Today in rock history (7-29-08), Mama Cass Elliot died in 1974 from a heart attack. Her only solo hit was the song, “Dream a Little Dream of Me,” which received backing by the rest of The Mamas and The Papas. The song, and its parent album, were released to fulfil contractual obligations in 1968. It was the last hit recording by the band, making it to number 12. A popular legend about Elliot is that her vocal range was improved by three notes after she was hit on the head by some copper tubing shortly before joining the group, while they were in the Virgin Islands. Elliot herself confirmed the story; in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine in 1968 she said,
" It’s true, I did get hit on the head by a pipe that fell down and my range was increased by three notes. They were tearing this club apart in the islands, revamping it, putting in a dance floor. Workmen dropped a thin metal plumbing pipe and it hit me on the head and knocked me to the ground. I had a concussion and went to the hospital. I had a bad headache for about two weeks and all of a sudden I was singing higher. It’s true. Honest to God.” However, according to people who knew her well, this was not true - Elliot always had a standout singing voice. Her friends said that the pipe story was used as a more politically-correct explanation for why John had kept her out of the group for so long, because the real reason she was not accepted sooner was that John considered her to be too fat. After her death, an urban legend arose that Elliot died choking on a ham sandwich. Speaking to the press shortly after her body was discovered, the police noted that a partly eaten sandwich had been found in her room and speculated that she may have choked while eating it. When the coroner's autopsy was performed, no food was found in her trachea and the cause of death was determined to have been heart failure and that she had died in her sleep. But by then, the specious story was already making the rounds and the real cause of death was rarely discussed. Elliot died in the same flat, No.12 at 9 Curzon Place, Mayfair that The Who drummer Keith Moon would die in, a little over four years later. Ooh – déjà vu! I’ll bet that that flat goes for a pretty penny (or shilling, as the case may be) today, just for the morbid curiosity value! Here is Mama Cass singing her swan song. This is a rather swarmy live version from the Smothers Brothers Show in 1968. Truly icky! Thanks, as always, to HYPERLINK "http://www.garylessard.com" www.garylessard.com and HYPERLINK "http://www.wikipedia.org" www.wikipedia.org for the info, and keep on rockin’, carefully, and don’t sing with your mouth full!
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, I’m a big fan of Dave Lambert, who hosts the Roadhouse Jam at Renegade’s on Wednesday nights. Getting to know Dave a little bit, it seems like he is the consummate jammer – he’ll jam with anyone, anytime! Here he is sittin’ in with a guitar player known as Pistol Pete live from Bozley's Blues Jam on 6-1-08 doing a song called "The Highway is Like a Woman" – get ready for some searing, smokin’ blues! Keep on rockin’, and we’ll see you at Renegade’s next Wednesday!
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Just came back from the annual family reunion. This year's episode was held at my cousin's in Kansas City. My brothers and I started a tradition 3 or 4 years ago of having a big jam session while we're together - this is one of the few times we do get together every year. And we do get better every year...we managed to rehearse a bit and crank out 13 or 14 tunes and didn't sound too bad. I am ably assisted by brothers Mike on guitar and vocals (he just got himself a Martin, so I'm jealous)and Jack on guitar and bass. We were joined by my son Cody on drums, and Orion (my niece's husband) on guitar and vocals, so it's really a multi-generational affair. This year I debuted a couple of songs I wrote on the assembled family members - a captive audience, it's true. Here is a snippet of a song I wrote called the "Talkin' Bob Dylan Blues," and I dedicate this one to Mr. Whoamus, who is (and if you read his blog "Who Am Us Anyway?", you know) a big fan. Of Dylan, that is, not necessarily of my song stylings! Until next time, keep on rockin'!
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
… No, what you really are is…dead…Today in rock history, “Windy” by The Association hit number 1 in the U.S. at the beginning of the Summer of Love in 1967. It stayed there for 4 weeks, making it their biggest hit. The song was written by a friend of the band, while still in her teens, and was included as one of the 22 songs on a demo tape she submitted to producer Bones Howe. Ruthann Friedman also got to contribute some vocals to the successful track in an all night recording session. But tragedy struck on August 2, 1972, when Brian Cole, one of the founding members of the band, was found dead in his Los Angeles home of an overdose of heroin. Geez – what happened to him? Wasn’t the Association that squeaky-clean bunch who appeared in three-piece suits as the lead-off band at Monterey Pop? Kind of like a button-down version of the Beach Boys…Currently, the band includes Russ Giguere, Larry Ramos, Jim Yester, Del Ramos, Bruce Pictor, and most interestingly, Jordan Cole (son of Brian) on keyboards who joined in 1999. The Association still tours, playing up to 70 dates a year, mostly on bills with other similar styled acts of that era, like the Grass Roots, the Buckinghams, Tommy James, Gary Puckett, etc. In 2003, they were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame. Here they are with a live version of the tune from 1967 (no lip-syncing here!). Thanks to www.garylessard.com and www.wikipedia.org for the info, and keep on rockin’!