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The Death of Lemmy And Motorhead

Lemmy And Motörhead – Underpaid, Underappreciated & Undeniably Unique

Lemmy of Motörhead on stage at Vale Park 3/8/1981

Lemmy of Motorhead on stage at Vale Park 3/8/1981

Motörhead the most underappreciated band in the history of rock ‘n roll is dead.

That is the news confirmed by Motörhead’s drummer Mikkey Dee. “Motörhead is over, of course. Lemmy was Motörhead. We won’t be doing any more tours or anything. And there won’t be any more records. But the brand survives, and Lemmy lives on in the hearts of everyone,” said Dee.

Motörhead founder, singer, songwriter and bassist, Ian Fraser “Lemmy” Kilmister died in Hollywood, CA last week, Monday December 28, 2015 at the age of 70 . The official cause was an extremely aggressive form of brain and neck cancer that Lemmy had just been diagnosed with two days before. After the diagnosis Lemmy was stoic and figured he would live out the two to six months the doctor gave him as best he could.

Monday the 28th, Lemmy was in his house playing on a video game console that was shipped over to his apartment from the nearby Rainbow Bar & Grill where Lemmy normally spent hours playing the game. As he played, Lemmy nodded off and never woke up. With Lemmy’s death also comes the death of a band that toiled for over 40 years with no mainstream commercial success.

After a hellbent, hard-living life of extremes it’s amazing that Lemmy lived to be 70. On the other hand it’s hard to believe he is now gone. I really thought Lemmy would would not die, at least not in my lifetime. If anyone ever epitomized the lifestyle of sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll it was Lemmy.

Lemmy chain smoked, drank Jack Daniels like others drink water and probably took more speed than anyone else who ever lived. Yet through all the “bad” things Lemmy did to himself, he appeared indestructible, remained lucid in conversation and driven to perform until the very end. Lemmy had been battling various illnesses over the last two years and most recently was extremely depressed over the death of best mate, former Motörhead drummer Phil “Phlthy Animal” Taylor on November 11, 2015.

On December 11 in Berlin, Germany, Motörhead completed the second part of its  2015-16 world tour. The band then took a holiday break intending to return to Europe to continue the tour. A little over two weeks later Lemmy was dead.

In the days following Lemmy’s death other musical legends such as Ozzy Osbourne, Rob Halford and Gene Simmons have praised the founder and frontman of Motörhead. From all walks of life, everyone who encountered Lemmy said the same thing – he was a really good guy, not an asshole. For most rock stars with their inflated egos, being an asshole is an easy attitude to take on.

In Lemmy’s highly readable autobiography Whiteline Fever (Citadel, 2004), he said, “Fuck this ‘Don’t speak ill of the dead’ shit! People don’t become better when they’re dead; you just talk about them as if they are. But it’s not true! People are still assholes, they’re just dead assholes!”

No one will speak ill of Lemmy. Continue reading

The Best Sports Announcer – EVER!

Ray Hudson Commentator Extraordinaire

Let’s get one thing straight; I can’t bear to watch (football) soccer. Despite its worldwide popularity I find it to be the most boring game ever invented with typical 0-0 or 1-0 outcomes.

Ray HudsonThat is unless former soccer player Ray Hudson is on TV calling the game.

I was part of a captive audience at a pub recently, so there was no way of avoiding the Peru vs. Chile game playing on ten TV sets and blasting over the sound system of the bar.

As unexciting as the game was, the commentator was not letting it affect him. Every play was exciting. With lyrical metaphors, alliteration, vague poetical and pop-culture references and pure bombast, this man was making what was on the TV a spectacle not to be missed.

Here was my discovery of Ray Hudson.

Ray Hudson made every minute of a nothing nothing game among the most entertaining sporting events I have ever witnessed.

I don’t know all that much about soccer and its announcers, but doing a quick web search I discovered that Hudson is either loved or hated; there is little middle ground among fans. Continue reading

Nicholas Winton Dies At 106, Saved Hundreds From The Holocaust

The Extraordinary Life Of Nicholas Winton

Nicholas Winton at 105 photo David Levene for The Guardian

Nicholas Winton at 105 photo David Levene for The Guardian

Nicholas Winton who saved hundreds of children from the Holocaust and didn’t tell anyone about it for over 50 years died Wednesday, July 1 in Maidenhead, England at the age of 106.

With all the chaos and hatred that permeates today’s news, it is sometimes easy to forget that there are real humanitarians in this world who have accomplished extraordinary things. Nicholas Winton was one of those truly good people who remind us that good deeds can come out of bad events.

How Nicholas Winton rescued 669 children from Nazi occupied Czechoslovakia on the eve of World War II is an amazing story told on the BBC 27 years ago and in America in 2014 on 60 Minutes.

Here is a portrait of humanity at its best with 60 Minutes telling Winton’s story.

70 Years Ago Today – President Franklin Delano Roosevelt Dies

The Nation Mourns After Learning of the Death Of  F.D.R.

This is how the New York newspapers announced the death of F.D.R. on April 12, 1945.

70 years ago today when the 32nd President of the Unites States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt died suddenly of a massive stroke at the age of 63 in Warm Springs, GA  there was an overwhelming outpouring of grief across the globe.

With the exception of Adolph Hitler and a few die hard anti-FDR Republicans most of the world was saddened to learn of Roosevelt’s death. Roosevelt was held in high esteem by most Americans, even those that did not agree with many of his policies. There were also those who could not stand the man, but were in awe of Roosevelt as a shrewd politician and the job he had done in seeing the United States through the Great Depression and World War II.

It was especially sad that Roosevelt never got to witness the end of the war which brought final victory to the Allies. Less than four weeks after Roosevelt’s death, Hitler and Mussolini were dead and Victory in Europe Day was celebrated May 8, 1945. Japan unconditionally surrendered on August 15, 1945.

What I cannot imagine happening now in today’s world of partisan politics is having a universal outpouring of sorrow if a President were to die suddenly while in office. There is so much outright hatred and disrespect in modern politics that we will never see anything like this again.

FDR's funeral procession in Washington D.C.

FDR’s funeral procession in Washington D.C.

The Brooklyn Eagle Continue reading

The 5 Best Cover Songs By Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden Plays Other Band’s Songs Better Than The Originals

Iron Maiden 1986 - (from l-r) Dave Murray, Bruce Dickinson, Steve Harris, Nicko McBrain, Adrian Smith

Iron Maiden 1986 – (from l-r) Dave Murray, Bruce Dickinson, Steve Harris, Nicko McBrain, Adrian Smith

Like Metallica who seem to excel at playing cover songs, Iron Maiden has covered songs from many well known groups including Led Zeppelin, The Who and UFO. But it is usually the lesser known bands that Iron Maiden have been able to bring to the limelight with their covers, usually improving the song substantially in the process.

Of course it certainly helps if the song you’re covering is a good song to begin with. Many of these songs are just that: well written songs.

Here in no particular order are the five best Iron Maiden cover songs where Maiden generally took the original song up a notch.

1) I’ve Got The Fire (1981 and 1983) – originally done by the band Montrose featuring Sammy Hagar on lead vocals. This is the only Iron Maiden cover song recorded by both the original Maiden singer Paul Di’Anno and his successor Bruce Dickinson. First Paul Di’Anno:

Next, Bruce Dickinson’s version which was recorded in 1983.

2) Women In Uniform (1980) – originally performed by the Australian band Skyhooks, Maiden’s version bumps the tempo up and improves Continue reading

Babe Ruth And Lou Gehrig Comedy Record -1927

A Commercial Recording Release By The Bambino and The Iron Horse

Gehrig and Ruth at League Park Cleveland 1927 photo L Van OeyenRecently I was reading an old New York Times column from October 7, 1956 by Gay Talese in which he wrote about the history of baseball records. Not home run or pitching records, but baseball related music and spoken word records.

In the article Talese mentions that one of the first record companies to release a baseball record was Pathe records in 1928 when they got Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig to make a recording explaining how they hit home runs. It did not sell very well. Almost all baseball related recordings have traditionally done poorly with sales, with the exception of Take Me Out To The Ballgame written in 1908 by Albert Von Tilzer and Jack Norworth. Incredibly neither Von Tilzer or Norworth had ever attended a baseball game prior to writing their hit song.

So I searched for the Ruth – Gehrig recording on youtube and couldn’t find the exact recording mentioned in the article, but came up with this version instead. (Click on the youtube video below). Apparently it is the exact same record as in the Talese article, but Talese is mistaken about  the content and the date.

It’s a comedy skit (which is not very funny) advertised Continue reading

Remembering AC/DC’s Bon Scott

It Was 35 Years Today That The Greatest Front-man in Rock History Died

Bon Scott 1979 I clearly remember when Bon Scott of AC/DC died. I heard it on the radio on a dreary February day in 1980. To me he was just a good singer in a band where all the members were very short.

It was sad, but honestly I didn’t think too much about it at the time having heard only some of AC/DC’s songs such as Let There be Rock, Highway To Hell and Touch Too Much. I was more into The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, E.L.O., Judas Priest, Van Halen, The Cars, Elvis Costello and The Clash and many other mainstream bands. But his death sparked an interest in discovering what Bon Scott and AC/DC was about.

Over the next year I would come to love AC/DC especially with the American release of Dirty Deeds in 1981, five years after it was released everywhere else. After that, I went out and bought all of the old AC/DC albums. To say I liked the Bon Scott version of AC/DC would be an understatement.

As the years have passed and I get older, I get more and more depressed that Bon Scott left us at age 33. It is hard to fathom he has been gone 35 years.

While not diminishing the passing of Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix or Jim Morrison and countless other rock icons, Bon’s death along with John Lennon’s and John Bonham’s (all coincidentally in 1980) are among the greatest losses to rock music ever.

What Bon Scott would have gone on to do can only be left to conjecture, but I would venture to say he would have built upon the previous successes the band had finally achieved. My friends who had seen AC/DC live said Bon’s charismatic stage presence was palpable in person and it came through on film and video as well. With his unique voice and take no prisoners attitude when performing, the audience felt an authentic connection to Bon Scott.

In the six years Bon Scott was the lead singer for AC/DC he recorded six studio albums. It says a lot that from those six albums are where AC/DC have continually pulled half of their live set from.

Brian Johnson who replaced Bon as AC/DC’s lead singer Continue reading

Part 2 – An Interview With Avery Corman “My Old Neighborhood Remembered A Memoir”

Avery Corman Talks About: Dating, Restaurants, High School in The Bronx, The Advertising World, Getting Published and Having His Books Adapted To Film

We continue our interview with Avery Corman, author of the new book My Old Neighborhood Remembered A Memoir (Barricade Books) 2014, and his story of growing up in the Bronx during the 1940’s and 50’s.

Divided into 5 parts the first two parts of the interview can be seen here.

In part 3 Avery Corman discusses dating, blind dates, sex, going to the movies, the differences between eating out and restaurants, dessert havens like Krum’s, Addie Vallins and Jahn’s and the coming of television.

Part 4 Avery Corman recalls his high school years at DeWitt Clinton High School and his decision to go to New York University. Upon graduating Continue reading

An Interview With Avery Corman “My Old Neighborhood Remembered A Memoir”

Avery Corman, Author of Kramer vs. Kramer, Talks About His Latest Book: My Old Neighborhood Remembered A Memoir

My Old Neighborhood RememberedThe neighborhood is the Bronx. The time is World War II and the post war years. And the writer is Avery Corman. His newest book My Old Neighborhood Remembered A Memoir (2014) Barricade Books, is his first non-fiction book and is filled with wonderful recollections of growing up.

After graduating college Corman was working on the fringes of advertising and with the encouragement of a friend, Herb Gardner (A Thousand Clowns; I’m Not Rappaport; etc), he took a stab at writing a book. That effort was published as Oh God! A Novel (1971). After that hurdle Corman never looked back and he became a full-time novelist. Oh God! was eventually made into a very popular movie in 1977 starring George Burns and John Denver.

Some of Corman’s other acclaimed novels include The Bust-Out King (1977), The Old Neighborhood (1980); 50 (1987); Prized Possessions (1991); The Boyfriend from Hell (2006) and his most famous work, Kramer vs. Kramer (1977) which was adapted into a movie in 1979 and was the winner of five Academy Awards including Best Picture.

Avery Corman’s success must partially stem from his middle-class upbringing in the Fordham section of the Bronx during the 1940’s and 50’s, where he admits he was not the best student when it came to math and science, but did well in the humanities and was surrounded by a loving, extended family.

My Old Neighborhood Remembered A Memoir is more a series of vignettes rather than a straight autobiography and that style comes off well. Corman shares his memories of childhood during World War II up until he becomes a successful author in the late 1960’s. He paints beautiful word pictures, sometimes tinged with sadness, of growing up in a wondrous place that no longer exists. Most of the stories offer short bursts of family life, games, food, education, sports and all the things that contributed to making the Bronx a special place to grow up in.

Corman’s stories resonate with a tender glow of friendships, family and the feeling that neighborhoods were once really neighborhoods, where the familiarity of rituals, people and places were ingrained in the surroundings.

Here are parts one and two of an exclusive interview with Avery Corman.

Part I, Avery Corman talks about what made the Bronx a special place during the war. His unique living situation and school life.

In part II Corman Continue reading

Malcolm Young’s Illness Spells The End For AC/DC

AC/DC Founder Malcolm Young Quietly Played A Huge, Behind The Scenes Part In AC/DC’s Long Success

Malcolm (l) & Angus Young (r)J photo Jaime Saba For the L.A.  Times

Malcolm (l) & Angus Young (r)J photo Jaime Saba For the L.A. Times

When reading about the recent disclosure that AC/DC founder and rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young was suffering from dementia and was retiring from the band, it occurred to me how many casual fans of AC/DC are not aware of how important Malcolm is to the band.

Malcolm did a lot more than stand in the background pounding out crunchy rhythm guitar riffs and come up to the microphone to sing things like “hoy” with his backing vocals.

AC/DC is (was) Malcolm’s band.

Malcolm controlled the touring, personnel, finances, important band decisions and most importantly the songwriting.

It was Malcolm Young, not his flashier, lead guitarist younger brother Angus Young, who came up with most of the riffs and leads for those brilliant AC/DC songs over the past 41 years.

In a recent Guitar World interview Angus Young said:

Malcolm is a big inspiration to me; he keeps me on my feet. Even when I’m tired from running around the stage for two hours, I’ll look back at what he’s doing and it gives me that boot up the backside I sometimes need. [laughs] Also, he can always tell me if I’m playing well or if I’m not. Mal’s a very tough critic, and I know that if I can please him, I can please the world. A lot of people say, “AC/DC-that’s the band with the little guy who runs around in school shorts!” But I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without Malcolm and the other guys pumping out the rhythm. They make me look good.

Mal is really a great all-around guitarist. I know it says “rhythm guitar” on the album jacket, but if he sits down to play a solo, he can do it better than me. Not a lot of people have picked up on this, but in the early days he used to play lead. But then he said to me, “No, you take the solos. I’ll just bang away back here.” And what’s more, he actually plays rhythms. He just doesn’t make a noise; he works them out, and he knows when not to play.

My part in AC/DC is just adding the color on top. Mal’s the band’s foundation. He’s rock solid and he pumps it along with the power of a machine. He doesn’t play like a machine, though. Everything he does grooves and he always seems to know exactly what to play and when to play it. He’s a very percussive player too, his right hand just doesn’t stop sometimes. It’s scary, it really is!

Fans on the official AC/DC web site commenting about the announcement that Malcolm has retired because of dementia are clueless. Most are writing things like, “Get well soon, Mal!” Continue reading