Bo Diddley was a singer and guitarist who invented his own name, his own guitars, his own beat and, and with a handful of other musical pioneers, rock ’n’ roll itself. In the 1950s, as a founder of rock ’n’ roll, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and a few others reshaped the sound of popular music worldwide, building on the template of blues, Southern gospel, R&B and postwar American vernacular culture.Continue reading
Here’s what I remember about Kate Bush as a teen back in the ’80s. She definitely stood out as an individual and an artist that was not interested in following the trends. Kate Bush had her own sound, a and softly stirring voice. She thoughtfully crafted her music that stood out in the trendy 1980s, and it still stands the test of time. There was strength and vulnerability in her songs, She was beautiful, graceful, captivating, and unique.
Now a whole new world is discovering Kate Bush, as her song, “Running Up That Hill” was picked-up by the Netflix drama, “Stranger Things.” It’s a song and mood that connects strongly with viewers of her era, now sitting in front of the TV alongside their children, hearing a song from long ago that conjures memories of their own youth that still sounds earnest, fresh and magical.Continue reading
“That was outside of Shellow’s Luncheonette. I lined them up against this white wall, and everybody was just cracking up at that time. Bruce was telling some jokes, Steven Van Zandt was rolling his eyes, and every time Steven was rolling his eyes, Bruce would crack up. It was a spontaneous and contagious laugh fest that was going on. We could not keep straight…Continue reading
ELVIS BOWIE MASHUP original artwork by Sasha Laskowsky-Ziguilinsky AKA NEOPREN
Happy Birthday Elvis & Bowie! There were many parallels between the two– some coincidental, some very intentional…
There was a lot of love between Lady Day Billie Holiday and her beloved pooch, Mister. She had other dogs in her lifetime– a Standard Poodle, and pet Chihuahas she bottle fed and whisked around in her pocket– but none as close to her heart as Mister. He was widely thought to be a Boxer, but there are some who disagree saying he was perhaps an American Staffordshire Terrier. One thing is clear, he was a loving and protective companion, and trusted by Holiday above all others– humans included. It’s no wonder these touching photos mean so much to Billie Holiday fans and dog lovers alike. He would chaperone her to the clubs where she performed, and stood watch over her in the backstage dressing room. Billie would sing to Mister, and reward him by cooking him juicy steaks. 100 years after her birth, she is still bedeviling our ears with her sweet, sorrowful tunes and haunting us in pictures. RIP Lady Day, and her sweet Mister.
Originally included in a 1949 cover story for Ebony magazine, this photograph shows Holiday at home in her Harlem apartment cooking a steak with her beloved boxer, Mister. The article, titled “I’m Cured for Good,” came after numerous incidents with the law due to Holiday’s ongoing struggle with narcotics. This was the first time Leonard had ever met the singer. “On arriving, I was greeted by a woman in an apron and housedress,” recalled Leonard, “whom I initially mistook for the maid, until I realized she was the great Billie Holiday.” –Photographer Herman Leonard via
Portrait of Billie Holiday and Mister by William Gottlieb at the Downbeat in New York, Feb. 1947
The epic tales of Laurel Canyon’s heyday continues to linger like the warm smell of colitas rising up through the air… It’s here that the SoCal sound was born out of an era of relaxed morals (
fucking sex), folks expanding their mental horizons (drugs), and a wave of eclectic misfits coming from all over to launch, reinvent, or escape their musical careers (rock ‘n’ roll) in this sleepy, smoky, winding hippy enclave. And the women, Mama Cass & Joni Mitchell, were the (wise and worldly beyond their years) matriarchs watching over over this peaceful, easy-feeling, community headquartered on Lookout Mountain. Henry Diltz was a friend and photographer to many in the scene those days, and his visual record and memories of these times is priceless.
“When I first came out to L.A. [in 1968], my friend Joel Bernstein found an old book in a flea market that said, ‘Ask anyone in America where the craziest people live and they’ll tell you California. Ask anyone in California where the craziest people live and they’ll say Los Angeles. Ask anyone in Los Angeles where the craziest people live and they’ll tell you Hollywood. Ask anyone in Hollywood where the craziest people live and they’ll say Laurel Canyon. And ask anyone in Laurel Canyon where the craziest people live and they’ll say Lookout Mountain.’ So I bought a house on Lookout Mountain.” —Joni Mitchell
1976, The Runaways — Lita Ford, Joan Jett, Jackie Fox, Sandy West, Cherie Currie — photo by Tom Gold
The Runaways teenage, all-female rock band was co-founded in 1975 by guitarist Joan Jett and drummer Sandy West. The two were joined by Cherie Currie, Lita Ford, and Jackie Fox and became the main core of the group. Vicki Blue, Micki Steele (who’d later join The Bangles), Peggy Foster, and Laurie McAllister also flowed in as others dropped-out, and they eventually broke up in 1979. The Runaways actually saw greater success in Japan than here in the US, where many critics and serious rock fans alike had a hard time taking the sexy teenage girls from LA seriously. Their mania and memory largely slipped into a slumber until being sparked again by the 2010 biographical flick, The Runaways.
Being a child of the ’70s & ’80s I was aware of The Runaways, but was exposed more to TV than the live music scene. Suzi Quatro (who inspired Jett) was riding a wave of curiously sexy, somewhat androgynous, lady rocker vibe and saw decent TV airtime. I’ll admit, I was intrigued. Pinky Tuscadero definitely had my attention too. Then Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, and Lita Ford (now a pursed-lipped, metal guitar goddess), shot back into the rock limelight wiser, and with stronger musical chops. Looking back at The Runaways, one thing I’ll say is that they were well-merchandised, as witnessed by the great archive of images that have successfully survived the test of time.
1957 – Elvis Presley poses beside a Christmas tree in his home in Memphis, Tennesee. When Elvis recorded a cover of Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas, it made him livid, and he launched a campaign to have it banned from radio airplay. Berlin despised Elvis, and felt that he was degrading the song, which held a very personal and painful meaning for him, long kept secret.
“I was a senior in high school. I remember thinking Sonny Liston was the meanest, baddest man on the planet. He was an ex-con, controlled by the mob, and one look at him could shrink a man into a boy. Clay was the glib, smack-talking pretty boy. Most fans predicted his early demise. The fight was talked about for weeks after it was over. I was hooked. Boxing became my favorite sport.” –Jackie Kallen, fight manager
It was an epic, wierd-ass time for this country. It just was. February, 1964 and just a few months earlier America had seen it’s golden boy, President Kennedy the King of Camelot, shot down in the street like a dog, in broad daylight, in Dallas Goddamn Texas. The state would feel the impact for decades, as the entire country just could not forgive Texas for letting this happen to the President on their watch. America still had a collective black eye from the tragic loss and desperately needed something to rally around. And boy did we get it– the fight that would change boxing forever. The invincible, stoic champ, Sonny Liston vs. the young, brash showman (AKA the Louisville Lip) Cassius Clay. To add to the pandemonium, The Beatles had landed on our shore at JFK February 7th for their historic, record-breaking performances that would change music forever. I cannot even imagine what it would have been like to be alive during such an epic time in history.
“The Beatles were royally pissed. They were brought to the beach first for a photo op with the champ. Liston took one look and said, ‘I won’t pose with those sissies.’ So they’re brought to meet Clay instead. I’m at the gym. Clay’s late. The Beatles are cursing. He finally shows up and says, ‘Come on Beatles. Let’s go make some money.’ They strike a pose in the ring where he taps George and the rest go down like dominoes. Clay says, ‘You boys aren’t as stupid as you look.’ John Lennon says, ‘No, but you are.’ Then they go off to their destiny and Ali goes off to his.” –Robert Lipsyte, who covered the fight for the New York Times
Whenever I hear ‘Crazy Train’ I’m immediately transported back to 8th grade Guitar class. One dude will forever be etched in my mind. Dave was 1/2 Japanese, all of about 5 ft tall, and probably weighed 80 lbs soaking wet, if that. His hair, alone worthy of open adoration, making up the bulk of his weight and height. This ‘Metal Mane’ was streaked, sprayed, and stood a good 6 inches above his head, cascading down to the middle of his back in perfectly teased strands. My 13 yr old brain could not fathom the ridiculous routine and expense this must have required. But damn if he didn’t more the rockstar part than 90% of the bands on the cover Cream and Hit Parader magazine. His bare arms were like sinewy, wire pipe cleaners. And I’d never seen jeans that tight in my life. Not even on a girl. No sir. I don’t know where the hell he found them, or how he breathed. The entire situation was delicately perched upon tiny black (or white) Capezio, soft-as-hell-leather lace-up dance shoes. Boom. Mind blown. Only a handful of dudes had the nuts to wear these. Dave’s look was definitely balls-out for West Phoenix. But nobody questioned him, because Dave was the reigning guitar badass. While the rest of us fumbled through the opening of ‘Stairway to Heaven’, Dave was staring at the ceiling tiles, biting his lip, soloing like the Segovia of Heavy Metal.
Dave even brought his own guitar to class. Lugged it around in a case thicker than him, covered in cool stickers. Rather that than play the nylon-strung acoustic beaters they had in class. I don’t remember what kind of acoustic it was, but the strings (always Dean Markley) were so light that you could hardly see them, let alone feel them. You had to lean in to hear a damn thing, but it was worth it. And the action was set so low that you could run scales faster than a hot knife through butter. But if you strummed it would buzz like crazy. No worries. No one was strumming shit. Everyone was shredding– with varying degrees of success. Dave was a Rock God in the making, and everyone at Maryvale High School seemed to sense it. Dave was into the hot, new Japanese Metal bands that no one else even heard of. And he spoke of Yngvie, Eddie, and Randy in hushed whispers like they were comrades. Knew all their solos and tricks, and could perform them on cue. Eruption, Spanish Fly, Dee, and of course, Crazy Train were all in his finely honed repertoire. We moved from Phoenix to Tempe that year, and I changed schools, so I don’t really know whatever became of Dave. But my fascination with the marvel and mystery of Randy Rhoads was firmly cemented. No head-banging hooligan. A sensitive, immensely talented man taken too soon.
“I never really got into Black Sabbath when I was in England. Right? And then Ozzy came out with this great first album, you know, it really was good. And we got to see them play after that, like almost every night. And so, Randy Rhoads, although being a wonderful guitar player, could not play Asteroids for shit. I beat him right across this country. From East coast, to West and back.
Randy Rhoads was like just, brilliant. You know, I mean of course he got better after he died. You know, because everybody does. Right? But uh, I loved Randy, yeah. He took risks. He wasn’t scared, you know. I mean, he knew his instrument, you know? So he’d just go for it. That’s what I used to like about him. And you could…like, Ozzy used to just throw him around, throw him up on his shoulders while he was playing. And he never missed a note.”
–Lemmy from Motorhead