Dec 28, 2008

Another Original Rock Girl - Marianne Faithful - born 12-29-46

Marianne Faithful began singing in London coffee houses, she attended a Rolling Stones record party in 1964 and met manager Andrew Loog Oldham. Her first hit was the Stones cover "As Tears Go By", she followed with "This Little Bird" "Summer Nights" and "Come and Stay With Me". She married artist John Dunbar with Peter Asher as the best man. After having a child she left her husband & ran off with Mick Jagger. She said 'My first move was to get a Rolling Stone as a boyfriend. I slept with three and decided the lead singer was the best bet".
She was soon part of the Swinging London scene in a highly publicised relationship with Mick. They hung out with Brian Jones & his girlfriend (who soon jumped over to Kieth's bed) Anita Pallenberg & began using drugs and got addicted. During the famous drug bust at Kieth Richards home in Redlands, she was found naked wrapped in a rug. The publicity gave her the rep as a wild, outspoken, avant garde rock n roll girl.

She appeared in the Stones movie Rock n Roll Circus singing her hit "Something Better". She was an inspiration for many Stones classics, "You Cant Always Get What You Want", "Wild Horses", "I Got the Blues". A book she gave Mick inspired 'Sympathy for the Devil" and she sang back up vocals on the "woo woo" parts. She even penned the song "Sister Morphine" on the "Sticky Fingers" album.

By 1970 her life went down the tubes, she lost custody of her son, she split with Mick, got addicted to heroin, became anorexic, & lived on the streets homeless for two years. Friends got her into rehab but she would continue to battle her addictions. Her once beautiful voice was now weathered, cracking & deeper. It was praised by some giving off a new sensuality and a new image.

In 1979 she released her highly acclaimed album "Broken English" a combo of pop, punk & New Wave. The title track was an FM hit dealing with Terrorism in Europe. The album featured the song "Why'd Ya Do It" which contained very sexual lyrics with very obscene language, especially for 1979. She got remarried & moved to New York, appeared on Saturday Night Live but had an awful performance. After more rehab she had an affair with a mentally challenged drug addict who then committed suicide.
She reinvented her career a few more times, as a jazz singer, blues & cabaret singer.. She started earning respect as the warrior she had become by her forties. Roger Waters chose her to be Mother, at "the Wall Concerts" in Berlin in 1990. She then did a record with old pals Kieth Richards, Charlie Watts & Ron Wood.
She released her autobiography which did well and got married a couple of more times. In the 2000s she has released successful albums, really worth checking out on I-tunes, working with artist like Roger Waters, Emylou Harris, Joe Jackson, Beck, Dave Stewart, and others.

In the past year she has won a quick bout with breast cancer, & been diagnosed with Hepatitis C. She just released a new album in November called Easy Come Easy Go & plans to tour then possibly retire.

Dec 26, 2008

the Passing of Cat Woman Eartha Kitt

Eartha Kitt was born to share croppers in South Carolina. She was sent to live with her aunt in Harlem, at age seven. Her career began in the late forties as a cabaret singer, & actress. She had a string of minor hits in the 1950's and a disco hit in 1984 called "Where is My Man". Her most famous song is the sultry Christmas classic "Santa Baby" .

Kitt appeared in many films with the stars like Orson Welles & Sidney Poitier. In 1968 at a White House luncheon she spoke out against the Vietnam war and made Lady Bird Johnson cry. She was blacklisted in the entertainment industry in America. She went over seas and had a successful theater career around the world. She returned to Broadway in 1978 in the hit "Timbuktu!" She remained active through the eighties & nineties (like Eddie Murphy's movie Boomerang), & in the 2000s she still performed on Broadway & as a cabaret singer. She passed away on Christmas Day at age 81 from colon cancer.

As a huge fan of the Batman TV series, lets remember her as Cat woman #3.
In Batman's third TV season, Julie Newmar was filming a movie and the role of Cat Woman went to Eartha Kitt. Kitt appeared in three episodes during that final season. Most famous for rolling her R's during dialogue she added her special touch for cat woman, a "Purrrrrrfect" role for her.

Episode #108- Cat Womans Dressed To Kill (aired 12/14/67)- Cat Woman is jealous she is not voted one of top 10 Best Dressed Women in Gotham City. She sets off a hir raising bomb, and steals one of a kind dresses. She kidnaps Batgirl in a woman's dressing room. At her hide out she ties up Batgirl on a table & lines up an electric saw to split her in half, she is rescued by Alfred disguised as the Worlds Oldest Hippie. Cat Womans hideout is located on 32 Pussyfoot Rd.

Episode 110-Funny Feline Felonies & 111- The Jokes on Cat woman: These episodes were aired thirty nine ago this week (12/28/67 & 1/4/68).
Cat woman in her Kitty mobile picks up the Joker upon his release from prison. They intend to blow a hole in the Federal Depository and clean the $$ out. The dynamic duo & Batgirl are on their trail. They capture Batgirl and tie her up on a front lawn with Deadly Cat Whiskers, that will expand with body heat & strangle her. Batgirl escapes by turning on the sprinklers, releasing the wet whiskers. Batman captures the villain's at Phony Island gathering gunpowder and a trial is set with Lucky Pierre representing the villains. A fixed jury of criminals is foiled and the fiends go to jail.

**Eartha also was the voice for the original television ads for the new Steely Dan album "Aja" back in 1977. I can remember me & my brother mimicking that commercial like it was yesterday.

Dec 19, 2008

Anniversary of the story for the lyrics "He blew his mind out in a car".........

Tara Browne was the son of a very well to do Irish family. His father was a long time member of the House of Lords & his mother was heiress to the Guinness fortune. Tara was a socialite during London's swinging sixties, and friends with many the days rock stars including Paul McCartney & Keith Richards.

On December 18, 1966 he was with his girlfriend model Suki Porter, speeding through South Kessington in his Lotus. "He didn't noticed that the light had changed" blew through the red light in Kessington Square, crashed into a parked lorry and was killed instantly. Suki was not injured. It is unknown if he was under the influence at the time of the crash.

The story of his death was imortalized in the classic Beatles song "A Day In The Life".
On 17 January 1967 John Lennon was at his piano writing a song and reading the London news papers. He read a report on the coroner's verdict into Browne's death and came up with the verse for :

He blew his mind out in a car,
He didn't notice that the lights had changed,
A crowd of people stood and stared,
They'd seen his face before,
Nobody was really sure
If he was from the House of Lords.

Dec 14, 2008

Ronnie Spectors Christmas Party - Concert Review

It's now officially Christmas time. Last night Ronnie Spector "the original bad girl of Rock & Roll" rocked her annual Christmas show at BB Kings on 42nd St. in Manhattan. This was my third straight year to see her at BB Kings, and I had seen her way back a few times at the old Bottom Line in the Village.
We got there early after shuffling around the jam packed streets of mid town, as Christmas is alive & well in NY. We had a few drinks in Lucille's the restaurant part of the club. I had a $17 hamburger that wasn't worth it, but the nachos were pretty good. This place isnt known for its food.
Ronnie hit the stage and was her usual cheerful self, singing all her Ronettes hits, the Christmas songs she made into classics & some great covers from a few of her famous friends.

Opening with Sleigh Ride & segueing into the Ronettes "Why Don't They Let Us Fall In Love", she looked great with her hair all teased out in sixties rock & roll fashion, tight black pants & long sleeve button down blouse she proudly claims she bought at Trash & Vaudeville on 8th St in the Village. Her voice sounds great with that innocent but sexy twang to it , proving she can still do it after all these years.

The crowd are her usual fans many who have seen the show before like myself, but come back annually to feel the spirit of early sixties Rock & Roll & some Christmas songs with that same sound. Back then it wasn't every pop artist that made Christmas songs like today. As usual by shows end, she brought the place to its feet. I even managed to get a hand shake from her as she greeted the audience across the stage during the finale. (sigh)

The band was the same shes had the past few years, tight & very polished.A Great hot female guitarist, 2 female back up singers, bass, guitarist, drummer, keyboardist & sax man with the smoking hair under the hot lights.
She told great stories of her rock friends; how Frankie Lymon died after he wrote his Christmas song and she felt he wanted her to carry on singing it. How Billy Joel wrote Say Goodbye to Hollywood for her & she recorded it with Bruce Springsteen. How Amy Winehouse wants to be her when she grows up, but she told her you cant do drugs if you ever want to reach her age in the rock n roll business. How Joey Ramone died right after he wrote Arms Around a Memory for her. And that she was so devastated when her friend John Lennon died, she vowed to sing Happy Christmas at every Christmas show she ever does in his honor.

It was a great night & a great show. There are always "concert moments" & when Ronnie Spector sings "Be My Baby" & "Walking In The Rain" they are at the top of the list.

RONNIE SPECTORS HOLIDAY PARTY - SUNDAY 12/14 : SET LIST

*Sleigh Ride
*Why Don't They Let Us Fall In Love (Ronettes)
*Do I Love You (Ronettes)
*Say Goodbye To Hollywood (Billy Joel written for her)
*I'm So Young (the Students)
*Keep On Dancing Little Girl
*Frosty the Snow Man
*So Young (Ronettes)
*Back to Black (Amy Winehouse)
*You Baby
*It's Christmas Once Again (Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers)
*Is This What I Get For Loving You (Ronettes)

*Walking In the Rain (Ronettes)
*Best Part of Breaking Up (Ronettes)
*You Cant Put Your Arms Around a Memory (Joey Ramone)
*Be My Baby (Ronettes)

encores:
*I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
*Remember When We Danced
*Happy Christmas -War Is Over (John Lennon)
*I Can Hear Music (Ronettes)
_______________________________________________________

HISTORY:
Born Veronica Bennett in Harlem in 1943 to an Irish father, African American/Native American mother. Her first inspiration was childhood friend Frankie Lymon of the Teenagers. She began singing with her sister & cousin as the Ronettes when she was just 13. The girls were encouraged to enter a talent show at the Apollo Theater & won. They were mistaken for performers at the Peppermint Lounge and escorted inside and sang with Ray Charles. There they were hired by Murray the K as regular dancers & back up singers for his Brooklyn Fox Theater shows. The Ronettes were taken under the wing of producer Phil Spector and became one of the biggest girl group acts of the early sixties. They were given a strong image as "bad girls", with beehive hairdos, heavy eyeliner, and tight skirts

The Ronettes- recorded a long string of classic pop hits: like "Walking in the Rain", "Do I Love You", "Baby I Love You", "The Best Part of Breaking Up", "I Can Hear Music", and their international Number One smash "Be My Baby". Their songs were written by great song writers like Carole King, Jerry Goffin, Ellie Greenwich, & Jeff Barry.

Ronnie became known as the "Original Bad Girl of Rock & Roll" her trademark voice is filled with innocence, boldness and a knowing sexuality. The Ronnettes were the top touring act in England in 1963 headlining over the Beatles & the Stones. In her book she tells stories of how they all became close friends on that tour. John Lennon was obsessed with her and tried very hard to begin an intimate relationship. She claims she was too young & innocent at the time to have it go beyond friendship. George Harrison had a thing for her sister Estelle.

One of my favorite stories in her book was when she took the Beatles to Shermans BBQ on Amsterdam Ave. in Harlem to eat American food. For years when ever she went back, Sherman would say "Your the Little girl who brought the Beatles here". (Imagine the scene of walking into that place & seeing the Beatles & Ronettes eating!!). The Ronettes were hand picked by the Beatles to be an opening act on their last tour in 1966.

Next up was when the Rolling Stones came to NY on their 1st tour they knew no one in NY. They went up to her apartment in Harlem and her mom cooked dinner for them. (Another great scene as I imagine a young Mick & Kieth asking directions to her place in Harlem!!)
The Ronettes appeared on the famous Phil Spector Christmas Album in 1963. The songs have become timeless Christmas classics, her versions of "Sleighride" "Frosty" & "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" are legendary. For years she did her classic Christmas shows at the old Bottom line & the past few years has moved it to BB Kings Blues Club.

Ronnie then married Phil Spector and became trapped in his jealous world as he hid her away, locked her in the house, threatened her life and ruined her career. It was a terrible marriage and I dont wish to get into all the dirt here.One of her closest friends at that time was a young Cher.

After the Ronettes she sang on a George Harrison-produced single, "Try Some, Buy Some" in 1970, which she sang at John Lennons 1971 birthday party. She also sang on records by Jimi Hendrix, Alice Cooper & Southside Johnny. In 1976, Billy Joel wrote "Say Goodbye to Hollywood", as a tribute to her which she recorded the following year with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. In 1986 she had a hit with Eddie Money with "Take Me Home Tonight" where Money sang "just like Ronnie said..." and she answered "Be My Little Baby".

In the late 1980's she appeared on many TV shows, was part of the Radio City Christmas Show, wrote her best selling autobiography "How I Survived Mascara & Miniskirts".

She has recorded two more albums, one with close friend Joey Ramone in 1999 She won a landmark 15 year court battle being rewarded for her vocals on the Ronettes songs. Many of her songs have been included in numerous movies. The Ronettes were finally inducted in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.

The style, look, and sound of Ronnie Spector have been an inspiration and role model for a generation of rock and roll women. In her sensuality, attitude, and dress, Ronnie created style, that has been revolutionary.

Dec 9, 2008

The Rolling Stones Rock & Roll Circus Turns 40

On December 11, 1968 the Rolling Stones staged a show intended for British television called the Rock & Roll Circus. The Stones & their friends/ musical guests played live in a big top circus themed atmosphere. A select few were invited as the audience and they were told to wear bright colors & capes to add to the atmosphere. The show began at 2 PM but never finished until the next morning due to technical breakdowns. The film was produced by Michael Lindsey Hogg who had directed the Sixties music TV show Ready Steady Go!! and a couple of Stones promo video's in the mid sixties. (He would go on to direct the Beatles Let It Be movie the next year.)

The film never was aired by the BBC as the Stones pulled the plug at the last minute. They felt thier performance was poor due to the fact they didnt play until 5AM and were tired. It's clear Brian Jones was in bad health & may have weakend the performance as well.The movie was finally released in 1996 with a CD as well.

The Stones were with their original line up and at the end of the Brian Jones era. It was his last performance with the band, and he is clearly not in the best shape. Maybe not the Stones best performance because they clearly are tired, but a damn good one. The young Stones are introduced by John Lennon and do all new songs from that time period. "Jumping Jack Flash" "Parachute Woman" "No Expectations" "You Cant Always Get What You Want" "Sympathy For the Devil" & the finally "Salt of the Earth". Some great crowd shots of people swaying & dancing including John & Yoko & the special guests.

Besides the Stones the concert features an incredible performance by The Who who were on top of their game at the time. Many say the reason the Stones didn't release the movie was because the Who's performance blew them away. The Who's performance was featured in thier 1979 "Kids Are Alright: movie. They were introduced by non other than Kieth Richards, & performed their first rock opera "A Quick One While He's Away".

After the entrance of the Gladiators theme music, Mick, dressed as the Ringmaster, introduces a young Jethro Tull to open the show. Ian Anderson is just starting to use his one legged flute playing trademark & on guitar for Tull is non other than Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi. He did a very brief stint in the Tull and this was his only live show. They perform "Song For Jeffrey".

Mick Jagger's swinging model/singer/actress girl friend at the time Marianne Faithful sings a couple of songs as does the group Taj Mahl.

If all that wasn't enough, it was the only time the super group The Dirty Mac ever played together. The band consisted of : John Lennon on guitar & vocals - Eric Clapton on lead guitar - Keith Richards on bass - & Mitch Mitchell on Drums. The band played the Beatles "Yer Blues" from the White Album & "A Whole Lottta Yoko" which was a blues jam featuring violinist Ivy Gitlis & Yoko Ono screaming. She is in front of the stage in side a black bag during "Yer Blues". This was the first time Lennon appeared live with out the Beatles. The name Dirty Mac was invented by Lennon, as a sarcastic play on words for Fleetwood Mac who were very big in England at the time. (Pre Stevie Nicks). The band was introduced by Mick Jagger & John Lennon.


Dec 5, 2008

Paul McCartney's latest project- The Fireman -"Electric Arguments"


When I first heard of Paul McCartney's new project the Fireman, I thought is was just electronic techno music like the past. Then I was listening to the Sirius "Coffee House" channel and I heard Paul's voice but was unfamiliar with the song, how Can this be?? I was shocked to see "Two Magpies" by The Fireman.

The Fireman is a duo that consists of Paul McCartney & producer Martin Glover known as "Youth". Glover is a founding member of the U.K. band Killing Joke. He is known for his electronic productions & psychedelic trance music.

The two first teamed up in 1993 when McCartney asked Youth to mix some songs from his "Off the Ground" album for 12" singles. They began with samples of those songs and a couple of Wings songs from "Back to the Egg": "Reception" & "the Broadcast". Soon Paul was so involved in the project an album made. The result was an electronic, techno, dance music album titled "Strawberries Oceans Ships Forest" credited to the Fireman. It never mentioned McCartney on the credits but rumors started circulating & eventually EMI confirmed them. The two quietly followed up with "Rushes" in 1998.

The project was asleep for 10 years until & the current release of "Electric Arguments". The announcement came on McCartney's official web site last month,marking the first time a Firemen project was promoted by Paul himself. Also for the first time a Fireman album has vocals on it. Many of the lyrics come from beat nick poets of the sixties, even the title was taken from a line in an Allen Ginsberg poem.The music itself is very experimental, and way beyond just samples. It goes every where into all genres, using layers of sounds & effects.

The album took only 13 days to make & most of it was improvised in the studio. McCartney claims there was a strict rule to complete each song in just one day. In comparing this new album with a regular solo project, Paul said, “ We had creative freedom to make this album any way we wanted. It could have been very carefully considered but that wouldn’t be The Fireman.” It reminds him of the freedom that was used during the Sgt. Pepper days. 40 years later it has almost a White Album feel.

It's the first Fireman album to chart debuting at #67 on the British album charts. The album is getting rave reviews and 4 stars from the likes of Rolling Stone, Uncut, All Music, the Daily Mail & Billboard. Paul said the Fireman might even tour!

I think the album/CD is great. I always love it when Paul does noncommercial stuff, and ventures away from the polished pop love song. This album is him unrehearsed at his best. There are echo's from all McCartney pasts. From Beatles tricks, to traces of Wings, rock n roll, acoustic guitar, piano, psychedelia, chants, trance, harmonica, flutes, vocals, & sound effects. More importantly it's all different & fresh. I can't stop listening to it.

A quick look at some of the songs:
"Light From Your Lighthouse" & 'Sun is Shining" sounds like they are off Wings albums.
"Sing the Changes" is modern pyschadelic, pepperish, wings, masterpiece.
"Highway" is a classic Paul rocker.
"Nothing Too Much Just Out of Sight" sounds like something of a modern day Helter Skelter before the editing.
"Two Magpies "sounds like it came off Flaming Pie or dare I say it, could even fit on the White Album.
"Traveling Light" is beautiful dreamy song that sound like your floating on a stream as fresh water trickles down on you on a warm summer day.
"Dance Til We're High" is a sixties type epic & maybe my fav..

Track list: (all songs written by Paul McCartney)
Nothing Too Much Just Out Of Sight Two Magpies
Sing The Changes
Travelling Light
Highway
Light From Your Lighthouse
Sun Is Shining
Dance 'Till We're High
Lifelong Passion
Is This Love?
Lovers In A Dream
Universal Here, Everlasting Now
Don't Stop Running

Dec 4, 2008

Anniversary of Shoeless Joe Jackson's Death

Joe Jackson was born into poverty in 1889 at Pickens, South Carolina. He began working at age six alongside his father in a mill and had no formal education. He was the only one of four brothers not in military service so he could work & take care of the family including his mother & handicapped sister.

He got his nickname in the minors,when his feet got so beat up & developed blisters as a result of new spikes. The next day the pain was so unbearable, he took off his shoes came to bat in only his sox & hit a triple. The name stuck forever. Joe called his favorite bat "Black Betsy" it was 36" long & weighed 48 ounces. It was the only bat he never got rid of. A very superstitious guy he believed bats only had a certain number of hits in them. When he slumped he dumped the bat. He collected hairpins he would find and keep them in his uniform pocket. When he slumped he dumped them too.

He arrived in Philadelphia but was traded to Cleveland. He hit .387 in 20 games & in his first full rookie season he batted .409. (The sixth best season batting average of all time). He would never bat below .300 in his eleven year career. He batted over .350 seven times and amazingly never won a batting title but came in 2nd three times & 3rd twice. He finished his career with a .356 batting average, third all time. He lead the league in hits twice, came in second twice & third twice. He had over 200 hits four times in his career. He also led the league in triples three times including the 2nd best single season mark after 1900 with 26 in 1912. In 1915 he was traded to the Chicago White Sox as they quickly became one of the leagues best team.


He would play in two World Series. First in 1917 beating the NY Giants where he batted .304. The second was the infamous 1919 Series where the White Sox were accused of throwing the Series for money, the situation was labeled the Black Sox Scandal. Joe Jackson batted .375 in the Series, had 12 hits, 6 RBIs, a home run and made no errors. Even his cheap owner Charles Comiskey testified three times he though Jackson was innocent. On the other side of the argument it is a fact that he did hit for a lower average in the games the Sox lost & an unusual amount of triples fell near Joe's left field position than usual.

The courts found Shoeless Joe innocent but Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis laid down the decree banning Jackson & seven other Black Sox from baseball for life. As a result he is not enshrined in Cooperstown but there are photos & a pair of his shoes in the Hall. The famous quote "Say it Aint So Joe" came from the incident, but never actually happened. It was a made up news paper story at the time.

After the ban it is believed he played organized ball in New York & New Jersey. He then went on Barnstorming teams with other Black Sox players. After baseball Joe would own & run a Barbecue Restaurant & then a liquor store.

A great story of Jackson's post baseball life happened at his liquor store. Ty Cobb and sportswriter Grantland Rice entered the store, but Jackson acted like he didn't know Cobb. Cobb finally asked Jackson, "Don't you know me, Joe?" Jackson replied, "Sure, I know you, Ty, but I wasn't sure you wanted to know me. A lot of them don't."

He died on December 5th 1951, in Grenville, South Carolina at age 62 of cirrhosis of the liver & a possible heart attack. In less than two weeks he was scheduled to appear on Ed Sullivan's "Toast of the Town" in an effort to clear his name.

In South Carolina the house he & his wife lived in has been renovated, moved & turned into the Joe Jackson Museum.