Stevie Nicks’ song “Landslide,” recorded by Fleetwood Mac, has been a fan favorite since it appeared on the band’s breakthrough album in 1975. But it had been written two years before.
The first (and only) Buckingham Nicks album had come out and was met by massive indifference. The duo had been dropped by their label (Polydor) and had gone to Aspen so that Lindsey Buckingham could rehearse for a tour with Don Everly. This was during the time that the Everly Brothers had split up and Lindsey was recruited to take Phil’s place.
When Don and Lindsey hit the road, Stevie stayed behind to contemplate whether she wanted to continue with her music career. It was during this time that she wrote “Landslide” about her decision to stay with music.
As Stevie herself tells it: “So, during that two months, I made a decision to continue. ‘Landslide’ was the decision. ‘When you see my reflection in the snow-covered hills’—it’s the only time in my life that I’ve lived in the snow. But looking up at those Rocky Mountains and going, ‘Okay, we can do it. I’m sure we can do it.’”
And she was right. Within a year, Mick Fleetwood had heard their debut album and had called the pair with an invitation to join Fleetwood Mac. They were paid the princely sum of $800 a week, each. Within another year, their contributions would complete Mac’s evolution from British blues band to international pop sensations.
One album from that great era of psychedelic rock is the self-titled album by a group that called itself The United States of America.
The group was led by an avant-garde composer intensely interested in the-then brand-new field of electronic music, Joseph Byrd. In addition to working with very early synthesizers, the band also included an electric violinist and also processed the drums through electronic equipment. The result was an album that sounded like no other.
The album starts off by layering no less than 5 tunes from the 19th century: a calliope playing "National Emblem", a ragtime piano playing "At a Georgia Camp Meeting", two marching bands playing "Marching Through Georgia" and "The Red, White and Blue" switching between left and right channels. Two other tracks of electronic sounds are also added to the mix. After just a few moments, all of this fades into the album’s first track, “The American Metaphysical Circus.” The lyrics take “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” several steps farther. In fact, many of the album’s tracks pushed the limits for rock at the time, including references to S&M and topless nightclubs as well as a little ditty called “I Won’t Leave My Wooden Wife for You” and another dedicated to mentioning as many poisonous plants as possible in 2 minutes and 39 seconds.
Probably rock’s most famous muse, Pattie Boyd was the inspiration for 3 of the greatest love songs of the last half of the twentieth century: George Harrison’s “Something,” Eric Clapton’s “Layla” and Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight.”
Pattie shot to fame in the early 1960s, becoming an international success as a model. Her work on a potato chip commercial (called “crisps” in the UK) led that commercial’s director, Richard Lester, to cast her as a schoolgirl in the first Beatles film, A Hard Day’s Night.
Boyd was 19, George Harrison was 20. He was instantly smitten and began pursuing Ms. Boyd – proposing to her before they even had their first date. The couple were wed in 1966.
In the course of things, George introduced her to his new best friend, Eric Clapton. Clapton also became infatuated with Boyd. The fact that she was married to his best friend only made things worse. Someone then gave Clapton a 12th-century Persian poem called “The Story of Layla and Majnun.” (I bet you can guess where this story is going.)
We’re all part of the great big rock & roll family, but today, let’s look at some of the actual brothers who have made up some of rock’s biggest acts...
Everly Brothers – Of course, Don and Phil
Beach Boys – 3 of the 5 founding members were the Wilson brothers Brian, Carl and Dennis
Jackson 5 – Last seen on their “Victory” tour after brother Michael really hit it big
Isley Brothers – With hits spanning multiple decades, these are the brothers who gave us “Twist & Shout” among so many more
Bee Gees – Which stands for “The Brothers Gibb
Allman Brothers Band – Duane and Gregg
Van Halen – Eddie and Alex
The Kinks – With battling brothers Ray and Dave Davies
Dire Straits – Mark and David Knofler
Creedence Clearwater Revival – John & Tom Fogerty
AC/DC – Malcolm and Angus Young
Cowsills – Not only 5 brothers, but sister Susan as well
2016's simultaneous release of Eight Days a Week and Live at the Hollywood Bowl reignited interest in the Beatles live shows. But these are not the only places you can find Liverpool’s favorite sons performing live.
Here’s an overview of all the ways you can experience the Beatles in concert:
“Shout” by the Isley Brothers was already a classic when the movie Animal House launched it into a kind of musical immortality few songs ever achieve. It might surprise you to know that “Shout” was never really intended to be a song at all.
Like a lot of R&B acts at that time, the Isleys were hugely influenced by Jackie Wilson, who was pioneering an energetic style of performing that was electrifying audiences. In 1959, the Isleys were closing their shows with their version of Wilson’s “Lonely Teardrops,” a song that had been a hit just a year before. The Isley Brothers were booked into the Uptown Theater in Philadelphia as part of a soul revue, with 15 other acts. The group’s lively rendition of “Lonely Teardrops” landed them the coveted spot closing the bill.
One night during the run of this engagement, the audience got particularly excited, leaving their seats and dancing in the aisle. Lead singer, Ronald Isley began improvising lyrics to keep the song going. One of those ad-libs was “You make me wanna shout!” The band responded with “Shout!,” so he repeated the line. Now, the crowd joined in with “Shout!”
The brothers continued to perform the song this way for the rest of their engagement. When they next entered the recording studio, they discussed recording the song with their producers, Hugo & Luigi. It was the producers who suggested they drop “Lonely Teardrops” and just concentrate on the “Shout” portion.
When they were finished, the Isley Brothers had a song that was too long for just one side of single. So, they cut it in two and released “Shout Part 1” and “Shout Part 2” as a single. And from that time until today, they still close every live show with “Shout.”
Lots of bands have logos. Chicago made a recording career out of spinning endless variations of their logo into album covers. But the oldest and certainly most iconic is the Beatles logo – the one with what is known as the “Drop-T” design. But who the heck created it?
The Beatles original logo was a somewhat uninspired affair that played on the insect-like nature of their name. And as he did with so much of the Beatles physical look, it was manager Brian Epstein who brought about the change in the boys’ logo.
In 1963 as the band was starting to really take off in the UK, Epstein called on local Liverpool music retailer Ivor Arbiter to obtain a better drum kit for Ringo. He also asked Arbiter if he had any ideas for a revised logo for the group. Arbiter quickly sketched out the design we all know so well.
How much was Ivor paid for the design? Five pounds (or $6.50 American).
But Arbiter had one other condition. The Beatles had to leave the Ludwig logo on the bass drum. That little move probably netted the Ludwig drum company millions in the years that followed.
And now you know the story of a little piece of artwork that will outlive us all!
Lou Reed is a giant in rock & roll history. As one of the key members of the Velvet Underground in the late 1960s, commercial success may have eluded him; but the Velvets were a huge influence on both the punk and new wave movements of the 1970s.
Yet, the failure of the band to find a mass audience led Reed to temporarily abandon rock music to work as an accountant at his dad’s business. Fortunately, that didn’t last long and Lu soon strapped on his guitar again and embarked on a solo career. With his second solo LP, "Transformer," in 1973, Lou found the commercial success the Velvets missed with one of the most unlikely pop hits of that era – “Walk on the Wild Side” produced by David Bowie and Mick Ronson. As the song deals with transsexualism, drugs and male prostitution, to say nothing of Reed calling out “And the colored girls go…,” that the song found acceptance on Top 40 radio – let along climbing into the Top 20 (and the Top 10 in the UK) – is remarkable.
Predictably, Reed was never able to repeat that Top 40 success, but continued to release albums through 2007. He is a double member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (both as a member of the Velvet Underground and as a solo performer), which makes him somewhat unique among “One-Hit Wonders.”
Reed passed away in 2013, leaving an estate valued at the time at over $10 million dollars. Imagine if he ever had had a second hit record!
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