Saturday, October 15, 2016

This Date in Rock Music History: October 16

1951:  Little Richard recorded for the first time in Atlanta, Georgia, recording "Every Hour", "Goin' To Get Rich Quick", "Taxi Blues", and "Why Did You Leave Me".
1954:  Elvis Presley made his famous first radio appearance on the Louisiana Hayride.

Lineup History: Journey

One of the world's top groups didn't start out with bold ambitions, but rather they formed to serve as a backing band in the San Francisco Bay Area of the United States.

When they inauspiciously began as the Golden Gate Rhythm Section in 1973, they included two members of Santana:  Neal Schon on lead guitar and Gregg Rolie on keyboards and lead vocals.  Ross Valory played bass while George Tickner was on rhythm guitars and Prairie Prince, formerly with the Tubes, was the drummer.

The group quickly expanded its original goals to include a recording career and settled on the name Journey.  Their debut performance was on New Year's Eve at the Winterland Ballroom.

Prince soon rejoined the Tubes, replaced by Aynsley Dunbar, and the new lineup debuted at the Great American Music Hall.  By this time, the group expanded its goals to include a recording career, and they signed with Columbia Records.

Tickner left before the group recorded its second album, but neither of the first two releases sold well.  Columbia was beginning to get impatient with the group, feeling that they needed a more accomplished lead singer.  Journey hired Robert Fleischman, who toured with the group in 1977.  But that didn't work out either, and the group searched again.

This time, they hit paydirt.  In late 1977, Journey hired Steve Perry as lead singer, and that move proved to be the missing piece of the puzzle.  Beginning with the album Infinity, Journey began to take flight, selling over 45 million albums from 1978-1998 in the United States alone.

Dunbar was fired in late 1978, replaced by Steve Smith, who trained at the prestigious Berklee College of Music.  Rolie left after the live album Captured in 1980, but before he did, Gregg recommended Jonathan Cain of the Babys as his replacement.

Cain immediately made significant contributions with his outstanding keyboard work (on "Don't Stop Believin'") and songwriting ("Faithfully").  With Cain on board, Journey became a supergroup, and arguably the world's most talented band.

Prior to recording the 1986 album Raised on Radio, however, Smith and Vallory were fired for musical and professional differences.  Studio musicians Randy Jackson (later a judge on American Idol) and Larrie Londin filled in on the album and Baird replaced London on the subsequent tour.

From 1987-1995, the group went on hiatus, with Cain and Schon forming the group Bad English and Schon starting the group Hardline.

In 1995, the Journey lineup of Cain, Perry, Schon, Smith and Vallory recorded the album Trial by Fire.

Perry injured his hip in Hawai'i and problems stemming from that injury led the group to look for another lead singer.  Initially, beginning in 1998, Steve Augeri filled the role, with the group also replacing Smith with Deen Castronova, drummer with Cain and Schon in Bad English.

But Augeri had problems with his voice, and Jeff Scott Soto briefly replaced him.  In 2007, Journey hired Arnel Pineda, who has been the group's lead singer ever since.

In 2015, Castronovo was indicted for assault while the band was on tour.  Omar Hakim filled in for the remainder of the live dates and in the fall, Smith once again returned.  The lineup of Schon, Vallory, Smith, Cain and Pineda continues to perform.

Top Track*: "Legend Of A Mind" by the Moody Blues

We created the Top Tracks* feature to expose songs that fans of these artists know well, although most people in the general public may not.  

This legendary group released some of the most innovative and most diverse music of its time.  They were capable of writing and performing great love songs, yet they could also rock out.  You'll find this outstanding track on the album In Search of the Lost Chord:

Friday, October 14, 2016

This Date in Rock Music History: October 15

1955:  Fans were lucky to be at this show.  Buddy Holly opened for Elvis Presley in Lubbock, Texas.  Talent scout Eddie Crandall saw the show and afterwards, arranged for Holly to audition for Decca Records.
1955:  For the 11th week, "Maybelline" by Chuck Berry topped the R&B chart.  

Thursday, October 13, 2016

This Date in Rock Music History: October 14

1955:  Buddy Holly opened for Bill Haley & the Comets in Lubbock, Texas.  Eddie Crandell was in the audience and arranged for Holly to record his first demo.
1959:  Bobby Darin reached #1 in the U.K. with "Mack The Knife".
1964:  Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones and Shirley Ann Arnold were secretly married in Bradford, England.
1964:  The Beatles played two performances at the ABC Cinema in Ardwick, Manchester, England.

Featured Unknown/Underrated Song: Alanis Morissette with "Hand In My Pocket"

People have had their criticisms of Billboard, but the magazine's low point may have been in the mid-'90s.  Their methodology at the time failed to recognize that Alanis Morissette's album Jagged Little Pill was on the way to becoming one of The Top 10 Albums of the Rock Era*.  Despite six singles and all the great songs on the album, Billboard only ranked two songs from the album in the Top 10.  

This song, which Billboard said was popular on its "Airplay" chart, never even made the Top 100 on the Popular chart.  We call BS on that, making it one of The Top Unknown/Underrated Songs of the Rock Era*.

"Hand In My Pocket"
Alanis Morissette

Lyrics by Alanis Morissette and Music by Glen Ballard

I'm broke but I'm happy
I'm poor but I'm kind
I'm short but I'm healthy, yeah
I'm high but I'm grounded

I'm sane but I'm overwhelmed
I'm lost but I'm hopeful baby
What it all comes down to
Is that everything's gonna be fine fine fine
'cause I've got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is giving a high five

I feel drunk but I'm sober
I'm young and I'm underpaid
I'm tired but I'm working, yeah
I care but I'm restless
I'm here but I'm really gone
I'm wrong and I'm sorry baby

What it all comes down to
Is that everything's gonna be quite alright
'cause I've got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is flicking a cigarette

And what it all comes down to
Is that I haven't got it all figured out just yet
'cause I've got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is giving the peace sign

I'm free but I'm focused
I'm green but I'm wise
I'm hard but I'm friendly baby
I'm sad but I'm laughing
I'm brave but I'm chicken**
I'm sick but I'm pretty baby

And what it all boils down to
Is that no one's really got it figured out just yet
'cause I've got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is playing the piano

And what it all comes down to my friends
Is that everything's just fine fine fine
'cause I've got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is hailing a taxi cab

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

This Date in Rock Music History: October 13

1957:  Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra introduced the new product from Ford, the Ford Edsel, on an hour long television special.
1958:  Frank Sinatra had the top album with Frank Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely.
1958:  "It's All In the Game" by Tommy Edwards was the #1 song.
1962:  Don Everly collapsed while rehearsing at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London prior to the first of 22 dates of an Everly Brothers concert tour of the U.K.  He flew back to the United States for treatment and brother Phil performed solo for the entire tour.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

This Date in Rock Music History: October 12

1957:  Buddy Holly & the Crickets, the Drifters and Chuck Berry were in concert at the Mission Beach Ballroom in San Diego, California.
1962:  The Beatles opened for Little Richard with Billy J. Kramer also appearing at the Tower Ballroom in Wallasey, Merseyside, England. 
1963:  For the sixth consecutive week, "Blue Velvet" by Bobby Vinton topped the chart.
1963:  Jimmy Gilmer & the Fireballs first moved into the #1 slot on this date with "Sugar Shack".  
1964:  The 45 "I Feel Fine" by the Beatles had 750,000 advance orders in the U.K. alone.
1965:  The Beatles recorded "This Bird Has Flown", later renamed "Norwegian Wood", with George Harrison on sitar for the first time.  They also recorded "Run for Your Life" in five takes.  Both tracks were recorded at Abbey Road studios and would appear on the Rubber Soul album.

Rolling Stones To Release First Album in 11 Years

The durable Rolling Stones are set to release their new album Blue & Lonesome December 2.  The album represents the band's return to their roots, a 12-track album of blues-oriented rock which was recorded at Grove Studios in London.  The recording studio is located just a few miles away from Richmond, where the Stones began as a blues band playing pubs and clubs.

Blue & Lonesome is the group's first album since A Bigger Bang in 2005.

Monday, October 10, 2016

This Date in Rock Music History: October 11

1955:  Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and a new star by the name of Elvis Presley began an eleven-concert swing through the South with a stop in Abilene, Texas.
1960:  The audience at the Village Vanguard was introduced to a promising new singer in her stage debut.  Aretha Franklin sang at the club in New York City.
1961:  The Highwaymen had the top U.K. song with "Michael".

Sunday, October 9, 2016

This Date in Rock Music History: October 10

1959:  We all have career choices to make.  On this date, Ken Brown decided to leave the Quarrymen, leaving John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison to fend for themselves.  (Don't worry about them; they were going to be fine...)  The group had played at the popular Casbah Coffee Club in Liverpool, England in a show that Brown was unable to perform due to a heavy cold.  McCartney felt that Brown should not get a share of the performance fee since he did not perform.  Lennon and Harrison sided with McCartney and so Brown quit the group.  
1959:  Brenda Lee was hospitalized with a thyroid deficiency in Nashville, Tennessee.
1963:  The Rolling Stones, the Everly Brothers, Little Richard and Bo Diddley performed at the Gaumont in Wolverhampton, England.
1964:  The Beatles were in concert with two shows at De Montfort Hall in Leicester, England.
1964:  Brian Epstein signed a contract to manage the New Christy Minstrels, which would in the next few years include Kenny Rogers, Kim Carnes and Barry McGuire among its members.

Artists Whose First Hit Was Their Biggest: Parts 1-43

Artists Whose First Hit Was Their Biggest: Part 43

Here is the final edition of our special.  Be sure to check out all the great music in these 43 segments, which you can readily access with our checklist:

Mason Williams
"Classical Gas"

He was a comedy writer on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour from 1967-69 and later on Saturday Night Live in 1980.  The multi-talented Mason Williams also was an author and a photographer and a Folk songwriter and guitarist.  Mason rode this great instrumental to #2 in 1968, but never achieved a Top 40 hit after that.

Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs

Here's the only entry in this special by a South Carolina group.  They hit #1 in 1960, but two other chart entries failed to generate any further interest.

Roger Williams
"Autumn Leaves"

This great Adult artist went to Idaho State, Drake and the Julliard School of Music.  He earned a recording contract when he won on the television show Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts, which was the precursor to American Idol today.  His first hit in 1955 was a monster--#1 for four weeks, which still ranks as The #6 Instrumental of the Rock Era*.  Williams scored 22 more career hits, many of them much bigger on the Easy Listening chart than the Popular chart.  He did manage the #7 hit "Born Free" in 1966 and another Gold record in "Till" from 1957.

J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers
"Last Kiss"

This Texas group scored a big hit in 1964, the #2 song heard here.  Yet Wilson and the Cavaliers could only get as high as #85 after that.

Gary Wright
"Dream Weaver"

Here's the co-leader of the group Spooky Tooth, a band that also included guitarist Mick Jones of Foreigner.  Gary Wright burst on the scene in 1976 with a unique sound which, except for drums, was made up entirely of keyboards.  His first hit went to #2 for three weeks and was #1 in most markets.  Wright came closer than most in our feature of matching his first hit with another #2, "Love Is Alive", and his albums Dream Weaver and Light of Smiles are much better than one might think, with high quality songs such as "Made To Love You", "Power Of Love", "Are You Weepin'", "Time Machine", "Silent Fury" and "Phantom Writer".  Wright also hit #16 with another good song, "Really Wanna' Know You", in 1981.

"Just Kickin' It"

This female trio landed a #2 Platinum record with their initial hit in 1993.  They were always big sellers, collecting four more Gold records and three more Top 10 hits.  But their first hit was by far their biggest.

"For Your Love"

This group from Surrey, England was the basis for one of the most legendary groups in the Rock Era, Led Zeppelin, which formed first under the name the New Yardbirds.  They boast a collection of guitarists that at one time or another included Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton.  The first hit for the Yardbirds, written for them by Graham Gouldman, who later joined 10cc, hit #6.  They landed another Top 10--"Heart Full Of Soul" and four other Top 20's, but their first was their biggest.

Kathy Young with the Innocents
"A Thousand Stars"

This artist from Santa Ana, California rose to #3 with her cover of "A Thousand Stars".  Kathy's next-best attempt stalled at #30.

Timi Yuro

This artist also took a cover song to the Top 5 in 1961.  She scored 11 career hits, but nothing came close to her first.

Zager & Evans
"In The Year 2525"

Which brings us to our last artist in this special, and what a great way to end.  This duo from Lincoln, Nebraska released this song on a regional basis in 1968, but eventually, its popularity spread nationwide, and then worldwide.  Zager & Evan's one and only hit has become a timeless classic.