You know the guy, or maybe you don’t. If the phrase, “She Blinded Me With Science” sounds familiar you can trace it right to this guy. Dolby hit the scene in in the early 80s with an electronic flair worthy of the time. I remember it well.
MTV was in its second year of broadcast and the young network seemed to have a fatal attraction for anything synth-pop. They embraced Dolby’s little diddy like it was the second coming of rock.
The Dolby directed video featured Magnus Pyke, an eccentric British scientist known for waving his hands as he talked.
That was then… So where is Thomas Dolby now?
The one-hit wonder of the 80s is a busy man in the 21st century.
Since 2001 Dolby has acted as Musical Director of The TED Conference, an annual event held first in Monterey, California, and subsequently in Long Beach, California. TED attracts some of the world’s foremost thinkers, inventors, and speakers.
Dolby provides live musical introductions to sessions, sometimes with an eclectic TED House Band, as well as helping secure guest musicians and entertainers for the event.
He is actively engaged in various aspects of music and video game production with his own company.
Thomas Dolby trivia
Dolby also worked as session keyboard player on Def Leppard‘s 1983 Pyromania album. Dolby appeared on Pyromania using the alias Booker T. Boffin, as his affiliation to another record label restricted the use of his real name.
To say Purple Rain was a cultural phenomenon in 1985 is like saying there’s a vacuum in space. You know it to be true you just don’t quite understand why.
Now I’ll be the first to say I am not, have never been, will probably never be a Prince fan. That’s a personal preference and has nothing to do with the skill this Minneapolis native has with anything musical.
Born Prince Rogers Nelson this young musician was a relative unknown in certain musical circles around the country before the release of the film, Purple Rain. Although his October of ’79 self-titled album, Prince, reached No.4 on the Billboard Top R&B/Black Albums charts, and No.22 on the Billboard 200; until I heard When Doves Cry on the radio, I’d never heard of the guy.
The film is tied into the album of the same name, which spawned two chart-topping singles: “When Doves Cry” and the opening number “Let’s Go Crazy“, while “Purple Rain” reached #2. The movie won an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score. The soundtrack sold over 10 million copies in America alone, and 20 million worldwide.
I’ll be the first to tell you I am by any means a music critic, expert, or go-to guy for all things music. At the end of the day I am a consumer. I have a diverse taste that spans many genres from hard rock to classical to blues and jazz. What that means is my opinion and a buck fifty will get you a cup of Waffle House coffee. It doesn’t mean Jack.
Thick as a Brick was the fifth studio album from the British progressive rock group Jethro Tull. It released forty years ago in March of 1972.
Unheard of at the time, Thick as a Brick included one continuous track, forty-four minutes of one composition pieced together with a mixture of complex musical structures. It was a tour-de-force, a masterpiece of rock blended with English folk music, sprinkled with classical symmetry, and wrapped from the ground up with ahead of its time sound engineering. Brick stands the test of time and not-by-note presents what music is all about. It’s about taking great lyrics, creative instrumentation, and courageous steps beyond self-imposed boundaries.
Few rock and rollers can be dubbed with the title genius. Ian Anderson is one of them.
Thick as a Brick shot to the top of the album charts and held the #1 slot for a solid two weeks.
The Jethro Tull lineup for TAAB was:
Ian Anderson – lead vocals, acoustic guitar, flute, violin, trumpet, saxophone
The creation of TAAB is pure Ian Anderson genius. Its lyrics are based on a poem written by a fictitious boy, Gerald Bostock, said to have been adapted to music by Jethro Tull. In reality Ian Anderson wrote all the lyrics himself.
A snippet of Thick as a Brick lyrics:
So come all ye young men who are building castles!
Kindly state the time of the year
and join your voices in a hellish chorus.
Mark the precise nature of your fear.
Let me help you pick up your dead
as the sins of the father are fed
the blood of the fools and the thoughts of the wise
and from the pan under your bed.
Let me make you a present of song
as the wise man breaks wind and is gone while
the fool with the hour-glass is cooking his goose
and the nursery rhyme winds along.
The album cover was pure spoof of a local newspaper, entitled The St. Cleve Chronicle and Linwell Advertiser, with articles, competitions, adverts, etc., lampooning the parochial journalism still existing in many places. There are hints of certain classical album covers embedded in the paper.
Jethro Tull’s official website explains the mock-newspaper, “There are a lot of inside puns, cleverly hidden continuing jokes (such as the experimental non-rabbit), a surprisingly frank review of the album itself, and even a little naughty connect-the-dots children’s activity.”
The “newspaper”, dated 7 January 1972, also includes the entire lyrics to the poem “Thick as a Brick” (and, thus, to the album of the same name—printed on page 7) as written by a fictional 8-year-old literary prodigy, Gerald “Little Milton” Bostock, whose disqualification from a poetry contest is the focus of the front page story. This article claims that although Bostock initially won the contest with “Thick as a Brick“, the judges’ decision was repealed after a multitude of protests and threats concerning the offensive nature of the poem, furthered by allegations of the boy’s psychological instability.
TAAB2 is to be a full length Progressive Rock “concept” album worthy of its predecessor. Boy to man and beyond, it looks at what might have befallen the child poet Gerald Bostock in later life. Look for Brick II on April 2, 2012.
Jethro Tull performing Thick as a Brick at Madison Square Gardens.
– October 9, 1978
These four guys from El Cerrito, California made up the late 60s musical phenomenon Creedence Clearwater Revival. There was a period of time you couldn’t turn on the radio for more than a few minutes and not hear CCR. Their unique blend of rock, folk and country was a contrast to the psychedelic sound coming out of San Francisco.
I always thought it odd the boys from Berkley made their name singing songs about the south, Louisiana Bayous, The Mississippi River, and catfish. They were southern rock before there was such a thing and the generation loved it.
In 1964 the band signed with Fantasy Records in 1964 as The Blue Velvets but the label immediately changed the name to The Golliwogs, hoping to mimic the success of the British Invasion. It wasn’t to be and in 1967 Fantasy records changed hands. The new owner, Saul Zaentz, saw the potential but never liked the name Golliwog. He asked the guys to come up with ten suggestions each.
It was their first suggestion that made the cut: Creedence Clearwater Revival.
The band took the three elements from, firstly, Tom Fogerty’s friend Credence Newball, (to whose first name Credence they added an extra ‘e’, making it resemble a faith or creed); secondly, “clear water” from a TV commercial for Olympia beer; and finally “revival”, which spoke to the four members’ renewed commitment to their band. Rejected contenders for the band’s name included ‘Muddy Rabbit’, ‘Gossamer Wump’, and ‘Creedence Nuball and the Ruby’, but the last was the start that led to their finalized name.
The group saw their biggest successes between 1968 and 1970 with the release of a half-dozen stellar albums.
There are plenty of successful groups out there with a hit single list of one or two records. CCR had a couple of dozen. They were songs of a generation that still resonate today. Some of my best teen memories are sitting with the headphones wrapped around my skull and CCR songs massaging my eardrums. Great memories.
How many bands besides The Beatles and The Rolling Stones can tout a list of hit singles this long?
Born on the Bayou
Bad Moon Rising
Commotion Fortunate Son
Down on the Corner
Who’ll Stop the Rain
Run Through the Jungle
Up Around the Bend
Long As I Can See the Light
Lookin’ Out My Back Door
Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
Someday Never Comes
Tearin’ Up the Country
I Heard It Through the Grapevine
Good Golly, Miss Molly
CCR was one of the bands to play Woodstock but because Fogerty thought the performance was not up to par he chose not to be a part of the initial soundtrack. The performance at 3:00 in the morning went basically unnoticed by festival-goers.
The weight of long recording sessions and touring took a toll on relationships within the band. Tom Fogerty left CCR permanently in the middle of the Pendulum sessions. It was February of 1971. Pendulum released later that year and the band moved on without Tom. (In September 1990, Tom Fogerty died of an AIDS complication, which he contracted via a tainted blood transfusion he received while undergoing back surgery.)
CCR’s final album, Mardi Gras, was released in April 1972, featuring songs written by Fogerty, Cook, and Clifford and a cover of “Hello Mary Lou.” It received mostly poor, even savage reviews: Rolling Stone reviewer Jon Landau called it “the worst album I have ever heard from a major rock band.”
By this point, Fogerty was not only at direct odds with his bandmates, but he had also come to see the group’s relationship with Fantasy Records as onerous, feeling that label owner Saul Zantz had reneged on his promise to give the band a better contract. Cook — who holds a degree in business — claimed that because of poor judgment on Fogerty’s part, Creedence Clearwater Revival had to abide by the worst record deal of any major American recording artist.
On October 16, 1972 – less than six months after the Mardi Gras tour ended – Fantasy Records and the band officially announced the disbanding of Creedence Clearwater Revival.
The journey of discourse and law suits from then to now is a rocky road I won’t bore you with here. Just know that one of the great voices of my generation fell silent because personalities collided with ego and ownership and nobody would budge.
Creedence Clearwater Revival’s music is still a staple of American and worldwide radio airplay. It’s common to hear CCR songs as a movie backdrop. The band sold 26 million albums in the US alone. Creedence Clearwater Revival was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993. They are ranked at 82 on Rolling Stone’s 100 greatest artists of all time.
My first introduction to Santana was hearing about their performance on the Woodstock stage. Within days of the festival their self-titled album Santana released to an hungry public. One hit from the album, Evil Woman, climbed into the top ten, but it was the last song on side 2 that caught my ear – Soul Sacrifice.
When Santana released I was still a teenager and thirsting for the shifting musical sounds coming from San Francisco, ground zero for the Summer of Love. At 16 years-old sitting in front of the TV watching the gathering in upstate New York that August of ’69, I knew I had to be a part of it somehow. I was but I was relegated to status of consumer. I would’ve been one hell of a drummer.
The drums is what sucked me into Soul Sacrifice in the first place. When Santana took the Woodstock stage and lit into their electrifying extended version of the instrumental, 19 year-old drummer Michael Shrieve officially became the youngest performer of the weekend. Those nine minutes are considered one of the great single instrumental performances in rock history. (See below)
This core group stayed intact across three studio albums, Santana (1969), Abraxas (1970), and Santana III(1971). By the time the shifting lineups stabilized enough for the group to get back into the studio, the early synergy was in freefall and the music mix of Caravanseri, Santana’s fourth album was a distinct diversion from the fusion of salsa, rock, and jazz the public expected. For this releases Santana concentrated on jazz-like instrumental passages. All but three tracks were instrumentals, and consequently the album yielded no hit singles. Still, Caravanseri peaked at #8 on the Billboard album chart.
By the time Welcome, their fifth studio release hit the stores in late ’73, the Santana sound was all but unplugged from the public ear. The release continued down the jazz fusion path with another different mix musicians in the lineup. The opening track, Going Home, featured John Coltrane‘s widow, Alice, as a pianist, and Flora Purim (the wife of Airto Moreira) on vocals. The release could only muster a disappointing #25 in the charts. Guitar fame was fading for the brilliant Carlos Santana.
Between 1974 and 1992, Santana would release another 12 recordings, never to achieve anything close to their earlier success. The last four albums didn’t break into the top 50 or achieve Gold status. Milagro, their last album before a long recording hiatus, never broke the top 100, falling just short at 102.
Many people inside and outside the music business wrote Carlos Santana off as a has-been.
Boy did he prove them wrong.
In what may be the greatest comeback release of all time, seven years after the disappointing Milagro, Carlos Santana released Supernatural.
Supernatural debuted at number nineteen on the Billboard 200 on July 3, 1999 but topped (after 18 weeks) the chart on October 30, 1999 and stayed there for 12 non-consecutive weeks. It included the hit single “Smooth“, which featured Matchbox Twenty singer Rob Thomas on vocals, and was number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for 12 weeks.
The follow-up single, “Maria Maria” (which featured The Product G&B), was number one on the same chart for 10 weeks. Santana and Rob Thomas won three Grammys for their collaboration on the song “Smooth” while Santana and Everlast won another for the song “Put Your Lights On“. Santana also won a Grammy for “Maria Maria”.
For a guy like Carlos Santana to travel the up and down journey between Soul Sacrifice on the Woodstock stage to the phenomenal success of Supernatural, I can say with absolute confidence it was always about the music. He spoke with the strings of his guitar in the language of his Latin heart.
Ron McKernan, known to his friends as Pigpen after the Peanuts character, was found dead in his California home on this day in 1973. McKernan was a founding member of the Grateful Dead and had been making music with Jerry Garcia since early 1965.
McKernan’s contributions to the Dead included vocals, Hammond organ, harmonica, percussion, and occasionally guitar. In 1994, Pigpen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, along with the other members of the Grateful Dead.
In 1968 McKernan and Phil Lesh were both released from the band for their unwillingness to rehearse. For a short period the remaining members did a number of shows under the monikers Mickey and the Hartbeats and Jerry Garrceeah and His Friends, mostly playing Grateful Dead songs without lyrics.
Phil Lesh was soon brought back into the fold promising to step up his committment. McKernan finally relented and made the same promise to improve. In his absence Tom Constanten had been brought in on keyboards so McKernan took up the Congas on his return. It was an uncomfortable period for the young musician but he took the role with humility. When Constanten left the band in 1970, McKernan returned to the Hammond Organ.
While most of McKernan’s friends and bandmates were experimenting with LSD and other psychedelics, McKernan stuck to Thunderbird wine and Southern Comfort. He had been a heavy drinker since adolescence. His taste for bourbon whiskey mixed well with his brief on again/off again relationship with Janis Joplin.
In 1970, McKernan began experiencing symptoms of congenital biliary cirrhosis. After an August 1971 hospitalization, doctors requested that he stop touring indefinitely; pianist Keith Godchaux was subsequently hired and remained a permanent member of the band until 1979.
McKernan rejoined the band in December 1971 to supplement Godchaux on harmonica, percussion, and organ. After theirEurope ’72 tour, his health had degenerated to the point where he could no longer continue on the road. He made his final concert appearance on June 17, 1972 at the Hollywood Bowl, in Los Angeles, California.
On March 8, 1973, he was found dead of a gastrointestinal hemorrhage at his home in Corte Madera, California. For Pigpen McKernan, the long strange trip was over. He was 27 years-old. Sound familiar?
March 5, 1963, a small plane crashed in a forest on the outskirts of Camden, Tennessee, 90 miles west of Nashville. Patsy Cline, her manager and pilot, former Dallas Cowboys player Randy Hughes, country musicians Hawkshaw Hawkins and Cowboy Copas perished in the crash. Patsy Cline is considered to be one of the most influential, successful, and acclaimed female vocalists of the 20th century. Long after her death Patsy Cline continue to sell music as new generations embrace her beautiful voice and remarkable talent.
Posthumously, millions of her records were sold over a 50-year span. As a result, she has been given numerous awards and accolades, leading some fans to view her as an icon similar to legends such as Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley.
Ten years after her death, in 1973, she became the first female solo artist inducted to the Country Music Hall of Fame. In 1999, she was voted number 11 on VH1‘s special,The 100 Greatest Women in Rock and Roll, by members and artists of the rock industry.
In 2002, artists and members of the country music industry voted her as Number One on CMT‘s The 40 Greatest Women of Country Music and ranked 46th in the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time” issue of Rolling Stone magazine. According to her 1973 Country Music Hall of Fame plaque, “Her heritage of timeless recordings is testimony to her artistic capacity.”
Patsy Cline is a voice of a generation that endures across the ages.
With the recent death of Monkees singer Davey Jones I pretty much had no choice about this weeks topic. The Monkees were a phenomenon that practically defies explanation. To try to classify them, push them into the proper musical cubby-hole, is a bona fide challenge.
Were they pop? Were they top-40? Were they the Marx Brothers who blended in pop-music with slap-stick comedy? They were a made-for-TV boys band, a quartet of young guys thrown together like shake and bake, and plastered on television to become an overnight sensation.
The Monkees craze began with the recording of their first studio album, July of ’66, rolled out a few weeks after the series launched that September. It was the first of four consecutive U.S. number one albums for the group, taking the top spot on the Billboard 200 for 13 weeks.
The first cut was the Monkees theme song which would become ingrained in the musical ear of a generation. We all knew the words and remember the off-beat boys they referred to.
I believe an argument could be made saying The Monkees, despite their commercial upbringing and contrived roots were one of the most influential pop bands of the era standing with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix. As a matter of fact in one of the oddest pairings in rock and roll history, Jimi Hendrix opened for The Monkees for seven concerts in 1967.
Of those concerts Micky Dolenz would later reflect:
“Jimi would amble out onto the stage, fire up the amps and break out into ‘Purple Haze,’ and the kids in the audience would instantly drown him out with ‘We want Daaavy!’ God, was it embarrassing.”[/box]
The fact that they haven’t been nominated is the most blatant rock-snobbery since the HOF opened. For every argument about why The Monkees should not be in the hall you can point to a dozen inductees that would lose that same argument. I can only assume it’s a bit of underlying jealously about the success of Nesmith, Dolenz, Tork, and Jones.
In one year The Monkees sold more albums than The Beatles and The Rolling Stones combined. (Their albums and singles have sold over 65 million copies worldwide since 1966.)
The Rock Hall of Fame has an exhibit called: The 500 songs that shaped Rock and Roll. With few exceptions, most Hall of Fame inductees on that list only have one song. The Monkees have two. (I’m A Believer and Last Train To Clarksville.)
Davey Jones was the cute one. He was the first crush of many women my age. I know a few who wept openly on the news of his passing. With Davey gone I think it’s high-time the rock elite gets off their high-horse and extend The Monkees their rightful place in the Hall of Fame, because it’s the right thing to do, because they deserve to be there, and because it’s way past time.
Monkees singer Davy Jones died Wednesday after suffering a heart attack. He was 66. Martin County, Florida’s Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed the news, first reported by TMZ. Authorities say they are investigating the circumstances surrounding his death.
Jones joined the Monkees in 1965 along with Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz, and Peter Tork. Their hits include “I’m a Believer,” “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone,” “Daydream Believer,” and “Last Train to Clarksville.”
Jones left the band in 1970, according to their website. He went on to land a solo hit, “Rainy Jane,” the next year, and also made several TV appearances, including a late-1971 episode of The Brady Bunch.
Jones reunited with Tork and Dolenz for a tour in the mid-1980s, and in 1987 they released a new record, Pool It.
Without a doubt it is my favorite and shows a depth and diversity of this historic rock band not reached by any of the previous releases. Physical Graffiti was Led Zeppelin’s true coming of age and a masterpiece of rock that still stands today.
It released on February 24, 1975, a full two years after the previous album, Houses of the Holy. The long hiatus from recording was to give bassist John Paul Jones some time off from touring. Had circumstances been a bit different at the time, JPJ could’ve ended up choirmaster at Winchester Cathedral.
After the time off he returned to the band ready to record.
Jones reflects on this period:
I didn’t want to harm the group, but I didn’t want my family to fall apart either. We toured a huge amount in those early days. We were all very tired and under pressure and it just came to a head. When I first joined the band, I didn’t think it would go on for that long, two or three years perhaps, and then I’d carry on with my career as a musician and doing movie music.
The band returned to Headley Grange in January of ’74 and laid down eight tracks in short order.
We had more material than the required 40-odd minutes for one album. We had enough material for one and a half LPs, so we figured let’s put out a double and use some of the material we had done previously but never released. It seemed like a good time to do that sort of thing, release tracks like “Boogie With Stu” which we normally wouldn’t be able to do… This time we figured it was better to stretch out than to leave off.
Within two weeks of release Physical Graffiti was at the top of the US Billboard chart. It is 16x Platinum in the United States.
By comparison, Led Zeppelin’s next album, Presence was a commercial failure at 3x Platinum and a peak at #1 for two weeks on the U.S. Charts after which it was quickly replaced by The Rolling Stones, Black and Blue.
It’s hard to fathom a “two week, #1 album” as a failure but Physical Graffiti set the bar very high for Zeppelin.
At 37 years old Graffiti stands the test of time and still gets play in this old rock and roller’s music machine.