2016 – 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. Continue reading David Bowie 1/2016
January 18, 2014 – Dennis Hardy “Fergie” Frederiksen was born May 15th, 1951, in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
He started his musical career at the age of 13 and he played clubs and pubs at the age of 15 with a group called the Common People. In 1975, while attending college at Central Michigan, he was asked by his friend Tommy Shaw to replace him as the lead vocalist for the band MSFunk, as Shaw was leaving to join Styx.
The band went on to tour with Styx and Heart, where Dennis began performing his trademark back-flips during live shows to fire up crowds. Frederiksen was with MSFunk for a year before disbanding in 1976. While living in Chicago, he helped form a local progressive rock band called Trillion with keyboardist Patrick Leonard. Trillion’s debut album was released in 1978 and was produced by Gary Lyons (producer of Foreigner’s debut album); all but one of its nine tracks were co-written by Frederiksen. The band went on to tour with Styx and Heart, where Frederiksen began performing his trademark back-flips during live shows to fire up crowds, a gimmick he would continue with later bands. Frederiksen would leave the group after one album, and was replaced by Thom Griffin.
May 21, 2013 – Trevor Bolder (Uriah Heep) was born on 9 June 1950 in Kingston upon Hull, East Yorkshire, England. His father was a trumpet player and other members of his family were also musicians. He played cornet in the school band and was active in his local R&B scene in the mid 1960s. Inspired by The Beatles, in 1964 he formed his first band with his brother while taking up the bass guitar.
In his teens he took the direction followed by many other young males of his generation and switched to the guitar, at which time he formed The Chicago Star Blues Band with his brother. Stints in other Hull-based bands like Jelly Roll and Flesh came later, with Bolder eventually trading in his guitar for an electric bass; meanwhile, food was kept on the table through a series of day jobs that ranged from hairdresser to piano tuner. He first came to local prominence in The Rats, which also featured fellow Hull musician Mick Ronson on lead guitar.
August 10, 2011 – Jani Lane, (Warrant) born on February 1, 1964 as John Kennedy Oswald later changed to John Patrick Oswald. The youngest of Eileen and Robert Oswald’s five children, John grew up just east of Akron in Brimfield, along with his older brother (Eric) and 3 older sisters (Marcine, Michelle and Victoria). Eric was an accomplished guitarist and Lane himself learned to play drums, guitar and piano by ear at age 6 with his brother, Eric and sister, Vicky, guiding, teaching, and participating with him. Lane grew up listening to Cleveland rock station WMMS “The Buzzard”), and was introduced to all types of bands and music by his brother, Eric. With his sister Vicky’s connections in the music scene with many bands and with his parents Bob and Eileen’s aid, he quickly made a name for himself at a very young age. Lane played drums under the name “Mitch Dynamite” in clubs by age 11, again with the prompting of his sister and her boyfriend’s band “Pokerface”, he started his climb to bigger and better things. (“Mitch Dynamite” is listed as the drummer in the credits for Warrant’s Latest and Greatest CD). Throughout the years, Lane would sometimes jump behind the kit to play with his band, and he had played the drums in various formats and gigs, always enjoying “jam sessions” at home and in public with his brother and sister as back-ups.
By the time Lane was 11, his siblings had left for college or marriage. He graduated from Field High School in 1982 with many options available to him in the immediate future, including football scholarships at Kent State and Ohio State, drama scholarships, etc. He was an Honor Roll and above-average, intelligent student from kindergarten through high school. He chose his passion much to the chagrin of his parents, who wanted him to continue his education.
After making a name for himself in Ohio, Jani relocated to Florida in 1983 with Dorian Gray. He eventually formed Plain Jane in FL with future Warrant bandmate Steven (Chamberlin) Sweet and longtime friend/bassist Al Collins. It was at this time Lane adopted the stage name “Jani Lane.” Lane got the name from his German grandparents’ pronunciation and spelling of Johnny as “Jani.” They said it as Yay-nee and that stuck. While living in FL, Lane began vocal training with vocal coach/trainer Ron Feldman.
Jani, Al and Steven recorded the first Plain Jane 4-track demos at their rented house in Winter Park, FL before relocating to CA in the spring of ’84. Jani loved FL and was not interested in moving to Los Angeles at first but the music scene on the Hollywood Sunset Strip seemed like the place to be if a band wanted to get a record deal so they rented a trailer and headed west. They broke down in almost every state on the way to CA, leaving the boys broke by the time they landed at the Hollywood Bowl Motel. They put the last of their change together, bought a quart of milk and a loaf of bread and made sandwiches with mustard packets while taking turns calling their parents for cash.
Now living in Los Angeles, the boys took various odd jobs to survive. Struggling to make ends meet as a musician, Lane resorted to working in a pornographic video warehouse. It was harder to pay the bills in CA, so the band and new road crew plus a few girlfriends pooled their wages and lived in a 2 bedroom condo rented by new Plain Jane guitarist Paul Noble. At one time there were 13 people living in the crowded space. Everyone pitched in to have a stage show built that included a spinning drum riser. The band rehearsed for months until Plain Jane was ready to take on Hollywood.
By 1985, Plain Jane had become a regular feature in the L.A. club circuit and opened many shows for a band called Warrant. Coincidentally, Plain Jane’s bassist and guitarist left the band on the same day Warrant’s singer and drummer quit. It seemed as though the stars were lining up for the camps to merge into one monster of a rock band. Erik Turner, who had founded Warrant in July 1984, was impressed by Plain Jane’s songwriting and vocal performance, and invited Lane and Sweet to jam with his band at Hollywood’s db Sound in September 1986.
After generating more notoriety on the club circuit, Warrant began to attract the attention of record labels. Following an abortive deal with A&M records over a contribution to the soundtrack for the motion picture Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, the band signed with Columbia Records. The Columbia deal came via the partnering of Warrant and manager Tom Hulet (known for working with The Beach Boys, Elvis Presley, and others). In true heavy metal fashion, Lane bought and smashed a black Corvette with his share of the money from the band’s record deal advance. Tom Hulet then became Lane’s mentor and friend until his death from cancer in 1993.
The group began to work on its legendary debut, Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich, a process that led Lane into a psychiatric hospital for a nervous breakdown after he caught his best friend having an affair with his girlfriend. Once he fully recovered, Lane recorded his vocals and the album went on to be one of the biggest-selling records of the glam metal era.
As lead vocalist with Warrant, Lane wrote all of the band’s material including four Top 40 hit singles: “Down Boys”, “Sometimes She Cries”, “Big Talk” and the number 2 Billboard Hot 100 hit “Heaven” for Warrant’s debut double platinum album, which peaked at number 10 on The Billboard 200. Lane also wrote another four Top 40 hit singles: “Cherry Pie,” “I Saw Red,” “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and “Blind Faith” for the second album, the double platinum Cherry Pie in 1990, which peaked at number 7 on the Billboard 200. Lane also co-wrote and performed with Warrant the song “The Power” in the 1992 movie Gladiator. The band also released their third album in 1992, the critically acclaimed Gold record Dog Eat Dog which peaked at number 25 on the Billboard 200.
Even though the band’s follow-up Cherry Pie reached double platinum ranking over time, it failed to meet the debut’s success; this, combined with the emergence and popularity of grunge, led to Warrant being dropped by their label. Lane left for the first time in 1993 to pursue a solo career (also enforced by the death of his friend Tom Hulet) he returned several months later, helping the band to secure a new record with Tom Lipsky of CMC International. The band then recorded Ultraphobic in 1995, Belly to Belly in 1996, Greatest & Latest in 1999 and a cover album Under the Influence in 2001.
Lane left Warrant again in 2002 to pursue a solo career. He released Back Down to One in 2003, but shortly after was admitted to a rehab center for alcohol and drug-related exhaustion. He rebounded, and after a few acting roles and appearances on compilations, attempted to restart his own version of Warrant. Lawyers for the original band quickly struck this down. He later participated in VH1’s reality series Celebrity Fit Club. He left for the last time in 2008, citing writing differences.
In summer 2010, Lane toured with Great White, filling in for singer Jack Russell, who was recuperating from surgery after suffering internal complications.
In a genre of music where survival of the fittest is not just a cliché but a way of life, Jani Lane embodied the spirit of a decade of excess, hedonism, and rock & roll. As the lead singer of Warrant, he helped to propel the band into the upper stratosphere with such hits as “Heaven,” “Down Boys,” and “Cherry Pie.”
On August 11, 2011 Jani was found dead at the Comfort Inn Hotel in Woodland Hills, California. Although no official cause of death was determined, it was most likely alcohol poisoning related. He was 47.
A mysterious identification note was found on Warrant singer Jani Lane’s person when his body was discovered. The note, written by a friend, said simply ‘I am Jani Lane’ and contained a phone number. Law enforcement sources revealed that this was not the first time such a note had been written in case someone found the rocker, who had not carried formal identification for for some time.
Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash tweeted: ‘Just heard about Jani Lane. What a shame. RIP man.’
Poison frontman Bret Michaels wrote: ‘We’d like to offer our deepest condolences to the family of Jani Lane regarding their loss. Respectfully, Bret and all at MEGI.’
VH1’s Jennifer Gimenez said: ‘It is very sad and my heart is saddened to hear the news that I lost my lovable friend Jani Lane.’
Motley Crue bassist Nikki Sixx tweeted: ‘I just heard the sad news about Janie Lane. So hard to swallow when people have kids. RIP.’
And comic Jim Florentine wrote: ‘So sad to hear about the passing of Jani Lane. He just taped an episode of That Metal Show 3 weeks ago and was in great spirits. RIP Buddy.’
Stryper frontman Michael Sweet posted online: ‘I’m still in shock… I was just sitting in a dressing room with him less than a month ago. Had I known, I would have spent more time with him.
‘He was a good-hearted guy with a gentle soul. I know he had a tough life and many battles, but who doesn’t? He seemed to be genuinely working so hard at sorting things out and getting things in order. It’s a true shame.’
April 5, 2007 – Mark St.John (Kiss) born Mark Leslie Norton in Hollywood, California on February 7, 1957. St.John was Kiss’ third official guitarist, having replaced Vinnie Vincent in 1984. He started out as a school teacher and guitarist for the Southern California cover band Front Page, before joining Kiss.
By this point, Kiss had done away with its trademark makeup and costumes, but the group was enjoying a career renaissance. The lone Kiss album on which St. John appeared, “Animalize,” re-established the group as one of the world’s top arena metal bands. The album spawned the popular MTV video, “Heaven’s on Fire” (the only Kiss video to feature St. John).
March 4, 2004 – John McGeoch (Siouxsie and the Banshees) was born August 25th 1955 in Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland
He acquired his first guitar when he was 12 and first learned to play guitar playing British blues songs, including the repertoire of Hendrix and Clapton. In 1970 he played in a local band called The Slugband. In 1971 he moved to London with his family, and in 1975 he began to attend Manchester Polytechnic, where he studied art.
McGeoch had a degree in fine art and an ongoing interest in photography, painting and drawing. He provided some of the cover art for his future band The Armoury Show, years later.
He also played with a number of bands of the post-punk era, including Magazine; Visage and Public Image Ltd.
After joining Siouxsie and the Banshees in 1980, McGeoch entered a period of both creative and commercial success.
September 6, 2003 – RobertPalmer (Power Station) was born 19 January 1949 in Batley, Yorkshire, England. He was known for his distinctive voice and the eclectic mix of musical styles on his albums, combining soul, jazz, rock, pop, reggae and blues.
He found success both in his solo career and in the supergroup Power Station, and had Top 10 songs in both the US and the UK. His iconic music videos for the hits “Simply Irresistible” and “Addicted to Love“, featured identically dressed dancing women with pale faces, dark eye makeup and bright red lipstick. Sharp-suited, his involvement in the music industry commenced in the 1960s, covered five decades and included a spell with Vinegar Joe. Among other awards he was a two time Grammy Award winner with “Addicted To Love” and for “Simply Irresistible”.
January 11, 2003 –Mickey Finn (T-Rex) was born Michael Norman Finn on June 3rd 1947 in Thornton Heath, Surrey, England.
Often confused with other musicians by the same name, Michael Norman Finn (apart from T. Rex) only toured as a sideman in the 1960s with Hapshash and the Coloured Coat. After Bolan and T.Rex’s demise, he worked as a session musician for The Blow Monkeys and The Soup Dragons.
When Tyrannosaurus Rex leader Marc Bolanhad enough of the excessive lifestyle of his original T-Rex partner Steve Peregrin Took, he invited Mickey Finn as percussionist and sideman to finish Tyrannosaurus Rex’s 4th album in 1969 titled “A Beard of Stars” and later, into the 1970s incarnation of the glam rock group, T-Rex.
The album was released in March ’70 and a commercial success. It was rumored that Bolan had hired Finn for his good looks, and because he admired his motorcycle, rather than for his musical ability. Finn was unable to recreate the complex rhythmical patterns of his predecessor, Steve Peregrin Took, and was effectively hired as much for a visual foil for Bolan as for his percussion. Continue reading Mickey Finn 1/2003
June 6, 2002 – Robbin Crosby (Ratt) was born Robbinson Lantz Crosby on August 4, 1959 in La Jolla, California. His dad was a teacher and wrote important historic documentary books about California.
In the mid 1970s Crosby played in the San Diego bands Mac Meda, Metropolis, Xcalibur and Secret Service. In 1980, Crosby was in the band Phenomenon which also featured Parramore McCarty later of Warrior and released one single. The same year he also recorded a live demo with the band Aircraft, which also featured Rob Lamothe, later in Riverdogs with Dio/Whitesnake/Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell.
Crosby joined the Los Angeles rock band Ratt, in 1981 just after the name change from Mickey Ratt. In 1983 the band scored a recording contract and Crosby would end up co-writing many of Ratt’s songs including “Round and Round”, “Wanted Man” and “Lay it Down”. The album Out of the Cellar went to triple platinum based on Crosby’s co-penned “Round and Round”.
February 14, 2002 – Mick Tucker (the Sweet) was born in Harlseden, Northwest London on July 17th 1947.
As a boy, his first interest was drawing art. By fourteen he had changed to drums, influenced by Sandy Nelson, Buddy Rich, and Gene Krupa. Tucker’s father bought him a drum kit but only if he take’s drumming seriously. Hubert Tucker encouraged his son even getting him his first gig, sitting in for Brian Bennett of legendary British beat group the Shadows at a local workingman’s club. “He did well”. say’s Tucker’s wife, Janet, “If he had known who he was replacing, he would have been so scared!”
In 1965, Mick and vocalist Ian Gillan (Deep Purple) formed a soul band Wainwright’s Gentlemen and embarked on a career in pop music, playing around pubs and clubs. Vocalist Brian Connolly replaced Gillan when he moved on to DeepPurple fame, while Wainwright’s Gentlemen kept playing a mixture of R&B, Motown, and early psychedelic sounds. The band split in 1968.
He then became a founding member of the band “Sweetshop” in January 1968 along with Steve Priest, Brian Connolly, and Frank Torpey, who was later replaced by Mick Stewart who was himself succeeded by Andy Scott. The name “Sweetshop” was a reflection of a sugary trend in Rock and Roll with bandnames like Marmalade, Strawberry Jam, Clockwork Orange, Tangerine Peel etc. and was shortened to “The Sweet” in 1968 as a name that instigates all of the sweetness of flower power.
Sweet became one of the main glam rock acts in the 1970s. During the early years of 1971 and 1972, Sweet’s musical style followed a marked progression from the bubblegum style of the first hit, “Funny Funny”, to a Who influenced heavy rock style supplemented by a striking use of high-pitched backing vocals. The band achieved notable success in the UK charts, with thirteen Top 20 hits during the 1970s alone, with “Block Buster” in 1973 topping the chart, followed by three consecutive number two hits in “Hell Raiser” and “The Ballroom Blitz” both in 1973 and “Teenage Rampage” in 1974. Their first self-written and produced single “Fox on the Run” in 1975 also reached number two on the UK charts.
Sweet extensively toured the US and had a strong following in America. On an objective view Mick Tucker was a very talented drummer with a range of complex rhythms who could have helped any band considerably. Steve Priest said of Tucker “He was the most underrated drummer that ever came out of England,”. ″He was the powerhouse of the band. He was technically marvelous. His timing was impeccable, and yet he had a lot of soul as well and he really felt what he was playing.” Tucker was able to improvise tirelessly and played a seemingly never-ending flow of creative solos. Tucker began and ended his drum solos with his rendition of Elmer Bernstein’s theme from the 1955 film The Man With the Golden Arm.
Tucker also used two projection screens that was above his drum riser. One screen played a videos of him playing the drums, simultaneously the other video showed him playing timpani. He would trade off solos with these videos, then came out front and play the timbales along with a fast Christmas-style recording. Just before the band would come back, he would play the Bernstein melody on tubular bells and timpani. Tucker tried to make sure his solos appealed to all of the audience. Tucker understood that a great performance consisting of great played technique and presentation in equal doses.
His style reminded of an early Keith Moon. Mick was one of the few double bass drummers that didn’t let the second bass drum get in the way of a swinging tune like ‘Ballroom Blitz.’ He had a great feel on double bass, played them effortlessly.
“And those guys knew how to have fun,” Cheap Trick drummer Bun Carlos once said. “We’d call them back on stage during our encores and jam on ‘Let It Rock.’ Mick would play my kit with the 26″ bass drum and just rock out with us. I’d hop up on the riser with him, playing guitar and watching him play. We had some great times together.”
Other drummers who where influenced by Tucker fans are J and Snowy Shaw (King Diamond, Dream Evil, Mercyful Fate, IllWill, Notre Dame and Memento Mori).
Jack Irons of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, and Wallflowers stated of Tucker, “Mick was a great drummer.” “He had that fluid, ’60s/’70s rock ‘n’ roll freedom. His drumming was super-tight and musical, technical, and rocking.”
Snowy Shaw, said of Tucker, “Mick’s tastefulness, precision, and strong signature put him at the very top of the list of drumming heroes I had when I was trying to master the profession,” he says. Technically, he was right up there with Ian Paice and John Bonham. Like a kid in a candy store, I devoured his selection of trademark tricks and licks, which he delivered so musically, and with conviction and grace like no one else. It may have been Peter Criss who first got me into drums, but it was Mick Tucker whose drumming most influenced me and who taught me how to play music.”
In 1997 Tucker had a bone marrow transplant from his brother to combat his leukemia. He had recurring infections however, before succumbing to the illness at the hospital in Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire, Southeast England. He was 54 years old when he died on 14 February 2002.
February 9, 1997 – Brian Connolly was born on October 5th 1945 in Govanhill, Glasgow. Whilst the true identity of Brian’s father was never officially made public, his mother was a teenage waitress named Frances Connolly who left him in a Glasgow hospital as an infant whilst he was possibly suffering from meningitis. He was fostered, aged two, by Jim and Helen McManus of Blantyre and took their family name. In his earliest years Connolly was also affectionately known as “snowball” referring to his almost white blonde hair. In a radio interview, Connolly reported that singing was a large part of growing up since there was no television, and that he was regularly called upon to sing for family and friends. Connolly has credited the Everly Brothers as being his earliest musical influence. After inadvertently discovering his lineage he eventually reverted to the name Connolly. Numerous sources have incorrectly asserted that he was a half-brother of the late actor Mark McManus (who found fame in the title role of detective series “Taggart”) but they were not related ( Mark “Taggart” McManus was actually the nephew of Brian’s foster father)