Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Hardest Working Man in Show Business

Today in rock history, the Godfather of Soul died in 2006 after being hospitalized in Atlanta. James Brown was 73 years old. I'm sure we've all heard about his heirs squabbling over his assets (and his remains). Let's hope all that's settled and that James can rest in peace. Meanwhile, let's celebrate his life and remember that "It's a Man's Man's World." Thanks to for the info, keep on rockin', and Merry Christmas to you all!

PS: Personal to Mr. Whoamus: thanks for being my inspiration and for all the great posts you put up day after day!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

DOLI Llamas Reunion World Tour, Part 2

This is aimed again at my handful of constant readers who may remember that I put up a post back in February noting the auspicious start of my "work" band's gig, dubbed the "Reunion World Tour," which was extremely tongue in check, as we've only played cafeterias in state office buildings. We once again coaxed Fast Eddie and John O out of retirement (they don't work for the State anymore) to join Llama Dave and myself to play a Christmas gig at work. So we've had two stops in our "world tour," and now we're essentially done for the year. Please join me in enjoying "route 66." Keep on rockin', and happy holidays!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Charlie Mac at the Hammond Organ, Part 2

You constant readers (of which I may have a couple) may remember back in August I put up a post about how I managed to get my hands on a free vintage Hammond organ. I didn't know nuttin' about playin' the thing back then (and I still know next to nothing now), but at least now I can (almost) play a tune, rather than just experimenting with the various sounds it can make. So bear with me as I pay tribute to one of Minnesota's own with a little "Like a Rolling Stone". Let's hope someday I can figure out what to do with the other hand! Happy Holidays, and keep on rockin'!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Who are you...

Today in rock history, eleven people died at a 1979 Who concert at the Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati, Ohio. The fans were trampled when they were trying to reach unreserved seating. An episode of WKRP in Cincinnati later discussed the incident on American television. It was The Who’s first tour after Keith Moon’s death three months earlier. While I don’t remember this tragedy at the time, I do remember the sensitive treatment of the incident on the “WKRP” show “In Concert” that aired on 2-11-80. It may have helped; there’s since been a national ban on “festival” seating. “WKRP” was always one of my favorite shows (let’s hear it for Bailey Quarters, who in my mind, was way hotter than Jennifer Marlowe); I’d pay big bucks (well, maybe $29.95) for a DVD of the first season! Since I’m notoriously cheap, I’m still looking for it to show up at a thrift store. Well, I’m getting off track here – is this blog supposed to be about the Who or “WKRP”, or a little of both? Well, here is some vintage Who from that tour. And for you "WKRP" fans, here's the famous "Turkey Drop" video (thanks to crystalcheats for the video). Thanks to and for the info. Keep on rockin’, and please, no running!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I'm So Glad...

Today in rock history, Cream played their final two concerts in 1968 at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Over 10000 fans attended while thousands more were turned away. British groups, Yes and Taste were supporting acts. It seems odd to fans that Eric Clapton didn’t think very highly of the music created by his band with Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker. Maybe Eric was "so glad" that the band had run it's course... Well, he must have seen at least the commercial value of those tunes because they did get back together back at the same venue in 2005 for a reunion. Here's "Crossroads" from that concert; not the version we're used to hearing, but a good one nevertheless. Thanks to for the info, and keep on rockin'!

Friday, November 14, 2008

"Third Stone From The Sun"

John “Mitch” Mitchell: 7/9/47 – 11/12/2008

Doing some fact checking today, I was astounded to learn that he started playing with Jimi when he was still a teenager. When I, as a 16 year old, heard him on the “Are You Experienced?” album in 1967, I was just blown away by the power and technical sophistication of his drumming. Now that I know that he was just a “kid”, only three years older than me at the time, it hits me again how really good he was. His passing reminds us that we’re all mortal and don’t have too much time on this little rock, the third stone from the sun. Let’s take a look at this vid of Mitch in his prime, and celebrate his life. It should be noted that he died while on a break during an "Experience Hendrix" tour, playing the music he loved. He will be missed… Thanks to for the info, and keep on rockin’!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Dino’s Song

Today in rock history, Dino Valente (born Chester (Chet) William Powers, Jr.) was born in 1943. He was an early figure in the Village folk scene in the early ‘60’s, and wrote the seminal love and brotherhood song, “Get Together,” later recorded by the Airplane and the Youngbloods. After relocating to San Francisco in 1963, he became pals with David Crosby, Roger (Jim) McGuinn and Mike Clarke, and reportedly turned down an offer to join the Byrds. He was best known for forming Quicksilver Messenger Service with John Cippolina, David Frieberg, and Jim Murray in 1964, although he didn’t stay in the band very long – he was ousted for frequent drug busts. He served about 5 years of a 1 to 10 stretch in Folsom, and rejoined the band in 1969. The band lasted through 1979 and Valente died in 1994. Let’s celebrate his life by checking out “Dino’s Song,” written by Valente, which became his signature tune. It’s also a song I can play on guitar, bass or drums, which makes it instantly attractive to me! Thanks to and for the info, and keep on rockin’!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Hey, Hey We’re the Monkees…

and we like to monkey around…Today in rock history, Last Train to Clarksville and The Monkees albums were certified gold in 1966. Their first single and first album both reached number 1 in the U.S. and proved to be a very successful start for the manufactured band.  I know quite awhile ago I promised a Monkees blog, and I guess today’s the day.  We’ve all heard the rumors and legends of Don Kirschner’s “PreFab Four” but I, in my middle teens at the time, was only interested in how they looked and how they sounded.  Like many teenaged boys in the mid-sixties, I was honing my “look,” and these guys, with their long hair, mod clothes and zany humor were fantastic role models for a would-be hippie like me.  Their show made watching TV on Saturday mornings cool again (hey, it wasn’t like I was watching cartoons or anything like that).  It wasn’t until much later, when the show had a revival in the mid-80’s, when I realized that they were a cartoon too.  While their antics and humor was indeed cartoonish, they pioneered the rock video, with their musical “vignettes.” A lot of folks (myself included) didn’t realize that, at first, even though they were all talented musicians (except for “Circus Boy” Dolenz, who had to be taught to play the drums for the show), they weren’t allowed to play their own instruments, only winning that right later in their careers when they had the album and ticket sales to back up their demands.  Against the better judgment of Kirschner and his ilk, they band went on tour early in the show’s run, to raving audiences and screaming fans, and managed to pull it off, performing as an early “power trio.”  When the TV show folded in 1968, the group fizzled, leaving behind a legacy of six gold albums, numerous reunion shows (I saw Jones, Tork and Dolenz at the MN State Fair in ’86, sans Nesmith, who declined to participate), and a lasting contribution to American pop music.  And just to show that they were fairly hip, here's a clip of Mike Nesmith and Frank Zappa, changing places (and noses).  Thanks to and for the info, and keep on rockin’!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Ooh, that Smell!

…The smell of death’s around you…Today in rock history, three members of the band, Lynyrd Skynyrd (named after their teacher, Leonard Skinner), were killed in 1977, in a fiery plane crash. Out of respect, their 1977 album, Street Survivors, was pulled from stores and re-released without the flames on the album cover that were smothering the band. More recently, the remastered CD version of the Street Survivors album used the original cover art work, flames and all. In another really weird coincidence, one of the singles from that album was called “That Smell,” from which you can draw your own conclusions (believed to have been directed at guitarist Gary Rossington, who did get drunk and drive his new car into a tree). The band came back from disaster and is currently performing with Johnny Van Zant, Ronnie's younger brother, at the helm, and a couple of the surviving original members, and continues to record music and tour today. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 13, 2006. Thanks to and for the info, keep on rockin’, and stay away from light planes!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Messin' With The Kidd

Today in rock history, Johnny Kidd was killed in 1966 in a car crash in Manchester, England, at the age of 26. Kidd and his band, The Pirates, first made the U.K. charts in 1959, with “Please Don’t Touch,” and again the following year with “You Got What It Takes,” “Restless” and the number 1 song, “Shakin’ All Over.” By the time the official British Invasion hit, Johnny Kidd and The Pirates had faded with Kidd finally leaving the group in 1966. But before Kidd died, in 1965, The Guess Who / Chad Allan and The Expressions would take their version of “Shakin’ All Over” into the top 40 in the U.S. And many years later, Billy Idol. "Shakin' All Over" was one of those songs that was covered by about just about everyone, including the Who on "Live at Leeds." A great song, and here are two versions, one by Mr. Kidd and one by Mr. Idol; they couldn't be more different! Enjoy! Thanks to for the info, and keep on rockin'!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Wish You Were Here

.. This one's for you, Rick!

Richard Wright - 28 July 1943 – 15 September 2008

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Local Legends

I’ve written in past entries about the Wednesday night jam at Renegade’s Bar and Grill in Burnsville, MN, where anything can and does happen. Well, last night was no exception – local legends Larry and Dick Weigand showed up to jam with the band. Larry (bass) and Dick (guitar) were members of the seminal Minneapolis band Crow from 1967 to 1972. As far as I know, they may still be together and playing gigs, as the recent video below shows. They had a national hit with the song “Evil Woman,” which is distinctive for its unusual horn line. Well, as I understand it, they are no horn players in the band and the horn parts were dubbed in over the band’s objections, so I don’t know it was actually the horn part that made it a hit. Back in the day, I was a big fan – I think I owned all three of their albums. At any rate, it would have been great to sit in with these legendary musicians, but Howie wasn’t about to give up the drum chair, so I had to content myself with watching the action. Here is a clip from the band in their prime and a later vid of them doing their other hit "Cottage Cheese" at the Medina Ballroom. Enjoy, and keep on rockin!

Friday, August 29, 2008

I Got a Line...

Today in rock history, the original members of the band, Spirit, reformed in 1976 after a 5 year split. They were joined on stage at a reunion concert by Neil Young, for an encore of Bob Dylan’s, “Like a Rolling Stone.” The reunited group released the album, Son of Spirit earlier in the year. They would split again, and Jay Ferguson would make it into the top 10 with the single, “Thunder Island,” in 1978. As a kid, I was always fascinated by this band. With a guy named "Randy California" and a guy that was completely bald (Ed Cassidy - also Randy's stepfather)- a real novelty in the '60's)- they were certainly disctinctive and memorable. In one of my high school bands, we covered their hit "I Got a Line on You Babe" and it became a set-closing, rave-up kind of tune for us. So indulge me my walk down memory land as we enjoy this song one more time! Ok, I admit, it has really cheesy "special effects," but that only adds to its sixties charm! Thanks to for the info, and keep on rockin'!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Happy Jack

Today in rock history, Bernard Alfred "Jack" Nitzsche died of a heart attack in 2000 at the age of 63. Jack was an Academy Award-winning producer, arranger and song writer, who worked with likes of Sonny and Cher, Leon Russell, Phil Spector, Neil Young, Graham Parker, etc. He was married to Buffy Ste. Marie for a time, too. A lot of folks don't know that had also played piano with the Rolling Stones on such hits as "Paint it Black" and "Let's Spend The Night Together." He was also Crazy Horse's piano player for awhile. As is the case with some of the most brilliant artists, he suffered from depression and substance abuse problems, and died way too young. So let's celebrate the life of Happy Jack and enjoy some vintage Nitzsche with "The Lonely Surfer." Thanks to and for the info, and hey, surf's up, dude!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

“No Junior Ginger Bakers…”

Today in rock history, Peter Edward "Ginger" Baker was born in 1939 in London. Can you believe he’s almost 70 years old? He’s still going strong too, if his performances at the Cream reunion concerts in 2005 are any indication. I was able to see him with Cream at Veteran’s Auditorium (a horrible place to see a concert, by the way!) in Des Moines, Iowa in the fall of 1968, which was a high point of my young life at that point. I remember manic energy and ear-splitting volume, if nothing else, from that concert…Little known bits of trivia about Ginger: Baker always insisted on having his two bass drums nailed to the floor at the venue he was playing live. In 1965 he played at the Shaftesbury Hall, Cheltenham which was then a part of St. Paul's College. The stage boards were new and of high theatrical quality. Baker pulled a hammer and four inch nails from his bag and proceeded to nail his drums to the floor. The caretaker flipped and started to shout at him, but Baker persevered and completed the task. As a firmly established jazz drummer, he dislikes being referred to as a "rock drummer." Finally, the title of this piece comes from when Bruce Springsteen was looking for a drummer for the E Street Band, which Max Weinberg eventually took over, the ad required "No Junior Ginger Bakers.” Ok, now I think that would be high praise: I did aspire to be one in my youth, and I’m still trying! Let’s enjoy some vintage Ginger Baker, thanks to and for the info, and keep bangin’ them skins!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Dr. Bob

I always like to try to surprise my good friend and Dylan expert, Mr. Whoamus, with some Dylan trivia, so I'm gonna try with this post. I know he's read Chronicles Vol 1, where Dylan tells about a trip to Princeton to get an honorary degree, and how Bob was pissed off about his introduction and had to be talked into staying by his good buddy David Crosby. This visit was immortalized in the song "Day of the Locusts," but what Mr. Whoamus probably doesn't know, and what was revealed in a recent interview with Crosby in Rolling Stone magazine, that Crosby's presence was immortalized in the line "The man standing next to me, his head was exploding;" Crosby proudly exclaims, "That's me!" So here's to you, good buddy, I hope I stumped you, and while we're at it, let's enjoy the song in question. Keep on rockin', and we'll see you later!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

"Charlie Mac at the Hammond Organ..."

After searching the Craig's List listings for what seems like years (actually, it's only been a few months), I've located a Hammond organ that a nice older couple in Richfield wanted to give away - you haul, of course. Well, I checked it out and discovered Hammond's diamond in the rough - an M-100 genuine tone wheel spinet organ in great shape, built sometime in the mid '60's. Some husky friends and I managed to get this monster on a truck and home last night and now it's sitting proudly in my garage. Now, as you know, I'm a guitarist and drummer, and I don't play a lick of keyboard, but I've been having fun pounding on the keys and checking out that great Hammond sound. Now if I can just find a Leslie (rotating) speaker that somebody wants to give away, then we'll be in business.

Some famous players of the M-100 were Matthew Fisher of Procol Harem (sorry, Mr. Whoamus, I mistakenly credited "Whiter Shade of Pale" to Gary Brooker), John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and this famous dude - the immortal Booker T. Jones, playin' them "Green Onions" (which was played on an M-100 without the Leslie that most folks use). Check it out, and let's get funky!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Dream a Little Dream…

Today in rock history (7-29-08), Mama Cass Elliot died in 1974 from a heart attack. Her only solo hit was the song, “Dream a Little Dream of Me,” which received backing by the rest of The Mamas and The Papas. The song, and its parent album, were released to fulfil contractual obligations in 1968. It was the last hit recording by the band, making it to number 12. A popular legend about Elliot is that her vocal range was improved by three notes after she was hit on the head by some copper tubing shortly before joining the group, while they were in the Virgin Islands. Elliot herself confirmed the story; in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine in 1968 she said,
" It’s true, I did get hit on the head by a pipe that fell down and my range was increased by three notes. They were tearing this club apart in the islands, revamping it, putting in a dance floor. Workmen dropped a thin metal plumbing pipe and it hit me on the head and knocked me to the ground. I had a concussion and went to the hospital. I had a bad headache for about two weeks and all of a sudden I was singing higher. It’s true. Honest to God.” However, according to people who knew her well, this was not true - Elliot always had a standout singing voice. Her friends said that the pipe story was used as a more politically-correct explanation for why John had kept her out of the group for so long, because the real reason she was not accepted sooner was that John considered her to be too fat. After her death, an urban legend arose that Elliot died choking on a ham sandwich. Speaking to the press shortly after her body was discovered, the police noted that a partly eaten sandwich had been found in her room and speculated that she may have choked while eating it. When the coroner's autopsy was performed, no food was found in her trachea and the cause of death was determined to have been heart failure and that she had died in her sleep. But by then, the specious story was already making the rounds and the real cause of death was rarely discussed. Elliot died in the same flat, No.12 at 9 Curzon Place, Mayfair that The Who drummer Keith Moon would die in, a little over four years later. Ooh – déjà vu! I’ll bet that that flat goes for a pretty penny (or shilling, as the case may be) today, just for the morbid curiosity value! Here is Mama Cass singing her swan song. This is a rather swarmy live version from the Smothers Brothers Show in 1968. Truly icky! Thanks, as always, to HYPERLINK "" and HYPERLINK "" for the info, and keep on rockin’, carefully, and don’t sing with your mouth full!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Rockin’ Roadhouse Blues!

As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, I’m a big fan of Dave Lambert, who hosts the Roadhouse Jam at Renegade’s on Wednesday nights. Getting to know Dave a little bit, it seems like he is the consummate jammer – he’ll jam with anyone, anytime! Here he is sittin’ in with a guitar player known as Pistol Pete live from Bozley's Blues Jam on 6-1-08 doing a song called "The Highway is Like a Woman" – get ready for some searing, smokin’ blues! Keep on rockin’, and we’ll see you at Renegade’s next Wednesday!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Live from the Slide On Inn...

Just came back from the annual family reunion. This year's episode was held at my cousin's in Kansas City. My brothers and I started a tradition 3 or 4 years ago of having a big jam session while we're together - this is one of the few times we do get together every year. And we do get better every year...we managed to rehearse a bit and crank out 13 or 14 tunes and didn't sound too bad. I am ably assisted by brothers Mike on guitar and vocals (he just got himself a Martin, so I'm jealous)and Jack on guitar and bass. We were joined by my son Cody on drums, and Orion (my niece's husband) on guitar and vocals, so it's really a multi-generational affair. This year I debuted a couple of songs I wrote on the assembled family members - a captive audience, it's true. Here is a snippet of a song I wrote called the "Talkin' Bob Dylan Blues," and I dedicate this one to Mr. Whoamus, who is (and if you read his blog "Who Am Us Anyway?", you know) a big fan. Of Dylan, that is, not necessarily of my song stylings! Until next time, keep on rockin'!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

I’m a Seeker and a Knower in a Six-Man Band…

… No, what you really are is…dead…Today in rock history, “Windy” by The Association hit number 1 in the U.S. at the beginning of the Summer of Love in 1967. It stayed there for 4 weeks, making it their biggest hit. The song was written by a friend of the band, while still in her teens, and was included as one of the 22 songs on a demo tape she submitted to producer Bones Howe. Ruthann Friedman also got to contribute some vocals to the successful track in an all night recording session. But tragedy struck on August 2, 1972, when Brian Cole, one of the founding members of the band, was found dead in his Los Angeles home of an overdose of heroin. Geez – what happened to him? Wasn’t the Association that squeaky-clean bunch who appeared in three-piece suits as the lead-off band at Monterey Pop? Kind of like a button-down version of the Beach Boys…Currently, the band includes Russ Giguere, Larry Ramos, Jim Yester, Del Ramos, Bruce Pictor, and most interestingly, Jordan Cole (son of Brian) on keyboards who joined in 1999. The Association still tours, playing up to 70 dates a year, mostly on bills with other similar styled acts of that era, like the Grass Roots, the Buckinghams, Tommy James, Gary Puckett, etc. In 2003, they were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame. Here they are with a live version of the tune from 1967 (no lip-syncing here!). Thanks to and for the info, and keep on rockin’!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Ride the Tiger

On this date in rock history, Jefferson Starship released their second album after changing their name from Jefferson Airplane. Red Octopus and the “Miracles” single taken from the LP were both smash hits in 1975. The album would hit number 1 in the U.S. 2½ months later, while “Miracles” peaked at number 3 in the middle of October that year. “Play On Love” and “Tumblin'” were also standout tracks from the best-selling album. I remember seeing the Starship in the Spring of 1975 at the University of Iowa. One of their standout tunes from that concert (I believe it was their opening song) was “Ride the Tiger,” and the lyric “Look to the Summer of ‘75/all the world is gonna come alive” sticks in my mind. Thinking about this now, 33 years later, it seems so fitting that they would be singing that back then. First of all, it rhymes – they’d have to come up with something like “Look to the Summer of ‘08/the whole world is what we create” to have a similar vibe, and it’s just not the same. Also, for me, it was a time of optimism – middle of the decade, I wasn’t quite 24 years old, summer’s almost here, it was a time to “come alive.” So let’s relive this tune and see if we can muster up some enthusiasm – c’mon people, it’s the Summer of ’08! Thanks as always to and for the info, and keep on rockin’!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

We Were The World...

While not happening on this specific day in rock history, this is a serious blast from the past. You know it but you obviously haven't thought about it in a long time. Remember the superstar track, "We Are the World", which raised money for famine relief in Ethiopia? The performers read like a who’s who of mid-eighties pop culture: Dan Aykroyd, Harry Belafonte, Lindsey Buckingham, Kim Carnes, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Sheila E, Bob Geldof, Daryl Hall, James Ingram, Jackie Jackson, LaToya Jackson, Marlon Jackson, Michael Jackson, Randy Jackson, Tito Jackson, Al Jarreau, Waylon Jennings (wait a minute – Waylon Jennings was there? Ya gotta be kidding me!), Billy Joel, Cyndi Lauper, Huey Lewis, Kenny Loggins, Bette Midler, Willie Nelson, John Oates, Jeffrey Osborne, Steve Perry, The Pointer Sisters, Lionel Richie, Smokey Robinson, Kenny Rogers, Diana Ross, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, Dionne Warwick, and Stevie Wonder. The year was 1985, and the song reached #1 on the Billboard chart on April 17th. The song was also Billboard’s #1 song of 1985, which meant it was the fastest-selling single of that year. There are some good stories behind the recording... like all the artists arrived in limos, except the Boss, who showed up behind the wheel of a pickup. The song has been parodied in the Simpsons (duh) and also Saturday Night Live. Flashback to the '80s for real! Our local radio station broadcast a dumbed-down version of the song where an announcer would dub in the name of the singer or singers doing a solo verse. As if we couldn’t recognize distinctive voices like those of Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Ray Charles, or Cyndi Lauper! It may interest you to know that John Denver, who had been actively campaigning against world hunger in the 1980s, had offered to participate in the recording, but was turned down. Speaking of ol’ Waylon, he wasn’t there for long - he left the recording session due to a dispute over the lyrics. The dispute started when Stevie Wonder announced that he would like to substitute a line in Swahili. After a few rehearsals, a full-fledged creative conflict broke out. Geldof pointed out that Ethiopians do not speak Swahili. Michael Jackson then proposed to keep his original line "Sha-lim sha-lingay" but after a few rehearsals, it too ran into opposition, because it does not have a meaning. Eventually Al Jarreau cried, "We can make a meaning" and came up with "One World, our word" which was changed one last time in "One world, our children." Alright already – we get it! So here it is one more time, the “We Are The World” video. Feel free to remember it any way you want to! Thanks to and for the info, and keep on rockin’ – in a socially responsible way, of course!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Still The One...

My wife and I just rode another MS 150 this past weekend, our third. This is a 150 mile bike ride from Duluth to the Twin Cities to raise money for multiple sclerosis. We never cease to be amazed at the folks who just keep on riding and volunteering for this great cause year after year. The MS Society does an excellent job of supporting this group of riders (3200 strong this year) with well-staffed rest stops, support vehicles, overnight accomodations, and entertainment for the weary riders. I was trying to think of a musical theme for this weekend, and I happened to hear the old Orleans tune "Still The One" blasting from one of the team tents at the camp ground in Hinckley Saturday night. You know, that sums up the committment that so many people give to this weekend - year after year, they're still the ones out there riding and volunteering to raise money for this worthy cause. So here's to you, the riders, the volunteers, the corporate sponsors...year after year, you're still the ones that care so much and give so much. Keep on believing that we can find a cure, and we'll be right there riding along with you. Thanks for a wonderful time, and we'll see you next year!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Twist and Shout...

Today in rock history, the Isley Brothers released “The Angels Cried” in 1957. The song for Teenage Records was their first single; it had a doo wop flavor to it, and was backed by “The Cow Jumped Over the Moon.” Neither track was a hit and they soon moved on to RCA Records where they recorded their infectious track, “Shout.” Eventually, in 1962, “Twist and Shout” cracked the top 20 and began an intermittent run of hits for the New Jersey trio, that extended into the 1970s. The Beatles covered “Twist and Shout” early in their career. The day the song was recorded, Lennon was suffering from a cold, and was drinking milk and sucking on cough drops to soothe his throat. Even so, he produced a memorable vocal performance, a raucous, dynamic rocker. He later said his voice was not the same for a long time afterward, and that "every time [he] swallowed, it felt like sandpaper." Another famous appearance of an Isley Brothers tune was when “Shout!” was performed by the fictional band Otis Day and the Knights in the 1978 movie Animal House. Though Day's voice was dubbed, both the musical and visual performances were unforgettable, and a record release also became a hit. So let’s hear it for the Isley Brothers, who are one of the few groups to have long-running success on the Billboard charts placing a charted single in every decade since 1959 and as of 2006 was still charting successful albums performing under a repertoire of doo-wop, R&B, rock 'n' roll, soul, funk, disco, urban adult contemporary and hip-hop soul in the last six decades with a variation of lineups ranging from a quartet to a trio to a sextet to finally a duo. Here the Isley's perform "Shout!" in 1959. Would that all of us could be this tall and skinny! Thanks, as always, to and for the info, and keep on rockin’!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Great Balls of Fire!

This is a special two-for-one holiday weekend edition of “We have All Been Here Before,” in which I examine rock and roll scandals and a well-known rock and roll drummer.

Big day in rock and roll history, fans! On this date, Fats Domino had one of his live appearances cancelled in 1955. Police were worried that the show at the Connecticut Ritz Ballroom might turn into a “rock and roll dance.” (Really? A rock and roll dance? Scandalous!) The authorities referred to a similar occurrence at a New Haven arena where near riots had to be broken up. “Ain't It a Shame” had just debuted on the R&B charts. Also, Jerry Lee Lewis had 34 of his 37 concert dates in the U.K. cancelled in 1958 when it was discovered that his new bride with him was also his 14 year old cousin. The Killer’s career was all downhill from there. When rock and roll was in its infancy, with black R&B “race music” making the transition to a wider acceptance with white audiences, these “scandals” were numerous and all too common. Remember the Alan Freed payola scandal? And Chuck Berry being jailed under the Mann Act for “smuggling” an underage girl in from Mexico? Parents didn’t like to think of their precious little teens writhing around the dance floor, listening to suggestive lyrics, because it smacked too much of – dare I say it – sex!? And ol' Jerry Lee just couldn’t help himself – could be that, down in Loosiana where he hailed from, marrying your 14-year old cousin was an accepted practice, but the world recoiled in horror at the impropriety of it all. Nowadays, a good scandal can be counted on to sell lots of records and concert tickets, but not in the uptight ‘50’s. Here’s a little sample of the Killer in his prime.

On this date, Ringo Starr released one of his very best albums in 1992. Time Takes Time featured outstanding tracks like “Weight of the World”, “Golden Blunders” and “Runaways.” It was his first studio album since Old Wave, which wasn't even released in most countries. Since 1990 when the All-Starr concerts began, Ringo has been recording and touring on a regular basis. My good bud Mr. Whoamus and I and our spouses took in an All-Starr band concert back in ’01, and we would both agree that it was one of the finest events we’ve ever had the pleasure to attend. Ringo had a knack for bringing together second-tier rock stars who, by themselves, probably couldn’t sell out an arena; put ‘em all together, and you’ve got an interesting evening of eclectic entertainment that promises something for everyone. Here’s a sample from one of Ringo’s All-Starr tours. Thanks, as always, to for the info, have a safe and happy holiday weekend, and keep on rockin’!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Jammin' At Renegade's

Wednesday nights your host can usually be found at the open mic rock and blues jam at Renegade's in Burnsville, hosted by Dave Lambert's Road House band. I usually play drums, but I screwed up my courage the other day to play some guitar and debut a song I wrote, "Million Dollar Chords," with the Renegade's crowd. Here are a couple of brief samples of a couple of the jams. Sorry for the low quality of the vids - I did a quick transfer of a larger file, and it didn't come out too well, but you get the idea...Thanks to Dave, Tiger, Howie, Dan and the whole Renegade's crew, and we'll see you there next Wednesday. Keep on rockin!

Wouldn't It Be Nice...

Today in rock history, the Pet Sounds “masterpiece” by The Beach Boys was released in 1966. It contained “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” “Sloop John B.,” “God Only Knows,” “Here Today,” “Caroline No” and other songs. A box set of the recording sessions of Pet Sounds was released by Capitol Records in the 1990s. How many times have we heard that Paul McCartney picked it as one of the best albums of all time? It is doubtful that without McCartney’s endorsement, the album would have received as much attention as it did. I don’t remember paying too much attention to it at the time: I had dismissed the Beach Boys as a washed -up surf band past their prime by 1966. How wrong I was! Well, with or without McCartney’s nod, it is by anyone’s definition a great album; as a matter of fact, it has been ranked the #1 best album of all time by the New Musical Express, The Times, Mojo Magazine, and Pure Pop; and #2 in the best albums of all time by Rolling Stone magazine. “God Only Knows” received notice as the first pop song with “God” in the title. Brian Wilson (who had stopped touring with the group by late 1965) actually recorded the majority of the backing tracks with the help of studio musicians Barney Kessel, Carol Kaye and the ubiquitous Hal Blaine, among others (part of LA’s infamous “Wrecking Crew” of studio musicians, who showed up on hundreds of pop songs, jingles, and commercials), while the rest of the band was on a three-week tour of Hawaii and Japan. He also pioneered multi-track recording, using one of the first available 8-track recorders of the time. The majority of the music-buying public in those days probably never realized that it wasn’t their faves playing the backing tracks on their favorite recordings; it was this group of veteran studio musicians cranking them out. That explains why the drum sound was often the same on a lot of these recordings; it was usually Hal Blaine poundin’ the skins! At any rate, let’s relive the genius of Brian Wilson with this track from “Pet Sounds.” Thanks to and for the info, and keep on rockin’!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


On this date in rock history, Keith Relf, former lead singer for The Yardbirds, died in 1976. He was electrocuted at home while tuning his guitar. The image of the guitarist getting a shock while simultaneously touching the guitar and microphone is a familiar one – remember the scene in “Almost Famous” when this happened to Billy Crudup’s character on stage? I think it had something to do with the old tube amps of the day not being grounded properly and when you touched the guitar and mic stand at the same time, you completed the circuit and zap! – you got a jolt. It happened to my fellow bandmates in my high school bands enough that to this day I can’t stop myself from approaching an open mic with trepidation. But to get electrocuted like Relf did – man, he must have been tuning his guitar plugged into a half-stack Marshall turned up all the way, while sitting in a metal chair in his swimming pool during an electrical storm! Well, to dispel that image, let’s watch some vintage Yardbirds, and observe a moment of silence for the unfortunate Mr. Relf. Thanks, as always, to for the info, and keep on rockin’ – safely!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

"Four Dead In Ohio..."

Today in rock history, four students were shot and killed by the National Guard at Kent State University in Ohio during an antiwar demonstration in 1970. Neil Young reacted to the senseless slayings by writing and recording the song, “Ohio,” with Crosby, Stills & Nash, the very next day. “Four dead in Ohio...,” David Crosby apparently wept, as the recording of the song faded out. It was a tragic time; I was a freshman in college at the time and remember seeing many grim faces among my friends (after all, it could have been any one of us) as we vowed to "Kill the pigs!" We didn't, of course; youth needs to have an outlet whenever a wrong has been committed, even if it's tough talk and no action. Here CSN&Y performing the song in 1974, and you can still feel the anger, the hurt and the betrayal in their performance...Thanks to for the info and say a prayer for the fallen...

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Pride of Flint, MI

... and I'm not talkin' about Michael Moore here... On this day in rock history, the members of Grand Funk Railroad sued manager Terry Knight in 1972 for $8 million in unpaid song royalties. John Eastman, brother-in-law of Paul McCartney, was chosen to take over the band’s business affairs. Later that year, Knight showed up at rehearsals for the band’s, In Concert album, and legally confiscated their equipment in the ongoing legal battle. It wasn’t until the summer of 1973 that Grand Funk would hit it big on the singles chart with “We’re An American Band.” “The Locomotion,” “Some Kind of Wonderful” and “Bad Time” were other top 10 hits for the band. At the time of the suit, the band was doing well with their E. Pluribus Funk album. It's a real bummer, having your equipment confiscated, legally or otherwise. I remember seeing Grand Funk in the fall of 1970 when they were still a Big Thing. I gotta tell ya, they had to be the LOUDEST band I have ever heard, which was probably a contributing factor to why I wear hearing aids today! At any rate, let's check out Mark, Don and Mel playing "Inside Looking Out" in 1969, before their problems with greedy manager Terry Knight began. As always, thanks to for the info, and keep on rockin'!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I'm a Soul Man...

... well, maybe not really... Today in rock history, the Blues Brothers made their first appearance as a musical act on Saturday Night Live, in 1978. Paul Schaffer introduced the band, dressed as Don Kirshner, before they tore into “Hey Bartender,” one of the better tracks from their debut album. The "Blues Brothers" was a strange concept; born of a comedy routine and Belushi's recently-acquired obsession with obscure blues, R&B and soul music, coupled with some of the best studio musicians around: Donald "Duck" Dunn, Steve "The Colonel" Cropper, Paul "The Shiv" Schaffer, Tom "Bones" Malone, "Blue Lou" Marini, etc., that formed a soul band that was as tight as a fist and as mean as a junkyard dog (ok, I'll stop with the cliches now). It also brought this obscure music - songs like The Chips' "Rubber Biscuit," Floyd Dixon's "Hey Bartender," etc. - to a mainstream audience of rabid SNL fans who perhaps bought their albums, thinking it would be more comedy, and getting this serious soul music instead. Was it all a lark? Well, maybe not: In "Stories Behind the Making of The Blues Brothers", a 1998 documentary included on some DVD editions of the first Blues Brothers film, Cropper noted that some of his peers thought that he and the other musicians backing the Blues Brothers were selling out to Hollywood or using a gimmick to make some quick money. Cropper responded by stating that he thought Belushi was as good as (or even better than) many of the singers he had backed; he also noted that Belushi had, early in his career, briefly been a professional drummer, and had an especially keen sense of rhythm. So - serious music or a big sellout - check this clip out, and you decide...thanks as always, to and for the info, and keep on rockin'!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Hey Grandma...

... you're so young... Today in rock history, Alexander "Skip" Spence was born in 1946. Spence was a guitarist in an early line-up of Quicksilver Messenger Service before Marty Balin recruited him to be the drummer for Jefferson Airplane. After one album with Jefferson Airplane, their debut Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, he left to co-found Moby Grape, once again as a guitarist. You may remember Moby Grape as the band (besides having a great name for a rock band, as Dave Barry would say) with the album with the band posing in front of a funky general store somewhere and one of the band members was giving "the finger." Pretty controversial at the time, and Columbia records later put out another version of the album cover with the offending digit lopped off. I was fortunate to have the original version, which included a poster of the cover, which I promptly put on my closet door - apparently my parents didn't "get it," because they never made me take it down. My album also has the labels reversed, which is I suppose is relatively rare - hey, I wonder how much I could get for it on eBay? No, I think I'll hang on to it, and listen to "Hey Grandma" one more time. It's timeless music, a clever mix of r&b, blue eyed soul, pop, and country. They didn't last too long, as groups in those days came and went, but have left behind a great legacy of recorded music. So let's enjoy their music, and celebrate the life of Skip Spence. Thanks to and for the info, and keep on rockin'!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

British Invasion

Today in rock history, the first album by The Rolling Stones was released in 1964. It hit number 1 in the U.K. two weeks later, and was the first non-Beatles album at the top in exactly one year, following Please Please Me and With the Beatles. Meanwhile, The Beatles claimed fourteen of the top 100 hits on the U.S. singles chart this week. I was all of 13 at the time and remember seeing these strange looking, slightly scary dudes playing rhythm and blues, of all things, when all of the other "pop" groups were playing, well, pop music. Of course, the hayseeds in our town didn't know how cool it was at the time, but I did have a picture of Brian Jones on my closet door. He had the cool hair, see, that we all aspired to. Well, we all know where he is, and the rest of the Stones keep rollin' on. Here's a tune from that era from a Stones show on French television; note the incredibly cheesy guitars that Brian and Keith are playing; and the knowing smirk on Brian's face, that says "We're lipsyncing this song and we don't care!" Thanks to for the info, and keep on rockin!

Friday, April 11, 2008

There is a House...

in Hibbing...Today in rock history, Bob Dylan made his solo performance debut when he opened for John Lee Hooker in 1961. It was held at Gerde’s Folk City in New York, where Dylan also met Joan Baez for the first time. He strummed songs that would appear almost a year later on his debut album, including “House of the Rising Sun” and “Song to Woody.” Dylan would record the album later in the year, after appearing on songs by Carolyn Hester and Harry Belafonté. Here he is performing "House," which is a tune more usually associated with the Animals, but Bob gives it a good reading nevertheless...

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Let Me Take You Down...

... because I'm going to...Today in rock history, producer George Martin was promoted to the Head of A&R (Artists and Repertoire) in 1955 for the Parlophone label, owned by EMI in the U.K. He recorded many soundtracks and comedy albums before beginning work with The Beatles in 1962. Today he is 82 years old and still going strong. He has also passed the torch to a new generation – his son, Giles, is also a producer. He very nearly didn’t end up working with the Beatles, as, after an initial meeting with manager Brain Epstein, he was “rather unimpressed” with the demo tape made at Decca he listened to, but he did like the sound of Lennon and McCartney’s vocals. At a later meeting with Epstein, he was impressed with his enthusiasm and agreed to sign them without seeing them or hearing them play live, which was rather unprecedented in those days. The Beatles auditioned for Martin on 6 June1962, 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 didn't like, to which Harrison replied, "I don't like your tie". That was the turning point, according to Smith, as Lennon and McCartney joined in with jokes and comic wordplay that made Martin think that he should sign them to a contract for their wit alone. Well, witty they were, and talented too, and Martin ended up having a long working relationship with the boys, that continues to this day – Martin was involved with the Beatles Anthology in 1995 and Cirque du Soleil and Love with Giles in 2006. So let’s enjoy the genius of the “5th Beatle” in “Strawberry Fields Forever,” where he and Geoff Emerick turned two very different takes into a single master through careful use of vari-speed (changing the speed on a tape deck) and editing. Thanks to and for the info, and keep on rockin’!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Another 15 Minutes...

… or was it 20? A chance meeting in a Burnsville Wendy’s led me to my latest shot at fame last night. I’d heard from the fella that overheard my conversation with my wife about learning to play the harmonica that Renegade’s Bar in Burnsville has an open jam every Wednesday night. So I trucked on up to Renegade’s last night and reconnected with my new found friend, who runs sound for a Twin Cities band called “Plain White Toast.” I was invited up to sit in on drums (I’m not quite brave enough to try guitar yet…maybe next week) where I managed to make it through a CCR medley and that old blues chestnut, “Red House.” It was great fun and I’d like to give a big shout out to Nick, Dave and Tiger (and of course, to Howie, for letting me use his drums), and all the folks at Renegade’s, for making it so much fun and helping me to feel at home. To tide you over until next Wednesday, here's a little blues by the master. Check ‘em out at,, and, and keep on rockin'!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Here We Come...

Walkin' down the street...Today in rock history, the last episode of The Monkees TV show was broadcast in 1968. It was their 58th show filmed in a little over 2 years. The series, starring Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork, was officially cancelled (as was Batman), by the hosting network a few months later. Tork would be the first to leave the group, later that same year, and his face would be conspicuously absent on the cover of the group’s next album," Instant Replay." I was always a big Monkees fan. You have to remember that they were big in my formative years - age 15 to 17 - and they appeared on Saturday morning TV, just like the cartoons I always watched when I was younger. It was probably just as well that they got cancelled - they were getting pretty weird there toward the end, no longer the cute little living dolls that we counted on to make us laugh every Saturday morning. Mickey had curled his hair and was probably smoking dope between takes in his dressing room, Nesmith was getting sick of it all, Davy had taken tambourine-shaking to the limit, and Peter - well, Peter was still goofy, it's true. So let's take a look back at the Monkees in their prime, and you can see why they were called "The Pre-Fab Four" before anyone had heard of "The Rutles." Thanks as always to for the info, and keep on rockin!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Eve of Destruction

The other day I was engaging in one of my favorite pastimes - browsing the cutout bin at my local record store for bargains. I came across a brand new Rhino re-issue of "P. F. Sloan's Greatest Hits," still in its plastic wrapper, a lucky find. For those of you who aren't familiar with Mr. Sloan, he was one of the pioneers of the folk-rock scene in L. A. in '65 and '66; writer of such tunes as "Secret Agent Man" for Johnny Rivers,"Where Were You When I Needed You?" for the Grassroots, "Let Me Be" and "You Baby" for the Turtles, among others; he was the mystery vocalist on Jan and Dean's "The Little Old Lady from Pasadena," and an accomplished writer, producer and studio musician. He was also a performer; when I heard this album of tunes from the heyday of his career, they just knocked me out; they are still as relevant and fresh as they were over 40 years ago. Oh, and he also wrote this little ditty for Barry McGuire - you may have heard of it...

Monday, March 17, 2008

Had To Cry Today

Today in rock history, Rick Grech (Blind Faith) died in 1990, from drug related causes. Born in Bordeaux, France in 1946, Grech was a versatile, accomplished, and sought after British rock musician. He originally gained fame in the United Kingdom as the bass player for the progressive rock group “Family.” In the spring of 1969, former Cream guitarist Eric Clapton and former Traffic frontman Steve Winwood formed the supergroup Blind Faith; in need of a bassist, they immediately recruited Grech, whom they'd both jammed with when Clapton was in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and Winwood was in the Spencer Davis Group. Grech recorded the first Blind Faith album with Clapton, Winwood, and drummer Ginger Baker, a former bandmate of Clapton's in Cream. Their self-titled debut album was regarded as a disappointment by critics, but Cream and Traffic fans in America enjoyed it, and the quartet toured the U.S. to support it. Clapton was disappointed with the quality of the music and the performances, and Blind Faith called it quits. After Blind Faith, Grech was active as a studio musician and made two unsuccessful attempts to form rock groups, but he eventually hooked up with another supergroup, KGB, in 1974. Consisting of Grech on bass, Michael Bloomfield (ex-Paul Butterfield Blues Band and Electric Flag) on guitar, Carmine Appice (ex-Vanilla Fudge, Cactus and Beck, Bogert and Appice) on drums, Barry Goldberg on keyboards, and Ray Kennedy (co-writer of "Sail On, Sailor") on vocals, the group released its homonymous debut that year. Grech and Bloomfield immediately quit after its release, stating they never had faith in the project. The album was not critically well received. Eventually Grech grew tired of the rock scene and retired in 1977, returning to Leicester to sell carpets. He eventually developed a drinking problem, and in 1990 he died due to a brain hemorrhage. Let’s celebrate Rick’s life with this video from Blind Faith’s brief career. As always, thanks to www. and for the trivia, and keep on rockin’

Personal to Mr. Whoamus - check out what Clapton's playing - another Tele attack!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

He's a 'Bird

Today in rock history, Eric Clapton left The Yardbirds in 1965 due to musical differences with the other band members. Clapton wanted to continue in a bluesier mode, while the rest of the group preferred the more commercial appeal of the soon-to-be-released, “For Your Love.” The band proved to be a fertile breeding ground for lead guitarists Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Jeff Beck, who all got their start there. I think at one time, in 1966, Beck and Page were in the group at the same time, resulting in the single "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago”, which features their twin lead guitar attack (with future band mate John Paul Jones brought in to play bass). Unfortunately, no other recordings exist that showcase their twin lead artistry, and Page ended up playing bass on some of their recordings and live shows. What a waste! Jim McCarty and Chris Dreja reformed the Yardbirds in the 1990s, with John Idan handling bass and lead vocals, and touring regularly since then with a number of guitarists and harmonica players passing through their ranks. According the Total Rock website, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page are to possibly rejoin the Yardbirds for a reunion tour some time in 2008, and wouldn’t that be cool! Here is a sample of the “new” Yardbirds. Thanks to and for the trivia, and keep on rockin’!

Friday, March 7, 2008

High Grass Dogs

On this date in rock history, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers played the first of seven sold out dates at The Fillmore in San Francisco in 1999. It was a return to playing live after a two year break. Performances from The Fillmore gigs were filmed and released later in the year on the home video, High Grass Dogs: Live from The Fillmore. The 90 minutes of footage includes renditions of songs from throughout Petty’s career. A strange name for a concert, but then, maybe it means something to Mr. Petty. If you saw them at the Super Bowl half-time show, you know that Petty and the Heartbreakers are still out there layin' 'em down. Here's a preview from the Petty documentary film, "Runnin' Down a Dream." Thanks to for the trivia, please visit, and keep on rockin'!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Dynamic Duo

The long-awaited gig has come and gone. I played a couple of half-hour sets with the remnants of my "work band," the DOLI Llamas, today at a work party. We had to do it as a duo, 'cause Dave, our intrepid piano player,was called away on a family emergency. We gave it our best shot, though, and here we are "Under the Boardwalk." That's my friend John on vocals and guitar, and, as always, keep on rockin'!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

"Milk - It's What the Cowsills Drink!"

Today in rock history, Billy Cowsill died in 2006 at the age of 58 of complications brought on by alcohol and drug abuse. You may remember the Cowsills, a “bubblegum” music group formed in 1965 by Billy and his brothers Bobby, Barry, Pauly, sister Susie, and mommy Barbie. There may have been some other relations in there too, but you get the idea. They were an enormously popular pop group, known for their Beach Boys-type harmonies, which had a number of top 10 hits from 1965 to 1971. I actually went to one of their concerts when I was a freshman in college in the fall of 1969. I know – what was I thinking? I was restless and bored, and it was free, probably. At any rate, let us celebrate Billy’s life by watching this video of “The Rain, The Park, and Other Things,” that made it to #2 on the pop charts in 1967. Check out the big gap in the lead singer’s front teeth – apparently the kids were too busy for orthodontia. Thanks to and for the trivia, and keep on rockin!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Billy Ward and the Dominos

The great thing about "the internets" is how you can think of something, then something else, then do a little research, and within minutes. come up with a fully-formed blog out of a half-baked idea. I've got a gig coming up with my work band "The DOLI Llamas." We're playing a couple of Drifters tunes that I'm learning the bass parts for. I got to thinking...Drifters...Clyde McPhatter...hmm, where did he come from, where did he get his start? A few clicks and we have Billy Ward, who died on this date in 2002. He founded the doo wop group "Billy Ward and the Dominos" in 1951, where Clyde McPhatter (and later Jackie Wilson) got their start. The group toured widely, building up a reputation as one of the top R&B acts of the era, and an audience which crossed racial divides. However, Ward's strict disciplinarian approach, and failure to recompense the singers, caused internal problems. The name "The Dominoes" was owned by Ward and manager Rose Marks, who had the power to hire and fire, and to pay the singers a salary. Clyde McPhatter was being paid barely enough to live on, and often found himself billed as "Clyde Ward" to fool fans into thinking he was Billy Ward's brother. McPhatter later left to form The Drifters, and the rest is doo-wop history. Here the Dominos perform "These Foolish Things" in 1953. I hope you like the still of the group, because you're going to be staring at it for 3:15. Thanks to and for the trivia, and keep on rockin'!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Who are you?

On this date in 1970, the Who recorded their legendary "Live at Leeds" album, destined to become one (if not the one) of the best live albums ever. Here's a BBC TV special on the subject, hosted by Yes's Rick Wakeman. Watch it and you will find out that, if it hadn't been for a recording mixup, the album would have been called "Live at Howell" (the next date in the tour - doesn't roll off the tongue, does it?). Thanks to for the trivia, and keep on rockin'!

Long Distance Information

... get me Memphis, Tennessee...this week in rock history in 1972, John and Yoko hosted the Mike Douglas show for a of their featured guests was Chuck Berry, who was still playing the guitar like "a ringin' a bell." Here John joins Chuck and his latest pickup band on "Memphis"...notice the happy hippies in the background, grinnin' like idiots - they knew they were in the presence of greatness! Thanks to for the trivia, and keep on rockin!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

"That's What I Want..."

Born today in 1941: Barrett Strong, a Motown soul singer who hit #1 on the charts with his self-penned "Money (That's What I Want)" in 1960. Never a strong singer or vocal talent, he continued with Motown as a staff lyracist, teaming with producer Norman Whitfield. Together, Strong and Whitfield wrote some of the most successful and critically acclaimed soul songs ever to be released by Motown, including "I Heard It Through the Grapevine"by both Marvin Gaye and Gladys Knight & the Pips, "War" by Edwin Starr, "Smiling Faces Sometimes" by The Undisputed Truth, and the long line of "psychedelic soul" records by The Temptations including "Cloud Nine", "I Can't Get Next to You", "Psychedelic Shack", "Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today)", and "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone", amongst others. Strong received a Grammy Award for Best R&B Song in 1973 for co-writing "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone".

So let's celebrate "Money" and Strong's life today, and watch this version by John Lennon from the Peace Festival in Toronto in 1969. Check out Clapton's blistering solo on this song - just wish he'd had time to stretch out and they'd given him a closeup and more camera time! Also in the band: Klaus Voorman on bass and Alan White on drums. Oh, and by the way - that's Yoko in the bag... Thanks as always to and for the trivia, and keep on rockin!

Friday, February 1, 2008

"We Gotta Go..."

#6 in the charts on this day in 1964 was "Louie Louie." Now what were the real lyrics to this song? (see below - they just sounded "dirty") Here are the Kingsmen performing the song in 1965...And why don't bands still do those unison dance steps... I miss those days!

The venerable Paul Revere and the Raiders, who were also from Portland, where the Kingsmen got their start, also had a regional hit with "Louie Louie". Here's their effort. The Kingsmen beat them in the race to get the song on the charts, but was their version better? You decide...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

"13th Floor Elevators"

The 13th Floor Elevators – as Dave Barry would say, this would be a great name for a rock band. It is, and it was…A Texan by the name of Roger Kynard Erickson (better known as “Roky,” pronounced “Rocky”) started a band by that name in 1965. He was known as a pioneer of the psychedelic rock genre. I understand that Janis Joplin very nearly joined this band (and what a different path her career would have taken then, eh?), but was convinced by a friend to move to San Francisco to find fame and fortune there instead. Anyway, the Elevators had one charting hit “You’re Gonna Miss Me,” in 1966. A stinging post-romantic breakup song, the single remains probably Erickson's best-known work, characterized by his primal vocal wailing and feral harmonica work. The band put out four albums and fizzled by 1968, when Erickson started speaking nonsense while playing a gig. He was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and sent to a Houston psychiatric hospital, where he involuntarily received electroconvulsive therapy. Well, that was it; song over for Roky, at least at that time. While he has continued to attempt to play music and write songs since that time, he has suffered from mental illness all of his life (in 1982, Erickson asserted that a Martian had inhabited his body) and only recently has been able to wean himself off his medication, play at gigs again, obtain a driver's license, own a car, and vote.

Why bring all this up? Well, I saw Roky on Austin City Limits a couple of Saturdays ago, and here’s this heavyset, gray-haired apparition playing with members of two of his previous bands and Billy Gibbons, no less, who apparently has always been a big fan. Roky, who turned 60 last July, was in fine form, belting out his hits in the afore-mentioned primal vocal wail. Discovering this dude started an investigation into his life, and the eventual discovery of an album called “You’re Gonna Miss Me,” which is the soundtrack from a 2005 documentary about his life by director Keven McAlester. It’s a good overview of the man and his music, and I highly recommend it.

It just goes to show you the lengths that some folks will go to overcome adversity, and that you’re never too old to rock and roll! Check out this video from Roky’s career, thanks to for the info, and keep on rockin!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

15 Minutes of Fame

We're all supposed to have our 15 minutes of fame; at least, that's what I've always heard. I know I'll never be a big rock star, but I had my 15 minutes sometime in the winter of 1966. At the very least, it was a brush with greatness...Let me set the stage: I was 15, playing drums in a band called "D. J. Child's Society Banned." We were gigging around NW Iowa, North and South Dakota, and Nebraska, and were booked for a week-long gig at a little club called "The Loft" in N. Sioux City, South Dakota. South Dakota's drinking age in those days was 19, so the seedly little bars in border towns N. Sioux City became the hot spots for Iowa teens trying to get liquored up within the confines of the law. Now, parents, would you let your 15-year-old play a week-long gig (all those school nights!) in a sleezy bar in a town 70 miles away? Well, it would depend on how much the gig paid... I mean, absolutely not! I expect my parents were violently opposed to it, but I went anyway...

The thing I remember most about the Loft was its tiny stage, suspended 10 or 12 feet about the dance floor, accessable only by a rickety ladder (hence the name). You try hoisting a couple of Super Beatles up those stairs...and we didn't have roadies in those days, just a sound/light guy. One night, midweek, we were playing to 4 or 5 people (hey, it was early yet!) when a dude claiming to be Elvin Bishop strolled up to the bandstand and asked to jam. Now in those days I probably didn't know Elvin Bishop from Elvin Jones, but I now know he is an accomplished blues guitarist and singer, born in Iowa, who'd played with Paul Butterfield. He's probably best known, though, for his pop hit "Fooled Around and Fell In Love," with Mickey Thomas on vocals. I don't remember too much about the tune - we probably played a slow blues progression - but he played a blistering blues harmonica. After the song was over, he turned to me and said that I was the "best little damn drummer" he had ever played with. Probably the only 15-year-old drummer he'd played with, but that was beside the point, he left me beaming with pride.

So that's my story - what's yours?

You can see what Elvin is doing these days by checking out his appearance at the "40th Anniversary Summer of Love Blues Jam," and, as always, keep on rockin!