literary figure and then a performer, Cohen remained one of the most compelling and enigmatic musical figures of his era, and one of the very few of that era who commands as much respect and attention, and probably as large an audience, in the 21st century as he did in the ’60s. As much as any survivor of that decade, Cohen has held onto his original audience and has seen it grow across generations, in keeping with a body of music that is truly timeless and ageless.

In 2006, his enduring influence seemed to be acknowledged in Lions Gate Films’ release of Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man, director Lian Lunson’s concert/portrait of Cohen and his work and career. A performance set, Live in London, was released in 2009.

In 2010, the combined video and audio package Songs from the Road was issued, documenting his 2008 world tour (which actually lasted until late 2010), revisiting songs from each part of his career. The tour covered 84 dates and sold over 700,000 tickets worldwide.

Old Ideas

Cohen didn’t rest long, however: in early 2011 he began to craft what would become Old Ideas, his first album of new material in seven years. The sessions took place with producers Ed Sanders (renowned poet and leader of the Fugs), Patrick Leonard, Cohen’s saxophonist Dino Soldo, and his partner, singer and songwriter Anjani Thomas. Old Ideas contained ten new songs dealing with spirituality, mortality, sexuality, loss, and acceptance, similar in sound and texture to Dear Heather. The tracks “Lullaby” and “Darkness” were staples of the world tour, while the cut “Show Me the Place” was pre-released in late 2011. Old Ideas was released at the end of January 2012. It became a tremendous success, debuting inside the Top Five in the U.S. and U.K., as well as reaching number one in Canada. Cohen’s success in Europe was more impressive; Old Ideas reached number one in almost ten countries.

Popular Problems

After yet another world tour that brought him universal accolades, Cohen, uncharacteristically, returned quickly to the studio with producer (and co-writer) Patrick Leonard, emerging with nine new songs, at least one of which — “Born in Chains” — had origins that dated back 40 years. Popular Problems was released in September of 2014 to positive reviews and chart success. (Just like its predecessor, it hit number one across Europe as well as Canada.) The album includes “A Street”, which he had previously recited in 2006, during promotion of his book of poetry Book of Longing, and later printed twice, as “A Street” in 2 March 2009 issue of The New Yorker magazine and appeared as “Party’s Over” in Everyman’s Library edition of Poems and Songs in 2011. Cohen continued to tour internationally with impressive vigor, and in December 2014 he released Live in Dublin, his third live album since returning to the road. The album had been recorded in September 2013, during a concert at Dublin’s O2 Arena, and a high-definition video release appeared in tandem with the audio edition. Yet another concert document, Can’t Forget: A Souvenir of the Grand Tour, appeared in May 2015, with the album drawn from live takes as well as pre-show rehearsals at soundchecks.

Cohen went right back to work on new material. On September 21 2016, his 82nd birthday, he released “You Want It Darker” — the eerie, mortality-drenched title track of a new studio album — to the internet. The full-length, produced by his son Adam Cohen, was issued on October 21, 2016. Two weeks later Leonard Cohen passed away.

This cherished poet of my youth and teenage years died on 7 November 2016 at the age of 82 at his home in Los Angeles. His death was not announced until 10 November, the day he was laid to rest in Montreal Canada. Cohen was survived by his two children Adam and Lorca and three grandchildren.

According to his manager, Cohen’s death was the result of a fall at his home on the night of November 7, and he subsequently died in his sleep.

His son Adam stated, “My father passed away peacefully at his home in Los Angeles with the knowledge that he had completed what he felt was one of his greatest records ‘You Want It Darker’. He was writing up until his last moments with his unique brand of humor.”

His paramour Marianne Ihlen, immortalized in “So Long Marianne” and Bird on a Wire” had died earlier in 2016 on July 28. In an email letter he wrote to her 2 days before her passing, he said prophetically: “Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine.” 

While the email was read to her Marianna in comatose state stretched her hand out. It appears that she reached for Leonard’s hand and they are now reunited in Hydra.

“I see no disenchantment in Leonard’s lyrics at all,” Bob Dylan told The New Yorker earlier this year. “There’s always a direct sentiment, as if he’s holding a conversation and telling you something, him doing all the talking, but the listener keeps listening.” Leonard Cohen spurned nicknames like ‘the high priest of pathos’, telling a BBC interviewer: “You get tired, over the years, hearing that you’re the champion of gloom.” During a career spanning more than 50 years, the Canadian poet and singer-songwriter created songs of love and loss, mortality and meditation, his Jewish faith and Buddhist practice infusing his lyrics with a spirituality that was often uplifting. Many of his works offer a way out of the darkness. In Anthem, he sings “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in”. And when describing the much-covered Hallelujah, Cohen said: “It seems to call down some kind of beneficial energy… in the face of the kind of catastrophes that are manifesting everywhere, to say ‘hallelujah’.”

Like for most of us, for me he dwelled in a higher strata inhabited by some living but mostly passed icons who seemed to have this direct line to the galaxy, whilst at the same time knowing exactly when to take out the trash. Formidable in both the sacred and the mundane… Farewell, Leonard, we need you now up there as much as we did down here.

Musician Rufus Wainwright


Dec 272016

October 23, 2016 – Peter Jozzeppi “Pete” Burns was born on August 5, 1959 in Port Sunlight, Cheshire, England. His mother was the daughter of a German Jew and had escaped Nazi Germany before the war. She met Burns’s father, Francis Burns, then a soldier, in Vienna, from where they returned together to Liverpool.

Burns described his upbringing as unconventional. His mother was an alcoholic, and attempted suicide several times when Burns was growing up.
As far as parental skills go in the conventional, normal world, she certainly wasn’t a mother, but she’s the best human being that I’ve ever had the privilege of being in the company of, and I know that she had a special plan for me,” he said. “She called me ‘Star Baby’ and she knew that there was something special in me.”

“I lived, I know now, a very solitary childhood. I had nothing to compare it with, so it seemed fine to me. I rarely left the house. I didn’t need to; I had a secret world I shared with my mother. In those early years, I couldn’t possibly have wished for a better friend. She gave me the power to dream, the power to remove myself from where I might not be having any fun, and go inside my head and be somewhere else.”

Burns spoke German until he was five, which resulted in local children spending days outside his door shouting “Heil Hitler”. According to Burns, school was “almost non-existent”, and his mother frequently kept him away so he could spend the day with her. He dropped out of school at the age of 14 after being summoned to the headmaster’s office because he had arrived at school with “no eyebrows, Harmony-red hair, and one gigantic earring”. At around this age he was raped by a man who took him for a drive; Burns later recalled that he wasn’t upset by this, though he knew that people would expect him to be. He stated that he already knew the man, who drove him to Raby Mere and threatened him with an air gun.

While building his career, Burns worked at a Liverpool record shop, Probe Records, which became a meeting place for local musicians. Burns was notorious for his maltreatment of customers, sometimes throwing their purchases at them because he disapproved of their selection. Burns first performed as a member of the short-lived Mystery Girls, who gave one performance only and comprised Burns, Pete Wylie and Julian Cope, who stated that Burns’s performing style drew on that of the transgender punk performer Wayne County. Burns was next in Nightmares in Wax, a proto-Goth group that formed in Liverpool in 1979; they released a 12″ single, “Black Leather”, and a 7″ single, “Birth of a Nation”, each containing the same three songs, but never produced an album. In 1980, after replacing several members, Burns changed their name to Dead or Alive.

Dead Or Alive’s first album, Sophisticated Boom Boom (1984), had paved the way for the group’s success by reaching the UK Top 30 and yielding a Top 40 single with a cover of KC & The Sunshine Band’s That’s the Way (I Like It). The following year they released Youthquake, which was produced by the upcoming hit-makers Stock, Aitken and Waterman and not only contained You Spin Me Round, which became a number one hit in the UK, and a top 20 hit in the US, but also gave them a No 9 album in the UK and reached 31 on the US Billboard chart.

His heyday as a pop star coincided with the rise of the “New Pop” epitomised by Boy George and Culture Club, Wham! and Frankie Goes to Hollywood. With his ambiguous sexuality, androgynous look and spectacular fashion choices, Burns, after several years of trying, found himself in the right place at the right time. “Everything goes round in circles and luckily we’ve got the current sound of the moment,” he commented in 1984, a remark pointing to his inherent scepticism about fame, fashion and pop music.

Despite further hits with Lover Come Back to Me, In Too Deep and Brand New Lover, the huge success of You Spin Me Round was not to be repeated. Dead Or Alive continued through the 80s, but by the end of the decade had been reduced to the core duo of Burns and the drummer Steve Coy. Their album Nude (1989) gave them a belated chart fling by delivering a No 1 hit on the US dance charts with Come Home With Me Baby, while Turn Around & Count 2 Ten reached No 1 in Japan.

During the 90s, Dead Or Alive released several albums in various territories outside the UK, with limited success. In 1994 Burns sang and co-wrote the single Sex Drive for the Italian techno act Glam, and that same year Burns and Coy recorded David Bowie’s Rebel Rebel, calling themselves International Chrysis. Fragile (2000) was Dead Or Alive’s final album of new material, though some tracks were remixes and cover versions. The new century brought the compilations Evolution: The Hits (2003) and That’s The Way I Like It: The Best of Dead Or Alive (2010).

Burns’s decision to embrace reality TV came after he had spent years protesting that he would never do it (“I still have a career, and I don’t really do reality,” he said in 2003), but his outsized personality and caustic manner made him a natural. The sight of him dancing with the politician George Galloway, both of them dressed in lycra leotards, on Celebrity Big Brother was unforgettable for any number of reasons. Burns triggered further controversy on Big Brother when he claimed to be wearing a coat made of illegal gorilla skin, though tests proved it was made from the skin of the colobus monkey, using pelts that pre-dated legislation outlawing their use.

In 2007 Burns appeared on Big Brother’s Big Mouth and Celebrity Wife Swap, where he swapped places with Leah Newman, partner of the footballer Neil “Razor” Ruddock. Also on the show was Burns’s husband, Michael Simpson, whom he married in 2006 after his divorce from the stylist Lynne Corlett whom he had married in 1978. The three remained on good terms. In the series Pete’s PA, on Living TV, contestants competed to become Burns’s assistant.

In 2015, Burns was evicted from his London flat after running up £34,000 in rent arrears. Last month, Burns appeared on Channel 5’s Celebrity Botched Up Bodies and talked frankly about his horrific experiences with cosmetic surgery, which had given him near-fatal blood clots and pulmonary embolisms as he underwent further procedures to try to correct mistakes.

In the end Pete Burns later became a living advertisement for the dangers of plastic surgery. Burns, who died of a heart attack aged 57, on October 23, 2016, claimed to have undergone 300 surgical procedures, many of them in an attempt to repair previous botched efforts.

Pete Burns defied categorization and challenged those who pitied or sneered. The chaos, flamboyance and craven attention-seeking were matched by genuine eccentricity and intelligence. And despite bouts of depression and years of agony and ill health as the result of a botched lip filler operation, he appeared to be entirely lacking in self-pity. As he explained after the publication of his 2006 autobiography, Freak Unique, “I’m not thinking ‘Why me?’ but ‘Why NOT me?’ ”

A statement released by his partner, Michael Simpson, his ex-wife, Lynne Corlett, and his manager and former band member, Steve Coy, read: “All of his family and friends are devastated by the loss of our special star. He was a true visionary, a beautiful talented soul and will be missed by all those who loved and appreciated everything he was and all of the wonderful memories he has left us with.”

A couple of years after divorcing his wife Lynne and marrying his partner Michael Simpson, they separated and Burns remarked: “I view marriage as a sacred institution. I think two men naturally are predators. Gay relationships are a commercial break, not a whole movie. The relationships I’m aware of, apart from one … it’s as though there’s some kind of emotional inadequacy or narcissism, where they feel emotionally inadequate and need more validation, from either a father figure or a mirror image of themselves. I’m not condemning it, I think it needs researching and help.”


Sep 252016

buckwheat-zydecoSeptember 24, 2016 – Stanley “Buckwheat Zydeco” Dural Jr. (Buckwheat Zydeco) was born in Lafayette, Louisiana on November 14, 1947. He acquired his nickname as a youth, because, with his braided hair, he looked like the character Buckwheat from Our Gang/The Little Rascals movies. His father, a farmer, was an accomplished amateur traditional Creole accordion player, but young Dural preferred listening to and playing rhythm and blues.

Dural became proficient at the organ, and by the late 1950s he was backing Joe Tex, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown and many others.

In 1971, he founded Buckwheat & the Hitchhikers, a funk band that he led for five years before switching to zydeco. They were a local sensation and found success with the single, “It’s Hard To Get,” recorded for a local Louisiana-based label.

He began backing Clifton Chenier, one of the most legendary zydeco performers. Though not a traditional zydeco fan when growing up, Buckwheat accepted an invitation in 1976 to join Clifton Chenier’s Red Hot Louisiana Band as organist. He quickly discovered the popularity of zydeco music, and marveled at the effect the music had on the audience. “Everywhere, people young and old just loved zydeco music,” Dural says. “I had so much fun playing that first night with Clifton. We played for four hours and I wasn’t ready to quit.”

Dural’s relationship with the legendary Chenier led him to take up the accordion in 1978. After practicing for a year, he felt ready to start his own band under the name Buckwheat Zydeco. They debuted with One for the Road in 1979 on the Blues Unlimited label and then recorded for New Orleans’ Black Top label. In 1983, they were nominated for a Grammy Award for Turning Point and in 1985 for Waitin’ For My Ya Ya after switching to the Rounder Records label. The band then signed to Island Records, becoming the first zydeco act on a major label, and released On a Night Like This, a critically acclaimed album that was nominated for a Grammy as well. The band appeared in the movie The Big Easy in 1987.

In 1988, Eric Clapton invited the band to open his North American tour as well as his 12-night stand at London’s Royal Albert Hall. As even more doors opened, Buckwheat found himself sharing stages and/or recording with Keith Richards, Robert Plant, Willie Nelson, Mavis Staples, David Hidalgo, Dwight Yoakam, Paul Simon, Ry Cooder, the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies and many others, including indie music stalwarts Yo La Tengo on the soundtrack to the Bob Dylan bio-pic, I’m Not There. His music has been featured in films including The Waterboy, The Big Easy, Fletch Lives and Hard Target. BET’s show Comic View, used his live version of “What You Gonna Do?” as theme music for the program’s 10th anniversary “Pardi Gras” season. He also wrote and performed the theme music for the PBS television series Pierre Franey’s Cooking In America. Buckwheat won an Emmy for his music in the CBS TV movie, Pistol Pete: The Life And Times Of Pete Maravich.

Buckwheat Zydeco has played many major music festivals, including the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (numerous times), Newport Folk Festival, Summerfest, San Diego Street Scene, Bumbershoot, Montreux Jazz Festival, the Voodoo Experience, and countless others.

The band performed at the closing ceremonies of the 1996 Summer Olympics to a worldwide audience of three billion people. Buckwheat performed for President Clinton twice, celebrating both of his inaugurations. The band appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman, CNN, The Today Show, MTV, NBC News, CBS Morning News, and National Public Radio’s Mountain Stage.

During the 1990s and early 2000s Buckwheat recorded for his own Tomorrow Recordings label and maintained an extensive touring schedule. Buckwheat Zydeco’s latest album, Lay Your Burden Down, was released on May 5, 2009 on the Alligator Records label. It was produced by Steve Berlin of Los Lobos and included guest appearances by guitarists Warren Haynes and Sonny Landreth, Trombone Shorty, JJ Grey and Berlin himself. The album was nominated for a Grammy Award. says, “The CD is a vastly entertaining and appealingly diverse package. Bandleader Dural remains an ever-engaging vocalist and a whiz on any keyboard he touches. So, for Buckwheat Zydeco fans, Lay Your Burden Down finds the maestro and his group near the top of their form. For listeners with less interest in the ol’ accordion get-down, the collection supplies enough interesting wrinkles to get the good times rolling.”

Buckwheat’s especially powerful and haunting version of the classic “Cryin’ in the Streets” appears on the benefit album for Hurricane Katrina recovery, Our New Orleans: A Benefit Album for the Gulf Coast.

Buckwheat’s version of Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe McCoy’s “When the Levee Breaks” appeared on 2011’s Alligator Records 40th Anniversary Collection. It originally appeared on the 2009 Buckwheat Zydeco album Lay Your Burden Down.

Buckwheat Zydeco died after a battle with lung cancer on September 24, 2016.

“Whether performing on the final episode of ‘Late Night With Jimmy Fallon,’ or on the Letterman show many times, or in the closing ceremonies of the Atlanta Olympics, or at President Clinton’s inaugurals, or with Eric Clapton, Paul Simon or Willie Nelson, Stanley Dural Jr.’s musical genius and genuine warm, welcoming personality carried the banner for zydeco and Southwest Louisiana’s Creole community.

He once said: ‘Life is a tour, and it’s all about how you decide to get where you’re going…I don’t want to ignore the bad things in life, but I want to emphasize the good things.’

Buck made everything and everyone he touched better and happier.

Since 1979, Buckwheat Zydeco has been one of the most celebrated bands to come out of Louisiana. The group has shared the stage and studio with Eric Clapton, U2, the Boston Pops Orchestra, B.B. King and other renowned names.

Dural and band performed in the closing ceremonies of the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, which reached a TV audience of 3 billion people. They played at both inaugurations for former President Bill Clinton and countless commercials and TV shows, such as “The Late Show with David Letterman” and the last episode of “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.”

Last November, Dural and band members were part of an all-star tribute to country music legend Willie Nelson, who received the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. The TV special aired on PBS stations across the country.

Buckwheat won the Best Zydeco or Cajun Music Album Grammy for the 2009 CD, “Lay Your Burden Down,” which featured Trombone Shorty, Sonny Landreth and other stars. The band received an Emmy for the music in the CBS TV movie from 2001, “Pistol Pete: The Life and Times of Pete Maravich.”


Sep 022016

matt-robertsAugust 20, 2016 – Matt Roberts (Three Doors Down) was born in rural Mississippi in 1978 – Roberts grew up with lead singer Brad Arnold (vocalist/drummer) and bassist Todd Harrell in Escatawpa, Mississippi, where they formed 3 Doors Down in 1994. He became a seasoned guitarist and back-up vocalist for the group,

The founding members of 3 Doors Down were raised in Escatawpa, a cozy town of 8,000 people. Although brought up in religious households, the musicians also felt the call of rock & roll at an early age, eventually forming a rock trio in 1994 to play a friend’s backyard party.

As the years progressed, so did the band’s sound, and the group soon added guitarist Chris Henderson and retained a studio drummer so that Arnold could come forward and sing live. After touring the Gulf Coast’s venues, the band made its way to New York, where a showcase at CBGB brought 3 Doors Down to the attention of Republic Records. A subsidiary of Universal, Republic Records signed the musicians and issued their major-label debut, The Better Life, in early 2000.

The Better Life became one of the biggest-selling albums of 2000, going platinum four times during its first year of release and spawning several singles. The band furthered its success with 2002’s Away from the Sun, which debuted at number eight on the Billboard Top 200 and, like its predecessor, climbed to multi-platinum status. 3 Doors Down toured steadily throughout 2003 and 2004 in support of Away from the Sun, and issued the live EP Another 700 Miles in November 2003 as a holdover between studio efforts. The group returned with a heavier album, Seventeen Days, in early 2005. It debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and went platinum in its first week of release. A self-titled album, which followed in May 2008, repeated its predecessor’s success when it too debuted at the top of the Billboard 200.

3 Doors Down toured throughout 2009, released a digital-only acoustic holiday album at the end of the year, and began to work on their next album in 2010. With Howard Benson serving as producer, the guys shuttled themselves between L.A. and Tokyo, recording the album in both cities and eventually emerging with 2011’s Time of My Life. The following year saw the release of the band’s first Greatest Hits collection, which featured three brand-new tracks.

In 2012 Roberts, who had been dealing with health and circulation problems – issues that were increasingly exacerbated by performing nearly 300 dates each year with the band, announced his departure from the band.

“3 Doors Down will always have a special place in my heart and it saddens me to take this time off,” said Roberts in his official statement. “But my health has to be my first priority.”

“Matt is our brother and he will always be a part of this band and he will always be welcomed back with open arms,” added lead singer and founding member Brad Arnold.


On August 20, 2016 Matt Roberts died of an apparent accidental overdose of pain medication while staying in a hotel room just outside Milwaukee Wisconsin where he was scheduled to perform for a charity event. Darrell says Matt had rehearsal until 1 AM Saturday and the two went back to their hotel with an adjoining room. He was 38 years old.

Nov 132016

scotty-mooreJune 28, 2016 – Winfield Scott “Scotty” Moore III, (Elvis Presley) was born on December 27, 1931 near Gadsden, Tennessee. He learned to play the guitar from family and friends at eight years of age. Although underage when he enlisted, Moore served in the United States Navy between 1948 and 1952. Moore’s early background was in jazz and country music. A fan of guitarist Chet Atkins, Moore led a group called the “Starlite Wranglers” before Sam Phillips at Sun Records put him together with then teenage Elvis Presley. The trio was completed with bass player Bill Black, who brought a “rhythmic propulsion” that much pleased Phillips.

In 1954 Moore and Black accompanied Elvis on what would become the first legendary Presley hit, the Sun Studios session cut of “That’s All Right”, a recording regarded as a seminal event in rock and roll history.
The session, held the evening of July 5, 1954, proved entirely unfruitful until late in the night. As they were about to give up and go home, Presley took his guitar and launched into a 1946 blues number, Arthur Crudup’s “That’s All Right”. Moore recalled, “All of a sudden, Elvis just started singing this song, jumping around and acting the fool, and then Bill picked up his bass, and he started acting the fool, too, and I started playing with them. Sam, I think, had the door to the control booth open … he stuck his head out and said, ‘What are you doing?’ And we said, ‘We don’t know.’ ‘Well, back up,’ he said, ‘try to find a place to start, and do it again.'” Phillips quickly began taping; this was the sound he had been looking for. During the next few days, the trio recorded a bluegrass number, Bill Monroe’s “Blue Moon of Kentucky”, again in a distinctive style and employing a jury-rigged echo effect that Sam Phillips dubbed “slapback”. A single was pressed with “That’s All Right” on the A side and “Blue Moon of Kentucky” on the reverse.
Phillips rhythm-centered vision led him to steer Moore away from the pretty finger-picking style of Chet Atkins, which he deemed fine for pop or country, but not for the simple, gutsy sound Phillips was aiming at. “Simplify” was the keyword.
For a time, Moore served as Elvis’s personal manager. They were later joined by drummer D.J. Fontana. Beginning in July 1954, the Blue Moon Boys toured and recorded throughout the American South and, as Presley’s popularity rose, they toured the United States and made appearances in various Presley television shows and motion pictures. The Blue Moon Boys, including Moore, appear in the few 1955 home movie clips that survive of Elvis before he achieved national recognition. Moore, Black, and Fontana also appear on the Dorsey Brothers, Milton Berle, Steve Allen, and Ed Sullivan live TV shows of January 1956 to January 1957. Moore and Fontana also reunited on the 1960 Timex TV special with Frank Sinatra welcoming Elvis’s return from the Army.[citation needed]

Moore played on many of Presley’s most famous recordings, including “That’s All Right”, “Good Rockin’ Tonight”, “Milk Cow Blues Boogie”, “Baby Let’s Play House”, “Heartbreak Hotel”, “Mystery Train”, “Blue Suede Shoes”, “Hound Dog”, “Too Much”, “Jailhouse Rock”, and “Hard Headed Woman”. He called his solo on “Hound Dog” “ancient psychedelia”.

During the filming and recording of Loving You in Hollywood in early 1957, Moore and Black drove the boredom away by jamming with Presley in between takes, but they usually saw little of Presley, who stayed only a couple of floors away from them. They grew hurt and resentful at the separation, which they came to perceive as willfully organized.

They did not accompany Presley on the soundtrack recordings for his first movie, Love Me Tender, because 20th Century Fox had refused him to use his own band, with the excuse that they could not play country. By December 1956 they were experiencing financial difficulties, because there had been few performances since August – when there were gigs, they received $200 a week, but only $100 when there were not. Moore and his wife were forced to move in with her three sisters and brother-in-law. In an interview with the Memphis Press-Scimitar that December, they spoke about this and about their lack of contact with Presley himself. The reason for the interview was their announcement that management had given them permission to record an instrumental album of their own, which RCA would release. Such permission was needed in order to appear as a group without Presley.

During Presley’s 1957 tour of Canada, concert promoter Oscar Davis offered to represent them as his manager. Moore and Black, who had seen Presley become a millionaire while still earning $200 a week themselves, were willing to work with Davis but backing vocalists the Jordanaires were not, because they did not trust him.

Tension came to a climax right after the September 1957 sessions for Presley’s first Christmas album. Moore and Black had been promised an opportunity to cut tracks after the session, on Presley’s studio time. Yet when the session was over, they were told to pack up. That same evening, the duo wrote a letter of resignation. They had only had one raise in two years, and with the lack of personal appearances had to live off $100 a week. They also felt the Colonel was working against them. They had been denied virtually all access to Presley, and felt as if “they were no longer even permitted to talk to him.” Colonel Parker did not interfere, but RCA executive Steve Sholes, who had little regard for the ability of Presley’s band, hoped the separation would be permanent.
Back in Memphis, a journalist found out and interviewed the duo. Presley responded with a press statement wishing them good luck, saying things could have been worked out if they had come to him instead of bringing it to the press. In an accompanying interview, Presley revealed that during the last two years people had tried to convince him to get rid of his band, so from his point of view he had stayed loyal to them.

Presley was scheduled to appear in Tupelo within the next two weeks and started to audition new musicians. He performed with Hank Garland on guitar and D.J. Fontana’s friend Chuck Wiginton on bass, but despite their musical ability it didn’t feel the same to him. The week after his Tupelo engagement he hired them back on a per diem basis. In the meantime, the duo had played “a miserable two-week engagement at the Dallas State Fair”. Moore declared there were no hard feelings, though Presley himself, according to biographer Guralnick, seems to have taken a more melancholic view. One day, Guralnick writes, Presley heard “Jailhouse Rock” on the radio “and declared, ‘Elvis Presley and his one-man band,’ with a rueful shake of his head.”

Moore and the Blue Moon Boys perform (and have additional small walk-on and speaking roles) with Elvis in four of his movies (Loving You, Jailhouse Rock, King Creole, and G.I. Blues) filmed in 1957, 1958, and 1960.

Early in 1958, when Elvis was drafted, Scotty began working at Fernwood Records and produced a hit record called “Tragedy” for Thomas Wayne Perkins, brother of Johnny Cash guitarist Luther Perkins.

In 1960, Moore commenced recording sessions with Elvis at RCA, and also served as production manager at Sam Phillips Recording Service, which involved supervising all aspects of studio operation. Moore played on such Presley songs as “Fame And Fortune”, “Such A Night”, “Frankfort Special”, “Surrender”, “I Feel So Bad”, “Rock-A-Hula Baby”, “Kiss Me Quick”, “Good Luck Charm”, “She’s Not You”, “(You’re The) Devil in Disguise”, and “Bossa Nova Baby”.

In 1964, Moore released a solo album on Epic Records called The Guitar That Changed the World, using his Gibson Super 400. For this effort he was fired by Sam Phillips. Moore reunited with Fontana and Presley for the NBC television special known as the ’68 Comeback Special, again with his Gibson Super 400 which was also played by Presley. This special was the last time these musicians would play with Presley, and for Moore it was the last time he ever saw him.

Moore is given credit as a pioneer rock ‘n’ roll lead guitarist, though he characteristically downplayed his own innovative role in the development of the style. “It had been there for quite a while”, recalled Moore. “Carl Perkins was doing basically the same sort of thing up around Jackson, and I know for a fact Jerry Lee Lewis had been playing that kind of music ever since he was ten years old.” Paul Friedlander describes the defining elements of rockabilly, which he similarly characterizes as “essentially … an Elvis Presley construction”: “the raw, emotive, and slurred vocal style and emphasis on rhythmic feeling [of] the blues with the string band and strummed rhythm guitar [of] country”. In “That’s All Right”, the Presley trio’s first record, Scotty Moore’s guitar solo, “a combination of Merle Travis–style country finger-picking, double-stop slides from acoustic boogie, and blues-based bent-note, single-string work, is a microcosm of this fusion.”

Many popular guitarists cite Moore as the performer that brought the lead guitarist to a dominant role in a rock ‘n’ roll band.Although some lead guitarists/vocalists, such as Chuck Berry and blues legend BB King, had gained popularity by the 1950s, Presley rarely played his own lead while performing, instead providing rhythm guitar and leaving the lead duties to Moore. As a guitarist, Moore was a noticeable presence in Presley’s performances, despite his introverted demeanor. He became an inspiration to many subsequent popular guitarists, including George Harrison, Jeff Beck, and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. While Moore was working on his memoir with co-author James L. Dickerson, Richards told Dickerson, “Everyone else wanted to be Elvis—I wanted to be Scotty.”Richards has stated many times (Rolling Stone magazine, Life autobiography) that he could never figure out how to play the “stop time” break and figure that Moore plays on “I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone”, and that he hopes it will remain a mystery.

As extensive as Moore’s résumé with Presley was and as well-known as his solos are, he actually contributed more to Presley’s career than is often realized. He was crucial to Presley’s early live shows and did much to help advance Elvis’ career in business capacities.For his pioneering contribution, Moore has been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. In 2000, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, while Rolling Stone Magazine placed him no. 29 on the list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of R&R.

He died on June 28, 2016 at the age of 84.

Jun 192016

Henry McCulloughJune 14, 2016 – Henry Campbell Liken McCullough (Wings) was born in Northern Ireland on 21 July 1943. He first came to prominence as a guitar player of talent in the early 1960s as the teenage lead guitarist with The Skyrockets showband from Enniskillen. In 1964, with three other members of The Skyrockets, he left and formed a new showband fronted by South African born vocalist Gene Chetty, which they named Gene and The Gents.

In 1967 McCullough moved to Belfast where he joined Chris Stewart (bass), Ernie Graham (vocals) and Dave Lutton (drums) to form the psychedelic band The People. Later that year the band moved to London and were signed by Chas Chandler’s management team, who changed the group’s name to Éire Apparent. Under Chandler’s guidance after a single release they toured with groups such as Pink Floyd, Soft Machine, The Move and The Jimi Hendrix Experience, as well as Eric Burdon and the Animals. Things went well until in Vancouver, Canada in mid February 1968, while the band was touring with The Animals, McCullough returned to The United Kingdom, officially because of ‘visa problems’ and Mick Cox flew out to take his place in the band. Back in Ireland McCullough joined what was primarily a folk group called Sweeney’s Men, by May 1968. Under his influence, they began to mix folk and rock, and are regarded as one of the early pioneers of Folk rock.

After a year in Ireland, McCullough returned to London to work with Joe Cocker as a member of his backing band, the Grease Band. With Cocker he toured the U.S. and performed at the Woodstock Festival. He played on The Grease Band’s eponymous album after leaving Cocker and during his time with the band he also appeared as lead guitarist on Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar (1970) and on the progressive Spooky Tooth album The Last Puff (1970).

McCullough’s career took off when he played with Joe Cocker and The Grease Band in the late ’60s as lead guitarist. He was featured with the group at Woodstock and was a guitarist on The Grease Band’s self-titled debut album.

Wings recruited McCullough in time to record the group’s second album, Red Rose Speedway. He quickly made an impression, as McCartney noted, on the No. 1 single “My Love” with the slick solo complemented by strings. McCullough recorded it while under some pressure.

“There’s Paul, George Martin etc. in the control room, a 50-piece orchestra waiting on me in the studio, (they were recording both the orchestra and guitar solo at the same time),” he recounted to the Examiner in 2012. “It was a one take wonder, a gift from God? I don’t know … somebody, something happened, everybody saw it, felt it. Ask Sir Paul and I think you would get a similar answer.”

McCullough headed up lead duties for another Wings standard, the James Bond theme “Live and Let Die.” He quit before the group recorded their 1973 record, Band on the Run.

In 1975 McCullough joined The Frankie Miller Band with bassist Chris Stewart, keyboard player Mick Weaver and drummer Stu Perry. They recorded the album, The Rock with Miller. The song “Ain’t Got No Money” taken from this album, inspired Bob Seger to write and record “The Fire Down Below”. Later the same year McCullough released Mind Your Own Business on George Harrison’s Dark Horse label.

Throughout his career, McCullough also worked on Webber’s Evita soundtrack, voiced one of the people heard at the end of Pink Floyd’s “Money,” and recorded his first solo album Mind Your Own Business on the record label former Beatle George Harrison had created. After he moved back to Ireland he played as session musician in many different musical experiences until a nearly fatal November 2012 heart attack that limited his ability. He died on June 14, 2016 at age 72.

“I was very sad to hear that Henry McCullough, our great Wings guitarist, passed away today,” Wings founder Paul McCartney said in a statement on his website. “He was a pleasure to work with, a super-talented musician with a lovely sense of humor. The solo he played on ‘My Love’ was a classic that he made up on the spot in front of a live orchestra. Our deepest sympathies from my family to his.”- Sir Paul McCartney.

Jun 182016

nick-menzaMay 21, 2016 – Nicholas “Nick” Menza was born on July 23, 1964 in Münich, Germany. As the son of jazz musician Don Menza, Nick began playing drums at the age of two, at which age he performed at his first public concert when during the intermission someone sat him down on Jack DeJohnette’s drums and he proceeded to play. His influences stem from being nurtured around the tutelage of such notables as Buddy Rich, Steve Gadd, Nick Ceroli, Jeff Porcaro and Louie Bellson.

Beginning his professional musical career at the age of 18 drumming in the band Rhoads featuring singer Kelle Rhoads, brother of the late Randy Rhoads, Nick released his first record with Rhoads called Into the Future in Europe.

Moving on to session playing including styles ranging from R&B to gospel, funk and heavy metal, recording with the likes of John Fogerty, Nick caught the attention of then Megadeth drummer Chuck Behler and became his tech. He had also been chosen to play in Slayer on South of Heaven, but original drummer Dave Lombardo came back and beat Menza in the audition. When Megadeth needed a drummer in 1989, Nick Menza was asked by Dave Mustaine to join the band. Mustaine noted that Menza previously filled in on drums when Behler was unable to. Menza first played live with Megadeth on May 12, 1988 in Bradford, England. This prior experience and personal relationship led to the invitation to join Megadeth for the 1990 recording Rust in Peace.

For the next ten years, Nick became associated with Megadeth’s “classic” period and also his Greg Voelker Rack System. This included a double-bass drum kit with the tom-toms mounted on a lower chrome rack and all cymbal crashes mounted on a higher rack, which was supported by two chrome bars behind the drummer. This was later adopted by Megadeth on 2004’s Blackmail the Universe tour, which featured a similar rack system.

During his stint in Megadeth, Nick also played drums on his bandmate Marty Friedman’s three solo albums Scenes (1992), Introduction (1994), and True Obsessions (1996).

By the summer of 1998, while the band was still touring in support of Cryptic Writings, Menza was having knee problems and sought medical advice. He was informed he had a tumor, which was later found to be benign, and had it removed. Rather than cancel any dates, Megadeth hired Jimmy DeGrasso as a temporary replacement. When the time came to record a follow-up album, Menza was not asked back and DeGrasso became the band’s official drummer. Menza has said in several interviews that, while in the hospital recovering from knee surgery, he received a phone call from Mustaine that simply said “Your services are not needed anymore“.

After his departure, he began work on Menza: Life After Deth with guitarist Anthony Gallo, bassist Jason Levin, and guitarist Ty Longley. The album was initially intended to have a 2002 release date and tour to follow, however, on the tour in 2003 with the reformed Great White, Longley was among the 100 people killed in The Station nightclub fire in Rhode Island and a year later Jason Levin died of heart failure, Menza and Gallo were devastated and the Life After Deth tour was never announced. Guest guitarist Christian Nesmith, son of The Monkees Michael Nesmith, did some leads and Menza hired producer Max Norman (Ozzy Osbourne, Megadeth).
Following the reissue of the entire Megadeth catalog, Menza was invited to reunite with Megadeth in 2004. Days after a reunion was announced Menza was fired after rehearsals and replaced with Shawn Drover. Dave Mustaine said that this was because Nick “just wasn’t prepared” for a full scale US tour, physically.

In April 2006, Menza joined the Los Angeles-based metal band Orphaned to Hatred. The group describe their sound as “a continuation of the heavy style of ’90s Pantera”. He left the band in late 2010.

Menza nearly suffered the loss of an arm in 2007, after having an accident with a power saw. He required reconstructive surgery and metal plates in his arm and a lengthy rehabilitation, but later recovered. Menza later auctioned off the blood-stained saw blade and an original copy of an X-ray from the incident.
In March 2011, Menza appeared in a music video for Mindstreem’s “We Up Next” a song originally written by current SIN 34 guitarist Anthony Gallo featuring Tony Lanza and Daniel Wayne Jr. on Vocals. The actual recording is Menza (drums), Gallo (guitars), Gregg Babuccio (bass), and Tony Lanza and Daniel Wayne jr. (vocals).
Also in March 2011, Menza’s band Deltanaut posted up a video for their song “Sacrifice”.

Menza died on May 21, 2016 after succumbing to heart failure while performing with his band, OHM, in Los Angeles. He was 51.

Apr 212016

PrinceApril 21, 2016 – Prince Rogers Nelson was born June 7, 1958 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, and actor, Prince became a superstar between 1978 and 1990 and beyond. He was renowned as an innovator, and was widely known for his eclectic work, flamboyant stage presence, and wide vocal range. He was widely regarded as the pioneer of Minneapolis sound. His music integrates a wide variety of styles, including funk, rock, R&B, soul, hip hop, disco, psychedelia, jazz, and pop.

Prince developed an interest in music at an early age, writing his first song at age seven. After recording songs with his cousin’s band 94 East, 19-year-old Prince recorded several unsuccessful demo tapes before releasing his debut album For You in 1978, under the guidance of manager Owen Husney. His 1979 album Prince went platinum due to the success of the singles “Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?” and “I Wanna Be Your Lover”. His next three records—Dirty Mind (1980), Controversy (1981), and 1999 (1982)—continued his success, showcasing Prince’s trademark of prominently sexual lyrics and incorporation of elements of funk, dance, and rock music. In 1984, he began referring to his backup band as The Revolution and released Purple Rain, which served as the soundtrack to his film debut of the same name. A prolific songwriter, Prince in the 1980s wrote songs for and produced work by many other acts, often under pseudonyms.

After releasing the albums Around the World in a Day (1985) and Parade (1986), The Revolution disbanded and Prince released the critically acclaimed double album Sign “O” the Times (1987) as a solo artist. He released three more solo albums before debuting The New Power Generation band in 1991. He changed his stage name in 1993 to an unpronounceable symbol Prince logo.svg, also known as the “Love Symbol”. He then began releasing new albums at a faster pace to remove himself from contractual obligations to Warner Bros.; he released five records between 1994 and 1996 before signing with Arista Records in 1998. In 2000, he began referring to himself as “Prince” again. He released 15 albums after that; his final album, HITnRUN Phase Two, was first released exclusively on the Tidal streaming service on December 11, 2015.

Prince has sold over 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling artists of all time. He won seven Grammy Awards,a Golden Globe Award, and an Academy Award. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, the first year of his eligibility. Rolling Stone ranked Prince at number 27 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

He died at his Paisley Park recording studio and home in Chanhassen, Minnesota, on April 21, 2016, after experiencing flu-like symptoms.

More to follow

As the monster guitar jammer

Mar 202016

Keith emersonMarch 10, 2016 – Keith Noel Emerson (Emerson,Lake,Palmer ELP) was born in Todmorden, Yorkshire on 2 November 1944. His family had been evacuated there from the south coast of England during the Second World War. He grew up in Goring-by-Sea, in the borough of the seaside resort of Worthing, West Sussex and attended West Tarring School. His parents were musically inclined and arranged for him to take piano lessons starting at the age of 8. His father, Noel, was an amateur pianist, and thought that Emerson would benefit most as a player from being versatile and being able to read music. However, he never received any formal musical training, and described his piano teachers as being “local little old ladies”. He learned western classical music, which largely inspired his own style, combining it with jazz and rock themes.

Although Emerson did not own a record player, he was inspired by the music he heard on the radio, particularly Floyd Cramer’s 1961 slip note-style “On the Rebound” and the work of Dudley Moore. He used jazz sheet music from Dave Brubeck and George Shearing and learned about jazz piano from books. He also listened to boogie-woogie, and to country-style pianists including Joe Henderson, Russ Conway and Winifred Atwell. Emerson later described himself: “I was a very serious child. I used to walk around with Beethoven sonatas under my arm. However, I was very good at avoiding being beaten up by the bullies. That was because I could also play Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard songs. So, they thought I was kind of cool and left me alone.”

Emerson became intrigued with the Hammond organ after hearing jazz organist Jack McDuff perform “Rock Candy”, and the Hammond became his instrument of choice in the late 1960s. Emerson acquired his first Hammond organ, an L-100 model, at the age of 15 or 16, on hire purchase. After he left school he worked at Lloyds Bank Registrars where he played piano in the bar at lunchtimes. Outside his working hours, he played with several different bands. The flamboyance for which he would later be noted began when a fight broke out during a performance in France by one of his early bands, the V.I.P.s. Instructed by the band to keep playing, he produced some explosion and machine gun sounds with the Hammond organ, which stopped the fight. The other band members told him to repeat the stunt at the next concert, which he did with success.

In 1967, Emerson formed the Nice with Lee Jackson, David O’List and Ian Hague, to back soul singer P. P. Arnold. After replacing Hague with Brian Davison, the group set out on its own, quickly developing a strong live following. The group’s sound was centred on Emerson’s Hammond organ showmanship and abuse of the instrument, and their radical rearrangements of classical music themes as “symphonic rock”.

To increase the visual interest of his show, Emerson would physically abuse his Hammond L-100 organ by, among other things, hitting it, beating it with a whip, pushing it over, riding it across the stage like a horse, playing with it lying on top of him, and wedging knives into the keyboard. Some of these actions also produced musical sound effects: hitting the organ caused it to make explosion-like sounds, turning it over made it feedback, and the knives held down keys, thus sustaining notes. Emerson’s show with the Nice has been cited as having a strong influence on heavy metal musicians.

Emerson became well known for his work with the Nice. In 1969 he participated in the Music from Free Creek “supersession” project, along with other notable musicians of the time including Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck. For the project, Emerson performed with drummer Mitch Mitchell and bassist Chuck Rainey covering, among other tunes, the Eddie Harris instrumental “Freedom Jazz Dance”.

During his time in the Nice, Emerson first heard a Moog when a record shop owner played Switched-On Bach for him. Emerson said, “My God that’s incredible, what is that played on?” The owner then showed him the album cover. So I said, “What is that?” And he said, “That’s the Moog synthesizer.” My first impression was that it looked a bit like electronic skiffle.” Without one of his own, Emerson borrowed Mike Vickers’ Moog for an upcoming the Nice concert at the Royal Festival Hall, London, with the Royal Philharmonic. Mike helped patch the Moog, and the concert was a success. Emerson’s performance of “Also sprach Zarathustra” from the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey was acclaimed. Emerson later explained, “I thought this was great. I’ve got to have one of these.”

In 1970, Emerson left the Nice and formed Emerson, Lake & Palmer (ELP) with bassist Greg Lake from King Crimson and drummer Carl Palmer from Atomic Rooster. Within a few months, the band played its first shows and recorded its first album, having quickly obtained a record deal with Atlantic Records. ELP became popular immediately after their 1970 Isle of Wight Festival performance, and continued to tour regularly throughout the 1970s. Not all were impressed, with BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel describing their Isle of Wight set as “[a] waste of talent and electricity.” Their set, with a half-million onlookers, involved “annihilating their instruments in a classical-rock blitz” and firing cannons from the stage. Recalling the gig in a 2002 interview, Emerson said: “We tried the cannons out on a field near Heathrow airport… They seemed harmless enough. Today we would have been arrested as terrorists.”

In addition to his technical skills at playing and composing, Emerson became known for his highly theatrical performances. He cited guitarist Jimi Hendrix and English organist Don Shinn as his chief theatrical influences. While in ELP, Emerson continued to some degree the physical abuse of his Hammond organ that he had developed with the Nice, including playing the organ upside down while having it lie over him and using knives to wedge down specific keys and sustain notes during solos. In addition to using his knives on the organ, he also engaged in knife throwing onstage, using a target fastened to his keyboard rig. He was given his trademark knife, an authentic Nazi dagger, by Lemmy, who was a roadie for the Nice in his earlier days.

Over time, Emerson toned down his act with the organ in response to ELP’s greater reliance on spectacular stage props. For example, during the Brain Salad Surgery tour, at the end of the show, a sequencer in Emerson’s Moog Modular synthesiser was set running at an increasing rate, with the synthesiser pivoting to face the audience while emitting smoke and deploying a large pair of silver bat wings from its back.

One of Emerson’s memorable live show stunts with ELP involved playing a piano while the piano, with Emerson sitting at it, was suspended 15 to 20 feet in mid-air and then rotated end-over-end. This was purely for visual effect, as according to Greg Lake, the piano was fake and had no works inside.[39] In a 2014 interview with Classic Rock Music journalist Ray Shasho, Emerson was asked about the origin of the ‘flying piano’ and about the difficulty of performing while spinning in the air. He explained:
“I think having a pilot’s licence helped a little bit. One of my road crew said we found this guy that used to work in the circus and he does a lot of things for TV and special effects and he’s made something that might interest you, it’s a piano that spins round, and I immediately responded, oh that sounds interesting. I happened to be within the New York area and I was driven over to Long Island to a guy called Bob McCarthy, and there in the background he had this piano situated. So he called his wife down from upstairs and said, darling could you demonstrate this for Keith? I looked on, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. His wife comes down and sits on the seat and up she goes in the air and proceeds to spin around. I thought, well that’s great! Then Bob asked me, do you want to have a go at it? … Yea, okay. You need to understand, below the keyboard there’s an inverted-tee, like a bar. You wrap your legs around the down pipe and put your heels under the inverted-tee. Then you go up in the air and try and do your best to play. It was a little difficult to play at first because of the centrifugal force, so it wasn’t easy. I think we actually used it for the first time at Madison Square Garden, it was a Christmas concert. People in the audience were so astounded they couldn’t quite believe what they were seeing. Later on that coming year the California Jam came up and I said we have to do that there.

Bob drove the whole contraption down to the California Jam and there was very little space to set it up. There were loads of bands up on that stage, all having to do their set and then getting their equipment off. Now, with the moog, the Hammonds, Carl’s gongs and everything, it was hard enough to just get that off stage. We had the spinning piano and everything that went along with it and we tried to find a place to situate it. It ended up going just at the end of the stage, so when the piano went up it was literally over the heads of the audience. After that every TV show I did came the question …Keith, how do you spin around on that piano? I’d say what about my music? When I had the honor of meeting the great jazz pianist Dave Brubeck just before he died, he said, Keith you’ve got to tell me how do you spin around on that piano? Dave Brubeck was 90 years old then and I said, ‘Dave, don’t try it!'”

The spinning piano was only part of ELP’s stage show for a short time due to the complexity of the stunt and a number of injuries sustained by Emerson while performing it, including many finger injuries and a broken nose. Emerson wanted to use the spinning piano again at ELP’s 2010 reunion concert at the High Voltage Festival in London, but was forbidden from doing so by local authorities who said that the plans did not meet health and safety standards.
After ELP disbanded in 1979, Emerson pursued a variety of projects during the 1980s and 1990s, including solo releases, soundtrack work and other bands. In the early 1990s, Emerson rejoined the reunited ELP, but the group broke up again by the end of that decade.

In 1981, Emerson released his debut solo album, Honky. Recorded in the Bahamas with local musicians, it departed from Emerson’s usual style in featuring calypso and reggae songs, and was generally not well received, except in Italy where it was a hit. Emerson’s subsequent solo releases were sporadic, including a Christmas album in 1988, and the album Changing States (also known as Cream of Emerson Soup) recorded in 1989 but not released until 1995, after several of its songs had already been re-recorded and released in different versions on ELP’s 1992 comeback album Black Moon. Changing States also contained an orchestral remake of the ELP song “Abaddon’s Bolero” with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and “The Church”, which Emerson composed for the 1989 Michele Soavi horror film of the same name.

In the 1980s, Emerson began to write and perform music for films, as his orchestral and classical style was more suited for film work than for the new wave-dominated pop/ rock market. Films for which Emerson contributed soundtrack music include Dario Argento’s Inferno (1980), the action thriller Nighthawks (1981) starring Sylvester Stallone, the Japanese anime Harmagedon (1983), Lucio Fulci’s Murder Rock (1984), and Michele Soavi’s The Church (also known as La chiesa) (1989). He was also the composer for the short-lived 1994 US animated television series Iron Man.

Starting in the mid-1980s, Emerson formed several short-lived supergroups. The first two, Emerson, Lake & Powell (with Lake and ex-Rainbow drummer Cozy Powell) and 3 (with Palmer and American multi-instrumentalist Robert Berry), were intended to carry on in the general style of ELP in the absence of one of the original members. Emerson, Lake & Powell had some success, and their sole album is considered one of the best of both Emerson’s and Lake’s careers. Progressive rock analyst Edward Macan wrote that Emerson, Lake & Powell were closer to the “classic ELP sound” than ELP’s own late-1970s output. By contrast, 3’s only album sold poorly and drew comparisons to “the worst moments of Love Beach” (which had been a commercial disaster for ELP.

Emerson also toured briefly in 1990 with The Best, a supergroup including John Entwistle of The Who, Joe Walsh of the Eagles, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter of Steely Dan and The Doobie Brothers, and Simon Phillips of Toto. This project focused on covering songs from each of the members’ past bands.

In the early 1990s, Emerson formed the short-lived group Aliens of Extraordinary Ability with Stuart Smith, Richie Onori, Marvin Sperling and Robbie Wyckoff. The group’s name came from the application process for a U.S. work visa, and the members included several British musicians who, like Emerson, had come to Los Angeles to further their careers. The group turned down a record deal with Samsung because of Emerson’s commitment to an ELP reunion and Smith’s involvement with a possible reformation of The Sweet.

In 1991, ELP reformed for two more albums (Black Moon (1992) and In the Hot Seat (1994)) and world tours in 1992-1993. After the 1993 tour, Emerson was forced to take a year off from playing due to a nerve condition affecting his right hand (see Health issues). Following his recovery, ELP resumed touring in 1996, including a successful U.S. tour with Jethro Tull, but broke up again in August 1998.

Emerson continued his solo and soundtrack work into the 2000s. His solo releases included the all-piano album Emerson Plays Emerson (2002),[22] several compilations, and contributions to Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin tribute albums (see Discography). He also wrote the soundtrack for the Japanese kaiju film Godzilla: Final Wars (2004).

In 2000, Emerson was a featured panelist and performer at “The Keyboard Meets Modern Technology”, an event honoring Dr Robert Moog presented by the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., in conjunction with a gallery exhibition celebrating the 300th anniversary of the piano. Emerson later headlined both the first and third Moogfest, a festival held in honour of Robert Moog, at the B. B. King Blues Club & Grill at Times Square in New York City, in 2004 and 2006 respectively.

In 2002 Emerson reformed and toured with the Nice, though performing a longer set of ELP music using a backing band including guitarist/vocalist Dave Kilminster. In 2004 he published his autobiography entitled Pictures of an Exhibitionist, which dealt with his entire career, particularly focusing on his early days with the Nice, and his nearly career-ending nerve-graft surgery in 1993.

In 2007, Emerson began working with Canadian independent filmmaker Jason Woodford to make a documentary film based on Emerson’s autobiography, Pictures of an Exhibitionist. As of March 2016, production was still ongoing and the filmmakers were seeking funding to finish the film, according to the webpage of an artists’ management company representing Emerson.

Emerson opened the Led Zeppelin reunion/Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Concert at the O2 Arena in London on 10 December 2007, along with Chris Squire and Alan White (Yes) and Simon Kirke (Bad Company/Free). The supergroup played a new arrangement of “Fanfare for the Common Man”.

Following the August 2008 release of the album Keith Emerson Band Featuring Marc Bonilla, Emerson toured with his own band in Russia, the Baltic States and Japan between August and October 2008. The tour band members were Marc Bonilla, Travis Davis and Tony Pia.

In 2009, Emerson made a guest appearance on Spinal Tap’s album Back from the Dead. He also played on several songs at Spinal Tap’s “One Night Only World Tour” at Wembley Arena on 30 June 2009.

On 14 March 2010, the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra made a premier performance of “Tarkus” arranged by a renowned Japanese composer Takashi Yoshimatsu. Yoshimatsu’s arrangement was featured in multiple live performances and two live recordings.
Emerson toured with Greg Lake in the United States and Canada during the spring of 2010, doing a series of “Intimate Evening” duo shows in which they performed newly arranged versions of the music of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, the Nice, and King Crimson as well as Emerson’s new original composition. On 25 July 2010, a one-off Emerson, Lake & Palmer reunion concert closed the High Voltage Festival as the main act in Victoria Park, East London, to commemorate the band’s 40th anniversary.

In September 2011, Emerson began working with the renowned conductor Terje Mikkelsen, along with the Keith Emerson Band featuring Marc Bonilla and the Munich Radio Orchestra on new orchestral renditions of ELP classics and their new compositions. The project “The Three Fates” was premiered in Norway in early September 2012, supervised by Norwegian professor and musician Bjørn Ole Rasch for the Norwegian Simax label. The work received its UK live premiere on 10 July 2015 at London’s Barbican Centre, with the BBC Concert Orchestra, as part of the celebration of the life and work of Dr Robert Moog.

Emerson made his conducting debut with Orchestra Kentucky of Bowling Green, Kentucky in September 2013. In October 2014, Emerson conducted the South Shore Symphony at his 70th birthday tribute concert at Molloy College in Rockville Centre, New York. The concert also featured a performance of Emerson’s “Piano Concerto No. 1” by Jeffrey Biegel.

Emerson died on 10 March 2016 in Santa Monica, California, where he had been living since the mid 1990s, of suicide by a gunshot wound to the head. The medical examiner’s report, following an autopsy, concluded that Emerson had also suffered from heart disease and from depression associated with alcohol. His body was found at his Santa Monica home. According to Emerson’s partner Mari Kawaguchi, Emerson had become “depressed, nervous and anxious” because nerve damage had hampered his playing, and he was worried that he would perform poorly at upcoming concerts and disappoint his fans.

Keith Emerson was the Jimi Hendrix of keyboards

Emerson had a unique playing style as he would sometimes reach into the interior of his piano and hit, pluck or strum the strings with his hand. He said that as a keyboard player, he hated the idea of being “static” and that to avoid it, he “wanted to get inside the piano, brush the strings, stick Ping-Pong balls inside.” Magnificent “Take a Pebble” included Emerson strumming the strings of his piano as if he were playing an autoharp. In the Nice’s 1968 live performance of “Hang on to a Dream” on the German television program Beat-Club (later released on DVD in 1997), Emerson can be seen and heard reaching inside his grand piano at one point and plucking its strings.

In addition to such experimentation, Emerson also incorporated unique musical stylization into his work. Emerson is recognized for having integrated different sounds into his writing, utilizing methods of both horizontal and vertical contrast. Horizontal contrast is the use of distinct styles in a piece of music, combined by alternating between two different segments (most frequently alternating classical and non-classical); this technique can be seen in numerous works, such as “Rondo,” “Tantalising Maggie,” “The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack” and others.
Vertical contrast is the combination of multiple styles simultaneously; Emerson would frequently play a given style in one hand, and a contrasting one in the other. This structure can be seen in works such as “Intermezzo from the Karelia Suite,” “Rondo,” and others.

Jan 272017

March 8, 2016 – George Martin (the Fifth Beatle) A trained musician, George Martin worked in the BBC’s classical department before moving to EMI and its subsidiary, Parlophone, producing jazz and classical as well as comedy records for Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Peter Ustinov. He was the genius producer behind a wave of hit British acts in the 1960s, including Gerry and the Pacemakers and Cilla Black, but it was his work with four other Liverpudlians that understandably overshadowed them all.

The Beatles auditioned for Martin on 6 June 1962, in studio three at the Abbey Road studios. Ron Richards and his engineer Norman Smith recorded four songs, which Martin (who was not present during the recording) listened to at the end of the session. The verdict was not promising, however, as Richards complained about Pete Best’s drumming, and Martin thought their original songs were simply not good enough. Martin asked the individual Beatles if there was anything they personally did not like, to which George Harrison replied, “Well, there’s your tie, for a start.” That was the turning point, according to Smith, as John Lennon and Paul McCartney joined in with jokes and comic wordplay, that made Martin think that he should sign them to a contract for their wit alone.

The Beatles’ second recording session with Martin was on 4 September 1962, when they recorded “How Do You Do It”, heavily modified by The Beatles which Martin thought was a sure-fire hit, even though Lennon and McCartney did not want to release it, not being one of their own compositions or style.[31] Martin was correct: Gerry & the Pacemakers’ version, which Martin produced, spent three weeks at No. 1 in April 1963, before being displaced by “From Me to You”. On 11 September 1962, the Beatles re-recorded “Love Me Do” with session player Andy White playing drums. Ringo Starr was asked to play tambourine and maracas, and although he complied, he was definitely “not pleased”. Due to an EMI library error, a 4 September version with Starr playing drums was issued on the British single release; afterwards, the tape was destroyed, and the 11 September recording with Andy White on drums was used for all subsequent releases. Martin would later praise Starr’s drumming, calling him “probably … the finest rock drummer in the world today”.[33] As “Love Me Do” peaked at number 17 in the British charts, on 26 November 1962 Martin recorded “Please Please Me”, which he did only after Lennon and McCartney had almost begged him to record another of their original songs. Martin’s crucial contribution to the song was to tell them to speed up what was initially a slow ballad. After the recording Martin looked over the mixing desk and said, “Gentlemen, you have just made your first number one record”. Martin directed Epstein to find a good publisher, as Ardmore & Beechwood had done nothing to promote “Love Me Do”, informing Epstein of three publishers who, in Martin’s opinion, would be fair and honest, which led them to Dick James.

Martin’s more formal musical expertise helped fill the gaps between the Beatles’ unrefined talent, and the sound which distinguished them from other groups, which would eventually make them successful. Most of the Beatles’ orchestral arrangements and instrumentation (as well as frequent keyboard parts on the early records) were written or performed by Martin, in collaboration with the less musically experienced band. It was Martin’s idea to score a string quartet accompaniment for “Yesterday”, against McCartney’s initial reluctance. Martin played the song in the style of Bach to show McCartney the voicings that were available. Another example is the song “Penny Lane”, which featured a piccolo trumpet solo that was requested by McCartney after hearing the instrument on a BBC broadcast. McCartney hummed the melody he wanted, and Martin notated it for David Mason, the classically trained trumpeter.

His work as an arranger was used for many Beatles recordings. For “Eleanor Rigby” he scored and conducted a strings-only accompaniment inspired by Bernard Herrmann. On a Canadian speaking tour in 2007, Martin said his “Eleanor Rigby” score was influenced by Herrmann’s score for the Alfred Hitchcock thriller, Psycho. For “Strawberry Fields Forever”, he and recording engineer Geoff Emerick turned two very different takes into a single master through careful use of vari-speed and editing. For “I Am the Walrus”, he provided a quirky and original arrangement for brass, violins, cellos, and the Mike Sammes Singers vocal ensemble. On “In My Life”, he played a speeded-up baroque piano solo. He worked with McCartney to implement the orchestral ‘climax’ in “A Day in the Life”, and he and McCartney shared conducting duties the day it was recorded.

Martin contributed integral parts to other songs, including the piano in “Lovely Rita”, the harpsichord in “Fixing a Hole”, the old steam organ and tape loop arrangement that create the Pablo Fanque circus atmosphere that Lennon requested on “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” (both Martin and Lennon played steam organ parts for this song), and the orchestration in “Good Night”. The first song that Martin did not arrange was “She’s Leaving Home”, as he had a prior engagement to produce a Cilla Black session, so McCartney contacted arranger Mike Leander to do it. Martin was reportedly hurt by this, but still produced the recording and conducted the orchestra himself. Martin was in demand as an independent arranger and producer by the time of The White Album, so the Beatles were left to produce various tracks by themselves.

Martin composed and arranged the score for the Beatles’ film Yellow Submarine and the James Bond film Live and Let Die, for which Paul McCartney wrote and sang the title song.[55] He helped arrange Paul and Linda McCartney’s American Number 1 single “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey”.

Paul McCartney once commended Martin by saying: “George Martin was quite experimental for who he was, a grown-up.”

Film and composing work
Beginning in the late 1950s, Martin began to supplement his producer income by publishing music and having his artists record it. He used the pseudonyms Lezlo Anales and John Chisholm, before settling on Graham Fisher as his primary pseudonym.

Martin composed, arranged, and produced film scores since the early 1960s, including the instrumental scores of the films A Hard Day’s Night (1964, for which he won an Academy Award Nomination), Ferry Cross the Mersey (1965), Yellow Submarine (1968), and Live and Let Die (1973). Other notable movie scores include Crooks Anonymous (1962), The Family Way (1966), Pulp (1972, starring Michael Caine and Mickey Rooney), the Peter Sellers film The Optimists of Nine Elms (1973), and the John Schlesinger directed Honky Tonk Freeway (1981).

Martin oversaw post-production on The Beatles Anthology (which was originally entitled The Long and Winding Road) in 1994 and 1995, working again with Geoff Emerick. Martin decided to use an old 8-track analogue deck – which EMI learned an engineer still had – to mix the songs for the project, instead of a modern digital deck. He explained this by saying that the old deck created a completely different sound, which a new deck could not accurately reproduce. He also said he found the whole project a strange experience (and McCartney agreed), as they had to listen to themselves chatting in the studio, 25–30 years previously.

Martin stepped down when it came to producing the two new singles reuniting McCartney, Harrison, and Starr, who wanted to overdub two old Lennon demos. Martin had suffered a hearing loss, so he left the work to writer/producer Jeff Lynne of the Electric Light Orchestra.
Martin’s contribution to the Beatles’ work received regular critical acclaim, and led to him being described as the “Fifth Beatle” (in 2016, Paul McCartney wrote that “If anyone earned the title of the fifth Beatle it was George”. However, he distanced himself from this claim, stating that assistant and roadie Neil Aspinall would be more deserving of that title.

In the immediate aftermath of the Beatles’ break-up, a time when he made many angry utterances, John Lennon trivialized Martin’s importance to the Beatles’ music. In his 1970 interview with Jann Wenner, Lennon said, “Dick James is another one of those people, who think they made us. They didn’t. I’d like to hear Dick James’ music and I’d like to hear George Martin’s music, please, just play me some.”

In a 1971 letter to Paul McCartney, Lennon wrote, “When people ask me questions about ‘What did George Martin really do for you?,’ I have only one answer, ‘What does he do now?’ I noticed you had no answer for that! It’s not a putdown, it’s the truth.” Lennon wrote that Martin took too much credit for the Beatles’ music. Commenting specifically on “Revolution 9”, Lennon said with ironic authority, “For Martin to state that he was ‘painting a sound picture’ is pure hallucination. Ask any of the other people involved. The final editing Yoko and I did alone.”

Lennon later retracted many of the comments he made in that era, attributing them to his anger. He subsequently spoke with great affection and fondness for Martin. In 1971 he said: “George Martin made us what we were in the studio. He helped us develop a language to talk to other musicians.”

Martin produced recordings for many other artists, including contemporaries of the Beatles, such as Matt Monro, Cilla Black, Gerry & The Pacemakers, Billy J. Kramer & the Dakotas, The Fourmost, David and Jonathan, and The Action, as well as The King’s Singers, the band America, guitarists Jeff Beck, John McLaughlin and John Williams, sixties duo Edwards Hand, Gary Brooker, Neil Sedaka, Ultravox, country singer Kenny Rogers, UFO, Cheap Trick, Elton John, Little River Band, Celine Dion and Yoshiki Hayashi of X Japan.

Martin  produced 13 albums and 22 singles for the group between 1962 to 1970. His influence on The Beatles’ output is undeniable: he added strings to songs, encouraged the band to experiment with electronic sounds and harnessed recording techniques from his comedy days to play with backwards vocals and instrumentation.

Martin was among a small group – Phil Spector and Quincy Jones included – who revolutionized what a record producer could do, and an evidently inspirational figure for later generations.

George Martin died on 8 March, 2016 at the age of 90.

Among the many tributes left on Twitter, producer Mark Ronson wrote: “We will never stop living in the world you helped create.” 

According to Alan Parsons, he had “great ears” and “rightfully earned the title of “Fifth Beatle”. Julian Lennon called Martin “The Fifth Beatle, without question”.

Jan 042017

February 15, 2016 – Vanity was born Denise Katrina Matthews on January 4, 1959 in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, the daughter of Helga Senyk and Levia James Matthews. Her mother was of Polish, German, and Jewish descent and was born in Germany, while her father was of African-American descent and was born in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Growing up in Niagara Falls, God wasn’t her priority. She was more concerned with hiding bruises from her classmates at Princess Margaret elementary school. Routinely beaten by an alcoholic father, Matthews rarely discussed her home life with friends. “She didn’t really like to,” recalls Debbie Rossi, one of Matthews’ best friends at Princess Margaret and later Stamford Collegiate. “And I wasn’t one to force. I just wanted to listen.”

Matthews didn’t confide because she thought every household was like this. Her father, James Levia Matthews, died in 1974 when she was 15 years old. Instead of feeling free, she watched her mother sink deeper into depression and alcoholism.

She felt more confused than ever, but had one huge advantage – she was one of the most gorgeous young women in Niagara Falls. A modeling career beckoned. While her sister, Patricia, became a star athlete at Stamford (she still holds nine school records), the younger Denise was turning heads. “Denise kind of blossomed and got really, really beautiful,” recalls Rossi. “She was fun-loving, and very aware of her beauty. “She had a little bit of trouble in Stamford with prejudice – guys wanted to go out with her, but they didn’t want anybody to know. It really hurt her, so she changed schools.”

After jumping to Westlane, where she graduated, Matthews got her first taste of success by winning the Miss Niagara Hospitality pageant. She was calm and poised accepting the crown. She seemed like a natural.

You just knew she had ambitions of making it big,” says Stamford classmate Vito DiMartino, now head of phys ed at A.N. Myer. “Denise always had good looks.” “Everyone seemed to like her,” adds friend Linda Clarkstone, now a librarian at Westlane. “She was always smiling, always happy. “She was beautiful, and even back then she could sing.” Within a year, Matthews left Niagara Falls for Toronto, and then California.

After she won the Miss Niagara Hospitality title in 1977, she went on to compete for Miss Canada in 1978. At age 17, she moved to New York City to further her career. She signed with Zoli Model Agency. However, because she was short in stature, her modeling career was limited to commercials and photo shoots and included no runway work. Vanity appeared in ads for Pearl Drops toothpaste, before completing a modeling stint in Japan.

In 1980, she had a small role in the horror movie Terror Train, which was filmed in Montreal a year earlier. She then went to Toronto to film the lead role in the B-movie Tanya’s Island. At the time of both film roles, she was billed as D.D. Winters.

In the early 1980s, Matthews was given two tickets to a Prince concert and she became enthralled with the funky Minneapolis singer, who wasn’t quite a superstar yet. Weeks later she met Prince backstage at the American Music Awards. That night Prince called her at 3 a.m. The couple dated for several months, and Prince, learning that she could sing, eventually invited her to Minneapolis to front a racy all-girl group he was forming.

“He wanted me to call myself Vagina. He said people would know me nationwide,” she discloses with a smile. “I said, ‘No kidding.’ ” They settled on Vanity (because he saw so much of himself in her), and Vanity 6, clad in scanty camisoles and singing tunes like Drive Me Wild and Nasty Girls, soon cracked the black Top 10.

Dressed in lingerie and garters, Vanity 6 stumbled with its first single – “He’s So Dull” – but the second, “Nasty Girl,” became a crude classic (and a strip club mainstay). With Vanity, Matthews had found the devillish flipside to her personality.

Prince was so taken with her, he chose her to appear with him on the cover of Rolling Stone in 1983 and offered her a major role as the female lead in his biographical musical Purple Rain. At 24, Matthews was starting to become the star everyone predicted. She was supposed to play the lead female role in “Purple Rain,” the semi-autobiographical Prince film that was a box-office hit in 1984, but abandoned the project before filming began. Back in Minneapolis Vanity had helped Prince script Purple Rain and had been slated to play the female lead, a role based in part on her own life story. But before the cameras rolled, Vanity left—off to California and a solo career. “I needed one person to love me, and he needed more,” she says of Prince and her departure. “I never thought, ‘Oh God, I’m in Prince’s shadow,’ ” she says firmly. “He’d been performing for years and he was my teacher. I miss his humor. I always felt we’d be like Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor over the years. I can honestly say I love the kid.

She then went on to release two albums as a solo artist on Motown, “Wild Animal” and “Skin on Skin.”

After her music career started, as Vanity she starred in a number of movies, including The Last Dragon, which featured her underground hit “7th Heaven.” In 1986 she starred in Never Too Young to Die opposite John Stamos (“She was pretty wild,” Stamos once said about his co-star. “She was like Al Pacino in Scarface, blasting these fucking prop machine guns all over the place. We weren’t even rolling!”). The film also featured Gene Simmons. She went on to appear in 52 Pick-Up and 1988’s Action Jackson, her highest profile role, in which she starred opposite Carl Weathers, Craig T. Nelson, and Sharon Stone. From the mid–1980s to the early–1990s, Vanity guest–starred on numerous TV shows. She played a villain who tortured Nancy Allen’s character in the 1990 TV movie Memories of Murder, guest-starred in an episode of Miami Vice’s third season, and in 1992 appeared in an episode of Highlander: The Series. She also appeared in Friday the 13th: The Series in the episode entitled “Mesmer’s Bauble”.

She thrived on raciness, often performing in lingerie. “My music is very sexual, so you could say I’m just putting all of me out there,” she told The Associated Press in 1985. She was on the cover of Playboy in 1988.Vanity then left the group (and Prince’s organization), and signed with Motown Records as a solo artist in 1984. She released two albums for Motown in the mid-1980s, and had mild success on the US pop and R&B charts with a handful of singles.

Besides Prince, Vanity was linked romantically to Adam Ant and Billy Idol. In 1987, she stated that she and Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx were engaged. She joked that she would become Vanity 6 (Sixx) again. They never married. In Sixx’s 2007 autobiography, The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star, he describes his 1987 drug use with Vanity who was addicted to crack cocaine at the time. Anecdote: At one point, the wasted couple is laying in bed when Sixx believes he hears voices and fires a .357 magnum through the door. It was only his radio.)

In 1994, Vanity overdosed on crack cocaine and suffered from near-fatal renal failure. She recalled that after being rushed to the hospital, doctors said she had three days to live while on life support. She said that Jesus appeared to her at this time and spoke to her, saying, if she promised to give up her Vanity persona, he would save her. Upon her recovery, she completely renounced her stage name and career and became a born-again Christian. In 1995, she said, “When I came to the Lord Jesus Christ, I threw out about 1,000 tapes of mine—interview, every tape, every video. Everything.”

In 1995, she married football player Anthony Smith of the Oakland Raiders, who later was sentenced to life in prison murder. She ignorantly had stated that she had chosen not to receive any further revenue from her work as Vanity, and cut off all ties with Hollywood and her former life in show business. Her marriage to Smith however lasted only one year.

After a kidney transplant in 1997, she decided to devote her life to Christ and became an Evangelist. “All I had become was thus painted on my face — vanity,” she later wrote on a personal website. According to her sister, the former Vanity eventually became an ordained minister and preached in churches around the country.

In 2010, she released her autobiography, Blame It On Vanity: Hollywood, Hell and Heaven.
Due to her kidney problems, which were caused by years of drug abuse, Matthews had to undergo peritoneal dialysis five times a day (each session was 20 minutes long).

She suffered from sclerosing encapsulating peritonitis, a rare complication of a peritoneal dialysis, and died in Fremont, California on February 15, 2016, from renal failure, aged 57.
Two months after her death, on April 21, 2016, Matthews’ ex-partner and music mentor Prince died in his Paisley Park residence, also aged 57.

Onstage in Melbourne, Australia, Prince offered a tribute of his own. “Her and I used to love each other deeply,” he told the crowd, according to Australian news media accounts. “She loved me for the artist I was; I loved her for the artist she was trying to be.”

By her own later admission, Vanity led a fast life, and it took its toll. In an interview with Jet magazine in 1993, she said she had been “extremely wild” in her younger days. “There was a lot of cocaine,” she said. “I tried men, women, everything. I didn’t snort cocaine, I smoked it. I had found my way into the playground of the pearly white stuff called cocaine,” says her bio Blame It On Vanity. “I’d inhaled so much rock that by the age of 35, you could light me up, smoke me and stick me in the nearest cold grave. Easily, the devil had won me and readied my tired body for hell.” 

Even though she resents the “lies” former lover Motley Crue guitarist Nikki Sixx tells in his book about their times in 1987, she admittedly contributed to it. “I was the glutton for punishment (with Nikki), and also the punisher punishing,” she writes. “It wasn’t easy being high all the time and relating to another human being. He could have related better to a pet rock.”


Jan 042017

Earth,wind and fire frontman Moe WhiteFebruary 4, 2016 – Maurice “Moe” White (Earth, Wind & Fire) was born December 19, 1941 in Memphis, Tennessee, the eldest of nine siblings.  He grew up in South Memphis, where he lived with his grandmother in the Foote Homes Projects and was a childhood friend of Booker T Jones, with whom he formed a “cookin’ little band” while attending Booker T. Washington High School. He made frequent trips to Chicago to visit his mother, Edna, and stepfather, Verdine Adams, who was a doctor and occasional saxophonist. In his teenage years, he moved to Chicago and studied at the Chicago Conservatory of Music, and played drums in local nightclubs.

By the mid-1960s he found work as a session drummer for Chess Records. While at Chess, he played on the records of artists such as Etta James, Ramsey Lewis, Sonny Stitt, Muddy Waters, the Impressions, the Dells, Betty Everett, Sugar Pie DeSanto and Buddy Guy. White also played the drums on Fontella Bass’s “Rescue Me” and Billy Stewart’s “Summertime”. In 1962, along with other studio musicians at Chess, he was a member of the Jazzmen, who later became the Pharaohs.  One song on which he played, Rescue Me by Fontella Bass (1965), was a worldwide hit. In 1966 he joined a trio led by the jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis and went on to play on nine of Lewis’s albums: the 1966 song Hold It Right There won a Grammy for best R&B group performance. While in the Trio he was introduced in a Chicago drum store to the African thumb piano or kalimba and on the Trio’s 1969 album Another Voyage’s track “Uhuru” was featured the first recording of White playing the kalimba. White brought the kalimba into mainstream use by incorporating its sound into the music of Earth, Wind & Fire. He was also responsible for expanding the group to include a full horn section – the Earth, Wind & Fire Horns, later known as the Phenix Horns.

In 1969, White left the Trio and joined his two friends, Wade Flemons and Don Whitehead, to form a songwriting team who wrote songs for commercials in the Chicago area. The three friends got a recording contract with Capitol Records and called themselves the Salty Peppers. They had a moderate hit in the Midwest area with their single “La La Time”, but their second single, “Uh Huh Yeah”, was not as successful. White then moved from Chicago to Los Angeles, and altered the name of the band to Earth, Wind & Fire, the band’s new name reflecting the elements in his astrological chart and thus he became the founder of Earth, Wind & Fire.

White got the concept of EWF from a drum and bugle corps band from his hometown. He formed the band after having touring stints with Santana, Weather Report, and Uriah Heep. One night after an EWF concert in Denver, Colorado, White briefly met singer Philip Bailey. It was an encounter that was to prove vital to Bailey’s future and to the history of American pop music. Bailey left college a year later and decided to pursue a musical career in Los Angeles. Once he arrived on the West Coast, he hooked up again with Earth, Wind & Fire. Maurice White had arrived in L.A. only the year before with visions of creating a truly universal music group, one that was spiritually charged and ambitious in scope, defying boundaries of color, culture, and categorization. Those ideas appealed to Bailey as well and he joined the group in 1972. Bailey’s shimmering falsetto blended perfectly with White’s charismatic tenor. White served as the band’s main songwriter and record producer, and was co-lead singer along with Philip Bailey. EWF combined high-caliber musicianship, a wide-ranging musical genre eclecticism, and ’70s multicultural spiritualism that included Biblical references.

It took until 1973 for Earth, Wind & Fire to find a mass audience: that year, the group’s fourth album, Head to the Sky, with its danceable, groove-heavy songs featuring horns and White’s kalimba, or African thumb piano, was the first of a series of huge-selling records.

Open Our Eyes (1974) and That’s the Way of the World (1975) consolidated this position, embedding the group’s recipe of soul, funk, R&B and disco in the American public’s affections. Boogie Wonderland, on which the band collaborated with the singing sister-act the Emotions, sold more than a million copies and was in the British singles charts for three months. Their 1978 cover of the Beatles’ Got to Get You Into My Life, injected with the band’s distinctive and inventive strident brass and guitar riffs, won a Grammy.

With Maurice as the bandleader and producer of most of the band’s albums, EWF earned legendary status winning seven Grammy Awards out of a staggering 20 nominations, a star on the Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame, and four American Music Awards. The group’s albums have sold over 90 million copies worldwide. Other honors bestowed upon Maurice as a member of the band included inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, individually in The Songwriters Hall of Fame and The NAACP Image Awards Hall of Fame.


Also known by his nickname “Reece”, he worked with several famous recording artists, including Deniece Williams, the Emotions, Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond.

In 1976, White, with Charles Stepney co-produced Deniece Williams‘ – a former backup vocalist for Stevie Wonder – debut album, This Is Niecy, which was released on Columbia Records. The album was the first project for the newly formed production company Kalimba Productions which was formed by Maurice White and Charles Stepney in the same year. This Is Niecy rose to number 3 on the R&B charts and contained the single Free which reached number 25 on the pop charts, number 5 on the R&B charts and number 1 on the UK singles charts. This is Niecy has been certified gold in the United States by the RIAA. With the death of Charles Stepney a few months after the release of This Is Niecy White solely produced Williams second album Song Bird, released in 1977. The single “Baby, Baby My Love’s All For You” reached number 13 and number 32 on the black and UK singles chart respectively. Williams later released four more albums on Columbia Records for Kalimba Productions which were 1978’s That’s What Friends Are For, 1979’s When Love Comes Calling, My Melody released in 1981 and 1982’s Niecy respectively. In a 2007 interview Deniece says: “I loved working with Maurice White … he taught me the business of music, and planning and executing a plan and executing a show.”

After Stax Records became embroiled in financial problems, the girl group the Emotions looked for a new contract and found one with Columbia Records which released their album Flowers in 1976. With Charles Stepney co-producing their album with White, Flowers was their first charting album since 1969. It rose to number 5 on the R&B and number 45 on the Pop charts, and has been certified gold in the US. The singles “Flowers” and “I Don’t Wanna Lose Your Love” from this album reached, respectively, number 16 and number 13 on the R&B charts (number 87 and number 51 on the Pop charts). Following Charles Stepney’s death, White took over producing the Emotions as well.

He played the drums on Minnie Riperton’s debut 1970 album, Come to My Garden, and contributed vocals to Weather Report’s 1978 album Mr. Gone. White also produced Ramsey Lewis’ albums: Sun Goddess (1974), Salongo (1976), and Sky Islands (1993), Jennifer Holliday on her 1983 release Feel My Soul, Barbra Streisand on her 1984 platinum album Emotion, Atlantic Starr on their platinum 1986 album All in the Name of Love and Neil Diamond on his 1986 gold album Headed for the Future. He also co-wrote the song “Only In Chicago” with Barry Manilow which was included on his 1980 platinum album Barry, the track “Tip of My Tongue” for the rock band the Tubes which appeared on their album Outside Inside, and contributed vocals to Cher’s 1987 self-titled platinum album.

White wrote songs for the movies Coming to America and Undercover Brother. He composed music for the television series Life Is Wild  and worked in 2006 with Gregory Hines’ brother, Maurice, on the Broadway play Hot Feet for which White and Allee Willis wrote several new songs.

White was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1987, which led him eventually to stop touring with Earth, Wind & Fire in 1994. He retained executive control of the band, and remained active in the music business, producing and recording with the band and other artists.

Messages of encouragement from celebrities including: Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, Boyz II Men, Smokey Robinson, Isaac Hayes, Michael Jackson, Eric Clapton and Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine were published for White.

From time to time, after his retirement, he appeared on stage with Earth, Wind & Fire at events such as the 2004 Grammy Awards Tribute to Funk, and alongside Alicia Keys at Clive Davis’ 2004 pre-Grammy awards party where they performed the band’s 1978 hit “September”.

White died in his sleep from the effects of Parkinson’s disease at his home in Los Angeles, California, on the morning of February 4, 2016, at the age of 74.

His brother Verdine posted the following on Facebook:
My brother, hero and best friend Maurice White passed away peacefully last night in his sleep. While the world has lost another great musician and legend, our family asks that our privacy is respected as we start what will be a very difficult and life-changing transition in our lives. Thank you for your prayers and well-wishes.
Yours Truly,
Verdine White

All in all the Chicago-born, LA based band had 46 charting R&B singles and 33 charting pop singles, including eight gold singles.At their peak, Earth, Wind & Fire bestrode the popular music scene like a troupe of magnificently attired angels of funk, upbeat and apparently perpetually partying. Their slick blend of panache and optimism owed much to the songwriting, producing and vocals of Maurice White.

Jan 012017

January 28, 2016 – Signe Toly Anderson-Jefferson Airplane – was born Signe Toly on September 15, 1941 in Seattle on September 15, 1941. She was raised in Portland, Oregon after her parents divorced

In 1965s she was living in San Francisco and gaining recognition as an accomplished jazz/folk singer, when the vocalist Marty Balin heard her sing at a popular folk club, the Drinking Gourd and asked her to join a folk-rock group he was forming.

The band, soon christened Jefferson Airplane, signed with RCA Victor Records and released its first album, “Jefferson Airplane Takes Off,” in 1966.
Soon after joining the Airplane, she married one of the Merry Pranksters, Jerry Anderson, a marriage that lasted from 1965 to 1974. She sang on the first Jefferson Airplane album, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, most notably on the song “Chauffeur Blues”. Just as Jefferson Airplane was ascending, Anderson gave birth to her first child. Realizing that life on the road with a newborn was unfeasible, Anderson opted to part ways with Jefferson Airplane in 1966. Anderson remained with the group while they searched for a replacement, eventually choosing the Great Society singer Grace Slick, who brought that band’s “Someone to Love” (retitled “Somebody to Love”) and her “White Rabbit” to Jefferson Airplane.Anderson distrusted the Airplane’s original manager, Matthew Katz, and refused to sign a contract with him until he inserted a special escape clause freeing her from him if she left the band for any reason.

In July 1966, Anderson informed Bill Graham that she was quitting the band after a series of shows they were playing in Chicago, realizing that bringing her newborn child, with then-husband Jerry Anderson, on the road was not feasible. Graham, however, asked her to stay with the band through the October shows at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco, to which she agreed. This gave the band time to search for her replacement, eventually choosing Grace Slick after Sherry Snow declined their offer. Allegedly there were other factors, such as the hostility of other band members towards her husband.

Anderson’s last live performances with the Jefferson Airplane were two sets on October 15, 1966 at The Fillmore. Both performances were recorded (as were most Fillmore shows) and have surfaced on some bootleg albums. In August 2010, Collector’s Choice music in cooperation with Sony finally released the second show on a legitimate CD issue. At what seemed to be the end of the second set, Marty Balin returned to announce that Anderson was leaving the group. Her goodbye to the fans, recorded for posterity, was as follows: “I want you all to wear smiles and daisies and box balloons. I love you all. Thank you and goodbye.” At several fans’ request, Anderson and the band performed her signature number, “Chauffeur Blues”.
They finished the night with “High Flying Bird,” and thus ended Anderson’s tenure with the Airplane. The band returned to play two more shows the following night with Grace Slick on board for the first time. This entire performance was officially released in 2010 as Jefferson Airplane: Live at The Fillmore Auditorium 10/15/66 Signe’s Farewell.

After leaving the Airplane she returned to Oregon where she sang for nine years with a ten-piece band, Carl Smith and the Natural Gas Company. In the mid 1970s she recovered from cancer. In 1977 she married local building contractor Michael Alois Ettlin, and continued to sing with Carl Smith. Anderson also worked in a department store.

Anderson credited the Airplane’s success with its members’ musical educations. “We all were very knowledgeable music-wise,” she told KGON radio in 2011. “We could all read music. We all knew the classics, we knew blues, we knew folk music — we had a lot of groundwork first.”

In the mid 1990s, Anderson suffered further serious health problems, including a broken neck and bypass surgery, which led to serious financial problems for her family. She made guest appearances with the KBC Band, Jefferson Starship and Airplane spinoff Hot Tuna. Anderson’s husband, Michael Alois Ettlin, died at the age of 62, on February 21, 2011.

Anderson died at her home in Beaverton, Oregon at the age of 74 on January 28, 2016, from the effects of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). She died on the same day as Airplane co-founder Paul Kantner and both were 74.

Airplane lead guitarist Jorma Kaukonen wrote on his blog: “Signe was one of the strongest people I have ever met. “She was our den mother in the early days of the Airplane… a voice of reason on more occasions than one… an important member of our dysfunctional little family. I always looked forward to seeing her when we played the Aladdin in Portland. She never complained and was always a joy. Flights of angels sing thee to thy rest sister. You will always live in my heart…”

Airplane bassist Jack Casady wrote on Facebook that he’d been in touch with Anderson the week prior to her death, when she moved from her home to a hospice. “She was a real sweetheart with a terrific contralto voice coming from a solid folk background,” he recalled. “Listen to how she made the three part harmonies of ‘JA Takes Off’ (first album) sound so thick. Her wonderful tone between Paul’s and Marty’s.” Casady added “A sad day… for those of us still here.”

Anderson had stayed in touch with Paul Kantner, Marty Balin and other former bandmates and performed with them on occasion. 
Mr. Balin, writing on Facebook, imagined that she and Mr. Kantner “woke up in heaven and said: “Hey what are you doing here? Let’s start a band.”


Mar 202016

Paul Kantner during Paul Kantner in Concert at Wetlands - 1992 at Wetlands in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Steve Eichner/WireImage)

January 28, 2016 – Paul Kantner (Jefferson Airplane founding guitarist) was born on March 17, 1941, in San Francisco, California. Kantner had a half-brother and a half-sister by his father’s first marriage, both much older than he. His father was of German descent, and his mother was of French and German ancestry. His mother died when he was eight years old, and Kantner remembered that he was not allowed to attend her funeral. His father sent him to the circus instead. After his mother’s death, his father, who was a traveling salesman, sent young Kantner to Catholic military boarding school. At age eight or nine, in the school’s library, he read his first science fiction book, finding an escape by immersing himself in science fiction and music from then on. As a teenager he went into total revolt against all forms of authority, and he decided to become a protest folk singer in the manner of his musical hero, Pete Seeger. He attended Saint Mary’s College High School, Santa Clara University and San Jose State College, completing a total of three years of college before he dropped out to enter the music scene.

During the summer of 1965, singer Marty Balin saw Kantner perform at the Drinking Gourd, a San Francisco folk club, and invited him to co-found a new band, Jefferson Airplane. When the group needed a lead guitarist, Kantner recommended Jorma Kaukonen, whom he knew from his San Jose days. As rhythm guitarist and one of the band’s singers, Kantner was the only musician to appear on all albums recorded by Jefferson Airplane as well as Jefferson Starship. Kantner’s songwriting often featured whimsical or political lyrics with a science-fiction or fantasy theme, usually set to music that had a hard rock, almost martial sound. Kantner wrote many of the Airplane’s early songs, including the chart hits “The Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil”, “Watch Her Ride”, “Crown of Creation”, and the controversial “We Can Be Together”; and, with Balin, co-wrote “Today” and “Volunteers”. He also wrote, with David Crosby and Stephen Stills, the song “Wooden Ships”, (one of my absolutely favorite songs ever!) though for contractual reasons he was not credited initially.

With Jefferson Airplane, Kantner was among the performers at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1966 and the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and the Woodstock Festival in 1969. Recalling Woodstock 40 years later, Kantner stated: “We were due to be on stage at 10pm on the Saturday night but we didn’t actually get on until 7.30am the following day.” Later in 1969, the group also played at Altamont, where Marty Balin was knocked unconscious during their set by a Hells Angels member originally hired as security for the concert. Kantner appears in the documentary film about the Altamont concert, Gimme Shelter, in a tense on-stage confrontation with a Hell’s Angel regarding the altercation.

Despite its commercial success, the Airplane was plagued by intra-group fighting, causing the band to begin splintering at the height of its success. Part of the problem was manager Bill Graham, who wanted the group to do more touring and more recording. During the transitional period of the early 1970s, as the Airplane started to come apart, Kantner recorded Blows Against The Empire, a concept album featuring an ad hoc group of musicians whom he dubbed Jefferson Starship.

This earliest edition of Jefferson Starship included members of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (David Crosby and Graham Nash), members of the Grateful Dead, (Jerry Garcia, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart), as well as some of the other members of Jefferson Airplane (Grace Slick, Joey Covington and Jack Casady).

In Blows Against the Empire, Kantner and Slick sang about a group of people escaping Earth in a hijacked starship. The album was nominated in 1971 for the Hugo Award, the premiere award voted by science fiction fandom. A sequel, The Empire Blows Back, was released in 1983 and included most of the same musicians, performing this time under the name The Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra.

Kantner had been in love with Grace Slick for some time, but she was involved in a relationship with the band’s drummer, Spencer Dryden. After their two-year affair ended, he finally had a chance with Grace. In 1969, Kantner and Grace Slick began living together publicly as a couple. Rolling Stone magazine called them “the psychedelic John and Yoko.” Slick became pregnant, and a song about their child’s impending birth, “A Child Is Coming,” appeared on Blows Against the Empire. Kantner and Slick’s daughter China Wing Kantner was born in 1971.

Kantner and Slick released two follow-up albums. Sunfighter was an environmentalism-tinged album released in 1971 to celebrate China’s birth. China appears on the album cover, and the track list includes “China,” a song written and sung by Slick about her new baby. Kantner and Slick made news again in 1972, when they were accused of assaulting a policeman after their Akron, Ohio concert. 1973’s Baron von Tollbooth and the Chrome Nun was named after the nicknames David Crosby had given to the couple. Through a songwriter friend Kantner discovered teen-aged guitarist Craig Chaquico during this time, who first appeared on Sunfighter and went on to play with all of the incarnations of the Starship name through 1991. Slick left Kantner in the 1970s to marry Skip Johnson, a Jefferson Starship roadie. Despite the split, Slick remained with the band through 1978.

After Kaukonen and Casady left the Airplane in 1973 to devote their full attention to Hot Tuna, the musicians on Baron von Tollbooth formed the core of a new Airplane lineup that was formally reborn as “Jefferson Starship” for a tour in 1974. Kantner, Slick, and David Freiberg were charter members along with late-Airplane holdovers – drummer John Barbata and fiddler Papa John Creach – plus Chaquico and Pete Sears, who played bass and keyboards. Marty Balin also joined Jefferson Starship while their first album, Dragonfly, was still in the works, co-writing with Kantner the album’s biggest hit “Caroline.”

After the 1978 release of the album Earth – to which Kantner contributed just one song – Jefferson Starship saw major personnel changes. Slick took a leave of absence, and Balin quit the group to pursue a solo career. No attempt was made to replace Slick, but Balin was replaced by Mickey Thomas, who had previously achieved success as a member of the Elvin Bishop Group. Freedom at Point Zero, an album dominated by Kantner compositions, was released to commercial success. Grace Slick returned for the follow-up album, Modern Times, which also featured Kantner’s science fiction themes.

In October 1980, Kantner was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in serious condition from a cerebral hemorrhage. Kantner had been working in Los Angeles on an album when he became ill. He was 39 years old at the time and beat considerable odds with a full recovery without surgery.

A year later, Kantner talked about the experience, saying, “If there was a Big Guy up there willing to talk to me, I was willing to listen. But nothing happened. It was all just like a small vacation.” It was his second brush with serious illness or injury, having suffered a serious motorcycle accident in the early 1960s: “I hit a tree at 40 miles an hour head first and nearly shattered my skull. I had a plate in there for a while.” The injury from the motorcycle accident was credited with saving Kantner from serious complications from the cerebral hemorrhage; the hole left by the accident relieved the accompanying cranial pressure.

In 1984, Kantner (the last founding member of Jefferson Airplane remaining) left Jefferson Starship, complaining that the band had become too commercial and strayed too far from its counterculture roots. Kantner made his decision to leave in the middle of a tour. Upon quitting Kantner took legal action against his former bandmates over the Jefferson name (the rest of the band wanted to continue as Jefferson Starship). Kantner won his suit, and the group name was reduced to simply “Starship.” Under the terms of the settlement, no group can call itself Jefferson Starship without Paul Kantner as a member, and no group can call itself Jefferson Airplane unless Grace Slick is on board. The legal battle had personal repercussions as well, permanently damaging Kantner’s friendships with Mickey Thomas and Craig Chaquiço.

In 1985, following his departure from Jefferson Starship, Paul Kantner rejoined with Balin and Jack Casady to form the KBC Band, releasing their only album, KBC Band (which included Kantner’s hit, “America”), in 1987 on Arista Records. There was a video made for “America” as well as a national KBC tour. In 1986, Kantner headed for court with Slick and her then husband, Skip Johnson, over the taping of some telephone conversations.

With Kantner reunited with Balin and Casady, the KBC Band opened the door to a full-blown Jefferson Airplane reunion. In 1988, during a San Francisco Hot Tuna gig where Kantner was performing, they found themselves joined by Grace Slick. This led to a formal reunion of the original Jefferson Airplane (featuring nearly all the main members, including founder Marty Balin, but without Spencer Dryden, who left in 1970). A self-titled album was released by Columbia Records. The accompanying tour was a success, but their revival was short-lived, although the band never formally disbanded.

According to Grace Slick, the reunion began as a joke: “We hadn’t even talked for a year, and we were battling legally – in fact, there are still some standing lawsuits between me and Paul, something to do with the Airplane. Anyway, the idea was that I’d just sneak in, stand at the side of the stage and come out and sing ‘White Rabbit’ and see what Paul did. Paul never got the joke, but he liked it, the audience liked it, and that’s how it started.”

Kantner and his Jefferson Airplane bandmates were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. The performance at the induction ceremony was the first time original members Marty Balin, Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady, Spencer Dryden and Kantner had played together since 1970. Grace Slick had to miss the ceremonies because of a serious leg infection, but sent a message which was delivered by Kantner, “Grace sends her love.”

In 1991 Kantner and Balin reformed Jefferson Starship and Kantner continued to tour and record with the band through 2013. Jefferson Starship was primarily a Paul Kantner solo band, with various former Airplane and Starship members dropping in for tours or specific shows. With their latest female vocalist Cathy Richardson and Kantner’s son Alexander Kantner on bass, Jefferson Starship released their first studio album in a decade, titled Jefferson’s Tree of Liberty in September 2008. The album was a return to Kantner’s musical roots featuring covers of 1950s and 1960s protest songs.

In late 2010 Kantner started to compile collections of “sonic art” performed by him and various artists, including a mix of cover songs, sound effects, and spoken word, releasing multiple volumes under the title “Paul Kantner Windowpane Collective”.

On March 25, 2015, it was reported that Kantner had suffered a heart-attack.“Paul’s health took a bad turn this week,” the members of Jefferson Starship said via a Facebook post. “He’s in the hospital, stable and undergoing tests to find out exactly what’s going on, but doctors suspect he had a heart attack. He is in the best possible care and we are sending him all of our best wishes, good thoughts and healing vibes.”

The band also stated that they’re “continuing the tour without him, as most of the shows are sold out or close to it and we have to honor our contracts and our fans who bought tickets and put on the best show possible,” the band said in its official statement. “We will dedicate every show to Paul until he is well enough to rejoin us onstage.” Kantner returned to the group later on in the year, in time to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Jefferson Airplane with special shows that also featured Grateful Dead tribute group Jazz is Dead.

Kantner died in San Francisco at the age of 74 on January 28, 2016 from multiple organ failure and septic shock after he suffered a heart attack days earlier. Shortly after Kantner’s passing, Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart reflected, “He was kind of the backbone of that band. It was always about Grace and Jack and Jorma (Kaukonen), I don’t think he got the credit he deserved.”  Coincidentally he died on the same day as Jefferson Airplane co-founder Signe Toly Anderson, who left the band to be replaced by Grace Slick.

Jan 192016

glenn FreyJanuary 18, 2016 – Glenn Frey was born on Nov. 6, 1948 in Detroit and was raised in nearby Royal Oak. He grew up on both the Motown sounds and harder-edged rock of his hometown. He played in a succession of local bands in the city and first connected with Bob Seger when Frey’s band, the Mushrooms, convinced Seger to write a song for them. Frey can also be heard singing extremely loud backing vocals (particularly on the first chorus) on Seger’s first hit and Frey’s first recorded appearance, 1968’s “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man.”

But it wasn’t long before warmer climes called and Frey followed then-girlfriend Joan Silwin to Los Angeles. Her sister Alexandra was a member of Honey Ltd., a girl group associated with Nancy Sinatra producer Lee Hazelwood, and she introduced Frey to her friend John David Souther.
It was a portentous introduction. Before long the two were living as roommates in East L.A. with another aspiring songwriter named Jackson Browne. All three quickly became deeply involved in the burgeoning L.A. country-rock scene centered around the Troubadour nightclub that started with the Byrds, proliferated with Gram Parsons and the Flying Burrito Brothers and would, in softer form, dominate American airwaves for the bulk of the 1970s. But first. Frey and Souther would pay their dues as an unsuccessful duo, Longbranch Pennywhistle. The pair released a self-titled album on the short-lived indie Amos Records in 1969, but soon split up.
In 1971, fellow future country-rock superstar Linda Ronstadt was seeking a backing band and, on the advice of Souther, her boyfriend, hired Frey along with his friend, drummer Don Henley. On the night of their first show with Ronstadt, the ambitious and driven pair decided to form their own band and later recruited ex-Poco bassist Randy Meisner and former Burritos guitarist Bernie Leadon. The Eagles became one of the first artists signed to David Geffen’s then-new label, Asylum. The group was an instant success, riding on the back of its first single, “Take It Easy” — a song written almost entirely by Jackson Browne, with some lyrics added by Frey.

Via a long string of mid ’70s hits like “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” “Desperado,” “Tequila Sunrise,” “Best of My Love” (No. 1 March 1975) “Witchy Woman” the funkier “One of These Nights” (No. 1 August 1975) and the harder-edged “Already Gone” (many written by bandmembers in collaboration with Souther), the Eagles became the standard-bearers — and Asylum Records became the epicenter — of the California soft-rock explosion. (Barney Hoskyns’ 2006 book Hotel California is an excellent history of that scene and the Eagles’ role in it.) Guitarist Don Felder filled out the band’s sound in 1974, and after Leadon left the following year, guitarist Joe Walsh joined – beefing up the band’s sound and lofting them to even greater heights with the 1976 “Hotel California” album, which spawned No. 1 singles with the title track and Frey’s “New Kid in Town,” possibly his defining song. Along with Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors, those albums defined the denim, drugs and decadence of the jet-setting late ’70s California rock scene.

But drugs, egos and success soon took their toll, and it was some three years before the Eagles released a follow-up album with The Long Run. Spurred by the Hot 100 No. 1 single “Heartache Tonight,” the album was a commercial success — and helped bring the music industry out of a post-disco sales tailspin — but the band succumbed to infighting and split in 1980.

Frey embarked on a successful solo career, enjoying a series of ’80s hits, the biggest of which were tied to soundtracks like Beverly Hills Cop (“The Heat Is On”) and Miami Vice (“You Belong to the City”). He was even a regular character on the latter show, portraying a guitar-playing smuggler named Jimmy Cole.

But the Eagles’ solo hits began to dry up in the 1990s, and before long a reunion tour was masterminded by Irving Azoff, the group’s longtime manager. The tour’s title mocked the acrimony with which the group split up: “Hell Freezes Over.” The group continued to tour periodically — and lucratively — over the past two decades, releasing just scattered new material and focusing on solo works. In 2012, Frey released his first solo album since the 1990s, a collection of pop standards called After Hours.

While the Eagles were reviled as much as they were revered during their heyday — a situation hilariously rendered in a scene in The Big Lebowski, when the title character is physically ejected from a taxi for asking the driver to turn off the radio when “Peaceful Easy Feeling” comes on — there’s no questioning the enduring quality of their hits or the freshness of their sound, particularly the keening harmonies of Henley, Frey and Meisner. But more lasting may be its success: For years the group’s 1976 collection Their Greatest Hits 1971-75 regularly swapped places with Michael Jackson’s Thriller as the top-selling album of all time — and has been certified a whopping 29 times platinum by the RIAA. Hotel California is certified 16 times platinum.

Frey and Henley were the Eagles’ leaders and only two constant members, and it’s difficult to imagine the group continuing without him.

Discussing the superb 2013 History of the Eagles, Part 1 documentary with Billboard, Frey said: “You couldn’t have asked for a better script for a bunch of guys in their 20s trying to make it into the music business. We were young, we made mistakes, we still make mistakes. It’s the story of an American band, but it’s also the story of the songs we wrote and what those songs did to people. We’re here because everybody likes the songs.”

Glenn Frey, a founding member and guitarist of the Eagles, one of the most popular and commercially successful artists of all time died January 18, 2016 in New York City after a courageous battle with Rheumatoid Arthritis, Acute Ulcerative Colitis and Pneumonia. ”

He had been battling intestinal issues that caused the band to postpone its Kennedy Center Honors in October 2015. A statement from the band said then the recurring problem would require “major surgery and a lengthy recovery period.”

Eagles drummer/songwriter and vocalist Don Henley issued the following statement:

“He was like a brother to me; we were family, and like most families, there was some dysfunction. But, the bond we forged 45 years ago was never broken, even during the 14 years that the Eagles were dissolved. We were two young men who made the pilgrimage to Los Angeles with the same dream: to make our mark in the music industry — and with perseverance, a deep love of music, our alliance with other great musicians and our manager, Irving Azoff, we built something that has lasted longer than anyone could have dreamed. But, Glenn was the one who started it all. He was the spark plug, the man with the plan. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of popular music and a work ethic that wouldn’t quit. He was funny, bullheaded, mercurial, generous, deeply talented and driven. He loved is wife and kids more than anything. We are all in a state of shock, disbelief and profound sorrow. We brought our two-year ‘History of the Eagles Tour’ to a triumphant close at the end of July and now he is gone. I’m not sure I believe in fate, but I know that crossing paths with Glenn Lewis Frey in 1970 changed my life forever, and it eventually had an impact on the lives of millions of other people all over the planet. It will be very strange going forward in a world without him in it. But, I will be grateful, every day, that he was in my life. Rest in peace, my brother. You did what you set out to do, and then some.”

As a member of the Eagles, Frey won six Grammy Awards, and five American Music Awards. The Eagles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, the first year they were nominated. Consolidating his solo recordings and those with the Eagles, Frey released 24 Top 40 singles on the Billboard Hot 100.

Jan 112016

db-transformation-colour2016 – David Bowie was born David Robert Jones on January 8, 1947 in South London, England.

Bowie developed an early interest in music although his attempts to succeed as a pop star during much of the 1960s were frustrated. Bowie’s first hit song, “Space Oddity”, reached the top five of the UK Singles Chart after its release in July 1969. After a three-year period of experimentation, he re-emerged in 1972 during the glam rock era with the flamboyant, androgynous alter ego Ziggy Stardust, spearheaded by the hit single “Starman” and the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Bowie’s impact at that time, as described by biographer David Buckley, “challenged the core belief of the rock music of its day” and “created perhaps the biggest cult in popular culture”. The relatively short-lived Ziggy persona proved to be one facet of a career marked by reinvention, musical innovation and visual presentation.

In 1975, Bowie achieved his first major American crossover success with the number-one single “Fame” and the hit album Young Americans, which the singer characterised as “plastic soul”. The sound constituted a radical shift in style that David Bowieinitially alienated many of his UK devotees. He then confounded the expectations of both his record label and his American audiences by recording the electronic-inflected album Low, the first of three collaborations with Brian Eno. Low (1977), “Heroes” (1977), and Lodger (1979)—the so-called “Berlin Trilogy” albums—all reached the UK top five and received lasting critical praise.

After uneven commercial success in the late 1970s, Bowie had UK number ones with the 1980 single “Ashes to Ashes”, its parent album Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps), and “Under Pressure”, a 1981 collaboration with Queen. He then reached a new commercial peak in 1983 with Let’s Dance, which yielded several hit singles.

Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Bowie continued to experiment with musical styles, including blue-eyed soul, industrial, adult contemporary, and jungle. He stopped touring after his 2003–04 Reality Tour, and last performed live at a charity event in 2006. Bowie released the studio album Blackstar on 8 January 2016, his 69th birthday, just two days before his death from liver cancer.

Bowie also had a successful, but sporadic film career. His acting roles include the eponymous character in The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976) Jareth, the Goblin King in Labyrinth (1986), Pontius Pilate in Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), and Nikola Tesla in The Prestige (2006), among other film and television appearances and cameos.

David Buckley said of Bowie: “His influence has been unique in popular culture—he has permeated and altered more lives than any comparable figure.” In the BBC’s 2002 poll of the 100 Greatest Britons, Bowie was placed at number 29. Throughout his career, he has sold an estimated 140 million records worldwide. In the UK, he has been awarded nine Platinum album certifications, eleven Gold and eight Silver, and in the US, five Platinum and seven Gold certifications. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.

In 1992 Bowie married international super model Iman and in the decade that followed the once flamboyant Ziggy Stardust learned that privacy and focus on art beats marketing anytime. Bowie had always been protective of his private life, but often toyed with his fans in search of surprise and shock. He claimed to be gay in 1972 just to get attention for his Space Oddity. Later he turned that statement into bi-sexual, but inside the circle, everyone knew it was just a marketing ploy.

His life of putting art before celebrity is a masterclass for today’s musicians who search for their their best camera angle or hashtag before seeking out their unique contribution.

Before Bowie disappeared from public view, he made the rounds in 2002-03 promoting his album Heathen. His various interviews – and a few choice moves in the years since — provide the syllabus for the class. Here are four key takeaways from Bowie’s transformation:

You Don’t Need to Show Up for Everything

Bowie’s take on the hypocrisy of awards and the hunger for attention are perfectly summed up in this 2002 Late Night interview with Conan O’Brien. “I only want [the ones] that you really mean.”

Keep Your Private Life Private

Over the years, Bowie famously professed bisexuality and played the eligible bachelor (he also had an unsuccessful tumultuous first marriage). In 1992, however, he married supermodel Iman, and together they have become the prototypical married couple. Aside from Paul and Linda McCartney, there isn’t another rock couple that keeps their balance and priorities more in check. Iman shared their secret in this 2012 interview.

Remember the Element of Surprise

Bowie released his first album in 10 years, The Next Day, in March 2013 without advance warning or publicity. It’s the move of a confident artist who not only knows the work speaks for itself, but also has no need to speak about anything else. Beyoncé imitated the move later that same year.


Above all else, David Bowie’s public life has been a lesson in the importance of placing one’s own creative journey above all else. Look at any of his videos; listen to any of recordings. You’ll see and hear a man who is first and foremost chasing his own muse and searching for his own truths. The commercial consequences of that search are the byproduct, not the motivation.

Sadly the Master passed away on January 11, 2016 from cancer at age 69. A true legend moved to that big gig in the sky.


Dec 282015

lemmy kilmister2015 – “Lemmy” Ian Fraser Kilmister was born on Christmas Eve, 24 December 1945 in the Burslem area of Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire. When Lemmy was three months old, his father, an ex-Royal Air Force chaplain, separated from his mother. His mother and grandmother moved to Newcastle-under-Lyme, then to Madeley. When Lemmy was 10, his mother married former footballer George Willis, who already had two older children from a previous marriage, Patricia and Tony, with whom Lemmy did not get along.

The family moved to a farm in Benllech on Anglesey, with Lemmy later commenting on his time there, that “funnily enough, being the only English kid among 700 Welsh ones didn’t make for the happiest time, but it was interesting from an anthropological point of view.” He attended Sir Thomas Jones’ School in Amlwich, where he was nicknamed Lemmy. It was later suggested by some that the name originated from the phrase “lemmy [lend me] a quid till Friday” because of his alleged habit of borrowing money from people to play slot machines, although Lemmy himself claimed that he didn’t know the origin of the name. He soon started to show an interest in rock and roll music, girls and horses.

By the time he left school his family had moved to Conwy, still in northern Wales. There he worked at menial jobs including one in the local Hotpoint electric appliance factory, while also playing guitar for local bands, such as the Sundowners, and spending time at a horse-riding school.

Lemmy saw the Beatles perform at the Cavern Club when he was 16, and then learned to play along on guitar to their first album Please Please Me. He also admired the sarcastic attitude of the group, particularly that of John Lennon.

At the age of 17 he met a holidaying girl called Cathy. He followed her to Stockport, where she eventually had his son Sean, who was put up for adoption. In the 2010 documentary film Lemmy, Lemmy mentions having a son whose mother has only recently “found him” and “hadn’t got the heart to tell him who his father was”, indicating the boy – perhaps Sean – was given up for adoption.

He spread his wings with a band called The Rockin’ Vickers, who released three singles and rocked the Manchester music scene while dressed in clerical gear. Lemmy moved to London in search of fame and fortune, where he had a stint as a roadie with Jimi Hendrix and the Nice and briefly played in progressive rock band Opal Butterfly.

In 1972 he was recruited as bassist for the space-rock band Hawkwind, despite having played only rhythm guitar before. He sang lead on their hit “Silver Machine“. “It sounded like Captain Kirk reading Blowing in the Wind,” Lemmy later recalled. “They tried everybody singing it except me. Then, as a last shot they said, ‘Try Lemmy.’ And I did it in one take or two.”

Lemmy’s tenure with Hawkwind ended abruptly when he was busted for drug possession on a tour of Canada in 1975.
He later claimed that his dismissal was due to ‘pharmaceutical differences’, his preference for amphetamines being in stark contrast to the rest of Hawkwind’s love of more hallucinogenic substances. After his departure from Hawkwind he founded Motörhead as lead singer, bassist, songwriter and frontman. Despite the falling-out, Lemmy had fond memories of his time with the band. “In Hawkwind I became a good bass player,” he told Classic Rock magazine in 2012. “It was where I learned I was good at something.”

Lemmy decided to form his own band, “so that no-one can fire me again“, and adopted the name Bastard, until it was gently pointed out that he would be unlikely to get a gig on Top of the Pops. Instead he changed it to Motorhead, US slang for someone who takes speed and also the title of the last song he had penned for Hawkwind.

From early on he was clear about exactly which musical direction the band would take.
Very basic music – loud, fast, city, raucous, arrogant, paranoid, speed-freak rock n roll. It will be so loud that if we move in next door to you, your lawn will die”.

The beginnings of the band were not auspicious. Lemmy claimed they were so badly off they had to steal equipment and they practiced in a disused furniture warehouse. They recorded some tracks for the United Artists label but the company thought they were so bad they refused to release them.

In the first of what would be a series of personnel changes, Lemmy fired drummer Lucas Fox and replaced him with Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor. He later replaced guitarist Larry Wallis with “Fast” Eddie Clarke, completing what many fans consider to be the definitive Motorhead line up.

By 1977 the band were so disillusioned they agreed to split and put on a farewell show at The Marquee in London.
It became a turning point when a record producer at the gig offered them enough studio time to record a single.
Instead the band laid down 13 tracks that formed their first album, entitled Motorhead, which reached No 43 in the UK charts. It’s probably the only rock album with the word “parallelogram” in the lyrics.
Lemmy’s guttural vocals appealed to the fans and the punk influences in their blistering music tapped into the fast-changing music scene in the UK. Indeed Motorhead collaborated with punk outfit The Damned on a few occasions.

It marked the start of the band’s most successful period, which peaked with the release of their fourth album, Ace of Spades, in 1980. The thunderous title track became the band’s definitive anthem and appearances on Top of the Pops helped it stay in the UK charts for 12 weeks. During the following three decades the band released no fewer than 17 further albums.

Lemmy stuck with the music formula of fast, driving rock that he’d adopted at the band’s inception.
Despite a horde of imitators he also rejected any notion that Motorhead were a metal band, insisting that what they played was pure rock and roll.

Lemmy never made any secret of his drug and alcohol intake, which, while prodigious over the years, never seemed to sap his appetite for recording and playing. In 2005 he was invited to address the Welsh assembly on the perils of drug-taking, and took the opportunity to call for the legalization of heroin to remove the drug dealer from society.

In the same year Motorhead picked up a Grammy for their cover of Metallica’s Whiplash.
“It’s about bloody time,” was Lemmy’s response. “Nobody deserves it more, although I’m too modest to say it.”

Aside from his musical skills, Lemmy was well known for his hard living lifestyle and regular consumption of alcohol and amphetamines. Lemmy was also noted for his collection of Nazi memorabilia and use of Nazi symbolism, although he stated that he did not support Nazi ideals.
One of the band’s last performances was a storming set at Glastonbury.

On a 1988 tour of Finland, Lemmy was asked by one journalist why he had kept going for so long.
“We’re still here,” he replied, “because we should have died a long time ago but we didn’t.”

Lemmy died from cancer on December 28, 2015 at the age of 70.

May 172017

December 27, 2015 – Stevie Wright (The Easybeats) was born Stephen Carlton Wright on December 20, 1947 in Leeds, England. When he was 9, his family moved to Melbourne, Australia and four years later to Sydney where they lived in Villawood near the Villawood Migrant Hostel. He was lead vocalist for local band, The Outlaws, and by 1964 had formed Chris Langdon & the Langdells, which initially played The Shadows-styled surf music, but converted to beat music under the influence of The Beatles.

After a Langdells performance, Wright met the Dutch-born Johan van den Berg (later Harry Vanda), who was staying at Villawood Migrant Hostel, and his landsman Dingeman van der Sluys (later Dick Diamonde)., this introduction was arranged by their first manager a man named Alan Kissick. The pair convinced Wright to form a band with Vandenberg’s friend and fellow hostel resident Scottish-born George Young. Together with another Englishman, Gordon “Snowy” Fleet, they formed the Easybeats in mid-1964. The initial line-up of the Easybeats was Diamonde on bass guitar, Fleet on drums, Vanda on guitar, Wright on vocals and Young on guitar.

During his time with the Easybeats, Wright was popularly and affectionately known as “Little Stevie”. Early hits for the Easybeats were co-written by Wright with bandmate Young, including, “She’s So Fine” (No. 3, 1965), “Wedding Ring” (No. 7, 1965), “Women (Make You Feel Alright)” (No. 4, 1966), “Come and See Her” (No. 3, 1966), “I’ll Make You Happy” (track on Easyfever EP, No. 1, 1966), and “Sorry” (No. 1, 1966).

He was lead vocalist on their international monster hit “Friday on My Mind”, which peaked at No. 1 in Australia in 1966 and it in to the top Ten in UK, Germany, the Netherlands, France and Italy and the US in 1967. In 2001, the song was voted the Best Australian Song of All Time by the Australasian Performing Rights Association. Wright was renowned for his energetic stage performance, which included acrobatic back-flips and mod dance moves.

“Stevie would hurl himself off stage he would catapult, he would somersault, it was an extraordinary thing to witness, he gave everything.”

They recorded several more hits including Sorry, She’s So Fine, Wedding Ring, and Good Times, which was covered in the late 1990s by INXS and Jimmy Barnes.
The Easybeats broke up in 1969 with Vanda & Young becoming freelance musicians, songwriters and producers and Wright became a top solo artist.

He formed the band Rachette and produced Bootleg’s debut single, “Whole World Should Slow Down.” He performed with Rachette at the Odyssey Music Festival in 1971, before briefly joining Likefun in Perth. He returned to Sydney to perform in the Australian production of Jesus Christ Superstar and stayed with the production from 1971-1973. During 1972 he also performed with Black Tank and appeared on the Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack, released in 1973.

He then began work on his solo debut album Hard Road with Easybeats’ songwriters Harry Vanda and George Young, who had returned from the UK and were now staff producers and songwriters at Albert Productions. For his Live work he formed Stevie Wright & the Allstars.

In April 1974 his debut solo LP, Hard Road, was released which featured the single “Evie (Parts 1, 2 & 3)” The song was written and produced by Vanda & Young and it became a hit—the only 11-minute song to chart at No. 1 anywhere in the world. and is now regarded as an Australian rock classic. Part 1 is subtitled, “Let Your Hair Hang Down”, and part 3 is “I’m Losing You”. Wright performed three concerts at the Sydney Opera House with backing by Vanda, Young and AC/DC’s Malcolm Young (George Young’s brother).

Long before MEATLOAF sang his Triple-Song Rock Anthem, PARADISE BY THE DASHBOARD LIGHTS …..
Many years ahead of VANGELIS and his Multi-Themed, Storytelling narrative, FRIENDS OF MR. CAIRO …..
Australian Rocker STEVIE WRIGHT sped through our heads with his 1975 ….. 11 Minute,Triple-Songed, torch, love rock ballad EVIE. With it Stevie Wright became one of Australia’s biggest rock stars of the 70s and delivering one of the greatest rock songs of all-time, the epic ‘Evie’.

Wright fell on hard times after the follow-up ‘Black Eyed Bruiser’ album of 1975 failed to chart.

The All Stars left to back John Paul Young in 1975 so Wright formed the Stevie Wright Band but, by this time, Wright’s drug addiction had begun to curtail his career. By 1976 Wright was addicted to heroin, which he had reportedly begun using during his time in the cast of Jesus Christ Superstar.

He was hospitalised and undertook methadone treatment. His mental health suffered further after his self-admission to the notorious Chelmsford Private Hospital in Sydney. A psychiatrist, Harry Bailey, administered a highly controversial treatment known as deep sleep therapy which was alleged to treat drug addiction by a combination of drug-induced coma and electroconvulsive therapy. Many patients, including Wright, suffered brain damage and lifelong after-effects. The scandal was later exposed and Bailey committed suicide.

He performed a few gigs with Sacha in 1976 and performed “Evie” alongside performances by the cream of Australian pop and rock at the Concert of the Decade in November 1979, captured on the double album Concert of the Decade (1980).

In 1982, Wright returned to the studio with his former Easybeats buddies Vanda & Young to record vocals for their project Flash & The Pan and the ‘Headlines’ album for the songs ‘Where Were You’ and ‘Waiting For A Train’. That same year there was talk of an Easybeats’ reunion. Wright told Juke Magazine in 1983 “we had our lawyers working out the deal” because there was a venue interested in having them “but at the last minute they tried to change the venue and we just said ‘forget it’.

His career, however, soon derailed again when Wright appeared in court charged with housebreaking in January 1984 while undergoing drug rehabilitation. Wright was arrested for heroin use in the same month after being found unconscious in a hotel toilet. The Easybeats reformed for a successful six-week national tour in October 1986. Wright formed the band Hard Rain in 1988 and released the album Striking It Rich in 1991. With his health declining, Wright gave his final performance with Hard Rain at Sydney’s Coogee Bay Hotel on April 4, 1992.

Wright went on to battle drug and alcohol addiction for another decade before settling on the Australia’s south coast.

In 2012 he appeared on the ABC’s Australian Story program, when he spoke about the devastation caused by his long-term drug addictions. He said if he had his time again, he “wouldn’t pick up any hard drugs”.
“It does destroy. Because it’s all inside anyway, all, all the things in the mind and the power that you think the drugs are going to add to, and they don’t at all, they take everything away,” he said.
“Never touch hard drugs. You blow your marriage, blow your jobs, blow your friends. You can’t do that you know. It just doesn’t work.”

In 2005 Wright was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame for his success with The Easybeats.
Wright’s last performance was at the Legends of Rock Festival at Byron Bay in 2009.

Wright contracted pneumonia on the second day of Christmas (Boxing Day) and perished a day later on December 27, 2015 at the age of 68.

• “Stevie will be sadly missed by all who knew him and countless more who did not know him but loved his music,” Mr Albert said in a statement. (Albert Productions)
“We have lost one of Australia’s greatest front men who has left an indelible mark on our musical landscape. He could take any audience and absolutely slay them with his energy.”

• Fellow Australian singer Normie Rowe remembered Wright as “an amazing performer”.
“The Easybeats were one of the most remarkable pop bands of their time, and I think probably recorded the definitive pop song of the era in Friday On My Mind,” he said.

• 1960s singer-songwriter and Young Talent Time host Johnny Young said Wright was “one of the greatest rock n’ roll stars” ever produced in Australia.
“Stevie was a wonderful musician, a great songwriter,” he said.
“He lived a pretty rugged life at the end of it.
“Everybody knew he had some serious addictions that he had huge problems with, but I like to remember Stevie as he was when he was younger.”

• Aside from tracks for the Easybeats, Wright and George Young also wrote “Step Back” for Johnny Young which peaked at No. 1.


Very unusual for 1967, when everything on TV was lip-synch, this video covers a live performance of the song Friday on my Mind in a German TV program called “BeatClub”.

Dec 042015

weiland-624-1362072672Scott Weiland was born Scott Richard Kline on October 27, 1967 in San José, California. At age 5 he became Weiland when his stepfather adopted him. Moving between Ohio and SoCal in the first 15 years of his life he emerged from the San Diego area as Mighty Joe Young. Weiland’s band landed a contract with Atlantic Records, changed its name to Stone Temple Pilots and cashed in on the burgeoning grunge scene. They took the name Stone Temple Pilots due to their fondness of the initials “STP”.

The band’s early success with its debut album, Core, and the rock radio smashes “Sex Type Thing,” “Plush,” “Creep,” and “Wicked Garden,” earned the attention of rock royalty, landing the band an opening spot of some dates of the Rolling Stones “Voodoo Lounge” tour in 1994. Aside from opening with the Stones, Weiland also found himself rubbing shoulders with other notable rockers, including Gene Simmons of KISS, Bad Religion’s Greg Graffin, and Rob Zombie, at events like Rock for Choice in 1993. In the summer of 1993, STP was one of the top attractions on the Weenie Roast, the annual summer concert held by Los Angeles radio station KROQ, where the band’s music remained a staple through the ‘90s and beyond.

In one of the band’s first opening performances as Mighty Joe Young, they opened for Electric Love Hogs, whose drummer Dave Kushner would one day co-found Weiland’s later band Velvet Revolver.

In 1994, STP released their second record, Purple, which saw the development of a more distinctive identity for the band. Like Core, Purple was a big success for the band, spawning three hit singles (“Big Empty”, “Vasoline” and “Interstate Love Song”) and selling more than six million copies. The critical response to Purple was more favorable, with Spin magazine calling it a “quantum leap” from the band’s previous album.

In 1995, Weiland, always instantly bored with unchanging scenarios, formed the alternative rock band The Magnificent Bastards.

The band included Victor Indrizzo on drums, Zander Schloss and Jeff Nolan on guitars and Bob Thompson on bass. Only two songs were recorded by The Magnificent Bastards, “Mockingbird Girl,” composed by Nolan, Schloss, and Weiland, appeared in the film Tank Girl and on its soundtrack, and a cover of John Lennon’s “How Do You Sleep?” was recorded for the tribute album, Working Class Hero: A Tribute to John Lennon.

Weiland rejoined Stone Temple Pilots in the fall of 1995, but STP was forced to cancel most of their 1996–1997 tour in support of their third release, Tiny Music… Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop, which sold about two million albums. Weiland encountered problems with drug addiction at this time as well, which inspired some of his songs in the late-1990s.

Weiland liked to shake things up by kissing his bandmates in front of the camera. In a 1993 photo, he was captured locking lips with STP drummer Eric Kretz. The band’s early success earned them a spot on MTV’s acclaimed Unplugged series in 1994. By 1998, Weiland was in full rock-star mode, saluting photographers with a single finger and a cigarette dangling from his mouth.

While STP went on hiatus once again after the release of Tiny Music…, Weiland released a solo album in 1998 called 12 Bar Blues. Weiland wrote most of the songs on the album, and collaborated with several artists, notably Daniel Lanois, Sheryl Crow, Brad Mehldau and Jeff Nolan. In 1999, STP regrouped once again and released No. 4. The album contained the hit single “Sour Girl” which featured a surreal music video with Sarah Michelle Gellar. That same year, Weiland also recorded two songs with the short-lived supergroup The Wondergirls. During this time period Weiland spent five months in jail for drug possession.

In November 2000, Weiland was invited to perform on the show VH1 Storytellers with the surviving members of The Doors. Weiland did vocals on two Doors songs, “Break On Through (To the Other Side)” and “Five to One”. That same month Stone Temple Pilots appeared on The Doors tribute CD, Stoned Immaculate with their own rendition of “Break on Through” as the lead track. On June 19, 2001, STP released its fifth album, Shangri-La Dee Da. That same year the band headlined the Family Values Tour along with Linkin Park and Staind. In late 2002, the band broke up with the DeLeo brothers and Weiland having had significant altercations back stage.

In 2002, former Guns N’ Roses members – guitarist Slash, bassist Duff McKagan and drummer Matt Sorum – as well as former Wasted Youth guitarist Dave Kushner were looking for a singer to help form a new band. Throughout his career Weiland had become acquainted with the four musicians; he became friends with McKagan after attending the same gym, was in rehab at the same time as Sorum and once played on the same bill as Kushner. Weiland was sent two discs of material to work with, but felt that the first disc “sounded like Bad Company gone wrong.” When he was sent the second disc, Weiland was more positive, comparing it to Core-era Stone Temple Pilots though he turned them down because Stone Temple Pilots had not yet separated. When Stone Temple Pilots disbanded in 2003 they went into the studio and in 2004 released the album Contraband which debuted number one on the Billboard 200 and sold over 3 million copies.

Their second album in 2007, Libertad, received mixed critical awareness. Though some critics praised the album and felt that Libertad gave the band an identity of their own, outside of the Guns N’ Roses and Stone Temple Pilots comparisons, others described the album as “bland” and noted that the band seem to be “playing to their strengths instead of finding a collective sound.”

Weiland was definitely an over the top narcissistic persona, so when his former STP bandmember Dean DeLeo discussed an offer from a concert promoter to headline several summer festivals, Weiland accepted and said he had cleared the brief tour with his Velvet Revolver bandmates. He explained, “everything was cool. Then it wasn’t”, and said the rest of the band stopped talking to him.

Another version of this story reads:

According to Dean DeLeo, steps toward a Stone Temple Pilots reunion started with a simple phone call from Weiland’s wife. She invited the DeLeo brothers to play at a private beach party, which led to the reconciliation of Weiland and the DeLeo brothers. However, Weiland said in a 2010 radio interview to promote the band’s self-titled release that the reunion was the result of Dean calling him and asking if he’d be interested in reuniting the band to headline the Coachella Festival.

In any case on March 20, 2008 Weiland revealed at Velvet Revolver’s show in Glasgow, Scotland that this would be the band’s final tour. After several flares on their personal blogs and in interviews, on April 1 it was announced by a number of media outlets that Weiland would no longer be in Velvet Revolver.

And the controversies continue

In 2008, Stone Temple Pilots announced a 73-date U.S. tour on April 7 and performed together for the first time since 2002. STP’s reunion tour was a success, and the band continued to tour throughout 2009 and began recording its sixth studio album. STP’s first album since 2001, Stone Temple Pilots, was released on May 25, 2010.

In September 2010, STP announced it was rescheduling several U.S. tour dates so that the band could take a “short break.” Instead STP toured Southeast Asia for the first time in 2011, followed by Australia.

The band said they were interested in a 20th anniversary tour to celebrate the release of Core with Weiland commenting on January 2, 2012, “Well, we’re doing a lot of special things. There’s a lot of archival footage that we’re putting together, a coffee table book, hopefully a brand new album – so many ideas. A box set and then a tour, of course.” Yet also in that same month of January guitarist Dave Kushner announced Velvet Revolver would reunite with Weiland for the first time in four years for a one night, three song gig to raise money for the family of recently deceased musician John O’Brien. On what the future would hold for the band and Weiland, Kushner replied “We haven’t played together in four years, and so we’re really just like, ‘Let’s see how this goes.” Three months later Weiland remarks that he would like to reunite permanently with Velvet Revolver, comparing that “if Maynard James Keenan can do it with A Perfect Circle and Tool, then there’s no reason why I shouldn’t go and do it with both bands”. Further in May in an interview with ABC Radio Weiland said that he had reunited with the band permanently for a tour and an album, which however was denied a few days later by Slash in an interview with 93x.

STP began to experience problems in 2012 that were said to have been caused by tensions between Weiland and the rest of the band. Despite the band’s claims that their fall tour would be celebrating the 20th anniversary of Core, this did not happen. On February 27, 2013, shortly before this solo tour was set to commence, Stone Temple Pilots announced on their website that “[…]they [had] officially terminated Scott Weiland”.

Weiland in turn criticized the band after they hired Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington as his replacement, claiming he was still a member and they shouldn’t be calling themselves Stone Temple Pilots without him and the Velvet Revolver reunification never happened either.

So Weiland, next to his solo album projects including a full blown Christmas album in 2011, started a new project with Scott Weiland and the Wildabouts, with a tour titled “Purple at the Core” commencing in March 2013 with pop/rock band MIGGS as the opening act, and an album titled “Blaster” finally released on March 31, 2015. Less than a week after the release his guitarist Jeremy Brown was found dead at his home at age 34.

On December 3, 2015, Weiland was found in cardiac arrest on his tour bus in Bloomington, Minnesota. Drugs are suspected but not proven yet. Many see Scott Weiland as one of the three voices of the grunge generation, next to Kurt Cobain (died at age 27 on estimated April 5, 1994 and Layne Staley (died at age 34 on April 5, 2002). Just sad to consider that 3 of that generation’s voices couldn’t stay away from drugs and depression.

A day following his death, his former bandmates in Stone Temple Pilots issued a statement saying, “Dear Scott Let us start by saying thank you for sharing your life with us. Together we crafted a legacy of music that has given so many people happiness and great memories. The memories are many, and they run deep for us. We know amidst the good and the bad you struggled, time and time again. It’s what made you who you were. You were gifted beyond words, Scott. Part of that gift was part of your curse. With deep sorrow for you and your family, we are saddened to see you go. All of our love and respect. We will miss you brother, Robert, Eric, Dean.”

May 112017

November 10, 2015 – Allen Toussaint was born January 14, 1938 in  is an American musician, songwriter and record producer and one of the most influential figures in New Orleans R&B.

Allen Toussaint has crossed many paths in his illustrious 40 years plus career in music. He has produced, written for, arranged, had his songs covered by, and performed with music giants The Judds, Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Elvis Costello, Patti LaBelle, Mac “Dr. John” Rebannac, Aaron and Art Neville, Joe Cocker, The (original) Meters, Glen Campbell, The Band, Little Feat, The Rolling Stones, Devo, Ernie K-Doe, Lee Dorsey, Irma Thomas, Etta James, Ramsey Lewis, Eric Gale and the countless others.

His songs/productions have been featured in numerous films, including but not limited to, Casino, Moulin Rouge, and Maid in Manhattan. He served as musical director for the off Broadway play, Staggerlee, which won the prestigious Outer Circle Critics Award.

Toussaint career began in his early twenties when hired by the local Minit Records to supervise its recording activities, awaiting their arrival of Harold Batiste. Toussaint quickly accumulated an amazing string of hits for the label, producing, writing, arranging and often performing on tracks by Ernie K-Doe, Irma Thomas, Art and Aaron Neville, Chris Kenner, and Benny Spellman, putting his signature New Orleans sound on the map, an obvious continuation of the Domino/Bartholomew era.

Toussaint got his shot as a solo artist with a record for RCA. Two of his earliest tunes, “Java,” which became a mega-hit for trumpeter Al Hirt and “Whipped Cream,” the Herb Alpert hit, became instrumental standards. Toussaint then went onto team up with Lee Dorsey, who was often backed by the funky rhythm section known as The Meters, turning out a string of hits that included Working in the Coalmine; Holy Cow; Ride Your Pony; and many others. Working in the Coalmine was then recorded by The Judds; Yes We Can became a smash hit by The Pointer Sisters; Sneaking Sally thru the Alley was recorded by both Robert Palmer and Ringo Starr. Toussaint continued to put his mark on the music business with his arrangements on LaBelle’s hit, Lady Marmalade, continuing on with Patti through the early stages of her solo career. After establishing himself as one of the greatest songwriters, accredited to him by BMI Music, Toussaint was honored with a Grammy nominee for 1977’s song of the year, Southern Night, performed by Glen Campbell. Years later Southern Night was featured on the MCA’s Grammy nominated compilation CD, Country, Rhythm, and Blues, where Toussaint teamed up with Country legend Chet Atkins, to perform his hit.

His career has spanned over 40 years, all adding up to include being inducted into the “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.” After years of writing, producing, recording, arranging, performing and conducting, Toussaint’s music is continuing on. Several of his songs are commercial themes, Yes We Can (Slim Fast) and Working in the Coalmine (WalMart).

His productions are continuously sampled, introducing it to an entire new arena of listeners (Louie—ODB and Lady Marmalade (Christina Aguilera, Lil Kim, Missy Elliot). Songs Java and Southern Night have both been credited and cited for over 2 million airings. The most recent of Toussaint’s long list of honors and accolades was the Grammy nominated pop/vocal album of the year, The River in Reverse; Toussaint’s collaboration with Elvis Costello. As Mr. Toussaint said, Hurricane Katrina was the best booking agent, and with that he started to tour and perform before a whole new audience.

Toussaint passed away hours after performing at a concert in Madrid on November 10, 2015 at the age of 77.

Oct 122015

Billy Joe RoyalOctober 3, 2015 – Singer Billy Joe Royal, best known for his pop hit “Down in the Boondocks” and a string of country singles in the 1980s,was born April 3, 1942 in Valdosta, Georgia.
As a young man he performed on the radio program “Georgia Jubilee,” which is where he met artists like Jerry Reed and Joe South. It was fellow Georgian Joe South who penned Mr. Royal’s 1965 breakout single, “Down in the Boondocks,” which peaked at No. 9. Royal would also find success with his follow-up single: another South-penned song, called “I Knew You When.”
During the mid-1980s, his career was revitalized when he signed with Atlantic Records and began releasing country songs. In late 1985, Royal notched his first Top 10 country single with “Burned Like a Rocket,” though the song was reportedly pulled from the radio after the Space Shuttle Challenger tragedy of January 1986. He followed “Rocket” with several country hits including “I’ll Pin a Note on Your Pillow,” “Tell It Like It Is,” and “Till I Can’t Take It Anymore.” He was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1988.
Mr. Royal’s soulful voice was still in fine form, and he continued to tour in recent years. His final live performance was 12 days before his passing on Sept. 24, 2015 at the Gwinnett County Fair in Georgia, the state in which he was raised and where he discovered his love of music. Taylor said that Mr. Royal had planned to spend some time off the road in the coming weeks in order to spend time with his daughter, a student at NC State University.

He is survived by his ex-wife, Michelle Royal, with whom he was still close, daughter Savannah Royal, and two stepsons, Trey and Joey Riverbank. Funeral arrangements will be announced this week. He learned to play steel guitar and joined the Georgia Jubilee in Atlanta at 14, performing with Joe South, Jerry Reed, and Ray Stevens, among several other artists. Royal had his own rock & roll band in high school and was regularly singing around Atlanta by the age of 16.

He also spent time in Savannah, where he was influenced by African-American vocal styles and began to develop his distinctive vocal sound. Performing at a nightclub that also booked Sam Cooke and other African-American stars, Royal observed their vocal moves and began to practice them on his own time. In 1962, he recorded an independent single that went unnoticed. Royal and South roomed together for a time, and two or three years later South contacted him with a song he wanted Royal to sing as a demo, in the hope that Gene Pitney would record it. Royal flew from Cincinnati (where he was working at the time) to Atlanta and cut “Down in the Boondocks,” whose churchy echo resulted from the use during recording of a large septic tank that had been dragged into the studio.
The demo ended up at Columbia, and the label signed Royal to a six-year deal. The song becameRoyal’s breakthrough single, reaching number nine on the pop charts and briefly making the vocalist into a teen idol. F

ollowing its success, Royal had a string of lesser hits, including the Top 40 pop singles “I Knew You When,” “I’ve Got to Be Somebody,” and “Cherry Hill Park.” By the end of the decade, Royal’s star waned, and he became a regular performer in Las Vegas and around Lake Tahoe. He also did a bit of acting on television, in feature films, and in commercials. In 1978, he recorded a cover of “Under the Boardwalk” and scored a minor hit.

The wrong-side-of-the-tracks theme of “Down in the Boondocks” was a familiar one to country audiences, and during the early ’80s Royal worked on establishing himself as a country artist. In 1984, he broke through when he recorded the Gary Burr composition “Burned Like a Rocket”; it was picked up by the Atlantic label, which signed Royal to a contract. The single became a hit and reached the country Top Ten in early 1986. Over the next two years he had a string of Top 40 hits, breaking into the Top Ten in late 1987 once again with “I’ll Pin a Note on Your Pillow.” In 1989, Royal released the album Tell It Like Is; the title cut, a remake of the venerable soul standard, became his biggest hit, peaking at number two, while the album itself stayed in the Top 15 for over a year.

By 1990, Royal’s style of pop-inflected country had been replaced by neo-traditional honky tonk at the top of the charts, and his popularity began to decline. He continued to have minor hits into 1992 and toured into the 2000s. Royal launched a comeback with the 1998 album Stay Close to Home on the Intersound label, following up with the independent release Now and Then, Then and Now in 2001. “I know exactly what George Jones feels. But I know exactly what Ray Charles feels, too,” Royal once said, and by the beginning of the new century, a host of reissues of Royal’s work testified to his status as a vocal craftsman whose success transcended genre.

Truth be known, the Joe South penned song “Hush” made Billy Joe Royal a celebrity rockstar across the globe.

He passed away on October 6, 2015 at age 73.

Sep 142015

music-reo-speedwagon-gary-richrathGary Dean Richrath (REO Speedwagon) was born on October 18, 1949.

Gary Richrath provided much of the creative and driving force in the early days of the band, Gary Richrath wrote much of the material for REO Speedwagons first twelve albums. In 1977, Gary Richrath and other members of the band took over their own production, which resulted in the band’s first platinum album. Gary Richrath wrote many of the band’s most memorable songs including “Golden Country” from 1972, “Ridin’ the Storm Out” 1973, “Only the Strong Survive” 1979 and “Take It On the Run” from 1981.

In addition, Gary Richrath sang several REO Speedwagon songs including “Find My Fortune” 1973 and “(Only A) Summer Love” 1976.  Gary Richrath was asked to leave REO Speedwagon in 1989, and released a solo album titled Only the Strong Survive in 1992, under the name “Richrath”.

When Gary Richrath left REO, it was rumored the band was breaking up because of extreme personality conflicts among REO’s members.

Gary Richrath did admit to crossing swords a few times with lead singer Kevin Cronin. “We had songwriting conflicts about whose songs would go on the albums,” Gary Richrath said.  Gary Richrath saw the band move away from the “rockier” style.  Kevin Cronin preferred a slower, more sentimental ballads, and Gary Richrath was not ready to slow down.

REO Speedwagon continued to tour and record without Gary Richrath but never was able to capture that great REO sound that fans had grown to love and records sales were never the same.

Gary Richrath  moved on and formed a band that was more in touch with his own tastes. The band played over 1,000 concerts, mostly in small clubs and halls, and Gary Richrath said audiences were eating up the two hour shows, half REO classics and half new Gary Richrath tunes, and the new songs were getting noticed. Garys band continued to tour throughout the 1990’s until Gary Richrath headed back into the studio in 1998 to create a new CD that remains unfinished.

Gary Richrath says “I wasn’t trying to create a new REO,  just carrying on with what I do.”

There were always rumors that Gary Richrath was rejoining REO Speedwagon, but unfortunately this never happened but for one special occasion on December 4, 2013 in Bloomington, Illinois. Gary Richrath reunited with REO for a performance of “Ridin’ the Storm Out” at a benefit concert titled “Rock to the Rescue” to raise money for the affected families of the tornado hit in central Illinois. Watch the video here.

Richrath passed away on September 13, 2015, as confirmed by his former REO Speedwagon associate Kevin Cronin Gary Richrath. He was 65 when he passed away.


Sep 022016

cilla-blackAugust 1, 2015 – Cilla Black was born Priscilla Marie Veronica White in Liverpool on May 27, 1943, just a couple of months after Beatle George Harrison was born in the same city.

Although she was an aspiring entertainer, in the early 60’s Cilla was working as a typist, a waitress, and as a hat check girl at the Cavern in Liverpoool, the same venue where the Beatles were performing and beginning to draw attention at that time. She performed at times with some local Liverpool bands including Rory Storm and the Hurricanes and The Big Three, and received encouragement from her friends in the Beatles. An article in the local music newspaper Mersey Beat mis-identifed her as Cilla Black, and Cilla liked the name and decided to keep it as a stage name. She was signed to a recording contract by Brian Epstein, then went to the Parlophone label, where her records were produced by George Martin. Her first single was written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney and titled Love Of The Loved. It made it to number 35 on the UK chart.

She was still raw as a singer and producer George Martin initially had his doubts, but he worked with her and she worked hard to become a good singer, with a strong voice. In February of 1964 Cilla’s recording of Anyone Who Had A Heart, a song written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, became her first smash hit, reaching number 1 in the UK. (It didn’t even make the top forty in the US however, due to the recording by Dionne Warwick of the same song, which made the US top ten.)

In the summer of that same year, which some might say was the most competitive year ever in the history of British pop, Cilla came up with her second number one hit in the UK with You’re My World. This was to be her only top forty hit in the US, moving to number 26. She continued to sell many, many records in the UK throughout the 60’s. Included in these were recordings that she made at Abbey Road Studios such as Alfie, the Lennon-McCartney composition It’s For You, Love’s Just A Broken Heart, Don’t Answer Me, Surround Yourself With Sorrow, Something Tells Me (Something’s Gonna Happen Tonight), and Randy Newman’s I’ve Been Wrong Before.

Cilla actually went on to become the second-largest selling recording artist to come out of Liverpool, and her version of Anyone Who Had A Heart remains as the biggest selling single of the 60’s by a British female singer.

Cilla moved into British television in the late 60’s, hosting her own show on the BBC with a theme song written by Paul McCartney, Step Inside Love. Her work in television seemed to polarize the public — many loved her, while others rejected her. She had a girl-next-door image. Her final hit on the British chart came in 1974 with Baby We Can’t Go Wrong, but her career as an entertainer continued into the twenty-first century. All of Cilla’s chart hits are contained on the album Best of Cilla Black; her best album ever may be Cilla Sings A Rainbow, from 1966.

Cilla had a brief career as a comedy actress in the 70’s, and hosted her own BBC television program beginning in 1968 and lasting for nearly a decade. The show was quite popular and featured many of the biggest stars of the time. Eventually she was managed by songwriter Bobby Willis, whom she married. The marriage produced four children and lasted for over thirty years until Willis’ death in 1999.

Although her days of selling records had fallen into decline, Cilla performed in concert and on the cabaret circuit for a time, and remained a popular television personality for decades, at times hosting game shows.

On August 1, 2015 Cilla fell at her villa near Estepona, Spain, suffered a stroke, and died. She was 72.


Dec 142016

bronx popJuly 8, 2015 – Ernie Maresca was born on August 21st 1938 in the Bronx, New York City.

He began singing and writing in a doo-wop group, the Monterays, later renamed as the Desires, and, after Maresca left, as the Regents, who had a hit with “Barbara Ann”.
In 1957, his demo of his song “No One Knows” came to the attention of Dion DiMucci, who recorded it successfully with the Belmonts on Laurie Records, the record reaching #19 on the Billboard Hot 100 record chart in 1958.

Ernie Maresca was a fairly successful songwriter in the New York doo wop/rock & roll scene in the first half of the 1960s, most known for writing several of Dion’s biggest hits (by himself or in collaboration with Dion): “Runaround Sue,” “The Wanderer,” “Lovers Who Wander,” “A Lover’s Prayer,” and “Donna the Prima Donna.” He also wrote for a great deal of other artists throughout the 1960s, usually in a style that combined doo wop with the developing sounds of girl groups or Dion’s boastful Bronx pop/rock; the Regents’ modest modern doo wop hit “Runaround” was the biggest of these. Although he didn’t think of himself as a singer, and was an average nondescript vocalist at best, he was persuaded to record as a solo artist. In mid-1962, he ended up with his one and only hit under his own name, “Shout Shout (Knock Yourself Out).” A fun if extremely basic rocker that used the same chord pattern that anchored Dion hits like “Runaround Sue” and added the dance-rock energy of bands like Joey Dee & the Starliters, it made number six.

Maresca made an album in 1962, and continued to record, without success, for Seville through 1965 and then for Laurie during the remainder of the 1960s. He kept on writing for plenty of artists, too (often on the Laurie roster), and in that capacity had some modest hits with Reparata & the Delrons (“Whenever a Teenager Cries”), Bernadette Carroll (“Party Girl”), and Jimmie Rodgers (“Child of Clay,” co-written with Jimmy Curtiss). While some of his songs for Dion were classics, Maresca was a limited songwriter, many of his compositions limited to variations (or replicas) of the ascending, circular basic doo wop chord structures heard on Dion’s “Runaround Sue,” “The Wanderer,” “Lovers Who Wander,” and “Donna the Prima Donna.” By the 1970s he was head of Laurie Records’ publicity department, which concentrated on reissuing the label’s catalog, and as of 2000 was working as a consultant to EMI and administrator for Laurie’s publishing.

Ernie died at his home in South Florida, after a brief illness on July 8, 2015 at the age of 76.

Nov 142016

bruce-rowlandJune 29, 2015 – Bruce Rowland (Joe Cocker/Fairport Convention) was born at Park Royal, Middlesex on May 22 1941 and spent some of his early professional life as a drum teacher. According to Dave Pegg, the bass guitarist and singer in Fairport Convention, Rowland taught the young Phil Collins how to play the drums.

In 1968, Rowland played on the Wynder K Frog album Out of the Frying Pan and the following year he joined the Grease Band, Joe Cocker’s backing group. It was with Cocker that he was able to reveal his talent for rock drumming.

The following year Roland played drums on the singer’s memorably bluesy peformance of With a Little Help from my Friends at Woodstock. This powerful and gravelly interpretation of the Beatles hit was much complemented by Rowland’s thumping drum beat and rousing crescendo.

The song, along with Jimi Hendrix’s electric guitar interpretation of The Star Spangled Banner, became the highlight of that year’s Woodstock and Rowland subsequently played on Cocker’s UK Top 10 hit single Delta Lady (1969) and on his eponymous second album (1972).

In 1970, the Grease Band decided to part company with Cocker just before their American Tour. Rowland went on to play on their albums The Grease Band (1971) and Amazing Grease (1975). During this period he also worked as a session musician for Shawn Phillips, Jackie Lomax, Gallagher and Lyle and several others and played drums on the original recording of Jesus Christ Superstar. He later said that he regretted accepting a fixed fee as opposed to royalties for his work on the album.

After a spell with Ronnie Lane’s Slim Chance – which included playing on Lane’s solo debut album, Anymore for Anymore – Rowland went on to drum for Lane and Ronnie Wood on their soundtrack album Mahoney’s Last Stand, released in 1976.

In 1972 he joined Fairport Convention during a particularly turbulent period in the band’s history. The rock folk group had been founded in 1967 and has since performed and recorded with countless different line-ups. During Rowland’s first spell with them, they employed three different drummers in one year. Rowland can be heard playing on the 1972 Manor Album, which has never been officially released but is widely bootlegged among Fairport Convention fans.

In 1975 he joined the group for good after their drummer Dave Mattacks left during the recording of the album Rising for the Moon. He continued to appear with Fairport Convention for much of the late 1970s and worked on several albums with the band.

Such was Rowland’s versatility that he seemed to adapt to the electric folk style of Fairport Convention with ease; his percussion skills ranged from sensitive tapping of soft mallet drum sticks on live performances of the folk lament Flowers of the Forest, to keeping a steady beat to back the fevered fiddling of Dave Swarbrick and Roger Burridge when they played Dirty Linen.

In 1976, during a live performance of this popular track, Swarbrick, the band’s singer-songwriter and fiddle player, introduced the song with the words: “This is an instrumental and it’s dedicated to our drummer’s underwear.”

Bruce Rowland left Fairport Convention and moved to Denmark in 1979. He subsequently returned to Britain and settled in Brixham Devon where he had a paint business and later sold it to retire and concentrate on creating a retirement home for himself and wife Barbara.

He was 74 years old when he died of cancer on June 29, 2015.

Jun 282015

CHRIS-SQUIRE27 June 2015 – Christopher Russell Edward ‘Chris’ Squire was born March 4, 1948 in the Kingsbury area of London. was an English musician, singer and songwriter. He was best known as the bassist and founding member of the progressive rock band Yes. He was the only member to appear on each of their 21 studio albums, released from 1969 to 2014.

Squire took an early interest in church music and sang in the local church and school choirs. After he took up the bass guitar at age sixteen, his earliest gigs were in 1964 for The Selfs, which later evolved into The Syn. In 1968, Squire formed Yes with singer Jon Anderson; he would remain the band’s sole bassist for the next 47 years.

He grew up there and in the nearby Queensbury and Wembley areas. His father was a cab driver and his mother a secretary for an estate agent. As a youngster Squire took a liking to Lena Horne and Ella Fitzgerald records belonging to his father, though his main interest was church music. At age six he joined the church choir at St. Andrew’s in Kingsbury with Andrew Pryce Jackman, a friend of his who lived nearby. The choirmaster was Barry Rose, who was an early influence on Squire: “He made me realize that working at it was the way to become best at something”. Squire sang in the choir at his school, Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School, then located in Hampstead.

Squire did not consider a music career until the age of sixteen when “the emergence of The Beatles” and the Beat music boom in the early 1960s inspired him to learn the bass guitar.His first bass was a Futurama, “very cheap, but good enough to learn on.” In 1964, Squire was suspended from school for having hair that was too long and was given money for a hair cut. Instead he went home and never returned. He took up work selling guitars at a Boosey & Hawkes shop in Regent Street, using the staff discount to purchase a Rickenbacker 4001 bass.

Squire made his debut public performance as a member of The Selfs at The Graveyard, a youth club in the hall of St. Andrew’s church. His friend Andrew Pryce Jackman was the group’s keyboardist. Following several personnel changes, The Selfs evolved into The Syn, a London based psychedelic rock band consisting of Squire, Jackman, singer Steve Nardelli, guitarist John Painter and drummer Gunnar Hakanarssen. After a few months, Painter was replaced by guitarist Peter Banks. The five gained a following large enough to secure a weekly residency at the Marquee Club in Soho, sign with Deram Records, and release two singles before disbanding.

Squire was fond of using LSD in the 1960s until a 1967 incident where he had a bad acid trip. He recalled that “it was the last time I ever took it, having ended up in hospital in Fulham for a couple of days not knowing who I was, or what I was, or who anybody else was.” During his recovery he spent months inside his girlfriend’s apartment, afraid to leave. Squire used this time to develop his style on the bass, citing bassists John Entwistle, Jack Bruce and Larry Graham as influences.

In January 1968, Squire joined Mabel Greer’s Toyshop, a psychedelic group that included Peter Banks, singer Clive Bayley and drummer Bob Hagger. They played at the Marquee club where Jack Barrie, owner of the La Chasse drinking club a few doors down, saw them perform. “The musicianship … was very good but it was obvious they weren’t going anywhere”, he recalled. One evening at La Chasse, Barrie introduced Squire to Jon Anderson, a worker at the bar who had not found success as the lead singer of The Gun or as a solo artist. The two found they shared common musical interests including Simon & Garfunkel, The Association and vocal harmonies. In the following days they developed “Sweetness”, a track later recorded for the first Yes album.

When talks on forming a new, full-time band developed, Anderson and Squire brought in drummer Bill Bruford, keyboardist Tony Kaye and Banks for rehearsals. The five agreed to drop the name Mabel Greer’s Toyshop; they settled on the name Yes, originally Banks’s idea. The band played their first show as Yes at a youth camp in East Mersea, Essex on 4 August 1968. Squire spoke about the band’s formation: “I couldn’t get session work because most musicians hated my style. They wanted me to play something a lot more basic. We started Yes as a vehicle to develop everyone’s individual styles.”

In August 1969, Yes released their self-titled debut album. Squire received writing credits on four of the album’s eight tracks—”Beyond & Before”, “Looking Around”, “Harold Land”, and “Sweetness”.

When Bruford was replaced by Alan White in July 1972, Squire altered his playing to suit the change in the band’s rhythm section. He felt he was “playing too much, though he was never really sure. With Bill, the things that I did felt right … With Alan, I found that I was able to play a bit less than before and still get my playing across”.
Squire described his playing on “The Remembering (High the Memory)” from Tales from Topographic Oceans (1973) as “one of the nicest things I think I’ve ever played”.

While most of the band’s lyrics were written by Anderson, Squire co-wrote much of their music with guitarist Steve Howe (with Anderson occasionally contributing). In addition, Squire and Howe would supply backing vocals in harmony with Anderson on songs such as “South Side of the Sky” and “Close to the Edge”.

Squire concentrated overwhelmingly on Yes’ music over the years, producing little solo work. His first solo record was 1975’s Fish Out of Water, featuring Yes alumnus Bill Bruford on drums and Patrick Moraz on keyboards and The Syn/The Selfs alumnus Andrew Jackman also on keyboards.

Squire was later a member of the short-lived XYZ (eX-Yes/Zeppelin) in 1981, a group composed of Alan White (Yes) on drums and Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin) on guitar. XYZ recorded several demo tracks, but never produced anything formal, though two of the demos provided the basis for two later Yes tracks, “Mind Drive” and “Can You Imagine?”. Squire later said Robert Plant was not ready to record with the band so soon after the death of John Bonham, Led Zeppelin’s drummer.

Squire also played a role in bringing Trevor Rabin into the Cinema band project, which became the 90125 line-up of Yes.

In later years, Squire would join with Yes guitarist Billy Sherwood in a side project called Conspiracy. This band’s self-titled debut album in 2000 contained the nuclei of several songs that had appeared on Yes’ recent albums. Conspiracy’s second album, The Unknown, was released in 2003.

In late 2004, Squire joined a reunion of The Syn. The reformed band released the album Syndestructible in 2005 before breaking up again.
Squire also worked on two solo projects with other former Syn collaborators Gerard Johnson, Jeremy Stacey and Paul Stacey. A Christmas album, Chris Squire’s Swiss Choir, was released in 2007 (with Johnson, J. Stacey and Steve Hackett). Squire collaborated again with Hackett, formerly of the band Genesis, to make the Squackett album A Life Within a Day, released in 2012.

Squire was the only member to play on each of their 21 studio albums released from 1969 to 2014. He was seen as one of the main forces behind the band’s music, as well as being “perhaps the most enigmatic” group member. Heaven & Earth was his final studio album.

Following Squire’s death from acute erythroid leukemia on 27 June 2015, the band’s show on 7 August of the same year marked the first Yes concert ever performed without him. Former member Billy Sherwood replaced Squire during their 2015 North American tour with Toto from August to September 2015, as well as their performances in November 2015.

From 1991 to 2000, Rickenbacker produced a limited edition signature model bass in his name, the 4001CS.

Squire was widely regarded as the dominant bassist among the English progressive rock bands, influencing peers and later generations of bassists with his incisive sound and elaborately contoured, melodic bass lines.
I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Chris Squire, legendary bassist and co-founder of Yes. Squire was a distinctly melodic player as well as a fantastic songwriter and a very very funny man. He had significant influence on the progressive rock movement of the 1970s and inspired countless bassists who came after him. I will never forget “Owner of a Lonely Heart” one of two hits for Yes, together with “Roundabout”, but will forever be in love with The Gates of Delirium.

May you journey safe to the heart of the sunrise, Chris.

Oct 182016

James Last & OrchestraJune 9, 2015 – James Last was born Hans Last on April 17, 1929 in Bremen Germany, the third son for Louis and Martha Last, and christened Hans. His father, a post-office worker, was a keen amateur musician, competent on both drums and bandoneon. He learned to play piano as child, and bass as a teenager. He joined Hans-Gunther Oesterreich’s Radio Bremen Dance Orchestra in 1946, when he was 17 years old.

The brothers Last, Robert, Werner and young Hans, enjoyed their game of street football and so father Louis was pleased when all three expressed more than just an passing interest in music.

By the age of nine, young Hans could play “Hanschen Klein”, a German folk song in the piano, but his first music teacher, a lady, claimed at the age of ten he was totally unmusical. A year or so later with tutor number two, a gentleman, things started to happen. At the age of fourteen Hans was off to military school in Frankfurt where he studied brass, piano and tuba.

Hans’ parents were pleased with the appointment. It was hoped that he would emerge from the school as classically trained conductor. After passing his first exam, the school was bombed and the students were evacuated to Buckenburg, just outside Hanover, to continue their training.

Later, Buckenburg was also lost in the war. Hans claims that if he had stayed at Buckenburg, he would have been a conductor of serious music by the time he was twenty three.

After the war, Hans-Gunter Oesterreich, who organised entertainment for the American clubs, signed Hans Last for his first professional engagements. Later, Oesterreich secured a major post with Radio Bremen, and soon, the Last brothers were all working together.

In 1948, they joined forces with Karl-Heinz Becker, and became known as the Last-Becker Ensemble.

Hans was sold on jazz, Woody Herman and Stephan Grapelli being among his favorites. In 1959 Hans Last was voted Germany’s Top Jazz Bassist, a title held until 1953. In 1955 the Last-Becker Ensemble was on the verge of breaking up. At this stage Hansi considered forming his own band, but lack of funds halted this project. Instead they joined the North German Radio Dance Orchestra in Hamburg.

Soon Hans was arranging music for the NDR, he stayed with the NDR until 1964 when he signed a contract for Polydor. He became a much sought after arranger and was soon scoring hits for Caterina Valente, Freddy Quinn, Helmut Zacharias in Hamburg, he even flew to Nashville to record Brenda Lee singing in German.
It was in 1955 that Hans married the attractive Waltraud Wiese from Bremen and by 1958, the Last household had become four, with the birth of a son Ronald and a daughter Caterina.

Soon a couple of albums hit the market. Hans Last and his Orchestra had arrived, but suddenly the next release on the Polydor label featured James Last and his Orchestra. Somebody somewhere within the record company felt that James had more international appeal than Hans.
Now James Last wanted to unleash upon the Germans his new party sound. His idea was to record the top hits of the day, and them hold a party in the studio to build up the atmosphere. In 1965 the Non Stop Dancing sound of James Last was launched.

In 1967, with seven or eight of his early albums making the German charts, and the launch of the Non Stop Dancing series, Polydor produced a budget price sampler album “This is James Last” and suddenly the Last sound was launched worldwide.
In the United Kingdom, this sampler sold for twelve shillings and sixpence. “This is James Last” entered the British album charts on April 15th, 1967, it stayed for forty-eight weeks and reached the number six position. In the U.K. sales topped 400,000. James Last had arrived.

James Last albums were selling by the thousands in Germany, Holland, Belgium, and here in the United Kingdom. Album after album reached the national charts. Whilst on a crest of the wave in Europe, it is reported that in Canada in 1967, five percent of the total record sales were by James Last. By 1969, the success in the record sales was phenomenal, but the Last band was a studio band, and yet to appear live. During 1969 Hans Last was persuaded to take the James Last Orchestra on tour. A four week tour of Germany had been lined up.
Many artists throughout the music business are great on disc, and terrible on stage, and vice-versa. Hansi wanted to recreate on stage the stereo sound which had been so succesful in the studio.

First the services of Peter Klemt were secured, he had succesfully mastered and mixed the early recordings. Peter immediately went out and purchased two mixers, one for the Hanover strings, whom Hansi had hired for the tour, and one for the brass section. The rhythm quartet was in front flanked by the English choir. By the end of the tour, Last was well and truly established. Soon plans were in hand to take the Orchestra to Canada for Expo 69 in Montreal.

1969 was a big year for the James Last Orchestra. In Cannes they received the International Midem Prize, the music industry’s Oscar. In Germany they were voted the number one Orchestra. The Germans gave Hansi the title of “Arranger of the Year”.
In 1970 the Last Orchestra were on the road in Germany again, a tour which had to be lengthened because of the demand for tickets. They toured Denmark and the gold discs were arriving thick and fast.

Now Hansi wanted to conquer the British. The entourage finally arrived in October, 1971. The New Victoria Theatre in London, housed the first concert. Whilst records came at the rate of around six a year, 1972, must have been the most productive year on the road. Another tour of Germany was followed by visits to Russia, South America, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan. 10,000 fans attended a James Last Voodoo Party in the Hamburg woods.

Last returned to Britain in 1973. The tour included three sell out concerts at London’s Royal Albert Hall. By the time the 1973, UK tour was under way, twenty seven Last albums have entered the British album charts. After Britain, another tour of Canada and in December 1973, Hansi received his 100th Gold Record. During 1973, we saw the composition of a leissure centre Hansi built for the band at Fintel on Lumberg Heath. Here the band coudl relax and take a few days break, the complex had half a dozen or so bedrooms, kitchen, lounge, sports equipment. All the members in the band were given a key, and the centre was frequently used by many Last musicians to get away and relax after weeks on the road and in the recording studio.

By the mid-seventies Hansi and the James Last Orchestra were established as a top recording artist and sell out concerts attraction around the world. Hansi, was also scoring as a composer. Most Last albums have included a Last composition. In March 1969 Andy Williams entered the U.S. charts with Hansi’s composition “Happy Heart”, it stayed for 22 weeks and reached number seven. Here in May, it reached number nineteen, appearing in the charts for nine weeks. Elvis Presley recorded Hansi’s composition called “No Words”, words were added and “No Words” became “Fool”. “Fool” reached number 23 in the U.K. charts in August 1973 and stayed for seven weeks.

Without any chart success, probably the most famous Last composition is “Games That Lovers Play”. Over 100 recordings available worldwide including versions by Freddy Quinn, Connie Francis and Eddie Fisher.
Although Andy Williams scored with “Happy Heart” the number has been recorded by Petula Clark, Roger Williams, The Gunter Kaftan Choir, The Anita Kerr Singers, Norrie Paramor and his Orchestra and Peggy March.

Television has played a major part in the James Last success story. In 1968 ZDF Television launched a new music spectacular entitled Star Parade. The James Last Orchestra were residents for the 50 shows produced. The biggest names in music all guested on the show; Abba, Barry Manilow, Cliff Richard, Boney M, Roger Whitaker. Many television specials had been produced here in the United Kingdom. In 1971 on their first British tour the BBC took Hansi and the Orchestra along to the Dorchester Hotel, to record a fifty minute special before an invited audience. Dance Night at the Royal Albert Hall was captured by the Beeb, and in 1976 was recorded a the Shepherd Bush studios.

By 1978, the James Last Orchestra, had achieved virtually what they set out to do. Hansi had noticed that at concerts in Great Britain, the audience would get up and dance when he played his non stop dancing titles. The German audiences loved him too, and so later that year Hansi persuaded ZDF Television to come to London, to record a concert at the Royal Albert Hall. The show was put together over two nights, each of those two nights some 5000 fans attended and had a ball.

The British fans were on their feet long before the interval, dancing and prancing around the Royal Albert Hall arena to their favourite James Last polkas. The second half was a riot, the fans had invaded the stage, they danced, they sang, and when Hansi asked them to sit on the floor, they sat on the floor and listened to “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina”.

Whilst seated, they sang “Cockless and Mussels”, “Daisy, Daisy”, and “Abide With Me”. Back on their feet James Last struck up the band and introduced his version of “Dancing Party”, and what a Dancing Party it was, all taking place at a James Last concert and being captured on film.

The show entitled “Live in London” became available on a single album in Germany, a double album in Great Britain. In Germany on television, ZDF presented a ninety minute special, whilst here the BBC gave us two thirty minute shows. On top of that a year or so later, Polydor released the official video, which they sold by the case load. In fact, sales were so good that several dealers listed this video in their top sellers chart.

On April 23rd, 1978 Hansi received the highest award that can be won in Germany. He was awarded the “Bundesverdienstkreuz” by the President of West Germany, for his services to his country.

April 1979, Hansi celebrated his fiftieth birthday in London and the fans presented him with a special birthday cake. In fact, seven cakes shaped into letters and numbers spelling out H-A-N-S-I-5-0. Two days earlier, Hansi’s most successful recording released in Great Britain’s “Last The Whole Night Long” entered the British charts. It reached number two and stayed in the charts for forty five weeks.

The demand for live concerts was as high as ever. Late October 1979, the entourage left Hamburg for a month long tour of Japan. For this special occcasion, Hansi recorded a new album specially for the Japanese market entitled “Paintings”. Last was succesful now almost throughout the whole world. Although Hansi has a home in Florida, success in the U.S. has been limited to one album making eighty in the Billboard Top 100.

In April 1980, “The Seduction” hit the Billboard singles charts. It received air play across the United States, achieved position twenty eight and stayed for six weeks. A month later it made the British charts for four weeks reaching position number forty-eight.
In June 1980, the ZDF Television series “Star Parade” came to a close after 50 minute shows. In September 1980, ZDF launched the “Show Express”, another ninety minute production featuring James Last, but his came to a halt after ten shows.

James Last worldwide album sales cannot be counted – only estimated. However, in Germany, the trade paper Musicmart claimed Last has sold 1,800,000 in Germany in 1979, and an American publication called “They Have Sold A Million” claim estimated worldwide sales in excess of 40 billion. Throughout the sixties and seventies, the Last sound was dominant, hearing a track on the radio, the fans would reply “that is James Last”.

In the eighties, Hansi experimented with some new sounds. His album “Biscaya” strongly featured bandoneon and synthesizer, “Bluebird” featured pan flute and synthesizer, “Deutsche Vita” was mainly electronic. Many fans welcomed the new sounds, sound were disappointed that the Old James Last sound was missing. However, tracks from these albums, became firm favourites and concert show pieces.

Last continued to record around six albums per year. He did not spend so much time on the road, but in the early years of the new millennium he consistently toured the United Kingdom, Belgium and Holland.

In 1987, Last took the Orchestra to East Berlin for four sell out concerts, the East Berliners had a ball. From those four sell out concerts, Polydor released an album “Live in Berlin”, followed by a video. In 1990, James Last joined forces with Richard Clayderman to produce a new album, “Golden Hearts”.

By his own admission Last played as hard as he worked and his memoirs, My Autobiography (2007), revealed a man whose workaholic lifestyle and enthusiastic partying (including struggles with alcohol and serial womanising) blinded him to the demands of his family for many years. He always enjoyed a close relationship with his orchestra, however, many members of which had been with him from the beginning to the end of his career.
When his first wife Waltraud, whom he had married in 1955, died in 1997 he moderated the more excessive aspects of his behaviour, eventually marrying his second wife Christine, with whom he divided his time between homes in Hamburg and Florida. She survives him, with two children of his first marriage.

Songs composed by Last which achieved success in the US include “Happy Heart” and “Music From Across The Way”, both recorded by Andy Williams, “Games That Lovers Play”, recorded by Eddie Fisher, and “Fool”, recorded by Elvis Presley. By the time of his farewell tour in the spring of 2015, Last was reported to have sold well over 200 million albums.

James undertook his final tour months before his death at age 86, upon discovering in September 2014 that a life threatening illness had worsened. His final UK performance was his 90th at London’s Royal Albert Hall, more than any other performer except Eric Clapton.

He died 86 years old on June 9, 2015.

Writing in The Independent, Spencer Leigh suggested once that Last’s Non-Stop Dancing albums “paved the way for disco and dance mixes”. Asked if he minded being labelled the “King of Corn”, Last had replied “No, because it is true”.

Oct 152016

ronnie-gilbertJune 6, 2015 – Ruth Alice Ronnie Gilbert (the Weavers) was born on September 7, 1926 in Brooklyn, New York City.

Ronnie Gilbert was no stranger to success or to controversy. Born to working-class Jewish parents in New York City, she refused to participate in her 1940s high-school senior play because she was convinced of the racial injustice of the minstrel show theme.

The family moved to Washington, DC during World War II. This is where she met folklorist Alan Lomax and Woody Guthrie and other folk singers. She performed in the early 1940s with the Priority Ramblers.

In the 1950s, Gilbert melded her joyous contralto with the radical voices of Pete Seeger, Lee Hays, and Fred Hellerman in their celebrated group the Weavers, which brought folk rhythms and social activism to the mainstream, even while being branded as subversives in the hysteria of the McCarthy era and blacklisted. So they were briefly one of the most popular groups in America, but were denied the opportunity to reap the benefits of their fame when they were targeted by Senator Joseph McCarthy’s investigations of suspected Communists and found themselves blacklisted. American folk singer, songwriter, actress and political activist.

In 1963, divorced both from her husband and from the reigning cultural expectations of a wife, Gilbert was beginning to build a solo singing career when she met Joseph Chaikin, then a young actor/director with a fledgling experimental troupe, The Open Theater. After she concentrated on theatre, in 1968 appearing on Broadway in The Man in the Glass Booth.

In the 1970s, Gilbert’s career took yet another surprising turn when she earned an M.A. in clinical psychology and worked as a therapist for a few years.

After a one-off reunion with the Weavers at Carnegie Hall in 1980 Ronnie was coaxed back to folk music in 1983 by the singer Holly Near, who took her on tour as a duo and with Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie; they all released an album together in 1985, HARP: A Time To Sing.

The 1980s saw Gilbert make her debut appearance at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, reading a lesbian-themed poem. Gilbert met, was inspired by, and sang with Holly Near, recording Lifeline (live, 1983) and Singing with You (1986) with Near, and Harp (1985) with Near, Arlo Guthrie, and Pete Seeger.

Gilbert’s debut solo release, The Spirit Is Free (1985) was released on the feminist Redwood label; the live recording of Love Will Find a Way followed, in 1989, on the Abbe Alice label, the collaborative product of a new alliance with manager/partner Donna Korones. In 1990, Gilbert gave the keynote speech at the annual conference of the Association of Women’s Music and Culture (AWMAC). She also performed a one-woman theater piece on the life of the legendary American labor activist Mother Jones.

Intermittent reunions of the Weavers culminated in a lifetime achievement Grammy award in 2006. She celebrated her 70th birthday on tour with Holly Near; and was still touring well into her eighties.

Ronnie Gilbert died in Mill Valley, California on June 6, 2015 at the age of 88.

Oct 192015

andrew goldJune 3, 2015 – Andrew Maurice Gold was born on August 2, 1951 at Burbank, Los Angeles, into a musical family. His father, Ernest Gold, composed the scores for dozens of Hollywood films, including Exodus (1960) — for which he won an Oscar — Too Much Too Soon (1958) and On The Beach (1959); his mother, the classically-trained soprano Marni Nixon, was best known for supplying the singing voices for film actresses, notably Deborah Kerr in The King And I (1956), Natalie Wood in West Side Story (1961), and Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady (1964). She also appeared as Sister Sophia in The Sound Of Music (1965).

Andrew was 13 when he started writing pop songs, although he never learned to read music. At Oakwood School in north Hollywood, he introduced himself to the singer Linda Ronstadt when she played a gig there with her group the Stone Poneys . By the early 1970s he had joined her band, and in 1974 played a variety of instruments and made the musical arrangements for Linda Ronstadt’s breakthrough album Heart Like A Wheel, as well as for her next four albums. Among other accomplishments, he played the majority of instruments on “You’re No Good,” Ronstadt’s only #1 single on the Billboard Hot 100, and the same on “When Will I Be Loved,” “Heat Wave” and many other classic hits. He was in her band from 1973 until 1977, and then sporadically throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

Gold was a multi-instrumentalist who played guitar, bass, keyboards, accordion, synthesizer, harmonica, saxophone, flute, drums and percussion, and more arcane musical devices such as ukulele, musette, and harmonium. He was also a member of the Los Angeles band Bryndle, alongside Kenny Edwards, Wendy Waldman and Karla Bonoff, releasing the single “Woke Up This Morning” in 1970.

Branching out as a record producer and musician, Gold recorded with Art Garfunkel on his solo hit I Only Have Eyes For You (1977), on which Gold played all the instruments; in the same year he played on Eric Carmen’s album Boats Against The Current, from which the track She Did It was a minor chart hit. Over the years he worked with many other major artists, among them John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Brian Wilson, Cher, James Taylor, Carly Simon and The Eagles.

In the early Eighties, Gold produced, co-wrote, sang and played on three 10cc tracks that appeared on the hit-making pop-rock band’s 1981 album Ten Out of 10. Subsequently, Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman of 10cc invited Gold to become a member of the group. Although he had worked with them in the studio, business conflicts prevented him from actually joining their ranks.

In late 1983, 10cc broke up, and in the aftermath, Gold and Gouldman formed Wax. Wax recorded and toured for five years. They enjoyed international success, particularly in the U.K. where the duo had several Top 10 hits including “Right Between the Eyes” and their biggest hit “Bridge to Your Heart.” Wax broke up as a recording and touring entity in 1989, but Gold and Gouldman continued to write and record together when possible.

Gold played on Cher’s hit 1989 album Heart of Stone and, during the early ’90s, wrote and composed hits for Trisha Yearwood as well as Wynonna Judd, for whom he co-wrote the #1 single “I Saw The Light” with Lisa Angelle. (Later, Gold would produce Angelle on her own album, which featured a number of songs on whose authorship and composition they collaborated.) He also produced singles for Vince Gill, wrote and produced tracks for Celine Dion, and arranged a cover of the Everly Brothers’s hit “All I Have to Do Is Dream” that was sung by stars Jeff Bridges and Karen Allen in the 1984 science-fiction film Starman.

In the 1990s, Gold once again joined forces with ex-bandmates Karla Bonoff, Wendy Waldman and Kenny Edwards to re-form Bryndle and finally release their first full-length album, Bryndle.

In 1996, Gold left Bryndle and released the children’s Halloween-oriented novelty album Halloween Howls with John Waite, featuring the track “Spooky Scary Skeletons.” The same year, he released the solo album ….Since 1951, and produced Stephen Bishop’s Blue Guitar album. Thereafter, he recorded the psychedelic ’60s tribute album Greetings from Planet Love under the pseudonym “The Fraternal Order Of The All,” and released it on his own record label, “QBrain Records.” This album was a multi-tracked solo affair with Gold essentially playing all of the instruments and singing all of the vocals on original songs in the style of Gold’s favorite 1960s bands such as The Beatles, The Byrds and The Beach Boys.

He produced, composed, and/or wrote tracks for numerous films, such as the comedy Rectuma from director Mark Pirro, and contributed songs to many television soundtracks and commercials. Among his more high-profile gigs, he sang “Final Frontier,” the theme song for the television sitcom Mad About You. In a remarkable turn of events, his rendition of the song was used as the wake-up call for the Mars Pathfinder space probe in 1996. Gold also produced seven albums for Japanese singer-songwriter Eikichi Yazawa.

During 2000, Gold compiled a Wax rarities album, House of Wax on Wax, as well as recording and releasing a new solo album The Spence Manor Suite; this last was followed in 2002 by another solo collection, Intermission. He appeared in a 2006 concert with the classic rock group America, and singer-songwriter Stephen Bishop, and the performance was later released as a DVD titled “America And Friends – Live at the Ventura Theater.” The show featured Gold performing “Thank You for Being a Friend,” “Final Frontier,” “Bridge to Your Heart” and “Lonely Boy,” as well as accompanying America and Bishop on guitar and vocals. Gold had earlier produced America’s Holiday Harmony Christmas album back in 2002, wherein he also played most of the instruments and co-wrote the track “Christmas in California.”

In the 1990s Gold, recording under a pseudonym, released an album of original songs in the style of his favourite Sixties’ bands, among them The Beatles, The Byrds and The Beach Boys. He was also a prolific composer of music for commercials and of film and television soundtracks.

From 1985, Cindy Fee’s version of Thank You For Being A Friend was used as the theme song for the American sitcom The Golden Girls.

In 1996 Gold’s was the first human voice to be “heard” on the surface of Mars, when Final Frontier, his theme from the American television series Mad About You, was used to activate a robot for the Mars Pathfinder space probe.

Andrew Gold died on June 3, 2011 from an apparent heart attack at age 59.