Saturday, January 25, 2020

Heart, The #76 Artist of the Rock Era

"Heart is great...epic!"

"Their music is awesome--one of my favorite bands."

"The group pursued their dreams with talent, energy and passion."

"Heart's songs are magical."

"Amazing talent.  Just pure talent."

"Simply one of the best of all-time."

"Great songs that have substance and lyrics."

"Legendary Rock group."

"Heart really is magic, man."

"Big fan of the legendary Heart."

At #79, superstars that have been at or near the top of the world for four decades.

Guitarist Nancy Wilson told Believer magazine that the moment she and Ann wanted to be rock stars was when they tuned into The Ed Sullivan Show one night:

The lightning bolt came out of the heavens and struck Ann and me the first time we saw the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show. My family was living on the marine base in Camp Pendleton, California, and we’d all gathered around the little black-and-white TV at our grandmother’s in La Jolla. Most people didn’t have color sets at home back then. There’d been so much anticipation and hype about the Beatles that it was a huge event, like the lunar landing: that was the moment Ann and I heard the call to become rock musicians. I was seven or eight at the time.
In 1967, bassist Steve Fossen and guitarist Roger Fisher formed a group called The Army and played local gigs near Bothell, Washington.  The group experienced several lineup changes and changed their name to White Heart.  In 1970, they shortened their name to Heart briefly but after lead singer Ann Wilson joined, the band renamed themselves Hocus Pocus.

Mike Fisher, Roger's brother, was drafted into the U.S. military but moved to Canada.  One day when he crossed back into the United States, he met Ann at a Hocus Pocus show.  The two fell in love and Ann followed Mike back to Canada.  Soon, Fossen graduated and decided to move to Canada as well in 1972 and Roger followed shortly after.
The group Heart officially formed with Ann's sister Nancy joining in 1974, and it was not long before Nancy fell in love with Roger.  Based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Heart enlisted the help of producer Mike Flicker and session guitarist and keyboardist Howard Leese to record a demo.  Leese soon became a full-time member of the group and Mike Derosier joined as a drummer.  
Heart recorded their debut album at Can-Base Studios.  The investors who backed the studio also financed Mushroom Records.  Dreamboat Annie was released in 1976 and did so well in Canada that it was released in the United States, where it jumped to #7 on the Album chart.

Mushroom bought a full page advertisement in Rolling Stone magazine showing the bare-shouldered Wilson sisters with the caption, "It was only our first time!".  When a reporter questioned the sisters if they were sex partners after a performance, Ann was so furious she went to her hotel room and wrote the song "Barracuda", and Heart broke its contract with Mushroom to sign with Portrait Records. 

This led to an extended court battle.  Mushroom released the album Magazine, which was only partially finished, in 1977.  A Seattle judge forced Mushroom to recall the album until Heart could remix tracks and add new vocals, and the album was re-released in 1978.

Meanwhile, Heart released the album Little Queen in 1977, and "Barracuda" became a big hit, despite its #11 ranking by Billboard in the U.S., a #2 smash in Canada.

Some of the artists in The Top 100 for the Rock Era* have several hits and some worthy album tracks.  Heart had both the hits and the great album tracks.  The title track of Little Queen is one such example.

And, with a peak of #79, "Kick It Out" is one of The Top Unknown/Underrated Songs of the Rock Era*.

To capitalize on Heart's success, Mushroom released the single "Heartless" from Magazine, a #18 hit in Canada and #24 in the United States.

Heart performed at the first Texxas Jam in 1978 in Dallas, Texas before 100,000 people.  Later in the year, the group released their album Dog and Butterfly.  "Straight On" is another underrated tune, #14 in Canada and #15 in the U.S.

The album went Platinum, but the title song is yet another of The Top Unknown/Underrated Songs*, with a peak of just #37.
However both Wilson-Fisher romantic relationships ended;  Roger was voted out of the band and Mike departed within a month after that.  The group carried on, but it was obvious to most that despite the best efforts of Nancy and Leese, Heart sorely missed the guitar wizardry of Roger in the years to come.

In 1980, Heart released the album Bebe le Strange, a #5 album that contained the #33 song "Even It Up".  Bebe le Strange was the first album not to reach Platinum status.

Heart released the double album Greatest Hits/Live, #12 on the Album chart, which contained their singles as well as some outstanding live tracks.  The group promoted the album with a 77-city tour and achieved what the charts said was their biggest hit to date (the #8 "Tell It Like It Is", even though only a novice would say it was better than either "Crazy On You", "Magic Man" or "Barracuda".

The album sold over two million copies.  This is the group's cover of "Unchained Melody" by the Righteous Brothers.  

Years later, Ann and Nancy told of their love of Led Zeppelin and how they set out to become the female version of Robert Plant and Jimmy Page.  Heart remade "Rock And Roll" from their idols.

The 1982 album Private Audition became the first not produced by Flicker, another change that proved to be not for the better.  "This Man Is Mine" made it to #16 on the Rock chart, even though it stalled at #33 overall.  
After the album was recorded and became the first to fail to achieve Gold status, Derosier and Fossen were fired, replaced by Mark Andes on bass and Denny Carmassi on drums.  But the group did no better on the 1983 album Passionworks.

Meanwhile, the success of "Almost Paradise", Ann's duet with fellow Canadian Mike Reno, the lead singer from Loverboy, influenced Heart to change their sound and bring in other songwriters.

The group changed to Capitol Records for their next album, their self-titled release in 1985.  The alterations in their sound worked, giving Heart the only #1 album of their career and four huge hits.  "What About Love" climbed to #8 in Canada and #10 in the U.S. (#3 on the Mainstream Rock chart).

"Never" hit #4 in the U.S. and #8 in the U.K.

The group then released the ballad co-written by Bernie Taupin--"These Dreams", the first #1 of Heart's career in both the United States (also #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart) and the U.K. and #6 in Canada.

The album exploded for five million in sales.  The underrated "Nothin' At All" at #10 in the U.S. was next.  It rose to #6 on the Mainstream Rock chart.

Nancy married film director Cameron Crowe in 1986.  Heart released the album Bad Animals in 1987, which contained the biggest international hit of their career, "Alone".  "Alone" matched its #1 ranking in the United States and also landed at #1 in Canada, #3 in the U.K. and #6 in Australia.

Bad Animals continued the momentum with three million in sales.  "Who Will You Run To" followed at #2 on the Mainstream Rock chart and #7 overall in the U.S.

"There's The Girl" is yet another underrated song from Heart, stalling at #12.

In 1990, the group released Brigade, their sixth Platinum album and third consecutive Double Platinum LP in a row.  "All I Wanna' Do Is Make Love To You" became another monster hit--#1 in both Canada and Australia,  #2 overall in the U.S. (#2 Mainstream Rock and #6 AC) and #8 in the U.K. 

"Stranded" reached #8 on the Adult Contemporary chart and #13 on the Hot 100 chart.

After a successful tour in 1990, Heart released the album Rock the House Live!  The group released Desire Walks On, and even though it was certified Gold, Heart would never reach the Top 40 again.  
The 2010 album Red Velvet Car represented a return to the group's early sound and fans rewarded it by taking it to #10.

Nancy scored several of her husband's movies, including Jerry Maguire in 1996, Almost Famous in 2000 and Vanilla Sky in 2001.  Meanwhile, in 2000, Heart released their Greatest Hits:  1985-1995, which went Gold and The Essential Heart in 2002, which sold over one million copies.

In 2002, Ann and Nancy returned to touring with a new lineup and in 2009, the sisters were given the ASCAP Founder's Award in recognition of their songwriting talent.  
In 2012, Heart released the box set Strange Euphoria.  Later in the year, Ann and Nancy received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the sisters released their autobiography, Kicking and Dreaming:  A Story of Heart, Soul, and Rock and Roll.

In December of 2012, the Wilsons and Jason Bonham, son of the late Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, performed "Stairway To Heaven" in tribute to Zeppelin at the Kennedy Center Honors.  The performance earned a standing ovation and when video of it went viral on YouTube, the Kennedy Center issued a limited edition iTunes single.  It rose to #1 on the Rock Singles chart.
Heart were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013.

In addition to her groundbreaking work with Heart, Nancy has written and performed the scores for six films including Jerry Maguire.

The durable band has scored 30 career hits, with nine going Top 10 and two #1's.  They landed 12 Adult Contemporary hits with four Top 10's and one #1. 
Heart has sold over 35 million albums worldwide, including 22.5 million in the U.S., and has been nominated for four Grammy Awards.  The span of 35 years between Top 10 albums is the longest by a group led by females.

Friday, January 24, 2020

The Cars, The #77 Artist of the Rock Era

"The Cars created some great music."

"They were an absolutely great band."

"The Cars are as iconic a band to me as there was in the late 70's to the mid 80's."

"I have loved this band for a long time--they're one of the best!"

"One of my favorite bands ever."

"They were just a brilliant group."

"A sound that defined a generation."

"One of the best bands ever!"

"Classic awesomeness."

"One of the best bands ever but very underrated."

This group had its roots in Cleveland Ohio, when rhythm guitarist Ric Ocasek met bassist Benjamin Orr.  The two were in several bands before moving to Boston, Massachusetts early in the 1970's.  Ocasek and Orr formed a trio known as Milkwood and released an album on Paramount Records in 1973.  After that group split, Ocasek and Orr started the group Richard and the Rabbitts, inviting keyboardist Greg Hawkes, who had studied at the prestigious Berklee School of music and had previously played saxophone on Milkwood's album.

Hawkes left to be part of a musical comedy act, so Ocasek and Orr performed an acoustic show at the Idler coffeehouse in nearby Cambridge.  Ocasek and Orr then hooked up with lead guitarist Elliot Easton and others in the band Cap'n Swing.  WBCN disc jockey Maxanne Sartori began playing songs from the group's demo tape, but record companies still rejected Cap'n Swing.

Ocasek fired the bassist and drummer and Orr began playing bass.  David Robinson was hired as the new drummer and shortly after Hawkes joined, that group became the Cars.
The band played live for the first time at the Pease Air Force Base in New Hampshire on New Year's Eve, 1976.  After recording another demo tape, "Just What I Needed" began receiving airplay in Boston, and on the strength of that airplay, Elektra Records offered the Cars a recording contract.  

The group released their debut album in 1978, with the births of many of the songs occurring when Ocasek and Orr played as an acoustic duo years before.  "Just What I Needed" rolled off the recording room floor as the first single.  Although it stalled at #27 in the U.S., French ears appeared to be better as they took the song to #4.

"My Best Friend's Girl" caught on in the U.K. to land at #3, but once again, U.S. listeners were a little slow, as the song stopped at #35.

"Good Times Roll" gave the Cars another Top 5 French hit but only #41 in the United States.  
The album not only introduced the Cars to the public; it became one of the top debut albums in history, selling over six million units.  With huge sales like that, it is unfathomable that the group didn't have two or more Top 10 hits.  Without factoring album sales into their Singles charts, Billboard had no idea the songs were as good as we now know them to be.  We have all three of those singles spotlighted in our popular feature The Top Unknown/Underrated Songs of the Rock Era*.

But even more unexplicible is the group's loss at the Grammy Awards in 1979.  They were nominated for Best New Artist, but lost to A Taste of Honey.  We can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that A Taste of Honey is nowhere in the vicinity of this ranking, while the Cars are The #75 Artist of the last 60 years*.

The Cars released the album Candy-O the following year.  The single "Let's Go" rose to #5 in Canada, #6 in Australia and #14 in the U.S.

Candy-O went to #3 on the Album chart and has topped four million in sales.  The entire album was recognized at the Grammy Awards when the Cars were nominated for Best Rock Vocal performance by a Duo or Group.  "It's All I Can Do" received significant airplay on Rock stations.

my Awards

The band's third album, Panorama, was a bit of a disappointment. Initially, it climbed to #5 on the Album chart, but featured just one hit and sold just over one million copies, low for Cars' standards. "Touch And Go" jumped to #2 in France.
"Gimme Some Slack", however, received quite a bit of airplay as an album track.

The Cars bought Intermedia Studios in Boston, renaming it Syncro Sound and recording the album Shake It Up there.  Billboard finally acknowledged that the Cars were a pretty good group, ranking the title song at #2 on the Rock chart and #4 overall, with the song also reaching #7 in Canada and #10 in Australia.

Shake It Up has sold over two million copies.  "Since You're Gone" is another worthy song.

After a tour, Ocasek and Hawkes released solo albums.  But the Cars were not through--far from it.  In 1984, they released the album of their career, Heartbeat City.  "You Might Think" was a #1 Rock hit that peaked at #7 on the Popular chart in the United States and #8 in Canada.

"You Might Think" won Video of the Year and was nominated for Best Concept Video, Most Experimental Video and Viewer's Choice at the MTV Video Music Awards.  "Magic" repeated the success of its predecessor on the Rock chart but at #12 overall, is another of The Top Unknown/Underrated Songs of the Rock Era*.

The blockbuster album has sold over four million copies.  The Cars were nominated at the Grammy Awards for Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group for Heartbeat City.  "Drive" rode to #3 in the United States and Switzerland, #4 in the U.K. and West Germany, #5 in New Zealand, #6 in Canada, #9 in France and #10 in Australia.

The Cars were also nominated for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group at the Grammys for "Drive", and the video was nominated for Best Group Video at the MTV Video Music Awards.  The single "Hello Again" gave the group four Top 20 hits on the album, and another big hit (#4) in France.

In 1985, the Cars performed at the Live Aid concert before recording a new song, "Tonight She Comes" for their Greatest Hits package.

The Greatest Hits album has now sold over six million copies.  Members of the group again went outside the group, with Ocasek, Orr and Easton all releasing solo albums.  In 1987, the Cars released the album Door to Door, which went Gold.

In early 1988, the Cars announced their breakup.
In 1995, the Cars released Just What I Needed:  The Cars Anthology.  Orr released seven solo albums before his death of pancreatic cancer in 2000.  Ocasek also released seven solo albums.  Easton and Hawkes formed the New Cars with Todd Rundgren, among others.

In 2010, the four surviving members reunited, with Hawkes and producer Jacknife Lee playing the bass parts on the Cars album Move Like This, released the next year.  A short tour followed, but the group has not recorded or played concerts since.
The Cars scored 16 career hits, with four Top 10 songs.  They excelled on the Mainstream Rock chart, with 15 hits, 6 of those going Top 10 and 3 all the way to #1.

Six of their seven studio albums have gone Gold, five have sold over one million copies and four of them are Multi-Platinum.  

The Cars were nominated for four Grammy Awards in their career and won one MTV Video Music Award from five nominations.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Styx, The #78 Artist of the Rock Era

"Definitely one of the best bands ever."

"What a band!!!"

"Immeasurable talent."

"Long live Styx!  The best music!"

"Always loved Styx's excellent soaring harmonies."

"They were true visionaries."

"Undeniable talent."

"Styx is one of greatest bands of all-time."

"The sheer artistry of this group is mind-blowing."

"These guys were a fantastic band, especially live."

This great group formed in Chicago, Illinois in 1962 when brothers Chuck (bass) and John Panozzo (drums) and neighbor Dennis DeYoung (vocals and keyboards) started under the name the Tradewinds.  Chuck briefly left for seminary school but  returned, and took up bass as Tom Nardini, who had replaced him, played lead guitar.  

In 1965, the group changed their name to TW4 (There Were 4) after another group called the Trade Winds became known.  The next year, the Panozzo brothers and DeYoung were at Chicago State College and did gigs at high schools at fraternity parties while they studied to become teachers.  

In 1969, Nardini left, replaced by John Curulewski.  The group added another guitarist in 1970, James "J.Y." Young.  After being seen by a talent scout at a show in Western Springs, Illinois, the group signed a recording contract with Wooden Nickel Records.  At that time, the members decided to select a new name, and settled on Styx because it was, as DeYoung stated, "the only one that none of us hated."
Styx released their self-titled album in 1972, which generated a fan base in Chicago but failed to break the group.  Styx II in 1973 and The Serpent Is Rising in 1973 experienced similar results.

Then, "Lady" from Styx II began receiving radio airplay, first on WLS in Chicago, and other stations in the U.S. quickly followed suit.  It became a big hit in 1975, almost two years after the album was released.  "Lady" continually climbed up to #6 (underrated even at that peak) and sold over one million copies.  Styx was on their way.

The popularity of "Lady" opened doors for the group and they signed with A&M to release their next album, Equinox.  "Lorelei" reached #27, another of several songs Styx recorded in their career that would be underrated.  
Just as Styx was set to go on a national tour late in the year, Curulewski left.  Being that the tour dates were already set and they were fast approaching, Styx conducted a pressure-packed search to find a new lead guitarist and chose Tommy Shaw.

Shaw began exerting an influence on the 1976 album Crystal Ball.  His song "Mademoiselle" was another underrated song at #36.

Shaw also wrote and sang on the great title track.

In 1977, Styx released the compilation Best of Styx (which includes only those songs on Wooden Nickel Records) prior to releasing the studio album The Grand Illusion.  Although their earlier material contains some of the group's best work, most notably Equinox, it was The Grand Illusion which catapulted them to superstardom.  "Come Sail Away" gave the group their second Top 10 hit and peaked at #8.

Shaw's "Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man) peaked at #29.

Styx continued that success with the album Pieces of Eight, which moved the band towards hard rock.  "Renegade" made it to #16.

Styx released "Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)" as the next single, which reached #21.

"Sing For The Day", another Shaw song, is a solid track on the album.

In 1979, Styx released Cornerstone, probably their best album since Equinox.  "Babe" became the group's biggest hit, sold over one million copies and earned a People's Choice Award for Best New Song.
Cornerstone garnered #2 in the United States on the Album chart.  Styx was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group and engineers Gary Loizzo and Rob Kingsland were nominated for Best Engineered Recording.

Disagreement over the direction of the band led to tensions between Shaw and DeYoung which have lasted to this day.  DeYoung also wanted to keep ballads in their repertoire with Shaw and Young favoring nothing but hard rock.  DeYoung argued for "First Time" as the follow-up to "Babe".  "First Time" became a big hit in the Philippines.  

In 1981, Styx released Paradise Theatre, its first and only #1 album.  "The Best Of Times" landed at #3.

Styx became the first group to have four consecutive Multi-Platinum albums.

Shaw's "Too Much Time On My Hands" hit #9, and Paradise Theatre became Styx's fourth consecutive Platinum album.

"Rockin' The Paradise" was a popular album track.
In 1983, Styx released Kilroy Was Here, another concept album to follow-up Paradise Theatre.  The album was set in a future in which Rock music was outlawed because of the efforts of a charismatic evangelist, Dr. Everett Righteous.

Kilroy Was Here gave Styx a fifth consecutive Platinum album.  "Mr. Roboto" raced to #3 and sold over one million copies.

"Don't Let It End" rose to #6.  Loizzo, Will Rascati and Rob Kinsland were nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Engineered Recording for their work on the album.

Styx toured in support of the album with an elaborate stage show.  "Mr. Roboto" featured DeYoung singing while disguised as a Roboto.  Young appeared as Dr. Righteous while the Panozzo brothers acted as his henchmen.

The tensions already present were brought to a head on the tour, and Shaw left for a solo career after the conclusion of the tour.

In 1984, Styx released the live album Caught in the Act, but by the time of release, the group had already broken up.

DeYoung and Shaw released solo albums and Young followed with the first of two solo releases in 1985.  In 1989, Shaw co-founded Damn Yankees, while the other members of the group planned for a comeback.

In 1989, Styx reunited with the exception of Shaw, recruiting Glen Burtnik as the new guitarist.  The group released the album Edge of the Century, which has been certified Gold.  

Styx joined a limited group of artists to score a Top 10 hit in three different decades, and the album went Gold.  Despite the success of their latest effort, Styx was dropped from A&M after a 15-year association after the label was purchased by PolyGram.

Styx attempted to land a new contract but grunge was the temporary flavor and Styx disbanded.
In 1995, the group released their Greatest Hits compilation, which is today a two-million seller.  Shaw joined the group for a reunion and a tour ensued in 1996, but John Panozzo couldn't take part due to problems with alcohol, which took his life later in the year.  Todd Sucherman replaced Panozzo on the tour and the album Return to Paradise, which went Gold.
In 1999, Styx released their first studio album in nearly 10 years, Brave New World.  But those long-present disagreements continued, and for the first time, DeYoung wasn't the main producer on a Styx album.

DeYoung developed an illness which temporarily made his eyes sensitive to light, and the other members of the group replaced him on an upcoming tour by Lawrence Gowan rather than wait for DeYoung to heal.

DeYoung joined the group for a performance on the Children's Miracle Network Telethon in 1999.  Afterward, Burtnik returned to the group on bass with Chuck Panozzo infected by HIV.  Styx released the album Cyclorama in 2003 but it failed.

Styx released an album of remakes, Big Bang Theory, which made it inside the Top 50 of the Album chart.
Since then, Styx has toured with the likes of Foreigner, REO Speedwagon and Def Leppard.

Styx has tallied 24 career hits with 8 Top 10's and one #1 song.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Paul Simon, The #79 Artist of the Rock Era

"Our generation benefited so from this great artist."

"He is a ridiculously gifted lyricist, and a great vocalist. The combination is amazing."

"A Master in our day. His poetry is from another world."

"Mr Simon..... there is no one who so clearly and correctly captures the feelings and thoughts of so many people."

"Paul Simon, maybe the greatest lyricist of all time!"

"His music has been an inspiration for our lifetimes."

"So profound, deep, philosophical, Paul's and is transcendent and his lyrics will be taught in Englist Literature classes in 6016."

"Paul is a veritable gold mine of profound philosophical thinking and of life's vagaries."

"His music is carved on the billboards of everybody's mind."

"Paul Simon songs have dealt with relevant social issues for 40 + years in calming, harmonic melodies that are timeless and uplifting."

This genius was born October 13, 1941 in Newark, New Jersey.  He moved with his family to Queens, New York in 1945 and became interested in music and baseball.  He met Art Garfunkel when he was 11; they both performed in a school production of Alice in Wonderland and began singing together two years later.

Paul wrote his first song called "The Girl For Me", which he later copyrighted and is now in the U.S. Library of Congress.  A few years later, Simon & Garfunkel recorded "Hey, Schoolgirl" as Tom & Jerry, a #49 song.

Simon graduated from Forest Hills High School and earned an English literature degree at Queens College.  He briefly went to Brooklyn Law School but his love of music soon led him to pursue a career in Rock & Roll instead.  After writing nearly 30 songs, Paul's songwriting ability impressed the brass at Columbia Records and Simon & Garfunkel signed a recording contract in 1964.

With Garfunkel, Paul Simon enjoyed great success as a duo from 1964-1970, achieving three of The Top 15 Songs of the Rock Era* in "Bridge Over Troubled Water", "The Sound Of Silence" and "Mrs. Robinson", scoring eight Top 10 hits and winning 14 Grammy Awards.  The duo broke up in 1970 at the height of their popularity, and Simon began a solo career.

Simon released his debut album in January 1972, which was widely praised by critics for the variety of styles on the project.  This included Paul's Jamaican-inspired "Mother And Child Reunion", #3 in Norway, #4 in the United States and Canada, #5 in the U.K. and Australia and #6 in the Netherlands.  It has gone over two million in radio airplays.

"Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard" continued the momentum, reaching #6 on the Easy Listening chart although it's peak of #22 on the Popular chart easily makes it one of The Top Unknown/Underrated Songs of the Rock Era*.

The album sold over one million copies and reached #1 in the U.K. Finland, Norway and Sweden and #4 in the United States.  "Duncan" is another great track on the album.

Simon followed that album up with There Goes Rhymin' Simon, another Platinum album released in 1973.  The first single, "Kodachrome", became one of his biggest solo hits, soaring to #1 in Canada, #2 in the U.S. and #8 in France.  The song has now gone over three million in radio airplays.

"Loves Me Like A Rock", with the Dixie Hummingbirds on backing vocals, quickly becoming Simon's third solo Top 10, reaching #2 in the United States and #5 in Canada.

The song has topped the three-million mark in radio airplay.  "American Tune" is another highlight of the album.

"Something So Right" was nominated for Best Song of the Year at the Grammy Awards.

Written in the wake of his divorce, the album Still Crazy After All These Years, one of Paul's finest works.  "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover" topped charts in the U.S. and Canada and hit #2 in France.

Simon won Grammy Awards for Album of the Year and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance and a BMI Pop Award for two million radio airplays for "50 Ways".  The album, which went Gold, also highlights the memorable title song.  It features more amazing Simon lyrics but with a peak of #40, is another highly underrated song, as evidenced by the fact that it has exceeded one million radio airplays.  

The song "Gone At Last" received a BMI Pop Award.  Paul organized a benefit concert at Madison Square Garden to raise money for the New York Public Library, and over $30,000 was raised.

Simon wrote music for the movie Shampoo and starred in the movie Annie Hall.  In 1977, he released the compilation Greatest Hits, Etc., and from that album, the new song "Slip Slidin' Away" became a huge hit, going to #4 on the Adult Contemporary chart and #5 overall in the U.S. and #2 in Canada.

The classic song has topped two million in radio airplay.  Meanwhile, Simon joined with James Taylor and Garfunkel on Art's 1978 album Watermark.  The remake of "Wonderful World" became a huge Adult Contemporary hit that peaked at #17 overall.

In 1980, Simon switched to Warner Brothers Records and released the album One-Trick Pony, his first in nearly five years.  Simon also wrote and starred in the movie of the same name.  The single "Late In The Evening" reached #6 and has exceeded one million radio airplays.  

Simon was nominated for Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television Special at the Grammy Awards.  He released the album Hearts and Bones, which failed to sell at the time but since has gained in stature.  A highlight of the album is "The Late Great Johnny Ace", partially written about R&B singer Johnny Ace and partly about John Lennon, who had died just prior to Simon recording it.  

As part of the creme de la creme of songwriters in music history, Paul was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1982.

In 1985, Simon was one of the voices behind the great #1 song "We Are The World".

But Simon was disappointed with the commercial failure of Hearts and Bones and felt the chances of returning to hit songs were small.  One day in 1984, Simon listened to a cassette of the instrumental Gumboots:  Accordion Jive Volume II by the Boyoyo Boys, a South African group.  Paul was intrigued by the unusual sound and wrote lyrics to the song.

Buoyed by what he had just written, Simon traveled to South Africa to further explore the music and culture that would comprise his next album.  He collaborated with some of the top South African musicians and groups and began recording in Johannesburg in February of 1985.

The result was the landmark album Graceland, although Warner Brothers didn't know if such an eclectic album would find much footing in the mainstream.  Nevertheless, the album was released in 1986 and became the highlight of Simon's solo career.  

"You Can Call Me Al" reached #2 in Australia, #4 in the U.K. and #5 in the Netherlands.  Simon received a BMI Award when the song exceeded radio airplay of two million.  The accompanying music video starred comedian Chevy Chase, which gave Simon important exposure to a new generation of music fans on MTV.

Graceland reached #1 in many countries, including the U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and peaked at #3 in the U.S.  The title song was highly underrated at #81.

The album sold over five million copies in the United States and over 16 million worldwide and was the second-best-selling album of 1987.  Those facts seem to mock Billboard's peak of #86 for  the incredible song "The Boy In The Bubble", which feature some of the best lyrics of Simon's career.

Although the album represented experimentation into new music, Graceland put Paul back in the spotlight.  He captured Grammy Awards for Album of the Year and Record of the Year (for "Graceland") and an American Music Award for Favorite Pop/Rock Album.  "Homeless" is another solid track.

Simon was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Music degree from the Berklee College of Music.  Another noteworthy song on the album is "Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes".
The compilation Negotiations and Love Songs, which contained hits as well as Paul's personal favorites, became a big-seller.

Simon continued to explore with the Brazilian-flavored album The Rhythm of the Saints, released in 1990.  The album went to #1 in the U.K. and #4 in the United States and was certified Double Platinum.  Simon was nominated for another Grammy Award for Album of the Year.

Paul's ex wife Carrie Fisher states in her autobiography Wishful Drinking that the song "She Moves On" is about her.  Fisher writes "If you can get Paul Simon to write a song about you, do it.  Because he is so brilliant at it."
Simon, who had reunited with Garfunkel for a legendary free concert at Central Park in Manhattan, New York, performed in 1991 with African and South American bands.  The show drew over 750,000 people, one of the largest concert audiences in history.  The success of the concert led to a live album and an Emmy Award-winning television special.

Simon & Garfunkel reunited again in 1993 and Simon released the box set Paul Simon 1964/1993.  Meanwhile, Paul worked on The Capeman, a musical that he finally finished later in the decade for it to open on January 29, 1998.  Despite his great amount of work, the show closed after just 68 performances.  Simon recorded an album of songs from the show, but it too failed, as Paul fell short of the Top 40 for the first time in his career.

Paul received the Johnny Mercer Award on June 10, 1998 from the Songwriters Hall of Fame.  Simon joined Bob Dylan in a co-headlining tour of North America that allowed fans to see two legends in the same show.
In 2000, Simon released the album You're the One, nominated for Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards.  Simon was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001 and was named as MusiCares Person of the Year.  On September 21, 2002, Simon sang "Bridge Over Troubled Water" for the broadcast "America:  A Tribute to Heroes", in the wake of the September 11 mass murders.

In 2002, Paul recorded "Father And Daughter" for the animated The Wild Thornberrys Movie, nominated for Best Song at the Academy Awards and the Golden Globe Awards, then once again reunited with Garfunkel for another tour.  Simon was recognized at the Kennedy Center Honors, the nation's highest tribute to performing and cultural artists.  

The following year, Simon's studio albums were released as the nine-CD boxed set Paul Simon:  The Studio Recordings 1972-2000.  In 2005, Simon was named a BMI Icon at their annual Pop Awards.

Simon released the album Surprise in 2006.

Simon was named as one of the "100 People Who Shaped the World" by Time magazine in 2006.  In 2007, Paul became the first honoree of the recently created Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

In 2010, Simon received an honorary degree from Brandeis University.
In 2011, he released the album So Beautiful or So What and toured the U.S., England, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland.  On September 11 of 2011, Paul performed "The Sound Of Silence" at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum on the 10th anniversary of the September 11 murders.

In 2012, Paul was awarded the Polar Music Prize.  He won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Sound Mixing for Nonfiction Programming for the documentary Graceland Journey:  Under African Skies.  In 2014, Simon toured with Sting for concerts in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.  The next year, Paul performed with Billy Joel at the final concert of Nassau Coliseum.

In 2016, Simon released the album Stranger to Stranger, #1 in the U.K. and #3 in the United States.

Paul co-founded The Children's Health Fund with Dr. Irwin Redlener, which brings health care to the poor throughout the United States.  In the 20 years since the fund was founded, it has provided over 1.2 million doctor/patient visits.  The Children's Health Fund was the primary health care source for the communities affected by Hurricanes Andrew and Katrina.  

Paul has also raised millions of dollars for AMFAR, THe Nature Conservance, The Fund for Imprisoned Children in South Africa and Autism Speaks.  Paul received the Frederick D. Patterson Award from the United Negro College Fund in 1989 for efforts made by Simon on their behalf.

Simon's music has received over 75 million airplays as of 2005, according to Broadcast Music, Incorporated.  Paul is widely regarded as one of the best lyricists of all-time, and in an interview reprinted in American Songwriter, Simon discussed his songwriting process:

"The music always precedes the words. The words often come from the sound of the music and eventually evolve into coherent thoughts. Or incoherent thoughts. Rhythm plays a crucial part in the lyric-making as well. It's like a puzzle to find the right words to express what the music is saying." 

Simon has scored 19 solo hits, including six Top 10's and one #1 song.  He has won 13 Grammys for his solo career and work with Garfunkel, including a Lifetime Achievement Award.  Simon's album Still Crazy After All These Years was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2003 and his classic Graceland album was inducted in 2012.  A Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee for both his solo career and his work with Garfunkel, Paul has won 39 BMI Pop Awards, two Emmy Awards and been nominated for an award at the Academy and Golden Globe Awards.  

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Tina Turner, The #80 Artist of the Rock Era

"The woman with the legendary voice and legs."

"Tina is a legend."

"Tina Turner is nothing short of amazing."

"One of the greatest ever."

"Fantastic singer."

"Awesome performer."

"Legend legend legend."

"Her voice was magic and she had an explosive stage performance."

"One of the best and truly modern women in the history of popular music."

" A real powerhouse of a songstress, the true definition of a diva."

Anna Bullock was born November 26, 1939 in Nutbush, Tennessee.  Separated from her parents when they moved to Knoxville to work at a defense facility during World War II, Anna and her sister Aillene went to live with her father's grandparents.  After the war, the sisters moved to Knoxville to join their parents.  Two years later, the family moved back to Nutbush.

Bullock sang in the church choir at Spring Hill Baptist Church.  When she was 11, her mother left the house to avoid an abusive relationship with her father.  Two years later, Anna and her sister were sent to live with their grandmother in Brownsville, Tennessee.  Anna was a cheerleader and a member of the girl's basketball team at Carver High School.  However, her grandmother died in her sophomore year, so Anna moved to St. Louis to be with her mother.  She graduated from Sumner High School and after graduation, worked as a nurse's aide with the hopes of becoming a nurse.  

Bullock met Ike Turner at a St. Louis nightclub when she saw his band, the Kings of Rhythm, perform.  Anna felt the urge to get up on stage and sing with the group.  One night during intermission at the club, the drummer gave Anna a microphone.  Ike asked if she knew any other songs, she could sing.  From that night on, Bullock was a guest vocalist. 

Soon, Ike sent a tape of Anna's singing to Sue Records.  At this time, Turner convinced Anna to change her stage name to Tina Turner.  After a couple of R&B hits and minor popular hits, Ike & Tina signed with Loma Records, a subsidiary of Warner Brothers, and ended up signing with 10 labels over the next several years.  The couple married in 1962. 
The couple charted 20 times through 1974, and are best known for their version of the Creedence Clearwater Revival classic "Proud Mary". 

In 1974, Tina released her first solo album, Tina Turns the Country On!, which was nominated for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance at the Grammy Awards.   Later in the year, she traveled to London to play The Acid Queen in the filming of the rock musical Tommy.  Upon returning to the United States, Turner continued performing with Ike in the Ike & Tina Turner Revue.  She released a second solo album, Acid Queen, in 1975.

Ike increasingly used cocaine, leading to shows canceled.  As we later learned from Tina, there were several incidents of domestic abuse against her.  In 1976, Ike and Tina had a bloody fight while riding to a hotel in Dallas, Texas.  Soon after the arrived at the hotel, Tina ran off and found refuge at a friend's house.  On July 27, Tina sued for divorce.
In 1977, Tina received financial backing from Richard Stewart, an executive at United Artists, which allowed her to perform in Las Vegas, Nevada.  She began performing at other venues around the United States and appeared on several television shows.  By the end of the year, Turner headlined a solo concert tour in Australia.

In 1978, Tina released the albums Rough and Love Explosion, but neither caught on.  Turner left the label and signed a management contract with Olivia Newton-John's manager, Roger Davies, in 1980.  By 1981, Turner opened for Rod Stewart on a tour of the United States.  Following several more short tours, Turner signed a singles only contract with Capitol Records.  She was about to make one of the most astounding comebacks in the Rock Era.

In 1983, Turner released a remake of the Al Green smash "Let's Stay Together", her first single to reach the Top 40 in 13 attempts that also rose to #4 in the Netherlands and #6 in the U.K.  The response to the song was so strong that Capitol drew up a new deal with Tina that included an agreement to record three albums.  Turner recorded an album in two months and released Private Dancer in 1984.

Turner released the single "What's Love Got To Do With It", which rushed to #1 in the United States, Canada and Australia, #3 in the U.K., #4 in Austria, #7 in West Germany and #8 in Switzerland.  The song sold over one million copies in Tina's best market, the United States.

Turner began a world tour in support of the album.  Tina had a strong follow-up in the chute, "Better Be Good To Me".  The single raced to #5 in the U.S., #6 in Canada, and was highly underrated everywhere else.

The album reached #1 in Canada and Austria, #3 in the U.S., and in the Top 10 in every major country except France.  Private Dancer has sold over 20 million copies worldwide.  The title song jumped to #4 in the Netherlands and #7 in the United States. 
It was indeed a huge comeback.  Turner scored American Music Awards for Favorite Soul/R&B Female Artist and Favorite Soul/R&B Female Video Artist and was nominated for Favorite Pop/Rock Female Video Artist.  Tina was nominated for six Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance (for "Let's Stay Together") and Best Short Form Music Video (for "Private Dancer"), and won trophies for Record of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "What's Love Got To Do With It" and Best Female Rock Vocal Performance for "Better Be Good To Me".  

She won Billboard Music Awards for Artist of the Year, Album of the Year, Female Vocalist of the Year, Soul/R&B Artist of the Year and Comeback of the Year and was nominated for Song of the Year for "What's Love Got To Do With It".  She also won an MTV Video Music Award for Best Female Video for the song.

In 1985, she sang on the classic U.S.A. for Africa charity single "We Are The World".  She starred with Mel Gibson in the movie Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome and recorded two songs for the soundtrack album.  "We Don't Need Another Hero" topped charts in Germany, Canada, Australia and Switzerland, and hit #2 in the United States and Austria, #3 in the U.K. and France and #7 in the Netherlands.

Tina was nominated for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the Grammy Awards and for Best Female Video at the MTV Video Music Awards.  The single "One Of The Living" landed in the Top 10 in some markets but peaked at #15 in the U.S.  It earned Turner another Grammy for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance.
Tina was nominated for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the Grammy Awards and for Best Original Song at the Golden Globe Awards.
Turner performed at Live Aid and recorded "It's Only Love" with Bryan Adams.  The song did the best in the United States, but even there was an underrated #15.  It was nominated for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.  Tina and Bryan won an MTV Video Music Award for Best Stage Performance in a Video.

Tina captured the American Music Award for Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist.  In 1986, Turner released her autobiography, I, Tina, which became a best-seller.  She released the album Break Every Rule.  The lead single "Typical Male" rushed to #2 in the U.S. and Switzerland, #3 in West Germany and #6 in Austria.

"Two People" gave Tina another Top hit in West Germany and Switzerland, but was an underrated #30 in the United States.

She pulled another hit with "What You Get Is What You See", which did the best in the U.S. at #13.

Tina won a Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance (for "Back Where You Started") and was nominated for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "Typical Male".  The album topped the Swiss chart and landed in the Top 10 in every major country except Australia and France.  It has now sold over one million in the U.S. and over four million copies worldwide. 

Tina received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  While performing in 1988, Turner sang to large audiences including an appearance with Paul McCartney in Rio de Janeiro that drew an estimated 184,000 fans.

Turner released the album Foreign Affair, another Gold album.  The single "The Best" reached #2 in Austria, #3 in Canada and Switzerland, #4 in West Germany and Australia and #5 in the U.K. and the Netherlands.  With a peak of #15 in the United States, the song is one of The Top Unknown/Underrated Songs of the Rock Era*.

"Steamy Windows" is another strong song, although it was only a minor hit in every major country in the world.
Foreign Affair went to #1 on the Album charts in U.K. Germany, Switzerland and Austria.  Turner was nominated for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance for her work on the album and earned another nomination in the category for the song "Steamy Windows".

In 1991, Ike and Tina Turner were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, although they only had one song of any lasting significance and Tina has been far more successful than the couple ever were.  Tina received a World Music Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music.  

The movie What's Love Got To Do With It was based on Ike & Tina's life and failed marriage, and Tina recorded the song "I Don't Wanna' Fight" for the soundtrack.  The single hit #1 in Canada, #7 in the U.K. and #9 in the U.S. 

Turner was nominated for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the Grammy Awards.  It was Tina's final Top 10 of her career.  She toured the United States for the first time in seven years, and moved to Switzerland afterwards.
Tina toured Europe to promote the album, which went Gold.  
In 1991, Turner was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  She released her compilation Simply The Best, which went Platinum.  

In 1995, Tina was honored with the Legend Award at the World Music Awards.  In 1996, she released the album Wildest Dreams, #1 in Switzerland and #2 in Austria and Germany but only #61 in the United States.

In 1999, Tina emerged out of the shadows to appear in the Vh-1 special Divas Live '99.  She released the album Twenty Four Seven, another #1 album in Switzerland and #3 in Germany.  The following year, Turner scored the top-grossing tour of the year, as fans paid over $100 million.  
In 2002, a stretch of Tennessee State Route 19 between Brownsville and Nutbush was named "Tina Turner Highway".  In 2004, Tina released her compilation album All the Best, another album to top the one-million mark in sales.

The following year, Tina received Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, D.C.  In 2008, Turner went on her first tour in 10 years to mark her 50th anniversary in the music business.

Tina was fortunate to beat the rush and obtained her Swiss citizenship in 2013 and relinquished her American citizenship.

Turner has accumulated 19 hits, with seven reaching the Top 10 and one #1.
Tina has won three American Music Awards from four nominations, two World Music Awards, seven Grammy Awards from 19 nominations, four Billboard Music Awards out of seven nominations and three MTV Video Music Awards from five nominations.  Turner's song "What's Love Got To Do With It" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.