WOW - WHAT A RUSH
It's amazing how some people expect you to make something out of nothing. I mean, I'm always here to plug a good band, but it would be nice to have something to go on. When you have nothing to say it really is difficult to make a news item. But I remember what good ol' Tommy Vance said many rockin' moons ago - "I just let the music do the talkin'". (I think Aerosmith had a similar idea). And no amount of chat is gonna make a bad band sound good. But if you have a good band booked, and punters are few on the ground, it does make good sense to at least shout about it. Then, if the punters don't turn up and it was a crackin' gig; you may be out of pocket but you can get a massive banner printed reading "TOLD YOU SO". [For fuck's sake, Nige, get to the bloody point]. Well it's THIS SATURDAY at The Three Tuns - yes, that hot, sweaty but oh so atmospheric venue, hosting a brilliant RUSH Tribute - RUSHED. Rushed had the honour of headling the Rush Eucon 2020 which took place over two days in October 2020 at Langtry’s – The Royal Hotel, Crewe. [So how much to get in then Nige?] I hear you all say (I've got really good ears). As if you don't know Paul by now - it's TOTALLY FREE. Let's make this a gig that Paul doesn't lose money on....... so get along and have a few drinks.
It's this Saturday (the 26th) RUSHED, on around 9. You know you'll regret not going.........
That okay for you Paul? Did me best mate, no pics, no blurb - just "give us a push for Rushed this Saturday". I mean, c'mon...
Just heard from Karen at The Magnesia Bank in North Shields. The Stevestock Sunday on September 12 managed to raise over £1,000 for the McMillans Cancer charity. Loadsa pics on their Facebook page.
As only one (that's just one!) band has asked for their video to be added to our "LOCAL ROCK BAND VIDEOS" then I have the option of either leaving the UK/DC video filmed at Trillians linked for ever - or scrapping the idea completely and going back to various videos under the title "CELEBRATING ROCK AND METAL". er . . . wonder what I should do.
I'm quite happy to help bands who want to help themselves.....
Sunday morning shout goes out to 'Brummy' for pointing out that the ticket prices shown for Trillians ticketed gigs on our (normally trustworthy) Gig Listings page do not show the full price. So I have painstakingly checked every price and added the fees so what is shown is exactly what you pay. Cheers Brummy. A full 20/20 for you then.
I know it has been only a few days but I was beginning to think our local bands just didn't want any publicity. The new 'LOCAL ROCK BAND VIDEOS' link [over to the right] garnered absolutely no attention. I thought it would be a good place for local Rock bands to show off what they can do - and was just about to admit the idea was another turkey; then just last night (Wed) Bon from UK/DC sent in a link to a live video taken at their recent Trillians gig. Also won't do any harm to build up some more interest for The Tynedale Beer Festival where they are headlining. So (and I'm sure Bon and the lads will be pleased to hear) it will stay there until some other bunch of publicity-seeking Rockers take the opportunity to showcase their wares. So c'mon guys, I'm trying me best to help out 'ere .............................
The Tynedale Beer Festival gig with headliners UK/DC and hard on their heels Deep Purple In Rock doesn't look like there will be door entry. Tickets are still available - but only for the next 24 hours. And the time now . . . beep beep beep . . . is 12.33pm on Thursday 2nd. And if you're interested in watching the progress being made at the festival site then click here.
It's always sad when a quality local rockin' band decides to call it a day. Even more so when it seems there are not many (if any, dare we say?) bands able or willing to step into those aforementioned shoes.
But on a totally unrelated note: make the most of ROCK SOLID in the next few months..............
The advert says it all but . . . well, you'd be surprised, so we repeat the deets here:
Blackhall Community Centre Hesleden Road TS27 4LG
Saturday 13th November 2021 Doors 6-45 curfew 11-30 Tickets £10 from Centre or £11 online from Ents24..
And please note that this is a ticketed event only - there will be NO walk ups for this gig.
Sunday Sep 5 - £14.45 https://www.tynedalebeerfestival.org.uk/tickets
1.45pm Blues Jam
3.15pm Ma Kelly's Boys
5.30pm Deep Purple in Rock
Tynedale Beer Festival, Tynedale Park, Corbridge--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
UPDATE ON THE UPDATE: All positions now filled [8.58pm]
UPDATE: The Crook Hotel for Sunday has just been sorted. [5.40]
GIGS HERE IF YOU WANT 'EM
Didn't realise that all the North-East bands had all the bookings they need! There are three pubs that are still wanting bands for this weekend - one for tonight, one for tomorrow and one for Monday. Keep checking our Stop Press page for gigs.........
Life is just choc full of disappointment and I'm afraid we have more for people who hold tickets and are looking forward to the Mercury and May concert at Boldon on Friday September 3. This gig has been cancelled and rescheduled for January of next year. Riffs understands that full refunds will be given and the duo are most apologetic for any inconvenience the cancellation has caused. [pic is from a previous Boldon gig]
FREE CONVENTION FRIDAY NOVEMBER 19
This year's event will see all three very fine bands covering FREE's material in depth. WALK IN MY SHADOW is dedicating their whole set to tracks from the 'Fire & water' and 'Highway' albums as a belated 50th Anniversary tribute. The night should make for a very fine fitting tribute to our favourite band: Free.
This year the event is taking place at The Cullercoats Club; this is a smaller venue than both the Park Hotel and The Wallsend Memorial Hall, but it was decided to change venues this year to create a more intimate atmosphere with a great sound and a good view from all seats. The club has a limited capacity of 200 and there are just 76 tickets remaining to be sold, so early booking is advisable.
Tickets are £15 from club, £20 door, or £16.50 via the following link Ents24 https://www.ents24.com/.../the-annual-free.../6227692.
There are a few tickets available from the club itself and anyone who can't pay by card or visit the club can contact Bill by telephone 07948017380 or 01282868352.
Door open 6.45 PM all times are approximate
7.15 THE STEALER
Excellent Band making their first Convention appearance performing rarer Free material from all the albums.
8.15 Raffle collection during Film show.
8.40 WALK IN MY SHADOW - Guitarist Dave Morris performed with Rabbit at the 1991 Free Convention. The band is excellent and will be performing tracks from the Fire & water, Highway and My Brother Jake sessions as a belated 50th Anniversary tribute.
9,30 Charity raffle drawn and Auction with some prizes donated by Paul Rodgers.
10.00 ABSOLUTE FREE - Covering classic Free from all the albums (the band went down a storm in 2019)
Watts, who has been with the band since the early 1960s heyday, pulled out of their US tour just weeks ago following an unspecified medical procedure.
It was initially reported that he was taking time to recover with the band saying they hoped to reunite with him again soon.
However his publicist confirmed today that Charlie had passed away "peacefully" surrounded by his loved ones.
FORGET TICKETS - EVERYONE IN FREE!
For any Bon Jovi fans out there (I'm saying nowt) if you want to see Bon Jovi Forever in December in Middlesbrough it will cost you £11.75 for a ticket; if you were in a mind to travel to Shildon it would cost you £13.95 a ticket. But Paul Tuns has wangled for them to play tonight (Friday 20) and the entrance fee is . . . wait for it . . ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!.Just waltz straight in with a beaming smile that says "Wow, I've just saved a shitload of cash". But, as good a deal as this is, Paul has gone even one better, classic Rock afficianados The Kill is support band. So, both fans should set their sights on The Three Tuns, Sheriffs Hill, Gateshead and, well, as much as you can I suppose, enjoy the sounds of Bon Jovi.......
I, of course, will be enjoying myself much, much more as I will be banging myself on the head with a hammer, interspersed with bouts of watching some paint dry. OVER - YOU MISSED IT!!!
UPDATE: Final total for the Stan Morson charity night is a very respectable £3277.50 Wow, just WOW.
Last Friday night was Stan Morson’s brain cancer charity gig with the Sneaky Blinders playing in Dubmire club. I’d hoped to be able to give you a total raised for the evening, but on Saturday the total hadn’t been finalised, it was standing at £2815.00 when I last heard and the organisers confidently expected it to be over 3 grand by the end. The band played their usual blinder, but the set was definitely geared more toward the less Rock inclined audience than us metalheads. The gig had been sold out for months and it did my heart good to see so many friends from gigs in both the old Buffs days and the Kepier hall. Stan was there, larger than life despite his illness, and loving being back in the heart of his community again.
Unless the asteroid of doom falls in the interim, I’ll be in the Glendale on Friday
RIFFS BECOMES TRANSPARENT
Don't think I need to state how annoyingly frustrating it is to see "Tickets £xx" and to think what a good value gig this is - only to log on to a ticket site to find that all sorts of 'fees' are added that brings the price way way higher. [Ah, no, well, you ordered on a weekday so that's an extra £1, and you ordered via a mobile phone, so that's another £1, and it's so expensive and time consuming for me to click this button to send out the ticket so . . . ] Now, Riffs can do sod all about the price - but we at least can be honest about it. I've done a bit of checking and (head bowed low) our Listings page (and indeed adverts below) are prime examples of this anomaly. So, from this second on, any gigs where tickets are available MUST show the FULL price for purchase. I will personally check and make sure that the price stated on our Listings page is the price you pay. Any readers spot a price I've missed then email me immediately on firstname.lastname@example.org.
And talking of honesty, heaven knows why this age-old joke sprung to mind:
"Hey, John, you'll never believe what happened to me last night. I was in the pub and got talking to this gorgeous girl with a stunning hourglass figure and after a few drinks we went back to my place. She couldn't wait to show me her stocking-clad body and lacy bra, it was then she let slip she was under age. After a few seconds of deliberation I told her to get dressed, called her a taxi and she left"
"That's some story, strange ending though."
"Why, what would you have done?"
"Exactly the same as you, except I wouldn't have lied about it"
As things have been very ballooney of late it may be worth a mensh that the August 28th gig at Shildon Civic Hall is not only going ahead but even though tickets are still available, you can pay on door for 15 smackers. Here is a reminder of what's on offer . . .
SHILDON ROCKS 2021!
August Bank holiday weekend sees 3 of the best rock tribute bands in the country arrive at the Civic Hall in Shildon (Saturday 28th).
Kicking the night off in style is MA KELLYS BOYS, tribute to the mighty Status Quo. These guys play the Quo boogie from the golden years of '70 to '76 when the band were true Rockers. including the classics Roll Over Lay Down, Down Down, Caroline, etc.
Next up it’s I’M MAIDEN from Hull, tribute to the rock metal gods Iron Maiden. Playing tracks from the early days of Di’Anno right through to the present day this band have been electrifying audiences with their sound, energy and attention to detail in recreating the very essence of a true Maiden gig!
And bringing the night to its dramatic conclusion is ACDC GB. Well established now on the tribute circuit these lads are back by popular demand at the Civic Hall. After their last sell out show here they once more take to the stage to deliver their breathtaking Brian Johnson era performance in tribute to the legendary Aussie rockers. Expect nothing less than a full on, hard hitting, non-stop Rock n Roll train on the Highway to Hell!
Get your tickets from http://skiddle.com/e/35813050 (+ fees it's £14.50), or the venue box office 01388 772902. £15 door.
A PUNTER'S EYE VIEW - WITCHKRAFT AT THE GLENDALE
I walked down to the Glendale last night (so good to be able to just nip round the corner to hear live music!) to see Witchkraft. 3 out of the 4 guys on the stage last night were deps as far as I could make out, the drummer & bassist are out of Sticky Fingers and the singer was out of the Codgers.
I’d reckon the place was about 75% full, guessing 70 – 80 punters; no masks, no social distancing or capacity limits. There was hand jell everywhere and standing at the bar was prohibited, although queuing to get served was okay. I’d hazard a guess that all the punters in there were of an age to be eligible for both jabs should they so desire and I didn’t feel vulnerable or uncomfortable at any time. I was especially pleased that the club got a good turnout. The Buffs and the Comms Rock nights in August was always a struggle to get bums on seats what with holidays and folk staying at home to have a few cans in the garden with a BBQ. The folk I spoke to last night were happy to be out listening to live Rock and it was good to meet up with friends you hadn’t seen for getting on for 18 months.
When the band started their sound check with Purple’s “Perfect Strangers” there seemed to be a collective intake of breath to drink in that which sustains so many of us. It was magnificent.'
Have had more than a handful of emails from punters referencing the 'Where Have All the People Gone?' And a few of these have lambasted me for not mentioning their views on this News page. So here we go: The bottom line is they do not intend to be at a gig where people who are fully or partially vaccinated rub shoulders with those who are not, and therefore could be harbouring the virus. Most of the email senders are in favour of a 'pass' or 'Covid certificate' to prove full virus protection. "If someone can guarantee me that everyone in the pub has had two injections, then I will attend a gig like a shot" said one. "Why should I go to my local pub if anyone there could have Covid?" said another.
WHERE HAVE ALL THE PEOPLE GONE?: A reply
Judging by the reply from Paul Smith from The Three Tuns and The Schooner in Gateshead, it's not just St Peter's Social Bar in Newcastle that suffers from poor attendances. Here's what Paul has to say: "I’m afraid it’s just what it is. We had the Bryan Adams Experience for £550 - we got 18 in; we had a 60s tribute from Glasgow paid £550 - got 9 in. People say they missed live music but they’ve not come back." Worrying times indeed.
HARTLEPOOL HOSTS NWOBHM NIGHT
[l to r: Battleaxe, Troyen, Rhabstallion]
For those interested in the classic bands of NWOBHM (and I would wager the majority of you reading this) then circle this date in your calendar: Saturday September 25 as no less than BATTLEAXE, TROYEN and RHABSTALLION are sharing the same stage for an evening of Classic Rock and Metal courtesy of Hartlepool Steelies.
In the early 1980s Sunderland band Battleaxe toured with Saxon and also played with bands such as Twisted Sister, Anvil, Madam X, Girlschool and many more. http://nwobhm.com/battleaxe/
Troyen first graced the NWOBHM scene in 1981. Despite a promising arrival the band were sadly to part ways late on in 1982 due to financial issues and related rock and roll stuff, even though they had played approximately 130 gigs and supported Spider, Girlschool, Rhabstallion and Diamond Head amongst others. They re-formed in 2014 after 32 years apart. https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/molten-metal-show/episodes/2021-07-21T14_52_01-07_00
Halifax based Rhabstallion shared the stage with bands such as Hanoi Rocks, Diamond Head, Stampede, Saxon and French band Trust. These guys dominated the scene by pumping out their rock - honest, hard and fast...
If this night is a succes there could just be more in the pipeline.
7.30pm start tickets are £8.80 on Ents24 or £10 door.
WHERE HAVE ALL THE PEOPLE GONE?
Just got an interesting email from Tony from St Peter's Social Bar in Newcastle. He's asking why, when he provides "top class bands - free, with cheap beer, yet we still have plenty available seating and space!". His venue has plenty of great bands and lots of seating with no chance of rubbing shoulders with strangers yet still people are wary. He continued: "Despite bands crying out for venues and seemingly punters wanting to go see/listen we are still not usually getting anticipated numbers."
He asks if other venues are in the same boat. Be interesting to hear of any other venues who are struggling . . .
A shout out to those who have been affected by the pandemic in such a way that their self-esteem has been shot, they suffer from anxiety, and find it difficult to socialise.
Well, if this poster hasn't got your Rock buds tingling then I don't know what will - this is a helluva line up. I took some pics of Ma Kelly's Boys when they appeared at the Crook Hotel before 'the bad times', and I was most impressed by their performance. No spring chickens and they played all the better for it. But after that dose of 3-bar Blues, be knocked metaphorically unconscious by the timeless Deep Purple in Rock. Then hang on to your horned hats for a tribute to the best era of AC/DC performed by UK/DC. But there's more ["surely not Nige" I hear you cry as one] as the whole kit and kaboodle (not exactly sure what a kaboodle is - must look that one up) is in support of local charities and community sport. Organiser Chris told Riffs: "Our Sunday special is themed NHS Day where we will be inviting over 500 NHS staff to be our guests." I'm not quite sure how it would be possible to make this day any better. Yes, I know what you're saying "only to have you there, Nige". I'm just so embarrassed by your kindness.
[Ma Kelly's Boys left, UK/DC right]
So get along - Sunday Sep 5 - £14.45 https://www.tynedalebeerfestival.org.uk/tickets
1.45pm Blues Jam
3.15pm Ma Kelly's Boys
5.30pm Deep Purple in Rock
Tynedale Beer Festival, Tynedale Park, Corbridge
Thurs 22; Just heard via Lenny Tube that the Crook Hotel is shut due to staff having to isolate . . .
I'm sure I don't need to mention how volatile gigs are at the moment, so please check our Listings page right up until your hour of departure because . . . well, you just never know.............
Just been informed today - Friday 9.55am (25th) - that the Philadelphia Music and Beer Festival has been moved to September.
Not only did I not have any decent pics of the band who are due to play at Stan Morson's charity event on August 13, but they have apparently had a slight line-up change (correct me if I'm wrong here Neil). So I was unable to include any pics of those cheeky little Sneaky Blinders on the earlier article. But, as is always the case . . . y'know; feast, famine, buses, etc. thanks to Neil I now have a few to choose from. So here are just three. I'll admit, visually they may not set the pixels alight, but if they can get not one favourable review from the Seaham Silverback - but two, then that'll do for me. And may I remind you this is a charity event so no-one will be walking away with full pockets - it's all going to cancer charities. You don't even need to give generously on the night - just turn the fuck up! Which, incidentally, is what I have been known to shout at many rock gigs.
DYING JUST FOR YOU
Well, it feels good (just like I knew it would) to have some News coming in - and even better as it's good news.
Hands up all those who would like a Sabbath tribute? Wow - that's a lot of hands. Hands up who wants a North-East rock legend on lead guitar and vocals? Again, lotsa hands. But not just that, to join him we have another two of our very own highly talented and experience musicians. (Ffs Nige, just tell us who the fuck the band is) Okay, okay, it's Guitar/Vocs - Russ Tippins, Bass - Kev Laverty, Drums - Tom Atkinson, and together they are gigging as SAB3. They are all set to play the entire Master Of Reality (to celebrate the 50th anniversary), plus more classic Sabbath tracks. They have gigs in for July and, to save you the hassle and hard work of moving your cursor all the way up to 'gig listings' I'll add them here:.
Tyne Bank Brewery, Newcastle - Sunday 18th July - Tickets £10 from sab3tickets.com or the band's Facebook page
The Forum, Darlington - Wednesday 21st July - Tickets £10 from The Forum (01325 363135) or ticketweb.uk
Hartlepool Steelies (with Twister) - Saturday 24th July - Ticket details tba.
You can actually catch drummer Tom around the region doing his solo acoustic set - in fact he's on at The Schooner this Friday (25th).
Check for updates on their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/sab3official
I'm hoping the band will let Riffs know of any updates and I'll announce them here too. Hope they do better than Sneaky Blinders from whom I'm still awaiting a pic....(pics just in. Will get them added to this page later today).
YOU SNEAKY LITTLE BLINDER
Regular readers (hey, and I'm talking to both of you) will know that I have great admiration and respect for venues and bands who not only go out of their way, but also expend time, effort and expense on putting on a charity event. How many of us really can say that we have given what we can, with absolutely no expectation of gaining anything in return? So without further ado (yeah, c'mon Nige, get to the point) I mention Friday August 13 when the Sneaky Blinders intend to belt out what they do best in honour of the founder and runner of Buffalos Rock Club - STAN MORSON. Earlier on this year he was diagnosed with a brain tumour and a lot of well-wishers from the music fraternity wanted to help but . . . well, I'll let Dave Fulton explain: "with the Covid restrictions it proved all but impossible to get a venue." He continued; "Local guys, The Sneaky Blinders, who've been reviewed a couple of times on Riffs, are putting on a gig 13th August with proceeds going to charities that have helped, and continue to help people with brain cancers."
Just to underline, here are details:
Dubmire Club, Wynyard St, Fence Houses, Houghton le Spring DH4 6LS.
Friday, 13th August, The Sneaky Blinders. Tickets £5.00
Nice pic of Sneaky Blinders on the way - hopefully!
DISASTER AT THE THREE TUNS
Riffs is cock-a-hoop (well, with age creeping up it's more hoop than cock) to hear from Paul Tuns who, despite running one of the leading Rock venues in the region, Riffs has heard very little from recently. All venues have had their ups and down and The Three Tuns in Gateshead has been no exception. It was Alan from Fizzyfish who mentioned to me not so long back that the band had taken their wacky rockiness all over Teesside and the North-East but "d'y'know Nige, I'm not gonna rest till I've played The Tuns". I'm pleased to say they did and the band are all the better for it. But back to the Tuns, and last Saturday (19th) they had Punk Pop Disaster (no, I haven't either), so I popped on to Youtube where I found them playing at 2019s Christmas Rocks at the 02 in Newcastle...... but that's history now, but pop on to the Listings page and check out the Tuns for future gigs...........
A socially-distanced Qween member donates a "He Will Rock You" t-shirt to Hartlepool Hospice recently to mark the release of the afore-mentioned single penned by members Billy West and Rob Javan.
"It's the 30th anniversary of Freddie's passing this year, so we thought it fitting that 50% of all sales money go to fundraising - in particular Alice House Hospice in Hartlepool" said Rob.
"Billy has been a professional entertainer and a Freddie Mercury tribute artist for over 30 years, and I think that speaks for itself. The feedback so far has been positive and we hope it's gonna be a big success. We have some major concerts coming up and look forward to people's reaction when we play it live."
The track is available on Spotify here.
MONDAY JUNE 14: The lifting of lockdown restrictions has officially been delayed for at least one month. Gigs are unaffected and, if you are sensible and adhere to precautions arranged by the venues, there will be nothing stopping you enjoying a great evening's entertainment.
Metallica are suing London-based insurance market Lloyd's of London for damages from their postponed 2020 tour dates. There were a handful of shows they had booked in South America that were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to NBC Los Angeles, Lloyd's of London has refused to compensate Metallica for the monetary losses they've endured as a result of having to postpone the tour.
The six-date run was set to take place in April of 2020 in Chile, Argentina and Brazil, and would have served as Metallica's first set of shows since James Hetfield's rehab stint in late 2019. Greta Van Fleet were set to be the opening act.
Prior to the tour, Metallica purchased a "cancellation, abandonment and non-appearance insurance" policy in case of any potential postponement or cancelations. Due to the worldwide lockdowns, the tour was postponed.
However, Lloyd's of London cited the policy's communicable disease exclusion and refused to reimburse the band for their losses "based on an unreasonably restrictive interpretation of the policy," the suit reads.
The band filed the lawsuit Monday (June 7) at the Los Angeles Superior Court, claiming that Lloyd's of London committed a breach of contract by denying them compensation, and they are seeking unspecified damages as a result.
Metallica have not yet announced the rescheduled dates for the South American tour. As of now, the only shows they have announced for 2021 are a few appearances at festivals in the fall.
Can't say it's much of a surprise (given the numpties not adhering to the simple rules) but it's now looking more than likely that restrictions will NOT be lifted this month. Gigs will be going ahead but Covid rules will apply. Just be sensible.
Sobering fact: There has been more deaths due to Covid in the first five months of this year than in the whole of 2020.
BOXED AD PRICES AT ROCK BOTTOM
I don't even need to mention what a difficult time this is, and I know I've bleated on about everyone doing their bit. Riffs has always had ultra-cheap advertising at just a tenner for a boxed advert on the Home page, and just £15 for the same on the Listings page - for one whole month; and this includes design. We have had this running for years. An absolute steal you must agree. Well, I can't play a musical instrument and would undoubtedly get stage fright anyway. Running a venue is way beyond my capabilities too (about now you'll be thinking "bit of a useless twat then really"). Ah, but, there is something I can do to help bands and venues, the price has just been lowered to just a tenner for one whole month on the Listings page (and yes, that includes design!) PLUS inclusion on the Home page AT NO EXTRA COST. Any cheaper and we'll be paying you!! So grab those ads now before they go back up to the dizzy heights of £15!!! We're here to help. Oh, that's Asda isn't it. Well, every little helps . . . erm.... bugga.
And please don't think "I don't know how to go about it, it may be complicated." Well, it isn't. I'll make it as easy and painless as possible. Just email me and before you know it you'll be looking at a copy of your ad . . . email@example.com
READY TO ROCK?
It's totally understandable why people are still wary about going to gigs. But the bands are up for it, the venues are bending over backwards to accommodate all the restrictions - but it's all for nought if the region's punters aren't piling through the doors. Newcastle is known to have some of the best support in the region so it did come as quite a surprise to hear from Robert from PTE Social Club to say that turnout to gigs is less than satisfactory. Forget that it's a club, he says, it's a pub atmosphere with a club advantage. "We have a large concert room that holds 100 people under covid restrictions. The band play on a stage, so you get a good view no matter where you sit. We operate a table service and accept cash or card. We do charge £3 cover charge, but you can buy a pint from as little as £2.24." So you can see the venue is doing all it can. But that's not all, Robert continues: "You don't have to be a member and you don't have to sign in (except Track & Trace) we try and make things as "pub like" as possible." If you have four or more coming along you can reserve a table in advance, contact the club via Facebook. Coming up is Dog In A Box, The Beer Monkeys and The Force. I'll let Robert have the last say: "We really hope people will come and support live music and have a safe night and a great night."
PTE Social Club, Millers Rd, Newcastle upon Tyne NE6 2XP
JUNE THREE-DAYER: FULL DETAILS
Paul from the Philadelphia Cricket Club in Houghton le Spring has been in touch with further details of their Music Festival in June. All info is now on the Listings page but, with a nod to the old adage of 'You Can't Have Too Much Of a Good Thing', here is the info. For those who miss the ambience, the natter, the tune up, the feedback (oh I do miss feedback), this is surely a gig to dust off the denims, search out that old air guitar and get that Philly feeling....
Thursday 24th June doors 5pm, £10 door: SADISTIC SLOBS, THE CARPETTES, THE PROLES, in aid of meningitis appeal.
Friday 25th June doors 5pm £5
BEEFY LA SLAP TRIO, THE GRUMPIES. pay on door or tickets available at club house
Saturday 26th June doors noon, £12 F.A.B., THE CODGERS, ALEXANDERS PALACE, pay on door or tickets available at club house 0191 5841348.
Just how much would you pay now for this gig line-up? . . .
The Doors, Pink Floyd, the Faces, Family, Curved Air, Atomic Rooster, The Kinks, Rory Gallagher, Uriah Heep, Country Joe McDonald, Buddy Miles, Status Quo, Brinsley Schwarz, Spencer Davis, The Strawbs and Humble Pie.
This was the line-up for 'The 2nd British Rock Meeting' in 1972.
Saw your bit on wanting bands to get in touch. Truth is mate, there's just nowt happening at the mo'.
Our drummer's broken his foot so he's no good to man nor beast - although saying that there was a bright side while he was in hospital when a fan actually came to see him and, noticing he was a bit down in the dumps, said 'These may cheer you up a bit' and then whipped up her blouse to reveal a couple of reet sweet terties. Oh yeah, how is Val keeping these days? Little birdie told me she's sort of settled down with a fella down in Bradders. Miss her, man. She was fun and put the bands at ease. Good times.
Drummer's foot break happened at the end of a gruelling rehearsal a few weeks back (he reckons an amp fell on it but I suspect it was his wallet!). I say gruelling cos we (the band) must have checked in our mojos at the rehearsal rooms door; nothing gelled. Y'know, the result should always be more than the sum of its parts, well the result was shite. We were just bemoaning this when we heard the band next door playing Stay With Me (the Stewart classic, not that new rubbish). Not just that, but we could all tell it was a bit 'off'. So we scooted next door and I don't know what hit me first - the fact that it was the guys that I played with years ago, or the cans in the corner (that's lager, not headphones). After a few slugs of the amber nectar and some chit chat: 'God, you look so much older', and 'Have you been sleeping rough?' we nailed that Stay With Me to the bone, man. Would've put a smile on the Faces. Talking of sleeping rough, our bassist actually is, well, next worst thing - he's sleeping in a sleeping bag in my garden shed. He was caught shagging his wife's sister. Bloody fool. Mind you, she is hot totty. So after that rehearsal fiasco, us and the other band are doing a double header when things get sorted with this Covid thing. If that doesn't go down a storm I think I may give up, feeling a bit too old, mate.
Sorry about that break, oh, you can't tell. Just got a call from a bandmate saying that we have a stand in gig tonight cos a band cancelled last minute at our local. If we can get our gear together and get there to open at 9, the landlord will not only pay us the full rate but throw in mucho drinkos. Hey, get yerself down and snap some pics of the band, then that'll give ya something for your mag. So all hands on deck to get our gear loaded. Must rush then Nige. Mind you, as I play the kazoo, all I have to do is pop it into its little plastic case and I'm good to go!
But, like I said at the outset, what's the point of getting in touch, there's just nowt happening at the mo'......"
See, you read that right till the end. Dincha?
Well, while I'm waiting for the bands due to play at the Philadelphia on that three-day extravaganza in June to get in touch (I know, breath not held), here's a brief article on Rock censorship.....
A great philosopher once said, “If you want to feel useless, remember that they put parental advisory stickers on Cannibal Corpse albums.”
In 1965, “Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones was banned by many radio stations and, in 1968, more stations banned “Unknown Solider” by the Doors because of its anti-war message. Even songs by the Beatles were banned by the BBC, when “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” and “A Day in the Life” were forbidden for 'supposedly' promoting drug use. Yep, Sgt. Pepper himself wasn’t safe.
However, censorship had a real boom in the 1980s when heavy metal, primarily, was targeted by four wives of powerful Washington D.C. types when they founded the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC). The idea came to Tipper Gore, the wife of then-Senator Al Gore, after she bought a copy of Prince’s Purple Rain for her 11-year-old daughter. She immediately regretted the purchase after overhearing some of the lyrics to the song “Darling Nikki.”
Eventually, the PMRC came up with the Filthy Fifteen, a list of popular songs that contained references to sex, violence, drugs or occult themes in its lyrics. Among the songs were Judas Priest’s "Eat Me Alive," Motley Crue’s "Bastard," AC/DC’s "Let Me Put My Love Into You," Twisted Sister’s "We’re Not Gonna Take It," WASP’s "Animal (Fuck Like a Beast)," Def Leppard’s "High n Dry," Mercyful Fate’s "Into the Coven," Black Sabbath’s "Trashed" and Venom’s "Possessed."
The PMRC took their case all the way to United States Senate. They held a hearing to debate the merits of a proposed Parental Advisory sticker, which they suggested should be placed on any record they dubbed to be "Porn Rock." The PMRC did face its share of opposition during the Porn Rock Hearings, in the form of Frank Zappa, John Denver and Twisted Sister vocalist Dee Snider, who all testified on national television in protest of the PMRC.
Censorship didn’t stop with the PMRC. Marilyn Manson was banned from performing in Salt Lake City, Utah after he ripped up the Book of Mormon onstage, and Bob Dole, who was a candidate for President of the United States at the time, used his platform to attack Cannibal Corpse.
Cannibal Corpse’s music has been banned in Australia and Germany in the past, while in 2014, the band’s music was outlawed in Russia. Lamb of God were banned in Malaysia for “blasphemous” content, Behemoth were banned in Russia for five years in 2014, and Singapore banned Watain in 2019, so the idea of censorship isn't going anywhere.
These articles, as interesting as I hope they are, are only a replacement for local band and venue news that I'm just not getting. Surely now more than ever it's relevant to let people know what bands are doing, planning, looking forward to etc. etc. So ffs let me know! We need to entice punters back into our Rock pubs rockin' and drinking..........
THE PHILLY HOSTS THREE-DAY MUSIC FESTIVAL IN JUNE
Just getting spits and spots of info regarding a three-day even in June: Philadelphia Beer and Music Festival in Houghton le Spring starting on Thursday 24th June.
They must be more interested in the booze than the bands coz the only info I have at the mo' is The Grumpies for the Friday evening, and on Saturday The Codgers sometime in the afternoon and Alexanders Palace headlining the evening session.
If you are one of the bands on the festival bill then get pictures of your fizzogs along to me here at Riffs and we'll give you some publicity.
Let's fill the Philly!
Whacked-out occultists, scary séances, and the saga of Uriah Heep's Demons And Wizards
By Paul Brannigan
Inspired by mystical dreams, a hectic rock’n’roll lifestyle and a fucked-up séance, Uriah Heep's 1972 album Demons And Wizards turned them into global superstars.
Uriah Heep in 1972For British rock bands in the early 1970s, a sneering, patronising review in US magazine Rolling Stone was considered something of a badge of honour. In it, Led Zeppelin’s self-titled debut album was dismissed as “dull”, “redundant” and “prissy”. The “clubfooted” riffs on Deep Purple In Rock were seen as evidence that these “quiet nonentities” lacked “both expertise and intuition”. Black Sabbath’s first album was labelled “inane”, “wooden” and “plodding”, the band that became the most influential in the history of heavy metal written off as “Just like Cream! But worse.”
Rolling Stone’s most scathing notice, however, was about Uriah Heep’s debut album, 1970’s Very ’Eavy, Very ’Umble: “If this group makes it,” wrote one Melissa Mills, “I’ll have to commit suicide.”
Today Uriah Heep guitarist Mick Box can afford to look back and laugh. A candidate for the most chipper man in rock’n’roll, the 73-year-old cheerfully admits that he’s “never been one to listen to critics too much”.
“It’s difficult to care about criticism about what your band is lacking when you’re being called back on stage for five encores every night,” he points out with a hearty chuckle.
Inspired by a love of The Kinks, the Small Faces, The Who and Johnny Kidd & The Pirates, Walthamstow-born Box formed his first band, The Stalkers, in the mid-60s while still a teenager. By the time Bobby Moore hoisted the Jules Rimet Trophy aloft at Wembley Stadium on the evening of July 30, 1966 when England won the World Cup, The Stalkers had become Spice.
At some point late in 1969 the band caught the attention of influential manager/producer/publisher Gerry Bron. It was at Bron’s insistence that the youngsters changed their name once more, to Uriah Heep, an ’umble, obsequious character in Charles Dickens’s 1850 novel David Copperfield.
Bron then installed the group in Hanwell Community Centre in West London to assemble songs for their debut album. Through the facility’s walls they could hear the Mk II line-up of Deep Purple prepping for what would be their In Rock album.
By their own admission, on their first three albums the young Uriah Heep were “just thrashing about trying to find a direction”. Their unfairly maligned Very ’Eavy, Very ’Umble album, mixing folk, blues, jazz and hard rock, was followed by two studio albums in 1971: the progressive rock-inclined Salisbury – on which multi-talented keyboard player Ken Hensley began to eclipse Box and frontman David Byron as the band’s main songwriter – and Look At Yourself, the first release on Gerry Bron’s new record label Bronze Records.
In between the two releases, on March 26, ’71 Uriah Heep played their first show in the US, supporting Three Dog Night, in front of 16,000 people at the State Fairground’s Coliseum in Indianapolis, Indiana. For the Londoners it was a first glimpse of the infinite possibilities of rock stardom.
“When we got there, and saw all the limos and groupies, it was mind-boggling for us,” Hensley said later.
“There was never a feeling of being overawed by it all,” Box insisted to Heep biographer Dave Ling. “We all felt that this is where we should be. The American audience loved us from the first minute onwards. Believe me, lots of champagne was cracked open on that first night.”
When the group returned to the US for the second time, in January 1972, they were booked to open for Deep Purple, their noisy neighbours from Hanwell Community Centre. Their gregarious guitarist, meanwhile, was taking advantage of his group’s burgeoning reputation by thumbing through local phone directories and placing calls to random young ladies, inviting them along to gigs and parties.
“You’d tell the bird you were in Uriah Heep, and next minute the hotel was full of women,” Box recalled cheerfully. But such a lifestyle wasn’t for everyone. On January 31, upon completing the final date of the Deep Purple tour, bassist Mark Clarke quit the band, having joined only four months previously.
“Mark jumped ship because he couldn’t deal with the stresses of the touring we were doing, which were excessive, I have to say,” Box says. “It was a mad, mad, mad time for us all. Mark felt that he just could not keep up with it, that he was going to have a full-on nervous breakdown if he stuck around any longer.”
Although Clarke’s time in the band was short, the ex-Colosseum bassist did make one lasting and significant contribution to Uriah Heep, writing a striking, harmonised middle eight for a new Ken Hensley composition titled The Wizard, based on a fantastical recurring dream he’d had every night for a week.
“I remember Ken playing The Wizard on an acoustic guitar in the back of our van,” says Box. “It was the first time I’d heard anyone play guitar with a drop-D tuning. He couldn’t find a middle eight, so Mark Clarke wrote that, and the whole song sounded so good to everyone. I think we all knew it was something special."
Gerry Bron, too, heard potential in Hensley’s whimsical power ballad. Ahead of their second visit to the US, Heep were rushed into Lansdowne Studios in Holland Park where they tracked the song (and single B-side Why) in a matter of hours. Before the session ended, The Wizard’s semiacoustic intro was beefed up with the addition of an unusual instrument – the studio kettle.
“We were making a cup of tea, and had the studio door open, and as we were listening back to the intro of the song we heard the whistle, and thought: ‘Hang on!” Mick Box recalls. “We went into the kitchen, recorded the kettle whistle two or three times and got it re-tuned to a high C. That’s the note you hear at the beginning of the song.”
While Bronze Records readied The Wizard for an international release, Heep bedded in Mark Clarke’s replacement Gary Thain with a five-night stand at the Whiskey A Go Go club in Los Angeles in February ’72. New Zealander Thain had come from the Keef Hartley Band, and clicked instantly with Heep’s other new addition, drummer Lee Kerslake, who had joined just three months previously. The pair’s obvious chemistry, and superior musical ability, immediately elevated the whole band to a new level.
“Now we finally had a real steam engine of a rhythm section,” Box says, admiringly. “Having those two powerhouses behind us provided a wonderful foundation for the band. Lee was a fantastic drummer, and Gary would come up with these great bass lines that never got in the way of the melody of the song but always seemed to enhance it. It was an incredible knack. It was a real pleasure to work with the pair of them. Everything just clicked into place.”
In mid-March, back in England the quintet returned to Lansdowne Studios to complete work on their fourth album.
“Everyone was focused,” says Box. “We were recording in London, which was nice, and the chemistry in the band was bar none. There were no personality clashes, no factions fighting for different things, no diversions.”
“There was a magic in that combination of people that created so much energy and enthusiasm,” Ken Hensley later noted. “We all wanted the same thing, were all willing to make the same sacrifices to achieve it and we were all very committed.”
As he had done on Look At Yourself, keyboard player Hensley led the sessions, bringing five new songs to the table. And, as with The Wizard, the album’s foundation stone, the songs largely had fantasy themes. The heavy-grooving Rainbow Demon spoke of a rider on a crimson horse, ‘possessed by some distant calling’; the delicate Paradise told of a heavy-hearted young man’s quest for true love; its multi-part companion piece, the dramatic hymnal epic The Spell, featured heavenly choral vocals, a stunning Hensley slide guitar solo, and gloriously portentous lyrics: ‘You will never break the spell. I’ll summon all the fires of hell’. The spooky, organ-driven, Circle Of Hands, meanwhile, was inspired by a brush with the supernatural.
“It was born out of a séance we were invited to by some girls in Italy,” Box reveals. “It all got a bit out of hand, a bit freaky. These things start out as a bit of fun, then you start to get a bit uncomfortable, and then it’s: ‘Bloody hell, I’m getting out of here!’ That was the first and last time we tried to summon spirits of the dead. We were dabbling where we should never have dabbled.”
The down-to-earth guitarist brought rather more grounded tunes to the studio: the bluesy, Zeppelin-esque All My Life, the hard-riffing Poet’s Justice, originally conceived as an acoustic track, and the driving Traveller In Time. All three songs were fleshed out in jam sessions with David Byron and Lee Kerslake.
“I’d have riffs knocking around, and maybe a verse, and when I took them into rehearsals those two would jump on them and suddenly we’d have another song,” Box marvels. “They came together very quickly, as we were very attuned to one another. It was almost too good to be true. Someone would nip out to the shop, and come back to find another song written. It was such an easy album to record.”
“There was nothing between us and the music,” Hensley told the Classic Rock Revisited website in 2016. “This liberated my creativity. And the fact that FM radio in America was pioneering the musical freedom trend made it even more inspiring.”
For all five musicians, and Gerry Bron, Heep’s self-appointed sixth member, the choice of a single from the album was a no-brainer: everything about the rollicking Easy Livin’ screamed ‘radio hit’. Written by Hensley in just 15 minutes, it was a tongue-in-cheek reflection of outsider perceptions of the band’s lifestyle.
“It had excitement written all over it,” says Box. “I thought the guitar sound was fantastic, it was so up-front, and aggressive and pumping like mad. The title came from a conversation we had in the van. We were in the north of England, driving down to London to listen to some recordings in the studio before going to the airport to fly to America, and someone said: ‘This is easy living, isn’t it?’ as a joke, a piss-take. But it resonated with Ken. It wasn’t a song that we over-thought.”
With a sleeve featuring artwork by the noted fantasy artist Roger Dean, Demons And Wizards was released on May 19, 1972, and peaked at No.20 in the UK chart the following month.
It was the August release of Easy Livin’ – singled out by Rolling Stone writer Mike Saunders as a “flat out fuzz-tone punk rocker” – that turned the album into a global smash. Although Easy Livin’ failed to chart in the UK, it became a Top-20 hit across mainland Europe, and peaked on Billboard’s Hot 100 at No.39 on September 23. By the end of October, Demons And Wizards had reached No.23 on the Billboard 200 album chart.
“Hearing the song on US radio was immense,” Box says. “But you had to get out there and work it. We started out touring in the Midwest, the strongest rock market, and let the music filter out to the coasts. Then things started moving very, very fast. A hit single is like a small boulder rolling down a hill, gathering moss, and by the time it gets to the bottom it’s huge. It wasn’t long before we were doing ten-thousand-seaters right across America, and had Lear jets and limos at every airport. It was an absolutely amazing time.”
But there was a darker side to the band’s US success. With tour posters promising that Demons And Wizards “performs mentalingus on you”, Heep began to encounter “freaky people” coming out of the woodwork at their shows. In a 1973 NME interview, David Byron related a tale of being visited in Detroit, the band’s biggest market, by the city’s messianic underground leader, Jaggers, a stick-thin, Mick Jagger-obsessed guy wearing a long black cloak and white face-paint.
“He came in and shut the door and said: ‘Lock it’,” Byron recalled. “He said: ‘You see, the thing is, the people think I’m dead. And that’s why I dress in black. If anybody asks if you’ve seen me, say you haven’t.’ It turned out he was a lunatic. And this goes on and on and on in every major town in America.
"These birds with cherry-red lipstick come up and say: ‘Hey man, you’re really cosmic. It’s so heavy. And I really dig it… I always listen to your message.’ Crap. All these weird birds got hold of our old ladies’ phone numbers and addresses, and they started doing all these ghostly trips when we’re away. We were getting so many weird letters that it was driving us round the bend. It just started to do us in.”
“It got very, very silly,” Box admits. “We got to the point where we had bodyguards outside each of our hotel rooms, particularly in the Midwest. It got heavy, and very hedonistic, totally decadent. All the stories you hear about being a successful rock band in America are all true. And I can’t tell you any of them! Ha ha! I enjoyed it for what it was, but I never felt like it would last forever at that level.”
The guitarist’s caution proved prescient. Before embarking on a two-month US tour scheduled to run from October 13 to December 17, the band were rushed into Lansdowne Studios to record a new studio album. Released in November, The Magician’s Birthday reached No.28 in the UK and No.31 in the US. But its short-term success came with long-term costs. Ken Hensley described the making of the album as“frustrating” and “the beginning of the end”, claiming that a number of his songs were unfinished, rush-released before being properly signed off. Mick Box too was unhappy with the pressure exerted on the band. Looking back, the unassuming guitarist lays the blame squarely at the feet of management.
“Doing The Magician’s Birthday that quickly was all about capitalising on the success of Demons And Wizards,” he reflects. “If you want my honest opinion, I think that was down to management greed. Gerry Bron was pushing us so hard that there was no attention to anyone’s personal life or health. It was ‘Go! Go! Go!’ I can understand an element of that, because when we first started off he put a lot of money in, taking out full-page ads in the music papers, buying us a lot of equipment, and putting us on a twenty pounds-a-week wage.
"So he did invest in us. But by the time we reached Demons And Wizards we’d paid him back tenfold, and he was still pushing for more, more, more. There were demands for another hit single, which got draining, as we always saw ourselves as an albums band. Also, as Ken was having great success with his songs, management singled him out and started only listening to what he had to say, which created animosity with the rest of us. And then the wheels started falling off.”
It is perhaps some measure of the high expectations raised by the success of Demons And Wizards that Uriah Heep are sometimes considered to be the ‘nearly men’ of British hard rock. It’s true that they never threatened to match the success of Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath or Queen, and on a statistical level never again came as close to cracking the mainstream as they did with their fourth studio album. But 45 million worldwide album sales and a touring presence in 61 countries are hardly indicators of failure.
Unfailingly honest and unpretentious, Box can concede that, at points in their career, Uriah Heep “didn’t stay true to their platform”. But having racked up nine UK Top 40 albums, and been on the Billboard 200 no fewer than 15 times, his band have enjoyed career highs that precious few modern rock bands could ever aspire to. Crucially, Box is still loving life in the band he began writing for 50 years ago.
“We’ve got a great foundation,” he says cheerfully, “with a history and songs that have stood the test of time, and we’re still writing new music which the fans are enjoying as much as ever.”
However, he’s not unaware of the esteem in which Demons And Wizards is still held, as was evidenced when Uriah Heep performed the album in full in the US for its fortieth anniversary. But it’s an album holding bitter-sweet memories for the guitarist, not least because four of the musicians who played on it – David Byron, Gary Thain, Lee Kerslake and Ken Hensley – are no longer alive. Singer Bryon passed away in 1985 due to alcohol-related health issues, bassist Thain succumbed to a heroin overdose 10 years earlier. In September 2020 Kerslake lost his battle with prostate cancer, and most recently Hensley passed away (in November 2020) following a short illness.
Roger Dean’s cover artwork still hangs in the front room of Box’s London home, and he’s signed enough copies of the album over the years to be aware of its significance to fans.
“There’s something on every Uriah Heep album that I can look back on with fondness,” he says, “but Demons And Wizards means a lot to me. Where we were as a unit, creatively, it was the band at its height, with that line-up. Listening back to the album through the speakers at Lansdowne back in 1972, we felt like we had something special, but that was just within our inner circle. After that you just hope that it might take on a life of its own and become successful. Which, to our immense gratitude, it did."
“I know how much that music means so much to so many different people, and it’s humbling,” the guitarist continues. “With the Roger Dean cover, it was the first time that the music and the lyrics and the artwork were intrinsically linked, and I think that contributed to its success. But then, funnily enough, it was Easy Livin’, with no mythical lyrics whatsoever, which was the hit that opened up the world stage to us.
"If that song taught us anything, it’s that sometimes in this business it’s best not to over-think."
Gun-raids, back-stabbings, bust-ups and bitterness:
The madness of late-70s HAWKWIND
By Rob Hughes
If you thought all Hawkwind’s freaky stuff belonged to the early 70s, well think again.
Hawkwind, Live Seventy Nine line-up: Tim Blake, Harvey Bainbridge, Dave Brock, Simon King and Huw Lloyd-Langton
It's October 1977 and Hawkwind are playing the Palais Des Sports, a cavernous dome in the Porte de Versailles sector of Paris. They’re on the European leg of the Spirit Of The Age tour, having already blown through the UK, and frontman Robert Calvert is sinking deep into rock theatre.
This is the new Hawkwind. No more Liquid Len and psychedelia, more a cabaret folie of the absurd. On stage, Calvert transforms into various characters to suit the songs: flying helmet, goggles and commando togs for the crazed military advisor of Master Of The Universe; top hat, frock-coat and chains for Steppenwolf; Lawrence Of Arabia gear and a pair of swords for the oriental killer of Hassan I Sahba.
Calvert has buried himself so fully into this last persona that nothing else exists right now. What boundaries there were have been crossed long ago. Now he is that murderous assassin of Allah, singing: ‘Death unto all infidels, in oil/Guide us o thou genie of the smoke.’ His bandmates have sensed things have taken a sudden turn for the macabre as he sidles over to bassist Adrian Shaw.
“Bob freaked out really badly in Paris,” recalls Hawkwind perennial Dave Brock. “He tried to cut Adrian Shaw’s head off with that sword on stage, right in the middle of the song. He’d really gone nutty by then and we saw what was going on. I mean, he nearly actually did it. He put the sword right across Adrian’s throat.”
Jeff Dexter, then Hawkwind’s road manager, saw it coming too. “Robert got carried away with the idea of urban guerrillas,” he explains. “At that Paris gig he was totally convinced that the whole first row was full of the heads of the Red Brigades, Baader-Meinhof and everybody. He got completely carried away with that fantasy.”
It all came to a head, luckily not Shaw’s, after the show. “Backstage there were all these people Calvert thought were the leaders of every terrorist organisation in the world,” Dexter continues. “They didn’t have a clue what he was saying, but they were all enjoying it because he was making such a fuss of them. The rest of the band had already run away. They couldn’t handle it at all.
If you thought all Hawkwind’s freaky stuff belonged to the early 70s – that astro time-trip of Silver Machine, space rock and ‘exotic dancer’ Stacia – then think again. Likewise, if you thought, casual listener, that Hawkwind were a spent force once Lemmy had been slung in the clink for a spot of drugs bother on the Canadian border in 1975, or when founder member Nik Turner was dumped 18 months later, then you’re wrong.
"When I eventually said to him: ‘Look, we’ve got to get out of here and all these people have got to go’, he went completely nuts, pulled out his sword and ran for me. Fortunately I found a piece of four-by-two that belonged to the stagehand and whacked him over the head with it. That’s when he fell to the ground.”
Punk-era Hawkwind, which also budged aside for noteworthy offshoot The Hawklords, coughed up a trove of unusual and unexpected goodies. And some very real madness. It was a time of upheaval, of sackings and counter-sackings, of strangeness, quark and gun-raids. Of bust-ups, bitterness and Ginger Baker.
At the heart of the band’s resurgence in the late 70s were Calvert and Brock. Calvert, who had left the band in 1973 for a couple of solo projects, returned to the fold as frontman at the Reading Festival in August 1975.
Steeped in the works of Herman Hesse, JG Ballard and Roger Zelazny, his complex, highly literate sci-fi songs meshed with the new, leaner sound of Brock’s guitar for the epic Reefer Madness, Kerb Crawler and the gothic futurism of Steppenwolf. These were the high spots of 1976’s Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music, Hawkwind’s first album for new label Charisma and under the management of Tony Howard, whose other clients included Marc Bolan. Yet not all liked this fresh musical turn.
“Paul Rudolph from the Pink Fairies came in after Lemmy,” says Brock. “He was a good guitarist, much better than me, and my confidence sank down to my boots. The band ended up sacking me after having a meeting in London in 1976. I suppose this was about nine months after they’d got rid of Lemmy. They did it in the office of Tony Howard, who was looking after us with Jeff Dexter.
"I got a phone call from Bob Calvert saying: ‘We’ve just had a meeting and the band decided to give you the sack. But I disagree with it, so I’m coming down to see you and we’re not going to stand for this.’ So after Bob came over, I went to Tony’s office and then we decided to sack all the people who had organised the cull!”
Robert Calvert onstage in 1976One of the casualties was the freewheeling Nik Turner, who had been with the band since their first gig in 1969. Others to go were Rudolph and drummer Alan Powell. It was a purge that irked management.
“Hawkwind was the worst job I ever had,” recalls Dexter, still smarting at the memory. “Working with Dave Brock was like being married to the devil. Calvert was nuts, but he was a sweetheart. All this hippie-trippy shit and brotherhood is not in Dave Brock’s vocabulary."
“When we took on Hawkwind, we did it at the behest of Nik Turner. Tony and I really liked him, he was a lovely character. But within a month or so of us taking them on, we discovered they had debt left over from before our time. Brock fired Nik Turner. Nik was a major part of the band, the whole sound and the scope of what they were doing. He was a star and I don’t think Brock liked that. I thought they were great friends but I learnt very fast that wasn’t the case.”
The tours of 1976 and ’77 were a startling spectacle. Calvert’s theatrical performances played out before the backdrop of Atomhenge, a huge molecular stage prop made from fibreglass.
“It was maybe 15ft high with arches all joined up,” laughs Brock. “And the whole thing lit up from the inside. Some of it was actually used for The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, when it was on at the Rainbow Theatre. It was a nightmare to transport.”
The music was rich too, nervy new-wave paranoia that sounded more like the punkier end of Neu! or the mutant strains of early Roxy Music. 1977’s Quark, Strangeness And Charm, inlaid with Calvert’s thoughts on genetics, nuclear war and Islamic Fundamentalism, was hailed by the NME as a triumph of ‘battering ram riffs and monoplane synthesised drones’. Says Brock: “Our music was always quite aggressive, with lots of chunky chords. With punk around, it fitted in. It was almost like going back to our roots.”
The title track was a killer single, but it also introduced the classics Damnation Alley and the tour de force Spirit Of The Age, about a space traveller cursing his girlfriend’s dad for refusing to deepfreeze her for his return.
Calvert, diagnosed with a bipolar condition, was becoming increasingly unpredictable. On tour he became manic, staying up for nights on end, devouring books on guerrilla warfare and how to set up your own private army. He even took to wearing his combat suit off-stage, replete with gas pistol at the hip. Paris ’77 was the tipping point.
“There was also the gun incident in the hotel,” recounts Brock. “Bob used to do a version of Russian Roulette, where he’d recite one of his poems, put the blank bullet in the chamber, spin it and put it to his head. Then, click! Anyway, he was spouting off about the Baader-Meinhof gang in the hotel bar at five in the morning.
"The rest of us were all in bed. There just happened to be a plain clothes policeman in the bar, listening to Bob, and he believed what Bob was saying about being a member of the gang and having weapons in his room. Bob, who shared a room with me, had also said my guitar case had a sub-machine gun in it.
“At six in the morning there was a thumping at my door. Two police officers came in and had me up against the wall at gunpoint. I said: ‘What the hell’s going on?’ Of course they opened my bag and saw the Russian Roulette pistol and the guitar case. By that time, with all the commotion, Jeff Dexter had come along to sort things out. But then they saw Bob’s clothes – all commando gear – which wasn’t a great sign either.”
Jeff Dexter claims he was left to sort the mess after the Palais Des Sports debacle. “We were supposed to be going on to Belgium to do three more gigs but the rest of the band all got up very early the next morning and were all ready to split without telling me and Calvert. They were all packed to go.”
There followed the bizarre sight of Calvert, shaven-haired and in full commando gear, chasing the band’s silver Mercedes through the streets of early-morning Paris.
“All the passers-by stopped dead,” he recalled later. “It was like a scene out of Alphaville… [the band] were showing me that they were fed up with the way I was carrying on. We had a big fucking argument. They were pissed off.”
Brock says the band had no option. “Bob was so nutty at the time that we called the rest of the tour off. He was sent back on the plane with Jeff Dexter, who he tried to strangle on the flight [incidentally, Dexter denies this incident]. When they got back, Jeff had to put him in a sanitarium.”
Hawkwind onstage at the Reading Festival in 1977Calvert received treatment and rejoined Hawkwind in the studio in early 1978 for what would become the semi-live album, PXR 5. Then they headed off to the US in March. This time he was at the other extreme.
“On the American tour Bob was completely the other way,” remembers Brock. “He was very quiet. That tour was the end, really. We felt like we’d reached the end of one of our trips.”
Dexter agrees: “He still performed really well but was very subdued the whole time. He kind of went into his shell. But I remember them going down very well in the Midwest. They could really turn it on. There was a gig in Philadelphia where they were amazing. For an audience of Midwestern hippie freaks, it was perfect shit.”
The tour ended in acrimonious fashion. It was the end of the road for Dexter and Tony Howard. “It was after the San Francisco gig,” says Dexter. “Tony and I told them we didn’t want any more to do with them. So we paid them off, gave them all their airline tickets and left for LA. Ten days later I was driving when I saw this guy in the middle of the street, flagging me down. It was Dave Brock. He said: ‘I’ve got no money and no tickets.’ He’d spent his money and sold his tickets.”
The band had splintered, but Brock and Calvert regrouped on their return home. To side-step any legal issues, they formed The Hawklords, adding Steve Swindells on keyboards, and bassist Harvey Bainbridge, both of whom had briefly gigged with them as The Sonic Assassins.
The sessions, which took place in a Devon farmhouse in the summer of 1978, yielded 25 Years On, a conceptual LP based on the saga of Pan Transcendental Industries, a global corporation intent on replacing angels’ wings with car doors. Luckily, it’s way more accessible than it sounds. Calvert and Brock were back to their free-flowing best, and it was as far from the band’s crusty Ladbroke Grove beginnings as you could imagine.
“Robert was in a very rich vein of work at that time,” says Bainbridge. “When we did the Sonic Assassins gig, we did this piece that was eventually called Over The Top. Basically it was just a jam, but then Robert came out and did this spiel about being in the First World War trenches. And I think he really was in those trenches at the time. He sank himself into these characters.
"On the Hawklords album I had this riff and Robert just sat there and wrote Free Fall, off the top of his head. Working with Robert and Dave Brock, who I think is one of the best rhythm guitarists this country has ever produced, was fascinating. To me it was like playing ‘grown-up’ music. I remember reading a review in Billboard magazine, who described it as Hawkwind like you’ve never heard before, with four-part harmonies and the like. They even called it AOR!”
The resulting tour was an elaborate confection of paint-splattered jump-suits and complex stage rigs, based on Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, designed by Hawkwind’s artistic genius, Barney Bubbles.
“There was a huge scaffolding rig with spinning mirror-wheels and six dancers. It was incredible,” says Bainbridge. But it was also time for another shake-up. Drummer Martin Griffin was fired, Swindells left and an increasingly paranoid Calvert quit to concentrate on writing.
“Bob was great to work with,” asserts Brock, “but he’d have his freakouts. He was hyperactive and it was quite stressful when he was over the top because he just wouldn’t sleep.”
There was time for one last hurrah during this purple patch of Hawklore. In 1979 Brock reformed Hawkwind with Bainbridge, Simon King, ex-Gong man Tim Blake and guitarist Huw Lloyd-Langton. After the Live Seventy Nine album, Ginger Baker joined the party for 1980’s sorely underrated Levitation.
“It was one of the first digital recordings,” explains Brock. “It gave a clearer tone to everything, but we were all a little in awe of playing with Ginger, who was this world-famous drummer, of course. He stayed with us for a year and a half. He was a pretty easy-going character.”
Bainbridge doesn’t quite remember it that way. “On the previous tour, Ginger said he wanted to cut the light show out, so we’d get more money. No one said anything, so I stuck my neck out and said: ‘Well, I don’t think it’s a good idea. The whole point of a Hawkwind show is the lights and spectacle.’”
At sessions for 1981’s Sonic Attack, Baker and keyboardist Keith Hale “told me I ought to leave. But how it turned out was that Dave and Huw decided it was Ginger who ought to go, but I had to tell him! Keith Hale ended up going with Ginger too. A bit of a grumpy man is our Ginger. It was a happier camp afterwards.” A seething Baker allegedly quipped: “The world’s worst bass player sacked the world’s best drummer.”
Huw Lloyd-Langton remembers them both playing Glastonbury shortly after the dismissal: “Ginger played the night before and made some snide comment about Hawkwind. So somebody from the audience threw a brick at him.” Hawkwind, as is their DNA, have pressed on ever since. They still operate in that same punk spirit that gathered them admirers from John Lydon and Joe Strummer to Jello Biafra, Henry Rollins and Primal Scream. Robert Calvert tragically died of a heart attack in 1988, aged just 43, but Dave Brock is still there at its core.
“Dave’s influence has always run through Hawkwind,” said Lloyd-Langton, who died in 2012 after a two-year battle with cancer. “As long as Brocky exists, there will always be a Hawkwind. It’s a strange, funny old band, but it just wouldn’t happen without him. He’s been the headstone of it all.”
The story of the lost pioneers of heavy metal
Beyond Black Sabbath and Judas Priest: The extraordinary story of heavy metal's originators – Iron Butterfly, Leaf Hound, Bloodrock, JPT Scare Band, Bang and more . . .
In the beginning, there was love, hope and happiness; there was no ‘heavy’.
It was the Sixties, man – nobody particularly needed heavy; they had The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and marijuana. But by the tail end of the decade things got ugly. Suddenly there was war, sex, drugs, violence, tension, revolution and fighting in the streets. And so ‘heavy’ came to pass.
Heavy metal, that immortal hoary beast of lust, power and violence, was born in those murky last moments of the 1960s. The debate over who coined the term ‘heavy metal’ and which band was the first to bash out the initial fuzzed-out power chord will likely rage on forever. But one thing we know for certain is that metal’s first five years laid the diabolical groundwork for everything that would come later.
Doom rock, stoner-metal, power-prog, slam-boogie… every hard, mean, gutbucket form of heavy rock’n’roll you can think of originated in that brief but fertile period between 1968 and 1973 when innocence and optimism was suddenly yesterday’s news, and rock was ready for some darkness.
“Cream [pic right] was the first definable heavy band,” claims Joe S Harrington, a full-contact rock journalist from Portland, Maine in the USA and author of the mammoth, and quite brilliant, Sonic Cool: The Birth & Death Of Rock’N’Roll, arguably the most complete and thorough examination of rock music ever written.
In that book he traced the beginnings of metal back to the power-blues of Cream’s Disraeli Gears album: “They had heavy solos, serious musicianship and Druidic imagery, all things that would become trademarks of metal years later. And this was still in 1966. However, metal didn’t start until two years later. By 1968 you had four bands that could definably be called heavy metal: MC5, Steppenwolf, Iron Butterfly and Blue Cheer.”
All four left big footprints on the heavy rock trail. But only one of them can play the same song for an entire show.
Formed in San Diego in 1966, Iron Butterfly began as a psychedelic band but achieved a quite spectacular metamorphosis just two years later when bassist Lee Dorman joined the band and they recorded the now legendary 17-minute proto-metal classic track In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, a swirling acid attack of incessant twin guitars and gorilla-fingered organ plunking.
Lee remembered its creation well: “That song was actually only about a minute-and-a-half long when it started. I’d just joined, and the guitar player had just joined in August, so we kind of experimented with that song to kind of get the band together. The song took on a life of its own, it just kept going and going. The engineer just left the tape rolling, the producer wasn’t even there when we recorded it.
“The other miracle was that we played it all the way through without any mistakes. Except for a couple of guitar and vocal overdubs, what you hear is what we played. If we had to do that in pieces, we might still be there.”
Lee cites free-form FM radio shows for the track’s inexplicable success. In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida stayed in American charts for a staggering two years. As for Iron Butterfly’s status as metal pioneers, Dorman was diplomatic: “I have heard it said that Iron Butterfly are the fathers of heavy metal, but we were certainly not alone in that.”
With the success of Iron Butterfly, the music industry scrambled to find similar veins to plunder. “The record companies were all owned by old men until The Beatles,” Joe Harrington explains. “As it progressed, they hired hippies to run the labels. Suddenly, everything goes, because they have no idea what’s going to hit. Everybody was caught off-guard by the revolution. It was a time of wild experimentation. Heavy metal went into a bunch of directions.”
One of the first offshoots of early metal was ‘downer rock’, a term coined by Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward. Sabbath’s minor chords, apocalyptic worldview and relentless gloom hit a nerve in a generation haunted by the draft into the US military, by the end of the peace and love era, by the encroaching funk of political and financial instability.
And then, as Joe Harrington explains, there were also the drugs. “Downer rock was all about Quaaludes. I mean, they were called downers. The drugs went along with it. Drink wine, do some Quaaludes, listen to Black Sabbath. The downer rock movement was the last drug movement based in some kind of spiritual quest. In this case it was a dark, satanic quest. It was a dark buzz, fuelled by Altamont and Manson.”
While Harrington cites Sabbath as the undisputed pioneers of downer rock, he believes it is Texan band Bloodrock who define the genre. “Bloodrock were the all-time champions of negativity,” he claims.
To find out if that’s true, let’s get it straight from the horse’s mouth. John Nitzinger is a legend in Texas rock. His long and storied history includes a brief but eventful solo career in the early 70s band that spawned the gritty hits Louisiana Cockfight and LA Texas Boy, as well as stints with Carl Palmer and Alice Cooper. But he’s best-known as the man who orchestrated the career of Bloodrock [pic left], one of the most nihilistic proto-metal bands to ever write a seven-minute song about bleeding to death.
From his home in Lake Worth, Nitzinger explains how he got blood from the rock: “Jim Rutledge came up to me when I was playing at the Cellar and asked if I would write some songs for his band. So I said sure, and I got with ’em. I tutored them all in how to play the songs and their instruments.”
Vocalist Rutledge and his band were hand-picked in 1969 by Grand Funk Railroad manager Terry Knight, who imagined his scruffy young hires as the meanest, loudest heavy metal band possible, a sort of Sex Pistols for the freak generation.
“I taught them how to play the songs, and we went out to a lake house here in Fort Worth every weekend and jammed for months and months, putting it all together,” Nitzinger says.
The band ended up releasing eight albums throughout the 70s and reformed for a reunion show in 2005, but they are most remembered for DOA, a song from their 1970 album Bloodrock 2, which became an enduring, and highly unlikely, hit on FM radio. DOA is seven minutes of pure pain; a doomy, funeral organ-fuelled creepy-crawler complete with a bleating ambulance siren and hopeless lyrics like: ‘The sheets are red and moist where I’m lying/God in Heaven, teach me how to die.’ If you’re looking for the darkest moment of 70s rock, look no further.
Nitzinger remembers how the song came to be: “Jim said to me one day: ‘I’m gonna write the sickest, most twisted song I can think of.’ And I’ll be damned if he didn’t write DOA, and it became a hit.”
As to why such a nihilistic song could ever catch on, Nitzinger has his theories: “It came out on Halloween, which was good, and it got banned, because it had the sirens in it. And when you’re driving down the street and you hear sirens on the radio… well, cars started pulling over. The song became a traffic hazard. So they banned it. Which made people want it all the more.”
As to Bloodrock’s reputation as the mood killers of early metal, Nitzinger admits that the band courted the dark side on occasion, but he’s quick to point out that their mysterious image was largely just a fan creation. “There is some dark, tongue-in-cheek stuff in there,” he says about the early Bloodrock albums.
“At the time, we were very serious. We wanted to get down to the nitty gritty and really look at the dark side of things. We didn’t want to be a sunshine band,” he laughs. “This band always was mysterious. But it was the fans that made them that way. The fans built up this image. We didn’t know we were on the dark side, we were just young guys doing our thing. It was the crowd that defined us that way.”
As to chemical influences, well, that’s a story left untold. “Drugs? Quaaludes?” Nitzinger bristles at the question. “I don’t talk about drugs. Hell, this band has been clean and sober for years now.”
Downer rock was not the only direction metal went in. By 1971 it had fractured into dozens of different micro-genres and had become a worldwide phenomenon. Suddenly the record bins were filled with wild new bands. As Joe Harrington put it: “The crazier, the more controversial, the more off-the-wall the music was, the better.”
Dorman split from Iron Butterfly and formed the ground-breaking psychedelic-boogie band Captain Beyond. Sir Lord Baltimore, often cited as the godfathers of ‘stoner rock’, started up in New York. In Washington DC, Pentagram out-Sabbathed Sabbath and laid the groundwork for American doom metal. From Germany, Tiger B. Smith mixed bone-crunching hard rock with psychotic glam. South Africa spawned the acid-punk metal of Suck. Japan’s Flower Travelin’ Band mixed Middle Eastern rhythms with crushing, Blue Cheer power rock.
Many bands released a single album or two and then disappeared into the ether: bands with sinister names and screaming guitars like Antrobus, Iron Claw, Josefus, Necromandus, The Firebirds, Warhorse, Armegeddon, Mourning Sun, Epitath, Jamul, Primevil, Savage Grace and Black Merder. All these bands are the forgotten pioneers of heavy metal. With little label support and spotty distribution, it’s a wonder they were heard at all.
As Joe Harrington points out: “There was no heavy metal section at the record store in 1972. You just had to look at the record and figure it out.”
While most proto-metal bands succumbed to disco, punk, obscurity or James Taylor by the mid-70s, a few of them managed to endure. Some were even rediscovered by new audiences decades later. Three such bands are JPT Scare Band, Leaf Hound and Bang.
JPT Scare Band was the death metal of early-70s hard rock. Formed in Kansas City, Missouri in 1973, their nearly freeform psyche-metal went further than any band before them. Aptly named, they constructed towering walls of terrifying, evocative, druggy guitar noise, but played mostly for like-minded stoners in their rehearsal space, leaving them one of the most obscure proto-metal innovators. As Scare Band drummer Jeff Litrell recalls: “We played live almost every night, it was just that we did it down in the basement with only a few tripped-out freaks in attendance.”
Like their forebears in Sabbath and Bloodrock, the Scare Band were not afraid to explore the dark side in their music. Their first album, Sleeping Sickness – recorded between 1974 and 1976 but not released until 2000 – sounds like the death of the American dream at 150 decibels. But as Litrell tells me, the idea was not to bum the audience out.
“Nah, we just weren’t eating regularly,” he laughs. “We lived in a war zone of gunfire and stake-outs, pimps and hoes. When you had to walk somewhere you walked with purpose. It was right toward the end of the Vietnam débâcle and the times were somewhat oppressed. Believe it or not, we thought we were really up and just psychedelic. We never purposely intended to bum people out. We definitely wanted to scare them, though.”
The JPT Scare Band reunited in 2001 after 25 years apart, and released Jamm Vapour in 2007 on Kung Bomar Records.
Peter French is legend in the annals of proto-metal, having fronted three seminal bands from 1970-74: Cactus, Atomic Rooster and his own creation, Leaf Hound. The latter’s sole album, 1970s Growers Of Mushroom, is now acknowledged as an undisputed classic of heavy riff’n’roll, and has gone on to influence countless bands, including nearly every major player in the stoner rock movement, from Kyuss to Monster Magnet.
But, as French explains, the band’s leafy-green imagery was more horror show then dope show. “The name Leaf Hound was not what some people have presumed it to be,” he says, “the idea of the name coming from a short horror story by Ray Bradbury called The Emissary, about a dog that had returned from the dead covered in mud and leaves.”
Furthermore, French says, the band’s image, like Bloodrock’s, was largely the figment of revisionist imaginations: “The drug scene of course was around, but we never really took to it. The drug-crazed image of Leaf Hound that some people seem to have assumed couldn’t be further from the truth. The band was as straight as a die when we wrote and played and recorded our album.”
Through a series of murky circumstances, Leaf Hound were dropped from their label on the eve of their first album’s release.
“We found out, much to our complete and utter dismay, that our album was not now going to be released after all,” French remembers. “The band broke up after hearing this. Ironically, about a year after the band had finished, the record appeared, but of course now there was no band to promote it.”
French, who went on to play in Big Bertha with Cozy Powell, as well as Atomic Rooster and Cactus, felt that Leaf Hound never got their due. Then, in 1993, the band finally got the recognition they deserved: “Record Collector magazine rang me out of the blue, to my surprise, to tell me what a fantastic band they thought Leaf Hound was,” he says, “and invited me to do what was to become quite a major interview for their magazine.”
Growers Of Mushroom was re-released in 1994 to critical acclaim. French re-formed Leaf Hound with an all-new lineup, and released a new album, Leaf Hound Unleashed, in 2009, followed by Live in Japan three years later.
Meanwhile, what of the final band in our deadly trio: Bang? [pic left] We tracked down Tony D’Lorio, drummer for the Philadelphia metal combo, who immediately told us: “We had to be the first band to use shotguns on stage. We had a guy dressed in black shooting a shotgun. Because we’re named Bang, see?”
Bang formed two weeks after the Woodstock festival in 1969. “We were basically doing Black Sabbath then, trying to figure out what we were all about,” Tony says. “Loud music and smoke, that was the theme of the band.”
After fitfully trying to get somewhere in their home town and enduring more than their share of strange events, including a singer who “went crazy and ended up in a mental institution”, Tony took Bang and a tent on the road, travelling to Miami to find a record distributor to sign his band. Somewhere along the way they ran out of pot and pulled over in Daytona.
“So we score a bag on the boardwalk, and now we’re looking for papers,” he remembers. “So we pass by this record store, and there’s a sign in the window for a Battle Of The Bands. We go in to talk to the guy, I tell him we want in. He has a real snotty attitude and tells us it was last week, we were too late. And then he says: ‘Hey, Rod Stewart is playing over in Atlanta, why don’t you go there and play with him?’
“So we’re sleeping in a tent, and I say: ‘We’re going to Atlanta to play with Rod Stewart.’ We get to the place where he’s playing; it seats 17,000 people. I start knocking on doors until I find this guy who I think is the promoter. I tell him: ‘We’re Bang, from Philly. I’d like you to hear us play. If you like us, we’ll play on the show, if not we’ll go away.’ So we set up, we do our set for the guy, and he loves us. He says: ‘Yeah, okay, you can open up the show.’ That night it was Rod Stewart & The Faces, Deep Purple, Southern Comfort and us. We had like six inches at the front of the stage to set up.”
After that fateful night, Bang began opening for major bands such as Steppenwolf and Ike & Tina Turner, and eventually got signed to Capitol Records. They released four albums of hard, politically charged rock, but split in 1974, when heavy metal fell out of favour, and the label asked if they could write a song like Helen Reddy’s feminist hit I Am Woman.
“We couldn’t,” Tony shrugs resignedly. “Twenty five years later we got back together and carried on.”
The official history of heavy metal will probably continue to put Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin on page one, but there is a rich, secret history of the hard stuff out there, buried under stacks of old, crackly vinyl. These are the forgotten ghosts of metal. Relics from the dark ages of rock’n’roll. Ancient astronauts floating soundlessly into the void. But bands such as Bloodrock, JPT Scare Band, Leaf Hound and Bang remember. And so do a growing cult of fans who are rediscovering the missing links of metal, one acid-fried memory at a time.
“We had a ton of fun, we made love to beautiful women, we travelled to the edge of the cosmic universe and returned semi-intact,” says JPT Scare Band’s Jeff Litrell. “We experienced interesting times, made great music and recorded a lot of it. Terry, Paul and I are still alive, we are still best of friends and we can still play scary music together. A lot of cool cats that we met along the way didn’t make it. Everything has turned out just fine, all things considered.”
Bang's Tony D'Lorio concludes as we wind up the Bang story “Man, I still get emails from people that say: ‘I just wanted to tell you that you blew Black Sabbath off the stage that night in Columbia,” And did you? “Oh yeah, we definitely blew them off the stage. No doubt about it."
Tony Iommi dismisses ‘rock is dead’ talk
as he readies Tony Martin-era Sabbath box set
'I don't think rock is going to die' says Black Sabbath riff lord Tony Iommi, as he promises new Sabbath retrospective.
Guitarist Tony Iommi is convinced that rock music is in rude health, and isn’t about to fade away anytime soon.
Sabbath’s founding guitarist addressed the topic raised on an annual basis by Kiss bassist Gene Simmons, and said, “I don’t think rock is going to die… that’s been said for years.”
“Good music is not going to go,” Iommi continued. “There's always going to be a market for it. There are going to be an amount of bands that fall by the wayside — as there always is, there always will be. But there are certain bands that are going to stick out and going to be there. You've got Metallica up there — they're not going to go away. They've got a lot of fans and they've got a great fanbase. There are a lot of bands out there. No, the music is not going to go away.”
Iommi revealed that, having reissued Ronnie James Dio-era Sabbath albums Heaven And Hell and The Mob Rules, he’d like to dig into his personal vaults in order to compile a proper retrospective of Tony Martin’s time in the band, which began with 1987’s The Eternal Idol album and lasted through to 1995’s Forbidden (save for the period when Dio returned to the band for 1992’s Dehumanizer).
“I've got a lot of lots and lots and lots of recordings of stuff we've done in the past that's never seen the light of day,” he revealed. “I'd like to sort some of that out and put that on some of the albums. We are gradually going through these box sets and then there will be a Tony Martin [era] box set at some point coming out and stuff with Ian Gillan maybe.”
“It's unfortunate that over the years Tony Martin has got buried in all this Ozzy and Dio stuff and everything,” Iommi added. “There will be a period now where we'll be able to release the box set with the Tony Martin albums with some good outtakes as well. I've already mixed [it] here at home, so that's all ready to go, but we have to wait until the time is right. We can't put all these things out together — it would cause confusion.”
“I've got boxes and boxes of stuff that's probably never been heard,” the guitarist admitted. “Even I can't remember it all, it's just a matter of rolling through it and finding it.”
WHO WERE ACTUALLY TERRIBLE PEOPLE
Some musicians just have a freakish amount of talent. Most of us learn at a young age that we are not those people. The realization probably came as soon as you were old enough to read social cues and you tried showing off your amazing talents to anyone except your pet. (Daisy is a very good dog, but maybe not a very good judge of musical ability.) Those who do have that freakish amount of talent are the singer-songwriters, the people who can play any instrument they pick up, the ones who get lost in the music of their own making whether they're in the studio or on stage. There's something almost magical about listening to a true musical genius, and they've definitely earned our respect. But it's easy to forget that behind all that music is a very ordinary person, and sometimes, that ordinary person is a terrible human being.
JOHNNY CASH'S TROUBLES WITH WOMEN
There's a lot of dark stuff in Johnny Cash's life, but let's talk about how horrible he was to women. Vivian Cash's book I Walked the Line was a heartbreaking tell-all detailing how she continued loving her husband even through the drugs and the affair with his more famous second partner, June Carter Cash. It was Vivian who gave him four daughters, raised them, and stuck with him through the worst of the arrests and the accidental forest fires (via USA Today), but Johnny gave all the credit to June.
Behind closed doors, June Carter didn't actually have it any easier, in spite of the storybook romance performed for the public. Biographer Robert Hilburn (via Esquire) says he was stunned when he found out Cash had cheated on her when she was pregnant with son John Carter. There were many women, but the most painful was probably June's own sister, Anita. John Carter has also talked about his parents' less-than-perfect marriage, and has said (via Reuters) his mother's drug addictions and descent into paranoia came from a near-constant fear Johnny was cheating again. That fear spread to their son, who grew up well aware that his family could fall apart at any time.
CHUCK BERRY'S ICKY PAST
Chuck Berry was a legend who helped shape rock and roll, and when he died in 2017, The New Yorker described him as "a proud and difficult man" who "was also a genius." He also once punched Keith Richards in the mouth for touching his guitar while they were getting together to organize Berry's 60th birthday party. That's the attitude that got him into all kinds of trouble, and Berry even had a name for those incidents: his "naughties."
It started when, as a teenager, he did three years in a reform school for stealing cars and armed robbery. Fast-forward to 1962, when Berry was 36 years old. He was tossed in the clink for violating the Mann Act, a law that prohibits taking a woman across state lines with "immoral" intentions. Oh, and the girl was 14. He served 20 months of the three years he was originally sentenced to (via NPR), getting out on appeal after the judge made racist comments.
And the hits just kept on coming, according to the Riverfront Times. In December 1989, Berry was accused of videotaping women in the bathroom of one of his restaurants. The following June, his property was raided, with law enforcement finding weapons, pot, and the videotapes in question, placing him at the center of a class-action lawsuit. Berry's camp eventually settled, but that seriously tarnishes any legacy.
ELVIS' UNDERAGE FLINGS
It's impossible to describe the effect Elvis had on music history, so let's get right to the dirt. He was 21 when he became ridiculously famous with the success of "Heartbreak Hotel," and after that, all bets were off when it came to how far he was going to go. Along with the fame and fortune came the admiration of countless women, but according to biographer Joel Williamson (via Broadly), there was a particular type of woman Elvis liked: the really, really young ones.
The right age to be an Elvis girl was 14, and when the 22-year-old megastar went on those early tours he took along a little group of 14-year-olds. Williamson says he was a huge fan of tickling and wrestling, along with everything else short of actual intercourse. Future wife Priscilla was 14 when she met 24-year-old Elvis, and just what went on behind closed doors is debated. What's not debated is that after Lisa Marie was born he lost interest in her, instead courting another 14-year-old named Reeca Smith.
There was a bit of violence in Elvis, too. Years later, he was engaged to a 21-year-old who claimed he once pulled out a gun and put a bullet in the headboard of the bed she was sleeping in, saying it was "an attention getter." The Guardian says in between those major relationships there were a ton of others, many with underage girls who preferably had tiny, tiny feet.
FRANK SINATRA'S DESTRUCTIVE TEMPER
Frank Sinatra was iconic on stage, but there was a lot of shady stuff that happened off-stage. Let's talk about one part of that: his temper. According to The Telegraph, it was so bad that one of his wives once described him as a sort of Jekyll-and-Hyde character, and there's a whole list of physical altercations he was involved in. First, the ones where someone got seriously hurt.
He punched a reporter in 1948, eventually settling the assault and battery charges filed against him. He was staying at the Beverly Hills Hotel when he threw a phone at a random businessman who was also there, and cracked the man's skull. He nearly killed his then-wife Ava Gardner by throwing a champagne bottle at her so hard it cracked the bathroom sink.
Sinatra destroyed an insane amount of stuff, too, usually in fits of rage. He took a knife to a Norman Rockwell painting and shredded it, threw a malfunctioning TV out a window at Sands Hotel in Las Vegas, and smashed a car radio when The Doors' "Light My Fire" came on. GQ says some of the stuff that met an untimely end under his boot was pretty priceless, too, like the Ming vase he destroyed at a Hong Kong hotel after someone missed a lighting cue. That's what happens when you get too used to having things your way.
JERRY LEE LEWIS'S RAGE-HATE
Talking about the sins and vices of Jerry Lee Lewis is a little difficult, for one simple reason: He's got pretty much all of them. He changed the face of rock and roll, he helped shape decades of music, and he also has a ton of shadiness in his past. A lot can be traced back to a nasty temper and a violent streak, but finding it all is tricky. The Guardian interviewed him in 2015, and said it's almost impossible to figure out what's truth and what's legend, including the circumstances around his nickname: the Killer. The story Lewis tells is that a friend just ... called him that one day for no discernible reason, but it's also possible it came after he tried to strangle and kill one of his teachers, an act he fully admits to.
Lewis has had seven wives, and two died mysteriously: one by drowning and one by overdose. The latter incident went to court, where Lewis was ultimately cleared of wrongdoing. But the law was not on his side after he shot his bass player in the chest and had to pay out $125,000. Lewis's seventh marriage was to the ex-sister-in-law of his third wife, the most infamous. Myra was 13 years old, and the daughter of Lewis' cousin. Oh and, Medium says, he was still technically married to his second wife at the time. It's no wonder Lewis lies awake at night and worries whether he's going to heaven or hell.
JAMES LEVINE'S PREDATORY BEHAVIOR
You can't get much bigger than the Metropolitan Opera, and for more than 40 years, conductor James Levine was at the head of it. He sported titles like director emeritus and worked with the company's young artists program as artistic director. The last one is particularly creepy, given that the New York Times announced in March 2018 the Met was officially — and loudly — ending its association with him amid accusations of "sexually abusive and harassing conduct."
Not a lot of details were released, but sometimes, just a few details are enough. The Met's investigation involved interviews with 70 people, and it ended with an official statement saying there was "credible evidence that Mr. Levine engaged in sexually abusive ... conduct toward vulnerable artists in the early stages of their careers." Levine didn't comment on the firing — which came after a December 2017 suspension prompted by four men who came forward to say they had been targeted by the conductor when they were still teenagers. Levine denied the accusations then, but things started looking very, very bad with the revelation it wasn't the first time he'd been accused of that sort of thing. There were rumors of abuse as far back as the 1960s, when Levine was working at the Meadow Brook School of Music. With accusations firmly out in the public eye now, one of his accusers was quoted as saying, "The truth can be very useful. The truth creates good."
CEE LO GREEN'S VIEWS ON CONSENT
Cee Lo Green hit something of a rough patch in 2012 and 2013, and it gets a little complicated. According to The Guardian, his troubles only started when he was accused of both giving a woman ecstasy and later raping her. Green ultimately pleaded no contest to the drug felony and got three years of probation, along with 45 days of community service. The rape charges simply went away because Green's lawyer argued there was no proof it wasn't consensual.
That's skeevy, and it gets worse. Green took to Twitter to voice his opinions on rape, and saying they're horrible opinions is a huge understatement. He wrote, "People who have really been raped REMEMBER!!!" and "If someone is passed out they're not even WITH you consciously! So WITH Implies consent."
The Twitterverse's meltdown was immediate, and even though he deleted the tweets, other Twitterers saved them to prove that once something's on the internet, it's definitely not going away. That's true for everything, and it's especially true when it's a sentiment like that. Green apologized, saying he'd "never condone the harm of any women," but he still became another poster child for proof of just how healthy modern rape culture is (via Mic).
MILES DAVIS, DRUGS, ABUSE
If there was ever a human being who embodied the spirit of music, that human was Miles Davis and the spirit was jazz. But he was also such a horrible human that when the New York Times reported there was going to be a movie made about his life, they also said it presented some problems.
First, let's mention the fact he used to play with his back to his fans, and God help anyone who was brazen enough to walk up to him. There was the insane vanity, to the point where (via The Atlantic) he condemned music critics for writing pieces that sang the praises of anyone else, claiming they were just out to take away his spotlight. Then there were the heroin and cocaine addictions, stories of pimping, and his abusive relationships with the women he married.
Ex-wife Frances Davis has claimed she wasn't just terrified of him, she ran away a few times convinced he was going to kill her. He admitted to the whole sordid trend of beating his wives in his autobiography, Miles, and even admitted he approved of other men hitting their wives and girlfriends to keep them in line.
BRIAN JONES: ANTI-ESTABLISHMENT AND ABUSIVE
Brian Jones (at right) died when he was 27, and when Rolling Stone reported on the mysterious circumstances of his death, they did it in an article subtitled Sympathy for the Devil. That's not just a clever play on one of the Stones' songs — Jones made Keith Richards look like the one you'd choose to bring home to meet your parents.
There were, of course, the drugs and the pills that ultimately led to him parting ways with the rest of the band not long before his drowning death. His troubles started long before that, though, and he was kicked out of his grammar school for inciting rebellion. He held down a ton of random jobs, got in the face of the popular press who didn't understand — or particularly like — what they were doing, and behind closed doors he had a violent streak a mile long.
Anita Pallenberg was one of the original muses for the Stones, and she'd eventually go on to have a long-term relationship with Richards. But she started out with Jones, says Rolling Stone, and it was an abusive relationship that ended when Jones hit her so hard he broke his hand on her face. Sympathy for the devil, indeed.
PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING ABOUT MORRISSEY
If you want to talk about a guy who's been very vocal about some unpopular opinions, Morrissey is your guy.
In 2007, the Independent picked up an interview he did lamenting what he saw as the death of British-ness. While he denied being either xenophobic or racist, he was still quoted as saying things like, "Although I don't have anything against people from other countries ... the price (of immigration) is enormous. Travel to England and you have no idea where you are." (The Manchester-born Morrissey is the son of Irish immigrants, and he later immigrated to Los Angeles and then on to Rome, so ... yeah.) Three years later, The Guardian ran an interview with the vegetarian, who went on record condemning the animals rights abuses going on in China. He then continued, "You can't help but feel that the Chinese are a subspecies."
When the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke, Morrissey (via the Independent) had this to say: "I hate sexual situations that are forced on someone. But in many cases, one looks at the circumstances and thinks that the person who is considered a victim is merely disappointed." He's targeted so many people Rolling Stone did a round-up of his most controversial opinions, and it included blaming Kate Middleton for the suicide of a nurse, shrugging off a massacre that left 77 people dead as "nothing compared to what happens in McDonald's ... every day," and called for Elton John's head to be served to him on a plate.
JAMES BROWN AND DOMESTIC ABUSE
James Brown's daughter, Yamma, released her memoir Cold Sweat: My Father James Brown and Me in 2016. It was a heartbreaking, cautionary tale of a girl who grew up in a family where domestic abuse was the norm, a girl who ended up in an abusive marriage of her own. She says even though he never turned on her, she grew up terrified he would. She described some insane incidents, including one (via the Independent) where she wrote, "Blood spurted from my mother's face. She started thrashing around, kicking her legs, holding up her arms to ward off the punches and trying to break free, trying to save herself."
There were other incidents, too. In 2004, Rolling Stone reported Brown was arrested for shoving then-wife Tomi Rae Brown and sending her to the hospital. That mean streak didn't keep him from having an indeterminate amount of illegitimate — and often unacknowledged — children, as The Telegraph reported after his death, forgotten sons and daughters started coming forward with DNA proof they were Brown's kids.
Brown was also at the heart of a change in legislature. Jacque Holland came forward in 2005 and accused Brown of a 1998 rape, but the case was refused because of the time that elapsed. NME reported the laws were changed to give victims more time to report a crime, a result Hollander was happy with.
PETER MCNEAL'S CHILD MOLESTATION CHARGES
Cake is one of those groups you probably forgot you used to listen to all the time, but before you go back and dig out your CDs, let's talk about what drummer Peter McNeal has been up to. McNeal — who was also the drummer for Norah Jones — made Rolling Stone headlines in 2014 for one of the most despicable reasons you can imagine. The verdict of his court case was in, and he was sentenced to 15 years to life in jail and was a permanent addition to the sex offender registry.
Noisey said it wasn't just because of a single incident, either. The details are way, way too terrible to repeat, so let's just say one incident happened while he was volunteering at a school in Los Angeles. Another one of his victims was only 3 years old at the time, and that's as terrible as it gets.
STEVEN TYLER'S CHILD GIRLFRIEND
There are two sides to every story, and really, both sides to this one are uncomfortable. When Aerosmith front man Steven Tyler wrote his 2011 memoir Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?, he talked a bit about early girlfriend Julia Holcomb (and managed to misspell her name in the book's acknowledgements, notes the Boston Globe). Tyler wrote he had nicknamed her Little Bo Peep, said they liked to get it on in public, and left out a lot of the other details.
Holcomb wanted to clear the air about what she says really happened, so she took to Life Site to tell her side of the story. According to her, she was a 16-year-old from a broken family when she met Tyler and kicked off a relationship with him that really started when her troubled mother signed documents making Tyler her legal guardian. Holcomb says she was already pregnant by the time he asked her to marry him, and plans for a family started to fall apart when his grandmother refused to pass on her ring. Five months into the pregnancy, Holcomb was trapped in a house fire and sent to the hospital, where she says Tyler convinced her to have an abortion. (Jezebel notes that he also talks about it in Walk This Way, Aerosmith's autobiography.) Holcomb left him — he had already moved on to other women — and returned to her parents. Tyler returned to the rock star life.
MICHAEL BREWER: TOTAL PREDATOR
Chetham's school of music is a prestigious school in Manchester, and until 1994, the director of music there was Michael Brewer. Brewer — who was also the director of the National Youth Choir and was awarded an OBE for his services to music — was handed a jail sentence in 2013. The charge was sexual abuse, and the story gets even darker.
According to the BBC, it started for Frances Andrade when she was 14 years old. Brewer was her teacher, and repeatedly assaulted her between 1978 and 1982. Brewer's then-wife, Hilary, was also involved in the assault and was arrested, charged, and convicted separately. None of this came to light until years later, and when it did, law enforcement stumbled into other complaints that had been covered up, and another affair with a 17-year-old student.
Andrade testified in court, and several of the charges against Brewer and his ex-wife were dropped mid-trial. Only six days after hearing that news, Andrade committed suicide. The Telegraph reported her son blamed not only Brewer, but his defense counsel, too, for taking the route of calling his mother a "liar" and a "fantasist." Even as the judge declared Brewer to be a "predatory sex offender," law enforcement was still tracking down former students and taking more statements about all that had gone on behind the orchestra curtain.
SPADE COOLEY'S DOMESTIC SORROWS
Spade Cooley was born in 1910, so you get a pass if you're not incredibly familiar with his name. He was huge in the 1950s, declared he was the "King of Western Swing," led a 30-piece band, hosted his own TV show, and made appearances in more than 50 movies. He's even got a star on Hollywood Boulevard, and you may have had a better chance of remembering him if his career hadn't been derailed by alcohol, pills, jealousy, and murder.
Weirdly, he was the one who filed for divorce from his second wife, Ella Mae. According to Taste of Country, they were on the verge of getting back together when he killed her on April 3, 1961. It gets worse, believe it or not. The murder wasn't just incredibly violent (the LA Times says Cooley choked, beat, and stomped her to death), but he did it in front of their 14-year-old daughter, Melody. He also reportedly put a cigarette out on her to make sure she was dead, then sat around in bloody clothes for a few hours before finally calling someone.
Melody's testimony ultimately led to his conviction, and he was actually up for parole in 1970. He was granted permission to perform at a charity concert in 1969, but collapsed and died backstage. It's a weird end to the tale of the only celebrity with both a Walk of Fame star and a murder conviction.
LEAD BELLY'S PENCHANT FOR VIOLENCE
Lead Belly died in 1949, and if you don't remember him, you should at least be glad groups like Creedence Clearwater Revival and artists like Bob Dylan didn't forget him. Even George Harrison once said, "No Lead Belly, no Beatles." You know the songs he recorded, too — like "The Midnight Special" and "Goodnight Irene" (via The Telegraph).
Huddie Ledbetter was born in 1888, and he picked up the name Lead Belly in prison. He did several stretches in jail, starting with 30 days on a chain gang in 1915 for getting in a particularly violent fight. Two years later he was arrested again, this time for killing his cousin's husband and nearly killing another. He was pardoned in 1925 but went back in jail in 1930, this time for stabbing and what Black History Now says was "assault with intent to murder." It was during this stint he was discovered by a pair of musicologists who were recording songs for the Smithsonian, and Lead Belly recorded hundreds for them. The rest of his life was a combination of performing at venues of all sizes across the country, and more time in jail. There was another stabbing incident in 1939, but he stayed out of trouble for the next few years. He was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease only months before he died from it in 1949, and he left behind an incredible legacy. And some dead people.
JOHN LENNON: ABSENT FATHER, WOMAN BEATER
You likely know John Lennon as the guy who sang "imagine all the people living life in peace." Before trying to fix the world's problems, the ex-Beatle should have probably sorted out the not-at-all-peaceful mess that was his home life. Despite his hippy image, Lennon was a guy who left a string of broken people in his wake. He abandoned his first son, Julian, when the poor boy was only 5. As Julian himself has said, Lennon then basically blocked the kid from his mind, giving Julian's mom, Cynthia, just enough money for school and clothes and not a penny more. Acceptable when you're barely scraping a living for yourself, maybe, but kinda unacceptable when you're part of literally the most famous band on Earth.
Still, in some ways Lennon's abandonment of Julian may have been a blessing in disguise. Vice reports that while he was still with Cynthia, Lennon would verbally abuse the boy over the slightest things and leave piles of drugs lying around the house. He also had a string of affairs, a practice he carried over to his marriage with Yoko Ono, although Ono doesn't seem to have minded. Perhaps worst of all, though, was Lennon's admission in a 1980 Playboy interview that he used to sometimes hit the women in his life. It really doesn't take much effort to imagine Lennon was a prize jerk.
R. KELLY THE PERVERT CULTIST
In terms of musical significance, no one has had such an impact on RnB as R. Kelly. In terms of making your lunch want to exit your body at high velocity, no one has had as much impact on your stomach as the same man. R. Kelly is a guy who has taken male privilege and pushed it to extremes so sickening that even the abstract concept of toxic masculinity finds him disgusting. For 25 years now, we've had well-documented instances of Kelly abusing women, harassing women, grooming teenage girls, and allegedly even doing utterly screwed up stuff like peeing on a 14-year-old, according to Variety. The accusations are now so unrelenting that Lifetime was able to dedicate six whole hours for its harrowing documentary series Surviving R. Kelly.
Perhaps one of the worst accusations is that Kelly kept black teenage girls in a demented sex cult, grooming them, abusing them, and having them cut off all contact with friends and family to become his personal slaves. A 2019 BBC documentary found evidence that Kelly kept 14-year-old girls as "pets," a term that probably sums up all you need to know about his view of women.
Still, we happily now live in a world where being rich and famous is no longer a guaranteed get-out-of-jail-free card. Following the broadcast of Surviving R. Kelly, Chicago and Atlanta prosecutors opened new investigations into the singer (via Guardian).
IAN DURY WAS AN ALCOHOLIC BULLY
There's an old anecdote about British musician Ian Dury's drunken antics that kind of sums up everything about him. Disabled in one arm and one leg by a childhood battle with polio, the alcoholic Dury nonetheless liked to get drunk and insult the biggest, meanest, nastiest guy in any given pub, just to see if they would try and fight a disabled person. Sometimes they would, and Dury's bandmates would step in and finish the fight for him. Since it often ended in a beating for the band members, sticking up for drunken Dury became known as "Dury Duty."
Dury's acid tongue wounded more than just random bruisers in various London pubs. According to his son, Baxter, Dury was like a "Polaris missile," able to lock onto anyone's weakness in seconds and verbally destroy them. This violence was dished out basically whenever he'd been drinking; he would hurt family, friends, children, or whoever happened to wander into sight.
Speaking of Baxter, Dury was also kind of an ... unusual father to him. By which we mean that he once left teenage Baxter in the care of a violent drug addict known as the "Sulphate Strangler" for three whole years. The two bonded and became friends, but that doesn't change the fact that this was basically a terrible idea.
IKE TURNER'S SHOCKING RECORD OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Before he became famous as Tina Turner's husband, Ike Turner was famous for being one of the handful of people who could claim to have invented rock 'n' roll (via Mic). After he married Tina, Ike was yet more famous for being a husband so abusive that murdering him might have led to the creation of a whole new category of justifiable homicide.
Tina once wrote that their lives together were "defined by abuse and fear." According to the Cut, Ike took Tina to a brothel on their wedding night. He routinely did cocaine and then had sex with her in such a brutal way that Tina admitted it felt more like rape. He sometimes beat her. At various times he broke her nose, broke her jaw, gave her two black eyes, and left her with third-degree burns after hurling hot coffee in her face. At one moment in her autobiography I, Tina, the star writes with shocking frankness about tasting blood from a beating as she sang on stage.
There are also rumors, many recounted in a Spin Magazine interview in which Ike tried to defend his behavior, that he threatened to kill Tina, shot bullets into her house after they split up, and once drove her to attempt suicide. When asked about it, Ike said, "I didn't hit her more than the average guy beats his wife." What a class act.
MICHAEL JACKSON: CREDIBLE ACCOUNTS OF CHILD ABUSE
In the post MeToo era, we've learned that the rich and powerful will frequently do everything they can to silence accusers. That may be why, despite an all-out assault by the Jackson estate calling its subjects' credibility into account, the documentary Leaving Neverland is actually getting shown on TV. A four-hour film featuring detailed interviews with two men who say they survived persistent abuse at the hands of Michael Jackson as children, it was so shocking when screened at Sundance that Indiewire's reviewer said it "proves Michael Jackson sexually abused children."
According to Variety, Leaving Neverland slowly builds an effective, methodical case with so many damming details that it becomes hard to question. Not that people haven't tried. The two accusers, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, had previously defended Jackson at his trial and later lost a civil suit against the estate for abuse allegations. Jackson's estate says this shows their story is motivated by greed.
Still, what a story it is. Robson and Safechuck credibly allege that Jackson groomed them as children, molested them, forced them to perform sex acts on him, and even staged a mock wedding with Safechuck. All the while Jackson threatened them with prison if they ever told a soul. That's a classic abuser power play. It might finally be time to delete Beat It from your Spotify.
Not every supergroup has been able to sustain the lasting appeal of Cream or Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. The following list shows how many of these acts have been forgotten over the years.
For every Asia or Bad English that managed to reach, or even exceed, the commercial success of their members' earlier work, there are seemingly dozens that never got beyond a single album and tour cycle. This was often due to personality conflicts within the band or a record that simply failed to capture the public's imagination.
Sometimes these were simply side projects -- never intended for a long reign -- where members of one or more previously famous bands decided to moonlight with other musicians, perhaps to explore different styles of music then they performed with their main group.
Perhaps most frequently these forgotten supergroups formed when two or more former members of other famous acts decide to hitch their wagons to each other in order to climb back up rock's mountain of fame.
Whether these musicians left their original group because of personality conflicts, a desire to lead their own band or even due to the death of a former bandmate, they often find that it is difficult for the public to accept them under a new moniker.
In some cases, the supergroup's short tenure was by design. This below list includes one-off performances by members of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience, a Rush-fronted collection of Canadian stars who recorded one song for a movie and a Guns N' Roses-Metallica-Skid Row aggregation that was put together for a party we really wish we had attended.
Sebastian Bach participated in a one-off supergroup called the Gak with three members of Guns N' Roses -- Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan -- and three members of Metallica: James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett and Lars Ulrich. The occasion was a party thrown by 'RIP' magazine in Los Angeles. They took their name from a slang term for cocaine.
When the Canadian TV show 'Trailer Park Boys,' was set to make a movie, Rush's Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson led an all-Canadian supergroup comprised of members of Big Wreck, Three Days Grace, Die Mannequin and the Tea Party. They recorded a cover of Bobby Fuller Four's "I Fought the Law."
Lord Sutch and Heavy Friends
Screaming Lord Sutch was an eccentric British horror rocker who gained a cult following in the '60s. For his 1970 debut he got contributions from stars Jimmy Page (who co-produced), John Bonham, Jeff Beck, Nicky Hopkins and Noel Redding. Despite the musical firepower of the guests, it received savage reviews and reached only No. 84 in the 'Billboard' album chart.
Steampacket (or Steam Packet) could be called a reverse supergroup, in that everyone in it went to greater fame. In the summer of 1965, Long John Baldry, a mainstay of the British blues scene, formed the group with singers Rod Stewart and Julie Driscoll, keyboardist Brian Auger and guitarist Vic Briggs. They gigged around the U.K. for a little more than a year, with Stewart leaving in March 1966 and Baldry quitting that August.
After a pair of solo albums following his departure from Foreigner, Lou Gramm got together with guitarist Vivian Campbell, who had established quite a reputation by this point with Dio and Whitesnake, and Donnie Iris and the Cruisers drummer Kevin Valentine to form Shadow King. Their only album, a self-titled release from 1991, was produced by Keith Olsen, with whom Gramm had worked on Foreigner's 'Double Vision.' Another song they recorded, "One Dream," appeared on the soundtrack to 'Highlander II: The Quickening,' although it was credited to the Lou Gramm Band.
During a break from the Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger created SuperHeavy with Dave Stewart (Eurythmics), singer Joss Stone, reggae star Damian Marley and Bollywood composer A.R. Rahman. They reportedly cut 29 songs in only 10 days, and 12 were released on a self-titled album in 2011.
Singer Paul Rodgers teamed up with drummer Kenney Jones and created the Law. Their 12-song self-titled album came in 1991. Despite featuring songs written by Phil Collen, Bryan Adams and Chris Rea, and guitar work from Dave Gilmour on one track, the record peaked at only No. 126, although "Laying Down the Law" was a big hit at album-rock radio.
The Dirty Mac
The Dirty Mac was a one-off supergroup put together in 1968 for the Rolling Stones 'Rock and Roll Circus' television show, but it can't get much more super than its lineup: John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards and Mitch Mitchell. They performed the Beatles' "Yer Blues" and backed Yoko Ono on a free-form piece called "Whole Lotta Yoko."
Despite decades of well-known animosity between them, former Cream bandmates Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker looked to recreate their magic in 1993 with a new power trio. They brought in Irish guitar legend Gary Moore, who was also the principal songwriter, and put out 'Around the Next Dream' a year later. They broke up following a handful of concerts in the U.K. and Europe.
Eric Clapton’s Powerhouse
Looking to fill out a few tracks for a 1966 blues compilation called 'What's Shakin',' producer Joe Boyd, on the suggestion of Manfred Mann's Paul Jones, looked to use some of the stars of London's blues scene. Eric Clapton, fresh off his time with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, was the guitarist, and Steve Winwood, who was starting to make his name with the Spencer Davis Group, was recruited to sing. The rest of the group was comprised of three members of Manfred Mann -- Jones (harmonica), Jack Bruce (bass) and Pete York (drums) -- and pianist Ben Palmer. They recorded four songs, three of which made the record, and Clapton and Bruce formed Cream soon after.
Damnocracy was created in 2006 for the purposes of a VH1 reality program called 'Supergroup,' in which a bunch of rockers had to live together and collaborate on putting on a show. The group consisted of former Skid Row singer Sebastian Bach, Ted Nugent, Jason Bonham, Scott Ian (from Anthrax) and Evan Seinfeld (Biohazard). After the show, which includes highlights from their respective catalogs, some Led Zeppelin and AC/DC covers and a new song called "Take It Back," the members returned to their day jobs.
One of the longest serving supergroups, Captain Beyond formed in 1971 and, despite a handful of periodic breakups in between, toured as recently as 2015. Blending prog-rock intricacy with blues-based psychedelia, the band featured original Deep Purple singer Rod Evans (who fronted the band during their more prog-focused incarnation), guitarist Larry "Rhino" Reinhardt and bassist Lee Dorman, both of Iron Butterfly, and Johnny Winter drummer Bobby Caldwell. The band released three records including a live album during their initial run from 1971-73, and the current touring lineup includes Caldwell as the only original member; Reinhardt and Dorman both died in 2012.
Rock Star Supernova
After INXS found a new lead singer on the reality TV show 'Rock Star,' the second season featured a supergroup consisting of Tommy Lee, Jason Newsted and Gilby Clarke holding a competition to find a new singer. After 15 episodes, Lukas Rossi was crowned the winner. An album was released in late 2006, and they went on tour to promote it.
In 1983, Sammy Hagar got together with Neal Schon of Journey, and recruited bassist Kenny Aaronson (Billy Squier, Foghat) and drummer Michael Shrieve (Santana) to form HSAS. They recorded their album, 1984's 'Through the Fire,' live in concert at the Warfield Theater in San Francisco, with minimal overdubs added. Their lone single was a cover of Procol Harum's "A Whiter Shade of Pale."
Sammy Hagar, Neal Schon, Michael Anthony and Deen Castronovo formed Planet Us in 2002. They tried to snag Slash too, but he turned them down, so the guitarist gig went to Joe Satriani instead. They didn't last long, but the seeds were planted for another supergroup - Chickenfoot.
In 2011, Ian Gillan of Deep Purple and Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath got together to raise funds to help rebuild a music school in Gyumri, Armenia, that had been destroyed by an earthquake. Along with friends Jon Lord, Jason Newsted, Nicko McBrain (from Iron Maiden) and Mikko Lindstrom (HIM), they recorded two songs as WhoCares, "Out of My Mind" and "Holy Water." That was followed a year later by a two-CD set that packaged those tracks with rarities from throughout Iommi's and Gillan's careers.
In 1985, prog-rock guitar heroes Steve Howe (Yes, Asia) and Steve Hackett (Genesis) formed GTR with singer Max Bacon. Their lone album reached No. 11 on the 'Billboard' album chart and they had a Top 20 hit in "When the Heart Rules the Mind." But perhaps it's best remembered for the review it received from J.D. Considine in 'Musician' magazine: "SHT."
Formed in 1991 by brothers Johnny and Joey Gioeli, glam-metal supergroup Hardline included Todd Jensen (Sequel, Harlow), Neal Schon (Journey, Bad English) and Deen Castronovo (Bad English, Tony MacAlpine). The band released one self-titled album in 1992 before disbanding. They re-emerged in 2002 with an altered lineup, and have continued to record and perform.
Exiled from Journey in 1985, the rhythm section of Ross Valory (bass) and Steve Smith (drums) picked up founding Journey keyboardist Gregg Rolie and 707 vocalist Kevin Chalfant and created the Storm. A one-hit-wonder, the Storm earned a Top 40 hit with their eponymous debut album's power ballad "I've Got a Lot to Learn About Love" in 1991 before dissolving two years later.
Blizzard of Ozz
A bit of explanation is in order: Ozzy Osbourne's first project after leaving Black Sabbath was originally intended as a supergroup. In 1980. he enlisted Randy Rhoads (Quiet Riot), Lee Kerslake (Uriah Heep), Bob Daisley (Rainbow) and Don Airey (Rainbow), and christened it Blizzard of Ozz. But even though early press photos confirmed it as a group, Jet Records instead credited the album to Osbourne and used the band name for the album's title. Daisley has since argued that he co-founded the band; Osbourne and Rhodes are generally recognized as the principal songwriting engine.
More than two decades after GTR, former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett got together with another Yes legend, bassist Chris Squire, and formed Squackett. It came about when Squire was looking for a guitarist for a solo project and was put in contact with Hackett. Their one album, 'A Life Within a Day,' came out in 2012.
The talents of former Cream bassist Jack Bruce and ex-Procol Harum guitarist Robin Trower were always best-suited for a power trio, so it made sense that the two virtuosos would eventually work together. In 1981, they enlisted drummer Bill Lordan (from Sly & the Family Stone) and released 'B.L.T.' Although Lordan didn't last beyond that album, Trower and Bruce recorded 1982's 'Truce,' and returned for 2008's 'Seven Moons.'
After his time with Motley Crue came to a halt, singer John Corabi formed Union in 1997 with late-era Kiss guitarist Bruce Kulick, David Lee Roth bassist James Hunting and touring drummer Brent Fitz. They lasted for three studio albums, 'Union' (1998), 'Live in the Galaxy' (1999) and 'The Blue Room' (2000), before calling it quits in 2002.
Brides of Destruction
Initially called Cockstar, Nikki Sixx and L.A. Guns guitarist Tracii Guns formed Brides of Destruction in 2002 following Mötley Crüe's 2001 hiatus. After briefly flirting with the moniker Motordog and testing differing lineup configurations, the group released its 2004 debut 'Here Come the Brides' with singer London LeGrand, drummer Scot Coogan and guitarist John Corabi. After further lineup shakeups, the band released its second and final album, 'Runaway Brides,' in 2005.
During Motley Crue's turn-of-the-century hiatus, Nikki Sixx got together with Boxing Gandhis guitarist Dave Darling, Steve Gibb (son of Bee Gee Barry) and drummer Bucket Baker. Taking their name from the year in which Sixx and Darling were born, 58's lone album, 'Diet for a New America,' featured a mash-up of genres, including a cover of Gilbert O'Sullivan's soft-rock 1972 hit, "Alone Again (Naturally)."
Paice Ashton Lord
After the breakup of Deep Purple's Mk. IV, founding members Ian Paice and Jon Lord picked up veteran singer Tony Ashton, who had worked with Lord in the past. Released in 1977, their only album, 'Malice in Wonderland,' veered away from the progressive hard rock of Deep Purple into R&B and funk territory. They broke up a year later.
Chip Z'Nuff of Enuff Z'Nuff had played bass in Adler's Appetite, a project of former Guns N' Roses drummer Steven Adler from 2005-11. A year before Z'Nuff left, they recorded a self-titled five-song EP using both their names that they sold at gigs and online.
After being fired from Ozzy Osbourne's band, guitarist Jake E. Lee formed Badlands with two former members of Black Sabbath, singer Ray Gillen and drummer Eric Singer, and bassist Greg Chaisson. After their 1989 self-titled debut, Singer left to join Kiss, and was replaced by Jeff Martin of Racer X. Internal squabbling led to Gillen being fired around the time of 1991's 'Voodoo Highway,' although he was brought back to tour behind it. The band broke up in 1993.
Duff McKagan’s Loaded
Assembling a backing band to tour in support of his 1999 solo album 'Beautiful Disease,' Duff McKagan's Loaded became a full-time operation when the album was shelved. McKagan's Loaded released their debut, 'Dark Days,' in 2001 with Martin Feveyear, Dave Dederer (from the Presidents of the United States of America) and Geoff Reading (New American Shame). The group disbanded in 2002, but returned with 'Sick' in 2009 and 'The Taking' in 2011.
By the mid-'90s, punk rock was enjoying its third wave. And one of its premier architects, Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones, assembled a cast of like-minded industry luminaries to establish Neurotic Outsiders. Joined by Duran Duran's John Taylor, Guns N' Roses's Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum, the decorated quartet released their only album, 'Angelina,' in 1997.
After Ozzy Osbourne had reissued his first two solo albums with a different rhythm section, the men who played the original parts, bassist Bob Daisley and drummer Lee Kerslake, got together with the albums' original keyboardist, Don Airey, Deep Purple's Steve Morse and singer Jimmy Barnes to form Living Loud. For their self-titled 2004 record, they cut new versions of six Osbourne songs that Daisley wrote and five originals.
Saints of the Underground
Comprised of well-established glam-metal veterans, Saints of the Underground formed the way most first-time acts do: by light-heartedly jamming cover songs with peers. Featuring Jani Lane (Warrant), Bobby Blotzer (Ratt), Keri Kelly (Alice Cooper) and Chuck Wright (Quiet Riot), Saints of the Underground released their sole album 'Love the Sin, Hate the Sinner' in 2008.
In 1990, L.A. Guns manager Allen Kovac set out to construct a band consisting of glam-metal scene VIPs. Recruiting the likes of Michael Schenker (Michael Schenker Group), Richard Black (Shark Island), Tracii Guns (L.A. Guns), Share Pedersen (Vixen) and Bobby Blotzer (Ratt), the group released a self-titled album in 1991. The band was short-lived, however, dissolving two years later.
In 1981, a pair of Detroit proto-punks, Ron Asheton of the Stooges and Dennis "Machine Gun" Thompson of MC5, joined up with three members of Australia's Radio Birdman -- Deniz Tek, Rob Younger and Warwick Gilbert -- to create New Race for an Australian tour. 'The First and Last' was a live album compiled from those dates, although Younger re-recorded his vocals in the studio.
In 1987, John Sykes picked up a record deal after getting fired from Whitesnake on the eve of the band's breakthrough. But rather than go solo, he hooked up with Firm bassist Tony Franklin and veteran drummer Carmen Appice and launched Blue Murder. But after their 1989 self-titled debut, he replaced them with Marco Mendoza and Tommy O'Steen for 1993's 'Nothin' but Trouble.' A live album released only in Japan followed the next year, and Sykes then opted to go solo.
Birthed by Tim Bogart and Carmine Appice, the former Vanilla Fudge members enlisted the talents of Jim McCarty (Mitch Ryder's Detroit Wheels) and Rusty Day (the Amboy Dukes) to form Cactus in 1969. The band managed four albums before dissolving in 1975. They resurfaced for 'Cactus V' in 2006.
When the Electric Flag dissolved for the second time in 1974, blues-rock guitar legend Mike Bloomfield and Electric Flag co-founder, keyboardist Barry Goldberg, enlisted songwriter Raymond Kennedy. The trio used the first letter of their last names for their project, and they released 'KGB' in early 1976. The rhythm section was comprised of two men who had histories with supergroups: bassist Ric Grech (Blind Faith) and Carmine Appice (Beck, Bogert & Appice).
During some time away from Thin Lizzy in 1978, Phil Lynott formed a loose supergroup with Steve Jones and Paul Cook, who were without a band following the breakup of the Sex Pistols. Called the Greedies (short for "Greedy Bastards"), they played a handful of gigs, and sometimes Lynott's bandmates Gary Moore and Scott Gorham joined them. Their lone release was a 1979 Christmas single, "A Merry Jingle," a medley of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" and "Jingle Bells." It was featured on 'The Kenny Everett Video Show' Christmas screening.
After leaving the folk-inspired progressive group Renaissance in 1970, former Yardbirds singer Keith Relf then took to producing other artists, including Steamhammer. It was out of this venture that came his next musical project. Recruiting Steamhammer's Martin Pugh and Louis Cennamo on guitar and bass, respectively, the newly formed Armageddon would additionally include Bobby Caldwell, a drummer from Johnny Winter's backing band. Aided by Cennamo's friend Peter Frampton, the group struck a recording and management contract, releasing their only album, the eponymous 'Armageddon,' in 1975.
Orion the Hunter
As a result of internal band disputes, guitarist Barry Goudreau left Boston in 1981. In establishing Orion the Hunter, Goudreau sought the assistance of former Heart drummer Michael DeRosier and Fran Cosmo, who had performed on Goudreau's 1980 solo album. They released their sole self-titled studio album, which featured backing vocals by Boston's Brad Delp, in 1984.
Every aspiring guitar hero has to start somewhere. But Joe Bonamassa outdid most when he, while still in his preteen years, had refined his blues licks to the point where he was opening for B.B. King at the age of 12. Before Bonamassa was legal, he formed Bloodline, featuring musicians associated with Miles Davis, Robby Krieger and Berry Oakley. The group scored a minor hit with "Stone Cold Hearted" in 1994.
A supergroup in the truest manifestation, members of Mother's Army covered the spectrum of rock acts. Featuring Joe Lynn Turner (Deep Purple, Rainbow), Carmine Appice (Cactus, Ozzy Osbourne), Bob Daisley (Black Sabbath, Rainbow), Jeff Watson (Night Ranger) and Aynsley Dunbar (Journey, Frank Zappa), the short-lived Mother's Army released three studio albums between 1993 and 1998.
When several members of Kansas became born-again Christians, Steve Walsh left to form Streets with guitarist Mike Slamer, bassist Billy Greer and drummer Tim Gehrt. '1st' arrived in 1983 and 'Crimes in Mind' followed two years later. The band broke up and Walsh returned to Kansas, where he remained until retiring in 2014.
Former Rainbow singer Graham Bonnet formed Alcatrazz in 1983 with former Iron Maiden drummer Clive Burr and rising guitar wizard Yngwie Malmsteen. But Burr left after a week and was replaced by Iron Butterfly's Jan Uvena. Their debut, 'No Parole From Rock 'n' Roll,' peaked at No. 128 on the 'Billboard' album chart. Malmsteen left for a solo career a year later and was replaced by another up-and-coming guitarist, Steve Vai. The group disbanded , but were revived from 2006-14.
Bad Moon Rising
Lion was most known in the U.S. for contributions to 'Transformers: The Movie' and 'Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter.' But when the group disbanded and Lion alums Kal Swan and Doug Aldrich forged Bad Moon Rising in 1990, they'd find soundtrack-free superstardom in Japan. They'd enjoy a fruitful eight-year run before disbanding in 1998.
After King Crimson's 1974 breakup, the rhythm section of John Wetton (bass) and Bill Bruford (drums) decided to keep working together. They brought in guitarist Allan Holdsworth (Soft Machine, Gong) and keyboardist/violinist Eddie Jobson (Roxy Music) for U.K. An album followed in 1978, but Bruford and Holdsworth left after their tour. Deciding to go without a guitarist, they brought in drummer Terry Bozzio for 1979's 'Danger Money' and a live album, 'Night After Night.' Wetton formed Asia shortly afterward, but the trio reunited in 2012.
Three years after Canadian rockers Sheriff split up, their song "When I'm With You" became a hit in the U.S. Unable to get the band back together, singer Freddy Curci and guitarist Steve DeMarchi turned to three founders of Heart -- Roger Fisher, Steve Fossen and Mike DeRosier -- and created Alias. Their 1990 album resulted in two major hits, "More Than Words Can Say" and "Waiting for Love," and a minor one in "Haunted Heart." However, the Heart contingency soon left, and the two Sheriffs re-formed the group in 2009 with other members.
As Iron Maiden grew in popularity in the mid-'80s, two former members, singer Paul Di'Anno and drummer Clive Burr, teamed up with guitarists Janick Gers (White Spirit) and Pete Wells (Def Leppard) and bassist Pete Murray (Whitesnake). They released a three-song EP, 'I Will Be There,' in 1985 and then broke up.
In 2000, Les Claypool of Primus and Trey Anastasio of Phish were asked to put a project together for the New Orleans Jazz Fest. The got Stewart Copeland of the Police to drum, and they called themselves Oysterhead. It worked out so well that they kept it going, releasing 'The Grand Pecking Order' in 2001 and mounting a North American tour. They reunited in 2006 for a few festival dates, and have wanted to get back together, but their schedules have not synched up.
Street Sweeper Social Club
When Zack de la Rocha exited Rage Against the Machine in 2000, the remaining members soon found themselves fronted by late Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell, performing as Audioslave. Tom Morello, however, still desired a more political outlet. For this he paired with the Coup emcee Boots Riley to form Street Sweeper Social Club in 2006. The duo released a self-titled studio album in 2009 and a follow-up EP in 2010.
In 2009, former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha assembled a group of power-pop stalwarts under the banner of Tinted Windows. Accompanied by Tyler Hanson (from the brothers group Hanson), Cheap Trick drummer Bun E. Carlos and Fountains of Wayne bassist Adam Schlesinger, the group released a sole self-titled studio album in 2009. While no breakup was ever officially announced, the group has remained inactive since.
When three-fourths of Jane's Addiction formed the Panic Channel, Perry Farrell went off with Extreme guitarist Nuno Bettencourt and established Satellite Party, with 2007's 'Ultra Payloaded' featuring guest contributions from members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, New Order and the Black Eyed Peas. But Bettencourt and drummer Kevin Figg took exception to the increased role given to Farrell's wife, Etty Lau Farrell, and quit before the North American leg of their tour.
By the end of 1984, Duran Duran were a worldwide phenomenon - but one in need of some time apart from each other. So in 1985, they splintered into two side projects. Power Station, John and Andy Taylor’s team-up with singer Robert Palmer, grabbed the majority of the headlines. Meanwhile, Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes and Roger Taylor formed Arcadia, a synth-pop outfit that achieved a Top 10 hit on both sides of the Atlantic with “Election Day" before dissolving the following year.
More of a collective than a supergroup, extra-populated one-off project the Wondergirls was formed by Stone Temple Pilots' Scott Weiland in 1999. The Wondergirls released only two songs, "Let's Go All the Way" and "Drop That Baby," with contributions shared among an army of alternative-rock peers, featuring members of Sugar Ray, Orgy, the Cult, Queens of the Stone Age, 30 Seconds to Mars and more. A new version of "Let's Go All the Way" surfaced in 2013 for the 'Iron Man' soundtrack.
During his second stint with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, John Frusciante went off with Fugazi's Joe Lally (on bass) and drummer Josh Klinghoffer and created Ataxia. The experimental rock band put out two records: 'Automatic Writing' in 2004 and 'AW II,' a collection of tracks left over from the initial sessions, three years later. Klinghoffer would later replace Frusciante as the Chili Peppers' guitarist.
Both R.E.M. and U2 had been strong supporters of Bill Clinton during his 1992 presidential campaign. For his inauguration, two members from R.E.M. -- Michael Stipe and Mike Mills -- joined up with two from U2 -- Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. -- and performed "One" at MTV's inaugural ball. They called themselves Automatic Baby, after both bands' recent hit albums, U2's 'Achtung Baby' and R.E.M.'s 'Automatic for the People.'
The Backbeat Band
Ian Softley's 1994 film 'Backbeat' focused on the time the Beatles spent woodshedding in Hamburg. To underscore their lack of polish in 1960, Softley recruited a sextet of alternative rockers -- Greg Dulli (Afghan Whigs), Dave Pirner (Soul Asylum), Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth), Don Fleming (Gumball), Mike Mills (R.E.M.) and Dave Grohl (Nirvana) to play revved-up versions of covers that were part of the Beatles' set lists in those days.
After touring together in 2012, Aimee Mann and Ted Leo decided to start collaborating with the hopes of putting out an EP, which resulted in enough material for a full-length. They called themselves the Both, after the hashtag they created to promote their gigs. 'The Both' was a rare moment when two established acts came together and created something greater than the sum of its parts.
Between Dave Navarro's tenure in Jane's Addiction and the Red Hot Chili Peppers lies a short-lived project called Deconstruction that's been lost to the dustbin of alt-rock history. Navarro, with drummer Michael Murphy and Jane's Addiction bassist Eric Avery, used Deconstruction as vehicle for more sensitive and experimental material. The trio released a self-titled album in 1994, but while the commercial impact of the record was nil, 'Deconstruction' has regained a modest cult following.
In 2002, former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic got together with longtime friend Curt Kirkwood of the Meat Puppets and Sublime's Bud Gaugh to create Eyes Adrift. The group released only one self-titled album and one single, “Alaska,” which failed to chart.
Fear and the Nervous System
In 2008, Korn guitarist James "Munky" Shaffer began corralling his friends, including members of Faith No More, Avenged Sevenfold and Repeater, into the studio to jam. Four years later, the tracks saw the light of day in the form of Fear and the Nervous System's self-titled debut. Wes Borland of Limp Bizkit was also involved early on, but his contribution in the end was limited to the album's artwork.
In 1982, the Cure's Robert Smith spent a bit of time playing guitar with Siouxsie and the Banshees. The next year he and Banshees' bassist-keyboardist Steven Severin went off and formed the Glove, with Jeanette Landray handling vocal chores. They released one album, 'Blue Sunshine,' which included drums by Andy Anderson, who would soon become a member of the Cure.
Hindu Love Gods
Hindu Love Gods were what R.E.M. and their friend Bryan Cook called themselves when they wanted to semi-anonymously play covers in the bars in their hometown of Athens, Ga., On one occasion in 1984, Warren Zevon sat in with them. When Zevon hired R.E.M to be his backing band for 1987's 'Sentimental Hygeine,' they devoted a late-night session to recording a bunch of folk and blues standards ... and Prince's "Raspberry Beret." They released the session under the Hindu Love Gods name in 1990.
The I Don't Cares
Friends for years, Paul Westerberg and Juliana Hatfield branded themselves as the I Don't Cares and released 'Wild Stab' in 2016. The record included a new version of "Born for Me," a track that was first found on Westerberg's 1999 release 'Suicane Gratifaction.'
After leaving the Arctic Monkeys in 2006, Andy Nicholson formed Mongrel with his former drummer Matt Heiders, Drew McConnell (Babyshambles) and Jon McClure and Joe Moskow (Reverend and the Makers). 'Better Than Heavy,' their album that focused on political issues, was released in 2009.
The Panic Channel
When Jane's Addiction broke up for the third time in 2004, guitarist Dave Navarro, drummer Stephen Perkins and bassist Chris Chaney picked up former MTV VJ Steve Isaacs and established the Panic Channel. After the fatefully titled and critically dismissed 'ONe' in 2006, Powerman 5000 bassist Siggy Sjursen replaced Chaney. But the band disbanded later that year.
Following the dissolution of Smashing Pumpkins' original lineup, Billy Corgan took drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, longtime friend Matt Sweeney, David Pajo and future Pixies bassist Paz Lenchantin and formed the True Poets of Zwan, who are better known as just Zwan. They broke up due to internal conflicts a few months after the release of their only record, 2003's 'Mary Star of the Sea.'
Mick Nick Pick Mick Nick
If the idea of a supergroup named after Mick Mars (Motley Crue), Nick Rhodes (Duran Duran), Pick Withers (Dire Straits), Mick Box (Uriah Heep) and Nick Hogan (Hulk's son) sounds too weird to be real, you're right. It's a concoction of the comedy team of Tom Scharpling and Jon Wurster, and referenced on numerous occasions during their routines on their podcast 'The Best Show.'
That amazing cover of Don Maclean's American Pie was by none other than local rockers - FM.
Just received this corker of a superbly-engineered Rock cover song from a local band. I was gonna host their picture and mention what a rockin' uplifting version this was but . . . another slant - take a listen and see if you can guess who these guys are. And oh yes, they're North-East regulars; you've heard of them, seen them, and they have featured in Riffs many a time. This seven-minute rendition just blew me away - (and if I was in a Rock band [I can dream can't I?] this is the drum sound I would insist on) - and I just have to share . . .
Oh - and do I really have to say: PLAY LOUD.
I'll leave it a few days and then tell y'all who can take credit.
WELL, IF THERE'S one thing you can say for definite about Thunder’s thirteenth studio album - 'ALL THE RIGHT NOISES', it’s that the roll continues.
Having returned to the fray with 2015’s triumphant Wonder Days, Luke Morley, Danny Bowes and co. seem to be mining an endlessly generous seam of rock’n’roll gold.
Given the events of the past year or so, this is precisely the kind of thing that hits the spot – top-drawer tunes and no-nonsense, full-throttle delivery, with chief writer Morley clearly fuelled by anger and frustration, but still finding inspiration to lighten the mood with some cheery, upbeat rockers.
If you’re going to tackle serious stuff then you might as well go big straight from the off. Here it’s with the urgent and driven Last One Out Turn Off The Lights, putting the boot into Brexit, followed directly by possibly the heaviest song the band have ever written, Destruction, about mental illness and depression, and then we have The Smoking Gun, a low-key acoustic number smouldering with righteous fury.
It’s quite a triple whammy to kick off the album with, and the dark mood is echoed on Force Of Nature, focusing on Donald Trump and what must have gone through his mind as he rose to power, the brooding Don’t Forget To Live Before You Die (carpe diem, baby), and St George’s Day, which, dissects immigration and intolerance.
Fortunately the heavy stuff is expertly balanced by some wonderfully carefree feel-good rockers. Going To Sin City, where ‘bad girls and pretty boys strut their stuff’, is a gloriously low-slung stomper. She’s A Millionairess is a bright and breezy piss-taking rocker (‘She can’t be too blond and she can’t be too thin’). Young Man is propelled by an infectiously bouncy riff.
The strutting, cheeky You’re Gonna Be My Girl is decorated with honky-tonk piano and has a middle section surely designed for crowd participation for when such things can happen again. And sitting in the middle of it all is I’ll Be The One, one of the finest ballads the band have ever written, featuring a rather ace Morley guitar solo.
Honest, consistent and uncompromising, All The Right Noises is quite the classy tour de force of songwriting prowess and pacy execution, with Thunder sounding enraged, engaged and thoroughly energised throughout. Which is just what we need right now.
Having been one of the UK's most popular rock acts in the early '90s, Thunder found that record labels were no longer willing or able to promote their releases properly. Now they have taken matters into their own hands, using the Internet and new methods of distribution to get their records back in the charts.
Speak to any artist, producer or manager who has been around for some time and they will tell you that the global record industry has changed enormously over the last decade or so. While CD burning and the illegal downloading of MP3s have robbed the industry of necessary record sale revenue, other entertainment industries such as computer games are believed to have appropriated a portion of consumer spending once destined for singles and albums.
Whatever the reasons for industry difficulties, the upshot of it all is that record labels have less money to spend developing new acts, or indeed, sustaining the acts they already have on their books. Bands that were once flavour of the month are quickly dropped when their heyday has passed, and those that still have contracts often find there is no money in the pot for promoting and advertising their releases.
It's not surprising, then, that bands with loyal and active fan bases are now questioning whether signing to a label is the right thing to do, when they get so little in return for signing over the rights to their music.
Ups And Downs
British hard rock band Thunder are a good example, having recently enjoyed a top 30 hit despite having no label or management company, and without the help of any TV or radio advertising. They reached their commercial peak in the early '90s, performing sell-out gigs at London's Hammersmith Odeon and appearing at the Monsters Of Rock Festival. Their second album even reached number two in the charts, but they found themselves out of fashion when the grunge rock movement, spearheaded by Nirvana, knocked stadium rock from its pedestal.
Thunder kept their recording contract with EMI until 1995, when they were finally dropped because of declining sales. Nevertheless, they still had many record-buying fans, and on that basis were picked up by independents Castle Communications for one album, and then by Eagle Rock. By the end of the decade, though, the band had decided cut their losses and pursue other interests.
"Signing to Castle and Eagle Rock went well at first, but we soon realised that they'd spent loads of money on signings and didn't have anything left for marketing," explains Danny Bowes, singer and now also manager of the band. "We had a decent-sized fan base and that encouraged them to pay a lot of money to sign us, but, with hindsight, maybe they paid too much — which is why they couldn't afford any promotion and marketing. We began to feel like we were going round and round in smaller circles, so I told the band that I was getting tired. It takes just as much effort to make a record that doesn't sell as it does to record a hit album."
After The Storm
The split came in 2000, but only lasted for two years before the band regrouped to take part in a series of live shows. "We didn't come back with a view to starting a label and selling records in any kind of meaningful way," explains Danny, who was quite happily working in production after leaving Thunder. "I'd been involved with a Smash Hits tour and thought that it would be really good to have the same kind of thing for rock music, although I was thinking of a Monsters Of Rock-type thing for indoor arenas really. So I came up with a few solutions to some of the logistical problems and took the idea to a guy who runs Clear Channel in the UK and became sort of a back-seat partner.
"There were a lot of classic rock bands waiting for an opportunity to go out and play, so we asked Neil Warnock of the Agency Group if he had a big-name act to headline, and he said that Alice Cooper would love to do it, so suddenly we had a show! Clear Channel then asked Thunder to take part because our 'powder was dry', metaphorically speaking, after two years away, and they knew that we always sold well live.
"We didn't want to play some shows and then split up again because the fans would think we'd just done it for the money, so, before we knew it, we were making an EP to sell via our web site and at shows. In the end we sold 5000 copies to a total audience of 50,000, which was very encouraging."
The success of the EP started Thunder thinking about the possibility of making further single and album recordings, but they had no label, management or distribution, and did not intend to release anything half-heartedly. "I'd never considered just using the Internet to sell records because I didn't fancy doing the cottage-industry-style thing of licking up labels and sticking them on CD-Rs," Danny admits. "So I had a couple of long conversations with a guy called Bruce McKenzie about selling our music through shops without label distribution. He runs a chain of record stores called Townsend Records, but he's very much the new breed of record-store owner who wants to be involved in making records as well as selling them. He agreed to help me sell them on-line if I took care of the manufacture and finance of the records.
"Thunder had a good relationship with retail, so I knew it was possible. We used to do in-store tours around the time of the release of our records. We'd do an acoustic set in the morning, signing in the afternoon and we'd literally tour the country that way. We'd take a little PA and a driver who doubled up as a technical guy. Retail loved it and we sold loads of records on the strength of it. So I knew that if we said to retail that we were doing an album ourselves, as long as we had someone who could distribute the record correctly, they'd be interested. We couldn't have done that from scratch, though — we were in a position of strength."
For Thunder to be able to manage their own affairs, each band member has had to take on a certain area of responsibility. Danny's friendship with guitarist and writer Luke Morley dates back to their school days (they formed their first band at the age of 15), so the idea of drawing up a contract denoting each Thunder member's role was never discussed. Instead, each person simply gravitated to their own area of interest. "We're very fortunate that everybody is qualified to do something that we need within the framework of our organisation," says Danny.
When he isn't singing, Danny manages the band, taking care of budgets, promotion and distribution, and sorting out contractual legalities and licensing deals, as well as other tasks that would otherwise be handled by a label. "I take care of a lot of the business, and do all the shouting and screaming and coordinating," he says. "Luke is very much the songwriter and the arbiter of taste when it comes to music. He writes the songs, occasionally with a bit of help from Harry James the drummer and Chris Childs the bass player. Luke's always been interested in that side of it.
"Ben [Matthews], one of our guitarists, is the Pro Tools man. He's a qualified studio engineer, and knows what the band needs. Last year we bought a big TDM Pro Tools rig [consisting of a dual-1.25GHz G4 Mac, an HD2 system and two 192 interfaces, each with the A-D expansion card, plus numerous plug-ins] and that's worked out very well for us. HHB designed it to fit in two cases which we can get into the back of an estate car. You can take it pretty much anywhere because all you need are a pair of plug sockets and two cables to connect the units together. The racks are also filled with Focusrite preamps so we don't need a desk, and the Mac fits in the cases too. You can operate the whole thing using pair of headphones. It cost approximately £20,000 but it saves us thousands too. We still have to record the drums and loud stuff in a controlled studio environment, but we can take the rig away and overdub and mix in our own home studio, so it's the convenience as well as the money savings that makes it a worthwhile way to work.
"We also get help from a Pro Tools expert called Rupert Coulsen who has worked with us on the last four studio albums. He's based at AIR Lyndhurst, and was trained by George Martin. He shares the programming stuff with Ben.
"Chris, our bassist, takes care of all the design, and what he isn't doing himself he's coordinating with a designer. He has a very keen eye for it although it has only emerged in the last year or so. He's done all the T-shirts for latest tour, as well as things like labels, but he has had to find his way in terms of what needs to be sent to the factory for production. A lot of it is learning as you go.
"Chris came up with the design concept for the new album. He wasn't quite up to doing the whole album package himself, so we gave the concept to another guy who we've used before, but the work was based on Chris's ideas. Chris also has a PC-based studio at home, so together with Ben, he's one of the technical guys."
When Thunder temporarily split up in 2000, Danny immediately threw himself into a series of industry production jobs which gave him valuable experience. "Even when I first started singing in the band I was interested in what happened behind the scenes. I was always interrogating the manager, accountants and lawyers. While the rest of the guys were working on the tunes or chasing girls around after the gigs, I was analysing the merchandising figures! After the split I started doing production work for MTV, staging dance and club shows, managing a band and singer, and during that time I met the finance director of the company who manage the Barfly venues around the country. They were looking for someone to sort out all their production troubles, so I became their production manager.
"I also began acting as a consultant for the label started by Dave Stewart from the Eurythmics. We started with just an empty building, so I found myself doing things like getting the networking of the computers sorted out and tour managing Jimmy Cliff, who Dave had signed. I ended up negotiating with the BBC for the worldwide TV rights for the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony, which was performed by Dave and Jimmy Cliff's band."
Calm Behind The Storm
Despite having an able team of people within the band, releasing records and managing everything that goes with that process still requires outside help, particularly when it comes to distribution, accounts, manufacturing, publicity and promotion. Thunder hire in the help they need as and when necessary rather than retaining anyone on a salary, although it's possible that the situation may change as more and more recordings are released and need to be managed. "We're bringing in a production girl to help with manufacturing, which we haven't done before," admits Danny. "Her job will be to solely oversee the production and make sure records get made on time. We now manage four records including some singles and a Bowes & Morley album Luke and I recorded together, and they're all selling constantly.
Many labels set aside a percentage of their production budget for advertising, promotion and so on, but Danny admits that he hasn't really found time to work out an exact system. "I have a gut feeling on how much I think we need to spend, which is based on how much we spent last time and how many records we sold. Each production run seems to bring in more and more money because we're reaching a bigger audience, and that makes you feel like you could reach an even bigger audience with a little more promotion, but we're very careful about how we go about it. We work on the assumption that sales pay for more records, and occasionally the band get some money out of it. Touring pays the band, so after we've paid our costs, the net income is distributed to the band members. So they all earn from touring but not from record sales at the moment."
"I do a lot of the accounting but we have a book-keeper who comes in a couple of days a week and we have a business manager who steps in every now and then. He used to manage a very big company, so he and I have the 'big picture' conversation a few times a year. We hired a radio plugger and a publicity person for the last single, but we won't use a plugger for the LP because there's no point trying to get LP tracks for this band on the radio. The publicity lady has some radio connections with all the kinds of stations we could expect to receive plays from, as well as local national and digital radio stations."
As band manager, Danny takes a cut of the band's net income too. The amount also covers his work as the Thunder 'label manager'.
Thunder: The Band As Business
Bring On The Web
It's ironic that the very technology that many record labels blame for forcing them to cut back on their support for new signings and artist development has enabled some acts to go it alone without any label involvement. On the one hand, downloading and CD copying has allowed the public to get their hands on music without paying for it; on the other it has also made it easy for artists to place downloadable taster tracks on their official web sites to draw in the punters. Thunder have done just that, but the biggest benefit they have found has come from the way the site is used to publicise gigs and new releases, and to canvas fans' opinions on a day-to-day basis.
"Our web site is absolutely vital," insists Danny. "Direct communication is what it's all about. When there are thousands of people looking at your web site every week you are in a position where you can swap information with them, inform them of events, and they can tell you what they think about it. For example, when it came to the idea for a one-off T-shirt to be sold at the Christmas show, I became very aware that we might be demanding too much from our fans. We had already asked them to buy our single which came in three formats, each with a different B-side. All of those add up in terms of money, and we'd also asked our fans to buy Deep Purple tour tickets in November, tickets for our tour in March, and again for our Christmas show.
"I was able to ask directly via the web site how they would feel about us doing a limited-edition T-shirt specifically for the show, explaining that we were concerned that they might think we were trying to fleece them. We got over 200 replies saying that they wanted the T-shirts, and they were just the people who could be bothered to reply, so we went ahead."
The web site has also made it easy for the band to notify the fans of up-and-coming concerts, and to point them directly to the place where tickets can be bought, therefore removing the need for expensive advertising. "For our Christmas show at Rock City in Nottingham, we did a deal whereby all our tickets were sold directly from their box office. We didn't go to a promoter, or advertise it anywhere apart from on our site, we just pointed people to the Rock City credit-card hotline, and sold all 1000 tickets in six days at £25 a head. Being able to send out a blanket email to 10,000 people is just incredible."
Feedback from the public has even helped Thunder tackle problems with manufacturing and distribution, as Danny explains. "Recently we had to delay a single release date by two weeks because we had so many orders that we needed a larger print run. The problem was that some singles leaked out from the distributor to Virgin stores and started selling, and this happened while we were busy on tour with Deep Purple. Our web site manager called us having received emails from people who were buying singles two weeks early, and with that information I was able to call the distributor and get them to pull the stock from the stores. Without that instant communication we wouldn't have been able to do that, and would have lost our chart placing because of it."
Passing It On
Now that Thunder are having success managing their own releases, they are in a position to help other bands get started in the industry. Ever the businessman, Danny is considering the possibilities. "We've talked about it, and we've found a couple of interesting acts, but we need a substantial pool of money to help them develop and get a name, and at this moment in time we're still building the label and the Thunder catalogue by ploughing the money we make back in, but if we had some fat we could devote it to other acts, and I'd be happy to do that.
"If you find acts you believe in you have to be able to put your money where your mouth is, but there's no point berating record labels if you are just going to do the same thing as them. We need to have the courage of our convictions, find the acts and then get to work.
"It's actually hard to find acts who believe that you can help them, because there is still this misconception that only record companies can do it, which is patently untrue. In November we charted a single at 27, and we have no record label. What we do have is UK record distribution, lots of expertise, and a group of people working to help us put a proper campaign together.
"A new band starting out might want to do it themselves but don't have that experience. The Internet makes it very easy to have a go, but unless you have some experience and/or some kind of industry contacts then it's very hard. I'm sure a lot of bands have gone into it very gung-ho and come out disheartened by the whole thing.
"I wouldn't have gone for it if I was a new act starting from scratch. Luke and I had already been waiting for a deal for nine years by the time our band Terraplane were signed to CBS in 1984, so we've built up a following and have loads of experience. The problem is that it costs a fortune to find a fan base, and you can't manufacture one out of nothing. People tend to go and see the bands they know, so you have to get in front of other people's audiences initially and hopefully take advantage of your opportunities. After a while you can book your own shows in your own right, but you have to start small and build up, and it all costs money.
"I'm about to start managing a new band, but I'd probably release something by them independently purely and simply to help gain attention from a bigger record company who can supply the money to develop a fan base."
Selling The Hard Stuff
So far, actually selling records via their site has been less of an ambition for Thunder, who are determined to continue placing records in high-street shops. "We did an excusive deal with HMV for our first single because knew we weren't going to sell enough copies to put them in every shop in the country," says Danny. "We told fans that it was available in HMV and as a result we got it to number 48 in the charts, which was very good considering the limitations, and we made money out of that record!
"We used to sell all our on-line stuff through Townsend's on-line setup, although we do now have our own shop from where we sell some merchandise exclusively. For records, though, we still have links to Townsend's site. They buy the new stock from us, and have a large on-line store which carries all the old Thunder titles, rarities, imports and so on."
Naturally, Thunder have investigated the possibility of releasing MP3s, but Danny remains unconvinced that the necessary infrastructure is ready. "We are embracing every aspect of the digital revolution, but at the moment I don't feel totally comfortable that they've got it right. We did a deal with a company in the States to make the second Bowes & Morley album available on iTunes, but I wasn't very happy with how it turned out because although we do get revenue, it is not a massive amount because there are about eight people in the chain. For us it's not so much about the money, it's more about reaching a new audience through another shop window, but the whole thing took about six months to happen which I thought was ridiculous when the Internet is all about high speed. It's work in progress, in my opinion."
Danny is also sceptical that MP3s, and future download formats, are necessarily the way music will ultimately be delivered. "Downloading is very useful for people who live in remote places, but I don't think it will take over as the main way to buy records because of the physical need we all have for retail therapy. There's something irreplaceable about the feeling you get when you've found the thing you've been looking for or happened upon something you weren't expecting. The thing about the Internet is that it is all very good if you know the answer to the question.
"When I was young I bought records just because I liked the cover, although there was a lot more to look at on 12-inch vinyl. If something caught my eye I would buy it. Dark Side Of The Moon is a classic case of something I bought just because I was intrigued by the cover. When I got it home I was blown away. It shows how artwork can motivate people to do things."
The Here And Now
Thunder are understandably pleased with themselves, having recently charted a single at number 27 and completed a successful UK arena tour with Deep Purple and Peter Frampton. At one point it must have seemed as though their 15 minutes of fame were behind them, but it just goes to show what a little determination and organisation can do. Danny: "This is a fascinating business at this point in time, because all the rules that were accepted five years ago are gone. It now appears that you can do pretty much whatever you want.
"Running your own affairs is incredibly empowering. You don't see anything when you're a band signed to a record label; you just hear what your manager tells you. A&R don't like having difficult conversations with artists. I used to ask fairly pointed questions of people in our record company and they used to get very nervous. They'd be trying to get out of giving me the answers. The manager acts as the go-between, and there are things that record companies will tell a manager that they never tell an artist. Like the singer looks like he's put on two stone, he needs to lose weight — that kind of thing. The manager has to tactfully call the singer and say 'Have you thought about going on a diet recently?'
"Having the experience to know whether something is worth acting on in the first place is fairly vital. If you've been in the business long enough you know someone who knows the answer, even if you don't yourself. It is just a case of making enough phone calls and staying on good terms with people.
"But, for me, the most important thing is that you live and die by your own actions. If, at the end of the day, it all falls down then it is our fault. By applying a business-minded approach, we feel we're going about it in the same way as a label, only we're responsible for every decision, and every mistake, as well as every success. We won't go into old age thinking it was all the fault of record companies. It shouldn't be like that. If you don't like a situation, do something about it."
51 years ago last month, Black Sabbath released their debut album and kicked off the entire genre of heavy metal. We take an in-depth look at its creation, reception and legacy.
It was a clarion call that echoed from the void, a raucous cry of unity for rockers that couldn’t relate to the peace and love vibes of the Woodstock era. The sound had less to do with the escapist tone of most popular music and more to do with the desperation and frustration of living in the detritus of post-World War II Europe.
The eponymous album by Black Sabbath, which was released in Europe on February 13, 1970, and in North America on June 1 of the same year, was like nothing hard rock fans had ever heard. There were elements of Led Zeppelin and Cream in there, sure, but the music was grimmer and far less euphoric.
Instead of flaunting exuberant energy, Sabbath focused on the bleak and barren, confronting listeners with buzzing, overdriven guitars, meandering bass, lumbering beats and nasal, almost sepulchral vocals that sliced through the organized cacophony like a scalpel through a corpse. It was loud, it was weird and, for many, it was almost an overwhelming sensory overload.
Black Sabbath started with atmospheric sound effects and then guitarist Tony Iommi launched into one of metal’s most influential licks, the devil’s tritone – a dissonant, unsettling configuration allegedly once banned by the church and shunned by composers. Rarely was the tritone heard in popular music; it was most often heard along with the haunting noises in horror film soundtracks. Yet Black Sabbath relished the uneasy feeling the repeated three-note passage engendered.
Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian first heard the track when he was a kid listening to his uncle’s stereo and the experience left an indelible imprint on his brain. “I just sat there scared,” he says. “From the start, I was listening to the rain and the wind and the bell and then that riff started and just blew my mind.”
Disturbed frontman David Draiman had a similar experience years later when, during a game of "Dungeons & Dragons" his friend put Black Sabbath on the turntable. “They just brought a vibe and a feel that no other band on the planet ever tried to do,” he says. “Before them, no one played those notes and no one played these doomy riffs with that sludgy, heavy sound.”
Other heavy artists — including Blue Cheer, The Stooges and Jimi Hendrix — had dipped their toes into the gut-twisting morass of chords and notes that was to become heavy metal, but Sabbath were the first to capture the sound, vibe and attitude that defined the genre.
Over the next five years they recorded five of the most influential and essential metal albums ever, but Black Sabbath was truly groundbreaking — a structurally complete blueprint for doom. Even the cover art foreshowed the originality within. The strange, unsettling image of a plain-looking woman (a witch, perhaps?) standing in the woods in front of a farmhouse contained no occult symbols or violent imagery, yet it was as disturbing as the original cover of The Beatles’ Yesterday and Today. The shot was taken at the Mapledurham Watermill in Oxfordshire, and it remains one of metal’s iconic images.
For such a seminal album, Black Sabbath was practically an afterthought for Fontana Records, which booked the band a single day in the studio, October 16, 1969, to record with beginner producer Rodger Bain and engineer Tom Allom at Regent Sound Studios in London.
After the album was tracked the label washed their hands of it, shuffling Sabbath’s debut to Vertigo Records. Just being in the studio was an exciting opportunity for Sabbath, which started as a 12-bar blues band called Earth before changing their name, and the musicians were eager to prove themselves.
As Earth, they had tested crowds with the songs “Black Sabbath” and “Wicked World” and the reactions were promising. “That was the first time that people started looking up and going, ‘Wow, what’s this?’ says Iommi. “They’d come up afterwards and say, ‘What were those songs? We really liked those.’”
As soon as Earth decided to stray from their blues roots, they expanded upon their new sound with a batch of dense, equally textural tracks, including “N.I.B.” and “Behind the Wall of Sleep” and rehearsed them until they could play them from start to finish, time and again. They were tight, they were heavy and they were ready to transform rock 'n' roll in a day.
“We went in the studio and we were off from the word go,” Iommi recalls. “It’s hard to even remember the session. One second we were playing these songs and then the next thing we knew we were out of there. Some people think the album was recorded in a haze of drugs, but we hadn’t discovered that yet and we didn’t have time to get stoned. We had one day to prove ourselves, and that’s what we did.”
“We literally went in and played as if it was a live gig,” adds Butler. “We didn’t know anything about studios or production or engineering. We just went in, set up and played and they recorded us. It sounds easy, but it’s actually a really hard thing to do – to record a band live in the studio and get the whole feeling across. A lot of producers tried that but dismally failed. But Roger and Tom just had the knack of doing it.”
Aside from the cult Chicago band Coven, which wrote Satanic lyrics and included a recording of a black mass on their 1969 album Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls, Sabbath were the first group to write songs that mentioned Lucifer and Satan and featured occult themes. To a large extent Sabbath knew they were playing with fire and enjoyed being provocative. They wrote from a knowledgeable perspective since they had dabbled in occult rituals and readings.
“We were into it,” Iommi says. “Certainly [bassist] Geezer [Butler] and myself were. It was certainly an interest. There was this thing called ‘the occult’ and we wanted to soak in as much as we could about it and find out what it was about. I suppose we got wrapped up a bit too much sometimes.”
Black Sabbath didn’t exclusively write about darkness and evil and they stopped short of endorsing the occult. “Black Sabbath,” which is often referenced for its blatantly Satanic lyrics, was actually written by Ozzy Osbourne and was based on a paranormal experience Butler had one night.
“In the middle of the night I felt this presence,” Butler recounted. “I woke up and there was this black shape looming over the bottom of the bed. It frightened the pissing life out of me. I told Ozzy and that inspired him to write the lyrics to the song as a warning to people that were getting heavily involved in black magic.”
Considering the band’s name, it’s not hard to grasp how Satanists misunderstood the meaning of some of Sabbath’s lyrics and assumed the musicians shared their blasphemous views. Despite their interest in black magic, Sabbath were hardly devil worshippers.
In response to vocal and vehement adoration from witches and Satanists, Sabbath mocked them in interviews and started wearing large crosses around their necks at the suggestion of the head white witch in England. Sabbath’s response pissed off disciples of Satan. At the same time, the band’ s dark imagery incensed parents and religious figures, neither of whom stopped to consider that Sabbath’s lyrics didn’t endorse Satanism.
“There was one incident where we were due to play in a town and we got banned by the church,” Iommi says. “The show was announced in all the papers for two weeks before we got there. The church managed to ban us. And then the bloody church burned down and we got the blame. They were trying to say that we had caused it, which was just weird.”
It’s no surprise that most of the mainstream press didn’t cater to Sabbath’s charms, labeling them primitive and untalented. “They thought our music was for yobs and doubters,” Iommi says. “They didn’t see it as music at all.”
That didn’t stop hard rock fans from reacting to the band’s trailblazing music. Not long after its Friday the 13th release, Black Sabbath was No. 8 in the U.K. album charts. And when the record came out in North America three-and-a-half months later, it climbed to No. 23 on Billboard and remained on the chart for a year, chalking up more than a million album sales.
“We built up our reputation through word of mouth,” Iommi says. “Every time we’d play in clubs [in Europe], we’d see more and more people coming to the show. Little pockets would build up and then eventually they became big pockets. Then, when the album got in the charts in the U.S., we could say, ‘Look what we’ve done,’ and more people started to check us out and if they liked it they brought in their friends. It became this ever-evolving thing.”
The U.K. release of Black Sabbath featured two cover tunes, Crow’s “Evil Woman” (which was previously released as a single that also contained “Wicked World”) and Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation’s “Warning.” The U.S. release removed “Evil Woman” and blended “Behind the Wall of Sleep” into a single track that also included “N.I.B.” and the U.S.-only cuts “Wasp” and “Basically.” The original U.S. version also merged “Warning” into a medley that also featured “A Bit of Finger” (U.S.-only) and “Sleeping Village.”
Through the decades, Black Sabbath has been repackaged and re-released numerous times with previously unreleased songs, outtakes and alternate and instrumental versions. Most recently, the album was remastered and issued in 2016 as a two-CD deluxe edition. The recurring reissues are hardly surprising and, maybe, less of a cash grab than an effort to keep the album vital. There wasn’t a band around in 1970 that was as heavy as Black Sabbath; the influence of their debut is incalculable.
50 years after its release, Black Sabbath remains a must-have for any metal collection.
“They wrote the playbook for heavy metal,” Scott Ian says. “That's where every riff ever written comes from. Tony Iommi is the guy responsible for all of this.”
These days, Butler is far too much of a polite English gentleman to brag about Black Sabbath being the most important metal record of all time, but he concedes that he considers it the band’s greatest achievement.
“The odds were completely against us when we did the album,” he says. “Nobody wanted to give us a chance. Nobody wanted to manage us. Our families didn’t believe in us. But we persisted. And we made this album that we liked and, apparently, loads of other people liked. For us, it was the beginning of an incredible ride.”
The Story Behind The Song: Metallica’s Enter Sandman
By Rich Hobson (Metal Hammer)
How a grunge band inadvertently inspired the song that would turn Metallica into the world’s biggest metal band.
By the end of the 1980s Metallica’s place as thrash metal’s biggest band was unassailable. They entered the 90s with their sights set on an even greater prize: becoming the world’s biggest rock band, period. The only problem was that there was no way they were going to do it with another record like 1988’s prog metal-tinged epic …And Justice For All.
“When we were done with …And Justice For All there was no place to go,” drummer Lars Ulrich told Uncut in 2020. “We’d hit the wall. After playing all those songs on the road for a couple of years we said, ‘There’s got to be a reset here.’”
It wasn’t just Metallica who felt that way. By the start of the new decade the entire music industry was looking to hit the reset button. Glam metal, which had ruled MTV for the last few years, was fast approaching its sell-by-date, and while thrash may have crossed over into arenas with the landmark Clash Of The Titans tour, it too felt long in the tooth.
Yet something was stirring in Seattle. Bands such as Soundgarden, Mudhoney and a pre-superstardom Nirvana were mashing together punk and metal into an abrasive new sound dubbed “grunge” by the press – and it would provide unexpected inspiration for Metallica.
"It was about two or three o'clock in the morning. I had just been listening to Louder Than Love, the Soundgarden album," recalled guitarist Kirk Hammett in 2017. “I heard that album, I was inspired; I picked up my guitar and out came that riff."
Hammett’s early morning riff would become the basis of Enter Sandman, itself the first song the band wrote for what would become their self-titled fifth album (aka the Black Album). Metallica wanted their next record to be a 180-degree shift away from …And Justice For All’s complex time signatures and epic running times, and Enter Sandman encapsulated this back-to-basics approach.
Stripping their sound right down wasn’t the only thing that that had changed. Metallica had enjoyed a fruitful relationship with Danish producer Flemming Rasmussen since Ride The Lightning, but they figured they needed fresh input to help them execute their great leap forwards.
Enter Bob Rock, who had worked with Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, The Cult and Mötley Crüe. Recruiting such a commercial producer was a clear signal of Metallica’s intent.
“Some people thought Bob would make us sound too commercial,” said James Hetfield. “You know: ʻOh, Bob works with Bon Jovi, Bob works with Mötley Crüe.ʼ But if Flemming Rasmussen worked on a Bon Jovi record, would Bon Jovi all of a sudden sound like Metallica?”
Not that Metallica were entirely comfortable with Rock at first - nor vice versa. But having worked with some of rock‘s biggest egos, the producer certainly wasn’t unafraid to trample over the band’s feelings.
“I really didn’t give a shit, to be honest,” Rock recalled to Uncut in 2014. “When they started doing things the way they had always done, I just gave [songs] back to them. They were quite taken aback. When they’d do stupid things I’d call them on it. Lars would show up really late and I’d say, ‘What a fucking asshole you are…’ I don’t think people did that to them before.”
Yet Rock’s impact on Metallica was immediate. Where the band had previously recorded their parts separately, he insisted they play together in the studio.
It was Rock, along with Lars Ulrich, who pressured James Hetfield into rewriting the song’s lyrics. The frontman’s original subject matter revolved around Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or cot death – the line "Off to never never land" was originally "Disrupt the perfect family”. But the drummer and producer both thought the subject matter was too heavy, and told Hetfield so.
“That pissed me off so much!” the singer told Guitar World in 2018. “I was like, 'Fuck you! I'm the writer here!' But that was the first challenge from someone else and it made me work harder."
Hetfield swallowed his annoyance and rewrote the lyrics, reframing it as a kind of twisted lullaby that drew on a child’s fears, real and imagined. The Sandman of the title was a reference to a mythical figure who would sneak into children’s bedrooms to sprinkle sand in their eyes (ironically, the band had been sitting on the title Enter Sandman for “six years”, according to Lars Ulrich).
Not everything Bob Rock suggested made it past Hetfield and Ulrich. The producer wasn’t convinced that the completed Enter Sandman was an obvious hit, preferring the thrashier Holier Than Thou as the album’s first single. This time the drummer intervened, holding firm in his belief that the track was the perfect way to launch what he knew would be Metallica’s most important album.
Released on July 29, 1991, Enter Sandman reached No.16 in the US and No.5 in the UK. But this was more than Metallica’s biggest single so far - as Lars intuited, it was the perfect jumping off point for the next stage of their career, teeing up the Black Album just under two months later.
Enter Sandman and the Black Album proved to be game-changers, turning Metallica from one of metal’s biggest bands into a genuine mainstream phenomenon (they also hastened the demise of the thrash scene - which of their former peers could hope to match it, artistically or commercially?).
Thirty years on, Enter Sandman marks the biggest turning point in Metallica’s career, and a song that’s embedded deep within not just metal’s DNA but the DNA of popular culture as a whole – how many other songs have been covered by crooner Pat Boone, Motörhead and King Crimson mastermind Robert Fripp and his wife Toyah?
“It really did sweep across the board,” said Lars Ulrich in 2020. “What's interesting for me is I burn out on a lot of the stuff we do, but it has such staying power. A short, simple rock song.”
There's four stages to life: Child, Failure, Old, Death.
German band turns van into club
so fans can rock out one at a time
German two-piece rock band Milliarden have turned a van into a club where they stage gigs for one fan at a time as a way of reaching music-lovers during the pandemic.
Separated by a plastic sheet, Milliarden (www.milliardenmusik.de) which translates as Billions, treat fans to acoustic versions of their songs, recreating a club atmosphere with lighting effects, posters and plastic roses.
Large cultural events, including concerts, have become virtually impossible in Germany due to the pandemic.
“The fact that we have the club with us, that we are the club owners, so to speak, is something we use to get to the people who are not so close to this, to this cultural landscape, who are not in the big cities,” band member Ben Hartmann said.
“We actually went to the villages and stopped in front of people’s houses and played for them. A crisis like this one brings so many opportunities that you only recognise once you do stuff. You just have to do it.”
Milliarden this month released their third studio album “Schuldig” (“Guilty”). Fans can win tickets for the exclusive shows via social media.
“I think it’s so nice that it works like this and that people respect it and accept it like that and get so emotionally connected to us here on this van. I think that is a gift,” said Johannes Aue, in charge of keyboards and clapping.
“And that’s why it is awesome that we were able to pull it off without thinking how we could earn money with it. Because we are in an immense debt with our fans.”
“I’m just happy. Just happy. It was so nice ... It was so great, it was really great,” said fan Nadine Spichal, exiting the van parked outside a Berlin nightclub. 25/02/2021
Riffs thanks Reuters for permission to re-create this article.
Y'know that speck of light at the end of that really long tunnel? - well it's just increased in brightness. Just check out our Listings page where we have some reet royal rockin' in store . . .
Anvil’s debut album Hard ’N’ Heavy is an 80s metal classic that should have turned them into superstars. Mainman Steve ‘Lips’ Kudlow looks back on a career of missed chances.
History doesn’t always get it right. While every metalhead knows that the 80s began with a flurry of classic albums from Ozzy, Priest, Maiden, Motörhead and many more, one of the most important and influential records of the decade’s first couple of years rarely gets a mention. Released in the spring of 1981, Toronto trio Anvil’s debut album, Hard ’N’ Heavy, was one of the catalysts that set metal’s wheels rolling towards the birth of thrash and beyond, influencing Metallica, Anthrax and countless more iconic bands in the process.
Today, genial frontman Steve ‘Lips’ Kudlow looks back on those early days as a time of wide-eyed enthusiasm. “When the 80s started, metal really didn’t exist, particularly in North America,” he recalls. “It was something that was mainly coming from the UK. We formed in ’78 and I guess we were kind of bringing metal to our country. We had cassette tapes that we’d run through our PA system and we’d introduce other cool bands to the audiences that we were playing for. So it was a really new thing, but to us it was just a continuation of the hard rock that we’d been listening to since we were kids. They just started to call it heavy metal and we were happy to be part of it. It was exciting, man.”
"We were always intrigued by
and loved Deep Purple"
Hindsight is a glorious thing. Looking back to the music Anvil were making in the early 80s, it’s easy to see how wildly ahead of their time they were and how, along with Motörhead, they contributed several major new weapons to metal’s creative armoury. Although Hard ’N’ Heavy was a largely straightforward hard rock record, songs such as Bedroom Game and Bondage are some of the earliest ever examples of what would become speed and thrash metal.
“Robb [Reiner, Anvil drummer] and I were always really intrigued by and loved Deep Purple a lot, and the higher- tempo stuff really attracted us and inspired us to want to be able to play like that,” Lips explains. “So in doing that, instead of single bass drum beats, Robb started using double bass drum beats and I would chug the guitar in much the same way as [Ritchie] Blackmore did on Speed King or Flight Of The Rat or any of the higher-tempo Deep Purple songs. And I guess that became speed metal, but we didn’t know that’s what we were doing! That’s just what it became.”
Recorded at Quest Studios in Oshawa, Canada, Anvil’s debut album was entirely self-financed, not least because the North American music industry was yet to pick up on this new and exhilarating breed of none-more-heavy rock. As Lips notes, the songs on Hard ’N’ Heavy were written very early on in Anvil’s development as musicians and songwriters, and it wouldn’t be until 1982’s Metal On Metal that the band’s more brutal ideas started to gain traction.
“Realistically, the material that was written for that first record was written two to three years before it was recorded. So it’s really previous to metal even being called metal, if you know what I mean. What were we influenced by? Obviously English stuff and also American stuff. Bedroom Game was directly influenced by Rainbow. Then there’s Bondage, which was directly influenced by Ted Nugent. So it’s really all that stuff that was part of the 70s. It just so happened that we didn’t release it until 1981. As soon as that came out, we started writing for the second record, which came out in 1982. Metal On Metal was much more of a heavy metal record than the first one.”
"It makes sense that the first album
was so much about sex"
Hard ’N’ Heavy was released on May 25, 1981 via Canadian rock imprint Attic Records. Lips notes that securing a record deal hadn’t been too much of a problem, but that at least one prospective benefactor at Capitol Records had flinched when confronted with the sexually charged (but slightly juvenile) lyrics to songs like School Love, I Want You Both (With Me) and, in particular, Bondage (opening line: ‘Tie me down you mean old bag!’). Lips cackles at the memory.
“Anybody between the ages of 18 and 23, that’s all that’s on your mind, right?” he muses, not unreasonably. “That guy hears School Love and he says, ‘Oh my god, that’s absolutely filthy! We’re not signing that!’ Ha ha! So it makes sense that the first album was so much about sex. The second one made a slight departure from that, because I guess it became a little less important. Maybe my hormones weren’t working as strongly, I don’t know! Ha ha ha!”
If you’ve seen Sacha Gervasi’s astonishing documentary, Anvil: The Story Of Anvil (and if you haven’t, what the fuck?) then you will know that Lips’ hopes for world domination never quite came to fruition. Despite his and Robb Reiner’s resolute determination, an initial flurry of low-key success in the early 80s never led them to a major commercial breakthrough, and due to poor management decisions and a whole stack of bad luck, the 80s didn’t turn out to be golden age that Anvil unquestionably deserved. In fact, it all sounds a bit rank.
"If you slept in those beds
you were gonna get scabies and crabs"
“Getting the first album recorded was a massive highlight,” Lips states. “But I don’t look back at the 80s with great nostalgia. I’ll be honest, I’ve had better times! Some of those days were pretty rough. Some of the hotel rooms were horrible. There were holes in the walls. You had to bring sleeping bags, because if you slept in those beds you were gonna get scabies and fuckin’ crabs. If you slept with anyone you’re gonna get a dose. It was just a dirty time and a dirty environment, so yeah, we had a lot of fun but there was some pretty awful stuff going on.”
In musical terms, Anvil plainly made their mark in those grubby early days. Glowing tributes from the likes of Lars Ulrich and Anthrax’s Scott Ian at the start of Anvil: The Story Of Anvil tell their own story about the lasting impact and power of Lips’ prescient contribution to metal history, even if the band themselves are underdogs to the last and proud of it.
"I knew what we had was special,
even back on Hard N Heavy"
“When you’re ahead of your time, it’s a real problem,” he shrugs. “You can have something extremely unique and cutting edge and you send that to a record label, and they won’t sign it because they don’t understand it. But I knew what we had was special, even back on Hard ’N’ Heavy. I was never going to give up and now I’ve been doing it for 40 years nonstop. And we are still playing School Love!”
Even as Lips bemoans the struggles that his band had to endure during their pioneering early days, he still sounds very much in love with the whole notion of playing in a heavy metal band. He’s also happy to admit that it was Sacha Gervasi’s support and the impact of his documentary that finally, after 30 years of trying, enabled Anvil to become the secure recording and touring unit that they always wanted to be.
“We fell between the cracks and that’s what caused the fall into obscurity,” he notes, cheerfully. “But it never put an end to what I wanted to do. I just waited until it came around again. In the end, a kid that we met back at The Marquee in London grew up to be Steven Spielberg’s screenwriter, and what does he do? He makes a movie about Anvil and that’s it, bingo! Had I given up in ’83, there would’ve been no history for that movie to base itself on. So you can’t wish anything different.”
"We don't want to play Glastonbury,
we want to be up close and personal"
Despite the 40th anniversary of their debut’s release in 2021, Lips and his band have absolutely no intention of wallowing in nostalgia. Their 2020 album Legal At Last upheld their mighty legacy. True to form, it failed to set the world on fire. But then Lips long ago gave up on that dream.
"We don’t want to be playing at Glastonbury, 100 feet from the nearest hand,” he says. “I want to be right there, up close and personal. I want everyone to say that they were really in the same room, at the same place and time as Anvil. That’s the magic. I want to be the biggest club band that ever existed and then I can walk away saying that I’ve really done what I wanted to do. It’s been a long haul, but it’s better than having a day job, trust me!”
[all pics taken by Riffs' Nige at Newcastle Riverside: April 14, 2016]
Bon Scott R.I.P. 1946 - 1980---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Drugs, drink and disorder:
UFO look back at the making of Strangers In The Night
Strangers In The Night captured a great rock band at their peak, and is one of the all-time great live albums. But by the time it was released they were no longer the band who’d made it.
It seems incredible now that a live album could be a band’s defining statement – as much a relic of the 1970s as the Raleigh Chopper and only TV three channels. But so it was.
For bands who never quite achieved great consistency on studio records, or who were never quite as comfortable in the studio as on stage, the live album was the perfect vehicle: part greatest hits, part introduction for newcomers, part proof that the band really could be as good as their supporters might claim. And it worked.
Just ask Thin Lizzy for one. Or ask UFO, for whom Strangers In The Night was just as important as Live And Dangerous was for Lizzy.
“We were always more of a live band,” says UFO singer Phil Mogg. “We had a pretty cool set-list. We didn’t get to that until we reached the live album though.”
That’s important, because Strangers In The Night isn’t just a record of what UFO sounded like on stage in October ’78. It’s also a record of their transformation over five years since Michael Schenker had joined as lead guitarist – their transformation as players, as songwriters, as arrangers. It’s a record of how they became, for a while at least, a truly great rock band. The UFO that Schenker had joined were a very different group to the one he helped them become.
"We were dropping acid and going to the Roundhouse"
“Basically, they were a psychedelic rock band,” Schenker says. “Instrumentally there wasn’t much going on, it was more atmospheric. But there was a completely different chemistry [with the new line-up]. You take one piece out and put another in and you get different outcomes.”
“I think at that point we were all living in a house in Bounds Green, dropping acid and going to the Roundhouse,” Mogg told me last year. “I guess we went from there to straightening up, thinking: ‘Do you really want to do this? How serious are you?’ Basically, we got serious. Not too serious, though.”
Over the course of five albums – Phenomenon, Force It, No Heavy Petting, Lights Out and Obsession – they went from a band who were trying to find their way to one that barrelled down the road. They toured unrelentingly, generating excitement and buzz, but never quite made the leap to the top echelon.
Often, in the US, they were an opening act, but that suited their dynamism and gave them the chance to hit hard.
“We were very lucky to get some good opening slots,” drummer Andy Parker says. “We were getting exposed to larger audiences. If you do a decent job, a lot of those people will come and see you in the future, and that was working for us. I used to love that Special Guest slot, the second band on a three-band bill. You didn’t have to play for too long, the crowd was already warmed up and you could get home early. You could really hit them hard with a shorter set.”
"So paralysing was the drug that Mogg could barely move his mouth"
A shorter set and no headliner responsibilities allowed the band to indulge themselves too. Take the three shows they played with Fleetwood Mac in California in 1976. On the way to one of them, Mogg told me in 2012, they realised they were lacking in certain pick-me-ups, so they arranged to meet up with the April Wine touring party at a truck stop.
“So we got there, and this guy comes along with a briefcase chock-a-block with stuff. ‘Oh, this is great,’ we said. It was a bit like one of those movie scenes where they chop out a line that goes from here to next week. In our bravado we were: ‘Yeah!’ But by the time we reached the gig no one could talk. We were absolutely rigid. Time to go on, and we couldn’t move. We were on stage, absolutely stationary.”
So paralysing was the drug that Mogg could barely move his mouth to get the words out.
There was alcohol by the bucketload too.
“It seems comical now,” Parker says. “It was white wine for the sound-check, then beer, then on to the hard stuff in the evening. That was the good thing about the Special Guest slots, there was always booze left if you raided other people’s dressing rooms. We were doing cocaine and weed. The really heavy stuff, the really nasty stuff, didn’t come in till later. I never dabbled in that. I did quite a bit of blow, but then you end up staring at the ceiling at three in the morning when you have to be up in three hours.”
The arrival of Paul Raymond in July 1976, to play keyboards and rhythm guitar, was the thing that gave UFO the extra depth they needed.
“He completed the chemistry,” Schenker says. “He was very good at colouring in, and that made it perfect. He was an excellent songwriter, too. But he didn’t take all the credit for his writing because he had a contractual situation.”
Pete Way, the bass player who was the band’s irregular heartbeat, was writing too, and UFO became a band in which every member was making the maximum possible contribution.
"By autumn '78 the band were on the brink
“Pete was writing dirty stuff, and I would put in a melodic chorus to it, like Lights Out, that would balance it out,” Schenker explains. “The keyboards coloured it. It’s incredible how Paul Raymond did the intro to Love To Love, which started as an instrumental I wrote, then it turned into a vocal song. And the colouring in Lights Out is really good.”
By autumn ’78, although relations with Schenker were already fraught, there was a sense that the band they were on the brink of something.
“We were probably just about hitting our peak then,” Parker says. “Michael was still with the band. We were at the stage where we could do decent-sized arenas on our own. We would do three nights in Chicago, which was our biggest market.
"Before, we’d been doing them with the likes of Rush and Blue Öyster Cult, Foghat, Styx and Jethro Tull and those kinds of bands as Special Guests, but by this time we were doing them on our own.
“I always thought that while we made great studio albums, if you really wanted to know what UFO was about, go see us live. We were always a band that tried to include the audience. I’ve seen so many big bands that play at the audience – it’s all about what they want to do, rather than what the audience wants – but with this band we included the audience.”
"He [Nevison] was obnoxious, but he knew what he wanted"
“He wasn’t the easiest guy to work with, but man he was good at what he did.” Schenker says. “He was obnoxious. But he knew what he wanted and he knew what the end result had to be.”
It’s a mixture of great songs and bravura performances – the out-and-out rockers have a force and attack missing from the studio versions (Doctor Doctor, especially, makes the original sound like a demo); the longer and more emotional tracks, such as Love To Love and Rock Bottom, have an expressiveness that heavy bands at the time rarely bothered to attempt.
But even as UFO reached their zenith, things were going wrong. The exact circumstances of Schenker’s departure remain cloudy – you’ll get a different answer depending on who you ask, and possibly which day of the week you ask them.
"Schenker left just as the band were working on mixing Strangers"
Parker is certain the band knew he was going to be leaving at the end of the US tour in autumn 1978. The version that will go down in history – because it’s on Wikipedia – has him leaving shortly after the final show of the tour, in Palo Alto on October 29. But according to Schenker he didn’t leave until the band were working on the mixing of Strangers.
What isn’t disputed is that relations between him and his bandmates, especially Mogg, had been deteriorating for some time. Schenker hated touring, and drank to combat his stage fright. After the success of Lights Out, rather than celebrating a breakthrough, he told his partner Gabi that this meant years more of being trapped.
“It happens to many bands: the moment they make it big, they all collapse,” Schenker says. “And they get into a vicious cycle of being obnoxious and completely controlled by alcohol and drugs.”
He was also sick of Mogg, who he felt was violently aggressive. Indeed, even with decades of distance, mention of the singer still riles him. Five minutes after completing our interview, he calls me and embarks on a monologue that opens with:
“If you look at Iron Maiden, Steve Harris copied Pete Way, and the guitarists copied me, but the singer didn’t copy Phil Mogg. Same with Guns N’ Roses – a complete different vocal. Metallica – a complete different vocal. And Def Leppard – a complete different vocal. Strangers In The Night had an influence because of the guitar playing. It was the guitar playing that was copied by all of these bands…”
A few minutes later, he concludes: “It’s impossible for me to comprehend how people think. Why are people only seeing what they can’t get? People have a problem saying thank you. Instead of saying thank you, they say fuck you. Nobody is copying Phil Mogg, by the way. Goodbye.”
Then there were disagreements during the compiling of the album, at the Record Plant studio in New York, one being Schenker demanding they go for a different take of Rock Bottom from the one Nevison had chosen. By the time Strangers was released, on January 2 1979, Schenker was no longer in the band.
“He did an awful lot of walking, didn’t he?” Mogg says. “He used up the shoe leather. Dear oh dear. He’s always walking away from something.
"I can’t remember when he actually went. I remember him doing the album with as much enthusiasm as everybody else was putting into it. I remember that he wanted to keep replacing stuff, and in the end Ron said: ‘I ain’t fucking replacing shit. This is a live album.’ And Michael went: ‘Poor, poor Rock Bottom’, and walked out. We didn’t see him for a while."
Money problems were arising, too. In 1980 UFO headlined the Reading Festival for a fee of £86,000, of which the band members saw £1,000 each, apart from new boy Neil Carter who got half that.
After UFO spluttered out in 1983, Mogg was so poor he had to go to live with a friend and sign on for unemployment benefit.
Strangers, though, was when things were special for UFO. It’s one of those rare live albums in which the interaction between all the band members is perfect – not just Schenker’s spotlit lead playing, but also Mogg’s command of the audience (interestingly, Schenker notes the “monotony” of Mogg’s voice, then observes that it combined perfectly with his own melodic sense to produce something greater than they could have been separately).
Parker’s drumming is combustible. Remember too the contributions of the two members who have passed away: Way and Raymond were just as integral to the sound of Strangers In The Night as Mogg and Schenker were. The just-released expanded version of the album stands as a tribute to the pair of them.
Nowadays even Schenker, who was merciless about its inadequacies after its release, has made his peace. “Today Strangers In The Night sounds good to me, because I’m not in it. I have distance and I hear it differently. I am affected by it differently because it became popular. And everybody likes it and you automatically become part of that wave. Everything influences your later opinion.”
Parker’s reaction is less complex: “We were at the apex of our career, and it just exemplifies the band. It will always be my favourite.”
Let’s be honest, mine and yours too, probably. It’s UFO’s defining statement.
By Michael Hann (Classic Rock)
[The tracks attached to the above images are from the Deluxe Expanded Edition which feature both Chicago and Cleveland gigs].
Is it finally time to give them the credit they deserve?
From Little Willy to a six-foot, confetti spewing penis, The Sweet had it all... except for the credibility they craved. Were these critically derided glam tarts really rock gods after all?
“We were like four dissipated old whores, mincing about on Top Of The Pops and churning out computerised pop, just being as flash as assholes. Everybody thought we were a bunch of poofs…” The above, offered by drummer Mick Tucker in 1974, is evidence of the many misconceptions concerning The Sweet, or merely Sweet as they became known once the affections of teenyboppers wore off. The four members of Sweet were actually womanising, drug taking, hell-raising, macho alcoholics. And although they burst onto the scene miming to early hits such as Funny Funny and Co-Co, then emerged as highcamp stalwarts of the UK singles with glam-rock anthems such as Blockbuster, The Ballroom Blitz and Teenage Rampage, their best music by far was created once the glitter had worn off. If you flipped over just about any of the quartet’s classic singles, a selfpenned B-side such as Burn On The Flame, Rock ‘N’ Roll Disgrace or Need A Lot Of Lovin’ would be ready to assault your eardrums.
Gigs fuelled by a concotion they called 'The Benny Buzz'
The year was 1966. Vocalist Brian Connolly and drummer Mick Tucker formed a band called Sweetshop with bassist Steve Priest and guitarist Frank Torpey. Various small-time gigs were performed, some fuelled by a unique concoction they nicknamed The Benny Buzz. Consisting of the contents of a Benedryl inhaler and Coca Cola in a glass, it helped The Sweet (as they later abbreviated themselves) to numb the pain of seeing their first four singles all flop dismally.
Torpey was briefly succeeded by Mick Stewart before the line-up solidified with the arrival of former Elastic Band guitarist Andy Scott. Behind the scenes, Sweet had also signed to RCA and been introduced to producer Phil Wainman and songwriters Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman. Mere months later, Funny Funny had peaked just outside the Top Ten, becoming the first of Sweet’s 15 hit singles.
At the start, these were exclusively penned by Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, who along with producer Phil Wainman insisted that Connolly should be backed by session musicians. Wigwam Bam was the first single that Sweet were actually allowed to play on, though they had been responsible for their own B-sides since the start. Naturally, these restrictions caused immense unhappiness. To further compound the situation, Sweet had agreed to let Chinn and Chapman manage them.
“What a stupid thing for us to allow them to do,” commented Steve Priest years later. “We were being controlled by a couple of novices. Mike Chapman could write what sounded like hit songs, but Nicky was brought up in a private boys’ school and didn’t know his arse from his elbow.”
Whatever anyone’s reservations, the pair’s formula proved immensely successful, and they soon began using it on such other acts as Mud, Suzi Quatro and Arrows. “Chinn and Chapman’s songs were banal and simple, but they offered endless possibilities,” admits Andy Scott now. “We wanted to start having some of our own material used, so the arrangement was never going to last forever. So other bands ended up using our rejects, though I won’t name any names.”
One of these was Mud’s Tiger Feet, a fact confirmed years later by Mick Tucker when he bitched: “Any group who’d recorded that would have got a hit. Even though it went to Number One, it was still an awful song.”
For the first and last time The Sweet topped the charts with Blockbuster in early 1973. It beat off stiff competition from David Bowie’s Jean Genie, which featured an almost identical guitar riff and was released via the same label just a week apart. “I swear I’d never heard Bowie’s song before ours was released… I was onto Nicky Chinn as soon as I heard it on the radio,” says Scott now, adding gleefully: “We felt a bit shabby about Blockbuster coming out a week later – but ours went to Number One.”
". . . purchased vast quantities of our new release
and dumped them in the Thames"
Sweet would go on to stall at Number Two on no less than five occasions, most annoyingly in September ’73 when the Simon Park Orchestra’s Eye Level repeatedly held off Ballroom Blitz for weeks at a time. As a small child I recall sobbing in the kitchen when the single began to plummet down the charts, but as Scott rightly points out: “Sales-wise, what would have been a Number Two in those days would now top the charts for months on end.”
Steve Priest admits that certain underhand tactics were used to massage their sales. Indeed, at least one of Sweet’s early 45s may still be ‘bubbling under’, in a manner of speaking: “Nicky [Chinn] sent Phil [Wainman] and Mike [Chapman] around the country to the stores whose sales were used to compile the Top 30. Between them, they purchased vast quantities of our new release and dumped them in the Thames.” Nevertheless, the group’s bubblegum anthems and über-camp delivery established them as mainstays on Top Of The Pops (“We got to know the guy who let us into the bar very well,” winks Scott). Nobody who experienced it on the small screen will ever forget Priest batting his eyelids and mockstuttering “W-w-w-w… we just haven’t got a c… oh!” during Blockbuster or Connolly prefacing Ballroom Blitz with the legendary questions, “Are you ready, Steve… [“Uh-huh”]… Andy?… [“Yeah”]… Mick?… [“Okay”]… well, alright, fellas, let’s go-o-o-o-o-o.”
“Steve Priest very aptly summed it up,” winces the guitarist. “They already thought we were poofs, so we may as well elaborate. And it worked. Steve had fan clubs all over the world. In places like Sweden there would be bunches of geezers hanging around outside the hotel. I guess that Wigwam Bam is the one that people tend to remember, with the miniskirts and headdresses. There was definitely a sense of competition with Dave Hill of Slade and – dare we mention his name – Gary Glitter, who used to come up with daring outfits. Top Of The Pops sometimes seemed a bit like a pantomime, and The Sweet were definitely the ugly sisters!”
As Sweet later discovered, the dressing up and cosmetics would haunt them when they decided to get serious. According to Scott, upon seeing Marc Bolan in all his glam glory they realised they simply had to compete.
"Bowie would tell our make-up girls:
'No, no, no their eyes aren't right"
"At the start, we just used make-up as a giggle,” recalled Mick Tucker years later. “We were at Top Of The Pops for Little Willy and Bowie kept telling our make-up girls, ‘No, no, no, their eyes aren’t right’. We all thought, ‘What a strange young man, taking it so seriously’. Perhaps for Bowie it was the excuse he needed to wear make-up in public, but for Sweet it was all a piss-take. “
"After a while things rapidly got right out of hand,” Tucker elaborated. “At gigs, Andy would mince onstage swinging a handbag and call himself Andre. Steven became Stephanie and I changed my name to Michelle. Brian was the only one who never really went along with the make-up thing.”
Gradually Sweet became aware that their audience was polarising. While younger sisters were playing the A-sides of their singles, older brothers were appreciating the harder, self-penned rock of flipsides like Burning and Someone Else Will. 1974s Sweet Fanny Adams is generally acknowledged as their first real album. Besides the two Chinn/Chapman compositions, the tracks Set Me Free and Sweet F.A. were undoubtedly the handiwork of a credible hard rock act. Critically panned, it barely charted in the UK, though Germany and mainland Europe were more open-minded.
Released the same year and featuring the hits The Six Teens and Fox On The Run, the follow-up, Desolation Boulevard rewarded Sweet with their first self-composed success. With Chinn and Chapman away in the US, the latter was re-recorded even without Phil Wainman and climbed to Number Two. Musically, Sweet were on a roll. They had made no secret of their appreciation of Deep Purple. Priest, in fact, had very quickly arrived at the conclusion that Tucker was in awe of Purple’s Ian Paice. “Mick had decided that he and Ian were in competition,” Steve later said. “In my eyes, this was a mistake. He expended a lot of energy trying to play like Ian, but he didn’t have to.”
However, other acts also benefited from Sweet’s innovative use of vocal harmonies. Among them were Queen. “They beat us to it,” later conceded Phil Wainman. “I saw them as a support band at Hammersmith Odeon. I went up to Roy Thomas Baker, who was producing them and had been an engineer for me. I said, ‘Roy, that band are phenomenal. I’ll swap you all my acts for that band’. He said, ‘I can’t do that’. I played Killer Queen to Sweet, and all Andy could say was, ‘Yeah, Phil, we’re being ripped off’”.
“I was scared to death when I heard Queen’s first album, because till then I thought we were doing alright,” comments Scott now. “I remember having a wry smile when I met Brian May in Los Angeles. Bohemian Rhapsody was out, and there were definite similarities. I told Brian I liked the last part of that one, that it was very reminiscent of [our own] Action. But that’s okay, you beg, steal and borrow. I’ve put a lot of Jeff Beck and Hendrix into some of the cheapest and nastiest pop singles ever, and nobody realises.”
The Sweet were also becoming notorious for their lewd, hedonistic ways. Each night they took to the stage to the strains of The Stripper, and Someone Else Will was introduced by the line “If we don’t fuck you then someone else will”. There were reports of a band member pulling down his strides in a lift to a Swedish teenage girl, and in March 1972 the group were banned by the Mecca Ballroom chain after John Chapman of the Portsmouth Mecca said their show was “The most disgusting performance I’ve seen in 11 years” at the venue (Sweet duly responded with the B-side Man From Mecca). Considering their audience comprised of under-age females, does Scott believe that Sweet always behaved responsibly?
“Does anybody in the music business?” he parries. “At the time what we sometimes did was considered out of order, but you only have to look at Channel 5 late at night to put it into perspective. Compared to Sex In Japan, which was on the other night, what The Sweet did was fuck-all, mate.” Nevertheless, on another early Swedish tour it was alleged that Sweet beat up a promoter, broke a window, rubbed excrement into a tablecloth and pissed in an ice bucket. “The incident you’re probably referring to was an open air show in Stockholm,” clarifies Scott. “It was pissing with rain, 15,000 fans were angry that the show was cancelled and because there were no curtains on the dressing room window we smeared some guacamole over a pane. It was also reported that we took a shit into a fucking piano… that would’ve been really stupid. But afterwards we couldn’t get a hotel in Stockholm for more than two years.”
Sensibly, Scott does not attempt to deny that there were other moments of excess. “I personally couldn’t drink and take drugs, so it was one or the other,” he explains. “There are now only two of us left [alive], so I shouldn’t need to add too much to that fact. But we definitely lived the life. Rarely a week went by without Brian being in the press for something or other.”
"Pete Townshend invited Sweet to open for The Who"
In his autobiography Are You Ready, Steve, Priest portrays himself to be something of a serial shagger. So what would be the most people that Andy ever shared a bed with? “Ha ha… my prowess wasn’t in that department,” he grins. “You should be asking that to MT or BC, the two that aren’t here.”
With kudos for their talents a rare commodity in Britain, the rock world was astonished when Pete Townshend personally invited Sweet to open for The Who at an open-air show at The Valley in south London. Alas, in one of those exploits that Scott previously alluded to, Connolly was then beaten up outside an Uxbridge nightclub. Brian had exited the club to find some youths dancing on top of his Mercedes, and upon confronting them received several kicks in the throat. While the rest of the band were sympathetic to his injury, which resulted in them cancelling their big break, they nevertheless felt that one of the most famous faces of 1974 had put himself in an unnecessary position. “Brian had apparently smiled at and been talking to this guy’s girlfriend,” explains Andy.
Some say that Connolly’s voice was never the same again, a possibility that Scott refuses to dismiss. “I’ve never heard a range drop as drastically,” he sighs. “There was no way he could get anywhere near Set Me Free when we began to tour America.” Sweet attempted to crack the States to promote 1976’s Give Us A Wink album with a 50-date US tour, but once on US soil they found themselves promoting material that was 18 months old. Ballroom Blitz, out in 1973 at home, had emerged in the middle of ’75 Stateside and Capitol Records opted to issue an amalgam of Sweet Fanny Adams and Desolation Boulevard, under the latter’s title.
Support for The Sweet was Back Street Crawler
On the US tour’s closing night at Santa Monica Civic, Sweet were joined onstage by Ritchie Blackmore. Back Street Crawler had been the advertised support act, though just 24 hours earlier Paul Kossoff had died. “I hope that if Paul was watching, he didn’t think it too disrespectful that at the end of the show, a six-foot dick [stage prop] came swinging down from the ceiling, spraying the audience with confetti,” related Priest. “It was a realistic looking affair, with all the attributes of the male appendage. It was huge, with coloured veins and a subtle 1,000-watt bulb inside.”
Sweet were still making great albums and scoring hit singles. Give Us A Wink featured Action, later covered by both Def Leppard and Scorpions, and The Lies In Your Eyes, though they reached just 15 and 35 respectively. The graffiti on the record’s sleeve also bears the legend: “Queen are a bunch of winkers”. The track Yesterday’s Rain described an encounter with a hooker (“She gave me love for a fiver/Up to my balls inside her”), further proof not only of the quartet’s salacious underbelly, but also that they were leaving the singles market behind.
Sure enough, Fever Of Love and Los Angels both vanished without trace from the next album, Off The Record, and with their attempt to become an album’s band foundering, Sweet were in serious danger of falling apart. “There was a certain indifference in our attitude while we were recording,” admitted Scott in an interview shortly afterwards. “I think what was missing was honesty.”
Perhaps addressing Scott’s admission that “Brian’s vocals were no longer all they could have been”, Andy and Steve shared the singing with Connolly on their band’s first album for new label, Polydor. An incredible 300 bottles of wine were consumed in just a month upon decamping to Clearwell Castle to record the Level Headed album. Their inner circle all knew that Connolly had been drinking too much since the mid-70s. But by the time, his alcoholism had almost completely ostracised him from the rest of the group, and he took up residence in a separate area of the castle.
Brian’s depreciation also caused him to return to the sessions from a weekend at home armed with a shotgun. From his window he proceeded to take potshots into the bird sanctuary behind Clearwell – over the heads of his incredulous band-mates who at the time were playing cricket. Describing the band’s stay at Clearwell, Priest later commented: “After downing up to a dozen bottles of wine at dinner, we would rush to the pub and imbibe some of the local brew. The rest of the evening was spent fornicating.”
Against all the odds, Level Headed turned out to be a fine, adventurous album when issued in 1978. Happier still, Love Is Like Oxygen provided Sweet with their first Top Ten hit in three years. “The verses in Oxygen…, the ones that Brian sang, were some of the best he’d done in years,” says Scott.
"Cocaine was beginning to ruin our lives"
Buoyed by their return to the charts though sensing the last chance saloon was looming, Sweet undertook another US tour. With hindsight, it said plenty that JJ Cale’s Cocaine had been introduced into the set. Priest and Tucker had discovered the drug while recording Give Us A Wink in Munich, but by the time of Off The Record as Steve admits: “It was beginning to run our lives.”
By this point Sweet had recruited second guitarist Nico Ramsen and keyboard player Gary Moberly, and with Priest and Scott handling more and more of the vocals, Connolly often had nothing to do onstage. However, this was no excuse for his behaviour in America, where the band were supporting labelmate Bob Seger. A deposition from Capitol Records flew to check up on their charges in Birmingham, Alabama, and returned to their bosses with absolute horror.
“Brian had absolutely no idea where or who he was,” related Priest in his book. “It looked like he had taken some serious downers. The show had to go on, but I wished it hadn’t. We struggled through Love Is Like Oxygen, but eventually had to call it a day and left the stage.”
“Being drunk onstage in front of 20,000 people was the final straw,” agrees Scott sadly. “Brian was dragged off after one song, and Ed Leffler [US manager] was still shouting at him an hour later.”
"Connolly due to be replaced by Ronnie James Dio"
The next couple of shows proceeded well enough, but in Atlanta the same problems emerged. With Scott lobbying the band to sack Connolly and appoint former Rainbow frontman Ronnie James Dio in his place, Brian vowed to behave and somehow scraped through the dates, but invaluable options to extend their touring in the US had to be declined. Bridges with Capitol were unceremoniously burned. Back home, the singer tried and failed to dry out, and after the band tried to begin work on a new studio album he was given the ultimatum of quitting with a semblance of dignity or being dismissed. In February 1979, he accepted the former option, claiming to have been planning a solo career for three years.
Although Andy says he “definitely spoke to Ronnie Dio” about replacing Connolly and received positive interest, Sweet eventually elected to continue with Priest and Scott doubling up on vocals. The trio’s debut offering, Cut Above The Rest, continued their creative growth. More mature than previous albums, songs like Play All Night and the anti-dance music diatribe DiscoPhony retained much of the original group’s charisma, but Polydor showed precious little enthusiasm in promoting them as a trio. Although Steve Priest somewhat uncharitably said that it “sucked”, 1980s Water’s Edge was another excellent collection of songs, though again there were neither adverts nor live appearances. And with Steve relocating to live in New York and Mick Tucker attempting to pick himself up after his wife Pauline was found dead in the bath, things looked bleaker still.
The UK tour had sold well, but at a show in Nottingham a disturbance ensued that involved a youth, Andy Scott and an wanted pint of beer, which resulted in the guitarist storming from the stage. Priest later commented: “Mick and myself had to busk for 20 minutes before Her Royal Highness would return. It was not the first time, but it was definitely the last. I felt that we made three very creditable albums after Brian left,” Scott reflects. “But of course it was never gonna be the same. The Lyceum show was incredible and we could have turned things around, but because the record company were dragging their heels we never managed to capitalise upon it.”
Just as their fans were giving up hope, the three-piece Sweet played an incredible comeback gig at London’s Lyceum in January of 1981. An unknown act called Duran Duran were billed as support, though for unknown reasons they pulled out. Besides playing all their hits, two new numbers were previewed. One of these, Identity Crisis, was sung by Priest with all the schizophrenic affectation at his command, and was pure vintage Sweet. Such was the impact generated by the Lyceum show that a dozen more UK shows were quickly arranged, though it was all in vain when Polydor only released the Identity Crisis album in Germany.
"Scott produced for Iron Maiden"
Sweet finally bowed to the inevitable. Besides releasing several solo singles, Scott moved into production, becoming involved with Iron Maiden in their earliest stages. However, interest in 1984s Cherry Red Record compilation Sweet 16… It’s It’s… Sweet’s Hits and a 12” Disco Club Megamix of the singles Blockbuster, Fox On The Run, Teenage Rampage, Hell Raiser and Ballroom Blitz almost succeeded in reuniting the classic line-up. The situation had become unworkable.
Kevin Smith, a long-time Sweet fan who ended up becoming their tour manager from between 1983-1996, has his own theory about why they never fulfilled their immense potential. “They had absolutely no qualms in telling people to fuck off, even if things were being done for their benefit,” he says. “In the early days there was a controversy at Top Of The Pops when they turned up wearing jackets with ‘Fuck You’ and ‘Bollocks’ written on the back. The cameras just shot them from the front, but they weren’t invited back onto the show for several weeks, despite their single selling well.”
"Reformed Sweet to feature Maiden, Heep and Weapon members"
At around the same time that Connolly resurfaced with his New Sweet, Andy was assembling his own Sweet line-up. According to Kevin Smith, Steve Priest had even “made noises about re-joining” a grouping that featured Tucker, plus former Iron Maiden frontman Paul Mario Day and future Uriah Heep keyboard player Phil Lanzon. Promo photographs were even taken with Priest supposedly featured ‘live from New York’ on a TV screen, though eventually they had to settle for ex-Weapon bassist Mal McNulty instead. But the reunion would not last.
Things reached a nadir when a prime time TV documentary followed Connolly as he played a show at a holiday camp. For those who recalled the band at their peak, it was painfully tragic viewing. Brian hobbled to the stage, seemingly oblivious to the small children that were mocking him in the background. Indeed, the show made such an impression upon Scott that he phoned Connolly afterwards.
“Brian was understandably livid because he’d been ill and his backing band had played a gig as The Sweet without him,” he states. “I told him the only solution to everybody’s problems was for him to come and play some gigs with my band. We’d play the first half of the set and he’d come on for the last part. He was really into the idea.” Scott’s call was made around Christmas of 1996, but by the following February Connolly’s illness had worsened and he died. A stroke had led to liver failure. Members of Queen, Def Leppard and Slade all paid tribute to the singer, with Ritchie Blackmore commenting: “He was a great singer and a fantastic man.”
“I still have great memories of Brian, and without warning sometimes they still make me laugh out loud,” says Andy. “Things like the hotel receptionist calling our tour manager and asking to retrieve him from a corridor, where he’d been found spread-eagled and bollock naked. He’d mistaken a pot-plant for his bathroom door, peed on it, and passed out.”
Equally tragically, Mick Tucker succumbed to complications related to the leukemia he had been suffering from for five years. “Mick had had his own problems with alcohol; generally with the lifestyle,” offers Scott now. “It amazes me how are Aerosmith and the Rolling Stones are still out there doing it? Compared to bands like those, we were novices.”
Despite the occasional niggle expressed in this article and Steve’s reluctance to tour, don’t be surprised if Scott and Priest work together again someday. Confides Andy: “At Mick’s funeral I told him, ‘The next one of these could be yours or mine, let’s not wait till then’. There’s life in the old dogs yet, and we are working on project together.”
“When we go on the road we frighten people. Like the original band, everybody now sings,” he says proudly. “We can re-create all the old stuff as well as the things from Sweetlife. The nostalgia tag simply does not bother us, we’re happy to play music from all eras of the band… even some of the stuff like Funny Funny and Co-Co that we didn’t do for a while. Musically, The Sweet always kept the fans guessing. There definitely aren’t many other bands that have had careers like ours.”
For the moment, Scott has his hands full with his own Sweet activities. Last year, his latest incarnation of the band (bassist/lead singer Jeff Brown, guitarist/keyboard player Steve Grant and drummer Bruce Bisland) released Sweetlife, a marvellous slice of melodic, anthemic pomp rock that somehow managed to slip under the world’s collective radar, and a UK tour beckons in the early part of 2003. The current Sweet are also about to issue Chronology, a re-recorded collection of the band’s best songs. Even with 30 million records sold, and with Ballroom Blitz having re-entered people’s consciousness via Wayne’s World, Andy Scott is aware that there are many brick walls ahead, but he’s determined to overcome them.
By Dave Ling (Classic Rock
|CELEBRATING ROCK AND METAL:
THIS DAY ON .
TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 21
1963 - Bobby Vinton started a three week run at No.1 on the US singles chart with 'Blue Velvet'. The single became a hit in the UK 27 years later when it reached No.2.
1968 - Jimi Hendrix Experience released their version of the Bob Dylan song 'All Along the Watchtower'. Hendrix had been given a tape of Dylan's recording by publicist Michael Goldstein. Dave Mason from Traffic and Rolling Stone Brian Jones both played on the recording.
1970 - Freda Payne was at No.1 on the singles chart with 'Band Of Gold', the singers only No.1, which spent six weeks at the top of the chart.
1971 - The first edition of the 'The Old Grey Whistle Test' was aired. Presented by Richard Williams, the show included film clips of Jimi Hendrix from Monterey Festival playing 'Wild Thing', Bob Dylan playing 'Maggies Farm' plus America and Lesley Duncan 'live' in the studio. The influential show went on to enjoy a run from 1971 to 1987. According to presenter Bob Harris, the programme derived its name from a Tin Pan Alley phrase from years before. When they got the first pressing of a record they would play it to people they called the old greys—doormen in grey suits. The songs they could remember and whistle, having heard it just once or twice, had passed the old grey whistle test.
1974 - Carl Douglas was at No.1 on the singles chart with 'Kung Fu Fighting.' The song was recorded in 10 minutes, had started out as a B-side and went on to sell over 10 million and made Douglas a One Hit Wonder.
1977 - Meat Loaf released his second studio album Bat Out Of Hell. His first collaboration with composer Jim Steinman and producer Todd Rundgren, it is one of the best-selling albums of all time having sold over 43 million copies worldwide (and still sells over 200,000 copies per year). The first single released from the album 'You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth' failed to chart when first released.
1980 - During a North American tour, Bob Marley collapsed while jogging in New York's Central Park. After hospital tests he was diagnosed as having cancer. Marley played his last ever concert two nights later at the Stanley Theater in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
1992 - Parlophone Records released 'Creep' by Radiohead. as their debut single. The single didn't chart but featured in the majority of critics lists at the end of the year and later appeared on their first album, Pablo Honey.
1996 - The Fugees scored their second No.1 single with 'Ready Or Not'. The chorus in the song is based on 'Ready or Not Here I Come (Can't Hide from Love)' by The Delfonics. The Fugees previous single 'Killing Me Softly' was so successful that the track was 'deleted' and no longer supplied to retailers whilst the track was still in the Top 20 to make way for the next single 'Ready or Not'.
2015 - Trumpeter Ben Cauley, a member of the Stax Records group The Bar-Kays and the only survivor of the 1967 plane crash that killed Otis Redding, died at the age of 67. The Bar-Kays appeared as the backing band on numerous recordings for Stax artists such as Carla Thomas, Isaac Hayes, Rufus Thomas, The Staple Singers and Sam and Dave.
MONDAY SEPTEMBER 20:
1957 - Buddy Holly released the single 'Peggy Sue' with 'Everyday' as the B-side. The song was originally entitled 'Cindy Lou', after Holly's niece, but was later changed to 'Peggy Sue' in reference to Peggy Sue Gerron the girlfriend (and future wife) of Jerry Allison, the drummer for the Crickets, after the couple had temporarily broken up.
1968 - Led Zeppelin (recording under the name of The Yardbirds) started recording their debut album at Olympic Studios, Barnes, London. The album took only about 36 hours of studio time to complete at a cost of around £1,782, with most of the tracks being recorded 'live' in the studio with very few overdubs.
1969 - Melody Maker readers poll results were published. Winners included Eric Clapton who won best musician, Bob Dylan best male singer and best album for 'Nashville Skyline'. Best group went to The Beatles, Best single went to Simon And Garfunkel for 'The Boxer' and Janis Joplin won Best female singer.
1969 - During a meeting in London between John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, Lennon announced he was leaving The Beatles.
1970 - Jim Morrison of The Doors was acquitted on charges of lewd and lascivious behavior but was found guilty of exposing himself during a concert at The Dinner Key Auditorium in Coconut Grove a year and a half earlier. At his trial at the Dade County Courthouse in Miami, Judge Goodman sentenced Morrison to six months hard labor and a $500 (£270) fine for public exposure and sixty days hard labor for profanity. The sentence was appealed but Morrison was never brought to trial as he would die in Paris France on July 3, 1971.
1970 - The Rolling Stones live album 'Get Your Ya-Yas Out' started a two-week run at No.1 on the chart. Recorded at New York's Madison Sq Gardens on 27th & 28th Nov 1969, featuring 'Jumpin Jack Flash', 'Honky Tonk Woman' and 'Midnight Rambler'.
1973 - On his way to perform his second concert of the day, US singer, songwriter Jim Croce was killed with five others when his chartered aircraft hit a tree on take off in Louisiana.
1975 - 'Fame' gave David Bowie his first No.1 in the US. The song was co-written with John Lennon. Lennon's voice is heard towards the ending of the song repeating the words: "Fame, Fame, Fame" from a fast track, through a regular track, to a slow track, before Bowie finished the lyrics.
1976 - AC/DC released their third studio album 'Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap'. The album has been certified 6x Platinum in the United States, which means that it has sold at least 6 million copies, becoming the third highest sold album by AC/DC in the US after 'Highway To Hell' and 'Back In Black'.
1976 - The first of the two night 100 Club Punk Festival, Oxford St, London featuring the Sex Pistols, The Clash, Subway Sect, Suzie (spelling on the poster) and The Banshees, The Buzzcocks, Vibrators and Stinky Toys. Admission £1.50.
1993 - Just back from a tour of Japan, keyboard player with The Charlatans Rob Collins was out with an old friend. They stopped at an off-licence and his friend went in, half-jokingly saying he could rob the place. When he came out with a loud bang, Collins stupidly picked him up. The police arrested the pair the next day and charged them both with attempted robbery and possession of a firearm (it was a replica gun).
1994 - The Dave Matthews Band released ‘Under the Table and Dreaming’, the album featured their first commercial hits ‘What Would You Say,’ ‘Satellite,’ and ‘Ants Marching.’ The album was dedicated to Matthews' older sister Anne, who was killed by her husband in 1994 in a murder-suicide.
1997 - Pearl Jam's 'Jeremy' video was cited as one of the reasons American teenager Barry Loukaitis had snapped into a violent rage that left three people dead. Defence attorneys took the unprecedented step of playing the video in a Washington court.
2012 - The former north London home of the original band members of Pink Floyd was bought by a Singaporean developer. Sham Masterman, who admitted not being a big fan of the rock band, bought the Highgate house and the one next door for £1.2m each. Roger Waters, Nick Mason, Richard Wright and Syd Barrett had all lived in the house in the 1960s. The previous owner, lighting technician Mike Leonard, was landlord and friend to the band and even inspired their earliest name, Leonard's Lodgers.
2020 - American musician and singer Tommy DeVito died age 92 after contracting COVID-19. He is best known as a founding member, vocalist and lead guitarist of the Four Seasons who were one of only two American bands (the other being the Beach Boys) to enjoy substantial chart success before, during and after the British Invasion. The Four Seasons are one of the best-selling musical groups of all time, having sold an estimated 100 million records worldwide.
SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 19:
1960 - Former chicken plucker Chubby Checker went to No.1 on the US singles chart with 'The Twist'. It made No.14 in the UK in 1962, version with The Fat Boys made No.2 in the UK in 1988.
1964 - Oxfam printed half a million Christmas cards in the UK of a drawing by John Lennon called the Fat Budgie, which was taken from his book A Spaniard in the Works. All profits from the cards went to help raise money for charity. Oxfam re-printed the cards in 2007 as a limited edition card which again sold thousands.
1969 - Creedence Clearwater Revival scored their only No.1 single with 'Bad Moon Rising' . Also on this day the group started a four-week run at No.1 on the US album chart with 'Green River.'
1973 - Country rock singer, songwriter 26-year-old Gram Parsons formerly of The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers died under mysterious conditions in Joshua Tree, California. His death was attributed to heart failure but later was officially announced as a drug overdose. His coffin was stolen by two of his associates, manager Phil Kaufman and Michael Martin, a former roadie for The Byrds, and was taken to Cap Rock in the California desert where it was set alight in accordance to Parsons' wishes. The two were later arrested by police.
1992 - The Shamen started a four-week run at No.1 on the singles chart with 'Ebeneezer Goode'. One of the most controversial chart toppers due to its perceived endorsement of recreational drug use. The song was initially banned by the BBC.
1992 - Radiohead filmed the video for their new single 'Creep' during a show at the Venue in Oxford. During its initial release 'Creep' was not a chart success. However, upon re-release in 1993 it became a worldwide hit.
1993 - Pearl Jam released their second studio album Vs. The album set the record for the most copies of an album sold in its first week, a record it held for five years despite the fact that the group declined to produce music videos for any of the album’s singles.
1999 - American musician, songwriter and record producer Ed Cobb died. He was a member of the Four Preps and he wrote the northern soul hit ‘Tainted Love’ for Gloria Jones which Soft Cell reworked into one of the biggest pop hits of the 1980s.
2002 - James Brown was being sued by his own daughters for more than £650,000 of song royalties they said they were owed. Deanna Brown Thomas and Dr Yamma Brown Lumar, a Texas physician, said Brown had withheld royalties on 25 co-written songs because of a family grudge. The lawsuit claimed that Brown had held a grudge against his daughters since 1998 when Ms Thomas had her father committed to a psychiatric hospital to be treated for addiction to painkillers.
2005 - Research published by Guinness World Records showed that Status Quo have had more hit singles than any other band in UK chart history. The band had scored 61 chart successes, dating from ‘Pictures of Matchstick Men’ in 1968 to ‘You'll Come Around’ in 2004. Queen came second with 52 hits, with The Rolling Stones and UB40 with 51 hits each.
2008 - American drummer Earl Palmer died. Worked with The Beach Boys, Little Richard (‘Tutti Frutti’), Frank Sinatra, Ike And Tina Turner (‘River Deep, Mountain High’), The Monkees, Fats Domino (‘I'm Walkin’), Neil Young, Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, The Righteous Brothers (‘You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin’) and Randy Newman, Tom Waits, Bonnie Raitt, Tim Buckley, Little Feat and Elvis Costello.
2020 - Ozzy Osbourne’s former drummer, Lee Kerslake, died aged 73 from prostate cancer. He is best known for his performances on the Black Sabbath frontman’s critically-acclaimed debut album Blizzard of Ozz and was also the drummer in Uriah Heep appearing on their 1972 album Demons and Wizards and nine studio records as well as a live album with the band before departing in 1978.
FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 17:
1931 - The first long-playing record, a 33 1/3 rpm recording, was demonstrated at the Savoy Plaza Hotel in New York by RCA-Victor. The venture was doomed to fail however due to the high price of the record players which started around $95 (about $1140 in today's dollars) and wasn't revived until 1948.
1956 - The BBC announced the removal of Bill Haley and His Comets' ‘Rockin' Through The Rye’ from its playlist because they felt the song went against traditional British standards (and included the lyrics "All the lassies rock with me when rockin' through the rye"). The record, based on an 18th century Scottish Folk tune, was at No.5 on the charts.
1964 - During a US tour The Beatles appeared at the Municipal Stadium in Kansas City. The Beatles were paid $150,000 for the show which was more than any other act had ever been paid for a live show. Tickets cost $4.50.
1967 - The Doors were banned from The Ed Sullivan Show after Jim Morrison broke his agreement with the show’s producers. Morrison said before the performance that he wouldn’t sing the words, ‘Girl, we couldn’t get much higher,’ from 'Light My Fire' but did anyway. The Doors also performed their new single 'People Are Strange.'
1969 - Media on both sides of the Atlantic were running stories that said Paul McCartney was dead. He was supposedly killed in a car accident in Scotland on November 9th, 1966 and that a double had been taking his place for public appearances. In fact Paul and his girlfriend Jane Asher were on vacation in Kenya at the time.
1978 - The video for Queen's single 'Bicycle Race' was filmed at Wimbledon Stadium, Wimbledon. It featured 65 naked female professional models racing around the stadium's track on bicycles which had been hired for the day. The rental company was reported to have requested payment to replace all the saddles when they found out how their bikes had been used.
1996 - A bomb was found at a South London sorting office addressed to Icelandic singer Bjork. Police in Miami had alerted the post office after finding the body of Ricardo Lopez who had made a video of himself making the bomb and then killing himself.
2000 - Paula Yates was found dead in bed from a suspected drug overdose. Yates had presented The Tube during the 80s, married Bob Geldof and was the girlfriend of INXS singer Michael Hutchence.
2004 - Israeli police arrested two of Madonna's bodyguards after they assaulted photographers waiting for the singer outside her hotel. Madonna was in Israel with 2,000 other students of Kabbalah, the Jewish mystical offshoot.
2011 - The estate of Jimi Hendrix gave the go-ahead for another round of archival releases nearly 41 years to the day after the singer's death. The four new products included an expanded version of his landmark Winterland concerts in 1968, a revamp of a 1972 live compilation, an upgraded DVD of his final U.K. festival gig and a DVD reissue of some old talk-show appearances.
WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 15:
1956 - Anne Shelton was at No.1 on the singles chart with 'Lay Down Your Arms.' Shelton was a British vocal star of the 40s & 50s and one time singer with the Glenn Miller Orchestra.
1966 - Member of Parliament Tom Drilberg asked Britain's House of Commons to officially "deplore" the action of a magistrate who'd earlier called The Rolling Stones "complete morons...who wear filthy clothes."
1967 - Working at Abbey Road studios in London, The Beatles recorded 11 takes of 'Your Mother Should Know', giving the song a stronger beat, but this version of the song was discarded in favour of the original recording.
1970 - Led Zeppelin won 'best group' in the Melody Maker readers Poll. This was the first time in eight years that The Beatles hadn't won 'best group.'
1970 - Jimi Hendrix joined Eric Burdon on stage at Ronnie Scotts in London for what would become the guitarist's last ever public appearance.
1977 - 29-year-old former T Rex singer Marc Bolan was killed instantly when the car driven by his girlfriend, Gloria Jones, left the road and hit a tree in Barnes, London. Miss Jones broke her jaw in the accident. The couple were on the way to Bolan's home in Richmond after a night out at a Mayfair restaurant. A local man who witnessed the crash said, 'When I arrived a girl was lying on the bonnet and a man with long dark curly hair was stretched out in the road - there was a hell of a mess.'
.1988 - Former Clash drummer Topper Headon was released from jail after serving 10 months of a 15-month sentence on a narcotics charge.
1996 - Pearl Jam played the first night on their 'No Code' tour at the Key Arena in Seattle, Washington. Because of the band's refusal to play in Ticketmaster's venue areas, they were forced to use alternate ticketing companies for the shows which fans complained were out-of-the-way and hard to get to.
2008 - Norman Whitfield died in Los Angeles, California from diabetes and other illnesses. The Motown songwriter and producer collaborated with Barrett Strong on such hits as 'I Heard It Through the Grapevine', ‘Ain't Too Proud to Beg’, ‘(I Know) I'm Losing You’, ‘Cloud Nine’, ‘War’, ‘Papa Was a Rolling Stone’, and ‘Car Wash’.
2009 - Mary Travers from Folk trio Peter, Paul And Mary, passed away after suffering from leukemia for several years. She was 72. Mary's lead vocal can be heard on the group's biggest hit, 1969's 'Leaving On A Jet Plane'.
2013 - A souvenir booklet from the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival signed by Jimi Hendrix fetched $6,500 on eBay. The artifact also included autographs from three members of the Mamas and Papas.
2018 - English multi-instrumentalist musician and record producer Martin Allcock died aged 61. He was a member of folk rock band Fairport Convention and Jethro Tull and also played keyboards for The Mission.
TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 14:
1955 - Little Richard entered a New Orleans recording studio to begin two days of recording. Things were not going well and during a break Richard and his producer Bumps Blackwell went to the Dew Drop Inn for lunch. Richard started playing the piano in the bar like crazy, singing a loud and lewd version of ‘Tutti Frutti.’ With only fifteen minutes left in the session Richard recorded the song and coined the phrase, ‘a-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-lop-bam-boom.’
1968 - Roy Orbison's house in Nashville burnt down; his two eldest sons both died in the blaze. Orbison was on tour in the UK at the time of the accident.
1968 - The first episode of the comic strip 'The Archies' was aired on US TV. The recording group had contributions from Ron Dante, Andy Kim, Jeff Barry and others. Rock mogul Don Kirshner (who also brought us The Monkees) was put in charge of the studio group. The following year The Archies started a eight-week run at No.1 on the UK singles chart with 'Sugar Sugar,' becoming the longest running One Hit Wonder in the UK.
1984 - David Bowie won Video of the year for 'China Girl' at the first MTV Video awards. The song co-written by David Bowie and Iggy Pop during their years in Berlin, first appeared on Pop's album The Idiot released in 1977.
1997 - Over 2000 fans watched Pete Townshend unveil a English Heritage Blue Plaque at 23 Brook Street, Mayfair to mark where Jimi Hendrix had lived in 1968-69. Hendrix was the first pop star to be awarded with the plaque.
2005 - HMV stores in Canada removed Bob Dylan CDs from their shelves in protest at the singer's deal to only sell his new album in Starbucks after he signed an exclusive contract with the coffee giant. The chain has previously boycotted CDs by Alanis Morissette and The Rolling Stones to complain at exclusive deals.
2005 - The newly refurbished Grateful Dead's original tour bus went on display at the Volo Auto Museum in Volo, Illinois. The 1965 Gillig bus, which Jerry Garcia and the rest of the Dead dubbed ‘Sugar Magnolia’ was used by the band on their frequent tours across the US between 1967 and 1985. The ceiling was lined with hundreds of vintage rock posters featuring The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and others who had visited the bus.
2008 - Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson was one of the pilots who flew specially chartered flights after 85,000 tourists were stranded in the US, the Caribbean, Africa and Europe after Britain's third-largest tour operator went into administration. The singer, who had worked for the airline Astraeus for nine years, took up flying during a low point in his solo career after he quit the band in 1993.
MONDAY SEPTEMBER 13:
1958 - Cliff Richard made his British TV debut on Jack good's 'Oh Boy', performing 'Move It'. Before he was allowed to appear on the show, Richard was ordered to remove his sideburns.
1960 - A campaign was started to ban 'Tell Laura I Love Her' by Ray Peterson. The song was being denounced in the press as likely to inspire a teenage "glorious death cult." The story told of a lovesick youngster who drives in a stock car race to win the hand of his sweetheart. He crashes and just before dying, groans out the words of the title.
1963 - Graham Nash fell out of The Hollies van after a gig in Scotland. Nash checked to see if the door was locked; it wasn't and he fell out as it travelled at 40mph.
1964 - During a UK tour two dozen rugby players were hired as 'a human crash barrier' at a Rolling Stones gig at the Liverpool Empire. The 'human chain' disappeared under a wave of 5,000 fans as the Stones took to the stage.
1965 - The Paul McCartney song 'Yesterday' was released as a Beatles single in the US. McCartney's vocal and acoustic guitar together with a string quartet essentially made for the first solo performance of the band. The final recording was so different from other works by The Beatles that the band members vetoed the release of the song as a single in the United Kingdom. (However, it was issued as a single there in 1976.)
1967 - The Beatles formed an electronics company called Fiftyshapes, Ltd. appointing John Alexis Mardas (Magic Alex) to be the company's director. Alex claimed he could build a 72-track tape machine, instead of the 4-track at Abbey Road (this never materialised). One of his more outrageous plans was to replace the acoustic baffles around Ringo Starr's drums with an invisible sonic force field. George Harrison later said that employing Mardas was "the biggest disaster of all time."
1986 - The Communards were at No.1 on the singles chart with 'Don't Leave Me This Way', which had been a hit for Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes in 1975 and later a hit for Thelma Houston.
1996 - Both Noel and Liam Gallagher arrived back in the UK on separate flights from the US amid rumours that Oasis were splitting. A statement from the record company said there would be no live gigs but the band would continue to record.
2005 - The Sex Pistols were among new names added to a celebrity Walk of Fame in Covent Garden, London. Other musical celebrities to immortalised on the Avenue of the Stars include Bob Geldof, Tom Jones, Gracie Fields and Bob Hope.
2015 - Gary Richrath, lead guitarist and songwriter for REO Speedwagon, died at the age of 65. Richrath recorded 12 albums with the band before leaving in 1989 and released his own solo album in 1992.
2019 - American singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Eddie Money died of cancer age 70. He released over ten albums and had a string of hits in the late Seventies including 'Baby Hold On', 'Two Tickets to Paradise' and 'Take Me Home Tonight'.
SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 12:
1963 - The Beatles were at No.1 on the singles chart with 'She Loves You', the group's second No.1. It became the biggest seller of the year and the biggest selling Beatles single in the UK.
1966 - N.B.C. aired the first episode of The Monkees TV show in the US. The series ran for a total of 58 episodes.
1967 - Filming continued for The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour. The bus headed for Widecombe on the Moor where a local fair was being held but the bus driver (Alf Manders) took a shortcut to bypass heavy traffic and ended up stuck on a bridge; the coach ended up having to drive in reverse for a half-mile before it could turn around. They then head for Plymouth, followed by a 20-car convoy of journalists and photographers.
1970 - Bob Dylan joined Joan Baez, Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie at the Woody Guthrie Memorial Concert held at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, California.
1970 - Creedence Clearwater Revival scored their first No.1 album with Cosmo's Factory. It also enjoyed a nine-week run at No.1 in the US where it sold over three million copies.
1970 - Smokey Robinson and The Miracles were at No.1 on the singles chart with 'The Tears Of A Clown', their first UK No.1. Stevie Wonder (who was discovered by Miracles member Ronnie White) and his producer Hank Cosby wrote the music for the song.
1986 - Public Image Ltd guitarist John McGeoch needed 40 stitches in his face after a two-litre wine bottle was thrown at the stage during a gig in Vienna.
1990 - Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie from Fleetwood Mac announced they were leaving the band at the end of their current tour. At the time, some believed that Nicks’ and McVie’s departures were hastened by bad blood in the wake of Mick Fleetwood’s memoir, 'Fleetwood: My Life and Adventures in Fleetwood Mac'.
2002 - The son of Rod Stewart was sentenced to 90 days in jail and ordered to undergo drug rehabilitation after pleading no contest to attacking a man outside a Malibu, California restaurant. 22 year-old Sean Stewart had been arrested on Dec. 5th, 2001, after he was seen kicking the man in the face and stomach. Stewart was also sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay $5,600 to the victim.
2003 - Singer songwriter Johnny Cash died aged 71 of respiratory failure. One of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, known as "The Man in Black." He traditionally started his concerts by saying, "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash." Had the 1969 US No.2 & UK No.4 single 'A Boy Named Sue', plus 11 other US Top 40 singles. Cash also had his own US TV show in late 60s early 70s.
2007 - The surviving members of Led Zeppelin announced they would reform for a star-studded tribute concert in London. Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones would play at a show to remember the late Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun. The place of Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, who died in 1980, would be taken by his son Jason. The one-off concert, the trio's first performance for 19 years, would take place at the O2 arena in London on 26th November.
2013 - Ray Dolby, the US engineer who founded Dolby Laboratories and pioneered noise reduction in audio recordings, died aged 80 of leukemia. The analog Dolby noise-reduction system works by increasing the volume of low-level high-frequency sounds during recording and correspondingly reducing them during playback.
SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 11:
1956 - Police were called to break up a crowd of rowdy teenagers following the showing of the film Rock Around the Clock at the Trocadero Cinema in London. The following day The Times printed a reader's letter that said: "The hypnotic rhythm and the wild gestures have a maddening effect on a rhythm loving age group and the result of its impact is the relaxing of all self control." The film was quickly banned in several English cities.
1962 - After George Martin insisted that session drummer Andy White took Ringo Starr's place, The Beatles returned to EMI Studios in London for a third attempt at recording their first single. 'Love Me Do' was selected to be The Beatles' first A-side, with "P.S. I Love You" on the flip side (a reversal of the original plan). The single that was released on October 5th featured a version of ‘Love Me Do’ with Ringo on drums, but the album ‘Please Please Me’ included a version with Andy White on drums.
1964 - The London Evening News reported that a 16 year-old Eltham Collage boy, introduced as Laurie Yarham, was everyone's idea of a winner in a Mick Jagger look-a-like competition. Laurie looked like Mick Jagger and seemed to know his every action and the audience at Greenwich Town Hall were delighted, until the winner turned out to be Mick's younger brother Chris Jagger.
1967 - Filming began for The Beatles ‘Magical Mystery Tour’. There was no script, nor a very clear idea of exactly what was to be accomplished, not even a clear direction about where the bus was supposed to go. The ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ bus set off for the West Country stopping for the night in Teignmouth, Devon where hundreds of fans greeted The Beatles at their hotel.
1970 - NME’s Keith Allston interviewed Jimi Hendrix. The interview turned out to be Hendrix's last; he died a mere seven days later. During the interview, Hendrix talked about a new musical phase, with planned collaborations with Miles Davis and Paul McCartney.
1982 - Chicago started a two week run at No.1 on the US singles chart with 'Hard To Say I'm Sorry', the group's second US No.1. Taken from the film 'Summer Lovers', a No.4 hit in the UK.
1987 - Founder member of The Wailers, Peter Tosh, was shot dead at his home in Kingston Jamaica by armed robbers.
1987 - Peter Gabriel cleaned up at this year's MTV Awards, winning best video, best male video, best concept video, best special effects and five other awards for the track 'Sledgehammer'.
1987 - Level 42s 'It's Over', became the first CD video single to go on sale. It contained twenty minutes of music and five minutes of video (which remained unseen until CDV players went on sale).
1996 - Noel Gallagher walked out on the rest of Oasis half way through an American tour after a fight with his brother Liam in a hotel in Charlotte North Carolina. Noel flew back to London the following day.
2003 - Tommy Chong, one-half of the comedy team of Cheech and Chong, was sentenced to nine months in federal prison and fined $20,000 for selling drug paraphernalia over the Internet. The 65 year-old Chong pled guilty to the charges last May. He remained free until April, 2004, when he went to jail.
2019 - American songwriter and artist Daniel Johnston died of a suspected heart attack at his home in Waller, Texas, at the age of 58. Kurt Cobain once described him as 'the best songwriter on earth' and famously wore one of Johnston's t-shirts to the 1992 MTV Awards. Other musicians who have covered Johnston's songs include Pearl Jam, Tom Waits, Wilco, Death Cab for Cutie, Sufjan Stevens and Yo La Tengo.
FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 10:
1962 - The BBC banned Bobby 'Boris' Pickett and the Crypt Kickers single 'Monster Mash' saying it was offensive. The single went on to be a No.3 hit in 1973.
1963 - The Daily Mirror published a two-page article about The Beatles. Written by Donald Zec, the feature is entitled ‘Four Frenzied Little Lord Fauntleroys Who Are Earning 5,000 Pounds A Week’. Zec, who had attended a Beatles concert in Luton on Sept. 6 and then invited them to his home to complete the interview, referred to The Beatles' haircuts as ‘A stone-age hair style’. The article provided a major boost to their career.
1964 - The Kinks third single 'You Really Got Me', was at No.1 on the singles chart. Future Led Zeppelin founder and guitarist Jimmy Page played tambourine on the track.
1965 - The Byrds begin recording ‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’. Unlike their first hit, ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’, members of the group itself were permitted to play instead of session musicians.
1968 - The Beatles were at No.1 on the singles chart with ‘Hey Jude’, the group's 15th No.1 and the longest chart topper ever at seven minutes and ten seconds. The single was the first release on the group's Apple record label.
1974 - The New York Dolls split up. The influential American band formed in 1972 and made just two albums, the 1973 'New York Dolls' and 1974 'Too Much Too Soon'.
1991 - Nirvana's single 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' was released in the US. The unexpected success of 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' in late 1991 propelled Nevermind to the top of the charts at the start of 1992, an event often marked as the point where alternative rock entered the mainstream.
1996 - Music journalist Ray Coleman died of cancer. Coleman had worked with The Beatles and The Rolling Stones and had been the editor of the UK music weekly Melody Maker throughout the heyday of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones into the era of Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin.
2002 - Chris Cowey the man behind the longest running music TV show Top Of The Pops accused record bosses of controlling the singles chart with marketing scams and as a result the chart lacked credibility and was 'full of crap records.'
2005 - The 1967 Beatles track 'A Day In The Life' from Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was voted the best British song of all time by music experts. The survey by Q magazine called the track "the ultimate sonic rendition of what it means to be British". The Kinks' song 'Waterloo Sunset' came second in the poll and 'Wonderwall' by Oasis was voted in third place.
2007 - Pamela Anderson's ex-husband Kid Rock was involved in an alleged assault on drummer Tommy Lee (who was also married to the actress up until 1998). Police interviewed witnesses to a tussle involving the pair at the MTV Music Video Awards in Las Vegas. Lee was removed from the ceremony while Rock was allowed to stay.
2009 - A harmonica owned by Bob Dylan sold for £2,700 at auction in Norfolk, England, more than four times the guide price. The singer-songwriter had presented the chromonica harmonica, made by Hohner, to a member of his wardrobe department in 1974. Lifetime Dylan fan John Fellas of Gorleston, Norfolk, who wore Dylan-style sunglasses while bidding, outbid fans from across the world for the instrument. The inside of the harmonica case was signed and dedicated by Dylan. It had is expected to fetch more than £600 at the sale by Barnes Auctioneers. Fellas told reporters he was still plucking up the courage to tell his wife about what he had done.
2015 - American guitarist Don Griffin was killed in a car accident in Denver, Colorado. He was 60 years old. Griffin appeared on The Miracles 1976 No.1 hit, 'Love Machine' and had also worked with Anita Baker. Griffin's dance band Madagascar was signed by Clive Davis to Arista Records in 1981 and released the single 'Baby Not Tonight.
THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 9: