Saturday, 10 March 2018
Time Is On My Side/Sho' Miss You Baby/It's All Right/You Don't Own Me
The Tremeloes are an English beat group founded in 1958 in Dagenham, Essex, and still active today. They were formed as Brian Poole and the Tremoloes (the spelling "tremoloes" was soon changed because of a spelling mistake in an East London newspaper) influenced by Buddy Holly and the Crickets.
On New Year's Day, 1962, Decca, looking for a Beat group, auditioned two promising young bands: Brian Poole and the Tremeloes and another combo (also heavily influenced by Buddy Holly) from Liverpool, the Beatles. Decca chose Brian Poole and the Tremeloes over the Beatles, reportedly based on location – the Tremeloes were from the London area, making them more accessible than the Liverpool-based Beatles. The original quintet consisted of lead vocalist Brian Poole, lead guitarist Rick West (born Richard Westwood), rhythm guitarist/keyboardist Alan Blakley, bassist Alan Howard and drummer Dave Munden.
With Poole leaving to attempt a solo career (which proved unsuccessful) in 1966, the Tremeloes continued as a four-piece band with a revised line-up (Howard left the band in 1966). Len "Chip" Hawkes, father of 1990s hitmaker Chesney Hawkes, replaced Howard.
Thursday, 1 March 2018
Theme From The Endless Summer/Out Front/Wild As The Sea/Trailing
The Sandals, also known as The Sandells, were an early, influential surf rock band formed in 1964. They are most famous for scoring the surfing documentary The Endless Summer.
The Sandals began in 1962, when Danny Brawner, a drummer, joined a high-school group called The Twangs, headed up by the brothers Gaston and Walter Georis. The Twangs were a group heavily influenced by The Ventures. At this point, the core of The Sandals was formed: Brawner on drums, Gaston on keyboards, Walter on rhythm guitar, John Blakeley on lead guitar with his brother, David, on bass. David was replaced by John Gibson early on. The band changed their name to The Shadows, and eventually settled on The Sandells, a portmanteu of "Sand" and "ells", a popular ending for groups at the time. They released their first album, Scrambler!, in early 1964. They partnered with World Pacific Records for the release, which allowed them to come in contact with Bruce Brown, who was then just beginning editing work on his next documentary project, The Endless Summer.
After The Endless Summer film reached nationwide distribution, The Sandals recorded the song "Endless Summer", one of their first songs with vocals. The song was a departure in a number of ways, and not just relating to the vocals. They were attempting a Beach Boys-esque sound, with mixed results. They also re-released the Scrambler! LP as The Endless Summer, along with new single records similarly retitled.
Soon after the release of the Last of the Ski Bums album, the group broke up. The Georis brothers went on to start a restaurant in Carmel, California; Danny Brawner worked for Mobile Surfboards. John Blakeley remained involved in music, joining Stoneground in 1971.
There have been two reunions to date: in 1992, the Georis brothers and Blakeley reformed the band, and released a few albums, most notably working on The Endless Summer II. They also rerecorded (in 1992) the original album (that includes a few new songs) using some of the original instruments. In 2002, the Georis', Blakeley, Gibson, and Brawner played at the Galaxy Theater in Santa Ana, California, to a packed house.
I Can't Stop Loving You/Born To Lose/Moon Over Miami/Blue Hawaii
Ray Charles Robinson (September 23, 1930 – June 10, 2004), known professionally as Ray Charles, was an American singer-songwriter, musician, and composer. Among friends and fellow musicians he preferred being called "Brother Ray." He was often referred to as "The Genius." Charles was blind from the age of seven.
He pioneered the soul music genre during the 1950s by combining blues, rhythm and blues, and gospel styles into the music he recorded for Atlantic Records. He also contributed to the integration of country music, rhythm and blues and pop music during the 1960s with his crossover success on ABC Records, most notably with his two Modern Sounds albums. While he was with ABC, Charles became one of the first black musicians to be granted artistic control by a mainstream record company.
Charles cited Nat King Cole as a primary influence, but his music was also influenced by country, jazz, blues, and rhythm and blues artists of the day, including Louis Jordan and Charles Brown. He became friends with Quincy Jones. Their friendship lasted until the end of Charles's life. Frank Sinatra called Ray Charles "the only true genius in show business," although Charles downplayed this notion.
In 2002, Rolling Stone ranked Charles number ten on its list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time", and number two on their November 2008 list of the "100 Greatest Singers of All Time." Billy Joel observed, "This may sound like sacrilege, but I think Ray Charles was more important than Elvis Presley".
Don't Bring Me Down/Big Boss Man/Rosalyn/We'll Be Together
The Pretty Things were the also-rans of the British Invasion, a band that never got its due. Despite this lack of recognition, they were never quite ignored, cultivating a passionate cult that stuck with them through the decades -- a cult that was drawn to either their vicious early records, where they sometimes seemed like a meaner version of the Rolling Stones, or to their 1968 psychedelic masterwork S.F. Sorrow. Some of their fans advocate for the entirety of their catalog, noting how the group adeptly shifted with the times. Despite these shifts in style, they rarely racked up hits on either side of the Atlantic. In the United States, they didn't chart until 1975, a full decade after they released their rough-and-tumble debut. Back then, the Pretty Things seemed like rivals to the Rolling Stones and that was no great leap: guitarist Dick Taylor played bass in the first incarnation of the Stones, not long before he teamed up with Phil May to form the Pretty Things in 1963. Taking their name from a Bo Diddley song, the Pretty Things were intentionally ugly: their sound was brutish, their hair longer than any of their contemporaries, their look unkempt. This nastiness was evident on their first pair of singles, "Rosalyn" and "Don't Bring Me Down," two 45s that charted in 1964, their success helping to get their eponymous debut into the U.K. Top Ten a year later, but that turned out to be the extent of their commercial success.
"Rosalyn," the group's first single, peaked at 41 in 1964 but "Don't Bring Me Down" went to ten and "Honey I Need" topped out at 13 in 1965. These three singles helped the group's self-titled debut reach number six on the U.K. album charts, but with success came some turbulence. Drummer Prince left toward the end of 1965 and was succeeded by Skip Alan, while the group's 1966 album Get the Picture? showed the rough, ragged rock & roll group adopting a slight pop art stance.More lineup changes soon followed -- Pendleton and Stax left by early 1967, with John Povey and Wally Waller taking their place -- and Fontana pushed the group in a softer, string-laden direction for that year's Emotions. This wasn't a hit and the Pretty Things soon lost drummer Alan and decamped for EMI's Columbia, where they recorded what is roundly regarded as their masterpiece, S.F. Sorrow. Appearing at the end of 1968, S.F. Sorrow is by many measures the first rock opera, earning a big cult but not selling much.
The lack of success led to a temporary disbandment, but they regrouped for a new contract with Warner that was inaugurated with Freeway Madness in 1972. Next, they teamed up with manager Peter Grant -- the giant behind Led Zeppelin -- and were signed to Swan Song, which released Silk Torpedo in 1974 and Savage Eye in 1976. These harder, heavier records were a bigger success in America than any previous Pretty Things LP, but it wasn't enough to keep the group together: they split up in 1976.
Tuesday, 6 February 2018
Dance On/All Day/Guitar Tango/Oh What A Lovely Tune
The Shadows are an English instrumental rock group, and were Cliff Richard's backing band from 1958 to 1968, (though they have collaborated again on numerous reunion tours). The Shadows have placed 69 UK charted singles from the 1950s to the 2000s, 35 credited to the Shadows and 34 to Cliff Richard and the Shadows. The group, who were in the forefront of the UK beat-group boom, were the first backing band to emerge as stars. As pioneers of the four-member instrumental format, the band consisted of lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass guitar and drums. Their range covers pop, rock, surf rock and ballads with a jazz influence.
The Shadows are the third most successful act in the UK singles chart, behind Elvis Presley and Cliff Richard. The Shadows and Cliff Richard & the Shadows each have had four No. 1 selling EPs.
"Dance On!" is an instrumental by the British instrumental group, The Shadows. It went to number 1 in the UK Singles Chart and the Irish Singles Chart it also made number 7 on the Australian charts.
Sunday, 4 February 2018
Big Yellow Taxi/The Circle Game/Carey/Woodstock
Roberta Joan "Joni" Mitchell, CC (née Anderson; born November 7, 1943) is a Canadian singer-songwriter. Rolling Stone called her "one of the greatest songwriters ever", and AllMusic has stated, "When the dust settles, Joni Mitchell may stand as the most important and influential female recording artist of the late 20th century". Drawing from folk, pop, rock, and jazz, Mitchell's songs often reflect social and environmental ideals as well as her feelings about romance, confusion, disillusionment, and joy. She has received many accolades, including 9 Grammy Awards.
Around 1975, Mitchell's vocal range began to shift from mezzo-soprano to more of a wide-ranging contralto. Her distinctive piano and open-tuned guitar compositions also grew more harmonically and rhythmically complex as she explored jazz, melding it with influences of rock and roll, R&B, classical music and non-western beats. In the late 1970s, she began working closely with noted jazz musicians, among them Jaco Pastorius, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, as well as Charles Mingus, who asked her to collaborate on his final recordings. She later turned again toward pop, embraced electronic music, and engaged in political protest. In 2002, she was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 44th Annual Grammy Awards.
Mitchell is the sole producer credited on most of her albums, including all her work in the 1970s. A blunt critic of the music industry, she quit touring and released her 17th, and reportedly last, album of original songs in 2007. With roots in visual art, Mitchell has designed most of her own album covers. She describes herself as a "painter derailed by circumstance".
Saturday, 3 February 2018
The Revolution Kind/Laugh At Me/Tony/Georgia and John Quetzal
Salvatore Phillip "Sonny" Bono February 16, 1935 – January 5, 1998) was an American singer, musician, songwriter, producer, actor, and politician who came to fame in partnership with his second wife Cher, as the popular singing duo Sonny & Cher. He was mayor of Palm Springs, California from 1988 to 1992, and congressman for California's 44th district from 1995 until his death in 1998. The United States Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998, which extended the term of copyright by 20 years, was named in honor of Bono when it was passed by Congress nine months after his death. Bono had been one of the original sponsors of the legislation, commonly known as the Bono Act.
Bono began his music career as a songwriter at Specialty Records, where his song "Things You Do to Me" was recorded by Sam Cooke, and went on to work for record producer Phil Spector in the early 1960s as a promotion man, percussionist and "gofer". One of his earliest songwriting efforts, "Needles and Pins" was co-written with Jack Nitzsche, another member of Spector's production team. Later in the same decade, he achieved commercial success with his then-wife Cher in the singing duo Sonny and Cher. Bono wrote, arranged, and produced a number of hit records including the singles "I Got You Babe" and "The Beat Goes On", although Cher received more attention as a performer. He played a major part in Cher's solo recording career, writing and producing singles including "Bang Bang" and "You Better Sit Down Kids".
Sonny continued to work with Cher through the early and mid-1970s, starring in a popular television variety show, The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, which ran on CBS from 1971 to 1974. From 1976 to 1977, the duo, since divorced, returned to perform together on The Sonny and Cher Show. Their last appearance together was on Late Night with David Letterman on November 13, 1987, on which they sang "I Got You Babe".
Film and television
Bono guest-starred as himself on The Golden Girls episode "Mrs. George Devereaux" (originally broadcast November 17, 1990), in which he vied with Lyle Waggoner for Dorothy's (Bea Arthur) affection in a dream sequence. In Blanche's (Rue McClanahan) dream, her husband is still alive, and Bono uses his power as Mayor of Palm Springs to have Waggoner falsely arrested so he can have Dorothy to himself.
Don't Blame The Children/Sam's Song/Talk To The Animals/Hey There
Recognized throughout much of his career as "the world's greatest living entertainer," Sammy Davis, Jr. was a remarkably popular and versatile performer equally adept at acting, singing, dancing, and impersonations -- in short, a variety artist in the classic tradition. A member of the famed Rat Pack, he was among the very first African-American talents to find favor with audiences on both sides of the color barrier, and remains a perennial icon of cool. Born in Harlem on December 8, 1925, Davis made his stage debut at the age of three performing with Holiday in Dixieland, a black vaudeville troupe featuring his father and helmed by his de facto uncle, Will Mastin; dubbed "Silent Sam, the Dancing Midget," he proved phenomenally popular with audiences and the act was soon renamed Will Mastin's Gang Featuring Little Sammy. At the age of seven, Davis made his film debut in the legendary musical short Rufus Jones for President, and later received tap-dancing lessons courtesy of the great Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. In 1941, the Mastin Gang opened for Tommy Dorsey at Detroit's Michigan Theater; there Davis first met Dorsey vocalist Frank Sinatra -- the beginning of a lifelong friendship.
Scarborough Fair/Bim Bom/Cinnamon And Clove/Watch What Happens
Sérgio Santos Mendes (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈsɛʁʒju ˈsɐ̃tuʒ ˈmẽdʒiʃ]; born February 11, 1941) is a Brazilian musician. He has over 55 releases, and plays bossa nova heavily crossed with jazz and funk. He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 2012 as co-writer of the song "Real in Rio" from the animated film Rio.
Mendes is married to Gracinha Leporace, who has performed with him since the early 1970s. Mendes has also collaborated with many artists through the years, including The Black Eyed Peas, with whom he re-recorded in 2006 a version of his breakthrough hit "Mas Que Nada".
Mendes formed the Sexteto Bossa Rio and recorded Dance Moderno in 1961. Touring Europe and the United States, Mendes recorded albums with Cannonball Adderley and Herbie Mann and played Carnegie Hall. Mendes moved to the U.S. in 1964 and cut two albums under the Sergio Mendes & Brasil '65 group name with Capitol Records and Atlantic Records.
All of Mendes' jazz albums for Atlantic Records, through Nesuhi and Ahmet Ertegun, had low sales. Richard Adler suggested that Mendes and the group sing in English, as well as Portuguese that Mendes had demanded, and Adler sought new English-based material such as "Going Out of My Head" by Teddy Randazzo and Bobby Weinstein. In order to sing these songs properly in English, Adler suggested that the group find two American girl singers who would sing in both English and Portuguese. Adler called his friend Jerry Dennon, and A&M Records founders Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss, and arranged for an audition for Mendes' new group, which was dubbed "Brasil '66.'" Alpert and Moss signed Mendes and his group to A&M Records. Adler then went to the Ertegun Brothers at Atlantic Records and sought to have them release Mendes from his Atlantic Jazz contract. Ahmet agreed to allow him to record albums under name "Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66" with A&M. Mendes was not at this meeting, only Adler and Ahmet Ertegun. Alpert took over as producer for the A&M albums, and the group became a huge success with their first single, "Mas Que Nada", by writer Jorge Ben.
The first album on A&M was Herb Alpert Presents Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66, an album that went platinum based largely on the success of the single "Mas Que Nada" (a Jorge Ben cover) and the personal support of Alpert, with whom Mendes toured.
The original lineup of Brasil '66 was Mendes (piano), vocalists Lani Hall and Bibi Vogel (later replaced by Janis Hansen), Bob Matthews (bass), José Soares (percussion) and João Palma (drums). John Pisano played guitar. This new line-up including Hansen then recorded two more albums between 1966–1968 (including the best-selling Look Around LP), before there was a major personnel change for their fourth album Fool on the Hill.
Mendes' career in the U.S. stalled in the mid-1970s, but he remained very popular in South America and Japan. His two albums with Bell Records in 1973 and 1974 followed by several for Elektra from 1975 on, found Mendes continuing to mine the best in American pop music and post-Bossa writers of his native Brazil, while forging new directions in soul with collaborators like Stevie Wonder, who wrote Mendes' R&B-inflected minor hit, "The Real Thing."
By the time Mendes released his Grammy-winning Elektra album Brasileiro in 1992, he was the undisputed master of pop-inflected Brazilian jazz. The late-1990s lounge music revival brought retrospection and respect to Mendes' oeuvre, particularly the classic Brasil '66 albums.
Rockin' Robin/In Our Small Way/Got To Be There/Wanna Be Where You Are
Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009) was an American singer, songwriter, and dancer. Dubbed the "King of Pop", he was one of the most popular entertainers in the world, and was the best-selling music artist during the year of his death. Jackson's contributions to music, dance, and fashion along with his publicized personal life made him a global figure in popular culture for over four decades.
I'm The Urban Spaceman/I Want To Be With You/Mr. Apollo/We Were Wrong
Besides, perhaps, the Mothers of Invention (with whom they were sometimes compared), the Bonzo Dog Band were the most successful group to combine rock music and comedy. Starting off as the Bonzo Dog Dada Band, then becoming the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, and then finally just the Bonzo Dog Band, the group was started by British art college students in the mid-'60s. Initially they were inclined toward trad jazz and vaudevillian routines, but by the time of their 1967 debut album, they were leaning further in pop and rock directions. A brief appearance in the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour film bolstered their visibility, and Paul McCartney (under the pseudonym Apollo C. Vermouth) produced their single "I'm the Urban Spaceman," which reached the British Top Five in 1968.
Solitary Man/I Got The Feeling (Oh No No)/Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon/Cherry Cherry
Neil Leslie Diamond (born January 24, 1941) is an American singer-songwriter, musician and actor. With 38 songs in the Top 10 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary charts, he has sold more than 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling musicians of all time.
Diamond was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1984 and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011. Additionally, he received the Sammy Cahn Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000 and in 2011 was an honoree at Kennedy Center, he will be honoured by The Recording Academy with the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018. On the Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts, he has had ten No. 1 singles: "Cracklin' Rosie", "Song Sung Blue", "Longfellow Serenade", "I've Been This Way Before", "If You Know What I Mean", "Desiree", "You Don't Bring Me Flowers", "America", "Yesterday's Songs", and "Heartlight". In January 2018, it was announced that Diamond would receive the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
"Solitary Man" was written by American musician Neil Diamond, who recorded the song for Bang Records in February 1966. It has since been covered many times by such artists as Billy Joe Royal, B.J. Thomas, Jay and the Americans, T. G. Sheppard, Gianni Morandi, The Sidewinders, Chris Isaak, Johnny Cash, Johnny Rivers, HIM, Crooked Fingers, Cliff Richard, Ólöf Arnalds, Theuns Jordaan, and Farhad Mehrad.
Recorded in February 1966 and initially released on Bang Records in April 1966, "Solitary Man" was Diamond's debut single as a recording artist, having already had moderate--but accidental--success as a songwriter for other artists; their versions of the songs he had already written and composed were released before his own versions of them were. By July, the track had become a minor hit rising to #55 on the U.S. pop singles chart. It would then be included on Diamond's first album, The Feel of Neil Diamond, released in August 1966.
"Cherry, Cherry" is a song written, composed, and recorded in late January 1966 by American musician Neil Diamond. The song (originally intended as a demo) was arranged by Artie Butler and produced by Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich. It was issued as a 45 single in 1966 and became Diamond's first big hit, reaching #6 on both the Billboard Hot 100 chart, in October 1966, and the Cash Box chart. Ellie Greenwich came up with the chorus and can be heard as the prominent background voice, accompanied by Jeff Barry. Neil Diamond has stated that the song was inspired by an early relationship with a significantly older woman.
"Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon" is a song written by American musician Neil Diamond, whose recording of it on Bang Records reached number 10 on the US pop singles chart in 1967. The song enjoyed a second life when it appeared on the 1994 Pulp Fiction soundtrack, performed by rock band Urge Overkill. Other versions have been recorded by Cliff Richard (1968), Jackie Edwards (1968), the Biddu Orchestra (1978), and 16 Volt (1998). The song first appeared on Diamond's album Just for You. The mono and stereo versions of this song differ slightly. On the mono "Just For You" LP as well as on the 45, the strings do not come in until the second verse. It also has a slightly longer fade. The stereo "Just For You" LP version has a shorter fade and the strings come in on the first chorus.
I Got the Feelin' (Oh No No)" charted at #16 in the U.S. and #67 in Australia “I Got the Feelin’ (Oh No No)” was released as Neil Diamond’s third single for Bang Records and gave him his third chart entry Taken from his debut album The Feel of Neil Diamond. The track may not have been intended to be a single initially. It was first released on Diamond’s debut album, The Feel of Neil Diamond (August 1966). As his second single, “Cherry, Cherry,” rose to a peak at number six in October, Diamond probably was touring to support it and may not have been available to record a proper follow-up, or Bang may have rejected the idea of using the not-yet-issued “The Boat That I Row,” another uptempo number similar to “Cherry, Cherry.” But the label needed something to follow “Cherry, Cherry” quickly to maintain Diamond’s momentum, so “I Got the Feelin’ (Oh No No)” was pressed as a 45 in October. (“The Boat That I Row” was relegated to the B-side.) It entered the Billboard Hot 100 for the week ending November 12 and peaked at number 16 on December 17. Unlike “Solitary Man” and “Cherry, Cherry,” it has not generated cover versions, though Diamond’s original recording has turned up on many of his charting compilations.
Thanks to Sunshine
Monday, 25 December 2017
Baby I Love You/Be My Baby/(The Best Part Of) Breakin' Up/Born To Be Together
The Ronettes were an American girl group from New York City. One of the most popular groups from the 1960s, they placed nine songs on the Billboard Hot 100, five of which became Top 40 hits. The trio from Spanish Harlem, New York, consisted of lead singer Veronica Bennett (later known as Ronnie Spector), her older sister Estelle Bennett, and their cousin Nedra Talley. Among the Ronettes' most famous songs are "Be My Baby", "Baby, I Love You", "(The Best Part of) Breakin' Up", and "Walking in the Rain", all of which charted on the Billboard Hot 100. "Walking in the Rain" won a Grammy Award in 1965, and "Be My Baby" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999. The Ronettes were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.
The girls sang together since they were teenagers, then known as "The Darling Sisters". Signed first by Colpix Records in 1961, they moved to Phil Spector's Philles Records in March 1963 and changed their name to "The Ronettes". In late 1964, the group released their only studio album, Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica, which entered the Billboard charts at number 96. Rolling Stone ranked it number 422 on its list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. The group was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2004. The Ronettes were the only girl group to tour with the Beatles.
Sunday, 24 December 2017
Blackberry Way/Mist On A Monday Morning/Fire Brigade/Walk Upon The Water
"Blackberry Way" is a 1968 single by English band The Move. Written by Roy Wood and produced by Jimmy Miller, "Blackberry Way" was a bleak counterpoint to the sunny psychedelia of earlier recordings. It nevertheless became the band's most successful single, reaching number 1 on the UK Singles Chart in February 1969. Richard Tandy, who later played keyboards with Wood's next band Electric Light Orchestra (ELO), played harpsichord on "Blackberry Way". Despite the success of the single, the style of psychedelically tinged pop sat uneasily with bassist Trevor Burton. He left the group shortly after. It is cited as inspired by The Beatles' "Penny Lane", and the vocal line from the bridge is borrowed from "Good Old Desk" by Harry Nilsson.
"Fire Brigade" is a song written by Roy Wood and performed by The Move, with Wood on lead vocal B-Side was "Walk Upon the Water". The song contains a guitar figure straight out of Duane Eddy. Glen Matlock of the Sex Pistols admitted some years later that this guitar had strongly influenced the opening riff of their single "God Save the Queen". "Fire Brigade" influenced "Firehouse" from the self-titled debut album by Kiss. Released as the group's fourth single in Britain in February 1968, it reached No. 3 in the UK Singles Chart.
Jacqueline/Living In The Shadows Of The Past/Fraulein/(Got A) Heartsick Feeling
Robert Lee Helms (August 15, 1933 – June 19, 1997), known professionally as Bobby Helms, was an American country music singer who enjoyed his peak success in 1957 with the seasonal hit "Jingle Bell Rock". His other hits include "Fraulein" and "My Special Angel".
Helms was born in Helmsburg, Indiana, the son of Hildreth Esther (née Abram) and Fred Robert Helms. His family was musical. Helms began performing as a duo with his brother, Freddie, before going on to a successful solo career in country music. In 1956, Helms made his way to Nashville, Tennessee, where he signed a recording contract with Decca Records. The following year was filled with successes. Helms' first single in 1957, titled "Fraulein", went to No. 1 on the country music chart and made it into the Top 40 on the Billboard Best Sellers in Stores chart. Later that same year, he released "My Special Angel", which also hit No. 1 on the country charts and entered the Top 10 on Billboard's pop music chart, peaking at No. 7.
Helms continued touring and recording for the next three decades. His pioneering contribution to the genre has been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. Helms spent most of his later years living just outside Martinsville, Indiana, until his death from emphysema and asthma at the age of 63 in 1997. He was portrayed by actor Brad Hawkins in the 2007 film Crazy. Another record by Helms was "Schoolboy Crush", which was a hit in the UK. It was released in the USA on June 23, 1958 on Decca. The same song was then covered by UK teen star Cliff Richard about the same time as the UK release.
Wednesday, 29 November 2017
White Rabbit/Watch Her Ride/Plastic Fantastic Lover/Martha
Best known as the hippie revolutionaries who produced Sixties pop nuggets like "White Rabbit" and "Somebody to Love," Jefferson Airplane survived myriad personnel shifts, including the 1984 departure of founder/guiding light Paul Kantner, several name changes. Over its subsequent years, the band morphed from psychedelic rockers to an MOR pop powerhouse and back again.
At the start, the Jefferson Airplane epitomized the burgeoning Haight-Ashbury culture and provided its soundtrack. The band began in 1965 when singer Marty Balin (b. Martyn Jerel Buchwald, Jan. 30, 1942, Cincinnati, OH), formerly with the acoustic group the Town Criers, met guitarist Paul Kantner (b. Mar. 17, 1941, San Francisco, CA) at the Drinking Gourd, a San Francisco club. They were first a folk-rock group, rounded out by lead guitarist Jorma Kaukonen, drummer Skip Spence, singer Signe Anderson, and bassist Bob Harvey , who was soon replaced by Jack Casady. Their first major show was on August 13, christening the Matrix Club, which later became a major outlet for new Bay Area bands. RCA signed the group and Jefferson Airplane Takes Off (Number 128, 1966) went gold.
Slick's vocals were stronger and more expressive than Anderson's; she later claimed that she tried to imitate the yowl of the lead guitar. She brought two Great Society songs to the Airplane's second album, Surrealistic Pillow — "Somebody to Love" (Number Five, 1967), co-written by Darby Slick, and her own "White Rabbit" (Number Eight, 1967), which was banned in some areas as a pro-drug song. The album (Number Three, 1967), sold half a million copies. After Bathing at Baxter's (Number 17, 1967) included a nine-minute psychedelic jam-collage, "Spayre Change," and occasioned the group's first battle with RCA over obscene language: The word "shit" was deleted from the lyric sheet. Baxter's had no hit singles and didn't sell well, but the Airplane recouped with the gold Crown of Creation (Number Six, 1968), which included Slick's "Lather" and David Crosby's "Triad," a song about a ménage à trois that had been rejected by Crosby's current group, the Byrds.
In August the Airplane formed its own label, Grunt, distributed by RCA. The band's reunited effort, Bark (Number 11, 1971), saw them with Covington and all of Hot Tuna, including violinist Papa John Creach, who had first performed with Hot Tuna at a Winterland show in 1970. The band had grown apart, though, and Hot Tuna and Kantner-Slick were each writing for their own offshoot projects. In December 1971 Slick and Kantner released Sunfighter (Number 89, 1971) under both their names, with baby China as cover girl. (China grew up to become an MTV VJ and an actor.)
Finally, in February 1974 Slick and Kantner officially formed the Jefferson Starship (no strict relation to the group on Blows), with Freiberg, Creach, Barbata, and 19-year-old lead guitarist Craig Chaquico. Chaquico had played with the Grunt band Steelwind with his high school English teacher Jack Traylor, and on Slick and Kantner's collaborative albums beginning with Sunfighter. The new group also included Peter Kangaroo (Jorma's brother), though in June he was replaced by Pete Sears, a British sessionman who had played on Rod Stewart's records and had been a member of Copperhead. On Dragon Fly (Number 11, 1974), Balin made a guest appearance on his and Kantner's song "Caroline." The album went gold.
Balin tentatively rejoined the band in January 1975, and the group's next big breakthrough came with Red Octopus, its first Number One album, hitting that position several times during the year and selling 4 million copies. Balin's ballad "Miracles" was a Number Three single. The band was more popular than ever, but in Slick's opinion the music had become bland and corporate, and her rivalry with Balin had not diminished. The group's followup album, 1976's Spitfire, went Number Three and platinum, its first album to do so. But after the successful Earth (Number Five, 1978; also platinum), both Slick and Balin left.
With its two lead singers gone, the group's future again seemed in question, but in 1979 Mickey Thomas, best known as lead vocalist on the Elvin Bishop hit "Fooled Around and Fell in Love," joined, and Barbata was replaced by Aynsley Dunbar, a former Frank Zappa and David Bowie sideman who had just left Journey. The new lineup's Freedom at Point Zero (Number Ten, 1979) went gold on the strength of its Number 14 hit, "Jane."
The group's momentum ground to a halt in 1980 after Kantner suffered a brain hemorrhage that, despite its severity, left no permanent damage. The next year came Modern Times (Number 26, 1981), which featured Slick on one track; she rejoined the band in February 1981, and the Jefferson Starship again ascended with a string of Top 40 hits: "Be My Lady" (Number 28, 1982), "Winds of Change" (Number 38, 1983), and "No Way Out" (Number 23, 1984).
No Protection (Number 12, 1987) included the group's third Number One hit, 1987's "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now," and "It's Not Over ('Til It's Over)" (Number Nine, 1987), which was later adopted as the theme song of Major League Baseball. The group's last Top 40 single, "It's Not Enough," appeared in 1989. The core trio of Thomas, Chaquico, and Baldwin, abetted by Brett Bloomfield and Mark Morgan, attempted to keep the ship aloft, but in 1990 the group called it quits. Thomas formed yet another band, Starship With Mickey Thomas, whose only links to the original dynasty were himself and latecomer Bloomfield.
In the meantime, in 1989, Kantner, Slick, Balin, Casady, and Kaukonen revived the early Jefferson Airplane lineup and released Jefferson Airplane (Number 85, 1989). Before that, Kantner, Balin, and Casady had formed the KBC Band; its self-titled LP went to Number 75 in 1986.
In 2000 Balin, Kantner, and Casady started touring as Jefferson Airplane's Volunteers and were promptly sued by Jefferson Airplane manager and shareholder of Jefferson Airplane Inc., Bill Thompson, for using the name without permission. Adding to the confusion, Mickey Thomas has been touring as Starship Featuring Mickey Thomas since 1992. The Kantner/Freiberg/Aguilar version of Jefferson Starship continued touring in the 2000s, with yet another female vocalist, Cathy Richardson, and other revolving-door members and famous guests including early Grateful Dead keyboardist Tom Constanten. In 2008 the group released Jefferson's Tree of Liberty, an album of mostly protest folk cover songs including Woody Guthrie's "Pastures of Plenty," Phil Ochs' "I Ain't Marchin' Anymore" and Bob Dylan's "Chimes of Freedom."
Slick has remained true to her vow not to perform anymore and now dedicates herself to painting. Invoking health reasons, she declined to appear with Jefferson Airplane when it performed at its induction into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in January 1996 (though she guested on ex–4 Non Blondes singer Linda Perry's album In Flight later that same year). In 1998 she published her autobiography, Somebody to Love?
Skip Spence, Jefferson Airplane's original drummer died of lung cancer on April 16, 1999. Six years later, his successor and former Slick boyfriend Spencer Dryden succumbed to colon cancer on January 10, 2005.