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Pink Floyd: A 50 Year Timeline

Pink FloydPink Floyd: Psychedelic Evergreens

Formed: 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.

Continue reading Pink Floyd: A 50 Year Timeline

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Cream: The First Power Trio in Rock

Cream

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.

Continue reading Cream: The First Power Trio in Rock

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Skynyrd: The Reason The Band Survived

lynyrd skynyrdFormed: 1965 in Jacksonville, Florida
Years Active: 1965 through 1977 and 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 (1977), Steve Gaines (1977),  Allen Collins (1990), Leon Wilkeson (2001), Billy Powell (2009), Bob Burns (2015)

Continue reading Skynyrd: The Reason The Band Survived

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Bob Marley Legend

Bob Marley Legend – RIP May 11, 1981

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.

Continue reading Bob Marley Legend

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Lou Reed Inspired This Website

Lou Reed Pioneer – RIP Oct 27, 2013

Lou Reed died late in 2013, a year that made me realize that the line in the Who’s epic ‘My Generation” (Hope I die before I get old) was no longer an option in my aging process. Even though we, the Baby Boomers, kept telling ourselves that 60 was the new 30, the mortality factor became real as an ever-increasing number of music legends that had paved the soundtrack of our lives, were picking up their roots to move to that big stage in the sky. Continue reading Lou Reed Inspired This Website

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Janis Joplin’s Life in a Nutshell

Janis Joplin Janis Joplin Inimitable – RIP Oct 4, 1970

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 then 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.  Continue reading Janis Joplin’s Life in a Nutshell

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Freddie Mercury’s Love Story with Mary Austin

Freddie Mercury and Mary Austin

Freddie Mercury: Showmaster – RIP Nov 24, 1991 

“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 the love and inspiration of one of Great Britain’s biggest rock performers. Continue reading Freddie Mercury’s Love Story with Mary Austin

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Jimi Hendrix – The Shooting Star

Jimi Hendrix Shooting Star – RIP Sep 18, 1970
If there ever was a shooting star, it was Jimi Hendrix. In the four short years that he ruled the world of guitar virtuosity, 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. Continue reading Jimi Hendrix – The Shooting Star

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Jan and Dean: An Early Rock and Roll Story

Jan and Dean Little old lady

Rock and Roll is laced with legal horror stories and bad, greedy management, especially in the early days. Even well versed, supposedly smart artists like the Rolling Stones got taken by one of their managers -Allan Klein- for much of their early songwriting credits. The story of Jan and Dean is one of legal abuse. Divide and control is the favorite manipulation tested on creative forces, as they are being side-tracked by contracts and one-sided agreements. Creative people are always in the hands of shady movers and shakers if they want to make it; unfortunately few of these movers and shakers have decency, while most are greedy and criminally dishonest. Continue reading Jan and Dean: An Early Rock and Roll Story

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2016 Tough Year for Rock Legends

2016 Was a Tough Year for Rock and Roll Superstars. We lost at least a handful of Superstars, such as David Bowie, Glenn Frey and Prince early in the year and Leonard Cohen, Leon Russell and George Michael in the last two months of the year. Throughout the rest of the year we had to say goodbye to a list of high profiled musicians and singers such as Jefferson Airplane’s founder/guitarist Paul Kantner who died on the same day and at the same age as the band’s original female singer Signe Toly !

Others were Earth, Wind and Fire’s leading man Maurice “Moe” White, Prince’s arm candy backup singer Vanity, Keith Emerson and Greg Lake both of Emerson, Lake and Palmer fame, Scotty Moore – the guitar man who built Elvis into a Superstar-, Three Doors Down’s guitarist Matt Roberts, Louisiana’s Accordion virtuoso Buckwheat Zydeco, British musician and TV personality Pete Burns, Henry McCullough who played lead guitar with such superstars as Paul McCartney in Wings and Joe Cocker’s Grease Band, Rick Parfitt, singer/songwriter, guitarist for the British band Status Quo and Nick Menzas who played drums with metal band “Megadeath”.

Together these legends must have sold well over a billion records in their lifetime and we are immensely grateful for them having shared their talent with us.

Rest in Peace, until we meet again on the big stage in the sky.

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Bonamassa’s Unsung Guitar Heroes

joe bonamassaGuitar great Joe Bonamassa pays tribute to the some of the guitar heroes who were never given their due in their own time, but whose influence is still being felt by the in-the-know six-stringers that have followed. There are more, some of whom I’ve added at the end of Joe’s TEN. Of course there are many more in a big wide world, where Billboard and Rolling Stone Magazine are not daily menu items, and the only outlet of talent search is youTube, Vimeo or Daily Motion. Send us you selection and we will update and expose wherever we can. Enjoy

Mike Bloomfield
The opening track of the Super Session album is a great showcase for Mike Bloomfield, who played a Les Paul and was a traditional Chicago-style blues player. He’s never referred to in the same breath as Beck, Page or Clapton but his playing was fantastic. People laud the Super Session album, but the stuff he did with Buddy Miles in The Electric Flag is also incredible. The problem was that, like a lot of guys from that era, Mike was too self- destructive. By the end of his career he seemed set on snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHFPVOEKEfA

Stephen Stills
He’s a great songwriter, but tends to be undervalued for his talent as a guitar player. He’s the flip-side of the guy we’ve just been talking about, Mike Bloomfield. Stills is known mainly as an acoustic guitar player, which does him a disservice. Stills and Bloomfield are both on Al Kooper’s Super Session album [1968], but unfortunately Side A [featuring Bloomfield] tends to get more attention than Side B [which Stills played on]. Last summer, when I did an all-acoustic tour, I wanted my guitar to sound like Stephen Stills’s. But he also likes to play that old Gretsch [electric] guitar.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5f8z1NAzMlI

Robbie Robertson
To some, The Band’s Robbie Robertson is better-known as a songwriter, an activist and an inductee to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame – when he really should be praised as a guitar player. Robbie has an absolutely beautiful style. He’s almost like a soul player. Life Is A Carnival was on The Band’s fourth album, Cahoots, and it’s in the movie The Last Waltz. What he does is deceptive – it looks simple but involves some tricky chords. Once, just for fun, I tried to figure them out. It took hours to really get them right.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Io9tYdvrFgk

Tommy Bolin
My introduction to Tommy Bolin was not via his spell with Deep Purple, I knew him first through his playing with [fusion drummer] Billy Cobham. I bought Cobham’s Spectrum album, and when I heard its title song it absolutely floored me. In many ways, Bolin was in a no-win situation when he replaced Ritchie Blackmore in Deep Purple. A challenge like that would overshadow just about anyone. But if that’s all you know him for, then there’s an embarrassment of other riches out there just waiting to be discovered. I’m picking Stratus from that same Cobham album.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1rX9E8NuRw

Bill Nelson
Bill Nelson is definitely under the radar as far as guitar players go. This song, which appeared on the Be-Bop Deluxe album Futurama, is one of my all-time favourites. I’ve just spent hours looking for some good YouTube footage of it – that’s when my ADD really kicks in – and there’s some great film of his [solo] band The Gentlemen Rocketeers playing Sister Seagull, but very little of Be-Bop Deluxe. But if I’ve learned anything during my time, it’s that the artist’s favourite songs and those of the fans are always different. However, I love this song.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEsqJ-7iCsc

Ry Cooder
You could never describe Ry Cooder as a complete unknown, but he’s not one of those guys whose name comes up at the pub during those discussions about the greatest musicians. He’s just not hip enough. But, along with Rory Gallagher, Ry is my all-time favorite slide guitar player. To really understand his appeal you should see him playing Feelin’ Bad Blues in a scene at the end of the movie Crossroads, starring Ralph Macchio. That’s how I was turned on to him as a kid. What Ry did there is the deepest, most soulful slide playing that I’ve ever heard.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDceJ2m07r0

Danny Gatton (1994)
Danny Gatton is now dead, unfortunately, but he was always the guy with the coolest Telecaster – a real player’s player. He came from Washington DC and could play blues, jazz, rock, country and rockabilly. Nitpickin’ is from a record called Unfinished Business, and it really sums up his style as a player. I was lucky enough to have been mentored by Danny when I was a much younger musician. He’d always let me sit in with him. There’s some real neat YouTube of our first encounter when I was only 12 years old. He was a special guy.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7R4mwOOyEQ

Chris Cain
This San Franciscan guy has the voice of BB King and the chops of Albert King. He’s an absolute blinder of a guitar player and singer, but here’s the unbelievable thing: he plays to about 50 fucking people a night. I don’t go to gigs as a rule, but he recently played this small club in the Valley [in Los Angeles]. We walked in and I thought: “Where is everyone?” But he played great. His vibrato is superb and his records are consistently good – it’s not like he made one great album and then couldn’t follow it up. I just don’t understand it.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hOGptJyMsvI

Sonny Landreth
Sonny may call if he reads this, going: “Hey, I do well.” But any press is good press, right? Native Stepson comes from an album of his called South Of I-10, which features Mark Knopfler. Now, I’ve played guitar for the last 32 years. I’m not an original player, but one of my talents is watching and listening to others and figuring out what they do. With Sonny Landreth I have no concept of where he comes from. He’s a beautiful player and a great singer, and South Of I-10 is a lovely fusion of American and Creole. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqSuhsbePdM

Chris Whitley (2005)
Back in 2000, I opened for Chris at a shithole venue in Indianapolis. Until then I’d never heard of him. He was playing as a solo act – just him alone. We did fairly okay with our power-trio show to maybe 80 people, but then he went on and absolutely flattened the place. He sounded like four guys playing… and that’s before getting into the lyrics, which were like Dylan. He played for 75 minutes without saying a word and then walked off stage. No encore was needed. Indian Summer is from his album Dirt Floor. But you really needed to see him live.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiKKyCsiR6Y

Some of my personal additions:

Paul Kossof – Free
Peter Green – Fleetwood Mac
Jan Akkerman – Focus
Jimmy Thackery -The Nighthawks
Robin Trower – Procol Harum

 

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We Need a Three Kings Day in Rock

Three_Kings_of_the_Blues_by_geertvanleeuwenRock and Roll or better yet its predecessor Mr. Blues, needs a Three King Day for Albert, Freddie and B.B to commemorate the fact that without these three there would not have been Rock and Roll.

There is no denying that all of the great blues and rock guitarists have been heavily influenced by one, two or all three of these gentlemen, in their climb to become rock-n-roll superstars.

B.B. King (9/16/1925 – 5/14/2015)
Albert King (4/23/1923 – 12/21/1992)
Freddie King (9/3/1934 – 12/28/1976)

Many blues players like Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimi Hendrix have been influenced by B.B. King.
Otis Rush, Mike Bloomfield, Jimi Hendrix and Gary Moore were influenced by Albert King. Younger blues players like Joe Bonamassa, Johnny Lang,  Kenny Wayne Sheppard and John Mayer have been influenced by Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix and a slew of British guitar wizards who were in turn strongly influenced by one or all of the Kings.
Guitar players like Peter Green, Mick Taylor, Lonnie Mack, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Clapton were influenced by Freddie King.

You wanna see why I say that, than watch this 1973 video of Freddie King in Sweden. You’ll know why!

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2015 Hall of Fame Inductees

stevie rayThe phrase “he is a legend in his own time” implies strongly that the origin of the word legend lies in the past. Whether it’s unverifiable history, a story passed on for ages, a myth or a much revered person inspiring what over time becomes a legend, no-one can really become a legend in his own time, unless they completely remove themselves from society like Howard Hughes. Yet you can leave it to us to take a word out of its original context and start watering it down to un-inspiring proportions, where everyone gets the predicate “legendary”.

The 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted three true legends this year, 3 men that made a huge impact on Rock and Roll:

Stevie Ray Vaughan, Paul Butterfield and Lou Reed. Stevie Ray took the blues and especially the Texas version of blues to a new level, Paul Butterfield made the blues “white” and introduced the world in the process to some of the best musicians around such as Elvin Bishop, Mike Bloomfield, Amos Garrett and David Sanborn. He introduced Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter and Otis Rush to the mid sixties Chicago rock/blues scene and took the fear away of white musicians in America and England not to sound authentic when playing the blues.

And Lou Reed, after already having been inducted with the Velvet Underground in 1996, added a rare personal induction for his “uncompromising stance in the service of his artistic vision” — often following commercial breakthroughs with daring, experimental projects that initially confounded both fans and critics only to gain recognition decades later.

The Smiths, Nine Inch Nails, Kraftwerk, N.W.A, Sting, and Chic were among acts on the ballot that did not make cut this year.

The ones that did are:

Green Day, Joan Jett and the Black Hearts, Bill Withers and Ringo Starr for a lifetime achievement Award.

A voting body of more than 700 artists, historians and members of the music industry chose the 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame performer inductees. To be eligible for nomination, an individual artist or band must have released its first single or album at least 25 years prior to the year of nomination. The 2015 nominees had to release their first recording no later than 1989.

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Successful Four Piece Bands

4 piece bandsThe four piece band was the early rock and roll success formula. Lead Singer, guitar, bass and drums was the standard outfit, often with a lead singer playing rhythm guitar and/or harmonica. Shortly after rock and roll started to make an impact a fifth person on keyboards was added, sometimes replacing the need for a rhythm guitar.

In the beginning the formats were depending on 2 factors:

The financial split and the stage space available in clubs and venues. In order to perfect their chops most starting bands went “on the circuit”. In the southern US that was called the Chitlin’ Circuit. In Europe it was called the rock and roll circuit. Geographically calibrated, the venues offered weekly entertainment and the bands made sure to build an audience for the next go-around usually 8 to 10 weeks later.

Many of the early rock and blues venues had no entertainment budget and loosely allocated a percentage of the tap for the band. Obviously smaller outfits had a better share. The better and more all around the guitarist was, the less members the band needed. Also the space allotted for equipment was a major factor. Bands needing huge equipment space were in lesser demand. A typical back line was amps and speaker box for each of the guitars (sometimes lead and rhythm guitar doubled up on one amplifier), standard drum kit, and a voice amplifier with echo abilities for the voices. No PA systems or Mixers. No FX pedal boards for guitars. One distortion pedal and after 1967 a Wah-Wah and that was basically it. Keyboards were of the 61 key type version and much later were taken up to 88 keys. Space was limited.

 

The Beatles
Black Sabbath
The Doors
The Who
The Kinks
Queen
Van Halen
Pink Floyd
Led Zeppelin
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Rock-n-Roll Divas

fansRock-n-Roll Divas are bad-ass. Some were destined to be legend material no matter how long or short their career; others grew as rock and roll took them into directions far beyond their dreams and capacity to cope with the fame and fortune. Rock and Roll in its true roots, does not accommodate the normal female psyche, as it has no place for drama.

The women in rock and roll are usually tough as nails on stage and soft as whipped cream in the confinements of their own minds.

Archived in years of passing:

Continue reading Rock-n-Roll Divas

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The Cemetery of Southern Rock

abb 500Probably more than any qualifying grouping of musical genres, it can be said Southern Rock has a devastating propensity to find Rock and Roll Paradise much earlier in life. Absolute greats like Duane Allman and Ronnie vanZant bit the dust in their twenties, while many others like Hughie Thomasson, Billy Powell, Duane Roland, Billy Jones, Frankie and Dan Toler and many more were also plucked long before their legitimate expiration dates. Motorcycles, airplanes, or plane old drugs and alcohol, it seems that hard living is a mandatory exercise in Southern Rock culture.

Here is a not even complete listing of those southern rockers who checked out early.

Continue reading The Cemetery of Southern Rock

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John was not the Only Dreamer

TempelhofYou may think that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.
I believe that there is a plan in place for the innocence of music. I believe that music does overcome all obstacle. I believe that people like Roger Ridley, the original inspiration behind the fabulous organization that is Playing for Change did not live in vain. He shared his wonderful talent and voice for the mere reward of change, but his legacy lies in the words he said when asked why he was not on the big stages of the world: I’m in the Joy Business.

I think joy transcends life and I believe there is a concert stage in the hereafter that features music in eternity. Because really good music never bores. It inspires. That’s why the Main Stage of Rock and Roll Paradise has a new show every time One of the Gifted Ones transpires, and from time to time there is a headliner addition that blows the show out of the park.

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Where Music Legends Live Forever

poster collageWHERE LEGENDS LIVE FOREVER

Every time one of my music heroes passes, I’m slightly torn between sadness and envy. Sadness for all the obvious reasons that come with living and dying and envy because there is another Superstar Jam Concert in Rock and Roll Paradise, that I will not (yet) be able to attend. You may think that’s a strange desire, to go to a concert of dead musicians, but music has been my life since I picked up my first guitar in 1963. I grew up with the tunes of all the GREAT that are now moving on to a new performance platform.

I don’t want to call that place heaven, because I’m not religiously indoctrinated enough to believe that life-after-death has any resemblance with what organized religions want me to believe. Music is and has always been my language and message and all these magnificent performers have contributed more to peace on earth than any religion ever has done.

Many of them started in a time when agents and record companies meant little more than a necessary evil; in a time when contracts were handshakes, without batteries of lawyers to pick words apart and re-formulate them into a language musicians could not understand and consequently got screwed; some so badly that they took their own lives, others died in poverty,

Whether suicide, overdose, medical mishap, accident, natural cause, life’s diseases, these giants left me inspired and indelibly stamped with their music and creativity.

Welcome to the Main Stagemain stage