Dirk’s A-Z Rock Music guide

In general I do a lot of history blogs which are often hard hitting, but every once in a while I like to do something more lighthearted.

Aside from history, music is one of my great passions and especially Rock music. This blog is a compilation of an A-Z Rock music guide. I say a guide because it will contain not the most commonly known Rock bands. but bands I really like. So sit back and relax Dirk’s A-Z Rock Music guide.

All About Eve-What kind of Fool

BONFIRE – You Make Me Feel

Cinderella-Somebody Save me

Dokken-Unchain the Night

Eels – Mr. E’s Beautiful Blues (Road Trip)

FM – Just Like You

Golden Earring – Clear Nite, Moonlight

Heart – Never

Icehouse – Crazy

J. Geils Band – Freeze Frame

Krokus – Eat The Rich

Linkin Park-In the end

Magnum – Just Like An Arrow

Nazareth – Hair of the Dog

OZZY OSBOURNE – “Mama, I’m Coming Home”

Papa Roach-Last Resort

Queensryche – The Mission

Radiohead – Street Spirit (Fade Out)

Saxon – Ride Like the Wind

Tesla – Modern Day Cowboy

Uriah Heep “Stealin’

Vandenberg – Your Love Is In Vain

Witness-Do it till we drop

XTC – Senses Working Overtime

Y&T Summertime Girls

ZZ Top – Jesus Just Left Chicago—–Rest in Peace Dusty Hill

Happy Birthday Ronnie James Dio

If Elvis is the King of Rock and Roll, and if Michael Jackson is the King of Pop, then surely Ronnie James Dio must be the King of Heavy Metal. Not only was he the front man in bands like Rainbow, Black Sabbath,Dio and Heaven & Hell, he is also the one who popularized the sign of the horns in heavy metal.

He claimed his Italian grandmother used it to ward off the evil eye (which is known in Italy as malocchio). Dio began using the sign soon after joining the metal band Black Sabbath in 1979. The previous singer in the band, Ozzy Osbourne, was rather well known for using the “peace” sign at concerts, in an attempt to connect with the fans, Ronnie James Dio wanted to similarly use a hand gesture. However, not wanting to copy Osbourne, he chose to use the sign his grandmother always made. The horns became famous in metal concerts very soon after Black Sabbath’s first tour with Dio. The sign would later be appropriated by heavy metal fans.

Ronald James “Dio” Padavona was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to Italian-American parents from Cortland, New York. His family moved to Portsmouth from Cortland as part of his father’s service in the U.S. Army during World War II, and they resided there for only a short time before returning to Cortland. Ronnie James listened to a great deal of opera while growing up, and was influenced vocally by American tenor Mario Lanza. His first formal musical training began at age 5, learning to play the trumpet. He participated in his high school’s band program.

It was also during high school that he formed his first rock-n-roll band, The Vegas Kings, which would later be named Ronnie and the Rumblers and then Ronnie and the Red Caps.

Dio’s musical career began in 1957, when several Cortland, New York musicians formed the band, The Vegas Kings. The group’s lineup consisted of Dio on bass guitar, Billy DeWolfe on lead vocals, Nick Pantas on guitar, Tom Rogers on drums, and Jack Musci on saxophone. The band changed its name to Ronnie and the Rumblers. In 1958, the band again changed their name to Ronnie and the Redcaps. Musci left the band in 1960, and a new guitarist, Dick Botoff, joined the lineup. The Redcaps released two singles: The first single was “Conquest”/”Lover” with the A-side being an instrumental reminiscent of The Ventures and the B-side featuring DeWolfe on lead vocals. The second single was “An Angel Is Missing”/”What’d I Say” featuring Dio on lead vocals for both tracks.

Explanations vary for how Padavona adopted the stage name “Dio”. One story is that Dio was a reference to mafia member Johnny Dio.

Another has it that Padavona’s grandmother said he had a gift from God and should be called “Dio” (“God” in Italian), although this was debunked by Padavona’s widow, Wendy, in a February 2017 interview. Padavona first used the name on a recording in 1960, when he added it to the band’s second release on Seneca. Soon after that the band modified their name to “Ronnie Dio and the Prophets”. The Prophets lineup lasted for several years, touring throughout the New York region and playing college fraternity parties.

In the history of metal, there are good singers and then there are legends – vocalists who are identifiable with the first note of song. Dio’s operatic vibrato was unmistakable and extremely versatile. His was a voice that could sooth like a soul crooner one minute and roar like vengeful tyrant the next. Even when he was embellishing tunes with melodic interjections like ‘alright,’ ‘yeah’ or ‘ooooohh-oooohhhh,’ he loomed high above most vocalists of his era – even though he stood at just about five-feet-four-inches tall.

In 1974, Dio sang on the Roger Glover conducted and produced concept album The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper’s Feast. Along with other guest-singers, the album featured Deep Purple alumni Glenn Hughes and David Coverdale. Dio provided vocals for the songs “Homeward”, “Sitting in a Dream”, and the single Love Is All

But of course we all will remember him for his Heavy Metal work and especially that from the band named after him’Dio’. I think it is safe to say that there is no such thing as a bad Dio song.

Unfortunately he died on May 16,2010 from stomach cancer.

That’ll be that day-How John Wayne inspired Buddy Holly.

So you are young musician. You have had some success thus far ,but you are still struggling to get that all important first number one hit, that first megahit.

You want to put your stamp on Rock and Roll, You just saw Elvis performing and you know he is the guy to beat when it comes to chart success.

What do you do?

Well you go to the cinema of course because that is what Buddy Holly. Buddy and his friend and band mate Jerry Allison went to the cinema where they saw John Wayne in probably his best movie “The Searchers”.

According to legend, Buddy Holly and Jerry Allison saw the movie “The Searchers” and heard John Wayne use the phrase throughout the film. One night, while Holly and Jerry were working together, Holly said to him that it sure would be great if they could write a hit song. Jerry replied “That’ll be the day.” Immediately inspired, they wrote the rock-and-roll song of the same name.

It was first recorded by Buddy Holly and the Three Tunes in 1956 and was re-recorded in 1957 by Holly and his new band, the Crickets. The 1957 recording achieved widespread success. Holly’s producer, Norman Petty, was credited as a co-writer, although he did not contribute to the composition. It would become Buddy Holly’s first number one hit single.

Meanwhile back in Liverpool, England. an unknown skiffle band called “The Quarrymen” picked up the song and recorded it as a demo track.

That Liverpool band would soon change their name to “The Beatles”.

Linda Ronstadt recorded “That’ll Be the Day” for her 1976 Grammy Award-winning platinum album Hasten Down the Wind, produced by Peter Asher and issued by Asylum Records. Her version reached number 11 on both the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and the Cash Box Top 100 and number 27 on the Billboard Country Singles chart. In Canada, her version peaked at number 2 on the singles chart and was the 35th biggest hit of 1976. It also made the adult contemporary charts in the United States and Canada.

I bought Linda Ronstadt’s single, but I have to be honest I didn’t only but it for the song but also for the cover. Hey what can I say I was a young boy .

Finishing up with the great man himself.

sources

https://www.songfacts.com/facts/buddy-holly/thatll-be-the-day

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The story behind Innuendo.

Some of you may not realize this but Queen only had 3 number 1 hits in the UK; Bohemian Rhapsody in 1975,Under Pressure in 1981 and 10 years later with Innuendo in 1991. Ironically their previous number one hit had been brutalized by a certain Mr. Vanilla Ice who used it for his Ice Ice Baby which only had been released a few months before Innuendo. Vanilla Ice completely denied that he used Queen and David Bowie’s ‘Under Pressure’ for his single. He must have realized though that even a deaf person could have heard he sampled the song.

Innuendo is one of Queen’s epic songs and their longest ever released as a single, exceeding “Bohemian Rhapsody” by 35 seconds.

Much like David Bowie’s Blackstar, to listen to Innuendo isn’t to be confronted with the sorrow of a man with one foot in the grave. Rather, the song and indeed the album comes off as the work of an artist staring sickness right in the eye and vowing to “keep working until I fucking drop,” as Mercury was once quoted as saying.

And from the sound of Innuendo, he meant exactly what he said. In many ways, Innuendo looked to be a triumphant continuance of the return to Queen’s early-Seventies hard-rock roots that began on 1989’s underrated The Miracle. Innuendo is also the only studio cut of the group’s to feature another guitarist: Steve Howe of Yes joined May in the song’s meticulously designed middle section.

On a break from a recording session in Geneva, Howe drove to Montreux and stopped to have lunch. There he ran into Martin Groves who had worked for Yes before and by this time was Queen’s equipment supervisor. Groves told him that Queen were in the studio at the moment.

As soon as Steve Howe went into the studios, Mercury asked him to play some guitar (according to producer David Richards, who had worked with Yes in the past as well). Another version is that Brian May was the one who asked him to play the flamenco bit.[5] When the members of Queen asked if Howe wanted to play on the title track, Howe politely suggested they’d lost their minds. It took the combined weight of Mercury, May and Taylor to persuade him.

According to Steve Howe:

“Inside, there’s Freddie, Brian and Roger all sitting together. They go: ‘Let’s play you the album’. Of course, I’m hearing it for the first time […] And they saved “Innuendo” itself until last. They played it and I was fucking blown away. They all chimed in: ‘We want some crazy Spanish guitar flying around over the top. Improvise!’ I started noodling around on the guitar, and it was pretty tough. After a couple of hours, I thought: ‘I’ve bitten off more than I can chew here’. I had to learn a bit of the structure, work out what the chordal roots were, where you had to fall if you did a mad run in the distance; you have to know where you’re going. But it got towards evening, and we’d doodled and I’d noodled, and it turned out to be really good fun. We have this beautiful dinner, we go back to the studio and have a listen. And they go: ‘That’s great. That’s what we wanted’.”

“Innuendo” began as a jam session in Switzerland amongst Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon in spring 1989. Freddie Mercury was upstairs and heard them playing the beat, and turned it into a song, creating the melody and starting off the lyrics. From then on all four worked on polishing the track and Taylor took over the lyrics (which were written as a tribute to Led Zeppelin and their song “Kashmir”)

The single was released on January 14,1991, hard to believe it has already been 30 years since I first heard that song. 10 months later Freddie Mercury died from bronchial pneumonia resulting from AIDS.

There will never be a singer and entertainer like him again.

sources

https://www.songfacts.com/facts/queen/innuendo

https://brianmay.com/reviews/innuendo.html

The Old Grey Whistle Test

The best known music show is without a doubt Top of the Pops, and even though the show was cancelled in 2006, there are still weekly reruns on BBC 4.Most people were surprised that the BBC cancelled the show because i was and still is very popular, there have been speculations though that it may return again.

However this blog is about another iconic and legendary BBC music show,’ The Old Grey whistle test’ It was commissioned by none other then David Attenborough and aired on BBC2 from 1971 to 1988. Unlike Top of the Pops, the whistle test had some more edgier music and catered more for rock fans and focused more on albums then hit singles.

The show hosted many seminal acts of the era, including the first British TV performance of Bob Marley and the Wailers as well as then little-known acts of whom any early footage is now considered precious, such as Billy Joel, Judas Priest (with a long haired Rob Halford), Wishbone Ash, Judee Sill, Heart, and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

The series was cancelled in the spring of 1987 by Janet Street-Porter, who had been appointed head of Youth Programmes at the BBC.[7] The series ended with a live New Year’s Eve special broadcast through to the early hours of New Year’s Day 1988; material included “Hotel California” by The Eagles, live from 1977, and “Bat Out of Hell” by Meat Loaf.

Many viewers think that the performances were always live but that was always the case, although for the vast majority they were.

On 23 February 2018, the BBC broadcast a special show, hosted by Bob Harris, to mark the 30 years since the legendary series was last broadcast. This live studio show featured music, special guests and rare archive footage. It featured performances from Peter Frampton, Richard Thompson, Albert Lee and others. Bob Harris chatted to Whistle Test alumni, including Dave Stewart, Joan Armatrading, Ian Anderson, Chris Difford and Kiki Dee, as well as fan Danny Baker.

BBC 4 regularly plays old episodes from the show and I am always amazed about the new things I learn. For example I never knew that Elkie Brooks and Robert Palmer were in a band together. The band was called ‘Vinegar Joe’

Whistle Test was also the British television debut of the American glam punk band New York Dolls. Their performance influenced the following punk rock scene such as the Sex Pistols and The Clash as well as alternative bands like R.E.M. and The Smiths and the glam metal scene of the 1980s.

David Johansen was the front man of this line up of the New York Dolls, David had some solo success later on under the name of Buster Pointdexter.

Brinsley Schwarz were a 1970s English pub rock band, named after their guitarist Brinsley Schwarz. They made an appearance on the Old Grey Whistle Test in 1973.

In case you are wondering who the singer and bass player is, it is Nick Lowe from such hits as “I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass” and “Cruel to be Kind”

By 1988 it was considered well past it’s sell by date however it was an influence on many music shows that came after such as Later With Jools Holland.

As mentioned earlier Bob Marley had his first appearance on the BBC on the Old Grey Whistle test. This was another thing I hadn’t realized, Peter Tosh was also a member of the Wailers.

It would be great to see a show like the Old Grey whistle Test again on TV, but I don’t think that the same caliber of performers are available nowadays

Sources

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006zbkl

https://pop-culture.fandom.com/wiki/The_Old_Grey_Whistle_Test

I would do anything for love(but I won’t do that) RIP Jim Steinman

There is nothing I can write that would do any justice to the legend that is Jim Steinman. Without him there would be no Meat Loaf, Bonnie Tyler and probably no Celine Dion either.

His songs were not just songs, they were epic mini operas. Something many people don’t know that aside from being a composer, he also worked as a producer and lyricist. In 1998 he produced the song “No Matter What” performed by Boyzone. It was taken from an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical ” Whistle down the wind” for which Jim Steinman wrote the lyrics for. Given the fact he has composed so many of my favourite songs I am willing to forgive his collaboration with aforementioned Boyzone.

The news broke today that Jim Steinman died on Monday the 19th of April. Rest in Peace Jim.

All that is left for me to do is to highlight some of his epic work.

Vortex-Open the Gate- Probably the worst Rock song ever, yet I still love it.

It is 1986 you get ready for your weekly dose of Heavy Metal on Sky’s Monsters of Rock. presented by Mick Wall.

You hear the opening theme ” Ice 9″ by Joe Satriani from his Epic album “Surfing with the Alien”

You sit back relax and get ready for an onslaught of Rock and Metal. Mick juts finished playing “Gonna get close to you” Queensryche’s cover version of a Dalbello song, one of those rare occasions where the cover is better then the original.

Then Mick announces a band from the Netherlands, called Vortex, the Dutch are not known for the abundance of Rock bands, So I have high hopes. ‘Vortex, who are they?’ I never heard of them, but they are on Monsters of Rock an international Rock show. They must be good.

Mick tell me the track is called “Open the gate” it is a bit of a cliché title, but hey I am willing to give it the benefit of doubt.

Four minutes of pure brutality follows, a brutal assault on my delicate ears. Would there perhaps by naked women in the clip, to soften the blow? No, just a few men and some dude singing into a bone, a character mash up between Mad Max and the Last of the Mohicans.

No redeeming features whatsoever.

Fast forward to 2021. I listen to the song again. It is just bad, in fact it is so bad it is good, I love it despite the lack of quality it did bring me back to that Sunday night in 1986.


It’s the Singer not the Song.

Vital Signs is a 1984 album released by one of my all time favourite bands Survivor. I was a bit reluctant to buy the album because Survivor had changed singers, from Dave Bickler to Jimi Jamison. However it turned out to be one of their best albums.

On it there was a track called “It’s the singer not the song” and I actually forgot how good that album and that particular track were.

I also think it is a true statement that a good singer makes the song. I was never a great Bob Dylan fan but I like a lot of his songs , sung by other singers.

This blog is a tribute to some of the finest Rock singers, well at least in my opinion. So sit back, relax and enjoy.

Happy Birthday Gary Moore

Robert William Gary Moore was born in Belfast on 4 April 1952,the son of Winnie, a housewife, and Robert Moore, a promoter who ran the Queen’s Hall ballroom in Holywood.He grew up near Belfast’s Stormont Estate with four siblings.

He credited his father for getting him started in music. When Moore was six years old, his father invited him onstage to sing “Sugartime” with a showband at an event he had organised, which first sparked his interest in music. His father bought him his first guitar, a second-hand Framus acoustic, when Moore was 10 years old. Though left-handed, he learned to play the instrument right-handed. Not long after, he formed his first band, The Beat Boys, who mainly performed Beatles songs. He later joined Platform Three and The Method, amongst others.[Around this time, he befriended guitarist Rory Gallagher, who often performed at the same venues as him. He left Belfast for Dublin in 1968 just as The Troubles were starting in Northern Ireland. A year later, his parents separated.

After moving to Dublin, Moore joined Irish blues rock band Skid Row. At the time, the group were fronted by vocalist Phil Lynott. He and Moore soon became friends, and they shared a bedsit in Ballsbridge.

After leaving Skid Row, Phil Lynott formed the hard rock group Thin Lizzy. After the departure of guitarist Eric Bell, Moore was recruited to help finish the band’s ongoing tour in early 1974. During his time with the group, Moore recorded three songs with them, including “Still in Love with You”

After Thin Lizzy, Gary Moore had a successful solo career. He is one of my all time guitar heroes. Unfortunately I never got to see him live, he died on 6 February 2011. I did get to see his brother Cliff Moore perform live in our local pub. In 1994.

Happy Birthday Eric Clapton

There are guitarist: amateur, professional, hobbyists, virtuoso and there is Eric Clapton. To me and many others the undisputed best guitarist ever. I don’t even mention him in my top 10list because he basically is a league on his own.

Eric Patrick Clapton, CBE (born 30 March 1945) is an English rock and blues guitarist, singer, and songwriter. He is the only three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: once as a solo artist and separately as a member of the Yardbirds and of Cream. Clapton has been referred to as one of the most important and influential guitarists of all time.

Eric Clapton was born on 30 March 1945 in Ripley, Surrey, England, to 16-year-old Patricia Molly Clapton (7 January 1929 – March 1999) and Edward Walter Fryer (21 March 1920 – 15 May 1985), a 25-year-old soldier from Montreal, Quebec.

After a brief encounter between 16-year-old Patricia Clapton and Edward Walter Fryer ,a 24-year-old Canadian soldier stationed in England during Second World War, Eric Clapton was born and then raised by his grandparents in Ripley, a village outside London.

Edward returned to Canada after the war and never knew of his famous son in his lifetime. Music was very much a part of his whole adult life, playing piano and singing in pubs at the time he met Eric’s mother in England. It was said he had a sound like Nat King Cole. Eric Clapton got an acoustic Hoyer guitar, made in Germany, for his thirteenth birthday, and musical history was made.

Elvis, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eddie van Halen and Jim Croce all influenced my musical taste in one way or another but it was Eric Clapton who defined it.

Celebrating his birthday with some of his music.

For my mum

On 20 March 1991, Clapton’s four-year-old son, Conor, died after falling from the 53rd-floor window of his mother’s friend’s New York City apartment at 117 East 57th Street. Conor’s funeral took place on 28 March at St Mary Magdalene’s Church in Clapton’s home village in Ripley, Surrey. This tragedy inspired Eric Clapton to write the song Tears in Heaven, which he co wrote with Will Jennings.

He even sounds great on a mash up of Billie Jean.