When it comes to the mating habits of female rock singers, today’s divas ain’t got nothin’ on Carly Simon. Taylor Swift may date and dump a dime-a-dozen variety of pop-boys simply to fuel her songwriting, but it’s mere kid stuff compared to Carly’s affairs. By the time she released her second album, “No Secrets,” in late 1972, she had liaised with Cat Stevens, Mick Jagger, Kris Kristofferson and future husband James Taylor – all bona fide artists. Many were hot for the sexy Simon, but the burning question of her career remains unanswered: just who IS she referring to in her career-defining song, “You’re So Vain,” which topped the charts 42 years ago this month?
The year is 1967 and you’re just out of high school. You’re burning your draft card, experimenting with various herbs, and licking acid from blotter papers while listening to “Norwegian Wood,” “Eight Miles High,” and “Light My Fire.” And psychedelia-loving hipster that you are, you’re ready to pull your long hair out every time the opening organ chords of “I’m a Believer” came piping from the nearest radio. Forty-eight years ago this week, The Monkees’ single “I’m a Believer” was getting more airplay than any other song in the country. Thanks to 1,051,280 advance orders, it went gold within two days of its November 1966 release and spent seven weeks at the top of the charts, making it the biggest selling record of 1967. You couldn’t escape the sound. Free-form FM was still in its infancy, and most of the nation’s gargantuan cars came equipped with only an AM dial. So, even the most musically savvy flower children couldn’t escape the pop hits of the day – many of which they considered bubblegum music. But I was a mere child of 7, and I absolutely loved both bubblegum and pop hits!
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Rockabilly King Carl Perkins? Yes, “Blue Suede Shoes.” Congratulations. I hope no one out there thinks that Elvis wrote this rockin’ ditty. His version seems to be the one everybody remembers. Chalk it up to hair and hips. But it was the El’s buddy Carl, the poor ‘ol sharecropper’s son from Tennessee, who wrote and first recorded it. Since its release in January 1956, there’s never been a shortage of blue suede in the world of rock. The song has been covered by everyone from The Beatles and Buddy Holly to Bill Haley and Pat Boone. But I’ll bet you didn’t know that some rather unlikely artists have also recorded and performed this most sacred of rock tunes. Here’s a smathering of some rather outré Blue Suede renditions, plus covers of other Perkins classics.
Between the ages of 13 and 20, yer usually date-less blogger spent many a Saturday night with an impassive middle-aged man sporting plastered hair, leisure suits, gold chains and the occasional sweater vest. His name was Don Kirshner, and he brought the top rock acts of the day into my living room with his syndicated late-night TV show. For many of us growing up in the 1970s, pre-car and pre-cash, the closest we came to attending an actual rock concert was staying up late to hear this pathologically unhip music impresario kick off 90 minutes of authentic live-on-tape rock performances.
“Like Mick Jagger in exact reverse.” That’s the way Keith Richards has described Mick Taylor, the straight-faced guitarist who was sucked into the carnal vortex of the Rolling Stones at the tender age of 20. He did more than just replace guitarist and founding member Brian Jones, he added a whole new dimension to the Stones’ dirty white-boy sound. His bluesy, melodic playing and ability to read a song were crucial to the success of the band’s three masterpiece albums: “Let it Bleed,” “Sticky Fingers,” and “Exile on Main Street.” He turns 67 tomorrow.
“I want to do biological research [to find a cure for] cancer, if it isn’t discovered by then.” So said future Led Zeppelin guitar great Jimmy Page to a TV program host who asked him his future plans, following the lad’s performance on a BBC talent show in 1957. So, should we be disappointed that the 13-year-old didn’t follow through with that lofty goal? Uh, no. Page is considered one of the world’s greatest musicians, primarily known for his 12 years with the hard-rocking, eardrum-shattering Zeppelin. But long before joining up with Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and John Bonham in 1968, he was considered a hot commodity — not only as a key member of seminal electric blues band The Yardbirds, but also as a highly sought-after session guitarist. His work can be heard on recordings by some of the most popular artists of the 1960s. Here’s a look at some of them.
Way back in drab, post-war England, teenaged boys with bad teeth and sun-starved skin – bored to tears with BBC Radio’s unflinching policy of airing nothing but show tunes and classical music – were stringing wires around their small, government-built “council houses” so they could tune in to the one radio station that gave them a reason to live. What they found – from across the English channel – was the infamous “pirate station,” Radio Luxembourg. What they heard was a black-sounding white man named Elvis Presley. And what changed their lives was a moody little tune called “Heartbreak Hotel.” Here’s a tribute to Elvis, on what would have been his 80th birthday.
It’s that time of year when we feel compelled to set ourselves up for failure by making unrealistic resolutions we’ll never keep. Once again we will resolve to quit doing all the naughty things we enjoy, heed the advice of gurus named Chopra, Weil, Tolle, and Oz, and embark on new lifestyles defined by words like organic, tantric, mantra, quinoa, and kale.I stopped making self-improvement resolutions a long time ago. Today, as always, I embrace my inner sloth, heed the words of gurus named Lennon, Dylan, Berry and Waits, and enjoy a lifestyle defined by words like riff, gig, mojo, backbeat, rave, juke, and a-wop-bop-a-loo-mop-a-wop-bam-boom. I prefer “old vinyl” to “new age,” amplification to meditation, and Prince to Pilates. But as yer humble blogger, I have a responsibility to guide you, my loyal followers, toward a more enriching reading experience. Therefore, I have made these 10 resolutions.
“Deep in the psychedelic wood / where a rock-n-roll martyr plays / you’ll find the enchanted neighborhood / of Brian Jones’s drug-haze days.” I’d hate like hell to be sued by the Disney Empire for parodying their Winnie the Pooh tune, but what better way to introduce the tale of a Rolling Stone who spent his final days in the former domain of Pooh’s creator, author A. A. Milne? Yes, the late 1960s marked the dawn of the Age of the Rock God, and like the deities of yore, they required grand pantheons. They found them in the form of once-venerated estates that dotted the tranquil British countryside. Here’s a look at some of the grandest and most pedigreed rock residences, starting with the House at Pooh Corner.
Throughout my teenage years (and for a good part of my 20s) the only date I ever had on New Year’s Eve was with Dick Clark. His New Year’s Rockin’ Eve TV specials provided me with a way to see the big acts of the day in the comfort of my living room. (You know the story: “Last night I saw a rock star in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas I’ll never know.”) Tonight marks the third year the show will be broadcast on ABC without the presence of its creator and long-time host, who passed away on April 18, 2012. Dick conceived the special in 1972, hoping to give viewers a hip alternative to the bland Guy Lombardo New Year’s Eve program that had aired every year since 1956. Here’s a look at those early shows.