Sunday, August 29, 2010

OPINION: Top 20 Beatles Hits

the front cover of "Hey Jude" by The...Image via WikipediaBy Carl Megill

The premier rock group was formed in Liverpool, England in the late 1950's. When they first started out, The Beatles went under such names as The Quarrymen, Johnny and the Moondogs, The Rainbows, and the Silver Bullets, before settling on the Beatles in 1960.

The original lineup consisted of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Stu Sutcliffe and Pete Best. In April 1961, Sutcliffe left the group and died of a brain hemorrhage, one year later. Best left in 1962 and was replaced with Richard Starkey, aka Ringo Starr.

From there on, the group remained, until Paul McCartney announced their breakup on April 10, 1970. The group was managed by Brian Epstein, who died of a sleeping pill overdose in 1967 and they were produced by George Martin.

The Beatles first U.S. tour came in February, 1964. That was also the year they won the Best New Artist Grammy Award. They also earned Grammy's Trustees Award in 1972. In 1968 they became owners of the Apple record label.

They appeared in the movies "A Hard Day's Night" in 1964, "Help!" in 1965 and "Magical Mystery Tour" in 1967. They also provided the voices in the 1968 cartoon "Yellow Submarine."

According to Billboard magazine, The Beatles topped the singles charts twenty times and made it onto the weekly Top 40, forty-nine times, between 1964 and 1976. The closest artist to come to this record is Elvis Presley, who went to #1 eighteen times. Below, are The Beatles 20 biggest hits, all number one. Many of the Beatles B-sides also cracked the top 40 and are duly noted.

1. Hey Jude - 1968 - The number one song of 1968 and the B-side, "Revolution" going to #12 on the weekly charts.
2. I Want To Hold Your Hand - 1964 - The Beatles first U.S. hit with the B-side "I Saw Her Standing There" also going Top 20.
3. Get Back - 1969 - This hit featured Billy Preston as well as on the B-side "Don't Let Me Down."
4. Can't Buy Me Love - 1964
5. Yesterday - 1965 - This song has the significance of having more than 2500 recorded versions of it.

6. I Feel Fine - 1964 - The B-side of this song, "She's A Woman" went to #4 on the weekly charts.
7. Help! - 1965 - This song is the title song from the film of the same name. The film "Help!" was originally titled, "Eight Arms to Hold You."
8. We Can Work It Out - 1966 - The flip side, "Day Tripper" went to #5. Stevie Wonder took a cover version of this song to #13 in 1971.
9. Hello Goodbye - 1967
10. She Loves You - 1964 - "Sie Lieb Dicht", the Beatles German version of this song also hit the Billboard charts in 1964.

11. Let It Be - 1970 - The title song from the documentary film.
12. A Hard Day's Night - 1964 - Another title song, this one from The Beatles first movie.
13. Paperback Writer - 1966 - The B-side, "Rain" made it to #23 on the weekly charts.
14. The Long And Winding Road - 1970 - Also from the documentary film "Let It Be" and the Beatles last #1 single.
15. Eight Days A Week - 1965 - "I Don't Want To Spoil The Party" was the B-side of this hit single and just barely cracked the weekly Top 40.

16. Come Together - 1969 - The flip side of this single, "Something" went to #3 on the weekly charts.
17. Love Me Do - 1964 - This song and the B-side, "P.S. I Love You" were both recorded in September 1962 and featured Andy White on drums and newly added band member, Ringo Starr on tambourine.
18. Ticket To Ride - 1965 - Another song featured in the film "Help!"
19. Penny Lane - 1967 - Another two sided hit, this time featuring "Strawberry Fields Forever" going to #8 on the weekly charts.
20. All You Need Is Love - 1967 - Featuring "Baby You're A Rich Man" as the B-side.

The Beatles were able to crack the weekly Top 10 charts one more time. Six years after the dissolution of the band, in 1976, and ten years after the release of their album "Revolver" the single, "Got To Get You Into My Life" went to #7.

All four Beatles had #1 songs, after The Beatles were no more. The Beatles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. They will forever be known as the world's #1 rock group.

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

VIDEOS: The Beatniks of Greenwich Village

Cover of "Beat Generation (Oneworld Class...Cover via AmazonHi all,

Here's a great series of YouTube videos showing some great footage in the lead-up to the hippie era:

The Beatniks of Greenwich Village

The Beat Generation (Click on part 2, 3 etc. at end to continue)

Jack Kerouac / The Beat Generation

"Birth of the Hippie"
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Who Remembers Maynard G Krebs? - Icon of the 1960s

Hi all,

Just found some brilliant clips from the TV program "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis" starring Bob Denver who played Gilligan in Gilligan's Island. Maynard G Krebs was played by Bob Denver and was a 'beatnik' character.

The show was an huge icon of popular culture throughout the 1960s.

Here's a few clips from Youtube:


Rare Northern Soul - Experience the Legend

Northern Soul 2007Image via WikipediaBy Russell Thorp

There are only a few occasions in the course of human history when it can be said that the people were completely in charge of their own cultural revolution. No matter what the political or civil agenda was during the late 1960s and early 1970s, looking back on the social norms that were broken, and the unique experiences that were made by people all over the world, you know that kind of time will probably never come again. Because music is so wrapped up in everything that humans do and experience, it's fitting that the rare northern soul records that became popular during this time would be just as special.

In case you're unfamiliar with the rare northern soul music or movement, you should know that it was centred on some of the most talented, albeit unknown Motown artists of the 1960s. When many people hear the word "Motown" the automatically assume that this movement took place in Detroit, or some other famous American city, but this assumption is incorrect. In fact, the northern soul genre was named and developed in England around the time that the mod scene was coming to an end.

Those that were in love with the early Motown sound, an upbeat rhythm and light-hearted feel, resisted the transition to funk and rock that came later on in the Sixties. They began pestering record store owners with requests for more of the original stuff, the rarer the better. As a result, record store owners in the U.K. started referring to this type of music as "rare northern soul," in honour of the customers from the north of England who were most often requesting it. What began as a flippant way to categorize the type of music these customers were likely to buy became the label for a musical movement that spanned multiple decades, and still continues today.

When it came to finding the best rare northern soul, record store owners and disc jockeys really had a difficult job ahead. Instead of merely being able to browse the American charts for the most popular songs and records, they had to look back into the archives for artists and records that had been forgotten or never played. Northern soul enthusiasts to this day still love to find a record that no one else has, or that hasn't been played in many years. There are plenty of collections that regularly sell for high amounts on auction web sites.

If you are looking for rare soul vinyl look no further than Rare Northern Soul. com where you can buy Northern Soul Music, 70s Soul Music, Motown, crossover soul, oldies soul and rare 45s.

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Macca's Meltdown: The Inside Story of the Marriage that Cost Sir Paul £24m and Almost Destroyed Him

Paul McCartney playing a true left-handed guit...Image via Wikipedia (from

She could hardly fail to catch his eye. In a ­translucent red top that revealed her large breasts, she was what Paul ­McCartney might once have termed ‘a right little raver’. He watched spellbound as Heather Mills, with a flirtatious toss of her thick blonde hair, strode confidently across the stage of a London awards ­ceremony in May 1999 to introduce a woman who’d shown fortitude in ­coping with the loss of her limbs.

It wasn’t immediately obvious that Ms Mills was also wearing a prosthetic leg. ‘Who’s that?’ asked Sir Paul, who was waiting to deliver an award himself. He was told that the woman who had made such a strong impression on him was a 31-year-old model who’d lost her leg in a road accident and now raised money for her charity. Days later, Heather found a message on her answer machine: ‘It’s Paul ­McCartney here. I’d like to talk to you about the charity work.’

They met at his London office, where Paul presented the Heather Mills Trust - which she hadn’t yet registered with the Charity Commission - with a cheque for £150,000. As she left that summer day, Heather noticed Sir Paul was admiring her ­backside. He hadn’t looked with lust at a woman since his wife’s death from breast cancer just over a year before.

Back then, he’d been in a very sorry condition, wandering about his estate and talking constantly about Linda.
‘Paul was just haggard. I mean, he sat there like an old man, lost,’ says ­Linda’s friend, the TV writer Carla Lane. Now, however, he told himself that Linda wouldn’t mind about his feelings for Heather. He ­convinced ­himself that his dead wife was sending him ­messages via the wildlife on their ­Sussex farm.

‘There were strange ­metaphysical occurrences that seemed to mean ­something. Animal noises. Bird noises. You’d ask yourself a question under the stars and, like, there’d be like an owl in the valley going whoo-whoo-whoo,’ he revealed later.

In short, he was set on dating Heather Mills - a decision that would one day cost him dear.

Like Paul, she came from a northern working-class family, but her ­background was troubled. 'The more you met (Heather), the more you knew she was a nutter'. At 14, she claimed in her ­autobiography, she’d run away from home. She’d started ­sleeping rough and mixing with drug addicts, rent boys and prostitutes. Then she got a Saturday job with a jeweller, from whom she stole - resulting in a ­probationary sentence for theft. Next, Heather strayed into the fringes of the sex industry, ­finding employment at around the age of 16 as a waitress in a Soho hostess club.

A failed ­marriage and a career in ­glamour modelling had ­followed. The exact details are slightly mysterious.
Her ex-husband Alfie Karmal says: ‘It was difficult to believe anything she said, as I caught her out lying to me so often.’ Still, whatever her short-comings, she was able to yank Sir Paul McCartney out of his grief. Quickly disposing of her fiance Chris Terrill (to whom she’d got engaged after a ten-day romance), she joined the Beatle for his annual vacation on Long Island in America.

By the time they returned to the UK, they were ­inseparable. Paul was so happy, she noted, that he was literally dancing down the street, like his hero Fred Astaire. For ­Halloween, he arranged a tryst with Heather in a London hotel, ­filling their suite with ­lanterns. And for New Year’s Eve, they went to his house on ­Merseyside where Heather met the rellies, as Paul called his ­Liverpool family.

The rellies, however, looked upon her askance. ‘I went in the kitchen for some reason. Seated at a table, in white faux fur and a white Cossack fake fur hat, is this very glamorous-looking blonde,’ recalls Paul’s cousin Mike Robbins. He extended his hand, but the blonde didn’t shake it and seemed to want to stay in the kitchen rather than join ­everyone else in the living room. Mike assumed she was ‘one of Paul’s brief bits of crumpet’. But, he adds, ‘the more you met her, the more you knew she was a nutter’.

Clearly, Paul didn’t think so. Nor did he seem bothered by the stories now emerging that suggested Heather had been a party girl who kept company with rich Arabs, including the Saudi ­billionaire Adnan Khashoggi. Why did Paul invest such trust in a self-­publicising minor celebrity with a dubious past?

Mike Robbins thinks he knows the answer: sex. Paul had been in a monogamous relationship for almost 30 years and then along came a busty blonde who may have had a certain expertise in the bedroom. ‘I’m being crude now, but he was c**k happy. He confused sex with love,’ says Mike. ‘He couldn’t tell the difference.’
Another way to look at Paul’s relationship with Heather is to consider that, like John ­Lennon, he’d spent his adult life being venerated by almost everybody he met.

Indeed, both Beatles had become so famous, so rich and so powerful that they were inevitably slightly monstrous. And they were only ­comfortable with women who weren’t overawed by their fame.

When Heather admired a beach house near Hove in ­Sussex, Paul lent her £800,000 to buy it. By then, nearing 60, he also delighted in arranging romantic ­surprises - so he flew with her to India for her 33rd ­birthday and took her shopping in Manhattan on ­Valentine’s Day.

Not everyone believed she was equally smitten. Anthony Smith, president of Magdalen ­College, Oxford, who had them both to stay several times while Paul was writing a choral work for the college, says: ‘You know when a woman loves a man she’s with and there was no love there. Everyone could see it. Everyone around them. You could just see it, you could feel it, and he didn’t, or he’d convinced himself that because he was a good man - which he is, an extremely morally motivated person in all things, I think - he felt he ought to love her. That’s my theory.’

Among Sir Paul’s friends and ­associates, the consensus was that Heather was trouble. The musician Eric Stewart of 10CC was so ­concerned about his old friend that he wrote a letter to Paul, warning him about Heather. He didn’t get a reply, nor could he get through to Paul on the phone. ‘It was like he was trying to sweep out anybody who knew him and Linda together.’

When Paul introduced Heather Mills to Tony Bramwell, another old friend, the former Beatles employee recognised Heather as a girl who used to hang around the London club scene. ‘Heather looked at me in horror,’ Bramwell says, ‘knowing I’d been in the clubs when she was slapping around looking for a rich man.’
Unwilling to spend time in his ­company, she announced: ‘There’s nobody interesting here - I’m going shopping.’ Paul followed her meekly.

Bramwell concluded that Heather was every bit as horrible as he’d always found Yoko Ono to be.

That summer of 2001, Paul dropped down on his knee at a hotel in the Lake District, gave his girlfriend a sapphire and diamond ring and asked her to marry him. When she said yes, he burst into tears. In the new year, he bought her more jewellery, gave her a joint Coutts credit card and advanced her £150,000 to ­decorate her new house near Hove, writing off the original £800,000 home loan as a gift. He then embarked on a spring tour of North America, with Heather in tow. Photographs suggest they were the image of happiness at this time, but away from the cameras there were ugly scenes.

In mid-May, when the tour reached Florida, Paul and Heather had checked into the Turnberry Isle Resort and Club in Miami. In the early hours, hotel guests awoke to hear Paul shouting: ‘I don’t want to marry you. The wedding’s off!’ Heather’s engagement ring was then apparently flung from their hotel window. The next day, hotel staff hired metal detectors to find it. However, the relationship was patched up in time for a lavish 2002 wedding in Ireland.

There was no sign of Paul’s son James or his ­adoptive daughter Heather, both of whom were ­understood to be against Dad’s ­second marriage. Most of the other rellies turned up, but their ­enjoyment of the big day was tempered by ­suspicions about the bride. ‘By then the family knew - my family are not dopey - this was a wrong’un,’ says Mike Robbins.

Afterwards, Paul resumed his North American tour and Heather did a TV interview with broadcaster Barbara Walters. ‘I am married to the most famous person in the world and that is very unfortunate for me,’ said the new Lady McCartney, making it clear she didn’t like her charity work being overshadowed. Indeed, she seemed to find her husband generally annoying. ‘This is a man who has had his own way his entire life,’ she told Walters.

The interview allegedly led to a spectacular argument with Paul - one of a series that would ­eventually lead them to the divorce courts. Heather complained to him that Walters had raised some of the less flattering stories about her early life. But he apparently dismissed her concerns, saying she was in a mood. Heather decided he was drunk. According to her account in the divorce documents: ‘[Paul] grabbed [Heather] by the neck and pushed her over a coffee table. He then went outside and in his drunken state he fell down a hill, cutting his arm.’

Still, Heather’s experience didn’t put her off chat shows: she appeared repeatedly on Larry King Live in the months to come, facing ­increasingly tough ­questions about her past. That December, Paul gave her a cash gift of £250,000 - which she used to help buy a £450,000 flat in Hammersmith, West London - then set up a £360,000-a-year ­allowance for her. Meanwhile, more ­people were starting to talk.

A childhood girlfriend disputed details in Heather’s memoirs about the two of them being held prisoner by a paedophile. She sued Heather and won compensation. Charles Stapley, effectively Heather’s stepfather, likewise disputed Heather’s story of ­running away from home at 14. ‘She did go and sleep in the back of a truck with a chap who worked on the dodgems, but that was just at weekends,’ he said, describing Heather as a ‘damaged personality’.

The Clapham jeweller who’d employed Heather as a teenager alleged that she stole far more than she’d admitted - including gold chains worth £25,000. ‘She virtually plundered the shop,’ he said. Most damaging was the ­testimony of two women associates of Adnan Khashoggi, who spoke of Heather enjoying the high life with rich Arabs in London at a time she’d claimed to be working as a ­swimsuit model in Paris.

Again, Heather was upset, but Paul seemed indifferent. 'An argument ensued in the­ ­bathroom during which [Paul] became angry and pushed [Heather] into the bath,’ according to the divorce papers. When Paul’s tour moved on to Hamburg in Germany, he introduced Heather to his old friends Horst Fascher and Astrid Kirchherr, whom he had met there when touring in the early Sixties. Astrid didn’t warm to her.

She reflects: ‘He was so protected by Linda, and surrounded with her love and care, that he was like an unborn baby towards women and Heather could just roll him around her fingers . . . She turned out to be a bitch.’ In the summer of 2003, Paul took Heather to his U.S. holiday home in Long Island. Another big row ­allegedly ensued, this time over his pot-smoking. As her divorce ­petition states: ‘[Heather] asked [Sir Paul] if he had been smoking marijuana. He became very angry, yelled at her, grabbed her neck and started choking her.’

Despite apparently being at each other’s throats, Heather fell pregnant a few months later. Back on Paul’s Sussex estate, the month before she gave birth, they allegedly had another row which resulted in broken crockery, glasses and lamps. A mark on the wall also indicated that Heather had thrown a bottle of ketchup at her 61-year-old husband.

After their baby Beatrice was born in October 2003, Paul renewed his efforts to make the marriage work. But more problems arose because Heather wanted to ­establish herself as a media personality in the U.S., while he wanted them to live as a family in the UK. Few people were able to be candid to Paul’s face, of course. His ­children had tried to tell him what they thought of Heather, but he didn’t want to know Heather had other complaints.

Paul, she claimed, didn’t want her to breastfeed Beatrice, saying ‘they are my breasts’ and ‘I don’t want a mouthful of breast milk’. She also resented having to cook for him every night, as his mum and Linda had done. Plus she liked to get up early, but he slept late, and wanted her beside him when he woke.

Another bone of contention was Paul’s Manhattan townhouse, which was partly used by his music publishing business. Heather made it clear she had her eye on space downstairs as a private office, but he refused to let her have it. When he ‘reluctantly agreed to ­provide her with alternative office space in the city’, according to the divorce papers, Heather told Paul that the office, a 20-minute walk away, was too small and too far away. She refused to use it and he called her an ‘ungrateful bitch’. Some may think he had a point. In 2005 alone, he’d given his wife ­jewellery worth £264,000.

Yet like Oliver Twist, Heather always wanted more. In November, she emailed Paul Winn, Paul’s accountant, asking him to pay £480,000 into her NatWest bank account so she could clear a ­mortgage for that amount on her Hammersmith flat. She asked for the money twice, but didn’t receive it - for the very good reason there was no mortgage on the flat (a situation later ­characterised in court as verging on the fraudulent).

Just before the final break-up, Heather tried again to extract cash from Winn to clear what she now claimed were four loans on the Hammersmith property, totalling £450,000. Seven weeks after the accountant had knocked back this latest request, on April 25, 2006, the ­couple allegedly had an explosive argument which ended with Sir Paul pouring the remainder of a bottle of red wine over Heather.

According to the divorce papers: ‘[Sir Paul] then reached to grab [Heather’s] wine glass and broke the bowl of the glass from the stem. He then lunged at [her] with the broken, sharp stem of the wine glass, which cut and pierced [her] arm just below the elbow and it began to bleed profusely. He proceeded to manhandle [her] . . . screaming at her to ­apologise for “winding him up”’ (Paul strenuously denies these allegations). Days later, after less than four years of married life, they separated.

Not long afterwards, a 1988 ­German sex manual emerged in which Heather was pictured nude and semi-nude, simulating sex acts with an equally bare male model. Then even more explicit pictures were uncovered, showing her with her legs splayed.

Such was the sorry state of Paul’s private life as he reached 64 - immortalised in his song When I’m 64, in which he’d imagined an ­uxorious old age, scrimping and saving to make ends meet. In fact, he had a net wealth of approximately £387 million, making him one of the richest entertainers in the world, but a marriage that had crashed and burned.

For his divorce case, he adopted a policy of dignified silence, while his estranged wife compared herself to Princess Diana and wailed: ‘I’ve had worse press than a paedophile or a murderer and I’ve done ­nothing but charity for 20 years.’ Her ­popularity plummeted, ­reaching its nadir when TV ­presenter Jonathan Ross described Heather as such a ‘f***ing liar [I] wouldn’t be surprised if we found out she’s actually got two legs’.

Having parted company with her lawyers, she decided to represent herself, asking the judge for a £125 million settlement. But Mr Justice ­Bennett ­disagreed, ruling that Paul should pay her £16.5 million in cash and other assets, meaning that she left the marriage with a total of £24.3million. Despite winning this vast sum, Heather was furious. In the closing moments of the case, she tipped a jug of water over the head of Paul’s lawyer, Fiona Shackleton.

Her woes multiplied when Mr Justice Bennett’s judgment was made public against her wishes. ‘I am driven to the conclusion,’ he wrote, ‘that much of her evidence, both written and oral, was not just inconsistent and inaccurate but also less than candid.’ He noted that she’d made ‘untrue and distorted allegations’ against Paul - and ordered that neither of them should disclose any further details to the media.

This was a severe blow to Heather. Unable to say anything of ­substance about her famous ex-husband, and with plenty of money to spend, she soon faded into semi-obscurity. And in the two years since the divorce, she has employed a ­succession of public relations ­consultants, who have found ­themselves hard-pressed to improve her image.

Of course, any woman who ­married Paul was always going to have a near impossible task: living up to his first wife, Linda, whose image as the ultimate earth mother was only enhanced by her untimely death from breast ­cancer in 1998.

However, as we will see on ­Monday, when Linda first came into Paul’s life she was far removed from the maternal vegetarian campaigner who was to become almost as famous as her husband. Far from it. She was a single mother who made a living ­photographing rock stars who she then often slept with - one friend dubbed her a ‘groping groupie’.

And long before she met any of the Beatles, she decided she liked the look of the baby-faced one. From then on, Paul McCartney was her number one target.

Extracted from Fab: An Intimate Life Of Sir Paul McCartney by Howard Sounes, published by HarperCollins on August 25 at £20. © Howard Sounes 2010. To buy a copy at £18 (p&p free), call 0845 155 0720.
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Top 20 Supremes Hits

The Supremes: Diana Ross (left), Mary Wilson (...Image via WikipediaBy Carl Megill

In 1959, an R&B female vocal group from Detroit got together and called themselves The Primettes. The group consisted of lead singer Diana Ross, Mary Wilson, Florence Ballard and Barbara Martin. They signed with the little known LuPine label in 1960. That same year, The Primettes signed with Motown's Tamla label and a year later, in 1961, The Primettes became known as The Supremes. Barbara Martin left soon thereafter, making the group a trio.

For three years, The Supremes worked as backing vocalists for other Motown artists. They can be heard backing Marvin Gaye on his 1963 hit, "Can I Get A Witness?" Late in 1963, The Supremes cracked the Billboard Top 40 charts for the first time with "When The Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes." Five of their next six singles went to number one. In all, they had twelve number one hits.

Although they were riding high on the charts, there was a lot of friction between Diana Ross and Florence Ballard. It all came to a head in 1967, when Motown boss, Berry Gordy, discharged Ballard and replaced her with Cindy Birdsong, who had been with Patti LaBalle's Bluebelles. Diana Ross left the group in 1969 and was replaced by Jean Terrell. Ross had an extremely successful solo career, but The Supremes only managed to crack the top ten two more times. Their last charted single was in 1976. In 1978, Mary Wilson reformed the group as Mary Wilson and The Supremes, but lost the rights to use the name The Supremes, following a tour in England.

Below are The Supremes twenty biggest hits, according to Billboard magazine.

1. Baby Love - 1964
2. Love Child - 1968
3. Where Did Our Love Go - 1964 - Donnie Elbert took this song to #15 on the weekly charts in 1971.
4. Come See About Me - 1964
5. You Can't Hurry Love - 1966 - In 1983, Phil Collins took a cover version of this song to #10.
6. Stop! In The Name Of Love - 1965
7. I Hear A Symphony - 1966
8. You Keep Me Hangin' On - 1966 - A psychedelic rock version of this song went to #6, by Vanilla Fudge, in 1968 and, twenty-one years after the original version, Kim Wilde also went to #1 in 1987.
9. Someday, We'll Be Together - 1969 - The Supremes last #1 song with Diana Ross and a very apropos title as their swan song.
10. Back In My Arms Again - 1965
11. Love Is Here And Now You're Gone - 1967
12. The Happening - 1967 - From the movie of the same title.
13. I'm Gonna Make You Love Me - 1969 - Here the Supremes teamed up with The Temptations, who, ironically, were called The Primes, when they first came to Motown and covered this Madeline Bell tune which went to #26 for her in 1968.
14. Reflections - 1967
15. My World Is Empty Without You - 1966
16. Stoned Love - 1970 - One of two songs for the Supremes that went top ten without Diana Ross on leads.
17. Love Is Like An Itching In My Heart - 1966
18. In And Out Of Love - 1967 - One of 17 top forty songs written by the team of Eddie Holland, Lamont Dozier and Brian Holland for the Supremes.
19. Up The Ladder To The Roof - 1970 - The first single for the Supremes after Diana Ross stepped down as lead singer.
20. I'm Livin' In Shame - 1969

On a sad note, Florence Ballard tried suing Motown over her being fired, but lost the suit. In 1976, after spending some time on welfare and trying to support her three children, Florence Ballard died of cardiac arrest at the age of 32.

The Supremes were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.

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On the 40th Anniversary of the Summer of '69

Kay Lahusen at the Annual Reminder in 1969.Image via WikipediaBy Ken Howard

Now that summer is over, I reflect on the fact that the Summer of 2009 marks the 40th Anniversary of the Summer of 1969 - and what a summer that was! Mind you, I was only 4 years old at the time, so I don't remember much of it from an adult's point of view, but had I been older then, I think I would have noticed - and appreciated - what that time meant socially and historically. It was a doozie if you look at it from my point of view and the things I'm interested in.

Such as, Judy Garland died of an accidental overdose of the barbiturate/sleep aid Seconal on June 22. She was only 47 - 2 years older than I am now - and yet made show business history in those short years in movies, radio, concerts, and television, and became arguably the greatest gay male icon of all time. Her death was a lesson in what substances can mean to us. I work with clients all the time whose lives have been saved, improved, and are thriving thanks to the helpful benefits of prescription medication. However, Judy's legacy is an example of how these medications must always be treated with respect, even reverence, lest they take over our lives.

Plus, her life example is that you don't have to live very long to make a lasting impression on the world. Her death is rumored to have fueled the anger of gay men in the Stonewall Riots, also in June, 1969, which marks the ceremonial beginning of the modern gay rights movement (though gay historians really like to poignantly challenge this, and with good reason - gay rights organizations existed in the 50′s, 20′s, and before).

Sometimes, a great loss like Judy's death, can be an inspiration. Gay men tore down barriers during those nights of rioting in New York City and paved the way for a more just, dignified, legitimate, respected, and mainstream existence than ever before. Bless those drag queens throwing rocks!

Perhaps the darkest events of an otherwise sunny summer were the murders over two nights perpetrated by the young gang under the influence of the crazed Charles Manson. This event, chronicled in the book Helter Skelter , and others has not lost its macabre appeal in over 40 years. The fact that one man, insane and evil as anyone has ever been, could "influence" others to literally commit murders on his behalf on innocent people (though he wouldn't call them that), boggles the sane mind. Sure; everybody loves a hero. Groupies (especially younger women) have idolized "powerful" "bad boy" men for centuries. That they would kill for him shows that mind control is a very real, dangerous thing, and underscores why a healthy questioning of authority - whether it's toward Charles Manson or George W. Bush - is always a healthy thing. The Manson Murders were also an example of the concept of "collective trauma".

Native Angelenos (people of Los Angeles) will often tell how no one in LA was quite as "trusting" after those events. People locked their doors. They viewed others with suspicion. They lost some "innocence". And the golden summers of Los Angeles would never be the same.

Perhaps not until 9/11/01 would such a large group of Americans feel the collective grief caused by one small "well-meaning" group's evilly self-indulgent malicious acts with such shared trauma. This event showed us that while we might generally try to love our fellow Man, we always have to reserve just a little "fight or flight" in the back of our minds to guard and protect ourselves, that evil exists, and that strengthening the mind with the ability for objective, critical thinking is a powerful tool that should be a part of every young man's or woman's emotional/intellectual/social development, lest they be at the mercy of an influential madman.

The Summer of 1969 also brought us the landing on the moon in July. I remember watching many (rather dull) hours looking at our kind of dark TV screen, with lousy sound quality coming from the major networks' connection to the lunar capsule. It was hard to see the dark, poor-resolution images, yet I knew because my entire family was gathered around the TV set, including my grandparents who were visiting, that this was a momentous occasion.

Back then, the most momentous occasion on TV each year for me was the annual showing of "The Wizard of Oz" (see above; starring Judy Garland) ( But as I got older, I became more grateful that I was "there to see" the moon landing "live" on TV as a part of my personal biography. It was both dull and extraordinary at the same time.

I also have a great affinity for another event of Summer, 1969 - the Woodstock Music Festival. I think to this day, seeing news coverage of that event has fueled my admittedly rabid attraction to guys with long hair. Even then, I knew that the liberation, expression, and meaning of that festival meant a challenge to the status quo - status quos like racism, homophobia, sexism, and the general conservatism with which I grew up that I have generally learned to eschew at every turn.

Sure, drugs used to serious abuse is a problem, and I treat clients for these kinds of problems every day in my practice - I get it - but in the "innocence" of the Festival at Woodstock, drug use was minor, I believe, to the overall meaning of what it means for a society to move from the Piscean age of black/white, right/wrong, winner/loser, to the true Aquarian Age of enlightened understanding and tolerance.

Just 39 years later, when Prop 8 was enacted into the California Constitution as the first time equal, legal, civil rights had been taken away from an entire class of people (the right of gay/lesbian adult citizens of California to marry), we could have certainly used some of the tolerant, joyous, celebratory, inclusive, loving spirit that Woodstock represented.

Summer of 1969 was also the year the Beatles were seriously starting to break up, and it marked the closing of the 60′s and all that the decade represented.

The 70′s were their own special time, and maybe I'll muse more on that later (that sparked my equally rabid devotion to guys with great sideburns, so I guess every decade has its "men's style" aphrodisiac in my Universe). I think when we see how awfully conservative things got in the 80′s, with the Cold War, "greed is good", conspicuous consumption, the return of racism and homophobia (as if they ever really went away), AIDS/HIV, and the hard Right turn in the country under the leadership of the murderous Darth Vader (aka, Ronald Wilson Reagan - 6-6-6), we would do well to remember the 60′s and 70′s, and the momentous summer of 1969, that meant so much to so many.

Part of "Having the Life You Want", I feel, is living in gratitude, and celebration, of all that is around us - in the present, certainly, but also in our appreciation of our own life history, or history before our lives even began. Anniversaries help us to note this gratitude, savor it, and celebrate it. As the 40th Anniversary of the Summer of 1969 comes to a close, I'm doing all that. Let the Sunshine In!

Ken Howard, LCSW, is a licensed psychotherapist and life coach specializing in helping gay men bridge the gap between how life is, and they would like it to be, in important areas of life such as health, mental health, career, family, and relationships, with offices in West Hollywood, California. Call 310-726-4357 or visit for additional information and other articles.

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Grace Slick - Five Surprising Facts About a Sixties Rock Star

The Best of Grace SlickImage via WikipediaBy Pearl Deans

Grace Slick will forever be known as the focal point of the iconic sixties rock band Jefferson Airplane. As a songwriter, a singer, and a sex symbol, Grace set herself apart from the female singer/songwriters of the hippie era by the force of her personality and her authenticity as a full fledged member of a premiere rock band.

Grace Slick was born Grace Barnett Wing, October 30, 1939. According to the FBI, Grace was born in Highland Park, Illinois, although Grace Slick tells people she was born in Chicago.

In the early 1950s Grace's family moved from Illinois to California, where she attended middle school and high school. Grace attended Finch College in New York and the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, in the late 1950s and even did a little modeling in the early 1960s.

In 1965 Grace and her first husband, Jerry Slick, saw the newly formed Jefferson Airplane perform at The Matrix. Realizing that she could make much more money and have a lot more fun in a rock band, Grace decided to give up modeling and start a music career. Grace, Jerry Slick, his brother, Darby Slick and other friends formed their own band, The Great Society. The group debuted during the autumn of 1965 with Grace providing vocals, guitar, piano, and the recorder. She and her brother-in-law wrote a majority of the songs. By early 1966 The Great Society was one of the popular psychedelic acts in the Bay area.

Jefferson Airplane

In 1966, Jefferson Airplane asked Grace Slick to replace their lead singer Signe Toly Anderson. It didn't take Grace long to become firmly established as a full fledged member of the band, an equal among equals. Soon after Grace joined Airplane, the band began recording an album which included two The Great Society tunes: "White Rabbit" and "Somebody to Love". By 1967, Surrealistic Pillow and its singles were great successes and Jefferson Airplane was one of the best-known bands in the country.

From 1966 to 1971 Grace Slick wrote several memorable songs: "White Rabbit", "Rejoyce", "Greasy Heart", "Eskimo Blue Day", and "Lather." She became the face of the 1960s counter culture and became notorious for her outrageous, reckless, and violent behavior, usually fueled by alcohol.

By early 1971 Jefferson Airplane was over. Grace Slick retired from the music business in 1989. Currently Grace spends her time as a celebrity artist, selling and exhibiting her drawings and paintings.


From 1966 to 1971, Jefferson Airplane contributed to the soundtrack of the social and cultural revolution that affected America profoundly and spread throughout the world. Grace Slick, as a singer, song writer, musician and collaborator in that band has earned a unique place as a star of the 1960s Cultural Revolution. The song "White Rabbit", written by Grace Slick, became an anthem for those seeking altered states of consciousness.

The 1970s and 1980s saw Jefferson Airplane transform to Jefferson Starship and then to Starship - a transformation that is illustrative of what happened to rock music and the youth culture as commercialization overtook the music and middle age overtook those rock stars who managed to survive the psychedelic sixties.
Grace Slick was an important figure in the 1960s psychedelic rock genre, and is known for her witty lyrics and powerful contralto vocals. Slick's legacy as a trail blazing rock star remains to this day. She paved the way for countless female vocalists, writers and performers seeking to emulate her unique style.

Five Facts About Grace Slick
  1. Grace Slick is purported to have written "White Rabbit" in an hour.
  2. Grace is the vocalist for some of Sesame Street's often played musical shorts, Jazzy Spies, which featured a frenetic musical background while a singer repeatedly intoned the particular numeral being highlighted. Her then-husband, Jerry Slick, actually produced those segments.
  3. After giving birth to her only child, China Kantner, Grace gave birth to an urban legend when she sarcastically told a nurse that she intended to name the child "god". The nurse took Grace seriously, not understanding it was a joke.
  4. Grace was married and divorced twice. Her first husband was Gerald "Jerry" Slick. Although Paul Kantner and Grace Slick had a serious relationship from 1969 to 1974 and have a daughter, they were never legally married. Grace married Skip Johnson in 1976, they divorced in 1994.
  5. Grace Slick was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 (as a member of Jefferson Airplane).
Pearl has been writing articles online for nearly eight years now. She also writes as a guest contributor for which reviews all types of Hello Kitty Halloween Items.

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Northern Soul Gems From the Past

northern soulImage by doner black arm via FlickrBy Russell Thorp

Have you ever been in a bar or dance club, and heard someone remark that they'd like to hear some of that "rare northern soul?" Most people have heard of soul music, a genre that originated among the African-American population in the United States. Part blues, part gospel, and part funk, soul music has a reputation for having catchy rhythms and funky beats, which as emphasized by singer and musicians that use handclaps and rapid body movements to further express the sentiments of the song. When it comes to the genre of northern soul, however, you must look far across the ocean to England for its true origins.

When the British mod scene was nearing its end in the 1960s, young music lovers were looking for a new sound to call their own. Many were in love with the early artists that had come out of the American Motown scene, with their upbeat rhythms and light-hearted attitudes. The music was easy to love and even easier to dance to. But when American Motown began moving toward the funk and soul of the 1970s, many of the artists emerging with the original style later on the scene were quickly brushed aside. Not so in England, however, where a small contingency of Motown aficionados were requesting more rare northern soul than ever before.

The reason the term "rare northern soul" is so often used to refer to this style of music is because even from the time that it began growing in popularity, it was a dying genre. With the American Motown scene moving further and further away from the sounds that kids in Northern England loved to hear, they set out on a mission to find rare and even unreleased artists that had the music they were looking for.

Slowly by surely, record store owners started to notice that there was an entire group of music lovers that were more interested in the rare northern soul than the more popular music coming up the charts. To respond to this demand, they started looking for the most obscure artists, one-hit-wonders, and records to ever come out of the soul music movement. That's why the hunt for northern soul records is almost as exciting as dancing to the music: because there are only a finite amount of artists that fit into this category. If you're looking to start your collection, there are plenty of websites completely dedicated to this type of music.

If you are looking for rare soul vinyl look no further than Rare where you can buy Northern Soul Music, 70s Soul Music, Motown, crossover soul, oldies soul and rare 45s.

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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Top 20 Rolling Stones Hits

Cover of "The Rolling Stones - Gimme Shel...Cover via AmazonBy Carl Megill

In April 1962, The Rolling Stones were formed with members Brian Jones, Ian Stewart, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts. This British R&B influenced rock group got their name from a Muddy Waters song.

Former Beatles publicist, Andrew Loog Oldham, signed "The Stones" to a management deal in 1963 and began promoting them as "the bad boys of rock and roll", compared to the Beatles' squeaky clean image. Oldham also produced their first albums between 1964 and 1967.

The Rolling Stones' first UK tour took place in 1964, along with the Ronettes. Their first American Top 40 hit came in 1964 with "Tell Me (You're Coming Back)" followed by "It's All Over Now." They finally reached the Top Ten with "Time Is On My Side."

Shortly after leaving the group in 1969, guitarist Brian Jones drowned in his swimming pool in Sussex, England. Mick Taylor replaced Jones as guitarist and Ron Wood replaced Taylor in 1975. Wood had previously played in the bands, The Jeff Beck Group and Faces with Rod Stewart.

The Rolling Stones were never without controversy. That includes the film, "Gimme Shelter," a documentary of their controversial Altamont concert in 1969, where someone in the audience was murdered by a member of the Hell's Angels.

Chart wise, The Rolling Stones had forty-one Top 40 hits between 1964 and 1989 and, according to the Billboard's weekly charts, they went to #1 eight times. Their last Top 40 hit was "Rock And A Hard Place" in 1989.

Lead vocalist, Mick Jagger, tried recording solo and managed to crack the Top 40 four times, with his biggest hit being a cover version of the Martha and the Vandellas "Dancing In The Street." He teamed up with David Bowie on this tune, which was recorded at the Live-Aid benefit concert in 1985 and it went Top 10. Jagger even made it to #3 in 1984 as a guest vocalist on The Jacksons' hit "State Of Shock."

Here are The Rolling Stones twenty biggest hits, according to the Billboard charts.

1. Honky Tonk Women - 1969
2. (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction - 1965 - Otis Redding took a cover version of this song Top 40 in 1966.
3. Brown Sugar - 1971
4. Get Off My Cloud - 1965
5. Paint It, Black - 1966
6. Miss You - 1978
7. Angie - 1973
8. Ruby Tuesday - 1967
9. Start Me Up - 1981
10. 19th Nervous Breakdown - 1966
11. Emotional Rescue - 1980
12. Jumpin' Jack Flash - 1968 - in 1986, Aretha Franklin took a cover version of this hit to #21 on the weekly charts.
13. Harlem Shuffle - 1986
14. Mixed Emotions - 1989
15. Time Is On My Side - 1964
16. As Tears Go By - 1966 - Marianne Faithfull went Top 40 with this hit in 1965.
17. Tumbling Dice - 1972 - Linda Ronstadt went Top 40 with a cover version of this Stones hit in 1978.
18. Beast Of Burden - 1978
19. Mothers Little Helper - 1966 - The "B" side of this single, "Lady Jane" went to #24 on the weekly charts in 1966.
20. Undercover Of The Night - 1983

The Rolling Stones won a Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 1986 and they were inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1989. Still going strong, The Rolling Stones continue to tour and record, 46 years, after cracking the U.S. charts for the first time.

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Feminist Icon Kate Millett

Katharine Murray Millett, 1970 by Alice Neel, ...Image by cliff1066™ via FlickrBy Jacqui Ceballos

Kate was born in 1934 in St Paul, MN, the middle of three daughters. Her parents separated when she was very young, and Kate remembers her mother struggling to earn enough to support her daughters. She received her B.A. from the University of Minnesota in 1956 and in 1958 obtained a first-class degree with honors from St Hilda's College, Oxford.

In 1961 Kate moved to Japan to study sculpture. Two years later she returned to the United States with fellow sculptor Fumio Yoshimura, whom she married in 1965, and lived in a three-story loft in New York's famous Bowery. Fumio's art gallery on the top floor was filled with his kites and flying sculptures, Kate's was on the second floor where her works were as down-to-earth as his were ethereal. I especially remember her toilet sculpture of a woman's legs in high heels straddling the bowl. What a statement!

In 1968 the toilet graced the Park Avenue building, home of Colgate-Palmolive, where NOW members announced to the world that this company, which sold its products to women, was discriminatory against its female employees financially and professionally. As Anselma dell'Olio poured Ajax down the toilet, we all shouted, "This is where you throw AJAX, women!" In one week C-P changed it's policy.

Kate also led the week-long demonstration against the New York Times to protest that newspaper's refusal to follow Title VII guidelines and desegregate its Help Wanted ads. At the crack of dawn Kate was in front of the Times building urging us on.

Others spent hours in Kate's loft typing "Token Learning," Kate's work accusing the Seven Sisters colleges of betraying their trust by not providing education for women equal to that of men while boasting that their mission was "to educate women to become good wives and mothers."

Besides her work with NOW and radical groups, Kate helped organize and run Barnard Women's Liberation. It is a mystery how she had time to write her Ph.D dissertation which, when published as SEXUAL POLITICS in 1970, made her famous and changed her life. The book was said to be "the first book of academic feminist literary criticism" and "one of the first feminist books of this decade to raise nationwide male ire." It was dedicated to her husband, Fumio Yoshimura, who was also a feminist.

For a while she was a media darling. But Kate was never comfortable with her fame. She didn't want to be a "spokesperson" for the Movement, which the media expected of her, and she hated the loss of her privacy. Then, at a talk she was giving at Barnard in 1970 someone shouted out that Kate should come out as bisexual and all hell broke loose. TIME magazine, which had featured her on its cover and had raved about her book, now discredited her. It was a shock to Kate and to everyone who knew and loved her.

Sales of her book fell, speaking engagements dried up, and it seemed her own country didn't appreciate her. But she was greatly admired by feminists around the world and she traveled to many countries speaking and inspiring women. She continued writing, though her other books weren't as well received as Sexual Politics. made films and spent more time at her art.

In 1971 her marriage to Yoshimura ended, but they remained good friends. She'd bought fields and buildings near Poughkeepsie, N.Y, and, after her divorce she created a Women's Art Colony, a community of female artists and writers paid for by the sale of her silk-screen prints and the Christmas trees hand-sheared by the artists in residence. In 2004, she sold most of the fields, but retained a home there where she spends the summers and most weekends.

A few years ago Kate was diagnosed, like many of her generation, as "bipolar". She did something unusual: she won her own sanity trial in St. Paul. On a dare with her lawyer, together they changed the State of Minnesota's commitment law. She has since become an advocate for all those who labor under the stigma of mental health - as a representative of MindFreedom International at the United Nations regarding the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, recently signed by President Obama.

Today she divides her time between her New York apartment and the farm in Poughkeepsie, writing, sculpting, and painting.

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The Sitar - Its Influence on Popular Music

George Harrison with Ravi Shankar, 1967Image via WikipediaBy Michelle Lawrie

Legend says that the sitar was invented by Amir Khusro, an Indian poet, scholar and musician. Mainly used in Hindustani classical music, the sitar has been around for over 700 years. Made with a gourd body (often carved out of a pumpkin), the sitar comprises the basic elements of a stringed instrument. It has a neck, pegs, strings and a body. A sitar can have 18, 19 or 20 strings, it also has 11, 12 or 13 sympathetic strings of which 3 or 4 provide the drone and these are located underneath the frets.

Up until the 1960s, the sitar had never been used in popular music. George Harrison was to change all that.
During a break in the filming of Help, Harrison picked up a sitar (being used as prop) and attempted to play it. After this encounter he began getting lessons from the legendary sitar player Ravi Shankar. Soon after in 1965, the Beatles produced the first released Western pop song to include the sitar - Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown), in which George played the Indian instrument.

The Beatles would go on to further display their influence from the sitar, writing songs such as Tomorrow Never Knows, Across The Universe and many more. Following their success with blending the sitar and popular music, other Indian instruments were introduced into their compositions, such as the tabla and tamboura.

Creating a very psychedelic effect on the music, many artists followed The Beatles in using the sitar and other Indian instruments. Musicians such as The Rolling Stones (Paint It Black), The Lemon Pipers (Green Tambourine), Donovan (Hurdy Gurdy Man) all found inspiration through the sitar. Even to this day popular musicians are using the sitar to enhance their creations, Newton Faulkner being one of the more recent artists to include sitar on his tracks.

Undeniably, the sitar has had a profound effect on popular music as we know it. Fusing the Indian instrument with Western instruments has worked wonders and produced some mind-blowing classic songs.

Michelle Lawrie is a guitar and singing teacher based in Scotland.

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Saturday, August 14, 2010

OPINION: Top 20 Guitarists Of All Time - Guitar Players

The WhoThe Who via last.fmBy Chaz Beers
It was a dark and rainy night. The courthouse clock struck midnight; a stray dog howled. It was all too beautiful when the staff of Gear Vault convened for their semi-annual secret meeting with the confines of the beloved cinder block chamber they call their "office." Their agenda? To decide the 20 most important people in guitar.

1. Jimi Hendrix

Widely recognized as one of the most creative and influential musicians of the 20th century, Jimi Hendrix pioneered the explosive possibilities of the electric guitar. Hendrix's innovative style of combining fuzz, feedback and controlled distortion created a new musical form. Because he was unable to read or write music, it is nothing short of remarkable that Jimi Hendrix's meteoric rise in the music took place in just four short years. His musical language continues to influence a host of modern musicians, from George Clinton to Miles Davis, and Steve Vai to Jonny Lang. Hendrix was the revolutionary guitar god, enuff said!

2. Edward Van Halen

Edward Van Halen once likened his guitar playing to "falling down the stairs and landing on my feet." Eddie's had thirteen albums' worth of such happy accidents and in the process has changed the way people play, hear and think about the electric guitar. With his unorthodox technique, dare-devil whammy bar antics and fearless experimentation, Van Halen revitalized heavy guitar after it had run its course in the Seventies. Espousing an I-just-play-that's-all-I-do attitude and favoring basic gear like stock Marshalls. Peavey 5150s, homemade, slapped together guitars and simple, minimal stop box effects, Van Halen became guitar's greatest hero by becoming its unassuming anti-hero.

From the jaw-dropping gymnastics of Van Halen's "Eruption" to the eerie, tidal crescendos of "Catherdral" on Diver Down, through his 1984 chart-topping synth experiments and spirit of 5150 and For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, Eddie has remained innovative throughout his career. Never one to wait around for the electrician, Van Halen prefers building his own gear-and if it doesn't always look pretty, well, beauty is in the ear of beholder.

By "Frankensteining" his first striped guitar from $130 worth of parts, Van Halen launched his quest for the elusive "brown sound - "big, warm and majestic" - and gave rock guitarists a new holy grail of tone to seek in the post-Jimmy page era. His single-pick up and volume control innovation changed the way guitars looked and sounded, popularized the previously obscure Kramer Guitars, and inspired the do-it-yourself guitar gear industry. Eddie's custom-designed Peavey amps and his with Sterling Ball on his Music Man guitars prove that Van Halen still believes the artist should retain creative input on his equipment.

As a player, Van Halen single-handedly-well, dual-handedly-introduced millions of rock players such exciting techniques as two-handed tapping and harmonics. Before 1978, guitar just had to be loud and fast. Eddie's playing is also tasteful and always in context, a fact that distinguishes him from his legions of imitators. While he's unimpressed by the copycat syndrome, it cannot be denied that many players first picked up a guitar after Van Halen's dazzling licks. But none of them can fall down the stairs with such brilliance.

3. Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton has successfully reinvented himself dozens of times: Rave-Up King with the Yardbirds; Holy Father of the Anglo-blues with the Bluesbreakers; free-form improvisational genius with Cream; chameleon rises to every musical occasion. By 1965 the 20-year-old Clapton was already a legend. He'd introduced the blues to the masses, interpreting and updating what had been a largely unknown form for the rock generation. Simultaneously, his lush, Les Paul-driven tone marked the absolute turning point in the history of rock, transforming what had been a good-time twang instrument into a vehicle for profound expression.

Ultimately, the most enduring image of the great guitarist will be of Clapton the bluesman, standing on a corner of a stage and exposing his psychic wounds to the masses. It is interesting, though, that, while "bluesy" in feel, his most memorable songs-"Layla," "Tears In Heaven"-do not utilize the blues structure.

While most of Clapton's contemporaries talk reunion and revival, he never retreats behind memories of his "good old days." His Unplugged album, which was enormously successful - both for him and acoustic guitar manufacturers - included a radical remake of "Layla." Clapton is one artist who has learned how to grow up.

4. Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney has spent very little of his career playing six-string guitar. But as a bassist, he almost single-handedly made guitar players' jobs a whole lot easier. When the Beatles first arrived on the scene, rarely was the bass even heard on most pop records; players seldom attempted anything more adventurous than a root-fifth accompaniment. But McCartney, who not only played bass, but sang, enlivened the Beatles' material with dynamic, moving basslines on his famous Hofner and, later, a Rickenbacker 4001. By the time the Beatles began work on Sergeant Pepper's, McCartney as pumping out bass melodies that carried entire songs, with the result that the Beatles' guitar parts often became sparser, more subtle. Within months-and to this day-bass players the world over were unshackled.

5. Pete Townshend

Before Pete Townshend came along, feedback was something guitarists shunned like halitosis. Pete turned it into one of rock guitar's most powerful sonic resources. Soon after The Who debuted in 1964, Townshend became legendary for violently slamming his guitar into his Marshall stack (a form of amplification he was the first to use) and smashing his instrument to splinters at the end of each show. All of this had a profound influence on Jimi Hendrix (aka The Guitar God #1) and just about every other rocker who ever picked up a guitar. Pete's trademark "windmill" strum was actually swiped from Keith Richards. But Townshend made it even bigger and more dramatic - which is what he and The Who did with just about everything they touched.

Having mastered the art of the three-minute pop song, Townshend turned his attention to 15-minute mini-operas and, with Tommy in 1969, the worlds first double album rock opera. Townshend's songwriting genius and theatrical flair tend to obscure the fact that he is also a fine guitarist, as capable of supple lyricism as he is of angry mayhem.

6. George Harrison

When George Harrison strummed his first chord during the Beatles' historic appearance on the Ed Sullivan show 44 years ago, he became the catalyst for the electric guitar's metamorphosis from stringed instruments to tool of teenage liberation. And, as the folks at Gretsch and Rickenbacker will readily attest, it didn't exactly hurt sales, either.

While Harrison has never been a virtuoso guitarist, he was an innovator-constantly pushing the limits of studio sounds and stylistic boundaries. In many ways, he also was the first modern session musician, his chops as diverse and far-reaching as Lennon and McCartney's songwriting. He could dish up brilliant Scotty Moore-style rockabilly ("All My Loving"), heart-rendering gut-string lines ("And I lover") and sheer fuzz and fury ("Revolution")-always adding something memorable to the material. Later in his career, he developed an original slide style that is more melodic than bluesy. Like the Beatles as a whole, Harrison never settled into a comfortable groove. He glided across the musical spectrum-from country and western to spaced-out psychedelia to smooth and sweet slide-shattering conventions and then moving on.

7. Angus Young

Two decades after Angus Young first emerged AC/DC's axe-wielding dervish at age 14, the we Scottish Aussie remains one of the sturdiest bridges between young metal-ists and rock's blues roots. Although he did great work before and since, Young will always be best known for 1980's Back In Black, a blue-collar masterpiece which, with killer classics like "You Shook Me All Night Long," remains an all-purpose primer for riff writing and tight, scalar lead playing. Never mind the fact that the man does it all while spinning around like chinchilla on speed. Though he may be dwarfed by his signature oxblood SG, Angus Young is a giant among men.

8. Jimmy Page

Arguably the most emulated guitarist in rock history, Jimmy Page is additionally assured a place in the music's pantheon of greats for his roles as a musical director, produce and all-around guru of Led Zeppelin.

His rampaging, blues-based work on anthems like "Whole Lotta Love," "Communication Breakdown" and "Rock And Roll" defines heavy metal. His real genius, however, was his ability to expand the parameters of the genre to include elements of traditional English folk, reggae, funk, rockabilly and Arabic classical music.
Page the guitarist has never been a facile as Edward Van Halen or Steve Via, but few players in rock history have been able to match his restless imagination or visionary approach to guitar orchestration. Whether he was exploring the exotic joys of open tuning on tracks like "Kashmir" and "Black Mountain Side," pioneering the use if backwards echo on "You Shook Me," or coaxing other worldly sounds from his '58 Les Paul with a cello bow on "Dazed And Confused," Page consistently transcended the limitations of his instrument and the recording studio.

More than 30 years have passed since Page recorded the seminal Led Zepplin IV, but the album's gigantic imprint can still be detected in the work of such cutting edge bands as Jane's Addiction, Stone Temple Pilots and Soundgarden, to name a few. Page, of course, remains active. His dense, mutli-layered work on the Coverdale/Page record demonstrated his refusal to rest his laurels.

9. Kurt Cobain

Kurt Cobain was the intense and unkempt grunge lord who brought Nirvana from obscurity to the top of the charts, was all the rage-literally. The king of the guitar anti-hero, he didn't play his Fender Jaguars but he mauled them in a chord-crunching fury. Inevitably, he smashed his guitars, littered stages around the world with his splintered victims.

Cobain was a guitar pioneer because he managed to fuse into one dynamic style the aggression of Seventies punk rock, the speed and simplicity of Eighties hardcore and the bottom-heavy crunch of Nineties metal-and done so without a trace of silliness or bombast to which all three genres are prone. There's little doubt that scores of new players have been inspired to plug in by the chugging chords of Cobain's "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Segovia he wasn't. But Segovia never captured the angst of an entire generation with one burst of ungodly feedback.

10. David Gilmour

What makes David Gilmour truly remarkable is his uncanny ability to marry two seemingly contradictory genres-progressive rock and blues. Perhaps the most dramatic example of this unusual union can be heard on one of Pink Floyd's biggest hits, "Money" (Dark Side Of The Moon). As the song begins, Gilmour slowly builds a delicate network of spacious, effected guitars, only to topple them with a series of emotionally charged, vibrato-drenched solos, whose rich, shimmering tone and impeccable phrasing recall B.B. King, rather than King Crimson.

Gilmour is the rarest of rockers. Like Jimi Hendrix, he ahs the natural ability to balance the cerebral with the emotional, the technical with instinctual, while keeping an eye on both the past and the future. It is this awesome juggling act that is the secret to Pink Floyd's lasting appeal.

11. Keith Richards

Keith Richards is the archetypal rock outlaw, the quintessential skinny English rock guitarist in a tight black suit. He's filled that role since the Rolling Stones first established themselves as the dark, dangerous alternative to the Beatles in 1963. With his deep love of the blues, Keef initiated a generation of white, middle-class kids into the wonders of Muddy Waters, howling' Wolf and Chuck Berry. His unique five-string, open-G tuning lies at the heart of such all-time power chord classics as "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and "Street Fighting Man."

As a soloist, Keef has worked a few miracles; witness the icy, amphetamine mesmerism of his licks on "Sympathy For The Devil" and his buoyant bending on "Happy." And he is the author of the most-played riff in all rock: the tritone mating call of "Satisfaction." Much has been made of Richards' fondness of controlled substances, but his ultimate drug is music; his knowledge of rock, blues and reggae is encyclopedic, his passion for them boundless. They have sustained him through imprisonment, addiction, tempestuous lines of his leathery face, the history of rock and roll is etched.

12. Eric Johnson

In a realm often dominated by ham-fisted machoismo, Eric Johnson stands apart as rock guitar's elegant poet laureate. He has managed to create an original style from such radically dissimilar sources as country chicken picking, Jimi Hendrix and jazzman Wes Montgomery. A legend long before he became famous, Johnson's seemingly endless, melodious lines and distinctive "violin" tone made it an absolute requirement for guitarists stopping near the Texan's hometown of Austin to attend his show there in the early/mid 1980s.

After turning down numerous offers to tour as a sideman, he rose to prominence in 1986 with his critically acclaimed, Grammy-nominated album, Tones. His follow-up, Ah Via Musicom, thrust the self-effacing innovator further into the spotlight, yielding one Grammy-winning cut ("Cliffs Of Dover") and eventually going gold. Combining passion and lyricism with what can only be described as an overwhelmingly positive vibe, Johnson's music is progressive without being academic, uplifting without stooping to sentimentality.

13. Buddy Guy

"Part of my reason for forming Cream was I suddenly had this mad idea about being English Buddy Guy; my goal was to be Buddy Guy with a composing bass player... And to this day, when he's on I don't think anyone can touch him. He takes you away to somewhere completely different." -Eric Clapton

"Buddy Guy is as close as you can come to the heart of the blues." -Jeff Beck

"He plays one note and you forget about the rent." -Carlos Santana

"Nobody can get out of tune as cool as Buddy Guy." Stevie Ray Vaughan

14. Yngwie Malmsteen

Two schools of thought have sprung over the years regarding Yngwie J. Malmsteen. On the one hand, the Swedish native's incredibly precise, rapid-fire playing has earned him as a profound and brilliant artist, the founder and most important exponent of neo-classical guitar. From the point of view of this school, the effortless blend of raw spead, finesse and passion that has characterized Malmsteen's style since his 1984 solo debut, Rising Force, represents the pinnacle of fretboard achievement. Yngwie is also credited with popularizing the scalloped guitar neck.

But Yngwie is also scorned by many in the guitar community, who loathe him with an intensity that matches the ardor of his most dedicated boosters. To group, Malmsteen was the architect of cold, empty guitar style, which emphasized technique over art, speed over feel. They rejoice over the apparent demise of neo-classicism. And how do you plead-for Yngwie or against?

15. Dimebag Darrell

This authentic, crimson-bearded lone star madman had rewritten the book on heavy metal riffing in the short space by many major-label releases. By combining the virtuosity of Edward Van Halen with the rhythmic drive of a glue-sniffing punk rocker, the legend Pantera guitarist had created a highly individual sound that that appeals to classic rockers, fans of death metal and industrial headbangers. On Pantera's March 15, 1994 release, Far Beyond Driven, Darrell solidified his reputation as one of metal's true originals on tracks like "Good Friends And A Bottle Of Pills," which combines hell-and-damnation riffing with the kind of abrasive avant-garde noodling that put Sonic Youth on the map.

16. John Petrucci

Known with Dream Theater, John Petrucci is proud to be progressive. "Our style is completely different from grunge and alternative music," says the 41-year-old Berklee-trained musician. "But I think our music has as much attitude as any of those bands." Dream Theater is known for a complicated, textured style of hard rock that embraces flawless musicianship, lengthy improve sections, daring arrangements and other flashy elements made popular by Yes, Kansas, Rush and other old-school rockers. Leading the progressive charge is the technically masterful Petrucci, whose playing encompasses angular melodic phrases, liquid chromatics and manic dispays of speed-picking into an exciting, coherent style.

Despite his reputation, the Ibanez-wielding shredder remains modest; "Being looked at as a guitar hero is very flattering, but being singled out away from the rest of the band doesn't appeal to me," says Petrucci. "I'd prefer to have people view me as a talented musician in a good band-not as some flashy soloist." Not a chance.

17. B.B. King

As the universally hailed ambassador of the blues, B.B. King has introduced his favorite music to more people the world over than all other artists combined. In fact, he's so highly visible-popping up everywhere from ads for Northwestern Airlines and McDonald's to episode of "Sanford And Son" and "Married With Children" - that it's easy to take for granted and forget why he became so revered in the first place.

B.B. King has an incredibly expressive, vocal vibrato and an unmistakable, ringing tone, both of which have been imitated by legions of admirers. He is also the master of the perfectly placed bent note, stretching his strings with eloquence, brilliant timing and consistently perfect intonation. But what is perhaps most impressive about B.B. King is that despite hanging over 300 nights a year for decades, and despite having attained cultural icon status long ago, he has avoided slipping into complacency. He never plays the same solo twice and to this day stretches himself, demonstrating night after night exactly why he is the King Of The Blues.

18. Joe Satriani and Steve Vai -- Both rockers are equal careers and talent.

Starting with Joe Satriani, a walking warehouse of virtually every rock guitar style and technique ever developed. From delicate, classical-style finger-picking to the most profane vibrato-bar molestation, Joe knows it all. He elevates the level of whatever he's playing with his passion for sonic adventure and dead-eye sense of song and orchestration.

Like a human melting pot, Satriani has managed to integrate such disparate influences as surf guitar, world beat and Jimi Hendrix into his playing. His much-lauded 1987 breakthrough album, Surfing With The Alien, almost single-handedly rehabilitated instrumental rock as a mainstream genre and help bury the myth that a thoughtful, educated player couldn't rock. In the manner of the Blow By Blow-era Jeff Beck. Satriani employs his superior technique and seemingly inexhaustible vocabulary of licks, riffs and styles in the service of memorable songs (rather than the other way around). And he continues to do this exhibitionism, traps that have foiled too many of his peers.

Steve Vai's unparalleled technique and effortless flash made him rock's paramount pair of hired hands in the 1980's. He rendered PIL more accessible, empowered David Lee Roth, gave Whitesnake artistic credibility and even shredded for the Devil in a sensational performance in the film Crossroads.

But it was with 1990's Passion And Warfare-perhaps the most anticipated guitar release of all time-that Vai crystallized his technical skills, incredible drive and explosive vision into a sensitive, acutely personal guitar statement. He shifts gears with the greatest of ease, gliding from delicate lyricism to the back. Like a demented circus master, Vai has the power to amuse and frighten with his most dangerous menagerie of sound.

19. Joe Perry

For 35 years, through not one or two, but several climbs to the top, Aerosmith's Joe Perry has been a living testimony to the power of a Bad-Ass Attitude. Perry's perpetual sneer is expressed not merely on his chiseled face, but also through his guitars and overdriven amps. Of course, he's also written some pretty decent riffs, the best of which completely defines their song; it's impossible for even non-guitarists to think of "Walk This Way" or "Sweet Emotion" without humming Perry's etched-in-stone guitar lines.

20. Zakk Wylde

Zakk Wylde's hellacious guitar playing and charismatic stage presence made him a keeper of the heavy metal flame with Ozzy Osbourne for many years. But you ain't heard nothin' yet. Zakk stared a few bands of his own, Pride and Glory and his most recent, Black Label Society (BLS), frenzied, high octane slab of guitar mayhem. It's a molten mix of Zakk's two selves: his heavy, energetic Ozzyfield side and the hell-bent Southern rocker and ruthless side. Step out of the way and make peace with yo' maker, son.

Chaz is a passionate music lover and guitar player. He's been playing guitar for over 25 years. Chaz is also the owner of one of the most respectable guitar review websites on the entire internet. Read his professional and comprehensive guitar and amplifiers reviews before you buy your next guitar or piece of musical equipment. If you are a Dimebag fan like I am, then check out history of the Dimebag Dean ML Guitar.

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Birth of the Blues - Big Bill Broonzy

Big Bill BroonzyBig Bill Broonzy via last.fmBy Ben A Martin

"Blues is a natural fact, is something that a fellow lives. If you don't live it, you don't have it. Young people have forgotten to cry the blues..." - Big Bill Broonzy.

For a time during the 1930's, Big Bill Broonzy was one of the most popular and most prolific blues guitar musicians in America. He held copy writes to over 300 tunes during his career, appeared as a sideman on hundreds of other artists recordings and was one of the first African-American artists to make a successful crossover to white audiences. In other words, Big Bill Broonzy was one of the originators of the blues and he was instrumental in making the blues a genuine and viable musical genre.

But even more than that, Broonzy helped provide the vital link between the rough and raw Delta blues tradition to the more urban evolution of the Chicago blues which, has been shown countless times, was pivotal in the creation of 'rock and roll' a few decades further down the road.

William Lee Conley Broonzy was born June 26th, 1893 (at least according to Broonzy) in Scott, Mississippi, quite literally on the banks of the Mississippi river. He was one of 17 children born to his sharecropper parents, Frank Broonzy and Mitte Belcher, both whom had been born into slavery. Although Broonzy claimed the year of his birth as 1893, years after his death, his twin sister produced her birth certificate showing that they were actually born in 1897.

Like so many others of the time, Broonzy's family tried to scratch a living out of the hard earth as share croppers, a brutal life of barely securing sustenance for their large families. And when they did have a good year for crops, the arrangements that they had made with the land owners left them barely able to survive. It was a nomadic existence, forcing the families from one plot of land to another in hopes of making a better life each time.

While still a young child, the Broonzy family relocated to Pine Bluff, Arkansas, the place Bill always called his hometown. While he was still a child, Broonzy, with the help of his Uncle Jerry Belcher, fashioned his first instrument, a fiddle, out of an old cigar box. Over time, his uncle taught him a handful of spirituals and folk songs. Broonzy and his friend Louis Carter, who played a homemade guitar, began playing local churches and social gatherings. This was back during the time when social functions had '2 stages' where African-Americans would dance on one side and whites would dance on the other while the musicians sat between the two groups to play.

At 17 Bill had married and had begun working his own land as a share-cropper. During this time Broonzy had decided to give up the fiddle and opted to become a preacher. At one point, as the story goes, someone offered Bill $50 and a new fiddle to play a local party. Bill was all set to decline the offer when he discovered that his wife had already accepted and spent the money forcing Bill to play the gig.

After a drought in 1916 wiped out his crops, Bill decided to try his hand at coal mining which he continued to do until he drafted into the Army in 1917. He served two years fighting in the Europe during WW1 and returned to Little Rock, Arkansas upon his discharge. When he returned home Broonzy found that he had lost his taste for farming and began to play local clubs around the area to support himself and his family. And like so many after him, Broonzy travelled the 'blues highway' from the Delta to Chicago seeking opportunity. When Broonzy had finally settled in Chicago, he hooked up with veteran medicine show entertainer Poppa Charlie Jackson who taught him the rudiments of blues guitar.

Throughout the 1920's, Broonzy worked a variety of odd jobs to supplement his income, everything from being a Pullman porter, cook, foundry worker and janitor. But he continued to stay close to music, playing rent parties and other social gatherings. His playing improved without any guitar lessons, and he began to gain a bit of a reputation amongst the fledgling blues scene.

Through his association with Jackson (who had begun to record for Paramount in 1924), Broonzy secured an audition for Paramount executive J. Mayo Williams. However his initial recordings were stiff and not well received. Paramount declined the initial offerings. But Broonzy was not put off and a few months later tried again. His first recording, 'Big Bill's Blues' was finally released in 1927.The record did not do well with the public but Paramount kept Broonzy in their stable. Despite releasing several more titles for Paramount, Broonzy's records never caught on. Little did anyone know, the records would go on to be popular blues guitar lessons for people learning blues guitar.

He moved labels, trying his luck with a producer named Larry Melrose who was producing records for the Champion and Gennett labels. A few of the titles released under Melrose again failed to make much of a mark. But in 1932, Broonzy left Chicago for New York where he began to record for the American Recording Company. The New York recordings sold much better and Broonzy's fame began to grow. Back home in Chicago Bill began to work the larger clubs even going on tour with Memphis Minnie.

In 1934, Broonzy made the switch to Bluebird Records and his career found the legs that it had been missing. He began to incorporate a more rhythm and blues sound adding a pianist, a drummer, an acoustic bass as well as a harmonica or a piece of two of brass to the sound. In 1938, Broonzy again jumped labels, this time he ended up on Vocalion. By this time Big Bill Broonzy had become one of the most popular and most prolific of the blues artists in Chicago. Along with his own amazing output, Broonzy appeared on hundreds of other tracks as a sideman as well as being credited as having written literally hundreds of other songs for other artists. But due to his contract issues with various labels, Broonzy was always careful to only being credited on those tracks as 'composer'.

In 1939, producer John Hammond Sr. asked him to take the spot that had reserved for Robert Johnson at the now famous Spirituals to Swing Concert that Hammond had arranged at Carnegie Hall. (Hammond had wanted Robert Johnson originally but was unaware that Johnson was dead until he went South seeking out the legendary performer He had wanted Johnson to perform what had called primitive blues). The following year Broonzy appeared alongside Benny Goodman and Louis Armstrong in the George Selves film Swingin' The Dream.

Interestingly, despite his success as a musician, Broonzy never made much money from music and still had to work odd jobs to survive. During the 40's Broonzy continued to record steadily. It was during this period that Bill wrote his best known song, 'Key to the Highway', a blues classic that continues to be performed and recorded the world over by just about every blues band worth their salt.

By the time the 1950's arrived, Broonzy's career had virtually come to a standstill. A new breed of blues guitar music had emerged from Chicago, a more electrified blues that left some of the older blues musician on the outside. Oddly enough a lot of the young guns who were taking his place were the same ones that Broonzy and other veterans like Tampa Red had taken under their wings when they first arrived in Chicago. Players like Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf and even B.B, King owed him a debt but in the end began to eclipse the man who had a hand in creating the genre.

Broonzy had joined up with a touring folk revival called 'I Come To Sing' which included writer Studs Terkel. The group was the brain child of Chicago folk artist Win Stracke.With the on-going folk revival movement, the group caught some attention, playing to enthusiastic crowds on college campuses around the country. This attention brought Bill an invitation to tour Europe in the early 50's.

When Bill hit Europe, he was greeted with standing ovations and the accolades that he had missed in his own country. By the time he returned to the United States, Big Bill Broonzy was a bona fide star. He found his way onto tours with acts like Peter Seeger, Ledbelly and Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee. Broonzy had finally reached the point where he could live comfortably as a musician, touring steadily and cashing in on the initial blues / folk circuit. His new found fame also brought Bill invitations to a variety of television and radio programs as well as continued touring over-seas including dates in Africa, South America and the Pacific rim.

While staying briefly in Holland during the European tour, Bill fell for a young woman by the name of Pim van Isveldt. Together they had a son, Michael, who still lives in Amsterdam. The good times, although well deserved, did not last long. Broonzy died on August 15th, 1958 in an ambulance on the way to the hospital from complications from throat cancer.

Big Bill Broonzy, never a flashy electric guitarist, was rarely covered by many of the blues rock bands that appeared in the 60's and early 70's but his influence is undeniable. He was a spectacular acoustic guitarist and his warm and fluid style influenced players a varied as Muddy Waters, Memphis Slim and Ray Davies of The Kinks. Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood was quoted as saying in a 2007 Q Magazine article as saying that Broonzy's 'Guitar Shuffle' as his favorite piece of guitar music. "It was one of the first tracks I learned to play, but even to this day I can't play it exactly right."

Once during a interview in his later years, a writer asked him what he thought about Elvis Presley. Broonzy paused for a second and then said "I like what he's doing. He's rockin' the blues, that's all he's doing....Rock and Roll is here to stay because it comes from natural people. Rock and Roll is a natural steal from the blues and the blues'll never die."

Big Bill Broonzy was a blues guitar immortal, one of the early giants who left his fingerprints all over the blues and yet as time has a way of doing, he has been relegated to the back pages of the blues history books, even though his music has practically become blues guitar lessons for many guitarrists. But make no mistake, Big Bill was one of the founders and he helped get the wheel rolling. And that wheel still rolls right on down the highway.

For blues guitar lesson, visit Guitar Tricks

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