When White Artists Cover Black Music: It Rocks or it Flops

Mar 30, 2012 | 2982 Views | 0 Comments

Thirty-one years ago this week, Blondie's "Rapture" became the first rap song to hit the number one spot on the Billboard chart, introducing a whole new audience of white Americans to a provocative musical genre emerging from black artists like Grandmaster Flash, Kurtis Blow and the Sugarhill Gang.  A blonde on blonde chick rapping about a man from Mars who eats up cars, bars and guitars? Yes, brave, sexy Debbie Harry and her band of New York / New Wave punk-hipsters put their own spin on a distinctly urban black musical style - and it worked!  The... Read More »

Micky’s Monkee

Mar 8, 2012 | 2217 Views | 1 Comment

With the sad passing of the ever-youthful Davy Jones last week, I beg the question: who was your favorite Monkee?  For me it was pixie-faced Micky Dolenz, who turns 67 today. Why Micky?  Well, like Ringo, the real drummer on which his TV character was modeled, he just charmed the heck out of me with his goofiness. The son of Hollywood actors George and Janelle Dolenz, Micky began his career in 1956 as a bleached-blond child star in the TV show "Circus Boy" and went on to perform with a number of unsuccessful LA-area bands, including Micky... Read More »

She Loves Them. Yeah, yeah, yeah!

Feb 9, 2012 | 1946 Views | 1 Comment

Every family has its folk tales -- those sometimes sweet, often cringe-inducing stories we're forced to endure at every holiday gathering.  Like the time my grandfather decided to forgo dental expenses by removing his own teeth with the help of Canadian Club whiskey and a pair of pliers. Or that day back in 1960, when my prankster dad deposited a piece of fake rubber vomit on my aunt's expensive new sofa. Ah, but not all of my family's folk tales are gauche, mind you. In fact, at many gatherings the most anticipated and charming story of... Read More »

Neil Diamond: He Is, He Said

Jan 24, 2012 | 2893 Views | 7 Comments

The protagonist in the movie "What About Bob" attributes his failed marriage to this time-tested rule:  "There are two types of people in the world -- those who like Neil Diamond and those who don't. My ex-wife loves him." Well, despite the fact that Neil Diamond is sometimes rebuked by rockers for his symphonic serenades, I'm proud to say I'm a fan.  He wrote some of the most memorable pop songs of the 1960s, including "Cherry, Cherry,"  "I'm a Believer," "Solitary Man," and "Cracklin' Rosie."  And he's a good sport, too, appearing in movies ("Saving Silverman") and... Read More »

‘Scuse Me, While I Kiss This Guy

Nov 27, 2011 | 2428 Views | 1 Comment

Oh, Jimi Hendrix! Why did you have to swallow those 9 sleeping pills, suffocate in your own vomit, and deprive us of many more years of power-charged electric rock? You would have turned 73 years old today. We can only imagine what contributions you would have made had you not expired at age 27 in a London apartment. Had you lived, you might have experimented with myriad musical genres and collaborated with all types of people - from country artists to rap stars. In time, you would have moved beyond the guitar-smashing, guitar-burning gimmicks, stopped using your... Read More »