Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Definitive Beatles - If You Bought Only One Beatles Album Which One Would it Be?

By Darren S Michaels

The Beatles - Revolver

Before you say "What about Sergeant Pepper?" let me explain. "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" was a landmark album and changed music forever but is it a good album? Does it contain the most listenable tracks? The answer is no. The best place to start with The Beatles is Revolver.

Released in 1966 it was a landmark in music recording, is viewed as one of the first psychedelic albums and set The Beatles, apart, artistically, from all of their peers. Rumours are that when Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys heard The Beatles previous album "Rubber Soul" he vowed to better it with his own album "Pet Sounds". When he heard "Revolver" this sent him into a spiral of depression for twenty years.

From the opening riff of "Taxman" (which is about the UK's 95% tax rate at the time for the super-rich) to the closing backwards sounds of "Tomorrow Never Knows" there is not a single weak track - even the compulsory George Harrison sitar track (Love You To) and the Ringo Starr party song (Yellow Submarine) are good.

This album also demonstrates what set their songs apart from the usual "I love her" songs of the time which was the story-telling aspect - it depicts a world of lonely women, over prescribing doctors, dying relationships and greedy politicians, all partying on a yellow submarine.

And for any hippies who say "What about The White Album" let me remind you of one of my mottos - NO SPRAWLING DOUBLE ALBUMS. What Album Should I Try Next? - Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

What Album Should I Avoid? - This is THE BEATLES we are talking about - there isn't anything.

Darren Michaels has been IT for over 20 years and has worked for many of the UK largest companies. His principal skills are as an IBM mainframe cobol programmer but outsourcing has forced him to rethink his career. At present, he is working as a web site designer as a franchisee for Activ Web Design covering the Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire area in the UK, specialising in fixed price websites for small businesses. He is also a keen writer and is currently writing articles based on his professional knowledge and his personal passions - soccer, poker and music.

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

5 Easy Acoustic Guitar Songs From the 60s

By Gary Fletcher

The 60s is known as the golden age of pop, a time when this music was fresh and new, a time too when some of the best guitar music was made by legendary groups like The Beatles and the Rolling Stones. This article presents 5 easy acoustic guitar songs from the swinging sixties.

The Beatles, Love, Love Me Do

The emblematic pop group of the sixties The Beatles stormed the charts world wide with numerous hits. Love Me Do was their first single released on 5 October 1962 and is easy to play with four simple guitar chords. It's also easy to get everyone to sing along to, everybody knows this one. On the verses the song alternates between G and C chords. For the bridge play D, C, F and G twice.

The Rolling Stones, Can't Get No Satisfaction

The Rolling Stones is another legendary group with its origins in the 1960's. Released in 1965, I Can't Get No Satisfaction became their fourth UK number one and is one of their most familiar hits. The song made the number two spot in Rolling Stone magazines 2004 list of the 500 greatest songs of all time. All you need to play this legendary title are the easy open guitar chords A, D and E.

Simon and Garfunkel, Sound Of Silence

Think of the sixties and acoustic guitar and the sounds of the duo of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel is never far away. These beatnick poets symbolise the spirit of 60s America. The Sound Of Silence is their best known hit and propelled them to stardom, reaching number one on new year's day 1966. Play it on acoustic guitar with Em, D, C and G chords.

Bob Dylan, Blowin' In The Wind

Another hugely influential artist of the sixties American folk scene, Bob Dylan's discography offers numerous opportunities to find easy acoustic guitar songs to play. I've chosen Blowin' In The Wind, the first song I ever learned to play on guitar with the three open guitar chords A, D and E. Check out more Bob Dylan titles for easy to play acoustic guitar songs to increase your repertoire.

Donovan, Colours

Another acoustic guitar song I learned early on from British folk singer Donovan. This beautiful song sounds really great with a simple finger picking arrangement, but you can simply strum along and it will sound just fine. Uses the open guitar chords D and G for the verse and an additional A7 on the chorus.

Want to learn to play guitar? Take the next steps to becoming a better player? Gary Fletcher shares tips and lessons you can use at

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Magical Mystery Tour, a Beatles Retrospective For All Generations

By Emily Cary

Did you ever wish you could have attended a Beatles concert? Not to worry. The Classical Mystery Tour may be coming to your town soon.

Jim Owen has been a fan of both classical music and the Beatles since childhood. While attending a concert that featured some Beatles music, the idea came to him that audiences would love attending a concert of all-Beatles music played like symphonic numbers.

The opportunity came in 1994 when he was taking part-time music classes at California State University in Long Beach. He went into the office looking for the name of someone who would be good at making arrangement of charts and was directed to Dr. Martin Herman, a professor of music who turned out to be a big Beatles fan. When Owen mentioned his vision of a symphonic Beatles concert, Herman could not wait to start working on it.

The result is Classical Mystery Tour, a natural for symphony orchestras everywhere. The program covers favorite songs that Herman transcribed directly from Beatles recordings It begins with their early music right down to the solo years, all backed by the full orchestra.

Just as the most recent performance with the National Symphony Orchestra packed Washington's Kennedy Center Concert Hall for three evenings, this tribute to the Fab Four has played to enthusiastic crowds in many cities on several continents. It features four performers holding impressive credits as Beatles interpreters. Best of all, each bears an uncanny resemblance to the artist he represents in both voice and appearance.

Owen, who portrays John Lennon on rhythm guitar and piano, has toured internationally with productions of "Beatlemania" since the age of 18. Tony Kishman, a member of the national and international tours of "Beatlemania," is Paul McCartney on bass guitar and piano. Tom Teeley on lead guitar starred as George Harrison in both the Broadway production and the film version of "Beatlemania." Chris Camilleri as Ringo Starr rounds out the foursome. A founding member of the Beatles copy band Liverpool, Camilleri has performed at the Beatlefest national conventions since 1979. All four contribute to the vocals.

The format of the program is a chronological representation of the Beatles catalog. It opens with a big orchestral medley of Beatles songs arranged for an overture and lasting six minutes. The costuming changes with each musical period. The performers open in black suits to give a sense of their appearance during the early period, then change into outfits appropriate for "A Hard Day's Night" and "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club."

After the intermission, they are into the later 60s look with the Abbey Road outfits for "Magic Mystery Tour." That section includes a couple of solos, among them John's "Imagine" sung by Owen. They close with "Penny Lane," "I Am A Walrus," "The Long and Winding Road" and "Eleanor Rigby," songs all suited to an orchestra.
Becoming John Lennon on stage gives Owen great joy. He loves performing in great halls that offer a rich, live sound to ensnare even those who do not arrive as Beatles fans.

"The music is not only good, but it sends a positive message," he says. "Everyone is uplifted when they hear songs like 'Hey Jude' and 'All You Need Is Love.' These are the happy moments people remember."
Emily Cary is a prize-winning teacher and novelist whose articles about entertainers appear regularly in the DC Examiner. She is a genealogist, an avid traveler, and a researcher who incorporates landscapes, cultures and the power of music in her books and articles.

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

If You Only Buy One Album by Jimi Hendrix What Would it Be?

By Darren S Michaels

#1 - The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Are You Experienced?

Surprisingly, for a group that only released three studio albums, it is a difficult choice but I have gone for their first album "Are You Experienced?". The other possible choice was Electric Ladyland but as mentioned earlier NO SPRAWLING DOUBLE ALBUMS.

Formed in 1966 the group was brought together by Chas Chandler and featured Jimi Hendrix with Mitch Mitchell on drums and Noel Redding on bass. "Are you Experienced?" was released initially in the UK in 1967, minus the singles that had previously been released, and was only kept from the #1 spot by The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. It was released in the US later in the year with a change in the track listing, which was common pratice at the time.

So why "Are You Experienced?" Well, the recent CD versions have the original UK album, the singles that weren't included on the original album and the tracks excluded from the US version so plays almost like a greatest hits of their early work and include tracks like Purple Haze and Hey Joe. It includes most of the songs you already know and is the most accessible of the Hendrix albums - no 15 minute jams, no meandering lyrics - just a number of short, snappy, killer tracks. This is why it regularly appears on various "Best of" lists from the likes of Rolling Stone and VH1.

Oh, it also includes "Fire" which ITV in the UK are using to advertise the 2010 World Cup.

Taster Track -

What album should I try next? - Electric Ladyland (Sprawling double album warning)

What album should I avoid? - Nothing really

Darren Michaels has been IT for over 20 years and has worked for many of the UK largest companies. His principal skills are as an IBM mainframe cobol programmer but outsourcing has forced him to rethink his career. At present, he is working as a web site designer as a franchisee for Activ Web Design covering the Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire area in the UK, specialising in fixed price websites for small businesses. He is also a keen writer and is turning his skills to article writing on his professional knowledge and his personal passions - soccer, poker and music.

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Growing Up in Aurora, NC in the 1960s - Segregation

By Larry B Gray

While watching a show on "The History Channel" recently about the turmoil of the 1960's there was a sign over a water fountain that said "White Only". This brought back memories of being a young boy in the 1950's and 1960's.

Growing up in eastern North Carolina segregation was the way of life in the 50's and 60's. Because it was predominantly a rural farming area a large percentage of the population was "colored". At the time this was the polite way to referring to African Americans as oppose to the "N" word, which was also widely used. Segregation affected all aspects of life. You knew the unwritten rules and you followed them.

One event that I clearly remember occurred at my great granddad's funeral. A few of the black people who had worked for him for many years asked Granddaddy if they could go to the funeral. He said yes. When they came into the church they sat on the back pew. I still remember people in the next pew getting up and moving. When my grandmother died in the 1980's the black woman who had worked for them and helped her for years sat with the family. Different times.

I still remember the signs over the water fountains/coolers in Washington and other towns, designating them as "White Only" and a few, in out of the way places, marked "Colored Only". This was one of the rules I always found a little funny having worked on Granddad's farm. All the people who worked for him where black except me. When we were out in the fields working on a hot day Granddad would bring water out in a gallon glass jug and we would pass it around, everyone drinking out of the same jug. When you left the field the rules changed and you were white and they were colored again.

There were "White Only" signs on all the public bathrooms in the stores and other places. I remember behind "the dime store", on Main St in Washington there was a wooden building which was marked "Colored Only" and I was told that was the bathrooms for them.

A lot of the department stores had dining areas but they were for "Whites Only". You never saw colored people sitting in them. Usually there was one small corner of the counter where they could place a "to go" order but they could not sit while they waited. This is one of the reasons these became a target of early civil rights sit-ins.

I can remember going to the movies at the theater and blacks had to sit in one small section in the back of the balcony. This was after they went to a separate entrance marked "Colored Only" to buy their tickets. This was not unusual as there were separate entrances and waiting rooms for "Colored Only" for bus and train stations, doctor's offices, and hospitals. Almost all public places and businesses were segregated.

When the county fair came to town in the fall you never saw blacks there. During the week long event there was one day designated for the colored people to go and you knew not to go on that day.

This all began to slowly change in the late 1960's but not without issues. There were very vocal people on both sides of the issue voicing their opinion whether right or wrong. When I was around 13 or 14 it was announced Aurora High School would begin partial integration in the next school year. I remember this is when the negative talk became the loudest even to the point of a large KKK rally being held in the Aurora area. Times were changing and nothing was going to hold back progress. The next school year Aurora High School was partially integrated.

Even though it only involved approximately 12 black kids coming to our school it was a major change. The kids were all from the Porters Creek area and I had worked with some of them on Grand Dad's farm but I never acknowledged them. I still remember the first day when they came into school and we all looked at them wondering what was going to happen especially after seeing all the integration trouble on TV. Thinking back you could see fear in both the black kids and the whites because our world was changing. There were no issues that day and for the next two years. We were fortunate that the change went smoothly unlike some schools.

Then in September of 1968 full integration began. The SW Snowden High School, formerly the colored school, became the elementary school with grades 1 through 6. Aurora High School became the high school with grades 7 through 12. Again there were no real issues. There were a lot of changes in the mindset of many people which had to be made by both sides. Once we fully integrated the white kids became the minority as there were approximately two black students to every one white student. It was different.

Even though the schools were integrated old beliefs and ways held on. I played basketball on the high school team and we went from an all white team to just Craig and I being the only white boys on the team. This made for interesting comments when we played all white, non-integrated, schools in the area. One of my good friends from school and basketball was Kelvin. We played ball together for three years and became close friends at practice and at school. I never invited him to my house or asked him to go hangout with my other friends because deep down I was conditioned that this was not done. Old ways are hard to change and I look back with remorse and think how ridiculous those beliefs were.

A friend/classmate related another story to me of how strong attitudes were back then. She was a cheerleader who lived near the school. Another friend of ours and a cheerleader who was black did not have a ride back to school for the games so she would sit on the school steps until game time, sometimes several hours. My one friend would ask her mother if she could come over to her house to wait but her mother refused because she was worried what the neighbors would think. My friend would then make them both a sandwich and go back to school and wait with her on the steps.

A lot of people would like to forget about this and erase it from their minds and our history. Yet, it is just that, our history. We need to remember our good times and our bad times, not dwelling on them but learning from them. History that is forgotten or lost has a way of repeating itself until we learn the truth from it. Slavery, segregation, and the mistreatment of our fellow man needs to be remembered. Teach it to our children so the same mistakes will not be made again. This too was part of growing up in Aurora NC.

Larry Gray. I was born and grew up in Eastern North Carolina in the small rural town of Aurora. After marrying my high school sweetheart I moved to Lakeland, Florida where I spent my adult years raising a beautiful family and working in the Citrus Industry, selling real estate ( and being a writer wannabe ( Come join me on this great adventure, remembering the past and building the future

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Friday, June 25, 2010

The New James Taylor Easy Guitar Tab Book

By Eddie Kisah

James Taylor certainly is one of my all time favorite artists, although mostly known as a singer to evergreen numbers such as Fire and Rain, Carolina In My Mind and You've Got a Friend, he is also a virtuoso fingerstyle guitar player in his own rights. His intricate finger picking style is prominent in his songs that never fail to make their way in to our hearts. If you're looking for an easy way to learn some of these classic tunes on the guitar, now you can.

'The New Best of James Taylor for Guitar: Easy TAB Deluxe' is a highly accurate transcription of some of the best songs recorded by the artist. It is notated with a guitar 'TAB' and also features complete lyrics for every track. With this book, you can expect to learn 12 songs which are: Cooperline, Country Road, Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight, Fire and Rain, Mexico, Millworker, Shower the People, Steamroller, Sweet Baby James, Walking Man, You've Got a Friend and Your Smiling Face.

If you're a complete beginner, it would be a good idea to spend some time on dedicated finger picking lessons, as a through understanding of the basic in this style of playing will help you a great deal when working with this book.

One thing about TAB books is that, it will only be the most useful when you already know what a particular song should sounds like prior to studying it. For that reason, you are going to need the original recording by your side as reference. By the way, there's nothing better than hearing the original recording by James Taylor himself.

If you're a James Taylor fan that plays guitar, this is a really great book worth checking out. Drop by to my blog and find out where you can get great deal for the book. Thanks for reading!

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T-Bone Walker - Master Guitar Playing Blues Man

By Bruce B Lamb

Blues music has been famous for a long time and there are many renowned artists in the music industry who are responsible for making it this way. There are many young and old people across the world today who are so influenced by this kind of music that it is the only source of their inspiration. There have been many artists on the rise who have tried to become great blues musicians however, no one can really beat the power of the blues musicians from the 90s era.

They were some of the best and are so regarded even today. Many of them were even awarded well and have been inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Their music still sells worldwide and their concerts are something people would still give so much to attend. These people have really carved a niche for themselves and created a very powerful kind of genre for the world of music.

Blues is very soulful music and it is something that touches the heart. Over the years, there have been a number of variations of this kind of music as it has slowly descended from the nineties into the two thousand era.

But even then, till about fifty years ago, there was a man by the name of T-Bone Walker who is solely responsible for making some of the best blues music that people have ever heard and even today in many bars, pubs and cafes, his music is widely played and acknowledged. It is also a source of inspiration for many young people all around the world because his unique style of playing blues music incorporates the use of the electric guitar as well and is not all soft and harmonious.

If you want to learn to play the blues guitar then you must learn to take inspiration from people like him. He has been known for his music, and if anything, you will definitely learn the art of making music and new compositions by listening to his stuff.

He himself has taken a great amount of his inspiration from people like Jimi Hendrix and BB King and if you go along his footsteps then the music you make yourself will be bound to have a lot of variation of fresh tunes and grooves.

You can easily learn how to play guitar by taking up beginner guitar lessons either on the internet or by joining some guitar tutorials in your area. This way you will also meet a number of people interested in the same kind of music and it will be easier for you to jam with others and come up with new compositions and lyrics all the time.

Bruce Lamb is the founder of The Guitar WorkShop, and inventor of the Guitar Flight Case the Clam. Visit for awesome learn to play guitar lessons. Also check out the crazy videos if your ever thinking about taking your guitar on an airline.

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Junior Wells the Hoodoo Man - A Tribute

By Bruce B Lamb

There are many people who are famous for playing the blues, especially in the 90s. One such man was called Junior Wells and he was quite known for being able to play the harmonica beautifully. One of his albums, that was called "Hoodoo Man Blues" is said to be one of the best recorded blues albums of all times.

There are many people that still take inspiration from this great man while trying to learn how to play blues music. He also joined up with many other blues artists in order to play music with them, make compositions with them and create music that the world had never heard before.

If you are someone who is really interested in blues music, then you ought to have heard of Junior Wells. He took all his inspiration from the country side of Chicago because that is where he grew up and heard all the music that inspired him to make some of his own very best compositions.

It was there that he grew up watching a lot of his older friends play the blues and picked up so much from them that he feels indebted to them too. Chicago blues lessons have become famous only because of this one man. He is the one who has brought them into the picture and has given this kind of blues music a different and unique style, and separate genre altogether.

If you want to learn to play the blues guitar then you must begin listening to his music. It is sure to provide you with a great amount of inspiration and influence you to a great deal as to what it is that you should be making and doing in the field of music.

The best thing you can do is to either join a tutorial somewhere near your place so that you can learn the blues guitar with a bunch of other people. This always helps to provide a lot of confidence to a first time player and subsequently will also help you to jam with other people and make your own compositions.

There are many different kinds of websites that can be found with great ease on the internet that would teach people how to play blues guitar. It is very easy to pick up from them too, and if you have time enough to spare for it, then it is good enough.

The internet is the best place to pick up such music from because you can even browse through and view other people's compositions and listen to other kinds of music and try and, merge it with your blues compositions to try and create new sounds and styles.

Bruce Lamb is the founder of The Guitar WorkShop, and inventor of the Guitar Flight Case the Clam. Visit for awesome learn to play blues guitar lessons. Also check out the crazy videos if your ever thinking about taking your guitar on an airline.

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Blind Lemon Jefferson King of the Country Blues

By Bruce B Lamb

Blues music has made itself popular over the years and great credit goes to all the blues artists who have come up so well and established this genre of music, and it made it renowned among people. There are many artists who are responsible for putting this form of music on the map and for making more than half the world fall in love with it.

Blues music is very soft and hits the soul instantly. One can even dance and sway to it with a great amount of enthusiasm. Some of the best known blues artists have all taken their inspiration from the country side and from the melodious tunes that they can gather from there.

People like Blind Lemon Jefferson are now known all over and their music is still played and listened to in many pubs and bars all around the world where blues music still prevails.

Blind Lemon Jefferson was popular in the early nineties and that was the time when blues music also began to put itself in view of other listeners of music. He recorded a number of albums, some of which are great hits even today. His music has always provided inspiration to many young and old people alike.

Most of the youth that is into blues music would have heard of him because of the wonderful tunes that he created in his time. They still take inspiration from him and it is great to be able to hear his music and look at his videos even today because those itself are a great source of inspiration and many people are able to make their own compositions by just taking a tiny bit of help from his works.

If you are someone who is greatly into blues music and would love to learn to play the blues guitar, then the time is now, because if you do not learn it now, you will be putting it off for later which will cease to come and blues music is something that has to be learnt when your heart and soul is completely in it. If you want to learn how to play like the great Blind Lemon Jefferson blues guitar itself, then you must practice and take a good look and hearing to his music on the daily.

If you are wondering that learning how to play the blues guitar is tough, then you must think twice. These days everything has become so easy with the advent of the internet and you will find blues guitar lessons and tutorials on the internet itself, free of cost. Thus, what are you waiting for? You should instantly just pick up that guitar and get into the groove.

Bruce Lamb is the founder of The Guitar WorkShop, and inventor of the Guitar Flight Case the Clam. Visit for awesome learn to play blues guitar lessons. Also check out the crazy videos if your ever thinking about taking your guitar on an airline.

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Jimm Reed - Hey Big Boss Blues Man

By Bruce B Lamb

Blues music has taken the world over like a storm. Many people believe that it does not exist anymore and only lived up to its expectations in the 90s. However, that is not true, because there were a number of great blues artists that made some excellent music in their time, and theirs is the music that people still listen to today.

One such example is Jimm Reed. He was greatly known for the kind of blues music he played. His influences were mainly from other people and artists that played the similar style of music during his time, and today he has proved to be an inspiration to many people including the youth in terms of the same genre of music.

Jimm Reed was a black artist in the United States of America and during those days there, when apartheid reigned, it was very hard for him to approach a global audience and get his music heard by all people despite the difference of skin color of each other. He struggled a great deal and made some excellent music for which he is honored even today. If you are a big blues fan, then you must know his name for sure.

Apart from signing, Jimm Reed was also a great lyricist and composer. He has composed and written some of the best blues songs of all times that are even sung, played and hummed in pubs and bars around the world, even today. He was even quite renowned all over for being able to play the harmonica so well, and is greatly acknowledged for that even today.

If you are interested in learning how to play blues music, then you must instantly listen to all of his songs and some of his best known works because Reed has been known to be a great inspiration for all surviving and struggling blues artists even today. You can easily learn Jimmy Reed blues songs from the internet because you will find a number of chord charts and videos that will teach you to do the same.

If you want to know how to play the blues guitar, then you must learn it quick because it is a style of music that is getting lost today and holds great importance from the yesteryears. There are many people out there who would be willing to teach you how to play the blues guitar.

If you want to learn blues guitar then fear not because the internet will be your friend and teacher all along the way if you are unable to find someone who can teach it to you near your place. You will be able to master it with time, and you will love it soon after.

Bruce Lamb is the founder of The Guitar WorkShop, and inventor of the Guitar Flight Case the Clam. Visit for awesome learn to play blues guitar lessons like John Lee Hooker. Also check out the crazy videos if your ever thinking about taking your guitar on an airline.

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John Lee Hooker - A Tribute to the Blues Boogie Man

By Bruce B Lamb

Those who are into blues music extensively probably still remember a modest man who went by the name of John Lee Hooker. He was a great musician who played blues music; right after the world war took place. He soon became renowned, first all over the United States of America, and then slowly he took his stance across the world.

He was born in the countryside and his music also took most of its influence from there itself. He is very well known for establishing the 'talking blues' which is known as his style of playing music. He is also quite well known for bringing boogie music into play and making it famous among not only the youth at that time, but also the older generations.

When he was young, the boy was made to listen to a large number of religious songs and such music because his father only believed in that. However, soon after his mother married another man and this new father of Hooker was interested in blues music and was the one who introduced him to the same.

It is because of him that Hooker became addicted to the kind of music and began composing his own tunes as well. Another great thing about his songs is the way he wrote each and every line pertaining to it.

All the lyrics that he wrote have achieved a great amount of commendation and people find them very easy going yet something to think about. Many feel that the lyrics were an outcome of the situation that prevailed around Hooker at the time and slowly by, one can even notice the change in the maturity of the music.

If you are someone who wants to learn to play the blues then you must listen to John Lee Hooker. His music is something that you will fall in love with and gain a great amount if inspiration from. His very unique styles of playing will also enable and help you to try and come up with your own blues compositions with time.

Over the years John Lee Hooker Blues licks a number of recording artists and studios and with time he has been able to record over a century of albums. He has also sung duets with many other notable artists like Carlos Santana and is very well respected and known in the music industry.

Today, there are many young people who look up to him and would love to be like him, take inspiration from him, and play the kind of music that he played throughout the changing eras. He has been given a number of awards for his great works and he was also introduced in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Bruce Lamb is the founder of The Guitar WorkShop, and inventor of the Guitar Flight Case the Clam.

Visit for awesome learn to play blues guitar lessons like John Lee Hooker. Also check out the crazy videos if your ever thinking about taking your guitar on an airline.

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Randy Newman - Know More About Him

By Alfred Ardis

Randy Newman was born on November 28, 1943 in Los Angeles, California. His full legal name is Randall Stuart Newman. His mother, Adele, was a secretary and his father, Irving George Newman, was a physician.

When Randy was a baby, he moved with his parents back to his mother's home state of Louisiana. Even after eventually moving back to Los Angeles, he still spent his childhood summers in New Orleans until he was eleven years old. He graduated from the Los Angeles school, University High and took college classes at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Although his parents weren't directly involved in the musical scene, three of his paternal uncles were composers for Hollywood films. He also had two cousins and a nephew who were composers. At the age of seventeen years old, he joined the tradition of his extended family to become a professional composer himself. He released his first single at the age of eighteen.

Newman is a singer and songwriter. Many talented artists have performed his compositions over the years. He is also a musical arranger and pianist.

During the nineteen-sixties, Gene Pitney, Jerry Butler, The O'Jays, Cilla Black and Irma Thomas began to record his songs. He also became a member of a band called The Tikis. The Tikis later renamed themselves Harpers Bizarre and became well known for a version of "Feeling Groovy" which was a Paul Simon song.

Some of his most famous tunes and lyrics are quite sarcastic, which is one of his trademark components. "I Love L.A." has both positive and negative things to say about the metropolis, but it is a popular tune either way. "Short People" is a spoof about people who are of smaller stature. He often wrote lyrics that were from another's perspective, such as a tune called "Political Science" in the narrating voice of a U.S. citizen  complaining about lack of global gratitude for his country. He has written musical scores for many films, including Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Ragtime and The Natural, just to name a few.

He had been nominated for fifteen Oscars for his music before finally winning one in 2001. This award was for the Academy Award Best Original Song for the tune "If I Didn't Have You" from the movie "Monsters, Inc." He was overcome with emotion when he finally won, as the competition was quite stiff. Paul McCarney, Sting and Enya were the competitors whom he'd triumphed over. During his acceptance speech, he received a standing ovation.

Randy Newman continues to dazzle the world with his musical talents. Having won two Emmy Awards and four Grammy Awards along with the Oscar, he keeps on going strong.

In Louisiana grand piano dealers have the instrument you are looking for whether you are a beginning student or a veteran player. They carry a fine selection of used and reconditioned instruments as well. To know more, visit

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Simon and Garfunkel - Team Returns for North American Shows‏

by Pat Smith

Like so many other musicians who have hailed from the era of bell-bottoms and flower power, it all starts with a jazz fest. Simon and Garfunkel have finally reunited with a North American tour that opens with a jazz-themed event. Headlining the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival April 23-24, the team will hit Canada through the middle of May before they travel through cities like Uncasville, Conn. and Atlantic City, N.J. through the end of the month.

Fans are anxiously awaiting new material and live performances, although some got a preview of Simon and Garfunkel's 21st century work during an impromptu performance at New York City's Beacon Theater last February.

If you haven't forgotten about this remarkable duo from yesteryear, pick up Simon and Garfunkel tickets online. Although the duo isn't necessarily planning on revealing new tracks, the group will perform some of their classic hits along with singles that have individually allowed them to continue to perform since 1970. The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival performance will jumpstart the tour and after that the "Mrs. Robinson" duo will hit the road.

"Over the years I've always enjoyed performing at Jazz Fest," Paul Simon said in a press release following the April 24th announcement the duo would be playing. "Everyone connected with the Festival, and in particular Quint Davis, has created an atmosphere that is both musical and enjoyable. I am looking forward to the opportunity to perform with my old friend Art Garfunkel at this year's festival." The show is bound to be legendary as these renowned performers have rarely come together in the three-plus decades since the split.

The famous duo that created hit singles like tracks from The Graduate and the sensational hit Bridge over Troubled Water most recently returned to celebrate 25 years of rock and roll. Along with Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Crosby, Still, Nash and Friends along with others, the duo performed at Madison Square Garden to celebrate over two decades of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The October performance was the first time in many years that Simon and Garfunkel performed as a team. Now they have reunited once again as they visit several cities through Canada and the United States, through spring.

The month-long tour marks just one of several times over the past four decades that Simon and Garfunkel's names have popped up in the mainstream. Though fans were elated at the sounds of their music during the Hall of Fame fest, they had only just been replenished with such material months earlier when the digital LP Live 1969 appeared in April 2009.

The release featured singles from some of their most famous albums - part acoustic and part electric - that were never released. Written in the liner notes according to the group's website, Live 1969 says, "Several shows on the '69 tour were recorded in anticipation of what was earmarked to be their sixth album, the follow-up to Bridge. That live LP never came to be (until now, that is)." Listen to the record and hear them perform the tunes live with Simon and Garfunkel tickets today.

This article is sponsored by is a leader in the business of selling, as well as sports tickets, concert tickets, theater tickets and special events tickets.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Information About the Album Hotel California by Eagles

By Garry Knight

The 70s, like the 60s, was a decade full of drugs, sexual exploration, emerging new age beliefs, and innovative ideas. Many of these things were expressed and reflected through the music of the time. One of the most memorable records at the time was "Hotel California" by the Eagles. The album, released in 1976, featured a song by the same title that has become one of the Eagles most popular hits.

Aside from the chorus, the song is most recognizable for it's opening riffs. The song's guitar chord progression follows a noticeable and primarily minor musical scale. "Hotel California" runs nearly six minutes and twenty seconds in length. This was a little more common during the 60s and 70s, but is nearly double the length of the average song that is released on albums today. One of the most memorable musical features of the song is the extended guitar solo. The guitar solo begins at 4:22 and carries through to the fade out end of the 6:31 recording. "Hotel California" brings a unique fusion of the sultry, hot sound of reggae to rock music.

The song's lyrics have been amongst some of the most misinterpreted and controversial lyrical content written to date. The song lyrics were written by Glenn Fry, Don Felder, and Don Henley. Although Henley was the band's drummer, it is he that provided the cold and gritty lead vocals required to present the song as its meaning was to be presented.

The lyrics lead up to a weary, desert traveler stopping a hotel for the night. The story soon twists and turns into what most people could view as a nightmare, as visiting a haunted hotel, or as a drug induced hallucinogenic state. Some have went as far to interpret the song as being written about a gutted hotel, purchased by Satanic church leader Anton LeVey, who then turns it into a place of worship.

However, according to Henley, most people interpreting the lyrics have completely missed the metaphors. Henley in fact claims that the song was written about how the band, who is from the mid-west, view the materialist Hollywood life. In addition, Henley claims that the song is also written about certain women that the members of the band knew. Later Henley added that the song was additionally about excess and the dark side of trying to achieve the American dream.

For More Information please visit Hotel California Meaning, the number one Hotel California site on the Internet.

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Arrangement Example of Yesterday For the Keyboard

By Hilary Daglish

Yesterday is a well known pop song written by Paul McCartney in 1965, although it was credited to both Paul McCartney and John Lennon. The lyrics could be interpreted as sadness about a lost loved one. It was originally recorded for the Beatles album Help in 1965.

Paul McCartney was accompanied solely by a string quartet for this first official recording. According to the Guinness Book of Records it has over 3000 cover versions which is the most cover versions of any song ever written. And here is a verbal explanation of another version or arrangement example of Yesterday for the Keyboard.

Here are the changes applied to Yesterday

1. Introduction: A four bar introduction was added using 1 chord for each bar namely the tonic, subdominant, dominant seventh and tonic chords. As the piece is in the key of F major then the chord sequence is F Bb C7 F. There are other chord sequences which would work; this is just one idea. The idea of the melody line was thought up because Yesterday includes minims and quavers in scale like passages and so it seemed appropriate to add them to the introduction using the chords as an indicator for notes to use.

2. Melodic Changes: These occur at various places throughout the piece compared to the original. Here they are: Please note that the bar numbers refer to the arrangement example which has included the extra four bars at the beginning for the introduction.

a. Rhythmic Changes at bars 12, 15, 17, 30, 32, 33
b. Addition of Appoggiaturas at bars 14, 16, 18, 46, 48, 50
c. Octaves in Right Hand at bars 19 and 23. The right hand plays the 'a' as written plus the 'a' one octave higher at the same time.
d. Chord Voicing at bars 9 last beat to 11, 16 last beat to 18. Chord Voicing is where you can add harmony notes in the right hand to blend in the the chord and notes played in the left hand.
e. Added Ending at bars 53 and 54.

3. Modulation: A modulation is the process of passing from one key to another key. This can be done abruptly, by using the dominant seventh of the new key followed by the tonic chord of the new key or gradually over a progression of chord changes where the general rule is to finish with the key chord of the first piece, followed by a common chord in both keys, the dominant seventh chord of the new key and then the tonic chord of the new key. As there is a repeat section in Yesterday a modulation into another key was added to create interest.

The tonic key of Yesterday is in F major. The new key chosen is G major. G major was chosen because the Beatles played a G major version in the Tokyo concerts during their 1966 tours. The type of modulation used was abrupt ie the dominant seventh chord of G major followed by the tonic chord of G major, namely D7 to G. This happens in bars 34 to 35 and then the rest of the piece continues in the new key of G major. Therefore all the notes and chord names move up a second.

4. Keyboard Settings: As this version of Yesterday is for Keyboard, then keyboard settings need to be added to the piece. These include the style of the background rhythm, voice (s), tempo, autofill and harmony.
The keyboard used for the arrangement of this piece is a Yamaha Portable Grand DGX-220

Settings are set before playing commences and the ones used in this arrangement are:

style: arpeggio: number 141
voice: flute: number 92
dual voice: oboe: number 72
harmony: duet
autofill: A throughout whole piece
tempo: 80 throughout whole piece

This is how the settings were used throughout this arrangement example of Yesterday. The accompaniment and sync start buttons have to be pressed to sound the style or rhythmic background.

bars 1 - 11: single voice - flute
bars 12 - 27: dual voice on - flute and oboe ( press dual button )
bars 28 - 35: single voice ( press dual button again to release dual effect )
bars 36 - 43: harmony on ( press harmony button )
bars 44 - 52: harmony on with dual voices ( press dual button )
bars 53 - 54: accompaniment off ( press the accompaniment button to release the rhythmic effect.

It was decided to have a melodic ending only as a repeat of bars 51and 52 but one octave higher and getting quieter and slower.

This arrangement example of Yesterday for the Keyboard is just one version, one idea. People have varying ideas of what they like to see in a piece. But the method of creating your own arrangement of any tune is the same. You decide on the various aspects like introductions, endings, changes of melody line, modulations, keyboard settings and how you will use the settings in the piece to create interest.

For Yesterday and other sheet music ideas take a look here. If it is the instrument you want then take a look here.

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A Few Facts About the Beatles

By Jim Alden

George Harrison and Paul McCartney first met on a bus while the two were schoolboys. They rode the bus together going to and from the Liverpool Institute High School for Boys. As George and Paul talked, they found that they shared an interest in playing guitars and music.

At the time, McCartney was in John Lennon's skiffle band The Quarrymen, and he urged Lennon to allow Harrison to join the band as lead guitarist. Lennon felt that Harrison was too young, but he eventually relented and let him into the band. The Quarrymen would eventually evolve into The Beatles.

Although the Beatles traveled to the United States together in February 1964, it was actually George Harrison's second trip to the country. In September 1963, Harrison went on vacation and visited his sister, Louise, in Benton, Illinois. The home where he stayed on his visit is now the Hard Day's Nite Bed and Breakfast.

The original drummer of The Beatles was Pete Best. He was in the group for two years, beginning August 12, 1960. On August 16, 1962, he was dismissed from the band by manager Brian Epstein. The only reason Epstein gave to Pete was, "The lads don't want you in the group anymore." Best has maintained that he was never given any further explanation of why he was fired. Ringo Starr became the new drummer for The Beatles.

Cilla Black's debut single was "Love of the Loved", a Lennon-McCartney composition mainly written by Paul McCartney. It was one of his earliest compositions. The Beatles recorded the song in 1962 during their audition for Decca Records, but it has never been officially released.

The Beatles' song "With a Little Help from My Friends" was temporarily called "Bad Finger Boogie" in the early stages of the songwriting process. The working title came about because John Lennon had to rely on his middle finger when playing the song's piano part, having earlier injured his forefinger. The band Badfinger would later derive their name from the discarded "Bad Finger Boogie" title. At the time, Badfinger were under contract to record on the Beatles' Apple Records label.

The subject of the Beatles' song "Dear Prudence" is Prudence Farrow, the younger sister of actress Mia Farrow. Prudence was present when the Beatles visited Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Rishikesh, India in 1968. She primarily stayed in her room in seclusion during long periods of meditation instead of joining the activities with the others. John Lennon wrote the song to invite Prudence to "come out to play" as he thought she might be depressed.

For more on the subject of The Beatles, please visit our site devoted to Beatles quotes where you'll find quotes by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. There's also several quotes from other famous musicians and celebrities about The Beatles. We also have a site dedicated to John Lennon quotes only.

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CONCERT REVIEW: Bachman and Turner Secret Gig

By Robin Graeme Smith

Well not such a 'secret' gig, more an insiders special, and boy was it special. I wanted to be the first to get the review out so I could be the one to say ... Bachman and Turner didn't need the Overdrive ... most of you mature readers will get the 'joke' and I hate to explain a funny so if you don't, well never mind.

The Garage is a perfect venue for a band like this, nothing slick about the décor, no seats, and the drinks not too expensive, though no real beer, why's that? The guys were on fire, four guitarists and one drummer giving us some of their back catalogue from the seventies interspersed with some really great current tracks. The highlight for me was American Woman with a guitar solo using a drum stick, sounds kitsch but was actually amazing, and Bachman knew not to over do it.

Of course the encore had to include Ain't Seen Nothing Yet ... never quite the same since Harry Enfield used it for Smashee and Nicey but still one of my favourite tracks ever. So for me and indeed the audience it was a fitting finale for a great evening of good old rocking music. Bachman and Turner and are off to Sweden Rocks festival, before playing some US dates and returning to the UK in July for the High Voltage festival.

A new album is due out in September and if the tracks we heard were anything to go buy it should be well worth the wait.

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Playing the Rolling Stones

By William Wyman

In the early sixties the Rolling Stones were just a cover band, playing other people's songs. Gradually they began to write their own songs, probably because they realised that if they wanted to be successful they had to have original songs. Nobody ever made much money playing other people's songs in those days.

In those early days they were using standard tuning on their guitars, only later did they add open g tuning (probably around 1969). If you're learning to play guitar then you're almost certainly using standard tuning. All the early hits are played in standard tuning. So, for example, you can play Satisfaction, All Over Now, The Last Time and Not Fade Away (although this has a 12 string guitar in standard tuning). Pick any track form one of the early albums and you'll find that the guitars are in standard tuning.

Honky Tonk women is the first example of open g tuning, followed by Brown Sugar, Tumbling Dice, Street Fighting Man and then on to Start Me Up. You Can't Always Get What You Want is recorded in open e tuning with a capo on the 8th fret, but it too is normally played in open g when played live.

Tuning your guitar to open g is easy enough, here's how to do it:-

To change to open g we only need to detune 3 strings, the 1st (thinnest), 5th and 6th strings. Tune the 1st string down a tone to D - check it against your 4th string (which is a D). Do the same for the 6th string, down a tone to D - check it against your 4th string. Then finally tune your 5th string down to G - check it against your 3rd string (which is a G). Keith usually takes the top 6th string off, so you might want to do that too.
If you now strum the guitar from the 5th string down you have a G chord! No fretting required, which is why it's called open g tuning!

Keith only has 5 strings on his guitar. If you would like to know how to play Honky Tonk Women in open g tuning then go to Next you'll need to learn a few chords in open g tuning, but they're really quite easy to learn. Then you too will be able to play Rolling Stones music in their authentic style!
William Wyman has played in a Rolling Stones cover band for over 10 years.

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The Success of the Grateful Dead

By Wes Hagan

The Grateful Dead is one of the most influential bands in America to come out of the 1960's. As the country was changing, so was the music culture. The Grateful Dead, or "the Dead" as they are more commonly known, capitalized on the troubled times of the late 1960's by producing a quality and sound of music never heard before.

To begin, it is important to highlight the different band members. Jerry Garcia was the lead guitarist and the most popular member in the band. Phil Lesh played the bass, Rob Weir was the rhythm guitarist, Ron "Pigpen" McKernan was on keyboard and harmonica, and Bill Kreutzman was on percussion. McKernan, Lesh, and Garcia all shared all vocal responsibilities.

Though some of the original members are deceased, the Dead have been a popular band in the country since they got their start in 1965. They still play to fans at concert events every year. Possibly, the Grateful Dead were so popular because they created a sound that incorporated many traditional styles into a new type of sound never heard before.

Fans also attribute the band as being the pioneers of "jam bands." Jam bands is a term used to describe music groups who use a wide arrangement of music instruments to produce a unique sound to every song they play. During a live performance, jam bands tend to deviate from album versions of songs to give each show a different feel.

The success of the Grateful Dead can be traced back to the bands inception in 1965. They drew a following from different walks of life by incorporating different sounds into their music. By harmonizing and promoting peace, they fit right in with the major pop culture that came out of the 1960's. The Dead and San Francisco are credited with, if not starting, continuing the hippy craze of this time period.

My name is Wes and I love everything about music. Please visit my new site to learn about the Furman Power Conditioner. You should also check out the Furman SS 6B, a must have for everyone!

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Baby Boomers - Just Imagine Growing Up in the 60s

By Joseph Stutzman

The cold war ushered in the 1960s. Many of us hardly even knew that Russia existed when all of a sudden Russia captured a U.S. spy, Captain Francis Powers, and we heard that Russia had "the bomb" and that we, the citizens of the U.S., were in danger of being attacked and overrun by the communist horde.

Those growing up in the 60s took part in air-raid and nuclear bomb exercises in school where you hid under your desk, on your knees, covering your head with your butt in the air and felt assured that that would protect you in the event of a nuclear war. Thank goodness there wasn't one! People also started building air-raid shelters and stockpiling canned goods and water, while some people were accused of sticking their heads in the sand when they refused to be caught up in the horror of this moment in time.

It may have been the uncertainty of life that caught hold of the young people during this time. Rock and roll music was born and the Twist was the newest dance craze. In fact, everything was kind of crazy then.

Invented in the 1950s, the transistor radio became available in retail outlets in the mid 1960s and changed the way a lot of people listened to music. FM was for nerds and AM ruled! Most major U.S. cities had 3-4 Rock n' Roll stations that played the same 40-60 hits all day long. Every teen or young adult knew the words to every single top 100 hit, be it the Billboard Magazine list or the local station list that was available at the local radio station or record store. 78 rpm (revolutions per minute) albums were long gone and the era of the 45 rpm single record and the 33 rpm album was born.

A single 45 cost just 97 cents, plus tax, while an album of 9-11 songs was about four bucks. Most albums had 5 or 6 hits along with 4 or 5 songs that hadn't been released as singles. Radio stations advertised "All the hits, all the time" and "More music more often" and we listened avidly to whatever AM station we could receive with the least interference. FM was for the 'eggheads' and didn't become popular until the late 60s and earned its place as a radio standard in the mid 70s.

In one of the first presidential elections that a baby boomer will likely remember, the end of Dwight D. Eisenhower's second term saw his Vice President Richard M. Nixon running against John F. Kennedy, the youngest presidential candidate ever.

This 1960 presidential race is also the first election that television played a most important part in. The charismatic Kennedy was 'easy to look at' on national television screens, though those that had only radios leaned towards voting for the Republican candidate, Nixon. Lyndon B. Johnson was running with Kennedy and Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. was the running mate for Nixon. Alaska and Hawaii participated in this election for the first time since gaining their statehood the previous year and both candidates were actually born in the 20th century.

Historians still debate the issues of this election and if vote theft played a part in Kennedy's win, as well as Joe Kennedy, John F.'s father, possibly playing a not-so-kosher part. Kennedy's margin of victory in the popular vote was the closest ever in U.S. history and the electoral vote was the closest since the presidential election of 1916 between Woodrow Wilson with his running mate Thomas R. Marshall and Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes and his VP candidate Charles W. Fairbanks.

In 1961, further proof that we needed to fear communism came in the form of a coup designed to overthrow Fidel Castro in a small communist country, Cuba, just 90 miles from Florida's borders. The Bay of Pigs plan was under discussion during the Eisenhower administration and Kennedy, who allowed it to proceed, found himself much criticized for the failed debacle. Fidel Castro has outlasted all U.S. Presidents to date and his regime promises to carry on.

1961 is the year that the Berlin Wall came into being. The Russian Premier, Kruschev, decides to construct a huge concrete wall along the Soviet's portion of Berlin, effectively imprisoning her citizens. As in Cuba, East German's citizens were trapped and unable to leave for any reason. Many lost their lives in the attempt, just as many more have lost their lives in the attempt to flee Cuba. Many boomers have lived to see the wall come down.

Along with all of these monumental negatives, the 60s were not without its heroes. Kennedy, despite his shaky beginning became the most loved president in history. His assassination in November of 1963 threw the U.S. and parts of the world into deep mourning.

The space race was underway. On May 5th, 1961, Alan Shepard was the first American to fly into space aboard "Freedom 7". It was an embarrassment that Russia managed to beat us to the punch by a couple of weeks, but this was the start of a race that would see man walk on the moon.

Baseball is still America's favorite pastime and 1961 saw a landmark battle between Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris as they competed against each other to break Babe Ruth's home run record. Roger Maris succeeded but Mickey Mantle seems to be the most remembered.

Quickly upon the heels of Alan Shepard, John Glenn orbits the earth three times in the same spaceship, "Friendship 7". Then came the Mercury and Gemini series' flights, followed by the Apollo series. Challenged by President Kennedy's address on May 25th, 1961, to land a man on the moon by the end of the decade, success came in the form of Apollo 11 with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landing on the moon while Michael Collins remained in lunar orbit. The last moon walk took place in December of 1972, on the last of six Apollo missions and during which time 12 men walked on the moon.

In 1962 the National Guard is on hand as James Meredith becomes the first black person to enroll at the University of Mississippi. This troubled time saw the rise of Dr. Martin Luther King, trying to charm riotous men and women into a more peaceful integration. His famous "I Have a Dream" speech was heard around the world in 1963 before a live audience of an amazing 200,000 people.

... and the beat goes on ... The 60s was a time of turmoil, love, war, hate, drugs, rock n' roll and of villains and heroes. And this was only the first two or three years of this decade!

Along with listening to music, Joseph enjoys working in his flower and vegetable gardens. Garden Harvest Supply is one of his favorite gardening stores which offer perennial flowering plants and memorial garden plaques to add inspiration to any green space.

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Britain's Big Beat Business

By Royston Ellis

As an off-shoot of show business, the big beat when it hit Britain in 1960 became a profitable concern to a few people on the music scene. The main brain behind it was Larry Parnes (1930-1989). Under his aegis a remarkable crowd of boys, with stage names based on their peculiar talents - Power, Keene and Gentle are examples - were hurtled on to the scene.

Larry Parnes's "stable" as it was known, consisted of rocksters all under contract to him. Whereas other singers had managers and agents who took a percentage of their earnings, Parnes employed his singers instead of them employing him. Discovering them in various towns around the country (a surprising number came from Liverpool), he then groomed what talent they had and put them under contract to him.

This contract (usually a five year one) provided the boys with a regular weekly wage whether they were working or not. At first the wage was low (sometimes as low as 20 pounds a week) but the contract promised a regular pay increase until the fifth year when his stable boys expected astronomical earnings.

However, this meant that the young pop stars under him were not earning as much as, say, one of the self-employed singers who may have collected 500 pounds per week after only three months in the business.
But the Parnes beatsters considered the way they were working infinitely better than being entirely dependent on a fickle public for their personal fortune and fame.

Working with a five year contract, the boys felt they had some security with Larry Parnes behind them. Bearing in mind the way that singers could shoot overnight to oblivion as well as to stardom, some form of security was highly desirable.

The Parnes stable included Joe Brown, Dickie Pride, Tommy Bruce, Johnny Gentle, Duffy Power, Nelson Keene, Peter Wynne, Georgie Fame, Davy Jones, Johnny Good and Vince Eager.

One boy Parnes had under contract was one of the most artistically creative and sincere singers involved with the teenage side of the big beat business. Lumbered with a stage name that seemed to mock his true character, this boy stood out in the beat scene as an individual in his own right. He was known as Billy Fury.
These words may seem ridiculous when used to describe a singer so often slated for his near-obscene performances. One paper, referring to his appearance at a theatre, stated that Billy Fury turns into "a sex symbol of deformed contortions and suggestive songs the minute he walks on to the stage."

Critics claimed that "the simple act of lighting a cigarette takes on a deeper meaning when performed by one of these masters of the suggestive." Billy Fury, said critics, "is one of the rock 'n' roll entertainers who purveys badly disguised sex" to his audience. Those reports are quoted from a 1960 newspaper. They were saying the same thing about Presley years before.

It all served to drum up business for Parnes, and he soon became known on the beat scene as "Parnes, shillings and pence" - a reference to the currency in Britain at the time: pounds, shillings and pence.

Royston Ellis, author of over 60 biographies, novels and travel guides, now lives in Sri Lanka having left England, where he began as a beat poet, in 1961, age 20, for a life of travel. His latest book, The Big Beat Scene, has just been published by Music Mentor Books ( ), in a new edition for the first time in 50 years with a foreword and afterword about his association with The Beatles.

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Shelter From the Storm - Bob Dylan

By Robin Graeme Smith


I'm sure somewhere out there in Dylan land there is a rock guru who knows more about the big D than Sid but I've certainly never met them. Affable, rangy and polite enough to listen to my contributions to the conversation, what a great dinner party guest he would make. Sid shared his encyclopaedic knowledge but not in that obsessive geeky way that some do. It was a real pleasure to spend a morning with Sid discussing his forthcoming book Shelter From The Storm and of course we strayed into all sorts of esoteric rock corners such as the influences of Gram Parsons on The Byrds and the quality of latter day Oasis albums.

Sid's last book Million Dollar Bash, an exploration of the basement tapes period, was one of the best selling books in the genre when it was published and I'm positive that this book, the second in the trilogy will do as well.

Taking as his subject the 18 months, starting in 1975 when Dylan led a traveling retinue of musicians around America on the two legs of the Rolling Thunder tour, along for the ride were Joan Baez, Roger McGuinn, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, David Blue, Kinky Friedman, T-Bone Burnett, Allen Ginsberg, Sam Sheppard, Mick Ronson, and dozens more musicians, friends, family and hangers-on.

The circus was documented in the film Renaldo and Clara (edited by Dylan), the live album Hard Rain, and a TV concert special of the same name, while in between the two legs of the tour Dylan released the classic Desire album. It is this period of heightened creativity and personal drama that Sid explores.

The subject is certainly something that hasn't been addressed before and Sid has really hit a rich seam here. This 18 month period was extraordinarily productive for Bob, two tours, two albums a four hour album (Renaldo and Clara) and TV specials.

Interviewing many of the tour's participants including musicians Roger McGuinn, T-Bone Burnett, Kinky Friedman, Arlo Guthrie, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, and tour manager Louie Kemp, Sid mixes meticulous musical analysis into a gripping narrative in this definitive account the of Rolling Thunder years, and of course as he has lived the Rock n Roll lifestyle himself (Long Ryders and Coal Porters) he brings an interesting perspective to the genre.

His book really encapsulates his philosophy of 'never talking down to his audience' which is really refreshing. As we discussed, many rock books really are a pastiche of hackneyed clichés that seem to doubt that the readers has more than half a brain cell. This is a must have book for any Dylan fan, particularly if you love a fresh, intelligent approach, with quality writing and amazing insights.

Here's a quick taster from the introduction to the book

"A hero is anyone who walks to his own drum." Bob Dylan

As the Twentieth Century came to a close Time magazine announced it was compiling a list of one hundred names who were The Most Important People of The Twentieth Century. Divided into sections the Artists and Entertainers category wisely included Bob Dylan, writer Jay Cocks referring to Dylan as (a) "Master poet, caustic social critic and intrepid, guiding spirit of the counterculture generation" which, while accurate, is only a portion of his act, a portion of his art. For proof look no further than the other categories Time used, as it isn't difficult to imagine Dylan being included in Leaders and Revolutionaries, Builders and Titans, or Heroes and Icons. For he is all of those.

This book also focuses on a portion of Dylan's act and his art, the period of time roughly dating from summer 1975 and the beginnings of the Rolling Thunder Revue to summer of 1976 when Dylan retreated to edit his Renaldo and Clara film footage with Howard Alk. Yes, this book backs up a bit before summer 1975 at times in order to present the necessary back-story and it slides past summer 1976 at points to complete the tale-telling but it is pretty much the story of a little over a year in a still young man's life.

A year in which the young man appeared on American TV honouring an old friend, recorded a number one studio album of groundbreaking music, toured his native land twice, filmed and began to edit the first motion picture he would direct, campaigned proudly for the release of a man who he felt was wrongly incarcerated, filmed a TV special, junked that one and then filmed a second TV special, edited that second TV special, and released a live album from the second tour of his gypsy circus.

That is one helluva year.

There are books on the first Rolling Thunder Revue tour, two books on Desire, chapter after chapter discussing Renaldo and Clara in Dylan tomes, and a number of books on the Hurricane Carter legal case. However there is only one book which shifts through all the art, all of it, and which digests all the criticism of years hence and which puts the tours, the TV specials, the music, the personalities, the wild movie, the social campaigning and the live album on equal footing and under one roof.

This is a truly interesting book and highly recommended.

Robin Smith runs Rokpool an online rock music archive site that explores rock music history from the last sixty years, and features previously lost, hidden or forgotten articles, pictures, audio, and video, from the greatest and not so great artists that make up our music heritage. Rokpool can be found at

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The Rolling Stones at Washington, DC RFK Stadium July 4th 1972

By Rosemary Gardner

I grew up in the late 1960s a huge Rolling Stones fan. My godmother's daughter (does that make her my godsister?) was U.S. president of the Rolling Stones fan club in 1966. I had all of their records and I desperately wanted to see them perform live.

So imagine my delight when in the Spring of 1972 tickets became available for a July 4 concert at RFK stadium. They sold out quickly but I managed to score a couple. Time passed very slowly for me between that day and the actual day of the concert.

We all piled into my friend's VW and headed out. It was festival seating so we wanted to get there early enough to get decent seats. As it happens we arrived about 1:30pm and got the perfect seats (for a baseball game - front row behind the 3rd base dugout) and as the stage was being set up at 2nd base excellent seats for that night's show.

So there we were, with 5 hours to kill before Stevie Wonder was to entertain us as the opening act. The pungent aroma of whacky tobaccy wafted through the air and bottles of cheap wine were passed around. It was a splendid atmosphere and everything was going along swimmingly until we began to hear a loud disturbance coming from behind us. It was shouting and chanting and it was coming from outside the main gate. Apparently, some kids were trying to rush the security manning the entrance and crash the scene!

Well this was all mildly amusing until someone yelled out "they're shooting tear gas!" Which got us all giggling right up until the wind changed direction and started blowing the gas into the stadium. We stopped giggling at that point and tried to hold our breath. This worked for a while, until we needed to actually breathe, and then it was unpleasant to say the least. Our eyes were stinging and we were all suffering.

Finally the cops got a clue and stopped with the tear gas. The air cleared and the first act took the stage. Stevie Wonder was fine. Almost nobody cared about him (which was a shame) but he did his thing for about half an hour and then got off the stage much to the appreciation of the majority of the crowd. Such is the life of an opening act.

Then another 45 minutes went by and finally the Stones took the stage. If you've ever seen the movie "Ladies and Gentlemen the Rolling Stones" then that was the same tour. Probably their best tour ever. They were supporting their new album "Exile on Main Street". Lots of good songs on that one plus they did all of their hits to date (the very same hits everybody wants to hear today). Mick noted the historic occasion (he majored in economics and history after all at the London School of Economics) and congratulated us all on our independence.

I have been to four Stones concerts over the years and every single one produced an atmosphere that was so thick you could cut it with a knife. I don't know what it is about that band, but they do two amazing things every time. They create an amazing atmosphere as I said and they relate to the crowd as though you were an equal. Absolutely no sign of "hey I'm a rock star thanks for your bread man and we'll play what we want or not play at all, whatever". It's uncanny but you really feel like they're your buddies from next door and that they're just hanging out with you for that 2 hour period.

Well they played for a little over 2 hours and 3 encores and then it was time to stumble back to the car and try to find our way home again. All in all just the best experience that a 20 year-old could have had back then that didn't involve Robert Redford and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Oh come on, use your imagination.

Rosemary has been writing articles for 4 years. Check out her latest website at where you will find the best deals and tips on Vehicle GPS Systems.

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John Lennon's Polythene Pam

By Royston Ellis

John Lennon revealed in Playboy in 1980 that his song "Polythene Pam" had been inspired by the time he spent a night in bed with a beatnik poet and a girl. I was that poet. Polythene Pam was part of the Beatles' Abbey Road album released on 1 October 1969.

In his book published in 1994, A HARD DAY'S WRITE, pop biographer Steve Turner, revealed a coded reference to me in the 1980 interview that John Lennon gave to Playboy magazine. Turner tracked me down where I lived in Sri Lanka. I had never heard the song up to then.

In the original interview John explained that the song Polythene Pam was him remembering a little event with a woman in Jersey, and a man who was England's answer to Allen Ginsberg, who gave the Beatles their first exposure. That man was me. I was a beatnik poet and had met John in Liverpool in June 1960 and stayed with him and his friends in their flat. He and Paul and George and Stuart, then The Beetles, backed me for a brief poetry and rock (Rocketry) performance at the Jacaranda in Liverpool.

After that I wanted to take The Beetles to London to play for me there. But I suggested that first they change their name to The Beatles, as I was a beat poet and they were playing beat music. Instead, they went to Hamburg and we didn't meet up again until August 1963 in the Channel Islands. John might have remembered all that happened that night, but I don't.

Actually, it was in the British Channel Island of Guernsey (not Jersey as John recalled) where I was living at the time, writing poems and having fun at night, while working as a boat boy during the day. I had flown over to Jersey to meet The Beatles when they arrived there and there exists a grainy video (BBC Timewatch: The Unseen Beatles) of me and The Beatles boarding a plane in Jersey to fly to Guernsey. There is also a photo of me leaving the plane in Guernsey with George Harrison carrying a parcel for me containing copies of the original edition of my book "The Big Beat Scene."

It was after the show that evening in Guernsey, that John wanted some action. In the book written by Barry Miles in 1997 called "Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now," Paul is quoted as saying: "John, being Royston's friend, went out to dinner with him and got pissed and stuff." In the course of the evening, I recited one of my poems to John, beginning with the lines "I long to have sex between black leather sheets/And ride shivering motorcycles through your thighs." Black leather sheets? John liked that idea. How to try it?

I took John back to the garret where I was living and introduced him to my girl friend, Stephanie. Well we didn't have black leather sheets so we spread black oilskins (the name for the waterproof raincoat I used to wear when working on the ferry boat) on the bed. Then Stephanie wrapped herself in polythene. And that became a small part of the inspiration for the song Polythene Pam.

Royston Ellis, author of over 60 biographies, novels and travel guides, now lives in Sri Lanka having left England, where he began as a beat poet, in 1961, age 20, for a life of travel. His latest book, The Big Beat Scene, has just been published by Music Mentor Books while his eBook "The John Lennon I Knew" is available from:

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Monday, June 14, 2010

Paul McCartney in Paris

By Royston Ellis

Meeting Paul McCartney

On Thursday 5 October 2006 at Le Bristol Hotel in Paris, by sheer chance, I met up with Paul McCartney, and we recalled our earlier meeting in Liverpool in June 1960. On that occasion I was backed by the then Beetles when I read my poetry to music provided by Paul, John Lennon, George Harrison and Stuart Sutcliffe.

It was because I was a beat poet and the boys played beat music that I suggested to them that they spell their name with an "A." Thus they became the Beatles from June 1960 - and went on to Hamburg and then fame and fortune. I left England too and found a different fame and fortune.

In Paris that day 46 years later, I was sitting in the lounge of the bar sipping a champagne cocktail when I noticed a slim man with a jowly face and a fine thatch of hair sweep in, accompanied by three men and one woman. He led the way into the alcove but apparently there weren't enough seats, so he sat himself at the bar counter.

I thought at first he was French and just happened to look like Paul McCartney whose likeness I knew only from old photographs as I do not have television or receive English newspapers at my home in Sri Lanka. So I wasn't sure if I was seeing the real Paul McCartney. I listened carefully but because of the chatter in the bar couldn't hear if he was speaking English.

I gave a passing steward my business card and asked him to give it to the man at the bar. Paul took the card and looked at it quickly. He stopped what he was saying and asked the steward where I was. The steward indicated where I was sitting and I stood up as Paul turned on his bar stool and got to his feet. We embraced fondly, shaking hands.

I told him he looked good, reacting to how smooth his face seemed, if slightly puffy. He actually looked quite athletic and dashing and I was conscious that I looked so much older. And in the course of our conversation, he referred to me being a couple of years older. He told his companions excitedly that he was a boy when he knew me. "We met when Royston came to Liverpool and stayed at the Gambier Terrace flat. We spent the night together." I told him I didn't remember that.

He grinned and explained that we spent the night talking our heads off. He said that he and the boys were fascinated because I was a beat poet from London. He said that he remembered a line from one of my poems: "Grease me in easy, grease me in easy" he quoted. I told him that actual words were "Break me in easy." He said that his version sounded right and I told him I was surprised he remembered.

He explained to his friends that I was very important to them then. "The things you told us. You remember telling John, George, Stuart and myself that one in four people were gay? We looked at each other and wondered which one it was." I commented that at that age and that year none of us knew much about anything. I recalled travelling with him and John in a van and Paul asked me about the slang being used in London. And I explained to them then about benzedrene nose inhalers." "Yes!" said Paul, almost nostalgically. "You turned us on."

He asked me what I was doing and I told him I was still writing and had more than 60 books published, many under different names, but I was no longer a beat poet. He commented then on how earlier that day he had been walking in the Place de la Concorde and thought how amazing it was that the old buildings remained intact while people had become modern. He sounded philosophical, saying that it was the same with us. He thought that like the buildings we hadn't changed, even though it was 46 years since we had met, and we were drinking champagne in Paris instead of tea in Liverpool.

Royston Ellis, author of over 60 biographies, novels and travel guides, now lives in Sri Lanka having left England, where he began as a beat poet, in 1961, age 20, for a life of travel. His latest book, The Big Beat Scene, has just been published by Music Mentor Books.

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Led Zeppelin at the Dawn of the Swinging Sixties

By Royston Ellis

The early 1950s in Britain were grim dull years but by the time the decade ended, musicians were being heard as the dawn chorus of The Swinging Sixties.

In Britain there were no coffee bars, no commercial television stations, no jukeboxes, and no teenage popstars. The young people of the 1950s were the same as they had been for generations previous. They were quiet, ordinary embryo adults plodding without interference to maturity. Their spare time was spent on sport, ballroom dancing, or on visits to the cinema. Slumped in the stalls of the local "fleapit" they came face to face with celluloid glamour transporting them to the fantasies of filmdom. Their early idols were US film stars, not record stars. Bill Haley and Elvis Presley changed that in Britain and then home-grown pop stars like Tommy Steele and Cliff Richard attracted the fans.

The abolition in 1960 in Britain of the compulsory two years military National Service for 18-year-olds had a liberating effect on teenagers. It was a taste of freedom; the excesses that resulted in the Swinging Sixties stemmed from that liberty. It was those early years that spawned Led Zeppelin.

The cult of the teenager in Britain can be dated from the end of conscription. There was no more forced discipline; kids were able to do what they wanted, unchecked by the call of military service that moulded previous teenagers into obedient, conventional, young adults. Thousands of teenagers took up the guitar in the hope of emulating their idols and to play the music they loved. It was a form of rebellion.

One boy, 16-year-old Jimmy Page from Epsom, near London, joined a group that called themselves first the Red Caps and then, as that sounded rather square - it was the name of a brand of milk - the Red Cats. In 1960, I met Jimmy Page and we became friends. I was using different musicians to back me for my performances of poetry read to rock and roll accompaniment, which I called Rocketry.

Jimmy was playing guitar in a London-based group managed by Chris Tidmarsh, who later transformed himself in to the Swinging Sixties pop star, Neil Christian. At the time I was writing a book about the big beat scene and introduced Jimmy to many of the stars featured in the book. I was living in a rented cottage in Watchbell Street, Rye, and Jimmy and the Red Cats used to stay there too.

Radcliffe Hall, the lesbian author of "The Well of Loneliness" had once lived next door. I acquired her topcoat and there exists a photograph of me wearing it at a rocketry performance at Cambridge University while a young Jimmy Page giggles in the background. Jimmy backed me on many stage and television performances, with our last appearance together being in a show at London's Mermaid Theatre in July 1961.

By that time I was 20 and no longer a teenager. My book was published and it seemed time to move on. I left England and escaped the Swinging Sixties. Jimmy, however, stayed and absorbed everything that was going on in the youth and music scene. As a result, in 1968 his energy, experience and talent gave the world the incredible Led Zeppelin. From being picked as a teenage guitarist to play backing music for a beat poet, he became the great music icon he remains today.

Royston Ellis, author of over 60 biographies, novels and travel guides, now lives in Sri Lanka having left England, where he began as a beat poet, in 1961, age 20, for a life of travel. His latest book, The Big Beat Scene, has just been published by Music Mentor Books in a new edition for the first time in 50 years with a foreword and afterword about his association with Jimmy Page and The Beatles. For more information, see

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