Saturday, February 11, 2012

The #90 Guitarist of the Rock Era: John 5

The guitarist at #90 has played in several groups but one thing has remained constant--top-notch guitar playing and wild riffs.  Here's John 5:

#90:  John 5, David Lee Roth, Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, 26 years as an active guitarist

John William Lowery was born July 31, 1971 and is known by his stage name of John 5.  He has played for David Lee Roth, Marilyn Manson and now Rob Zombie.  John has also recorded six guitar albums.  He is also a staff writer for Chrysalis Records, working with the Scorpions, Ozzy Osbourne, Avril Lavigne, Garbage and Meat Loaf and has written and recorded with Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Lowery began playing guitar at age seven after watching the television show Hee Haw.  He would play in bars as a teenager, accompanied by his parents.  When Lowery was 17, he moved to Los Angeles and became a session guitarist.  He joined the group Alligator Soup, which led to meetings with Rudy Sarzo of Whitesnake and producer Bob Marlette. 

Marlette had Lowery working on TV and movie soundtracks (including Speed 2:  Cruise Control) and commercials and infomercials.  This exposure led to a job playing guitar for Lita Ford in opening for Kiss.  This also paid dividends as Lowery began long-term friendships with the members of Kiss.  Lowery was then chosen from 2,000 guitarists to play with k.d. lang on her tour.
In 1996, Lowery auditioned for the guitarist in Marilyn Manson's band but that spot went to Mike Linton, who became known as Zim Zum.  So Lowery joined Rob Halford, lead singer of Judas Priest, drummer Sid Riggs, James Wooley (keyboards) and bassist Ray Riendeau in the group 2wo.  The group put out an album (Voyeurs) and were part of the Ozzfest world tour, but when the tour was halted, 2wo broke up. 
In 1998, Lowery submitted six tracks that he had written to the management for David Lee Roth, the former lead singer of Van Halen, who had just been fired from that group for a second time.  Roth was impressed and scheduled a meeting wanting to hear more.   Lowery was chosen by David Lee Roth, former lead singer of Van Halen, to play lead on his album DLR Band.  John gained significant notoriety for his ability and the passion of his playing.  Lowery also wrote and recorded "Thug Pop" for Roth's 2003 album Diamond Dave.

The same year as Roth's album DLR Band, Manson fired Zim Zum and once again was looking for a new guitarist.  After a European tour with Rob Halford, Lowery met Manson for lunch and he was hired by the end of the meeting.  By this time, Lowery had taken the name John 5 and he joined the group for the Mechanical Animals tour.  His first live performance with Marilyn Manson was on the MTV Video Music Awards.

Lowery also worked with the band Plague with lead singer Jason Lowetz.  Marlette produced the album but it never was released.

In 2004, John 5 left Manson and formed the band Loser with lead singer Joe Grah, bassist Charles Lee and Glendon Crain on drums.  With help from producer Marlette, the group released the album Just Like You.  The group had some success, but John 5 was also working for Rob Zombie and opted to disband from Loser due to touring conflicts. 

This Date in Rock Music History: February 11

1956:  Elvis Presley performed "Heartbreak Hotel" and "Blue Suede Shoes" on the television program The Dorsey Brothers Stage Show.
1956:  The Platters notched a sixth week at #1 on the R&B chart with "The Great Pretender".

Friday, February 10, 2012

The #91 Guitarist of the Rock Era: Jason Becker

Up next in The Top 100 Guitarists*, a guitarist whose career was tragically cut short, for his potential was limitless. 
#91:  Jason Becker
27 years as an active guitarist
(performing Paganini's "5th")

Jason Eli Becker was born July 22, 1969 in Richmond, California.  He developed enthusiasm for the guitar at an early age as both his father and uncle played.  Jason was interested in music from all over the world, and developed his diverse techniques from many musical styles.  He studied the works of violinist Niccolo Paganini.  Becker developed his ability by playing to music from Bob Dylan Eddie Van Halen, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck.  Jason became a part of the duo Cacophony with friend Marty Friedman at age 16.  Becker was considered a virtuoso and one of the top guitar players of his time.

Becker went to Kennedy High School, where he met Friedman.  Cacophony put out two albums and toured both the United States and Japan.  European audiences embraced Cacophony, selling out shows everywhere they went.  Nevertheless, Cacophony broke up in 1989.  Becker did the solo album Perpetual Burn in 1988.  He then joined David Lee Roth's band at the age of 20, replacing guitarist Steve Vai, who left to form Whitesnake.  While recording his first album with Roth, Jason was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's Disease or ALS) and was given three to five years to live.  Becker was able to finish the album with some difficulty and was awarded Best New Guitarist from Guitar Magazine.

Becker has lost the ability to play guitar, to walk and to speak and now communicates with his eyes through a system developed by his father.  Despite his disability, Jason continues composing using a computer and has released Collection, a compilation album including his favorite tracks and three new songs.

Vai, Friedman, Paul Gilbert and others recorded to tribute albums to Jason, respectively entitled Warmth in the Wilderness I and Warmth in the Wilderness II.  All profits from the album have gone to help Becker with his medical expenses.

Becker's work included high-speed scalar and arpeggio passages, trademarks of his "shred" style of guitar playing.  He used sweep picking, alternate picking, artificial harmonic accenting and tapping. 

Becker's first guitar was an acoustic Franciscan.  He also played a Takamine acoustic, a Fender Musicmaster and a black Fender Stratocaster with a DiMario Steve Morse humbucker in the bridge in his early days.  While with Cacophony, Becker was endorsed by Hurricane Guitars, and he played a white Hurricane EX Series model with 22 frets and an HSS pickup setup. 

For the second Cacophony album, Jason switched to Carvin, using two DC Series models.  Becker continued to use these until he was diagnosed with ALS.  For the Roth album, Jason used Carvin, Ibanez, ESP, Valley Arts, Les Paul and Gibson guitars.  Recently, Becker allowed Paradise Guitars USA to release a Jason Becker signature guitar.  This signature model is similar to a Peavey with colored number fret inlays.  It features an alder body, a maple neck, a maple 16" radius fingerboard, 24 jumbo thin frets, a black Floyd Rose Pro Style floating Tremolo, Sperzel red satin tuners and a 14 degree tilt-back headstock. 

Becker started out with a small Peavey practice amp.  For the first Cacophony album, Becker upgraded to an ADAMP1 preamp.  He has also used a '70's Marshall half stack, a BOSS Super Overdrive, a Carvin X100B Stack and several different Marshall amps. 

Jason's career may have been cut short, but not his respect. He was considered one of the leaders in his field and is still honored by his peers today. 

Becker ranks #91 for the Rock Era*.

This Date in Rock Music History: February 10

1958:  Frank Sinatra moved to #1 on the Album chart with Come Fly With Me.

1962:  Henry Mancini owned the top album with the Soundtrack to "Breakfast At Tiffany's".
1962:  Elvis Presley achieved a fifth week at #1 on the Easy Listening chart with "Can't Help Falling In Love".
1962:  Joey Dee & the Starliters enjoyed a third week at #1 with "Peppermint Twist".  Gene Chandler moved to challenge with "Duke Of Earl" while "The Twist" by Chubby Checker, having already become the only song in the history of the Rock Era to reach #1--twice--was at #3 in its 31st week on the chart.

1964:  After their incredible appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show which was seen by a record 73 million people, the Beatles were overnight sensations.  Elvis Presley sent them a telegram of congratulations (pretty classy) and the group held a press conference in the Terrace Room at the Plaza Hotel in New York City.
1965:  Chad & Jeremy ("A Summer Song") were guests on The Dick Van Dyke Show on CBS-TV.
1966:  Bob Marley married Rita Anderson.
1967:  The Beatles continued to work on "A Day In The Life" in Studio One of the EMI Recording Studios on Abbey Road in London.  At the group's request, the orchestra members arrived in full evening dress along with a novelty item.  A violinist wore a red clown's nose, another had a fake gorilla's paw on his bow hand.   Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithfull, Keith Richards, Mike Nesmith and Donovan dropped by to watch.
1968:  The Beatles transferred all their business affairs to Apple Record Company.
1968:  Two great acts of the Rock Era debuted on the chart on the same date in history.  Sly & the Family Stone debuted with their first single "Dance To The Music" while Kenny Rogers & the First Edition debuted with "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)".
1968:  The Four Tops Greatest Hits was the #1 album in the U.K.

                Cream was back with their follow-up album...

1968:  The "Magical Mystery Tour" Soundtrack by the Beatles dominated the Album chart for a sixth week.  The Rolling Stones would have to settle for peaking at #2 with Their Satanic Majesties Request.  Diana Ross and the Supremes Greatest Hits was next with Herb Alpert's Ninth by Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass in the #4 spot.  Bob Dylan moved from 48-5 with the album John Wesley Harding, but would never be able to top the Beatles.  The rest of the Top 10:  Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. from the Monkees, The Turtles!  Golden Hits was #7, Cream's Disraeli Gears, the Mamas and the  Papas had the #9 album--Farewell to the First Golden Era and Engelbert Humperdinck closed the list with The Last Waltz.
1968:  "Chain Of Fools" by Aretha Franklin led the way on the R&B chart for a fourth week.

1968:  "Love Is Blue", The #1 Instrumental of the Rock Era*, moved from 7 to 1 on this date.  That shook off "Green Tambourine" by the Lemon Pipers while "Spooky" from the Classics IV was third.  John Fred & His Playboy Band dropped to #4 with their former #1--"Judy In Disguise (With Glasses)".  The rest of the Top 10:  Aretha Franklin's "Chain Of Fools", which peaked at #2, the Temptations and "I Wish It Would Rain", the Lettermen with the medley "Goin' Out Of My Head/Can't Take My Eyes Off You", the Human Beinz were still at 8 with "Nobody But Me", Gary Puckett from Twin Falls, Idaho with the Union Gap on "Woman, Woman" and the American Breed slipped with their smash "Bend Me, Shape Me".

1971:  Stanley, Idaho's Carole King released the epic album Tapestry.

1973:  British Rail, which was set to demolish the Cavern Club in Liverpool to build a new subway station, gave the famous venue a stay.  Now people 200 years from now can visit the place where the Beatles got their start.
1973:  Elton John owned the top album in the U.K. with Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player.
1973:  The Spinners took a turn at #1 on the R&B chart with "Could It Be I'm Falling In Love".

      Steely Dan was a hot new group with a dynamite first single...

1973:  Elton John prevailed at #1 for a second week with "Crocodile Rock" while former #1 "You're So Vain" from Carly Simon hung in there at #2 for a third week.  Timmy Thomas snuck in at 3 with "Why Can't We Live Together".  Hurricane Smith had the #4 song--"Oh, Babe, What Would You Say?" and Stevie Wonder's former #1 "Superstition" was right behind him.  The rest of the Top 10:  newcomers Steely Dan with "Do It Again", War moved "The World Is A Ghetto" to #7, Marvin Gaye's "Trouble Man", Lobo flew in to #9 with "Don't Expect Me To Be Your Friend" and the Spinners touched down at #10 with "Could It Be I'm Falling In Love".
1976:  The Memphis, Tennessee Police Department made Elvis Presley an honorary reserve officer.
1977:  The Clash began recording their debut album at CBS Studios in London.

1978:  Van Halen released their debut album on Columbia Records.
1979:  "Aqua Boogie" by Parliament, one of The Top 100 R&B Songs of the 1970's*, achieved a fourth week at #1 on the R&B chart.
1979:  Anne Murray had her fifth #1 on the Adult chart with "I Just Fall In Love Again".

1979:  We first heard of this group on this date, as Dire Straits debuted on the chart with their first single--"Sultans Of Swing".
1979:  The red-hot Bee Gees had by far the week's highest debut with "Tragedy", debuting at #29.

1979:  Rod Stewart set up camp at #1 with "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?".  Nicolette Larson had the only new Top 10 song with "Lotta Love".

1987:  Atlantic Starr released the single "Always". 
1990:  Eric Clapton finished a record 18 nights at Royal Albert Hall in London. 
1990:  Phil Collins had one of the hottest songs out as "I Wish It Would Rain Down" moved from 71 to 46.  

                                    Sweden's Roxette...

1990:  Paula Abdul scored her third #1 song and fifth consecutive Top 10 with "Opposites Attract".  Seduction tried to challenge with "Two To Make It Right" while "Downtown Train" by Rod Stewart was #1 in many markets.  Aerosmith reached #4 with "Janie's Got A Gun".  The rest of the Top 10:  Michael Bolton fell with his former #1 "How Am I Supposed To Live Without You", Chicago moved into the Top 10 for the 21st and final time of their career with their latest--"What Kind Of Man Would I Be?", Roxette jumped from 13 to 7 with "Dangerous", Skid Row had song #8 with "I Remember You", Janet Jackson jumped from 17-9 with "Escapade" and Milli Vanilli fooled listeners again with "All Or Nothing".
1990:  Gloria Estefan posted her fifth #1 song on the Adult Contemporary chart with "Here We Are".

1990:  Paula Abdul achieved an amazing feat on this date.  She'd had the #1 album with Forever Your Girl back in September.  On this date, a full five months later, the album amazingly returned to #1, in its 81st week of release!
1993:  Michael Jackson said in an interview with Oprah Winfey that he had a disorder that destroyed the pigmentation of his skin.
1996:  The week's biggest mover belonged to Mary J. Blige, who jumped from 21 to 6 with "Not Gon' Cry".
1996:  Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men remained at #1 for the 11th week with "One Sweet Day".  That moved them into a tie for 4th at the time with "I Swear" from All-4-One for the most weeks at #1 in the Rock Era.  The only songs ahead of "One Sweet Day" on this date were "I'll Make Love To You" from Boyz II Men and "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston with 14 each and "End Of The Road" by Boyz II Men with 13 weeks.  Counting "Fantasy", Mariah Carey had now been in the #1 position for 20 out of 21 weeks.  No one has ever achieved that in history.

1997:  Brian Connolly, singer of Sweet, died of kidney and liver failure in Slough, England at age 52.
1998:  Axl Rose, lead singer of Guns N' Roses, was charged with disorderly conduct when his ego got in the way and he got into a scrap with a baggage handler at an airport in Phoenix, Arizona.  Entertainment stars sometimes forget they're no better than anyone else.
2002:  Elton John performed at the National Basketball Association All-Star Game in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

2002:  Enrique Iglesias moved to #1 on the U.K. Album chart with Escape.
2003:  Anastacia underwent a seven-hour breast cancer operation.
2005:  Prince was named the top concert act of 2004 after bringing in $90 million.  Madonna was second with just under $55m and Metallica third with $43m.
2006:  Scott Stapp, former lead singer of Creed, married Jaclyn Nesheiwat in Miami, Florida.

                                                 The Boss captured three Grammys...

2008:  Amy Winehouse won five Grammy Awards, including Song and Record of the Year for "Rehab" and Best New Artist.  Kanye West took home four awards, Bruce Springsteen won three, while the White Stripes, Justin Timberlake, Carrie Underwood and Mary J. Blige each received two awards.
2008:  Jack Johnson prevailed on the U.K. Album chart with Sleep Through the Static.
2009:  It's never too late to right a wrong.  On this date, the San Diego (California) School Board apologized to Pete Seeger for the School Board of 1960 asking him to sign a loyalty oath before performing at a high school there.
2013:  Mumford & Sons captured the Grammy for Album of the Year.

2013:  Gotye won Record of the Year for "Somebody That I Used To Know".
2013.  The group Fun was awarded the Grammy for Best New Artist.

Born This Day:
1914:  Larry Adler, mouth organist, who was a soloist with many symphony orchestras around the world and played with artists as diverse as Fred Astaire, George Gershwin, Elton John and Sting, was born in Baltimore, Maryland; died August 7, 2001 in London.  (Note:  some websites report that Adler died on August 6, but the correct date is August 7, according to the newspaper 'The Los Angeles Times'.)

1937:  Roberta Flack was born in Black Mountain, North Carolina.
1937:  Don Wilson, guitarist of the Ventures, was born in Tacoma, Washington
1940:  Jimmy Merchant of Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers was born in the Bronx, New York.
1943:  Ral Donner ("You Don't Know What You've Got Until You Lose It" from 1961) was born in Chicago, Illinois; died of lung cancer in Chicago on April 6, 1984.

1949:  Nigel Olsson, esteemed drummer for Elton John and a solo artist ("Dancin' Shoes" and "Little Bit Of Soap"), was born in Wallasey, Cheshire, England.  (Note:  some websites report that Olsson was born in Wallasey, Merseyside.  While Wallasey is now considered part of Merseysite, at the time of Nigel's birth (which is the only time that matters when official birth records are concerned), Wallasey was part of Cheshire.)
1962:  Cliff Burton, bassist of Metallica, was born in Castro Valley, California; died September 27, 1986 in Ljungby, Sweden when the band's tour bus crashed as it was traveling from Stockholm, Sweden to Copenhagen, Denmark.
1977:  Rosanna Tavarez of Eden's Crush ("Get Over Yourself" from 2001) was born in New York City.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The #92 Guitarist of the Rock Era: Ted Nugent

With today's feature, Inside the Rock Era has now included 12 guitarists in our special.  Ted Nugent ranks as #92:

#92:  Ted Nugent, Amboy Dukes, solo, Damn Yankees
 active guitarist for 55 years

Ted Nugent was born December 13, 1948 in Detroit, Michigan. He was the lead guitarist of the Amboy Dukes before beginning a long solo career.
The Amboy Dukes performed at the Cellar in Arlington Heights, Illinois beginning in late 1965. The group released three albums that did fairly well. In 1973, Nugent signed a deal with Frank Zappa's DiscReet Records and released the album Call of the Wild.

Nugent dropped the band name Amboy Dukes in 1975 and signed with Epic Records. Cat Scratch Fever (from 1977) was the album that put him on the map thanks to the title track. "Stranglehold" became his signature song and he became a guitar hero.

Nugent cites Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, The Who, the Animals, Chuck Berry, Steppenwolf, the Kinks, Bo Diddley,Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels, Frank Zappa and Muddy Waters as influences.
From 1982-1989, Nugent released several moderately successful solo alums. In 1989, he formed Damn Yankees with vocalist and guitarist Tommy Shaw of Styx, bassist Jack Blades from Night Ranger and drummer Michael Cartellone. Thanks to the song "High Enough", their self-titled album in 1990 sold over a million copies.

Nugent then returned to a solo career, recording one of his best albums--Spirit of the Wild in 1995. He has been active in several right-wing causes and speaks out against drinking alcohol and using drugs. He last toured in 2011.
Nugent has released 13 studio albums and has sold over 30 million records, ranking as one of the top guitarists in sales. He averaged more than 200 concerts a year from 1967-1980. In 2006, Nugent was inducted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame.

In his early career in the 1970's, Nugent played a hollow-body Gibson Byrdland guitar and used Fenderamps. Gibson Guitar has since developed a model named for him.

At #92 for the Rock Era*--Ted Nugent.

This Date in Rock Music History: February 9

1957:  A new star first appeared on the radio.  On this date, Johnny Mathis had his first hit "Wonderful!  Wonderful!" debut on the chart.
1957:  "Blue Monday" by Fats Domino was the top R&B song for a third week.
1959:  Frankie Avalon had to bow out of the ill-fated Winter Dance Party (that had already claimed the lives of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper) due to pneumonia, replaced by Paul Anka and Fabian.
1959:  "Stagger Lee" by Lloyd Price moved to #1 on the R&B chart.

1959:  The Coasters had a big hit out as "Charlie Brown" moved from 69 to 29.
1959:  Lloyd Price jumped to #1 with "Stagger Lee".
1961:  The Beatles made their first appearance at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, England under their new name.

1962:  Neil Sedaka recorded "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do".
1962:  Bobby Darin was a guest on the popular television show What's My Line(Note:  numerous websites state that Bobby Darin was a guest on the program on December 9, 1964.  The correct date is February 9, 1964, according to the official website for Bobby Darin.)1963:  "Two Lovers" by Mary Wells wrapped up a four-week run at #1 on the R&B chart.
1963:  The Rooftop Singers remained on top for a third week on the Easy Listening chart with "Walk Right In".

The 4 Seasons with one of the great sounds of the early 60's...

1963:  Paul & Paula had the new #1 song with "Hey Paula".  That meant someone had to fall and on this day it was the Rooftop Singers.  Bobby Vee's excellent "The Night Has A Thousand Eyes" remained third with "Loop De Loop" from Johnny Thunder next.  The rest of a great Top 10:  The 4 Seasons vaulted from 15 to 6 with one of their signature hits--"Walk Like A Man", Dion moved from 12-7 with "Ruby Baby", the Miracles climbed in with "You've Really Got A Hold On Me", the Cascades' great song "Rhythm Of The Rain" shot up from 19 to 9 and Steve Lawrence fell with "Go Away Little Girl".
1968:  Hal Cone, former manager of the Monkees, was found guilty of theft, forgery, receiving stolen property and conspiracy.
1971:  Bobby Darin had surgery in Los Angeles to replace a bad heart valve.  He survived this operation but would die later while undergoing another.
1972:  Bobby Darin starred on an episode of Night Gallery on NBC-TV.
1972:  Wings made their live debut at Nottingham University in England.  Brinsley Swartz opened the show.
1974:  A new act from Philadelphia first appeared on the chart and on the radio with their debut single release ("She's Gone").  It wouldn't become a hit until two years later when they re-released it.  They would go on to become one of The Top Duos of the Rock Era*--Hall & Oates.

1974:  "Waterloo" by Abba was chosen to represent Sweden in the Eurovision Song Contest.  It of course won and helped launch them as one of the top international super acts of the Rock Era.
1974:  Anne Murray reached #1 on the Adult chart with "Love Song".
1974:  Eddie Kendricks had himself a #1 R&B song with "Boogie Down".

1974:  John Denver appeared to have his second big hit as "Sunshine On My Shoulders" moved from #77 to 51.
1974:  The beautiful "Love's Theme" by Love Unlimited Orchestra was the new #1 song, with Barbra Streisand's "The Way We Were" dropping for now.
1975:  Cher debuted her television variety series with guests Elton John and Bette Midler.

1976:  Percy Faith, bandleader, composer and conductor who gave us "Theme From 'A Summer Place'", not only Record of the Year in 1961 and one of The Top 5 Instrumentals of the Rock Era* but also one of The Top 100 Songs of the Rock Era*, died of cancer at age 67 in Encino, California.  (Note:  several websites, including '', falsely report his place of death as Los Angeles.  According to credible sources such as the newspaper 'The Los Angeles Times', Faith died in Encino.)

1980:  A great new group from Australia was introduced to us on this date as Air Supply first appeared on the chart and on the radio with their debut single--"Lost In Love".
1980:  "Rock With You" topped the R&B chart for Michael Jackson for a sixth week.
1980:  Dan Fogelberg scored a #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart with one of The Top Love Songs of the Rock Era*--"Longer".

         Stevie Nicks on lead for Fleetwood Mac's "Sara"...

1980:  Michael Jackson had by far his biggest solo hit to date as "Rock With You" remained at #1 for a fourth week.  The Captain & Tennille would have to settle for #2 for a fourth week with "Do That To Me One More Time".  Kenny Rogers was still a solid #3 and many radio stations had "Coward Of The County" #1.  Smokey Robinson's biggest career solo hit "Cruisin'" was fourth with Queen holding their ground with "Crazy Little Thing Called Love".  The rest of the Top 10:  Teri DeSario with K.C. and "Yes, I'm Ready", Fleetwood Mac's "Sara"--it too was much higher in most markets, the Eagles remained at #8 with "The Long Run", Dan Fogelberg's breakthrough hit "Longer" moved from 17 to 9 and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers were content at #10 with "Don't Do Me Like That".

             The Eagles with one of 'The Top Album Tracks of the Rock Era'*--"In the City"...

1980:  Pink Floyd notched a fourth week at #1 on the Album chart with The Wall.  Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers finally had their breakthrough with Damn the Torpedoes and the Eagles' great album The Long Run was third.  Michael Jackson (Off the Wall), Kenny Rogers (Kenny) and Dan Fogelberg (Phoenix) held their ground.  The rest of the Top 10:  On the Radio-Greatest Hits-Volumes I & II from Donna Summer, the superb Tusk album by Fleetwood Mac, Bee Gees Greatest at #9 and Styx re-entered the Top 10 with Cornerstone.
1981:  Phil Collins released the album Face Value.

1981:  Bill Haley, whose song "Rock Around The Clock" not only officially started the Rock Era but remains one of The Top 100 Songs of the Rock Era*, died of a heart attack at his home in Harlingen, Texas at age 56.

1985:  Howard Jones released the single "Things Can Only Get Better".
1985:  All signs pointed to a huge hit for Wham!  with "Careless Whisper" and it jumped to the top of the Adult Contemporary chart.

   The great Fogerty made a huge comeback with "The Old Man Down the Road".

1985:  Madonna rose to #1 on the Album chart with Like a Virgin.  Previous #1 Born in the U.S.A. by Bruce Springsteen would greatly outlast Madonna's album in the long run.  Wham!  moved to 3 with Make It Big while Foreigner's Agent Provocateur locked on to the #4 spot.  The rest of the Top 10:  Prince with the Soundtrack to "Purple Rain", Chicago 17, New Edition with their self-titled album, Bryan Adams and Reckless, Tina Turners's great album Private Dancer was ninth after 35 weeks and former CCR leader John Fogerty was back with Centerfield, which jumped from 21 to 10 in its third week of release.

                        Ocean was back with another smash...

1985:  Foreigner's great song "I Want To Know What Love Is" was #1 for a second week.  Phillip Bailey from Earth, Wind & Fire teamed with Phil Collins for "Easy Lover" while Wham!  was third with "Careless Whisper".  Billy Ocean had another winner with "Loverboy" and Don Henley glided into the #5 position with "The Boys Of Summer".  The rest of a solid Top 10:  Chicago's "You're The Inspiration", Hall & Oates and "Method Of Modern Love", the Pointer Sisters reached #8 with "Neutron Dance", Madonna wasn't "Like a Virgin" and Prince dropped with "I Would Die 4 (sic) U (sic)".
1986:  Pete Townshend, lead guitarist of the Who, and Chrissie Hynde, lead singer of the Pretenders played a charity concert at Royal Albert Hall in London for victims of a volcanic eruption in Columbia.
1991:  Jesus Jones had the top album in the U.K.--Doubt.
1991:  C&C Music Factory climbed on top with "Gonna' Make You Sweat".  Surface fell after two weeks with "The First Time" while Whitney Houston moved from 8 to 3 with her latest--"All The Man That I Need".
1993:  Mick Jagger, lead singer of the Rolling Stones, released his solo album Wandering Spirit.

1998:  Garth Brooks donated all earnings from his album Sevens for a seven-day period to Oprah Winfrey's Angel Network.

2002:  The top selling albums in the world of 2001 were No Angel by Dido ($8.6m), Hybrid by Linkin Park ($8.5m), Survivor by Destiny's Child ($7.8m),  Hotshot from Shaggy ($7.2m) and Britney by Britney Spears ($7m too much).
2003:  Kelly Rowland had the #1 album in the U.K. with Simply Deep.
2004:  Diana Ross was convicted of driving under the influence in Tucson, Arizona and was ordered to spend two days in jail.

2005:  Roger Daltrey, lead singer of the Who, was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire at Buckingham Palace in London.
2005:  Tyrone Davis ("Turn Back The Hands Of Time" from 1970) died in Chicago, Illinois of a stroke at the age of 66.
2005:  The artist the Game had the #1 album with The Documentary while Tina Turner's compilation All the Best was second.
2010:  Bob Dylan, Smokey Robinson, John Cougar Mellencamp, Natalie Cole and Joan Baez performed for U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House for "A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement" during Black History Month.

Born This Day:

1925:  Bobby Lewis, who himself had another of the great early rock songs ("Tossin' And Turnin'" from 1961), was born in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Note:  several websites report that Day was born on either February 16 or February 17, and some say his birth year was 1927 or 1933.  The correct birthday is February 17, 1925, according to an interview Bobby gave in 2010.)


       Barry Mann with wife Cynthia Weil and Carole King...

1939:  Barry Mann, who along with wife Cynthia Weil wrote scores of great songs including "On Broadway" for the Drifters, "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" and "(You're My) Soul And Inspiration" by the Righteous Brothers, "Kicks" and "Hungry" for Paul Revere & the Raiders, "We've Gotta' Get Out Of This Place" by the Animals, "Walkin' In The Rain" by the Ronettes, and "Blame It On The Bossa Nova" by Eydie Gorme, and many more, was born in Brooklyn, New York.
1940:  Brian Bennett, drummer of the Shadows, was born in Palmers Green, North London.  (Note:  some websites report that he was born in Hampstead, England, or simply London.  Palmers Green is a suburb of London, and Bennette was born there, according to the 'BBC'.)

1942:  Stanley, Idaho's Carole King, star performer who gave us one of The Top 10 Albums of the Rock Era*--Tapestry and is one of the top songwriters of the Rock Era, was born in Brooklyn, New York.  (Note:  some websites report that Carole was born in Manhattan.  According to her official website, she was born in Brooklyn.)

1943:  Barbara Lewis ("Hello Stranger" from 1963) was born in South Lyon, Michigan.  (Note:  '' and other websites report that Barbara was born in South Lyon.  This is not the truth.  She was born in Salem, Michigan, and went to high school in South Lyon, according to the book 'Grit, Noise, & Revolution:  The Birth of Detroit Rock 'n' Roll' by David A. Carson.) 1947:  Major Harris of the Delfonics and a solo artist ("Love Won't Let Me Wait"), was born in Richmond, Virginia; died of congestive heart and lung failure in Richmond on November 9, 2012.
1951:  Dennis Thomas, alto saxophone player of Kool & the Gang, was born in Jersey City, New Jersey.
1960:  William "Holly" Johnson, bassist of Big in Japan and lead singer of Frankie Goes to Hollywood, was born in Liverpool, Merseyside, England.  (Note:  many websites claim he was born on February 19, and some list his birthplace as Khartoum, Sudan.  According to Johnson's official websites he was born February 9 in Liverpool.)
1966:  Rachel Bolan (real name James Southworth), songwriter and bassist of Skid Row, was born in Point Pleasant, New Jersey.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The #93 Guitarist of the Rock Era: Robbie Krieger

To recap The Top 100 Guitarists of the Rock Era* so far, at #100 was Mick Barr.  Jerry Cantrell of Alice In Chains ranked #99 with Mike Bloomfield of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band #98 and Danny Kirwan, first with Fleetwood Mac before he was on his own grabbing #97.  Daron Malakian of System of a Down was #96, Sam Totman of DragonForce came in #95 and Kerry King of Slayer ranked #94.  

That takes us to #93.  He's been around for 44 years and given us memorable solos over the years.  Here's Robbie Krieger of the Doors:
   #93:  Robbie Krieger, Doors
 active for 48 years

Robert Alan "Robby" Krieger was born January 8, 1946 in Los Angeles.  He was attracted to music in the 50's from Elvis Presley, the Platters and Fats Domino.  He tried piano and trumpet but while enrolled at a private school, he taught himself to play the guitar.  When he was 18, Robbie got his own flamenco guitar and played flamenco, folk, blues and jazz. 
Krieger's big break came when he joined the Doors.  It was Krieger's fingerstyle electric guitar playing and songwriting (he wrote many of the biggest hits) that helped make the Doors one of the top groups of the 1960's. 

After lead singer Jim Morrison's death in 1971, the Doors continued as a trio with Krieger sharing lead vocals with Ray Manzarek.  After the group disbanded in 1973, Krieger formed the Butts Band and had some success as a jazz guitarist, recording as The Robby Krieger Band in the 1970's and 1980's, including the albums Versions (from 1983) and No Habla in 1986.  In 1982, Krieger played guitar for the group Acid Casualties that included a cover of the Pink Floyd single "Point Me at the Sky". 
In the early 90's, Krieger formed the Robby Krieger Organization with Skip Van Winkle on keyboards and drummer Dale Alexander.  In 1996, the Robby Krieger Band took shape featuring his son Waylon, Barry Oakley Jr. on bass, Alexander on keyboards and drummer Ray Mehlbaum.  The band did shows in North America and Europe between 1996 and 1998.  In 2000, Krieger released an instrumental fusion album called Cinematix with Billy Cobham and Edgar Winter.

Krieger and Manzarek reformed as the Doors of the 21st Century with vocalist Ian Astbury from the Cult and the band is now known as Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger of the Doors.

Krieger played guitar on a few songs by Blue Oyster Cult and has also made guest appearances with the band Particle.  In June of 2008, ZYX Studio released his concert with Eric Burdon, called Live at the Ventura Beach California.

Krieger has proven through a long career that he belongs in The Top 100 Guitarists of the Rock Era*--Robbie ranks #93.

Top Unknown/Underrated Songs of the Rock Era: Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird"

We didn't want to go too long without including this, one of the primo tracks of The Top Underrated Songs of the Rock Era*!

Lynyrd Skynyrd plays this live about as good as any artist performs any live song, and they play it perhaps better than the studio recording.  Which is saying a lot given the complexity of the guitar solo at the end.

Enjoy Free Bird!
"Free Bird"
Lynyrd Skynyrd

Words and Music by Ronald Van Zant and Albert Collins

If I leave here tomorrow
Would you still remember me?
For I must be travelling on, now,
'Cause there's too many places I've got to see. 

But, if I stayed here with you, girl,
Things just couldn't be the same.
'Cause I'm as free as a bird now,
And this bird you can not change.
Lord knows, I can't change.

Bye, bye, its been a sweet love.
Though this feeling I can't change.
But please don't take it badly,
'Cause Lord knows I'm to blame. 

But, if I stayed here with you girl,
Things just couldn't be the same.
Cause I'm as free as a bird now,
And this bird you'll never change.
And this bird you can not change.
Lord knows, I can't change.
Lord help me, I can't change.

This Date in Rock Music History: February 8

1956:  Buddy Holly signed a recording contract with Decca Records.
1960:  The Special House Subcommittee on Legislative Oversight opened hearings on disc jockey payola.

                        1960--One of the best times to be a teenager in history!

1960:  Bobby Rydell had a hot song as "Wild One" moved from 72 to 29.
1960:  Mark Dinning moved to #1 with "Teen Angel".
1964:  On their first full day in New York City, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr (George had a sore throat) went for a walk around Central Park.  Over 400 female fans followed and extra police had to be brought in to control them.

1964:  People who weren't around at the time and take music for granted ask:  "Why were the Beatles so popular?"  A valid question--take notes.  On this day, the Beatles' first album in the U.S.--Meet the Beatles, moved from #92 to #3 on the Album chart in just its second week.  The #1 album at the time, typical of popular music at the time, was The Singing Nun by the Singing Nun.  It had ruled the chart for 10 straight weeks.  After the Beatles hit, your very rarely saw a #1 album that wasn't a rock and roll album or at least soft rock.  The Beatles weren't just popular.  They were so talented and so innovative that they changed music forever.  None of the acts we listen to today would even be possible were it not for the Beatles.  So you see, they weren't just a group that hit it big; they made rock the dominant form of music from 1964 through the present day.

                          The Marketts great instrumental...

1964:  The Beatles had the #1 song for a second week with "I Want To Hold Your Hand".  Lesley Gore was second with "You Don't Own Me" while the Marketts ("Out Of Limits" and the Rip Chords ("Hey Little Cobra") remained in their positions.  The rest of the Top 10:  Major Lance with "Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um", the Trashmen had "Surfin' Bird", the Beatles' follow-up--"She Loves You", moved from 21 to 7 in its third week, Rick Nelson edged up with "For You", Dionne Warwick remained at #9 with "Anyone Who Had A Heart" and Bobby Vinton tumbled down with "There!  I've Said It Again". 

1965:  The Supremes released the single "Stop!  In the Name of Love".
1967:  Peter & Gordon ("A World Without Love") went their separate ways.
1969: Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Steve Winwood announced the formation of a new group. After bassist Rich Grech came aboard, the quartet would be known as Blind Faith.
1969:  Although we would come to know them better by dozens of great songs in the years to come, Three Dog Night first appeared on the radio and on the chart on this date with their first single--"Try A Little Tenderness".
1969:  Janis Joplin and the Kozmic Blues Band went to Rindge, New Hampshire to begin an intensive rehearsal schedule.

                The complete version of "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida"...

1969:  TCB by Diana Ross & the Supremes with the Temptations moved to #1 on the Album chart, temporarily knocking off The White Album by the Beatles after six weeks.  Wichita Lineman from Glen Campbell took third, with the super Greatest Hits album by the Association and another collaboration from Diana Ross & the Supremes & the Temptations--Diana Ross & the Supremes Join the Temptations, trailing.  The rest of the Top 10:  In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida from Iron Butterfly, The Second by Steppenwolf, Elvis Presley entered the Top 10 with Elvis, Young-Holt Unlimited had a great sound with Souful Strut, which moved from 24-9 and the self-titled Blood, Swet & Tears moved from 26-10 in just its second week.

1969:  The classic "Crimson And Clover" by Tommy James & the Shondells, remained at #1.  "Everyday People" from Sly & the Family Stone patienty waited behind while the Brooklyn Bridge remained steady with "Worst That Could Happen".  The Doors had another big hit with "Touch Me" and the Foundations were up to 5 with "Build Me Up Buttercup".  The rest of the Top 10:  The Bee Gees had their eighth career hit and second Top 10 song with "I Started A Joke", Marvin Gaye's #1 smash "I Heard It Through The Grapevine", Diana Ross & the Supremes & the Temptations were at 8 with "I'm Gonna' Make You Love Me", Booker T & the MG's with one of The Top 100 Instrumentals of the Rock Era*, "Hang 'Em High" and Tyrone Davis entered the Top 10 with "Can I Change My Mind".
1971:  Bob Dylan's documentary Eat the Document premiered at the Academy of Music in New York City.  Proceeds went towards ending strip mining in Pike County, Kentucky.

1973:  Max Yasgur, owner of the dairy farm in Bethel, New York that was the site of the famous Woodstock festival, died of a heart attack in Marathon, Florida at age 53.

1975:  A new British act that would go on to enjoy substantial success first appeared on the chart.  Queen debuted with their first single--"Killer Queen".
1975:  John Denver had the #1 Adult song with "Sweet Surrender".
1980:  David Bowie and his wife Angie were divorced after ten years of marriage.
1981:  R.E.M. recorded for the first time at Bombay Studios in Smyrna, Georgia.

1982:  Cher opened on Broadway in New York City in the play Come Back to the Five & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean.
1986:  Billy Ocean rose to the #1 position in the U.K. with "When the Going Gets Tough (The Tough Get Going)".


 1986:  Barbra Streisand owned the top album with The Broadway Album.  Promise by Sade was a solid #2, followed by the self-titled Heart and the amazing Scarecrow by John Cougar Mellencamp.
1986:  "That's What Friends Are For" from Dionne & Friends (Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight & Dionne Warwick) was #1 for a third week on the R&B chart.

1986:  Sade scored a #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart with "The Sweetest Taboo".

1986:  ELO had a fast-rising song as "Calling America" moved from 91 to 69.

             "Kyrie Eleison", meaning Lord, have mercy...

1986:  Dionne & Friends registered a fourth week at #1 with "That's What Friends Are For".  Survivor had "Burning Heart" while Wham!  was #3 with "I'm Your Man".  Billy Ocean moved to #4 with "When the Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going" and Whitney Houston had her third Top 10 of her career with "How Will I Know".  The rest of the Top 10:  newcomers Mr. Mister and "Kyrie", Paul McCartney moved to #7 with "Spies Like Us", Stevie Nicks was on her way down with "Talk To Me", James Brown's "Living In America" entered the Top 10 and Gloria Estefan & the Miami Sound Machine were at #10 with "Conga".

1988:  Billy Ocean was on a roll and he released the single "Get Outta' My Dreams, Get Into My Car".

1988:  INXS released the single "Devil Inside".  (Note:  some websites incorrectly list the release date as February 13, the day the song debuted on the chart.  Everyone repeat after me:  It is physically impossible for a song to be mailed to radio stations, added by radio stations to their playlists, reported by radio stations to the trade papers, and the charts printed and distributed by the trade papers all on the same day.)
1988:  The surviving members of the Who reunited for their 25th anniversary at the British Phonographic Industry Awards in London.
1990:  Del Shannon, who gave us one of The Top 100 Songs of the Rock Era* in "Runaway", died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Santa Clarita, California.  
1992:  Jodeci had the new #1 on the R&B chart with "Stay".

               "Love is a Wonderful Thing" of five hits on Michael Bolton's new album...

1992:  Garth Brooks accomplished the rare feat of returning to #1 for a fourth time with the same album.  He did that on this date with Ropin' the Wind, and the cumulative count now reached 11 weeks at #1 for one of The Top 15 Albums of the Rock Era*.  He toppled Nevermind from Nirvana while Garth's previous album, No Fences, was incredibly moving back up to #3 after 73 weeks of release.  Dangerous from Michael Jackson was #4 while Too Legit To Quit by Hammer was at #5.  The rest of the Top 10:  Achtung Baby from U2, Cooleyhighharmony, the solid album by Boyz II Men, Time, Love & Tenderness by Michael Bolton, Metallica with their self-titled debut and Diamonds and Pearls moved to #10 for Prince & the New Power Generation.
1993:  Tom Jones was a guest on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air on NBC-TV.
1994:  Some people just don't deserve any success.  Oasis were forced to cancel their first tour in foreign countries after being deported from Holland.  The group was involved in a drunken brawl on a ferry resulting in members of the band being arrested and locked away.
1997:  No Doubt ruled the Album chart for an eighth week with Tragic Kingdom.  Soundtracks from "Evita" and "Romeo & Juliet" were next, followed by Celine Dion's smash album Falling Into You.

1997:  Toni Braxton notched a 10th week at #1 with "Un-Break My Heart".
1999:  Universal Music, Warner Music, BMG, Sony Music and EMI introduced Project Madison, developed by IBM to allow fast, secure distribution of full-length, CD-quality albums on the Internet.
2009:  Chris Brown surrendered to police and was arrested for an attack on girlfriend Rihanna the night before following a pre-Grammys party. 
2000:  Stan Lee announced that he would create a comic book based on the Backstreet Boys.
2002:  Bob Wooler, resident disc jockey and person in charge of booking talent at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, England in the early 60's, who booked the Beatles for many shows and introduced the group to their manager, Brian Epstein, died in Liverpool at age 76.  
2005:  Keith Knudsen, drummer of the Doobie Brothers, died of pneumonia at age 56 in Kentfield, California.  (Note:  some websites incorrectly list the place of death as San Francisco, California.  According to Bruce Cohn, longtime manager of the Doobie Brothers, as well as The Associated Press and the newspaper 'The Los Angeles Times', Cohn died in Kentfield.)  

2006:  U2 captured five Grammy awards including Album of the Year for How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.  John Legend was honored as Best New Artist.

2006:  Kelly Clarkson won Grammys for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance (for "Since U (sic) Been Gone") and Best Pop Vocal Album (for Breakaway).

2009:  Robert Plant won five Grammy Awards for his collaboration with Alison Krauss, including Album of the Year (Raising Sand) and Record of the Year for "Please Read The Letter".  (Note:  many websites incorrectly report the date as February 9, the date that newspapers ran the story.  As you know, newspapers are printed the day following the news.  The Grammy Awards are telecast on Sunday nights, and in 2009, Sunday fell on February 8.)

2009:  Coldplay won the Grammy for Song of the Year with "Viva La Vida".  (See above note about false date shown for Grammy Awards on other websites.)
2009:  John Mayer won the Grammy for Best Male Vocal Performance for "Gravity".

2009:  Ringo Starr earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  (Note:  many websites incorrectly report the date of the event--according to United Press International, Starr earned his star on February 8.)

Born This Day:

1932:  John Williams, acclaimed conductor and composer, was born in New York City.  (Note:  numerous places are listed as places of birth for John:  Queens, Flushing, New York City, Floral Park, and Long Island.  'MTV' lists his birthplace as Floral Park, and for once, they are right.  Floral Park is an incorporated village, formerly included as part of Queens, but it became incorporated in 1908, well before the birth of John Williams, and it is also included in the census.)
1936:  Larry Verne (the #1 "Mr. Custer" from 1960) was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota; died October 8, 2013 in Sylmar, California from heart failure.
1943:  Creed Bratton (real name William Charles Schneider), guitarist of the Grass Roots, was born in Los Angeles.
1946:  Paul Wheatbread, drummer of Gary Puckett & the Union Gap, was born in San Diego, California.
1946:  Adolpho De La Para, drummer of Canned Heat, was born in Mexico City, Mexico.

1948:  Dan Seals of England Dan & John Ford Coley was born in McCarney, Texas; died March 25, 2009 of mantle cell lymphoma in Nashville, Tennessee.

1961:  Vince Neil, lead singer of Motley Crue, was born in Hollywood, California
1961:  Sam Llanas, singer-songwriter and acoustic guitarist of the BoDeans ("Closer To Free" from 1993), was born in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

1971:  Will Turpin,bassist of Collective Soul, was born in Fairbanks, Alaska.
1977:  Dave "Phoenix" Ferrel, bassist of Linkin Park ("In The End" from 2002), was born in Plymouth, Massachusetts.