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Category Archives: Life Events
Father’s Day June of 2015 I went to visit my daughter and son-in-law in San Marcos, Texas. She had a great plan for my special day. First a visit to a special exhibit of Rock n Roll concert posters of the 60,s, 70’s and 80’s, then dinner at an Oyster bar, followed by live rock music at a local watering hole.
These posters were to advertise live shows at venues in Austin like The Vulcan Gas Company, .Antone’s, and Armadillo World Headquarters. They cover a period of time from 1967 to 1982. Some of these posters predate the great psychedelic poster art of the early 60’s in San Francisco. Way before Austin become known as”the live music capital of the world” it had a vibrant local music culture. These posters capture that time period perfectly. The poster artists include Gilbert Shelton, Jim Franklin, Kerry Awn, Michael Priest, Danny Garrett, Guy Juke, Ken Featherston, and NOXX. The posters cover styles from psychedelic and realism to punk.
The posters were collected by Tom Wilmore and a few other generous donors. There are over 140 posters and handbills in the collection. The earliest posters are mainly from the Vulcan Gas Company and they are very psychedelic. The posters from Antoine’s are very realistic portraits of all of the great blues musicians that played there. The owner of Antoine’s insisted that the musicians be honored with realistic representations of their appearance. The later posters and handbills give us a glimpse into the vibrant Punk Rock scene that was happening in Austin in the early 80’s. Many of these posters and handbills were made by the famous Punk artist NOXX.
Jim Franklin was the main artist who did all the psychedelic poster art for the Vulcan Gas Company and Armadillo World Headquarters. Ironically, he studied art at the University of San Francisco. He is credited with making the Armadillo the symbol for Rock and Roll counterculture in Texas. He drew Armadillo’s for the covers of albums for Freddie King, Commander Cody, and Shiva’s Headband as well as for the posters of Armadillo World Headquarters.
Congratulations to Texas State University for putting on such an amazing art show. It was a mountaintop experience. The experience was made even sweeter because I shared it with my Daughter and Son-in-law!
There is an awesome book that has been published by the University of Texas Press called “Homegrown: Austin Music Posters 1967-1982”. You can find it on line at Amazon as well as many other sources. The book comes in paperback as well as a hardback coffee table book. Enjoy the pictures I took.
This experience has inspired me to write a series of blogs on rock n roll bands from Texas in the early 60’s. I will write about The 13th Floor Elevators, Bubble Puppy, Shiva’s Headband, and Bloodrock. Next up will be the amazing story of The 13th Floor Elevators…
This is an update to the blog I wrote on Moby Grape‘s debut LP. I finally obtained a “Mono” copy of the album with Don Stevenson giving the”The Finger” still intact on the cover! I picked this copy up at a brand new record store in Dallas called Josey Records. I picked this jewel up for $5.00. Not bad if you ask me. Josey Records is an amazing store. It’s the best record store I have been in since the late 70’s or the early 80’s. It was just voted the best record store in Dallas by The Dallas Observer. At any rate, I have attached a photo gallery of this great addition to my collection. Please note the new additions to my blogroll. I have added a couple of links to some great Jazz blogs as well as links to Josey Records and a direct link to my music collection that I am slowly getting posted to Discogs.
I have made a commitment to myself to get back to blogging on a regular basis. I have had a lot of things going on so it became a low priority. That’s all for now. More to come!
When I first wrote about the question of Led Zeppelin ripping off Spirit’s song “Taurus” as the basis for “Stairway to Heaven”, I got a number of very heated comments. The opinions split right down the middle of pro and con. Now the question will be settled in court.
The heirs of Randy California (Lead Guitar and founding member of Spirit) are suing Led Zeppelin to gain co-song writing credit for the song “Stairway to Heaven:. The suit alleges that Jimmy Page copied the opening of the Spirit song “Taurus” and used it as the basis of “Stairway to Heaven”. The band’s original bass player has also joined the suit.
There is no doubt that Jimmy Page and Randy California were friends and that Page admired the music and performance ability of Spirit. The instrumental “Taurus” was a staple of Spirit’s live shows. There can be no doubt that Jimmy Page watched Spirit perform the song several times. Zeppelin opened for Spirit on Zep’s first American tour.
The stakes are very high. “Stairway to Heaven” has grossed at least $600 million dollars for the surviving members of Zeppelin.
“Stairway” also bears a striking resemblance to a song by The Chocolate Watch Factory. They had a song called “And She’s Lonely”. Page would have heard this song when “The Watch Factory” toured with his band “The Yardbirds”. The plot thickens… Now the courts will decide.
I’ll keep you posted. If you’d like to make your own comparison, check out my blog from 10/29/2011. You can hear the song “Taurus” and draw your own conclusion.
So I go to my Vinyl Preservation Society of North Texas meeting last month and my friend Vince is there. He commented that he had read my blog on the group and eponymously titled album “Touch” and he brought something to show me. He had a copy of the album by Elyse Weinberg that “Touch” performed on as her backup band. They were credited on the album as a band called “Band of Thieves”. We looked on the back cover and low and behold, Bob Garlucci is credited as the arranger of all the songs. In addition, Neil Young sings back up on one of the tracks. The song “Band of Thieves” which was written by Elyse Weinberg is the same song the Cher covered. Elyse Weinberg is an interesting story herself. I am going to try to borrow this album and do a blog on it so that I can tell her story as well. Stay tuned for further details. It was quite a treat to hold this album in my hand. I asked Vince if he had listened to it. He said he only played it once and it didn’t really grab him. It was great verification of the research I had done on the “Touch” LP.
Lou Reed died October 27th, 2013 at the age of 71, in Southampton, New York. He died of complications of a liver transplant. An Icon of rock history, he left music a totally different place than the landscape that existed before his career began…
He was a complicated guy, to say the least. A bisexual Polygamist, he left behind two wives (He lived with both of them up until the day he died), one of which was Laurie Anderson, the great performance artist that he married in 2009. Laurie called him “A Prince and a Fighter.” He had been in bad health for some time. Life in the fast lane…
He was a founding member of The Velvet Underground. He was a close personal friend of Andy Warhol. Andy Painted the famous Banana that adorned the seminal LP “The Velvet Underground and Nico”. The music of The Velvet Underground is the great head water that sprang the Indie Rock, Punk Rock, Glam Rock and even the New Wave Rock movements (Ironic ain’t it?”). There would be no Ramones, no Talking Heads, no Weezer, No Marilyn Manson, no duel lead guitar sound, no nothing…no… nothin’…A giant has fallen and we must move on somehow…
“Sally Can’t Dance” was Lou Reed’s fourth solo album after he left The Velvet Underground. It was the follow up LP to his masterpiece “Berlin.” “Sally” sold more copies than any of Lou Reed’s other solo albums. It even out sold “Transformer”. “Transformer” contained his most famous song, “Take A Walk On The Wild Side.” (His tribute song to Andy Warhol’s “Factory”). “Wild Side” was his only top 40 hit, peaking at #16.
“Sally” peaked at #10 on the Billboard album charts. It was recorded in March and April 1974 and released in August 1974. Although there is not a single song on the LP a novice music listener would recognize as a hit on the radio, the album is full of songs that demonstrate exactly why Lou Reed is the legend that he is now. This album ROCKS!!
This album was the first solo LP that Lou Reed recorded in the United States. All of his other solo albums, up to this point in his life, were recorded in England. This was his first solo album that Lou Reed stayed out of the production of the record. (After it went to #10 he joked that he should be less involved in the production of his records.) It was also the first time he had reunited with a member of The Velvet Underground. Doug Yule plays bass on the album. He replaced John Cale in 1968 when Cale left the Underground.
All the songs were written by Lou Reed. Band members are as follows: Prakash John – Bass and Background vocals; Danny Weis – Guitar, Tambourine & Background vocals; Michael Fonfara – All keyboards, including the Mellotron on “Ennui”, and background vocals; Whitey Glan – Drums; Richie Dharma – Drums on “Kill Your Sons’ & “Ennui”, Doug Yule – Bass on “Billy”; Paul Fleisher – Sax on “Billy”;Michael Wendroff & Joanne Vent – Background vocals; Horns arranged by Lew Soloff with Reed, John, Weis, Fonfara & Katz; Horn players were: David Taylor, Lou Marini, Trevor Koehler, Hon Faddis, Alan Rubin, and Alex Foster. The Acoustic guitar on “Billy” is played by Lou Reed. The great Harmonica on this album is played by Steve Katz. Steve was the harmonica player for Blood, Sweat, and Tears.
1. Ride Sally Ride
2. Animal Language
3. Baby Face
4. N. Y. Stars
1. Kill Your Sons
3. Sally Cant Dance
I have had the privilege to see Paul McCartney 3 times. So when my friend Jim, who lives in Austin, called to invite me to see Paul in Austin, I almost declined the offer. Boy am I glad I didn’t. I witnessed history. Witnessing history is guaranteed when you go to a McCartney show. First of all, IT’S PAUL MCCARTNEY ON STAGE! Last time I checked he is a living legend. Second, he seems to always dust off a song or two that were never played live by the Beatles. Third: As many times as Paul McCartney has played in Texas, it was hard to believe when he announced from the stage at the Frank Erwin Center, that he had never played in Austin before. Paul was rewarded with a very enthusiastic crowd that was ready to rock, and Sir Paul and his powerful band delivered!
The ticket said it was an 8:00 pm start time and there was no opening band. We arrived around 7:40. A DJ started playing club mixes of Beatles songs at 8:00. At 8:30 the DJ left the stage and a pre-recorded soundtrack played while video screens displayed photos covering the entire life of Paul up to this moment. Paul and his band mates walked on stage proptly at 9:00 and launched into “8 Days a Week”.
The show alternated between Beatles songs and Wings songs. A real highlight of the first half of the show was a powerful version of the Wings song “Let Me Roll It“, followed up by a rocked up version of the Beatles song “Paperback Writer“.
An amazing thing happened during the opening of “Maybe I’m Amazed“: Paul forgot the opening cord sequence of the Piano intro. He handled it in fine form with his typical laid back demeanor on stage. He simply quipped “Well, at least you know we’re live…” The crowd ate it up. He simply restarted the song and went on.
In the middle of the show the band left McCartney on stage alone. He walked to a smaller stage that then elevated him way above the floor of the arena. He performed “Black Bird” which he described as song of social protest that was designed to give hope to Black Americans that were being discriminated against during the 60’s. He then performed a song he wrote for John Lennon called “Here Today“. He described the song as a conversation between he and John that never happened but should have. It was a very emotional moment.
In the next section Paul made history when he played two songs that had never been played live in Texas. He performed “Lovely Rita Meter Maid” and “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” from “Sargent Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band” It was awesome. The video screens showed old psychedelic videos from the 60’s that the Beatles had made for “Yellow Submarine” and “Magical Mystery Tour“. Very cool…
After “Mr. Kite“, Paul paid tribute to George Harrison. He started playing “Something” on a Ukulele. Slowly the band joined in one by one, leading up to the big guitar solo in the bridge of the song. It was a very emotional and very fitting tribute to George.
This led to the closing sequence of songs that included “Let It Be” and “Hey Jude“. I was trying to take a close up photo of Paul singing the line “The movement you need is on your shoulder…” during “Hey Jude“. I was zoomed in on McCartney’s face. He forgot the lyrics leading up to that line… I saw him “blah, blah,” the words and then recover. Putting this with the “Maybe I’m Amazed” piano gaffe, I wonder if age is finally catching up to Paul McCartney?
Paul came back twice for encores and closed the show with an awesome sequence of songs: “Yesterday”, “Helter Skelter” and the final songs of “Abbey Road” (Golden Slumbers, Carry that Weight, The End.) 2 and 1/2 hours of great music. The show ended at 11:30 and Paul had to come back and play the next night as well!
It is interesting that this tour is hitting smaller cities and not the usual big venues. Erwin Center only seats 12,000 for a show. So it may take some effort on your part to catch him this time around. But consider this: This might be the last time. Don’t miss this chance to see him live. He and his band mates will ROCK YOU! Paul will not disappoint. And when you are standing with everyone else singing “Hey Jude” at the top of your lungs, you will know that there is so much more that unites us all than divides us. “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make…”
Eight Days a Week
All My Loving
Listen to What the Man Said
Let Me Roll It
Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five
The Long and Winding Road
Maybe I’m Amazed
I’ve Just Seen a Face
We Can Work It Out
And I Love Her
Your Mother Should Know
All Together Now
Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!
Band on the Run
Back in the U.S.S.R.
Let It Be
Live and Let Die
Hi, Hi, Hi
Carry That Weight
Eric Clapton‘s 50th anniversary tour came through Dallas, Texas March 19th at the American Airlines Center. This tour is not getting the publicity of The Rolling Stones 50th anniversary tour, and it seems typical of Clapton to not toot his own horn like Mick and Keith do. Although it is not getting the attention of the media like The Stones tour, it is an equally important milestone in Rock n Roll history. On a beautiful spring evening in Dallas, the 67 year old guitar god proved that he is every bit the musician he has ever been.
Musician is a title that is earned and I don’t use lightly. Eric Clapton is a virtuoso musician of the highest level. In his understated, “Slow Hand” way he took us on a kaleidoscopic tour of his rich musical legacy. And what a tour it is…
I scored my tickets from a good friend I work out with. He called late Monday afternoon with the good news. Making it to a concert on a Tuesday night can be a little challenging and unfortunately we were late for the opening act The Wallflowers. This is Bob Dylan‘s son, Jakob Dylan‘s band. We sat down in our seats just in time to hear their best know song “One Headlight” . They sounded great, but we only heard their last four songs. It was a pleasant surprise to see that the arena was completely full for The Wallflowers. Apparently, most of the fans that attended the show had no problem being on time for the 7:30PM start time. This is the first concert I’ve been to in years where so many fans turned out for the opening act. Very impressive, and a great indication of the popularity of this great band.
After a brief intermission, Eric quietly strolled onto the stage with his incredible band: Doyle Bramhall II (guitar), Steve Jordan (drums), Chris Stainton (piano and keyboards), and Willie Weeks (bass), along with the amazing Paul Carrack (organ and keyboards), Greg Leisz (pedal steel guitar), and Michelle John and Sharon White (backing vocalists). Instead of kicking off the show with a bang, Eric started out the concert with two acoustic dominated songs: “Hello Old Friend” (A greeting to the crowd) and “My Father’s Eyes”. Both songs featured great pedal steel solos by Greg Leisz. After the first two songs, Clapton greeted the crowd by talking about how much he loved Dallas and that he considered it a second home. He then kicked it up a notch as the band launched in to “Tell The Truth” from his great Album Layla. This song featured outstanding solos from all three guitarists. Doyle Bramhall was amazing as he played his guitar Hendrix style (he plays left handed, with a right handed guitar that is turned upside down, so the bass strings are on the bottom and the treble strings are on the top). Up next was a song from Clapton’s new album “Old Sock” called Gotta Get Over. This song stood up well against all the other well known hits that Clapton played. A powerful cover of the Albert Collins song Black Cat Bone featured amazing guitar work by Clapton and Bramhall. Clapton then went back to his Derek and the Dominos days and performed Got to Get Better in a Little While. This song was smoking hot! It was a huge bonus that Clapton was touring with Paul Carrack. Paul is a living legend in England. He is sadly, only moderately well known in the U.S.A. Paul took the first of three turns at lead vocal with “Tempted” from his days with Squeeze. This magnificent song was magnificently sung by one of the best “Blue Eyed Soul” singers on the planet. It is also very appropriate that Eric Clapton occasionally played the roll of “side man” to another singer/song writer. It hearkened back to the days when he toured with Delaney and Bonnie. He had several times in his 50 year career that he just wanted to be the guitar player in the band. Next Clapton played the first song from his days with Cream as the band almost blew the roof off the arena with an extended version of Badge. This song brought the crowd to it’s feet for the first time in the show.
Clapton took a chair next and did an “unplugged” set that included Driftin’ Blues, (Written by Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers) a uptempo reggae version of Tears in Heaven that was only marginally effective, a great version of Lay Down Sally, Wonderful Tonight, and Layla.
Paul Carrack then returned to sing his great hit from his days with Ace: How Long (Has this been goin’ on?). Clapton turned in one of his best solos of the night during this song.
Then the concert went to a whole different level and I had one of the concert experiences that stay with you for a very long time… Clapton walked up to the microphone and said “Now, it’s Robert Johnson time!” I’m sure there were many in the arena that missed the significance of that moment, but it was not lost on me. Without Robert Johnson there would be no Rock-n-Roll. Few people know that 13 of his known recordings were made on the third floor of 508 Park Ave. in Dallas. Eric Clapton has been personally involved in saving and protecting this important historical property. Clapton and his band tore through Stones in My Passway, Love in Vain, Crossroads, and a powerful cover of Little Queen of Spades. This was what you paid to see. Powerful, raw blues guitar by the greatest living blues player on the planet. The last song before the encores was J.J. Cale’s song Cocaine.
The band return for two encores, Sunshine of Your Love, which was amazing, and Paul Carrack sent us all home with a rousing cover of the Joe Cocker song “High Time We Went”.
This tour is coming to an arena near you. I think it’s high time you went…
I hate to write another homage to another dead musician, but Alvin Lee, the legendary Blues Guitar player and founder of the band Ten Years After, died last week due to complications from a routine surgery. I have to write about him. He was too great to let this moment pass.
These things run in threes. There are those that call this anomaly a “Trifecta” . Somewhere in heaven there is a rehearsal studio and Alvin Lee, Van Cliburn, and Reg Presley are all jamming together.
Alvin Lee was an extremely underrated Guitar player. He rose to prominence in 1969 when Ten Years After was featured in the documentary film “Woodstock” His incendiary 11 minute jam on “I’m Goin’ Home” brought the house down. I never get tired of hearing it.
Ten Years After had 12 albums in the Billboard top 200. Although they only had one top forty hit, “I’d Love To Change The World” from their great album A Space in Time. I have always loved this album and since it contains Alvin Lee’s biggest hit, I thought I would post this album to my blog and share it with anyone who hasn’t heard it before. It’s a great one to own on vinyl. It sounds great, it’s kind of psychedelic, and it’s just great music.
Here is “A Space in Time” in it’s entirety. All of the songs on this album were written by Alvin Lee except “Uncle Jam” that was co-written by the entire band.
One of These Days
The music fades in and the Blues begin. Great harmonica on this song in addition to Alvin Lee’s great blues guitar work
Here They Come Spacey is all you can call this tune. I can hear the “space in time…”
I’d Love to Change The World The year is 1971. The Vietnam War is raging. There is enormous disenchantment with the way the world is heading. The feelings are global. Protest songs are everywhere. That’s one reason I love this song. Everyone else was trying to claim they had all the answers. Alvin Lee had the courage to say “I don’t know what to do…so I’ll leave it up to you…”
The technique of using electric and acoustic guitars in this song and the previous song shows the influence of Led Zeppelin. But still there is a lot of originality here. This song is the only Alvin Lee composition to make it into the top forty. It was #40 in 1971.
Over the Hill-Baby Won’t You Let Me Rock N Roll You
These last two songs merge into each other. This song sounds so much like a lot of rock music that is coming out of Indie bands. What’s old is new again… Then side one ends with a classic rocker.
Once There Was a Time
I love this acoustic blues intro of this song. It sounds ancient, like it came from one of the original Mississippi Delta Blues players.
Let The Sky Fall
This song has a typical R&B bass line and yet it is not typical in any other way. It also continues the “Spacey” sound of the record. There is a great “Trippy” guitar solo from Alvin in the middle of the song.
This song also got some good airplay. It is a song about drug addiction.
I’ve Been There Too
This song has a great sound and when Alvin Lee sings “I’ve been there too…” I believe him. The power chord chorus is great, as well. This song also gives you insight into how great a guitar player Alvin Lee was.
The intro is almost jazz. This is exactly what the title implies…A Jam. There is some really great piano playing on this cut.
So Alvin has left us, like Van Cliburn, and Reg Presley. He leaves behind his wife and daughter. My deepest sympathy for your loss. The sudden nature of his death could not have been easy. His music lives on and his memory should be preserved.
I was saddened to learn of the passing away of Van Cliburn this week. If it were not for him, I may have never taken up playing the piano. His victory at the 1958 Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition launched him into “Rock Star” status immediately. He is still the only “Classical” musician who has ever had a New York City ticker tape parade. The album you see above was the first classical LP to ever go platinum. So if you own a copy, especially an early copy like my copy, you own a historically important LP, even if it is not a rare LP.
He was born in 1934 in Shreveport, Louisiana, but moved to Kilgore, Texas in 1941. His dad was in the Oil & Gas business and his mother was a piano teacher. My Dad and I knew a very talented pianist in Dallas named Newel Oller. He grew up in Kilgore with Van Cliburn. His claim to fame was that he finish second in every piano contest he entered because Van always finished first. My Piano teacher and her son were close friends of Van and his mother. I never met him, however, I did see him perform live twice. Both times he played the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No 1 with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.
Van lived in Texas so long that we claimed him as a native. At the age of 13 he debuted with the Houston Symphony Orchestra. In 1954 he graduated from High School and enrolled at The Julliard School in New York City. In 1954 he won the Levintritt Award which included a debut with the New York Philharmonic. Then in 1958 (the year I was born) he made history.
It is impossible to communicate exactly how stunning his victory in Moscow was. It was like “The Miracle on Ice” in the 1980 Olympics, when the USA defeated the Soviet Union in hockey. No American had even come close to winning a major international piano competition. The United States was considered a backwater of classical music talent. All the great musicians were born in and trained in Europe. This was at the height of the cold war. The cold war was so cold that the jury had to get Nikita Khrushchev’s direct permission to award the prize to Van Cliburn. He was easily the crowds favorite. After he performed his concerto he received an 8 minute standing ovation. What set him apart was his more deliberate pace that he took with the music. In that time people had fallen in love with technical excellence and there was a lot of fast and loud playing. Van took the time to make music.
He returned to America in triumph. He appeared on the cover of “Time” magazine. I love this quote from the Time magazine article describing him as “The first man in history to be a Horowitz, Liberace, and Elvis Presley all rolled into one.”
In 1962 fans of Van Cliburn in Fort Worth, Texas organized “The Van Cliburn International Piano Competition“. There is now an Amateur Piano Competition in addition to the main competition. I entered the amateur competition a few years ago, but was not accepted. I need to hire a teacher again and practice more. The Van Cliburn competition has done much for international good will. It’s value cannot be overstated. This May will mark the 14th quadrennial competition. The Cliburn is one of the premiere competitions in the world.
Van Cliburn put classical piano playing on the map in the United States. He caused numerous people to take up the challenge of playing the Piano. His victory and fame caused my mother and father to encourage me to take up the hobby. I never dreamed where it would ultimately lead me.
So my condolences to Van Cliburn’s friends and relatives, as well as music lovers everywhere. The great ambassador of music has left us, but his music and his legacy will never fade.
Here it is in its entirety. One of the most famous classical LP’s of all time. The first classical LP to go platinum. Van Cliburn, Kirill Kondrashin (Who was the conductor in Moscow during the competition) and The RCA Symphony Orchestra.
The performance still resonates today and has inspired countless people to take up playing the piano, including yours truly…
Reg Presley, who was the lead singer of The Troggs, passed away today from lung cancer at the age of 71. His publisher Keith Altham stated “My dear old pal Reg Presley died today, one very real person in a sometimes very unreal world.” What a nice thing to say about someone. He must have been a good “Chap”. Altham stated that Presley died at home surrounded by his friends and family.
Wild Thing is one of the seminal songs of “garage rock”. It has to be up there with “Louie, Louie” as far as the history of rock n roll is concerned. It was covered, famously at the Monterrey Pop Festival by Jimi Hendrix. Wild thing was also covered by Bruce Springsteen. The Troggs never quit touring even though there star faded in the 70’s. They experienced a revival in the 90’s when REM covered their other hit song “Love is All Around”. So rest in peace Reg and thank you for your contribution to “Three Cords and the truth…”
In his honor Click here: Wild Thing by The Troggs