Monday, June 26, 2006

Rock Auction Results auctioned off over 1,200 lots of music memorabilia over this past weekend. The top lots included:

  • Bruce Springsteen's 1968 Handwritten Lyrics Book of 19 Songs - $57,706
  • Beatles Pay Receipt from The Top Ten Club signed by the original 5 - $45,192
  • Motortown Revue 1968 Detroit Concert Poster - $42,022
  • Beatles “Second Album” Promotional Poster - $23,970
  • Jimi Hendrix, The Who, The Doors, Singer Bowl Concert Poster - $23,165
  • John Lennon's "A Hard Day's Night" Suit - $19,809
  • Cream “Disraeli Gears” 24” x 24” Lenticular Flasher Display - $19,071
  • Grateful Dead/Janis Joplin "Trip Or Freak" Poster Original Art - $18,058
  • Kiss Ace Frehley’s Gibson Les Paul Guitar - $17,550
  • Bob Dylan Handwritten Letter to Jerry Garcia - $17,364
  • James Brown 1963 Apollo Theatre Concert Poster - $16703
  • The Beatles Autographed Royal Command Performance Backstage Pass - $15,521

Zappa Does Zappa

Dweezil Zappa recently lead a 10-piece band, which included members of his father Frank's Mothers of Invention, in a night of Zappa classics including "Chunga's Revenge", "Inca Roads" and "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow." The standout member of the band was Steve Vai with his solo on "Zombie Wolf."

In other music news:
  • Diana Krall and Elvis Costello have announced that they are expecting their first child in December.
  • The music of the Ramones will be hitting the London West End stage with "Gabba Gabba Hey!: A Lower East Side Love Story." Those working on the show include Angie Bowie, Tommy Ramone and Clash guitarist Nick Shepard.
  • One of the production greats, Arif Mardin, passed away on Sunday at the age of 74. Mardin spent the majority of his career at Atlantic Records where he produced everyone from Aretha Franklin to the Bee Gees ("Jive Talkin'") to the Young Rascals ("Groovin'") to Phil Collins ("Against All Odds"). His last venture was Manhattan Records where he signed Norah Jones.
  • ...and you thought that it was file swapping that led to leaks of new products. 42-years-ago today, United Artists was forced to release the Beatles "A Hard Day's Night" after the album was leaked to radio stations.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Phil Spector Trial Set for January

The murder trial of Phil Spector has been set to begin in January. Currently free on $1 million bail, Spector is accused of killing Lana Clarkson, who he had met for the first time earlier in the evening, at his home in February 2003. Spector is best known for creating the "Wall of Sound" on his Phillies label in the early-60's with such artists as the Ronettes, the Crystals and the Righteous Brothers. He also produced the Beatles "Let it Be" LP and George Harrison's "All Things Must Pass."

As the rest of the music world turns:
  • Aerosmith is in the studio recording a new album for release in early-2007. Steven Tyler's voice is supposedly in great shape and they are dipping back into the archives looking for songs that were never finished for other albums as inspiration.
  • Clydes Charles Smith, co-founder and lead guitarist for Kool and the Gang, died on Tuesday at the age of 57. Along with playing, Smith also wrote "Joanna" and co-wrote "Celebration" and "Hollywood Swinging."
  • Dave Brubeck, famous for his such pieces as "Take Five" and "Blue Rondo a la Turk" with his quartet, recently debuted his new big band at the JVC Jazz Festival in New York City. Brubeck is 85.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

"Tops of the Pops" Ends 42-Year Run

Over 42-years and 2000+ shows, nearly every important music star, from the Beatles and the Stones to Britney Spears, appeared on the BBC's classic countdown show "Tops of the Pops." Time, MTV and downloading seem to have taken its toll as the show will come to an end in a few weeks. Per the BBC, at one time it was a way to see the stars and hear the hits but today, with 24-hour music stations and music-on-demand, it became very tough to compete.

In other music news:
  • Well, it's not from the age of vinyl, but it is notable. American Idol winner Taylor Hicks sold 190,000 copies of his first single "Do I Make You Proud" in its first week. In second place? Nelly Furtado's "Promiscuous" which sold 6,000 copies.
  • Tomorrow (Thursday) is Kris Kristofferson's 70th birthday. As a triple threat (songwriter, singer, actor) Kristofferson has kept busy since the early and mid-70's when he had his greatest success writing songs like "Help Me Make It Through the Night", "Me and Bobby McGee", "For the Good Times" and "Sunday Morning Coming Down." In 1973, he confounded music listeners when his "Why Me" was named one of the top singles of the year by Billboard even though it never got higher than #16 on the charts. Although it wasn't a high charting hit, it spent nearly 3/4 of the year on the charts, an unheard of length of time in that day.
  • Although many say you can't disagree with the war and support the troops, Cher says she is by pushing for safer helmets for the soldiers. According to her, for the cost of $100 per helmet, they could be modified to better take the blast of a bomb.
  • On this date 51 years ago (1955), Johnny Cash released his first single "Hey Porter." In 1973, Bread played their final show after their equipment truck flipped, destroying $30,000 in equipment.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Memorabilia Auction Nets Big Numbers

Saturday saw the sale of hundreds of pieces of music and movie memorabilia by Julian's Auctions in a sale at both Planet Hollywood New York and Hollywood and on-line at eBay. On the movie side, Oddjob's bowler from Goldfinger went for $33,600 and James Bond's Lotus Esprit from "For Your Eyes Only" went for $210,000. On the music side:
  • Bob Mackie costumes for Sonny & Cher ($1,300 to $2,600)
  • Elvis & Priscilla Presley's marriage certificate ($8,000)
  • Elvis Presley Jaw and Frontal Skull X-Ray ($2,600)
  • Elvis Presley ring given to Jack Lord ($15,000). Necklace ($6,500)
  • Elvis Presley worn belt from 1972 ($55,000)
  • Johnny Cash set lists ($1,000 each)
  • John Lennon letter to Village Voice ($5,000)
  • John Lennon/Yoko Ono rare audio material talking with Village Voice and Howard Smith ($50,000)
  • Beatles concert poster for Cleveland appearance on August 14, 1966 ($6,500)
  • John Lennon owned painting ($17,000)
  • Madonna worn tube top ($5,000)
  • Bruce Springsteen hand written lyrics for "Point Blank" ($3,000)

Friday, June 16, 2006

When I'm Sixty-Four

Yeah, it was probably really fun to sing the song when you were in your twenties and it was so far away, but the future meets the present on Sunday when Sir Paul McCartney actually hits the magic 64 number.

As the rest of the music world turns:
  • Even though he is currently in rehab for alcohol, Ron Wood said that he will be with the Rolling Stones starting next month for their "Bigger Bang" tour.
  • David Lee Roth couldn't make it in morning radio, so he's trying something else new, Bluegrass Music. His new album "Strummin' With the Devil: The Southern Side of Van Halen" includes acoustic guitar and mandolin versions of "Jump" and "Jamie's Cryin'" along with covers of other Van Halen songs in a bluegrass style by groups like Blue Highway and David Grisman and Sons.
  • On this date in 1967, the Monterey Pop Festival kicked off. During the following days, classic live performances would be made by Janis Joplin, Simon & Garfunkel, Jimi Hendrix and many others.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Streisand's Cheap Seats

You may need that second mortgage on the house to go see the upcoming Barbra Streisand tour. Tickets range from $100 to $750 with special V.I.P. packages going for up to $1,800. For comparison, the average price for Madonna's tour is $357.84.

When I first started going to concerts in the early-70's, I paid between $6 and $8 to see acts like Elton John, The Who and Steppenwolf. I'm not sure that inflation can account for all that increase. I mean, I know Madonna has a lot of props and dancers, but I doubt Streisand will be attaching herself to a giant boxing glove while singing "The Main Event."

In other music news:

  • Peter, Paul and Mary will be receiving the Songwriters Hall of Fame "Sammy Cahn Lifetime Achievement Award." This is a bit of an out-of-the-ordinary award as the group didn't write most of their hits. The award, rather, reflects the impact the group has had over their career in support of the songwriters. Also receiving awards are Kris Kristofferson (Johnny Mercer Award) and John Mayer (Hal Davis Spotlight Award).
  • The Vocal Group Hall of Fame has another state in the bag as Illinois has recently enacted a bill making it illegal to for non-members of groups to tour as said groups without stating that they are a salute or tribute band. This follows similar laws in Pennsylvania and Connecticut.
  • The Beach Boys, Mike Love, Brian Wilson, Bruce Johnston, David Marks and Al Jardine, appeared together for the first time in ten years Tuesday to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the release of Pet Sounds. There is still a pending lawsuit by Love against Wilson over use of Love's likeness and the release of the Smile album.
  • Gary Glitter declared his innocence in a Vietnam court room Thursday on a charge that he molested children.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Bob Seger Releasing First Album in 11 Years

Bob Seger will be releasing his first studio album in 11 years on September 12th. "Face the Promise" may include a duet with fellow-Detroit resident Kid Rock.

In other music news from artists of the vinyl era:
  • The Standells have filed a lawsuit against Anheuser-Busch for the unauthorized use of their song "Dirty Water" in Budweiser commercials. They are seeking about one million dollars.
  • Stevie Wonder is one of the first to commit to playing at a July 27, 2007 concert at Ford Field in Detroit as part of an observance of the 40th anniversary of the Detroit riots. Gospel singer Kirk Franklin has also committed to performing.
  • Loretta Lynn broke her shoulder last Sunday due to a fall at home. She has canceled her June/July tour.
  • Barbra Streisand is hitting the road for the first time in over ten years in October and November for twenty performances. Some of the proceeds will be going to her favorite charities.
  • Forty years ago today, Big Brother and the Holding Company performed for the first time with their new singer, Janis Joplin.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Ringo Hits the Road With His All-Star Band

Ringo Starr is hitting the road once again with the ninth edition of his All-Star Band.

The tour begins on June 14th in Toronto and will last through the summer. This year's band-mates include Rod Argent, Mark Hudson, Sheila E, Richard Marx, Billy Squire, and Edgar Winter. If this tour is like those of the past, audiences will hear Ringo do his Beatles and solo songs while each of the members of the band will also sample their respective catalogs.

Elsewhere in the music world:

  • The Rolling Stones are being honored by the Stax Museum of American Soul Music for their contribution in exposing American roots music to the masses.
  • The Musicians Hall of Fame has opened in Nashville. It is dedicated to recognizing the great musicians and people behind the stars. There's more information at
  • On this date in 1958, "Johnny Mathis' Greatest Hits" went to number one on the Billboard Charts. It would stay on the charts for 490 more weeks, one of the longest running albums ever.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Billy Preston (1947-2006)

We've just heard that Billy Preston passed away today at the age of 59. Preston had years of kidney problems and had been in a coma since last November.

Preston was known both as a session player and a solo artist. He started his career at age 10 playing with Mahalia Jackson and played the part of a young W.C. Handy in the movie "St. Louis Blues." After backing the Beatles on the Let It Be sessions and playing with George Harrison at the Bangla-Desh concert, Preston broke out with a string of solo hits, including "Out-a-Space" (1972), "Will it Go Round in Circles", "Space Race" (both 1973), "Nothing From Nothing (1974) and "With You I'm Born Again" (with Syreeta, 1980).

In other music news:

  • Meat Loaf has filed suit against songwriter Jim Steinman and manager David Sonenberg for about $50 million over the trademark for the phrase "Bat Out of Hell." It seems he'd have a lot more luck suing American Idol for forcing him to do that terrible performance on the final show.
  • On this date in 1960, Roy Orbison released his first major hit, "Only the Lonely." In London, the Beatles auditioned for George Martin at the Abbey Road studios, playing "Love Me Do" and "Ask Me Why."

Monday, June 05, 2006

Montreal International Jazz Festival

Jazz. It ain't just combos and smokey lounge singers anymore. Blues, R&B and some rock acts are getting airplay on jazz stations and appearing on the festival circuit. This year's Montreal International Jazz Festival runs from June 29th to July 9th and includes many artists from the golden age of vinyl (and beyond).
  • Wednesday, June 28th - B.B. King 80th Birthday Event
  • Thursday, June 29th - David Clayton-Thomas (of Blood, Sweat & Tears)
  • Friday, June 30th - Gomez, Tony Bennett
  • Saturday, July 1 - Etta James
  • Sunday, July 2 - Martha Wainwright, Cat Power
  • Monday, July 3 - Elvis Costello & the Imposters
  • Wednesday, July 5 - Paul Simon
  • Thursday, July 6 - Commodores
  • Friday, July 7 - Bonnie Raitt, Keb Mo, Roots
  • Saturday, July 8 - Ani Difranco

Official Festival Site.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Music Shorts

The latest music news from the artists of the vinyl age:

  • Rod Argent is reforming the Zombies in the Fall (after his stint in Ringo Starr's All-Star Band). The idea took root when original lead singer Colin Blunstone was in the audience at an Argent charity show. On a whim, he got up and the two performed "She's Not There" and "Time of the Season." They followed with the recording of two albums and some touring in England. The Fall tour will mark their first in the US and Canada.
  • Vince Welnick, keyboard player for the Grateful Dead since 1990, died on June 2 at the age of 55. He was the fourth Dead keyboardist who has passed away while playing with the group. No, I won't be auditioning for that part.
  • Bill Withers will be receiving the Rhythm & Blues Heritage Award from the publishing group ASCAP. LL Cool J will get their Golden Note award.