Archive for Elvis Presley

Rock & Roll Drama Queens

Posted in Rock Rant with tags , , , , , on January 27, 2013 by 30daysout
FLEETW

Annie Lebovitz’s (in)famous photo of Fleetwood Mac, back in the day.

This week the music world will celebrate the 35th anniversary of the landmark album Rumours, by Fleetwood Mac. The occasion is marked by the release Tuesday of a super deluxe, three-disc set of the 1977 album that went on to sell more than 40 million copies worldwide.

We’ve all heard the album many times, almost as many times  as we have also heard the soap opera that went on as the album was being recorded. Producer Ken Caillat told us a little about the intrigue, but apparently that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Apparently the best rock and roll is created when there’s tension, pressure and drama. Abbey Road, some of the Beatles’ greatest music, came together when the four members of the band could supposedly barely stand to be in the same room with each other. Elvis Presley’s finest hour came during his late 1960s “comeback,” dramatically righting a career that had become a series of horrible movies and bland soundtracks.

Rockers have had their share of hard times and downright tragedy, just like all of our other beloved entertainers. So let’s slap on a vintage vinyl copy of Rumours, and while it’s popping and ticking away, come with us down memory lane:

David Bowie is gay – Forty one years ago this month, David Bowie shocked no one when he announced to Melody Maker: “I’m gay and I always have been.” Well, probably the shocking part was that he had already been married to a woman.

Nevertheless, the announcement gave Bowie’s career new life. His album at the time, Hunky Dory, became a hit, and “Changes” would appear on the U.S. Billboard charts while “Starman” went to the top 10 in England. Later in 1972, Bowie released The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, also a hit and a critics’ favorite to this day. He’d close out the year with the single “John, I’m Only Dancing,” with homosexual overtones that would prevent its release in the United States.

Four years later, Bowie would confess to Playboy that he is really bisexual. At that point, very few people cared about his sexual orientation any more.

YouTube: David Bowie with “Oh You Pretty Things”

Eric Clapton is a heroin addict – Perhaps insecure about his abilities as a guitar player (despite the graffiti “Clapton Is God”) Eric Clapton became a serious drug addict in the late 1960s. Heroin was his drug of choice, and in his autobiography Clapton says when he wrote “Layla” to woo Patti Boyd from her then-husband George Harrison he was spending about $16,000 a week on the stuff.

Patti, in her own autobiography, remembers that when she finally hooked up with Clapton he kicked heroin by becoming an alcoholic. “He began in the morning and drank all day until four o’clock when Roger Forrester, his minder and later his manager, made him stop,” she writes. Clapton also dabbled in cocaine and hallucinogens along the way.

Clapton eventually cleaned himself up, long after he’d left Patti Boyd/Harrison/Clapton. He had some real tragedy in his life in 1991 when his four-year-old son (with another wife) fell out of an open window and was killed. Clapton channeled his grief into the hit song “Tears In Heaven,” which earned three Grammy Awards.

YouTube: Eric Clapton with “Cocaine”

Jerry Lee Lewis marries his cousin – In 1957, piano-pounding wild man Jerry Lee Lewis had already been married twice. He married his second wife before the divorce from his first was final, so it shouldn’t have been a shock if he married his third wife before the second divorce was also final.

Nobody noticed – because the Killer married Myra Brown, his third cousin! Who was only 13 years old! Both husband and wife downplayed it, saying it was pretty common in the part of the country they were from. Well, hardly anyone else saw it their way; it became a huge scandal in the U.S. and Europe and pretty much shut down Jerry Lee’s career.

Lewis would manage a bit of a comeback in the late 1960s-early 1970s as a country music performer. He and Myra would divorce in 1970. Lewis, still alive today at age 77, will always be remembered for his wild, unrepentant attitude and his “cradle robbing.”

For the record, when asked about his fellow Memphis musician’s troubles back then, Elvis Presley reportedly said if the two were truly in love, then getting married was all right with him. Of course, Elvis would later fall in love with a 14-year-old girl … but that’s another story.

YouTube: Jerry Lee Lewis with “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On”

Jim Morrison’s penis – Perhaps the greatest rock and roll drama queen was Jim Morrison, front man of The Doors. He was no stranger to run-ins with the law, but his most (in)famous arrest came in 1969, in Miami.

Visibly intoxicated during the concert, Morrison asked the crowd “You didn’t come here for music, did you?” He continued to rant and finally asked, “You want to see my cock?”  Ray Manzarek recalls that Morrison did some little peek-a-boo striptease thing with a bandana or something, and supposedly Mr. Mojo’s Risin’ was indeed seen.

At any rate, he was not charged until three weeks later, only after the incident became a huge media scandal. Morrison was charged with lewd and lascivious behavior (a felony with a maximum three-year sentence), indecent exposure, public drunkenness and such. After a lengthy and much publicized trial in 1970, Morrison was found guilty and sentenced to six months of hard labor on one charge, and 60 days of hard labor on another charge.

But he never went to prison – the sentence was still on appeal when Morrison died in Paris in 1971.

YouTube: Jim Morrison’s arrest coverage from 1969

Joe South, R.I.P.

Posted in News with tags , , on September 6, 2012 by 30daysout

Joe South

Singer-songwriter Joe South, who performed hits in the late 1960s and early 1970s such as “Games People Play” and “Walk A Mile In My Shoes” and also penned songs including “Down in the Boondocks” for other artists, died Wednesday. South was 72.

Early in his career South was best known as a session guitarist (he played on Tommy Roe’s “Sheila,” Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools” and Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde.

But he had a string of hits of his own starting in the late 1960s that made his booming voice a familiar one on radio stations, with a style that some described as a mix of country and soul.

South was inspired by the social upheaval of the day for “Games People Play,” which became his biggest hit in 1969.  “Games People Play” reached No. 12 on the Billboard charts in 1969 and won him two Grammys for Best Contemporary Song and Song of the Year.

He wrote another socially aware number, “Walk A Mile In My Shoes,” which was covered by Elvis Presley; a soulful “Don’t It Make You Want To Go Home,” covered by Brook Benton; “Hush” for Deep Purple; “Down in The Boondocks” for Billy Joe Royal; and perhaps biggest of all, the smash “(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden,” for Lynn Anderson.

Joe was a prolific album artist as well, he had a bright career in front of him as the 1970s dawned. But in 1971 South’s brother Tommy, who backed Joe on drums, committed suicide and it drove Joe into a deep depression.  At the peak of his career South basically quit the music business; although he still lived outside Atlanta and continued to write music, he rarely performed in his later years.

MP3: “Games People Play”

MP3: “Drown In My Own Tears”

MP3: “Revolution of Love”

MP3: “Hush” by Deep Purple

MP3 “Walk A Mile In My Shoes” (live) by Elvis Presley

36 Years Out: Elvis Presley Memorial Day

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , on August 16, 2012 by 30daysout

Elvis in velvet – he died 35 years ago today.

What can you say about Elvis that hasn’t already been said before?

Much can be said about his death, which happened 36 years ago today (August 16), give or take a few hours. His death may have affected more people than anyone else – well, maybe not.

As young as he was when he died (42 years old), listening to his work one gets the impression he left behind no unfinished statements in rock and roll. Elvis said it all –  when it needed to be said, and how it needed to be said.

His influence is deep and profound, and we still mourn his loss today. Amen.

MP3: “That’s All Right”

MP3: “Walk A Mile In My Shoes”

MP3: “Got My Mojo Working/Keep Your Hands Off It”

MP3: “Do The Clam”

MP3: “Promised Land”

MP3: “Shake, Rattle and Roll”

MP3: “Good Rockin’ Tonight”

MP3: “Burning Love”

MP3: “True Love Travels On A Gravel Road”

MP3: “Blue Moon of Kentucky”

MP3: “Such A Night”

MP3: “I Washed My Hands In Muddy Water”

MP3: “A Little Less Conversation” (JXL Remix)

MP3: “Are You Lonesome Tonight” (live, laughing version)

YouTube: “Trouble/Guitar Man” from the 1968 NBC-TV Singer Christmas Special (“The Comeback Special”)

(More Than) 40 Years Out: Tranquility Base Here

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 20, 2012 by 30daysout

Buzz Aldrin on the moon, 1969.

On this day in 1969, man set foot on the moon for the very first time. Looking at the photographs the astronauts shot that day, the moon seems like a fairly peaceful place. In fact, they called the landing site “Tranquility Base.”

Back on Earth, things weren’t so tranquil. Americans marched on Washington, D.C., to protest our involvement in the Vietnam War. The story of the My Lai massacre, where women and children were lined up in a ditch and shot, broke in the news. British troops were deployed to try and calm tensions in Northern Ireland. And so on.

It seemed like, on that one Sunday afternoon and evening, everything and everyone in the world just kind of stopped – if only for a few minutes, while two humans kicked up dust on the lunar surface. Many of us watched the shadowy figures on TV, live and in glorious grainy black and white.

Probably nobody really stopped what they were doing, but a teenager in Texas back then thought it would have been really cool if they did. And if we would have paid attention for a while, maybe we would have stopped fighting and yelling long enough share a little bit of wonder and pride in human accomplishment.

For just a minute or two … then we could get right back to killing each other. Which is what happened anyway.

Maybe one day we’ll go back to the moon, but many people will tell you there are infinitely more important ways to spend our time and money. And I suppose they are right. Still, somebody is going to get back there eventually. Tranquility Base will always be there, ready and waiting for us to start dreaming again.

MP3: “Moonlight” by Bob Dylan

MP3: “Bad Moon Rising” by Creedence Clearwater Revival

MP3: “Yellow Moon” (live) by the Neville Brothers

MP3: “Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins” by The Byrds

MP3: “Silver Moon” by Michael Nesmith & the First National Band

MP3: “Halo ‘Round The Moon” by Steve Earle

MP3: “Moon Dawg” by The Beach Boys

MP3: “Man On The Moon” by R.E.M.

MP3: “Moonlight Drive” (live) by The Doors

MP3: “Armstrong” by John Stewart

MP3: “Blue Moon” by Elvis Presley

MP3: “Kiko and the Lavender Moon” by Los Lobos

MP3: “Bark At The Moon” by Ozzy Osbourne

MP3: “Mountains Of The Moon” (live) by The Grateful Dead

MP3: “Brain Damage/Eclipse” by Pink Floyd

Bah, Humbug! More Worst Christmas Songs Ever

Posted in Christmas with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 22, 2011 by 30daysout

We must have been in a hurry to put up our last post on this subject because we missed a whole bunch of holiday stinkers. Here is the rest of our list of the best of the worst Christmas songs of all-time:

“Last Christmas” by Wham

Released in 1984, shortly after we were introduced to George Michael and his white short shorts.

“The Chipmunk Song” by Alvin and the Chipmunks

I thought it was cute in sixth grade, but I heard it the other day and it was a long 2:23.

“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” by GLEE Cast

Like the great Kevin Dorsey used to say on 101 KLOL in Houston…”I just don’t know anymore.”

“Wonderful Christmastime” by Paul McCartney

I love Paul McCartney, but this song sounds like he got a new Casio for Christmas and had a lot of time to kill.

“Blue Christmas” by Elvis Presley

Elvis sounds fine and the song is not horrible, but the background singers kill it.

“Dominick the Donkey”

Anyone have Tony Soprano’s number? Maybe he can whack the stronzo who wrote this scoreggia.

“Step Into Christmas” by Elton John

This one never did anything for me. Sounds like a throwaway that was turned into a Christmas tune.

“Toyland” by Doris Day

Heard this for the first time this morning and it will be the last.

“The 12 Days of Christmas” by The Sinatra Family

I can picture rich people sitting around the tree singing this version as the help serves them another cup of egg nog.

Deep South: Jeannie C. Riley and Joe South

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , on September 19, 2011 by 30daysout

Jeannie C. Riley

I once read an article that called singer Jeannie C. Riley a “corn-pone Nancy Sinatra.” Funny, but that’s not far off the mark. Riley, a Texas gal, hit it big in 1968 with the anthem-of-sorts “Harper Valley P.T.A.” That made her the first woman to top the Billboard Top 100 charts and the country charts at the same time.

She followed up that smash with a number of other successful tunes, like “The Girl Most Likely” and “The Back Side of Dallas.” Often seen on TV wearing a miniskirt, Riley sold a pre-fab countrypolitan sex appeal just a few steps ahead of the corn-pone cheesecake of “Hee Haw.” (Sorry.) Although that image was kind of groundbreaking for Nashville at the time, it pretty much locked her and stunted her artistic growth.

Riley was admired as a strong-willed individual, probably for the in-your-face rebelliousness and self-righteousness of “Harper Valley” and “Generation Gap.” But she more likely a producer’s plaything – after all, most of her tunes were penned by Nashville pros (Tom T. Hall wrote “Harper Valley P.T.A.”) and her albums each had a handful of more traditional songs calculated to balance out Riley’s more progressive numbers.

On 1970’s The Generation Gap, perhaps Riley’s finest, for each “Generation Gap,” the sassy “To The Other Woman” and even the weirdly psychedelic “Words, Names, Faces,” there are a handful of tunes more typical of conventional country music. On that album Riley even launches a version of Merle Haggard’s right-wing classic “Okie From Muskogee,” making for a perfectly schizoid experience.

Jeannie C. Riley kept performing into the 1980s, even though she became a born-again Christian. Sometime in the 1990s she suffered clinical depression and pretty much dropped out of the spotlight.

MP3: “Generation Gap”

MP3: “Fine Feathered Friends”

MP3: “Words, Names, Faces”

MP3: “To The Other Woman”

YouTube: “Harper Valley P.T.A.”

One of the best tunes on Riley’s The Generation Gap was a song by singer/songwriter Joe South, “Games People Play.” South was best known as a session guitarist (he played on Tommy Roe’s “Sheila,” Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools” and Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde.

South was inspired by the social upheaval of the day for “Games People Play,” which became his biggest hit in 1969. He wrote another socially aware number, “Walk A Mile In My Shoes,” which was covered by Elvis Presley; a soulful “Don’t It Make You Want To Go Home,” covered by Brook Benton; “Hush” for Deep Purple; “Down in The Boondocks” for Billy Joe Royal; and perhaps biggest of all, the smash “(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden,” for Lynn Anderson.

Joe South

Joe was a prolific album artist as well, he had a bright career in front of him as the 1970s dawned. But in 1971 South’s brother Tommy, who backed Joe on drums, committed suicide and it drove Joe into a deep depression.  At the peak of his career South basically quit the music business; although he still lives outside Atlanta and continues to write music, he rarely performs.

MP3: “Games People Play”

MP3: “Drown In My Own Tears”

MP3: “Revolution of Love”

MP3: “Hush” by Deep Purple

MP3 “Walk A Mile In My Shoes” (live) by Elvis Presley

YouTube: “Don’t It Make You Want To Go Home” by Joe South

Attention, Walmart shoppers!

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , , , , , on June 18, 2011 by 30daysout

Treasures await you at Walmart.

The other day I cut out of work a little early because I had to get some groceries for supper. So I thought I’d save some time and pennies by dropping in to the local Walmart. My attention was diverted by one of their distinctive “discount bins,” this one with CDs for five bucks apiece.

All this for 20 bucks!

Now this bin had nothing really rare, and there was an awful lot of junk – Reba to rappers to crappy country, you had to dig for the rock and roll. And although I already own most of this music, I found some keepers: Destroyer by KISS, Captured by Journey, a Lynyrd Skynyrd collection.

I also picked up Flashback with the Grateful Dead, a shallow best-of on Rhino Records’ budget Flashback label. With “Truckin’,” “China Cat Sunflower,” “U.S. Blues,” “Shakedown Street” and “Touch of Grey” among others, it’s a nice one to have in the car. Same with Journey’s 1981 effort Escape: studio versions of “Don’t Stop Believin’,” “Stone In Love” and “Open Arms,” and four bonus tracks including live versions of “Believin'” and “Open Arms” (recorded in Houston!).

There were a lot of those Millennium Collection discs from the Who, Aerosmith, Eric Clapton, Steppenwolf and others, as well as must-haves like School’s Out by Alice Cooper, The Captain and Me from the Doobie Brothers and Live at Budokan from Ozzy Osbourne. And there were some Elvis collections, lumping his stuff in packages like Elvis Country and Elvis Rock – a few well-known tunes surrounded by a shitload of filler.

I really didn’t need another copy of Destroyer and I probably won’t listen to the live Journey Captured unless I’m really drunk. But it felt strangely good to buy music in a physical form, even if it was at a Walmart. So if you need to get your classic rock on, or just need a CD or two to spin at your July 4 cookout, you know where to go.

MP3: “King Of The Night Time World” by KISS (from Destroyer)

MP3: “Too Late” (live) by Journey (from Captured)

MP3: “Shakedown Street” by the Grateful Dead