In the early 1960s, in a foggy land far from the steamy Mississippi Delta, there lived a small band of missionaries who spread the gospel of American blues music to British artists seeking spiritual enlightenment beyond the pulpit of mindless pop and traditional jazz. Alexis Korner, born on this date in 1928, was among those prophets. He forming England’s first amplified R&B/blues band, Blues Incorporated, with fellow musician Cyril Davies in 1961. Band members included now legendary performers such as drummer Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones, keyboardist Graham Bond, singer Long John Baldry, and singer/guitarist Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker of Cream.
Give an old record a loving home! Today is the eighth annual Record Store Day, so visit one of your local independently owned shops, browse the bins, and pick up a platter full of sound that you can actually hold in your hands — a shiny groooovy disc with a sleeve that doesn’t require a magnifying glass to read! And even if you no longer have a way to spin the record, stop in anyway. You’ll marvel at those old LP covers and find yourself saying, “I had that one…and that one…and OH, I forgot all about that one!” It’s like taking a trip in a time machine.
If you’re a three-chord-lovin’ rock-n-rolla living in New York City, stop by Joey Ramone Place in The Bowery today and bow your head in memory of punk rock pioneer Jeffrey Ross Hyman, better known as Joey Ramone. He died at age 49 on this date in 2001 after a 7-year battle with lymphoma.
The 1960s music scene had it all: folkies, mods, electric bluesmen, surf singers, soul scorchers, R&B belters, psychedelic hipsters…and one falsetto-voiced ukelele player who went by the name of Tiny Tim. No course on the decade’s pop culture would be complete without a mention of this eccentric celebrity.
Through the years, The Great and Powerful Walmart has banned countless CDs on the basis of album art and song lyrics they deem distasteful or obscene. These include releases by artists like Nirvana, Sheryl Crow, Prince, Marilyn Manson, The Goo Goo Dolls and Green Day. While profit-obsessed record company execs may take offense at Walmart’s music policing, the artists themselves probably couldn’t care less whether the world’s largest, most dehumanizing, morally righteous retail chain carries their wares. But there was one band from the 1960s – the MC5 – that didn’t take kindly to a local department store’s refusal to stock their record. And they sought revenge.
Can you imagine 1960s psychedelic rock music without the mystical aura of the sitar? We have Ravi Shankar to thank for that distinctive sound. The world’s most renowned sitar player, born on this date in 1920, inspired many of rock’s most famous musicians to incorporate the traditional Indian stringed instrument into their songs. Ironically, Ravi, a classical musician, never sought fame among the titans of rock. They sought him. His sitar vibe was unique to Western ears, and once rock’s 1960s alchemists discovered that sound, it would make a major impact on Western culture.
“We did it because we loved him.” That was the caption under a photo of four smiling Beatles that graced the back cover of a special edition “Paul is Dead” magazine that I bought in 1970. Beatlemania had come and gone, but I wasn’t ready to let go – especially of Paul, who was my current favorite. That 50-cent magazine became my trusted guide, leading me to the clues that proved Paul’s demise. Yes, Paul was dead. And his bandmates covered up his disappearance by replacing him with a double — because they loved him. And, more importantly, because they loved the record-buying fans who loved him. The story of faux Paul – “Faul” – was so full of cryptic elements, how could a girl like me who savored all things dark and mysterious NOT believe it! Here, then, is the story of the granddaddy of all rock myths.
Betcha didn’t know that Adolf Hitler was almost on the cover of The Beatles’ most revered album. That’s right. When art director Robert Fraser and designers Jann Haworth and Sir Peter Blake began working with the band to conceptualize the cover art for “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” they told each Beatle to compile a list of people they admired. The ever sardonic John Lennon suggested two historical figures bound to cause controversy: Jesus Christ and Adolf Hitler.
When the name of your band conjures up images of either (1) the human arse, (2) a vaudeville star named Brice, (3) a protagonist from an 18th century erotic novel by John Cleland, or (4) a character from a recurring ‘Playboy’ comic strip, you might have a bit of a problem being taken seriously. I’m referring to a mostly forgotten early ’70s band named Fanny. The thing is, they were taken seriously — at least for a while. They signed a major record deal, scored two top 40 hits, appeared on TV variety shows, and toured the U.S. with the big arena acts of the day — before fading into footnotes. David Bowie once said, “Revivify Fanny. And I will feel that my work is done.” So, Mr. Bowie, here’s my contribution.
When a group of sisters got together in the early ’60s to come up with a name for their rock and roll band, they turned to that greatest of reference guides — the dictionary. Leafing through the large tome, they came across the word “hedonist.” Definition: a pleasure seeker. Bingo! Formed in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, in 1964 by 17-year-old Patti Quatro, The Pleasure Seekers were born of Beatlemania and bred on Detroit muscle. They paid their dues in clubs and music festivals across the U.S., opened for a slew of big name rock stars, and became one of the first all-female bands to be signed by a major record label. But their biggest contribution to the world of rock came in the form of a 5-foot firecracker named Suzi Quatro.