Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Last of the Big Band Drummers

Luigi Paulino Alfredo Francesco Antonio Balassoni, better known as Louie Bellson, died a couple of weeks ago at the age of 84. While not really a rock drummer, he was a drummer nevertheless, and worthy of our recognition of the loss of one of the last of the great big band drummers. Of special interest to me was his pioneering use of a double bass drum set, at a time when that sort of thing just wasn't done. At the 2004 event celebrating his 80th birthday, Bellson said, appropriately for the inventor and pioneer of double-bass drumming, "I'm not that old; I'm 40 in this leg, and 40 in the other leg." Well said, dude, and you will be missed! Check out this vid of Louie in his prime, thanks to for the info, and keep on drummin'!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

My Little Red Book

Today in rock history, in 1968 the group Love hit the UK chart (on the way to #24) with their album “Forever Changes.” Arthur Lee and Love were another seminal influence on me as a 17-year old aspiring rock star (hey, 40 years later, I’m still trying to be a rock star!). I especially liked the little heart-shaped shades he always wore – the height of fashion in ’68! Love made its early appearances at the Whisky A Go Go and little-known club Bido Lido’s on the Sunset Strip. There, in the presence of such stars as Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and…Sal Mineo?… Lee and company honed their psychedelic soul sounds and stage show (rumor has it that Hendrix “borrowed” his outlandish style of dress directly from Lee). The band covered the Bacharach/David tune “My Little Red Book” and had an instant Southern California hit, along with “Seven and Seven Is” (when I was a kid I always said, “well, 14…”), and the rest is history. Mr. Lee, unfortunately, fell on some hard times after Love split up, serving 5 years of a 12 year sentence for illegal firearms possession from 1996-2001. He toured with a new version of Love in 2002, and died in 2006 of leukemia. Let’s celebrate Arthur Lee and Love with a couple of vids of their greatest hits from the later version of the band. Thanks to and for the info, and keep on rockin’!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Charlie Mac at the Hammond Organ, Part 3

I was able to buy a used "Leslie" speaker a couple of weeks ago to go with my vintage Hammond M-111. It's a Motion Sound Pro-3T, and it is essentially models the top rotor from a Leslie 147 (the bottom rotor is simulated). I wanted to shoot a little demonstration vid to show all my friends on the Organ Forum, who have been invaluable in helping me keep the ol' beast up and running (given all that can go wrong with these things, it's always a miracle that it starts up at all!). So here's a little "Midnight Hour," which shows again my limitations as an organist...oh well, I'll keep plugging away at it, and you all keep on rockin'!

Motion Sound Pro-3T

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Close to You

Today in rock history, February 4, 1983, Karen Carpenter died of heart failure as a result of anorexia, a month before her 33rd birthday. I don’t know if any of you remember how she looked at the end, it was pretty shocking, and helped to put national attention on the tragedy and human toll of this disease. A lot of folks don’t remember her as being a pretty good (ok, better than good, excellent!) drummer, before she took the mic and gave up the drums for lead vocals. And, since I’m a guy (and a drummer), I probably still have a prejudice against “girls” being really good playing a drum kit, but she really was. Whether or not you liked her music, you have to agree she knew her way around the kit (and check out that Ludwig Vistalite kit - similar to what Zeppelin's Bonzo used to play). So let’s celebrate her life, and check out this video of her pounding the skins. Thanks to for the info, and keep on rockin!