Saturday, March 10, 2012

The #62 Guitarist of the Rock Era: Nuno Bettencourt

The #62 Guitarist* received great exposure in the 1990's when his group generated attention. He has consistently made himself better.  Nuno Bettencourt is next:

#62:  Nuno Bettencourt, Extreme
28 years as an active guitarist
(Solos from Extreme DVD)

Nuno Duarte Gil Mendes Bettencourt was born September 20, 1966 in Praia da Vitoria, Terceira, Azores, Portugal.  He is best known for his work with Extreme but has participated in many different styles of music.

Bettencourt and his family moved to Hudson, Massachusetts when he was four.  His first instrument was the drums and he played them until brother Luis began to teach him how to play guitar.  Nuno has said that he skipped many school days to practice upwards of seven hours a day.  Nuno cites Eddie Van Halen, Jimmy Page and Al DiMeola as key influences with Brian May giving him his sense of melody in his solos.  As Bettencourt began to develop as a guitarist and songwriter, he studied the music of the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Prince and Paco de Lucia.

Bettencourt joined his first group called Sinful but didn't fare well. So in 1985, he joined the Boston group Extreme and shortly afterwards, the group signed a recording contract with A&M Records. In 1989, the group released its self-titled debut. The following year, Extreme hit it big with their album Pornograffiti, which included the monster hit "More Than Words". The album also featured Bettencourt's great solo on "Flight of the Wounded Bumblebee", an interpretation of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's "Flight of the Bumblebee". 

Extreme followed that album with III Sides to Every Story, for which Nuno composed and arranged the brass and string sections and the full orchestra. In 1993, Bettencourt co-wrote and produced "Where Are You Going" for use in the SuperMarioBros. movie. He also played for Robert Palmer on the album Honey. In 1995, Extreme released the album Waiting for the Punchline but when Bettencourt wanted to pursue a solo career, the group broke up.

Nuno's first solo release in 1997 was the culmination of a five-year effort. Entitled Schizophonic, it was critically well-received but did not sell. In 1997, Nuno formed the band Mourning Widows which released an album in Japan. The follow-up, Furnished Souls for Rent, developed a strong following in Japan and Bettencourt's home region of New England.

In 2002, Bettencourt formed Population 1 and released a self-titled album in Japan and Korea. The album featured Nuno performing all instruments on most tracks. He assembled a group of musicians to back him in live performances. Population 1 released Sessions from Room Four in 2004. Due to legal issues, the band was renamed Near Death Experience and then DramaGods. 
DramaGods released an album available as an import through Japan in December, 2005.  DramaGods toured in Japan and appeared at the Udo Music Festival in July, 2006 shortly after a three-date reunion with Extreme in New England.

Bettencourt briefly played in the Satellite Party with vocalist Perry Farrell of Jane's Addiction but left in July, 2007 after disagreements about the group's live show. Prior to his departure, Nuno helped produce the group's debut album Ultra Payloaded and performed with the group along with Pearl Jam and Incubus in Nijmegen, The Netherlands and in a few other shows.

Bettencourt has teamed with former Journey lead singer Steve Perry, has written for the group Tantric, wrote and played for wife Suze DeMarchi's group Baby Animals and has worked with BB Mak and Toni Braxton. Nuno also played guitar for Rihanna on several television shows and was her lead guitarist for the Last Girl on Earth and Loud tours.

In 2007, Extreme reformed and released the album Saudades de Rock and went on a subsequent tour. 

Bettencourt's guitar-playing features arpeggios that are articulated via string-skipping tapping. He has an innate sense of rhythm, often playing loosely and executing fast triplet picking licks and blurring bar lines that give his playing a unique sound.

In 1990, Washburn Guitars released the N4 Nuno Bettencourt Signature Series. The guitar features a small reverse headstock super-strat with the unique Stephen's Extended Cutaway neck joint for easy access to the higher frets. Bill Lawrence and Seymour Duncan pickups and a Floyd Rose tremolo are included. Bettencourt has also endorsed several acoustic Washburn's. 

Bettencourt has the speed of a shredder but because of his attention to Queen's Brian May, also has a sense of melody.  That combination has propelled him to The #62 spot in The Top 100 Guitarists of the Rock Era*.

Great First Singles: "A Horse With No Name" by America

Being a rock star or having a hit single is much tougher than it sounds on the radio.  You have to begin playing an instrument at a very early age, practice extremely hard, have a mentor or someone that truly believes in you, and have songwriting talent.  For just being good on the guitar, piano or drums isn't good enough--songwriting is the key to transporting you from being a good musician to getting people to listen to you.

There are at least 100 new songs each week that are competing for radio airplay, and those are just the top ones that are released to radio stations.  Many times an artist will release several songs with no luck.  Once in a while, an artist breaks through into the public consciousness with their first single release.  

This is the case with this group, which hit #1 with their first single.  It went on to become one of The Top 100 Songs of the Rock Era*.
"A Horse With No Name"

This Date in Rock Music History: March 10

1956:  The incredible Platters spent an 11th week at #1 on the R&B chart with their classic "The Great Pretender".
1958:  Most would not know this artist until a year later, but on this date, Brook Benton first appeared on the chart with his debut single "A Million Years From Nowhere".

1961:  Songwriter Jeff Barry signed a contract with Trinity Music.  With wife Ellie Greenwich, Barry became one of The Top Songwriters of the Rock Era*, with songs like "Be My Baby" for the Ronettes, "Chapel Of Love" by the Dixie Cups and "River Deep, Mountain High".
1962:  Shelley Fabares moved from #81 to 50 on this date with "Johnny Angel".
1962:  Bruce Channel had himself a #1 song with "Hey!  Baby".

1964: Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel recorded the acoustic "The Sounds Of Silence" at Columbia Records Studios in New York City. Later, the record company would add electric guitar, bass and drums, without the knowledge of either performer, and release the song as a single.
1966: The Beach Boys began recording "God Only Knows" at United Western Recorders Studio in Hollywood, California.  (Note:  there are all kinds of dates thrown around the Internet about the recording of this great love song by Brian Wilson, with some websites claiming the Beach Boys recorded the song on March 6, others on March 9, others on March 10, and still others April 11.  Keith Badman and Tony Bacon, in their book 'The Beach Boys:  The Definitive Diary of America's Greatest Band, on Stage and in the Studio', states that the group recorded a first instrumental track on March 8, a second on March 9, and the vocal recording was made on March 10.  Books are usually outstanding sources, since an editor and publisher have to also sign off on the facts presented within.  We believe Badman and Bacon are wrong in this instance.  The famous group of backing musicians known as The Wrecking Crew gathered for 20 takes on March 10, with vocals recorded on April 11, according to the book 'Fifty Sides of the Beach Boys:  The Songs That Tell Their Story' by Matt Dillon.  This date is confirmed by Kent Hartman, in his 2012 book 'The Wrecking Crew:  The Inside Story of Rock and Roll's Best-Kept Secret'.  Hartman's book lists one and only one recording session for The Wrecking Crew:  March 10.  It is inaccurate to say the Beach Boys recorded the song on any one day, but rather, they began recording on March 10, and finished April 11.)
1967:  Sonny & Cher appeared on the television show Man From U.N.C.L.E. on NBC.
1971:  Allen Klein, chosen by John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr to be the manager of the Beatles after Brian Epstein died, was barred from involvement in the group's affairs as the group resolved their remaining issues.
1973:  "Love Train" by the O'Jays was the #1 R&B hit for the fourth week.

Dr. Hook's newest landed them on the cover of one of the most inaccurate magazines in history...

1973:  Roberta Flack was untouchable at this point as "Killing Me Softly With His Song" remained at #1 for a third week.  "Dueling Banjos" by Eric Weissberg & Stevie Mandell would have to settle for second-best while Edward Bear's "Last Song" remained in the #3 position.  The Spinners grabbed #4 with "Could It Be I'm Falling In Love" while the O'Jays struck gold with "Love Train".  The rest of the Top 10:  "Also Sprach Zarathustra" from Deodado, one of The Top 100 Instrumentals of the Rock Era*, Elton John's former #1 "Crocodile Rock" was now at 7, Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show had their second Top 10 with "The Cover Of The Rolling Stone", John Denver was at #9 with "Rocky Mountain High" although it remains as one of the most underrated songs of the Rock Era, and Jermaine Jackson finished the list with "Daddy's Home".
1975: Elvis Presley began what would prove to be his final recording session at RCA studios in Hollywood, California.  (Note:  some websites incorrectly list the date as March 9.  Presley recorded from March 10-12, according to the books 'The Gospel According To Elvis' by  Kevin and Tanja Crouch and 'Elvis Presley:  A Life In Music' by Ernst Jorgensen.)
1979: James Brown played at the Grand Ole Opry.
1979:  Spirits Having Flown by the Bee Gees was #1 on the Album chart once again.  Rod Stewart's Blondes Have More Fun came in second.

1979:  Poco took over at #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart with one of The Top 100 AC Songs of the 1970's*--"Crazy Love".

1979:  After 13 weeks of release, Gloria Gaynor made the climb to the top with "I Will Survive".  Dire Straits had their
first Top 10 with "Sultans Of Swing", which edged in at #10.

1981:  Kim Carnes released her single "Bette Davis Eyes".
1981:  Jimmy Page, lead guitarist of Led Zeppelin, made his first performance since the group called it quits, joining Jeff Beck onstage at the Hammersmith Odeon in London for three encores.
1981:  Robert Plant, former lead singer of Led Zeppelin, performed with his new group the Honeydrippers in an unannounced concert at Keele University in Keele, Staffordshire, England.  (Note:  some websites claim the group debuted on this night.  In fact, they had played the night before at the Stourbridge Wine Bar in Stourbridge, West Midlands, England, according to the book 'The Tight But Loose Files' by Dave Lewis.)
1984:  Ian Gillan, songwriter and lead singer, left Black Sabbath.
1984:  Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac fame had a solo #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart with "Got A Hold On Me".

                                   Annie and Dave were back in the Top 10...

1984:  "Jump" by Van Halen held on to #1 for a third week with Cyndi Lauper moving up to challenge with "Girls Just Want To Have Fun".  Nena's "99 Luftballons" lost altitude while Michael Jackson peaked at #4 with "Thriller" and another song MJ helped on--"Somebody's Watching Me" by Rockwell, moved to #5.  The rest of the Top 10:  the posthumous release from John Lennon--"Nobody Told Me", Huey Lewis & the News were up strong with "I Want A New Drug", the Eurythmics were back in the Top 10 for the second time with "Here Comes The Rain Again", Kenny Loggins moved from 16 to 9 with "Footloose" and former #1 "Karma Chameleon" turned and headed down.

1984:  Thriller by Michael Jackson broke the Rock Era record of 31 weeks at #1 on the Album chart, previously held by the stellar Rumours from Fleetwood Mac.  And Michael wasn't done yet.
1988: Andy Gibb died from myocarditis (inflammation of the heart) at the age of 30 in Oxford, England, following a long battle with cocaine addiction, which of course weakens the heart.

1990:  "Escapade" by Janet Jackson took over at #1 on the R&B chart.

                                             "What It Takes" from Aerosmith...

1990:  Forever Your Girl by Paula Abdul remained the #1 album for the sixth week with Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814 once again unable to top it.  ...But Seriously from Phil Collins was third while the B-52's were up to #4 with Cosmic Thing.  The rest of the Top 10:  Girl You Know It's True not by Milli Vanilli, Billy Joel was at 6 with his latest--Storm Front, Tom Petty was still strong after 44 weeks with Full Moon Fever, Aerosmith's Pump was #8, the excellent Soul Provider from Michael Bolton and Linda Ronstadt scored another Top 10 album with Cry Like a Rainstorm - Howl Like the Wind.

1990:  Taylor Dayne scored her sixth straight Top 10 Out of the Gate* with "Love Will Lead You Back".

1992: Prince received a Lifetime Achievement award at the Soul Train Awards.

1997:  LaVern Baker ("I Cried A Tear" from 1958) died from cardiovascular disease at age 67.
1998:  Eric Clapton released his first studio album (Pilgrim) in nine years.
2003:  Johnny Cash was admitted to a hospital in Nashville, Tennessee for pneumonia.
2003:  The Police, AC/DC and two other acts, the Righteous Brothers and Elvis Costello, were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.  The Police reunited onstage and performed "Roxanne" and "Message In A Bottle".

2004:  George Michael announced he was retiring from the music business following his album Patience.  He would only release songs on the Internet to raise money for charity.  Now there's a guy who managed his money.
2005:   Danny Joe Brown, original lead singer of Molly Hatchet ("Flirtin' With Disaster") died from renal failure due to diabetes at age 53.  (Note:  some websites report that he died on March 9, but he died on March 10, according to the newspaper 'The Sun-Sentinel' and 'Billboard'.)
2005:  In today's edition of Dangerous Inmates Run Rap Music, Young Jeezy (real name Jay Jenkins) was arrested in South Beach, Florida for carrying a concealed firearm without a permit.
2008:  The state of Washington celebrated the induction of the Ventures into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame by declaring today "Ventures Day".

Born This Day:
1940:  Dean Torrence of Jan & Dean was born in Los Angeles, California.

1947:  Tom Scholz, co-founder, songwriter, guitarist and keyboardist of Boston, was born in Toledo, Ohio.
1952:  Beverly Bremers ("Don't Say You Don't Remember" from 1971) was born in Chicago, Illinois.

1963:  Jeff Ament, bassist of Pearl Jam, was born in Havre, Montana.  (Note:  ' and other websites claim Ament was born in Big Sandy, Montana.  The truth is that Ament was born in Havre, then moved to Big Sandy, according to the newspaper 'The Great Falls Tribune'.)
1964:  Neneh Cherry was born in Stockholm, Sweden.
1966:  Edie Brickell of Edie Brickell & the New Bohemians ("What I Am") and wife of Paul Simon, was born in Dallas, Texas.  (Note:  some websites naively report her birthplace as Oak Cliff, Texas, or Oak Cliff, Dallas, Texas.  Oak Cliff is a district of Dallas, not a city or town.  Birthplaces in the U.S. are never listed as anything other than a city and state.  Oak Cliff was once a town, but it was incorporated by the city of Dallas in 1903, long before Edie was born.)
1966:  Dave Krusen, original drummer of Pearl Jam, was born in Tacoma, Washington.
1971:  Timothy Z. Mosley (Timbaland) who has produced for the Pussycat Dolls, Justin Timberlake, Jay-Z, Nelly Furtado, Missy Elliott and others, was born in Norfolk, Virginia.
1973:  John Charles LeCompt, guitarist of Evanescence, was born in Little Rock, Arkansas.
1977:  Robin Thicke was born in Los Angeles.

1983:  Carrie Underwood was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma.

Friday, March 9, 2012

The #63 Guitarist of the Rock Era: Dave Murray

One of three guitarists in the British band Iron Maiden, the #63 Guitarist is technically sound, melodic and fast:
#63:  Dave Murray, Iron Maiden
38 years as an active guitarist
(Some of his best solos)
David Michael Murray was born December 23, 1956. He became interested in rock music at the age of 15 when he heard "Voodoo Chile" by Jimi Hendrix on the radio.  Hendrix made such an impression on Dave that he would adapt Hendrix's legato style of playing.  The key to this is playing all of the notes even and in a constant stream, with no notes jumping out in volume.  Dave began hanging around record stores and buying several Hendrix and blues albums and decided to get a guitar. Murray was a fixture at lead guitarist for Iron Maiden. 

At the age of 16, Murray formed the band Stone Free, which also included lead singer Adrian Smith. Murray was briefly with the groups Electric Gas and the Secret before auditioning for Iron Maiden in 1976. He won the job, but was fired following an argument with then-vocalist Dennis Wilcock. Thus, Murray teamed again with Adrian Smith in Smith's group Urchin until he was asked to rejoin Iron Maiden after Wilcock left.
Dave has great speed and likes to focus on the higher notes of the guitar in his solos.  As mentioned earlier, he plays legatos ("legato" means "smoothly"), tremeloes, hammer-ons and pull-offs.  He is smooth, melodic and technically brilliant and frequently uses the neck pickup.  This gives him control and the freedom to express himself through his music 

Murray has used Fender Stratocaster guitars almost exclusively and has always used and endorsed Marshall amplifiers.  He used a black Stratocaster from 1976-1990 that was previously owned by Paul Kossoff, the late guitarist of Free.  The neck is from a 1957 Stratocaster while the body is from a '63.  Fender used the guitar to manufacture an Artist Signature model in 2009 and Murray now keeps the original at home.  Dave's guitar of choice these days is a Fender Californian Series Stratocaster with three Seymour Duncan Hot Rails pickups and a Floyd Rose tremolo system.  Occasionally, Murray will use Dean, Gibon, Ibanez, ESP and Jackson guitars.  He prefers Gibson Hummingbird acoustics.
His amplifier system consists of two Marshall 1960B Straight Cabinets, four 300-Watt Cabinets loaded with 12 12" Celestion G12T 75 Watt Speakers, three Marshall JCM 2000 DSL  tube heads and a Marshall 9200 Rack Power Amp.

Murray uses a Peterson VSam Virtual Strobe Tuner, a Shure U4D UHF Wireless Unit, a Dunlop CryBaby Wah, a Mike Hill Custom Uni-Vibe/Tube Screamer a Rocktron All-Access Foot Controller, a TC Electronics GForce Effect Unit, a Fulltone Dega'Vibe and a Fulltone Clyde Standard Wah Pedal.

Dave has had a great opportunity to showcase his talent in Iron Maiden.  He ranks #63 for the Rock Era*...

This Date in Rock Music History: March 9

1959:   "It's Just A Matter Of Time" by Brook Benton climbed to #1 on the R&B chart.
1960:   Since Elvis Presley had returned from service in the United States Army, the movie Jailhouse Rock was re-released.  (Note:  some websites state that the film was re-released to coincide with Presley's discharge.  As explained earlier on 'Inside The Rock Era', (see March 5 on Calendar*), Presley left active service on March 5, but he was not officially discharged from the Army Reserve until 1964.) 

1959:   "Venus" by Frankie Avalon made a nice 7-1 leap to land at #1.

1961:  The Supremes released their first single "I Want A Guy".  (Note:  there is much confusion as to the date of this release, with some websites saying March 3, and others in April.  There aren't a lot of credible sources on this one, but 
Mark Ribowsky, in his book 'The Supremes:  A Saga of Motown Dreams, Success, and Betrayal", says the single was released March 9.)
1963:  The Beatles opened for Tommy Roe and Chris Montez at the East Ham Granada in London. By the end of the tour, it would be the Beatles that were the featured attraction.
1963:  "Rhythm Of The Rain" by the Cascades continued to be the song to beat on the Easy Listening chart.
1964:  The Beatles concluded the filming of train scenes (they traveled a total of 2,500 miles in six days) for the upcoming movie A Hard Day's Night.

1968:  Bob Dylan
 had the top album in the U.K. with John Wesley Harding.
1968:  "Love Is Blue" by Paul Mauriat was the #1 song on the Adult chart for the fourth consecutive week.
1968:   A fifth week at #1 on the Popular chart was awarded to Paul Mauriat's "Love Is Blue", one of The Top 100 Songs of the Rock Era* and The #1 Instrumental of the Rock Era*.

1970:  Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young released the single "Woodstock".

1970:  The Ides of March released the single "Vehicle".

1970:  After changing their name from Earth, Black Sabbath made their live debut at the Roundhouse in London.
1972:   Barbra Streisand, Carole King and James Taylor performed at a benefit concert at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California for Democratic presidential contender George McGovern.

                          Elton John's classic "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding"...

1974:  Bob Dylan put together a fourth week at #1 on the Album chart with Planet Waves. Court and Spark was second for Joni Mitchell while Carly Simon's Hotcakes moved to #3. John Denver's Greatest Hits was next while one of The Top Album Artists of the Rock Era*--Barbra Streisand moved from 16-5 with her latest The Way We Were. The rest of the Top 10: Yes with Tales From Topographic Oceans, the late Jim Croce was next with You Don't Mess Around with Jim after 55 weeks of release, Wings had #8--Band on the Run, Mike Oldfield found the Top 10 with Tubular Bells and Elton John was at #10 with Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.
1974: "Seasons In The Sun" by Terry Jacks took over at #1 on the Adult chart.

1974:  Two new songs graced the Top 10: the husband and wife team of Carly Simon & James Taylor with "Mockingbird" and John Denver's new one--Sunshine On My Shoulders".
1976:  Keith Moon, drummer of the Who, collapsed onstage at the beginning of a concert in the Boston Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.  This was the opening show of a Who tour of North America, and Moon had no excuse not to be physically ready.
1977:  The Jacksons' television show aired for the final time on CBS.
1979:  The Heroes of Rock & Roll, featuring clips of Elvis Presley, the Beatles and Buddy Holly, among others, was shown on ABC-TV.

1981:  James Taylor and J.D. Souther released the single "Her Town Too".
1981:  Robert Plant and his new band the Honeydrippers debuted at the Stourbridge Wine Bar in Stourbridge, West Midlands, England. 
1985:  Dead or Alive owned the #1 song in the U.K. with "You Spin Me 'Round (Like A Record)".
1985:  "Missing You", Diana Ross's tribute to the late Marvin Gaye, was #1 on the R&B chart for a third week.

1985:   REO Speedwagon earned a second career #1 with "Can't Fight This Feeling", bumping off Wham's "Careless Whisper", which had been there for three weeks. Glenn Frey was up to #3 with "The Heat Is On", swapping spots with "California Girls" by David Lee Roth.  Madonna moved from 18-5 with "Material Girl' in just its fifth week while the other new Top 10 songs were Julian Lennon's "Too Late For Goodbyes" and "Misled" by Kool and the Gang.
1985:   For the fifth week, "Careless Whisper" by Wham! topped the Adult Contemporary chart.

1985:  Robert "Bumps" Blackwell, producer for Little Richard ("Tutti Frutti"),  Sam Cooke ("You Send Me") and Bob Dylan (the album Shot of Love in 1981), died of pneumonia in Hacienda Heights, California.  (Note:  some websites claim Blackwell died on January 27, but the correct date is March 9, as reported in 'The Los Angeles Times'.)
1987:  John Lennon & Paul McCartney, Carole King & Gerry Goffin, Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil and Sam Cooke were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in New York City.

1987:  U2 released the album The Joshua Tree.

1987:  U2 released the single "With Or Without You".
1991:  The Clash rose to #1 in the U.K. with their song that they first released in 1982--"Should I Stay Or Should I Go". The song picked up new popularity due to a television advertisement.
1991:  Whitney Houston continued to own the #1 song on the R&B chart with "All The Man That I Need".

1991:  Whitney Houston topped the AC chart for a fourth week with "All The Man That I Need".
1991:   Mariah Carey made it three straight #1's on the Popular chart to begin her career with "Someday".

1993:  Michael Jackson was named Humanitarian of the Year at the Soul Train Music Awards.

1996:  Mariah Carey released the single "Always Be My Baby".

One Sweet Day (With Boyz II Men) by Mariah Carey on Grooveshark
1996:  A historic day in the Rock Era, as "One Sweet Day" by Mariah Carey & Boyz II Men broke the record for weeks at #1 with 15. That broke the tie with "I'll Make Love To You" by Boyz II Men and "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston.  "One Sweet Day" would go on to score another week at #1 and is still the all-time leader with 16 weeks at the top. 
1997:  The self-titled Spice Girls album returned to #1 in the U.K.
1999:  Mike Anthony, guitarist who worked with the 5th Dimension and Harry Nilsson, died of a heart attack at age 68.
2000:  In today's episode of Dangerous Inmates Run Rap Music, Da Brat (real name is the rather plain Shawntae Harris) was arrested for aggravated battery for pistol-whipping a woman at a club.
2000:   Ivo Robic ("Morgen" from 1959) died in Rijeka, Croatia at age 77.
2001:  Drug charges were dropped against Leif Garrett in Los Angeles County Superior Court when Garrett proved he had successfully completed a rehabilitation program. Good for Leif and we wish him well.
2002:  Stevie Wonder and Donny Osmond were among the performers at the opening ceremonies of the Paralympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.
2004:  The newspaper The Miami Herald in Florida reported that the New York City Police Department was advising other cities on how to spy on rap stars and their ilk. The story recounted that the NYPD kept a file on Jay-Z, 50 Cent and Eminem and monitored their gang affiliations. That's the way to stop crime, and as Inside the Rock Era has chronicled, nearly all rap stars are criminals.
2004:   But they're not the only criminals. On this date, Jack White of the White Stripes pleaded guilty to assault and battery in Detroit, Michigan.

2004:  Rust Epique, guitarist of Crazy Town ("Butterfly" from 1999), died of heart failure from a heart attack in Las Vegas, Nevada at the age of 35.  (Note:  one website reports his death as being on March 15, while 'Rolling Stone' says he died "Monday night", which would have been March 8, 2004, and most websites say March 9.  Although there are no credible sources for any of the three dates, our best research indicates that Epique died March 9.)
2007:   Brad Delp, lead singer of Boston, committed suicide in Atkinson, New Hampshire.
2010:   Lloyd Price Day was declared in New Orleans and in the state of Louisiana.

Born This Day:
1925:   Billy Ford of Billy & Lillie ("La Dee Dah" from 1958) was born in Bloomfield, New Jersey; died in 1985.
1932:   Keely Smith, who had four hits with husband Louis Prima, including their version of "That Old Black Magic" in 1958, was born in Norfolk, Virginia.

1933:  Lloyd Price was born in Kenner, Louisiana.
1940:  John Cale, singer-songwriter of Velvet Underground and later a producer who has worked with Patti Smith and Squeeze, among others, was born in Garnet, Wales.


1942:   Mark Lindsay, lead singer of Paul Revere & the Raiders and a solo star, was born in Eugene, Oregon, but of course launched his career from Boise, Idaho.
1944:  Gary Leeds of the Walker Brothers ("The Sun Ain't Gonna' Shine Anymore") was born in Glendale, California.
1944:  Trevor Burton (real name Trevor Ireson), founding member and guitarist of the Move, was born in Aston, Birmingham, England.

1945:  Robin Trower, original guitarist of Procol Harum, was born in Catford, London.

1948:  Jeffrey Osborne, lead singer of L.T.D. and a solo star, was born in Providence, Rhode Island.


1948:  Chris Thompson, guitarist and vocalist of Manfred Mann and a solo artist, was born in Ashford, Kent, England.
1948:  Jimmie Fadden of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, was born in Long Beach, California.
1951:  Frank Rodriguez, organist of ? and the Mysterians, was born in Crystal City, Texas.


1958:   Martin Fry of ABC was born in Stockport, Cheshire, England.  (Note:  some websites incorrectly report that Fry was born in Manchester, England--he was born in Stockport, Cheshire, England, according to ABC's official website as well as the 'BBC'.)
1968:  Robert Sledge, bassist of Ben Folds Five
1980:   Chingy (real name Howard Bailey, Jr.) was born in St. Louis, Missouri.
1987:  Bow Wow (real name is Shad Moss) was born in Columbus, Ohio, the home of Ohio State University. Why doesn't that surprise me?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The #64 Guitarist of the Rock Era: Allen Holdsworth

The #64 Guitarist is not only an innovator in his technique but also in helping to design the tools of his trade:
#64:  Allen Holdsworth
44 years as an active guitarist
Holdsworth was born in Bradford, England.  Holdsworth is highly-regarded by fans and contemporaries as one of the great innovators of the 20th century.  He continues to push the envelope, exploring the electric guitar's range of tonal and textural possibilities.  Holdsworth produces his own recordings and has had complete creative license since the mid-80's.  He has uniquely appealed to both jazz and rock audiences.  Besides his great ability in pressing the limits of his instrument, Alan has also devoted time to developing guitar technology.  He has helped design new baritone variations of the guitar, his own custom six-string designs, the invention of electronic components for the studio and developing guitar-based synthesizer controllers.

Holdsworth learned aspects of musical theory by his father, himself an accomplished amateur musician.  The sounds of Django Reinhardt, Jimmy Rainey, Charlie Christian, Joe Pass , Eric Clapton, and John Coltrane were among this English musician's early inspirations when he began to work professionally as a musician in his early twenties. Allen began working on the dance-club circuit in England, meeting fellow musicians and honing his sound.  Ray Warleigh, one of England's best jazz tenor saxophonists, recognized Holdsworth's tremendous potential and brought him along to play in jazz sets in the early 1970's, including sessions with Ray at Ronnie Scotts' club in London.
Allen gained exposure when he joined drummer John Hiseman's much-celebrated "progressive" rock band Tempest.  The group didn't last long but by now most musicians knew of Allen.  By 1975, he had developed a reputation as one of England's best guitarists in the group Soft Machine.  The album Bundles is especially worth checking out.  While in Soft Machine, the late jazz drummer Tony Williams discovered Allen and recruited him to play on one of the great fusion releases of the mid-70's, Believe It

For the next three years, Holdsworth played on many of the great jazz-fusion and instrumental rock recordings by Jean Luc Ponty (Enigmatic Ocean), Gong (Gazeuse!) and drummer Bill Bruford (Feels Good To Me and One of A Kind).  Late in the decade, Bruford, founding member of Yes who was then with King Crimson, recruited Holdsworth to participate in a new project featuring the rhythm section of King Crimson and the young violinist/keyboardist Eddie Jobson.  The resulting album called U.K. was considered the last great milestone of 70's progressive rock.  Holdsworth created unconventional chords, searing guitar solos and passionate melodic riffs.  Guitar World in 1996 praised Holdsworth's contribution to U.K. as the factor in naming it one of the Top 10 rock guitar albums of all-time.

As great an experience as that was, in 1978, Holdsworth reluctantly parted company with Bruford's band, seeking to rediscover the energy and dynamics that had been a part of his extended ensemble improvisations work with Tony Williams.  Allen formed his own trio with drummer Gary Husband and bassist Paul Carmichael in the IOU band.  Friend Eddie Van Halen was key to getting IOU a recording contract with Van Halen's label, Warner Brothers.  Executive producer Ted Templeman helped the group release Road Games in 1984, which was nominated for a Grammy Award.  The album featured vocals from Jack Bruce, formerly with Cream.  

However, a dispute over creative control led to the group leaving Warner Brothers and signing with Enigma Records in 1985.  Respected Los Angeles session bassist Jimmy Johnson joined the group after Carmichael and Jeff Berlin had contributed briefly.  The group then released the highly successful Metal Fatigue.  Holdsworth continued his core band with Johnson and Wackerman and the 1986 album Atavachron featured appearances by keyboardists Alan Pasqua and Billy Childs and great contributions from drummers Tony Williams and Husband.  Husband went on to success with Level 42 and he asked Holdsworth to play on the group's 1993 album Guaranteed.

The IOU album Sand in 1988 marked the beginning of Holdsworth's exploration of the Synthaxe, a guitar-like synth-controller.  Holdsworth won the Guitar Player Magazine poll as Best Guitar Synthesist for several years afterward.  In 1990, Holdsworth did an album called Secrets with Vinnie Collaiuta, who later joined Sting's band and had previously worked with Frank Zappa.  The album featured Allen's rich harmonic playing in a style that continued to push the boundaries of rock, fusion and jazz.

In the early 1990's, Holdsworth appeared in a jazz supergroup and at festivals with other great jazz artists including Stanley Clark, Billy Cobham and Michael and Randy Brecker.  The albums Wardenclyffe Tower in 1992 and Hard Hat Area in 1994 expanded the boundaries of Holdsworth's solo work and more closely resembled the group's live sound.  

Holdsworth recorded some of his favorite, lesser-known jazz standards along with originals from pianist Gordon Beck on Allen's next album None Too Soon in 1996.  The album is different from most Holdsworth work and includes a riveting performance of Irving Berlin's "How Deep Is the Ocean" and a great twist on the Beatles song "Norwegian Wood".

The Sixteen Men of Tain, released in 2000, marked Allen's first work with bassist Dave Carpenter and drummer Gary Novak.  

Holdsworth has several electric guitar designs produced by Carvin.  Holdsworth was recently inducted into the Guitar Player Magazine Hall of Fame.

Never satisfied and always exploring new musical avenues, Allen Holdsworth has proven to be one of the great innovators of the guitar.  He ranks as The #64 Guitarist of the Rock Era*.

Hits List: Sly & the Family Stone

This R&B group enjoyed great success in the late 60's and early 1970's.  Here is the complete Hits List for Sly & the Family Stone:

1967:  "Underdog"
           "Dance to the Music" (#8, #9 R&B, #7 U.K.)
1968:  "Dance A La Musique"
           "Life" (#93, #37 U.K.)

1969:  "Everyday People" (#1, #1 R&B, #36 U.K.)
           "Sing a Simple Song" (#89, #28 R&B)
           "Stand!" (#22, #14 R&B"
           "I Want to Take You Higher" (#60, #24 R&B)
           "Hot Fun in the Summertime" (#2, #3 R&B)
           "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin") (#1, #1 R&B)
1970:  "I Want to Take You Higher" (#38)
1971:  "Family Affair" (#1, #1 R&B, #15 U.K.)

1972:  "Runnin' Away" (#23, #15 R&B, #17 U.K.
           "(You Caught Me) Smilin'" (#42, #21 R&B)
           "I Ain't Got Nobody"
1973:  "If You Want Me to Stay" (#12, #3 R&B)
           "Frisky" (#79, #28 R&B)
           "If It Were Left Up to Me" (#57 R&B)
1974:  "Time for Livin'" (#32, #10 R&B)
           "Loose Booty" (#84, #22 R&B)
1975:  "I Get High on You" (#52, #3 R&B)
           "Le Lo Li" (#75 R&B)
1976:  "Crossword Puzzle"
           "Blessing in Disguise"
           "Family Again" (#85 R&B)
1979:  "Remember Who You Are" (#38 R&B)
1980:  "Who's to Say"
1983:  "High Y'all"

This Date in Rock Music History: March 8

1961:  That hard-working group the Beatles did three shows today, their usual lunchtime performance at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, England and concerts at the Aintree Institute and Hambleton Hall in Liverpool.
1962:  The Beatles made their debut on the BBC in Great Britain on Teenager's Turn (recorded the night before), performing "Dream Baby", "Maybelline" and "Please Mr. Postman".

1964:  The Dave Clark 5 made their debut appearance by performing "Glad All Over"on The Ed Sullvan Show.
1966:  Bob Dylan recorded "Just Like A Woman" for his upcoming Blonde On Blonde album at Columbia Recording Studios in Nashville, Tennessee.
1966:  Lulu and the Hollies opened a tour in Warsaw, Poland.

1968:  The Fillmore East opened at Second Avenue and Sixth Street in New York City.
1968:  The Elvis Presley movie Stay Away Joe opened in theaters.
1969:  The Small Faces broke up when lead singer Steve Marriott left the group.  The group played their final show at the Springfield Theatre in Jersey on the Channel Islands.  Remaining members Ronnie Lane, Ian McLagan and Kenny Jones recruited guitarist Ronnie Wood and lead singer Rod Stewart and formed the group the Faces.
1969:  James Brown had his 8th #1 on the R&B chart--"Give It Up Or Turnit A Loose".  Yeah.

1969:  Glen Campbell moved from #87 to #47 with "Galveston".

1969:  Sly & the Family Stone held off all challengers for a fourth week at #1 with one of The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*--"Everyday People".  CCR jumped to their favorite spot of #2 with "Proud Mary".  The Foundations were sturdy at #3 with "Build Me Up Buttercup" while Tommy Roe was a man on the move (10-4) with "Dizzy".  The rest of the Top 10:  Tommy James & the Shondells with their smash "Crimson And Clover", Jay & the Americans were at #6 with "This Magic Moment" Dionne Warwick reached the Top 10 for the sixth time with "This Girl's In Love With You", Smokey Robinson & the Miracles with "Baby, Baby Don't Cry", the Doors dropped with "Touch Me" and 1910 Fruitgum Company moved to #10 with "Indian Giver".

1970:  Diana Ross was in concert for the first time as a solo artist with an eleven-day engagement at Monticello's in Framingham, Massachusetts.
1973:  Ron Mckernan, keyboardist of the Grateful Dead, died at age 27 from liver failure brought on by, you guessed it, alcohol poisoning.
1974:  John Denver recorded "Annie's Song" and "Thank God I'm A Country Boy".
1974:  Bad Company appeared live for the first time at the Newcastle City Hall in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England.
1975:  Carole King was a guest star on The Mary Tyler Moore show on CBS-TV.
1975:  B.T. Express had the top R&B song, one of The Top 100 Instrumentals of the Rock Era*--"Express".
1975:  "Have You Never Been Mellow" by Olivia Newton-John was the new #1 on the Adult chart.

                       The Doobie Brothers contributed this gem to a great time in music...

1975:  Olivia Newton-John had hit #1 one year before with "I Honestly Love You".  Now, she had her second #1 as "Have You Never Been Mellow" rose to the top.  The Doobie Brothers were right behind with "Black Water" with Frankie Valli's solo hit "My Eyes Adored You" in third.  Labelle was creating excitement with "Lady Marmalade" and America edged up with "Lonely People".  The rest of the Top 10:  Styx and their breakthrough hit "Lady", which rose from 10-6, the Eagles fell from #1 with "Best Of My Love", Minnie Riperton jumped from 22 to 8 with "Lovin' You", the Average White Band with "Pick Up The Pieces" and ELO scored their first career Top 10 with "Can't Get It Out Of My Head".

1976:  Silver Convention released the single "Get Up And Boogie".
1979:  The John Denver and the Ladies (Tina Turner and Cheryl Ladd) television special was broadcast on ABC-TV.  (Note:  you will find several reported dates of the broadcast (February 28, November 25, and November 29).  The correct date is March 8, according to the books 'Encyclopedia of Television Series, Pilots and Specials' and 'Television Specials:  5,336 Entertainment Programs, 1936-2012', both by Vincent Terrace, as well as Cheryl Ladd's official website.)
1980:  Chuck Mangione returned to #1 for a third week on the Adult Contemporary chart with his theme to the Winter Olympics--"Give It All You Got".
1980:  You didn't have to be a genius to know where this song was going--"Call Me" by Blondie moved from 61 to 28 on this date.

         The Spinners with their remake of the Four Seasons' hit...

1980:   Queen lasted a third week at #1 with "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", holding off Teri DeSario and K.C.'s "Yes, I'm Ready".  Dan Fogelberg's "Longer" moved to third while Andy Gibb had his sixth consecutive Top 10 with "Desire", second only to Gary Lewis & the Playboys and Lovin' Spoonful (7 straight Top 10's) at that time in the Rock Era for most Top 10's Out of the Gate*.  The rest of the Top 10:  Pink Floyd moved from 10-6 with "Another Brick In The Wall, Pt. 2", the Captain & Tennille with "Do That To Me One More Time", the Spinners' medley "Working My Way Back To You/Forgive Me, Girl" edged up, Rupert Holmes moved from 16 to 9 with "Him" and Shalamar was good "The Second Time Around".

                                              "In the Flesh" from 'The Wall".

1980:  Pink Floyd's The Wall was #1 on the Album chart for the eighth week.  Damn the Torpedoes by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers was a solid #2 with Dan Fogelberg's excellent Phoenix album next.  Rush was making Permanent Waves at #4 while the new Michael Jackson album--Off the Wall was still strong after 28 weeks.  The rest of the Top 10:  Donna Summer's compilation (On the Radio-Greatest Hits-Volumes I & II), the Eagles won out in The Long Run, the Whispers with their self-titled debut, Kenny from Kenny Rogers and Chuck Mangione moved from 29 to 10 with Fun and Games.
1986:  Diana Ross had the #1 song in the U.K. with "Chain Reaction", a song written for her by the Bee Gees.
1986:  For the third week, Starship controlled the AC chart with "Sara".
1986:  "How Will I Know" by Whitney Houston was the new #1 on the R&B chart.

                                                     "All At Once" from Whitney...

1986:  After 50 weeks, Whitney Houston's debut album incredibly returned to #1.  It had previously peaked at #2 on October 26.  Just a sign of things to come.  Promise by Sade was still second with former #1 Welcome to the Real World by Mr. Mister falling this week.  Barbra Streisand's highly successful The Broadway Album was behind that trio with the self-titled Heart leading that group's comeback.  The rest of the Top 10:  Scarecrow from John Cougar Mellencamp, Starship was back with Knee Deep in the Hoopla, Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits was #8 after 40 weeks, Ozzy Osbourne and The Ultimate Sin while Simple Minds was stuck at #10 with Once Upon a Time.
1997:  The Spice Girls told us what we really, really want--"Wannabe" at #1 for the third week.  
2003:  Mark Knopfler, lead singer and lead guitarist of Dire Straits, suffered a broken collarbone, a broken shoulder blade, and six broken ribs when his motorcycle collided with a car in mid-morning traffic.  Not the best place to be riding a motorcycle.
2003:  Singer Adam Faith, who produced Roger Daltrey's first solo effort, died of a heart attack in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England at the age of 62.  (Note:  some websites report that Faith died on March 7.  He died on March 8, according to the newspaper 'The Guardian'.)
2004:  Bryan McFadden quit Westlife, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family.
2008:  Bjork exposed China for what they are when the country set stricter rules on performance after the singer shouted "Tibet, Tibet" at a concert in Shanghai.

2009:  A blue plaque was unveiled at the Marquee Club in Soho, London to signify the club's historic importance.  The Marquee was not only a great concert spot, but also the site where the Who played 29 times.  The Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds are among the other stars that began careers at the Marquee.
2009:  U2's album No Line on the Horizon was #1 in the U.K.
2010:   In today's edition of Dangerous Inmates Run Rap Music, Lil' Wayne was sentenced to a year in prison after being arrested for gun possession and began serving time behind bars.
2011:  Mike Starr, bassist and singer with Alice in Chains, died at the age of 44 from "an overdose of prescription drugs" in Salt Lake City, Utah.
2016:  Sir George Martin, famed arranger and producer of the Beatles, and musician, composer, conductor, audio engineer and head of Parlophone Records, died in his sleep March 8, 2016 in Coleshill, Wiltshire, England at the age of 90.  (Note:  some websites list his place of death as the generic Wiltshire, England.  Wiltshire is a county; Martin died in the town of Coleshill.)

Born This Day:
1942:  Ralph Ellis of the Swinging Blue Jeans ("Hippy Hippy Shake" from 1964) was born in Liverpool, England.
1943:  Andrew Semple, guitarist and vocalist with the Fortunes ("Build Me Up Buttercup"), was born in Glasgow, Scotland.

1945:  Mickey Dolenz, vocalist and drummer with the Monkees, was born in Los Angeles.

1946:  Randy Meisner, guitarist and vocalist with Poco and the Eagles and a solo artist, was born in Scottsbluff, Nebraska.

1944:  Carole Bayer Sager, famous songwriter who penned songs for Frank Sinatra, Neil Diamond ("Heartlight"), Celine Dion ("The Prayer"), Phil Collins, Dionne Warwick ("That's What Friends Are For"), Carly Simon ("Nobody Does It Better"), Melissa Manchester ("Don't Cry Out Loud" and "Midnight Blue"), Christopher Cross ("Arthur's Theme"), Leo Sayer ("When I Need You"), Gene Pitney, Dolly Parton, the Mindbenders ("A Groovy Kind of Love") and many others and the wife of fellow songwriter Burt Bacharach, was born in New York City.
1947:  Mike Allsup, guitarist of Three Dog Night, was born in Oakdale, California.

1948:  Little Peggy March (who had the #1 "I Will Follow Him" at age 14 in 1963, still the youngest female to ever have a #1 song), was born in Lansdale, Pennsylvania.
1948:  Mel Galley, guitarist of Whitesnake ("Here I Go Again" from 1987), was born in Cannock, Staffordshire, England; died from cancer of the esophagus in Heath Hayes, Staffordshire, England on July 1, 2008.
1954:  Cheryl Baker of Bucks Fizz was born in Bethnal Green, London.
1957:  Clive Burr, drummer of Iron Maiden, was born in East Ham, London; died March 12, 2013 in London of complications from multiple sclerosis.

1958:  Gary Numan ("Cars" from 1980) was born in Hammersmith, London.
1960:  Richard Darbyshire, lead singer and songwriter of Living in a Box (the song "Living In A Box) and also a producer, was born in Stockport, Cheshire, England.
1964:  Peter Gill, drummer of Frankie Goes To Hollywood, was born in Liverpool, England.

1968:  Shawn Mullins ("Lullabye" from 1999) was born in Atlanta, Georgia.
1978:  Kameelah Williams, lead singer of 702, was born in Las Vegas, Nevada.
1979:  Tom Chaplin, lead vocalist and lead guitarist of Keane, was born in Hastings, East Sussex, England.  (Note:  some websites claim Tom was born in Battle, East Sussex, England.  According to the 'BBC', Chaplin was born in Hastings.