Saturday, March 31, 2012

5 Facts About The Legendary Guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan

Live at Carnegie Hall (Stevie Ray Vaughan album)Live at Carnegie Hall (Stevie Ray Vaughan album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)By Jim J Ward

Stevie Ray Vaughan was one of the more important guitarists in recent history and sadly he lost his life when on August 27, 1990, the helicopter he was in crashed into a ski hill in East Troy, Wisconsin.

His CDs and his awesome blues guitar playing still inspire generations of musicians, which includes a number of the worlds top guitarists, and no question with the passing of time, this will never change.

Listed here are 5 nuggets of knowledge about Stevie Ray Vaughan that you may not know:

1. Stevie Ray Vaughan came into this world on October 3, 1954 in Dallas Texas though transferred to Austin at the age of 17. He was the younger brother Jimmie Vaughan also a highly acclaimed guitar player. He was known by by his initials SRV which he famously put on on the scratch plate of his Fender Stratocaster guitar.

2. In the beginning SRV created a band named Triple Threat Review which later developed to become the blues rockband Double Trouble in 1978. Double Trouble recorded four studio albums including the legendary debut project Texas Flood in 1983, which was an important breakthrough accomplishment.

3. Stevie Ray was an exceedingly emotional and melodic guitar player and utilised a number of vintage guitars and amplifiers to generate his trademark sound. In contrast to many other top guitarists, Stevie Ray preferred using very heavy strings on his guitars to further hone his legendary personal sound from his Stratocaster's guitar pickups. It is known that he wasn't very fussy with regards to the brand of string he utilised provided that they were 'as thick as barbed wire'.

4. Stevie Ray owned a mouthwatering collection of vintage electric guitars but had become widely known for his common use of a Fender Stratocaster, his much-loved guitar being a 1963 model he took possession of in 1973. Another favourite 1963/64 Stratocaster was purchased for him by his wife Lenora as he did not have enough money to purchase the guitar himself. This particular Stratocaster was frequently acknowledged simply as Lenny. This Guitar was subsequently sold at auction in 2004 to raise revenue for Eric Clapton's Crossroads Centre and achieved an extremely healthy $ 623,500.

5. He has regularly achieved critical acclaim for his albums and guitar playing and in 2003 he was rated at number 7 in Rolling Stone magazine's directory of 100 greatest guitarists. He also received a posthumous induction into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2000.

So there you have it, 5 little nuggets of information with regards to the wonderful Stevie Ray Vaughan. If you haven't yet experienced the sensational jazzy, blues guitar playing of SRV, there's certainly no better time than now.

Jim Ward is a keen guitar player and often writes about various aspects of the electric guitar. For an excellent guitar blog and also high quality replacement Stratocaster pickups and Les Paul humbucker pickups he recommends visiting:

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MOVIE REVIEW: On The Road Official Trailer (HD) (Kristen Stewart, Kirsten Dunst, Amy Adams)

Based on the novel by Jack Kerouac - Dean and Sal are the portrait of the Beat Generation. Their search for "It" results in a fast paced, energetic roller coaster ride with highs and lows throughout the U.S.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

VIDEO: John Lee Hooker - Hobo Blues

How about a bit of blues? This is a great video of John Lee Hooker, live in 1965 at the American Folk Blues Festival.

Dig it!

Saturday, March 17, 2012 Ranks Influential Musicians by the Order of How Great Their Music Was at the Time of Their Death

English: Original oil painting by Pappi, 2008.                                Image via Wikipediaby

Los Angeles, February 21, 2012

While the pop music world is still reeling from the loss of   Whitney Houston, one of its most influential artists, ( has released a list of artists  who have been deemed “gone too soon” by Ranker’s users. 

These artists are ranked not only by how great their music was at the time of their death, but what their future might have meant to the world of music. Having garnered thousands of votes and views by the site’s devotees, this list is considered to be the definitive word on the greatest rock stars who died prematurely.

According to, the most significant loss to the music industry was Jimi Hendrix, followed by John Lennon and Jim Morrison, rounding out the top five is Janis Joplin and Kurt Cobain. 

The 46 artists on this list also included such legends as Freddy Mercury, Buddy Holly and Jerry Garcia, and ended with perhaps the less likely inclusion of Harry Nilsson.  

In addition, 15 other lists have been created by voters to represent a wide variety of opinions. The full list of Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were the Most Untimely may be viewed on at publishes lists created and ranked by its visitors that are data driven by popular opinion. Available on are lists on any topic imaginable, including everything from the best films of all time or  the best vehicles for teenage drivers, to  less serious fare like Simpsons jokes that actually came true. Truly something for everyone.
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BOOK REVIEW: Hell's Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs by Hunter S Thompson

1st edition                                 Image via Wikipediaby Imogen Reed

Hunter S Thompson was a publisher’s nightmare. He was so drunk on the tour to promote his book, Hell's Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs he was next to useless, and this erratic performance cost Random House sales.

But it was perhaps this disordered and chaotic side of Thompson’s character that allowed him to get close to his subjects during the writing of the book. Maybe too close.

Yet, through this closeness and acceptance by the outlaw motorcycle gangs he was able to capture a group and a time within a society that was in flux, and less concerned with the National Health system, balance transfer credit cards and the recession and more with the politics of peace.

The book was conceived after the reaction Thompson generated with an article on the Hell’s Angels in 1965, which was published in the The Nation. He was paid just $100 for it. He’d left his job at the National Observer and was flat broke and desperate for work.

The article, entitled The Motorcycle Gangs: Losers and Outsiders created a stir, and elicited so much interest that he used the gangs as the subject of his first book, an experiment in gonzo journalism which was to launch his career.

The Outlaws

In the sixties, The Hell’s Angels of California held a particular fascination for a culture that knew little about them. The ‘outlaw’ was a cultural icon that still resonated with Americans in the West, even in the sixties - a remnant of the secret admiration for rebels and pioneers. Thompson notes:

“… their position as self-proclaimed outlaws elicits a certain popular appeal, however reluctant. That is especially true in the West and even in California where the outlaw tradition is still honored. The unarticulated link between the Hell's Angels and the millions of losers and outsiders who don't wear any colors is the key to their notoriety and the ambivalent reactions they inspire."

In Thompson’s article, people saw a chance to glimpse behind the veil of secrecy that surrounded the closed world of the Hell’s Angels - who were notoriously defensive and suspicious of outsider contact. They were particularly suspicious of newsmen, who they believed presented them in a negative light.

There may have been some truth in this, although the Angels were complicit in this negative view by displaying sufficiently anti-social behaviour to warrant it. They thrived on their ability to intimidate and alienate mainstream society. That was their power. The title of the article summed up neatly the dichotomy at the heart of the matter, however. Thompson made the following point:

“The vast majority of motorcycle outlaws are uneducated, unskilled men between 20 and 30, and most have no credentials except a police record. So at the root of their sad stance is a lot more than a wistful yearning for acceptance in a world they never made; their real motivation is an instinctive certainty as to what the score really is. They are out of the ball game and they know it - and that is their meaning; for unlike most losers in today's society, the Hell's Angels not only know but spitefully proclaim exactly where they stand.”

This sense of disenfranchisement was at the heart of the position the Hell’s Angels took. The 60s, with its simultaneous moral conservatism and the demands for moral freedom producing a confusing cultural double-think, was the perfect time for the Angels to play with expectations and confound them.

Whilst refusing to allow any concession to middle America in terms of conformity, they displayed admirable cohesion, loyalty and morality within their own group. They were what social commentators would today call ‘problematic’.

This refusal to be positioned was what Thompson highlighted in his writing, showing both sides of the story, which had never been done before. Both drawn in and repelled, the reading public couldn’t get enough, and so the book was born.

Living With The Hell’s Angels

Thompson spent a year with the San Bernardino and Oakland chapters of the group, who were surprisingly forthcoming about their closed community. He had a particularly close friendship with Ralph ‘Sonny’ Barker. The underlying violence of the group was never far away, however, driven largely by intense and some would argue mindless group allegiance.

Offense was taken easily, and retribution always swift and out of proportion to the original misdemeanor. It was this reputation for violence, which they accepted as warranted, that created fear and it was an effective tool for keeping society at bay, although some chapters were clearly more violent than others.

Violent End of an Era

Violence, ultimately begets violence, and it was a savage beating from three Hell’s Angels that ended Hunter S Thompson’s association with the outlaws. Convinced he’d insulted one of their members, he was shown no favour.

He defended the group afterwards, blaming it on a rogue element - not the group he had worked with. This demonstrates the extent to which he had been absorbed into the group-think. His own loyalty to the Hell’s Angels was strong. But the party was over and Thompson wisely distanced himself.

The hippies regarded the Hell’s Angels as ‘outlaw brothers of the counterculture’, and the two groups seemed to tolerate each other to a degree. The party really ended after the death of a teenager at the Rolling Stone’s disastrous Altamont Speedway Free Festival.

But even then arguments were made both for and against the part the Hell’s Angels played in the event that ended the Woodstock era. The teenager was filmed pulling a revolver out of his pocket at the moment he was attacked. Was it murder or self-defense?

As ever, nothing is clear when it comes to the Hell’s Angels, and they refuse to be framed by any social construct the culture tries to pin on them. The power of keeping your identity and culture as a group closed off is clear. Hunter S Thompson succeeded where no-one else could. He left us a book that captures a small but important element of the 60s counterculture and is a truly fascinating read.
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The Beatles "Yesterday" Classic Example of the AABA Song Form

John LennonCover of John LennonBy Leemanuel Hightire

The AABA song.

How many of you out there pay attention to song forms?

How many of you recognize the classic Beatles song "Yesterday" as being a great example of the AABA song form?

While it is modified a bit, it's definitely AABA. The other thing that's pretty incredible about the original song is that they get in and get out very quickly. It's a little over 2 minutes.

Now I know that these days, most songs live in the 3 - 4 minute time frame, but I'm really intrigued by McCartney and Lennon's efficiency. I think a great short song makes it more likely that you want to listen to it again and again.

Now if you're not familiar with the AABA song form, I'll tell you a bit about it. But a great way to learn is to listen to the Beatles song "Yesterday"

You do want to have some synergy between your music and lyric. Looked at from a straight musical idea/theme standpoint, the A sections would all be the same or very similar and the B section would represent either a "bridge" or a different musical idea/theme from the "A" section.

From a lyric standpoint the AABA song form is a series of verses. The "B" section often will represent a counterpoint to the lyric idea presented in the other section, but this isn't an etched in stone rule.

Similar to the "A-A-A" song forms, AABA lends itself to telling a story without having to interrupt itself to make room for a Chorus.

Most often the title is placed at the first line, last line, or both of each "A" section. Some very creative folks may even stick the title in the middle of the verse. And if you work the title into the "B" section again, all the better for you ... repetition being very important to having your song become memorable.

I'm sure that most of you are familiar with "Yesterday" so I won't write out the lyric here (besides I might need permission to do that), but notice how each "A" section verse begins and ends with the same opening words. In two "A" sections it's the word "yesterday" and in another "A" section it's the word "suddenly".

The "B" section of the song opens our eyes up to the reason for the singer's lament in the first two verses "why she had to go, I don't know" and ending with longing for yesterday. The title again appearing.

Now, this song does repeat the B section, so you could call it a modified AABA song, but this is a classic AABA song form and one that is worthy of modeling some of your own work on.

And when you strip away all of the cool sounds and fancy beats, it's important that there's still a song there. A melody that can be sang, and words with meaning. So, if you care about great songs, let Leemanuel become part of the soundtrack of your life.

Take a test drive with 3 free songs at

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Monday, March 12, 2012

Incredible String Band – 5000 Layers of Psychedelic Folk

by Imogen Reed

Brought together in 1966, the Incredible String Band were pioneers of psychedelic folk, a strange and wonderful mix of folk and acid drenched rock music. Psychedelic folk is largely thought of as an acoustic medium - but it incorporates many of the trance atmospheres of its rock counterpart.

Incredible String Band (also abbreviated to ISB) were formed in Scotland. Bringing together the musicians Robin Williamson and Clive Palmer, they initially began in Caledonian Folk Clubs playing alongside other noted acts such as the late and very sadly missed Bert Jansch.

They became a trio, with the addition of Mike Heron and recorded their first eponymously titled album “The Incredible String Band” in the same year. The album was a showcase for the trio to demonstrate their abilities on various instruments, and showed glimpses of their inimitable psychedelic style developing.

1967 – The Year of The Onion

By 1967, Incredible String Band were back to performing as a duo (Robin Williamson and Mike Heron) and recording began on what is considered to be their greatest psychedelic work, “The 5000 Layers Of The Onion”.

The album is a melding of the duo’s experience of Indian/Arabic culture and heavily featuring a sitar player by the name of “Soma”, later to be revealed as Nazir Ali Jairazbhoy (1927-2009) who was a Professor of the Folk and Classical Music of South Asia at the University of California, Los Angeles.

It’s notable also for featuring one time Pentangle bassist Danny Thompson, here on double bass duties, and also Williamson’s then girlfriend Licorice McKechnie on vocals and percussion.

Released during “The Summer of Love” a hippy festival of music, free love and drugs, the album features thirteen songs of complete intensity - starting with the chilled out vibe of “Chinese White” and ending with the rousing and stirring anthem “Way Back In The 60s” which provides a sort of skewed take on the vibe at the time.

Interestingly enough, and in a somewhat strange juxtaposition, Robin Williamson is alleged to have said he “never approved of drugs” - the likelihood of him therefore needing substance abuse programs to help himself is therefore pretty remote. In between are tracks of varying rhythm and pace (and style). There is an out and out psychedelic blues influence on “The Mad Hatter’s Song”:

With a delightful piano interlude melded together with the plaintive vocal and unusual sitar style, making for a very strange, but ultimately very listenable track.

This is also apparent on “Blues For The Muse” which combines piano, harmonica and sitar together for sublime effect - the vocal on this track is very reminiscent of early Rolling Stones, yet still retaining a Robin Williamson’s beautiful Celtic leaning.

Still within all this there are leanings towards other artists, in particular the sublime song “The First Girl I Loved”:

The vocal on this sounds distinctly Bob Dylan in style - with lyrics to match. It also has an edge of Nick Drake plaintiveness in the guitar sound which sits somewhat askew from the rest of the album but yet seems to still fit in with the overall style of the band.

One other notable song is “My Name Is Death”, again very folksy in style - a simple, paired down rendition with a very simple guitar part and complex vocal performance that almost sounds mediaeval in its core.

Commercial and Critical Acclaim

The album was indeed named by Paul McCartney as his favourite album of the year in 1967, McCartney himself was at this stage (and the rest of The Beatles) were at this time becoming more and more influenced by the sounds and culture of the Maharishi.

It also managed to top the folk chart in the same year, marking their true arrival as both folk artistes and fully fledged members of the psychedelic movement too. The band and album were also given considerable gravitas when the Radio DJ John Peel promoted it heavily on his radio show. Peel was, at the time working on Radio London - a pirate radio station.

He had his own show that went by the title of “Perfumed Garden” and on it, as became his standard method of practice, he promoted new, unusual or 'left field' artists who he felt just wouldn’t get the acclaim they deserved. Incredible String Band fitted his brief perfectly and he wasted no time in giving “The 5000 Layers Of The Onion” a good deal of airplay.

The album now …

It’s fair to say it has stood the test of time, and this is in part due to the fact than rather than being totally psychedelic in it’s composition it successfully melds other musical genres into it’s rhythms and patterns, thereby rendering it pretty much timeless.

It is obvious where its musical roots are - it’s feet are firmly planted in 1960s culture and lore; just one look at the album cover can tell you that - with its trippy multicoloured swatch of swirly design and freeform patterns.

However, there is something deeply modern about it now that genuinely wouldn’t be out of place in the current charts. Even back in the 1990s British bands like Kula Shaker were obviously heavily influenced by music such as this.

They weren’t as well known as they could have been, but this is all the more reason for fans of this genre to seek them out and give them a try. Peel back the 5000 layers of that Onion. You may well be very pleasantly surprised by what you find …

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Classic Rock Band - The Who

English: The Who, original line up, performing...The Who - Original Line-Up - Image via WikipediaBy Reinaldo J Rego

One of the most electrifying bands that I have ever seen in concert ... The Who. If you have never seen this classic rock band live, I strongly suggest that you do so now as they are planning a 2012 world tour of their 1973 concept album "Quadrophenia".

In the late '90's I saw this tour as it celebrated the albums 25th anniversary (who says rock is dead?) and The Who rocked the place out.

Billy Idol was a back-up singer, "Thunder Fingers" John Entwistle was still alive and Ringo Starr's son Zak Starkey, himself an outstanding drummer, were on stage as was Pete Townshend's brother Simon, who can rock just as hard as his older brother. Of course Roger Daltry was there with that voice that can send shivers up and down your spine.

"Quadrophenia" itself is as schizophrenic as the band itself and if you listen you can hear the "voice" of each member of the band. They each have a theme song. But, Pete's "Love Reign O'er Me" is a classic rock song that will be heard for generations to come. And "5:15" is a working man's anthem that is still relevant today more than ever.

I saw them many years after on a greatest hits tour and they played a version of "Magic Bus" that I have never heard before or since... I think we were lucky that night as the entire crowd was totally enthralled and knew something special was happening.

According to Rolling Stone Magazine, The Who, who formed in 1964, "Along with The Beatles and the Rolling Stones, complete the holy trinity of British rock". And I wholeheartedly agree. The Who is part of the soundtrack of my youth ... my life actually, as I often listen to their music to this day.

It's songs like "I Can't Explain", "My Generation", "Happy Jack" and "Substitute" that thrust this Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band into the limelight ... that and smashing their instruments, which became a staple at Who shows for years. Their appearance at Monterrey Pop, Woodstock and the Isle of Wight music fests helped solidify The Who's standing as one of the world's best rock bands.

Times change and The Who is getting older (aren't we all), but they can still rock! If you love classic rock bands and if The Who hits your town ... go see them and bring the kids or grand kids and show them a piece of your past ... they just might like it!

A classic rock band like The Who won't be touring forever so 2012 may be your last chance to grab a piece of the past and share it with the younger generations. Like The Who says, "Long live rock, I need it everyday"!

I'm a classic rock nut. Perhaps it was the generation I grew up in but I feel that rock and roll is the music that truly speaks to my soul. That's why I started Rego's Classic Rock, a classic rock blog, to help keep this awesome music alive and hopefully share it with new generations of music fans to come.

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Saturday, March 3, 2012

TRIBUTE: Monkees Singer Davy Jones Dead at 66

Psychedelic clip from the beginning of The Monkees' movie HEAD.

TRIBUTE: Monkees Singer Davy Jones Dead at 66

by FOX31 Denver:

Davy Jones, the iconic lead singer of The Monkees has died at the age of 66 from a heart attack, according to TMZ.

Jones passed away at a hospital in Martin County, Florida Wednesday morning.

His last live performance was Feb 19th in Oklahoma.

Jones joined The Monkees in 1965 and, along with bandmates Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork, recorded a series of hit songs including, “I’m a Believer,” “Daydream Believer” and “Last Train to Clarksville.”

Jones is survived by his wife Jessica and 4 daughters from previous marriages.

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