Monday, October 27, 2008

Hey, Hey We’re the Monkees…

and we like to monkey around…Today in rock history, Last Train to Clarksville and The Monkees albums were certified gold in 1966. Their first single and first album both reached number 1 in the U.S. and proved to be a very successful start for the manufactured band.  I know quite awhile ago I promised a Monkees blog, and I guess today’s the day.  We’ve all heard the rumors and legends of Don Kirschner’s “PreFab Four” but I, in my middle teens at the time, was only interested in how they looked and how they sounded.  Like many teenaged boys in the mid-sixties, I was honing my “look,” and these guys, with their long hair, mod clothes and zany humor were fantastic role models for a would-be hippie like me.  Their show made watching TV on Saturday mornings cool again (hey, it wasn’t like I was watching cartoons or anything like that).  It wasn’t until much later, when the show had a revival in the mid-80’s, when I realized that they were a cartoon too.  While their antics and humor was indeed cartoonish, they pioneered the rock video, with their musical “vignettes.” A lot of folks (myself included) didn’t realize that, at first, even though they were all talented musicians (except for “Circus Boy” Dolenz, who had to be taught to play the drums for the show), they weren’t allowed to play their own instruments, only winning that right later in their careers when they had the album and ticket sales to back up their demands.  Against the better judgment of Kirschner and his ilk, they band went on tour early in the show’s run, to raving audiences and screaming fans, and managed to pull it off, performing as an early “power trio.”  When the TV show folded in 1968, the group fizzled, leaving behind a legacy of six gold albums, numerous reunion shows (I saw Jones, Tork and Dolenz at the MN State Fair in ’86, sans Nesmith, who declined to participate), and a lasting contribution to American pop music.  And just to show that they were fairly hip, here's a clip of Mike Nesmith and Frank Zappa, changing places (and noses).  Thanks to and for the info, and keep on rockin’!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Ooh, that Smell!

…The smell of death’s around you…Today in rock history, three members of the band, Lynyrd Skynyrd (named after their teacher, Leonard Skinner), were killed in 1977, in a fiery plane crash. Out of respect, their 1977 album, Street Survivors, was pulled from stores and re-released without the flames on the album cover that were smothering the band. More recently, the remastered CD version of the Street Survivors album used the original cover art work, flames and all. In another really weird coincidence, one of the singles from that album was called “That Smell,” from which you can draw your own conclusions (believed to have been directed at guitarist Gary Rossington, who did get drunk and drive his new car into a tree). The band came back from disaster and is currently performing with Johnny Van Zant, Ronnie's younger brother, at the helm, and a couple of the surviving original members, and continues to record music and tour today. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 13, 2006. Thanks to and for the info, keep on rockin’, and stay away from light planes!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Messin' With The Kidd

Today in rock history, Johnny Kidd was killed in 1966 in a car crash in Manchester, England, at the age of 26. Kidd and his band, The Pirates, first made the U.K. charts in 1959, with “Please Don’t Touch,” and again the following year with “You Got What It Takes,” “Restless” and the number 1 song, “Shakin’ All Over.” By the time the official British Invasion hit, Johnny Kidd and The Pirates had faded with Kidd finally leaving the group in 1966. But before Kidd died, in 1965, The Guess Who / Chad Allan and The Expressions would take their version of “Shakin’ All Over” into the top 40 in the U.S. And many years later, Billy Idol. "Shakin' All Over" was one of those songs that was covered by about just about everyone, including the Who on "Live at Leeds." A great song, and here are two versions, one by Mr. Kidd and one by Mr. Idol; they couldn't be more different! Enjoy! Thanks to for the info, and keep on rockin'!