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Category Archives: rock

The Day the Music Died: Finale – Buddy Holly

buddyholly

1936 - 1959

By now, you know the details of the crash fifty years ago that shocked the music world.  Graham Nash explains it best:

  Graham Nash talks about “The Day the Music Died”

 At 22, the lanky kid from Lubbock, TX  had been re-writing music rules.  At the tender age of 18, Holly had taken the sagging Rock & Roll scene by storm with stark rhythms and the strains of non-traditional instruments.  No hearthrob, Holly’s attraction was purely “the music”.

While Holly was quite a personality, it’s his music that has had the most lasting affect.  Many artists of the 60s and 70s, point to Buddy Holly as a major influence.  A young Robert Zimmerman’s life changed the night he watched Buddy Holly perform on the Winter Dance Party tour in Diluth, MN.  As Bob Dylan, he would also influence generations of music.

More after the jump

 

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Fly High, Free Bird

Billy Powell  1952 - 2009

Billy Powell 1952 - 2009

Another of the original Lynyrd Skynyrd as flown away.  Keyboardist Billy Powell, passed away early yesterday at the age of 56.  Powell was on board the plane that crashed in October of 1977 in Central Mississippi on their way to a performance at LSU in Baton Rouge.  Oddly enough, Powell was scheduled to play with the re-vamped Skynyrd band in Kinder, LA this weekend.

Billy Powell started as a roadie for the early version of Lynyrd Skynyrd.  An accomplished piano player, Powell sat down to test out the keyboards at a prom gig and Ronnie Van Zant liked Powell’s strains on Freebird.  Powell was officially brought into the band in 1972.

Powell survived the 1977 plane crash that claimed Van Zant, Steve Gaines and his sister, Cassie, but suffered severe facial lacerations, almost losing his nose.  In VH1’s Behind the Music, Powell gave a graphic description of the crash, upsetting members of the Gaines and Van Zant families.  Despite the conflict, Powell has been an active member of the revived Lynyrd Skynyrd since 1987.

With Powell’s death, only drummer Artemus Pyle, guitarist Ed King and guitarist Gary Rossington survive.  There’s even been speculation that the band members are victims of some sort of curse called into being from the enigmatic Freebird.

If I leave here tomorrow,
Would you still remember me?
For I must be traveling on, now,
‘Cause there’s too many places I’ve got to see.
But if I stayed here with you, girl,
Things just couldn’t be the same.
‘Cause I’m as free as a bird now,
And this bird you can not change.
And the bird you can not change.
And this bird you can not change.
Lord knows, I can’t change.

Bye bye baby, it’s been a sweet love. Yea.
And though this feeling I can’t change.
But please don’t take it so badly,
‘Cause the Lord knows I’m to blame.
And if I stay here with you girl,
Things just couldn’t be the same.
Cause I’m as free as a bird now,
And this bird you’ll never change.
And the bird you can not change.
And this bird you can not change.
The Lord knows, I can’t change.
Lord help me, I can’t change.
Lord I can’t change.
Won’t cha fly high free bird, yeah.

All very young when their legendary southern rock anthems were born, very few of them will see old age.  However, their Southern Fried Rock will live on with the Me generation, as well as their kids and grandkids.

  Freebird

  Call Me the Breeze

  The Redneck National Anthem

  That Smell

  What’s Your Name?

  Georgia Peaches

Great stuff.  Where is today’s Lynyrd Skynyrd?

 
4 Comments

Posted by on January 29, 2009 in memorials, music legends, rock

 

Another Brick in the Wall…Pink Floyd is Blue Today

Richard Wright, 1943-2008

Rock legend and Pink Floyd founder, Richard Wright, succumbed to cancer yesterday at the age of 65.  Along with the late Syd Barrett, Nick Mason and Roger Waters, Wright hit the scene in 1965 with Pink Floyd and the psychadelic infused The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.

Wright was the keyboardist and sometimes tempest of Pink Floyd who had on-going differences with Roger Waters.  Waters actually tried to kick Wright out of the band in the early ’70s and relegated him to the background on the epic Dark Side of the Moon.  Matter of fact, he didn’t even record on 1983’s The Final Cut. 

As tensions grew between he, Waters, and David Gilmour, Wright left Pink Floyd and formed a new band called Zee that didn’t see much success.  When Waters left Pink Floyd, Wright re-joined his old friends Mason and Gilmour in Pink Floyd in 1985.  In 2005, during “Live 8″ Waters joined his old bandmates for a Pink Floyd performance.  It was the first time they had appeared together in 25 years.

Gilmour, Waters, Mason & Wright

Gilmour, Waters, Mason & Wright

David Gilmour expressed the loss of Richard Wright as such:

“He was gentle, unassuming and private but his soulful voice and playing were vital, magical components of our most recognized Pink Floyd sound,” he said. “I have never played with anyone quite like him.”

Pink Floyd is a Rock institution and we have lost one hip professor.

  The Piper at the Gates of Dawn

  Money, Live 8 “Reunion”

  The Wall, The Anthem of a Generation

 
4 Comments

Posted by on September 16, 2008 in memorials, music legends, rock

 

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Colette’s Corner: Shining a Light on Early Mick & The Boys

In the era of reunion tours and with the resurgence of “classic” artists like Van Morrison and Neil Diamond, Martin Scorsese’s Shine A Light has resonated among die hard Rolling Stones’ and younger generations enamored with the band that has had such an influence on the last 40 years of Rock & Roll.

Perhaps it’s that today’s music is much more contrived and manufactured, but it seems that there is a desire among music listeners to get back to that raw, unbridled performance sound that The Stones typify. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, The Stones have done something that few Rock bands have been able to do — stay relevant throughout their 45-year “tour”. Led by the irrepressible 64 year old, Sir Mick, The Rolling Stones are truly timeless in bridging generations of Rock & Roll aficionados together.

Colette’s most recent submission concentrates on the early Stones and their musical ascent to the court of Rock & Roll royalty:

The new Rolling Stones film by Martin Scorsese gives a bracing account of an (unusually) intimate Rolling Stones concert at the Beacon Theatre, with a quick glance back to the saga of this amazingly hardy, influential and iconic band.

I can’t help recall, though, what the Stones were like when they first scored big during the early 1960s. And I’ve retrieved some telling clips to illustrate the first major phase of their career.

Consider the context and contradictions of their emergence.

They were coming up right alongside the Beatles. In fact, the Stones and Beatles were good buddies and friendly rivals, who clubbed together and swapped women and songs. But they had very different images, ironically so.

The Rolling Stones, led by the well educated (London School of Economics) and upper class Jagger, were considered the scruffy, surly rock outlaws, rebels with a sex appeal that was raw and dangerous. The Beatles, conversely, all grew up working-class in a tough section of Liverpool, but were considered the “nice boys” — the mop-top teddy bears any mother would welcome if a daugher brought one home. In reality, they were hard-driving party-dogs too as they rode the wave to fame.

And hough they shared some influences, the Stones were obviously very different musically than the Beatles.

The Beatles were rockers with an exquisitely melodic and romantic side, and a love of vocal harmony a la the Everly Brothers. The Stones had just one main vocalist and were steeped in down ‘n dirty blues and raunchy R & B. Like a lot of British kids of that era, they worshipped Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters and other gritty Chicago bluesmen.

Before the Beatles became their own composers, they were doing a lot of Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly covers. The Stones, before the Richards-Jagger songwriting collaboration got in gear, were covering Waters and Howlin’ Wolf.

As I kid, I recall the aura of something thrillingly, mysteriously dark and nasty about the Stones. But they were far less theatrical than now. I saw the group at DC Stadium in the mid-sixties, and Mick (dressed in a loud houndstooth jacket) wasn’t dancing around — mostly just leering at the audience with that sensual full-lipped I-dare-you-gaze and singing, sometimes with a tambourine or a little bit in-place Jame Brown-style footwork. Here’s some of my early favorite Stones tunes:

— “Have Mercy”

— “The Last Time” — on the TV show “Shindig”

— “Time is on My Side” — from “Ed Sullivan Show” (Irma Thomas made it a hit first)

Some of their best ’60s covers:

— “Little Red Rooster” (written by Willie Dixon)

— “How Strong My Love Is” (a great tune made famous by Otis Redding, who would return the favor by brilliantly covering the Stones’ “Satisfaction”)

One rap on the Stones was that they were male chauvinist pigs, to use a quaint old expression. Unlike the Beatles songs of romantic love and yearning, the Stones have a huge back log of tunes about bitchy broads, kinky sex and transgressing social norms.

These songs drew a lot of flak when they came out for taunting or outright dismissive treatment of women. Are they sexist? In my opinion: sure, but they’re really more about sexual and soical gamesmanship. They’re nasty, naughty, twisted fun, in a way no other band in the Top 40 could get away with at the time:

— “Under My Thumb” — with the late Brian Jones playing a great marimba riff

— “Get Off Of My Cloud” — the ultimate kiss-off song

— “Play With Fire” — one of my old faves

Overall, the Stones were the most sexually explicit mainstream band of the ’60s. They mocked the Sullivan show for censoring the lyrics in one lusty hit, and put out the great sexual/social frustration anthem of the age:

— “Let’s Spend the Night Together”

— “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction”

You’ll notice in that 1966 “Satisfaction” performance, Mick was starting to dance around more. Gradually, he added a lot more stage shtick — which he was mocked for at first. Some of it was ridiculous — wearing a devil’s cape to sing “Sympathy for the Devil,” etc. In some ways, I actually prefer the Mick who just scorch-eyeballed the camera, rocked out in that sultry voice and made all the little girls go outta their head.

Just for fun, here’s the ultimate Beatles vs. Stones comparison, on “I Wanna Be Your Man” (a Lennon-McCartney tune, written for the Stones) — two of the greatest bands ever, both completely valid on their own terms:

— “I Wanna Be Your Man”

Thanks for another solid contribution, Colette.

I just have to add one to the “trashy women” songs that for me, is one of those generation defining songs.

Honky Tonk Women

Can’t wait for Shine A Light to come out on DVD to experience the richness of Scorsese coupled with the “enthusiasm” of The Rolling Stones. To start my long holiday weekend, I think I’ll crank up Paint it Black.

 

Colette’s Corner: Look Ma, I’m in the Hall of Fame

Don’t want to be remiss in posting about the recent inductees to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  Colette, once again, provides a wonderful dossier on the legendary Leonard Cohen.  I have a few comments on the other inductees following Colette’s post… 

Leonard Cohen:  A Hall of Famer at last…..
            The great Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen was just  inducted into the Rock’n Roll Hall of Fame, an honor well-earned. And  the 74-year old troubadour  just announced he’ll be embarking on his first tour in many years, with dates announced in Canada and Europe.  None, unfortunately, announced yet for the U.S., but a fan can hope — can’t she?
            Leonard Cohen, Canada’s great troubadour, has a songbag that’s deep, varied and stuffed with gems.  Many other brilliant musical artists adore his songs and eagerly cover them.  And his own recordings and live versions of his odes are husky, conversational, yet uniquely moving.
              Born into a Jewish Montreal family in 1934,  Cohen was a Canadian star as a gifted poet, fiction author and composer before his American popularity began, thanks to Judy Collins’ famous interpretation of his dreamy love song, “Suzanne.”  In 1967, Columbia Records brought out “The Songs of Leonard Cohen.” More albums followed, and the use of some of his songs in popular movies (starting with Robert Altman‘s  “McCabe and Mrs. Miller”) brought his brilliantly  tunes to more listeners.    Every wave of new singer-songwriters since has re-discovered him, and cherished his songs.
              To me, Cohen’s wit, lyricism, his ability to celebrate humanity’s angels and demons, and his miraculous turns of phrase and “humanitarian cynicism,” as someone put it, give his work a European flavor and tone.  But his songs are globally admired and performed, as they should be. They speak to the mind, the heart and the intellect at the same time.   A recent documentary about him, featuring a concert in Australia of his songs sung by Rufus Wainwright, Nick Cave and others, is worth a look:  it’s called  “I’m Your Man.”
              I was fortunate to meet Cohen in the early 1990s, during his last U.S. tour.  I had one of those “six degrees of…” connections to him:  we shared a wonderful friend, who had died a few years earlier.  Leonard and I talked about her,   about music, and about his devotion to Zen Buddhism.  (He spent  five years in a Zen monastary in California, and was ordained as a Buddhist monk there.)
             Sometimes when you meet a hero of yours, you are disappointed.  The absolute opposite occured for me in this instance.   Leonard was warm, kind, funny, and open.  As our hour together ended,  I asked him to sign a book I had of his lyrics and poems.  He took a beautiful little ink stamp out of a special case, telling me it spelled out his name in Japanese characters.  He stamped my book, and then wrote a dedication, saying it was for “a member of the family.”  How thrilled I was to be part of that extended “family,” and I still am. 
             Congratulations, Leonard, for the good things coming to you — all deserved.   And here is a small tribute to your genius:
        
The beautiful ballad that started off Cohen’s American popularity:
  — SuzanneLeonard Cohen & Judy Collins, during the 1960s
One of Cohen’s best known, most recorded tunes, “Bird on the Wire”  (a 1979 performance):
A very cool cover of the same song, by New Orleans’ fab Neville Brothers:
== “Bird on a Wire” — The Neville Brothers
One of my favorite Cohen tunes, written to a former friend of his who became a Scientologist  (clip also from the 1970s):
– “Famous Blue Raincoat” — Leonard Cohen
In recent years a cult has developed around this moody,  soaring anthem.  Here’s Cohen performing it:
 — “Hallelujah” — Leonard Cohen
And here is a rendition of it that has its own fervent cult, by the late Jeff Buckley:
 – Jeff Buckley — “Hallelujah”
In the 1990s, Cohen put out some terrific, scarey new songs — sensuous, mordant, darkly prescient.  Here’s one of my favorites, “The Future” —

 — “The Future” — Leonard Cohen

Here’s his great “ladie’s man” anthem,  in a hit version by fellow Canadian Michael Buble — you’d think his style wouldn’t mesh with Cohen’s but give a listen:
 — Michael Buble, “I’m Your Man”
Finally, a marvelous song about getting older, but being a musician at heart forever:
– “Tower of Song”  — Leonard Cohen
And here is a 10-minute clip of his induction ceremony for the Rock’n Roll Hall of Fame, featuring a mini-documentary and Lou Reed’s little speech:  “We’re so lucky to be alive at the same time Leonard Cohen is….”   Yes, Lou, I agree!
 — Leonard Cohen‘s hall of fame tribute,  March 2008

Other inductees from this year’s class include:

John “Cougar” Mellencamp

  Cherry Bomb

Madonna

  Like a Virgin

The Dave Clark 5

  Catch Us If You Can

The Ventures

  Wipeout

Little Walter

  Hall of Fame film

  Wild About You Baby (With Hound Dog Taylor)

Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff who were architects of the “Philly Soul Sound” and who wrote for and worked with the likes of Lou Rawls, The O’Jays and Teddy Pendergrass were also inducted, but I think that warrants an individual post.

 
11 Comments

Posted by on March 24, 2008 in colette's corner, music legends, rock

 

Watershed Rock

rock_star_cat.jpg

So, Colette considers Light My Fire as a “watershed” hard rock song of the boomer generation. She asks a great question. What are some of the hard rock songs that you consider to be influential in guiding rock down different paths from your generation? Here are a few of my submissions….

Night Moves, Bob Seger

Sweet Home Alabama, Lynryd Skynryd

Takin’ Care of Business, Bachman Turner Overdrive

Sweet Emotion, Aerosmith

Tush, ZZ Top

Stairway to Heaven, Led Zeppelin

Back in Black, AC/DC

I Love Rock & Roll, Joan Jett

Addicted to Love, Robert Palmer

Hell is For Children, Pat Benetar  Deleted due to beratement and replaced with an ode to the conflict between men and women.

Rock on.

 
29 Comments

Posted by on March 14, 2008 in memories, Music History, rock

 

Do You Feel Like We Do?

Ahhhh, Peter Frampton.

frampton-comes-alive.jpg

I will admit that recently, I have enjoyed seeing Peter on the “Talkbox” in the Geico Commercial:

And, while I immediately recognized Do You Feel Like We Do, it didn’t really register as nothing more than a “blast from the past”. That, and I was incredulous as to where all of his lovely curls went to. Seeing a gray-haired Peter Frampton, I immediately looked him up on Wikipedia and saw that he is actually turning 58 this year. Say it ain’t so…wow.

A few days ago, I was bustling around town on my way to pick up the youngen from soccer practice and I happened to be listening to one of the plethora of “classic rock” stations along the Gulf Coast. As an aside, classic rock stations are more plentiful than country or pop stations around here, so radio is not as disappointing. As I was making my way through traffic and sitting at a red light, impatiently waiting to turn left, the familiar bass lines of Do You Feel Like We Do came through the speakers.

The musical imprint of this song, in it’s entirety was so strong in that few minutes that it left me speechless. In a split second, I was transported back to the summer of 1976 and my first real foray into love. I had met a guy from the neighboring town, at the ball park where I spent virtually every waking hour during the summer. You see, I was an elite softball player (second base) and I loved it so much that the ballpark was like my church. My parents hated that I loved playing ball so much, which at 13 made it even more appealing.

During that summer is when I met Marty. Marty was a baseball player and also hung out at the park quite a bit. He lived not very far and could ride his bike there. Between games and during tournaments, we began hanging out and talking. He was the first boy who ever really listened and cared about what I had to say. Besides, he was fine. Long, dirty blond hair, muscular and he had just a little bit of a chipped tooth that to my 13 year old eyes, was heavenly. He asked me out, I said yes, and the phone calls started.

Now, I’ve never been much of a “phone talker”, but I enjoyed my phone calls with Marty. He would call and then play music for me that he liked. We never really had a lot of conversation but we did have a lot of communication — through music. Before Marty, my musical world had mainly been made up of England Dan & John Ford Coley, Barry Manilow and Seals & Crofts. I recently had ventured out into the land of The Eagles and Hall & Oates and You Sexy Thing and Afternoon Delight were my current favorite songs. I had really never heard of Lynyrd Skynyrd or The Allman Brothers (other than Cher married Greg and had Elijah Blue) and “rock” bands were for “the heads”.

However, that pubescent summer, Marty took me down a varied musical path. The first stop was Peter Frampton and the Frampton Comes Alive album. Over the phone, Marty played Do You Feel Like We Do. I can still remember sitting in the hall at my parents house and laying on the floor listening to Frampton sing through the Talk Box and thinking that it was THE coolest thing I had ever heard. Marty was kind and caring and explained to me that Frampton was not saying what I thought he was saying in one part of the song…”No, he’s saying ‘I want to THANK you.’ “, Marty corrected.

Alas, Marty ended up being just a summer romance. He went to a different middle school in the next town and though we would later go to the same high school, it seemed that eons had passed between the time we had spent those wonderful nights on the phone exploring music to when we awkwardly met up early on in our Freshman year. We’d smile and make small talk, but somehow we both knew that we couldn’t recapture what we had.

I don’t know what exactly happened to Marty. We didn’t run in the same crowd in high school and it’s been over 25 years since high school. All I know is that when I heard that full version of Do You Feel Like We Do the other day, I could see Marty’s face so clearly. A young, sweet boy who anxiously and deftly escorted a young music maven into the world of rock and roll.

Like Peter Frampton, even though we’re all a little older now, we still rock.

ETA:  Here’s a little perspective on Peter Frampton and Frampton Comes Alive!  This album was the top-selling album of 1976, out-selling Fleetwood Mac’s hallmark debut album, Fleetwood Mac.  It is the 4th best-selling album of all-time, selling 6 million domestically and 16 million internationally.  The only albums to out-sell this one were:  3rd — Eagles Live!; 2nd — Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band 1975-85; 1st — Garth Brooks Double Live.

Peter Frampton was a technical advisor on Almost Famous for his input on the band Humble Pie, of which he became a member — at age 18.

  Natural Born Boogie — Humble Pie

He was also a member of The Herd, at age 15….

  I Don’t Want Our Lovin’ to Die — The Herd

Peter Frampton has been playing professionally since he was 10 years old and his rock pedigree is long.  Therefore, he shall be forgiven for the debacle that was Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

  Billy Shears

 

 

 
6 Comments

Posted by on January 24, 2008 in music legends, rock, that's life

 
 
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