Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Famous Moments In Rock History

The History of Rock n' Roll includes many iconic moments.  Rock and television developed together, with live variety shows, news coverage, music videos, and marathon fund-raisers bringing the music and its culture into living rooms and the historical consciousness.  Some of the more memorable events are:

1956  Elvis Presley appeared on The Ed Sullivan variety show, propelling him to superstar status.  His third appearance on the show was filmed from the waist up.

1959  A plane crash in Iowa takes the lives of early rock stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the "Big Bopper."  The event was commemorated as "The Day the Music Died" in Don McLean's famous 1971 song, "American Pie."

1964  Beatles on Ed Sullivan.  LIke Elvis before them, the Beatles' appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show was a milestone, ushering in the "British Invasion" of popular music.

1967  Monterey Pop Festival was considered the beginning of the "Summer of Love" in California, with Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Who, Otis Redding, and Indian sitar player Ravi Shankar.  It was the first big rock festival.

1969  The Woodstock Festival  attracted 400,000 to a New York farm for a weekend of iconic musical acts.  For many the muddy three-day festival epitomized the counter culture of the Baby Boomer generation.  Artists included Arlo Guthrie,  Creedence Clearwater Revival, Janis Joplin, Sly & The Family Stone, Jefferson Airplane, Santana,  The Who, and Jimi Hendrix who famously performed a psychedelic version of The Star Spangled Banner.  The film, Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace & Music documented the festival and the "Woodstock Generation" that attended.

1969 Altamont Speedway in California was the site of a free concert in December, 1969. 300,000 people attended the poorly planned event that was supposed to be the West Coast's answer to Woodstock.  Four people died, and there were four births at the event.  The Rolling Stones' documentary, Gimme Shelter, includes footage of a Hell's Angels member (they were hired for security duty and paid in beer) stabbing a fan to death as he attempted to approach the stage brandishing a gun.  Instead of becoming another Woodstock, "Altamont" came to represent the antithesis of the Peace & Love event.  Rocker Patti Smith called it "the end of the idealism of the sixties."

1969  Rocker Alice Cooper achieved notoriety after the "chicken incident" in which he tossed a live chicken off the stage at a concert, unaware chickens could not fly.  The crowd tore it to pieces and rumors spread that he had bitten off its head.  This incident marks the beginning of "shock rock."

1979  Who Concert tragedy.  At Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati eleven fans were killed and 23 injured in a rush for the doors.   Meanwhile, Disco starts to dominate the airwaves.  It looked like stadium rock was coming to an end.

1980  John Lennon was assassinated by Mark David Chapman, putting an end to any hopes of the Beatles getting back together.

1983  U2's concert at Colorado's Red Rocks outdoor Amphitheatre was filmed under challenging conditions, giving the resulting film ("U2 Live at Red Rocks: Under a Blood Red Sky") a unique look and helping to ignite their career.  Later bands would also record live concerts at Red Rocks.

1984  Madonna's performance of "Like a Virgin" at the first MTV Video Music Awards was shocking for its time.  Dressed in a wedding gown, she fell to the floor, revealing her underpants.

1985  LiveAid was a fundraising concert for victims of a famine in Ethiopia simultaneously held in England at Wembley Stadium, seating 72,000, and in Philadelphia's John F. Kennedy Stadium, seating 100,000 people.  Both were broadcast to an estimated audience of 1.9 billion.  One of the most memorable acts was Queen (Live at Wembley Stadium) due to Freddie Mercury's command of the crowd.  The U.K. concert ended with the song, "Do they know it's Christmas" and the U.S. concert ended with  Michael Jackson's song, "We Are the World."

1986  Paul Simon performed with South African singers, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, on Saturday Night Live.  They had also collaborated on his album, Graceland.  The collaboration would be controversial, as some believed he was unethically exploiting their talent, and because there was a cultural boycott on South Africa at the time to combat Apartheid.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

New Holiday Music in the Music Collection

New releases, here in time for your holidays:

Putumayo Presents: A Jewish Celebration
Compact Disc 21806
Beegie Adair:  Jazz Piano Christmas
Compact Disc 21804
Compact Disc 21804
Mary J. Blige: A Mary Christmas
Compact Disc 21805
Susan Boyle: Home for Christmas
Compact Disc 21802
Mannheim Steamroller: Christmas Symphony II
Compact Disc 21807
Compact Disc 21807
Punk Goes Christmas
Compact Disc 21801

Il Volo: Buon Natale, The Christmas Album
Compact Disc 21803

Monday, November 25, 2013

Hanukkah Music in the Music Collection

Hanukkah comprises eight nights of celebration, usually in December, but in 2013 it begins the evening of November 27 and ends the evening of December 5. There are several spellings in Roman letters due to the original spelling being in Hebrew. Check out rock group, The Leevees' song, "How do you spell Channukkahh? on Hanukkah Rocks.

In the catalog, the spelling is "Hanukkah."

Search Hanukkah -- Songs and Music for both scores (sheet music) and recordings.
Search Hanukkah -- Songs and Music and compact for CDs of Hanukkah songs.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Rock Music: The Guitar and Its Masters

The electric guitar epitomizes rock music as much as anything else.  From the 1950s to today, no rock band or soloist would be without a guitar, or perhaps two or three.  The guitar is a versatile instrument that can play various roles in the rock group:
  • Bass guitar, playing the low notes
  • Rhythm guitar, playing the harmonies
  • Lead guitar, playing solos during the breaks
Gibson Les Paul guitar
played by Slash
of Guns n' Roses
In many groups the guitarist plays both lead and rhythm roles, and takes a back seat to the lead singer.  Still, during many songs there is a break during which the guitarist has a long solo, and the "guitar heroes" of rock show their virtuosity there.  There have only been a few rock guitarists who led their own groups or gone solo, most notably Jimi Hendrix, Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits), Eric Clapton, and Joe Walsh, formerly of The Eagles.

The guitar itself became part of the show, as when The Who's Pete Townshend smashed it on stage. But most guitarists treasure their instruments, and they often have several instruments with distinct sounds. The famous guitars have been the Gibson company's Les Paul model, and Fender's  Stratocaster model.

Guitar Heroes of Rock History:

Les Paul: though not a rocker, revolutionized the guitar and Gibson's Les Paul model is a classic instrument still played today by some of rock music's most famous guitarists.

Chuck Berry's duck walk
Chuck Berry is rock music's first virtuoso, playing his hollow-body guitar while singing and dancing to such hits as "Maybelline."  His stage moves influenced later musicians, especially his "duck walk" (pictured).

The Beatles famously had three guitarists, all of whom also sang.  Paul McCartney played bass guitar left-handed. George Harrison played acoustic and electric guitars and also learned to play the sitar, a stringed instrument native to India.  John Lennon played harmonica and piano in addition to the guitar.  All three played a variety of guitars throughout their careers.

Hendrix playing his
Stratocaster behind his back
Jimi Hendrix wowed audiences by playing the guitar held behind his back and with his teeth, among other stunts, but it was his virtuosic solos that have earned his reputation.  He played left-handed, using a specially modified Fender stratocaster.

Eric Clapton's career began in the 1960s, with his band The Yardbirds and continued with Cream and Derek and the Dominos.  In the 1970s he went solo, uniting his distinctive singing voice with his command of the guitar.

Jeff Beck was one of the famous Yardbirds guitarists (the others are Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page) before going on to a solo career and collaborating with many great bands and rock musicians.

Jimmy page playing
the 12-string side
of a two-neck guitar
Jimmy Page, guitarist with Led Zeppelin, contributed signature licks on both electric and acoustic guitar.  The Gibson Les Paul instruments were some of his favorites.  He also played on two-neck and three-neck guitars.

Keith Richards has contributed some of the most memorable guitar riffs in rock history during his 40-plus years with The Rolling Stones.

Frank Zappa was a genius of sound art, using unusual sounds to evoke anachronistic ideas within one song.

Pete Townshend of The Who is famous as much for destroying guitars on stage as for performing on them.

Alex Lifeson contributed signature licks and innovative solos to the classic songs of Rush, such as Working Man.

Joe Satriani had a long and influential solo career before joining the supergroup, Chickenfoot.

Brian May of Queen was greatly overshadowed by Freddie Mercury's stage presence, yet his guitar echoes through the group's big hits.  He plays on a guitar that he designed himself and made with his father's help.

Joe Perry of Aerosmith has been upstaged by its histrionic frontman, but he is considered one of the best rock guitarists.

Peter Frampton famously asked "Do you feel like we do" through his specially outfitted Gibson Les Paul guitar.  In 1980 the guitar was lost in a plane crash and looters had scavenged it and then sold it.  Frampton thought it had been destroyed, but it was returned to him in 2012, over 30 years lager.

Stevie Ray Vaughan
with "Number One"
Stevie Ray Vaughan ramped up the improv and riffs of the blues genre, reigniting interest in the blues. He died in 1990 in a helicopter crash, and his brother Jimmie continues the Vaughan family guitar tradition.  His "Number One" Fender Stratocaster was his main guitar (his others were also Stratocasters) and took quite a beating over his career.  It spawned a signature "SRV" model by the company.

David Gilmour was guitarist for Pink Floyd during its heyday on albums such as Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall.

Slash of Guns n' Roses created some iconic guitar solos before leaving the band to start his solo career.

Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits is also a soloist and composer of film scores.

Ritchie Blackmore
playing a
Fender Stratocaster
Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple, famous for the riffs of the group's greatest hit, "Smoke on the Water"

Eddie Van Halen of Van Halen made his name with fast-paced songs such as "Hot for Teacher."

Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath lowered the pitch of his guitar strings to relieve the pain of an old industrial injury to his fingers.  The resulting sound helped define heavy metal for the next generation and beyond.

Angus Young's duck walk
Angus Young of AC/DC plays Gibson guitars while strutting about the stage using his hero Chuck Berry's moves.

Dave Mustaine is both singer and lead guitarist for the group Megadeth.

Randy Rhoads (with Ozzy Osbourne)

Steve Vai played with Frank Zappa's band before going solo, though he is also well known for his collaborations with other rockers and eventually joined Whitesnake.

Dickie Betts of The Allman Brothers Band took over the lead guitar role after the death of Duane Allman.  His guitar instrumental, "Jessica," is a staple of classic rock radio.

Dimebag Darrell, of Pantera, created a darker, edgier guitar tone that would define the heavy metal sound for a generation or more.

John Petrucci of Dream Theater "shreds" his guitar in virtuosic speed.  He has also become a teacher, and has made instructional videos.

John Frusciante, was guitarist of the Red Hot Chili Peppers before going solo.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Rock Ballad in the 1970s

Rock started as a fast-paced dance music in the 1950s but performers quickly learned they needed to breathe a little air into their sets with slower songs. Some hard-rocking artists' ballads became their biggest hits, in fact. The late 1960s and early 1970s seemed to be the peak time for the rock ballad.  The 1970s ushered in the power ballad with the most famous slow-paced song, Led Zeppelin's 1971 hit, Stairway to Heaven. Over the decade each artist brought his own voice and emotion to the genre:
The tradition carried into the 1980s and 1990s with such hits as: