The countless accomplishments spread across Phil Ramone’s five decades in the world of music production all spring from one vital principle: He wanted you to hear what he heard. That notion guided him through career-defining collaborations with Paul Simon and Billy Joel, and was his aim when recording the voices of Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, […]
Forty-eight years ago this month Herb Alpert’s landmark Whipped Cream & Other Delights was released and went on to sell over six million copies—and its playful erotic cover with the whipped cream-covered Dolores Erickson launched as many male fantasies. A fashion model from the age of 14, Erickson appeared in magazines such as Vogue and […]
As the definitive snapshot of ‘60s pop culture, artist Peter Blake’s Sgt. Pepper cover was unlike anything the world had ever seen—and almost half a century later it’s still iconic Beatles.
From the moment she and older sister Ann saw the Beatles performing on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, Nancy Wilson knew the guitar was the key to her future. Responding to her pleas, her parents gave her a three-quarter-size Stella. “It had a pipe-shaped neck and a movable bridge—which was good, because as it […]
Gazing up at the tall, lean, balding man with the angular planes of his face as familiar as those of a family member, it’s almost impossible to equate this James Taylor with the long-haired ’70s pop icon who lived a very public life of hits, misses, marriages, divorces, addiction, recovery, births, deaths, depression and celebration. […]
Seventy years ago today George Harrison, the youngest of the four Beatles, was born in Liverpool, England. As a boy, George became friends with Paul McCartney, an older student at the Liverpool Institute who was also an aspiring guitarist. It was then that McCartney introduced him to his Quarrymen bandmate, John Lennon, and—after much persistence […]
In Feb. 1967 the Beatles released a double-A side single of “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane” which opened the doors to the wonders of Sgt. Pepper. Here’s the story.
A little James Taylor to celebrate Valentine’s Day: “Beneath the tide the fishes glide, fin to fin and side to side. For fishy love has now begun, fishy love, finny fun.”
Ah, Fat Tuesday. A day of indulgence on every level. Celebrated the day before Ash Wednesday, it’s the last big blowout before Lent kicks in and fasting begins. And of course, Mardi Gras and music go together like floats and parades, jazz bands and beads, purple, gold and green. Songs get stirred up in the […]
“Every time I put the radio on, it’s ‘Oh My Lord,’” John Lennon said in December 1970. “I’m beginning to think there must be a God.” Lennon wasn’t alone. As his former bandmate George Harrison’s debut single blanketed the airwaves, a struggling New York publisher, Bright Tunes Music, must’ve heard divine intervention in the melody […]
Born Feb. 9, 1942, in Brooklyn, N.Y., Carole King (née Klein) started playing piano when she was four years old. By high school, she was writing her first songs and leading a vocal quartet called the Co-Sines. At 17, she was singing demos for publishers along with her childhood friend Paul Simon. This led to […]
Here is the story—in Graham Nash’s own words—behind the classic “Our House,” one of the sweetest love songs ever written while he was living with Joni Mitchell.
On the morning of Dec. 18, 1966, John Lennon read an article about Tara Browne, a 21-year old millionaire playboy—and friend of Paul McCartney’s—who had been killed in a car crash in London. Lennon started to tinker with chords, singing lines about “the lucky man who made the grade” who “blew his mind out in […]
David Bowie shares the stories behind his songs “Space Oddity,” “Heroes,” “Rebel Rebel” and “Fame” in this interview with Performing Songwriter.
My takeaway from the music of 2012? Indies rule. In a major way. Great music and original sounds are what happen when the confines of the corporate world fall away, and last year was a shining example of that. From artists who have lived their creative lives in the independent realm, to major label artists […]
“I’m one of the laziest people I know,” declares Stephen Stills. “But when I catch on fire, I get obsessive.” That obsessiveness shows up in his intense passion and restless curiosity about the creation of music, helping sustain a career that now stretches back more than four decades. The Texas native made his name in […]
Hornsby, a mind-boggling piano virtuoso who runs the gamut stylistically from jazz to bluegrass, didn’t actually start playing the keyboard until he was about 17 years old — although he does confess that he and his brothers did actually take piano lessons for about a year when he was seven. “My brothers and I all […]
Gordon Lightfoot turns 74 on November 17th of this year, but to those of us who came of age during the folk revival of the early ‘60s and the singer/songwriter boom of the mid ‘70s, the man is already immortal. “Early Morning Rain,” “For Loving Me,” “If You Could Read My Mind,” “Sundown,” “The Wreck […]
Neil Young was born in Toronto, Canada on November 12, 1945. By the time he settled in Los Angeles in 1966 he had been performed as both an acoustic folkie and a grungy guitar rocker, so he was primed and ready for his roles as a solo artist as well as the pioneering Buffalo Springfield, […]
Let’s just put aside for a moment the fact that Bonnie Raitt is one of the most important musicians of this century, showing the world that a woman can wield a guitar while holding her own alongside the legends. And let’s ignore the detail that as a singer, this whiskey-voiced performer nails every note, and […]
November 7, 1943 gave the world one of the most influential singer-songwriters of the 20th Century when Roberta Joan Anderson was born in Alberta, Canada. A few years later her family moved to the Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where she attended public schools and lucked out in having what she called “one radical teacher who drew out […]
Excepts from a Performing Songwriter interview with Lyle Lovett where he discusses his songs and approach to writing.
Bobby Pickett never wanted to be a singer. When he moved to Hollywood in the early ‘60s, his ambition was to be a movie actor. His resume included a knack for impersonations—he’d learned to mimic quite a few stars, one of whom was horrormeister Boris Karloff. Little did Bobby know, that imitation would earn him both his fortune and a permanent middle name.
“And When I Die,” “Stoned Soul Picnic,” “Wedding Bell Blues,” “Save The Country,” “Sweet Blindness,” “Eli’s Comin’,” “Stoney End.” These are just a handful of the gems Laura Nyro gave us. Songs that start playing in our heads just by reading their names. Songs that bring back memories of a certain day or person or […]