Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Who - What's Next

Last night’s Who concert might be the last Who concert. Ever.

The Who performed Quadrophenia on the final night of this years’ Teenage Cancer Trust series of concerts at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Guests included well-known Who fanatic Eddie Vedder and Kasabian’s Tom Meighan; both joined the band at various times separately, and together on “I’ve Had Enough.”

It’s a little shaky, but here’s some fan shot footage of “I’ve Had Enough.”

The Who - Quadrophenia - I've Had Enough The Who - Quadrophenia - I've Had Enough

The Who – I’ve Had Enough
With Eddie Vedder and Tom Meighan
Royal Albert Hall – March 30, 2010


Set List

“I Am the Sea”
“The Real Me”
“Quadrophenia”
“Cut My Hair”
“The Punk and the Godfather” (with Eddie Vedder)
“I’m One”
“The Dirty Jobs”
“Helpless Dancer”
“Is It in My Head?”
“I’ve Had Enough” (with Eddie Vedder and Tom Meighan)
“5:15″
“Sea and Sand” (with Eddie Vedder and Tom Meighan)
“Drowned” (Townshend solo)
“Bell Boy” (with Tom Meighan)
“Doctor Jimmy”
“The Rock”
“Love, Reign O’er Me”
Following the band’s appearance at this year’s Super Bowl in Miami, Pete Townshend talked about the March 30 show as being the only gig on the group’s schedule because of his hearing issues. At the time, Townshend said he’d been testing a new in-ear monitoring system that doctors hoped would allow him to hear the band over the ringing in his ears and that, if it failed to be of significant help, he would shut The Who down before risking any further hearing damage. Apparently, it was Neil Young who hooked Pete up with an audiologist that recommended the new system as a potentially viable way to address the issue; beyond the monitors, Pete has revealed that he wears a hearing aid.

Townshend’s hearing has been affected by playing music so loud for so long that he developed tinnitus years ago.

In simple terms, tinnitus is basically an ongoing high-pitched ringing or buzzing in the ears, even when no external sound is happening – ie. you’re sitting alone in a quiet room and all you can hear is ringing in your ears. Tinnitus is not to be confused with Temporary Hearing Loss (THL), which is caused by many things – including exposure to loud sounds. If you’re like me, you’ve come home to quiet surroundings after a concert and occasionally noticed either a high-pitch ringing sound or muffled hearing due to exposure to high volume and/or being too close to the sound system; you may have some lingering effects the day after the show, but it does disappear, usually within 24 hours or so, depending on the severity.

In terms of the decibel scale, normal conversation levels between people are in the 60-70 dB range; sustained exposure to volumes in the 90-95 dB range can cause hearing loss; sandblasting is measured around 115dB and pain from volume happens at the 125dB level. Jet engines and gun blasts are in the 140 dB range, which is extreme by any measure. If I understand it correctly, an increase of 10 dB level is considered about twice as loud, while a 20 dB increase is four times as loud.

For years, as sound systems developed in the music industry, bands prided themselves on volume and even promoted it, sometimes with claims that they were the loudest band in the world. It’s hard to say who the loudest band actually is/was, because you’d need to establish a standard measurement distance from the sound system to have everyone measured on the same playing field, so to speak.

In the 60s, Blue Cheer heavily promoted themselves as the loudest: the band claimed to be so loud that they had to record their albums outside. BC’s second album, “Outsideinside,” was recorded at Pier 57 in San Francisco, and legend has it that people on boats up to 9 miles (14 km) away complained of hearing the sound. In 69, Led Zeppelin’s “Heartbreaker” was measured at 130 dB. In 1976, The Who were considered the loudest band by the Guinness Book Of World Records, when the group’s volume at a UK show was measured at 126 decibels. The folks at the Guinness Book reportedly shut down their “loudest band” category at some point in the late 70s/early 80s for fear of encouraging hearing damage as bands kept pushing the limits.

In addition to the prolonged exposure to playing at huge volume levels, Pete has stated that the start of his tinnitus can be traced back to a Who performance on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in 1967. Near the end of playing “My Generation,” The Who had smoke bombs and blasts going off at the rear of the stage behind the amplifiers, but drummer Keith Moon had techies load up far too much explosives in his bass drums, and the resulting blast damaged Townshend’s ears – apparently for life.

While watching the Smothers Brothers performance, keep an eye out for where Pete is standing when the explosion goes off: it looks like Townshend is less than 10 feet directly in front of Moon’s kit when the force of the blast heads directly at him, compounding things as his head is at bass drum level because he’s leaning over while smashing his guitar.

The explosion happens at 4:36 in the following clip:

The Who - The Who Sings My Generation - My Generation The Who - The Who Sings My Generation - My Generation

The Who – My Generation
The Smother Brothers Comedy Hour – September 15, 1967



2010 isn’t the first time Townshend’s hearing has been an issue for the band, by any means. I can remember seeing The Who on their 25th Anniversary Tour in 1989 and Pete was playing acoustic guitar for most of the show. I have to say it was strange to watch The Who with Pete on acoustic while someone else played his solos on electric; I mean, here was one of the biggest legends in rock unable to execute his material in the usual way because of his hearing issues. Depending on its severity, tinnitus can come and go, like a lot of health challenges, and it seems that Pete’s may have been in some sort of remission for years before returning recently while he worked on his musical, Floss.

Performers have used stage/floor monitors for years to process the ‘mix’ and volume of audio that suits their needs as a player. Monitor mixes can be tweaked to each player’s needs; for example, the guitarist wants more drums and less bass in his monitors because he/she follows the drums more closely for song cues, etc. Eventually, in-ear monitors were developed to perform the same function as stage/floor monitors, which could then be removed from the staging, giving artists more room to roam freely while providing fans down front with a less obstructed view.

We’ll await further news from Townshend on last night’s RAH gig to see if the new in-ear system worked for him, as well as news on the status of The Who.

The Who - Who's Next - Behind Blue Eyes The Who - Who's Next - Behind Blue Eyes

The Who - Tommy - Pinball Wizard The Who - Tommy - Pinball Wizard

The Who – acoustic performance
Super Bowl press conference - February 5, 2010

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Rock N Roll Birthday: Eric Clapton

Happy birthday to Eric Clapton, who turns 65 today.

Well, where do you start to talk about the career of one of music’s most iconic figures…
The Yardbirds
John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers
Cream
Blind Faith
The Plastic Ono Band
Delaney And Bonnie And Friends
Derek & The Dominos
Currently on the road with openers like Jeff Beck, Roger Daltrey and Steve Winwood, I thought a few interesting facts about Eric would help to mark the occasion.

How did Eric get the nickname “Slowhand”?

During his time with The Yardbirds, when Clapton would break a guitar string during a show, he’d simply stay on stage and replace it. (Can you imagine??) Audiences would wait through the unscheduled break by doing a ‘slow handclap’, which band manager Giorgio Gomelsky shortened to ‘slowhand’…and it stuck.

Why did Clapton leave The Yardbirds in 1965?

Eric left on the verge of the group’s first hit single, “For Your Love,” because, as a blues purist, he didn’t like the “pop” direction the band was taking at the time.

Eric played on which Beatles song?

Clapton was brought in by pal George Harrison to play on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps."

Who is Layla?

"Lalya" was written by Clapton for Patti Boyd, the wife of his good friend, and ex-Beatle, George Harrison. Eric eventually married her.

Eric’s Canadian roots

Eric’s mom was only 16 when he was born; not something that was generally talked about in the mid-40s. As a result, Clapton’s mother left him to be raised by his grandparents, but he was told they were his parents. At the age of 53, Eric discovered that his father was a Canadian pilot named Edward Fryer, who, at the age of 24, was overseas when he hooked up with his mother before being shipped off to war prior to Eric’s birth.

Conquering his alcoholism in 1982, Eric opened what facility to help others?

In 1997, Eric opened the Crossroads Center in Antigua, as a treatment center for addictive disorders due to drugs and alcohol. Over the years, Clapton has sold many guitars from his collection to help raise funds for the project.

Long Live Slowhand!

The Dirty Mac - The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus - Yer Blues The Dirty Mac - The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus - Yer Blues

The Dirty Mac - Yer Blues (1968)
John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards (bass), Mitch Mitchell
From The Rolling Stones Rock N Roll Circus



Cream - The Very Best of Cream - Sunshine of Your Love Cream - The Very Best of Cream - Sunshine of Your Love

Cream – Sunshine Of Your Love (1967)



The Yardbirds - The Yardbirds - the Eric Clapton Years - Louise The Yardbirds - The Yardbirds - the Eric Clapton Years - Louise

The Yardbirds – Louise (1963)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Celebrity Apprentice week 3

Interesting to watch things continue to unfold on The Celebrity Apprentice this season.

Last night’s episode focused on the teams creating a 4-page “advertorial” for Norton 360 and Lifelock security systems, using a personality from each side to act as ‘spokesperson’ for the campaign.

The music artists on both sides continue to impact the dynamics of each team.

Poison’s Bret Michaels, who won as Project Manager on week 1, had some very workable ideas that were shunned by PM Michael Johnson. While Johnson remained focused on his version of what the advertorial should be, he refused to consider Michaels’ ideas, and his team lost as result. More details on that in a sec.

Dealing with Cyndi Lauper on the women’s side is a real puzzle for the ladies; they just haven’t figured out how to harness someone with huge amounts of creative energy. Quite often, Lauper is seen rambling on and somewhat confused at times, and the team’s challenge is getting Lauper to her point faster so that they can remain on task. Meanwhile, PM and former Olympian Summer Saunders was useless as a manager, unsure, throughout most of the show, as to what the very concept was she had been creating – she couldn’t explain it to her team or to Trump's son when he came by to peek in on things.

It feels like the talents of both artists are being underutilized by the straight-laced PMs.

Bret’s design ideas included using former wrestler, and Bullrun producer/host Bill Goldberg as the spokesperson for their package. For a team of internet and identity security products, Bret felt that Goldberg’s image of strength would best represent the package - I not only agreed with Michaels, but I called it from my couch before Bret even brought it up. In the boardroom, Johnson claimed Goldberg was too ‘obvious’ of a choice, so dismissed the idea; however, Donald Trump declared that, despite the obvious ‘factor,’ Goldberg would have been a better representative, and so did the client. Advertisers like obvious because things don’t need to be explained to the consumer – keep it simple, stupid.

In addition, Bret suggested a ‘bold’ move by creating the advertorial with a black background; Johnson immediately turned down the idea without even considering it. Guess what: the women’s side not only won, but they went with the black background, as well.

Bret also knew that Johnson had loaded up the advertorial with far too much text; consumers simply wouldn’t sit through that much detail. Again, I agreed, but by this point in the process, Michaels knew his voice wasn’t being heard so sat back and let things unfold naturally without intervening – if the team had a truly open and supportive working environment (even with the massive egos involved), Bret could have saved the day here if Johnson and others hadn’t continued to wear him down with the refusal to hear his ideas while painting him (incorrectly) as a nuisance.

On the other side, Lauper was pissed that she wasn’t used as creative director on the photo shoot for the package; instead, Summers went with the model in the group…and chaos followed, for a variety of reasons.

In both cases, I’m continuing to support the artists involved, keenly aware that both Michaels and Lauper are being dismissed by their teammates without proper consideration or respect for their talents. Granted, most people don’t know how to manage truly creative forces; the trick is sifting (and sitting) through the brainstorming while looking for that one piece of gold that, when identified, could take a project from good to great.

While it’s easiest for people to default to the stereotype of a musician as a burnt-out hippie with no business sense, I’d suggest that’s the lazy man’s way of thinking, and needs to be changed. I’ve worked with, and interviewed, musicians for more than 25 years, and one of the things I have come to appreciate is that virtually every one of them has a very clear sense of identity and purpose, which extends to everything they do: music, imaging, packaging, merchandising, etc. Consumers and fans have little, or no, idea of how involved artists are in many aspects of the careers, but it’s been my experience that their input is key to keeping their identity on track.

In the end, Darryl Strawberry basically quit, saving Johnson from being fired, which wasn't much of a surprise: Strawberry didn't contribute much of anything this week and pretty much slept through the entire project.

Ratings for the show continue to climb, but I’m still puzzled as to why the show needs to be 2-hours each week; after a 2-hour premiere episode, surely a 1-hour version could get the job done.

Poison - The Best of Poison - 20 Years of Rock - Talk Dirty to Me Poison - The Best of Poison - 20 Years of Rock - Talk Dirty to Me

Poison – Talk Dirty To Me
Live Raw And Uncut 2008



Cyndi Lauper - She's So Unusual (Remastered) - Time After Time Cyndi Lauper - She's So Unusual (Remastered) - Time After Time

Cyndi Lauper – Time After Time (1984)

The Cover Of The Rolling Stone

Sometimes rock n roll dreams do come true.

Just ask Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show: after scoring a hit with “Cover Of The Rolling Stone,” the band got its wish and made the cover of RS issue #132 on March 29, 1973.

Trivia: the group’s image on the RS cover was a caricature and not an actual photogragh, and the accompanying headline read: “What’s-Their-Names Make The Cover.”


“Rolling Stone” was from the Union City, New Jersey band’s 1972 sophomore release, “Sloppy Seconds.” The song speaks to the life of rock stars and the influence Rolling Stone magazine had in the early 70s; it was considered a huge honour to be on the cover and one that said “we made it” in the music business.

Interestingly, and perhaps not unique, the group performed songs written by an outside partner: poet, cartoonist and children’s book author Shel Silverstein. Shel had previously written hits for other artists, including The Irish Rovers “Unicorn Song” and Johnny Cash’s “A Boy Named Sue.” After providing songs for Dr. Hook’s 1971 self-titled debut, Silverstein teamed up with Dr. Hook et al for his own ‘72 release, “Freakin’ At The Freakers Ball.”

Funny how things work at the stuffy old BBC: in the U.K., the ‘Beeb’ refused to play “Rolling Stone” because they considered it as advertising a trademarked name, which went against their own policies. The song was actually re-released with a bunch of BBC DJs shouting ‘on the cover of the Radio Times’ over the chorus of the original Dr. Hook version. Talk about a conflict of interest and the ultimate in hypocrisy: the BBC was ok with promoting the Radio Times weekly TV/radio guide because they published it themselves - it’s hard to fathom just how absurd this is today and how the BBC was even legally permitted to re-record the song in the way that they did. Huh.

Stateside, “Rolling Stone” hit #6 on the Billboard top 100 (reached #2 in Canada) and came in at #51 on the year-end Billboard chart, just behind Deep Purple’s “Smoke On The Water” and ahead of Charlie Rich’s “Behind Closed Doors.”

Country legend Buck Owens did a parody of the song: “On The Cover Of The Music City News” appeared on his 1974 album, “It’s A Monster’s Holiday.”

Dr. Hook - Sloppy Seconds - Cover of the Rolling StoneDr. Hook - Sloppy Seconds - Cover of the Rolling Stone

Dr. Hook And The Medicine Show – Cover Of The Rolling Stone (1972)



Dr. Hook featuring (singer) Ray Sawyer (the guy with the eye-patch), still tours today.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Catching up with David Letterman

Light-hearted weekend continues – let’s roll some cool, recent performances from the Letterman show….

The Heavy - The House That Dirt Built - How You Like Me NowThe Heavy - The House That Dirt Built - How You Like Me Now

The Heavy – How You Like Me Now
Late Show with David Letterman – January 19, 2010



John Hiatt - The Open Road - The Open RoadHiatt - The Open Road - The Open Road

John Hiatt – The Open Road
Late Show with David Letterman – March 23, 2010




Broken Bells - Broken Bells - The High RoadBroken Bells - Broken Bells - The High Road

Broken Bells – The High Road
Late Show with David Letterman – March 9, 2010

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Catching up with Jimmy Fallon

Easy-going weekend – here’s some recent, cool stuff from Jimmy Fallon’s show….

The Besnard Lakes - The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night (Bonus Track Version) - And This Is What We Call ProgressThe Besnard Lakes - The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night (Bonus Track Version) - And This Is What We Call Progress

The Besnard Lakes – And This Is What We Call Progress
Late Night With Jimmy Fallon – March 23, 2010



The Allman Brothers Band - A Decade of Hits 1969-1979 - Whipping PostThe Allman Brothers Band - A Decade of Hits 1969-1979 - Whipping Post

The Allman Brothers Band – Whipping Post
Late Night With Jimmy Fallon – March 9, 2010



The Allman Brothers Band - The Allman Brothers Band - Black Hearted WomanThe Allman Brothers Band - The Allman Brothers Band - Black Hearted Woman

The Allman Brothers Band – Black Hearted Woman
Late Night With Jimmy Fallon – March 9, 2010
* WEB EXCLUSIVE – not aired on show

Friday, March 26, 2010

Rock N Roll Birthday: Steven Tyler of Aerosmith

Happy Birthday to Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, who turns 62 today.

Born Stephen Tallarico in Yonkers, New York and the youngest of two kids (older sister is Lynda), Tyler went to Roosevelt High School, where trouble started early: he was expelled for drug use and completed his education elsewhere.

Music is in the blood: Steven's father was a classical musician who led the Vic Tallarico Orchestra and taught music at Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx for many years.

An NYC resident, Tyler’s family spent summers at New Hampshire’s Lake Sunapee, where Tyler formed his first ‘serious’ band, The Strangeurs, in 1964 (they were originally The Strangers, but another band was using that name, so they changed the spelling slightly). With Tyler on drums and shared vocals, the band eventually became Chain Reaction and, by the time Steven was 18, they went into the studio in 1966 and recorded four songs – the equivalent of 2 singles and 2 b-sides. Here’s one of them…

Chain Reaction – When I Needed You (1966)



In March of ’68, Chain Reaction opened four shows for The Yardbirds, and later opened for The Beach Boys and others.

Tyler crossed paths with future Aerosmith bandmates Joe Perry and Tom Hamilton at a gig in Sunapee in 1969, when their group, “The Jam Band,” played at the same club. Tyler was immediately impressed with Perry and the band, and made a move to hook up with them.

Aerosmith began as a power trio with Perry, Hamilton, and Tyler on drums; they added Ray Tabano on guitar (eventually replaced by Brad Whitford) and Joey Kramer on drums…the rest is some pretty wild rock ‘n roll history...

Aerosmith – Toys In The Attic
You Gotta Move (2004)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Bits & Bytes: Slash, Beck, Chickenfoot

New Slash - FREE download

Slash’s self-titled solo album is due April 6.

In the meantime, Slash is offering up a FREE download (below) of an instrumental track called “Watch This” – the song features his old pal Duff McKagan on bass and Dave Grohl on drums.











Beck covers INXS’ "Kick"

The latest installment in Beck’s “Record Club” series is INXS’ “Kick.”

Beck describes the series as “an informal meeting of various musicians to record an album in a day.” Previous releases have covered albums by the Velvet Underground, Leonard Cohen and Skip Spence.

The Record Club recorded the INXS disc on March 3; among the musicians are members of Liars, St. Vincent and the Brazilian band Os Mutantes.

Beck plans to post songs in the album’s original sequence – starting with “Guns In The Sky.”

Record Club – Guns In The Sky (2010)
INXS - "Kick" - recorded March 3, 2010

.


Chickenfoot get animated this weekend

As mentioned in a recent post, Chickenfoot get animated as guests on the Cartoon Network’s Aqua Teen Hunger Force this weekend.



In the episode “I Am A Pod,” the Shake orders what he thinks is an iPod, but turns out to be seeds to grow a Pod (think Invasion Of The Body Snatchers). The Pod is a big Chickenfoot fan, meets the band at one of their shows and turns them into aliens so that they can take over the world while on tour.

Chickenfoot - Chickenfoot (Bonus Track Version) - Sexy Little ThingChickenfoot - Chickenfoot (Bonus Track Version) - Sexy Little Thing

Chickenfoot – Sexy Little Thing (2009)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Jimmy Fallon's Battle Of The Instant Bands

Caught some fun on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon the other day, and thought I’d share.

Jimmy’s team has created a pretty cool concept: Battle Of The Instant Bands.

Here’s how it works: before the show, the producers found members of the studio audience who were musicians, had them form two bands, and they had about 20 minutes to write and rehearse an original song before playing it right away on the show.

Have a look…

Battle Of The Instant Bands – part 1
Late Night With Jimmy Fallon – Fri March 19, 2010



Battle Of The Instant Bands – part 2
Late Night With Jimmy Fallon – Fri March 19, 2010



Between the two, I’d say that 30 Rockin’s “Amnesia” was the runaway winner; I’ve actually had the song kinda stuck in my head (an “earworm”) for the past few days, which is a sign that the song has a good ‘hook’ that stays with you – especially vital after only one listen.

What a cool concept for the show….hope they do more!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Oasis - Toronto attacker court update 3

As a follow-up to my earlier posts here and here, Pickering contractor Daniel Sullivan was in a Toronto court today as part of the ongoing legal process in his attack on Oasis leader Noel Gallagher at the Virgin Music Festival in September 2008.

Gallagher had hoped to be at the hearing today in order to deliver his victim impact statement in person, but was unable to attend due to business commitments. Crown attorney Ruth Kleinhenz-Neilson was expected to read Noel’s statement.

The Canadian Press is reporting that Gallagher’s statement says he felt like he was “hit by a bus” when Sullivan pushed him onstage from behind, causing him to crash hard into his monitors. Gallagher suffered three broken ribs and the band was forced to cancel five shows as a result of the injuries.

The National Post has published Gallagher’s full victim impact statement here, as follows:

“I am a singer and lead guitarist of the band Oasis. On 7 July 2008 Oasis were headlining at the V Festival in Toronto Canada when I was assaulted on stage by a stage invader. I was in the middle of one of the songs. I would describe the sudden impact and shock as feeling as if I had been hit by a bus. I ended up in a heap on the floor and the band stopped playing. I fell on to the monitors which are wedge shaped speakers. I had no idea what had happened. I was picked up by a member of the road crew and taken to the side of the stage. During this time I experienced a pain to my left side. Initially paramedics treated me on stage. There was 40 minutes left of the set. I was in shock but I decided to go back on stage. At that point, perhaps because of the adrenalin, I did not fully appreciate the severity of the injury I had sustained. After a few more songs I experienced difficulty breathing and felt further acute pain. I left the stage and was taken to hospital. At hospital I was x-rayed and the diagnosis, which turned out to be incomplete, was internal bruising of the ribs. It was thought that I would be better in a couple of days.

The next performance in London, Ontario on the 9th September was cancelled and I spent a day in bed taking pain killers. We drove to New York for the band's next performance on the 12th September. In New York, on 9 September 2008 I found it difficult to move and I was in acute pain in spite of the painkillers. We decided to cancel the New York show which was scheduled to take place at the Terminal 5 club. This was also scheduled to be filmed for television broadcast which had to be cancelled along with important promotion work for our new album.

I flew back to London and went to see a chiropractor who sent me for a further x-ray at the London Clinic. I was told that I had 3 broken ribs on the left side of my back. I was informed by the doctor that the ribs had broken as a result of the push in my back and not the fall. The initial pain I had experienced was as a result of bruising to the front ribs when I fell on to the monitors. I was prescribed further pain killers but effectively told to grin and bear it for a minimum of 8 weeks. In spite of the pain killers I continued to be in serious pain for about 3 months during which time I saw a physiotherapist 3 times a week. I remained in some degree of pain for a total period of 8 months.

On my return to England from New York we were scheduled to start the British part of the band's tour. However, I was unable to perform without pain killers to adapt my performance to accommodate the pain.

As a result of the injury the band had to cancel a show in London Ontario on 9 September, the Terminal 5 performance in New York on 12 September, (a filmed show for television and a large promotional event). In the UK following the full and correct diagnosis three media concerts had to be cancelled, one on 27 September (a live performance at the Eden Project in Cornwall which was to be transmitted worldwide by MTV), one on 29 September, (a live show in Cologne, Germany, to be transmitted on radio throughout Europe), and on 30 September a live TV show in Paris for Canal Plus. The band also had to cancel a 2 October appearance on the Jonathan Ross TV show, an important promotional appearance, as well as a performance on the television show "Later with Jools Holland". The promotional work in connection with the launch of the new album was very important to its success and early sales momentum. This opportunity was lost.

I have been told that I will never really recover from the damage to my ribs and from time to time I still feel painful twinges. The emotional impact it had on me was essentially coping with the pressure to perform so as not to let the band down. This has never happened to me before. For a considerable period of time I was only operating at 50% of my capabilities and this naturally spoilt the enjoyment of the tour.”


Sullivan has previously admitted that he was drunk at the time and has no memory of how he eluded festival security, climbed onstage and pushed Noel, before lunging at brother Liam, while security tackled him to the ground.

Daniel has already pled guilty to assault causing bodily harm in the case; Gallagher is reportedly suing him for $2 million dollars.

Sullivan is expected to be sentenced on April 21.

Oasis – Toronto attack by Daniel Sullivan
Virgin Music Festival, September 2009

Checking in on Stanley Jordan

I’m not sure why, but Stanley Jordan popped into my head the other day, so I thought I’d snoop around and see what he’s doing these days.

A jazz/fusion guitarist, Jordan turned a lot of heads in the mid-80s, when he burst on the scene using the same two-handed tapping technique that Eddie Van Halen made famous - sure, others had done it before Ed, but it was being used occasionally for emphasis, whereas it was a part of Ed’s musical vocabulary….as it is with Jordan, who actually takes things to a whole other level.

It’s quite something to watch an artist when they are ‘one’ with their instrument: it’s less a guitar than it is an extension of their physical being – watch footage of Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, or Van Halen in full flight and you’ll see what I mean. Stanley Jordan’s fascinating to watch, for all the same reasons.

For a time, Jordan was visible beyond the jazz community: first, because of his playing style, and second, because he often featured mainstream pop songs as part of the package.

Stanley Jordan - Magic Touch - Eleanor RigbyStanley Jordan - Magic Touch - Eleanor Rigby

Stanley Jordan – Eleanor Rigby (1985)



Stanley Jordan - The Best of Stanley Jordan - Stairway to HeavenStanley Jordan - The Best of Stanley Jordan - Stairway to Heaven

Stanley Jordan – Stairway To Heaven



I first crossed paths with Jordan and his 1985 release, “Magic Touch”; I saw him on a few different tv shows and then played him regularly on college radio. “Touch” was a mix of originals and covers, as Stanley performed tunes by The Beatles, Hendrix, Michael Jackson, Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk; the record topped the Billboard jazz charts for 49 weeks – he was just 27.

Jordan’s discography shows a steady list of releases through the 80s and 90s, up until 1994; then a live album in 98, something in 2003 and his latest record, “State Of Nature,” in 2008. Apparently, the gap in his library was as a result of a self-imposed exile Jordan claims he initiated after becoming frustrated with the ‘demands of the commercial music industry.’ Reports suggest the exile included a retreat to the mountains of the Southwestern US, as well as owning and running a book/music store in Arizona.

Jordan emerged from his hiatus with a renewed sense of purpose and vision, and applied himself to studying the field of music therapy: the science of music and its effects on healing the human condition (it’s a very complex subject and I’m oversimplifying here). Stanley has posted details on his thoughts about music therapy and his experiences – read about them here. In 1997, Jordan became a spokesperson for the American Music Therapy Association and, at last report, is attending Arizona State University working towards a master’s degree in music therapy.

Stanley Jordan continues to tour in 2010, in both solo and trio configurations.

Stanley Jordan - State of Nature - All BluesJordan - State of Nature - All Blues

Stanley Jordan – All Blues (2008)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Ozzy and the aliens

Who would you want to represent all of mankind as the official greeter to visitors from another planet?

According to the results of a Yahoo! News poll released this day in 2004, if you lived in Britian, you would have chosen Ozzy Osbourne for the job.

Following NASA’s discovery of signs of water on Mars, Yahoo! News surveyed 1,000 Brits online to get their feedback on a representative for Earth.

Ozzy came in first with 26% of the vote.

Here’s the top 10:
Yahoo UK poll - 2004

1 Ozzy Osbourne 26%
2 Ant and Dec 15%
3 Tony Blair 12%
4 Jordan 9%
4 George Bush 9%
6 Prince Philip 8%
7 David and Victoria Beckham 6%
8 Johnny Vegas 6%
8 The Darkness 6%
10 Simon Cowell 3%
Ozzy meeting the aliens – there’s a conversation for the ages…

(note: language in the following video may be offensive to some)



Black Sabbath - Reunion (Live) - War PigsBlack Sabbath - Reunion (Live) - War Pigs

Black Sabbath – War Pigs
Olympia Theatre - Paris December 20, 1970

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Fun with TV Themes

Found a fun video this week with a guy doing a medley of TV themes.

Sometimes created as jingles, and sometimes parts of full songs, it’s not surprising how these 30-second or less moments of music, melody and (occasionally) lyrics, manage to stick in your head. A solid theme sets a mood for what’s to follow, while trying to be instantly recognizable and memorable.

And there’s a real art to jingles: Barry Manilow used to write them and talked about it recently on one of Conan O’Brien’s final episodes of The Tonight Show. Barry wrote jingles for State Farm Insurance ("Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there..."), Band-Aids ("I am stuck on Band-Aid, 'cause Band-Aid's stuck on me!") and McDonald’s (“You deserve a break today, so get up and get away…to McDonalds”); he co-wrote the Dr. Pepper theme, and performed many others.

If you're of a certain age, I bet you were singing those jingles as you read them in the last paragraph...c'mon, admit it, you were.

Fredde Gredde plays both parts in the video, which features 22 tv themes in a 7:00 span, all neatly arranged.

Fredde Gredde as the Two Fredricks – The TV Theme Medley (2010)



Looking up Fredde online, I see that he’s done a series of videos like this in the past; seems like an accomplished player. Based in Sweden, Fredde’s youtube channel is here.

Here’s more fun:

Fredde Gredde – 32 songs in 8 minutes (2009)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Bits & Bytes: The Runaways, Aerosmith, Bret Michaels

The Runaways in theatres

Caught Kristen Stewart on tv this week promoting the new movie based on The Runaways . Based on the footage I’ve seen so far, she pulls off a real likeness to Joan Jett, who was involved as one of the executive producers.

Let’s hope the film rocks!

The Runaways – trailer (2010)



Scratch Aerosmith & Win

This week, the New Mexico Lottery launched the Aerosmith scratcher.


The $5 ticket could win buyers cash prizes up to $50,000, plus a chance to win a trip to a private Aerosmith party at the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in September.

Last year, Aerosmith teamed up with GTECH Corporation to develop a series of lottery scratch tickets; things launched last summer with the New Hampshire and Rhode Island lotteries.

Aerosmith - Rhode Island Lottery tv commercial (2009)



Bret Michaels scores on The Celebrity Apprentice

In the debut episode of the new Celebrity Apprentice, it was music vs. music as Poison’s Bret Michaels led the men’s team against Cyndi Lauper’s women’s team.

The first task was to manage a deli for a 3-hour period, building everything from the ground up: menus, meals, pricing, marketing, serving customers, taking in donations, etc. (remember: the series does raise money for charities).

Bret’s team basically doubled the revenue generated by Lauper’s, which meant Cyndi and crew were headed to the boardroom. When the team was unable, or unwilling, to really point fingers at anyone in particular for the loss, Donald Trump fired comedian Carol Leifer.

Celebrity Apprentice – Bret Michaels (2010)

Friday, March 19, 2010

1982: Randy Rhoads R.I.P.

On this day in 1982, the world lost Randy Rhoads, Ozzy Osbourne’s wunderkind guitarist, at the age of 25.

Riding high on the success of his first two solo albums, “Blizzard Of Ozz” and “Diary Of A Madman,” Ozzy’s tour stopped in Knoxville, TN for a show at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum on March 18, 1982. It was to be Randy Rhoads’ final performance.


Heading to Orlando for a festival performance opening for Foreigner at “Rock Super Bowl XIV” on the 20th, the band drove through the night, reportedly stopping for a break and to repair some parts on the tour bus. The entourage pulled into Leesburg, Florida, on property owned by Jerry Calhoun, owner of Florida Coach. There were two houses on site: one belonged to Calhoun; the other, to Ozzy tour bus driver Andrew Aycock.

To say that Aycock was a bit on edge would be an understatement: his ex-wife appeared at one of the band’s shows and insisted on accompanying the band to Florida. Reports suggest the two argued at the front of the bus through the night and, with cocaine in his system, the driver was likely already frazzled enough – none of which impressed Ozzy or then-girlfriend (and manager)Sharon Arden.

Ozzy Osbourne - Blizzard of Ozz - Crazy TrainOzzy Osbourne - Blizzard of Ozz - Crazy Train

Ozzy Osbourne – Crazy Train
After Hours – Rochester, NY April 28, 1981



The Leesburg property was large enough to also hold a small airstrip, which was lined with small helicopters and planes. In the early morning of the 19th, Aycock, a pilot himself, played the role of host by taking keyboardist Don Airey and tour manager Jake Duncan up for a test ride in a ’55 Beechcraft Bonanza F-35. Aycock then took a second flight up with Rhoads and hairdresser/seamstress Rachel Youngblood, which returned safely.

Fate then stepped in: Aycock talked Rhoads into going up for another flight. Despite his fear of flying, Randy agreed, for two reasons: Youngblood had a heart condition, so the pilot said he wouldn’t do anything risky with her along for the trip, and, because Rhoads wanted to take some aerial shots from the plane.

While most of the band and crew were asleep in the tour buses, the Bonanza flew overhead a few times at treetop level, 'buzzing' the buses below. One theory, about what happened next, suggests that the 'buzzing' was a move on the cocaine-fueled Aycock’s part to hit his ex-wife, who was standing a few yards from one of the buses. On the fourth fly-by – at approximately 140-180 mph and only about 10 feet above the ground - the left wing clipped the back end of the bus and the plane went through a pine tree before crashing into a nearby house, erupting in flames.

Rhoads, Youngblood (58) and Aycock (36) died instantly.

Ozzy, Sharon and others had been sleeping in their buses and awoke to the sound of the crash. It was approximately 10:00 a.m. Running to the burning house, Ozzy learned that a deaf man was living there; Ozzy heroically raced in and pulled him to safety.

An autopsy later revealed traces of cocaine in Aycocks’ system; Rhoads only had nicotine in his. The NTSB also found Aycock’s medical certificate had expired and that his biennial flight review (required for all pilots) was overdue.

In former Ozzy bassist Rudy Sarzo’s autobiography, “Off The Rails,” he states that Airey and drummer Tommy Aldridge witnessed the crash firsthand; they even suggested seeing a struggle in the cockpit between Aycock and Rhoads right before the incident. Was Randy trying to stop the madness? In his wired state, was Aycock intentionally trying to scare his ex-wife (or worse)? We’ll never know.

The world lost a promising young guitarist that day. I was in grade 13 at the time and, not long after the accident, I had to do my year-end English presentation. The course’s theme was mythology (we studied a bunch of The Doors’ material), and my final was on The Myth Of The Hero: there is a documented circle to the lifespan of a hero, and my subject was Eddie Van Halen. I can still recall the Q&A session that followed: with Eddie as the current guitar hero, a classmate asked who I thought was ‘next-in-line’ to the throne (all heroes are eventually knocked off the top, as the next one comes along). I immediately thought of Randy Rhoads, who was following in Ed’s footsteps, but with subtle differences; with his (then) recent passing, I suggested the field was wide open again.

An avid student of the guitar, Rhoads continued to take lessons while on the road with Ozzy, and was considering leaving the band to earn a degree in classical guitar at UCLA. Sadly, we’ll never know where his talent would have taken him, and us, for the ride.

Ozzy Osbourne - Blizzard of Ozz - I Don't KnowOzzy Osbourne - Blizzard of Ozz - I Don't Know

Ozzy Osbourne – I Don’t Know
After Hours – Rochester, NY April 28, 1981



Two weeks ago, The Metal Den announced that it had discovered Randy’s isolated master guitar track from “Crazy Train” – giving fans the chance to hear the guitar work free and clear of other instruments.

Ozzy Osbourne – Crazy Train
Randy Rhoads isolated guitar track



Thursday, March 18, 2010

pre-ZZ Top

I’ve been checking out some vintage ZZ Top lately; I mean, the real early stuff – "ZZ Top’s First Album" (’70), "Rio Grande Mud" (’72) and "Tejas" ('76). This is some of the tastiest blues-rock you’ll probably come across; don’t confuse it with the 80’s sound the band perfected with 1983’s “Eliminator.”

As the band celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, listening to this early material has made me curious about the era, including pre-ZZ stuff.

ZZ formed in late ’69 around guitarist Billy Gibbons, who had regional success in Texas with the Moving Sidewalks, whose final lineup was the original ZZ – with Lanier Greig on bass and Dan Mitchell on drums. ZZ’s first single, “Salt Lick” b/w “Miller’s Farm” was released on manager Bill Ham’s own label, before Greig was fired and replaced by Bill Ethridge. Gibbons then invited drummer Frank Beard of the Texas band American Blues to join him, and Beard brought bandmate Dusty Hill into the ZZ fold.

Trivia: “Salt Lick” and “Miller’s Farm” appeared on 2003’s “Chrome, Smoke & BBQ: The ZZ Top Box”

ZZ Top - Chrome, Smoke & BBQ: The ZZ Top Box (Box Set) [Remastered] - Salt LickZZ Top - Chrome, Smoke & BBQ: The ZZ Top Box (Box Set) [Remastered] - Salt Lick

ZZ Top - Chrome, Smoke & BBQ: The ZZ Top Box (Box Set) [Remastered] - Miller's FarmZZ Top - Chrome, Smoke & BBQ: The ZZ Top Box (Box Set) [Remastered] - Miller's Farm

Gibbons history is tres cool: the Moving Sidewalks released a series of singles and one album (“Flash,”in 1968), while opening Texas dates for both The Doors and Jimi Hendrix. Jimi was so taken with Gibbons’ talent, that he not only taught him a bunch of things, he even gave Billy a pink Strat as a momento. Gibbons’ profile was given a boost when Jimi named him as “America’s best young guitar player” during an appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.


Jimi Hendrix with The Moving Sidewalks, Houston, 1967
(Gibbons is 2nd from right in white shirt)


Trivia: legend has it that Gibbons met future ZZ Top manager Bill Ham backstage while partying as a fan at a Doors show in Houston in 1967.

Written by Gibbons, the Sidewalks had a local hit in Houston with “99th Floor,” which was #1 for six weeks.

The Moving Sidewalks - Platoon - 99th FloorThe Moving Sidewalks - Platoon - 99th Floor

The Moving Sidewalks – 99th Floor (1967)



"Pluto-Sept 31st" has a Hendrix vibe to it and is very representative of the era.

The Moving Sidewalks – Pluto–Sept 31st (1968)



I’ve been searching for audio or video clips on Dusty’s and Frank’s American Blues band; despite the fact they released two albums, I haven’t located anything...just yet.

Speaking of which...I have noticed that it’s pretty hard to find any video (or pictures, for that matter) of ZZ Top before the beards arrived in the late 70s; as it turned out, my hunch was correct: legend has it that the band refused to do any tv appearances through the 70s – ironic, given the band’s success with videos in the 80s.

Here’s a rare clip of the band live on their famous ‘76-‘77 Worldwide Texas Tour; with a stage in the shape of Texas, the show included cactus, live cattle, buffalo and snakes, among other things.

ZZ Top - Rio Grande Mud - ChevroletZZ Top - Rio Grande Mud - Chevrolet

ZZ Top – Chevrolet
Largo, Maryland - Nov 11, 1976

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

BREAKING NEWS: Fallon Scores Stones

Jimmy Fallon announced on his show tonight that “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” will be saluting the upcoming reissue of The Rolling Stones’ “Exile On Main Street,” with a week of special shows.

From May 10 – 14, live music will feature some high profile acts playing a song each night from the “Exile” album; while Fallon didn’t mention any names, he did suggest that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards will be there.

“Stones In Exile,” a new documentary about the making of the album, will be premiered on Fallon’s Friday, May 14 show. Directed by Stephen Kijak, the doc includes footage from "Ladies And Gentlemen…the Rolling Stones" and "Cocksucker Blues."

In stores May 18, the “Exile” reissue will feature ten previously unreleased tracks recorded during the original sessions.

Nice score for Fallon!

Happy St. Patrick's Day


Raise your green glass today and celebrate the feast of St. Patrick, patron saint of Ireland.

Some fun facts:
• St. Patrick was born in Britian, not Ireland.

• St. Patrick used the three-leaf clover – or “Shamrock” – to explain the Holy Trinity to the Irish people.

• One estimate suggests that there are about 10, 000 regular three-leaf clovers for every lucky four-leaf clover.

• According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the highest number of leaves on a clover is 18!

• In 2008, the same man who discovered an 18-leaf clover found a 21-leaf clover!

• Legend says that each leaf of the clover means something: the first is for hope, the second for faith, the third for love and the fourth for luck.

• The city of Chicago puts dye in the Chicago River to turn it green for a few hours today.

• Translated from Gaelic, "pogue mahone" means "kiss my arse". So, music from The Pogues and The Mahones, it is!


The Pogues - Rum Sodomy & The Lash - Dirty Old TownThe Pogues - Rum Sodomy & The Lash - Dirty Old Town

The Pogues – Dirty Old Town (1985)



The Mahones - Draggin' the Days - Across the U.S.A.The Mahones - Draggin' the Days - Across the U.S.A.

The Mahones – Across The U.S.A. (1994)



Thin Lizzy - Vagabonds of the Western World - Whisky in the Jar (Full Length Version)Thin Lizzy - Vagabonds of the Western World - Whisky in the Jar (Full Length Version)

A couple of classics from some killer Irish bands:

Thin Lizzy – Whiskey in The Jar (1973)



The Boomtown Rats - Best of the Boomtown Rats - Rat TrapThe Boomtown Rats - Best of the Boomtown Rats - Rat Trap

The Boomtown Rats – Rat Trap (1978)



Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Rock N Roll Birthday: Wolfgang Van Halen

Inspired by your existence, your dad names a song after your birth date once you hit the atmosphere; at the age of 5, your dad names a guitar after you; at 13, you play on stage with your dad during his famous solo spot; and by 15, you’re re-teaching your dad some of his most popular songs so that you can go on tour with him when you’re 16 – the year before a second guitar is named after you.

Your dad is Eddie Van Halen.

Happy Birthday to Wolfgang Van Halen, who turns 19 today.

Wolf has grown up in the most unusual of circumstances: the child of two celebrity parents (ahem, Valerie Bertinelli), VH fans were aware of him before he was born in 1991. Legend has it that Eddie would play a quiet instrumental piece while placing his guitar on Valerie’s stomach, and that the music soothed the child within; it was titled “316” and first appeared on VH’s “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge” (’91).

Van Halen - For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge - 316 Van Halen - For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge - 316

Wolfgang grew up during the Sammy Hagar years, and it was all he knew: once Hagar joined, VH essentially stopped playing Roth-ear material, with the exception of “Jump,” “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” and “Panama.” It was during the "Balance" tour (’95), that Wolf stumbled upon classic VH on the car radio, hearing “Hot For Teacher” for the first time but, while recognizing his dad’s guitar sound and style, had no idea who was singing.

Van Halen - 1984 - Hot for TeacherVan Halen - 1984 - Hot for Teacher

Van Halen - Hot For Teacher (1984)



The Peavey EVH Wolfgang was introduced when Eddie launched his own guitar line in ‘96; with a reputation in the Canadian music industry as a VH authority, Warner Music Canada approached me to help introduce the instrument by designing and running a national radio/online contest across Canada, which I did for the Rock Radio Network (RRN). Three years later, I finally snagged my own Peavey Wolfgang, and it plays ridiculously well to this day.

Taking to music at an early age, Wolf picked up drums and piano, and then the most daunting instrument of all: for Christmas ’03, Eddie gave him one of his three original guitars, which hadn’t seen the light of day since the "1984" album and tour. Few people have changed the nature of an instrument the way that Ed changed guitar; now his son was picking it up – much pressure, there?

The public got their first look at Wolf when he briefly joined Ed on stage during the 2004 “reunion” tour with Hagar: in the middle of Ed’s solo, Wolf walked out playing “316,” sat down next to his dad at the edge of the stage, and the two grinned from ear-to-ear.

On the home front, Ed played with his son at Wolf’s junior high school grad in 2005: Wolf’s band was called “Die Sheise” – German for “The S**t.”

Picking up bass at 14, Wolf has largely been credited for VH reconnecting with David Lee Roth and its roots: jamming in their home studio with dad and ‘Uncle” Alex, legend has it that Wolf not only picked the set list, but helped Eddie relearn parts of his early VH songs – material that formed the foundation of the band’s career (aka ‘the Roth years’). In the fall of 2006, Eddie announced that Wolf was joining VH as bassist, leaving Michael Anthony to his own devices.

There was six months of jamming before Roth walked in to Eddie’s “5150” studio on August 15, 2007, for the first Roth-VH rehearsal in years; everyone was impressed with the fit. Wolf was taken out of grade 11 for the 2007 tour, but still had work to do: 3-4 hrs a day of tutoring while on the road, which kept him on track to graduate in spring 2009. With graduation behind him, reports are that Wolf has been working on VH material for a new disc, possibly due later this spring, with rumours that a summer tour may be on the horizon.

Trivia: Wolf joined Ed in April 2008 for the first father-son cover in Guitar World magazine history.

After Ed road-tested prototypes on the '07-'08 tour, the EVH Wolfgang was introduced in 2009. Wolf has also impacted the VH franchise in other ways: when Guitar Hero: Van Halen was put together for release in ‘09, it was Wolf who selected the non-VH tracks for the game, based on his gaming expertise and personal tastes.

On the 2007 tour, there was certainly a lot of talk about Wolf’s role and whether or not he could actually play. Here’s a couple of videos from the Oakwood School Arts Fair in 2009 that should put any further speculation to rest….

Jimmy Eat World - Jimmy Eat World - The MiddleJimmy Eat World - Jimmy Eat World - The Middle

Wolfgang Van Halen – The Middle (Jimmy Eat World cover)
The Oakwood School Arts Fair 2009
(Wolf on lead vocals & guitar)



Papa Roach - Infest - Last ResortPapa Roach - Infest - Last Resort

Wolfgang Van Halen – Last Resort (Papa Roach cover)
The Oakwood School Arts Fair 2009
(Wolf on guitar)

Monday, March 15, 2010

RRHOF Inductions tonight

Tonight marks the 25th Annual Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony, as well as the opening of a new exhibit honoring the 2010 inductees at the RRHOF & Museum in Cleveland.

The inductions take place each year at the Waldorf Astoria in NYC. While most of these events are closed-door affairs - although filmed for potential use at some point - tonight’s a bit different: viewers in the USA can watch the event live on MSG’s national TV network, Fuse.

Here are the 2010 artist inductees:

ABBA
(inducted by Barry & Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees)
No reunion for the Swedish pop icons, and while two members will be there to give it a shot, the rumours are that only one will play.

GENESIS
(inducted by Trey Anastasio of Phish)
No reunion with Peter Gabriel, who’s in rehearsals for an upcoming tour; Phil Collins is still doing rehab for some spinal surgery, so he won’t be playing…who knows, maybe Trey steps in and something comes together?

THE HOLLIES
(inducted by “Little” Steven Van Zandt of the E Street Band)
Original guitarist Tony Hicks and drummer Bobby Elliott won’t make it due to UK tour commitments, so former members Graham Nash and Allan Clarke will sit in.

JIMMY CLIFF
(inducted by Wyclef Jean)
Reggae superstar who brought his music to the masses.

THE STOOGES
(inducted by Billy Joe from Green Day)
Punk pioneers from Michigan who were passed over 7 times before being voted in this year. Expect fireworks from leader Iggy Pop, and don't be surprised if Billy Joe joins 'em for a raucous live set.

Live performers include Faith Hill, Chris Isaak, Eric Burdon, Adam Levine & Jesse Carmichael of Maroon 5, Ronnie Spector and J. Geils Band singer Peter Wolf; several unannounced special guests are expected to be added to the list.