Music

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Tom Petty performs on stage during a 1981 Irvine, California concert. George Rose/Getty Images

Tom Petty

‘Free Fallin”

From his stage presence to his fashion, Tom Petty electrified audiences for decades. Celebrated rocker Tom Petty died at age 66 after suffering cardiac arrest at his California home on Monday. Although the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer is now gone, his music, his charisma, and his one-of-a-kind presence will live on.

After 40 years in the music industry, Tom Petty consistently stayed at the top of the charts.

But while his success never faltered, the “Free Fallin’” singer’s personal life wasn’t quite as smooth sailing. From suffering abuse as a child to going through a difficult divorce and subsequent addiction to heroin, Petty, fought through intense personal troubles to find ultimate happiness with his second wife Dana York.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers recently completed a summer tour with three nights at the Hollywood Bowl. The trek marked the band’s 40th anniversary and found him playing rarely played deep cuts like their first album’s opener, “Rockin’ Around (With You),” and a selection of Wildflowers cuts. It was intended to be his “last trip around the country.” He said though, that it wasn’t his intention to quit playing. “I need something to do, or I tend to be a nuisance around the house.”

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It was a Nuthouse

In 1974 the New York City music scene was shocked into consciousness by a band of misfits from Queens called the Ramones. Playing in seedy Bowery bar to a small group of fellow struggling musicians, the band struck a chord of disharmony that rocked the foundation of the ’70s music scene.

They were the four weirdest kids in Forest Hills, New York. An army brat who claimed to sell Nazi paraphernalia for morphine. A delinquent who dropped TV sets off roofs. A gangling freak with OCD. And even a quietly organised music obsessive…  the four weirdest kids in Forest Hills, mixed leather, pop art and the Three Stooges and accidentally revolutionised rock’n’roll.

Everybody knows the shaggy-haired, leather jacket-sporting punk rock band from NYC known as the Ramones. With hits such as “Blitzkrieg Bop” and “Sheena is a Punk Rocker,” the Ramones were one of the first bands to hone and define the garage-rock-based punk sound of the ’70s, taking influence from classic rock bands like The Who; greaser, doo-wop, and ’50s rocker culture; and the balls-to-the-wall energy and stripped-down songwriting of the likes of The Stooges and MC5, turning it into a formula that created a revolution. Whether or not you like the Ramones, it’s impossible to overstate their influence.

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From left: Dennis Wilson and Charles Manson. MICHAEL PUTLAND /GETTY BETTMANN

Charles Manson and the Beach Boys

“Did Charles Manson really write a song for the Beach Boys?”

Answer: It wasn’t written for the Beach Boys, but “Never Learn Not To Love” (on the Beach Boys’20/20 album) was indeed written by Charles Manson, and for a brief time in 1968, about a year before the Tate-LaBianca murders, Manson and Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson were acquaintances.

Charles Manson‘s murder spree in the summer of 1969 in Los Angeles left seven people dead and many of his cult-like “family” behind bars. But the bloodshed and trauma of that period affected others, too – like Beach Boy Dennis Wilson, Manson’s former roommate.

“Neither Dennis nor I nor anyone associated with the Beach Boys had any idea that Manson was involved in these murders,” Mike Love wrote in a memoir.

Still, he wrote that when Wilson found out about the murders, “The guilt was devastating.” He added, “Dennis [was] shaken to the core.”

Manson had come into their life by chance after Wilson picked up two female hitchhikers in 1968 on Sunset Strip and the women mentioned Manson as their guru. Dennis was the perfect mark – a famous, well-connected entertainer who could help a musical neophyte get discovered.”

Dennis’ marriage had broken up by June 1968, and Dennis was renting a former hunting lodge on Sunset Boulevard. That spring Dennis picked up two young women hitchhiking on Sunset Strip and brought them to his home.

He told them of his involvement with transcendental meditation founder Maharishi, “and the women said they too had a guru, named Charlie.”

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“What’s better than roses on your piano?

Tulips on your organ”

~Liberace….

Liberace, the American pianist and singer born Wladzio Valentino Liberace, was known for his flamboyant, uncomfortable fashion and conspicuous opulence. Everything about Liberace screamed a man who’d been given too much, and, boy, was he delighted by all of it. Who doesn’t look at the title to this tome and thrill at what gaudy decor features in each of those glitzy seven dining rooms in which Liberace entertained and cooked for such luminaries as Michael Jackson, King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, his beloved mother and a legion of female groupies?

In her 1964 essay Notes on Camp, Susan Sontag says “the hallmark of Camp is the spirit of extravagance”. Liberace bucked that rule – or so he’d surely say if the old stager were alive to sue anyone who commented on his sexuality being anything other than the rampant, heavily embroidered hetero strain.

Throughout Liberace’s long and lucrative career – his income averaged $5 million a year for more than 25 years – it was hard to make fun of him because he seemed to have so much fun making fun of himself. With his megawatt smile, his furry, feathery costumes, rhinestones as big as the Ritz, piano-shaped rings and a unique blend of Beethoven and the ”Beer Barrel Polka,” Liberace charmed millions with a flashiness that was almost too much to be believed.

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Ludwig Van Beethoven. Interest in Beethoven’s love life has focused largely on a letter he wrote in the summer of 1812, to an unidentified woman.

Beethoven’s Love Letters

O, My Immortal Beloved!

“My heart overflows with a longing to tell you so many things…”

Beethoven may never have married, but women had a huge influence and impact on his music and life. German composer Ludwig van Beethoven is considered one of the most important figures in the history of music. He continued to compose even while losing his hearing and created some of his greatest works after becoming totally deaf.

Around 1812 Beethoven wrote a long letter (10 pages) to some woman who he was obviously quite taken with. Sadly we will never know for certain who it was. However the letter itself was discovered after Beethoven’s death in a secret drawer where he also kept the Heiligenstadt Testament, some savings and some pictures.

Dr. Franz Wegeler, one of Beethoven’s oldest friends in Bonn, wrote that Beethoven “was always in love – sometimes so successfully that many handsome young men might have envied him!” Another doctor who treated him over a period of 10 years, around the time he composed his middle-quartets, wrote that Beethoven had a preference for graceful and fragile women (which incidentally reflected the physical type of his mother) but he usually kept their identities a secret from his friends and quite possibly from the women themselves.

That may not be the typical image we have of Beethoven the Composer – the titan with the unruly hair and a glower like he’d have lightening-bolts coming out of his eyes as if he were always under the power of inspiration, striding across the ages as one of the greatest creative artists known to man.

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Freddy Mercury

Someone To Love

Legendary Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, one of the greatest and most charismatic rock performers of all time, died 25 years ago, on Nov. 24, 1991. The official cause of death was bronchial pneumonia resulting from AIDS. Mercury would have turned 70 years old this year.

He’s “the most inspirational frontman of all time,” says My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way. A hard-rock hammerer, a disco glitterer, a rockabilly lover boy, Freddie Mercury was dynamite with a laser beam, his four-octave range overdubbed into a shimmering wall of sound on records such as “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Killer Queen.” Even as he was dying, Mercury threw himself into his majestic, operatic singing. Queen’s Brian May recalls that Mercury could hardly walk when the band recorded “The Show Must Go On” in 1990. “I said, ‘Fred, I don’t know if this is going to be possible to sing,’ ” May says. “And he went, ‘I’ll fing do it, darling’ — vodka down — and went in and killed it, completely lacerated that vocal.”

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Lemmy was the ultimate bachelor. The frontman was never married and he even hated the thought of living with a woman. He once said: "If you move in with someone, you lose all respect for them. All them dirty knickers on the towel rail, all that snorting and farting. Does that appeal to you? Because it doesn't to me. "When you first start dating someone, it's all about being on your best behaviour, and that initial magic. I never wanted the magic to stop." Brilliant.

Lemmy was the ultimate bachelor. The frontman was never married and he even hated the thought of living with a woman. He once said: “If you move in with someone, you lose all respect for them. All them dirty knickers on the towel rail, all that snorting and farting. Does that appeal to you? Because it doesn’t to me. “When you first start dating someone, it’s all about being on your best behaviour, and that initial magic. I never wanted the magic to stop.” Brilliant.

Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister

1945 -2015

Born to Lose, Lived to Win

Baddest Mother…… of Rock ‘n’ Roll

This is for Nige Baby…

Lemmy was a true hell-raiser and his tales of half a century of hard partying often left interviewers lost for words. Even in his older years he’d hang out in The Rainbow Bar on Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, with a glass of bourbon in one hand and a Marlboro red in the other, wearing his famous cowboy hat and the Iron Cross around his neck. And he sure lived life to the full. So much so, fans were beginning to think he was actually immortal.

He previously admitted he drank a bottle of Jack Daniel’s every day from the age of 30, he took speed for THREE decades, had run ins with the police and was rumoured to have bedded 2,000 women.

Lemmy made the shocking admission about his whisky addiction in the documentary Live Fast Die Old and fans were stunned when he revealed he’d cleaned up his act in 2013 after a health scare.

But he didn’t give up on his unhealthy lifestyle altogether, instead, he cut down on cigarettes and swapped from Jack Daniel’s and coke to vodka and orange – reportedly to help with his diabetes. Although, during an interview his assistant wondered whether swapping from one 40 per cent spirit topped with sugar to another 40 per cent spirit topped with sugar was really going to help.

“I like orange juice better,” Lemmy said. “So, Coca-Cola can f off.”

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John Phillips may easily be called one of the best pop songwriters of the later 20th century. He honed his songwriting and arranging skills with singing groups that gained a modicum of success. But his crowning musical achievement was the work he did with his '60s group the Mamas and the Papas. Photo: MTV

John Phillips may easily be called one of the best pop songwriters of the later 20th century. He honed his songwriting and arranging skills with singing groups that gained a modicum of success. But his crowning musical achievement was the work he did with his ’60s group the Mamas and the Papas. Photo: MTV

Forbidden Fruit

A Lifetime of Debauched and Reckless Behaviour

John Phillips, destructiveness was too extravagant even for Keith Richards, who once kicked Phillips out of his house for being too uncontrollable

Unlike some other musician/addiction profiles, the John Phillips story is not necessarily one with a cheerful ending.

Mackenzie Phillips, his daughter, was 10 years old when her father taught her how to roll a joint. She had her first taste of cocaine at age 11. At 14, she landed a role in the film American Graffiti , and one week after her 18th birthday, she was arrested for the first time.

When she was 10, her dad gave her, her first adult job.

“Dad said, ‘I’m going to give you a project,’ Dad had a job for me! This was exciting. I was in.”

“I got really good at rolling joints. I was the official joint roller for all the adults.”

McKenzie says she was allowed so much freedom as a kid that the only rules her dad gave her were to spend one night a week at home and to always change her clothes before returning in the early morning.

“A lady never wears evening clothes during the day. It’s cheap,” John Phillips, who died in 2001, told her.

He did have one boundary. One day, Mackenzie found a purple pill in her dad’s bedroom.

She instinctively took it. But it turned out not to be just any pill — it was the last of the LSD pills made by the famous drug cook Owsley Stanley, and it was a collector’s item among moneyed celebrity druggies of the time.

“It was as if I’d crashed a normal dad’s Porsche, he said, ‘You took my last hit of Owsley. You’re grounded!’ ”

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Beach Boys in a Yellow Jalopy in 1962. COURTESY OF CAPITOL RECORDS ARCHIVE

Beach Boys in a Yellow Jalopy in 1962. COURTESY OF CAPITOL RECORDS ARCHIVE

The Beach Boys’ Crazy Summer

The 50th Reunion Tour was a World Concert Tour by The Beach Boys

Inside the group’s 50th anniversary 2012 reunion tour: How the legendary group fell apart and came back together and how Brian Wilson gets along with his old bandmates.
“The vibe in Burbank is collegial, but each Beach Boy is locked into his own orbit. Wilson and Love tend to communicate through the musical directors they’ve retained from their respective touring bands; Jardine, Johnston, and Marks hover on the margins. Over lunch, Jardine says he’s been urging Love to open the second half of the set with ‘Our Prayer,’ the hushed choral prelude to Smile, but so far, Love has been brushing him off. ‘With him, you never know if it’s confrontational or uncomfortable because he’s able to mask any kind of negativity,’ Jardine says. ‘You never know if you’ve (expletive) up or not.’ When I mention ‘‘Til I Die,’ a stark Wilson solo composition from 1971, Johnston, who’s sitting nearby, insists that it was ‘the last Brian Wilson recording. Ever. The career ended for me right with that song.’ But why? ‘Because he was still 100 percent,’ Johnston explains. ‘Now, he’s … you know, a senior guy.'”

Brian Wilson, the lumbering savant who wrote, produced and sang an outlandish number of immortal pop songs back in the 1960s with his band, the Beach Boys, is swiveling in a chair, belly out, arms dangling, next to his faux-grand piano at the cavernous Burbank, Calif. studio where he and the rest of the group’s surviving members are rehearsing for their much-ballyhooed 50th Anniversary reunion tour, which was set to start in 2012.

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Keith Moon Iggy Pop Birthday Party 1974 Beverly Hills.

Keith Moon Iggy Pop Birthday Party 1974 Beverly Hills.

“Moon the Loon”

Let’s check out Keith Moon. This is a bumpy, thrill-filled ride. It seems no rocker was crazier than Moonie

Live fast and die young. Hasn’t that been the mantra of many rock stars? Or, as the Who themselves put it, “Hope I die before I get old.”

The lifestyle of Keith Moon, the wild drummer of the Who, one of the greatest rock bands of all time, certainly exemplifies this party-hardy lifestyle. If any rocker has partied harder than Keith Moon, who would it be?

One of the reasons the Who surged to prominence in the middle 1960s was because Keith Moon played the drums like a man possessed by a demon. He hit the drums so hard it appeared he was trying to destroy them – as he played them. And if that wasn’t apparent, after many concerts he would kick his kit about the stage and sometimes fling it into the audience, the consequences of such recklessness be damned.

Keith Moon, commonly known to many as Moon the Loon, was also quite the joker, clown and prankster too, though his sense of humour often rubbed folks the wrong way. For instance, Moon would dress up as a Nazi officer – accentuated by a tiny Hitlerian moustache – and then drive through a Jewish neighbourhood, throwing in a “Sieg heil!” or two along the way. And his penchant for destroying hotel rooms became legendary, even among rockers who found this ritual de rigueur.

Likewise, Moon’s partying became monstrous in scope. He even put Jim Morrison to shame. Both would gobble pharmaceuticals by the handfuls, without even knowing for sure what the heck they were. Of course, this heedless self-indulgence came at a price for these rock superstars. Both died young, Moon at the young age of 32, though he probably looked ten years older at the time of his demise in 1978.

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