Saturday, January 18, 2020

Michael Bolton, The #83 Artist of the Rock Era

"Bolton sings songs from the soul."

"His voice just melts my heart every time."

"Heart-touching lyrics and an amazing voice."

"An amazing singer and songwriter."

"His voice is unique and of the best singers."

"I celebrate the guy's entire catalog."

"One of the most romantic artists of all-time."

"Amazing voice and sweet spirit--I just love him!"

"You can connect with his music and feel it in your soul."

"His music will resonate through the ages."

This versatile artist began as a hard rock singer but changed course to become one of the top Adult Contemporary artists of the '80s and '90s.
Michael Boltotin was born Michael Bolotin on February 26, 1953 in New Haven, Connecticut and raised on the sounds of Motown and the blues.  He began performing in local bars at the age of 15 and started recording in 1975, releasing his debut album under his original family name and the album Everyday of My Life in 1976.  Michael auditioned for Shelter Records and formed the hard rock group Blackjack.  They opened for Ozzy Osbourne and released two albums.

After Blackjack split, Bolton auditioned to be the lead singer in Osbourne's former group Black Sabbath.  When he wasn't selected, Michael signed a solo recording contract with Columbia Records instead.  He changed his stage name to Michael Bolton and released his self-titled album in 1983.  Helped by the single "Fool's Gold", the album eventually was certified Gold.   
Michael co-wrote "How Am I Supposed To Live Without You", which became a #1 song on the Adult Contemporary chart for Laura Branigan and a song he later recorded himself.  Bolton co-wrote "I Found Someone" for Branigan in 1985, which was only a minor hit for her but it later revitalized the career of Cher.  He also built relationships with some songwriting giants including Diane Warren, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil and Desmond Child, writing songs for Starship, the Pointer Sisters and Irena Cara, among others.

Bolton's second album flopped, but his third release, The Hunger, showcased his four-octave range and started him on his way.  The key to success, and aspiring musicians should take note, is that Michael abandoned the hard rock he had been recording and began recording music for adults, who of course make up the vast majority of the listening audience.

The single "That's What Love Is All About" is the one that kickstarted Bolton's career, a #3 Adult Contemporary smash that peaked at #19 overall.

Bolton's rock connections paid off when he was able to recruit Journey's Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain to help him on the album.  Michael's remake of the Otis Redding classic "(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay" got as high as #3 in Australia, #8 in New Zealand, #9 in Canada and #11 in the United States.

Upon release of the song, Redding's widow Zelma wrote Bolton a letter, calling Michael's "my all-time favorite version of my husband's classic".  Bolton promoted his music with a two-month tour of the United States with Heart.  The Hunger has now gone over two million albums sold.

The 1989 album Soul Provider was the one that catapulted Bolton to superstardom.  The title cut, with Kenny G on saxophone, matched "That's What Love Is All About" at #3 on the AC chart and peaked at #17 on the Popular chart.

Bolton raced to #1 on both the Adult and Popular charts with "How Am I Supposed To Live Without You" and became an international star when he hit #2 in Australia and Ireland, #3 in the U.K. and the Netherlands, #8 in Canada, #9 in Sweden and #10 in New Zealand.  

Bolton picked up a Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for "How Am I Supposed To Live Without You".  He pulled a third hit off the album with "How Can We Be Lovers?", another across-the-board smash at #3 on both the Popular and AC charts in the U.S., #2 in Canada, #3 in Australia and #10 in the U.K. and Sweden.

Bolton continued his hot streak with "When I'm Back On My Feet Again", a #1 Adult Contemporary hit that also charted at #7 overall.  The song also rose to #2 in Canada.

Bolton filled major arenas on a tour that was named Tour of the Year by Pollstar.  Soul Provider sold six million copies, the second-biggest album of his career.  Michael achieved a fifth hit on the album with his remake of the Ray Charles standard, "Georgia On My Mind", #6 on the AC chart.
Bolton was nominated for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male at the Grammy Awards for "Georgia On My Mind".  

He proved he belonged in the spotlight with his next album--Time, Love & Tenderness.  The title song exploded to #1 on the AC chart and #4 overall in the U.S. and #2 in Canada.  Bolton was named Songwriter of the Year at the BMI Awards and won a Hitmaker Award from the Songwriter's Hall of Fame for the song.

Few artists can remake a classic into any kind of a substantial hit, but Bolton did it again with his cover of the Percy Sledge song "When A Man Loves A Woman".  Michael's version topped both the Adult Contemporary and Popular charts in the U.S. and landed at #4 in Canada and 38 in the U.K.

Time, Love & Tenderness topped eight million in sales and generated four Top 40 hits.  Bolton picked up another Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for his remake of "When A Man Loves A Woman".  

With amazing saxophonist Kenny G, Bolton scored another #1 AC hit with "Missing You Now", #12 overall and #8 in Canada.

Michael was nominated for an American Music Award in 1991 for Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist, and award he won the next year when he also received an award for Favorite Pop/Rock Album.  He pulled five hits off the album with "Steel Bars", #7 AC in the U.S. and #10 in Canada.

Timeless:  The Classics in 1992 consisted entirely of cover songs and went to #1 on the Album chart.  Michael's remake of the great Bee Gees song "To Love Somebody" earned him a seventh #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart that was also #11 on the Popular chart in the U.S. and #2 in Canada.  It was Bolton's 11th consecutive Top 10 song among adults.

Michael won American Music Awards for Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist and Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist.  Timeless has sold over four million copies, and also includes the #8 AC song "Reach Out I'll Be There", Bolton's remake of the great Four Tops song.

In 1993, Bolton released the album The One Thing, containing yet another Adult #1--"Said I Loved You...But I Lied".  The multi-format hit also peaked at #6 overall in the United States, #2 in Australia and #3 in Canada.

Michael was nominated for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male at the Grammy Awards and he was nominated for Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist and Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist at the American Music Awards.  The One Thing has also sold over three million units in the U.S. alone.  "Completely" also reached the Top 10 of the Adult Contemporary chart.
In 1993, Bolton started The Michael Bolton Foundation to help women and children at risk from poverty and emotional, physical and sexual abuse.

Michael released the compilation Greatest Hits 1985-1995, which included the new song "Can I Touch You...There?", a #6 AC hit.  He won two more American Music Awards for Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist and Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist.

Bolton released the album All That Matters in 1997.  "Go The Distance" was also featured in the Disney movie Hercules and reached #1 on the AC chart.

    Bolton made his big screen debut in the movie Meet Wally Sparks.  He received another American Music Award nomination for Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist, thanks to another Top 5 Adult hit, "The Best Of Love".

    Bolton also appeared in the movies Snow Dogs and High Voltage in 2002, The Onion Movie in 2008 and Popstar:  Never Stop Never Stopping in 2016.

    Bolton has released 10 studio albums since 1997.  In 2013, Bolton published his autobiography, The Soul of It All:  My Music, My Life.

    Michael has enjoyed 22 career hits, with seven reaching the Top 10 and two going all the way to #1.  But he has excelled with adults, racking up 32 career hits, with a sensational 19 landing in the Top 10 and nine #1 songs.

    Bolton has won six American Music Awards out of 10 nominations, two Grammy Awards from four nominations, a Songwriter's Hall of Fame Award and a BMI Award.
    Bolton has sold over 75 million records.  Nine of his albums have reached Gold status, with seven of those going Platinum and six Multi-Platinum.  He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

    Friday, January 17, 2020

    Cher, The #84 Artist of the Rock Era

    "She has the most amazing voice."

    "Cher is iconic."

    "Cher is an original--one of the greatest voices in popular music."

    "Such a powerful voice."

    "Cher will always be one of the greatest."

    "What a queen, a diva, a living legend."

    "She's a goddess of pop music."

    "She is truly awesome."

    "So super talented."

    "Her voice is phenomenal."

    Cherilyn Sarkisian was born in El Centro, California on May 20, 1946.  Her father was a truck driver who was rarely home and her parents divorced when Cher was ten months old.  Cher's mother changed her name to Georgia Holt.  

    In addition to playing minor roles in movies and on television, Holt landed acting parts for Cher on shows such as The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.  Holt married and divorced several other times and moved her family constantly, even once leaving Cher at an orphanage for several weeks.

    She showed an affinity for the performing arts when she produced a performance of the musical Oklahoma! for her class.  She directed and choreographed dance routines for girls in the class but since the boys didn't want to participate, Cher acted the male parts and sang their songs.  
    She went to Montclair College Preparatory School in Encino and even then, performed songs in front of the other studenents during lunch hour.
    With big dreams of stardom, Cher dropped out of school and moved to Los Angeles to live with a friend.  She took acting lessons and worked to support herself.  She danced in small clubs on Sunset Strip in Hollywood and introduced herself to other performers, managers and agents.  In November of 1962, Cher met Sonny Bono, who was then working for producer Phil Spector.  

    Cher and Sonny hit it off right away, became romantically involved and soon Cher moved into Sonny's house.  Sonny introduced Cher to Spector, who hired her as a backup singer on songs such as "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" by the Righteous Brothers and the Ronettes' "Be My Baby".  Spector produced Cher's first recording, "Ringo, I Love You", performed under the name Bonnie Jo Mason. 
    Sonny and Cher performed at their own unofficial wedding ceremony in Tijuana, Mexico on October 27, 1964.  Sonny wanted to get his new bride started with a solo career, but she suffered from stage fright to the point that she begged him to perform with her.

    Thus, late in the year, they began performing under the name Caesar & Cleo, but were unsuccessful with several singles.

    Cher signed a recording contract with Imperial Records, a division of Liberty, in 1964 with Sonny as her producer.  Her first single, "Dream Baby", received some airplay in Los Angeles, but it was her second, a cover of Bob Dylan's "All I Really Want To Do", which became her first big hit at #15.  The single propelled Cher's album of the same name to climb to #16 on the Album chart.
    Sonny & Cher first hit #1 with "I Got You Babe".  The next year, she released the solo single, "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)".

    The duo went on to post 20 hits, including the Top 10 songs "Laugh At Me", "Baby Don't Go", "The Beat Goes On", "All I Ever Need Is You" and "A Cowboys Work Is Never Done".  It bears repeating that these artists are ranked for their work as it is credited on their records; Cher's career as part of Sonny & Cher is evaluated on its own merits, and is separate from her solo career.

    Meanwhile, Cher continued with solo releases as well.  "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)" in 1966 became one of her biggest career hits at #2.

    The following year, Cher released the single "You Better Sit Down Kids", which found its way to #9.
    On Cher's 1968 album Backstage, she tried to do too many things and when the album flopped, Imperial dropped her from the roster.  Sonny and Cher had been dropped from Atco Records as well, but Atco wanted to sign Cher to record a solo album.  

    3614 Jackson Highway was recorded without Sonny's input and although some critics liked it, Sonny kept Cher from releasing any more albums on Atco.

    Sonny cheated on Cher often and the relationship turned sour.  Sonny then tried to win her back, saying he wanted to marry and raise a family.  The couple married after Cher gave birth to a daughter on March 4, 1969.  They then spent $500,000 to produce the movie Chastity (named after their daughter), which was a disaster.

    By the '70s, Sonny & Cher's music seemed bland in comparison to the industry trend towards heavier music led by groups such as Led Zeppelin. 
    The duo began performing a nightclub routine in Las Vegas that was more mature in nature, so radically different that members of the audience began heckling them.  Cher began heckling back and when Sonny reprimanded her, she'd heckle Sonny.  This constant back and forth became part of the act and executives at the television stations took note.  Soon, Sonny and Cher began making appearances on prime time shows.

    When they guest hosted The Merv Griffin Show, Fred Silverman, then head of programming at CBS-TV, was so impressed that he offered the couple their own television show.  The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour originated as a summer replacement series, but its success led to a full-time show beginning in December.

    The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour attracted over 30 million viewers per week in its three-year run.  By this time, Cher was already becoming a trendsetter with her outfits.

    In 1971, she released her self-titled album on Kapp, a division of MCA Records.  Her first single from that album vaulted to the top of the charts and went Gold--"Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves".

    In 1972, Cher landed in the Top 10 again with "The Way Of Love".
    In 1972, Cher released the album Foxy Lady, featuring all ballads.  Producer Snuff Garrett quit after the recording in a dispute over the direction she was taking.  The following year, Cher released the album Bittersweet White Light, another flop.

    From 1971 to 1973, Sonny & Cher revived their career with four albums.

    Meanwhile, Garrett received a song from lyricist Mary Dean called "Half-Breed", the story of the daughter of a Cherokee mother and a white father, written especially for Cher.  Garrett agreed with Dean that only Cher could sing it and quickly won her back as a client.  Cher scored her signature song in 1973 with "Half-Breed", a #1 smash that sold over one million copies.

    She followed that up with another #1 in 1974, "Dark Lady".
    In 1974, Cher won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Television Series Musical or Comedy.  Although she had Sonny went through more problems, they kept up their public appearances until 1974.  
    Later in the year, she released her Greatest Hits album.  Cher and Sonny divorced in 1975, and Cher began a two-year romantic relationship with music executive David Geffen while the couple battled in court.  Geffen landed a $2.5 million deal for Cher with Warner Brothers, but her first album under her new contract was another flop.

    Cher began her own self-titled show on CBS on February 16, 1974, produced by Gefen.  It received accolades initially but was replaced by a new show less than a year later in which Cher reunited professionally with Sonny.  It too debuted strong but fizzled within a year.

    On June 30, 1975, just four days after her divorce from Sonny was finalized, Cher married Gregg Allman, co-founder of the Allman Brothers Band.  She filed for divorce nine days later but the couple reconciled within a month and Cher gave birth to the son Elijah Blue in 1976.  

    Cher's next two albums, I'd Rather Believe in You and Cherished were unsuccessful, and a recording attempt with Allman called Two the Hard Way in 1977 failed miserably.  The couple's relationship ended after the release of the album and that divorce was finalized in 1979.  Meanwhile, Cher hosted Cher...Special in 1978 and Cher...and Other Fantasies in 1979.

    Musically, Cher scored one of several career comebacks in 1979 when she signed with Casablanca Records and recorded the album Take Me Home, which took advantage of the popularity of Disco.  Both the album and title single were certified Gold, and "Take Me Home" went to #8, giving Cher her first Top 10 song in five years. 
    She wrote the song "Bad Love", recorded for the movie Foxes, and formed the rock group Black Rose with her latest lover, guitarist Les Dudek.  However, the band was unable to land live appearances and an album flopped, leading to the group's break-up in 1981.

    From 1980-82, Cher set up her own residency show in Las Vegas.
    In 1982, Cher debuted on Broadway in Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, then reprised her role in the movie of the same name.  She drew praise for her roles in Silkwood in 1983 (opposite Meryl Streep), Mask in 1985 and Moonstruck in 1987, the latter earning Cher an Academy Award for Best Actress.

    Several recording attempts failed, until in 1987 she signed with Geffen Records.  Michael Bolton, Jon Bon Jovi, Desmond Child and Richie Sambora combined to produce her album Cher.  She scored her first Top 10 hit in eight years with "I Found Someone".  

    Cher hooked up with Peter Cetera to sing the love theme from the movie Chances Are.  The pairing gave Cher a ninth Top 10 song away from Sonny.

    Now relevant again, Cher released her 19th album Heart of Stone in 1989.  The single "If I Could Turn Back Time".  It became a #1 Adult Contemporary hit and #3 overall in the United States and led the way in Australia for seven weeks.

    Cher released a strong follow-up, "Just Like Jesse James", probably underrated even at #8.  Thanks to the two big hits and a tour, Heart of Stone sold over three million copies.
    Cher won a People's Choice Award for Favorite All-Around Female Star.

    In 1990, Cher returned to the big screen in Mermaids.  One of two songs recorded for the soundtrack, "The Shoop Shoop Song (It's In His Kiss)" only made it to #33 in the U.S. but was a #1 smash in the U.K. (#1 for five weeks).

    Beginning in 1990, Cher became a donor and was the National Chairperson and Honorary Spokesperson for the Children's Craniofacial Association, which serves to "empower and give hope to facially disfigured children and their families".  The annual Cher's Family Retreat is held every June to provide patients, siblings and parents interaction with others who endure similar experiences.

    In 1991, Cher released the album Love Hurts, more popular in the U.K. (#1 for six weeks) than the United States.  The single "Love And Understanding" stalled at #17 in the States but reached the Top 10 in the U.K.
    Cher released an exercise book called Forever Fit in 1991 and the fitness videos CherFitness:  A New Attitude and CherFitness:  Body Confidence in 1992.  

    Meanwhile, Cher, already dyslexic, contracted the Epstein-Barr virus and developed chronic fatigue syndrome.  As she lacked the energy to keep her music and film careers going, Cher starred in infomercials for health, beauty and diet products which paid her nearly $10 million in fees. 

    In 1995, Cher recorded the charity single "Love Can Build A Bridge" with Eric Clapton, Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders and Neneh Cherry.  Cher also released the album It's a Man's World.
    In 1996, Cher starred in the movie Faithful and made her directing debut in the film If These Walls Could Talk.  It garnered the highest ratings for an original HBO movie to that time (18.7).  

    In 1997, Cher was the keynote speaker for the Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays convention and has become one of the LGBT community's most vocal advocates.  Her oldest daughter Chastity, who first announced that she was a lesbian at age 17, announced that she was a transgender individual in 2009, and changed her name to Chaz.  His transition from female to male was legalized in 2010.  

    In May of 1998, Sher received the GLAAD Vanguard Award for "making a significant difference in promoting equal rights for lesbians and gay men".
    After Sonny Bono's death while skiing in 1998, Cher eulogized her ex-husband, saying he was "the most unforgettable character" she had ever met.  She hosted the CBS special Sonny & Me:  Cher Remembers on May 20, 1998.  Later in the year, she published the book The First Time.

    Cher scored a fourth musical comeback with a return to dance music for the album Believe in 1998, which has now sold over four million units.  The title song hit #1 in 23 countries It remained at #1 in the U.K. for seven weeks and became the top-selling single of all-time by a female artist in the U.K..  
    When "Believe" hit #1, it made Cher the oldest female to go to #1 (at the age of 52) and gave her the longest span between #1 songs in the Rock Era (33 years, seven months and three weeks between "I Got You Babe" in 1965 and "Believe").  The single sold nearly two million copies in the U.S. and 10 million copies worldwide and earned Cher a Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording.
    In 1999, Cher performed the United States national anthem at the Super Bowl.  Two months later, she appeared on the television special VH1 Divas Live 2.  VH1 said it was the most-watched program in the network's history with 19.4 million viewers.

    Cher released the compilation album If I Could Turn Back Time:  Cher's Greatest Hits, certified Gold.  Cher embarked on a two-year tour in which all American dates were sold out.  The television special Cher:  Live in Concert - From the MGM Grand in Las Vegas was the highest-rated original HBO program that year.  Later in the year, Cher released another compilation album in Europe, The Greatest Hits, which has now sold over three million copies.

    Cher earned a Billboard Award for being the #1 Dance Artist of the year, and accepted the Legend Award for her "lifelong contribution to the music industry" at the World Music Awards.
    Cher received critical acclaim for her performance in the movie Tea with Mussolini.  Her 2001 album Living Proof was certified Gold, and earned her another Billboard Music Award for Dance/Club Play Artist of the Year.  She also won the Artist Achievement Award for having "helped redefine popular music with massive success on the Billboard charts".

    The compilation album The Very Best of Cher in 2003 reached #4 on the Album chart and attained Double Platinum status.  Cher starred in the movie Stuck on You in 2003.
    Billed as Living Proof:  The Farewell Tour, Cher extended the tour and by the end of 2003, it was the most successful tour by a female performer, grossing $145 million.  The tour went on to gross $250 million, becoming one of the biggest concert tours in history.  Tracks from the tour were recorded and included on the album Live!  The Farewell Tour.  The NBC special Cher - The Farewell Tour drew 17 million viewers and earned a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special.

    In 2007, Cher became the primary supporter of the Peace Village School in Ukunda, Kenya, which provides nutritious food, medical care, education and extracurricular activities for over 300 orphans and vulnerable children from 2-13 years of age.  Her support allowed the school to acquire land and built permanent housing and school facilities.  She also joined the group Malaria No More to lead an effort to eliminate malaria mortality and morbidity for the children, their caregivers and the local community.  

    In 2008, Cher signed a $180 million pact to perform at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas for three years.  The elaborate production featured 14 dancers, four aerialists, over 20 costume changes and state-of-the art video and special effects.
    Cher starred in the movie Burlesque in 2010.  When the song "You Haven't Seen The Last Of Me" went to #1 on the Dance chart, it made Cher the only artist in history to achieve a #1 song on a Billboard chart in ever decade from the 1960's to the 2010's.  

    In November, Cher placed her handprints and footprints in front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.  In 2011, she voiced a part for the movie Zookeeper, and in 2013, Cher produced a documentary about her mother, Dear Mom, Love Cher.

    In 2013, Cher released her 25th studio album, Closer to the Truth, a #3 album in the U.S.

    In 2016, after lead contamination was discovered in the drinking water of Flint, Michigan, Cher donated over 180,000 bottles of water to the city.  

    Cher is the only artist in history to score a #1 song in every decade from the 1960's to the 2010's.  Esquire magazine ranked her #44 on their list of "The 75 Greatest Women of All Time".  Cher is one of few artists to win three of the four major entertainment awards (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony), having won each of the first three, as well as three Golden Globe Awards.  She is one of five people to have both a #1 song and an acting Academy Award.  Cher's record sales top 100 million worldwide.
    She supports international projects such as the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, Operation Helmet and the Children's Craniofacial Association through the Cher Charitable Foundation.

    Thursday, January 16, 2020

    Def Leppard, The #85 Artist of the Rock Era

    "Def Leppard is awesome."

    "Classic music forever."

    "One of the best bands ever."

    "My favorite band of all-time."

    "Real rock & roll."

    "This band brought hard rock to the masses."

    "A catalog of great music that will stand the test of time."

    "Hot band!"

    "Clean, pure rock & roll."

    "They are inspirational, talented and simply awesome!!"

    In 1977, guitarists Rick Savage and Pete Willis and drummer Tony Kenning formed the group Atomic Mass while they were students at Tapton School in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England.  Savage soon switched to bass.  Joe Elliott auditioned with the band as a guitarist later in the year.  Joe made it into the group, but the members felt he should be the lead singer instead.  Atomic Mass played in public for the first time at Westfield School in Mosborough. 

    The group soon changed their name to Deaf Leopard before altering the spelling.  Early in 1978, guitarist Steve Clark came aboard.  The group set out to record a three-song album, but  Kenning left to start another group.  Frank Noon played drums on the E.P. sessions, with 15-year-old Rick Allen joining full-time by the end of the month.

    The EP received good airplay in Britain, leading to a recording contract with Phonogram/Vertigo in the U.K. and Mercury Records in the United States.  Pete Martin and Frank Stuart-Brown originally managed the group, but they were fired after Elliott and Martin got into a fistfight over a disagreement on the road.  The band hired Peter Mensch to be their new manager, and Mensch quickly proved his worth by booking Def Leppard to open for AC/DC. 

    Def Lep released their debut album On Through the Night in 1980.  While its airplay was limited at the time, Def Leppard fans since then have gobbled up enough copies to certify it Platinum.

    Through touring with AC/DC, Def Leppard had established contact with Robert John "Mutt" Lange, the man responsible for producing Back in Black and helping AC/DC get off the ground.  Lange agreed to produce Def Leppard's 1981 album High 'n' Dry.  The album didn't sell in great numbers at the time, but it is known for getting Def Leppard onto MTV with the video "Bringin' On The Heartbreak".  Similar to the story with their debut above, the group's later popularity resulted in the album eventually selling over two million copies.  Def Leppard toured Europe and North America and were gradually getting exposure for their efforts, as well as new fans.

    Willis was fired for excessive alcohol drinking in 1982, but the band picked up an excellent guitarist in Phil Collen.  Collen joined the group with recording for a new album underway.  Lange once again produced the group, and this time, he worked magic, just as he had done with AC/DC.
    Def Leppard released the album Pyromania.  "Photograph" went to #1 on the Album Rock chart for six weeks, #12 overall.

    Def Leppard now headlined on tour, and with each successive single, Pyromania was one of the year's great success stories, kept away from #1 on the Album chart only by Michael Jackson's Thriller.  "Rock Of Ages" followed "Photograph" up to #1 on the Album Rock chart, but peaked at #16, another of The Top Unknown/Underrated Songs of the Rock Era*.
    By the end of the year, Pyromania had gone over six million in sales, and it is now a Diamond album--over 10 million units sold.  Def Leppard was voted favorite rock band in the U.S. over the Rolling Stones, AC/DC and Journey in a Gallup poll, and they were nominated for Favorite Pop/Rock Band, Duo or Group and Favorite Pop/Rock album at the American Music Awards. 

     "Foolin'" stalled at #28, another highly underrated song.  Presented with three outstanding singles, each of which did not enter the Top 10, from an album that has sold over 10 million copies, one has to seriously question the methodology of said chart.  Specifically, any chart that does not factor in album sales is missing the boat and is not to be taken seriously.

    Please pardon us for the pun, by Def Leppard was on fire after Pyromania.  Little did they or the world know what was on the horizon.  The band moved to Dublin, Ireland in 1984 and began working on a follow-up.  Lange was on board for producing another album, but abruptly pulled out due to exhaustion.  Jim Steinman, the songwriter behind most of Meat Loaf's success, replaced Lange.
    On New Year's Eve of 1984, Allen's car swerved off the road near Sheffield and went through a drystone wall, causing him to lose his left arm in the crash.  Allen was determined to continue as drummer, though, and worked with Simmons, a drum manufacturer, to design an electronic drum kit specifially for him so he could use his legs to do some of the drumming.

    The other members supported Allen in his efforts and after a few months of practice with the new kit, Allen summoned the band to listen to his progress.  When Allen played the intro to "When The Levee Breaks" by Led Zeppelin, Elliott says it was "a very emotional moment".  Allen received a standing ovation after being introduced by Elliott at the 1986 Monsters of Rock festival in England.

    Lange returned as producer, and finally after three years of recording, Def Leppard released the album Hysteria in 1987.  "Women" mysteriously stalled at #80 in the U.S., though it was a #7 Rock hit. 

     "Animal" became the group's first Top 10 single in the U.K., and should have been everywhere else in the world.  It did reach #3 in Ireland and #6 In New Zealand as well.  Today, it is easily one of The Top Unknown/Underrated Songs of the Rock Era*.  
    Hysteria was about to make history in many ways.  It quickly rose to #1 on the Album chart in the U.K.  The title cut followed, underrated even at #10 in the United States. 

    "Pour Some Sugar On Me" elevated to #2 in the U.S. and #8 in Ireland.  The video was nominated for Best Heavy Metal Video and Best Stage Performance in a Video at the MTV Video Music Awards.

    "Love Bites" outdid even its predecessor, going to #1 in the United States, #2 in New Zealand, #6 in Canada and #7 in Ireland.

    "Armageddon It" continued the roll for Def Leppard, rising to #2 in New Zealand and #3 in the U.S.

    The band still wasn't through pulling hits off this amazing album.  "Rocket" reached #3 in Canada and #5 in New Zealand and Ireland.

    Hysteria is now one of a select few that has generated seven Top 40 singles.  Six of those landed in the Top 10 on the Rock chart.  The album remained a best-seller for three years.

    Hysteria has sold over 12 million copies in the U.S. alone and 25 million worldwide.  

    Def Leppard toured the world for 16 months.  They won American Music Awards for Favorite Heavy Metal/Hard Rock Artist and Favorite Heavy Metal/Hard Rock Album, and were nominated for Favorite Pop/Rock Band, Duo or Group and Favorite Pop/Rock Album. 

    The band worked to capitalize on their superstardom, but Clark was in and out of rehab for alcoholism.  In 1990, Clark was given a six-month leave of absence from the group, but he died on January 8, 1991 from a mix of alcohol and prescription drugs. 

    Def Leppard vowed to go on with four members and released the album Adrenalize in 1992.  "Let's Get Rocked" peaked at #2 in the U.K., #3 in Switzerland, #4 in Ireland, #6 in Australia,  and #7 in New Zealand and was nominated for four MTV Video Music Awards, including Video of the Year, Viewer's Choice and Best Metal/Hard Rock Video.  

    The album soon topped charts in both the U.S. and U.K. and has now sold over three million copies worldwide.  "Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad" stopped at #12 overall, but was a Top 10 Rock hit.

    Once again, the group was nominated for Favorite Heavy metal/Hard Rock Artist at the American Music Awards.  The band auditioned guitarists to replace Clark, and decided on Vivian Campbell, formerly with Whitesnake.  With Campbell making his live debut with the group, they once again toured the world.  In 1993, Def Leppard released the single "Two Steps Behind" from the movie Last Action Hero, with the song peaking at #12.  
    They released the album Retro Active, a compilation of b-sides and previously unreleased songs, in 1993.  It has gone over three million in worldwide sales. 

    In 1995, Def Leppard released their compilation Vault:  Def Leppard Greatest Hits (1980-1995).  Vault has now gone over five million in sales.

    On October 23, 1995, Def Leppard set a world record when they performed three concerts on three continents in a single day, performing at Tangiers, Morocco, London and Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  The group released the album Slang in 1996, which paled in comparison to previous efforts, but did sell 500,000 copies.  

    An appearance on the VH1 series Behind the Music revived their career, and Def Lep did much better on the 1999 album Euphoria.  Lange returned to produce the single "Promises", which went to #1 on the Mainstream Rock chart for three weeks.  
    Euphoria became a Gold album, the group's seventh in a row.  The band followed with the album X, another disappointment, however.

    Def Leppard performed at the Live 8 concert in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and toured with Bryan Adams in 2004.  In 2005, the band shifted direction and hired HK Management.  The group released the compilation Rock of Ages:  The Definitive Collection, now a million-seller.  In 2006, Def Lep released an album of covers called Yeah!  Def Leppard went on an extensive tour with other heavyweight rock acts Foreigner and Styx.

    In 2008, Def Leppard released the album Songs from the Sparkle Lounge, which debuted at #5.  The group supported the album with another successful tour with Styx and REO speedwagon.  
    In October, Def Leppard taped a show with Taylor Swift called CMT Crossroads:  Taylor Swift and Def Leppard.  Swift, a lifelong fan of the group, requested the collaboration, with the DVD of the event becoming the best-selling album of the week.

    Exhausted, Def Leppard took a year off from touring, but they returned in joint appearances with Heart in 2011.   In 2013, Def Lep performed 11 shows at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

    In June, Campbell announced that he had developed Hodkin's lymphoma and he received chemotherapy for the malignant form of cancer.
    In 2014 and 2015, Def Leppard toured the U.S., Canada, Japan, Australia, the U.K. and Ireland.  The group released their self-titled album in 2015, which debuted at #10.  "Let's Go" and "Dangerous" each rose to #1 on the Classic Rock chart.  Def Leppard toured North America with Styx in 2016.

    Def Leppard has charted 20 career hits, with four landing in the Top 10 and one #1 song.  On the more hip Rock chart, however, the group has scored 31 career hits, with an amazing 17 of those reaching the Top 10 and six #1's.

    Def Leppard's worldwide sales have topped 100 million, a strong reason why they continue to rank in The Top 100 Artists of the Rock Era*.  They are one of only five groups in history with two studio albums that have gone over 10 million in sales.
    This outstanding heavy metal act has won two American Music awards out of seven nominations and has been nominated for six MTV Video Music Awards.

    Wednesday, January 15, 2020

    Metallica, The #86 Artist of the Rock Era

    "One of the best rock bands ever."

    In 1981, drummer Lars Ulrich purchased an advertisement in a local newspaper.  Vocalist and guitarist James Hetfield responded, and Metallica was born.  Ulrich took out another ad for a lead guitarist, and Dave Mustaine answered.  The three recorded the song "Hit The Lights" for the Metal Massacre I compilation, and, after adding bassist Ron McGovney, performed live for the first time March 14, 1982 at Radio City in Anaheim, California.

    Later in the year, Ulrich and Hetfield went to see the group Trauma at the famous club Whisky a Go Go.  After seeing bassist Cliff Burton, the two Metallica members asked Cliff to be in their group.  Burton accepted only on the condition that the band move to El Cerrito near San Francisco.

    Metallica had enough original material to record an album, so promoter Johny Zazula shopped the demo to record companies in New York City.  When the company executives who couldn't recognize talent if it bit them in the nose showed no interest, Zazula borrowed enough money to record the band himself and signed Metallica to his own label, Megaforce Records.
    In 1983, Metallica began recording its debut album in Rochester, New York.  Just before the sessions began, the group fired Mustaine due to drug and alcohol abuse and violent behavior.  Kirk Hammett, formerly with the group Exodus, replaced Mustaine that afternoon.  Hammett's first appearance with the group was on April 16, 1983 at The Showplace in Dover, New Jersey.

    Metallica released the album Kill 'Em All in 1983.  The album did not sell well, but the group gained a following.  
    The band traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark to record their follow-up, Ride the Lightning, which was released in 1984.  Meanwhile, Michael Alago, A&R director for Elektra Records, and Cliff Burnstein, co-founder of Q-Prime Management , saw Metallica perform in September.  They were hooked--Burnstein signed a management deal with the group and Alago hooked Metallica up with a major recording contract.

    Metallica toured the United States and Europe, playing before 70,000 at the Monsters of Rock Festival at Donington Park, England and in front of 60,000 at the Day of the Green festival in Oakland, California.
    The band released the album Master of Puppets in 1986.

    The album reached #29 and remained a best-seller for 72 weeks.  It went Gold that year and has now sold over six million.

    On September 27, the band was riding in their tour bus in Sweden while on the European leg of their tour.  The bus drive lost control at around sunrise and the bus overturned several times.  Burton was pinned under the bus and died.  The three other members escaped injury.

    After the tragedy, Hammett, Hetfield and Ulrich met to decide the group's future.  With the Burton family's blessings to continue, Metallica listened to 40 bassists before deciding on Jason Newsted.  The band also relocated to San Rafael, north of San Francisco, during this time.
    The new lineup recorded the album ...And Justice for All, released in 1988.  The single "One" rose to #3 in Sweden and the Netherlands, #4 in Norway and #5 in Australia and sold over one million copies.

    The album became the first Top 10 for the group, and was quickly certified Platinum.  Metallica was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance, Vocal or Instrument for the album.

    In 1999, the video for "One" was voted #38 in MTV's Top 100 Videos of All-Time.

    Metallica brought Bob Rock in to produce their next album.  Rock had credits with Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Motley Crue and the Cult, among others.  It is said that the album was remixed three times, cost $1 million and ended three marriages.  In 1991, Metallica released their self-titled album, also popularly known as The Black Album.  The single "Enter Sandman" stalled at #16 in the U.S., but reached #2 in Norway, #5 in the U.K., #8 in New Zealand, #9 in Germany and #10 in Australia and the Netherlands.  The #16 peak in the U.S. is especially puzzling, considering the fact that the single sold two million copies in that country--seems to be a serious methodology problem with the organization making up the numbers.

    The album debuted at #1 in 10 countries and sold over 650,000 its first week.  "The Unforgiven" also sold over one million copies and peaked at #10 in Australia.

    Metallica pulled a third hit off the album with "Nothing Else Matters", a #3 song in Norway, #4 in the Netherlands, #5 in Switzerland, #6 in the U.K., #8 in Australia and #9 in Germany.

    "Wherever I May Roam" reached #2 in Norway and #8 in New Zealand.
    Metallica toured the U.S., Japan and the U.K. for 14 months in support of the album.  But on August 8, 1992, Hetfield suffered second and third degree burns to his arms, face, hands and legs after walking into a 12-foot flame while performing "Fade To Black".  Several dates hat to be canceled, but Hetfield returned as lead singer with John Marshall filling in on guitar.  The Black Album has sold over 16 million units.

    Metallica was exhausted after three years of touring, and took a year to write and record songs for a new album.  Creativity was at its best, as the group had enough songs to do a double album.  They decided to release half the songs as the album Load in 1996, which also debuted at #1.  The single "Until It Sleeps" soared to #1 on the Mainstream Rock chart and also topped charts in Australia and Switzerland and #2 in Norway, #5 in the U.K. and the Netherlands and #10 in the U.S. overall.  It sold over one million copies.

    Metallica headlined the Lollapalooza Festival later in the year.  "Hero Of The Day" also went to #1 on the U.S. Mainstream Rock chart and peaked at #2 in Australia, #8 in Norway and #10 in Sweden.  Load has sold over five million copies.

    The group continued to work on the other half of the material they had written, and released the remaining songs as the album Reload the next year.  "The Memory Remains" reached #3 on the Mainstream Rock chart and #3 in Norway, #4 in Sweden and #6 in Australia.

      Reload gave Metallica three consecutive albums to debut at #1--it has now gone over the four-million mark in sales.  The single "The Unforgiven II" hit #2 on the Mainstream Rock chart and #8 in Norway and Sweden and #9 in Australia.

    "Fuel" peaked at #6 on the Mainstream Rock chart and #2 in Australia.

    In 1998, the band released a double album of cover songs entitled Garage Inc., which has sold over five million worldwide.  "Turn The Page" soared to #1 on the Mainstream Rock chart.

    "Whiskey In The Jar" rose to #4 on the Mainstream Rock chart and #4 in Norway.
    Metallica recorded performances with the San Francisco Symphony on April 21-22, 1999 and released the project as the album and concert movie S&M.  It debuted at #2 on the Album chart and has sold over six million copies.

    In 2000, Metallica recorded "I Disappear" for the movie Mission:  Impossible II, but prior to the release of the soundtrack, discovered the song was already receiving radio airplay.  Upon investigation, the group found that Napster had been playing the song as well as the group's entire catalog for free.  Metallica filed lawsuit in U.S. District Court against Napster for copyright infringement, unlawful use of digital audio and violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

    In a settlement, Napster agreed to block users who shared music by artists who did not want their music shared.  The single also rose to #1 on the Mainstream Rock chart. 

    Newsted left the group in 2001.  Metallica's next album was delayed five months when Hetfield entered rehab for alcoholism and other addictions.  Producer Bob Rock played bass on the album and at several live performances.  Robert Trujilo replaced Newsted. 
    In 2003, Metallica released the album St. Anger, which also debuted at #1.  The title song peaked at #2 on the Mainstream Rock chart and reached #6 in Norway and #9 in the U.K. and Sweden.  It earned a Grammy Award as Best Metal performance.

    Metallica toured for two years in support of the album and took a break afterwards.  In 2006, Metallica released the DVD The Videos 1989-2004.  The group recorded a remake of the Ennio Morricone song "The Ecstasy Of Gold", which was nominated for Best Rock Instrumental Performance at the Grammy Awards.
    After 15 years, Metallica decided to switch from Bob Rock to Rick Rubin as producer.  In 2008, the group released the album Death Magnetic, yet another album to debut at #1.  Metallica became the first group to debut at #1 with five consecutive studio albums in history.  The album also debuted in 32 other countries, including the U.K., Canada and Australia.  The single "The Day That Never Comes" sold over one million copies but peaked at #31 overall.  It reached #1 on the Mainstream Rock chart and hit #1 in Norway and #3 in Sweden.

    The group's deal with Warner Brothers ended.  In 2009, Metallica was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  
    Metallica released the box set The Metallica Collection in 2009.  The band continued to tour for two years in support of the album.   In 2011, Metallica headlined the Rock in Rio festival in Rio de Janeiro.  The group celebrated its 30th anniversary with four shows at the Fillmore in San Francisco. 

    In 2012, Metallica launched its own record label, Blackened Recordings.  In 2014, they headlined the Glastonbury Festival and returned to headline the Lollapalooza festival for the first time in 20 years in 2015.  
    Metallica released the album Self-Destruct in 2016, which debuted at #1. 

    The band has landed 16 career hits with one Top 10 song.  They have excelled on the Mainstream Rock chart, accumulating 29 hits, 19 of those landing in the Top 10 and 8 going to #1.  Six career albums debuted at #1.  
    Metallica has sold over 120 million records worldwide.  
    They have won two American Music Awards from six nominations, eight Grammy Awards out of 17 nominations, three Billboard Music Awards and three MTV Video Music Awards from 13 nominations.