Five Of The Greatest & Least Known UK Hard Rock Songs (Unless You’re a Fan Of The Band)
Slade on stage photo Paul Cox
I’ve seen hundreds of rock bands live. Working in the music industry afforded me a close-up look at greatness. Unfortunately many times the public does not recognize, let alone buy greatness. Continue reading →
Neil Peart Had Brain Cancer For Over Three Years…And Told Almost No One
Neil Peart of Rush – A Farewell To Kings tour book 1978
The surprising news that Rush’s extraordinary drummer and lyricist Neil Peart has died at age 67, comes as a shock to the world. While music lovers will try to absorb the stunning news, only Peart’s family, band mates and a few close friends knew this day was imminently closer than anyone realized.
Peart passed away quietly in Santa Monica, CA on Tuesday, January 7 of brain cancer. For over three years Peart was fighting the disease. His close circle of friends knew his predicament. Everyone else had no idea.
Peart’s survivors include his wife Carrie and daughter Olivia. Peart escaped a media frenzy of reporting on his illness, as doubtless there would be, had anyone known about his cancer. That’s the kind of man Neil Peart was. Ferocious on drums. Private, quiet and introspective in life. Peart did not want consolation from the world by sharing that he was ill. His reticence to speak publicly, well established.
Rush 1978 (l-r) Neil Peart Geddy Lee & Alex Lifeson
On tour in the early 1990s I met both Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee backstage shortly after a show at Madison Square Garden. We talked for a minute. Continue reading →
The Original Def Leppard, LIVE In 1980 Perform Almost The Entire On Through The Night LP
Def Leppard Was Once A Heavy Metal Band: Then They Started Writing Pop
Their Main Hard Rock Songwriter & Guitarist Was Fired
Can We Forget About The Past?
Here is Pete Willis and the original Def Leppard performing almost in its entirety, one of the ten greatest debut rock albums of all-time.
When Def Leppard recorded their first major label album, they were a heavy metal band though they never called themselves that.
l-r Rick Savage, Joe Elliott, Pete Willis, Rick Allen & Steve Clark c 1980
It was 1980 and Def Leppard had just been signed to a deal with Mercury Records. They were signed on the basis of what three years of honing and craft perfection had wrought – On Through The Night. Previously in 1979, the band printed its own EP and sold an astounding 18,000 copies.
Within the music industry, in order for any band to get a record deal, the band must put forth only their best material. And that is what On Through The Night is. Eleven mostly blistering songs played at a frantic pace with songwriting that displays an ear for catchy and memorable songs.
Here’s the most incredible thing about this video performance of that first album — singer Joe Elliott is 21, guitarists Steve Clark & Pete Willis are 20, bass player Rick Savage is 19 and drummer Rick Allen is – are you kidding me? — 16!!!!
Combine 3 Former Priest Members With Megadeth’s Dave Ellefson, And You’ve Come Up With A Band That Sounds Better Than The Current Judas Priest Line-Up
Judas Priest founding member, guitarist K.K. Downing retired from the band in 2011 due to concerns about conflict within the band, its management company and the quality of their live performances. Since then Downing has talked about reuniting with his former band, especially after Priest guitarist Glenn Tipton stepped down from touring in 2018 due to his battle with Parkinson’s disease.
But hard feelings remain between elements of the band and their management, with Downing so no reunification is foreseeable.
K.K. Downing, 2019
So what did Downing do a couple of weeks ago? He performed with a band that proved it can out-Priest, Judas Priest.
Unseen For 41 Years – Highlights From A Van Halen Concert At Fresno’s Selland Arena, Friday, September 22, 1978
I hope YouTube doesn’t take this video down.
This story would have to be deleted as well.
While I like Van Halen, I’m not an uberfan. I have all the David Lee Roth era LPs and still listen to Van Halen. But live, I always thought of Roth as a great front-man, rather than a great singer. He might agree. I wish he’d sing the lyrics!
What is the attraction to Van Halen? Besides the virtuosity and innovativeness of Eddie Van Halen, it’s probably because the band built up a huge following through touring, putting on extravaganzas and releasing unique, catchy kick-ass rock albums.
Unfortunately Van Halen has rarely released whatever footage they have of themselves when they were just starting out on their way to becoming superstars.
That is why this is special. 41 years after it occurred, here is Van Halen LIVE in concert only seven months after the release of their first album.
You may not like vocalist David Lee Roth’s showmanship, jumping around with lyrical improvisations and high pitch shrieks. Then maybe you’ll stop watching after a few minutes. Roth, however is hitting more of the notes live as recorded on the album than many of his recorded performances.
Seeing Van Halen as openers for Black Sabbath, trying to win over an audience is unique in itself. Guitarist Eddie Van is blazing on all cylinders. Bassist and harmony singer Michael Anthony is confident and steady. And drummer Alex Van Halen is holding it all together keeping great time. They’re young and hungry and it shows. Eddie and David were both 23-years-old. According to manager Noel Monk the band was being paid $750 per show – split four ways!
This is what the late 1970s were about. Great music with rock band’s wanting to impress you in concert with their music and energy. Seven dollar tickets, small stage, no pyrotechnics, or giant video screens or back-up dancers. Everyone is watching and listening to the band.
So thank you FresnoMediaRestoration for putting together audio with this 8mm film footage to come up with 20 minutes of live Van Halen in their prime.
Below the footage I’ve quoted some of the better YouTube comments.
The better YouTube comments:
It’s surprising they ever made it big. I mean, if you were a rock star in the 70s, would you hire them to open your show? – Baba Yaga
This show was the night before their memorable 9/23/78 concert @ Anaheim Stadium where Boston headlined along with Black Sabbath & Sammy Hagar. VH hired 4 skydivers to jump out of a plane. The skydivers landed behind the stage & VH — in parachute gear — jumped out of a van & rushed onto the stage to On Fire. Crowd went crazy. That was also the day that EVH met Sammy Hagar for the first time.– jpr – 030507Continue reading →
There Are Kids Who Are Learning What Music Really Is
Maybe There’s Hope For The Appreciation of Rock n’ Roll
Believe it or not I’m not that old. But I have lived long enough to have witnessed the virtual death of rock ‘n roll and the talent that is necessary to compose and perform it. To clarify, perform on an actual instrument, not a computer. An instrument that requires thousands s of hours of practice to not just have competence but to excel and display true talent.
Yet, when you go into almost any store like Sephora, Pac Sun or Hollister, in any mall in America you are bombarded by some loud sounds emanating from the store’s sound system. It’s the popular music of today.
It’s an assault on any adult entering with kids but that is why they are playing; A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Bebe Rexha, Rich The Kid, Lil Dicky, or Nipsey Hussle.
The stores play the Billboard Hot 100 pop dreck, hip-hop, or heavily computerized, synthesized autotune junk that appeals to kids and teens. Stores want them to shop there and that is what kids listen to and have grown up on for the last three decades. These kids and many of their elders know no other form of what they think passes for music. They like the instrument-less, undifferentiated ear candy which has permeated the minds of malleable Millennials and Generation Z for over 30 years.
But not all kids.
Here is the evidence. In Easton, PA in 2017 Houseband, apparently from the local School of Rock comprised of teens, playing Deep Purple’s “Burn.”
Realize, throughout history every adult generally despises music that is popular with their kids. Continue reading →
Boris Kosović, Multi-Talented Rocker In A Band That Shunned The Spotlight, Dies
Boris Kosović founder, lead singer and guitarist of Gruhak, in an undated photo
(We wrote a story about the amazing Croatian band Gruhak, in 2016 that can be read here.)
Boris Kosović the energetic vocalist-guitarist and sole remaining original member of the band Gruhak died on Thursday, September 20 in Dubrovnik, Croatia. He had been battling cancer for a year and a half. Kosović was 40-years-old.
Sweet – The 1970s Band That Should Have Been As Big As Anyone. They Released Their Final Hit In January 1978 – Love Is Like Oxygen
A Story of Sweet Success And Missed Opportunities
Sweet in their glam band outfits circa 1973. From l-r Brian Connolly, Steve Priest, Andy Scott and drummer Mick Tucker holding guitar.
If you were to name a rock band that should have had long-lasting, international success and made a major musical impact but didn’t, one of the top contenders would have to be Sweet.
In the pantheon of great rock bands, Sweet has been forgotten.
There are many reasons for this amnesiac neglect. Possibly the reasons add up like this: a series of bad breaks; not being taken seriously by a dismissive, indifferent critical press; an insufficient amount of American touring and radio exposure; and unsure musical direction. But certainly not because of a lack of producing great rock music.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of Sweet’s final hit Love Is Like Oxygen which was released in January 1978. We’ll discuss the song at the end of this article, but here is an abbreviated version from the TV program Top of The Pops.
A very similar band from the same time, Queen, became, a juggernaut, filling arenas and stadiums, having tens of millions of album sales and critical acclaim – all things Sweet seemed destined to achieve, but didn’t.
And if you don’t think Queen was heavily influenced by Sweet, then maybe you should have a listen.
Despite over 35 million album sales and moderate touring success around Europe, Sweet never lived up to their potential. With the exception of a handful of songs, Sweet was rarely played on American radio, hampering whatever breakthrough success they deserved.
Today, younger listeners unfamiliar with Sweet during their heyday, will rarely be able to name the band when they hear them. They recognize the songs, but often mistake the band’s music for that of E.L.O., the Bee Gees, Queen or some other band.
In the 1970s, Sweet, an English glam pop band, morphed into a serious hard rock band with a long list of hits in the United States and England. Originally they recorded songs written by others, primarily their managers and main songwriters Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn.
But Sweet was more than just a Three Dog Night, Grass Roots or Monkees sort of band. Those bands could barely get by playing an instrument live and never or rarely wrote any of their own songs.
Sweet’s bass player Steve Priest, drummer Mick Tucker, guitarist Andy Scott and lead vocalist Brian Connolly were all accomplished musicians who could write and play their own music and do it damn well.
What made Sweet stand out was their vocal harmonies.
Frequently featured on the weekly British music show Top of the Pops, Sweet would, as the custom was at the time, go on stage and lip synch what they had done on record. Their disdain for lip synching was apparent and they would often make a mockery of their own performances.
Their early “hits,” all written by Chapman and Chinn, were simple but immensely catchy ditties, in the genre known as “bubblegum rock.” Innocent lyrics with just a bit of double entendre intended for a teen audience.
Blockbuster, Wig Wam Bam, Funny Funny, and the American crossover hit Little Willy were just a few of their early chart successes. These were followed by more hits Hell Raiser, No You Don’t, AC-DC, Turn It Down and Sweet’s most famous song The Ballroom Blitz. Continue reading →
Some Highlights Of The Late, Great, “Fast” Eddie Clarke, Guitarist Of Motörhead
The “classic” Motorhead line-up on stage circa 1980 (l-r) Phil Taylor, Eddie Clarke & Lemmy Kilmister photo: Simon Fowler
When “Fast” Eddie Clarke (October 5, 1950 – January 10, 2018), guitarist with Motörhead from 1976-1982 died from pneumonia last week at the age of 67, it closed the book on what many consider Motörhead’s greatest line-up.
In the space of a little over two years, Eddie Clarke, singer-bassist and founder Lemmy Kilmister and drummer Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor, all died.
The trio put out albums that are considered the high points of Motörhead’s career: Motörhead (1977), Bomber (1979), Overkill (1979), Ace of Spades (1980), No Sleep ’til Hammersmith (Live 1981) and Iron Fist (1982).
After being forced out or leaving Motörhead in 1982 (stories conflict on the departure), “Fast” Eddie formed Fastway with bassist Pete Way of UFO. Continue reading →