I can’t forget the folk singer Pete Seeger, who died aged 94 on January 27. I couldn’t post anything then because I can’t access the internet very often where I am now. But who can forget a singer like Seeger? Some of his songs like Where Have All the Flowers Gone, If I Had A Hammer and Turn, Turn, Turn will always linger in our memory. [Read more...]
Eric Clapton begins his Asia and Middle East tour in Tokyo on February 18 and will perform at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on March 4. Ready to rock? Fans can buy and sell tickets on Ticketbis.com.sg.
Clapton, who first performed in Singapore during his Journeyman tour in 1990, has played at the Singapore Indoor Stadium twice before — in 2007 and 2011 — but this will be a special occasion for Clapton fans.
The legendary guitarist, the only artiste inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame three times, has just completed 50 years in the limelight.
In October 1963, Clapton was invited by singer Keith Relf and bassist Paul Samwell-Smith to join the Yardbirds and catapulted to fame.
Clapton left the Yardbirds after they scored their first hit, For Your Love, in 1965 and joined John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers.
I love For Your Love and enjoyed every minute of the Yardbirds’ gig shown in the Antonioni movie, Blowup. You can see the sequence on YouTube. It was as a Yardbird that Clapton was first inducted into the Hall of Fame.
But Clapton, for me, will be always be associated with the band he joined after leaving the Bluesbreakers.
In 1966, Clapton was invited by drummer Ginger Baker to join him and bassist Jack Bruce, another Bluesbreaker veteran, in his band, Cream, and the rest is history. [Read more...]
Phil Everly is dead. He was 74.
I love the Everly Brothers. Phil and his elder brother, Don, created some of the sweetest hits back in thr 1950s and early ’60s. Their sweet harmonies and steel-string guitar playing influenced acts ranging from The Beatles to Simon & Garfunkel, The Everly Brothers along with Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly and Fats Domino are my favourite artistes from the early days of rock’n'roll. Here are some of my favourite songs performed by the Everly Brothers.
Wake Up Little Susie [Read more...]
It was on this day in 1967 that the first issue of Rolling Stone was published, The Writer’s Almanac recalled yesterday, and which I just happened to read today. I remember when the weekly looked like a newspaper, published on newsprint, with black and white photos and pages you could pull out, like from any daily newspaper. Those were the days it used to review new releases by artistes like Cheap Trick and Alice Cooper. What a long time ago that was.
Looking up the Rolling Stone website (I don’t see the printed magazine or listen to new musicians any more), I saw tributes to Lou Reed, who died last month.
— Maria Popova (@brainpicker) November 9, 2013
Laurie Anderson's v moving Farewell to Lou Reed: 'For 21 years we tangled our minds and hearts together' http://t.co/sAM9fPt70y
— William Dalrymple (@DalrympleWill) November 9, 2013
I am a fan of the Beatles and the Beach Boys and Bob Dylan. Reed was too avant-garde for me. However, he was one of the great seminal musicians of the time. So here is some of his music. [Read more...]
Google is on a history jag. Yesterday’s Google Doodle featured Shakuntala Devi, the Human Computer. Today it’s the turn of Raymond Loewy, who designed cars, locomotives, the logos of Shell and Exxon, the Lucky Strike package and the Air Force One livery. Reading about his long life — he died in 1986 at the age of 92 — made one thing clear to me. The world is no longer as creative as it used to be.
I know this sounds strange, what with the internet, social media and new gadgets that seem to be proliferating like bunny rabbits. But look at all that happened between the advent of the King in the Fifties and the split-up of the Beatles in 1970.
Rock and roll is in the spotlight this week in History of Rock, a massive open online course (MOOC). The course is being conducted on Coursera by John Covach, professor and chair of music at the University of Rochester.
This week the professor is talking about “The Birth and First Flourishing of Rock and Roll (1955 -1959).”
So here we have stars from that era: Elvis Presley, Bill Haley, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran.
They are all mentioned by the professor, who then talks of “the day that music died”.
In 1958, Elvis went into the army. Buddy Holly died in a plane crash in February 1959. Little Richard quit rock and roll to preach in late 1957. The story goes he promised to God during a bumpy flight he would quit rock and roll and serve the Lord if he got out of the plane alive. In late 1959, Chuck Berry was arrested for violating the Mann Act, transporting a minor across state lines. He maintained he was wrongfully charged but served time in prison. There was the Jerry Lee Lewis scandal in May 1958. His third wife, Myra, was found to be his cousin, once removed, and she had been only 13 when they were married. He was blacklisted by radio stations following the scandal.
Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis later made a comeback and Elvis also got back from the army. The music became really great in the Swinging Sixties.
Today is the birthday of Buddy Holly who was born in Lubbock, Texas, on September 7, 1936. He had his first hit, That’ll Be the Day, in 1957. He died in a plane crash on February 3, 1959.
Ritchie Valens and JP “The Big Bopper” Richardson were killed with him. They were on a concert tour when their small chartered plane crashed in Iowa. The pilot died with them.
Waylon Jennings was a member of the band performing with Buddy Holly, but only the singers were aboard the small plane. The band was travelling by road. So Jennings lived on to make a name for himself as a singer and songwriter. He died in 2002.
Buddy Holly had such a short career, yet he remains a legend. I love his sweet, simple music. It sounds so innocent.
Here, listen to him on Spotify. Let’s start with my favourite, Rave On, followed by the irrepressible Oh Boy. And then we move on to Not Fade Away, That’ll Be the Day, Maybe Baby, It’s So Easy, the famous Peggy Sue and Peggy Sue Got Married.
I love the music from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, but the 1950s were like a crossroads – much of the music, especially in the early Fifties, was a carryover from the 1940s. I am not a fan of the Forties Big Band music. I like some of the Second World War songs, particularly those sung by Vera Lynn, such as Lili Marlene, The White Cliffs of Dover, We ‘ll Meet Again, A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, but I am not really into Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey and the rest. Maybe that is why I am not a fan of the Andrews Sisters or the songs Frank Sinatra recorded in the 1940s.
Here is my favourite song from 1950 – Patti Page singing The Tennessee Waltz. Lush, romantic, evergreen. You realize what a great song it is when you listen to other songs from that time.
I am listening to music from that era mentioned in The History of Rock, a massive open online course conducted by John Covach, professor and chair of music at the University of Rochester.
Along with The Tennessee Waltz, I have included a few more of my favourites from that era which are mentioned in The History of Rock:
In the Still of the Night by the Five Satins, I Got a Woman by Ray Charles and Your Cheatin’ Heart by Hank Williams. I like videos of concerts though the records may sound better, so I have included both concert videos and audio recordings here.
Ray Charles shocked the music world with I Got a Woman because it turned a gospel recording into a love song. Critics denounced it for mixing “the sacred and the profane”. Released on the Atlantic label in December 1954, it was a No 1 R&B hit in January 1955.
Les Paul and his electric guitar are famous in pop music history. But I didn’t know he
- Played the guitar for Bing Crosby
- Persuaded Bing Crosby to invest in the Ampex Tape Company.
Bing Crosby made millions of dollars from his investment and gave Les Paul one of the first eight-track recording machines.
This story is told in History of Rock, a massive open online course (MOOC) being conducted on Coursera by John Covach, professor and chair of music at the University of Rochester.
This song, How High the Moon, by Les Paul and his wife, Mary Ford, goes back to 1951. You can see the tape-recorders whirring in the 56th, 57th seconds of the clip.
Covach tells a colourful story about tape recorders:
“Tape recording was developed by the Germans during the Second World War as a way of recording Hitler’s voice when he would give his speeches to the nation. The Germans were concerned that the Americans had technology that would allow them to zero in on exactly where Hitler was when he was delivering his radio addresses to the German nation and then they would bomb that radio station and, and perhaps kill the leader. And so they developed this technology, whereby they could get lifelike reproductions of his voice, send that to a radio station while Hitler was in an entirely different part of the country. And so that if, if the station ended up getting bombed, the worst they would do is ruin a tape recorder.
“Now, the, the allies didn’t know anything about this until Germany was conquered. And they go into these radio stations and what do they see? These big reel to reel recorders there. And it turns out that this magnetic tape recording the Germans had developed this to a fantastically high degree of fidelity.
“Well, Les Paul heard about this and he told Bing Crosby this was going to be the next big thing.”
The influence of Les Paul
“There had been electric guitars before for Les Paul. Charlie Christian played one with Benny Goodman’s group. And so, it isn’t quite true that Les Paul invented the solid body electric guitar, but he was one of the first ones to be involved in engineering a kind of solid body electric guitar. He would, ended up going into partnership with the Gibson Guitar Company and they produced the Les Paul model. The Les Paul guitar has become iconic. And these developments in technology – this overdubbing, this tape technology, the development of the solid-body electric guitar – made a big change.
“Now, we couldn’t think about Les Paul as being an important figure in rock music per se, because none of his music was rock oriented. But Les Paul as a guitarist, was a fantastic influence on a whole generation of guitarists who came after him in rock and roll. Jimmy Page, people like this, were all sort of big Les Paul fanatics. The technologies that he developed will continue to influence rock and roll for many years, in fact decades to come.”