Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Rolling Stones

Not many people are aware of just how MANY instruments the late Brian Jones played for the band.
A partial list: trumpet, harmonica, banjo, clarinet, keyboards, oboe, dulcimer, guitar(of
course!), and as shown in the video, xylophone.

One Hit Wonder # 1 - The Outsiders

One-hit wonders make up a huge part of rock history. The Outsiders are not only one of the more prominent of these , but also have the distinction of producing from their ranks yet another one-hit wonder,lead vocalist Richie Gerace , whom as the lead singer for the group Climax , gave us the '70s soft rock hit, "Precious And Few".

Chuck Berry

If you've strapped on a guitar and played anything even remotely related to rock,line up and thank St. Louis,Missouri's favorite son .

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Voxmobile

The Voxmobile was  promotional car built by custom automaker George Barris in 1967 for the Vox Corporation. Its sillhouette was a replica of the Vox Phantom Bass Guitar on both sides, equipped with three Vox Beatle guitar amplifiers with dash-mounted controls , a rear-mounted Vox Continental Organ , and hidden throughout the frame, a total of ten speakers ranging from 10" to 18". The auto was fully functional,powered by a 4.7 litre Ford  V-8 engine reportedly capable of 175 miles per hour.                         

The Escorts

Reginald Haynes formed the vocal group in 1968 while incarcerated in Trenton State Prison. A former church choir and street corner local talent, he recruited three other inmates the names of whom,even through my  best efforts are unfortunately unknown to me. (any assist would be appreciated) Two years later, the quartet were invited to perform as part of an entertainment package at Rahway State Prison,where they had been transferred.

In the audience was Linda Jones, who had a top 10 hit at the time entitled "Hypnotized".She was visiting her brother at the prison and was accompanied by her manager/producer George Kerr, who himself had formerly worked for Berry Gordy at Motown in that capacity.Impressed by the group's performance, he petitioned the prison officials for permission to record an album inside the prison. This was met with the expected resistance ,but their perserverance finally bore fruit two years hence,and sessions for The Escorts' first album, "All We Need Is Another Chance" were underway. The product was shipped in May of 1973 and by June that same year sold approximately 100,000 copies.
Haynes had been released from Rahway June 20th,1973. About a year later, a second album,"Three Down And Four Go", a reference to the remaning incarcerated group members ,was recorded like the first,from within the prison. After a brief solo career , yielding one release,"On The Wings Of Love", Haynes re-formed the Escorts , this time as a trio, with William Martin and LaGrant Carlos Harris. They toured under the name,"The Legendary Escorts" for a number of years and in 1993 recorded what was to be their final album, (or more correctly at this point,CD) titled, "Back To Love" . They are as of this writing still performing .

Monday, March 28, 2011

So You thought you knew The O'Jays...

True vintage material. Look Over Your Shoulder

Screamin' Jay Hawkins

Born July 18th, 1929 in Cleveland,Ohio, Screamin' Jay Hawkins was a classically trained pianist and opera trained bass-baritone singer. His best known recording,"I Put A Spell On You",was intended to be recorded as a tender love ballad. By all reports, he happened to be drunk at a session and ended up recording a very different rendition,replete with howls,screams and gutteral gibberish.Upon hearing the results , all involved decided it was a better version and should be properly recorded. Hawkins had to re-learn the new version because he said he had no memory of his alcohol-fueled performance. The release resulted in over a million copies sold ,but did not appear on Billboard's pop or r'n'b charts.
 He put together an outrageous stage show using  such props as skulls, chattering teeth, crawling hands, flame pots, and a coffin from which he would emerge at the beginning of his performances. He died February 12th,2002.

One can easily follow a direct line from Hawkins to Screaming Lord Sutch, a British singer inspired by Hawkins who performed in horror -themed make up and garb , and employed many prominent UK musicians, such as Ritchie Blackmore and Jimmy Page. From there you can trace the line to acts like The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, Alice Cooper , Gene Simmons of Kiss, and even Lady GaGa !

Classic Axes - Vox Teardrop

During the '60s The Vox Teardrop guitars and basses were the axes of choice for many British rockers.including Brian Jones and Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones and Tony Hicks of the Hollies.

The Temptations

A song by the man Bob Dylan called "the greatest living American poet", William "Smokey" Robinson
sung by possibly the greatest line up of vocalists to ever grace the genre. The Temptations .


Although music is what drives this blog,I would be remiss if I neglected the written word's role in understanding what makes us clap our hands,stamp our feet , or of course fling oneself off  the edge of a stage into a crowd. Therefore, I shall from time to time mention books that I've found to be good reads. Starting with these:

Standing In The Shadows Of  Motown by Dr. Licks - the story of Motown's legendary studio band ,particularly bassist James Jamerson.

British Invasion : How The Beatles And Other '60s UK Groups Conquered America by Bill Harry -  an in depth study of  how these acts influenced U.S radio, television and other media.

Anything by ex-pat British writer David Thompson - He's yet to write a bad book on all things rock and soul.

Rocket 88

They say this is where it all started.

By the Way

If there's anything you want to know about me , feel free...ask away...if I was such a private person , why start a blog in the fist place ,right? I'll answer one way or another.


Hello to all , John here. I'm a musician and more importantly a music fan. My particular interest is rock music and how it got from then to now. To be a little less vague, I'd like to discuss with like minded indiviuals subjects including , and not strictly limited to, early rock and roll, soul music, british invasion, and basically the many roots of the popular music we listen to today. Classic rock , '70s funk, and '80s new wave is also fair game . The evolutions of the music, styles, even musical instruments ripe for discussion. For example, Ringo Starr's pioneering use of the drum riser. Or how Screamin' Jay Hawkins eventually led us to Alice Cooper and Iron Maiden's mascot Eddie. Like the music, I'd like the blog itself to evolve, hopefully with your contributions, ideas, and most important, sense of humour. So  come on in and share your knowledge, opinions, books, recordings, links, and let's have at it. I'll start. Jump in anytime.