Category: long post

Freddie Mercury and Jane Seymour at Fashion Ai…

Freddie Mercury and Jane Seymour at Fashion Aid, 1985

So a while back, I posted some pics of Freddie Mercury, Jane Seymour, and Boy George at Fashion Aid, November 5, 1985 at The Royal Albert Hall. Organized by Bob Geldof following Live Aid, the guest list was just as impressive in its own way – Grace Jones, Jerry Hall, Kate Bush, Michael Caine, Ringo, George Michael, Zandra Rhodes, and many more.

Which made me wonder, were there more pics of Freddie and Jane in particular out there that I hadn’t found yet? OH YES THERE WERE!

(With lipstick on Fred’s cheek?)

AND THEN I FOUND THE VIDEO!!!

It turns out that the climax of the event was a faux wedding between Fred and Jane! In it, you can see that Freddie is not only shirtless but BAREFOOT as he sweeps Jane off her feet, into his arms!

You’ll see other celebs, as well as the full orchestra and choir who are dressed no less spectactularly.

This really is some pretty wild stuff. Sources for all this here, here, here, and here, all of which I did some additional editing on. Almost none had credits, but I’m thinking that most of if not all photos are by Dave Hogan.

Note that some of the sources I linked to just above had a LOT more photos in case you want to build a Freddie Mercury-Jane Seymour wedding album of your own!

Queen, “You’re My Best Friend” BY JOHN DEACON….

Queen, “You’re My Best Friend” BY JOHN DEACON. 

(The picture sleeve released in Yugoslavia in case you were wondering.)

John Deacon. That fluffy fella third from the left, seen at Ridge Farm in 1975, where the band was working on A Night At The Opera

Here’s another of him, via discodeaky (whose outstounding blog, these days known as @doktordyper, you should definitely get to know if you don’t). 

Fluffy.

He didn’t just play bass, though. When he happened upon a Wurlitzer electric piano (the Wurlitzer EP-200, NOT a Fender Rhodes as if often misidentified; they actually sound nothing alike), he asked Fred about it, who scoffed. “I refuse to play the damn thing. It’s tinny and horrible and I don’t like them. Why play those things when you’ve got a lovely superb grand piano?”

John’s response? “I took it home and I started to learn on the electric piano and basically that’s the song that came out, you know, when I was learning to play piano.“

(Quotes via songfacts, Wurlitzer detail via queensongs.info.)

The song we’re talking about is “You’re My Best Friend.” The first song he wrote when he was teaching himself to play the electric piano. 

And since Freddie refused to play the Wurlitzer, JOHN played the piano on the record that we know and love. 

He also layed down a righteous bassline (not at the same time, mind you), and the fact is, as often as we talk about John writing this really terrific song (the second single from the album), I almost never hear anyone talking about how well he PLAYED on it, too.

Not bad for a first try!

So, from the 40th anniversary re-release of A Night At The Opera, here’s the backing track for “You’re My Best Friend”. It includes some lovely vocals and some of Brian May’s sweetest guitar work (5 layers of rhythm, plus the lead, running through the legendary Deacy Amp, designed and built by John in 1972 and finally released commercially in 2010 – you can buy it online, at deacyamp.com!), but this stripped down version allows you to really hear what John was doing on piano and bass. 

TURN IT UP.

Freddie conceded that John was able to get a distinctive sound out of the Wurlitzer, but he was still having none of it. Not only did he ONLY play it on a grand piano in concert, in the official video release, we do indeed see Deacy at the piano, but it’s a GRAND PIANO, and NOT a Wurlitzer!!! Seriously, Fred was having NONE of it.

Whatever, man. It’s a heckuva track. Maximum Deacy, and don’t you forget it.

And in fairness to Fred’s dislike for the Wurlitzer, he slays this song vocally. The 1975 black nail polish look is also killer. 

By the way, John played keyboards on other tracks (notably “Another One Bites The Dust”), as well as guitar now and again (especially on his own songs for Hot Space), and really, that’s his story in Queen. Doing what he has to, and doin’ just fine, thanks for asking.

And fluffy.

source

“I sold my first strap to the amazing ROBERT P…

“I sold my first strap to the amazing ROBERT PLANT 1971!” by Jan Nicolas. “I had been working in leather for a while before I started making straps.  I had a few beautiful ones hanging in my studio/office.  Led Zeppelin were in town at the Continental Hyatt ‘riot’ House Hotel.  My friend Linda and I used to spend weekends hanging out in the coffee shop to star gaze.  In the evening, they had a line winding through the lobby to accommodate all the people who wanted to meet Rock Stars.  

“This was a pretty quiet Saturday afternoon, and I grabbed a strap that I thought would suit RP and we found him hanging out in the lobby with body guards, groupies and photographers.  

“I was so shy, that my girlfriend had to call him over to look at the strap.  He loved it, he paid $100 for it and gladly posed for a photo.  Happily, one of the magazine photographers was a friend, and took this picture for me.  I was still in high school, and I was  completely overwhelmed when Mr. Plant cuddled right up to me for the picture.  Now, it is my all time favorite.”

More here. My edits to the pictures she posted, but do click through for more of her amazing story.

The Original! The Move’s 1971 banger, “Do Ya!”…

The Original! The Move’s 1971 banger, “Do Ya!”

You’ve heard the 1976 hit version from The Electric Light Orchestra, a pop classic by any measure – but this stripped-down 1971 version by The Move SLAMS! It’s obviously the same song of course, but it really sounds beamed in from another dimension as peeling back all the layers reveals the downright weirdness at its heart. 

(Seriously, one of the weirdest songs ever to become a hit.)

Presumably you’ve already hit play and heard the biggest difference between this and the 1976 ELO version: that one had an orchestra and choir, and this one is just composer Jeff Lynne, Roy Wood, and drummer Bev Bevan BANGING. Although Jeff wrote it, the song’s original title was named for a spontaneous outburst of Roy Wood’s at the end of the song, “Look Out Baby There’s A Plane A-Comin’”. (Yes, that was the original title! I think “Do Ya” works better tho.)

(Tom Petty later told Jeff that he thought “Look out baby there’s a planet coming” was one of the coolest lyrics he’d ever heard, and was disappointed to learn the proper words.)

Although the song had been a staple in ELO’s live sets, they didn’t get around to recording it until 1976, after Todd Rundgren’s cover on Another Live became something of a hit itself in 1975 (with Todd repaying a favor to Jeff, who’d regularly been performing Todd’s early Nazz track “Open Your Eyes”). 

In fact, it was this original version’s complete lack of orchestration that landed the song with The Move rather than ELO. (Both Message From The Country and ELO’s debut were recorded more or less simultaneously, with the more orchestral tracks naturally landing with ELO.) 

Recorded December 19, 1971, and released as the B-side to “California Man”, it failed to chart in the UK, and in 1972, barely cracked the US Top 100, landing at #98. Its days as a chart-topper were yet to come.

I do love ELO’s 1976 version, and the 1975 version by Todd Rundgren’s Utopia (which I’ll discuss in full another day) might even be my favorite, but there’s something special and irreplaceable about the original “Do Ya” from 1971.

Turn this tf up, play it again, and let me know what you think!

Jimi Hendrix, “Hear My Train A Comin’”  You r…

Jimi Hendrix, “Hear My Train A Comin’” 

You really need to see this: Jimi Hendrix, December 1967, just turned 25 – and ever-so-slightly intimidated by a 12-string acoustic guitar! A delicate magic ensues.

Informed that they were almost out of film and needed to get this in one take, Jimi is unsure where to begin: the guitar belonged to director Peter Neal, and Jimi had never played one like it before. 

He looks up after picking around for a few bars and is startled to see the camera rolling. Clearly flustered, he stops. “Don’t waste all that film there! Stop it for a second! ‘Cause I was scared to death. Can I do it just one more time though? Can I do it just one more time?”

This time, his exploration starts on a little firmer footing as he eases into his never-quite-finished original composition, “Hear My Train A Comin’”. 

(For that matter, he never quite settled on a title. In virtually every live performance, Jimi introduced it as some variation of “Getting My Heart Back Together Again”.) 

Finding his way along as he bends the strings to follow his voice, and vice versa, he ends three minutes later with a laugh. “Did you think I could do that?” 

The answer seems obvious in retrospect, but Peter was honest later that he had no idea what to expect. “It was just one of those magic moments that happen sometimes.” More of Peter’s story behind the shoot here.

soundsof71: shareechilders: soundsof71: Iggy…

soundsof71:

shareechilders:

soundsof71:

Iggy Pop wears Jim Morrison, Los Angeles 1974, by Gijsbert Hanekroot

I thought they didn’t care for The Doors. Pretty funny.

The Doors, specifically Jim Morrison, actually inspired Iggy to start his first band! 

The relationship between Iggy and The Doors is a long one, too rarely told – so ima tell it here at length. LOL

Iggy had already dropped out of the University of Michigan, but used his student ID to get into a Homecoming dance where The Doors played. Jim Morrison came out after the rest of the band had already started playing, drunk and/or high, insisting on singing only in falsetto (wtf) and generally abusing the crowd – who booed, then left in large numbers. Details here.

Needless to say, this was right up Iggy’s alley. As he told an interviewer in 2011:

So, here’s this guy, out of his head on acid, dressed in leather with his hair all oiled and curled. The stage was tiny and it was really low. It got confrontational. I found it really interesting. I loved the performance but the music sounded terrible because they didn’t have the sound system together. They had a really unique style and it wasn’t easy for them to sound good live, at first. 

Part of me was like, “Wow, this is great. He’s really pissing people off and he’s lurching around making these guys angry.” People were rushing the stage and Morrison’s going “Fuck you. You blank, blank, blank.” You can fill in your sexual comments yourself. The other half of it was that I thought, “If they’ve got a hit record out and they can get away with this, then I have no fucking excuse not to get out on stage with my band.” It was sort of the case of, “Hey, I can do that.

(btw, “I can do that!” was also Patti Smith’s reaction to seeing The Doors in New York, although it took her a few years longer than Iggy to actually make her way to the stage, which she first did as a poet with guitarist Lenny Kaye accompanying her in – you guessed it – 1971.)

Iggy had a lot more Doors ahead of him, particularly as he developed a relationship with Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek.

The photograph above was taken at a Jim Morrison tribute concert in LA organized by Ray Manzarek on July 3, 1974, the anniversary of Jim’s passing in 1971. After playing some of the songs off his new solo album, Ray sang “Light My Fire,” then brought out Iggy to sing “LA Woman,” “Maggie M’Gill,” and “Back Door Man.” Can you even imagine what that must have sounded like? You’ll have to, because no recordings have yet surfaced. 

More details here, but in the meantime, here’s a photo that includes Ray playing with Iggy, via old-school-fools.

image

Right after this, Iggy was out of the Stooges, and signed Denny Sugerman to manage him. Denny had managed The Doors, and was managing Ray, who now retreated with Iggy for months of intensive rehearsals for a new band they hoped to form. (Info here, on Ray’s official site.) 

There was at least one more concert together in October, the “Hollywood Revival and Trash Dance” at the Palladium, headlined by The New York Dolls, and featuring Iggy, Ray, and a band they put together for the occasion – including James Williamson of The Stooges on guitar! Violence, chaos, and a general mess ensued, but, says Ray, the band “rocked like a motherfucker.” 

The band fell apart when Ray couldn’t find a way to fit his nuanced sound into James’s squall, closing what might have been a very interesting chapter in these fellas’ careers. (Details of the October show and the band here.)

I should note that a lot of information from this period is sketchy at best. There’s not even a solid consensus on who else played with Ray and Iggy at these various dates, although there’s some interesting speculation here.

Ray and Iggy apparently tried to form a band again in 1977, details here. Iggy’s 1977 tour had David Bowie playing keyboards, rather than Ray, and I have no idea what transpired between Iggy and Ray – both of whom wrote autobiographies, neither of which mentioned this period. 

In fact, Iggy’s autobiography doesn’t mention Ray at all, and Ray’s autobiography only mentions Iggy once, in the context of that University of Michigan show. “It was a total fiasco,” writes Ray, “but the sheer audacity and outrageousness of Jim Morrison convinced Iggy that a life of anarchic rebellion was the only way to fly…and he’s been doing it ever since.”

This is, needless to say, more explanation than most people need LOL but still not the whole story, not by a long shot.  Still, this is in fact the first time that I’ve seen even this much of the story gathered in one place. With the exception of the mysteries that I’ve mentioned that may never be revealed, the links I’ve included will get you a good long way down the road.

I’ve been meaning to write this for a while, so thanks for giving me the excuse. 🙂

George Harrison and Bob Dylan rehearsing “If N…

George Harrison and Bob Dylan rehearsing “If Not For You” before the Sunday afternoon show of the Concerts for Bangladesh, Sunday, August 1, 1971. It’s messy, but adorable.

Like The Beatles, Bob Dylan had quit touring in 1966. Unlike The Beatles, and apart from  a 1969 TV performance with Johnny Cash, and an appearance with The Band at the Isle of Wight, Bob had all but disappeared. While he was generally up for lending a hand to George’s effort, he wasn’t sure what to sing, and was even less sure if he was going to be able to pull himself together to even show up at the appointed hour. When George introduced him that afternoon, he was by no means certain that Bob would actually walk out. 

While they were working out which songs to perform together, “If Not For You” was an obvious place to start. A lovely tune that Bob introduced on New Morning almost exactly a year earlier (August 12, 1970), George covered it on his own album All Things Must Pass, which was the #1 album in the US for the first 7 weeks of 1971, and for the months of February and March 1971 in the UK

Neither Bob nor George released “If Not For You” as a single, but in May 1971, it was the debut single for 22 year old Olivia Newton-John. Based on George’s arrangement rather than Bob’s, it reached #7 in the UK, and in the US, #25 on the Billboard Hot 200, and eight weeks straight at #1 on Billboard’s Easy Listening chart! 

(Yes, I bought it. Yes, I still love it. Yes, I will post it later.)

Our boys passed on performing this for the big show(s), but this rehearsal is an enduring reminder that beyond being two of the all-time giants of popular music, and rock gods, they were also both just so incredibly fucking adorable.

Iggy Pop at New York’s Electric Circus, May 14…

Iggy Pop at New York’s Electric Circus, May 14, 1971, by Lisa Gottlieb. (Sources here and here.)

You’ll see references to these pics as from October 1970 (including the second source above), when the Stooges had indeed played Electric Circus, but nope, it was the May 14 show. This was the second of 2 nights, which the New York Times described as “triumphant” after a ragged first night. (Dig the Gerard Malanga pix as further documentation!)

Paul Trynka’s remarkable Iggy bio Iggy Pop: Open Up And Bleed adds some additional stories from legendary photographer, scenester denizen and Warhol/Bowie associate Leee Black Childers  (p. 119). “Leee savored the infamous performance at New York’s Electric Circus in May 1971, where Iggy looked particularly psychotic covered in baby oil and glitter. Gerry Miller, onetime topless dancer and star of several Warhol movies, shouted, ‘Let’s see you puke!’ at Iggy, in her squeaky, Mickey Mouse voice. ‘So he did!’ laughs Lee. ‘Right on her!’

btw, the source of that NYT clipping above is a YouTube post of a recording from that night. The vocals are nearly inaudible, but you can definitely get the gist of the more-melodic direction that The Stooges were taking that the Times described.“More melodic” for The Stooges is a relative term of course. This is still pretty damn hard core…

…so the next time you hear anyone talk about ANYTHING important about punk starting in 1977, you can laugh and laugh as you recall this wild night of stage-diving and puking on the crowd from 1971. 

I ain’t even saying anything important about punk started in 1971. Of course not. Punk was well underway by this point, and merely presented here in its full 1971 flowering for your glitter-soaked delectation.

Thunderpussy, “Somebody To Love”If you’re look…

Thunderpussy, “Somebody To Love”

If you’re looking for a contemporary band with a female-presenting name with roots in the crunchiest part of late 60s and early 70s, allow me to present the actual females of Thunderpussy, and their cover of the Jefferson Airplane classic!

The brand-new studio version is in fact terrific, but it put me in mind of the excellent version above from a KEXP performance recorded August 2, 2018. 

The fact is that I’m nuts about ‘em. Their eponymous debut album last year features prominently in my best of 2018 playlists over on Spotify (the short version here, the longer one here). 

They’ve done some stomping covers to start drawing a crowd beyond “Somebody to Love”, including the hardest-rocking version of “Taking Care of Business” you’ll ever hear (sorrynotsorry, BTO), from the movie Fighting With My Family (which I really enjoyed!)….

…but to my point about loving their record, their original songs are really where it’s at. 

I’ve offered two covers, so here are two originals.

First, “Speed Queen”, featuring a cameo from superfan Mike McCeady of Pearl Jam, who signed them to his label and produced (and played on) their first single. You won’t miss him, driving the Pontiac Firebird at around the 20 second mark,  chauferring the titular Speed Queen. He may pop up a couple more times, but I’ll count on the Pearl Jammies to school me on the rest.

I’m especially fond of bands who not only release eponymous albums, but feature eponymous title tracks. 

Here then is “Thunderpussy”, by Thunderpussy, from their album Thunderpussy.

Anyway, anyone who complains that there’s no great rock and roll being produced these days is probably only paying attention to contemporary men, who are in fact mostly really pathetic. 

MOST of the best rock and roll being produced today is by women, and, my fondness for Thunderpussy notwithstanding, a lot of the best of it doesn’t owe much at all to the past. Check out those Spotify playlists I linked to above for more details, but in the meantime, turn up the Thunderpussy! 

+++++++++

I should note that we’re coming up on a big day for Thunderpussy. Despite dozens of products and companies with Pussy in the name able to receive trademarks, the US Patent and Trademark Office is using Urban Dictionary, of all resources, to deny Thunderpussy’s trademark application because the term is “disparaging”. Not obscene. Just rude. Based on Urban Dictionary.

Riiiight.

I’ll be honest, the P word isn’t one I use, nor one that the women in my immediate circle do. If you use it as a slur, please unfollow me

Otherwise, the point is that other people who do use that word for their companies and products ARE receiving patents, and the one enitity that isn’t is the one entity who’s reclaiming it as a word of power for women. This is neither incidental nor accidental, but another act of hostility against strong women by the legal establishment.

The Supreme Court will be considering this as part of another case, with arguments set to begin this week as I write this (mid-April 2019), after a 5-year fight.

image

Photo via Seattle Times – check their article on the trademark fight here.

Even better, read this interview in Louderwire, which also goes into their musical influences and all kinds of other good stuff. Just a fantastic interview.

And don’t miss this editorial in Forbes, of all places, telling the Supremes to just suck it up and grant the trademark – way back in the summer of 2018! Yet here we still are….   Nothing Scandalous Here: It’s Time To Grant Thunderpussy’s Trademark

And for sure check out @Thunderpussiez on Instagram, including this great artwork by Ashley Longshore:

image

The remarkably unremarkable story behind one o…

The remarkably unremarkable story behind one of the most remarkable flourishes in pop music history…

…in which music professor David Mason plays a solo so perfect that even his peers didn’t believe he actually did it.

The Beatles were magpies, always looking for sounds they haven’t heard on pop records before, never moreso than in 1966 and 1967. Paul heard the solo played by baroque trumpet (an octave higher than typical ones) in Bach’s 2nd Brandenburg Concerto on television one evening, and asked George Martin to track the fellow down and get him to the studio as soon as possible.

David Mason was his name, and he arrived at Abbey Road on the evening of January 17, 1967. As the band walked into the session, David asked, “So, just come from a film set, have you?”, to which John replied, “No, we dress like this all the time.”

(David later playfully crossed John again when he expressed dismay that “Penny Lane” was being relegated to a b-side. “I think it’s better than ‘Strawberry Fields’, said David, standing next to John at the time. “Thanks, mate. *I* wrote that one!” As it turned out, “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields” were in fact released as a double-A side single, peaking at #2 on the UK’s official charts, although Melody Maker had it at #1 for 3 weeks, and listed “Penny Lane” rather than “Strawberry Fields Forever” as the band’s 13th #1. The same was true in the US, and indeed, it was only “Penny Lane” that was included on The Beatles’ 2000 anthology 1.) 

I’ll let you hear the rest of the story from David himself, noting his reply to the interviewer’s question, “How does it feel when you hear that solo today?” David answers, “Not to be immodest, but some people tell me it makes the song – and I think it does!” No immodesty there, Professor Mason. It does.

Along the way, David hit a high “E” note that had previously been thought impossible – hence his musicologist expert friends’ mistaken certainty that David had played a standard trumpet, with the tape sped up on playback to raise its pitch (a trick actually employed by George Martin for his own piano solo on “In My Life”, making it sound more like a harpsichord). Needless to say, that high “E” has since become expected from every piccolo trumpet player to this very day. 

David recorded twice more with The Beatles, on “All You Need Is Love” and “Magical Mystery Tour.”

And a quick note about the promo video for the song, directed by Peter Goldman. For all that it’s quite simple visually – the lads walking through the East End and Chelsea, with a sequence shot in a park in Sevenoaks, roughly 20 miles southeast of London – it was a significant departure from anything that had come before. No real narrative, no shots of them playing, only a montage of images that are barely related on any rational level, but creating an impressionistic unity that underscores the song’s emotional context. 

This is of course what music videos became more as the rule rather than the exception going forward, leading this clip (and the related clip for “Strawberry Fields”, also directed by Goldman) to be identified by the Smithsonian Institution as among the most important of the era.