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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Remembering Phoebe Snow...

    I didn't want any more time to slip by without mentioning Phoebe Snow. The vast majority of people remember her for one thing, her 1975 hit single, "Poetry Man", and of course we will get a view of that here, but to my mind it's the rest of her life that made her memorable.

     She was discovered singing at the Bitter End club in New York City in 1972 and a few years later released her highly acclaimed first album. The album went top five, and Snow was nominated for a Grammy in the new artist category, soon afterward however came the event that changed her life.

     She was in a brief marriage to Phil Kearns and in December of 75, a daughter Valerie was born with severe brain damage. Rather than putting her in an institution, she chose instead to take care of her at home. Because of her stunning voice and unique ability to sing proficiently in just about any genre, it was difficult to pin her down, not to mention she never interested in finding a niche musically saying, "No creative person should ever produce the same thing over and over." This along with her commitment to taking care of her daughter set her career back, never quite ending it, but never allowing for the momentum needed for personal success in music.  

      She would do studio work, and did several ads over the years for different products as well as an occasional TV appearance. She's also would record the occasional album, but didn't care much for touring and the demands of her as a mother never would allow her to tour extensively. Because of this, most record labels did not promote the little output she had.  She did studio work for many artists, and friends such as Howard Stern kept her on the front burner and in the public consciousness. In fact she sang at Stern's wedding in 2008.

     Valerie died at the age of 31 in 2007, and Phoebe threw herself back into music not so much to make up for lost time, but as therapy over the loss of her, "best friend". 2010 was the year that Snow intended to make an album and for the first time in years back it up with a tour, but in January she suffered a stroke and slipped into a coma. The last 15 months have been battles with phenomena and congestive heart failure until her death on Tuesday.

     Look back on her career, she commented to the LA Times in 2008, "In hindsight, I missed out on some good or productive years. On the other hand … I really made the only choice I could under the circumstances." The fact of the matter was she did have a choice, and although it might have kept the world from knowing Phoebe Snow, it makes her even more memorable.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Lynyrd Skynyrd--Sweet Home Alabama (1974)

    One of my several hobbies include amateur meteorology. In fact, spent a stint as a storm spotter when living in Missouri. Those of us who study weather and it's impact w ere in the same turn awe struck and sickened by the events Wednesday. At this writing there were over 300 deaths, and possibility injuries over 1,000. The truly frightening thing is that watching the storms bulldoze its way through the south, it was apparent that for some, there was no "safe place" to go . And the destruction cut from Arkansas right up the southland. If you have not thought about it, please consider a contribution to the Red Cross by going to, 
     We'll get back to normal stuff tomorrow, but for at least today, may our minds continue to be on our brothers and sisters here in the south who are hurting....

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Forgotten R & B Artist: Buddy Ace--The Silver Fox of the Blues

    Jimmy Land was born in Jasper Texas in 1936. Like many who sang R&B, he first cut his musical teeth in gospel with several different groups, including one with Joe Tex. During the early 50's his focus began to shift, and soon was touring with Bobby Bland and Junior Parker's band. He signed a deal with Duke records in 1955 and began a long string of great, but largely forgotten songs. During this time he also became, Buddy Ace, named after the just deceased singer Johnny Ace. For a great article concerning this you can click here:

    Buddy never had the hits, but he left behind a group of strong singles, and was always a large draw on the concert circuit in Texas, Oklahoma and then later in California He died of a heart attack singing on stage 40 years to the day after his namesake.The first clip was from a live performance in Germany in the early 90' you could see his voice was as strong as ever. You can hear songs like this one and many other oldies, popular and obscure, just by clicking on the link at the right. A player will open up in another tab and you can hear the best songs on the planet.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Cuba Gooding Jr.'s Dad.....smooth soul from the 70's

When you say, Cuba Gooding, many think of junior, who won an Academy Award for best supporting actor in "Jerry McGuire". The blog this morning however, is all about dad....

Dudley Gooding was born in Barbados who fled to Cuba in 1936, where he met and married. The couple were affiliated with Pan Africanist leader Marcus Garvey, which led to her murder. On her deathbed, he promised to name his first born son Cuba....which he did in New York City on this day in 1936.

Senior's claim to fame is as lead singer of the Main Ingredient from 1972 to 1977, he left for a solo carrier with Motown and had a few hits in the late 70's/early 80's. Here are their two biggest hits, "Everybody Plays the Fool" (1972), and  "Just Don't Want to Be Lonely" (1974) hear songs like this and more...please click the live365 banner to the right....

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Gary Wright--Dream Weaver (1976)

    Gary Wright was first known professionally as an actor. In 1954 he played Florence Henderson's son in the production of Fanny, but was focusing on music by the late 50's. Wright traveled to Europe to study, but instead became the keyboardist and singer of the British band, Spooky Tooth in 67. He recorded a couple of solo albums in 71 and 72,  but remained in the band until 1974. His big year was 1976 as he reached #2 on  the charts with "Dream Weaver" and "Love Is Alive", after that having another half dozen singles reach the top 100. He has been seen in several incarnations of Ringo Starr's All-Star Band over the last few years. Happy 68th Birthday to the Dream hear more oldies like this, and more obscure the banner to the right and hear the best in oldies....

Monday, April 25, 2011

The first Spanish group to hit the charts: Los Bravos--Black is Black (1966)

     Today is Mike Kogel's 66th birthday!

      Mike (who was born in Berlin)  was the lead vocalist for the group Los Bravos, who in 1966 became the first group of Spanish origin to hit the charts. They had somewhat better success in Europe, but "Black is Black" was the only song to reach any kind of popularity here in the states. Don't forget to check out the best oldies station on the planet. Just click to the banner on the right. Happy Monday everyone!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sunday Morning Vault: Audience--Indian Summer (1971)

    Audience was a rock group from Britian from 69 to 72. The line up on this record was Howard Werth, Keith Gemmell, Trevor Williams, and Tony Connor. This was the second of four singles, but the only one that charted  in the US...To hear music like this and others from the past...just click on the live365 banner on the right for the best oldies on the planet....

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Big O.....

There was only one Roy Orbison, who would have been 75 today. He always had a mysterious streak about him with the dark glasses and all. Those glasses seemed to hide much more than poor eyesight. It hid his painful shyness, and then later the pain of losing his wife in a car accident and this two eldest sons in a house fire. The operatic sound of his voice made everything he sang sound like it was the most important thing in the world to him. There are many who sing, "I lost my baby"...when he sang it, you felt that someone needed to put him on suicide watch. He was a true innovator, doing things his own way, and thankfully before his death in 1988, had the opportunity to not only mount an astounding comeback, but to watch a new generation show appreciation for his music. I still get chills hearing his voice....

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Beatles: Ticket To Ride (1965)

It's Friday, my morning is busy with stuff that isn't linked to me being near the computer...and there is nothing that jumps out me as far as a blog goes this morning. So what to do? You can never go wrong with the Beatles. Will have a fuller blog tomorrow morning....have a great Friday.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Tony Orlando & Dawn: Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree (1973)

The idea of using a yellow ribbon has been a part of culture since the English civil war in the 17th century as soldiers would wear yellow sashes out to war. This was visualized in the U.S. cavalry as early as the 1880's by the painter Fredric Remington, although there was nothing in the dress code that made it specific to a man's uniform to wear a kerchief. We see it in the actual form of a yellow ribbon to remember a loved one out to war in a popular marching song from the World War I, called, "'Round Her Neck She Wears a Yeller Ribbon".

The idea of it being linked to a convect has been an American folk tale since at least the late 1950's, and it was this tale that inspired Irwin Levine and L. Russell Brown to write this song in the summer of 1972. Interestingly enough this was shortly after ABC had showed a movie starring James Earl Jones called, "Going Home" which had the same storyline. This movie had been based on a New York Times article by Pete Hamill, written in 1971. Hamill sued the songwriters for taking his idea, but folklorists proved this had been a story that had around for at least 13 or 14 years. Coincidental?  For sure, but it could not be proven that the idea for the song was taken directly from the article/movie.

Tony Orlando and Dawn were riding the crest of a wave begun in 1970, which at the time was just Orlando and studio singers. When "Candita" and "Knock Three Times" became hits, Telma Hopkins and Joyce Vincent Wilson were added. There had been a lull in 71 and 72, but hit big with "Tie a Yellow Ribbon", which sparked a huge resurgence in their popularity and led them to several more big hits in the mid-70's along with a television show from 74-76,

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

New installment of the "History of Rock and Pop" tonight!!

Just a quick reminder that our newest installment of "The History of Rock and Pop" will be presented at 9pm tonight and again at 2am tomorrow morning. Both times are US Central time. We will be checking out the sounds and cultural events of the summer of be there!! Thanks!

Atlanta Rhythm Section: Imaginary Lover (1978) & Angel (1975)

We had some storms come through the Nashville area last night, and although it wasn't a major problem or anything, am sure there are some people who didn't get a lot of sleep. So...thought I'd mellow out this Tuesday morning. People categorize ARS as "southern rock", but they came across to me as more jazzy in their approach. Either way, every single they put out in the 70's was of top notch quality and are worth a listen. I'm just picking out two for your listening the way, the recording of "Angel" was a re-recording done in 97. Great version however...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

It's surf music time!! The Astronauts: Baja & Hot Doggin' (1963)

From the beginnings of recorded pop music in the early 20th century, record companies have attempted to follow trends. If something works for one company, the others will try to emulate it. One of the trends in the early 60's was surf music. Pioneers in the genre like Dick Dale were equaled and surpassed by The Beach Boys, and then every major record executive had to have at least one surf group in their stable. RCA Victor hitched it's wagons to "The Astronauts" out of Boulder, Colorado (I not sure what Boulder has to do with surfing...but anyways..). Instrumentally, I think they were better than the BB's, however no one in the group had anywhere close to the talents of Brian and Carl Wilson, and without strong vocals they were never able to fully distinguish themselves. They produced two real gems. One was "Baja" which hit the charts for one week in 1963, the other, "Hot Doggin" never placed at all, but both have become popular with the surf music set over the years, which secures their place in that section of rock history....

Monday, April 18, 2011

In Praise of: The Association

   I still remember going to the record shop (in Sears department store methinks...), and buying the 45 of "Windy". Even at the age of 7, it was obvious that harmonies were to define my thinking musically and the Association was IT (had not discovered Brian Wilson as of yet). They defined "soft rock" which has served them well over the years, but it's the one thing that has kept music critics from looking at them seriously (which is a problem with music critics over the years...they mistake the craft of making music with their own tastes). The hits were all light, but well crafted pop, however listening to their albums show members who were willing to experiment. As all musical experiments in the late 60's, all were interesting if not always listenable. However, take a listen to "Requiem For The Masses" as an example of what happens when it's done right. The peak was about two years and they recorded what has become more than a few pop standards. They recorded for years after that, even rejoining the charts as late as 1981, and now tour as an oldies act. As we look back at them we see most of all a group who's vocal harmonies and underrated musical sophistication demands that we take a second look....and so we shall....

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday Morning Vault: Ashton, Gardner & Dyke: Resurrection Shuffle (1970)

The vault opens up to find a ditty with a tasty horn section. Tony Ashton (keys), Roy Dyke (drums), Kim Gardner (bass) came together in 1968. Ashton was an uncredited contributor to George Harrison's debut album, "All Things Must Past". However Harrison and Eric Clapton repaid by helping with their second album which "Resurrection Shuffle" was a part. They had no success with follow up recordings and split up in 1973. All three went on to have successful careers as session players.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

David Soul: Don't Give Up On Us Baby (1977)

On this date in 1977, David Soul hit #1 with "Don't Give Up On Us Baby"....

Born David Solberg in 1973,  his mother was a teacher and his father was a Lutheran minister and Professor of History and Political Science.  At the age of 19, he turned down a contract to play for the Chicago White Sox to study Political Science. While at college in Mexico, he learned how to play guitar which changed everything for him. Interestingly enough however what initially garnered him success was his acting. His first big TV role was playing Joshua Bolt in the ABC series "Here Comes the Brides", then in 1972 he co-stared with Arthur Hill's law partner in  "Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law". He was in several notable roles after that including the film, "Magnum Force" with Clint Eastwood. However, it was his role as Det. Ken Hutchinson on the show, "Starsky and Hutch" that put him on the map....
In the middle 70's, he formed the group, "Band of Friends" and began dabbling in music again. This leads us to the featured song today. There were two other songs that charted as well in 77, and since has recorded sporadically, the latest one being in 1997. He continues to perform on stage and screen as well.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Frank and Nancy Sinatra: Somethin' Stupid (1967)

    Deciding the subject for a blog depends on a couple of things. The first would be who's discography I'm studying at any particular moment, and the second is a combination of rock history (what happens on a certain date) and my own gut instinct. The last reason is probably why Nancy Sinatra is the first artist to get a second blog. If you look earlier (Feb. 17th to be exact) you can read about, "These Boots Are Made For Walkin". This time around she is paired with her dad as they sing, "Somethin Stupid". I"ve been waiting for a chance to write about the Chairman of the Board, and can promise you this will not be the last time either. On this day in 1967, they hit big with the only #1 song by a dad/daughter duo....

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Making it on the charts with four different groups in the same year....

Happy 69th birthday to Tony Burrows!!

In 1970, Tony was one busy man having sung on four different songs, with four different groups and all of them making the charts. In fact he was the only person to sing on BBC's "Top of the Pops" three times, with three different groups. His distinctive voice is still heard as oldies stations play a couple of the songs often. Let's run down the list.....there was The Brotherhood of Man (Jan.), Edison Lighthouse (Feb.), White Plains (March), and The Pipkins (April). All four are included here for your listening pleasure. Burrows was seen on the US charts one more time in 1974...and quite a song it was....I've put it on at the end just for fun....

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Happy 65th Birthday to the Rev. Al....

    The tension between the gospel music and worldly lyrics is one of the things that make R&B so appealing. Most all of the performers in this genre cut their teeth in the church and in the case of Al Green, his musical education began in a gospel quartet with his family called The Greene Brothers (He dropped the "e" when he began a solo career). His father kicked him our of the group with little Al was caught listening to Jackie Wilson records.....

     He won fame in the early 70's with a collection of songs that was some of the smoothest and sexiest sounds of that era...with that came all of the trappings (secular ones that is...) that being a popular young singer brings. An incident where a girlfriend assaulted him (with a pot of boiling grits no less...) and then committed suicide contributed to a reassessment of his life. This led him back to the church and in 1976 he became an ordained minster of the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Memphis TN, which he remains to this day. From 1981 to 89, he released a series of critically acclaimed gospel albums, and now records in both genres.   He continues to record quality music, both sacred and secular, and today the Bus wishes the Rev. Al Green a happy 65th birthday....

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Happy Birthday to David Cassidy

I've been doing this blog almost every day for 4 months now without ever resorting to ask the question, "what would my readers want to see?". Oldies music is such a broad subject, that I figured that whatever I wrote would be read. This morning there are two birthdays that caught my eye. One was Tiny Tim, the folk singer who's, "Tiptoe Through The Tulips" was a hit in the late 60's.....and then I see the other and quickly cave to what I know will be a much more popular blog....shame on me.

The debate among middle school girls in the early 70's was, "David Cassidy or Donny Osmond". I never fully understood (until much later) why Michael Jackson wasn't in the debate, but was always amused how little talent entered into the equation. Of course, from the early 60's till now, talent had little to do in the "teen idol" star maker machinery. The story of David Cassidy was one of who wanted to go the path of a rock musician, but followed the door (Television) that was open to him. Unfortunately, the "machinery" behind the door almost ate him alive, but as opposed to many teen idols, he re-invented himself and has enjoyed a long and fruitful career as an actor/singer.

As we look back 40 years we see that the actual music of The Partridge Family and David Cassidy has held up incredibly well. Much like the Monkees, they were made for TV, but the music written was top notch pop. What separated them from the other TV groups was the fact that Cassidy was a true charismatic figure who not only looked good on the screen, but had a great voice. In interviews I've seen over the years, he has come to peace over who he was, and who he is now which is always great to those of us on the Bus which him a great 61st birthday. And....we'll have that blog about Tiny Tim soon....I promise....:--)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday Morning Rock: Golden Earring--Radar Love (1974)

The rock band that has success AND longevity are few and far between.. The number of bands who have both with basically the same lineup are even fewer. Which is what makes the dutch band, Golden Earring so interesting. They formed in 1961 as The Tornadoes, but changed it after finding another band with the same name. Since 1970 they have had the same lineup and with it soon came fame in Europe and in the US with "Radar Love" in 1974, and then again with "Twilight Zone" in 1982. They have not toured the US since 1984 choosing to focus on mostly European countries, and they have an interesting "one month on-one month off" policy...which may be why they have never suffered burnout....

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sunday Morning Vault: Archibald--Stack-A-Lee (1950)

Archibald's real name was Leon T. Gross, and he was one of the hundreds of barrel-house piano players hailing from New Orleans. A few like Professor Longhair were recorded, but many were not, playing in the clubs and bars of the city. Because of illness and disputes with the musician's union, he never recorded much, nor did he tour, but the 11 tracks that remain of the man are top quality. He had a long standing gig at the Poodle Patio Club on Bourbon Street, and died of a heart attack in 1973.

Stack-A-Lee was many of the variations of the folk song, "Stagger Lee" that was written to tell the story of  the murder of Billy Lyons by Stagger Lee Shelton in 1895. The song was published in 1910, and has a long history with many different versions. The most famous of course was in Lloyd Price in 1959, although the version was toned down greatly so that it might be "acceptable" for radio listeners.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

It's one for the money....

Sixty-nine years ago today, Carl Perkins was born in Tiptonville TN. It could be argued that Perkins was the greatest influence on the The Beatles, as John Lennon and George Harrison were both not only big fans, but imitators of his style...especially in the early days. In fact his style and influence far out weighed his actual chart action, but you cannot say, "Rockabilly" without thinking of Carl Perkins....I can't decide which video to play, and such a cast of players along with I'll play em' all....happy Saturday everyone!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Happy Birthday to Steve Howe from Yes!

Today is the 64th birthday for guitarist Steve Howe. He has been in several bands over the years, but his place in the history of rock will be secure from his work as lead guitar player for the group Yes. He is still touring with Yes as well as doing solo work as well. Have a happy Friday y'all...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Forgotten R&B Artist: Calvin Arnold

Calvin Arnold was one of the many artists who were popular within a certain region (this time in Georgia), but other than a song or two, never made it nation wide. He started out with The Gardenias in the early 60's then out on his own. He recorded one great song after another for almost a 10 year period. To my knowledge he is still alive in Georgia, but is out of the music biz. His appearance on the pop charts was relegated to "Funky Way" in 1968, but as you will hear, I think he had several songs that were much better that never saw the light of day. Hopefully, this will encourage you to seek out the sounds of this underrated singer....

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Blue Swede: Hooked On A Feeling (1974)

Blue Swede (Hinke Ekestubbe sax, Tommy Berglund trp, Anders Berglund keyb, Micke Areklew git, Bo Liljedahl b, Janne Guldback) was formed as a backup band for singer Bjorn Skifs in 1973. They picked up on a version of B.J. Thomas' "Hooked On a Feeling" done by Jonathan King (who actually produced the album), using that very distinctive opening. They did several other covers including a knock out version of The Association's 'Never My Love', but was done charting in the US just a little over a year later. The group broke up in 76, but Skifs still continues to record and is still popular in his native Sweden.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Happy Birthday to Alan Clarke of The Hollies.....

The Bus wishes Alan Clarke, former lead vocalist of The Hollies, a happy 69th birthday......

Monday, April 4, 2011

Muddying the of the great influences on Rock and Roll...

On this day in 1915, McKinley Morganfield, better known as Muddy Waters was born in Mississippi. We could not have a relevant discussion about rock and roll without him. The great guitarists from the 60's who became the launching pad for all of modern rock; Hendrix, Page, Clapton, Allman, were influenced heavily by Waters. Am going to play a couple (or three) songs that he is best known for. Happy Monday all...

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sunday Morning Vault: Louis Armstrong--Hello Dolly (1964)

Entire books have been written about Satchmo and his mark on popular music in the 20th Century....and it's Sunday morning and should be a time for kicking back, staying quiet and am going to do all three. Happy Sunday everyone!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Saturday Morning Rock: Argent--Hold Your Head Up (1972)

I do not like to rush blogs, but am going to be busy teaching students all morning, and know many of you have busy Saturdays wanted to get this out asap. Rod Argent was the keyboard player for The Zombies and left in 70 to form his own band. Along with Russ Ballard, they crafted some very tasty progressive rock. We'll take a closer look at the group down the road, but wanted to share with you the album (and brilliant) version of "Hold Your Head Up".....happy Saturday everyone!!

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Archies: Sugar, Sugar (1969)/Who's Your Baby (1970)

The Archies were created by Don Kirshner in a desire to have a band that "doesn't talk back" after being fired by The Monkees. It was based on the comic book of the same name and had a couple of singer/songwriters who would achieve popularity in the 70's. Ron Dante recorded an album under the name, The Cuff Links and had a #1 hit with "Tracy" about the same time as "Sugar, Sugar" hit the charts. He spent much of the 70's as the producer for Barry Manilow. Andy Kim had a big hit in 1974 with, "Rock Me Gently". Both continue to work n the music business.

By the way...that female voice on "Sugar, Sugar"?? That's Dante singing in a falsetto.....Have a happy Friday!!