The Day the Music Died

David Bowie Beaten by Cancer at 69

I managed to avoid the news today, until early evening. When I did hear it, it could hardly have been more shocking. David Bowie, Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, The Thin White Duke, had died. I am still reeling as I write this.

David Bowie

I don’t know how widely it was known that Bowie had been suffering with cancer for 18 months, but it had totally escaped my notice and the news of his death came as a total shock to me.

David Bowie really made it big during my school days, so many of my contemporaries worshipped him. I considered myself more of a hard rock fan and I struggled with his androgyny and showmanship, at the time. It was a bit too over the top for my taste. But there was no doubting the quality of the music and his innovation.

Eventually I came to terms with my reservations and bought almost all of his albums and saw him live twice, once from outside of an open air gig in Perth, when I couldn’t get a ticket.

David Bowie in a dress

David Bowie in a dress, too much for some young men to deal with.

In my school days he was Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane and I remember vividly a crowd of school friends going to see him at the Hammersmith Odeon (now known as the Apollo) when he announced he was retiring. They were still inconsolable when they returned to school.

It’s a well worn cliché to say that David Bowie changed all the time, but none the less true. Shortly after he ditched The Spiders from Mars, including Mick Ronson, who many believe did far more than arrange the songs from his space age period, Bowie took a dip into soul music, with the Young Americans album.

That album featured Luther Vandross, prominently, on backing vocals, long before many of us had heard of him. Not to mention a certain John Lennon, who had by then decamped to New York, on a couple of tracks.

The number of prominent musicians who wanted to and did work with David Bowie pretty much covers the length and breadth of popular music of the last half century. Messages and condolences have flooded in from all corners of music today, giving us a strong reminder that the most successful musicians of the golden age of British rock (the ’60s and ’70s) were a close knit club. I’ve already seen notices from Queen, The Rolling Stones, Jimmy Page, Mott the Hoople, Pete Townshend and Eric Clapton. Incidentally Clapton took the title of his 2013 album, Old Sock, from a term of endearment that Bowie used for him.

Of course he never limited himself to working with British musicians. Famously he moved to Europe in the mid 70′s and recorded the Berlin Trilogy of albums, Low, Heroes and Lodger, which were heavily influenced by German minimalist, ambient music.

David Bowie Stevie Ray Vaughan Nile Rodgers

David Bowie with Stevie Ray Vaughan and Nile Rodgers

He wrote and produced music for other artists, that proved to be their most successful, including, but not limited to, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and Mott the Hoople and was never adverse to spotting up and coming talent and collaborating with them. Texas blues guitar virtuoso Stevie Ray Vaughan, played on the Let’s Dance album, which was co-produced by Chic‘s Nile Rodgers and generated his biggest selling singles, including the title track, Modern Love and China Girl.

Bowie continued making diverse music in to the turn of the century, with Tin Machine and famous collaborations with Queen and Mick Jagger, while also acting in films and on Broadway, painting and writing. Early in the new millennium, after a heart attack, Bowie took a break from music that lasted until 2013, when he released The Next Day, which proved to be the fastest selling album at the time and his first UK number one album since 1993. Only last week, he released his final work, Blackstar.

Absolute tomes have been written about David Bowie‘s output, his influence on other musicians, the influences that he drew on and his diversity. I find it hard to come up with a term big enough to explain the huge loss that his passing is to the music world, but I am far from alone in that. In a short recent period, where some notable names have left us, I would say that this is probably the biggest loss in music since the aforementioned John Lennon was taken from us in 1980.

Rest in peace David, but we know that you’ll be back in another guise pretty soon.

By Max Power
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Ed Sheeran Joins a Fan to Sing his song at a Mall



Ed Sheeran Makes a Habit of Shocking his Fans

Ed Sheeran shocked the life out of a fan at a Canadian shopping mall. He heard his song being sung by a young girl on a stage at the centre of the mall, while he was shopping. He immediately left the shop he was in and joined the stunned teenager on stage for an impromptu performance.

Ed kind of makes a habit of this sort of thing. Unannounced, he joined some aboriginal school kids in their music workshop, while on tour in Australia.

Let’s not forget about the sensational official video for Thinking Out Loud, which Ed learned to dance for.


Ed Sheeran will be back in Australia in November and December this year and you can pick up tickets now.

In the meantime you can CLICK HERE to download Ed Sheeran’s music from iTunes or pick up some up from the links below.

By Max Power
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The Best Music on Letterman



The Best Music from The Late Show with David Letterman

The Late Show with David Letterman ended this week. Letterman has presented late night TV shows on NBC and CBS for 33 years. This tribute could possibly have been posted on our sister site OzTVReviews.com but it is mainly about the music. And if Rolling Stone magazine can fill their pages with stories about The Late Show, then why can’t we?

David-Letterman-with-Paul-Shaffer-and-the-CBS-Orchestra

Letterman has always divided people. There are plenty of fans, hence his 33 year stint in a tough market. But there are almost as many detractors, who don’t get his humour and find him unfunny. I must admit I’ve always found the show very hit and miss, with plenty of misses. But he always got the big names and segments from the show often made the headlines.

One large section of the show that I always found hard to swallow was Letterman and the producer’s penchant for giving screen time to rank amateurs. A huge cast of stage hands, costume ladies, cue card holders and the like were given lengthy and frequent on air presentation duties. This usually resulted in awkward, disjointed segments.

The frequent visitor Jack Hanna, who brought along an endless parade of wild animals from his zoo, also lacked on air skills and always looked very uncomfortable on the set.

But, all that aside, I was something of an addict and probably watched significantly more Late Shows than I missed in recent years.

As Mr Letterman said on the last show and regularly before that, the best part about the show was the music. Mostly he was referring to Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra, who were great. The guest musicians, like the comedy, was hit and miss. Much of it was missable, or dismissable, but often there were gems and thank god we live in an age where these performances are preserved and can be re-watched at will.

Thank you for your time David Letterman, but most of all thank you for the music.

Tom Jones – Burning Hell

As we said earlier, the Late Show often made the headlines and this one made big ones. Because Joaquin Phoenix showed up in a heavy beard and dark glasses and announced that he was giving up acting to become a rap artist… and very little else. It was like trying to draw blood from a stone for Letterman to get him to talk.

But the real reason this show should have hit the headlines was for the amazing performance by Tom Jones, singing the bluesy gospel song Burning Hell. Backed only by a drummer and an excellent slide guitarist

Click here to download music from Tom Jones

Foo Fighters with Zac Brown – War Pigs

The Foo Fighters are reportedly Dave Letterman‘s favourite band and they closed out the final show. But that was behind a montage of archive footage.

Only last year the Foos did a week’s residency on the Late Show, adding guest musicians to their line up each night. This was one of my favourites of those performances, where they were joined by Zac Brown to cover the Black Sabbath classic War Pigs.

Click here to download music from Foo Fighters

Sam Moore and David Sanborn – I Got News for You

The Soul Man legend, Sam Moore had guested on the equally legendary saxophonist, David Sanborn‘s album Here and Gone and consequently joined him on his Letterman performance. Sanborn wailed on the sax and Sam Moore showed he had lost nothing, despite his advancing years.

Sam Moore was of course best known for his partnership with Dave Prater, in the duo Sam and Dave. So he saw the irony of appearing on the David Letterman show with David Sanborn, as a result he had a special Tee shirt made up, which he flashes in the clip.

Click here to download music from Sam Moore

Click here to download music from David Sanborn

Janelle Monáe – Tightrope

This was my first ever glimpse of Janelle Monáe and she blew me away.

At first sight, I thought this was another rap act, of which there were far too many featured on the Late Show, in my opinion. But this performance was so full of energy and theatricality, you can not help but love it.

Click here to download music from Janelle Monáe



The Strypes – What a Shame

The was a lot of hype about The Strypes around the time of this performance. All the rock royalty were singing their praises, from Elton John to Dave Grohl. They were not wrong. Their rawness and energy was a breath of fresh air.

Click here to download music from The Strypes

St. Paul and The Broken Bones- Call Me

I’d seen St Paul and the Broken Bones previously on the Craig Ferguson show and they were awesome. I had not seen their earlier performance on Letterman, that he refers to in the clip. He asks them to blow it away and they totally delivered.


St. Paul and The Broken Bones – Call Me [Live… by eidurrasmussen

Click here to download music from St. Paul & The Broken Bones

Darlene Love – Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)

Letterman always finished his pre-christmas show with Darlene Love singing Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) and although it’s not Christmas now, I think we should too. It was always great to see how much Paul Shaffer enjoyed recreating that Phil Spector wall of sound.

Click here to download music from Darlene Love

Well that’s it… for now.

I’m sure that we have missed plenty of great performances from the show. If we’ve missed any of your favourites, please let us know in the comments below, if we agree, we may update the page.

If iTunes is not your thing, you can pick up music from all of the above artists from the links below.

By Max Power
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There is Now Only One Small Face

Ian McLagan of The Small Faces Joins Ronnie and Steve.

It was so sad to hear that Ian McLagan passed away on Wednesday, after suffering a stroke.

Ian was most well known as the keyboard player for two of my favourite bands, the Faces and the Small Faces. His distinctive Hammond B3 organ sound was a massive part of the British 60’s sound.

Ian McLagan RIP

Sadly this leaves Kenney Jones as the only surviving member of the seminal 60’s pop group the Small Faces. Lead singer and guitarist, Steve Marriott, died in a house fire in 1991. Bass player and songwriter, Ronnie Lane, succumbed to Multiple Sclerosis six years later.

Unlike the other members of the Small Faces, Ian came from the west side of London. He was not a founder member of the band, but was recruited when they had issues with their original keyboard man, Jimmy Winston, after their first two singles.

The Small Faces manager, Don Arden enlisted McLagan on a trial period in 1965, at £30 per week. He told him that he would get an equal share, once the trial was over. He did! He then got £20 per week, which is what the others were getting, despite playing gigs almost every night, for which Arden was raking in £1,000 per show.

When Steve Marriott quit the Small Faces in 1969 Ian McLagan stuck with Ronnie Lane and Kenney Jones. They recruited Rod Stewart and Ron Wood from the Jeff Beck Group. They dropped the “Small” part of their name, partly because Stewart and Wood towered over the original members by several inches.

Ian McLagan With Ron Wood and Rod Stewart

Eye, Eye! Mac With Ron Wood and Rod Stewart. Members of the Faces and the wide awake club

The Faces were even more successful than the Small Faces, especially in America, where the Small Faces never really broke, mainly due to their management concentrating on ripping them off at home.

Ian McLagan was something of a second string song writer in both bands, falling behind Marriott, Lane, Stewart and Wood, who wrote the majority of their hits. But he did have songs included on their albums, as well as having numerous co-writing credits for both bands. There is of course no questioning the contribution of his piano and organ sounds to the success of both the Faces and Small Faces.

After the Faces split in 1975 Mac continued to work with the individual members from time to time, joining Ronnie Wood on the Rolling Stones 1978 album Some Girls and in Ronnie’s side project The New Barbarians.

He released two solo albums in 1979 and 1980 that both received good reviews, but neither sold well.

Ian McLagan When he was Mod

Ian McLagan When he was Mod

As well as working with his old mates, Ian became a session player and backup musician, working with such notables as Jackson Browne, Joe Cocker, Bob Dylan, Melissa Etheridge, Bonnie Raitt, and Bruce Springsteen, amongst many others.

In 1997, McLagan joined Billy Bragg‘s band, The Blokes and toured extensively with him, as well as performing and co-writing songs on his 2002 album England, Half English.

McLagan moved to Austin in Texas and released a third solo album with his Bump Band. This band really kicked him into action, releasing Rise and Shine in 2004 and three albums in 2008 Here Comes Trouble, the concert album Extra Live, and Spiritual Boy, a tribute to his former band mate Ronnie Lane.

His final album United States was released earlier this year. Mac famously said that a retired musician was a corpse.

Ian wrote an autobiography, All the Rage: A Riotous Romp Through Rock & Roll History, in 2000. He added to it and reprinted it in 2013.

Mac married Keith Moon’s ex-wife Kim Kerrigan in 1978. But tragically she died in a car accident in Austin in 2006.

RIP Ian, you are in good company.

CLICK HERE to download Ian McLagan’s music from iTunes

By Max Power
Google

You can buy Ian McLagan’s music and books via the links below.

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Sound City

Dave Grohl’s Love Letter to the Sound City Recording Studio

Dave Grohl, of the Foo Fighters, has produced and directed an excellent documentary about the legendary Los Angeles recording studio, Sound City.

The film, the music, the whole project is a labour of love for Dave Grohl. He loves the history of the studio, the music that was recorded there, the equipment that was used and the musicians, technicians and producers who were involved.

That love shines through, in what is a must see documentary for any and all lovers of rock music.

Sound City Documentary

For the uninitiated, Sound City was a recording studio that achieved fame in the 1970′s after being used to record numerous great albums and tracks. Lyndsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks recorded their eponymous album there. Mick Fleetwood stumbled across them there, when he was staking out studios, which led to the formation of the most successful incarnation of Fleetwood Mac and the recording of the Grammy Award winning Rumours, which sold over 45 million copies.

Other famous albums recorded at Sound City in the 70′s include Elton John‘s Caribou, The Grateful Dead‘s Terrapin Station, Nils Lofgren‘s first album, REO Speedwagon‘s humorously named You Can Tune a Piano, but You Can’t Tuna Fish, Cheap Trick‘s Heaven Tonight and Foreigner‘s Double Vision.

Sound City Studio Exterior

Sound City Studio in it’s heyday

At the end of the decade Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, practically took up residence at Sound City, recording four albums there between 1979 and 1996.

Rick Springfield recorded his most successful music at Sound City and was managed by the studios owners, Joe Gottfried and Tom Skeeter.

Numerous other successful bands recorded there, in fact it is believed that at one stage 7 or 8 out of 10 records played on rock radio were recorded at Sound City.

But let’s jump to 1991 when a young band from Seattle, called Nirvana, recorded their first album at Sound City and Dave Grohl‘s love affair with the place began.

At the heart of the Sound City‘s success was the purported best drum sound around and the high tech, analogue Neve 24 track recording console.

The documentary includes a ‘simple’ layman’s explanation of the equipment and set up of the studio’s Neve console, while Mr Grohl provides some amusing grimaces and subtitles.

Archive footage and anecdotes of the glory days of Sound City are provided by the musicians who recorded there and the staff that worked there. These contributions include lots of footage from Lyndsey Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood, John Fogerty, Tom Petty and his Heartbreakers, Trent Reznor, Rick Rubin, Rick Springfield, Butch Vig, Lee Ving, Neil Young and many more.

The advent of digital technology and eventually Pro Tools meant that much of the music heard on the radio these days is recorded on someone’s laptop, according to prolific record producer Rick Rubin. This led to the demise of Sound City studio.

As a result Dave Grohl bought the famed Neve console and had it moved to his own studio. The next part of the film details the recording of some of the songs that Grohl has recorded with the new set up and with some of the musicians who had previously recorded at Sound City.

Dave Grohl Sound City Neve Console

Dave Grohl and the famed Sound City Neve Console

Stevie Nicks produces some of her spooky awesomeness, Rick Springfield rocks of out with the Foo Fighters and Paul McCartney lays down some dirty guitar work with the star struck surviving members of Nirvana.

CLICK HERE to download the documentary film Sound City from iTunes

Our narrative description can not hope to achieve the level of love of music and the subject matter achieved in this film and if you have not seen it already, I highly recommend that you see it as soon as you get a chance… then buy the soundtrack album.

CLICK HERE to download Sound City – Real to Reel from iTunes

The quality of fun and interest in this documentary continues all the way through the closing credits, so don’t leave early.

By Max Power
Google

You can also purchase the film, sound track and individual recordings from the links below.

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Save the Last Dance for Doc

You May not Have Heard of Doc Pomus but His Music is the Soundtrack to Our Lives.

One of the most popular dance songs of all time was written by a man with Polio, who could not dance.

Doc Pomus is little known outside of the music industry, but this prolific songwriter wrote some of the most well known songs of the early Rock ‘n Roll era, including 25 songs for Elvis Presley and hits for The Coasters, The Drifters, The Searchers, Dion and the Belmonts and so many more.

Still not ringing any bells? Well how about the songs?

A Teenager in Love, Save The Last Dance For Me, This Magic Moment, Turn Me Loose, Sweets For My Sweet, (a hit for the Drifters and then the Searchers), Little Sister, (Marie’s the Name) His Latest Flame, Mess of Blues and Viva Las Vegas. Sound familiar?

As well as these hits, Doc Pomus wrote songs for, or collaborated with, Ray Charles, Dr John (AKA “Mac” Rebennack), Willy DeVille, B.B. King, Irma Thomas, Marianne Faithfull, Charlie Rich, Phil Spector, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller to name a few. A pretty impressive CV for someone most people have never heard of, don’t you think?

So who was Doc Pomus and what was his story?

Let me tell you…

Doc Pomus was born Jerome Solon Felder in Brooklyn, New York, on June 27, 1925, the son of Jewish immigrants. He contracted polio when he was 6 years old and as a result relied on crutches or a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

Doc Pomus singing at a Blues club

Doc Pomus singing at a Blues club

He became a fan of blues music after hearing a Big Joe Turner record as a teenager, adopted the stage name Doc Pomus and began performing as a blues singer.

This was incredibly rare for a white Jewish man at that time. In fact, he said that more often than not, he was the only Caucasian in the clubs, but that as a Jew and a polio victim, he felt a special “underdog” kinship with African Americans. While in turn, the audiences both respected his courage and were impressed with his talent. He recorded over 40 songs as a singer in the 1940s and ’50s and sang in a thousand blues clubs.

But in his early thirties he wanted to get married and realised that he could never support himself and a family as a singer. So he decided to become a songwriter and enlisted his long term piano-playing partner, Mort Shuman, as his collaborator. Their collaboration mostly involved Pomus writing the lyrics and Shuman the melody, but occasionally each worked on both.

They got themselves an office in New York’s legendary song writing HQ, The Brill Building and proceeded to churn out the hits.

A Teenager in Love was a huge hit for Dion and the Belmonts

A Teenager in Love was originally called ‘Oh To Be A Teenager in Love’, but Doc realised that teenage love was not that great, it was full of angst and hence the lyrics that so many teenagers felt an affinity with.

The Dion version of the song reached number 5 on the American Billboard chart, but in May 1959, it held three positions in the British Top 20, the other two versions were by Marty Wilde and Craig Douglas.

It has subsequently been covered by artists as diverse as Bob Marley and The Wailers, Simon and Garfunkel, The Fleetwoods, Helen Shapiro, Connie Stevens and the Mutations on The Muppet Show in 1976, Less Than Jake in 2002 and the Red Hot Chili Peppers in the same year.

The story of Save the Last Dance for Me is rumoured to be based on Doc’s wedding day experience, where he was unable to dance with his wife, because of his polio, so he encouraged her to dance with his friends and male family members.

Ben E. King and the Drifters recorded This Magic Moment in 1960, reaching number 16 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was covered in 1969 by Jay and the Americans and this time went to number 6. It has since been used in the film The Sandlot and the television show The Sopranos, not to mention recently in an ad for the TAB in Australia. Ooops! Sorry we did mention it.

CLICK HERE to download music from Ben E. King & The Drifters from iTunes

Pomus and Schuman were recruited to provide some of the humongous number of songs that Elvis Presley was required to record during his moviemaking days. They contributed over 20 songs, among them Little Sister, Viva Las Vegas, Mess of Blues and one of my personal favourites (Marie’s the Name) His Latest Flame.

Doc was driving in his car one day and was struck by the sounds of the car horns blaring. When he got to the studio, he attempted to assimilate the sound of the horns and wrote an introduction to a song he initially called “A Crowded Avenue”. Later, the work progressed with Mort Shuman. A chorus was added and the name of the song was changed to Can’t Get Used to Losing You. It became one of the biggest hits for Andy Williams, in 1963.

In the mid 60’s Doc had a quite serious accident, when he was tipped out of his wheelchair after hitting a crack in a New York pavement. A low period in his life followed, his marriage broke up, his partnership with Mort Shuman ended and his fortunes took a downturn. Everyone seemed to be recording their own songs and the demand for his material waned.

He took a break from song writing and became a professional gambler, for a decade. But he eventually realised that having his apartment full of degenerate gamblers was not the ideal way to bring up his kids.

He partnered with Dr John (Mac Rebennack) and Willy DeVille and wrote gems for both of them and B.B. King.

This one is a favourite Mink DeVille song of mine that Willy wrote with the Doc.

CLICK HERE to download music from Mink DeVille from iTunes

Doc was always a champion of down on their luck musicians and others. He often held court in various bars, restaurants and the foyers of the hotels that he lived in, welcoming the night people of New York.

One such musician was Jimmy Scott (AKA Little Jimmy Scott ) and Doc wrote to Billboard magazine bemoaning the fact that too often the music business waits until someone is dead to declare how great they were and that someone should give Jimmy a record deal.

Ironically, Jimmy Scott sang at Doc’s funeral and as a result was signed to Sire Records and regularly worked with Lou Reed thereafter.

Doc died from Lung Cancer in 1991 and his funeral was said to be the most astonishing, touching music funeral New York ever saw. His own music was played gospel style and Jimmy Scott’s performance of Someone to Watch Over Me brought the crowd to tears.

CLICK HERE to download music from Doc Pomus from iTunes

The 1995 album Till the Night is Gone: A Tribute to Doc Pomus
features recordings of fourteen of Doc Pomus’s songs by artists such as Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, John Hiatt, and Roseanne Cash. That has got to be worth checking out.

By Max Power
Google

You can find links to music, books and videos from Doc Pomus, his influencers and collaborators below

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Cream Legend Jack Bruce Dies

The Cream Bass Player, Singer and Song Writer Bows Out

It was sad to hear about the passing of another legend of rock’s classic era passing away over night.

Cream Farewell Concert

Jack Bruce Front and Centre at Cream’s Farewell Concert

Cream may have been the band that really launched Eric Clapton onto the world, but it was Jack Bruce who wrote and sang most of their songs. Not to mention his legendary bass lines.

The BBC reported 71 year old Jack’s passing

Jack Bruce, bassist from 1960s band Cream, has died aged 71, his publicist confirms.

Jack played harmonica too

Jack played harmonica too

Legendary supergroup Cream, which also included Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker, are now considered one of the most important bands in rock history.

They sold 35 million albums in just over two years and were given the first ever platinum disc for Wheels of Fire.

Bruce wrote and sang most of the songs, including “I Feel Free” and “Sunshine Of Your Love”.

Born in the Glasgow suburb of Bishopbriggs in 1943, his parents travelled extensively in Canada and the USA and the young Jack attended 14 different schools.

He finished his formal education at Bellahouston Academy and the Royal Scottish Academy of Music, to which he won a scholarship for cello and composition.

He left the academy and Scotland at the age of 16 and eventually found his way to London where he became a member of the influential Alexis Korner’s Blues Inc, where Charlie Watts, later to join the Rolling Stones, was the drummer.

He played in a number of bands throughout the early 60s, including John Mayall’s Blues Breakers and Manfred Mann before joining Clapton and Baker in Cream.

Cream split in November 1968 at the height of their popularity, with Bruce feeling he had strayed too far from his ideals.

Bruce never again reached the commercial heights he did with Cream but his reputation as one of the best bass guitarists in the business grew throughout the subsequent decades.

Cream induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Cream induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

In May 2005, he reunited with his former Cream bandmates for a series of concerts at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

Bruce’s death was announced on his official website, and confirmed by his publicist Claire Singers.

She said: “He died today at his home in Suffolk surrounded by his family.”

A statement from his family said: “It is with great sadness that we, Jack’s family, announce the passing of our beloved Jack: husband, father and granddad and all-round legend.

“The world of music will be a poorer place without him, but he lives on in his music and forever in our hearts.”

More at Cream bassist Jack Bruce dies, aged 71

Jack Bruce’s official website is JackBruce.com

So any thoughts of another Cream revival are out of the question, but as his family’s statement said, his music will live on and surely this riff will be played by wannabe rock bass players, in music stores the world over, forever.

CLICK HERE to download Jack Bruce’s music from iTunes

CLICK HERE to download music from Cream from iTunes

R.I.P. Jack

By Max Power
Google

You can pick up Jack Bruce music and memorobilia from the links below.

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Ronnie Lane, the Story of a Great British Songwriter.



What you Need to Know About the Leading Member of The Faces and The Small Faces

Ronnie Lane was a British musician whose career ran from the 1960’s to the 1990’s. His life was one of great music and a lot of partying (his nickname was Plonk), but was thwart with bad luck, bad decisions and a debilitating disease that prematurely ended his career and his time here amongst us.

Ronnie Lane

I should probably declare some nepotism and vested interest from the outset. Ronnie Lane’s brother Stan was a good friend of my dad’s. Stan was a bit younger than my dad, kind of trendy and great fun to be around. He ran market stalls around the East End of London, that me, my dad and my brother all worked on during the peak of The Faces success.

However, all of this only piqued my interest in Ronnie. I would not still be such a huge fan of his, 40 years later, if there was not something substantial about his music… and some really great songs.

The Small Faces

Ronnie’s musical career began when he was very young. He met Steve Marriott in a music store when buying a guitar, they hit it off and decided to form the band that became The Small Faces.

The Small Faces had early success. Their debut single, Whatcha Gonna Do About It, reached number 14 in the British charts, when Ronnie was only 19. More hits followed including Sha-La-La-La-Lee, which reached number 3 in the charts. Coincidentally Sha-La-La-La-Lee was written by the popular TV star of the time, Kenny Lynch and right then, I was attending school with Kenny’s nephew. Will these connections never end?

The Small Faces were also rated as one of the highest-grossing live acts in the UK during the mid to late 60’s.

But, unfortunately, the man they had chosen to manage their early career was the notorious Don Arden, Sharon Osborne’s father.

Although he managed to secure a lot of work and promotion for the band, Arden was overly concerned with lining his own pockets and had the boys running up and down the country in the back of a van, playing practically every night, while paying them only about £20 a week each.

When the Small Faces confronted Don Arden he faced down their parents, claiming that the whole band were using drugs. They probably were! This was the 60’s and they were musicians, but that did not entitle him to pocket the lion’s share of their earnings.

The Small Faces spilt with Arden and Decca, their first record label. They signed with the Immediate label, formed by ex-Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham. But, while musical success continued, financial success continued to elude them.

Great singles like Here Comes The Nice, Itchycoo Park, Lazy Sunday and Tin Soldier were released and they all fared well in the British charts.

The Small Faces psychedelia-influenced album Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake is widely regarded as a classic album. It stayed at No. 1 in the UK Album Chart for six weeks.

The Small Faces Ronnie Lane and Steve Marriott

Ronnie Lane and Steve Marriott were well established amongst the great British song writing duos of the day, only just behind Lennon and McCartney and Jagger/Richards.

The problem for the Small Faces at Immediate was that they were the only commercially successful act and as such, they were financing the whole label. This continual financial pressure meant that there was no room for promoting the band in America and unlike many of their contemporaries, they never cracked that huge market.

These pressures took their toll and Marriott officially quit the band at the end of 1968, walking off stage during a live New Year’s Eve gig, at Alexander Palace, yelling “I quit”.

CLICK HERE to downlaod the Small Faces music from iTunes

The Faces

With the departure of Marriott, the Small Faces floundered for a while. There were thoughts of Ronnie becoming the lead singer, but Marriott’s was a big voice to follow.

The Faces Ron Wood Ronnie Lane  Rod Stewart

Shortly afterwards, they joined with Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood from the Jeff Beck Group and renamed themselves The Faces, as the newest members did not meet the small criteria. Not to mention the fact that they were going to perform an entirely different repertoire.

Unlike the Small Faces, the Faces were huge in America, among the top-grossing live acts in that period. Their singles were successful, Had Me a Real Good Time, their breakthrough UK hit Stay with Me, Cindy Incidentally and Pool Hall Richard amongst the most popular.

Ronnie finally made some money out of his musical career.

Although there was some frustration creeping in at the band becoming known as Rod Stewart’s backing band, Ronnie Lane continued to contribute great songs to The Faces catalogue.


Debris from A Nod Is as Good as a Wink… to a Blind Horse. Featuring Ronnie on Lead vocals and Mr Stewart backing.

By 1973 those frustrations and a yearning to find out if he could do more as an entertainer, forced Ronnie to quit his own band.

CLICK HERE to downlaod The Faces music from iTunes

Slim Chance and Beyond

Once he had gone solo and put together his own backing band, Slim Chance, Ronnie’s songs took a somewhat different direction to the pop, rock and RnB that he was known for, with both versions of the Faces.

Ronnie’s solo and Slim Chance work took on a more folky influence and some would say produced many of the best songs of his whole career.


But what hadn’t changed was Ronnie’s financial misfortunes. His first solo single How Come was a hit, reaching number 11 in the UK charts. His second single, The Poacher, was doing well, when he was booked to perform it on, Britain’s most popular TV music show of the time, Top of the Pops.

But when they turned up at the studio, they were told there would be no Top of the Pops that week, due to a technician’s strike. The song struggled and peaked at number 36 in the charts. One commentator in the Ronnie Lane documentary, The Passing Show, believes that this may have been a turning point in the success of Ronnie’s solo career. I think it was just one of many unfortunate incidents that combined to deny him the success that he deserved.


Unfortunately I have only been able to locate the 2nd and 3rd segements of The Passing Show Documentary, but it is still well worth watching.

One of Ronnie’s great creative, but financially unsound, decisions was to tour the UK with a show labelled The Passing Show. He hired a big top and all the accoutrements and toured the country with a show that was part Rock and Roll, part circus. But failures in organization and marketing meant that Ronnie lost big money on the venture.

One of his better decisions, was to buy a 26′ Airstream trailer and equip it as a mobile recording studio. It was one of the first ever mobile recording studios and allowed Ronnie to record himself and Slim Chance at the Welsh farm where he set up residence, or anywhere else for that matter. The Ronnie Lane Mobile was also hired out and used to record numerous well known albums of the era including

• Eric Clapton, Rainbow Concert (1973)
• Rory Gallagher, Irish Tour ’74 (1974)
The Who: Quadrophenia (1973) and The Who By Numbers (1975)
• Rick Wakeman: Journey to the Centre of the Earth (live) (1974)
• Bad Company: Bad Company (1974) and Straight Shooter (1975)
• Mott the Hoople: Drive On (1975)
• Led Zeppelin: Physical Graffiti (1975)

This provided Ronnie with a great deal of financial relief, at a time when he really needed it.

CLICK HERE to downlaod music from Ronnie Lane’s Slim Chance from iTunes



In addition to his Slim Chance work, there were a number of musical collaborations that Ronnie was involved with. His cohorts and fans included Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Pete Townshend, Steve Marriott and Ron Wood. He was immensely popular with other musicians. A musician’s musician, if ever there was one.

His Rough Mix album with Pete Townshend, was released in 1977 and was rated as a contender for best album of the year by many. But, as was often the case in Ronnie’s career, the label did not promote it and sales were lacklustre.

Rough Mix promo Ronnie Lane and Pete Townshend

All negatives aside, none of this stopped Ronnie producing great music, while he was still able. Songs like Annie, Anymore for Anymore, April Fool, Chicken Wired, Kuschty Rye, Walk on Bye, Don’t Try & Change My Mind, One for the Road and so many more, have to be checked out if you are not familiar with them, or even if you are.

Ronnie was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1977. It is a hereditary condition that had affected his mother for many years before her death. MS disrupts the ability of parts of the nervous system to communicate, resulting in a wide range of symptoms, including muscle weakness, abnormal muscle spasms, or difficulty moving; difficulties with coordination and balance; problems in speech, all of which severely limited Ronnie’s ability to play music, sing or indeed make a living.

In 1983 Ronnie’s girlfriend Boo Oldfield contacted the famous British record producer, Glyn Johns, with a view to organising a concert to help Ronnie financially. All the British music royalty were keen to take part. But Ronnie insisted that any funds raised should benefit all MS sufferers and not just himself. He founded Action for Research into Multiple Sclerosis (ARMS) to this end.

The resulting concerts in London and the USA featured Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts, Ronnie Wood, Kenney Jones, Andy Fairweather-Low, Joe Cocker, Paul Rodgers and others.

Multiple Sclerosis finally beat Ronnie in 1997 and he died in Trinidad, Colorado on 4th June 1997

Ronnie Lane is still fondly remembered, both within the music business and by a loyal group of fans, some of whom have bandied together in The Ronnie Lane Appreciation Group on Facebook. Join them if you would like to know more, or exchange reminiscences of the great man and his music.

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More Reading

Top 10 Ronnie Lane Songs

The Forgotten Music Of Ronnie Lane

Ronnie Lane: the great, underappreciated British songwriter

Obituary: Ronnie Lane

Official Ronnie Lane Facebook Page

Official Slim Chance Facebook Page

By Max Power
Google

You can find more Ronnie Lane music and memorobilia in the links below.

CLICK HERE for Ronnie Lane Albums from Amazon

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What Every Music Fan Needs To Know About Sister Rosetta Tharpe



The Story Of Sister Rosetta Tharpe

She would sing until you cried and then
She would sing until you danced for joy

Sister Rosetta Tharpe was born on March 20th 1915. She was an American singer, songwriter, guitarist and recording artist. A largely unheralded, ground breaker of twentieth-century music.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Sister Rosetta Tharpe was hugely influential on the Rock and Roll pioneers like Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley who followed her. She was later often referred to as the original soul sister and the Godmother of Rock n’ Roll.

She began singing and playing music at a very early age and moved from America’s cotton picking south to Chicago, when she was only 6 years old. Where she became a child star of the church as a gospel performer.

The British documentary The Story Of Sister Rosetta Tharpe was made for BBC Four. We include segments of it here for further information, the interviews with people who knew her and of course, the great music that was included.

CLICK HERE to download the music of Sister Rosetta Tharpe from iTunes

When Rosetta moved to New York and crossed over to secular music she soon became a star of the famous Cotton Club. This led to a recording contract and successful tours all over the USA. Her 1944 hit Strange Things Happen Every Day has been credited by some people as the first ever Rock n Roll record and has since been covered by Michelle Shocked, Johnny Cash, Linda Gail Lewis, and Tom Jones.

CLICK HERE to download the music of Sister Rosetta Tharpe from iTunes



Rosetta was the innovator of the Tour Bus, including beds on her bus out of necessity, because the racial segregation of the time often meant that hotels would not accommodate her and her band. She was also a free spirit in her personal life, partnering with Marie Knight both professionally and personally after two failed marriages to men. When that relationship broke down, she married in a public ceremony in front of 25,000 people at Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C. in 1951.

CLICK HERE to download the music of Sister Rosetta Tharpe from iTunes

When Sister Rosetta Tharpe‘s career was in the doldrums, usurped by the very Rock and Roll stars that she helped create, a trip to Great Britain revived her flagging fortunes. This led to a European tour, as part of the Blues and Gospel Caravan, which also included Muddy Waters and Otis Spann, Ransom Knowling and Little Willie Smith, Reverend Gary Davis, Cousin Joe, and Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee.

CLICK HERE to download the music of Sister Rosetta Tharpe from iTunes

After her death on October 9th 1973 wider acknowledgements of her contribution to the music of the 20th century were slow in coming. On July 15th 1998 the United States Postal Service issued a 32-cent commemorative stamp to honor her. In 2007, she was posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. In 2008, January 11th was declared Sister Rosetta Tharpe Day in Pennsylvania, the last state in which she lived.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe‘s presence will long be felt in all music that followed the Rock n Roll era.

You can CLICK HERE to download the music of Sister Rosetta Tharpe from iTunes or check out the media available from the links below.

By Max Power
Google

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Death of The Poet, It’s All Over Now

Soul Legend Bobby Womack Dies at 70

I was shocked and stunned to hear about the death of Bobby Womack this morning. I knew that he had had health problems in recent years, but I thought that he had recovered.

Bobby Womack The Poet

Bobby Womack The Poet

I Feel Like I Wanna Testify

The mainstream press will tell you that Bobby Womack wrote It’s All Over Now, which was a huge early hit for The Rolling Stones and that he played with Sam Cooke. But that is only a very small part of the story.

For me Bobby Womack epitomised soul music, with his deep brown soulful voice, fantastic songs and sweet guitar sound.

Bobby‘s career spanned 7 decades, beginning in a gospel quintet with his brothers Cecil, Curtis, Harry, and Friendly Jr. when he was only 9 years old. The Womack Brothers supported Sam Cooke and numerous other leading gospel acts of the day. But it was the association with Cooke which prompted their cross over to RnB. Cooke signed them to his own label and changed their name to The Valentinos. When their father found out that they were going to sing secular music he kicked them out of his house.

The Valentinos had an RnB chart hit with Lookin for Love in 1962 which Bobby re-recorded and turned into a pop chart hit in 1974. The Lookin’ for a Love Again album, on which it was included, also contained the hit You’re Welcome, Stop on By, later covered and made a hit all over again by Rufus featuring Chaka Khan.

Things took off for Bobby in 1964. He joined Sam Cooke’s backing band as a guitarist and wrote It’s All Over Now, a single for The Valentinos, but a much bigger hit for The Rolling Stones. In fact it was their first UK number one. Incidentally Rod Stewart also recorded a great country style version on his 1970 album Gasoline Alley.

Bobby played guitar and wrote songs for some amazing artists, including Ray Charles, Joe Tex, King Curtis, Janis Joplin, Sly & the Family Stone and Aretha Franklin. He became one of Wilson Pickett‘s favourite songwriters, contributing the R&B Top Ten hits I’m in Love and I’m a Midnight Mover and 15 other tunes.

Bobby also partnered with jazz guitarist Gabor Szabo and wrote Breezin’ which was a huge breakthrough hit for George Benson, six years later.

Bobby Womack

The early 70’s saw some of his best work. That’s the Way I Feel About ‘Cha appeared on the album Communication and made number 2 in the RnB charts. Woman’s Gotta Have It from the follow up, Understanding, was his first chart topper. Harry Hippie, an ironic homage to his brother, also hit the R&B Top Ten. Bobby wrote the score to the ‘blaxploitation’ film Across 110th Street; the title track was revived in the 1998 Quentin Tarantino film Jackie Brown.

Womack recorded a full album of country music, that he originally wanted to call Step Aside, Charley Pride, Give Another Nigger a Try, but sensibly his label would not allow that and it was released as BW Goes C&W, to an underwhelming response.

Bobby Womack probably first appeared on my radar in the 80′s, everything else I discovered retrospectively. His lead vocal on on Jazz Crusader Wilton Felder‘s 1980 solo album Inherit the Wind brought him back on many people’s radar, having spent some years in the wilderness dealing with personal and addiction issues.

This was followed by arguably two of his best albums, The Poet and The Poet II which were extremely popular in the UK. The latter featured Patti Labelle on three tracks. Her parts were taken by Alltrinna Grayson in Bobby‘s UK shows in the 80′s, but her defining moments were her duets with him on No Matter How High I Get, another Wilton Felder tune.

A moment I will never forget was at Womack‘s show at London’s Hammersmith Odeon, as it was in those days. My seat was in the centre of the theatre, just over half way back from the stage. While the house lights were up I couldn’t understand why everyone in the audience appeared to be looking in my direction. After a few minutes I realised that Stevie Wonder was sitting a couple of rows behind me. Bobby of course talked him into joining him on stage for a couple of songs.

Bobby’s career continued in peaks and troughs. In 2010 he appeared on the Gorillaz album Plastic Beach which triggered another return. Only two years ago he partnered with Damon Albarn the frontman for Blur and Gorillaz to release The Bravest Man in the Universe, to wide critical acclaim, but to be honest not one of my favourites of his recordings.

Bobby Womack’s life was peppered with drama, scandal and addiction; some say great music requires great suffering.

When he was only 20 years old he married Sam Cooke’s widow, only three months after his mentor had died. This attracted a great deal of ill will towards him in the RnB community. He later had an affair with her daughter Linda, who in turn later married his brother Cecil and they recorded and toured as Womack and Womack.

Incidentally, Bobby‘s brothers Cecil and Curtis both married Motown star Mary Wells, whose biggest hit was My Guy.

In 1974 His brother Harry was murdered by a jealous girlfriend, in Bobby‘s apartment. In 1979 his infant son died suddenly.

Bobby married and divorced twice and had four children.

If his life story does not make a major movie one day I will be very surprised. One thing is for sure, the soundtrack would be awesome.

Thanks for the music Bobby and Rest In Peace. A lot of us think we’re lonely now

CLICK HERE to download Bobby Womack’s music from iTunes

By Max Power
Google

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