Seattle, April 8, 1994, 9 a.m. An electrician named Gary Smith arrived at Kurt Cobain’s home in Seattle to install a new security system. Though there was no answer at the front door, Smith got to work. As he climbed on the roof, following wires along the garage to a room above it, he looked [...]
The undercover agent was wearing a rumpled blazer and a false mustache. Posing as a reporter for an alternative newspaper, he was trying to blend in with the 15,000 hippies and students who’d turned out at Detroit’s Chrysler Arena on Dec. 10, 1971 for the “Free John Sinclair” concert, headlined by John Lennon. The agent [...]
Los Angeles, December 10, 1964, 9 p.m. Everybody in Martoni’s Italian restaurant had their eye on Sam Cooke. In his Sy Devore suit, the 33-year-old R&B singer cut a dashing figure. With his recent Live at the Copa album climbing the charts, Sam was on the brink of stepping up to the big leagues, a [...]
When he brought his Duke Ellington Orchestra to the Newport Jazz Festival on July 7, 1956, 57-year-old Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington had seen his big-band style replaced in the popular imagination by the bebop of players like Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. Ellington pushed forward anyway, always experimenting—and one experiment in particular was about to [...]
These aren’t your garden variety rock managers. They are the bigger than life, Svengali-meets-Al Capone figures. The ones who can turn a great band into world-conquering icons, or conversely, ruin them. Step inside the bilking parlor and meet Colonel Tom Parker, Allen Klein, Peter Grant and Don Arden.
Memphis. May 29, 1997, 8:30 p.m. Jeff Buckley and Keith Foti were lost. The two friends had set out in a van for a rehearsal space that Buckley’s band was renting. They were on the eve of recording material for the singer’s follow-up to his highly acclaimed debut Grace. For the past two months, Buckley, 30, [...]
Four years ago today Dan Fogelberg left this earth. I still have a hard time accepting it.
Censorship is nothing new. In fact, it was 1735 when the first song was banned in America. Here’s a look at 8 songs that were considered too dangerous or immoral to be heard.
It takes more than five hours to make the 350-mile trip from New Orleans to Houston. On Sept. 7, 2005, that proved to be plenty of time for old friends Harry Connick, Jr. and Branford Marsalis to start imagining a way to help get their hometown back on its feet. That journey really began a [...]
Paris. July 2, 1971, early evening. Jim Morrison and his girlfriend Pamela Courson went to the cinema to see Pursued, a western starring Robert Mitchum. At another theater, Jim Morrison sat alone, watching a documentary called Death Valley. Across town, at the Rock ’n’ Roll Circus nightclub, Jim Morrison scored some heroin and OD’d in [...]
Phoebe Snow left the earth this morning after complications from a brain hemorrhage she suffered in January, 2010. She was only 59. In that too-short life she helped define the ’70s singer-songwriter movement, and in 1972 gave us “Poetry Man,” the sultry Top 5 hit single that won her a Grammy nomination for Best New [...]
Tonight is the 26th annual induction ceremony into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and some of our favorite people are being honored: Alice Cooper (inducted by Rob Zombie); Neil Diamond (inducted by Paul Simon); Dr. John (inducted by John Legend); Darlene Love (inducted by Bette Midler); Tom Waits (inducted by Neil Young); Jac [...]
For those who delight in stories of what it was like to live a creative life during the golden eras of our musical heroes, you have a four-star treat in store. Troubadours: The Rise of the Singer-Songwriter, a documentary that centers around a West Hollywood venue that provided a nexus for the ’70s singer-songwriter movement, [...]
On January 26, 1958, Buddy Holly and the Crickets made their second and final appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show—this time earning the well-known wrath of the host. They were scheduled to perform their hit “Oh, Boy!,” but Sullivan told them to substitute it because he felt it was too raucous. You can imagine how [...]
On Jan. 16, 1980, Paul McCartney and his wife Linda arrived at Tokyo International Airport for a week-long Japanese tour with Wings. But the tour ended before it began when a customs officer rummaging through their carry-on luggage lifted out a fist-sized bag of marijuana. “When the fellow pulled it out of the suitcase, he [...]
On January 15, 1967, the Rolling Stones made their fourth of six appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show. Even though Sullivan threatened that each time would be their last—whether it was because of the raucous audience or the band’s “untidy appearance” before insisting they wash their hair—this performance sent both Mick Jagger and poor Ed [...]
Today, over 40 years after the fact, Jim Morrison was posthumously pardon by Florida’s Clemency Board after being pushed on the matter by outgoing Governor and Board member Charlie Crist. At the hearing, Crist called the convictions a “blot” on the record of an acomplished artist for “something he may or may not have done.” [...]
On November 22, 1968 the Beatles released their 9th official album, the eponymous 2-record, 30-song masterpiece known as the White Album. The recording of it took place after the Beatles’ retreat to India where they studied transcendental meditation with the Maharishi. Even though the trip was fraught with drama and each Beatle bailed at different [...]
Fifty-one years ago today DJ Alan Freed was fired from WABC radio when the payola scandal erupted. Here’s the story behind that era of pay-for-play, excerpted from the article by Bill DeMain published in Performing Songwriter Issue 89, December 2005. Payola became a household word in the 1950s. The decade’s music scene was the convergence [...]
Who’d have ever thought that a beloved Motown classic would be brought back to life by a bunch of animated dried fruit? But in 1986, that’s just what happened when the California Raisin Advisory Board launched a series of ads by the California Raisins, a group that existed only in Claymation. Like the Archies before [...]
Did McCartney die in 1966? His mere presence on earth 44 years later would seem to suggest the answer is no. Yet this granddaddy of rock urban legends persists.
If you read the biography on Chuck Berry’s official website, you will find no mention of the word prison. This bit of revisionist history glosses over the fact that the rock pioneer has been incarcerated three different times.